by Kevin Kruse
In December 1940, as America was emerging from the Great Depression, more than 5,000 industrialists from across the nation made their yearly pilgrimage to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, convening for the annual meeting of the National Association of Manufacturers. The program promised an impressive slate of speakers: titans at General Motors, General Electric, Standard Oil, Mutual Life, and Sears, Roebuck; popular lecturers such as etiquette expert Emily Post and renowned philosopher-historian Will Durant; even FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Tucked away near the end of the program was a name few knew initially, but one everyone would be talking about by the convention’s end: Reverend James W. Fifield Jr.
by Robin McKie
It is popularly viewed as one of the greatest environmental success stories of modern times. Exactly 30 years ago, UK scientists announced they had discovered a hole in the ozone layer in the atmosphere above Antarctica.
The hole threatened to spread, allowing increased levels of cancer-causing radiation from the sun to reach the ground. Within a few years of the discovery it was agreed to set up the Montreal Protocol, which banned the manmade chemicals responsible for depleting ozone in the upper atmosphere.
by Darryl Parks
I had a conversation with a radio station general manager once…my boss. He wasn’t comfortable with the changes I was making to better our station. The station had a big, high powered signal and a modest four share. I said to him, “Given the power and size of the signal, I’ll need to think about how to take it lower than a four share.”
Lucky for me the changes worked. As my wife is one to say, “You sure were a “ballsy” individual back then.” I guess I have mellowed with age.
By The Editorial Board of The New York Times
April 17, 2015
New York City’s landmarks preservation law turns 50 on Sunday. Any who doubt its continuing significance should head to the West Side of Manhattan, to the building it came too late to save. Pennsylvania Station in 2015 is a monument to civic suffocation, a basement of low, dust-blackened ceilings, confusing corridors, beer-and-popcorn dealers, yowling buskers and trudging commuters.
Only the dented brasswork on some Long Island Rail Road stairways and some old photos in the Amtrak waiting area point to the half-forgotten memory of something far better that used to occupy the space.
The old Penn Station’s destruction, unthinkable until it happened in 1963, galvanized public support for a law to slow the city’s blistering pace of architectural erasure. But even that crime wasn’t enough; it took the demolition in 1965 of the Brokaw houses, a set of grand old mansions on Fifth Avenue at 79th Street, to propel the bill off Mayor Robert Wagner’s desk and into law. It created a preservation commission with teeth, to guard the city’s memory.
Half a century later, how are those teeth holding up? The answers are contradictory.
Thousands of buildings, from brownstones to modernist skyscrapers, irreplaceable historic interiors and entire neighborhoods from Staten Island to the Bronx enjoy the law’s protection. In Manhattan, 27 percent of buildings have landmark status, though the percentage is far lower in the other boroughs.
The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, while on a mission to make the city denser and taller for affordable housing, says it is committed to finding and saving the architectural legacy citywide. It points to its recent designations, including: a children’s library in Brownsville, Tudor Revival townhouses in Flatbush and early 20th-century working-class housing in Ridgewood.
Despite these successes, the law is not being used aggressively enough, has never met its potential, and has let too many precious buildings languish or be leveled while saving architectural mediocrities. The Landmarks Preservation Commission, with one of the tiniest budgets and staffs of any city agency, has had a bush-league reputation. Mr. de Blasio and his landmarks chairwoman, Meenakshi Srinivasan, have pledged to revitalize it, but have not yet shown how they will reconcile the commission’s mission with the administration’s broader goals of enhancing equality and diversity in the flesh-and-blood city.
Real estate developers remain a potent enemy of historic preservation, while the commission struggles with improving day-to-day efficiency. It spends nearly half its time handling paperwork for existing landmarks, and it operates under a bureaucratic conundrum: The more landmarks it makes, the more work it has. How it will improve its range and effectiveness with limited money -$5.7 million in the 2015 fiscal year – remains uncertain.
The city is going to have to live with those contradictions. Demolition can be both evil and essential in New York, as in any great city. Mr. de Blasio is right to seek a blistering pace of new construction, to try to build his way out of the affordable-housing shortage. Preservationists are right to resist him, in pursuit of the ideal – a city where wisdom guides planning, to avoid future lamentation over what we could have saved.
Mr. de Blasio has the primary responsibility to make this all work. He appoints the landmarks commission and its leader; it is she who decides what the commission considers. Ms. Srinivasan is a talented architect and planner, though she dismayed preservationists last year by proposing to summarily strike dozens of properties from the commission’s long list of potential landmarks in the name of efficiency. Faced with fury over lack of consultation, she retreated and invited months of public comment.
The administration says the commission has already designated as landmarks almost 1,700 buildings and sites this fiscal year, but some preservationists still say they worry that the administration is not fully committed to the spirit of the preservation law. To prove them wrong, Mr. de Blasio needs to keep the commission adequately funded. Ms. Srinivasan needs to guard the commission’s independence and strengthen its connection to the community. The goal above all should be a city that knows and honors its past, but does not live under glass.
That delicate balance was shattered by the wrecking ball at the old Pennsylvania Station. It was “a public object, in the realest sense,” The Nation’s architecture critic once wrote. “Little pieces of thousands of lives can be recalled there.” In the neglected dungeon that replaced it, little pieces of thousands of lives are bruised every day.
The landmarks law gains its moral force from the engagement of the public. Ada Louise Huxtable, The Times’s architecture critic whose columns helped awaken the city to the need for a strong preservation law, marveled in 1974 at how swiftly preservation had moved from “an odd and harmless hobby of little old ladies in floppy hats who liked old houses” into what she called “an integral, administrative part of city government dealing with an essential part of the city’s fabric.” An “environmental necessity,” she called it, getting it exactly right.
by Sophie McAdam
Last Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report linking glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, to cancer. While this news might not surprise many of us, Monsanto are demanding a retraction of this damning verdict, claiming that the WHO ‘have something to explain’.
The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) had reviewed scientific literature and decided to classify glyphosate as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’. This is great news in the fight against Big-Ag, but it would be naive to expect Monsanto to lie down and take it on the chin.
by Paul Buchheit
America’s wealth grew by 60 percent in the past six years, by over $30 trillion. In approximately the same time, the number of homeless children has also grown by 60 percent.
Financier and CEO Peter Schiff said, “People don’t go hungry in a capitalist economy.” The 16 million kids on food stamps know what it’s like to go hungry. Perhaps, some in Congress would say, those children should be working. “There is no such thing as a free lunch,” insisted Georgia Representative Jack Kingston, even for schoolkids, who should be required to “sweep the floor of the cafeteria” (as they actually do at a charter school in Texas).
Harold Koh’s Lesser Known Resume
Work–in–Progress [Please feel free to contact and help us expand this alternative resume]
In response to the few faculty who have responded to the concerns raised in our petition with eulogies to Mr. Koh’s human rights record, we have included below information about Mr. Koh’s lesser-known actions in service of the U.S. government.
Harold Hongju Koh
Yale Law School
P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520
by Christopher Brennan
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is facing accusations that it is ‘whitewashing’ possible Saudi Arabian involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
A commission designed to review evidence about the world-changing bombings has not delved into an FBI agent’s claims that a Saudi Florida family had ties to the hijackers after the agency said that the report was ‘unsubstantiated’.
London-based oil executive linked to 9/11 hijackers
by Anthony Summers
Abdulaziz al-Hijji and his wife Anoud left three cars at their luxurious home in a gated community in Sarasota, Florida — one of them new — and flew to Saudi Arabia in August 2001. The refrigerator was full of food; furniture and clothing were left behind; and the swimming pool water was still circulating.
Security records of cars passing through a checkpoint at the Prestancia gated community indicated that Mr al-Hijji’s home, 4224 Escondito Circle, had been visited a number of times by Mohamed Atta, the leader of the 19-strong hijack team, who piloted American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Centre in 2001.
by Gary Trudeau
My career—I guess I can officially call it that now—was not my idea. When my editor, Jim Andrews, recruited me out during my junior year in college and gave me the job I still hold, it wasn’t clear to me what he was up to. Inexplicably, he didn’t seem concerned that I was short on the technical skills normally associated with creating a comic strip—it was my perspective he was interested in, my generational identity. He saw the sloppy draftsmanship as a kind of cartoon vérité, dispatches from the front, raw and subversive.
Why were they so subversive? Well, mostly because I didn’t know any better. My years in college had given me the completely false impression that there were no constraints, that it was safe for an artist to comment on volatile cultural and political issues in public. In college, there’s no down side. In the real world, there is, but in the euphoria of being recognized for anything, you don’t notice it at first. Indeed, one of the nicer things about youthful cluelessness is that it’s so frequently confused with courage.
“While We Were Sleeping”
Orwell Rolls In His Grave, featuring MCM – Buy the DVD
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