Tag Archives: homelessness

Homeless in the US

Homeless in Sonoma County, California, USA: This is a peculiar face of homelessness in the US. Several decades ago, auto manufacturers racketeered against public transportation to shut it down so in most cities a car is an absolute essential for survival. Even the poorest working families have to own one just to get to work or get groceries.

So when working people go homeless because they can’t afford ever more exorbitant rents, they often live out of their cars. It provides some measure of protection from the weather & from being assaulted. It doesn’t provide much safety nor does it provide toilet, or shower, or cooking facilities but it’s better than sleeping under a bridge in the freezing rain.

In many US cities, homelessness is being criminalized with new ordinances (including against offering the homeless food or money), police breaking up homeless encampments, & laws against using vehicles for human habitation. But in an uncustomary display of human empathy, Sonoma county officials north of the San Francisco area created a safe parking program in January as an emergency response to freezing weather & removed the ban on living in your car. Similar programs exist in a few other California counties.

You can see on the face of this fellow, named Anthony Contreras, the loneliness & desolation of being in such an uncomfortable predicament. But the shame is not his since millions of working people in the US are paid chump change for their work & are unable to afford even squalid housing.

Housing is a human right! Working people are not beggars but the creators of all wealth & when we understand that in our bones, we will put an end to this ignominy.

(Photo by Brian van der Brug/LA Times)

Afghan president Karzai refuses to buckle to US Pentagon

Media & diplomats are calling Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s refusal to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) to maintain US military occupation in Afghanistan “The last stand of Hamid Karzai;” they liken it to a poker game, deplore he is “thumbing his nose” at the US & demonizing US troops & diplomats, accuse Karzai of mental health problems & ask if he is off his meds–all because he demands a minimal semblance of Afghan sovereignty, including accountability in Afghan courts for US soldiers who commit crimes & cessation of barbaric attacks on civilians.

Karzai is no prize package politically; he is a long-time collaborator with the US-NATO occupation & came to prominence only as a result of his corruption & collusion with the US. He will be leaving office after the April elections so his new independence may reflect some opposition within the Afghan elite to continued US occupation. It takes a certain amount of courage for Karzai to defy the US because if they thought they could get away with it the Pentagon would not hesitate to take him out.

By far, the most pernicious attacks on Karzai came from the Washington Post under the headline ”Karzai suspects US is behind insurgent-style attacks.” Citing unidentified officials in the Karzai regime & describing them as “palace officials,” the Post claims Karzai suspects many “shadowy insurgent-style attacks” in Afghanistan involved operatives of the US government. On hearing the claims, US officials swooned like actors in a Victorian melodrama; according to the Post, they “reacted with incredulity & anger to the idea that they are trying to debilitate Afghanistan’s government, which they have supported with hundreds of billions of dollars.”

The appropriately named US ambassador Cunningham (since he is both sneaky & a ham actor) said “It flies in the face of logic & morality to think that we would aid the enemy we’re trying to defeat,” & he accused Karzai of “deeply conspiratorial” thinking. Not really ambassador CunningHam. Karzai doesn’t have to go all libertarian; he only has to look at Iraq & Pakistan to see the future of Afghanistan.

As for those “hundreds of billions of dollars,” they were either bucks for bribery or for war & not reconstruction. There are some new showpiece high-rises in Kabul but the rest of the country is a shambles from bombing raids & house demolitions. Several agencies of the UN have issued reports on poverty, homelessness, & the increase in civilian casualties in Afghanistan. The UN reports blame it all on the corrupt Karzai regime, on the Taliban, on bad karma & not the US-NATO war because they support the war. One UN official in Afghanistan told reporters, “Poverty actually kills more Afghans than those who die as a direct result of the armed conflict.”

Poverty statistics in Afghanistan are quite staggering: according to one of the endless UN reports, nine million Afghans or 36% of the population live in “absolute poverty” while another 37% live barely above the poverty line. The streets are lined with homeless widows & their children begging. The poverty line established as $1.25 a day by the World Bank wouldn’t feed a mouse, let alone a child, so the distinction between absolute poverty & those barely above the poverty line is only one a sociopathic bureaucrat would make. But most importantly, can the UN tell us how those women were made widows & their children homeless? Has the bubonic plague hit Afghanistan & carted off all the men? Or might the US-NATO war be implicated in the massive poverty?

All out for the spring protests demanding “US out of Afghanistan!” “US out of Iraq!”

{Photo of Afghanistan from Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA)}