As many of you knnow, I have not been well, and my computer died some weeks ago. I have not yet replaced it. For the time being, this site is only viewable with either the free Firefox or Chrome Browsers. The borrowed computer I am using does not allow me to test the code on Internet Explorer. Sorry.
were i to briefly peer into the distant past, say, into the vault
where memories of vanished years are held, i'd mind
the purple larkspur standing sentinel over creeping pink
verbena lovely in my mind's eye, changing to the moment
yesterday? where i am cradling in hand and arm
a loaded m1 carbine standing at the ready
by the destroyer escort's ladder staring hard at the swells
among which sailors swim, all safe in their belief and faith
that sharks will not intrude and as these memories recede
i remember that yes, i have grown some lovely flowers
in my time, blood red roses and feral bougainvillia,
bachelors' buttons among the sweet peas, nasturtiums,
daffodils and all the rest, jewels come from the breast
of mother earth but it has always been the daisies
we have ever tasked to tie it all together, the lovely
daisies that i place beside the headstone, for you left,
never truly to let me know if it was worth the candle and it
wasn't really yesterday but in 1952 holding that rifle, willing
the sharks i had no wish to kill not to appear that i could not
have foreseen how quickly time would pass, how that day
would fast be lost among the yesterdays that haunt
my waking hours, how all those yesterdays would fade
to poorly recalled memories, even recent
memories that age makes difficult to fetch
and reconsider, did those things really happen, was i
so inept to let the moment pass? who were we back
then to ask a flower whose silent petals white we invested
with temporary proxied speech, she loves me, he loves me not,
she loves me, what more could you have done, what more
could i have done, what more could we have done that either
failed to do? how was it that one is left alone to trespass back
to time long past become an unwelcome present,
memory time can no longer fully tender, dreams lost
among flowers that can no longer bloom, flowers that
imagination can no longer conjour, flowers of absurd colors come
to assault the mind, flowers that are here but truly never were?
© 2014 Jesús B Otxoa, el chuco, tejas
Aaron Swartz 1986 - 2013
It's been a little over a year that Aaron Swartz committed suicide, thanks to an overzealous federal prosecution that had him facing up to 30 years imprisonmment for what was essentially a victimless "crime". The same federal authorities that failed to investigate the Boston marathon bombers - even though they had been tipped off regarding their activities but were too busy investigating peaceful citizens to bother with the real thing - the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney's office and the FBI - were and are the real culprits in this sorry mess that led to his untimely death.
Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. The world's entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations. Want to read the papers featuring the most famous results of the sciences? You'll need to send enormous amounts to publishers like Reed Elsevier.
There are those struggling to change this. The Open Access Movement has fought valiantly to ensure that scientists do not sign their copyrights away but instead ensure their work is published on the Internet, under terms that allow anyone to access it. But even under the best scenarios, their work will only apply to things published in the future. Everything up until now will have been lost.
That is too high a price to pay. Forcing academics to pay money to read the work of their colleagues? Scanning entire libraries but only allowing the folks at Google to read them? Providing scientific articles to those at elite universities in the First World, but not to children in the Global South? It's outrageous and unacceptable.
"I agree," many say, "but what can we do? The companies hold the copyrights, they make enormous amounts of money by charging for access, and it's perfectly legal - there's nothing we can do to stop them." But there is something we can, something that's already being done: we can fight back.
Those with access to these resources - students, librarians, scientists - you have been given a privilege. You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world is locked out. But you need not - indeed, morally, you cannot - keep this privilege for yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world. And you have: trading passwords with colleagues, filling download requests for friends.
Meanwhile, those who have been locked out are not standing idly by. You have been sneaking through holes and climbing over fences, liberating the information locked up by the publishers and sharing them with your friends.
But all of this action goes on in the dark, hidden underground. It's called stealing or piracy, as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were the moral equivalent of plundering a ship and murdering its crew. But sharing isn't immoral - it's a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.
Large corporations, of course, are blinded by greed. The laws under which they operate require it - their shareholders would revolt at anything less. And the politicians they have bought off back them, passing laws giving them the exclusive power to decide who can make copies.
There is no justice in following unjust laws. It's time to come into the light and, in the grand tradition of civil disobedience, declare our opposition to this private theft of public culture.
We need to take information, wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world. We need to take stuff that's out of copyright and add it to the archive. We need to buy secret databases and put them on the Web. We need to download scientific journals and upload them to file sharing networks. We need to fight for Guerilla Open Access.
With enough of us, around the world, we'll not just send a strong message opposing the privatization of knowledge - we'll make it a thing of the past. Will you join us?
July 2008, Eremo, Italy
"Despite Aaron Swartz's suicide, the government is still waging an unjust war on whistleblowers, journalists, and information activists. People are being prosecuted (and also highly over-prosecuted) for political acts or merely because the government doesn't agree with them." The persecution of Barrett Brown is a chilling example.
He has been in jail for well over a year, denied bail, and he and his defense lawyers are under a gag order (as is the prosecution) because the federal government believes that his ability to speak will jeopardize his right to a fair trial.
And war is peace, right?
Not only is it election time, but the voters in this statewide primary have a golden opportunity to elect a slate of truly qualified candidates as a first step to rescuing Texas from the death grip of the Tea Party dolts who control the Republican party in the state.
Beginning with State Senator Wendy Davis, who has been attacked, not on the isues, but on her personal story - and I am proud to print her reply - we have a real Democrat, a committed lawyer singularly suited to begin to clean up the Republican mess that has placed Texas in the company of states like Mississippi and Alabama.
Mine is a story about a teenage single mother who struggled to keep her young family afloat. It's a story about a young woman who was given a precious opportunity to work her way up in the world. It's a story about resiliency, and sacrifice, and perseverance.
And you're damn right it's a true story.
Throughout this campaign, I've shared that story - not because it's unique, but because it isn't.
The story of my life is also the story of millions of single mothers who feel alone in the world, millions of young dreamers searching for their chance to become something more than what they were born into, millions of families all across Texas who would sacrifice everything to give their children a better future.
It's those stories - your stories - that drive my campaign. But Greg Abbott and his allies don't want to hear them. They don't have anything to offer Texans who find themselves in the same difficult situation I was in when I was young. They would slam the doors I walked through and pull up the ladders I was lucky to be able to climb.
And now, instead of offering real ideas to improve your life, they're attacking mine.
It won't work. The only thing Greg Abbott and his allies have proved with these desperate attacks is that they don't understand what it means to live a life like mine - a life like that of so many people all across our state.
They don't know me - and, what's more important, they don't know you.
I'm not surprised that the Abbott campaign would resort to attacking the story of a single mother who worked hard to get ahead. And I'm not afraid of their false attacks - I developed thick skin long before anyone knew my name.
What I am is deeply proud of the life I've built and the daughters I've raised - and deeply grateful to the many, many people who have shared their stories and offered their support as I've traveled our state.
No false attack can take away my story. And no sleazy political trick will stop me from giving voice to yours.
Your stories are why I'm running for Governor. And together, I know we'll make sure that the Texas we leave to our children is a place where every young mother can build a better life for her child. . . where every family can work their way up the economic ladder. . . where every Texan can achieve their dreams and live out their own success story.
If you're with me, click here and add your name to my letter as a sign of support. Together, we'll break through these attacks, win this election, and make Texas even greater.
With State Senator Leticia van de Putte standing for Lieutenant Governor and Dr. David Alameel standing for the United States Senate - this is a dream ticket with which real Texans can really stand tall.
Meanwhile, in the West Texas Town of El Paso
Locally, and from my perspective as a life long resident of El Paso, there are two truly awful candidates the public would be well advised to vote out of office. The first is the queen of political smut, self defined by the quality of her political ads and public persona.
I speak, of course, of Marisa Marquez, who is a Republican without the guts to run as one. Her campaigns are models of deceit, flat out lies about herself and her opponents, and, in general, are descriptive of a thuggish person who has no business in politics.
This is the picture she put up when she first ran a couple of terms ago. I remember thinking, when I first saw it, how can such a pretty young lady spread such ugly lies about my pal Paul Moreno?, who was at the time the Dean of the Texas House of Representatives.
I was not the only one fooled by the picture, which was not a current one, but one taken when she was much younger. Rather like the obituary pictures put up by some people showing a 25 year old instead of the 85 year old who has just died.
It was the lie that was brutal. She claimed that Paul had willfully missed an important meeting of the Legislature which negatively impacted the Tigua Tribe of El Paso. She had been made aware that at the time, Paul was on the point of death in a local hospital. His helper had slipped while helping Paul out of his car and onto the wheelchair. As a result, Paul was impaled on the chair and suffered an infection which nearly killed him.Although made aware of the truth, Marquez neither corrected nor retracted her radio ads.
She also trumpeted the fact that she had a Master's Degree in Theology from the University of Notre Dame. However, a check showed that she had only completed the course work toward such a degree. She had neither taken the easy road to completing it by opting for an oral exam, and clearly did not bother to write a thesis, as a scholar would have done. At the time, the degree had not been conferred. It's easy to lie, but hard to admit that you've done so.
And it's a big deal to lie about having had, at the time, a master's degree, and a really big deal to have lied about having a degree in theology. Rather like the poor veterans who claim to have seen battle when they have not. It's called false glory.
Her embrace of just about every initiative Gov. Perry has put forth, including the misnamed "tort reform" that closes the courthouse doors to ordinary people, shows how far to the right she truly is. Given the massive amount of money the far right has spent to keep her in office gives the lie to her self serving "allegiance" to democratic values.
The second person who has no business holding public office is Justice! of the Peace Lupe Almonte. The narrative below shows a remarkable degree of public corruption of a sitting judicial officer, even though she is not a lawyer. People are found guilty without getting anything resembling a trial and without having entered a plea of guilty.
And I speak from personal experience.
The Big Trial
It went something like this:
Prosecutor: how do you plead?
My Daughter: (well coached) Not guilty.
Me: Judge, I plead not guilty to the charge of criminal negligence, and I request that my case be tried separately from that of my daughter. I have seen in excess of twenty parents found guilty of a similar charge, but they never entered a plea. Only their offspring did.
Yet all parents and offspring were fined $500 each, suspended for a period of 90 days, and told to return on May 5 to pay their courts costs, which I understand to be a considerable sum of money. And clearly these are low income people, many of them receiving assistance from various state agencies, judging from what I have heard.
Judge: They of course pled guilty, all of them. (Bailiff, who does not like the judge, and in fact is running for her office, rolls his eyes and sighs audibly). You have something to add?
Bailiff: No ma'am, I was just sighing, I'm tired and my feet are bothering me some. (It was almost 5, and we had all been there since one, except the judge, who didn't bother to show until 2:30).
Judge: Mr. Ochoa, they all pled guilty,
Me: As your honor wishes. May we proceed?
Prosecutor: I call Mr. X (he is properly identified as the school administrator and representative). Mr. X, do Ms. Ochoa's attendance record show that she has five unexcused absences over those permitted by law and has therefore lost her credits for the semester as well as being a truant?
Me: Your honor, would you please instruct counsel not to ask compound questions, the same being several questions cleverly disguised as one? I don't know about Mr. X or counsel opposite, but I am getting on in age and am easily confused.
Judge: (Shoots me a world class glare) Repeat your question.
Prosecutor: Mr. X., does Ms. Ochoa have five unexcused absences?
Mr. X: (Glancing at some attendance sheets) Yes, she does.
Judge: Counsel, do you wish to enter the attendance records into evidence?
Prosecutor: No, your honor, and we pass the witness.
Me: Mr X, are you the custodian of these records?
Mr.X: No, I am not. The attendance clerk is. I do work with her closely, though.
Me: And based on that, I am going to assume that you do not have personal knowledge whether these absences are in fact absences?
Mr. X: That is right, I have no personal knowledge.
Me: So, in effect, these absences may in fact be incorrect entries made by the attendance clerk based on what a teacher may or may not have told her?
Mr.X: Yes sir. I cannot deny that mistakes are sometimes made. And I am not at all sure about at least three of these five entries. These involve entries for absences from track, and the track coach has caused us some difficulties with his records, so I really cannot vouch for at least three of the absences.
Me: If your honor please, in the present posture of the case, there is no way the state can proceed to prove the existence of the alleged offenses beyond a reasonable doubt. The attendance records cannot be entered into evidence, there is no out of court affidavit or in court proof that they are business records properly kept in the course of said business, nor is there proof that the offenses actually occurred. In fact, the proof by Mr. X., a good man and true to his oath, casts substantial doubt on at least three of said offenses and they are clearly fatally flawed. Given that all five are essential to conviction, and that the State cannot meet her burden beyond all reasonable doubt, I move that all charges against my daughter and myself be immediately dismissed, and as jeopardy has attached, that such dismissal be with prejudice to any attempt at refiling the same. (Long silence) And I further move that the State join me in my motion in the interests of justice.
Prosecutor: Judge, I see no alternative, and I unfortunately am compelled to join in Mr. Ochoa's motion.
Judge: This case is dismissed.
Me: Thank you, your honor, thank you, counsel. Vamonos, niña.
Judge: M'hijita, why did you play hooky from so many classes?
Daughter, in a valiant attempt to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory: "Judge, I won't lie to you" -
Me: Excuse me, daughter, excuse me, your honor, the law describes my standing in these proceedings, as regards my daughter, a minor, as her father and next friend. In that capacity, and in open court, I order her in the strongest possible terms not to answer any of your questions. This case has been dismissed, and we need to go catch a bus in this ungodly weather. May we be excused? (Loud titterings from the audience).
Judge: Silence! Order! Call the next case.
It was almost like old times, almost, but not quite. Mostly a pain in the butt watching people be convicted and fined in assembly line fashion. When the bailiff told me that she habitually found people guilty as she did in this case,I suggested that he would be doing a public service if he complained to the Judicial Commission. I do not know if he did so or not.
I do know that people like the above two women have no business feeding at the public trough.
Eddie Holguin has sat on City Council and has fought the good fight for the people. Of course he lost, having had to labor under the leadership of the abysmally weak, naive, uninformed and doofus former Mayor John Cook who sold the city to the far right moneyed interests for not even a clutch of glass beads. But he kept his honesty intact and never lost sight of those whose interests he was supposed to serve - the people of his district, and in a larger sense, the people of El Paso. He did so faithfully, honestly and well.
Holguin was wise not to participate in the recent debate between Veronica Escobar and Aliana Apodaca, moderated by that vindictive little man, David Crowder, who for years served the ugly interests of the El Paso Slimes as a reporter. Lord knows what the League of Women Voters were up to by naming him moderator. Fie, ladies.
When County Judge Veronica Escobar recently tried to impose her will on the voters by placing her puppet Tania Chozet on the El Paso City Council, they didn't buy it. Given her performance in a debate with Aliania Apodaca, one hopes the voters will reject her efforts for relection this time around.
Escobar valiantly attacked her opponent for having failed in her efforts to help women dispossessed of their jobs. In true shallow Escobar fashion, her ignorance shone through as a beacon, particularly when Aliana Apodaca admitted that her efforts were preordained to fail. The El Paso Community College also failed to integrate into the job market non-English speaking women, many above forty years of age with no known skills of use to a technical workforce. Indeed, who has the answer to this social and gender based tragedy?
But Apodaca struck gold when Escobar admitted she had not returned heavy money contributed by jailed felons caught up in the corruption scandals. Apodaca gently reminded Escoibar that the contributions dated back to 2006 and had not yet been returned.
Escobar agreed that yes, it went all the way back to 2006.
In a show of chutzpah that would embarrass an ordinary mortal, Escobar thanked Apodaca for reminding her that the money should be returned. Oy!!
2006? More Oy!!!
Eddie Holguin would surely be a much needed breath of honesty and fresh air at the county level. Beyond question, he deserves to be our next County Judge.
Located on the 12th floor of the El Paso County Building, across the street from the old Federal Courthouse, the El Paso County Law Library no longer houses an eloquence of lawyers as the majority of its patrons - and not only because legal scholarship is fast fading, along with oratory, among practicioners - but because of draconian increases in filing fees, more and more people seek to solve their legal problems alone.
These days, appproximately 50% of Law Library patrons, including a number of soldiers, are women and men caught up in family law and other problems who cannot afford filing fees, let alone a lawyer. The most that the dedicated librarians can do is to steer the people to the relevant books and legal forms.
It's sometimes heartbreaking to see.
As it happens, I visit the library with some frequency, given my participation in a lawsuit against present and former city council members. And believe it or not, we have done a bit of good.
Some weeks back, under the leadership of Mayor Leeser, City Council rescinded a "sweetheart" contract designed to benefit some of City Manager Joyce Wilson's pals. We had pointed out in our lawsuit that the conduct under this contract was highly suspect and perhaps the result of a conspiracy to fleece the people.
Good on the Mayor and Council.
The Law Library has now become a necessity not only for lawyers but for the public generally. By its nature, it cannot be self supporting, and the County Commissioners surely need to understand that any efforts to limit its function and/or functionality would be counterproductive, foolish and embarrassingly ill considered.
In the short and long run both, such efforts would result in hurting people in their struggle to solve their legal problems at a time when what they need is assistance, and not a shutting of the doors to much needed information.
Think twice, politicians.
The Real Face of the Recently Concluded Winter Games of the Olympics In Sochi, Russia, Courtesy of Pres. Putin's "Cossacks"
Writhing on the ground is a member of the "Pussy Riot" punk band after a lashing by Putin's goons - all for the crime of demonstrating for human rights at the sacred venue of the winter olympiad.
Along with her sisters, she has been jailed and now all face up to four years in prison, so I'm told, for their gestures of "disrespect" which, in reality, are but speaking the truth to power.
I am of a generation where decent men were brought up never to raise a hand against a woman in anger. Indeed, I am still given to opening doors for them, which, perhaps understandably, sometimes agrieves them.
Nonetheless, this level of barbarity is not only to be condemned, but the bravery of the women is to be celebrated worldwide. Surely, what is obscene about all this is the picture of "men" standing around a woman they have abused and hurt. By no stretch of a prudish imagination is it the name of the group.
In support of their sisters across the pond, the gals of the local roller derby club could do worse than to call themselves the El Paso Pussy Rioters, with a picture of the woman in the image displayed proudly on their uniforms.
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The lovely "Justicia & Libertad" banner is used by courtesy of my brother over at XicanoPwr.com, and the "Brown and Proud" graphic comes from my other bro over at The Unapologetic Mexican.org
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