In the late 1940s, he returned to RCA [in Camden, New Jersey] as a television antenna installer, and he began several union organizing efforts. In 1950, he went to work as an international representative of the International Union of Electrical Workers, crisscrossing the country to aid in union drives.
In 1955, [he] landed a job as head of the Union Organization for Social Service, founded in 1944 by area unions to work on community issues including drug and alcohol abuse, job training, food banks, disaster relief, clothing drives, and blood banks.
The program was started in conjunction with the Community Chest, now the United Way. It was the first such program in the nation, and served as a model for later labor organizations… —
From my grandfather’s obituary in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Labor Day shout-out to all the working class people who started from the bottom.
Bear Mountain State Park
Results of a taste test of the two bakeries’ offerings were inconclusive, because all the doughnuts were delicious and because this reporter started to feel sick after the fourth of six doughnuts sampled. A friend with a stronger stomach said that the sour cream doughnut from Peter Pan was more succulent than the Moe’s Doughs version, but that he appreciated the dossant’s delicate, flaky crust. He agreed that all of the doughnuts tested were tasty. —
The New York Times
I would like to have this person’s job, please. Thank you.
New York progressives have recently felt emboldened to challenge centrist Democrats in primary elections. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate Letitia James, and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito all swept into office after handily defeating their more conservative opponents. Their success led, in part, to the rise of Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham law professor, Yale graduate, and formidable primary challenger to Andrew Cuomo. Teachout’s running mate, Tim Wu, is a law professor at Columbia and a fellow at the New America Foundation.
Teachout and Wu are not perennial “activist” candidates. They have the expertise and experience to lead New York State into an era of reform. Their chances of victory are not outstanding. Indeed, a primary victory over Andrew Cuomo would perhaps be as unexpected as Eric Cantor’s ouster. But every vote cast for Teachout and Wu serves as a warning to the governor and to the Democratic Party that habitually disappointing Democrats will no longer be tolerated.
There are many things that Andrew Cuomo has done or failed to do, both as governor and as a gubernatorial candidate, that should discourage New York Democrats from supporting his re-election. Depending on one’s priorities, some of his trespasses may seem more distressing than others. The following is an incomplete (but hopefully sufficient) list of reasons why Cuomo is undeserving of another term as governor.
1. He failed to support a Democratic majority in the state Senate in 2012.
The Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) is a faction of conservative Democrats in the state Senate who are allied with Republicans. In 2012, voters wanted a state Senate controlled by Democrats but instead got one controlled by Republicans and the duplicitous IDC. This alliance has prevented a number of progressive initiatives from becoming law, including the Women’s Equality Act. Not only did Cuomo fail to endorse important Democratic Senate candidates, but he also endorsed two Republicans and failed to prevent a Democrat from caucusing with the Republicans.
2. He needed to be coerced into explicitly supporting a Democratic majority in the state Senate in 2014.
The Working Families Party (WFP), a powerful labor-backed organization that aims to push Democratic candidates leftward by endorsing and campaigning for progressive Democrats, almost denied Cuomo their support this year. But Cuomo and WFP favorite Bill de Blasio were able to broker a last minute deal. The WFP officially endorsed Cuomo and in exchange, he called for the dissolution of the IDC and said he would campaign for a Democratic majority in the Senate. But some of Cuomo’s subsequent actions seem to indicate that he wants to punish the WFP for challenging his authority. A politician supporting his or her own party is something that should occur automatically. It’s absurd that anyone had to force Cuomo to back his own allies.
3. He created a sham “Women’s Equality” party in an attempt to take away votes from his female primary challenger and from a powerful progressive third party.
Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act failed to pass in the state Senate because of the Republican-IDC alliance but the governor is so pumped about women’s rights that he created a wholly unnecessary third party that immediately endorsed him. He doesn’t want anyone getting the idea that a female governor might be a better advocate for women’s equality than him and he wants to punish the Working Families Party for failing to instantly bow before him. Cuomo will appear on the Democratic, Working Families, and Women’s Equality party lines this November (assuming he secures the Democratic nomination). The less votes for Cuomo on the Working Families Party line, the weaker the WFP could become.
4. He has refused, thus far, to debate his primary challenger.
A debate with Cuomo would legitimize Teachout’s candidacy, publicize her agenda, and further expose Cuomo’s weaknesses on progressive issues. As a result, Cuomo is understandably uneager to share a stage with her. He clearly perceives her as a threat to the resounding, unchallenged re-election victory he craves. If Cuomo were confident in his chances for re-election (as he should be) and if he genuinely valued the democratic process, he should have no objections to debating Teachout.
5. He twice attempted to get his primary challenger tossed off the ballot.
Cuomo’s legal team alleged that Teachout hadn’t been a New York resident for 5 years, which is a necessary condition for running for governor. Repeated attempts to kick her off the ballot failed. There’s no reason why someone who values the democratic process should be so intent on destroying his only notable primary challenger.
6. He has never taken a firm stance on fracking, despite repeatedly promising to do so.
An official decision on whether or not to allow fracking in New York was supposed to be made in the spring of 2012. That didn’t happen. In February of 2013 a decision was expected. That didn’t happen. In May of 2013, Cuomo said a decision would arrive “in the next several weeks.” That didn’t happen. Then Cuomo said he’d make a decision before this year’s election. That hasn’t happened. Last anyone heard, a decision won’t be made until April of 2015. Fed up with the governor’s dithering, the Sierra Club endorsed Teachout.
7. He interfered with a supposedly “independent” commission tasked with investigating public corruption.
A New York Times investigation exposed Cuomo’s inability to complete what he once called “job #1,” cleaning up Albany. The governor who swore to fight corruption wound up seeming dishonest, if not corrupt, himself. The Times recently refused to endorse Cuomo for re-election because of his “failure on ethics reform.”
The list of Cuomo’s faults could continue. His conservative tax policies, his plan to litter upstate New York with casinos, and his unbridled enthusiasm for charter schools are all causes for concern. Teachout and Wu are untested as politicians but Cuomo has been thoroughly tested with disastrous results. A bold change in New York’s political landscape has already occurred in many of its cities. A genuinely progressive governor, coupled with a Democratic majority in the state senate, could usher in a progressive era of reform unseen since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. Such a reality is within grasp, but only if New York’s Democrats boldly select Zephyr Teachout as their next governor.
— Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, to a male Congressman who told her to exercise so she wouldn’t become “porky.”
According to a study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, the 13 states that had legalized medical marijuana prior to 2010 had a 25 percent lower rate of opioid mortality than those that didn’t. This equates to roughly 1,729 fewer painkiller deaths, just in 2010. The results suggest, in other words, that people were choosing pot over Percocet. — The Atlantic
Iceland's armed police make first ever fatal shooting -
From December 2013:
A man who was firing a shotgun in his home has been killed in Iceland in what is believed to be the first time that a person has been shot dead by armed police in the country’s history.
The 59-year-old was reported to have been shot on Monday after firing on police as they entered the building in the east of the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik.
Teargas canisters had initially been fired through the windows after the man continued shooting and two police officers are reported to have been slightly injured after they entered.
The gunman was brought to hospital but was pronounced dead there at around 10am local time. The case will be investigated by Iceland’s state prosecutor.
The country’s national police chief, Haraldur Johannessen, told a press conference in Reykjavik that the incident was “without precedent”.
"The police are deeply saddened by this tragic event and would like to extend their condolences to the family of the individual in question," he added.
This is how police in an advanced country should behave. They resort to lethal force only in the most extreme circumstances and they regard it as a tragedy. Of course, there are so many ways in which America is not like Iceland, but this serves as an illustration of how things could and should be.
This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.
- Journalist James Foley was beheaded on video by an Islamic State militant on Tuesday. Foley, who had been captured in November of 2012, was murdered by a man with a British accent, prompting rapid investigation into the militant’s identity.
- The video also showed and threatened the life of another captive journalist - Steven Sotloff. Read more about him here. As Richard Engel reports, IS has been buying, trading, and stealing hostages from other Syrian groups.
- Journalist James Rohde, himself a former Taliban prisoner, wrote in a piece for The Atlantic that US unwillingness to negotiate with IS or pay a ransom for the release of captured journalists failed Foley.
- The Pentagon has said a Delta Force rescue was attempted over the summer, to no success.
- Also at issue is the widespread use of freelancers in war zone reporting an experience written about last summer by Italian freelancer Francesca Borri.
- Jon Lee Anderson comments in The New Yorker: “Yesterday’s guerrillas have given way to terrorists, and now terrorists have given way to this new band, who are something like serial killers”
- Read a selection of Foley’s reporting for GlobalPost.
- The lawyers for three Al Jazeera staff jailed in Egypt have filed an appeal.
- Tunisia and Egypt halted flights into and out of Libya over security concerns related to militia fighting.
- Shots were fired in the Liberian capital of Monrovia during protests over an Ebola quarantine in West Point slum.
- Boko Haram seized a police academy.
- Clashes in the Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui, between the militia and peacekeepers have intensified — killing five, including a Red Cross worker. Last weekend, 34 were killed in Bangui when members of the Seleka rebel group conducted a series of armed raids. As a result, the UN is increasing the number of peacekeepers in the country.
- Egyptian peacekeepers will be sent to support UN efforts in CAR, Mali and Sudan.
- Conflict over territorial disputes between Rezeigat and Maaliya tribes in Darfur has left 70 dead.
- An Israeli airstrike killed 3 Hamas commanders in Gaza and airstrikes continue.
- According to Haaretz, Germany, France and Britain have begun work on a Security Council resolution intended to end fighting in Gaza — granting the Palestinian Authority control over Gaza, internationally supervised reconstruction with the aim of preventing Hamas from re-arming and peace talks based on pre-1967 boundaries.
- Rights activists say Lebanese media freedoms are at risk.
- The estimated number of dead in the Syrian conflict is now 191,000, according to the UN.
- The US says it has completed destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal.
- In Iraq, US weaponry intended for the Iraqi army has fallen into IS hands.
- New Jersey-born Sharif Mobley is charged with murder in Yemen (downgraded from terrorism suspicions), yet his lawyers don’t know where he is.
- A photojournalist held in Iran has been released, but Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian remains in custody.
- The Afghan government expelled and banned New York Times reporter Matthew Rosenberg from the country for reporting it found threatening.
- Matthieu Aikins writes in Rolling Stone about times changing for the worse for the expat community in Afghanistan.
- The US has released 9 Pakistani prisoners from Bagram.
- The US is offering $30m for information on Haqqani leadership.
- Long-running border disputes in India’s northeastern Assam state have erupted in clashes, resulting in a dozen dead and 10,000 displaced.
- Street battles and heavy shelling in Donetsk, Ukraine have killed dozens — and the overall civilian/combatant death toll in the ongoing conflict is more than 2000.
- The first trucks of a massive, 270-truck Russian aid convoy have cleared customs in eastern Ukraine.
- A rocket strike on a refugee convoy in eastern Ukraine and killed 15 refugees.
- Over the past couple of weeks, a number of the pro-Russian rebel leaders have stepped aside.
- An interview with photojournalist Mauricio Lima, who has been on assignment for the New York Times in Ukraine for the past month.
- Kosovo arrested 40 men suspected of having fought in rebel groups in Syria and Iraq.
- At The New York Times, Ravi Somaiya and Christine Haughney write on the increased global targeting of journalists.
- The Guardian and the Texas Observer have teamed up to produce a four part series of reports on the humanitarian/immigration crisis at the US-Mexican border and in Central America.
- Mexico says 22,322 people have “disappeared" since the drug war began in 2006.
- The US says it plans to amend the process by which people can challenge their inclusion on the no-fly list.
I encourage you to donate something to the Committee to Protect Journalists in Foley’s name, so they can continue to work to protect reporters in danger around the world. (Other organizations that support and protect journalists include the Rory Peck Trust, RISC and Reporters Without Borders.)
Photo: Gaza Strip. Two men, Adel and Mohammed, in the only room left in their house not utterly destroyed. August 16. Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty.
There are many youngsters who only three days after they’ve been deported are killed, shot by a firearm. They return just to die —
Hector Hernandez, who runs a morgue in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
Hernandez estimated that “at least five, perhaps as many as 10, of the 42 children slain here since February had been recently deported from the U.S.”
I want to live in a world where a chicken can cross the road without anybody questioning its motives. — Neil deGrasse Tyson
Nearly $21,000 is missing after the cash fell from the roof of an armored truck that had picked it up from a soon-to-be-closed Atlantic City casino. —
Yeah, it definitely fell.
In unrelated news, I’m heading to Ibiza for a little vacay soon.
Gun Safety Rules:
1. Always Point a Gun in a Safe Direction
This one should be self-explanatory. It is the bedrock of all gun safety, and is the most important rule. Another way to say it, which Dad taught me many years ago, is, "Never point a gun at anything you’re not willing to shoot."