Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Emergency Plan Needed to Save New Yorkers Democracy

Why Is the Media Silent On the Board of Elections Lack of A Plan to Allow People to Vote in the Black Out Areas?

 It is clear there will be no electricity in many parts of NYC next Tuesday, election day.  It also clear that many people will be living in friends and family members homes far away from their homes.  We are 138 hours away from voting and the media and elected officials by not saying a word are allowing the proven failures at the NYC Board of Elections to come up with solutions to there very serious problems to all but elections lawyers will be representing the next Tuesday's losing candidates contest their clients lost due to the BOE incompetence. 24/7 coverage on local TV on the effects of the storm and nobody is asking the BOE or the mayor questions on how are New Yorkers in the black out areas going to vote.  How can anyone in this town call themselves journalist when they are not looking for the peoples right to vote?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Election 2012
Storm Pushes Presidential Race From Spotlight
The presidential campaign entered a delicate phase on Tuesday, suddenly becoming a sideshow to the hurricane.
G.O.P. Turns Fire on Obama Pillar: Auto Bailout
The latest attempt to win votes in Ohio, criticizing aspects of the auto industry recovery, has provoked a backlash.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Refusing to Give Credit Where Credit Is, Perhaps, Due

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg was a reassuring presence over the weekend, keeping New Yorkers informed about preparations for the approaching storm in his characteristically no-drama, we’ll-get-through-this voice.
The Day
The Day
Clyde Haberman offers his take on the news.
But any mayor would have done what he did in the crisis. So why give him credit?
Does that sound harsh? It does to our own ears. But we’re simply applying the same standard that Mr. Bloomberg uses for other leaders. He has a way of finding them unworthy of praise for even their most critical decisions.
This tendency is reinforced by the publication of an interview with him in the new issue of The Atlantic magazine. In an eyebrow-arching exchange, the mayor was asked if President Obama deserved credit for ordering the raid that killed Osama bin Laden last year.
No way, he replied.
“That’s like giving Harry Truman credit for dropping the bomb: any president would’ve pushed that button, any president would’ve dropped the bomb,” Mr. Bloomberg said. He was referring, of course, to the American atomic bombs dropped on Japan to speed the end of World War II — first on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, then on Nagasaki on Aug. 9. Japan announced its readiness to surrender on Aug. 15.
As cosmic decisions go, hitting your enemy with the most devastating weapon known to humankind would seem at the top of the list. (Whether one should get “credit” for it is an argument best left for another time.) But Mr. Bloomberg was more impressed by other actions taken by President Truman. Not every leader, he said, would have relieved Gen. Douglas MacArthur of command during the Korean War or integrated the Army or approved the Marshall Plan to help rebuild a war-shattered Europe.
“But dropping the bomb, no,” he said, “and I don’t think, in this case, Osama bin Laden.”
The evidence shows, though, that not every president would have surely ordered the Navy SEALs raid that sent Bin Laden to wherever he is now. President George W. Bush had no such mission on his radar, and in 2007 Mitt Romney said, “It’s not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.” He did add, however, that he supported going after the entire “Islamic jihad movement.”
Even at the highest ranks of the Obama administration, some had doubts about the operation, including whether Bin Laden was in the house in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that was the target. This was hardly a gimme, said Mark Bowden, author of a new book called “The Finish: The Killing of Osama bin Laden” (Atlantic Monthly Press).
“It seems to me a lot of presidents might have been more inclined to take the less risky option of firing a missile or, in the case of Vice President Biden, waiting until they had more information to be certain the target was really Bin Laden,” Mr. Bowden told Azi Paybarah, a senior writer for the Web site Capital New York. “President Obama made the decision to take the riskiest course.”
He called Mr. Bloomberg’s remarks “kind of small-minded,” adding that “any fair-minded person, it seems to me, would give Obama credit for having handled this well.”
As for whether anyone sitting in the White House would have dropped the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, that is certainly questionable. (For that matter, so is the matter of whether the bombings alone hastened the end of combat. Some historians are inclined to credit the Soviet Union’s entry into the war against Japan on Aug. 8, 1945.)
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Truman’s successor as president, said he’d been informed about bomb preparations in July 1945, when he was supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe. Eisenhower wrote in his memoirs that he had told the secretary of war, Henry L. Stimson, that he had “grave misgivings.” Among his reasons, he said, was “my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary.”
Even the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, on its Web site, says that while Truman chose the nuclear course, he had “many alternatives at his disposal to ending the war.” Clearly implied is that other leaders might have decided differently.
So as eager as we are to credit Mr. Bloomberg for his calm handling of preparations for Hurricane Sandy, it’s hard to see how to do so and stay true to the test of leadership that he himself set.

E-mail Clyde Haberman:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

 “I Will Get Rid of the Albany’s Rats”

My name is Sebastian Martínez (As you can see I am of the FELINE ethnicity) I am running as a write-in candidate For the New York State 34th Senatorial District. My Slogan: "I Will Get Rid of the Albany's Rats" On both House Of the State Legislatures. It is simple just write my name on the ballot, there, voters can write in the name of the candidate they prefer— Not the one imposed by the political bosses. You don't have to live on my NY senatorial district. You can write-in my name on any race in the state as well in the whole nation, Whether you live in California or New York state. I will not accept any contribution. MosPoliticians sell their soul to the higher bidder. Is a corporation is a "person," Them my candidacy as a member of the Feline family is valid.
On November 6 Vote for Sebastian (El Gato) Martínez. The bosses candidate Jeffrey D. Klein is only beholding to the bosses.
State Sen. Jeffrey Klein was one of the pols who stopped the soda tax in its tracks, Albany insiders say. >
State Senator Jeffrey Klein

video by Rafael Martínez Alequín

My Write In Non-Campaign And Yours

 Mr. Littlefield for your information you are not the only one running as a Write IN Candidate, if you read:, you will find out, before you, that I am running for 34 New York State Senate in the Bronx as a Write In Candidate, even though I am of the Feline Ethnicity.

Your truly,
Sebastian (El Gato) Martínez
It’s no secret that there is an election on for President, although a vote in New York State is less significant because it is not a swing state. The more significant vote is for U.S. Senate, or the U.S. House of Representatives if you happen to live in a contested district. For most of us, however, there are no real elections for the House of Representatives, New York State Senate or New York State Assembly. The only candidates, or the only active candidates with real campaigns, are perpetual incumbents who have already been chosen by the insiders. And fake elections is just the way those who have been grabbing at the expense of those without power and the common future like it. While New York State does not suppress voting the way some swing states do, it does all it can to ensure that when people show up, there is no one to vote for, by keeping people off the ballot. The media cooperates by providing no attention to those challengers who manage to sneak through. But they tripped up. With the new voting system, write-in votes have become extremely easy. And therefore, I intend to vote for myself, Lawrence D. Littlefield, for the House of Representatives, State Senate, and Assembly. Not because I think I’m that great, sadly, but because of what I think of what these ignoble assemblies have done, with the local pols fully part of it or doing nothing to stop it. Eight years ago I had to lose my job and struggle to get on the ballot to make a similar protest, but not now. If you aren’t in a place with a real election, and agree with what I said then, which you can still read here, feel free to write in my name also. It doesn’t matter where you live, because it’s just a protest. If you don’t agree, but are similarly disappointed with the perpetual incumbents, you can write in your own name, or the name of someone you wish was on the ballot. A message needs to be sent about the sell out of our future, which is now the present, so I don’t see any reason to vote for the incumbents. You’d be better off writing in Donald Duck.
So how much of an impact did I have back in 2004? Not much, it seems, because just about everything that bothered me then has become worse. More debts. More public employee pension increases for those cashing in and moving out, with cuts in wages and benefits for new hires -- who then feel less obligation to the rest of us.
Back then, it was the State of New York that was the worst, but now the federal government is just as bad. Generation Greed seems to care little for those coming after, who continue to become worse and worse off. Yet it is somehow those who have grabbed the most, from Wall Street to the executive suite to today’s seniors, who seem to be making angry demands for more. And who have become better off relative to the rest during and after the Great Recession, thanks in part to their control of perpetually incumbent local politicians. I won’t bore you with a bunch of spreadsheets and endless text to show how and to what extent. If you are reading this, you have already seen all that already.
In this election my general rule will remain in effect. At the federal level, don’t vote for any Republicans on generational equity grounds. The only people voting Republican at the federal level should be those 55 and over who don’t care about their country, or about anyone 54 and younger. Don’t vote for any Democrats at the local level (though there no local elections this year), because they have favored the interests of producers of public services against less well off consumers of public services to the point of social injustice. And don’t vote for ANY incumbents of EITHER party in the New York State legislature, because both parties have sold out the future and ordinary people over and over again. With no limits and no shame. And they’ll do more, I can guarantee you that. They’ll pass on or move out and leave this place in ruins, or feel they missed out on something if they do not.
But thanks to their screw up with the new voting method, I don’t have to just leave a ballot line blank or vote for a name that didn’t even bother to campaign. I can write in instead. And I intend to take advantage of it.
Don’t be a fool. This isn’t an elective dictatorship, and you can’t change things or create hope by just voting for President, Governor or Mayor. The legislative offices matter as much or more. Aside from the evil attack ads for the limited number of contested elections, I’ve head little to nothing even about the control of Congress next year. It matters enormously whether the majority leader of the U.S. Senate is Harry Reid or Mitch McConnell, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives is John Boehner or Nancy Pelosi. And choosing that leader, and thus the committee heads that go with go with them, is the only significant vote the local empty suit will make. Yet that isn’t what you read or hear, to the extent that you read or hear anything. The media has let us down again, but then again most of us don’t have a real choice anyway. Except that now we do, sort of. We can at least, in effect, vote no.


Tribute to Lord Archer of Sandwell at the House of Lords

29 October 2012 - REDRESS is holding a reception at the House of Lords tomorrow to pay tribute to the late Lord Peter Archer of Sandwell QC and the help he graciously gave REDRESS over many years. The event will be hosted by Lord Frank Judd and is by kind permission of the Lord Speaker, Baroness Frances D’Souza. It is also supported by the All Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group.
Lord Archer was an ardent supporter and patron of REDRESS for nearly two decades before he passed away on 14th June 2012. He campaigned tirelessly for human rights throughout his career as a barrister, Labour MP and Peer. Lord Archer will be especially remembered by REDRESS for his initiative and efforts to advance the Torture (Damages) Bill in the House of Lords.
The reception will feature short addresses from Lord Judd, Baroness D’Souza and Sir Emyr Jones Parry, the chairman of REDRESS’ board of trustees, followed by a brief discussion on the main features of the Torture (Damages) Bill.
The Torture (Damages) Bill was first introduced by Lord Archer in the 2006-2007 parliamentary year and in three subsequent parliamentary sessions. It sought to create an exception to the State Immunity Act 1978, in order to allow civil suits to be brought against torturers and the states that support them. The Bill would allow survivors to bring a claim for compensation in the courts of England and Wales against those individuals and governments responsible, where they are unable to do so in the country in which they were tortured.
The Bill was passed in the Lords in 2008 but stalled in the Commons in 2009 and again in 2010. The Bill received support from the Joint Committee on Human Rights in 2009 after the Committee heard evidence from REDRESS and the government, among other parties, and concluded that a civil remedy should be available in the UK to victims of torture.
Lord Archer’s contribution to the human rights cause was far-reaching and REDRESS is proud to be associated with his work.
For further information: Contact Eva Sanchis at or +44 (0) 2077931777.
Note: REDRESS was founded by a British torture survivor in 1992. Since then, it has consistently fought for the rights of torture survivors and their families in the UK and abroad. REDRESS takes legal challenges on behalf of survivors, works to ensure that torturers are punished and that survivors and their families obtain remedies for their suffering. REDRESS has intervened in a range of leading torture cases.

Train and bus service to be suspended starting tonight, schools closed, evacuation of coastal areas ordered in advance of Hurricane Sandy


  • Last Updated: 11:51 AM, October 28, 2012
  • Posted: 9:19 AM, October 28, 2012

The cloud cover from Hurricane Sandy interacting with the long line of clouds associated with the cold front approaching the eastern US, is pictured in this image that was created combining NOAA's GOES-13 and GOES-15 satellite imagery
The MTA will suspend subway, bus and commuter rail service tonight and schools will be closed tomorrow in advance of Hurricane Sandy hitting New York, Gov. Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg announced.
The mayor also ordered coastal areas of New York, known as "Zone A," evacuated.
The at-risk areas include the Rockaways, parts of Staten Island, City Island, the South Bronx, Battery Park City and the Lower East Side.
High winds blow sea foam into the air as a person walks across Jeanette's Pier in Nags Head, NC today.
The last subway train will leave at 7 p.m. and the last bus will depart at 9 p.m., according to Cuomo.
The LIRR and Metro-North trains will also stop running after 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg is still considering whether to evacuate parts of New York City, but if he decides to do so, the MTA will be able to assist in that effort, Cuomo said.
The subway shutdown was necessary since it's unsafe to operate the trains in high winds and Gov. Cuomo said he doesn't want to encourage people to be up and about during the storm.
Bridge and tunnel closures will occur on a case-by-case basis, the governor said. At this time, Cuomo does not plan to close area airports. But, he is activating the National Guard.
He also urged staffing at nursing homes to be at 150% capacity and said staffers should be prepared to stay 48 to 72 hours.
Cuomo said this was not the time to panic, but it was necessary to take action.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Sandy was headed north from the Caribbean, where it left nearly five dozen dead, to meet a winter storm and a cold front, plus high tides from a full moon, and experts said the rare hybrid storm that results will cause havoc over 800 miles from the East Coast to the Great Lakes.
"I've been here since 1997, and I never even put my barbecue grill away during a storm," Russ Linke said shortly before he and his wife left Ship Bottom on Saturday. "But I am taking this one seriously. They say it might hit here. That's about as serious as it can get."
He and his wife secured the patio furniture, packed the bicycles into the pickup truck, and headed off the island.
The danger was hardly limited to coastal areas. Forecasters were far more worried about inland flooding from storm surge than they were about winds. Rains could saturate the ground, causing trees to topple into power lines, utility officials said, warning residents to prepare for several days at home without power.
Published on Oct 28, 2012 by
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered New York City's transit service to suspend bus, subway, and commuter rail service in advance of the storm expected to hit the eastern third of the U.S. Cuomo says the system will be suspended at 7 p.m. Sunday. (Oct. 28)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mitt Romney adviser says race is the reason Colin Powell is endorsing President Obama  

Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu says general backing Obama because both men are African-American

Steve Helber/AP

President Obama waves to supporters at campaign rally in Richmond, Va. on Thursday.

The issue of race moved to the forefront of the presidential campaign Friday after a top Mitt Romney adviser suggested that Colin Powell endorsed President Obama because both men are African-American.
The controversy threw a spotlight on a stark racial divide that has opened up in the election — new poll numbers show that Obama has fewer white supporters than any presidential candidate in 24 years.
The dispute erupted as Romney attempted to refocus the election on the economy, declaring in a speech in Iowa that Obama inherited a bad situation when he took office and then “made the problem worse.”
And the President faced new fallout from the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya. The father of one of the American victims lashed out at the White House, saying he considers government officials the “murderers of my son.”


Colin Powell is accused of endorsing President Obama only because both men are African-American.

The racial controversy erupted when former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, a co-chairman of Romney’s campaign, downplayed Powell’s recent endorsement of Obama by suggesting that race was a factor.
“Frankly, when you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder if that’s an endorsement based on issues, or whether he’s got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama,” Sununu said on CNN.
When asked what he meant, Sununu added, “Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being President of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him.”


Former Gov. John Sununu's comments underscored the role that race could play in the campaign’s final days. Obama has experienced a sharp erosion of support among whites, creating a highly polarized electorate as America prepares to vote.

Questioned about the comment, Obama told a Philadelphia radio station Friday that not many people in America “would question Gen. Powell’s . . . willingness to tell it straight.”
“So any suggestion that General Powell would make such a profound statement in such an important election based on anything but what he thought was what’s going to be best for America doesn’t make much sense,” Obama said.
Sununu backtracked, saying he has no doubt the endorsement by Powell — chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under former President George W. Bush — “was based on anything but his support of the President’s policies.”

Randy Holmes/ABC

Michelle Obama delivers wakeup call to Jimmy Kimmel for late-night skit.

Sununu’s remark underscored the role that race could play in the campaign’s final days. Obama has experienced a sharp erosion of support among whites, creating a highly polarized electorate as America prepares to vote.
Obama now trails Romney 60%-37% among white voters, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll.
The 23-point gap is the largest racial divide since the 1988 election — and almost double Obama’s 12-point deficit to John McCain among whites in 2008.
Adding to the polarization: Obama won election in 2008 by receiving 95% of the black vote — and polls show he will do at least as well among nonwhites this year.
It is difficult to determine what role, if any, prejudice might be playing in the racial divide. But other factors might be at work as well.
White, working-class voters have traditionally voted Republican since the 1960s — and they have really struggled these last four years, argued Prof. Doug Muzzio of Baruch College.
“The impact of the economic slump was really felt by these [white voters],” said Muzzio. “They are unhappy.”
As a series of new polls showed Obama and Romney locked in a dead heat, Romney marched into the swing state of Iowa Friday to stake a claim that he would be better able than Obama to power up the economy.
Romney downplayed new numbers Friday that showed the economy grew at a better-than-expected — but still tepid — annual rate of 2% between July and September. Romney said the economy should be doing much better.
“The presidency of the last four years has fallen far short of the promises of the last campaign,” Romney told a chilly crowd in Ames.
Obama remained in Washington, taping a series of interviews with television stations in the battleground states.


GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney boards campaign plane in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday after stumping for votes in Midwest.

But he came under fire from Charlie Woods, whose son Tyler, a former Navy SEAL, died defending the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last month from an attack by Islamic militants. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and two other Americans also were killed.
“I wish that leadership in the White House had that same level of moral courage and heroism that my son displayed,” Woods told Fox News.
He claimed the government should have done more to safeguard the embassy and respond to the attack — and said those who did not help were the “murderers of my son.”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said there was not enough clear information coming from Benghazi the night of the attack to justify dispatching U.S. forces there.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Sandy threatened to disrupt the campaign in its final days. The so-called “Frankenstorm” is expected to pound the East Coast early next week, forcing the cancellation of two Virginia Beach rallies — one by Romney, the other by Vice President Biden — scheduled for the weekend.

Lena Dunham raises eyebrows for suggestive Obama ad about her first time ... voting 

'My first time voting was amazing,' the star and creator of HBO's 'Girls' confides to the camera. 'It was this line in the sand — before I was a girl, now I was a woman.'

"The first time shouldn't be with just anybody. You want to do it with a great guy," Lena Dunham says about her first time in the ballot booth. via YouTube

"The first time shouldn't be with just anybody. You want to do it with a great guy," Lena Dunham says about her first time in the ballot booth.

"Girls" creator and star Lena Dunham has made a suggestive ad for President Obama's campaign about her first time … voting.
"The first time shouldn't be with just anybody. You want to do it with a great guy," the actress and writer confides to the camera. "Someone who really cares about and understands women."
Dressed in a white T-shirt that reveals the tattoo on her right bicep, Dunham suggestively portrays Obama as the man who took her voting virginity in the ad aimed at young women.
She says the “first time” should be with "a guy who cares whether you get health insurance and specifically whether you get birth control," she says, "The consequences are huge."
Only then does she reveal that she’s speaking politically, not sexually.
"You want to do it with a guy who brought the troops out of Iraq," she says.
"You don't want a guy who says, 'Oh hey, I'm at the library studying,' when really he's out not signing the Lilly Ledbetter act," she adds, referring to an equal pay bill signed into law by Obama. Romney has said he would not repeal the law, but he has also declined to say he would have signed it himself.
"Or thinks that gay people should never have beautiful, complicated weddings like the kind we see on Bravo or TLC all the time,” she continues.
"Think about how you want to spend those four years,” Dunham tells viewers. “In college age time, that's 150 years."
DUNHAM27N_2_WEB via YouTube

Dunham tells young women that their “first time” should be with "a guy who cares whether you get health insurance and specifically whether you get birth control."

"My first time voting was amazing. It was this line in the sand — before I was a girl, now I was a woman," she says.
Her tone turns mock-suggestive again as she describes going to the polling station, where she "pulled back the curtain" to vote for the first time.
"I voted for Barack Obama," she concludes with a shy smile and shrug.
“Your first time? Get started here,” reads the YouTube caption, with a link to the Obama campaign website.
The ad immediately stirred up controversy, with conservatives slamming it as tasteless.
“(One) of the many sick things about this degrading Lena Dunham ‘lose your virginity to Barack’ ad? The Left thinks it’s ‘empowering’ to women,” wrote conservative commentator Monica Crowley.
“How could a president with two young, blossoming daughters release an ad as disgusting as this,” asked John Nolte of the conservative Breitbart News site.


Lena Dunham has earned a reputation for pushing the envelope in her HBO show “Girls” and in other appearances — like this revealing skit for the Emmys broadcast.

“Apparently Obama sees young women as helpless & sex-obsessed,” he added.
Others, however, embraced the edgy tone.
“My favorite chick strikes gold again! Brilliant,” wrote “The Vampire Diaries” actress Nina Dobrev on Twitter.
Dunham has earned a reputation for pushing the envelope. HBO's "Girls" has stirred up controversy for its gritty, unglamorous depictions of young women's bodies and sex lives.
At the Emmys last month, she was filmed eating a cake while sitting naked on a toilet for Jimmy Kimmel's opening comedy skit.
The campaign ad, which had more than 90,000 views on YouTube by Friday morning had received about 3,200 “likes,” but more than 4,700 “dislikes.”

Read more:

Eyeing ’13 Mayoral Bid, de Blasio Focuses on Small-Business Issues

Stopped-and-Frisked: 'For Being a F**king Mutt' [VIDEO] - The Nation Oct 8, 2012 ... An audio recording of a New York City police stop-and-frisk in action sheds ... with arrest, the other officer responds, “For being a fucking mutt.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October 23, 2012

Candidate Defeated in Primary for Assembly Seeks New Vote

Maximino Rivera asked an appeals court panel to grant his request for a new vote, saying a primary vote was affected by improper election practice.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Times Must Aggressively Cover Mark Thompson’s Role in BBC’s Troubles

One of the most difficult challenges for news organizations is reporting on what goes on inside their own corporate walls. Two global media companies, the BBC and The New York Times, are dealing with that challenge right now, as a complicated sexual abuse scandal – with a media scandal component — unfolds in Britain.
On Tuesday, the director general of the BBC, George Entwistle, was grilled by Parliament about his role in the events at the well-respected British media company.
A tough investigative committee is raking him over the coals about whether he knew what was going on when the BBC killed an investigative segment on its “Newsnight” program about a celebrity TV personality, Jimmy Savile, accused of sexually abusing hundreds of young girls. Mr. Savile died last year.
Killing the story has impugned the BBC’s integrity.
Mr. Entwistle, though, was not the director general of the BBC when all of this was going on last year.
That was Mark Thompson, who is now the incoming president and chief executive officer of The New York Times Company. Mr. Thompson was said to be in the Times building on Monday for preliminary meetings, but he hasn’t started yet. In fact, Times reporters and editors were reminded on Monday in a style note not to refer to him in articles as the current president and chief executive:
Mr. Thompson will be the president and C.E.O. of The New York Times Company starting Nov. 12, per Robert Christie, senior vice president of corporate communications. Until then, he is still “incoming.”
The style note even resulted in a correction on the Web site of The Times.
To its credit, The Times is reporting this story regularly through its London bureau, and has displayed it several times on the Web site’s home page. The London article was summarized in a brief on the front page on Tuesday.
Mr. Thompson has been quoted repeatedly saying he knew nothing about the investigation being conducted by the “Newsnight” program, or at least that he was never formally notified about it. Here’s The Guardian’s report on that.
How likely is it that he knew nothing? A director general of a giant media company is something like a newspaper’s publisher. Would a publisher be very likely to know if an investigation of one of its own people on sexual abuse charges had been killed? The answer to that is not as easy as it sounds. Because of the intentional separation between editorial and business-side operations, publishers usually don’t know about editorial decisions — unless they are very big ones, fraught with legal implications. A Reuters story explores this subject.
And for that matter, how likely is it that the Times Company will continue with its plan to bring Mr. Thompson on as chief executive? (It’s worth noting that as public editor, I have no inside knowledge on such corporate matters.) His integrity and decision-making are bound to affect The Times and its journalism — profoundly. It’s worth considering now whether he is the right person for the job, given this turn of events.
All these questions ought to be asked. I hope The Times rises to the challenge and thoroughly reports what it finds. The Times might start by publishing an in-depth interview with Mr. Thompson exploring what exactly he knew, and when, about what happened at the BBC. What are the implications of these problems for him as incoming Times chief executive? What are the implications for the Times Company to have its new C.E.O. – who needs to deal with many tough business challenges here – arriving with so much unwanted baggage?
As the BBC has found out in the most painful way, for The Times to pull its punches will not be a wise way to go.

Record rent hike will move forward at Tracey Towers in Bronx despite lawsuit backed by Assembly candidate 

Disappointed tenants face drastic increase next week

Tracey Towers tenants rallied in the Bronx before suing their landlord and the city over a 65% rent hike.

Daniel Beekman/New York Daily News

Tracey Towers tenants rallied in the Bronx before suing their landlord and the city over a 65% rent hike.

Tenants at the largest rental complex in the Bronx will suffer a drastic rent increase next week, despite a legal challenge championed by state Assembly candidate Mark Gjonaj.
State Supreme Court Justice Howard Sherman has ruled that the Tracey Towers rent hike can take effect, disappointing anxious tenants at the 869-unit Mosholu Parkway housing complex.
"We're getting the short end of the stick," Jean Hill, president of the Tracey Towers Tenant Organization, complained Monday.
Gjonaj, who unseated 80th District state Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera in an acrimonious Democratic primary last month, connected the tenant organization with a pro bono lawyer and organized courthouse rallies during the run-up to the election.
The tenant organization sued the city over its approval of the rent hike and in August won a temporary restraining order that delayed the increase for several weeks. Meanwhile, Gjonaj benefitted; a Tracey Towers landslide helped him upset Rivera.
But Sherman ruled against the tenant organization Oct. 11 when he refused to block the hike indefinitely. Rather than continue its lawsuit without an injunction, the tenant organization voted to negotiate a settlement with property owner Tracey Towers Associates.
The deal will reduce the rent hike slightly, from a cumulative increase of 65% over four years to 61.5%, Hill said. In addition, planned renovations at the dilapidated complex will be subject to tenant organization oversight and the organization will receive funds from the property owner.
Hill called the lawsuit "worthwhile" but lamented the outcome.
Many tenants will struggle to cover the first of four annual increases when it takes effect Nov. 1, she said. Seniors living on fixed incomes are particularly at risk.
"The tenants aren't happy about it," Hill admitted.
Gjonaj called the hike "unfair" but said he believes the settlement will "empower" Bronx tenants.
Housing officials insist the hike is needed for repairs at the dilapidated complex, built in 1974 through the Mitchell-Lama affordable housing program. Without it, Tracey Towers Associates will default on a $40 million loan from the New York City Housing Development Corporation.
Tracey Towers Associates blames the poor condition of the complex on low rents. But tenants attribute it to mismanagement.
They claim the property owner has neglected the complex despite receiving city loans before.
"We hope to resolve the matter soon in a way that…brings long-term stability to the property," said Karen Selvin, city lawyer.
The settlement is not yet final, the city Law Department said.
RY Management, the company that runs the complex, will work with the city to offer rent vouchers and other solutions to needy tenants, a spokesman said.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Utopian Bronx Tale

New PBS Documentary Looks at Legendary Cooperatives

Community Living: Amalgamated Houses, above, was among the four cooperatively owned housing developments that Jewish immigrants built during the 1920s. These developments are the subject of a new film by Michal Goldman.
Forward Association
Community Living: Amalgamated Houses, above, was among the four cooperatively owned housing developments that Jewish immigrants built during the 1920s. These developments are the subject of a new film by Michal Goldman.

By Sarah Kessler

Published April 26, 2009.

In the mid-1920s, a group of immigrant Jewish factory workers decided that they’d come this far for something better than the slums they inhabited. So pooling resources, they orchestrated the construction of four cooperatively owned and run apartment complexes in the Bronx, with practical goals for a better quality of life, and idealistic visions of a transformative way of living.
Thousands lived in the Amalgamated Houses, (built by the Amalgamated Clothing Workers union), the Sholem Aleichem Houses (built by Yiddishists), the Farband Houses (built by Labor Zionists) and The United Workers Cooperative Colony (built by Jewish Communists) had their own styles of management and ensuing rivalries, though they shared the same aspirations. But it was the tenants of Communists Colony — “The Coops,” as they came to be known — who followed these aspirations to the fullest extent, and who are the subject of an eight-years-in-the making documentary, “At Home in Utopia,” written and edited by Michal Goldman.
Goldman, the founder of the Boston Jewish Film Festival and president of the Filmmakers Collaborative, spoke recently with Forward contributor Sarah Kessler about one group’s grasp at a Communist American Dream.
Sarah Kessler: What drew you to this story?
Michal Goldman: I’m very interested in radicalism, and what happens when people try to live their ideas, their ideals. And I’m interested in the notion that thousands of rather poor immigrants — Jews, many of whom didn’t speak much English — could manage to pull off four big apartment complexes. It’s astonishing.
Seeing how the communal life would unfold, I immediately thought this was very rich for me. For a filmmaker, it’s a very interesting challenge to make a film about a community, as opposed to individuals — the whole shtetl, not just the mayor. I knew I wanted the buildings to be almost a character in the piece.
What was life like in the Coops? And would you have wanted to be a part of it?
Yes, I imagine that I could have grown up there. And when I go, and I walk around, I try to imagine myself there, and it’s not that hard. … There was a cafeteria where you could eat, owned by the cooperative — and if you didn’t have the money just then [you] could sign a little chip and pay what you could at the end of the month. At the beginning — not during the Depression — there were cooperative stores in the basement of the buildings: a meat market, a tailor, a gymnasium, a photography club. It was an extremely alive place.
How big a role did Communism play?
Many of the adults were apolitical, but try to imagine any big apartment complex … where a quarter of the people are card-carrying members of the Communist Party. Its real name was The United Workers Cooperative Colony, but everybody called it the Coops, some called it the Commie Coops. The local police used to call it Little Moscow. There was clashing with the law, especially as the Depression hit. Around 1932, landlords would try to evict people from their apartments; people from the coops would come try to stop that.
Did they achieve their political goals?
They got unemployment insurance, which didn’t exist before. They got 24 states to put emergency legislation in place that prevented mortgage foreclosures.
These people were extremely well networked; they knew how to act collectively, they were very confrontational – they poured out to the streets at drop of a hat. They were extremely well organized and could respond collectively to a crisis, rather than just feeling terrified and isolated. I think that some of the most radical people in the coops, anyway, saw in the Depression an opportunity to change capitalism, to try to do something really big.
So were tenants coerced into joining the Party?
No no, not at all. Within the party itself there was a tremendous amount of infighting. Many schisms. But it was not coercion — not coercion but a culture, dominated by the spirit of these people.
The Coops had a library with 20,000 books in it: Yiddish, Russian, English — all the literature was progressive. They had an auditorium with all kinds of concerts — Pete Seeger remembers coming and playing — or some people remember hearing him there. … There was a Yiddish after school where lots of kids went and studied and learned Yiddish. They had a playground across the street and an elementary school three blocks away — the parents went to City Hall, demonstrated, our kids have to travel too far — and they got it built.
And on May Day, almost everybody poured out of the Coops, kids did not go to school. They took the subway downtown and they marched in the May Day Parade. Teachers at the school would say, what’s wrong with you, you don’t stay out of school on the Jewish holidays. And the kids would say, this is our holiday.
Were all of the Coops Jewish?
I was drawn to the Coops because they were so driven in terms of their idealistic commitment to a certain agenda. And so very early, starting in the 1930s, they racially integrated. None of the other coops did that: They only integrated racially when they had to.
Even though they didn’t take in very many, there were intermarried couples. [I]t was the only place in the Bronx where that was true, where blacks could live with whites and be comfortable. For me that was just so moving, and I wanted to explore it. It seemed like a missing chapter, in a way, of American civil rights history. They were very involved in the issue of black, racial civil justice.
Although there was pushback from outside the party. Everyone was fine at a token level, but when these young Communists returning from World War II and tried to push for more, something real, there was quite a lot of pushback from older people. We don’t have anything against black people, but we built this place as a haven for Yiddishkeit.
What role did religion play?
They were very secular. Religion was frowned on. Children weren’t bar and bat mitzvah. The way you could tell that earlier era was over, later in the 60s, was when you began to see children having bar mitzvahs. The Jewish identity for them was language-based, about Yiddish, about social values. About social justice. And being somebody with a strong working class consciousness. And having a sense of your own history. So there was still resistance to intermarrying.

Did the next generation understand and continue the dreams of their parents?

After [The Coops] went into private ownership, people still stayed there. They were very well organized as tenants, did all the things they’d done before.
The children were formed by it, emotionally and intellectually, and then they went into the world. … Some wanted to live in the Coops, but because it was no longer a cooperative and no longer managed by the residents, they couldn’t control so easily who lived there.
I had a number of people say ‘if we could have we would have’. But the Amalgamated on the other hand, which was so brilliantly managed, after World War II, they built a veterans building exactly for young people returning from the war, sons and daughters of the Amalgamated, so there are people in the Amalgamated who’ve been there for four generations.
What is it now?
It became a place with a lot of drugs, a lot of crime — in the mid 70s, deep into the 80s. And then it kind of turned around. It’s a place that is quite run down in terms of what it looks like; its been land marked, historic landmark. It’s still privately owned, with lots of Section 8 housing. The residents are Cambodians, Vietnamese, Latin Americans, Caribbean, African Americans, anyone who is an immigrant to America.
The central areas that used to be beautifully landscaped by the Coop gardener — now the tenants grow things. It’s the middle of the city but they have a lot of space, its lovely.
How do you think the story of the Coops resonates today?
The main thing is, in America, could working people collectively do this for themselves? Could union pension funds, for example, be used again to build affordable housing for working people, [housing] that felt like a community? That’s what I’m hoping will be one of the questions this film raises.
There’s also the fact that the people in my film — they did what they did in the 1920s which was an economic boom, like the one we’ve just experienced ourselves — they built it in ’26, moved in ’27, and the Depression hit almost immediately. It’s then very interesting to see how they responded to it. So I think that there’s a kind of parallel that has emerged in the past year, which I didn’t expect when I started working on the film.
“At Home in Utopia” premieres on PBS on April 28th. For more information click here.

Amalgamated Housing Cooperatives
Amalgamated_place matters

In 1927, 303 workers each put up on average one year's wages to build one of the earliest NYC housing cooperatives. The Amalgamated Housing Cooperative in the Bronx has survived many challenges for 85 years to still serve as a model of low and moderate income housing. But on Oct 18 the people that own and live in the cooperative heard from the President of the Amalgamated Board and the new Manager that $20,000,000 is needed immediately to save the project. The current plan is to refinance the mortgages ($30,000,000), raise the rent (9%) and undertake extensive repairs as already decided by the Board. The process was different from the Amalgamated tradition of community discussion before such large decisions are made.

At the Oct 18 meetings too many details were thrown at the cooperators to be able to understand what was being decided. Some comments by a cooperator after hearing for the first time the terms of the refinancing were captured on this video:

Video by Rafael Martínez Alequín

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fidel Castro is not dead yet

Long visit with ex-Venezuelan veep ends confusion over former dictator's condition

 Venezuela's former vice president Elias Jaua shows a picture of himself and former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, (3rd from L), in Havana October 21, 2012. Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro is alive and well, according to Elias Jaua, who says he met with Castro over the weekend. Squelching rumours that Castro was at death's door, Jaua, a key aide to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, on Sunday showed reporters pictures of the Saturday meeting and said Castro, 86, was in good health and lucid. Man in centre of the picture is Hotel Nacional Director Antonio Martinez and woman second from right is Castro's wife Dalia Soto. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan (CUBA - Tags: SOCIETY POLITICS)


Still alive; Fidel Castro (third from left) looks frail, but very much alive during a visit with Venezuela's former vice president Elias Jaua (center).

Fidel Castro made his first public appearance in months Saturday, knocking down rumors that he was near death.
The aging Cuban revolutionary met with former Venezuelan vice president Elias Jaua, who produced photos of the five-hour encounter.
The 86-year-old former president then brought Jaua back to Havana’s Hotel Nacional, where he was staying, and stayed to chat with hotel staff.
“Fidel Castro was here yesterday, he brought a guest and spoke to workers and hotel leaders for 30 minutes,” said hotel commercial director Yamila Fuster. “They told me he looked very good. He was wearing a checked shirt and a hat.”
Online rumors have been flying that Castro was on the brink of death. A Venezuelan doctor claimed last week he had suffered a stroke, and rumors were stoked after he didn’t publicly congratulate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on his victory in the Oct. 7 election.
He last appeared publicly in March, when he met Pope Benedict XVI.
Castro handed over power to his brother Raul in 2006, but has outlasted generations of American leaders who have sought to oust him. Monday marks the 50th anniversary of the speech to the nation by President John F. Kennedy revealing the Cuban Missile Crisis.
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