UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

April 8, 2009

BREVITAS


Tree Hugger - Eric Morrow, executive director of the Maendeleo Foundation in Uganda, operates a computer-lab-on-wheels that takes teachers to multiple schools each week to provide PC skills, training to up to 100 children per day. Topped with solar panels to re-charge the computers, the MSCC is a modified SUV with a foldable tent, tables, chairs and 15 Intel-powered classmate PCs. The foundation hopes to open the doors to better paying jobs and to spur an African-owned and operated computer services industry to boost local economies, decrease unemployment and help alleviate poverty.

MONEY & WORK

CEPR - A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research shows that unionization significantly boosts the wages of service-sector workers. The report finds that unionization raises the wages of the average service-sector worker by 10 percent, which translates to about $2.00 per hour. On average, unionization increases the likelihood that the average service-sector worker will have employer provided health insurance by 19 percentage points. Unionized service-sector workers were also 25 percentage points more likely to have a pension than their non-union peers.

MID EAST

Anti War -
Haaretz is reporting that in recent days, officials from the Obama Administration have been briefing Congressional Democrats that they expect a clash with Israel's new Netanyahu-led government over the Palestinian peace process. It was speculated that the briefing was an attempt to preempt an attempt by Netanyahu to bypass the administration and lobby Congress directly.

Anti War - Less than a week after declaring that the new Israeli government did not consider itself bound by the Annapolis Conference commitment to a two-state solution with the Palestinians, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman today declared that all peace talks with the Palestinians were "at a dead end." Minister Lieberman also cautioned foreign powers to "not interfere" in Israeli affairs, seen by some as a reference to President Barack Obama's comments in favor of a two-state solution. He insisted that Israel has "never interfered in the affairs of others, and we expect from others that they not interfere in ours." Speaking at the convention of his Yisrael Beiteinu party, Lieberman declared that most of the world had come to accept his ideas, and that the only people who take issue with them are Israeli leftists. His party gained enormously in this year's elections, on the back of Lieberman's pro-war statements and the demand that Arabs take loyalty oaths or lose their citizenship.

HEALTH & SCIENCE

Susanne King, Berkshire Eagle
- As we know from our Massachusetts experience with health care reform, preserving the role of private health insurance companies does not lead to universal coverage or contain rising health care costs. The Massachusetts reform program has not been affordable for the individual or for the state, and access to health care continues to be problematic, with nearly a quarter of the state's residents saying they had difficulty getting care in 2008. . . Four hundred billion dollars would be saved annually by eliminating insurance company profits and overhead, as well as the paperwork that burdens doctors and hospitals. Dr. Uwe Reinhardt said at a hearing before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, "We have 900 billing clerks at Duke (a 900 bed university hospital). I'm not sure we have a nurse per bed, but we have a billing clerk per bed. . . it's obscene."

POLICE BLOTTER

Star Telegram, TX -
A woman who ordered shrimp fried rice at A&D Buffalo's called police when she believed that she didn't get the extra shrimp she had requested. Cook June Lee said Monday that there wasn't anything wrong with the meal. She started yelling, and said that she wasn't happy," Lee said. The woman left the restaurant in the 4000 block of East Belknap Street and called for a patrol officer shortly after 3 p.m. But when the officer arrived, the woman and her boyfriend were gone. . . In March, a woman was cited by police in Florida for misuse of a 911 system when she called dispatchers to complain that she couldn't get a refund when a McDonald's ran out of McNuggets and offered her a McDouble instead.

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