Page 2 Arts and Justice

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Looking towards Port Angeles, Washington from Canada. Photo by Craig Rock

The Virus Won’t Revive F.D.R.’s Arts Jobs Program. Here’s Why.

The Federal Art Project, part of Roosevelt’s sweeping employment plan, 
gave work to thousands of artists, but politics and society were different then.
New York Times, April 22, 2020, click here

How does Donald Trump stack up against American literature’s fictional dictators? 

Pretty well, actually.

"Sinclair Lewis's 'It Can't Happen Here' and Philip Roth's 'The Plot Against America' anticipate 

a Trump-like leader -- and challenge how we would respond." Washington Post, June 9, 2016, click here for a review of these books 

YouTube Video

Social Media Giants Support Racial Justice. Their Products Undermine It.
New York Times, June 19, 2020, click here

Fox isn’t enough: Amid coronavirus crisis, 
Trump leans on a new media friend
Los Angeles Times, March 1, 2020, click here
(a story about OAN, One America News)

To Live and Love in a Dying World
A conversation between Tim DeChristopher and Wendell Berry

"In the summer of 2019, the climate activist Tim DeChristopher sat down with Wendell Berry. Berry is a poet and activist, author of over forty books, a recipient of the National Humanities Medal, a 2013 Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a celebrated advocate for localism, ecological health, and small-scale farming. DeChristopher, as Bidder 70, disrupted a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas auction in 2008 by outbidding oil companies for parcels around Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah. Imprisoned for twenty-one months for his actions, he has used his platform to spread the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for bold, confrontational action to create a just and healthy world."

New book on El Paso area gangs

Gangs of the El Paso-Juarez Borderland

(From the University of New Mexico Press) "This thought-provoking book examines gang history in the region encompassing West Texas, Southern New Mexico, and Northern Chihuahua, Mexico. Known as the El Paso–Juárez borderland region, the area contains more than three million people spanning 130 miles from east to west. From the badlands—the historically notorious eastern Valle de Juárez—to the Puerto Palomas port of entry at Columbus, New Mexico, this area has become more militarized and politicized than ever before. Mike Tapia examines this region by exploring a century of historical developments through a criminological lens and by studying the diverse subcultures on both sides of the law.

Tapia looks extensively at the role of history and geography on criminal subculture formation in the binational urban setting of El Paso–Juárez, demonstrating the region’s unique context for criminogenic processes. He provides a poignant case study of Homeland Security and the apparent lack of drug-war spillover in communities on the US-Mexico border."

Read the review in the El Paso Times, December 13, click here

Alert from Committee to Protect Journalists

Chilean journalist Albertina Martínez Burgos found dead in Santiago 

Miami, November 26, 2019 -- Chilean authorities should conduct a swift and thorough investigation into the killing of journalist Albertina Martínez Burgos, determine if the attack was related to her work, and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On November 21, the body of Martínez, a freelance photographer and media worker, was found in her apartment in Santiago, the capital, according to news reports. She was found by her boyfriend’s mother; her boyfriend had asked his mother to check in on Martínez after he had been unable to reach her, according to reports.

Martínez’s body had signs of having been stabbed and beaten, and all of her photographic equipment and materials were missing from her home, according to those reports.

According to initial reports, Martínez had been documenting the anti-government protests that have taken place in Chile since October 6, and had recorded Chilean police abusing protesters. However, a group of Martínez’s friends put out a statement yesterday, quoted by local outlet La Nacion, saying that she had not covered the protests or been involved as a protester.

“Chilean authorities should thoroughly investigate the killing of Albertina Martínez Burgos to determine if it was linked to her reporting and do everything possible to recover her equipment and materials,” said CPJ Central and South America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick, in New York. “Photojournalists, especially freelancers like Martínez, are often on the front lines and face some of the greatest risks when reporting on civil unrest."

Martínez also worked as a lighting assistant for local television station Megavisión, according to news reports.

In an interview with the news website 24horas, the prosecutor assigned to the case, Deborah Quintana, said that it is being treated as a murder, and that authorities are conducting an autopsy, interviewing witnesses, and reviewing footage from the security cameras at Martínez’s building.

CPJ repeatedly called the Metropolitan Center-North Region prosecutor’s office, which is overseeing the case, but no one answered the calls.


Amnesty International Press Release - October 18

Nicaragua Must End Repression

The Nicaraguan government must end the repressive strategy it has pursued since 18 April 2018 and which currently includes implementing measures to close down, subdue or silence civil society organizations and the independent media, said Amnesty International today as it launched its campaign "What we left behind: fleeing repression in Nicaragua".

“The international community must be clear that the human rights crisis in Nicaragua since April 2018, caused by the government of Daniel Ortega, is ongoing and that the authorities have shown no desire to ensure the population can exercise their rights. As a result of this strategy of repression, tens of thousands of people are living in exile, including human rights defenders and journalists,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

“With this campaign, we are urging the Nicaraguan government to stop the repression, to immediately and unconditionally release those held solely for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and to ensure that courageous defenders and journalists can work in a safe and conducive environment, without fear of reprisals. We will continue to raise our voice for the Nicaraguan people.”

The campaign will include petitions, events and the sharing of information and audiovisual materials containing the testimonies of people who have fled the country in the wake of the crisis, in order to highlight the human rights violations that continue to take place in Nicaragua. It will also include actions on Nicaraguan human rights defenders and journalists, such as Francisca Ramírez, Lucía Pineda Ubau and Vilma Núñez, in the framework of Amnesty International's global campaign, “Brave”.

International human rights organizations report that more than 80,000 people have been forced to leave Nicaragua because of the current crisis. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has stated that more than 68,000 people have sought protection in Costa Rica. According to the UNHCR, Costa Rica, Panama, the USA, Spain and Mexico were the countries that received the highest number of asylum applications from people from Nicaragua in 2018.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has reported that more than 100 journalists and media workers have had to leave the country.

Francisca Ramírez, a campesino leader and renowned Nicaraguan human rights defender, fled to Costa Rica more than a year ago after receiving serious threats. Lucía Pineda Ubau, a journalist with the media outlet 100% Noticias, left Costa Rica immediately following her release from prison in June, after almost six months in arbitrary detention. In addition, the authorities have revoked the registration of the Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights (CENIDH), which was coordinated by Vilma Núñez; the organization's goods and assets were seized in December and have yet to be returned. Harassment of the organization has resulted in some of its members having to flee the country


New Blog on Immigration Issues
Read Denise Holley's new blog by clicking here.
See her article on page one.

Las Cruces mural raises awareness of missing and 
murdered indigenous women

'New Mexico has the highest number of cases involving missing and murdered
indigenous women' Rep. Andrea Romero


Just Keep Going North, At the Border
Harpers Magazine, July 2019, click here
article by William T. Vollmann

Feature article about refugees on the both sides of the Mexican - U.S. border 
near Nogales Arizona and Nogales, Sonora. 
(The refugees, the relief workers, the mafia, the border patrol, and others)



Voices of the Movement
Washington Post, June 5, click here
by Jonathan Capehart

"The veterans of the civil rights movement made history, but they are eager for you to know something: They didn’t set out to be heroes or icons. On two occasions this year, these brave men and women gathered to reflect on their experiences and the legacy they're leaving — for people like me who benefited from their courage and for the kids growing up in today’s shifting world.
Some of them are names you know, some aren’t — but all of them have stories that need to be told while they're still here to tell them.

This audio series from the “Cape Up” podcast brings you the stories and reflections of some of these leaders, and their lessons on where we go from here."

The Unreturning

by Wilfred Owen, 1893 - 1918

"Wilfred was an English poet and soldier, one of the leading poets of the First World War. His war poetry on the horrors of trenches and gas warfare was heavily influenced by his mentor Siegfried Sassoon, and stood in stark contrast both to the public perception of war at the time and to the confidently patriotic verse written by earlier war poets...." Owen was killed one week before the signing of the Armistice. More on Wikipedia

Suddenly night crushed out the day and hurled
Her remnants over cloud-peaks, thunder-walled.
Then fell a stillness such as harks appalled
When far-gone dead return upon the world.

There watched I for the Dead; but no ghost woke.
Each one whom Life exiled I named and called.
But they were all too far, or dumbed, or thralled;
And never one fared back to me or spoke.

Then peered the indefinite unshapen dawn
With vacant gloaming, sad as half-lit minds,
The weak-limned hour when sick men’s sighs are drained.
And while I wondered on their being withdrawn,
Gagged by the smothering wing which none unbinds,
I dreaded even a heaven with doors so chained.

Poetry Corner

Poems that capture the hopes for — and fears 
about — a new year
Washington Post, January 4, 2020, click here

Death Befriended

by David Bolton

Should be used to it by now
photos gliding past the screen
passages of life, birth to kindergarten
high school to marriage, children and career
fleeting as stardust. 

So her days have reached
their end, leaving a legacy
perhaps of prayer and dream of redemption
eternal life, world without end, the serpent
of knowledge crushed beneath Mother Mary’s feet… 

When I was a windy boy, had to touch Popple’s stone
cold brow, just to know what it was like.
As a lad of darkness, I hung out in graveyards
drinking beer and doing the soft shoe on graves. 

Death has grazed me
running out in the street at 5
spinning out on BW Parkway ice at 19
nearly drowning in Big Sur at 26
later a razor to the throat in a robbery gone bad.
Who knows how luck is dealt?
The shadow of destiny touches all mortals
a reminder that the hour is late.

I bear the stain of a generation, the Me generation
the generation that had it all. Though I wouldn’t trade
my time and place on this planet for any other,
I fear our legacy, the exponential ruin we are leaving behind. 

I watch the Kabuki theater in the Senate
this loss of democracy a tragedy for humanity.
And plastic chokes acid seas, raw sewage spews
into the Ganges, not to mention a thousand other things. 

So life trickles on, this my eighth decade
above ground, and, yes, I do tend to my garden.
I laugh with my spouse, watch Lamar on TV, study Spanish,
do tai chi, visit India, write a little poetry, and
practice random acts of kindness
each day a gift, every minute, every breath,
even my last.

© 2020 David Bolton

Year of the Muskrat
by David Bolton

The muskrat digs its way into a dam
Infestation threatens the foundation
Will there be a flood?
Will there be disaster?

It was an awful year, saith the sports analyst
He was not talking about football.  
In the gym, the grocery line, at the bus stop
Strangers be impelled to share their blues
Ain’t this somethin’, can you believe it?
We tell our better half not to lose hope 
That we’ll muddle through 
Haven’t we done so in the past?
I remember ’68, cities in smoke 
The lies of a president and the loss of faith
Say what we will to mollify the days
But there is dread in the air

May we be wrong about this decline of civility,
Not to mention democracy and the rise of the racist creed  
May this be a passing fancy, an historical fart 
But this epidemic of conceit has no inoculation
And the muskrat keeps digging
His small claws churning the bulwark
Burrowing deep into the breach
No more we the people 
Time to take to the streets.

© David Bolton

by David Bolton

Begin morning coffee, Synthroid, aspirin and vitamin C, fish oil, garlic and a turmeric dash in the spinach smoothie. Only then can one absorb headlines landing in the grey dawn, like a Pink Floyd dirge, but the lunatic ain’t in my head; it’s spread across the printed page.

Another mass shooting, your thoughts and prayers please. Trump dis and Trump dat, like Lear, raging at the wind. Out vile jelly. Only the blind can see. Stayed tuned on You Tube, next up “prison’s gritty realities,” brought to you by a host of maladies.

It’s enough to make your teeth itch. Which means it’s time to weed. This postage-stamp backyard, framed by a mossy stone wall and oak, holly, maple and pine, softening the urban clamor, the distant highway rumble, planes from BWI, occasional sirens.

Past the wall and trees, boys thump a soccer ball. Robins abound on the ground, pecking at worms, squirrels steal from the feeder, and a young rabbit munches clover. Bunny, keep those ears pricked. A bushy-tail fox could trot along the wall or a horned owl could swoop from the leaves. It’s a jungle out here.

I fall to my knees, rooting out treacherous vines, incestuous chickpeas, wayward grasses and invasive species. Over the ivy-coated fence, Virginia creepers have launched a heart-felt assault, encroaching the yard in a single night, slithering over periwinkle and down the wall, ubiquitous for space, smothering trees and everything in between, a fascist plot destroying diversity. Clippers in hand, I scale the wall and slide past the fence with murderous intent. Among the brambles, thorns and poison ivy grow the roots of this madness. Here, I make my stand.
© 2019 David Bolton
New Book on McCarthyism and New Mexico

McCarthyism vs. Clinton Jencks

Publisher Comments       Available thru Amazon and Powell's Books

For twenty years after World War II, the United States was in the grips of its second and most oppressive red scare. The hysteria was driven by conflating American Communists with the real Soviet threat. The anticommunist movement was named after Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, but its true dominant personality was FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who promoted and implemented its repressive policies and laws. The national fear over communism generated such anxiety that Communist Party members and many left-wing Americans lost the laws' protections. Thousands lost their jobs, careers, and reputations in the hysteria, though they had committed no crime and were not disloyal to the United States. Among those individuals who experienced more of anti-communism's varied repressive measures than anyone else was Clinton Jencks. 

Jencks, a decorated war hero, adopted as his own the Mexican American fight for equal rights in New Mexico's mining industry. In 1950 he led a local of the International Union of Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers in the famed Empire Zinc strike — memorialized in the blacklisted 1954 film Salt of the Earth — in which wives and mothers replaced strikers on the picket line after an injunction barred the miners themselves. But three years after the strike, Jencks was arrested and charged with falsely denying that he was a Communist and was sentenced to five years in prison. In Jencks v. United States (1957), the Supreme Court overturned his conviction in a landmark decision that mandated providing to an accused person previously hidden witness statements, thereby making cross-examination truly effective. 

In McCarthyism vs. Clinton Jencks, Caballero reveals for the first time that the FBI and the prosecution knew all along that Clinton Jencks was innocent. Jencks's case typified the era, exposing the injustice that many suffered at the hands of McCarthyism. The tale of Jencks's quest for justice provides a fresh glimpse into the McCarthy era's oppression, which irrevocably damaged the lives, careers, and reputations of thousands of Americans.

New Book by Jim Mattis (Former Defense Secretary - Sep 3 Release

Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead
"Mattis is warning that bitter political divisions threaten American society, saying he views tribalism as a greater risk to the nation's future than foreign adversaries." ....He said "we are dividing up into hostile tribes cheering against each other, fueled by emotion and mutual disdain that jeopardizes our future, instead of rediscovering our common ground and finding solutions."

from Associated Press, August 28, click here

More Poems

The Poet and His Song
by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)

"Born on June 27, 1872, Paul Laurence Dunbar was one of the first African American poets to gain national recognition. His parents Joshua and Matilda Murphy Dunbar were freed slaves from Kentucky. His parents separated shortly after his birth, but Dunbar would draw on their stories of plantation life throughout his writing career. By the age of fourteen, Dunbar had poems published in the Dayton Herald. While in high school he edited the Dayton Tattler, a short-lived black newspaper published by classmate Orville Wright."

A song is but a little thing, 
And yet what joy it is to sing!
In hours of toil it gives me zest,
And when at eve I long for rest;
When cows come home along the bars,
And in the fold I hear the bell,
As Night, the shepherd, herds his stars,
I sing my song, and all is well.

There are no ears to hear my lays,
No lips to lift a word of praise;
But still, with faith unfaltering,
I live and laugh and love and sing.
What matters yon unheeding throng?
They cannot feel my spirit’s spell,
Since life is sweet and love is long,
I sing my song, and all is well.

My days are never days of ease;
I till my ground and prune my trees.
When ripened gold is all the plain,
I put my sickle to the grain.
I labor hard, and toil and sweat,
While others dream within the dell;
But even while my brow is wet,
I sing my song, and all is well.

Sometimes the sun, unkindly hot,
My garden makes a desert spot;
Sometimes a blight upon the tree
Takes all my fruit away from me;
And then with throes of bitter pain
Rebellious passions rise and swell;
But—life is more than fruit or grain,
And so I sing, and all is well.

(Read more about this poet by clicking here)

The Masque by E. E. Griffith
(from the Overland Monthly magazine, June, 1920)

When I’m walking down the street,
Many are the folks I meet; 
Yet I feel that I have strayed,
To a mighty masquerade; 

For the faces that I see
Often bring no hint to me
Of the thoughts that press the brain, 
Whether they be of joy or pain,

Whether wonder, love or hate,
Whether petty, common, great,
What their pet antipathy?
What extent of sympathy?

Painted masks, these myriad faces,
Hiding honor and disgraces,
Hiding in their inmost heart
Thoughts which they conceal with art.

How this mad monotony
Savors of satiety!
Would that they would lift the veil,
Smile or sigh or laugh or wail,

Just a little, so to me,
Comes their minds’ activity;
So that I may somehow know,
How, with them, the world-winds blow.

by Anonymous

(from Carlos Bulosan's America is in the Heart)

"America is in the Heart was first published in 1943, this classic memoir by well-known Filipino poet Carlos Bulosan describes his boyhood in the Philippines, his voyage to America, and his years of hardship and despair as an itinerant laborer following the harvest trail in the rural West."
 A frowning face

Or a sweet smile

I do admire

and life and death

Are silly little puppets

Playing on a make-believe stage

For a reckless wanderer --

I am a wanderer

And my country is the world

Who Gets to Own the West
A new group of billionaires is shaking up the landscape.
NY Times, June 22, click here


With Pen and Blank Paper

a poet

sitting for hours


about wise words

for the next poem

like a fisherman

in a calm breeze

at peace

no fish in the pail

throwing back the little ones

But having a good day!

Craig Rock

Citizens Divided 

by Craig Rock

how do you write a poem

about living:

in the “richest” country

in the world

many burying their futures

in daily funerals 

of dreams and ideals,

instead stuffing dollars

in mattresses

or off-shore accounts.

in the most “organized” country

in the world

power centered

black, not so black, white, not so white,

progressive, liberal, conservative

radical, not so radical, not interested,

straight, gay, mixed

young, not so young, old, not so old,

God, no god, many gods

citizens divided.

in the “freest” country

in the world

if you can afford it 

concealed or disguised

in mansions, mini-mansions,

gated and guarded

 five-star restaurants

 great hospitals

grand universities

if you can afford


if not

one will be appointed

your choice of chains

 high rents or endless mortgages

on homes or on student loans

slums or prisons

and don't even mention

iPhones with invisible leashes,

video games that keep

eyes, fingers, and minds


into the middle of the night

awake or asleep, no matter

bumper to bumper traffic

on our streets, sidewalks

and commercial TV.

in our long waiting lines

with too many

too quick

to shoot

in so many different 


and its all “free.”

citizens divided.

how do you write

a poem

about that?