UNDERNEWS

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

January 19, 2009

BREVITAS

CRASH TALK

CNN - The real estate market is so awful that buyers are now scooping up homes for as little as $1,000. There are 18 listings in Flint, Mich., for under $3,000, according to Realtor.com. There are 22 in Indianapolis, 46 in Cleveland and a whopping 709 in Detroit. All of these communities have been hit hard by foreclosures, and most of these homes are being sold by the lenders that repossessed them. . . With prices this low, lenders aren't looking to make any money on these deals. They just want to get these houses off their books, so they don't have to bear the cost of maintaining them and paying property taxes. In fact, the $500, $1,000 or $3,000 that a buyer forks over often goes straight to the real estate brokers as a commission.

Although House Minority Leader John Boehner is a conservative Republican, a few items in his critique of the bailout approved by congressional Democrats should be of concern to progressives, even they reach dramatically different conclusions about what should be done about it:

The total cost of this one piece of legislation is almost as much as the annual discretionary budget for the entire federal government.

President-elect Obama has said that his proposed stimulus legislation will create or save three million jobs. This means that this legislation will spend about $275,000 per job. The average household income in the U.S. is $50,000 a year.

The House Democrats' bill provides enough spending - $825 billion - to give every man, woman, and child in America $2,700.

$825 billion is enough to give every person living in poverty in the U.S. $22,000.

Although the House Democrats' proposal has been billed as a transportation and infrastructure investment package, in actuality only $30 billion of the bill - or three percent - is for road and highway spending. A recent study from the Congressional Budget Office said that only 25 percent of infrastructure dollars can be spent in the first year, making the one year total less than $7 billion for infrastructure.

INAUGURATION

DCIST
- Portions of downtown [DC] have been declared a "Prostitution Free Zone" for the Inaugural celebration period. [The signs have] an expiration date, as though at all other times, hookers have free reign over downtown Washington . . . The basic idea is that [the law] allows police officers to issue fines of $300 to a group of two or more persons found congregating in a public space or property within the PFZ for the purpose of engaging in prostitution or prostitution-related offenses.

MID EAST

The Green Party has called for a halt in US military assistance to Israel. The party also urges boycott and divestment until Israel observes international law, ends the illegal 42-year occupation and systematic destruction of Palestinian civil society, and abolishes its apartheid-like system within Israel as well as in the occupied territories. Greens noted that Israel has barred Palestinian-Israeli candidates from upcoming elections because their parties opposed the Gaza operation and advocate changing Israel from a Jewish state to a state for all its citizens. Over 20% of Israel's population are non-Jews.

CRIME BLOTTER

KUTV -
A Utah man had his gun confiscated after it accidentally went off and shot a toilet while he was hitching up his trousers in the bathroom. Police the 26-year-old was hurt after the bullet shattered the toilet and sent sharp shards into the man's arm but there were no serious injuries. . . He was a little shook up so we just wanted to take it (the gun) right then and allow him time to gether himself before releasing it to him."

NEIGHBORHOOD CRIME WATCH

Bill Sammon, Fox News -
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is receptive to the idea of prosecuting some Bush administration officials, while letting others who are accused of misdeeds leave office without prosecution, she told Chris Wallace in an interview on "FOX News Sunday." "I think you look at each item and see what is a violation of the law and do we even have a right to ignore it," the California Democrat said. "And other things that are maybe time that is spent better looking to the future rather than to the past."
Rep. John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announced Friday he wants to set up a commission to look into whether the Bush administration broke the law by taking the nation to war against Iraq and instituting aggressive anti-terror initiatives. The Michigan Democrat called for an "independent criminal probe into whether any laws were broken in connection with these activities."

Paul Krugman, NY Times - During the Reagan years, the Iran-contra conspirators violated the Constitution in the name of national security. But the first President Bush pardoned the major malefactors, and when the White House finally changed hands the political and media establishment gave Bill Clinton the same advice it's giving Mr. Obama: let sleeping scandals lie. Sure enough, the second Bush administration picked up right where the Iran-contra conspirators left off - which isn't too surprising when you bear in mind that Mr. Bush actually hired some of those conspirators.
Now, it's true that a serious investigation of Bush-era abuses would make Washington an uncomfortable place, both for those who abused power and those who acted as their enablers or apologists. And these people have a lot of friends. But the price of protecting their comfort would be high: If we whitewash the abuses of the past eight years, we'll guarantee that they will happen again.

OH WHAT TANGLED WEBS WE WEAVE. . .

If you can't sell
a Senate seat for $1 million, how come you can sell exclusive rights to broadcast an inaugural event at the extremely public Lincoln Memorial for $5 million? Don't expect an answer soon from the Obama administration, especially since one of the purchasers of the rights, HBO, went on to censor the performance, cutting out the prayer by gay bishop Gene Robinson, who had been squeezed into the act after protests over Obama's use of the bigoted Rev. Rick Warren for his inaugural invocation.

FURTHERMORE. . .

The ever obnoxious Abe Foxman has added Bill Moyers' to his list of anti-Semites, which brings to mind the old Quaker line that "Everyone's crazy except thee and me and sometimes I wonder about thee."

3 Comments:

Anonymous robbie said...

If we whitewash the abuses of the past eight years, we'll guarantee that they will happen again.

No more important words have been spoken on this subject, and the real test of what Obama is all about is how he counteracts those abuses, or whether he will.

January 19, 2009 7:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So the Green party has finally permanently self-destructed and made a total laughingstock of itself. There's no way it can overcome these actions or ever again gain any kind of credibility. A sad day when a party that was founded to promote progressive ideals and tolerance has openly embraced the vilest sort of bigotry and hatred imaginable. Once antiwar, they are now the very opposite, openly supporting terrorism and direct attacks on innocent civilians. Truly disgusting. Maybe the Gazans will help fund it, but no decent American will now have anything to do with it.

January 19, 2009 10:41 PM  
Anonymous Decent human beings don't support and enable Israeli state terror. said...

Global Research, January 21, 2009
The Independent


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Grieving Palestinian father says children were killed after family obeyed order from troops to leave Gaza home

A Palestinian father has claimed that he saw two of his young daughters shot dead and another critically injured by an Israeli soldier who emerged from a stationary tank and opened fire as the family obeyed an order from the Israeli forces to leave their home.

Khaled Abed Rabbo said Amal, aged two and Suad, seven, were killed by fire from the soldier's semi-automatic rifle. His third daughter, Samer, four, has been evacuated to intensive care in a Belgian hospital after suffering critical spinal injuries which he said were inflicted in the attack early in Israel's ground offensive.

Mr Abed Rabbo stood near the wreckage off his subsequently destroyed home on the eastern edge of the northern Gaza town of Jabalya yesterday and described how a tank had parked outside the building at 12.50pm on 7 January and ordered the family in Arabic through a megaphone to leave building. He said his 60-year-old mother had also been shot at as she left waving her white headscarf with her son, daughter in law and her three grandchildren.

"Two soldiers were on the tank eating chips, then one man came out of the tank with a rifle and started shooting the kids," Mr Abed Rabbo, who receives a salary as a policeman from the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in Ramallah said. The family say they think the weapon used by the soldier was an M16 and that the first to be shot was Amal. Mr Abed Rabbo said that Suad was then shot with what he claimed were 12 bullets, and then Samer.

The soldier who fired the rifle had what Mr Abed Rabbo thought were ringlets visible below his helmet, he said. The small minority of ultra-Orthodox Jews who serve in the army are in a unit which did not take part in the Gaza offensive and only a very small number of settlers who also favour that hairstyle serve in other units.

It has so far been impossible independently to verify Mr Abed Rabbo's claim and the military said last night Israeli Defence Forces "does not target civilians, only Hamas terrorists and infrastructure". It added: "The IDF is investigating various claims made with regard to Operation Cast Lead and at the end of its investigation will respond accordingly."

The district is named Abed Rabbo after the clan who live in most of it. The dense concrete roof of the house now hangs at more at more than a 45-degree angle, and at least three other substantial buildings have been flattened in the agricultural, semi-rural immediate neighbourhood. Khaled Abed Rabbo said that there had been a delay before the ambulance could reach the building because the road from the west had been made impassable by the churning of the tanks.

The soldiers had in the end let the family leave on foot, he said. He added that they walked two kilometres before finding a vehicle to take them to Kamal Adwan Hospital. He said: "I carried Suad, who was dead, my wife carried Amal and my brother Ibrahim carried Samer."

He added: "We are not Hamas. My children were not Hamas. And if they were going to shoot anyone it should have been me." He added: "I want the international community and the International Red Cross to ask Israel why it has done this to us. They talk about democracy but is it democracy to kill children? What did the kids do to them? What did my house do to them? They destroyed my life?

Gaza City is showing signs of returning to a form of normality as more shops reopen. The offices of the main Palestinian telephone company Jawwal reopened though this has not eased severe problems of connectivity on the Palestinian mobile network.

Some Hamas policemen were back directing traffic, though in smaller numbers than before the offensive. Unconfirmed figures are that 270 Hamas policemen were killed, mainly in the air attacks during the first week. In a victory rally in Gaza city yesterday, Hamas supporters converged on a square near the remains of the bombed parliament building..

'Heartbreaking': The ugly face of war

The UN secretary general, looking distressed, described the devastation of Gaza as "heartbreaking" on a visit to the area yesterday after the 22-day Israeli assault.

"I have seen only a fraction of the destruction," said Ban Ki-moon, as he stood in front of a UN warehouse set on fire by Israeli shells last Thursday. "This is shocking and alarming. These are heartbreaking scenes I have seen and I am deeply grieved by what I have seen today." he said.

Mr Ban demanded a full investigation into the Israeli shelling of the UN Relief and Works Agency compound. UN officials say the compound, still smouldering yesterday, was targeted by white phosphorus munitions which are not supposed to be used in densely populated areas because of the harm to civilians. Mr Ban said the Israeli attacks on UNRWA headquarters and two UN schools in Gaza, one of which killed 40 sheltering Palestinians, were "outrageous".

Amnesty International said Israel's repeated use of the munitions despite evidence of their indiscriminate effects and harm to civilians "is a war crime". The Israeli army has launched an investigation but says Hamas fighters operate from densely populated areas, and used UN buildings as cover for attacks.

Mr Ban said: "It has been especially troubling and heartbreaking for me as secretary general that I couldn't end this faster," he said. He urged Israel and Hamas to "exercise maximum restraint and nurture the ceasefire".

January 22, 2009 2:49 PM  

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