Daily Archive: 11/13/2012

Nov 13 2012

Bloomberg Holds Public Housing Residents Hostage

Mayor Bloomberg, NYCHA and HUD: Restore power to all NYCHA residents


Twelve days and counting after Sandy hit on October 29, children, parents, families, the elderly and disabled remain without lights, heat, hot water or power in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).

This is true for houses in Gowanus, Red Hook, the Rockaways, Coney Island and elsewhere.

John Rhea, the chairman of NYCHA, told The Huffington Post that he and the organization have been doing the best they could. Unfortunately, he said, these buildings happened to be located in the areas hardest hit by the hurricane. Yet, power in those hard hit areas has been restored – just not in NYCHA housing.

Mayor Bloomberg has not addressed or remedied the failure of his city’s response. Nor has the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which funds NYCHA in part, sent federal contractors or generators to help coordinate this unacceptable human emergency.

Instead, thousands of individual volunteers, and community-organizing and health organizations like Occupy Sandy, Children’s Health Fund, Masbia Soup Kitchen, Red Hook Initiative, Make the Road NY, CAAAV, Doctor’s Without Borders (launching it’s first effort ever within the United States), and numerous religious institutions have tried to fill in where Mayor Bloomberg and NYCHA have failed NYC residents in desperate need.

CALL MAYOR BLOOMBERG TODAY: 212-NEW-YORK (212-639-9675). Tell him the response has been unacceptable.

CALL HUD’s NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS TODAY: (202) 708-1112. Tell Secretary Shaun Donovan that their response has been unacceptable.

Sign this petition

Nov 13 2012

Desperate Housewives of the Defense Department: Up Date

I’ve been a little busy with the on going disaster that was left by Hurricane Sandy, but not too busy to have missed the latest MSM obsession the soap opera of the “Petraeus Affair.” As it turns out this little episode was brought to us by a sex obsessed, “shirtless, Tea Party sympathizing FBI agent” and an out of control surveillance state. Like Atrios, I am not surprised that the PTB and the MSM will not recognize the real problem here, the surveillance state that the Bush/Obama regimes have created:

Even with this happening, I don’t expect the people who rule us to suddenly realize that the FBI trolling through emails looking for unapproved sexytime might be a problem.

Jane Mayer, in The New Yorker, “puzzles” about the politics of the “affair:”

There seem to be some potentially fascinating political aspects of this story that have yet to be explored. Why, for instance, did this news explode publicly when it did? Both the New York Times and the Washington Post report that the F.B.I. had found, after months of investigation, that neither retired General David Petraeus, now the former director of the C.I.A., nor the woman with whom he was evidently involved, his biographer Paula Broadwell, had broken any laws. Congressional intelligence officials reportedly want to know why they were not informed earlier that the F.B.I. was investigating Petraeus. But what I am wondering is why, if the F.B.I. had indeed concluded that they had no criminal case, this matter was brought to anyone’s attention at all. [..]

But what, exactly, was this F.B.I. employee trying to expose? Was he blowing the whistle on his bosses? If so, why? Was he dissatisfied with their apparent exoneration of Petraeus? Given that this drama was playing out in the final days of a very heated Presidential campaign, and he was taking a potentially scandalous story to the Republican leadership in Congress, was there a political motive?

It doesn’t break my heart to see him go. I always thought putting ex-military men in charge of the civilian CIA was a bad idea that would just get us into more foreign wars. Echidne, writing on her blog, points out that Petraeus is not exactly a “flaming liberal” and cites this passage from an article in The Washington Post:

Since his first combat tour in Iraq in 2003, Petraeus had cultivated a cadre of a few dozen loyal staff officers, many of whom had doctoral degrees from top universities and taught at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Usually, he personally selected these men and women to serve on his staff.

In Afghanistan, the retinue grew as people drawn to his fame and eager to launch their own careers took up positions for him in Kabul. “He didn’t seek out these people, but he also didn’t turn them away,” said an officer who spent 40 months working for Petraeus in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Prominent members of conservative, Washington-based defense think tanks were given permanent office space at his headquarters and access to military aircraft to tour the battlefield. They provided advice to field commanders that sometimes conflicted with orders the commanders were getting from their immediate bosses.

Some of Petraeus’s staff officers said he and the American mission in Afghanistan benefited from the broader array of viewpoints, but others complained that the outsiders were a distraction, the price of his growing fame.

Of course no one in the MSM is asking why this was done without a warrant, since Jill Kelley’s complaint was about harassing e-mails about her association with Gen. Petraeus. But, hey, they’re keeping us safe from those terrorists.

I find that rather amusing, since former CIA Director and retired Army general, David Petraeus is one of the right wing’s “hope” for a shot at the White House in 2016 was brought down with the very same “tool”, unfettered surveillance, that the right wingers claim is keeping America safe.  Whatever the motivation was, I also have a sneaking suspicion since the right wing media is  wondering why the President even accepted his resignation and portraying Petraeus as a “victim,” wondering why the President even accepted his resignation that he’ll be back in the near future with his right wing halo all polished.

Up Date: Apparently someone at the New York Times is reading Atrios’ comments:

The F.B.I. investigation that toppled the director of the C.I.A. and now threatens to tarnish the reputation of the top American commander in Afghanistan underscores a danger that civil libertarians have long warned about: that in policing the Web for crime, espionage and sabotage, government investigators will unavoidably invade the private lives of Americans. [..]

For privacy advocates, the case sets off alarms.

“There should be an investigation not of the personal behavior of General Petraeus and General Allen but of what surveillance powers the F.B.I. used to look into their private lives,” Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in an interview. “This is a textbook example of the blurring of lines between the private and the public.” [..]

But the events of the last few days have shown how law enforcement investigators who plunge into the private territories of cyberspace looking for one thing can find something else altogether, with astonishingly destructive results. [..]

But some commentators have renewed an argument that a puritanical American culture overreacts to sexual transgressions that have little relevance to job performance. “Most Americans were dismayed that General Petraeus resigned,” said Mr. Romero of the A.C.L.U.

Am I “dismayed” over Petraeus’ resignation? No, since I don’t think he should be in charge of the CIA in the first place. I am dismayed that about the surveillance state that caused it and loss of our right to privacy that conservatives hypocritically opine when they complain about “big government.”

Nov 13 2012

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

New York Times Editorial: A New Chance for the Senate

In May, Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, was furious at yet another obstructionist filibuster by Senate Republicans. He admitted then that he was wrong in 2011 not to change the Senate’s rules when he had a chance. [..]

It was a shame, a missed opportunity that helped give Republicans a big cudgel over the last two years. But now Mr. Reid has a chance to rectify that mistake. In January, at the beginning of the next session of the United States Senate, Democrats can vastly improve the efficiency of Congress and reduce filibuster abuse with a simple-majority vote. This time they need to seize the moment.

Robert Reich: The President’s Opening Bid on a Grand Bargain: Aim High

I hope the president starts negotiations over a “grand bargain” for deficit reduction by aiming high. After all, he won the election. And if the past four years has proven anything it’s that the White House should not begin with a compromise.

Assuming the goal is $4 trillion of deficit reduction over the next decade (that’s the consensus of the Simpson-Bowles commission, the Congressional Budget Office, and most independent analysts), here’s what the President should propose [..]

Paul Buchheit: Five Misconceptions about our Tattered Safety Net

Mitt Romney said he wasn’t concerned about the very poor, because they have a safety net. This is typical of the widespread ignorance about inequality in our country. Struggling Americans want jobs, not handouts, and for the most part they’ve paid for their “safety net.” The real problem is at the other end of the wealth gap.

How many people know that out of 150 countries, we have the 4th-highest wealth disparity (pdf)? Only Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Switzerland are worse.

It’s not just economic inequality that’s plaguing our country. It’s lack of opportunity. It’s a dismissal of poor people as lazy, or as threats to society. More than any other issue over the next four years, we need to address the growing divide in our nation, to tone down our winner-take-all philosophy, to provide job opportunities for people who want to contribute to society.

Here are some of the common misconception [..]

Cenk Uygur: Why the Grand Bargain Is One-Sided and Totally Unfair

First of all, let’s establish that no one in Washington actually cares about balancing the budget. If they did, they would love this so-called Fiscal Cliff. It raises taxes and cuts spending, so it would massively reduce the deficit. Isn’t that what all of Washington has been pretending to care about all of this time?

Second, understand that this so-called compromise they are talking about in order to avoid this supposed calamity is a trick. In fact, it’ll be the greatest robbery in American history. Think about it — they say they are worried about all those tax increases and spending cuts. But that’s not true. The Grand Bargain would dramatically increase spending cuts, not alleviate them. So, in fact, the only thing they care about is paying less taxes, as always. [..]

The Grand Bargain is a Grand Lie. Anyone who argues for it is either a fool or a charlatan. If President Obama was anything but the establishment hack that he is, he would never consider it. There is nothing wrong with compromise, but this isn’t compromise. This is a robbery.

John Nichols: Ron Johnson’s Pompous Assumptions: Voters are Ignorant, Colleagues Need Tutoring

Ron Johnson is not a familiar name to most Americans who are pondering the politics of the “fiscal cliff.” But Johnson’s reaction to the 2012 election results will tell folks everything they need to know about the challenge rational Democrats will face when it comes to negotiations with not-so-rational Republicans.

A senator from Wisconsin who announced his candidacy at a Tea Party rally and was elected-with help from a family fortune, Karl Rove and the US Chamber of Commerce’s political operations-Johnson has been a congressional absolutist when it comes to budget issues. He embraces House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan’s austerity agenda, perhaps even more than Ryan does himself. And he swears, against all economic evidence to the contrary, and against all political evidence of opposition on the part of the American people, that there is only one way to address the challenges facing America: tax cuts for rich people like him and benefit cuts for everyone else.

Ari Berman: Why We Still Need Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act

In 2006, Congress voted overwhelmingly to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act for another twenty-five years. The vote was 390-33 in the House and 98-0 in the Senate. Every top Republican supported the bill. “The Voting Rights Act must continue to exist,” said House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner, “and exist in its current form.” Civil rights leaders, including Julian Bond and Jesse Jackson, flanked George W. Bush at the signing ceremony.

Yet three days after the 2012 election, in which voter suppression played a starring role, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a conservative challenge to the constitutionality of Section 5, which compels parts or all of sixteen states with a history of racial discrimination in voting to clear election-related changes with the federal government. The challenge originates in Shelby County, Alabama, and is being supported by Republican attorneys general in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas. Ed Blum, director of the Project on Fair Representation, which is funding the lawsuit, told The New York Times that Section 5 “is stuck in a Jim Crow-era time warp.”

Nov 13 2012

On This Day In History November 13

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

November 13 is the 317th day of the year (318th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 48 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1982, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C. after a week long national salute to Americans who served in the Vietnam War.

The Memorial Wall, designed by Maya Lin, is made up of two gabbro walls 246 feet 9 inches (75 m) long. The walls are sunk into the ground, with the earth behind them. At the highest tip (the apex where they meet), they are 10.1 feet (3 m) high, and they taper to a height of eight inches (20 cm) at their extremities. Stone for the wall came from Bangalore, Karnataka, India, and was deliberately chosen because of its reflective quality. Stone cutting and fabrication was done in Barre, Vermont. Stones were then shipped to Memphis, Tennessee where the names were etched. The etching was completed using a photoemulsion and sandblasting process. The negatives used in the process are in storage at the Smithsonian Institution. When a visitor looks upon the wall, his or her reflection can be seen simultaneously with the engraved names, which is meant to symbolically bring the past and present together. One wall points toward the Washington Monument, the other in the direction of the Lincoln Memorial, meeting at an angle. Each wall has 72 panels, 70 listing names (numbered 1E through 70E and 70W through 1W) and 2 very small blank panels at the extremities. There is a pathway along the base of the Wall, where visitors may walk, read the names, make a pencil rubbing of a particular name, or pray.

Inscribed on the walls with the Optima typeface are the names of servicemen who were either confirmed to be KIA (Killed in Action) or remained classified as MIA (Missing in Action) when the walls were constructed in 1982. They are listed in chronological order, starting at the apex on panel 1E in 1959 (although it was later discovered that the first casualties were military advisers who were killed by artillery fire in 1957), moving day by day to the end of the eastern wall at panel 70E, which ends on May 25, 1968, starting again at panel 70W at the end of the western wall which completes the list for May 25, 1968, and returning to the apex at panel 1W in 1975. Symbolically, this is described as a “wound that is closed and healing.” Information about rank, unit, and decorations are not given. The wall listed 58,159 names when it was completed in 1993; as of June 2010, there are 58,267 names, including 8 women. Approximately 1,200 of these are listed as missing (MIAs, POWs, and others), denoted with a cross; the confirmed dead are marked with a diamond. If the missing return alive, the cross is circumscribed by a circle (although this has never occurred as of March 2009); if their death is confirmed, a diamond is superimposed over the cross. According to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, “there is no definitive answer to exactly how many, but there could be as many as 38 names of personnel who survived, but through clerical errors, were added to the list of fatalities provided by the Department of Defense.” Directories are located on nearby podiums so that visitors may locate specific names.

Nov 13 2012

When Will the Recovery Reach the Poor?

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