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How a Rapidly Gentrifying City Can Help Its Most Vulnerable

January 18, 2015 in Blogs

By Steven Samra, T3 Threads

Gentrification is pushing out the last of affordable housing units. Here's what cities need to do for its low-income populations.


Whenever I train homeless service providers to provide housing focused outreach, the first question I typically receive is, “Yeah, this is great and all, but what if you don’t have any housing available?”

Yeah, what if?

The reduction in affordable housing stock in this country is endemic. According to The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s report, Out of Reach 2014, “Finding a decent, affordable home is a challenge for all renters, but the poorest households have very few options. For every 100 extremely low income (ELI) renter households, there are just 31 affordable and available units” (4).

Making matters worse, the National Coalition to End Homelessness states, “According to HUD, in recent years the shortages of affordable housing are most severe for units affordable to renters with extremely low incomes. Federal support for low-income housing has fallen 49% from 1980 to 2003 (National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2005). About 200,000 rental housing units are destroyed annually.”

Let me help you defrost these cold, impersonal statistics with a real world example. A December 4th opinion piece in The New York Times regarding the explosive growth and gentrification of Nashville, Tennessee laments:

“These two tendencies — save our soul, but grow grow grow — are now colliding in a bizarre form of hyper-gentrification. Neighborhoods close to downtown once drew teachers, writers and musicians with well-built, well-priced Craftsman homes. But with the influx of wealth has come a new kind of buyer, often an investor offering cash well above asking price. A house that went for $40,000 a decade ago might now go for 15 times that amount. Even worse, for many of these new gentrifiers, the old Craftsman homes are just too small, so developers have been buying up these small houses, then demolishing and replacing them with much larger ones.”

This “gentrification wave” is certainly not isolated to Nashville, and is impacting large and small cities around the country, but I digress. As a former street outreach specialist in Nashville and current …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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White ‘Survivalist’ Gunman Shoots Black Oklahoma Police Chief 4 Times—and Walks Free

January 18, 2015 in Blogs

By David Ferguson, Raw Story

Officers took the gunman into custody, but said that they had “insufficient evidence” for an arrest.


A Sentinel, Oklahoma man who shot the town’s police chief four times on Thursday morning was allowed to walk free after questioning.

According to NewsOK.com, Police Chief Louis Ross was shot in the chest three times and once in the arm while responding to a bomb threat at a private residence. He survived with only minor injuries thanks to a borrowed bulletproof vest that he had put on only moments before.

NewsOK.com said that a neighbor identified the gunman as Dallas Horton of Sentinel, although investigators declined to release his name.

The incident began with a 911 call around 4 a.m. on Thursday, said Sentinel Mayor Sam Dlugonski. A caller reported that a bomb had been planted in Sentinel Community Action Center, home of the local Head Start program.

The city contacted the Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s bomb squad, which responded to the scene and found no evidence of explosives.

Chief Ross and deputies from the Washita County sheriff’s office traced the call to Horton’s residence on State Route 4. Officers entered the residence by breaking down the door.

Encountering no one in the first room they searched, Ross proceeded into a second bedroom, where Horton shot him four times.

Officers took Horton into custody, but said that they had “insufficient evidence” for an arrest.

Jessica Brown, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation told NewsOK.com that she was uncertain whether Horton would be arrested in connection with the bomb threat, but that the investigation is ongoing.

Ross was taken to Elkview General Hospital in Hobart, where he was treated for minor injuries. Dlugonski said that he was expected to see an orthopedic surgeon on Thursday afternoon.

Horton’s neighbor David Delk described the gunman to the Oklahoman as a “survivalist” type who mistrusted the government, was openly unfriendly to neighbors and wore a lot of black clothing.

A Facebook profile believed to be Horton’s is rife with racially charged images andjabs at black leaders like Rev. Al Sharpton. “Hurt ME and your [sic] gonna feel pain,”declares one …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The One Thing You Can Do Guaranteed to Destroy Your Relationship

January 18, 2015 in Blogs

By Erin McKelle Fischer, Bustle

One of the quickest ways to doom your relationship is disturbingly one of the most frequently used.


This post originally appeared on Bustle.

Have you ever been in an argument with your partner where instead of talking through the issue, you decided to give him or her the silent treatment? Yeah, we probably all have. Sometimes just ignoring the person who is making you want to lose your mind is easier than hashing it out!

Interestingly, this relational response has been documented by clinicians since the 1930s but hasn't been thoroughly researched until recent times. A meta-analysis (when a large body of research on a topic is analyzed to find common threads and patterns) was conducted on this current research. Collectively, these studies showed that giving your romantic partner the silent treatment is one of the quickest ways to doom your relationship. Disturbingly, it's also one of the most frequently used responses to conflict in romantic relationships. Yikes!

The silent treatment is part of what is called the demand-withdraw pattern, which happens when one partner makes constant requests of the other and is met with frequent repudiation. Typically, the way the refusing partner expresses their denial is by ignoring their partner, which is of course what is known as the silent treatment.

Exactly how destructive is the silent treatment? One study showed that it can bring about relationship dissatisfaction, and even divorce. Partners who engage in the silent treatment generally have worse communication than their non-silent treatment practicing counterparts and have less intimacy.

Why do we practice the silent treatment, anyway? “The silent treatment is caused by a combination of hurt feelings and an inability or unwillingness to talk about them,” an Oregon counselor told the Chicago Tribune. Another therapist told the Tribune that “Ultimately, it has nothing to do with the argument but needing to feel like you are in control of something when everything else around you is spinning out of control.”

Basically, we go silent when our partner makes constant demands of us, because we want to grab hold of control in the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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How the Top-Down Imposition of Unproven Charter Schools Is Roiling Parents and Communities

January 18, 2015 in Blogs

By Jeff Bryant, Salon

A fight over education in Nashville might come your way next: It's a proxy for dangerous right-wing education ideas.


“We know we need to do something about students who are not achieving in our schools.”

That anxious appeal – along with its many variations – has become the refrain now firmly embedded in speeches and opinion columns about American public education.

Yes! Do something. About those kids.

Only this time, the anxious appeal is coming from Jai Sanders, an African-American parent in Nashville, Tennessee, who has a stake in the matter: The something about to be done is aimed squarely at him and his children.

Sanders, pausing briefly before assembling a bagel with lox and cream cheese, explains, “But what we’re currently doing is throwing solutions at the wall to see what sticks, without any research or any consultation with the people who are affected the most.”

His tone of voice doesn’t carry a trace of the anger or resentment that could be inferred from what he just said. Actually, Sanders exudes affability. With a green ball cap tipped slightly back from his cherubic face, he gestures broadly and smiles incessantly. His impossibly well-behaved 3-year-old daughter seated beside him only occasionally diverts him as she carefully navigates her bagel.

They live with mom and the rest of the family in the same house where Jai grew up – the third generation of Sanders to live in their home in East Nashville.

Sanders, who attended both public and private schools while growing up in East Nashville, has chosen, along with his wife, to send their children to their neighborhood public school, Inglewood Elementary. Inglewood was “the default for us,” he says.

An older daughter who attends the school has been identified gifted and talented which has enabled her to be included in a program where she is provided with an Individual Education Plan so she receives specific attention to her abilities.

Yet now Sanders finds himself and his family swept into a raging Music City controversy. Conversations about public education – where you send your kid to school, where other parents send their kids, and who gets to decide – have exploded into …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Pope Francis, Neither a Marxist Nor an Economist

January 18, 2015 in Economics

By Marian L. Tupy

Marian L. Tupy

Last week Pope Francis defended himself against the charges of Marxism, explaining that caring for the poor is at the heart of Christian teaching. The pope is right. Caring about the poor does not make one a Marxist. By the same logic, defense of the free market does not make one oblivious to the plight of the less fortunate.

Citing excerpts from a book by two Italian journalists entitled “This Economy Kills,” the pope notes “that globalization has helped many people to lift themselves out of poverty, but it has condemned many other people to starve. It is true that in absolute terms the world’s wealth has grown, but inequality and poverty have arisen. We cannot wait any longer to resolve the structural causes of poverty in order to cure our society of an illness that can only lead to new crises.”

While it’s true that incomes were more equal for most of human history, they were terribly low. Two thousand years ago, the gross domestic product per person in the most advanced parts of the world hovered around $3.50 per day. About 1,800 years later, that was still the global average. The Industrial Revolution uprooted old feudal social structures and agrarian subsistence economy in Western Europe, thus setting the stage for the spread of representative government and material abundance. Poverty is not new. Prosperity is.

Blaming the free market for poverty isn’t factual.”

Writing in the mid-1800s, Karl Marx astutely observed the monumental changes around him. As he wrote in “The Communist Manifesto,” “The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilization. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life.”

Marxthought of communism as an improvement of capitalism that would benefit yet more people. It was not and it did not. The practical application of Marxist doctrines — nationalization of industry, collectivization of farms, abandonment of competition and the profit motive, resulted in economic disaster. In 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, an average American lived seven years longer and earned 151 percent more (adjusted for purchasing power parity) than an average citizen of the USSR.

Unlike his Soviet counterpart, the average American could freely state his opinions, worship the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Cop Gets Drunk, Shoots a Motorist and Gets a $500 Fine

January 18, 2015 in Blogs

By Tom Boggioni, Raw Story

The gun shot victim was reportedly begging for his life.


An off-duty Louisville police officer was acquitted by jury of one charge and fined $500 on another after shooting a motorist while off-duty and after a night of drinking at a friend’s house, reports WDRB.

Officer Chauncey Carthan had been charged with wanton endangerment and driving under the influence for the 2012 incident when the he pulled over a motorist, initiating a confrontation that ended up with the officer shooting the suspect, Ishmael Gough, in the leg.

After deliberating three hours, the jury acquitted Carthan on the endangerment charge, but found him guilty on the lesser charge, with the officer paying a fine and not serving time in jail.

According to court records, Carthan left his friend’s home on the evening of Sept. 4,  after an evening of drinking. While on his way home, he pulled Gough over for speeding and identified himself as a police officer, although Gough disputed that. Gouch stated the out of uniform cop was aggressive, while pointing a gun at him and demanding he get on the ground without ever saying what he had done wrong.

Under questioning Gough admitted that he reached for the gun before Carthan shot him, hitting him in the leg.

A witness who called 911 described the incident to the dispatcher saying, “He’s got his gun, he’s saying he’s police though, but dude’s begging for his life down here on the ground.”

After being asked by the dispatcher if the man with the gun was a police officer the woman said, “Yeah, he said he’s the police, but I don’t know. He ain’t got no uniform, no badge, no nothing- but he’s got this pistol pointing at the dude.”

Carthan said he felt his life was in danger when he shot, saying, “Had I let him take my gun that night, there is no doubt in my mind he would’ve used it on me and left me there for dead.”

Prosecutor Nick Mudd argued that Carthan should serve time jail, saying, “He was a drunk off-duty cop, driving a taxpayer car, with his taxpayer gun, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Why Americans Are Giant Hypocrites About Free Speech

January 18, 2015 in Blogs

By Andrew O’Hehir, Salon

Yeah, the French look like merde arresting a comedian for a Facebook post. But we're free-speech hypocrites too.


Even under the relatively broad construction of freedom of speech we’re accustomed to in the United States, almost everyone up to and including Glenn Greenwald and the ACLU would agree that my right to say what I want has both legal and practical limits. I’m not allowed to make direct threats against the life of the president or other government officials, and I’m not allowed, as the conventional phrase puts it, to shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater. That sounds reasonable enough. But wait – as we have discovered this week, and as we discover over and over again, when it comes to restricting speech, the devil is in the details. What constitutes an unacceptable threat against the leadership class, and who is covered by this restriction? Does the owner of the theater (metaphorically speaking) get to determine whether or not my words have caused a panic? What if the theater is really on fire?

In the eyes of many American civil libertarians and journalists, France and other Western European nations committed a dangerous and self-destructive blunder this week with their widespread crackdown on speech perceived as condoning or supporting Islamic terrorism. Just days earlier, Paris had captured the world’s attention with a massive rally in response to the murderous attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a suburban supermarket. French citizens of many backgrounds, races and faiths had taken to the streets by the hundreds of thousands to demonstrate that the republican ideal, however tarnished and challenged, had not perished.

Now the French cops are rounding people up because of stuff they said, including a drunk driver who tried to talk tough after causing an accident and a notorious comedian who made a nasty joke on Facebook. To say this is ironic feels inadequate. To describe it as going from the sublime to the ridiculous comes closer, but fails to reveal the contradictory kinship between these events. As Greenwald noted earlier this week, it’s impossible to imagine Western media celebrities signing on to …read more

Source: ALTERNET