Over the last year and a half, I have been visiting São Paulo and, especially, Rio de Janeiro, observing the process of “pacification,” by which the government attempts to peacefully enter and reestablish state control over the most violent enclaves of the city, those dominated by drug gangs called traficantes, or by syndicates of corrupt police called militias. Until 2008, when the pacification program started, the traficantes controlled roughly half of the favelas, and the militias the other half. Both still hold power in most favelas. The ultimate aim of the state government of Rio’s plan, called the Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora (UPP), or Police Pacification Unit, is to drive both of these groups out and replace them by the state. (SLNYRB)
"Poverty is a more powerful influence on the outcome of inner-city children than gestational exposure to cocaine." [more inside]
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has signed legislation that would require thousands of people applying for welfare to pass a drug test before they could receive benefits. [more inside]
SCC approves safe injection sites. The Supreme Court of Canada today ordered the federal government to stop its efforts to shut down a safe injection clinic in Vancouver, opening the door to more clinics opening across the country. [more inside]
A memorial to the many dead. Here in Oakland, California, the murder rate has gone out of control. The incoming mayor has not articulated any clear plan for reducing violence. And the current one, having only seen violence increase here, is going on to become the state Attorney General. Amid the challenges Oaklanders face - gentrification, a lack of meaningful work opportunities, and a history of a devistating drug trade, there are some efforts to make change: here, here, here, and here.
Inner City Youth, London "In 2002, Simon Wheatley began photographing London's publich housing developments...and was able to obtain a level of intimacy with his subjects that provides a true picture of the daunting project of growing up in the intimate confines of drug use, societal neglect, and poverty." This (Flash-based) narrated slideshow features Wheatley's work, and is a look at the culture...and also the music (grime) "as an artistic response to the place and circumstance, an expression of the violence, bleakness, and neglect..." (via Future Feeder)
The City of God (#29 IMDB top 250) is a film about life in Brazilian "favelas" (shantytowns) where poverty, drugs, violence and crime rule the streets. At murder rates of more than 40 per 100,000, one person shot every 30 minutes in the city, Rio ranks as the world's most dangerous places along with Cali, Colombia and Johannesburg, South Africa. Rio has over 600 favelas and the crime and violence is becoming so bad corporations are fleeing the city while the military is under direct assault and the prison system is breaking down. Favela guided tours available or see the movie available now on DVD.
Mike Males, Ph.D., professor of Sociology at UC Santa Cruz, author and pro-youth advocate, thinks kids are getting a bad rap these days. He is very fond of pointing out that poverty and grown-ups are the biggest threats to teens today. His latest book, "Kids and Guns", is available for free online (HTML version on his homepage, PDF version at Common Courage Press). He even knocks the drug policy reform movement for making the same "save the children" diatribes as their opponents. His site isn't exactly the prettiest thing I've ever seen, but I haven't been so engrossed by something on the web in a long, long time.
Cash for birth control - if you're a junkie. Came across an ad for this organization while riding a train that serves a number of low income Chicago projects. I'm hard pressed to figure out what this is about. On first glance, it seems to be an effort to help drug addicted mothers avoid unwanted pregnancies. However, upon further reflection, it takes on the guise of a frightening genetic engineering program.