Israeli PM Ariel Sharon undergoes emergency surgery

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon underwent emergency surgery at Hadassah Medical Center in Israel to treat intestinal damage revealed by a recent computed tomography, better known as a CT scan. The Chief Surgeon said, “Sharon is out of danger, for the moment. His condition is stable and the surgery was a success.” Sharon is currently in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital.

Yesterday doctors treating Sharon had noticed a swollen abdomen and ordered a CT scan on his torso and found the damage to his intestine. Later tests had shown that part of the large intestine had developed necrosis and needed to be immediately removed.

Hospital director Shlomo Mor-Yosef stated a press conference that there were “no complications” during surgery. “His (Sharon’s) key problem is lack of consciousness. There is no significant change in his condition. Doctors did not find any occluded artery and there were no blood vessels blocked. He is stable but in critical condition at this time and he is in no immediate danger at this moment.”

Yosef also said that Sharon’s sons and family had met earlier and decided to go forward with the surgery and treatment.

Doctors removed at least 50cm of Sharon’s large intestine.

Yosef also said that possible reasons as to why Sharon’s intestine was damaged were, “maybe infection or decline of blood supply to the intestine.” Yosef also said that the surgery was both a “routine procedure” and “not a dramatic” one. “Hospitals perform these operations sometimes two or three times a day,” he added.

Yael Bossem-Levy, a spokesman for Hadassah Medical Center said earlier that, “the prime minister’s life is in danger. His condition is now very serious, or critical. Sharon’s digestive tract has undergone severe deterioration while he’s been unconscious, and there appears to be a blockage in his blood circulation. The restricted blood flow raised the possibility of necrosis, or death of tissue, in the intestines.”

Levy also stated that Sharon’s condition has “deteriorated to its most critical point since his admission.”

The 77 year-old leader has been hospitalized since January 4th, after suffering a massive stroke which left him comatose. This is his seventh surgery since his hospitalization.

Sharon has been hospitalized for thirty-nine days, and has been on a feeding tube for two weeks.

American teenage girl charged with murder of her mother

Sunday, December 19, 2004

CRAIG, Alaska –Rachelle Waterman, (aka Rachelle Ann Monica Waterman and “smchyrocky”), a 16-year-old girl from Craig, Alaska, USA, has been charged with the first degree murder of her mother.

The case has rapidly received a wide following on the Internet, partly because Waterman kept a public record of her thoughts and activities on LiveJournal, a popular blogging service. The last entry, which has since been removed from public view, was posted on November 18, 2004 and read:

Just to let everyone know, my mother was murdered.

I won’t have computer acess [sic] until the weekend or so because the police took my computer to go through the hard drive. I thank everyone for their thoughts and e-mails, I hope to talk to you when I get my computer back.

A diverse group of users, both friends and strangers, have posted over 5,000 comments on the journal, positive and negative, transforming the case into an Internet phenomenon. Every entry since March 2004 has apparently now been deleted or hidden, but a ZIP archive of the entire weblog, from before the entries were deleted, is available on Deadly Blogging.

Waterman was a tenth-grade honor (A-average) student in her second year at Craig High School. She was also a member of the Academic Decathlon team (ACDC) and sang in the choir, a profile that has left many people questioning her involvement in the killing and asking what motive there might be. At the time police say the killing occurred, Rachelle Waterman was apparently playing in a volleyball tournament in Anchorage, Alaska.

Apart from the online diary Rachelle kept, the case is also unusual because matricide committed by female minors is extremely rare.

Contents

  • 1 Family background
  • 2 The case
    • 2.1 Police investigation
    • 2.2 Arraignment
    • 2.3 The trial
  • 3 Alleged motive
  • 4 Incarceration
  • 5 Aftermath
    • 5.1 Juvenile crime
  • 6 See also
  • 7 References
    • 7.1 Rachelle Waterman on LiveJournal
    • 7.2 Police report on the case
    • 7.3 Press reports about the case
    • 7.4 Press reports which mention the case within a larger context
    • 7.5 Scholastic Accomplishments
  • 8 External links

The Waterman family is a locally prominent, middle-upper class family. Born on August 26, 1988, Rachelle showed an interest in acting, computers, movies and music, and was an honor roll student, involved in many extra-curricular activities, including choir, volleyball, and the decathlon team – advancing to upper levels and winning prizes in almost every endeavor. Her mother, Lauri, was a teachers’ aide and served on the board of the Little League and the town library. Rachelle Waterman’s 60-year-old father, Carl “Doc” Waterman, is a real estate agent and serves as president of the Craig School Board. Rachelle’s older brother, Geoffrey, lives out of town and is a student at Tacoma College.

Waterman and her alleged accomplices, Jason Arrant and Brian Radel, both 24 years old, are accused of murdering and conspiring to murder Waterman’s 48-year-old mother, Lauri Waterman.

Reportedly, Arrant dropped Radel off near the Waterman home shortly after 12:00 a.m. Sunday, November 13, 2004 (local time) where Radel proceeded to kidnap Lauri Waterman, force her into a minivan owned by the Waterman family, and kill her with a blunt object.

Arrant and Radel then allegedly met at Forest Service Road 3012 at about 2:30 a.m., and Arrant followed Radel to its dead end, where Radel had driven the Waterman’s van.

Arrant then allegedly watched as Radel doused the body and van with gasoline and then used a roll of paper towels to set it on fire, in an attempt to destroy the evidence.

Alaska State Police Lt. Rodney Dial has stated that a hunter discovered Lauri Waterman’s body and her burnt-out van, while driving on Forest Service Road 3012, a remote logging road, early in the afternoon of Sunday November 142004.

On Saturday, November 202004, Alaska State Police Trooper Robert Claus stated:

During … interviews all three made admissions as to their involvement in the murder. Physical evidence recovered at the various crime scenes corroborated many of the defendants’ statements … Radel, Arrant and Waterman have been charged with murder in the first degree. Due to the severity of the charges, Waterman has been waived into adult court. Additional charges of solicitation, conspiracy, tampering with physical evidence and other charges are pending. Arrant and Waterman will be arraigned in the District Court in Craig this morning.

On Saturday, November 20, 2004, Rachelle appeared in Craig District Court, dressed in an orange CCJF jumpsuit, for arraignment on the charges. Waterman and her alleged co-conspirators, Jason Arrant, and Brian Radel, faced a 10-count indictment, listing 26 felonies.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported that, “the complaint against Rachelle Waterman relied on statements by all three co-defendants. The complaint says the girl told one of the suspects when she and her father would be out of town.”

A report in The Ketchikan Daily News stated that, “The first seven counts of the indictment allege that all three defendants committed the crimes of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder; first-degree murder; second-degree murder; kidnapping; first-degree burglary; first-degree vehicle theft and tampering with physical evidence.” Other charges were made against Arrant and Radel. The same report went on to state, “Trooper Robert Claus, Klawock resident Jan Bush and Deputy State Medical Examiner Susan Klingler testified before the grand jury.”

Magistrate Kay Clark presided over the arraignment and set bail at $150,000. Clark also appointed a public defender to represent Rachelle, who was sent to the Juneau Department of Corrections facility.

Judge Patricia Collins, of the Juneau Superior Court, has been assigned to run the trial for the case. Judge Collins originally set a date of February 3, 2005 for the trial, but, at an arraignment that week, the trial was rescheduled for August 22. According to court officials, another postponement is likely.

Rachelle Waterman’s court-appointed attorney for the trial is Assistant Public Advocate Steven Wells. Assistant District Attorney Daniel Schally is assigned to prosecute the case.

No motive for the crime has been suggested. Readers are closely scrutinizing Rachelle’s online journal for clues.

As early as February 24th of 2004, she posted the following:

“Don’t you hate it when the little pieces of shit pile up to the point you’re at the breaking point, and you want to scream and cry at the same time. I don’t know weather to kill somebody, myself, or just curl up into a fetal[sic] position under my covers and lay there for a couple of days. Either way . . . I’m not good . . . “

Numerous readers have pointed to Rachelle’s negative comments concerning her mother’s wishes to send her to a “fat farm” to lose weight.

“My mom finally gave me back the right to eat but wants to send me to fat camp this summer. I think it’s rather hallarious[sic]. I mean, I agree I’m chunky but if she sends me off I”ll be the skinny girl and get sat apon[sic]. That part wouldn’t be funny, but overall it’s quite amusing. Silly mother,” (verbatim spelling).

In another incident, her mother grounded her (restricted her to home) for receiving an 89% score on a test. Rachelle posted these comments to her journal in response to this situation (verbatim spelling):

“well I’m grounded, last ngiht[sic] my mom went psycho bitch on me and cast me out. So I went to crash at someone’s house then she freaked [out], wanted me home incase[sic] I told someone. Wee for loving parental units”

“I even got to fly…down the stairs….”

Other readers have pointed to the title of Rachelle’s journal, “My Crappy Life (The Inside Look of an Insane Person)”, and her negative description of her hometown as “Hell, Alaska, United States”:

“I live in the suckiest[sic] place on earth, a shit hole in alaska[sic].”

Rachelle posted the following poem to her journal on August 24, 2004, with an indication that she was depressed:

they hold the key to my chamber
locked within it’s depths.
never to see the sunlight,
and contemplating death.
starving more than one way
soul and body combine,
the pain curses through
sending chills up the spine.
will I live to see the stars?
the sunrise once more?
or will I wither and rot
my heart gone forevermore

She also had a strong desire not to be at home:

“I just want a job, keep me occupied and not at home”

and even posted an “Ode to Suicide” under the following post:

“Ever feel completely alone? All the people who you care about and you thought cared about you just leave and you’re….just alone…nobody to connect with, nobody to comfort you when you find out you might die, nobody…nothing….”

Ode to Suicide

Pain consumes my body,
eating away like lye.
Tearing at my flesh,
no more tears left to cry.

Nobody loves me,
nobody cares.
Why continue on?
I want out of these snares.

Relief and release,
is what you bring to me.
No more matters to cry for,
I can finally be free.

“wow I suck amazingly at poetry”

Finally, the weekend before Rachelle left on a trip, during which time her mother was allegedly killed, she noted in her second-to-last entry, “I had a migraine from about 9am-6pm”.

Rachelle Waterman is currently incarcerated at the Lemon Creek correctional facility, in Alaska. She signed an agreement to be placed into the general population. Corrections Deputy Commissioner Portia Parker indicated that Waterman “is an adult in the eyes of the law.”

Alaska law places persons charged with first-degree murder at the age of 16 or older in the adult court system, and most of the records concerning this case are open to the public for inspection.

One of the last entries in Rachelle’s journal wonders whether anyone is reading her comments (verbatim spelling):

“Well not a lot has happened lately I jsut thought I should let people know I”m still alive, not like too many people care cus I’m not even sure if anyone reads these from me anymore.”

Although Waterman has not yet been convicted, sociologists and forensic psychologists are beginning to study her journal and the circumstances of her writing it. (The police have seized her computer and are examining the contents of its hard drive for evidence.)

LiveJournal has subsequently restricted the viewing of her journal.

When interviewed by Alaskan television station KTUU about the nature of online journals, (in late November, 2004) forensic psychologist Susan LaGrande commented that “[i]t’s such an anonymous vehicle that you can be whoever or say whatever you want. You don’t have all the responsibilities that are inherent in a face-to-face real, legitimate relationship.

This same report pointed out that Rachelle Waterman had mentioned suicide in her online journal.

Criminologist Susan Magestro was interviewed by KTUU on the subject of juvenile crime, in late November, 2004, after Waterman became the second teenager within two months to be accused of murdering her own parent. She stated that “I think that we’re starting to see more violence with kids who are younger, and the behaviors that they’re exhibiting are more aggressive and more violent.” Magestro also opined that “we’ve got a lot more fetal alcohol and drug children who are growing up, and they don’t understand the consequences of some of their actions.” (There is no indication that Waterman was a so-called “fetal alcohol” or “drug” child.)

KTUU reported that Magestro “…blames violent movies, TV shows and videogames for desensitizing young people, making them unable to understand the consequences — or even the reality — of their actions.”

Although Waterman has been waived into the adult justice system due to the nature of the crime, the Governor of Alaska, Frank Murkowski, has proposed increasing the number of personnel assigned to the juvenile justice system.

Christian youth camp directors charged with dragging 15-year-old girl behind van

Monday, August 13, 2007

Charles Eugene Flowers and Stephanie Bassitt, who run Love Demonstrated Ministries in San Antonio, Texas, United States, have been arrested and charged with aggravated assault for tying a girl to their van and dragging her behind it on her stomach.

The victim had stopped running with a group of campers, after falling behind. She says Bassitt yelled at her while Flowers tied her to the van.

The girl was treated for injuries on her stomach, legs and arms. She reported that this was the second assault. Flowers and Bassitt remain in jail on US$100,000 bond each.

Love Demonstrated Ministries is a 32-day Christian boot camp for girls whose parents feel they are “at risk teens”. Such camps have raised controversy before.

An organization called the International Survivors Action Committee maintains a list of U.S. organizations where numerous abusive incidents have been reported; however, their list should not be taken as exhaustive. Neither Love Demonstrated Ministries nor New Horizons Youth Ministries, which has an alumni site describing abuse appeared.

Canadian university students would prefer MP3 players over car radios

Friday, March 30, 2007

At Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, students are finding that popular MP3 players, such as Apple’s iPod, are very convenient devices for listening to music at the gym, while traveling on foot, and in the car.

In a recent ad-hoc survey conducted by Wikinews contributor Darren Mar, 150 students were randomly pulled aside in the hallways of the university, and asked if they own an MP3 player. 94 of the 150 students (62.66%) did in fact own MP3 devices, most of who were found to be carrying it on them when questioned. There was one simple follow up question for those who had a player: “If it were possible to have complete and safe control of the device on the steering wheel of a car, would you rather listen to your device, or the radio?” There were three answers possible, yes, no or both. Of the 94, 78 (82.98%) said yes, eleven (11.70%) said no, and five (5.32%) said both. The reporting took place primarily on March 16, 2007. The reasons for those who would listen to their device were commercial free music, personalized choice of music, and complete control of what you are listening to.

This study was motivated by the new design of 2006+ model cars. Many are being built with auxiliary jacks for the stock radio, allowing the driver to easily connect any audio playing device to the car’s sound system with a simple 3.5mm plug. What’s more, cars in the upper price echelon are being built with (1) a custom made area in the dash for MP3 players (iPod’s being the most popular), and (2) implementing audio device control right onto the steering wheel. A good example of this is the Ford Fusion or the 2007 Lexus IS250: “The centre console input port allows an iPod, MP3 or Windows Media Audio player to be plugged into the IS audio system.”

China sets up US$10 billion credit line with European nations

Sunday, April 29, 2012

China has pledged US$10 billion in credit to back joint projects with Central and Eastern European countries. Visiting Chinese Premiere Wen Jiabao announced the deal at a business forum in Warsaw, Poland, and said he hopes the deal will facilitate the two sides’ cooperation.

To boost business and trade, Wen said that China wants to help with infrastructure projects, including new technologies and green economy sectors. Also discussed at the Economic Forum was a new investment cooperation fund which would initially boast US$500 million to assist Chinese investments in the region. He also announced a plan to expand the Chinese market with other countries with hopes to build trade exchange to US$100 billion before the year 2015.

“China will work with countries in Central and Eastern Europe to mutually open the markets and to increase the trade exchange to $100 billion before 2015,” Wen said.

He said trade volume between China and central and eastern European countries reached 52.9 billion US dollars in 2011 and had grown 27.6 percent a year on average since 2001, when it was only 4.3 billion US dollars.

Thus far, the largest Chinese investment has been a €1.2 billion (US$1.6 billion) deal made by China’s Wanhua Industrial Group that gained full control of Borsodchem, a Hungarian chemicals firm. Other recent investments were made in Serbia, where a €170 million (US$225 million) bridge was built over the Danube river in Belgrade.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland happily welcomed the Chinese investment, noting the country’s uprising economy and European leadership role. Both Wen and Tusk enthused about the potential they say their partnership has and encouraged others in the region to form similar agreements.

The Chinese are “very pragmatic” in business, Andrzej Pawelec of Agrihortus company said, who is seeking new partners in China to sell its beverages. “If they see a good and honest business proposal, they are always open.”

Wen started his official visit to Poland on Wednesday. Poland is the last leg of a four-nation Europe tour that included visits to Iceland and Sweden and the opening ceremony of the Hannover Fair in Germany.

Ukraine opposition candidate Yushchenko is suffering from a Dioxin intoxication, doctors say

Saturday, December 11, 2004

VIENNA –Doctors from the Rudolfinerhaus clinic in Vienna say “there is no doubt” Ukrainian opposition leader Victor Yushchenko was poisoned with Dioxin.

Yushchenko’s body had about 1,000 times more than the normal concentration of the toxin. It is unknown if there were any other poisons in his system.

Although it has not yet been proven that the poisoning was deliberate, doctors suspect it was. “We suspect a cause triggered by a third party,” said Michael Zimpfer, head doctor at the Rudolfinerhaus clinic. He suggested the poison may have been administered orally, through food or drink.

Today’s announcements are a follow-up of an earlier press conference, where Dr. Korpan that there were three hypotheses under consideration, one of them involving dioxin. He did not reveal what the other two hypotheses were. Dr. Michael Zimpfer, director of the Rudolfinerhaus clinic emphasized that time there was no proof yet to specify the substance causing the illness.

Yushchenko left Kiev on Friday (2004-10-12) for further examination in Vienna. When Yushchenko fell ill on October 6th, Ukrainian doctors had initially diagnosed food poisoning, leading to speculation that he had been poisoned deliberately. The illness has disfigured Yushchenko’s body and face which doctors say could take up to two years to heal.

He fell seriously ill on the September 6th, during his presidential campaign. Yushchenko was taken to the Rudolfinerhaus clinic of Vienna, where he stayed for four days under Dr. Korpan’s care. He was diagnosed with “acute pancreatitis, accompanied by interstitial edematous changes.” These symptoms were said to be due to “a serious viral infection and chemical substances which are not normally found in food products” as his campaign officials put it. In laymans terms, he developed an infection in the pancreas and got a bad skin condition that disfigured his face with cysts and lesions. The skin condition has similarities with the chloracne associated with dioxin posioning according to a British toxicologist John Henry.

Earlier, doctor Nikolai Korpan of Rudolfinerhaus clinic confirmed today that the illness of Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko was caused by an attempt to kill him.

  • Ukraine political crisis – Wikinews’ special coverage portal

Over 100 dead and hundreds missing in Indonesia after tsunami destroys island villages

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

At least 113 people are now dead and hundreds more are missing after a 10 foot (3 m) tsunami destroyed several villages in a series of remote islands in western Indonesia. The tsunami was caused by a magnitude 7.7 earthquake which struck on Monday at 9:42 p.m. local time (14:42 UTC). The epicenter of the earthquake was 78 kilometers (48 mi) west of South Pagai, one of the Mentawai Islands off the west coast of Sumatra.

“We are predicting that people will need food supplies and shelter. The rain is coming down very hard, the wind is very strong,” a local police officer said, addind that emergency posts had been set up and patrols were being made to try and locate the missing. An official said that they had purchased 200 body bags “just in case.”

We have people reporting to the security post here that they could not hold on to their children, that they were swept away. A lot of people are crying.

A local official said that most of the buildings in the coastal village of Betu Monga had been destroyed when the tsunami struck. “Of the 200 people living in that village, only 40 have been found. 160 are still missing, mostly women and children,” he said. “We have people reporting to the security post here that they could not hold on to their children, that they were swept away. A lot of people are crying.” Food supplies, he added, were running low.

Wisnu Wijaya, the preparedness director with the National Disaster Management Agency, said that the government is getting aid to the islands. “We already sent a rapid response team to this area, coordinated by the provincial government. We have local disaster management at Padang, because right now the condition of the wave is quite high,” he said. Wijaya added that high waves and stormy weather have made it difficult to reach the affected areas, and communication was a problem. Emergency shelters have been set up and the first team from Sumatra was arriving Tuesday evening to begin a rapid assessment of the aid that was needed. “Up to now, I think we still can manage this problem. Maybe also we’ll send staff to go there and make a better coordination. If they need national resources to deploy there, we’ll be ready to support local government,” Wijaya said.

We threw whatever we could that floated—surfboards, fenders—then we jumped into the water.

The head of the regional government in the affected area told local television that some of the people recorded as missing may have moved to higher ground to take refuge from the waves. Rick Hallet, who was aboard his boat when the earthquake struck, told Australian television: “We threw whatever we could that floated—surfboards, fenders—then we jumped into the water. Fortunately, most of us had something to hold on to … and we just washed in the wetlands, and scrambled up the highest trees that we could possibly find and sat up there for an hour and a half.” The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued a statement saying that radio contact had been lost with a tourist boat in the area which could have been nine Australians and a Japanese national. A humanitarian organisation said that there were “genuine fears” for those aboard.

A spokesperson for a surfing resort on the coast of North Pagai said that they had “experienced a level of devastation that has rendered the resort inoperable”. Witnesses suggested that villas at the resort had been “wiped out” by the tsunami. One report suggested that a 10 feet (3 m) wave had hit the resort, causing boats to burst into flames. “There was a lot of debris floating in the water, including bar stools and other pieces of furniture from Macaronis Resort,” a member of staff said. Reports suggested that water had reached rooftops in North Pagai.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area prone to seismic shifts that spark earthquakes and volcanic activity. A massive earthquake in 2004 caused a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people across the Indian Ocean. After that disaster Indonesia worked to establish early warning systems and disaster management programs to help deal with future quakes.

Protesters arrested at anti-Scientology event in Atlanta

Sunday, March 16, 2008

While protesting outside the Scientology Church of Georgia in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, two members of the group Anonymous were arrested by DeKalb County riot police while standing opposite the Church of Scientology-owned building.

The two protesters, who earlier participated in the delivery of a ‘global speech’ collaboratively written and read by members of Anonymous at protests worldwide, are believed to have been charged by Dekalb police for protesting without a permit and causing ‘offensive or hazardous conditions’. However, other members of Anonymous who took leading roles in arranging the protest are adamant that the Dekalb police had previously told them they did not need a permit to protest.

The arrests were filmed by other members of Anonymous who subsequently posted the videos onto popular video-sharing website YouTube. The videos show a very quick arrest in which the arresting officers did not read the Miranda rights of the protesters, which—contrary to popular belief—is only required to be read before a police officer interviews someone in custody. This was confirmed by other members of the group who say they didn’t hear their rights being read before they were led away. “They were grabbed and taken behind the complex in one swift strike. There was no Miranda rights read when they were initially grabbed” said one member of Anonymous interviewed by Wikinews.

In other videos published on YouTube, the same members of Anonymous were shown thanking police for their work and offering them some of the cake members of Anonymous had brought to the protest, shortly before they were arrested.

Members of Anonymous have composed an open letter to Dekalb’s Chief of Police, asking if such a show of police strength was really needed at a non-violent protest organised and attended mainly by college students and young Americans.

Drivers showing their support for the protesters by honking their car horns while driving past were followed by police bikes waiting in the Scientology building’s driveway and given tickets for violating noise ordinance laws. However, many members of Anonymous have voiced confusion over these tickets, as the honks of support were only 2-3 seconds in duration at most, and noise ordinance laws state a horn must be sounded for longer than 60 seconds to count as a violation of the law. When, after the arrests were made, the police started to adopt the policy of ticketing drivers who honked, members of Anonymous quickly raised “Do not honk” signs to drivers.

Both of the members of Anonymous have been released, one with a bail of $763.00. There are confirmed to be two charges standing against one. No information has been released from the police department at this point.

They did no wrong, and that building they were led into was reportedly the Scientology Org building.

Initial reaction from bloggers was generally critical of the arrests. Kalira of Doomfeller blog wrote: “This is UNACCEPTABLE. They did no wrong, and that building they were led into was reportedly the Scientology Org building. If the police—nay, the walking tanks, totally uncalled for with a peaceful protest—had them unmask inside … suffice it to say if they get harassed, there will be great big steaming piles of hell to pay.”

Scientology critic Jeff Jacobsen, who was interviewed by Wikinews on February 19, wrote on his blog: “But then I see that the Atlanta police arrested two Anons, and were even stopping cars that honked in approval of the protest! Is Atlanta not a part of the United States? I don’t get it.”

St. Anthony Foundation provides hope

Friday, September 23, 2005

On the corner of Golden Gate Ave. and Jones St. in the Tenderloin, San Francisco, right next to the Civic Center you can see a throng of low-income and homeless people lining up outside of St. Anthony’s Dining Room hall which opens up it’s doors everyday at 11:30 a.m. Volunteers dressed in St. Anthony Foundation shirts help keep the lines moving as hundreds of homeless and low income people shuffle their way towards the dining hall underneath the watchful eyes of a small statue of St. Francis of Assisi.

“There’s a lot of people who go hungry out here and it ain’t right.” says Jimmy Scott, a slightly brawny 44-year-old black man who has been living homeless in San Francisco for the past three years. “There are families out here with kids and everything and they have to walk around all night just to stay awake so they don’t get hurt or killed…Right here in the U.S. this is going on…it ain’t right.”

The dining hall, which has been open for the past 54 years, is owned by the St. Anthony Foundation which helps low income and homeless people and families in the Civic Center, Tenderloin, and SOMA areas with clothing, shelter, food, drug rehabilitation, and many other services. St. Anthony’s administrative offices are found at 121 Golden Gate Ave. with the majority of the foundation’s buildings on Golden Gate Ave. and Jones St.

“We are right in the heart of the homeless population of San Francisco,” says Barry Stenger, 55, who’s been working for the St. Anthony Foundation for one year, and is the Director of Development and Communications, “and people are pushed here because of the economic forces of San Francisco because it’s hard to be upper middle class in San Francisco.”

According to the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, “San Francisco’s cost of living remains one of the highest in the country” with the average household income in San Francisco being around $76,400 and the average price of housing being $543,000. Average household income for the United States in 2002, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, was $42,409 and the average price of housing for the United States according to the National Association of Realtors was $185,200 in 2004.

“We served our 32 millionth meal on Tuesday,” said Stenger, “and we serve 2,500 meals a day. Some of our people who work here actually get served [food] here because they spend all their money towards rent and medical costs.”

The St. Anthony Foundation was started by Fr. Alfred Boeddeker in 1950 one year after Fr. Boeddeker became pastor of St. Boniface church on Golden Gate St. where he was baptized as a child. During his lifetime, according to the foundation’s website, he was referred to as the “Patron St. of the Tenderloin” and had Boeddeker park named after him because of his, and his foundation’s, achievements with helping out the homeless and low income community.

“[St. Anthony’s] is a good thing,” said Jimmy Scott, “they provide a good service and they feed people and they clothe them and provide furniture when you get housing and give you groceries when you have AIDS. It’s a good little organization.”

“Our dining room is open 365 days a year.” Said Stenger. “Our other facilities are open seven days a week. We have a residence for senior women and our [free medical] clinic is open five days a week and we also have a furniture and clothing store. We have 12 programs all together.”

Some of those programs are the Father Alfred Center which provides 61 men two programs for getting out of drug and alcohol abuse, the Employment Program/Learning Center which helps participants in educational and employment opportunities and provides each one with a personal staff advisor, and a Senior Outreach and Support Services center which states its mission is to “promote independence, self determination, and alleviate isolation” for seniors who are 60 and older.

A few homeless people who were interviewed complained that St. Anthony’s had some staff who were rude and that they were kicked out of the dining hall; other homeless within the area refuted those claims saying St. Anthony’s has nice staff and only kicks people out who cause trouble.

“It’s a good place and good people. Everybody is so kind and so respectful and everything is under control.” Said John Henderson, a tall and skinny 57-year-old homeless black man who has only been living in San Francisco for close to two months because he recently moved there from Phoenix, Arizona. “It’s pretty cool because they’re under control because yesterday I saw at Glide [Memorial Church which also has services for the poor and low income] and they were handing out food boxes and people were just rushing in and the woman in charge there was freaking out and so she just sat down. That would never happen at St. Anthony’s.”

“And they clean too!” Henderson said laughing with a grin on his face referring to the fact that there are no drugs allowed in the premises. “Not that Glide ain’t clean if you know what I mean.”

“We [also] have a whole division that deals with justice education and advocacy to change the system that brings people to our doorstep.” Said Stenger. “We hear a lot of appreciation from the people we serve. We get a lot of testimony from our clients who have become clean and sober. Sometimes we have to push them a little to get them out the door because they love the [foundation] so much because it has changed their lives.”

This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

Israel continues settlement expansion

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Israel has announced two new housing projects in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, continuing to expand its settlements. Officials have stated that a bill to be approved by parliament this week, would set aside $25 million for the expansion of development projects in Har Homa and Maale Adumim. The bill would create 500 apartments in the Har Homa area and another 240 in Maale Adumim.

Last month, both Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert signed a statement of “joint understanding” at the 2007 Annapolis Conference in Maryland. This signalled the first peace agreement between the two parties in more than seven years.

However, many fear that settlement expansions will cause tension amid new peace agreements.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said, “This is a totally destructive policy. Every day we hear a new settlement expansion plan – this cannot be tolerated.”

However, Rafi Eitan, Israeli Minister for Jerusalem Affairs offered a different stance.

“Har Homa is an integral part of Jerusalem and Israel will not stop building there. It is Israel’s duty to provide its citizens with a place to live.”

Earlier this month, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice took a critical stance on the passage of another bill outlining the construction of 307 apartment units in Har Homa, saying that the expansion would “not help build confidence for peace talks.”

Israel annexed East Jerusalem after the 1967 Six-Day War.

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