Los Angeles Bans Homeless from Living in Their Cars [neontommy.com]

by Isaac Moody / neontommy.com

The city of Los Angeles is now banning the homeless from living in their cars. If caught, they will be cited, their vehicles will be towed, leaving them without shelter and still homeless.

According to the Department of Housing and Development, the homelessness population has increased between 2011 and 2013 by 67%. The population has risen to 57,737 people due to the economic downturn and it has forced more people out of their homes and into their cars.

The California Coastal Commission and Los Angeles Municipal Code state “No person shall use a vehicle parked or standing upon any parking lot owned by the City of Los Angeles.” That means the homeless could not only face living on the street if they are caught, they could also face misdemeanor charges.

Some people view living in their cars as a temporary thing. Unfortunately, the only cities that constructively address this type of homelessness are San Diego and Santa Barbara.

These cities have programs that help people transition and recover from job loss. Hannah Porsell, Program Manager for Dreams of Change, San Diego said, “We are helping a new type of homeless, whether it be disabled veterans, recently laid-off professionals with advance degrees, or current employees who cannot afford the standard costs of living, and our goal is to prevent them from reaching chronic homelessness and all possible resources.” But when a city prohibits these types of services, what kinds of options do they have?

Lawrence Williams has recently transitioned into living in his car in Inglewood, CA. He is a long time resident of the city, and has experienced the effects of Los Angeles-county parking and police enforcement firsthand.

He was living with his mother in a senior citizen housing complex in Los Angeles, but that all changed once his mother passed away.  “I was in the living room watching tv and I heard a thump in the bathroom. It was my mother leaning on the side of the bathtub, and she was foaming at the mouth. That led me to call 9-1-1.” Williams listened to dispatcher who informed Williams to place his mother on her side; he recalls the woman taking heavy breaths that sounded like snores. He didn’t know these would be her last breaths of life. His mother died from a heart attack and complications of seizure on January 16th, this year.

After his mother’s death, he was given two weeks by the facility to vacate the property. In less than a month, he was fired from the job at which he had worked for over four years. He was a Receiver’s Assistant at Ralph’s grocery store. Williams’ former Ralph’s supervisor refused to give his name but commented, “Williams was fired for a verbal altercation with staff.”

“When I lost my job, my car was the only thing I had left,” Williams says.  He sleeps in a purple, 1998 Nissan Maxima. He has a comforter, a toothbrush, a few pair of clothes and shoes, and old security gear. He uses his money he receives from General Relief and bathes in nearby fast food bathrooms.

He received an inheritance from his mother but was broke in three months. “I was given money, when my mom died, but you have to pay for motels and outstanding fines–it’ll run out real quick.”  Most of Williams’ money was spent on living and food, while another portion was spent on fines for expired tags, registration and child support. His fines were outstanding, not because he refused to pay them, but because he simply couldn’t.

Williams made less than nine dollars per hour when he was employed at Ralphs. “ I was bringing home $125 a week. Now, you tell me where I can make a basic living off of that in LA.”

He has four fines that have turned into warrants, and in order to pay them, he must turn himself in to the police. He has been a long-term resident of Inglewood and decided to park his car at the 2300 block of 78th Place in Inglewood, because that’s where he was born and raised. Before he made his decision, he let local residents know he means no harm, and his situation is temporary. Most residents weren’t as receptive.

One resident said, “I get home at midnight and just to see someone sitting in their car that I don’t know. I don’t know his intentions and I don’t know if they’re good or bad. Why does he have to be on our street?” Another resident said, “As long as he’s not bothering me. Put yourself in his shoes; he’s gonna move soon.” One neighbor said, “I don’t think he’s supposed to be out there.”

According to LAPD, aggressive enforcement is a result of neighborhood complaints. The Inglewood Municipal Code states,”it is unlawful for any person to stop, stand or park a vehicle upon private or public property.”

Since Williams’ car doesn’t start, he moves it himself throughout the week from one side of the street to the other, depending on the day of the week for street cleaning.

Williams plans to turn himself in and work towards finding a job and pursuing a security license.

http://www.neontommy.com/news/2014/04/los-angeles-bans-homeless-living-their-cars

How Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptists Are Christians, Explained [gawker.com]

Fred-Phelps-Signs

by Adam Weinstein / gawker.com

God is love, right? It’s sort of a cornerstone of the Christian faith: He “so loved the world” that He gave his son Jesus up to save us all. And if God is love, then a sociopath who pickets dead soldiers with a “God Hates Fags” sign can’t really be Christian, right? Well, the answer is complicated.

Fred Phelps is dead. The founder of Westboro Baptist Church, the litigious head of this hateful community, will soon be in the ground, and the media consensus is to be joyful and happy for the misery of a hate group that brought so much misery to others.

In the longstanding furor over their reprehensible tactics—a furor I, too, have indulged in over the years—few commentators have ever taken a moment to come to grips with the WBC’s theological foundations. That’s a shame, because WBC’s belief system is intellectually consistent in many ways that the “mainstream” religious right is not. And it’s based in a uniquely American theology as old as the colonies—a Christian paradigm that’s influenced our culture in myriad respects, but is seldom addressed by anyone but its most devoted adherents.

The broad theology of WBC can be summed up in one basic statement:

Everybody sucks.

Only awful, terrible, despicable, depraved people would cause a political hatemongering ruckus at a funeral or an elementary school. That’s absolutely true. The thing is, the faithful of Westboro Baptist Church would be the first to claim that they’re depraved—and so is everyone else. This is the bedrock of their belief system, laid out on their website:

These doctrines of grace were well summed up by John Calvin in his 5 points of Calvinism… Although these doctrines are almost universally hated today, they were once loved and believed, as you can see in many confessions of faith. Even though the Arminian lies that “God loves everyone” and “Jesus died for everyone” are being taught from nearly every pulpit in this generation, this hasn’t always been the case. If you are in a church that supposedly believes the Bible, and you are hearing these lies, then your church doesn’t teach what the Bible teaches.

Click here to read the entire article…

Kansas Senate Comes To It’s Senses And Nixes Extreme Anti-Gay (Jim Crow) Legislation [politicususa.net]

kansassealBy: Justin Baragona / politicususa.net
The Kansas Senate decided on Friday that they would kill the legislation that was passed earlier this week by the state’s House of Representatives. The bill, known as House Bill 2453,would have opened the door to widespread segregation and discrimination of those in the LGBT community. On Tuesday, the House of Representatives, which is overwhelmingly Republican, passed the bill with ease by a vote of 72-49. It was assumed that with a large majority in the state’s Senate and the extremely conservative Sam Brownback as Governor, the legislation was going to fly through and become law.

Well, something happened along the way. Perhaps it was the fact that the law made national headlines and had a lot of blowback. Or maybe it was due to what Andrew Sullivan wrote on Friday regarding what the law would do for the LGBT community. In his column, Sullivan accurately noted that passing a law that so blatantly discriminates gays and treats them like second-class citizens would inevitably be the death knell for the religious right in its attempt to prevent the advancement of gay rights.

Basically, by going forward with this, the gay community could rightly point to this law and compare it to the Jim Crow laws of the South. It also would have an avalanche effect on the GOP, as young voters would be turned off by them for good due to their penchant for bigotry. Sullivan nailed it with the following paragraph:

If the Republican Party wanted to demonstrate that it wants no votes from anyone under 40, it couldn’t have found a better way to do it. Some critics have reacted to this law with the view that it is an outrageous new version of Jim Crow and a terrifying portent of the future for gays in some red states. It is both of those. It’s the kind of law that Vladimir Putin would enthusiastically support. But it is also, to my mind, a fatal mis-step for the movement to keep gay citizens in a marginalized, stigmatized place.

Quote of the Day: Real Love, Real Friendship

“Friends can help each other. A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself – and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is.”

- Jim Morrison

Quote

What Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Sponsor Could Have Done for Him [time.com]

the_twelve_stepsAs part of Twelve-Step programs, they act as support, friend, mentor, and advisor—but they’re also former addicts and shouldn’t be treated as experts.

By  @maiasz / time.com

A haunting writeup in The New York Times Thursday detailed how actor Philip Seymour Hoffman spent his last days after relapsing back into heroin addiction and leaving the home he shared with his partner, Mimi O’Donnell, and their three children.

Though he was surrounded by people as the end drew near, the Times piece describes how Hoffman was ultimately “a man who died alone”—which is sadly not uncommon for addicted people. Notably included was a quote from a member of the Twelve-Step program Narcotics Anonymous (NA) regarding what the actor said at a December meeting. Though speaking about what was said by a specific person meeting is an unusual breach of protocol, the incident has got people thinking about what goes on in NA meetings and the idea of members “sponsoring” each other to support recovery.

As a former heroin and cocaine addict who has covered addiction and recovery for over a quarter century, I’d like to stress that I am writing here as someone with knowledge of the field and not as a member of any program. There are many routes to recovery and Twelve-Step programs are just one.

Although touted as an essential element of Twelve-Step recovery, the guidance given to sponsors is extremely vague. There is no requirement for having a certain amount of time drug-free, although at least 90 days is typically required and, most commonly, at least one year. Moreover, there are no specific guidelines related to the amount of contact people should have with their sponsors and the type of advice that should be given at any particular time. An NA pamphlet puts it this way:

Sponsors share their experience, strength, and hope with their sponsees. Some describe their sponsor as loving and compassionate, someone they can count on to listen and support them no matter what. Others value the objectivity and detachment a sponsor can offer, relying on their direct and honest input even when it may be difficult to accept. Still others turn to a sponsor mainly for guidance through the Twelve Steps.

From the outside, the idea that a more experienced member should sponsor someone who is new or has recently relapsed looks like a way to help the newcomer. But, in fact, Twelve-Step literature explicitly says that this is not the purpose, although it is obviously a welcome result. The sponsor-sponsee relationship is predicated on the assumption that “‘the heart of NA beats when two addicts share their recovery,’” and “sponsorship is simply one addict helping another. The two-way street of sponsorship is a loving, spiritual, and compassionate relationship that helps both the sponsor and sponsee.”

In practice, of course, this means that sponsors do give advice and support to newcomers—and anyone who has spent time around people in recovery knows that they will often go to enormous lengths and spend much of their time to try to help.

Read more: Philip Seymour Hoffman: Twelve Step Programs and the Role of a Sponsor | TIME.com

Dallas Sports Anchor Delivers Perfect Speech to Michael Sam’s Critics [gawker.com]

During his “Hansen Unplugged: Celebrating Our Differences” segment Monday night, WFAA sports anchor Dale Hansen issued a near perfect public takedown to the the anonymous NFL officials in Sports Illustrated’s much-criticized Michael Sam story.

From Hansen’s speech, via Towleroad:

“You beat a woman and drag her down a flight of stairs, pulling her hair out by the roots? You’re the fourth guy taken in the NFL draft.

You kill people while driving drunk? That guy’s welcome.

Players caught in hotel rooms with illegal drugs and prostitutes? We know they’re welcome.

Players accused of rape and pay the woman to go away?

You lie to police trying to cover up a murder? We’re comfortable with that.

You love another man? Well, now you’ve gone too far!”

Hanson acknowledged his own faults but welcomed Sam, saying it was “time to celebrate him.”

“I’m not always comfortable when a man tells me he’s gay; I don’t understand his world,” Hansen said. “But I do understand that he’s part of mine.”

[via Reddit]

http://gawker.com/dallas-sports-anchor-delivers-perfect-speech-to-michael-1521723229

Map Shows Just How Far the World Has to Go to Reach Gender Equality [time.com]

The United States is #42.

By  @jessicakroy

Based on stats culled from a report from the United Nations Development Programme, the below map highlights each country’s Gender Inequality Index, a figure calculated by analyzing factors such as the maternal mortality rate, number of seats women hold in government bodies and the labor force participation rate. The lower the number, the better gender equality each country has.

2012′s research found that the Netherlands was the country with the highest rate of gender equality, while Yemen had the lowest. Check out the below map, plus the 10 countries with the best gender parity.
GenderEquity

Click this link to read more:
http://newsfeed.time.com/2014/01/28/this-map-shows-just-how-far-the-world-has-to-go-to-reach-gender-equality/

Why We Make New Year’s Resolutions [livescience.com]

By Stephanie Pappas, Senior Writer   |   December 31, 2013 07:56am ET

Planning to exercise more or eat fewer sweets in the New Year? If so, you’re taking part in a tradition that stretches back thousands of years.

Ancient people practiced the fine art of New Year’s resolutions, though their oaths were external, rather than internally focused. More than 4,000 years ago, the ancient Babylonians celebrated the New Year not in January, but in March, when the spring harvest came in. The festival, called Akitu, lasted 12 days.

An important facet of Akitu was the crowning of a new king, or reaffirmation of loyalty to the old king, should he still sit on the throne. Special rituals also affirmed humanity’s covenant with the gods; as far as Babylonians were concerned, their continued worship was what kept creation humming.

Roman New Year

Centuries later, the ancient Romans had similar traditions to ring in their new year, which also originally began in March. In the early days ofRome, the city magistrates’ terms were defined by this New Year’s date. On March 1, the old magistrates would affirm before the Roman Senate that they had performed their duties in accordance with the laws. Then, the New Year’s magistrates would be sworn into office.

Click here to continue reading the story…

Playing for Change – A Great Way to Ring in the New Year

Video

Alone During the Holidays? Make No Major Decisions

by Helen Hill MFT

The holidays can be a very lonely time of year for anyone who, because of their uniqueness, finds himself or herself without family, and sometimes, friends.  Sharing the time with others can be a salve for those who are tolerated or accepted.  But for those of us who are unique, different, eclectic, marching to a different drummer, or suffering from some physical malady, and we find ourselves alone, it can be a challenge to just get through the holidays.

Families are defined by blood.  Often, that is a mistake.  Sometimes there are those relatives (by blood) whose views and outlooks would be offensive and cruel to any outsider — to any kind and compassionate soul.  The challenge is to surround ourselves with a family we choose, who love us and accept us for who we are, rather than for what we are not.

If family during the holidays is defined by accepting only those people like themselves, then we have learned nothing about tolerance, acceptance, and compassion.  Let us not make the same mistakes as those poor souls who live in fear of what they do not understand, and the resulting cruelty that manifests itself in the name of “family.”

What I would emphasize to all is that the holidays are NO TIME to be making major decisions about one’s life, one’s circumstances, one’s issues, or one’s family. Suicide is never good any time. But the holidays have a way of making us, what I like to call, “temporarily isolated” or “temporarily inconsolable.” The emphasis, though, should be on the word TEMPORARY.

During this tough economic time, many are suffering. And even in good economic times, during the holidays, there are so many people who find themselves spending the holiday alone.  And then there are those who do spend the holidays with their relatives and come back even more depressed and/or vulnerable than before they left.

Family and holidays can be very difficult even in the best of times. No matter what, whether spending holidays with friends and family, or spending them alone, I would recommend that no one make major life changing, irreversible decisions.

For those who find themselves depressed or alone during the holidays, the secret to success is to just get through them!

Survival is success!

The sun will come out tomorrow. There will be a chance for a new day and new beginnings. And hope does not take a raincheck during holidays. It is still there, even if it seems harder to grasp.

As you have doubtless heard many times before, even if you don’t feel like doing something, DO SOMETHING! A walk, a movie, reading a good book, or an activity. Invite another friend over for tea, or meet for a lunch or dinner. Some online support forums can be quite helpful during these times as well.

Solution Focused Therapy provides three very simple, yet effective, suggestions:

  1. If it is not broken, don’t fix it
  2. It it is working, do more of it
  3. If it is NOT working, change it

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is not a character flaw or a weakness to ask for help. On the contrary, it is one of the healthiest things a person can learn to do – knowing when to ask for help. This link http://helenhill.wordpress.com/emergency-resources/ lists a number of resources that can be helpful during difficult times.

Make the time less about the holiday, and more about self-care.

But most of all, never use a temporary situation to make a permanent, unalterable decision. Never.

Hope and peace are always in season.

lonelysnowman_pe2

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