Anna Daniels

Thumbnail image for Moonstruck!  Watching the Lunar Eclipse in San Diego

Moonstruck! Watching the Lunar Eclipse in San Diego

by Anna Daniels 10.08.2014 City Heights: Up Close & Personal

By Anna Daniels

Did you see the moon earlier this morning? At 3 am, when I rousted myself out of bed, it was already Part Deux of San Diego’s total lunar eclipse –the moon glowed a reddish umber behind the earth’s shadow. It was mysterious and somewhat confusing –the “rabbit” in the moon that was so clearly visible when I went to bed earlier had disappeared.

Holding coffee cups in one hand and binoculars in the other, My Beloved and I sat on the side of the house craning our necks upward. Watching an eclipse from start to finish is the cosmic equivalent of watching paint dry–long moments of nothing seeming to happen, then voila! the moon is occulted. Or it is whole again, a shining coin pulled from night’s pocket.

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Thumbnail image for Librotraficantes: Smuggling Banned Books back into Public Schools and Communities

Librotraficantes: Smuggling Banned Books back into Public Schools and Communities

by Anna Daniels 09.24.2014 Activism

“Arizona banned our history. We decided to make more.”

By Anna Daniels

If you can ban one book, why not ban a whole bunch of them? Back in 2012 the Tucson Arizona public school system embraced the more is better approach when it eliminated the Mexican American Studies Program from the K-12 curriculum.

The LA Times reported that “The Tucson school board voted to end the program after Arizona’s education chief had ruled the district in violation of a controversial state law banning classes designed for a particular ethnic group or that “promote the overthrow of the U.S. government.” The Tuscon school district stood to lose $14 million in state education funds, which no doubt squelched a more robust debate on the topic of intellectual freedom and education.

The grassroots Librotraficante (book trafficker) movement arose as a full-throated denunciation of Arizona Law HB 2281, which banned Mexican American Studies in the state. It didn’t matter to the lawmakers that Mexican American students account for more than 40% of the enrollment in Arizona schools, or that this curriculum was popular, or that it was successful in promoting literacy and critical thought–you know, educating students. It did matter to the people affected by the decision.

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Thumbnail image for Beating the War Drums: Beware the Advice of Mission Creeps Cheney and Kissinger

Beating the War Drums: Beware the Advice of Mission Creeps Cheney and Kissinger

by Anna Daniels 09.10.2014 Activism

Are we getting our war on?

By Anna Daniels

Nothing like starting the morning with the Wall Street Journal headline “Cheney Is Still Right” followed by a New York Times correction to their own article in which Dick Cheney was described as “President.” The media has chosen unprosecuted war criminal Dick Cheney as the warm up act for President Obama’s address to the American people this evening, Wednesday September 10, and it does not bode well.

It is impossible to expect any encouraging news tonight about the US’s continued presence in the political and moral quagmire of Iraq and anticipated involvement in the same in Syria. We elected a president–twice– who promised to a war weary citizenry a withdrawal of the US presence in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Now he is assuring us that we will not be involved up to our collective necks (again) in the complicated geo-politics of the region, only up to maybe our knees or waist.

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Thumbnail image for Video Pick: Which Side Are You On?

Video Pick: Which Side Are You On?

by Anna Daniels 09.01.2014 Activism

Wanted:  A Living Wage

By Anna Daniels

It is useful exercise to remind ourselves that the battle for an increased minimum wage/sick leave benefit in San Diego is not a new one. Peel back the right wing maker versus taker meme and you get Howard Zinn, placing today’s minimum wage struggle firmly in our collective history of bitter class conflict between the rich and the poor and working class.

In 1944, when Franklin Roosevelt was running for his third term, he emphasized the need for an economic bill of rights as a vehicle for addressing the limitations of the political Bill of Rights. This economic bill of rights would have constitutionally guaranteed that workers have a living wage, would not have to work more than a certain number of hours and that the people would be entitled to vacations and healthcare. An economic bill of rights never materialized. Today, here in San Diego, we are experiencing the results of this omission.

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Thumbnail image for Video Pick: More DIY with Hobby Lobby and The Snatchel Project

Video Pick: More DIY with Hobby Lobby and The Snatchel Project

by Anna Daniels 07.12.2014 Activism

By Anna Daniels

The fallout from the supposedly “narrow” Supreme Court decision regarding Hobby Lobby was immediate. Similar cases making their way to the Supreme Court at the same time were returned to the lower courts. One of those cases requests an exemption from providing any form of birth control and it is likely that it will be granted.

A few days after the Hobby Lobby decision, the Court granted a waiver to Wheaton College. The issue was not the provision of birth control–Wheaton, a religiously affiliated institution was exempted. Instead, the men of the Court saw fit to waive their requirement of filling out the federally mandated form to receive the exemption, which Wheaton deemed onerous. Justices Sotomayor, Ginzberg and Hagan and were not amused and wrote a scathing dissent.

It is misleading and a mistake to define the Hobby Lobby decision in terms of religious based restrictions that can be exercised by certain employers over a woman’s access to birth control.

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Thumbnail image for SDFP Turns Two:  Celebration Time!

SDFP Turns Two: Celebration Time!

by Anna Daniels 06.07.2014 Activism

A growing SDFP community continues to write the people’s history

By Anna Daniels

On Sunday June 1, San Diego Free Press editors, contributors and supporters celebrated our second year anniversary. There was much to celebrate. Since our inception on June 4, 2012, we have published over 3,000 articles and provided original content seven day a week through an all volunteer effort. New writers with unique perspectives and interests have joined us in the past year and editor Doug Porter of The Starting Line fame published his 500th article. Our growing readership tells us that we have been able to consistently provide relevant content.

The articles we publish run the gamut of news, analysis, opinion, personal interest stories and the arts. What sets SDFP apart from other media is that these articles are all provided by citizen journalists. These citizen journalists often provide information about communities that are ignored, stereotyped and marginalized. We are essentially writing a people’s history of San Diego in which we are not only observers but becoming agents of change too.

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Thumbnail image for Remembering Maya Angelou

Remembering Maya Angelou

by Anna Daniels 05.31.2014 Activism

By Anna Daniels

SDFP contributor Ernie McCray wrote a moving tribute to Maya Angelou following the news of her death on May 28th. His poem makes reference to her 1969 autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

You said, of a caged bird,
that it “stands on the grave of dreams,”
singing of what’s unknown
but still singing of someday
being free -
and you’ve helped me believe
that we can, …

For many of us, that autobiography was our first introduction to the works of Angelou. It provided a glimpse into the circumstances which would shape her life as an intellectual, civil rights activist and writer.

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Thumbnail image for Why Is CA Senator Ben Hueso Abstaining on Fracking Moratorium Bill?

Why Is CA Senator Ben Hueso Abstaining on Fracking Moratorium Bill?

by Anna Daniels 05.29.2014 Activism

SB1132 still short of passage

By Anna Daniels

California is indisputably faced with extreme drought conditions throughout the state. It is a manifestation of the effects of climate change. If there is a time when our elected representatives are needed to be thoughtful stewards of our water, land and air, it is now. That stewardship is reflected in policies and legislation which will have impacts far beyond the short shelf life of any given politician.

California Senator Ben Hueso, who represents San Diegans in the 40th District, has decided to abstain on voting for Senate Bill 1132 which would impose a moratorium on extreme oil extraction methods in California. This includes hydrofracturing, or fracking, and acid well stimulation. That abstention puts him at odds with a recent poll that reveals that a majority of California voters oppose fracking.

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Thumbnail image for Straight from the Pit of Hell:  Do You Have the Right to Know How Many American Children Die from Gun Violence?

Straight from the Pit of Hell: Do You Have the Right to Know How Many American Children Die from Gun Violence?

by Anna Daniels 05.28.2014 Activism

The SDFP Science Corner because science is now a liberal conspiracy

By Anna Daniels

“As harsh as this sounds – your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights.” Samuel Wurzelbacher (aka Joe the Plumber)

Let’s get right down to it. How many dead kids are we talking about? Doesn’t the public have the right to know how many dead kids are watering the tree of liberty with their blood?

The short answer is that we don’t know and if Congress continues to have its way, we will never know. ProPublica reports that “Since 1996, when a small CDC-funded study [Center for Disease Control] on the risks of owning a firearm ignited opposition from Republicans, the CDC’s budget for research on firearms injuries has shrunk to zero.”

Gun violence data, firearm safety and gun violence prevention are removed from the realm of public health discussions and research because Congress is cowed by the NRA leadership, gun manufacturers and the lobbyists they employ.

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Thumbnail image for Straight from the Pit of Hell: Lethal Injections, the Truth about Turd Blossom and Fukushima’s Cherry Trees

Straight from the Pit of Hell: Lethal Injections, the Truth about Turd Blossom and Fukushima’s Cherry Trees

by Anna Daniels 05.21.2014 Business

The SDFP Science Corner, because science is now a liberal conspiracy

By Anna Daniels

It has been an amazing week in science. The bones of the world’s largest dinosaur were discovered in Argentina, scientists appear poised to turn light into matter and the 12,000 year old skeleton of a young girl found in an under water cave in Mexico offers new information about the evolution of Native Americans.

This week in chemistry: The recent botched execution by lethal injection of an Oklahoman inmate has spurred discussion by citizens and members of the medical and legal professions, as well it should. The use of lethal injection for executions has been grotesque in its results.

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Thumbnail image for Say “No” to Mayor Faulconer’s Library Budget Shell Game

Say “No” to Mayor Faulconer’s Library Budget Shell Game

by Anna Daniels 05.16.2014 Activism

Library materials budget reduced by $500,000 to pay for pilot after-school program

By Anna Daniels

Library supporters across the city breathed a collective sigh of relief when Mayor Jerry Sanders was termed out. Faced with a tanking economy and structural deficits, his top down leadership style coupled with the demand for centralized control and uniformity had a uniquely savage and disproportionate impact on the library department.

Children in low income neighborhoods were left without computer access when the hours were cut; seven neighborhood libraries were threatened with closure; material budgets were slashed and staff was cut to the bone. By 2011 the library budget had been reduced 22.2% from 2007 levels, while the police department had realized a 9.6% increase in funding and fire a 14.4% increase in that same period.

When Bob Filner was elected, his proposed library budget included additional hours of library operation. This was part of his platform of shifting General Fund support back to neighborhoods. It appeared that Sander’s vindictive, out of touch brand of cronyism carried out by capo Kris Michel and spinmeister Gerry Braun had ended. A more cynical explanation provided by a city council member was that the economy was improving and that explained the additional hours.

It is budget time for fiscal year 2015. Filner is gone as well as Sanders. We are now getting a glimpse of the budget priorities and management style of our third strong mayor, Kevin Faulconer.

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Thumbnail image for Straight From the Pit of Hell!  The SDFP Science Corner

Straight From the Pit of Hell! The SDFP Science Corner

by Anna Daniels 05.13.2014 Activism

Because science is now a liberal conspiracy

By Anna Daniels

It has been hard for some of us here at SDFP–ok, hard for me– to shoe horn in a few words on this particular site about the discovery of a new dinosaur, recent revelations about the universe or how jellyfish are becoming our evolutionary overlords and crazy ants are making people crazy in Texas, which is already a crazy enough place. Science, people! But finding the grassroots news or progressive views angle hasn’t been all that easy.

And then a new breed of Republican, as in back to the Dark Ages “new,” dropped science right into our liberal laps. This same breed of Republican who gets elected to public office because he doesn’t believe in government, is now sitting on science and technology committees because he doesn’t believe in science. And yes, most of them are “he.” The fervid religious beliefs and ignorance that have existed at our societal fringe are now firmly ensconced in school curricula, state legislatures and the Congress of the United States.

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Thumbnail image for Video Pick:  The-Dream’s “Black” and Saturday Poem: “The Great Pax Whitie (Peace be Still)” by Nikki Giovanni

Video Pick: The-Dream’s “Black” and Saturday Poem: “The Great Pax Whitie (Peace be Still)” by Nikki Giovanni

by Anna Daniels 05.03.2014 Activism

“The Condemnation of Racism Must Make Itself Manifest Now”

By Anna Daniels

Vigilante rancher welfare queen Cliven Bundy’s recent musings on “Negro” history, the Supreme Court decision on affirmative action, and NBA Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist “etiquette” pointers for his girlfriend are the past week’s dismal trifecta of old white male willful ignorance.

Yes, Meat with Eyes Sean Hannity quickly distanced himself from Bundy’s “maybe slavery was better” ravings. There was an immediate outcry over everything that was in the Sterling tape and I’m not willing to stick my hand into that particular septic tank to fish out an example. The good news being peddled is that as a society we know an old white male racist when we see him and we won’t stand for it.

But before we get all self-congratulatory, the Supreme Court decision upholding Michigan’s affirmative action ban shows how little we are willing to deal with institutional racism, which is quite different than recognizing your garden variety racist.

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Thumbnail image for National Poetry Month:  Ending with a Bang, not a Whimper

National Poetry Month: Ending with a Bang, not a Whimper

by Anna Daniels 04.30.2014 Books & Poetry

“Poetry doesn’t belong to those who write it but to those who need it.”

By Anna Daniels

So, is “April the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.”? T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

or is April when

“the ponds open
like black blossoms,
the moon
swims in every one;
there’s fire
everywhere…”? Mary Oliver, Blossom

And here we are on May’s cusp– “depraved May, dogwood and chestnut, flowering judas”–except when it isn’t because a different poet thinks about May in a completely different way.

Poetry is the Big Bang of language, beginning with a singularity of individual expression that spawns whole universes of thought, emotion and even action. Poetry enables the universe to know itself, express itself in an utterly astounding way by virtue of the human capacity for language.

Fleas are incapable of writing poetry about themselves. We do it for them…because we can.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day:  “When Death Comes” by Mary Oliver

Poem of the Day: “When Death Comes” by Mary Oliver

by Anna Daniels 04.29.2014 Books & Poetry

“I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.”

Introduction by Anna Daniels

SDFP readers submitted more requests for Mary Oliver’s poetry than any other poet. Oliver’s unique form of poetic consciousness blurs the boundaries that separate the human from the natural world. “At its most intense, her poetry aims to peer beneath the constructions of culture and reason that burden us with an alienated consciousness to celebrate the primitive, mystical visions that reveal ‘a mossy darkness – / a dream that would never breathe air / and was hinged to your wildest joy / like a shadow.'”

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day: “Just Another Day” by Sandra María Esteves

Poem of the Day: “Just Another Day” by Sandra María Esteves

by Anna Daniels 04.28.2014 Books & Poetry

Introduction by Anna Daniels

Sandra María Esteves is a madrina–founder– of the Nuyorican poetry movement that began operating out of East Village cafés in the 1970’s. She describes herself as a “Puerto Rican-Dominican-Boriqueña- Quisqueyana-Taino-African-American,” born and raised in the Bronx. Her explorations of identify are as informed by the Civil Rights and liberation movements of minorities and women as by her own personal heritage.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day:  “Ode to a Composting Toilet” by Sharon Olds

Poem of the Day: “Ode to a Composting Toilet” by Sharon Olds

by Anna Daniels 04.23.2014 Books & Poetry

“Poetry is the music of being human.”

By Anna Daniels

Sharon Olds has the ability to write poetry about “unpoetic” life events with a provocative boldness. Her poem The Pope’s Penis immediately comes to mind. The results are nevertheless quite poetic in their use of form and language. She is also known for her versatility. Her poems about familial relationships can sizzle and crackle with rage and anxiety. Olds’ poems about sex are about more than what bodies do, although she describes that. Sex is wrapped in often disjunctive raw emotions. It is that coupling of body and feeling that shocks.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day:  “Quagmire” by Kyle Dargan

Poem of the Day: “Quagmire” by Kyle Dargan

by Anna Daniels 04.22.2014 Books & Poetry

“Biology all makes sense if you live long enough.”

By Anna Daniels

Bill Moyers has long been a champion of poetry. Last year he ran a memorable poetry series on Moyers and Company. It was so memorable that a number of readers sent me the link as a source for poems this month. Kyle Dargan is a young professor of writing and literature at American University. He has three award winning books of poetry under his belt and he has a beautiful reading voice.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day: “Enigmas” by Pablo Neruda

Poem of the Day: “Enigmas” by Pablo Neruda

by Anna Daniels 04.21.2014 Books & Poetry

Translation by Robert Bly

By Anna Daniels

Nobel Prize winning Chilean poet Pablo Neruda is well known for his love poems which have been translated by such luminaries as WS Merwin and Robert Bly, both poets in their own right. Matilde Urrutia, who is the subject of a number of those poems, has been described as his muse of love. Neruda hearkened often to the muse’s call.

Less well known are his keen observations of nature that reflect an inquisitive and informed intellect. His poems about birds in Arte de Pájaros/Art of Birds as well as those about the sea and sea life are as sensual in their language as the love poems.

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Thumbnail image for Gabriel García Márquez in His Own Words

Gabriel García Márquez in His Own Words

by Anna Daniels 04.19.2014 Books & Poetry

By Staff

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

Muchos años después, frente al pelotón de fusilamiento, el coronel Aureliano Buendía había de recorder aquella tarde remota en que su padre lo llevó a conocer el hielo.

This is the unforgettable opening line of Gabriel García Márquez literary masterpiece Cien años de soledadOne Hundred Years of Solitude.

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Thumbnail image for Poems to Saturday by…

Poems to Saturday by…

by Anna Daniels 04.19.2014 Books & Poetry

Poems by John Wester

By Anna Daniels

Back in the early 70’s Julian was home to an enclave of young writers, intellectuals and politicos. John Wester was part of this group of kindred spirits that also included SDFP contributor Jay Powell and Bud Sonka who recently introduced me to John’s poetry. I hope that we will hear more about what they built and thought about up on the mountain during that time.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day:  “Bluebird” by Charles Bukowski

Poem of the Day: “Bluebird” by Charles Bukowski

by Anna Daniels 04.16.2014 Books & Poetry

The poet’s secret pact

By Anna Daniels

Brent Beltrán is the Wednesday editor du jour, so I gave him a heads up yesterday that Bukowski’s poem would be ready to post today. Brent shot back an email with “In honor of Bukowski I’ll get blindingly drunk and bang my head on the keyboard in hopes that a poem appears on my computer screen.” I sense that the man who wrote “Poetry is what happens when nothing else can” would approve of the homage.

Much of Charles Bukowski’s poetry expresses his contempt of hypocrisy, willful stupidity, gratuitous judgments, posturings of superiority and the easy sell-out.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day: “Elegy” by Jon Sands

Poem of the Day: “Elegy” by Jon Sands

by Anna Daniels 04.15.2014 Books & Poetry

Poet as memorist

By Anna Daniels

It’s National Poetry Month and readers have been sending in their requests for poems and poets. Securing publication rights for the poem of the day has been challenging, which is one of the reasons why I am using videos. Many of you have been sending videos links which means I have enjoyed hours and hours of total immersion in all kinds of poems by all kinds of poets. You have introduced me to poets I never knew about or poems by familiar poets that I had never read before. Don’t stop! Thanks to Anna Prouty for suggesting Elegy.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day:  “Piss Factory” by Patti Smith

Poem of the Day: “Piss Factory” by Patti Smith

by Anna Daniels 04.14.2014 Books & Poetry

“I will never faint I refuse to lose, I refuse to fall down”

By Anna Daniels

Patti Smith, the queen of punk and one of the few women who was even able to make a name for herself in the punk scene, is now in her late 60’s, still writing, singing and politically active. Piss Factory was one of her first recordings, released in 1974.

Sixteen and time to pay off
I got this job in a piss factory inspecting pipe
Forty hours thirty-six dollars a week
But it’s a paycheck, Jack.
It’s so hot in here, hot like Sahara
You could faint in the heat…
The rest of the poem here.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day: “They Feed They Lion” by Philip Levine

Poem of the Day: “They Feed They Lion” by Philip Levine

by Anna Daniels 04.11.2014 Books & Poetry

The Poet as Witness

By Anna Daniels
During the 1950’s Philip Levine was working in Detroit auto plants and writing poetry. In an interview at that time in Detroit Magazine he described how he found his compelling subject material. “I saw that the people that I was working with…were voiceless in a way. In terms of the literature of the United States they weren’t being heard. Nobody was speaking for them. And as young people will, you know, I took this foolish vow that I would speak for them and that’s what my life would be. …I just hope that I have the strength to carry it all the way through.”

They Feed They Lion was written in 1968, when Levine returned to Detroit following the race riots of 1967. It is one of his finest poems, reflecting the degree to which he found “the strength to carry it all the way through.” The poem is merciless in its judgements and propelled by the rhythmic insistence of the language itself.

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