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)
posted by Rustic Etruscan
on Aug 29, 2013 -
"We condition the poor and the working class to go to war. We promise them honor, status, glory, and adventure. We promise boys they will become men. We hold these promises up against the dead-end jobs of small-town life, the financial dislocations, credit card debt, bad marriages, lack of health insurance, and dread of unemployment. The military is the call of the Sirens, the enticement that has for generations seduced young Americans working in fast food restaurants or behind the counters of Walmarts to fight and die for war profiteers and elites."
-- War is Betrayal. Persistent Myths of Combat
, an essay by Chris Hedges
of Truthdig. Responses within. [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Aug 9, 2013 -
Payday lenders target the working poor with quick loans at exorbitant interest rates. When a ballot initiative drive in Missouri threatened this lucrative business, the payday lenders fought back with everything they had
--their money. A ProPublica report
, published yesterday in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch documents the web of secret donations and intimidation that smothered the reform movement.
posted by Horace Rumpole
on Aug 3, 2013 -
There have been days,
since her son Ezekiel was born 11 months ago, that Los Angeles mom Beth Capper has gone without food to keep up her supply. One friend was arrested for stealing some. It's not drugs or alcohol or even baby formula that has put her in such a bind. It's diapers.
posted by the young rope-rider
on Jul 30, 2013 -
In 2009, ESPN producer Lisa Fenn worked on a story about two high-school wrestlers, Leroy Sutton and Dartanyon Crockett. Sutton was hit by a train when he was a child and had both his legs amputated; Crockett is legally blind. After the story aired, Fenn stayed in Sutton and Crockett's lives, and the three formed a surprising, enduring bond. [more inside]
posted by Charity Garfein
on Jul 9, 2013 -
A 5-year-old girl saw the dust trail of the bus and pedaled toward it on a red tricycle. Three teenage boys came barefoot in swimsuits. A young mother walked over from her trailer with an infant daughter in one arm and a lit cigarette in the other. “Any chance there will be leftover food for adults?” she asked. It was almost 1 p.m. For some, this would be the first meal of the day. For others, the last.
In rural Tennessee, a new way to help hungry children: A bus turned bread truck
Don't look at the comments. Do look at the photos.
posted by Horace Rumpole
on Jul 7, 2013 -
"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 clichés about freeloaders undeserving of government help, living large at the expense of honest, hardworking taxpayers." Bill Moyers spends an hour
with two of the creators of the documentary "A Place at the Table
." [more inside]
posted by jbickers
on Jul 3, 2013 -
have a long and sordid history, initially constructed as a shanty town by soldiers who had nowhere to live. Then the poor people from rural areas moved to the cities for job opportunities, expanding the favelas. Today, there are over 500 favelas, with about a third of Rio de Janeiro's population, and they're growing
. The three primary drug gangs that fight for control in the favelas formed in the 1970s
(PDF), but they were formed not solely by fighters, but also political radicals
, and these gangs provide some social services where the government does not. That is, until the Pacifying Police Units were formed in 2008
, with the goal of pushing the gangs out and providing government stability from a live-in police force. But this isn't just to an effort to end the gang violence -- the slums are being swept ahead of the tourist rush
, and the shanty towns are now seeing a rapid gentrification from non-Brazilians and speculators
posted by filthy light thief
on Jun 6, 2013 -
"Recent statistics from the Office for National Statistics suggest residents of this city have the lowest household disposable income of anywhere in the UK.
The average income per individual householder after tax, but including benefits, is £16,034 a year. In Nottingham it is £10,834.
That may be only one measure of poverty, but at a time when there has been a sustained assault on living standards for everyone it is surely a difficult extreme. "
posted by marienbad
on May 31, 2013 -
During the decade 2000-10 in the USA, for the first time the number of poor people in major metropolitan suburbs surpassed the number in cities. Between 2000 and 2011, the poor population in suburbs grew by 64% — more than twice the rate of growth in cities (29%). By 2011, almost 16.4 million residents in suburbia lived below the poverty line, outstripping the poor population in cities by almost 3 million people.
These are some of the grim findings of ‘Confronting Suburban Poverty in America’, a report by the Brookings Institution, and the implications of this report and its contents are that much more significant for Brookings is conservative in its outlook and advocacy. via
posted by infini
on May 29, 2013 -
The Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, an outgrowth of Oregon's 2008 lottery to allocate Medicaid slots to eligible residents, has released their second year of results
(Previous discussions on the lottery
and the experiment
). The gist of the results are that they found statisitically significant reductions in catastrophic health care expenditures, improvements in the incidences of depression, and increased use of health care services. They found minimal (and not statistically significant) improvements in the rates of physical health indicators (diabetes and hypertension) they tracked. Because of ethical concerns, there are no other randomized controlled tests on this scale that study the effects of Medicaid and few on the effects of health insurance in general (the only significant one being a RAND study released 30 years ago
). Because of the small amount of information available on the topic and the impending Medicaid expansion offered by Affordable Care Act, this study has drawn a lot of attention from political commentators. This will presumably be the last year these results will be published, as the state of Oregon was able to find extra money in 2010
in order cover the rest of its Medicaid-eligible population. [more inside]
posted by Weebot
on May 3, 2013 -
On Monday, the British Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith
, made a rather rash claim on BBC Radio 4. Hijinks ensue
. 'Duncan Smith came under pressure after he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Monday that he could live on £53 ($81/week) after he was asked about a market trader, David Bennett, who claimed that he had to live on that amount after his housing benefit was cut. "If I had to, I would," Duncan Smith replied." ' from The Guardian
. Since then a petition
has started challenging him to try it. Petition has gathered 440,133 signatures in 5 days. Original report
. There is a secondary petition
going: this one is guaranteed to be debated in Parliament if it gets 100,000 signatures. [more inside]
posted by glasseyes
on Apr 5, 2013 -
: "The parents of China’s post-1980 generation [the bā líng hòu (八零後)] (themselves born between 1950 and 1965) grew up in a rural, Maoist world utterly different from that of their children. In their adolescence, there was one phone per village, the universities were closed and jobs were assigned from above. If you imagine the disorientation and confusion of many parents in the West when it comes to the internet and its role in their children’s lives, and then add to that dating, university life and career choices, you come close to the generational dilemma. Parents who spent their own early twenties labouring on remote farms have to deal with children who measure their world in malls, iPhones and casual dates." [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Mar 7, 2013 -
The journey with no destination
"We board in northwest London on a regular bus, with the intention of heading into the heart of the capital, where there is a much greater choice of night buses when it gets later and colder. By now the group seem to have fully accepted my presence and are keen to tell me about their lives. The most pressing question I have is: why? Why would you eschew safety and warmth and comfort for this? It turns out that while a couple of kids might be along for the ride, for most this is their only option.
posted by fight or flight
on Jan 17, 2013 -
A boy with huge brown eyes, who is so small he barely looks older than 12, tells me: “I’m allowed home in early mornings to have some food and change my clothes, but I have to be gone by the time my mum wakes up.” When I ask him why, he shrugs, as if the answer is forgotten or irrelevant."
The day would come when many West Virginians recalled the story of Jack's Powerball Christmas with a shudder at the magnitude of ruination: families asunder, precious lambs six feet under, folks undone by the lure of all that easy money.
posted by Egg Shen
on Nov 29, 2012 -
From The National Center For Children in Poverty: Young Child Risk Calculator
: "The risk factors used in this tool are known to increase the chance of poor health, school, and developmental outcomes for young children. Economic hardship paired with any of the listed risk factors may indicate a greater chance of poor outcomes. Children with three or more risks are exceptionally vulnerable. Information about the prevalence of young children experiencing these risks can inform policies aimed at improving outcomes for vulnerable children and reducing the number of children experiencing early risks." [more inside]
posted by OmieWise
on Nov 27, 2012 -
The US does not have a spending problem, we have a distribution problem
"Forty years from now, America will be twice as rich on average as we are today. But most of that wealth will go to the very richest households. We only have a budget crisis if they refuse to pay higher taxes... So the real point isn't that we can't afford Social Security and Medicare. It's that some people don't want to pay the higher taxes necessary to maintain Social Security and Medicare. This is a question of distribution, pure and simple."
posted by bookman117
on Nov 20, 2012 -
The poor in America: In need of help Some 15% of Americans (around 46.2m people) live below the poverty line, as Ms Hamilton does. You have to go back to the early 1960s—before Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programmes—to find a significantly higher rate. Many more, like Ms Dunham, have incomes above the poverty line but nevertheless cannot meet their families’ basic monthly needs, and there are signs that their number is growing.
Once upon a time the fates of these people weighed heavily on American politicians. Ronald Reagan boasted about helping the poor by freeing them from having to pay federal income tax. Jack Kemp, Bob Dole’s running-mate in 1996, sought to spearhead a “new war on poverty.” George W. Bush called “deep, persistent poverty…unworthy of our nation’s promise”.
No longer. Budgets are tight and the safety net is expensive. Mitt Romney famously said he was not “concerned about the very poor” because they have a safety net to take care of them. Mr Obama’s second-term plan mentioned poverty once, and on the trail he spoke gingerly of “those aspiring to the middle class”. “Poor” is a four-letter word.
posted by infini
on Nov 8, 2012 -
In the Shadow of Wounded Knee.
Along the southwestern border of South Dakota is one of the most poverty-stricken places in the United States—the Pine Ridge Reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota people. After 150 years of broken promises, they are still nurturing their tribal customs, language and beliefs. Via [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Oct 25, 2012 -
There's been little discussion about the problem of poverty in the current Presidential election, the conventions pretty much ignored it.
"The Circle of Protection, composed of Christian leaders from across the religious spectrum, released President Barack Obama's and GOP nominee Mitt Romney's video responses today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C."
Both candidates responded.
posted by HuronBob
on Sep 13, 2012 -
After an inquisitive prison inmate challenged his notions of poverty and its solutions, Earl Shorris embarked on a project to share the humanities with poor students in New York City. In this article
for Harper's Magazine, he remembers his struggles and triumphs with funding, material, and the students. As income inequality in the US continues to rise, other well known figures have different ideas
. Shorris died recently this year, and obituaries appeared in The New York Times
, The Daily News
and The Nation
. A full archive of his articles for Harper's can be found here
posted by sophist
on Jun 21, 2012 -
“Sexual orientation does make you poor,” says Manohar Elavarthi, a community organizer with Sangama in Bangalore. “Poverty is not just economic – you miss access to so many things: ration cards, inheritance rights, voter ID cards.” In several South Asian countries, there are reports that LGBT people have even been denied access to disaster relief. And homophobia is intricately connected with other divisions in South Asian societies, particularly around gender but also religion and caste.
Yet I saw many signs of hope and change in both India and Nepal. Those transgender sex workers in Chennai have organized a coalition, called V-CAN, of every single community-based organization in the state of Tamil Nadu that serves homosexual or transgender people. Working with the NGO Praxis, they have been able to gain access to some public benefits, such as pensions and registering as “third gender” on government ID cards. Activists in Nepal’s Blue Diamond Society have achieved similar results and more.
~ World Bank blog post
posted by infini
on Jun 3, 2012 -