You cannot possibly know what’s going on if you don’t watch the first 10 minutes of this historic video.
The USA can do no better than this??? Maybe if the government were not spending borrowed money to destroy nations overseas, Americans would not be living like this in a land of collapsing infrastructure. Horrific pictures.
A year ago he slept in his own apartment, but today Charles Jackson sleeps under a bridge bordering Silver Lake, one of the more fashionable neighborhoods in Los Angeles. A few dozen strangers share the encampment; some become neighbors, while others come and go. Jackson wants to get off the streets, but as many of those who live on the margins have found, it is easier to lose a home than find another.
“People say, ‘This is going to be temporary, you know, until I get out from under this rock,’” he told me. A kind-looking brown-eyed man in his mid-50s, Jackson stands in front of the tent he lives in, looking away as we talk, his voice barely louder than a whisper. Beside us, Jackson’s white-and-tan terrier, Ozzie — well-groomed and clearly beloved — pokes his nose out from the front of the tent, panting in the midday sun. “Two years pass by, four, five years pass by; before you know it, you’re ten years homeless in the streets because out here, time is nothing. You get to not know what day it is, what month it is.”
Life on the streets, he said, “grows on you.” His well-stocked tent is evidence of this. There’s a full-size mattress, a stool, a big jug of water, pots and pans — the makings of an apartment, underneath a bridge.
Jackson, originally from Chicago, came to live under the bridge after serving nine months of a two-year prison sentence for possession of crack cocaine. He got out early thanks to California’s Proposition 47, a 2014 measure that reduced most drug possession cases from a felony to a misdemeanor. He’s clean now, he said, but many of those around him use drugs. The influences that come with his living environment, Jackson said, were not making the road to recovery any easier.
In the last couple of years there has been a significant increase in homelessness around Los Angeles. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city, with its Mediterranean climate and 300 days of a sunshine a year, is second only to New York City when it comes to its population of people without homes. Since 2013, the number has increased by at least 12 percent across Los Angeles county, according to a biannual count conducted by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. In the areas served by the authority, 41,174 people are homeless, only a third of whom live in shelters or transitional housing. In the city itself, 9,535 people are homeless.
“There’s clearly a crisis,” said Maria Foscarinis, founder and executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. It is not one confined to Southern California. Nationally, according to her organization, “at least 2.5 to 3.5 million Americans sleep in shelters, transitional housing, and public places not meant for human habitation” each year; another 7.4 million Americans have lost their homes and are living precariously, “doubled-up with family or friends.” On any given night, at least 578,000 people sleep on the street, according to federal numbers. As the number of people living in poverty jumped nearly 20 percent over the last decade, the country lost about 10,000 units of affordable public housing annually.
These figures are sobering, but in Los Angeles advocates for the homeless point to an even more disturbing trend: the increasing criminalization of people without homes. Public officials and business leaders “are looking for a quick fix,” Foscarinis told me, and while imprisoning a homeless person may cost more than securing his or her housing, hauling someone away and out of sight creates the appearance of doing something. On June 16, the city council voted 14-1 to make it easier to confiscate the possessions of homeless people, reducing the three-day notice currently required to 24 hours (and subjecting bulky items, such as mattresses, to immediate removal). The move was finalized a week later, with the support of Mayor Eric Garcetti, though on July 22 he called for these measures to be enforced compassionately. Responding to the complaints of property owners in Venice, the city is also looking to reinstate a ban on living in vehicles…
It’s almost as if this part of town — not far from Los Angeles’ business district a few streets north, and Little Tokyo a few blocks east — has been completely forgotten. Even as a photographer living in the city for 25 years, I had been reluctant to visit. But after spending a few days in the area known to Angelenos as Skid Row, I realized that some of the men and women living there are eager to have their stories seen and heard.
So, the U.S. government has finally decided to help some 2,000 Air Force personnel exposed to Agent Orange residue left over in airplanes used during the Vietnam War. They are now eligible for disability, medical and survivor benefits.
“Opening up eligibility for this deserving group of Air Force veterans and reservists is the right thing to do,” Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald announced.
Really? Then why didn’t the VA take this step long ago? These new recipients flew in Fairchild C-123 aircraft from 1969 to 1986. That’s between 46 and 29 years ago!
And if it’s the “right thing to do” for those folks then what about the countless other Vietnam era military personnel whose cries for help have been ignored even though they suffer from some or many of the 14 diseases needed to claim Agent Orange benefits?
The longstanding rule says if a veteran had boots on-the-ground in Vietnam they are automatically accepted for special benefits. All others making Agent Orange disability claims have to prove they handled the toxic chemical or worked near it.
Over the decades I have spoken to dozens of vets who suffer from an “approved” disease. Among them: Hodgkin’s, Parkinson’s, prostate or respiratory cancers, soft tissue sarcoma, diabetes mellitus (Type 2), chronic B-cell leukemia, ischemic heart disease and debilitating chloracne. Many fear they have passed their ill health on to their children and grandchildren.
These veterans are ignored, according to the few lawyers willing to challenge the VA on their behalf, because the Defense Department claims they can find no records proving they were in proximity to Agent Orange. Records were poorly kept, lost and, in at least one case, destroyed by fire.
If ever there was a deserving group of citizens with a reason to sue for redress, this is it. But, oh yeah, the U.S. government is conveniently immune from lawsuits.
These men and women who loyally served their country are convinced that the government’s strategy has been to “deny, deny, until they die,” since Agent Orange benefits already account for one out of six disability checks issued by the VA…
Risk analyst Nassim Nicholas Taleb predicted the 2008 financial crisis, by pointing out that commonly-used risk models were wrong. Taleb – a distinguished professor of risk engineering at New York University, and author of best-sellers The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness – Taleb became financially independent after the crash of 1987, and wealthy during the 2008 financial crisis.
Taleb noted last year that most boosters for genetically modified foods (GMOs) – including scientists – are totally ignorant about risk analysis. Taleb said that proliferating GMOs could lead to “an irreversible termination of life [on] the planet.”…
Eric Holder has been praised as a “civil rights”-oriented attorney general, but the only rights he has championed are those of the bankers, white vigilantes and killer cops. Holder refused to press charges against millionaire banking executives who, he assured Wall Street, ‘were too big to jail.’ Blacks have to make do with their Miranda warning rights – if they are lucky enough to survive an encounter with the police...
Holder, for his part is satisfied with his political legacy: “I think I go out having accomplished a great deal in the areas that are of importance to me. I’m satisfied with the work we have done.”
But in the end, Holder’s legacy will be summarized in one sentence: the Attorney General who waltzed with Wall Street robbers and exonerated the killers of two unarmed Black boys, George Zimmerman and Darryl Wilson, which triggered the first African-American mass resistance movement of the 21st century. Period.