Friday, January 28, 2011

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Chairperson Audronius Ažubalis emphasizes

importance of tolerance education, marking

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

VILNIUS, 27 January 2011 – The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Ažubalis, commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day today with a call for OSCE participating States to further intensify efforts to combat anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance and promote remembrance and education.

“This Day of Holocaust Remembrance for millions of Jewish and other victims, including Roma and Sinti, serves as a lasting reminder that we must be vigilant and vigorous in our efforts to combat intolerance and hatred,” said Ažubalis.

“We must commemorate the victims by teaching people about the Holocaust, and ensuring that the dignity and human rights of all people are respected.”

OSCE participating States have committed themselves to “promote remembrance of and, as appropriate, education about the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the importance of respect for all ethnic and religious groups”. The OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, in co-operation with the Yad Vashem International School for Holocaust Studies in Israel, has published practical guidelines for teachers, available in 13 languages, entitled Preparing Holocaust Memorial Days: Suggestions for Educators.

In September 2010, Lithuania’s Parliament (Seimas) declared 2011 as Year of Remembrance for the Victims of the Holocaust in Lithuania. Tolerance education is also a priority of Lithuania’s 2011 OSCE Chairmanship.

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Linda's Hearth note: This little story gets my vote for the worst headline I've put onto this blog. bleah! Also, as soon as I find out again what OCSE stands for, I'll return and upgrade the lead paragraph, too.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Special Homeless Census Count in Alternate Years Hits the Ground Running

Counting Santa Cruz County's Homeless

Population In Pairs --

Volunteers Will Also Interview Homeless Folks Individually

Cheyenne Lewis and Norma Sanchez were out at dawn in Watsonville counting...
photo by Dan Coyro/Sentinel

WATSONVILLE - Norma Sanchez slowly navigated her car through an alleyway off Freedom Boulevard in Watsonville early Tuesday morning, then paused in front of a Dumpster where a man was foraging, his ragged bike-and-cart combo standing several feet away.

Cheyenne Lewis, riding in the passenger seat, put another mark on the census map, and they continued on their way.

"When we found someone who was homeless, we got excited, but we shouldn't be getting excited because they're homeless," Sanchez later said. "But in a way, we're helping them by helping to get funding."

Sanchez, a 31-year-old Watsonville resident, and Lewis, a 19-year-old Watsonville resident, were among the more than 100 volunteers - including about 50 homeless "guides" - who began traversing Santa Cruz County at 6 a.m. Tuesday as part of the 2011 Santa Cruz County Homeless Census and Survey.

Because their routes mostly took them through residential neighborhoods, by 10 a.m. they only counted six people who they could identify as homeless. Asked what characteristics they look for when conducting a visual count, they paused to consider.

"Do you follow the stereotype of what a homeless individual looks like? It's really difficult," said Sanchez, who's employed as an eligibility worker at the Shelter Project in Watsonville.

It's easy to tell some people are homeless, like the man they spotted digging in the Dumpster. But others - people whose only mode of transportation to work is by bicycle, for instance - are harder to figure out.

The teams that dispersed across the county Tuesday morning conducted visual counts by driving along their routes with their guides and using their best judgment, said Samantha Green a research analyst with Applied Survey Research. The nonprofit social research firm has been conducting the counts in Santa Cruz County since 2001.

"What's the mold, what are you looking for?" Sanchez asked rhetorically. "We're told 'Don't stereotype,' 'Don't stereotype what a homeless person looks like,' but here we are, stereotyping to try to fit somebody into a mold."

To get as accurate a count as possible, Green said, other volunteers walked through the harder-to-reach areas such as Pogonip in Santa Cruz and the Pajaro River in South County.

"We know that this count doesn't reach everybody" and so does the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which requires counties to conduct the counts every other year in order to obtain funding, Green explained. "This is just a snapshot of homelessness in Santa Cruz County."

In addition to the drive-by and walking counts, homeless and transitional shelters took head counts at their facilities Monday night and Tuesday morning and sent that data to the research company. A separate count of homeless teens was conducted Tuesday afternoon, Green said, since youth "don't normally hang out with the rest of the homeless population and tend to come out later in the day."

In addition, homeless representatives from veteran, youth and other communities will begin conducting in-depth interviews next week with their peers. Through those interviews, they hope to find out, among other things, how they become homeless, their health status, and whether they have children.

Last month, 11 programs designed to help the county's homeless learned they would share almost $1.7 million in grants from HUD. Nora Krantzler, senior human services analyst with the county's Homeless Persons Health Project, said that's about the same amount the county receives each year.

Julie Conway, the county's housing project manager and coordinator of the Homeless Action Partnership, said the HUD funds are a significant source of funding for homeless and housing services, but the county also receives larger amounts from other federal agencies.

For example, the county's Homeless Persons Health Project - which provides the homeless with food, supplies, and basic necessities while they recuperate from illness or injury - is part of the national Health Care for the Homeless program. That program, she explained, receives its funding from the federal Health Resources Services Administration.

Results of the survey will not be available until April, according to Joanne Sanchez, a research analyst with Applied Survey Research.


Every other year, volunteers team up with homeless 'guides' to count the number of homeless individuals living in Santa Cruz County. The census has been conducted by Applied Survey Research since 2001. The $40,000 cost is split among the county and cities of Santa Cruz, Capitola, Scotts Valley and Watsonville. This year's results will be available in April. The previous years' counts:

n 2009: 2,265

n 2007: 2,789

n 2005: 3,371

SOURCE: Applied Survey Research

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Rev. Deborah Johnson -- Local Heroine Recognized

Tony Hill Memorial Award for
This Year Goes to Lively, Nonviolent,
Beloved Reverend Johnson

SANTA CRUZ -- The Rev. Deborah Johnson has worked throughout her career to foster understanding among diverse groups and bring divergent communities together to share in dialogue, including work on issues of race, poverty, the Middle East conflict and equal rights for minority groups.

In recognition of that work, Johnson has been chosen as the recipient of the third annual Tony Hill Memorial Award.

The award is given by UC Santa Cruz in recognition of a resident of Santa Cruz County who exemplifies the work and efforts of the late Tony Hill. It is meant to honor individuals for their efforts to seek solutions to the needs of the community, build bridges across diverse communities and develop innovative approaches to solving social problems.

Hill was a community leader, mentor and mediator who worked to improve the lives of the poor and underprivileged in Santa Cruz County. He championed affordable housing and better race relations in the area. He died in 2007, after which UCSC and Hill's family teamed up to sponsor the award.

"Tony was irrepressibly positive," said Scott Kennedy, the Middle East program coordinator at the Resource Center for Nonviolence, who knew Hill and has worked with the Rev. Johnson. "Tony refused to let his commitment to justice make him relate to people in a negative way. He was adamantly committed to justice, and deeply committed to treating people with respect.

"The same can be said for Deborah." The award will be presented at the 27th annual UCSC annual Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation on Jan. 31.

Teynote speaker this year is civil rights activist Terrence Roberts, a member of the "Little Rock Nine" -- the group of African-American students in Little Rock, Ark., who made history in 1957 as the first to attend classes under the federal mandate to desegregate public schools.

"We live in a community with many progressive people who are doing all kinds of extraordinary work, and to be noticed in such a wide pool of possibilities was really humbling," Johnson said in a statement.

She recalled the words of Martin Luther King Jr. when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize.

"He described himself as a trustee, and said he was accepting the award on behalf of a movement -- and that's how I feel," she said in the statement.

Johnson was in Los Angeles on Monday and could not be reached for comment.

In addition to being the founding minister and president of Inner Light Ministries, an Omnifaith outreach ministry, Johnson is also the founder and president of The Motivational Institute, an organizational development consulting firm specializing in cultural diversity serving the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

Johnson also supported the Sulah Project, which brought together Palestinians, Jews and other groups from the Middle East for cultural exchange and conversation at the Inner Light Center in Soquel. She has been an active participant in the civil rights movement and works on projects designed to help people affected by AIDS.

Recently, she was a vocal opponent to Proposition 8, the California proposition that banned same-sex marriage, at one point bringing together proponents of the proposition at the Inner Light Center for a forum where all sides of the debate could be heard.

She was the successful co-litigant in two landmark cases in California. One set a precedent for the inclusion of sexual orientation in the state's Civil Rights Bill; the other defeated the challenge to legalizing domestic partnerships.

"When she came here, Santa Cruz was blessed to get such an incredible person that is loving and giving and not afraid to call it like it is," said Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos Executive Director Nane Alejandrez, who worked with Tony Hill and has participated in projects with Johnson. "She always brings alternatives to dealing constructively with different aspects of community."

Past award winners are Luis Alejo, former Watsonville mayor and recently elected to state Assembly, and Santa Cruz City Councilman Ryan Coonerty.

Linda's Hearth note: I've attended the worship she offers, along Freedom Boulevard. The wonderful singer, now deceased, Joyce Diamond told me about this church. Last year, I met Raine Eisler there. If you love singing with worship, check it out, wonderful.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Does the Internet Make You Dumber?

The cognitive effects are measurable: We're turning into shallow thinkers, says Nicholas Carr.

The Roman philosopher Seneca may have put it best 2,000 years ago: "To be everywhere is to be nowhere." Today, the Internet grants us easy access to unprecedented amounts of information. But a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the Net, with its constant distractions and interruptions, is also turning us into scattered and superficial thinkers.

The picture emerging from the research is deeply troubling, at least to anyone who values the depth, rather than just the velocity, of human thought. People who read text studded with links, the studies show, comprehend less than those who read traditional linear text. People who watch busy multimedia presentations remember less than those who take in information in a more sedate and focused manner. People who are continually distracted by emails, alerts and other messages understand less than those who are able to concentrate. And people who juggle many tasks are less creative and less productive than those who do one thing at a time.

[Cover_Main] Mick Coulas

The common thread in these disabilities is the division of attention. The richness of our thoughts, our memories and even our personalities hinges on our ability to focus the mind and sustain concentration. Only when we pay deep attention to a new piece of information are we able to associate it "meaningfully and systematically with knowledge already well established in memory," writes the Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel. Such associations are essential to mastering complex concepts.

When we're constantly distracted and interrupted, as we tend to be online, our brains are unable to forge the strong and expansive neural connections that give depth and distinctiveness to our thinking. We become mere signal-processing units, quickly shepherding disjointed bits of information into and then out of short-term memory.

In an article published in Science last year, Patricia Greenfield, a leading developmental psychologist, reviewed dozens of studies on how different media technologies influence our cognitive abilities. Some of the studies indicated that certain computer tasks, like playing video games, can enhance "visual literacy skills," increasing the speed at which people can shift their focus among icons and other images on screens. Other studies, however, found that such rapid shifts in focus, even if performed adeptly, result in less rigorous and "more automatic" thinking.

56 Seconds

Average time an American spends looking at a Web page.

Source: Nielsen

In one experiment conducted at Cornell University, for example, half a class of students was allowed to use Internet-connected laptops during a lecture, while the other had to keep their computers shut. Those who browsed the Web performed much worse on a subsequent test of how well they retained the lecture's content. While it's hardly surprising that Web surfing would distract students, it should be a note of caution to schools that are wiring their classrooms in hopes of improving learning.

Ms. Greenfield concluded that "every medium develops some cognitive skills at the expense of others." Our growing use of screen-based media, she said, has strengthened visual-spatial intelligence, which can improve the ability to do jobs that involve keeping track of lots of simultaneous signals, like air traffic control. But that has been accompanied by "new weaknesses in higher-order cognitive processes," including "abstract vocabulary, mindfulness, reflection, inductive problem solving, critical thinking, and imagination." We're becoming, in a word, shallower.

In another experiment, recently conducted at Stanford University's Communication Between Humans and Interactive Media Lab, a team of researchers gave various cognitive tests to 49 people who do a lot of media multitasking and 52 people who multitask much less frequently. The heavy multitaskers performed poorly on all the tests. They were more easily distracted, had less control over their attention, and were much less able to distinguish important information from trivia.

The researchers were surprised by the results. They had expected that the intensive multitaskers would have gained some unique mental advantages from all their on-screen juggling. But that wasn't the case. In fact, the heavy multitaskers weren't even good at multitasking. They were considerably less adept at switching between tasks than the more infrequent multitaskers. "Everything distracts them," observed Clifford Nass, the professor who heads the Stanford lab.

It would be one thing if the ill effects went away as soon as we turned off our computers and cellphones. But they don't. The cellular structure of the human brain, scientists have discovered, adapts readily to the tools we use, including those for finding, storing and sharing information. By changing our habits of mind, each new technology strengthens certain neural pathways and weakens others. The cellular alterations continue to shape the way we think even when we're not using the technology.

The pioneering neuroscientist Michael Merzenich believes our brains are being "massively remodeled" by our ever-intensifying use of the Web and related media. In the 1970s and 1980s, Mr. Merzenich, now a professor emeritus at the University of California in San Francisco, conducted a famous series of experiments on primate brains that revealed how extensively and quickly neural circuits change in response to experience. When, for example, Mr. Merzenich rearranged the nerves in a monkey's hand, the nerve cells in the animal's sensory cortex quickly reorganized themselves to create a new "mental map" of the hand. In a conversation late last year, he said that he was profoundly worried about the cognitive consequences of the constant distractions and interruptions the Internet bombards us with. The long-term effect on the quality of our intellectual lives, he said, could be "deadly."

What we seem to be sacrificing in all our surfing and searching is our capacity to engage in the quieter, attentive modes of thought that underpin contemplation, reflection and introspection. The Web never encourages us to slow down. It keeps us in a state of perpetual mental locomotion.

It is revealing, and distressing, to compare the cognitive effects of the Internet with those of an earlier information technology, the printed book. Whereas the Internet scatters our attention, the book focuses it. Unlike the screen, the page promotes contemplativeness.

Reading a long sequence of pages helps us develop a rare kind of mental discipline. The innate bias of the human brain, after all, is to be distracted. Our predisposition is to be aware of as much of what's going on around us as possible. Our fast-paced, reflexive shifts in focus were once crucial to our survival. They reduced the odds that a predator would take us by surprise or that we'd overlook a nearby source of food.

To read a book is to practice an unnatural process of thought. It requires us to place ourselves at what T. S. Eliot, in his poem "Four Quartets," called "the still point of the turning world." We have to forge or strengthen the neural links needed to counter our instinctive distractedness, thereby gaining greater control over our attention and our mind.

It is this control, this mental discipline, that we are at risk of losing as we spend ever more time scanning and skimming online. If the slow progression of words across printed pages damped our craving to be inundated by mental stimulation, the Internet indulges it. It returns us to our native state of distractedness, while presenting us with far more distractions than our ancestors ever had to contend with.

Nicholas Carr is the author, most recently, of "The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains"

Linda's Hearth
note: This article was published in the Wall St Journal, July 2010

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Judge decided to NOT toss the lodging tickets as unconstitutional; doesn't believe sleeping is protected in state and federal constitutions

Judge denies dismissal of camping tickets from Peace Camp 2010

Homeless people and their allies, just before court yesterday. Forgot the man on left (sorry), then Robert Norse, attorney Ed Frey, Gail Page, adn with the great hat, Paul Lee. The top of defendant Gary peeks over attorney Frey's shoulders in this photo. photo by Dan Croyo, Sentinel

By Cathy Kelly - Santa Cruz Sentinel Posted: 01/21/2011 07:40:37 PM PST

SANTA CRUZ - A judge refused Friday to dismiss misdemeanor unlawful lodging charges against six people involved in the Peace Camp 2010 demonstration, despite their attorney's claim that the state law banning sleeping outdoors is unconstitutional.

Peace Camp 2010 began July Fourth as a protest against a Santa Cruz law, which makes it an infraction to sleep outside from 11 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. It began on the county courthouse steps, moved to Santa Cruz City Hall and fizzled out on Oct. 2. Participants wracked up several citations for sleeping outside.

At the courthouse, after issuing warnings, deputies cited sleeping people using a state law that makes lodging outside a misdemeanor offense.

Attorney Ed Frey was arrested during the protest and is representing himself and five others - Gary Allen Johnson, Colette Marie Connolly, Elliott Matthew Anderson, Christopher Doyon and Arthur William Bischoff. A jury trial is set for Jan. 31.

Frey vowed to fight on after Friday's setback, and to appeal if defeated at trial.

About 20 supporters came to the hearing.

Frey argued that the U.S. and California constitutions give people the right to the basics of life, including the right to sleep and the right to be left alone as long as no one else's rights are being infringed upon. He further argued the language in the statute is too vague and that the campers had the right to sleep as a form of protest and that it should be protected as freedom of expression.

"We are not claiming we can sleep anywhere we want; just that we can sleep somewhere," he said outside court.

But prosecutor Sara Dabkowski filed a document opposing the motion to dismiss, stating the right to sleep was not a Constitutional right. And she stated that simply because a person performs an act as an expression or for a symbolic purpose, that does not make that act constitutionally protected.

After court, she said she had no personal opinion about the argument that sleeping is a basic right, but looked forward to presenting evidence at trial.

She said several other anti-lodging cases are working their way through the system.

Homeless advocates say there are about 2,000 homeless in the county and about 200 shelter beds, and that of the 30 homeless people who died in the county last year, four died as a result of exposure coupled with acute substance abuse.

"That is part of why we're doing this. It's very real," advocate Becky Johnson said.

Gary Johnson, 46, said he wracked up 21 lodging violations. Each carries a possible six months in jail and $1,000 fine.

Johnson said he has been in Santa Cruz about 20 years and homeless for about a year. He said he has worked in the computer software field, but has not been able to find work recently.

"How are they going to reform me? Put me in jail and tell me to quit sleeping?" he said.

After Peace Camp 2010, the Santa Cruz City Council voted to dismiss citations for camping if a homeless person was on a shelter wait list when the ticket was issued.

City of Santa Cruz Noisemaker Laws Capture Students

~ Going from being a Nuisance to becoming a Criminal ~

by Linda Ellen Lemaster for Linda's Hearth

Finally leaping into 2011 New Year spirit, I was waiting my turn in the midnight supermarket check-out line last weekend, when a group of five UCSC students que'd up behind me. All in their early 20's I'd guess? One was talking about the "noise tickets" he and his three Westside housemates received Saturday night.

He said to his grocery-shopping buddies, "yeah, we EACH have to go to court. But I think it should be easy to clear this up, since two of us were asleep in the adjacent bedrooms when the cops came, and an officer had to wake us to give us the citation."

I wish them all well in court!

The obviously bright young man was believable to me: his story seemed incredible to his buddies. I remember when that 'neighborhood versus students' law was enacted. The Santa Cruz City Council assured their packed-to-the-gills, all-ages audience that police officers would "always use their discretion," as thought this should reassure people.

Again and again, in my view, this City keeps passing innovative, reactionary and experimental ordinances, without making much parallel effort to educate residents, nor appropriately analysing actual underlying needs, nor looking into peaceful and alternative modes of resolution. Legal consequences are meted out without the City's engagement in any process that gets past the structure of upset people's complaints.

Without neighborhood involvement beyond draining bitch* sessions. Without even a hint of community interaction. And it leads to deepening a chasm build out of "them or us" expletives and curses. (Not to mention poor language that wastes time in court later, to the extent that I've heard almost every sitting judge lament the City's impact, "eating up the court's overtaxed time," as one judge said last year. I see that as another different concern.)

I believe there's a serious downside with enacting too much regulatory control over people's native and human behaviors, for they preclude citizens and their friends from even communicating without any chance to find real and inclusive solutions; and then young men become "criminals" without ever having faced their accusers. If it isn't already a "conflict" when these noise complaints are called in to the police, or when weekend gatherings get unplugged, or when the court dates arrive, it will by definition *become* adversarial when it gets to court.

Our City's laws need to fit together with each other on many levels. Passing new laws to reassure people who feel agrieved or gyped, without even clarifying and concretizing and not even testing them out and engaging with citizens in the process of hammering out legal jargon, together, makes mere criminals (and possibly expenses to County and Courts?). It also helps make people become ever-moreso dependent, and even socially and politically incompetent, as citizens and neighbors.

Is this the kind of people we want inhabiting our "built-out" yet still growing little City?
It seems ill planned, to me, to set college undergraduates up to have their first run-in with "Cops and Courts" over such an arbitrary, vague and complaint-driven law.

Also, the feedback and lifestyle information that could flow from a more open and less adversarial process would be like *gold* as the City and it's municipal neighbors strive forward together, with goals of higher-rise rental housing along "service rich" arterial avenues.

Linda's Hearth
note: *I feel ok about saying the B word, having been so accused and having to come to terms with this. I don't, however, appreciate when mens call womens bitches generally. So be nice!

United Nations Human Rights Fair in Santa Cruz

Human Rights Fair Spotlights Homeless

Activists at Saturday's human

rights fair raises awareness

about global injustices and reveals

new city ordinances affecting

homeless people.

The third annual Human Rights Fair featured food, crafts, music and tables manned all day Saturday by some 15 rights groups, including Amnesty International, the Resource Center for Nonviolence and the Haiti Initiative, which is run by UC Santa Cruz students.

The fair is put on by the local chapter of the United Nations Association (UNA), which charged non-student groups $10 to run a table and $45 to sell crafts at the Galleria.

Asked whether there are human rights violations here in Santa Cruz, an UNA spokeswoman said yes and pointed to the so-called "sleeping ban."

This city ordinance, passed last June, makes sleeping outside between the hours of 11 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. a ticket-able offense.

"In Santa Cruz, there are many homeless people, services and facilities, but very often not enough. We think that the sleeping ban should be eliminated until they [homeless people] actually have facilities," said Pat Arnold, president of the Santa Cruz County chapter of the UNA.

Arnold says the sleeping ban violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an international treaty signed by the U.S. on Dec. 10, 1948, in the wake of World War II. The anniversary of that event is celebrated around the world each year as Human Rights Day.

"The United States has ratified this treaty, which codifies it into law," says Arnold. "So on a local level, we should be abiding by the declaration."

Technically, she's right.

According to the Constitution, international laws signed by the U.S. are the supreme law of the land—meaning they trump laws set at federal, state, county or city levels. At least one lawyer, Ann Fagan Ginger of Berkeley, has taken the matter to court. In practice, however, international law is rarely—if ever—given priority.

Pat Arnold, President of the Santa Cruz chapter of the United Nations Association, said the event helped her raise a "few hundred dollars" for her organization.

Pat Arnold organized this year's

Human Rights Fair.

The passage of the UN Declaration relating to the homeless ban, found in Article 25, states:

"Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services."

As Arnold sees it, a right to "housing" means a right to have a place to sleep—and if you are homeless, that includes sleeping outside.

"We decided in our board that it [Article 25] applies to the sleeping ban," she says. "Housing means a place to sleep, and that's how most people look at it. In fact, the law says that the people who are ticketed are not fined, if on that day there were no beds available in local shelters. But they still have to go through the whole process of being ticketed and going to jail and being fined."

Becky Johnson, a member of Homeless United for Freedom and Friendship (HUFF), which had a table at the fair, describes the homeless ban as "insidious" and part of a wider attack on homeless people.

"On the top burner of HUFF today is the criminalization of homelessness," says Johnson, who spent three years on the board of the Citizen's Committee, now the Homeless Services Center. "It's the tendency by a lot of local governments with a lot of little petty ordinances to make all the things that homeless people do in the course of their day illegal, whether they sit on the sidewalk, whether they beg for spare change, whether they lie down in an public place or cover up with a blanket, or sleep at night."

When homeless people try to sleep in parks at night, she says, they are slapped with a double fine, one for sleeping in public and one for trespassing in a closed park. As a result, homeless people often are up all night.

"They're extremely exhausted, so they go there [to parks] in the daytime to sleep, but then people go, 'Oh, look at those lazy homeless people lying around,'" Johnson says. "Well, let them sleep at night, and they'll probably be doing a lot better, looking for a job in the daytime or finding housing or getting back into programs or school. Most homeless people do get back into housing."

The average length of homelessness in the city is four months, according to the 2009 Santa Cruz County Homeless Census, conducted by United Way. At that time, there were 2,265 homeless people in the county, down 20 percent from 2007.

Other ordinances that make life unnecessarily difficult for homeless people, according to Johnson, include bans for the following activities—lying on benches, playing guitar within 10 feet of a statue, sitting on public property not "customarily used" for sitting and loitering in public parking garages.

A homeless man visiting the HUFF table said the ordinances are part of a push to gentrify Santa Cruz.

"They've eliminated all the housing and jobs around here that normal people do and expect that everybody is just going to go away," said Lee, who gave only his first name. "It doesn't work like that."

Lee has been without a home for the last five years. "Basically," he said, "this town is on an unviable path toward gentrification."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lodging Law being tried Friday, January 21, 2011, at 1:30 pm in Department 2


Sleeping Outside at Night Deemed Illegal,

as Everywhere Else in Public

excerpt of article from Becky Johnson, One Woman Talking, on Blogspot

This Friday, following a flurry of briefs filed back and forth between the City and the District Attorney's office, the first major court hearing will be held this Friday, January 21st, 2011 at 1:30 PM in Department 2. The State anti-lodging law makes it illegal to "lodge" anywhere within the state boundaries absent a deed, a mortgage, a lease, a rental agreement, or a receipt for a local motel room. This is a misdemeanor which allows for immediate arrest and jailing.

Peace Camp 2o1o had been protesting the City of Santa Cruz' MC 6.36.010 section a also known as the Sleeping Ban, which is an infraction, when sheriff's surprised them by making arrests under the more serious, anti-lodging law.

Frey, representing himself, along with six other defendants including Gary Johnson and Collette Connally, two of Peace Camp 2010's most courageous protesters. Both are protesting the law which makes it a crime to sleep out of doors anywhere within the city limits outside of a home or motel room, outdoors or in a legally parked vehicle. A separate provision outlaws the use of a blanket at night even if the person remains wide awake.

Linda's Hearth
note: see more photos and rest of this article at Her photo above features my wonderful friend, Colette, getting awakened by the state, outside Santa Cruz County courthouse plaza.
This Friday, following a flurry of briefs filed back and forth between the City and the District Attorney's office, the first major court hearing will be held this Friday, January 21st, 2011 at 1:30 PM in Department 2. The State anti-lodging law makes it illegal to "lodge" anywhere within the state boundaries absent a deed, a mortgage, a lease, a rental agreement, or a receipt for a local motel room. This is a misdemeanor which allows for immediate arrest and jailing.

Peace Camp 2o1o had been protesting the City of Santa Cruz' MC 6.36.010 section a also known as the Sleeping Ban, which is an infraction, when sheriff's surprised them by making arrests under the more serious, anti-lodging law.

Frey, representing himself, along with six other defendants including Gary Johnson and Collette Connally, two of Peace Camp 2010's most courageous protesters. Both are protesting the law which makes it a crime to sleep out of doors anywhere within the city limits outside of a home or motel room, outdoors or in a legally parked vehicle. A separate provision outlaws the use of a blanket at night even if the person remains wide awake.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Nonviolence is One of The Ten Key Values of the Green Party


The Arizona Green Party
Continues to Advocate Non-Violence
After Tragedy in Tucson
January 10, 2011

ARIZONA – The Arizona Green Party is both saddened and outraged in response to the acts of domestic terrorism that plagued not only the City of Tucson this weekend, but our whole nation. Our hearts go out to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords as well as all the victims and their families, friends, and communities affected by this senseless tragedy. Our sincerest condolences to those lives that were lost devastatingly on Saturday and we hope for a speedy recovery to those beginning their healing process.

Nonviolence is one of The Ten Key Values of the Green Party. We promote non-violent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree, and will guide our actions toward lasting personal, community and global peace. Peace is not just the absence of violence; it is a willingness to resolve conflict in a constructive manner with a spirit of good will and respect.

Violence is never an answer. We, the Arizona Green Party, will continue to advocate for peace and non-violence in the wake of this tragedy in Tucson and everyday; that bloodshed and brutality are not replacements for compassionate dialogue and diplomatic action.

Arizona Green Party (AZGP)
(602) 417-0213
P.O. Box 60173
Phoenix , AZ 85082

Green Party of California Updates mailing list

Tent City in Lubbock, Texas Thanks to Carpenter's Church

FREEZING THERE: Homeless pitch

tents in public lot ~~

City says it's legal

By Michael Slother

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The freezing weather is especially hard for Lubbock's homeless. Many continue to struggle with finding a place where they are allowed to sleep. Some have discovered a new option downtown.

Some of the homeless have pitched tents in a vacant public lot off of Avenue Q and Broadway. The city passed a curfew banning people from certain public areas between midnight and 5 a.m. This lot is not included in the ordinance. The city says as long as the people don't break any laws or pose a threat to public safety, they can stay.

Clifford Van Loan has been homeless since May. He says others like him aren't trying to be a public nuisance, but trying to seek shelter. "Worthless trash, hobos, whatever you want to call us; We're just trying to stay warm," he said.

Van Loan spent his day applying a waterproof seal to the tents so they were ready to battle the elements. "This does shield you from the wind and protects you from precipitation so this is a viable option for many of us."

So far the Carpenter's Church has around 10 tents that they'll be renting out to those in need. There are rules, however. "One of the conditions the church places on lending us these tents is to keep drugs and alcohol away," Van Loan told us.

"It is not against the law for those people to be there. It is only a violation of the law when they start violating the laws already on the books in Lubbock," said city councilman Paul Beane.

Lubbock's homeless population continues to gain the attention of city council and the public. Even though tents and sleeping bags will help temporarily, many still feel the homeless need an indoor shelter besides the Salvation Army, including Councilman Todd Klein. "I think there is a need for greater shelter and also tough love to say we need you to be compliant so we can bring you in from the elements," Klein said.

Van Loan says he hopes those who join him on the lot will act responsibly so this will be a place the homeless are welcome. "If you're out on the street, you should not be a wild animal. That's one of the problems we had at the library and we don't want that to happen here," he said.

The Carpenter's Church says instead of people donating old sleeping bags or tents that may not be in good shape they're encouraging donations to help buy new sleeping bags and tents that will keep folks warm in these freezing temperatures.

You can e-mail Barrett Smith with Carpenter's Church here.

©2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11. All rights reserved.


WOMEN in RECOVERY – Relationships

from Elizabeth Kübler-Ross

January 12, 2011

6 Ways to Handle a Relationship After Trauma Changes a Partner

A traumatic event can change any relationship in a split second. It could be a sickness, death of a loved one, or memories of abusive sex. The damage can take its toll over the course of years, tearing apart trust and intimacy, unless the couple knows how to handle the situation.

The dynamics of any traumatic, life changing experience are outlined by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross as following a course of steps, beginning with denial, then anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance and healing. There is no time-line to these stages, so each can last anywhere from days to years depending on the events and the person dealing with them.

1. Open Up

While it may feel most comfortable to avoid the topic completely, after a traumatic event has occurred, at some point many counselors recommend opening up to your partner, even if it’s just sharing how uncomfortable you are. This helps break the silence, giving permission for either partner to share their thoughts and feelings. They may want to talk, they may not, but the important thing is that you have taken the first step towards showing them you are there when they’re ready.

2. Encourage Them to Talk

While it is understandable that a changed partner may resist talking about certain events, there is evidence that sharing these with a loved one in a safe environment can help promote closure. Trauma expert Judith Herman has concluded that when a trauma victim tells their story as if they were a character, rather than reliving the events as they happened in their mind, the memories slowly disassociate themselves with the actual occurrence. The safety of their partner becomes a buffer to minimize the traumatic processing of details.

3. Wear a Thick Skin

One of the more difficult parts of helping a partner through trauma is dealing with the mental and verbal carnage. Traumatic stress makes people say and do things they normally wouldn’t, especially during the angry stage, and a partner might need a pretty thick skin to get through it. Therapists recommend encouraging your partner to have an imaginary conversation with the person responsible for the event (assailant, deceased, cheating partner, etc.), giving them the opportunity to work through bottled up frustration, anger, and regret.

4. Share Your Own Story

While the victim may be having the most difficult time handling their emotions, it is important for them to realize their loved ones are suffering too. Ask for permission to share your own haunting images, which may include a call about the accident, making a call to 911, riding in an ambulance, hearing the sirens, or driving to the hospital. The loved ones of victims are victims themselves, and need the opportunity to tell their own story. In the end both partners will understand each other better.

5. Coax Them Towards New Experiences

Bessel Van Der Kolk, a clinician for post-traumatic stress, recommends keeping the victim busy with new experiences and sensations. After a traumatic event, one of the reasons people change is they are constantly reminded of the event every time they feel a similar sensation. The body remembers, or “keeps score,” as Van Der Kolk would say. Anxious moments that cause the heartbeat to flutter or temperature to rise, can serve as painful reminders. Allowing your partner to experience these sensations through joyous events can change the body’s memory of these sensations, allowing them to feel more normal again.

6. Resilience and Patience

While the initial moments of inviting your partner to partake in activities may seem anti-productive, it is important to note that the body is designed to defend itself from emotional injury. This means that any moments you create of connection, good health, and laughter may be countered by their body’s need to stay alert towards danger, illness, and/or loss. Don’t hurry their healing process, or put their grievance on a timetable (“You should be over this by now”). Hang in there, as each new happy memory will have a way of countering the bad ones from the past.

While you may not be your partner’s therapist, and should not take the place of one, your partners greatest chance of settling back into a normal life (normal relationships), is through your own strength, stamina, encouragement, resilience, and courage.

By Eric J. Leech @

A Celebration of Women

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Homelessness: A Tragic Form of Poverty


In trying to tackle the problem
we could learn
from Jordan and Cuba
Young person homeless hungry and begging in London.

A young homeless person begging in London.
Photograph: Janine Wiedel Photolibrary

I'm in Jordan for a conference and I asked a friend who works for the ministry of planning and international co-operation what she remembered about her time in England (studying for a master's). She said: "Homeless people. There are no homeless people in Jordan." Walking around Jerash (just north of Amman, site of the largest Roman ruins outside Italy), I saw that what she said is true.

It is by no means the first time someone has told me of their surprise at seeing so many homeless people in England.

People from poor countries tend to assume that rich countries will have solved such social problems. But the reverse is true. According to a 2007 survey by York University's centre for housing policy, homelessness was found to be increasing in Sweden, Canada, the US, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. The rate remains stable in Australia, and England and Germany were the only countries studied where falls in homelessness were apparent.

According to the survey, "economic transition [from socialism] has brought a degree of social disruption, and homelessness has emerged as an issue to be tackled" in Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

A 2008 assessment of homeless in the US found there to be about 400,000 homeless people in the country, 30% of whom are defined as "chronic homeless".
"I have now visited two countries where
there are no homeless people, Jordan and Cuba
– perhaps you will know of other examples.
Both are countries with serious problems, economic
and social. But they have managed to avoid this
particular assault on our collective dignity."
There are few forms of poverty worse that homelessness. Any hardship or challenge is best borne together with others, in family or community. In fact, hardship can bring communities together, bringichallenge is best borne together with others, in family or community. In fact, hardship can bring communities together, bringing out the best in the human spirit. It is a mistake to view poor people with pity, when they are often happier than affluent people. But there is no dignity in homelessness, in loneliness, in desperation and begging.

I have worked with street children in Medellín, Guatemala City and Kolkata. What they lacked most was not opportunity, safety and food, but family, friends and community. Allowing children to live on the street is the ultimate sign of societal failure, both moral and managerial. And yet homeless children are not just a poor-world phenomenon. According to a 2007 report by the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless, child homelessness is "slowly emerging as a problem in Europe, but will most likely increase if measures are not rapidly taken to counter this phenomenon".

I have now visited two countries where there are no homeless people, Jordan and Cuba – perhaps you will know of other examples. Both are countries with serious problems, economic and social. But they have managed to avoid this particular assault on our collective dignity. It would be worth reflecting on why, and what other countries can learn.

The reasons for homelessness are complicated – both structural and individual. My initial assumption, would be that in Jordan (and possibly elsewhere in the Middle East) a strong family culture will not allow homelessness. Cultural lessons are some of the hardest for other countries to learn, but this implies that countries adopting policies to encourage employment and economic growth should be careful not to also encourage family and community breakdown.

In Cuba, culture cannot be the reason for zero homelessness. In all other Latin countries, with similar cultures, homelessness is a grievous problem. I assume that Cuba's economic model keeps indigence to a minimum, and that a strong state response efficiently mops up any stragglers.

When I have written before about poor countries that have something to teach the rest of the world, including wealthier countries, some comments have been defensive. "I would prefer to live in England than in Jordan," comes the cry. But that is not the point. This is not a competition, nor does highlighting success in one area of social development mean disregarding major problems in another.

Homelessness is one of the most tragic forms of poverty, and it blights rich countries as much as poor ones. It is one of a growing number of social and economic problems that belie the separation of the world into developed and developing. We are all developing, and we all have lessons to learn from other cultures and countries.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Gabrielle Giffords pray for Gabrielle's recovery
Gabrielle Giffords

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Democracy Now! by Amy Goodman

How We've Created a Nation Addicted to Shopping, Work, Drugs and Sex

"Post-industrial capitalism has completely destroyed the conditions required for healthy childhood development."

December 26, 2010

AMY GOODMAN: From disease to addiction, parenting to attention deficit disorder, Canadian physician and bestselling author Gabor Maté’s work focuses on the centrality of early childhood experiences to the development of the brain, and how those experiences can impact everything from behavioral patterns to physical and mental illness. While the relationship between emotional stress and disease, and mental and physical health more broadly, is often considered controversial within medical orthodoxy, Dr. Maté argues too many doctors seem to have forgotten what was once a commonplace assumption, that emotions are deeply implicated in both the development of illness, addictions and disorders, and in their healing.

Dr. Maté is the bestselling author of four books: When the Body Says No: Understanding the Stress-Disease Connection; Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do about It; and, with Dr. Gordon Neufeld, Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers; his latest is called In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction.

In our first conversation, Dr. Maté talked about his work as the staff physician at the Portland Hotel in Vancouver, Canada, a residence and harm reduction facility in Downtown Eastside, a neighborhood with one the densest concentrations of drug addicts in North America. The Portland hosts the only legal injection site in North America, a center that’s come under fire from Canada’s Conservative government. I asked Dr. Maté to talk about his patients.

DR. GABOR MATÉ: The hardcore drug addicts that I treat, are, without exception, people who have had extraordinarily difficult lives. And the commonality is childhood abuse. In other words, these people all enter life under extremely adverse circumstances. Not only did they not get what they need for healthy development, they actually got negative circumstances of neglect. I don’t have a single female patient in the Downtown Eastside who wasn’t sexually abused, for example, as were many of the men, or abused, neglected and abandoned serially, over and over again.

And that’s what sets up the brain biology of addiction. In other words, the addiction is related both psychologically, in terms of emotional pain relief, and neurobiological development to early adversity.

AMY GOODMAN: What does the title of your book mean, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts?

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, it’s a Buddhist phrase. In the Buddhists’ psychology, there are a number of realms that human beings cycle through, all of us. One is the human realm, which is our ordinary selves. The hell realm is that of unbearable rage, fear, you know, these emotions that are difficult to handle. The animal realm is our instincts and our id and our passions.

Now, the hungry ghost realm, the creatures in it are depicted as people with large empty bellies, small mouths and scrawny thin necks. They can never get enough satisfaction. They can never fill their bellies. They’re always hungry, always empty, always seeking it from the outside. That speaks to a part of us that I have and everybody in our society has, where we want satisfaction from the outside, where we’re empty, where we want to be soothed by something in the short term, but we can never feel that or fulfill that insatiety from the outside. The addicts are in that realm all the time. Most of us are in that realm some of the time. And my point really is, is that there’s no clear distinction between the identified addict and the rest of us. There’s just a continuum in which we all may be found. They’re on it, because they’ve suffered a lot more than most of us.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the biology of addiction?

DR. GABOR MATÉ: For sure. You see, if you look at the brain circuits involved in addiction—and that’s true whether it’s a shopping addiction like mine or an addiction to opiates like the heroin addict—we’re looking for endorphins in our brains. Endorphins are the brain’s feel good, reward, pleasure and pain relief chemicals. They also happen to be the love chemicals that connect us to the universe and to one another.

Now, that circuitry in addicts doesn’t function very well, as the circuitry of incentive and motivation, which involves the chemical dopamine, also doesn’t function very well. Stimulant drugs like cocaine and crystal meth, nicotine and caffeine, all elevate dopamine levels in the brain, as does sexual acting out, as does extreme sports, as does workaholism and so on.

Now, the issue is, why do these circuits not work so well in some people, because the drugs in themselves are not surprisingly addictive. And what I mean by that is, is that most people who try most drugs never become addicted to them. And so, there has to be susceptibility there. And the susceptible people are the ones with these impaired brain circuits, and the impairment is caused by early adversity, rather than by genetics.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, “early adversity”?

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, the human brain, unlike any other mammal, for the most part develops under the influence of the environment. And that’s because, from the evolutionary point of view, we developed these large heads, large fore-brains, and to walk on two legs we have a narrow pelvis. That means—large head, narrow pelvis—we have to be born prematurely. Otherwise, we would never get born. The head already is the biggest part of the body. Now, the horse can run on the first day of life. Human beings aren’t that developed for two years. That means much of our brain development, that in other animals occurs safely in the uterus, for us has to occur out there in the environment. And which circuits develop and which don’t depend very much on environmental input.

When people are mistreated, stressed or abused, their brains don’t develop the way they ought to. It’s that simple. And unfortunately, my profession, the medical profession, puts all the emphasis on genetics rather than on the environment, which, of course, is a simple explanation. It also takes everybody off the hook.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean, it takes people off the hook?

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, if people’s behaviors and dysfunctions are regulated, controlled and determined by genes, we don’t have to look at child welfare policies, we don’t have to look at the kind of support that we give to pregnant women, we don’t have to look at the kind of non-support that we give to families, so that, you know, most children in North America now have to be away from their parents from an early age on because of economic considerations. And especially in the States, because of the welfare laws, women are forced to go find low-paying jobs far away from home, often single women, and not see their kids for most of the day. Under those conditions, kids’ brains don’t develop the way they need to.

And so, if it’s all caused by genetics, we don’t have to look at those social policies; we don’t have to look at our politics that disadvantage certain minority groups, so cause them more stress, cause them more pain, in other words, more predisposition for addictions; we don’t have to look at economic inequalities. If it’s all genes, it’s all—we’re all innocent, and society doesn’t have to take a hard look at its own attitudes and policies.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about this whole approach of criminalization versus harm reduction, how you think addicts should be treated, and how they are, in the United States and Canada?

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, the first point to get there is that if people who become severe addicts, as shown by all the studies, were for the most part abused children, then we realize that the war on drugs is actually waged against people that were abused from the moment they were born, or from an early age on. In other words, we’re punishing people for having been abused. That’s the first point.

The second point is, is that the research clearly shows that the biggest driver of addictive relapse and addictive behavior is actually stress. In North America right now, because of the economic crisis, a lot of people are eating junk food, because junk foods release endorphins and dopamine in the brain. So that stress drives addiction.

Now imagine a situation where we’re trying to figure out how to help addicts. Would we come up with a system that stresses them to the max? Who would design a system that ostracizes, marginalizes, impoverishes and ensures the disease of the addict, and hope, through that system, to rehabilitate large numbers? It can’t be done. In other words, the so-called “war on drugs,” which, as the new drug czar points out, is a war on people, actually entrenches addiction deeply. Furthermore, it institutionalizes people in facilities where the care is very—there’s no care. We call it a “correctional” system, but it doesn’t correct anything. It’s a punitive system. So people suffer more, and then they come out, and of course they’re more entrenched in their addiction than they were when they went in.

AMY GOODMAN: I’m curious about your own history, Gabor Maté.


AMY GOODMAN: You were born in Nazi-occupied Hungary?

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, ADD has a lot to do with that. I have attention deficit disorder myself. And again, most people see it as a genetic problem. I don’t. It actually has to do with those factors of brain development, which in my case occurred as a Jewish infant under Nazi occupation in the ghetto of Budapest. And the day after the pediatrician—sorry, the day after the Nazis marched into Budapest in March of 1944, my mother called the pediatrician and says, “Would you please come and see my son, because he’s crying all the time?” And the pediatrician says, “Of course I’ll come. But I should tell you, all my Jewish babies are crying.”

Now infants don’t know anything about Nazis and genocide or war or Hitler. They’re picking up on the stresses of their parents. And, of course, my mother was an intensely stressed person, her husband being away in forced labor, her parents shortly thereafter being departed and killed in Auschwitz. Under those conditions, I don’t have the kind of conditions that I need for the proper development of my brain circuits. And particularly, how does an infant deal with that much stress? By tuning it out. That’s the only way the brain can deal with it. And when you do that, that becomes programmed into the brain.

And so, if you look at the preponderance of ADD in North America now and the three millions of kids in the States that are on stimulant medication and the half-a-million who are on anti-psychotics, what they’re really exhibiting is the effects of extreme stress, increasing stress in our society, on the parenting environment. Not bad parenting. Extremely stressed parenting, because of social and economic conditions. And that’s why we’re seeing such a preponderance.

So, in my case, that also set up this sense of never being soothed, of never having enough, because I was a starving infant. And that means, all my life, I have this propensity to soothe myself. How do I do that? Well, one way is to work a lot and to gets lots of admiration and lots of respect and people wanting me. If you get the impression early in life that the world doesn’t want you, then you’re going to make yourself wanted and indispensable. And people do that through work. I did it through being a medical doctor. I also have this propensity to soothe myself through shopping, especially when I’m stressed, and I happen to shop for classical compact music. But it goes back to this insatiable need of the infant who is not soothed, and they have to develop, or their brain develop, these self-soothing strategies.

AMY GOODMAN: How do you think kids with ADD, with attention deficit disorder, should be treated?

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, if we recognize that it’s not a disease and it’s not genetic, but it’s a problem of brain development, and knowing the good news, fortunately—and this is also true for addicts—that the brain, the human brain, can develop new circuits even later on in life—and that’s called neuroplasticity, the capacity of the brain to be molded by new experience later in life—then the question becomes not of how to regulate and control symptoms, but how do you promote development. And that has to do with providing kids with the kind of environment and nurturing that they need so that those circuits can develop later on.

That’s also, by the way, what the addict needs. So instead of a punitive approach, we need to have a much more compassionate, caring approach that would allow these people to develop, because the development is stuck at a very early age.

AMY GOODMAN: You began your talk last night at Columbia, which I went to hear, at the law school, with a quote, and I’d like you to end our conversation with that quote.

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Would that be the quote that only in the presence of compassion will people allow themselves—


DR. GABOR MATÉ: Oh, oh, no, yeah, Naguib Mahfouz, the great Egyptian writer. He said that "Nothing records the effects of a sad life” so completely as the human body—“so graphically as the human body.” And you see that sad life in the faces and bodies of my patients.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Gabor Maté, author of In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. He’s a bestselling author. He’s a physician in Canada.

In that first interview, we touched briefly on his work on attention deficit disorder, the subject of his book Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder Originates and What You Can Do about It. Well, just about a month ago, we had Dr. Maté back on Democracy Now! to talk more about ADD, as well as parenting, bullying, the education system, and how a litany of stresses on the family environment is leading to what he calls the "destruction of the American childhood."

DR. GABOR MATÉ: In the United States right now, there are three million children receiving stimulant medications for ADHD.


DR. GABOR MATÉ: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. And there are about half-a-million kids in this country receiving heavy-duty anti-psychotic medications, medications such as are usually given to adult schizophrenics to regulate their hallucinations. But in this case, children are getting it to control their behavior. So what we have is a massive social experiment of the chemical control of children’s behavior, with no idea of the long-term consequences of these heavy-duty anti-psychotics on kids.

And I know that Canadians statistics just last week showed that within last five years, 43—there’s been a 43 percent increase in the rate of dispensing of stimulant prescriptions for ADD or ADHD, and most of these are going to boys. In other words, what we’re seeing is an unprecedented burgeoning of the diagnosis. And I should say, really, I’m talking about, more broadly speaking, what I would call the destruction of American childhood, because ADD is just a template, or it’s just an example of what’s going on. In fact, according to a recent study published in the States, nearly half of American adolescents now meet some criteria or criteria for mental health disorders. So we’re talking about a massive impact on our children of something in our culture that’s just not being recognized.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain exactly what attention deficit disorder is, what attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is.

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, specifically ADD is a compound of three categorical set of symptoms. One has to do with poor impulse control. So, these children have difficulty controlling their impulses. When their brain tells them to do something, from the lower brain centers, there’s nothing up here in the cortex, which is where the executive functions are, which is where the functions are that are supposed to tell us what to do and what not to do, those circuits just don’t work. So there’s poor impulse control. They act out. They behave aggressively. They speak out of turn. They say the wrong thing. Adults with ADD will shop compulsively, or impulsively, I should say, and, again, behave in impulsive fashion. So, poor impulse control.

But again, please notice that the impulse control problem is general amongst kids these days. In other words, it’s not just the kids diagnosed with ADD, but a lot of kids. And there’s a whole lot of new diagnoses now. And children are being diagnosed with all kinds of things. ADD is just one example. There’s a new diagnosis called oppositional defiant disorder, which again has to do with behaviors and poor impulse control, so that impulse control now has become a problem amongst children, in general, not just the specific ones diagnosed with ADD.

The second criteria for ADD is physical hyperactivity. So the part of the brain, again, that’s supposed to regulate physical activity and keep you still just, again, doesn’t work.

And then, finally, in the third criteria is poor attention skills—tuning out; not paying attention; mind being somewhere else; absent-mindedness; not being able to focus; beginning to work on something, five minutes later the mind goes somewhere else. So, kind of a mental restlessness and the lack of being still, lack of being focused, lack of being present. These are the three major criteria of ADD.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to this point that you just raised about the destruction of American childhood. What do you mean by that?

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, the conditions in which children develop have been so corrupted and troubled over the last several decades that the template for normal brain development is no longer present for many, many kids. And Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk, who’s a professor of psychiatry at Boston—University of Boston, he actually says that the neglect or abuse of children is the number one public health concern in the United States. A recent study coming out of Notre Dame by a psychologist there has shown that the conditions for child development that hunter-gatherer societies provided for their children, which are the optimal conditions for development, are no longer present for our kids. And she says, actually, that the way we raise our children today in this country is increasingly depriving them of the practices that lead to well-being in a moral sense.

So what’s really going on here now is that the developmental conditions for healthy childhood psychological and brain development are less and less available, so that the issue of ADD is only a small part of the general issue that children are no longer having the support for the way they need to develop.

As I made the point in my book about addiction, as well, the human brain does not develop on its own, does not develop according to a genetic program, depends very much on the environment. And the essential condition for the physiological development of these brain circuits that regulate human behavior, that give us empathy, that give us a social sense, that give us a connection with other people, that give us a connection with ourselves, that allows us to mature—the essential condition for those circuits, for their physiological development, is the presence of emotionally available, consistently available, non-stressed, attuned parenting caregivers.

Now, what do you have in a country where the average maternity leave is six weeks? These kids don’t have emotional caregivers available to them. What do you have in a country where poor women, nearly 50 percent of them, suffer from postpartum depression? And when a woman has postpartum depression, she can’t be attuned to the child.

AMY GOODMAN: And what about fathers?

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, the situation with fathers is, is that increasingly—there was a study recently that showed an increasing number of men are having postpartum depression, as well. And the main role of the father, of course, would be to support the mother. But when people are—emotionally, because the cause of postpartum depression in the mother it is not intrinsic to the mother—not intrinsic to the mother.

What we have to understand here is that human beings are not discrete, individual entities, contrary to the free enterprise myth that people are competitive, individualistic, private entities. What people actually are are social creatures, very much dependent on one another and very much programmed to cooperate with one another when the circumstances are right. When that’s not available, if the support is not available for women, that’s when they get depressed. When the fathers are stressed, they’re not supporting the women in that really important, crucial bonding role in the beginning. In fact, they get stressed and depressed themselves.

The child’s brain development depends on the presence of non-stressed, emotionally available parents. In this country, that’s less and less available. Hence, you’ve got burgeoning rates of autism in this country. It’s going up like 20- or 30-fold in the last 30 or 40 years.

AMY GOODMAN: Say what you mean by autism.

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, autism is a whole spectrum of disorders, but the essential quality of it is an emotional disconnect. These children are living in a mind of their own. They don’t respond appropriately to emotional cues. They withdraw. They act out in an aggressive and sometimes just unpredictable fashion. They don’t know how to—there’s no sense—there’s no clear sense of a emotional connection and just peace inside them.

And there’s many, many more kids in this country now, several-fold increase, 20-fold increase in the last 30 years. The rates of anxiety amongst children is increasing. The numbers of kids on antidepressant medications has increased tremendously. The number of kids being diagnosed with bipolar disorder has gone up. And then not to mention all the behavioral issues, the bullying that I’ve already mentioned, the precocious sexuality, the teenage pregnancies. There’s now a program, a so-called "reality show," that just focuses on teenage mothers.

You know, in other words—see, it never used to be that children grew up in a stressed nuclear family. That wasn’t the normal basis for child development. The normal basis for child development has always been the clan, the tribe, the community, the neighborhood, the extended family. Essentially, post-industrial capitalism has completely destroyed those conditions. People no longer live in communities which are still connected to one another. People don’t work where they live. They don’t shop where they live. The kids don’t go to school, necessarily, where they live. The parents are away most of the day. For the first time in history, children are not spending most of their time around the nurturing adults in their lives. And they’re spending their lives away from the nurturing adults, which is what they need for healthy brain development.


AMY GOODMAN: Talk about how the drugs, Gabor Maté, affect the development of the brain.

DR. GABOR MATÉ: In ADD, there’s an essential brain chemical, which is necessary for incentive and motivation, that seems to be lacking. That’s called dopamine. And dopamine is simply an essential life chemical. Without it, there’s no life. Mice in a laboratory who have no dopamine will starve themselves to death, because they have no incentive to eat. Even though they’re hungry, and even though their life is in danger, they will not eat, because there’s no motivation or incentive. So, partly, one way to look at ADD is a massive problem of motivation, because the dopamine is lacking in the brain. Now, the stimulant medications elevate dopamine levels, and these kids are now more motivated. They can focus and pay attention.

However, the assumption underneath giving these kids medications is that what we’re dealing with here is a genetic disorder, and the only way to deal with it is pharmacologically. And if you actually look at how the dopamine levels in a brain develop, if you look at infant monkeys and you measure their dopamine levels, and they’re normal when they’re with their mothers, and when you separate them from mothers, the dopamine levels go down within two or three days.

So, in other words, what we’re doing is we’re correcting a massive social problem that has to do with disconnection in a society and the loss of nurturing, non-stressed parenting, and we’re replacing that chemically. Now, the drugs—the stimulant drugs do seem to work, and a lot of kids are helped by it. The problem is not so much whether they should be used or not; the problem is that 80 percent of the time a kid is prescribed a medication, that’s all that happens. Nobody talks to the family about the family environment. The school makes no attempt to change the school environment. Nobody connects with these kids emotionally. In other words, it’s seen simply as a medical or a behavioral problem, but not as a problem of development.

AMY GOODMAN: Gabor Maté, you talk about acting out. What does acting out mean?

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, it’s a great question. You see, when we hear the phrase "acting out," we usually mean that a kid is behaving badly, that a child is being obstreperous, oppositional, violent, bullying, rude. That’s because we don’t know how to speak English anymore. The phrase "acting out" means you’re portraying behavior that which you haven’t got the words to say in language. In a game of charades, you have to act out, because you’re not allowed to speak. If you landed in a country where nobody spoke your language and you were hungry, you would have to literally demonstrate your anger—sorry, your hunger, through behavior, pointing to your mouth or to your empty belly, because you don’t have the words.

My point is that, yes, a lot of children are acting out, but it’s not bad behavior. It’s a representation of emotional losses and emotional lacks in their lives. And whether it’s, again, bullying or a whole set of other behaviors, what we’re dealing with here is childhood stunted emotional development—in some cases, stunted pain development. And rather than trying to control these behaviors through punishments, or even just exclusively through medications, we need to help these kids develop.

AMY GOODMAN: You mentioned you suffered from ADD, attention deficit disorder, yourself—


AMY GOODMAN:—and were drugged for it. Explain your own story.

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, I was in my early fifties, and I was working in palliative care at the time. I was coordinator of a palliative care unit at a large Canadian hospital. And a social worker in the unit, who had just been diagnosed as an adult, told me about her story. And as a physician, I was like most physicians who know nothing about ADD. Most physicians really don’t know about the condition. But when she told me her story, I realized that was me. And subsequently, I was diagnosed. And—

AMY GOODMAN: And what was that story? What did you realize was you?

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Oh, poor impulse control a lot of my life, impulsive behaviors, disorganization, a tendency to tune out a lot, be absentminded, and physical restlessness. I mean, I had trouble sitting still. All the traits, you know, that I saw in the literature on ADD, I recognized in myself, which was kind of an epiphany, in a sense, because you get to understand—at least you get a sense of why you’re behaving the way you’re behaving.

What never made sense to me right from the beginning, though, is the idea of ADD as a genetic disease. And not even after a couple of my kids were diagnosed with it, I still didn’t buy the idea that it’s genetic, because it isn’t. Again, it has to do with, in my case, very stressed circumstances as an infant, which I talked about on a previous program. In the case of my children, it’s because their father was a workaholic doctor who wasn’t emotionally available to them. And under those circumstances, children are stressed. I mean, if children are stressed when their brains are developing, one way to deal with the stress is to tune out.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about holding on to your kids, why parents need to matter more than peers.

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Amy, in 1998, there was a book that was on the New York Times best book of the year and nearly won the Pulitzer Prize, and it was called The Nurture Assumption, in which this researcher argued that parents don’t make any difference anymore, because she looked at the—to the extent that Newsweek actually had a cover article that year entitled "Do Parents Matter?" Now, if you want to get the full stupidity of that question, you have to imagine a veterinarian magazine asking, "Does the mother cat make any difference?" or "Does the mother bear matter?" But the research showed that children are being more influenced now, in their tastes, in their attitudes, in their behaviors, by peers than by parents. This poor researcher concluded that this is somehow natural. And what she mistook was that what is the norm in North America, she actually thought that was natural and healthy. In fact, it isn’t.

So, our book, Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More than Peers, is about showing why it is true that children are being more influenced by other kids in these days than by their parents, but just what an aberration that is, and what a distortion it is of normal human development, because normal human development demands, as normal mammalian development demands, the presence of nurturing parents. You know, even birds—birds don’t develop properly unless the mother and father bird are there. Bears, cats, rats, mice. Although, most of all, human beings, because human beings are the least mature and the most dependent for the longest period of time.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the importance of attachment?

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Attachment is the drive to be close to somebody, and attachment is a power force in human relationship—in fact, the most powerful force there is. Even as adults, when attachment relationships that people want to be close to are lost to us or they’re threatened somehow, we get very disoriented, very upset. Now, for children and babies and adolescents, that’s an absolute necessity, because the more immature you are, the more you need your attachments. It’s like a force of gravity that pulls two bodies together. Now, when the attachment goes in the wrong direction, instead of to the adults, but to the peer group, childhood developments can be distorted, development is stopped in its tracks, and parenting and teaching become extremely difficult.

AMY GOODMAN: You co-wrote this book, and you both found, in your experience, Hold on to Your Kids, that your kids were becoming increasingly secretive and unreachable.

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, that’s the thing. You see, now, if your spouse or partner, adult spouse or partner, came home from work and didn’t give you the time of day and got on the phone and talked with other people all the time and spent all their time on email talking to other people, your friends wouldn’t say, "You’ve got a behavioral problem. You should try tough love." They’d say you’ve got a relationship problem. But when children act in these ways, we think we have a behavioral problem, we try and control the behaviors. In fact, what they’re showing us is that—my children showed this, as well—is that I had a relationship problem with them. They weren’t connected enough with me and too connected to the peer group. So that’s why they wanted to spend all their time with their peer group. And now we’ve given kids the technology to do that with. So the terrible downside of the internet is that now kids are spending time with each other—

AMY GOODMAN: Not even in the presence of each other.

DR. GABOR MATÉ: That’s exactly the point, because, you see, that’s an attachment dynamic. One of the basic ways that people attach to each other is to want to be with the people that you want to connect with. So when kids spend time with each other, it’s not a behavior problem; it’s a sign that their relationships have been skewed towards the peer group. And that’s why it’s so difficult to peel them off their computers, because their desperation is to connect with the people that they’re trying to attach to. And that’s no longer us, as the adults, as the parents in their life.

AMY GOODMAN: So how do you change this dynamic?

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, first we have to recognize its manifestations. And so, we have to recognize that whenever the child doesn’t look adults in the eye anymore, when the child wants to be always on the Skype or the cell phone or twittering or emailing or MSM messengering, you recognize it when the child becomes oppositional to adults. We tend to think that that’s a normal childhood phenomenon. It’s normal only to a certain degree.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, they have to rebel in order to separate later.

DR. GABOR MATÉ: No. They have to separate, but they don’t have to rebel. In other words, separation is a normal human—individuation is a normal human developmental stage. You have to become a separate, individual person. But it doesn’t mean you have to reject and be hostile to the values of the adults. As a matter of fact, in traditional societies, children would become adults by being initiated into the adult group by elders, like the Jewish Bar Mitzvah ceremony or the initiation rituals of tribal cultures around the world. Now kids are initiated by other kids. And now you have the gang phenomenon, so that the teenage gang phenomenon is actually a misplaced initiation and orientation ritual, where kids are now rebelling against adult values. But it’s not because they’re bad kids, but because they’ve become disconnected from adults.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Maté, there’s a whole debate about education in the United States right now. How does this fit in?

DR. GABOR MATÉ: Well, you have to ask, how do children learn? How do children learn? And learning is an attachment dynamic, as well. You learn when you want to be like somebody. So you copy them, so you learn from them. You learn when you’re curious. And you learn when you’re willing to try something, and if it doesn’t work, you try something else.

Now, here’s what happens. Caring about something and being curious about something and recognizing that something doesn’t work, you have to have a certain degree of emotional security. You have to be able to be open and vulnerable. Children who become peer-oriented—because the peer world is so dangerous and so fraught with bullying and ostracization and dissing and exclusion and negative talk, how does a child protect himself or herself from all that negativity in the peer world? Because children are not committed to each others’ unconditional loving acceptance. Even adults have a hard time giving that. Children can’t do it. Those children become very insecure, and emotionally, to protect themselves, they shut down. They become hardened, so they become cool. Nothing matters. Cool is the ethic. You see that in the rock videos. It’s all about cool. It’s all about aggression and cool and no real emotion. Now, when that happens, curiosity goes, because curiosity is vulnerable, because you care about something and you’re admitting that you don’t know. You won’t try anything, because if you fail, again, your vulnerability is exposed. So, you’re not willing to have trial and error.

And in terms of who you’re learning from, as long as kids were attaching to adults, they were looking to the adults to be modeling themselves on, to learn from, and to get their cues from. Now, kids are still learning from the people they’re attached to, but now it’s other kids. So you have whole generations of kids that are looking to other kids now to be their main cue-givers. So teachers have an almost impossible problem on their hands. And unfortunately, in North America again, education is seen as a question of academic pedagogy, hence these terrible standardized tests. And the very teachers who work with the most difficult kids are the ones who are most penalized.

AMY GOODMAN: Because if they don’t have good test scores, standardized test scores, in their class—

DR. GABOR MATÉ: They’re seen as bad teachers.

AMY GOODMAN:—then they could be fired. They’re seen as bad teachers, which means they’re going to want to kick out any difficult kids.

DR. GABOR MATÉ: That’s exactly it. The difficult kids are kicked out, and teachers will be afraid to go into neighborhoods where, because of troubled family relationships, the kids are having difficulties, the kids are peer-oriented, the kids are not looking to the teachers. And this is seen as a reflection. So, actually, teachers are being slandered right now. Teachers are being slandered now because of the failure of the American society to produce the right environment for childhood development.

AMY GOODMAN: Because of the destruction of American childhood.

DR. GABOR MATÉ: That’s right. What the problem reflects is the loss of the community and the neighborhood. We have to recreate that. So, the schools have to become not just places of pedagogy, but places of emotional connection. The teachers should be in the emotional connection game before they attempt to be in the pedagogy game.

Amy Goodman is the host of the nationally syndicated radio news program, Democracy Now!.