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Capital, it fails us now. — Gang Of Four

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Sister Simone Campbell of “Nuns On The Bus”
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)


NEW YORK — September 24. A woman’s place is in the streets — and on the ferry — according to Sister Simone Campbell and her colleagues, known collectively as the “Nuns On The Bus.”

Led by Sister Simone Campbell, the “Nuns On The Bus” are a group of nuns traveling the country, advocating economic justice. They are supported by NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobbying group. Recently Sister Simone attained notoriety in the wake of her appearance at the Democratic National Convention.

On Monday Campbell and her fellow activist nuns held a press conference slash rally at Lower Manhattan’s South Ferry Terminal – the New York hub of the iconic Staten Island Ferry.


Chris Bauer (l), Chief of Staff for Assemblyman Matt Titone, standing with the Nuns
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

The event was dubbed the “Nuns On The Ferry Action” by organizers. The action was well attended and the area north of the ferry terminal’s subway entrance was filled with sisters and supporters.


Mark Hannay, Director of Health Care For All, MC’d the event
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

The conference was unusual in that it had the feel of a protest rally, with participants expressing their excitement and enthusiasm throughout the event. Amidst all the cheering and applause, a number of speakers, including Sr. Simone and Sr. Janet Kinney of Providence House, denounced the proposed Paul Ryan budget, which would cut medicaid and medicare benefits.

Representative Ryan (R, Wisconsin), Romney’s running mate, calls his budget “The Path To Prosperity.”


Sr. Simone Campbell recently spoke at the Democratic National Convention
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

The nuns called it “immoral” — citing the impact it would have on the poor.


Sr. Janet Kinney, of Providence House New York, spoke about the impact of the Ryan cuts on the poor
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

Following the spirited press conference the nuns boarded the Staten Island Ferry and traveled across New York Harbor to the southernmost settlement in New York State.

Arriving on the Island, the sisters gathered on the steps of Borough Hall, the seat of local government, for a second press conference. The journey was organized in response to Tea Party congressman Michael Grimm’s support of the Ryan budget.

Sr. Mary Ellen Lacy spoke at Borough Hall
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

Sr. Mary Ellen Lacy, the last of the Nuns On The Bus regulars to speak at the event, was followed by local activists including Rev. Terry Troia who is the director of Project Hospitality, a homeless shelter. Troia, a protestant, expressed her admiration for the nuns — and her opposition to the so-called “Path To Prosperity.” Standing behind Troia, cheering supporters filled the steps of Borough Hall to capacity.

All of the event’s speakers urged Grimm to drop his support for Ryan’s budget.

This seems unlikely. Although the event organizers requested a meeting with Grimm — and he initially agreed — the congressman later said that he would only meet with the nuns on the Brooklyn side of the harbor. Undeterred the sisters took the Staten Island Railroad to Grimm’s office in the New Dorp section and spoke with one of his staff.


Michael Grimm: One of CREW’s Most Corrupt Members of Congress

Grimm (R, NY CD-11), the subject of a federal grand jury investigation into illegal campaign contributions (stemming from Grimm’s 2010 campaign), issued a statement saying that:

“It’s a little odd that Catholic nuns who have dedicated their lives to serving God and the community are now focused on something as political as the Ryan-Romney budget. They are putting a lot of effort into such a partisan matter, instead of taking to the streets in opposition to issues like NYC schools giving the morning after pill to teenagers, potentially without their parents’ knowledge. For teenagers to be taught that abortion is an acceptable form of birth control is as disgusting and reprehensible as gender-select abortion, and furthermore shows the moral breakdown of our society.” is reporting that Sister Simone Campbell issued a statement in reply: “Our opposition is not political; it’s about morality.”

Grimm, who, according to journalist Tom Wrobleski, was educated by nuns in a Catholic school, has been accused of having some failing marks in the area of morality.

For two years in a row Grimm has been named one of the Most Corrupt members of Congress by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

The embattled Grimm is presently running for re-election. He is opposed by pro-labor Democrat Mark Murphy. The election will be held on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. Sister Mary Ellen Lacy, one of the Nuns On The Bus who spoke at Borough Hall, urged rally attendees to vote with their hearts.


View Photos/Videos From The Event…


Unsung heroes Ed Josey and Steve Lawton
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)


STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — September 20, 2012. On Thursday the “Forgotten Borough’s” progressive Democrats honored a number of unsung heroes.


NYC comptroller John Liu spoke at the dinner
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

The Staten Island Democratic Association held its 51st annual awards dinner at the Staaten on Thursday. The event was celebratory in nature and well attended by the Island’s progressive politicians — and a few friends from outside the borough. Speaking at the dinner were: NYC comptroller John Liu, former NYC comptroller Bill Thompson, New York State comptroller Tom DiNapoli, and City Council Member Letitia James (Brooklyn).


City Council Member Letitia James spoke briefly
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

Staten Island electeds speaking at the event included: State Senator Diane Savino, Assemblyman Matt Titone, and City Council Member Debi Rose.


State Senator Diane Savino
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

A number of awards were given out as SIDA celebrated its unsung heroes.

Kirsten Gillibrand, who sent a representative, received the Outstanding Legislative Leadership Commendation.

The Outstanding Public Service Commendation went to New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.


Liz Price and Tom Shcherbenko
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

Community organizers Liz Price and Tom Shcherbenko received the Peggy Johnston Club Service Award.

The Terence Benbow Environmental Award was presented to longtime activists Jack and Lois Baird.


Tom Murphy
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

Tom Murphy received the Tyrone Butler Political Action Award — and delivered a fiery acceptance speech.


The activist’s activist: Steve Lawton of CWA Local 1102
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

The John W. Lavelle Labor Award went to CWA Local 1102 business agent Steve Lawton. Lawton is well known to all labor union activists in Staten Island — and is respected for his commitment to the principle of solidarity. If there is a picket or a protest Lawton will be found standing with his fellow workers. As one speaker observed, Lawton is regarded as the activist’s activist.


The NAACP’s Ed Josey and City Council Member Debi Rose
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

The final award, the Paul O’Dwyer Humanitarian Award, was presented by Council Member Debi Rose to Edward C. Josey. Josey, the eight-term president of the Staten Island branch of the NAACP, is as much a symbol as a man — known to all civil rights activists on Staten Island, Ed is well respected for his years of dedication to the cause, and his humble, thoughtful, style. Josey thanked Rose and SIDA for the honor, thanked his wife for her years of support (and apologized to her for all the uneaten dinners), and told the crowd that everyone in the room had contributed to the struggle for human rights — noting that without this kind of solidarity there would have been no progress.


View Photos/Videos From The Event…


Aife Murray — Poet / Baker
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)


NEW YORK — September 15, 2012. What is an Emily Dickinson Sense Surround — if you ask Aife Murray it’s an event celebrating poetry, cooking, gardening, and music.

The Emily Dickinson Sense Surround event, dubbed the “world premiere” by organizers, was held at Art Star, a gallery space in Lower Manhattan’s Alphabet City on Saturday, September 15, 2012.



The free event featured cake and cookies made from recipes Dickinson collected. An apron clad Murray, herself a baker, recited poetry and recipes alike, accompanied by a slide show.


Marta McDowell shares her passion for gardening
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

Marta McDowell described Dickinson’s love of gardening — and passed around flowers, including a section of a fig tree, for attendees to touch.


Cindy Dickinson is director of interpretation and programming at the Dickinson Museum
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

Cindy Dickinson read from Emily’s personal letters as the event moved “from the kitchen into the parlor.”


Historical musician David Giovacchini
(Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

Wrapping up the event was singer-guitarist David Giovacchini, who played songs favored by Dickinson. Giovacchini invited the audience to sing along — which they did.

The event was part of the NYC LitCrawl initiative.

On their website LitCrawl states:

Lit Crawl now draws hundreds of readers, writers, and revelers to crawl through the East Village and the Lower East Side, listening to writers, playing literary trivia, and celebrating New York’s spirited and diverse literary community.


View Photos/Videos From The Event…


Click HERE To Watch The Video

NEW from Love & Struggle Video: the latest installment in the Aesthetic Dimension playlist. Joining the L&S video (re)interpretations of The Politics of Experience (R.D. Laing), One-Dimensional Man (Herbert Marcuse), and The Mass Psychology of Fascism (Wilhelm Reich), is Thomas Altfather Good’s take on Herbert Marcuse’s masterpiece,”Eros And Civilization – A Philosophical Inquiry Into Freud.”
We hope you find it useful.

Celebrating community at Black Heritage Family Day
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)


STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — September 15, 2012. Hundreds of marchers took to the streets to celebrate community on Saturday’s Black Heritage Family Day — fired up by unusually impassioned speeches from the borough’s elected officials.

Staten Island’s Black Heritage Family Day is an annual event celebrating diversity — and community. This year was no exception, although the preliminary speeches were more animated than in previous years.


Assemblyman Matt Titone and State Senator Diane Savino
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Kicking off the event, a contingent of Staten Island’s progressive politicians addressed supporters. New York City Comptroller John Liu, State Senator Diane Savino and Assemblyman Matt Titone looked on as an impassioned City Council Member Debi Rose urged marchers to “reclaim our community” by working to end the gun violence plaguing the Island’s North Shore.

“And then I want you to empower your mind, I want you to empower your community by voting!” Rose said.

Rose reminded supporters that, due to redistricting, their polling places may have changed. She urged the faithful to contact the board of elections to verify their polling sites.


Mark Murphy (l) with Ed Josey, President of the Staten Island NAACP
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

The theme of community and people power was echoed by an animated Mark Murphy. Murphy is the Democrat challenger looking to unseat Tea Party congressman Michael Grimm. Grimm is regarded as vulnerable — the freshman congressman, himself a former FBI agent, is the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation and has weathered a number of scandals in his brief tenure.

According to wikipedia:


Grimm is currently under federal grand jury investigation due to accusations that he accepted contributions over the legal limit and from non-citizen donors without green cards from Ofer Biton, a former aide to Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto. Allegedly, Grimm would in turn assist Biton in obtaining a green card. Allegations persist that Grimm accepted a $5,000 cash contribution in close proximity to the FBI building in New York. Three witnesses confirmed to the New York Times that Grimm and Biton gave them personal assurances that they would accept campaign contributions above the legal limit. Paul Duffy, a Staten Island voter, filed a complaint against Grimm with the Federal Election Commission over the issue. On August 17, 2012, Ofer Biton was arraigned Brooklyn, New York. He is charged with lying about his finances when he applied for a visa for foreign investors two years ago.


(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Although Staten Island has traditionally been a Republican stronghold, Democrats see an opportunity to unseat the embattled Grimm. Their candidate is Mark Murphy. Murphy, endorsed by the New York Metro Area Postal Union, the largest local of the APWU, is a staunchly pro-labor Democrat — and a fiery orator.

Murphy spoke about his family’s multi-generational commitment to working with Staten Island’s diverse communities, including the disenfranchised, and asked the audience:

“What kind of country do we want after November? Do we want a country that looks out for each other, that looks out for our children or do we want a country that balances its budget on the backs of our children? On the backs of our children — and gives tax breaks to billionaires and corporations that ship their jobs overseas? I say we want a country that works together, we want a community that works together, just like the one we have here right now.”


(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

Following the uncharacteristically rousing speeches, the march to Tappen Park was colorful — high stepping marching bands, colorful floats, and civic groups with banners — and spirited.


View Photos/Videos From The Event…


(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)


Windmills on a building on Delmar in St. Louis producing renewable energy.
(Photo: Jason Sibert / NLN)

ST. LOUIS — Are Missouri utility companies undermining a renewable energy standard passed by the state’s voters?

St. Louis environmental lawyer Henry Robertson, who works for the St. Louis based non-profit law organization Great Rivers Environmental Law Center and is also on the Missouri chapter of the Sierra Club’s executive committee and is the Missouri chapter’s energy chair, feels the answer is yes.

In 2008 Missouri voters passed Proposition C which established a renewable energy standard in the state. Prop. C states that 15 percent of the state’s electricity must come from renewable sources by 2021, said Robertson. The legislation allowed utility companies to move toward the 15 percent goal in increments.

The Missouri based utility Ameren Missouri is using energy from its 99-year-old hydroelectric plant located in Keokuk, Iowa as renewable energy, according to Robertson. However, there’s controversy about the size of the plant in Iowa, as Robertson also said Prop. C states that the maximum size of a hydroelectric plant is 10 megawatts and that the Keokuk plant exceeds the size. Environmental groups are concerned about the impact of large hydroelectric dams on habitat. However, the Keokuk plant is not a dam, as it generates electricity from the Mississippi river, said Robertson.

Robertson said environmental organizations hoped most of the renewable energy produced under the four-year-old legislation would be wind and solar. He also said Missouri was missing out on economic growth due to the lack of renewable energy development. Robertson estimated the state was losing out on 1,000 jobs due to the lack of renewable energy development.

“We really want to see new renewable energy,” Robertson said.

The environmental lawyer also questions the way Missouri utility companies account for the renewable energy they produce, as Robertson said they are counting renewable energy produced in past years in the current year, a practice he said was forbidden by Prop C.


Ameren Missouri Renewable Energy Manager Bill Bardieri told a different story. He admitted that Ameren was using renewable energy from past years but also said that the practice was within the bounds of Prop. C because the renewable energy Ameren was using had not been used in any other renewable energy program. In addition, he also said the Keokuk hydroelectric facility was within the bounds of Prop C because it states that each generator on a hydroelectric plant can no larger than 10 megawatts and all 15 generators are no larger than 10 megawatts.

Empire District Electric Director of Corporate Communications Amy Bass offered a similar response as Ameren, as she said Empire was using renewable energy from past years and that it was allowed under Prop. C. Kansas City Power and Light Spokesman John Larance said that his company was following Prop. C as it is written.

Robertson said in a later interview that under Prop. C utility companies could forward renewable energy produced to a coming year but could not use renewable energy from past years. He also said the 10 megawatt restriction on hydroelectric plants applied to the whole plant and not individual generators.

(Photo: Zuccotti Park, October 2011 – Thomas Altfather Good / NLN)

“Free your mind and your ass will follow.” — George Clinton

Happy Anniversary Occupy Wall Street.

Posted by TAG - September 11, 2012 | Editorial

Eleven years ago I was at work when a secretary told me that a plane had hit the Trade Center. And then a second plane hit. I went outside and the sky was a surreal blue — except for that part of it that was filled with smoke. I had no idea at the time that the tragedy would become the foundation for a twisted ideology of hate that is most firmly entrenched in individuals who have no connection with NYC — or reality. My theory is that the further away from the event or situation the true believer is, the more entrenched their ideology becomes. It’s always easier to believe in sweeping generalizations and stereotypes when you’re dealing with abstractions.

Adding insult to grievous injury — 9/11 was used by politicians who exploited the victims (and the emerging ideology) for their own purposes. Some of their number used the event in a manner not unlike how the Reichstag fire was used in the last days of the Weimar Republic: as a pretext for curtailment of civil liberties and the launching of aggressive wars. So as I remember the victims of 9/11, including the legion of heroic first responders from Staten Island — my home — I also remember the victims of the Reichstag fire. There were eventually millions of the latter. Their voices should serve as a warning.

Thomas Altfather Good
New York City
September 11, 2012

Police arrested eight workers at the 63 Street Hot And Crusty
(Photo: Marty Goodman)

NEW YORK — September 1, 2012. On Friday, following news of an impending store closure, workers at the 63 Street location of the Hot and Crusty bakery launched a 24-hour picket and store occupation — by nightfall eight of their number had been arrested.

The sit-in started Friday and was ended soon after when police arrested eight activists. The picket is ongoing.

The fired workers allege that the company deliberately withheld rent payments following a hard-fought and successful unionization drive in May, 2012. The company, owned by private equity partner Mark Samson, gave the Hot and Crusty Workers Association 11 days notice of eviction from the property.


Activists outside Hot And Crusty, before the arrests
(Photo: Marty Goodman)

Earlier this month employees were told that August 31st would be their last day.


The union, led by grassroots labor organization Laundry Workers Center, and joined by a contingent from Occupy Wall Street, students, faith and community members, occupied the bakery demanding the company stop its union-busting tactics, pay its rent immediately, and negotiate a fair contract with its workers.

Workers allege that the company used several bait-and-switch tactics during prior negotiations and threatened some workers’ immigration status to deter their commitment to continuing the fight.


Activists occupied the store briefly
(Photo: Marty Goodman)

The August 31 closure meant the loss of 23 jobs — including employees with as many as 12 years of employment with the company. Workers allege owners, including Mark Samson, Evangelos Gavalas and Nick Glendis, have a history of wage and hour violations, intimidation, retaliation, and harassment of workers in several of their businesses, as well as a pattern of closing down shops and opening under different aliases to avoid legal and economic liability. Workers have filed charges at the National Labor Relations Board alleging that the company is closing the 63 Street shop to intimidate workers organizing at other Hot and Crusty locations.


Mahoma Lopez, a leader in the campaign who has worked at Hot and Crusty for over seven years said, “I want to send a message that we have to change the way immigrants are treated in this country. We have to show the bosses that we can’t be treated like animals any longer. We need to take radical action like people did in the civil rights movement, so that our voices can be heard. We are so happy to have the community here with us.”


Diego Ibanez, a member of Occupy Wall Street, emphasized the connection between Wall Street and workers, saying, “We’re sending a clear message to greedy bosses that we are watching and will not allow our people in the community to be oppressed any longer”.

CORRECTION: this story was updated at 15:22 EDT. The number of arrested, initially reported as four, was corrected (to eight).