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Name: Chris Bastian
Gender: Male
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Home country: USA
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 85,602

Journal Archives

Letter I received on Afghan refugee resettlement.

(from a political friend)


Hi, I just wanted to reach out because, as many of you may be aware, the United States currently has over 70,000 Afghan refugees living on our military bases. In the effort to resettle these families, the government is looking for 20,000 apartments across the country to move these people into. The government has approved funds to pay the first year lease for all of these families via resettlement NGOs which they fund on the ground. As you may also know, the housing market is at an all-time high when it comes to occupancy, so finding large quantities of these apartments is proving difficult, which is why I am reaching out to see if you or anyone you know has access to apartments the government can rent for this purpose.

Below is the description of the program that Homeland Security has put together to integrate these Afghan allies from US Military Bases to our communities. The leases will be held by local NGOs across the country like Catholic Charities and The American Red Cross who will take responsibility in local communities for resettling these families, including furnishing the apartments, getting their children into school and finding them jobs. The requirements for the types of apartments they are looking for is as follows:

· Apartment units that are available immediately.
· Waiver of normal requirements like credit checks and background checks because these individuals have been fully screened when they enter our bases and obviously these do not have credit histories.
· Provide up to a 1-year lease.
· The majority of the units need to be in communities that have low skilled jobs available.
· This language is intended to explain the housing requirements for our Afghan allies. It is explicitly not intended to solicit housing donations from individuals or corporations.

If you do have any units or have access to units, I would truly appreciate it if you would contact me so I can connect you to the appropriate person to help.

I know that you, like me, want to make these people feel as welcome as possible and to give them a great start to their new life with us. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. You can reach me at (703) 447-0435.

As always thank you for all that you do.

Warm regards,
Mary Pat

Some elephants are evolving to have no tusks as a response to brutal poaching


(CNN)An elephant's tusks are among its defining features -- they help the animal lift heavy branches, topple trees, strip bark, fight, and dig holes for water and minerals.

But an increasing proportion of female elephants in Mozambique's Gorongosa National Park have been born without these crucial tools, and scientists say it's an evolutionary response to the brutal killing of elephants for their ivory tusks during the country's 15-year civil war.

Elephant experts working in the park had begun to notice the phenomenon after the war ended in 1992. Field data and analysis of old video footage from the park found that the proportion of tuskless female elephants increased more than threefold between 1972 and the year 2000. It was a period during which the elephant population plummeted from roughly 2,000 to about 250 individuals, said Ryan Long, an associate professor of wildlife sciences at the University of Idaho.

"During the war, Gorongosa was essentially the geographic center of the conflict," Long said via email. "As a result there were large numbers of soldiers in the area and a lot of associated motivation... to kill elephants and sell the ivory to purchase arms and ammunition. The resulting level of poaching was very intense."

Vote on Bannon contempt referral now underway.

After the first debate, the mayor's race is still, unsurprisingly, Eric Adams' to lose.

City & State

No one was putting money on Republican Curtis Sliwa heading into the first New York City mayoral debate on Wednesday night. As Democratic political strategist Chris Coffey put it to the New York Post earlier in the day, “He needs Eric Adams to drop dead on the stage, and I’m not even sure that would work.”

But Adams not only survived the speedy debate; he coasted through it, doling out in some instances specific policy plans, and in others non-answers to moderators. At the end of the day, it’s still the Democratic Brooklyn borough president’s race to lose.

Because Adams is as good as guaranteed to win the election, Wednesday’s debate offered a chance for a team of moderators to pin him down on how his likely administration will tackle some of the most challenging issues being handed down from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s tenure. On the question of mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for city workers – a policy de Blasio announced on Wednesday – Adams said he supported the move. He’d potentially go further, mandating the vaccine for all students once it’s approved for younger kids. It’s one of just a few issues on which Sliwa staked out the opposite position, opposing the COVID-19 vaccine mandates entirely.

Adams in recent weeks also broke with de Blasio’s plan to end the city’s controversial Gifted & Talented program. Addressing a question on the topic on Wednesday, Adams and Sliwa both said the program should be expanded. One thing that seems likely to change under an Adams administration is the screening test for four-year-olds. “I don’t believe a four-year-old taking the exam should determine the rest of their school experience. That is unacceptable,” Adams said on Wednesday.

Adams and Sliwa were united in their calls for immediate reforms at Rikers Island. Conditions at the jails complex have been described as brutal and dysfunctional. The majority of the 14 deaths in city jails this year occurred there. Adams reiterated on Wednesday his support for the plan to close Rikers and build new borough-based jails, but said that more thought needed to go into where those jails will be built. As for what the city can do to immediately address the crisis, Adams said that improving conditions for corrections officers and speeding up bottlenecks in court that keep inmates there longer are both crucial. In answering the question about how he will address the Rikers crisis, Sliwa said that he will increase the number of corrections officers and divide inmates up so that members of the same gangs aren’t together. “That's what allows them to run Rikers Island and I can say that, because I've been on Rikers Island,” Sliwa said.

'Everyone should be very worried': Dems seek wake-up call as Virginia goes to the wire


A creeping sense of worry among Democrats about the Virginia governor's race spilled into the open on Wednesday, after the release of a new Monmouth University poll showing former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe deadlocked with Republican Glenn Youngkin less than two weeks before Election Day.

And the panic may be a good thing, some of them say.

The Monmouth poll was the latest in a series of data points to increase concern about McAuliffe's prospects. While other recent polls in Virginia have shown McAuliffe staked to narrow leads, President Joe Biden's national ratings have slid into majority disapproval of his tenure, with his agenda still stalled in Congress. Democrats' internal polling elsewhere is similarly bleak, as they look to keep their slim majorities in Washington. And turnout among early and mail voters, which Democrats often look to as a barometer of enthusiasm, paints an uncertain picture two weeks out.

Despite — or because of — the warning signs, Democrats hope the news will wake up slumbering supporters the way it did in California last month, when Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom appeared to be slipping into dangerous territory in polls before generating high turnout to beat back a recall attempt with ease.

"There's going to be panic. There's going to be consternation. But what I would tell donors and operatives is, 'You should be worried, so pay attention and put resources into this,’" said Tim Lim, a longtime Democratic strategist. "The same thing happened in California. Once Democrats started paying attention and keyed into it, the numbers shifted. The same can happen in Virginia."

Amherst College Ends Legacy Admissions Favoring Children of Alumni

Source: New York Times

Amherst College announced on Wednesday that it would no longer give the children of alumni a boost in the admissions process, becoming one of the first highly selective colleges in the country to abandon a practice that has held back efforts to diversify the top echelons of American higher education.

With the announcement, Amherst, a private liberal arts school in Massachusetts, joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University and the California Institute of Technology in the handful of highly selective schools that have opted against having so-called legacy admissions programs.

“We want to be a leader among higher education institutions, in policies and programs that support access and equity,” said Matthew L. McGann, Amherst’s dean of admissions and financial aid.

About 11 percent of the students admitted to Amherst in recent years have been children of people who graduated from the college. Most members of this year’s freshman class are students of color, and 18 percent are first-generation college students.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/20/us/amherst-college-legacy-admissions.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur

"The Democratic Party as an institution has become too much the party that is looking for something"

A long term Democrat switched to Independent!!!

That was Angus King in 1993...

Somehow, we survived.

Just in time for Halloween...


Message from my office:

Dear Colleagues,

Nineteen months ago on March 15, 2020, as COVID-19 was sweeping through the New York region, MTA issued a directive that all employees capable of working from home should do so. The vast majority of MTA employees, of course, continued to show up every day on the front lines of the pandemic – operating buses, conducting trains, maintaining stations and infrastructure, and offering customer service. Starting in January 2021, MTA employees received early access to the COVID vaccine, and many of us have since returned to our desks. It’s been a pleasure to see more and more of you come in since then, either on the A/B schedule or as directed by your manager.

While I am grateful for the ability of our office-based teams to have productively worked remotely, starting November 15, MTA employees will return to in-person work 100% of the time if they have not already. For several weeks now, the MTA has been conducting an effective campaign to welcome back our customers and ridership is creeping back up. Now it’s our turn to act on our conviction that it is safe to take transit, and come back to the office.

House Republicans to vote against Steve Bannon contempt referral


Didn't see THAT coming...
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