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 14, 2009



New Scientist -
People watching CCTV images back in the control rooms often have too many screens to monitor at once, and so may miss the criminal or antisocial activities they are there to spot. To the rescue of Big Brother's limited attention capabilities come Ulas Vural and Yusuf Akgul of the Gebze Institute of Technology in Turkey, who have developed a gaze-tracking camera system that watches the eyeballs of CCTV operators as they work. It then automatically produces a summary of the CCTV video sequences they have missed during their shift. "This increases the reliability of the surveillance system by giving a second chance to the operator," the researchers write in the journal Pattern Recognition Letters. The system uses webcam-style cameras trained on the irises of the CCTV operators. From this, software works out where the operators are looking as they stare at each monitor - and the areas they have not been paying attention to. From this it creates a video of what they missed, for them and their bosses to watch at the end of their shift.


Christian Science Monitor
- For the first time in a quarter century, the number of African-Americans incarcerated for drug offenses in state prisons has declined more than 20 percent while the number of white imprisoned drug offenders has increased more than 40 percent. The decline took place over a six year period from 1999 to 2005 and reflects fundamental changes in the so-called "war on drugs" - how it's targeted and prosecuted - as well as the waning of the crack epidemic in predominantly minority urban areas and the increase in methamphetamine abuse in largely white rural neighborhoods


Richard Winton, LA Times
- Civil rights activists called for the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and sheriff to close the Men's Central Jail, where they say nightmarish conditions and overcrowding have exacerbated the symptoms of thousands of inmates suffering serious mental illness. American Civil Liberties Union leaders made the call as they released a report by an expert on mental health in jails that paints the aging Men's Central Jail in downtown L.A. as a massively overcrowded center where the mentally ill are abused, kept in their cells for much, if not all, of the day, and instead of being treated are subject to discipline


Tree Hugger -
With too many [Santa Monica] gardeners filling up the waiting list for community gardens, it's taking as long as 5 years to finally get a plot of dirt to grow veggies. So gardeners and city officials started a registry to connect homeowners willing to have their yards turned into gardens with the people who are willing to do the gardening.


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