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

July 4, 2009



Daily Green
- A new analysis by a geophysicist at the Centre for Ice and Climate at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen, using everything from ice cores and tree rings to the logs of 16th century ocean voyages, concludes that the extent of ice in the Arctic is lower today than at any time in the last 800 years. The new record stretches back to the 13th century, when Genghis Khan was spreading war (and his seed) across Asia.

Tree Hugger -
Gas prices in Turkey are among the highest -- if not the highest -- in the world. . . The SAHI.MO is a hydrogen-powered car built by students from Sakarya University in northwestern Turkey. Last year, it was voted the third-most fuel-efficient vehicle in the 26th Shell Eco Marathon, an annual race across Europe. . . The SAHI.MO cost $170,000 to build and weighs just 110 kilograms. The 40-member SAI.TEM team previously created a solar-powered Grand-Prix-style race car called the SAGUAR and has also experimented with solar-powered boats.


Neiman Watchdog
-The Aug. 1 implementation date for the new, Post-9/11 GI Bill is fast approaching.. . . Brian Hawthorne, D.C. Director for the advocacy group Student Veterans of America, said. . . a number of veterans, he said, held off on entering college until the new bill took effect. The Department of Veterans Affairs has projected a 20 to 25 percent increase in participants in its academic programs, and anticipates that up to 460,000 veterans will use the Post-9/11 GI Bill in its first year. . . Nearly 700 colleges voluntarily signed on to the program before its mid-June sign-on deadline. In agreeing to the Yellow Ribbon Program, colleges enter into a dollar-for-dollar matching agreement with the federal government, and can select what portion of the remainder they will fund.


Tip to the Orlando Sentinel:
better fire this reporter before he gets in trouble. . . Walter Pacheco, Orlando Sentinel - Boys growing up with popular names such as Michael, Joshua and Christopher have a good chance of leading law-abiding lives. But young men named Kareem, Walter or Ivan could run afoul of the law. That's according to a recent study that claims the more unpopular, uncommon or feminine a boy's first name, the greater the chance he will end up behind bars.

Reporters Committee for Free Press - Starting in September, Michigan jurors will no longer be allowed to send text messages, tweet or engage in other forms of electronic communication during trials. The Michigan Supreme Court established the new rule in an attempt to prevent distraction and outside information from influencing trial outcomes, according to the National Law Journal. The new rule requires that jurors be instructed ahead of time that electronic devices like Blackberrys and iPhones may not be used in the jury box or during deliberations.

NY Times -
Current and former top Central Intelligence Agency officers have appeared before a federal grand jury in Virginia as part of an 18-month investigation into the agency's destruction of 92 videotapes depicting the brutal interrogations of two Qaeda detainees. The witnesses recently called by the special prosecutor, former government officials said, include the agency's top officer in London and Porter J. Goss, who was C.I.A. director when the tapes were destroyed in November 2005. . . The court appearances are tied to a criminal investigation led by John L. Durham, whom the Justice Department appointed in January 2008 to investigate the destruction of the tapes. The tapes had shown C.I.A. officers using harsh interrogation methods, including waterboarding. . . Mr. Durham has shrouded his investigation in a level of secrecy rare even by the normally tight-lipped standards of special prosecutors, and after 18 months it is still difficult to assess either the direction or the targets of his investigation.


New Scientist -
Tough policing of the illegal drugs market may have the perverse effect of making drugs more affordable and thereby encouraging people to use them, according to a new model of the dynamics of this market.

The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled in favor of a man fired for using marijuana off duty from his job as Department of Corrections employee.
John Ahmann had a spotless record. But a random drug test he took came back positive for marijuana. He was then fired from his job. The court ruled that the firing was wrong, citing Ahmann's willingness to stop using the drug and because he used it off-duty, which required his employer to consider other discipline.


The Recorder -
In case it wasn't clear before, walking into the 60-foot Burning Man effigy isn't a safe thing to do. Just ask Anthony Beninati, who got literally burned in 2005 after venturing too close to the giant wooden fellow while on his third trip to the Burning Man festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert. Beninati sued for damages. But San Francisco's 1st District Court of Appeal doused his hopes after finding that the "college-educated" man had assumed the risk of harm by walking directly into the effigy while remnants of it were still burning. "The risk of injury to those who voluntarily decide to partake in the commemorative ritual at Burning Man is self-evident," Justice Ignazio Ruvolo wrote. Justices Timothy Reardon and Patricia Sepulveda agreed.


Marc Abrahams, Guardian, UK - Scientists who struggle to get their reports published, or to get anyone to pay attention to them, might consider the path blazed by Dr Mohamed El Naschie. El Naschie found an appreciative science journal editor. The editor subsequently published hundreds of El Naschie's studies, and also made El Naschie a glamorous figure - featuring him in lavish photo-spreads in the company of famous scientists and powerful world leaders. The science journal is called Chaos, Solitons & Fractals. Its founding editor-in-chief is Dr Mohamed El Naschie. A 19-page pictorial in the August 2005 issue shows El Naschie in the company of numerous Nobel laureates, and also of many medals, plaques, certificates and floral arrangements. . . Recently, and suddenly, El Naschie became former editor-in-chief. The journal's publisher, Elsevier, announced laconically on its website that "Dr MS El Naschie has retired" and that "for the moment, we are not accepting any new submissions to the journal Chaos, Solitons and Fractals".


Anonymous robbie said...

I hope Otis Maguire turns out allright.


July 5, 2009 5:14 PM  

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