Diane Lefer: In Bolivia, as in much of the Andes, people understand that coca leaves are not the same as cocaine. The leaves, which are rich in vitamins and minerals, are used for tea, in candies, in flour for baking cakes, as an anaesthetic, and in beverages.
Diane Lefer: Given our economic woes and high unemployment, the importance of advocacy groups and community organizations becomes very clear. Without support and backup, workers are less likely to demand their rights and risk retaliation at the very time when employers want to cut corners
Diane Lefer: The Uribe administration seemed more interested in catering to foreign investors than in protecting the environment. Under Santos, there are signs of change but this welcome shift is threatened by passage of the FTA.
Diane Lefer: Judge Gray referred to Senator Jim Webb of Virginia who, in looking at the entire criminal justice system in which we hold the world record for the number of people incarcerated, concluded either we are the most evil people in the world or we are doing something seriously wrong.
Diane Lefer: I get it now: When public education works, it’s transformative of the individual and of society. Maybe that’s why it’s under attack.
Diane Lefer: Youth in life without parole cases are often acting under the influence of an adult. In nearly 70 percent of California LWOP cases in which the youth was not acting alone, at least one codefendant was an adult.
Diane Lefer: A comment last week on an LA Times blog argued that “working in a restaurant is not supposed to provide a ‘living wage’. It’s a job that teenagers and students use to get started in life.” Not so according to ROC-LA co-coordinator Cathy Dang who reported that nationwide, people tend to stay in the industry for a lifetime.
Diane Lefer: In South LA, the pressures of gentrification and loss of income now have two and three families sharing apartments that would be a tight squeeze for one. Even so-called “affordable housing,” is beyond the reach of most when you consider that Los Angeles considers a living wage to be $12/hour.
Diane Lefer: The restorative justice model is able to keep the compassionate focus on those who have suffered most from violent crime–the victims, while still addressing the factors that drive crime and recidivism and without denying the humanity of the imprisoned.