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Sat, 08 Aug 2020
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3.5 Million Homeless and 18.5 Million Vacant Homes in the US

homeless shelter
© Unknown
The National Economic and Social Rights Initiative along with Amnesty International are asking the U.S. to step up its efforts to address the foreclosure crisis, including by giving serious consideration to the growing call for a foreclosure moratorium and other forms of relief for those at risk, and establishing a housing finance system that fulfills human rights obligations.

New government census reports have revealed disturbing information that details the cold, hard numbers of Americans who have been deeply affected by the state of our economy, and bank foreclosure practices:
In the last few days, the U.S. government census figures have revealed that 1 in 2 Americans have fallen into poverty or are struggling to live on low incomes. And we know that the financial hardships faced by our neighbors, colleagues, and others in our communities will be all the more acutely felt over the holiday season.

Along with poverty and low incomes, the foreclosure rate has created its own crisis situation as the number of families removed from their homes has skyrocketed.

Since 2007, banks have foreclosed around eight million homes. It is estimated that another eight to ten million homes will be foreclosed before the financial crisis is over. This approach to resolving one part of the financial crisis means many, many families are living without adequate and secure housing. In addition, approximately 3.5 million people in the U.S. are homeless, many of them veterans. It is worth noting that, at the same time, there are 18.5 million vacant homes in the country.

The stark realities that persist mean that millions of families will be facing the holidays in temporary homes, or homes under threat, and far too many children will be wishing for an end to the uncertainty and distress their family is facing rather than an Xbox or Barbie doll.

Housing is a basic human need and a fundamental human right. Yet every day in the United States, banks are foreclosing on more than 10,000 mortgages and ordering evictions of individuals and families residing in foreclosed homes. The U.S. government's steps to address the foreclosure crisis to date have been partial at best.

The depth and severity of the foreclosure crisis is a clear illustration of the urgent need for the U.S. government to put in place a system that respects, protects and fulfills human rights, including the right to housing. This includes implementing real protections to ensure that other actors, such as financial institutions, do not undermine or abuse human rights.
There is a link available at the Amnesty International website for anyone who is interested and would like to join the call on the Obama administration and Congress to urgently step up efforts to address the foreclosure crisis, including by seriously considering the growing call for a foreclosure moratorium and other forms of relief, and establishing a housing finance system that fulfills human rights obligations.

Alarm Clock

2012 - On The Eve Of Destruction?

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Happy 2012?
Here we are, New Year's Eve 2011, and a whole lot of folks on this planet believe that the World is going to End - one way or another (again) - sometime in December of the coming year: 2012. All I can think is "Geezus! Here we go again!"

Back in 1996 and 1997, there was the Hale-Bopp Flopp that resulted in the mass suicide of 39 members of the Heaven's Gate Cult. I was out there at the time desperately trying to convince people that most of what was flying around the internet was a load of Horse Hockey, and all I got for my trouble was flamed and defamed. But I was right.

Then, there was the Millennial Madness that was gaining steam in 1999. By this time, we had a website and I wasn't just doing battle on discussion lists, so I published an article in November of that year trying to calm things down a bit. Things were so weird then that even my cousin, who was (at that moment) an aerospace engineer employed by NASA, told me in full confidence that things WOULD get squirrely because there was a flaw in computer dating systems and the global computer systems would glitch up in unpredictable ways, causing chaos. Not even that happened! Anyway, the take-home message of my article at that time was pretty clear:

Bizarro Earth

2012, Year of the Aspens?

It is with a morbid curiosity that we face the upcoming New Year. Not because of a cartoonish version of prophecy. No, it's a visceral knowing that many wrong and untenable creations are still alive and they threaten every thread in the fabric of what we know. And it's inevitable to reflect when a New Year is looming. I never quite understood why New Year's didn't fall on the very first day after the winter solstice. The days lengthen at that moment, hope beckons, but with our calender there is that lag, and during this lag week that we find ourselves in now, there is time to consider what awaits.

It's not to say that it is an entirely terrible thing that much of this seems ready to topple- we've been complacent and ugly in the protection of our way of life. Even if we don't make the cruel decisions, much comfort is derived at the expense of others. A mounting debt, not of the fiscal kind, swirls on our horizon. Oddly our way of life really doesn't seem to make us anything but medicated, fat and plastic. And then shocked into a stunned puddle as it is inevitably stripped away, one by one- lay-off or medical bill- chose your middle class poison. Deeply felt emotions are difficult to mine these days unless they are rage or crippling depression.

Pistol

North Carolina, US: A 'reckless' decision to shoot family dog

In response to the story "Deputy fatally shoots dog during attack" in the Herald-Sun on Dec. 13, we want to be sure readers understand that on Dec. 9, one of our family dogs was shot in the head by a Durham County sheriff's deputy investigating a break-in - not a break-in at our home, but at our neighbor's home.

The officer came onto our property from the side yard and our three Jack Russells, not knowing who he was or where he came from, circled him and did what terrier dogs do to protect their territory from strangers or intruders. All three of our pets were wearing fully-functioning invisible fence collars and the driveway boundary was marked by bright orange flagging.

This horrific, senseless act of violence by investigating officer L. Kelly has devastated our family.

X

Psychopathy Alert! North Carolina, US: Deputy fatally shoots dog during attack

A Durham County sheriff's deputy pepper sprayed and shot a dog to death Friday when it bit him as he was investigating a burglary.

Deputy R. Kelley was investigating a break-in at 4006 Kerley Road, near the Durham-Orange County line, during which someone had used a rock, brick and tool to break through windowpanes on the side of French door in the garage which leads to the house.

The intruders went down a hallway into the master bedroom where drawers were opened, and items were stolen from drawers along with two jewelry boxes.

According to an email on the Arrowhead neighborhood listserv, Kelley was the first to respond to the scene. He was concerned that another break-in could have happened next door at 4012 Kerley Road, because he had seen the resident's garage door open.

USA

2 U.S. Flags Burned at Occupy Charlotte Land Group in Jail


Four protesters, including the spokesman of Occupy Charlotte, were charged after setting fire to two American flags early Friday near the Occupy camp in Center City, police said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police weren't sure earlier if the four men who set fire to two flags were associated with the Occupy Charlotte movement.

But, WBTV has learned that one of the men is the media spokesman for the Occupy group and has been the contact person listed on press releases from Occupy Charlotte.

The fires happened with in feet of the group's encampment.

Earlier reports indicated one flag was burned, but a police report says that 2 US flags were burned.

Officers said they noticed the suspects lighting something on fire directly in front of the Occupy camp along Trade Street around 12:30 a.m. Friday morning.

Police swarmed the area, and detained the men while firefighters were called in to knock down the flames. About $30 worth of damage was caused to landscaping at the site.

It was only after the fire was out did officials figure out what was burning, the American flag.

Info

Canada: Vancouver Health Authority Begins its Free Crack Pipe Program for Addicts

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© Jenelle Schneider / Postmedia News
Hugh Lampkin, president of the Vancouver Area of Network Drug Users, shows one of 60,000 crack smoking kits that will be distributed at five sites throughout Vancouver's Downtown Eastside to help reduce the spread of disease.
Crack addicts in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside have started receiving free crack pipes as part of a Vancouver Coastal Health Authority harm reduction strategy aimed at curbing the spread of disease.

Part of a $60,000 trial project first announced in August, the pipes are just one piece of drug paraphernalia found inside kits that have been distributed to users in the area since the beginning of the month. The glass pipes are heat-resistant and shatterproof, which experts say should reduce injury to the users' lips and mouth - wounds that can make them more susceptible to diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C.

Also included are mouthpieces, filters, alcohol swabs, screens and push sticks.

While harm-reduction tools such as these have been made available to addicts in the past, this marks the first time they have been combined in a single kit, explained Trudi Beutel, a spokesperson for the health authority.

In total, 60,000 kits are expected to be distributed through five different Downtown Eastside harm reduction centres over the duration of the eight-month trial period.

Nuke

New Year Despair for Japan's Nuclear Refugees

checking for radiation
© AFP
As most of Japan prepares to ring in the New Year at the end of a traumatic 2011, refugees from the country's nuclear crisis relocated far from home say they have nothing to celebrate.

All over the country families will gather for a midnight trip to a shrine, many donning traditional kimono for the centrepiece of several days of celebration during one of Japan's most important festivals.

But for the many tens of thousands of people forced to flee when reactors at Fukushima Daiichi began spewing radiation, festivities are a long way from their thoughts.

Many of the 1,000 or so refugees holed-up in a 36-storey Tokyo tower block say their mood will be altogether downbeat, after a devastating year which saw their hometowns engulfed by the worst nuclear crisis in a generation.

Dollar

The Number One Catastrophic Event That Americans Worry About: Economic Collapse

collaped freeway
© n/a
Can you guess what the number one catastrophic event that Americans worry about is? There are certainly many to choose from. Many Americans are deathly afraid of a major terrorist attack. Others live in constant fear of natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanoes and hurricanes. Still others are incredibly concerned that a massive pandemic will break out at any time or that World War III will erupt in the Middle East.

Yes, there are certainly a lot of potential catastrophic events that one can worry about in the times in which we live, but the number one catastrophic event that Americans worry about is actually "economic collapse". At least that is what a recent survey conducted by Leiflin Inc. for the EcoHealth Alliance found. But this goes along with what so many other polls have found over the past few years.

Over and over again, opinion polls have found that the number one issue that American voters are concerned about is the economy. The truth is that average Americans are deeply, deeply concerned about unemployment, debt, the housing crash and the steady decline in the standard of living. It has been years since the U.S. economy has operated at a "normal" level, and many Americans are afraid that things could soon get a whole lot worse.

In the new survey mentioned above, those contacted were asked to select the top three potential catastrophes that worry them the most.

V

US, Iowa: Des Moines Police Arrest 12 Protesters at Democratic Headquarters


Twelve protesters have been arrested at the Iowa Democratic headquarters this afternoon, as they protested that Guantanamo remained open and corporate donations to campaigns.

As arrests were going on, other protesters with the Occupy the Caucuses movement chanted, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Obama close Guantanamo."

Among those arrested was Frankie Hughes, 14, who earlier today told a Register reporter that she gets good grades.