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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

January 13, 2010

BREVITAS

ORWELLANDIA 

Daily Mail - A wealthy businessman was arrested at home in front of his wife and young son over an email which council officials deemed 'offensive' to gipsies - but which he had not even written. The email, concerning a planning appeal by a gipsy, included the phrase: 'It's the 'do as you likey' attitude that I am against.' Council staff believed the email was offensive because 'likey' rhymes with the derogatory term 'pikey'. The 45-year-old IT boss was held in a police cell for four hours until it was established he had nothing to do with the email, which had been sent by one of his then workers, Paul Osmond. . . Chief Inspector Heather Keating said: 'Sussex Police have a legal duty to promote community cohesion and tackle unlawful discrimination.

POLITICS

Former Providence mayor Buddy Cianci Jr, released from prison after serving a four year prison term in 2007, is talking about running against Rep. Patrick Kennedy. Things never change in those parts. 

Maine Public Broadcasting - The field of candidates vying to become Maine's next governor stretched to 22 today. Enter Steve Abbot, a former top aide to Sen. Susan Collins, and William Beardsley, the former president of Husson College in Bangor. 

Politico - Washington's influence industry is on track to shatter last year's record $3.3 billion spent to lobby Congress and the rest of the federal government " - and that's with a down economy and about 1,500 fewer registered lobbyists in town, according to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics. Many lobbying firms have escaped the worst of the corporate belt-tightening, thanks, in large part, to the ambitious agenda set out by President Barack Obama " - who, ironically, came to Washington with a pledge to break what he considered the undue influence of special-interest lobbyists. . . "Lobbyists love it . . . when you've got an activist agenda like this, and you've got serious problems like this, and people want to do something about it," said James Thurber, director of American University's Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies. "It is the most active time that I have ever seen in the advocacy business "


HEALTH

Raw Story - Of some 84,000 chemicals being used commercially in the United States, some 20 percent -- or 17,000 -- are kept secret not only from the public, but from medical professionals, state regulators and even emergency responders, according to a report at the Washington Post. . . A 1976 law, the Toxic Substances Control Act, mandates that manufacturers report to the Environmental Protection Agency any new chemicals they intend to market, but manufacturers can request that a chemical be kept secret if disclosure "could harm their bottom line," the Washington Post reports. Because they are secret, it's impossible to tell how many of the 17,000 chemicals are potentially harmful to people. But the Post notes that, in March of last year, more than half of the "substantial risk" reports filed with the EPA involved secret chemicals.

ABC News - Researchers have found clusters of autism in 10 areas around California -- but with no suggestion of a link to local pollution or other environmental exposures, they said. Instead, the only consistent factor among the areas -- identified largely in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay region -- was a population of well-educated parents, Karla Van Meter of the University of California Davis and colleagues found. In six of the clusters, a college-educated parent conferred a risk of autism that was more than four times as great as a parent who didn't graduate from high school, they reported online in Autism Research. . . Parents with higher education are likely to be better insured and more attuned to seek diagnosis and services for their autistic children than less-educated parents -- an effect seen in prior studies, the researchers said.

MONEY & WORK

NPR - More than half of black males between the ages of 16 and 19 are unemployed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And that's only counting those seeking work. Economists say legions of other young black men - nobody knows how many - have given up looking.

MID EAST

New America Media - In Falluja, which was heavily bombarded by the US in 2004, as many as 25% of new- born infants have serious abnormalities, including congenital anomalies, brain tumors, and neural tube defects in the spinal cord. The cancer rate in the province of Babil, south of Baghdad has risen from 500 diagnosed cases in 2004 to 9,082 in 2009 according to Al Jazeera English. In Basra there were 1885 diagnosed cases of cancer in 2005. According to Dr. Jawad al Ali, director of the Oncology Center, the number increased to 2,302 in 2006 and 3,071 in 2007. Dr. Ali told Al Jazeera English that about 1,250-1,500 patients visit the Oncology Center every month now. Not everyone is ready to draw a direct correlation between allied bombing of these areas and tumors, and the Pentagon has been skeptical of any attempts to link the two. But Iraqi doctors and some Western scholars say the massive quantities of depleted uranium used in U.S. and British bombs, and the sharp increase in cancer rates are not unconnected.

DRUGS

The New Jersey legislature has approved a medical marijuana bill. With the governor's anticipated signature NJ becomes the 14th state to take the step towards a saner drug policy.


NATURE

Time Idol - The [African elephant] is being ruthlessly slaughtered to extinction by ivory poachers with the population - currently 600,000 - diminishing by 38,000 a year. These figures, calculated using the annual number of illegal tusk seizures, significantly exceed elephant birth rates meaning the species could face extinction entirely within 15 years, says Samuel Wasser of the Scientific American Journal. . . The International Fund for Animal Welfare says immediate action needs to be taken. . . "This alarming level of illegal hunting could drive the African elephant to extinction across much of Africa in just 15 years," said Robbie Marsland, director of IFAW UK.

TRANSPORTATION

Earth Policy Institute - In 2009, the 14 million cars scrapped exceeded the 10 million new cars sold, shrinking the U.S. fleet by 4 million, or nearly 2 percent in one year. Among the trends that are keeping sales well below the annual figure of 15-17 million that prevailed from 1994 through 2007 are market saturation, ongoing urbanization, economic uncertainty, oil insecurity, rising gasoline prices, frustration with traffic congestion, mounting concerns about climate change, and a declining interest in cars among young people.

FURTHERMORE . . . 

Don't know how many Sams we have out there reading the Review but, according to Facebook, the name is only the 458th most popular boys' moniker right now. When your editor was named, in 1937, it was the 150th most common. It peaked in 1940 and has been slipping ever since. The 150th most popular boys' name right now is Cristian.


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