Thursday, October 29, 2009

Homelessness: No longer a big issue in SF

Return with me now to days of yore---to April 13, 2004, to be exact---to revisit the burning issues of that distant day. On that day Beyond Chron published a short article by Margaret Brodkin based on a January, 2004, poll by David Binder. Those polled were asked a simple question: "What is the most important public policy issue facing San Francisco today?" 61% responded that homelessness was the most important issue facing the city, with the schools coming in a distant second with 21%.

Hard to believe that homelessness as an issue would rank that high with city residents today because of a reality that city progressives refuse to accept: Mayor Newsom's homeless policies---Care Not Cash, Homeward Bound, Project Homeless Connect, supportive housing, etc.---have been successful enough to take homelessness off the front page.

Take prog reaction---in today's Examiner---to the obvious success of my favorite homeless program, Homeward Bound, which gives the homeless a bus ticket back to wherever they came from:

More than 4,000 of the previously homeless people in San Francisco were returned to their home cities with a bus ticket funded through The City’s Homeward Bound Program, according to the Mayor’s Office. According to the program’s outreach information, Homeward Bound applicants must have a place to reside at the destination city where there’s “ample support.” Program staff contact family or friends at the destination before the homeless person is given a ticket, and they follow up with the participant one month later to check on their well-being. However, Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the San Francisco-based Coalition on Homelessness, was skeptical of the mayor’s assertions. “You can’t claim you housed people by giving them a bus ticket,” she said.

Obviously the city isn't claiming that it has "housed" those 4,000 people, but it can proudly say that it got them humanely off the streets of our city, which has to be judged as a hugely successful program by anyone with common sense.

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Walk to school or bike to school?

The city's Walk to School Day for the SF Bicycle Coalition inevitably morphs into "an amazing opportunity to increase the number of kids who get to school by bike and foot." (emphasis added)

Walk to School Day at schools all over SF
The SF Bicycle Coalition held a special rally and celebration in honor of Walk to School Day and the official launch of SF's new Safe Routes to School Program on Wed., Oct. 7th at Longfellow Elementary (755 Morse St.). The SF Bicycle Coalition is thrilled to be partnering with the SF Dept. of Public Health, SF Unified School District, SF Police Department, and SF Municipal Transportation Agency to launch the Safe Routes to School Program at five elementary schools: Bryant (Mission District), George Washington Carver (Bayview), Longfellow (Excelsior), Sunnyside (Sunnyside), Sunset (Outer Sunset). 68% of the students at these schools live within one mile, so there's an amazing opportunity to increase the number of kids who get to school by bike and foot. Walk to School Day was Wed., Oct. 7th at various San Francisco Schools. 

More at:

Read coverage on Streetsblog and SFGate. (

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"We cannot defeat Al Qaeda without securing Afghanistan"

From "The Front: The Taliban-Al Qaeda merger," by Peter Bergen in the New Republic

"Nearly every major jihadist plot against Western targets in the last two decades somehow leads back to Afghanistan or Pakistan. The first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 was masterminded by Ramzi Yousef, who had trained in an Al Qaeda camp on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Ahmed Ressam, who plotted to blow up LAX airport in 1999, was trained in Al Qaeda's Khaldan camp in Afghanistan. Key operatives in the suicide attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998 and the USS Cole in 2000 trained in Afghanistan; so did all 19 September 11 hijackers. The leader of the 2002 Bali attack that killed more than 200 people, mostly Western tourists, was a veteran of the Afghan camps. The ringleader of the 2005 London subway bombing was trained by Al Qaeda in Pakistan. The British plotters who planned to blow up passenger planes leaving Heathrow in the summer of 2006 were taking direction from Pakistan; a July 25, 2006, e-mail from their Al Qaeda handler in that country, Rashid Rauf, urged them to "get a move on." If that attack had succeeded, as many as 1,500 would have died. The three men who, in 2007, were planning to attack Ramstein Air Base, a U.S. facility in Germany, had trained in Pakistan's tribal regions.

"And yet, as President Obama weighs whether to send more troops to Afghanistan, the connection between the region and Al Qaeda has suddenly become a matter of hot dispute in Washington. We are told that September 11 was as much a product of plotting in Hamburg as in Afghanistan; that Al Qaeda and the Taliban are quite distinct groups, and that we can therefore defeat the former while tolerating the latter; that flushing jihadists out of one failing state will merely cause them to pop up in another anarchic corner of the globe; that, in the age of the Internet, denying terrorists a physical safe haven isn't all it's cracked up to be.

These arguments point toward one conclusion: The effort to secure Afghanistan is not a matter of vital U.S. interest. But those who make this case could not be more mistaken. Afghanistan and the areas of Pakistan that border it have always been the epicenter of the war on jihadist terrorism--and, at least for the foreseeable future, they will continue to be. Though it may be tempting to think otherwise, we cannot defeat Al Qaeda without securing Afghanistan."