Archive from June, 2013
20 Jun
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Life Imitates the Simpsons

Ladies and Gentlemen, the story you are about to see is true. The names have not been changed to protect the asinine.

So the above quote is modified from Dragnet, a great police procedural from the 1950s and 60s. If you haven’t seen the show, you’ve probably seen a show like it…the call goes out to the officers in the squad car, something like, “10-20 (Robbery) at Broadway and Reade. Suspect is a tall white male, mid-thirties, brown hair, wearing a brown shirt and blue jeans. Suspect is believed to be armed, and should be considered dangerous. Last seen fleeing north on Broadway. Apprehend.”


Of course, police procedural shows like Law and Order have these types of calls, because that’s how police officers talk. The easiest way by far to identify a subject is by age, gender, and color. This is how cops do their job.

Except that Mayoral Candidate Christine Quinn wishes that the nasty cops didn’t use things like age, gender, and color when describing a suspect. And, being Speaker of the New York City Council who needs to revive her flagging and lackluster mayoral campaign, Quinn wants to do something about it. And fast, because the safety of the citizenry is no excuse for losing one’s primary race.

Juumaane Williams, City Council member from Brooklyn, introduced a bill that bars the NYPD from using race, age, gender, or disability in identifying a suspect, or risk a profiling lawsuit. Not surprisingly,  and perhaps showing the modicum of intellectual ability that is so rare on amongst our esteemed public servants, Public Safety Committee chair Peter Vallone Jr. refused to let the bill out of committee. Quinn, who the New York Times claims typically responds to opposition by threatening castration, chose a different option, and is bringing the bill for an immediate floor vote.

Not surprisingly, the NYPD, the Policeman’s Benevolent Association, and anyone with mental acuity of a dimwitted chipmunk are against the bill. Because barring the NYPD from broadcasting a suspect’s age, race, and gender is asinine.

In fact, Quinn has actually pledged to vote against the bill, once she was assured that there were enough votes for the bill to pass. What this means is that Quinn has engineered the passage of a bill designed to shore up her voting bloc, while at the same time casting a meaningless vote against that very same bill. On second thought, maybe Quinn isn’t as foolish as she seems. Of course, not being one of the 100 people who bought her book last week(again, according to the New York Times), I can neither confirm nor deny whether Quinn is a fool.

So where does this leave our police friends? Certainly less able to handle crime in Dragnet fashion, since they can’t use race, gender, or age to describe a suspect. Tt puts them square in the Chief Wiggum camp. Paraphrasing from The Simpsons episode 4:11, Homer’s Triple Bypass:

Chief Wiggum: Put out an APB for a suspect, driving a… car of some sort, heading in the direction of, uh, you know, that place that sells chili. Suspect is hatless. Repeat, hatless.

chief wiggum everton

19 Jun
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Congresswoman Clarke and Cuban Espionage

Maybe you’ve heard of the Cuban Five. If you haven’t, the Cuban Five are a group of five Cuban prisoners (from whence they get their catchy name), serving time in federal prison. With the support of Castro’s government, the Cuban Five operated as an espionage group in Florida’s Cuban community, and information they provided to Cuba enabled Cuban MIGs to shoot down a Brothers to the Rescue plane operating in international airspace. Brothers to the Rescue is an aid organization that conducts aerial patrols keeping an eye out for folks fleeing the Cuban regime via raft, so that they can be rescued. Three U.S. citizens and one permanent U.S. resident died in the attack. After a lengthy trial, in 2001 the Cuban Five were convicted on 26 separate counts related to espionage. They have since engaged in numerous appeals, including a request that the Supreme Court review the case (that request was denied). The Cuban Five are now really the Cuban Four, with one of the men having served his sentence and been released.

A few weeks ago the Cuban Interest Section (Cuba’s de facto embassy in the United States) organized a protest demanding release of the Cuban Five/Four, and protesters marched in front of the White House with signs reading “Defend the Revolution” and sporting Che Guevara t-shirts. None of which would be worth much attention, although a cynical observer might note the irony of protesters engaging in pro-Cuban activity that would get them jailed in Havana were it pro-American activity.  Other than that it would be worth a collective yawn…except for the fact that the protesters were invited to a reception hosted by Yvette Clarke, Brooklyn’s own representative (pictured below), and her Chicago counterpart Bobby Rush. As one would expect, the Cuban government celebrated the reception.

yvette clarke

What is one to make of this? Our (speaking of NYC as a whole) representative hosts a reception for pro-Castro protestors sponsored by the Cuban government. The same Cuban government that is one of four nations on the Department of State’s list of nations who are State Sponsors of Terrorism, along with Iran, Syria and Sudan. The same Cuban government that allows only 3% of its citizenry to have access to the internet; that regularly jails teenagers for “pre-criminal social dangerousness;” and that ignores basic tenets of human rights, jailing and torturing opponents to the regime, whom they term gusanos.

Gusanos such as Calixto Ramon Martinez Arias, arrested and beaten for exposing that cholera medication provided by the World Health Organization was not being distributed to the Cuban people because the regime sought to downplay the seriousness of a 2012 outbreak;  Ariel Sigler Amaya, who spent a decade behind bars for protests against the government, and emerged a broken and emaciated wreck; rapper Angel Yunier Remon, imprisoned for composing lyrics against the regime; blogger Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo who has suffered beatings for blog posts critical of the Cuba’s leadership; and at least 6,000 other perceived dissidents in the last year alone, according to the Directorio Democratico Cubana.

This is what I make of it; I’m disgusted and embarrassed. Disgusted that my Congresswoman (I live in her district) would enhance the legitimacy of the Castro regime, and embarrassed that my Congresswoman would see fit to host an event in support of spies who were found guilty of espionage against the United States.

Shame on you Congresswoman Clarke.

17 Jun
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Free Trade Between EU and US

At the recent G8 summit President Obama and PM Cameron discussed starting talks about establishing a free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States. The first negotiations would start on July 8th of this year and they hope by 2014 to have an agreement. “America and Europe have done extraordinary things before and I believe we can forge an economic alliance as strong as our diplomatic and security alliances, which of course are the most powerful in history,” said Obama.

France, which blocked the idea in the 1990s, is threatening to block the agreement again. They are afraid of the cultural competition from Hollywood and online entertainment. Nice to know the French haven’t changed.

The agreement is excepted to create 2 million jobs for the two sides of the Atlantic. Trade between EU and the US already makes up one third of global trade and is worth just shy of $3 billion a day. The German non-profit Bertelsmann Foundation study shows the trade agreement would help the US more than the EU. For the US the free trade would create a 13% increase in GDP per capita compared to the 5% for the EU. The study also suggested that the UK would benefit.