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The USA is the most corrupt country in the world and I have 10,000 posts that point heavily to that fact…

TSA officer faces dismissal over ‘get your freak on, girl’ note October 29, 2011

(CNN) — An airplane baggage screener faces dismissal for leaving a note in a passenger’s bag that said “Get Your Freak On, Girl” after discovering a vibrator.

The Transportation Security Administration “has initiated action to remove the individual from federal service,” an agency spokesperson said. “Like all federal employees, this individual is entitled to due process and protected by the Privacy Act. During the removal action process, the employee will not perform any screening duties.”

The agency randomly selects checked baggage for screening on flights originating in the United States. Lawyer and writer Jill Filipovic tweeted a picture of the note Monday and later blogged about it on Feministe.

“This is what TSA will do when they inspect a bag you checked and find a, um, ‘personal item,’ ” she wrote. “Total violation of privacy, wildly inappropriate and clearly not OK, but I also just died laughing in my hotel room.”

The TSA identified and removed the employee from screening operations, the TSA said Wednesday on its blog. After completing an investigation, action was initiated to remove the individual from federal service.

“TSA views the handwritten note to be highly inappropriate and unprofessional and apologizes for this unfortunate incident,” the spokesperson said. “TSA has zero tolerance for inappropriate behavior by our employees as occurred in this instance. When this is brought to our attention TSA takes swift and appropriate action.”

An agency official reached out to Filipovic to apologize personally, the agency said. At this point, though, she said she wishes the story would go away.

“It’s easy to scapegoat one individual here, but the problem with the note is that it’s representative of the bigger privacy intrusions that the U.S. government, through the TSA and other sources, levels every day,” she wrote Wednesday after learning of the employee’s suspension.

“As much as this is a funny and titillating story, when I put the note on Twitter for what I thought was a relatively limited audience, I was hoping it would open up a bigger conversation about privacy rights (or lack thereof) in post-9/11 America. It unfortunately hasn’t done that, and instead has turned into a media circus,” she said.

“The note was inappropriate, the agent in question acted unprofessionally when s/he put in my bag, there should be consequences and I’m glad the TSA takes these things seriously. But I get no satisfaction in hearing that someone may be in danger of losing their job over this. I would much prefer a look at why ‘security’ has been used to justify so many intrusions on our civil liberties, rather than fire a person who made a mistake.”


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The column formerly known as grab bag | Ana Marie Cox October 28, 2011

I’ve been dipping in and out of the comment community, trying to figure out the best way to harness the hive mind without getting stung by it (this may be impossible). One suggestion that’s stuck out has been the idea that there should be at least some “whatever” in a blog that’s about “politics and … whatever”. I agree! I have interests beyond Herman Cain! (You are going to suffer through that book club with me, though. I AM DOING IT FOR AMERICA, you know.)

For a while, we were throwing link collections up and call them “grab bags” but maybe something more specific, and more fun, is in order. “Hanging Chads” captures the “here’s some stuff left over from my surfing” part of the process. “Down Ballots” is sort of fun. “Super Pack”? “Third Rails” is my current favorite – though it does imply that my non-politics interests are somehow dangerous. Keep in mind that this how it would look – the title, with a description of that day’s link collection following: “Third Rails: Kittens, the Star Wars Trilogy and Training for Triathlons.”

Whatever we call it, here’s today’s, and please speak up in the comments about this pressing issue of international importance.

• It’s true, Zachary Quinto has brought weirdly believable creepiness to “American Horror Story”, the weirdest show ever to feature Dylan McDermott’s rear-end-parts.

• The truly shocking thing about how 28% of television programming is “LGBT-inclusive” is that it’s only 28%.

• Or maybe this is why I like American Horror Story: “If we have a relatively calm, uneventful lifestyle, we seek out something that’s going to be exciting for us, because our nervous system requires periodic revving, just like a good muscular engine.” (This should not prevent show makers from showing more naked Dylan.)

• And at least we’d get Austin: “IF AMERICAN LAND WAS DISTRIBUTED IN THE SAME WAY AMERICAN WEALTH IS.”

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The daily grab bag #4 | Ana Marie Cox October 7, 2011

• Joe McGinniss chooses country before self: “I’ll gladly sacrifice a few sales to have the country rid of Sarah Palin forevermore.”

• Get ready for a long campaign. “The strategy is to: ‘win ugly.’ This may be the president’s best option, because as he demonstrated this week, it’s impossible to give a satisfying answer to the question Ronald Reagan posed in 1980: Are you better off?”

A favorite Jobs obit, and why he matters to you, personally, dear reader: “And by making devices an extension of ourselves, he helped change our understanding of media; it would no longer be just a system you got information from, but a system you contributed information to.” (Also, I just bought this.)

• Unfortunately, Zombie Hank Williams Sr is not on Stereogum’s list of “10 Possible Monday Night Football Replacements for Hank Williams Jr”.

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The daily grab bag #3 | Ana Marie Cox October 1, 2011

• Helmets are for tools of the state! (Ron Paul puts his tiny noggin at risk on a bike ride.)

• Remember how Rick Perry said his ideal candidate (that isn’t him) would be a Cain/Gingrich “blend”? And Romney said he wouldn’t be able get that image out of his head? For Mitt: how to get the taste of vomit out of your mouth.

• “I now pronounce you Marine and Marine.” Military chaplains to perform same-sex unions.

Reporter finds Twitter does not replace reporting. I feel like I read about that somewhere.

Hot men and cats.

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California farm recalls lettuce over contamination concerns September 30, 2011


(CNN) — A California lettuce grower has recalled 2,498 cartons of chopped or shredded romaine lettuce shipped to wholesale food service distributors in 19 states and Canada over concerns the produce may be contaminated with the same bacteria that caused 13 deaths in an outbreak traced to tainted cantaloupes.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and True Leaf Farms initially reported the recall of 90 cartons of chopped and shredded romaine lettuce on Thursday, saying a random sample detected listeria monocytogenes in one bag pulled from a lot shopped on September 12 and September 13. Later Thursday, True Leaf issued a statement saying the FDA asked the company to expand the recall.

No illnesses have been reported, the FDA said.

The affected lettuce was available for direct purchase at Cash Carry Smart Foodservice warehouses in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, It also shipped to food service distributors in Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Vermont. It also was sent to a distributor in Alberta and British Columbia.

Listeria victim’s wife: It’s ‘pure hell’

Bad cantaloupes kill 13 people

The recalled lettuce carries a use by date of “9/29/11″ and the bag and box code B256-46438-8. The FDA said anyone who has the lettuce should destroy it or contact the company to come pick it up.

Listeria can cause fever, muscle aches and gastrointestinal problems. It usually causes only mild illness for healthy people, but it can be extremely dangerous for older adults, people with weakened immune systems, newborns and pregnant women, in whom listeriosis can cause miscarriages and stillbirths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The listeria bacteria recently was blamed in a multi-state outbreak associated with tainted cantaloupes. At last count, 13 people had died and 72 had been made ill in 18 states after consuming cantaloupes grown by a Colorado farm.


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Michael Jackson death trial: paramedic describes ‘chaos’ at scene

The first paramedic to reach Michael Jackson‘s bedroom has told a jury that the information he received from the physician charged in the singer’s death did not add up.

Paramedic Richard Senneff says Dr Conrad Murray told him that Jackson wasn’t being treated for any specific condition. The paramedic says that didn’t seem right because Jackson appeared to be underweight, had a surgical cap on his head and there was an IV bag and stand nearby.

Prosecutors contend Murray repeatedly concealed from emergency personnel that he had been giving Jackson doses of the anesthetic propofol in the singer’s bedroom.

Senneff was one of four paramedics working to try to revive Jackson on June 25, 2009. Murray, 58, has pleaded not guilty.

Earlier, an executive for the maker of a medical device used by Murray to monitor the singer told jurors that the equipment was not adequate for the continuous monitoring of patients.

The $275 fingertip device that monitors the pulse and blood oxygen levels was recovered after Jackson’s death and was being used by Murray while he was giving the singer doses of propofol.

Prosecutors called Nonin Medical executive Bob Johnson to try to show that Murray lacked enough equipment to care for the singer during the treatments. Propofol is normally administered in hospital settings.

Johnson said the model that Murray used had no audible alarm and was not intended to be used for the continuous monitoring of patients.

On Thursday, a pair of Jackson staffers described the chaotic scene at the rented mansion.

Personal chef Kai Chase said she was preparing a spinach Cobb salad for Jackson when a panicked and flustered Murray came down a spiral staircase shouting for her to get security and the singer’s son, Prince.

“His energy was very nervous and frantic,” said Chase, who added she ran to get Jackson’s son in a nearby room. “I said, ‘Hurry, Dr Murray needs you. Something may be wrong with your father.”

Chase said later she saw paramedics and security running upstairs to Jackson’s bedroom where he lay and some of the house staff were crying, unsure of what was happening.

“The children were crying and screaming,” she said. “We started hugging. We came together, held hands and we began to pray.”

Bodyguard Alberto Alvarez said he went to help Jackson after the singer’s assistant called him on his cellphone.

Shocked at seeing Jackson lying motionless in his bed, eyes slightly open, Alvarez barely had time to react when he heard the singer’s daughter scream “Daddy!” from the doorway. He led her and Prince from the room, trying to comfort them.

Alvarez then said Murray told him to put vials of medicine he scooped from Jackson’s nightstand into a bag. Alvarez complied and also placed an IV bag into another bag.

Defense attorney Ed Chernoff asked whether there was enough time for Alvarez to shield Jackson’s children, survey the room and stow away the drugs in the brief period that phone records show he was in the home before calling emergency responders.

The bodyguard insisted there was, telling the attorney, “I’m very efficient, sir.”
Chernoff was not convinced, questioning whether 30 seconds was enough time for the dramatic sequence to play out. Alvarez assured him there was.

The defense attorney also challenged Alvarez’s recollection, asking whether the collection of the vials happened after paramedics had come and whisked Jackson to a nearby hospital. Alvarez denied it happened after he called 911.

Chernoff questioned why Alvarez didn’t tell authorities about Murray’s commands to bag up the medication immediately after Jackson died, but instead waited until two months after the singer’s death. The bodyguard said he didn’t realize its significance until seeing a news report in late June in which he recognized one of the bags detectives were carrying out of Jackson’s mansion.

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Michael Jackson death trial hears of doctor’s panic

A former bodyguard for Michael Jackson has testified that the pop star’s doctor asked him to grab vials of medicine and an IV bag before an ambulance was called for the singer on the day he died.

Witnesses on the third day of the involuntary manslaughter trial of Dr Conrad Murray over Jackson’s 2009 death described a chaotic scene at the singer’s mansion.



Michael Jackson. Photograph: Gene Blevins/Reuters

Prosecutors say Murray, who has admitted giving Jackson the powerful anaesthetic propofol that morning as a sleep aid, had discovered Jackson was not breathing at around 11.56am.

Jackson’s personal chef described Murray running down the stairs at the singer’s Los Angeles mansion between 12.05pm and 12.10pm on 25 June 2009. “His energy was very nervous and frantic and he was shouting: ‘Get help, get security, get [Jackson's son] Prince,’” Kai Chase said.

Bodyguard Alberto Alvarez said he was one of the first members of the household to arrive in Jackson’s bedroom. “While I was standing at the foot of the bed, he [Murray] reached over and grabbed a handful of vials and then he said ‘Here, put them in a bag,’” Alvarez said.

Alvarez said Murray pointed at an IV stand by Jackson’s bed and told him to take away one of the saline bags hanging there. The drip bag contained “what appeared to me like a milky white substance. I recall seeing it at the bottom of the bag.”

Prosecutors say the milky substance was propofol, which authorities deemed to be the main cause of Jackson’s death.

Prosecutors have suggested Murray was trying to cover up evidence of the drugs he had given Jackson by having them bagged up and by not immediately calling for an ambulance.

Murray’s defence lawyer, Ed Chernoff, asked Alvarez about how, according to his testimony, he had the time within a minute or less of walking into Jackson’s bedroom to usher the children out the door, bag up the drugs and take down an IV bag before calling for an ambulance at 12.20pm. “I’m very efficient, sir,” Alvarez replied.

Asked why he complied with Murray’s request to remove the bag and vials of medicine, Alvarez told the court: “I thought we were packing to get him ready to go to the hospital.”

Murray’s defence team has argued that Jackson gave himself sedatives and extra propofol when the doctor was out of the room and the additional dose killed him.

The trial continues.

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The daily grab bag #2 | Ana Marie Cox

Petulant Floridians join irritated New Hampshire residents in thinking Michele Bachmann should pay more attention to them, because she needs them to win the nomination. They are totally going to not sit next to her at lunch.

• Congressional members can’t stop poking each other.

Here is a picture of a Chia Pet in the likeness of Rick Perry.

Rick Santorum recently compared Fox News’ obsessive Perry coverage to “a dog following the squirrel” (the guy has a dog thing), leaving out the lucrative role he’s played as a part of Fox’s kennel.

Dunkin Donuts survey suggests correlation between coffee consumption and sitting in front of a computer monitor. I assume the scientists on this list are working on an IV.

• “Nothing good comes from hitting ‘Reply All’”, and other words of wisdom.

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The daily grab bag #1 | Ana Marie Cox September 29, 2011

• This list of Christie “liabilities” (he doesn’t hate gay marriage, he thinks sharia law alarmists are “crazies”) makes me like him a little more.

Trust in government is at an all-time low; former OMB director Peter Orszag proposes a novel solution: make it even less transparent. You can’t harbor doubts about what you don’t know is happening! (I believe “stealth democracy” was the platform Darth Vader ran on.)

• Not unrelated: some constructive criticism of the Occupy Wall Street protests and what I call the “giant puppet school of activism” in general. “I want to know what democracy looks like, not what it smells like.”

Florida moving its primary to January may put Christie speculators out of their misery.

• Spoon fork bacon. All that’s missing is ice cream.

• “Here we are now, entertain us.”

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Airlines Recovering From 9/11 With Extra Fees September 18, 2011

Airlines in the United States lost $55 billion and shed 160,000 jobs during that decade. But the industry has worked through the economic tumult. A decade later, the system is smaller in terms of capacity, but it’s still in good working order. Last year, for example, 720.4 million people boarded airplanes in the United States, slightly higher even than the 719.1 million passengers in 2000.

Two weeks ago, at the annual convention of the Global Business Travel Association in Denver, Michael W. McCormick, the executive director of the group, hinted at a recovery.

“We’re not seeing record profits, but we’re also not seeing the end of airline travel as we know it,” he said. “So have things changed for the better?”

Good question. Planes are more crowded than ever, but fares remain near historically low levels. Other than the airport security challenges, however, the one major difference from 10 years ago is all the extra fees airlines have added to base fares, charging for things that used to be part of the ticket price.

Last year, for example, domestic airlines raised $3.4 billion just from charges for checked bags. In 2007, the year before most airlines started charging extra for checking a bag, the comparable figure was $464.2 million.

“Some would argue that you make more money from ancillary fees than you do operating the airplane, and that you’d like to figure out a way to sell us pillows and things while keeping the plane on the ground,” Peter Greenberg, the CBS News travel editor, joked to airline executives during a panel discussion at the business travel convention.

“It’s the right way to price the product,” replied Doug Parker, the chief executive of US Airways. Like other airline executives, Mr. Parker is adamant that ancillary fees have become a permanent part of the fare structure — and that they actually make a lot more sense than, say, the fees that many hotels charge customers.

“Last night, I stayed at a hotel down the street and I wanted to get a bottle of water and it cost $6,” Mr. Parker said as someone on the stage passed him a free bottle of water. Airlines, he noted, do not charge anyone for a drink of water.

Not that the idea hasn’t come up.

In 2008, he said, US Airways “actually instituted charging for all drinks on board, including sodas and water,” he said. The idea was dropped a few months later because of passenger resistance.

“Six bucks in my hotel room last night for water!” Mr. Parker repeated as the audience laughed. “We just wanted to charge a dollar!”

While airplanes that have been flying mostly full for over two years as capacity has been reduced to cut costs, another inconvenience has arisen. To avoid paying to check a bag, more passengers have been lugging more belongings onto already crowded planes. Some industry analysts have estimated that as many as 59 million extra bags are now being carried onto planes each year.

“It’s much harder to find space for your bag now on the airplane,” Mr. Parker said. He said the trend hasn’t created actual departure delays, “but the boarding process takes longer. We’re starting the boarding process sooner.”

Among the changes he predicted that all passengers can expect to see is a limit on extra checked bags, by airlines and also by the Transportation Security Administration at its checkpoints. “It’s becoming a huge problem for them. When you stand in line at the T.S.A., you see that the line is because of all those bags going through, not because of the people themselves being processed,” Mr. Parker said.

Also ahead is even further contraction in the domestic commercial aviation system. Delta Air Lines, for example, recently announced that it would drop service to 24 small and midsize airports, and US Airways said last week it was reducing service in Las Vegas by an additional 40 percent. At the same time, airlines have been mothballing many 50-seat regional jets, long the backbone of service at midsize airports.

Over the last decade, Mr. Parker said, the domestic airline business came to terms with the reality that it “had gotten way overbuilt, with too many hubs and too many airplanes.”

“We’re being much more rational, not trying to chase market share wherever we can but instead doing what we do well and sticking to that,” he said.

Asked about complaints from travel managers that airlines don’t provide enough “transparency” in showing optional fees clearly along with base fares, Mr. Parker said that business travelers were well aware of the panoply of extra charges, especially those for checked bags. Alone among the major carriers, Southwest Airlines does not charge for checking a bag.

“To suggest that people don’t know about baggage fees is hard to embrace,” he joked. “Because if you haven’t heard about them, Southwest will run an ad every couple of minutes to make sure you do.”

E-mail: jsharkey@nytimes.com

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After hurricane Irene, I now know what to eat when the apocalypse is on its way

Manhattan’s West Village was buzzing with pre-hurricane activity in late August as people began stockpiling emergency provisions. There were long queues to get into the hardware store for flashlights, the pharmacy for first-aid kits and, of course, at Murray’s Bagels.

I ventured out in flip-flops to load up on supplies. Uncharacteristically, I’d never actually thought about what I’d eat if the world was ending. Who says I’m not an optimist?

I showed up at Murray’s just as it was closing. One woman was having a meltdown. “Please,” she whined, as she tried to hold open the door, “I just want some sliced lox!” The guy gave her a look that said, “Are you kidding me?” I don’t blame him. Of all the things to plead for, sliced lox is not a smart option. No one will keep a store open on the eve of a natural disaster so that they can slice some smoked salmon to tide you over.

By late afternoon, all the upmarket shops were closed so the food snobs were forced to go to Food Emporium (the equivalent of Tesco) and that alone was torturous. “I’m not getting the radicchio here!” I heard one disgruntled shopper call out to his partner. What’s a hurricane without fresh radicchio? I watched as he settled on a bag of wilted mixed greens – tossing it into his basket with a sigh of resignation. Hopefully he survived.

I walked around, enjoying the pandemonium. Paper towels were running low. (Good to mop up with?) Canned foods were disappearing. I considered grabbing a can of sliced pineapple but I couldn’t remember if I owned a can opener.

There was no water or bread left on the shelves. One lady had a shopping cart piled high – she was young, in her 20s, and wearing her gym clothes. How many sandwiches can one person make? I figured she hadn’t eaten carbs in five years; this was her last chance.

Another woman was loading up on frozen pizzas. Even I, with my limited training in emergency food supply eating, knew that frozen pizzas would not be practical in a post-apocalyptic situation. I asked myself what would I be able to live on for weeks. Here is what I ended up with.

A bag of pistachio nuts. They won’t go bad, and should I find myself journeying across a desolate landscape, they’re lightweight. I can fill my pockets with them.

Two bottles of lime-flavoured Perrier. I reluctantly went with the lime because that’s all that was left. And it’s good to try new things.

Dried roasted edamame beans. Protein. No cooking required.

Finally, red grapes, one green apple, half a dozen wheat-free Odwalla bars and an enormous bag of popcorn.

My friend Carrie’s pre-hurricane food shopping was equally peculiar but stylish. She bought two packs of cigarettes, six cans of cat food, one litre of diet ginger ale, one loaf of raisin bread and one box of chocolate biscuits. “I figured that the worst thing that could happen to me was if my windows blew out, and in that case I would have hid in the bathroom with my BlackBerry, cigarettes, cookies and my diet ginger ale.” I assumed the cat would be in there too.

A few of my friends indulged in end-of-the-world eating, consuming vast quantities of food they’d never eat under normal circumstances. One had been eating only raw salads and juices but on Saturday afternoon she bought three slices of pizza as well as a spinach and cheese calzone. It was fun giving in to the cravings but now she’s on a strict post-storm detox.

All of which leads me to realise that if ever I needed to survive on what was in my cabinets – I’d end up losing a lot of weight.

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New York fashion week: Marc Jacobs hints at Dior move September 16, 2011

New York fashion week has finished with what looked like a very clear nod to Paris fashion week, which begins in three weeks.

Marc Jacobs brought the curtain down with his show for his mainline eponymous label but, as beautiful and striking as the show was, it was difficult not to be distracted by the various hints he appeared to be dropping about another label.

Ever since John Galliano was fired as the creative director of Christian Dior earlier this year after he shouted antisemitic abuse in a Paris bar, there have been many rumours, and no confirmations, about who would take over at the august French label. Almost six months later, many fashion insiders are whispering that Jacobs has all but signed the contract to take the Dior mantle and an official announcement will be made at the start of Paris fashion week.

Even though Jacobs will forever be associated with the grunge look he so adored in the 1990s – an adoration which got him fired from his first label, Perry Ellis, when he made a grunge collection for the brand – the truth is that he left those grittier origins behind long ago and has been catering for a decidedly ritzier customer. After all, as well as designing his own label and its diffusion offshoot, Marc by Marc Jacobs, the man is the creative director of Louis Vuitton, and if there is one thing ritzier than a French brand known for astronomically priced luggage like Vuitton, it’s a French brand known for astronomically priced fashion, like Christian Dior. His time at Vuitton has proven that he can handle being at the helm of a major French label, and his increasingly experimental looks at Marc Jacobs prove that he could happily fit in at a label that created the New Look more than 60 years ago.

In his own label he has jettisoned the girly look he once specialised in for far tricksier proportions. (Although perhaps the proportions he has experimented with the most are his own: Jacobs has long since forsaken the Jewish schlubby look he had in his early days and is now an obsessive bodybuilder to the point that he was nigh-on unrecognisable when he took his bow this week.)

His show on Thursday proved all this again and more. While the Christian Dior woman might balk at cellophane and silicone dresses, or pop socks with silver shoes, beneath the showiness was real showmanship. Skirts ended right on the knee and were paired with rounded cropped jackets, creating a silhouette that was prim but strikingly distorted, as though one was looking at Peggy from Mad Men in a fairground mirror. The evening wear – a crucial part of the Dior business – was simply beautiful, with an enormous amount of handiwork in the form of beading and careful cutting and tailoring. The one definite lack in the show was – surprisingly from Jacobs – a tempting bag. Instead, the man who has surfed the It bag trend for some time showed leather bags that veered on the dull side, looking like watered-down takes on the bowling bag Prada did almost a decade ago.

But maybe that, too, was a statement from Jacobs: he is done with being known mainly for leather goods. It is time for couture.

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Jobless find refuge in Tent City

Lakewood, New Jersey (CNN) — Cars and trucks cruise along Cedar Bridge Avenue, drivers listening to radio anchors reporting the headline that a record 46 million Americans are living in poverty, while 50 feet from the bustling boulevard, hidden by the woods that border the road, lies a shocking example of that shameful statistic.

Behind the trees, six dozen homeless Americans have set up camp, in tents, teepees and huts, residents of what they call Tent City. It’s a place where those out of work and out of luck can drop out of society while living as cheaply as possible.

“It’s a community here,” said the Rev. Steven Brigham, who founded Tent City in 2006 as part of his Lakewood Outreach Ministry Church. “They have a sense of belonging.”

In the past year Brigham has seen Tent City’s population nearly double as the jobs recession drags on.

Angelo Villanueva jabs at a homemade punching bag he hung from a tree — a plastic bag filled with dirt wrapped with tape. It’s a “stress reliever,” said Villanueva. He’s a skilled mason who worked construction jobs for nearly two decades, then fell victim to a sucker punch from the housing collapse. Villanueva, also an artist who has been drawing sketches of Tent City, never dreamed that he’d be among the nation’s homeless.

“You think of a homeless person, you think of a wino. But it can happen to anyone at any time,” said Villanueva. “I had the wrong conception of a homeless person — I figure he’s a bum, a deadbeat.”

Joe Giammona, an unemployed handyman, drinks from a can of Pepsi as he watches a neighbor cook sausage and eggs on a communal grill. Giammona moved here five months ago after a shooting near the rooming house where he previously lived in Asbury Park, New Jersey. He says he’s constantly searching for a job but hasn’t been able to catch a break.

“It just seems like every door is shut in my face. You know there’s nothing hiring. I always hear that things are slow right now. ‘Come back in the fall, come back in the spring,’ and then when I come back to these places it’s always an excuse after an excuse. You can’t get hired anywhere,” said Giammona. “I would take anything right now, anything that’s willing to hire.”

Brigham receives donations from individuals, churches and synagogues that he says allow him to operate Tent City for about $1,000-a-month.

Loaves of bread are piled on a communal table, next to plastic garbage bags filled with clothing. Cans of food sit neatly in a wooden pantry. Residents are free to take what they need.

There are makeshift solutions to conveniences that most people take for granted. A power generator is connected to a pump that delivers groundwater to a both a shower and washing machine. Nearby sits a hot water heater that works off a propane tank.

“They’ve got all their needs met here,” said Brigham.

Tent City residents recycle plastic bottles. The township picks up garbage once a week. But, that’s as much help as local government provides. Lakewood Township is suing Brigham and his Tent City residents to get them off public lands.

Lakewood Township referred CNN’s inquiry to its attorney, Jan L. Wouters, who did not return phone calls and e-mails.

Brigham, with the help of a private attorney who is donating his time, has been battling the suit.

“The government has a responsibility to be sympathetic to the plight of the poor and to the homeless. And to push them out is cruel, it’s cruel and unusual. It’s cold-hearted,” said Brigham.

The two sides had reached a temporary agreement that required Brigham to dismantle some of Tent City’s structures. But, at a hearing this week Lakewood Township gave notice it intends to move forward with its legal effort against the encampment.

Ocean County, where Lakewood is located, provides shelter for the homeless in motels and hotels, as well as a shelter in Atlantic City (which is in Atlantic County), according to Jean Cipriani, attorney for the Ocean County Board of Social Services.

“The county has no position on Tent City,” said Cipriani.

Tent City residents are hopeful they’ll be able to remain in their community, even through the winter. That’s what Marilyn and Michael Berenzweig did last year. Marilyn, a textile designer who worked in New York just two years ago, and her husband Michael, a former public radio producer, have been living here for 16 months, with fading hope of finding employment.

“It’s very hard for a company to decide to use a 61-year-old trainee. I’m too young for Social Security. It’s going to be a rocky flight. It’s been a rocky flight,” said Marilyn Berenzweig.


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