Saturday, February 25, 2012

Eagle Theater Marquee Demolished

The Marquee To The Eagle Theater Was Demolished Today ; This Spring, The Eagle Will Become A South Asian Grocery Store.

From The New York Daily News :

A 1930s-era movie theater in Jackson Heights that became a porn palace before showing Bollywood flicks is about to experience its most radical reincarnation.

A large South Asian grocery store and food court is slated to open this spring in the gutted shell of the Eagle Theater in the heart of Queens’ Little India.

In preparation for the spring opening, the Eagle's marquee was demolished today.

Demolition-of-Eagle-Theater-Marquee-Front-View, Demolition-of-Eagle-Theater-Marquee-Front-View

Here is a side view of the marquee, which was being torn down.

Demolition-of-Eagle-Theater-Marquee-Side-View, Demolition-of-Eagle-Theater-Marquee-Side-View

The new public plaza in Jackson Heights will continue to evolve, as the store fronts change.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Krugman, Phelps, Sachs, and Soros Join In Global Economic Crisis Panel

The panelists last night, from left to right : Paul Krugman, Edmund Phelps, Robert Silvers, Jeffrey D. Sachs, and some guy named George Soros.

At the Metropolitan Museum, economists examined the growing global economic crisis.

The New York Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman said last night during his opening remarks that the U.S. federal government needed to undertake a real form of economic stimulus or intervention, in order to end the impact of the current global economic crisis on the U.S. economy. Mr. Krugman was espousing Keynesian-like economic stimulus. Mr. Krugman said that what we lacked in the United States was political will and intellectual capacity, in order to create a truly effective stimulus plan.

Mr. Krugman was speaking at a panel discussion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which had been organised by The New York Review of Books and the Fritt Ord Foundation of Oslo. The panel was moderated by Robert Silvers, the editor of The NYRB, who, at times, was crotchety. The other distinguished panelists included Edmund Phelps, an economics professor at Columbia University, the economist Jeffrey Sachs, and the billionaire investor George Soros.

Professor Phelps read from a long set of prepared remarks, in an even academic monotone, and when his reading dragged on, Mr. Krugman began to fuss with his glass of drinking water, and Mr. Krugman even checked the time on his smartphone. Professor Phelps dissed economists, who espoused Keynesian economics by repeating the disparaging terms : "crude Keynesian economics." To say that Professor Phelps was more than just a little flip, and more than just a little boring, would be an understatement. Later, during the discussion when each panelist was able to comment on each other's remarks, Mr. Krugman said that if anybody called him a "crude Keynesian economist," then Mr. Krugman would take that person out and punch him in the nose.

When it came time for Mr. Sachs to deliver his initial remarks, he questioned whether the economic crisis we were in was truly global. He cited exceptions, such as the economic growth in China and India, as evidence that the entire "globe" was not in an economic crisis. But then, when began to recite specific statistics, Mr. Sachs cited the lower rates of growth that China and India were experiencing. Mr. Sachs added that the middle class are being squeezed, and he said that the nation deserved better than the politically-motivated tax cuts that Congress and the Obama administration are fighting over.

Mr. Soros said that he believed that economics, as a science, has lost an appreciation for facts. He added that the U.S. economy should look for new ways to create an economy for the future. One controversial idea he had was to invest in the shale oil industry. Although the audience was primarily liberal, nobody screamed "boos" at Mr. Soros's idea.

In the discussion amongst the panelists that followed, the topic of the European economic crisis came up. The U.S. exports so little of its goods to Europe now that if European demand were to collapse, the U.S. economy wouldn't be so much at risk, it was said. But Mr. Soros described the global financial industry as being paralysed. Mr. Krugman and Mr. Sachs jointly praised the European Central Bank for supporting the Euro by flooding the European financial system with liquidity.

When it came time for the audience to ask questions, Mr. Silvers, in a snobby fit, refused to take any questions from audience members sitting up in the mezzanine. The billionaire Koch brothers must have sent a plant to the panel discussion, because an audience member asked why the U.S. was hell-bent on passing more regulation -- why couldn't the U.S. be more like Hong Kong or Singapore, which have low marginal tax rates and no regulation. Mr. Krugman was quick to dismiss the question, and the question-poser.

Most of the evening seemed to focus about the collapse of the U.S. housing market, which, combined with the financial industry bailout, has sucked out the stamina from the U.S. economy. But another important subtext to the economic collapse has been the shrinking non-security discretionary federal budget, as a percentage of GDP. Mr. Sachs said that since the time when Ronald Reagan said that the government was the problem, the national political forces have been on a relentless attack on decreasing the amount of money being invested in education, job training, and other important aspects of society, which lead to the uplifting of the poor and middle class.

In another part of his extemporaneous remarks, Mr. Soros added that he was blown away not by the amount of money that the right wing has spent on spreading the propaganda that government doesn't work, but, rather, by the fact that they were so effective with their messaging that government doesn't work, so much so that people have become cynical about government. Mr. Soros implied that people, who worked in government and who were politically left of center, needed to learn to counter the right wing's messaging.

One person up in the mezzanine, who never got to ask his question, said he wanted to ask the panelists to comment on what role did the expense of the George Walker Bush wars have on the U.S. treasury and on the larger economy ?

Another person, who never got to ask his question, said that he wanted to ask Mr. Krugman and Mr. Sachs about whether it would be a good idea, in the absence of a real form of government stimulus and intervention, for the Federal Reserve to undertake another large quantitative easing and trigger hyperinflation, which could shrink in real dollar terms the size of the federal budget that is committed to debt service.

At the end of the discussion, Mr. Soros distributed complimentary copies of his new book, Financial Turmoil in Europe and the United States. The other panelists sold copies of their books at the end of the program.

Petition to Save Chelsea Market

Updated 18 June 2012 : Save Chelsea From Christine Quinn

Oppose the Plan to Rezone Chelsea Market

From :

The new owners of Chelsea Market are seeking a zoning change to allow them to build a very large office building atop the 10th Avenue end of the complex, and a very large hotel on the 9th Avenue end. Currently they cannot build more upon this already very densely-developed site, and this will only happen if they convince the Borough President, the City Planning Commission, and the City Council to change the zoning regulations for their block to allow them to build (for images of the proposed additions to Chelsea Market, see here.

The Chelsea Market complex, built in stages from the late 19th through the early 20th centuries as a factory for Nabisco, is a stunningly successful example of adaptive re-use, which respected the history of these buildings while giving them new life. This new plan would undo that respectful relationship, as these huge new additions would literally loom over the historic buildings as well as the nearby High Line park.

Additionally, the surrounding West Chelsea and Meatpacking District neighborhoods have developed tremendously in recent years; in the case of West Chelsea, this is because the City upzoned the neighborhood in 2005 to encourage the tremendous amount of development seen around there now. This part of Chelsea and the Meatpacking District do NOT need a further upzoning that would add traffic and shadows, ruin a historic complex, and further tip the balance of this neighborhood towards commercialization and overly-dense, large-scale development.

As usual, activists are worried that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, City Planning Socialite Amanda Burden, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stinger will betray the community by approving the FAR Rezoning of Chelsea Market.

Quinn NYU Expansion Protest

There will be a protest against City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on Thursday, February 23, 2012, from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m., at 151-155 Sullivan Street (below Houston) at St. Anthony of Padua Church. Hundreds of New York City voters in Speaker Quinn's city council district are expected to participate in a rally and press conference at a public hearing to express their dismay about major real estate development (the irresponsible NYU Expansion Plans and the billion-dollar luxury condo and townhouse conversion of St. Vincent's Hospital) in Greenwich Village -- development which will undoubtedly be supported by Speaker Quinn, given her track record of repaying her estate donors at the expense of local communities in New York City. Check out a related flyer :New York University Expansion Protest Flyer GVSHP

Should Rick Santorum Put An Aspirin Between His Lips ?

Maybe Rick Santorum Needs To Put Aspirin Between His Lips, So He Wouldn't Go Down On Phallic-Shaped Objects -- So Much.

Foster Friess, below, the scandalous billionaire fundraiser to former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) for President, has advocated a return to old-fashioned uses of contraception.

Mr. Friess told Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC that, time was, women used to put an aspirin between their legs to discourage sexual intercourse.

Maybe Mr. Friess can advise Mr. Santorum, right, to put an aspirin between his lips, to discourage oral fixations.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

HHC $2 Million Consultant Contract

Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Chair of the New York City Council Health Committee, is silent about the $2 million consulting contract.

From The New York Times :

More than a year ago, the city’s public hospital system announced that it would create a management structure for its medical staff that would centralize a fragmented system and save millions of dollars.

As part of that plan, the hospital system agreed to pay Navigant, a consulting company, nearly $2 million a year for the services of two consultants, one of them part time, according to a copy of a contract obtained this week by The New York Times.

The contract says that Navigant would be paid $1.95 million to cover “professional fees, travel and living expenses” for the services of two people: Dr. Marc A. Bard, a Boston-based physician and health care management consultant, who was required to be in New York four and a half to five days a week, and Martin Rosenberg, a consultant based in Atlanta, who was required to be in New York one day a week.

Dr. Bard resigned this week, though it was not immediately clear why. Some doctors had privately complained about the high level of compensation being drawn from a financially strained system serving the city’s poor. Dr. Bard and Mr. Rosenberg did not respond to phone and e-mail requests for comment. It was not clear if Mr. Rosenberg was still consulting for the city’s hospital system.

A spokesman for Navigant said he would defer to the city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation. Ana Marengo, a spokeswoman for the corporation, said in an e-mail that Dr. Bard and the management “came to a mutual understanding that this is a good time to transition to new, permanent leadership.”

The consultants’ job was to manage doctors for a newly created professional corporation, the Physician Affiliate Group of New York, known as Pagny.

It employs about 2,000 doctors and other professional staff members at six city hospitals and negotiates their salaries and benefits.

The detailed 17-page contract promises to create a professional corporation that would “influence the market,” and it promises to do this “while forming a culture that is open, entrepreneurial and fun.” The contract also says that Navigant “cannot guarantee or assure the achievement of any particular performance objective.”

When the hospitals corporation announced the formation of Pagny, in September 2010, Alan Aviles, the system’s chief, said it was part of a long-term plan to gain more control over the running of the hospitals.

Many hospital networks have been planning for a shift toward so-called accountable-care organizations, a new system in which hospitals’ insurance payments will be tied to patient outcomes.

Traditionally, many of the city’s public hospitals have had contracts with medical schools allowing the schools to hire and fire doctors, and imposing a buffer between the corporation and its employees.

Pagny now employs the doctors at Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, Metropolitan and Harlem hospitals in Manhattan, and Jacobi, North Central Bronx and Lincoln hospitals in the Bronx.

Dr. Bard’s role was to run Pagny.

“We were fortunate to secure a founding C.E.O. with a leading reputation in A.C.O.’s and the support of the Navigant organization to build a new organization infrastructure from the ground up,” Ms. Marengo said.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Whitney Houston dead at 48

On eve of Grammy Awards, singer Whitney Houston has died. The cause of death and location are not yet known.

From CBS News : (AP) LOS ANGELES - Whitney Houston, who ruled as pop music's queen until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, has died. She was 48.

Houston's publicist, Kristen Foster, said Saturday that the singer had died, but the cause and the location of her death were unknown.

News of Houston's death came on the eve of music's biggest night — the Grammy Awards. It's a showcase where she once reigned, and her death was sure to case a heavy pall on Sunday's ceremony. Houston's longtime mentor Clive Davis was to hold his annual concert and dinner Saturday; it was unclear if it was going to go forward.

At her peak, Houston was the golden girl of the music industry. From the middle 1980s to the late 1990s, she was one of the world's best-selling artists. She wowed audiences with effortless, powerful, and peerless vocals that were rooted in the black church but made palatable to the masses with a pop sheen.

Her success carried her beyond music to movies, where she starred in hits like "The Bodyguard" and "Waiting to Exhale."

She had the he perfect voice, and the perfect image: a gorgeous singer who had sex appeal but was never overtly sexual, who maintained perfect poise.

She influenced a generation of younger singers, from Christina Aguilera to Mariah Carey, who when she first came out sounded so much like Houston that many thought it was Houston.

But by the end of her career, Houston became a stunning cautionary tale of the toll of drug use. Her album sales plummeted and the hits stopped coming; her once serene image was shattered by a wild demeanor and bizarre public appearances. She confessed to abusing cocaine, marijuana and pills, and her once pristine voice became raspy and hoarse, unable to hit the high notes as she had during her prime.

"The biggest devil is me. I'm either my best friend or my worst enemy," Houston told ABC's Diane Sawyer in an infamous 2002 interview with then-husband Brown by her side.

It was a tragic fall for a superstar who was one of the top-selling artists in pop music history, with more than 55 million records sold in the United States alone.

She seemed to be born into greatness. She was the daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston, the cousin of 1960s pop diva Dionne Warwick and the goddaughter of Aretha Franklin.

Houston first started singing in the church as a child. In her teens, she sang backup for Chaka Khan, Jermaine Jackson and others, in addition to modeling. It was around that time when music mogul Clive Davis first heard Houston perform.

"The time that I first saw her singing in her mother's act in a club ... it was such a stunning impact," Davis told "Good Morning America."

"To hear this young girl breathe such fire into this song. I mean, it really sent the proverbial tingles up my spine," he added.

Before long, the rest of the country would feel it, too. Houston made her album debut in 1985 with "Whitney Houston," which sold millions and spawned hit after hit. "Saving All My Love for You" brought her her first Grammy, for best female pop vocal. "How Will I Know," "You Give Good Love" and "The Greatest Love of All" also became hit singles.

Another multiplatinum album, "Whitney," came out in 1987 and included hits like "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody."

The New York Times wrote that Houston "possesses one of her generation's most powerful gospel-trained voices, but she eschews many of the churchier mannerisms of her forerunners. She uses ornamental gospel phrasing only sparingly, and instead of projecting an earthy, tearful vulnerability, communicates cool self-assurance and strength, building pop ballads to majestic, sustained peaks of intensity."

Her decision not to follow the more soulful inflections of singers like Franklin drew criticism by some who saw her as playing down her black roots to go pop and reach white audiences. The criticism would become a constant refrain through much of her career. She was even booed during the "Soul Train Awards" in 1989.

"Sometimes it gets down to that, you know?" she told Katie Couric in 1996. "You're not black enough for them. I don't know. You're not R&B enough. You're very pop. The white audience has taken you away from them."

Some saw her 1992 marriage to former New Edition member and soul crooner Bobby Brown as an attempt to refute those critics. It seemed to be an odd union; she was seen as pop's pure princess while he had a bad-boy image, and already had children of his own. (The couple had a daughter, Bobbi Kristina, in 1993.) Over the years, he would be arrested several times, on charges ranging from DUI to failure to pay child support.

But Houston said their true personalities were not as far apart as people may have believed.

"When you love, you love. I mean, do you stop loving somebody because you have different images? You know, Bobby and I basically come from the same place," she told Rolling Stone in 1993. "You see somebody, and you deal with their image, that's their image. It's part of them, it's not the whole picture. I am not always in a sequined gown. I am nobody's angel. I can get down and dirty. I can get raunchy."

It would take several years, however, for the public to see that side of Houston. Her moving 1991 rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl, amid the first Gulf War, set a new standard and once again reaffirmed her as America's sweetheart.

In 1992, she became a star in the acting world with "The Bodyguard." Despite mixed reviews, the story of a singer (Houston) guarded by a former Secret Service agent (Kevin Costner) was an international success.

It also gave her perhaps her most memorable hit: a searing, stunning rendition of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You," which sat atop the charts for weeks. It was Grammy's record of the year and best female pop vocal, and the "Bodyguard" soundtrack was named album of the year.

She returned to the big screen in 1995-96 with "Waiting to Exhale" and "The Preacher's Wife." Both spawned soundtrack albums, and another hit studio album, "My Love Is Your Love," in 1998, brought her a Grammy for best female R&B vocal for the cut "It's Not Right But It's Okay."

But during these career and personal highs, Houston was using drugs. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2010, she said by the time "The Preacher's Wife" was released, "(doing drugs) was an everyday thing. ... I would do my work, but after I did my work, for a whole year or two, it was every day. ... I wasn't happy by that point in time. I was losing myself."

In the interview, Houston blamed her rocky marriage to Brown, which included a charge of domestic abuse against Brown in 1993. They divorced in 2007.

Houston would go to rehab twice before she would declare herself drug-free to Winfrey in 2010. But in the interim, there were missed concert dates, a stop at an airport due to drugs, and public meltdowns.

She was so startlingly thin during a 2001 Michael Jackson tribute concert that rumors spread she had died the next day. Her crude behavior and jittery appearance on Brown's reality show, "Being Bobby Brown," was an example of her sad decline. Her Sawyer interview, where she declared "crack is whack," was often parodied. She dropped out of the spotlight for a few years.

Houston staged what seemed to be a successful comeback with the 2009 album "I Look To You." The album debuted on the top of the charts, and would eventually go platinum.

Things soon fell apart. A concert to promote the album on "Good Morning America" went awry as Houston's voice sounded ragged and off-key. She blamed an interview with Winfrey for straining her voice.

A world tour launched overseas, however, only confirmed suspicions that Houston had lost her treasured gift, as she failed to hit notes and left many fans unimpressed; some walked out. Canceled concert dates raised speculation that she may have been abusing drugs, but she denied those claims and said she was in great shape, blaming illness for cancellations.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ramarley Graham Murdered By NYPD

NYPD Undercover Police Kill An Unarmed Teen -- Sparks Outrage In New York City

Ramarley Graham, 18, was shot and killed in his grandmother's Bronx apartment in yet another example of NYPD's aggressive police tactics that targets and murders innocent men of colour. The police officer responsible for this latest murder has been identified as Richard Haste. Video by Gary Anthony Ramsay from PressTV.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Rudin Luxury Condos Anger Activists

The Rudin Family : The New Robber Barons ?

Jason Sheftell, a real estate promoter, published an editorial in The New York Daily News, in which he reported some facts and some half-truths about the controversial closing of St. Vincent's Hospital and the Rudin family's luxury condo conversion of the hospital's real estate properties.

"Local activists, who blame the pro-development city forces for the loss of the hospital, hold vigils outside the building," wrote Mr. Sheftell, in his real estate column about the dangers of the Rudin luxury condo conversion plan.

Mr. Sheftell noted that with the closing of St. Vincent's Hospital, the response and transport times by ambulance or EMS will put people's lives in jeopardy. "It’ll take 12 minutes longer to get to a hospital in an emergency. That could spell death for heart attack or stroke victims."

But Mr. Sheftell claims that activists are not targeting the Rudin family, which is false. Activists have been bird-dogging the figurehead of the Rudin family : Bill Rudin, and other activists have launched entire Facebook pages and events around the tarnished Rudin family name.

Not only that, but it was reported that the Manhattan District Attorney was investigating whether the Rudin family was criminally involved in St. Vincent's Hospital's demise, so that the Family could make hundreds of millions of dollars from the luxury condo conversion. At some point, if it hasn't yet already, the Rudin family name will become synonymous with the pejorative : "robber baron."

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Rudin Asbestos Kills

Do Protesters Have To Leave A Coffin Outside St. Vincent's, To Demonstrate How Deadly The Rudin Luxury Condo Plan Really Is ?

Bill-Rudin-Asbestos-Kills-Coffin-Luxury-Condos, Bill-Rudin-Asbestos-Kills-Coffin-Luxury-Condos-Protests

The people, who live around the Rudin Luxury Condo Conversion Project at St. Vincent's Hospital, will live a life of a nightmare for years : they will be living next to a major construction project that will stir up asbestos, rodents, noise, and other construction-related pollution. And this is not even taking into consideration the fact that the luxury condominiums and townhouses are replacing a full-service hospital, meaning, that there is no no where to go if residents (including the luxury condo buyers) have asthma attacks, heart attacks, strokes, or trauma. All this courtesy of Seventh Avenue Socialite Amanda Burden and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.