Family homelessness rising in the United States


A man sweeps the area outside his tent with a broken broom at “tent city”, a terminus for the homeless in Ontario, a suburb outside Los Angeles, California December 19, 2007. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President-elect Barack Obama has vowed to help middle-class U.S. homeowners facing foreclosure, but he has said little about how he will help low-income families made homeless by a worsening economy.

Obama has spoken broadly about boosting affordable housing and restoring public housing subsidies. But with economists forecasting a deep recession in 2009, he may find it hard to find the money to fulfill those promises soon.

At the same time, advocacy groups and the country’s czar for combating homelessness say immediate action is needed to halt the foreclosures of tens of thousands of homes and rehouse thousands of families amid the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

“President-elect Obama understands the economy will only get back on track if we end the foreclosure crisis. And he realizes that part of ending the crisis is both preventing and ending homelessness for families losing their homes,” said Jeremy Rosen of the National Policy and Advocacy Council on Homelessness.

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World is facing a natural resources crisis worse than financial crunch

• Two planets need by 2030 at this rate, warns report
• Humans using 30% more resources than sustainable

The world is heading for an “ecological credit crunch” far worse than the current financial crisis because humans are over-using the natural resources of the planet, an international study warns today.

The Living Planet report calculates that humans are using 30% more resources than the Earth can replenish each year, which is leading to deforestation, degraded soils, polluted air and water, and dramatic declines in numbers of fish and other species. As a result, we are running up an ecological debt of $4tr (£2.5tr) to $4.5tr every year – double the estimated losses made by the world’s financial institutions as a result of the credit crisis – say the report’s authors, led by the conservation group WWF, formerly the World Wildlife Fund. The figure is based on a UN report which calculated the economic value of services provided by ecosystems destroyed annually, such as diminished rainfall for crops or reduced flood protection.

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Homeless numbers are alarming


Thomas Malinowski, 48, who lived on New York’s streets for 13 years, sits on his cot in the “Safe Haven” shelter in Manhattan on January 21, 2007.

FORECLOSURES INCREASING

A surge in families seeking housing aid or shelter has followed rising home foreclosures nationwide.

Foreclosures Jan.-Aug.

2006: 801,354

2007: 1,341,295

2008: 2,049,782

Source: RealtyTrac

More families with children are becoming homeless as they face mounting economic pressures, including mortgage foreclosures, according to a USA TODAY survey of a dozen of the largest cities in the nation.

Local authorities say the number of families seeking help has risen in Atlanta, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle and Washington.

“Everywhere I go, I hear there is an increase” in the need for housing aid, especially for families, says Philip Mangano, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates federal programs. He says the main causes are job losses and foreclosures.

Other factors have been higher food and fuel prices hitting families with “no cushion,” says Nan Roman of the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

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Hedge Fund Manager: Goodbye and F—- You

From the Scorched Earth Files:

Andrew Lahde, manager of a small California hedge fund, Lahde Capital, burst into the spotlight last year after his one-year-old fund returned 866 percent betting against the subprime collapse.

Last month, he did the unthinkable — he shut things down, claiming dealing with his bank counterparties had become too risky. Today, Lahde passed along his “goodbye” letter, a rollicking missive on everything from greed to economic philosophy. Enjoy.

Today I write not to gloat. Given the pain that nearly everyone is experiencing, that would be entirely inappropriate. Nor am I writing to make further predictions, as most of my forecasts in previous letters have unfolded or are in the process of unfolding. Instead, I am writing to say goodbye.

Recently, on the front page of Section C of the Wall Street Journal, a hedge fund manager who was also closing up shop (a $300 million fund), was quoted as saying, “What I have learned about the hedge fund business is that I hate it.” I could not agree more with that statement. I was in this game for the money. The low hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking. These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy, only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.

There are far too many people for me to sincerely thank for my success. However, I do not want to sound like a Hollywood actor accepting an award. The money was reward enough. Furthermore, the endless list those deserving thanks know who they are.

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Lahde quits hedge funds, thanking “stupid” traders for making him rich.

NEW YORK, Oct 17 (Reuters) – Andrew Lahde, the hedge fund founder who shot to fame with his small fund that soared 870 percent last year on bets against U.S. subprime home loans, has called it quits, thanking “stupid” traders for making him rich.

In a biting, but humorous letter to investors posted on the website of Portfolio magazine on Friday, Lahde told investors last month he will no longer manage money because his bank counterparties had become too risky.

Lahde ripped his profession in the letter. He noted another hedge-fund manager who recently closed shop and was quoted in The Wall Street Journal as saying: “What I have learned about the hedge fund business is that I hate it.” To which Lahde responded, “I could not agree more with that statement.

“The low-hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking,” said Lahde, who according to the website birthdates.com is 37.

“These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy, only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.”

Read moreLahde quits hedge funds, thanking “stupid” traders for making him rich.

Police clash with police in Brazil violence

Striking police officers were embroiled in a mass-melee with hundreds of their own colleagues in riot gear who policed their protest, amid bizarre scenes in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo.

The clashes between state police and plainclothes investigators last night came after the demonstrators tried to break through a barrier protecting the state government palace. Officers fired shots, tear gas and shock bombs, and the scuffles broke out.

Critics will highlight the incident as another example of the chaotic and dysfunctional nature of policing in Brazil. Last year, the UN pointed out that very low salaries – over which officers are currently striking – encourage widespread corruption, with many police units forming their own vigilante groups, death squads and militias.

It also sharply criticised Brazilian police for major human rights violations, pointing out that many of the 694 deaths caused by officers between January and June 2007 in Rio were likely to have been extra-judicial killings.

Officers are also known to engage in gunfire with Rio’s heavily armed drug gangs. Innocent civilians are often caught in the crossfire.

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India terrorised by holy war

A holy war in India has left tens of thousands of Christians crammed into relief camps, too scared to return home following weeks of clashes with Hindu mobs in which at least 35 people have died.

More than 40,000 Christians have had to flee their homes in Kandhamal district, one of India’s poorest, in the eastern state of Orissa. Their homes have been systematically attacked, looted and burned down by Hindu mobs since the end of August as the local police have looked on helplessly.

“Villagers have threatened to kill me because I am a Christian. They have said I will be welcome back only if I change my religion and become a Hindu,” said Jibit Kumar Digal, 30, who has spent over a month in a relief camp at Baliguda, 200 south west of the provincial capital Bhubaneswar.

Aligned to the radical Hindu Opposition Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the marauding mobs supported by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad or World Hindu Council, are alleged to have killed Christians by burnign them alive, gang-raped a nun and destroyed over 140 churches and orphanages across Kandhamal.

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Zeitgeist: Addendum

Related: Zeitgeist, The Movie, Final Edition


Added: Oct 3, 2008

Source: Google Video

American financier kills his family and himself after losing fortune in credit crunch


Tragedy: A coroner’s assistant brings out a body

A businessman gunned down five members of his family then shot himself after seeing his family’s fortune wiped out by the stock market collapse.

Karthik Rajaram, 45, who had made almost £900,000 on the London stock market, shot his wife, three children and mother-in-law in the head before turning the gun on himself at the family home near Los Angeles.

He was found with the gun still in his hand.

In a suicide note to police, he blamed the killings on financial hardship brought on by a collapse in shares.

Los Angeles Police Deputy Chief Michael Moore said: ‘The source of it appears to be a financial state, a crisis that this man became embroiled in that has unfolded over the past weeks.

‘We believe he has become despondent recently over financial dealings and the financial situation of his household and that this is a direct result of that.

‘This is a perfect American family behind me that has absolutely been destroyed,’ he added. ‘It is critical for us to step up and recognise we are in some pretty troubled times.’

Using a handgun bought on 16 September, Rajaram went from room to room, picking off the family one-by-one.

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France’s former elite go on trial over arms trade

The son of a former French president, an Israeli-Russian billionaire and a tycoon with ties to Arizona’s jet set were among the headliners yesterday as 42 defendants went on trial in Paris, accused in a worldwide web of trafficked arms to Angola, money laundering and kickbacks.

Defense lawyers and Angola’s government are trying to stop the show, however, arguing the trial has no right to go on.

Prosecutors allege that between 1993 and 1998, two key suspects – French magnate Pierre Falcone, a longtime resident of Scottsdale, Arizona, and Arkady Gaydamak, an Israeli businessman based in France at the time – organized a total of $791 million in Russian arms sales to Angola, a breach of French government rules.

Most of the other suspects are accused of receiving money or gifts, undeclared to tax authorities, from a company run by Falcone in exchange for political or commercial favors. Investigators say the corruption grew into a tangle of laundered money and parallel diplomacy that left a stain on France’s relations with Africa.

Among the defendants who filed into a Paris courthouse Monday were icons of France’s political elite – including late President Francois Mitterrand’s eldest son, Jean-Christophe, and an economic adviser to current President Nicolas Sarkozy, Jacques Attali.

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