Sunday, June 29, 2008

overdue bill

monthly bill got you down? no not the money type... the pain type! having had a vacation from hell (long story, one of terrible accommodations), i'm in no mood for pain...

i'm always seeking remedies for the monthly cramps (yoga, no caffeine, hot water bottle, herbal belly balm, herbal tea, exercise) but i have yet to find the wonder relief. any readers out there wanna suggest their tried and true healing methods?

as always, here is ideal bite's helpful hints.

"Aching belly got you whimpering like a cocker spaniel?

Stray from regular cramp control methods. Instead, try a holistic approach that includes techniques like massage and natural pain relievers and that isn't so doggone synthetic.

The Benefits

Getting a leash on pain. Alternative medicine practitioners have used these remedies for centuries.

Feeling less shaggy. Natural options such as primrose oil are less likely to cause side effects than your average dose of prescription-only Ponstel.

Not treating the earth like a pooper-scooper. Fewer synthetic pills means less chance of toxic chems ending up in our water supply - and the water supplies of at least 24 major American cities already contain trace amounts of pharmaceuticals.

Wanna Try?

Exercise - it improves blood and oxygen circulation, including through the pelvis, and releases feel-good endorphins.

Get a Massage - massage therapists can target your abdomen to ease the tension.

Avoid Caffeine - it constricts blood vessels and increases tension.

Eat Less Dairy and Meat - antibiotics we add to certain foods may make cramps worse.

Spice with Cayenne - cayenne pepper also improves blood circulation.

Jigsaw Health Activated B - sustained-release B vitamins; Bs may also help with nonmenstrual cramps ($30).

Spectrum Essentials Evening Primrose Oil - widely used in Europe for PMS symptoms, it packs healthy omega fatty acids; so does borage oil ($11-$15).

Aura Cacia Jasmine Massage Oil - jasmine's another PMS symptom-soother; use it to massage your abs ($7)."

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Forgotten War

Thirty-nine coalition forces have been killed in Afghanistan this month. A roadside bomb killed three service members and a local-national interpreter in a coalition convoy in eastern Afghanistan, the U.S.-led coalition said.

Since we have family in Afghanistan this is disturbing to say the least. Iraq is just about off the front pages of the newspapers, though there is evidence Iraq is becoming un-surged. Nearly 30 soldiers in Iraq this month, while over 50 ordinary Iraqis died yesterday alone. What is the Democratic Congress' answer to this? A $162 billion war spending bill with no timeline, virtually nothing, but a blank check. Of course the package includes something for us. It was approved 92-6 in the Senate and includes a doubling of GI Bill college benefits for troops and veterans. It also provides a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits and $2.7 billion in emergency flood relief for the Midwest. Should we not have these benefits as Americans anyway in times of crisis and need? Why should they be tied to more war in Iraq and Afghanistan?

I believe truly that Obama and the Democrats want to stop this war, but how many people will die until January 20, 2009? How many? Is it worth not showing a spine right now with the hopes of getting a Democrat elected to the White House? How many more times will we make this mistake?

Here are pictures from our cousin's stay in the war riddled country of Afghanistan.

Obama and his Lack of Consistency on the Constitution

Thanks, Magda for the article. Since I am up in Portland, Maine and have had a trying two days I have not had much news. I have to say this news is disturbing. I am not defending in any way child rapists. Who would? But, this notion of killing other humans has been struck down as cruel and unusual for a while now and even by this draconian court yesterday.

Obama said Wednesday he disagrees with the Supreme Court's decision outlawing executions of people who rape children, a crime he said states have the right to consider for capital punishment. He said:

"I have said repeatedly that I think that the death penalty should be applied in very narrow circumstances for the most egregious of crimes," Obama said at a news conference. "I think that the rape of a small child, 6 or 8 years old, is a heinous crime and if a state makes a decision that under narrow, limited, well-defined circumstances the death penalty is at least potentially applicable, that that does not violate our Constitution."

The court's 5-4 decision Wednesday struck down a Louisiana law that allows capital punishment for people convicted of raping children under 12, saying it violates the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Ok, I get what is happening here. Barack Obama is being targeted as the "liberal" Senator who wants to succeed Jimmy Carter's term. So, he feels the need to turn his back on the net roots on FISA and now this, show he is tough; why not do it when we are talking about the rape of young children. These are both fairly obvious concerns: the Constitution. Is Obama signaling that he as well as Conservatives will tout political motives over the Constitution. By the way, thank God for Senator Russ Feingold (the true progressive in the Senate) for stalling FISA, for now anyway.

Jane Hamscher of Fire Dog Lake has criticized Obama for not being progressive enough for a while as has the SG. And I like Obama a lot. But, a few more of these whiny, wimpy decisions to show he is tough (a la Bill Clinton) he and I may have a big problem. I want a progressive President, not one who tells me he is progressive and then makes fucking decisions based on the polls. Enough already.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Where is Your Favorite Blog?

I don't read much of Vanity Fair. But I saw something in my favorite Brazilian newspaper, which I read almost every day, Folha de S. Paulo. They have something they call their Blogopticon. And it has a cool idea: you can click on any one of the blogs, which are listed in a compass setup, and find out what they are all about. As well as see what VF's writers think of them as far as whether they are earnest or scurrilous, news or just opinion.

Just in case you wanted to know, unfortunately, SG, is not listed. Yet.

Slavery By Another Name

Slavery By Another Name is the story of slaves after the civil war who "journeyed into freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation and then back into the shadow of involuntary servitude." And reveals among other things modern companies who benefited most from "neo-slavery."

I am reading a book with a similar theme right now based a violent criminal in the New York State Penetentiary that a journalist traces his roots back to slavery. It is an exhaustive account of this man's family, Willie Bosket and the treatment of America to his family from the Revolutionary war to modern times. An astounding achievement. All God's Children.

Regardless, there are still books to be read that explain the violence against African-Americans in this country and this is another one. Watch Bill Moyers interview the author. Great work by Mr. Moyers as usual.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sunday, June 22, 2008


George Bush has, as we all well know, destroyed every shred of good grace the US had with the world. We can only hope that Obama will get it back, but meanwhile, it's up to art to snap people back into reality. TV and the media cannot be left to that. El-p, with a graphic touch, takes on torture and its new standing as "acceptable in certain cases."

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Reform und Drang: Part I

A special piece to the Subversive Garden regarding the victories, defeats and eventual schism of the Hoboken Reform movement from the artful and insider view by Hobogomil. A brilliant piece on the politics of the reform movement and why in general progressive politics cannot slay the dragon of either the evil Republicans or the corrupt (wink, wink), democrats of Hudson County. Ever its own tempest in a teapot, the Hoboken Reform movement boiled over boisterously this past year, making serious noises and big splashes all over town. By May, however, it had finally sizzled itself down to its last few wisps of hot air on the small but scalding surface of Hoboken politics. Perhaps feeling it had found a home on that range, it got - perhaps - overconfident after extending its reach into the wild west part of town with the 4th Ward successes. But it wasn't all flash and no substance - what strange brew left such a mess? And - hey, now - is that remaining hot air instead actually enough to raise a balloon to race around the world??

Whah hahppend??? Big, surprising victories over the Evil Machine in '07 school board, Democratic committee, and at least two city council races - capped with a 2-1 margin on a Machine-opposed open-space referendum - completely offset (and then some) an embarrassing Assembly-race thumping of erstwhile progressive icon, Carol Marsh, and heralded a Reform 'coming of age' in Hoboken. Pundits reeled, progressives cheered, and gob-smacked, gin-soaked Machine apparatchiki fell about the urine-drenched stoops of Washington Street like so many hopeless drunks. (Given the Hoboken likes of ex-State Senator Bernie Kenny, City Clerk Jimmy Farina and ex-City Business Administrator Dick England, there's actually no metaphor there.) The Machine trundled out all its cheapest tricks and heavily outspent Reform, but lost ground on almost all fronts anyway.

Okay, but -- whah hahppend??? 'Whah,whah,whah' happened. Wailing and whining about just desserts did them all dirty - first inside the Machine, then inside Reform. The County Democratic leadership, utterly convinced of its inalienable right to unmitigated feudal sovereignty, forgot entirely (and almost justifiably) about progressive dissent and opposition after a decade of beating it 90% to 10% in every race everywhere. Then little bosses got big ideas and civil war began to poke its hideous little face out from behind the relative calm and beauty of Union City white slavery and North Bergen thumb-breaking. "Why should these few old bosses (who made each of us) have all the spoils?" they bi-atched. Greed reared, complaints mounted, ranks broke, rancor followed - filtering down apace to the Machine lieutenants in Hoboken, aka New Pork City. Reform, ever staring glumly at the Machine's Great Wall, the political palisade always in front of them, quickly noted the opportunity in a crumbling Fortress Hudson and charged like newborn sea tortoises into the breach, snapping up minority representation for themselves all over town. Everywhere you looked, Reform was taking 40% of wards, district by district, most by a 51%/49% margin. Fiscal control and middle-class domination bobbed deliciously ahead in the next wave of '08 races.

Ah, but schism happens. Now, whereas the Hudson/Hoboken machine's ambition is dollar-denominated, the Hoboken reformer's ambition is ego-denominated and you can bet it didn't take more than a New York nanosecond for their morally-gifted, upper-middle-class selves to dive into an ethical pissing contest over who was most fitting as the next Yertle-on-Hudson. Some assumed it should be the one who had the most disposable income available for a political hobby. Green reared, complacency mounted...

Oh, come on -- whah really hahpennd??? In 2001, on the heels of state-of-the-art corruption under then-Mayor (and recent ex-con) Anthony Russo, current Mayor Dave Roberts - in a leap of political genius not seen anywhere since... late yesterday - lied unabashedly in claiming he'd end the regnant corruption and swept to victory over Russo with a council slate of three 'dyed-in-the-wool reformers'. Russo's machine methodology and gold-lust were so blatant Gollum and three syphilitic orcs could have beat him on character and charm alone. Somehow, though, the nascent Reform leadership of Marsh, Mike Lenz, Beth Mason and Tony Soares mistook this windfall changing of the terminally-corrupt guard as proof positive of personal political gifts - as some benediction of charmingly earnest grass-roots chaos turning coffee-klatsch into beer-hall putsch.

In actuality, Russo lieutenants jumped ship and exported Machine strategy and tactics to Roberts' covering brand, and then excised the honest if naive reform-minded progressives from the hustings. The new regime was not installed by Reform purity and spiritual eclat, but by old, thoroughly-organized cheats with a new, thoroughly-sterilized front. All ensuing (and myriad) election defeats for the dispossessed reformers were rationalized as due merely to a) lack of sufficient funding or b) vicious tandeming of assiduous back-stabbing by Roberts and a well-tapped parochiality of the born-n-raised polity. This, to be sure, would explain why slim victory might morph into narrow defeat above a citizenry supposedly hungry for Reform's college-bred, upper-middle-class sociopolitical decency- but not why they would lose election after election, by 20-30% or more. Reform leadership's surfing to initial victory on a zeitgeist of anti-corruption sentiment deftly managed by Machine retreads rather than their own organizing skills left them blind. And prone to castrating rationalizations about Reform's own vigor, charisma, skills and vision. Of course, Reform leadership proceeded to in-fight over just whose mayor-elect ego was owed coronation – rather than engage in any honest self-scrutiny.

Reform und Drang: Part II

Split happens. Mason and some arch-lieutenants (and we do mean 'arch') then splinter off in early '07 to form the revolutionary, new and improved, well-polished and all-around expialadocious Vote Hoboken political committee. [Oh, yes, folks we were there for it, the hot-air balloon having crashed right in our backyard on its way back to Kansas.] The Marsh/Lenz faction remained largely at the helm of Reform, but not by dint of any real leadership: it was squarely due to inertia - residual name-recognition, the defining voter-base apathy, and Vote Hoboken's utter inability to draw off much of a following at all. The ensuing bickering, posturing, and indignant outrage would fill a tetralogy of the cheapest of dime novels, (which - if you count hoboken 411,'s Hoboken forum, Hoboken Now and the Hoboken Reporter's Political column - it pretty much did). Suffice it to say, this dog had fleas, couldn't hunt, was all bark no bite and the incessant and feckless tail-chasing thoroughly eroded any burgeoning ascendancy Reform was evolving into. Early '07 victories intimating a potent Reform-oriented demographic turn and awakening amidst a (thereby-apocalyptic) Machine civil war were brutally reversed within a year as both County and municipal machines closed ranks, partly in response to Reform’s newfound bite.

The Last Days of Chez Fous The real, inbred craziness in the royal House of Reform was not simply the rift itself, but the protracted denial and toleration of its self-destructiveness as epitomized by the testosteronic rantings of the movement's tanists, Lenz, Jim Vance, Lane Bajardi and Tony Soares. High Priestesses Marsh and Mason stepped to the background somewhat as the feud revved up but kept the bitterness of the rivalry quite alive through the feistiness of the aforementioned publicists-cum-pugilists, who availed themselves of every forum and every opportunity to bash each other into tertiary relevance within Hoboken politics (behind the rival halves of the Machine presence).

This spawned confusion and demoralization among the core Reform polity just as the Reform gains of '07 begged for consolidation in advance of an inevitable and telegraphed Machine regrouping. By the time of this past April's school board elections, Reform was so childishly self-divided that the emblematic Kids First landslide the prior year got thoroughly reversed, spanked crudely by the most acrid dregs of Old Hoboken cronyism. This was quickly washed down with the lye of a Reform freeholder candidate's massacre several weeks later, all the more caustically as she came in third behind a divided Machine vote. The feud also spawned another pair of twins – hopefully to be separated at birth, permanently and with extreme, post-apocalyptic prejudice.

On the one (more dextrous if six-fingered) hand, a Neo-Reform leadership has emerged, questing for self-direction in the aftermath of the elder Reform leadership's abdications. Dawn Zimmer, Peter Cunningham and Theresa Minutillo retain clear leanings toward The Marsh/Lenz camp due to its greater proximity to the bulk of Reform vote and its more potent operational actors. But they have each also established an individualized independence, focused largely on the relevant school-board or city council portfolio. This lends focus to their efforts and coherence to their public profile even as it sacrifices the scope of leadership they can project. But that's okay – they limn a solid leadership profile for the necessary retooling of Hoboken Reform.

On the other (more sinister and sticky-fingered) hand, the internecinematics of the Reform movie have also allowed infancy to a pseudo-Reform counterinsurgency, a shallow co-optation led by the indelible smarm of otherwise eclipsed politicos, Peter Cammarano and Maurice Fitzgibbons. If responded to artlessly or even embraced as a lesser of evils, this new pseudointellectual goo could suck Reform/Neo-Reform down to a permanent bottom at the chill and murky depths of the Hudson political scene . Fortunately, these two soulless hacks most closely resemble those grotesquely feckless-but-fierce-looking micromonsters one sees out the bathysphere window, whose huge ugly maws have almost no impact on anything except even smaller more grotesque creatures. But those could be Reformers if the leadership doesn’t watch out.

Ah, but what is so rare as a day in June?? Despite all this, Reform hopes sprout feathers in the week following the June primaries. On a single day, complete fiscal meltdown of the city due to gross and obvious Old Guard incompetence and control of the municipal Democratic Party committee fall beneficently into Reform’s lap. Stay tuned – the ramifications of this are playing out frenetically as you read. More soon.

bike hoboken--join the livable streets group launched by a local resident

had enough of the cars taking over our narrow hoboken streets? tired of loud car alarms waking you up? fed up with cars speeding through intersections? take to the streets on your bike and let's create a critical mass of hoboken bikers!

this just in... join bike hoboken!

bike hoboken is a new group organizing the Hoboken community to make the city more bike-friendly.

bike hoboken will help to create:
  • Convenient and secure bicycle parking at the PATH station
  • Bike lanes and greenways.
  • More bike racks around town.
  • Pedestrian and bicycle-safe streets.
  • Less traffic, noise, pollution and reduced demand for parking.
Attend the Hoboken bike path planning meeting: Wednesday, June 25th @ 7pm at City Hall.

congratulations graduate: now pray!

here we go again... blurring the lines... graduation in a church?

from the national school boards association:

N.J. district settles lawsuit over holding graduation in church

According to the Newark Star-Ledger, Newark Public Schools has settled a lawsuit filed in 2007 by the American Civil Liberties Union-New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) on behalf of Bilal Shareef, a Muslim student who skipped his graduation from West Side High School two years ago because it was held in the sanctuary of a Baptist Church.

The suit alleged that Bilal's faith prohibited him from entering a building with religious icons, such as pictures of God or images of the cross, according to the suit filed. The suit claimed when West Side High held its graduation at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark two years ago, the district violated the New Jersey Constitution by forcing people to attend a place of worship contrary to their faith and discriminated because of religious principles.

According to the settlement, the district agreed not to sponsor or promote religious events, to no longer reward students for attendance at religious events or ceremonies, and to stop using religious buildings or places of worship for school events. Nonetheless, the settlement still allows NPS to schedule events with other schools that use religious buildings, and students may still visit religious buildings if the purpose is "both academic and secular in nature."

Superintendent Marion Bolden confirmed that there was also a financial settlement between NPS and Shareef. In addition, NPS issued an apology to the Shareefs and other students who "felt forced to forego or uncomfortable attending the 2005 or 2006 graduations." NPS legal counsel Perry Lattiboudere's statement emphasized that the settlement agreement "reaffirmed that the past scheduling of graduation ceremonies at local church locations was not in any way intended to make any student or member of the community feel uncomfortable in attending the ceremony."

Mr. Bolden acknowledged that in response to the lawsuit, and concerns students might be discouraged from attending graduation, none of the district's schools are holding commencement at religious buildings this year. The ceremonies will be held in either government owned facilities or secular private venues. "There has to be sensitivity to that because you don't know what children are thinking," he said. "(Shareef) might have been the one who voiced an objection, but others might have gone and been uncomfortable."

Source: Newark Star-Ledger, 6/10/08, By Kasi Addison

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Real Journalist on Iraq and Afghanistan: Lest We Forget

The Shock Doctrine and Iraq: No Bid Contracts for Oil Companies

Four western oil companies have been slated to steal Iraqi oil through no bid contracts (a la Halliburton). These companies were summarily thrown out of Iraq in 1972 after Saddam Hussein came to power. It is called protecting natural resources instead of handing them over to companies who have no interest in that part of the world outside of profiting from it. I am not defending Saddam Hussein's policies of genocide and his own brand of imperialism, but the transparency with which this move comes is unconscionable.

In 1972 Hussein nationalized the oil much like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia, two men and two countries maligned by the west for no other reason than stopping the mindboggling profits of oil companies. Wonder why there are high oil prices? Because privatization is in jeopardy, pure and simple.

Now Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP — the original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company — along with Chevron and a number of smaller oil companies, are in talks with Iraq’s Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq’s largest fields, according to ministry officials, oil company officials and an American diplomat. The deals, expected to be announced on June 30, will lay the foundation for the first commercial work for the major companies in Iraq since the American invasion, and open a new and potentially lucrative country for their operations.

What is the Shock Doctrine? In short the theory goes as such: Corporations wait for a disaster (or orchestrate one like a coup), like Katrina, September 11th or say a preemptive war so that the economy tanks and the sharks move in. The shock of the crisis in Iraq to push through a further privatization agenda. But, the biggest crime is that politicians are in bed with the corporations and allow them to steal our oil. A case in point, the democrats, not the Republicans just passed a bill to fund the continuation of the Iraq war with no withdrawal date whatsoever. It is not just Republicans in bed with these corporations. After all the Iraq oil law was one of the benchmarks of the surge for which most democrats agreed and signed on to the Oil Law that said we should hand over Iraqi oil to western corporations.

This is not new, but a key benchmark of the surge seems to have succeeded, steal the Iraqi oil. The problem is Iraq is still a very divided country and if the people of Iraq are united on one issue it is this one. Keep the imperialists out. I cannot see this selling well with the Iraqi people and with Muqtadr Al Sadr beginning a new offensive and pulling from the elections this fall, this is not going to be pretty.

But, here is to the multinationalists and the fascists and your lack of transparency. Not only do they think we are dumb, they know it. All of us, Americans and Europeans alike. Who cares? It isn't our country. Maybe we will have $2 a gallon gas again. That is worth the price of a million dead Iraqis, huh?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dreams From My Father

I am reading Obama's first book, Dreams From My Father, that is a poignantly honest book about finding out who he was...about race...mixed race...and truly about what made the next President of the United States. It is a more important book than the Audacity of Hope because it is about what made him, it is more honest and it is before he had any real notoriety at all, i.e. before the 2004 convention speech.

In this short excerpt he writes with an understanding I have never (and I mean never) heard from a politician. An understanding that is truly remarkable, how poor communities perish under the capitalistic tendencies in this nation and abroad; destroying neighborhoods forever...he writes about his days community organizing and the destitution he witnessed and how it is the same everywhere, it just looks different. He weaves his childhood in with the work he does along with the feelings of loss and loneliness he feels and weaves a poetic look at our nation. You should read this book.

"It was the absence of such coherence that made a place like Altgeld [Gardens] so desperate, I thought to myself; it was that loss of order that made both Rafiq and Mr. Foster, in their own ways, so bitter. For how could we go about stitching a culture back together once it was torn? How long might it take in this land of dollars?

Longer than it took a culture to unravel, I suspected. I tried to imagine the Indonesian workers who were now making their way to the sorts of factories that had once sat along the banks of the Calumet River, joining the ranks of wage labor to assemble the radios and sneakers sold on Michigan Avenue. I imagined those same Indonesian workers, ten, twenty years from now, when their factories would have closed down, a consequence of new technology or lower wages in some other part of the globe. And then the bitter discovery that their markets have vanished; that they no longer remember how to weave their own baskets or carve their own furniture or grow their own food; that even if they remember such craft, the forests that gave them wood are now owned by timber interests, the baskets they once wove have been replaced by more durable plastics. The very existence of the factories, the timber interests, the plastics manufacturer, will have rendered their own culture obsolete; the values of hard work and individual initiative turn out to have depended on a system of belief that's been scrambled by migration and urbanization and imported TV reruns. Some of them would prosper in this new order. Some would move to America. And the others, the millions left behind in Djakarta, or Lagos or the West Bank, they would settle into their own Altgeld Gardens, into a deeper despair."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

How Do We Forgive Our Fathers?

From the Beautiful Film Smoke Signals. For the masses without.

How do we forgive our Fathers?
Maybe in a dream
Do we forgive our Fathers for leaving us too often or forever
when we were little?

Maybe for scaring us with unexpected rage
or making us nervous
because there never seemed to be any rage there at all.

Do we forgive our Fathers for marrying or not marrying our Mothers?
For Divorcing or not divorcing our Mothers?

And shall we forgive them for their excesses of warmth or coldness?
Shall we forgive them for pushing or leaning
for shutting doors
for speaking through walls
or never speaking
or never being silent?

Do we forgive our Fathers in our age or in theirs
or their deaths
saying it to them or not saying it?

If we forgive our Fathers what is left?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

the missing students

june-- the time of graduation and celebrating-- but this commencement speech by aries hines of mills college reminds us that the choice of going to college and succeeding there is not a dream within everyone's grasp. this video and her speech are a reality check for me... i struggle to pay my school loans while doing public interest work, but never did i struggle to get into college or law school. i saw this on the applied research center's website: for the students who aren't supposed to graduate. listen to and read her powerful speech.

The Rule of Law (finally) Wins the Day

In a stunning decision by this arcane Supreme Court, in a narrow 5-4 ruling the Court rebukes not only the Bush Administration, but slaps Congress for passing a law that does not pass Constitutional muster.

The ruling that gives Guantanamo Bay detainees the right to challenge their detention is a ringing endorsement for the rule of law. In a ringing tone, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority decision, concluded by noting that our security depends not only on a “sophisticated intelligence apparatus and the ability of our Armed Forces to act and to interdict.” Security also depends on “fidelity to freedom’s first principles. Chief among these are freedom from arbitrary and unlawful restraint and the personal liberty that is secured by adherence to the separation of powers.”

“The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times,” Kennedy wrote. “Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system they are reconciled within the framework of the law.”

This case was an instance where the Executive Branch and the Legislative Branch conspired to go outside the framework of that law. The court had twice ruled against the Administration’s policies in Guantanamo, so Congress passed the Military Commissions Act (MCA) in 2006 in response. That act denied detainees of essential elements of the writ of habeas corpus, the right to challenge their detention adequately in court.

The Court ruled that the section of the Military Commissions Act dealing with detainee rights “does not purport to be a formal suspension of the writ” so it is invalid on that basis alone.

But, simply at its core the decision cements the rule of law and not the fear mongering that has ruled the day since September 11, 2001. At issue was Article 1, Section 9, of the Constitution, which states, in part: “The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.” The court noted the long history of habeus corpus and the bedrock principal of Marbury v. Madison noting it is the Court’s job to decide “what the law is,” not Congress’s or the President’s.

On specifics, it ruled that the Pentagon’s combatant status review tribunals “fall well short” of what is necessary.

It said that the prisoner must have a “meaningful opportunity to demonstrate that he is being held pursuant to ‘the erroneous application or interpretation’ of relevant law.” He doesn’t have that in Guantanamo, the Court said. “The detainee has limited means to find or present evidence to challenge the government’s case against him,” the decision said. “He does not have the assistance of counsel and may not be aware of the most critical allegations. . . . There are in effect no limits on the admission of hearsay evidence . . . [and] the detainee’s opportunity to question witnesses is likely to be more theoretical than real.”

The habeas court also must be able consider “evidence not presented or reasonably available to the detainee” at the time of his status review tribunal.

And the decision said that the court that hears a habeas corpus challenge has one other crucial authority that Bush and Congress denied it: the authority to free the prisoner.

“The habeas court must have the power to order the conditional release of an individual unlawfully detained,” the decision said.

Finally, given that some of the detainees have been held for six years without the privilege of habeas corpus, the Court ruled that “the detainees in these cases are entitled to a prompt habeas corpus hearing.”

This decision was a victory not only for the detainees. It was a victory for fundamental human rights. It was a victory for our Constitution. It was a victory for the separation of powers, and for the authority of the judicial branch to decide what is the law of the land.

Scalia and Roberts on the Court rebuke the decision and said it "helps the terrorists." One wonders what part of the law "helping the terrorists" can be found. Is it a statute? A regulation? He said in his dissent the decision will almost certainly assure more Americans will be killed. Scalia is a political actor and does not hide his political intentions any more than does Cheney or Bush. It is a philosophy where everyone who is of Arab descent or is a Muslim is an acceptable target to detain forever. It matters not that Habeus Corpus finds its roots in the 12th century and is embedded in our Constitution as much, if not more than Freedom of speech. Shame on these shallow figures who will be interpreting, ahem making law for the next 25 years.

New Jersey's Race Problem in Youth Detention

New Jersey has the highest ratio of minority youths in detention in the nation, a pattern mirrored at Mercer County's Youth Detention Center, where nearly all the young offenders are black or Hispanic. Ninety-Eight percent of the children in jail are of a minority descent. Disgusting and sad. It should be so alarming that we immediately conference on the issue.

A report released yesterday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore says that in New Jersey and Connecticut, eight times as many minority youths as white youths were in detention in 2006. The national ratio is 3 to 1.

"Racial disparity has been a longstanding issue in New Jersey," said Cecilia Zalkind, executive director of the Newark-based Association for Children of New Jersey, which is affiliated with the foundation.

In cities such as Trenton and Newark, police procedures, urban pressures and the lack of parental advocacy for children rob young offenders of chances to avoid detention, Zalkind said.
"When a kid gets in trouble in a small suburban community, the parents have more of a chance to work with the police on an alternative," she said. "There are more detention alternatives available for non-African-American kids."

The dramatic extremes between rich and poor in New Jersey, one of the nation's wealthiest states, accentuate the varying treatment of young offenders in different communities, she said.
At the same time, Zalkind said it was good news that the state, along with Vermont, has the nation's fourth-lowest rate of 10- to 15-year-old kids in custody.

But, a more profound problem is the racial bias in sentencing in communities. What Zalkind said is true, but when a kid in Newark is smoking marijuana he is considered on his way to criminal activity and a person who needs monitoring. But, when a kid from Livingston (in the same county) is caught smoking marijuana he is considered a young man getting a little crazy and more appropriate for his parents to handle it.

All the tools that seek to diminish the number of kids in detention (some are working) have reduced the number of kids by a third in detention since 2002. Yet, the racial gap continues and it begs the question are these tools helping black and Hispanic kids?

No one wants to talk about racism. We will talk about race and the racial gap in schools, in jails, in corporate america, but we leave the term racism out. What other explanation could there be for every one white kid in detention there are 8 black or hispanic kids? Notwithstanding black and hispanic kids make up about 30% of the kids in the state. It is time to do something; stop studying the problem and realize it is about bias.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Incredible Hulk, Rio de Janeiro, and the Illusion of Reality

As you may or may not know, The Incredible Hulk, Part 2, opens today worldwide. Including in Brazil, where many of the scenes were filmed. The director of the movie, who is French, "fell in love with the amazing slums of Rio" when he saw a picture of Rocinha, one of the biggest in South America, at about 300,000. So he decided to take his Hollywood stars, Edward Norton, William Hurt, and Liv Tyler, down there to film...the exterior shots. He did not film anything beside some chase scenes and a few sces in a "factory" where Bruce Banner works and hides out.

But here's the catch: the director, in love with Brazil and its "amazing" favelas, was not interested in using any Brazilian actors, except for one woman who works in the factory with Bruce, and the Jiu-Jitsu star, Rickson Gracie, who plays his fighting instructor. Louis Leterrier, in his attempt to make the Hulk frachise a success after the total failure of Ang Lee's attempt at it, used only Canadian actors, who spoke, or tried to speak Portuguese.

As Leterrier explains, when interviewed by a journalist for Jornal da Cidade, Bauru's local paper: "I wanted to use more Brazilian actors, but it was too expensive to take them to canada, where we spent three months filming the interior (of the shacks and the factory). I understand, because I don't like it when American productions film in France and only use half a dozen french actors. I can only apologize."

The movie also shows Edward Norton hiding out in Rocinha, which is also not the case. The drug traffickers of Rocinha did not give permission to film, so the actual exterior shots are filmed in oone of the few favelas has no drug trade, Tavares Bastos. And when Bruce goes to 'Guatemala' in the movie, he is actually in the forest preserve of Tijuca, in Rio.

The reality is that he could have worked with the government of Rio de Janeiro to actually film interiors in Brazil. With real Brazilians, speaking actual Portuguese. But that didn't happen. Movies are about suspending disbelief, but the excuse that you had to film the interiors in Canada, and couldn't bring along Brazilians, does not hold water.

So, if you take the time and want to waste, I mean, spend your money on this new version of the failed Hulk movie, just realize that you are not watching what you think you are watching, and I don't mean a green monster.

An amazing country to film in, but not really. That is Brazil, it seems, for Hollywood. Great shots, but work with the actual people there...forget it.

Eddie Vedder - Society - Into the Wild Soundtrack

If you haven't seen this amazing film by Sean Penn, starring a wonderful Emile Hirsch, you must. I cannot stress how much this movie reflected how I have felt so many times about this world, this life, this society, that has so depressed so many, while helping, at the same time, us to survive. I know that I cannot live without others, and that we need each other, but the institutions, the greed, the hypocrisy has infected me. And sometimes, like when I watch movies like this, I wonder if I will ever get well.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

We Are the Ones

This is a powerful new video.

New Jersey Workers Stealing Children and Gas: Assclowns of the Month

Not only are DYFS workers stealing children from New Jersey families they have resorted to stealing our gas too. Thirteen motorists — all but one a public worker — filled up for free at state-owned pumps, authorities alleged today. The alleged thefts, from April 2007 until last month, totaled at least $2,000.

The North Jersey defendants are both affiliated with the Paterson office of Children and Families. Each was charged with third-degree official misconduct, which carries a prison sentence of three to five years. Like the rest of the indicted defendants, they will be arraigned within a month, Milgram said.

Eleven of the suspects used pumps at several locations in Camden County, Milgram said. Four worked in the Camden office of Children and Families; four were employees of the Camden Board of Education; and two worked for the Camden Bureau of Recreation.

Now, who in this climate would not be tempted to take gas that does not belong to you? Who doesn't want to steal gas from say, Exxon-Mobil or Shell. But, to steal gas from us, New Jersey citizens, not to mention from the people you are supposed to be serving strikes me as a bit sad.

It warrants this months Assclown.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Kucinich Works for America, Unlike the Rest of Congress

Rep. Kucinich has done what needed to be done years ago. He has introduced 35 articles of impeachment against "his holiness", President Bush.

Check out his reading of them. Note the damned House wouldn't even come to order for him.

Way to stand up for Americans, Rep. Kucinich! Your patriotism is inspiring!

Monday, June 9, 2008

E-waste be gone!

stop the e-waste madness...the following info is from ideal bite, a wonderful endless source of recycling tips:

Ready to eject your old CDs?

Pause before you chuck 'em. Now that MP3s and Blu-ray hi-def movies are taking over, CDs, DVDs, and VHS tapes (and their cases) are going the way of the phonograph. After you've converted or burned them, recycling is easier than skipping to the next song.

The Benefits
More space for everything else. When was the last time you actually listened to that copy of Kenny G's Greatest Hits?

CDs that don't play the earth. Each month, more than 45 tons of CDs become obsolete and end up inlandfills and incinerators - and in landfills they can take centuries to biodegrade.

Personally Speaking
Toshio found a record store in Portland that pays cash for any CD - yes, they even took Celine Dion.

Wanna Try?
Greendisk Technotrash Pack-IT - recycle any electronic waste in your home (up to 20 pounds) through this mail-in service ($7).
Ripstyles - Lazy Biters: opt for its LXRY service, where it'll burn your albums for you and recycle your jewel boxes (prices vary depending on volume).
ACT Recycling - recycle videocassettes and computer disks through an org that provides jobs to disabled people.

DIY Bite: Many nonprofits such as Goodwill will take your old CDs, DVDs, and computer games. You can also exchange them for cash or new media in used movie/music shops, or online.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

What Barack Obama Means to Black Americans

Granted this video is of a few black teens and a teacher, but it is an illuminating discussion. It makes me pround that Obama will be the democratic nominee as well. But, I also know we have a long way to go to rid the corporate leaches that have taken over our government. Ridding the DNC of lobbyists was a nice beginning. Yes. We. Can.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Mindless Menace of Violence

Forty years later, the anniversary of Robert Kennedy's Death. I write with optimism for the first time in decades in our political process. But, the "mindless menace of violence" marches on and there is much work to be done. Robert Kennedy's words are a reflection of our time even today. They are simply, beautiful.

The Daily Show: Hillary Clinton's Inevitability?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Who Are We?

I grew up in Rutherford, NJ, but I first lived in Weehawken and North Bergen. I was born in New York Hospital, so technically, I am a New Yorker. Each of those places is made up of recent immigrants. My mom used to tell me that the neighbors used to stare at my blond hair and blue eyes. I was a minority in Weehawken. When I came to Rutherford, some of my first friends were recent immigrants, from Japan. I used to watch my Puerto Rican neighbors breakdancing on cardboard down the block. I used to go over to my friend Abdul's house to hang out. His parents were just over from India.

I live these days in Bauru, Brazil. I have to go to the US Consulate more than I would like, and every time, I mean every time, there are huge, snaking lines, of people trying to get a visa to go the States. Every one of them will get questioned, maybe rejected, maybe accepted, and almost never smiled at. They are nothing more than a number, and they will feel that from the minute they get on that line.

But, after reading an editorial in the New York Times this evening, I started thinking about something...and it was really a question: why?

Why do so many people still fight through red tape, across Mexican deserts, hidden in cargo containers, or in the backs of trailers, to get to the US? Why do they save up thousands to pay coyotes to get to a country which has so easily forgotten that it is made up of immigrants. The New York City subway, one of the greatest engineering feats in the world, was completely built by immigrants.

But then I remembered a friend, born and bred in the suburbs of Jersey, just like me, who summed up the mentality of so many Americans when he told me why he hated going into Manhattan: "Because it's full of so many types of people."

This is the crux of things: fear. Fear of change, fear of dissolution, fear of your neighborhood starting to get different names on the mailboxes. But we try to cover it up by saying we are only against illegal aliens, and not immigrants. That the raids in New Jersey at 5 in the morning that rip parents out of their beds, are not symptomatic of a much larger problem, spreading all over the world, and infecting every country that calls itself 'first world': a fear of what is written on that slab the Statue of Liberty holds..."give me your dirty, your tattered masses..."

Did America ever want them?

Read the article if you have two minutes.

hoboken new jersey's cash crisis

from councilman cunningham:

Friends and Neighbors,

Last night's (special council) meeting was historical - again. The majority of council (5-4) voted to block an application (Cap Waivers) to Trenton that would have legitimized excessive spending this Administration has amassed in this Fiscal Year 2008. We think the number is $11.7 million. There was a second part of the application which would have provided for an increase in the tax levy to cover the over spending.

So what happens now? The answer is that the State will set the tax levy. No State control, but that story is for another day.

The numbers have been questionable from this Administration and Mayor, which was confirmed two weeks ago when revealed the Administration was introducing creative financing to leverage more funds from the municipal garage to cover operating expenses. That number was $3.7 million. That same evening we learned the short fall was not 3.7, but higher in millions of unpaid healthcare cost and public safety not appropriated.

So the council demanded that the true numbers be presented last Wednesday May 28th. Still no number, but plenty of excuses. So it was demanded again that the number be certified at the special meeting last night. No certification, thus no confidence and we voted no again.

The Administration's contention was with the city council passing these cap waivers (which were not guaranteed to be approved by Trenton), we will set the levy and we will be in control to negotiate with the State on how the tax increase will be applied. Corporation Counsel said, "maybe we can pull a rabbit out of a hat. The State can consider actions like bonding and/or deferring portions of the tax liabilities into future years." My response...that's precisely what we are trying to avoid.

This increase will hurt everyone. I am cautiously confident we have sent a message that we are not kidding about cutting expenses like head count and salaries. Now the Administration will need to certify the expenses and revenues to the State. The increase will be applied in the fourth quarter at around 50% increase of your current tax. Example...If your fourth quarter tax is 3,000, it will be 4,500 this quarter and will carry through the second quarter of fiscal year 2009.

I am sorry that our fiscal situation is much worse than I could imagine. I have spoken with respected CFOs and BAs in NJ regarding our situation, and they have concurred it's bad. At least our fiscal problems have been revealed, and we can start correcting the wrong doings of years past.

In conclusion, please see the attached press release Dawn and I issued today.

Thanks for listening, and please reach out with any question or concerns you have. I am open to all comments and suggestions.


June 2, 2008. Yesterday's special meeting of the Hoboken City Council marked a turning point in managing Hoboken's City finances. The Council finally took a stand against the on-going financial deception by the Roberts' Administration by voting NO on a cap waiver for spending. As a result of this vote:

• Mayor Roberts and his directors will be required to provide accurate financial records to the State, under penalty of perjury.

• The Healthcare of City employees will be protected by removing the incentive to delay payment for healthcare costs from one year to the next.

• The City of Hoboken moves itself on track for fiscal responsibility by requiring that this year's obligations be paid from this year's budget.

Unfortunately, due to poor management and outright deception by the Roberts Administration, the reality of City overspending and the need for a substantial tax increase is only now being discovered, in the last month of the year. This will place a severe and totally unexpected burden on Hoboken's most vulnerable residents.

To address this tax hardship, Councilman Peter Cunningham, and Councilwoman Dawn Zimmer are recommending to their Council colleagues that the interest rate on late payments of 4th quarter taxes be sharply reduced from the current 18 percent.

They propose changing the rate to nearly zero on the additional amount only, or if that is not possible, to 6 percent for the entire 4th quarter payment.

"We hope to keep the rate on these payments reduced through the end of 2008 in order to provide time for hard hit residents to make the required payments," Councilman Cunningham explained. "We ask that our council colleagues join with us in this effort."

"By taking this strong action now, we will finally start to get spending and taxes under control for the future," Zimmer said.

Taxpayers should know that the taxes they will have to pay in the 4th quarter this fiscal year are substantially higher than what their taxes should be on an on-going basis after the second quarter of the next fiscal year.

Although the 2008/2009 fiscal year will be a difficult one, they are both committed to fighting for outside review of the Administration's handling of the books. "A third-party review of our City's financials is critical to ensure strong fiscal controls, streamline administrative functions, reduce waste, maintain important City services and reduce the tax burden for Hoboken residents," Councilman Cunningham said.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Clinton Gets Her Way and Still Wants to Appeal

Donna Brazile, formerly campaign manager of the Al Gore Campaign and political pundit and in my mind has done a lot this election cycle to represent the old democratic party, but to realize we are ushering in a new democratic party. She sums up how I feel towards the end of this exchange. "My Mama taught me to play by the rules...and when you don't it is called cheating."

I am sure many folks did not watch this thing like I did. But, the message from the Rules Committee was unity. We need to be unified. All agreed except the Hillary Clinton campaign. She was there (her campaing was) as well as Mr. Ickes, on the Rules Committee to change the rules and make them count as if these primaries mattered. It is disgusting. And she might as well be a Republican and as sore a loser as you can find.

They are now threatening to take this to the convention because she did not get exactly what she wanted. Though, the full delegates of Michigan and Florida are seated (with half votes each) and she netted about 30 delegates yesterday. If she is so concerned about the voters they just got what they wanted, seated delegates. Everyone knows the contests did not count! Remember?!

Regardless, the new magic numbers is 2118 for the nomination and Obama is 66 delegates away. See you on Tuesday.