Occupy Wall Street is calling for a General Strike in New York City on May 1st, the traditional day of the labor movement. And because this is a people's movement, not something dreamed up in glam K Street offices, and New York is the cultural and creative epicenter of the known universe, they're asking for ideas on how to get that message out, here.
ON MAY 1ST, 2012
Millions of people throughout the world — workers, students, immigrants, professionals, houseworkers — employed and unemployed alike — will take to the streets to unite in a General Strike against a system that does not work for us.
Don't go to work. Don't go to school. Don't shop. Take the streets!
Our system is broken. So let's fix it. We sent a man to the moon, we should be able to create a country where everyone who wants work can find it, where a medical emergency does not translate into inevitable bankruptcy, and where we can actually do things together, instead of in spite of one another.
By a vote of 1005-653 the Park Slope Food Co-op voted not to hold a referendum on boycotting Israeli products. Supporters argue that Israels human rights record towards the Palestinians is poor enough to warrant a boycott. Opponents argue that the boycott is inappropriate for the co-op, overly divisive to the membership, and unfairly singles out Israel when the co-op carries products from other countries that have human rights records similar to or worse than Israel's.
The vote shows that the boycott is unlikely to be embraced any time soon, but also shows that both sides are well represented among the membership. The letters section of the co-op's newsletter have been filled every single issue with letters from both sides. However, by now I think the majority of co-op members are sick of the whole issue and would prefer both sides give it a rest...or at least many letters to that effect have been published more recently.
To me the most disturbing thing about the boycott movement is a nearly complete unwillingness to even give credence to the other side. Opponents (and I am one of them) are often sympathetic to Palestinians (I am even open to a UN seat for Palestine) and highly critical of the right wing government of Israel. But not supportive of a boycott by the food co-op. So from that side there is common ground. I have even recommended a strategy that could possibly lead to a boycott of Israel without unfairly singling it out: set human rights criteria that a nation must meet or face a boycott by the co-op. This would mean China and Turkey would almost certainly be boycotted as well, but perhaps the free Tibet movement (which has called for a boycott of China) would like that. And Kurdish, Assyrian, Armenian, and Greek advocates call for a boycott of Turkey. Set standards in such a way as to boycott Israel and you almost certainly will see boycotts of other nations as well, but at least this would be consistent and fair. But the boycott movement ONLY wants to target Israel and won't listen to any suggestion that makes the boycott unbiased. This does little to reassure those who feel there is some degree of anti-Semitism on the boycott movement (something that is not necessarily there but too often seems to attract anti-Semites). read more »
There are times when the movers and shakers of mainstream media simply refuse to do their primary duty: edify the public as to what’s really happening in the corridors of power. And this is why blogs -like this one- have now emerged as crucial back-ups for those who seek to truthfully bring the four-one-one to the public.
Take the recent legislative package passed in Albany for example. Mainstream media heralded it as a victory for Governor Andrew Cuomo; but is it? Really?
Many blacks -politically active on the New York scene- are now asking how the governor could fix his fingers to sign off on this horrid legislative package; especially the redistricting piece. Andrew Cuomo and Sheldon Silver are planting seeds for rebellion and mutiny; they need to walk carefully in the short term. They need to be both creative and contrite in the long-term. read more »
Via the Daily News (found via the Facebook stream of a State Senator) comes this disturbing development:
Republicans in the state Senate, led by Sen. Dean Skelos, show clear symptoms of Obamacare Derangement Syndrome — a form of hysteria in which victims lose the ability to think clearly about health care.
Confirming this diagnosis is their opposition to establishing a health insurance exchange for New York State — an organization with the utterly unobjectionable function of helping the uninsured find coverage they can afford.
The Senate GOP’s position makes so little sense, it can only be the result of ODS — the same ailment that has been raging for months among the presidential candidates.
The details of the story are for another time, but one observation needs to be made: it's always been a truism, as far back as I can remember, that Northeastern Republicans are at least not as outright deranged as their cousins down South or over the river (yes, Chris Christie, I'm looking at you). The problem is that it's just not true. And this is what the current spat in Albany illustrates with a pleasant vividness. In the alternate universe of the contemporary Republican Party, facts don't matter as much as the entirely unacceptable fact that there's a black man in the White House who, like, does stuff.
So it seems that the drama in Park Slope - over whether or not the Co-Op food store there should or should not become the second such venture in the United States to boycott Israel and its products - the first and only is in Olympia, Washington, while several others have declined to participate - is finally coming to a head, with a vote on whether to have a vote scheduled tomorrow.
Having flown under the radar for quite some time, now, the political sphere is taking notice, and seems none too pleased.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, a candidate for Mayor in 2013, entered the discussion Sunday afternoon by calling the potential boycott “an outrage to our collective values as New Yorkers.”
“The inflammatory proposal to boycott products from the State of Israel is wrongheaded and an affront to American values and interests,” Mr. de Blasio said in a statement. “This movement—nationally and internationally—is a destructive force that must be stopped. It undermines America’s relationship with our steadfast partner in the fight against terrorism and our strongest ally in the Middle East.”
“These are businesses that should be run as businesses,” Bloomberg said at the St. Patrick’s Parade yesterday in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. “I certainly am adamantly opposed to boycotting Israeli products . . . Israel is a very important ally of America. We shouldn’t forget that.”
Me, I'm just wondering when this pointless exercise in leftier-than-thou will be over so the good people of the Co-Op can go back to back to, as one member told the Times, "just want[ing] really good dried fruit.”
A couple years ago I wrote about certain forces (and interests in this city that had placed a bull’s-eye on Congresswoman Yvette Clarke’s back. I got the usual suspects to call in (and e-mail) saying I am too focused on the political gossip of Brooklyn. I wasn’t kidding. In fact I have written a few times now that that Yvette Clarke was in some people’s gunfights. I even elaborated on some of the speculative reasons why this was happening.
I went further to say that Councilmember Darlene Mealy was one of the possible (female) challengers to Yvette in 2012. I also speculated (to many) that David Yassky would re-emerge to challenge Yvette after the lines were redrawn. After all, the district had to pick up some new voters (mainly white), and he did do well in his 2006 challenge -coming in second in a field of four. read more »
Every ten years in the good old USA (United States of Amnesia), you can expect a big political fight over reapportionment. That’s when the lines for legislative districts are redrawn based on population growth (or decrease) and demographic shifts. This usually happens after the constitutionally mandated nationwide census-count.
You would think that after roughly 23 census-counts, we in this country would have found -by now- a less contentious way of dealing with the reapportionment/redistricting process; but no. As time goes by, it seems to get worse. And with self-destructive, self-centered, self-absorbed narcissists (selfish elected- officials) dominating the process, what do you really expect? read more »
As Michael has written a couple of times, there is a movement (far from new, but getting more attention this year) that is trying to get the Park Slope Food Co-op to boycott all products from Israel. This presumably would include products like those from Meditalia whose main focus is promoting peace, supporting moderates on all sides, and creating markets for Israeli, Palestinian, Turkish and Egyptian goods. These products are available at the Park Slope Food Co-op and would be included in this boycott:
MEDITALIA™ Tapenades and Pestos are produced in Israel through cooperation between Israelis, Arabs and other neighbours. The olives are grown in Palestinian villages, the glass jars are made in Egypt, and the sun-dried tomatoes come from Turkey.
PeaceWorks believes that personal contact between these groups will shatter cultural stereotypes and help people live together peacefully. Five percent of the profits from MEDITALIA™ Pestos and Tapenades go to support the PeaceWorks Foundation to foster peaceful co-existence in the world.
So Meditalia products are worth boycotting, but the many, many items sold at the Co-op from China or Lebanon are okey dokey. That is the message being sent.
My beef with the whole so-called "BDS" movement is that it boils down NOT to a push for human rights but to hatred for Israel. Here I can speak only for how it is being applied at the Park Slope Food Co-op because here ONLY Israel is being targeted. And yet China has a MUCH worse human rights record and I have seen no organized movement to boycott products from China. Turkey, Thailand, and Lebanon are certainly no better than Israel and may well be worse, yet no one talks about their human rights records. All of these nations are represented on the shelves of the Co-op with hardly ANY mention of their human rights records. Yet Israel takes up hours of time at the General Meetings, pages and pages of letters in the Co-op newsletter, and many trees' worth of flyers handed out by the pro- and anti-sides of the debate.
Why? Why ONLY Israel? Is somehow Israel worse than China or Turkey? I think by any objective standard Israel is BETTER than China and perhaps equal to Turkey. Kurds and Armenians may think Turkey should be boycotted rather than Israel.
The Co-op is one of the most diverse communities I have seen in America. Though Park Slope is in many ways the poster child community for white privilege and arrogance, the Co-op draws from all over NYC and beyond. Hassids rub shoulders with blacks and South Asians as well as hippies and yuppies. Food Stamps are accepted regularly. They offer child care. Everyone has to work, no one can buy out of the work requirement. It is about as close as I have seen to an equal while still very multicultural society.
To divide this issue over ONE nation is stupid.
Boycotts are important and I would even be open to a boycott that included Israel if it was unbiased and fair rather than singling out one nation. There really IS a way to do this and the Food Co-op is one place where it could be done right if that is really what people want.
Decide on a set of criteria that would trigger a boycott. Do so without bias towards or against any particular nation or ethnic group. Then apply those criteria to products from all nations. This would mean if the Co-op boycotts Israel for its human rights record, it would also be boycotting China, Lebanon, Turkey, Thailand, etc. There would be no hypocrisy, no apparent anti-Semitism, no bias, merely a consistent policy.
No one advocates this. They only single out Israel and in so doing split an otherwise amazingly diverse community where all members are about as close to equal as I think you can get. Perhaps such a fair and unbiased policy would rule out too many products. In which case the idea of a boycott based on the human rights record of a nation's government has to be either narrowed (in which case I doubt Israel would be included) or abandoned.
Boycotts of individual companies based on company policy seem completely different. But to boycott a company like Meditalia over the policies of Netanyahu makes no sense unless you apply the criteria of the boycott to all nations, not just Israel.
If the BDS movement pushed for a fair, unbiased and consistent boycott, I might agree with them. But they don't. They single out ONE nation and that one not even the one with the worst human rights record and that leads me to wonder why.
There is a special election in Brooklyn March 20th to replace the disgraced and disgraceful Carl Kruger.
This election pits moderate Democrat Lew Fidler against right wing extremist teabagger David Storobin. I highly recommend checking out Fidler's website, giving a contribution, and/or volunteering to help his campaign. His teabagger opponent has been very sympathetic to, of all things, an Afrikaner separatist movement and his writings have been picked up by sites like Stormfront. Believe me, we can't let a Republican extremist win this seat.
And if you live in the district, VOTE LEW FIDLER MARCH 20th.
More detailed info follows. read more »
State Senator Diane Savino gives another great speech: (from Politics on the Hudson)
Now if we can only get Lew Fidler into the State Senate we will have two firebrands to stand up to the Republicans.
It's unavoidable, I suppose, but Republicans feel the need to run someone for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Kirsten Gillibrand. They have to obstacles to overcome, aside from the fact that New York is a blue state and getting bluer, or that 2012 happens to be a Presidential year when every Democrat with a pulse can be expected at the polls.
These obstacles are, simply put, that they have a bench as deep and distinguished as those in the worn-out subway cars we use to build artificial reefs offshore, and that the bench they do have is comprised of neanderthals. Horse Porn Paladino, anyone?
Enter Wendy Long. Per City and State, she has a problem with that whole icky gay marriage thing; because conservatives oppose marriage and the stability it brings to a society, which used to be a conservative value back before they decided to go nuts. read more »
I would like to highlight a critical special election that can help make a State Senate seat more progressive. Those of you who know Albany KNOW that we need better State Senators. The recent disgrace of Karl Kruger has opened up a Brooklyn State Senate seat to a special election March 20th. It pits a relatively progressive Democrat against a batshit crazy teabagger with white supremacist sympathies. The Democrat is Councilman Lew Fidler who I know personally. He comes from a conservative district but manages to take relatively progressive stands and his conservative constituents accept it because they like him. I have written about Lew before and I highly recommend checking out his website, giving a contribution, and/or volunteering to help his campaign.
His teabagger opponent has been very sympathetic to, of all things, an Afrikaner separatist movement and his writings have been picked up by sites like Stormfront. He also has been very pro-Vladamir Putin. Much of this has been well documented and covered by Gatemouth over at Room 8.
Lew Fidler is well respected in the community, but some of the religious Jewish community is again trying to push for the Republican (against their own self interest, I might add!) because Lew Fidler has been sympathetic to marriage equality. It was this same kind of intolerance by religious Jews that helped lose a Congressional seat to a teabagger last year. Yet countering this crazy intolerance by religious Jews is an anger among the Russian community (which leans towards the Republican) over Republican redistricting efforts screwing over the Russian community in Brooklyn. At least one block of Russian voters is pushing for Fidler because of the Republican attempt to destroy the Russian vote in Brooklyn.
Believe me, we can't let a Republican extremist win this seat. Please give Lew Fidler a hand and if you live in the district (SD-27) please vote for Lew Fidler, the sane and responsible candidate over the Republican teabagger.
A very disturbing bit of news from Occupy wall Street:
The Manhattan District Attorney (Cyrus Vance) has subpoenaed the Twitter account of Occupy activist Jeff Rae. This comes not long after Malcolm Harris received one as well. Yesterday, this news hit the blogosphere with a bang as BoingBoing spread the word, and the New York Times reported on complaints by many other Occupy activists regarding heavy handed NYPD surveillance.
Now, Twitter can be many things; personally, I think it's the entry drug into the social media black hole. My Twitter account - here you go, @MichaelBouldin, just in case the D.A. is interested - is linked to my iPhone, and in consequence, said little gadget beeps without ceasing.
And that's all very well and good, because nobody is trying to subpoena me. At this writing, though, I find myself considering whether or not that next tweet might come back to haunt me. Which to me seems like the classic, and likely intended, chilling effect this kind of heavy-handed fishing expedition is known to have.
But we are still a democracy, the Manhattan D.A. is an elected official, so allow me to suggest you give him a holler. Right here.
This month's Central Brooklyn Eating Liberally meeting will be March
13, 7 PM at the Haitian restaurant Kombit in Prospect Heights.
279 Flatbush Avenue
Between St.Marks Place & Prospect Place
Great Akra, Griot and Tasso, not to mention a very nice sweet potato
This month we have a special election for State Senate to discuss, and
a local district leader race as well as next year's mayoral race.
There is also a voter registration effort in Pennsylvania organized by
some Brooklyn friends. And of course Republican primary madness.
Hope to see you there
This effort has been an ongoing one run by two friends of mine. I honestly feel like they have made a real difference in several elections and I encourage everyone who can to participate:
Voter Registration Trip to Pennsylvania
Saturday, March 17th, 8:30 am
Departing Port Authority Bus Station, NYC
Please join me Saturday, March 17th for a day of registering voters in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. This is a bellwether district in a swing state, and a short bus ride from New York City.
We need your help more than ever. Despite recent encouraging economic news, most analysts still expect a close race in Pennsylvania this year. The Lehigh Valley will be, as always, key to victory. That’s why we’re starting early with a voter registration effort. We continue March 17th with our Get on the Bus trip to Easton, PA to register voters.
We meet at Port Authority Bus Terminal (South Terminal, 8th Ave. btwn 40th & 41st St.), at 8:30 am Saturday morning, March17th. Buses return at 4:05 and 6:10 pm. The ride is about 1 hour 40 minutes. read more »
... at least according to a group of mixed
gay queer/straight/what have you activists who shut the place down this past Saturday.
Yesterday, 150 people occupied the LGBT Center!! Queers Against Israeli Apartheid [sic] and 15 other groups* packed the lobby with chants, signs, speak-outs and a banner drop. Check out photos, video and press coverage.
We protested the Center's horrifying indifference to the queers of color, Arab and Muslim queers, and activist queers whose work got us where we are today -- and who are marginalized by the ban on queer human rights organizing in solidarity with Palestinians.
As is usual with these things, there was a list of organizers and participating groups, a total of fifteen.
Queers for an Open LGBT Center (QFOLC)
alQaws for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society
Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel
Brooklyn for Peace
Jewish Voice for Peace-NY
Jews Say No!
International Action Center
International Socialist Organization
Metropolitan Community Church of New York
New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy (NYAGRA)
Palestinian Queers for BDS
Sylvia Rivera Law Project
Workers World Party
Young, Jewish and Proud
Out of these fifteen, even applying the broadest possible measure, seven - bolded above - were actual LGBT organizations. The rest were not. The Workers World party, for example, is a socialist group with a distinct fondness for North Korea, a régime not especially known for its inclusive policies towards anyone, really, let alone sexual minorities. And while I personally am all for "Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society", that's not really an issue I'd be willing to disrupt the LGBT Center in New York City over. It's a question of relevance.
Here's a hint, folks: if someone, like the Center, tells you you're not welcome, perhaps you'd be best off building your own space. Because from everything I'm hearing, and I hear quite a bit, you didn't really make yourselves any friends this past weekend. Queer, gay, or otherwise. read more »
Since I am in my seventh year blogging in NYC, I am going to introduce a new format shortly, to supplement my “Vines” column (which I hardly do anymore anyway). I will call it “People Are Saying”. It will bring you some choice tidbits of political gossip, from my many wide and varied sources: developed after thirty nine and a half years in NYC politics. I will try to make it a quarterly column. So strap in when you see it show up. I will try to debut said column later this month, or sometime next month. I am still working it out in my head. If you have lively items you believe to be newsworthy then give me a call.
In this column today I will focus on the 11th congressional primary which is about to go down hard. I will eventually get around to the 10th congressional; but that’s some ways away. Expect some surprises in that column folks.
People are saying that Sylvia Kinard’s challenge to congress-woman Yvette Clarke (11th District) is Bill Thompson’s worst nightmare. Why? Well, they say it’s because Bill Thompson is the last person on earth who should want to see his ex-wife challenge Yvette. read more »
I want to present a somewhat biased, but carefully thought out, view of Comptroller John Liu and the accusations against him. I know John Liu personally, though not well. He and my son get along great. He is a brilliant mind and he is one of the few politicians I know who genuinely listens to people and learns from people he talks to. During his City Council years he consistently ranked highest amongst his peers on Human Rights issues. He is solidly pro-union and has stood up to developers one behalf of communities more than most of the mayoral candidates. He is smart, progressive, energetic, and not afraid of taking difficult positions. I like him and I think he would make an excellent mayor. One of our best.
He is being accused of violating campaign finance laws. As a reformer I very much support a full investigation into these accusations. I do not intend to be an apologist if the accusations prove to have merit.
But I also look at these accusations in the context of what I know and have experienced about John Liu and also in the context of NYC politics in general. First off, I look at the accusations against John Liu in the context of the scandals that Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio have been mired in. Both have, shall we say, very creatively shuffled money and have gotten huge quantities of developer money, clearly in exchange for the very pro-development, largely anti-community stands they take. In the context of NYC politics, what John Liu is accused of is minor compared with the slime surrounding Bill de Blasio and Christine Quinn. In my mind if Liu is taken down by these accusations it is unfair if de Blasio and Quinn aren't put through just as much scrutiny and are held equally accountable for their scandals. So far that has not been the case. The media seems to be far easier on Quinn and de Blasio than they are on Liu. read more »
I am not Country Music fan. But I have to say it amazes me that a fundamentally working class genre has been hijacked by the right wing. Look back to the prison songs of Johnny Cash and tell me he would have supported Romney, Gingrich or Santorum (I can never fathom Ron Paul supporters, so who knows there).
Over at DKos is a reference to a Loretta Lynn song about contraception that really shows that Country Music is far from a right wing genre but was founded on liberal values almost as much as folk music (a related and cross-pollinating genre). The song, "The Pill" says it all about why the Republican attack on contraception is a fundamentally anti-women and anti-freedom stand (not to mention a way to make sure abortion rates increase):