Sunday, August 31, 2008
As Mayor Michael Bloomberg marches onward with the gentrification of New York City, the landscape and the ethnicity of neighborhoods changes rapidly. Some call it urban renewal and some call it opportunity. But however one prefers to call it, the personality and flavor of the "hoods" that once were, are being removed. Sadly, never to be seen again.
And as the "Egg cream" became extinct so goes the sounds,colors and the voices of the places that we once called home.
YFP is proud to present a series dedicated to some of those people, brought to you by documentarian, Christopher Williams.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
from a review by Mshale.com reporter Anna Otieno:
Exactly what is “The American Dream”? For some it’s the ability to achieve one’s goals in America through the simple combination of freedom, opportunity and hard work. For others it’s a notion that ironically is best fulfilled abroad. More and more African Americans are leaving the United States to chase the American dream … in South Africa. And Blacks Without Borders, a documentary produced by Stafford U. Bailey and Judy Thayer–Bailey of 20 Four Productions, has chronicled this movement by following the journey twelve African Americans who are living fulfilling lives in South Africa.
Blacks Without Borders is a documentary, but it also aims to be a window of opportunity for African Americans of all ages. Bailey and Thayer-Bailey hope to show their documentary to teenagers as well as adults - just one glimpse may be enough to stretch the international potential of “The American Dream.”
Writer Fungai Maboreke will kick off a discussion following the film: What is the African point of view? Will this help or hinder Africa? Is there really an "American Dream?" Come share your views!
Venue: Global Information Network
146 W. 29th St Suite 7E
Between 6th & 7th Avenues
Time: 7 p.m. Please RSVP! Seats are limited.
Call 212-244-7480 or 212-244-3123
Bring munchies, snacks, home cooked things, etc
Date: Sept. 5, 2008 Friday
Last updated: 1 hour ago
The nation has been abuzz today with talk of Sarah Palin, John McCain's surprise vice-presidential pick. Rest assured, that the internet is always five steps ahead, and on to the next story. So today, the story has been the occasionally touched upon controversy regarding Trig Palin, her youngest child. Apparently, there has been suspicion, some reported on in Alaska before the Vice Presidential buzz, that the child actually belongs to her daughter, Bristol Palin.
Normally this would be a personal issue, but this becomes a public matter because of Sarah Palin's stance against abortion and birth control. The story seems ludicrious, and surely the GOP workers that vetted her would have stopped McCain from choosing her if anything like this were true. Even if it is entirely false and ludicrous, people are talking about it, and are quite interested in it. I've seen it discussed on quite a few both liberal and conservative forums on the internet. It is absurd to believe Barack Obama is a Muslim, but that hasn't stopped people.
I was hoping you at CNN could put to rest or shed some light on these stories. The believers have a few scattered points:
1. Bristol Palin left school for an extended period of time, due to mononucleosis according to her family for the last 4-5 months of Trig's pregnancy. Some classmates claimed later that they had seen Bristol Palin pregnant.
2. Sarah Palin did not reveal to anyone outside her family that she was pregnant until 8 months into her pregnancy. Even then, she showed no signs of pregnancy. Alaskan news outlets commented on this, but did not go further. There are pictures of her at Super Tuesday (just a month before the baby was born). http://www.adn.com/politics/story/339576.html She is notably a very trim woman, so it would likely be difficult to hide a pregnancy.
3. There are supposed photos showing Bristol Palin having gained weight, possibly significantly so in the abdomen. I haven't been able to verify these.
4. Sarah Palin went into labor in Dallas just before she was due to deliver a keynote address at the Republican Governors' Energy Conference, and flew to Seattle, then Alaska while still in labor. http://www.newsminer.com/news/2008/apr/22/palins-flight-labor-falls-under-scrutiny/ Supposedly, she was in labor during the 8 hour flight, and the crew and attendants did not know. (Quote from the Article Above): ""Governor Palin was extremely pleasant to flight attendants and her stage of pregnancy was not apparent by observation as she didn't show any signs of distress," Boren said." This is extremely risky behavior, and you are advised by doctors, traditionally, not to fly once you are past 7 months pregnant. If airlines are made aware, sometimes they will prevent you from flying. Sarah Palin did not inform the flight.
5. Sarah has had four children before, and a prolonged labor that lasted a flight from Dallas to Alaska is extremely unlikely, as labor times usually decrease with the number of births.
6. There is also some rumor of an interview with a co-worker of Todd Palin at the oil fields in Prudhoe Bay (North Slope, where Todd Palin worked for BP), though I haven't been able to verify this. The co-worker claims Todd told him of the situation, supposedly.
7. Likewise, there were at the time a few classmates of Bristol's that claimed they had seen her pregnant.
8. Sarah Palin appeared 4 months before the baby's birth in Vogue magazine, and was "trim and lithe." (Searching for photos.) Now, the counterpoints are that: -Of course, this is all very far-fetched. Republicans would have vetted her and this would have never slipped past them -She may not have been showing the pregnancy, despite her trim and slim frame, because of the low birthweight of infants with Downs Syndrome. -Mothers at 44 (as Sarah Palin is), have an extremely high rate of Downs Syndrome in their children.
However, this does not exclude Bristol Palin, as very young mothers also have an increased risk of Downs Syndrome in their children. The attached photo is Sarah Palin at Super Tuesday (2-05-08), credit to Brian Wallace of the Juneau Empire. I had another photo of Palin at the Dallas RGEC, but I cannot seem to locate it.
I was hoping you could just clear this matter up. It might make interesting filler, to have a story on what the internet has been talking about!
Paul Tosone Atlanta, GA
Cover-up? Alaska Gov. Palin (R) announced she was pregnant. Local rumors suggest she is covering up for her 16 y/o daughter. (self.politics)
submitted 4 months ago by jibegod to politics
On March 5th, 2008 Alaska's Republican Governor, Sarah Palin, announced to the media that she was 7 months pregnant with her 5th child. She is currently 44.
The controversy arises from two sources: First, Palin does not appear preganant in any recent photographs. The announcement came as quite a shock to people who had worked closely with her, and have been quoted as saying that she did not appear pregnant whatsoever during the prior 7 months. While this is debatable, you can judge for yourself here: http://gov.state.ak.us/photos.php
Second, Palin's daughter Bristol is 16 and attends an Anchorage high school. Students who have attended class with her report that she has been out of school for months, claiming a prolonged case of mono.
Apparently, this rumor has made the rounds in the upper echelon of the Alaska legislature, and is a closely guarded secret. As far as I know, this rumor has not been discussed by any media outlets, in Alaska or otherwise.
The points here are based mostly upon hearsay, and I'm not trying to destroy an innocent family. However, a Republican politician hiding a pregnant teenage daughter seems rather newsworthy.
Much more to come.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Todd Palin, who took college courses, but does not have a degree, said he is grateful for the training he received from the multinational oil company BP starting in 1989.Until recently, he earned hourly wages as a production operator in a BP-run facility that separates oil from gas and water. Palin was making between $100,000 and $120,000 a year before he went on leave in December to make more time for his family and avoid potential conflicts of interest. London-based BP is heavily involved in the gas pipeline negotiations with his wife's administration
Aug 19 (GIN) –Thousands of infants are dying from sickle-cell anemia yearly in Nigeria – one of the highest rates in all Africa, reports the head of the country’s sickle-cell foundation.
"This genetic disorder alone accounts for eight percent of infant mortality in Nigeria, which calls for urgent attention," said foundation head Sadiq Wali.
Meanwhile, Xechem Nigeria will boost production of Nicosan -- used in the treatment of sickle cell disease -- to 50,000 capsules daily in the next six to nine months when a new plant in Abuja, Nigeria, opens. The plant was financed with a two loans, one from the Nigerian Export-Import Bank and another from a U.S. bank.
Xechem International, a New Jersey company, holds exclusive world-wide rights to Nicosan. On July 6, 2006 the drug was officially launched in Nigeria, with the President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, in attendance.
According to the World Health Organisation, an average 200,000 infants are born with sickle-cell in Africa, with 150,000 of them found in Nigeria.
Aug 25th 2008By Tom Radler
While Catholic school girls have long garnered attention from the opposite sex, their habit-wearing teachers have never been known for their sex appeal. Nuns seem to be OK with that -- after all, one doesn't pursue an austere life because she wants to get whistles from construction workers. But an enterprising Italian priest is now hoping to cast a spotlight on the sisterhood by holding the first beauty pageant exclusively for nuns called "Miss Sister Italy.""Nuns are above all women and beauty is a gift from God," said priest Antonio Rungi of the southern Italian diocese of Modragone.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
Cindy McCain's half sister is planning on voting for Barack Obama, she tells Usmagazine.com.
"I'm voting for Obama," the Phoenix resident says. "I think his proposals to improve the country are more positive and I'm not a big war believer."
Portalski, 65, and the potential first lady, 54, have the same father: Jim Hensley, the founder of the beer distributor Hensley and Co. that Cindy McCain now chairs.
Portalski's mother is Hensley's first wife; Cindy McCain's mother, Marguerite Hensley, also had another daughter from her first marriage.
Portalski also doesn't expect Cindy McCain to make an effort to reconcile their relationship.
"She never has, and I doubt that she ever will," she tells Us.
"I wouldn't vote for John McCain if he was a Democrat," he tells Us. "I would not vote at all before I'd vote for him.
"I question whether Cindy is someone I'd want to see in the White House as first lady," he adds.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Here's Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver earlier this afternoon during David Paterson's convention speech, in which the governor praised Barack Obama as the best candidate for disabled Americans and offered sharp criticism of John McCain.
“Wages are declining while inflation is at a 17-year high,” Paterson said, who went on to say the “promise of America has also diminished for people with disabilities.”
“Which of the candidates will make the change that will restore the promise of America? Well, let see. Is it John McCain,” he asked. After the crowd shouted, “No!,” Paterson said, “No? I’m shocked.” He went to say, “in 2007, John McCain voted with the administration 95 percent of the time. read more »
Posted on Tuesday, August 26, 2008 12:17:56 AM by mowowie
DENVER (CBS4) ― CBS4 has now learned at least four people are under arrest in connection with a possible plot to kill Barack Obama at his Thursday night acceptance speech in Denver. All are being held on either drug or weapons charges.
Law enforcement sources tell Maass that one of the suspects "was directly asked if they had come to Denver to kill Obama. He responded in the affirmative."
The story began emerging Sunday morning when Aurora police arrested 28-year-old Tharin Gartrell. He was driving a rented pickup truck in an erratic manner according to sources.
Sources told CBS4 police found two high-powered, scoped rifles in the car along with camouflage clothing, walkie-talkies, a bulletproof vest, a spotting scope, licenses in the names of other people and methamphetamine. One of the rifles is listed as stolen from Kansas.
That man, along with a woman, are also under arrest.
The Secret Service, FBI, ATF and the joint terrorism task force are all investigating the alleged plot.
The U.S. Attorney in Denver has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday afternoon.
Monday, August 25, 2008
New York Delegation Is More Than the Sum of 2 Clintons
DENVER — There are the bureaucrats and hardened political hands, the newcomers and neophytes. There are some who aspire to higher elected office, and some from the political graveyard. There are names known to most everyone and others mostly anonymous outside political circles.
The 361 people who make up New York’s delegation at the Democratic National Convention in Denver include a former majority leader of the United States Senate, two Clintons and a Cuomo. All 25 Democratic members of New York’s Congressional delegation have a seat, as do the governor and 20 or so state legislators.
For some, it will be their fourth convention. For others, their first.
Like children headed off to sleep-away camp, New York delegates arrived here with a list of dos and don’ts. As in do drink a lot of water because hydration is necessary to combat the effects of high altitude. And do not consume too much alcohol because the effects of drinking are heightened in the thinner air.
“As you enjoy all the events that Denver and the convention have to offer, please monitor yourself, and remember that drinks may go to your head faster than you’re used to in New York,” cautions a letter from June O’Neill, the state party chairwoman.
The demographics of this well-looked-after delegation cover just about every conceivable census designation.
The average age is 53, with the youngest 20 and the oldest 84. They are split almost evenly by sex, with 180 men and 181 women. More than 200 are members of ethnic or racial minorities. There are 19 disabled delegates, and 14 are veterans.
“We are black and white and brown and everything in between,” Ms. O’Neill said. “We’re a very diverse group.”
New York has the second-largest delegation at the convention, behind California, which has 503 delegates. The state Democratic Party booked 201 seats on two round-trip flights from New York to Denver and has virtually overrun the Sheraton hotel downtown.
Besides the party luminaries at the convention, there will be some lesser-known Democratic faithful, like a 24-year-old woman with cerebral palsy whose family ruled Nicaragua with an iron fist for more than four decades; an 84-year-old former New York City Council member and pastor from the Bronx who fled the South for New York when he was a teenager for fear he would be lynched; a 77-year-old self-described “old liberal West Side housewife politician” who gave up politics for most of the last decade and found her interest reignited this year by Senator Barack Obama’s campaign; and a 20-year-old former United States ski team hopeful turned Democratic fund-raiser who is skipping his first week of college to go to the convention.
Anastasia Somoza’s first brush with politics came before she even turned 10, attending City Council meetings at her mother’s side. She and her twin sister, Alba, were born with cerebral palsy. Their mother, Mary, fought bitterly with the city school system to have Alba, whose case of cerebral palsy is more severe than Anastasia’s, placed in a regular classroom instead of in special education.
The case drew national attention after Anastasia, who was 9 at the time, appealed to President Clinton from her wheelchair during a question-and-answer session for children at the White House.
That encounter, she said, forged her bond to the Clintons. When she was 16, Ms. Somoza volunteered for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s first Senate campaign. She then interned for Mrs. Clinton after she was elected and volunteered for her again during this year’s presidential campaign.
Now 24, Ms. Somoza, whose father’s family ruled Nicaragua for much of the 20th century, said that as a disabled person, she admired how Mrs. Clinton continued fighting to become the Democratic nominee even after many people were counting her out. “If you believe in something, don’t give up,” said Ms. Somoza, who advocates for the disabled and will be an alternate delegate in Denver. “I really, really felt that she had the experience I experienced.”
At 84, the Rev. Wendell Foster has the distinction of being New York’s oldest delegate. He will also be half of the delegation’s only father-daughter pair. His daughter is Helen D. Foster, who was elected to his old seat on the City Council after he had to leave office because of term limits.
Mr. Foster, who has largely retired from political life and now is a pastor at Christ Church in the Bronx, said he was drawn to politics as a way to fight segregation when he was growing up in Alabama. Memories like his pneumonia-stricken sister’s being forced off of a crowded bus because a white person wanted to board and his mother’s being told she could not vote are still raw in his mind.
“My anger stayed with me, and I discovered that politics could be a way to make things happen,” he said.
Some 70 years have passed since Mr. Foster left Alabama for New York. And while he said he is proud to be serving as a delegate who will select the first black nominee of a major political party in American history, he expected it would have happened sooner.
“To see what has happened gives me pride, gives me joy,” Mr. Foster said. “But it also resurrects anger in me because it took us all these years.”
Ronnie Eldridge, 77, had been on a political hiatus since 2001, when term limits forced her to step down from her City Council seat. A former special assistant to Mayor John V. Lindsay and Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, she became disillusioned by politics early in President Bush’s first term.
She started writing a book, spent more time with her 12 grandchildren and started a weekly cable television talk show through the City University of New York. But she said she saw something in Mr. Obama that drew her back into politics. She canvassed for Mr. Obama on the Upper West Side, sold buttons and held informational events.
Having been at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, when the vote to elect Hubert H. Humphrey as the party nominee was marred by bitter dissension, Ms. Eldridge said she was glad that it appears the vote in Denver will go smoothly.
“I just don’t want to get into any of those floor things,” she said. “It’s time that we stay unified.”
Until about two years ago, Arthur Leopold, 20, the youngest member of the New York delegation, was focused on skiing, not politics. While he was attending boarding school in Vermont, he was training to make the United States ski team.
“I didn’t even know what a convention was three years ago, to be honest,” he said. When he fell short of making the ski team — “I didn’t make the cut,” he explained — he began to immerse himself in politics. He interned for Representative Carolyn B. Maloney and was quickly tapped to manage her campaign for re-election in 2006.
“I definitely didn’t see myself getting this involved,” he said. Mr. Leopold deferred his enrollment at Duke University for two years (he will not attend his first class there until after the convention is over) while he worked for Ms. Maloney and started a political consulting firm. Using Facebook and the old-fashioned telephone, he has raised money for Mr. Obama this year — “the campaign has me at a little more than $200,000 right now,” he said.
“This is my first convention, my first time voting for the president, the works,” he said.
Anxious Party Hopes to Show Strong Obama
DENVER — Democrats gathering here for their nominating convention are significantly more nervous about Senator Barack Obama’s prospects this fall than they were a month ago, and are urging him to use the next four days to address weaknesses in his candidacy and lingering party divisions from the primary fight.
Mr. Obama’s aides said they had learned from what they described as the mistake of the 2004 Democratic convention — when aides to Senator John Kerry’s campaign sought to forbid convention speakers from going after President Bush — and would use their time to draw contrasts with Senator John McCain, particularly on the economy and his opposition to abortion rights.
“The stakes of this election will be made very clear,” said David Axelrod, Mr. Obama’s chief strategist. “We are going to define the choice.”
At the same time, acknowledging persistent unease with Mr. Obama among a significant segment of voters, his aides said they would use speeches and presentations during the next four days, including having Al Gore introduce Mr. Obama for his acceptance speech Thursday night, to offer a fuller biography and a more detailed plan of what he would do as president.
They said they were looking to 1992 as a model, when Bill Clinton successfully used his convention to address persistent questions about his personal life and what he would do as president.
Democrats arriving here said they remained confident that Mr. Obama would leave Denver at the end of the week in a strong position to defeat Mr. McCain. But many Democrats made it clear that a convention they had once anticipated would be a breezy celebration of Mr. Obama had turned into a more sober and consequential event.
This reflected a summer that they said demonstrated Mr. Obama’s vulnerabilities and Mr. McCain’s resilience, and the signs of lingering divisions between some supporters of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mr. Obama.
“Back in June and July, I truly thought he was going to blow McCain out of the water and carry 30 or 40 states,” said Donald Fowler, a former national Democratic chairman who supported Mrs. Clinton in the primary. “What has happened is that Republicans — McCain specifically — have really twisted his great charisma, this electric personality, to discredit his ability, his experience, his capacity, his judgment. I fear they are about to do to him what they did to Gore.”
Discussing the days ahead, Mr. Fowler continued: “Obama has got to do some things that will shore up his ability to lead — not just to charm, but to lead. They’ve got to give credibility to his understanding of foreign policy, his ability to deal with tough people and tough questions, and his ability to be more explicit and convincing on his health care policies and energy policies.”
Dennis McDonald, the Democratic chairman of Montana, a state that Mr. Obama is trying to win from Republicans, said this was a critical opening for Mr. Obama after a month in which polls suggested the race was tightening and events in Russia and Georgia put a new spotlight on foreign affairs, creating an opening that Mr. McCain seized.
“Normally I might say these conventions are not so important, but I don’t think that’s the case this year,” Mr. McDonald said. “There seems to be a sense of urgency. We have had a couple of weeks that were not so good.”
For the most part, this is a confident if slightly anxious party. And many Democrats were cheered by the choice of Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware as Mr. Obama’s running mate, saying he had the potential to help address some of Mr. Obama’s political shortcomings.
At the same time, Democratic officials said Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts was to fly here to attend a tribute in his honor Monday night, though it was unclear whether Mr. Kennedy, who is suffering from brain cancer, would speak.
Still, Democrats said Mr. Obama should offer a concrete idea of what he would do as president, to counter the effort by Republicans to present him as a showman. They said he had to offer a tougher contrast with Mr. McCain.
“I think in the case of McCain, they need to frame him,” said Mr. Kerry, an early Obama supporter who four years ago was nominated by this party as its 2004 presidential nominee. “Viscerally, my feeling is they’ve got to come back at him hard. And they’ve got to do more to complete the task of definition — both definition of him as well as definition of John McCain.”
Joe Trippi, who ran the presidential campaign of one of Mr. Obama’s rivals, John Edwards of North Carolina, said: “He has still got to get to the meat-and-potato, blue-collar workers. This is a big opportunity for him.”
There are some things that may be beyond the control of the Obama campaign. Most pressingly, Democrats said they were worried that the tensions between supporters of Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama from the contest that just ended two months ago would spill into public view after her name is entered into nomination, particularly after Mr. Obama bypassed Mrs. Clinton in choosing Mr. Biden.
“I have a lot of doubts that this convention is going to be as persuasive as it should be because they’ve got this damn thing with Hillary,” Mr. Fowler said. “I love Hillary. I was for her. But this is the worst political decision I could imagine. This is supposed to be an Obama celebration. You’re going to get the nomination of someone who came very close to winning and you’re going to get a lot of people in there cheering and hollering and some people booing.”
Mrs. Clinton’s advisers said Sunday that she would move to avoid this by meeting with her delegates on Wednesday and formally urging them to support Mr. Obama in the roll-call vote that night. (Under Democratic Party rules, delegates are permitted to vote for whomever they want.)
Republicans sought to stoke the issue by releasing an advertisement highlighting Mr. Obama’s failure to choose Mrs. Clinton as his running mate, using her words against him from the primary season and implying he passed her over because of them. Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a former Clinton ally who came under attack by the campaign after he endorsed Mr. Obama, said: “There has got to be a full reconciliation between the Clinton people and the Obama people. I think the convention will put to rest any past divisions among supporters.”
The Obama campaign is leaving little to chance. It has created a rapid response team — led by Craig Smith, a former top operative in the Clinton world — to head out to the convention floor at the first sign of any trouble from Clinton supporters.
Mr. Obama’s campaign began sending out a one-page sheet of daily talking points to delegates, instructing them what to say and what to avoid in talking to reporters. (In one last week, according to a recipient, the central thrust was how to parry questions about Clinton-Obama strife and Mrs. Clinton’s speech by saying, “I can’t wait to hear Hillary Clinton talk about the future and am excited that her candidacy is unifying our party!”)
By Karen Auge
The Denver Post
Article Last Updated: 08/24/2008 11:44:36 PM MDT
Maybe it was too hot Sunday afternoon, or maybe they hadn't gotten warmed up yet, but the tens of thousands of demonstrators that protest organizers promised would march through Denver turned out to be tens of hundreds.
Demonstrations began early Sunday and kept up a steady beat of marching, sign waving — and tying up downtown traffic. But through most of it, protesters were vastly outnumbered by police and, occasionally, even by those who came downtown just to watch the spectacle.
Lt. Ron Saunier, a Denver Police Department spokesman, said the number of protesters that actually showed up was nowhere near what groups had told city officials to expect.
Recreate 68 had projected that as many as 25,000 or even 50,000 people
would participate in activities this week. Instead, a group estimated by police at 1,000 to 1,200 participated in a Recreate 68 anti-war march Sunday morning, with a much smaller group parading up Colfax Avenue later in the day.
Tent State University, which had promised its own throngs, had its afternoon parade disrupted when attendees ran into a competing parade by anarchists. The biggest draw for Tent State turned out to be a signup for free tickets to see the band Rage Against the Machine on Wednesday at the Coliseum. When the signup ended for the night, the crowd at City of Cuernavaca Park dispersed.
Recreate 68 organizer Mark Cohen said he wasn't discouraged by Sunday's turnout. "You always wish for more numbers, but more important than turnout was the lineup of speakers we had, which was great."
There was a moment of tension, when police ordered protesters to get off Broadway about 3 p.m. But after police made one arrest for an unspecified offense, the demonstrators moved into Lincoln Park and traffic was flowing again.
After the morning parade of 1,000 or so people from Civic Center to the Pepsi Center, Recreate 68 demonstrators briefly blocked access to the convention site. The group dispersed peacefully when ordered by police.
Glenn Spagnuolo, a co-founder of Re-create 68, said he had been pleased by the way police responded to the protesters.
By Julie Shapiro (Downtown Express)
Hundreds gathered at the Engine 24/Ladder 5 firehouse Monday morning to remember firefighters Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffagnino Jr., one year after they were killed at the former Deutsche Bank building.
Plaques honoring the firefighters will hang on the Soho firehouse’s walls, alongside those commemorating the men the firehouse lost on 9/11 and in the Watts St. fire in 1994.
“This house has seen more than its fair share of tragedy,” Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta told the crowd that filled the firehouse.
The grieving family members sat on rows of folding chairs, one side for the Graffagninos and the other for the Beddias, as though at a wedding. But what joined these families was the deadly fire Aug. 18, 2007 at 130 Liberty St., where blocked-off stairwells and a broken standpipe trapped firefighters in the building without water. The building was damaged and contaminated with asbestos on 9/11 and was being demolished at the time of the fire.
Downtown Express photo by Tequila Minsky
A few in the crowd thought Mayor Bloomberg briefly dozed off during the speeches before the plaques were dedicated, but a mayoral spokesperson said his eyes were merely closed.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Four more Bronx Democrats join battle to topple chairman Jose Rivera
BY BOB KAPPSTATTER
DAILY NEWS BRONX BUREAU CHIEF
Thursday, August 21st 2008, 6:55 PM
While five of the borough's 11 Assembly members are seeking to topple Rivera, they will be joined Friday by three Bronx state senators and a sixth Assembly member to endorse a challenger to the party's candidate for Civil Court.
But the endorsement, as some have indicated, also is being seen as a move to join the rebel effort to unseat Rivera at the party convention after the Sept. 9 primary.
If they fail, a Rivera supporter said, there could be "blood on the floor" in retribution. Three of the rebels already face party-backed primary challenges.
Known as the Rainbow Rebels for their ethnic diversity, they charge that under Rivera, the party has favored Puerto Ricans to the exclusion of blacks and whites.
They also charge him with nepotism, pointing to his son Joel in the City Council and daughter Naomi in the state Assemblyman as well as another son and in-laws on city and state payrolls.
Joining them today at a press conference at the Bronx County Building to endorse Elizabeth Taylor for the Civil Court will be state Sens. Ruben Diaz Sr., Eric Schneiderman and Ruth Hassell-Thompson, as well as Assemblyman Michael Benedetto.
The party's Civil Court candidate is Maria Matos, who is Puerto Rican.
Powell is seen as a vote drainer from Taylor, also a judge's law clerk, because both women are African-American. The party candidate holds the advantage in a primary, which usually has a low voter turnout.
While some members of the Rainbow Rebel faction tried to downplay the added support for Taylor as strictly limited to the judge's race, others saw it as swaying party members to vote Rivera out of office.
"I think a number of elected Bronx officials have now decided that the incumbent leadership of the party is faulty," said one rebel camp strategist. "It seems they are now getting down off the fence."
Cindy fabricates Mother Theresa story
By: SilentPatriot on Thursday, August 21st, 2008 at 12:45 PM - PDT Christian Science Monitor:
The latest embellishments come from the McCain camp. Cindy McCain has repeatedly referred to herself as an “only child.” This week came news that she actually has two half sisters, although apparently she had very little contact with them.
The McCain campaign had also put out the story that Mother Teresa “convinced” Cindy to bring home two orphans from Bangladesh in 1991.
Mrs. McCain, it turns out, never met Mother Teresa on that trip. (Once contacted by the Monitor, the campaign revised the story on its website.)
I wonder if Cindy got her cookie recipes from Mother Theresa, too. It speaks volumes about the woman who hopes to be the First Lady of our country.
More at The Political Base…
Thursday, August 21, 2008
As the city rather melodramatically girds for riot over the Teitelbaum succession in the Satmar section of Williamsburg, police found themselves having a job of work handling the neighborhood's hipster population Saturday Friday night*.
Onlookers at a bar across the street from 184 Kent Street, the waterfront loft building cleared for conversion into luxury condos, said a crowd of thousands had made their way into the building to party through the building's last night of occupancy.
But come midnight, they were trespassers. So a passel of police cars and fire engines showed up at the scene to clear them out.
Neighbors have objected to the conversion, and lost a battle to get the building landmarked last year.
At one point, an exodus of hipsters could be seen filing down the street from the building, but some were more stubborn.
One large group of them took up residence atop the canopy hanging over the building's loading dock.
As police moved in to clear out the building, there was some vague fist-pumping in the crowd. Mostly, though, the mood seemed merry as the hipsters filed out of the building and towards the L train under an almost full moon.
We've got a call into the police to ask what their account of the evening was. Write in! Send pictures!
We were safely ensconced at the outside patio of Check Cashing, watching the proceedings from a distance and without a cameraphone.
* Apparently your correspondent had a bit too active a weekend to be precise the first time about which night the party took place.- Tom McGeveran
Our friend Will Rahilly, one-time Observer web-programmer extraordinaire, writes in with this report:
I was at the party that evening. My friend Becca, a two-year resident of the building, was leading the campaign to make it a historical landmark. She told me that someone had turned on a fire hose in the building during the party, allowing water to pour down the stairs of the building. We suspected that this is what summoned the fire department at first. Though I've never been, the party felt like what I imagine Berlin to be: graffiti on the industrial tanks opposite, green light in a vacant building, bad dance music, etc.
One question about Williamsburg: what is with that empty lot just south of McCarren Park on Bedford? It's been surprisingly vacant since I moved to the neighborhood in '99. My friends and I have suspected that some old, stubborn woman owns it.Will
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Home away from home
BY N. CLARK JUDD
State Senate candidate Pedro Espada Jr. recently testified to state Supreme Court officials in the Bronx that he lives in Bedford Park — but told state Supreme Court officials in Westchester nearly two months ago that he resides in Mamaroneck, N.Y.
Mr. Espada’s residency has become an issue in his campaign to unseat incumbent Efrain Gonzalez Jr. in the Democratic primary election for his 33rd District seat. The district encompasses parts of Kingsbridge, Kingsbridge Heights and Van Cortlandt Village and parts of the Northwest Bronx as far east as Bedford Park and Norwood and as far south as Mount Hope and East Tremont.
According to a document provided to The Riverdale Press by Mr. Gonzalez’s son, Carlos, Mr. Espada testified in a written affidavit, dated June 24, that he resides on Beechwood Drive in Mamaroneck. But in order to run against Mr. Gonzalez, he must live in the district — in the East 201st Street co-op he paid $225,000 for in 2007, for example.
Questioned in Bronx court on Aug. 7, Mr. Espada also testified that he owns four vehicles, of which three are registered in Mamaroneck and the fourth is registered to his Soundview Health Clinic in the Bronx; that he does not have a bank account at his Bronx address; and that he just two weeks ago notified the Department of Motor Vehicles that he had moved to the Bronx.
Mr. Espada is confident that his testimony won’t hurt him.
“This is kind of scattershot, see-what-sticks nonsense, which has nothing to do with my eligibility to run for public office,” he said last week.
He resides in Mamaroneck, but his Bronx coop is his primary residence, he said.
“I have the right as a citizen to own more than one residence,” he said, and adds that he pays New York City taxes.
The Westchester Supreme Court document was an affidavit in which he posted $250,000 bail for 19-year-old Bronx native Carlos Mocete. Mr. Mocete is facing trial for two charges of felony robbery stemming from incidents near Bridgeport, Conn. as well as separate misdemeanor charges, according to online court records.
Mr. Espada says he is not related to Mr. Mocete but would not say how he knows the man.
“It’s ridiculous,” he said, “it has nothing to do with my residency, it has nothing to do with my candidacy, it has everything to do with them trying to throw red herrings and trying to distract attention from Mr. Gonzalez’s indictment for stealing $500,000.”
The elder Mr. Gonzalez is in fact accused of routing about $400,000 of taxpayer money into his own pocket via a Bronx non-profit. He was expected to appear in court Tuesday to ask that those charges be dismissed.
Mr. Espada says the challenge to his petitions is itself invalid. He expects court officials to issue a report on his case on Aug. 13.
This is part of the August 14, 2008 online edition of The Riverdale Press
A lesser-of-two-evils primary plagues Democrats
By Tom Robbins Village Voice
Tuesday, August 19th 2008
Gonzalez: First a primary, then a trial
Bronx state senator Efrain Gonzalez Jr. was back in federal court last week to hear the latest developments in his two-year-old fraud indictment. Gonzalez, 60, is a burly fireplug of a man with a quick, jovial grin that's served him well over his 20 years in politics. For the occasion, he wore a gray suit that matched his iron-gray hair and the thin mustache that makes him look like a chubby Cesar Romero.
At the hearing, Gonzalez never had to say a word as the lawyers did all the talking, agreeing to a tentative trial date in mid-October. This is good timing for the senator, since it's a few weeks after the September 9 primary, in which he faces two opponents. This way, if he gets convicted, the Bronx Democratic organization can simply choose his successor.
Outside the courtroom, Gonzalez was asked to rate his chances in the election. "No problem," he said. "I win."
Most observers agree. Even though Efrain Gonzalez has stood accused since August 2006 of stealing more than $400,000 from nonprofit groups to which he had routinely routed state grants, there have been few complaints heard from colleagues and constituents. The feds say that the money went to pay the senator's often extravagant personal expenses, including fees for a vacation club in the Dominican Republic, renovations for his mother-in-law's home (also in the D.R.), jewelry, clothes, credit-card bills, and the design and printing of special cigar bands.
Gonzalez's allies insist these are huge misunderstandings that will be cleared up at trial (Gonzalez is represented by a powerful Bronx spark plug, lawyer Murray Richman, who says he's ready to do battle for his client, "a great guy.")
As for the cigar scheme, Gonzalez's pals say it would have allowed the senator to peddle Dominican stogies dubbed "The Senate Cigar" and "The Assembly Cigar" to legislative pals and others. The revenue, they claim, would have gone to worthy causes. Don't ask.
Actually, Gonzalez could have claimed he was going to hawk the cigars for five bucks apiece outside the maternity wing of any Bronx hospital and few of his supporters would have cared. Ever since he first took office in a special election in 1989, the former bus driver with an old gun conviction has easily won re-election. In 2006, months after his indictment and two years after the first news stories appeared about the federal probe of his activities, he cruised to victory with 97 percent of the vote. It's not hard to understand why. Gonzalez represents a largely low-income and Latino district in the northwest section of the Bronx where his clout has made him the key route to crucial state jobs, contracts, and grants—the same money chain he is now accused of abusing.
As a result, despite his status as the walking wounded, the only opponent to try a serious run against Gonzalez this year is Pedro Espada Jr., the pugnacious gadfly and health-care entrepreneur. Espada is his own piece of work. He spent three terms representing an adjacent senate district as well as one in the City Council. During that time, he became such a thorn in the side of the Bronx Democratic machine (for months he wore his own wire on Democratic party leaders) that he wound up the target of a rare public-corruption indictment brought by the district attorney's office.
Espada beat that rap, but his closest aides later went down in a state case brought by then–attorney general Eliot Spitzer. In 2005, three executives of Espada's Soundview Health Center pleaded guilty to steering $30,000 from programs intended for family health care and AIDS prevention into Espada's political campaigns.
Espada wasn't charged, but he got the message, lost his last race, and went back to his home in Mamaroneck. Gonzalez's obvious problems lured him out of political retirement, and Espada and his crew have been back at it in recent weeks. To collect petition signatures to get on the ballot, Espada had his campaign workers offer free heart tests and pineapples to anyone signing up. He also had to explain in court last week why his four cars are still registered to his Westchester County address, and why the gas and electric consumption are minimal at his nominal Bronx home in a fourth-floor apartment at 325 East 201st Street, where he claims to reside with his wife and six grandchildren. (Several apparently busy-body neighbors testified that they've never seen Espada around the building, even though he claims to have lived in the apartment since last year.)
Given their respective antics, the primary contest of Gonzalez vs. Espada now shapes up as the toughest taste test since the Iran-Iraq War.
"No question, this contest is the lesser of two evils," says Gary Axelbank, the Bronx's hard-driving political commentator who grills top pols on a local cable-TV show and his WVOX radio show (1460 AM) on Wednesday evenings. "Everybody knows the race is a joke, but it is confirmation of the state of politics in the borough."
One pol who had no trouble making his pick is Assemblyman Jose Rivera, the boss of the Bronx Democratic Party and Gonzalez's friend and next-door neighbor on Fordham Hill. Rivera showed up at a Gonzalez fundraiser last week and has vowed to help his pal beat back the dreaded Espada.
Also fully on board is Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith of Queens, who could become the Third Man in the Room with Governor David Paterson and Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver if the Democrats succeed in taking control of the senate this fall. Gonzalez helped elect Smith to his position a couple of years ago. The Queens pol repaid the favor, putting Gonzalez's son and several other aides on the senate payroll.
But even without that personal allegiance, there's a strong political rationale for the senate Dems. When last in the senate, Espada picked up his chair and went and sat with the Republicans. His reward from then–GOP majority leader Joe Bruno was some $745,000 in member-item grants he was allowed to dole out to recipients of his choice. (Espada found the perfect home for the money: his own Soundview health-care centers. He was later forced to withdraw the gifts after the Times reported them.)
This year, Smith and the senate Democrats aren't taking any chances, pledging strong support to Gonzalez. This doesn't exactly help bolster the reform image the Democrats are trying to shape as they prepare to battle the GOP in several crucial districts upstate and in Queens, but they've got a ready explanation: "Senator Gonzalez has been accused, but he hasn't had his day in court," says Doug Forand, the political consultant representing the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. "We do not consider Pedro Espada to be a good Democrat," he adds. "He was in Albany once before elected by the voters, and he turned his back and sat with the other side."
Funny thing is, you'd be hard-pressed to hang a "True Blue Democrat" sign on Gonzalez, either. Since serving in the legislature he has endorsed many top Republicans, including Al D'Amato, Rudy Giuliani, and George Pataki.
All this might be dismissed as just another sideshow in the ever-fractious world of Bronx politics, but unfortunately there's a lot at stake. "The looming transfer of power in the state senate from Republicans to Democrats is going to be the biggest political shift in this state in 100 years," says one Democratic warrior. "And once we're in power, we're never going back. But how's that power going to be used? That's the question."
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
BY BOB KAPPSTATTER DAILY NEWS BRONX BUREAU CHIEF
Sunday, August 17th 2008, 5:30 PM
Bronx political issues can sometimes be moving ones.
Case in point: controversial former State Sen. Pedro Espada Jr., with a house in Westchester and a co-op in the Bronx, last week likely survived a residency court challenge.
Espada, who formerly represented the East Bronx, is challenging State Sen. Efrain Gonzalez for his West Bronx seat in the Sept. 9 Democratic primary.
Gonzalez is due to go on federal trial in October, charged with siphoning $400,000 from non-profits he funded.
Last week, Special Referee John Ostermann issued a legal finding to Bronx Supreme Court Justice Robert Seewald that Espada legally lives in a two-bedroom Bedford Park co-op he bought last August.
Gonzalez, a Bronx Democratic Party stalwart, has the party's support, though he has leaned at times to the Republican side of the aisle in Albany.
Bronx Democrats, however, view Espada as a party pariah for sitting with the Republican majority and threatening to change his party registration when he was in office.
In the residency case, Gonzalez's operatives produced testimony from residents and the super of the co-op that they rarely saw or heard Espada, though they did encounter his wife and heard noises coming from the fourth-floor apartment.
They also submitted utility bills showing minimal gas usage, though Espada's wife, Connie, contended she cooked a number of meals for six of their nine grandchildren there. Both testified they spend only two to three days a week at the Mamaroneck house, which they said they have tried to sell "several times."
Gonzalez's side also submitted registration records for four cars Espada owns and mortgage and banking records, all tied to Mamaroneck or the Soundview Health Care network, upon which Espada has built a small fortune - and legal problems.
He was previously tried and acquitted of using Medicaid funds for campaign expenses.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Obama Ready to Announce Running Mate This Week
WASHINGTON — Senator Barack Obama has all but settled on his choice for a running mate and set an elaborate rollout plan for his decision, beginning with an early morning alert to supporters, perhaps as soon as Wednesday morning, aides said.Mr. Obama’s deliberations remain remarkably closely held. Aides said perhaps a half-dozen advisers were involved in the final discussions in an effort to enforce a command that Mr. Obama issued to staff members: that his decision not leak out until supporters are notified.
Mr. Obama had not notified his choice — or any of those not selected — of his decision as of late Monday, advisers said. Going into the final days, Mr. Obama was said to be focused mainly on three candidates: Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware.
Some Democrats said they still hoped that he would choose Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, or Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, who has been under steady consideration by Mr. Obama’s campaign.
By all indications, Mr. Obama is likely to choose someone relatively safe and avoid taking a chance with a game-changing selection. A similar strategic choice now faces Mr. Obama’s Republican rival, Senator John McCain of Arizona, who has been under pressure from some Republicans to make a more daring choice.
Mr. Obama’s advisers said he all but reached his decision while on vacation in Hawaii. They said it was the end of what proved to be an unexpectedly intense process, condensed because he did not want to start actively vetting potential running mates before Mrs. Clinton quit the race in June.
By contrast, Mr. McCain, who had wrapped up the Republican nomination months earlier, began his process in late spring.
That gave Mr. Obama’s team of lawyers less time to review candidates, and several Democrats said it appeared that the list of candidates who were deeply vetted was limited to about a half-dozen people. (Campaigns typically check the background of candidates who are not necessarily in play, as a way of gaining favor with various constituencies or to keep the other party off balance.)
The team of advance workers and aides involved in planning the rollout — timed to galvanize Democratic voters as Mr. Obama heads to Denver next week for the party convention — have not been told who Mr. Obama will be selecting.
If all goes according to plan, the announcement will be made with text and e-mail messages to supporters early in the morning, in time to capture coverage on the morning news shows and take advantage of a full day’s news cycle.
Mr. Obama and his running mate will begin, perhaps that day, a visit to swing states. Plans call for them to be on the trail together for much of the time between the day of the announcement and the day Mr. Obama arrives in Denver, a week from Wednesday, but their most intense campaigning together will come after the convention.
Mr. Obama’s schedule calls for him to awaken on Tuesday in Orlando, Fla., and by the end of the day be in Raleigh, N.C. By Wednesday, he is scheduled to be in Virginia. The Obama campaign has cautioned against reading anything into his schedule, saying it could be changed in an instant to accommodate the plan to introduce the running mate.
Aides said the announcement would come at the earliest on Wednesday morning.
Mr. Obama’s advisers said they wanted to time the announcement to get maximum publicity going into the convention, after a stretch in which Mr. Obama was on vacation in Hawaii and Mr. McCain made good use of having the political stage largely to himself. Vice-presidential announcements are one of a handful of moments when the presidential candidates are given a clear grab at the public spotlight, and both Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain have put much thought into the timing of their announcements.
If Mr. Obama is looking to build excitement going into the convention, Mr. McCain’s aides have looked to announcing his choice right after the Democratic convention, which ends Aug. 28, a Thursday, as a way of stepping on whatever bounce Mr. Obama enjoys from his nomination.
The Republican convention begins the following Monday.
Democrats close to the process said the ability to turn up information on the Web had made it easier for Mr. Obama’s search team — Caroline Kennedy and Eric Holder, a former deputy attorney general — to plumb the backgrounds of prospective running mates with relatively little notice. In addition, because so many of the candidates were senators, they were required to file annual financial disclosure reports.
Mr. Holder and Ms. Kennedy have been working largely out of Mr. Holder’s law firm in Washington, using lawyers in his firm and others — many of whom are veterans of the process from having worked for Senator John Kerry in 2004 and Al Gore in 2000 — to check the backgrounds of the potential candidates.
Mr. Obama was briefed frequently throughout the proceedings — receiving updates by telephone and e-mail — and came to Washington for a handful of meetings with a small group of senior advisers in the law offices of Covington & Burling, where Mr. Holder is a partner. With the vetting concluded, there was no activity on Monday in the firm’s suite of offices on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Unlike in previous selections, Mr. Obama has been largely spared the obligation of staging elaborate cloak-and-dagger processes to interview prospective running mates because he has been campaigning with them in close quarters, giving him a chance to get to know them.
The rampant speculation during the selection process encompassed many of the best-known names in the party, including Mr. Kerry and Mr. Gore, Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico and former Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia.
The big choice for Mr. Obama, advisers said, was the extent to which he needed to choose someone who would fill perceived holes in his résumé — lack of experience, particularly in foreign policy — versus a candidate who would reinforce his promise of change or one who might help him win a contested state.
Mr. Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, clearly fell into the category of helping Mr. Obama on foreign policy, while Mr. Kaine is a relative newcomer to national politics and would reinforce the notion of change. Both Mr. Kaine and Mr. Bayh would help Mr. Obama in a state that Democrats are trying to put in play.
For all the attention to Mr. Obama’s deliberations, it is by no means assured that his choice will make a big difference in the outcome of the campaign.
“Vice-presidential candidates can make a marginal difference,” said Matt Bennett, the co-director of Third Way, a Democratic advocacy group, “but they rarely matter in terms of winning a state or region — as Mike Dukakis and John Kerry found out. And a weak candidate doesn’t really drag the ticket into the drink — as George H. W. Bush found out.”