Rudy Giuliani Receives Boos at Yankee Stadium Where He Once Received Cheers!


Dear Commons Community,

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani use to draw cheers at Yankee Stadium especially immediately September 11, 2001 but no more.   On Monday, boos cascaded from the stands, on the announcement of his 74th birthday and reflected how far Mr. Giuliani and the city he once led have drifted apart.   Here is a brief recap courtesy of the New York Times:

“For those old enough to remember, Mr. Giuliani once embodied a kind of holy trinity of grief, resurrection and baseball after Sept. 11, 2001. He could often be seen in his matching Yankees jacket and cap as the World Series-bound team lifted a wounded city after the terrorist attack.

Long before that, Mr. Giuliani credited his Yankees fandom with giving him strength of character from a young age: He said he had to stand up to jeers from Brooklyn Dodgers fans in his Brooklyn neighborhood.

…He celebrated Yankees victories at City Hall, his own image blown up banner-size to hang next to those of the players and coaches. The Times, during the 2000 Subway Series with the Mets, described Mr. Giuliani as the team’s mascot, akin to Mr. Met: “The mascot for the Yankees wears a Yankees warm-up jacket and has a somewhat smaller head; his name is Mister Giuliani.”

He has bejeweled championship rings from the Yankees’ run of World Series wins during his term, prized possessions that brought scrutiny during his failed 2008 presidential bid. He worked on paving the way for a new stadium in the Bronx, negotiating into the waning days of his second and final term.

At Monday’s game, Mr. Giuliani was given a cake by Randy L. Levine, who was Mr. Giuliani’s deputy mayor for economic development and is now the president of the Yankees. “‘Happy Birthday Rudy,’” he recalled it saying. “I think it was chocolate.”

Mr. Levine told his former boss that his name would be mentioned midgame along with other fans celebrating birthdays.

“He didn’t ask for it,” Mr. Levine said.

Then came the boos.

Mr. Giuliani, who was with friends and family, apparently laughed it off.

Mr. Giuliani did not respond to a request for an interview, but told reporters at the White House on Wednesday that he was not upset. “I know Yankee fans; they boo you when they love you,” a Fox News producer quoted him as saying.

But for younger fans, New York City is a different place from what it was when Mr. Giuliani took charge, promising to rein in lawlessness. Crime, now at historically low levels, is for many New Yorkers an afterthought.

Many residents of the majority-minority city are more likely to associate Mr. Giuliani with police brutality than with his law-and-order bona fides. The New York Police Department is now trying to put the excesses of that period behind it.

“He’s racist,” said Henry Williams, 61, a Bronx man who cleans up at Stan’s Sports Bar across the street from Yankee Stadium. “I’m still out here struggling.”

Mr. Giuliani has certainly changed over time. His marriage to Judi Nathan — his frequent companion at games — is ending; his good will here after Sept. 11 has dwindled.

Indeed, Monday was certainly not the first time Mr. Giuliani was booed by Yankees fans: He was similarly greeted in 2007 during his Republican presidential primary run when his image appeared on the big stadium screen.

But in his role as President Trump’s defender, Mr. Giuliani may have pulled the last straw.”

In my opinion,  Giuliani’s association with Donald Trump is toxic here in New York City.


Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy:  FBI Acted Appropriately in Using an Informant to Gather Information about Trump Campaign Advisers!

Dear Commons Community,

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said the FBI acted appropriately when it used an informant to gather information about Donald Trump campaign advisers who allegedly had suspicious contacts linked to Russia prior to the 2016 election. As reported by The Huffington Post:

“I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got, and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump,” Gowdy said Tuesday during an interview on Fox News.

Gowdy last week attended a classified DOJ briefing alongside other top lawmakers regarding the informant and the tactics the FBI had used during the 2016 campaign. The South Carolina congressman, who is retiring this year, is the first GOP lawmaker briefed on the informant to directly rebut Trump and his allies regarding the surveillance claims.  

Trump has ratcheted up his attacks against the Russia investigation, the Justice Department and the FBI in response to the revelation. He claimed the agency “infiltrated” and “spied” on his campaign under the orders of President Barack Obama, and he demanded that the Justice Department investigate the accusations and turn over any relevant documents to Congress.

Trump again tore into the FBI during a rally in Nashville on Tuesday evening, insisting that his campaign had been “infiltrated” by his political opponents. “Can you imagine?” he said, to boos in the audience.

But Gowdy maintained the FBI was simply following Trump’s orders when it investigated his campaign’s ties to Russia.

“President Trump himself in the [former FBI Director James] Comey memos said, ‘If anyone connected with my campaign was working with Russia, I want you to investigate it,’” Gowdy said Tuesday on Fox News. “Sounds to me like that was exactly what the FBI did.

It is good to see a Republican standing up to our truth-challenged President.


ABC Cans Roseanne Barr for Racist Tweet!

Dear Commons Community,

Wasting no time, ABC decided to cancel its Roseanne show revival just hours after Roseanne Barr posted a racist tweet this morning.  As reported by various media:

“Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey said Tuesday.

Barr attacked Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to former President Barack Obama, in a since-deleted tweet in which she said “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” Barr subsequently apologized: “I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans. I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me — my joke was in bad taste.”

Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger also weighed in on the decision to cancel Roseanne: “There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing,” he tweeted.

Added executive producer Tom Werner, whose company Carsey-Werner exec produced the original Roseanne and its revival: “I support ABC’s decision to cancel the show in the wake of Roseanne Barr’s most recent reprehensible tweets. Our goal was to promote constructive discussion about the issues that divide us. It represented the work of hundreds of talented people. I hope the good work done is not totally eclipsed by these abhorrent and offensive comments, and that Roseanne seeks the help she so clearly needs.”

Showrunner Bruce Helford added in a statement of his own: “On behalf of all the writers and producers, we worked incredibly hard to create an amazing show. I was personally horrified and saddened by the comments and in no way do they reflect the values of the people who worked so hard to make this the iconic show that it is.”

Barr’s tweet prompted a massive outcry across social media, with thousands condemning the actress-comedian’s comments and calling on ABC to cancel her series. The Disney-owned network’s decision to cancel the comedy marked the first time the network has taken action in response to one of Barr’s controversial tweets. 

Axing the Roseanne revival was no small decision for ABC. The rebooted comedy debuted its nine-episode run midseason and finished as the TV season’s No. 1 scripted series on all of broadcast. Roseanne had been averaging a 5.5 rating among adults 18-49 and 19.3 million viewers with live-plus-3 lifts. With a full week of time-shifting, those numbers climbed to a 6.4 rating in the key demo and 22.1 million viewers. Either way, Roseanne was the highest-rated and most watched series of the broadcast season, eclipsing NBC’s This Is Usand CBS’ The Big Bang Theory — which had been in a heated battle for top status.

In response to Barr’s tweet, co-star and exec producer Sara Gilbert — who was the driving force behind the revival — blasted her longtime friend and colleague. “Roseanne’s recent comments about Valerie Jarrett, and so much more, are abhorrent and do not reflect the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show. I am disappointed in her actions to say the least,” she wrote on Twitter. “This is incredibly sad and difficult for all of us, as we’ve created a show that we believe in, are proud of, and that audiences love — one that is separate and apart from the opinions and words of one cast member.” Wanda Sykes, who served as a consultant on season one, also tweeted Tuesday that she would not be returning to the series following Barr’s racist tweet. 

Roseanne was slated to return in the fall for an expanded 11th season of 13 episodes as ABC looked to build on the show’s momentum. In a victory lap of sorts, Barr was the centerpiece of ABC’s upfront presentation to Madison Avenue ad buyers earlier this month. The revival was part of a larger effort by Dungey — broadcast’s lone African-American network topper — to cater to the underserved community who turned out in force to elect Donald Trump. The success of the Roseanne revival has prompted other broadcast networks to pick up a wave of multicamera comedies in a larger push to program for middle America. (To that end, Fox revived Tim Allen comedy Last Man Standing a year after ABC’s cancellation.)

Roseanne has never shied away from taking on timely and controversial subjects. In the spirit of its original run, which had a history of addressing larger political and social issues, the revival famously opened its new season with an episode that explored the country’s divisive response to President Trump, whom Barr has publicly supported. The storyline between Roseanne Conner and her sister, Jackie (Laurie Metcalf), was designed to reflect the debate among Trump’s working-class base and spur a larger discussion. The May 22 season finale, likewise, set the stage to explore a larger debate about health care in America.

Barr crossed the line with her tweet.  ABC made the right decision.


New York City:  Small High Schools Mean Better Graduation Rates but Less Music!

Dear Commons Community,

Over the past fifteen years, the New York City Department of Education closed 69 large high schools and replaced them with smaller schools in an effort to improve graduation rates.  To a degree, this policy has been successful but what has been lost are specialized programs like music.  Below is an excerpt from a New York Times article describing the changes that have occurred in music education:

“When Carmen Laboy taught music at Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx, beginning in 1985, there were three concert bands. The pep band blasted “Malagueña” and Sousa marches on the sidelines at basketball games, and floated down Morris Park Avenue during the Columbus Day parade. The jazz band entertained crowds at the Ninth Avenue Food Festival, and even warmed the room at a Citizens Budget Commission awards dinner at the Waldorf Astoria.

Today, Columbus no longer exists. In its former building, which now houses five small high schools, a music teacher struggles to fill a single fledgling concert band. Working out of Ms. Laboy’s old band room in the basement, Steven Oquendo recruits students for a sole period of band class from his school, Pelham Preparatory Academy, and the others on campus, with their different bell schedules and conflicting academic priorities.

“It does make it much more difficult to teach,” he said. “But we always find a way of making it happen.”

Between 2002 and 2013, New York City closed 69 high schools, most of them large schools with thousands of students, and in their place opened new, smaller schools. Academically, these new schools inarguably serve students better. In 2009, the year before the city began closing Columbus, the school had a graduation rate of 37 percent. In 2017, the five small schools that occupy its former campus had a cumulative graduation rate of 81 percent.

But one downside of the new, small schools is that it is much harder for them to offer specialized programs, whether advanced classes, sports teams, or art or music classes, than it was for the large schools that they replaced. In the case of music, a robust program requires a large student body, and the money that comes with it, to offer a sequence of classes that allows students to progress from level to level, ultimately playing in a large ensemble where they will learn a challenging repertoire and get a taste of what it would be like to play in college or professionally.

In a large concert band, “you’re not the only trumpet player sitting there — there’s seven of you,” said Maria Schwab, a teacher at Public School 84 in Astoria, Queens, who is also a judge at festivals organized by the New York State School Music Association. “And you’re not the only clarinetist, but there’s a contingent of 10. In that large group, there’s a lot of repertoire open to you that would not be open to smaller bands.”

The new schools chancellor, Richard A. Carranza, himself a mariachi musician, has said that he plans to focus on the arts, which can especially benefit low-income or socioeconomically disadvantaged students, according to the National Endowment of the Arts. A 2012 analysis of longitudinal studies found that eighth graders who had been involved in the arts had higher test scores in science and writing than their counterparts, while high school students who earned arts credits had higher overall G.P.A.s and were far more likely to graduate and attend college….

… Steven Schopp, the executive director of the New York State School Music Association, said students could expect that “there will be a band for them to play in all the way up through high school. When they go to middle school, there’ll be a band program. When they go to high school, there’ll be a band program.”

That’s not true in New York City, he said.

In 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced $23 million in new funding for arts programs in schools, which included money for 100 new middle school arts teachers and for an “arts continuum project” aimed at connecting arts curriculums in elementary and middle schools. Since then, 26 middle schools citywide have hired music teachers, and 24 pairs of elementary and middle schools have landed a year of shared music instruction from local nonprofits and arts centers, according to the Education Department.

Educators say the key to maintaining a robust music program on small school campuses is collaboration. To succeed, principals must coordinate bell schedules, share classroom space and even split teacher salaries.”

Let’s hope that Chancellor Carranza can follow through on his plans to expand arts education in the city schools.


Ireland Votes to Repeal Its Constitutional Ban on Abortion!

Dear Commons Community,

In a surprising landslide, Ireland voted to repeal one of the world’s more restrictive abortion bans, sweeping aside generations of conservative patriarchy,  and dealing a rebuke to the Roman Catholic Church.  The results officially announced yesterday, cemented the nation’s liberal shift at a time when right-wing populism is on the rise in Europe and the Trump administration is imposing curbs on abortion rights in the United States. In the past three years, Ireland has installed a gay man as prime minister and has voted in another referendum to allow same-sex marriage.  Here is an analysis courtesy of the New York Times:

“… this was a particularly wrenching issue for Irish voters, even for supporters of the measure. And it was not clear until the end that the momentum toward socially liberal policies would be powerful enough to sweep away deeply ingrained opposition to abortion.

“What we have seen today really is a culmination of a quiet revolution that’s been taking place in Ireland for the past 10 or 20 years,” Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said at a counting center in Dublin before the results of Friday’s vote were released, giving an early indication of the final outcome.

“This has been a great exercise in democracy,” Mr. Varadkar said, “and the people have spoken and the people have said: We want a modern constitution for a modern country, and that we trust women and that we respect them to make the right decisions and the right choices about their own health care.”

The “yes” camp took more than 66 percent of the vote, according to the official tally, and turnout was about 64 percent.

 “Today is a sad day for Ireland and for people who believe in genuine human rights,” the deputy chairwoman of one of Ireland’s biggest anti-abortion groups, Cora Sherlock, said in a Twitter message. “The struggle to defend the most vulnerable has not ended today, it’s just changed.”

The vote repeals the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution — a 1983 measure that conferred equal rights on the fetus and the mother and banned abortion under almost all circumstances. Before the referendum, the government had pledged to pass legislation by the end of the year to allow unrestricted terminations up to 12 weeks if the amendment was set aside.

The outcome signaled the end of an era in which thousands of women each year had been forced either to travel abroad or to buy pills illegally online to terminate their pregnancies, risking a 14-year jail sentence. The government has said that general practitioners — doctors who are the first port of call for patients — will be asked to provide abortions, although they will still be allowed to conscientiously object to termination at their clinics.

The vote “now means I can do my job without the fear of going to jail,” said Grainne McDermott, a doctor who works in intensive care in a Dublin hospital.”

Congratulations to the people of Ireland for seeing the way to a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion.


Science Teacher Jason Seaman Stops Student Gunman in Indiana School!

Dear Commons Community,

Jason Seaman, a science teacher at Noblesville West Middle School, did not hesitate when a student walked into his classroom with a pair of handguns and then opened fire. Seaman, was shot three times as he lunged at the gunman in a bid to protect his class.

The shooter fired off several rounds before “Mr. Seaman started running at him, he’s a teacher, a science teacher — he tackled him to the ground,” a student, who did not wish to be identified told Fox 59.

“He’s a hero. If he didn’t do anything he probably would have continued shooting and a lot more of us would have been injured and possibly killed, so it was just something that most people would not have done but he was really brave to do it. “

His mother, Kristi J. Hubly Seaman, in Facebook post said her son was being treated at the Indiana Universtiy Methodist Hospital for gunshot wounds to his abdomen, hip and forearm.

“Jason is out of surgery and doing well,” she wrote. “PLEASE pray for the student that was also shot.”

A 13-year-old girl also struck in the gunfire Friday morning was transported to Riley Hospital for Children immediately following the incident and was in critical condition.

Jeremie Lovall said his daughter, a seventh-grader at the Indiana school, was in the classroom when the shooting unfoled shortly after 9 a.m. She phoned to tell her father she was alright and recalled the horrifying incident.

“She kept saying, ‘I saw my science teacher get shot,” he told the Indy Star.

Another student also in the classroom at the time of the attack told Fox 59 Seaman “swatted” the guns away from student shooter before tackling him to the ground.

He reportedly encouraged his class to run as he held down the suspect, who was taken into custody near Seaman’s classroom.

Noblesville Police Chief Kevin Jowitt said the Friday morning shooting was resolved “fairly quickly,” with many crediting Seaman with ending the shooting before things turned more violent.

The shooting is the 23rd school shooting this year in the US and comes just a week after an incident in Santa Fe, Texas in which 10 people died and 13 were injured at a high school.

God bless our teachers!


Trump Administration to Crack Down on International Students!

Dear Commons Community,

In a policy memorandum, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services announced on May 10th that it plans to change how it calculates “unlawful presence” for foreigners in the student visa and exchange program. It will also impose harsher punishments — up to a 10-year ban from the country — for graduates who overstay their visas.

The policy, due to take effect in August, has been criticized by higher education institutions and student advocates who say the change shows the indiscriminate nature of the Trump administration’s “America First” policies. They say Mr. Trump’s aggressive immigration efforts are shutting out the nation’s leading scholars, who contribute billions of dollars to the economy in the United States, staff its leading research institutions, support its most high-skilled jobs, and contribute to the president’s own goal of strengthening the pipeline to science, technology, mathematics and engineering jobs.

“It is clear that in an attempt to ‘enhance public safety,’ the administration seeks to further close the door on academic talent,” said Jill Welch, the deputy executive director for public policy at Nafsa, the Association of International Educators. “This is yet another policy which makes the United States less attractive to talented international students and scholars.”

This policy is a blow to  the STEM disciplines especially doctoral progams that rely on talented foreign-born students. 


Philip Roth on President Trump!

Dear Commons Community,

The novelist Philip Roth who passed away on Tuesday,  has been receiving  accolades and tributes for his literary work.  Portnoy’s Complaint and Goodbye, Columbus were among the must-read novels of my generation in the 1960s.  

Beyond his body of literature, Roth, also has provided some devastating analysis on President Trump, calling him a “callow and callous killer capitalist” and “humanly impoverished.”

In correspondence with The New Yorker last year, Roth drew parallels between Trump and aviator Charles Lindbergh, who features prominently in Roth’s novel The Plot Against America as an isolationist president during the 1940s.

“It is easier to comprehend the election of an imaginary president like Charles Lindbergh than an actual president like Donald Trump,” Roth wrote. “Lindbergh, despite his Nazi sympathies and racist proclivities, was a great aviation hero who had displayed tremendous physical courage and aeronautical genius in crossing the Atlantic in 1927. He had character and he had substance and, along with Henry Ford, was, worldwide, the most famous American of his day. Trump is just a con artist.”

Roth went on to eviscerate Trump:

“Trump is: ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of 77 words that is better called Jerkish than English.” wrote Roth.


NY Times Editorial: Betsy DeVos and USDOE Freeing Predatory Colleges to Fleece Students!

Dear Commons Community,

A New York Times editorial today takes aim at Betsy DeVos and the USDOE for undermining investigations of the for-profit higher education industry by marginalizing or reassigning lawyers and investigators who had been assigned to this matter during the Obama years. Major investigations have been abandoned, including of the DeVry Education Group (now known as Adtalem Global Education), Bridgepoint Education and Career Education Corporation.

The House would further weaken fraud protection in a bill to overhaul the Higher Education Act. That effort would do away with rules that deny federal aid to career education programs that have historically burdened students with loans far beyond their capacity to pay. It would make short-term or untested programs eligible for federal aid for which they do not now qualify.
Below is the entire editorial.
For shame, Ms. DeVos!


Predatory Colleges, Freed to Fleece Students

New York Times
May 22, 2018
Try as they might, the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress cannot disguise that they continue to do the bidding of the for-profit college industry, which has saddled working-class students — including veterans — with crushing debt while providing useless degrees, or no degrees at all.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos claimed ignorance when she was asked during a congressional hearing on Tuesday how many of the college students who told her department that they had been ripped off were complaining about for-profit schools. The widely publicized answer is more than 98 percent.
For-profit college fraud dates back to the inception of the G.I. Bill during World War II. A congressional investigation during the 1950s found that schools had cropped up to fleece veterans, siphoning hundreds of millions of dollars while providing worthless training. Since then, Congress has intermittently tightened regulations only to loosen them under industry pressure, leading to a cycle of exploitation.
The problem became so pervasive that 37 state attorneys general joined forces to combat it. Attorneys general are not only suing abusive for-profit schools, they are suing the federal government itself, resisting efforts to weaken or ignore regulations that protect students from predatory institutions.
The federal government was shamefully late to this effort but finally found its footing after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau opened its doors in 2011. In 2014, the bureau sued Corinthian Colleges, which soon collapsed amid charges that it had lured poor and working-class students by lying to them about job-placement rates — then saddled them with predatory loans.
Congress was forced to confront the problem last year when it passed the Forever G.I. Bill, which restored veterans benefits to thousands of men and women who had found themselves shut out of school when for-profit programs charged with fraud closed their doors.
Ms. DeVos seems to have learned nothing from this history. Indeed, as The Times reported last week, the Education Department has undermined investigations of the industry by marginalizing or reassigning lawyers and investigators who had been assigned to this matter during the Obama years. Major investigations had been abandoned, including of the DeVry Education Group (now known as Adtalem Global Education), Bridgepoint Education and Career Education Corporation.
The House would further weaken fraud protection in a bill to overhaul the Higher Education Act. That effort would do away with rules that deny federal aid to career education programs that have historically burdened students with loans far beyond their capacity to pay. It would make short-term or untested programs eligible for federal aid for which they do not now qualify.
The bill would also blur the distinction between for-profit and other colleges, allowing for-profit career training programs to escape regulatory scrutiny that is now required under federal statute and regulation. This bill, in other words, is a love letter to the for-profit industry the likes of which the country has never seen.