Archive | October, 2014

Cold Ground Was My Bed: The Blues and Social Justice

A powerful torrent of “justice blues,” as deep and wide as the Mississippi itself, flows in an unbroken stream from the Depression-era blues of Bessie Smith and Skip James all the way to the 21st century blues of Otis Taylor and Robert Cray.

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Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out

In “Hard Times Killing Floor Blues,” Skip James sings for the multitudes forced out of their homes and jobs — locked out of heaven itself and trapped on the killing floor of poverty.

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Jack London’s Iron Heel — from Oakland to Ankara

The “Citizen’s United” case signaled the collusion of government and business. The dominance of large corporations, the militarization of the police, and governmental surveillance of ordinary people are chilling harbingers of fascism. This is why The Iron Heel remains relevant today and resonates with people around the world.

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Jack London’s Vision of Love and Revolution

“Civilizations have exposited themselves in terms of power,” wrote Jack London. “No civilization has yet exposited itself in terms of love-of-man.” He called for a world built on “love and service and brotherhood,” all of which inspired his great-granddaughter and her friends and comrades in the Iron Heel Theater Collective.

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WRAP Fights to Protect the Right to Rest—and Exist

Today, homeless people are being targeted by attempts to literally banish their presence. But they weren’t the first targets of intolerance, and they won’t be the last. That realization makes it all the more crucial that we prevent political officials from ever again banishing or criminalizing any other unprotected minority, anywhere.

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Berkeley Forum Warns of Deadly Misuse of Tasers

Speakers at the forum held in Berkeley on police use of tasers expressed concern about the terms “excited delirium” and “sudden in-custody death syndrome,” which Jeremy Miller described as “invented medical conditions” still used to describe deaths of people in police custody which Miller estimated at approximately 1,000.

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U.S. Prisoners Undergo Accelerated Aging While Jailed

by Bill Berkowitz f you are an aging prisoner in the United States, 50 is the new 65. This phenomenon is called “accelerated aging” and according to the Urban Institute’s KiDeuk Kim and Bryce Peterson, “the physiological age of some older prisoners is up to 15 years greater than their chronological age.” This is in […]

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Santa Cruz Faith Groups Come Together to Shelter the Homeless — and Build a Community

There is a serious lack of housing in Santa Cruz and a pressing need for shelter to provide safe, restful, overnight spaces for our 3,500 people experiencing homelessness. While the civic, business and governmental response has been virtually nonexistent, local faith communities are stepping up to meet the challenge.

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Why So Many Are Trapped in the Cycle of Poverty

People with low incomes are fairly likely to overdraw their bank account. The banks have learned to ruthlessly make a massive profit off this fact, and in the process, have ruined the lives of poor and disabled people. This cycle of economic need and mounting debt has jeopardized many people.

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Writing for the Street Spirit: My 17 Year Journey

Writing for Street Spirit has awakened in me a sense of responsibility toward others. Street Spirit is a way for people silenced by big money and big media to have a voice.

Animal Friends: A Saving Grace for Homeless People

“I wrapped her in my jacket and promised I’d never let anybody hurt her again. And that’s my promise to her for the rest of her life. In my mind she’s a little angel that saved me as much as I saved her.”

A Testament to Street Spirit’s Justice Journalism

The game was rigged against the poor, but I will always relish the fact that Street Spirit took on the Oakland mayor and city council for their perverse assault on homeless recyclers. For me, that was hallowed ground. I will never regret the fact that we did not surrender that ground.

Tragic Death of Oakland Tenant Mary Jesus

Being evicted felt like the end of her life. As a disabled woman, she saw nothing ahead but a destitute life on the streets. She told a friend, “If I’m evicted tomorrow, I have no choice but to kill myself. I have no resources, no savings, no money, and nowhere to go.”

They Left Him to Die Like a Tramp on the Street

Life is sacred. It is not just an economic statistic when someone suffers and dies on the streets of our nation. It is some mother’s son, or daughter. It is a human being made in the image of God. It is a desecration of the sacred when that life is torn down.

Joy in the Midst of Sorrow in Santa Maria Orphanage

This amazing priest not only housed 300 orphaned children from the streets of Mexico City, but he also took care of 20 homeless elders in his own house and started a home for children dying of AIDS. Father Norman also ran a soup kitchen that fed many people in the village.