Friday, April 27, 2007

"Sacrificial Wolfie"

Says Naomi Klein:

"The World Bank has the perfect standard bearer. The bank's credibility was already fatally compromised by hypocrisies far greater than those of Wolfowitz."

Click the headline to read on, a biting critique of the World Bank and the corruption it embodies.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Crime and Punishment, the poem

A short piece of prose I wrote a few days ago just wrapped itself in a cocoon and came out a poem ...

The gavel came down on Mel Kay
and Michael McLaughlin
of the Golden State Fence Company

who built a levee fifteen feet high
to hold back the human tide
at the southern border.
The Army Corps of Engineers
called their work impeccable
and stuffed their pockets full.

Then a judge banged his gavel
sentenced Kay and McLaughlin
to house arrest, fines of five million,
for hiring men with borrowed names
and imaginary numbers.
For shuffling papers with a wink
and putting them to work.

But does the punishment fit the crime?
Perhaps a fine, a few thousand each
would suffice, paid with indentured sweat.
Being forced to run the deadly gauntlet
through the desert,
for the profit and pleasure of bandits.
Spending years not knowing when
the knock might come at the door,
whether tomorrow they will take you away
in a windowless van, leaving behind
your spouse, your children,
once again.
Spending years apart from your firstborn,
who turns flat into photographs, a voice echoing
at the other end of the line.
And getting stuck on the wrong side
when your mother or brother is dying back home
but there’s no way you can go to them,
because there’s no telling if you can get back again.

This, perhaps, would make a just sentence for Kay and McLaughlin.
Not for hiring workers without papers,
that is not the crime.
For building fences to block their passage—
cages, for men and women
who arrive with dry throats
and hearts laden down with stones.

revised December 12, 2007

Friday, April 20, 2007

May Day / Primero de Mayo

Hilary Stern from CASA Latina says: Yesterday, there was an interesting report on the National May Day Marches and Boycotts on the NPR show, "Democracy Now." Organizers predict that it will be even bigger this year. Be part of history. Join us!

May Day March and Rally

Tuesday MAY 1st, 2007
3P.M. Seattle Center Fisher Pavilion

Stop breaking our families apart

If you are interested in volunteering please call (206) 324-6044.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Crime and Punishment

Mel Kay, President and Founder, and Michael McLaughlin, a manager of Golden State Fence Company, ran a tight ship. They were contracted in the late nineties to build a fence 15 feet high and 6,100 feet long near the U.S.-Mexico border, to hold back the tide of immigrants. The Army Corps of Engineers called them “professional, reliable, and extremely competent … We have never encountered any problems with any personnel they have used.” Their revenue grew to $150 million in 2004. Their motto is “Home of the American Dream.”

In late March, a federal judge sentenced Kay and McLaughlin to house arrest, community service, probation, and fines of $300,000, for knowingly hiring undocumented immigrants between 1999 and 2004. Their business was also fined $4.7 million.

But does the punishment fit the crime? Perhaps a more appropriate sentence would have included a fine of a few thousand dollars each. That, and being made to run through the desert. With no food and little water, risking death by hypothermia, dehydration and the violence of bandits. That, and spending years wondering when the knock might come at the door, whether tomorrow they will be taken away from their wives and children. Years of seeing only photos of the other kids left behind.

This, perhaps, would be a just sentence, but not for hiring workers who lack the right papers. For building fences to block their passage. For building cages.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Backyard Bounty

My friend Leonard has started a business to help "urban farmers" grow organic veggies in their yards. Spread the word about this good man with a green thumb.

click the headline or see for details

Step It Up!

Join the National Day of Climate Action this Saturday ~

click headline for details

Monday, April 02, 2007

Public Health: Pay now, not later

From a recent Seattle-Post Intelligencer editorial:

Washington ranks 44th in the country on public health spending, and one source told us that as of right now, some local public health offices can "barely afford to keep the lights on and the doors open."

[ click the headline for the full text ]