Archive for December 2008

MTA Unveils Plans For 2009 Fare Hikes

December 31, 2008
MTA Budget proposal outlining fare hikes.

MTA Budget proposal outlining fare hikes.

( New York) – In a move which will affect the majority of New Yorkers and even more so during these trying economic times the MTA released their final proposed 2009 budget along with a four year financial plan for 2009-2012.

According to a report facing a small budget surplus in 2009, the next three years will spell disaster. The total deficit will wipe out the MTA’s finances. Here is a breakdown of the numbers:

Regular MetroCard fare: $2.25
Cash / Single fare ride: $3.00
Bonuses previously allotted to MetroCard purchases of 15% will be eliminated.
7-day MetroCard: $31.00
14-day MetroCard: $57.00
30-day MetroCard: $99.00
Express Bus Fare: $7.50

The report also outlines the resulting service cuts to trains and buses in New York City and Nassau County: (more…)

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Blagojevich Appoints Roland Burris As New Senator

December 30, 2008
Roland W. Burris

Roland W. Burris

(New York) – Illinois Governor Blagojevich has named Roland Burris as the new junior Senator from Illinois and he would be the only black senator. Burris has to be approved by the Illinois Secretary of State and then accepted by the Senate.

Roland Burris was the Illinois State Comptroller before being the Illinois Attorney General.

Burris himself has not been accused of any wrong doing in the investigation surrounding the governor and his appointment of the person to represent Illinois in the Senate.

The governor introduced him today at a press conference and we will await to see how the senate reacts to this. President-Elect Obama was upset that he did not listen to senate Democrats.

Israeli PM Ehud Olmert: “currently at the first of several stages” of the operation

December 30, 2008

Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a meeting with top officials that the latest military actions were to continue. Mr Olmert’s statement that the bombardment was “the first of several stages approved by the security cabinet” was quoted from a briefing he gave to President Shimon Peres on Tuesday.

Israel is determined to defeat Hamas and end rocket fire into its southern cities. So far there are reports of close to 400 casualities however there is no known number of how many of those are civilian. Hamas has responded with rockets which have killed at least 1 Israeli.

One would expect large civilian causalities in such a densely populated area however so far Israel has managed to keep its bombs on target as there have been no reports of schools or other civilian buildings being hit. Israel has explicitly said it is only targeting Hamas and its operatives in the strikes.

Most of the strikes into Gaza have been predominately in Gaza city which is at the northern part of the Gaza strip.

The Israeli military “has made preparations for long weeks of action”, deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai said in an interview with the BBC.

US BACKS ISRAELI ACTIONS.
“The United States understands that Israel needs to take actions to defend itself, In order for the violence to stop, Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel and agree to respect a sustainable and durable ceasefire.”

The United States has not called for restraint as many had hoped it would. President Bush has not announced his position on it, leaving the spokesperson to do so. Secretary of State Rice is pushing for a ceasefire.

– White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

CNN has more coverage:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/12/30/gaza.israel.airstrikes/index.html?iref=mpstoryview

The Next Step In Gaza

December 29, 2008

Israel has launched an attack on Hamas in the Gaza strip. We all know the outcome, hundred of Hamas fighters hurt along with the “collateral damage” of innocent civilians.

Yes, only a handful of Israeli’s have died due to the rocket attacks and their response was the killing of hundreds. One has to realize however that Israel has to appear unbeatable in order to survive while surrounded by what it perceives to be as enemies.

What I don’t seem to understand is Israel’s plan here. Sure, they attack Hamas and set them back for a bit, but then what? There are close to one and a half million people in the Gaza strip, in order to completely put down Hamas, Israel will have to reoccupy the Gaza strip.

When they attempted to do this against Hezbollah they failed, miserably. They did not achieve a single objective for the first time in their military history. What they did do, is send people into the arms of Hezbollah, and the people saw Hezbollah as a legitimate organization. These attacks are doing nothing but acting as a recruitment tool for Hamas, and Hezbollah.

If Israel wants to defeat Hamas and end these rocket attacks once and for all they will have to work with Hamas, as hard as that is for them to swallow, not all medicine is sweet.

End this renewed campaign, do not send in ground forces, start opening up the ports and airspace to allow for the people of Gaza to realize that Israel is not their enemy. Israel says it is not the enemy of the people in press conferences. But to those Palestinians who have seen bombs fall on their houses, those words are meaningless.

Time For Dems to Rise to the Occasion

December 29, 2008

Given the recent history of our Party officials, it is hard for many of us to believe that some of these people call themselves Democrats. In 2008 we lost Governor Blagojevich, Governor Spitzer, Representative Jefferson of New Orleans, and John Edwards to scandal and corruption. Sure sure, the Republicans have their fair share of the blame as well (see Ted Stevens) but this is not a time to be pointing fingers at the other side. Democratic President Harry Truman famously stated, “The Buck Stops Here” and it is time for Democrats to realize this philosophy.

2008 gave us Democrats the biggest majority in the Senate and the House that we’ve seen in ages. We were given a Democratic president, and the trust of the nation is now in our hands. We’ve painted the White House and the Congress blue, and now it is our responsibility to live up to these values. All too often we see individuals or groups of people climb to power, only to be consumed by their titles and it is for this reason that Americans have lost faith in their government. Over the Christmas holiday, an uncle of mine approached me and told me, “Nick, stay out of politics. It corrupts people. Politics is power and power corrupts people to the point of destroying who they once were.”  I opened my mouth but quickly shut it again, realizing that the ghosts of Spitzer, Edwards, Jefferson, and Blago’s careers were hovering over this conversation and shook my head laughing. But my uncle was reflecting sentiments that the entire nation was feeling. The last several years have succeeded in turning “politics” into a dirty word.

We Democrats have been granted a great privelege by the American people. We have been trusted to run the government through some of the most challenging times since more than half a century ago and  I implore all of our newly elected Democratic officials:

Read your campaign literature. Stand by what you said. The eyes of the world are now upon you. The skeletons of scandals past are on your shoulders. Make us proud to call ourselves Democrats. Make us proud to call ourselves American.

Israeli Embassy In London Faces Mass Demonstrations

December 29, 2008

(New York) Today protesters have gathered near the Israeli embassy to protest the recent military incursions into Gaza. We have clips from YouTube filmed by protesters outside of the embassy. The protesters were not allowed close to the embassy as they were held back by the London Metropolitan Police.

These protests follow reports stating that the embassy had received a white powder filled envelope which turned out to be a false alarm. Stay tuned for more updates.

Pakistan Moves Troops To Border With India

December 27, 2008
Map of Pakistan

Map of Pakistan

(New York) – Pakistan has started to move some of its troops based on the nations western border with Afghanistan and has asked that its soldiers stop going on leave due to the rising tensions it is facing with India on its eastern border. Senior Pakistani officials have cited the movement as a precaution “in view of the prevailing environment.”

Due to a lack of strong reliable sources within Pakistan we are currently unable to make an edcuated guess regarding the troop movments. Washington sources have told us that there is “no evidence of major troop movement” in Pakistan. (more…)