Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas from the Jew







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What the heck, how about the original, too?



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Friday, December 22, 2006

Dumb Republican criminal story


This may just be the funniest shit ever. Full email correspondence here.
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Okay, this shit is also pretty funny. The Editors announces his break from the CFL Party:


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Thursday, December 21, 2006

"Oh, you went to the London School of Economics? I've read about that recently."

Thanks for making my degree as valuable as one of Bill's old cumrags, Monica.



Well, at least she wasn't in my program.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Shelly the Fat Lady sings


Or rather, no one paid him off to say no and he never really cared.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today is set to give the nearly $4 billion Atlantic Yards project for Brooklyn a green light.

The Manhattan Democrat told the Post he'll likely have his appointee vote in favor of the controversial project at today's Public Authorities Control Board meeting, with one caveat: that Gov. Pataki not link it to "pork barrel" projects Silver opposes.

...

"If [Pataki] puts it on the PACB agenda as an individual item, not one item that is contained in a big package of pork and everything, it's a good bet that I would support it," he said.


Via NoLandGrab.

I think the simplest summation of what's wrong with the whole AY proposal and process --and really what's wrong with New York government as a whole--comes from BrooklynSpeaks.net: No Brooklyn official will get to vote on the project. A huge project in the middle of Brooklyn involving lots of public land, the exercise of eminent domain, and outright public subsidy, and no one from the affected county gets a vote. Fucking Robert Moses 2006.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Reprieve


NY1 reports:

According to a source briefed on the matter, as of now, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will not give final approval to the project before January 1st. There's word he still has financial questions about Atlantic Yards, which includes office and apartment towers and a sports arena for the Nets basketball team.

Officially, a Silver spokesperson says the speaker hasn't decided. But Silver is said to be ready to either vote no or not vote at all if the projects are put before him at a meeting of the Public Authorities Control Board this week.


Via NoLandGrab, which also links to an appraisal by Streetsblog that suggests the reporting of Atlantic Yards Report's Norman Oder may be responsible. Which, if true, is pretty cool.

UPDATE: Sigh. Or not.

Just hours after New York 1 reported that Silver — who has already killed two big development projects with his vote on the Public Authorities Control Board — would block Ratner’s Prospect Heights Xanadu before its expected approval Wednesday, Empire State Development Corporation project planners arrived in his office.

“We are in the process of being briefed on the project,” Silver spokeswoman Eileen Larrabee said.

As a result, it now appears that the PACB vote will indeed happen Wednesday. The other two men on the board — Gov. Pataki and Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (R–Rensselaer) — support the project, making Silver the target of project opponents’ last-minute hopes.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

How Many Members of NYC's Top 29 Have You Slept With?

Leave it to the New York Observer to write an unironic profile of New York's "29 Power Families."

In answer to the title's question: zero, but I've socialized with three. And by 'socialized with,' yes, Antid Oto, I am referring to that party where a certain elderly scion was drooling slack-jawed in an armchair with a drink falling out of his hand, prevented from slumping to the ground only by the efforts of his erstwhile trophy wife, she of the chunky jewelry and surged out visage. Truly, truly the very best New York has to offer.

3/29 is like 10%. Could be worse.

And at least now I have 29 New Year's resolutions.



TIIIIIINNNSSSLLLEEEEEYYYY!

Hat tip: Nearista, cuz G-d knows I wouldn't be reading the NYO on my own)

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Does the MSM really have nothing to write about other than the latest meaningless poll about Hillary's presidential run?

Well, she's finally beating potential Republican opponents.



That's all I have to say about that.

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Chickenhawks of the Sea

The US military, in a move reminiscent of this scheme, is turning sharks into spies, training them to explore waterways scouting for explosives and terrorist Snorks.



From Jim:
shark spies!!!


dolphin subject up to no good again STOP swimming suspiciously STOP recommend eating of subject STOP

and
i bought a shark in a jar this weekend. at first i was like "whoa neat looking" but now i feel displaying a dead shark in a jar may be disrespectful to our troops.

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Freedom of Assembly and Andy Samberg's Penis

There was a cool show on WBAI this morning about the parade permitting rules (you can listen to it here, click on Out FM at 11 am today). They interviewed Councilmember Rosie Mendez, Leslie Cagan from UFPJ, Chris Dunn from the NYCLU, and Mark Taylor from Assemble for Rights.

The most newsworthy moment comes about 35 minutes in, when Chris Dunn reveals a bit of insider knowledge: According to Dunn, Chris Quinn has been working hard on this behind the scenes even though she has been completely silent since the November hearings. She and the NYPD have been so evasive that everybody has been left wondering what the hell is up with her, so it's very good to hear that she's prioritizing it.

Also, Mark Taylor from Assemble for Rights rather strongly resembles Andy Samberg.



(Well, a bit, at least. Just looking for an excuse to post that, really)

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It's funny because it's true......


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Torture


We already knew our country was torturing people. But basically no one cared, because it was just a bunch of nonhuman brown Muslims. Well, now it's happened to a white Christian American. Who was arrested by accident and smuggled out notes on his torture by writing them in his Bible. That makes it real.

The first step to getting people to care about torture is to get them to see the victims as human beings. If that means using racism against itself--white Americans' identification only with white people, for example--then that's what you do. Of course it would be better if we could all see the humanity of those brown people with the funny names, but I'll settle for closing the torture rooms.

Mr. Vance is what we call a "poster boy," kids. If he's willing, he should be the first person called to testify before Congress.


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Sunday, December 17, 2006

The baiji is extinct


Sad, but more or less predicted. One of the great objections to the Three Gorges Dam, in fact, was that it would finish off the species. It has.

The Baiji is the first large mammal brought to extinction as a result of human destruction to their natural habitat and resources.



It won't be the last.

UPDATE:

(from Solomon)

I just wanted to put a photo up, because I like photos. Also, you can hear one baiji's whistle here. It's a very sad song, though. A lament.




UPDATE II:
Correction (from Gristmill):

Correction, 19 Dec 2006: This summary originally stated that the baiji was the first large aquatic mammal to be killed off by human activity. The Stellar's Sea Cow was actually the first.

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Every single picture of cats on the internet


No need to keep looking. They are all here and here.


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Saturday, December 16, 2006

This week's lies from Bruce

As The Brooklyn Papers reports this week, buried — not announced, but buried! — in a 2,000-page state document is the news that Ratner’s much-touted “economic engine for Downtown Brooklyn” is now projected to create $944 million in city and state tax revenues over the next 30 years.

Do the math: That means that the city and state — whose annual budgets are tens of billions of dollars — will see just $15 million a year in new revenues from Atlantic Yards.

And at what cost? The city and state each coughed up $100 million this summer to boost Ratner’s project — a tiny down-payment on the billions of dollars of taxpayer subsidies that will help Ratner acquire land cheaply, finance his project with low-interest bonds, and make a nice profit thanks to deferred taxes.

Three years ago, when Mayor Bloomberg and Borough President Markowitz signed onto this bad investment, Ratner was promising $6 billion in public benefit from the project. That dropped to $1.4 billion this summer and is now $944 million.

The state says that the revenue shortfall is a result of a trim in Atlantic Yards’ overall square-footage. But that, too, is a lie: the Atlantic Yards approved last week by the Empire State Development Corporation is the same size as the original project (which later grew so that Ratner could then “downsize” it and say he was “listening” to the “community”— only the New York Times, which put the “news” of the Ratner “downsizing” on its front page, bought that lie).

Ratner has trimmed the commercial component of his project — which means fewer new jobs and, therefore, less tax revenue — but that was his plan all along. From Metrotech to Atlantic Center to Atlantic Terminal, Ratner has a track record of promising lots of new office jobs and then not delivering. His three office complexes are filled with public, taxpayer-funded offices — the ESDC itself is housed in Atlantic Center! — guaranteeing Ratner’s profit.


I don't know what to add to that, except to note that thanks to New York's lovely three-men-in-a-room system of governance, the entire decision basically comes down to Shelly Silver.

The state’s Public Authorities Control Board is expected to consider the project on Wednesday. That obscure body is controlled by just three men: Gov. Pataki, Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (R-Rensselaer) and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan).


Silver did vote against the West Side Stadium project, but it's generally believed he was pissed that his downtown backers weren't getting their slice of the graft. Which means the essential hope here is that Ratner didn't learn anything from the Jets. Which seems to me unlikely. Bruce is pretty good at payoffs.

One last lie: Just last week Charlie Gargano (ESDC Chair) said there were no plans to use eminent domain within the project's footprint. This week?

More than 30 property owners within the footprint of the developer’s Atlantic Yards project were told this week that state officials had commenced eminent domain proceedings — beginning the condemnation of private property for the $4-billion residential, office and arena project before it even wins final approval.

The jargon-heavy letter — whose salutation was “Dear interested party” — told owners they had until only Jan. 11 to seek “judicial review” of the “determination” that the state could take their property and turn it over to Ratner.


You know what frustrates me the most about this whole sad parade of obvious lies and their inevitable exposure met with shrugs? That Brooklyn/New York politics are so goddamn corrupt that ultimately, I don't believe anyone will pay the price. Every palm will get to keep its grease, no one will lose his office, and we will all pay exorbitantly so Bruce Ratner can get even richer.

UPDATE: (via NoLandGrab)

Mike Lupica points out one more lie:

You know what else was in the new plan approved by the ESDC?

Language that wasn't in there before about what happens to the project if Ratner sells the Nets.

According to Ratner and Markowitz of Brooklyn, head cheerleader for the project from the start, this was supposed to be all about sports.

Sports was just a way to get Ratner's foot in the door.

This was always about the real estate.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Irony.


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Probably insane.


So now we're supposed to listen to the guy who dreamed up Star Wars?

Actually, if it works... I would love to believe this country will apply itself, Manhattan Projectstyle, to reducing carbon emissions, but let's be brutally honest: we probably won't do it in time. It's 50 degrees here in Brooklyn today, in the middle of December, and it's been this warm all week. Weather is getting way too freaky. If we can buy ourselves more time by spreading sulfur particles in the upper atmosphere (and by the way, more time at this point means more than 10 yearswe only have 10 years or so to avert total catastrophe), we may need to do it.

Meanwhile, Grist has been running an interesting series on biofuels. More information than you could ever digest (haws! digest! corn! get it?), all in one place.


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Sean Bell protest

From mole333:

Start: 2006-12-16 11:30
Timezone: US/Eastern
description:

March for Justice with DFNYC, Community Leaders and Sean Bell's Family - Sat. Dec 16, 11:30am

-Meet at 59th Street & 5th Avenue

Community leaders from all over the City have planned a citywide call to action for prompt and decisive action to protest misconduct in the shootings of three young men by the NYPD on November 25. A massive "March for Justice," will take place this Saturday, December 16th, beginning at 11:30 am at 59th Street & 5th Avenue.

Democracy for NYC along with Community Free Democrats and Three Parks Independent Democrats are joining our elected officials, civic and community leaders, and union members in a show of unity. Please join us Saturday. Let us know if you're coming.

To join our group, email Bernadette at bevangelist@dfnyc.org.

For more information about the march, contact 212-408-8416.

NOTES: I should note that Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats is also spreading the word about this. I also should note that I have been told that this is not a permitted march, but that the police will not interfere. Joy and I will try to be there.
Location:
Meet at 59th Street & 5th Avenue in Manhattan
Sponsor:
DFNYC, CBID, Community Free Democrats and Three Parks Independent Democrats
RSVP:
bevangelist@dfnyc.org


I've read elsewhere on local blogs that not getting a permit for a march heading down Fifth Avenue during Christmas season was a deliberate provocation. Fifth Ave. businesses are not going to be happy. I really hope the police don't interfere. It could get ugly.

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Suck it.


I knew I was smarter. You know how I knew? Cause I'm smart.

Coco again.


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Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Pope is gay.


You thought America was the only place to find gay-bashing right-wing closet cases? Think again.


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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

BAAAAASTAAAAAAAARDS!

Republican City Council members James S. Oddo, Dennis P. Gallagher, and Andrew J. Lanz have just earned Left Behinds' eternal enmity. No, not for their weak, half-assed attempt to pander to those few with nothing better to be outraged about than the New York Daily News's ginned-up scandal of the slow news day. For this:

They added, “The fact that CUNY employees would attempt to defend this outrage begs the question: ‘What is going on over at CUNY?’ ”


You'd almost think they weren't listening. Left Behinds has issued an official ban on that particular abuse of English. Fortunately, at least two of the abusers, Councilmen Oddo and Gallagher, have taken strong stands against the dilution of our precious language. So I'm sure they'll fire the underling(s) responsible very soon.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Bro-Back Mountain


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Sunday, December 10, 2006

"Horrifying and delicious"



From Coco.

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Saturday, December 09, 2006

How do you like Houston St. these days?

In under ten years it's been transformed from a big thoroughfare with lots of little shops to a glittering, soulless arcade lined with giant billboards. A smaller version of Times Square.

Well hellooooooooo, Brooklyn!



[N]ew state renderings ... show 15-story illuminated advertising billboards on either side of the development’s main building.
[...]
Two 150-foot-tall illuminated billboards on either side of the “Urban Room” atrium at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues would constantly bathe “Brooklyn’s famed brownstones ... in the light from 15-story beer ads,” said Kevin Fry, [Scenic America's] president.

The billboards only came to light last week, as part of the state’s hurriedly prepared final environmental impact statement for the $4.2-billion project...

Such billboards are illegal under New York City zoning — but that law is one of many local codes being superceded by the state in its approval of Atlantic Yards.


It's not so bad, though. Bruce promises.

Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner has said that light from the signs would only be turned up to maximum settings on game nights.


And if you believe that makes a difference, I've got a bridge a dozen blocks away I'd like to sell you.

In further silly Ratner news:

Ratner stoop really blows

State officials revealed this week that the large outdoor flight of stairs — central feature of Bruce Ratner’s mega-development — will be too windy for sitting or dining 61 percent of the time.

The state wind impact report shows that gusts would frequently exceed seven miles per hour —the threshold for comfortable “leisure sitting” or “dining,” as the report defines it — thanks to new wind patterns resulting from Ratner’s $4.2-billion, 16-tower arena, hotel, residential and office complex.

The front stoop, the report said, is only suitable for standing and walking — despite Gehry’s renderings that show people sitting and dining at outdoor cafe tables at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.

“[The stoop area has] the highest predicted wind speeds as a result of the canyon effect caused by the buildings on either side,” the report said.


Okay, make that a cross between Times Square and the UN complex. Best. Urban Renewal project. EVAR!

UPDATE: In other news, Norman Oder reports that In 15 minutes, four ESDC board members approve AY project:

Yes, it was rubberstamped. Even though Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) Chairman Charles Gargano had said in a radio interview Thursday that “it’ll be up to the board members to vote yes or no” on the Atlantic Yards project, the press release had already been prepared when the 3:30 pm board meeting began yesterday.


My precious illusions, they are dashed.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Anniversary Post: World of Hip-Hop

I was going to do a music recommendation post, but sadly I don't have time and Solomon seems to have been felled by some horrible infection, so you're going to have to make do with a hip-hop sampling from around the globe. Six below the fold. Feel free to recommend music anyway, we can start a whole discussion thing.



Uganda: Saba Saba


Hong Kong: LMF


Germany: Azad


UK: Roll Deep


Senegal: Daara J


Uganda: Rah P





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Anniversary Post: Why I am a Liberal, or the Individual-Choice Fallacy

The post directly below this one represents a consumer, nonliberal model of responding to a liberal concern. I don’t say that to denigrate the Fair Trade Fair: given a nation bent on unfair trade policies, individual consumer choice is a way for each of us individually to lessen his or her moral culpability, if only a little. As Gandhi admonished, “You must be the change you seek in the world.” That is necessary. But of course it is not sufficient.

Last spring Solomon and I attended a lecture given by a friend of mine, Damon Rich (co-founder of the Center for Urban Pedagogy). I’ve been pestering him to send me a copy ever since, and finally he did. The talk touched on a few topics; one of them was the transformation of Soho from light industrial space to artists’ lofts and then finally to high-end apartments and retail. It’s a transformation that has been repeated, as this article by Mike Muller describes (h/t Phoebe), in the East Village, Williamsburg, and now the Fulton Mall and Bushwick.

From Soho to the Lower East Side to Williamsburg, the story has been more or less the same – artists move in, eventually helping to cause the neighborhood to go through sweeping changes, which results in hardship for local families and businesses -- as well as for the artists themselves.


In his speech (that post of his PDF will work only for 7 days, so if anyone knows a better way to host a file please let me know), Rich summarizes the narrative as it pertains to Soho this way:

In her book Loft Living: Culture and Capital in Urban Change, Sharon Zukin has written a careful and detailed story about the transformation of Soho in New York City from manufacturing district to chic residential neighborhood, the origin story of contemporary gentrification. In her narrative of urban change, she emphatically claims to depart from “the usual account of the rise of loft living.” She summarizes this usual and incorrect account as follows:

…loft living is the spontaneous result of “market forces.” The presence or supply of underused loft buildings supposedly inspired an inventive adaptation. Demand for lofts emerged among worthy, though unworldly, artists and performers. They settled bravely in the urban tundras and carved neighborhoods out of the wilderness. Just when they had succeeded in taming their castiron environment, a band of new arrivals – who were interested in domesticating an industrial aesthetic – moved in on their territory. Recognizing neither claims nor conventions, this wave of loft tenants bid up property values, started boutiques, and crowded the original settlers with their purely residential ethos. (Zukin, 174)


This story, according to Zukin, “is mythology, not urban history.”


There’s a hidden assumption in this familiar story: that these changes are brought about primarily by collections of renters’ individual choices. From Rich’s speech again:

I'm the reason that your block is vacant/
Malicious will hit ya just to make a statement.
–“What Happened to That Boy”

Spelled out over a lopsided videogame beat, Malice of hip-hop duo the Clipse offers one explanation for the boarded-up, grown over, and graffiti-covered block on the cover of his album. While a policy analyst might attribute abandonment in US cities to deindustrialization, white flight, or government funding of superhighways, our boastful narrator takes personal credit for a devastated streetscape. What could be construed as a diffuse, natural, or inevitable process of change becomes a product of individual will.

For many, the word “gentrification” has come to serve the same function, putting an agent – the “gentrifier” – in the driver’s seat of urban change. It draws a clear image of a complex process. More urbanites know and talk about gentrification than about zoning, tax credits, or other more direct causes of urban change. While activists have shifted away from it, “gentrification” has become generalized shorthand in Friendster culture. Gentrification receives so much attention from this group in particular – young, upwardly mobile students and culture workers – because, as with the epigraph, the claim to agency is self-referential; it could be written “I’m the reason your block has a Starbuck’s!”


Taken to its extreme, this attitude leads to the nonsensical solution offered by a guest at a summer party of mine. She said she had a pair of friends who had decided, as a matter of principle, to pay as much in rent as they could possibly afford. And she looked genuinely confused when I laughed and said that was absolutely ridiculous. Attachment to the consumer model of self-empowerment runs deep.

In fact, as Rich details, Soho’s transformation occurred as the result of a deliberate alliance between advocates for artists and farseeing property owners interested in ousting their light-manufacturing tenants and turning their space to more lucrative purposes. To property owners, artists were always a temporary means to an end.

The point is that the self-interest of the artists – living in lofts – strategically aligned with long-term elite plans for creating higher economic uses – getting small manufacturers out of the lofts as part of the deindustrialization of lower Manhattan. At the time, the artists’ movement was happy to receive elite support voiced in terms of the importance of the arts, even though the larger goal was the reorganization of the economy.


Returning to that Gotham Gazette story, we can see the exact same thing happening again.

Greenpoint and Williamsburg are famous internationally as artistic communities, but they weren’t always so popular, and their zoning reflected that. To address the new attraction of the area, it was rezoned last year to allow for larger developments and more residential buildings. The rezoning was heralded by officials as a model of gentrification that would benefit everyone. Thirty-three percent of the housing units to be created were estimated to be affordably priced, there was money set aside to assist tenants in relocating and for legal aid, and anti harassment laws were strengthened.
[…]
Artists are not necessarily in direct competition with industrial businesses: Artist work/live space is allowed within many manufacturing zones, and expanding the number of these in Greenpoint was proposed as part of that community's rezoning plan, though ultimately rejected in the city's 2005 rezoning plan. Adam Friedman, executive director of the New York Industrial Retention Network , an advocacy group, likes to note that many of the industrial jobs still in the city are artisans.

But many landlords illegally convert their warehouses for much more lucrative residential use under the guise of creating work space for artists.

A New York Industrial Retention Network report, published in 2004, found that 27 buildings in East Williamsburg alone have carried out illegal conversions, which is estimated to equal 500,000 square feet. Another building in the area, 255 McKibbin St., was issued $6,150 in fines for such violations, of which only $1,150 was paid, yet was still approved in 2003 to begin legally offering work/live space for artists in the building, the report shows.


(Incidentally, I think I know that building on McKibbin.)

Rich:

Those upset by the implication of the arts in urban upscaling are understandably less organized, but some of the most upset start groups. A few years ago some people in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Brooklyn founded Gentrifiers against Gentrification (GAG). The April 9, 2001 issue of Inner City Press (www.innercitypress.org), the newsletter of an economic justice organization based in the Bronx, reported on a forum held at New York University about gentrification.

During the question-and-answer period, some NYU students who have moved to Bushwick [Brooklyn] (as the first wave of gentrification) stated that they were trying to be "socially responsible" -- they've even formed a group, called "Gentrifiers Against Gentrification." The problem is, their willingness to pay more money than the neighborhood's current residents, for lofts and other space, speaks for itself, and has its own implications. Why not Jamaica, Queens, they were asked? Or Ozone Park?


Despite their best intentions, the aspiring practitioners of social responsibility are reduced to economic actors making life difficult for others with less money.


Ultimately, problems created by markets cannot be countered solely through collections of more enlightened individual choices, nor even through the creation of well-meaning nonprofit organizations. Only collective action can equal the power of major property-owners in this city—and that means government action. It is true that our governments are too often captured by private power, and it is also true that they will always be captured by private power to some extent. Unless you want to get revolutionary, there is nothing to be done about that. Government is the only tool ordinary people have to match those more powerful than them—and make no mistake, ownership is power.

That idea—that government should be used to defend the interests of average people against the powerful few—is a distinctive feature of liberalism, and I rarely see it described explicitly as such.




Left Behinds is exactly one year old today.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

First Annual Fair Trade Fair

For your Christmas, Holiday, or Festival-of-Satan's-Blood shopping needs.

First Annual Fair Trade Fair: Saturday 12/9, 11am - 4pm

The New York City Fair Trade Coalition co-hosts:

the FIRST ANNUAL FAIR TRADE FAIR
in partnership with Oxfam@NYU and Judson Memorial Church

Buy fair trade for the holidays and shop your conscience
-Artisanal Goods
-Clothing & Accessories
-Coffee & Chocolate
-Bake Sale

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9th 11 am – 4 pm
JUDSON MEMORIAL CHURCH ASSEMBLY HALL
239 Thompson Street (South of Washington Square Park between 3rd and 4th Streets)
NO ENTRANCE FEE

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Results Are In: The Adam Green Party Surges in a Groundswell of Brooklyn Support

The coverup has been defeated. Adam Green, the official Left Behinds and Gatemouth candidate for New York State Comptroller, made an electoral sweep across large swaths of Brooklyn. He came in a resounding seventh in Kings County, ahead of such political heavyweights as Donald Trump, Harriet Tubman, Mickey Mouse, and "Neither Asshole" (all actual write-in candidates). I feel almost as proud of my influence as when I was on the staff of Mark Green's mayoral campaign!

In further shocking news, careful analysis of BoE data suggests that loyal followers of Left Behinds and Gatemouth reside primarily in Williamsburg and Park Slope.

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How Cocaine Is Made



This is pretty fascinating. It's sort of gross how unsanitary the process is (is that a snot rag they're using as a filter?), but then again this is only half the process. A lot more chemical reactions happen that result in pure cocaine minus the Colombian foot grease, etc.

But I was surprised by how a whole room full of coca leaves produces a little ball of crack goo the size of an apple (which is then further refines to produced market-ready cocaine the size of, I'm guessing, a crabapple. The plants must not have very much of the alkaloid in them.

Plus the conditions of the workers is disturbing. Notice the guy's big smile at the end when he describes what his employers do if they catch any of the workers sampling the product.

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Fundraiser Tonight

I don't have a good sense of the demographics of our readers, but there are probably a couple queer people living in NYC, so for them I repost the following (and QEJ is a great group).

PRIDE AT WORK

invites you to the

New York City Chapter
FUND RAISER

for
QUEERS FOR ECONOMIC JUSTICE’s
Immigrant Rights Project

Drinks, snacks, raffle, and socialize!


PLACE: BARRAGE - 401 W 47TH (BETWEEN 9TH & 10TH)
DATE: DECEMBER 5, 2006
TIME: 6:30 PM TO 8:00 PM
COST: $35.00 ($25 P@W MEMBERSHIP + $10 DONATION to QEJ)


BRING FRIENDS

SOCIALIZE

DONATE


The Immigrant Rights Project (IRP)is a project of Queers for Economic Justice.

The project works to advocate for the rights of LGBT immigrants and has been organizing to put immigrant rights at the center of the LGBT movement and queer rights at the center of the immigrant rights movement.
IRP has organized a coalition of LGBT immigrant rights organizations across the country to put together the first national queer vision statement on immigration. Currently the project is also engaged in advocacy efforts to lift the HIV Ban on Immigrants, and in the State of New York, advocating with Eliot Spitzer to reduce discriminatory drivers’ license requirements and for New York to opt out of the harsh federal proof of identification laws.

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Left Behinds Stocking Stuffers

Left Behind: The Game. Can you say whoah?

Plot introduction

Taking as its premise a Rapture which takes from the earth all believers in Jesus Christ, the story is from the viewpoint of those who are not taken. The initial group have family or friends that believe, and they experience the dramatic events that follow having been "Left Behind".


Basically, various characters fight the non-believers on the streets of New York City.

# Command your forces through intense battles across a breathtaking, authentic depiction of New York City.


# Control more than 30 units types - from Prayer Warrior and Hellraiser to Spies, Special Forces and Battle Tanks!


# Enjoy a robust single player experience across dozens of New York City maps in Story Mode – fighting in China Town , SoHo , Uptown and more!


Could we coordinate a field trip to Circuit City or somewhere to play it?



There is also, of course, the movie series (starring Kirk Cameron, no less!). You can watch the whole thing on Youtube, but I like this Johnny Cash version.

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RNC Aftermath

It looks like a recent court decision in three RNC cases was huge and could lead to massive damages awarded to the many people fucked over by the City during the RNC protests two years ago.

From OnNYTurf,

Last week a court ruled that the NYPD has admitted it has no evidence for arresting 23 out of 24 people in a mass roundup during the RNC. This ruling is a likely forecast of things to come in thousands of RNC false arrest lawsuits the city is facing for NYPD mass arrests made during the Republican National Convention period in NYC in 2004. The NYPD admission is hugely significant in that it basically means the NYPD had no grounds for having arrested and detained 23 out of 24 plaintiffs in these cases.

Legal experts predict this admission just about guarantees that the city will pay millions of dollars to these people in damages for being falsely arrested. And these are just some of the first RNC cases among thousands winding their way through NY courts.

In Washington DC, a very similar lawsuit was just settled a few weeks ago, in which 7 people were awarded damages of $635,000 after the DC police admitted to sweeping people off the streets on erroneous charges and detaining them for prolonged periods of time during 2001 Bush inauguration protests.


It almost makes me wish I had gotten arrested.

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False Needs

In One-Dimensional Man, Herbert Marcuse elaborated on Marx's distinction between true and false needs.

“False” are those which are superimposed upon the individual by particular social interests in his repression: the needs which perpetuate toil, aggressiveness, misery, and injustice. Their satisfaction might be most gratifying to the individual, but this happiness is not a condition which has to be maintained and protected if it serves to arrest the development of the ability (his own and others) to recognize the disease of the whole and grasp the chances of curing the disease. The result then is euphoria in unhappiness. Most of the prevailing needs to relax, to have fun, to behave and consume in accordance with the advertisements, to love and hate what others love and hate, belong to this category of false needs.
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In the last analysis, the question of what are true and false needs must be answered by the individuals themselves, but only in the last analysis; that is, if and when they are free to give their own answer.
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The optimal goal is the replacement of false needs by true ones, the abandonment of repressive satisfaction.
This discussion of euphoria in unhappiness was brought to mind when I was recently sent this video (not safe for work, btw, or school or home or anywhere, really).

Where does this sort of need come from? Whose social interest is served by creating the scenario in which this particular desire must be urgently tended to? What diabolical coterie came up with the idea of manufacturing this particular pursuit? Wasn't it Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams who said, "if you build the fannyless pterodactyl costume, they will cum?"

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Free software


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Unacceptable

Remember when Matt Taibbi asked when Joe Biden would become fair game?

[L]istening to Joe Biden sound self-righteous about anything makes me want to puke my guts out. I don't know what it is about him.

Maybe it's that creepy poof of blow-dried gray pubic fuzz he has now covering up that dime-store plug job on his head. Maybe it's the fact that he's been ponderously wondering aloud about his chances for the White House for 18 straight years, his painfully obvious hard-on for power straining against his suit-slacks, ever since a plagiarism scandal and an aneurysm knocked him out of his first run. Maybe it's that his idea of outflanking the Republican Party is outspending them on the War on Drugs.

Or maybe it's just that Biden, more than almost anyone in American public life, will do or say anything that he thinks will secure him even the most temporary electoral advantage.


Well, he's about to become fair game in a big way, because he just pandered in the wrong way to the wrong people.

The senator then pounced on a member’s announcement that the club would hold its annual Christmas party at the state Department of Archives and History where members could view the original copy of the state’s Articles of Secession.

Biden asked, “Where else could I go to a Rotary Club where (for a) Christmas party the highlight is looking at the Articles?”

Biden was on a roll.

Delaware, he noted, was a “slave state that fought beside the North. That’s only because we couldn’t figure out how to get to the South. There were a couple of states in the way.”


Bye bye, Joe.

ht CorrenteWire

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Just fucking pathetic and tragic


The lead sentence says it all.

More than 15 months after Hurricane Katrina, Mayor Ray Nagin is ready to open a city office to direct New Orleans' recovery.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Someone went to an awful lot of trouble to make this


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Trevor Paglen

If you get a chance in the next couple of weeks, check out Trevor Paglen's show BLACK WORLD at Bellwether Gallery (10th Ave. between 18th and 19th). Paglen photographs and videotapes secret government bases through telescopes from around 20 miles away; the videos in particular shimmer like the surface of a scrying pool. More recently, Paglen has gotten interested in the CIA's use of shell companies and clandestine flights to transport suspects to unacknowledged prisons in Eastern Europe. He had an article on the subject in the Village Voice and has a book coming out in a few days. His main website is here, and here's a 10 minute video about his work.

Perhaps my favorite piece is a simple 2-minute video taken at a distance of a mile, showing commuters at McCarran airport in Las Vegas getting on the 737 to either Area 51 or the Tonopah Test Range. They're ordinary fat Americans and they waddle, which tickles me. His photo of the "Salt Pit" CIA interrogation facility outside Kabul is also quite moving, in the hell-looks-like-an-ordinary-building sense.

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Saturday, December 02, 2006

It's hard being me


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Friday, December 01, 2006

Matt Taibbi breaks down the Litvinenko murder theories


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So cute


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Hating on Obama, Sirota edition


Solomon and I have been saying for a while now that Obama has no real substance to him. Reread his speech at the 2004 Democratic convention. It was pretty good but not amazing, a mix of impressive turns of phrase and pablum. Even when it sounds its best it's utterly contentless, demanding no decisions or commitments. I understand why: the speech was intended to pump up John Kerry, and it's very difficult if not impossible to make decisions or commitments on behalf of someone who refuses to make any. (Compare it to Bill Clinton's speech at the same convention, where he lays out a clear philosophy of government.) But since then, whenever we've seen him on TV he's been the epitome of a difference-splitting Senator. What's more, he's taken no strong public stands on anything despite being one of the Democrats' biggest stars.

David Sirota describes clearly the danger for liberals (as distinct from Democrats) of embracing a pretty face with no substance just now:

[D]on't fool yourself: a movement that rushes to embrace a candidate without demanding that candidate actually lead on the issues that the movement is supposed to be about - well, that could be a death blow for what we are working toward. Movements move because leaders lead and because they wield power by forcing politicians to stand up for people. Movements are killed by false prophets, cults of personality and by the unwillingness of those in the movement to wield their power for their agenda.

Look, I'm willing to admit that maybe it's true: maybe in this age of cynicism where people have completely given up on the idea that government can do anything, all the country really wants is a great orator who nebulously "connects" - a talk show host President who makes us feel good when he's on TV, even as he refuses to use his power to actually change anything. But I think now, more than ever, people are looking for a conviction politician - someone who has either done something, or at least used their platform to try to do something through raising taboo issues.


There's no way we should even be discussing Obama as a presidential possibility in 2008.

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50 Shots

Here's the new song by mixtape rapper Papoose about the Sean Bell NYPD shooting.

I like the sentiment, like in this line about Bloomberg:

"Some say he spoke illogically. / He got some better manners, / but let's see if we get some better policy. / Don't fall for it, it's all tricknology."

But that has to be the most awkward flow I've heard in a long, long time.


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Sometimes the exigencies of the revolution necessitate the advancement of praxis over theory


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Sexual Abuse in Africa


Dear god. That's just...I don't even know what to say.



On a side note, can we all just agree that today's feminism is about this sort of problem and not, for example, one's proper position vis-a-vis "Girls Gone Wild culture"? (Yes, for the 99.9% of you who don't get it, that's an inside joke. Sometimes I'm like that.)


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