Archive for poverty

The Book Booth: A Christmas Carol Edition

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Image: CedricMagic


The Book Booth is a weekly feature at The Political Carnival, relating news, notes, and reflections from the world of books and publishing. @SeattleDan, along with his wife, SeattleTammy, are operators of both an on-line bookstore here, as well as a brick and mortar storefront mini-store in Hoquiam, WA at 706 Simpson Ave (Route 101 South). Both have been in the book business since shortly after the Creation, or close to 6000 years now.

The Book Booth: A Christmas Carol Edition

As is my tradition, I post this portion of the end of what Dickens called Stave 3 of A Christmas Carol, as the spirit of Christmas Present takes his leave of Scrooge. The warning holds as true this year as it did for Dickens in 1844. Want and Ignorance remain with us, especially as we have witnessed this past Fall among the Republican candidates.

Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate the day and here's hoping for a splendid 2016 for us all.

"'Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,' said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit's robe,' but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw.'

'It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,' was the Spirit's sorrowful reply. 'Look here.'

From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.

'Oh, Man. look here. Look, look, down here.' exclaimed the Ghost.

They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.

Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.

'Spirit. are they yours.' Scrooge could say no more.

'They are Man's,' said the Spirit, looking down upon them. 'And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it.' cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. 'Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end.'

'Have they no refuge or resource.' cried Scrooge.

'Are there no prisons.' said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. 'Are there no workhouses.'" - A Christmas Carol, Stave 3: The Second of the Three Spirits

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It’s the Economy, Stupid (and the Military Industrial Complex too)

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There's no doubt that the spark that lit the fuse in Ferguson was the police shooting of Michael Brown. But you have to wonder how much anger was simmering, how much people were already hurting from decades of building racial tensions and the fact that so many of them are hurting financially.

I don't often agree with Chris Matthews, but he hit the nail on the head last night

The disturbing cell phone video of the other killing of a black man in Missouri by police bullets, this one on Tuesday, was released yesterday. We were told that this one was unquestionably justified (which I believe the video disproves- judge for yourself, but we warned, the video is graphic and very disturbing).

But  the reaction to that shooting was very different from the still-in-progress uproar and massive protests in response to the shooting death of Michael Brown some 9 days earlier, just two miles away.

Perhaps the way the authorities handled the moments following the shooting, when St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson crossed the police tape line to speak directly with the people in the crowd that gathered.

But the mayor did something unusual, as he recounted to Chris Hayes last night on All In (pertinent part comes in at 4:49)

St. Louis Mayor Slay (yes, that really is his ironic name) said

I sent some staff members out there to get a sense of what's going on in the crowd, talk to some of the people there, listen to their concerns. And one message that kept coming, over and over again by a number of those out there was "hey, we're out here protesting, but we could use a job. We need to be employed, we need to be able to support ourselves and our families." So, I had my workforce development director and his team out there. We signed up at least 85-90 people into programs that help them learn how to look for a job, and for job training programs as well.

Maybe the peace was kept in St. Louis because the people who turned out in dismay and disbelief after yet another young,black male was shot and killed by police thought that, this time, perhaps someone might be able to help them.

I don't know, and know that the video of that shooting is out, things might not be so peaceful tonight.

But one thing is apparent, people are hurting and need help.

Sasha Abramsky was on the show last year when his book The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives was first released. He joined me again today as the paperback is being released, and we discussed how the events in Ferguson have likely been exacerbated by the poor economic condition of so many of that town's citizens.

And finally, Congressman Alan Grayson joined me to talk about his efforts to prevent the type of militarized police situation we witnessed in Ferguson from becoming a reality.

On June 8, 2014, The New York Times published  "War Gear Flows to Police Departments," an article detailing the transfer of  thousands of pieces of "surplus military gear and equipment" to local police departments under the Department of Defense Excess Personal Property 1033 Program.

That article, in part, prompted the congressman to introduce an amendment to the DOD authorization act on June 19:

H.AMDT.918 (A052)
Amends: H.R.4870
Sponsor: Rep GraysonAlan [FL-9] (offered 6/19/2014)

AMENDMENT PURPOSE:
An amendment to prohibit use of funds to transfer aircraft (including unmanned aerial vehicles), armored vehicles, grenade launchers, silencers, toxicological agents, launch vehicles, guided missiles, ballistic missiles, rockets, torpedoes, bombs, mines, or nuclear weapons through the DOD Excess Personal Property Program established pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997.

Although Congressman Grayson had secured 19 Republican votes, assuring its passage if the Democrats stood with him and voted for the amendment, it failed by a vote of 62-355 in what he described on the show this morning as the worst any of his amendments has ever fared!

To hear the story of how this amendment was brought down by a so-called Democrat, just watch my conversation about it with Howie Klein from Monday's show:

It's enough to make you sick.

Just a few days after the amendment failed, the ACLU issued this excellent report that everyone should read, titled, "The War Comes Home."

Keep in mind that when "boys with toys" get overwhelmed, they often do really stupid things... like St. Ann Detective Corporal Ray Albers, aka Officer "Go Fuck Yourself" who should never be allowed near such weapons, let alone carry one on the streets of Ferguson, MO, where this video was shot.

Scary stuff...

I'll be back tomorrow to wrap up the week with Stephen Goldstein's "No More Bullshit Minute" and, from my musical archives, an interview with performance form Tori Amos... Radio or Not.

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Venezuela: The Tower of David: Highest Vertical Squat in the World

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I first read about the Tower of David in the New Yorker magazine last year, in these stories:

Venezuela

Slumlord and its successor piece The Real “Tower of David”, both written by Jon Lee Anderson.

The Guardian has also written about The Tower of David here

Here's a BBC video about it.

From YouTube

n Venezuela, Hugo Chavez has been dead for a year. Since then the country has been engulfed by runaway inflation, rampant crime, food and housing shortages. The crisis is clearest in one building in downtown Caracas. It's called the Tower of David - an unfinished skyscraper planned as a glittering monument to capitalism, It's now home to thousands of squatters. They police it, renovate its rooms, and plumb it into the city's electricity and water, and all for peppercorn rent. Olly Lambert has been to the Tower. He met three of its residents: Elvys Merclan, elected president of the tower cooperative, Miriam Figueroa - a shop keeper on the 22nd floor, and Yecenia Polanco, a young mum with 5 children.

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How a Poor Die-Hard Republican Who Hated Government Abandoned 'The Politics of Shame

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Republican Edwin Lyngar

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