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Christmas in America: Growing poverty, unemployment and homelessness in the world's richest country

There's no way like the American Way
© Margaret Bourke-White
Washington is the grinch that stole Christmas. Bah Humbug defines its agenda.

Unprecedented in modern times. Privileged Americans never had it better. Ordinary ones face lump of coal harshness. Hard times keep getting harder.

Reflected in institutionalized inequality. Growing poverty. High unemployment. Multiples higher than phony Labor Department numbers. An epidemic of underemployment persists.

Jobs paying poverty or sub-poverty wages. With few or no benefits.

Households need two or three to get by.

Growing millions face "one impossible choice after another," according to Poverty USA. "(B)etween food and medicine(s), getting to work or paying the heating bill."

Census data show around half the population living in poverty or bordering it. In the world's richest country.

Affecting nearly 60% of children. America has a higher percent of working poor than any other industrialized country.

Human suffering is real. Neoliberal harshness is official policy. Force-fed austerity reflects it. Social injustice is rife.

Bipartisan complicity supports it. Ordinary people are increasingly on their own out of luck.

America's social contact is targeted for elimination. Disappearing when most needed. Monied interests alone are served.

Inequality is appalling. A race to the bottom persists. Class warfare defines it.

Most working Americans get by from paycheck to paycheck. One missed one away from possible homelessness, hunger and despair.

Inflation adjusted median household income keeps dropping. Americans have less to spend on increasingly more expensive goods and services.

People who eat. Drive cars. Pay rent. Service mortgages. Have medical expenses. Heat and/or air-condition residences.
Better Earth

How an old swimming pool feeds a family and is changing food production science

Garden Pool
© Garden Pool.org
The Garden Pool produces fresh veggies and tilapia and uses waste from backyard chickens.
Five years ago, a busted old swimming pool sat out of commission on the property of a foreclosed home in Mesa, Arizona, and from that damaged amenity, the Garden Pool movement was cultivated.

In 2009, Dennis and Danielle McClung bought that foreclosed home and empty swimming pool in need of expensive repairs. Instead of fixing up the swimming pool, McClung transformed the swimming pool into a self-sufficient, mini ecosystem. McClung built a plastic cap over the old swimming pool and began cultivating food where people once swam.

The Garden Pool featured a closed-loop ecosystem where tilapia, algae, and duckweed flourished alongside broccoli and sweet potatoes. McClung's goal was to feed a family of five and within a calendar year, their Garden Pool saved the family 75 percent on their grocery bills.

Before long, the idea grew into a movement and Garden Pool, the 501(c)3 non-profit organization, was formed. Today, according to the Garden Pool website, Garden Pools are being built around the globe as a sustainable solution to modern "food production challenges." Grist featured the Garden Pool in an article late last summer and praised the growth of the Garden Pool.
Bizarro Earth

Good will to all men? Shop worker disperses homeless with freezing water, witness says

© Wilko store (Image from wikipedia.org)
A shop worker has allegedly hosed homeless people seeking shelter outside a shop front with ice cold water to prevent them sleeping there. Police investigated the incident after a local woman reported the alleged assault on social media.

Tammi-Lee Connor, who lives in Canterbury, says she saw a shop worker at the local Wilkinsons using a hosepipe in an attempt to remove a group of homeless people. The force of the hose reportedly caused one man to fall over and hit his head.

Comment: Such a shame that some people view the homeless as less than human. Further, they never seem to think that they could ever find themselves in the same situation. Unfortunately, homelessness is quickly becoming a reality for many in this world.

Safe

Will they hang bankers again on Wall Street?


What took place in Washington over the past two weeks with the repeal of Dodd Frank and then the effective repeal of the Volcker Rule sounds strikingly familiar to at least three previous periods in American History that led to total disaster.
There were of course the Northern "carpetbaggers", whom many in the South viewed as opportunists looking to exploit and profit from the region's misfortunes following the Civil War.The "carpetbaggers" would play a central role in shaping new southern governments during Reconstruction period who were joined by Southerners who saw economic gain in joining the Northerners in the exploitation of the South. There were called "scalawags".
Attention

'Stop blaming everything on Russia': heirs to 1917 revolutionary-era emigrants appeal to EU

© RIA Novosti / Yury Abramochkin
A view of the Cathedrals of the Archangel and the Dormition in the Moscow's Kremlin.
Over 100 descendants of the Russian nobility residing outside the country have addressed European nations with a call to stop irrationally alienating Russia and give an unbiased appraisal to the current Ukrainian crisis.

The open letter written by Prince Dmitry Shakhovskoy and his wife, Princess Tamara, and signed by over 100 people representing the diaspora of the so-called first-wave emigration, was published by Rossiiskaya Gazeta on Thursday.

"The aggressive hostility that Russia is facing right now is lacking any rationality and the double standard policy is simply exceeding any limits," claim the authors of the message. "Russia is being accused of all crimes, it is pronounced guilty a priori and without any evidence, while other countries are shown surprising leniency, in particular when Human Rights are concerned," they letter reads.

"We cannot put up with daily slander targeting modern Russia, its leaders and its president, who are slapped with sanctions and smeared with dirt, in contradiction to basic reason."

Comment: Overcoming the psychopathic mindset of the EU/NATO/US and start thinking with reason and impartiality will indeed be the challenge for the coming new year.

Heart - Black

Woman who tried switching to empty seat on airplane to sleep jailed for 3 days

© CBSNewYork
Jean Mamakos
A Long Island woman claims she was treated like a criminal and pulled off of a flight just because she wanted to change seats. As CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported exclusively, the in-flight fight turned into a three-day stay in jail for the woman.

"They did handcuff me, there were three policemen that dragged me out of the plane," said Jean Mamakos. (And did they tell you what they were charging you with?) They said trespassing."

Mamakos, 68, of Huntington, held up her jeans to show where they were ripped, she says as she was pulled down the aisle of the plane. She never made it to her ski trip in Alaska.

Police in Seattle, where Mamakos and her ski club were changing planes, were called aboard the United aircraft to arrest her, McLogan reported.

One of the passengers recorded the incident.
Officer: "Do you want to come willingly or be arrested for trespass?"

Mamakos: "Whatever you have to do."

Officer: "OK."
Mamakos said she resisted the arrest because she had paid thousands in airfare for the round trip flight, and claims unfriendly flight attendants overreacted when she tried to move to an empty row after the doors closed for take off.

Comment: It is absolutely ridiculous that the airline would kick her off the plane after she went back to her seat. She wasn't being a disturbance any more. It's almost as if she was being punished for not buying the seat upgrade. The fact that police then arrested and put her in jail for 3 days is unconscionable. She deserves every penny of the $5 million she's suing for.

Christmas Lights

Government Grinch: California neighborhood threatened with fines over Christmas decorations

© CBSLA.com
Orange County is threatening substantial fines to one neighborhood over their extreme Christmas decorations.

Twenty-one residents in Baudin Circle in Ladera Ranch say they received letters from the Orange County Public Works department, stating that their lights are safety hazards. Some homeowners at Baudin circle have taken pride in putting together an impressive Christmas lights show for ten years.

"We had to take down any cords that ran across our sidewalk, as well as any of the roads," resident Jeff Stover said.

The fines are said to be in the amount of $500 per day if the lights are not taken down by 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday.

Comment: This looks to be more about generating revenue than concerns about safety. Surely there would be a better way to deal with this, but unfortunately, even local governments only know how to act through threats.

Eye 1

Judge rules Facebook must face lawsuit over reading users' private messages

© Reuters/Dado Ruvic

Comment: It's likely that Facebook has done much more than just read people's private messages. They are probably aggregating tons of data and then passing it off to the U.S. government.


Facebook Inc must face a class action lawsuit accusing it of violating its users' privacy by scanning the content of messages they send to other users for advertising purposes, a U.S. judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, California, on Tuesday dismissed some state-law claims against the social media company but largely denied Facebook's bid to dismiss the lawsuit.

Facebook had argued that the alleged scanning of its users' messages was covered by an exception under the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act for interceptions by service providers occurring in the ordinary course of business.

But Hamilton said Facebook had "not offered a sufficient explanation of how the challenged practice falls within the ordinary course of its business."

Neither Facebook nor a lawyer for the plaintiffs responded to a request for comment Wednesday.
Pistol

Fatal cop shooting of teen in Berkeley, Missouri sparks clashes


A white police officer shot a black teenager to death at a gas station in the city next door to Ferguson, Missouri, touching off clashes early Wednesday between demonstrators and law enforcement.

The mayor said that video from the confrontation, in the city of Berkeley, appeared to show the teenager pointing a gun at the officer, and police said a handgun was recovered at the scene. Police said the officer feared for his life.

"This was not the same as Ferguson," Mayor Theodore Hoskins said.

He took pains to say that the shooting could not be compared to the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson or to the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York. The mayor, who is black, pointed out that the Berkeley police department is majority-black.

He promised a thorough investigation but said that the video showed it was not a police officer going off "half-cocked."

"Everybody don't die the same," he told reporters. "Some people die because the policeman initiated. Some people die because they initiated it. And at this point, our review indicates that the police did not initiate this, like Ferguson."

Comment: Whether or not the shooting was justified it's going to add to the increasing high tensions between the public and police. It seems at this point all it's going to take is a match to ignite the powder keg that's building and escalate the violence on both sides.

Christmas Lights

Palestinians decorate Christmas tree with Israeli tear gas canisters, flash grenades

© Wafa
Palestinian activists have decorated a Christmas tree with leftover Israeli tear gas canisters and stun grenades in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem.

The activists garnished the tree in Bethlehem's Manger Square on Tuesday in a symbolic move to show their anger at Tel Aviv's atrocities in the occupied territories, said Farid al-Atrash, the head of the independent commission for human rights in the south.

The leftover tear gas canisters and stun grenades had been used by Israeli forces during clashes with Palestinians in the city.

"The world has to move to save the Palestinian people and hold the occupation accountable for its crimes against unarmed people in Palestine," al-Atrash said.

In a separate incident in the day, Israeli forces fired tear gas to disperse the Palestinian protesters dressed as Santa Claus in the city.

The protesters were marching towards a checkpoint connecting the ancient city to East Jerusalem al-Quds Jerusalem.

The Palestinian demonstrators carried signs reading, "Jesus came with a message of: Peace, Freedom and Justice" and "We want Christmas without occupation."

Tensions have been running high for over a month in the West Bank and East al-Quds over the desecration of al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli troops and the recent killing of a Palestinian minister in the occupied West Bank.

Comment: "'Jesus" was Julius Caesar (Divus Iulius). His 'teachings' have been subverted to create the political and religious narratives for the illegal occupation of Palestine.

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