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Topics - TheFang

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Home Improvement / Wallpaper Putter-uppers
« on: 09-25-2015, 10:48am »
So we're thinking of putting up a bunch of wallpaper, like 3 rooms probably, can anyone recommend someone?

I was thinking of heading down to Piscataway this Thursday to watch some NWSL and see Sky Blue play the Western NY Flash. It'll be the last home game of the year and tickets are $15, game is at 7:00.

Anyone interested in coming with?

A great chance to see some world class players before the WWC next year. Caitlin Foord, CoCo Goodson, Jill Loyden, Sophie Schmidt, Kelly O'Hara, Nadia Nadim, Christine Rampone -- and that's just the Sky Blue side! Western NY is the great Abby Wambach's team along with Carli Lloyd and Adrianna Franch.

I've got two tickets for the RedBulls game this Saturday the 19th that I can't use and wanted to offer them up for sale. Game is at 7pm. Great seats, row 2, sec 128. Offering them for face value of $50 each.

They're playing San Jose with the returning USMNT player Chris Wondolowski.

What the subject line says... looking for recommendations for a housing inspector and heads up on who to avoid. TIA.

So the bill passed both houses and it is now up to Governor Christie to either sign or veto it. Of course he will veto it. But please consider emailing him or posting on his facebook page (or both) your thoughts and tell him to sign the legislation! This is New Jersey, for crying out loud, and we should be on the forefront of human rights and promoting human dignity. It's worth a shot. His email page is a pain in the ass and you have to fill out all this silly stuff before leaving a message and there isn't even a category for "legislation" or "marriage equality". I put it under "economic development" and said (among other things) that marriage equality would create jobs and help Jersey's economy through all of the weddings etc. Add your own thoughts!

His email link:

His Facebook link:

His phone number:

Thanks for your support! This is such a slow process to gain equal rights, but totally worth it.

For Sale / Futon Frame for Free!
« on: 05-01-2011, 11:39pm »
Yes! It's true! We have a futon frame that we are now no longer in need of. In fine shape, and ready to go out the door.

Best of all, it's free! So come and take this thing out of my house.  ;D

Government & Politics / Christie's bully act getting old
« on: 12-08-2010, 11:13am »
Christie's bully act getting old

Star-Ledger Editorial Board Star-Ledger Editorial Board

Two years ago, when Chris Christie announced he was running for governor, he dismissed questions about his days as the Godzilla freeholder — when he breathed fire on almost every issue, insulted Morris County colleagues and needlessly stomped on countless toes. Tossed out after one term, Christie assured us he had learned his lesson. He was a different man.

“Who wouldn’t be?” he said. “If you’re not a different person 12 years later than when I began my last political campaign, you’ve got problems.” He added: “I’m more mature.”

Nearly a year after he was elected, we wonder: Where’s the maturity?

The latest display of contempt for anyone who disagrees with him was on display at a town hall meeting Friday in Parsippany.

Keith Chaudruc, of Madison, asked the governor how he could sign off on a tax cut for the rich while lunch-pail stiffs were hit with painful increases like transit fare hikes. After some give and take, Christie invited Chaudruc to the stage for “a conversation.”

Chaudruc, reluctant to be part of another Christie YouTube moment, was escorted to the stage by a state trooper. Chaudruc never got another word in. Twice Chaudruc’s size, Christie crowded his personal space, raised his voice and lectured him on economics with a wagging finger. Each time Chaudruc tried to make a point, Christie cut him off.

When Christie finished, Chaudruc motioned for the microphone. This was, after all, a “conversation.” Christie shooed him away and a trooper herded Chaudruc off stage.

The clip appears on YouTube under the title “Christie rips apart rude questioner,” a headline written, no doubt, by a Christie disciple.

By bullying a citizen, hogging the microphone and condescendingly dismissing him, Christie was the rude one. But it’s nothing new.

Christie has turned state politics into one never-ending yo’ mama joke. It doesn’t matter who you are — school superintendent, teacher, student, U.S. senator, state Assembly leader, former education commissioner or just a regular guy trying to have a conversation: If you disagree with him, Christie will try to humiliate you publicly.

Some find Christie entertaining, but his combativeness is counterproductive and breeds the kind of hate speech that plaques the nation.

And it’s not very mature.

Restaurants & Bars / Rumi Turkish Grill
« on: 10-24-2010, 11:52am »
It's open!

Walked by today and they were serving folks.

Rumi Turkish Grill
60 Sussex St.

(the old kitchen cafe location)

Restaurants & Bars / Satis Bistro
« on: 09-19-2010, 11:18am »
New bistro opening up on the corner of Sussex and Washington, they look pretty close to opening, sign went up this week.

Clerical error might have cost N.J. an education grant
Gov. Chris Christie's office is under fire for using the wrong data to fill out "Race to the Top" application

HADDONFIELD, N.J. -- For anyone who's ever entered the wrong number on a tax return and been denied a refund, or accidentally overtipped, here's some consolation: A silly error on New Jersey's application for the highly competitive Race to the Top education grants might have cost the state $400 million.

The federal government announced that nine states and the District of Columbia had won the coveted grants. New Jersey was the top runner-up.

A panel judged the lengthy applications on a 500-point scale. New Jersey finished just three points behind Ohio, which received the grant -- and was only barely ahead of Arizona and Louisiana, which didn't.

But New Jersey lost all five points on one section in which officials were asked to show that the state gives a consistent percentage of its revenue to education. The application called for using data from 2008 and 2009 to make the case. New Jersey used figures from the 2010 and 2011 state budgets.

It's not certain that the state would have aced the section if the right numbers had been used -- but it certainly would have done better.

The gaffe was first reported by the Star-Ledger of Newark.

It appears that the governor's administration made the error late in the process before it submitted the application June 1, according to differences between a draft of the application reviewed by The Associated Press and the form that was submitted.

Now Democrats are teeing off on Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, for the problem.

State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, a Democrat, called it "a stunning mistake that is going to hurt New Jersey's children." Other

At a news conference Wednesday, Christie accepted responsibility for the mistake, which he called a "clerical error" by a midlevel staffer charged with reviewing a 1,000-page document at the state Department of Education.

But he also blamed the administration of President Barack Obama for docking the application because of it.

Education Commissioner Bret Schundler was told about the error at a meeting in Washington this month and provided the correct information, Christie said -- but it was still held against the application, which was reviewed by a national panel of education experts.

The panel appears to be more concerned with technical details than the educational proposals, Christie argued.

"This is the stuff, candidly, that drives people crazy about government and crazy about Washington," he said. "Does anybody in Washington, D.C., have a lick of common sense?"

Christie said his administration would ask the federal Education Department if it can have some of the $100 million left in the Race to the Top fund that hasn't been allocated.

The governor also blamed the New Jersey Education Association, the state's main teachers union, for not supporting the application -- costing points that were given for having others in the state's education community on board.

"What this application proved is that the NJEA is irrelevant," Christie said. "Because with their support, we would have gotten the Race to the Top money."

Before the deadline, Schundler worked out some compromises with the union to win its support.

Dawn Hiltner, a union spokeswoman who was on the committee, provided a draft of the application that included the budget data from the right years. But before that application was submitted, Christie said he wouldn't abide by the compromises -- most of which dealt with how merit pay for teachers would work. The reworked application included the numbers from the wrong years.

Christie said that using the compromise would have cost the state's application even more points that the mistake did.

There's one change sure to come out of the problem: Christie said the state Education Department would have two workers, rather than one, give a final check to future grant applications.


Associated Press writer Beth DeFalco in Trenton contributed to this report.

(This version CORRECTS that the governor's news conference was Wednesday, not Tuesday.)

Wanted / Graphic Designer Needed
« on: 07-01-2010, 01:06am »
I'm looking for a graphic designer that can design a logo for a new small business in an art deco / modern style. And since we're just starting up not charge us too much.

PM me if you can help. Thanks.

General / Municipal compost and mulch?
« on: 03-11-2010, 03:25pm »
Does anyone know if JC (the JCIA specifically) has a spot where someone could pick up compost or mulch? I couldn't find any information looking around online.
I know a lot of municipalities have programs like this, especially since they collect yard waste in the fall.

Restaurants & Bars / Sky Thai
« on: 01-27-2010, 11:04am »
Village Thai closed over the weekend, but they have big signs all over saying that they were bought by the people who own Sawadee and this summer they will be reopened as "Sky Thai". They also have a lunch shuttle going from Village's location to Sawadee, and a dinner time one too, by appointment.

I would like to remind everyone that Christie has said that he will not sign a gay marriage bill. But the legislature is very close to passing one, and Corzine has said he will sign it whether or not he got re-elected, we must do what we can to make sure it gets passed before this January.

<a href=";color1=0xb1b1b1&amp;color2=0xcfcfcf&amp;hl=en&amp;feature=player_embedded&amp;fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">;color1=0xb1b1b1&amp;color2=0xcfcfcf&amp;hl=en&amp;feature=player_embedded&amp;fs=1</a>

News / Word from Iran.
« on: 06-16-2009, 03:40pm »
Just received this a few moments ago from a friend in Tehran.


Sorry if I didn't answer to your emails. The internet connection is extremely slow these days. People say the government has decreased the bandwidth to limit communications. Yahoo messenger, MSN, text messaging, facebook, twitter, youtube and all reformist and netoworking websites are filtered. (I just got to briefly log in to facebook last night with a "filtershekan"). Even mobile phone networks (cellphones) are turned off at nights. So, all my apologies if you didn't get a reply from me.

But here is a little update about the situation in Iran.

First, there are rallies every day. Since there is no communication system available, rallies are organized by word of mouth from one event to the other, and then by phone calls, and strangers just telling you to show up as they pass you by or as you are waiting behind red lights. Yesterday, it was supposed to be from Enghelab to Azadi, but it literally started at Emam Hossein sq (Fooziyeh) and spread all the way to Ekabatan. The number of protesters should be estimated in the millions. They were from every layer of society. Southern Tehranis, Northern rich kids, Chaadoris, Ghertis, Hezbollahi, young, old, kids. etc. A huge sample of the Iranian nation, with all its diversity, was there determined to make a change. They are feel betrayed and insulted.   Helicopters were flying over our heads to assess the crows. People would wave at them and whistle and making sure they were seen so that they report their presence to the authorities (or authority).

The radio and TV warned people all day long not to attend, as the rally didn't have the "permission from the Ministry of Interior" and warned of serious consequences if it took place, but no one cared. Everybody went. The "Yegaan vijeh" (anti-riot police) first  tried to intimidate people as they were gathering, but the immensity of the crowd then made them back up and hide in a nearby police station. Today, the rally is supposed to be at Meydoon Vali Asr. There are words that the next one will be in front of Sedaa o Sima (National TV station).

Yesterday the rally was calm and peaceful until the crowd started to disperse at the end. Then the "Lebaas shakhsi" (armed thugs without uniform) and some anti-riot units showed up with more confidence. They started a fire in one corner of Azadi to attract and entrap the most enthusiastic of protesters, then started firing tear gas and shooting. I didn't see it myself, but I heard that a man was shot in the eye. The shooters disappeared.

Chants were all either conducted against Ahmadinejad or in support of Moussavi. Nothing more "sensitive" than that. It's what I call "smart protest". People are extremely vigilant about what to say:  Khas o khaashaak toyi, doshman-e in khaak toyi (referring to Ahmadinejad calling protesters khas o khashaak), Dorooghgoo, shast o seh darsadet koo? Ey Mahmoud-e bichaareh, baaz ham begoo FOOTBALLEH (referring to Ahmadinejad assimilating protests to high emotions after a football match), Gofteh boodim agar  taghalob besheh, Iran ghiyaamat misheh (people chanted agar taghabol besheh Iran ghiyaamat misheh during the campaign. Yesterday, they had just added "gofteh boodim" to it). Moussavi Raees jomhoureh Iran. Estafaa Estafaa. Marg bar dictator, cheh shaah baasheh cheh Doctor. Rayeh maaro dozdideh, baa rayeh maa poz mideh. Haaleyeh nooro dideh, raayeh maaro nadideh. Some chants were a little more "personal" and a bit more offensive to Ahmadinejad.

Moussavi, Khatami, Mohamad Reza Khatami, Karbaschi, Masjed Jamei, Abtahi, Karoubi all showed up. I missed Moussavi's speech but Abtahi was just a few meter away from where we were. People cheered them a lot.

Apart from rallies, people cry "Allah o Akbar"  every night around 9pm from rooftops and cars (Well, it is supposed to be 9pm, but Iranians are always late. So they really start around 9:30). There are also sporadic riots and tire burning in town. Night riots are much more violent. Sa'adat abaad, Shahran, Yousef abad are some of the hottest corners. Universities are really tense too. Police and thugs have already stormed dorms a couple of times and seriously wounded students.  As for casualties, all we hear is rumors. I can't confirm any. But it seems that about 7 to 8 people have already been killed in Tehran. I don't know about other cities. One thing that I can tell with certainty, is that people are really determined. They all say there is no stop to this until they get results: Taa Ahmadinejaadeh, har rooz hamin basaateh! (They chant, and they mean it). People have started to wear green again.

Girls are extremely active in all these rallies (A little less in night riots where patches of young men are more visible). They courageously charge  anti-riot police, chant slogans in front of them, lead the crowd etc. but they are equally beaten too. The police seems to have no limit in the use of force.  They are disproportionately violent. They don't use fire weapons but they don't go easy on you with their clubs. They literally beat up protesters to death if they don't get rescued by fellow protesters or somehow break away and run. The level of brutality is exceptional but it is amazing to see how people stand up to them.  I heard from many witnesses that thugs were brought by bus from smaller cities to assist police in the crackdown. Someone told me he saw them at the East Terminal around Azadi. He said they are the kinds of people who even beat each other on their spare time.

I don't know how today's rally will go, but I estimate a huge number to show up, which will neutralize police presence and their violence. I estimate that more people will show up today compared to yesterday. The word is that everyone should wear black with green bracelets or scarfs. The good thing about Vali Asr square is that it is right in "downtown" Tehran. It would be such a show of force by people. The national TV can't just keep ignoring it. (Not one single word of yesterday's rally was reported last night, except a really short footage showing Mir Hossein standing on his car to talk to his "supporters" that "contest" the results. The camera didn't zoom out one bit to show the immensity of the crowd that were there for much more than than).

Pray for protesters and for the country. Your support means a lot, as people happily tell each other how Iranians abroad are gathering around embassies to support them. Internet sites are filtered here, so please inform people inside of events and rallies by email if you hear of any. I testify with confidence that this is the most authentic, grassroots and beautiful movement from the people, by the people and for the people. No outside force, no money, no conspiracy is involved. It's all about people telling each other were to gather next time, pledge to show up and keep their promise. There is a spirit of fraternity, determination, resistance, courage, solidarity and generosity that no word can describe. I thank God to have seen this in my lifetime and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

    Yesterday afternoon, a remarkable thing happened.  The opposition made
    their next move, responding to the intimidation tactics, beatings, and
    killings, to send a strong message to the regime.  They honored their
    leader's call for passive resistance; it was the first time that he
    appeared in public since the election results were announced last
    Saturday.  Over a million Iranians silently marched through the
    streets of Tehran in protest of the election results.  Although I did
    not partake in the demonstration, supposedly the largest since 1979, I
    heard from people who did that it was one of, if not, the most
    powerful experiences of their lives.  Apparently, a million plus
    people of different ages and socio-economic backgrounds, from the
    North and South of the capital, walked side-by-side for blocks and
    blocks.  Silence was their weapon of choice; whenever someone would
    start to chant a slogan, the others would tell him to keep quiet.
    With the overwhelming number of demonstrators, the police and basijis
    were apparently ordered to stand down, though the latter would
    allegedly carry out reprisal shootings later that night, reportedly
    killing seven.

    This sent such a powerful message that the head honcho publicly
    announced yesterday, following the demonstration, that a ten-day
    investigation would be conducted to review the results; today, the
    Guardian Council announced  that it would submit to a recount,
    although the opposition is calling for new elections.  Whether these
    announcements by the regime are sincere or simply stall tactics
    remains to be seen.  However, it is clear that the regime has changed
    its tone since yesterday and is in the process of trying to put its
    house in order.  Rumor has it that a meeting between the main
    challenger and the uncumbent took or is taking place today to work out
    a solution to the impasse.  Karrubi, a prominent cleric from the
    Revolution and a third election candidate, who "won" significantly
    less votes than in 2005, remains resolute in his defiance of the
    results.  Rafsanjani, for all of his perceived corruption and lack of
    public credibility, is still a force to be reckoned with.  As Chairman
    of the Expediency Council and Assembly of Experts and reportedly one
    of the wealthiest men in Iran, he is well-positioned in the national
    power structure; he refuses to idly sit by and watch the incumbent,
    who publicly insulted him last week, take office.

    Aside from the mass demonstration and divisive interal factions,
    another concern for the regime consists of the bizarrees, who were
    rumored to have gone on strike today.  If true, this represents a
    significant development, as many of them have close ties with and take
    cues from the ulama; throughout Iranian history, their strikes have
    helped set the stage for previous revolutions or the contestation of
    the regime's power.  Another interesting development is that some
    faculty members at the University of Tehran allegedly went on strike
    and/ or resigned in response to arrests and attacks that had been
    carried out against its students (some female) during the past few

    What this will all lead to, no one knows.  However, one of my
    classmates astutely remarked after class that the basijis will not
    back down since they have a lot at stake in the outcome of this
    election.  Supposedly, another mass opposition demonstration is slated
    to take place later this afternoon.

Government & Politics / NJ Gubernatorial Race
« on: 06-03-2009, 10:15am »
Well, the results are in and we now have candidates. Let's here what you got to say.


Ex-Prosecutor Wins G.O.P. Primary in New Jersey


Christopher J. Christie, a former prosecutor who sent a parade of corrupt New Jersey politicians to prison, handily won the Republican nomination for governor on Tuesday, earning the right to try to dislodge the state’s embattled Democratic incumbent, Jon S. Corzine.

His romp past Steven M. Lonegan, a feisty former mayor, sets the stage for what could be a fierce and expensive confrontation with the wealthy Mr. Corzine, who came to office vowing to rescue the state from financial crisis but has watched his popularity sink to record lows as the recession made matters worse.

“I think he’s a good man, and I think he’s well-intentioned,” Mr. Christie said of Mr. Corzine. “But he is simply wrong for this job.”

The fall campaign, one of only two for governor this year (the other is in Virginia), promises to be treated to varying degrees as a referendum on President Obama’s momentous first year or on Republicans’ continued viability — in New Jersey, if not nationally. The last Republican to win statewide was Christie Whitman in 1997.

The White House left no doubt about its intention to support Mr. Corzine’s bid for a second term. In a rousing speech on Tuesday night at Mr. Corzine’s kickoff rally in West Orange, after his victory in a lopsided four-candidate Democratic primary, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said the governor was “on the right side of the issues” and declared: “Barack Obama and Joe Biden are committed to Jon Corzine’s reelection. Period. End of sentence. It’s simple.”

At bottom, the general election will confront New Jersey voters with a stark choice. Mr. Christie, a self-styled conservative, brings little economic experience but bold promises to rein in spending and cut taxes.

Mr. Corzine, an unapologetic liberal who has been hemmed in by budget deficits, assures New Jerseyans that his unpleasant medicine of tax increases and service cuts will prepare the state for a quicker, stronger rebound when recovery arrives.

But if re-election contests are verdicts on the incumbent, the burden on Mr. Corzine, even if he cannot regain the voters’ confidence, will be to paint Mr. Christie, who starts the campaign with a small lead in the polls, as an unacceptable alternative. And right out of the blocks Tuesday night, Mr. Corzine blasted Mr. Christie, without naming him, for his close ties to President George W. Bush.

“Our opponents promise the moon,” Mr. Corzine said in a stemwinder delivered to about 1,500 supporters before Mr. Christie’s final victory margin had become clear. “They want to cut government, increase spending, slash taxes and balance the budget. They’ve got this so-called secret plan. They won’t tell you whose taxes they’re going to cut — they’re going to check with George Bush about that. They say they’ll lay off at least 10,000 employees, maybe more — but they won’t say who, or when, or at what consequence.”

Mr. Corzine said Republicans “just say we should trust them. But I don’t know about you, but I’m not about to put my trust in the same people who gave us George Bush, Dick Cheney or John Ashcroft, skyrocketing unemployment, a housing crisis, bank bailouts, and a war in Iraq!”

Mr. Christie, meanwhile, set out to introduce himself to New Jersey’s broad political middle, where there are nearly as many unaffiliated voters as Democrats and Republicans combined, as a forceful leader equal to the task of taming a state government that has grown too big for taxpayers to afford.

In a colorful speech to several hundred rowdy supporters in Parsippany, Mr. Christie said he had “lived a Jersey life” and wanted to make the state affordable again to working families, retirees and businesses, who he said had been driven “across our borders to Delaware, Pennsylvania — and even New York.”

“That is unacceptable,” he said.

He said Mr. Corzine was animated by a desire to “create the government of his dreams,” but had “overpromised and underdelivered,” adding: “I know you don’t want government to hold your hand; you just want them to get out of your wallet.”

And he vowed to “listen more and lecture less” as governor and to restore people’s “hope, faith and trust” in government. “It’s what I did as United States attorney," Mr. Christie said, "and you can bet it’s what I’ll do as governor.”

With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Christie led Mr. Lonegan 55 percent to 42 percent. Assemblyman Rick Merkt drew 3 percent, according to The Associated Press.

Mr. Lonegan, who served 12 years as mayor of tiny Bogota, in Bergen County, before making the first of five failed bids for higher office, conceded just after 10 p.m., apologizing to about 150 supporters in East Brunswick for falling short but vowing to help defeat Mr. Corzine. He said conservatives had made their presence in the party felt. “We are here to stay,” he said. “You are here to stay.”

Mr. Christie mainly avoided being pinned down in the primary, resisting calls to issue an economic plan, or to detail what agencies or programs he would cut. But he did take plainly conservative positions on school vouchers, restrictions on abortion rights, and rolling back regulation, particularly on the environment.

At his rally, Mr. Corzine made clear he would go after Mr. Christie on social issues as well as pocketbook ones, saying Republicans indeed wanted smaller government — “small enough to slip under your bedroom door” or to “dictate their own religious beliefs to the rest of us.”

Kenny Porpora, Nate Schweber and Erik White contributed reporting.

Not JC Related / Dr. George Tiller
« on: 06-01-2009, 03:46pm »
Dr. George Tiller was gunned down in his church yesterday morning outside Wichita, Kansas. He had been targeted several times in the past, including being shot in both arms in 1993. He was a true hero for woman's right everywhere. He was one of very few (and by few I mean 2 or 3) doctors in this country who would preform late term abortions. He and his family had been threatened many times, his clinic had been bombed, and yet, he still had the courage to preform a vital, life saving procedure for women.

There will be a vigil tonight at 6pm in Union Square Park. Sponsored by NARAL NY

Vigil to honor the life of Dr. George Tiller
Monday, June 1 at 6:00pm
As most of you have already heard, Dr. George Tiller, abortion provider in Wichita, Kansas, was assassinated Sunday morning while attending church.

Monday, June 1st at 6pm, we will gather with our friends, colleagues and supporters to honor the life of this courageous man who dedicated his life to serving women when they were in need.

Please join us to remember Dr. Tiller and to stand in solidarity with those who work every day to ensure that women and their families have access to the care they need even in the face of violence and intimidation.


There are many fantastic stories about the wonderful work that he did on today, and if you are wondering what you can do about this awful tragedy has some really great ideas.

Donate to a pro-choice organization.

        * Medical Students for Choice -- to train the next generation of abortion providers
        * National Network of Abortion Funds -- to help low-income women access abortion

And probably the most important one since Sec. Kathleen Sibeliusis now the head of Secretary of Health and Human Services, and was the former governor of Kansas and a big supporter of Dr. Tillers.

Write to the Obama administration and ask that the Department of Justice work to enforce the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. FACE was enacted after the murder of Dr. David Gunn in 1993, but the task force to ensure its enforcement was basically dormant during the Bush years. Ask Obama to revive it to protect reproductive health care providers and women who seek these services.More Info Here

Remember events like this when the members of the former administration go on and on about preventing domestic terrorism, here is a perfect example of it.

Before I was only eating fresh tomatoes two months out of the year because of taste, but well... Remember you vote with you food three times a day.

Politics of the Plate: The Price of Tomatoes
 Barry Estabrook

If you have eaten a tomato this winter, chances are very good that it was picked by a person who lives in virtual slavery.

Driving from Naples, Florida, the nation’s second-wealthiest metropolitan area, to Immokalee takes less than an hour on a straight road. You pass houses that sell for an average of $1.4 million, shopping malls anchored by Tiffany’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, manicured golf courses. Eventually, gated communities with names like Monaco Beach Club and Imperial Golf Estates give way to modest ranches, and the highway shrivels from six lanes to two. Through the scruffy palmettos, you glimpse flat, sandy tomato fields shimmering in the broiling sun. Rounding a long curve, you enter Immokalee. The heart of town is a nine-block grid of dusty, potholed streets lined by boarded-up bars and bodegas, peeling shacks, and sagging, mildew-streaked house trailers. Mongrel dogs snooze in the shade, scrawny chickens peck in yards. Just off the main drag, vultures squabble over roadkill. Immokalee’s population is 70 percent Latino. Per capita income is only $8,500 a year. One third of the families in this city of nearly 25,000 live below the poverty line. Over one third of the children drop out before graduating from high school.

Immokalee is the tomato capital of the United States. Between December and May, as much as 90 percent of the fresh domestic tomatoes we eat come from south Florida, and Immokalee is home to one of the area’s largest communities of farmworkers. According to Douglas Molloy, the chief assistant U.S. attorney based in Fort Myers, Immokalee has another claim to fame: It is “ground zero for modern slavery.”

The beige stucco house at 209 South Seventh Street is remarkable only because it is in better repair than most Immokalee dwellings. For two and a half years, beginning in April 2005, Mariano Lucas Domingo, along with several other men, was held as a slave at that address. At first, the deal must have seemed reasonable. Lucas, a Guatemalan in his thirties, had slipped across the border to make money to send home for the care of an ailing parent. He expected to earn about $200 a week in the fields. Cesar Navarrete, then a 23-year-old illegal immigrant from Mexico, agreed to provide room and board at his family’s home on South Seventh Street and extend credit to cover the periods when there were no tomatoes to pick.

Lucas’s “room” turned out to be the back of a box truck in the junk-strewn yard, shared with two or three other workers. It lacked running water and a toilet, so occupants urinated and defecated in a corner. For that, Navarrete docked Lucas’s pay by $20 a week. According to court papers, he also charged Lucas for two meager meals a day: eggs, beans, rice, tortillas, and, occasionally, some sort of meat. Cold showers from a garden hose in the backyard were $5 each. Everything had a price. Lucas was soon $300 in debt. After a month of ten-hour workdays, he figured he should have paid that debt off.

But when Lucas—slightly built and standing less than five and a half feet tall—inquired about the balance, Navarrete threatened to beat him should he ever try to leave. Instead of providing an accounting, Navarrete took Lucas’s paychecks, cashed them, and randomly doled out pocket money, $20 some weeks, other weeks $50. Over the years, Navarrete and members of his extended family deprived Lucas of $55,000.

Taking a day off was not an option. If Lucas became ill or was too exhausted to work, he was kicked in the head, beaten, and locked in the back of the truck. Other members of Navarrete’s dozen-man crew were slashed with knives, tied to posts, and shackled in chains. On November 18, 2007, Lucas was again locked inside the truck. As dawn broke, he noticed a faint light shining through a hole in the roof. Jumping up, he secured a hand hold and punched himself through. He was free.

What happened at Navarrete’s home would have been horrific enough if it were an isolated case. Unfortunately, involuntary servitude—slavery—is alive and well in Florida. Since 1997, law-enforcement officials have freed more than 1,000 men and women in seven different cases. And those are only the instances that resulted in convictions. Frightened, undocumented, mistrustful of the police, and speaking little or no English, most slaves refuse to testify, which means their captors cannot be tried. “Unlike victims of other crimes, slaves don’t report themselves,” said Molloy, who was one of the prosecutors on the Navarrete case. “They hide from us in plain sight.”

And for what? Supermarket produce sections overflow with bins of perfect red-orange tomatoes even during the coldest months—never mind that they are all but tasteless. Large packers, which ship nearly $500 million worth of tomatoes annually to major restaurants and grocery retailers nationwide, own or lease the land upon which the workers toil. But the harvesting is often done by independent contractors called crew bosses, who bear responsibility for hiring and overseeing pickers. Said Reggie Brown, executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, "We abhor slavery and do everything we can to prevent it. We want to make sure that we always foster a work environment free from hazard, intimidation, harassment, and violence." Growers, he said, cooperated with law-enforcement officers in the Navarette case.

But when asked if it is reasonable to assume that an American who has eaten a fresh tomato from a grocery store or food-service company during the winter has eaten fruit picked by the hand of a slave, Molloy said, “It is not an assumption. It is a fact.”

Gerardo Reyes, a former picker who is now an employee of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a 4,000-member organization that provides the only voice for the field hands, agrees. Far from being an anomaly, Reyes told me, slavery is a symptom of a vast system of labor abuses. Involuntary servitude represents just one rung on a grim ladder of exploitation. Reyes said that the victims of this system come to Florida for one reason—to send money to their families back home. “But when they get here, it’s all they can do to keep themselves alive with rent, transportation, food. Poverty and misery are the perfect recipe for slavery.”

Tomato harvesting involves rummaging through staked vines until you have filled a bushel basket to the brim with hard, green fruits. You hoist the basket over your shoulder, trot across the field, and heave it overhead to a worker in an open trailer the size of the bed of a gravel truck. For every 32-pound basket you pick, you receive a token typically worth about 45 cents—almost the same rate you would have gotten 30 years ago. Working at breakneck speed, you might be able to pick a ton of tomatoes on a good day, netting about $50. But a lot can go wrong. If it rains, you can’t pick. If the dew is heavy, you sit and wait until it evaporates. If trucks aren’t available to transport the harvest, you’re out of luck. You receive neither overtime nor benefits. If you are injured (a common occurrence, given the pace of the job), you have to pay for your own medical care.

Leaning against the railing of an unpainted wooden stoop in front of a putty-colored trailer, a tired Juan Dominguez told an all-too-familiar story. He had left for the fields that morning at six o’clock and returned at three. But he worked for only two of those nine hours because the seedlings he was to plant had been delivered late. His total earnings: $13.76.

I asked him for a look inside his home. He shrugged and gestured for me to come in. In one ten-foot-square space there were five mattresses, three directly on the floor, two suspended above on sheets of flimsy plywood. The room was littered with T-shirts, jeans, running shoes, cheap suitcases. The kitchen consisted of a table, four plastic chairs, an apartment-size stove, a sink with a dripping faucet, and a rusty refrigerator whose door wouldn’t close. Bare lightbulbs hung from fixtures, and a couple of fans put up a noisy, futile effort against the stale heat and humidity. In a region where temperatures regularly climb into the nineties, there were no air conditioners. One tiny, dank bathroom served ten men. The rent was $2,000 a month—as much as you would pay for a clean little condo near Naples.

Most tomato workers, however, have no choice but to live like Dominguez. Lacking vehicles, they must reside within walking distance of the football-field-size parking lot in front of La Fiesta, a combination grocery store, taqueria, and check-cashing office. During the predawn hours, the lot hosts a daily hiring fair. I arrived a little before 5 a.m. The parking lot was filled with more than a dozen former school buses. Outside each bus stood a silent scrum of 40 or 50 would-be pickers. The driver, or crew boss, selected one worker at a time, choosing young, fit-looking men first. Once full, the bus pulled away.

Later that day, I encountered some of the men and women who had not been picked when I put in a shift at the Guadalupe Center of Immokalee’s soup kitchen. Tricia Yeggy, the director of the kitchen, explained that it runs on two simple rules: People can eat as much as they want, and no one is turned away hungry. This means serving between 250 and 300 people a day, 44 per sitting, beginning at eleven o’clock. Cheerful retirees volunteer as servers, and the “guests” are unabashedly appreciative. The day’s selection—turkey and rice soup with squash, corn, and a vigorous sprinkle of cumin—was both hearty and tasty. You could almost forget the irony: Workers who pick the food we eat can’t afford to feed themselves.

The CIW has been working to ease the migrants’ plight since 1993, when a few field hands began meeting sporadically in a church hall. Lucas Benitez, one of the coalition’s main spokespeople, came to the group in its early years. Back then, the challenge was taking small steps, often for individual workers. To make the point, Benitez unfolded a crumpled shirt covered in dried blood. “This is Edgar’s shirt,” he said.

One day in 1996, a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy named Edgar briefly stopped working in the field for a drink of water. His crew boss bludgeoned him. Edgar fled and arrived at the coalition’s door, bleeding. In response to the CIW’s call for action, over 500 workers assembled and marched to the boss’s house. The next morning, no one would get on his bus. “That was the last report of a worker being beaten by his boss in the field,” said Benitez. The shirt is kept as a reminder that by banding together, progress is possible.

Even though the CIW has been responsible for bringing police attention to a half dozen slavery prosecutions, Benitez feels that slavery will persist until overall conditions for field workers improve. The group has made progress on that front by securing better pay. Between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s, the rate for a basket of tomatoes remained 40 cents—meaning that workers’ real wages dropped as inflation rose. Work stoppages, demonstrations, and a hunger strike helped raise it to 45 cents on average, but the packers complained that competition for customers prevented them from paying more. One grower refused to enter a dialogue with CIW hunger strikers because, in his words, “a tractor doesn’t tell the farmer how to run the farm.” The CIW decided to try an end run around the growers by going directly to the biggest customers and asking them to pay one cent more per pound directly to the workers. Small change to supermarket chains and fast-food corporations, but it would add about twenty dollars to the fifty a picker makes on a good day, the difference between barely scraping by and earning a livable wage.

The Campaign for Fair Food, as it is called, first took aim at Yum! Brands, owner of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, Long John Silver’s, and A&W. After four years of pressure, Yum! agreed to the one-cent raise in 2005 and, importantly, pledged to make sure that no worker who picked its tomatoes was being exploited. McDonald’s came aboard in 2007, and in 2008 Burger King, Whole Foods Market, and Subway followed, with more expected to join up this year. But the program faces a major obstacle. Claiming that the farmers are not party to the arrangement, the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, an agricultural cooperative that represents some 90 percent of the state’s producers, has refused to be a conduit for the raise, citing legal concerns.

When the Navarrete case came to light, there were no howls of outrage from growers. Or from Florida government circles. When Cesar Navarrete, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to 12 years in prison this past December, Terence McElroy of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services offered his perspective on the crime: “Any legitimate grower certainly does not engage in that activity. But you’re talking about maybe a case a year.”

Charlie Frost, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office detective who investigated and arrested Navarrete, disagrees. With one case wrapped up, he and prosecutor Molloy turned to several other active slavery cases. Sitting in his Naples office and pointing his index finger east, toward the fields of Immokalee, he said, “It’s happening out there right now.”

Lucas, who received a temporary visa for his testimony, is now back in the fields, still chasing the dream of making a little money to send back home.
Buying Slave-Free Fruits

In the warm months, the best solution is to follow that old mantra: buy seasonal, local, and small-scale. But what about in winter? So far, Whole Foods is the only grocery chain that has signed on to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) Campaign for Fair Food, which means that it has promised not to deal with growers who tolerate serious worker abuses and, when buying tomatoes, to a pay a price that supports a living wage. When shopping elsewhere, you can take advantage of the fact that fruits and vegetables must be labeled with their country of origin. Most of the fresh tomatoes in supermarkets during winter months come from Florida, where labor conditions are dismal for field workers, or from Mexico, where they are worse, according to a CIW spokesman. One option during these months is to buy locally produced hydroponic greenhouse tomatoes, including cluster tomatoes still attached to the vine. Greenhouse tomatoes are also imported from Mexico, however, so check signage or consult the little stickers often seen on the fruits themselves to determine their source. You can also visit the CIW’s information-packed website ( if you are interested in becoming part of the coalition’s

General / Yard waste bags
« on: 03-09-2009, 09:49am »
We're hoping to start doing some major lean up to our yard this week and weekend, but we're gonna have a lot of waste to get rid of. Does anyone know how we would go about getting yard waste bags from the city and what the garbage nights for those are? Or do they only do that in the fall?

So I know The Embankment is having a event tomorrow.

The Embankment
Tuesday, 20 Jan 2009, 4:00 PM
The Restaurant is doing happy hour prices all night for the event.

Anyone know of anything else going on tomorrow in town? Or does anyone want to get together to watch the festivities? Especially since I'm not sure yet if I'm going to have tv in the new place by speech time tomorrow.

Government & Politics / Holidays and City Hall
« on: 12-12-2008, 11:18am »
Alright so now that all the sensitive Catholics are gone, I figured I could start this thread about something that has been bothering me all week.

The Nativity Scene and Menorah on the lawn of City Hall. And the Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah signs.

Here's what I think, I think they shouldn't be there at all, I appreciate the "Happy New Year" sign, but it seems like a bit of a cop-out. If you're gonna try to do the all religion/holiday thing then where is the "Happy Eid al Adha" or "Happy Winter Solstice" or "Happy Bodhi Day" or why no "Happy Diwali" sign last month? And worst of all no Flying Spaghetti Monster Nativity.

Or even for us atheisits, no "Happy Wednesday!" sign.

So yeah, church and state people.

What do you folks think of this?

General / WiredJC Gift Guide!
« on: 12-03-2008, 04:25pm »
Post here all the bizarre and awful things you see being pushed as gifts for this year.

Such as:


Semen is not only nutritious, but it also has a wonderful texture and amazing cooking properties. Like fine wine and cheeses, the taste of semen is complex and dynamic. Semen is inexpensive to produce and is commonly available in many, if not most, homes and restaurants. Despite all of these positive qualities, semen remains neglected as a food. This book hopes to change that. Once you overcome any initial hesitation, you will be surprised to learn how wonderful semen is in the kitchen. Semen is an exciting ingredient that can give every dish you make an interesting twist. If you are a passionate cook and are not afraid to experiment with new ingredients - you will love this cook book!

Government & Politics / 2008 Ballot Public Questions
« on: 10-29-2008, 03:09pm »
So what do we think of these?

Do you approve the proposed amendment to the State Constitution which provides that, after this amendment becomes part of the Constitution, a law enacted thereafter that authorizes State debt
created through the sale of bonds by any autonomous public corporate entity, established either as an instrumentality of the State or otherwise exercising public and essential governmental functions,
such as an independent State authority, which debt or liability has a pledge of an annual appropriation as the ways and means to pay the interest of such debt or liability as it falls due and pay and discharge the principal of such debt, will be subject to voter approval, unless the payment of the debt is made subject to appropriations of an independent non-State source of revenue paid
by third persons for the use of the object or work bonded for, or are from a source of State revenue otherwise required to be appropriated pursuant to another provision of the Constitution?

This amendment to the State Constitution will require voter approval of new laws that allow the State to borrow money by issuing bonds through any State agency or independent authority backed by a pledge of an annual appropriation to pay the principal and interest on the bonds. New laws to allow the issuance of these State authority bonds for State government purposes will be subject to voter approval. State courts have ruled that the State constitutional requirement that the Legislature and Governor must seek voter approval for bonded debt does not apply to such borrowing. That requirement is followed only for proposed State bonds that contain a binding, non-repealable pledge to pay off the bonds directly with State taxes. Most State authority bonds can be issued without voter approval because the payment of the bonds is backed only by a
promise of the Legislature and the Governor that they will enact appropriations in the future to meet the bond payments. The courts have said this is a legal means of avoiding submitting the issuance of debt for voter approval. Laws to permit such debt that are enacted after this amendment becomes part of the Constitution will have to authorize voter referenda for approval of such debts. Exceptions to voter approval for authority bonds will be permitted if the bonds are to be paid off from 1) a source of revenue dedicated by the State Constitution, which only the voters can establish, or 2) an independent non-State government source of payments for use of projects built or obtained with the borrowed money, such as highway tolls or user fees.


Shall the amendment to Article VI, Section VI, paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, agreed to by the Legislature, providing that judges of inferior courts with jurisdiction extending to more than one municipality be appointed as provided in law rather than as provided in the Constitution which requires nomination by the Governor and appointment with the advice and consent of the
Senate, be approved?

This constitutional amendment would provide that the method of selection and appointment of certain municipal court judges would be set by statute, rather than be provided for in the Constitution. These judges may include judges of joint municipal courts and judges of central municipal courts with jurisdiction extending to the territorial boundaries of a county. This constitutional amendment does not preclude the possibility that a statute would continue to
provide for nomination by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate, but it does permit a statute to set forth another method of selection and appointment that may not involve the
Governor and the Senate.

Dining / Food recall from company based in JC
« on: 10-17-2008, 02:07pm »
Tristar Food Wholesale Co Inc. Issues a Nationwide recall of Blue Cat Flavor Drink Because of Possible Health Risk

Tristar Food Wholesale Co Inc.
(201) 938-2590

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- October 3, 2008 -- Tristar Food, Jersey City, NJ is initiating a nationwide recall of all of their 100 ml plastic bottle packages of Blue Cat Flavor Drink (Lanmao) because it may be contaminated with Melamine.

Consumers who have the product which is being recalled should stop using it immediately. If consumers have questions about possible health risks, they should contact their doctor.

Product was distributed nationwide in Asian grocery stores.

The product comes in 100 ml plastic bottles package with a BESTBEFORE date. There are four (4) flavors (see below) printed in Chinese. All packaging has a logo of blue cat on the back of the bottle and the word “blue cat” (in Chinese) on the front.

   1. Strawberry, with red strawberry picture on the bottle.
   2. Sweet Orange, with orange picture on the bottle
   3. Pineapple, with green pineapple picture on the bottle
   4. Peach, with pink peach picture on the bottle

No illnesses associated with this product have been reported to date.

The recall was initiated after FDA testing discovered that product was found to contain Melamine.
Consumers who have purchased Blue Cat Flavor Drink (Lanmao) are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 201-938-2590, Monday to Friday, 8:30 to 5:00, Eastern Standard Time.

 I'm trying to take advantage of the last few weeks of corn and tomato season, but getting a bit bored with the normal stuff. So I wanted to see if anyone has any new ideas and recipes and wanted to share them.

We had this last night and I recommend that everyone try it before the season passes it was awesome.

corn and tomato gratin

Gourmet | September 2006

This hearty gratin resembles a savory bread pudding. Tomatoes, aromatic basil, and parmesan cheese give it an Italian flair.

Makes 6 to 8 (side dish) servings.
1 1/2 lb red or yellow tomatoes (4 medium), cut crosswise
nto 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 cups fresh corn kernels (from 6 to 8 ears)
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (preferably from a day-old baguette; an 8-inch piece, including crust)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 oz finely grated parmesan (1/2 cup)
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus additional for buttering pan


Arrange tomato slices in 1 layer on a rack set in a shallow baking pan and sprinkle on both sides with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Let drain 30 minutes.

While tomatoes drain, bring corn, milk, cream, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a simmer in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly, uncovered.

Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish.

Toss together bread crumbs, basil, cheese, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in another bowl.

Arrange one third of tomato slices in baking dish, then cover evenly with one third of bread-crumb mixture and dot with one third of butter. Spoon half of corn mixture over crumbs, then repeat layering with half of remaining tomatoes, crumbs, and butter, and all of corn. Arrange remaining tomatoes over corn, then top with remaining bread crumbs and dot with remaining butter.

Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and gratin is bubbling all over, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool slightly on a rack, about 15 minutes, before serving.

Cooks' note: Gratin can be assembled, but not baked, 4 hours ahead and chilled, covered. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before baking.

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