Friday, February 28, 2014

Apple to NCPPR: Get Lost

Amy Moritz Ridenour: The Bill Donohue of the 0.1%
You might remember the National Center for Public Policy Research as the sleazy, amoral astroturf organization that gladly sold it's deceptively ambiguous name to Jack Abramoff.  NCPPR is essentially a husband and wife team of soulless grifting shills who advance the causes or their right-wing funders (e.g. Olin, Scaife, ExxonMobil).

Anyway, when they brought their sideshow routine to Apple's annual meeting, Tim Cook gave them the only response they deserved:
"When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind," he said, "I don't consider the bloody ROI." He said that the same thing about environmental issues, worker safety, and other areas where Apple is a leader.
As evidenced by the use of "bloody" in his response—the closest thing to public profanity I've ever seen from Mr. Cook–it was clear that he was quite angry. His body English changed, his face contracted, and he spoke in rapid fire sentences compared to the usual metered and controlled way he speaks.
He didn't stop there, however, as he looked directly at the NCPPR representative and said, "If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock."
Bravo, Mr. Cook.

Krugman to CUNY

Paul Krugman Quitting Princeton to Be Closer to Zabar's
Professor Krugman, Nobel laureate* and savior of the NYT Op-Ed pages, quits Princeton for CUNY. This is awesome.
In announcing on Friday that he would be retiring from Princeton at the end of this year to take a faculty position at CUNY, Paul Krugman offered some high-minded ideas about how his interests have shifted and he now wants to work someplace with more of a focus on public policy.
* in Economics. But whatever. 

Great Anti-Fracking Missive To Exxon CEO From Former Mobil CEO

Speaking of letters ..
Right on.  Also, amazing to see the current CEO of Exxon suing to prevent fracking close to his own home in Texas.
In response to the prospect of fracking ruining our communities, many New York towns have passed zoning laws that prohibit heavy industry, including any activities associated with drilling for oil and gas. Those laws, along with very little prospect for economic gas production in New York, mean that we probably will not have to look at fracking water towers, let alone live next to fracking well pads. I say probably, because your industry is still fighting those zoning laws in the courts.  
Ironically, your reasoning at the Bartonville, Texas town council meetings is virtually identical to the reasoning that I and many other citizens used to convince our local town councils to pass laws that prohibit the very problem you have encountered, plus all of the other infrastructure and waste disposal issues associated with fracking.  
No one should have to live near well pads, compression stations, incessant heavy truck traffic, or fracking water towers, nor should they have their water or air contaminated. You and I love the places where we live, but in the end, if they are ruined by fracking or frack water tanks, we can afford to pack up and go someplace else. However, many people can't afford to move away when they can no longer drink the water or breathe the air because they are too close to one of your well pads or compressor stations. 

BitCoin Bankruptcy: Latest Reports From Libertarian Banking Paradise

Bitcoin Kingpin Admits Everyone's Money Is Gone
Schadenfreude.  Bitcoin has got to be the stupidest goddamn idea I have ever heard of.  Insanely wasteful idiocy, because freedom somehow. I'm sure a few gamblers and a lot of thieves have made out well though.
Japan-based Mt.Gox CEO Mike Karpele—who may or may not be Chris Farley reanimated with the soul of Reddit—just copped to some very bad news: yes, he lost all your money. We still don't know why all the money is gone, or where it went, but a combination of theft and titanic incompetence is likely. The bottom line of anyone who used the Mt.Gox exchange: your account balance is now zero.
By the way, "Mt.Gox" stands for "Magic the Gathering online exchange".  Can you think of a better place to entrust one's financial holdings?  I thought not.

Freedom!

Incarcerating Our Way To Prosperity

Freedom! Something is very, very wrong with this picture.  If you want to talk about an utterly failed, outrageously expensive and intrusive policy, there is no better place to start than our "war on drugs".

Step one: legalize and tax marijuana.  There are many, many more changes to be made.  But that's the lowest hanging fruit.

Friday Pop Culture: HBO's True Detective

We're always behind the times on pop culture here at Firstandcourt.  There just isn't enough time in the day, and so I've got a mile long list of shows/movies to be watched if we ever move to a 25 hour day.

Last night we were finally going to start House of Cards, but based on many recommendations made a last minute decision to start True Detective.  And now House of Cards is going to have to wait, because True Detective was gripping.  Terrific performances and cinematography and a bleak landscape.

It feels like watching a movie.  Only better, because I know this story is going to spool out of 8 hours and they can take their time telling it right.  I recall Atrios pining for more serialized dramatic programming over the years, and I've come to agree.  90 minutes is fine for a fluff comedy, but the 90-180 minute window for a film is not the optimal vehicle for all storytelling.  Imagine if they adapted the Game of Thrones novels into 3 hour movies instead of 10 hour seasons.  It would be a travesty.

Anyway.  True Detective grabbed me and I'm hoping to watch the second episode tonight.

 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Subway Ad Art/Vandalism


This one have me a good belly laugh on the way to work this morning.

Preach, Brother Hamilton!

Hedge Fund Managers Are the Biggest Gangsters of All
The carried interest exemption/loophole really is an unconscionable theft from the rest of society. End it.

This is where private financial swashbuckling meets the public good. One side will win, and one side will lose. To defer to the bank accounts of a tiny group of insanely rich hedge funders over the needs of the public at large is insane. This week, economists at the IMF issued a new report that finds that redistribution of income has a "statistically insignificant" effect on economic growth—in other words, that policies designed to combat economic inequality, like high taxes on the very rich, do not hurt a nation's overall economy. "Rather than a trade-off [between economic growth and economic inequality]" they write, "the average result across the sample is a win-win situation, in which redistribution has an overall pro-growth effect, counting both potential negative direct effects and positive effects of the resulting lower inequality." If wealth can be redistributed within a society without harming that society's overall economy, a key pillar of right wing economic argument is destroyed. It is a given that our society is not fair. It does not offer equality of opportunity, nor equality of outcome. Knowing that, what we can do is pursue equality on the back end, by taking some from those who have way too much, and giving it to those in desperate need. An extremely mild way to do this is to tax hedge funders at normal tax rates. By keeping that money in their own pockets, they are making themselves into enemies of the public. Our current system, in which teachers can barely lead middle class lifestyles, but a man whose firm is knee-deep in insider trading practices can earn $2.3 billion per year while paying lower tax rates than those teachers, is unconscionable.
There is absolutely no justification left for this blatant ripoff.

Fire At Buschenshank This Morning

Early Fire At Buschenschank On Court Street Forershadowed By A Tweet?
If you wondered like I did why Court Street was blocked with emergency vehicles this morning, it's because Buschenshank was on fire.
This morning at around 6:30 am, a fire broke out at Buschenschank, at 320 Court Street. It was quickly subdued, though Court Street was still blocked at Sackett Street at around 7:30 Am. According to reader Simon van Kempen, who alerted me to the incident, the fire may have broken out in Buschenschank's basement, since there was visible damage on the ground floor.
I wonder if it came from the downstairs area that was not disclosed to CB6 when Buschenshank applied for it's license?

About That Webcam Spying: Where Are The Fiscal Conservatives?

Because They Can
What Atrios said.  What an absurd, abusive waste of resources.  No money for education, or infrastructure, but billions every year for this intrusive, abusive garbage.
"I'm of the opinion that most of this stuff is just a colossal waste of time and money, a way for agencies to justify their budgets and people to justify their jobs. Of course it's a colossal waste of time and money which is also a colossal violation of privacy rights that is open to extreme abuse."
And of course, because it's all done in total secret, there's no opportunity for us to have a conversation about what a ridiculous, abusive waste it is.

British Spies Siphoning Webcam Traffic, Seeing Lots Of Genitals

Britain's surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the US National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, secret documents reveal. GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not. In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally. Yahoo reacted furiously to the webcam interception when approached by the Guardian. The company denied any prior knowledge of the program, accusing the agencies of "a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy". GCHQ does not have the technical means to make sure no images of UK or US citizens are collected and stored by the system, and there are no restrictions under UK law to prevent Americans' images being accessed by British analysts without an individual warrant.
The raciest use our webcams get at Firstandcourt is the occasional family Skype chat with the in-laws.  And thank god for that, because the Panopticon extends to cybersex.
Britain's surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the US National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing, secret documents reveal. GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 explicitly state that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not. In one six-month period in 2008 alone, the agency collected webcam imagery – including substantial quantities of sexually explicit communications – from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally. Yahoo reacted furiously to the webcam interception when approached by the Guardian. The company denied any prior knowledge of the program, accusing the agencies of "a whole new level of violation of our users' privacy". GCHQ does not have the technical means to make sure no images of UK or US citizens are collected and stored by the system, and there are no restrictions under UK law to prevent Americans' images being accessed by British analysts without an individual warrant.
Seriously, the spy agencies are out of control. There is literally no way on earth this (already illegal) information collection is not being abused once collected. 

Billionaire Owned Vanity Press Wants Two Scoops, Sprinkles, And A Hit Piece On AG Schneiderman

Freelancer Quit Observer Story Because He Felt the Paper Was Using Him
Sweet Jesus, this New York Observer story just keeps on getting more embarrassing. 
Has The Politicker covered this yet?
The original freelancer assigned to the revenge-motivated New York Observer takedown of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in an interview with the New York Times today that he was hired straight out of an ice cream shop and quit when he figured out all the paper wanted was a smear piece. In August, Schneiderman sued Donald Trump — father-in-law of Observer owner Jared Kushner — over allegations of fraud tied to Trump's real estate seminars, Trump University. Emails between the Observer and the attorney general's office suggest the Observer's interest in the story seemed to increase around filings in the Trump case. The story's original author, 28-year-old Bill Gifford was managing a New Jersey ice cream shop when a customer, Observer editor Ken Kurson, randomly offered him the freelance assignment.
It could be worse.  And I look forward to tomorrow, when it probably gets worse.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

More Snowden Revelations: Government Trolling

Needless to say this sort of activity is anathema to a free and open
democracy. The spying agencies are out if control. And no wonder, as
there has been zero effective oversight.
But these GCHQ documents are the first to prove that a major western
government is using some of the most controversial techniques to
disseminate deception online and harm the reputations of targets.
Under the tactics they use, the state is deliberately spreading lies
on the internet about whichever individuals it targets, including the
use of what GCHQ itself calls "false flag operations" and emails to
people's families and friends.
Who would possibly trust a government
to exercise these powers at all, let alone do so in secret, with
virtually no oversight, and outside of any cognizable legal
framework?
And they're spending billions of your tax dollars to do it.  For freedom!

Hospital For Sale: LICH RFP Reopened Today

There are no guarantees in life.  But today SUNY reopened the RFP for LICH and various stakeholders (CGNA included) are hopeful that this time we can do better.  The Brooklyn Daily eagle has the story:
Beginning Wednesday, bidders interested in purchasing the 20-building hospital complex, located in the heart of booming brownstone Brooklyn, have 15 business days – until March 19  at 3 p.m. – to submit their best proposals. Evaluators will have until March 26 to consider and rank the proposals.
All interested bidders are required to attend a presentation at the SUNY College of Optometry, 33 West 42nd Street, on Monday, March 3 at 5 p.m. Mandatory site visits take place March 4 and 5.Questions are due March 11 by 5 p.m.; answers will be provided on March 14.The complete RFP is posted online at http://www.suny.edu/hospitals/downstate/newrfp/.
The RFP was issued after state Supreme Court Justice Johnny Lee Baynes gave his final approval on Monday to a sweeping settlement between SUNY, the state Department of Health, and a coalition of LICH supporters including six community groups, patients, Public Advocate Letitia James, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), Physicians for LICH, and 1199SEIU. 
Keep your eyes open and your fingers crossed.  There's still a lot of work to be done to keep LICH alive in a form that suits the community.

The Gruesome Triple Murder Before The Boston Bombings

Boston Magazine has a great long read (warning: graphic autopsy photos included) on the unanswered questions related to the gruesome triple murder in Waltham, MA in September 2011 that has since been attributed to Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Ibragim Todashev.

Waltham, September 11, 2011: Three men, throats slit, cash and drugs left on the bodies. Two years later, two dead suspects: Tamerlan Tsarnaev, and a friend who the FBI says was about to confess. One haunting question: Could solving this case have prevented the Boston Marathon bombings?

This story has been of greater than average interest to me for two reasons.  First, my wife is from Boston and has historically attended the Boston marathon, in the general vicinity where the Tsarnaev miscreants set off their bombs.  So that hit home.  And second, in a bizarre coincidence, one of the victims of the brutal triple murder was a grade-school classmate of her and her circle of friends.  It's a small world.

In any event, the linked story is troubling on many levels, and I hope we learn more about what happened as time goes by.

Billionaire-Owned Vanity Press Attacks AG Schneiderman, Hilarity Ensues

Emails Show How Donald Trump's Enemy Became the Observer's Enemy
The Observer's ham-fisted attack on NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is so clumsy and so obvious it's embarrassing.  The PR equivalent of pulling a pin on a grenade and dropping it in your own foxhole.
On Tuesday, the desiccated ruin of the New York Observer published a bizarre, hilariously facile takedown of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, accusing him of using his office to wage politically motivated prosecutions. Speaking of motives, the piece relied largely on the testimony of the racist birther Donald Trump, whom Schneiderman's office sued in August over allegations of fraud at Trump's for-profit education venture, Trump University. Donald Trump is, among many other things, the father of Ivanka Trump, who is married to the Observer's owner, Jared Kushner.
Scoring on your own goal. 

Proudly Liberal, And In Good Company



A dirty word gets clean. (Yes, I'm talking about the "L" word)
This chart supports the point I have made several times about the lesson Governor Cuomo should take from the NYC mayoral and council elections. The party trend is moving to the left. Sticking to the centrist/corporatist/DLC/Third Way route against the trend is a losing proposition. Embrace the leftward shift.  Embrace labor, embrace populism, and abandon the focus on tax cuts.
In any case, there are two factors here that are of interest. The first is that the demonization of the word itself seems to have faded a bit. If 43% of Democrats are now willing to call themselves liberal it is obviously no longer a shameful label. I don't know why that's happened, but perhaps it's just as simple as the fact that the conservatives have been making such asses of themselves in recent years that normal people are no longer as influence by their opinions. But I'm more interested in the fact that 43% of one of the major parties is a big constituency. Now it's not as large as the conservative constituency in the Republican Party, which holds a large majority, but it's a plurality and it's growing. I think the Party poohbahs had better start reckoning with the idea that they need to show that faction just a little bit more respect than they've been showing it in the last few decades. At the very least they need to stop insulting them.
The pendulum swung to far to the right over the last 35 years, and now we're starting to swing back.

Uber: Free Market Libertarian Taxi Paradise

Uber Forced Driver Shortage to Boost Surge Pricing
Have never used the service and don't plan to.  Not surprised that the "libertarian" champion is in actuality a rapacious grifter.
This Valentines day, while traveling through San Diego in an Uber car, Lane heard something that disturbed him. "The driver had a Ford Sync system, and it read his text messages out loud." The message, which came wedged between numerous texts about a promotion for free roses, said, "UberX is very close to SURGE. It's Valentine's Day! People will be out all night and we didn't activate new drivers to make earnings even higher this weekend." Emphasis added. It can't be overstated: this is the exact opposite of what Uber says it tries to do, which is boost driver supply accordingly when demand increases. Here, we have a case of Uber suppressing driver supply to exploit increased demand. Kalanick screams the gospel of unfettered market forces, and yet his company is now caught manipulating that very market, like the sort of Red Soviet bogeyman you imagine haunting his cashmere-lined dreams.
Shocking.

The Republicans Have No Health Care Plan

The Republican Health-Care Plan Is Almost Here, and Always Will Be
It would be nice if, like Chait, reporters would demonstrate more than 24-hour memories of the last five years.  How many times have we heard about the latest vaporware plan from Republicans that was just around the corner?  How many times does Lucy have to pull away the football?  

It's understandable though. There are many vitally important stories to cover, like Forkgate and MarciaKramerHatchetPiece-gate.
Lots of people treat the Republican Party's inability to unify around an alternative health-care plan, four years after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, as some kind of homework assignment they keep procrastinating on. But the problem isn't that Cantor and Boehner and Ryan would rather lay around on the sofa drinking beer and playing video games than write their health-care plan already. 
It's that there's no plan out there that is both ideologically acceptable to conservatives and politically defensible. Carping from the sidelines is a great strategy for Republicans because status quo bias is extremely powerful. It lets them highlight the downside of every trade-off without owning any downside of their own. They can vaguely promise to solve any problem with the status quo ante without exposing themselves to the risk any real reform entails. Republicans can exploit the disruption of the transition to Obamacare unencumbered by the reality that their own plans are even more disruptive. 
Now, for this method to work, you need to pretend to have a plan of your own somewhere. Cathy McMorris-Rogers's response to the State of the Union address heavily emphasized the message that Republicans were definitely, positively going to unveil their own health-care plan. "We have solutions to help you take home more of your pay, through lower taxes, cheaper energy costs and affordable health care," she promised. "No, we shouldn't go back to the things — the way things were, but this law is not working. Republicans believe health-care choices should be yours, not the government's, and that whether you're a boy with Down syndrome or a woman with breast cancer, you can find coverage and a doctor who will treat you." Time noted that "the repeal and replace message is already working."
Our "liberal" media corporations repeatedly allow themselves to be used by Republicans to disseminate disinformation. It's endemic, and its a problem.

Taxes And Criminal Laws Are For The Little People

The allegations were particularly stunning in the face of the budget cuts and deficits that the United States faces, lawmakers said. The report casts the Justice Department as a hapless enforcer that has dragged its feet in getting Credit Suisse to turn over the names of some 22,000 U.S. customers. Lawmakers have accused the bank of helping wealthy Americans avoid paying taxes on as much as $12 billion in assets held at the institution. Prosecutors have been aware of the misconduct at Credit Suisse for at least four years, in which time they have indicted seven bankers and launched a probe of the institution, according to the report. But no one has stood trial, and the bank has not been held legally accountable, the report says. Justice spokeswoman Emily Pierce bristled at the report’s characterization of the department, pointing out that it has charged 73 account holders and 35 bankers and advisers with offshore tax evasion offenses since 2009. “We have acknowledged that as many as 14 Swiss financial institutions are currently under investigation, and we won’t hesitate to indict if and when circumstances merit,” Pierce said. Prosecutors have been hampered by the Swiss government, which has prevented banks from handing over information after its largest bank, UBS, turned over 4,700 accounts in 2009. Justice has yielded 238 names of Credit Suisse customers through treaty requests.
Eric Holder has been an abysmal Attorney General and the Justice Department in general one of the low lights of the Obama administration.  That aside, it's a travesty that the US allows these tax havens to call the shots, and Holder is only part of the problem.  The bigger issue is a government that is largely captured by wealthy interests, and serves them.
The allegations were particularly stunning in the face of the budget cuts and deficits that the United States faces, lawmakers said. The report casts the Justice Department as a hapless enforcer that has dragged its feet in getting Credit Suisse to turn over the names of some 22,000 U.S. customers. Lawmakers have accused the bank of helping wealthy Americans avoid paying taxes on as much as $12 billion in assets held at the institution. Prosecutors have been aware of the misconduct at Credit Suisse for at least four years, in which time they have indicted seven bankers and launched a probe of the institution, according to the report. But no one has stood trial, and the bank has not been held legally accountable, the report says. Justice spokeswoman Emily Pierce bristled at the report’s characterization of the department, pointing out that it has charged 73 account holders and 35 bankers and advisers with offshore tax evasion offenses since 2009. “We have acknowledged that as many as 14 Swiss financial institutions are currently under investigation, and we won’t hesitate to indict if and when circumstances merit,” Pierce said. Prosecutors have been hampered by the Swiss government, which has prevented banks from handing over information after its largest bank, UBS, turned over 4,700 accounts in 2009. Justice has yielded 238 names of Credit Suisse customers through treaty requests.
Nothing will change while the guilty remain hidden, protected and unprosecuted.  We publicly shame "johns" who patronize prostitutes (and the sex workers as well), but large scale tax evaders get the velvet rope treatment.

Childhood Obesity Down Sharply, But Why?

Declining obesity rates in toddlers is excellent news and I hope the beginning of a trend:
Federal health authorities on Tuesday reported a 43 percent drop in theobesity rate among 2- to 5-year-old children over the past decade, the first broad decline in an epidemic that often leads to lifelong struggles with weight and higher risks for cancer, heart disease and stroke.
But why?  The Times lists several different theories, from less sugary beverage consumption to greater breastfeeding to changes in federally funded nutrition programs to Michelle Obama's efforts.  Tucked down at the bottom of the list is this:
New York City under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg also made a major push to combat obesity. The city told restaurants to stop using artificial trans fats in cooking and required chain restaurants to display calorie information on their menus.
I look forward to a few more years of data, but I suspect that moving away from trans-fats and HFCS in our food supply is going to have a long term positive effect on public health.  And this data may be the first indication.

I'm not a scientist, and I've certainly been wrong before.  But that's my intuition.
 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New York City's Billionaire Owned Vanity Press

Donald Trump's Son-in-Law's Newspaper Just Happens to Defend Trump With Every Ounce of Its Being
Well, thank god we have these bastions of journalistic integrity to speak truth to power. Right?

Quick, get us more updates on Forkgate and MarciaKramerHatchetPiece-gate!
To borrow a phrase from the Observer, though, "questions loom." The paper admits that the first reporter assigned to the story backed out after getting "spooked." As such, Michael Craig, whose sole byline adorns the piece, told Buzzfeed that Observer editor-in-chief Ken Kurson, a former Republican strategist and longtime friend of the Kushner family, contributed reporting. Last year, Trump, made the paper's list of "The Most Influential New Yorkers of the Past 25 Years." His daughter Ivanka, who is publisher Jared Kushner's wife, along with various other Friends of Kushner, rounded out the accompanying "Next 25: Rising Stars" list.
A lengthy hit piece on Eric Schneiderman, to go along with the daily hit pieces on deBlasio, Melissa Mark-Viverito, and various and sundry other progressive pols.  These papers are not neutral, disinterested parties.

Awesome Quarry Photos

© 2014 Kirsten Hoving. All Rights Reserved.

It could be because I grew up in a place where it was impossible to find a rock bigger than your fist.  It could be because of my infatuation with large scale construction sites.  Or it could be the feeling ancient timelessness of abandoned quarry sites.

Whatever the reason for it, I love these pictures.

Zombie Lies: Simpler Taxes

Bullshit
Atrios is absolutely correct, and yet the press keeps repeating this false statement over and over and over again.
One of the zombie notions out there which the press plays along with is that "complexity" in our tax system is largely due to the existence of tax brackets.  
Nobody will spend one second less thinking about their taxes if there are fewer tax brackets. Getting rid of tax brackets does not make the system "dramatically simpler."
It's a nonsense justification.  Even if you're a Luddite using tax tables instead of online preparation, there is still absolutely zero extra math involved for the taxpayer.  If it were up to me we'd have a much more stratified system with the top income brackets subdivided into many more, with increasing marginal rates.  And it wouldn't be any more complex.  What that would do, and what proponents of the "simplification" actually hate, is distribute tax burdens more fairly up the income scale.

Corporate Cronyism Fuels Rise of the 1%

Why So Little Media Coverage of How the Rich Are Becoming Richer and the Middle Class Wages are Being Squeezed?
Oddly enough, not a popular topic among our billionaire owned media properties. Too busy covering Forkgate.  Nevertheless, the good folks at CEPR have tried to shed a little light on the subject of executive pay and the cronyism that has driven the astronomical increase in CEO compensation.
The rise in U.S. income inequality in recent decades is largely due to massive wealth accumulating at the top of the income scale. The press and popular culture treat this phenomenon almost as if natural forces were guiding it — an invisible hand dealing out different shares to different people. But the hands doing the dealing are in fact quite visible. They belong to the directors of the boards of the major companies in the U.S. and around the globe. One key source of wealth at the very top is the pay of the executives of our largest companies. That pay is approved by corporate directors, who are themselves paid for their service. Many of those directors are also executives at other companies, meaning they sit on both sides of the arrangement….. The system operates largely in the open, with corporate records filed publicly for shareholders to view. But there is little practical transparency around the issue. Based on research conducted by [Dean] Baker's CEPR, which combed through Securities and Exchange Commission filings, HuffPost has built the first-ever interactive database of every director of every company in the Fortune 100.
Carefully laundered through outside consultants and legal vetting, at least at the big corps.

Ukraine: It's Complicated

Everyone looking for a proxy side to support or oppose in the Ukraine political dynamic will be disappointed. Ukraine politics go by their own rules. Today’s neoliberal ultranationalist could be tomorrow’s Kremlin ally, and visa-versa. Just look at what happened to the Orange Revolution—nothing. To wit: a) One Orange Revolution leader, Yulia Tymoshenko, wound up turning against her partner Viktor Yushchenko and allying with Yanukovych to strip Yushchenko of presidential powers; later, Tymoshenko allied with the Kremlin against Yushchenko; now she’s free from jail and the presumptive leader of the anti-Yanukovych forces. b) The other Orange leader—the pro-EU, anti-Kremlin Viktor Yushchenko—wound up allying with pro-Kremlin Yanukovych to jail Yulia Tymoshenko. c) John McCain has been the big driving force for regime change against Yanukovych, but McCain’s 2008 campaign chief’s lobby firm, Davis Manafort, managed Yanukovych’s political campaigns and his lobbying efforts in the US. d) Anthony Podesta, brother of President Obama’s senior advisor John Podesta, is another Yanukovych lobbyist; John Podesta was the chief of Obama’s 2008 transition team.
It is wise to be circumspect in such situations.

NB: I don't take Mark Ames as the definitive read on the situation, but it is a useful perspective.
Everyone looking for a proxy side to support or oppose in the Ukraine political dynamic will be disappointed. Ukraine politics go by their own rules. Today’s neoliberal ultranationalist could be tomorrow’s Kremlin ally, and visa-versa. Just look at what happened to the Orange Revolution—nothing. To wit: 
a) One Orange Revolution leader, Yulia Tymoshenko, wound up turning against her partner Viktor Yushchenko and allying with Yanukovych to strip Yushchenko of presidential powers; later, Tymoshenko allied with the Kremlin against Yushchenko; now she’s free from jail and the presumptive leader of the anti-Yanukovych forces. 
b) The other Orange leader—the pro-EU, anti-Kremlin Viktor Yushchenko—wound up allying with pro-Kremlin Yanukovych to jail Yulia Tymoshenko. 
c) John McCain has been the big driving force for regime change against Yanukovych, but McCain’s 2008 campaign chief’s lobby firm, Davis Manafort, managed Yanukovych’s political campaigns and his lobbying efforts in the US. 
d) Anthony Podesta, brother of President Obama’s senior advisor John Podesta, is another Yanukovych lobbyist; John Podesta was the chief of Obama’s 2008 transition team.
I'm just sick of the reflexive "we need to act" crowd, who almost universally don't understand at any adult level the complex dynamics of the situation. 

Bitcoin: A Libertarian Banking Paradise!

The most prominent Bitcoin exchange appeared to be on the verge of collapse late Monday, raising questions about the future of a volatile marketplace. On Monday night, a number of leading Bitcoin companies jointly announced that Mt. Gox, the largest exchange for most of Bitcoin’s existence, was planning to file for bankruptcy after months of technological problems and what appeared to have been a major theft. A document circulating widely in the Bitcoin world said the company had lost 744,000 Bitcoins in a theft that had gone unnoticed for years. That would be about 6 percent of the 12.4 million Bitcoins in circulation.
A fool and his Bitcoin are soon parted
Ingenious!

Monday, February 24, 2014

RIP Vincent Favorito, Attorney, Carroll Gardens Historian, Landmarking Proponent, and former CGNA Board Member

Sad News: The Passing Of Vince Favorito, Long Time Carroll Gardener And Neighborhood Historian
We were sorry to lose Vincent Favorito and his tireless preservation efforts when he departed for suburbia a few years back.  Now we've lost him altogether to the great hereafter.  You'll be missed, Vince. Godspeed.
This morning, I received the sad news that Vince Favorito, a long time Carroll Gardens resident, passed away on Sunday. Many will remember Vince, who lived in the community for 70 years.  He was a passionate historian of the neighborhood and told delightful anecdotes about growing up in South Brooklyn.  In 2011, he sold his house on Clinton Street and moved to the suburbs with his wife Angela to be closer to their children.
As a relative newcomer to this neck of the woods (a mere ten years under my belt) I have greatly appreciated the war stories from old timers of various stripes.  The old school Italians, the early "liberals" to colonize the neighborhood, old political hands.  The background is priceless.  I'm glad I got to know Vince and hear some of his experiences while he was with us.  More from Katia:
The wake will be at the FG Guido Funeral Home, 440 Clinton St, corner of Carroll Street on Wednesday from 2-5 and 7-9; details are at http://www.guidofuneralhomes.com

The funeral will be 11:45 AM Thursday at Sacred Heart and St. Stephens Church, corner of Hicks and Summit streets, Brooklyn, NY
Subway and driving directions are here.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in the name of Vincent Favorito to St. Jude's Children's Hospital

RIP Harold Ramis

Remembering Harold Ramis' Best Moments
69 is too young.  Harold Ramis was responsible for some of my favorite comedies, and far too many movie quotes that are endlessly recycled among my college buddies.
Early Monday morning, filmmaker Harold Ramis died at the age of 69. Ramis wrote or directed some of the most beloved and influential comedies of the past three decades—Ghostbusters, Caddyshack, Animal House, Groundhog's Day, National Lampoon's Vacation, Back to School, Meatballs, Stripes, and Analyze This.
We'll miss you Egon.

The Truth About Heritage

Jim DeMint Hasn't Destroyed Heritage's Intellectual Integrity
The Heritage Foundation has always been a shill operation.  Sadly, a shill operation that has been allowed over the years to borrow the credibility of the NYT Op-Ed page, among others, to launder their bullshit to a public that sees "think tank" or "research institution" and assumes that the well regarded paper they are holding wouldn't print, well, bullshit.
"The truth is that the pre-DeMint Heritage was Hack Central, producing garbage posing as research. It promoted the death tax scam; it proclaimed that the Ryan plan would push the unemployment rate down to 2.8 percent, then tried to send that "result" down the memory hole. Heritage economists have promoted the fallacy that government spending can't increase demand. And so on. So Heritage never was a "think tank" in the sense that actual thought or research took place there. It just played one on TV."
We're actually better off for DeMint's aggressive, ham-fisted approach.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

But We Have No Money For Infrastructure

Iraq and Afghanistan will cost Americans $4 to $6 TRILLION, by @DavidOAtkins
So much opportunity to build a better country after 9/11, flushed down the toilet by Bush and Cheney. And forget about the mental and emotional toll of all those men and women damaged by war.

The U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will cost taxpayers $4 trillion to $6 trillion, taking into account the medical care of wounded veterans and expensive repairs to a force depleted by more than a decade of fighting, according to a new study by a Harvard researcher. Washington increased military benefits in late 2001 as the nation went to war, seeking to quickly bolster its talent pool and expand its ranks. Those decisions and the protracted nation-building efforts launched in both countries will generate expenses for years to come, Linda J. Bilmes, a public policy professor, wrote in the report that was released Thursday. "As a consequence of these wartime spending choices, the United States will face constraints in funding investments in personnel and diplomacy, research and development and new military initiatives," the report says. "The legacy of decisions taken during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will dominate future federal budgets for decades to come." Bilmes said the United States has spent almost $2 trillion already for the military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Those costs, she said, are only a fraction of the ultimate price tag. The biggest ongoing expense will be providing medical care and disability benefits to veterans of the two conflicts. "Historically, the bill for these costs has come due many decades later," the report says, noting that the peak disbursement of disability payments for America's warriors in the last century came decades after the conflicts ended. "Payments to Vietnam and first Gulf War veterans are still climbing." "

And don't forget the insistence that none of it be paid for . . . instead, we had to give the rich huge tax cuts at the same time we were running up these monster expenditures.  The Republican Party is the party of fiscal profligacy, and the most profligate presidents of all time were George W. Bush and Saint Ronnie Reagan.

It really is a damned shame what they did to this country.  And an even bigger shame that so many people still don't appreciate the wholesale destruction they left in their wake: fiscal, physical, and emotional.

Krugman > (Geithner + Bernanke)

What Did I Know and When Did I Know It?
I'll humbly point out that I, a total outsider with a mere bachelors degree in Economics, also had a better read than Geithner, Summers, and Bernanke.  But then, nobody is paying me to paint a rosy picture.

The big takeaway from the 2008 Fed transcripts is that for the most part Fed officials other than Janet Yellen and Eric Rosengren failed to appreciate the danger the economy was in — that many were preoccupied with the supposed threat of inflation even as a once-in-three-generations crisis in demand was building. So, how excusable was this lack of perceptiveness? Well, we all know the simple test of whether officials can be forgiven for getting things wrong: If you yourself also got it wrong, then there is no blame — who could have known? If you got it right, then they were idiots. OK, maybe that's not such a good criterion. And I honestly wasn't going to go through my own contemporary writings. But Brad DeLong has already done the homework, and if I am not for myself, who will be for me? So here we go. On January 7, 2008, I was already sure that we were facing something nasty:

Click through for the bigger picture.  Some of us had it very right.  The guys who get paid the big bucks had it spectacularly wrong . . . are as usual, were rewarded for it.

What's Happening In Ukraine

As Ukraine's President Flees in Overthrow, Lessons for Kyiv from the Arab Upheavals
A better backgrounder on the situation in Ukraine than you will see in most news media. Note the ethno-linguistic map that helps explain some of division.
The crisis in the Ukraine was provoked last fall when Yanukovych reconsidered earlier moves toward integration with Europe. He is from the east of the country, which has many ethnic Russians and which is economically, culturally and historically deeply entwined with Russia. The offer by Russian President Vladimir Putin of $15 billion in aid helped to make Yanukovych's mind up. In my view US aggressiveness in the past 23 years is part of the problem here. The US insisted on expanding NATO by absorbing former Warsaw Pact members and humiliating Russia. The rise of Putin is in part a reaction against that humiliation. Russia is reasserting itself as a great power, carving out spheres of influence in the old 19th century way. Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Syria are in those spheres of influence. In the 19th century, wars often were caused by one country not respecting another's proclaimed spheres of influence. Both liberal and right wing youth in the west of Ukraine as well as in the southern capital of Kyiv (Kiev) were upset by the turn away from Europe. They hope for Ukraine to become a member of the European Union and entertain hopes that this step would improve their economic prospects. (Given the sad economic state of Spain, Greece and other EU members, including persistent unemployment of a quarter or more of the youth, this conviction is a little difficult to understand). The more extreme nationalists are reacting against what they see as Russian dominance (a mirror image of right wing Greek politics, which is anti-liberal and anti-EU).
It's messy.  And it is not as simple as "protesters are good".  A lot of the protestors are right-wing fascist goons.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

That Urgent iOS Security Update? Probably Thanks To NSA

★ On the Timing of iOS's SSL Vulnerability and Apple's 'Addition' to the NSA's PRISM Program
These guys (NSA) are out of control and need to be reined in.  They are weakening everyone's security so that they can spy on all of us, all of the time.
Jeffrey Grossman, on Twitter: I have confirmed that the SSL vulnerability was introduced in iOS 6.0. It is not present in 5.1.1 and is in 6.0. iOS 6.0 shipped on 24 September 2012. 
According to slide 6 in the leaked PowerPoint deck on NSA's PRISM program, Apple was "added" in October 2012. These three facts prove nothing; it's purely circumstantial. But the shoe fits. Sure would be interesting to know who added that spurious line of code to the file. Conspiratorially, one could suppose the NSA planted the bug, through an employee mole, perhaps. Innocuously, the Occam's Razor explanation would be that this was an inadvertent error on the part of an Apple engineer. It looks like the sort of bug that could result from a merge gone bad, duplicating the goto fail; line. Once in place, the NSA wouldn't even have needed to find the bug by manually reading the source code. All they would need are automated tests using spoofed certificates that they run against each new release of every OS. Apple releases iOS, the NSA's automated spoofed certificate testing finds the vulnerability, and boom, Apple gets "added" to PRISM. Or, maybe nothing, and this is all a coincidence. 
I see five levels of paranoia: 
1 - Nothing. The NSA was not aware of this vulnerability. 
2 - The NSA knew about it, but never exploited it. 
3 - The NSA knew about it, and exploited it. 
4 - NSA itself planted it. 
5 - Apple, complicit with the NSA, added it. 
Me, I'll go as far as #3. In fact, I think that's actually the optimistic scenario — because we know from the PRISM slides that the NSA claims some ability to do what this vulnerability would allow. So if this bug, now closed, is not what the NSA was exploiting, it means there might exist some other vulnerability that remains open.
I'd say 3 at the least - more likely 4.

What Actual Journalism Looks Like: Brooklyn Eagle Reports Details of LICH Settlement

Would you look at that!  A news organization reports on a story of genuine interest to its readership, and includes useful details.  The Brooklyn Eagle has followed the LICH story for years and wrote an informative story about what transpired this week after the last year of wrangling and many months of litigation.  I hope some of our other news organizations will emulate the Eagle's example over Politico and Buzzworthy.

While the agreement does not guarantee that LICH will continue to operate as a hospital, its structure insures that bidders proposing a hospital will jump to the top of the pack in a new RFP (Request for Proposals) process. The RFP could be issued as early as Thursday, lawyers said, assuming approval comes Monday.
[Click through for details of the agreement which follow the story.]
SUNY’s original RFP had been tilted to favor financial considerations, rather than prioritizing the health care needs of the community.
The agreement also gives the coalition that has been working to save the hospital a significant voice in determining which proposal wins the bid – a first in a state RFP.
Still, the deal comes with many uncertainties. If there are no suitable bids by May 22, LICH will close. Already, 241 nurses at LICH have received notices that they could be furloughed on April 10 if no buyer is found, and 1199 SEIU members have also been told of the possibility of layoffs.
Attorney Jim Walden, of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, representing six community groups, said the agreement represents the community's “best chance to keep a hospital at LICH.”  Walden added afterwards that he doubted that no hospital proposals would be offered, “given the fact that of the current proposals, there are already one hospital, and one near-hospital.”
All of the parties to the agreement -- including SUNY, the state Department of Health, New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), 1199 SEIU and the community groups – gave up something in the settlement, Walden told state Supreme Court Justice Johnny Lee Baynes.
LICH supporters are dropping three separate legal proceedings against SUNY as part of the deal, two overseen by Justice Baynes and one by state Supreme Court Justice Carolyn Demarest. The Demarest proceedings, currently on hold, have raised questions about the legitimacy of SUNY's ownership of LICH.
“Once the cloud of litigation is removed from the equation, we believe the prices will only go up, not down,” Walden said.
Justice Baynes, who has been presiding over the case for a year, wanted to make it perfectly clear that LICH supporters, including unions, the community and elected representatives, understood there was no guarantee. “If no operator comes in by May 22, if you do not have a bonafide purchaser by May 22, LICH is going to close. . . . I want people to go into this with their eyes wide open,” he said.
He also said that his work on this case was not over. “I have retained jurisdiction in the case” to insure that “everyone is treated with honor and dignity.”
Jeff Strabone, spokesperson for the Cobble Hill Association, echoed the sentiment that the settlement was the best chance to keep a hospital at LICH. “The previous process favored real estate,” he said. “The new one will favor hospital operators. If respondents want to be competitive, they best propose a hospital if they want a high score.”
He added, “As a process, it is unprecedented that a state-issued RFP is withdrawn, and a new one that the community helped write replaces it. I hope other community groups refer to this in the future when they need empowerment.”
Is the situation perfect?  No.  Is it better than it was?  Hell yes.  Absent the tireless efforts of then-Public Advocate Bill deBlasio along with labor, the doctors, Jim Walden and therest of the lawyers, and the coalition of community groups LICH would have been closed and boarded up last year, waiting for demolition crews.

I don't think anyone has illusions that we will get everything we want, but we will have a hospital - we will have accessible healthcare in our community.  And that's something we can all celebrate.  We do need to be vigilant.  And we will be.  But for an hour or two let's enjoy the fact that we worked together and made a difference.

NYC Political Press: Riddled With Petulant Tabloid Crap Artists

Now imagine those faces are all Ed Henry.
The state of political journalism in our city is a sickening travesty.  The Mayor held a press conference yesterday (at which I proudly represented the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association) to discuss the historic LICH settlement, but all the assembled mob wanted to talk about was Marcia Kramer's hatchet piece.  A sad day for journalism. 

Gothamist commenter Brian Van Nieuwenhoven summed up the situation well:
To an extent, the statement the mayor gave answers the questions about the incident that the reporters intended to ask.
So what the reporters are enraged about is the fact that the mayor did not submit himself to a public interrogation or allocution. 
Is there anyone in the general public that feels like there was something here that wasn't answered? All that really needs to be seen from here is whether or not the NYPD motorcades slow down. 
Like with the deacon and the snow day, there just isn't much of a story here, and hardly a problem if the rest of the city is being run efficiently and competently. I thought the LICH news was very good news, and it's sad to see the press corps deliberately bury that story for this one.
Is this what it's going to be?  All TMZ, all the time for the next four years?  New York deserves better than we're getting from our billionaire-owned vanity papers.

Now, if you're a journalist, and you read this blog: no one loves good journalism more than I do.  I read an unhealthy amount of news, commentary, analysis, non-fiction, you name it.  There is some amazing work being done out there, and I love and respect the awesome, hardworking journalists who craft the brilliant, insightful material that I love to read.  Unfortunately, your gems are suspended in a surging tide of crap.  And I blame your employers more than anyone else for the garbage your colleagues churn out.

Weekend Subway Service Advisories

Weekend work affecting knitting, 13 subway lines
The local - not too shabby:

From 11:15 p.m. Friday, February 21, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, February 24, Coney Island-bound F trains are rerouted on the M line from Roosevelt Av to 47-50 Sts Rock Ctr due to station work at Lexington Av-53 St for Second Avenue Subway construction.
From 12:15 a.m. Saturday, February 22, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, February 24, Jamaica Center-bound F trains skip 75 Av, Van Wyck Blvd, and Sutphin Blvd due to signal modernization at Forest Hills-71 Avenue and Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, February 21, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, February 24, Coney Island-bound F trains skip 4 Av-9 St, 15 St-Prospect Park, and Fort Hamilton Pkwy due to signal work at Church Av. For service to these stations take a Coney Island-bound F train to 7 Av or Church Av and transfer to a Queens-bound F or G train. From these stations, take a Queens-bound F or G to 7 Av or Smith-9 Sts and transfer to a Coney Island-bound F.
From 12:30 a.m. Saturday, February 22, to 5:00 a.m. Monday, February 24, Jamaica Center-bound F trains run local from 21 St-Queensbridge to Roosevelt Av due to signal modernization at Forest Hills-71 Avenue and Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike.
From 11:45 p.m. Friday, February 21 to 5:00 a.m. Monday, February 24, Church Av-bound G trains skip 4 Av-9 St, 15 St-Prospect Park, and Fort Hamilton Pkwy due to signal work at Church Av.

And the big picture:



Friday, February 21, 2014

Latest Pics From Oft-delayed, Always Stunning East Side Access Project


Click image for larger, clearer version.  Click link below for more pics.
The scale is like something out of an Indiana Jones movie.  The yellow cladding is a waterproofing geotextile that will soon be covered over itself as the cavern is turned into a terminal.
The titanic yellow facility—its walls secured behind waterproofing geotextiles that will, of course, eventually be covered over altogether, meaning that this surreal yellow scene is just a temporary state—is on the Grand Central side of the project, and will be part of a huge new underground terminal increasing access for the Long Island Railroad. It is also just one of the many other, ongoing workstunneling away beneath the surface of the city.

Typos courtesy of my iPhone

Marijuana Legalization and Taxation: An Opportunity for New York

Governor Cuomo and the legislature should pay close attention to the initial results in Colorado and Washington:
In the budget proposal that Mr. Hickenlooper released Wednesday, his office said the state could collect about $134 million in taxes from recreational and medical marijuana for the fiscal year beginning in July. He proposed to spend $99 million on programs including substance-abuse treatment, preventing marijuana use by children and teenagers, public health and law enforcement.“This package represents a strong yet cautious first step toward ensuring a safe and responsible regulatory environment,” Mr. Hickenlooper wrote in the proposal.In Washington, where retail sales of marijuana are expected to begin in June, budget forecasters estimated Wednesday that marijuana could bring the state nearly $190 million in taxes for the four years beginning in the middle of 2015. That money would go to a variety of health and substance-abuse programs, and the state’s general fund.“Every governor and legislator in the country will be like, ‘Hey, check out these numbers,’ ” said Reuven Carlyle, a Democratic state lawmaker from Seattle who is chairman of the House Finance Committee.For marijuana advocates, taxes were one of the major selling points of legalization. They have said that expanding the market for the federally prohibited plant could give states money for school construction, health care, substance-abuse programs and public health. Colorado’s legalization measure said $40 million in tax revenue would go toward school construction, and in November, voters across this otherwise tax-averse state overwhelmingly approved 25 percent taxes on recreational marijuana.
There are many good reasons to support legalization.  I've mentioned some of them in the past: better allocation of resources, ending discriminatory enforcement, eliminating an unwarranted intrusion into people's privacy, eliminating incentives for criminals, elimination of violence that goes hand in hand with trafficking.

But there's also the dollars and cents issue.  There's an enormous black market out there to be brought out of the underground and added to the tax base.  There is no shortage of worthy projects for that money.

deBlasio Speeding? Yet Another Marcia Kramer Hit Piece

Marcia Kramer, New York City's Worst Reporter (TM) has been at it again.  I will not link to her latest hatchet job, this time on the new Mayor.  You can take a gander at some criticism of her earlier work here.  Just go down the list and pick a few articles and read.

I tend to believe that the Mayor's motorcade and his NYPD drivers and escorts ought to obey the standard traffic laws absent real exigent circumstances.  But that's not what this story was about.  The Mayor's security detail is doing exactly the same sort of thing the Mayor's security detail has been doing for the last 20 years.

What makes this a "story", in the eyes of a reporter who has consistently and repeatedly run hit pieces on traffic calming, pedestrian safety improvements and bike lanes in New York City, is that this Mayor has proposed new policies to make the streets safer.

If there is something to be honestly embarrassed about in this story, it's Marcia Kramer's disgraceful war on pedestrian safety.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

LICH Settlement!

Apparently a deal was reached today, to be presented to the judge tomorrow:
Officials and community members fighting over the future of Long Island College Hospital have reached a deal, though its details are being kept under wraps for now.
The settlement was reached Thursday between SUNY Downstate, which runs the Cobble Hill hospital, and community groups that sued to keep the facility operational.
Sources say that according to the settlement, the bidding process will start fresh, and only proposals with "a major health care component" will be considered.
Sources also say that representatives from the community will play an active role in the selection process.
Even though both sides still have to sign off on the deal, the plaintiffs are claiming a victory, adding that the real winners are the people of Brooklyn.
"I think that you'll see at the end of the day we had certain core principals that were critical to us. And SUNY was generous enough to accommodate those core principals," said Plaintiffs Attorney Jim Walden.
"The main thing from the very beginning that the community has wanted, the unions have wanted, the physicians have wanted - is a full service hospital," said Susan Shanahan, a LICH registered nurse.
What we as community groups want, of course, is a hospital to support our neighborhoods.  I'm proud that CGNA joined up with our neighbors in the Cobble Hill Association and other civics and then-Public Advocate deBlasio, among others, to help see this through.

LICH Saga: Close To A Deal?

LICH Agreement "Within a Whisper"
What a roller coaster this has been.  Could we be close to an acceptable settlement?
As we noted earlier, the contempt hearing concerning SUNY's attempts to close Long Island College Hospital, which has been postponed several times in order to allow the parties time to reach a settlement, was not held this morning, as previously scheduled. The Eagle quotes attorney Jim Walden, who represents the community groups opposing the closure of LICH, as saying the parties are "within a whisper" of an agreement. Walden has been adamant in his contention that LICH must remain a full service hospital, in accordance with his clients' demands.
I hope so.

Junior's On Sale: Brooklyn Real Estate Takes The Cake

Cheesecake, that is.  That's got to be one sweet deal.  Junior's coming back as a tenant would be the cherry on top. (I'll show myself out)
Junior’s plans to sell its downtown home, clearing the way for a new condo building with a really sweet perk — easy access to top-flight desserts.The iconic eatery is expected to move out of its 17,000-square-foot flagship following the sale, but believes it can negotiate a deal to return as a tenant and open a new restaurant on the ground floor.The Rosen family, owner of the 64-year-old business, fended off suitors for the two-story building for years before finally capitulating to the sweet temptations of Brooklyn’s whipped-up real estate market.
Downtown has already changed so much.  Another decade and you'll hardly recognize the skyline.