Daily Archives: April 18, 2016

USA | The other side of Tinseltown: ‘riverside living’ has a different meaning in America’s homeless capital

Los Angeles, the City of Angels, is now known by a more sombre sobriquet – the homeless capital of America.
Living in the shadow of the world famous Hollywood sign, some 44,000 people survive without a proper home, many sleeping in cars, tents or in makeshift shacks.
According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the down-and-out population has increased by as much as 20 per cent. Authorities have declared a state of emergency and are seeking $100million to deal with the crisis.
Many of the homeless live along the banks of the Los Angeles River, which flows from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach, over a distance of almost 48 miles.
A major cluster of homeless live in Downtown LA, hiding under bridges or sleeping along railway lines.
An estimated 800 people live in LA’s riverbeds and storm drains, who are at risk when the river floods.
The concrete-lined river is often used as a set for Hollywood blockbusters.
Earlier this year, the City announced a 10-year plan adopted by with the ambitious goal of ending LA’s growing homelessness, includes hiring social workers, offering quality housing and building permanent housing.
In addition, Los Angeles County supervisors also agreed to release $100 million over several years ($42 million in the first 12 months) toward housing the homeless.
Homelessness is ‘the most serious humanitarian crisis confronting our county today,’ said county CEO Sachi Hamai.
Plans for funding the initiatives still must be adopted, with the city of Los Angeles scheduled to vote on its budget in April.
City Councilman Jose Huizar, who co-chairs the Homelessness and Poverty Committee, acknowledged that a series of past plans to reduce homelessness had failed.
Between 2013 and 2015, the number of homeless in Los Angeles County soared by 12.4 per cent, with the percent of those living in the street or in their car — without access to emergency shelter — soaring by 85 per cent.
Of the 44,000 homeless people living in the county, some 29,000 or two-thirds, sleep in the streets, tents or their cars, according to a spokesman for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
Some people have created wooden shacks, left, underneath freeway bridges on the access roads linking the city to its suburbs.
Those left behind by society try to survive by gathering pieces of scrap and old pallets so they don’t have to sleep on the floor.
The 2008-2009 economic crisis took a hefty toll on Californians, while housing inflation has drastically limited affordable options.
In addition, many homeless opt to live in Los Angeles due to its mild weather and social services, notably near Skid Row, where some 5,000 homeless live.
By comparison, the homeless population in New York, America’s largest metropolis, is larger at 57,000 people, but 95 percent of them live in shelters or temporary housing funded by local authorities and the state.
Los Angeles County spends around $1 billion a year on medical, psychiatric and social welfare care for its homeless, not including police expenditures.
‘A real bed is much less expensive than a jail bed or a hospital bed,’ Phil Ansell, director of the county’s Homeless Initiative, told the Los Angeles City Council.
Commuters and Hollywood stars often speed along the freeway, completely oblivious to the miserable lives being lived by the homeless.

Venezuela | Brazil Media Celebrates Vote for Rousseff’s Impeachment

Brazilian media giants such as O’Globo have been accused of acting more like political parties than media outlets in the lead-up to the impeachment vote.
Brazil’s largest media giants celebrated the fact that President Dilma Rousseff is one step closer to facing impeachment on their front pages on Monday, laying bare once again the blatant anti-government political interests of the country’s highly concentrated media.
The daily newspaper O’Globo, Latin America’s largest media conglomerate, owned by and aligned with the country’s dictatorship-linked economic elite, published a front page with the headline “Near the end.”
Folha de Sao Paulo openly cheered the outcome of Sunday’s vote in favor of impeachment for Rousseff with the fully capitalized title “Impeachment!” and a subhead noting that Vice President Michel Temer, who will take over from Rousseff if she is suspended, spoke of “great responsibility” in light of the decision.
Finally, the daily newspaper Estado de Sao Paulo ran the front page headline “Impeachment advances” with coverage of a “historic” congressional session.
The coverage comes after the 513-member lower house of Congress voted 367 to 137 in favor of the impeachment. Seven lawmakers abstained and two did not show up to vote. Rousseff’s supports needed 172 votes to block the impeachment from going forward.
The vote will now pass to the senate to determine whether to open an investigation against Rousseff on route to possible removal from office. If approved by the senate, the president will be suspended from office and Vice President Michel Temer, facing low approval ratings and corruption charges, will step in to fill the country’s top office.
In the lead-up to Sunday’s contentious and polarizing vote in in Congress, major Brazilian media outlets were accused of “coup-mongering” and manipulating the country’s massive corruption problem to whip up public support in favor of booting the government from office.
Although high-profile opposition figures, including lower house speaker and impeachment campaign leader Eduardo Cunha, are deeply embroiled in corruption, mainstream media coverage has disproportionately focused on Rousseff, her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and their Workers’ Party.
Importantly, Rousseff is not accused of corruption for personal enrichment, and the alleged charges that she manipulated budgets in 2014 were scarcely mentioned in Sunday’s marathon Congress vote, which Germany’s Die Ziet described as a “carnival.”
About 60 percent of the members of Brazil’s Congress face major charges for corruption and other crimes such as bribery, electoral fraud, kidnapping, and more.
Brazil’s Attorney General Jose Eduardo Cardozo called the vote in favor of impeachment a “coup” against the Rousseff government and a form of political revenge.

The New World: March 2016 Is the Sixth Temperature Record-Breaking Month in a Row

By Phil Plait

October. November. December. January. February. And now March.

For the sixth month in a row, we’ve had a month that has broken the global high temperature record. And not just broken it, but shattered it, blasting through it like the previous record wasn’t even there.