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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

March 12, 2010

BREVITAS

Who got it right about Obama? John Halle compiles a list and, yes, your editor made it

WORLD WATCH - Nearly 200 billion liters of bottled water were consumed worldwide in 2008. Although the figure was up more than 5 percent over 2007, it marks a decline in the growth rate over previous years, which saw annual gains of 6-10 percent. The rise in per capita consumption also tapered off to a rate near 4 percent, reaching 30 liters per person. Most of the bottles sold contain non-sparkling water, which accounts for 90 percent of the total volume. The United States continues to lead the world in bottled water use, accounting for more than 16 percent of the global total. However, consumption there contracted by 1 percent.

DAILY MAIL, UK - Amnesty International says 334 people in the US died between 2001 and 2008 after the stun guns were used on them. Taser International, the Arizona-based manufacturer, dismisses these findings. . . Nonetheless, Taser International issued guidelines last October warning police to avoid shooting a suspect in the chest 'where possible', and acknowledging the heart-attack risk from stun guns, although they still claim the danger is 'extremely low'.

137 YEARS OF POPULAR SCIENCE NOW ONLINE

Change - For the first time in history, the majority of the world population will soon live in urban areas. In the developing world, the rate of urban growth far exceeds cities' abilities to produce employment, adequate housing, infrastructure, or basic services for its new residents. Meanwhile, food security is becoming an even greater concern. The best agricultural land in many countries is being reserved for the production of overseas-bound cash crops like coffee and soy beans (or in some cases, sold to foreigners outright). Increasing numbers of subsistence farmers are moving off their land and into squalid urban slums. Traditional diets are being replaced with corn and Coca-Cola. In places like Nairobi, Kenya, small community-based organizations like the Kibera Youth Reform Group are bringing healthy food, employment and opportunity to one of the worst slums in Africa. With the help of Green Dreams (the first locally certified organic farm in Kenya), the 70-member youth group has turned a 3-meter deep garbage dump in Kibera into a working organic farm.

CNN - Eighty-six percent of people questioned in a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll say that our system of government is broken. . . . Of that 86 percent, 81 percent say that the government can be fixed, with 5 percent saying it's beyond repair.

INTERNET SIGHTINGS: Waiting for wife at The Body Shop. Sampled some Hemp Scrub. Had a bit more. Now trying to keep from eating the Strawberry Body Butter.

KANSAS CITY STAR - Terry Hoskins says he has struggled with the River Hills Bank over his home in Moscow for years and had problems with the Internal Revenue Service. He says the IRS placed liens on his carpet store and commercial property and the bank claimed his house as collateral. Hoskins says he owes $160,000 on the house. He says he spent a lot of money on attorneys and finally had enough. About two weeks ago he bulldozed the home 25 miles southeast of Cincinnati. Messages were left for the bank and its attorney. IRS spokeswoman Jodie Reynolds said individual taxpayer information is private and federal law prevents her from commenting. SLIDESHOW

CNET - The average social-networking user around the world spent more than five and a half hours on sites like Facebook and Twitter in December, according to data released by Nielsen. That marked an 82 percent jump from December 2008 when Tweeters and Facebookers surfed their favorite sites for around three hours the entire month. . . Facebook was the top social-networking site in December, says Nielsen, grabbing 67 percent of social networking users throughout the world.

PRESS WATCH - Afternoon naps boost brain power and memory, study finds An hour's nap in the afternoon can boost a person's brain power and improve their memory, according to a study showing that short periods of sleep during the day can make it easier to function mentally. Scientists found that a Spanish-style siesta after lunch does more than just refresh the body and mind, it also makes it easier for the brain to store and retrieve items of short-term information needed for working or studying. The Sleep Foundation found people with insomnia are 10 times more likely to develop depression than those who sleep well.

NY TIMES - In a ruling that freed Bank of America from some of its legal problems, a federal judge on "reluctantly" approved a $150 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. But even as the judge, Jed S. Rakoff of the Southern District of New York, approved the settlement, he delivered harsh words for the S.E.C., saying that the agreement was "half-baked justice at best." In a written opinion released Monday morning, Judge Rakoff declared that the evidence showed that the bank failed to adequately disclose the bonuses and the losses, but he said it was unclear if the lack of disclosure resulted from negligence or ill-intent. The judge, known for his maverick ways, said the settlement amount was "paltry," but he said the deal - the second one the S.E.C. proposed - had met his minimum threshold for approval. "This court, while shaking its head, grants the S.E.C.'s motion and approves the proposed consent judgment," the judge wrote.

BOOKSHELF: We Shall Overcome: A Song That Changed the World


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