We kid you not


United States: UN investigator slams 'shameful neglect' of homeless

"A United Nations special investigator who was blocked from visiting the US by the Bush administration has accused the American government of pouring billions of dollars into rescuing banks and big business while treating as 'invisible' a deepening homeless crisis.

"Raquel Rolnik, the UN special rapporteur for the right to adequate housing, who has just completed a seven-city tour of America, said it was shameful that a country as wealthy as the US was not spending more money on lifting its citizens out of homelessness and substandard, overcrowded housing.

"The US government does not tally the numbers but interested organisations say that more than 3 million people were homeless at some point over the past year. The fastest growing segment of the homeless population is families with children, often single parents. On any given night in Los Angeles, about 17,000 parents and children are homeless."

— The November 12 British Guardian

United States: Millions struggle for food

"The number of Americans who lack dependable access to adequate food shot up last year to 49 million, the largest number since the Government has been keeping track.

"In 2008, the report found, nearly 17 million children — more than one in five across the US — were living in households in which food at times ran short, up from slightly more than 12 million children the year before."

— The November 17 Sydney Morning Herald

Wall Street defends return to record bonuses

"Executives at the Reuters Global Finance Summit rallied to the defense of the industry's resurgent bonus practices, arguing that there was no clear link between generous compensation and last year's market meltdown …

"Recent reports indicating that near-record amounts will be paid out just months after many firms benefited from government bailout moves have raised public outrage …

"Goldman Sachs Group Inc, for example, has already set aside nearly $17 billion to pay its people at the end of the year."

— A November 18 Reuters article.

United States: Of the rich, by the rich, for the rich

"…237 US members of Congress, or 44%, are millionaires. This does not mean that every one of them is an incorrigible reactionary but it is extremely difficult [to imagine] that they feel like the many million Americans who do not have access to medical care, who are unemployed or who need to work very hard to earn their living."

— Former Cuban president Fidel Castro in a November 11 column in Granma.

Number of homeless in Australia

There are more than 105,000 homeless people in Australia, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures compiled between 2001-06. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report released in July, Counting the Homeless, found an increase in 17% in that time of the homeless rate for families and a 10% increase for single people.

Number of unoccupied buildings in Australia

In the April edition of his Debtwatch bulletin, Steve Keene, associate professor of economics and finance at the University of Western Sydney, referred to ABS figures that showed there were 800,000 unoccupied dwellings on census night in 2006. The number of homeless would have to increase by eight times before the capacity to house every one of them with existing resources was exhausted.

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