Sunday, March 29, 2015

Governor Mike Pence of Indiana. (photo: Greg Nash)
Governor Mike Pence of Indiana. (photo: Greg Nash)

Indiana Defines Stupidity as Religion

By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
27 March 15
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."

n a history-making decision, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana has signed into law a bill that officially recognizes stupidity as a religion.
Pence said that he hoped the law would protect millions of state residents “who, like me, have been practicing this religion passionately for years.”
The bill would grant politicians like Pence the right to observe their faith freely, even if their practice of stupidity costs the state billions of dollars.
While Pence’s action drew the praise of stupid people across America, former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was not among them. “Even I wasn’t dumb enough to sign a bill like that,” she said.

Why the hell are you YELLING?
It takes all tone out of whatever you're trying to express.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Joan Baez diffuses right wing protest at Idaho concert

Wed Aug 12, 2009 at 06:18 PM PDT

What would you do if you found yourself standing face to face with people bearing signs accusing you by name of killing babies and encouraging the shooting of American soldiers?  Might you lose your cool?  Might you get involved in an exchange that would ultimately lead to anger or descend into the shouting matches we've been seeing at so many Town Halls lately?
Not if you're Joan Baez, who, in the 50th year of her career, continues to live according to unshakeable ideals of non-violence and compassion in ways that should inspire us all.
Last night, four Vietnam veterans protested Joan's concert in Idaho Falls with signs reading: "JOAN BAEZ - SOLDIERS DON'T KILL BABIES, LIBERALS DO" and "JOAN BAEZ GAVE COMFORT & AID TO OUR ENEMY IN VIETNAM & ENCOURAGED THEM TO KILL AMERICANS!"
Joan was informed that the men were protesting her concert about an hour before it was due to begin and she immediately walked out onto the street to talk to them.  When she approached, one of the first things they said was "We appreciate the work you did on civil rights and women's rights."  They wanted to make that point clear.
She listened closely as they discussed their views.  Primarily, they wanted to express the way they felt betrayed by anti-war protesters when they returned from combat.  Joan assured them that she stood by them then and now.  They had mixed reactions as she explained her actual positions and her support for all veterans, across the board.
At this point, Joan's merchandise salesman, Jim Stewart, who was a Captain in the US Army during Vietnam, approached the group.  Jim is one of the most kind-hearted people you could ever meet.  He is not one to speak lightly of what he went through in Vietnam.  He took Joan's arm and said to these four men, "I stand by this lady 100%.  She did the right thing then, and she stood by us when we got home.  She even recorded a song at that time from which 100% of the proceeds went to us vets."
Here Jim listens, then engages in conversation:
Unbelievably, one of the four protesters began to question Jim in an accusatory fashion, pressing him for details about what division he was in and and where he served, as if, somehow, he were making it up.  It brings tears to my eyes, as I write this, to remember Jim being questioned in this way.  These protesters were there, theoretically, to lament the poor treatment of American soliders and yet they belittled and questioned the service of a veteran because he did not agree with their views.
Jim played their game for a bit before seeing it for what it was and disengaging.  Joan stood by his side and said, "Oh, he's got the stories all right.  But he doesn't feel the need to talk about them."
Ironically, a man on his way to the concert approached at this moment and, without really following all that had gone on, interjected, "Those who don't realize that what they did in Vietnam was wrong are kind of SLOOOOOOW."  I watched Jim's face as he heard that statement - literally getting it from both sides within less than a minute.
At this point I engaged in conversation with the man holding the sign accusing liberals, rather than soliders, of killing babies.  He said "I never killed any babies and I don't believe in guilt by association."  I asked him how in the world he could justify holding a sign with Joan Baez's name on it that basically implied she killed babies if he didn't believe in guilt by association.  He replied "It's an analogy, you probably wouldn't understand it!"
Uhhhh.... yeah.
Jim said he should destroy the sign and he then claimed we were trying to trample his Constitutional right to free speech.  We replied that we weren't questioning his right, by any means, but rather his sense of decency, considering that he was there having a conversation with Joan and she was clearly not a baby killer.  Since his entire point was that guilt by association was wrong, it made sense to us.  But he replied "I'm Pro-Life and I'm proud of this sign."  With those words, he held it higher.
As we discussed these things, one of them repeated, "Soldiers don't kill babies."  I said that so many horrible things happen in war that it's impossible to make such a blanket statement, especially when bombs get dropped from the sky, and I said it all comes down to the truth that "War is hell."
I continued, saying,  "And you all know that far better than me."
They were suprised by this statement, as if shocked that anyone on the "other side" recognized what they'd been through.  It seemd to render them speechless for a moment.
At this point, Joan's continuing acceptance of their stories and her willingness to hear them out began to melt their anger.  In a twist that seems hard to fathom, they then asked her to SIGN THEIR POSTERS!  She replied that she would sign the back but not the front of "those horrible things."  Incredibly, the man with the baby-killing sign replied that he would take her name off the poster if she would sign it.
She did end up signing them, and also getting copies of her book for each of them, and offering tickets to the show, which they did not accept.  She signed the back of the poster about her encouraging the killing of American soldiers - "All the very best to you, Joan Baez."
When we got back inside the theatre, Joan broke down in tears.  I said to her "You are so brave to face people like that."  She wasn't crying about the way she had been treated, however, but about the way Jim Stewart had stood up for her.  "Did you hear his voice shaking?" she said.  "That was bravery..."
And she was right.  Stepping back into the mire of Vietnam was not something he did lightly - he bore the literal denigration of his service by another veteran in order to defend her.
During the concert afterwards Joan dedicated a song to the protesters and said "You know, they just wanted to be heard.  Everyone wants to be heard. I feel like I made four new friends tonight."
She took the high road, as always.  It wasn't my name on those signs, yet I gave into anger.  She never did. As we deal with tea parties and increasingly violent right wing protests it would do us all good to remember the example of non-violence and compassion that Ms Baez has exemplified for the 50-plus years of her career.
Her heroes are Gandhi and Martin Luther King.  In my book, she's right there with them, leading the timeless and essential march along the high road.
UPDATE:  Thanks to everyone for the recs!  I'm so happy that this story has inspired members of this community.  You may want to check out the version of "We Shall Overcome" that Joan recorded in her kitchen in June, with some lyrics in Farsi, in the hope of directly inspiring the people of Iran as they stand up for real democracy against real oppression.  The link follows...

NYPD computers used to change police-brutality Wikipedia pages

Computers linked to Police Headquarters were used to scrub anti-cop rhetoric on some Wikipedia pages that described cases of alleged police brutality, officials said Friday.
Eighty-five IP addresses that are registered to the NYPD’s vast computer network were used to change the information on pages for Eric Garner, Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo, according to Capital New York.
Police Headquarters staffs more than 3,000 employees ranging from top-ranking officials to civilian call-takers, and has more than 15,000 registered IP addresses — a dozen of which were linked to “notable” Wikipedia activity, the Web site reported.
One anonymous user made multiple changes to Garner’s page on the free-access information site on the same night a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Garner’s death.
The phrase “Garner raised both his arms in the air” was edited to “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke,” and the words “push Garner’s face into the sidewalk” were changed to “push Garner’s head down into the sidewalk.”
Language that Garner was placed in a “chokehold” was changed two times — once to “chokehold or headlock” and another to “respiratory distress.”
And added to the description of the July 2014 altercation was the sentence, “Garner, who was considerably larger than any of the officers, continued to struggle with them.”
A user on the NYPD’s network also tried deleting the page for “Sean Bell shooting incident” altogether in 2007, a year after the man was shot dead by police in Queens.
“[Bell] was in the news for about two months, and now no one except Al Sharpton cares anymore. The police shoot people every day, and times with a lot more than 50 bullets. This incident is more news than notable,” the user said on Wikipedia’s “Articles for deletion” page.
Wikipedia allows anyone to edit its entries — either with an account or anonymously. The site logs an anonymous user’s IP address and creates a public record of the edits.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis said the various edits didn’t come from computers at One Police Plaza.
“We’re looking into remote servers. It could have been on any computer linked to the NYPD,” he said, adding that an internal investigation is ongoing.
Sources told The Post that changes made while Ray Kelly was commissioner weren’t officially sanctioned or coordinated to add a pro-NYPD spin.
Additional reporting by Natasha Velez and Lia Eusta


Apple just made a big announcement on Monday, except instead of the usual amount of hype, it was met with ridicule. Apple's new MacBook is way thinner and lighter, but it also has some severe shortcomings. This "translation" parody video pokes fun at the new MacBook, and I couldn't stop laughing!
Screen shot from the video I couldn't stop laughing at this MacBook comedy video

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Assassination of Malcolm X

Malcolm X assassination: 50 years on, mystery still clouds details of the case

Despite freedom of information act requests throughout the years, New York still will not release records to the public and claim files would endanger the safety of police officers and constitute unwarranted invasions of privacy
Malcolm X in Rochester, New York, 1965.
Malcolm X in Rochester, New York, 1965. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Our City is Committed to Affordable Housing


More than half of all New York City renters spend 30% or more of their income on rent.

That's why the City is committed to building and preserving more affordable housing -- so hardworking New Yorkers can build lives and raise their families in this city.

It's important we get that message out, so a few other New Yorkers and I got together to record this video.

WATCH: New York City is committed to affordable housing

If you live in the five boroughs, you're a New Yorker -- no matter where you're from or what language you speak. And all New Yorkers should have the comfort of knowing they can afford to live in the city they've made their home.

That's what we're working toward together.

Watch and share our video now:


Alicia Glen
Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Rev. Malcolm Boyd, an Author, Activist and Counterculture Rebel, Dies at 91

Father Boyd was among a handful of white clergymen who became nationally known for civil rights and protesting war, and — after disclosing in 1976 that he was gay — fought for women and homosexuals in the church.

Mr. Boyd with the actress Mary Pickford in 1949 in Hollywood, where he worked as a publicist and then a producer. Credit Malcolm Boyd Archives 
He was among a handful of white clergymen who were nationally known as champions of civil rights and opponents of the Vietnam War, a group that included the Rt. Rev. Paul Moore Jr., the Episcopal bishop in Washington and New York; the Rev. William Sloane Coffin Jr., the Presbyterian chaplain at Yale University; and the sibling Roman Catholic Jesuit priests Philip and Daniel Berrigan, who were primarily peace activists.