Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Step Toward Election Transparency

Bill Moyers. (photo: PBS)
Bill Moyers. (photo: PBS)

By Bill Moyers, Moyers & Company
29 January 16
It's time for the president to make federal contractors disclose their political spending.

arack Obama once confessed to politics’ original sin but has yet to atone for it. He now has an opportunity to do so.
I speak of his promiscuous relationship with money in politics. During his 2008 race for the White House, Obama opted out of the public funding system for presidential campaigns — the first candidate of a major party to do so since the system was created in 1976, after the Watergate scandals. His defection chilled hopes that public funding might enable everyday citizens to check the power of the super rich and their super PACs, countering the influence of “dark money” — contributions that cannot be traced to their donors.
A friend of mine, a prominent conservative Republican who champions campaign finance reform (yes, there are some and we get along marvelously!) recently told me he believes Obama’s decision was a significant blow to the cause for reform. Six years ago, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court tried to finish it off when they ruled for Big Money — unlimited amounts of it — in their Citizens United decision.
In his first State of the Union in 2010, President Obama denounced Citizens United, saying that it would reverse a century of law and open “the floodgates for special interests.” He was just as blunt last year when he declared flatly that Citizens United was “wrong” and had caused “real harm to our democracy.” Right on all counts. Public interest advocates Lisa Gilbert of Public Citizen and Stephen Spaulding of Common Cause recently reminded us that since Citizens United “special interests have spent over $500 million from secret, undisclosed sources.”
Think of it as poison poured into the mainstream of democracy, just as toxic as the lead released in Flint, Michigan’s drinking water.
Americans of every stripe know money corrodes our politics. In a poll last year, The New York Times and CBS found that 85 percent of us think the system for funding political campaigns should be fundamentally changed or completely rebuilt.
President Obama knows it, too. Despite his own apostasy, he has spoken eloquently over the years against the present system.
Unfortunately, he has done nothing about it. He’s gone AWOL in our biggest battle for democracy.
Which brings us back to his confession. During that first campaign for president, the Boston Globe reported that “In Obama’s eight years in the Illinois Senate, from 1996 to 2004, almost two-thirds of the money he raised for his campaigns — $296,000 of $461,000 — came from PACs, corporate contributions, or unions…and many other corporate interests…”
Confronted with this by Tim Russert on Meet the Press, Obama replied: “I have said repeatedly that money is the original sin in politics and I am not sinless.”
Far from sinless, he has in fact been a serial sinner. From repeated campaigns for the state legislature, through his one campaign for the US Senate, to his last campaign for president in 2012, money from organized interests poured into his coffers. The finance industry, communications industry, the health industry — they all had a piece of him, sometimes a very big piece. In his defense, Obama said he could not “unilaterally disarm.” So like the young Augustine of Hippo, who prayed, “Lord, grant me chastity… but not yet,” Barack Obama was saying that when the time arrived, he would sin no more.
Well, Mr. President, it’s time. You have no more campaigns to wage. With a little less than 12 months left in the White House, you have the opportunity to atone for exploiting a system that you have deplored in words if not deeds. You can restart the engine of reform and even demonstrate that Citizens United can be tamed. Just take out your pen and sign an executive order compelling federal contractors to disclose their political spending. In one stroke you can put an end to a blatant practice of political bribery that would be one small step for you and one giant leap for democracy.
It’s an open-and-shut case. In fewer than five minutes, you could face the cameras and announce your decision:
My fellow Americans. I have today signed an executive order requiring any company with a federal contract to disclose how much they spend on politicians and lobbyists, and who is receiving their money.
There are several reasons for this.
First, federal contracting is big business. In 2013 alone, the United States government spent about $460 billion dollars on contracting, with $177 billion of that going to just 25 companies. Since the year 2000, the top 10 contractors have raked in $1.5 trillion in federal contracts.
That’s your money. All of it comes from taxpayers. And as the economic analyst Robert Reich reminds us, you are footing the bill twice over. You pay for these corporations to lobby for those contracts. Then you pay for the stuff they sell us. It’s only fair that you see how much it costs for corporations to buy influence. 
Second, there is a direct relationship between what a corporation spends on campaign contributions and the amount it receives back in government spending. Federal contractors have long been banned from contributing to federal candidates, parties or political committees, but that ban does not apply to their executives, shareholders and political action committees. In fact, since the Citizens United decision in 2010, contractors have been free to contribute unlimited amounts of undisclosed money to super PACs and the shadowy operations known as “social welfare organizations.”
It’s now possible for companies that get government contracts to secretly — let me say it again, secretly — spend untold amounts to elect and re-elect the very legislators who are awarding them those contracts. That’s wrong. It’s a terrible conflict of interest that undermines the integrity of government.
Some of you will remember that I said the Citizens United decision would harm democracy. I wish it were not so, but I was right; this secrecy in influence peddling by federal contractors is a bad thing. It wastes your money. It distorts the relationship between your government and business. It works against start-up entrepreneurs who can’t afford to hire lobbyists or make political contributions while entrenched old-line companies hire former government officials — members of Congress and their staffs in particular — to steer business their way. Let’s put an end to these practices, once and for all.
Third, an open democracy is an honest democracy. Disclosure is the foundation of public trust in government and business, while secrecy invites corruption. Even the Supreme Court justice who wrote the majority opinion for Citizens United acknowledged this to be true. Justice Anthony Kennedy belongs to another party than I. He adheres to a different ideology. But listen to what he wrote: “With the advent of the Internet, prompt disclosure of [political] expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and supporters. Shareholders can determine whether their corporation’s political speech advances the corporation’s interest in making profits, and citizens can see whether elected officials are ‘in the pocket’ of so-called moneyed interests.” I agree with Justice Kennedy.
You see, undisclosed money — “dark money” — is not “free speech” as its proponents claim. To the contrary. It’s a threat to free speech, especially to citizens like you. Even if you believe money is speech, don’t you and every other American have a right to know who’s speaking? Secrecy weakens democracy’s backbone, causing it to become brittle — so brittle that fractures are now commonplace. That’s one reason Washington is broken and dysfunctional.
As Justice Kennedy himself — the author of the Citizens United decision, remember — recently admitted, our system “is not working the way it should.” The executive order I have signed today is a step toward helping us see why it is not working and giving us a way to start fixing it. We are casting sunshine on a system badly in need of light.
Sadly, I must report to you that Republicans in Congress are opposed to sunshine. They prefer government do business in the dark, out of your sight and away from the prying eyes of reporters. But the Sunlight Foundation has discovered that over one recent five-year period 200 of the most politically active corporations spent a combined $5.8 billion on federal lobbying and campaign contributions and, in return, got $4.4 trillion in federal business and support. Yes, $4.4 trillion — with a “t.” That’s an enormous return on their investment in lobbyists and politicians.
Earlier this month I delivered my last State of the Union address to you. I told you that, “We have to reduce the influence of money in our politics, so that a handful of families or hidden interests can’t bankroll our elections. And if our existing approach to campaign finance reform can’t pass muster in the courts, we need to work together to find a real solution.”
My record on this issue may not inspire confidence, but I offer this executive order as an act of genuine penitence. And I pledge to you that in my remaining months as president I intend to take more steps to put right what I have helped to keep wrong. When I leave this office next January there will be no private citizen in the country more active in the fight to save our public life from the pernicious grip of private greed. 
I am not a saint; I am a sinner. But I have been born again — again. And this time I will keep the faith. If you believe in democracy, join me.
Thank you and good night. 

NEW YORK, NY 10007 


24/7 peace officers at all mental health shelters, additional clinical staff at intake centers and shelters, increased coordination between Health + Hospitals, Homeless Services and NYC Safe

NYPD conducting security review of all 27 mental health shelters

NEW YORK—As part of an ongoing review of services to prevent and reduce homelessness, Mayor Bill de Blasio today directed his administration to enhance security measures and add more mental health professionals to increase safety at shelters and support mentally ill, homeless New Yorkers. The Administration also is implementing a new 24/7 communication process between NYC Health + Hospitals and Department of Homelessness Services shelters to ensure better coordinated case management and allow shelter operators to better support clients.

“The murder of one of our shelter residents is shocking and disturbing, and we must address shelter security with urgency. Our shelters should be safe environments where homeless people, with and without mental illness, can be treated with respect, become self-sufficient and move to permanent housing,” said Mayor de Blasio.
NYPD is increasing security at the Boulevard Homeless Shelter in East Harlem, where the murder of a shelter resident occurred, and will complete a system-wide security assessment of all 27 mental health shelters within the next 10 days. 

Other efforts to improve security at shelters and increase mental health services include the following:

·         The City will deploy new mental health teams to DHS shelter intake centers to evaluate service and shelter placement needs of clients.

·         DHS will deploy additional peace officers to provide 24/7 coverage at all mental health shelters.

·         DHS will provide additional funding to bolster mental health services at all DHS and contracted mental health shelters.

·         DHS and HHC will implement a new 24/7 protocol for discharges of clients from HHC facilities to DHS shelters to communicate status and treatment needs.

Mayor de Blasio has developed and is implementing one of the most comprehensive plans to prevent and reduce homelessness in the country. Currently an extensive, 90-day review, conducted by First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris, Deputy Mayor Dr. Herminia Palacio, HRA Commissioner Steve Banks and Operations Director Mindy Tarlow, is underway to improve existing services and coordination of all homelessness policies and programs.

Since his election, Mayor de Blasio has moved over 22,000 homeless individuals into permanent housing and helped to prevent over 91,000 New Yorkers from becoming homeless. He also:

·         Increased 10-fold legal service funding to assist tenants in housing courts to prevent unlawful eviction.

·         Launched a plan for 15,000 units of supportive housing ­­ permanent housing with supportive services to help stabilize lives of homeless individuals.

·         Ended chronic veteran homelessness. 

·         Launched HOME-STAT to ensure consistent, continued outreach to all street homeless, encouraging them to seek shelter, medical care and other services.

·         Removed 30 encampments and put system in place to monitor new encampments and provide services to homeless individuals living in encampments.

·         Doubled drop-in centers, a gateway to bring people in from streets to shelter.

·         Added 500 Safe Haven Beds in houses of worship, which are lower threshold shelters often more attractive to individuals who reject traditional shelter.

·         Increased by 50 percent domestic violence beds at Domestic Violence shelters to serve total of 13,300 individuals.

·         Expanded daytime jobs training and vocational programming at shelters to serve almost 20,000 individuals to ensure residents have access to shelter during the daytime.

·         Tripled the number of beds for runaway homeless youth totaling 750 beds.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Trump the second Coming of Hitler's evil philosophy

Occupy Portland

You Will be next under "president" the donald

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‘El Chapo’ extradition to the U.S. will be accelerated, Mexican President Nieto says

Friday, January 22, 2016, 5:54 PM

MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said Friday he’s ordering officials to accelerate the extradition of recaptured drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the United States.

Image Shows El Chapo in Prison Cell
NY aily News

Mexico had balked at extraditing Guzman after he was captured in 2014, but his escape from a top-security prison in July apparently changed officials’ minds.

OMAR TORRES/AFP/Getty ImagesDrug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman could be in the states to face charges sooner rather than later.

Peña Nieto said he’d told his Attorney General’s office to “achieve the extradition of this highly dangerous delinquent as soon as possible.” He made the comments during a news conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Mexican marines captured Guzman on Jan. 8, six months after he tunneled out of a top-security Mexican prison — his escape from a maximum security lockup.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said in Davos that he'd like to accelerate the extradition of the slippery drug lord.

Rebecca Blackwell/AP

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said in Davos that he'd like to accelerate the extradition of the slippery drug lord.

The Sinaloa Cartel chief is wanted on multiple charges in both Mexico and the U.S.
Officials have already said they plan now to extradite Guzman, but have said the process could take a year or more of legal wrangling.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Fault Lines-Puerto Rico: The Fiscal Experiment

Mount Sinai doctor accused of drugging patient with morphine, sexually assaulting her surrenders to NYPD

Updated: Tuesday, January 19, 2016, 12:43 PM

A prominent Mount Sinai Hospital doctor surrendered to police Tuesday on charges of masturbating into the face of a helpless patient incapacitated by a shot of morphine.
Dr. David Newman’s face betrayed no emotion on a bitterly cold day when he walked into the NYPD Special Victims squad in Harlem with a second man — possibly his attorney.
The doctor, an Iraq War veteran and published author, did not speak with reporters waiting outside for his arrival. He has yet to comment on the sordid allegations.
Newman is facing three counts of sexual abuse and assault for ejaculating on the patient after he injected the woman with a drug dose that left her unable to halt his twisted act, sources said.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi 
 Anthony DelMundo/New York Daily News

Mount Sinai Hospital Dr. David Newman is accused of ejaculating on a 22-year-old patient’s face after incapacitating her with morphine injections.

Special Victims detectives and Manhattan prosecutors waited for the results of a DNA test before deciding whether to charge Newman in the alleged Jan. 11 incident.
The patient was complaining of shoulder pain when she was taken to a private room inside the emergency room at Mount Sinai Hospital. After nurses gave her two pain pills and a shot for inflammation, the patient was given a morphine shot by one of the nurses after complaining of more pain.
She was then told to change into a gown for X-rays. The woman was still dressed in the hospital garb when Newman walked into her room following the X-ray.

Dr. David Newman’s home in Montclair, N.J. The doctor is expected to surrender on Tuesday morning.  

Dr. David Newman’s home in Montclair, N.J. The doctor is expected to surrender on Tuesday morning.

“I’m going to give you a shot of morphine,” the doctor told her, according to sources familiar with the woman’s claims.
The patient says she told the doctor that a nurse had already administered the drug, but she then felt a burning sensation in her arm that convinced her that Newman shot her up with more morphine anyway.
When she told the doctor she felt pain on the right side of her chest, Newman started fondling her breasts, she alleged, according to sources.
Newman then moved her bed away from the wall and positioned himself with his back toward the patient. She heard the sounds of someone masturbating — and then felt semen on her face, she claimed.

Dr. Newman, 40, is a hot shot emergency physician described as a leading voice for health care reforms. Mount Sinai

Dr. Newman, 40, is a hot shot emergency physician described as a leading voice for health care reforms.

All the while, she was unable to move because she was heavily medicated, sources said.
Newman allegedly used a blanket to wipe the substance from her face, sources said. When she fully woke up, she walked into a bathroom and wiped the semen off with a gown, which she put into a plastic bag along with the bedding, presumably to preserve evidence.
Newman is an Iraq War veteran who has published a book called “Hippocrates Shadow: Secrets from the House of Medicine.” He served as a major in the U.S. Army Reserves.
Hospital officials barred the doctor from seeing patients while the incident was probed.
“We continue to cooperate fully with the appropriate authorities,” hospital spokeswoman Kathleen Robinson said Tuesday. “... We take the nature of these allegations very seriously and continue to conduct our own extensive internal inquiry.”

First Amendment lawyer's big win for students came with a big loss

Thursday, January 14, 2016, 10:45 PM

    Ron McGuire is seeking to recover legal fees for his most important victory. 
     Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News

    Ron McGuire is seeking to recover legal fees for his most important victory.

    Only one lawyer in this town has devoted his career to defending the free speech rights of thousands of low-income students at the City University of New York on a pro bono basis.
    His name is Ron McGuire, and the raft of precedent-setting victories he’s logged the past 25 years rarely gets acknowledged.
    “He is the John Brown of CUNY,” says civil rights lawyer Roger Wareham, referring to the famed abolitionist. “A white man representing mostly black and Hispanic students, and since black and brown lives still don’t matter in this society, his work is too often dismissed.”
    But now McGuire, at age 67, is in the fight of his life before the U.S. Court of Appeals, seeking to recover legal fees for his most important victory.
    The case, Husain vs. Springer, has dragged on for 18 years.
    “It is one of the rare cases establishing that college journalists are constitutionally protected against retaliation by school administrators,” says Frank LoMonte, of the nonprofit Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C.
    It all began in 1997, when Marlene Springer, then the president of the College of Staten Island, suddenly annulled the balloting for student government.
    At the time, the CUNY system was in the midst of several campus protests. A newspaper on the Staten Island campus, College Voice, published a special edition prior to the election, openly backing a radical slate of candidates. Springer impounded the ballots and claimed the newspaper had “compromised” the voting with unfair coverage.
    A subsequent tally showed the radicals would have won all 37 seats they were contesting.
    Sarah Husain, one of the paper’s editors, and several other students sued in federal court, alleging their First Amendment rights had been violated.

    A fellow civil rights lawyer calls Ron McGuire "the John Brown of CUNY"  
    Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News

    A fellow civil rights lawyer calls Ron McGuire "the John Brown of CUNY"

    By then, CUNY had already lost several high-profile skirmishes with McGuire. In 1991, for instance, Democratic presidential contenders Bill Clinton and Jerry Brown debated at Lehman College. Campus officials banned a pre-debate student teach-in and protest. But McGuire got a federal judge to order those events be held.
    That same year, following a successful CUNY-wide student strike against tuition hikes, McGuire successfully defended several protest leaders from being kicked out of school. One of those leaders, Ydanis Rodriguez, is now a City Council member and chairman of the higher education committee.
    Then in 1999, McGuire prevailed in Smith vs. City University, where the state Court of Appeals ordered CUNY to hold all meetings in open session. “And in 2005, the state’s highest court ruled in Perez vs. City University that campus governance bodies could not make their decisions at public meetings by secret ballot."
    McGuire’s most important victory, however, came in 2007, when a U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled in the Staten Island case that “Springer’s nullification of the election created ... a chilling effect” on students’ First Amendment rights.
    Eight years later, the fight over McGuire’s court fees for that case has not been settled. His initial request for more than $800,000 has been slashed to a mere $56,000 by another federal appeals panel — far less than he received in the Perez or Smith cases from the state.
    “It’s a fantasy that you can win a piece of federal litigation for just $50,000 against a powerful government agency,” LoMonte said.
    McGuire is now seeking a hearing before the full Court of Appeals in hopes of overturning the smaller panel’s ruling. The court will decide on his request in the next few weeks.
    If lawyers like McGuire can’t receive adequate compensation for defending the rights of low-income students, then no one else will even try.

    Monday, January 18, 2016

    Sean Penn breaks his silence on controversial "El Chapo" meeting

    America’s Oldest Spanish-Language Newspaper Struggles For Survival

    El Diario/La Prensa lays off staff and cuts page count to stay alive.

    01/15/2016 10:19 am ET | Updated 3 days ago

    Bloomberg via Getty Images
    New York City's El Diario/La Prensa is the country's oldest Spanish-language daily newspaper. It faces an uncertain future. 
    NEW YORK -- The country’s oldest Spanish-language daily newspaper, El Diario/La Prensa, began 2016 facing an uncertain future, as staff cuts and tensions between the union, the NewsGuild of New York, and the paper's owners compound an already difficult transition to the web.
    The paper’s steady decline has continued in the four years since Argentina’s La Nación, a leading conservative daily, bought El Diario’s parent company ImpreMedia, promising to pump new investment into the struggling institution and usher it into the digital age.
    But despite a multimillion-dollar cash injection, current and former employees describe a pessimistic atmosphere presided over by foreign managers unfamiliar with New York, who have redirected their coverage toward national news and have cut roughly three-quarters of the paper’s editorial staff since taking over. The company planned to announce another round of newsroom layoffs Friday.
    The former CEO of the paper, Francisco Seghezzo, told staff at a meeting last month that the print edition would likely cease to run, according to Oscar Hernandez, an employee in the paper’s advertising unit who belongs to the staff’s union. 
    “You’re killing the very substance of information that’s been such a part of the community for so many years,” Hernandez told The Huffington Post. “Is this the downfall of a newspaper, or is it the downfall of a community?”
    But incoming CEO Gabriel Dantur, who started Jan. 4, says the print edition will keep running while the company rethinks its relationship with advertisers and searches for ways to boost revenue. He said, however, that the print edition would have to shed pages to cut costs.
    “The goal is to assure El Diario’s sustainability,” Dantur told HuffPost. “We’re aware these are difficult times. But a business that isn’t self-sustaining, unless it’s a charity, can’t be independent.”
    Dantur’s mission will be difficult. El Diario/La Prensa’s financial problems predate the La Nación purchase and reflect many of the same pressures that shuttered metro dailies across the country over the last decade.

    El Diario/La Prensa
    The front page of La Prensa celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1938.

    First published as a weekly in 1913, La Prensa emerged in a thriving era for the multilingual press serving New York City’s many immigrant communities. Originally targeted toward Spaniards in the Lower East Side, the paper changed with the times, embracing new waves of readers with roots in Latin America who shared the Spanish language. La Prensa merged with its competitor El Diario in 1963, giving today’s paper its compound name.
    With the rise of the Internet, the paper’s circulation plunged, along with ad revenue. Paid circulation peaked at 80,000 in the late 1980s, but had plummeted to less than half of that by the time La Nación bought ImpreMedia in 2012, according to Audit Bureau of Circulation data cited by New American Media.
    With revenue dwindling, La Nación’s purchase of ImpreMedia -- a media company that publishes a handful of Spanish-language dailies nationwide, including Los Angeles daily La Opinión -- seemed like an opportunity to change course and obtain the investment needed to reinvent a clunky digital operation that existed largely as an afterthought to print.
    El Diario/La Prensa still produces strong reporting of urgent local interest. Zaira Cortes, for example, has published a series of reports on the anxiety stoked locally by the Obama administration’s immigration raids.
    And Dantur points out that La Nación pumped more than $20 million into ImpreMedia since the purchase four years ago.
    But despite an injection of new money and a web page redesign, the paper continued to struggle, leaving many in New York’s Latino community concerned about the future of the century-old institution.
    “The paper’s already become irrelevant to a lot of people,” Angelo Falcón, the director of the National Institute of Latino Policy, told HuffPost. “There is no paper or mechanism that has replaced El Diario and the role that it played historically. It’s a big loss.”
    At the same time, a management viewed by the union and some former employees as imperious and disconnected from New York’s multiethnic and multicultural Latino community repeatedly butted heads with staff. The National Labor Relations Board found in 2014 that the new owners had violated the company’s collective bargaining agreement by illegally firing eight employees. An agreement between the union and management prohibited further layoffs until this year.
    Dantur acknowledged the tensions, but said they could be overcome with time and dialog. He described the cuts as “painful,” but noted that ImpreMedia has lost money for each of the four years that La Nación has owned it. It will come closer toward reaching a break-even point this year, he said.
    “Many people fail to understand that the responsibility of the management is to guarantee the survival of the company,” Dantur said. “A media outlet that has existed for 100 years is an institution. It carries in its DNA the mission of acting as a voice for a community. What we want is to keep it from disappearing.”
    With his previous contact with staff limited to quarterly visits to New York for board meetings, Dantur will have the benefit of building fresh relationships in the newsroom. But the beginning of his tenure will also be clouded by dismissing more staff shortly after taking over.

    Also on HuffPost:
    100 Years Of El Diario/La Prensa

    Sunday, January 17, 2016

    Take that, Ted Cruz! Gov. Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio respond with real New York values

    Friday, January 15, 2016, 8:27 PM
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    The Statue of Liberty's base shows the true New York values: Acceptance. Compassion. Tolerance. Resilience. Equality.

    For the last week, Ted Cruz has settled on a campaign strategy that includes disparaging New York's values. In a misguided attempt to profit from the politics of division, he has decided to write off and vilify a city of 8.5 million people and a state of 20 million.
    That's wrong — no matter what party you're in.

    NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi Michael Ip/for New York Daily News

    Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio say that Sen. Ted Cruz doesn't understand what true New York values are.

    For someone who has so much hostility toward our city and state, he spends an awful lot of time begging for money from our residents. According to the FEC, Cruz has raised close to half a million dollars from New York donors this election cycle alone. If he had any class or possessed true presidential timber, Ted Cruz would offer New Yorkers a real apology instead of sarcasm — not because we need it, but to prove he's not a hypocrite. His rhetoric this week is unfit for anyone who hopes to lead the American people.
    Politics must be about harnessing government to better people's lives and move the country forward. We live in challenging times, and we need thoughtful leadership. Cruz's latest strategy — disparaging New Yorkers and questioning our values — is anything but thoughtful. Instead, it is political cynicism at its worst.

    Sen. Ted Cruz doesn't like so-called "New York values," but has no problem coming to the Big Apple when it's to raise money. Scott Olson/Getty Images

    Sen. Ted Cruz doesn't like so-called "New York values," but has no problem coming to the Big Apple when it's to raise money.

    Hate is never an acceptable political tool. And in New York, we reject those who seek to use it for personal gain. Instead, we welcome people of all backgrounds, and we embrace immigrants with open arms. We have forged one city, one state, and one family. Throughout our nation's history, New York has been the gateway to opportunity and the driver of the American Dream — both for people born here, and those born on other shores who come here to achieve that magnificent Dream.
    New York has also shown the nation what it means to truly come together in times of trouble, to overcome great tragedy, and to emerge even stronger than before. From the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, New Yorkers have joined hands with people from across the country and around the world to rebuild what had been destroyed, and to comfort those who experienced grave loss.

    Mayor de Blasio, along with Gov. Cuomo, writes that politics must be about harnessing government to better people's lives and move the country forward. Mark Lennihan/ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Mayor de Blasio, along with Gov. Cuomo, writes that politics must be about harnessing government to better people's lives and move the country forward.

    Emma Lazarus captured New York values best. Her poem, "The New Colossus" is inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty — in New York harbor. Ted Cruz has either forgotten or never heard Lazarus' timeless lines, and we think he should:
    "Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

    ; Mike Groll/AP

    Gov. Cuomo writes that we should reject those who seek to use it for personal gain.

    Those are New York values. Acceptance. Compassion. Tolerance. Resilience. Equality. The principles that built the greatest nation on the earth, and that continue to help guide it today. New York welcomed people through Ellis Island. Ted Cruz would reject them. New York is strengthening the middle class. Ted Cruz wants to dismantle it. One World Trade Center stands today as a beacon of freedom around the world because of New York values.

    NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi Mark Bonifacio/New York Daily News

    Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio were slammed by Ted Cruz, who instead owes New York City — and its residents — a true apology.

    So now that we've made clear what New York values are, it seems that Ted Cruz did get one thing right in that debate — he doesn't share them.

    Saturday, January 9, 2016

    El Chapo, Escaped Mexican Drug Lord, Is Recaptured

    Thursday, January 7, 2016

    On the Road to Naples I Discovered Why Italian American Politicians are their Own Worst Enemies

    By Jerry Krase  
    (December 16, 2015)

    Photo by Jerry Krase

    This is a Naples Bike Lane. My Neapolitan friend said the European Union
     gave funds to promote biking and the local authorities painted these so they
    didn't have to send the money back. In five days of walking, four or more hours
     a day, I didn't see one person riding a bicycle. There's a political lesson to be l
    earned here but I don't know what it is.

    Italian American politicians adhere to a corollary given by the 6th century BCE Chinese general Sun Tzu who wrote the Art of War. It was uttered by Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part II (1974): "My father taught me many things here — he taught me in this room. He taught me — keep your friends close but your enemies closer." My mother-in-law Rose Jordan-Nicoletti’s version of this Italian American proverb was “Don’t apologize! Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it.”
    Both Mayor Bill DeBlasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo have deep family roots near Naples. Last week I went to the Universita degli Studi suor Orsola Benincasa in Naples to talk about, among other things, "Citizenship and Governance." Many would not believe it but Napoli is one of the best places in the world to learn about both topics. Walking around the city I could see how it works despite citizenship and governance. People say that Naples is chaotic and they are correct, but the chaos makes sense to its citizens and as a result their city simply "happens." Any attempt to control Neapolitans like traffic signals, anti-litter regulations, and even bicycle lanes have little effect on local life. Neapolitans don't expect much from their government and their government returns the favor. In contrast, in the Big Apple and the Empire State, New Yorkers hold their elected officials, especially Bill and Andy, to a much higher standard and blame them for every real and/or imagined slight.  In turn they blame each other, and their continuing feud, on the verge of vendetta, serves neither of them, or the rest of us very well.           
                  One might ask, "Why are Italian American Politicians their Own Worst Enemies?" The answer can be found in a corollary of the advice given by the 6th century BCE Chinese general Sun Tzu who wrote the Art of War. This Machiavellian–sounding sentiment was pilfered by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola and uttered by Al Pacino (Michael Corleone) in The Godfather Part II (1974): "My father taught me many things here — he taught me in this room. He taught me — keep your friends close but your enemies closer." My mother-in-law Rose Jordan-Nicoletti’s version of this universal, but especially Italian American, proverb was “Don’t apologize! Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it.” The parallel, yet competing, political careers of New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio clearly have been guided by these complementary aphorisms.
    Andy and Bill have become their own worst enemies because they are so much alike, and this makes them even more dangerous to each other. When one itches, the other one scratches and vice versa. As a result of their mutual quest for prominence they compete for just about everything. During the past six months the intense competition has evidently been for bad press and it is difficult to declare a victor. As with all bad news the basic headlines tell the whole sad story.
    For The New York Times Nikita Stewart announced “For Some New York Latinos, Enthusiasm for de Blasio Gives Way to Frustration.”  In The Daily News Albor Ruiz wrote of the “Rising Fury at Mayor de Blasio over Luxury Developments. “  In the New York Post Danielle Furfaro implied that de Blasio was peddling influence; “Campaign contributions behind move to cap Uber, New Yorkers say.” De Blasio’s progressive reformer campaign image opened him to charges of hypocrisy once he took office. “Mayor de Blasio’s Hired Guns: Private Consultants Help Shape City Hall” was the not so shocking discovery of Thomas Kaplan. To nobody else’s surprise Bill’s 2013 campaign advisers were still “at his side as a kind of privately funded brain trust, offering strategic advice and helping to shape the message that comes from City Hall.” And even less startling, as with every other political consultant I have ever known “Their involvement also poses conflict-of-interest concerns, as some of the consultants’ firms have clients that do business with the city.” The featured Comment, by "J" of New York, NY, said it all: “Based on his dismal performance as mayor, he is definitely not getting his money's worth out of these consultants. “
    Andy has been no slouch either in the bad news column, racking up an impressive record second only to Bill, and Andy’s fellow Governor Chris Christie. Alexander Burns told his readers that even his  “Fellow Democrats” don’t like “His Style,” (), while Burns’ fellow Times writers William K. Rashbaum and Suzanne Craig were more substantive with “Corruption Inquiry Appears to Expand to a Signature Cuomo Program.” The investigation by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, was into the “Buffalo Billion” development bidding process. ” He has also caught the unwanted attention of the non-mainstream press as evidenced by Julian Guerrero’s unflattering characterization “Andrew Cuomo's Circle of Corruption” in The Socialist Worker.
    This embarrassment of riches has led the rivals to point fingers at each other. In the Daily News Erin Durkin blurted “De Blasio blasts Cuomo, accusing governor of thwarting his goals out of 'revenge.'”  Alexander Burns and Thomas Kaplan added “New York Democrats Join Mayor de Blasio in a Chorus of Dissent Against Governor Cuomo.” Two months later, Capital New York reported “Cuomo-de Blasio war expands to new fronts.” Simultaneously, veteran New York political war correspondent Fred U. Dicker warned de Blasio that “Cuomo (was) personally recruiting candidates to de-throne” him.  The latest embarrassment for both were reports in several New York City dailies that while on a joint visit to Puerto Rico they didn’t even look at each other. 
    Like feuding next-door neighbors, they have put plagues on their own houses. In the Daily News “About New York” reporter Jim Dwyer penned “Mayor De Blasio and Governor Cuomo Point Fingers, but There’s Enough Blame for Both.” The New York Post’s Natalie Musumeci reported “Mayor de Blasio’s approval ratings have plummeted to a new low, with relatively few voters approving of his performance.” Half said he didn’t deserve another term. Capital New York’s Josefa Velasquez said Governor Cuomo’s popularity glass was only half-full as his approval rating dropped twenty percent over the past six years. From the Fred Dicker’s sharpened quill comes “Mayor de Blasio is so reviled across the state that Senate Republicans are planning to use criticism against Hizzoner to boost their candidates in next year’s campaigns — and they’ll use critiques leveled by Gov. Cuomo to help demonize him.” 
    The closeness between Andy and Bill virtually makes them brothers, and in Italian families intense male rivalries are normal. My Sicilian-American mother’s four half-Sicilian sons constantly fought with each other over nothing. At my wife’s all-Italian family gatherings, I fondly remember my father-in-law Anthony Charles (Nick) Nicoletti and his brother-in-law Anthony Jordan Jr. taking center stage. Whatever comment one made the other quickly contradicted, leading to a verbal battle during which spectators were called upon to support “their” oratorial gladiator. As with the war between Andy and Bill, no one was ever declared a “winner.”  If truth be told, Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio won election because their opponents (Rick Lazio, Carl Paladino, Joe Lhota) were less appealing. Their campaigns also produced record low turnouts. Lucky for their egos however, once in office, our two rival emperor's got to wear new clothes. What their closest advisers won’t tell them however, the press seems only too happy to.

    Sunday, January 3, 2016

    Donald Trump not too bothered by appearance in terrorist recruitment video

    Donald Trump not too bothered by appearance in terrorist recruitment video; still defends call for Muslim ban on 'Face The Nation'

    Updated: Sunday, January 3, 2016, 9:20 AM

    Donald Trump isn’t too bothered by his starring role in an Islamic terror group’s recruitment video — and it hasn’t worked wonders for his views on Muslims, either.
    On "Face the Nation" Sunday morning, the loudmouth GOP presidential front-runner brushed off his recent appearance in a propaganda clip from Al Shabab, a Somalia group affiliated with Al Qaeda.
    The video, released several days ago, prominently features Trump’s insistence in December on a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering America — a proposal that proved one of the most controversial remarks of his crazed campaign.
    But when asked about the video, Trump only doubled down on his inflammatory views.
    “Look, there’s a problem,” he said on “Face the Nation.”
    “Other people call me up and say, ‘Look, you have guts to bring it up because frankly, it’s true, but nobody wants to get involved.’ Now people are getting involved...Maybe it’s not politically correct. There’s a big problem out there and we have to solve the problem.”
    He all but shrugged about his cameo in the popular propaganda clip.
    “I mean, they use other people too,” he said.

    NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi via YouTube Enlarge
    NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi via YouTube Enlarge

    The recruitment video from Al Shabab shows old footage of the group's slain leader, Anwar al-Awlaki (left) along with Donald Trump's speech demanding a ban on Muslims (right).

    “I mean, what am I going to do? I have to say what I have to say. And you know what I have to say? There’s a problem.”
    The terror video had no impact on Trump’s reigning status as the leading GOP candidate.
    Elsewhere in his video, Trump continued criticizing Obama's expected executive action on gun control, instead blaming "a tremendous mental health problem" on America's mass shooting epidemic.
    But he saved his most severe slams for Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, accusing her of causing "tremendous death with incompetent decisions" as Secretary of State during the War on Terror.
    Before the interview aired, Trump tweeted: "Al-Shabbab, not ISIS, just made a video on me — they all will as front-runner & if I speak out against them, which I must. Hillary lied!"
    It's unclear what he was referring to in the Clinton swipe.
    After Trump's first call to ban Muslims, Clinton called the blabbering billionaire "ISIS' best recruiter."