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Undernews For June 11, 2008

Undernews For June 11, 2008

Washington's Most Unofficial Source
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Editor: Sam Smith


The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. -- Steve Biko


Sam Smith

Having been an anthropology major, I am easily distracted from the business at hand by cultural idiosyncrasies. Take, for example, Barack and Michelle Obama doing the fist bump.

The incident brought back what was, for me, a long unresolved matter: when and why did athletes stop expressing joy and enthusiasm when they won something, replacing it with rigid, aggressive fist motions, arms raised as in the military salute of some exotic fascist land and an overall sense that what had happened was not cause for happiness but a triumph of vengeance. The losers, the victors seem to say with their hands and expressions, deserved to die.

Much the same shift has taken place in the more modest expressions used in greeting someone. In the 1960s, a typical greeting might involve hands meeting and then gently meeting again at the place where the thumb meets the palm, a motion both cool and warm. It is the shake I still prefer, despite it being considered grossly out of date. But then I come from a time when hip meant doing something a bit differently than the crowd, and when you have Baltimore Bullets guard Fred Carter, Barack Obama and Diane Feinstein all using the bump, it's time, like Miles Davis, to turn one's back on the audience.

The act of greeting evolved. For a while, many used a two stage shake followed by the hands reaching to the elbow and then slowly sliding back towards the wrist. A bit more complex, but still gentle and friendly.

And there were lots of other daps, as Wikipedia explains:

"Dap is a form of handshake that became popularized in the white mainstream society in the 1960s originating among African Americans. The term dap may have originated as an acronym for Dignity and Pride, (or may have been backronymed) and was popularly used by African American soldiers during the Vietnam War even though as a tradition it has existed in the African-American community for centuries. Though it can refer to many kinds of greeting involving hand contact, dap is best known as a complicated routine of shakes, slaps, snaps, and other contact that must be known completely by both parties involved, otherwise, an awkward but friendly improvisation occurs as the participants essentially mirror the jazz culture with creative forms of ordering the various moves of the hands with snaps, slaps, mutual knuckle bumps and finger waves (jazz hands).. . . It is a ritualized but common form of agreement between two or more people who offer this casual physical contact as an affirmation, congratulations or other type of agreement with an action, clever phrase, sports event or when admiring an attractive female or male"

Though including aggressive moves such as slaps and bumps, note that traditional dap was a complex greeting requiring time, attention and an affirmation of a relationship or understanding.

Then things began to change, most notably with the rise of the high five. Now, instead of a warm greeting requiring some lingering contact, we had instantaneous and somewhat aggressive slaps with the person being greeted. We had moved from affection to assertion.

Mind you, I write this as observation, not condemnation. I can't tell you how many babies I have attempted to teach high fives, too. And to 'gimme five' well can also take a bit of doing, as Wikipedia explains:

"Several variations on the standard high five exist in order to add uniqueness to the experience and to maximize satisfaction. One such variation is the 'flipside,' also called the 'windmill;' this method begins like a regular high five, however upon meeting up top, both high-fivers continue to swing their arms downwards until they meet again in a "low five". This method is depicted in the feature film Top Gun repeatedly. . . David Putty of Seinfeld is prone to giving strangers the high five, usually as a greeting, when it is not suitable nor appropriate. If one initiates a high five by raising a hand into the air and no one consummates the celebration by slapping the raised hand, the initiator is said to be 'left hanging.' This is considered to be a somewhat embarrassing."

Which brings us to the first bump, which some think was invented by Frank Carter in the 1970s. According to another account, "Deal or No Deal host Howie Mandel reportedly adopted the gesture as a friendly way to avoid his contestants' germs." But, in any case, like the high five, the act is brief, devoid of contact and somewhat aggressive. One interpretation might be that the bumpers are gently defining each other's territory and strength. It was no accident that George Bush's first chest bump was at a military academy.

But the personal always enters the equation. Lyndon Johnson used to have a greeting in which the non-shaking hand would reach up the forearm of the greeter, applying gentle pressure, a trick that prevented the latter from squeezing LBJ's own hand too tightly, a matter of no little concern to politicians. One of my favorite hand greetings is the apocryphal one of the Maine driver passing a friend on the road, the rule being, one finger raised above the steering wheel means, "How you doin'?; two fingers: "How you and the Missus?" and three fingers, "How's the family?"

Body language expert Janine Driver reports that "My husband and I, if we're walking down the street and he's proud of me, we have our own little method. He squeezes my hand three times, which means, 'I love you,' and I squeeze his four times, saying, 'I love you, too.'"

Driver continued, "You know, the mistake that a lot of body language experts make, is they say, 'OK, arms are crossed, so it means you're bored and disinterested.' They pigeonhole one gesture into a certain meaning. . . It's unscientific. The best thing to say is, 'Obama, is there any reason why you guys did that? What did it mean?' And he'll tell you . . . "

And he did, to NBC's Brian Williams: "It captures what I love about my wife. That for all the hoopla I'm her husband and sometimes we'll do silly things."

Fair enough. Gimme five, dude. We are all children of our culture. But if someone whom others like to imitate wanted to do our land a big favor, we could also use a greeting in which our fists, hands or chests don't collide as though in conflict, and in which victory could express the joy in one's own heart rather than the vengeance achieved over others. Something between a hug and a handshake that would not be one more superfluous symbol of our isolation but a warm reminder of how much we need each other.



JOSH GERSTEIN, NY SUN Long-standing ties between a member of Senator Obama's new vice presidential search team and a prominent mortgage executive the senator has pilloried could become a political liability that hampers the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee's ability to tap into public ire over the subprime mortgage crisis.

James Johnson, one of three people tapped by Mr. Obama recently to oversee the search for his running mate, took at least five real estate loans totaling more than $7 million from Countrywide Financial Corp. through an informal program for friends of the company's CEO, Angelo Mozilo, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday. The Journal said at least two of the mortgages, among a series of loans made available to people Countrywide officials called "friends of Angelo," were at rates below market averages, though it is difficult to predict a market rate without access to nonpublic information about a borrower's credit history and other factors that can reduce interest charges on a loan.

Among the loans to Mr. Johnson, according to the Journal, were a $5 million home equity line of credit against a house in Ketchum, Idaho, a 5.25% loan of $1.3 million for a home in Palm Desert, Calif., and a 3.875% loan of $971,650 for a home in Washington, D.C. The interest rates applied for the first five years of the loans.

"That reeks most high," a public relations specialist and vocal critic of Mr. Mozilo, Bonnie Russell of Del Mar, Calif., said. "Where's the 'change to believe in' if they're playing the same old game using the same old players?"

On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama has criticized Countrywide's executives. "These are the people who are responsible for infecting the economy and helping to create a home foreclosure crisis. Two million people may end up losing their homes," Mr. Obama said in March at a town hall meeting in Lancaster, Pa.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the senator from Illinois "fumed" over a total of $19 million in bonuses set to be paid to Mr. Mozilo and the president of Countrywide, David Sambol. "They get a $19 million bonus while people are at risk of losing their home. What's wrong with this picture?" Mr. Obama asked. . .

From 1991 to 1998, Mr. Johnson served as CEO of the Federal National Mortgage Association, also known as Fannie Mae, which worked closely with Countrywide, one of the nation's leading lenders and loan servicing companies. In 1996, Mr. Johnson named Mr. Mozilo as chairman of Fannie Mae's national advisory council. A 1999 article in the American Banker said the two men had a "close friendship."

Since leaving Fannie Mae, Mr. Johnson has lavished praise on Mr. Mozilo's performance, calling it "remarkably impressive " in a 2003 interview with Business Week. "By strengthening servicing in good times, Countrywide has done a brilliant job of insulating itself for the down cycle," Mr. Johnson told Fortune in 2003.

In recent months, the job has been looking less than brilliant, as Countrywide reported billions in losses, much of it from so-called subprime loans made to borrowers unqualified for typical loans. In 18 months, the firm's stock fell to about $5 from $45. In January, Bank of America agreed to take over Countrywide in a stock deal now valued at about $3.5 billion. . .


GLOBAL RESEARCH As the Financial Times reported in May, Barack Obama appointed James A. Johnson, the former CEO of Fannie Mae, "to head a secret committee to produce a shortlist for his vice-presidential running mate." A short list was discussed by the article, which listed, other than Hillary Clinton, "Jim Webb, the former secretary of the navy, Vietnam veteran and senator for Virginia; Tim Kaine, the governor of Virginia; John Edwards, the former vice-presidential candidate in 2004; Ted Strickland, the governor of Ohio; and Kathleen Sebelius, the governor of Kansas." Other potential nominees include "Sam Nunn, the former chairman of the Senate armed services committee; and Wesley Clark, the former head of Nato in Europe."

James A. Johnson, the man Obama asked to pick his running mate, played the same role for John Kerry back in 2004, and he selected John Edwards. As the New York Times reported, "Several people pointed to the secretive and exclusive Bilderberg conference of some 120 people that this year drew the likes of Henry A. Kissinger, Melinda Gates and Richard A. Perle to Stresa, Italy, in early June, as helping [Edwards] win Mr. Kerry's heart. Mr. Edwards spoke so well in a debate on American politics with the Republican Ralph Reed that participants broke Bilderberg rules to clap before the end of the session." The Times further reported, "His performance at Bilderberg was important,'' said a friend of Mr. Kerry who was there. ''He reported back directly to Kerry. There were other reports on his performance. Whether they reported directly or indirectly, I have no doubt the word got back to Mr. Kerry about how well he did."

James A. Johnson, Vice Chairman of Perseus, a merchant banking firm, is also a director of Goldman Sachs, Forestar Real Estate Group, Inc., KB Home, Target Corporation and United Health Group Inc., is also a member of the American Friends of Bilderberg, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission and is an honorary trustee of the Brookings Institution. . .

Notable among this year's Bilderberg guests are Kansas Governor, Kathleen Sebelius, who the Financial Times reported was on Johnson's short list of nominees. In fact, Sebelius is the only person mentioned as a possible running mate in the Financial Times article that was officially listed on the Bilderberg list of attendees. Could this be a sign that she may be the chosen one? Time will tell. However, another Democratic politician present at the meeting was Tom Daschle, so perhaps he is working his way back into politics. . .

Note in the following the highlighted use of the plural by the Obama spokesman

Recently, there has been much discussion about Barack Obama having possibly attended the recent Bilderberg conference in Virginia. This speculation arose when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton sneaked off for a secretive meeting while in Virginia. As the AP reported, "Reporters traveling with Obama sensed something might be happening between the pair when they arrived at Dulles International Airport after an event in Northern Virginia and Obama was not aboard the airplane. Asked at the time about the Illinois senator's whereabouts, [Obama spokesman Robert] Gibbs smiled and declined to comment."

The press that had been traveling with Obama were not made aware of the secretive meeting until the plane that they assumed Obama would be present on was moving down the runway, prompting many angry questions from the press towards Obama's spokesman, Robert Gibbs. One reported asked Gibbs, "Why were we not told about this meeting until we were on the plane, the doors were shut and the plane was about to taxi to take off?" to which he responded, "Senator Obama had a desire to do some meetings, others had a desire to meet with him tonight in a private way and that is what we are doing." This preceded another question, "Is there more than one meeting, is there more than one person with whom he is meeting?" Gibbs simply replied, "I am not going to get into all the details of the meeting." He again later repeated that, "There was a desire to do some meetings tonight, he was interested in doing them, others were interested in doing them, and to do them in a way that was private."

On Friday, June 6, it was reported that Bilderberg tracker, Jim Tucker, "called Obama's office today to ask if he had attended Bilderberg. A campaign spokeswoman refused to discuss the matter but would not deny that Obama had attended Bilderberg."


BILL MCGRAW, DETROIT FREE PRESS The DJ was spinning old records by James Brown, Aretha Franklin and the Meters during Funk Night last weekend, when the heavily armed cops dressed in commando-style uniforms burst into the west-side Detroit art gallery.

The cops yelled at the patrons to hit the floor. Witnesses said some officers used their feet to force down a couple of people who failed to move fast enough or asked too many questions.

Detroit police conduct raids frequently for all sorts of illegal activity, and the public never hears a thing. But cops almost never raid art galleries filled with young hipsters, students and at least one lawyer. So this May 30 raid, not unexpectedly, is turning out to have an afterlife: The gallery and patrons have decided to fight back, and the American Civil Liberties Union has become involved.

The site of the raid, the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit -- CAID -- on Rosa Parks Boulevard, is a nonprofit that, for 29 years, has promoted art and art education in Detroit. Aaron Timlin, CAID's executive director and a Detroit booster, notes that CAID's current exhibit, architectural designs to improve neighborhoods, is cosponsored by the City of Detroit.

To patrons, Funk Night, which lasts from midnight to 5 a.m., is a popular monthly dance party that is the laid-back essence of a sophisticated city. . .

To the police, CAID was a blind pig, where people were buying beer after hours. They handed out 130 tickets for loitering in a place where alcohol was being sold illegally and impounded 44 cars, which cost $900 to get back.

Cops found no drugs, no weapons, no people with outstanding warrants.

Police spokesman James Tate said officers warned Timlin about violations during a visit several weeks ago. "We don't often do that," Tate said. "He was advised of the issues he needed to clarify."

Timlin confirmed the visit, but said he believed he had made the necessary changes. He said the police told club officials May 30 that they also need a permit to allow dancing.

"Everyone thinks it's ridiculous we have to have a permit for dancing," Timlin said late last week.

Timlin, 37, is an art promoter and provocateur who once stood in boxer shorts at East Warren and I-75 to promote an exhibit, and another time walked from Detroit to New York wearing a cardboard box. . .

A number of patrons and their parents said that they can understand getting a ticket, but they are livid about having cars impounded and having to pay $900 to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office.

The payment is based on a state law that allows police to impound cars for drivers accused of involvement in drinking, gambling, drug and prostitution violations. . .

Spokeswoman Rana Elmir said the ACLU is investigating the case and is alarmed by "masked police officers in commando uniforms needlessly storming peaceful gatherings" and seizing cars.

Elmir asked why the police, if they had a problem with CAID's alcohol policy, didn't deal with the gallery itself. So far, the gallery has not been ticketed, Timlin said.


CBS - A new report on the NYPD's firearms training done in the wake of the Sean Bell shooting was drawing fire Monday night. The report recommends arming the entire department with a controversial weapon. Police firearms training came under heavy criticism in the aftermath of the Bell shooting when 50 shots were fired at Bell and his friends.

On Monday, a new report had a surprising recommendation to prevent such multi-shot incidents. "The outcomes might have been different if the officers had less than lethal devices other than pepper spray," said Dr. Bernard Rostker of the Rand Corporation. . .

Rand experts recommend that the NYPD issue Taser guns to more of its patrol officers so they can stun victims instead of shooting them.

Civil liberties groups have strong reservations about Tasers. "The big concern with Tasers is its 50,000 volts of electricity police officers will be shooting at people," said Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of the NYCLU. "Many people have died as the result of Tasers.". . .

The Rev. Al Sharpton blasted the NYPD over the report. "For the police department to release a report that does not address the case that everyone in the city has emotional and passionate opinions about, pro and con, is to be irresponsible," Sharpton said.


PATRICK COCKBURN, INDEPENDENT, UK The US is holding hostage some $50bn of Iraq's money in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to pressure the Iraqi government into signing an agreement seen by many Iraqis as prolonging the US occupation indefinitely, according to information leaked to The Independent.

US negotiators are using the existence of $20bn in outstanding court judgments against Iraq in the US, to pressure their Iraqi counterparts into accepting the terms of the military deal, details of which were reported for the first time in this newspaper.

Iraq's foreign reserves are currently protected by a presidential order giving them immunity from judicial attachment but the US side in the talks has suggested that if the UN mandate, under which the money is held, lapses and is not replaced by the new agreement, then Iraq's funds would lose this immunity. The cost to Iraq of this happening would be the immediate loss of $20bn. The US is able to threaten Iraq with the loss of 40 per cent of its foreign exchange reserves because Iraq's independence is still limited by the legacy of UN sanctions and restrictions imposed on Iraq since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in the 1990s. This means that Iraq is still considered a threat to international security and stability under Chapter Seven of the UN charter. The US negotiators say the price of Iraq escaping Chapter Seven is to sign up to a new "strategic alliance" with the United States.

The threat by the American side underlines the personal commitment of President George Bush to pushing the new pact through by 31 July. Although it is in reality a treaty between Iraq and the US, Mr Bush is describing it as an alliance so he does not have to submit it for approval to the US Senate.

Iraqi critics of the agreement say that it means Iraq will be a client state in which the US will keep more than 50 military bases. American forces will be able to carry out arrests of Iraqi citizens and conduct military campaigns without consultation with the Iraqi government. American soldiers and contractors will enjoy legal immunity.


DC EXAMINER If you're going to fire someone, you want to make sure you do it in a place where the now-unemployed can't make a scene.

You know. . . a place like, say, a church.

That, according to a new book - "Machiavelli's Shadow" - by former Time magazine reporter Paul Alexander, is where President George W. Bush informed trusted advisor Karl Rove in 2007 that his services would no longer be needed at the White House.

"On a Sunday in midsummer, George W. Bush accompanied Karl Rove to the Episcopalian Church Rove sometimes attended," writes Alexander. "They made their way to the front of the congregation. Then, during their time in the church, Bush gave Rove some stunning news. ‘Karl,' Bush said, ‘there's too much heat on you. It's time for you to go.'"

Maybe Bush knew what he was doing in breaking such bad news in such serene atmosphere: As Alexander documents, Rove has quite the temper.

"He's got a temper and a loud voice and he used it," said Bill Miller, a consultant who worked for and against Rove in Texas. "He's known for getting hot. There are buttons people know about. Losing and getting screwed with will [upset] him in a hurry."

CQ's Craig Crawford recalls this moment from 1999, when Crawford was editing National Journal's Hotline: "I thought Bush was called Bush Junior," Crawford told Alexander. "So, at Hotline, because we needed a device in our headlines to delineate him from Bush Senior, we were just calling him Bush Junior. Well, one day I picked up the phone and there was this person screaming at me on the other end. It was just nonstep yelling. It was Karl Rove and I mean he tore my head off over our calling Bush Bush Junior."



SHAWN MACOMBER, AMERICAN SPECTATOR - I learned so much reading The Cult of the Presidency, which seeds a very good history of the office with a slew of beautiful, strange and at times frightening anecdotes ? a humble President Cleveland answering thhe White House phone personally, LBJ having a hydraulic throne installed in Air Force One "he could raise or lower to achieve the appropriate level of intimacy or intimidation," the various uses and misuses of the CIA and FBI. Were there any stories or factoids that particularly shocked you during your research?

GENE HEALY, AUTHOR: The anecdotes I prefer are the polar opposite of the Wise, Compassionate Leader parables you often hear on Sunday morning talk shows. I prefer stories like the one (from Robert Dallek's biography of LBJ, Flawed Giant), where in a private oval office meeting in 1967, asked by a reporter why America was in Vietnam, Lyndon Johnson unzipped his fly, wagged the presidential member at his audience, and exclaimed "This is why!" I find that little story hilarious, horrifying, and, er, revealing: The president as Great Ape atop the world's most important primate hierarchy. It tells you something about how the office magnifies the personality flaws of the bizarre people who are willing to do what it takes to get there, with the result that you too often end up governed by a Narcissist with Nukes


Riverboat Gamblers, Texas Rounders, Roadside Hucksters,
and the Living Legends Who Made Poker What It Is Today

Des Wilson is a former contributing columnist from Britain for the Progressive Review who has lost his taste for politics and replaced it with a fascination with poker. Your editor, once a pretty fair poker player, has gone the other way. Even though Wilson is a close friend, I wouldn't put up with any British crap about American history and can firmly state that Wilson has made a serious contribution to the subject. - Sam

DAVID G. SCHWARTZ, LA VEGAS - As Wilson admits in the preface, this is not an exhaustive history of poker as a historian would write it, chronological narrative interspersed with hard-won quantitative data about numbers of card decks sold, arrest for poker-playing, and the like. Instead, it's an impressionistic journey-literally-through the past and into the present of poker.

Wilson's strategy is to revisit the scenes of past poker greatness, from Tombstone to Texas to Binion's Horseshoe, and through research, interviews, and observation, try to recover what is lost. Luckily, many of the figures of the last three eras are still alive, and those that have passed on are survived by friends, rivals, and associates. There a real richness of detail here, and no matter what your previous knowledge of poker, your insight into its history will be enriched. Two sections that stand out are Wilson's conversation with Amarillo Slim, probably the most controversial poker figure in its modern era, and his investigation into the disappearance of 1979 WSOP champion Hal Fowler.

As an active narrator, Wilson himself becomes a character in the book. This has the potential for disaster-should the writer show up as a swashbuckling hero, the reader might be turned off by the braggadocio. But Wilson appears as an honest, curious, student of the game, who's taking a trip and bringing a few close friends-including you, the reader-along with him. He's the foil to some of the game's legends and rising stars, driving Amarillo Slim's ranch and listening to his act, seeking out Bobby Hoff in a California card room, and almost invisibly eliciting recollections from other poker icons. When he does step into the frame-in the book's coda-it is for him to try his luck at the 2007 World Series of Poker. Since he's humble without being self-effacing, the reader can't help but root for him.

Don't view this as a narrative; see it as a collection of stories told to you as you're driving down a dark, endless Texas highway (or English road) on the way to your next big game.




A new ordinance in Minneapolis limits vehicle idling at three minutes. Mayor R.T. Rybak says the idea is to reduce air pollution. The ordinance limits most vehicle idling to three minutes, except in traffic. WCCO


A high school senior who brought her pony to school, partly as a prank, partly to protest high gas prices, was charged with breach of peace after school administrators called police. Sarah Friedson, 17, walked her chocolate-colored pony, Cocoa, to Staples High School, to celebrate her last day of school, holding a sign that read "Save Gas" on one side, "Staples 2008" on the other. Her father, Ronald, drove behind in the rain, his blinkers flashing. When they reached the high school parking lot, Friedson's friends flocked to the pony to pet him. School administrators, citing concern for the students' safety, called police. Both father and daughter were charged with breach of peace, a misdemeanor. In a statement released hours after their arrest, Westport police said both had ignored a security guards warning to keep the pony off school grounds, along with an earlier warning from school administrators. Hartford Courant


Sheriff John Green has spent 37 years in law enforcement. But these days he's best known around town for the law he won't enforce. With the economy soft and thousands of Philadelphians delinquent on their mortgages, Sheriff Green this spring refused to hold a court-ordered foreclosure auction. His move raised eyebrows on the bench and dropped jaws among lenders and their attorneys, who accuse him of shirking his duty to enforce legal contracts. It also prompted a sweeping, court-endorsed deal, scheduled to go into effect next week, that aims to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. Even as Congress moves forward with a federal plan that could insure up to $300 billion in refinanced mortgages, Mr. Green's unilateral approach has pushed Philadelphia to the leading edge of local responses to the national crisis. Michael M. Phillips, Wall Street Journal


Leading neocon Daniel Pipes (director of the Middle East Forum) said in an interview posted Wednesday at National Review Online, that if Barack Obama is elected, George Bush would attack Iran in the remaining ten weeks of his term. "Should the Democratic nominee win in November, President Bush will ‘do something.' and should it be Mr. McCain who wins, he'll ‘punt,' and let Mr. McCain decide what to do. Anti War Blog

Israel has withheld part of its $75m monthly tax revenue payment to the Palestinian Authority after a diplomatic offensive by the Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, designed to stop the continued expansion of Jewish settlements. The move appeared to mark a new low in relations between Israel and a moderate Palestinian leadership increasingly disillusioned by the lack of progress in talks with Ehud Olmert's government. Israel has accused Mr Fayyad, who is widely respected by Western governments, of trying to "undermine" its relations with Europe. The Palestinian Prime Minister has written to all EU prime ministers urging them to shelve plans to upgrade the EU's relationship with Israel until it ceases to "flout its international obligations", including those on settlement construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Independent, UK


The homeless and their advocates achieved an enormous victory. A Federal Court in Fresno approved a settlement of over $2 million for the destruction of their personal property. The settlement is the largest of its kind in the entire country. . . . The court had already determined that Fresno's practice of immediately seizing and destroying the personal possessions of homeless residents violates the constitutional right of every person to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. . . "The Court's ruling and the settlement should send a strong message to other cities throughout our country that if they violate the rights of their most vulnerable residents, they will be held accountable," said ACLU-NC staff attorney Michael Risher. INDY BAY


A new study by a team of political scientists and sociologists at the journal Environmental Politics concludes that 9 out of 10 books published since 1972 that have disputed the seriousness of environmental problems and mainstream science can be linked to a conservative think tank. . . . Of the 141 books which promote environmental skepticism, 130 (92.2 per cent) have a clear link to one or more CTTs - either via author affiliation (62 books) or because the book was published by a CTT (five books) or both (63 books). Furthermore, most of the remaining 11 books clearly reflect a conservative ideology, but are not connected to a CTT and are not coded as such here. Indeed, it appears that only one of the 141 books was written by a current self-professed liberal - Greg Easterbrook (1995). Science Blogs


JUSTIN RAIMONDO, ANTI-WAR I have to say I was wrong - dead wrong - about Obama. In my eagerness to find a bright spot in a rapidly darkening world, I grasped on to his alluring rhetoric and his at-times trenchant critique of the Bush foreign policy, like a sinking man holding on to a life-jacket. But looking for hope in all the wrong places doesn't create opportunities for peace - it only prolongs our illusions. We must face the prospect of a much more terrible conflict than we have ever known, and look it squarely in the face, without flinching or looking for false messiahs.


At the Massachusetts Democratic convention, Progressive Democrats of America candidate Ed O'Reilly successfully challenged Sen. John Kerry by attaining twenty-two percent of the delegate votes, surpassing the threshold necessary to have his name placed on the ballot. This is the first time since 1984 that Kerry has faced a primary challenge.

In a CNN poll, 60 percent of Clinton supporters said they would vote for Obama, but 17 percent said they would vote for McCain and 22 percent, said they would not vote at all if Clinton were not the nominee. The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 7.5 percentage points. The poll was conducted after Obama clinched the Democratic nomination. CNN

The Working Families Party has been gathering strength in . . . the 52nd Assembly district, [which] includes Bay Ridge and Brooklyn Heights. In 2006, it polled 22.6% of the vote for Assembly in that district, almost triple what the Republican nominee polled. In 2004 it had also out-polled the Republicans, even though the WFP share of the vote had only been 11.5%. In 2002 there had been no Republican nominee in the race, and the WFP had polled 15.3%. In each of these elections, the Working Families Party cross-endorsed the Democratic nominee, Assemblywoman Joan L. Millman. Generally when a minor party in New York is the kind of party that mostly doesn't run its own nominees, and cross-endorses major party nominees, it gets between 3% and 5% of the vote in such races. Ballot Access News

Survey USA conducted general election polls in a number of different battleground states using different president-vice president combinations, and found that when the Democratic nominee is paired with the former Senator for North Carolina, the result is an incredibly popular team. . . The results give Obama/Edwards double-digit leads in states like New York, Missouri, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and California. That could mean a landslide for Democrats in November, especially considering the competitive nature of national contests in Pennsylvania and Ohio in recent years. . . And typically red states like Nebraska would also go to the Democrats in a squeaker. . . Despite the potential success of a ticket that uses his name, Edwards has maintained that he's not interested in running for vice president a second time, including a recent reiteration of that sentiment this week. Eyes on Obama

A former software sales manager for Election Systems & Software, the largest voting machine company in the country, has been named county elections administrator for Fort Bend County in Texas. According to a local news report, John Oldham had been regional sales manager, account manager and Illinois state manager for ES&S, which is based in Nebraska. More recently he had been an independent contractor for both ES&S and various election jurisdictions. The county does not currently use ES&S machines. Instead it uses touch-screen DRE machines made by Hart InterCivic, a Texas company. Oldham is replacing the previous elections director, J.R. Perez, who abruptly resigned in March after clashing with county commissioners over the Hart InterCivic machines. According to the news report, Perez had wanted to get rid of the $4 million Hart machines in favor of machines that would produce a paper trail. Wired


NOTE: You can post your comments on any of the above stories by going to our Undernews site and searching for the headline. Once posted, a copy is immediately mailed to the Review and we pick some of the most interesting to publish here.

- - Johnson an old floorwalker/pr guy for Dayton's Dept. Store in Minneapolis before becoming Mondale's body man and rest is history. . only slightly more sleazy and horrendously (two great career triumphs: managed Mondale in '84; behind scenes Kerry in '04) less intelligent than Holder, who at least can run a pardon scam when he's ordered to. . . as Frederic March the fatherly Admiral says of Bill Holden as he flies off the carrier deck in The Bridges at Toko-Ri.... "Where do we find such men?" - Roger


- - I am responding to today's Undernews because I assumed that you were either footing your statistical data -- comparing "hits" with "actually read" numbers -- or that you were checking on the vision, or state of senility, of a selected sample of readers. In either case, I instinctively sensed that it was a test and that I had better pass it. For the record, then, it appears from my records that we have two editions of the "Undernews" with the same date: 4 June 2008.

Some years ago, I attended a press briefing given by the new owners of one of our local newspapers, called at the time, the "Bellevue Journal." They were from out of town -- Hawaii as I recall -- and felt compelled to reassure readers and advertisers about their commitment to the community. They did so by announcing that they "would make no changes to the newspaper." They were true to their word. The next day the "Bellevue Journal" came out -- without changing the date. (Coincidentally, it was also a Thursday edition.) - Jim

Some days you just like to hold on to forever.


- - You appear to trust and seem to be cheering for this person Obama to be president of the USA. Can you explain his relationship with Lieberman as you have his relationships with Wright, Ayers and Pfleger? - BBF Minneapolis, MN

- - For anyone to be elected President of this dysfunctional country with its absurd government and election procedures, certain things are absolute givens. On must, for example, be a church-going Christian whose faith has shaped his/her vision. This is but one of myriad prerequisites that ensure that only sanctimonious hypocrites, or reasonable facsimiles thereof, can gain the office. Your greatest fear was Hillary becoming President. Obama fulfilled all the necessary prostitutions and beat her. And you, utter ingrate, cavil at his hypocrisy. You better hope he is a hypocrite, after eight years of a jerk who actually believed all his bullshit and whose religious postures were more than window dressing. How easy it is to be Ralph Nader, speak truth to power and make no effort actually to win. Save your bitching for the horrible system and root for the rare Machiavelli who just might be a significant improvement on recent presidents. The only other option is to have an elected president die early in office, having selected a honest and capable bullshit-free veep. Harry Trumans do not happen often. Cut Obama some slack as the least of all evils and drop your own sanctimony, in its way as miserable as Obama's with far fewer excuses. - WH, ME

- - I like the following plan: Hillary on the Supreme Court; Bill as Secretary General of the UN; John Edwards as AG; and as VP, Govs. Richardson or Strickland or Gen. Clark or Sen. Webb. - Bruce


- - This reminds me of a PSA that used to air hawking treatment of depression: displaying a reproduction of Picasso's "Man With Blue Guitar." The voice-over suggested that had modern treatments for depression existed in the artist's time, he might never have experienced the melancholia that caused him to paint the pictures of his 'blue period'--never mind, of course, that some of Picasso's greatest masterpieces emerged from this period. As I recall, the figure in the painting would morph into the animated image of a cheery oldster with a big smile on his face, suddenly strumming a happy tune on his now rosy instrument.


- - Well that's profound.


- - God forbid that people should ever be held to any kind of standards of behavior. We all know how much more smoothly things run when everyone runs amok, just doing as they damn well please to anyone else. After all, isn't that pretty much the basis of the whole American Way?


- - Or as my old marine corpse buddy used to say after he returned from Viet Nam, "Eat the apple; fuck the corps."


- - That's quite a poor article, written as a Falsetinian legend and not connected to reality at place. Any way, the Arabs in Palestine have their own state since 1922. Jordan contains about 80% of Palestinian Arabs next to the Bedouin-Saudi Arabs. When the Arab refugees will return to their state in Jordan they will be about 98% of the citizens of their national state.

The very core of the conflict is that Arab Muslims in Palestine don't accept the notion that non-Muslim entity has any right to create it's own "National Home" in the Islamic "Dahr a-Salam" in the ME. Most of the Arabs in Palestine don't recognize the legitimacy of the state of the Jews in Palestine and act for the outside and the inside to change the now-reality by peace steps attached with terror acts (like the Fatah movement) or through terror only (like the Hamas, Islamic Jihad).

The question, or I might say the problem, for Israel is how to hold the Islamic forces back and not let them achieve success while not making concessions by themselves. Pushing Israel back without true political and sociological process will bring all partners to huge colossal blast, that Gaza's Hamanistan regime will just be reflecting pure moderation. It is neither the duty nor the obligation of the US to accelerate that process. One has to accept the fact that the so called the "Arab Palestinian" people is not ready for historical acceptance of others as equal and free.

I want to remind all that until 1949 when people said "a Palestinian" everybody thought about Jews and the land of Israel. When the European hooligans of the 30th - 40th wanted to persecute Jews they shouted at them "Jews to Palestine. Keep Europe clean". There wasn't any Arab Palestinian people until the middle of the 20th century. Arabs in Palestine were called "Palestinian Arabs" by the British conqueror of the land. The Jews were called "Palestinian Jews". The phrase didn't mean nationality per se but citizenship of the British mandate occupation. The Jewish state started to be built in the 19th century. Israel is not the out come of the holocaust (as many Anti Semitic / Anti Zionist demagogues claim), but rather created in spite of the holocaust!

I might say that I am tired of your narrative which ignores the reality in the ME and think from far distance that you have all resolutions for 100 years of conflict. You are quite disconnected as you point out in your 47' UN partition plan's remark. Why the conflict had busted then? Because those Palestinian Arabs rejected the idea that Palestinian Jews should have their own national state.

I'm disappointed to see how you failed to mention that the Arab Palestinian in Palestine already received their national entity to express their own national desires from the British occupier in 1922, while more than half of the Palestinian soil was handed to the Hashemite Saudi Bedouin prince hood to govern the Arab Palestinians in Trans-Jordan. The other small "half" waited to the fulfillment of Balfur declaration which failed to follow.

Hence, therefore, the only justice and stable solution for the "Palestinian problem" is by creating two national states for two peoples and not 3 states (Jordan, Palestine, Israel). Jews and Arabs will be free live where ever they choose. Jews will vote the Knesset in Jerusalem and the Arabs to the Parliament in Aman. This should be the basic for endurable solution to the deep problem

- - More never-ending anti-Semitism. "No Arab government has any interest in attacking it." If that was so, then why do they continue to remain in a declared state of war with Israel? Why do they continue to support the Palestinians, even though they've clearly lost the war?

The right-wingers and the religious fundamentalists have done a lot of damage to Israel, just as they have to the U.S. But to suggest that they have "destroyed" Israel is ludicrous, just as it's ludicrous to suggest that the US has been destroyed by the Democrats and Republicans. Both the US and Israel will survive this period.

The Jews have been living on that land for over 3,000 years now. They have survived despite endless attacks against them. Far from being destroyed, they are now the wealthiest they have ever been, have the largest population they've ever had, and have the most military power they've ever had. That is a very strange kind of "destruction". They have never been dependent on outside help for survival, and they are not dependent on it now.

Israel has problems but it will survive, as it always has. It seems to me rather that it is the Palestinians who have destroyed themselves, and who will eventually disappear from the pages of history.

- - More never ending AIPAC propaganda.

- - The problem for Israel is how to regain any credibility in the realm of humanity, given the 60 year holocaust it has inflicted on the Palestinians. And while Israel may have destroyed itself morally, despite the willingness to believe the Zionist supremacist lies demonizing the victims of its occupation, I'm sure those still suffering in occupied Palestine would beg to differ with the title of this piece "How Israel Destroyed Itself."

- - It's time to get serious about peace in the Middle East, and cut off all aid to Israel until it gives up its nuclear weapons before imagining them in every neighboring country Israel refuses to get along with. The only real threat to the U.S. in the Middle East is that lying parasite Israel, that delights in playing the puppeteer when it comes to getting U.S. soldier killed abroad.

- I'd appreciate it if the resident goys here would stop treating the terms "Jews", "Zionists" and "AIPAC" as embodying one and the same entity. And if you say they are one and the same, then, yes, you are an anti-Semite. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.


- - Journalists in the U.S. admitting they were wrong would require some sort of integrity or ethics among U.S. journalists. Don't hold your breath.

- - If they had any integrity whatsoever, they could just list some of the worst laws that Bush broke, what the punishments are, and tell their viewers a couple phone numbers in Congress to complain.

- - Meanwhile war criminals Bush, Cheney, and the rest of the administration are still at large.

- - It is not just that the media was complicit in the hyping of WMD propaganda. Even if Iraq had WMD, there would have been no legal justification under US or international law for the invasion. It was not just WMD propaganda either. Even when Bush told obvious stupid bonehead lies, or contradicted what he said a few weeks before, or even in the same speech, the media ignored the blunders. The media was, and for the most part remains, complicit with this archetype of a malevolent ne'er-do-well.

-- In what got to be a comical pas de deux, during the buildup to the Iraq War I kept getting assurances from a Chris Matthews' Hardball booker about an appearance on the show to discuss both Middle East politics -- which I'd covered for print and television through the years -- and separately human rights abuse in america in the form of polygamy, which I'd written about extensively in key mainstream newspapers. The booker complained about the pressures on him to book the generals. Then I watched in shock as Hardball booked John Mccain (the FLDS polygamist cult has been headquartered in Arizona and Utah for almost 100 years), Orrin Hatch and Mike Leavitt with Matthews failing to discuss the human rights issue of polygamy. Ever wonder what makes Chris Matthews smile?


- - We participated in a candle-light peace vigil held in a neighboring New Hampshire town that February night of 2003. The turn out was not very large. I remember being taunted by people driving by and yelling "Kick their ass, take their gas." And so it goes...


- - Obama could ask Hillary why her husband doubled the prison population in this country in the nineties.

- - Of course, the wholesale embrace of a culture that teaches these same young black men that killing, dealing, robbing, and raping are legitimate rites of passage to becoming a "man" would in no way have anything at all to do with some of these stats, oh, no indeed.

- - You'll pardon me if I'm skeptical of the constant knee jerk primitive neural response to any revelations regarding bad news for poor people of any color being the dismissal of any empathy (they deserve it, you imply). Crime statistics reveal that relatively few of incarcerations are for violent crimes but rather nonviolent (mostly possession) drug offenses, a category wherein it is documented that there are great disparities in arrests, prosecution and sentences for comparable crimes between blacks and whites.

I personally know several black men who served time in prison for so called crimes which would have been deemed self defense had they been committed by white men. My best friend's father stabbed a would-be robber, served five years, got out and worked the rest of his life in a steel mill with no further arrests other than DUI. Another friend of mine when he was nineteen shot an armed robber, went to prison for aggravated assault, and has had his life pretty much ruined because he didn't want to be robbed. Not only does law enforcement fail to protect the black community, it punishes them for protecting themselves, and targets them for minor drug offenses particularly marijuana possession.


- - I find the that I rather like and admire both Wright and Pfleger for having the guts and audacity to speak the truth as they see it. In this "politically correct" and repressive society we seem to have these days, I find it curiously refreshing. - Chris


-- Time to pull that tax exemption away. Priests and bishops should be forced to register as agents of a foreign power (the Vatican). - T. Lassiter Jones


- - Nobody, other than union members who aren't selling out their fellow members by having their noses up the asses of the "business agents," seem to understand that unions are failing because they serve the needs of leadership rather than membership and are little different than company unions.


- - The sheep of America have decided on what they deem the lesser of evils. The revolution is on hold. Corporate America, at least in the guise of the health insurance industry, will again triumph. I still believe that the populace in America is a sleeping giant; however it will take a mighty big alarm clock to wake them up. The bread and circuses have induced a extremely soporific state. We need a very large can to bang.

- - There is nothing worse than a progressive evangelical except a conservative one.


- - Why does no one forward the argument that a public school is an extension of government, and that citizens have a constitutional right to challenge the actions of their government and its representatives?

- - I don't know why so many parents are so willing to turn their kids over to the government for brainwashing.

- - So basically the court upheld freedom of speech, as long as no one pays any attention. That's pretty much the case law definition of freedom of speech for a few decades now.

- - Palfrey was a whore running a whorehouse. Lie down with pigs and you'll end up either smelling like them or being eaten by them.


- - "Bill Clinton has been paid by $3.3 million by Info USA, an Omaha, Nebraska company that has been identified as a key provider of specially designed databases that have been sold to criminals who use the detailed information to defraud the unsuspecting elderly." Almost sounds like AARP.

- - You could have summed up the reasons not to have Hillary on the ticket in one word: Bill -- Elderlady


- - Above all else we must hope for housing prices to stabilize at a level beyond which people can actually afford them. Then things will be good. People funneling every penny into mortgage payments so they can't save for retirement or have any disposable income left over for the pleasures of life and the health of the rest of the economy. This will be heralded as good news. I'm sick of the wrong-headed perspective on falling housing prices.

- - The sag in prices, if it exists at all, is only temporary. Real estate, real property, is a global commodity and will therefore retain its relative value to other global commodities. As the dollar continues to shrink in value, eventually housing will reflect the short-fall in buying power and prices will then soar through the roof, as it were. The trick will be holding onto the land long enough to benefit from the inevitable correction. Seldom mentioned during discussions that evoke the Great Depression is the fact that stocks generally recovered their full value within three or four years of the great crash of '29.


- - "There is a labor shortage in Iowa. Wages are the second lowest in the country.". . . What they meant to say was there is a slave labor shortage in Iowa. America used to own its slaves now it just rents them.


-- Given McCain's comments, and the identical comments of other U.S. leader that supposed represent the U.S. people, it's high time Israel started paying U.S. taxes, instead of bleeding the U.S. economy dry.


- - Paul Kane's comments reveal one thing: that the Washington Post continues to marginalize itself as a newspaper.


-- Can anyone argue that genocide of Muslims in places like Iraq, Iran, and Pakistan isn't a good, sane, forward-looking American foreign policy? Didn't 9/11 change everything? Didn't it officially enshrine Zionism as the state religion?


- - I warned you back in 1961, when I said: "We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. . . Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together." - Dwight D. Eisenhower


- - And in so doing, might one suppose that the present occupant may have viewed the following as something of a how to guide:

"He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers."

"He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries."

"He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance."

"He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to Civil Power."

"He has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation."

"He is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy of the Head of a civilized Nation."


- - Cell phones are a distraction not only at concerts but almost everywhere.


- - Obama is running an effective campaign in an environment that is actively hostile to thinking and ideas. Why not give him his due and lay off for a while. Critical words about words are getting tiresome. Hopefully you will get the opportunity in the years to come to comment on his deeds. - Bill Hennessey


- - Thank goodness Ralph is running again this year, so we can get these brief gusts of truth and perspective every now and then.

- - Every time I read an article like this I thank my lucky stars I decided to home school my kid 9 years ago. What kind of a parent would allow their kids to go to such a place? Many parents don't even realize they have a choice to avoid public school, other than expensive private schools. Home schooling is a rapidly growing movement, and with situations repeatedly coming up like the one in the article, it's no wonder that it is.


- - The Clintons have both been stealth Republicans ever since the 90's, destroying the Democrat Party from within. After sabotaging Obama's campaign, the obvious plan is for Hillary to switch parties after Obama wins the nomination, and run for VP on a Republican McCain-Hillary ticket. - Realist

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