Tag: Hunger

Who Thinks Like This????

On Thursday the Trump administration dumped their budget on the table and then sent out Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to tell poor Americans why they are going to be hungrier and colder in Trump’s new America. It was jaw dropping to listen to some of the things Mick actually said in public, on the record …

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America’s War on the Homeless

There appears to be a war on the homeless and needy in certain states and not just the red ones:

To Clear Waikiki For Tourists, Hawaii Gives 120 Homeless People A One-Way Ticket Out Of State

by Bryce Covert, November 10, 2014

Hawaii’s Institute for Human Services (IHS) is beginning a $1.3 million campaign to clear the homeless out of Waikiki, a big spot for tourists, after businesses have complained that the homeless are hurting tourism.

The majority of the money will be used for intensive outreach services to connect the homeless with shelter, employment, and medical services. IHS’s goal is to move 140 people into shelters or housing in the first year.

But it also plans to fly back to the mainland United States another 120 people, who will be identified through a vetting process it says is aimed at making sure they have a plan in place when they get there. “We found out that many [Waikiki homeless] are transient who made a choice to become homeless, as well as people who became homeless shortly after arriving in Hawaii,” said Kimo Carvalho, development and community relations manager for IHS.

Last year, state lawmakers $100,000 in funding to give Hawaii’s homeless population one-way flights out of the state back to the mainland. But Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) refused to release the funding amid concerns that people would fly to the state and expect a free ticket home.

Fort Lauderdale Votes To Make It Harder To Feed The Homeless, Joining Two Dozen Other Cities

by Alan Pyke, October 22, 2014

A few hours before dawn on Wednesday morning, city counselors in Fort Lauderdale, FL passed a bill to make it harder to feed the homeless. Amid raucous protests from activists, the council voted 4-1 in favor of a long-pending slate of new regulations on where and how groups can provide food to homeless people.

The vote makes the south Florida city the 13th in the country to pass restrictions on where people can feed the homeless in the past two years, and the 22nd town to make it harder to feed homeless people through either legislation or community pressure since the beginning of 2013, according to a report released Monday by the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH).

Counting towns that are still in the process of advancing some sort of crackdown, NCH says, 31 American cities “have attempted to pass new laws that restrict organizations and individuals from sharing food with people experiencing homelessness” in 2013 and 2014.

Florida City Will Throw Homeless People In Jail For Asking For Money

by Scott Keyes, November 10, 2014

Lake Worth, FL, a city of approximately 35,000 people just south of West Palm Beach, voted last week to impose a crackdown on homeless people who ask passersby for spare change.

Ordinance No. 2014-34 was approved by a unanimous vote on November 4th. The new law bans panhandling on city-owned property, such as near bus stops, ATMs, and other downtown areas, as well as on private property without express permission. According to the Palm Beach Post, “That covers most of downtown,” effectively banning all panhandling in the area where homeless people would be able to raise the most money.

The measure also bans “aggressive panhandling,” a nebulous term that theoretically prohibits panhandling in a threatening manner, though in reality is so subjective it gives authorities free rein to crack down on any homeless person asking for money.

If a homeless person is convicted under the new law, he or she could face as much as 60 days in jail or a $500 fine.

California City Bans Homeless From Sleeping Outside: If They Leave, ‘Then That’s Their Choice’

by Bryce Covert, November 10, 2014

Last week, the city council of Manteca, CA unanimously passed two ordinances aimed at clearing out the homeless population.

One will ban people from sleeping or setting up encampments on any public or private property as of December 4, although the homeless won’t be jailed or fined. It will, however, allow the police to tear down any homeless sleeping areas as soon as they appear without having to be invited by the property owner, as was the case previously.

Explaining why the ordinance is necessary, Police Chief Nick Obligacion said, “The goal is actually to correct the wrong. So, if the correction is them leaving Manteca, then that’s their choice.” He also opposes any sort of shelter for the homeless.

The other ordinance bans public urination and defecation, but also comes after the city temporarily closed public restrooms in a park, a location often used by the homeless to relieve themselves in private.

90-Year-Old Man Arrested In Florida For Feeding The Homeless

by Scott Keyes, November 6, 2014

There are a lot of strange local ordinances in this country. But perhaps none are stranger than the one that resulted in the arrest of a nonagenarian for giving food to hungry people.

Last month, Ft. Lauderdale city officials passed a new measure to crack down on people feeding the homeless. On Sunday, two days after the new law went into effect, Arnold Abbott, 90, a longtime advocate for the homeless and regular volunteer at a local soup kitchen, was arrested for the crime of giving food to the needy. He now faces up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Two local pastors were also arrested and face the same potential sentences.

Bill Moyers: The Face of Hunger in America

The Faces of America’s Hungry



The full transcript can be read here

The story of American families facing food insecurity is as frustrating as it is heartbreaking, because the truth is as avoidable as it is tragic. Here in the richest country on earth, 50 million of us – one in six Americans – go hungry. More than a third of them are children. And yet Congress can’t pass a Farm Bill because our representatives continue to fight over how many billions to slash from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps. The debate is filled with tired clich├ęs about freeloaders undeserving of government help, living large at the expense of honest, hardworking taxpayers. But a new documentary, A Place at the Table, paints a truer picture of America’s poor.

“The cost of food insecurity, obesity and malnutrition is way larger than it is to feed kids nutritious food,” Kristi Jacobson, one of the film’s directors and producers, tells Bill. She and Mariana Chilton, director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities, explain to Bill how hunger hits hard at people from every walk of life. [..]

Later, Greg Kaufmann – poverty correspondent for The Nation – talks about how the poor have been stereotyped and demonized in an effort to justify huge cuts in food stamps and other crucial programs for low-income Americans.

One in Six Americans Are Hungry

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

As more and more Americans fall into or near poverty income level, congress is debating a new Farm Bill which will impact on the ability of people to feed themselves and their families:

While the legislation will set farm policy and impact food prices for the next five years, many forget that roughly 80 percent of the funding in the bill goes to providing food for the country’s less fortunate. At the end of 2012, according to the USDA, there were nearly 48 million people on food stamps.

In the Senate Agriculture Committee Tuesday, lawmakers passed its version of the bill, while the House Agriculture Committee will begin marking up its bill Wednesday. The versions of the key legislation remain vastly different in how they handle the country’s food assistance program, and will need to be reconciled before current regulations expire in September.

The Senate’s legislation would make about $4 billion in reductions to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, during the next decade. The House version would cut five times as much – $20 billion through the same time period.

According to a new report from the International Human Rights Clinic at NYU’s School of Law, one in six Americans are facing food insecurity (pdf):

The united states is facing a food security crisis:

One in six Americans lives in a household that cannot afford adequate food. Of these 50 million individuals, nearly 17 million are children. Food insecurity has skyrocketed since the economic downturn, with an additional 14 million people classified as food insecure in 2011 than in 2007. For these individuals, being food insecure means living with trade-offs that no one should have to face,  like choosing between buying food and receiving medical care or paying the bills. Many food insecure people also face tough choices about the quality of food they eat, since low-quality processed foods are often more affordable and accessible than fresh and nutritious foods. Food insecurity takes a serious toll on individuals, families, and communities and has significant consequences for health and educational outcomes, especially for children. Food insecurity is also enormously expensive for society. According to one estimate, the cost of hunger and food insecurity in the United States amounted to $167.5 billion in 2010.

Additionally, the report shows that the existing program a fail. as Aviv Shen notes in her article at Think Progress:

(T)he four biggest food assistance programs fall short for as many as 50 million food insecure households. Eligibility requirements are already so strict that one in four households classified as food insecure were still considered too high-income to receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Even families considered poor enough for food aid only get a pittance that runs out quickly; for instance, the maximum benefit for a family of four is $668 a month, or a little under $2 per meal for each family member.

To demonstrate the impossibility of surviving on food stamps, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) recently spent a week eating on $4.80 a day, mainly consuming ramen noodles, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and a banana. “I’m hungry for five days…I lost six pounds in four days,” Murphy said upon concluding the experiment. He also realized that nutritious food and produce was far, far out of reach for people living on SNAP benefits. Indeed, obesity and related diseases are common among SNAP recipients who simply can’t afford nutritious food.

Co-author and faculty director of the International Human Rights Clinic at NYU’s School of Law, Smita Narula was a guest on Democracy Now with hosts Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez.

Transcript can be read here

China, France, USA, Your Food, GMO’s and Wikileaks

Dr. Olivier De Shutter, United Nations Envoy, warns that China’s ability to feed its population is waning:


http://www.guardian.co.uk/envi…

He told the Guardian his main concern was the decline of soil quality in China because of excessive use of fertilisers, pollution and drought. He noted that 37% of the nation’s territory was degraded and 8.2m hectares (20.7m acres) of arable land has been lost since 1997 to cities, industrial parks, natural disasters and forestry programmes.

With climate change expected to increase price volatility and cut agricultural productivity by 5% to 10% by 2030, De Schutter said it was essential for China to wean itself off fossil-fuel intensive farming and adopt more sustainable agricultural techniques, including organic production, and to make even better use of its two great strengths: a huge strategic grain reserve and a large rural population.

He also cautioned against a shift towards industrial-scale farming, which increases economic competitiveness at the cost of natural productivity. “Small-scale farming is more efficient in its use of natural resources. I believe China can show that it is successful in feeding a very large population. ” However, he acknowledged that this may prove difficult in the future as more of China’s 200million farmers move to the cities.

Unfortunately the article in the Guardian UK did not mention the fact that China’s mega- hydro power projects like the Three Gorges Dam are also contributing to massive amounts of loss of the best farmland in the now flooded valleys above the dam site –  62,000 acres – which also forced the resettlement of over a million rural people. http://www.arch.mcgill.ca/prof…

People who buck the Chinese government and organize protesters over deadly food don’t do so well in authoritarian regimes.  Zhao Lianhai, who complained about melamine contaminated milk formulas, that made 300,000 sick and killed at least 6 babies, was thrown in jail in 2009, convicted and sentenced to two and a half years in prison in November for “inciting social disorder.”  see HuffPo  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/… Zhao’s son was one of the toddlers who became ill with kidney stones after drinking the bad milk.   Melamine was the same chemical that was implicated in the 2006 – 2007 American pet food safety scandal and recall, which sickened and killed thousands of cats,  when it was used to adulterate imported wheat gluten, and spread from an importer – distributor in Las Vegas, ChemNutra,  to all over the country. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T…   Ground up melamine powder, a by product of coal processing normally used in plastics like laminated flooring,  was added not only to increase the volume but to fool the tests done for “protein” content.  

What did Zhao do to warrant Chinese jail time while trying to save sick babies ?


he organized a gathering of a dozen parents of sick children at a restaurant, held a paper sign in front of a court and factory involved in the scandal as a protest, and gave media interviews in a public place.

Schutter:


“I’m concerned this will have a chilling effect on consumers who want to complain,” he said. “You cannot protect the right to food without the right to freedom of expression and organisation.”

Utopia 16: Student Driver

               An optimist isn’t necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places–and there are so many–where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.  Howard Zinn

Drug Addiction in Afghanistan

After 9/11 and the Talibans refusal to turn over the al Qaeda leaders and others we invaded Afghanistan ridding that country of their leadership and Supposedly to go after the guilty of that huge criminal terrorist act against our Nation and People, Then We pretty much Left, taking our military personal and promised rebuilding money with us. The War Drums beat instead for invasion of an innocent country and it’s people, Iraq, which became the overwhelming focus while smaller numbers of troops stayed in Afghanistan starting a long stagnated occupation.

Done With the Lesser of Two Evils

I won’t get fooled again.

I voted for Kerry, and I voted for Barrack Obama.

But I won’t ever do it again.

And I of all people should’ve known better.

See, back in 76, I was a 12 year old kid during the Gerald Ford / Jimmy Carter election.  I’d seen the Watergate movie, and I had a pretty good grasp of what was going on.

Probably most here have forgotten or never even knew that in ’76 there was also an independent run by Eugene McCarthy–the actually semi-leftist guy the Dems screwed way back in 1968.

Despite strong showings in several primaries – indeed, he won more votes than any other Democratic candidate – McCarthy garnered only 23 percent of the delegates at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, largely due to the control of state party organizations over the delegate selection process.

Emphasis: mine.  From http://www.answers.com/topic/e…

Anyway, in 76, since I was 12, I couldn’t drive yet, but I had a cool bike with a blue banana seat, and I cruised all over town handing out literature for Gene.  

When election day came I too young too vote, but old enough to canvass, and I witnessed an amazing phenomena:

The Democrats were bringing in carload after carload of scared old people from old folks homes.  In return for a nice dinner, they would vote a straight Democratic ticket.  That was the deal–the other poll watchers informed me– I was incredulous at  first, but they brought them in by Lincoln, they brought them in by vans, they came and they came and they came.

And they didn’t look left.  They didn’t look right.  Not one took any literature from me or anyone else. And there was fear in their eyes when they saw me–real fear. I assume from hunger, but I don’t know.

They voted, they ate. Or, they ate they voted, I’m not sure which–but I’ve always wondered–since if they were fed first what were they worried about?  

I bet they hadn’t eaten yet.  And now 33 years later they’re all dead anyway.  

Well, 33 years from now I’ll likely be dead too, or at least I’ll be getting pretty damn fragile.

And, I’ll still look left, when asked, even if I have to forgo supper.

 

Shares: A No-Hoops Hunger Project

We all know the economic situation sucks. We all know people who have lost their jobs, families – often in our own neighborhoods – who have lost their homes, their means of transportation, their health care, their sense of self-worth and ability to meet basic needs. We all want to help, but if you know anything about “the system,” you also know that politics only decrees focus. It doesn’t exist to actually help people, it exists to see how many hoops they’ll be able to jump in order to get the bare minimum.

And if you’re at all like me and ever dealt with “the system” yourself or for a family member, you also know a good handful of people who will live in a cardboard box before hitting the shelter, will walk double-digit miles to work rather than tell anybody the car’s been repo’d, will go hungry because there’s just no way to get to the county seat on-demand to jump hoops bi-weekly just to get food stamps. Why, you might even know some who have been given help, but are just too embarrassed to use them at the grocery store.

I’ve worked with several hunger projects over the last quarter century, usually grant-supported non-profit based or purely local and supported by area churches, community groups, fraternal organizations and businesses. They all try to reach the people who need help, and the people involved are more than willing to help with paperwork or details in order to make the hoop-jumping easier. But they all know, as I know, that there are many who aren’t reached because they won’t or can’t jump hoops. For any of a number of reasons they don’t want us to know.

Today Obama changed the World FOREVER

There has been a lot of talk about the G20, solving the world financial melt down and regaining our stature on the world stage. Hearing Nicolas Sarkozy say Obama is the man who can change the world, pretty heady stuff. In fact Obama did change the world today in a far more important way than solving the world financial crisis or bringing an end to terrorism, nope. Follow me below the fold for the single statement that changed everything forever and you may have missed it.

UN, ASEAN Press For More Aid to Burmese Cyclone Victims

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is en route to Myanmar today, but already his presence in the region seems to have had an affect:

“We have received government permission to operate nine WFP (World Food Program) helicopters, which will allow us to reach areas that have so far been largely inaccessible,” Ban told reporters in New York on Tuesday before departing for Southeast Asia. His announcement was not immediately confirmed by officials in Myanmar.

“I believe further similar moves will follow, including expediting the visas of (foreign) relief workers seeking to enter the country,” Ban said, warning that relief efforts to save survivors of the May 2-3 Cyclone Nargis had reached a “critical moment.”

“We have a functioning relief program in place but so far have been able to reach only 25 percent of Myanmar’s people in need,” he said.

link: http://ap.google.com/article/A…

Progress can’t come too soon, as cyclone victims, desperate for food, beg by the side of the road:

854 million people in the world go hungry

“Right now most of the world is living under appalling conditions. We can’t possibly improve the conditions of everyone. We can’t raise the entire world to the average standard of living in the United States because we don’t have the resources and the ability to distribute well enough for that. So right now as it is, we have condemned most of the world to a miserable, starvation level of existence. And it will just get worse as the population continues to go up… Democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people onto the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn’t matter if someone dies. The more people there are, the less one individual matters.”

That’s from Bill Moyers interviewing Isaac Asimov in 1988.

fascinating video here – I had never seen this particular show before, did not know it existed until tonight.

What was true 20 years ago has not changed. It has become worse.


From Moyers web site today

   * More than 854 million people in the world go hungry

   * Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes – one child every five seconds

   * Poor nutrition and calorie deficiencies cause nearly one in three people to die prematurely or have disabilities, according to the World Health Organization.

   * 35.5 million people in the United States – including 12.6 million children-live in households that experience hunger or the risk of hunger.

   * Undernourishment negatively affects people’s health, productivity, sense of hope and overall well-being. A lack of food can stunt growth, slow thinking, sap energy, hinder fetal development and contribute to mental retardation.

   * Economically, the constant securing of food consumes valuable time and energy of poor people, allowing less time for work and earning income.

My concern is that these conditions will be getting much worse, (and from the data see I suspect changing quite rapidly as well), as climate change interferes with normal growing cycles, disease vectors and availability to obtain clean water for billions on this planet: what is an ‘inconvenient truth’ for us is a death sentence for perhaps billions who will not be able to cope.

The political upheaval we see today is nothing compared to what the future holds as climate change destroys the crucial infrastructure of areas where billions live.

Asimov said 20 years ago in the interview ..

.. you get the feeling somehow that Americans somehow are smarter somehow .. that what we consider a decent econmic system, freedom, free enterprise, that that alone “will do it for us” .. but not if we are lazy.

.. mixed in amongst the interview strikingly accurate views of the future

And then, he smacks George Bush for making comparisons between Harvard and Yale ..

..

..

That’s George Herbert Walker Bush, and Mike Dukakis he was talking about.

———–

I wish Asimov were still with us, to hear his wisdom again about where we are now.

We need bold leadership right now to address the issues that face us, and there are still too few voices.  

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