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

May 4, 2009



- Fifty years ago. Some great jazz was caught on camera that year: Ahmad Jamal Trio: Darn That Dream (1959); Horace Silver: SeƱor Blues (1959); Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers: Night in Tunisia (1959); Gerry Mulligan/Art Farmer: Moonlight In Vermont (1959); Miles Davis / Gil Evans Orchestra (1959); Bud Powell with Kenny Clarke - Get Happy (1959); The Future of Jazz TV show: Billy Taylor/George Russell/Bill Evans/etc. (1959 or possibly 1958).

The head of the DC public libraries, Ginnie Cooper, has been on a book selling spree. A couple of libraries have revolted, including the Cleveland Park branch, which has been buying back its own books from Amazon, probably with funds from its Friends of the Library. But as Bruce Suderow reports in DC Watch: "Unfortunately for every library that is trying to undo Cooper's mischief, there are ten that support her decisions, probably out of fear. One branch head told me flatly, 'I'm a company man.'"


- Next week, porn star Stormy Daniels launches her "Listening Tour" across Louisiana. The star of such films as "Operation Desert Stormy" will appear in Baton Rouge and New Orleans in order to "meet with Louisiana men and women and listen to the issues and concerns they struggle with everyday" and gauge a potential run against Sen. David Vitter (R.). The untraditional path into politics for Daniels, a 29-year-old with no party affiliation at present, began in February when fans launched the website DraftStormy.com to encourage a run. . . Daniels hopes that her career as a porn star (and producer, writer and director) won't prove much of a hindrance, since Vitter has some sexual history of his own


J. Raimondo, Anti War - Israeli spying in the U.S. is a subject the American media has not dared cover. Except for Antiwar.com and a few other sources, coverage of the Rosen-Weissman case has been sketchy to nonexistent. . . The decision to drop this case was clearly made at the top, not by the local prosecutors. Indeed, there was reportedly an energetic internal debate. The lawyers for Rosen and Weissman, for their part, clearly credited the Obama administration for the decision to quash the case, as the Washington Post reported. . . Whether this case was dropped because it became a trading card in Obama's increasingly contentious relations with the Israelis or because it was the victim of Israel's increasingly aggressive intervention in American politics we'll leave for future historians to decide. What is clear, at this point, is that it is now effectively legal for AIPAC and its allies to function quite openly as an intelligence-gathering entity for the Israeli state. The line between lobbying and espionage has been erased, at least as far as Israel's activities in the U.S. are concerned.


- he more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey. More than half of people who attend services at least once a week -- 54 percent -- said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is "often" or "sometimes" justified. Only 42 percent of people who "seldom or never" go to services agreed, according to the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified -- more than six in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only four in 10 of them did.

ABC News
- As the secrets about the CIA's interrogation techniques continue to come out, there's new information . . . two private contractors who were apparently directing the brutal sessions that President Obama calls torture. . . According to current and former government officials, the CIA's secret waterboarding program was designed and assured to be safe by two well-paid psychologists now working out of an unmarked office building in Spokane, Washington. Bruce Jessen and Jim Mitchell, former military officers, together founded Mitchell Jessen and Associates. Both men declined to speak to ABC News citing non-disclosure agreements with the CIA. But sources say Jessen and Mitchell together designed and implemented the CIA's interrogation program.


Denver Post
- Criminal charges against a junior at Dakota Ridge High School, who wore a T-shirt saying "NOBAMA" before an appearance and speech last fall by Michelle Obama at the school, were dropped. Blake Benson, 17, was one of three students at the school who chose to "stay and campaign" for Sen. John McCain when Michelle Obama spoke at the school on Nov. 3. At the time of his arrest, Benson was holding a McCain-Palin campaign sign. He was handcuffed and taken to the school's administrative office, said Dan Recht, a Denver lawyer who took the case on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Benson. . . "There is no more classically protected speech than peacefully protesting against one candidate and for another," said Recht. "What Blake Benson was doing is as American as apple pie." Jacki Kelley, spokesperson for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, said that the decision to drop the charge was made three weeks after the incident after a consultation with the Jefferson County district attorney's office.


- Silvio Berlusconi has demanded an apology from his wife after she accused him of "consorting with minors" and said she wanted a divorce.
The Italian prime minister, 72, told the Corriere della Sera that he did not think their marriage could survive. Veronica Lario spoke out after her husband attended the 18th birthday party of a friend's daughter. She has also clashed with her husband over his choice of inexperienced but attractive female election candidates. "Veronica must apologise publicly - and I don't know if that will be enough," Mr Berlusconi said in an interview with the Italian daily newspaper. "It is the third time she has done this to me in the middle of an election campaign. It's too much," the billionaire prime minister said.


Seminal - Sen. Ben Nelson said that he will oppose the creation of a government-run health insurance plan as part of a health care overhaul, contrary to the position held by many of his fellow Democrats. Nelson, D-Neb., said he may try to assemble a coalition of like-minded centrists opposed to the creation of a public plan, as a counterweight to Democrats pushing for it. He said he does not believe a majority of the Senate supports the idea. . . Open Secrets says Nelson received $608,709 from the insurance industry in 2007-2008, making the insurance industry his biggest donor group, more than lawyers and even lobbyists.


- The French spend more time sleeping and eating than anyone else among the world's wealthy nations, according to a study published on Monday. The average French person sleeps almost nine hours every night, more than an hour longer than the average Japanese and Korean, who sleep the least in a survey of 18 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Despite their siesta habit, Spaniards rank only third in the poll after Americans, who sleep more than 8.5 hours. And while more and more French people grab a bite at fast-food chains these days or wolf down a sandwich at their desk, they still spend more than two hours a day eating.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe after we get some pornstar politicians we can start electing scientists and atheists.

I'll take anything just so long as we get rid of the lawyers.

May 5, 2009 2:26 AM  
Anonymous Mairead said...

Criminal charges against a junior at Dakota Ridge High School, who wore a T-shirt saying "NOBAMA" before an appearance and speech last fall by Michelle Obama at the school, were dropped.What prevents people from understanding that the arrest was the whole point?

The real criminals won!

They stopped Constitutionally protected political speech and suffered no repercussions. Which means they're free to do it again and again and again as many times as they like.

Why can't people -even ACLU lawyers, apparently- see that?

May 5, 2009 8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mairead has certainly made an astute observation. Kudos to Mairead.

May 7, 2009 10:14 AM  

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