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

April 16, 2009



Robert Reich -
Geithner believes the only way to rescue the economy is to get the big banks to lend money again. But he's dead wrong. Most consumers cannot and do not want to borrow lots more money. They're still carrying too much debt as it is. Even if they refinance their homes - courtesy of the Fed flooding the market with so much money mortgage rates are dropping - consumers are still not going to borrow more. And until there's enough demand in the system, businesses aren't going to borrow much more to invest in new plant or machinery, either.

That's the big issue - the continued lack of enough demand in the economy. The current stimulus package is proving way too small relative to the shortfall between what consumers and businesses are buying and what the economy could produce at full capacity. (According to today's report from the Commerce Department, retail sales fell in March, as did prices paid to U.S. producers.)

Worse yet, the states are pulling in the opposite direction. States cannot run deficits, which means that as their revenues drop in this downturn they're cutting vital services and raising taxes to the tune of $350 billion over this year and next. This fiscal drag is wiping out about half of the current federal stimulus.


- Police in Britain's Greater Manchester area are using a sophisticated, and obviously overpriced, new weapon in the never ending battle against average citizens. . . the CCTV-Equipped Smart car. The Smart car has a 12 foot mast with a camera on top, along with a computer that records everything it sees, digitally. No longer will the filthy criminal get away with such anti-social behavior as "adjusting the radio" or "combing their hair" without the unblinking eye of The Man seeing it; and of course, billing you for. . . Privacy International rates Britain along with China and Malaysia in terms of protecting individual privacy. It's ranked as the worst Western democracy in the world in that regard. And now they have roving cameracars focused on catching drivers who are adjusting their radios?


Holman W. Jenkins Jr, Wall Street Journal
- Red-light running and speeding, the two main uses of traffic cameras, are implicated in fewer than 8% of accidents. A far more prevalent cause of non-drunken accidents is driver inattention -- one study estimated, in a typical case the driver's eyes are diverted from the road for a full three seconds or more, fidgeting with a cell phone, disciplining the kids in the back seat, snoozing, blotting up spilled coffee, etc. . . Where red-light running is a problem, the solution is usually a longer yellow -- at least three seconds is the recommended minimum for a 25-mph intersection. Drivers do not blast through red lights on purpose. Even the federal government encourages the use of engineering solutions before installing a red-light camera.




NY Times
- The National Security Agency intercepted private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year, according to government officials. Several intelligence officials, as well as lawyers briefed about the matter, said the N.S.A. had been engaged in 'over-collection' of domestic communications of Americans. They described the practice as significant and systemic, although one official said it was believed to be unintentional. . . The Justice Department, in response to inquiries from The New York Times, acknowledged in a statement Wednesday night that there had been problems with the N.S.A. surveillance operation but that they had been resolved.

Think Progress - The NSA tried to wiretap a member of Congress without a warrant, an intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter said. The agency believed that the congressman, whose identity could not be determined, was in contact - as part of a Congressional delegation to the Middle East in 2005 or 2006 - with an extremist who had possible terrorist ties and was already under surveillance, the official said. The agency then sought to eavesdrop on the congressman's conversations, the official said. The official said the plan was ultimately blocked because of concerns from some intelligence officials about using the N.S.A., without court oversight, to spy on a member of Congress. Congressional officials said they have "begun inquiries" into the matter.

The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan has asked US Attorney General Eric Holder to launch an investigation into complaints that Michigan Muslims are being approached to spy on activities of Muslim congregations by the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Through coercion of certain members of congregations, the FBI is said to be promoting entrapment of innocent, law-abiding citizens in otherwise peaceful houses of worship. . . Civil rights advocates have raised serious concerns in recent years that the FBI has been involved in "fishing expeditions" of entire congregations and organizations simply because of their religious/political views, with no justification or proof of any criminal activity. ACLU-Michigan in 2004 raised similar concerns about FBI targeting religious institutions in Michigan.

Kyle Munzenrieder, Miami New Times - The measures taken to screen people at airports are getting a bit ridiculous. The government is already working on ways to determine whether you're a terrorist based on scent alone, but in the meantime, they can just take a look at a computer image of your naked body. They don't even take you to the airport bar and buy you drinks first. Larry Craig had more polite airport manners than this.

Last week, the New York Times' Joe Sharkey ran a column about the TSA's new full-body imaging machines currently in the testing phase at 19 airports across America, including Miami International. The machines use millimeter wave scanning technology to map out a rough image of a person's naked body to make sure they have no contraband on their person. We're not talking Playboy-quality images here, but the results can be embarrassing enough. Originally the machines were to be used only on highly suspect passengers, but the TSA has since begun to use them on regular passengers as well.


Steven Rosenbaum, Daily Cardinal, WI - A campaign to keep National Guard members from being deployed in foreign wars kicked off in Madison. . . The Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice is joining a growing national campaign called Bring The Guard Home. This week marks the beginning of local activism regarding the issue. The group's mission in Wisconsin is to promote a bill recently proposed by state Rep. Spencer Black, D-Madison, which would give the governor de facto veto power to any federal order that places the Wisconsin National Guard on active duty. This bill was written in response to the impending deployment of 3,200 Wisconsin National Guard members to Iraq. Similar bills are either being written or are circulating through state legislatures in 21 other states.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Obama received more money from Wall Street in two years than Dodd did in a decade."
from:Goldman Sachs tries to shut down financial blogger
Interview of financial analyst Mike Morgan

p.s. Obama is a complete fraud who will be impeached. The tipoff should have been a junior senator with no nat'l exposure raising the amount of campaign funds that he did.It's impossible for a virtual unknown to raise that kind of money without completely selling his ass.

April 17, 2009 8:12 PM  
Anonymous Mairead said...

Which is why I knew from the moment the first words came out of his mouth at the 2004 Dem convention that he was an oreo, bought and paid for.

Rall's cartoon today is very much to the point. It identifies a number of 'American heroes', and includes those who protest vicious criminality no matter who the perp is.

Too damned many 'liberals' and 'conservatives' are enablers who don't care about anything more than who's committing the crime. If it's their criminal, then as far as they're concerned it's not a crime.

April 18, 2009 5:27 AM  

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