Archive for the ‘New York City’ Category

>About the mosque

August 16, 2010


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This is the first amendment to our Constitution. Part of our Bill of Rights.

That is really all that needs to be said, but you know me.

If we were going to let “being offended” keep things from happening, I would not have to shamefully pass this every time I drive to Montgomery.

But that offensive huge flag is on private land so nobody raised hell about it. But I am offended and I am sure many African Americans and fair minded whites are offended by it.

We are not at war with Islam, I need to remind you. And this proposed building is not really a Mosque, it is a community center. And its not “on the site” of the fallen towers, its blocks away.

And the ground around the fallen towers is not “hallowed ground,” as bars, porn shops and liquor stores surround the site. I’ve been there. I know.

Picture credit New York Daily News

Again, playing on fear and ignorance, the Professional Right is trying to scare people into voting for the Teabaggers. To use the words of the Bessemer conservative, “Grow Up.”

Now if I were a Muslim leader in New York City I would choose another site out of compassion for the families of the vicitims of 9-11. But I doubt that the MIC (Muslim in Charge) has much compassion, as their religion is not built upon the life and teachings of a compassionate individual like ours is*. And I’m also pretty sure they love all the fuss and divisiveness they are causing. Teabaggers and Muslims on the same page, dividing this country. Lol, who’d a thunk it?

*Disclaimer: Hard to recognize that Christianity is built on the life and teachings of Jesus when you look at how they act sometimes.

>Health Care Reform – mandates from 1798

March 30, 2010

>History is a wonderful thing. Not that it’s always pretty, but there is so much to learn.

Thanks Mooncat and Paul.

Take Health Care reform, for instance. People like Alabama Attorney General Troy King are claiming the new health care reform, signed into law by President Barack Obama, runs afoul of the Constitution.

“These are the oldest victims I’ve ever been called on to defend. They are the founding fathers, the people who wrote the founding documents of this country, and they have been hurt,” he said.

One of those founding fathers was John Adams. In July 1798 President Adams signed into law “An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen,” a bill which had been passed by Congress.

This bill created the marine hospital service. How was the marine hospital service funded? By mandating that privately employed sailors purchase health care insurance, from which the proceeds were turned over to the hospitals.

Marine Hospital Service Stapleton Staten Island in 1887

Each ship’s owner was required to deduct 20 cents from each sailor’s monthly pay, and this money was channeled to the hospitals that provided care for the sailors.

Furthermore, failure to comply was discouraged by fining the ship’s owners or captains $100 for each infraction.

Here is the bill that founding father John Adams signed into law. Highlights are mine.

CHAP. LXXVII – An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen

Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled –
That from and after the first day of September next, the master or owner of every ship
or vessel of the United States, arriving from a foreign port into any
port of the United States, shall, before such ship or vessel shall be
admitted to an entry, render to the collector a true account of the
number of seamen, that shall have been employed on board such vessel
since she was last entered at any port in the United States,-and shall
pay to the said collector, at the rate of twenty cents per month for every
seaman so employed
; which sum he is hereby authorized to retain out
of the wages
of such seamen.

SEC2. . And be it further enacted, That from and after the first day
of September next, no collector shall grant to any ship or vessel whose
enrolment or license for carrying on the coasting trade has expired, a
new enrolment or license before the master of such ship or vessel shall
first render a true account to the collector, of the number of seamen,
and the time they have severally been employed on board such ship or
vessel, during the continuance of the license which has so expired, and
pay to such collector twenty cents per month for every month such
seamen have been severally employed, as aforesaid; which sum the said
master is hereby authorized to retain out of the wages of such seamen.
And if any such master shall render a false account of the number of men, and the length of time they have severally been employed, as is herein required, he shall forfeit and pay one hundred dollars.

SEC3. . And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the
several collectors to make a quarterly return of the sums collected by
them, respectively, by virtue of this act, to the Secretary of the Treasury;
and the President of the United States is hereby authorized, out of the same, to provide for the temporary relief and maintenance of sick or
disabled seamen, in the hospitals
or other proper institutions now established
in the several ports of the United States, or, in ports where no
such institutions exist, then in such other manner as he shall direct:
Provided, that the monies collected in any one district, shall be expended
within the same.

SEC. 4. .And be it further enacted, That if any surplus shall remain
of the monies to be collected by virtue of this act, after defraying the
expense of such temporary relief and support, that the same, together ,
with such private donations as may be made for that purpose (which the
President is hereby authorized to receive) shall be invested in the stock
of the United States, under the direction of the President; and when,
in his opinion, a sufficient fund shall be accumulated, he is hereby
authorized to purchase or receive cessions or donations of ground or
provision for buildings, in the name of the United States, and to cause buildings,
when necessary, to be erected as hospitals for the accommodation of sick and disabled seamen.

SEC5. . And be it further enacted, That the President of the United
States be, and he is hereby authorized to nominate and appoint, in
such ports of the United States, as he may think proper, one or more
persons, to be called directors of the marine hospital of the United
States, whose duty it shall be to direct the expenditure of the fund
assigned for their respective ports, according to the third section of this
act; to provide for the accommodation of sick and disabled seamen,
under such general instructions as shall be given by, the President of
the United States, for that purpose, and also subject to the like general
instructions, to direct and govern such hospitals as the President may
direct to be built in the respective ports: and that the said directors
shall hold their offices during the pleasure of the President, who is
authorized to fill up all vacancies that may be occasioned by the death
or removal of any of the persons so to be appointed. And the said
directors shall render an account of the monies received and expended
by them, once in every quarter of a year, to the Secretary of the Treasury,
or such other person as the President shall direct; but no other
allowance or compensation shall be made to the said directors, except
the payment of such expenses as they may incur in the actual discharge
of the duties required by this act.

APPROVED July 16, 1798.

The tax rate later was increased to 40 cents per month, and was discontinued in 1884. From 1884 until 1906 the cost of running the marine hospitals was paid from a tonnage tax on vessels entering the country. From 1906 until the hospitals were closed in 1981, they were funded by direct appropriations from congress. NIH reference

Here is a modern day ship in New York harbor. These pictures were taken during our trip to New York last year.

>Immigrants – Western Tribune column July 1 2009

July 1, 2009

>Once again I get to add photos to my Western Tribune column for effect. Whatcha think?

One cannot approach the Statue of Liberty and look up at her endless gaze across the sea without trying to put oneself in the place of the thousands of immigrants that made that same approach a century ago. “From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome” the famous poem by Emma Lazurus says.

Forty percent of Americans can trace their ancestry to Ellis Island which was the first stop those immigrants made when coming to our country. The rest of us, unless we are 100% Native American, also have immigrant roots.

There is no hard line rhetoric against the descendants of the European immigrants today. That tone is reserved for the immigrants who come not across the sea, but across the desert.

Yet those of Hispanic origin who enter our country today do so for the same reasons and suffer similar hardship as those who came seeking a better life so long ago. No one can blame them for that.

The fears surrounding the immigration debate are unfounded. One of those fears is about language, but a look at New York City’s history dispels that fear.

New York City began as a Dutch colony; New Amsterdam. Presumably, the language spoken was Dutch. After the English gained control, at some point, the principal language became English. However, when Chinese immigrants populated an area, they retained their language, which is still evident as one walks through Chinatown where all the signs are written in Chinese.

The mother of a friend of mine has lived in New York City for decades yet still speaks only Italian. In other words, people do just fine when exposed to an additional language in their culture.

Yet in Albertville and other cities people are up in arms because Hispanic business owners want to have storefront signs in Spanish.

These silly debates about language are an expression of the prejudice that some people have against people who are different. For those people, I offer a challenge.

Travel to New York, get on the ferry and visit Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Develop a little empathy by learning about the history of immigration and imagine that the many languages you hear from fellow tourists represent the many origins of immigrants that make up our ancestors.

Then imagine where you would be today if your immigrant ancestors had been turned away.

You might not be so quick to condemn today’s immigrants.

>40 Years Ago

June 28, 2009

>Forty years ago today I was most likely at Wald Park swimming pool with my friends and my thoughts were most likely directed toward my upcoming written test and learner’s permit that I was looking forward to. Can you say “Ford Falcon?”

But in New York City a landmark event took place on this date in 1969. The Stonewall Riots took place after police raided The Stonewall Inn (sometimes June 27 is named but the response to the raid really began in the early morning hours of the 28th). Here is how the Inn looked this week. It’s really an unassuming little place, but it was packed the night we visited.

The Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village was a gathering spot for gays, lesbians and transgender people and raids on such establishments were common. Bar owners were often tipped off about the raids, and the lights would come on and customers would stop any suggestive behavior before the raid began. Sometimes.

On this particular night the clientele got fed up and an uprising occurred. This account at Wikipedia is as good as any of what happened, with good pictures and links.

There is no doubt that the actions of those brave men and women began the movement which is finally beginning to see some progress (although slowly) with the Obama administration.

In New York at the Public Library next to Bryant Park is an exhibit titled 1969 The Year of Gay Liberation.

Inside, the exhibit is on the second floor.

Display cases hold letters written by activists and newspaper articles, photographs and mementos of the event and the following weeks. In runs through the end of June.

The Stonewall Inn is on Christopher Street and is across from Christopher Park, where homeless youth (probably kicked out of their homes for being gay) and others hung out. Now the park is clean and is home to George Segal’s art piece titled “Gay Liberation” of a lesbian couple and a gay male couple. They are cast in bronze and painted white.

You might remember this park from the movie “Big Daddy.” This is the park where Adam Sandler taught the kid to spit. But I digress. (And I will have to watch the movie again to confirm this).

This park has been a gay hangout for decades, and it is said that gay sailors sought R & R here during World War II.

Anyway, today is a day to reflect and to celebrate. We’ve come a long way, baby, but we’ve still got a long way to go.