Sunday, December 24, 2023

Noticing New York 2023 Seasonal Reflection

 This is Noticing New York's annual seasonal reflection. 

In church, just days ago, we sang a Christmas Carol hymn: "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear."

It has in it this line:  "Oh hush the noise of battle strife, and hear the angels sing!"

Do you believe in angels?  Literally, or figuratively?

"It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" started out as a poem.

Here is a poem.  I think of it as an angel's song.

If I Must Die

By Refaat Alareer, beloved Palestinian writer, poet, teacher, and translator.
Refaat was murdered on December 7th by an Israeli airstrike.  

If I must die,
you must live
to tell my story
to sell my things
to buy a piece of cloth
and some strings,
(make it white with a long tail)
so that a child, somewhere in Gaza
while looking heaven in the eye
awaiting his dad who left in a blaze —
and bid no one farewell
not even to his flesh
not even to himself —
sees the kite, my kite you made, flying up above,
and thinks for a moment an angel is there
bringing back love.
If I must die
let it bring hope,
let it be a tale.

Refaat Alareer taught Shakespeare.

In Palestine the voices of so many are being target for silencing.  Journalists are being targeted.  Doctors and medical worker are being targeted.  The message of such targeting is delivered with awful clarity when their families are targeted and killed as well.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

Bethlehem is in Palestine.

This year the celebration of Christmas is being cancelled in Bethlehem and in Palestine.

In Bethlehem in a landmark Lutheran church the there is a creche, a nativity scene with the baby Jesus in a keffiyeh, surrounded by rubble. The Palestinian Lutheran minister there, Reverend Isaac Munther, addressed his congregation in front of it.

He said:

If Christ were to be born today, he would be born under the rubble. I invite you to see the image of Jesus in every child killed and pulled from under the rubble, in every child struggling for life in destroyed hospitals, in every child in incubators. Christmas celebrations are canceled this year, but Christmas itself is not and will not be canceled, for our hope cannot be canceled.

The lyrics of "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear" were written by a Unitarian minister, pastor Edmund Sears.  He wrote it, it's reported, in a time of "personal melancholy" with the the news of revolution in Europe and the United States' war with Mexico fresh in his mind.

According to Ken Sawyer writing in UU World in 2002: the "song is remarkable for its focus not on Bethlehem, but on his own time, and on the ever-contemporary issue of war and peace."

"Oh hush the noise of battle strife, and hear the angels sing!"


In 2019, as part of my seasonal reflection, I wrote beseeching the minister of our Unitarian Universalist congregation for a sermon about peace.  Such a sermon has never been delivered. 

Since then, the "peace" sign you see in the picture that I provided below has been removed from the church worship space.  It's been placed with the church's historical artifacts.

Here, once again, is my 2019 December letter to our minister praying for a sermon on peace, praying, if you will, for peace.  Best and blessings to you all this season.

December 19, 2019

Re:  An Open Letter Requesting A Sermon About Peace

Dear Reverend Ana,

Last spring my wife Carolyn and I invested heavily in our congregation’s fund raising lottery trying to win the prize of choosing a topic for a sermon you would give.  We didn’t win.  Had we won, we would have challenged you with what you might not have found an easy subject, speaking about Julian Assange, American war crimes, and the U.S. pursuit of empire.  Our choice of subject would not have been be to vex you with its difficulty, but to ask you to speak to what could be such a simple concept: Peace.  If, these days, conversations about peace are avoided as difficult, what better than address that difficulty in a sermon?

Giving it some consideration, I think that making a worthy case for a sermon topic is a good a way to gain the prize of having you speak on a topic we care about, as good a way as investing in fund raising lottery tickets.  Therefore I will try.

Is peace a spiritual thing?  Is talk about our common humanity, our common bonds, and about surmounting the blindness that fractures our relationships a proper thing to address in religious terms?  I acknowledge I’m being obvious here.  What I just referred to is supposed to be basic and elemental to the great faiths.

I grew up in the Vietnam War era and I remember churches and church people taking the lead in saying that the wars we waged in Indochina were wrong.  These days we, as country, are more military extended than ever.  My oldest daughter is now about to be twenty-nine years old.  We had already started bombing Iraq when she was born in January.  The war in Iraq is just one of the perpetual wars that has continued essentially for the entirety of her life.  All of our wars are long now.  As formally measured by some, the War in Afghanistan, with its later beginning, has surpassed the Vietnam War as our country’s longest war.

These days the United States has been bombing nine countries, ten if you include, as we should, all of the U.S. participation in the bombing of Yemen, the other nine countries being: Mali, Niger, Somalia, Libya, and then, in the Middle East, it’s Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria. We have 800 military bases in other countries.  With practically no comment or attention from us, President Obama opened new military bases across Africa.

A peace symbol hangs prominently in our Unitarian Universalist congregation’s sanctuary where our sermons are given.  We begin every Sunday service singing the words: “let peace, good will on earth be sung through every land, by every tongue.”  Christmas comes every year, and every year we evoke and extol, as is customary in the Christian tradition, the image of Jesus as the “Prince of Peace.”  In our congregation’s Weaving Social Justice Committee we have discussed the prospect of rededicating the side chapel within the sanctuary that is known as the “Peace Chapel” to that cause.  In our list of candidate films for the social justice film series we are working on we have films about the injustice of war. . .

 . . . But, by and large, we hardly ever actually say anything about peace or the need to end the  perpetual wars for which our country is now responsible.  Has there been any sermon in our sanctuary on the subject of peace?  I can’t recall one.

I was not at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in June this summer, but I talked with people who went, and I looked over the multi-day program.  I was told and I saw that there were no sessions on the subject of peace.  Nor was anything said about the antithesis thereof, war, although we are deeply embroiled in wars to the point that they are inescapably always in the background our daily American lives.
Our congregation through its leaders including members of the social justice committee is now reaching out to other congregations in our city and to their social justice actors to coordinate collective activism on the issues important to all of us.  The importance of peace activism has not been mentioned in those discussions no matter that it is integrally related to virtually every other issue that is being discussed of common interest.  Has the subject of peace somehow been tagged as off-limits?  Is peace now too controversial to be discussed by and among religious communities?

Other social issues have attracted the attention of organizing Unitarians and have been the subject of multiple sermons. I understand and support that and among them are issues like the climate change chaos catastrophe emergency.  The climate emergency is an existential threat to all of humanity.  When the Democratic National Committee ordered that there be no debate focused on the single issue of climate change– the DNC actually forbade Democrats from participating in any such debate organized by anyone else– the case was made that the existential issue of climate is so fundamental that it is intertwines with and underlies virtually every other issue that’s important.  There are other issues like that; issues that are inextricably related to society’s other major issues.       

Our American wars together with the rest of our military interventions that stoke conflict in other countries are far too often wars which are very much about the extraction of oil and fossil fuels.  Moreover, overall our wars help keep in place the systems that continue to vandalize our planet, exterminating its ecosystems.  Further, the US military is one of the largest polluters in history, “the single-largest producer of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the world,” and that the Pentagon is responsible for between “77% and 80% of all US government energy consumption” since 2001.  The US military is consuming more liquid fuels and emitting more climate-changing gases than most medium-sized countries, polluting more than 140 countries. Obscuring the reporting on this, the United States, which exempts its military from environmental laws, insisted on exemptions from reporting of the military emissions of all countries from climate agreements. The U.S., has itself escaped such reporting by exiting the Paris Climate Accord.

It is not clear, but these staggering figures about fossil fuel use probably don’t include the fossil fuel consumption related to the initial manufacture of weapons.  Consider also that replacement, or nonreplacement, of what is bombed, burned and incinerated also must entail substantial additional environmental costs.
It is not just greenhouse gas emission pollution that the military produces: In 2010, a major story that went largely unreported was that the U.S. Department of Defense, as the largest polluter in the world, was producing more hazardous waste than the five largest US chemical companies combined, and that just some of the pollutants with which it was contaminating the environment were depleted uranium, petroleum, oil, pesticides, defoliant agents such as Agent Orange, and lead, along with vast amounts of radiation. Following our bombings, birth defects reported in Iraq are soaring. A World Health Organization survey tells us that in Fallujah half of all babies were born with a birth defect between 2007 and 2010 with 45 per cent of all pregnancies ending in miscarriage in the two years after 2004.

Another thing we face that has been deadening to the human spirit has been the increasing “othering” of people who we are made to think are different from us.  Frequently now that’s immigrants from other countries who are black or brown.  Often that “othering,” as with Muslims, is stoked in ways that may cause us to support or tolerate wars in which those others suffer most and towards whom hostilities are often officially directed.  We may also forget how our wars and military activity push the flow of populations forcing people to migrate across boarders, as, for instance, with those leaving Honduras after our country helped bring about the military coup that replaced the government there.

Also basic and underlying so many of our problems are racial, income and wealth inequality with concomitant inequality in power and influence. These are things that Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., who practiced ministry through activism and activism through ministry, labored to eliminate.  Not long before he was assassinated, King also began to speak out against the Vietnam war saying the great challenge facing mankind is to get rid of war.  Before he did so, he carefully weighed cautions urged on him that as a civil rights leader he shouldn’t do so, that it would undermine support for his civil rights work, split his coalition, and that these issues should not be joined together.  But King concluded that the issues were tied together and decided that he would address them on that basis.

When King expressed his opposition to the war in his very famous “Beyond Vietnam -- A Time to Break Silence,” delivered in this city’s Riverside Church, New York City, April 4, 1967, one year to the day before his assassination, he said he was “increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.”  He spoke of the disproportionate toll that waging war exacted on the poor and spoke of the poisoning of America’s soul. . . So it is today.

War is profitable business.  It busies packs of lobbyists who know a great deal more about often secret budgets than we, as the public, will ever learn.  But that profit drains the resources of our society enfeebling our ability to accomplish so much else.  The Pentagon and military budget is about 57% of the nation’s discretionary budget.  If all of the unknowable black box spending that goes into the Military-Industrial-Surveillance Complex were included, that percentage could well bump up higher.  We spend more on military spending than the next ten countries combined (or seven, depending on the year and who calculates), and we spend much more than all the rest of the countries in the world left over after that.  Of course, much of that spending by other countries is on arms we supply making the world dangerous.

We may not fully know about or have a complete accounting of all the dollars we spend in these areas, but, in May of 2011 after the U.S. announced that it had killed Osama Bin Laden, the National Priorities Project calculated that, as of that time, “in all, the U.S. government has spent more than $7.6 trillion on defense and homeland security since the 9/11 attacks.”  Point of reference: a “trillion” is one million millions.

Just the increase in the military spending in the last two years since Trump came in is as much as Russia spends on its entire military budget ($66 billion).  Similarly just that increase is greater than the entire military budgets of Britain ($55 billion) or France ($51 billion). 

Our fixated disposition to keep spending more is entrenched: Even Elizabeth Warren, a senator from Massachusetts who promotes herself as a left wing progressive, voted in 2017 to increase the defense budget by $80 billion, surpassing the $54 billion increase requested by President Trump.  60% Of House Democrats voted for a defense budget far bigger than Trump requested.

Perhaps most disquieting and insidiously corrupting to our morality and our souls are the pretexts we adopt to justify going to war and to abide its horrors, particularly when we leave those pretexts dishonestly unexamined.  The public flailed and many among us continue in their confusion, unable to sort out that Iraq did not attack the United States or have weapons of mass destruction before the second war that we unilaterally and "preemptively" launched to invade that country.  Before our first Gulf War attack on that country there were no slaughtered `incubator babies’: That was just a brazen, cynically staged public relations scam.  Similarly, how few of us know and recognize that Afghanistan did not attack the United States on 9/11– We precipitously invaded that country because the government there was at that time asking that procedures be followed and proof furnished before it would assist in finding and turning Osama Bin Laden over to the United States.

The foreign country that was most involved in 9/11, and from where almost all of the men identified as the alleged 9/11 hijackers came, is Saudi Arabia.  Saudi Arabia is the country to which we are selling massive amounts of weapons (making it that world’s third biggest military spender) and it is the country with which we are deeply involved perpetrating war crimes against Yemen.

In the Vietnam War, our second longest war, it was the Gulf of Tonkin incident that, not being what it seemed nor reported to be, was the pretext for war.

Perhaps hardest and most challenging to our susceptibilities as caring people striving to be spiritual and attentive to justice are the pretextual manipulations to which we are subject in regard to what Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman spotlighted as the selective distinguishing between “worthy” versus “unworthy” victims.  “Worthy” victims are those who, whatever their number, deserve our outrage and are a basis for calls for the international community to mobilize toward war.  “Unworthy victims” are those who can die en mass without attention or recognition like the tens of thousands of Yemeni children who have died for lack of food, water and medicine because of Saudi Arabia’s blockade assisted by the U.S..  Often, as with Palestinians removed from their homelands, these victims are blamed for their own victimhood.

Additional layers of pretext pile up when we encounter journalists and whistleblowers willing to be the messengers of war crimes.  We punish those messengers while, concurrently, there is no consequence for those who perpetrate the war crimes.  Often the perpetrators are promoted to higher office. That includes those who illegally torture others to coerce useless, undependable, and likely false “confessions.”  Thus we punish and torture Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning for exemplifying what Daniel Ellsberg called “civil courage.” Thus we vindictively send CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou to prison for disclosing his agency’s torture program.

Wikileaks, Julian Assange’s organization has published much that is embarrassing to the United States and those in power, much of it is particularly embarrassing to the U.S. military.  Wikileaks has never published anything that was untrue, but the truth of what it has published is disruptive to the official narratives of the war establishment. That establishment has been seeking vengeance against and to neutralize Assange since events in 2010 when in April Wikileaks published documenting gunsight video footage, under the title of “Collateral Murder,” of a US drone strike on civilians in Bagdad provided by Chelsea Manning.  The New York Times and Washington Post did not respond to Manning’s attempts to publish that same footage through them or other evidence of U.S. war crime in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Anyone who wants proof of the pretextual nature of the United States’ persecution of Julian Assange and of the ghastly and sometimes illegal, abuse of inordinate power against Assange should watch or listen to Chris Hedges June 8, 1019 “On Contact” interview with UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer (“On Contact: Julian Assange w/UN Special Rapporteur on Torture”- Chris Hedges is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church).  The attacks against Assange began with a highly orchestrated campaign of character assassination.  They have progressed to things far worse.  Both Assange and Manning (who was pardoned from a 35-year sentence after seven years of confinement that included the torture of Manning) are now being held in prison, no end in sight, for no crimes of which they have been convicted.  I think we have to agree with the criticism of this as psychological torture.  The continued torture of Manning is an effort to get at Assange even if that were to involve forcing Manning to lie.

The United States wants Assange extradited to the Unites States to be tried for the crime of practicing journalism that was unflattering to the United States government. Somehow we have the highhandedness to conceptualize this journalism to be treason although Assange is a foreign national. Assange faces no other charges. Under the laws pursuant to which the U.S. would try him, Assange, like the exiled Edward Snowden, would not be permitted to introduce any evidence or argument that disclosing illegal U.S. activity or war crimes benefits the public.  It’s said that the United States wants nothing more than a show trial and I think that must be considered obvious.

When Assange sensed in 2012 that trumped up charges in Sweden would be used as a subterfuge to transfer him to United States custody for such a show trial he obtained political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. For this, a British judge sentenced Assange and had him serve 50 weeks in a high security prison for “bail jumping”; that’s just fourteen days short of the maximum possible sentence, although the obviously trumped up charges for which Assange had posted bail were withdrawn, negating the original bail terms as a result.  A normal, typical sentence for bail jumping would have entailed only a fine, in a grave case, a much shorter prison sentence.

Britain was able to send police officers into enter the Ecuadoran Embassy to arrest Assange for “bail jumping” and then later hold him, without other charge for pending extradition to the United States, because of a change in the Ecuadoran government that was evidently CIA assisted, and as the United States was dangling financial aid for that country.  Assange’s eviction from the embassy, along with his being simultaneously stripped of Ecuadoran citizenship, was done without due process.
The persecution of Assange casts a long shadow to intimidate other journalists, whistleblowers and activists as they themselves are being intimidated about disrupting the preferred narrative concerning America’s militarily asserted empire.  Other providers of news simply lay low not reporting things.  As neither the New York Times nor the Washington Post reported it, you may not have heard about the recent scary SWAT style arrest of journalist Max Blumenthal by Washington D. C. police hours after he reported about the United States government funding of the Venezuela Juan Guaidó coup team.  Blumenthal was shackled and held incommunicado for an extended period. Not long after that the D.C. police went out to similarly arrest activist and journalist Medea Benjamin when she publicized the U.S. backing of coups in Venezuela and Bolivia.

With silenced journalists, will we, based on unchallenged pretexts, send our military into to change the government of Venezuela as there is talk of doing?  In Bolivia the coup we sponsored has been successful without that.  Meanwhile, there is talk of pretexts for military actions against Iran, Russia, North Korea.

Journalists who still show courage, are subject to exile, sometimes self exile, from their journalistic homes, to alternative media outlets, where, like Assange, they are likely to be less heard and will be more vulnerable. Journalist Tareq Haddad just announced that he resigned from Newsweek because that publication has been suppressing a story of his.  His story was about the whistleblower revelations of buried evidence that the supposed 2018 Duoma chemical attacks by Syrian president Assad on his own people was fairly obviously a concocted fabrication when it was used as a justification for the U.S. to bomb Syria.  Remember our bombings of Syria?  The was another in 2017. It was for such bombings of Syria the press declared that Trump was finally `presidential,' and, as the cruise Tomahawk missiles launched, MSNBC’s Brian Williams spoke of being “guided by the beauty of our weapons” using the word “beautiful” three times in 30 seconds.

The strenuous suppression of these voices like Assange's that would disrupt official narratives shows how the conduct of war has a tight moral link to the choices we make to speak out against war and against the suppression of the voices that oppose war.  In his sermon against war at Riverside Church that day one year to the day before he was killed, Reverend Martin Luther Kings Jr. said that, “men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war.”

King also said that, when assuming the task of such opposition, it was difficult to break free of the “conformist thought” of the surrounding world.  Indeed, with the complicity of a much more conglomerately owned corporate media than in King’s time, it seems as if there is a secularly consecrated catechism of what we know we as Americans are not supposed to say, what we must veer away from and avoid.  We subscribe with almost religious ferocity to the belief that American exceptionalism justifies all our actions in the world.  It feels, as if in our bones, that we know that to violate this proposition and say something else would create a rumbling disturbance in the force (you know, “Star Wars”).  Or is our silence, merely something less profound than that, just the equivalent of what we think would be an exceptionally super-rude topic to bring up at a family Thanksgiving or holiday diner?
Dr. King correctly foresaw that there would be significant prices he would have to pay for speaking out against our country’s war.  He concluded that he had to do so, that he had to `break the silence,’ despite the prices he knew he would have to pay. He felt that doing so was the only thing he could do and remain true to himself and his causes.

Ana, I have no doubt that there would be prices you would have to pay if you spoke out for peace; if you spoke out against war.  I also acknowledge that there are prices our congregation could face.  Relatively recently the FBI has raided the homes of public nonviolent peace activists who have long, distinguished careers in public service.  (And the FBI has also been investigating nonviolent climate activists and Black Lives Matters activists.)  But I urge you to deliver a sermon about peace because it would be the right thing to do.  Perhaps it could go along with a rededication of our sanctuary’s Peace Chapel. And, perhaps,  if you would give a sermon like Dr. King gave against our wars, it might do more than just be a good thing in its own right: It might serve as a model for the ministers of other congregations who would follow suit.

Maybe, as in Martin Luther King Jr.’s day, there can again be a time when people see the call for peace as a spiritual issue and our church’s, temples and congregations again take a lead role in calling for peace and an end to our wars.

Have I made the subject of peace sound as if it is complicated?  If so, I am sorry.  That can be a problem in itself.  At bottom, shouldn’t this all be so simple?  Peace, supporting peace, speaking out for peace. .  Something very simple.
            Last night I had the strangest dream
            I never dreamed before.
            I dreamed the world had all agreed
            To put an end to war.*

* From “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream,” by Ed McCurdy- 1950,
 a precursor of sorts to “Imagine” by John Lennon and Yoko Ono- 1971


Michael D. D. White

* * *

Here are links to the prior Noticing New York ventures into seasonal reflection:

  •    Thursday, December 24, 2009, A Christmas Eve Story of Alternative Realities: The Fight Not To Go To Pottersville (Or Ratnerville),

  •    Friday, December 24, 2010, Revisiting a Classic Seasonal Tale: Ratnerville,

  •    Saturday, December 24, 2011, Traditional Christmas Eve Revisit of a Classic Seasonal Tale: Ratnerville, the Real Life Incarnation of the Abhorred Pottersville,

  •    Monday, December 24, 2012, While I Tell of Yuletide Treasure,

  •    Tuesday, December 24, 2013, A Seasonal Reflection: Assessing Aspirations Toward Alternate Realities- 'Tis A Tale of Two Alternate Cities?.,

Wednesday, December 24, 2014, Seasonal Reflections: No Matter How Fortunate or Not, We Are All Equal, Sharing a Common Journey

  •    Thursday, December 24, 2015, Seasonal Reflection: Mayor de Blasio, His Heart Squeezed Grinch-Small, Starts Gifting Stolen Libraries To Developers For The Holidays
  •    Saturday, December 24, 2016, Noticing New York's Annual Seasonal Reflection
  •    Sunday, December 24, 2017, This Year’s Seasonal Reflection: Yes We Are Now Living In Ratnerville, Locally and Nationally, And Yet We Hope And Work Towards Something Different
  •    Monday, December 24, 2018, This Year’s Annual Seasonal Reflection: It Rhymes (But Not With "Reason" or "Season")

  •    Tuesday, December 24, 2019 An Open Letter To Reverend Ana Levy-Lyons of The First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Brooklyn Requesting A Sermon About Peace

  •    Thursday, December 24, 2020 Noticing New York 2020 Seasonal Reflection 

  •    Friday, December 24, 2021  Noticing New York 2021 Seasonal Reflection

  •    Saturday, December 24, 2022  Noticing New York 2022 Seasonal Reflection

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Will Be Taken Over By Consortium of The City’s Real Estate Families and The New York City Partnership

Whatever "floats your boat"-  Will the public be happy with big real estate industry families and the New York City Partnership taking over the Macy's Parade?

The Macy’s parade must go on!  It’s a tradition.  Just like “The Show Must Go On” tradition.  In fact, it’s the same tradition.  In the early 1990's when Macy’s Department store first filed for bankruptcy, one of the first things the bankruptcy court judge clarified was that the Macy’s parade would still be held.  In fact, later as Macy’s, through its acquisition by Federated was coming out of bankruptcy that bankruptcy judge, Burton R. Lifland, wanted a guarantee “etched in some form of stone” that Macy's traditional Thanksgiving Day parade would continue.  And its Fourth of July fireworks too!  The parade is viewed as an essential “gift to the people of New York,” a matter of vital “public interest.”

The Macy’s parade, approaching its centennial has been held every year since 1924, except for two years during World War II when there was a helium shortage.

In the 1990's the decisions were being made reactively to quell the suspense by issuing assuring  announcements that the parade would continue despite any financial difficulties on Macy’s part.  Now action is being taken prospectively and proactively so that the city will never be in suspense about the holding of the parade again.  A group of real estate families is banding together and forming a working alliance with the Partnership Fund for New York City to take over the parade so as to assure that the parade will continue no matter what happens to Macy’s.

The real estate families banding together to take this responsibility with the partnership are the Ross family (Related Companies), the Roth family and the Zenkendorfs.  Speaking for the Real Estate parade families in an interview, Steve Roth of Vornado said the following:

You have to be looking ahead on these issues and we have been looking at Macy’s with a caretaking eye about the future for sometime now.  And the future does not always stay the same; it can shift a lot.

In 2007 our family members, Stephen M. Ross of Related Companies and Steven Roth of Vornado Realty Trust were negotiating with Macy’s to improve the prospects for the future by, abandoning its landmark building so that we could build for it a new home in a state-of-the-art mall on 33rd street, just across from its 34th street location.  That was to allow Macy’s to put behind it the drawbacks of age and inefficiencies associated with the musty old hodgepodge structure it’s been in for far too long.  It’s much the same reasoning as applies to why we advocate the sale with real estate project rebuilding of our libraries.

That sale and mall creation deal is not what happened in 2007.  It may have been a good thing.  The days of big brick and mortar retail stores may be numbered.  The ultimate future for Macy’s increasingly looks like maybe none at all.  Now, as is also inevitably pointed out (also with libraries-while we are on the subject), we have Amazon.  Also, it’s to be remembered that Macy’s is exactly in the vicinity of our Vornado Penn Station redevelopment rezoning plan to replace the existing neighborhood with new towers.  Those will be Class A office towers extending the gorgeous glass skyscrapers of the Hudson Yards complex to the east around Penn Station and Madison Square Garden.  As you know, this will be done in the name of honoring history with a faithful recreation of the fabled old Penn Station that was destroyed with a beautiful rebuilding to summon it back from history’s graveyard.

The real estate families thought about acting on a broader more collective base through REBNY, the Real Estate Board of New York, but acting through such an association would have limited opportunities for swiftly capitalizing on opportunities arising in the future and confuse claims of branding and ownership.   Mr Roth said that they would nonetheless be looking out for everyone’s real estate interests: For instance, Broadway, with its theater ownership chains and the hotels filled by performance hungry tourists, are a big part of the city real estate scene.  The parade annually features enticing Broadway Show performances as a big part of what it offers and will continue to do so.

The broadening of who is represented with the new management and responsibility for the parade, and ensuring that the public interest will be represented, will come from the signing on of the Partnership Fund for New York City and its participation in the events.  Next year and for the immediately foreseeable future the parade will be retitled as the “Macy’s and More Parade.”

Why is Macy’s turning the parade over to this set of new interests?  While the parade obligation can be viewed as an expensive liability, it is also can, and does, make money.  But who knows how much it actually makes or loses when factored into Macy’s overall profit and loss statements?  Speculation is that the transfer of the parade is a side deal with respect to some other real estate transaction Macy’s has been involved in.  As observed in a Citizens Defending Library post noting that Jeff Gennette- Jeffrey Gennette, named president of Macy's, Inc., in March 2014, was on the board of the Brooklyn Public Library- Macy’s is:

a player when it comes to real estate.   It sold it's Downtown Brooklyn Fulton store (the former Abraham and Strauss) plus parking facility to Tishman Speyer summer 2015 while signing a major Long Island City lease.  In June 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported (similarly Fortune and Reuters) how Macy’s “owns some of the world’s most valuable property and is being urged by investors to unlock that value.”  That language sounds strikingly similar to that being used about libraries, and the Wall Street Journal article noted how such a move could be harmful to Macy’s core retail mission.

Roth said that letting the public be assured, starting now, about the real estate industry’s continued shepherdship of the parade will probable help acclimate the public and quell dissent if there is any subsequent shutdown of Macy’s 34th Street and takeover of its property for real estate development in the future.

Under the new plans, the real estate industry families are looking to the new Co-Chair of the Partnership Fund for New York City, Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla, to serve as the new Grand Marshall of the parade and its official public relations face.  Roth said this should boost the advertising profile of the parade since “Pfizer and its sister pharma companies already buy 70% of the advertising putting news on the national airwaves.”

Pfizer head Bourla will be Grand Marshal of future parades

NYS Attorney General Tish James is looking at whether there could be antitrust violations involved in the new arrangements.  It may be that she is not impressed by what’s being proposed, and it is not clear that she was serious in how she responded being told about Dr. Bourla’s role in the parade.  She said:

Bourla is a veterinarian. There are a lot of animals in the Thanksgiving day parade, not just The Care Bears, but a whole slew.  I’m sure that Dr. Bourla will be making sure that they are all anatomically correct.  After all, somebody heading Pfizer shouldn’t be involved in selling fantasies.
Roth said that the future parade would promote the glories of New York real estate development more directly.  One plan underway is for there to be a balloon float of the beloved Empire State Building tower.  It will point (it will have to pass through the street somewhat lying on its side) to a “star in the sky,” which will be another float proceeding ahead of it, a bigger grander version of the Macy’s star. . . .

. . . But this new float will be one of the parade’s most attention getting new technological innovations.  Using holographic technology and an interior projection capability the float will be able to transform itself, back and forth, before the spectators’ eyes: One moment it will be the 102-story 1931 Art Deco skyscraper pointing to a star, and the next moment it will be a Pfizer Covid Shot needle chasing after the shape of a spiked Covid virus ball. 

Proof of concept prototype rendering

Next year’s parade will also have several new floats to promote Amazon.

The future of the Macy’s parade having been determined, the future of Macy’s fireworks is still being worked on.  It won’t be handled the same way as the parade.  Started in 1976, as the nation's bicentennial was being celebrated, the fireworks run up an expensive bill.

Dr. Albert Bourla and Pfizer are apparently ready to provide the answer.  It not just based on the fact that Pfizer is awash in cash.  In his own interview Bourla said:

The annual fireworks, the explosions, the smell of gunpowder propellant in the air, its accompaniment by big band marching music,  obviously works supremely well as its intended promotion of our military, how our soldiers fought to achieve this nation’s independence and how, now, how our military works hard to assure that other countries around the world are run by the Democratic or otherwise better regimes we think they should be run by.

The military has tons of money.  It’s utterly appropriate that the military is offering to work with Pfizer to fund this annual event.  By this time, everybody should know that Pfzier has a lot of experience working with the U.S. military and being a conduit for joint operations.  Pfizer’s Covid vaccine shots (like Moderna’s) were financed as countermeasures by the Pentagon and by USAID (a not officially acknowledged extension of the CIA).  It helped our business tremendously that the gain of function research to create a Covid virus was also funded by the Pentagon and by USAID and makes complete sense that all of this was done at the same time going back to 2013. . .

People know and understand that the contract we signed with the United Sates to deliver the Covid shot countermeasures was signed with the Department of Defense as a military procurement contract under the “Other transaction authority” associated with DOD contracts ( OTAs) that exempt the arrangements from that standard laws that could hamper military operations.  The military, for instance, made itself available to handle the logistics of distribution of our shots. And we are good at working with our government agencies when things need to be classified as national security issues.  That's why it was no problem for us to be involved on the inside when, in March 2020 was the decision made to classify Covid information as a national security secret.

If nothing else, let’s give us credit for this: We’ve worked closely with Tony Fauci and he’s the head honcho in charge of bioweapons research funded by the Pentagon, I mean since 2002 when the Pentagon started by funneling $2.2 billion through NIH after the PATRIOT Act, Fauci, with the 68% raise he got from the Pentagon for that purpose, has been the highest paid official in government, the highest ever.
Professor of Law Ana Santos Rutschman, whose name was offered to bolster Bourla’s credibility about Pfizer’s close relations with the military,  confirmed that the DOD’s contracting mechanism, known as “other transaction authority,” or OTA, allows the department to purchase items or services thus enabling the government to move faster.  Moreover, she assured that “DOD is always very involved in vaccine R&D,” so such use of the OTA’s is hardly unprecedented.  She said that deployed American troops must be understood to be inevitably and always at risk in their service to the country when necessary, which is the reason for the military to be involved in such R&D.

Expecting these financing arrangements may go through, a new corporation, the Improved Truth Corporation is being set up to enter OTAs with the military and serve as the conduit for funds.  Wulf Matador, new president of the Improved Truth Corporation, says it is, appropriately, getting the seed money to get quickly underway from the Koch Brother Foundation for Improving Truth and the George Soros Truth Improvement Foundation

Mayor Eric Adams will be holding a rare Saturday press conference today, April 1, 2023, with Boula, Roth and the other involved participants to more fully brief the press and answer questions about the status of the plan for the parade and the fireworks' future.