ferguson tonight


above is a photo from Ferguson that has really stuck with me tonight. I have been following this on twitter via NPR who are retweeting people describing the situation on the ground and other twitter users voicing personal outrage and concerning opinions being voiced from either side of the issue. obviously this is not the entire story, but i just wanted to leave these bits here for anyone needing a reason to care or a place from which to begin their personal investigation. I would also see the Brown family’s response to the grand jury’s decision, McCulloch’s press conference, and Obama’s speech.




Insanity = Death?


The article that I’ve chosen to write on is titled “Will Texas Kill an Insane Man?” from the New York Times. The piece is not filled with opinion but tells of the mental state of a prisoner in Texas, jailed because he killed his in-laws. Scott Panetti, the prisoner, now faces the death sentence and will be executed on December 3rd.

There is absolutely no doubt that this man is severely ill, but does this warrant death? The article describes how he has not had a mental health evaluation since 2007; this, to me, is strikingly significant because in order to make a large decision like ending one’s life it is necessary to leave no rock unturned in terms of why. The article also lacks this information: why? Why kill an inmate who, for 19 years, has done nothing but have psychotic episode after episode? He is quite the liability for the prison, but his situation is interesting. It can be argued that he belongs in a mental health institution, but his crimes do warrant some form of punishment from the state. However, prisons do not yet (hopefully yet) have the capacity to care for the mentally ill, which make up a surprisingly large percentage of inmates.

I personally do not believe that Panetti’s actions warrant a death sentence because he is very obviously insane. Upon reading the article, which stresses his insanity and mental degression, what stuck out to me the most was why exactly he was being put to death. My best guess is that he is costing the prison/government (depending on private/public ownership) too much money, but the article unfortunately leaves this open-ended.

Researcher goes to a Slum



This article details the visit of an American woman to a slum in Kenya. The researcher was in the country looking into women’s rights when she just so happened to strike up a conversation with her driver. The driver appeared to be well educated and from a decent background until it was that he told her where he lived. He lived in the slums. She was a little shocked seeing as she would have never gathered that by the way he carried himself. Nevertheless, she was intrigued and wanted to see what his home was like.

She described the slum as being like a whole different city, one with a rather large amount of crime and diseases. The driver, the father of the household, Otieno, told her of the initial struggles of survival. He came to the slum with few skills but eventually, with the help of his cousin, was able to get a license and jobs through that.

When the researcher was leaving she pondered as to why it was that Americans get anxious when they hear about the slums. She came to the conclusion that slums are the result of what people in the western world most fear when they talk about pollution, overpopulation, and urbanization. We fear slums.

What the War on Drugs had Done to the World

This is a TED talk by Ethan Nadelmann who was a professor at Princeton but gave up his job to become a activist for ending the war on drugs.  While this talk goes back to the beginning of the semester I think it is an fantastic talk that puts the drug war into perspective.  He advocates for bringing the underground drug war above ground and legalizing drugs so that they can be regulated and promote safe practices instead of being condemned/criminalized.  This is a very interesting talk that would be worth while to listen to.


We Were All Strangers Once

Last Thursday night, President Obama addressed the United States’ immigration reform to the world. The reform to immigration policy “includes border security and business-related measures, but the focus – and controversy – of the actions is in the broadening of temporary legal status for certain categories of undocumented immigrants” (McMorris and Carrasquillo). This policy would expand the actions of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to include undocumented immigrants who entered the country before 2010 as the program already includes individuals who entered before 2007. “The temporary legal status will last for three years at a time” (McMorris and Carrasquillo). However, the new policy does not include the parents of DREAMers.

From our class discussion on DREAMers, we learned that they do not have a connection to existing law that citizens and legal residents have. Apparently, “the administration looked for ways to grant their parents legal status, but in the end administration lawyers at both the Department of Homeland Security and the White House couldn’t find a legal way to do it” (McMorris and Carrasquillo). The reasoning behind this is that existing citizens and legal residents have the chance to gain citizenship/legal status for parents who live outside the US borders but DREAMers are technically, undocumented themselves (McMorris and Carrasquillo).

I am interested to hear all of your comments on this recent immigration reform. Do you think this is a step in the right direction? What else could have been proposed?




“The world sends us garbage, we send back music.”

Cateura is a slum in Paraguay that is built on top of a landfill. One of the poorest slums in South American, the 2,500 families living in this community live among and from the trash. Their livelihood is dependent on money made from sorting out recyclable materials for resale from the 1,500 tons of garbage that is brought in every day. Illiteracy, a lack of clean water, substance abuse, violence and child labor are some of the issues facing the people of Cateura.

About five years ago an ecological technician named Favio Chávez decided he wanted to teach children living in the slum how to play music. He  taught students using his own personal instruments until the number of students surpassed the number of instruments. Chávez has since teamed up with local Cateurans to make instruments from the trash that surrounds them. Tin cans, bottle caps, pipes, barrels and scrap wood are examples of prime materials for instruments like violins, cellos, guitars and flutes.

The Landfill Harmonic is now a widely successful 30-person ensemble. The group has performed internationally, is somewhat of an internet sensation and a documentary has been made about their story. More importantly, the Landfill Harmonic has been extremely beneficial to the Cateura community. The orchestra provides an outlet for young adults who don’t have many opportunities musically or otherwise. According to Chavez, it is a place for young adults to develop values and find a sense of community. The project has even encouraged some of the musicians’ parents to get clean or continue on with their education. I thought after our somewhat depressing conversation in class today it would be refreshing to hear about this amazing thing that is happening.


Making global labor fair


Auret van Heerden talks about the global supply chain and how to make this chain ethically responsible.  He talks about the issue of regulation since globalization.  For example: how is the United States government supposed to regulate the things going on in factories in China when they have no jurisdiction there.  In this way we see how borders prevent human rights intervention and regulation of business.  Globalization is not the enemy in this video it is actually the borders and the lack of international corporations and governments to come together to create a set of standards that every part of the supply chain must adhere to.

He proposes creating a safe space between NGOs, multinational corporation, and governments to talk about the issues that arise with outsourcing and the impacts of globalization.  This approach is very similar to that of Michelle Alexander concerning racial issues.  Both want to have groups come together in a non-judgmental environment to outline the issues and come up with realistic solutions to these problems.  He wants there to be open dialogue between producers and consumers about where the products that end up in stores come from. Above all he calls to the public to pressure these companies and governments to become more socially responsible.

He is primarily concerned with the issue of human rights and talks about the dehumanization that goes on in many factories.  This dehumanization, he says, takes away the dignity of the workers and strips them of their humanity and thus their human rights.  One ethical question that come to mind during this TED talk are whether or not dignity is something that can be taken away from someone? And should this standard of regulation be something that comes in the form similar to the UN Declaration of Human Rights or should this be something the World Bank should govern?

Time Magazine Suggests Banning The Word “Feminist”



I chose this article because I think it shows how society perceives the label of “feminist”. When I first read the article I was really shocked, because Time magazine has an esteemed reputation, and I didn’t think they would make such a statement. In today’s society, people have reacted to the feminist movement negatively, because there is a stigma that a feminist wants female dominance rather than equality. I would consider myself a feminist, and I definitely disagree with how feminists are cast in society. The whole point of feminism is for gender equality, rather than any gender being superior to another. Therefore, feminism should not just be a women’s movement, because it advocates for everyone. By including “feminist” on the banned words list, Time hurts the overall goal of feminism by separating the female and male genders. I understand their thought process behind getting rid of the label “feminist”, but their point was very misconstrued and ended up being controversial and offensive instead.  Additionally, the other words on the list, such as “I can’t even” and “basic” and “yaassss” are very meaningless and light phrases, whereas feminism is a serious issue that is widely advocated today. I thought it was kind of disrespectful to include such terms on the list alongside the word “feminist”. It degrades the term “feminist” and makes it less legitimate; therefore, it makes feminism seem like a less serious topic. Although Time magazine has apologized for their inclusion of the word “feminism” on the banned words list, the damage has been done, and the original article still remains on their website.

San Quentin Inmates learning how to Code



This article talks about San Quentin offering classes in coding to prison inmates. San Quentin has enrolled 18 inmates into the program and they hope that within 6 months the inmates will have sufficient knowledge in order to land them jobs. I think this is such a fantastic idea because “many inmates have missed the internet revolution.” As in, some of these inmates have been incarcerated for such a long time that once released they would have no idea how to assimilate back into society. The Internet dictates most of our lives, including our social lives, and how we get/transfer information. Life has basically been cultivated around a need for technology. The couple that founded the program, Chris Redlitz and Beverely Parenti, also started a nonprofit program called the Last Mile. The Last Mile is an intensive business boot camp where inmates brainstorm a start up idea and pitch it to investors. Honestly, I think every institutionalized facility should have some sort of program like this because it helps fosters a sense of ambition in inmates as opposed to simply “corrective punishment”. It gives them the opportunity to plan for a life outside of prison and it could help lower recidivism rates. Coding is a in demand practical skill and would definitely make it easier for inmates to find work after being released.