New York City
New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg, rightly winning praise from civil libertarians over his principled position on the "Ground Zero Mosque," blows it bigtime with Native Americans—weighing in against their right to tax-free tobacco sales on their reservations in blatantly racist terms. New York state Indian nations held a rally at City Hall on Aug. 23 to demand an apology, which your trusty blogger covered for the weekly Indian Country Today. Excerpts:
From the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Aug. 19:
CAIR: Park51 Opponents Linked to Admirer of Terror Group Founder
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said today that leaders of the main hate group opposing the planned Park51 Islamic community center in Manhattan are partners with an individual who says he is an admirer of the founder of two terrorist organizations.
New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Aug. 9 approved a bus advertisement protesting the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque" (which, as we have pointed out, is neither at Ground Zero nor a mosque). AP writes that the ads depict "a plane flying toward the World Trade Center's towers as they burn along with a rendering of the proposed mosque near Ground Zero." But we question whether the ad's depiction of the "proposed mosque" (sic) is accurate. An image of the ad at MSNBC shows a tall building inlaid with a giant star-and-crescent, whereas a rendering of the proposed Cordoba House (actually an ecumenical community center, now dubbed Park51 for its address on Park Place) on the progressive Jewish website Tikkun Olam shows it without the star and crescent. Poking around on the site of the Cordoba Initiative, the group behind the project, we were unable to find a depiction. The ad's caption reads "WTC Mega Mosque—Why There?" The ad was produced by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, whose website banner (in vivid contrast to pacifistic imagery at the Cordoba Initiative site) features an image of a charging soldier with an assault rifle below an American flag.
A panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on June 9 ruled that New York City can withhold documents related to the arrest of 1,800 protesters during the 2004 Republican National Convention. The appeals court held that the lower court had abused its discretion in ordering the release of the documents. The city alleged that the documents were not discoverable due to law enforcement privilege.
New York City reached a settlement June 10 with the 10,000 rescue and cleanup workers who became sick or injured from responding to the 9-11 attacks. The agreement follows two failed settlement attempts between the parties. The city's insurer, WTC Captive Insurance Company, has agreed to pay the plaintiffs $712.5 million, up from its previous offers of $575 million and $657.5 million. Also, the plaintiffs' lawyers will reduce their legal fees from 33.33% to a maximum of 25%, giving their clients an extra $50 million.
New York City's kneejerk jingos, already aghast that the hubristic "Freedom Tower" name has been dropped from the new skyscraper going up at Ground Zero, have got a new cause to gripe about. From Fox News, May 14:
Plan to Build Mosque Near Ground Zero Riles Families of 9/11 Victims
Outraged family members and community groups are accusing a Muslim group of trying to rewrite history with its plans to build a 13-story mosque and cultural center just two blocks from Ground Zero, where Islamic extremists flew two planes into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
From the Gothamist, April 28:
Community Activist Harry Wieder Killed by Taxi
Harry Wieder, an LGBT rights, transportation, and disabilities advocate, was run down and killed by a taxi last night in the LES [Lower East Side]. Weider, 57, described himself on his Facebook page as a "disabled, gay, Jewish, leftist, middle aged dwarf who ambulates with crutches." He was crossing Essex Street after leaving a Community Board 3 monthly meeting at P.S. 20 when he was struck by the cab. Many colleagues witnessed the accident and accompanied him to Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan have posted two videos since the attempted Times Square car-bomb attack of May 1. In one, a Taliban spokesman claims the botched New York attack. In the second, alleged to have been filmed April 4, TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud promises attacks inside the US within a month. Mehsud had been believed killed in a drone attack back in January. New York police dismiss the Taliban claim, and are looking for a middle-aged white man caught on videotape near where the SUV loaded with propane, fireworks, fertilizer and timing devices was left. (CSM, ABC, May 3)