Steve Harrison at a 2007 anti-war protest in Brooklyn
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Late last night the Democratic Committee of Richmond County (Staten Island) selected conservative Mike McMahon as their designated nominee for the 13th Congressional District race. Progressive Democrat Steve Harrison called the selection process a “betrayal of democracy”, citing the refusal of the Democratic County Committee Convention to allow him to speak before the voting.

Many of those in attendance viewed the selection process as flawed. One “guest” — until recently a committee member — told NLN that the DCCC had thrown a number of progressives off the committee in the last two weeks. Two seated members of the committee confirmed that a number of pro-Harrison committee members had been removed recently. No explanations were offered to those who were tossed by Democratic Party bosses.

McMahon, who was endorsed in a closed door meeting of the DCCC executive committee prior to the general meeting, was nominated by Jerome X. O’Donovan. He was seconded by a committee member who identified herself as a “friend and neighbor”.

Kelvin Alexander, founder of 100 Blacks In Law Enforcement, nominated Harrison in a fiery speech. Alexander told the crowd, “the winds of change are blowing, don’t let them blow past Staten Island.”

Harrison’s nomination was seconded by campaign manager Laura Sword who said that Harrison almost beat incumbent Vito Fossella two years ago, has name recognition in Brooklyn and has been against George Bush’s war in Iraq “from day one.”

Sword said that while McMahon, who also interviewed with the Conservative Party earlier this week, is unknown in Brooklyn, Harrison has been campaigning and fundraising there for months. McMahon entered the race very late, deciding to run after scandal ridden Republican Vito Fossella announced his decision not to seek re-election. Sword said that Harrison had the courage to face Fossella when no other Democrat had been willing to do so. Harrison got 43.2 percent of the vote in the 2006 race, surprising observers.

The voting process itself was also a source of contention – although several committee members called for a roll call vote, this request was denied by the DCCC chair and the vote was completed by a show of hands.

After the convention, candidate Steve Harrison told reporters that despite assurances he would be allowed to address the committee he hadn’t been given a chance to speak until AFTER the vote. These irregularities angered Harrison supporters who cheered when their candidate vowed to fight on — and to win in the upcoming September primary.

“I think what we are looking at here is basically a setup…they were afraid that I’d be able to speak and sway enough people, and get through under the circumstances to the people that are out there, on the issues,” said Harrison describing the DCCC’s refusal to let him speak.

Speaking of official designee McMahon, Harrison said, “we do not know on the national issues what Mike McMahon stands for. In respect to the war, he hasn’t been vetted…we don’t know his positions with respect to abortion, we don’t know his positions with respect to the LGBT community.”

Referring to the thinking behind the DCCC’s executive committee’s endorsement Harrison described it as a panic reaction. “They gave up an advantage. I had 43 percent of the vote in my pocket,” Harrison said.

Although Harrison and his supporters were frustrated with the process and the outcome they were united in their desire to mobilize quickly for a primary.

“I’m in this race until the end,” Harrison said.

Posted by TAG - May 20, 2008 | News

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The Staten Island Advance broke the story today: local peace activists won’t have Vito Fossella to kick around any more. The man Terrible Tim describes as having “twice the family values of most republicans” announced today he will not seek re-election to the U.S. Congress.

It wasn’t years of lap dog support for President Bush’s aggressive wars or even a string of anti-veteran votes that brought down arch-conservative Vito Fossella, congressman from New York’s 13th Congressional District (Staten Island/Brooklyn). Fossella — who opposes reproductive rights and shuns his gay sister Victoria in the name of “family values” — announced his intention not to seek re-election today. He did so in the wake of multiple scandals. His drunk driving arrest on May 1 led to the revelation that Fossella was involved in a long running extramarital affair with Lt. Colonel Laura Fay (USAF Ret.) and had fathered a child with her. The final straw may have been yesterday’s announcement that watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington had filed a request with the House of Representatives ethics committee to investigate whether Fossella used tax payer monies to fund a trip abroad with his mistress.

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Posted by Elaine Brower - May 19, 2008 | News



David Hernandez and Elaine Brower at the Marine Corps Reserve Center
(Photo: Richard J. Marini / NLN)

On Saturday three of us from Staten Island, members of MDS, traveled to the Garden City, Long Island Marine Corps Reserve Center, home of the 2/25 Battalion, my son’s unit. Over the course of the morning about 200+ marines and sailors arrived there, soon to be deployed to Iraq. The Garden City location is the “Home Training Center” (HTC) for some military units from all over the east coast area.

So we packed up our 1 gallon Ziploc bags with literature to give to the deploying troops. We had enclosed the Military Project’s “Why We Are Here” statement; the GI Rights pamphlet; the March 2008 issue of “Traveling Soldier”, home baked brownies and cookies, and “Sir, No Sir! DVDs. The three of us arrived at the main entrance of the building at around 9 AM. Since the main gate was open, we decided to take the car inside and park it there. Bravely we approached the main sentry gate, where it was buzzing with marines in desert cammies and sidearms, with extra rounds!



(Photo: Richard J. Marini / NLN)

I went up to the window and asked if we could distribute the literature that I had handed over to the Sgt. on duty so he could look at it. I told him it was information for the military members, and he said “OK, you could stand right over there.” So we did, about 20 ft. from the sentry. Pretty neat, but we were hoping he wouldn’t take the time to open the bag and start reading everything inside.

Well, that didn’t last long, although we did hand out about 4 packets, before we were told we couldn’t stand there because there was a statement about “opposing the war in Iraq.” Funny how words matter. With that I asked where we could stand, and the Staff Sgt. In charge walked over and said “you could stand by the main gate, on the sidewalk.” So we headed out there, and handed out a few more packets to very disgruntled marines. Not a real happy crew that morning.

As we were standing there, another Sgt. wandered in our direction and walked up to us asking what we were doing. I had a sign with a slogan that my son told me his Gunny had used all the time, “The Military is at War, while America is at the Mall”. This Sgt. grilled me as to who I was and why we were there. I told him what our purpose was, and that my son, Sgt. James Brower, was coming here shortly and would be deployed for his third tour soon. He didn’t recognize the name, and looked a bit suspicious of me. But then he read the poster with the slogan I had printed, and he said “Oh, we had that written on a wall in Fallujah last time I was there!” He smiled and said “OK, have a nice day,” and left.

About 20 minutes later a Garden City Police car approached us. I knew the drill, and was expecting this. The officer drove directly up to me and asked me what we were doing, and then said “I really know why you are here, and I respect your right to be here…” he was actually very, very nice to us. He parked and got out of the car, took a lit package, and said that he was getting calls from inside the base, not from the command but from the marines themselves, who said we were “upsetting” the family members there to see their loved ones off for their deployment. I told him my son was coming shortly, and I would say goodbye to him also, and this is how I felt about his deployment, and that maybe some of those military families shared our feelings, and would welcome our literature.

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Posted by TAG - May 18, 2008 | News



Steve Harrison speaks to members of Peace Action
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – Peace activists held a press conference yesterday to announce the endorsement of congressional candidate Steve Harrison by Peace Action, a national anti-war organization. Harrison, a progressive Democrat, is challenging the incumbent Vito Fossella – recently in the news for a drunk driving arrest and an extramarital affair. Fossella is known for his uncritical support of the Iraq War, antipathy towards Gay and reproductive rights and his professed belief in “family values”.

Peace Action members from Staten Island and Brooklyn gathered in St. George, Staten Island on Saturday to formally endorse Harrison, who is running for Congress in New York’s 13th Congressional District. Previously, Peace Action, the nation’s largest grassroots peace organization, vetted the candidate with questions on foreign policy, nuclear weapons and national security and felt that Harrison would bring to Congress “an intelligent and educated approach to the real security of this country based on international cooperation, respect for human rights, and diplomacy.”

Among the positions taken by Harrison that earned him the support of Peace Action is his stance on the Iraq War. He is one of the original ten signatories to the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq. According to Harrison, “the Bush administration has not articulated a rationale for the continuation of this war. The current objective is not clear and the original reasons given by the Bush administration for the war were proven false. There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Iraq was not responsible for 9/11.”



Steve Harrison, surrounded by supporters at Saturday’s press conference
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Following the announcement of Peace Action’s endorsement of his campaign, Harrison spoke to his supporters. Noting that he always liked the name ‘Peace Action’, Harrison said, “I see people here who spent time at the Ferry. I see people who spent time in Vito Fossella’s face. Who aren’t afraid to walk up to his office, where he hides out, and walk right in there and stand there and say ‘we want to see Vito Fossella’…they did it and they were willing to take the consequences for it and they became known as the Fossella Five,” said Harrison. “I’m proud of the people in this room because courage is an extremely rare commodity in today’s world and I’m looking at the people who have the most of it so I applaud you,” he added.

Cheryl Wertz, Executive Director of Peace Action New York State, David Poleshuck, Chair of Peace Action of Staten Island, and Vicki McFayden of Bay Ridge Peace Action also spoke.

Wertz pledged her personal support to Harrison, arguing that “we cannot simply replace one individual who’s ignoring the law and disrespecting his family and who has a terrible voting record with another individual who’s obeying the law and respecting his family — and is still going to have a terrible voting record.”

Poleshuck said, “now that Fossella is in a moral crisis, we have many opportunists wanting to jump in and campaign for his office.” Poleshuck went on to say that any Democrat who wants his vote must take a principled position on the Iraq War – and that such a candidate was already campaigning. “We need a principled anti-war progressive running here and he is Steve Harrison,” he said. Referring to some of the latecomers who are considering running, Poleshuck said, “I cannot support a Democrat with the same Fossella policies.”

McFayden, whose son served two tours in Iraq, explained why she supported Harrison. “I know he’ll go to Washington. I know he’ll have the moral integrity to vote his conscience and hopefully inspire others to do the same,” she said.


View Photos/Videos From The Press Conference…

Posted by TAG - May 13, 2008 | News



Dominic Carter – Host of NY1’s Inside City Hall
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

NEW YORK — Journalist Dominic Carter, host of NY1’s popular “Inside City Hall” show, was fired up as he addressed members of the National Alliance on Mental Illness on Saturday. The organization and its supporters had gathered at NYC’s South Street Seaport for a “NAMIWalk” across the Brooklyn Bridge. The forecast had called for rain and clouds but according to Carter some divine intervention made Saturday “a great day in New York City!”



A NAMI supporter at the 2008 walk
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

South Street’s Pier 17 was filled with music as several hundred NAMI supporters turned out for the 5 kilometer walk. The goal of the annual event is to raise consciousness – and funds. All proceeds from the walks are used to fund NAMI outreach, advocacy and education programs and to help promote mental health research.

As the sun broke through the clouds, Wendy Brennan, Executive Director of NAMI New York City, addressed the crowd, thanking the sponsors and introducing Dominic Carter, host of the popular NY1 television news show “Inside City Hall”.

The usually restrained Carter was animated, telling rally goers, “NY1 News wanted me to cancel my public schedule today because there’s a lot going, talk about Senator Clinton possibly dropping out of the presidential race, Congressman Fossella…but folks I could not cancel today. I had to be here today with you!”

Carter told the crowd that that he had something in common with many of them.

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Posted by Penelope Rosemont - May 12, 2008 | News

CHICAGO — Amidst the nationwide flurry of this year’s May Day events—from New York to the West Coast and many points between—not the least was the day-long series of events in Chicago, the city where May Day began.

The events started at 10 A.M. with the annual commemoration of the Illinois Labor History Society and the Chicago Federation of Labor on the site of the Haymarket monument at Randolph and Desplaines, which has become one of downtown Chicago’s most popular tourist attractions. Speakers included James Thindwa from Jobs for Justice; Jorge Ramirez, CFL; Tom Balanoff (SEIU District Council), and Katie Jordan. Bucky Halker sang songs.

As the ILHS and CFL speakers concluded their morning May Day messages, many attendees enthusiastically joined the annual Immigrant Rights march.

At 5 o’clock, at Newberry Library, the ILHS held its annual meeting, a prelude to the special Newberry May Day event at 6: “The Wobblies: Memory and Model.” This special Library program opened with a display of selected IWW memorabilia now in the Newberry’s collection—an appreciable addition to such related holdings as the Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company collection; the Jack Jones Dil Pickle Club archive; and, more recently, the Henry P. Rosemont Typographical Union collection.

The evening program at Newberry began at 6pm. Larry Spivack, ILHS President, introduced Joe Hill as personified by Joseph Bella. Bella played the guitar and sang Joe Hill songs including the humorous Mr Block not often heard. Spivack presented the Newberry Library with a recent book on George Andreytchine, a Bulgarian Wobbly active in Chicago in the 1910s.

Len Despres, who has just celebrated his 100th birthday, gave a short speech on how the IWW influenced him through Eugene V. Debs and Roger Baldwin. Len, Chicago’s most famous alderman, is loved in Chicago for his work defending the defenseless, his courageous stand on civil rights, open housing, the defense of freedom of speech, and the rights of labor. Len’s book Challenging the Daley Machine is a necessity for all political activists.

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What do Robert Mugabe, Hillary Clinton and Vito Fossella have in common?
They should all step down.

Mugabe lost the election, Clinton lost the nomination and Fossella has lost it, period.

After years of mis-representing his constituency and his country, Vito Fossella is coming apart at the seams.

Enough already.

Posted by Elaine Brower - May 8, 2008 | News



Elaine Brower, just before her arrest
(Photo: Mike Morice / NLN)

NEW YORK — Local anti-war activists and citizens joined on the streets of New York City yesterday to condemn the ruling handed down by Justice Arthur Cooperman declaring the three police officers who killed Sean Bell and wounded Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield innocent of any wrongdoing. Hundreds of people gathered at five locations around the City demanding justice for the death of Bell, and the Bell family.

On 60th Street and 3rd Avenue, just outside Bloomingdales, we gathered our forces starting at 3 PM and over the course of 40 minutes had a few hundred people chanting and marching outside the shopping doors. Signs counting the shots fired “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6….50″ were carried, as well as “WE ARE ALL SEAN BELL, THIS WHOLE DAMN SYSTEM IS GUILTY!” About 3:45 PM the crowd, surrounded by police, justice department officials, and some other people in unidentifiable uniforms, marched in the direction of 2nd Avenue. The police looked dumbfounded and asked where we were going. Once on 2nd Avenue, the street captain, Cynthia from Reverend Al Sharpton’s “National Action Network”, shouted for us to cross the street and circle in front of the 59th Street Bridge off ramp.

Those of us who had already committed to participate in non-violent civil disobedience knelt down and held hands in front of oncoming traffic, joined by some others who peeled off after the second warning by the cops. Cynthia told us we were the smallest group that had gathered around the city, but we were determined to slow down traffic.


Protesters block the Queensboro Bridge at rush hour
(Photo: Mike Morice / NLN)

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Joseph Guzman outside One Police Plaza, just before his arrest
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

NEW YORK — Civil Disobedience actions shut down the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queensboro Bridges today during rush hour. The protests were called by Reverend Al Sharpton and his National Action Network as part of a campaign to force a Department of Justice investigation of the Sean Bell shooting case. The NYPD reported over 200 protesters were arrested, including Sean Bell’s widow, Nicole Paultre Bell, Sharpton, and shooting survivors Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield. After his release from police custody Sharpton told reporters, “Today the Sean Bell Movement was born.”

The following photographs were taken at the One Police Plaza protest – one of several sites where civil disobedience stopped traffic. Protesters – including Sharpton, Bell, Guzman and Benefield – held a rally outside police headquarters in lower Manhattan. Leaving the rally, the demonstrators knelt in prayer on Park Row at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge — where they were arrested for blocking traffic . (Click on any image to see the entire gallery).



Bell family attorney Sanford Rubenstein joins the protest at “1PP”
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)



(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)



Reverend Al Sharpton is arrested
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)



(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)



(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

View Photos/Videos From The One Police Plaza Protest…


New School SDS marching in an Iraq Moratorium action
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

NEW YORK — The New School chapter of Students for a Democratic Society rallied today, calling on students, staff, and faculty to support its campaign “for a socially just, responsible, and democratic university.” By the end of the protest SDS had convinced the New School administration to meet with students to discuss “four core demands.”

The rally started at 2:30 P.M. and grew as classes let out. By 3:30 P.M. a group of 35 students had assembled in the New School courtyard. The students were protesting because they said they have been excluded from participation in the decision-making process at their university. The SDS campaign “for a democratic university” raises a number of concerns the students want the administration to address.

New School University’s ties to war profiteers is a key issue. Robert B. Millard, the Treasurer of the New School Board of Trustees, is the chairman of the executive committee of L-3 Communications, one of the largest military contractors in the U.S. SDS has been protesting against L-3 for several months, accusing the contractor of being directly implicated in the violation of international law. Eight students were arrested for blocking the entrance to L-3 on March 19 – the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War. This lockdown was followed by a graphic die-in outside L-3 on April 18. New School SDS is demanding the removal of Millard from the Board of Trustees. The students are also demanding that all university ties to L-3 be severed.

According to a recent SDS statement, New School has labor problems too – students argue that the New School administration “ignores the concerns of workers by hiring labor-rights violating companies like New York Insulation and refusing to hear the demands of the Local 78 labor union.” SDS wants New School to cease doing business with New York Insulation.

Students and alumni are also challenging the New School administration’s refusal to renew the contract of Professor Barrie Karp, a popular professor in the cultural studies department. Students say this decision is indicative of the administration’s push to restructure the curriculum – and is part of a general shift away from the school’s progressive tradition. Students argue that the school is being “corporatized” and they are demanding Karp’s contract be renewed.

In addition SDS is calling for full disclosure of all university investments and financial statements “to the students, faculty, staff, and alumni of The New School.”

Determined to be heard, 15 students left the rally and attempted to get access to a Board of Trustees meeting, being held a short distance from the protest.

“We entered the meeting peacefully and quietly,” said Pat Korte, a New School SDS organizer.

The trustees asked the students to leave the private meeting but the students insisted that their demands be heard. In response, the trustees asked the students to submit a written list of their demands, promising to review the list at a later date. The students refused and eventually the Dean of Eugene Lang College offered a compromise.

“The trustees and the administration agreed to meet with us to discuss our demands…by no later than May 14,” Korte said. Korte and the other activists asked for this agreement in writing — and they got it.

Noting that it is finals week and students are “feeling pressured”, Korte said he was pleased with the turnout and with the agreement reached with the New School administration.

“I think the action was a success. We presented our demands in an assertive manner,” Korte said.

Anyone looking for more information on the New School SDS campaign can write to newschoolsds@riseup.com or visit www.newschoolsds.org.