New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Inside Peace

February 26, 2015 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Current Events, Robert C. Koehler

Film Festival Highlights Struggles, Possibilities for Prisoners

by Robert C. Koehler

As media ownership converges and technology “unites” us, the concept of national identity grows ever easier to exploit — and therefore, I fear, increasingly, and dangerously, simplistic.

POEfilmThis is the war on terror. This is the war on crime. They march on, despite the magnitude of their failures. They march on . . . because America is tough. America is exceptional.

If our news and mass-entertainment outlets valued complexity and expansion of the national IQ, we wouldn’t go to war. We’d be building our lives on the far side of fear and the far side of cynicism, which is the only place where peace is possible.

It’s not like we aren’t doing that anyway, to a certain extent. But it only becomes news when visionary journalists — peace journalists –declare that it is, which is why, every year for the last seven years now, I have written about and celebrated Chicago’s Peace on Earth Film Festival, which showcases extraordinary films that step beyond the simplistic myth of good vs. evil, us vs. them.

This year the festival is scheduled for March 19-22 at the Chicago Cultural Center; as always, it’s free of charge. (more…)

Up from the Depths

February 09, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Pat LaMarche

A Homeless Veteran Strives to Escape LA’s Skid Row

by Pat LaMarche

{Editor’s Note: NCV Contributor Pat LaMarche is on a journey to explore homelessness and poverty in the U.S. NCV will post updates from her travels…}

We’ve parked the RV we’re using to travel our 5000 miles through the nation’s impoverished communities at my cousin’s place. Frank lives in San Marino, California. Google says Frank’s house is 12.9 miles from Skid Row. Moving back and forth between the two locations, it becomes more and more difficult to believe that’s true.

One thing that is true is that it almost never rains here. Months will go by without a single drop. So why are the streets in San Marino and Skid Row wet? Well, in San Marino they water the lawns. And, if you suspend your 21st century concept of sanitation for a few minutes, you can figure out what’s happening on the streets of the nation’s unofficial homeless capital. (more…)

Who’s Responsible?

February 02, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Pat LaMarche

‘Step Up’ Program Could Lessen Youth Incarceration

by Pat LaMarche

{Editor’s Note: NCV Contributor Pat LaMarche is on a journey to explore homelessness and poverty in the U.S. NCV will post updates from her travels…}

Photo: be careful my loved ones.  do not read my upcoming stories unless you have a rebar reinforced heart and a stupid filter on your brain.According to the Equal Justice Initiative, more than 70,000 children are doing time in either juvenile or adult facilities. During our EPIC Journey, the Babes of Wrath tour of the places poor people live, we stopped into the Coconino Juvenile detention facility in Flagstaff, Arizona.

First of all, I can’t say enough good about the staff that work with the inmates in that county kids’ jail. Everyone — from Bryon Matsuda, the Director of Juvenile Services, to the guards who escorted the kids from their classes to their cells — treated these kids with dignity and respect. Secondly, they’ve got a whole different way of incarcerating children there. They use a model invented by Matsuda — who willingly shares credit with his best friend and his “higher power” — that helps kids to “Step Up” and out of the situation that landed them in jail in the first place. (more…)

Our Moral Obligation to Look South

June 04, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Patrick T. Hiller, Politics

Mexican Civil Society ‘Fed Up’ with the War on Drugs

by Patrick T. Hiller

A new citizen-driven nonviolent reality is emerging in the escalated war on drugs in Mexico. The international perception of present-day Mexico is one of disgust about the escalating violence, thousands of fatalities, mass graves, and militarized approaches to fight the powerful drug cartels. Approximately 40,000 people have lost their lives since Mexican President Felipe Calderón declared the war on drugs in 2006. That is slightly less than the population of Dekalb, Illinois. For a nation with which we are so intrinsically linked, it seems rather significant. In fact, we can speak about a social catastrophe. (more…)

The New Jim Crow

May 18, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Diane Lefer, Politics

Remedying the Harsh Realities of ‘Incarceration Nation’

by Diane Lefer

“Drug prohibition is the biggest failed policy in the history of the United States, second only to slavery.”

Maybe that was not a surprising claim to hear at the Pasadena-Foothills ACLU chapter’s public forum held at Neighborhood Church on May 10th. After all, the chapter was co-sponsor of Michelle Alexander’s appearance in March at the Pasadena Public Library where she reported, as detailed in her book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, that largely as an intentional consequence of the “war on drugs,” there are more African American men under correctional control now than were enslaved in 1850. What was maybe unexpected was to hear the claim from James P. Gray — a white guy from Orange County who is a retired judge, former Navy man, and a former federal prosecutor who put people away after major drug busts.

Gray was a featured speaker, along with Pasadena police chief Phillip Sanchez and public defender Shelan Joseph. Each brought a distinct perspective to address how to respond to the mass incarceration of men (and women) of color. (more…)