The NYPD ‘Third Jihad’ film flap: Perpetrating Islamophobia

Text and photo by Ted Regencia
Written for an Opinion Writing Class at Columbia Journalism School

In light of the revelation that New York City’s top cop, Raymond W. Kelly appeared in a film depicting American Muslims as extremists out to dominate the U.S., it will serve the world’s most diverse city, if Mayor Michael Bloomberg terminates police spokesman Paul J. Browne, orders an independent probe and revisits police actions towards the city’s Muslim population. Left unresolved, the issue poses a corrosive effect on the fragile relationship between the city and the many marginalized minority groups here.

The screening of the film within the confines of the NYPD was wrong. It perpetrates Islamophobia and could elicit more discriminatory acts against American Muslims.

Prejudice and hate towards the Muslims have been on the rise since 9/11, said Prof. Craig B. Futterman, a civil rights professor at the University of Chicago. That should stop. Spreading inaccurate stereotypes and playing upon fears using those kinds of videos only reinforces those prejudices.

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Stimulus money creates green jobs in South Bronx

Text and photo by Ted Regencia

In the borough where the unemployment rate hovers around 12.3 percent—the highest in the state–“green-collar” jobs in heating, cooling, and window retrofitting are still experiencing modest growth. That’s due in large part to 2010 federal stimulus money earmarked particularly for the environmentally friendly industries, according to the Hunts Point-based Sustainable South Bronx advocacy group.

“We are at 70 to 75 percent of people getting jobs,” said Annette Williams, training director at Sustainable South Bronx. “Within the last month, we have gotten 13 people hired.”

Williams’ organization advocates environment-friendly solutions to the chronic joblessness endemic to the South Bronx. Eight years ago the group initiated a green jobs program that trains unemployed and low-income residents in building maintenance, urban forestry, landscaping and hazardous waste cleanup. In 2010, the organization received an extra $150,000 windfall from President Barack Obama’s $396 million federal green technology stimulus funds for New York State.

To read the full story, please visit BronxInk.org

Despite controversy, nun still calls Hunts Point home

Text and photo by Ted Regencia

NEW YORK — On a warm and sunny morning a few Sundays ago, Sister Thomas found herself resting on a chair while overseeing the weekly rummage sale at the garage next to the red brick St. Athanasius Catholic Church in Hunts Point. The cramped structure serves as a storage facility for donated items that her group sells every Sunday. At 78, Sister Thomas is still as involved as she was 49 years ago, when she first arrived at the South Bronx neighborhood.

Only now, she’s no longer welcomed by church’s new pastor.

On July 1, 2010, the Rev. Jose Rivas of the neighboring St. John Chrysostom took over following the death of Rev. Bill Smith. Immediately after taking office, the Colombian-born priest dismissed long-time staff and informed Sister Thomas that her services were no longer needed.

To read the full story, please visit BronxInk.org

Yemenis in South Bronx can’t forget the turmoil they left behind

Text by Ted Regencia and Mahmoud Sabbagh/Photo by Ted Regencia

NEW YORK — “Papa, take me with you,” Abu Hamad recalled his five-year-old son pleading with him on the phone from Sana’a last Oct. 10. The Hunts Point shopkeeper’s half smile could not hide the worry in his dark round eyes. His three young children and wife are still living in the capital of Yemen, he said. And not even his American citizenship could help them out of the mountain city that is reeling from an increasingly violent civil uprising.

On Sept. 24, Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s president for the past 33 years, returned to his homeland after a brief medical exile in neighboring Saudi Arabia. He was forced out of the country after an assassination attempt. The departure raised hopes for reform in the Arabian Peninsula nation of 24 million people. But his abrupt return has sparked fresh violence, which has already claimed close to 2,500 causalities since February. On Oct. 16, 18 more people were killed and 30 others were wounded in clashes between Saleh’s troops and his rivals, according to news reports from the region. (With reporting from Mahmoud Sabbagh)

To read the full story, please visit BronxInk.org

Bronx synagogue welcomes Jewish New Year with a last goodbye

Text by Ted Regencia and Lindsay Minerva (photo by Ted Regencia)

NEW YORK — On a rainy Wednesday night at the start of Rosh Hashanah, Miriam and Herbert Korman struggled up the stairs to reach the lobby of Temple Emanuel at Parkchester in the Bronx. Eight other congregants waited patiently for the couple to arrive inside the almost empty sanctuary of faded wood and stained glass. As he reached the foyer, 91-year-old Herbert Korman groaned with exhaustion.

It was the final time that the Kormans will lead Jewish New Year services at Temple Emanuel. On Oct. 31, Parkchester’s last conservative synagogue will officially close, bringing an end to another chapter of Jewish history in the Bronx.

“I can’t even imagine not having this,” said Miriam Korman, as she nodded towards the two-story sanctuary. “We’ve been members here for over 50 years.”

To read the full story, please visit BronxInk.org

Hurricane Irene: The Aftermath In The Bronx

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August 28, 2011

By Ted Regencia

NEW YORK — Hurricane Irene packed a much weaker punch when it hit New York early Sunday morning of August 28, prompting Mayor Mike Bloomberg to declare that the city “certainly dodged a bullet.” But it still left some scattered scenes of destruction in the Bronx, uprooting trees and destroying properties around the Parkchester district.

Along Metropolitan Avenue, a downed tree fell on top of a Toyota RAV4 smashing its windows and crushing the roof. A Mercedes Benz SUV parked right in front of the Toyota was also damaged.

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Geithner staying in office for now; warns of debt ceiling impasse

Web Exclusive
July 01, 2011

Text and photos by Ted Regencia

To read the Xinhua English version of the story please click here

CHICAGO — U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Thursday he is keeping his post for the “foreseeable future,” telling an audience in Chicago that he wants to continue helping President Obama solve the country’s economic woes, on top of which is the budget negotiation that would raise the debt ceiling and prevent the country from defaulting.

“I live for this work. It’s the only thing I’ve ever done. I believe in it. We have lots of challenges in the country, I’m going to do it for the foreseeable future,” Geithner said when asked by former U.S. President Bill Clinton. Clinton hosted a two-day economic summit here.

Earlier, Bloomberg News reported that Geithner will resign as soon as the Obama administration and Congress reach a deal on raising the U.S. debt ceiling.

“People are worried, or interested, because you know, I have a family. My son’s going back to New York to finish high school and I’ve been commuting for a while, but I’m gonna be doing this for the foreseeable future,” Geithner said.

Speaking about the contentious issue that’s dominating Washington D.C., Geithner urged Republican lawmakers to reach an agreement with President Obama to raise the debt ceiling, warning that failure to do so would be catastrophic to the American economy.

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