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Former employees of Solyndra, the shuttered solar company that exhausted half a billion dollars of taxpayer money, said they saw questionable spending by management almost as soon as a federal agency approved a $535 million government-backed loan for the start-up. A new factory built with public money boasted a gleaming conference room with glass walls that, with the flip of a switch, turned a smoky gray to conceal the room’s occupants. Hastily purchased state-of-the-art equipment ended up being sold for pennies on the dollar, still in its plastic wrap, employees said.
The challenges poor and homeless Americans often face accessing clean drinking water and restroom facilities violate international human rights standards, according to a report issued by a United Nations investigator this month. Catarina de Albuquerque, a U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation, visited the United States in late February at the invitation of the U.S. government. She found homeless individuals around the country not only struggle to access running water and restroom facilities but increasingly face criminal and civil sanctions when they improvise solutions. The right to safe drinking water and restroom facilities is a part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The very idea of retiring in America had become a mirage–tantalizing, but always sliding into the distance. Those visions of golden years spent playing golf in Tucson or bridge in Boca Raton, promoted by AARP magazine and purveyors of retirement investments, are now nothing more than a chimera for most Americans. The exception, of course, is a wealthy minority, who for the past decade has been squirreling away money they should have been paying in taxes. For everyone else, old age been reduced to three alternatives: Those of us lucky enough to have jobs can keep working indefinitely; the rest can live poor or die. Anyone who doubts this blunt truth should take a look at a few few recent trends.