Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Jews Stage Massive Anti-War Protests In Tel Aviv, New York and Elsewhere

Opposing Israeli Policy Does Not Make One a “Self-Hating Jew”

A huge anti-war protest is being held tonight by Jews in Tel Aviv:
Embedded image permalink
(Jews and Palestinians have been holding anti-war protests throughout Israel, but the mainstream media has refused to cover them.)
Jews also protested the Gaza war in New York City yesterday:
Not in Our Name: New Yorkers rally against Israeli war in Gaza in lower Manhattan.
Anti-war protests have also been held in other cities throughout the world.
Indeed, many Jews oppose Israeli treatment of the Palestinians:
Postscript: Many devoutly religious Jews oppose Zionism.  So opposing an Israeli policy does not make anti-Semitic … or a “self-hating Jew“.
And we salute Israelis protesting against the war, especially since dissent may subject them to death threats.

The Question is: Are Benjamin Netanyahu and Adolph Hitler are a seed of the same Tree?

Subject: EMERGENCY ACTION FOR GAZA IN NYC: Thu. July 31st Noon
Date: July 30, 2014 5:59:38 PM EDT

This is news...

"Israel Strikes More Than 50 Sites in Gaza" July 8, 2014

"Israel bomb hits disabled centre in Gaza" July 13, 2014

"Gaza faces imminent water crisis: Israel's assault had a devastating impact on Gaza's already fragile water infrastructure." July 17, 2014

"A Place of Indescribable Loss": As Ceasefire Talks Begin, Israel Bombs Hospital, Mosques and Homes" July 22, 2014

"Bombed in Their Homes and in the Streets, Where Can Gazans Flee?" July 24, 2014

"Gaza health ministry says bombardment killed at least 16 people

and injured 150 in UN-run school in Beit Hanoun." July 25, 2014

"Israeli shells hit second UN school, bringing more death to Gazan refugees" July 29, 2014

"Busy Gaza market also attacked, reportedly killing at least 15 shoppers and
wounding scores of others" July 29, 2014

"They Thought They'd Be Safe. They Were Wrong:
20 Gazans Killed in Israeli Bombing of U.N. Shelter" July 30, 2014

"Dozens Killed in Israel's Worst Bombardment of Gaza So Far" July 30, 2014

"Gaza death toll rises as Israeli strikes continue" July 30, 2014

Rabbi Henry Siegman, Leading Voice of U.S. Jewry, on Gaza: "A Slaughter of Innocents" July 30, 2014

More than 1,250 Palestinians killed in 23 days. 



In the name of decency we must act.

As artists and activists we will join together to create an arresting, visual presence on the streets of NYC; We will create a representation of the carnage from the war crimes perpetrated by the State of Israel on the civilian population of Palestinians in Gaza.

New York City Imposes a Used-Car Repair Rule

The city is requiring dealers that sell vehicles that have been recalled for safety defects to handle the repairs.

General Motors has become engulfed in a crisis over its long failure to fix faulty ignition switches in older cars, a defect that G.M. has linked to at least 13 deaths. Already, automakers have recalled a record 37.5 million vehicles this year in the United States, including about 25.5 million from General Motors, city officials said.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Editorial Observer: The Federal Marijuana Ban Is Rooted in Myth and Xenophobia 


An ad for the 1930s film "Marihuana." Credit National Library of Medicine

The federal law that makes possession of marijuana a crime has its origins in legislation that was passed in an atmosphere of hysteria during the 1930s and that was firmly rooted in prejudices against Mexican immigrants and African-Americans, who were associated with marijuana use at the time. This racially freighted history lives on in current federal policy, which is so driven by myth and propaganda that is it almost impervious to reason.
The cannabis plant, also known as hemp, was widely grown in the United States for use in fabric during the mid-19th century. The practice of smoking it appeared in Texas border towns around 1900, brought by Mexican immigrants who cultivated cannabis as an intoxicant and for medicinal purposes as they had done at home.
Within 15 years or so, it was plentiful along the Texas border and was advertised openly at grocery markets and drugstores, some of which shipped small packets by mail to customers in other states.
The law enforcement view of marijuana was indelibly shaped by the fact that it was initially connected to brown people from Mexico and subsequently with black and poor communities in this country. Police in Texas border towns demonized the plant in racial terms as the drug of “immoral” populations who were promptly labeled “fiends.”
As the legal scholars Richard Bonnie and Charles Whitebread explain in their authoritative history, “The Marihuana Conviction,” the drug’s popularity among minorities and other groups practically ensured that it would be classified as a “narcotic,” attributed with addictive qualities it did not have, and set alongside far more dangerous drugs like heroin and morphine.
By the early 1930s, more than 30 states had prohibited the use of marijuana for nonmedical purposes. The federal push was yet to come.
The stage for federal suppression of marijuana was set in New Orleans, where a prominent doctor blamed “muggle-heads” — as pot smokers were called — for an outbreak of robberies. The city was awash in sensationalistic newspaper articles that depicted pushers hovering by the schoolhouse door turning children into “addicts.” These stories popularized spurious notions about the drug that lingered for decades. Law enforcement officials, too, trafficked in the “assassin” theory, under in which killers were said to have smoked cannabis to ready themselves for murder and mayhem.
Continue reading the main story


Evolving on Marijuana

Highlights from the Editorial Board’s changing view of marijuana over six decades.
OPEN Timeline
In 1930, Congress consolidated the drug control effort in the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, led by the endlessly resourceful commissioner, Harry Jacob Anslinger, who became the architect of national prohibition. His case rested on two fantastical assertions: that the drug caused insanity; that it pushed people toward horrendous acts of criminality. Others at the time argued that it was fiercely addictive.
He may not have actually believed his propaganda, but he fed it by giving lurid stories to the press as a way of making a case for federal intervention. This narrative had a great effect at Congressional hearings that led to the enactment of The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which tried to eradicate the use and sale of the drug through heavy taxation.
Mr. Bonnie and Mr. Whitebread report that the witness list for those hearings contained not a single person who had done significant research into the effects of cannabis. Mr. Anslinger testified that even a single marijuana cigarette could induce a “homicidal mania,” prompting people to want to kill those they loved. The bill passed handily; President Franklin Roosevelt signed it into law.

Cannabis Fluid Extract, 1933 Credit National Museum of American History

An ad for the 1930s film "Marihuana." Credit National Library of Medicine
The federal law that makes possession of marijuana a crime has its origins in legislation that was passed in an atmosphere of hysteria during the 1930s and that was firmly rooted in prejudices against Mexican immigrants and African-Americans, who were associated with marijuana use at the time. This racially freighted history lives on in current federal policy, which is so driven by myth and propaganda that is it almost impervious to reason. 


Maureen Dowd: Night at the Opera?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Treated Like Royalty on Vacation, de Blasio Maintained Populist Image

The mayor took pains in Italy to preserve the fine line between Park Slope Dad and V.I.P.

 Still, it was sometimes odd to observe Mr. de Blasio inside the bubble of high power. An obscure politician at this time last year, the mayor arrived at Sant’Agata de’ Goti with a huge security contingent; the town had shipped in officers from at least four Italian forces. Paparazzi swarmed; after the ceremony, the mayor was mobbed by television crews, his aides struggling to hold back the scrum.
 Like it or not, Mr. de Blasio is quickly becoming a member of the global elite. His challenge now is to find a comfortable way to play the part.

Sunday Review »

While waiting for Congress to evolve, President Obama, once a regular recreational marijuana smoker, could practice some evolution of his own. He could order the attorney general to conduct the study necessary to support removal of marijuana from Schedule I. Earlier this year, he told The New Yorker that he considered marijuana less dangerous than alcohol in its impact on individuals, and made it clear that he was troubled by the disproportionate number of arrests of African-Americans and Latinos on charges of possession. For that reason, he said, he supported the Colorado and Washington experiments.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Big City

On the Upper West Side, a House Divided by Income

A development received approval from the city for separate entrances — one for wealthy residents and one for those earning far less who would occupy the project’s affordable units.

The “Upstairs, Downstairs” effect was permissible under a change to zoning codes made during the Bloomberg era that gave developers who provided affordable housing in market-rate projects discretion over these particulars, in addition to the considerable tax breaks they receive. Although the building’s configuration is anathema to the values embraced by the de Blasio administration, forcing the developer to abandon it would involve costly, not entirely tenable litigation, which would slow the progress of the city’s affordable-housing plans, the administration said. The focus now is to reverse the zoning change, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen told me, a process that should take about a year.


Jon Stewart Wants You To Help Him Buy CNN

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Posted: Updated:

Forget that potato salad Kickstarter campaign. Jon Stewart has something much more fun you can do with any money you're willing to throw away.
Stewart wants to buy CNN, and on Tuesday night's "Daily Show," he asked   for your help.
Rupert Murdoch is angling to purchase Time Warner. But since he already owns Fox News, he'd likely be forced to sell CNN, which experts say could fetch $10 billion -- or exactly the amount Stewart is hoping to raise.
"This $10 billion all-cash bid for CNN would secure control of a massive television network reaching over 100 million homes in the US alone, which we could then use to rebuild a news organization befitting this proud land," a statement on Stewart's "Let's Buy CNN" page reads. "Or more likely we'd use it to make a lot more poop jokes."
Like any good Kickstarter campaign, Stewart is offering up some enticing rewards.
Watch the clip above to find out what they are.
Daily Show Correspondents & Contributors
Getty Images

Friday, July 25, 2014

Rick Perry Orders Dallas Cowboys to Mexican Border

(photo: James D Smith/AP)
(photo: James D Smith/AP)

By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
24 July 14

The article below is satire. Andy Borowitz is an American comedian and New York Times-bestselling author who satirizes the news for his column, "The Borowitz Report."

In his boldest move yet to address the immigration crisis, on Thursday Texas Governor Rick Perry dispatched the Dallas Cowboys to the United States’ border with Mexico.
In a photo opportunity with the Cowboys and several of the team’s cheerleaders, Perry explained the rationale behind his latest decision. “Those who would cross our borders illegally will have to contend with the power and fury of America’s Team,” he said.
Critics of the move dismissed it as political theatre, noting that once the Cowboys arrived at the border it was unclear what they would do there.
Additionally, there were questions about how effective the Cowboys would be in stopping illegal immigrants, since the team has the worst-ranked defense in the N.F.L.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio watched on Thursday as his wife, Chirlane McCray, danced to folk music  in Grassano, Italy.
Gianni Cipriano for The New York Times
Mayor Bill de Blasio watched on Thursday as his wife, Chirlane McCray, danced to folk music  in Grassano, Italy.

In an Ancestral Town, De Blasio Is Celebrated

A second ancestral visit for New York City mayor whose grandmother left Italy 111 years ago.

Carmine Donnola, a longtime Grassano resident, said Mr. de Blasio’s return was a significant moment for a town seeking some hope. In Piazza Purgatorio on Thursday morning, Mr. Donnola handed a poem to a visitor; he planned to present it to the mayor later that day.
The poem was written in Italian. But its title was, simply, 

In the little piazza with cobblestones
Where your grandmother was born
Grassano now cheers up

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The de Blasios spent two days in the low-key village of Anacapri. On Tuesday, tourists admired the view from Villa San Michele.
Gianni Cipriano for The New York Times
The de Blasios spent two days in the low-key village of Anacapri. On Tuesday, tourists admired the view from Villa San Michele.
The mayor’s Italian vacation continued with a quiet day on the island of Capri, with no official appearances. Despite the island’s glittering reputation, Mr. de Blasio and his family kept a modest profile.

Police Study Use of Force; May Issue More Tasers

Days after the death of Eric Garner, Commissioner William J. Bratton disclosed a sweeping review of the department’s training and tactics.

Eric Garner: Citizen or skell?

Some quality-of-life crimes just aren’t worth enforcing

Monday, July 21, 2014, 8:00 PM
A needless death 
New York Daily News A needless death
"I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.”
Watching the brutal video of the police bringing down Eric Garner, never to get up again, I though about Mo and his cousins at the Ditmas Park bodega I bought my loosies from for years. They’re part of the neighborhood, keeping an eye on the street and watching out for their neighbors. They don’t sell to strangers, to avoid fines or losing their license to sell smokes, but they don’t worry about getting arrested, let alone killed.
It’s a permanent tension, that in rightly focusing their efforts where crime is highest, police can easily make criminals of the people they’re charged with protecting, and upping the opportunities for the sort of ugly encounters that leave scars, or worse.
Garner, who had a lengthy record for selling loosies and other petty things, was someone who the cops and EMTs Thursday plainly saw as a skell — even as the people from his neighborhood now mourning him describe someone very different, a good-natured father of six who, like Mo, helped break up fights and keep an eye on his street.
When Mayor de Blasio brought Bill Bratton back to serve a second stint as police commissioner, he gave a double mandate: keep crime down to its current record low, and give a peace dividend to the people in high-crime neighborhoods after a decade in which over-reliance on stops and frisks left too many decent citizens in dangerous neighborhoods resentful of the police.
It remains to be seen if those are compatible goals. With the number of stops having plummeted, Bratton has relied, as he did in his first stint as commissioner under Rudy Giuliani, on broken windows policing — the idea that going after small crimes or signs of disorder helps stop larger ones.
When Bratton first took the job, in 1994, there had been 2,420 murders the previous year. Last year, there were 333. Some things that couldn’t be overlooked back then perhaps should be now.
But so far Bratton, as Kelly did before him, has pressed cops to keep the pressure up and the numbers down. With less serious crime, that means a lot of interactions between police officers and people who’ve done nothing much, or nothing at all, wrong.
To enforce the law on our behalf, we empower the police to use force and, no matter how well trained they are, every encounter has a chance of going wrong.
It’s crucial police are focused on laws that matter, and enforcing them fairly. But right now, there’s a “common sense” standard about who and what warrants police attention, with all the potential for violence, arrests and more that brings.
Open-air drinking isn’t allowed, but no one thinks twice about uncorking wine at Bryant Park movie nights. As I wrote about pot last week, the same thing can’t be a crime in East Flatbush, but okay in Ditmas Park, or for a black kid but not his white pal.
If Bratton really wants to bring the temperature down, he may need to simply have police make fewer arrests for small things, and find other ways to ensure his officers remain active in dealing with real crimes. That is, treat people in every park like they’re in Bryant Park.
And the truth is that if that happens, crime is likely to go up some — and this newspaper and many New Yorkers will bitterly protest any upward tick, as will the victims of those crimes.
But I don’t want New York to be Singapore, where people get caned for spitting gum on the sidewalk, any more than I want it to go back to the murder peak of the late 1980s. That it must be one or the other is, obviously, a false choice.
Yes, many of the advocates now calling for Bratton’s head are reflexive critics of all policing. But the commissioner and mayor need to decide how much enforcement they want, for how much crime.
There’s a point at which aggressive policing makes criminals of people for committing harmless acts — drinking in a park, say, or smoking a joint on their stoop or even just jaywalking.
Cops and civilians engage in millions of encounters a year, each with a small chance of going wrong. How many don’t may be underappreciated. But every needless one risks another Garner. And with every phone a camera now, there’s no hiding the violence when it happens.
As George Kelling, the co-author of the original broken windows article and a consultant to Bratton, told me last week, the point of quality-of-life enforcement was never to criminalize people, but to keep order and shift behavior: “We were never interested in a mounting number of arrests.” That’s right.
“Many people that own stores sell illegal cigarettes,” said Ellisha Flagg , Garner’s sister. “They lose their license, not their lives.”
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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Big City

City Politics Abhors a Vacation

Officeholders, like Mayor Bill de Blasio, are in the difficult position of having to showcase family devotion, only to face scrutiny when they honor the obligations of parenthoo
Mayor Bill de Blasio arrived at the Fiumicino Airport in Rome on Sunday with his family at the start of their vacation.
Michael Grynbaum/The New York Times
Mayor Bill de Blasio arrived at the Fiumicino Airport in Rome on Sunday with his family at the start of their vacation.
An unshaven Bill de Blasio, along with his family, emerged from the airport in Rome on Sunday to face reporters and gawking Italians eager for a selfie with the New York City mayor.

Victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

Among the 298 people aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 were a renowned AIDS researcher, a Dutch senator and an Australian novelist.

Document: Airline Releases List of Passengers

Thursday, July 17, 2014

De Blasio Takes a Vacation, and a Calculated Risk

Mayor Bill de Blasio is gambling that residents will be sympathetic to his need for time off and that no major crisis will occur during his absence.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Suit Seeks to Establish Right to Record New York Police Officers

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, seeks to bar city employees from retaliating against those who tape them in public.

Church Founded in Sixth Century Has More Modern Views on Women Than Scalia

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. (photo: unknown)
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. (photo: unknown)
By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
15 July 14

The article below is satire. Andy Borowitz is an American comedian and New York Times-bestselling author who satirizes the news for his column, "The Borowitz Report."

he Church of England, an institution whose origins date back to the sixth century A.D., has far more modern views about the rights of women than Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, experts said today.
“In recognizing that women are the equals of men, the Church of England has embraced a position that is centuries ahead of Scalia’s,” Davis Logsdon, a professor of religion at the University of Minnesota, said. “This is a remarkable achievement, given that Scalia was born in 1936 and the Church began in the late five hundreds.”
But Dr. Carol Foyler, a history professor at the University of Sussex, took issue with that assessment. “I date the beginning of the Church of England to 1534, when it was officially established under Henry VIII,” she said. “But regardless of whether the Church is fourteen centuries old or five centuries old, it’s unquestionably more modern than Scalia.”
As for Justice Scalia, he seemed to dismiss the controversy, issuing a terse official statement Monday afternoon. “I do not keep up with the goings on of every newfangled institution,” he said.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Documents Show G.M. Kept Silent on Fatal Crashes

When asked by federal regulators to explain deadly crashes, General Motors repeatedly said it had no answers — despite having reached internal conclusions on the causes.

Sight of Rick Perry at Border Convinces Immigrants That Anyone Can Succeed in America

= (photo: The New Yorker)
Rick Perry and Sean Hannity in a boat. (photo: The New Yorker)

By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
14 July 14
The article below is satire. Andy Borowitz is an American comedian and New York Times-bestselling author who satirizes the news for his column, "The Borowitz Report."

recent tour of the United States-Mexico border by Texas Governor Rick Perry has had the unintended consequence of convincing thousands of immigrants that anyone can succeed in America.
After Gov. Perry and the Fox News host Sean Hannity toured the Rio Grande on Thursday, news quickly spread that the two men were actually among the most powerful in America, fueling the immigrants’ impression that the U.S. is a place where anyone can make it.
“When we learned that these two men were the governor of a large state and a top broadcaster from a major news network, it seemed too incredible to be true,” said an immigrant from Honduras, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “We all said to ourselves, if those two can succeed in America, imagine the wondrous things we might achieve.”
According to a border official, immigration at the border shot up eighty per cent since the appearance by the two men, and the situation could get even worse. “There’s a rumor that Rand Paul plans to visit,” the official said.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Top News

When a Student Came Forward: Inside a College Rape Inquiry

A freshman said she was sexually assaulted by football players at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. The school’s investigation, which swiftly cleared the men, left her wishing she had remained silent.

The woman at Hobart and William Smith is no exception. With no advocate to speak up for her at the disciplinary hearing, panelists interrupted her answers, at times misrepresented evidence and asked about a campus-police report she had not seen. The hearing proceeded before her rape-kit results were known, and the medical records indicating trauma were not shown to two of the three panel members.
One panelist did not appear to know what a rape exam entails or why it might be unpleasant. Another asked whether the football player’s penis had been “inside of you” or had he been “having sex with you.”
(A note from the Editor of The as a Hobart graduated Class of1970, I am ashamed of the way the Hobart & William Smith colleges handled this case. My heart is with Anna).

Rafael Martínez Alequín (Hobart 1970)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

More City Hall Change: A Mayor Taking a Break

The mayor and his family will take a nearly 10-day tour of Italy this month, the longest out-of-town trip by a New York City mayor in more than 25 years.

The last mayor to routinely take extended trips to Europe was Edward I. Koch, who in the 1980s journeyed to Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Spain and other destinations during his second and third terms.
Mr. Giuliani rarely took a day off in his first years in office, although he indulged in some weekend jaunts to the Hamptons, trips that became more frequent as his final term neared its end.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Mayor de Blasio, family will take a 10-day vacation away from the city to Italy

The trip — the longest vacation by any Big Apple mayor in recent memory — will include stops in Rome, Naples and Venice, sources said. The mayor, his wife, Chirlane McCray, and their kids Chiara, 19, and Dante, 16, are scheduled to depart on July 18 sources told the Daily News.

Friday, July 11, 2014, 12:05 AM
The mayor, his wife, Chirlane McCray, and their kids Chiara, 19, and Dante, 16, are scheduled to depart on July 18 for a 10-day vacation to Italy, sources tell the Daily News. The mayor, his wife, Chirlane McCray, and their kids Chiara, 19, and Dante, 16, are scheduled to depart on July 18 for a 10-day vacation to Italy, sources tell the Daily News.
Arrivederci, New York!
After seven months on the job, Mayor de Blasio is taking a break from City Hall and hitting his ancestral homeland of Italy for a 10-day vacation.
The mayor, his wife, Chirlane McCray, and their kids Chiara, 19, and Dante, 16, are scheduled to depart on July 18 sources told the Daily News.
The trip — the longest vacation by any Big Apple mayor in recent memory — will include stops in Rome, Naples and Venice, sources said.
The First Family also will visit Grassano and Sant’Agata dei Goti, towns where the mayor’s maternal grandmother and grandfather, respectively, were born.
Francesco Sanseverino, the Grassano mayor, is throwing a bash to mark the occasion, according to an account in the Italian newspaper Il Mattino.
The trip — the longest vacation by any Big Apple mayor in recent memory — will include stops in Rome, Naples and Venice, sources said.
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Ingram Publishing/Getty Images/Ingram Publishing
The trip “fills us with joy and pride, with the hope that the visit will strengthen relations . . . (with) a big city like New York,” Sanseverino told the paper.
NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi James Keivom/New York Daily News Francesco Sanseverino, the Grassano mayor, is throwing a bash to mark the occasion, according to an account in the Italian newspaper Il Mattino.
He’ll also squeeze in some work, including a possible sit-down with Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino. And he’ll hold briefings every day with his staff and cabinet in New York, sources said.
POOL SETH WENIG/AFP/Getty Images De Blasio is footing the bill for himself and his family, but he will be accompanied by his NYPD security detail, his press secretary and two other city aides who will oversee his visits with local officials.
De Blasio is footing the bill for himself and his family, but he will be accompanied by his NYPD security detail, his press secretary and two other city aides who will oversee his visits with local officials.
First Deputy Anthony Shorris will run the city while de Blasio is overseas.
Billionaire former Mayor Michael Bloomberg frequently jetted out of the country on his private plane, but typically just for weekends. When they were mayor, Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani also preferred weekend getaways. Koch often went to his sister’s Hamptons house; Giuliani liked to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Read more:

Americans Unhappy to Be Reminded That Sarah Palin Exists

Sarah Palin speaking in Toledo, Ohio, 10/29/08. (photo: McCain-Palin 2008)
Sarah Palin speaking in Toledo, Ohio, 10/29/08. (photo: McCain-Palin 2008)

By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
10 July 14

The article below is satire. Andy Borowitz is an American comedian and New York Times-bestselling author who satirizes the news for his column, "The Borowitz Report."

new poll released Thursday reveals that a broad majority of Americans describe themselves as “deeply unhappy” to have been reminded that the former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin exists.
Palin’s call for the impeachment of President Obama, a ploy to remind people that she still roams the earth, appears to have backfired, the poll shows.
With seventy-two per cent of respondents saying that they were “upset” or “very upset” to be reminded of her existence, Palin is one of three non-officeholders whose recent utterances have traumatized Americans.
According to the poll, eighty-one per cent were upset to be reminded that Ann Coulter exists, while a hundred per cent felt that way about the existence of the former Vice-President Dick Cheney.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Comptroller Aims to Curb Personal-Injury Claims Against New York City

An initiative modeled after a Police Department program to reduce crime will analyze claims data to identify potential problems across various city agencies.

LeBron to Announce Decision at United Nations

King LeBron James. (photo: Tomi Walker)
King LeBron James. (photo: Tomi Walker)

By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
08 July 14

The article below is satire. Andy Borowitz is an American comedian and New York Times-bestselling author who satirizes the news for his column, "The Borowitz Report."

.B.A. superstar LeBron James said Tuesday morning that he would announce the name of the team that he is signing with on Thursday at a special session of the United Nations General Assembly to be convened especially for that purpose.
“This decision affects everyone on the planet,” James said. “I want to let all the nations on Earth know at the same time.”
An emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday was deadlocked on the issue, with seven members wanting James to remain in Miami, seven others hoping for a return to Cleveland, and Lithuania abstaining.
The Miami Heat president, Pat Riley, and the Cleveland Cavaliers owner, Dan Gilbert, both confirmed that they would be in the audience at the United Nations to hear James announce his decision. “I’m not going to lie: I wish he’d tell me in advance,” Riley said. “But I guess I’ll have to wait to hear along with Russia, China, Ecuador, and everybody else. That’s the way LeBron wants it.”
To help him with his decision, the N.B.A. star has assembled an esteemed circle of advisers, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the scientist Stephen Hawking, all of whom are expected to be in attendance for the United Nations announcement.
The U.N. General Secretary, Ban Ki-moon, acknowledged on Tuesday that the world body had many other issues on its plate, including conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine, but added, “It’s really hard to focus on anything until we know where LeBron is going.”

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Working Life
Silence From de Blasio on Expansion of Living Wage Law
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s delay in expanding the law, which he had promised to do by the end of February, is more perplexing considering his determination to improve the lives of struggling New Yorkers.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The British View the War of 1812 Quite Differently Than Americans Do

An unknown artist depicts the burning of Washington on August 24, 1814. (Artist unknown )

The star-spangled war confirmed independence for the United States. But for Great Britain, it was a betrayal

Smithsonian Magazine | Subscribe

As we look forward to celebrating the bicentennial of the “Star-Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key, I have to admit, with deep shame and embarrassment, that until I left England and went to college in the U.S., I assumed the words referred to the War of Independence. In my defense, I suspect I’m not the only one to make this mistake.
For people like me, who have got their flags and wars mixed up, I think it should be pointed out that there may have been only one War of 1812, but there are four distinct versions of it—the American, the British, the Canadian and the Native American. Moreover, among Americans, the chief actors in the drama, there are multiple variations of the versions, leading to widespread disagreement about the causes, the meaning and even the outcome of the war.
In the immediate aftermath of the war, American commentators painted the battles of 1812-15 as part of a glorious “second war for independence.” As the 19th century progressed, this view changed into a more general story about the “birth of American freedom” and the founding of the Union. But even this note could not be sustained, and by the end of the century, the historian Henry Adams was depicting the war as an aimless exercise in blunder, arrogance and human folly. During the 20th century, historians recast the war in national terms: as a precondition for the entrenchment of Southern slavery, the jumping-off point for the goal of Manifest Destiny and the opening salvos in the race for industrial-capitalist supremacy. The tragic consequences of 1812 for the native nations also began to receive proper attention. Whatever triumphs could be parsed from the war, it was now accepted that none reached the Indian Confederation under Tecumseh. In this postmodern narrative about American selfhood, the “enemy” in the war—Britain—almost disappeared entirely.
Not surprisingly, the Canadian history of the war began with a completely different set of heroes and villains. If the U.S. has its Paul Revere, Canada has Shawnee chief Tecumseh, who lost his life defending Upper Canada against the Americans, and Laura Secord, who struggled through almost 20 miles of swampland in 1813 to warn British and Canadian troops of an imminent attack. For Canadians, the war was, and remains, the cornerstone of nationhood, brought about by unbridled U.S. aggression. Although they acknowledge there were two theaters of war—at sea and on land—it is the successful repulse of the ten U.S. incursions between 1812 and 1814 that have received the most attention.

This timber, which survived the burning of the White House 200 years ago, was donated to the Smithsonian after it was discovered during a 1950 renovation. (David Burnett)
By contrast, the British historiography of the War of 1812 has generally consisted of short chapters squeezed between the grand sweeping narratives of the Napoleonic Wars. The justification for this begins with the numbers: Roughly 20,000 on all sides died fighting the War of 1812 compared with over 3.5 million in the Napoleonic. But the brevity with which the war has been treated has allowed a persistent myth to grow about British ignorance. In the 19th century, the Canadian historian William Kingsford was only half-joking when he commented, “The events of the War of 1812 have not been forgotten in England for they have never been known there.” In the 20th, another Canadian historian remarked that the War of 1812 is “an episode in history that makes everybody happy, because everybody interprets it differently...the English are happiest of all, because they don’t even know it happened.”
The truth is, the British were never happy. In fact, their feelings ranged from disbelief and betrayal at the beginning of the war to outright fury and resentment at the end. They regarded the U.S. protests against Royal Navy impressment of American seamen as exaggerated whining at best, and a transparent pretext for an attempt on Canada at worst. It was widely known that Thomas Jefferson coveted all of North America for the United States. When the war started, he wrote to a friend: “The acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighborhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching, and will give us experience for the attack of Halifax the next, and the final expulsion of England from the American continent.” Moreover, British critics interpreted Washington’s willingness to go to war as proof that America only paid lip service to the ideals of freedom, civil rights and constitutional government. In short, the British dismissed the United States as a haven for blackguards and hypocrites.
The long years of fighting Napoleon’s ambitions for a world empire had hardened the British into an “us-against-them” mentality. All British accounts of the war—no matter how brief—concentrate on the perceived inequality of purpose between the conflict across the Atlantic and the one in Europe: with the former being about wounded feelings and inconvenience, and the latter about survival or annihilation.
To understand the British point of view, it is necessary to go back a few years, to 1806, when Napoleon ignited a global economic war by creating the Continental System, which closed every market in the French Empire to British goods. He persuaded Russia, Prussia and Austria to join in. But the British cabinet was buoyed by the fact that the Royal Navy still ruled the seas, and as long as it could maintain a tight blockade of France’s ports there was hope. That hope was turned into practice when London issued the retaliatory Orders in Council, which prohibited neutral ships from trading with Napoleonic Europe except under license. The Foreign Secretary George Canning wrote: “We have now, what we had once before and once only in 1800, a maritime war in our power—unfettered by any considerations of whom we may annoy or whom we may offend—And we have...determination to carry it through.”
Canning’s “whom” most definitely included the Americans. The British noted that the American merchant marine, as one of the few neutral parties left in the game, was doing rather well out of the war: Tonnage between 1802 and 1810 almost doubled from 558,000 to 981,000. Nor could the British understand why Jefferson and then Madison were prepared to accept Napoleon’s false assurances that he would refrain from using the Continental System against American shipping—but not accept Prime Minister Lord Liverpool’s genuine promises that wrongly impressed American sailors would be released. Writing home to England, a captain on one of the Royal Navy ships patrolling around Halifax complained: “I am really ashamed of the narrow, selfish light in which [the Americans] have regarded the last struggle for liberty and morality in Europe—but our cousin Jonathan has no romantic fits of energy and acts only upon cool, solid calculation of a good market for rice or tobacco!”
It was not until the beginning of 1812 that Britain belatedly acknowledged the strength of American grievances. Royal Navy ships near the American coastline were ordered “not to give any just cause of offence to the Government or the subjects of the United States.” Captains were also commanded to take extra care when they searched for British deserters on American ships. Parliament had just revoked the Orders in Council when the news arrived that President Madison had signed the Declaration of War on June 18. London was convinced that the administration would rescind the declaration once it heard that the stated cause—the Orders in Council—had been dropped. But when Madison then changed the cause to impressment of American sailors (which now numbered about 10,000), it dawned on the ministry that war was unavoidable.
News of Madison’s declaration coincided with momentous developments in Europe. Napoleon Bonaparte and his Grande Armée of 500,000 men—the largest pan-European force ever assembled to that date—invaded Russia on June 24 with the aim of forcing Czar Alexander I to recommit to the Continental System. Britain decided its only course of action was to concentrate on Europe and treat the American conflict as a side issue. Just two battalions and nine frigates were sent across the Atlantic. Command of the North American naval station was given to Adm. Sir John Borlase Warren, whose orders were to explore all reasonable avenues for negotiation.
The first six months of the war produced a mixed bag of successes and failures for both sides. The larger U.S. warships easily trounced the inferior British frigates sent to the region, and in six single-ship encounters emerged victorious in every one. American privateers had an even better year, capturing over 150 British merchant ships worth $2 million. But the British took heart from the land war, which seemed to be going their way with very little effort expended. With the help of Shawnee war chief Tecumseh and the Indian Confederation he built up, the Michigan Territory actually fell back into British possession. In late November an American attempt to invade Upper Canada ended in fiasco. The holding pattern was enough to allow Henry, 3rd Earl of Bathurst, Secretary for War and the Colonies, to feel justified in having concentrated on Napoleon. “After the strong representations which I had received of the inadequacy of the force in those American settlements,” he wrote to the Duke of Wellington in Spain, “I know not how I should have withstood the attack against me for having sent reinforcements to Spain instead of sending them for the defense of British possessions.”
Yet the early signs in 1813 suggested that Earl Bathurst might still come to regret starving Canada of reinforcements. York (the future Toronto), the provincial capital of Upper Canada, was captured and burned by U.S. forces on April 27, 1813. Fortunately, in Europe, it was Napoleon who was on the defensive—bled dry by his abortive Russian campaign and proven vulnerable in Spain and Germany. What few Americans properly grasped was that in British eyes the real war was going to take place at sea. Although the death of Tecumseh in October 1813 was a severe blow to its Canadian defense strategy, Britain had already felt sufficiently confident to separate nine more ships from the Mediterranean Fleet and send them across the Atlantic. Admiral Warren was informed, “We do not intend this as a mere paper blockade, but as a complete stop to all Trade & intercourse by sea with those Ports, as far as the wind & weather, & the continual presence of a sufficing armed Force, will permit and ensure.”
New York City and Philadelphia were blockaded. The Royal Navy also bottled up the Chesapeake and the Delaware. To the British, these successes were considered payback for America’s unfair behavior. “However, we seem to be leading the Yankees a sad life upon their coasts,” wrote the British philanthropist William Ward, 1st Earl of Dudley, in July 1813. “I am glad of it with all my heart. When they declared war they thought it was pretty near over with us, and that their weight cast into the scale would decide our ruin. Luckily they were mistaken, and are likely to pay dear for their error.”
Dudley’s prediction came true. Despite the best efforts of American privateers to harass British shipping, it was the U.S. merchant marine that suffered most. In 1813 only a third of American merchant ships got out to sea. The following year the figure would drop to one-twelfth. Nantucket became so desperate that it offered itself up to the Royal Navy as a neutral trading post. America’s oceanic trade went from $40 million in 1811 to $2.6 million in 1814. Custom revenues—which made up 90 percent of federal income—fell by 80 percent, leaving the administration virtually bankrupt. By 1814 it could neither raise money at home nor borrow from abroad.
When Napoleon abdicated in April 1814, Britain expected that America would soon lose heart and surrender too. From then on, London’s chief aims were to bring a swift conclusion to the war, and capture as much territory as possible in order to gain the best advantage in the inevitable peace talks.
On July 25, 1814, the two foes fought their bloodiest-ever land engagement at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane, a mile west of Niagara Falls near the New York-Canada border. There were over 1,700 casualties, among them America’s dream of annexing Canada. A month later, on August 24, the British burned down the White House and several other government buildings. To Prime Minister Liverpool, the war had been won, bar the skirmishing to be done by the diplomatic negotiators taking place in Ghent, Belgium.
London was quite put out to discover that the administration in Washington failed to share its view. President Madison did not regard America as having been defeated. Only two weeks later, on September 11, 1814, U.S. troops soundly beat back a British attack on Lake Champlain near the New York-Canada border. The poet Francis Scott Key didn’t believe his country was defeated, either, after he saw “by the dawn’s early light” the American flag still flying above Fort McHenry outside Baltimore Harbor on September 14. Nor did Gen. Andrew Jackson, particularly after his resounding victory against British forces outside New Orleans on January 8, 1815—two weeks after the peace negotiations between the two countries had been concluded.
The late flurry of U.S. successes dashed British hopes of squeezing concessions at the Ghent talks. This led the negotiators to abandon the plan to insist on a buffer state for the defeated Native American tribes that had helped British troops. Prime Minister Liverpool gave up trying to teach the Americans a lesson: “We might certainly land in different parts of their coast, and destroy some of their towns, or put them under contribution; but in the present state of the public mind in America it would be in vain to expect any permanent good effects from operations of this nature.”
The British realized that simply getting the Americans to the negotiating table in Ghent was the best they were going to achieve. They also knew that Canada was too large and too sparsely populated to be properly defended. There was also the matter of general war-weariness. British families wanted their menfolk home. Lord Liverpool feared that time was going against them. After the negotiations were concluded on Christmas Eve 1814, he wrote: “I do not believe it would have been possible to have continued [wartime taxes] for the purpose of carrying on an American war....The question there was whether, under all these circumstances, it was not better to conclude the peace at the present moment, before the impatience of the country on the subject had been manifested at public meetings, or by motions in Parliament.”
Although nobody gained from the Treaty of Ghent, it is important to note that (with the exception of the later betrayals suffered by the Native American tribes) nothing was lost either. Moreover, both countries had new victories to savor. The U.S. found glory at the Battle of New Orleans, while six months later the British found theirs when the Duke of Wellington inflicted a crushing defeat over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. Both victories overshadowed everything that had taken place during the previous two years. For America, 1812 became the war in which it had finally gained its independence. For Britain, 1812 became the skirmish it had contained, while winning the real war against its greatest nemesis, Napoleon.

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