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The Case Against Bill Bratton

By Josmar Trujillo | Black Agenda Report | March 12, 2014

The first two months of the City’s post-Bloomberg era have seen little in the way of “progressive changes to the New York Police Department. While new(ish) Mayor Bill de Blasio may have seen his honeymoon period come to an end with a few notable controversies in February, the once-again commissioner of the NYPD, Bill Bratton, has largely stayed above the fray as he strategically manages the media and helps steer an embattled police department through a reform storm — one of his specialties.

Policing activists cheered last year when a federal judge ruled that the NYPD was engaging in (at least) “indirect” racial profiling and that reforms, including a federal monitor to oversee changes to the department, were needed. The idea of federal oversight, beyond the scope of City Hall, was music to the ears of many who questioned if the City could reform a police force whose reach stretched overseas. An appeal by the City would be the main obstacle to the court-order remedies.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s appeal of the Floyd v City of New York case was expected. Bloomberg was his famously unapologetic self to the very end. De Blasio, a self-proclaimed “progressive,” on the other hand, promised change and accountability for an NYPD that had been trampling the Constitution for years. Some activists, perhaps, felt they had an ally in de Blasio. After 12 years of Bloomberg, expectations for Hillary Clinton’s former campaign manager were informed by a sense of optimism–leading some to take “wait and see” approaches. At the end of his first month in office de Blasio and Bratton joined policing activists, civil libertarians and plaintiffs in the Floyd case to announce, to much fanfare, that he would instruct the City’s lawyers to drop the Bloomberg administration’s appeal.

Of course, simply not being Michael Bloomberg wouldn’t suffice in putting the brakes on a growing trend of police abuse, surveillance and militarization. Substantive changes are desperately needed to relieve communities of color living in what many see as a racialized police state. De Blasio, apart from his campaign rhetoric and the media narrative, had been speaking a message of only moderate reform. So moderate that many wondered if he was serious about changing the NYPD in meaningful ways.

The Returning Conqueror

The most obvious pause for alarm for community members and activists came in December when de Blasio announced he’d be bringing back Rudy Giuliani’s police commissioner, Bratton, for a 2nd run at the helm of the NYPD. Bratton is widely seen as the man who operationalized “Broken Windows” theory from an article in the Atlantic magazine into a philosophy that dominates law enforcement across the country today. His aggressive, pro-active approach, coupled with his introduction of CompStat, was the precursor to Stop and Frisk. A strange bedfellow for a “progressive” Mayor. For many who live in the front lines of aggressive policing, labels like “progressive” mean very little. Ditto for Stop and Frisk; police profiling and harassment of black and brown men is a time-honored tradition that preceded the policy. But the policy became a controversial issue the past few years and a central theme in last year’s mayoral election. De Blasio’s biracial son was featured in campaign ads touting his father as the only one who would “end the Stop and Frisk era.”

Bratton seemed an awkward choice to fulfill that pledge. Before the appointment, he said that cops who don’t do it “aren’t doing their job.” If you look back at Bratton’s cable TV appearances, his speeches and the philosophy of his little known consulting company, Bratton Group, he has never wavered from his support of the tactic. So far he’s been consistent: a few days into his second stint as commissioner, the famously media-savvy Bratton told CBS’s Norah O’Donnell that policing without Stop and Frisk is like a “journalist interviewing without asking questions.” In his most recent interview he said there’d be “anarchy” without it.

But New Yorkers were told that Bratton was different now than the Bratton of the past. A kinder, gentler Bratton wanted to save us from the excesses of the Ray Kelly era. Even Al Sharpton, who had famously been at odds with Bratton in the 90’s, gave his blessings to Bratton at an event honoring the late Nelson Mandela. An ACLU lawyer penned an op-ed in the New York Times praising Bratton. Bratton even met with his fiercest critics when he sat down with a small group of policing activists. It seemed many were willing to watch the Bratton sequel unfold–perhaps even support it. The architect of Stop and Frisk had also, to the outrage of some, invoked King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” at a recent MLK day celebration in Brooklyn.

Then Bratton laid out some of his cards. It was reported that Bratton was looking to bring on George Kelling as a consultant. Kelling, a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute think tank, is both a friend of Bratton and one of the authors of the influential Atlantic magazine article that birthed “Broken Windows” theory and laid the framework for Stop and Frisk. Activists that had been tempered in their response to the Bratton appointment were now delivering some slightly stronger language as they criticized Bratton’s look to the past in shaping the NYPD’s future through the hiring of Kelling.

But whether you saw Bratton’s return as a change of direction from the approach of the Bloomberg-era, or as window dressing to business as usual, you couldn’t help but note that Bratton had now been linked with three police departments that have faced community outrage and subsequent legal challenges. Before re-joining the NYPD this year, Bratton had been hired (to significant protest) as a private consultant to the Oakland Police department, a department with a “pattern of resisting reform.” The OPD had been operating under a federal consent decree after scandal and corruption led to a legal settlement that required reforms. Before that he had been the police chief of the Los Angeles Police department, which had also been working under a federal consent decree following the infamous Ramparts scandals of the 90’s. In a case where both revolving-door and conflict of interest concerns were raised, he had just previously been working as a private consultant for Kroll Associates, the private independent monitor of the LAPD.

The fact that Bratton has been continually called in to help police departments navigate through legal oversight should raise questions for New Yorkers today who wonder if Bratton was brought in to reform or rebrand a police department that was facing legal and legislative pressure. A City Council bill that passed last summer would create potential oversight via the creation of an office of Inspector General for the NYPD. But this would be done under the auspices of the Mayor’s Department of Investigations and City Hall–offering a limited amount of independence. Similarly, the Floyd ruling called for a federal monitor to oversee reforms. But the de Blasio administration’s agreement with the Floyd plaintiffs made this a temporary role. Would a reform storm that activists, civil libertarians and outraged community members created in LA, Oakland and New York be something that Bratton would embrace–or simply get these troubled departments through

New York area activists of all stripes, but particularly those centered around policing, should keep in mind Bratton’s approach to protesters and marchers. Bratton’s LAPD violently quelled a May Day rally in 2007, and Bratton said he would have “cleared” protests in Wall Street “right away”–something not even Bloomberg or Ray Kelly did.

Bratton and The Media

Whether it’s stopping and frisking large numbers of young black or brown males in the City or cracking down on squeegee-men (both tactics derived from Broken Windows), aggressive policing is gospel and Bill Bratton is clearly the pastor of the flock. Still, as an article recently pointed out, while Bratton may have some moderate policy differences with his predecessor, Ray Kelly, he’s more concerned with rehabilitating the NYPD’s tattered image than anything.

How does he do this? He’s by far the most media-savvy commissioner of any department this City has probably ever seen. Even his counter-terrorism chief, John Miller, has media credentials that blur the lines between being a journalist and law enforcement spokesman. Miller was formerly a spokesperson for the FBI as well as a correspondent for CBS News. But Bratton’s best strategy is feeding the public quotes that suggest changes are in the works–but that inspire little hope upon closer inspection. He’s made clear that he’s “needed to use the media” to get “certain messages through.” The media is a willing partner in this regard.

Let’s take a closer look at the news from the end of Bratton’s first month back in office: A New York Times headline read “Bratton Says Rookies’ Role in Anticrime Effort Will End.” The local NY1 news channel reported “Bratton Wants NYPD Rookies Out of Operation Impact.” By those headlines you’d think Bratton was aiming to curb police harassment in frontline neighborhoods (and the backlash against it) by swapping out rookies with gracious, polite veterans. First off, the headlines were misleading–“Let me emphasize: Operation Impact is not going away. It is an essential tool” he said (echoing the fine print on Stop and Frisk “reform” he had also cautioned). Rookies will still go out to high-crime areas, he said, but they’ll be “mentored” first. It’s important to note that no policing activist had ever suggested replacing rookies with veterans (who may be more problematic in terms of profiling–it was commanding officers that pushed for quotas, as Bratton has conceded) would reform policing behavior. When one thinks of a dirty or aggressive cop, veterans may come to mind more often than rookies.

Then there was also a widely cited video message that Bratton posted to the Policeman’s Benevolent Association website. The PBA have been staunch defenders of Stop and Frisk since the Bloomberg administration and have been highly critical of reforms. They now, thanks to Bratton, also enjoy office space inside 1 Police Plaza–which might be a first for a civil service union. In the video, Bratton speaks to relying less on “numbers.” Media insisted he “bags bust quota” (an unspoken–and illegal–system that encourages cops to stop high numbers of people). But he never actually mentions quotas or explicitly says they shouldn’t be tolerated, although the impression is that he’s steering the department away from the numbers crunch.

But Bratton has always been about numbers. In fact, in an interview he did with NYU Professor Paul Romer (perhaps best known as an innovator of charter cities in the poorest regions of Latin America) a month before his appointment, Bratton points to computer “algorithms” as the next step forward for “predictive policing.” In 2009, under Bratton, the LAPD received a grant from the Department of Justice towards predictive policing technology. Any future computer programs ostensibly “predicting” crime would owe much to the legacy of Bratton and CompStat, the data driven computer policing program he introduced in New York during the 90’s. That was all about numbers. So in spite of his video message, Bratton seems very comfortable with both numbers and technology (Bratton has also recently joined Twitter).

But few public figures or voices in the media are willing to probe “America’s Supercop” very much. Not only has Bratton and his philosophy come to dominate our City (and nation) through an echo chamber of uncritical media and politicians, they resemble the talking points of previous commissioner Ray Kelly. For starters, de Blasio and Bratton’s insistence that Stop and Frisk not be ended is based largely in an argument that there is a correlation between aggressive policing and crime reduction; that without Stop and Frisk and Muslim surveillance the City would descend into New Jack City, or that we’d have another 9/11. This is almost indistinguishable from the prevailing logic of the Bloomberg/Kelly era–and isn’t clearly supported by evidence. Upon closer inspection, de Blasio and Bratton’s approach tries to encapsulate the political rhetoric that said the previous administration was too cavalier–but without undermining its logic.

Fear of a city descending into a crime-ridden replay of the past may have indeed led to the hiring of a figure of the past in Bratton. Fear is a prime ingredient for a highly policed society and it clearly makes the appointment of a controversial figure like Bratton easier to swallow for some. But it also demands media coverage that defers to the celebrity and expertise of Bratton–rarely asking tough questions. Bratton does his part by carefully managing his words, saving substantive discussions for closed-door speeches. Some may remember that it was Bratton’s media-mastery that was at the root of his ouster from Giuliani’s NYC in the 90’s.

Bratton 2.0

Research tells us that communities of color will usually be disproportionately dealt the receiving end of police profiling and brutality. If they are being sold a rebranded NYPD–one that emphasizes “collaborative” policing over constitutional policing–by a recycled Bratton, it is important to understand how that translates onto the streets, not just in press conferences.

Two weeks into the job, Bratton announced that Stop and Frisk was “more or less solved” and cited data from the Bloomberg era that suggested the practice was already in decline (statistically) since 2013. If true, then candidate de Blasio’s rhetoric to reign in Bloomberg and Kelly’s abuse of the policy was at odds with Bratton’s analysis. Had Bloomberg already reformed the NYPD in 2013? Then why the political rhetoric?

Crime statistics can be politicized depending on what the political climate is and what the incentives are. Robert Gangi from Police Reform Operation Project recently remarked that any figures provided by the NYPD about itself should be taken with a healthy skepticism. The Chief-Leader, a weekly civil service newspaper catered to cops, firefighters and other civil servants, has also written about politicized policing statistics. There is, also, the possibility that some officers simply won’t document all stops or interactions. Of course this is hard to prove and would require in-depth, independent studies. In a recent article the New York Times revealed that officers already fail to properly report friskings of drivers they pull over.

That Times article was also revealing in the context of Vision Zero, de Blasio and Bratton’s new initiative to crack down on drivers and pedestrians in the name of traffic safety. Public safety is often trumpeted when expansions of police power are rolled out. What in foreign policy is described as pre-emptive war can translate domestically into proactive policing. Who could oppose a plan to reduce traffic deaths–or keep ourselves safe from terror? But if police were focusing their attention on drivers and pedestrians with the latest enforcement crackdown, then what might the long term implications for New Yorkers be? In February, de Blasio placed a phone call to police officials after a member of his Transition Team, a black Brooklyn-based pastor and political ally, was jailed following an improper left turn stop by police.

While the Mayor took heat for the call and for a what many saw as a hypocritical driving detail that ran stop signs and sped over limit, Bratton’s NYPD was recovering from its own scandal in January when an elderly Chinese immigrant was roughed up and bloodied by cops after being targeted for jaywalking. Ironically it was the notoriously conservative New York Post that criticized the police crackdown–even as they have unabashedly championed aggressive policing most other times. In a recent interview George Kelling linked Vision Zero to Broken Windows as a “new threshold in terms of order maintenance.” He also may have inadvertently given an insight into the initiative’s other motivating factors: a crackdown on small crimes (jaywalking for pedestrians; improper turns and lane changes for drivers) as a “pathway” to uncovering other criminal behavior–what he called “side benefits.”

Amid the brewing controversies, it was becoming clear that Broken Windows was still the basis for policing in the five boroughs.

While for many New Yorkers, the term Stop and Frisk had become a dinnertime conversation topic, what did people know about Broken Windows? Back in September, de Blasio the candidate proclaimed himself a believer in the theory. Does it work? If you go by most mainstream media and Bratton, it’s death, taxes and Broken Windows. Criminologists and researchers aren’t too sure. In 2006, Bratton and Kelling reacted angrily in a written response for the conservative National Review magazine to academic research that had poked holes in their theory. In 2004, now-deceased James Q. Wilson, Kelling’s Broken Windows article co-author, tried to explain that “I still to this day do not know if improving order will or will not reduce crime… people have not understood that this was speculation.”

This year, in an apparent attempt to restore “order” in the City’s subway system, Bratton’s NYPD, along with the MTA, planned to make homeless sweeps in the subways. Bratton was known in the 90’s to target homeless New Yorkers and squeegee men with his quality of life policies. He had continued that trend with the LAPD in Skid Row where harsh quality of life crackdowns (like targeting homeless people for being on public grass) and gang injunctions raised questions of discrimination in the service of gentrification. The former transit top cop also targeted the transit system with his policies. In a recent article for the Times, spikes in arrests of panhandlers and peddlers included immigrant women selling Churros (Mexican pastries) in subway stations. It was clear that for Bratton some habits die hard.

But Bratton’s most recent homeless sweeps plans met outrage and push-back from community groups. A few grassroots groups, led by Picture The Homeless, a homeless-led advocacy organization, planned an action that apparently forced authorities to back off the early morning operation. In LA, Bratton’s policies had also met resistance from groups like the LA Community Action Network. So in spite of the generally fawning media coverage and relative ease with which he transitioned back into 1 Police Plaza, some activists were ready to oppose Bratton the commissioner as many had done to Bratton the consultant in Oakland and even Detroit. But would it be enough?

Most recently Mr. Bratton and the Mayor revealed a 7-point plan that instructed police officers to be more positive and courteous in their interactions with community members. Bratton indicated cops would be trained in “verbal judo.” And again this points to what is packaged as reform by the NYPD. Will training police along the lines of customer service reps (or verbal martial artists) address the constitutional concerns raised over the last few years? Lessons in civility sidestep demands that officers adhere to the standards of the Supreme Court’s Terry V. Ohio ruling. As noted civil rights attorney Norman Siegel pointed out, reforming Stop and Frisk wasn’t about a magic number of stops or simply the graciousness of police officers; it was about the legality of the stop. Kind words and improved language also wouldn’t make police accountable for abuses of power up to and including fatal shootings of unarmed New Yorkers–of which there were dozens during Bratton’s first stint.

But perhaps least inspiring is that this new initiative isn’t new–NYPD 2020 was spearheaded by Ray Kelly in the prior administration.

The World As a Battlefield

Apart from Bratton’s domestic resume, there are also some pretty telling indicators abroad.

Since the 90’s, Bratton’s police work has taken him across oceans. In 2001, Bratton was a special consultant to the capital of Venezuela when a failed coup d’etat briefly removed Hugo Chavez from the presidency. Bratton and the local police chief were at the helm when 17 pro-Chavez protesters were shot by police before Chavez returned, jailed the chief and sent Bratton packing. In 2007, Bratton tapped an LAPD Lieutenant who studied counterterrorism at Hosni Mubarak’s Egyptian National Police Academy to head that DOJ grant on predictive policing. In 2011, Bratton was in talks with UK Prime Minister David Cameron to help advise the police crackdown on race riots in London that were sparked by the police shooting death of a black man.

Finally, both Bratton and the Mayor share an affinity for Israel. De Blasio fancies his role as Mayor as one of a “defender of Israel.” Bratton, meanwhile, forged a “close relationship” with the controversial government while on official visits for the LAPD to browse through its counterterrorism technologies. It’s safe to say the Israeli government sees most matters of security and policing through a prism of anti-terrorism and militarism, but numerous human rights groups and scholars also say that Israel engages in racial apartheid. A region marred by violence, military checkpoints and concentrated poverty; Israel and the occupied territories is a true Tale of Two Cities. New Yorkers, particularly those that find themselves in communities of color, should take note.

Josmar Trujillo is an organizer with New Yorkers Against Bratton.

March 12, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NYPD a ‘quasi-military organization,’ according to outgoing top-cop Ray Kelly

RT | December 31, 2013

During the last few hours of a lengthy tenure atop the New York Police Department tainted by both scandal and success, outgoing-NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly echoed soon-to-be-ex-Mayor Michael Bloomberg with big words about the city’s boys in blue.

Bloomberg provoked a fair share of criticism from Big Apple residents in late 2011 when he said, “I have my own army in the NYPD . . . the seventh biggest army in the world.”

Two years later and new comments from Commissioner Kelly might make the same sort of splash.

The increased militarization of the NYPD and other big city police agencies had already caused concern among many by the mayor’s remarks that November, but both Bloomberg and Kelly’s handling of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in Lower Manhattan that autumn and into the winter attracted previously unmatched opposition. Within just a few short months the city had arrested hundreds of peaceful protesters, and tales from Occupiers about being pepper-sprayed by the police became routine over social media.

Two years later, the NYPD’s reputation has not been repaired: the agency’s stop-and-frisk policy remains as controversial as ever, and an award-winning Associated Press report exposed a secretive intelligence-gathering wing of the force that singled out area Muslims for warrantless surveillance.

Now as he throws in the towel after serving as the civilian administrator of the NYPD for 14 of the last 24 years, Kelly has said something that doesn’t shy away from accusations he helped use his police force to make a police-state.

The New York Times was questioning what they called Kelly’s “tight control of the department” when he reportedly looked “pained” and told them, “You can’t win.”

“Obviously, in a quasi-military organization, you need an ultimate decision maker,” he said.

Ominous words about the world’s seventh-biggest army, or an actualization of what the NYPD has become under his command? The New York City blog Politicker was quick to throw Kelly’s quote into a headline for a post they published on Tuesday, and one of the most widely-subscribed Twitter accounts used by Occupy Wall Street linked followers to the Times article by way of Kelly’s quip.

“Oh, so he doesn’t know what ‘quasi’ means,” one Twitter user remarked back.

Rania Khalek, an independent journalist who watched the NYPD evolve under Kelly, weighed in on the comment as well.

“I was surprised by his candidness, but my first thought was, at least’s being honest,” she told RT on Tuesday. “The role of the NYPD, like most city police departments around the country, is indistinguishable from that of the military, especially in poor communities of color where police serve as occupying armies for the most part.”

And as the AP’s investigation has shown, ethnic minorities in the greater New York region have indeed been forced to endure specialized scrutiny under Kelly and Bloomberg by way of the NYPD’s so-called Demographics Unit: a faction of the force dedicated to collecting intelligence on Muslims by seemingly any means necessary.

“Investigations of any community which are not based upon indications of crime create fear and erode the confidence of a community in the power of a legal system to protect it,” New York University law professor Paul Chevigny told Newsday earlier this year.

Combined with an “army” of 35,000 or so police officers, it’s easy to see how that fear has made Kelly a person that many New Yorkers have grown to despise during his tenure. Additionally, retired NYPC Captain John A. Eterno told the Times this week that the way in which the commissioner has operated his organization in recent years has been cloaked in secrecy to a point of contention.

“He’s done very well with technology and made many innovations,” Eterno told the Times, “But lack of transparency is going to be his legacy.”

“He’s simply hidden things over and over that are harmful to democratic policing,” he said.

In a 1995 study, Victor Kappeler wrote in his abstract that the quasi-military structure that Kelly claims to have enforced cannot breed a “truly professional” police force. The “need to balance internal discipline with police-citizen interactions results in pressure on the individual officer to produce results,” he wrote, is accomplished in militarized units “often by relying on various degrees of misconduct.”

Between 2011 and 2012, misconduct within the ranks of the NYPD raised 22 percent, Controller John Liu confirmed back in June, causing a reported 229 NYPD officers to be disciplined last year.

At the same time, however, statistics suggest that the NYPD’s actual ability to fight crime could be on the up as well. The Times reported on Tuesday that the city is expect to log only 330 murders for this year — a record low.

“And these record-breaking successes are all due in great part to the professionalism and skill of the NYPD,” Bloomberg said during a ceremony earlier this month.

Others, however, had not so nice things to say. To commemorate Kelly’s last day as commissioner of NYPD, a few dozen New Yorkers gathered downtown for a “Good Riddance, Ray Kelly” party advertised on Facebook.

“We’re celebrating because we survived this asshole,” activist Cyrus McGoldrick told the New York Daily News from Tuesday’s demonstration.

As RT reported previously, Kelly will soon join the Council on Foreign Relations — a dominant international policy think-tank — where he will still be able to stay close to his fellow New Yorkers. Even in his post-NYPD career, Kelly will receive a taxpayer-funded ten-man security detail that is reported to cost NYC residents around $1.5 million a year.

January 1, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Volcanic Eruption of ‘Jewish Values’?

A precise definition of the term “Jewish values” seems curiously absent from the public sphere. But maybe we can come up with one of our own…

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By Richard Edmondson | Fig Trees and Vineyards | October 25, 2013

We often hear the term “Jewish values” bandied about these days (primarily by Jews, it seems) yet seldom, if ever, do we hear it defined. What exactly does it mean? Are people who use it trying to imply that the moral values of Jews are somehow superior to those held by the rest of us?

Type the term “Jewish values” into Google and you get back more than 24 million results. At the top of the list is a website called JewishValuesOnline.org. The site is taglined “multi Jewish perspectives on morals and ethics” and offers rabbinical opinions on a variety of political and social issues, such as gun control, but nowhere on the site does there seem to be an actual definition of the term.

Wikipedia has no entry on “Jewish values”—however, there is a Wikipedia entry on “Jewish ethics.” The article starts off with the following somewhat convoluted paragraph:

Jewish ethics are considered to be at the intersection of Judaism and the Western philosophical tradition of ethics. Like other types of religious ethics, the diverse literature of Jewish ethics primarily aims to answer a broad range of moral questions and, hence, may be classified as a normative ethics. For two millennia, Jewish thought has also grappled with the dynamic interplay between law and ethics. The tradition of rabbinic religious law (known as halakhah) addresses numerous problems often associated with ethics, including its semi-permeable relation with duties that are usually not punished under law.

A few years ago an Israeli rabbi by the name of Yitzhak Shapira published a book entitled The King’s Torah, in which he justified the killing of non-Jewish children. “There is justification in harming [non-Jewish] infants if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us,” Shapira writes. “Under such circumstances the blow can be directed at them and not only by targeting adults.” Perhaps that’s what Wikipedia means by the “semi-permeable relation” between Jewish ethics and “duties that are usually not punished under law.” So far as I’m aware, not a single Israeli soldier has ever been prosecuted for killing a Palestinian child.

A few days ago the Jewish JTA website published an article on a one million dollar “Jewish Nobel Prize” that is to be handed out to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Termed “the Genesis Prize,” the award is to be presented by the Genesis Prize Foundation. A relatively new outfit, established only last year, the Genesis Foundation is an offshoot of the Genesis Philanthropy Group, described as “a consortium of mega-wealthy philanthropist-businessmen from the former Soviet Union including Mikhail Fridman, Pyotr Aven and German Khan; the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel; and the Jewish Agency for Israel.”

Fridman, Aven, and Khan apparently go back a good many years together. All three have been involved with Alfa Group, a Russian banking and investment consortium, and in 2005 Fridman found himself caught up in a privitazation scandal in which property belonging to the Russian government was sold at prices significantly below market value.

The website Russian Mafia contains “dossiers” on all three men (see Fridman, Aven, and Khan respectively), with Khan being named as “Herman” Khan (though still apparently the same man). Naturally I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the information there, but the dossiers do make interesting reading.

The award to be presented to Bloomberg is the first annual Genesis Prize ever awarded. The article doesn’t exactly specify why the New York mayor was selected—but it does offer a quote from him:

“Many years ago, my parents instilled in me Jewish values and ethics that I have carried with me throughout my life, and which have guided every aspect of my work in business, government, and philanthropy,” he said.

Just why Mr. Bloomberg would think it important to mention this can perhaps be gleaned from a New York Times article on the Geneis Prize published back in June. “A charity founded by Russian Jewish billionaires is establishing a $1 million annual award for excellence in virtually any field, to honor those people who attribute their success to Jewish values.”—thus reads the opening sentence. The fact that the reporter, David M. Herzenhorn, would fail to enclose the words “Jewish values” in quotes would suggest he takes it for granted his readers know what the term means and that presumably they all understand that Jews have the most superlative values on earth. Who after all would doubt it?

But hey—take note! Here we have a whole prize (worth a cool $1 million no less) to be offered on an annual basis to that one lucky soul on earth deemed to exemplify “Jewish values” moreso than any other.

Perhaps the people of New York will breathe a sigh of relief now, knowing their mayor was singled out for such an honor. Yet still, sadly, we have no definition of the term (read Herzenhorn’s article from top to bottom and you’ll not fine one), and thus our quest is not over. But take heart! Perhaps a clue can be gleaned from a recent article in the Jewish newspaper, The Forward.

On October 21, The Forward published a story on a series of scandals that have engulfed Jewish charities and institutions over the past year. None of this is new. Each scandal, one after the other, had been reported previously on an individual, piecemeal basis, but what The Forward does is provide an overview of the whole mishmash as it has glissaded through the Jewish socio/cultural landscape:

The worst year for Jewish charities since the Madoff debacle in 2008 started in late December 2012, when the Forward reported that Yeshiva University’s longtime former president Rabbi Norman Lamm had admitted to covering up allegations of sex abuse of high school students from the 1970s through the ’90s. Alleged victims soon filed a $380 million lawsuit against the school.

Then, in May, the Forward reported that top officials at the Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which distributes aid to Holocaust victims, had been warned of fraud being perpetrated by employees eight years before a full investigation uncovered a multi-million dollar scam.

Things got even darker over the summer. In July, the 92nd Street Y fired its executive director, Sol Adler, after learning of Adler’s affair with his assistant, Catherine Marto. His affair, though embarrassing, wasn’t the worst of it. Marto’s son-in-law was the Y’s head of facilities, and was accused of taking kickbacks from vendors on construction projects. The Y shouldn’t have been surprised: He had pleaded guilty in 1999 in a Mafia-backed Wall Street fraud.

All those scandals were just a warm-up for the firing in August of William Rapfogel, CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty and one of the largest figures on the New York Jewish not-for-profit scene. Rapfogel was charged in September with stealing $5 million from Met Council in a two-decade kickback scheme. His predecessor at Met Council, Rabbi Dovid Cohen, resigned in September from his current job running the Jewish ambulance service Hatzolah.

The story also quotes an official who heads a “Center for Jewish Ethics” at a Pennsylvania rabbinical college who seems quite pained about the whole thing. “It (the series of scandals) has definitely shaken a lot of people’s confidence,” he comments before going on to express the view that “greater controls and better training” are needed for the people who run these Jewish institutions.

Yes, perhaps that will solve the whole problem.

A little bit more on the looting of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty can be found here:

Allegedly, Rapfogel and the Met Council diverted truckloads of food meant to feed the poor to a politically powerful Williamsburg hasidic businessman who owns a very large kosher supermarket. That hasidic businessman sold the food; the poor got none of it. It is unclear how much the businessman allegedly paid the Met Council under the table for the food or what percentage of profits was allegedly used to grease politicians. This businessman’s supermarket was also allegedly the only supermarket in Williamsburg authorized to take Met Council food vouchers. What the businessman had to pay Rapfogel for that monopoly is unclear.

The 92nd Street Y, one of the other scandal funnel clouds mentioned in The Forward article, apparently was formed as the Jewish equivalent to the YMCA, and much like the latter, it offers fitness programs, rooms for rent, cultural events, and the like. Its formal name is The Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association. Go here and you can see a list of famous people who have visited its facilities in New York.

All in all, what are we to make of it? Scandals galore—almost on the magnitude of a volcanic eruption—a spewing lava of corruption cascading down the slopes of what ostensibly are the most “noble” components of the Jewish community in America? Do the people connected in one way or another to these activities still regard themselves as God’s “chosen people”? If the answer to that is yes, then does this view of themselves persist in spite of their involvement in these exploitive self-enrichment schemes—or perhaps because of it?

Knowing the answer to that would help us to develop a clear definition of the term “Jewish values.”

October 26, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Without Any Legal Basis, The NYPD Has Been Classifying Its Own Documents For More Than A Decade

By Tim Cushing | Techdirt | September 19, 2013

Under the guidance of Chief Ray Kelly and Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the NYPD has transformed into an autonomous militarized force. Technically, it answers to Bloomberg and Kelly, but they’ve both shown extreme amounts of resistance to reining in any of the PD’s excesses.

Any attempts at bringing oversight and accountability to the force are met with anger and condescension, despite the fact that the NYPD’s casual abuse of New Yorker’s civil liberties are the subject of major lawsuits and city council legislation, as well as a sizable contributor to the city’s annual outlay of $700-800 million in settlements.

We’ve previously discussed the department’s secretiveness that has seen it described by investigative journalists as worse than the NSA and FBI when it comes to responding to FOI requests. (Not for nothing does the New York law governing these requests do business under the acronym “FOIL.”) But the NYPD is doing something no other city law enforcement agency has done: classifying its own documents.

Since at least 2003, the New York Police Department has been labeling some of its internal documents “Secret,” a designation that has baffled government secrecy experts, journalists and civil liberties lawyers.

By labeling documents “secret,” the Intelligence Division appears to be operating its own in-house classification system, similar to those used at federal agencies like the CIA, where Intel’s chief, David Cohen, previously worked for 35 years.

Some of the documents also include the caveat, in all-caps, that “No portion of this document can be copied or distributed without the exclusive permission of the policy commissioner or deputy commissioner of intelligence.”

Why is this “baffling?” Because the NYPD’s in-house classification system has nothing legal to back it up.

“You know what that [label] means? It means diddly,” said Robert Freeman, executive director of New York’s Committee on Open Government. “I think the police department is following the lead of the federal government. The difficulty is, in my opinion, it does not have a legal basis for doing that.”

Christopher Dunn, associate legal director at the New York Civil Liberties Union, told HuffPost he has only seen the label on documents created after 2001. He agreed with Freeman that “as far as I know, this marking has no legal significance.”

The NYPD remains a law unto itself. Bloomberg has referred to it as the “seventh biggest army in the world” (and his own “personal army”) and has, over the course of his three terms, indulged every excess. It should be noted that former CIA officer David Cohen got the ball rolling on the civil liberties-violating “Demographics Group” (the one that labeled entire mosques as terrorist entities) late in 2002, which would explain the noticeable uptick in “SECRET” documents in 2003. Nothing drives overclassification more than a combination of dubious legality and working hand-in-hand with national intelligence agency liaisons.

And it would appear that the NYPD still has lots of secrets it’s not willing to share with the public. HuffPo points to this story from 2011 in which Chief Kelly makes the claim that the NYPD could “take down an airplane” thanks to its anti-aircraft weaponry. That itself should be troubling enough and a strong indicator that Bloomberg and Kelly are better qualified to run a banana republic than an American city, but when asked to comment on the PD’s anti-aircraft guns, Bloomberg responded with this smirk of a statement:

“New York City Police Department has lots of capabilities you don’t know about and you won’t know about them.”

That’s comforting. Nothing like having the commander-in-chief of the “seventh biggest army in the world” tell you his force might have even bigger tricks up its sleeve than anti-aircraft weapons.

On the bright side, Mayor for life Bloomberg will be leaving soon and the front runner for his position, Bill De Blasio, gave the police force a failing grade for its responsiveness to FOI requests and will be likely looking to force the PD to shoot for a low-C at minimum. If Chief Kelly sticks around, though, De Blasio will have an uphill battle to fight against the ingrained arrogance and contempt that pervades the NYPD’s upper management.

September 19, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Judge: NYPD stop-and-frisk tactic violates rights

Press TV – August 12, 2013

In a blow to New York City mayor’s claims regarding the effectiveness of stop-and-frisk practices by the NYC police, a federal judge ruled that the so-called crime-stopping tactic violates the constitutional rights of minorities.

eua-stopandfriskU.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled Monday that by targeting racially targeted groups of citizens, the police had adopted an “indirect racial profiling” policy, that resulted in discriminatory stopping of tens of thousands of blacks and Hispanics, according to Reuters.

The judge ruled that the Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, police commissioner and other city officials had “turned a blind eye” toward the injustice on city’s minorities.

“No one should live in fear of being stopped whenever he leaves his home to go about the activities of daily life,” Scheindlin wrote in her opinion.

The judge wrote in her 105-page decision that police personnel were under pressure to raise the number of stops by Mayor Bloomberg since he took office in 2002 and designated Raymond Kelly to be NYPD Commissioner.

As a result, officers stopped and searched young minority men without any reasons in violation of their constitutional Fourth Amendment rights that protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The New York Civil Liberties Union demonstrated in a 2012 report that there had been a sharp increase in number of police stops over the period of Bloomberg’s three terms in office.

The number of searches rose from 160,851 stops in 2003 to 685,724 in 2011, while half of the 2011 searches included physical searches.

Scheindlin ordered the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee compliance with other remedies she ordered, including adopting written policy guideline specifying circumstances where stops are authorized. She also authorized to adopt a trial program requiring the use of body-worn cameras in one precinct in each of the city’s five boroughs; and to set up a community-based remedial process under a court-appointed facilitator.

August 12, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Judge: NYPD stop-and-frisk tactic violates rights

Constitutionally Illiterate Michael Bloomberg Doesn’t Want the DOJ Monitoring His Stop-and-Frisk “Military”

By Mike Riggs | Reason | June 14, 2013

In November 2011, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told an audience at MIT, “I don’t listen to Washington very much, which is something they’re not thrilled about.” He didn’t listen because he didn’t have to. “I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh biggest army in the world,” Bloomberg bragged.

That boast–crude and alarming as it was–sort of just hung in the air, slowly losing its stench. Yesterday, Bloomberg revived it, this time while announcing that he didn’t want the Justice Department overseeing the NYPD in the event a federal judge deems stop-and-frisk unconstitutional.

WNYC News reports:

The U.S. Department of Justice filed papers Wednesday saying that if a federal judge ruled the NYPD’s practices unconstitutional, then the DOJ would strongly endorse the use of a monitor to oversee changes at the department.

The mayor, however, said that the police department needs a clear line of authority. “No military organization or paramilitary runs where you have confusion in the command structure. You just cannot have that. Lives are on the line,” he said in a question-and-answer session with reporters.

Emphasis mine. The NYPD is not a “military organization” or an “army,” much less Bloomberg’s “own army.” Nor is the NYPD a “paramilitary organization”–that would require the department to change its core function to supporting an actual military. The NYPD is a police department. New York, New York is a city, not a sovereign nation. The 14th Amendment says Bloomberg and his police are required to respect the Fourth Amendment. This is basic stuff. You’d think Bloomberg would know it.

As for his claim that federal supervision of a police department that regularly violates the constitutional rights of New Yorkers “would create confusion in the command structure”? New York cops say there’s plenty of that already, thanks to their union working with commanding officers to create confusing and possibly illegal quotas for stopping, frisking, and arresting minority residents. In the event that a federal court deems stop-and-frisk unconstitutional, there will be that much more confusion at the NYPD. Bringing in an outside body–one tasked with making sure the department respects the constitutional rights of New Yorkers–would provide the department with a much needed moral compass.

June 17, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

US Muslims sue to stop NYPD spying program

RT | June 6, 2012

Eight American Muslims have filed a federal lawsuit to put an end to a post-9/11 surveillance program run by the New York Police Department. The lawsuit follows a New Jersey Attorney General probe saying the NYPD had done nothing wrong.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Newark Wednesday by Muslim Advocates, a group who has taken up the New Jersey Muslims’ cause. The suit claims that identifying as Muslim does not constitute “a legitimate criterion” for law-enforcement officials to target individuals for surveillance.

“This case is critical to protecting the civil rights of American Muslims and all Americans,” Muslim Advocates legal director Glen Katon said.

New Jersey Representative Rush Holt called the lawsuit “a thoughtful, sensible step toward bringing law enforcement practices back into line with constitutional protections and the standards of good policing.”

It is the first such legal action to directly challenge the NYPD for spying on Muslims following the attacks of September 11, 2001. An Associated Press investigation last year uncovered a systematic surveillance program that put entire Muslim neighborhoods under a watchful eye, recording the every move of their residents. Undercover police infiltrated dozens of mosques and student groups while investigating scores more in New York City and neighboring New Jersey.

Records showed that police paid special attention to grocery stores that carried halal or kosher food products, eavesdropped on Muslim-owned stores, cafes and hair salons, placed Mosques under surveillance during Friday prayers, and even went so far as to photograph an elementary school for Muslim girls.

While New Jersey lawmakers were up in arms upon learning of the intrusive spying program, after a three month review, the state’s attorney found there was no legal means to stop the NYPD from carrying out their practice of targeting mosques, business and student groups for surveillance.

Both NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly and the city’s mayor Michael Bloomberg have supported the spying program, saying the information is obtained within departmental guidelines which are within constitutional bounds.

Kelly further stated that the 2001 attacks showed that the city could not rely solely on the federal government to provide for its security.
As it is, the program operates with limited oversight. The New York City Council claims it isn’t qualified to supervise intelligence operations, while Congress says the NYPD is out of its jurisdiction despite the billions in federal largesse the city receives each year.

Lawmakers and civil rights groups have urged the Justice Department to investigate the NYPD’s practices. A Justice Department spokeswoman said those requests were currently under review.

But Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, said state and federal stonewalling made the lawsuit inevitable.

“With New York officials refusing to look into the NYPD’s abuses, the New Jersey Attorney General saying his hands are tied, and the U.S. Department of Justice dragging its heels, this lawsuit is the victims’ last resort for justice to prevail.”

June 6, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Islamophobia | , , , , , | 3 Comments