Mapping the criminal justice reform field in the U.S.

June 11th, 2013

Over the past couple of years, I’ve become increasingly interested in issues relating to the U.S. criminal justice system and the urgent need for reform.

I recently started to compile a list of U.S. organizations working in this area, and I was quite surprised to discover how much activity there is already. The resulting spreadsheet is open for anyone to edit.

There are a number of useful things that could be done with such a directory. Hope to spend a little more time on this over the summer. Stay tuned.

Occupy San Francisco: Shining a Spotlight on the Problems with Society Today

December 29th, 2012

This is a transcript of a speech I heard at Occupy San Francisco. I originally shared it on Google+ last November, and it deserves a place on the blog.

On November 17, 2011, about three weeks after having gotten arrested myself for “loitering” (no joke) at the much smaller Occupy San José, I had a chance to stop by the Occupy San Francisco camp. Things seemed orderly and peaceful, with people making music and art, talking, giving speeches etc. — nice vibe! Someone recorded the speech, which in turn allowed me to transcribe it (with a few minor edits for readability). The speaker gets introduced shortly after 0:14:00 into the video, her speech starts at 0:14:20.

Hi, guys!

I’m Jane, and I would like to talk about the reason that they want to evict us.

Back when this movement started there were a few tents popped up at 101 Market in front of the Federal Reserve, and they thought that the movement, it would go away. So they ignored us for a while. Then they tried to take it, and we came back stronger. The media ignored it. Then they tried to ridicule it. But what we did, is we struck a chord.

This fight is not about these tents. And by the way, it is not a camp, it is an occupation. We are not campers, we are occupiers. What these tents do is they create a space. They create a space that is around the clock. And if at any time somebody feels like this system that they live in is unjust, unfair, rigged, they can come here and talk to people who also think that.

When they come here they meet people who are organized, educated, well-spoken, get things done, and who know how to assemble, know their rights, and know their power. When they come here, they build a network. We are all building a network. And that is the real reason that they want to take down these tents.

They look for loopholes — health this, curfew that — but really, they are worried! They are worried that what we will do is shake up the status quo.

The power of these tents is that it is a space, it is making a giant spotlight on the precise problems with society today. And they are getting scared cause this spotlight is getting brighter and brighter by the day.

When people come here or to 101 Market, they learn all the ways that the Federal Reserve, the banks, the corporations have screwed us. They learn about these things. Think about the fact that you can talk to anyone in this camp right now and they can tell you about corporate personhood. This was not the case even just two months ago.

Right now people understand the things that are happening with money, taxes, how their taxes go to big banks so that then those big banks can get bailed out and use that bail-out money to make more money to then buy off the politicians, so that then the politicians are going to be serving them, and then the politicians will come and try to shut down these camps.

They try to shut down the occupation precisely because we’re shaking it up. Right now, the way things work is that the financial institutions and large corporations are in power. The politicians no longer serve the needs of the people. They are serving the needs of these corporations to keep raking in more money at the people’s expense. And the more we shine the spotlight on that, the more they’ll get worried. The more they’ll make up trumped-up charges. The more forces they will send down here.

But you know what we can hide behind? You know what we have on our side? We have the Constitution. The Constitution was not made so that people could argue it in court. It was not made so that ACLU can fight for us. It was made because the Founding Fathers realized that there might come a time in our history that we might need as people to be able to go against the government, to speak out against their tyranny. And guess what, that time is now. That time is today!

The government has become so corrupt, it has become so tyrannical, they are sending in forces, giant forces of police, who can’t speak, who are dressed in riot gear. They are sending in a hundred police officers for 50 campers last night at Dallas. They are sending in these giant forces to shut down not camps but ideas.

And I will do what the Founding Fathers intended me to do. And I will stand here and I will occupy and I will use my rights to free speech, to assembly, wether it includes a tent or whether it includes signs, and we will continue to organize. Right now, if they raided this, we have enough organization in place to come right back.

So in conclusion, it’s up to all of us to try to get this to be here as long as possible so that we can organize more and more, and we can take down the system and take it back for us, for the people. Because it’s our system, it is our America, it is our Constitution. It does not belong to the corporations, Goldman Sachs, the politicians. We will take it back. We will occupy for as long as we can.

Thank you!

Whether the Occupy movement (if you want to call it that) was able to make a dent or will find a way to continue to do so is a topic for discussion. What’s clear is that the issues remain. It’s more important than ever to shine a bright spotlight.

El Triste (José José, 1970)

June 22nd, 2011

Awesome!

El Triste (The Sad One) is a song written by Mexican composer Roberto Cantoral. It was performed for the first time on March 25, 1970, at the “Latin Song Festival II” (predecessor of the OTI Festival) by the Mexican singer José José. [...] The song and its masterful interpretation was such a hit, that the audience at the festival demanded that José José had won it, but in the end, even with the impact that his performance caused, he got the third place.

Source: Wikipedia

In Germany for the holidays

December 16th, 2010

In another installment of Heimatsafari, I’ll be spending the holidays with my family in Germany. In fact, I’m already there (here).

I’m staying a few miles outside of Cologne with some availability for random get-togethers. Look me up!

Ese Hombre (Rocío Jurado, 1979)

August 27th, 2010

Ese hombre que tú ves ahí
que parece tan galante,
tan atento y arrogante,
lo conozco como a mí.

Ese hombre que tú ves ahí
que aparenta ser divino,
tan afable y efusivo,
sólo sabe hacer sufrir…

Es un gran necio,
un estúpido engreído,
egoísta y caprichoso,
un payaso vanidoso,
inconsciente y presumido,
falso enano rencoroso
que no tiene corazón.

Lleno de celos,
sin razones ni motivos,
como el viento, impetuoso,
pocas veces cariñoso,
inseguro de sí mismo,
soportable como amigo,
insufrible como amor.

Ese hombre que tú ves ahí,
que parece tan amable,
dadivoso y agradable,
lo conozco como a mí.

Ese hombre que tú ves ahí,
que parece tan seguro
de pisar bien por el mundo,
sólo sabe hacer sufrir.

Rocío Jurado, from the 1979 album Señora. Song composed by Manuel Alejandro.

Ven Con El Alma Desnuda (Hernaldo Zúñiga, 1980)

August 21st, 2010

Ven cuando quieras a mi
ven si es que quieres hablarme
aunque yo pienso que todo se hablo
ya nada puede cambiarse

ven que no quede por mi
yo estoy dispuesto a escucharte
aunque debiera negarte el favor
por todo lo que me enganaste

pero ven con el alma desnuda
con la pura verdad en los labios
no te olvides que ya no hay mas plazos
esta ves o tu quedas o te vas

pero ven con el alma desnuda
con la pura verdad por delante
yo te quiero y no puedo negarte
que quisiera volver a empezar

ven cuando quieras a mi
ven si es que quieres hablarme
aunque yo pienso que todo se hablo
ya nada puede cambiarse

ven que no quede por mi
yo estoy dispuesto a escucharte
aunque debiera negarte el favor
por todo lo que me enganaste

pero ven con el alma desnuda
con la pura verdad en los labios
no te olvides que ya no hay mas plazos
esta ves o tu quedas o te vas

pero ven con el alma desnuda
con la pura verdad por delante
yo te quiero y no puedo negarte
que quisiera volver a empezar

Performed by Hernaldo Zúñiga, from the 1980 album Hernaldo, El Original. Music by Manuel Alejandro.

Lo Dudo (José José, 1983)

August 2nd, 2010

Anda y ve, te esta esperando,
Anda y ve, no lo hagas por mí,
que al fin y al cabo, somos solo amigos…

Anda y ve, te veo nerviosa,
Anda y ve y que sientas con él,
lo que en su día tu sentías conmigo…

Pero lo dudo, conmigo te mecías en el aire,
volabas en caballo blanco el mundo,
y aquellas cosas no podrán volver…
y es que lo dudo porque hasta veces
me has llorado con un beso…
llorando de alegría y no de miedo,
y dudo, que te pase igual con él, igual con él…

Anda y ve, te esta esperando,
Anda y ve, no lo hagas por mi,
que al fin y al cabo, somos solo amigos…

Pero lo dudo, conmigo te mecías en el aire,
volabas en caballo blanco el mundo,
y aquellas cosas no podrán volver…
y es que lo dudo porque hasta veces
me has llorado con un beso…
llorando de alegría y no de miedo,
y dudo, que te pase igual con él, igual con él…

From the hit album Secretos (1983).

Happy Birthday, America!

July 4th, 2010

Looks like it’s been a while since I last said happy birthday, so here goes…

America The Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Here’s a playlist I started today with a few more classics (and more to be added, I’m sure).

Sono come tu mi vuoi (Mina, 1967)

May 5th, 2010

Sono
come tu mi vuoi
e t’amo
come non ho amato mai
Io sono
la sola
che possa
capire
tutto quello che c’è da capire in te.
Forse
se baciassi me
forse
capiresti meglio che
io sono la sola
che tu
possa amare
non lo vedi che sono a due passi
da te.
Non sai quanto bene di un anno
e non sai quanto amore sprecato
aspettando in
silenzio che tu
ti accorgessi di me
per capire
quello che già sai
che io sono
sono come tu mi vuoi
come tu
mi vuoi.
Io
sono
la sola
che tu
possa amare
non lo vedi che sono a due passi
da te.
Non sai quanto bene di un anno
e non sai quanto amore sprecato
aspettando in silenzio che tu
ti accorgessi di me
per capire
quello che già sai
che io sono
sono come tu mi vuoi
come tu mi vuoi
come tu mi vuoi
come tu mi vuoi

Ein Hoch der Liebe (Wencke Myhre, 1968)

March 24th, 2010

Wencke Myhre. Herzallerliebst.