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Archive for October, 2008

With the looming 40% increase in fuel costs reported by National Grid, this article from Business First of Louisville is a reminder of the significant increase in the basic cost of living for many Americans. There can be no doubt that energy bills per month are much higher in Buffalo.

Moreover, these figures are taken during the month of August and therefore reflect gas costs outside of winter.

What is desperately needed if low-income families are expected to keep up with the high cost of heat would be:

1) Raise the welfare grant to reflect true cost of living. Currently, TANF allots $54/month for heating costs. This does not reflect the true cost of heat.
2) Support the development of green building policies and weatherization programs. These policies would not only increase the energy efficiency of homes throughout New York State but would also support construction jobs, thereby strengthening our economy from the ground up. Low-income families living in more energy efficient homes would be able to save the money currently being thrown away on gas, or spend it on other basic needs such as transportation or health care.

More on this behind the jump.

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Some are blaming the current financial crisis on the poor.  This is not only wrong but offensive.

Newsweek has a good article outlining the attacks and placing the blame where it belongs.

Daniel Gross
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Oct 7, 2008 | Updated: 12:58 p.m. ET Oct 7, 2008

We’ve now entered a new stage of the financial crisis: the ritual assigning of blame. It began in earnest with Monday’s congressional roasting of Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld, and continued on Tuesday with Capitol Hill solons delving into the failure of AIG. On the Republican side of Congress, in the right-wing financial media (which is to say the financial media), and in certain parts of the op-ed-o-sphere, there’s a consensus emerging that the whole mess should be laid at the feet of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the failed mortgage giants, and the Community Reinvestment Act, a law passed during the Carter administration. The CRA, which was amended in the 1990s and this decade, requires banks-which had a long, distinguished history of not making loans to minorities-to make more efforts to do so.

The thesis is laid out almost daily on The Wall Street Journal editorial page and in the National Review. Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer provides an excellent example, writingthat “much of this crisis was brought upon us by the good intentions of good people.” He continues: “For decades, starting with Jimmy Carter’s Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, there has been bipartisan agreement to use government power to expand homeownership to people who had been shut out for economic reasons or, sometimes, because of racial and ethnic discrimination. What could be a more worthy cause? But it led to tremendous pressure on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac-which in turn pressured banks and other lenders-to extend mortgages to people who were borrowing over their heads. That’s called subprime lending. It lies at the root of our current calamity.” The subtext: if only Congress didn’t force banks to lend money to poor minorities, the Dow would be well on its way to 36,000. Or, as Fox Business Channel’s Neil Cavuto put it: “I don’t remember a clarion call that said: Fannie and Freddie are a disaster. Loaning to minorities and risky folks is a disaster.”

Let me get this straight. Investment banks and insurance companies run by centimillionaires blow up, and it’s the fault of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and poor minorities? (more…)

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This video was put together by our friends over at the Coalition for Economic Justice and is absolutely worth a watch.

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Late last night we recieved an e-mail from our friend Aaron Bartley at PUSH.  It was a good reminder of the dance party being held tonight to benefit the Partnership for the Public Good and Massachusettes Avenue Project.  It should be a great time and its only 5 bucks to get in!  We hope to see you there!

This was Aaron’s e-mail.

Dear Friends –

The first Movement Party jumps off tomorrow night (Friday) at 8 PM, and what a party it promises to be. Here’s why you should be there:

1. We’ve got the best DJ’s in Buffalo. If you like real hip-hop music, rooted in the best of the jazz-soul-funk tradition, then Cutler and LoPro are your people. They’ve proven they can get a crowd moving without sacrificing their creativity and originality.

2. You’ll be joining the fight for social justice in our city. The proceeds go to the Partnership for the Public Good–a network of community-based groups working on issues like poverty and the urban environment–as well as Massachusetts Avenue Project, which teaches urban youth about the fruits of urban farming and the beauty of eating local. What better setting than Langston Hughes for a movement party. PPG affiliated groups include Ujima Theater, ReUse, the WNY Homeless Alliance, Buffalo First, PUSH, CEJ and MAP.

3. There will be crumpers and b-boys on the scene to lead the way.

4. There will be a puppet parade led by Buffalo’s creative collective (Kyla Kegler, Pat Cain, Gabe Guttierez) at some point in the night.

5. Russell Pascatore, a leading light on the local poetry scene, will bless us with an ode to the absurdities of late-late capitalism. No better way to respond to the financial crisis than with a prayer by Russell.

6. We will DANCE and Flying Bison will flow.

“The Movement”
Friday, October 3rd, 8 PM
Langston Hughes Institute
25 High Street, near Main and High
$5 at the door
This is a 21+ event

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The City of Seattle, WA has evicted 91 homeless campers in the Nickelsville tent city outside Seattle, WA. The City of Seattle has said that it has plenty shelter for those who are residing in the tent city; however, the One Night Count (think “Street Survey”) of King County this past January found that there was insufficient shelter for the city’s 6,000 homeless individuals.

The tent city was organized by SHARE/WHEEL, a homeless activist group in Seattle.

The story on the eviction can be read at the Seattle Times website. Click here.

See story behind the jump for background. Note: the story behind the jump was written prior to the eviction.

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http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4463024n

CBS News ran this clip about the epidemic of homeless beatings throughout the country that is exascerbated by YouTube vidoes such as “Bum Fights” and “Bum Hunters”.

This kind of degradation is awful and a sad sign of how we have turned a blind eye to the de-humanization of the chronically homeless.

Please note: some of this imagery is graphic and violent.

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