Saturday, October 03, 2015

President Obama Acts To Stop the Unconstitutional Criminalizing of Homelessness

By: Rmusemore from Rmuse
Saturday, September, 26th, 2015, 5:46 pm

Over the course of the period since Republicans crashed the economy and imposed vicious austerity on the nation that adversely affected the poor primarily, the rest of the world took notice of America’s “cruel and inhumane’ treatment” of the homeless. What caught the attention of human rights observers in particular was the increasing practice of criminalizing homelessness. Now, after a year of waiting for Congress to take action, it was left to President Obama to correct a very inhumane and humiliating practice.

It has been exactly a year since the U.N. Human Rights Committee (HRC) condemned what Republicans claim is a “very exceptional” country for its hateful practice of criminalizing homelessness. The HRC labeled America’s treatment of its homeless, millions whom are veterans, “cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment,” as well as “a violation of America’s obligation to adhere to international human rights treaties.” Along with the condemnation, the HRC-conducted review drove the international organization to demand that America comply with a treaty on human rights that it ratified 1992, and to take corrective action to be in compliance.

This week, the Obama White House took a giant step toward corrective action to force communities to halt the “cruel, inhumane, and degrading” treatment of people who do not have shelter. Last month the Obama Administration argued that these vile local ordinances that criminalize American citizens for being too poor to afford shelter was unconstitutional. The Administration filed a brief in federal court arguing that criminalization violates the Eighth Amendment’s protections against cruel and unusual punishment.

The Administration’s only recourse to force compliance with the Eighth Amendment and international human rights treaties is “tying federal funding to whether municipalities are making robust efforts to stop measures that criminalize homelessness.” Appealing to many Americans’ consciences is futile primarily because if they have a conscience, or an ounce of humanity, they never extend to the most vulnerable citizens; so it is wise to appeal to their greed.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gives out $1.9 billion in grants annually to local Continuums of Care, and public-church partnerships that are supposed to address homelessness in a specific area, but the neediest Americans are often turned away for “church” reasons. The federal grants are awarded in a competitive process where applicants fill out a questionnaire about how they intend to use the taxpayer money, as well as their current policies, and now they will have to do a bit more to get free government money meant for the homeless.

Now though, due to the President’s attempt to correct the cruel and inhumane treatment of the homeless, HUD announced that applicants must explain what steps they are taking to put an end to making homelessness a crime. The new rule requires grant recipients to demonstrate that they are working with local governments and law enforcement to put a quick end to the idea that being too poor to afford shelter is being a criminal. The Administration’s effort is taking particular aim at “anti-vagrancy” and “quality of life” laws that include making it a crime for a homeless person to sit on the sidewalk or a park bench, ask for spare change, or dog forbid dare to fall asleep in a public place.

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Missing Iraq money may be as much as $18 billion

19 JUN 2011 AT 13:58 ET                  

In 2004, the Bush administration flew twenty billion dollars of shrink-wrapped cash into Iraq on pallets. Now the bulk of that money has disappeared. The funds flown into the war zone were made up of surplus from the UN’s oil-for-food program, as well as money from sales of Iraqi oil and seized Iraqi assets. Recent estimates had the amount of missing money at about $6.6 billion, but according to Al Jazeera, Iraqi Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi says the figure is closer to three times that amount.

Officials were supposed to distribute the money to Iraqi government ministries and U.S. contractors tasked with the reconstruction of Iraq, but it now appears that the bulk of the cash was stolen in what may be one of the largest heists in history.

The Iraqi government argues that U.S. forces were supposed to safeguard the cash under a 2004 agreement, making Washington responsible for the money’s disappearance. Pentagon officials claim that given time to track down the records they can account for all of the money, but the U.S. has already audited the money three times and no trace of what happened to it can be found.

Al Jazeera says that it has been unable to find any documents whatsoever accounting for the money’s disappearance. Some believe that U.S. officials absconded with the money, but it’s more likely, sources say, that corrupt Iraqi officials used the funds to line their own pockets.

To date, it’s estimated that the Iraq War has cost the United States more than a trillion dollars.


One day after Pope Francis issued a unifying moral call to action in his historic address to Congress, we are back to the pettiness and partisanship of the Republican candidates for President. Thursday night, Jeb Bush told a South Carolina crowd that Democrats play to African-American voters by offering “free stuff.”

Reminder: basically nobody gets more free stuff than the child and brother of presidents, except maybe Bush under his own tax plan. More importantly, Jeb has pledged to be a unifying candidate, but this comment reinforces that his record has been anything but unifying. He has been dismissive of the injustices that drives the Black Lives Matter movement.

As Governor of Florida, Jeb signed the first-in-the-nation Stand Your Ground law, which had a particularly devastating impact for African Americans. Jeb also disproportionately hurt African Americans when he banned affirmative action in 2000. Jeb Bush may think his message to black voters is uplifting, but his record and positions haven’t given the African American community the ‘right to rise.’

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Oregon shooting: Suspect dead after college rampage
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