U.S. Feature | Homeless Seniors

The Changing Face of American Homelessness

A bulge of homeless baby-boomers has been making its way through the nation’s aging pipeline, with more than 300,000 homeless people in the U.S. now over the age of 50. From the recessions and zero-tolerance drug policies of the ’70s and ’80s to contemporary wage stagnation and affordable housing shortages exacerbated by unchecked urban gentrification, many who came of age during the social tumult of the ’60s and ’70s have struggled to maintain their footing in the nation’s rapidly evolving cities. For many, chronic illness and disability have led to homelessness or struck as a result of it, prematurely introducing aging issues into an already vulnerable population. As a result, homeless seniors have found themselves at the center of an epidemic that is increasingly understood to intersect with other national problems, including weak safety nets for seniors, people with disabilities, and the poor.

As national conversations framed through the lens of personal responsibility, urban threat, and moral failings compound the shame many experience in precarious situations, the aging homeless community has found itself not only marginalized on the streets, but within the discourse of homelessness in general, framed as it too often is in terms of workforce reintegration and social re-engagement. With the elderly homeless population expected to more than double by 2050, The New York Times recently examined the structural problems facing the aging homeless population and challenges affecting the development of effective long-term solutions.

Read:
Old and on the Street: The Graying of America’s Homeless” (The New York Times)

Additional coverage:
Fast-aging homeless population may lead to public health crisis” (The San Francisco Chronicle, March 2016)
Solving The Growing Health Needs Of America’s Elderly Homeless” (ThinkProgress, February 2016)
‘We Shouldn’t Have To Live Like This’” (NPR, March 2013)

Reports:
Aging and Housing Instability: Homelessness among Older and Elderly Adults (National HCH Council, September 2013)
Homelessness Among Elderly Persons (National Coalition for the Homeless, September 2009)

Connect:
National Alliance to End Homelessness
National Coalition for the Homeless
National Health Care for the Homeless Council

(Image Credit: Monica Almeida/The New York Times)

ClimateWatch | The Philippines

ClimateWatch
The Philippines

The Philippine Congress recently confirmed Rodrigo Duterte as the 16th president of the Philippines, ushering in a new government fueled by populist disaffection and characterized by uncertainty. A lightning rod of controversy, the tough-talking former mayor of Davao City in the south of the country has supported vigilante justice in crime-riddled cities (including against those suffering from addiction), the reinstatement of capital punishment, and paternalistic policies on smoking, alcohol consumption, and youth curfews. His unfiltered style has been likened to U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for both his casual misogyny and penchant for offensive jokes.

But Duterte, the Philippines’ oldest president, has also expressed support for minority representation and protections, backed by a record of gender and minority inclusiveness during his time as mayor. His election has already been celebrated for breaking political regionalism in the country: Duterte has become the first president from the historically marginalized island of Mindanao. Now having to scale his leadership from the local to the national level, he inherits a range of difficult issues impacting historically disadvantaged communities, including land and environmental rights for indigenous peoples, reproductive healthcare for women, and political autonomy for Muslim groups in the south.

With international observers and diplomats concerned by Duterte’s unpredictability, his record with and plans for vulnerable communities have been scrutinized as political analysts attempt to predict what the next era of Philippine politics will look like under his leadership. Here is an overview of recent local and international commentary on the impact of Duterte’s election:

Continue reading ClimateWatch | The Philippines

UAE News | People of Libyan Descent

UAE acquits Libyan-Americans and Libyan-Canadian of militancy charges
  • Two Libyan-Americans and a Libyan-Canadian have been detained in the country since their 2014 arrests carried out in the wake of the passage of the UAE’s Anti-Terrorism Law, initially accused of supporting Libyan terrorist groups.
  • The men had been held in secret for months, with reports indicating torture and deteriorating health during their more than 500 days of detention without a trial.
  • The three businessmen had reportedly traveled in and out of the UAE without incident for decades, but the UAE’s zero-tolerance policy towards extremism has made many with even tenuous connections to countries with designated terrorist groups vulnerable.

Read more:
Two American businessmen acquitted in the United Arab Emirates of supporting militants” (The Washington Post)
UAE acquits two Libyan-Americans and Canadian of militancy charges” (Reuters)
‘Nowhere close to a fair trial’: pressure to aid Americans and Canadian in UAE” (The Guardian)

(Image Credit: Family photo, via The Washington Post)

Iran & Saudi Arabia News | Iranians

Iranian pilgrims denied travel rights as diplomatic row between Iran and Saudi Arabia continues
  • Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization announced that Iranians would not be allowed to make the annual trek to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
  • Relations between the regional rivals have deteriorated in the wake of Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric, which led to violent protests at the Saudi embassy in Tehran and Riyadh’s severance of diplomatic ties.
  • In September 2015, hundreds of Iranians were among the thousands killed in a stampede in Mecca, and the continued absence of an official Saudi report has exacerbated tensions between the two countries.

Read more:
Iran says its pilgrims will not attend haj in Saudi” (Reuters)
Iran pilgrims to miss Hajj amid row with Saudi Arabia” (BBC)
Iranians will not perform Haj this year” (Gulf News)

(Image Credit: Ahmad Masood/Reuters)

Interregional News | Refugees & Migrants

At least 700 migrants and refugees die in last week along trans-Mediterranean route
  • The UNHCR concluded from survivor interviews that some 550 of 670 died after a boat capsized on its way to Italy from Libya, with other scattered wrecks throughout the week leading to at least 150 other deaths.
  • As warmer temperatures have created more favorable travel conditions, an estimated 13-14,000 have been rescued over the last week during Italian naval operations in the Mediterranean.
  • The U.N. believes most of those making the trek have been sub-Saharan African migrants and refugees caught up in smuggling networks.

Read more:
Over 700 Migrants Died Trying to Reach Italy in Past Week, U.N. Says” (The New York Times)
More than 700 feared dead in recent Mediterranean crossings” (AP)
Refugee crisis: 13,000 people rescued in Mediterranean in one week” (The Guardian)

(Image Credit: Marina Militare, via The New York Times)

Pakistan News | Trans Women

Trans activist dies in northwest Pakistan after uproar over hospital treatment
  • Alisha, 23, died in a hospital in Peshawar after being shot multiple times during a dispute.
  • She had reportedly had her medical intervention delayed as hospital personnel taunted her and debated whether to put her in the male or female ward.
  • While police have taken in a suspect, the trans community continues to worry at ongoing targeted violence, with Alisha now the fifth trans activist to have been killed in recent months.

Read more:
Pakistani transgender activist who was shot, then taunted at hospital, dies of injuries” (The Los Angeles Times)
Police arrest prime suspect in transgender Alisha’s murder” (Pakistan Today)
Pakistani transgender activist dies after delayed medical care” (The Washington Blade)

(Image Credit: Trans Action Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, via The Los Angeles Times)

Moldova News | LGBT

Anti-LGBT protesters disrupt LGBT Pride festivities in Moldova


Video Credit: Campania socială Fără Frică

  • Hundreds demonstrated against a Pride march taking place in Chisinau, the Moldovan capital, by chanting, singing, and reportedly throwing eggs and holy water at participants.
  • The protests appeared to have been led by Orthodox Christian demonstrators, who carried Moldovan and Orthodox flags symbolizing the close ties of religion and national identity in the predominantly Orthodox country.
  • Under heavy police protection, more than 150 participated in the parade, including German, French, and Swedish diplomats, before having to be escorted to safety.

Read more:
Protesters disrupt Moldova Pride march” (The Washington Blade)
Activists, Police Fend Off Counter-Protestors At Moldova’s First-Ever LGBT March of Solidarity” (Unicorn Booty)

 

Romania News | LGBT

Romanian groups work to block same-sex unions in the country
  • Anti-LGBT activists undertook a signature campaign to push for a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex unions.
  • The campaign was spurred by the Coalition for Family, a confederation backed by the Orthodox Church that claims to have amassed 3 million signatures in support of the amendment.
  • Current marriage law in Romania defines marriage as a union of “partners,” which conservative activists have attempted to have changed before in a failed 2013 campaign.

Read more:
Romanian groups push for same-sex marriage ban” (AFP via 7 News)
Three Million Romanians Back Anti-Gay Marriage Campaign” (Balkan Insight)

(Image Credit: AFP)

Eritrea Feature | Eritreans

25 Years of Independence and Suppression in Eritrea

As it celebrates the 25th anniversary of the overthrow of Ethiopian rule, Eritrea continues to hemorrhage citizens under one-party, anti-democratic rule. Indefinite military conscription, mobility restrictions, and the absence of civil liberties have greatly diminished prospects for Eritreans, driving youth from the country in droves and into trans-Mediterranean trafficking networks in which thousands have died. Some estimates put the emigration rate at 5,000 people per month, second only to Syrians in contributing to the swelling of the Mediterranean migration crisis in 2015.

The Eritrean government has been particularly unfriendly to journalists and other writers, who have faced high insecurity following the 2001 roundup of independent newspaper editors in a push by the Eritrean president to crack down on public dissent. In the diaspora, Eritreans have found themselves involuntarily bound to the government as attempts to access documents and send remittances has subjected them to taxes international monitors liken to extortion. Amidst independence celebrations, both native and diasporan Eritreans continue to work to organize an effective opposition against the presidential regime and bring about a democratic renaissance for the country’s disenfranchised citizenry.

Read:
Eritreans still denied freedom 25 years after independence” (The Guardian)
A quarter of a century after independence Eritreans still yearn for freedom” (The Conversation)
How to End the Eritrean Refugee Crisis” (The Nation, December 2015)
‘If we don’t give them a voice, no one will’: Eritrea’s forgotten journalists, still jailed after 14 years” (The Guardian, August 2015)
Outside Eritrea looking in: a diaspora that stands divided” (The Guardian, August 2015)
UN Inquiry reports gross human rights violations in Eritrea” (UNHCR, June 2015)

Watch:
25 years of independence in Eritrea: Thousands continue to flee repressive regime (France 24 English)
Eritrea: Delving into a Sealed-Off Country (Deutsche Welle, April 2015)

Follow:
Eritrea profile: Timeline (BBC)
2015 prison census: 199 journalists jailed worldwide (The Committee to Protect Journalists, December 2015)

Connect:
Eritrean Solidarity Movement for National Salvation (Simret)

(Image Credit: Boris Roessler/EPA, via The Guardian)

Bangladesh News | Hindus & Christians

IS claims responsibility for murder of Bangladeshi Hindu and alleged Christian
  • Debesh Chandra Pramanik, 68, died after a hacking attack in his shoe shop in the northwest district of Gaibandha.
  • The attack followed the hacking death of a doctor in Kushtia Islamist militants alleged was a Christian.
  • The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, though the government continues to maintain that IS has no presence in Bangladesh and is attempting to hijack the work of other militant groups.

Read more:
Islamic State claims fatal stabbing of Bangladeshi Hindu: monitor SITE” (Reuters)
Doctor Killed in Bangladeshi Machete Attack” (The New York Times)
Shahriar rubbishes IS claims” (Dhaka Tribune)

Argentina News | Indigenous Argentines

Argentina establishes special council as criticism of poor indigenous relations intensifies
  • Established by decree, the new council is designed to bring together indigenous and government leaders to tackle cultural and policy issues affecting indigenous communities.
  • Activists have longed called for integration into decision-making processes affecting their communities, including enforcement of constitutional land, language, judicial, and development rights.
  • A recent U.N. report called out the government’s record on land rights—including intimidation and judicial harassment—and called for increased indigenous representation in political and judicial bodies.

Read more:
Government Creates Special Council for Indigenous Affairs” (The Argentina Independent)
Decreto 672/2016: Consejo Consultivo y Participativo de los Pueblos Indígenas de la República Argentina. Creación.” (Ministry of Justice & Human Rights, in Spanish)
Argentina’s indigenous people face ‘appalling’ plight: U.N.” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation)

(Image Credit: Resistencia Qom, via The Argentina Independent)

Israel Feature | Ethiopian Jews

Ethiopian Jews, from Operation Solomon to the Present


Video Credit: AJ+

On May 24, 1991, Israel launched an aerial operation that lifted more than 14,000 Ethiopian Jews (also known as Beta Israel) out of war-ravaged Ethiopia to begin a new life in Israel. Although similar operations (Moses and Joshua) had been carried out before, Operation Solomon, a coordination of Israeli, American, and Ethiopian efforts, was distinctive in its scale. It set the record for the largest number of passengers on a single flight as 1,087 registered Ethiopians boarded a single El Al plane, fleeing the country before an anticipated coup.

Twenty-five years later, the number of Israelis of Ethiopian descent has grown to more than 100,000, including a growing Israel-native generation. Last summer, the community was thrust into the international spotlight after anti-racism protests erupted following police officers’ assault on an Israeli soldier of Ethiopian descent. Discrimination, poverty, and relatively low educational attainment rates have continued to plague many Ethiopian Jews in Israel, but ongoing advocacy is pushing for increased public recognition of the vulnerabilities the community faces and steps to redress inequality.

Read:
On This Day in 1991, IDF Makes a Miracle With ‘Operation Solomon’” (The Jewish Press)
Operation Solomon: Airlifting 14,000 Jews out of Ethiopia” (BBC)
Tracking down the Ethiopian Jews who moved to Israel” (Haaretz)
Ethiopian Jews In Israel: 25 Years Later, A Mixed Report” (The Jewish Week)

Watch:
Operation Solomon to rescue 14,325 Ethiopian Jews (The Jewish Agency for Israel)
Saving the Forgotten Jews (BBC)

Connect:
The Ethiopian National Project
Friends of Ethiopian Jews
The Israel Association of Ethiopian Jews

(Image Credit: Doron Bacher, via Haaretz)

Vietnam News | Political Dissidents

Political activists muzzled in Vietnam during visit by President Obama
  • Several activists reported having been detained or otherwise barred from meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit to Hanoi.
  • President Obama met with a group of civil society leaders and spoke to ongoing concerns over the suppression of free expression and assembly in the country.
  • International human rights groups estimate more than 100 political prisoners languish in Vietnamese prisons, while most of the more than 100 who attempted to run as independents in recent elections were excluded from the ballot.

Read more:
As Obama Presses Vietnam on Rights, Activists Are Barred From Meeting” (The New York Times)
Obama prods Vietnam on rights after activists stopped from meeting him” (Reuters)
In shadow of Obama’s visit, Vietnam cracked down on protests over dead fish” (The Washington Post)

(Image Credit: Kham/Reuters, via The Washington Post)

India Research | Women

Gender-based Harassment in India’s Urban Spaces

A YouGov/Action Aid UK survey recently polled 502 Indian women about their experiences in urban public spaces, finding that nearly four-in-five women have experienced public harassment in cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, and Kolkata. In the aftermath of the brutal gang rape of a woman on a Delhi bus in late 2012, government and civil society campaigns have encouraged women to report violence, although advocates say crimes (particularly domestic violence) continue to be underreported.

79%

Percentage of women reporting having experienced public harassment in cities

46%

Percentage of women reporting public insults and name-calling

39%

Percentage of women reporting having been groped or touched involuntarily

16%

Percentage of women reporting having been drugged

337,922*

Number of reports of violence against women in 2014, including rape, abduction, and molestation

Read:
Almost 80 percent of Indian women face public harassment in cities: survey” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation)
79% of women in India faced public harassment” (The Times of India)
Three in four women experience harassment and violence in UK and global cities” (ActionAid UK)

* According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau

Germany News | Refugees

Crime report finds sharp uptick in anti-refugee attacks by far-right extremists in Germany
  • German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere reported a 35% increase in politically-motivated crimes by the far-right in 2015, the largest increase since the beginning of record-keeping in 2001.
  • More than 1,000 attacks on refugee shelters were reported, a more than five-fold increase over the previous year.
  • Overall, some 39,000 politically motivated crimes were reported in 2015, including a 31% increase in violent crimes.

Read more:
Germany registers surge in crimes by right-wing radicals” (Reuters)
Germany: right-wing violence rose over 40 percent last year” (AP via U.S. News & World Report)
German Crime Figures May Raise Voter Security Fears” (The Wall Street Journal)

(Image Credit: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters)