Brooklyn has the embarrassing distinction of having one of the most corrupt local Democratic Party machines in the country. Our former party boss, Clarence Norman, is already in jail. Our current party boss, Vito Lopez, deserves the same fate. The fact that the national party tolerates this is an embarrassment to those of us who crusade against the much more prevalent Republican corruption. Someone in the national party really should take note of the crap that goes on in Brooklyn lest it gives the Republicans ammunition against us. read more »
The constitution of this country reserves a special place for newspapers in this unfinished democracy: a special place which comes with specific responsibilities to the polity. Newspapers are expected to inform and edify the masses beyond the mundane day to day events of life in this city, state and nation. Its columnists, free-lance journalists and editorial boards are also expected to take positions on issues, in order to stimulate debate and discussion amongst elites, professionals and ordinary folks alike. Thus the roles and functions of any newspaper are quite important to the theory of democracy. And despite the fact that television, radio, the internet and other contemporary mediums within modern communications technology, have altogether surpassed newspapers as the main mode of information-gathering for most people, the responsibilities mandated by the constitution remain the same. read more »
Some time back I wrote about a fellow Culture Kitchen blogger, Leo Igwe, whose blogging has gotten him and his family beaten up repeatedly. He is a Nigerian who stands up against both Christian and Muslim fundamentalism in Africa and stands up for reason and science. His main crusades have been fighting against child abuse in the name of religion. For his efforts he has been harassed by the police and beaten by mobs. But he keeps fighting even as the attempts to silence him have escalated.
The latest attack was a couple of weeks ago when his mother and father were beaten in their own house. His father lost an eye. I am on vacation now so not blogging so much, but I have to post the latest from Leo: despite these repeated attacks, he has vowed to keep fighting. The latest Culture Kitchen diary by Leo Igwe is reposted below with further background on Leo and his efforts.
The recent attack on my family which led to my father's loss of one eye was an unfortunate development. It was yet another attempt to intimidate us and undermine our campaign for justice.
To any intelligent observer of the trends in Nigeria, this incident would not have come as a surprise. Because Nigeria has practically been taken over by thugs, hoodlums, kidnappers and bandits.
Nigeria is held hostage by forces of dark age and barbarism. Anything that appears to be civil or enlightened about Nigeria is mainly on the surface. Since independence Nigeria has been descending gradually into anomie, anarchy and criminality. Nigeria has derailed and deteriorated due to misrule, bad governance, collective irresponsibility and insensitivity, lack of vision and thoughtfulness, selfishness, greed, ignorance, hypocrisy and self deceit. Nigeria has failed to put in place institutions that treat the people in a fair, just and dignified manner. Nigeria has failed to adopt effective mechanisms to reward those who want to live honest, decent, diligent and dignified lives. Nigeria has failed to cultivate and institutionalize those values that make a nation great, relevant and prosperous.
At best, Nigeria pays lip service to these values. The government is irresponsive and irresponsible. The educational system is in shambles. The justice system is nothing to write home about. The value system has collapsed. The greatest tragedy is that most Nigerians have resigned to this ‘fate’. They think that nothing can be done to change or improve the situation; that no radical or reasonable change can be realized. Most Nigerians have given up hope- hope of realizing a decent and dignified life; hope for justice and fairness for all; hope for recognition and respect for their rights. Fear, despair, gloom, pessimism and cynicism loom throughout the country.
The public institutions are used to oppress and exploit the public. The power of the people is used to abuse, enslave and maltreat the people. read more »
LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE: SENATOR KEVIN PARKER VERSUS WELLINGTON SHARPE (AGAIN). Remember to vote on Tuesday 14th September, 20
In New York City, political activists know that September is primary month; and soon enough Democrat State Senator Kevin Parker faces an old nemesis (Wellington Sharpe) in a primary for Brooklyn’s 21st senatorial district. It will be an intriguing contest: so fasten your seat belts all you political junkies.
The relationship between these two individuals has been “volatile” (to say the least). They have been in and out the courts for various reasons -with criminal, civil and political charges flying left and right. Sharpe has filed two legal actions against Parker: one civil and the other with criminal implications. Senator Parker has also filed twice in court: both times he attempted to knock Sharpe off the ballot. Parker has failed in both his legal political attempts to avoid a primary battle with Sharpe. Sharpe’s actions are a bit different in terms of results. read more »
Look at what Marty Markowitz, Bruce Ratner, Bill de Blasio, Michael Bloomberg and Bertha Lewis, to name a few, have brought to Brooklyn. Atlantic Yards seems to be bringing some real sleaze to our city, though not much in the way of real, long-term jobs or affordable housing.
Barclay's, the company that bought naming rights to Bruce Ratner's arena, has just been fined for more than a decade of illegally doing business with the likes of Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma. From BBC News:
Barclays Bank is to pay $298m (£190m) to settle criminal charges that it violated US sanctions in dealings with Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma.
The bank was charged with breaching the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Trading with the Enemy Act in dealings between 1995 and 2006...
Barclays has agreed to pay $149m to the US government and a separate $149m in a deferred prosecution agreement with the district attorney in New York. read more »
Of all the well known black leaders in this country, Al Sharpton has been one of the most enigmatic. Who else could have worn an FBI wire and still maintain a certain level of credibility in black nationalistic circles? Who else could be so flawed in character -over his years of activism- and still have candidates such as Hilary Clinton (and now Andrew Cuomo) kissing his ring? How the hell he has managed to stay out of prison is in itself a mystery: but then mysterious too have been all those fires that seem to have sprung up around him over the years; especially when the FEC, IRS, or some other governmental regulatory agency was on his back, or on the back of one of his organizations. read more »
Michael Daly nails it with today's op/ed piece. From It's an emotional issue, but blocking the Ground Zero mosque is just what the terrorists want:
Even now, after all our mistakes, after we let Bin Laden slip away in Afghanistan and lost our focus going into Iraq, Al Qaeda is still more a gang than an army.
It is still so small that its new operations chief, Adnan Shukrijumah, met personally with the knuckleheads who planned to bomb the subway last September.
When the previous operations chief, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was captured, he was not surrounded by a host of terrorists. He had nary a bodyguard when he was rousted from bed in his underwear at the house where he was hiding out like what he was, a murderer on the run.
We have since built him into a figure of such awesome evil that we are afraid to try him in downtown Manhattan like what he is, a murderer who has been caught.
We have glorified Al Qaeda in the same way, but to reach its ultimate goal, it still needs us to convince the majority of Muslims that the war on terror is really a war on Islam.
We are only helping the bad guys if we declare that the religious freedom at the core of our democracy does not apply to a mosque too close to Ground Zero. read more »
New Kings Democrat's Esteban Duran Beats Back Challenge By Corrupt Vito Lopez (Plus a Review of Reform Club Endorsements)
New Kings Democrats is still a relatively new player in Brooklyn politics and has been expanding the reform movement against the corrupt Vito Lopez machine. This has been greatly needed as a formerly reform club, IND, has sunk into its own bizarre world that focused on preventing effective clean up of the Gowanus canal before development but now seems oddly aimless and centered only on maintaining the club itself as a private domain of a particular family. Of course I saw something similar almost happen to CBID, but CBID managed to avoid that fate. IND has not.
Which means New Kings Democrats (NKD) is a much needed shot of new blood into the reform movement in Brooklyn. And they have been doing their best to give the Vito Lopez machine some headaches by running reform candidates for District Leader in areas dominated by Lopez. This is a nice balance to the fact that Vito Lopez is running his candidates (e.g. Vito's "Loyal Lackeys" Hope Reichbach and Steve Williamson running in the 52nd Assembly District) in traditionally reform districts. From NKD's latest Press Release: read more »
The Mayor's handpicked Charter Revision Commission has made their recommendations (including resetting term limits to the two terms that was the law before the Mayor strong-armed the City Council into changing it for his benefit).
These proposals will be on the ballot this November, meaning we have two and a half months to decide what they mean and whether they are good or bad for the city. There is still a question of whether some of these proposals will be bundled together (which would be a bad thing), and some details are still missing. But...
GrassrootsNYC has issued its preliminary views. Feel free to check them out on our website. We need the debate to start now, so that we can influence voters who won't be as well-informed.
Leo Igwe should be an inspiration to us all. He is a Nigerian Humanist who stands up to religious extremism (both Muslim and Christian) and tries to protect children from religious-inspired child abuse...and for his pains he has been beaten, harrassed by police and frivolous lawsuits, and now his family has been attacked.
I am proud to have recruited Leo as a regular blogger on Culture Kitchen where he has written many fascinating pieces on religious extremism and superstition in Africa and how they impede African progress. I read all his pieces and learn a great deal from them. But I also worry about him. Most of us can blog all we want without endangering ourselves or our families. Leo cannot. He has chosen to speak truth to power at the risk of himself and his family. Would I be so brave in his shoes?
In 2007 I came home from a long day at work followed by the Friday Happy Hour at my place of work. I was very tired and a tad tipsy. My wife greets me with a huge stack of printouts and tells me "You have to blog about this."
She never asks me to blog anything, so I knew it was big, but I was not ready to face anything that would take so much brain power. I said I'd look at it later, but my wife wouldn't let me brush it aside. I started reading...and knew if I could get permission to quote what I was holding I'd have an extremely important story. My wife handed me printouts of extensive email discussions among NASA scientists who were facing violations to their Constitutional Rights by Homeland Security, specifically Homeland Security Presidential Directive #12 (HSPD12). The discussion was mainly at the Jet Propulsion Lab in California but the Civil Rights violations were starting to be implemented at my wife's place of work, the Goddard Insitute of Space Sciences (GISS) in NYC. read more »
But let me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure.
We must never forget those who we lost so tragically on 9/11, and we must always honor those who have led our response to that attack --from the firefighters who charged up smoke-filled staircases, to our troops who are serving in Afghanistan today. And let us always remember who we are fighting against, and what we are fighting for. Our enemies respect no freedom of religion. Al Qaeda%u2019s cause is not Islam --it is a gross distortion of Islam. These are not religious leaders --these are terrorists who murder innocent men, women and children. In fact, al Qaeda has killed more Muslims than people of any other religion --and that list of victims includes innocent Muslims who were killed on 9/11.
Full Text of the speech: read more »
How's your day coming along?
The 63-37 vote was mostly along party lines. Five GOP senators backed Kagan, and only one Democrat -- Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska -- opposed her. Republican leaders offered spirited floor opposition to the nominee, but were unable to muster a prolonged delay or filibuster of the vote.
Kagan is set to begin a lifetime position as the nation's 112th justice. She will be sworn into office Saturday afternoon, taking the traditional constitutional and judicial oaths. The newest justice will then be able to assume her court duties immediately. read more »
Jerrold Nadler teaches Schumer, Weiner, Gillibrand and Maloney how to stand up for Muslims in New York
While Michael Bloomberg gave a rousing speech defending the building of Córdoba House in downtown Manhattan, both Chuck Schumer and Anthony Weiner have been conspicuously silent on the issue.
Kirsten Gillibrand, Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler all released statements of support, yet it was only Nadler who was willing to take a forceful political stand on the issue. From Nadler: Attacks on mosque "shameful and divisive":
As an elected official who believes strongly in the separation of church and state, I contend that the government has no business deciding whether there should or should not be a Muslim house of worship near Ground Zero. And, as a representative of New Yorkers of all faiths and cultures, I find the singling out of Muslim-Americans -- because of their faith -- for animus and hate to be shameful and divisive. We should instead work toward building tolerance and understanding. For centuries, New Yorkers have exhibited a great capacity to incorporate and benefit from diversity. The Córdoba House, which is the product of moderate Muslims, has the support of the local community board and a wide swath of Lower Manhattan community leaders.
I have said numerous times that Schumer needs a primary. Actually, his love for everything Rupert Murdoch has earned him an entry into my list of Democrats that need to be booted out. Gillibrand should also get a primary even if that other person would have ended up being Maloney. As to Maloney, she is looking down the barrel of a primary against Indian-American Reshma Saujani.
Then there's Weiner.
Sure, many people think he would be a good mayor for New York. Guess who's the other name that makes NYC Democrat's head swoon? Jerrold Nadler. If Weiner thinks screaming about health care for 9/11 responders is enough to get him elected mayor of the city, he is wrong. That bullshit strategy may have worked wonders for Giuliani but for him? Not. Gonna. Work.
On a personal note: I just want to let everybody know that when the primary and election days come, I will be remembering the names of the more than 60 Muslim men and women who died on the days of the attacks. And I will remember those who refused to honor and defend like Nadler and Bloomberg have.
Partial List of Muslim 9/11 Victims
Note: This list is as yet incomplete and unconfirmed.It has been compiled from the Islamic Circle of North America, the Newsday victims database, and reports from other major news organizations.
The victims' ages, employers, or other personal information is included when available, along with links to further information or photos. read more »
You all know that I am not a fan of Michael Bloomberg. That is not going to stop me from applauding him when he is 100% right on an issue such as the building of Córdoba House two blocks Ground Zero.
Thank you Mayor Bloomberg, for voicing your opposition to the Islamophobe bigots with such a loud and clear voice.
Our doors are open to everyone – everyone with a dream and a willingness to work hard and play by the rules. New York City was built by immigrants, and it is sustained by immigrants – by people from more than a hundred different countries speaking more than two hundred different languages and professing every faith. And whether your parents were born here, or you came yesterday, you are a New Yorker.
We may not always agree with every one of our neighbors. That's life and it's part of living in such a diverse and dense city. But we also recognize that part of being a New Yorker is living with your neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance. It was exactly that spirit of openness and acceptance that was attacked on 9/11.
No one should be asked to leave their neighborhood. This is our neighborhood and we've been part of it for 27 years. Our opponents are not from this neighborhood.
read more »
One of my favorite things about NYC is the diversity and considerable (if sometimes reluctant) tolerance for that diversity. But there is a very disturbing trend in Staten Island that seems to reflect the growing intolerance across the country. This comes from BBC News:
Since April there have been 10 reported incidents of violence against Hispanic immigrants on Staten Island, a borough of New York City.
The attacks have all occurred on the island's North Shore, principally in the community of Port Richmond.
The most recent attack came on Saturday, when an 18-year-old student was beaten and robbed by a group of young African-American men while on his way home from working at a late-night restaurant...
Today the fastest growing minority group in Port Richmond is Mexican.
Mexico's Consul General in New York, Ruben Beltran, says he is "angry and frustrated" at the string of attacks.
Earlier this week, he sent a consular representative to support Mexican immigrants in the neighbourhood. read more »
Come to COMIX tonight if you want to meet LIZZ WINSTEAD, co-creator of The Daily Show, and the bloggers who love her
WHO and WHAT
Liz' StandUp Birthday Party
Lizz Winstead, Creator/Writer of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show"
Morgan Murphy, Writer for NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon"
353 West 14th Street read more »
Please join me and co-host Marjorie Gersten for Central Brooklyn
Eating Liberally, a chance to meet, eat good food and discuss liberal
politics, both local and national.
August 10th 7 PM at:
Kaz an nou, a French Caribbean restaurant at 53 6th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217.
I haven't tried this one yet but it is supposed to be great and the menu looks amazing.
There are some important races this year with promising liberal
candidates. Two interesting Attorney General candidates we can
discuss. Local Brooklyn district leader races and some interesting State
Senate races. So come and tell us about your favorite candidate (bring some
information if you like) and enjoy some great food with some good, liberal friends. (Some of us have returned from interesting trips abroad which will also be shared).
Next meeting will be Tuesday, Sept. 7th 7 PM at Kombit, a Hatian restaurant I have tried and quite liked at 279 Flatbush Ave Brooklyn, New York 11217.
So far all restaurants we have met at have been excellent: Born Thai, Dao Palate, Taqueria de los Muertos, and Zaytoons.