Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Public Education Might Lead to Further Gaps in Teen Understanding of Sexuality

sex ed graphic.jpg

By Kristina Davie

With the government’s renewal of abstinence-focused education programs in schools, readily available and unbiased information regarding healthy sexuality might be in short supply for teens. This legislation allocates $50 million to schools over the next five years that adopt this federally-approved curriculum. However, many have found this renewal of funding unwarranted, pointing out that no conclusive results showing this education’s value have been found. These evidence-based groups fear this funding might even encourage schools to intentionally mislead or omit information about sex. However, failing to address this topic simply disregards students that are sexually when they are the ones who need that information the most.

However, the gaps in sex knowledge don’t stop there for young Americans between the ages of 18 and 29. Although most of these young adults agree that pregnancy should be planned, a study done by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found about half fail to use contraceptives regularly. Opponents of this abstinence-focused education point towards the misconceptions that might be purposely pushed on teens for these disturbing trends.

Fearing that open discussion of contraception will validate premarital sex, schools instead choose not to acknowledge these products or their concerns. Unfortunately, without discussing these methods of pregnancy prevention, teens also never learn about their proper use or limitations. Oral contraceptives, the most popular method of birth control today, is an especially important topic teens need to learn about to ensure their safety.

As a result of this refusal to discuss these products in school, teens might assume oral contraceptives actually prevent the spread of disease, as well as pregnancy. Unfortunately, heavy marketing by pharmaceutical manufacturers might lead to this misunderstanding regarding their products. Bayer HealthCare, maker of some of the most popular oral contraceptives, was even cited by the FDA for misleading advertising about their product. Finding the claims that their products act as treatments for several health conditions unproven, the FDA asked the manufacturer to remove the advertisements. However, the damage might have already been done.

When teens and young adults don’t have access to factual information about these products, they also fail to receive vital information about the direct health risks that accompany their use. One recent Yaz lawsuit involves a woman who developed blood clots in her lungs after taking these pills. Other serious side effects of these drugs include cardiovascular risks like heart attack, stroke and pulmonary embolism.

The CDC calls recent sexually transmitted disease trends “a major public health challenge.” The CDC estimates that 19 million new sexually transmitted disease infections occur each year. However, schools continually fail to prepare teens for the risks they face. Worse still, schools might actually contribute to these disturbing trends by aiding in misconceptions regarding sexual activity. While undeniably true that total abstinence is the only way to ensure complete protection against sexually transmitted disease and unwanted pregnancy, it is incredibly naive to believe all young adults will follow this advice. Our government and schools underestimate the effect increasing sexuality in the media has on young adults. In addition, the hormonal surge accompanying adolescence, in addition to peer pressure, makes it likely teens will begin experimenting with physical intimacy, especially if it has the added allure of being a forbidden act. Until our social institutions realize that reckless sexuality is a serious threat that deserves honest discussion, there is no reason to expect these disturbing trends to do anything but worsen.

New York Civil Liberties Union - Join Us

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Crisis Pregnancy Centers & Truth in Advertising: A Discussion

Join us on
Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. in our office at 125 Broad St., 19th floor.

RSVP by emailing discussionseries@nyclu.org
or calling
(212) 607-3371.

Join the discussion series.

Crisis pregnancy centers often look and feel like licensed medical facilities, but they aren't. They're run by anti-abortion activists.

When crisis pregnancy centers mislead about their services, women get hurt.

The New York City Council is currently considering legislation that would require crisis pregnancy centers to fully disclose the scope and limits of their services. The NYCLU is working with key council members to craft a bill that strikes an appropriate balance between the centers’ right to free speech and women’s right to access reproductive health care free of coercion, deception and delay.

As part of the NYCLU’s continuing Civil Liberties Discussion Series, NYCLU Staff Attorney Katharine Bodde will discuss the deceptive practices of crisis pregnancy centers and how New York City can protect both the First Amendment and women's rights to reproductive health care.

Please join us for the discussion on Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. in our offices at 125 Broad St. on the 19th floor. Please be sure to RSVP by emailing discussionseries@nyclu.org or calling 212.607.3358.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

BREAKING: WikiLeaks Releases Diplomatic Bombshell

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Reader Supported News | 28 November 10

It's Live on the HomePage Now:
Reader Supported News

BREAKING: WikiLeaks Releases Diplomatic Bombshell
David Leigh, Guardian UK
A small glimpse of the more than 250,000 secret diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks discloses that Arab leaders are privately urging an air strike on Iran, and that US officials have been instructed to spy on the UN's leadership.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dangerous Outlaw Willie Nelson Detained by Border Patrol

Galindez: "In a major coup for the border patrol's war on drug smuggling on the Mexican border, authorities seized 6 ounces of marijuana and detained notorious pot-smoking outlaw Willie Nelson."

Singer, songwriter, American poet, Willie Nelson, 05/08/08. (photo: Unknown)
Singer, songwriter, American poet, Willie Nelson, 05/08/08.

(photo: Unknown)

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

27 November 10

Reader Supported News | Perspective

n a major coup for the border patrol's war on drug smuggling on the Mexican border, authorities seized 6 ounces of marijuana and detained notorious pot-smoking outlaw Willie Nelson. Nelson was detained after a border patrol officer heroically boarded his tour bus after detecting a pungent scent in the air

US Border Patrol spokesman Bill Brooks said Nelson's tour bus was stopped at a checkpoint in Sierra Blanca, Texas, at about 9 a.m. on Friday. He said an officer smelled pot when a door was opened and a search turned up 6 ounces of marijuana.

Brooks said Nelson was among three people arrested.

Nelson and his crew were reportedly on their way to Austin following a gig in California. The arrest did not take place on the border, but at a checkpoint well inside the United States.

When news of the arrest leaked to Twitter, tweeters were shocked and Nelson shot up to the top of the trending list.

Comedian John Fugelsang pointed out that while Willie Nelson was arrested in Texas for 6 ounces of cannabis, God, who produces it naturally across globe, is still at large.

A popular retweet: "They arrested Willie Nelson for weed?!? That's like arresting Santa for breaking and entering."

Rock guitarist Slash tweeted: "All things considered, Willie Nelson should have a federal issue, no limit marijuana license. End of story."

However, others tweeted that they would be able to sleep better knowing that Nelson is off the streets.

It didn't take long for Sage Francis to start a new "hash" tag: #FreeWilly.

According to multiple media sources Nelson was released after posting bail in the amount of $2,500.

While I mixed in a little satire, the sad thing is that this is a true story. How many of you would have even looked for the pot? I think I would have told Willie to make sure the driver didn't get stoned, and to have a nice day. After I got his autograph of course.

Scott Galindez is the Political Director of Reader Supported News, and the co-founder of Truthout.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

I know this came around before but this is still funny

Willie Nelson

Whether or not you are a country music fan, these are truly the words of a deep thinker, and a highly intelligent person. So simple, yet so profound! Read the words of wisdom from that famous philosopher Willie Nelson, iconic country and western singer, on his 75th birthday below his esteemed portrait. Only a man with such wisdom and maturity could be so concise and succinct in phrasing his feelings at this turning point in his life.

"I have outlived my pecker."

The Penis Poem

My nookie days are over,
My pilot light is out.
What used to be my sex appeal,
Is now my water spout.

Time was when, on its own accord,
From my trousers it would spring.
But now I've got a full time job,
To find the f***in' thing.

It used to be embarrassing,
The way it would behave.
For every single morning,
It would stand and watch me shave.

Now as old age approaches,
It sure gives me the blues.
To see it hang its little head,
And watch me tie my shoes!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


The Country Gentleman from 12/1/1917 featured this Norman Rockwell illustration, Cousin Reginald Catches the Thanksgiving Turkey

By Rafael Martínez Alequín

As we approach Thanksgiving 2010, Your Free Press takes this opportunity to wish all its readers a happy Thanksgiving. It is a cliché, but true nonetheless, that our attention is too much diverted by turkey and mythology when it should be focused on gratitude. It is human to react with thanks when life goes well, just as it is natural to curse one's fate when tribulation strikes. Godly men and women turn into atheist, at least temporarily, after watching thousands of children starve. Lottery winners and late-inning home-run hitters attribute their good luck to the personal intervention of the "Good Lord."

It is easy to focus on what we lack, especially in these days of lowered expectations. We don't have, and probably never will have, the prosperity that seems to be our parents' and our own birthright back in the 1950s and '60s. It takes two incomes to buy what one used to provide. Even so, we live as only a very small percentage of the human race has ever been privileged to live. Royalty has gotten by as paupers by comparison. Yet, most of humanity does not live in such plenty. Million in this country and elsewhere do not have enough to eat. Others live under daily threat of death from their governments or from the forces of a foreign government because of the political opinions they hold or are suspected of holding.

Most of us here in America do not suffer these deprivations, though we would be naive if we didn't recognize that all too many of us are ill-nourished or subject to racial and political harassment, and worse. Even across this country, hundreds of thousands are homeless, thanks to the policies of the presidency of George W. Bush Administration cut $200 billion from low- and middle-income housing. Surely we ought to give some thought to the ill-housed and homeless, to the hungry and the brutalized, even as we reflect on our own good luck. What joy can there be in our prosperity if a neighbor down the block, Haiti or in Central and South America or Afghanistan, Bangladesh or the Sudan, is deprived of the basic necessities or tortured for her or his political beliefs?

We can turn away from all of this, just as we eventually must turn away from the television when one too many emaciated Africans or mutilated Mexicans have been put before us. Portraits of happy Pilgrims sitting down to dinner with their happy Indian brothers and sisters seem more appropriate to the season. How much guilt can we expected to bear? Is it our fault we were born into a dominant culture? Must we always be reflecting on the sins of our ancestors and elected officials?

Of course, the answer is no. Life would not be bearable if we had to wear mental hairshirts all the time. Life is to be lived, enjoyed, reveled in. This is a lesson we can learn from the saints, both religious and secular: Those who do the most good seem to enjoy themselves the most. enjoy not just the virtue they practice but all the other good things of life—food, love, intellect, companionship—the entire range of possibility open to human experience. They show us that we have nothing to fear from our own compassion. It does not diminish but enlarges our life. How much greater our joy could be, then, if on Thanksgiving Day, or any other time, we can say that we have tasted the full of life, the joys of our own mind and flesh as well as the happiness and pain of others. That, surely, would be something to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


video by Rafael Martínez Alequín

On the steps of City Hall Councilman David G. Greenfield was joined by Council Members Jumaane Williams, Brad Lander, and Fernando Cabrera in support of legislation that would ban the use of full body scanners in New York City, including New York's two airport— JFK and LaGuardia airport. Joining them, Marc Rotenberg an expert in privacy, and professor of law at Georgetown University and President of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

The two company who got the lucrative contract were headed by former Republican Senator Al D'Amato, Park Strategies, and former Home Land Security chief, Michael Chertoff— The Chertoff Group, were the lobbyist, who were instrumental on getting a 175 million contract.

Brooklyn Councilman David Greenfield wants to toss X-ray scanners with bill

Friday, November 19th 2010, 4:00 AM

If City Councilman David Greenfield has his way, X-ray scanners at airports will be gone.
If City Councilman David Greenfield has his way, X-ray scanners at airports will be gone.

New Yorkers should be protected from new high-tech scanners that peek under travelers' clothing, a Brooklyn pol said Thursday.

"We have turned TSA screeners at our airports into Peeping Toms for no legitimate reason," said City Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn). "This practice must be stopped."

Greenfield introduced a bill Thursday to ban scanners using "backscatter" X-rays, which see through clothes, from city airports and other buildings.

The scanners are much less effective than claimed, he said, yet are wildly expensive - and may subject New Yorkers to dangerous radiation as well as a virtual strip search.

It's unclear whether a city law could stop feds from using the scanners. The Transportation Security Administration said "it is our responsibility to provide the best possible security at airports."

NY Vote Lowest of 50 States, Major Races Noncompetitive,, Politics Disillusions the Public


By Henry J. Stern

November 18, 2010

Every now and then, a story appears on an inside page of a newspaper which deserves more attention than it receives.

Tuesday's New York Times published an article by veteran reporter Sam Roberts. The headline on pA28: NEW YORK STATE'S VOTER TURNOUT THIS YEAR WAS LOWEST IN U.S. The lede:

"Despite contests for every statewide office for the first time in decades, a smaller share of eligible voters turned out two weeks ago in New York than in any other state. New York turnout was lower than in any midterm election for at least three decades.

"On the basis of unofficial returns, about 40 per cent of registered New Yorkers voted on Nov. 2. But an analysis by the United States Election Project at George Mason University [in Fairfax, Virginia] found that only 32.1 percent of the 13.4 million who were eligible � citizens 18 and older who are not convicted felons � actually voted...

"New York ranked among the 10 lowest states for turnout in 2006 and 2008, but until this year it was not at the bottom."

A number of academics offered theories to the Times: "'Mostly, I suspect that uncompetitive elections is the main cause,'" said Michael P. McDonald, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a professor at George Mason. 'There are other factors at play, too: the state has been slow to adopt more convenient voter registration and early voting options...'

"Larry J. Sabato, director of the University of Virginia�s Center for Politics, agreed. 'New York Republicans nominated arguably the weakest ticket in the nation, especially with two Senate seats and the governorship at stake,' Dr. Sabato said. 'None of the top three G.O.P. candidates was taken seriously. The amazing thing is that the G.O.P. captured at least five House seats � but, then, the party was at a historic low in Congress and had nowhere to go but up.'"


We see three specific factors as depressing the turnout in New York State in 2010.

1. Noncompetitive races. There was no doubt that the Democratic candidates for the two senate seats and the governorship would be elected. Therefore no one could believe that his/her vote would make a difference.

2. Widespread disillusionment with state government. The legislature has been known for years as the most dysfunctional in America. It's antics in 2009 and 2010 were deplorable. Some of its members belong in jail.

3. The last two governors have been enormously disappointing for widely different reasons. Their predecessor governed poorly and without imagination, courage or fiscal responsibility, but maintained the facade of propriety and regularity.

Although the three top Republican candidates were extremely weak (Townsend and DioGuardi for Senator and Paladino for Governor), the two down-ballot state-wide candidates (Dan Donovan for Attorney General and Harry Wilson for Comptroller) did much better. Wilson lost by about 102,000 votes in what was the closest of the state-wide contests.

The Republican state chair, Edward Cox, promoted a viable candidate for governor, Steve Levy, the Suffolk County executive, who switched parties in 2010 to become a Republican. Levy was very popular in Suffolk, one of the state's most populous counties. In 2007 he was endorsed by all five legal parties (D, R, C, I and WF) and received 96.1% of the vote. The balance was shared by the Integrity Party candidate (2.5%) and the Libertarian nominee (1.3%).

Levy's candidacy was derailed, however, by Republican county leaders around the state, who chose Rick Lazio as the party's candidate, and denied Levy permission to enter the Republican primary. Lazio had lost to Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Senate in 2000 by over 825,000 votes (55 to 43, with 2% scattered among six minor party candidates). He was regarded as a sure loser against Andrew Cuomo. Lazio had received $40,000,000 for his Senate race, but that was from people who disliked Hillary, not from his own devotees. His fundraising results in 2010 were minimal, compared to the eight-figure treasury Andrew Cuomo had amassed.�While Cuomo was gaining praise for his work as Attorney General, Lazio was employed as a lobbyist for J. P. Morgan, although he took a leave to run for governor.

Lazio's weakness was demonstrated by his 62-38 loss to Carl Paladino, a more colorful and authentic advocate of anti-government attitudes. The large margin surprised observers and pollsters, but Paladino's intemperate language, ignorance of public issues, implicit threats of violence (carrying a bat), and an attempted assault on a reporter caused substantial erosion of his support. Many people concluded that he was emotionally suited to be governor of New York State. After the Spitzer and Paterson debacles, voters placed new value on stability, sound judgment, good temper, and the ability to work with other people.


The overwhelming problem facing Governor-elect Cuomo will be the nine billion dollar looming deficit in the state budget, surpassed only by California's deficit. The new Congress is likely to be far less sympathetic to the cities than the lame duck 111th Congress. I remember as a child hearing President Truman denounce the "do nothing 80th Congress", which was elected in 1946.�Both houses went Republican, and John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon were among the freshmen. At that time, politicians crossed the country in railroad cars, on whistle-stop tours, with the train stopping at numerous stations in small towns for brief remarks by the candidate, who was photographed with local dignitaries for the press.

Truman surprised the public, the press and particularly the pollsters by winning in 1948, so there is hope for Obama in 2012. However, Truman exemplified American attitudes, even in his weaknesses. In the end, his persona was deemed preferable to that of New York's governor Thomas Dewey. But that was when the Solid South was Democratic (except for Strom Thurmond, who carried four states as a Dixiecrat) and the country was far from what it is today.

The lesson we can draw from this that political situations can change rapidly, like weather on the prairie. Look at Senator Lisa Murkowski, defeated in a Republican Senate primary in Alaska when she was on the ballot, and nine weeks later elected to the Senate as a write-in, the first since Mr. Thurmond won 56 years ago in South Carolina.

Ms. Murkowski's route to the Senate was quite unusual. She was a member of the Alaska House of Representatives in the fall of 2002 when her father, Senator Frank Murkowski, was elected Governor of Alaska. Upon taking office, he realized that his resignation from the Senate had created a vacancy, and after due consideration, he appointed his daughter Lisa to fill the seat.

She was sworn in on December 20, 2002 as the most junior senator, her term overlapping by two weeks the service of the longest serving senator in United States history, who retired at the age of 100 on January 3, 2003, a Mr. Thurmond.

Governor Murkowski incurred public displeasure for appointing his daughter to a vacancy he created, and a state referendum was held to limit the governor's power to the appointment of a temporary senator, who would hold office only until a special election was held to fill the vacancy. Although Lisa was elected to a full six-year Senate term in 2004, to which she was just re-elected by write-in, her father Frank was not so fortunate when his term expired.

Seeking re-election as governor in 2006, Frank was defeated in the Republican primary by the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska (2000 pop. 5469; 2008 est. pop. 10,256), one Sarah Palin. She resigned as governor on July 26, 2009 to pursue other objectives in business, entertainment and public service.

BREAKING: International Arrest Warrant for WikiLeaks' Assange

Swedish prosecutor's office said that a Stockholm court had approved its request for an arrest warrant to be issued for Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks whistle-blower's Web site, for questioning on months-old charges of rape and other offenses."

Bjorn Hurtig, the lawyer of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, left, talks to the media, 11/18/10. (photo: Leif R Jansson/Scanpix Sweden/AP)
Bjorn Hurtig, the lawyer of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, left, talks to the media, 11/18/10. (photo: Leif R Jansson/Scanpix Sweden/AP)

By John F. Burns, The New York Times

18 November 10

An international arrest warrant via Interpol stemming from an allegation of failing to perform coitus interruptus is extraordinary under any circumstances. The countercharge that the Swedish prosecutors have been influenced by US Government pressure to detain WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in light of WikiLeaks release of thousands of documents detailing US war crimes is, on it's face, more plausible. -- ma/RSN

London - The Swedish prosecutor's office said Thursday that a Stockholm court had approved its request for an arrest warrant to be issued for Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks whistle-blower's Web site, for questioning on months-old charges of rape and other offenses.

Karin Rosander, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office, said in a statement in English that the court had decided to issue the warrant "in the absence" of Mr. Assange over suspicions of his involvement in "rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion."

She added that "the next step for the prosecutor is to issue an international arrest warrant." She gave no indication when that would be done.

Mr. Assange's lawyer in Britain, Mark Stephens, said the allegations were "false and without basis."

Marianne Ny, director of the Stockholm prosecutor's office, said in a telephone interview that the court had approved two warrants, one European and the other usable by Interpol, should Mr. Assange leave the European Union. Lawyers said he could take court action to resist extradition to Sweden in either case, including arguing that the case against him has been prejudiced by political considerations.

In recent weeks, Mr. Assange has made several public appearances in London, after spending several weeks in Sweden and flying first to Berlin, then to London, in early October. Mr. Stephens said Mr. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, remained in London as of Thursday morning.

A statement by Ms. Ny issued before the Stockholm ruling said that prosecutors had been "unable to interrogate" Mr. Assange in nearly 13 weeks, since the allegations against him by two Swedish women became public.

But this was flatly denied by Mr. Stephens, who said in a statement that "over the last three months, despite numerous demands, neither Mr. Assange, nor his legal counsel, has received a single word in writing from the Swedish authorities relating to the allegations."

Mr. Stephens added that the prosecutor's "behavior is not a prosecution, but a persecution."

"Our client has always maintained his innocence," he said. "The allegations against him are false and without basis. As a result of these false allegations and bizarre legal interpretations, our client now has his name and reputation besmirched."

"My client is now in the extraordinary position that, despite his innocence, and despite never having been charged, and despite never receiving a single piece of paper about the allegations against him, one in 10 Internet references to the word ‘rape' also include his name," Mr. Stephens said. "Every day that this flawed investigation continues, the damages to his reputation are compounded."

Mr. Assange founded WikiLeaks in 2006 as a forum for publishing secret and confidential documents of political, military and economic significance passed to the organization by whistle-blowers who have obtained them from governments, corporations and other sources.

This summer, WikiLeaks posted a cache of 77,000 secret Pentagon documents on the war in Afghanistan, and it followed that last month by posting nearly 400,000 Pentagon documents, also secret, on the Iraq war.

On both occasions, the documents were provided in advance to The New York Times, the Guardian of Britain and Der Spiegel magazine in Germany, all of which ran extensive articles focusing on the insights the documents gave into the United States' conduct of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Obama administration condemned both leaks, and demanded that WikiLeaks "return" all secret American documents and undertake not to publish any more in the future.

The Pentagon and the Justice Department have established a task force to probe all aspects of the affair, and officials have said that prosecution of Mr. Assange and his associates under the 1917 Espionage Act was one step under consideration.

The allegations of rape and sexual molestation against Mr. Assange arose shortly after he arrived in Sweden in late August on a journey that he described at the time as aimed at establishing a secure base for himself and WikiLeaks under Sweden's broad press freedom laws.

The two women who accused him were volunteers who had offered to assist WikiLeaks and met him in his first days in Sweden.

According to accounts the women gave to the police and friends, Swedish officials have said, they had consensual sexual encounters with Mr. Assange that became nonconsensual. One woman said that Mr. Assange had ignored her appeals to stop after a condom broke. The other woman said that she and Mr. Assange had begun a sexual encounter using a condom, but that Mr. Assange did not comply with her appeals to stop when it was no longer in use.

Mr. Assange has questioned the veracity of those accounts.

The Stockholm prosecutor's office first issued a warrant for Mr. Assange's arrest, then withdrew it, and later announced that it was still investigating the rape and sexual molestation charges.

Mr. Assange responded at the time by saying that he was a victim of "dirty tricks." Subsequently, in London, he spoke of a "smear campaign" against him and WikiLeaks, and complained about the Swedish prosecutor's delay in disposing of the case. In an interview in London with The New York Times on Oct. 17, he said that 50 days had passed since the Swedish allegations were made public.

The action by the prosecutor's office on Thursday came more than 12 weeks after it said it wanted to interview Mr. Assange in the office's first statement on the investigation.

Thursday's statement implied that no interview had ever taken place. Mr. Assange has spoken on a number of occasions in recent weeks of his growing anxiety about his personal security.

He suggested at a news conference in London on Oct. 23 that he might have to move to Moscow or Havana, Cuba, in his search for a secure base.

In recent days, WikiLeaks supporters have made moves to establish a legal base for WikiLeaks in Iceland, where Mr. Assange spent several weeks this year.

Daniel Ellsberg, the 79-year-old American military analyst who provided The New York Times and other publications with copies of the secret Pentagon documents on the Vietnam War that became known as the Pentagon Papers in 1971, flew to London from California to support Mr. Assange at the mid-October news conference held in conjunction with the publication of the secret Iraq war documents on the WikiLeaks site.

"Choose Havana," Mr. Ellsberg said, after Mr. Assange spoke of his possible destinations, prompting laughter from him and many of his supporters.

In his statement on Thursday, Mr. Stephens, the lawyer, said Mr. Assange had "repeatedly offered to be interviewed, first in Sweden, and then in Britain (including at the Swedish Embassy), either in person or by telephone, videoconferencing or e-mail, and he has also offered to make a sworn statement on affidavit."

"Before leaving Sweden, Mr. Assange asked to be interviewed by the prosecution on several occasions in relation to the allegations, staying over a month in Stockholm, at considerable expense and despite many engagements elsewhere, in order to clear his name," Mr. Stephens said. "Eventually the prosecution told his Swedish lawyer Bjorn Hurtig that he was free to leave the country, without interview, which he did."

Mr. Stephens has worked for The Times on libel cases, the most recent of which ended earlier this year.

Ravi Somaiya contributed reporting.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mayor Bloomberg's News Conference 10/15/10

video by Rafael Martínez Alequín

Mayor Bloomberg's News Conference 10/15/10 about "About the Taxis of Tomorrow". After four years of being ignored by the mayor, I got a shocking surprised when he pointed me and told me "you have the first question". I though of my doctor who recently told me that I have a strong heart, other wise, I will have a heart attack. This is the un-edited video of the mayor's Q & A.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bloomberg abused power with Cathie Black appointment to schools chancellor, UFT boss says

Monday, November 15th 2010, 4:00 AM

United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew (inset) criticized Mayor Bloomberg's process in appointing Cathie Black as schools chancellor.
Santos/News; Inset: Hermann for News
United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew (inset) criticized Mayor Bloomberg's process in appointing Cathie Black as schools chancellor.

The teachers union president ripped into the mayor Sunday for naming Cathie Black schools chancellor, calling it "irresponsible" and an abuse of power.

"It's my opinion that the mayor has abused his authority under the mayoral control law," United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew told more than 200 parents gathered for workshops on how to better navigate the school system.

"This is not about Ms. Black," Mulgrew said to applause. "I do not believe that anyone thought the mayor would speak to no one, hide it, keep it a secret, not consult any educational experts and then name someone with no qualifications to be the chancellor of the New York City school system."

Mulgrew said he would not pass judgment on Black until their meeting, which is scheduled for Wednesday, but he did tell parents, "I would be appalled if a teacher was named the head of the Fire Department of New York City."

Mayor Bloomberg has come under increasing attack for his choice of Black, a media executive with no education experience and no connection to the public school system, after Joel Klein resigned last Tuesday.

"Under the law, the mayor appoints the chancellor," said Education Department press secretary Natalie Ravitz.

Of the critics, she added, "These are individuals who have fought almost every reform we've put in place, so this is unsurprising."

Civil rights attorney Norman Siegel raised the possibility of legal action, saying the process raised "the specter of cronyism" and was "exclusionary."

"Some of us who go back 40 years as civil rights lawyers remember the process in, let's say, the '50s, when government officials would choose their cronies to be in public positions," he said at a news conference.

"We challenged that, we created the equal Opportunity Act ... what we're saying here today is that Bloomberg did not follow those principles."

Black will need a waiver from state Education Commissioner David Steiner before becoming chancellor because she is not a licensed superintendent. Steiner will convene a panel of experts to make a recommendation as soon as the city applies for the waiver.

City Councilman Robert Jackson (D-Harlem), who is chairman of the Council's Education Committee, called the mayor's claim that he engaged in a public process a "lie" and said he would hold hearings on the appointment before the state panel meets.

A group of City Council members also is planning to introduce a resolution against the needed state waiver on Wednesday.

Further opposition is expected at Tuesday's meeting of the Panel on Education Policy.

Manhattan representative Patrick Sullivan wants the panel to decide on whether to request the waiver. Parents who oppose Black have said they plan to make their voices heard.


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Click for video and more information about Way To Heaven
Click for video and more information about Way To Heaven
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By Juan Mayorga - Directed by Matthew Earnest

Presented in English (live simultaneous Spanish-language translation available)

A production of Equilicuá Producciones & Puy Navarro. Presented by Repertorio Español

“A perversely theatrical chapter of the Holocaust is hauntingly re-enacted in Juan Mayorga’s play ‘Way to Heaven,’ about the sham Jewish settlement at Theresienstadt, or Terezin, in what is now the Czech Republic, set up by the Nazis to persuade observers that Jews were held in humane conditions. A makebelieve utopia, Theresienstadt (the German name) was an effective propaganda tool. In reality, it was a concentration camp, and a way station leading to Auschwitz and other death camps. This spare, eloquent work, leanly directed by Matthew Earnest, is a powerful illustration of how theatrical artifice can be pressed into the service of atrocity.”
- Andy Webster, The New York Times

“A striking play...” - The London Times

Smart, riveting, an immensely powerful and important play.” - Julie Congress, nytheatre.com Reviewer’s Pick

“Mayorga’s play emphasises starkly the propensity of human beings to blind themselves to the fate of their fellow creatures.” - The London Times

“Juan Mayorga’s stunning play brings it all home” - Richard McBee, The Jewish Press

“Francisco Reyes' performance as the Commandant is breathtaking.” - Leonard Jacobs, Backstage Critics’ Pick

Three ways to reserve
CLICK HERE NOW (www.waytoheaventheplay.com)
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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mayor Bloomberg didn't tell Education Commissioner he was appointing Cathie Black as chancellor

Saturday, November 13th 2010, 9:50 AM

Cathie Black is slated to become the new chancellor of New York City schools.
Seth Wenig
Cathie Black is slated to become the new chancellor of New York City schools.

The state education official who will decide if Cathie Black can take office as city schools chancellor wasn't even consulted before she was named.

Education Commissioner David Steiner has the power to grant a waiver so a noneducator can head the schools, but Mayor Bloomberg left him in the dark.

"The commissioner was taken by surprise by the announcement on Tuesday," said State Education Department spokesman Tom Dunn, who noted the city has not submitted an application for the waiver.

When Bloomberg announced his choice of Joel Klein for chancellor in July 2002, he sent a letter the same day to the state requesting the waiver.

Though Bloomberg has said a "public" search was conducted for the new chancellor, it's unclear who the mayor consulted - or who else he considered.

A spokeswoman for the mayor said Bloomberg and his staff reached out to numerous people before Tuesday's surprising announcement, but couldn't reach Steiner.

"Deputy Mayor \[Dennis\] Walcott and the commissioner ended up speaking later that afternoon, as did Cathie and the commissioner," the spokeswoman said. "Cathie continues to reach out and speak to our education partners."

Yesterday, the mayor again defended his choice and his process against critics, including state Sen.-elect Tony Avella (D-Queens) and City Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn), both of whom have called on Steiner to deny the waiver.

"It just goes to show they have no understanding whatsoever of what the job is. This is an organization, an agency of the city, that deals with 1.1 million customers, has 135,000 employees, has a budget of $23 billion a year," said Bloomberg, noting he talked for months with Klein about his departure. "He and I together spent a lot of time finding the right person."

Black's husband, Tom Harvey, out walking his dog yesterday, told the Daily News the mayor had made the right choice.

"I'm very proud of her. She'll do a wonderful job," he said.

Meanwhile, Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo declined to weigh in on Black's selection or the waiver decision. "This is the mayor's appointment, the mayor's judgment," Cuomo said. "The mayor's judgment has proven good in the past."

With Mark Morales and Frank Lombardi


Friday, November 12, 2010

Unweighted by Experience, Cathie Black Seeks Waiver. Will Mayor's Wish Prevail?

By Henry J. Stern

November 12, 2010

The prospect for the granting of a waiver to Cathie Black so she can serve as New York City's school chancellor may have dimmed a bit in the last two days.

For one thing, the New York Times reported today, in an article by Winnie Hu, that the man who will decide whether to grant the waiver, State Education Commissioner David M. Steiner, "will convene a screening panel consisting of representatives of the State Education Department and educational organizations to make a recommendation to Dr. Steiner." The commissioner's spokesman "would not speculate on how long that would take."

For another, two of Chancellor Joel Klein's deputies have announced their resignations, and others are expected to leave as well. One reason cited in favor of Ms. Black was that the Klein management team would be available to assist her as she familiarized herself with the educational universe.

No truly independent screening panel of educators is likely to conclude that no experience whatsoever in their professional field is adequate preparation for the most difficult and complex job in local public education. If they felt that way, they would be expressing the view that their own professional qualifications had little value, and that any corporate executive could fill the positions they now hold.

This does not mean that Ms. Black will not receive the necessary waiver. The Commissioner and his screening panel may be responsive to the wishes of a higher authority. Mayor Bloomberg wants the waiver, and carloads of movers and shakers will be influenced by his wishes. There is a strong argument that, since the law provides for mayoral control, and the first element of control is selecting the head of the enterprise, this appointment is his call, regardless of whom he may choose, assuming that the nominee is literate and not a felon.

There are also many people who believe that some schools are ungovernable, and some children uneducable, and that giving the mayor a free ride on the chancellorship would make it easier to fix the blame on him if a less than satisfactory outcome results.

Mayor Bloomberg has previously shown his distaste for technical, legal standards. When Patricia Lancaster resigned as Commissioner of Buildings in 2008, the law required that the Commissioner of the department be an architect or engineer. The mayor's choice, Deputy Commissioner Robert LiMandri, was neither. He solved that problem by having the City Council pass a local law repealing the requirement. Mr. LiMandri is now the Commissioner and he is well regarded.

Since the news from the Buildings Department is usually limited to collapsing cranes or bribe-taking employees, it is certainly arguable that his real estate background is as valuable as one in architecture would be. One may still wonder: is there not one architect or engineer in the City of New York who would also do a first-rate job of overseeing the Department of Buildings? The answer to that question depends on how wide one casts the net.

The Schools Chancellor's position is one that is a target for year-round assault by various groups. The politically correct term for them is "stakeholders"; the pejorative description, "special interests". Public officials begin with a modest reserve of good will, which is depleted over time as group after group is dissatisfied because their particular demands are not being met.

Ambitious politicians boast about their concern for education; photographs of children decorate their mailers. Some of these friends of education, however, do not go so far as actually voting for additional funds, or giving the Chancellor the power to manage the system.

In view of these hazards and obstacles, it could be said that the Chancellor, an official whose importance is comparable to that of the police commissioner, should be a person of impeccable and undisputed credentials, a Horace Mann of the 21st century, if such a person could be found and persuaded to take the job. To select a chancellor with no background whatsoever in education is certainly a daring leap of faith.

It is true that Mayor Bloomberg himself, a successful business executive, had no experience in government before he was first elected mayor in 2001. Since he has basically been a good mayor (he was re-elected twice, has generally appointed and removed commissioners on the merits, has run a scandal-free administration, and innovated in public health and environmental issues), it is understandable for him to believe that others who have achieved great success in business can use their talents to succeed in the public sector.

A perennial problem in the field of education is credentialism. Schools for teachers award degrees routinely, and school boards may require those degrees as qualifications for being hired. It is too often the case that possession of a degree has little relationship to ability to teach in a classroom. But even those who reject credentialism may support minimal standards for people who hold important positions in educational administration. Credentials may not have intrinsic value, but they do provide a veneer of protection for the qualified and unqualified alike.

The Mayor weighed in on the controversy this afternoon, as Simon McCormack of The Huffington Post reports. The headline: BLOOMBERG DEFENDS AGAINST CATHIE BLACK CRITICISM, by Simon McCormack. In response to the critics of his choice, the Mayor said, "It just goes to show they have no understanding whatsoever of what the job is. This is a management job."

These troubling questions remain: How will the proposed chancellor, skilled as she may be, decide on priorities, programs, personnel and budget allocations without personal expertise and knowledge of the basic subject matter she will oversee? How many of the expert professional team said to have been assembled will stay? What will she do if the experts disagree? On what basis will she make critical choices?

Will the members of the screening committee exercise independent judgment? Will the Mayor's wishes be dispositive? Does Speaker Sheldon Silver, a friend and patron of Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the state Board of Regents, have a discreet opinion on the matter?

The elusive qualities of managerial judgment and the ability to lead and inspire may be present in Cathie Black. If she gets the waiver, she will have the opportunity to demonstrate them. But will her skills be sufficient to improve educational outcomes for over a million children?

Cathie Black And Sex Ed?

Yes, YES, YES... I KNOW there are more important things to think about when it comes to the choice of new Schools Chancellor Cathie Black to replace Joel Klein...

For example, there's the fact that she still needs a waiver from the state Education Commissioner to even take the job. There's the fact that she has no background in running a school system, and there's the fact that the Bloomberg administration conducted the/a search for Klein's replacement under the heaviest secrecy.

cathie black sex ed.jpg

But NY1 has a bit of a light-hearted story about Black today that does, in a way, underscore just what a different world Black's going to have to transition into from high-powered magazine exec to manager of a massive school system that serves more than one million kids.

The station pulled up an interview Black did with National Public Radio back in August, where she discussed "discussed plans to make money through an iPad application that charged for sex tips."

Radio host: Cathie, I have to ask, are you going to charge for that sex tip of the day? I mean people seem to pay for this.

Cathie Black: Yeah, $2.99. Yeah, $2.99. Cheaper than a hooker. I didn't say that, did I?"

Seems like an offhanded comment. Maybe Black has a sense of humor - something that could be useful in dealing with the dire situation in our public schools. But no matter what, with the mix of panning and praising the new chancellor's gotten since Wednesday's announcement, one thing's sure: This is about the last thing Black, Bloomberg or the DOE needs right now.

Bronx Borough Prez Ruben Diaz, Jr. To Critics: Mind Your Business

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. is pushing back against critics (or critic, that being the New York Post) who say he's got no place being named to Gov.-Elect Andrew Cuomo's transition team.

Ruben Diaz Jr.jpg

The crux of the critcism, as outlined by the NYP's Adam Brodsky, is that it's oxymoronic to call on Diaz to help Cuomo with plans for job creation and economic development when he, city Comptroller John Liu (also a member of the transition team) and Manhattan BP Scott Stringer tried to squelch a city-commissioned study on the cost of a "living wage" bill for city workers.

Diaz was also blamed for killing the proposed Kingsbridge Armory shopping center project by demanding higher-than-minimum wages for workers there in exchange for million in city subsidies, as our Adam Lisberg has outlined.

The Bronx beep's having none of it.

“I am proud to serve Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo as a member of his transition team. Challenging times are ahead for New York State, and this transition team will work to put together the best and brightest minds to serve our new governor’s administration and build a talented and diverse new state government.

"I am honored that my friend Andrew Cuomo has chosen me to be a part of this process,” Diaz said in a statement.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bloomberg's Old Media Dinner Party

Bloomberg's Old Media Dinner Party
Unqualified School Chief Pick Outs the Elites

A review how today's tabloids covered for the mayor on his pick of his dinner party hack reveals how New York's Elite considers themselves are a ruling class who can do what it wants. Someone squarely in his comfort zone of wealthy and socially prominent Upper East Side resident. NYT on this one breaks with the ruling class * Chris Quinn, John Liu Hedge On New Chancellor

Murdock NYP'sConflict of Interests
Pumping Up Klein their new innovative education product salesman
Departing innovator Klein gets high marks (NYP) *Joel: 'We played big - and got big results'Cig-tax hike creates total drag on sales Sales of taxed cigarettes have plummeted a staggering 27 percent statewide since the highest cigarette tax in the nation took hold in July (NYP)

Murdock's WSJ Supports Black Cathie Black Used to Tough Choices (WSJ) * The WSJ looks for clues on how Black might manage the public school system in her book.

Dinner Party Member Mort Zuckerman's Daily News Supports Black New chancellor Cathie Black hits the ground running (DN) Daily News never misses an opportunity to blast Murdock Daly: Joel Klein shamefully selling out with new gig (DN)

NYT Editorial Questions if Black is Qualified
"David Steiner, the state education commissioner, needs to thoroughly vet Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed successor, the media executive Cathleen Black, to determine if she is up to the job." The papers also looks into the elite questionTransition in New York's Schools (NYT Ed)Bloomberg Took Secret Path to a New Schools Chief (NYT) * Were You Asked About the School Chancellor’s Job? The mayor said his choice was a result of a search, but The Times has not been able to turn up any candidates. (NYT)

Bloomberg's Elite Dinner Party New Schools Chief . . . Where is Sharpton?
"What has become a Bloomberg hallmark, the mayor relied on someone he knew through business and social networks, someone squarely in his comfort zone of wealthy and socially prominent Upper East Side residents, someone with whom he has shared many friends and colleagues, dinners and drinks." UFT-pal state senator out to block Cathie from becoming schools chief (NYP) * Black a 'fearless' straight-shooter: friends (NYP) * Mayor Takes Idea of Education Outsider to New Level (NYT) * Who’s Qualified to Run New York City Schools? Is it necessary to have an education background to run a school district (NYT) *
In choosing Black, Bloomberg passed over even other outsiders with more pedagogical experience. *
Barron Denounces Mayor, Choice of Black as Chancellor * Cathleen Black's First Memo to Her Staff at the Board of Ed