Gabrielle Canon

Gabrielle Canon

Editorial Fellow

Gabrielle is a Renaissance scholar and graduate from USC where she recently received a Masters in Specialized Journalism. Her work has also appeared in LA Weekly, the Huffington Post, and the National Catholic Reporter. Connect with her on Twitter @GabrielleCanon or email gcanon[at]motherjones.com

Get my RSS |

This Massive New Project Is Great News for Homeless Vets in Los Angeles

| Thu Jan. 29, 2015 5:19 PM EST

After a three-year legal battle, the US Department of Veterans Affairs announced on Wednesday that it will rededicate its giant West Los Angeles Medical Center campus to provide much-needed housing and services for the city's homeless veterans.

The announcement stems from a settlement in a 2011 lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of disabled veterans. The Los Angeles property, nearly 400 acres, was deeded to the federal government in 1888 to house veterans with disabilities. Instead, the campus, which is located in an affluent area, has been used for commercial rental agreements with, among others, entertainment companies, UCLA, and hotel laundry services. According to NPR, Veterans Affairs had accepted between $28 million and $40 million in leasing agreements that a federal judge ruled illegal.

The settlement includes a plan, set for completion by October, to build long-term housing combined with support services designed to help ensure that the formerly homeless, especially veterans who are physically and mentally disabled, remain housed.

The effort is part of a larger Obama administration initiative to house all homeless vets by the end of 2015. Los Angeles has the nation's highest number of homeless vets—more than 3,700—and the newly announced plan could go a long way toward solving the problem.

"This agreement offers VA a historic opportunity to build new community relationships in Los Angeles and continue the work needed to end veteran homelessness here," Veteran's Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald said in a statement. "VA is proud of the progress we've made in ending veteran homelessness—down 33 percent since 2010—but we won't be satisfied until every veteran has a home."

According to a report released last January by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, close to 50,000 vets were homeless on any given night. States are now gearing up for their annual "Point-In-Time" count, a HUD-led event that deploys volunteers to conduct a census of the homeless in their communities. The results will indicate how much work remains to meet Obama's 2015 deadline. McDonald said he plans to participate in the Los Angeles count: 

"There is no question that the goal to end veteran homelessness is within reach, and we remain laser-focused on it," he said. "It's about helping communities put a system in place that can house every veteran."

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Check Out the Adorable Creatures and Gorgeous Vistas Obama Wants to Protect in Alaska

| Tue Jan. 27, 2015 6:00 AM EST
Dall sheep are one of the 250 animal species that depend on the coastal plain in ANWR.

On Sunday, President Obama announced that he will call on Congress to increase the protection of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by adding more than 12 million acres of it to the National Wilderness Preservation System—the highest level of conservation protection. If Congress signs on, which is pretty unlikely, it would be the largest wilderness designation since the Wilderness Act, signed in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

The refuge covers nearly 20 million acres and contains five distinct ecological regions. It is home to at least 200 species of birds, 37 land mammal species, eight marine mammal species, and 42 species of fish. There are plenty of political reasons why Obama wants to protect it, but here are a few of the ecological ones:

ANWR
The coastal plain provides spring grazing for caribou and other mammals. Associated Press
Conservationists argue that oil and gas drilling in the coastal plain would threaten the millions of birds that nest there. USFWS
MUSKOX
The furry musk ox—the Inupiat's call it "omingmak" ("the bearded one")—lives on the coastal plain year round. USFWS
There is a unique ecosystem of animals—that includes the arctic fox—that have adapted to survive in ANWR. USFWS
Tundra swan
Tundra swans rely on the remote and undeveloped refuge to nest. USFWS
Caribou
Caribou migrate through the coastal plain. David Gustine/USGS
According to the US Department of the Interior, oil and gas development could pollute water resources in ANWR. USFWS
ANWR is an important denning area for polar bears. Alan D. Wilson
The Alaska marmot, considered highly vulnerable to changes in habitat, calls ANWR home. USFWS

To hear Obama talk about the importance of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, watch this video:

In This Hopeful New Video, UNICEF and Electronic Artist RL Grime Tackle the Horrors of Child Marriage

| Mon Jan. 26, 2015 9:00 AM EST

Every year around the world, more than 14 million girls are wed, typically to much older men, before they turn 18. The child brides, who more often than not are forced into these marriages by their parents, find themselves socially isolated and more likely than older wives to be beaten by their husbands or in-laws. In Chad, where nearly 70 percent become child brides, girls are more likely to die in childbirth than attend secondary school.

RL Grime
"Before UNICEF approached me, I was unaware of this epidemic," RL Grime told me. Andi Elloway

This new video, a collaboration between UNICEF and the electronic music producer RL Grime, tells the story of a child bride who meets a sad end—but with a twist. Featuring Grime's haunting new song "Always," the video will be used in the African Union's #ENDChildMarriageNOW campaign to highlight how children and communities suffer when girls marry too young. It "transmits a very strong message because it shows a too common reality in the life of many young girls," says UNICEF's Chad representative. "The video, at the same time, also shows an alternative story full of hope. It portrays the crucial role education can play in empowering girls and the collective change needed in the society to end child marriage."

According to UNICEF, giving girls better access to education, offering economic incentives and support for families, and implementing legislation to restrict child marriage are all crucial to solving the problem. But the first step is simply to make people aware of it.

RL Grime, whose real name is Henry Steinway, and whose tracks have clocked millions of listens on YouTube and SoundCloud, was happy to help. "Before UNICEF approached me, I was unaware of this epidemic of child marriage that is plaguing Chad and other places globally," he writes in an email. "So when they came to me with the opportunity I was happy to be involved and help shed light on a very real world topic."

He picked "Always," the opening track from VOID, his first full-length album, because he felt it evokes both the gravity of the problem and the idea of hope. "I think it's a somber yet uplifting track," he writes. "The lyric 'I feel better when I have you near me' really meshed well with the overall theme of the video, which to me hits on this sense of community."

The video has been officially endorsed by the First Lady of the Republic of Chad, who will present it to other leaders at the Summit of the African Union in Addis Ababa later this month.

Mon Dec. 22, 2014 6:00 AM EST
Sun Dec. 21, 2014 8:59 PM EST
Sun Oct. 12, 2014 1:55 PM EDT
Fri Oct. 10, 2014 9:46 AM EDT
Wed Jun. 25, 2014 5:00 AM EDT
Fri Feb. 28, 2014 8:00 PM EST
Thu Feb. 20, 2014 6:00 AM EST