Archive for the ‘Immigration’ Category

The War on Terror

In Afghanistan, Children and Youth, civil, Civil Liberties, class warfare, Culture of Corruption, Disaster Relief, Economic Justice, Election 2008, Environment, Freedom of Speech, Global War On Terror, Housing, Immigration, International politics, Iraq War, Media Criticism, Misc., New York City, Progressive Politics, Terrorism, US Politics on March 21, 2013 at 11:36 am


Growing up in Virginia, I have fond memories of the shooting range.  My father even gave me a turn with his .44 magnum which did in fact kick like a mule.  The violence followed me to New York with 9/11, and where I was fortunate to try to give blood and wait things out in my dorm, many others who I’d grown up with or befriended back in VA were suiting up to go and fight, first in Afghanistan, then to Iraq.  A couple days ago, I caught this letter on a friend’s Facebook Feed – which is starting to make the rounds – and at first, I couldn’t read it.  It had been comforting in a way to forget about Bush and the Axis of Evil, of all the squandered potential we poured into the sand.  But as we’re reminded so often in this endless war, we must never forget.  We cannot hide unpleasant things in the shadows.

And yet, for two years after the attack and ten more after our invasion – the two defining moments of our time – we seem content to do just that.  My relationship to guns came into focus in Millbrook, NY where – eating lunch with my band after playing our first funeral – we saw the horrors of gun violence laid bare on the diner’s TV screen.  CNN’s coverage of Sandy Hook still fresh,  our waitress remarking, “That’s a half-hour from here.”  A member of the jazz community in NYC lost their daughter and even Joe Biden says nothing will be the same.

Except it is.  Exactly the same.  After hearings and meetings and press conferences and statements, there will be no assault weapons ban, no reduction in the capacity of magazines, no new safegaurds against the armed-and-mentally ill.  21 children are dead for absolutely no reason, and for all our wails of grief and shock, no one is willing to really do anything about it.  The 1.4% of us who are NRA members must be fairly satisfied by this.

Immigration is looking a little more hopeful, with real-ish players talking about real-ish solutions – path to citizenship, guest worker visas, living wages?? – but if the current legislative process holds true, which it will, we can expect exactly none of these to make it to any real legislation, no leadership or dialogue will take place.  Just as we have come to expect, as we have chosen to remember.  So on we go with stopping people for their papers, exploiting them with unscrupulous employers and siphoning resources away from the state without putting any tax revenue into – or getting any real value from – the community they’re living in.

The current tally on this War on Terror is coming in to around $6 trillion, with about $4 trillion of that going towards the Iraq war, which I think is over at this point.    No further attacks have been made on the home front, and aside from a few pesky revolutions throughout the region, we haven’t had World War III yet, so, mission accomplished.  But this war isn’t being fought by “America,” it’s being fought by less than 1% of America.  The backlash and destruction caused by what we want is being felt by them, not by us, which makes it easier to saber rattle as the threats continue to pop up in far-flung places all over this hostile world.  It is easy to hide the unpleasantness of war, and that much better to remember all the glory and victory, when only a few have to bleed.

We were lied to.  We were lied to and believed in it so much that we lied to the world.  We remember the attack, the victimization we felt at that moment, but we choose to forget – every day – the reaction that has set us on this path.  Something horrible happens, but the real cause is too scary, too political, too much to bear, so we lie to each other, we lie to ourselves, and talk really loud about something else.  Something that makes us feel good, or empowered and that lasts just long enough for the next crisis to come, and the next cycle to start, and nothing, nothing, nothing is ever really done.

But this is politics, this is Washington, this is Gridlock and Sequester and Special Interests and this is out of our control.  It is also quite uncanny to a nervous breakdown.  As a country, we first experienced trauma then threw ourselves into deeper and deeper trauma’s with no discernible solution or responsibility, which eventually lead us to unearth, then ignore, all the skeletons we’ve amassed inside our closet.  Guns, war, immigrants, health care, economy, housing, the list goes on.

But you can’t make guns safer by talking by talking about “freedom.”  Nor can you keep healthcare prices low by invoking “liberty” or create jobs by claiming to be the victims of “class warfare.”  We can’t claim to be a “nation of immigrants” while installing xenophobic laws, nor can we claim to be “pro-life” and fight against affordable health care.  These are things both the right and left have been guilty of doing – or are at the very least both complicit in – and the apathy/isolation of the electorate has enabled these madmen to hijack trillions of dollars every year and immense power around the globe with little accountability.  We are lied to every day and believe the lie so much, we lie to each other, we lie to ourselves.

During the campaign in 2008, I was reading The Argument by Matt Bai and the quote I wrote with then still rings true now:

The story of modern politics was the story of popular movements molding their candidates, not the other way around. Roosevelt didn’t create progressive government; the progressives of the early twentieth century created him. Lyndon Johnson and Robert Kennedy, while they despised eachother, both derived their essential arguments about social justice from the equality movements of the late fifties and early sixties. Ronald Regan would not have existed without the movement conservatives who offered him a philosophical anchor. These were great and preternaturally talented leaders, men who had the charisma and the intellect to synthesize the arguments that each of these movements had made, to persuade voters of their urgency, and to adapt them to the realm of policy making. But they were merely conduits for change, and they would never have emerged as public visionaries had others not laid the intellectual foundations for their arguments.

There is no magical elected official or working group someplace that will be able to fix all of this shit, but this does not divorce government – federal, state and local – from their responsibility in implementing solutions.  We have to decide, all of us, what the fuck we want, what the alternative is going to be.  We have to build it, prove it works, then demand, in no uncertain terms, that it be given to us better, faster and cheaper by those with the money and resources – e.g. government, business, that guy you know – to do so.  Occupy Wall Street accomplished exactly none of it’s goals, BECAUSE IT HAD NONE – and no, press coverage/raising awareness isn’t enough on the world stage.  We have to be able to confront all of those demons on that list, turn the lights on and get right with everything in honesty before we can expect respect from the dilettantes we’ve been ruled by.

Until then, the government will have no problem treating us the way in which we’ve grown accustomed, and we’ll have no problem taking it.  Never forget what we’ve been through.  Never forget that we deserved – and still deserve – so much better.


Iraq and Immigration Meet in Mass.

In Children and Youth, civil, Civil Liberties, Culture of Corruption, Economic Justice, Global War On Terror, Immigration, Iraq War, Labor, Laws & Regulation, Misc., US Politics on March 8, 2007 at 7:35 pm

Two festering cancers of America’s policy collided yesterday at a New Bedford, MA manufacturing plant. A small army of Immigrations and Customs Enforcements agents (ICE) executed a massive raid at a Michael Bianco, Inc., netting 327 illegal workers – out of 500 overall – and the company’s management. Though they are now prosecuting the company, our government had also awarded Bianco in the neighborhood of $90-$100 Million in contracts to manufacture quality goods for our troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan; this includes around $8.5 Million and $36.1 Million for backpacks and portage equipment in 2004 and 2005, respectively. Many words came to mind when I first read about this, and it will probably take a few paragraphs to get to them all, so please, bear with me.

There are many victims in this story, but I’d like to start with the innocent ones. The majority of the workers at Bianco were women, and while they were being handcuffed a rounded up with helicopters for working a $7 an hour job, their children were left stranded. From the Boston Globe:

About 100 children were stuck with baby sitters, caretakers and others, said Corinn Williams, director of the Community Economic Development Center of Southeastern Massachusetts. The state Department of Social Services found at least 35 children whose families were affected, authorities said.

“We’re continuing to get stories today about infants that were left behind,” she said. “It’s been a widespread humanitarian crisis here in New Bedford.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that no children were stranded and that authorities released 60 detainees for humanitarian reasons, most related to child care issues. Spokesman Marc Raimondi said that the agency coordinated with the state officials Monday afternoon, and that those still in custody were given the option of letting their children stay with a guardian or putting them in state care.

“We had an agreement in place,” he said. “We are not aware of anyone who had any children that weren’t being cared for.”

Social service officials said they were working with local authorities and community activists to help families.

Since their parents – all but the 60 the ICE mercifully released – spent the night detained in a nearby Army Base, one wonders just exactly where these children were and what kind of care they were given. It is important to note that most of these children are, by birth, American citizens, and as such, are entitled to care in this country. Despite this, a majority of deportees choose to leave with their children, preferring to keep the family together in uncertain poverty rather than burden the state and tear their lives in two. The former, though, will most likely be difficult if not impossible to accomplish given that these workers are now in custody and caught in the unrelenting tide of bureaucracy on their way out of the country. Just what kinds of rights they are granted during processing – most specifically phone calls to loved ones and legal consel – is also suspect:

At Fort Devens, federal agents began a second round of interviews with detainees, ICE spokesman Richard Rocha said.

He said the majority will be flown to detention facilities outside of Massachusetts, where they will appear before an immigration court judge for deportation proceedings.

Depending on the judge’s decision, the detainees will either be deported to their home countries or allowed to return to New Bedford, he said.

The length of stay at the detention facilities depends on where the immigrants are from, Mr. Rocha said. Deportation to Mexico is quicker than those to other countries such as El Salvador and Honduras, he said.

This effectively puts these estimated 100 children in indefinite limbo for doing absolutely nothing. Give me one Minute Man who says this is justice, this is American values, and I’ll write in George Bush on my next Presidential ballot.

The second tier are the workers themselves. Whatever, your opinions on immigration are, it is important to understand the conditions in which these people work:

Investigators said the workers toiled in dingy conditions and faced onerous fines, such as a $20 charge for talking while working and spending more than two minutes in the bathroom.

“The whole story will come out, and at that point it will be a very different scenario,” said Insolia’s lawyer, Inga Bernstein.

I’m sure it will, Inga. The pay they received – $7 an hour – and lack of benefits is, unfortunately, not that much different than many low-skilled jobs US citizens are forced into these days. But the simple fact that these people are without rights negates any inkling of fair, honest, and even humane treatment by their employers as they risk imprisonment and deportation for reporting mistreatment. I say again, whatever your thoughts on this issue, the plain fact is that these people risk life and limb to come here and be exploited all so that their children can escape the burdens they endure. We are also led to believe, over and over, that these people come to this country to do the jobs American’s won’t. An excellent Op-Ed piece from a local paper stated that the raid happened “on the same day that the state reported that the city’s unemployment rate was the highest in the commonwealth and just one day after a historic copper company founded by patriot Paul Revere announced it will close its historic plant in New Bedford” When a big time factory can beat it’s competitors while still keeping it’s local work-force in unemployment, it’s a Red-Letter day for American business. With the closing of any plant, fingers start pointing all over the place over who is responsible for the lost jobs. Is it the fault of the immigrant for working the sub-standard wage, or the employer for offering it?

The most unnerving thing, in my opinion, is that all this was done with the full knowledge, if not complicit action of the government. Not just the Department of Defense, who awarded them the contract, but several government agencies turned the other way to continue the flow of cheap goods Bianco dolled out to our troops. From the Op-Ed piece:

As early as February 2002, the Social Security Administration found that there were problems with the paperwork of nearly one in four of Bianco’s 83 employees. Over the next several years, state and city police stops turned up Bianco employees who said they had purchased fraudulent documents.

And report after report, filed over a four-year period, to Social Security found wholesale problems with Bianco Inc.’s work force, including Social Security cards whose numbers matched those of dead people.

And yet, the company was awarded more than $100 million in federal contracts to manufacture gear for U.S. soldiers. To meet the demands of the federal contracts, Bianco quadrupled its work force from 151 in February 2005 to 646. The company even received tens of thousands of dollars from Massachusetts, apparently to train illegal immigrants how to do taxpayer-supported jobs for the U.S. military that should have gone to U.S. citizens.

Most of what we eat, be it livestock or produce, has been given off the back of illegal labor for years, so I guess it was only a matter of time before the government stopped riding shotgun and started actively working to engorge American business with cheap labor. While we were being pummelled with the “debate” on these issues going on throughout the halls of government, while walls and fences were being built to keep these dastardly illegals out of our country and rhetoric flew like electrons from our elected officials, hundreds of workers – just counting Bianco, mind you – were being ignored if not encouraged to keep quiet and meet their quotas. The Senate felt it appropriate to demonize these workers while ignoring the employers that brought them here in the first place; these captains of industry who supplied Mexicans, Brazilians, Guatemalans and Jamaicans – just to name a few – with false identification and denied them any rights whatsoever in order to avoid the labor laws and civil rights that come with a legitimate workforce. But hey, that crap’s expensive and we live in a global economy. However encouraging it is to see Francesco Insolia, Bianco’s owner, and the rest of the company’s management being led away in the same cars as the their victims, it is merely window dressing when compared to monumental task at hand. It will take much more than raids to cure the culture of corruption we have let infect our economy through lax oversight and an unwillingness to face the issues at hand. It will be curious to see if the new Democratic leadership will be able to cut the bullshit and find a solution, be it amnesty or prosecution, to this festering problem. There are many who believe that they would rather wait out this supposed lame-duck administration and deal with the problem on their own terms come ’08 instead of working with Bush to solve it, thereby reinvigorating his languishing term. How many millions of workers will be prosecuted from now until then? What will be the human cost of all of this useless politcal posturing?

The fact that many of our troops are now equipped with the products made by this company is nothing short of poetic irony. At the very least, corners have been cut and rules have been bent in countless ways to keep this war afloat. The complete and total lack of responsible oversight and accountability that has been so well documented in Iraq has finally been revealed to us at home, and one can only wonder how much more of our military is being supported by these illegal and unethical companies. We have been told that we wage this war for the people of Iraq to have a taste of the freedom we take for granted here, that it is our job to cast away the darkness of oppression with the enduring light of liberty. Yet here we are, oppressing our own people with unemployment and foreigners with much worse, supplanting the equipment our troops deserve with that which is cheapest and orphaning scores of children without any consideration to their future, all in the broad daylight of this liberty we take for granted. My mother was born of Polish and Czech immigrants who arrived here at the turn of the century and my father came here from the Philippines in his twenties, which makes immigration a very personal issue for me, and probably why I’ve written more of a manifesto than a post. Most immigrants don’t come here for themselves, they do so for their families and their children, seeking to spread the apparent overflow of prosperity upon those they love. This was the founding principal of our nation, it was the reason why George Washington didn’t want to pay his taxes and why Jose’ worked 3 jobs with no insurance, they both wanted to be citizens of the United States. Should people come here legally? Yes. Regulating this, though, must start within our own borders by prosecuting the companies perpetuating it. The fact remains that there are millions of people who have spent year after year toiling in sheer exploitation that deserve, if not the name, at least some of the rights guaranteed by citizenship. By instead putting them in shackles and tearing apart their families, we relive another notorious and shamefull period of our history. If we cannot enforce our laws equally across tax brackets, guarantee the well being of our citizens and the humane treatment of those who are not, we scar the traditions that built this country. If we can’t fulfill our promises here, how are we supposed to fight and die to fulfill them elsewhere?

Immigration Detention Centers Privatize Food (PS: Food’s top reason for rioting)

In Civil Liberties, Culture of Corruption, Economic Justice, Food Justice, Global War On Terror, Immigration, International politics, International Public Health, Laws & Regulation, Race, Terrorism, US Politics on February 28, 2007 at 10:26 am

Whew… Could turn into an underreported mess

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau has decided to hire an Alaska Native corporation to take over detention center food service work currently performed by dozens of federal employees.

Fifty-six ICE food service employees at detention centers in Miami; Los Angeles; Los Fresnos and El Paso, Texas; Florence, Ariz.; and El Centro, Calif., will be replaced by ANC workers, according to a notice posted earlier this month on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site. The decision was made after the agency conducted a streamlined public-private job competition, in which officials decided after completing market research that it would be best to outsource the work.

Officials then announced in the notice early this month that, rather than soliciting proposals from all interested private sector companies, they would give the work to an Alaska Native firm. These companies are considered disadvantaged and allowed to bypass some of the normal competitive procedures required to win federal contracts.

…”ICE is not required to even show that this type of contractor is cheaper or better than federal employees, so the results of the … competition don’t matter, much less the way it was conducted,” said one person at the Homeland Security Department, who spoke under the condition of anonymity. ICE is part of DHS.

…A separate agency source predicted that officials may have a difficult time making a smooth transition to a contract workforce.

“I foresee disturbances likely to occur after the new contractors take over,” said the source, who also spoke under the condition of anonymity. “One of the primary reasons inmates [and] detainees riot is the quality of the food service. Contract employees will be held to strict time limits, [and] the quality and quantity will surely suffer as a result.”

Today’s Cartoon

In Civil Liberties, class warfare, Direct action, Economic Justice, Freedom of Information, Freedom of Speech, Global War On Terror, Habeas Corpus, Immigration, International politics, Laws & Regulation, Policing, political cartoons, Progressive Politics, Race, religion & politics, Sexuality, Terrorism, The War On Drugs, US Politics on February 15, 2007 at 10:45 am

Vilsack Scolds Chertoff

In Economic Justice, Election 2008, Immigration, Laws & Regulation, Policing, US Politics on December 20, 2006 at 5:32 pm

Sure, Vilsack wrote it with more than one eye on the primaries only 13 months away, but it needed to be written anyway:

In a blunt and stinging letter, the governor and the top officer of the Iowa National Guard on Tuesday called federal immigration officials’ actions in the Swift raids “completely unacceptable,” saying agents undermined the public’s trust in government, potentially jeopardized the safety of law enforcement personnel in Iowa and could have compromised undercover operations.

Gov. Tom Vilsack and Maj. Gen. Ron Dardis, in a letter Tuesday to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, said they will not cooperate with federal immigration officials in the future unless they act more responsibly and provide better coordination with state officials.

by the way, am i the only one that thinks Chertoff looks like the Grim Reeper 

Brookings’ 10 Noteworthy Trends for 2006

In Economic Justice, HIV/SIDA, Housing, Immigration, Labor, New York City, Progressive Politics, Race, Urban Planning / Space, US Politics on December 20, 2006 at 10:06 am

Brookings Inst:

  • For the first time in 2005 there are more poor residents of suburbs than central cities.
  • Six percent of the population of large U.S. metropolitan areas lives in exurbs.
  • More than one-third of the nation’s loss of manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2005 occurred in seven Great Lakes states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
  • America’s older, inner-ring first suburbs make up 20 percent of the nation’s population and are more diverse and older than the nation as a whole.
  • The average U.S. household spends 19 percent of its budget on transportation, rendering household location a key component of housing affordability.
  • Nationwide, more than 4.2 million lower income homeowners pay a higher than average APR for their mortgage.
  • The leading refugee destination metro areas have shifted away from traditional immigrant gateways, like New York and Los Angeles, over the past two decades to newer gateways—such as Atlanta, Seattle, and Portland.
  • The fastest growing metropolitan areas for minority populations from 2000 to 2004 now closely parallel the fastest growing areas in the nation.
  • Middle-income neighborhoods as a proportion of all metropolitan neighborhoods declined from 58 percent in 1970 to 41 percent in 2000, disappearing faster than the share of middle class households in these metro areas.
  • Of the $109 billion in federal appropriations dedicated to Gulf Coast funding In the first year after Hurricane Katrina, only $35 billion, approximately, went toward the long-term recovery of the region.
  • Detainee Transport Funds Violate Regulations?

    In Global War On Terror, Immigration, Labor, Laws & Regulation, Misc., Urban Planning / Space, US Politics on December 19, 2006 at 10:50 am

    From GovExec:

    The Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau may have violated federal funding regulations when it transferred employees and funds to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, its sister agency in the Homeland Security Department, for a detainee transportation program, according to an internal ICE document obtained by Government Executive.

    A February 2006 memorandum from ICE field managers to Julie Myers, the head of the bureau, and John Torres, then-acting director of ICE’s Office of Detention and Removal Operations, expressed concern that the agency broke the law in its haste to provide CBP’s Border Patrol with the transportation services. An ICE official testified last month that the bureau shifted $50 million worth of resources, including employees, to CBP in fiscal 2006 for the services.

    “Legally, there is a concern… that ICE [employees who] provide transportation services to CBP without reimbursement for such services is an improper augmentation of CBP’s appropriations,” the Feb. 2 memorandum stated…

    Targeted for their Appearance, ‘Wilson Four’ Immigration Case Tossed Out

    In Civil Liberties, Economic Justice, Immigration, International politics, Laws & Regulation, Misc., Race, US Politics on December 13, 2006 at 4:46 pm

    Bout time this crap got thrown out…

    It looks like the long court saga against the Wilson Four is over. A federal immigration appeals board on Nov. 29 concluded that the former Wilson Charter High School students in Phoenix had been wrongly targeted by immigration officials at the Canadian border because of their Hispanic appearance.

    As a result, a federal immigration judge in July, 2005, was right to throw out the deportation cases against them, the board concluded in a statement rejecting the government’s appeal.


    A spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said the government hasn’t decided whether to pursue the case further. In June, 2002, the students traveled to upstate New York to participate in a solar-powered boat competition. During a side trip to Niagara Falls, immigration officials at the Canadian border interrogated the students for nine hours, and after determining they were in the country illegally, began deportation proceedings.

    Hey, what happened to the food theme?

    In Economic Justice, Food Justice, Immigration, Laws & Regulation, New York City, Urban Planning / Space on December 6, 2006 at 11:30 am

    This month we originally planned on bringing you articles about food justice, access to food, and healthy eating. However, certain incidents (1, 2, 3)  have slightly shifted our direction over recent weeks.

    While that other stuff is more important, and very worthy of the distraction that it brings, I thought I could lighten the mood a little this morning by returning to food for a minute.

    I found the following article in the NYTimes about a food market that I never knew existed on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Based on what I learned from this article, it sounds similar to the Chelsea Market in that it rents space to small independent vendors, including farmers from upstate NY. It is also interesting due to the fact that it is quite large (15,000 square feet) compared to most stores in the area, and that it caters to people from a variety of social backgrounds (not just to the gentrifying population). Here is some of the article:

    Some months ago, a friend told me about the Essex Street Market, the 15,000-square-foot enclosed food hall on the lower East Side of Manhattan, and I felt as if I were a soprano hearing the name Donizetti for the first time.

    The market has been in continual operation for the past 66 years. But it is thriving today as it never did, making available both the world of the bodega and the universe of the gourmand…That the market itself is shaped like a giant shoebox only adds to the sense that it has become a diorama of the city in demographic miniature. Hasidic men and Latina women come, as they always have, and they are joined now by young people of indeterminate sexuality, vocation or coiffure.

    Five years ago the market was only 60 percent full, said Jose Figuereo, one of its overseers. But because of low rents and an influx of more prosperous neighbors, 26 vendors now occupy every square foot of selling space.

    The city’s Economic Development Corporation, which runs the market, receives applications for new tenants on a weekly basis and, in a change from the past, will now rent only to food vendors. It leases space to vendors at $27 a square foot on average, less than a third the standard price food retailers pay in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn….

    While the market has welcomed purveyors like Ms. Saxelby, it has not given itself over entirely to epicurean gentrification. The indoor stalls are a good place to encounter yautia, a root vegetable that looks like the love child of a soup can and a coconut.

    In addition to yautia, and its cousins batata and apio — all root vegetables used in Hispanic cooking — it is still possible to find kosher wine here, at Schapiro’s, which has kept a presence on the Lower East Side since 1899.

    “There are people from the housing projects across Delancey who come in for milk religiously,” she said. (Ms. Saxelby’s comes from a small dairy in upstate New York and she sells it for $2.99 a quart.) “This tosses out all your assumptions about who people are and what they are going to like,” she added. “You don’t know who anyone is, really. Some people who you’d think are young hipsters, artist types, show up with E.B.T. cards,” she said. Ms. Saxelby sells Trillium, a Vermont cheese made from hand-ladled goat curd for $24.99 a pound, and she advertises her acceptance of electronic benefits transfer cards, the replacement for food stamps.

    The Essex Street Market exists as an urban planner’s vision of commercial utopia — the sort of retail space now all but non-existent in New York, where increasingly segregated social classes come together to share if not the actual experience of affluence, then the readily purchasable signifiers of it….

    While the market has welcomed purveyors like Ms. Saxelby, it has not given itself over entirely to epicurean gentrification. The indoor stalls are a good place to encounter yautia, a root vegetable that looks like the love child of a soup can and a coconut….

    In addition to yautia, and its cousins batata and apio — all root vegetables used in Hispanic cooking — it is still possible to find kosher wine here, at Schapiro’s, which has kept a presence on the Lower East Side since 1899….

    If Fiorello La Guardia arrived at the market today though, one imagines he would be quite pleased with what greeted him. Mayor La Guardia established the enclosed market — along with La Marqueta in East Harlem and the Arthur Avenue market in the Bronx, both still running — to eliminate the street peddler culture he found so odious. About half the pushcarts in the city were on the Lower East Side, said Suzanne Wasserman, director of the Gotham Center at the CUNY Graduate Center and a scholar of lower Manhattan history.

    La Guardia sought to regulate the markets rigorously. Among the rules stipulated by the Department of Markets, in the 1930s, was a ban on shouting, hawking and the “use of abusive and lewd language.”

    The point of the markets, Ms. Wasserman explained, was to sanitize mercantile life in New York and divorce it from immigrant folkways.

    “La Guardia was half Italian and half Jewish, and he had a thing about explicit displays of ethnicity,” she said…..

    The Essex Street Market opened on January 10, 1940 with 475 stalls and 1,000 applications for them. Initially it did not do well because the Jewish and Italian immigrants to whom it catered preferred to shop on the street. It began to thrive as pushcarts disappeared and flourished in the 1950s with the arrival of a Puerto Rican population to the Lower East Side. For years before the current real estate boom though, the market was largely derelict.

    Jeffrey Ruhalter is a fourth-generation butcher who has spent the better part of the last four decades observing the changes in the market and the shifting demographics of the neighborhood surrounding the intersection of Essex and Delancey Streets. Mr. Ruhalter’s great-grandfather Aaron Ruhalter opened a butcher shop on Orchard Street in 1923, one his grandfather moved to Essex Street Market when it opened….

    His father, he said, used to buy pigs’ feet in 100-pound buckets. “We were a poor man’s butcher for a very long time, because this was a very poor neighborhood,” he said. “In the ’80s if it had not been for food stamps we would have been out of business.”

    Though Mr. Ruhalter carries some hormone-free beef now, and strip steak and duck sausages to cater to customers who come to him from all over the city, he makes his living, he said, from the less glamorous offerings of a carnivore’s table: chicken, sirloin, stew meat.

    While I can’t say that I agree with LaGuardia’s sentiments of “Sanitizing mercantile life in New York and divorce it from immigrant folkways,” I must say that it’s great to see places like the Essex Street Market in existance. Not only are they interesting in terms of urban planning, they also provide great economic opportunities and access to good quality food, both of which are increasingly lacking (at least for those that can’t afford high priced grocers or don’t have grocery options available in their neighborhood).

    Read the entire article here.

    Repost: If It’s a Police Beating, I’d Rather Trust My Eyes

    In Civil Liberties, class warfare, Immigration, Policing, Race on December 1, 2006 at 11:18 am

    Continuing this week’s unplanned theme of police brutality, I found the following article. Although it strays away from the current situation in Queens, it gives a moving look into the writer’s personal experiences as well as a broad look at the topic in general……From Capital Times (Wisconsin) via Common Dreams:

    If It’s a Police Beating, I’d Rather Trust My Eyes

    by Roberto Rodriguez

    The young man is already down, but the blows to William Cardenas’ face from a Los Angeles police officer keep coming. The video is disturbing.

    And the flashbacks return. Alicia Sotero, 1996. Rodney King, 1991. And then my mind returns to 1979 and the streets of East Los Angeles. There, a young Mexican man is being pummeled mercilessly. My first instincts are to flee, but the beating by the 10 to 12 deputies is so vicious that I can’t. I take photographs instead and then, shortly, the batons turn on me.

    After a barrage of blows, I lay on the cold street in a pool of blood, from a cracked skull, handcuffed and charged with attempting to kill four police officers with a deadly weapon a camera. In the end, I win not one but two trials, but justice is slow as they take seven years.

    In the end, there is no end. The memories do go away, but they return every time a new videotaped beating surfaces. I recall the riot sticks, the death threats and the dozens of subsequent arrests. But most of all, what I remember is that for years, nobody pays any attention to me.

    More than a generation has passed and the trauma I live with is not strictly about my stirred memories but about why young people (usually of color) continue to be brutalized on U.S. streets. Only on the rare occasion that a videotape surfaces does even the word “justice” enter the conversation. Normally, young victims are beaten, arrested and do time. Many plea-bargain their way out of prison, which forfeits their date in court. This is considered a victory. Most remain anonymous and traumatized for life, without justice.

    What society is left with separate from false imprisonments is lots of untreated trauma, resentment and pent-up anger on the streets … with lots of hidden costs, including youngsters who are prone to violence, homicide, suicide and domestic violence. And this is due not strictly to the beatings. It is in the knowledge that the life of a person of color often matters little on the streets and in the courtroom. Our nation’s leaders are reluctant to say this. But that’s the truth and root of the problem.

    This is not a new phenomenon. In 2006, society is still carrying on the infamous Bartolomo de las Casas/Juan Gines de Sepulveda religious debates of the late early 1500s: Are they human? That’s what Europeans asked about indigenous peoples upon arrival to this continent. And yes, in a subliminal way, that same question is still being asked with similar results.

    The victims are primarily red-brown-black (similar to the U.S. prison population) and there is always a presumption of guilt.

    In this case, the police admit that the blows are disturbing, but we are informed that Cardenas is a gang member … therefore, the public is being primed to believe that he must be guilty or at least got what he deserved this before the investigation.

    No one deserves to be beaten. Beating someone senseless is always illegal especially if the force is unrelated to a lawful arrest.

    But even when we witness a brutal beating, we are told not to believe our eyes. That may explain why it is rare that the victim of police brutality ever sees justice. (Once in a great while family members of dead victims are compensated.)

    In the recent video, we are told that we are not seeing the whole incident. That’s what we were told about King and Sotero. Yet, to this day, I still believe my eyes. I trust them. What I don’t trust are public officials who justify horrific beatings and the media that have conditioned the public to find it acceptable.

    This situation is virtually a pandemic, but how is the public to know in an era when human rights are meaningless and when the media are preoccupied with fluff? At the root of all this is perhaps what UCLA professor Otto Santa Ana has noted in “Brown Tide Rising” that in this society, human rights seemingly correspond only to human beings. Nothing short of congressional hearings are necessary to finally put an end to this travesty. But what will it take to settle the 500-year-plus debate?

    Roberto Rodriguez, who is finishing his Ph.D. in communications at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is the author of “Justice: A Question of Race.”

    And below is the video that the writer is referring to:

    “Beginnings of an Immigrant Electoral Machine…”

    In Civil Liberties, Economic Justice, Election 2006, Election 2008, Immigration, International politics, Labor, Laws & Regulation, New York City, Progressive Politics, Race, religion & politics, US Politics on November 12, 2006 at 5:20 pm

    From AlterInfos America Latino:

    A majority of voters followed this year’s immigration rallies closely and felt that Democrats did a better job on the immigration issue, according to the New Americans Exit Poll, which was conducted in New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle by researchers at Barnard College of Columbia University, the City University of New York, Loyola Marymount University, and the University of Washington…

    The surveys found that two out of three voters in New York and Seattle , and three out of four voters in Los Angeles , followed news of the immigration rallies closely or somewhat closely. The high level of interest in the immigration debate was just as prominent, if not more, among native-born voters as among foreign-born voters. Ten percent of New York voters indicated that they or a family member took part in the immigration rallies, while in Los Angeles , a stunning 33 percent of foreign-born voters and 16 percent of native-born voters participated in the rallies…
    “This was the year that immigrant groups across the nation conducted unprecedented voter education and mobilization campaigns. A new kind of immigrant voting block is forming. We have the beginnings of an immigrant electoral machine that will continue to build and flex its muscle in 2008 and beyond,” said Pramila Jayapal, executive director of Hate Free Zone, an immigrant and civil rights group based in Washington state.

    Attytood’s Rovian Conspiracy Theory

    In Culture of Corruption, Election 2006, Election 2008, Immigration, International politics, Iraq War, Labor, Laws & Regulation, Progressive Politics, US Politics on November 12, 2006 at 4:45 pm

    Intersting piece laying out why Bush-Rove may have tanked the mid-term on purpose. I don’t buy it, but it’s worth the read. Below is a snippet:

    So why in the name of God would Bush and Rove want to produce a flop in 2006?

    Well, on the domestic front, there may actually be some advantages for Bush with a Democratic Congress. For one thing, they’ll probably pass a favorite program of the president and his big-business buddies, the guest worker program for immigrants, since it was the conservatives in the House holding that up. The GOP was probably also ready to relent on the minimum wage, which was becoming a political albatross for them.

    The other stuff that Bush wouldn’t like — higher taxes on oil companies and the rich — he can always veto, if his 49 senators (nine more than necessary) don’t block a vote before it gets that far. He’s already been promised by Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean that he won’t be impeached. From what we’ve seen, Bush didn’t like the Republican leaders in Congress (especially the ousted Tom DeLay) all that much anyway.

    But it really boils down to one word:


    Some of the Benefits of Immigration

    In Immigration, International politics, Labor, Laws & Regulation, US Politics on October 26, 2006 at 10:00 am

    Just this morning, Bush signed a bill:

    Authorizing 700 miles of new fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, legislation that has fueled controversy over illegal immigration less than two weeks before crucial midterm elections…

    By signing the bill, Bush will give GOP candidates a pre-election platform for asserting they’re tough on illegal immigration. Yet the centerpiece of his immigration policy, a guest worker program, remains stalled in Congress…

    Its cost is not known, although a homeland security spending measure the president signed earlier this month makes a $1.2 billion down payment on the project. The money also can be used for access roads, vehicle barriers, lighting, high-tech equipment and other tools to secure the border…

    Others have doubts about its effectiveness.

    “A fence will slow people down by a minute or two, but if you don’t have the agents to stop them it does no good. We’re not talking about some impenetrable barrier,” T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a union representing Border Patrol agents, said Wednesday.

    In light of this, it would be good to look at anohter side of immigration. Amy Taylor over at the DMI blog wrote up a great piece yesterday about some of the ovelooked benefits of immigration.

    She says:

    High-skilled immigrant workers are crucial to our place as a competitor in the world economy. Since 1990 more than half the U.S. Nobel laureates in the sciences were foreign-born. One in five doctors are foreign-born, along with two of every five medical scientists, one of every five computer specialists, one of every six persons in engineering or science occupations, one of every four astronomers, physicists, chemical, and material scientists, and one of every six biological scientists. Since currently there is no direct route for high-skilled visa holders to stay permanently they may be pulled to other places who are actively recruiting such high-skilled workers. All of this talk of border security does not address how our economy and global competitiveness would be put at risk were we to lose our immigrants.

    No one is talking about how we need immigrants to maintain our country’s economic growth either. Our economy relies on immigrants as workers, entrepreneurs, consumers and taxpayers whose taxes support our schools, hospitals and public services. Immigrants work in every sector of the economy. Immigrant consumers stimulate demand for products produced in our economy. No one is talking about what we would do in this idealized world without immigrants when the baby boom generation retires. Immigrants are, on average, younger and have more children than the native born. We will increasingly rely on them to support our aging population. We need them to keep our Social Security system robust. Immigrants are also crucial consumers in the housing market making up 12% of first-time homebuyers in 2001. Many other industrialized nations are now facing the dilemma of how they will support their own aging populations –but we are “younging” as we age, according to William H. Frey a well-known demographer, and immigrants are to thank for that. While immigrants are told daily to be grateful they are here, we are not hearing about how grateful we should be that they are.

    All of this is good to think about. We often talk about immigrants doing jobs in the service industries that Americans don’t want to do, but we rarely think about them doing jobs that Americans can’t do – which is the case more often than one might think. People are so caught up in the image of the “illegal” immigrants and border hopping that they fail to see the more complex sides to the issue.

    The Military Commissions Act and Bush’s history of prisoner treatment

    In Children and Youth, Civil Liberties, Global War On Terror, Immigration, Laws & Regulation, Race, Terrorism, US Politics on October 21, 2006 at 11:02 am

    I was doing a little searching on the topic of the Military Commissions Act and found a great piece by Heather Wokusch at the Guerilla News Network.  I decided to repost the entire article below:

    What the Military Commissions Act of 2006 means for you

    Now that you could be labeled an enemy combatant…

    Since Congress recently handed Bush the power to identify American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” and detain them indefinitely without charge, it’s worth examining the administration’s record of prisoner abuse as well as the building of stateside detention centers.

    As Texas governor (from 1995-2000) Bush oversaw the executions of 152 prisoners, and thus became the most-killing governor in the history of the United States. Ethnic minorities, many of whom did not have access to proper legal representation, comprised a large percentage of those Bush put to death, and in one particularly egregious example, Bush executed an immigrant who hadn’t even seen a consular official from his own country (as is required by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to which the U.S. was a signatory). Bush’s explanation: “Texas did not sign the Vienna Convention, so why should we be subject to it?”

    Governor Bush also flouted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child by choosing to execute juvenile offenders, a practice shared at the time only by Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Significantly, in 1998 a full 92% of the juvenile offenders on Bush’s death row were ethnic minorities.

    Conditions inside Texan prisons during Bush’s reign were so notorious that federal Judge William Wayne Justice wrote, “Many inmates credibly testified to the existence of violence, rape and extortion in the prison system and about their own suffering from such abysmal conditions.”

    In September 1996, for example, a videotaped raid on inmates at a county jail in Texas showed guards using stun guns and an attack dog on prisoners, who were later dragged face-down back to their cells.

    Funding of mental health programs during Bush’s reign was so poor that Texan prisons had a sizeable number of mentally-impaired inmates; defying international human rights standards, these inmates ended up on death row. For instance, a prisoner named Emile Duhamel, with severe psychological disabilities and an IQ of 56, died in his Texan death-row jail cell in July 1998. Authorities blamed “natural causes” but a lack of air conditioning in cells that topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit in a summer heat wave may have killed Duhamel instead. How many other Texan prisoners died of such neglect during Bush’s governorship is unclear.

    As president, Bush presides over a prison population topping two million people, giving America the dubious distinction of having a higher percentage of its citizens behind bars than any other country. When considering that (based on 2003 figures) the US has three times more prisoners per capita than Iran and seven times more than Germany, the nation looks more like a Gulag than the Land of the Free.

    The White House has also stifled investigation into the roughly 760 aliens (mainly Muslim men) the U.S. government rounded up post-9/11, ostensibly for immigration violations. Amnesty International reports that 9/11 detainees have suffered “a pattern of physical and verbal abuse by some corrections officers” and a denial of “basic human rights.”

    Then of course, there’s Guantanamo, where the U.S. is holding hundreds of detainees in top secrecy and without access to courts, legal counsel or family visits. Add to that the thousands of Afghans and Iraqis the U.S. has imprisoned (including a large percentage of innocent civilians) and countless U.S. secret prisons across the globe, and it looks as if incarceration is the nation’s best export.

    While Abu Ghraib may have left administration officials falling over themselves with protestations of compassion, it’s worth remembering that the Bush White House has fought hard against the International Convention Against Torture, especially a proposal to establish voluntary inspections of prisons and detention centers in signatory countries, such as the United States.

    Put it all together, and last week’s passage of the Military Commissions Act is ominous for those in the U.S. As Bruce Ackerman noted recently in The Los Angeles Times, the legislation “authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any protections of the Bill of Rights.” The vague criteria for being labeled an enemy combatant (taking part in “hostilities against the United States”) don’t help either. Would that include anti-war protestors? People who criticize Bush? Unclear.

    In 2002, former Attorney General John Ashcroft called for the indefinite detainment of U.S. citizens he considered to be “enemy combatants,” and while widely criticized at the time, Congress went ahead and fulfilled Ashcroft’s nefarious vision last week. Ashcroft had also called for stateside internment camps, and accordingly, in January 2006 the U.S. government awarded a Halliburton subsidiary $385 million to build detention centers to be used for, “an unexpected influx of immigrants or to house people after a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space.” New programs that require additional detention space. Hmm.

    The disgraceful Military Commissions Act and the building of domestic internment camps are yet more examples of blowback from the administration’s so-called war on terror, and we ignore these increasing assaults on our civil liberties at our own peril.

    Action Ideas:

    1. Read the Military Commissions Act of 2006 for yourself here: Find out how your congressmembers voted on this legislation, and raise the topic when they ask for your vote this November.

    2. For more information on U.S. prisoner abuse, check out BBC’s report from 2005 entitled “Torture Inc. Americas Brutal Prisons.” Text and video versions are archived here. You can learn more about U.S. prisoner’s rights from the American Civil Liberties Union.

    3. To take action regarding “the plight of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror,“ visit Cageprisoners.com.

    GNN contributor Heather Wokusch is the author of The Progressives’ Handbook: Get the Facts and Make a Difference Now (Volumes 1 and 2). Heather can be reached at www.heatherwokusch.com.

    I strongly recommend clicking on some of the links in the article, in particular the one to Amnesty International’s article on the death penalty in Texas. While I had heard of some of this stuff before, it’s worse than I thought. Something must be done to put a stop to this madness.

    Tanzania Sees Water Privatization-Driven Resistence, Violence

    In Children and Youth, Civil Liberties, class warfare, Culture of Corruption, Economic Justice, Election 2006, Election 2008, Environment, Freedom of Speech, HIV/SIDA, Housing, Immigration, International politics, International Public Health, International Trade, Labor, Laws & Regulation, Netroots, Progressive Politics, Race, religion & politics, Terrorism, Urban Planning / Space, US Politics on October 18, 2006 at 8:45 pm

    I was living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 2003, during the “build up” to the Iraq inavsion. I was about 4 miles from the fortress that was the newly opened US Embassy — it replaced the US embassy bombed in 1998.  It was painful to be an American in another city that had also been victimized by Al-Queda (I was coming from NYC, where I was on 9/11/01) . Many of the people in Dar, like many in NYC, saw the attck on Iraq as a pitiful distraction from the true perpetrators of NYC/DC attacks in 2001, but that is a story for another day…

    While in Tanzania, I analyzed a World Bank-induced public utility privatization scheme that was clear to me to be an impending disaster. Beyond the complications that would arise from tiered access to safe water and increased prices, the sheer number of landholders without deeds in Dar es Salaam, I believed, tipped the equation of potential problems beyond even that of Bolivia’s wonderfully horrific water privatization scheme. (My opinionated, poorly written report on Dar’s plan is at my old blog. It includes interviews w officials from the city’s to-be-privatized water utility, representatives from the World Bank  and the Tanzanian government, as well as ‘everyday’ Tanzanians I played basketball with while there.)

    My study focused on the land rights of residential properties, not that of unregistered and “unofficial” businesses. The problems, though, are similar in many ways. 

    There is unfortunate news from Dar today. As reported by the BBC:

    Thousands of Tanzanian market traders are up in arms after being moved away from the centre of the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.

    More than 40,000 traders have been relocated to the city’s remote Kigogo area. They say they now have to pay taxes before they can ply their wares…

    But the government insists that the traders have been occupying space in the city centre illegally – preventing the installation of sewage and clean water pipes and reducing traffic in the busy area to a single lane… In March, two people were killed in violent clashes between police and street vendors in the northern town of Mwanza.

    Mwanza is the section I lived in and Kigogo is way out there. I mean, it is WAY out there. There is no way these vendors will be able to do the same type of business as they would in downtown Dar. Especially since much of their business is based on downtown-oriented foot traffic, as opposed to foot traffic intending to go to the market.

    This is part of a much larger conversation of the suburbanization of the poor.  It is happening in the US (usually boiled down to the concept of gentrification, although these ideas are not synonymous) and it is happening in countless cities throughout the world.

    This will have incredibly negative effects on the poor, in terms of their access to social infrastructure — transportation will be losing funding, public utilities such as electricity and water are currently being installed in cities under the guise of the economies of scale (more water users and payers in the city makes the infrastructure investment feasible) while not being supplied to the suburbs. While saying nothing of the access to health services and disaster relief infrastructure,  first-and-foremost in my book, this facilitates the deeding of the unrecorded class and, subsequently, taxation.

    If we can’t get our system implemented on them in their squatter town, the thought goes, let’s move their squatter town to where we can implement our system on them. It’s how the government makes money and maintains social control.

    Plus, the thinking follows, there’s good times to be had in the city, let’s freshen it up a bit and give the tourists access to it — those low-wage workers will find a way to get into work for them ‘cuz they got nowheres else to work… except that export processing zone

    P.S. Hey, investors! Don’t worry, those pesky “existing” Tanzanian exporters have been disallowed from investing in the EPZ… this is strictly for folks like you!

    Re-Post: The Nobel winner who wanted to make poverty a museum piece

    In Economic Justice, Housing, Immigration, International politics, International Public Health, International Trade, Labor, Laws & Regulation, Progressive Politics on October 15, 2006 at 11:50 am

    From The Guardian…

    Back in 1999 I interviewed the Nobel peace prize winner Muhammad Yunus while in Bangladesh to report on development issues. I left with a lasting impression of a humble, compassionate man with a quiet confidence in the ability of himself, his Grameen Bank colleagues and society as a whole to change the status quo in real and practical ways. These qualities are I suspect often found in people who have directly challenged unacceptable aspects of humanity. For Nelson Mandela it was apartheid, for Mahatma Gandhi it was self-rule, for Prof Yunus it is poverty.

    He told me that he had a dream of setting up a museum of poverty; a building where the children of the future would go and marvel at the phenomenon of poverty. They would ask questions which couldn’t be answered: “There was great wealth and prosperity and everyone was splurging, so why were others poor and dying?”
    To see his ideas in action, I visited a group of women in rural Bangladesh who had taken out Grameen Bank loans…

    The rest is here.

    To the States,

    In civil, Civil Liberties, Election 2006, Election 2008, Environment, Freedom of Speech, Global War On Terror, Hurricane Katrina, Immigration, International politics, Iraq War, Labor, Media Criticism, Race, religion & politics, Sexuality, Terrorism, US Politics on October 12, 2006 at 2:10 pm

    by Walt Whitman


    Why reclining, interrogating? why myself and all drowsing?

    What deepening twilight – scum floating atop of the waters,

    Who are they as bats and night-dogs askant in the capitol?

    What a filthy Presidentiad! (O South, your torrid suns! O

    North, your arctic freezings!)

    Are those really congressmen? are those the great Judges? is

    that the President?

    Then I will sleep awhile yet, for I see that these States sleep,

    for reasons;

    (With gathering murk, with muttering thunder and lambent

    shoots we all duly awake,

    South, North, East, West, inland and seaboard, we will

    surely awake.)

    Written 1891

    Minutemen Dir Says Columbia Students are “21st Century Facists”

    In Civil Liberties, class warfare, Culture jamming, Economic Justice, Election 2006, Freedom of Speech, Immigration, International Public Health, International Trade, Labor, Laws & Regulation, Media Criticism, Netroots, New York City, Progressive Politics, Race, religion & politics, Terrorism, The War On Drugs, US Politics on October 10, 2006 at 10:30 am

    Just on MSNBC…

    After saying the students at the Columbia demo against his organization last week were “the face of 21st Century Fascim,” the director accused them of calling a Minuteman supporter the N-word 12 times. The MSNBC journalist questioned, “So you’re judging the entire university by the action of a few students?” Reply: “It’s all I have to go on.”

    While I doubt they used the N-word 12 times, and I do have my misgivings with the demo, this guy is is simply a jackass.

    Did he meet one unfriendly Mexican immigrant when he was 6 years-old and use that to decide that all Mexican immigrants are evil and destrying our country? Maybe he’s like Bruce Wayne, and he saw the Joker, this case any Mexican-looking man, murder his parents and now he feels he’s justified in his xenophobic actions.

    Sorry if calling him a jackass is unjustified, but it’s all I have to go on.

    P.S.: I love the pic on the Minutemen website that has the “Columbia thugs” climbing on stage, as though they’re climbing the border fence.

    Columbia Students Invade Minutemen Project Event

    In Children and Youth, Civil Liberties, Economic Justice, Immigration, International politics, International Trade, Labor, Laws & Regulation, Netroots, New York City, Progressive Politics, Race, religion & politics, US Politics on October 5, 2006 at 8:49 am

    “As a large, vocal protest raged outside Roone Arledge Auditorium at Columbia University, Minutemen founder Jim Gilchrist was heckled and confronted onstage by students, prompting a fistfight between students and the Minutemen. According to an on-scene report, ‘there [were] at least two minutes of chaos between students, other students and the Minutemen.'” Read it at NYC Indymedia.

    I whole-heartedly support this, supposing that students first went through other means to have Gilchrist dis-invited. In late 2002, someone I know snuck into NYU’s student center ‘dressed as a Republican,’ in order to get into the student center and remove prominently placed signs promoting the “need” to invade Iraq, prepared by the College Republicans. The signs were the nauseating “if-you’re-against-this-war-than-you’re-against-getting-this-five-year-old-Iraqi-girl-medical-supplies-and-clean-drinking-water” type of signs. Through this low-key act of disobedience and the intense conversations with a small group of activist friends, I feel I came to a much clearer understanding of free speech on campus. Gilchrist is a xenophobic fascist, yes, but he also has the right to speak in public. To speak on private ground, such as a Columbia University, where student tuition pays a substatial portion of the overall bills, I believe students have the right to fight not to have someone on campus. If they went through other channels first, such as petitions and targeted media work to shame him and his inviters into cancelling the event, I support this action. I do wish they would have interrupted it loudly and with the strong message they clearly had and then allowed the mess of a show to continue. Beat back ignorance with open-mindedness and universal respect.

    In NYC’s guest-oriented college demo circuit, New School activists recently demo’ed against an appearance by New Gingrich.

    “Just a River Away”

    In class warfare, Education, Immigration, Misc., New York City, Race on October 4, 2006 at 9:01 pm

    While Manhattan takes the prize for having the widest income gap between its black and white populations, Queens has earned itself a very different distinction. In addition to being one of the country’s most ethnically diverse counties, Queens is the only large county in the U.S. where the median income of black households has surpassed that of white households. Read on for some ideas on why things are so different just across the river…