James King, Newbie Voice Writer: Casual Racist BS Will Be Called BS By (Slightly) Older Voice Writer

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"In the old days, reporters, in the pages of the Voice, went after one another. Readers enjoyed taking sides in these civil wars, and we ourselves sometimes discovered what we should have known before we so confidently wrote."

So wrote Nat Hentoff in "Why I Oppose the Downtown Mosque: How I questioned an imam's motives and broke Tom Robbins's heart" in September of 2010, when Hentoff went after his colleague, friend and onetime union shop steward.

Indeed, there is a long, proud, half-century old tradition here at the Voice of writers duking it out with words within our own paper. "I do not want to get in the way of what looks like it has the making of a really good feud (the old Voice excelled at these; usually we had them with each other)" Robbins himself commented on another 2010 Voice article, where Editor in Chief Tony Ortega got into the ring with Louis Black of the Austin Chronicle. (After Robbins dropped in, he ended his message, "gentlemen, please go back to ripping each other up.")


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Tom Robbins Talks to WNYC About Breaking the NYPD Anti-Muslim Training Video Story (AUDIO)

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Former Voice columnist and CUNY Journalist-in-Residence Tom Robbins was on the Brian Lehrer Show this morning on WNYC, talking about the fallout from the NYPD showing an anti-Muslim training video to 1,500 personnel.

It was great to hear Robbins credited for breaking this story (a full year before Michael Powell's follow up in the Times) in a January, 2011 Voice column titled "NYPD Cops' Training Included an Anti-Muslim Horror Flick."

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Valery Jean, Executive Director of Families United for Racial and Economic Equality, on FUREE's 10th Anniversary Party

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Caleb Ferguson
It's the holidays and time for nightly benefit parties. This month, we're be circling back to non-profits and art groups we've talked to through out 2011 as they gear up for their annual shindigs.

Today we're talking to Valery Jean, Executive Director of Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE). FUREE (whom we've interacted with several times this year, including during our coverage of Mary Lee Ward's foreclosure) is celebrating 10 years of stirring up trouble in Brooklyn on behalf of poor and working class New Yorkers trying to hold on. We chatted with Jean (who was on Tom Robbins's "Thanksgiving Honor Roll" last year) about FUREE's origins, the challenges of development in Brooklyn, Occupy Wall Street, her take is on Governor Cuomo's recent budget, and their big bash tonight at La Vie Lounge & Restaurant.

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Rabbi Milton Balkany Gets 4 Years in Prison for Extortion Scheme

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Crooked rabbi Balkany
‚ÄčPolitical heavyweight Rabbi Milton Balkany was sentenced today to four years in prison for trying to shake down a hedge fund. As the Post reports, federal judge Denise Cole took the unusual step of ordering the 64-year-old rabbi jailed immediately, saying she was "seriously concerned" that he would try to run away if free on bail.

His scheme was to blackmail Steve Cohen's SAC Capital Advisors into coughing up millions to two Brooklyn yeshivas, including one where Balkany was dean.

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Guy Velella, 1944-2011, State Senator, Rascal, Stand-up Guy

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Shiho Fukada/VV
It is October 14, 2000, and Guy Velella -- the ex-state senator and convicted felon who died yesterday at 66 -- is in his home base in the north Bronx practicing the fine art of retail politics. Nobody does this better, and the tell-tale silver-streak in his careful pompadour is seen bobbing up and down as he pumps every hand he spots. He is escorting his friend George Pataki on a Saturday afternoon campaign swing. It is up Crosby Avenue and under the el on Westchester. "Say hello to the governor!" Velella hoots to the ladies coming out of George's Restaurant on the corner.

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More Glenn Beck Outrage: Right-wing Ranter Attacks Co-op City, the Bronx; Natives Up in Arms

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"Well, there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn't advise you to try to invade."

This fine free advice, first offered by Humphrey Bogart to Nazi swill in Casablanca, is here offered to Glenn Beck who -- after offending almost all of America's rabbi's, as reported by our Joe Coscarelli here -- made another bone-headed miscalculation on his show Tuesday when he maligned a certain section of the Bronx.

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After 40 Years, Peace in LES's Seward Park; Middle East Is Next

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Cary Conover
The first 2011 Nobel Peace Prize nomination goes to the Lower East Siders who hammered out Monday night's near-unanimous community board vote approving new housing for those five acres of weed-strewn parking lots sitting forlornly behind chain-link fences these past 40 years along Delancey Street.

The deal okayed by Community Board 3 calls for 1,000 units of housing, half of it targeted to middle and low-income families, plus new non-Wal-Mart-style retail and open space.

For those wondering what's the big deal, or what took so long, consider these facts:

This is the largest clear parcel of land in Manhattan, where unfettered real estate is the single most precious local resource.

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Harper's Magazine Writers Weigh In on Union Battle

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Some of the nastiest union battles erupt with employers whose hearts beat firmly on the left side of the political spectrum. Partly this is the result of hurt feelings: How could my workers be so distrustful? Another accelerant is the assumption that well-meaning bosses know best, a perception shared across the political divide. Whatever the cause, these fratricidal battles have scarred the best non-profit organizations. They've also torn-up unions themselves when their own workers announce they'd like the same bargaining rights as those they represent.

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Mobster Bragged of Dangling Mom-in-Law Off the Roof

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There are thousands of pages to wade through, but so far the catch of the day in the 127-defendant Mobapalooza takedown by the feds is a caught-on-tape conversation in which a mobster describes how he took care of a major menace: his mother-in-law.

Peter Pace Jr., a Genovese crime family associate with a 30-year-long rap sheet, was captured on tape in a January 21, 2008 rap describing how he handled things:

"I tried to throw her off the roof on Viewmont Avenue back in 1988. She was a fucking junkie, right? So now...she's fucking telling everybody that I'm gonna come rob everybody, set me up with the neighborhood, right? So I brought her up to the fucking roof, about six stories, it was fucking, I hung her off the fucking side of the roof."

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NYPD's Muslim Horror Flick Sparks Outcry

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Morgan Schweitzer
A major city Islamic organization is putting a few tough questions to the NYPD about how a loony Muslim-bashing movie came to be shown to city cops, as reported in this week's Voice.

"Our nation's battle against terrorism is only made more difficult whenever security officers are taught to view all Muslims, and the faith of Islam itself, with suspicion," said Council on American-Islamic Relations-New York Board President Zead Ramadan. "We call on Commissioner Kelly to order an internal probe of how this propaganda film came to be used and to put policies in place to ensure that NYPD training is not biased by agenda-driven materials -- or trainers -- targeting any religious or minority community."

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