Friday, February 28, 2014

City Room

New York Today: Seeking the Homeless

What you need to know for Friday and the weekend: helping those on the streets, brutal cold, snow ahead, and an ancient statue in Queens may have been looted from Italy.
The former Domino Sugar refinery in Brooklyn.
Anthony Lanzilote for The New York Times
The former Domino Sugar refinery in Brooklyn.
A $1.5 billion proposal to redevelop Brooklyn’s Domino Sugar plant is in jeopardy as officials ask for a higher quota of affordable housing units.
Gov. Chris Christie
Andrew Kelly/Reuters
Gov. Chris Christie

Christie Allies Joked of Disrupting Traffic at a Rabbi’s House

Two people who were pivotal in the plan to close access lanes to the George Washington Bridge wrote of creating traffic problems in front of the home of a New Jersey rabbi, documents show.

U.S. Prosecutors Interview Christie’s Spokesman

Michael Drewniak was critical to the administration’s response as the controversy over the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge grew, according to a legislative panel.

Rangel Will Face Rematch of Tough 2012 Primary

State Senator Adriano Espaillat fell short of ousting Representative Charles B. Rangel, the 22-term Harlem Democrat, in 2012.

De Blasio Seeks to Halt 3 Charter Schools From Moving Into Public Spaces

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York said that he would reverse a decision by Michael R. Bloomberg to provide free real estate to the schools so that they could open new programs.

For Drivers on Some City Bus Routes, Requesting the $2.50 Fare Can Be Dangerous

Unlike subway drivers who are shielded from passengers’ emotions by a thick metal door, many bus drivers are fully exposed to the moods of the fickle, and sometimes violent, New York City commuter.

Bin Laden Relative’s Lawyers Claim Mistaken Identity as Trial Nears

A letter to the judge in the terrorism case against Sulaiman Abu Ghaith says that the government may have confused the defendant with a Guantánamo detainee.

At Council Hearing, Calls for New York to Offer Homeless Children and Families More Aid

Advocates, service providers and council members pressed the city to firm up a proposal for a rent-subsidy program and to improve services for children.

Kennedy Case Goes to Jury After Debate Over How Quickly a Sleep Aid Works

A clinical pharmacologist, the final defense witness, said people under the influence of a sleeping aid might “become impaired, but don’t know they’re impaired.”

Timetable Set for Rules on Wheelchair-Accessible Taxicabs

Amid concerns that New York City was not moving swiftly enough to make more taxis accessible to the disabled, a federal judge set a timetable for the publication of new accessibility rules.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

New York Today: Winter’s Pesky Visitors

What you need to know for Thursday: mice in the pantry, more freezing weather, and a veggie bus roams the streets of the Bronx.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is seen as taking a strikingly tactical interest in his eventual challenger.
Michael Appleton for The New York Times
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is seen as taking a strikingly tactical interest in his eventual challenger.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, is involving himself in the selection of his challenger, telling some top Republicans that they should be leery of nominating Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive.
The police investigated the shooting of an officer in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, on Wednesday night.
Bryan Thomas for The New York Times
The police investigated the shooting of an officer in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, on Wednesday night.

Police Officer Is Shot in Legs in Brooklyn

Officer James Li, 26, was injured in Crown Heights on Wednesday after removing a man who had boarded a bus through a back door without paying, the police said.

Christie Starts Push to Rein In State’s Labor Costs

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, insulated from the burdens of a re-election bid, said he would devote his remaining time in office to the issue of skyrocketing government pension and health care expenses.

Kerry Kennedy Hits Back as Prosecutors Question Story Line at Trial

Ms. Kennedy took the stand on the third day of a trial in which she is charged with driving under the influence of a sleeping pill.

Assault Charge for a Top New York City Council Official

Charles Preston Niblack, the Council’s finance director, is accused of hitting his partner in the face with a wooden statue and a picture frame during an argument.

New York City Council Swiftly Passes Bill to Extend Paid Sick Days

The more emphatically liberal Council expanded the law to require businesses with five or more employees to provide up to five paid days off a year.
The South Bronx Mobile Market takes low-cost produce to the area a few times a week.
Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
The South Bronx Mobile Market takes low-cost produce to the area a few times a week.
The leader of a South Bronx nonprofit group is filling an old school bus with a cornucopia of locally and organically grown vegetables and fruit and taking it to the streets.

Rift at Jewish School in Manhattan Over Canceled Plan for Israeli-Palestinian Talk

A student group at an Orthodox Jewish school extended an invitation to a Columbia professor to give his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but the head of the school rescinded it.

A New York Observer Article Brings a Spat in Trump’s Orbit

An article on the New York attorney general portrayed him as vindictive and politically opportunistic. It also included a defense of Donald Trump.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Arizona Confronting Awkward Realization That Gay People Have Money, Buy Stuff

The Borowitz Report

February 25, 2014

PHOENIX (The Borowitz Report)—The state of Arizona found itself in the middle of a conundrum today as it awoke to the awkward realization that gay people have money and buy stuff.
Just days after the Arizona legislature passed a law that would enable businesses to discriminate against gays, it emerged that gays spend billions of dollars in Arizona each year—an unexpected development that seemed to take many legislators by surprise.
Carol Foyler, a Tea Party Republican who supported the anti-gay law, said that the startling bombshell that gays play a role in the state’s economy put her and her fellow lawmakers “in a tight spot.”
“Quite frankly, we were blindsided by this,” she said. “We had no idea that gays had money and bought things just like regular people do.”
Acknowledging that her vote for the anti-gay law might have been calamitous for the state’s economy, Ms. Foyler placed the blame for it squarely on the shoulders of one group: the gays themselves.
“How was I supposed to know what gay people do with their money, etc., when I don’t personally know any gay people?” she asked. “I’m sorry, but it was up to the gays to tell us.”
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Above: Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. Photograph by Bebeto Matthews/AP.

This Time, de Blasio Confronts S.U.V. Issue Head-On

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday finally fielded inquiries about his motorcade’s caught-on-camera violations of traffic laws — but he could not resist offering reporters some pointed criticism of his own.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Will Pope Francis Help Stop the Growth of European Fascism?

Weissman: 'Francis has said that he wants to move beyond an 'obsession' with hot-button social issues, but his modernist bent loses out to long-standing doctrine on abortion, contraception, and gay marriage.' (photo: Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters)
Weissman: 'Francis has said that he wants to move beyond an 'obsession' with hot-button social issues, but his modernist bent loses out to long-standing doctrine on abortion, contraception, and gay marriage.' (photo: Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters)

By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News
23 February 14

ope Francis is the only man of the left still in Italian political life,” laughs Stephen Sartarelli, the English-language translator of the Inspector Montalbano mysteries and a leading authority on the filmmaker and poet Pier Paolo Pasolini. Sartarelli kept hearing this view of the pope while on a recent trip to visit family in Rome, where the weakness of the left is a running joke. Who but the pontiff is speaking out against the ravages of capitalism in Italy and the neo-liberal economics of enforced austerity?
Sartarelli lives just down the road here in the French Dordogne, and we share a growing concern with the resurgence of the ultra-right, not only in France, but throughout much of the continent. He and I tend to differ on Pope Francis, whom I see as I believe he sees himself – not “a man of the left,” but a modern-day follower of the Catholic social thinking in the 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum with a touch of Argentinian Peronism.
Either way, the big question will not go away. Will Pope Francis stand up against the growing threat of a new European fascism? Or will the Catholic Church under his leadership aid and abet the “fachos” as the controversial Pope Pius XII and so much of his Church has been accused – rightly or wrongly – of doing in the 1930s?
Most people writing about Pope Francis never discuss this, but how he answers the Fascist question could become historically more important than what he does about the Curia, Vatican Bank, child-abusing priests, or the dozen or so other issues now on the papal plate.
A possible tell may be his decision to slow down any canonization of Pius until scholars can fully study the Vatican’s secret wartime archives. The Sunday Times of London reported this in January, citing Rabbi Abraham Skorka, a friend of the pope from Buenos Aires who visited him in Rome in September and will accompany him on his visit to Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank in May.
In 2010, the two men published a book called “On Heaven and Earth,” in which the future pope offered his view on the role of Church leaders toward the plight of European Jews during World War II. “Opening the archives of the Shoah [Holocaust] seems reasonable,” wrote the then Cardinal Bergoglio. “Let them be opened up and let everything be cleared up. Let it be seen if they could have done something [to help] and until what point they could have helped.
“If they made a mistake in any aspect of this we would have to say, ‘We have erred.’ We don’t have to be scared of this – the truth has to be the goal.”
According to Rabbi Skorka, rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary, this continues to guide the pope’s thinking. Sterner voices in the Church pushed Francis to make Pius a saint at the April 24th ceremony in which John Paul II and John XXIII will be canonized. But Francis has so far stood by his wonderfully open, anti-authoritarian sentiments, much to the approval of Jewish leaders and respected Catholic historians.
Whether or how soon Pius XII gains sainthood is only symbolic, I know, but juggling symbols from their bully pulpit is what popes do, all while riding herd on a global juggernaut of fractious hierarchs with their own favored symbols to promote. It’s a high-wire balancing act, and Francis appears to have paired his go-slow on Pius with giving a go-ahead to the beatification of “522 martyrs of the faith,” Catholic priests, monks, nuns, and laymen who were killed while supporting Francisco Franco and his Fascist allies in the Spanish Civil War. This has not become a major issue outside Spain, but could come back to haunt the pontiff and show him to be other than a stand-up guy in the ongoing fight against European Fascism.
A bigger threat comes from how the Church thinks. Francis has said that he wants to move beyond an “obsession” with hot-button social issues, but his modernist bent loses out to long-standing doctrine on abortion, contraception, and gay marriage – and to the Church’s unshaken faith in “natural law.” The Catholic hierarchy continues to believe it can deduce what is “natural” and therefore “God’s law” for all men and women, whatever their individual situation or sense of themselves, and regardless of the constantly changing state of social and scientific knowledge.
Claims of timeless and universal certainty have their appeal, no doubt, especially to those educated in Catholic schools (as well as to Bible-quoting Evangelicals in the United States and Latin America). But, to unsaved skeptics like me, “natural law” is not at all a celebration of human reason. It is a dubious philosophic conceit that has enabled Church moralists, living and dead, to rationalize the ignorance and prejudices of their own time, place, class, culture, institutional setting, and patriarchal disposition. While this has always been self-deluding, it has now become self-destructive, dragging the Catholic Church into massive, at times violent protests against gays, same sex marriage and adoption, abortion, medically assisted procreation for lesbian couples, gender-neutral education, taxes, socialists, immigrants, Moslems, Jews, and what a leading Catholic traditionalist calls “the lethal virus of the modern world.”
Nowhere is the Church playing into the hands of neo-fascists more than here in France, where the most reactionary groups are using protests against whatever they consider “unnatural” to bring hundreds of thousands of supporters into the streets. These highly colorful marches and rallies began in October 2012, after the Socialist government of Francois Hollande proposed to legalize “Marriage pour Tous” (Marriage for All), and they have continued into this month. A wide array of far-right groups and coalitions – including “Manif pour Tous” (Demonstration for All) and “Printemps français” (French Spring) – have organized the demonstrations to “safeguard our civilization,” while participants have included followers of the anti-Semitic comic Dieudonné doing his reverse Nazi salute, the quenelle, and full-fledged neo-Nazis yelling “Jews Out of France.” Catholic associations have played a leading role in calling the marches and rallies, and Church leaders like the Cardinal Archbishop of Lyon Philippe Barbarin have taken a prominent part.
To be fair, Church leaders have tried to distance themselves from the open hate, as well as from some – though by no means all – ultra-traditionalist Catholics in groups like Civitas, who see Catholic identity as integral to being French. These intégrists carry on the anti-Republican tradition of Action Française, which collaborated closely with the Nazis, and have worked closely over the years with Jean-Marie Le Pen and his neo-Fascist Front National.
The problem is fundamental. The Church lends its name and patina of “natural law” to the demonstrations, but lacks the power to determine their course or discipline their ranks. Though as many 88% of the French identify themselves as Catholic, no more than 5% attend mass regularly, creating what some have called “a Zombie church.” In this severely weakened state, the French hierarchs see no alternative but to collaborate with French Spring’s leader, Beatrice Bourges, who offers the classic excuse for joining with so many anti-Semitic and anti-republican elements. “When the house is on fire,” she says, “you don’t ask for the firefighter’s resumé.”
For the Church, and especially for Pope Francis, this stance is completely self-destructive, and its immediate beneficiary will be Jean-Marie Le Pen’s daughter Marine and her effort to make the Front National appear more mainstream. She has pointedly not led any of the marches and rallies and, like the Church, has even expressed concern about their excesses. But she has carefully not attacked their ultra-right organizers and most of the participants, whom she expects to vote overwhelmingly for the Front National in municipal elections in mid-March and European parliamentary elections at the end of May. If she does well, as expected, she will breach one of the main firewalls of Republican France since World War II, and the Church of Pope Francis will share in the blame.

A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, "Big Money: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How To Break Their Hold."

Most-Wanted Drug Kingpin Is Arrested at Mexican Resort

The leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, known as El Chapo, had eluded capture for 13 years since escaping from prison in a laundry cart.

actualizado a las 18:36

Captura de "El Chapo" podría aumentar narcoviolencia: Stratfor

"Podría desatar una ola de violencia en todo el noroeste de México, si los cambios internos evolucionan en conflicto intracártel"

"El Chapo" Guzmán fue detenido en Mazatlán, Sinaloa. Foto: AP
"El Chapo" Guzmán fue detenido en Mazatlán, Sinaloa.
Foto: AP

Ciudad de México.- La detención del narcotraficante más buscado en el mundo, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, es un acierto para el gobierno mexicano, pero esta captura podría incrementar la violencia en el país, advirtió la firma de inteligencia Stratfor.

Señaló que quienes se quedan al mando del Cártel de Sinaloa, tras ser capturado su máximo líder, buscarán a toda costa mantener el poder de esta organización criminal.

Según el informe, se “podría desatar una ola de violencia en todo el noroeste de México, si los cambios internos evolucionan en conflicto intracártel”.

Anuncian aprehensión de 'Chapo' GuzmánHaz clic para ver el video en Terra TV
Anuncian aprehensión de "Chapo" Guzmán

El Cártel de Sinaloa, refirió Stratfor, ha enfrentado a una serie de arrestos desde diciembre pasado y a diversos desafíos en sus áreas de operaciones por las redes criminales regionales y transnacionales.

Stratfor agrega que “el ritmo y el éxito de las operaciones dirigidas a los principales líderes de la Federación de Sinaloa obstaculizarán seriamente la capacidad del cártel para defender sus operaciones en el noroeste de México, que posiblemente lleve a la violencia sustancial en varias áreas a medida que organizaciones criminales rivales buscan explotar nuevas vulnerabilidades del cártel”.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Arizona Governor Fears Government Regulation Could Ruin Bigotry and Hatred

The Borowitz Report

February 22, 2014
Jan Brewer-290.jpg
PHOENIX (The Borowitz Report)—Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said today that she was reluctant to sign an anti-gay “religious freedom” bill passed by the Arizona state legislature this week, telling reporters, “I believe that bigotry and hatred should be free of government regulation.”
She said that while many Arizona business owners currently enjoy employing hateful practices, “I worry that if big government gets involved, that’ll ruin everything.”
“Don’t get me wrong—I think the anti-gay bill that the legislature passed was well-meaning,” she said. “All I’m saying is, let’s leave it to the private sector.”
Offering an example, she added, “Look at how Obamacare has messed up health care. I’d hate to pass a new law that results in government wrecking bigotry.”
But Governor Brewer got some pushback today from Republican legislator Harland Dorrinson, who told reporters, "I’m as opposed to big government as anyone. But promoting hate-based bias is one area where I believe government has an important role to play.”
For her part, Governor Brewer remains unconvinced by that argument. Noting that the current system of hatred and bigotry in place in Arizona has worked well for decades, she said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Photograph by Ross D. Franklin/AP.

NYC Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios Paoli

Video by Rafael Martínez Alequín

Lesson for de Blasio as His S.U.V. Breaks Rules of the Road

Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose caravan was caught speeding by a local news crew, is only the latest in a long line of New York officials who have been caught flat-footed by a transportation faux pas.

Friday, February 21, 2014

CBS 2 Exclusive: De Blasio’s Caravan Caught Speeding, Violating Traffic Laws

Embarrassment Comes Just Days After Mayor Announced New Traffic Safety Initiative

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Just days after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an aggressive plan to prevent traffic deaths, CBS 2 cameras caught the driver of a car carrying the mayor violating a number of traffic laws.
But the NYPD responded Thursday evening that the mayor’s caravan, which is operated by police, sometimes has to use special driving techniques for protective reasons.
As CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer reported Thursday, the mayor’s two-car caravan was seen speeding, blowing through stop signs, and violating other traffic laws. Kramer reported that if the driver of the lead car, which carried the mayor in its passenger seat, had been cited, he would have racked up enough points to get his license suspended.
When the mayor announced his 62-point safe streets initiative, which includes lowering the speed limit to 25 mph, he said, “We want the public to know that we are holding ourselves to this standard.”
But Kramer reported the mayor failed to practice what he preached Thursday.
CBS 2 crews found Mayor de Blasio’s cars going through a stop sign at a Queens intersection, and that wasn’t the only traffic violation caught on tape.
The safety violations came just two days after the mayor unveiled his traffic safety plan.
“We’ve put a very bold plan before you, and we want the public to know we’re are holding ourselves to this standard,” de Blasio said Tuesday.
The mayor’s two-car caravan violated speed laws and racked up other motor vehicle violations after he held a news conference in Maspeth, Queens on pothole repairs.
De Blasio even filled a pothole himself. The mayor was in the front passenger seat of the lead car, driven by a member of his security detail. But being in the front, the stop sign violations were clearly seen.
Kramer said as she followed de Blasio’s caravan, his words at the road safety press conference rang her ears.
“We hope that every time someone reads one of your stories, they’re also asking themselves the question — are they handling their vehicle as responsibly as they could?” the mayor said.
But as Kramer followed de Blasio, she saw his cars go 40 to 45 mph in a 30 mph zone, and as they passed a 45 mph sign, Kramer clocked the caravan going much faster – up to 60 mph.
Under his new plan, the mayor’s goal is to reduce traffic speeds from 30 to 25 in the city and stop cabbies from speeding, too.
“The likelihood of a fatal crash and this statistic is very powerful. The likelihood of a fatal crash drops significantly for speeds below 30 mph. If we get those speeds down, it will be the difference between losing a life and saving a life,” he said.
Kramer reported if a police officer had been following the cars, and had pulled the mayor’s caravan over for his violations and issued tickets, the lead driver would have had his license suspended:
• Driving or rolling through a stop sign: 3 points;
• Driving or rolling through a stop sign a second time: 3 points;
• Going 10 mph over the 30 mph speed limit: 3 points;
• Going 15 mph over the 45 mph speed limit: 4 points.
The grand total for all four violations, had they been handed out, is 13. Your license can be suspended if you rack up just 11 points.
And that was not all Kramer found. Cars were seen changing lanes without signaling, and when the mayor got back to City Hall, he stayed in his car in the parking lot. The chase car was unable to enter the City Hall Plaza, and ended up blocking the intersection and the crosswalk – forcing pedestrians to walk around it.
The NYPD released a statement suggesting that the traffic procedures by the mayor’s security detail may have been necessary:
“The security and transportation for the Mayor are provided by the New York City Police Department. Police Department personnel assigned to the Mayor’s Security Detail receive specialized training in driving based on maintaining security as well as safety. At certain times, under certain conditions, this training may include the use of techniques such as maintaining speed with the general flow of traffic, and may sometimes include tactics to safely keep two or more police vehicles together in formation when crossing intersections,” the NYPD said in the statement. “The handling of police vehicles transporting any protectee is determined solely by police personnel based on their specialized training in executive protection and professional judgment.”
The Mayor’s office also released a statement on the caravan’s traffic violations, referring questions to the NYPD.
“We believe public safety is everyone’s responsibility. We also recognize NYPD’s training and protocols, and refer questions related to security and transportation to them. With that in mind, Mayor de Blasio is firmly committed to the traffic safety policies outlined this week,” de Blasio Press Secretary Phil Walzak said in the statement.

New York Today: Winter Interruptus

Richard Perry/The New York Times
What you need to know for Friday and the weekend: rain today, glorious weather tomorrow, and following the mayor’s speeding car.
The Auburn Family Residence has been cited for over 400 violations.
Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
The Auburn Family Residence has been cited for over 400 violations.
Mayor Bill de Blasio will announce on Friday that his administration is removing hundreds of children from two shelters that inspectors have repeatedly cited for deplorable conditions, officials said.

For Christie, Awkward Return to a Setting He Once Ruled

The first town-hall-style meeting for Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey since controversy enveloped his administration showed how difficult it may be for him to recreate political magic.

2 Former Christie Aides Who Ignored Subpoenas Are Ordered to Court

A judge has ordered two former aides to Gov. Chris Christie to appear in court on March 11 to explain their refusal to turn over potential evidence to the George Washington Bridge lane closings investigation.

Leader of Port Authority’s Police Union to Reduce Role Amid Bridge Scandal

Paul Nunziato, the president of the union, told his membership on Thursday that he would step aside from the union’s day-to-day operations.
David Ranta, wrongly convicted in a 1990 killing, was freed last year. The office of New York City’s comptroller settled the case before a suit had been filed.
David B. Hollingsworth for The New York Times
David Ranta, wrongly convicted in a 1990 killing, was freed last year. The office of New York City’s comptroller settled the case before a suit had been filed.
The settlement of a claim filed by David Ranta was made by the comptroller’s office because of overwhelming evidence, lawyers said.

Junior’s Brooklyn Site Will Be Sold to Developer, but Restaurant Will Return

Junior’s Restaurant in Brooklyn will be torn down by a developer, but its owner says he plans to strike a deal that will allow its return as a ground-floor tenant.

Deal Reached on Litigation Over Long Island College Hospital

Under a settlement, the State University of New York would have to solicit new bids for the troubled hospital, which unions and community organizations are fighting to keep open.

Today Is My Last Day at Rolling Stone

Matt Taibbi. (photo: Rolling Stone)
Matt Taibbi. (photo: Rolling Stone)

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
20 February 14

oday is my last day at Rolling Stone. As of this week, I'm leaving to work for First Look Media, the new organization that's already home to reporters like Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras.
I'll have plenty of time to talk about the new job elsewhere. But in this space, I just want to talk about Rolling Stone, and express my thanks. Today is a very bittersweet day for me. As excited as I am about the new opportunity, I'm sad to be leaving this company.
More than 15 years ago, Rolling Stone sent a reporter, Brian Preston, to do a story on the eXile, the biweekly English-language newspaper I was editing in Moscow at the time with Mark Ames. We abused the polite Canadian Preston terribly - I think we thought we were being hospitable - and he promptly went home and wrote a story about us that was painful, funny and somewhat embarrassingly accurate. Looking back at that story now, in fact, I'm surprised that Rolling Stone managing editor Will Dana gave me a call years later, after I'd returned to the States.
I remember when Will called, because it was such an important moment in my life. I was on the American side of Niagara Falls, walking with friends, when my cell phone rang. Night had just fallen and when Will invited me to write a few things in advance of the 2004 presidential election, I nearly walked into the river just above the Falls.
At the time, I was having a hard time re-acclimating to life in America and was a mess personally. I was broke and having anxiety attacks. I specifically remember buying three cans of corned beef hash with the last dollars of available credit on my last credit card somewhere during that period. Anyway I botched several early assignments for the magazine, but Will was patient and eventually brought me on to write on a regular basis.
It was my first real job and it changed my life. Had Rolling Stone not given me a chance that year, God knows where I'd be - one of the ideas I was considering most seriously at the time was going to Ukraine to enroll in medical school, of all things.
In the years that followed, both Will and editor/publisher Jann S. Wenner were incredibly encouraging and taught me most of what I now know about this business. It's been an amazing experience. I've had a front-row seat for some of the strangest and most interesting episodes of our recent history. At various times, thanks to this magazine, I've spent days hiding in a cell at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, gone undercover in an apocalyptic church in Texas (where I learned to vomit my demons into a paper bag), and even helped run a campaign office for George W. Bush along the I-4 corridor in Florida, getting so into the assignment that I was involuntarily happy when Bush won.
I was at the Michael Jackson trial, so close to the defendant I could see the outlines of his original nose. I met past and future presidents. I shared Udon noodles with Dennis Kucinich in a van on a highway in Maine. And I paddled down the streets of Katrina-ravaged New Orleans, so deep into the disaster zone that a soldier in a rescue copter above mistook me for a victim and threw a Meal Ready to Eat off my head. I still have that MRE, it has some kind of pop tart in it - I'm going to give it to my son someday.
To be able to say you work for Rolling Stone, it's a feeling any journalist in his right mind should want to experience. The magazine's very name is like a magic word. I noticed it from the very first assignment. Even people who know they probably shouldn't talk to you, do, once they hear you're from the magazine Dr. Hook sang about. And if they actually see the business card, forget it. People will do anything to get into the magazine, to have some of that iconic cool rub off on them.
There were times when I would think about the great reporters and writers who've had the same job I was so lucky to have, and it would be almost overwhelming - it was like being the Dread Pirate Roberts. It was a true honor and I'll eternally be in the debt of Will and Jann, and Sean Woods and Coco McPherson and Victor Juhasz and Alison Weinflash and so many others with whom it was my privilege to work. I wish there was something I could say that is stronger than Thank You.
No journalist has ever been luckier than me. Thank you, Rolling Stone.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Republicans to Discontinue Use of E-Mail

The Borowitz Report

February 20, 2014

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Citing the scandals embroiling Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the Republican Governors Association today ordered its members to discontinue the use of e-mail, “effective immediately.”
According to a memo sent to all Republican governors, “Any plots, schemes, conspiracies, or violations of campaign-finance laws should be conducted using pay phones or easily disposable cell phones such as the ones used on ‘The Wire.’ ” The governors were instructed to read the memo once and then either burn or eat it.
Asked to comment on the new policy, Governor Walker’s office responded, “The recipient’s e-mail address was not found in the recipient’s e-mail system. Please check the e-mail address and try resending this message.”
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Putin After Hockey Loss: “This Must Be What an Actual Election Feels Like”

February 19, 2014

Sad Putin hockey-580.jpg
SOCHI (The Borowitz Report)—Minutes after the Russian men’s hockey team fell to Finland 3-1, a devastated President Vladimir Putin told reporters, “This must be what an actual election feels like.”
Reliving the horrible experience of watching his team lose to the Finns, the Russian leader said, “As the game went on, I started thinking to myself, ‘My God, I have no idea what the outcome of this is going to be.’ I had never experienced that feeling before. It was ghastly.”
Speaking of world leaders who have had to run in free and fair elections, Putin said, “I admire their moxie. I really do. But after what I just went through today, I can definitely say it’s not for me.”
Photograph by Sasha Mordovets/Getty.

Citing ‘Inequality Crisis,’ Mayor Names Top Legal Adviser and Fills 2 Other Jobs

Donna M. Corrado, left, will lead the Department for the Aging; Emily Lloyd, center, will take an environmental protection post and Maya Wiley was named the mayor’s chief legal adviser.  Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times
Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Maya Wiley as legal adviser on Tuesday and appointed the leaders of the Department of Aging and the Department of Environmental Protection.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

An Affordable Housing Project Faces Opposition in Wealthy Chappaqua

Launch media viewer
Chappaqua’s village center. Ángel Franco/The New York Times

The overwhelmingly white community, ranked among America’s wealthiest, has been churned up by plans to build housing for black and Hispanic newcomers with much lower incomes.

Let NYC pay for its pre-K


Our opinion: If New York City covers pre-K for its children, it will free up funds for the rest of the state. So what’s the problem?
The entirely legitimate discussion over how to provide pre-kindergarten to New York’s children has deteriorated into an utterly useless and self-serving debate over such nonsense as which areas of the state are the neediest.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wants permission from the state Legisature to use a special income tax on wealthy people who live or work in his city to pay for full-day pre-K classes in the five boroughs.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has a different idea. He prefers to use money from the state budget to fund pre-K for the entire state, including New York City. No need to tax the rich — to whom the governor hopes to give tax cuts.
Detractors say Mr. de Blasio’s plan would just drive more of the well-off away from the state, shifting the entire tax burden on everyone else.
Mr. Cuomo added his own twist last week, arguing that pre-K should not be something only rich school districts can afford — implying, it seems, that Mr. de Blasio’s plan to have his city pay for its own program was an elitist approach that somehow harms the poor children of the rest of the state.
Mr. de Blasio didn’t help his cause by responding that pre-school children in the New York City are among the poorest in the nation. Immediately, mayors and state senators from across the state reacted angrily, saying they were offended by Mr. de Blasio’s remarks and that their communities were just as poor or even more impoverished than the Big Apple.
Lost in these sidetracks is this fact: Mr. de Blasio’s idea would help the rest of New York out, a reality that should be obvious to Mr. Cuomo, Senate Republicans, and upstate mayors.
The governor well knows that coming up with enough money to fund pre-K statewide from the tight state budget will be no easy task, especially when he’s also proposing a two-year program to freeze local property taxes while giving high earners a tax break. Mr. Cuomo’s executive budget doesn’t come close to fully funding pre-K statewide. His excuse — that universal pre-K would take some years to fully implement — only skirts the issue.
Here’s some simple math for the governor: Allowing Mr. de Blasio to pay for pre-K by taxing the richest people who live and work in New York City would cover 750,000 children. It would not only allow the mayor to honor a campaign promise; it would mean New York City doesn’t have to depend on the state for this particular chunk of aid. Put another way, the money New York City wouldn’t need would be freed up for the rest of the state’s school districts to implement pre-K.
And Mr. Cuomo would get credit for bringing about a smart, popular pre-K program without having to raise taxes, maintaining his image as socially progressive but fiscally conservative.
We fail to see a downside here — unless asking New York City’s wealthiest residents to pay a little more for the sake of a better future for New York and its children is what’s really troubling Mr. Cuomo.

Monday, February 17, 2014

De Blasio Strikes Conciliatory Note on Pre-K

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, left, and Mayor Bill de Blasio at the Wilborn Temple in Albany on Sunday.
Mike Groll/Associated Press
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, left, and Mayor Bill de Blasio at the Wilborn Temple in Albany on Sunday.
At a church service in Albany, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was joined by Mayor Bill de Blasio, in town for the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus Weekend.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Character Study: Her Creative Exuberance Has No Limits

Now this widow with waning strength has resumed the quest, and is more productive and ambitious than ever, working all day, every day.
“I was always driven,” she said. “I can’t sleep if I don’t do my artwork.”
For evidence of this obsession, let us now enter a four-bedroom house in Maplewood, N.J., where Ms. Wint, 85, lived for the past 30 years.

Even after months of neatening by her son Ted Wint, the house is still so crowded with prints, canvases and sculptures that one can move through it only in narrow walkways.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

After Storm, 100% Attendance Is Not 100% Accurate

A few schools in New York City reported perfect or near-perfect attendance rates, but a few of them were inaccurately high.