Homeless Populations Are Surging in Los Angeles. Here’s Why.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

CALIFORNIA TODAY

Homeless Populations Are Surging in Los Angeles. Here’s Why.

Good morning.

(Here’s the sign-up, if you don’t already get California Today by email.)

The grim stats from around California have piled up in recent weeks:

In Alameda County, the number of homeless residents jumped 43 percent over the past two years. In Orange County, that number was 42 percent. Kern County volunteers surveying the region’s homeless population found a 50 percent increase over 2018. San Francisco notched a 17 percent increase since 2017.

And on Tuesday, Los Angeles officials released the results of their most recent count: Homelessness was up by 12 percent over last year in the county and up 16 percent in the City of Los Angeles.

That puts L.A. County’s homeless population at 58,936 and the city’s at 36,300.

And yet, communities around the state have been funneling more money into services for the homeless, like L.A.’s Measure H sales tax, which is adding about $355 million each year to the arsenal.

[Read about why some are rethinking homelessness in the Bay Area as a regional issue.]

So why are more people living in squalid conditions on the streets or in cars? Advocates for the homeless say it’s upsetting, but no surprise.

“Our housing crisis is our homeless crisis,” Elise Buik, president and chief executive of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, told me. “And we’ve got to get people to understand that.”

She said that people struggling with mental illness or substance abuse issues and who are living in encampments are often the most visible, but it is a myth that people experiencing homelessness decline help or prefer to live outdoors — one that contributes to misconceptions about the effectiveness of often costly services.

Peter Lynn, executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, emphasized that the Measure H money has significantly increased the number of people the region’s service providers have been able to help.

According to the authority’s data, outreach workers engaged with 34,110 people over the year, which was triple the number before Measure H.

And almost 1,400 permanent supportive housing units built with money from Measure HHH, a $1.2 billion bond, are set to open in the 2019-20 fiscal year.

“I do feel like the first honest year to assess will be to freeze frame from now to next year,” Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles told me late last week.

Ultimately, though, he said housing affordability was the biggest factor driving homelessness.

An Angeleno would need to earn $47.52 an hour just to afford the median monthly rent, according to L.A.H.S.A. figures.

[Read more about why the state has a housing crisis.]

Although there’s broad acknowledgment — from Gov. Gavin Newsom on down — that part of the solution is millions more homes, legislative fixes that would spur housing construction have proven knotty, to say the least.

Senate Bill 50, which was effectively killed for the year, would have allowed for denser development in many areas, including some neighborhoods of single-family homes.

Mr. Garcetti said that bill was “definitely a bad stick for us.”

The bill would threaten neighborhood character, he said. And L.A., he noted, builds more than its proportional share of housing compared with the rest of the county.

Though Mr. Garcetti says he’s in favor of measures that would force other cities that aren’t allowing new construction to add to their housing supplies, he’s been focused on legislation that would slow skyrocketing rents.

(oped: By oldpoet56)( To me, a person who has traveled every city in this Nation above 100,000 population many times in my life the reason for homelessness in these cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco is obvious. The main reason is: people have to live somewhere even if it is in a cardboard box or under a bridge. Housing cost are way to high for a huge amount of the population. Jobs don’t pay enough for people to afford a rent payment. Vehicle costs are so high that people making anywhere near the minimum wages can not afford a ride to a job or job interviews. There are a lot of ‘working poor’ who are simply trying not to starve. If the Federal and State governments would address these issues then a huge percent of the homeless people would not be homeless.)

“This is the No. 1 issue in every city in California,” he said.

7 Incredible Castles in the U.S.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

7 Incredible Castles in the U.S.

7

Incredible Castles in the U.S.

Think you have to travel to Europe to see a jaw-dropping castle? Think again. Although they aren’t nearly as common here as they are in England, there are actually several castles in the United States. Some are hidden, and some are just standing there in plain sight. Here is a list of the seven most incredible castles in the U.S.

Belvedere Castle, New York

Belvedere Castle, New York

Credit: patronestaff/Shutterstock

Did you know there’s a castle in Central Park? Not many people outside New York do. Belvedere Castle was created by Calvert Vaux in 1869 as a way to welcome visitors to the park he helped design. It looks out onto the park’s Great Lawn and gives visitors the opportunity to take in some fantastic views from the top. In fact, the view is so great that it gave the castle its name — “Belvedere” means “Beautiful View” in Italian. This castle is not just beautiful to look at, though, it is also functional. The National Weather Service takes advantage of its location to take measurements of things like wind speed, rainfall amount and temperature for its forecasts.

Montezuma Castle, Arizona

Montezuma Castle, Arizona

Credit: Pamela Au/Shutterstock

Montezuma Castle in Camp Verde, Arizona, is unlike any castle you have ever seen. It is built into the side of a cliff, where it has been sitting for more than 800 years. This pueblo “palace” contains 45 to 50 rooms, but unfortunately you will never be able to get inside to count them. Since 1951, this castle has been off-limits to the public as looters and time have rendered it too fragile for it to be safe. You can still climb up to peer in the windows, though, as you imagine what life must have been like back when it was built.

Castello di Amorosa, California

Castello di Amorosa, California

Credit: KK Stock/Shutterstock

If you have always wanted to visit Italy but can’t afford to leave the States, then head to Castello di Amorosa in California. Visiting this castle is like visiting Tuscany hundreds of years ago — and many visitors don’t realize that it was just completed in 2007 after a 14-year-long building period. Built by Dario Sattui, the great grandson of an Italian immigrant, this 107-room castle is a love letter to Italian culture, as well as a thriving vineyard and winery.

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Scotty’s Castle, California

Scotty's Castle, California

Credit: Nadia Yong/Shutterstock

Located in one of the only green areas of California’s Death Valley, Scotty’s Castle has an interesting history — and one that is full of lies. Rumor has it that this castle was built by a man named Walter Scott, also known as “Death Valley Scotty.” He told everyone that he had built it with a fortune he had gained from a collection of secret mines nearby that only he knew about. In reality, though, the castle was built by Albert and Bessie Johnson, who used it as a vacation home. Walter Scott was a friend of the family, though, and the castle bore his name, even if records show no evidence that he ever actually visited it at all.

Bannerman Castle, New York

Bannerman Castle, New York

Credit: karenfoleyphotography/Shutterstock

Of all the castles in the United States, Bannerman Castle arguably looks the most like an authentic castle from Europe, if only for the fact that it is now in ruins. The castle was built in 1901 by Francis Bannerman VI on Pollepel Island, an island that was once considered to be haunted. This was the perfect place for the owner of a military surplus company to build a fortress in which to store all the weapons he stockpiled during the Civil and Spanish Wars. Unfortunately, there proved to be some sort of curse on the island after all; in 1967, the castle was destroyed by a fire, turning it into a collection of beautiful ruins.

Iolani Palace, Hawaii

Iolani Palace, Hawaii

Credit: Allen.G/Shutterstock

While most of the castles in the United States were built by millionaires, Iolani Palace in Honolulu, Hawaii, is the only one that is an official royal residence. It was built in the early 1880s by Hawaii’s King Kalakaua, one of the last monarchs to ever reign over the region. The very last was his sister, Queen Liliuokalani, who ruled Hawaii after him and lived in the palace he had built. After the monarchy was overthrown in 1893, the castle was kept up and restored, so now it still looks much like it did back then.

Boldt Castle, New York

Boldt Castle, New York

Credit: Victoria Lipov/Shutterstock

The history of the number one castle on our list is a sad one. The idea for Boldt Castle was conceived of by millionaire George C. Boldt, who was also the proprietor of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. He wanted to build a “full size Rhineland castle” on Heart Island in Alexandria Bay as an expression of his love for his wife. He was planning to gift the castle to her … but then something terrible happened. In 1904, Boldt’s beloved wife died. Bereft, Boldt immediately stopped construction on the castle and never returned to the island. The castle sat there, unfinished, for more than 70 years, until the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority bought the property in 1977 and began restoring it for future generations.

New York Will Soon Legalize Marijuana

This article is courtesy of the New York Post

Cuomo readying plan to legalize recreational marijuana

BY MICHAEL BURKE – 12/11/18 03:05 PM EST 11647  00:1500:44More Videos00:44Top headlines for December 10, 201800:44Top headlines for December 9, 201900:44Top headlines for December 8, 201800:44Top headlines for December 7, 201800:44Top headlines for December 6, 201800:44Top headlines for December 5, 201800:44Top headlines for December 3, 201800:44Top headlines for November 30, 2018Close

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) will soon unveil a plan to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, his office announced Tuesday.

“The goal of this administration is to create a model program for regulated adult-use cannabis — and the best way to do that is to ensure our final proposal captures the views of everyday New Yorkers,” Cuomo spokesman Tyrone Stevens told the New York Post.

The aide added that the proposal would come early next year, when Democrats in the state will have control of every branch of New York’s government. 

The Post reported that the plan could be included in Cuomo’s executive budget.

New York state Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, a Democrat from Manhattan, told the Post that recreational marijuana should be legalized but have limitations similar to tobacco.

“We probably wouldn’t allow smoking cannabis out in public, but might allow it in some establishments,” Gottfried said. “The health questions about smoking cannabis are nothing like problems with tobacco, in part because no one would smoke a comparable quantity.”

Cuomo’s position on marijuana has shifted significantly in recent years. He told reporters in February of last year that he opposed the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, calling it a “gateway drug.”

“It’s a gateway drug, and marijuana leads to other drugs and there’s a lot of proof that that’s true,” he said at the time.

While running for reelection this past August, however, Cuomo created a state panel and tasked it with coming up with a plan to legalize recreational marijuana.

Cuomo’s challenger in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in September, actress and progressive activist Cynthia Nixon, had backed the legalization of the drug.

Nixon said in April it was time for New York to “follow the lead” of other states that had legalized marijuana for recreational use. 

Money from marijuana legalization could fix MTA: report

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK POST)

 

Money from marijuana legalization could fix MTA: report

An NYU think tank is high on fixing the cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

A new report out Wednesday by the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management urges the statewide legalization of recreational marijuana — in order to get more green into mass transit.

“No new revenue source can match a tax on weed, ” Mitchell Moss, director of the Rudin Center, asserted to The Post. “New Yorkers deserve a subway system that is as productive as they are. It is time for New York to legalize and tax cannabis — and to designate the revenues for mass transit.”

A potential tax imposed on marijuana — if pot becomes legalized in New York — “would provide a way for the MTA to address many of their operating and capital requirements,” the center said.

Marijuana is currently legal for adult recreational use in 10 states, plus Washington, DC.

The report, citing BDS Analytics — a leading source for cannabis industry data — says the legal pot industry in North America reached $9.2 billion in 2017 and “is projected to generate $47.3 billion over the next decade.”

“This report argues that the subways need a dedicated revenue source with the potential for growth in future decades — one that does not divert funds from other public services, and that has yet to be tapped by the state and local government,” the paper reads.

Several states, including Colorado, Washington and Oregon, have already reported “higher-than-expected tax revenues” from the legalization of marijuana, the report notes

The state Health Department has already backed the legalization of recreational cannabis.

In July, the department released a report saying that legal marijuana sales could generate between $248.1 million and $677.7 million in revenue for the state in the first year alone.

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Politically Correct: The Acidic Evil That Is American Politics

Politically Correct: The Acidic Evil That Is American Politics

Good evening folks, tonight I wish to speak with you about a subject matter that is not near or dear to my heart, it is called political correctness. This subject matter touches each and every one of us on a regular basis in our daily lives. In its simplest form political correctness is the attempt to avoid offending anyone at anytime regardless of the subject matter. I believe that when most of us hear the term political correctness it is not a smile that crosses our face, it is more likely to be a disgusted frown. Today if a person says anything about a subject matter when it may in any way shed a light of truth on the events of today, if that truth in the slightest degree has any measure of negatives then you will be labeled as a hater. There was a time in this country when people were allowed to be honest in their speech but unfortunately that is not the case these days. Now if you say anything about anyone person or persons even if you are speaking the total truth to the best of your knowledge, you have become a hater or some kind of a bigot whom is very likely to be sued in court because you dared to be honest. In the past we could describe a dirty old man in simple terms/truths, these days political correctness (stupidity) airbrushed the truth stains away so that you don’t offend that dirty old man. These days that person is a sexually focused chronologically gifted individual. Laziness is now referred to as motivationally deficient. I am now no longer short being only five feet eleven and three-quarters inches tall, I am vertically challenged because I didn’t make it to at least six feet. It is comforting to know that I didn’t really have trouble with algebraic equations in college, I simply had a memory deficiency.

 

We could all just sit back in our Lazy Boy recliners with a glass of Jose Cuervo in one hand and a big blunt in the other and just sit back and laugh at American politicians and media talking heads as they spout this stupidity. The scary part of this is that what we the people call stupidity/political correctness, some of the fore mentioned people cultivate this ignorance as their personal gospel. This ignorance is a gospel of re-education and it does show via the ignorance and apathy we see and hear when today’s streamlined, bought and paid for politicians open their mouths. Today at almost all of our college campuses as well as the secondary and primary schools this re-education propaganda is widely referred to as diversity education. This ignorance that our politicians and the media push down our throats tries to please everyone all of the time and to never offend anyone any of the time. This is a nice story line if it were in a small child’s fantasy or Fantasy Island handbook but in the real world it is simply poison. Most all of us adults know that political correctness if allowed to play out and to become the laws of the land, we are all doomed to be the laughing-stock of the whole world. Today if people dare attempt to speak the truth about real world issues they are branded as haters or we are people with stone-age ideologies. Truth is that when people do dare to speak the truth on real issues what you say will most likely offend some people whom do not happen to agree with you. When we are cultivated away from the truth and told we can’t say such things isn’t this the same thing as saying to advance in our society today that you must either be and idiot, or an habitual liar?

 

For those who might think that this mental disease is a spin-off of the 1960’s and 70’s hippy drug culture then you need to crack open some college level history books and increase your knowledge on this subject matter. My friends, political correctness has been around and practiced through other cultures around the world far longer than any of us have been alive. Political correctness is really nothing more than cultural Marxism in some professors views and I can’t say that I disagree with them. If we compare the basic tenets of political correctness with classical Marxism the parallels of the two are very obvious. When Marxist Communists take over a country such as Russia, China, North Korea or Cuba the personal freedom of speech ceases to exist.

 

I leave you tonight with just one last observation, isn’t it amazing how much Russia and her politics have turned to look more like our politicians rhetorical babbling? Or, is it more correct to say that our government is starting to look more like the Russia of President Putin or even that of Germany of the mid 1930’s in that free honest intelligent conversation can be construed as a hate crime? Is political correctness in places like D.C., Hollywood and New York City going to be a nail in America’s coffin? Time will tell us all what the truth is but I totally have my doubts that anyone alive today will live long enough to see that day. Friends, good night, stay well, God Bless.

The Bill And The B.S.

The Bill And The B.S.

 

So the Politicians in Washington were actually able to work together enough to get a Budget Bill passed, congrats to them on this achievement. Yet We The People have the right to say to those folks that it is about damn time you did something that wasn’t bi-polar! Example being, we see and realize that as soon as a Bill is passed, any Bill, right away you get party spin about any good things that your party liked or didn’t. Trouble is most anything ever passed, and very little is passed, is all one Party sided. Personally my political views are independent of either Party and personally I believe that most people are. We often end up voting for, if we vote at all or even register for that matter, the one we consider to be the least of the two evils. I agree with neither Party Platform, some of the things that the Democrats are for, I am for. But also I am against some of their views, just as I am with the Republicans and some of their views. Until the liberal left of the Democratic Party and the far right of the Republican Party begin to hold only a little sway within their own leaderships will the individual Representative be unhindered to vote their own and their voters own conscience.

They are (mostly all) full of it and we the public are so sick of all of them (almost all). I am sick of both party leaderships. It is they that always put so much interior pressure on the people that we voted into office. I voted for my Kentucky Congressman and Senator, I did not vote for their party leaders to dictate to them how they vote. I did not vote for an New York or the California Representative, and no one should have the power to dictate to them how they will vote on any issue, except the voter who voted them in. Then, we would have a democracy where the people rule, not some tiny Round Table with only five or six Players.

Erdogan protesters beaten and ejected from New York speech

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Erdogan protesters beaten and ejected from New York speech

Media captionAnti-Erdogan demonstrators are punched as they are removed from a New York hotel

Violence erupted at a New York hotel after protesters heckled a speech by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with chants of “terrorist”.

Mr Erdogan was addressing supporters in Turkish at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square when he was interrupted by several demonstrators.

“You’re a terrorist, get out of my country,” one protester shouted before he was punched and dragged away.

Mr Erdogan is in New York for the UN General Assembly.

A protester is removed from a New York room during a speech by Turkey's President Recep Tayyip ErdoganImage copyrightVOA

In footage from the speech on Thursday, protesters are seen being pushed and punched in the head as they are ejected from the venue by suited men.

It is not clear at this stage if they were pro-Erdogan attendees, presidential bodyguards, or guards providing security at the hotel.

The demonstrators, who later posted images of the clashes on social media, said their aim was to publicly condemn the president’s policies in Turkey, Syria and Iraq.

Some protesters carried flags and banners in support of the Kurdish militant group, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Mr Erdogan sees the YPG as an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades. He has repeatedly said that he will never accept a US alliance with Kurdish forces fighting in Syria.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan gives a thumbs up to supporters outside of The Peninsula hotel on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 20, 2017.Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionPresident Erdogan is in New York for the UN General Assembly

Supporters of Mr Erdogan can be heard shouting the president’s name in the footage, in attempts to muffle the protesters’ chants.

One protester, Meghan Bodette, wrote on Twitter that she had been “thrown out” of the hotel.

“Yes. I stood up with YPJ flag… was pulled from chair and removed,” she wrote, adding: “I got escorted out and ran, some friends were briefly questioned.”

The YPJ is an all-female Kurdish military group – the women’s equivalent of the YPG.

Another Twitter user, Gissur Simonarson‏, posted images taken from amateur video footage showing a number of protesters being violently attacked.

One eyewitness, Halil Demir, said he saw a man being pushed to the ground after interrupting Mr Erdogan’s speech. Mr Demir said he later saw a second man outside the hotel in handcuffs on the floor, the New York Times reports.

Mr Erdogan was speaking at the invitation of the Turkish American National Steering Committee.

The New York Police Department said that about five protesters had been “briefly detained” but that no arrests were made.

In May, eleven people were injured and two arrested outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington DC, after a brawl broke out between supporters and opponents of Mr Erdogan.

The US summoned the Turkish ambassador over the incident, which Washington police called a “brutal attack on peaceful protesters”.

The Turkish embassy denied that, saying the demonstrators had aggressively provoked Turkish-Americans gathering to greet Mr Erdogan, and that they had responded in self-defense.

New York Health Dept. Proposes Medical Marijuana Improvements

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MPP WEBSITE)

 

New York Health Dept. Proposes Medical Marijuana Improvements

 Aug 10, 2017  


The New York Department of Health proposed additional changes to the state’s medical marijuana program today. While the official proposed regulations will not be released until August 23, the changes appear to be very positive. Once the rules are released, the public will have 30 days to comment.
New forms of medicine would be allowed, including topicals and chewable lozenges, as well as “[c]ertain non-smokable forms of ground plant material,” which will hopefully be clarified in the full text of the regulations. Having whole plant cannabis available for vaporization could dramatically reduce prices for patients, and we will seek to make sure it’s permitted.
Other changes would reduce burdens on medical professionals, hopefully encouraging more of them to participate. For more information and the complete list of proposed changes, you can read the Department of Health’s full announcement.

If You’re A Poor Person In America, Trump’s Budget Is Not For You

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

If you’re a poor person in America, Trump’s budget is not for you

March 16 at 11:40 AM

If you’re a poor person in America, President Trump’s budget proposal is not for you.

Trump has unveiled a budget that would slash or abolish programs that have provided low-income Americans with help on virtually all fronts, including affordable housing, banking, weatherizing homes, job training, paying home heating oil bills, and obtaining legal counsel in civil matters.

During the presidential campaign last year, Trump vowed that the solution to poverty was giving poor people incentives to work. But most of the proposed cuts in his budget target programs designed to help the working poor, as well as those who are jobless, cope.

And many of them carry out their missions by disbursing money to the states, which establish their own criteria.

“This is a budget that pulled the rug out from working families and hurts the very people who President Trump promised to stand up for in rural America and in small towns,” said Melissa Boteach, vice president of the poverty to prosperity program at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington.

The White House budget cuts will fall hardest on the rural and small town communities that Trump won, where one in three people are living paycheck to paycheck — a rate that is 24 percent higher than in urban counties, according to a new analysis by the center.

The budget proposes housing “reforms” that add up to more than $6 billion in cuts while promising to continue assisting the nation’s 4.5 million low-income households. If enacted, the proposed budget would result in the most severe cut to the Department of Housing and Urban Development since the early 1980s, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Trump’s budget plan, by the numbers

President Trump just released his budget plan for the next fiscal year, which proposes some big changes in government spending. Here’s a look at what agencies are helped and hurt by the proposal. (Video: Jenny Starrs/Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

It would also eliminate the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates the federal response to homelessness across 19 federal agencies.

The administration’s reforms include eliminating funding for a $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program, one of the longest continuously run HUD programs that’s been in existence since 1974.

The program provides cities with money to address a range of community development needs such as affordable housing, rehabilitating homes in neighborhoods hardest hit by foreclosures, and preventing or eliminating slums and community blight. It also provides funding for Meals on Wheels, a national nonprofit that delivers food to homebound seniors.

Robert Rector, a senior fellow who focuses on welfare at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington-based think tank, calls the community block grants a “slush fund for urban government.”

The White House touts its cuts to what the administration characterizes as “a number of lower priority programs” as a way to “promote fiscal responsibility.” In actuality, it guts federal funding for affordable housing and kicks the financial responsibility of those programs to states and local governments.

Gone would be $35 million in funding for well-known programs such as Habitat for Humanity and Youth Build USA, fair housing planning, and homeless assistance, among other housing help for needy Americans.

Other targets include funding for neighborhood development and a home-buying program through which low-income individuals help build their own homes. Trump also plans to cut the Home Investment Partnership Program, the largest federal grant to state and local governments that is designed to create affordable housing.

“There is no coordinated plan for how to fulfill the same mission. Saying states, local governments and philanthropy are going to help is just passing the buck,” said a HUD official who is not authorized to speak to the media.

The official said workers at the agency Thursday morning were feeling “demoralized” and “worried.”

“This is just a tough, tough time,” the official said. “HUD is no different from any other domestic agency in just feeling as though these cuts are all very arbitrary and unnecessary.”

Poor people need not lean on community banks for financial help, either, because Trump plans to eliminate the $210 million now dedicated toward Community Development Financial Institutions. The program, administered through the Treasury Department, invests in community banks that provide loans and financial services to people living in some of the most distressed communities of the country.

“Cutting that program would be nothing short of a disaster, and the ripple effect would be felt in urban areas and some rural areas all over America,” said Michael A. Grant, president of the National Bankers Association, a lobbying group for black-owned banks.

The administration would also eliminate the Energy Department’s weatherization assistance program, which dates back to 1976 when Gerald Ford was president. Since then, it has provided states with grants that have helped insulate the homes of about 7 million families, using low-cost techniques that have large payoffs, saving money for those families and curtailing U.S. energy consumption. It has also helped establish weatherization job training centers in states such as Utah and New York.

Also on the chopping block: the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known widely by its acronym LIHEAP. This program, part of the Health and Human Services budget, helps homeowners cover monthly energy costs, or repair broken or inefficient furnaces and air conditioners. The program is usually underfunded; LIHEAP says that on average, only about 20 percent of the households that qualify for assistance receive benefits before the money runs out. Congress sometimes adds funding during emergencies or energy shortages when costs spike.

Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate the Community Services Block Grant, a $715 million program within HHS that funds more than 1,000 local anti-poverty organizations around the country. The organizations provide services ranging from job training to food assistance to more than 16 million people in 3,000 counties. The grants also help communities respond quickly to natural disasters, plant closures and other economic shifts.

Without the grants, there would be little coordination between faith groups, local governments, private companies and nonprofits in addressing the needs of the poor — “just a few unconnected programs that don’t have nearly the impact they have now,” said David Bradley, who founded the National Community Action Foundation and wrote the legislation behind the grants in the early ’80s.

Bradley, though, is “absolutely confident” that Congress will reject the proposal.

“This is the work of a radical right that goes hard after anti-poverty programs,” he said.

The Trump budget would also target the Legal Services Corp., an independent agency that provided $343 million to 134 legal aid organizations for the poor who are tangled up in cases of wrongful eviction, custody disputes, child support or domestic violence.

Legal Services was launched as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty with the support of the American Bar Association led by Lewis F. Powell Jr., who later served on the Supreme Court. President Richard Nixon later created a free-standing corporation to administer legal aid funds.

“Here each day the old, the unemployed, the underprivileged, and the largely forgotten people of our Nation may seek help,” Nixon wrote in a 1971 message to Congress. “Perhaps it is an eviction, a marital conflict, repossession of a car, or misunderstanding over a welfare check — each problem may have a legal solution. These are small claims in the Nation’s eye, but they loom large in the hearts and lives of poor Americans.”

In 2015, Legal Services offices closed 755,774 cases — more than 100 for every lawyer and paralegal employed. About 70 percent of its clients are women, and the majority of its clients are white and between the ages of 36 and 59. The program provides lawyers only to people earning no more than 125 percent of the federal poverty guideline, which is currently $15,075 for an individual and $30,750 for a family of four.

“We have a legal system that was created by lawyers for lawyers and assumes you have a lawyer,” said James J. Sandman, president of Legal Services Corp. “If you’re a tenant facing eviction and you’re up against a landlord who has a lawyer, if you’re the victim of domestic violence from someone who has a lawyer, you are not playing on a level field. Legal aid is about fairness in the justice system.”

Alaska’s rural poor get hit by the budget proposal, too, despite having two Republican senators. The Agriculture budget would eliminate the Denali Commission, designed to deliver services to remote, rural communities in Alaska, including Native Americans. The commission, established in 1998, contributes to the construction of health-care facilities, water and sewer systems, power generation and communication systems.

The budget would also zero out funds to help native Alaskan villages obtain access to clean drinking water and modern sewage systems.

Cuts to the Agriculture budget also eliminate the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority that encourage economic growth in distressed rural communities. And while the budget allocates $6.2 billion to “serve all projected participants” in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, that is $150 million less than USDA had budgeted.

The White House proposed shrinking Job Corps, a program administered by the Labor Department that provides education and job training to more than 60,000 young people and disadvantaged youth. The proposal called for closing centers that do a “poor job” of preparing students for the workforce, but did not elaborate on how many of the 125 centers nationwide would be targeted.

Job Corps, which was created in 1965 as part of President Johnson’s anti-poverty agenda, helps young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 earn high school diplomas and receive vocational training.

The program faced scrutiny several years ago for going over budget and has been forced to freeze enrollment multiple times since 2011 because of the monetary shortfalls. In 2013, a report from the Office of Inspector General found that the budgetary missteps were caused by inaccurate cost estimates and inconsistent monitoring of actual costs. But since then, the program has taken several steps to keep better track of costs and payments.

The Trump administration would also ax the Senior Community Service Employment Program, which aims to help low-income job seekers age 55 and up find work by pairing them with nonprofit organizations and public agencies. The loss of the program could serve as another setback for older Americans who are still struggling to find steady work after the Great Recession.

The unemployment rate for workers 55-plus was 3.4 percent in February, according to the most recent jobs report. But the rate rises to 7.1 percent if workers with part-time jobs who want to be working full-time, and those who have given up on the job search within the past year, are included, according the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School.

The goal of the senior employment program is to help participants find permanent work by providing them with training and job experience. Workers are assigned part-time jobs and paid the minimum wage, with the hope that the experience can help them find jobs that are not subsidized by the government. In its budget proposal, the Trump administration called the approach “ineffective” because up to one-third of participants do not complete the program. Of those who do finish, about half succeed in finding more permanent jobs.

Not everyone, though, believes the cuts will be a disaster for the poor.

Rector, of the Heritage Foundation, said the cuts cannot be evaluated in isolation when they represent less than 1 percent of the $1.1 trillion the government spent on more than 80 poverty programs last year.

“The basic line from the left is ‘this program alone is standing between the poor and destitution,’” Rector said. “We have a very large welfare state, and there is waste in that welfare state. It’s important to prune the waste and make these programs much more effective.”

Jonnelle Marte and Caitlin Dewey contributed to this article.

Read more on the budget: 

Former St. Louis Reporter Arrested For Making Bomb Threats Against Jewish Institutions

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

New York (CNN) A former reporter who was fired for fabricating sources was arrested Friday and accused of making some of the bomb threats against Jewish institutions that have so rattled Jews recently.

Juan Thompson, 31, was charged with one count of cyber-stalking for making at least eight threats as part of an attempt to intimidate a particular person after their romantic relationship ended, according to a criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of New York.
The accusation against Thompson accounts for just a small minority of the 101 total bomb threats that have been received by Jewish institutions since 2017 began, according to data from the JCC Association of North America.
“No one has been arrested for making the nationwide robocall JCC threats,” New York State Police’s Beau Duffy said. “That’s still an active FBI investigation.”
The complaint alleges Thompson had emailed and phoned in threats to the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish institutions. Some of those threats mentioned a “Jewish Newtown,” according to the complaint, an apparent reference to the infamous 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
Thompson made some of the threats in the victim’s name, while others were made in his own name, according to the complaint. Thompson then claimed that those threats had actually been made by the victim in an attempt to frame him, the complaint alleges.
It could not be immediately determined if Thompson has an attorney.
Jewish community centers and schools have been the targets of a series of bomb threats made via telephone since 2017 began, sparking fears of rising anti-Semitism around the country.

Juan Thompson

Thompson’s arrest, in St. Louis, was the result of the ongoing investigation into those bomb threats, officials said.
“Thompson’s alleged pattern of harassment not only involved the defamation of his female victim, but his threats intimidated an entire community,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said in a statement.

Former reporter

Thompson previously worked as a reporter for The Intercept, the online news publication, according to previous CNN reporting and a review of Thompson’s Twitter account.
Several tweets from his Twitter account, @JuanMThompson, are referenced in the criminal complaint. That Twitter account is linked to articles bearing his byline at The Intercept.
Thompson was fired from the website in 2016 for fabricating quotes, The Intercept’s editor-in-chief wrote at the time in a special note to readers. He had worked there from November 2014 until January 2016.
In one story, Thompson quoted a man he identified as the cousin of Dylan Roof, the man convicted of killing nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina. Intercept editors retracted that story after members of Roof’s family said they did not know of that cousin.

Jewish groups react

Evan Bernstein, the New York regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, praised the arrest of Thompson but noted that the threats remained an issue.
“The diligence of law enforcement at such a critical time for the Jewish community is very reassuring,” said Bernstein. “Just because there’s been an arrest today around our bomb threat does not mean that the threats have disappeared or will stop.”

FBI director James Comey met with JCC leaders on Friday.

Leaders in the Jewish community met with FBI director James Comey on Friday to discuss the recent spate of threats against Jewish institutions, according to the JCC Association of North America.
The JCC released a photo of the meeting and said in a press release that leaders had the “highest confidence” that the FBI would resolve the issue as quickly as possible.
Despite the many threats, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller affirmed that there has been “no specific, credible threat of violence” made to Jewish institutions in New York.
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