Dan King joins 710 WOR (NYC) to speak with Joe Bartlett about the proliferation of Stingray technology for broad surveillance. The original intent was for foreign terror investigations but it has become a tool for homeland monitoring as well as immigration enforcement.
Advocate Matthew Tyrmand was interviewed by Michel Rachon on the show Wolne Glosy on TV Republika. He discussed a ban from the NYC consulate, an undercover sting video by James O’Keefe, the RTMx, and the corrupt political class.
You can watch the full interview in Polish below.
If you’d like to book Matthew or any other Advocate, please contact Young Voices.
Sheldon Silver, the New York State Assembly’s speaker for the past 21 years, was indicted last month for taking millions in kickbacks from the real-estate lobby, among other special interests. These allegations, if true, reveal a dark truth for Democratic voters — and not just that they have been supporting a crook: Silver, whose district resides at the southern tip of Manhattan and contains neighborhoods both rich and poor, repaid his constituents for two decades of reelection by corrupting the NYC real-estate market with unnecessary tax subsidies.
According to the federal complaint against Silver, he is accused of taking approximately $4 million in kickbacks, most of it from real-estate interests, in exchange for granting favors via the assembly’s role in two development programs — 421-a and 80/20. 421-a provides substantial tax exemptions for developers that create new residential buildings and reserve 20 percent of the units for affordable housing, or that, in lieu of creating affordable housing on-site, create it elsewhere or buy “certificates” from other developers that do. The 80/20 program similarly offers tax-exempt financing and credits to new residential developments that make available 20 percent of the on-site units at an affordable rent for a negotiated period of time.
These programs began in the 1960s and 1970s and at first may have seemed like a typical progressive plan to help the poor. But recently, they have mainly done the opposite. Today, the programs do encourage some affordable-housing growth in the city’s outer boroughs, but they do so at the cost of spurring the growth of high-income housing in the areas where rents — and the threat of gentrification — are already highest. This pushes the poor and middle class out of their homes, a problem that has been especially pronounced with 421-a.
As the New York City population — and thus the demand for housing — skyrocketed over the past decade or so, developers began using the credits to subsidize their luxury buildings with credits from elsewhere. According to the New York Observer, “outer-borough builders earn four or five certificates for each unit of affordable housing they produce, and then sell the paper for $12,000 to $20,000 each to Manhattan developers to qualify for 10-year tax abatements on market-rate condos and rentals.” Consequently, government-subsidized condominiums popped up in Manhattan and Brooklyn — at a time when rents in New York were rising much faster than rents in the rest of the country.
The years before 9/11 were most of my early childhood. Like most elementary school students I was concerned with things fairly trivial in nature and largely apathetic to the world around me. But ever since, I haven’t been able to ignore the police state that erected itself after that day. It was intended to protect the people who supported it, but it’s become clear that it has consequences for everyone. The current state of liberty is grim in New York, especially with a population more pre-occupied with their safety rather than their freedom, but it is even worse for the poor and weakest among us.
The morning began like every other, but eventually digressed into an odd set of events which I’ll never forget, even in my old age. We were walking towards lunch when I first looked at the televisions that day. There was a small television located in the janitor’s office, that they were all glued to, watching. I couldn’t make out what was happening, none of the children knew anything specific, nothing more than what the principal told us—“your parents might be late from work if they do so in New York City.”
Once home, things became clear as I had access to a television. However, I became largely disinterested in the media hysteria that was evolving around the event. Repeatedly seeing the planes crash into the towers became not so much disgusting as it just felt redundant and unnecessary. The news stations largely seized the opportunity to prey on everyone’s fears, speaking of a large-scale war against Afghanistan. The news became less about reporting the event, and more about hypothetical situations and contemplation on the event.
The subway stations filled with militarized police officers, covered in Kevlar and donning automatic rifles. The NYPD and government at large became more aggressive in all their efforts, constantly touting their future accomplishments in stopping future terrorists attacks, and applauded for such, despite the illegal methods employed to do so. The Patriot Act loosened many of the constitutional requirements required for search and seizures, and the state of New York has taken great advantage of it.
The right to privacy largely is illusory unless you’re part of a certain socio-economic class in New York, and even then can be revoked at any instance. Illegal use of search dogs has become commonplace to the point where most citizens are more amused by the dog itself rather than the illegality of the matter. The NYPD has become increasingly militarized in both their appearance and method of “protecting” the people. Yet it’s said constantly that we’re more safe today because of these measures.
Before the terrorists it was the Soviets, and countless military conflicts were endorsed and engaged to stop them. They were purportedly evil, disagreed with our lifestyle, and similarly to the pro-Al Qaeda leaders in the Middle East, committed human rights abuses on their people. We constantly overthrew or endorsed the ousting of these individuals, and in the case of the Mujahedeen, aided and abetted them against the Soviets. The Mujahedeen were led by Osama bin Laden, who would eventually use these same weapons against the United States in the decades following.
History often repeats itself, alluding to the fact that human nature does not change despite how many centuries pass. Until people are willing to realize the consequence of their actions, accept the fate that there are simply evil people in the world, and not tolerate being harassed by the police officers they employ, there is nothing short of a militarized police state waiting for everyone.
The morning after 9/11 we were confronted with school psychologists, long lectures, and, most disappointing, a very poor explanation of the events. “They hate us because we’re free,” they said constantly. Every day ended with patriotic music, and anyone who was seen not standing for the pledge of allegiance was threatened with detention.
Becoming more ignorant of the world was one end of the spectrum of reactions. Someone Pakistani was called a “terrorist” by my peers, leading many of the Sikh children to be wrongly discriminated against. Of course, children are expected to be children, and these things were not endorsed by the school administration. Despite the difference in age, the discrimination and manner in which it was carried were both the same, which speaks to the power of the state and propaganda.
The great threat to the future of liberty of New York, or my generation, is that there is little incentive to care for most people, especially the wealthier citizens. The general consensus is that it’s a minor inconvenience to many people to be searched, not be able to board an airplane without being scanned, and to have a military and government who endorses the policing of the world at large to protect its citizens while murdering countless people around the world.
Like the children in my school who became hateful and scared, this diminished freedom has been compounded by racist and prejudiced ideas spread over their airwaves and through the presses. The only “get out of jail free” card in the future will be the size of your checking account and buying the status of someone who isn’t a suspected terrorist. Sadly, most people can’t afford that.
If you’d like to speak with or book Taweh or any of our other Advocates, please contact Young Voices now.