The criminalization of poverty

I didn’t used to see tents when I moved to Koreatown two years ago, but when the city of Los Angeles revealed that there’s been an 85 percent increase in people living in such makeshift shelters during that time I thought: Yup, I’ve seen it — first there was one, then there was three, then there were entire tent cities. That spurred me to write a story about the problem and the city’s approach to it, which — the occasionally liberal rhetoric of the mayor aside — can be summed up as: What if we just made it illegal to be that damn poor? Today The Intercept published that story. It is my personal opinion that you should read it.

Also, for Inter Press Service, I reviewed a new book, Against All Odds: Voices of Popular Struggle in Iraq. I’d read that too — the book and the review.

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The market finds a way to make looking for a job more terrible

The only thing that sucks more than having a job is not having but needing one — and as I note in my latest piece for The Baffler, there are more people looking for work than there is work to offer, a fact those with the power to hire and fire have exploited to make the job search an even more degrading process that is statistically more likely to entrench self-loathing than lead to gainful employment. Read the piece and maybe give me a job.

Oh, and for LAist I wrote about efforts to legalize street vendors in Los Angeles and critics who say taco trucks attract sex workers. Check that out.

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On the killing of Ezell Ford and the impotence of civilian review boards

The Los Angeles Police Commission said the two LAPD officers who in August 2015 shot and killed an unarmed, mentally man named Ezell Ford acted improperly — and I wrote about how that doesn’t mean a whole lot, unfortunately, given that the commission has no actual power to discipline anyone. Check it out at TakePart.

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Protests and prisons

Last month, I attended a protest outside a Nestlé water-bottling facility in South Los Angeles and spoke to a woman in an orangutan mask who objects to the world’s largest food and beverage company profiting from the out-of-state sale of drought-stricken California’s water. You can read my account here.

Earlier this week, California’s state senate approved a bill that would strictly limit the use of solitary confinement at juvenile detention facilities. When I asked the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to comment on the legislation, I was told that there is no such thing as “solitary confinement” in California, the people who say they experienced it apparently mistaken (the state says the presence of a television, or the ability to take correspondence courses, means one is not truly in isolation). Read my report here.

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A review of ‘Syrian Notebooks’

I read and then wrote things about journalist Jonathan Littell’s account of his trip to Syria in January 2012. Read those things at Inter Press Service.

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From Argentina to Iraq: I have an opinion

I had two pieces published recently by Inter Press Service: One is (nominally) a review of Muhammad Idrees Ahmad’s new book seeking to explain why the United States invaded Iraq; the other, co-authored with IPS’s DC bureau chief, Jim Lobe, is a response to The Washington Post editorial board claiming that the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, is an anti-Semite for having noted the financial ties between hedge fund manager Paul Singer and the various right-wing groups and hacks that have attempted to paint her country as a deadbeat ally of Iranian-backed terrorism.

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Hillary the Hawk

Medea Benajamin and I make the anti-imperialist case for Hillary Clinton. Or do we? Guess you’ll have to read it.

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