Saturday, December 31, 2011

3.5 Million Homeless and 18.5 Million Vacant Homes in the US


The National Economic and Social Rights Initiative along with Amnesty International are asking the U.S. to step up its efforts to address the foreclosure crisis, including by giving serious consideration to the growing call for a foreclosure moratorium and other forms of relief for those at risk, and establishing a housing finance system that fulfills human rights obligations.
New government census reports have revealed disturbing information that details the cold, hard numbers of Americans who have been deeply affected by the state of our economy, and bank foreclosure practices:
In the last few days, the U.S. government census figures have revealed that 1 in 2 Americans have fallen into poverty or are struggling to live on low incomes. And we know that the financial hardships faced by our neighbors, colleagues, and others in our communities will be all the more acutely felt over the holiday season.
Along with poverty and low incomes, the foreclosure rate has created its own crisis situation as the number of families removed from their homes has skyrocketed.
Since 2007, banks have foreclosed around eight million homes. It is estimated that another eight to ten million homes will be foreclosed before the financial crisis is over. This approach to resolving one part of the financial crisis means many, many families are living without adequate and secure housing. In addition, approximately 3.5 million people in the U.S. are homeless, many of them veterans. It is worth noting that, at the same time, there are 18.5 million vacant homes in the country.
The stark realities that persist mean that millions of families will be facing the holidays in temporary homes, or homes under threat, and far too many children will be wishing for an end to the uncertainty and distress their family is facing rather than an Xbox or Barbie doll.
Housing is a basic human need and a fundamental human right. Yet every day in the United States, banks are foreclosing on more than 10,000 mortgages and ordering evictions of individuals and families residing in foreclosed homes. The U.S. government’s steps to address the foreclosure crisis to date have been partial at best.
The depth and severity of the foreclosure crisis is a clear illustration of the urgent need for the U.S. government to put in place a system that respects, protects and fulfills human rights, including the right to housing. This includes implementing real protections to ensure that other actors, such as financial institutions, do not undermine or abuse human rights.
There is a link available at the Amnesty International website for anyone who is interested and would like to join the call on the Obama administration and Congress to urgently step up efforts to address the foreclosure crisis, including by seriously considering the growing call for a foreclosure moratorium and other forms of relief, and establishing a housing finance system that fulfills human rights obligations.

1 NYC Student Arrested By NYPD Every Day In School, 94 Percent Are Black Or Latino

Arrest New York City School

An average of 1 New York City student is arrested by the NYPD every day, according to a new report. And of those arrested, 88 percent are male and 94 percent are black or latino.
The New York Daily News takes a look at the statistics:
The numbers, released to comply with a new city law, only cover July 1 to Sept. 30 -- two-thirds of which was summer school.
Cops arrested 63 students -- about one a day in 50 days of classes -- and issued 182 summons to students -- three a day for offenses ranging from robbery to riding a bike on the sidewalk.
Of the arrests, 68% of the students were black and 25% were Latino.
Civil liberties advocates say the numbers are indication of over-policing in city schools, and raise concerns of racial profiling (the NYPD is currently facing a lawsuit that says its "Stop and Frisk" policy unfairly targets blacks and latinos.)
"Instead of arresting students who need the most help, the Bloomberg administration should redirect resources from police to services that support student achievement," said Udi Ofer, NewYork Civil Liberties Union advocacy director, in a statement. "Why are we employing 5,400 police personnel and only 3,000 guidance counselors?"
Black children only make up 29 percent of the school system's 1.1 million students and an estimated 37% of summer school students.
Donna Lieberman, executive director of the NYCLU said, "The data raise concerns about black students being disproportionally arrested in the city's schools."
City Council Public Safety Committee Chair Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Queens) noted that 37 of the arrests involved crimes like weapon possession and assault. "I'd rather police officers be handling those than guidance counselors," he said.
The NYPD also noted that the statistics were pulled mostly from summer school, when the student demographics and the number of incidents are different from the regular school year.
The NYPD, however, has yet to release statistics from April to June of this year, as they are required to do by the Student Safety Act.
According to The New York Daily News, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said he will be looking at the report "to examine disparities in race and ethnicity" while noting that school crime has dropped 49 percent since 2000.

Coca-Cola vs Marijuana: Which is more unhealthy for you?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Is this real? Hackers plan space satellites to combat censorship

Graphic of a Vostok spaceship
50 years after Russia's first piloted mission, hackers plan to send their own people beyond orbit

Computer hackers plan to take the internet beyond the reach of censors by putting their own communication The scheme was outlined at the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin.

The project's organisers said the Hackerspace Global Grid will also involve developing a grid of ground stations to track and communicate with the satellites.
Longer term they hope to help put an amateur astronaut on the moon.
Hobbyists have already put a few small satellites into orbit - usually only for brief periods of time - but tracking the devices has proved difficult for low-budget projects.
The hacker activist Nick Farr first put out calls for people to contribute to the project in August. He said that the increasing threat of internet censorship had motivated the project.
"The first goal is an uncensorable internet in space. Let's take the internet out of the control of terrestrial entities," Mr Farr said.
Beyond balloons
He cited the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) in the United States as an example of the kind of threat facing online freedom. If passed, the act would allow for some sites to be blocked on copyright grounds.
Whereas past space missions have almost all been the preserve of national agencies and large companies, amateur enthusiasts have in recent years sent a few payloads into orbit.

These devices have mostly been sent up using balloons and are tricky to pinpoint precisely from the ground.
According to Armin Bauer, a 26-year-old enthusiast from Stuttgart who is working on the Hackerspace Global Grid, this is largely due to lack of funding.
"Professionals can track satellites from ground stations, but usually they don't have to because, if you pay a large sum [to send the satellite up on a rocket], they put it in an exact place," Mr Bauer said.
In the long run, a wider hacker aerospace project aims to put an amateur astronaut onto the moon within the next 23 years.
"It is very ambitious so we said let's try something smaller first," Mr Bauer added.
Ground network
The Berlin conference was the latest meeting held by the Chaos Computer Club, a decades-old German hacker group that has proven influential not only for those interested in exploiting or improving computer security, but also for people who enjoy tinkering with hardware and software.
When Mr Farr called for contributions to Hackerspace, Mr Bauer and others decided to concentrate on the communications infrastructure aspect of the scheme.
He and his teammates are working on their part of the project together with Constellation, an existing German aerospace research initiative that mostly consists of interlinked student projects.
In the open-source spirit of Hackerspace, Mr Bauer and some friends came up with the idea of a distributed network of low-cost ground stations that can be bought or built by individuals.
Used together in a global network, these stations would be able to pinpoint satellites at any given time, while also making it easier and more reliable for fast-moving satellites to send data back to earth.
Armin Bauer
"It's kind of a reverse GPS," Mr Bauer said.
"GPS uses satellites to calculate where we are, and this tells us where the satellites are. We would use GPS co-ordinates but also improve on them by using fixed sites in precisely-known locations."
Mr Bauer said the team would have three prototype ground stations in place in the first half of 2012, and hoped to give away some working models at the next Chaos Communication Congress in a year's time.
They would also sell the devices on a non-profit basis.
"We're aiming for 100 euros (£84) per ground station. That is the amount people tell us they would be willing to spend," Mr Bauer added.
Experts say the satellite project is feasible, but could be restricted by technical limitations.
"Low earth orbit satellites such as have been launched by amateurs so far, do not stay in a single place but rather orbit, typically every 90 minutes," said Prof Alan Woodward from the computing department at the University of Surrey.
"That's not to say they can't be used for communications but obviously only for the relatively brief periods that they are in your view. It's difficult to see how such satellites could be used as a viable communications grid other than in bursts, even if there were a significant number in your constellation."
This problem could be avoided if the hackers managed to put their satellites into geostationary orbits above the equator. This would allow them to match the earth's movement and appear to be motionless when viewed from the ground. However, this would pose a different problem.
"It means that they are so far from earth that there is an appreciable delay on any signal, which can interfere with certain Internet applications," Prof Woodward said.
"There is also an interesting legal dimension in that outer space is not governed by the countries over which it floats. So, theoretically it could be a place for illegal communication to thrive. However, the corollary is that any country could take the law into their own hands and disable the satellites."
Need for knowledge
Apart from the ground station scheme, other aspects of the Hackerspace project that are being worked on include the development of new electronics that can survive in space, and the launch vehicles that can get them there in the first place.
According to Mr Farr, the "only motive" of the Hackerspace Global Grid is knowledge.
He said many participants are frustrated that no person has been sent past low Earth orbit since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
"This [hacker] community can put humanity back in space in a meaningful way," Farr said.
"The goal is to get back to where we were in the 1970s. Hackers find it offensive that we've had the technology since before many of us were born and we haven't gone back."
Asked whether some might see negative security implications in the idea of establishing a hacker presence in space, Farr said the only downside would be that "people might not be able to censor your internet".
"Hackers are about open information," Farr added. "We believe communication is a human right."

Engineers prepare a geostationary communications satellite at Baikonur Cosmodrome

Mexico vote annulled over Juan Manuel Marquez shorts stunt

Juan Manuel Marquez (left) with the PRI logo on his left leg and Manny Pacquiao (right) during their fight
A local election result in Mexico has been annulled, partly because a boxer wore the logo of the winning party on his trunks in a fight on the eve of the vote, breaking campaign rules.
Juan Manuel Marquez sported the tricolour symbol of the PRI during his clash with Filipino Manny Pacquiao.
The fight in Las Vegas on 12 November was watched by millions in Mexico.
A federal court decided it may have influenced voters in Morelia, the capital of Michoacan state.
In its ruling, the court also cited a television appearance by Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidates after the official campaign period has closed.
The election for mayor of Morelia will now have to be held again within 150 days.
The court decision has cast doubt on other victories won by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in Michoacan.
President Felipe Calderon's National Action Party (PAN) says the result in the election for state governor should also be annulled.
In that vote, PRI candidate Fausto Vallejo beat President Calderon's sister, Luisa Maria Calderon.
The PAN has also alleged that Michoacan's powerful drugs cartels intimidated some voters into supporting the PRI, something it denies.
The left-wing Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) also complained, and now wants election results throughout Michoacan annulled.
The PRI called the court decision "unjust, mistaken and disproportionate" but said it would abide by the ruling.
It added that the victory of its mayoral candidate, Wilfrido Lazaro, was legitimate and said it would win again.
Political jostling is increasing in Mexico ahead of next July's presidential poll, with the PRI bidding to return to the presidency which it lost in 2000.
Before that, it had governed uninterrupted for 71 years.
Boxer Juan Manuel Marquez said he was given the shorts emblazoned with the PRI logo by his team, but did not notice their significance.
He said he was focused on the fight and did not know there were elections happening in Michoacan.
Members of the PRI have denied having any involvement in getting Marquez to wear their logo.
In the ring, Marquez lost to Pacquiao on a narrow points decision.

Call to stop a nazi march in Magdeburg, Germany.Mobivideo für Magdeburg 01/14/2012

Homeless people "occupy" abandoned US homes

Dylcia Pagan (former political prisoner) Puerto Rican freedom fighter

Scott Olsen, Vet Wounded at Occupy Oakland, on Recovery, Protests, Iraq & Bradley Manning

The Future Belongs To The Few Of Us Still Willing To Get Our Hands Dirty.

Police State LA: Another excuse for the Police to tax you!

CHP crackdown includes drivers who eat behind the wheel

As part of a crackdown on distracted drivers, the California Highway Patrol is not just looking for people illegally talking or texting on their cellphones.
Officials also will be on the lookout for those who are eating while driving. And if you're reading magazines or applying makeup, they'll also be looking for you.
From 6 a.m. Friday until 6 a.m. Saturday, the CHP is having a “zero tolerance” cellphone enforcement day.
Although there is no law saying someone can't eat while driving, a distracted driver is in violation of the law.
Under California’s vehicle code, a driver can be ticketed $145 to $1,000 for having “wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Officers will also be tracking these distractions and the number of distracted drivers, because there are not very good data on just how many distracted drivers there are.
Tickets for cellphone violations are $20 for the first offense and $50 for the second. But with court costs and other fees, the total cost of a ticket is more than $100.
Since California’s law requiring hands-free devices took effect in 2008, the CHP has written 518,161 citations statewide. They have written 11,634 tickets for texting while driving.

Gay nativity scene vandalized at Claremont church

An unusual nativity display at a Claremont church that portrayed gay couples was vandalized over the weekend in an incident authorities are investigating as a hate crime.
Claremont United Methodist Church has a Christmas tradition of unusual nativity displays, intended to carry a social or political message.
Despite some of the controversial topics, the scenes had never been vandalized or defaced, according to church officials and John Zachary, the artist who created the scenes.
But this year, suspects vandalized a nativity scene that included wooden light boxes with three couples holding hands -- a man and a woman, two women and two men -- under a star of Bethlehem and a sign that said "Christ is Born."
Church officials came in before the Christmas morning service to find that someone had pushed over the two gay couples and left the heterosexual couple standing.
The vandalism occurred sometime between 11 p.m. on Christmas Eve and 9 a.m. on Christmas Day, police said. No suspects have been identified.
The church has never shied away from controversial topics, including a scene of war in the Middle East, a mother and baby in prison and a depiction of the U.S./Mexico border fence.
One year, the nativity depicted a homeless family. The scene prompted an impromptu outpouring of giving, with congregation members leaving donations of food, clothing and money.
"Christ's birth in a stable had a lot to do with poverty and being marginalized," said Pastor Sharon Rhodes-Wickett. "What this church has tried to do through these scenes is say, 'What would that look like today?'"
In 1993, the church made a decision to be a "reconciling congregation" which welcomes gay, lesbian and trasngender members. This year's nativity display was intended to convey that message, Rhodes-Wickett said.
Ed Kania, 60, an openly gay member of the church, called the act of vandalism disappointing, especially because Claremont is a generally seen as a progressive college town.
"It's a reminder that although there are pockets of acceptance, not everybody is accepting," he said. "We're all kind of disappointed, but we're using it as a rallying point."

Occupy's Rose Parade float: 70-foot octopus of corporate greed

Occupy protesters are busy finishing their float that will run at the end of the Rose Parade: a 70-by-40-foot octopus made of recycled plastic bags.

The octopus, said activist Mark Lipman of Los Angeles, represents Wall Street's stranglehold on political, cultural and social life, with tentacles "that reach into your pocket to get your money and a tentacle to get your house."
"This is the real Rose Parade, and the other is the Rose Charade," said Pete Thottam, 40, an Occupy activist.
Protesters will march the parade route after the floats and marching bands have passed. The group has been working with Pasadena police and Tournament of Roses officials on how not to disrupt the parade.
"Our goal is to put Occupy's best foot forward," Thottam said, adding that activists expect more than 1,000 participants. "We recognize that this is a historic, iconic event geared toward middle America and the family."
The group says the protest will be "G-rated" and will stick to nonviolence in expressing Occupy's messages against income inequality and corporate power.

Though the Occupy movement is leaderless, it has taken some organization to get ready for Monday's event.

During the rehearsal Thursday, activists were assigned roles, such as working with an Occupy peacekeeping team or carrying the plastic pipes that will support two large replicas of the preamble to the Constitution. Each replica — one with the words "We the People," one with "We the Corporations" — requires dozens of people to hold up. Maneuvering the octopus "human float" took some practice in coordination. Protesters spun in circles, moving it through the park. Each tentacle will have several protesters lifting it.

Ten Vegetables You Can Grow Without Full Sun

When most people picture a vegetable garden, they imagine a spot that bakes in the sun all day. For some vegetables, such as tomatoes, peppers, and squash, this is the ideal site. What if we want to grow vegetables, but don't have a site like this "ideal" one available? There are plenty of vegetables that will grow well without full sun. Those of us who have shade can grow vegetables, too.

Basically, a good rule to remember is that if you grow a plant for the fruit or the root, it needs full sun. If you grow it for the leaves, stems, or buds, a little shade will be just fine.
Keep in mind that no vegetable will grow in full, dense shade. The following crops will produce with three to six hours of sun, or fairly constant dappled shade, per day.
  1. Salad Greens, such as leaf lettuce, arugula, endive, and cress.
  2. Broccoli
  3. Cauliflower
  4. Peas
  5. Beets
  6. Brussels Sprouts
  7. Radishes
  8. Swiss Chard
  9. Leafy Greens, such as collards, mustard greens, spinach, and kale
  10. Beans
In some ways, growing in a site with part shade is easier than growing in full sun. You won't have to water as often, and crops that are quick to bolt in hot weather, such as lettuces and spinach, will grow quite a bit longer given some shade.
The best thing about knowing that these crops will successfully grow with some shade is that you'll be able to get more produce from your garden. Even if you're lucky enough to have an area with full sun that you can reserve for a vegetable garden, knowing which plants will take some shade will help you get the most out of your space. You can use that sunny space to grow the sun-lovers: peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, corn, and squashes. The other crops, those that do well in the shade, can be tucked in anywhere. Grow some beets or swiss chard in your part-sun perennial border. Grow some lettuce or radishes in a container or window box. Make use of the space you have, in both sun and shade, and you can easily double the amount of vegetables you would usually get.
Having a shady garden doesn't mean you're destined to live a life devoid of fresh garden vegetables. By making the most of what you have, you can harvest lettuces, peas, and other tasty veggies from spring through fall.

Deputies fatally shoot man in Rancho Palos Verdes

Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives are investigating a deputy-involved shooting in Rancho Palos Verdes that left one man dead.
The incident occurred Tuesday at 7:18 p.m. in the 29300 block of Golden Meadow Drive, according to the Sheriff's Department. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scenes. No deputies were injured.
Information was not released regarding how deputies encountered the suspect, or whether the suspect was carrying a weapon.
The Daily Breeze reported that the man was allegedly holding a weapon after assaulting his 85-year-old father. The newspaper reported that authorities said a weapon was recovered at the scene.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Indigenous Women of the Movement Statement on Non-Violence

"Nonviolence as a mass political strategy was never part of our traditional ways of being on Turtle Island. We laid siege to forts, we picked up arms, we mounted riots and uprisings and full scale guerilla wars against colonial governments, militaries, corporations. We ate the hearts of our enemies. We did not curry favour from rich white men, we fought and killed them."

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Indigenous Women of the Movement: Why We Wrote the “Statement of Apology” We Wish Had Been Written By the Defenders of the Land Organizing Committee

April 28, 2011
It has been seven days since we published a satirical “statement of apology“, from the organizing committee of Defender’ of the Land. A group of women and grassroots land defenders wrote the statement, because our voices had been silenced. We feel that what we have to say here must be heard, and so we will continue to speak.
In Spring 2010, we blocked consensus of a “June 24th Day of Action” call-out for a march during the G20 week in Toronto. We were ignored and silenced. That march was the only indigenous-led event for that important week of public dissent. We had one day for our voices to be heard in the streets. We believe in consensus as a traditional way of guarding against elitism and privilege in our communities, and we believed that by blocking consensus, especially as a group of native women, we would at least be given the chance to speak and be heard. Not only were we ignored and silenced, but the organizing committee blocked communication between us and several native communities. We were told they were “afraid” of us, as though indigenous peoples need protection from each other when our voices speak different opinions.
We blocked consensus because we felt that the call out for the “June 24th Day of Action” (which was sent out by Defenders of the Land) would criminalize and disempower grassroots land defenders and erode our autonomy to defend ourselves and our land and communities. We felt that the heavy use of “non-violence” wording was a slippery slope toward co-operation with the Canadian government and police…who also desire us to be “non-violent” so that we are less of a threat to the realities that we face daily: our children being stolen, our lands being exploited for profit, murder and brutality at the hands of police and racist settlers, the disappearance and murder of thousands of indigenous women.
We felt that this was not an issue of semantics, that this was deliberately being taught to our peoples, our youth and our communities by the interests of government and corporations, who we began finding out more and more, were actually helping to fund well-paid activists who ran well-funded workshops, training and retreats on “non-violence” and “civil disobedience”. Some of this was traced back to funding which came from “ethical oil” strategies, and that’s when we started realizing the sickening accuracy of our premonitions.
The June 24th “Day of Action”, although well attended and successful in bringing people together to demonstrate resistance, was also extremely compromised. Undercover police and informants who came to the organizing meetings were “justified” in being there, people were told that because of “trouble makers”, we should cooperate with the police. These “trouble makers” were several indigenous people who were standing up and questioning the way the organizing was being increasingly straitjacketed.
“Non violence” was used to narrow the parameters of our ability to speak and express our struggle: we were barred from wearing camoflage, barred from wearing masks, barred from carrying the Unity flag or from any “warrior” images or symbols. On the day of the march, undercover police were permitted by the organizers to infiltrate the march, and those of us who had questioned the organizers were told that we would be turned over (by the march’s own security team) to the police.
That has been our experience and involvement with the organizing committee of the Defenders of the Land, a network that began with the dream of a woman: a clanmother and Elder from one of the most exploited communities on Turtle Island which has been devastated by mercury poisoning and logging: Grassy Narrows.
We believe in honouring the dreams of women, in freeing ourselves from judgement and bias, decolonizing our minds and our hearts. We believe in being action-oriented, not paper-oriented. We don’t need Canada’s approval or consent, and we don’t need government or corporate funding. We have always had what we will always need: the Kaianerenkowa, the Medicine Wheel, our teachings, our clan systems, our languages, our ceremonies.
We can empower ourselves, we don’t need to wait for an NGO or a suit to tell us how to feel empowered. We aren’t the ones who need “non violence training”, the ones who need to stop using violence are the ones in power: police, government and corporations.
We absolutely believe in non-violence: when the cops lay down their weapons, the mining and logging companies abandon their industries, when the government returns the land to the people who belong to her, when racist settlers lay down their racism and patriarchy, when we vomit up the internalized racism from generations of abuse and torture at the hands of the government and can feel good in our own skin, can feel loved by each other, comforted, proud of and nourished by our beautiful brown skin, instead of vying for the attention of white thighs, settling for the white lie.
When the violence against us stops, maybe then we can begin to return to a time of peace. But to adopt a strategy of non-violence during a time of war is suicide: and we already have enough children and youth killing themselves because their innate resistance to genocide is stifled by white Canadian education, media, foster homes, jails and poverty food. Native children and youth do not need to be taught how to defend themselves: they need to be given the freedom to do what their spirits already understand is necessary.
Nonviolence as a mass political strategy was never part of our traditional ways of being on Turtle Island. We laid siege to forts, we picked up arms, we mounted riots and uprisings and full scale guerilla wars against colonial governments, militaries, corporations. We ate the hearts of our enemies. We did not curry favour from rich white men, we fought and killed them.
The most successful military campaign against Amerikkka was waged and won by the Oglala Sioux at Little Big Horn in 1876 and in 1973, they defended it again against the FBI, military and goon squads. Our people were often were masked in ceremonies and in battle, just look at the indigenous Zapatista movement–”masking up” is a practice rooted in indigenous movements and indigenous resistance.
Non-violence may be one strategy, and true to our nature, if it works, we’ll use it. If it doesn’t, we won’t. The bottom line is that we defended our land and our families with whatever we could. We owe our very existence to our ancestors who resisted total extermination and genocide by fighting back, and we will continue to honour those who gave us life by resisting the ongoing colonization of our lands and our peoples. If we have breath, we owe each one not only to our ancestors but to the land they fought and died to protect, and to the next seven generations.
-Indigenous Women of the Movement