Published: Tuesday 25 December 2012
It was clear the President was a good man and a deeply-committed father of young children.

 

The tendency to identify manhood with a capacity
for physical violence has a long history in America.

- Marshall Fishwick

Violence is as American as cherry pie.
- H. Rap Brown
 
Watching President Barack Obama wipe away a tear as he spoke to the nation on the day a 20-year-old Adam Lanza dressed himself up like a Navy SEAL and took out 20 little kids and six of their teachers, it was clear the President was a good man and a deeply-committed father of young children.

The same day, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg noted the President’s touching emotions but quickly stressed it was time to strike hard and fast on gun control legislation. The problem of violence in America had gone unaddressed for decades and weapons were becoming more accessible and more lethal.

Meanwhile, Dan Rather told Rachel Maddow he felt President Obama returned to his first term M.O. and caved in to the right on the Susan Rice nomination for Secretary of State. Rather felt the President didn’t like to initiate fights and that when they came or were on the horizon, his first move, before the fight even began, was to concede and seek a centrist compromise.

 

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Published: Friday 9 November 2012
Published: Thursday 8 November 2012
“As this storm has shown, those who will bear the brunt of extreme weather in the future will be those who are already struggling to survive. ”

On Tuesday morning, as New Yorkers were beginning to vote, 60 polling stations had been either destroyed or turned into emergency shelters. Above the same waters that had flooded many of the city’s coastal neighborhoods a week before, I and other Occupy movement activists hung a banner at the midpoint of the Manhattan Bridge. With the intention of drawing a line between the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy and fossil fuels, it said, “Got climate change blues? Fuhgeddabout fossil fuels!”

Six days earlier, on Halloween night, I pedaled past that same spot. Everything below 39th Street, with the exception of the Empire State Building, was dark. Locals took to referring to Lower Manhattan as the “dead zone.” Areas of the city like Red Hook, Rockaway and Staten Island had been inundated with floodwaters and scarred by electrical fires. Public transit was completely shut down, and fuel scarce. People had taken to riding bicycles, for more reasons than one. In Brooklyn, for instance, the direct action bike troop Times Up! set up a bicycle generator — the same one used to power Zuccotti Park last fall — to help Manhattan refugees streaming over the Williamsburg Bridge power their cellphones and call their loved ones.

This was just one tiny facet of a massive do-it-yourself relief effort that New Yorkers have mounted after the storm. It’s also one of many attempts to show that this storm and the suffering it has caused are intimately related to the business that the dark towers of Lower Manhattan symbolize.

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Published: Tuesday 23 October 2012
The same forces that have initiated this process in Louisiana are hard at work implementing their agenda elsewhere, and they have nearly unlimited resources at their disposal.

Last fall, a coterie of extremely wealthy billionaires, among them New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, turned the races for unpaid positions on the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) into some of the most expensive in the state’s history. Seven pro-education “reform” candidates for the BESE outraised eight candidates endorsed by the teacher’s unions by $2,386,768 to $199,878, a ratio of nearly twelve to one. In just one of these races, the executive director of Teach for America Greater New Orleans-Louisiana Delta, Kira Orange Jones, outspent attorney Louella Givens, who was endorsed by the state’s main teacher’s unions, by more than thirty-four to one: $472,382 to $13,815.

To support Orange Jones’s campaign against Givens, Eli Broad, billionaire head of the education reform organization the Broad Foundation and a major trainer and placer of school superintendents, chipped in $5,000. Reed Hastings of Netflix kicked in the same. Houston energy hedge fund billionaire John Arnold and his wife Laura gave a total of $10,000, as did Walmart heiress Carrie Walton Penner and her husband Greg. New York ...

Published: Saturday 7 July 2012
Published: Friday 15 June 2012
For reference, according to the Census Bureau, there were about only 300,000 black men between the ages of 13 and 34 living in the city that year.

 

Last week there was much rejoicing when Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, flanked by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, came out in support of ending the practice of arresting individuals for possessing small amounts of marijuana in public view.

The details here are very important. These arrests come in consequence of stop-and-frisk police powers — used across the country — otherwise known as a Terry stop (OK'd by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1968) under which a cop may briefly detain a person upon reasonable suspicion of involvement in a crime but short of probable cause to arrest. When a search for weapons is also authorized, the procedure is known as a stop-and-frisk.

In the Bloomberg years in New York City, stop-and-frisks have gone through the roof. In 2002, when Bloomberg had only just stepped into the Mayor's office, 97,296 New Yorkers were stopped by the police under stop and frisk. Out of those, 80,176 were totally innocent, 82 percent.

By 2009, 581,168 New Yorkers were stopped by the police. Of those, 510,742 were totally innocent; 310,611 were black, 55 percent; ?180,055 were Latino, 32 percent; ?53,601 were white, 10 percent; ?289,602 were aged 14-24, 50 percent. For reference, according to the Census Bureau, there were about only 300,000 black men between the ages of 13 and 34 living in the city that year.

In 2011, the police stopped 685,724 New Yorkers. ?Of those, 605,328 were totally innocent, 88 percent; ?350,743 were black, 53 percent; ?223,740 were Latino, 34 percent; ?61,805 were white, 9 percent; ?341,581 were aged 14-24, 51 percent).

There are continued protests about New York City's racist application of an already essentially racist law. Last week the New York Civil Liberties Union unveiled "Stop and Frisk Watch" — a free and innovative smartphone application that will enable New Yorkers to monitor police activity and hold the New York ...

Published: Sunday 27 May 2012
“New York City Police Department did not violate state laws when they conducted extensive surveillance of Muslim communities with help from the CIA.”

A three-month review by New Jersey’s attorney general has concluded the New York City Police Department did not violate state laws when they conducted extensive surveillance of Muslim communities with help from the CIA. The review’s finding means Muslims will have no recourse to state law to prevent the NYPD from monitoring and cataloging their daily life. The decision has angered Muslim groups who were seeking an end to the intrastate police operations and surveillance throughout the Northeast. We get reaction from Gadeir Abbas, staff attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

 

Transcript

AARON MATÉ: A three-month ...

Published: Wednesday 16 May 2012
“The laws were supported and pushed by activists from the 99 Percent Movement and religious groups who have led campaigns to move money from the nation’s largest banks.”

City councils in the nation’s two largest cities have approved laws aimed at forcing banks to invest more in their local communities. The Los Angeles city council unanimously passed its “responsible banking” ordinance yesterday afternoon; the New York’s city council passed its own shortly after by a vote of 44-4.

The laws were supported and pushed by activists from the 99 Percent Movement and religious groups who have led campaigns to move money from the nation’s largest banks. The ordinances give preference for city contracts to banks that make the most substantial investments in the local community through small business loans, home loans, foreclosure prevention, and other programs, according to the PICO National Network, a coalition of religious organizations that pushed for the Los Angeles ordinance:

The New York City ordinance would require banks to provide information on reinvestment activities, including foreclosure and loan modification information, that would be used to evaluate the banks that want to hold city deposits. The Los Angeles ordinance will gather data on banks’ participation in foreclosure prevention and home loan principal reduction programs, as well as other community reinvestment information.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is likely to veto his city’s ordinance, another poke at 99 Percent Movement activists who have butted heads with him over the last eight months. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is expected to sign his city’s version into law.

Cleveland became the first major city to adopt a responsible banking ordinance in 1991, and they have spread quickly since the 99 Percent ...

Published: Thursday 1 March 2012
Students across the country are staging a national day of action to defend public education and the push to preserve quality public education amidst new efforts to privatize schools and rate teachers based on test scores.

As students across the country stage a national day of action to defend public education, we look at the nation’s largest school systems — Chicago and New York City — and the push to preserve quality public education amidst new efforts to privatize schools and rate teachers based on test scores. In Chicago, the city’s unelected school board voted last week to shut down seven schools and fire all of the teachers at 10 other schools. In New York City, many educators are criticizing Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration after the release of the names of 18,000 city teachers, along with a ranking system that claims to quantify each teacher’s impact on the reading and math scores of their pupils on statewide tests. "The danger is that if teachers and schools are held accountable just for relatively narrow measures of what it is students are doing in class, that will become what drives the education system," says Columbia University’s Aaron Pallas, who studies the efficiency of teacher-evaluation systems. "The effects of school closings in [New York City] is one of the great untold stories today," says Democracy Now! education correspondent Jaisal Noor. "The bedrock of these communities [has been] neighborhood schools and now they’re being destroyed." Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union says, "When you have a CEO in charge of a school system as opposed to a superintendent — a real educator — what ends up happening is that they literally have no ...

Published: Tuesday 13 December 2011
Last Friday, Solar One and city officials announced the launch of a public school-wide competition that will award a total of $30,000 to schools that can achieve the most energy savings by next April.

At M.S. 88 in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, hundreds of school children – most of them from sixth to eighth grade – poured into the auditorium on Friday morning. Their lesson for the day: saving energy.

“Turning the lights off is an important step,” said Kristin Compton, a pony-tailed 11-year-old girl, who sounded nervous as she spoke on the stage before the crowd. Her science teacher and three fellow students stood beside her.

“I unplug the computers before leaving the classroom,” said Angel Aguilar. With sense of pride in his voice, the 13-year-old added that he does the same thing at home after using his video games.

And when the school principal on a microphone asked who cares about saving energy and helping the environment, almost all the kids raised their hands in unison. The noise escalated in the auditorium.

These kids were among those taking part in a pilot program that facilitates the greening of their schools and communities. There are 30 participating public schools, including M.S. 88, across the city.

Led by Solar One, a nonprofit environmental education organization, in partnership with the Department of Education, the program – the Green Design Lab – aims to help Mayor Michael Bloomberg achieve his goal of cutting energy consumption in city buildings by about a third by 2017.

New York City has more than 1 million students in its public school system, housed in 1,200 buildings. Schools account for a quarter of the city’s energy use.

Last Friday, Solar One and city officials announced the launch of a public school-wide competition that will award a total of $30,000 to schools that can achieve the most energy savings by next April.

“You’re not just helping your school, but also your neighborhood,” said New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, adding that it’s powerful when young people can tell their parents and older ...

Published: Saturday 26 November 2011
“Books in the Occupy Library were literally treated like garbage. Their owners were finally allowed to reclaim their shredded remains - at the Sanitation Department.”

Fahrenheit 451: The temperature at which book paper catches fire and burns.

They're back.

But then, they've never gone away. The Book Killers have always been with us. Before recorded history they were with us, murdering the scholars and storytellers and mystics of every tribe they ever conquered.

They were there when Great Library burned in Alexandria 2,000 years ago. They destroyed the library known as the House of Wisdom when the Mongol Empire invaded Baghdad in 1258. They say the invaders took the books from every ruined library in Baghdad and piled them into the Tigris River, to serve as a bridge for their soldiers and chariots.

They say the river ran black with ink for ...

Published: Monday 21 November 2011
“This week Bloomberg and Brookfield have used the park’s semi-private status as an excuse to invade a public space with a private security force.”

As Mayor Bloomberg's forces swooped down on Occupy Wall Street, news reports described the "hundreds of police and private security guards" who had re-taken Zuccotti Park. Those private guards were used against public citizens who had been exercising their civil liberties in a public area.

That's not just wrong. It's un-American.

This incident holds an important lesson for anyone who loves our freedoms: When something public is made private, our liberties are privatized too. And privatized liberty isn't liberty at all.

Privatizing Liberty

Zuccotti Park. New Yorkers knew it as Liberty Plaza Park for nearly half a century. Like other ...

Published: Monday 21 November 2011
“Occupy Wall Street has already won its first victory its own way - in Ohio, when voters repealed Republican governor John Kasich’s law to slash bargaining rights for 350,000 public workers and gut what remained of organized labor’s political power.”

No headlines announced it. No TV pundits called it. But on the evening of November 8th, Occupy Wall Street, the populist uprising built on economic justice and corruption-free politics that’s spread like a lit match hitting a trail of gasoline, notched its first major political victory, and in the unlikeliest of places: Ohio.

You might have missed OWS's win amid the recent wave of Occupy crackdowns. Police raided Occupy Denver, Occupy Salt Lake City, Occupy Oakland, Occupy Portland, and Occupy Seattle in a five-day span. Hundreds were arrested. And then, in the early morning hours on Tuesday, New York City police descended on Occupy Wall Street itself, fists flying and riot shields at the ready, with orders from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to evict the protesters. Later that day, a judge ruled that they couldn't rebuild their young community, dealing a blow to the Occupy protest that inspired them all.

Instead of simply condemning the eviction, many pundits and columnists

Published: Wednesday 16 November 2011
Bloomberg’s rhetorical concern for the health and safety of protestors appeared to stand in stark contrast to the aggressive actions taken by police.

After two months of holding New York City's Zuccotti Park despite repeated threats of eviction, Occupy Wall Street (OWS) activists were forcibly removed from the site by hundreds of police in riot gear early Tuesday morning.

OWS media teams managed to send out alerts via text and email, but by 1:00 a.m. police moved into the park, which had been occupied by protestors since Sep. 17, to clear it out for a "cleaning".

Police say protestors will be allowed to return, but without any of their equipment, sleeping bags or tents. The move was widely seen by organizers as a permanent eviction.

Reinforcements of protestors arrived by the hundreds to defend the park, but by the time they arrived police had barricaded all of the streets leading to Zuccotti Park, and shut down subways stops nearby. Unable to get in, large groups of protestors massed on street corners, and sometimes in streets, both north and south of the park.

Media crews were not allowed into the park during the raid, and the NYPD prevented news helicopters from entering the airspace over downtown New York. Reports of arrests and violence vary, but both in and around the park police appeared to favor force over arrests.

Pepper spray was widely used on protestors in the park as well as those demonstrating in solidarity on surrounding streets.

"We were on the sidewalk, on public space, standing in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the park when we were pepper sprayed," said John Cronan, a member of the Restaurant Opportunity Center and an OWS protestor.

"We were running half blind down the street, holding each other's hands, until someone got us to a convenience store where we were able to wash it out," he said, adding, "It really shows you who's side the police are on – the side of the one percent."

Inside the park police manage to move many protestors out without force, while around 100 ...

Published: Sunday 16 October 2011
“What was it like to be in Zuccotti Park in the hours before the owners' planned eviction of protesters?”

Editor's note: Click here to view NationofChange's original video coverage of this event.

There was a brightness in the pre-dawn air as thousands of us gathered in Liberty Plaza, (or Zuccotti Park, in its owners’ language) to prevent the group that had camped there since September 17th as part of the Occupy Wall Street protest from being evicted.

On Monday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated that demonstrators could remain in the park indefinitely, but late on Wednesday night he had stopped by the encampment to announce that Brookfield Financial Properties, the owners of Zuccotti Park, wanted the area cleared for cleaning at 7 a.m. on Friday, October 14. After the cleaning, protesters would be allowed back into the park—but without their tarps, sleeping bags, or personal belongings. That same night, a rather pointed notice appeared on the wall next to Brookfield’s contact information designating the park for “passive recreation” and prohibiting, among other things, “lying down on the ground, or lying down on benches, sitting areas or walkways when it unreasonably interferes with the use of benches, sitting areas, or walkways to others.” It was clearly an attempt to end the occupation.

Occupiers responded with a community effort to make the park so ...

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