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

March 4, 2009

BREVITAS

CRASH TALK

Washington Post
- House Democrats have reached an agreement to narrow the impact of legislation allowing bankruptcy judges to modify troubled mortgages. Under the current version of the legislation, a bankruptcy judge could cut the principal balance of a homeowner's mortgage, lower the interest rate and extend the terms. But after moderate Democrats raised objections last week, delaying a vote, Democratic leaders agreed to insert some restrictions, according to a letter circulated by some moderate Democrats in support of the legislation yesterday.

The compromise version, for example, requires that a homeowner share with the lender any profit from the eventual sale of the home if a bankruptcy judge lowers the principal balance. It also gives preference to lowering a homeowner's interest rate over cutting the principal balance.

The compromise also limits homeowners' ability to ask a bankruptcy judge for help if they have already received or been offered a loan modification that lowered their payments to 31 percent of their income.

The financial services industry, which has lobbied against the bill, fought for all those provisions.

Zogby - The nation's current economic conditions have caused many Americans to rethink their spending habits, with 70% saying they have cut back on entertainment, recreation and eating out at restaurants in the past year, a new Zogby Interactive poll shows. . . Younger adults are most likely to say they have cut back - 76% of those age 18-29 are spending less on entertainment, compared to 55% of those age 65 and older who say the same. Entertainment spending has suffered the most, but 40% said they have also limited or canceled their normal vacation plans due to the cost and another 40% have put off the purchase of a major item such as automobile, home entertainment electronics, or a computer.

OBAMA METER

For the first time
since he took office, Obama has hit 30% on our Obama Meter.

JUST POLITICS

Wired -
Following three months of investigation, California's secretary of state has released a report examining why a voting system made by Premier Election Solutions (formerly known as Diebold) lost about 200 ballots in Humboldt County during the November presidential election. But the most startling information in the state's 13-page report is not about why the system lost votes. . . but that some versions of Diebold's vote tabulation system, known as the Global Election Management System, include a button that allows someone to delete audit logs from the system. Auditing logs are required under the federal voting system guidelines, which are used to test and qualify voting systems for use in elections. The logs record changes and other events that occur on voting systems to ensure the integrity of elections and help determine what occurred in a system when something goes wrong. . . The Diebold system in Humboldt County, which uses version 1.18.19 of GEMS, has a button labeled "clear," that "permits deletion of certain audit logs that contain - or should contain - records that would be essential to reconstruct operator actions during the vote tallying process," according to the California report.

Arizona Central - In a state that gave America its 2008 Republican presidential candidate and regularly elects conservative policy makers, a snapshot survey of 950 Arizona teenagers indicates that they are leaning decidedly left. Among the results of a survey released today: 75 percent support giving illegal immigrants a chance to become citizens, 72 percent believe global warming is long-term and human-caused, and 65 percent say women have a right to choose abortion. Greater legal restrictions on gun ownership get a nod from 56 percent. Although nearly half report that religion plays an important role in their lives, half also agree religious faith isn't necessary to live a moral life and nearly 60 percent say religion should not play a large role in public policy.

Josh Goodman, Governing -
Soon, there will be four Democrats in Kansas holding statewide elected offices, but none of those people will have been elected to the office in which they serve. Assuming Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is confirmed as secretary of Health and Human Services, Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson will become governor. He'll appoint a new lieutenant governor. Sebelius appointed the state attorney general, Steve Six, to office after his predecessor resigned in a sex scandal. The governor also appointed State Treasurer Dennis McKinney to office after the old treasurer, a Republican, was elected to Congress.

BUDGET

Washington Times -
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer became the second leading congressional Democrat in a week to push back against Mr. Obama's drive to curb member-directed earmarks on spending bills. Saying he was open to the president's "suggestions" about how to reform the spending process, the Maryland Democrat told reporters, "I don't think the White House has the ability to tell us what to do. I hope you all got that down." His remark echoed a warning from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, that the earmarks process is a congressional prerogative. Regarding the deduction for charitable donations, Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat and chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said he "would never want to adversely affect anything that is charitable or good."

MID EAST

Interpress Service
- A movement to boycott Israeli goods, culture and academic institutions is gaining momentum as Geneva prepares to host the UN's Anti-Racism Conference, Durban 2, next month amidst swirling controversy. International criticism of Israel's three-week bloody offensive into Gaza, which left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead and thousands more wounded, most of them civilian, has breathed fresh life into a Boycott, Divest, Sanctions campaign. . . Another Israeli activist, Matan Cohen, has been central in the first U.S. college implementing a divestment campaign against Israel. Hampshire College in Massachusetts called for divestment from over 200 companies that the college says is responsible for violating its socially responsible investment policies in Israel. The companies which provide the Israeli military with equipment and services in the occupied West Bank and Gaza include Caterpillar, United Technologies, General Electric, ITT Corporation, Motorola and Terex.

HEALTH & SCIENCE

NY Post
- The state is trying to shut down a New York City doctor's ambitious plan to treat uninsured patients for around $1,000 a year. Dr. John Muney offers his patients everything from mammograms to mole removal at his AMG Medical Group clinics, which operate in all five boroughs. "I'm trying to help uninsured people here," he said. His patients agree to pay $79 a month for a year in return for unlimited office visits with a $10 co-pay. But his plan landed him in the crosshairs of the state Insurance Department, which ordered him to drop his fixed-rate plan - which it claims is equivalent to an insurance policy. Muney insists it is not insurance because it doesn't cover anything that he can't do in his offices, like complicated surgery. He points out his offices do not operate 24/7 so they can't function like emergency rooms.

Op Ed News - Despite the findings by Health Canada that artificial sweeteners are safe, parents in B.C. have decided to play it safe and say no. The B.C. Ministry of Education has recently pulled all artificial sweeteners from being sold in B.C. primary and middle schools after consultations with parents of school children. . . The guidelines allow for artificial sweeteners in small amounts and as a condiment in secondary schools, but not in elementary or middle schools

ECO CLIPS

Portland Press Herald, ME -
Commercial fishing might be causing genetic changes in fish that swim in the ocean, making them smaller and less fertile. . . However, the study also found that fish can grow larger again if the big ones are allowed to get away. . . Efforts to bring back the fish still include rules - such as minimum sizes and large-mesh nets - that encourage fishermen to catch and kill the largest fish and spare the smaller ones. That is sending the wrong message to the fish, genetically speaking. . . Shrinking fish sizes also mean a population reproduces at a slower rate, something that makes it more vulnerable to natural pressures such as predation and less able to recover from overfishing. . . Larger fish are generally much more fertile than smaller ones.

ON CAMPUS

Reuters -
A university in Liverpool has launched a Master of Arts degree in The Beatles, the city's most famous sons, and called the qualification the first of its kind. Liverpool Hope University says on its website that the course entitled "The Beatles, Popular Music and Society" consists of four 12-week taught modules and a dissertation. "There have been over 8,000 books about The Beatles but there has never been serious academic study and that is what we are going to address," said Mike Brocken, senior lecturer in popular music at Hope.

BELIEFS

Andrew Santella, Slate -
One in seven adults changes churches each year, and another one in six attends a handful of churches on a rotating basis, according to the Barna Group, a marketing research firm that serves churches. Church shopping isn't a matter of merely changing congregations: A survey by the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life last year indicated that 44 percent of American adults have left their first religious affiliation for another.

DRUG BUSTS

Telegraph
- Making up counterfeit anti-impotence pills can be as much as 2,000 times more profitable than dealing in hard drugs, according to one expert. With millions of potential buyers available on the internet, the trade is also less risky for gangsters. But there were warnings that the fake blue pills, often made from a cocktail of prescription medicines, can be highly dangerous for users. Last months a report in Singapore highlighted that four men died and three were left in comas in just five months after taking counterfeit impotence drugs.

2 Comments:

Anonymous robbie said...

Arizona Central - In a state that gave America its 2008 Republican presidential candidate and regularly elects conservative policy makers, a snapshot survey of 950 Arizona teenagers indicates that they are leaning decidedly left. Among the results of a survey released today: 75 percent support giving illegal immigrants a chance to become citizens, 72 percent believe global warming is long-term and human-caused, and 65 percent say women have a right to choose abortion. Greater legal restrictions on gun ownership get a nod from 56 percent. Although nearly half report that religion plays an important role in their lives, half also agree religious faith isn't necessary to live a moral life and nearly 60 percent say religion should not play a large role in public policy.

Why should these views be considered "decidedly left"?

March 6, 2009 5:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone should tell the anti-semites in Geneva how much they're embarrassing themselves, and discrediting their countries. People are openly laughing at them. And, contrary to what is printed here, there is no movement to boycott Israel. There's just a fantasy in the minds of deranged, discredited, lunatic fringe of bigots who are trying distract attention from their own failures and crimes by attacking others. Sad and pathetic people who desperately need psychiatric help.

March 6, 2009 1:32 PM  

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