The Full And Final Interview With Aaron Russo

You cannot possibly know what’s going on if you don’t watch the first 10 minutes of this historic video.

The Crime Of Living without A Home In Los Angeles

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…

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/07/25/criminalizing-homelessness-in-los-angeles/

Related:

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.

Skid Row Los Angeles

San Pedro Street, between Fifth and Sixth Street, is one of the busiest areas of Skid Row and home to the nonprofit Union Rescue Mission.

Photo: Theonepointeight for The Intercept

A block-long encampment running down San Pedro St houses a multitude of homeless people. Most of these people use tents makeshift plastic coverings and blankets to protect them from the often harsh summer L.A. weather.

People use tents, makeshift plastic coverings and blankets as shelter in a block-long encampment that runs down San Pedro Street. 

Photo: Theonepointeight for The Intercept

William J. Perkins III, also known as GSTA, has been living on the streets since May 2015. He describes how he ended up homeless, "I never was homeless. Me and my wife moved from Philadelphia cause they had treatment for her out here here in Los Angeles. She had lung cancer. Stage 4. So the medical expenses were a little cheaper. So when we came here, they gave me temporary housing in a drug infested zone over there by St. Julian. We stayed 3 months”. His wife passed away last year and he plans to move out of the area, but he reflects on his current predicament, "You never really thought that in America, the most powerful country, we'll be doing that. I fought for this country. Look where I live at. They don't take our lives seriously when we put our life on the line for this country"

William J. Perkins III, also known as GSTA, says he has been living on the streets since May 2015. “I never was homeless,” he says. “Me and my wife moved from Philadelphia ’cause they had treatment for her out here here in Los Angeles. She had lung cancer. Stage Four. So the medical expenses were a little cheaper. So when we came here, they gave me temporary housing in a drug-infested zone over there by San Julian Street. We stayed three months.” His wife passed away last year and he plans to move out of the area. “You never really thought that in America, the most powerful country, we’ll be doing that. I fought for this country. Look where I live at. They don’t take our lives seriously when we put our life on the line for this country.”

Photo: Theonepointeight for The Intercept

Roy Evensen, also known as "Cowboy" is 66 years old and was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He's been living in Skid Row for 6 years. After being an army sniper during the Vietnam war and a soldier during the 70's, he had difficulties adjusting to normal every day life. He says, "I got out of the Army just about 1980. I had enough. I couldn't take it no more. I had a  feeling my number was gonna come up if I go to Iraq or whatever. Things were going up and down for me. I couldn't adjust right. If I hear something or dropping something, I hid in the pavement, looking around you know. We didn't have PSTD. They called it combat fatigue, the willy nillys, or whatever. The doctors would give Valium. I didn't want to get hooked up on that stuff. So I started drinking beer and it made me more relaxed"

Roy Evensen, also known as “Cowboy,” is 66 and was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He’s been living on Skid Row for six years. After time as an Army sniper during the Vietnam War and a soldier in the 70s, he told me he had difficulties adjusting to civilian life. “I got out of the Army just about 1980. Things were going up and down for me. I couldn’t adjust right. If I hear something or dropped something, I hit the pavement, looking around, you know. We didn’t have PSTD. They called it combat fatigue, the willy nillys, or whatever. The doctors would give Valium. I didn’t want to get hooked up on that stuff. So I started drinking beer and it made me more relaxed.”

Photo: Theonepointeight for The Intercept

Stephanie Williams, in her 40's, has been living in skid row for a year. She has set up a place where people can come and learn sewing as well as take part in art-related activities. She ended up on the streets after being a victim of police brutality who she says broke her leg in a wrongful case of trespassing. She describes the reasons why she's living in Skid Row, "This is by choice. I'm not struggling. I'm not needy. I'm just here to spread the word. Let the people know what the police are doing. They're hurting us. I'm gonna retire here. I'm gonna be the little old lady on 5th and San Pedro. Still sowing. Helping out. Giving back"

Stephanie Williams, in her 40s, says she has been living here by choice for a year. She has set up a place where people can learn sewing and do other arts and crafts. She was a victim of police brutality; she says cops broke her leg in a wrongful case of trespassing. “I’m not struggling. I’m not needy. I’m just here to spread the word,” she said. “Let the people know what the police are doing. They’re hurting us. I’m gonna retire here. I’m gonna be the little old lady on Fifth and San Pedro. Still sewing. Helping out. Giving back.”

Photo: Theonepointeight for The Intercept

Black, 47 years old, currently lives on 5th street. When asked about his situation as a homeless person, he explains "These are good people. Of course, you gotta try to help yourself. Sometimes, you get lost out here. But as an individual, you gotta be able to help yourself still. I still wanna keep healthy. I still wanna try to do things and do better. But mentally, anybody can be mentally strained. A lot of people are not capable or competent of helping themselves. It could be periodic. One moment, I can be talking to you like this. And next thing you know, I can be going thru something totally different which I can't help myself. It's just the mental aspect. But you try to keep fighting, you try to get better". He also admits that the biggest problem in the area is drugs, not just the ones that are sold illegally, but also the ones given to them by pharmaceutical companies.

This man, 47, goes by the name Black. “These are good people,” he says of his neighbors. “Of course, you gotta try to help yourself. Sometimes, you get lost out here. But as an individual, you gotta be able to help yourself still. I still wanna keep healthy. I still wanna try to do things and do better. But mentally, anybody can be mentally strained. A lot of people are not capable or competent of helping themselves. It could be periodic. One moment, I can be talking to you like this. And next thing you know, I can be going through something totally different which I can’t help myself. It’s just the mental aspect. But you try to keep fighting, you try to get better.”

Photo: Theonepointeight for The Intercept

It's not uncommon to see people moving around from one spot to another. Homeless individuals can claim a spot in a certain spot but it can be short lived. They will move for different reasons but primarily the main issue is that the area becomes too dangerous due to crime and rampant drug use. In addition, they can also be forced out of the streets by the local police.

People often move from one spot to another. An area might become too dangerous because of crime or drug use, several explained, or the police might force them to relocate.

Photo: Theonepointeight for The Intercept

Monty, 48 years old, lives in Towne Ave. which sits just a few blocks away from the much cleaner and protected area of Little Tokyo. His make-shift encampment is a completely covered in papers, some books and endless self-written notes. He explains, "I work my ass off. I'm smarter than most motherfuckers on this block. You see my paperwork, I memorize half of this shit. I can look up a movie and tell you what casting director did that. That's what I do. That's what these are. Casting directors, producers, directors, writers, facebook, twitter, myspace, craigslist, youtube". His goal is to go save money so he can go back  home to Indiana and apply for university theater degree.

Monty, 48, lives on Towne Avenue. His encampment is covered in papers, books and self-written notes. He explained, “I work my ass off. I’m smarter than most motherfuckers on this block. You see my paperwork, I memorize half of this shit. I can look up a movie and tell you what casting director did that. That’s what I do. That’s what these are. Casting directors, producers, directors, writers, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, CraigsList, YouTube.” His goal, he said, is to save money to go back home to Indiana and apply for a university theater degree.

Photo: Theonepointeight for The Intercept

The intersection of Crocker St. and 6th street features a mural painted by artists RETNA and El Mac, in collaboration with photographer Estevan Oriol. This specific mural,which was finished in 2010 sits in the heart of Skid Row, reminding the locals that there may be hope for their current situation. It's a small but constant reminder to the homeless community struggling with addiction, economic woes and mental problems.

Photo: Theonepointeight for The Intercept

The intersection of Crocker and Sixth features a mural painted in 2010 by artists RETNA and El Mac, in collaboration with photographer Estevan Oriol. This mural sits in the heart of Skid Row, adding a little color to the community.

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/07/25/scenes-from-skid-row-los-angeles/

Veteran Benefits: Deny, Deny, Deny Until They Die

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…

http://www.globalresearch.ca/deny-deny-until-they-die-vietnam-veterans-affected-by-agent-orange-the-us-governments-response/5464751

The Risk Of GMOs

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.”…

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/07/risk-experts-who-predicted-2008-financial-crash-gmos-risker-than-2008-crash-the-g-m-o-experiment-carried-out-with-our-entire-food-and-ecological-system-as-its-laboratory-is-perhaps-the.html

Holder’s Legacy

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.

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/32040-holder-s-legacy-mass-incarceration-and-protection-of-killer-cops-part-ii