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Tag Archives: Poverty

A journey through a land of extreme poverty: welcome to America

We are in Los Angeles, in the heart of one of America’s wealthiest cities, and General Dogon, dressed in black, is our tour guide. Alongside him strolls another tall man, grey-haired and sprucely decked out in jeans and suit jacket. Professor Philip Alston is an Australian academic with a formal title: UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

General Dogon, himself a veteran of these Skid Row streets, strides along, stepping over a dead rat without comment and skirting round a body wrapped in a worn orange blanket lying on the sidewalk.

The two men carry on for block after block after block of tatty tents and improvised tarpaulin shelters. Men and women are gathered outside the structures, squatting or sleeping, some in groups, most alone like extras in a low-budget dystopian movie.

We come to an intersection, which is when General Dogon stops and presents his guest with the choice. He points straight ahead to the end of the street, where the glistening skyscrapers of downtown LA rise up in a promise of divine riches.

Heaven.

Then he turns to the right, revealing the “black power” tattoo on his neck, and leads our gaze back into Skid Row bang in the center of LA’s downtown. That way lies 50 blocks of concentrated human humiliation. A nightmare in plain view, in the city of dreams.

Alston turns right.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/15/america-extreme-poverty-un-special-rapporteur

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Posted by on December 30, 2017 in North America

 

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Lake Chad: The World’s Most Complex Humanitarian Disaster

Chad was named for a mistake. In the eighteen-hundreds, European explorers arrived at the marshy banks of a vast body of freshwater in Central Africa. Because locals referred to the area as chad, the Europeans called the wetland Lake Chad, and drew it on maps. But chad simply meant “lake” in a local dialect. To the lake’s east, there was a swath of sparsely populated territory—home to several African kingdoms and more than a hundred and fifty ethnic groups. It was mostly desert. In the early nineteen-hundreds, France conquered the area, called it Chad, and declared it part of French Equatorial Africa.

A few years later, a French Army captain described Lake Chad, which was dotted with hundreds of islands, as an ecological wonder and its inhabitants as “dreaded islanders, whose daring flotillas spread terror” along the mainland. “Their audacious robberies gave them the reputation of being terrible warriors,” he wrote. After his expeditions, the islanders were largely ignored. “There was never a connection between the people who live in the islands and the rest of Chad,” Dimouya Souapebe, a government official in the Lake Region, told me.

Moussa Mainakinay was born in 1949 on Bougourmi, a dusty sliver in the lake’s southern basin. Throughout his childhood and teen-age years, he never went hungry. The cows were full of milk. The islands were thick with vegetation. The lake was so deep that he couldn’t swim to the bottom, and there were so many fish that he could grab them with his hands. The lake had given Mainakinay and his ancestors everything—they drank from it, bathed in it, fished in it, and wove mats and baskets and huts from its reeds.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/12/04/lake-chad-the-worlds-most-complex-humanitarian-disaster

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2017 in Africa, Reportages

 

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The World Hasn’t Had This Many People Dying of Starvation and Disease Since World War II

Not since World War II have more human beings been at risk from disease and starvation than at this very moment. On March 10, Stephen O’Brien, undersecretary general of the United Nations for humanitarian affairs, informed the Security Council that 20 million people in three African countries—Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan—as well as in Yemen were likely to die if not provided with emergency food and medical aid. “We are at a critical point in history,” he declared. “Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the UN.” Without coordinated international action, he added, “people will simply starve to death [or] suffer and die from disease.”

Source: The World Hasn’t Had This Many People Dying of Starvation and Disease Since World War II | The Nation

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Il decreto sicurezza cancella la dignità delle persone

Conosco da venticinque anni due persone – due stranieri, due anziani ormai – che per tutto questo tempo hanno vissuto per strada a Roma, spesso dormendo al freddo o sotto la pioggia, vicino alla stazione, in un parcheggio, in una macchina abbandonata, bevendo alcolici scadenti ogni giorno, ammalandosi di ogni genere di malattia della pelle, campando di elemosina. Dalla settimana scorsa non più: uno è morto due giorni fa, l’altro da poco ha preso per la prima volta una stanza in affitto.Quando ho saputo della morte di quest’uomo avevo appena letto il decreto sicurezza emanato dal governo, quello che recita all’inizio:

Source: Il decreto sicurezza cancella la dignità delle persone – Christian Raimo – Internazionale

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2017 in European Union

 

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Facing Famine, 20 Million People Need Food, Not Bombs

By Amy Goodman and Denis MoynihanDemocracy NowThe world is facing the most serious humanitarian catastrophe since the end of World War II. Twenty million people are at risk of starving to death in Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria and South Sudan.

Source: Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan: Facing Famine, 20 Million People Need Food, Not Bombs

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2017 in Africa, Middle East

 

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Let Them Drown

Edward Said was no tree-hugger. Descended from traders, artisans and professionals, he once described himself as ‘an extreme case of an urban Palestinian whose relationship to the land is basically metaphorical’.​* In After the Last Sky, his meditation on the photographs of Jean Mohr, he explored the most intimate aspects of Palestinian lives, from hospitality to sports to home décor. The tiniest detail – the placing of a picture frame, the defiant posture of a child – provoked a torrent of insight from Said. Yet when confronted with images of Palestinian farmers – tending their flocks, working the fields – the specificity suddenly evaporated. Which crops were being cultivated? What was the state of the soil? The availability of water? Nothing was forthcoming. ‘I continue to perceive a population of poor, suffering, occasionally colourful peasants, unchanging and collective,’ Said confessed. This perception was ‘mythic’, he acknowledged – yet it remained.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n11/naomi-klein/let-them-drown

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2016 in Reportages

 

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The Great Unraveling

The ideological and physical hold of American imperial power, buttressed by the utopian ideology of neoliberalism and global capitalism, is unraveling. Most, including many of those at the heart of the American empire, recognize that every promise made by the proponents of neoliberalism is a lie. Global wealth, rather than being spread equitably, as neoliberal proponents promised, has been funneled upward into the hands of a rapacious, oligarchic elite, creating vast economic inequality. The working poor, whose unions and rights have been taken from them and whose wages have stagnated or declined over the past 40 years, have been thrust into chronic poverty and underemployment, making their lives one long, stress-ridden emergency. The middle class is evaporating. Cities that once manufactured products and offered factory jobs are boarded up-wastelands. Prisons are overflowing. Corporations have orchestrated the destruction of trade barriers, allowing them to stash $2.1 trillion in profits in overseas banks to avoid paying taxes. And the neoliberal order, despite its promise to build and spread democracy, has hollowed out democratic systems to turn them into corporate leviathans.

Source: The Great Unraveling | Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2015 in Middle East, North America, Reportages

 

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Why Utah is giving homes to the homeless

David Hogue isn’t sure that he should tell me his name. He sits in a back office in the shelter where he has lived for the past 18 months, hands folded neatly in his lap. It isn’t that he doesn’t want to talk. He tells me about how he’s had trouble finding work. He tells me about how he’s bounced between homes for years. He tells me about how his brother dropped him off here the day after New Year’s.But to identify himself as homeless – this is new.

Source: Why Utah is giving homes to the homeless – Susie Cagle – Aeon — aeon.co

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2015 in North America, Reportages

 

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The Arab Spring was a revolution of the hungry

Early in the Tahrir Square revolution, a group of retired Egyptian generals sat poolside at Cairo’s Gezira Club and worried about whether the country’s ruling elite could survive a popular uprising. It was February 2011, a week before President Hosni Mubarak was toppled. Millions of freshly politicized Egyptians had already taken to the streets. And yet, some of these career security men were unfazed.“The only thing we really need to worry about is a revolution of the hungry,” said one, a retired Air Force general. “That would be the end of us.”As it turned out, it took less than four years for Egypt’s dictatorship to reconstitute itself, crushing the hope for real change among the people. In no small part, the regime’s resilience was due to its firm grasp of bread politics. The ruler who controls the main staples of life — bread and fuel — often controls everything else, too.

Source: The Arab Spring was a revolution of the hungry — www.bostonglobe.com

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2015 in Middle East

 

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The Logic of Effective Altruism

I met Matt Wage in 2009 when he took my Practical Ethics class at Princeton University. In the readings relating to global poverty and what we ought to be doing about it, he found an estimate of how much it costs to save the life of one of the millions of children who die each year from diseases that we can prevent or cure. This led him to calculate how many lives he could save, over his lifetime, assuming he earned an average income and donated 10 percent of it to a highly effective organization, such as one providing families with bed nets to prevent malaria, a major killer of children. He discovered that he could, with that level of donation, save about one hundred lives. He thought to himself, “Suppose you see a burning building, and you run through the flames and kick a door open, and let one hundred people out. That would be the greatest moment in your life. And I could do as much good as that!”

via The Logic of Effective Altruism — bostonreview.net.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2015 in Reportages

 

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