Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who 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

June 30, 2009



Dow Jones -
Painkillers such as Tylenol will go under a microscope next week as federal regulators and medical experts debate how to limit liver injury in patients who take the medicines. A lot is at stake. At issue is an ingredient called acetaminophen, a drug found in over-the-counter painkillers such as Excedrin and a host of cough medicines like NyQuil and Theraflu, that can cause liver damage. Acetaminophen is the most widely used drug in America. . . Among the options: reduce recommended dosing levels, limit the number of pills or liquid in each drug containing acetaminophen, and eliminate medicines that combine acetaminophen with other ingredients.


Robert Kuttner, Huffington Post -
The reform package, as drafted by the Obama administration and the House leadership, is dubious legislation even with the inclusion of a public option. Basically, it leaves the two worst aspects of the system intact. First, private insurers will continue to dominate. Second, most people will continue to get their insurance through their employers. Given these two bedrock realities, there is no way that the bill can make serious inroads on cost without cutting back on care. The high cost of the approach is already causing key legislators to back off. . . .

Also, as my American Prospect colleague Paul Starr warns, a mixed system with a public option effectively invites the most expensive and hard-to-treat people to opt for the public plan, while private insurers will seek to insure the young and the healthy. This is a familiar problem known as adverse selection. The private insurers will then smugly point out that the public plan is less "efficient," when in fact it simply will have a more costly population. The only way to avoid this problem is to have everyone in the same universal plan--what's otherwise known as a single-payer plan.


- The New York Court of Appeals agreed to hear arguments in the case of Goldstein v. New York State Urban Development Corporation, which deals with the controversial use of eminent domain on behalf of developer and New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner. Ratner is the real estate powerbroker behind the Atlantic Yards redevelopment project in Brooklyn, a massive boondoggle centered on a new basketball arena for the Bruce Ratner-owned Nets. Last Monday, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which controls a crucial 8-acre rail yard at the center of the Atlantic Yards footprint, offered Ratner a massively discounted new offer, whereby he would pay just $20 million up front for the land, then pay another $80 million over the next 22 years. Three years ago, however, the MTA wanted the full $100 million up front (and that's for 8-acres that have been appraised at over $200 million). Bear in mind that the MTA just raised subway and bus fares, yet somehow still has the cash to bail out Ratner and his lousy corporate welfare arena. As for Ratner, he still needs to raise over $500 million and break ground before the end of the year in order to qualify for tax-exempt status. So it's wonderful news that he'll be tied up in court trying to explain away eminent domain abuse while the clock keeps ticking away.

- Property rights were probably the last thing on President Barack Obama's mind when he selected Judge Sonia Sotomayor . . . But that hasn't stopped Sotomayor's nomination from reigniting the long-simmering national debate over the use and abuse of eminent domain. The controversy centers on Sotomayor's vote in a 2006 eminent domain case, Didden v. Village of Port Chester. New York entrepreneur Bart Didden says Port Chester condemned his land after he refused to pay $800,000 (or grant a 50 percent stake in his business) to a developer hired by the village. One day after Didden refused to pay those bribes, Port Chester began eminent domain proceedings against him. As University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein put it, "The case involved about as naked an abuse of government power as could be imagined." But that didn't stop Judge Sotomayor and two of her colleagues on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals from upholding the district court decision that ruled in favor of the village. Still, this ugly decision wasn't entirely without precedent. Didden came on the heels of the Supreme Court's notorious 2005 decision in Kelo v. City of New London, which endorsed the government's power to seize property from one private party and hand it over to another so long as the taking was part of a "comprehensive" redevelopment scheme. That decision sparked nationwide outrage on both sides of the political aisle, including the passage of laws protecting property rights from Kelo-style abuse in 43 states.


- A total of 7.5% of [Northern Ireland] teenagers surveyed for a Queen's University study say they had tried cocaine at least once by the age of 16. Four thousand teenagers in 43 schools in NI, have taken part in the Belfast Youth Development Survey each year since entering post-primary education. Dr Patrick McCrystal from Queen's said it showed the profile of cocaine users may be changing. He said of those who had taken it "only one in 10 used it on a weekly basis". . . He said that "in the 1990's the typical cocaine user was single, in their 20s, well-educated, and in a well-paid professional job. In this study, however, more than half of those who had experimented with the drug were females, and one third had experienced social deprivation."




- E Magazine reports on the disputed condition known as orthorexia nervosa, in which people become obsessed with healthy eating habits to the point of developing an eating disorder. Orthorexia nervosa begins with a benign, even beneficial drive toward improving one's diet. But over time, "even if physical and emotional health begin to falter, the sufferer continues a harsh dietary regime," E reports. "Eventually, the all-consuming drive for nutritional purity can become a kind of spiritual quest." Not all doctors and nutritionists are convinced that orthorexia nervosa is a real condition. E cites Doctor Kelly Brownell, codirector of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders, who writes on WebMD that in 20 years of working in the field, no one has ever come into the clinic with orthorexia.


Housing prices have fallen
to their 2003 levels



The same week that “our” government in Washington told the Governor of California “not one red cent,” President Barak Obama handed over $2.775 billion to Israel.
Paul Craig Roberts

Israel Kidnaps Peace Boat Crew
Pirates of the Mediterranean

July 1, 2009 6:11 PM  
Anonymous pay your own fucking way said...

We need to cut these arrogant pricks off so fast it'll make their mothefucking heads spin!.

July 1, 2009 6:15 PM  

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