(1210) Survivors in poverty


We went looking around online for articles about natural disasters and poverty, specifically Hurricane Harvey, earlier this week.  A couple of strong feature articles appeared in due course.  Yet, we were unexpectedly distracted and found a rather poignant feeling was created by a piece on  survivors of a different kind of horror and disaster.
Survivors of the Holocaust have called Toronto home since immediately after World War II.  Now, in the final years of their lives, it emerges that many have lived in poverty.  Truncated family connections, disrupted life courses, multiple migrations, language difficulties and emotional problems seem to have exerted themselves to the detriment of Holocaust survivors.  The Toronto Star took a look at their situation this month in the item below.
Surviving again: how needy Holocaust survivors cope with poverty. A quarter of Canada’s Holocaust survivor population lives in poverty
thestar.com

(1208) Housing repair money


Housing has been an issue in Peel Region, this blog’s home ground, for decades.  Waiting lists are long and there are issues with building condition.  Money from the province of Ontario is no doubt going to be welcome.  This article raises the question of distribution as Toronto appears to have been allocated much of the anticipated funding, with Peel and other places less firmly mentioned.  Peel Living, a social housing provider, is the Greater Toronto Area’s number three housing agency.
No mention of Peel Region’s share in Ontario social housing funding pledge. Half of $657 million going to Toronto
bramptonguardian.com

(1207) Hurricane Harvey


Climate change meets sprawl at the synthetic water line along the Gulf of Mexico.  Perilous developments these days for the Houston Ship Channel and places like Rockport, Texas, seen in an image above from a Google Maps screen shot. Turning away from the spectacle of Hurricane Harvey’s wet trek into Texas is just about impossible.
A changing world asks questions about the way we build communities and operate their economies.  America’s fourth largest city is also a source of the fossil fuels that helped make sprawl and climate change possible.  Business as usual this time next year?
Boom town, flood town. Climate change will bring more frequent and fierce rainstorms to cities like Houston. But unchecked development remains a priority in the famously un-zoned city, creating short-term economic gains for some while increasing flood risks for everyone
texastribune.org
Hurricane Harvey poised to impact blacks in Texas, but no one is talking about it
dailykos.com
Hell and high water
propublica.org – this is a map/graphics rich feature from March 2016
See also:
(1067) Climate change pushes American public housing tenants

(1206) Millennials living tight


A seven times Pulitzer prize winning media outlet with a mandate rooted in Christian values ought to have a less shallow take on young people living in motor vehicles, no?
Or, is that asking too much?  We get it, that people can live in something other than a detached house for a stretch, that life is an adventure and a little creativity can maybe go a long way.  Odd circumstances are not necessarily a sign harm is being done.  But, this piece is, well, read it for yourself and trust your instincts.
Why it’s becoming cool to live in your car – or a 150-sq. ft. apartment. High housing costs have prompted some in the middle and upper classes to rethink what they value – and be willing to give up the rest
csmonitor.com
See also:
(103) A man’s home is his castle …and frequently also his shitbox!

(1205) Stress is all that’s holding us together


A squeeze is on working people in the United Kingdom, the States and Canada.  The calculus of personal pressure and hard times described in this piece from The Guardian website is certainly reproduced in the Greater Toronto Area.  Such difficulty seems to be a big part of what it means to be a working person in these societies.  Mentioned in this piece is the weak economics of wages for a couple with a young child in Glasgow where a call-centre job really just doesn’t cut it.  The weight of this at the societal level is also discovered via this article.  Recent data from a UK university is linked concluding a crap job is often much worse for your mental health than the stresses of full on unemployment.
Crazy stuff indeed.  The late nineteenth century industrial economy was fuelled on coal.  Our early twenty-first century digital economy is fuelled on human stress.
The stress of low-paid work is making our country sick
Having a bad job can be worse for your health than being unemployed
manchester.ac.uk
image: Flood G. via Flickr/CC

(1203) Alt Right-ey Canada


Full frontal Fascism, that dreadful Twentieth Century affliction, never had occasion to catch on with the Canadian people.  Be thankful for that, though it doesn’t mean our history is without blemish.  There has been a string of interest in Fascism in Canada that leads back decades.
In the globalized present, there is plenty to worry about. Influences arrive in Canada from a dysfunctional and unhappy America by the day. They combine with local conditions and still other global influences.  The results are full of unhealthy potential.
Inside Rebel Media
nationalpost.com
The threat of far-right extremism in Canada
muftah.org
Why the American Left failed, and what Canadians can learn
thetyee.ca
The unwitting role of Canadian media in marketing hatred
the walrus.ca
Tracking the ‘alt-right’ in Canada
torontoist.com
Neo-nazism in Canada
wikipedia.com
image: Adrien Arcand in 1933. Arcand was a Montreal journalist who led a series of fascist/antisemitic political movements in Canada between 1929 and his death in 1967
(public domain via Wikipedia).

(1202) A major socio-economic reality so poorly understood and discussed


Any discussion of economic relationships and the character of society needs to fully consider the reality of prostitution or it remains incomplete.  Initially, this can be a fraught undertaking but the honest citizen observing social difficulty with a conscience is obliged to make an effort given the implications of prostitution and human trafficking for women, youth and children within what is a very large, global business.
The essence of prostitution is the purchase of temporary access to the body of another, mostly by a man, for the purposes of penetration and gratification.  While such a transaction seems simple enough it is usually accompanied by a societal smokescreen of ignorance, opinion, financial interest and emotionalism such that the reality remains obscure with a subsequently frustrating effect on creating a general perspective, let alone helpful social policy.
With this difficulty in mind we are lucky to have a generation of individuals giving us their efforts and words.  Some of their urgency about prostitution is a response to recent legalization efforts in a number of countries.  While considered sensible and well-intentioned at first these legalization efforts appear to be resulting in more harm than good.  Prostitution seems to become industrialized where it is legalized.
Simple legalization ignores the direct reality of selling one’s body and little accounts for the behaviour of the male buyer.  This blog recently came across the work of three women activists that offer a high-level starting point for considering this topic.  Their Twitter accounts are a quick way to find and learn from their articles, websites, activism and books.  Natashe Falle is in Toronto (see also her site Sex Trade 101).  Rachel Moran and Julie Bindel are in Ireland and the UK respectively with Caitlin Roper Australia-based.
Through varied paths these women seem to have arrived at a common appreciation for what needs to come after legalization of the kind seen in New Zealand and Germany as well as other countries.
Here is a recent item from the website of UK magazine The Spectator by Julie Bindel with a podcast and other links.
Most ‘sex workers’ are modern day slaves.  Prostitution is rarely, if ever, a choice
(audio 12:17)
Over sixty percent of Canada’s reported human trafficking activity takes place in the Greater Toronto Area.  This CBC piece describes a recent case in Mississauga.  The dull image of a row of motels on Dundas Street, a major artery used daily by a huge number of motor vehicles, gives no indication of the human risk encountered by trafficked women and youth in such places.  While most of North America’s sprawl does not have ‘traditional’ red light districts like those of Amsterdam, for example, these communities are still home to sexual exploitation, pimping and prostitution.
‘Anyone can be a victim’: Canadian high school girls being lured into sex trade. Toronto-area teenager recounts how she was recruited into sex work by peers at 16
cbc.ca/news
Recent attention to the so-called Nordic Model in which the criminalizing of paid sexual activity is transferred to the male buyer has generated enthusiasm and backlash.  Canada is considered a Nordic Model country but it would seem there is still plenty of work to do on all of this.
Taken. I was a teenage runaway struggling to survive when I met a man who promised me love and security
torontolife.com
On prostitution, can Canada learn from the Nordic Model?
thetyee.ca (2012)
The new era of Canadian sex work
vice.com (video 34:41)
image: Victory of the People via Flickr/CC