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A New Wrinkle on the Chargers Stadium Story: Summer Olympics in LA?

By Doug Porter

The city of Boston, Massachusetts bailed on its grand plans for hosting the 2024 Olympics yesterday and Los Angeles immediately became the next contender.

This development could be a game changer when it comes to the NFL’s thought processes on the future of the San Diego Chargers franchise.  An Olympic bid would provide additional impetus towards getting another venue built in LA.

The United State Olympic Committee has until September to figure out an alternative location. The chatter in the press is that the best option remaining is Los Angeles, host to the 1932 and 1984 games. LA’s proposed a bid centered on several clusters of venues including Exposition Park, Downtown, one along the LA River, the Westside, Long Beach, and –ta! da! –Carson.   [Read more…]

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Pope Francis: “We’ve Turned the Earth into a Pile of Filth”

By John Lawrence

Add Pope Francis to the world’s leaders who are calling for immediate action to combat climate change. In the Pope’s own words the earth has become a pezzo di merda, a piece of you know what. He has also described unbridled capitalism as the “dung of the devil.” Popes are not often given to scatological imagery to describe the predominant American economic system.

However, the Pope’s words are very important because he wields enormous moral authority. Would that the leading moral authorities from the world’s other major religions had the gumption to stand up and add their voices in the fight against climate change.

The Pope blames human greed for exploitation of the environment and an economic system that is geared to profit making rather than to rational development of natural resources which would benefit all mankind rather than just those at the top. The Pope’s 184 page encyclical is a radical statement: a condemnation of business as usual and a call for a restructuring on political and economic priorities.   [Read more…]

Karnes County Residential Center (via The Geo Group)

Whistleblower Exposes Torture and Child Abuse at For-Profit Prison

By Sarah Lazare / Common Dreams

A social worker formerly employed at a for-profit family immigrant detention center in Texas blew the whistle this week on the prison’s inhumane conditions—from solitary confinement to medical neglect—that she said amount to child abuse and torture.

The Karnes County Residential Center is operated by GEO Group—the second largest private prison company in the country that has faced numerous accusations of atrocities and civil rights violations. It is also the site of recent—and repeated—hunger strikes led by mothers incarcerated with their children, in protest of their conditions, detentions, and in many cases, their looming deportations.   [Read more…]

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How America Is Failing Its Schools

America’s schools are not failing; America is failing its schools

By Salvatore Babones / Inequality.org

The 1983 blue-ribbon panel report A Nation At Risk exposed the dire state of America’s schools. The report was commissioned by Secretary of Education Terrel Bell to address “the widespread public perception that something is seriously remiss in our educational system.”

The commission included 12 administrators, 1 businessperson, 1 chemist, 1 physicist, 1 politician, 1 conservative activist, 1 teacher — and not a single expert on America’s educational system.

The report concluded that “declines in educational performance are in large part the result of disturbing inadequacies in the way the educational process itself is often conducted.” It advocated an expansion of standardized testing to ensure better performance.   [Read more…]

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Lies & More Lies: Planned Parenthood as the New ACORN

By Doug Porter

The Republicans appear to have settled on their wedge issue for 2016. You know, the thing that drives fear and/or disgust in a certain class of voters so they’ll ignore all those pesky economic policies they’re likely to get screwed by.

In 2008 a loosely organized entity named ACORN fit the bill. Manufactured imagery of  brown people doing something wrong was perfect for an election where the leading candidate was a person of color. Most people still don’t realize the charges brought against the community organizing group turned out to have been false.

The Donald has been busy co-opting the GOP’s immigration issues and Gays have kicking ass in the courts (both legal and popular opinion). Black people have been fighting back lately and there just aren’t enough Muslims to go around. And besides, the lone wolf mostly male libertarians constituting the party’s future are scared to death of female empowerment.   [Read more…]

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The Party of Death is Dying

By Bob Dorn  

For years now the Republican Party has been the party of death. Now it may itself be dying. More about that later. For now, some numbers.

In 2014, 1,100 of 1359 executions performed by the states were the work of “Republican-dominated states,” according to Republicanviews.org on Oct. 26 of that year. Just more than 508 of those executions were in Texas, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which did the report.

Last May, the Quinnipiac poll taken on attitudes toward the war in Iraq, asked the question, “Do you think going to war with Iraq in 2003 was the right thing to do or the wrong thing?” Overall, 59% of Americans responded that it was wrong and 32% said it was right. Among the Republicans those numbers were more than reversed; 62% of them said it was right to go there and kill, while only 28% said it was wrong.   [Read more…]

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Summer Chronicles #6: Lost in the Woods

By Jim Miller

Every year I make an effort to find my way to the deep woods. Living in California, we are lucky to have access to some of the world’s precious dwindling areas of real wilderness, including the last vestiges of old growth redwoods.

There, if you are intrepid enough to get out of your car and go a few miles past the first markers, you can still lose yourself in the ancient forest. Take a difficult trail and, after a while, you just might find yourself alone with the tall trees, banana slugs, birdsong, and bear scat.

From a vista you might spy a lush green ocean of ferns and fallen logs bathed in ethereal light filtered through the dense canopy overhead. Inside the husk of a giant downed by lightening or flood, you discover a new universe of fungus, flowers, and thick moss whispering to you that there really is no death.   [Read more…]

Pride in the Rain

Pride and a Whole Lot of Rain

By Ernie McCray

I will forever remember “The San Diego Pride Parade of 2015,” not just because of it’s history, but for the rain. And I’m talking some serious rain. I mean Mother Nature just flat out let it all hang out.

And there I was, along with hundreds of other waterlogged folks in every kind of colorful regalia known to man, standing and walking and practically treading in that downfall for a good three hours or so. Soaked to the skin and bones!

When my group got the go ahead to march in the puddles and streams and through a “mini-lake” just around the corner, a man said over a microphone “It’s raining on our parade and we’re loving it.”   [Read more…]

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Looking Back at the Week: July 19-25

By Brent E. Beltrán

This week’s edition of Looking Back at the Week features articles, commentaries, columns, toons and other work by San Diego Free Press regulars, irregulars, columnists, at-large contributors, and sourced writers on: ALEC, ALEC and some more ALEC, and then a bit more ALEC, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out ALEC, costly crappy roads, getting lost in SD, Junco’s art show, the mayor welcoming his ALEC buddies, 1915, giving Gitmo back, did I mention ALEC?, and lots of other grassroots news & progressive views.

If you didn’t notice, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and their extreme right wing, anti-worker agenda were in town this past week so we kicked up the coverage a bit.   [Read more…]

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ALEC Confidential: Tales from Inside the San Diego Meeting

By Bill Raden / Capital & Main

“The biggest scam of the last 100 years is global warming!” thundered Stephen Moore to ALEC’s plenary breakfast club this morning. “It’s no surprise that when you give these professors $10 billion, they’re going to find a problem.”  Moore then singled out North Dakota for its regulatory-free attitudes toward the fracking industry: “I just have one message for you — drill, baby, drill!”

The annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council began wrapping up business in San Diego Friday on this defiant note from Moore, a former Wall Street Journal writer. This newly hired Heritage Foundation economist is an apostle of completely eliminating state income taxes  and has been in a running feud with liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, over Moore’s casual regard for accurate reporting.   [Read more…]

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San Diego Gardening: How to Ditch the Lawn

By Connie Beck

You probably realize by now that the most water-wasting thing in your landscape is your lawn. So how to get rid of the existing lawn so you can plant a beautiful new drought tolerant landscape this fall…

If it is a cool season type grass (fescue, bluegrass and ryegrass types) then your removal is easy. You can quit watering and cover it with 6” of mulch after mowing it to the ground. Or you can mow it to the ground and dump 3” of compost on it and then turn it over, using a spading fork or a rototiller. If you have ANY bermudagrass or St. Augustine this won’t work. You will have to work on those areas in one of the following ways.   [Read more…]

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Average Motorist’s Annual Cost for San Diego’s Crappy Roads: $843

By Doug Porter

I can just hear the boosterism now: “We’re better than San Jose, Ole!”

Fifty one per cent of San Diego’s roads are considered to be in poor condition, according to a study released by TRIP, a national transportation research group.  The region has the eighth-highest rate of lousy roads nationally among large urban areas with more than a half million residents.

California cities dominated the study, taking 5 of the bottom 10 rankings. Coming in at number 5 was San Jose, with Concord, Los Angeles and San Francisco/Oakland topping the list.   [Read more…]

female writers

Diversity and Parity in Theatre: Notes from the Dramatists Guild Conference in San Diego

Licensing, royalties, and writing were the main topics when the National Dramatists Guild (DG) convened at Torrey Pines. The Dramatist Guild is a community of playwrights, composers and lyricists dedicated to protecting, informing and promoting the interests of dramatists everywhere.

Hundreds of people came from different parts of the country and even the world this past weekend to passionately discuss how when, where and why they are guided by the pen. The conference is held every two years in a different city.

There were many known names, those who have and are still writing what everybody is talking about (ahem Frozen…Wicked)   [Read more…]

Ryeish Green School Library

The Calamity of the Disappearing School Libraries

Debra Kachel / The Conversation

From coast to coast, elementary and high school libraries are being neglected, defunded, repurposed, abandoned and closed.

The kindest thing that can be said about this is that it’s curious; the more accurate explanation is that it’s just wrong and very foolish.

A 2011 survey conducted with my graduate students of 25 separate statewide studies shows that students who attend schools with libraries that are staffed by certified librarians score better on reading and writing tests than students in schools without library services. And it is lower-income students who benefit the most.   [Read more…]

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ALEC Gets a Raucous Reception in San Diego

This is California. We fight for workers’ rights. We fight for affordable healthcare”  
-Labor Leader Mickey Kasparian

By Doug Porter

The American Legislative Exchange Council’s 2015 annual meeting in San Diego drew more protesters than it did delegates. And (for few moments, anyway) the issue of what ALEC actually does to took precedence over the appearances of GOP aspirants to the presidency.

A united front of labor and activist organizations staged a rally in the Embarcadero Park North, located behind the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel, where legislators and lobbyists were gathered.

Buses came from Los Angeles. Things were well organized. There was plenty of food and water to be had. There was also plenty of intense sunshine, symbolizing in a way, the purpose of the protest: to make the public aware that ALEC is not the virtuous organization it claims to be.

Today we’ll take a look around at some coverage of the protest. And there are plenty of pictures….   [Read more…]

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It’s Time to Give “Gitmo” Back to the Cubans

By Frank Gormlie

It’s time that the U.S. give “Gitmo” – or the Guantanamo Bay prison – back to the Cubans.

It’s time to end a shameful period of our history and close down the military prison on the coastal edge of another sovereign country. It’s time that we hand Guantanamo Bay in Cuba – which we’ve held for over a hundred years – since 1903 – back to its rightful owners.

Today the population at Guantanamo is 116, a definite drop from the 242 detainees who were imprisoned when President Obama first took office. It still costs a reported $2.7 million per prisoner to house a Gitmo detainee. And over the last 13 years, the bill to keep open the place that Amnesty International called the “Gulag of our times”has been $4.7 billion.

There is no longer any reason to retain this chamber of horrors that tortured and abused people in our name, and which begot a human rights disaster.   [Read more…]

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SDFP Cartoonist Junco Canché to Have First Solo Exhibit of Work

Artesano: The Political Cartoons of Junco Canché to be held Saturday in Barrio Logan

By Brent E. Beltrán

San Diego Free Press is always looking for contributors. Especially voices from outside the mainstream dominant culture. Some contribute one or two pieces. While others stick around for longer.

One such contributor brought fully into the Freep fold is Joaquin Junco, Jr. aka Junco Canché. Since May 19, 2014 he has contributed sixty editorial cartoons under the Junco’s Jabs moniker. His toons have taken jabs at a variety of local, national and international politicians, celebrities and evil-doers.

For the first time in his young life Junco will have a solo exhibition of his work. The exhibition takes place this Saturday, July 25 at Border X Brewing in Barrio Logan.   [Read more…]

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How San Diego Is a Petri Dish for the ALEC Agenda

By Brendan Fischer / Center for Media and Democracy

This week, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) descends on San Diego, California for its annual meeting of lobbyists and legislators.

In many ways, San Diego is an appropriate setting for ALEC’s conference. Beyond the walls of the Manchester Grand Hyatt, where ALEC members convene under heavy security and behind closed doors, the city known as “America’s Finest” has been a major battleground in the corporate-backed resistance to local control over paid sick days and the minimum wage.

It was at ACCE’s last meeting, held in Washington D.C. in December, where an ALEC task force director claimed that “the biggest threat comes from the local level” when it comes to grassroots efforts to raise the wage and enact paid sick days, and warned that “we are seeing a number of localities that have increased their minimum wage.”

San Diego is one of them.   [Read more…]

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The Complicated World of Having Your Boss Decide What Kind of Birth Control You Can Use

By Joan McCarter / Daily Kos

Too bad Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy decided to wait until this session to not be insane about Obamacare. Not only did their Hobby Lobby decision make it okay for bosses to deny their employees health insurance plans that cover birth control (because that has everything to do with your job), they opened up the floodgates for all sorts of “religious freedom” claims in which people declare they won’t do something that their job requires them to do and they think is icky because God. But back to the birth control part, the Kaiser Family Foundation has a helpful explainer of the newly complicated world of trying to plan your family with health insurance.   [Read more…]

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Confronting ALEC’s ‘Everybody Does It’ Defense

By Doug Porter

Mike Huckabee, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz. How can you lose?

If the spinmeisters at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) hoped media coverage would focus on the three GOP presidential candidates genuflecting before their annual gathering of corporate lobbyists and state legislators this week in San Diego, they may be proved wrong.

A barrage of press releases and public statements from a wide spectrum of public interest organizations combined with the growing certainty that San Diegans would actually show up in large numbers to protest the closed-door right wing strategy meeting has begun to shift coverage away from the celebrity angle to questions about just what might be going on inside the Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel.

Although there will always be plenty of stenographers willing to be dazzled by celebrity, a slow but steady drumbeat of dissent aimed at ALEC’s real agenda has forced that group’s defenders to go to Plan B, also known as ‘everybody does it’.   [Read more…]

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Video Essay: Off-Site Events Draw Local Participation in San Diego Comic-Con 2015

Although I can’t call myself an avid comic book fan, I was glad to have the opportunity to walk around the convention and talk to some local participants at Comic-Con this year. It was exciting to see local filmmakers Crysstal Hubbard and Machelle Noel get the chance to promote their fan film “Supergirl Unburdened” and sign autographs. A couple of local venues also hosted off-site events such as Chicano-Con and Comic Conga.

These types of events are important because they give the local community a chance to experience the spirit of the convention in their own neighborhood and also give local artists another avenue to exhibit their works.   [Read more…]

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The Swarm

By Jeeni Criscenzo

How about something lighter this week? Any analogies in this story to present day issues are purely coincidental and of your own making.

This morning (Sunday) I was browsing through Facebook, delighted to see that while Saturday’s unusual thunderstorms may have literally dampened the Pride Parade, they certainly did not dampen the spirit of an event makes me very proud to be a San Diegan.

Scrolling down, one of the posts about the rain was from a good friend who lives in El Cajon who wondered about the flying insects that were in her pool and seemed to attack her as soon as she went out the door. I imagined that the rain had caught some passing swarm by surprise and brought the whole mass down into her yard.   [Read more…]

Flashing money

Hot Topics at ALEC’s 2015 Meeting in San Diego

By Brendan Fischer / PR Watch

This week, the American Legislative Exchange Council, or “ALEC,” will bring together hundreds of corporate lobbyists with state and local politicians at a posh hotel in San Diego for the group’s annual meeting.

ALEC alum Scott Walker, who has signed over 20 ALEC bills into law, will address this month’s meeting, as well as Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz, who participated in ALEC meetings before he joined the U.S. Senate. Community groups are planning on bringing a little transparency to the proceedings, by welcoming the candidates and ALEC participants on July 22.   [Read more…]

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JFK Pledged Cuban Isolation Would End with Soviet Threat

By John Perr/ Daily Kos

After a half-century in mothballs, the Cuban embassy in Washington and the U.S. embassy in Havana reopened on Monday July 20.

But while the restoration of relations is popular with the American people, the usual suspects among the GOP White House hopefuls expressed outrage….

Unfortunately for all of the irredentists and revisionists of recent Cuban-American history, the man who began Washington’s diplomatic isolation and embargo of Havana made clear he would have ended both long ago.   [Read more…]

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A Who’s Who of ALEC’s Corporate Overlords Meeting in San Diego

By Doug Porter

Day One of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s 2015 Annual Meeting actually started Tuesday morning (July 21), the day before most delegates were slated to arrive. The joint ALEC Board of Directors and ‘Private Enterprise Advisory Council’ Meeting will last throughout the day. It is this meeting that will set the agenda for the coming year.

Today we’ll look at the membership of the ‘Advisory Council’ in order to gain insight into the policies and priorities of ALEC in the coming year. Tomorrow, the Center for Media and Democracy’s Brendan Fischer and Mary Bottari will fill-in the blanks with a post entitled Hot Topics at ALEC’s 2015 Meeting in San Diego.

On Wednesday (July 22) the working groups and subcommittees will meet. Larger task forces will gather on Thursday and Friday following policy workshops led by an assortment of right wing policy advocates. There will be no deviation from this agenda; the only questions to be answered are how and when the fill-in-the-blank measures created will be presented to state legislatures.

(The San Diego Free Press has published on-going coverage about ALEC and the plans for a local activist response to their 2015 annual meeting.)   [Read more…]

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How I Learned That Unapologetic Black Anger Can Change the World for the Better

White supremacy has forced black Americans to wear a mask that is used to hide the full range of our emotions.

By Chauncey DeVega / AlterNet

At the Socialism 2015 conference, Martinez Sutton, the brother of Rekia Boyd, a 22-year-old black woman killed by an off duty white Chicago cop who recklessly fired 5 shots into a crowd of people because he was supposedly upset that they were playing loud music, shared his story of anger and pain at a legal system that, as it usually does, twisted justice in order to protect one of its enforcers of death and destruction on the black and brown body, as well as the poor of all colors.

Mr. Sutton told the audience that he and his family will not forgive the cop who killed his sister. He called out how this expectation that black and brown folks should always forgive those who malign and hurt us is an absurdity. Some people on the panel and in the audience cried. Mr. Sutton’s hands shook, and the timbre of his voice changed, as he told us about his funny and smart, and so very much loved sister would not find justice from an illegitimate, and at times incompetent, court system that mistreats black people as a matter of policy.

Jeralynn Blueford, Bridzette Lane, and Dionee Smith-Downs and others also told the attendees their stories of sons and brothers killed by America’s police and legal system, as well as how the State conspired to rob the dead (and their surviving families) of their dignity and freedom.   [Read more…]

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1915: It Was a Very Good Year

By John Lawrence

1915 was a very good year because three giants of twentieth century music were born that year: Frank Sinatra, Billie Holliday and Billy Strayhorn. This year is the hundredth anniversary of their births.

By far the best known is Frank Sinatra, born in Hoboken, NJ to a middle class Italian family. His mother, Dolly, was a real go getter who became a political force in Hoboken. She secured Frank his first real job as a singer with the Hoboken Four, and got her husband hired by the Fire Department. When they told her they didn’t have any openings, she told them, “Make one.” They did.

Frank’s stories of growing up poor were so much BS. The Sinatra family moved into a $13,400. house in Hoboken in the middle of the Depression, an astronomical sum in those days. She had befriended so many people in Hoboken that, when the Democratic machine needed votes, Dolly could deliver them. She also had a thriving business as a midwife and an abortionist. Unfortunately, she died in a plane crash, a plane that Frank had chartered to bring her from Palm Springs to Las Vegas for his opening at Caesar’s Palace.   [Read more…]

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Measure of Deception: CA Initiative Would Gut Retirement Benefits for Millions

By Bill Raden /Capital & Main

When Democratic former San Jose mayor Chuck Reed and Republican ex-San Diego councilmember Carl DeMaio finally unveiled the language for a promised attempt at getting a statewide public pension cutting measure to 2016 voters, the expectation was that Reed II would be a reined-in and more realistically-framed version of Reed I – last year’s failed attempt at undermining the public pension system.

That try for the 2014 ballot was aborted after Attorney General Kamala Harris slapped it with a candid, albeit politically untenable summary that frankly described the proposed constitutional amendment as targeting longstanding legal rights—rights that protect the pensions and retirement health care of the 1.64 million Californians enrolled in the state’s public pension systems.

But even veterans of the state’s public-sector retirement wars were unprepared for the sheer scale of what awaited them this time around. Amid the deceptively simple wording contained in the laudable-sounding “Voter Empowerment Act of 2016,” Reed-DeMaio concealed a hidden trigger that is now being recognized as a wholesale attempt to uproot 60 years of statutory law and a critical foundation of labor relations.    [Read more…]