Annual Fundraising Appeal
Over the course of 21 years, we’ve published many unflattering stories about Henry Kissinger. We’ve recounted his involvement in the Chilean coup and the illegal bombings of Cambodia and Laos; his hidden role in the Kent State massacre and the genocide in East Timor; his noxious influence peddling in DC and craven work for dictators and repressive regimes around the world. We’ve questioned his ethics, his morals and his intelligence. We’ve called for him to be arrested and tried for war crimes. But nothing we’ve ever published pissed off HK quite like this sequence of photos taken at a conference in Brazil, which appeared in one of the early print editions of CounterPunch.
100716HenryKissingerNosePicking
The publication of those photos, and the story that went with them, 20 years ago earned CounterPunch a global audience in the pre-web days and helped make our reputation as a fearless journal willing to take the fight to the forces of darkness without flinching. Now our future is entirely in your hands. Please donate.

Day12Fixed

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
cp-store

or use
pp1

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

What Does It Say About Us?

Killer Fires and the Homeless

by BILL QUIGLEY

Eight young people, who the Fire Department said were “trying to stay warm,” perished in a raging fire during the night in New Orleans.  The young people were squatting in an abandoned wood framed tin walled warehouse in a Ninth Ward neighborhood bordering a large train yard.  The young people apparently had a barrel with wood burning in it for heat.  Officials said this was the city’s most deadly fire in twenty five years.

The eight young people, estimated to be in their late teens and early twenties, remain unidentified.  “We don’t know their IDs,” said the Fire Department, “they were so burned we cannot even tell their genders.”   

Audrey, a young woman with brown dreads and a Polish last name, arrived at the scorched scene. She spent the night in the warehouse a couple of times.  Because last night was so cold she and a few others begged money from people in the French Quarter and got enough to spend the night in a hotel.  Do you know who was in there?  “Usually 10 to 15 people, nobody uses last names, but Katy, Jeff, Sammy, Nicky, John and Mooncat usually stay there,” she sobbed.  Why did people stay here?  “A lot of freight hoppers stay here,” she said, pointing to the nearby trains.  “We are just passing through, hopping trains. We don’t have any money.”  Behind her a group of young people were crying and hugging as they picked up pieces of a navy blue sweatshirt from the burnt remains.

There are an estimated 1.6 to 2.8 million homeless youth in the US, people between the ages of 12 and 24, according to a June 2010 report of the Center for American Progress.  Most are homeless because of abuse, neglect, and family conflict.  Gay and transgender youth are strikingly over-represented.    

The fire happened in an area of abandoned warehouses at the end of Prieur Street, two blocks towards the train tracks down from the new Family Dollar on Claiborne.  It is a modest neighborhood.  Some people are back, some aren’t.  One block from the warehouses is a long lime green shotgun house with a beautiful red rose bush in front. Next door stands a big grey double shotgun with a wide open door and tattered curtains hanging out broken windows.  Untouched since Katrina, the grey house sports OWNER HAS DOG spray painted on the front and the date, 10.8.5.  “After Katrina, people don’t have the money to fix their houses up,” said the firefighter.     

Across the street from the blackened warehouse is a vacant lot with a tiny handmade wooden shelter at its end.  No electricity, no water.  Inside are a mattress and some clothes.  Follow the path through the weeds and there is another long vacant building that looks like it was once a school.  Clearly people stay here as well.  Empty cans of baked beans, chili, and Vienna sausages are piled next to Four Loko cans, jars of peanut butter, and empty juice boxes.  “Where’s our skate park?” is painted onto the wall in blazing red.  A Thanksgiving card with a teddy bear on the outside lies on the pavement.  Nana wishes the best to granddaughter Heather and son Dave.    

New Orleans has 3,000 to 6,000 homeless people living in abandoned buildings according to an August 2010 report by Unity of Greater New Orleans.  The report, “Search and Rescue Five Years Later: Saving People Still Trapped in Katrina’s Ruins,” notes homelessness has doubled since Katrina.   Seventy-five percent of the people in those buildings are survivors of Hurricane Katrina.  Outreach workers report many are disabled but many also work.  Inside abandoned buildings live full-time sitters and restaurant workers.

Since Katrina, New Orleans has a severe homeless problem because of the scarcity of affordable housing.  HUD and local governments demolished over 4000 affordable public housing apartments after Katrina.  “The current housing crisis in New Orleans reflects the disastrous impact of the demolition policy,” according to the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing in a February 2010 report very critical of the United States.  Rents rose.  Tens of thousands of homes remain vacant.  Over 30,000 families are on the waiting list for affordable housing.

A November 2010 report from the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center pegs the number of vacant and blighted properties at over 40,000 in New Orleans with more in the suburbs ? 14,000 of which are owned by the government.

Unity for the Homeless has been asking for help for people living in abandoned buildings for years.  They have four outreach workers who nightly check on people living in abandoned buildings.  Five recommendations from Unity to help these thousands of people: convert abandoned building into housing for the homeless; fund case managers to help people with disabilities move into housing; additional outreach and housing search workers; create a small shelter with intensive services for people with mental health problems who are resistant to shelters; and serious investment in affordable rental housing.  There are several hundred housing vouchers available for disabled homeless people but no money to fund the caseworkers they need.

Nationally, the US has severely cut its investment in affordable housing despite increasing need from the foreclosure and economic crises.  Homelessness is of course up all over.  The U.S. Conference of Mayors reported in December 2010 that demands for food and housing are up across the country.  The causes?  Unemployment, high housing costs and low wages.  

Will we look into our abandoned buildings and look into the eyes of our abandoned daughters and sons and sisters and brothers? Will our nation address unemployment, high housing costs, and low wages?  Will we address the abuse, neglect, and family conflict that create homelessness for millions of youth, especially gay and transgender youth?  Or will the fires continue and the lives end? 

BILL QUIGLEY is Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and law professor at Loyola University New Orleans.  You can reach Bill at quigley77@gmail.com