News Sept. 28

Senator Sanders

 

Who Owns Congress? "The reality of Washington is that those people who have the money are able to influence public policy. That's the reality today. It could get worse. The Supreme Court is considering a case that could be used to open the coffers of all the big corporations to directly fund campaign ads in this country. The antidote is public funding of elections so that everybody has the opportunity to run for office without having to be beholden to powerful special interests," Sanders said in his weekly Web video on The Huffington Post, Politico, AlterNet and elsewhere. LINK, LINK and LINK

William Safire, 79 The Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist who died Sunday found common ground with progressives during one of the most intense battles of the Bush-Cheney era. Safire opposed letting a handful of corporations gain control of media conglomerates.  After the Federal Communications Commission backed down, Safire declared, "Now it's up to Congress." Darned if a number of conservatives in the House and Senate didn't sign on with progressives like Vermont independent Bernie Sanders..." John Nichols blogged for The Nation. LINK

Northgate Turns 20 People who live in a "affordable housing complex" in Burlington are celebrating 20 years of self ownership. A private developer built Northgate Apartments as affordable homes, but later wanted to turn it into a more upscale area. City leaders began a buyout process, eventually putting the complex in the residents' hands. Sen. Bernie Sanders was mayor at the time. "Here we are today, celebrating the fact that the people themselves, in a cooperative way, are owning this beautiful affordable housing. That's a pretty good success story," WPTZ reported. LINK and VIDEO

Dairy Crisis Lancaster Farming reported that USDA's Dr. Joseph Glauber gave a grim recitation of developments that have shaken the industry at a special hearing held last weekend by Vermont's U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders. Also at the hearing, DOJ's Christine A. Varney promised a "critical evaluation" of the concentration of milk processors. Sanders has been increasingly outspoken on the issue of concentration in the dairy processing industry, which he believes is directly harming Vermont's 1,100 dairy farms and those elsewhere across the country. LINK and LINK

Vermont Voters "The Vermont electorate, though liberal in general, has a cautious streak when it comes to the governorship. That is how Douglas, a moderate's moderate, has been able to win election four times. Vermont voters are happy to send Bernie Sanders to Washington to rail at the iniquity of corporate America, but closer to home, Vermonters worry about taxes and jobs," the Times Argus and Rutland Herald contended in an editorial about the emerging field of Democratic candidates. LINK

International

Iran Tehran said it successfully completed two days of missile tests that including launching its longest-range missiles on Monday, weapons capable of carrying a warhead and striking Israel, U.S. military bases in the Middle East, and parts of Europe, The Associated Press reported. The Obama administration is scrambling to assemble a package of harsher economic sanctions that could include a cutoff of investments to the country's oil-and-gas industry and restrictions on many more Iranian banks than those currently blacklisted, The New York Times reported. LINK and LINK

Gates: Setting Afghan Withdrawal Date Would Be 'Strategic Mistake' Defense Secretary Robert Gates pushed back against calls by Congress for the administration to set a timeline for withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan, as unease about the White House's handling of the war grows on Capitol Hill and among the public. In two television interviews, Mr. Gates argued that the Afghan war was vital to U.S. national security, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK

U.S., Allies Vow Support for Karzai The United States and NATO countries fighting in Afghanistan have told President Hamid Karzai's government that they expect him to remain in office for another five-year term and will work with him on an expanded campaign to turn insurgent fighters against the Taliban and other militant groups, The Washington Post reported. LINK

Global Warming Climate talks kicked off in Bangkok Monday with the U.N. urging nations to break the deadlock over a global warming deal that is supposed to be finalized in just 70 days time, and warning that failure to act would leave future generations fighting for survival. Negotiations on a new U.N. climate pact have been bogged down by a broad unwillingness to commit to firm emissions targets, and a refusal by developing countries to sign a deal until the West guarantees tens of billions of dollars in financial assistance - something rich countries have so far refused to do, The Associated Press reported. LINK

Obama to Pitch Chicago Olympics President Barack Obama will travel to Denmark this week to support Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president, told The Associated Press Monday morning that Obama will leave Thursday and join his wife, Michelle, in Copenhagen. LINK

 

National

Social Security Big job losses and a spike in early retirement claims from laid-off seniors will force Social Security to pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes the next two years, the first time that's happened since the 1980s. The deficits - $10 billion in 2010 and $9 billion in 2011 - won't affect payments to retirees because Social Security has accumulated surpluses from previous years totaling $2.5 trillion, AP reported. LINK

States Rush to Avoid Losing $9 Billion in Highway Funds States are urging Congress and the White House to act fast to change a law that may soon deprive them of nearly $9 billion in federal highway funds, the equivalent of roughly one-third of the amount in the economic-stimulus package. In a meeting Thursday, Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican, pressed Vice President Joe Biden for help and Biden promised to pursue the matter, the result of a technicality in legislation passed several years ago, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK

Washington Bails Out Detroit The Detroit Lions ended a 19-game losing streak defeating the dreadful Washington Redskins 19-14.

Vermont

Border Streets to Close Border security agents from the U.S. and Canada met across the border in Derby Line and Stanstead Friday morning to mark an end to an era. They stood on both sides of the international boundary on Ball/Phelps Street. The unguarded streets are about to be closed to through traffic for the first time since the two communities were founded - something that border security officials have pressed for since 9/11, The Caledonian-Record reported. LINK

Burlington Telecom Officials with Burlington's municipal telephone, cable and Internet service say they expect it will be late Tuesday or Wednesday when they file an expansion plan with the Vermont Public Service Board. Burlington Telecom announced this past week that it hopes to expand its footprint beyond Vermont's largest city and help the effort to bring broadband Internet access to the entire state, The Associated Press reported. LINK