This really gets to the heart of why the digital images “in support of Russia” (e.g. Putin with drag, painted up) are so fuckin’ terrible.
This really gets to the heart of why the digital images “in support of Russia” (e.g. Putin with drag, painted up) are so fuckin’ terrible.
It’s so sad that tragedies like this often reflect the reality of being a queer person of color. I’m so tired of violence, especially violence against queer and trans people of color. Their families are in my thoughts.
Stuff like this really makes me weary of ever coming out publicly, tbh. I don’t know if I could handle the threat of that kind of danger. =/ I really hope they find whoever did this and bring them to justice so their families can be at peace.
Homeless folks have real solutions to the housing crisis
February 27, 2014
When Bill de Blasio took office on January 1, he inherited a broken, bloated and expensive homeless shelter system that cost almost $1 billion to operate in 2013. He also inherited neighborhoods dotted with vacant buildings and lots that represent both potential housing and jobs. For New York’s homeless, there is a Kafkaesque paradigm where so-called affordable housing is in fact unaffordable due to the federal government’s Area Median Income guidelines.
Those who can’t afford housing are the same unemployed, or low-wage workers, seniors, disabled and just poor New Yorkers in the shelter system. On bitterly cold nights this winter, the shelter-industrial complex housed more than 50,000 adults and children — enough to fill Yankee Stadium. That didn’t include those using the domestic violence shelter system and the untold numbers of homeless folks sleeping in churches, mosques and synagogues. Nor does it include the thousands sleeping in trains, public transit facilities or parks. It doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands doubled or tripled up with friends and family hoping for a break so that they don’t have to go into the shelter system.
Real Roots of the Problem
Homelessness has been framed as the result of individual dysfunction and pathology. “Oh, they’re mentally ill, or they need to get a job,” — this mantra has been repeated by politicians and media for two decades. Picture the Homeless encourages the de Blasio administration to look at the big picture, to take into account rising rents and stagnant incomes at the bottom of the wage scale. Forces like gentrification, property warehousing and disinvestment in effective housing programs such as Section 8 have led us to where we are today.
The bottom-line cause of homelessness is the high cost of housing. Real estate development here has been geared to business interests, hotels and high rises, offices and office towers. When there is new housing construction, it’s for the super rich. Banks and landlords keep buildings empty while they wait for neighborhoods to gentrify, and to get rid of protections on rent-stabilized apartments.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg took away the homeless priority for permanent housing solutions like Section 8 and public housing, replacing them with time-limited rental subsidy programs (first Housing Stability Plus and then the Advantage programs) that were doomed from the start.
Past administrations have cried poverty when asked why they don’t prioritize housing for homeless people, but that’s a lie. The money’s there, it’s just being wasted on a politically connected shelter-industrial complex. A billion dollars a year could house a lot of people. Most shelters get two to three times as much money per month for each homeless household as it would cost to pay their rent.
In 2011, we partnered with the Hunter College Center for Community Planning and Development to devise and execute a replicable methodology for how the city could conduct a vacant property census. We found enough empty buildings and lots to house up to 200,000 people, and that was just in one-third of the city. But the city doesn’t keep track of vacant property and the little bit of money that is out there is being used to house people in shelters.
Every homeless person is different, and it’s true that mental illness and substance abuse play a role in some people losing their housing, but plenty of very wealthy people have issues of substance abuse or mental illness. The root issue is poverty. Public policy needs to address the systemic causes of homelessness. No mayor or president can implement a policy to stop people from having mental illness or losing their jobs, but they can make it so that everyone can afford housing.
There are numerous factors that contribute to record levels of homelessness, like how people coming home from jail with a record are excluded from housing, so there’s nowhere for them to go. Banks are still redlining in certain communities. Institutional racism is also a huge problem — over 90 percent of homeless families in shelters are African-American and/or Latino. Predatory lending has been targeting people of color. Ninety-nine percent of the people who go into housing court get no legal representation, so many of them end up losing their homes.
There’s no cohesive overall plan between government agencies that serve low-income people, and that adds up to a lot of resources being wasted. There’s no unity or collaboration between housing courts and the welfare and shelter systems. HRA, DHS, NYPD — it’s a whole lot of alphabet soup that doesn’t add up to anything.
People say homeless people should go get jobs — but people have jobs! The pay just doesn’t match the rental market. Very low wages, including social security and other income forms for folks who aren’t working, plus inadequate income supports, plus high rents, equal homelessness. It’s simple math.
At Picture the Homeless, we don’t just complain about problems. Homeless people know what’s not working, and they know what needs to change. That’s why our organizing campaigns have concrete policy demands of the new administration.
For starters, it’s unacceptable that the city has no idea how much property is currently vacant. We have to have conduct an annual citywide count of vacant buildings and lots, so we know what kind of resources are out there to develop new housing — and who’s keeping housing off the market. Legislation that would empower the city to do such a count was stalled for three years in the City Council under Christine Quinn. We were heartened to see it identified as a necessary solution on Bill de Blasio’s campaign website, as well as a priority for the City Council’s Progressive Caucus.
The new administration could immediately utilize a small portion of the Department of Homeless Services’ (DHS) shelter budget (even just 1 percent would be almost $10 million!) and create permanent rental subsidies so homeless people can get out of shelters. That funding could also support a pilot project for innovative housing models like community land trusts, which have the potential to create permanently-affordable, democratically-controlled housing for folks at all income levels, as well as supporting small businesses and incubating jobs that pay a living wage.
The city should take all the property whose owners owe taxes on water or violations, and put it into a land bank and develop it for those who really need it. Property that the city acquires through the Third Party Transfer program should be prioritized for nonprofit housing developers, including community land trusts. And the city should create and expand community land trusts that will be permanently affordable to the people who live there.
The new administration could also limit what is considered “affordable housing” to the city of New York. Right now, “affordable housing” can go to folks making upwards of $80,000 a year, because it’s based on Area Median Income calculations that factor in affluent parts of Westchester and Long Island.
International Women’s Day: a day, according to the UN, to “reflect on progress made”, to “celebrate acts by ordinary women”. Few would say that it fails to do this. Last year Google marked it with a doodle, and there were events from streets marches to window displ of Selfridges, who marked it with a short film showing famous female designers and presenters.
Yet all this fails to reflect exactly what the day means. Amid pastel Gifs and shop windows full of well-off women, barely a whisper could be heard about those who brought the day into being. Perhaps it’s not surprising: next to them, modern feminists look a little wet. They forged International Women’s Day (IWD) in the midst of fire, bloody strikes, starving workers and revolution.
Luise Zietz and Clara Zetkin were the first to come up with the idea. Inspired by growing numbers of female activists, in 1910 they proposed to the second Socialist International the organisation of a day worldwide dedicated to promoting women’s rights.
Against a backdrop of ambivalence from male unions, women had been organising for decades. Cap-makers, match girls and laundresses had all picketed at the turn of the 20th century, and as Zetkin and Zietz made their proposal, the “Uprising of the 20,000” was drawing worldwide attention. A bloody strike by New York’s garment workers, it was led by Clara Lemlich, a 23-year-old Ukrainian-Jewish immigrant who rallied tens of thousands of women to the picket lines even after thugs hired by her employers broke her ribs.
The first IWD took place on 19 March 1911. Over a million women across Europe took to the streets calling for equal rights. Jubilation at the day’s success was short-lived: less than a week later fire ripped through the sweatshop where Clara Lemlich worked, killing 146 workers who had been locked inside by their employers. Lemlich lost a cousin to the flames, collapsing in hysterics when she was unable to find her body. The tragedy – still one of the worst industrial disasters in US history – brought universal condemnation, focusing future IWD campaigning fiercely on worker’s rights.
IWD was just solidifying into a proudly left-wing tradition when the First World War broke out in 1914, and socialist organisation collapsed in chaos. In 1917, however, IWD took on significance again, when a group of Russian women triggered one of the most monumental events of the 20th century. Marching in St Petersburg, they were unexpectedly joined by workers from surrounding factories, supporting their calls for “Bread and Peace”. Within hours a full scale revolution had broken out. Tsar Nicholas abdicated, a new government was set up, and six months later, the Bolsheviks took control.
International Women’s Day 2014 - Seoul, South Korea
Photos: Korean Confederation of Trade Unions
Yes it was, it was conceived as a rallying day for women specifically in the context of working class struggle, something that’s been all but lost now. Here in Australia I’ve been reading shit like ‘let’s remember international women’s day by honouring our great women entrepreneurs’ followed by a piece about how Gina Rinehart is a great example for all women, who should presumably follow her lead and inherit their father’s multi million dollar mining business as their key to liberation…
Here’s a classic article by the Bolshevik Alexandra Kollontai about the history of working women’s day, how it originated in the struggle to extend the vote to working class women (as opposed to the liberal suffragette movement, for example, who just wanted the vote for middle class women) and it’s importance to the socialist movement in general. At the time the article was written (1920) it would have been inconceivable that the day would ever be separated from it’s origin in class struggle and the fight for socialism.
"The struggle I was in was never just to go off and form some black state for black people. The idea was to change the whole body politic of North America. Our view is that when you begin to raise the bottom, you raise everybody else. So I’m very supportive of workers rights. I don’t care who the worker is. I’m very supportive of the struggle against all forms of discrimination, be it sexual orientation or whatever it is." - Chokwe Lumumba, former mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, civil rights lawyer & activist (08/02/1947 - 02/25/2014)
BREAKING NEWS MARCH 4, 2014.
photo right: Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink and a great Granny friend, was detained and badly beaten during a peace mission to Egypt. She told the New York Times, “When the authorities came into the cell to deport me [for intending to visit Gaza] two men threw me to the ground, stomped on my back, pulled my shoulder out of its socket and handcuffed me so that my injured arm was twisted around and my wrists began to bleed…I was then forced to sit between the two men who attacked me on the plane ride from Cairo to Istanbul, and I was (and still am) in terrible pain the whole time.”
photo left: Also on the same peace mission is Northampton, Massachusetts Raging Granny Paki Wieland. Latest news, via the international Raging Granny e-vine, is that she is able to continue on the mission.
Both Paki and Medea have actively protested the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. Medea being barred from going to Gaza reminds us that the Palestinians remained trapped in Gaza as long as the Egyptian Rafah border remains closed or tightly controlled.
Violence against women knows no borders. Our solidarity knows no borders.
The spread of cell phone videos and social media in the past decade has made it more difficult to misrepresent things that can be easily captured on camera. But Venezuela is still grossly distorted in the major media. The New York Times had to run a correction last week for an article that began with a statement about “The only television station that regularly broadcast voices critical of the government …” As it turns out, all of the private TV stations “regularly broadcast voices critical of the government”. And private media has more than 90% of the TV-viewing audience in Venezuela. A study by the Carter Center of the presidential election campaign period last April showed a 57 to 34% advantage in TV coverage for President Maduro over challenger Henrique Capriles in the April election, but that advantage is greatly reduced or eliminated when audience shares are taken into account.
Although there are abuses of power and problems with the rule of law in Venezuela – as there are throughout the hemisphere – it is far from the authoritarian state that most consumers of western media are led to believe. Opposition leaders currently aim to topple the democratically elected government – their stated goal – by portraying it as a repressive dictatorship that is cracking down on peaceful protest. This is a standard “regime change” strategy, which often includes violent demonstrations in order to provoke state violence….
One of the most important forces that has encouraged this extreme polarization has been the US government. It is true that other left governments that have implemented progressive economic changes have also been politically polarized: Bolivia, Ecuador, and Argentina for example. And there have been violent right-wing destabilization efforts in Bolivia and Ecuador. But Washington has been more committed to “regime change” in Venezuela than anywhere else in South America – not surprisingly, given that it is sitting on the largest oil reserves in the world. And that has always given opposition politicians a strong incentive to not work within the democratic system.
Venezuela is not Ukraine, where opposition leaders could be seen publicly collaborating with US officials in their efforts to topple the government, and pay no obvious price for it. Of course, US support has helped Venezuela’s opposition with funding: one can find about $90m in US funding to Venezuela since 2000, just looking through US government documents available on the web, including $5m in the current federal budget. Pressure for opposition unity and tactical and strategic advice also helps: Washington has decades of experience overthrowing governments, and this is a specialized knowledge that you can’t learn in graduate school. Even more important is its enormous influence on international media and therefore public opinion.
When John Kerry reversed his position in April and recognized the Venezuelan election results, that spelled the end of the opposition’s campaign for non-recognition. But the opposition leadership’s closeness to the US government is also a liability in a country that was the first to lead South America’s “second independence” that began with the election of Hugo Chávez in 1998. In a country like Ukraine, political leaders could always point to Russia (and more so now) as a threat to national independence; attempts by Venezuelan opposition leaders to portray Cuba as a threat to Venezuelan sovereignty are laughable. It is only the United States that threatens Venezuela’s independence, as Washington fights to regain control over a region that it has lost.
Eleven years since the oil strike, the dividing lines in 2002 have not changed all that much. There is the obvious class divide, and there is still noticeable difference in skin color between opposition (whiter) and pro-government crowds – not surprising in a country and region where income and race are often highly correlated.…
Back in 2003, because it did not control the oil industry, the [Venezuelan] government had not yet delivered much on its promises. A decade later, poverty and unemployment have been reduced by more than half, extreme poverty by more than 70%, and millions have pensions that they did not have before. Most Venezuelans are not about to throw all this away because they have had a year and a half of high inflation and increasing shortages. In 2012, according to the World Bank, poverty fell by 20% – the largest decline in the Americas. The recent problems have not gone on long enough for most people to give up on a government that has raised their living standards more than any other government in decades.
My heart ^_^
Caracas, Venezuela: Mass march of peasants and Indigenous communities in support of the Bolivarian Revolution and President Nicolas Maduro, February 26, 2014.
Four workers at Insomnia Cookies’ Cambridge store went on strike on August 19, protesting poverty pay and wretched working conditions, and demanding $15/hr, health benefits and a union at their workplace. The company illegally fired all four. For the next six months strikers, IWW members, allies, and student organizations at both Harvard and Boston University held pickets, marches, rallies, forums, phone blitzes, and organized boycotts, while workers continued organizing at both the Cambridge and Boston locations. The union also pursued legal charges through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
On March 3, a company representative signed an agreement promising almost $4,000 in back pay to the four strikers (two of whom had given notice before going on strike; and all of whom had moved on to more rewarding jobs or pursuits). The company also agreed to post a notice in the Cambridge store, promising not to fire or otherwise retaliate against workers for taking collective action, including joining the union and going on strike. The company was also made to revise a confidentiality agreement that improperly restricted workers’ rights to discuss their conditions of employment with one another and third parties (including union organizers and the media). All references to the terminations have been removed from strikers’ personnel files.
“Since the first utterance of the word ‘strike’ that late August night, it has been an uphill battle for all of us,” says striker Chris Helali. “The Industrial Workers of the World answered the call when no other mainstream union was interested in organizing a small cookie store in Harvard Square. We picketed, we chanted, we sang. I thank my fellow workers, the IWW and all of our supporters for their continued work and solidarity through this campaign. I am proud to be a Wobbly!”Jonathan Peña says.
The IWW vows to continue organizing efforts at Insomnia Cookies. Helali says, “I am extremely pleased with the settlement, however, it does not end here. This is only the beginning. The IWW along with our supporters will continue to struggle until every Insomnia Cookies worker is treated with respect and given their full due for their labor. There is true power in a union; when workers come together and make their demands unified voices and actions.”
Big love and congrats to the Insomnia Cookies workers!!