Welcome! "What's Happenin'?" is a casual community diary (a daily series, 8:30 AM Eastern on weekdays, 10 AM on weekends and holidays) where we hang out and talk about the goings on here and everywhere.
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Chesapeake Bay. (Photo by joanneleon. March, 2012)
“For me, the Nashville flood was a milestone. For many, Hurricane Sandy may prove to be a similar event: a time when the climate crisis — which is often sequestered to the far reaches of our everyday awareness became a reality.”
-- Al Gore
|David Bowie - Changes
day or night
to say hello.
News and Opinion
After Sandy, a great and complex city reveals traumas new and old
I think it's important to be clear: I have very little comprehensive knowledge of what services this city is supposed to provide in a disaster; just a regular citizen's default belief that it can't be possible that tax-paying city dwellers should be allowed to remain without power and heat for extended periods of time without some government aid; that citizens of New York City who, in these reduced circumstances, find themselves in the cross-hairs of a nor'easter promising massive snowfall, high winds and bone-snapping cold temperatures should, without applying a tremendous amount of their own resourcefulness to the problem, find themselves safe, in the fundamental things, in the expert hands of their government and its agencies.
Having spent so much of the storm's aftermath in the blackout areas without power or phone reception, moreover, I have little sense beyond what I saw with my own eyes of the extent to which that is indeed what happened, ultimately, in the places I visited or elsewhere. Or who is being blamed, and for what, in the aftermath of the storm, when it hasn't.
Even what I saw when I went to Coney Island, the Rockaways, Sea Gate and other hard-hit areas of southern Brooklyn and Queens changed wildly, from day to day but perhaps more tellingly from block to block and varied from what others who were working with us in different neighborhoods experienced.
Most shocking, perhaps, beyond the actual violence of the storm, is the degree to which the people both suffering the worst of these effects and answering these demands are often the ones with the fewest resources and the smallest possible footprint. While I have no doubt there are plenty of city agency employees hard at work to make things right, almost without fail, what is being done in the neighborhoods I visited is being done by local community organizers or organizations like the increasingly impressive Occupy Sandy group, who have taken it upon themselves to muster some sort of makeshift relief effort and were doing the best they could to see that the resources they accumulated were delivered to the people most in need.
Those people, meanwhile, appear to be left to rely completely on their own resources and the generosity (and as importantly) the organization of others.
At the end of nearly two weeks, the majority of which was spent traveling to the most devastated areas of Brooklyn and Queens, I could not tell you, nor could very many people I met, what government agencies a person could expect to arrive to help them in this disaster because I saw so few on the ground who might know.
Obama tours Staten Island, taps Shaun Donovan as 'point person' for rebuilding
After touring the damage in and around New York City today, President Obama announced in his remarks on Staten Island that Shaun Donovan, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, would serve as the administration's "point person" for the region's rebuilding efforts.
The president praised the work being done by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and by Health and Human Services secretary Janet Napolitano, but said those efforts had been mostly focused on relief efforts, and that Donovan's focus would be on the rebuilding process.
Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys among stars to perform in Sandy benefit concert
Jon Bon Jovi, Roger Waters, Kanye West and The Who will also play at next month's gig, dubbed the 12-12-12 concert, to aid victims of the superstorm
Organizers will soon announce an on-sale date for tickets. The event will also be viewable by telecast, on a network yet to be determined.
All money raised for the Sandy concert will be administered by the Robin Hood Relief Fund, an anti-poverty group.
The "12-12-12" show follows a Sandy-related telethon produced the week of the storm, that also featured Springsteen, Bon Jovi and Joel.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/...
Imagine All My WordsReally needs to be read in full.
Like rain into a paper cup, words fairly giggled out of John Lennon’s pen nearly every day of his too-short 40 years. Now Hunter Davies, the Beatles’ early “authorized” 1968 biographer, has collected 285 Lennon letters, postcards, telegrams and to-do lists from early childhood to Dec. 8, 1980, hours before he was killed. They are bound in a handsome layout with reproductions of every entry, many of which are typed—hilariously—beside Davies’ transcriptions. Almost all reward close inspection both for Lennon’s intriguingly loose hand and whimsical cartoons. If he hadn’t become a songwriter/performer, Lennon could easily have gained notoriety as a scathing countercultural satirist on a par with B. Kliban or George Crumb.
Sandy's Secret Survivors: Old, Disabled and Invisible in the Rockaways
Two weeks after Hurricane Sandy, aid to the shut-in elderly and disabled in New York's Rockaways remains haphazard and inadequate.
"If we hadn't randomly found this housing complex, and taken the initiative to knock on their doors, we would have never known they were there or how dire their situation is," Nicole Richards, a fellow volunteer commented about our experience. "To me, that's really frightening."
According to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), 1 in every 18 residents in public housing is disabled to a point of being immobile without the aid of a wheelchair or machine; the number of those who are elderly and too frail to walk a long distance is much higher. Though there are no concrete numbers for the number of senior citizens living in the other housing complexes, the vast majority of the residents who opened their doors to me at 711 Seagirt Boulevard were elderly - and most of them appeared to live alone.
FEMA finally arrived in the Rockaways the Thursday after the storm - but agency workers have mostly kept to their own offices and a few distribution centers. Though they are handing out government-supplied food and water to those who come to their Disaster Recovery Centers, FEMA has emphasized that their priority is instructing residents on how to register for FEMA assistance, rather than giving out direct aid.
Congressional Leaders Optimistic After White House Meeting on Fiscal Slope
This is just madness. It’s a forced austerity march to the sea for no discernible reason, which can be avoided simply through cancellation. The goal is to PREVENT austerity, not figure out how to implement it.
The sham of Simpson-Bowles
By Rep. Jan Schakowsky OCTOBER 24, 2012
In one of its few specific points, for example, Simpson-Bowles mandates a top individual tax rate of 29 percent “or less.” Much like the vague Romney proposals, the Simpson-Bowles plan would make up the shortfall by eliminating tax loopholes, suggesting options such as having employees pay taxes on their health benefits. Not only is this likely to increase costs to middle-income families, it could threaten coverage altogether. The proposal for corporate tax reform would eliminate taxes on profits earned overseas, rewarding companies that move jobs offshore.
Somehow, being willing to cut “entitlement” benefits has been called a “badge of courage” for those who purport to be serious about deficit reduction– despite the fact that Social Security has not contributed one thin dime to the deficit.
What Happened to the Green New Deal?
Out of the ashes of Obama's green-collar vision, a worker-run business may point the way to the economy of the future.
Last election, Obama had an economic plan and wasn't afraid to embrace government as a primary creator of jobs. With markets melting down, almost half a million people being fired a month, and automakers and banks emitting a death rattle, Obama presented a sweeping vision of tackling health care, global warming, a rogue Wall Street and reshaping the decaying industrial economy with a green-collar one. Liberals dubbed it a Green New Deal and fantasized about the land blossoming with solar panels, electric cars and high-speed trains as new regulations cut corporations down to size.
Obama botched the plan, however. He inflated hopes in 2008 that his policies would create 5 million green-collar jobs in a decade. He then skimped by allocating only $90 billion in stimulus money for clean energy, producing a measly 225,000 jobs after 18 months by the White House's own estimates.
Spain reports third eviction-linked suicide in less than a month
“At 11 o’clock this morning a person jumped from a window to the road,” a police spokeswoman said. The man was facing eviction and he died just after the arrival of an ambulance, she said.
On Thursday the government announced a two-year halt to evictions of the most vulnerable homeowners following an outcry over suicides linked to a surge in mortgage-related expulsions.
On November 9, 53-year-old former Socialist politician Amaia Egana jumped out of her apartment window to her death in the northern Basque municipality of Barakaldo as bailiffs were set to evict her.
Her suicide came 15 days after 53-year-old Jose Luis Domingo hanged himself shortly before bailiffs came to turn him out of his home in the southern city of Granada.
'It's got to do with Iran': Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks' unguarded comments about Gaza conflictFisk wrote this a couple of weeks ago.
Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks is caught off guard during a Radio 4 Today programme broadcast when he is asked about the Gaza conflict
He initially responded: "I think it's got to do with Iran, actually", before being told he was live on air.
He quickly responded by making a plea for peace saying: "A continued prayer for peace is needed, not only in Gaza but the whole region".
Regardless of whether Obama or Romney wins, America's relations with the Arab World will change
The Long View: Every reader of this article will be dead or of old age before the Arab "revolution" is complete. Palestinians are the only ones not to benefit from it
The critical point is that the Arab Awakening (please let's forget the "Spring" bit) represents a people calling for dignity. It includes non-Arab Muslims as well – what else was the mini-green revolution after the last Iranian elections? – and it means that the millions who live in the part of the world we still like to call the Middle East – it doesn't feel very "middle" when you live there – now intend to make their own decisions, based on their wishes, not on those of their former satrap presidents and – in turn – their masters in Washington. La Clinton still seems not to have grasped this. Maybe Obama does. Romney? I bet he couldn't draw a map of the nations in the area, except for one, of course.
Contrary to the Western belief that the Arabs are all struggling for "democracy", the battle and the tragedy of the Middle East today – whether in the aftermath of the "soft" revolution in Tunisia or the butchery of Syria – is about that word dignity, about the right as a human being to say what you like about whomever you want and not to let a despot take personal ownership of a whole country (as long as he has the permission of the United States) and treat it as his private property.
But the days when US presidents instruct the potentates of the Middle East what to say and do are coming to an end. It will be a long time before the Saudi regime crumbles, along with all the other gas stations in the Gulf. And I suppose it must be said that the tragedy of the Palestinians probably lies at the heart of the Arab Awakening.
Alas, the Palestinians are the only ones not to benefit from the Arab revolutions. There is not enough land left for them to have a state. This is a fact beyond peradventure (as Enoch Powell used to say). Anyone doubting these words should book a flight to Israel and take a look at the West Bank. There is no place left for Palestine; this is the real tragedy that US presidents must face in the coming years.
Bodies for Ballots
They say when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. But when you are a politician and all you have is a hammer, you must convince voters every problem looks like a nail. This is the only thinking that can explain Israel’s behavior in escalating bombardment of Gaza.
The Israeli spin machines are out in full force in the hopes of convincing Israelis and the rest of the world that the attacks on Gaza are in self-defense. But anyone following the situation closely and over time will tell you that cannot be the case.
Eric Holder Owes America Some AnswersOn the same day that the BP settlement was announced, another oil rig explodes. The majority owner of this company appears to be a Wall Street firm.
Eric Holder has said he doesn’t know if he will stay on as U.S. attorney general, now that President Barack Obama has been re-elected. Here’s something to help them decide: A story about how the Justice Department got caught fudging its numbers on financial-fraud prosecutions -- again.
Black Elk Energy accident renews offshore oil safety questionsThe whole thing was the fault of a couple of "bad apples" I guess. @@
“One of the big concerns in the industry is whether we’ve got a viable offshore oil and gas industry in the way we’ve known it in the past, with all the new regulations,” he said.
Other industry executives said the accident should be viewed more like an onshore industrial accident than a potential cataclysm like the Horizon spill. “This can’t be compared to BP,” said Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association. “When men are on a platform and they’re welding and cutting, it’s a high-risk industry. We have accidents.”
With more than 3,700 platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, a single accident should not be considered a sign of a significant safety problem, he said. “This is not like going to the grocery store,” Briggs said. “It’s a serious business and we already have all kinds of regulations.”
The company also paid a $300,000 civil fine in September related to an April 2011 site inspection that found the company was not following proper testing procedures on one of its platforms. And it’s facing another civil penalty of $140,000 for an October 2011 incident on another platform.
Last month, the company announced a major expansion, including plans to drill 23 new wells in the Gulf of Mexico. According to its quarterly statement, the company has an interest in 1,167 wells, including 351 that are producing oil or gas, and has an interest in oil leases representing 560,000 acres.
The company’s majority equity owner is Platinum Partners Value Arbitrage Fund.
BP to pay $4 billion for felonies in spill deaths; workers also charged
“The government is trying to sell the fiction that the deaths of 11 men and the worst environmental disaster in our nation’s history was caused because two guys working on a rig misinterpreted a test,” Clarke said. “It is beyond ludicrous.”
BP said it will now focus on resolving remaining claims, which include Clean Water Act fines that could add billions more to BP’s already hefty tab. Thursday’s settlement doesn’t address that issue. It previously paid out or committed tens of billions of dollars for cleanup costs and on compensating victims.
It was not clear if BP’s partners involved in the disaster, Deepwater Horizon rig owner Transocean and cement contractor Halliburton, also would resolve any criminal liability they might face now that BP has. Officials at those companies did not respond to requests for comments late Wednesday and early Thursday.
Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest
Another must read (that I somehow missed yesterday):
Where We Stand
It feels like a truce without a truce really announced. #Gaza Israeli drones flying over everywhere.— Wael(@WillOuda) November 16, 2012
1:45AM Airstrikes is back after 1 hour of calm. #Gaza— Wael(@WillOuda) November 16, 2012
Reports Israeli military sending text messages to mobiles in Gazawarning: "The next phase is on the way. Stay away from Hamas elements."— Jen Lavery (@JenniferLavery) November 16, 2012
@shamajunejo 75,000 is way over whats needed for a Gaza invasion even on the scale of 2006. Could be possibility preparing for wider war— Ghanem Nuseibeh غانم (@gnuseibeh) November 17, 2012
Things officially are crazy now #Gaza— Wael(@WillOuda) November 17, 2012
3:58AM airstrikes reported everywhere in #Gaza strip from the north to the south,, EVERYWHERE— Wael(@WillOuda) November 17, 2012
Steven Tyler and many more Artists Hurricane Sandy Coming Together
Remember when progressive debate was about our values and not about a "progressive" candidate? Remember when progressive websites championed progressive values and didn't tell progressives to shut up about values so that "progressive" candidates can get elected?
Come to where the debate is not constrained by oaths of fealty to persons or parties.
Come to where the pie is served in a variety of flavors.
"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum." ~ Noam Chomsky