Thursday, June 30, 2016

Topping The Month Off With Toffler

"Alvin Toffler, 87; his ‘Future Shock’ provided prescient glimpse forward" by Keith Schneider New York Times  June 29, 2016

NEW YORK — Alvin Toffler, the celebrated author of “Future Shock,” the first in a trilogy of best-selling books that presciently forecast how people and institutions of the late 20th century would contend with the immense strains and soaring opportunities of accelerating change, died Monday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 87.

His death was confirmed by his consulting firm, Toffler Associates, based in Reston, Virginia.

Toffler was a self-trained social science scholar and successful freelance magazine writer in the mid-1960s when he decided to spend five years studying the underlying causes of a cultural upheaval that he saw overtaking the United States and other developed countries.

The fruit of his research, “Future Shock” (1970), was published in more than 100 countries, selling millions of copies, and catapulted Toffler to international fame. It is still in print.

In the book, in which he synthesized disparate facts from every corner of the globe, he concluded that the convergence of science, capital and communications was producing such swift change that it was creating an entirely new kind of society.

His predictions about the consequences to culture, the family, government and the economy were remarkably accurate. He foresaw the development of cloning, the popularity and influence of personal computers and the invention of the internet, cable television and telecommuting.

“The roaring current of change,” he said, was producing visible and measurable affects in individuals that fractured marriages, overwhelmed families and caused “confusional breakdowns” manifested in rising crime, drug use and social alienation. He saw these phenomena as very human psychological responses to disorientation and proposed that they were challenging the very structures of communities, institutions and nations.

He continued these themes in two successful follow-up books, “The Third Wave” (1980) and “Powershift” (1990), assisted by his wife, Heidi Toffler, who served as a researcher and editor for the trilogy and was a named co-author in subsequent books. She survives him.

Then he saw the future.

“The Third Wave” was the No. 2 best seller in China. 

Toffler popularized the phrase “information overload.”


His warnings could be bleak, cautioning that people and institutions that failed to keep pace with change would face ruin. But he was generally optimistic. He was among the first authors to recognize that knowledge, not labor and raw materials, would become the most important economic resource of advanced societies.

Critics were not sure what to make of Toffler.

In recent years, benefiting from hindsight, some critics said Toffler had gotten much wrong. Shel Israel, an author and commentator who writes about social media for Forbes, took issue with Toffler in 2012 for painting “a picture of people who were isolated and depressed, cut off from human intimacy by a relentless fire hose of messages and data barraging us.”

But, he added: “We are not isolated by it. And when the information overloads us, most people are still wise enough to use the power of the ‘Off’ button to gain some peace.”

Yup. Soon to be hit here.

In writing “Future Shock” 46 years ago, Toffler acknowledged that the future he saw coming might ultimately differ in the details from what actually came to pass.

“No serious futurist deals in ‘predictions,’” he wrote in the book’s introduction. “These are left for television oracles and newspaper astrologers.”

He advised readers to “concern themselves more and more with general theme, rather than detail.” That theme, he emphasized, was that “the rate of change has implications quite apart from, and sometimes more important than, the directions of change.”


Brexiting June

See: The New York Times and the New World Order

It must be big news then.

"Economic panic rising, Britain hopes to stay in European market" by Stephen Castle and Sewell Chan New York Times  June 27, 2016

LONDON — Britain struggled Monday to absorb the magnitude of its voters’ decision to leave the European Union, and there were no signs that the EU would let Britain off the hook so easily.

On Monday morning, George Osborne, the chancellor of the Exchequer, tried to calm the markets, citing Britain’s underlying economic strengths. But the markets did not seem assuaged.

SeeStocks, pound fall again due to UK vote uncertainty

Maybe if you gave it a day.


In the first meeting of Parliament since the referendum, Prime Minister David Cameron said he considered the referendum binding. About three-quarters of lawmakers had supported remaining in the EU.

A senior Conservative lawmaker, Kenneth Clarke, suggested that Parliament could override the referendum — which is not, in the end, binding on the government — while a Labor legislator, David Lammy, called for a second referendum....

What part of NO do they not understand?


"Brexit is a symptom of globalization’s deeper ills" by Jeffrey D. Sachs   June 27, 2016

Populist supporters tend to be older, whiter, less educated, and working class. They believe that immigration is out of control, culturally destabilizing, and adverse to their economic interests. They believe that the political and financial elites have joined forces to abuse power, evade taxes, and twist globalization toward narrow ends.

These attitudes are not racist, xenophobic, or fascist (despite claims to the contrary, and despite enough racists and xenophobes in our midst). They are based on facts on the ground. At the same time, inequality of income has soared; the top have made off with the prize.

The economic elites took little interest in this: Companies made profits on low- wage immigrant labor, while richer consumers enjoyed the low-cost services supplied by the immigrants. The elites turned a blind eye to the falling wages of the working class, who were also being hit by increased trade competition, offshoring of jobs, and automation.

US militarism has greatly amplified the migration. The US war on drugs in Latin America has caused mass violence and a flood of refugees into the United States. The senseless, absurd contra wars of Central America in the 1980s destabilized the US neighbors. The recent CIA-led efforts to topple governments in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, and elsewhere have been the single biggest cause of the influx of refugees to Europe.

I'm stunned to see such things in print.

Dire effects could arise from bad policy responses. The worst would be to mock or ignore the underlying causes of Brexit. Anti-immigrant, populist politics require a change of policies in the United States and Europe.


MICHAEL A. COHEN Blame the voters for Brexit
MICHAEL A. COHEN In defense of politicians

He didn't learn.

OPINION | ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ Post-Brexit, US needs a centrist leader

Who do you think he means? Certainly not Trump.

The rich countries really do need border controls. The potential flow of migrants in search of peace, jobs, and generous social benefits will otherwise be overwhelming. Yet the pressures on migration will be unstoppable unless the source regions are themselves peaceful and economically viable. The United States should ask itself why its near-neighborhood is so violent, war torn, poor, and financially strapped (including the recent bankruptcy of Puerto Rico). And then it should look in the mirror, heaven forbid, to remember how US policies have contributed to these awful outcomes.

The United States has been the magnet for narcotics trafficking; the overwhelming supplier of small arms throughout Central America and the Caribbean; the hub of regional organized crime; the author of countless CIA-led coups against democratic governments (too many to list here), often to protect US corporate interests; and the leading contributor to human-induced climate change that now creates environmental refugees. Through it all, the US political elite has been generally uncaring of the consequences.

Brexit, in short, is a powerful signal of deep and pervasive problems in our approach to globalization. The proper response is to fix the deeper problems. Within our economies we need to combine realistic limits on migration with a social-democratic ethos to take care of those left behind by globalization. Abroad, we need to shift from war to sustainable development. The United States and Europe will be secure only when their neighborhoods are also prospering and safe.... 

Then we are all doomed because the looting leaders and their psychopathic political puppets are driving us in the other direction.



"‘Texit’? British vote revives a Texas secession dream, spawns hashtag" New York Times  June 30, 2016

HOUSTON — And it’s not just Texas. Brexit has given a nudge to modest pre-existing secession movements in New England, as well. On Sunday, a small group of demonstrators gathered in Manchester, N.H., to support “NHexit.”


"Taking a cue from Great Britain's recent historic vote to leave the European Union, a group of New Hampshire residents is now advocating for the state's independence. The Concord Monitor reported 13 members of the "NHexit" movement gathered Sunday in front of the Norris Cotton Federal Building in Manchester to push their agenda of breaking away from the United States. NHexit founder and organizer Dave Ridley said his goal is to use Great Britain's exit from the EU to bring attention to issues has with the federal government, such as taxation. Ridley said the federal government is so corrupt that the values of New Hampshire and the rest of the country no longer align." 

That's where it all started. Don't tread on me!

And in Vermont, a secession movement, the Second Vermont Republic, wrote that it had received a surge of inquiries in the days after the Brexit referendum. 

The other side of the northern New England coin.

Despite the excitement online, there is no formal legal means under federal law that would allow Texas to secede. In 2013, the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, Jon Carson, said as much in a written response to an online secession petition.

You expected a different response, like go ahead and break off?

“Our founding fathers established the Constitution of the United States ‘in order to form a more perfect union’ through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government,” Carson wrote....

And the federal government will murder millions rather than allow you to declare independence from what has become an imperfect union, rather than allow relatively peaceful secession like the Soviets in 1991.


You know where I want to secede from.

"EU leaders divided over how to respond to British vote to leave" by James Kanter and Alison Smale New York Times  June 28, 2016

BRUSSELS — Stunned and divided by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, leaders of the bloc’s member states converged in Brussels on Tuesday to prepare for a painful divorce, although Britain’s own political crisis made any rapid separation unlikely.

Going to drag it out, huh?

European leaders were struggling to strike a delicate balance: leaving the door open just enough for a possible compromise with Britain, while making it clear that they would not make any further concessions to get Britain to change its mind.

Is there anything they could do?

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said she would use “all her strength” to prevent the European Union from drifting apart, but she emphasized that nothing legally could be done to address Britain’s relations with the bloc until it triggered the legal mechanism for leaving — Merkel told her Parliament that Britain would want to maintain “close relations” with the European Union but also signaled that it could not expect business as usual.

Merkel quashed any idea of exploring alternative arrangements before then until Britain starts formal procedures to leave. She made it clear that Britain could not expect full access to the EU’s common market without accepting its conditions, including the free movement of people. Immigration was the crux of the often ugly debate that accompanied the so-called Brexit campaign, Merkel said.

President François Hollande of France was among a group of European leaders who pushed Britain to act quickly and resolve the uncertainty that has consumed the Continent.

“We need to begin the United Kingdom’s exit process from the European Union as quickly as possible, and then start the negotiations that will follow,” Hollande said. “I can’t imagine that a British government, whichever one it may be, would not respect the choice of its own people.” 

I can; we see governments doing it all the time. They are trying to do it was I type. 

Besides, he has his own problems.

Hollande said that Britain had decided to leave and that it was important for the EU to move on.

Other leaders shared Hollande’s impatience, but Joseph Muscat, the prime minister of Malta, said the bloc should not obsess over the minutiae of Britain’s departure but instead on the bloc’s future.

“I think it’s utterly disappointing that, when we are faced with the biggest political crisis in the history of the European Union, what’s grabbing the headlines is the obscure Article 50,” he told reporters, referring to the treaty provision that details how a country can leave the bloc.

The major issue is “that this is a Europe that people are feeling increasingly estranged from and that it is in our duty that we take action,” he said.

Cameron, who plans to resign by October, arrived for what was almost certainly his final meeting at the European Council, was scheduled to dine with his counterparts to discuss the aftershocks of the referendum but will then return to London....

The rest has been cut and then reedited, and I've seen that movie before. 

Apparently, the pre$$ didn't like Farage shoving it up the EU's a$$.



"The bloc faces a bewildering range of concerns beyond the pending divorce with Britain: a continuing migration crisis; pressures on the eurozone; a resurgent Russia; the precarious economy in several countries, notably Greece; terrorist attacks like the one that killed scores at Istanbul’s main airport Thursday night; and populist, anti-European movements roiling domestic politics across many nations." 

Leaders of Europe are traversing the various stages of grief — anger in particular. 

HA-HA. How does it feel?

"With parties in turmoil, Britain weighs a general election" by Steven Erlanger and Stephen Castle New York Times  June 30, 2016

LONDON — There is growing talk that the endgame for Britain’s political crisis could be another general election, perhaps as soon as this fall, in an effort to bring some clarity to the nation’s leadership and direction after the vote last week to leave the European Union. 

If at first you don't succeed, rig, rig again.

The current Parliament, elected in May 2015, still has nearly four years of its five-year term to run. But once the Conservatives settle on a successor to David Cameron as prime minister, a process that is likely to play out by September, the new prime minister may well want to secure his or her own electoral mandate, especially given the sharp turn Britain has taken and the conflicts over how and whether to proceed with the process of decoupling from Europe.

But even the question of an early general election is proving divisive.

Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London and a leader of the Leave campaign, has been canvassing fellow Conservative members of Parliament, seeking support for his candidacy and getting their views on the advantages of an early general election, but his main rival, Theresa May, the home secretary, who supported staying in the EU, is considered more of a continuity candidate and may not want to go back to voters so soon.

It is the prospect of a quick election that has motivated Labor members in Parliament to try to oust their party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, voting overwhelmingly on Tuesday for a motion of no confidence in him that is a necessary prelude to a leadership contest.

Well, at least the $tring-pullers behind government will have a silver lining to all this.

The rebels fear that under Corbyn, 67, a leftist who has repudiated what remained of the centrist New Labor movement of the Tony Blair era, the party will be crushed and they will lose their seats with an even worse showing than in the last general election.

How did Bliar help? He lied them into Iraq, and now his party is paying the price. 

Related: “Your Lies Killed My Son’’ 

Whatever happened to that investigation and report anyway?

It is unclear whether Corbyn remains as popular among the rank-and-file after leading a halfhearted campaign to keep Britain in the EU, when many traditional Labor voters chose to stay home or vote against the party’s position.

The outcome of any contest would also depend on whom the more centrist Labor legislators find to run against Corbyn. That may be Angela Eagle, a senior figure of the softer left and the daughter of a printworker, or a more centrist figure like Tom Watson, who was elected deputy leader last year. Other possible contenders include Dan Jarvis and Chuka Umunna, both of whom decided not to run against Corbyn last year, or Yvette Cooper, who did and lost.

“Jeremy would be letting down Labor voters and communities across the country who badly need a strong Labor voice right now, and who badly need a Labor government, if he drags this out any longer,” Cooper said. “I hope he does the right thing in the party and stands down swiftly because we cannot drift and leave” the Conservatives “to shape Britain’s future.”

In Parliament on Wednesday, Cameron got in on the act, calling on Corbyn to quit and attributing to him some of the blame for the outcome of the referendum.

“It might be in my party’s interest for him to sit there,” Cameron said. “It’s not in the national interest. And I would say, ‘For heaven’s sake man, go!’ ”

How interesting that that failure there is commenting on politics in the other party.

For the Conservatives, there is at least a clear path toward a new leader, and Johnson and May are clear favorites. But party history suggests that favorites sometimes founder....

Does it really matter what Rothschild puppet rules in Britain?



"Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn overwhelmingly lost a no-confidence motion among his fellow lawmakers. It technically changes nothing. “I was a democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60 percent of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning,” Corbyn said after the vote by Labour members of Parliament. “Today’s vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy.” He added: “We are a democratic party with a clear constitution. Our people need Labour Party members, trade unionists, and MPs to unite behind my leadership at a critical time for our country.” In the aftermath of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Corbyn has been hit by the mass resignation of most of his leadership team. While Corbyn, a lifelong euroskeptic, did urge Labour supporters to vote to remain, critics regarded his campaign as lackluster and his message as lukewarm. Corbyn’s staunch ally John McDonnell, the party’s top spokesman on economic issues, has said that Corbyn is “not going anywhere.” 

He shall fight on the beaches, he shall fight on the landing grounds, he shall fight in the fields and in the streets, he shall fight in the hills; he shall never surrender.

Jeremy Corbyn Draws Analogy Between ISIS and Israel

Boris Johnson Quits Tory Leadership Race

There Will Be No Early General Election

Why There Will Probably Be a Second Referendum on Brexit

Looks like London has lost its luster.

"Spanish parties reject attempt to form governing coalition" by Ciaran Giles Associated Press  June 27, 2016

MADRID — Spanish politics have been in an ungovernable deadlock since December. Part of the problem is that Spain, unlike other European nations, has never had a coalition government. Instead, the Popular Party and the Socialists have alternated in power for decades. That means the political art of forging a coalition government deal is new to all.

‘‘With his big victory, Mariano Rajoy, the leader of Spain’s conservative Popular Party, now certainly has a stronger hand than after the December election,’’ Antonio Barroso, a London-based analyst with the Teneo Intelligence political risk consulting group, said Monday. ‘‘However, it is unlikely that other parties will rapidly give him their support.’’

In third place with 71 seats was the left-wing United We Can group, which brings together the communists, the Greens, and the 2-year-old Podemos party that grew out of a grass-roots antiausterity protest movement.

The alliance, headed by pony-tailed political science professor Pablo Iglesias, had been heavily expected to overtake the Socialists and break the country’s traditional two-party political system, but it did not. 

Another rigged vote!!

The United We Can’s main goal has always been to oust the Popular Party and install a leftist government, so it’s unlikely to lend Rajoy any support.

The German government, meanwhile, called for an end to the stalemate. 

What business is it of theirs?

‘‘We hope that the parliamentary election opens the door to the quick formation of a government and that Spain’s good path, with reforms and growth and falling unemployment, can be continued,’’ German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in Berlin.

The newly-elected deputies will take their seat July 19, after which King Felipe VI will consult party leaders and likely nominate one to try to form a government. Rajoy said he hoped the country would have a government by August.

‘‘The pressure on the mainstream parties to avoid a third round of elections will be immense,’’ Berenberg Bank economist Holger Schmieding wrote in an e-mail.

After the December election, Rajoy acknowledged he didn’t have any support to form a government and renounced the opportunity to even try. The king then called on the second-placed Socialists to try, but they were also unable and the monarch eventually called for a repeat election. 

No one wants to work with the people, huh?

In recent years, the Popular Party had championed its role in Spain’s economic recovery following a severe crisis but it has been deeply criticized for the country’s high unemployment, cuts in government spending, and its involvement in corruption scandals.


It's a political scenario that could leave Spain with a caretaker government for many more months.

"Ikea recalls 29 million chests and dressers after 6 children die" by Mike McPhate New York Times  June 29, 2016

NEW YORK — In a deal with federal regulators, Ikea announced Tuesday that it would recall 29 million chests and dressers after at least six toddlers were crushed to death in tip-over accidents.

Thank God they were not shot dead.

The move by the Swedish company, the world’s largest furniture seller, represented a crucial victory for consumer advocates in a yearslong effort to hold it accountable for a growing death toll of young children dating to 1989.

Lars Petersson, the president and chief executive of Ikea USA, said in an interview Tuesday, “If you are assembling correctly, the product is actually a very safe product.”

Did he just blame the victims?

A child dies, on average, once every two weeks in accidents that involve the toppling of furniture or bulky television sets, according to the safety commission. Every year, about 38,000 people visit emergency rooms for injuries related to tip-over accidents, a majority involving children under 5.

In many cases, the children slide drawers out from a dresser and then try to climb them like stairs. In a moment, an everyday item becomes lethal.

The latest case, in February, added urgency to the recall campaign....


The kid chose to wear a jumpsuit?

"Lawyer: CIA gave Romania millions to host secret prisons" Associated Press  June 30, 2016

BUCHAREST — The CIA paid Romania ‘‘millions of dollars’’ to host secret prisons, a rights lawyer said Wednesday as the European Court of Human Rights heard accusations that Romania allowed the agency to torture terrorism suspects in a secret renditions program under President George W. Bush.

Your tax dollars for crimes against humanity based on lies, 'murkn!

Amrit Singh told the court on the opening day of the case that CIA prisons were in Romania from 2003-2005 with the government’s ‘‘acquiescence and connivance,’’ something authorities have denied.

Romanian government representative Catrinel Brumar said an investigation was ongoing.

The court said it would rule in a few months on whether Romania knowingly allowed CIA secret prisons where torture occurred and whether it failed to prevent the torture of Singh’s client.

Sorry to shrink from the highlight.

The alleged presence of CIA secret prisons remains a sensitive subject in Romania, a strong US ally that at the time was seeking support from Washington to join NATO.

Singh said her client, Saudi Arabian national Abd al-Rahim Al Nashiri, was shackled, sleep-deprived, subjected to loud noise and bright lights, slapped, and given forced rectal feeding at a Bucharest CIA prison in 2004. He is currently in US custody at Guantanamo Bay.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture was completed in 2014. It did not directly mention Romania.

Has it really been more than two years in the hole?


Also see:

France opens manslaughter inquiry into EgyptAir crash

Italy recovers 2015 sunk migrant boat, hopes to ID victims

Should have tunneled out instead, and that is my final trip through Europe. 

Was trying to catch a flight from Turkey when....

Suspected ISIS bombers kill at least 36 at Istanbul airport

Print said:

"Although no group claimed responsibility for the attack, initial speculation centered on Turkey’s two main enemies: the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, and Kurdish militants linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Almost immediately after the attack on Tuesday, there was speculation that it might have been a response by the Islamic State to the recent reconciliation between Turkey and Israel. “The fact that the attack came right after the Turkish-Israeli deal might be not an accident.” Other analysts, though, noted that attacks involving multiple suicide bombers take time to prepare and are not typically attempted on very short notice. Turkey has been rocked by a series of bombings since 2014, and officials have variously blamed Kurdish militants or the Islamic State."

See: Israel reaches reconciliation deal with Turkey

"Israeli, Turkish leaders look to gain stability from reconciliation" by Josef Federman Associated Press  June 27, 2016

JERUSALEM — The deal gave a welcome boost to the leaders of the two countries, both of whom have seen their international standing deteriorate in recent months, but there’s no indication the two countries will restore their once strong security ties.

Turkey also took steps toward improving strained ties with Moscow on Monday by expressing regret for bringing down a Russian plane near the border with Syria last year.

Interesting timing.


Russia military’s actions in Syria cause rift with Turkey
Russia-Turkey feud deepens
Russia expands sanctions against Turkey after downing of jet
Incident raises Russia-Turkey tensions

What happened was Turkey did what NATO wanted in downing the plane, then was cut loose to fend for themselves.

Turkey warns Russia after new flight violation

And then they struck in retaliation for Istanbul.

"The fighting has raised fears of a possible regional escalation, with Turkey strongly backing Azerbaijan and Russia obliged by a mutual security pact to protect Armenia. Russia also has sought to maintain friendly ties with energy-rich Azerbaijan and given it weapons in a bid to shore up its influence in the Caucasus region, a conduit for energy resources from the Caspian Sea to the West."

Actually, some are hoping for it and this has all the hallmarks of CIA destabilization (Gandalf to the rescue!).

The flare-up soon came to a halt after a few squirmishes, and despite tensions running high the truce held -- thanks to the efforts of Iran!

Also see:

German Parliament declares Armenian deaths a genocide, angering Turkey
With moral force, Germany calls the Armenian massacres a genocide
Pope in Armenia denounces twisted, planned ‘genocide’
Pope to Armenians: Never forget the genocide, but reconcile
Turkey, Vatican at odds on genocide
ADL leader: massacre of Armenians was ‘unequivocally genocide
Cardinal O’Malley leads prayer service for Armenian genocide
Billboard on Armenian Genocide taken down

One can't help but note the irony of those accusing Turkey of such behavior.

That doesn't excuse anything they have done; it just makes you realize the selectivity at hand and its use as a cudgel against Turkey.

The agreement with Israel will include an exchange of ambassadors and Israeli compensation for the deaths of 10 Turkish citizens from a 2010 Israeli naval raid on an activist flotilla that aimed to breach the Gaza blockade.

Turkey will also be allowed to bring relief supplies into Gaza and carry out new development projects there.

Israel is going to build a $5 billion island off Gaza, a bridge that Israel would control, so that supplies can come in. Isn't that so nice of them?!!

‘‘The world is convulsing. The Middle East is convulsing. My policy is to create centers of stability in this unstable and stormy region,’’ Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said as he announced details of the deal during an official visit to Rome.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who became president two years ago, has sought closer ties with Muslim nations in the region while trying to distance his country from Israel. Erdogan’s close ties with Hamas, an Islamic Palestinian militant group sworn to Israel’s destruction, further strained ties.

Relations took a turn downward during Israel’s three-week war against Hamas in Gaza in 2008 and 2009, when Erdogan criticized Israel over the high Palestinian death toll.

Israel said the action was needed to halt Hamas rocket fire and that the heavy civilian death toll resulted from Hamas using residential areas for cover. The animosity peaked on May 31, 2010, when Israeli commandos stormed a ship while stopping the international flotilla.

Nine Turks, including a dual American citizen, were killed and dozens of activists were wounded, one of whom died several years later. On the Israeli side, seven soldiers were wounded by activists.

Under Monday’s deal, Israel will pay $20 million in compensation for families of victims of the naval raid. In return, Turkey agreed to halt any legal claims connected to the raid. The countries are to exchange ambassadors within weeks.

In addition, Israel agreed to allow Turkey to deliver aid to Gaza through the Israeli port of Ashdod. The first ship, carrying more than 10,000 tons of aid, including food and clothing, will depart for Israel on Friday....

Let's hope it all makes it to where it is supposed to be going.


Oh, right, the airport. Good thing flight was delayed:

"Victims in Istanbul airport attack reflect city’s international character" by Tim Arango, Sabrina Tavernise and Ceylan Yeginsu New York Times  June 29, 2016

ISTANBUL — A majority of the victims appeared to be Muslims, either Turks or visitors from Muslim countries. If the bombings are confirmed to be the work of the Islamic State, it would show once again that the group, which portrays itself as defending Islam and fighting Western powers, kills far more Muslims on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria or in terrorist attacks in the region, than it does non-Muslims.

And who benefits there?

The attack cast a pall over a city that until recently was brimming with self-confidence, projecting itself as a rambunctious, multicultural hub for the arts, with great cuisine and a dazzling history as a former imperial capital.

But a series of terrorist attacks over the last year, some attributed to the Islamic State and others to Kurdish militants, have destroyed Turkey’s image as a haven in a dangerous region, and they have damaged its once-thriving tourism industry.

The chaos enveloping Turkey, including the attacks and an enormous influx of refugees that has strained resources, vividly illustrates how the civil war in Syria has rippled outward and destabilized neighboring countries.

Turkey is grappling with growing domestic strains as well, with deep divisions between Islamists who support President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and secular and nationalist Turks who oppose what they regard as his increasingly authoritarian grip on power. Making matters worse, a war that Turkey had fought for more than three decades against Kurdish militants resumed last year, turning cities in the southeast into war zones.

On Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said early indications suggested that the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, was behind the latest attack, although officials had not released any information about the assailants by the afternoon.

After other attacks, Turkish officials have equivocated, citing as potential culprits either the Islamic State or Kurdish militants. This, critics have said, provided the government with the pretext to crack down further on Kurdish militants, which has been a greater priority for Turkey than fighting the Islamic State.

However, some analysts said the airport attack might be a game-changer for Turkey’s approach to the Islamic State. The United States and other allies have accused Turkey of not doing enough to fight the militant group, and even of contributing to its rise by allowing fighters and weapons to pass through Turkish territory as part of a policy of supporting Syrian rebels.

“I was impressed with the rapidity with which the government said it was Daesh,” said Soli Ozel, a Turkish columnist and professor at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. “It suggests to me that finally maybe they have learned what the hell they have done.”

John O. Brennan, the director of the CIA, said Wednesday that the attack “bears the hallmark of ISIL’s depravity” but he did not confirm that the group was responsible.

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, Brennan added that the Islamic State typically does not claim responsibility for attacks in Turkey to send the Turkish government a grim warning but not alienate sympathizers and potential recruits in the country.

Istanbul appeared determined to get back to business as usual....



Apparent suicide bombing kills at least 5, wounds dozens in Istanbul
Kurdish militant group claims Istanbul bombing, warns tourists not safe
Istanbul bomber identified as militant with ISIS links
Turkey detains suspected IS suicide bomber
Attackers identified as Russian, Central Asian
Who were the Istanbul airport attack victims?

And are they crisis actors?

In Turkey, it’s not a crime to be gay, but LGBT activists see a rising threat

Istanbul is now Orlando.


Who Bombed Ataturk Airport In Istanbul, Turkey?

CIA Director: ‘I’d Be Surprised’ If ISIS Not Trying To Carry Out Istanbul-Style Attack In US

Who is trying to kill Turkey? And Why?!

Istanbul Airport Terrorist Attack – An Act of the Israeli Mossad? 

They already tried a coup.

Ataturk Airport Bombing ala Gladio 2.0

Gladio 2.0: Ataturk Airport Suspects are Named as “Russian” as Russia and Turkey Repair Relations

All part of the history of World War III.

  • "Blasts kill scores in Turkey in sign of worsening instability" by Erin Cunningham Washington Post  October 10, 2015

    BEIRUT — Two bomb blasts ripped through crowds at a rally of peace activists in the Turkish capital Saturday, killing at least 95 people and wounding 248, in a reminder of the growing conflicts Turkey faces both at home and across the border in war-torn Syria.

    The explosions in Ankara, which occurred just minutes and yards apart, were set off as people gathered to call for an end to the violence that has flared between Turkish security forces and Kurdish separatists in recent months.

    The renewal of the decades-old conflict between Turkey and the Kurds has left more than 150 police and soldiers and hundreds of militants dead since this summer. Ethnic Kurds have also accused Turkish authorities of failing to protect them from what they say is violent spillover from Syria’s civil war.

    In July, a suicide bombing targeting another rally of Kurdish peace activists in the town of Suruc killed 33 people and was blamed on the Islamic State. Turkey then joined the US-led coalition carrying out strikes on the jihadists inside Syria and was braced for potential retaliation from the extremists. Turkey hosts more than 2 million refugees from Syria, which the government says is a major source of political instability.

    Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Saturday there were “strong indications” the attack was carried out by suicide bombers, although there was no immediate claim of responsibility. He said the target was Turkish unity, democracy, and stability.

    Early indicators would point to ISIS as the culprit,” said Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish research program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. ISIS is a common acronym for the Islamic State.

    WINEP is the acronym for a Zionist War Lobby.

    Either way, “this could well be Turkey’s 9/11,” Cagaptay said. “This is simply the worst terror attack in Turkish history.”

    Or not after Istanbul, but rather than unite them.... 

    Ankara bombings mark polarization across Turkey

    At the end of everything.

    The United States also condemned the twin bombings as a terrorist attack. “It is particularly important at this time that all Turkish citizens recommit to peace and stand together against terror,” the State Department said.

    The demonstrators, mobilized by a coalition of Turkish trade unions, had gathered outside Ankara’s main station hours earlier to chant, wave banners and flags, and call for peace. The crowd included a mix of Kurdish and leftist Turkish activists, local media reports said.

    A video circulated on social media showed demonstrators linking arms to perform a traditional dance before a fiery explosion erupted in the background, sending the crowd into a panic. Tensions between police and demonstrators flared following the explosions, after activists accused security forces of blocking ambulances arriving to treat the injured. Turkey’s pro-democracy activists say they are fed up with a state that is quick to crack down on dissenters but cannot keep its own citizens safe from terrorists.

    In a live television broadcast, Turkish Interior Minister Selami Altinok said in response to a reporter’s question that he would not resign because there had been no security breach. Still, Turkish authorities announced a news blackout.

    RelatedTurkish leader suggests Syrian link to suicide bombings;

    He admitted to lapses in security during the attack at rally, so they shut down the press.

    Turkey, which media watchdog groups say has one of the world’s worst records on press freedom, often blocks access to Twitter and other sites for content the government deems inappropriate.

    Also Saturday, the militant Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, a hard-line Marxist organization that has led the fight for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey, called a temporary cease-fire to calm tensions ahead of general elections scheduled for Nov. 1.

    The PKK has been locked in a struggle with the Turkish state for three decades to win more rights — and possibly independence — for Turkey’s more than 16 million Kurds.

    Kurdish communities also live in areas of Iran, Iraq, and Syria, where PKK-linked militias have carved out territory and taken on the Islamic State. Some observers say the success of the Syrian-Kurdish militias in seizing land in Syria has worried Turkish officials, who fear it could inspire its own Kurdish minority.

    In 2013, the PKK had agreed to withdraw its fighters from Turkish territory to militant hideouts in northern Iraq in exchange for expanded constitutional rights for Kurds. But each side soon accused the other of failing to implement the accords, and violence flared again this summer.

    PKK militants attacked Turkish troops and security installations, particularly in the country’s volatile southeast. Turkey launched an air campaign against PKK positions in northern Iraq, killing scores, the militants said.

    “I think with the attack [Saturday], the perpetrators are hoping to induce the PKK, or its rogue and more radical youth elements, to continue fighting Turkey,” Cagaptay said.

    cu bono?


    So smells like a false flag.

    So despite the attempts to form a coalition to break the impasse, new elections had to be called:

    "The election is a redo of June elections in which the ruling Justice and Development Party, known by the acronym AKP, stunningly lost its majority. The ballot comes at a sensitive time for Turkey, a key Western ally that has major issues to navigate, including rising instability in neighboring Syria and Iraq and a refugee crisis that is spilling into Europe. There are also doubts about the country’s once-booming economy.... In divided Turkey, election unlikely to resolve uncertainty"

    Except the rigged vote did just that in a stunning landslide! Had the people behind him!

    Turkey’s president seeks to silence critics at home and abroad
    2 ministers quit Turkish government amid heightened tension

    Relations have soured amid renewed violence between Kurdish rebels and Turkey’s military.

    Turkey’s prime minister announces resignation
    Erdogan loyalist nominated to be Turkey’s prime minister

    "Binali Yildirim, the transportation and communications minister and a founding member of the ruling party, was tapped to replace Ahmet Davutoglu, who stepped down amid growing differences with Erdogan, including his wish to overhaul the constitution to give the largely ceremonial presidency executive powers. Yildirim has said he would work to legalize the ‘‘de facto’’ presidential system by introducing a new constitution to that effect."

    They used to call that a dictatorship, and with citizenship being stripped from Kurds, Turkey is entering a period of darkness.

    Soldiers died in a series of deadly attacks as forces clashed. Turks rallied against the Kurds and dozens died. At least 7, anyway, as civilians were caught in the crossfire and surrounded by tear gas before fleeing for home -- where Turkish authorities have reduced many Kurdish cities to rubble.

    The car bomb attack came two days after the US Embassy issued a security warning about a potential plot to attack Turkish government buildings and housing. It targeted Turkey's riot police, and "a Kurdish rebel suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle outside a police headquarters near Turkey’s border with Syria Wednesday, killing four other people, according to Turkish officials. The Interior Ministry official said authorities had strong evidence indicating that the outlawed rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, had carried out both Tuesday’s attack in Istanbul and the Wednesday bombing in Mardin."

    Kurdish lawyer was also killed in the explosion that killed at least 28 and wounded 61. A Kurdish group claimed responsibility for the attack, but Turkey blamed the U.S.  and attacked Kurdish bases before prayers.

    Then the Turkish military wheeled south:

    "In a separate development Sunday, the United States said it will withdraw its Patriot missile defense system deployed near Turkey’s border with Syria when its mandate expires in October. Because the border area in Syria is occupied by the Islamic State, there is now less of a threat of Syrian military shells landing in the country. A joint Turkish and US announcement said units could be returned to Turkey within a week if the need arises. It said US Navy ships would be present in the Mediterranean to support Turkey’s defense."

    They haven't even removed them yet.

    Rights group claims Turkish border guards killed 5 refugees

    Witness to migrant disaster that killed 37 describes horror of final moments

    Turkey under pressure as Syrians mass at border

     I wouldn't head for Iraq, either.

    "Turkey has launched its first wave of airstrikes as part of the US-led coalition to fight the Islamic State, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement Saturday. Turkish fighter jets carried out joint operations late Friday against Islamic State targets in Syria, which posed a threat to Turkey’s national security, the statement said. Islamic State militants gained control of five villages in northern Syria on Thursday and advanced toward the Turkish border, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group."

    It's a de facto ‘no fly zone’.

    Also see:

    Turkey and US bomb ISIL positions inside Syria

    That's a violation of international law.

    Turkey claims success against Islamic State cell

    That excuses everything.

    So what's next for Turkey, a ground operation in northern Syria or war against China?
  • Ground Nero in Baltimore

    Sorry to cop out on you.

    Officers’ trials in Freddie Gray case resume after delays
    Nero wasn’t involved in Gray’s arrest, defense attorney says
    Officer in Gray case testifies against colleague at trial
    Judge in police officer’s trial grills prosecutors

    "Police officer in Freddie Gray case is acquitted on all charges" by Jess Bidgood New York Times  May 24, 2016

    BALTIMORE — About a dozen protesters gathered outside the courthouse in the moments after the verdict was rendered, and some chanted the familiar protest cry, “No justice, no peace.”

    Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake pleaded for calm, noting that officer Edward M. Nero still faces a departmental review and could face disciplinary action. ‘‘We once again ask the citizens to be patient and to allow the entire process to come to a conclusion,’’ she said.

    The verdict, the first in any of the six officers implicated, comes a little more than a year after Freddie Gray, a black man who suffered a fatal spinal cord injury while in police custody [and] died in April 2015.

    The first trial, against Officer William G. Porter, ended with a mistrial in December. Gray’s death embroiled parts of Baltimore, which has a history of tension between the police and its residents, in violent protest and became an inexorable piece of the nation’s wrenching discussion of the use of force by officers, particularly against minorities.

    Many demonstrators had felt vindicated last year when the city’s top prosecutor, Marilyn J. Mosby, announced charges against the officers, but legal specialists have questioned whether they were too ambitious.

    Peter Moskos, a former Baltimore police officer who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said that Mosby had “overplayed her hand.”

    Charges were filed too quickly, he said, adding that prosecutors should have spent more time bolstering cases against one or two officers who may have been most culpable. “Someone dying doesn’t always make it a crime,” Moskos said. “The prosecutors are trying to find social justice, but these are trials of individual cops.”

    A lawyer for Nero, Marc Zayon, called for the charges against the remaining officers to be dropped.

    “The state’s attorney for Baltimore City rushed to charge him, as well as the other five officers, completely disregarding the facts of the case and the applicable law,” Zayon said in a statement.

    “Like Officer Nero,” Zayon added, “these officers have done nothing wrong.”


    "Stakes rise for prosecutors trying officer in Freddie Gray case for murder" by Jess Bidgood New York Times   June 08, 2016

    BALTIMORE — The trial comes as prosecutors aim to shift the narrative away from the mistrial of one officer involved in the case and, just over two weeks ago, another one’s acquittal on all charges.

    But legal experts say it will be exceedingly difficult for prosecutors to secure a conviction for murder. Some activists in Baltimore say their faith in the judicial process is already worn.

    “The average person doesn’t really expect anything,” said Dayvon Love, the director of public policy for Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, an advocacy organization. “They expect the officers to get acquitted. They don’t expect any accountability.”

    In addition to the failed prosecutions, the trials have left lingering questions about how Gray ended up with a severed spine, critics say.

    “The world wants to know what happened to Freddie Gray,” said Darlene Cain, a nurse’s assistant whose own son was shot and killed by a Baltimore police officer in 2008 and who has advocated greater accountability from officers who use force. “How did a young person, healthy, talking and standing at one moment, and then at the next time, he’s not living?”

    Just a "rough ride" is all.



    "Gray’s death became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement, fueling outrage nationwide over the treatment of black people by the criminal justice system. But it hasn’t fit quite so neatly into the narrative of white authorities imposing unfair justice on minorities. In this case, not only the victim but the defendant, judge, top prosecutor, and mayor are African-American. At the time of Gray’s death, so was the police chief. Many activists focused their criticism on the system as a whole...."

    Three trials and no convictions.

    Also see:

    Officer facing murder in prisoner death opts for bench trial
    Police van driver goes on trial for black man’s death
    Witness testifies he told police van driver of Freddie Gray’s request to be taken to hospital
    Closing arguments heard in Baltimore police trial

    Analysts say prosecutor should rethink stand after acquittals in Gray case
    Three officers awaiting trial in Gray’s death want cases dismissed

    There is no abuse at the hands of police.

    Maybe if you wheeled around Delaware:

    "No charges for 4 officers in killing of man in wheelchair" Associated Press  May 13, 2016

    DOVER, Del. — Criminal charges cannot be brought against four Wilmington police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a man in a wheelchair, although one officer exhibited ‘‘extraordinarily poor’’ police work and should not be allowed to carry a gun in public, the Delaware attorney general’s office concluded in a report released Thursday.

    State officials also said their investigation into the September shooting of Jeremy McDole revealed serious deficiencies in the Wilmington police department’s use-of-force policies and training, and in preparing officers to deal with people with mental illness and other disabilities.

    ‘‘Most significantly, we find that the ‘‘continuum of force’’ provisions of the Wilmington Police Department’s use of force policy are effectively meaningless for police officers as currently written,’’ officials noted in the 31-page report.

    Police confronted McDole on Sept. 23 after receiving a 911 call about a man with a gun.

    A bystander’s cellphone footage shows officers repeatedly telling McDole to drop his weapon and raise his hands and McDole reaching for his waist before shots erupt.

    In court records that predate last year’s shooting, law enforcement officials have stated that McDole, who was shot in the back by an associate in 2005, used his wheelchair to hide things.

    Authorities said their investigation into the shooting included interviewing witnesses, officers and McDole’s family members, analysis of ballistics and autopsy results, video evidence, and consultation with two nationally recognized police use-of-force experts.

    The attorney general’s office concluded that police were justified in shooting McDole because they believed that deadly force was necessary to protect themselves or others.

    That's the catch all they use to justify it.


    "Feds won’t file charges in killing by police" Associated Press  June 22, 2016

    SPOKANE, Wash. — Federal prosecutors will not file charges against three police officers in Pasco, Wash., who shot and killed a mentally ill man last year, sparking weeks of protests.

    US Attorney Michael Ormsby said Tuesday there was insufficient evidence that the officers violated the civil rights of Antonio Zambrano-Montes when they fired 17 bullets at him on Feb. 10, 2015.

    Zambrano-Montes, 35, an orchard worker from Mexico, was shot several times as he threw rocks at police at a busy downtown intersection.

    An autopsy showed he had methamphetamine in his system. He also had a history of mental illness and previous interactions with police.

    Cellphone video of the shooting went viral and led to weeks of peaceful protests in the city along the Columbia River in southern Washington.

    ‘‘Videos clearly show police firing many shots at Antonio,’’ his mother, Agapita Montes Rivera, of Parotita, Mexico, said in the statement. ‘‘When he then turned to surrender, they shot him to death. ‘‘Where is justice for my son?’’ she said.

    The parents of Zambrano-Montes have filed a lawsuit in federal court contending the officers used excessive force....


    That's my final shot.


    Fourth officer due to stand trial in Baltimore

    Police records can’t be used in next Freddie Gray trial

    Trial begins for Baltimore officer charged in arrestee death

    Blue Too Boor

    "Manager of Cambridge art gallery fired amid sex assault allegation" by Travis Andersen Globe Staff   June 29, 2016

    A popular Cambridge art gallery and performance space has fired its manager amid allegations that he sexually assaulted a musician there after a show Monday night.

    Out of the Blue Too Art Gallery & More, in Central Square, confirmed the termination Wednesday in a posting. The Globe is not naming the manager because he has not been charged with a crime.

    The allegations surfaced on the website of the accuser, a musician who performed at the gallery Monday. The Globe does not name alleged victims of sexual assault. She wrote on her site that she was “sexually attacked by the manager” after her performance ended.

    “He pressed me up against the wall and started . . . kissing me, while saying disgusting things in my ear,” she wrote. “I literally shoved him off of me with all my might and ran to the bathroom where I had a severe panic attack.”

    The woman said the manager followed her outside but stopped after she told him to get away.

    Cambridge police said Wednesday that the musician has not filed a formal complaint with the department.

    “We are looking to connect with the alleged victim and have made efforts to contact her,” police spokesman Jeremy Warnick said in an e-mail. “We are aware of the blog post and social media fodder, but in order to move forward, we do need to hear from the victim.”

    The musician said in a follow-up posting Wednesday night that she does not wish to contact the police, who she said “uphold a certain social structure that I disagree with on a basic core level.”

    Working telephone numbers for the manager and the accuser could not be located, and neither responded to e-mail inquiries seeking comment....


    Wednesday, June 29, 2016

    This Blog No Longer Thriving

    "Thrive Market, an online grocer, raises $111m" by Michael J. de la Merced New York Times   June 27, 2016

    NEW YORK — Investors are betting that a startup aiming to become the online equivalent of Costco for healthy foods can grow and blossom.

    The company, Thrive Market, said Monday that it had raised $111 million in a new round of financing, led by the investment firm Invus. Other existing investors, including Greycroft Partners, E-Ventures, and Cross Culture Ventures, also took part.

    Thrive, founded three years ago by a group of entrepreneurs, is one of several startups built around a membership model. But customers pay $60 a year to be able to buy organic food at what the company says are lower prices than what traditional grocers like Whole Foods offer.

    The aim is to give more customers access to what the founders say is better food.

    “We’re looking to make healthy living affordable and accessible to any American family,” said Nick Green, a Thrive Market cofounder.

    It was an idea that initially drew little enthusiasm, according to Green, with dozens of venture capital firms rejecting him and his cofounder, Gunnar Lovelace, for their seed round of funding. But the two found support from individual backers online, leading to subsequent rounds of financing that included the likes of Greycroft.

    Now, the company says it has more than 5 million registered users and more than 300,000 paid members, and ships more than $2000,000 worth of goods a day.

    The fund-raising announced Monday is meant to help the company grow, including creating more of its own branded goods and paying for more media marketing.

    Thrive Market is also built around a philanthropic element: With every regular membership sold, Thrive Market also sponsors a membership for a low-income family. The impulse is rooted in part in Lovelace’s childhood, part of which was spent growing up poor with his single mother.

    “We’re really a stakeholder-aligned business,” Lovelace said. “We want to be known for social advocacy.”

    Along with the fund-raising news, Thrive Market also plans to announce that it will petition the Agriculture Department to allow buyers to use food stamps online. Gunnar said Thrive Market had been in talks with the department for more than a year and a half on the issue but had made no progress.

    “They jerked us around,” he said....

    Hey, what do you know, it's lunchtime!


    Time to raise the glasses in toast. I've been to the Summit and back and it's over.

    UPDATE: What Is The Government Preparing For? 

    And why are they armed to the teeth?

    Jailhouse Secrets of the CIA

    Got it off the Bo$ton Globe grapevine: 

    "On eve of Bulger auction, victims start to get share of seized money" by Shelley Murphy Globe Staff  June 24, 2016

    James “Whitey” Bulger, who loved to read and was a military history buff, wrote notes in many of the books being offered at auction.

    In the margins of “Ghettostadt,” by Gordon Horwitz, Bulger wrote that the Auschwitz concentration camp should have been reopened to house Nazi guards.

    In “Last Train to Alcatraz,” by Leon “Whitey” Thompson, Bulger, who served time at the notorious prison for bank robbery, wrote that the author had done “a disservice” to the inmates and, “This work is strictly fiction.”

    There is also a handwritten note by Bulger, complaining about a CIA-sponsored LSD experiment he was duped into participating in the 1950s while in prison. “Unethical treatment,” he wrote. “Manic elation to the depths of depression.”

    Bulger, 86, who is serving a life sentence at a federal penitentiary in Florida, was convicted in 2013 of participating in 11 murders while running a sprawling criminal organization from the 1970s to the 1990s....


    Whitey was obviously tripping when he claims he met an FBI agent in a bar.

    The mystery of ‘Whitey’ Bulger’s missing hat

    I wonder how much it would go for.

    Poor F. Lee Bailey

    "Famed lawyer F. Lee Bailey files for bankruptcy" Bloomberg News  June 26, 2016

    SAN FRANCISCO — F. Lee Bailey, a defense attorney who was part of O.J. Simpson’s “Dream Team,” has filed for personal bankruptcy, saying he is more than $5 million in debt.

    Besides Simpson, a former football star found not guilty in 1995 of the murder of his former wife and a friend, Bailey represented Claude Duboc, who was accused in 1994 and later convicted of importing large amounts of marijuana into the United States. Bailey, 83, said in a phone interview that his bankruptcy filing stems from the case against Duboc.

    He said he was paid by Duboc in shares of a Canadian pharmaceutical company, an arrangement Bailey said the US government approved and then rejected after the price of the stock more than quadrupled. The government argued that Bailey was acting as its trustee and reclaimed the money, he said.

    Bailey said he has been locked in a battle with the Internal Revenue Service for 22 years over the proceeds.

    Bailey, a native of Waltham, Mass., attended Harvard University and left in 1952 to join the US Marine Corps as a fighter pilot."

    Monday, June 27, 2016

    Accommodations by Airbnb

    Globe made the reservation for you, and it's a home away from home when on vacation....

    "Airbnb vows to fight racism, but its users can’t sue to prompt fairness" by Katie Benner New York Times   June 19, 2016

    SAN FRANCISCO — Brian Chesky, chief executive of Airbnb, made a vow this month to root out bigotry from his business.

    It's a “huge issue.”

    But even as Chesky promised to stamp out racism from Airbnb, the company’s class-action litigation policy makes it tough — if not impossible — for customers to push the startup to make any substantive changes on the issue. Airbnb requires that people agree to waive their right to sue, or to join in any class-action lawsuit or class-action arbitration, to use the service.

    That clause, known as a class-action waiver, crops up whenever someone logs into Airbnb’s site. In March, the company updated its terms of service for new users, partly to highlight that clause. Last month, Airbnb users were unable to log in and use their accounts until they agreed to the updated terms, including the class-action waiver language.

    The waiver clause can be broadly applied to many issues and not just accusations of discrimination. But class-action lawsuits have been particularly effective legal tools to press companies on their discrimination policies over the years, civil rights lawyers said, which would give Airbnb more cause to wield it as it grapples with the issue. In the past, such suits against Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, and Coca-Cola pushed those companies to change their hiring and workplace practices.

    “Class-action cases have been the only effective way to prove and remedy systemic discrimination because you can’t prove a pattern of behavior with individually filed cases,” said Joanne Doroshow, executive director of New York Law School’s Center for Justice and Democracy, who specializes in civil justice issues.

    The waiver clause and Airbnb’s more prominent placement of it allows it to shield itself now from outside pressure around the discrimination issue and to handle the matter at its own pace and on its own terms.

    “Airbnb can say it doesn’t condone racism and even has an antidiscrimination policy, but right now that policy doesn’t have teeth if the company is legally insulated from having to comply with the same antidiscrimination laws that real estate brokers must comply with,” said Jamila Jefferson-Jones, a civil rights lawyer and an associate professor at Barry University School of Law in Orlando. 

    Can there be a but?

    A spokesman for Airbnb said the company was open about its dispute resolution policies, including the waiver clause, and that “these provisions are common and we believe ours is balanced and protects consumers.”

    In an interview, Chris Lehane, head of global policy for Airbnb, said the company was being proactive in dealing with discrimination claims. Airbnb recently removed two of its hosts, including one for writing racist epithets to a black user and another for refusing a transgender woman as a guest. Lehane said the company suspended, or in some cases permanently banned, those who violated its antidiscrimination policy.

    Not that it matters, but he's a former Obama administration official.

    Airbnb this month also hired Laura Murphy, former head of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington legislative office, as an outside adviser to look at the issue. Murphy said Airbnb was examining its internal structures and technology, and its processes for identifying and handling discrimination incidents, and building relationships with organizations like fair housing, human rights, and travel groups.

    Airbnb aims to have announcements in the next 10 days about preliminary actions it is taking on discrimination, and it plans to have a full report in September with proposed remedies, she said. Eventually, the company wants to have a division to handle and resolve discrimination complaints, she added.

    Airbnb soon could test the waiver clause directly in a class-action discrimination suit, which was filed in May in US District Court in Washington. The chief plaintiff, Gregory Selden, who is African-American, claimed Airbnb violated civil rights laws that forbid housing discrimination when a host on the service denied him accommodation last year because of his race. Airbnb’s response to the lawsuit is due by July 13.

    Ikechukwu Emejuru, the lawyer representing Selden, said, “The sharing economy has grown exponentially, and Mr. Selden’s experiences of not being accommodated by Airbnb because of his race put in motion this country’s most iconic civil rights laws.” He declined further comment and said Selden was unavailable to comment.

    Like in the Congo?

    For Airbnb, an effective response to discrimination claims is needed to blunt any fallout on its business. The company, valued at about $25 billion, has hosts in more than 34,000 cities and 191 countries and is positioning itself as an alternative to hotels. Airbnb recently raised $1 billion in debt to help finance its growth, according to a person familiar with the deal who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the transaction is not public. The credit facility was reported earlier by Bloomberg.

    The cost of the room is how much?


    RelatedArlington police open probe into racist text messages

    I hung the "No Vacancy" sign out for good measure. We won't be taking in any borders of any gender or skin color.

    RelatedMeasure to curb illegal Airbnb listings heads to NY governor

    I'll take you on a tour of the city tomorrow, readers. I'm up past my bedtime and have to get some sleep. Going to go to my room now.


    Globe till take you on the tour:

    NYC pulls reins on plan for Central Park horse carriages

    Teamsters did a plop-plop on it and I can't get a helicopterboat, or bus, so we will have to hoof it.

    One dead after crane collapses in New York City

    The collapse killed David Wichs, a mathematical whiz who worked at a computerized trading firm, his family said. Born in Prague, he had immigrated to the United States as a teenager and graduated from Harvard University, said his sister-in-law, Lisa Guttman. Mayor Bill de Blasio initially said the person killed in the collapse was in a car, but police later said he was on the sidewalk.... David Wichs, 38, was described by relatives as a mathematical whiz who graduated from Harvard University and worked at a computerized-trading firm. His good deeds also made him ‘‘an angel,’’ said Haskel Lookstein, rabbi emeritus of the Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun, where the funeral was held. Wichs, a Manhattan resident, emigrated from Czechoslovakia as a teenager and attended Yeshiva of Flatbush before enrolling at Harvard."

    First sight to see:

    "Judge: Congregants can take control of oldest US synagogue" by Michelle R. Smith Associated Press  May 17, 2016

    PROVIDENCE — The congregation that worships at the nation’s oldest synagogue prevailed Monday in a bitter legal fight that threatened its existence, as a federal judge ruled it may now control its own destiny and decide what to do with a set of ceremonial bells worth millions.

    The lawsuit pitted congregants at the 250-year-old Touro Synagogue in Newport, R.I., against the nation’s oldest Jewish congregation, Shearith Israel in New York City.

    US District Judge Jack McConnell awarded Congregation Jeshuat Israel, of Newport, control of Touro, rejecting arguments from Congregation Shearith Israel that it is the synagogue’s rightful owner.

    McConnell also ruled the Newport congregation is the owner of a pair of ceremonial bells, called rimonim, and may do what it chooses with them. The bells are valued at $7.4 million.

    Deming Sherman, a lawyer for the New York congregation, said it was too early to say whether they would appeal.

    ‘‘We’re obviously disappointed at some of the findings by the court. But I don’t have any more to say until after I’ve reviewed the decision,’’ he said.

    McConnell’s 106-page decision reads at times like a history book and relies on documents that go back to Colonial times. It recounts the early history of Jews in America and traces the origins of the Jews who populated Newport beginning in 1658.

    Yeah, about that....

    The judge, who held a nine-day trial last year, said the guiding light behind his decision was the intention of the community that established the synagogue in 1763. ‘‘The central issue here is the legacy of some of the earliest Jewish settlers in North America, who desired to make Newport a permanent haven for public Jewish worship,’’ he wrote.

    The synagogue is a national historic site, and tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world pass through its doors every year.

    In 1790, George Washington visited Touro and then sent congregants a letter saying the government of the United States ‘‘gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.’’ It is considered an important pledge of the new nation’s commitment to religious liberty. During and after the Revolutionary War, most of the city’s Jewish residents left, and many moved to New York. By the 1820s, no Jews were left in Newport, and Congregation Shearith Israel became Touro’s trustee.

    Knowing the history and how it has been usurped by those who were against it is insulting and takes a lot of chutzpah. Talk about revisionism!

    Decades later, Jews returned and Shearith Israel sent items back, including two pairs of rimonim, which adorn a Torah scroll and were made by Colonial silversmith Myer Myers.

    Over the years, the two congregations occasionally struggled for control of the synagogue, but by the 2000s, the New York congregation was mostly not involved in Touro’s affairs, although it was still the synagogue’s trustee.

    In 2012, the congregation at Touro was struggling to pay its bills and was unable to raise the money for an endowment. Its leaders, worried about Touro’s future, formulated a plan to sell one set of the bells to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston for $7.4 million and use the money to fund an endowment. The New York congregation objected, saying the sale violated its religious beliefs. It said the congregation at Touro was required to adhere to those beliefs. It also asserted that it owned the bells, and said it wanted to evict the Newport congregation.

    McConnell rejected its arguments on all counts. He also removed the New York congregation as trustee, saying its attempt to evict the Newport congregation had made it unfit to serve in the role.

    Instead, he appointed the Newport congregation as trustee of the building. The judge said it had maintained the structure and grounds and had ensured it was open for public worship, which he found was the purpose of the trust that owns it.

    It is unclear what will happen next with the bells. The Museum of Fine Arts withdrew the offer to buy them after the dispute began, although they remain on display there, on loan from Touro.


    RelatedSynagogues celebrate a joyous moment

    Sorry to be so sour about. 

    More recent history:

    "A Jewish school bus — and old tensions — allegedly set aflame by black men in N.Y. neighborhood" by Yanan Wang Washington Post  May 11, 2016

    Arson took place in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood Sunday evening. Since the bus was empty, no one was injured. Surveillance footage caught grainy flashes of the culprits, who have all been identified by the police as black males.

    It's already looking like a false flag to push endless Jewish victimization and I'm tired of hearing violins considering the violence Israel metes out.

    An 11-year-old boy has already been arrested, charged with arson and criminal mischief as a juvenile. The fire is also being investigated as a hate crime.

    The school bus, which suffered significant damage, belonged to Bnos Chomesh Academy, according to the Associated Press. It is a private, all-girls Orthodox Jewish high school that teaches ‘‘a Torah way of life.’’

    It's okay when Jews are exclusionary and segregated. Anybody else.... no.

    ‘‘It was purposefully done with prior planning,’’ NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce told the AP. ‘‘Clearly this was a religious school bus. Anyone in the community knows that.’’

    The fire came within a week of two other alleged attacks on members of Crown Heights’s Jewish community. A Jewish man wearing religious garb was hit with rubber bands and subsequently punched by a 13-year-old African-American last Thursday, authorities told the AP.

    The day before, a bus driver from another Jewish school in the neighborhood said someone had pelted his side mirror with a brick, shattering it.

    These incidents are ‘‘troubling,’’ Boyce told the AP. What he left unsaid was that they hearkened back to a decades-old history of racial strife between the area’s blacks and Jews.

    Often, these tensions have erupted in fire.

    On a February night in 1987, the roles were reversed. The New York Times reported that someone ignited a cardboard orange-juice box and can of petroleum in the basement of a black woman’s house. The woman and her family fled as she heard an ominous chant: ‘‘Burn, burn, burn.’’

    A witness told the Times that they had seen two men, including one in a long black coat and fedora, run from behind the woman’s house to a dormitory for Hasidic Jews. An administrator for the yeshiva to which the dorm belonged said the allegations were ‘‘based on untrue facts.’’

    The Times put the next line thusly: ‘‘Mr. Kazen, expressing a view that was not widely shared, said racial tension did not exist in Crown Heights.’’

    African-Americans and Hasidic Jews in the neighborhood competed for housing, control of community organizations and access to community funds. There had been violence between the groups in the ’70s, and tensions continued to fester, coming to a head in 1991, after the motorcade of a Jewish leader unintentionally struck two Guyanese immigrant children, killing one and severely injuring the other.

    Three days of riots followed the incident. Hundreds of blacks and Jews threw rocks and bottles at one another; stores were looted and set on fire; the Rev. Al Sharpton led a march in which an Israeli flag was burned.

    Was that before or after he started working for the FBI?

    Three hours into the riots, an Australian Jew was fatally stabbed by a 16-year-old African-American.

    Today, Crown Heights has changed with the rest of the city, expanding to include — in the words of one New York Daily News retrospective — ‘‘hipsters, Latinos, and Asians.’’

    ‘‘In the years that have passed [since the riots], the central Brooklyn neighborhood has settled into an uneasy peace,’’ wrote the Daily News’s Simone Weichselbaum and Katie Nelson in 2011. Yet a black woman and a Jewish woman interviewed both said the two groups seldom mingled, still wary of one another decades later.

    As the NYPD searches for the five alleged school bus arsonists, that history rears its head again amid a cloud of smoke....


    RelatedAnti-Semitic incidents are soaring, group says

    I didn't see anything regarding the Jewish supremacism that precipitated the whole thing.

    Swastikas drawn at Winthrop High by student, officials say
    Winthrop teen charged in swastika incident at school

    Let's keep walking:

    "NYPD has used cell tracking technology 1,000 times since ’08" by Colleen Long Associated Press  February 11, 2016

    NEW YORK — The New York Police Department has used secretive cellphone tracking technology more than 1,000 times since 2008, according to data released Thursday by the New York Civil Liberties Union.

    A cell-site simulator, also known as a Stingray, is a suitcase-sized device that can sweep up basic cellphone data from a neighborhood by tricking phones into believing it’s a cell tower, allowing it to identify unique subscriber numbers. The data are then transmitted to the police, helping them determine the location of a phone without the user even making a call or sending a text message.

    We were told government was no longer doing this stuff, but there it is!

    Police records show the technology has helped catch suspects in kidnappings, rapes, robberies, assaults and murders. Missing people have been discovered. In some cases, no arrest was made or the phone was located but had been ditched. Officers with warrant squads, robbery squads and homicide units all used the technology, according to the records. 

    Yeah, the total surveillance tyranny is all good!

    Federal law enforcement in September said it would be routinely required to get a search warrant before using the technology — a first effort to create a uniform legal standard for federal authorities. But the policy applies only to federal agencies within the Justice Department and not, as some privacy advocates had hoped, to state and local law enforcement whose use of the equipment has stirred particular concern and scrutiny from local judges. The NYPD would be required to get a warrant if the investigation was a joint effort with federal officials.

    The NYPD said it has no written policy for use of the technology, according to the records released by the NYCLU, but general practice is to obtain a ‘‘pen register order’’ — a court order with a lower standard than a warrant.

    The civil liberties union urged the department to create a strict policy on use of the technology and to obtain a warrant.

    ‘‘New Yorkers have very real concerns about the NYPD’s adoption of intrusive surveillance technology,’’ NYCLU Senior Staff Attorney Mariko Hirose said in a statement. ‘‘The NYPD should at minimum obtain warrants before using Stingrays to protect the privacy of innocent people.’’

    The police have already been adhering to the higher legal standard used by federal law enforcement when applying for a court order, even though state law requires the police present less, said Byrne, who added his office would put the policy in writing.

    ‘‘Our practice is consistent with what the FBI and the other federal agencies now do,’’ he said.


    "Bill Bratton brings end to war between NYPD and FBI" by Adam Goldman Washington Post  March 08, 2016

    NEW YORK — In the long, bitter and testosterone-rich rivalry between the New York Police Department and the FBI, few things aggravated the G-men more than the repeated towing of their cars by the local cops. And the practice was one of the first things that NYPD Commissioner William Bratton banned when he took over in late 2013 and tried to defuse tensions with his most important counterterrorism partner.

    Relations between the NYPD and the FBI, never warm, deteriorated sharply after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks when the country’s largest police force transformed its own intelligence division and expanded its counterterrorism work well beyond the city limits, brushing up against the bureau’s prerogatives. 

    They didn't want to be caught off guard by another false again because of FBI failure, and increasing their reach nationally was the thing to do.

    Related: Falling Off the 9/11 Beam

    But Bratton, who has hired some prominent FBI personnel into the NYPD, has purged much of the bad blood.

    Under the previous police commissioner and his chief of the intelligence division, the NYPD saw the FBI as more rival than partner. The NYPD tried to limit the FBI’s visibility into its intelligence operations, raising concerns among federal agents that some investigations weren’t being done properly. 

    1993 must have left some bad memories for them.

    But with the arrival of Bratton, FBI officials now have a seat at the NYPD’s weekly intelligence collection meeting. The FBI and NYPD have also swapped intelligence analysts as part of a three-month-old pilot program; previous exchanges involved investigators.

    The NYPD also hired Peter Donald, a former FBI spokesman in New York, as director of communication, a key role in handling crises and reducing friction.

    More importantly, the two sides are working together, officials said. 

    That is where the print ended, and ‘‘it’s a no-brainer to work together’’ on setting up pathetic patsies. Both benefit, and the terror narrative is maintained ad infinitum.

    Last summer as the number of terrorism suspects linked to the Islamic State spiked, the Joint Terrorism Task Force struggled to keep pace and found itself with more suspects than surveillance teams. Miller then shifted some of his teams doing lower-priority cases to help out.

    ‘‘We benefit from John,’’ said Carlos Fernandez, one of the FBI’s most experienced counterterrorism agents, who overseas the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the largest in the country.

    The FBI also benefits from the NYPD. The Police Department has more than 100 officers on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, working among the 17 counterterrorism squads. About 25 percent of the officers on the task force are from the NYPD. 

    One wonders if you can tell the difference anymore. 

    Also helping to soothe relations are changes in the way the NYPD Intelligence Division conducts its operations, a flash point in previous years. After Muslims in New York successfully sued the Police Department, saying their constitutional rights were being violated by police surveillance practices, the NYPD, in response, updated its investigative guidelines, bringing them closer in line with the FBI’s.

    Still, some of the old tensions can resurface. When a Muslim convert attacked four NYPD officers with a hatchet in 2014, Bratton called the incident a ‘‘terrorism act.’’ Police officials pointed to the suspect’s extensive online history, but the FBI was more skeptical because his last overt contact in the days preceding the attack was with a black extremist not connected to a terrorism group.

    Police officials were irritated that the FBI didn’t immediately back its assessment, a former bureau official said. FBI Director James B. Comey later said, ‘‘There is no doubt it was terrorism.’’

    ‘‘We had that conversation and moved on,’’ Miller said. ‘‘We made our point.’’

    Miller added that disagreements are inevitable, but they don’t spill into the tabloids as they used to, with each side sniping at the other.

    ‘‘It’s a collective result of all this lowering of testosterone,’’ Miller said.

    Perhaps the best evidence that the FBI has buried its grievances was the promotion in June 2014 of Paul Ciorra to become chief of operations of the Intelligence Division. Ciorra was at the center of one of the worst moments in NYPD-FBI history when police officers, without informing the bureau, approached an imam about a terrorism suspect involved in a plot to attack the subway system. The imam tipped off the suspect and enraged FBI agents who feared the investigation had been compromised. While not at fault, Ciorra was blamed and sent to the highway division.

    When Miller was considering candidates for the job in the intelligence division, he called the FBI to see if Ciorra was still radioactive and was told that it was all in the past.

    Down the old memory hole, huh?


    "N.Y. police disrupt alleged drug and gun ring with New England ties" by Milton J. Valencia Globe Staff  March 10, 2016

    Police in New York City said Thursday that they disrupted a massive drug- and gun-dealing operation that had made its way into Cape Cod, and north to Manchester, N.H.

    Authorities in the Bronx said members of a violent gang had smuggled drugs such as cocaine, fentanyl, and heroin into Bourne, Wareham, and Manchester. The gang members then returned to the Bronx with guns they obtained in New Hampshire, and used them in much of the violence that has recently ripped through west Bronx. The investigation resulted in the indictment of 84 alleged gang members connected to 22 shootings, New York officials said.

    The sweep over the last two days was the largest in Bronx history, officials there said. The 84 people indicted face a total of 386 counts, including conspiracy to commit murder, distribution of narcotics, attempted murder, and various weapons charges. Of those indicted, 58 face major trafficking charges that call for punishments of up to life in prison.

    By Thursday afternoon, 31 people had been arrested; 35 were already in state prisons, and 18 were being sought.

    Authorities said that New York City police first began investigating street crews in the 44th and 46th precincts in November 2014, following a spike in violence. In a matter of months, investigators learned that gang members had been visiting Bourne and Wareham to sell drugs. Thirteen of the alleged gang members had been charged as major traffickers related to the sales of heroin and cocaine in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

    Authorities determined that the defendants were selling $10,000 worth of crack a week, for quadruple the street price they would get in the Bronx.

    In raids related to the investigation, authorities said, they recovered 9 kilograms of cocaine, 4 kilograms of heroin, 2 kilograms of fentanyl, a half-kilogram of heroin enhanced with fentanyl, and 889 grams of crack cocaine, as well as drug packaging equipment. Authorities also seized 15 firearms and $260,000 in cash believed to be the proceeds of drug sales.

    “Inundated with gun-toting drug crews, the west Bronx was the starting point of a drug pipeline to cities as far north as Manchester, New Hampshire,” said James J. Hunt, special agent in charge of the US Drug Enforcement Administration office in New York City.

    He said the gang members “fed drug addiction throughout the Northeast via sales of crack cocaine and heroin.”

    “These gangs greed was matched only by their ferocity,” and which is exceeded only by Wall Street bankers.


    Couple of cops were on the take:

    "N.Y. police officials charged in bribery corruption scandal" Associated Press  June 21, 2016

    NEW YORK — Two high-ranking New York Police Department officers were arrested Monday on charges of taking $100,000 worth of free flights, prostitutes, expensive meals, and other bribes in exchange for providing a ‘‘private police force’’ for local businessmen.

    Deputy Chief Michael Harrington, Deputy Inspector James Grant, and a third defendant, Brooklyn businessman Jeremy Reichberg, were charged with conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, the latest development in a series of overlapping public corruption investigations coordinated by US Attorney Preet Bharara.

    David Villanueva, a city police sergeant assigned to the gun license bureau, was arrested on charges of conspiring to commit bribery.

    In exchange for the bribes, Reichberg and others ‘‘got a private police force for themselves and their friends,’’ Bharara said at a news conference. ‘‘Effectively, they got ‘cops on call.’ ’’

    The four arrests follow months of revelations that have embarrassed the nation’s largest police department and put Mayor Bill de Blasio on the spot about his campaign financing. Both Reichberg and another businessman who has already pleaded guilty in the case contributed heavily to de Blasio’s campaign. The mayor, a Democrat, hasn’t been implicated in any wrongdoing.

    First (and last) I saw of it.


    I suppose we all have our addictions.

    So much for combating corruption in New York:

    "New York could end session without addressing corruption" Associated Press  June 12, 2016

    ALBANY, N.Y. — New York lawmakers are nearing the end of their 2016 session and it’s looking like they will once again fail to address, in any significant way, the wave of corruption that has made Albany one of the nation’s most crooked state capitals.

    So many lawmakers have been forced from office for alleged misconduct or crimes — including the former Assembly speaker and Senate leader in just the past year — that government reform advocates have taken to calling this Albany’s ‘‘Watergate moment.’’

    ‘‘But all Albany apparently is willing to do is write a parking ticket to the Watergate burglars because they were double-parked,’’ said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group.

    Lawmakers are divided even on small reforms. A proposal to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot that, if passed, would allow judges to strip the pensions of corrupt lawmakers still hasn’t passed, despite support in both chambers.

    Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed tighter campaign finance rules and limits on lawmakers’ outside income, but they have little serious support in the Legislature.

    Even Cuomo appears resigned. ‘‘I’ve threatened them, cajoled them, tried to charm them, told them jokes,’’ Cuomo said of the Legislature. ‘‘They do not want to pass ethics reform.’’

    While plenty of other states have seen governors and top leaders ousted by scandal, few can rival New York when it comes to the scope of the problem.

    More than 30 lawmakers have left office facing allegations of criminal or ethical wrongdoing since 2000 — including ones who sexually harassed female staffers, arranged jobs for relatives, lied about their US citizenship, or solicited bribes from a carnival promoter.

    In the past year, former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, and ex-Senate leader Dean Skelos, a Republican, were both convicted on unrelated federal corruption charges. 

    I'm sure there is a silver lining somewhere. 

    New York voters tell pollsters that corruption is a top issue, but voter turnout rates here remain low — one possible explanation for why elected leaders seem to feel little pressure to tackle big reforms.


    Cuomo to Halt State Business With Groups That Back Boycott of Israel

    Even he has his limits -- as do I. 

    "Bird poop was probably the cause of a December shutdown at a nuclear power plant outside New York City, according to the operator. An Indian Point reactor safely shut down for three days starting Dec. 14 following an electrical disturbance on outdoor high voltage transmission lines, Entergy Corp. said. An outside expert is analyzing whether what’s technically called bird “streaming” was the culprit. In a report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission last month, the New Orleans-based company said the automatic reactor shutdown was apparently from bird feces that caused an electric arc between wires on a feeder line at a transmission tower."

    Couldn’t recall a similar incident in the past several years. I guess they think we will believe anything, or they just don't care.

    I should have realized New York is too big to cover in just one day. You are probably unhappy, but I need to grab some chow from some cafe (the debate comes as Americans’ feelings about their four-legged friends continue to evolve, and as cats are needed to catch rats and mice). No bar-hopping tonight. Gotta find a room....

    NYC’s Plaza Hotel on the auction block
    China's Five-Star Hotels
    Sony Building said to sell for more than $1.4 billion
    Sky high: NYC could list for $250 million 

    It's called Billionaires’ Row.

    I didn't win the lottery so maybe we can find a room in the East Village or stay at a church

    If not....

    "Cities across US slash homelessness for veterans; NYC underscores national response" by Brian MacQuarrie Globe Staff  March 14, 2016

    NEW YORK —61-year-old George Gisoldi is part of a national response to a federal call to move veterans off the streets. In New York, red tape has been cut, staffing added and consolidated, and veterans identified shelter by shelter, street corner by street corner.

    As a result, the homeless veterans living on the street in this teeming city of 8 million have all but disappeared.

    “We’re down to fewer than 10, and we know who they are,” said Loree Sutton, a retired Army brigadier general who is the city’s commissioner of veterans affairs.

    New York is not alone. In Boston, a city with less than one-tenth the population of New York, the latest count showed three veterans living on the street.

    Four major cities — Philadelphia, Houston, Las Vegas, and New Orleans — have gone further and effectively ended all veteran homelessness, said Richard Cho, deputy director of the US Interagency Council on Homelessness. Cho said in an interview that those cities have reached a level of “functional zero.”

    Eighteen other US cities and counties, as well as the states of Connecticut and Virginia, also have met that goal.

    Boston and New York are close but not quite at that benchmark. At this point, the two cities have ended what the federal government calls “chronic homelessness” among veterans. That definition includes any veteran who has a disability, and has been homeless for a year, or has had four episodes of homelessness over three years.

    Five years ago, New York counted 4,677 veterans in shelters, transitional housing, and on the streets. By Feb. 22 this year, the number had fallen to 489, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office.

    In New York, the palpable progress has not erased some skepticism of officials’ claim that fewer than 10 veterans are living on the street.

    “I would be wary of saying that is the be-all and end-all number,” said Giselle Routhier, policy director for the nonprofit Coalition for the Homeless.

    Canvassers might miss veterans in such an immense city, for example, and some homeless people might not identify themselves as veterans.

    But whatever the actual figure — and New York officials concede the total is only a best effort — the city has made reducing veteran homelessness a priority. It’s a complicated undertaking anywhere, but within New York’s byzantine and entrenched bureaucracy, the task should be exponentially harder.

    Instead, the process has become more efficient, said Sutton, who was appointed veterans commissioner in September. Later this year, veterans services is scheduled to leave the umbrella of the mayor’s office to become a separate department.

    “We’ve embraced the problem of veterans homelessness as an opportunity,” Sutton said. “If you boiled down New York City’s success to one word, it’s ‘relationships.’ ”

    A growing web of relationships includes a partnership with Catholic Charities, which approached the city with plans to set aside 22 subsidized apartments for homeless veterans at the longtime grammar school where Gisoldi now lives in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.

    Catholic Charities had the space, and the city had a list of homeless veterans. Matches were made, and the veterans began moving in late last year.

    “We really wanted to do something to make a difference,” said Claire Hilger, senior vice president at Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens. “The city is focused on identifying the veterans, and they’re going after every single apartment they can get.”

    The Jericho Project, a New York-based group that seeks to end homelessness, has provided 132 apartments for veterans, according to Tori Lyon, its chief executive officer.

    The vast majority of veterans have been housed with federal or local subsidies that cap rent payments at no more than 30 percent of income. The housing includes private-market apartments, city or state subsidized buildings, and residences with support services.

    Overall, the city found permanent housing for 527 veterans in December and January, said Steven Banks, commissioner of the city’s Human Resources Administration, whose portfolio includes homelessness. “Resources matter, as well as a clear command structure,” Banks said.

    Simplifying the maze has been critical, said Patricia Dawson, another senior vice president at Catholic Charities, because “there are so many pieces that have to be mobilized.”

    But mobilized they have been. A similar effort unfolded in Boston, where the city Department of Neighborhood Development has led a broad collaboration of public and nonprofit partners to find housing for homeless veterans.

    “It’s an all-hands-on-deck process,” said Laila Bernstein, who heads the department’s drive to end homelessness.

    Boston has reduced veteran homelessness by 44 percent since 2013, city officials said. In February, 250 veterans were homeless, compared with 450 just over two years ago.

    As in New York, data are kept and updated on every veteran known to be homeless in Boston. Large meetings are convened regularly to plan and brainstorm. And veterans reach out to homeless peers to guide them through the system, which has been reinforced by a surge of federal housing vouchers and support services.

    New York has dedicated scores of employees to the effort; city-paid veterans are guiding their homeless peers through a maze of agencies to secure benefits; and prospective landlords are being canvassed to gauge their interest.

    In addition, $1,000 bonuses are being paid to brokers and landlords for providing housing, and the city is making up some of the shortfall if a previously homeless veteran falls behind in the rent.

    “The city has made leaps and bounds,” said Samuel Innocent, an Afghanistan veteran who is policy director at the New York City Veterans Alliance, an advocacy group. Despite the strides, Innocent said, he is uncertain whether the city can sustain this success. “I feel that if we reach functional zero, the city will be quick to say, ‘We’re done.’ It’s never a done issue,” Innocent said.

    In Brooklyn, Lonnie Selleck, a 71-year-old Army veteran of the Vietnam War, looked around his new apartment in Bedford-Stuyvesant and compared conditions in the small but clean space with the rats, the dilapidated walls, and the fights that had made living at a shelter such a struggle.

    “That’s it,” Selleck said, shaking his head slightly. “No more of that, I hope.”



    "The brainchild of a pair of recent Harvard graduates, Sam Greenberg and Sarah Rosenkrantz, the city’s unlikliest social experiment was playing out: a shelter designed for homeless millennials. The shelter, which will close for the season on April 15, was an idea born of necessity, a kind of alternative haven — more college dorm room than army barracks. Their paths to homelessness — and to the shelter — are varied...."

    $ee who financed the project? 

    I've had long day so I hope you don't mind if we skip the sex.

    NDU: time to check out


    Airbnb to expand into concierge services

    Airbnb taxes in doubt amid Baker opposition

    You can't stay here.