NYC Tenants Take on ‘City’s Worst Landlord’ with Rent Strike

Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

By Caroline Spivak, Curbed.

Standing outside the four-story brick apartment building in Crown Heights she calls home, Jemiah Johnson took her turn with the black megaphone. “This building is literally killing us!” the 26-year-old mother shouted to the small crowd of neighbors waving homemade signs scrawled with phrases like DEFEND RENT STRIKERS and TENANT POWER. “My child is waking up three or four times in the middle of the night struggling to breathe.” At the November rally, she and her fellow mask-clad tenants described a long-standing pattern of neglect and shoddy repairs: crumbling ceilings, leaky pipes, walls caked with mold, repeated desultory work that never truly fixes anything. “It’s deplorable,” Johnson said. “And he feels he deserves something for that? I don’t think so.”

The “he” is Jason Korn, called the city’s worst individual landlord in 2019 by Public Advocate Jumanne Williams, and Johnson and 15 other tenants in the building at 1616 President Street who have gone on a rent strike. The pandemic served as their tipping point — several recently lost work and are unable to pay anyway — beginning in May. For a while, it seemed like the strike was going to work: Korn agreed to Zoom negotiations in late October, but then he abruptly pulled out a couple days before they were to begin. Now, he has upped the ante by taking the first step to evicting most of the people in the building, with notices warning rent-striking residents that they will be dragged to housing court unless they pay what they owe.

“I immediately thought, Okay, take me to court,” said Angela Robinson, who has lived in the building with her family for 17 years. “Let the judge see what’s going on. We’re fed up with this nonsense.” Her own President Street horror story started in 2017, when a leak led to a gaping hole in her kitchen ceiling, with the guts of the building spilling out. The problem was only fixed after a lengthy run in housing court, and now she says the mold that once riddled her cabinets and walls is returning. Residents say the same cycle has played out in many units. The landlord has sent a steady stream of handymen through their homes over the years, but they have patched rather than really fixed the problems. Now that those visits come with the risk of COVID-19, rent strikers have begun denying access for repairs until they’re assured that problems will be fixed once and for all.

The issues at 1616 President Street start at the front door — tenants say the locks are defective and the intercom system is broken — and carry throughout many of the apartments. The building, which is run by Lilmor Management, has more than 123 open violations (17 of which were reported over the last two weeks) from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development for conditions that run the gamut from roach and mouse infestations to peeling lead paint to mold issues like Robinson’s.

[…]

Via https://popularresistance.org/tenants-take-on-the-citys-worst-landlord-with-rent-strike/

What Next After Capitalism?

Nowtopia: A Documentary About Economic Alternatives

Masaryk University (2020)

Film Review

Filmed in the Czech Republic and featuring Nowtopia author Chris Carlsson, this documentary looks at the new economic model (which he calls Nowtopia) that is replacing capitalism. The full title of Carlsson’s book is Nowtopia: How Pirate Programmers, Outlaw Bicyclists, and Vacant-Lot Gardeners are Inventing the Future Today. The filmmakers also interview Nadia Johanisova, a Czech expert in heterodox economics and eco-social enterprise. Dismayed at the cutthroat capitalism that replaced capitalism in the Eastern Bloc following the fall of the Soviet Union, Johanisova spent years in England seeking possible alternative economic models to capitalism and communism. What she ultimately eventually discovered was that Czechoslovakia had enjoyed a a vibrant independent cooperative movement even under Soviet communism.

Carlsson breaks down Nowtopia into three main components: de-commodified* activities (both old and new), self-provisioning and mutual aid.

He says it’s easier than people think to opt out of a corporate lifestyle and rely on one another (as opposed to money) to meet our needs. Over the last 50 years, the growing exploitation and oppression of paid work has broken up stable communities throughout the industrialized North. This loss of community has led individuals to live atomized and disconnected lives. This, in turn, makes it hard to imagine relying on one another to meet our needs – as humankind has done for hundreds of thousands of years.

Because the COVID economic crisis has hastened the disintegration of many capitalist structures, the entire industrialized world suddenly has an unexpected opportunity to explore alternatives to capitalism.

In Brno (Czech Republic), this takes the form of community gardens and kitchens, cooperative wineries, a bike kitchen*, and a community makerspace,** where volunteers produce free masks, plastic shields and antibacterial gel.


*Decommodification as a concept comes from the idea that in a market economy, individual persons (and their labor) are exchanged for money or “commodified.” Given that labor is the individual’s primary commodity in the market, decommodification generally refers to activities and efforts that reduce individuals’ reliance on the market (and money) for their well-being.

*Bike kitchens help people repair old bikes with secondhand parts instead of discarding them and buying new ones.

***A makerspace is a collaborative work space inside a school, library or separate public/private facility for making, learning, exploring and sharing that makes a variety of high and low tech tools available to kids, adults and entrepreneurs. Examples of high tech tools include 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines (heavy machines used for cutting wood or other hard material), soldering irons and even sewing machines

Winning back the Internet by building our own

What can we learn from BitTorrent’s success 20 years later? If we want to accept the Internet’s “offer of freedom,” as envisioned by optimistic earlier generations, we must (re)learn this vital lesson: the Internet we are made to pay for is not the only way to connect to one another. We merely need to pave our own digital pathways, to create our own lowercase-i “internets.”

The New Dark Age

18 November 2020 — ROAR

We already have the power, the materials and the motive to win back the Internet. But we have to start with the first step first: owning our own infrastructure.

When mentioning the year 2001, most people may think of the attacks on 9/11. But five months prior to that historic date, another event occurred that would continue to shape history in less dramatic but equally profound ways. In April that year, American computer programmer Bram Cohen began designing BitTorrent, a new file sharing protocol that would almost single-handedly change the music, TV and movie industries for decades to come.

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The Past Lives On: The Elite Strategy To Divide and Conquer

“Let those who think I am wrong about Trump and Biden being players in the same show, consider this. If Trump is truly the opponent of the Deep State, the Swamp, the corrupt establishment, he will pardon Julian Assange, Chelsey Manning, and Edward Snowden who have been persecuted by these forces. He has nothing left to lose as he exits stage right.”

Phi Quyền Chính - Anarchism: The Tao Of Anarchy

The Past Lives On: The Elite Strategy To Divide and Conquer

By Edward Curtin

EdwardCurtin.com

December 1, 2020

They call my people the White Lower Middle Class these days. It is an ugly, ice-cold phrase, the result, I suppose, of the missionary zeal of those sociologists who still think you can place human beings on charts.  It most certainly does not sound like a description of people on the edge of open, sustained and possibly violent revolt,” wrote the marvelous New York journalist, Pete Hamill in “The Revolt of the White Lower Middle Class” in New York magazine.  He added:

The White Lower Middle Class? Say that magic phrase at a cocktail party on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and monstrous images arise from the American demonology. Here comes the murderous rabble: fat, well-fed, bigoted, ignorant, an army of beer-soaked Irishmen, violence-loving Italians, hate-filled Poles. Lithuanians…

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Greece: Lesbos Camp Refugees Have No Protection from the Cold

Refugees on the Island of Lesbos, Greece, 2020.

Refugees on the Island of Lesbos, Greece, 2020. | Photo: Twitter/ @franceculture

Telesur

The refugees were transferred to the Kara Tepe area after the Moria camp burned down in September.

The NGO Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) reported that over 7,000 refugees, who live at the Reception and Identification Center (RIC) in the area of ​​Kara Tepe on Lesvos island, face winter with no protection against the cold.

“There are not enough blankets. We do not know how we will go through this winter… What breaks our heart is that we do not have humane conditions, they perceive us as animals,” Saeb, a victim of torture from Afghanistan, said.

The refugees were transferred by the Greek authorities to that location after the Moria camp burned down in September. So far, however, the refugees live in unheated tents that are unprepared to withstand the winter rains.

“Despite government assurances on the improvement of reception conditions, coupled with the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, low temperatures and increased humidity, refugees, including hundreds of children as well as many people belonging to vulnerable groups, are living in tents during winter, without knowing whether and when they will be sheltered in containers,” RSA stressed.

[…]

Via https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Greece-Lesbos-Camp-Refugees-Have-No-Protection-From-the-Cold-20201201-0010.html

Land Dispossession and Imperialism Repackaged as ‘Feeding the World’

Western agribusiness has been coveting Ukraine’s agriculture sector for quite some time, long before the coup. That country contains one third of all arable land in Europe. An article by Oriental Review in 2015 noted that since the mid-90s the Ukrainian-Americans at the helm of the US-Ukraine Business Council had been instrumental in encouraging the foreign control of Ukrainian agriculture.

The New Dark Age

30 November, 2020 — Global Research

By Colin Todhunter

The world is fast losing farms and farmers through the concentration of land into the hands of rich and powerful land speculators and agribusiness corporations. Smallholder farmers are being criminalised and even made to disappear when it comes to the struggle for land. They are constantly exposed to systematic expulsion.

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Indigenous Women Lead Struggle Against Wealthiest People in US

East Coast Freedom Council

Red Nation

While the United States shudders in the shambles of another election year, whether from a collective sigh of relief or fear of what’s to come, a different system of governance blooms in a swath of woodlands jutting into the Atlantic Ocean. This shandy shoreline now part of what is called Long Island has always been home to the Shinnecock people. A group of Shinnecock women, organized as the Warriors of the Sunrise, are called to rise up in the face of invasive settlement. This is not their first battle.

Warriors of the Sunrise addressing media after the lighting of a ceremonial fire to kick-off Sovereignty Camp 2020.

Members of the Shinnecock Nation know of a time before there was a Southampton, before there was a State of New York. Since the land emerged after the last Ice Age, able to support human life thousands of years ago, the Shinnecock people have lived on what has only recently been called Long Island. Since European settlers arrived in the region in the early 1600s, the Shinnecocks have been fighting against dispossession and intentional, exploitative underdevelopment.

While the uber wealthy flock to their multi-million homes in the Hamptons and continue their leisure practices on the sacred grounds of Shinnecock Hills, the original peoples of the land struggle to raise themselves out of poverty every year. This is not for lack of effort, knowledge and collective will. The land has always been abundant and Shinnecock people have continued to steward incredible ecosystems despite the environmental destruction which followed residential encroachment by the elite. For decades modern-day settlers and colonists have given no regard to the calls of the Shinnecock people to respect and preserve their ancestral grave sites; they have continued to build their mansions and golf courses as they unearth the remains of Shinnecock tribal members. Forcefully relegating the Shinnecock to small reservations, surrounded by the hollow grandeur of seasonally empty mansions and dried up swimming pools, the town and state would prefer to act as if the Shinnecock simply do not exist.

[…]

Via https://therednation.org/these-indigenous-women-are-leading-a-land-struggle-against-the-wealthiest-people-in-the-us/

Parsing the vast, deadly problem of e-waste

In a telling move that could hint of good things to come, a committee of the British Parliament has called for rules that would force tech companies and giant vendors like Amazon and eBay to recycle the electronic gear they sell. In addition, they propose that companies should be responsible and pay for the return and safe recycling of those products.

eats shoots 'n leaves

In a telling move that could hint of good things to come, a committee of the British Parliament has called for rules that would force tech companies and giant vendors like Amazon and eBay to recycle the electronic gear they sell.

In addition, they propose that companies should be responsible and pay for the return and safe recycling of those products.

Also included in their plan are proposals that would guarantee the user’s ability to repair the products themselves, and a reduction in sales taxes on repair services.

From the Guardian:

Global giants such as Amazon and Apple should be made responsible for helping to collect, recycle and repair their products to cut the 155,000 tonnes of electronic waste being thrown away each year in the UK, MPs say.

An investigation by the environmental audit committee found the UK is lagging behind other countries and failing to create a…

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Hiding Nuclear Waste Because It Can’t Be Disposed Of

Federal agencies and nuclear corporations continue to wrestle over what to do with the already tens of thousands of tons of high-level radioactive waste (at least 90,000 at last count) generated by America’s commercial nuclear power plants — all casked up with nowhere to go (and a lot of it still in the fuel pools). Because, absent alchemy, that waste is always going to be somewhere, even if we can’t see it.

Beyond Nuclear International

Why we shouldn’t be talking about nuclear waste “disposal”

By Linda Pentz Gunter

(Note: Please join a webinar on nuclear waste hosted by the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Washington, DC, and moderated by Beyond Nuclear, to discuss the World Nuclear Waste Report with its editor, Arne Jungjohann, and US chapter author and former Nuclear Regulatory Commission chair, Allison Macfarlane, on December 3 from 1pm-2:30pm Eastern US time. Click here to register.)

Let’s get one thing clear right off the bat. You don’t “dispose” of nuclear waste.

The ill-suited, now canceled, but never quite dead radioactive waste repository at Yucca Mountain was not a “disposal” site.

The radioactive mud being dredged from the sea bed at the Hinkley C nuclear site in the UK, is not going to get “disposed of” in Cardiff Grounds (a mile off the Welsh coast).

When Germany dumped radioactive waste in drums into the salt mines of Asse, it…

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Secret Exxon Documents Show the Firm May Never Recover

The new outlook comes amid a wildly awful year for the fossil fuel giant, which has lost more than $1 billion since the pandemic began. Last month, Chevron overtook Exxon as the biggest energy company in the U.S., and soon after, Exxon analysts said it is facing financial losses for the third quarter in a row.

AGR Daily News

The economic fallout of the covid-19 pandemic has hit the oil industry hard, and Exxon in particular is feeling it. Internal documents show the company’s not expecting to make a grand recovery any time soon despite putting on a good face for shareholders.

Exxon is expecting oil prices to fall over most of the next decade. The firm has lowered its projections for future oil prices for each of the next seven years by between 11% and 17%, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing a report composed at September financial planning meetings it obtained.

earther.gizmodo Secret Exxon Documents Show the Firm May Never Recover

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