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Undernews For November 22, 2009

Undernews For November 22, 2009


Since 1964, the news while there's still time to do something about it

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GOLDMAN SACHS PLANS TO PAY ONLY ONE PERCENT IN TAXES

Bloomberg - Goldman Sachs Group Inc, which got $10 billion and debt guarantees from the U.S. government in October, expects to pay $14 million in taxes worldwide for 2008 compared with $6 billion in 2007.

The company's effective income tax rate dropped to 1 percent from 34.1 percent, New York-based Goldman Sachs said today in a statement. The firm reported a $2.3 billion profit for the year after paying $10.9 billion in employee compensation and benefits.

Goldman Sachs, which today reported its first quarterly loss since going public in 1999, lowered its rate with more tax credits as a percentage of earnings and because of "changes in geographic earnings mix," the company said. . .

U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat who serves on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said steps by Goldman Sachs and other banks shifting income to countries with lower taxes is cause for concern.

"This problem is larger than Goldman Sachs," Doggett said. "With the right hand out begging for bailout money, the left is hiding it offshore."

11/22/2009 | Comments

MID EAST ANALYSIS

SUMS IT UP PRETTY GOOD

11/22/2009 | Comments

BISHOP BANS CATHOLIC CONGRESS MEMBER FROM COMMUNION

NPR - Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin has banned Rep. Patrick Kennedy from receiving Communion, the central sacrament of the church, in Rhode Island because of the congressman's support for abortion rights, Kennedy said in a newspaper interview published Sunday.

The decision by the outspoken prelate, reported on The Providence Journal's Web site, significantly escalates a bitter dispute between Tobin, an ultra orthodox bishop, and Kennedy, a son of the nation's most famous Roman Catholic family.

"The bishop instructed me not to take Communion and said that he has instructed the diocesan priests not to give me Communion," Kennedy told the paper in an interview conducted Friday.

Kennedy said the bishop had explained the penalty by telling him "that I am not a good practicing Catholic because of the positions that I've taken as a public official," particularly on abortion. . .

Church law permits Tobin to ban Kennedy from receiving Communion within the Diocese of Providence, which covers Rhode Island, but he cannot stop Kennedy from receiving Communion elsewhere. It was unclear whether bishops overseeing Washington and Massachusetts, where Kennedy's family has a seaside compound, would issue similar bans.

11/22/2009 | Comments

ECONOMIC BLAME STARTING TO SHIFT TO OBAMA

CQ Politics - A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll taken Nov. 13-15 found that 82 percent of American adults contacted for the survey said the economy was poor.

And while Americans are looking for someone to blame, they appear to be shifting some of that burden from the Republicans to the Democrats.

At 38 percent the GOP still leads in "who's to blame." But that's down from 53 percent in May. Twenty-seven percent say the Democrats are at fault, a 6 percentage point increase from May, and another 27 percent say both parties are to blame.

11/22/2009 | Comments

FBI AGENT AT KENNEDY AUTOPSY WON'T RULE OUT ANOTHER BULLET

Glenn Miller, Ft Meyers News-Press - Jim Sibert has answered the questions for 46 years, ever since the night he observed the autopsy of President John F. Kennedy. Over the years, the former FBI special agent has been interviewed for books and calls and questions keep coming from teachers, authors and historians. Now, as another anniversary of the assassination arrives, Sibert, 91, was asked again about that historic day, Nov. 22, 1963. . .

At the time, Sibert was a 45-year-old FBI special agent stationed in Maryland and only a year younger than Kennedy. Late in the day, the president of the United States lay dead in front of him with a hole in his head.

"It was a piece blown out of the skull," Sibert said. . .

What happened in Dallas that day remains contested with factions still debating whether Lee Harvey Oswald was the only shooter or if he was part of a wide-ranging conspiracy.

"I don't buy the single-bullet theory," Sibert said. "I won't go as far as to say there was no conspiracy."

Sibert and O'Neill's report, titled "Autopsy of Body of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy," stated that Commander James J. Humes, who conducted the autopsy, noted another wound.

"During the latter stages of this autopsy, Dr. Humes located an opening which appeared to be a bullet hole which was below the shoulders and two inches to the right of the middle line of the spinal column," Sibert and O'Neill reported.

Sibert won't guess on possible conspirators, on who else may have shot Kennedy other than Oswald.

"I wouldn't have any way of knowing," Sibert said. "See, that's another thing. All my work was in Bethesda, Md."

11/22/2009 | Comments


YOU KNOW THE REVIEW IS NOW BEING PUBLISHED FROM MAINE WHEN WE COME UP WITH PICTURES LIKE THIS


11/22/2009 | Comments

AMERICAN NOTES

MAD MEN SHOULD HAVE HIRED HIM

11/22/2009 | Comments

FOUND

FOUND: My mom told me she had found a poem of sorts that had blown in their yard after a storm that had happened that very afternoon. She had thrown it in the trashcan outside, so I had my dad dig it out,

11/21/2009 | Comments

BERKELEY STUDENTS PROTEST HUGE TUITION INCREASE

CNN - Protesters of a tuition hike at University of California campuses stood their ground into Friday night, with 41 demonstrators at UC Berkeley cited for trespassing after their takeover of a campus building.

Nearly 100 protesters at UC campuses have been arrested over the past two days in the demonstrations over a 32 percent tuition increase.

The demonstrators, students and nonstudents alike, were cited for trespassing, spokeswoman Claire Holmes told CNN. Holmes said those arrested would be cited and released rather than taken to jail, per agreement with student leaders.

University officials said the $505 million to be raised by the tuition increases is needed to prevent even deeper cuts than those already made because of California's persistent financial crisis.

Protesting students said the hike will hurt working and middle-class students who benefit from state-funded education.

The first tuition hike, which takes effect in January, will raise undergraduate tuition to $8,373. The second hike kicks in next fall, raising tuition to $10,302, said university spokeswoman Leslie Sepuka. .

The January increase of about 15 percent is more than double the average public university tuition hike last year.

11/21/2009 | Comments

FOUR CORPORATIONS THAT DUMPED EMPLOYEE PENSION PLANS PAID TO EXECS $50 MILLION IN RETIREMENT BENEFITS

USA Today - Top executives at four companies that jettisoned their employee pension plans received $49.5 million in retirement and severance benefits in the years before the companies filed for bankruptcy, while retirees saw their benefits cut by as much as two thirds, congressional investigators conclude . . . The Government Accountability Office reports that pensions at the companies, United Airlines, US Airways, Polaroid and Reliance Insurance, were underfunded by more than $11 billion when the companies turned them over to a government-backed insurance fund. The report says executives at those four companies and six others that abandoned their pension plans took in a total of $350 million in pay and perks in the years leading up to the bankruptcies.

11/21/2009 | Comments

PALIN QUITS AGAIN: LEAVES 400 SUPPORTERS WITH UNSIGNED BOOKS

Indianapolis Star - What started as a Sarah Palin lovefest in Noblesville ended in a chorus of boos. Palin left her book signing at a Borders at Hamilton Town Center with hundreds still waiting for her signature. Advertisement

The crowd booed as she left and shouted for her to stay, said Sylvia Gordon, 43, Noblesville, who waited for more than four hours Thursday night for Palin's signature.

"I will never go to that Borders again, the way that was handled," Gordon said Friday. ". . . It was such a sour experience."

Those who were left standing in the cold and rain Thursday night estimated that about 400 people who had received wristbands -- their "ticket" to the signing -- had not gotten Palin's autograph by the time she left shortly after 9 p.m.

Borders spokeswoman Mary Davis couldn't offer an explanation why so many were turned away.

"Governor Palin is a hugely popular figure," Davis said. ". . . We just couldn't get to all the customers."

Palin issued an apology on her Facebook page, under a post titled "Not Enough Hours in the Day."

"I've been told that yesterday there were supporters in Noblesville who stood in long lines for hours in the cold and rain, and the book signing event ended without a chance to say hello to everyone who showed up," Palin wrote. "I am so sorry.". . .

Fans weren't told why Palin left without signing everyone's books, but Gordon said a Borders employee told her that Palin and her youngest son, Trig, who accompanied her to the signing, were tired and that Palin's hand was cramping.

11/21/2009 | Comments

STUDENTS MAY BE DENIED GRADUATION BECAUSE OF WEIGHT

Inside High Ed - More than two dozen seniors at Lincoln University, in Oxford, Pa., are in danger of not being able to graduate this spring -- not because they're under disciplinary probation or haven't fulfilled the requirements of their majors, but because they were obese as freshmen.

All had body mass index scores above 30 -- the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' threshold for obesity -- when they arrived on campus in the fall of 2006, but none have taken college-sanctioned steps to show they've lost weight or at least tried. They're in the historically black university's first graduating class required to either have a BMI below 30 or to take "Fitness for Life," a one semester class that mixes exercise, nutritional instruction and discussion of the risks of obesity. . . .

Students interviewed for the story seemed upset by the requirement and, perhaps, a bit blindsided by it. "It's not up to Lincoln to tell me how much my BMI should be. I came here to get a degree and that's what the administration should be concerned with," said Lousie Kaddie, a sophomore. . .

James C. Turner, president of the American College Health Association and director of student health at the University of Virginia, said he had "never heard of something like this before." He added that he was unaware of any studies showing a semester-long class "to be effective to help someone lose weight in the long term."

Yale Rudd Center Report - Obese individuals are highly stigmatized and face multiple forms of prejudice and discrimination because of their weight. The prevalence of weight discrimination in the United States has increased by 66% over the past decade, and is comparable to rates of racial discrimination, especially among women. Weight bias translates into inequities in employment settings, health-care facilities, and educational institutions, often due to widespread negative stereotypes that overweight and obese persons are lazy, unmotivated, lacking in self-discipline, less competent, noncompliant, and sloppy. These stereotypes are prevalent and are rarely challenged in Western society, leaving overweight and obese persons vulnerable to social injustice, unfair treatment, and impaired quality of life as a result of substantial disadvantages and stigma.

11/21/2009 | Comments

SCHOOL DEFORMERS SUCK 3-4 YEARS INTO THEIR TEST OBSESSION; SOME EDUCATORS FIGHT BACK

Washington Post - The debate among early childhood educators over whether precious school hours should be spent on play has simmered for years. But it is intensifying as preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds, once the province of child-care centers, is increasingly embraced by public school systems to teach students the skills they need to be successful in kindergarten. . .

"If we are to prevent the achievement gap and develop a cradle-to-career educational pipeline, early learning programs are going to have to be better integrated with the K-12 system," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday at a convention of the nation's largest early childhood organization, the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Locally and across the nation, time for play has been increasingly squeezed out of kindergarten and first grade as schools, bent on raising student achievement, especially among poor and minority students, have focused on literacy and math skills for children at ever-younger ages. The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires schools to ensure that all children are proficient in math, reading and writing by 2014.

That proficiency is measured on tests, but the far-reaching effects of play don't show up in answers to multiple-choice questions. They show up in life.

Research has shown that by 23, people who attended play-based preschools were eight times less likely to need treatment for emotional disturbances than those who went to preschools where direct instruction prevailed. Graduates of the play-based preschools were three times less likely to be arrested for committing a felony. . .

A more recent study showed that certain kinds of fantasy play, in which students plan the roles they're going to fill, have a measurable effect on children's ability to control their impulses. That skill is more closely correlated to academic success in kindergarten than intelligence is.

Nevertheless, in kindergarten, children are playing for fewer than 30 minutes a day, according to a study of full-day kindergartens in New York City and Los Angeles published in the spring by the Alliance for Childhood, a nonprofit group based in College Park. They spend four to six times more time on literacy, math and test-taking than they do on play.

11/21/2009 | Comments

BILLBOARD BEAT

IF YOU THINK PALIN IS BAD,
CHECK OUT THIS MISSOURI REPUBLICAN BILLBOARD

GALLERY: AND NOW SOME GOOD BILLBOARDS

BREVITAS

Health

New America Media - Almost four in 10 Americans with chronic illness say they lack enough money to do things necessary to improve their health--and this proportion jumps to six out of 10 Latinos, African Americans and people with low annual incomes, according to a survey released this week at the Aging in America Conference in Las Vegas. Calling the U.S. health care system "bleak and broken" for millions of Americans with chronic health conditions, researchers at the National Council on Aging, in Washington, D.C., reported that an "alarmingly" large proportion of chronic disease sufferers are "delaying health care due to cost, living in pain and feeling abandoned by their health care providers."

Headline of the Day - Senate Votes To Allow Itself To Discuss Health Care For Several More Months - Wonkette

Ecology

Electric Power Daily - The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that a county board of commissioners in the state's scenic Flint Hills region was within its rights when it enacted an ordinance banning the development of utility scale wind farms for aesthetic reasons. In a unanimous ruling issued last month and posted on the court's web site, the court said that 'aesthetics and conformance with a governing body's comprehensive plan may be considered as bases for zoning rulings,' and that the "countywide ban on all commercial wind farms in the instant case was not unreasonable.". . . The court noted in its ruling, the Flint Hills also is a scenic region that 'contains the vast majority of the remaining Tallgrass Prairie that once covered much of the central United States.' In December 2004, then-Governor Kathleen Sebelius asked developers to use 'voluntary restraint' and not develop wind farms."

Orwellandia

Guardian UK - Officers have been told they can place "markers" against the vehicles of anyone who attends demonstrations using the national ANPR data centre in Hendon, north London, which stores information on car journeys for up to five years. Senior officers have been instructed to "fully and strategically exploit" the database, which allows police to mark vehicles with potentially useful information such as drink-driving convictions. The use of the ANPR database to flag-up vehicles belonging to protesters has resulted in peaceful campaigners being repeatedly stopped and searched.

Religion and other beliefs

The Secular Student Alliance has grown from 80 campus affiliates in 2007 to 174 this fall.

Police blotter. . . .

Albert Perkins has pleaded guilty in Kansas City court for robbing a bank. Main evidence against him: a wallet he left on the counter at the bank.

11/22/2009 | Comments

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