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

April 17, 2009

BREVITAS

OBAMALAND

As reader John Gear points out, Barack Obama's position on the prosecution of CIA torturers is an impeachable offense: "He has announced that he has no intention of seeing that the laws are faithfully executed, even against criminal thugs who tortured and even killed prisoners whose only crime in many cases was to be Muslim and handy when someone wanted to get a bounty from the US war machine operating in the neighborhood."

ABC News - Authorities are looking at an investment firm co-founded by the head of President Barack Obama's auto task force as part of an investigation into an alleged "pay to play" scheme to secure New York state pension business, but the White House is standing by its man. Steven Rattner, the leader of the Obama administration's auto task force, was one of the investment-firm executives involved with payments now under scrutiny in a state and federal investigation into an alleged kickback scheme at New York state's pension fund, The Wall Street Journal reported. Steve Rattner, the head of the auto task force, co-founded the investment firm Quadrangle Group in 2000. According to documents from the Securities and Exchange Commission, in January 2005 Quadrangle paid a fee of more than $1 million after receiving an investment from the New York State Common Retirement Fund. . . Rattner is not named in the SEC documents, but the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, each citing sources familiar with the matter, reported that Rattner is referred to in the documents as a "senior executive" at Quadrangle.

Washington Times - Homeland Security Department officials disregarded warnings from their internal civil liberties watchdogs before releasing a security assessment of "right-wing extremism" that had Secretary Janet Napolitano apologizing to veterans Thursday. A spokeswoman confirmed that the department's Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties raised objections about some of the language in the nine-page report before it was sent to law enforcement officials nationwide. The office "did object to a part of the document, which was not resolved before the product went out. This was a breakdown of an internal process that we will fix in the future," said spokeswoman Amy Kudwa.

MEDIA

Philadelphia Daily News -
Former U.
S. Sen. Rick Santorum [GOP] is collecting $1,750 a shot for the columns that appear every other week in the Inquirer, according to documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

CORPORADOS

Consumerist -
Engine shut-off devices, or car disablers, are a hot new trend in car accessories. Less useful than a GPS and way less fun than a DVD player, the devices allow lenders to disable a car's engine remotely when payments are overdue. . . With brand names On Time, Pass Time and Pay Teck, car disablers are wired to the ignition and typically provide motorists three or four days' warning, with flashing lights (green to amber to red) and quickening chirps as drop-dead payment dates near. They will not shut down a moving car, manufacturers note, but will render starters silent the morning after the warning light turns red. For now, disablers are limited to the subprime auto market - mainly dealerships that handle their own financing and court customers with bad or no credit.

THE MIX

ABC News
- Last December, when Andrew Emitt starting looking for college scholarships, he turned to his high school library, hoping to find Web sites that would guide him. But the Tennessee 17-year-old is gay, and when he searched for organizations that might be friendly to LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) students, he hit a firewall. What he discovered is that 107 schools in Tennessee -- including his, Knoxville Central High School -- use software that can block Web sites catering to gay issues.

MID EAST

Washington Post - When a group of Jewish liberals formed a lobbying and fundraising group called J Street a year ago, they had modest hopes of raising $50,000 for a handful of congressional candidates. Instead, the group's political arm ended up funneling nearly $600,000 to several dozen Democrats and a handful of Republicans in 2008, making it Washington's leading pro-Israel PAC, according to Federal Election Commission expenditure records. Organizers say 33 of the group's 41 favored House and Senate candidates won their races. . . The group bills itself as the "political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement" and argues that the debate over Israel in the United States has tilted to the right despite the liberal sympathies of most Jewish Americans. J Street supports a "two-state solution" for Israel and the Palestinians and generally favors diplomacy over military force, according to its Web site and statements.

ON CAMPUS

The faculty association at Northern Illinois University has voted against bringing ROTC on campus. The winning argument was discrimination against GLBT.

CITIES

Sacramento Bee -
Dozens of city and county workers descended on Sacramento's tent city, and within hours cleared the area of all signs of the sprawling homeless encampment. As homeless men and women scrambled to find new places to live and sleep, more than 150 workers used heavy equipment, shovels, rakes and their hands to clean up discarded trash, tents, clothing and other remnants of the campground north of downtown. By early afternoon, Sacramento Municipal Utility District workers were preparing to fence off the property near the Blue Diamond almond processing plant for a construction project.

NY Times - There are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks each year in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's Aging Water Infrastructure Research Program, and some water experts fear that the problem is getting worse. "We believe that the number of breaks is increasing," said D. Wayne Klotz, the president of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He warned that the breaks not only waste millions of gallons of clean, treated drinking water, but also can cause tremendous damage, pointing to a major break in Maryland just before Christmas that stranded motorists on a flooded road. "When most people think of a leak, they think of a drip in their sink," Mr. Klotz said. "These are not like that. They were rescuing people by helicopter!" The new federal stimulus law provides $6 billion for water projects, with $2 billion of that directed to drinking water systems. But that money is only, well, a drop in the bucket: a report released last month by the E.P.A. estimated that the nation's drinking water systems require an investment of $334.8 billion over the next two decades, with most of the money needed to improve transmission and distribution systems.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Mr. Cue said...

"Authorities are looking at an investment firm co-founded by the head of President Barack Obama's auto task force as part of an investigation into an alleged "pay to play" scheme to secure New York state pension business, but the White House is standing by its man."
Are you beginning to understand why the feds had to set up Eliot Spitzer?

April 18, 2009 12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK John Conyers, Robert Wexler, Dennis Kucinich get started: Try Bush AND impeach Obama.

April 18, 2009 8:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Subprime Auto Market?

April 18, 2009 9:27 AM  

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