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 Law and Disorder  
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New York City Rent Laws Set To Expire June 15, 2011

Rent and tenant protections for half of all New York City renter households plus thousands more are set to expire on June 15, 2011. These laws have been the foundation for affordable rental housing for middle-class and low-income New Yorkers. If the rent laws are not renewed, it could lead to unprecedented evictions and homelessness could spiral even further out of control. It’s explained in the above linked article by Patrick Markee Senior Policy Analyst at the Coalition for the Homeless, titled Tell Albany: Renew and Strengthen Rent Laws.

Patrick Markee:

* Two out of three households in New York City are renters. Half of all New York City renters are protected by rent and eviction protection laws that go back 60 years to the New Deal era.
* Right now the stakes are as high as they could be and the political environment is as bad as it can be.
* We have a governor who’s been strongly supported financially by the real estate industry.
* Fortunately we have a state assembly there that is strongly pro-tenant. Half of all New Yorkers are rent stabilized apartments which means rent increases are regulated each year.
* The fundamental protection for tenants is they can’t be evicted except for just cause.
* Those protections have been weakened by vacancy destabilization. Because of that we’ve lost 300 thousand rent stabilized apartments over the last decade and a half.
* Right now we have 39 thousand people including 16 thousand children bedding down in the municipal shelter system.
* Just this past month we’ve reached the highest census in the shelter system since the city has been keeping records. Forty percent more people are cycling through the shelter system than when (mayor) Bloomberg took office in 2002
* We’ve had a perfect storm, loss of affordable rental housing across the country, due to Bush Administration cut backs, at the same time, we get the economic recession, and unemployment, add on top of that the foreclosure crisis. 3 out of 4 homeless people are families with kids.
* New Yorkers have a state constitutional right to shelter.
* Contact Governor Cuomo, contact your state legislator.

Guest - Patrick Markee, Senior Policy Analyst at the Coalition for the Homeless and writer of many of the fine articles on the Coalition For the Homeless website.

———-

The Goldstone Report Now Belongs to the World

Lead author of The Goldstone Report, detailing the 2008-2009 Israeli assault on Gaza has changed his position on the issue of targeting civilians. In an editorial by the Washington Post, Judge Richard Goldstone said, “Civilians were not intentionally targeted [by Israel] as a matter of policy.” And then Israel has called on the United Nations to retract the report on Operation Cast Lead, the war that led to the death of about 1,400 Palestinians, including hundreds of civilians, and 13 Israelis. Earlier this year, Law and Disorder talked with co-editors of the book titled, The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict.

Phil Weiss:

* Our book came out 2 years after the Gaza conflict and people said why now, who cares about this? Now we see why.
* This statement by him (Judge Goldstone) was immediately seized upon as a disavowal of the report by many supporters of Israel.
* Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel immediately called on the UN to withdraw the report.
* The US State Department came out and said this just shows there were no war crimes committed during the Gaza conflict.
* What remains in the Goldstone Report? Geneva Convention: Principle of Distinction and Disproportional Attack
* Other important crimes noted in the report: using white phosphorus, targeting infrastructure, destroying a water treatment facility, destroying a flour mill, destroying food production.
* Even you have a military target, you have to attack that proportionately. One Israeli commander said, we don’t want a hair of our soldiers to fall here.
* This (Gaza) is the size of the Bronx and Queens put together
* The central case that Goldstone based his reconsideration was one of the most horrific cases during the war.
* That took place on January 4, 2009 in a village outside of Gaza City.
* The Israelis were trying to secure parts of Gaza City from the east. They seized this area as a strategic base. They had herded 120 members of an extended family into one house. They had forced them to stay there for a couple of days.
* In the midst of this operation, on that morning, helicopter gun ships came and shelled that house, killing 29 people. In the report Goldstone offered this as another case of targeting civilians.
* I would say “because” this report came out, Israel has produced evidence that the helicopter gunship guys misread drone images. Showing men carrying firewood back to this house as being men carrying rocket launchers.
* Goldstone is saying, I accept the Israeli version here, I think that it was out of negligence or a mistake.
* This reconsideration has got more attention than the whole report.
* This fall the UN General Assembly could vote to establish to make Palestine, a Palestinian state.

Guest – Philip Weiss, founder of the blog Mondoweiss, longtime journalist and regular contributor to the Nation and a fellow at the Nation Institute Philip is the author of two books a political novel, Cock-A-Doodle-Doo, and American Taboo, an investigative account of a 1976 murder in the Peace Corps in the Kingdom of Tonga. Weiss is one of the editors of The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict.

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