Columbia Asks NYPD to Police Campus - The Wednesday AM Quickie 5/1/24

Some day we're going to have a reckoning over gambling in this country. For now, you can bet on how boozy customers perform on games at Dave & Buster's. -Jacob

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NYPD Storms Columbia to Arrest Protesters

Last night, at the request of Columbia University's president Minouche Shafik, members of the NYPD's Strategic Response Group, a specialized unit supposedly dealing in high-tech gadgetry that was created to stop terrorist attacks, raided Columbia's campus and arrested dozens of student protesters. Armed with riot gear, hundreds of cops cleared out the university's Gaza solidarity encampment. Using some kind of fire-truck-like vehicle, they entered the second floor of Hamilton Hall, which was occupied by protesters less than 24 hours earlier. By 11pm, the NYPD had zip-tied and photographed and frog-marched protesters onto a bus, which would take them to jail. The police pronounced the area free of protesters.

Like other universities that invited cops to abuse their students, Shafik claimed that she had done so out of "serious safety concerns." Amidst dozens or even hundreds of protests nationwide, there have been some reports of property damage and violations of trespassing laws and camping ordnances. But most of the violence that has occurred has been by police against protesters, more than 1,000 of whom have been arrested across the country. Some protesters have been evicted from their dorms and expelled.

Other universities have chosen to negotiate with protesters, at times unsuccessfully. USC's president has met twice with protesters, saying she respects "the passion they feel for their cause" but thought they were asking for her political support more than "practical solutions." At Brown, protesters and the administration reached an agreement in which the local encampment would be dismantled and Brown's board would later vote on divesting from Israeli companies.

Columbia asked the NYPD to stay on-campus through May 17 "to maintain order and ensure encampments are not reestablished." University administrators seem intent on imposing a new law-and-order paradigm on student activism. Tear gas is welcome on campus, as long as it comes bearing the president's imprimatur.

"We trust that you will take care and caution when removing any individual from our campus," said Shafik.

Should we be reassured?

Democrats Win Special Election for New York House Seat

In New York's 26th Congressional District, Democratic state senator Tim Kennedy handily beat Republican town supervisor Gary Dickson to win a special election for a seat in the House of Representatives. The win reduces the Republican House majority, with the balance of power now sitting at 217 Republicans, 213 Democrats, and five vacancies. This particular seat opened after 10-term Democratic congressman Brian Higgins resigned earlier this year, preferring a job as the head of a performing arts center to the gridlock and corruption of Washington. Kennedy will have to defend his new seat in the fall – there's a primary in just a couple months – but given that it's a deep blue district with few notable challengers, he's likely on a glidepath to re-election.

Netanyahu: We're Invading Rafah "With or Without a Deal"

Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu vowed yesterday that the IDF will invade Rafah, the last redoubt for more than a million displaced Gazans, no matter if his government reaches a hostage deal with Hamas. "The idea that we will halt the war before achieving all of its goals is out of the question," he said, pledging to "achieve the total victory." Netanyahu has been egged on by hardliners in his already right-wing government but seems quite motivated on his own to destroy Gaza. Families of Israeli hostages have maintained steady protests outside Netanyahu's office and claimed that his government doesn't care about rescuing hostages.


  • Silicon Valley Billionaires Are Organizing For Trump Elon Musk and his friend David Sacks, a politically connected venture capitalist and prominent Republican donor, hosted a dinner that included Michael Milken, Rupert Murdoch, Peter Thiel, and Steve Mnuchin. The strategy meeting could presage an official Musk endorsement of Trump. via Puck.
  • DEA Will Reschedule Marijuana As Less Dangerous The DEA intends to reclassify marijuana, moving it from the most restrictive category of Schedule I to Schedule III. The move is a ways off from legalization. Twenty-four states have legalized recreational marijuana, but dispensaries in these states would still have to register with the DEA. via Associated Press.
  • Texas Border Cities Are Boosting Surveillance Capabilities Law enforcement in communities along the Texas-Mexico border are investing in technologies that can pick up signals from a "cell phone, smartwatch, wireless earbuds, car entertainment systems and license plates" in order to track someone's location. Pioneered in war zones overseas, the new tech shows how easy it can be to track people here at home, while testing the legal limits of warrantless surveillance. via Notus.
  • Biden Administration Might Allow Some Palestinian Refugees Into the US In a move that is sure to excite the racist passions of Republican politicians, the Biden administration is considering welcoming some Palestinian refugees to resettle in the US. Whatever number the administration settles on is likely to be small – less than 600 Palestinian refugees have been admitted into the US in the last 10 years. via CBS News.



That's how many months Changpeng Zhao, founder of Binance, the world's largest crypto exchange, will spend in federal prison. Zhao, widely known as CZ, pleaded guilty to charges related to his overseeing a crypto exchange that offered a free pass to money laundering, terrorists, and states evading sanctions. Binance was previously fined $4.3 billion, one of the biggest penalties in US corporate history. Given the recent 25-year sentence imposed on fallen FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried, whose business looked a lot like Binance, CZ probably was wise to cooperate.


5/1: It's Hump Day! Sam speaks with Tyler Vasseur, letter carrier and shop steward in the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), Branch 9, to discuss his recent piece in Labor Notes entitled "Momentum for Open Bargaining Grows in the Letter Carriers." Then, Sam speaks with David Dayen, executive editor at the American Prospect, to discuss his recent piece outlining the new FTC rule regarding non-compete clauses, co-authored with Luke Goldstein.


Reporter Fed Up With Israeli Spokesperson's Lies

This Norwegian journalist refused to buy unproven claims that Gazan hospitals were Hamas command centers.

Jerry Seinfeld Goes Full Reactionary Hack

It's not that people don't like comedy today, Jerry. They just don't like your politics.


"Today locked out of offices. Not just a place of work but the place we define by our teaching and research without which it is literally nothing more than a bunch of badly managed assets and a hospital."

-- Historian Adam Tooze, who happens to be one of Columbia's most high-profile professors, lamenting the university's crackdown on campus protest, which has included severely limiting access to university facilities.

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