Man on the Spot #26: Life expectancy, immigration and Wall Street’s watchdogs

Immigrants at Castle Garden, New York City, 1866. Wood engraving in "Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper", 20 January 1866, vol. 21, p. 280-281. Wikipedia Commons image

Immigrants at Castle Garden, New York City, 1866. Wood engraving in “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper”, 20 January 1866, vol. 21, p. 280-281. Wikipedia Commons image

Life Expectancy of New Yorkers Rises With Influx of Immigrants, Study Finds

A stunning increase in the life expectancy of New Yorkers over the past 20 years, compared with the rest of the country, has been driven by sharp declines in deaths from AIDS, homicide, smoking-related illnesses and, in a surprising twist, an increase in the numbers of immigrants, a new study has found.

Immigration Remakes and Sustains New York, Report Finds
Published: December 18, 2013 New York Times

Now numbering about 3.1 million — a record high — the city’s immigrant population, about 37 percent of the overall population of 8.2 million New Yorkers, is more kaleidoscopic than ever, in large part a result of the passage of 1965 immigration legislation that allowed more people to come from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America. In a city that once had a population of predominantly European origin, there is now no dominant racial, ethnic or nationality group.

Amid Steady Deportation, Fear and Worry Multiply Among Immigrants
Published: December 22, 2013

Administration officials say the deportation numbers — more than 368,000 this fiscal year — are driven by a congressional requirement that more than 30,000 immigrants be detained daily. They acknowledge that the lines are becoming harder to draw between high-priority violators and those with strong family ties.

Clinging to a Monster in a Desperate Gambit
‘The Beast’ by Óscar Martínez Details Immigrant Trek
Published: December 17, 2013

Cutting Back the N.S.A.’s Data Sweep
Published: December 19, 2013

Re “Obama Is Urged to Sharply Curb N.S.A. Data Mining” (front page, Dec. 19):

The notion that the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities can or will be curbed is wishful thinking. The idea that transparency can be imposed on its operations is delusional. This is a rogue agency that does what it does because it can (technologically, not legally).

Let’s suppose that the administration decides that it wants to curb the telephone metadata sweeps. How does it do this? Cut funding? How would it know that the operations are not being paid for surreptitiously from other programs, given that this is an agency that fosters a culture of secrecy regarding even its most mundane activities?

Disband the N.S.A.? Not likely. It has no doubt identified enough skeletons in the right closets (just as J. Edgar Hoover of the F.B.I. did) to shield itself from any political assault.

This genie is out of the bottle for keeps.
New York, Dec. 19, 2013

Free to Speak About Russia, but Now From a Safe Distance

Physically, Mr. Khodorkovsky, dressed in a dark blue suit and tie, looked healthy. Mentally, he said, he had always been an optimist. Besides, he added, Russian prisons today — while occasionally freezing, or having rotten food — are not in that physical respect the gulag of Soviet-era literature.

“I was trying to look at my situation as a challenge,” he said. “I was not torturing myself — yes, there were some days that were depressing, but basically I was not carrying them around inside me.”
“When I crossed the threshold of prison,” he added, “I understood this is for a long time. And then immediately quit smoking. If they are going to bury me, let them do it themselves, without my participation.”

U.S. Flouts Its Own Advice in Procuring Overseas Clothing
Published: December 22, 2013

The Obama administration, for example, has favored free-trade agreements to spur development in poor countries by cultivating low-skill, low-overhead jobs like those in the cut-and-sew industry. The removal of trade barriers has also driven prices down by making it easier for retailers to decamp from one country to the next in the hunt for cheap labor. Most economists say that these savings have directly benefited consumers, including institutional buyers like the American government. But free-trade zones often lack effective methods for ensuring compliance with local labor laws, and sometimes accelerate a race to the bottom in terms of wages.

01right-52Brooklyn’s Next Prosecutor Protests $286,000 Payment to Hynes Deputy
Published: December 16, 2013

Brushing aside the objections of the man who made him an electoral lame duck, Charles J. Hynes, the departing Brooklyn district attorney, announced on Monday that he would pay his retiring top deputy almost $286,000 in unused vacation pay, or almost $100,000 more than what a typical city employee could be entitled to.

For Artifacts From Closed Churches, an Afterlife on Staten Island
Published: December 16, 2013
There will soon be a rooftop swimming pool where the copper-domed bell towers of Mary Help of Christians once rose.

In the Shadow of Rising Towers, Laments of Lost Sunlight in New York
Published: December 19, 2013
On the Upper West Side, Ilonna Pederson greets a darkened apartment for the second winter after nearly 50 years there; her southern windows were bricked over a year ago to make way for a high-rise inches away.
And in a once-sunny pocket of the far West Village, many are finding themselves in the large penumbra cast by the newly built 150 Charles, which rises 15 stories and houses 91 residences selling for an average of $8.6 million.

Seeing a Need for Oversight of New York’s Lordly Towers
Published: December 22, 2013
This one unravels as a cascade of clunky curves descending toward ribbons billowing into canopies. The conceit is falling water. The effect: a heap of volumes, not liquid but stolid, chintzily embellished, clad in acres of eye-shadow-blue glass offset by a pox of tinted panes, like age spots. It’s anybody’s guess how the building got past the drawing board. It is now enmeshed in an anticorruption investigation, centered around a tax abatement that Albany legislators tucked into a real estate bill in January.

Stern Words for Wall Street’s Watchdogs, From a Judge
Published: December 16, 2013
Judge Rakoff is more direct in assessing the Justice Department’s principal reasons for failing to prosecute top executives. He acknowledges that it can be hard to prove criminal intent, particularly against people several levels removed from those who constructed and marketed the securities.
Judge Rakoff also has no patience with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s statement to Congress that some prosecutions should be approached with caution because they may “have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.”

Food Stamp Fraud, Rare but Troubling
Published: December 18, 2013

Although more than 80 percent of food stamps are spent at large grocery stores and retailers like Sam’s Club, the department focuses its investigation on smaller stores because that is where fraud is more likely to occur, he said. People could get from 10 cents to 60 cents for each government dollar they charged at the stores. Thirteen of the 16 people charged admitted the crime. The others face trial.

Group Seeks Special Label for Food: ‘Natural’
Published: December 19, 2013
The trade organization representing the nation’s largest food and beverage companies wants permission to label as “natural” products that contain genetically engineered ingredients like corn, soy, canola and sugar, according to a letter sent to the Food and Drug Administration.

Times Publisher Sets Out Plan for ‘Native’ Ads
Published: December 19, 2013
Native advertising, also known as branded content, is information provided by marketers that is designed to look more like the articles it appears alongside. It has led to controversy in the journalism industry because it blurs the line between editorial content and advertising. But it has also been viewed as a valuable new source of revenue for news organizations struggling to make up for the decline of print advertising.

Investors’ Story Left Out of Wall St. ‘Wolf’ Movie
The Martin Scorsese film about the Wolf — Jordan Belfort in real life, played by Leonardo DiCaprio — tells how Mr. Belfort swindled thousands of investors out of more than $100 million as head of a penny-stock boiler room in the 1990s.

Stumbling Toward the Next Crash
Published: December 18, 2013 30 Comments

LONDON — In early October 2008, three weeks after the Lehman Brothers collapse, I met in Paris with leaders of the countries in the euro zone. Oblivious to the global dimension of the financial crisis, they took the view that if there was fallout for Europe, America would be to blame — so it would be for America to fix. I was unable to convince them that half of the bundled subprime-mortgage securities that were about to blow up had landed in Europe and that euro-area banks were, in fact, more highly leveraged than America’s.

paul_krugman1OP-ED COLUMNIST
Why Inequality Matters
Published: December 15, 2013 1151 Comments

Rising inequality isn’t a new concern. Oliver Stone’s movie “Wall Street,” with its portrayal of a rising plutocracy insisting that greed is good, was released in 1987. But politicians, intimidated by cries of “class warfare,” have shied away from making a major issue out of the ever-growing gap between the rich and the rest.

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Our man on the spot XI – by SPE


Our man on the spot – by SPE

Translation by Nikki Carter

Where is the money?

(WNYC, Jane McClearey, “Raising Expectations and Raising Hell,” July 3, 2013)

The Walton family of Wal-Mart make up [believe it or not, I read it in the papers] 40% of the entire economic wealth of American workers not in the 1%.

McClearey says, “Globalization is not the problem.  Free speech and freedom of association are, with that, American workers can form unions again. In Germany there is not the degradation of the status of workers because 50% of corporate boards include representation of the work force.”

Photo of fracking courtesy of

Photo of fracking courtesy of

Fracking continued

Josh Fox, Gasland (HBO), interviewed on NPR, stated that the oil and gas industries have resorted to using retired military psych operatives in dealing with land owners in opposition to  fracking [bringing to well-heads oil locked in deep rock formations that are fractured by pressurized insertion of chemicals and water] as they would in any military counter-insurgency campaign.

There are for instance 5,000 well sites with volatile chemicals around the headwaters of the Colorado River and that has to be made to seem OK.

After Obama’s speech supporting his “energy independent” U.S. future method of extraction the EPA has basically “folded” and for instance when the oil and gas industry vehemently opposed an investigation into the whats and where for of fracking in Wyoming, the EPA stopped that investigation and one of the companies in pursuit of leases to drill provided the state the money to have its own “independent” of the EPA, inquiry into profitability and marketability, and good clean water [even if you can set it on fire].

International corporations in oil and gas subsidiaries have leased lands to be fracked equivalent to the land mass of California and Florida combined.

Josh Fox says there is huge pressure on lawmakers like Senator James Inhofe (OK) to impede investigations.  As, for instance, the senator wanted every expense in the EPA investigation itemized, no matter how minor.

Mayor of Dish cuts and runs

The mayor of Dish, Texas (where there are 21,000 wells in the vicinity) for instance installed his own air quality measuring instruments at his house and they indicated he’d better move outside of the town, of which he is mayor, which he did.  And Josh says he better not drink the water because the witches brew is then extracted and forced into an injection well for storage where it will probably leak and further damage Texas’ decreasing water table.

But coal is no better

(Wall Street Journal, Richard Silke, July 9, 2013)

‘Air pollution from coal combustion likely cut life expectancy in parts of China by more than five years in the 1990s revealed in a joint study by Chinese and American universities. Researchers were helped by another Mao-Era government policy [The first being the free distribution of coal in the North]…restricting movement of people from one part of the country to another so most people studied had likely spent their years in the same region.’

The laws you don’t know do exist

(N.Y. Times, Editorial, July 9, 2013)

‘As outrageous as the blanket secrecy of the FISA court is, we are equally troubled by the complete absence of any adversarial process, the heart of our legal system.  The government in 2012 made 1,789 requests to conduct electronic surveillance, the court approved 1,788, (the government withdrew the other). It is possible that not a single one of theses 1,788 requests violated established law, but the public will never know since no one was allowed to make any counter argument.

Our Gal Spring Wills of Mendocino, California, hitching the Americas with no money and no Spanish & a crazy man on a bike in Queens

Spring has joined in traveling the world with nothing but a whim and a prayer, Lai Lidun, of Shunde in Guangdong Province, in China who has bicycled 31,000 miles thru four continents and 25 countries and recently arrived in Queens after biking the North American leg of his tour.  He left his home in November 2009, with the equivalent of $20 in his pocket. He travels with a portable karaoke machine, so that he can stop and belt out 1980 Chinese pop songs for donations. Spring uses a pennywhistle to perform for donations.

Questions for FBI’s next top dog

(N.Y. Times, Editorial, July 9, 2013)

‘Coleen Rowley, an FBI special agent from 1981-2004: questions should be asked of James B. Comey about privacy and security,  “…would you instruct F.B.I. agents to investigate all credible reports,” [of torture] including those involving other federal personnel…In 2002 according to a justice Department report F.B.I. agents at Guantanamo Bay created a war crimes file, to document accusations of prisoner mistreatment…but an F.B.I. official ordered that the file be closed in 2003.’

Edwin M. Stanton courtesy of Wikipedia.

Edwin M. Stanton courtesy of Wikipedia.

Lincoln’s surveillance state

(N.Y. Times, Editorial, David Mindich, July 6, 2013)

‘In 1862, after President Abraham Lincoln appointed him secretary of war, Edwin M. Stanton penned a letter to the president requesting sweeping powers, which would include total control of the telegraph lines.  By rerouting those lines through his office, Stanton would keep tabs on vast amounts of communication…On the back of Stanton’s letter Lincoln scribbled his approval…As the war ended…information began to flow freely again…That is why if you are a critic of the N.S.A.’s surveillance program, it is imperative that the war on Terror reach its culmination.  In May, President Obama did declare that, “This war, like all wars, must end…” Meanwhile, unlike the handful of telegraph operators in Stanton’s office,  an estimated 483,000 government contractors had top-secret security clearances in 2012.’

Let’s make a deal about the proposed immigration bill

(N.Y. Times, Editorial, Gail Collins, July 6, 2013)

‘[After a bit of compromise]…the bill came out of the judiciary committee with a 13-year path to citizenship and 3,500  additional border protection officers.  Then it went to the full Senate where the sponsors agreed to add an another 20,000 badge agents and expand the wall-like border fence to 700 miles.  Price: $30 BILLION. The pay-off in arrests per agent in the area around El Paso is around three-and-a-half apprehensions per agent per year!’

(MSNBC, July 16, 2013)

Barry Scheck of The Innocence Project said, “Melissa Alexander who was sentenced in the same prosecutorial district in Florida as the Trayvon Martin trial, was sentenced the next day to 20 years for shooting into a wall to convince her abusive husband (twice convicted for assault) to stay back.  Florida’s Stand Your Ground law did not do her a bit of good, but then she is black.”

Barry says over criminalization is rampant in the justice system, and is curtailing the rights of poor people in particular to go to trial before anybody, much less their peers as they are forced to accept a ‘plea’ instead of taking a chance on trial and getting a draconian sentence or take weeks off from places of employment sure to fire them if they do.

Camp_x-ray_detaineesSome at Guantanamo quit hunger strike

(N.Y. Times, Charlie Savage, July 15, 2013)

‘David Remes, a defense lawyer who represents several Guantanamo detainees in habeas corpus proceedings said, “…Perhaps the authorities finally made hunger striking such a horrendous experience that some men at least, are dropping out.”‘

California prisoners go hungry too

(N.Y. Times, Jennifer Medina)

‘A widespread inmate hunger strike in protest of California’s policy of solitary confinement was approaching it’s second week…This policy allows inmates with gang associations to be held in isolation cells for decades…and a federal judge ruled that the prison was not providing adequate medical care for inmates – including basics like access to clean water.’

Nadezhda Popova – WWII ‘night witch’ dies at 91

Popova(N.Y. Times, Obituaries, Douglas Martin)

‘The Nazis called them “night witches” because of the whooshing noise their plywood and canvas airplanes made… In 30,000 missions over four years, they dumped 23,000 tons of bombs on the German invaders (and each plane carried only one bomb). Any German pilot who downed a “witch” was awarded an iron cross…Nadezhda Popova flew 852 missions (most other allied pilots flew usually 20).’


Our man on the spot blogs:

Our man on the spot XIII

Our man on the spot XII

Our man on the spot XI (you are here)

Our man on the spot X

Our man on the spot IX

Our man on the spot VIII

Our man on the spot VII

Our man on the spot VI

Our man on the spot V

Our man on the spot IV

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Our man on the spot I – reissued


(Photo): Adnan Farhan Latif, courtesy of wikipedia.

(Photo): Adnan Farhan Latif, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif apparently accepted psychiatric medications, casually left as a potentially Guantanamo assisted suicide, which rescued prison authorities of responsibility, just as Athenian justice had required Socrates take the hemlock himself, so that the Athenian body politic could keep its hands clean – other than those grating mortar and pestle in lethal preparation. Socrates had been a pain in the ass to the body politic as Adnan was to become, though ordered freed several times by generals, panels and judges. Adnan said he came to Afghanistan to seek services of a medical charity before the war, not realizing he would end up as one of the one of the first captured to become a tenured citizen of Guantanamo Bay.

As Socrates never yielded to the political persuasion of dutiful submissive citizenship so Adnan never, it’s said, submitted to the terms of his Guantanamo imprisonment, even in his last days when they put him into a cell echoing from the generator anchored to the intervening wall – a cell he dreaded. Instead, he would determine his incarcerated fate even unto the gates of hell. “He would not let them [the guards] set the terms of his imprisonment” (New York Times, November 28, 2012). Adnan regularly was placed in a restraining chair and forced fed while attempting hunger strikes.

Socrates said the same thing all those years ago; people don’t like it when you think for yourself. Bruce says that’s why he honored Alexander Cockburn so much, he was among the few who did think for himself. Socrates said all could as well, if they sought the light he had found inside himself, instead of seeing only that which can be bought or sold, or in Adnan’s case told.

It must be said here that one guard looking over these unclassified notes said, “what a huge pile of bullshit – Adnan was no fucking Socrates, just a raghead determined to take the little space we gave him and make it into a mile of official ‘better look into this one’ before some crinkle head in the ACLU makes a federal case out of it. But don’t worry, the Queda Brotherhood has no autopsy truck, so let’s freeze his ass as a Yemeni iced pie and send him home.” The New York Times November 28, 2012 says that’s what they did.

Nelson Mandela says in his book, Conversations with Myself, “ …and you found, you know, the resistance, the ability of the human spirit to resist injustice right inside prison… there were many men…who would prefer punishment and even assault rather than give in.”

Now about Bradley Manning

(Photo): Bradley Manning, US Army, courtesy of Wikipedia.

(Photo): Bradley Manning, US Army, courtesy of Wikipedia.

But that not what the boys at Quantico did to that little piss-ant stoolie, Bradley Manning. They kept the light on the little mother fucker even when he was taking a shit – and he had to jump up and stand at attention “Ten-hut,” when he needed something to wipe his ass with (Democracy Now, December 3, 2012). If the little fuck face turned his head away from the light even when asleep, they said ‘wake up you little fuck, and turn over.’ And, that came from the top, where they could care less about that Hippocratic Oath thing – let the boy tell something useful – forget what the commissioned MDs say, they work for us. Then Manning could squirm one eye around, and see the light of day reflected off a petty officer’s used Suburban parked out by the main gate, the car of choice shipped to San Salvador for the “unfairly” termed death-squads, shipped directly from Michigan with tinted windows and escape-proof doors (the prototype for child-proof locks).

Radioactive Promises

On the other hand, hemlock’s modern offspring- like birds evolving from dinosaurs – come with radioactive promise.

That’s why they dug up Yasser Arafat, to find out if the Israelis had sent him a “get-well snack” (and it wasn’t dates and almonds), when he was in that French hospital (Huff Post, March 19, 2013).

It’s also said that if you get on the wrong side Putin (even if you have done a stint in KGB before becoming an independent contractor) don’t drink tea with friends of his, unless you bring your own sugar. And, if you are a journalist, they won’t waste something the Iranians want so badly on a pencil pusher, just an ounce of lead – a bullet.

Bloomberg Knows

Mayor Bloomberg proved to the world he was no one-trip-pony when he raised the ante on the “Occupy” movement, and proved it could not stand up to having its gourmet food kitchen removed, along with heating stoves for the freezing cold nights and have its library shut down. So his decision to let the nursing homes in the Rockaways ride out Supper Storm Sandy, and give the first responders practice in rescuing frail and ancient people, was something in the bank for the next catastrophe which the mayor, as a spokesman for the threat of Global Warming, knows is coming for sure. “Global Carbon Project” researchers say that if emissions continue to grow so rapidly that the goal of limiting the ultimate warming of the planet to 3.6 degrees is probably unattainable (New York Times, December 2, 2012). The city can’t afford to build seawalls like the Dutch around its thousands of miles of exposure and maybe this will wake the Feds up to ‘parting with more than chump change.’

The mayor is supposed to have stated – off the record – that maybe this will show Hillary that being Mayor of the Big Apple is ten times the trick of a land-locked presidency. She should run for bleeping mayor if she wants to show the world that she has the balls to be where the rubber meets the road. Delete that last he said. Anyway, Bloomberg Associates would probably be the only ones to find the finances for such a project.

Words of Wisdom

“Obama proved himself to be imperial to the core…I do not hate the person because he has the potential to change…” (Cornell West, Booneville Advertiser).

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BLOG: God help me survive with boys

By Sam

John, and Emmett born a minute later,

My father’s name with an extra T

That he always wanted

Like Emmett Dalton of the Dalton boys,

Desperadoes who lived onto B movie acceptance

This grandson Emmett – Granddad long gone –

Had a mom who knew I had

a thing about cops

and could sense when I was in town,

And would send the police after me

As I threw a rocking chair on their porch

even, Jesus! at Christmas!

And as their granddad would say with a sigh

puchee! where’s this shit going!”

But you know she was right

it was king of a Trojan Horse thing to do

And how did that cop directing traffic know

to call my name?

I hope he made it to the chief of police

in some little jerky Jersey town.

Why even when they were only two

the court let me visit

under armed guard

But even then I knew it would only take a twenty

to get the rent-a-cop to at least

keep his piece out of sight


So of course later when persistence had paid off

and they partially came under my jurisdiction

the largest of the two, born at two pounds

broke down when I couldn’t keep a marriage together

poor kid, he had counted on constancy from me


After an early childhood of incarceration

in facilities mandated by courts back there,

for kids who played with knives.

To him there were no reins

for the runaway horse,

it was drugs and cops with drawn guns

at our house, even in spring blizzards

So he got it that his peers

when juiced would do

nonetheless I was top hand at hobo stew

And tho I was on the road

like Joe keeping his ship afoat

but I all-nighted it back up the mountain

to just fucking be there.

And my taste in action flicks was only marginally better then theirs

nonetheless John’s psyche

squatted in a closet with dirty socks and pot

and gave birth to nightmares of loss

where was I for every one of his stupid questions?

that only a dad’s surety could answer

Even as I had eight others

perhaps off the trail

Like lost yearlings in a ravine to think about.

His brother whom I could hold

even in the palm of my hand

as the surgeon in the premature infant ward

inserted a spinal tap

half as long as his body

And with a little crib-side voodoo

I seemed to cool the heart rate

to perhaps of a similarly sized rodent

enough to win the approval

of the ladies volunteering their laps as comfort zones

However, when the littlest twin

with a birth weight same as a big mac when born


Came to be in the care of what CPS might call

irresponsible parentage,

he was still so skinny

that I could pick him up with one hand

Even as he, like some

born again mongrel Mongol warrior

resisting being in the care of court orders

he needed to be near his beloved mom

She was his mom

and like Genghis Khan

he would sustain that connection,

even if it meant escaping and

sleeping in a nearby street.

Better than a ravine

I suppose I said to myself

Time passed and the give and take

of things

–and of course new lawyers–

came into play.

But it didn’t take care of what to do

with wild young things

who hadn’t the early years

with me to be saddle broke

tho even when defiant

still desperate for a hug

Even as they longed for the day

they-in the singular of course-

could land a beautiful, killing blow.

This will for a potential geezer

inspire you to fucking train your ass off

forget geezer-hood


Any minute might be your last

and search for a Grimm’s fairy tale

not quite so grim

However and this is huge

If you survive to become and actual geezer

they will begin to respect you

maybe even love you

As they ricochet between

being in wonder

that you’re still there

to the anticipation of the day

they have you in the

rear-naked choke

or an arm-bar ready to break or arteries head locked

to closure, even to brain damage

maybe that would shut my fucking

cop mouth

Even as they weep at my funeral

perhaps they will say

“Even when you kicked me out of the house

you asshole! you were probably right”

maybe they will say

“You were a bad ass when needed”

“Even when, you asshole

you wouldn’t make bail,

but gave strength and love when needed most”

“Even as, you asshole

you fucking crawl -though persistently –

to the fucking finish line”


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