What Happens Now with a President-Elect Trump?

NOTE: The words “President-Elect Donald Trump” are not the ones I had expected to be typing this morning, and as it is for a great many in the US and around the world, the shock has not worn off me by morning. But six days ago I did write this essay looking ahead at what the consequences of a Trump election could be and sent it to subscribers of my newsletter, supporters of the Fund for Authentic Journalism. I’ll have more to say soon but I’ll share these first thoughts with a wider public now. – Al Giordano
November 3, 2016: Apologies in advance for such a stress-inducing headline, but let’s talk about the 900 pound orangutan in the room: What if we wake up on Wednesday to Donald J. Trump as president elect of the United States of America?
Since everyone is on pins and needles about it, let’s have this conversation.
The first thing: Life as we knew it and expected it to unfold will never be the same. American fascism will have arrived and the worst, most violent elements in society will feel emboldened to harm everyone they consider as “the other” with impunity. The burning of the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Greenville, Mississippi this week by Trump supporters is merely the opening salvo. The internal conflict within the FBI in public view right now will afflict every police agency, federal, state and local, as openly authoritarian elements attempt to seize control. Hate crimes will rise against women, people of color and the LGBT communities precisely as law enforcement turns a blind eye to much of it. Look for entire new demographic groups to be targeted, too: Those 20 million who newly have health care, many of whom had preexisting conditions, people living with disabilities and others will be added to the list of national scapegoats. The attempt to repeal Obamacare will be a literal death sentence for many of us.
Those of us who have lived in countries under authoritarian rule have spent recent months having our own conversation about what is happening in the USA. We do it in whispers because most of you will not believe us no matter how loudly we shout about what a Trump election would bring down the ‘pike. We shake our heads and feel a great wave of pity for most Americans who have no idea what tyranny really looks or feels like. Tyranny – contrary to popular myth – is asymmetric. It hits from all sides, crevices, nooks and crannies, from the dark places, the shadows. The figurehead’s power above merely provides it cover. It has the same paramilitary logic of what was endured in Latin America’s dirty wars and the dictatorships across the sea that gave rise to the Arab Spring. When Donald J. Trump praises strongmen leaders across the globe he is giving his “tell” of how he would govern – with a clenched fist.
Worse, the response from that part of America that defines itself as “the left” (I am speaking of the white and academic “left” since so few organized people of color are foolish enough to claim an already discredited mantle) is totally unequipped to address it yet they will attempt once again to place themselves at the vanguard of resistance without any lived experience leading an actual resistance, much less winning one. Senator Sanders’ “Our Revolution” PAC will seek to fundraise off every injustice as aggressively as it has over the Native American resistance to the pipeline in the Dakotas. The remnants of “Occupy” now under a thousand new names will call for demonstrations without guidelines, training or discipline and that in the name of “diversity of tactics” allow any asshole who wants to call himself “Black Bloc” to don ski masks and toss trash cans through store windows. President Trump is gonna love those demonstrations because it will allow him to sell all kinds of repression to his base. White men will vault to the front of these groups saying, “follow me!” Yet they have not a clue as to how a real movement is built or won. They feel entitled to it anyway. It will be more of the same attempts to re-center whiteness and maleness with the cheerleading of Jacobin magazine, some writers at The Nation, Democracy Now and Reddit dudebro forums.
The election of Trump will mark the exact moment of failure of manhood in America. The only possible new leadership will have to come from women, especially women of color, who already live in Trump’s America and have more experience navigating such a world, far more than we guys can learn in the short time we’ll have to build an authentic resistance. Mexican-American and Muslim-American women will be the first hit and instead of letting the dudebro aspirants set the tone it will be up to all of us to follow those women into battle instead.
The only authentic resistance to the policies of a Trump presidency will make nonviolence its watchword, and unapologetically so. To participate, you’re going to have to get training in nonviolent civil resistance. I’m not speaking of the “express trainings” by dudebro groups like “Democracy Spring” with fawning celebrity dilettantes like Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, but, rather, sessions that last a minimum of eight hours or, ideally, an entire weekend or more and are led and organized by women of experience at it and especially women of color.
Many of these will have to take place in Mexico, which will take on a special role as a Trump-free zone with the support of the general population. Learning Spanish would be a real good idea for any American who really wants to chase dictatorship back down its rabbit hole.
The resistance will not be led by the Green or Libertarian Parties, “Occupy” activists or any similar fringe: Their brands of “leadership” are what got us into this mess in the first place.
The revolution will be authentically multi-racial, a true partnership, women-led and nonviolent or there will be no chance of success at all.
Finally, we’re going to have to say goodbye to some former “allies” who spent this election dragging down the one woman who stood in the way of a Trump presidency. I can say, for example, that the School of Authentic Journalism we hold in Mexico won’t ever be inviting any of them down: that would disrespect our Mexican hosts whose families will bear the biggest brunt of an America under Trump. (Thankfully, out of five hundred to whom we have given scholarships over the past thirteen years, only three have jumped that shark, and one just loudly recanted, begging people to disregard every asinine thing he’s written over the past year about this election! That happened today.)
Me? I’m ready to play an auxiliary role in a women and women of color-led resistance to a Trump’s America. They’re the only reason we have a candidate with a chance of defeating him on Tuesday. They’ve saved America once already this year. It’s time for us boys to start taking orders instead of barking them while wagging our finger at the gals. And it’s the only possible guarantee against Trumpism infecting the movement against his policies. Real men – like President Obama – will know just how to play that supportive role. He’ll be doing it from an organizing academy out of the coming Obama Museum in Chicago – and win or lose this election I expect to see y’all there, too.
If you’re reading these words and thinking, “Gee, Al makes it sound so much fun, maybe we need a Trump regime to kick our asses!” Nope. Millions of lives will be ruined, many ended prematurely. One of them might be yours. People you love will be crushed under it. This scenario is the most un-fun thing imaginable. And the chances of success will be greatly stacked against us. The American people are not prepared to be soldiers in a nonviolent war to reclaim the country. It would take decades, probably generations, to turn back the tide. In the meantime, there will only be pain and suffering.
Americans have it pretty damn good today. That’s why people from all the other lands want to come and live and work in it. Don’t blow it, America, out of a misguided and purely academic theory that things have to get worse before they can get better. That’s children’s talk. And history has never happened that way.
If you don’t like the truths I’ve just thrown at you, there are still four days of phone banking, door knocking, data entry and driving people to the polls left to make for a different and better reality, one in which fascist law enforcement agents don’t run amok and where black churches and Muslim and Jewish and Spanish language temples don’t get regularly burned to the ground. I can think of no clearer imagery to visualize what a Trump presidency would be like. Forewarned is forearmed. Vote. The country – and world – you live in will be decided on Tuesday.
(The newsletter, Al Giordano's América, goes to donors of $70 or more to The Fund for Authentic Journalism during the calendar year in which the donation is made.)

Join the “Not the GOP Convention” Party on a Mexican Beach

At Our 16th Anniversary Celebration We’ll Watch Our Old Rival Donald Trump from the Other Side of His Wall

By Al Giordano

Mental health professionals are warning about the stresses, and depressions likely to afflict many people – and not just North Americans - over the possibility that Donald Trump could get his tiny little hands on the most powerful job on earth. Some have noted that the week of the GOP convention, July 18 to 21, will be particularly hard on many.

Not to worry, América: The doctor is in!

Since this is the online newspaper that already defeated Mr. Trump once before – when we sent him and his Miss Universe pageant packing from Oaxaca, Mexico in 2007 – the presumptive Republican nominee for president of the United States is no mystery to us here. We made a careful study of his strengths and weaknesses and used them against him by wielding the power of authentic journalism.

The cure we offer for the stresses of having to watch him ascend to a major party nomination will come during those four days in July on a pristine Caribbean beach in Mexico, in a small “drinking village with a fishing problem” not far from Cancun and its international airport.

Admit it: You’re probably going to watch that damn convention anyway, so you might as well do it among friends rather than alone in your room from between your knees (the way many people watch horror films). Invitations to this four-night gala fiesta are strictly for supporters of the nonprofit Fund for Authentic Journalism who pay their own travel, lodging, food and drink, who don’t want to build a wall (nor make Mexico pay for it), and who agree to the event guidelines. Once you’ve checked those boxes, you get your party invitations complete with amazing discounts offered by the Mexican people, their hotel and restaurant owners & workers, fishermen and respected guests.

And if watching the four nights of convention proceedings still irks you, we’ll raise a Trump piñata and hand you a stick for your therapeutic opportunity beet the hell out of him in effigy.

This is a politician, after all, who called Mexicans “rapists” and has vowed to deport millions of them. If you don’t like him, believe me, you’re going be among friends south of the border when you attend this party.

(Very soon we will make these authentic Made-in-Mexico Trump Piñatas - this is a prototype, but we're going to make the skin a bit more orange - available as a mail order gift for donors in the United States and elsewhere: Stay tuned!)

I’ll give you more details in a moment about our plans and the special hotel rates being offered (we’ll hook you up directly with trusted providers, and we won’t even collect a percent off it), and more.  In past years we’ve held the Narco News anniversary celebrations in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Mexico City and elsewhere. But we’ve never done it until now at the beach.

The dates are Monday, July 18 through Thursday night July 21. In the evenings, you’ll be invited to the exclusive happy hour to mix and mingle with graduates of the School of Authentic Journalism and others. We’ll watch the prime time proceedings of the Republican National Convention together in a fine restaurant that offers great food and drink at economic prices, and afterward offer some entertainment and analysis of the evening’s news events we’ve just watched together. The party will surely go as late as folks are up for it.

During daytime hours, you’ll have free time: to hit the beach, go on boat trips, snorkel, scuba dive, visit the region’s underground springs, nature reserves, indigenous communities, fine restaurants and other tourist activities, or just read a book, and each afternoon we’ll convene by 5 p.m. for the evening’s festivities. Of course you’ll meet other great attendees who may well want to do those daytime things with you, and we’ll introduce you to bilingual guides who we trust to aid you with anything the region offers.

Confirmed special guests at the event include (so far) author and publisher Susie Bright, artist Jon Bailiff, and performance artist Alexandra Tatarsky who will premier parts of her one-woman show about Trump and the US elections during these events. And of course yours truly will be there as well to offer nightly analysis of the news content of the convention speeches and events.

How to Obtain an Invitation to the Fiesta

It’s easy. Just follow each of these steps in order:

1. Invitation: Donate $150 to the Fund for Authentic Journalism

You can do that via its web page: authenticjournalism.org. Your donation also gets you a rest-of-2016 gift subscription to my newsletter, Al Giordano’s América. NOTE: If you’re already a subscriber, and read Monday’s issue, you know that you enjoy a major discount from this donation level, and so does any guest you bring with you who registers before June 18, one month before the event.

2. Manners: Agree to the Event Guidelines

Once you have made your donation, send me an email at narconews@gmail.com, copy and paste this next paragraph, and then type “I agree to the event guidelines.”

“As a supporter of authentic journalism I request an invitation to the ‘Not the GOP Convention’ four-night gathering in a Mexican beach town, and agree to the following guidelines: I understand that neither the Fund for Authentic Journalism nor Narco News nor any of its members are a vendor of any services and that I am responsible for my own travel, room, board and costs to be paid to the vendors I choose, who may or may not be recommended by the event coordinators. I indemnify the nonprofit Fund for Authentic Journalism, Al Giordano and anyone else associated with the organization from financial or other costs associated with my travel and stay in Mexico, including personal injury or loss of property due to theft or breakage. I agree to be kind and respectful to everyone I meet through this event, including hotel and restaurant staff and other vendors. I agree to tip staff at least ten percent on meals and drinks. I will respect the rules of the establishments I patronize and understand that some may allow tobacco smoking and I will be tolerant toward smokers. I understand that these four nights of events are not a debating society, a decision-making meeting, or anything that involves group process. I agree to be nonviolent, not to annoy or harass others, and understand that failure to meet any of these guidelines can result in withdrawal of my invitation at any moment with no refund of my donation. In sum, I agree to be nice.

Again, copy and paste that paragraph in an email to narconews@gmail.com and add “I agree,” and you’ll receive direct access to the special discounts on lodging that supporters in Mexico have added to this event.

3. Travel: Book your travel tickets to Cancun

You will fly to the Cancun Airport on the Caribbean peninsula of Mexico. There are direct flights from Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco and Washington DC, and connecting flights from almost everywhere else through one of those.

From most of those destinations you can find a flight for those dates for under $400 round trip.

To take a taxi from the airport to our fishing village would be about $43 dollars, or there is a passenger bus from the airport to town for about five dollars if you want to do it on the cheap. We can also make arrangements to have a trusted driver meet you at the airport.

A return taxi to the airport is about $20 dollars.

4. Lodging: These Deals Are Available on a First Come Basis

Prices listed are per room per night for one or two people. For a third or additional people add $20 per night per person.

Beachfront Hotel:

Suite $95

Studio $80

One block from shore, ceiling fan, breakfast included:

1 double bed: $75

One block from shore, air conditioning, breakfast included:

2 queen beds: $75

Rental Home in same area:

3 bedrooms, pool, air conditioning, breakfast: $150

One block from shore, with pool, air conditioning:

Two bedroom suite: $120

One bedroom $95

Studio: $80

Also one block from shore, air conditioning:

2 bedroom: $130

1 bedroom: $80

3 blocks from shore (Motel style), air conditioning:

Two beds in same room: $50

It is possible to get these same prices arriving days early or staying extra days, if the room is available.

Once you’ve donated at the above-mentioned levels and emailed me at narconews@gmail.com I will put you in direct contact with the renters and hotel websites and give you the code to obtain the discount where applicable. You’ll be responsible for booking your own lodging. I urge you to read the information about your room carefully (on amenities, rules, etcetera) before booking your room so that there are no surprises when you arrive. All said, these are very nice rooms! Most also include kitchenette, coffee maker and refrigerator. All have internet and cable TV. But, again, make sure to confirm each of those amenities when booking your rooms. We’re not the vendor or agent here, and we collect no percentage of the business. We’re simply introducing you to those who have offered these special prices so you can deal directly with them. All speak English and Spanish.

There will likely be some group activities available during the day, probably at least one large buffet brunch. If you have specific interests in any of the aforementioned daytime activities and want to book tours in advance, simply let me know. It will also be easy to book them from there with a day’s notice.

Our presenters and I will be mainly available to everyone in the evenings: before, during and after each night’s convention watch festivities. For those of you who wish to blog or tweet about the events, there will be wi fi. We will purchase extra bandwidth so hopefully there will be enough to go around.

In Sum: Come to the “Not The GOP Convention” Fiesta!

I can’t think of a better way to watch the Trump coronation than from Mexico among friends. If you feel the same, donate $150 to authenticjournalism.org (or if already a subscriber to Al Giordano’s América, consult recent issues for information on your discount).

Or you can simply donate $70 to subscribe today and take advantage of the offers therein.

The registration fee is per person (but subscriber guests also receive a discount).

The key thing about this invitation is to support the nonprofit Fund for Authentic Journalism, the work and training of independent journalists through Narco News and the School of Authentic Journalism. Head on over to the website now, donate from there, and then follow the instructions above to get your invitation to the four days of convention watch fiesta on the Mexican beach, where we'll also celebrate the sixteenth anniversary of this publication.

Here's the link to donate: www.authenticjournalism.org

See you there. First drink is on me.

Welcome to the Bronx: A Subscriber-Only Essay Goes Public

By Al Giordano

April 24, 2016


This is an essay I published last week exclusively for subscribers to my newsletter, Al Giordano’s América. Many of those subscribers have urged me to share it more publicly. It was an introduction to my projections for Tuesday’s New York primary results and tells the story of the South Bronx neighborhoods where I first learned, as a boy, about community organizing and politics.

Donors of $70 or more to the Fund for Authentic Journalism receive the irregular newsletter (four issues came out during 2015, but 14 have already been sent in 2016 in large part because, as in 2004 and 2008, I’m sharing mathematical projections before the vote on the results of the presidential primaries – Democratic and Republican – in the United States). The newsletter has brought hundreds of new supporters to our work at Narco News and the School of Authentic Journalism.

If during 2016 you’ve already donated $70 or more and have not yet requested the newsletter, simply email me at narconews@gmail.com and I’ll put you on the list in time for tomorrow’s issue with projections for the Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware primaries. It will include an essay that relates what I learned in my organizing days in Pennsylvania as a young organizer learning from Abbie Hoffman and others.

If you’ve not yet donated $70 you can do so via the authenticjournalism.org website.

Meanwhile, here’s an example of what subscribers are receiving. My NY projections – as with 30 of 32 Democratic primaries held so far – were accurate, including my claim that the Bronx would deliver the highest margin in the state to Secretary Clinton, largely for the reasons spelled out in this essay, which is made available free for all today.

NY Primary Projections Issue (April 18, 2016):

A Ten-Year-Old Takes Over this Issue & Says…

¡Bienvenidos al Bronx!

“Father Louis Gigante, the fighting priest of Saint Athanasius, had also joined the race. On a rotten, rainy day he staked himself out in front of a Hunt’s Point lot strewn with cannibalized cars and old garbage and declared his own candidacy, thereby becoming the first priest in New York State to run for Congress.”

-       from South Bronx Rising: The Rise, Fall and Resurrection of an American City, by Jill Jonnes (Fordham University Press, 2002)

A couple of weeks ago the campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders called its supporters to a rally in the South Bronx.

Over the course of the afternoon reports cluttered social media that the 2, 5 and 6 trains on the New York City subway system were filled with people headed to the Sanders rally from outside the Bronx. “I’ve never seen so many white people on this train,” commented a friend. 

Soon many of those folks posted photos of the mostly Caucasian Sanders fans streaming toward St. Mary’s Park in the Mott Haven neighborhood. Many posted photos of themselves with their homemade Bernie placards or performance art get-ups. And when a photo included maybe one or two or a lesser number of black or Latino people they’d exclaim that they’d never seen such “diversity!”

The Mott Haven neighborhood, according to the US Census, is only 1.7 percent white. Most of the residents are Hispanic, the bulk of them of Puerto Rican, which of course includes many afro-Latinos. I thought, well, maybe this could be a good thing. Maybe these Sanders fans will learn something of the story of these neighborhoods, and from how they organized and won.

From here in Mexico City I turned on the live stream to watch the rally via Internet. The warm-up speakers were a Coney Island-born Latina Hollywood actress, a Puerto Rico-born musical talent, and an African-American film director from Brooklyn. If any of them knew anything about the sacred ground they were standing upon they made no mention of it.

They were followed by a candidate who seemed equally oblivious that he was a visitor in a place of history: a collection of neighborhoods that pulled themselves out of ruin and forced the city, state and national governments to serve them instead of the same special interests that the candidate said he opposed.

Nobody from the South Bronx, or anywhere in Bronx, was passed the microphone to tell its story or their own to the visitors. And nothing of substance was mentioned about them.

I have long considered the credo that “All Politics is Local” to be the promise of democracy, and campaigns to be the best opportunity for people at the most grassroots level to be heard by political candidates.

Readers of this newsletter know that last spring I had warned that Sanders’ form of economic populism carried in its DNA a dangerous undertow of white supremacy. I’m not sure that many really “got” that at the time. But on March 31, as hipsters carried placards into the neighborhood more than a few of which proclaimed “the Bronx is Berning,” they unleashed in me a repressed memory from those streets associated with a smell: the suffocating odor of the burned out buildings in those same neighborhoods when I was a boy of nine and ten years old: the pestilent scent of arson, neglect born of racism, economic and physical violence and the misery imposed by them.

Before I give you my projections for tomorrow’s New York Primary, I want you to know the story about the South Bronx that nobody from that Sanders rally stage appeared to have a clue about as it used this proud Latino neighborhood as a prop.

The passage, above, about the 1970 announcement of a campaign for Congress in the South Bronx is not something I first read in a book. I was there that day on that vacant lot. I was ten. It was my first political campaign. The next stop that day was the steps of St. Athanasius parish for a campaign rally where schoolgirls a few years older than I in their plaid-skirted uniforms performed a cheerleading dance for Father Lou Gigante, the candidate. I stood next to Father G on those steps, along with his campaign manager, whose name you might know, Al Giordano: Not me, my dad.

Father G had been ordained into the priesthood in late 1959. I was born on the final day of that year. When I visited him in his South Bronx office three years ago to record his story, Father G told me that I was the first child he had baptized (something I never knew). He and my pop, two Italian guys from New York, had met in college and had organized together there to stop the practice of hazing by fraternities, a bond that continued when they returned to New York.

Two years later the Church assigned a 29-year-old Father G to St. Athanasius, first sending him to Puerto Rico to learn Spanish in an immersion program designed by the philosopher priest Ivan Illich. He had been thrown into a neighborhood – Longwood, next door to Mott Haven – that had been increasingly abandoned by the most basic public services and inflicted by absentee slumlords. The idealistic young cleric from Greenwich Village in Manhattan, a former basketball star at Georgetown University, plunged himself into the problems of his parishioners: buildings without heat in the winter, without water – not even in the fire hydrants – and with landlords who did not maintain them.

The South Bronx Rising book ably relates the details: Many buildings went up in smoke, displacing families, due to faulty wiring and firetrap construction, but a commission appointed by then Mayor John Lindsey found that many had also burned down due what it called a conspiracy to arson by landlords to collect on lucrative insurance policies.

The pitch smell wafted permanently into the apartments of the neighboring buildings that were still standing. When some of the blazed buildings were demolished the vacant lots became garbage dumps and breeding grounds for infestations of rats throughout Longwood, Mott Haven, Hunts Point and the rest of the South Bronx. The children of the neighborhood suffered high rates of illness, infection and asthma. In the cold weather months, the permanent smell of gas mixed in with that of charred wreckage, since the only heat that many apartments had came from the oven, door kept open, so as not to freeze.

Into this chaos drug dealing grew as an economic power in a place where few had money. Dealers formed gangs, who terrorized the neighbors in manifold ways. Members of the Latino middle class began to flee, leaving the poor to fend for themselves. “White” was not the only flight in the 1960s in New York.

By 1967 schoolteachers in Longwood were petitioning the city to fix the miserable conditions in which their students lived. Father G had seen enough, and one night organized the neighborhood residents to empty the burned-out buildings of anything flammable. They set fires in barrels in the middle of the street in protest.

These events soon pitted the upstart radical priest and his Simpson Street Development Association, run out of a storefront near to St. Athanasius, against the area’s rising political boss Ramon Velez. A neighborhood ally of Gigante was murdered, and most believed Velez had orchestrated it. Velez, who saw Father G as standing between him and political control of the neighborhood, taunted him as a carpetbagger and “missionary.” One night he called the priest a “maricón,” an anti-gay slur, and the people’s priest decked Ramon with a punch that remains legendary in New York political lore.

One had to be tough to survive in Longwood, and tougher to organize in it. That Gigante’s three brothers were notorious and reputed organized crime figures in Manhattan – his brother Vincent, known as “the Chin,” would rise to the highest rank in the Genovese crime organization – dogged Father G in the tabloid media but also gave him a street cred with local youths, the original authors of his “Father G” nickname.

Once when bringing South Bronx teens by subway to a basketball tournament in Brooklyn – Father G used his sports acumen effectively to organize – he told the kids, “If you cause any trouble where we’re going, I’ll kill you.” And the kids believed him! Eventually many of those same youths organized to kick the gangs out of the neighborhood because police would not or could not.

In 1969, Gigante organized a campaign called Summer in the City. If the government and landlords would not clean up the neighborhood, the people would do it themselves. He called on Catholic churches from outside the South Bronx, including in the suburbs, to send volunteers. St. Philip Neri parish, where he’d baptized me, in the Northwest Bronx, and Saints John & Paul in the Westchester County suburbs of Mamaroneck, where I then lived, were each well represented. Entire weekends were devoted to taking out the trash from the vacant lots, fencing them, painting and doing the overdue plumbing and electric work on apartment buildings. I was nine and these Summer in the City weekends were my introduction to organizing life.

Mainly I’d play with the other kids. One of the innovations of Summer in the City was the installation of water-conserving sprinklers on fire hydrants so on hot summer days when they were opened in lieu of swimming pools they wouldn’t deplete the area’s water supply. We laughed and played under their showers. I learned my first words in Spanish from kids named José and Diego. At the end of each day a gigantic chicken barbecue would feed the residents and volunteers alike. I ate rice and beans and fried platano tostitos, and was introduced to my lifelong love named hot sauce.

One vivid memory, hard to forget, was overturning a decayed piece of sheetrock in one of those lots to find a very large mama rat breastfeeding a litter of pink rodent babies. She jumped to her fours and snarled at us and we kids ran screaming from that lot!

Looking back, I really must credit my parents for letting this nine-year-old kid run free on those streets with the kids who lived there. They trusted in Father G – a regular guest in our home - and trusted the neighborhood residents. I was not micro-managed as a child, and I like to think that’s made all the difference in the world. My own trust in organized communities, born there, would define my entire life ahead of me. My first lessons in civics began there: on Fox Street, Simpson Street and Kelly Street. On 149th Street, where Longwood ended and Mott Haven began. Painting buildings alongside the kids who lived inside them, signing our names to the murals, it was the first time I tasted the ecstasy of being part of something bigger than myself, and with a ripping salsa soundtrack.

The following spring my pop would regularly bring me with him to the campaign headquarters and I’d run with the local kids while he managed the campaign. “Your dad did everything,” Father Lou later told me. “He ran it. He organized the petitions to get me on the ballot, made the strategy, told me where to go and who to see. I didn't understand politics. I was just using the gimmick of a priest running for Congress to bring attention to the South Bronx. Your dad understood it. And we almost won."

(Almost wasn’t enough: pop never did an electoral campaign again. He fell on some hard times – my folks became pioneers of the 1970s wave of divorce – and he moved back to the Bronx where he lived out the rest of his years, most of them driving a New York City taxi.)

In that June 1970 Democratic Primary that pitted two machine politicians – former Bronx Borough president Herman Badillo and Peter Vallone, a judge’s son from Queens – against aspiring boss Ramon Velez, Gigante came within 2,112 votes of winning, but Badillo triumphed. Significantly for the years to come was that Gigante got twice as many votes as Velez, who soon fell from grace and Father Lou filled the vacuum to become the undisputed political leader of the South Bronx. In the mid-70s he was elected to the New York City Council and he formed SEBCO – South Bronx Development, Inc. – which would change the trajectory of all the neighborhoods there.

During the Carter administration, Gigante organized South Bronx voters into a force to be reckoned with, and secured generous federal funds to build low-income housing for the largely Puerto Rican population. The middle class returned. They built thousands of housing units, many of them one- and two-family homes to be owned by their occupants. That concept was at odds back then with almost all existing projects of public housing.

Today, the South Bronx is a rarity: a peaceful, safe and thriving urban neighborhood that did not cave to gentrification in order to revive itself. It remains a Latino barrio with a thriving middle class. The streets are clean and tidy, much more so than in any gentrified neighborhood of New York. People who live there take pride in it. You might even call it “democratic socialism.”

As Father G and I strolled through the neighborhood three years ago, a man walking his dog told him that he has been offered “obscene” amounts of money for his home. “I’m never going to sell,” he said. “I will die here.” That guy had been one of the street kids in his youth who Father G organized to chase out the drug gangs. A land where people feel that kind of pride can never be sold or gentrified.

I honestly believe that had Father Lou not been tailgated by the media so constantly over his brother’s criminal activities he would have risen to become mayor or governor or US Senator. His political skills and instincts are that good. In the books, like the one quoted above, about this story, he is credited as the singular figure that through sheer force of will and insistence on building homes local residents could own saved the neighborhoods. I can identify. He shepherded my own life’s path, too.

So I beg, kind reader, your pardon when I tell you that an invading horde of day-tripping white hipsters from Williamsburg and the East Village came into the South Bronx last month with their disgusting “the Bronx is Berning” signs, taking selfies next to a black or Latino person here or there screeching that it’s the most “diverse” experience of their lives, yes, that does stick in my craw. (And if that’s their idea of “diversity,” they need to get out more.)

Sanders’ visit to the South Bronx was never about winning the votes in 98.3 percent nonwhite Mott Haven or the similar demographics of next-door Longwood. Local residents were not invited to tell their neighborhood story to the visitors. They were not even mentioned, not by the Hollywood starlet, not by the pop star, not even by the presidential candidate. The movie director urged the Sanders supporters to “register to vote,” five days after the deadline had passed. Nobody has to tell the people who live there to register and vote! They know from their own experience that it is what protects them from a return to the real “Bronx is burning” years.

The simulacrum of “diversity” served up by the Sanders campaign in Mott Haven, far from being an earnest attempt to dialogue – or even to “hispander!” - with its 68,000 residents, or the 40,000 in Longwood, or the 50,000 in Hunts Point. Sanders merely used their park as a prop to assuage his own overwhelmingly white supporters’ guilt and let them gullibly continue to ignore that the campaign is a dangerous exercise in white privilege wrapped in “progressive” or “socialist” costume. It wasn’t a campaign event. It was a field trip by people of privilege who felt cool “slumming it” for a day and headed back downtown. Most will never set foot there again.

My projections take into consideration the knowledge that my own feelings of pride for that corner of New York, though strong, don’t compare to those of its residents, those who raised families there and were raised by them, who are preparing a statement tomorrow to be made at the ballot box. The results in the Bronx and the South Bronx in particular are going to be brutal for the Sanders campaign and manna for that of Clinton. A good chunk of the delegate differential statewide is going to come out of the Bronx. The Mott Haven toe-touch rally was insulting to the people. And when you see the results tomorrow evening, I ask that you take this backstory to heart, on behalf of a ten-year-old boy whose memory I have tried to honor in all the years since.

One Week to Save the School of Authentic Journalism

By Al Giordano

111 Heroes Have Pledged to the Kickstarter Campaign but We're Running Out of Time

"In the New York Supreme Court in 2001 we invented an idea called the School of Authentic Journalism. Older, and hopefully wiser, I know now more than ever how important it is to pass these skills - and the power that comes with them - on to the next generations."

Fifteen years ago – after Narco News and its journalists won press freedom rights for the entire Internet in the New York Supreme Court – we created the School of Authentic Journalism to train new generations in the skills and strategies of communicating to change the world. If you’ve already pledged to make the 2016 school happen, thank you.

If you haven’t yet made a pledge we’re running out of time and I plead with you to do so right now at this link:


Last year hundreds of readers, graduates and supporters did rally in the last week to get us to the $25,000 goal. We held a great school in November, the best yet (every new school has been better than the previous ones). But it turned out to be a bit more expensive than we had budgeted which is why we’re forced to seek $30,000 for the 2016 school.

One need only look at how the news media has elevated Donald Trump to become the presumptive Republican nominee for president in the United States to be reminded how urgent it is to train better journalists. Commercial media’s constant search for “ratings” to be able to charge more money for advertising has been what made a monster out of Trump, a man who calls Mexicans “rapists” and promises to build a wall around the country. They’ve given the man hundreds of millions of dollars in free airtime because he brings them those ratings. Yet of more than 500 graduates of the School of Authentic Journalism not one that I know of has participated in that charade. Instead, they’re out there doing the work that reporters are supposed to do, bringing attention to corruption and voice to the voiceless.

It boggles the mind to think that in this media environment – in which everybody knows the media is at fault – it’s still so hard to persuade good people to make even a small pledge to the only project on earth that trains the kinds of journalists and communicators this world so desperately needs.

If we don’t make the goal by March 4, not only will that kill the 2016 school but could cripple it for years to come (remember we were unable to hold the school from 2005 to 2009: objects at rest tend to stay at rest). We’ll have to also seriously assess whether the project of Narco News and the other important projects of the authentic journalism renaissance will be able to continue at all.

I know you’re busy, that your time and resources are valuable. But I also know that you don’t want to wake up on March 5 to hear that this wonderful school – the most important and vital project of my lifetime and that of my colleagues – has ceased to exist because not enough of us made any pledge at all. Even if you have only a very small amount to spare the Kickstarter page lists the number of pledges and as that number grows it creates momentum and encourages others to do the same.

In eight days the School of Authentic Journalism will either march forward to meet the demand of young journalists and communicators who are thirsty for its knowledge and tools, or the school will die. The answer to whether something so extraordinary and necessary will live or die next week is literally in your hands.

It takes only a few seconds to click this link and make a pledge. If we don’t meet the goal your card won’t be charged. If we do succeed it will only be charged after March 4:


The School of Authentic Journalism tells the people who are the future, “Young people, do not give up hope. Here are the skills and the tools to make the world yours.”

I’ve devoted my life to them for the past thirteen years. Now that I’m older (and hopefully wiser) I know more than ever before how important it is to pass these skills and the power that comes with them on to them. I don’t believe you’ll let them down either.

From somewhere in a country called América,


Tomorrow on NY Radio We'll Be Dropping a Bomb on Facebook

By Al Giordano

Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 30 at 6 p.m. ET I'm going on the radio in the media capital of the world at the peak of afternoon drive time.

I've been asked to speak for Narco News and the nonprofit Fund for Authentic Journalism, and I'll announce that we're taking our 27,000+ Facebook users to Tsu as our response to Facebook and Instagram owner Mark Zuckerberg banning links to his upstart competitor last weekend.

And I'll invite all of New York City to join us in the exodus to our new social media home.

Just sign up and join via this link. It’s free. In fact it’s even better than free. Tsu is the first social network on the Internet that returns 90 percent of the ad revenues to the people and organizations that generated the content and the traffic. The Fund for Authentic Journalism has already received more than $1,200 in less than five months there. You have to be invited to join and this link serves as your invitation:


It's all going to happen on The Katie Halper Show, which is a popular Big Apple radio program y'all should be listening to anyway. Katie is a 2010 graduate of the School of Authentic Journalism, and has returned each year since as one of its professors. She's a social humorist, stand-up comic and authentic journalist. The Katie Halper show on 99.5 FM WBAI in New York, in her first few months on the air, has quickly become a “must listen” event each Wednesday afternoon.

(That’s Katie and I in the image, from a photo taken at the 2013 School of Authentic Journalism by Laura Garcia.)

Here’s the link through which you can listen live from anywhere in the world Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET:


Also on the show I'll also talk about the newly selected Class of 2015 for the School of Authentic Journalism, and offer some guidance on how to read what is really happening with the 2016 presidential campaign in the United States.

But the latest aggression by the censorious Facebook - banning links to works of authentic journalism on Tsu, even banning the sharing of such links in private conversation via its Messenger chat feature - is typical of a corporation whose consumer market has ceased to grow and begun to implode.

It was only eight years ago that Facebook told users of MySpace and other social media to come over to Facebook where, we were told, we could recruit our friends, where nonprofits like ours could build our networks, and always have direct, immediate access to our readers and supporters. In December 2012 that proved to be a lie, when Facebook imposed an algorithm limiting those views to just five percent of the people we organized and brought together. Facebook then held our own community hostage demanding we purchase advertisements to reach our own people.

The damage has not just been done to nonprofits, but also to artists, writers, musicians, independent journalists and creators of every stripe. The value of their relationship to their audience has been vacuumed up by one mega-monopoly of Facebook-Instagram-Messenger and a few other big social media sites out there. As a result, creative and inventive people are starving and Internet middlemen have made off with the value of their work.

Now when a new, improved social media has appeared in the form of Tsu - one that acts more like an agent or manager used to do, collecting a reasonable 10 percent off the value we all create on its platform - more than five million people have joined Tsu in what is not even yet its first year of existence (it took Facebook 18 months at first to grow to just one million users). As of last week, more than a million people had downloaded the mobile app for Tsu. This scared Facebook and so it not only banned all future links to your and our work on Tsu, it also erased all previous links! Facebook's censorious tantrum is the wail of a dying beast. We hope you will join us at what are now greener - and fairer - pastures, in the glorious valley of Tsu.

For readers, friends and supporters in or near New York City, I’m in town this week also to celebrate Narco News' 15th anniversary with readers, supporters and friends. If you’d like to join the party Saturday evening, send me an email at narconews@gmail.com for an invitation. We'll start at 8 p.m. And if you've attended any of our previous anniversary fetes, you know already it's an amazing, interesting crowd that includes graduates and professors from the School of Authentic Journalism, the best readers in the word, and artists and journalists of accomplishment in their own fields.

We’re holding the party to raise the modest resources we need to get our newsroom up to date, replace its dying laptop, and obtain additional hard drive storage space for our fifteen years of videos, images and stories (hard drives have to be replaced every five years or so or the data begins to disappear).

If you can't make the benefit celebration on Saturday we invite you to contribute from wherever you are to the Fund for Authentic Journalism via this link:


It’s great to be back in the Big Apple, the city where we won expanded press freedom rights for all Internet journalists once before, and are heading into battle this week to do it again.

Start spreadin' the news: In the immortal words of Victor Hugo, "There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come."

How Authentic Journalism Is Retooling Away from the Internet Middlemen

By Al Giordano
Two key things have fueled the authentic journalism renaissance that has grown up with Narco News and the School of Authentic Journalism: the commitment of the writers, video-makers and other talents who have done the work and trained each other through the school, and the nonprofit Fund for Authentic Journalism through which so many readers and friends have supported that work.
This month, the Fund gave its website an exciting new upgrade, thanks to the volunteer work of graduates of the school. If you haven’t seen it yet, here it is:
We’re also in a life and death battle to make the 2015 School of Authentic Journalism possible, through a Kickstarter campaign that lasts ten more days. So far, 117 supporters have pledged $10,513 toward the $25,000 goal. We have ten more days to reach that threshold. The way Kickstarter campaigns work is that unless enough pledges add up to cross the goal line, the pledgers’ credit and bank cards won’t be billed and the Fund won’t receive any of that money. This would be a great moment to add to the momentum and help get us over the top, via this link:
I mentioned a few days ago that the fate of “Narco News as you know it” also hangs in the balance of this campaign.
However it goes - "Plan A" is to meet the goal and hold the school, but we have a "Plan B" as well - the authentic journalism renaissance will keep marching on. The Fund’s ability to continue supporting the work of independent investigative journalism and the production of top shelf viral videos like the recent NNTV premier of “Danger: Journalists Crossing,” will continue to count on all our support.
We understand that in a global economy where not everybody benefits that it’s not easy for many readers who want to support this work to do so with a donation. And our friends at the Fund have been thinking hard about how to retool in a way that makes it easier even for readers and friends without expendable cash to participate.
We recently found one way we can all – including the journalists who are supported by the Fund – help to build the resources for this work through a new social media platform that shares 90 percent of its ad revenues with its users. It’s called Tsu (pronounced “sue”). It was launched last October, now has 3.7 million users, and in recent days has really started going viral in a massive way.
The Fund for Authentic Journalism set up a new page there – in a moment I’ll give you the link – and is already receiving both a share of the revenues as well as direct donations from its users. It’s very exciting how quickly and easily this has proved to work. 
I should note that nobody involved with the Fund or any of its supported projects owns any part of this new social media. It’s that it shares 90 percent of its revenue with those that participate that may revolutionize how nonprofit projects like the Fund, Narco News and the School of Authentic Journalism assemble the resources so they can survive and thrive for years to come. Nobody puts any money into the social media to be able to participate. But those who participate – because they are generating value simply by spending time there – share in the proceeds.
I’ve had a chance to test-drive the Tsu platform in the past few days and we've set up an outpost for the Fund for Authentic Journalism there. With a very small number of followers, the fund has already received more than $22 dollars to its bank account, and just in the first three days. As a user, just doing the kinds of comments and sharing of links I would normally do in Facebook, I’ve received more than $8 dollars in these three days. That’s not a lot of money, but if multiplied by hundreds or thousands of us it could add up to fund a significant part of the work of authentic journalism – as well as benefiting every supporter individually, depending on how active he or she want to be on the platform.
The Fund for Authentic Journalism is not the first nonprofit to find the Tsu way of sharing proceeds helpful to our work. There, we join nonprofits like the Aids Outreach Center, the African Wildlife Foundation, Bike to Beach (for support of autism research), Habitat GTA, Water.org, Amazon Watch, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Cape Cod Fisherman's Association, and others who have found in this new model a better way than "middleman media" had offered us.
I should say that the Tsu social media site is already not like other failed start-ups that attempted to become alternatives to Facebook (where the owners keep 100 percent of the profits generated by all the time and creativity its users pour into it). Tsu is already not a “ghost town” like other start-ups have been. I’ll give you a couple of examples shortly but first I’ll give you the link with which you can take your own test-drive:
Simply click that link (if you type it remember that it’s a “.co” and not a “.com”) and you’ll be brought to a sign-up page. You decide your username and password – along with your email address – and click “enter.” Within the next hour or so – sometimes it happens in seconds – you’ll receive a confirmation email from Tsu. Click the link in that email and, voila, you’re in, and can start posting your profile and background photos as well as begin doing the kinds of things one does on any other social media.
Once I did that, I was surprised to find how many people of talent had discovered this place before we did.
Last night I was looking at my feed there and saw a post by Elliot Randall – hey, is that the musician from Steely Dan who I loved as a kid? Ah, yes, it is! Some months ago, he said, he had been hanging around his flat in London when two members of the original Blues Brothers band stopped by, in town while on tour. They turned on a video camera and jammed a version of the jazz classic “God Bless the Child.” So he posted it on Tsu. It sounded fantastic. Here it is:
And so, like I sometimes do on any other social media, I made a comment underneath it to express my happiness at having been able to listen to and see this great music being made. Four minutes later – poof! – the great Elliot Randall replies to my comment…
Just another night on Tsu hanging around and chatting with a music legend…. It's a social media filled already with moments like that.
Another thing that happened there: I saw that another member of this site is an athlete I follow on Twitter, the NY football Giants running back Andre Williams, and he had launched a contest there for graphics about him from which he’ll pick a winner and award some fan paraphernalia. As the third generation of Giordanos to love the NY Giants I couldn’t resist. But I don’t know much about Photoshop or design programs like that and some friends helped me out. I posted the image to Tsu and suddenly an NFL player from my favorite team is publishing it on his page.
Given, that’s the silly, sometimes stupid – and fun – stuff of the sort that many of us do on social media sites while we connect with our friends at long distances there. But for the first time in my years of doing it, I was getting paid for my time and effort, and a very fair 90 percent of the value it was generating.
And I thought: this is the future of social media. It’s going to be irresistible once people hear about it, especially for the kind of people we all go on social media to read and enjoy what they say and do there.
This is a groundbreaking solution to the problem in which writers (including journalists), filmmakers, artists, musicians, artisans and cottage businesses of all kinds have in recent decades had a harder time making a living because big gigantic companies have stepped in the middle between us and consumers and established new and unfair rules that allow them to take the money that the creators used to make. And I’ll bet that if you’re someboy who would like to support the School of Authentic Journalism Kickstarter drive but can’t afford right now to contribute, you’re probably one of those people.
Facebook’s Bait & Switch that Hurt Nonprofits
The biggest social media, of course, is Facebook. Maybe you never got on it. If you’re one of those folks, I salute you. Here's the story of what happened to those of us who did get on it.
Five or six years ago friends urged me to open a Facebook account. The promise of it was that we could meet and hang with our friends all over the planet, follow what all of them were doing and saying, and they could similarly stay in touch with us. 
And for a while, Facebook became a great organizing tool for projects like Narco News and a way to find talents all over the world who would be great additions to the School of Authentic Journalism.
Narco News started a Facebook page and built it into a platform to reach 27,000 of our readers. And in 2012 I realized that if I spent a small amount of advertising dollars on Facebook we could reach even more of the people we wanted to reach. So we invested not just time, but also resources into expanding the audience for all the good work done on Narco News.
And then Facebook pulled the rug out from under us, as individuals, and from the nonprofits that had been doing good work there. It changed its “algorithms” so that users could no longer read every one of their friends' updates there, reducing that access eventually to just five percent of our friends.
What Facebook did to nonprofits was particularly heinous. Suddenly, on the Narco News page there, our news stories and videos were not reaching the audience we had spent time and money to build. Our articles and videos, instead, reached just five percent of those folks on average. My opinion is that this was an effort to extort us to purchase more ads on Facebook in order to reach the same community that our work had built there: as if our readers were held hostage and a ransom was being demanded. So when, for example, applications were available to apply to the School of Authentic Journalism, we’d then have to spend a little money to make sure as many of our readers as possible knew about it and could apply. And yet as time marched on, those ads were less effective, I suppose because they were buried in a sea of so many ads on Facebook that many readers probably developed an aversion to clicking or reading any of them. Whatever it was that happened, whatever the reasons for it, it stopped working for us.
And all that organizing work to build an online community went up in smoke. It’s not the only reason why the School of Authentic Journalism and Narco News are threatened today. But it’s one of the big ones.
And so no matter whether the Kickstarter campaign succeeds in the next ten days to make a 2015 school possible or not – and we still think we can, and are working around the clock, to do it – we’ve learned an important lesson: for the work of authentic journalism to continue to succeed we have to retool away from these “middlemen sites” that vacuum up all the value of our work and turn it into profit for them, and toward new platforms that share with the artist and journalist and the nonprofit organizations that support them.
After all, wasn't that the mission of authentic journalism to begin with? To eliminate the middleman?
We need to now apply what we've done to old media, and do it to those "new media" that have become so big they merely behave just like the old media projects like ours have challenged.
As more and more people learn that it’s simply not true that 100 percent of the value of the time and labor they expend on the Internet must be snatched up by middlemen, the existence of a new way is going to be the meteor that hits Planet Facebook, and others like it, and sends them the way of the dinosaur.
The New and Better Frontier on the Internet
And so we invite you to join us in this new frontier in which your time and creativity is going to be valued and will help you out, as well as helping out those who recruited you into it. (And on the new media - Tsu - it's different from Facebook in a very important way: you own the rights to everything you post there.)
We have a pretty good track record over the past 15 years of getting ahead of the next wave in media. All the great things we've pioneered - from online journalism and its First Amendment protections to viral video to small-dollar fundraising and more - are now possible for a great many.
If you sign up via this link, the nonprofit Fund for Authentic Journalism will become the beneficiary of 30 percent of the value of the time and energy you choose to spend there. Nothing will obligate you to do anything. But you may find, as I have, that’s it’s a thoroughly worthwhile place to spend time.
The way this new form of social media that shares the proceeds with users works is that to get in on it, you have to be invited by someone who is already there, and the recruiter will then benefit from that 30 percent part of the value you generate. Likewise, when you recruit friends to accept your invitation, you’ll receive that 30 percent part of what they generate. So why not accept the invitation from the nonprofit Fund for Authentic Journalism that you support already? (And in full disclosure, to a lesser extent of 10 percent, you’ll also be directly supporting my work there, because I’m the user that invited the Fund in; you already know that whatever resources I assemble go mainly to support other journalists and their training, too.)
Interested? Use this link as your pass code to sign up and see for yourself if what I’m telling you is too good to be true, or just plain true:
That new page will also share the future work of journalists, video-makers and others that the Fund supports, so you’ll have one-stop shopping to read and view the work that your time on social media will be supporting.
Once we reach a critical mass there, we may well pull out of Facebook altogether.
If it’s not your cup of tea, no problem: nothing lost, nothing gained. There are still other ways to support this work and make sure you can keep reading it.
But after already having recruited more than 10 percent of my “Facebook friends” to join me in this new social media, and seeing how pleased and active they are, I bet you’ll find it worthwhile and fun, too. And that’s especially true if you are a writer, journalist, artist, musician, creator or small businessperson of any kind, because for once in our lives we’re receiving a fair value on the time and energy we put into a social media experience.
If you have any questions, or I can help you navigate onto this newest part of our fifteen-year project, you know my email address: narconews@gmail.com .
Victor Hugo once wrote, “There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”
I’m betting that moment is now.
From somewhere in a country called América,

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