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

June 29, 2009




Robert Scheer, Alternet - Americans are now $14 trillion poorer. . . The Bush-Obama strategy of throwing trillions at the banks to solve the mortgage crisis is a huge bust. The financial moguls, while tickled pink to have $1.25 trillion in toxic assets covered by the feds, along with hundreds of billions in direct handouts, are not using that money to turn around the free fall in housing foreclosures. As The Wall Street Journal reported, "The Mortgage Bankers Association cut its forecast of home-mortgage lending this year by 27% amid deflating hopes for a boom in refinancing." The same association said that the total refinancing under the administration's much ballyhooed Home Affordable Refinance Program is "very low."


LA Times -
While Mark Sanford works to salvage his marriage, Republicans are facing the prospect of a different kind of breakup: religious voters walking out on the GOP. A series of sex-related scandals over the last few years has undercut the party's assertions of moral authority and, worse, may serve to reinforce the doubts that many evangelical voters have traditionally harbored about the unholiness of the political realm.. . . A sudden and overwhelming shift of Christian conservatives from the GOP to the more secular-minded Democratic Party appears unlikely. As Laura Olson, an expert on religion and politics at South Carolina's Clemson University, put it: "The Republican Party is still going to be, at a minimum, the lesser of two evils." But in politics, subtraction can be just as important as addition. If large numbers of evangelicals were to stay home on election day, or channel their activism into outlets other than politics, the GOP could suffer grave consequences; over the last generation, devout churchgoer voters have become an increasingly vital part of the shrinking Republican base.

Those beating
up on Senator Roland Burris might be interested to know that Progressive Punch rates him the third most progressive member of the Senate.


Washington Post -
In two recent rulings and interviews, a federal judge in the District and one in Iowa said they had policy differences with Congress and a judicial commission that they said did not go far enough to change the guidelines for crack sentences in 2007. From now on, the judges wrote, they will calculate sentences for crack offenders by using the more-lenient sentencing guidelines for powder cocaine crimes. Recent Supreme Court rulings and supportive statements from top Justice Department officials paved the way for the judges' decisions. Nonetheless, such unilateral action from the bench is unusual. Legal scholars said the decisions highlight the judiciary's irritation at the slow pace of sentencing reform as Congress considers the first major revision of crack statutes in decades.


- On the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, police in Fort Worth, Texas violently raided a gay bar known as the Rainbow Lounge, arresting nearly half a dozen people and showing that the more things change in this country, sometimes the more they stay the same. Count the Fort Worth Texas Police Department as the most clueless and insensitive police departments around. . . Police brushed this off as a normal bar check, to make sure patrons were not breaking the law and that no minors were in the crowd. But . . . police showed up with zip cuffs and paddy wagons, which sure as hell sounds like they were trying to re-create Stonewall some 40 years ago.


Tree Hugger - By then end of this century, somewhere between 3,800-5,200 square miles of coastal land around New Orleans are likely to be submerged as global sea level rise outpaces the rate of sediment deposited by the Mississippi river, an area much larger than previously predicted. That's the word coming from researchers Michael Blum and Harry Roberts
They conclude that "significant drowning is inevitable" and that land areas now below 1 meter in elevation will become open water or marsh. . .


Haaretz, Israel -
A West Bank checkpoint managed by a private security company is not allowing Palestinians to pass through with large water bottles and some food items, Haaretz has learned. The company stops Palestinian workers from passing through the checkpoint with the following items: Large bottles of frozen water, large bottles of soft drinks, home-cooked food, coffee, tea and the spice zaatar. The security company also dictates the quantity of items allowed: Five pitas, one container of hummus and canned tuna, one small bottle or can of beverage, one or two slices of cheese, a few spoonfuls of sugar, and 5 to 10 olives. Workers are also not allowed to carry cooking utensils and work tools.


Yeas & Nays, Washington Examiner -
John Hodgman's routine at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association dinner last weekend got mixed reviews from the Washington elite - but not by YouTube viewers.As of Sunday afternoon, Hodgman's standup bit from the weekend prior had garnered 380,884 hits on the video-sharing site. Contrast that to President Barack Obama's remarks, which had earned less than half of that, at 153,115. In fact, Hodgman's performance topped Obama's remarks at May's White House Correspondents' Association dinner (302,349 hits) and Wanda Sykes' standup routine there as well (190,674).


NY Times - [The Nastional Cancer Institute] has spent $105 billion since President Richard M. Nixon declared war on the disease in 1971. The American Cancer Society, the largest private financer of cancer research, has spent about $3.4 billion on research grants since 1946. Yet the fight against cancer is going slower than most had hoped, with only small changes in the death rate in the almost 40 years since it began.One major impediment, scientists agree, is the grant system itself. It has become a sort of jobs program, a way to keep research laboratories going year after year with the understanding that the focus will be on small projects unlikely to take significant steps toward curing cancer. "These grants are not silly, but they are only likely to produce incremental progress," said Dr. Robert C. Young, chancellor at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia and chairman of the Board of Scientific Advisors, an independent group that makes recommendations to the cancer institute.


Scientific Blogging
- University of Minnesota Medical School researcher Iris Borowsky, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues found that one in seven adolescents believe that it is highly likely that they will die before age 35, and this belief corresponded to more adolescents engaging in risky behaviors. . . Those who engaged in risky behaviors such as illicit drug use, suicide attempts, fighting, or unsafe sexual activity in the first year were more likely in subsequent years to believe they would die at a young age. Vice versa, those who predicted that they'd die young during the first interview were more likely in later years to begin engaging in these same risky behaviors and have poor health outcomes. Notably, these teens were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with HIV/AIDS just six years later, regardless of their sexual preference. "While conventional wisdom says that teens engage in risky behaviors because they feel invulnerable to harm, this study suggests that in some cases, teens take risks because they overestimate their vulnerability, specifically their risk of dying," Borowsky said. "These youth may take risks because they feel hopeless and figure that not much is at stake."


Pew - The United States is on the verge of becoming a minority Protestant country; the number of Americans who report that they are members of Protestant denominations now stands at 51%. Moreover, the Protestant population is characterized by significant internal diversity and fragmentation, encompassing hundreds of different denominations loosely grouped around three fairly distinct religious traditions -- evangelical Protestant churches (26% of the overall adult population), mainline Protestant churches (18%) and historically black Protestant churches (7%). While Americans who are unaffiliated with any particular religion have seen the greatest growth in numbers as a result of changes in affiliation,


Portland Press Herald
- Three years after first winning seats on the Portland City Council, the Green Independent Party can claim some success in pushing its agenda through City Hall. Political observers say the three Greens on the council have proved to be effective consensus-builders on their core issues, such as reducing the city's energy usage and revamping land-use and transportation plans to encourage more housing downtown and less reliance on automobiles. "These are the guys who are moving and shaking," said Christopher O'Neil, the Portland Community Chamber's liaison to City Hall. "There is some question among Portlanders as to whether Portland should be moving or shaking, but the fact of the matter is ... they are the ones driving the agenda."


Another excellent Electric Politics interview,
this time with former National Security Council staffer and foreign policy guru Roger Morris.


Anonymous Boffin said...

About the war on cancer:

The death rate is 1.000, and always will be. If you don't die of something else first, the ticker will give out or you get the rot in the bones.

June 29, 2009 7:38 PM  
Anonymous the cancer business said...

The cancer business is second only, in size, to its big brother, petrochemicals.
In the 20 years from 1970 to 1990, in the USA alone, the cancer business was worth an estimated 1 trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000).2 If the same percentage of the overall disease bill applies in Britain as in the US, the current expenditure on cancer will be 3 to 6 billion pounds per year.

With these kind of amounts involved it is quite understandable why the drug/radiation/scalpel/vivisection cancer cartel have maintained a constant, ruthless campaign to suffocate, at birth, any and all attempts to introduce rational therapeutic regimes to deal with the species-threatening plague.


June 29, 2009 9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Crash Talk w Robert Scheer - Alternet.

Article failed to point out that our $14+ Trillion National Debt occured through Dubya's warmongering with its B-dollar no-bid contracts, and Welfare for the Rich.

Now, under Obama, the stimulus spending of 1.2 T could possibly have been put to better use. The Banks / Financial Institutions have been shown to be irresponsible and living in a world not steeped in reality.
But... he (Obama) tried. And, he did it the honest way by budgeting it through Congress, not like Dubya's administration where everything was rubber stamped and put directly onto the longterm National Debt.

June 30, 2009 9:11 AM  

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