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January 12, 2010

SF public library hires full-time social worker to help homeless people

Library adds social worker to assist homeless Look, I've got a pretty high tolerance for dealing with homeless people from working in the Borders book mines here in San Francisco, but the SF main branch sketches me out. It's become the de facto hangout for dozens if not hundreds of homeless people every day. I know the library is warm, dry and (mostly) peaceful. I know they don't have anywhere else to go. But still, it's great they have a professional there now to help these people. And maybe I won't see naked homeless dudes washing their junk in the sink or trimming callouses with a knife anymore?
The bathrooms often have proved downright scary, with people doing drugs, bathing in the sinks and having sex in the stalls. Patrons' comments collected by the library over the past couple of years include, "The Main Branch library, while well-intentioned, looks like a homeless shelter inside and out." And, "The homeless are driving me and many of my professional friends away." In many ways, its popularity as a homeless hangout is no surprise because the library is centrally located, free, open to anyone, doesn't have security checks and has plenty of bathrooms. But the library has, well, begun to turn the page on the problem by hiring what is believed to be the country's first full-time psychiatric social worker stationed in a public library. In a partnership with the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the library hired Leah Esguerra a year ago this month, and she now has directed into social services more than 150 homeless people and others living on the edge in low-cost residential hotels who frequent the library.

January 08, 2010

Woman raped by waiter in Dubai, and she goes to jail

Dubai waiter rapes British girl – then SHE and fiance are held for illegal sex | The Sun |News
A BRITISH woman on a break in Dubai went to police after being raped - but SHE was arrested for having illegal sex. The 23-year-old Londoner was attacked by a waiter in a hotel toilet after celebrating her engagement to her boyfriend with drinks. But after she admitted boozing and sharing a hotel room with her fiance, cops in the strict Islamic state arrested her for "illegal drinking" outside licensed premises and having sex outside marriage. Her 44-year-old fiance, also from London, was charged with the same offences. And both were thrown in police cells by officers who paid little heed to the rape. The devastated couple were last night understood to be on bail awaiting trial and have had their passports confiscated. They could be jailed for up to six years if found guilty of the illicit sex charge.

January 07, 2010

Chinese city considering evictions for spitting, littering, parking violations

BBC News - Tenants who spit could face eviction in China city
A city in southern China is considering issuing a penalty system for anti-social behaviour which could lead to public-housing tenants being evicted. The potential offences in government housing in Guangzhou include spitting in public, parking illegally or drying laundry on fences. More serious offences include throwing rubbish out of upper floors or storing flammable or explosive material. Anyone gathering 20 points within two years will be evicted.

January 06, 2010

English seniors burning books for warmth

Pensioners burn books for warmth | Metro.co.uk
Volunteers have reported that ‘a large number’ of elderly customers are snapping up hardbacks as cheap fuel for their fires and stoves. Temperatures this week are forecast to plummet as low as -13�C in the Scottish Highlands, with the mercury falling to -6�C in London, -5�C in Birmingham and -7�C in Manchester as one of the coldest winters in years continues to bite. Workers at one charity shop in Swansea, in south Wales, described how the most vulnerable shoppers were seeking out thick books such as encyclopaedias for a few pence because they were cheaper than coal. One assistant said: ‘Book burning seems terribly wrong but we have to get rid of unsold stock for pennies and some of the pensioners say the books make ideal slow-burning fuel for fires and stoves. A lot of them buy up large hardback volumes so they can stick them in the fire to last all night.’