Archive for March 2009
Watching the watchers is the name of the game as we head into the months of the city elections. For the most part we can say that Businesses at the Seattle Center like to break the law as we begin documenting activity of meanness there. For the next sixteen weeks, Deltas will be armed with radio’s and cameras (something they are used to) documenting interaction between the homeless and Businesses that allege that the homeless are hurting business. Businesses recently allege that the economy was not reponsible for the loss in business, but the homeless are.
With a lot of finger pointing-all of which points toward the downward economy, not the homeless, has created the latest controversy. A few years back, businesses in Philly lost legal claims in court; as did New York City and Chicago. All three cites lost their case. With owners adding harassment to long list being documented, who would have thought that the recon team would compile mountains of information against the followers of the tyrant Nickels. Today is a good example of such documentation.
Businesses at Seattle Center are purposely trying to eject the homeless. Advocates there will be prepared for a long battle including legal challenges and bad press. Let greater good come from the evil hearts of those whom choose risky investments. If the battle goes legal then it will put to rest some of the myths about the homeless in Seattle.
Squatter villages arise from the ashes of the West’s booms and busts
New America Media, News Feature, Scott Bransford, Photos: Max Whittaker, Posted: Mar 29, 2009 Review it on NewsTrust
Editor’s Note: Everywhere, from Fresno, Calif., to the struggling casino district of Reno, Nev., and the upscale suburbs of Washington state, tent cities and shantytowns with names like Taco Flat have sprung up to house the poor and dispossessed. These roving, ramshackle neighborhoods were part of the American cityscape long before the stock market nosedived, and they are unlikely to disappear when prosperity returns.
FRESNO, Calif. — Marie and Francisco Caro needed a home after they married, but like many people in California’s Central Valley, they didn’t have enough money to sign a lease or take out a mortgage.
They were tired of sleeping on separate beds in crowded homeless shelters, so they found a slice of land alongside the Union Pacific Railroad tracks in downtown Fresno. The soil was sandy and dry, prone to rising up into clouds when the autumn winds came. All around, farm equipment factories and warehouses loomed out of the dust, their walls coarse and sun-bleached like desert mountainsides.
Even a strong person could wither in a place like this, but if they wanted to build a home, nobody was likely to stop them. So Marie and Francisco gathered scrap wood and took their chances. They raised their tarp roof high like a steeple, then walled off the world with office cubicle dividers. Thieves stayed outside and so did the wind, and the sound of the passing freight trains softened.
Tarp Nation19-year-old Andrea Campbell prepares for a day out.When I visited the Caros in January, a fire burned in an overturned oil barrel, warming the cool air, and fresh-cut Christmas tree boughs hung on the walls for decoration.
While Francisco chopped wood, Marie, 43, confided that she wants to live somewhere else. All she needs is a modest place with a sink and a gas stove, she said, maybe even a little television for watching church services on Sundays.
But until times change, she said, she’ll be happy in her self-made abode, cooking on top of the oil barrel, making meals with whatever food God brings.
“He gives us bread,” said Marie, a Fresno native who quit school in the 10th grade, ashamed of a learning disability that got in the way of her reading. “I’m just waiting for my home.”
From the well-kept interior of the Caros’ place, one can hardly see the jagged rows of tents and shanties on the vacant land around them. About 200 people have built informal habitats along the railroad tracks, primarily poor whites and migrant workers from Mexico.
There are many names for this fledgling city, where Old Glory flies from improvised flagpoles and trash heaps rise and fall with the wavering population. To some it’s Little Tijuana, but most people call it Taco Flat.
Just to the south, under a freeway overpass, there’s another camp of roughly equal size called New Jack City where most of the residents are black. Even more dwellings are scattered throughout the neighborhood nearby, appended to the walls of industrial buildings and rising up the flanks of freeway spurs.
Fresno, which the Brookings Institution ranked in 2005 as the American city with the greatest concentration of poverty, is far from the only place where people are resorting to life in makeshift abodes. Similar encampments are proliferating throughout the West, everywhere from the industrial hub of Ontario, Calif., to the struggling casino district of Reno, Nev., and the upscale suburbs of Washington state.
In any other country, these threadbare villages would be called slums, but in the U.S., the preferred term is tent city, a label that implies that they are just a temporary phenomenon. Many journalists, eager to prove that the country is entering the next Great Depression, blame the emergence of these shantytowns on the economic downturn, calling them products of foreclosures and layoffs.
While there’s some truth to this notion, the fact is that these roving, ramshackle neighborhoods were part of the American cityscape long before the stock market nosedived, and they are unlikely to disappear when prosperity returns. The recent decades of real estate speculation and tough-love social policies have cut thousands of people out of the mainstream markets for work and housing, and the existing network of homeless shelters is overburdened and outdated.
People such as the Caros are part of a vanguard that has been in crisis for years, building squatter settlements as a do-or-die alternative to the places that rejected them. This parallel nation, with a population now numbering in the thousands in Fresno alone, was born during the boom times, and it is bound to flourish as the economy falters.
“The chickens are coming home to roost,” said Larry Haynes, the executive director of Mercy House, a homeless outreach organization based in Southern California. “What this speaks of is an absolute crisis of affordability and accessibility.”
Framed within a backdrop of faded industrial buildings and rusty water towers, Taco Flat looks like a relic of some bygone era. These rough-and-ready dwellings, untouched by the luxuries of electricity, sewage lines and cable connections, seem like an aberration in a country that has grown accustomed to newness, whether in the form of ever-faster Internet connections or the accelerating spread of big-box stores and single-family homes.
Much of the shock value of tent cities comes from the fact that they force one to do a bit of time travel, revisiting an atmosphere of social disorder that seems more fitting to a Gold Rush-era squatter camp, and a level of destitution that recalls the Hoovervilles of the 1930s. Even tent city residents themselves feel trapped in circular trajectories of history, doomed to lives shaped by the threat of lawlessness and the ever-looming peril of relocation.
Frankie Lynch, one of the self-proclaimed mayors of Taco Flat, has ancestors who fled Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl years, only to discover a new kind of poverty in the farmworker camps of California’s Central Valley. Now he’s drifting, too, unable to find the construction work that used to pay his bills.
“It’s just going back to the same thing,” said Lynch, 50. “I remember my grandparents and my dad talking about labor camps, and going town to town to work.”
The folks who linger around Lynch’s dwelling have a spectral resemblance to yesteryear’s harvest gypsies. Their faces are drawn and sunken, pale as rock cocaine, twisted with coughs that suggest malnourishment. There’s a soup kitchen called the Pov on the other side of the railroad tracks, but pride keeps some people from crossing over, and so does a rampant fear of muggings and stabbings.
Crime is a concern here — according to county estimates, 41 percent of the homeless population has been incarcerated at some point or another — but the greatest fear for most people is that they’ve lost their place in mainstream society, whether as a result of mental or physical illness, past mistakes or the whims of global capitalism.
In better times, they may have weathered their troubles, getting by with work in factories, call centers or construction sites. But now those jobs are gone, and many people wonder if they will ever come back.
Don Harmon, a carpenter, used to raise frames on commercial sites throughout Northern California. But last July, when all the building halted, he couldn’t make his rent, and he ended up in Taco Flat with his 2-year-old son.
Like most of the stories one hears in tent cities, Harmon’s would be hard to authenticate. But as he spoke, he held out his hands as if to prove his honesty. They were as worn-out as an old union membership card.
Tarp NationLana Meranda watches as a friend stokes the barrel fire in her makeshift home.”I’m unemployed right now,” said Harmon, his voice rising, “but I guarantee you these hands will work. I will tear my hands up working, you know, to make sure my kid’s gonna have what he’s gotta have.”
Tent cities have much in common with the squatter camps of the Great Depression, but to simply call them Hoover-villes is to ignore their complexity. To truly understand them, one must look at current trends in the developing world, where informal urbanism — a form of “slum” development that takes place outside the conventions of city planning — is now the predominant mode of city-making.
Informal urbanism, characterized by unauthorized land occupation, makeshift construction and a lack of public utilities, is how many burgeoning nations meet their housing needs. It thrives in places like Fresno, where poverty is endemic and there is a wide gap between rich and poor.
Rahul Mehrotra, a professor at the MIT Institute of Urban Studies and Planning, said there’s a real kinship between Taco Flat and the squatter settlements of Mumbai, India, where he runs an architectural firm.
“It’s really a reflection of the government’s inability to provide housing affordably across society,” Mehrotra said. Informal urbanism also thrives wherever people face exclusion from the mainstream markets for work and shelter, he added, whether for ethnic, economic or political reasons.
This can be seen in Taco Flat’s large contingent of undocumented workers, who left their homes in Latin America to find work on the Central Valley’s farms and construction sites. As borders tighten and immigration raids increase, the act of signing a lease has become more risky, prompting many to forego formal housing altogether.
Undocumented workers are also plagued by low wages, which aren’t keeping pace with the rising costs of housing. In Fresno, fair market rents went up 52 percent between 2000 and 2008, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Now, the typical two-bedroom apartment costs $805 a month, far out of the reach of workers like 21-year-old Juan Garcia, who came from Mexico.
This hardship has only been exacerbated by disappearing jobs in the Central Valley, where an ongoing drought is turning some of the world’s most fertile farmland into a desert. This year, the region’s water districts are expecting deep cuts to water deliveries –– anywhere from 85 to 100 percent. Job losses could total 95,000 statewide, resulting in up to $2.8 billion in lost income, according to Richard Howitt, an agricultural economist at the University of California, Davis.
That has left workers like Garcia suspended between two countries. In neither country is there a guarantee of a livelihood, and home is all too often an abstraction. At least in Garcia’s native state of Colima, there are always the comforts of family.
“It’s better in Mexico,” Garcia said. “I’m going back.”
In Fresno and other struggling cities, which perpetually strive to boost tax revenues with development, tent cities are often seen as symbols of criminality and dereliction, glaring setbacks to neighborhood revitalization efforts. That perception is common wherever informal urbanism exists, said Mehrotra, and it often leaves squatter camps on the brink of ruin.
“You are always on the edge of demolition,” Mehrotra said. “There’s a kind of insecurity in the lack of tenure on the land.”
This hit home in Fresno a few years ago, when workers began raiding encampments throughout the city, tearing down makeshift homes and destroying personal property in the process. The city of Fresno and the California Department of Transportation conducted these sweeps in the name of public health, citing citizen complaints about open-air defecation.
Yet the raids did nothing to stop tent cities from forming, and they ultimately led to lawsuits. In October 2006, residents who lost their homes in the raids filed a class-action suit against the city of Fresno and the state of California. A U.S. district judge ordered the defendants to pay $2.3 million in damages.
Hundreds of miles to the south of Fresno, there’s also been a battle over tent cities in the Inland Empire, an industrial stronghold that stretches out into the deserts east of Los Angeles. Flying into Ontario International Airport, one can see the nucleus of this struggle, in a neighborhood less than a mile from the tarmac.
There, on a stretch of vacant land surrounded by aging homes and abandoned orchards, tents are arranged in neat rows oddly reminiscent of the region’s grid of warehouses, rail yards and sprawling truck lots.
This used to be one of Southern California’s largest squatter settlements, an unruly village of tarp and scrap wood that grew until some 400 residents called it home. People moved here from as far away as Florida, recalls Brent Schultz, Ontario’s Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization Director.
Schultz said local officials would rather see Ontario as an economic engine, and they were disturbed to find out that it was becoming a magnet for the dispossessed.
“We’re not,” Schultz said, “going to be a repository for a region’s homeless.”
Rather than simply bulldoze the makeshift neighborhood, Ontario officials embarked on a $3 million campaign to discipline and punish squatters, setting up a formal camp where tarp dwellings became symbols of order.
In the spring of last year, police and code enforcement officers issued color-coded bracelets to distinguish Ontario residents from newcomers, then gradually banished the out-of-towners. Then they demolished the shanties and set up an official camp with a chain-link fence and guard shack. Residents were issued special I.D.s and a strict set of rules: No coming and going after 10 p.m., no pets, no children or visitors, no drugs and no alcohol.
About 120 people stuck around, but many left to escape the regimentation. As of late January, the population was less than 50.
“It’s like a prison,” said Melody Woolsey, 40, who has lived in both versions of the encampment.
Schultz, on the other hand, considers the camp one of Ontario’s greatest success stories. Some of the camp’s residents agree: They say it’s a bit like a gated community on a modest scale, a rare haven where one can live affordably without the fear of robbery or violence.
“Some people come up here and say, it looks like a concentration camp, but they don’t live here,” said Robert, 51, an unemployed factory technician. “They’re only looking at it from the outside. I look at it that it’s a secure community.”
Yet the neighborhood is filled with angry people who were excluded from the camp and left to take shelter in cars or in other vacant lots, often under threat of police citations. Many of these outcasts see the camp as a symbol of injustice, a cynical and inauthentic gesture of compassion.
Linda Parker, 59, couldn’t get a camp I.D. card, so for a while she tried living in an RV down the street from the tent city, parking it next to a mechanic’s shop. Yet in January, police officers towed it away, charging her with unauthorized camping. Parker, a widow who suffers from debilitating asthma and incontinence, had no idea where she would go next.
“All they do is take from you and take from you until you have nothing,” she said, through tears as a tow truck pulled her RV into the distance.
For Americans throughout the West, the very concept of home is changing, adjusting downward to a reality in which buying cheap land, picking out a subdivision lot, or even renting an apartment has become nothing more than a fancy daydream. That’s a painful realization for a region steeped in myths of plenty. But in these hard times, tent cities are increasingly the last province of hope for having a place of one’s own.
Tent cities like Taco Flat are communities like any other, and if neglected, they will be lost to crime, addiction and illness. Yet whenever officials act to destroy or stifle them with punitive regulations, they not only wipe out the pride of residents struggling to survive, they also jettison a spirit of self-reliance and innovation that could be harnessed to help meet the housing needs of the future.
The promise of tent cities begins with their architecture. Makeshift dwellings may not be the dream homes of yesteryear, but they are simple, affordable and sustainable in their use of salvaged materials. With imaginative designers, they could help solve the present housing crisis, a faster alternative to the lengthy process of building low-income apartment complexes and homeless shelters.
That possibility is already taking shape in Portland, Ore., where activists have carved out a space for improvised dwellings in Dignity Village, a community that can house up to 60 people. Founded in 2000 and now approved by the city, it’s considered a model by housing advocates worldwide.
Beyond the check-in desk in the village’s sod-walled security post, residents find a balance between the human needs for safety and personal freedom. They’re required to do at least 10 hours of community service per week, such as helping newcomers build or remodel homes, but otherwise they set their own schedules.
“This isn’t a flophouse,” said Joe Palinkas, 55, a resident who runs the village Web site. “This is a community place. You support the village by taking care of yourself as if you were on your own.”
Tent cities also could become a locus for action and dialogue, a place where outreach workers, social service agencies and everyday citizens can reach out to society’s most vulnerable members.
This potential is turning into a reality in Seattle, Wash., and the surrounding suburbs, where tent cities have galvanized a social protest movement calling for more affordable housing and better services for the homeless.
There, organizations such as SHARE/WHEEL and Veterans for Peace have banded together with churches to establish a roving network of tent cities that take Dignity Village as their inspiration. Residents hold elections for managerial positions, work out disagreements at nightly meetings, and come together regularly for communal meals.
In camps such as Seattle’s Nickelsville, named after Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, residents share a sense of camaraderie rather than the rampant mistrust found in Taco Flat. Bruce Beavers, 47, who recently lost his Washington state home to foreclosure, said this is crucial to people who are trying to work their way back into jobs and the mainstream housing market.
“It helps build your self-esteem back,” said Beavers. “You’re getting your mind back so you can go out and take interviews.”
Leaders in California’s Central Valley might do well to listen to Beavers. Instead, planners still see tent cities as obstacles to revitalization. Fresno and Madera counties recently adopted a 10-year plan to end homelessness, and Gregory Barfield, the area’s newly appointed homeless czar, says tent cities aren’t part of the picture.
“A Dignity Village for us is not the best course of action,” said Barfield. “We’ve got to find out a way to move forward with housing people. That’s what our homeless are asking for and that’s what our businesses are asking for.”
But such plans mean little to Taco Flat residents like Arthur Barela, 45, who lost his job when the Central Valley’s farms began to dry out. For him, the only real home is the one he has made with his blankets, his small tent and his tarp. He still has the strength to keep his place clean, but his frame is nearly skeletal, his clothes growing loose around him.
“Hopefully, things don’t get chaotic and things don’t get out of hand,” said Barela, kneeling before his tent as if in prayer. “Sometimes hunger can make a person do crazy things.”
NEW AMERICA MEDIA
By Associated Press
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) – A bill to limit the regulations local governments can impose on churches that host homeless encampments is apparently dead in the Legislature.
Rep. Brendan Williams of Olympia sponsored the bill to counter a homeless ordinance approved last year in Lacey that restricted a tent city.
The bill passed the House and was assigned to a Senate committee. But that panel is not scheduled to meet Monday, the deadline to move it out of the committee.
Williams says he thinks his bill’s demise might be tied to his opposition to another bill intended to allow taller buildings in part of Olympia.
Under Williams’ bill, cities and counties would not be able to ban churches from hosting homeless camps near schools, or require that the homeless be housed inside church buildings.
While the tyrant Greg Nickels runs for his third term in office, the third term isn’t always the charm. Recent voice emitted from the city attorney’s office asserted that the city has a right to manage homelessness. O.K., I’ll buy that for now, but read on.
Greg Nickels manages nothing but the death of the homeless. Recently, King County buried more than two-hundred and nine low income but most of those were homeless according to an article in the Seattle Times:
Unclaimed remains of 209 people buried in Renton
Most were homeless but some lived alone. Some died of violence, others by accident or disease or overdose. Some left family, for others no relatives could be found. A few left strong memories.
RENTON, Wash. -
Most were homeless but some lived alone. Some died of violence, others by accident or disease or overdose. Some left family, for others no relatives could be found. A few left strong memories.
What they had in common was that no one claimed their bodies after they died.
On Wednesday, a few dozen people gathered at Mount Olivet Cemetery in this Seattle suburb to pay final respects to the 209 people whose cremated remains were each wrapped in plastic with an identifying tag and placed in a group vault with a headstone reading: “Gone but not forgotten these people of Seattle.”
“(As we see) how many people who are suffering bad breaks beyond their control – losing their homes, losing their jobs, losing their health insurance – the lines of distinction between the people we’ve come to lay to rest today and all the rest of us are getting fuzzier,” said Gary Johnson, representing the King County medical examiner’s office, which arranges the burials of unclaimed remains.
“These members of our community were more like us than not,” Johnson said. “They deserve to be remembered.”
Similar group burial ceremonies were held nearby in 2005 and 2007.
Of the dead, 150 were men, 55 were women, two were unidentified people whose ashes were found in abandoned urns and two were baby boys.
Jack Atwood, a former Oregon logger who died on May 11, 2006, was remembered well by Mary Larson, a nurse at the Pioneer Square Clinic, although she hadn’t seen him in years.
Larson said Atwood, wearing bright red suspenders, occasionally would stop at the clinic to say hello. On one visit he brought a chain saw, which he said was part of a collection he had assembled despite being homeless for a time.
“He was so proud,” she said. “There he was with the biggest chain saw I’ve ever seen, just grinning.”
Anitra Freeman, a formerly homeless poet, said she was friends with some of the deceased. She said Paula Anne Gunn, who found housing just before dying in July 2006, shared a street corner with Julio Delgado, who died in November 2006.
“Every human being is important and we need to remember that to solve homelessness,” said Freeman, a member of Women in Black, which conducts vigils for women who die on the street or from violence.
She now has Gunn’s unfinished crocheting and photographs, one showing her being hugged by a young woman with dark hair – her daughter, perhaps.
“Paula was a very strong woman,” Freeman said. “She could be a stubborn woman. She didn’t give to just anybody, but to most people she was very generous.”
Laura Schoenfeld was a quiet, gray-haired woman, who lived on the streets and died on May 16, 2007, said Brigid Hagan, who also attended the burial.
“She was sweet and gentle and kind, even when things were chaotic,” Hagan said.
The county’s Indigent Remains Program, operating on a $150,000 budget, kicks in after the medical examiner’s staff cannot find anyone to claim a body after checks with hospitals, emergency shelters, landlords, social service providers, even return addresses on mail delivered after a person dies.
Some whose remains go unclaimed indicated on forms or applications that they had no relatives, and others “lived alone and pretty much did everything alone and kept to themselves,” said Joe Frisino, a death investigator.
The remains of each are kept separate in case a relative comes forward to claim the ashes after they have been buried. Frisino recalled helping a woman get the ashes of her brother years after he died.
“I think it’s something that is appreciated,” Frisino said.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
In 2005 and 2006, King County was accused of selling the remains of those that died to offset the cost of the Medical Examiners and the Morgue.
The Homeless Management System isn’t perfect; in fact, nowhere near. It’s a tool of hate, denial and meanness. It has totally redundant features.
During the next four years while Greg Nickels continues warm his well cushioned behind, we will endeavor to continue to make him squirm as his cronies are exposed as a hate tool to run off the homeless from the downtown area. With his meanness exposed and using counter campaigns, we can only hope that the Mayor will resign with dignity-rather than an impeachment-in either case it is the goal of all goals to eliminate a tyrannical sociopath.
Taconite. Area 34. Location 12.
If there truly exist an evil in the world… It’s only lies within the heart of mankind.
Contact the Director on arrival.
March 25 (Bloomberg) — California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said a make-shift tent city for the homeless that sprang up in the capital city of Sacramento will be shut down and its residents allowed to stay at the state fairgrounds.
Schwarzenegger said he ordered the state facility known as Cal-Expo to be used for three months to serve the 125 tent city residents, some of them displaced by the economic recession. The encampment may be shut down within a month, said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. The move comes after the Sacramento City Council last night agreed to spend $880,000 to expand homeless programs.
“Together with the local government and volunteers, we are taking a first step to ensure the people living in tent city have a safe place to stay, with fresh water, healthy conditions and access to the services they need,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement. “And I am committed to working with Mayor Johnson to find a permanent solution for those living in tent city.”
California, home to one of every eight Americans, has been particularly hard hit by the housing market collapse after many residents turned to exotic mortgages to afford homes. The tent city, which has long existed along the banks of the America River, gained national attention last month when some of its recently homeless residents were featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
The state has one of the highest rates of foreclosure, according to RealtyTrac Inc., an Irvine, California-based seller of real estate data. California home prices dropped 41 percent last month from a year earlier, more than double the U.S. decline, as surging foreclosures drove down values, the state Association of Realtors said today.
The state’s unemployment rate rose to 10.5 percent in February, as construction, financial and manufacturing companies eliminated jobs, leaving the most-populous U.S. state with one of the nation’s worst job markets.
The shelter at Cal-Exp currently houses about 150 people. It will be expanded by another 50 beds, and will include facilities for families with children.
For Related News and Information:
To contact the reporter on this story: Michael B. Marois in Sacramento at email@example.com
Last Updated: March 25, 2009 16:22 EDT
Posted by Aimee (Core Staff)
The Acting Director of the Homeless Underground (Doc) and his fiancé (Lisa) will tie the knot after a four year delay. The wedding will be conducted in a quiet neighborhood in Queen Anne a small community about a mile north of downtown Seattle. The date will be April 5. The couple has been together nearly twelve years. The location remains a secret to prevent the VFBA from military style ‘shivalree’. The honeymoon remains a secret as well to prevent the black glove team of Delta’s from disrupting the honeymoon as well.
The yellow paper circulated earlier this month states:
“We’d like to nform to our all valuable customers, affective April 1, 2009, Tobacco product price are rising due to a Federal Excise Tax to fund “SCHIP” State’s Children Health insurance program.
The new price increase expected as followed: (This is the only estimated quoted price-actual price may be higher because of the state %)
1lb bag of tobacco 43.99-47.99
6oz bag 17.28-20.28
Cigarette Carton 44.67-80.00
Holy GREED Batman! VFBA has an answer. Yet the beaurocratic boneheads failed to tax “SMOKERS PATCHES” Off to the Reservations we go !
Who We Are
ReformFDA.org is a program of the American Association for Health Freedom. Although AAHF is the sponsor of this site and petition drive, we work in concert with numerous other organizations to create a new and better FDA, and beyond that, a healthcare system which is both effective and sustainable.
Founded in 1992, AAHF opposes medical monopolies and one-size-fits-all medicine. We support the right of the consumer to choose his or her own doctor and also to incorporate diet and supplements as well as drugs into a personal healthcare plan, an approach which is also known as “integrative medicine.” In order to preserve integrative healthcare and medicine, it is also necessary to protect integrative doctors from unreasonable attacks from competing medical groups and their licensing boards, but also to maintain strong consumer protections against fraud or deception.
AAHF pursues its mission by educating the public, press, and decision-makers; forming and participating in citizen coalitions; acting as a government watchdog and filing comments on proposed rules and rulings; monitoring, crafting, and where necessary lobbying for legislation at the federal and state level; and initiating legal responses (lawsuits, amicus briefs, legal petitions).
Our members include consumers, doctors, and other healthcare practitioners. For more information about AAHF, its board and its staff, please visit - www.healthfreedom.net
We believe that the FDA is a broken agency that needs a complete reform and restructuring. As presently run, it:
Obstructs medical science and innovation;
Forbids and censors the communication of legitimate, peer reviewed scientific research;
Protects entrenched medical monopolies which pay its bills and hire its employees;
Interferes with the rights of consumers to learn about good science (especially relating to food and supplements) that could prolong and save lives and promote health;
And unnecessarily drives up the cost of healthcare to the point where employers can no longer afford to hire and the entire American economy is threatened.
What is needed under these circumstances is not incremental reform, but complete reform, a thorough overhaul of every part of the FDA. The purpose of reformfda.org is to persuade the American public and Congress that a total reform of the FDA is absolutely necessary in order to rebuild the American healthcare system and make it once again the envy of the world.
Find Additional Articles and Information
Life Extension Foundation – www.LEF.org/lac
FDA Review – www.FDAReview.org
Stop FDA – www.StopFDA.org
Petition to Reform the FDA
Sign the Petition to Reform the FDA Online
Printable version of the Reform FDA Petition
One dump truck will be loaded with Washington State tobacco products. Why? Reinactment of the Boston Tea Party.
According to US History:
The Boston Tea Party was a direct action protest by colonists in Boston, a town in the British colony of Massachusetts, against the British government. On December 16, 1773, after officials in Boston refused to return three shiploads of taxed tea to Britain, a group of colonists boarded the ships and destroyed the tea by throwing it into Boston Harbor. The incident remains an iconic event of American history, and has often been referenced in other political protests.
The Tea Party was the culmination of a resistance movement throughout British America against the Tea Act, which had been passed by the British Parliament in 1773. Colonists objected to the Tea Act for a variety of reasons, especially because they believed that it violated their constitutional right to be taxed only by their own elected representatives. Protestors had successfully prevented the unloading of taxed tea in three other colonies, but in Boston, embattled Royal Governor Thomas Hutchinson refused to allow the tea to be returned to Britain. He apparently did not expect that the protestors would choose to destroy the tea rather than concede the authority of a legislature in which they were not directly represented.
The Boston Tea Party was a key event in the growth of the American Revolution. Parliament responded in 1774 with the Coercive Acts, which, among other provisions, closed Boston’s commerce until the British East India Company had been repaid for the destroyed tea. Colonists in turn responded to the Coercive Acts with additional acts of protest, and by convening the First Continental Congress, which petitioned for repeal of the acts and coordinated colonial resistance to them. The crisis escalated, and the American Revolutionary War began near Boston in 1775.
Victory in the French and Indian War was costly for the British. At the war’s conclusion in 1763, King George III and his government looked to taxing the American colonies as a way of recouping their war costs. They were also looking for ways to reestablish control over the colonial governments that had become increasingly independent while the Crown was distracted by the war. Royal ineptitude compounded the problem. A series of actions including the Stamp Act (1765), the Townsend Acts (1767) and the Boston Massacre (1770) agitated the colonists, straining relations with the mother country. But it was the Crown’s attempt to tax tea that spurred the colonists to action and laid the groundwork for the American Revolution.
The colonies refused to pay the levies required by the Townsend Acts claiming they had no obligation to pay taxes imposed by a Parliament in which they had no representation. In response, Parliament retracted the taxes with the exception of a duty on tea – a demonstration of Parliament’s ability and right to tax the colonies. In May of 1773 Parliament concocted a clever plan. They gave the struggling East India Company a monopoly on the importation of tea to America. Additionally, Parliament reduced the duty the colonies would have to pay for the imported tea. The Americans would now get their tea at a cheaper price than ever before. However, if the colonies paid the duty tax on the imported tea they would be acknowledging Parliament’s right to tax them. Tea was a staple of colonial life – it was assumed that the colonists would rather pay the tax than deny themselves the pleasure of a cup of tea.
The colonists were not fooled by Parliament’s ploy. When the East India Company sent shipments of tea to Philadelphia and New York the ships were not allowed to land. In Charleston the tea-laden ships were permitted to dock but their cargo was consigned to a warehouse where it remained for three years until it was sold by patriots in order to help finance the revolution.
In Boston, the arrival of three tea ships ignited a furious reaction. The crisis came to a head on December 16, 1773 when as many as 7,000 agitated locals milled about the wharf where the ships were docked. A mass meeting at the Old South Meeting House that morning resolved that the tea ships should leave the harbor without payment of any duty. A committee was selected to take this message to the Customs House to force release of the ships out of the harbor. The Collector of Customs refused to allow the ships to leave without payment of the duty. Stalemate. The committee reported back to the mass meeting and a howl erupted from the meeting hall. It was now early evening and a group of about 200 men disguised as Indians assembled on a near-by hill. Whopping war chants, the crowd marched two-by-two to the wharf, descended upon the three ships and dumped their offending cargos of tea into the harbor waters.
Most colonists applauded the action while the reaction in London was swift and vehement. In March 1774 Parliament passed the Intolerable Acts which among other measures closed the Port of Boston. The fuse that led directly to the explosion of American independence was lit.
Take your tea and shove it. In this case Washington State Veterans are saying-take your tobacco and shove it. 1,000 Cartons will burn relentlessly in the double your price, then screw you-your on your own event. Vets now have 7 tons of tobacco brought in from the south. “Enough is enough! said one veteran. “Syntax the Sin tax!”
This is just a bit enouraging! maybe we know more than we think!
Computer Tech Support
This ought to make you feel better about your computer skills!
Tech support: What kind of computer do you have?
Female customer: A white one…
Customer: Hi, this is Celine . I can’t get my diskette out.
Tech support: Have you tried pushing the Button?
Customer: Yes, sure, it’s really stuck.
Tech support: That doesn’t sound good; I’ll make a note.
Customer: No , wait a minute.. I hadn’t inserted it yet… it’s still on my desk… sorry….
Tech support: Click on the ‘my computer’ icon on to the left of the screen.
Customer: Your left or my left?
Tech support: Good day. How may I help you?
Male customer: Hello… I can’t print.
Tech support: Would you click on “start” for me and…
Customer: Listen pal; don’t start getting technical on me! I’m not Bill Gates.
Customer: Hi, good afternoon, this is Martha, I can’t print. Every time I try, it says ‘Can’t find printer’. I’ve even lifted the printer and placed it in front of the monitor, but the computer still says he can’t find it…
Customer: I have problems printing in red..
Tech support: Do you have a color printer?
Customer: Aaaah………………..thank you.
Tech support: What’s on your monitor now, ma’am?
Customer: A teddy bear my boyfriend bought for me at the 7-11.
Customer: My keyboard is not working anymore.
Tech support: Are you sure it’s plugged into the computer?
Customer: No. I can’t get behind the computer.
Tech support: Pick up your keyboard and walk 10 paces back.
Tech support: Did the keyboard come with you?
Tech support: That means the keyboard is not plugged in. Is there another keyboard?
Customer: Yes, there’s another one here. Ah..that one does work…
Tech support: Your password is the small letter “a” as in apple, a capital letter V as in Victor, the number 7.
Customer: Is that 7 in capital letters ?
Customer: can’t get on the Internet.
Tech support: Are you sure you used the right password?
Customer: Yes, I’m sure. I saw my colleague do it.
Tech support: Can you tell me what the password was?
Customer: Five stars.
Tech support: What anti-virus program do you use?
Tech support: That’s not an anti-virus program.
Customer: Oh, sorry…Internet Explorer.
Customer: I have a huge problem. A friend has placed a screen saver on my computer, but every time I move the mouse, it disappears.
Tech support: How may I help you?
Customer: I’m writing my first e-mail.
Tech support: OK, and what seems to be the problem?
Customer: Well, I have the letter ‘a’ in the address, but how do I get the circle around it?
A woman customer called the Canon help desk with a problem with her printer.
Tech support: Are you running it under windows?
Customer: “No, my desk is next to the door, but that is a good point. The man sitting in the cubicle next to me is under a window, and his printer is working fine.”
And last but not least…
Tech support: “Okay Bob, let’s press the control and escape keys at the same time. That brings up a task list in the middle of the screen. Now type the letter “P” to bring up the Program Manager.”
Customer: I don’t have a P.
Tech support: On your keyboard, Bob.
Customer: What do you mean?
Tech support: “P”…..on your keyboard, Bob.
Customer: I’M NOT GOING TO DO THAT
* TWUSEA Paul Bearer’s arrive in Seattle. Thirty of the fifty-five are now in Seattle for the 8 mile funeral procession through the downtown area. Coffin to be hand carried through Seattle.
* Condolences to family pour in from around the world for J.J. International Director to arrive next week.
* Reorganization is seen for TWUSEA, VFBA and the Homeless Underground. Meaner campaign expected.
* Family expected to arrive in Seattle next week.
* New directions and roles forseen for the three agencies.
By Suzanne Hurt Posted 2009/03/19 at 10:02 pm EDT
SACRAMENTO, California, Mar. 19, 2009 (Reuters) — The mayor of California’s state capital unveiled plans on Thursday to shut down a sprawling “tent city” of the homeless that has drawn worldwide media attention as a symbol of U.S. economic decline.
Kevin Simmons climbs out of his tent at a tent city in Sacramento, California March 15, 2009. REUTERS/Max Whittaker
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson promised to first make alternative shelter space available for the estimated 150 men and women who inhabit the squalid encampment near the American River, at the edge of the city’s downtown.
Johnson, who toured the area with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger a day earlier, said he hoped to have the ramshackle settlement cleared of tents and debris in the next two to three weeks.
“We want to move as quickly as we can,” he told a news conference, insisting the city was determined to treat the tent dwellers with compassion.
“They are people out there. We have to do whatever we can do,” he said. “We as a city are not going to shy away from it. We’re going to tackle it head-on.”
Advocates for the homeless applauded the mayor’s action. Municipal authorities in Sacramento have been debating the fate of the tent city for weeks.
Sacramento has one of the highest mortgage foreclosure rates in the United States, and the homeless total in the city and surrounding county is estimated to have jumped nearly 10 percent last year to nearly 2,700. About half are believed to be living outdoors, according to a local survey.
The tent city site, near an almond-processing plant beside a railroad freight line, made global headlines after it was featured last month on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
Local shelter organizers helped fuel media excitement by suggesting the tent city mushroomed with the arrival of newly homeless men and women, formerly from the middle class and forced by sudden economic hardship to take up residence in tents along the river. One activist for the homeless estimated that 10 percent of the tent inhabitants fit that profile.
A closer examination of the site, including interviews with camp residents and police officers who patrol the area, turned up little if any evidence that true “recession refugees” were living among the chronically homeless there.
Tent city residents and police say the camp had existed for at least a year and had expanded after several smaller clusters of homeless settlements were shut down.
Johnson said his plan included enlarging existing shelters, opening a short-term tented shelter area at a fairground, and creating “permanent housing opportunities” for an additional 40 homeless individuals.
He said city officials would meet individually with each of the tent dwellers to discuss options, and a special task force would finish devising a long-term strategy for all the city’s known homeless.
The plan, which will be financed from various public funds, will be submitted to the City Council for approval next week.
(Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Peter Cooney)
By Doc (HU Director)
Perhaps this might be the first U.S. Mayor to end homelessness for a few, but the other homeless in the Sacramento area will continue to suffer greatly in a state that is nearly bankrupt and riddled with greed. It is just another dead end shelter with no real housing planned. Promises…promises…
U.S. history depicts a defiance aganst England in the early stages in the development of America. Yes, that’s right, the Boston Tea Party. Well it may just happen right here in Washington, State.
Recently the Washington State Legislature passed a bill that pushes the tobacco products beyond affordabilty for the low income and homeless. This is the second attack on smokers in Washington State.
The first attack came when smoking was pushed out into the street-literally. You cannot smoke within in any public building; 25 feet of “any entrance, exit or ventilation intake”. The City of Seattle pushed it off city property at the Seattle Public Library. More ludicrousy followed when Metro pushed smokers to the extreme limits of bus ridership. The Metro Bus Drivers Manual states that the driver of a Metro bus may not recognize any passenger 15 feet of any Metro bus stop. King County Law Enforcement has written more tickets under the compliance of state law, but Metro refuses change the policy.
The latest attack pushes cigarettes, tobacco and other products well beyond affordable limits-double the current price. $8-10 dollars a pack; 6 oz.bag of rolling tobacco from $10 to $20; from $20 to $40 for a 1 lb bag.
The purpose for this is to pay for child care, yet, they take children from homeless mothers-then deny them rights to see their own child.
B.O.H.I.C.A. (Bend Over Here It Comes Again)
Well, today, Washington State can bend over. Veterans taking action of their own, began transporting non stamped tobacco products for nine southern states. More than 2,000 pounds have arrived and there is more on the way. The will be sold at cost-much cheaper than the current products sold in stores in the State.
Courtesy of the VFBA. Those Veterans the public will not look into the eye or recognize and the public will not pay the bill for.
A heads up meeting between HU staff and TWUSEA Staff will take place in Burien at the HU Command Center. Topics of discussion:
- SacHo and the Union Pacific updates and progress
- Fresno updates
- San Diego Updates
- New directions for HU
- Funeral Procession-When and Where
- Address to the BOD by the staff
- Online with the National Staff
- Online with the Membership
Meeting begins @ 6:00 PM
Tomorrow 1:00 PM
- Meeting with the Director’s Family at Crystal Mountain Complex
- Meeting with the VFBA (CMC)
Bagpipes played Amazing Grace at seven thirty this morning in Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas Seattle and New York for the Director of the Homeless Underground who died in Mexico City after complications associated wth Gulf War Syndrome.
James Jonathan Crawford, 65, is survived by his wife and three sons.
Crawford led a legacy stemming from twenty-five years in the U.S. Army, is one of the co-founders Homeless Underground and co-founder of the Veterans For a Better America.
Acting Director, Jeff Harwood has been appointed as his transitional replacement.
By CHRIS MOBLEY and LEELA YELLESETTY
Criminalizing Poverty: The Jail Seattle Doesn’t Need
WHENEVER THEY talk about who is going to be in this jail, they talk about perpetrators of domestic violence and drunk drivers, for which the law mandates incarceration. Those are a couple of fairly unsympathetic groups of people, but this is a classic city of Seattle straw-man argument. They set up this extreme version of what reality is, which is more or less wholly fabricated. There is this third rail inherent in the issue, of race and class, that the city has studiously avoided. The largest category of crime represented in the daily jail population are drug crimes, and the war on drugs disproportionately targets the African American community and people who are economically marginalized, and turn to street activity as a survival tactic. Seattle disproportionately incarcerates African Americans at a rate of 10 times their representation in the population at large. You have a population that has been left behind by globalization, left behind by the civil rights movement, and left behind by the education system increasingly targeted for incarceration. There is also a criminalization of the homeless that the shelter system doesn’t have capacity for. We’ve consistently documented about one-third more homeless people in Seattle than there is capacity for in the emergency shelter system. There literally is no place for these people to go. Yet we have to blame the victim. Those people will also be in this new facility.
WORLD PROUT ASSEMBLY
Saddly, Seattle will not see a new Mayor for a least four more years. Sociopaths often times don’t back down unless it affects them personally. Read the following story then ask yourself is Greg Nickels on the take or is he just following the rule of his buddy Paul Allen. Nickels, for the moment, is unopposed.
Tent cities bridge growing gap
University Congregational United Church of Christ just completed 90 days of hosting in our parking lot the self-governing tent camp that calls itself “Nickelsville.” Veterans of Peace Chapter 92 is the sponsor of the encampment.
Each night, which included one of the coldest winters in decades, almost 100 people had a place to call “home.” Single women and men, couples and even a family had somewhere safe to sleep, store their belongings, find food, clothing, blankets and have access to hot showers. They had a supportive community to network with regarding jobs, transportation and services. They were able to come and go 24 hours a day without fear of losing their place to sleep at night so that they could work, go to school, make medical appointments and be about their lives as normally as possible under their particular circumstances.
We were glad to be able to host this encampment, exercising the federal and state constitutional rights given to all faith communities to practice their faith by providing indoor and outdoor shelter to homeless people.
Self-governing tent cities are fiscally the least expensive way to temporarily bridge the growing gap between those living on the streets and indoor agency-sponsored overnight shelters. Tent cities are not the permanent solution to our housing crisis but they are one temporary way to address a problem that requires shrinking government funds.
Some municipalities have found ways to support partnerships with sponsors such as SHARE/WHEEL or Veterans for Peace Chapter 92 and local churches. Our experience with the city of Seattle was this: $3,550 in permit application fees, an eight-week wait for an initial four-week permit with no renewal or extension option, and an estimate of three months for action on a longer permit. Threats of fines of up to $500/day were a significant concern for University Christian Church, the encampment host before us.
The fees, application times, inflexible permits and threats of fines all form a significant burden, along with permit conditions that seem unnecessary for assuring public health and safety. Altogether these make hosting prohibitive for many churches.
There is much misinformation and prejudice about homeless people bringing crime and danger to neighborhoods. There has been enough experience in King County with tent cities to know that the opposite is true. Tent city folk are good neighbors because it is their home, which they also want to be safe, clean and violence free. Their rules of conduct are far stricter than those of neighbors living in houses or apartments.
As a congregation we gained much from hosting the encampment. We see the reality of the lives of people who are homeless in ways that are significant, challenging, poignant and inspirational. We will continue to find ways to support the King County 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness and to be a voice of compassion and action, as we know that this is a challenge much greater than any single congregation or city can address.
We call upon faith communities and people of good will to let the mayor, City Council and leaders of other municipalities know that we could be working together to help solve the problem.
With shrinking budgetary resources, leaders can be encouraging creative solutions like partnerships with churches for tent cities, finding public lands for temporary encampments that would not have to move every 90 days, and finding safe places with restrooms for those living in cars to park safely. We can do it with mutual cooperation.
David McCracken is hosting ministry chairman for University Congregational United Church of Christ.
Sacramento tent city is just one of dozens in an ailing America
Analysis: Mike Harvey
Across America, from Washington State to Nevada, Georgia and even Florida, homeless advocacy groups and city agencies are reporting the biggest rise in homeless encampments in a generation, as the US economy takes a spectacular plunge.
Last week Michelle Obama served mushroom risotto to homeless diners at a shelter in Washington. “We are facing tough times in this country,” the First Lady said. “There is a moment in time when each and every one of us needs a helping hand.”
The economic figures behind her call for community action have been relentless. The recession, which began as a crisis of homeowners unable to pay their mortgages but has spread to every part of the economy, took away 650,000 Americans’ jobs for a record third straight month in February as unemployment climbed to a 25-year peak of 8.1 per cent. Around 12.5 million people are looking for work – more than the population of the state of Pennsylvania. No one is immune: the jobless rate for college graduates has hit its highest point.
The result is a proliferation of tent cities, such as the one in Sacramento. While it is the best-known shantytown in America – thanks mostly to an Oprah Winfrey special on the “new faces of the homeless” last month – it is only one of dozens. California, with its milder weather, has always attracted its fair share of people living on the streets. But the Golden State is being hit hard by the recession. In February it had the highest number of repossession filings – 80,775 – of anywhere in the US, up 51 per cent in a year according to the website RealtyTrac. Auction sale notices almost tripled to 18,831.
Top of Form
Bottom of Form
The relatively smart city of Santa Barbara has given over a car park to people who sleep in cars and vans, and authorities in Fresno are trying to manage several proliferating tent cities, including an encampment where people have made shelters out of scrap wood.
For the city authorities, strapped for cash and making deep cuts to staff and budgets themselves, the homelessness problem is not a priority. But as more people pitch their tents the pressure to do something other than just turn a blind eye is mounting.
President Obama’s recovery and reinvestment plan is now beginning to be set in motion. His plan to stop repossessions by aggressive restructuring of existing mortgages would allow up to nine million people to avoid losing their homes. Most of the stimulus effect, however, will not be felt for months.
Union Pacific Railroad Fences in Homeless Encampment
By Mike Rhodes
The Union Pacific Railroad is putting up a fence, topped with barbed wire, at the H street homeless encampment in downtown Fresno. The section of fence now being built along H street will completely enclose the encampment, which is on Union Pacific property. The railroad wants the homeless to move and has posted no trespassing signs.
Several hundred homeless people live at the H street encampment. The encampment was started several years ago and has the tacit approval of City Hall. The City of Fresno has even placed portable toilets & trash bins at the encampment. Earlier today, city sanitation workers were on the site and cleaned up rubbish that had accumulated on the outskirts of the encampment.
Gregory Barfield, the City’s Homeless Prevention and Policy Manager, has been in contact with Union Pacific and he told me that he had an agreement with them not to evict the homeless. Barfield said the railroad agreed to wait until the City of Fresno’s voucher program was up and running before forcing anyone off the property. The voucher program, which has not yet been approved by the City Council, would provide homeless people with an apartment and social services. It is an essential part of the Housing First program that both the City and County of Fresno have agreed to implement.
The voucher program, according to Barfield, was going to be brought before the City Council in February, but was delayed. Barfield said he needed time to evaluate and assess the needs of the homeless at the H street encampment before taking the proposal to City Council. In a press release from the City of Fresno today, the voucher program is now expected to be presented in April. The press release from the city is below.
The press release said “The City of Fresno today again called on the Union Pacific Railroad
Company (UPRR) to delay construction of a fence surrounding two large homeless encampments on H Street in downtown Fresno. The City voiced concerns about potential safety risks to those living in the encampments as a result of the fencing.”
Barfield said, late this afternoon, that the railroad is not going to immediately evict the homeless and that he believes the City of Fresno has some time to work out what will happen next. While at the encampment today I talked to Guillermo, who is a resident of the H street encampment. Guillermo, who is from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, said he is out of work right now, because there are no jobs at local ranches. Guillermo wanted to know what was going on and if he was going to be evicted. He said nobody had told him or any of his friends what was going on and he was concerned that they were being fenced in. Mike Mitchum, another resident of the H street encampment, said he felt like Union Pacific was treating them like animals in a zoo, by fencing them in.
It is unclear, at the time of this writing, if the City of Fresno has the authority to stop Union Pacific from conducting the evictions. The railroad has their own police and often behave independently from local authorities. The railroads have previously conducted raids on the homeless, destroying their tents, arresting those who resist, and threatening the homeless with detention and arrest. Is it just me, or is anyone else concerned that a corporation has the ability to arrest people and that our local government can’t do anything to stop them?
The bigger concern however, might be – When will the City of Fresno implement the first phase of its Housing First project, which is supposed to be giving housing vouchers to 200 homeless people, probably at the H street encampment? Union Pacific is cranking up the pressure on the city to force them to act on their pledge to improve the lives of the homeless. Will it be enough to kick start the Housing First program in Fresno? Stay tunned.
For a list of articles and documents about the struggle for civil liberties for homeless people in Fresno, see: http://www.fresnoalliance.com/home/homelessness.htm
Story Here: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/03/11/18576324.php
Consumers need to start getting angry about having their basic civil right to a trial in court being usurped by big businesses and the people that draft consumer contracts.
Contact your local Senators and Congressmen and tell them to support the Arbitration Fairness Act which is currently working its way through Congress.