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U.N. Official Shocked Over Conditions in Alabama


47of74

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No surprise here

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A United Nations official investigating poverty in the United States was shocked at the level of environmental degradation in some areas of rural Alabama, saying he had never seen anything like it in the developed world.

"I think it's very uncommon in the First World. This is not a sight that one normally sees. I'd have to say that I haven't seen this," Philip Alston, the U.N.'s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, told Connor Sheets of AL.com earlier this week as they toured a community in Butler County where "raw sewage flows from homes through exposed PVC pipes and into open trenches and pits."

The tour through Alabama's rural communities is part of a two-week investigation by the U.N. on poverty and human rights abuses in the United States. So far, U.N. investigators have visited cities and towns in California and Alabama, and will soon travel to Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

 

 

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Thanks, I heard about the investigation but haven't kept up with their findings so far. That fact about the pipes is horrifying.

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Of particular concern to Alston are specific poverty-related issues that have surfaced across the country in recent years, such as an outbreak of hookworm in Alabama in 2017—a disease typically found in nations with substandard sanitary conditions in South Asia and Subsaharan Africa.

 

Here's another article on the U.N. investigation into poverty and economic barriers in the U.S. (including water quality, I'd love for them to visit Flint) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/01/un-extreme-poverty-america-special-rapporteur

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It will focus on several of the social and economic barriers that render the American dream merely a pipe dream to millions – from homelessness in California to racial discrimination in the Deep South, cumulative neglect in Puerto Rico and the decline of industrial jobs in West Virginia.

 

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Grusky added that the US reaction to Alston’s visit could go either way. “It has the potential to open our eyes to what an outlier the US has become compared with the rest of the world, or it could precipitate an adverse reaction towards an outsider who has no legitimacy telling us what to do about internal US affairs.”

Three guesses at how orange Voldemort will react...

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The US poses an especially challenging subject for the UN special rapporteur because unlike all other industrialized nations, it fails to recognize fundamental social and economic rights such as the right to healthcare, a roof over your head or food to keep hunger at bay. The federal government has consistently refused to sign up to the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights – arguing that these matters are best left to individual states.

 

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The only thing I found shocking is that Mississippi wasn’t ranked worse than Alabama. Or maybe the observers simply didn’t go to Mississippi. In terms of global rankings regarding overall well-being, the US is in part with countries like Romania and Bulgaria, which were the worst of the Soviet bloc countries. This investigation has been a long time coming. Back in the 1950s a group of black activists wrote a document called “We Charge Genocide” and tried to have the US censured at the U.N. for human rights abuses. Naturally, the US government squashed it, but the fact that we’ve been a cesspool of human rights violations since day one is not a new thing:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_Charge_Genocide

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Thanks for the info about, "We Charge Genocide," I hadn't heard about it. And yeah, I don't think they're visiting Mississippi, just the places mentioned in @47of74 's post. D.C. will be an interesting visit, for the sharp contrast of homelessness and extreme poverty against vast wealth just a few metro stops away.

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