Economic Woes, 175 Dollar Burger Offered

May 20, 2008

In the face of the economic hardships of the average American, a Lower Manhattan restaurant has decided to offer a $175 hamburger. The extravagant and possibly excessive burger is made of Japanese Kobe beef with gold flakes, black truffles, a thick slab of seared foie gras, and aged Gruyere cheese.

Wall Street Burger Shoppe co-owner Heather Tierney considers it “a work of art.” She claims it attracts Wall Street types who come in, drink a few beers, and then decide to have the burger, often to “show off in front of their friends.” How many people are buying these burgers without a few beers first? Liquid courage or liquid idiocy?

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Bush’s Real Agenda For America

May 20, 2008

Barbara Harvey climbs into the back of her small Honda sport utility vehicle and snuggles with her two golden retrievers, her head nestled on a pillow propped against the driver’s seat.

Californian Barbara Harvey says she is forced to sleep in her car with her dogs after losing her job earlier this year.
A former loan processor, the 67-year-old mother of three grown children said she never thought she’d spend her golden years sleeping in her car in a parking lot.

“This is my bed, my dogs,” she said. “This is my life in this car right now.”

Harvey was forced into homelessness earlier this year after being laid off. She said that three-quarters of her income went to paying rent in Santa Barbara, where the median house in the scenic, oceanfront city costs more than $1 million. She lost her condo two months ago and had little savings as backup.

“It went to hell in a handbasket,” she said. “I didn’t think this would happen to me. It’s just something that I don’t think that people think is going to happen to them is what it amounts to. It happens very quickly, too.”

Harvey now works part time for $8 an hour, and she draws Social Security to help make ends meet. But she still cannot afford an apartment, and so every night she pulls into a gated parking lot to sleep in her car, along with other women who find themselves in a similar predicament.

There are 12 parking lots across Santa Barbara that have been set up to accommodate the growing middle-class homelessness. These lots are believed to be part of the first program of its kind in the United States, according to organizers.

The lots open at 7 p.m. and close at 7 a.m. and are run by New Beginnings Counseling Center, a homeless outreach organization.

It is illegal for people in California to sleep in their cars on streets. New Beginnings worked with the city to allow the parking lots as a safe place for the homeless to sleep in their vehicles without being harassed by people on the streets or ticketed by police.

Harvey stays at the city’s only parking lot for women. “This is very safe, and that’s why I feel very comfortable,” she said.

Nancy Kapp, the New Beginnings parking lot coordinator, said the group began seeing a need for the lots in recent months as California’s foreclosure crisis hit the city hard. She said a growing number of senior citizens, women and lower- and middle-class families live on the streets.

“You look around today and there are so many,” said Kapp, who was homeless with her young daughter two decades ago. “I see women sleeping on benches. It’s heartbreaking.”

She added, “The way the economy is going, it’s just amazing the people that are becoming homeless. It’s hit the middle class.”

She and others with New Beginnings walk the streets looking for people and families sleeping in their cars. The workers inform them about the parking lot program.

New Beginnings screens people to make sure they won’t cause trouble. No alcohol or drugs are allowed in the parking lots.

“What we are trying to do is we pull bad apples out, and we put good apples in the parking lots and really help people out,” said Shaw Tolley, another coordinator with New Beginnings.

Most of the time, the lots are transition points. New Beginnings works with each person to try to find a more permanent housing solution.

“It saddens me when they live in their vehicles,” Tolley said. “It is not the most ideal situation for senior citizens and families, but it is reality.”

He added, “We need to engage this problem. This is reality.”

John Quigley, an economics professor at the University of California-Berkeley, said the California housing crisis has left many middle-class families temporarily homeless or forced them to go to food banks to feed their families.

“Part of the reason why it’s so painful in Santa Barbara is there’s so little in the way of alternative housing,” Quigley said. “If there were alternative low and moderate housing and rental accommodations that were reasonably close by, you can imagine it wouldn’t have this desperate look to it as people living in their cars.”

At the only lot for women in Santa Barbara, it’s a tough existence. There are no showers or running water. On the night CNN visited, a half-dozen women already were in the parking lot before nightfall.

Linn Labou, 54, lives in her car with four cats. She used to be in the National Guard and is on a waiting list for government housing, but the wait is a year long.

“I went looking for family, but I couldn’t get them to help me,” she said.

As for Harvey, she begins each day by walking her two dogs before going to her part-time job. She leaves the dogs in her car with its windows cracked while she works.

It’s another chapter in her life that she’s certain she’ll get through, even though she said she knows it pains her children. Her 19-year-old daughter moved in with friends to avoid being homeless.

“My daughter especially is very unhappy. Sometimes she’ll cry and she’ll call and say, ‘Mom, I just can’t stand it that you are living in a car,’ ” Harvey said. “I’ll say, ‘You know what? This is OK for right now because I’m safe, I’m healthy, the dogs are doing OK and I have a job and things will get better.'”

This was originally posted @ CNN.com

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Free At Last, Free At Last For Whitney Houston

May 20, 2008

Almost 8 years ago, “Crack is whack” queen Whitney Houton was busted at a Hawaiian airport with some marijuana. After 8 years of legal struggle, the charges were dropped and her record made clean. Perhaps, it will inspire her to clean up her other act: singing.

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Hillary Clinton’s Right Hand Is Even For Obama

May 20, 2008

A top strategist for Barack Obama has reached out to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s former campaign manager about joining forces for the general election, the latest sign of political reconciliation between the two rivals as Obama begins consolidating his position as the likely Democratic nominee.

Obama strategist David Axelrod and former Clinton aide Patti Solis Doyle confirmed they had had informal conversations about how she might help the Illinois senator if he secures the presidential nomination as expected. The conversations were first reported on the Politico Web site.

“When the time comes, if we’re the nominee, we’re going to want to work with talented people across the party including those who worked for Senator Clinton,” Axelrod said. “Patti’s a good and talented person, and we all have a high regard for her.”

He added, “No specific offers have been proffered, and none has been accepted. This is not an official entreaty from one campaign to another.”

Solis Doyle hails from Chicago, Obama’s home turf, and met Axelrod 20 years ago while working in city government there. Her brother, Danny Solis, is a Chicago alderman.

A longtime Clinton loyalist, Solis Doyle began working as Hillary Clinton’s scheduler during her husband’s 1992 presidential bid and stayed with her through two terms in the White House. She helped manage the former first lady’s first New York Senate bid in 2000, and began laying the groundwork for her presidential bid shortly thereafter.

In February, Solis Doyle stepped down as campaign manager after Clinton’s third-place showing in Iowa and disappointing performance in the 22-state “Super Tuesday” contests Feb. 5. Maggie Williams, Clinton’s former White House chief of staff, replaced Solis Doyle.

Clinton has vowed to stay in the race through the final primaries June 3 even as she trails Obama in the popular vote and among pledged and superdelegates. She has also pushed for a resolution of disputed primaries in Michigan and Florida, whose results were voided after the states violated party rules by moving their contests to January.

Obama is expected to secure the majority of pledged delegates Tuesday after primaries in Kentucky and
For her part, Solis Doyle said in an interview that her status has not changed.

“I’m for Hillary, I have been for 17 years. This thing isn’t over,” Solis Doyle said. “But I’m a Democrat and if Obama’s the nominee, I will do whatever I can to get him elected and make sure the party is unified.”

The orignal article was found @ Yahoo News

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