Archive for the ‘New_York_City’ tag
The police and their insistence upon their own power being ultimate, no matter the legality of the situation, is troubling.
Naomi Wolf, author and political consultant was attending an event sponsored by the Huffington Post, and ended up getting arrested. She reports:
I went up [to the phalanx of NYPD cops] and asked them why [the OWC folks were moved away from the event]. They replied that they had been informed that the Huffington Post event had a permit that forbade them to use the sidewalk. I knew from my investigative reporting on NYC permits that this was impossible: a private entity cannot lease the public sidewalks; even film crews must allow pedestrian traffic. I asked the police for clarification – no response.
I went over to the sidewalk at issue and identified myself as a NYC citizen and a reporter, and asked to see the permit in question or to locate the source on the police or event side that claimed it forbade citizen access to a public sidewalk. Finally a tall man, who seemed to be with the event, confessed that while it did have a permit, the permit did allow for protest so long as we did not block pedestrian passage.
I thanked him, returned to the protesters, and said: “The permit allows us to walk on the other side of the street if we don’t block access. I am now going to walk on the public sidewalk and not block it. It is legal to do so. Please join me if you wish.” My partner and I then returned to the event-side sidewalk and began to walk peacefully arm in arm, while about 30 or 40 people walked with us in single file, not blocking access.
Then a phalanx of perhaps 40 white-shirted senior officers descended out of seemingly nowhere and, with a megaphone (which was supposedly illegal for citizens to use), one said: “You are unlawfully creating a disruption. You are ordered to disperse.” I approached him peacefully, slowly, gently and respectfully and said: “I am confused. I was told that the permit in question allows us to walk if we don’t block pedestrian access and as you see we are complying with the permit.”
He gave me a look of pure hate. “Are you going to back down?” he shouted. I stood, immobilized1, for a moment. “Are you getting out of my way?” I did not even make a conscious decision not to “fall back” – I simply couldn’t even will myself to do so, because I knew that he was not giving a lawful order and that if I stepped aside it would be not because of the law, which I was following, but as a capitulation to sheer force. In that moment’s hesitation, he said, “OK,” gestured, and my partner and I were surrounded by about 20 officers who pulled our hands behind our backs and cuffed us with plastic handcuffs.
(click here to continue reading Naomi Wolf: How I was arrested at Occupy Wall Street | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.)
and this bit is extremely troubling:
Another scary outcome I discovered is that, when the protesters marched to the first precinct, the whole of Erickson Street was cordoned off – “frozen” they were told, “by Homeland Security”. Obviously if DHS now has powers to simply take over a New York City street because of an arrest for peaceable conduct by a middle-aged writer in an evening gown, we have entered a stage of the closing of America, which is a serious departure from our days as a free republic in which municipalities are governed by police forces.
The police are now telling my supporters that the permit in question gave the event managers “control of the sidewalks”. I have asked to see the permit but still haven’t been provided with it – if such a category now exists, I have never heard of it; that, too, is a serious blow to an open civil society. What did I take away? Just that, unfortunately, my partner and I became exhibit A in a process that I have been warning Americans about since 2007: first they come for the “other” – the “terrorist”, the brown person, the Muslim, the outsider; then they come for you – while you are standing on a sidewalk in evening dress, obeying the law.
- sic, UK spelling [↩]
It was a pretty powerful show, I know it moved me, so kudos to Jon Stewart for toning down the slapstick for a few moments. I think it made a real difference.
Did the bill pledging federal funds for the health care of 9/11 responders become law in the waning hours of the 111th Congress only because a comedian took it up as a personal cause? And does that make that comedian, Jon Stewart — despite all his protestations that what he does has nothing to do with journalism — the modern-day equivalent of Edward R. Murrow?
Certainly many supporters, including New York’s two senators, as well as Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, played critical roles in turning around what looked like a hopeless situation after a filibuster by Republican senators on Dec. 10 seemed to derail the bill.
But some of those who stand to benefit from the bill have no doubt about what — and who — turned the momentum around.
“I don’t even know if there was a deal, to be honest with you, before his show,” said Kenny Specht, the founder of the New York City Firefighter Brotherhood Foundation, who was interviewed by Mr. Stewart on Dec. 16.
That show was devoted to the bill and the comedian’s effort to right what he called “an outrageous abdication of our responsibility to those who were most heroic on 9/11.”
(click to continue reading Jon Stewart’s Advocacy Role in 9/11 Bill Passage – NYTimes.com.)
The footage is at DailyShow.com, here if you hadn’t yet seen it.
One objection the Rethuglicans have to the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act is of funding. Faux deficit hawks like Tom Coburn want the costs of the bill to be paid for by reducing a social service, or gutting EPA, or something along those lines. Senators Gillibrand and Schumer proposed instead:
Summary of New Offsets for 9-11 Health Care Act (HR 847) In the substitute amendment planned for HR 847, three offsets will replace the House-passed bill’s “treaty swapping” provision. The offsets, described below, contain no new taxes or fees on the American taxpayers or American businesses. Furthermore, the substitute amendment is estimated to reduce the deficit by $57 million over 10 years.
1. Savings Generated by Reducing Future U.S. Government Procurement Payments by 2 Percent to Companies Located in non-GPA countries ($4.59 billion over 10 years) Every year, the United States spends between $35 billion to $40 billion per year on procurement of goods and services from foreign manufacturers and companies located abroad in countries that are not members of the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) instead of from American companies.
The 9/11 rescue worker bill would impose a 2 percent excise fee on foreign manufacturers/companies located in non-GPA countries receiving government disbursements made pursuant to future procurement agreements. This proposal would both legally and practically operate to prohibit companies from raising their prices to offset the new fee. Imposing this new fee will create short-term and long-term savings. In the short term, savings will materialize from competitive foreign contracts as companies offering substitute products and substitute processes will agree to digest all or some portion of the 2 percent fee decrease to attract/maintain lucrative U.S. procurement business. In the long term, foreign countries will be incentivized to sign the GPA and the U.S. will be incentivized to look to domestic sources to fill procurement needs.
Even though the cost of procurement to the U.S. Government might initially increase when we purchase U.S. goods and services, net revenues to the government will increase when U.S. employees and U.S. companies pay taxes on the procurement contracts they receive (as opposed to foreign companies and employees receiving these contracts who pay less/no taxes).
2. Continuation of H-1B and L-1 Visa Fee for Outsourcing Companies ($800 million over 10 years) As part of the Emergency Border Security Appropriations Act of 2010, which passed the Senate unanimously in August 2010, fees were raised on H-1B and L-1 visas for companies who have more than 50 percent of their employees on these visas (this affects outsourcing companies such as: Wipro, Tata, Infosys, Satyam—but does not affect American companies such as: Microsoft, Oracle, Intel, Apple, etc). This fee was set to expire on September 30, 2014. This bill will extend this fee until September 30, 2021 to continue leveling the playing field between companies that follow the Congressional intent behind these visa programs and companies that use these visas to outsource American jobs.
3. Continuation of Travel Promotion Fee ($1 billion over 10 years) The Travel Promotion Act, which passed the Senate 78-18 in 2010, placed a small travel promotion act fee on certain travelers to the United States that was set to expire in 2015. This fee will simply be extended until 2021 and sunsets at that point.
(click to continue reading Gillibrand, Schumer: New Momentum For 9/11 Health Bill | WKBW News 7: News, Sports, Weather | Buffalo, NY | Local.)
Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn will not allow a proposal that would cover health-care costs for Ground Zero workers to go through the Senate before Christmas, a Coburn aide told Washington Wire this morning.
Mr. Coburn wants the package to be funded through spending cuts, the aide said. He and others in his party have questioned whether the money would overlap with workers’ compensation and other aid provided to Sept. 11 first responders. Mr. Coburn told Politico he wants the measure to work its way through committee rather than being fast-tracked, which would make it tough for senators to finish their work in the next few days.
I don’t understand why this particular Senate GOP obstructionism over the Zadroga bill isn’t a bigger story. Isn’t 9/11 part of the conservative mantra? Why the media silence? Crumbles in the stone wall of silence, but this outrageous stance should be on front pages of newspapers everywhere, and lead story on all the television news too. The House passed the bill a while ago, but the GOP is still fighting against it.
With Senate Democrats upping the pressure for passage of the bill giving health benefits to sickened 9/11 responders, it’s going to get increasingly hard for GOP Senators to maintain their opposition. That’s because even right-leaning commentators and political operatives are growing mighty uncomfortable with the Senate GOP’s stance.
Case in point: This morning Joe Scarborough ripped into GOP opponents of passing the bill, which is called the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. He said Republicans were taking a big risk, and the crucial point Scarborough made is that this should be a national issue, not a New York one:
“Why wouldn’t we take care of their health care? It’s just like taking care of veterans’ health care,” Scarborough wondered aloud. “It can’t be a good move for Republicans to oppose a bill for the firefighters and the cops on 9/11.” “How did this become a New York issue?” Scarborough continued. “That is like Pearl Harbor becoming a Hawaii issue in 1951. It’s ridiculous.” Senator Jon Kyl and other GOP Senators don’t appear moved by such entreaties. Over the weekend he took a break from obstructing the New START treaty in order to express concerns about the costs of the 9/11 bill, calling for more time.
(click to continue reading The Plum Line – Conservatives growing uncomfortable with GOP blockade of 9/11 health bill.)
Wonder if Jon Stewart’s one man campaign is having any effect? Video segment here (if you can get it to load, I had trouble)
Thursday’s “Daily Show” was the last episode of the year for the news comedy show, yet there were very little laughs. Instead it focused on a devastating interview with four of the 9/11 first responders. Kenny Speck, Chris Bauman, Ken George and John Devlin epitomize New York tough-guy firefighters, emergency workers and police officers, and all suffer from severe diseases and injuries as a result of the work they did in the first days after the terrorist attack on lower Manhattan.
It was the latest in a series of attacks Stewart has launched on the Republicans for blocking a bill to fund health care for 9/11 first responders. He also has been scathing of the scant network coverage of the bill.
Republicans have said they will block the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act until the Bush tax breaks were extended. Now that the tax cut bill has been approved and will likely be signed into law, it remains to be seen if the Republicans will stop stalling on a vote for the Zadroga bill.
(click to continue reading BlogPost – Jon Stewart’s campaign for the Zadroga bill (Video).)
Frank Rich has a good overview of the laughably transparent manufactured outrage the Rethuglicans are spewing over the creation of an Islamic prayer center in lower Manhattan. A few choice paragraphs:
These patriots have never attacked the routine Muslim worship services at another site of the 9/11 attacks, the Pentagon. Their sudden concern for ground zero is suspect to those of us who actually live in New York. All but 12 Republicans in the House voted against health benefits for 9/11 responders just last month. Though many of these ground-zero watchdogs partied at the 2004 G.O.P. convention in New York exploiting 9/11, none of them protested that a fellow Republican, the former New York governor George Pataki, so bollixed up the management of the World Trade Center site that nine years on it still lacks any finished buildings, let alone a permanent memorial.
The Fox patron saint Sarah Palin calls Park51 a “stab in the heart” of Americans who “still have that lingering pain from 9/11.” But her only previous engagement with the 9/11 site was when she used it as a political backdrop for taking her first questions from reporters nearly a month after being named to the G.O.P. ticket. (She was so eager to grab her ground zero photo op that she defied John McCain’s just-announced “suspension” of their campaign.) Her disingenuous piety has been topped only by Bernie Kerik, who smuggled a Twitter message out of prison to register his rage at the ground zero desecration. As my colleague Clyde Haberman reminded us, such was Kerik’s previous reverence for the burial ground of 9/11 that he appropriated an apartment overlooking the site (and designated for recovery workers) for an extramarital affair.
At the Islamophobia command center, Murdoch’s News Corporation, the hypocrisy is, if anything, thicker. A recent Wall Street Journal editorial darkly cited unspecified “reports” that Park51 has “money coming from Saudi charities or Gulf princes that also fund Wahabi madrassas.” As Jon Stewart observed, this brand of innuendo could also be applied to News Corp., whose second largest shareholder after the Murdoch family is a member of the Saudi royal family. Perhaps last week’s revelation that News Corp. has poured $1 million into G.O.P. campaign coffers was a fiendishly clever smokescreen to deflect anyone from following the far greater sum of Saudi money (a $3 billion stake) that has flowed into Murdoch enterprises, or the News Corp. money (at least $70 million) recently invested in a Saudi media company.
…After 9/11, President Bush praised Islam as a religion of peace and asked for tolerance for Muslims not necessarily because he was a humanitarian or knew much about Islam but because national security demanded it. An America at war with Islam plays right into Al Qaeda’s recruitment spiel. This month’s incessant and indiscriminate orgy of Muslim-bashing is a national security disaster for that reason — Osama bin Laden’s “next video script has just written itself,” as the former F.B.I. terrorist interrogator Ali Soufan put it — but not just for that reason. America’s Muslim partners, those our troops are fighting and dying for, are collateral damage. If the cleric behind Park51 — a man who has participated in events with Condoleezza Rice and Karen Hughes, for heaven’s sake — is labeled a closet terrorist sympathizer and a Nazi by some of the loudest and most powerful conservative voices in America, which Muslims are not?
(click to continue reading Frank Rich – How Fox Betrayed Petraeus – NYTimes.com.)
The GOP and their ally, the Christian Taliban, will not stop until America overturns the Constitution and Bill of Rights America was founded on, and the GOP has the right to crucify the non-believers. Why don’t they leave and start their own country somewhere far far away since they hate the US so much?
And as Frank Rich explains, kind of hard to “win hearts and minds” in Iraq and Afghanistan when the GOP wants to strip Muslims of religious freedoms here.
Poor General Petraeus. Over the last week he has been ubiquitous in the major newspapersand on television as he pursues a publicity tour to pitch the war he’s inherited. But have you heard any buzz about what he had to say? Any debate? Any anything? No one was listening and no one cared. Everyone was too busy yelling about the mosque.
It’s poignant, really. Even as America’s most venerable soldier returned from the front to valiantly assume the role of Willy Loman, the product he was selling was being discredited and discontinued by his own self-proclaimed allies at home.