Tag: New York City

Trans woman raped by corrections officer at Rikers, files federal lawsuit

A transgender woman, identified only as M.T., who is a former inmate at Rikers Island has filed suit in Manhattan Federal Court claiming she was sexually assaulted repeatedly by a corrections officer at the Robert N. Davoren Complex after having been harassed for months by the officer.

M. T. claims she was raped by Officer L. Galan on Dec. 2, 2012.  

Galan stated that Plaintiff ‘could do this the easy way or the hard way,’ Plaintiff did not feel that (she) could walk away or call out for help.

–the lawsuit

NYT’s Reporter Wonders Why the President’s Approval Ratings Are So Bad

What world do the economics writer live in? It can’t be anywhere on the planet Earth, never mind the United States, especially when they write things like this:

Obama’s Puzzle: Economy Rarely Better, Approval Rarely Worse

President Obama will pronounce on the state of the union for the fifth time on Tuesday, and never during his time in office has the state of the economy been better – yet rarely has he gotten such low marks from the public for his handling of it.

Not only have economic indicators shown progress toward pre-recession health, but many forecasters are predicting what one called “a breakout year” for growth. A new study from a Federal Reserve economist even put a more benign spin on a negative trend, the shrinking labor force, by attributing the decline not to discouraged unemployed workers who have quit looking for jobs, but to the first baby-boomer retirements.

Demand for labor is up and the unemployment rate is below 7 percent for the first time since November 2008. Consumers, buoyed by rising home prices and stock values, are spending more; so are businesses. Exports are growing as Europe regains health. The fiscal drag from state and federal spending cuts has abated.

I suppose that the writer, Jackie Calmes, who covers the White house, is a very smart person but obviously not tuned into what is a happening outside the bubble of the political pages of the New York Times. Quoting one anonymous Federal Reserve economist without evidence to refute the actual numbers from the Bureau of Labor statistics is ether more spin or bad journalism, probably both. We all know that the markets and the GDP are not true indicators of how well the majority of Americans are faring economically.

However, the explanation for the negativity about the economy and not just the president’s approval ratings but those of the Congress, is simple: since the “recovery” started in June 2009, 95 percent of the income gains have gone to the richest 1 percent (pdf) of the U.S. population. For a vast number of Americans the recession never ended.

Just look at what is happening in New York City, since the drastic cuts to SNAP and unemployment benefits ended, food banks and soup kitchens have seen an increase in the number of people seeking assistance and are now running out of food

New York, NY – January 22, 2014 – New research from Food Bank For New York City reveals a majority of New York City’s food pantries and soup kitchens (85 percent) experienced an increase in the number of visitors following a $5 billion national cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps) that took effect on November 1st, 2013. In fact, the numbers of visitors post-November 1 actually exceeded the number of visitors seen in November 2012, in the immediate aftermath of Super Storm Sandy. [..]

* 85% reported an overall increase in visitors in November 2013, as compared to November 2012, immediately following Super Storm Sandy.

* 76% of food pantries and soup kitchens saw an increase in visitors in November 2013 compared to the previous two months, with nearly half (45%) reporting considerable increases in visitor traffic of more than 25%;

* http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=viagra-generico-50-mg-spedizione-veloce-a-Verona Nearly half (48%) of emergency food providers ran out of food required for meals or pantry bags, with 26% reporting having to turn people away due to insufficient food supplies;

* Nearly one quarter (23%) of food pantries and soup kitchens reported having to reduce the total number of meals they otherwise provided

  That should be setting off alarm bells in Congress and at the White House. It isn’t. Congress is now set to pass a farm bill that further cuts food assistance by another $8.8 billion dollars over 10 years but continues generous subsidies for farmers.

The president will address this inequality and need for jobs with a living wage in the State of the Union address tonight. The White House has announced that he will raise the minimum wage for federal contractors to $10.10 an hour by executive order. The president has also said that he has “a pen and a phone” and is going to use them. The question is, with so many Americans suffering and the middle class shrinking, what took five years? And why should anyone believe him now?

Perhaps if he started with vetoing this farm bill and taking a stand against the Republicans and the corporate Democrats who enable them, then, maybe, he’d see an improvement in his approval ratings. Another flowery speech won’t do it.

And, Ms Calmes, read something other than your own paper, you might find out what’s going on in the world outside the offices of the NYT. Better yet, check out a food kitchen or pantry.

A Tale of Two Frauds

Why are these two tales of fraud not the same in the eyes of the law?

Charges for 106 in Huge Fraud Over Disability

By William K. Rashbaum and James C. McKinley Jr.JAN. 7, 2014

The retired New York City police officers and firefighters showed up for their psychiatric exams disheveled and disoriented, most following a nearly identical script.

They had been coached on how to fail memory tests, feign panic attacks and, if they had worked during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, to talk about their fear of airplanes and entering skyscrapers, prosecutors said. And they were told to make it clear they could not leave the house, much less find a job. [..]

Former police officers who had told government doctors they were too mentally scarred to leave home had posted photographs of themselves fishing, riding motorcycles, driving water scooters, flying helicopters and playing basketball.

“The brazenness is shocking,” Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, said on Tuesday.

While those fraudsters were being indicted, arrested and arraigned, these fraudster were planning their next rip off of their investors.

JPMorgan Is Penalized $2 Billion Over Madoff

By Ben Protess and Jessica Silver-Greenberg

Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, and Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, gathered in Lower Manhattan as Mr. Bharara’s prosecutors were considering criminal charges against Mr. Dimon’s bank for turning a blind eye to the Ponzi scheme run by Bernard L. Madoff. Mr. Dimon and his lawyers outlined the bank’s defense in the hopes of securing a lesser civil case, according to people briefed on the meeting. [..]

Within weeks of meeting Mr. Bharara and recognizing their limited bargaining power, JPMorgan’s lawyers accepted the $1.7 billion penalty, the people briefed on the meeting said, which was within the range that prosecutors initially proposed. The bank also agreed to pay $350 million to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, accepting the agency’s only offer, one of the people said.

It could have been worse for the bank. At one point, prosecutors were weighing whether to demand that the bank plead guilty to a criminal charge, a move that senior executives feared could have devastating ripple effects. Rather than extracting a guilty plea, http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=accutane-without-prescription prosecutors struck a so-called deferred-prosecution agreement, suspending an indictment for two years as long as JPMorgan overhauls its controls against money-laundering. [..]

For JPMorgan, the Madoff case is the bank’s latest steep payout to the government. In November, JPMorgan paid a record $13 billion to the Justice Department and other authorities over its sale of questionable mortgage securities in the lead-up to the financial crisis. All told, after paying these settlements, JPMorgan will have paid out some $20 billion to resolve government investigations over the last 12 months. [..]

And critics of Wall Street are unsatisfied, noting that Mr. Bharara’s office opted to defer prosecution and did not charge any JPMorgan employees with wrongdoing.

“Banks do not commit crimes; bankers do,” said Dennis M. Kelleher, the head of Better Markets, an advocacy group.

A United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York, Jed Rakoff, wants to know why have no high-level executives been prosecuted for the financial crisis

Five years have passed since the onset of what is sometimes called the Great Recession. While the economy has slowly improved, there are still millions of Americans leading lives of quiet desperation: without jobs, without resources, without hope.

Who was to blame? Was it simply a result of negligence, of the kind of inordinate risk-taking commonly called a “bubble,” of an imprudent but innocent failure to maintain adequate reserves for a rainy day? Or was it the result, at least in part, of fraudulent practices, of dubious mortgages portrayed as sound risks and packaged into ever more esoteric financial instruments, the fundamental weaknesses of which were intentionally obscured?

If it was the former – if the recession was due, at worst, to a lack of caution – then the criminal law has no role to play in the aftermath. [..]

But vardenafil generico Sicilia if, by contrast, the Great Recession was in material part the product of intentional fraud, the failure to prosecute those responsible must be judged one of the more egregious failures of the criminal justice system in many years. [..]

In striking contrast with these past prosecutions, not a single high-level executive has been successfully prosecuted in connection with the recent financial crisis, and given the fact that most of the relevant criminal provisions are governed by a five-year statute of limitations, it appears likely that none will be. It may not be too soon, therefore, to ask why. [..]

But the stated opinion of those government entities asked to examine the financial crisis overall is not that no fraud was committed. Quite the contrary. For example, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, in its final report, uses variants of the word “fraud” no fewer than 157 times in describing what led to the crisis, concluding that lasix 75 mg of metolazone day there was a “systemic breakdown,” not just in accountability, but also in ethical behavior. [..]

Without giving further examples, the point is that, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, the prevailing view of many government officials (as well as others) was that the crisis was in material respects the product of intentional fraud. In a nutshell, the fraud, they argued, was a simple one. Subprime mortgages, i.e., mortgages of dubious creditworthiness, increasingly provided the chief collateral for highly leveraged securities that were marketed as AAA, i.e., securities of very low risk. How could this transformation of a sow’s ear into a silk purse be accomplished unless someone dissembled along the way? [..]

Thus, Attorney General Eric Holder himself told Congress:

   It does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute-if you do bring a criminal charge-it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.

To a federal judge, who takes an oath to apply the law equally to rich and to poor, cheap generic cialis this excuse-sometimes labeled the “too big to jail” excuse-is disturbing, frankly, in what it says about the department’s apparent disregard for equality under the law.

The Inauguration of NYC’s New Mayor Bill De Blasio

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

As of 12:01 on January 1, New York City saw a “regime change” and Wall Street’s mayor Michael Bloomberg departed stage right. As http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=farmacia-online-viagra-generico-25-mg-a-Venezia DSWright at FDL News Desk pointed out the former mayor was looking peeved during yesterday’s public swearing in of the the new mayor, Bill De Blasio, whose election was a slap in the face to Bloomberg and his policies. It was hard for “Mayor Mike” to put on a happy face while he was being chastised by activist Harry Bellafonte.

The inauguration opened with a speech by one of de Blasio’s biggest supporters, long time activist Harry Belafonte who condemned Bloomberg’s New York as “Dickensian.” Belafonte then went on to discuss changing the Stop and Frisk law to push back against a racist justice system. De Blasio made ending Stop and Frisk one of his key campaign pledges .

A speech was also given by President Bill Clinton who noted that de Blasio had served in his administration in the Department of Housing and Urban Development and as a campaign manager for Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign. Clinton was one of the few speakers to celebrate Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor before pivoting to say that inequality was a problem that “bedeviled the country.” He then swore de Blasio in as mayor.



Full transcript of Mayor De Blasio can be read here.

Welcome To The People’s Republic Of The Big Apple

By Charles Pierce, Esquire Politics Blog

Well, New York inaugurated a new mayor and that was the cue for a lot of people to lose their shit almost entirely. It’s a rare day in January when you hear the plaintive wailing of conservatives, “Help us, Bill Clinton. You’re our only hope.” [..]

It hardly needs be said that Bill de Blasio was elected to do certain things and that, as mayor, he intends to do them. Some of them will get done. Some of them won’t. Long ago, I sat with a guy named Frank P. Zeidler, who once was mayor of Milwaukee and was an actual Socialist, the last of his party to be elected mayor of a major American city. He explained that, in his day, and as a practical matter,  being a “Socialist” mayor meant you were in favor of things like filling potholes everywhere in the city, and that you believed in the concept of a municipal fire department. Within my lifetime, what de Blasio proposed in his inaugural address was little more than what most mayors were expected to provide for the citizens of their cities. That this is seen as revolutionary is nothing more than a measure of where the country’s politics have gone adrift.  But if he does represent a renewed vigor in what Howard Dean liked to call the Democratic wing of the Democratic party, then what de Blasio represents has the potential to wrong-foot the Clintons in a very interesting way. He is connected to them — and to Cuomo, another ambitious trimmer — by his resume, but no longer by his politics. That matters less than whether or not de Blasio actually can wrench the city over which he presides in the direction he would like it to go. The Scary Liberal is still a formidable bogeyman to people terrified of their own best interests.

We wish the “scary liberal, socialist” Mayor De Blasio the best of luck, he’s going to need a lot of it to achieve his goals.

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Mother Jones and the Children’s Crusade by JayRaye

acquistare viagra generico consegna rapida a Torino The Great Philadelphia Textile Strike of 1903

The Central Textile Workers Union of Philadelphia held a meeting the evening of May 27, 1903. A vote was taken and a general strike call was issued. That general strike eventually caused 100,000 textile workers to go out on strike in the Philadelphia area. 16,000 of those were children under the age of 16, some as young as 8 or 9 years of age. The textile industry of the day employed children at a higher rate than any other industry. The number given from the 1900 census was 80,000. In cotton textiles, they made up 13.1% of the work force, and that rate reached 30% in the South.

The Central Textile Workers’ Union issued this statement:

Thirty-six trades, representing 90,000 people, ask the employers to reduce working hours from sixty to fifty-five hours a week. They are willing that wages be reduced accordingly. They strike for lower wages in an effort to get shorter hours.

Three trades, representing 10,000 people, ask for the same reduction in working hours, but, in addition, they ask for the same weekly wages or a slight increase, averaging ten per cent.

The request for shorter hours is made primarily for the sake of the children and women. For six years the organized textile workers of Philadelphia have been trying in vain to persuade the politician-controlled Legislature of Pennsylvania to pass a law which would reduce the working hours of children and women and stop them from doing night work.

Average  wages for adults for 60 hours of work were $13. Children working 60 hours(!) got $2.

On Monday June 1st, at least 90,000 textile workers went out on strike in the Philadelphia area. Of the 600 mills in the city, about 550 were idle. Philadelphia now had more workers out on strike than at any other time in her history. Several thousand workers had already been on strike before the textile strike began, including: the carriage and wagon builders, and the carpenters along with others working in the building trades. It appeared that the city would be in for a long hot summer.

By the next day, Tuesday, the strike spread to the hosiery mills, increasing the army of idle workers by  8,000  Most of these were women and children employed in the Kensington district. This class of workers was unorganized, but they decided to join the ranks of the unionist in other branches of the textile trade as they witnessed the magnitude of the fight for a shorter work week. The Manufacturers vowed they would not submit to the union demands even if they had to shut down their factories indefinitely.

Wall Street’s Biggest Fear: Eliot Spitzer

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Why is the financial world freaking out over the possibility of former New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer becoming New York City’s Comptroller? Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Thomas Ferguson laid it out in his article republished at naked capitalism:

Who, when the Justice Department, Congress, and the Securities and Exchange Commission all defaulted in the wake of a tidal wave of financial frauds, creatively used New York State’s Martin Act to go where they wouldn’t and subpoena emails and corporate records of the malefactors of great wealth, winning convictions and big settlements.

Who in 2005, as New York State Attorney General, actually sued AIG instead of thinking up ways to hand it billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money.

Who brought a suit over the Gilded Age compensation package Stock Exchange head Richard Grasso had been awarded by his chums on the board.

And who in 2013 with business as usual once again the order of the day, is promising to review how the Comptroller’s Office, which controls New York City’s vast pension funds, does business with Wall Street and corporate America. With his incisive questions about Wall Street’s fee structures and criticism of the passive stances most pension funds take to skyrocketing executive compensation in the companies they invest in, Eliot Spitzer is the last person on earth Wall Street wants to see in that slot.

The chorus of outrage from Wall Street pundits and media over Spitzer’s return after embarrassing exit from the governor’s office after his out of state tryst with prostitutes (omg, he had the nerve to use his own money) and, according to a New York Times article, his out of control ego and combative, go-it-alone style.

Prof. Ferguson dismisses the hyperbole as a “smoke screen” for the real objections that Spitzer would stop Wall Street from using the city’s pension funds to make profits for the 1% while cheating the workers out of a lifetime of investment. Spitzer as an activist for the 99% scares the crap out of them.

The compelling case for activism in the Comptroller’s Office by somebody of Spitzer’s intelligence, knowledge, and experience rests mostly on quite different grounds. As Spitzer has observed, most pension funds put up little or no resistance to management’s soaring claims for compensation. These come massively at the expense of investors as a group; pushing back would benefit investors in general and, obviously, beneficiaries of City pension funds. At a time when the air is filled with sometimes dubious claims of pension fund inadequacies, increasing returns to the City pension funds would be a real triumph. You can be sure, however, that the threat to ever-escalating executive salaries fuels a lot of the animus to Spitzer within much of big business and finance.

No less important, though, is another reality to which Spitzer has alluded to from time to time. Wall Street overcharges for financial advice and pension funds often find it expedient to tolerate this, rather than shop vigorously around. Studies of pension funds returns routinely note the frequency with which high fees accompany relatively shoddy performance, often over many years. It is high time attention was focused on this situation; Spitzer would likely do that.

And the Office of the Comptroller has subpoena power, that’s a lot of power:

First, part of the comptroller’s job is ensuring that private sector employees working on city projects are paid the prevailing wage. If an employer, for example a construction company, is reported to be paying workers below-market rates, the comptroller can open an investigation and subpoena payroll records if the employer won’t cooperate.

In addition, the comptroller has the authority to review all legal settlements entered into by the city’s corporation counsel. Last fiscal year, the city paid $486 million to settle lawsuits filed against its agencies or employees, the comptroller’s office said in a report last month. The settlements were for cases such as malpractice at city hospitals or police misconduct.

That’s just for starters.

NYC Council Reins in Bloomberg & NYPD

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Late last night the New York City Council passed two bills that will reign in an out of control NYPD and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Passed with veto-proof majorities, the pair of bills aim at increasing oversight of the Police Department and expanding New Yorkers’ ability to sue over racial profiling by officers.

One, known as Intro 1079, would create an independent inspector general to monitor and review police policy, conduct investigations and recommend changes to the department. The monitor would be part of the city’s Investigation Department alongside the inspectors general for other city agencies.

The law would go into effect Jan. 1, 2014, leaving the matter of choosing the monitor to the next mayor.

The other bill, Intro 1080, would expand the definition of bias-based profiling to include age, gender, housing status and sexual orientation. It also would allow individuals to sue the Police Department in state court – not only for individual instances of bias, but also for policies that disproportionately affect people in any protected categories without serving a significant law enforcement goal.

Mayor Bloomberg is expected to veto both bills. The council has 30 days from its next full meeting to hold an override vote.

Queens councilman Pete Vallone (D), who voted against the bill, gave a preview of the over the top rhetoric that will be used to convince New Yorkers to tell their council members to not override the mayor’s veto:

“New Yorkers went to bed a long time ago, safe in their beds,” Vallone said after the vote. “But they are going to wake up in a much more dangerous city.”

The Mayor and Police Commissioner Raymaond Kelley have already played the Al Qaeda and “be afraid” cards

“Every tort lawyer is gonna buy a new house and a new car right away,” Bloomberg said. “They’re not even gonna have to wait for the cases to come in.” Kelly added, “City council might as well have named the legislation, the ‘Full Employment for Plaintiffs Attorneys Act’…Take heart Al Qaeda wannabes.” [..]

“This is not a game, this is a life-threatening thing…This is life and death, this isn’t playing some game…It’s very nice to have a lawyer and everybody after say you should have done this and you should have done that, but when the other guy maybe has a gun in his pocket, that’s a different story.”

The most laughable moment in that press conference came from Mayor Bloomberg when asked if there is an independent body who oversees NYPD policy like an Inspector General would:

Yes there is. It’s called the Mayor…The police commissioner in our city works for the mayor serves at the pleasure of the mayor, and I can just tell you I’m not a professional in this but I have every single policy that this police department has the police commissioner has explained to me, kept me posted on it and when I talk to other experts, I’m convinced that they are the exactly the right thing.

Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) urged people to listen carefully:

“There have been a lot of bald-faced lies told about this bill,” [..]

“We can have safety and can have police accountability at the exact same time,” he said. “If you don’t live there, if you haven’t been going through it … please side with us.”

Michael Bloomberg has turned the NYC Police Department into his own private army, which was witnessed in the crack down on Occupy Wall St.’s peaceful demonstrations and occupation of Zuccotti Park. It’s long past time that City Council acted taking back the NYPD for the people.

The Rich Get Richer, The Poor Get Poorer

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Paul Krugman wrote about the human tragedy of the economic policy failures of the Obama administration which has prioritized deficit reduction over putting people back to work. The impact of those failures can be seen in New York City where, as reported in the New York Times, the racial wealth gap has widen since the recession:

The Urban Institute study found that the racial wealth gap yawned during the recession, even as the income gap between white Americans and nonwhite Americans remained stable. As of 2010, white families, on average, earned about $2 for every $1 that black and Hispanic families earned, a ratio that has remained roughly constant for the last 30 years. But when it comes to wealth – as measured by assets, like cash savings, homes and retirement accounts, minus debts, like mortgages and credit card balances – white families have far outpaced black and Hispanic ones. Before the recession, non-Hispanic white families, on average, were about four times as wealthy as nonwhite families, according to the Urban Institute’s analysis of Federal Reserve data. go here By 2010, whites were about six times as wealthy.

   The dollar value of that gap has grown, as well. By the most recent data, the average white family had about $632,000 in wealth, versus $98,000 for black families and $110,000 for Hispanic families.

The two factors that contributed to the gap were the housing downturn and loss of retirement savings that hit black families the hardest due a number of elements: predatory lending in minority neighborhoods; a higher proportion of their wealth invested in the home; higher unemployment rates and lower incomes among blacks; and the need to borrow out of retirement finds in a depressed market, “leaving them out in the cold as the market recovered.”

An article written by the editors of The Nation pointed out this chilling fact:

Here is New York in 2013: a city of dazzling resurrection and official neglect, remarkable wealth and even more remarkable inequality. Despite the popular narrative of a city reborn-after the fiscal crisis of the ’70s, the crack epidemic of the ’80s, the terrorist attack of 2001, the superstorm of 2012-the extraordinary triumph of New York’s existence is tempered by the outrage of that inequality. Here, one of the country’s poorest congressional districts, primarily in the South Bronx, sits less than a mile from one of its wealthiest, which includes Manhattan’s Upper East Side. And here, a billionaire mayor presides over a homelessness crisis so massive that 50,000 men, women and children sleep in shelters each night. More New Yorkers are homeless these days than at any time since the Great Depression.

The numbers tell the story. Between 2000 and 2010, the source link median income of the city’s eight wealthiest neighborhoods jumped 55 percent, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute. Meanwhile, as the cushy precincts got even cushier, median income dipped 3 percent in middle-income areas and 0.2 percent in the poorest neighborhoods. [..]

The money pouring in at the top of the income brackets has simply pooled there, without trickling down to the bottom or even the middle. This great pooling has occurred as median wages have fallen, the cost of living has increased, and the poverty rate has risen to 21 percent-as high as it was in 1980. As a result, America’s most iconic city now has the same inequality index as Swaziland.

The article goes on to say that this isn’t entirely NYC’s fault with the economic shift over the last thirty years to finance but it also pointed out that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s policies were a largely contributed to the problem.

[..]  the stewards of New York City-its mayor, legislators and other influencers-could have made choices to counter this trend: “New York City’s government is significant enough in its breadth…that the policy tools exist and the wherewithal exists to do something at the margins to lessen inequality.” The choices, however, that might have corrected some of the skew-within education, economic development, labor rights, poverty policy, budgeting-have largely been ignored in favor of creating a very different model of metropolis. [..]

Bloomberg himself expressed this vision in a March 2012 piece in the Financial Times bearing the title “Cities Must Be Cool, Creative and In Control,” in which he wrote:

For cities to have sustained success, they must compete for the grand prize: intellectual capital and talent.

I have long believed that talent attracts capital far more effectively and consistently than capital attracts talent. The most creative individuals want to live in places that protect personal freedoms, prize diversity and offer an abundance of cultural opportunities.

Then he added, “Economists may not say it this way but the truth of the matter is: being cool counts.” [..]

In essence, Bloomberg’s is a vision of the city forged primarily around the care and feeding of thought leaders, professionals and strivers-with little concern, and sometimes active contempt, for the ones who do the care and feeding. (In 2011, 400,000 New York workers, many of whom toil in service sector jobs, were not paid enough to hoist themselves out of poverty.) This is a fundamentally two-tier style of urbanism, one in which a cool, creative and well-managed metropolis glitters like something lovely, its radiance drawing attention away from the dimmed surroundings.

Yves Smith at naked capitalism observes:

But you can see more signs of stress even in the more insulated parts of New York City. Retail vacancies are up, even on the well-trafficked shopping streets, the worst since the post-2009 period. More restaurants seem to be taking a hit too, which suggests that non-expense-account diners are cutting back. And if ZIRP-supported NYC is looking a bit less robust, how well can the rest of the country be faring?

h/t to Yves for the video

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, but ain’t we got fun?

Local skirmishes for equality

Nomi Michaels Devereaux had walked from the Jewel Osco grocery store in Lakeview, IL with her boyfriend.  They stopped and she waited while he went into a friend’s home to pick up a game system.  While she was waiting, and holding six bags of groceries, she was approached by police who removed the groceries and handcuffed her.  Then they took her to a police station, where she was forced to remove her bra in front of men…who then mocked her.

Later she learned she had been arrested for solicitation.

She responded in a way that few transwomen do.  She reported the incident.  That report eventually resulted in a new general order for Chicago police.  The order, among other things, says that transpeople should not be subjected to searches any more frequently…or more invasively…than nontransgender people.  It also insists that transgender identity is not by itself evidence that a crime is occurring.

The phenomenon of police wrongly assuming that transwomen are engaged in sex work is known as walking while trans.

A Terrorist on Every Food Cart

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

If you were thought that the New York City Fire Department only put out fires and rescued stranded kitties from trees, you’d be very wrong. They have now been enlisted by the Department of Homeland Security to help fight that nebulous war on terror. The web site Tech Dirt has the sadly amusing details of the FDNY’s power point program to find a terrorist threat in food trucks that are scattered throughout NYC:

If You Eat Something, Say Something: DHS Sounds The Alarm On The ‘Terrorist Implications’ Of Food Trucks

from the basically-any-form-of-transportation-is-a-threat—-start-walking,-citizen dept

It’s interesting (or maybe just kind of sad) that various government agencies see possible terrorists everywhere but rarely, if ever, catch one. Despite the large number of personnel being thrown at the problem (along with lots of money), actual terrorists seem to be in limited supply.

But these agencies haven’t let their lack of success temper their vision of a nation under constant imminent attack. Public Intelligence recently posted a Powerpoint presentation from the NYC fire department (FDNY) discussing the unique safety issues mobile food trucks present. Along with some actual concerns (many food trucks use propane and/or gasoline-powered generators to cook; some http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=can-accutane-cause-teeth-problems gasp aren’t properly licensed food vendors), the presenter decided to toss in some DHS speculation on yet another way terrorists might be killing us in the near future.

That’s right. Instead of serving up a quick hot meal, these food trucks will be serving up death, and lots of it! Under the heading “Terrorist Implications,” the FDNY lists the exact reasons we should be concerned, most of which begin with the word “high.”

FDNY Terrorist Food Trucks 1

While any terrorist organization worth its twisted ideology would do well to nail down as much of this list as possible, so would any vendor who wished to stay in business.

Seriously folks, according to our crazies in Congress lead by the fear monger in chief, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), because we haven’t been attacked means we’re due for one. That’s like trying to predict an earthquake, you can’t and attempts by using fusion centers has been complete failure that produced no useful intelligence and violated civil liberties. But that doesn’t stop them.

The Tech Dirt article goes on pointing out more bizarreness of the FDNY presentation:

The next slide continues to lay out the “Terrorism Implications,” this time reminding first responders that food trucks have large quantities of deadly liquids (propane, gasoline) and are “easily concealed” (which I assume refers to the potential explosives, rather than the truck itself… but you can never be TOO sure). Also, food bombers will usually be in the proximity of “crowds” (gasp!) and “sidewalks” (wha…?).

FDNY Terrorist Food Trucks 2

The DHS’ unfocused “terrorvision” continues to see a threat in every situation and the department seems to be busying itself crafting a response to every conceivable “threat.” The problem with this “method” is that it turns any slight variation of “everyday activity” into something suspicious. The number of “terrorist implications” grows exponentially while the number of solutions remains the same. This Powerpoint is another example of good, old-fashioned fear mongering, utilizing public servants to spread the message.

At no point does this presentation offer anything resembling preemptive action or deterrents. All it does is paint a picture of food trucks as potential threats before concluding with, of all things, common sense safety tips aimed at dealing with food truck fires. The final slide paints the picture in the clearest terms, letting the viewer know exactly whose agenda is being pushed:

   Prepared by {..}

   FDNY Center for Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness

The priorities are all screwed up. Terrorism is the first concern. Everything else is secondary. Considering this is an FDNY presentation, you’d think that “Disaster Preparedness” would be the priority. After all, they are the first response. But instead that honor goes to the vague menace of terrorism, a constant battle with no winners and, for the most part, no combatants. Every day without a terrorist act is a “win” that perpetuates the “need” for more counter-terrorist “efforts.”

Even the logo is over the top;

FDNY Terrorsim Logo

Here is the entire “side show”:

FDNY-FoodTrucks

I suppose FDNY got a lot of money to do this.

When Will the Recovery Reach the Poor?

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

On his show AC 360°, host Anderson Cooper interviewed Sophie Delaunay, the executive Director of Doctors Without Borders, on the organizations efforts to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy, especially in the Rockaways.

“We learned our lessons from Katrina when we thought the medical needs would be covered, and when we realized there were gaps it was too late for us to react,” says Sophie Delaunay.

She tells Anderson the most challenging place right now is the Rockaways in Queens where people who need help are homebound in high-rise apartment buildings and have had little contact with the outside world since they lost their electricity. The group is helping with a variety of needs, but 60% of the consultations are to assist with prescription refills.

NYCHA head tells tenants who are still without power that they’ll get a credit for their troubles – in January

by Greg B. Smith at New York Daily News

Calls it a ‘nice little Christmas present’ but has no answers for residents still struggling two weeks after Hurricane Sandy

Public tenants without heat, hot water and power for weeks will still have cough up their full rent before getting a credit in January – a refund that NYCHA Chairman John Rhea called “a nice little Christmas present.”

Rhea made the Scrooge-esque comment Monday when he showed up at the Red Hook Houses in Brooklyn, where tenants have lived in deplorable conditions since Hurricane Sandy hit Oct. 29.

He told one tenant, “Hang in there.” [..]

When Rhea showed up in Red Hook Monday, 4,015 residents there were still without heat and hot water and 2,125 were without power. Twenty-two of the project’s 32 buildings were either without heat and hot water or power. [..]

As of Monday, 4,400 NYCHA tenants in Red Hook, Coney Island and Far Rockaway, Queens, were still without power, while 18,000 residents in 14 developments in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan still had no hot water or heat.

NYCHA turned off elevators, hot water and heat two days before the storm hit in 26 low-lying developments near waterfronts and ordered tenants to evacuate.

Occupy Sandy Volunteer Sounds Alarm on ‘Humanitarian Crisis,’ Near-Complete Absence of Government Aid in Coney Island Projects

by Daniel Marans at Huffington Post

The situation in public housing projects in Coney Island, Brooklyn remains a “humanitarian crisis” in which the government and the Red Cross have been nearly completely absent, according to Eric Moed, a volunteer aid worker with Occupy Sandy. [..]

The projects in Coney Island remain without power, and often without water and necessities in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Accounts of these conditions have been corroborated in the New York Daily News.

Moed says all of the supermarkets on Coney Island have been flooded or looted.

The result is what Moed describes as a “humanitarian crisis.” Sick or older people may be vulnerable to death without heat, or food and water.

Moed routinely meets elderly residents who have been trapped alone in their dark, cold apartments since the storm hit. The elevators often do not work, and residents willing to brave the stairwells face darkness, human waste, and even crime. [..]

Whatever response there has been from the government — city, state, or federal — or the Red Cross, Moed says their presence in and around the Coney Island projects is non-existent, inadequate, or counterproductive. FEMA has set up a solitary aid trailer on what Moed calls the “sexy area” of Coney Island — near the famous amusement park and Nathan’s — which was not hit very hard. It awaits people seeking help, when those who most need it are stranded in high-rise buildings a few blocks away.

Moed insists that he does not assume anything about the government and Red Cross’s lack of a response, but says their absence is indisputable. “They’re literally not there. It’s not a criticism, it’s literally a fact,” he said. “I’ve been on the ground here for four days. I’ve seen zero FEMA people. Occasionally a Red Cross truck will come through with hot meals. But there’ll be one truck for 15-20 buildings.” [..]

The absence of government or Red Cross presence has left a vacuum of authority and accountability at a time when stranded residents are seeking it most. “The projects have had nobody to talk to,” Moed says. “People literally have no power, no food, no water, no bathrooms–they’re defecating in buckets. And there is no one to answer to for it.” For lack of a higher-level city government presence, presidents of public housing blocks with few resources have been left to address residents’ grievances. [..]

To donate to the Sandy relief effort, visit OccupySandy.org

Hurricane Sandy Disaster: Exposing the Failed State

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

You know you’re in trouble when The Weather Channel‘s Jim Cantore shows up in your neighborhood and stays for over a week. You’re in trouble when, nearly two weeks after the storm, you have international aid organizations start setting up medical clinics and groups like Occupy Sandy, an off shoot of Occupy Wall St., are more effective in helping in the worst stricken areas of the NYC than the mayor’s Office of Emergency Management, FEMA and the Red Cross. Thousands of people are still without power and heat. In many cases, they are trapped in highrise city housing projects with no water to even flush toilets, no where else to go and no sign of relief.

This is the first time that Doctor’s Without Borders has set up operations in the United States:

MSF And A “Global Disaster Zone” In The Rockaways

A block in from what remained of the beach and its shattered boardwalk, in a community meeting room on the ground floor of the darkened Ocean Village apartment towers, the international humanitarian-aid group Doctors Without Borders had set up an emergency clinic with a volunteer staff of a dozen or so doctors, nurses, and assorted health professionals. A folding table was piled high with medical supplies, and a sheet strung up in a corner created a makeshift private screening area. An empty Starbucks jug doubled as an ad hoc sharps disposal container. Misha Friedman, a Moldovan photographer in his thirties with a shaved head-a veteran of Doctors Without Borders missions from Sudan to Uzbekistan-was briefing a pair of volunteers about the dire health situation faced by 800 senior residents in a nearby housing complex who had had no running water or electricity for a week.

“No one’s been evacuated,” he told me. “There is no evacuation. Doctors have been flooded out, pharmacies have been closed. Some patients are on dozens of medications, and they kind of fall off the grid.”

All across Far Rockaway, high up in the darkened towers and out in the flooded houses, scores of sick and elderly people, cut off from access to their doctors and medical care, needed help. When the clinic door opened at 10 a.m., there was already a group of patients waiting. [..]

Prior to MSF’s arrival, much of the relief work was done by a highly organized group that had arrived on the scene earlier than most: Occupy Sandy. A new iteration of the lower Manhattan based anti-one-percent group, Occupy Sandy was incredibly fast and organized in its response, bringing food and supplies to hard-hit areas like New Dorp, Staten Island, and Red Hook, Brooklyn, as the official response only began. And it wasn’t slowing down; a week into the crisis, Occupy Sandy’s massive Rockaways relief effort looked like a DIY version of the Normandy landings. Its early reports of the dire medical need in Far Rockaway had helped stir Doctors Without Borders to action. The list of patients (Dr. Maureen) Suter was working from had been compiled by Occupy volunteers, who had canvassed the desolate blocks of the neighborhood and the darkened halls of housing projects, knocking on doors and assembling names of people with medical needs. Now Suter was taking that list to make some house calls. [..]

A disaster like Sandy reveals fractures in our public-health system. It pulls back the curtain on stark inequities and structural flaws, but long-term institution building is not MSF’s mission. It wants to get to an emergency quickly, and with a minimum of red tape, to fill the gaps in treatment while gargantuan institutions are just getting going. To foster that capability, Delaunay would like to see a sort of disaster waiver established that allows experienced organizations like MSF to do their work quickly and without fear of liability. As Delaunay put it, “We aim to have a very quick response, and a very brief presence.”

So MSF will not be staying long in the Rockaways. At a certain point, very soon, it will hand off the work it has done there to the larger governmental agencies responsible for maintaining public-health infrastructure. Delaunay was impressed by the size and scale of New York’s emergency system, their ability to get water and blankets to people. But as was shown by Sandy, a system so vast can be completely overwhelmed or overlook crucial deficiencies. “The continuum of care was not anticipated,” she says, and the city needs to rethink how to take care of its most vulnerable citizens during a large-scale and complex disaster.

Another MSF volunteer physician related what she encountered in one city highrise in the Rockaways:

DIRE SITUATION, 15 FLOORS UP

The situation in the Rockaways is dire: high-rises don’t have working elevators, street lights are dark and until a day or two ago, pharmacies had either been destroyed or were shuttered. The almost complete absence of police, coupled with the constant darkness, has left residents fearful of leaving their apartments.[..]

In one squalid building on the ocean’s edge that has been without power and heat for 11 days, the stairwell reeked of vomit and urine. And yet a steady stream or residents made the trek, some joking that at least they were getting exercise.

One case was especially concerning to the doctors was a couple living on the 15th floor. Victor Ocasio, 46, has chronic bronchitis, asthma and has been throwing up blood. His wife Lorraine Bryant, 42, is diabetic and obese and uses a walker. Both have been complaining of chest pains and wooziness.

“I’m scared to walk down those steps. I fell before and I’m scared I’ll fall again,” said Bryant. But she was resisting the idea of going to a shelter, where the doctors said she and her husband could get regular medical treatment.

“I’m scared to go into a shelter. Bad things happen there,” she said.

John Josey, 72, who has been bed bound since having a stroke some years ago, suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis.

A home health aide who tends to him said the pharmacy where she normally fills his prescriptions washed away in the storm, and a family member had asked that a Doctors Without Borders volunteer visit to fill out new prescriptions.

This op-ed in The New York Times by Joe Nocera was a chilling indictment of the indifference of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and FEMA to the plight of the people in the hardest hit areas:

We drove farther east to Far Rockaway, a much poorer area. There were long lines at various churches that were serving as distribution centers. Although there were police officers everywhere, the hard work of getting Far Rockaway residents help had, once again, fallen to volunteers.

At the Church of the Nazarene in Far Rockaway, however, I did see a FEMA presence; I was told that FEMA had arrived on Thursday. You would think that FEMA, with all its expertise, would be coordinating the relief effort. But you would be wrong. When I asked one FEMA official what his workers were doing, he said they were mainly trying to make sure that residents applied for assistance. That is not insignificant, of course, but it’s not exactly leading the charge. [..]

When I called Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office to ask why so much of the relief effort had been left to volunteers, I got immense pushback. Cas Holloway, one of Bloomberg’s deputy mayors, told me that the city had handed out two million meals. The city was coordinating with the Salvation Army, he said, and was a big presence in the Rockaways. It had set up five distribution centers there. It was paying food trucks to give out free food.

Be that as it may, I can tell you that that is not the experience of many volunteers – or residents – of the Rockaways. Before the storm hit, Mayor Bloomberg said that New York City didn’t need FEMA’s help because the city had “everything under control.” You don’t have to spend much time in Queens to realize that New York City needs all the help it can get. It is extremely fortunate that it is getting so much help from volunteers.

Before we left the Rockaways, (Nan) Shipley and I met a man who had come into (city councilman, James) Sanders’s office looking for help. He had two children, he said, including a 2-month-old baby who had had bronchitis and had just gotten out of the hospital. “Our house is too cold,” he kept saying, wiping tears from his eyes. “The baby will get sick again. We need a place to stay.”

After talking to the man, Shipley walked back to the Church of the Nazarene to see if one of the FEMA officials could do something.

A few minutes later, she came back frowning. “He said to call 911,” she said.

Here is how you can help.

Occupy Sandy Recovery

Occupy Sandy is a coordinated relief effort to help distribute resources & volunteers to help neighborhoods and people affected by Hurricane Sandy. We are a coalition of people & organizations who are dedicated to implementing aid and establishing hubs for neighborhood resource distribution. Members of this coalition are from Occupy Wall Street, 350.org, recovers.org, InterOccupy.net and many individual volunteers.

Donate to Occupy Sandy in New York

Amount raised as of Nov. 10th: $378,610.00

Donate to Occupy Sandy in New Jersey

Amount raised as of Nov. 10th: $50.00

Occupy Sandy believes in mutual aid and the community that is formed through in-kind donations. In order to recognize that there is more than one form of capital, the money in this account will be invested in long-term disaster relief rebuilding projects and emergencies. All other needs will be filled through in-kind donations. The task of rebuilding communities is a marathon and not a sprint. We thank you for your donations and your support.

Current Needs – blankets (we have none) flashlights aaa batteries gallon ziplock bags cleaning hardware, especially brooms, flat shovels, mops masks and gloves hydrogen peroxide white vinegar any sort of baby/toddler food and formula duct and scotch tape tolitries (deoderents, tampons, soap, etc) can openers.

(WE NO LONGER NEED ANY GENERAL CLOTHING SUPPLIES)

FDL: Send 1,000 Blankets to Victims of Hurricane Sandy

Victims of Hurricane Sandy across the northeast need help immediately. Temperatures are plummeting and a Nor’easter is bearing down the coast.

Firedoglake’s Occupy Supply has many of the supplies these disaster victimes need, and we’re working with organizers at Occupy Sandy to get 1000 woobie, fleece and space blankets in the hands of those affected by the storm.

Can you chip in $20 to ship these blankets and get them to New York, so they can be distributed immediately?

100% of your contribution to Occupy Supply will be used to purchase and ship blankets and other essential supplies to victims of Hurricane Sandy. All items are American-made.

Doctors Without Borders is not accepting any more donations for the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief. It has received more than enough to cover its operations in New York City Boroughs of Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Hoboken, New Jersey.

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