(no subject)

Nobody seems to use these things anymore.

Its been about a year since I used mine...

Oh well.

So now I live in Sacramento. Its getting cold already. This is not something I have experienced for a long time.
Its perfect roll up in a blanket and drink tea and watch tv or movies weather. Kinda nice:)


(no subject)

Right now I am at the computer lab pretending that I am studying spanish. I have an exam today, and typical me, I am wasting time that I should be studying. Its a pattern I have always practiced, doing really well and then letting it all just go straight to hell at the end.

Life is pretty good. I miss my family though. Its so nice, however, to have consistent sunshine. It rained like hell the other day and I hated it. Being cold has absolutely no appeal to me. For anyone who might be wondering I am not moving back to the NW ever again. Not that more than a couple people will mind...and not that I mind at all either. I cant believe its been almost five years already since I moved. On the other hand it seems like I have been at this university for a million years. I am at the point now that I find no interest in what my professors say really. Its mostly blablablablabla. With a couple exceptions here and there. Even Spanish. Most the time I have no idea what he is saying and have to go home and teach myself the concepts. He is from Uruguay. I am used to speaking with Mexicans.

Ok, I have already run out of things to say. I guess I better start studying.

Letter to the Editor

Editor's note: The Desert Sun publishes letters with diverse - and sometimes controversial - viewpoints. We screen our letters carefully and do not allow "racist" letters to be printed. Immigration is a hot-button, emotional issue, and we make every attempt to eliminate any letter that has a demeaning or condescending tone.
Letters ignore immigrants' plight

It amazes me that The Desert Sun continues to publish letters that are blatantly racist. My suggestion to those people who feel like our country is "being taken over by illegals" is to read some of the literature distributed by Hitler in the 1940s. Sounds familiar.
I would also recommend they talk to immigrants about their experiences. Ask yourself what you would do if your family couldn't eat on the wages available to you. Would you make them live with hunger pains while you were finagling through a never-ending immigration process?

Have you looked at that process? It takes 10 years to complete. Think for a second about how much more difficult this process is now than when most Anglo-Americans' ancestors went through Ellis Island.

Anyone who knows the responsibilities one feels for their family understands that a human being will do anything for their survival. This is a human trait that transcends any bureaucratic process. This is love.

In many ways I feel nothing but disappointment by my fellow Americans' lack of empathy or care about other human beings. I am further disappointed when we act this way and then claim to be such a "Christian" nation.

Laura DiLulo

(no subject)

Its really really really hot outside right now. My mom asked me the other day when we would move back to washington. I told her probably never because it is so cold there, but today I wouldn't mind it. Its 6:22pm, and an egg could be fried in my driveway. Yuck.

I read a small passage that I hadn't read in years today.

My life is going well. I am coming to so some conclusions after spending some time being indecisive.

Well I better clean up before I head up the hill for a going away party.


So I teach this spirituality class for teenagers. I have been doing this for two years now. It is so interesting to hear what they think about topics like God, and love, and the world. I gave them a little quiz tonight and included a question that said 'What does God look like?' Here are some of my anwsers:

- He looks like my neighbor because they always say that they are God.
-A person who loves us a lot and wants us to do the right things in life.
-I think that God looks like how you image him in yoru mind, he looks tan, and tall and honey eyes with curly hair.
-He could look like anyone.
-God looks like a shining spirit guiding me to the right direction.
-A man that has long, brownish hair and a trustworthy person.
-he looks like all the pictures Ive seen of him, but I dont just see him as white.

Also I asked what we can do to promote human rights in the world?
Here are the responses:

-Make men and women equal (!!!*** I dont even talk much about this! how cool is that?! )
-by not buying close (sic) from a sweat shop and stuff so that little kids wont work in those conditions.
-By forgiving others.

Anyway, its interesting. We have talked a lot about social justice this year. Last year we did a big thing on forgiveness and love. They are cool kids. One girl was talking about how she doesnt really think anyone is listening when she prays. She doesnt really know if she believes in God. Her honesty is refreshing. The fact that she doesnt feel like she needs to fake it for me is also refreshing.

Well anyways. I better keep reading for my classes tomorrow. Adios.

(no subject)

I havent written in this thing for a long time. Lots has happened....

I am getting married this summer.
I am totally excited about this.

I am also graduating from college this summer. Yay!!!!

Ok I guess thats all I have to say.

Interesting article

Finding lawyers for death row's forgotten
ABA project seeks to recruit volunteer counsel

Katherine Frey / The Washington Post
Robin Maher
By Susan Levine

Updated: 11:43 p.m. ET Nov. 29, 2004Robin Maher is a traveling saleswoman whose wares are condemned prisoners.


From Boston to Albuquerque, from Denver to New Orleans, she pulls out their pictures and histories and makes her pitch. They have been sentenced for sometimes gruesome crimes, she acknowledges. Many may be guilty as convicted; others have circumstances that could save their lives. A few could be innocent.

Not one has an attorney.

"Every face looking back at you is a human being on death row without a lawyer," she tells audiences. "This is a terrible crisis of counsel."

Maher leads the American Bar Association's Death Penalty Representation Project, and the people to whom she pitches are fellow lawyers. Most work at large, prestigious civil firms, specializing in such fields as antitrust and securities litigation for powerful people and major corporations. She asks them to take on the cases of murderers for what could be years of effort and scant compensation.

In the national debate on capital punishment, much has been made of lawyers who show up in court drunk or sleep through testimony or do such paltry or inept work as to violate their clients' constitutional rights.

But there is another equally daunting issue for indigent inmates with lives on the line: the lack of any lawyer at all. As their cases wend their way through appeals, as state and federal deadlines and hearings come and go and executions near, the Constitution guarantees no right of legal assistance.

The result is a system rooted in crisis. The ABA and other groups estimate that hundreds of inmates are without representation. And with the nation's death-row population nearing a record level and the appeals process still constricted by federal and state laws, soliciting pro bono counsel for them has become increasingly critical and difficult, Maher said.

Even so, the bar project has found lawyers for more than 100 cases since the late 1990s -- not just lawyers who decry the death penalty, but those who back it completely. Maher always has dozens of cases in her office on 15th Street NW. She sends a Virginia file to potential counsel in Detroit. With lawyers in Philadelphia, she talks about prisoners in Tennessee and Texas.

"This is not a good answer to the problem," she said. For now, though, "this is the only answer."

No moral stand
Maher flew to Seattle with high hopes early this year, a full schedule of recruitment meetings set up with law firms.

She stayed on message: The bar association neither supports nor opposes capital punishment. Its interest is ensuring legal counsel.

Over coffee at Preston Gates & Ellis, her first morning stop, Maher described the record that many court-appointed trial attorneys leave behind, sometimes so slim that it fits within a couple of folders. She conceded the complexity of death penalty appellate law and the gravity of what is at stake.

She mentioned, as she often does, her own representation of a young man sitting on death row in the South for a restaurant robbery gone horribly awry. He was 16, reckless and stupid, she said. His murder trial, start to finish, lasted just 1 1/2 days. His attorneys did no investigation; at sentencing, they presented a single witness.

One of the three Preston Gates lawyers listening shuddered.

"We've never, to my knowledge, done a death penalty case here," Susan Jones said. "We're not criminal lawyers."

"Neither was I," Maher stressed.

"I can hear in our executive committee, 'What are the hard-dollar costs?' " Jones said.

"They're all over the place," Maher answered. Still, no case comes cheaply.

As for the most challenging cost:

"There's so much riding on it," Jones began.

Maher understood immediately. "Of course, it's possible," she said, possible that a volunteer lawyer could have to walk a client to execution. "The only thing I can tell you," she continued, "is that you're giving [them] some hope and advocating for them."

When the ABA began its project nearly two decades ago, most state courts or laws afforded little assistance to death row prisoners once their initial appeal was concluded. Few gave them the right, or the public money, for a lawyer.

Congress decided in 1988 that a capital inmate was entitled to representation during a federal appeal, and it created a series of centers staffed with highly specialized defense lawyers to provide for that. Supporters praised their work as essential to the system's integrity, but critics decried them as obstructionists bent on destroying capital punishment from within.

After seven years, opponents successfully terminated funding; most of the centers closed soon after. Simultaneously, Congress passed sweeping changes to the death penalty, collapsing the time period an inmate has to appeal into the federal courts and requiring those judges to defer far more to their state counterparts' rulings on constitutional issues.

Advocates have seen progress since then, but it has been scattershot.

The Mississippi Supreme Court decided in 1998 that it "no longer could sit idly by" and allow a flawed system to continue. From interviewing old witnesses to uncovering new evidence to filing a habeas corpus petition claiming errors in conviction and sentence, "indigent death row inmates are simply not able, on their own, to competently engage in this type of litigation."

Virginia was shamed into legislative action in part by the case of Earl Washington Jr. The mentally retarded farmworker was just a couple of weeks away from execution when a cellmate persuaded a lawyer visiting their prison to intervene. With a New York firm's aid, Washington ultimately was cleared through DNA evidence.

But the devil is as much in the dollars. In Louisiana, where death row has nearly tripled in the past dozen years, legislators passed a right-to-counsel law but came up short on the funds.

"We tell [inmates], 'It's a bakery, take a number,' " said Denise LeBoeuf of the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana. Maher has been scouting for representation for a LeBoeuf case for four years.

"It's a damn serious issue," said U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman of Louisiana, who has urged local lawyers to volunteer on inmates' appeals. "I am a supporter of the death penalty, but I'm a very strong believer in as just and fair and good representation as humanly possible of those who face the ultimate punishment."

Out-of-town resources
Of all states, Alabama is one of Maher's top priorities. It has no resource center, no statewide public defender, no requirement that a death row prisoner have an attorney to the end. At least half of the 140 appellate cases are defended by firms beyond the state's borders.

Jack Schafer, a retired partner at Covington & Burling in the District, worked 14 years on a case in the South. Before it ended in 2002, he and colleagues had expended tens of thousands of hours and the firm paid for countless experts and investigators.

"I tried like hell to find some Alabama lawyer to help us," the soft-spoken Schafer explained. "I had a feeling none . . . wanted to take on the establishment."

In some people's minds, most capital appeals are intentionally dilatory and frivolous. They have fought proposed federal grants to bolster post-conviction defense within states -- money that would go "to anti-death penalty groups for the defense of murderers and terrorists," Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) declared.

His state's attorney general's office disputes that any condemned prisoners there lack lawyers. At least half of its roughly 140 appellate cases are defended by firms from beyond its borders, however.

"If the point is that somehow that's wrong, my point is, so what?" said Clay Crenshaw, the attorney general's chief litigator. As he sees it, the incursion stacks the deck in inmates' favor: Out-of-town lawyers arrive with deep pockets. "The state doesn't have the resources to combat that kind of power on the other side," he said.

Schafer never sensed that advantage. He'd gotten involved in Anthony Keith Johnson's appeal to see how the system worked. His client had been the only suspect of four to be tried for a deadly home burglary. Authorities agreed that he was not the killer but sought his death nonetheless. "All I knew, almost from the outset, was that he hadn't had a fair trial, and that was more important to me than whether he was guilty," he recalled.

Johnson asked Schafer not to attend his lethal injection; the lawyer isn't sure he could have handled it anyway: "I just couldn't bear to watch the guy get killed. Maybe out of guilt for having lost the appeal. Maybe like I let him down."

He still chokes at the memory. He still displays the foot-high statue Johnson carved for him from bars of soap mixed with glue. It is an ivory Jesus, arms outstretched.

An 'admirable' effort
The Seattle trip proved Maher's most successful recruitment, with Preston Gates and two other practices ultimately accepting four cases. Rejection is far more the rule, which is why she pursues any possibility. In passing, she heard about a small firm in Alaska that might be interested. Anchorage? Maher wondered skeptically. A four-lawyer shop willing to foot the time and expense?

Yes, said Feldman & Orlansky.

This April, its partners walked into a Beaumont, Tex., courtroom on behalf of a prisoner named Elroy Chester. They entered his case with the deadline for his last legal challenge just days away. Having denied his request for counsel, the state was more than ready to move to execute him.

"There are moments in life where you have to put your time and your energy in what you believe in," Susan Orlansky said. "If we hadn't taken it, it's not clear to me anybody would have."

The issue: Was Chester mentally retarded? If he was -- and the state, during previous years of incarceration, had classified him as such -- a U.S. Supreme Court decision prohibiting execution of the retarded would save his life. If not, his hope would be gone.

Orlansky and Jeffrey M. Feldman pored over Chester's academic and psychological records for months, searched for his schoolteachers, agonized over the details of his crime. Their barely literate client had gone on a murderous rampage starting in 1997. He received the death penalty for fatally shooting an off-duty firefighter who was trying to protect two nieces from being raped.

"I have never been responsible for someone else's life," Feldman said soberly. "I've lost a lot of sleep over this."

The attorneys argued the case for four days, their presence in the stolid Jefferson County courthouse piquing curiosity. Chester sat impassively beside them in a red prison jumpsuit. At the hearing's conclusion, Judge Charles Carver noted the job they had done.

"It's admirable that you have taken this case on without any hope of being compensated," he said. "You represent the highest, I think, that the legal profession has to offer."

Yet in late July, Carver ruled against them. Chester's death sentence would stand.

(no subject)

The last two weeks have gone by so fast. Oaxaca was so completly interesting. I had a great time, and saw and spoke so much. My spanish improved by leaps and bounds....now to keep it going...

So this trip did nothing but make my head spin on how to arrange my long awaited trip to Chiapas. This time I am going to take Mike with me though. So that means to get it on the platform I am go;ing to have to come up with a way to finance it. That is somewhere around 2600 total. hmmmm....It may be doable though...

Kate!!!Call my house phone!!!

Mexico : Alternative Spring Break

March 06, 2005 - March 13, 2005

The attention of the world was focused on Chiapas when in January 1994, the day that NAFTA went into effect, an uprising lead by indigenous Mexicans brought notice to their precarious living conditions. Join us as we learn about what has motivated the popular movements in Mexico. Examine the recent history of the Chiapas region and hear about challenges facing the struggle for indigenous autonomy. Learn about the direct effects of globalization in the context of NAFTA and the on-going efforts for economic justice and democracy. Dialogue with indigenous peasants who have been working for the right to own the land upon which they live and work, and govern their communities according to indigenous traditions and customs. We will visit with diverse organizations and their representatives in the area: from religious and community leaders, to non-government civic organizations and women's cooperatives, all working for peace and stability in the region. Our delegation will be based in the colonial town of San Cristóbal de Las Casas and will travel to surrounding communities to speak with indigenous and campesino organizational leaders, activists, educators, students, and artisans. Take advantage of this opportunity to meet people involved in grassroots movements and exchange ideas with them while learning more about the unique history and culture of Chiapas.
Program Highlights:

Visit and stay in local communities to learn about indigenous culture and autonomous indigenous governing systems.
Hear about the most recent political developments, ethnic relations and social changes from grassroots perspectives.
Learn about issues of land ownership and repossession.
Discuss the consequences of historical inequality of land distribution, and how constitutional reforms to end communal landholding have affected poor campesinos.
Travel to a highland community to meet and talk with members of a successful women's cooperative.
Learn about indigenous organizations specialized in biodiversity and medicinal value of local plant life. Make a site visit to projects.
Meet with internally displaced people living in temporary encampments.
Participate in a discussion with indigenous representatives to discuss land issues, their struggles, and their culture.
Celebrate the history and the beauty of the people of Chiapas with the other trip participants and new friends in Mexico.
Hear from community and religious leaders who will discuss their visions for peace, stability and justice.
Cost: $750

(no subject)

Well Tommorow I am headed out of the country for a while. I am going to Oaxaca for three weeks. I have been waiting for this all summer....

Kate! My exciting new that I didnt get to tell you yet!!!!!!!!!!!
I am sure you already know...and I am really really happy.
Dont we always do things around the same time? Funny huh?

Ok, hopefully all will go well.


(no subject)

I slept way too long today. I just got up about a half hour ago. It seems like all I am doing is waiting for August 6th to come. That is when I leave for Oaxaca for three weeks. I am totally excited, however, I should not allow myself to piss away the next valuable weeks of my summer vacation in waiting. I had all these goals for the summer...a book list about 6 books long....cleaning out my cupboards, finishing sewing my quilt...ect. I have read about 3 books so far, but non of them are the ones on my list. Hmph. Oh well. Instead I have let the internet syphon off my brain, and have read damn near every website on Oaxaca.

I am not sure how I attract drama queen men into my life. The man who I have previously mentioned as the yadayadayadayada lets talk more about me and my problems...yada yada yada guy is back to annoying me so much. I feel compassion for him, but i have already told him that while i would like to help him in anyway i can, his problems dont really have anything to do with me. Now he is just emailing me up a storm, telling me all about his mental process of getting his shit together. This comes after a storm of emails talking about how i am lucky because I have a good life, while his is shit. SO basically, he acts all crappy and somewhat abusive, and then says "really I am a great person, and want to continue to be friends, forget all that other stuff." If this was the first time, maybe, but I think the guy is a whack job. I suggested therapy and anti depressants, but he doesnt think he needs them...i beg to differ. I dont mean to be uncaring, but I am at a point in my life where I just dont want the drama, unless the good times out weigh the difficult. Otherwise, I just dont think its necessary.

I had a dream that my neighbor knocked on my window to tell me that my recycling was getting out of control... I am such a freak. See, the point is though, I dont burden other people with these issues I have. I am sure my neighbor doesnt really care. Or notice. Needless to say, I realized when I woke up that I missed the recycling truck this morning and now I have to go drop all of it off. This includes placing the bins in my car, and smelling the stink for the next day or two. Yuck. I wish I had remembered to put them out on the curb. But it really cant wait until next week. There is too much of it on my porch, and the neighbors walk by to throw their trash away...oh the complexities.

So otherwise, I think I should try to stay off the internet for the rest of the day. Yes, that would be helpful. Ok until next time...