Post image for Geo-Poetic Spaces: Mount Woodson (Mountain of Moonlit Rocks)

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

When freeways flood
mind’s embankments
follow the scent of sagebrush
to higher ground

Up here sound is sight
shadows of clouds
thundering …

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Post image for Super Bowl XLIX: Winners and Losers Off the Field

By Doug Porter

 According to reports from around the country not much is going to happen this weekend approaching the importance of a certain Sunday football game. The New England Patriots will face off against the Seattle Seahawks (3:30pm PT) at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. 

An estimated 184 million Americans are expected to watch Super Bowl XLIX, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. That’s about 55 million more humans than voted in the 2012 presidential election. Beside the celebratory nature of the day, it’s an event with a huge economic impact. 

So today I’ll indulge in some mostly off-the-field news items; some serious and some silly, starting with a look at the non-helmet wearing people who make it happen.

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Post image for The Mainstream Meets Occupy

By Robert Borosage / Campaign for America’s Future

The 1 percent continue to capture virtually all of the income growth in the country, while the average incomes of the 99 percent continue to fall.

And Americans know it. In a January Pew poll, 92 percent report that their incomes are sinking or treading water. This Occupy reality increasingly sets the frame for our political debate, with leaders of both parties adopting populist rhetoric, acknowledging that making this economy work for working people – the sinking “middle class” – is the central question of our day.

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Documents obtained by ACLU reveal vast expansion of DEA’s license plate reader database

By Andrea Germanos / Common Dreams

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) operates a massive secret government database that tracks the movement of motorists across the country, documents reveal.

The documents, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through the Freedom of Information Act, cast further light on the scope of government surveillance and raise significant privacy concerns, the organization says.

At issue is the DEA’s national license plate reader program, which began aimed at vehicles in states along the Mexico border, ostensibly to fight drug trafficking.

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Post image for Voice of San Diego’s Intern ‘Irony’ is Just the Latest Insult

By Doug Porter 

Earlier this week Voice of San Diego Editor/CEO Scott Lewis took the Center on Policy Initiatives, a local think tank, to task for a Facebook posting soliciting for unpaid internships to assist in a campaign aimed at increasing minimum wages. 

In the essay and subsequent social media postings, Lewis said he found the idea of volunteer interns working on this particular issue to be ironic. And he seemingly disparaged the notion that the trade-off of job experience and/or college credit as a smokescreen for exploitation.

The old saying about people who live in glass houses comes to mind when viewing the web journal of a high school student who interned with Voice of San Diego. 

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Post image for Andrea Skorepa, The Queen of San Ysidro

The hard work of the Executive Director of Casa Familiar has helped San Ysidro residents for 35 years

By Barbara Zaragoza / South Bay Compass

Andrea Skorepa, Executive Director of the non-profit organization Casa Familiar, has been advocating for local San Ysidrans for the last thirty-five years. She manages a team of thirty-four employees who use holistic approaches to serve the predominantly hispanic community.

They’ve worked on constructing family housing for first time sale and they’ve developed low income housing for the elderly. They’ve focused on programs to get San Ysidrans civically engaged and they’ve developed ways for parents to increase their participation in school governance and their children’s education. In 2008, Casa Familiar even expanded into the arts by creating The Front.

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Post image for Pests:  Can’t We Just Kill Them All?

By Sarah “Steve” Mosko

I escort spiders out of my house, use humane traps to relocate attic rats, and save honey bees from drowning in pools. Yet I’ve been known to hunt with a vengeance a mosquito that’s ruining my sleep, repeatedly buzzing in earshot in search of exposed skin. At such moments, I might push a button, if one existed, to rid the world of mosquitos forever.

However, recent press about disastrous blowback when humans target species deemed a nuisance should give pause to impulses to wipe out even the most bothersome of pests. Two examples. First, the 90% decline in the population of the monarch butterfly in the last two decades from spraying herbicide on genetically modified corn and soy in the Midwest, inadvertently destroying the milkweed on which the monarch caterpillar must feed. And second, the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria from rampant misuse of antibiotics, both to treat viruses in humans and to fatten up livestock that aren’t sick. Consequently, people are at risk of picking up antibiotic-resistant superbugs when they’re hospitalized or even from eating meat.

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Thumbnail image for City Budget Requests, Unpaid Glitter Unicorns and Congressional Follies

City Budget Requests, Unpaid Glitter Unicorns and Congressional Follies

by Doug Porter 01.28.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

There’s lots to report on today, starting with the annual wish lists for the coming fiscal year’s City of San Diego budget. The consensus item among the city council’s lists is finding more money for paying police.

A local non-profit’s Facebook posting seeking unpaid interns (along with paying positions) to participate in building support for increased minimum wages came under fire yesterday. But things aren’t always as they seem; I think there is another agenda at play here.

And the 114th Congress is off to a great start, unless you want to count passing meaningful legislation as part of it’s goals.

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Thumbnail image for Civic San Diego and Community Benefits Agreements: The Need for Project Specific Focus

Civic San Diego and Community Benefits Agreements: The Need for Project Specific Focus

by Jim Bliesner 01.28.2015 Activism

By Jim Bliesner

The United Food and Commercial Workers (Local 135) are picketing the El Super store in the City Heights Retail Village for a decent wage, health benefits and healthy working conditions. El Super just opened the store in late 2014 with a commitment to hire local City Heights residents.

Pickets allege “there are more people from Tijuana employed than from City Heights”. The Coalition for a Better El Super folks are distributing flyers illustrating 341 health code violations in various El Super stores throughout Southern California—things like “flies in the meat department” and “droppings from what appears to be a cat in the warehouse beverage storage cage”.

They both are asking customers to “Boycott El Super”. Mickey Kasparian, the head of UFCW says it is not unusual to find expired products in almost all El Super stores in So California. They have been picketing for three weeks.

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Thumbnail image for How to Hack City Money: Let 16 Year Olds Vote on Budgets, Get Banks to Invest Locally

How to Hack City Money: Let 16 Year Olds Vote on Budgets, Get Banks to Invest Locally

by Source 01.28.2015 Culture

In California and Ohio, two city governments are entrusting their citizens with budgeting and rewarding banks for valuing local communities.

By Shannan Stoll / Yes!

1. Participatory budgeting where any resident age 16 and up can vote
in: Vallejo, Calif.

Just over one year after emerging from bankruptcy, the city of Vallejo, Calif., put its budgeting process into the hands of its residents. From October 2012 to early 2013, Vallejo citizens gathered in senior centers, elementary schools, and other public spaces to decide how to spend more than $3 million of their city’s tax dollars. The process, called participatory budgeting, began in Brazil in 1989 and has since spread to more than 1,500 cities worldwide. In the United States, the process first rooted in neighborhood districts in Chicago and New York City. Vallejo is the first place in the country to implement the process citywide.

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Thumbnail image for Junipero Serra: Canonizing the Colonizers

Junipero Serra: Canonizing the Colonizers

by Source 01.28.2015 Culture

By Eric Loomis / Lawyers, Guns & Money (LGM)

Pope Francis has decided to make Junipero Serra a saint. Serra was a Franciscan in California who founded many of the California missions in the 18th century, effectively making him an agent of colonization as well as a converter of Native Americans to Catholicism.

Building these missions meant forced labor from Native Americans while the conversion process obviously demonstrated a lack of respect for indigenous cultures as well as the compulsion of these conversions. Physical abuse of Native Americans was common, with many recorded beatings and whippings. A lot of indigenous people in California are very upset about the choice to canonize Serra.

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Thumbnail image for Your Home Is Your Prison

Your Home Is Your Prison

by Source 01.28.2015 Activism

How to Lock Down Your Neighborhood, Your Country, and You

By Maya Schenwar / TomDispatch

On January 27th, domestic violence survivor Marissa Alexander will walk out of Florida’s Duval County jail — but she won’t be free.

Alexander, whose case has gained some notoriety, endured three years of jail time and a year of house arrest while fighting off a prison sentence that would have seen her incarcerated for the rest of her life — all for firing a warning shot that injured no one to fend off her abusive husband. Like many black women before her, Alexander was framed as a perpetrator in a clear case of self-defense. In November, as her trial date drew close, Alexander accepted a plea deal that will likely give her credit for time served, requiring her to spend “just” 65 more days in jail. Media coverage of the development suggested that Alexander would soon have her “freedom,” that she would be “coming home.”

Many accounts of the plea deal, however, missed what Alexander will be coming home to: she’ll return to “home detention” — house arrest — for two years.

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Thumbnail image for Oh, The Irony: Local GOP Fights Contribution Limit, Worries About Dark Money

Oh, The Irony: Local GOP Fights Contribution Limit, Worries About Dark Money

by Doug Porter 01.27.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors consideration of re-establishing limits on political parties donations to candidates in races for county office has the local GOP up in arms. 

Caps on partisan candidate support in county contests were lifted several years ago following a federal judge’s ruling striking down a City of San Diego ordinance limiting donations to $1000. The city re-established limits at $10,000 for district only and $20,000 for city-wide races. 

Supervisor Ron Roberts has proposed similar limits. Ron Nehring, formerly Chairman of both the California and San Diego Republican Party organizations took to Flash Report to denounce the proposal, saying  it was an “infringement on the Free Speech rights of political parties.”

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Thumbnail image for Stories from Young Minds Taking the Stage

Stories from Young Minds Taking the Stage

by Ernie McCray 01.27.2015 Arts

By Ernie McCray

The Playwrights Project has been producing plays written by dramatists, under age 19, for 30 years.

It all begins with the California Young Playwrights Contest, a statewide competition.

This year there were 581 entrants, way more than usual, and the stories of eight extremely talented writers made it to the stage – at the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre at the Old Globe, no less.

Four of the plays earned full production and four are performed as staged readings – and I mean “staged,” because the Playwrights Project has no bounds when it comes to creative performances.

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Thumbnail image for Water Main Breaks Cause Major Problems in San Diego and Nationwide

Water Main Breaks Cause Major Problems in San Diego and Nationwide

by John Lawrence 01.27.2015 Environment

By John Lawrence

In the best of all possible worlds water main breaks would not happen. Local government would replace old water mains with new ones on a regular basis. That means that money for this and other infrastructure needs would be allocated systematically and appropriately.

If we had our priorities straight, money for infrastructure would take precedence over money for football stadiums and convention centers. But in San Diego and in fact throughout the US this rational approach is to be seen rarely if at all.

The Romans gave their citizens bread and circuses to keep them in line. Here in fact only circuses seem to be necessary.

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Thumbnail image for Echo Sparks: How Country Music is Supposed to Sound

Echo Sparks: How Country Music is Supposed to Sound

by At Large 01.27.2015 Arts

By Layla Marino

The term “junkyard country” was coined by an artist called Ponyboy in 2013. It seems that re-naming country is necessary nowadays, as it’s been co-opted by the mainstream media to include pabulum such as Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley and, of course, the ubiquitous princess of snooze-pop, Taylor Swift.

Even fans of the already overly evolved country of the 90s such as Billy Ray Cyrus or Garth Brooks would agree that country’s current state of affairs has very little to do with cowboys, spittoons and Americana.

Having grown up in a largely country-hating household, I was not exposed to much of it as a child, and I can distinctly remember my dad saying most of it sounded like “two cats fighting in a burlap sack.” However, some of the old country music isn’t completely unfortunate.

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Thumbnail image for Ed Harris: Don’t Rush the Belmont Park Lease

Ed Harris: Don’t Rush the Belmont Park Lease

by Source 01.26.2015 Government

by Ed Harris /OB Rag

Last year during my State of the District Address I called upon District Two residents to monitor and weigh in on development projects that came forward but were not resolved while I was in office. One such project is the Belmont Park lease extension. For a primer on the issue you can read an article I wrote about it in September of 2014.

While I was the Councilmember for District Two, it was my duty to protect the taxpayer’s money. When it came to the Belmont Park lease extension, I asked City staff two simple questions: How does the lease extension benefit the taxpayer and how much more will the City make if it extends a lease from 25 years to 55 years? I never received satisfactory answers to either question.

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Thumbnail image for University of California Doctors Call One Day Strike

University of California Doctors Call One Day Strike

by Doug Porter 01.26.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter

Physicians at all 10 University of California student health centers will hold a one-day unfair labor practices strike on Tuesday.

They gave notice to the UC system on Friday, following the failure of 41 bargaining sessions over a year’s time to gain an initial contract for The Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD). Over 90% of the student health doctors voted in favor of striking in meetings during December.

The union has filed Unfair Labor Practice charges with the  California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) saying the universities are failing to negotiate in good faith. In one instance cited, the UC administration increased pension contributions without negotiating over the issue.

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Thumbnail image for The State Of the Union: Obama is an Eisenhower Republican

The State Of the Union: Obama is an Eisenhower Republican

by Jim Miller 01.26.2015 Columns

By Jim Miller

Last week, President Obama gave a pretty good speech in which he outlined a series of solid progressive policy proposals along with a few very bad ideas like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

What was most telling about the response to his speech, however, was how glowing the praise was in some quarters for what, in essence, was a fairly pedestrian list of things to do: raise the minimum wage, support collective bargaining, admit that climate change is real and act upon it in some way, tax the rich more than the middle and working classes, recognize basic civil rights, and make community college free for students as a way to expand opportunity, as well as some other modest initiatives.

These proposals, along with Obama’s threat to veto the Keystone Pipeline have encouraged many downtrodden Democrats and progressives as they should, but they hardly represent a significant shift in our politics.

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Thumbnail image for Honoring Martin’s Dream Beyond MLK Day

Honoring Martin’s Dream Beyond MLK Day

by Ernie McCray 01.26.2015 Activism

By Ernie McCray

Martin Luther King. A loving man with the loveliest of dreams. After seeing “Selma,” which told the story of that chapter in the Civil Rights Movement powerfully well, I just had to write something about this dear man.

I didn’t know what I wanted to say until I happened upon a caricature that captured the very essence of how I often see him in my mind’s eye, as I think of him every now and then. How can I not in this world we live in?

The pose he struck in the portrait made me wonder what was going on in his head and based on what my friend, *Rabbi Ben Kamin, recently had to say about him in an examiner.com essay, he could have been thinking about a range of things.

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Thumbnail image for Looking Back at the Week: Jan 18-24

Looking Back at the Week: Jan 18-24

by Brent E. Beltrán 01.25.2015 Looking Back at the Week

Compiled by Brent E. Beltrán

This week’s edition of Looking Back at the Week features articles by San Diego Free Press and OB Rag regulars, irregulars, columnists, and at-large contributors on anti-vaxholes, the Issa Revenue Service, the State of the Union speech, not lovin’ McD’s, needing a fierce urgency of now, King Tiger, some bits from the barrio, a record hot 2014, the 4 Mile March, CommonUnion59 brings anti-hipster folk, and, as usual, a bunch of OB happs.

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Thumbnail image for Bay Area’s CommonUnion59 Captures the Essence of Folk with No Hipster Pretense [Video]

Bay Area’s CommonUnion59 Captures the Essence of Folk with No Hipster Pretense [Video]

by At Large 01.24.2015 Culture

By Layla Marino

Many music fans nowadays are feeling the weight of ironic hipster folk and blues bands pressing down on them like a big, plaid, beardy lumberjack’s boot.

Though it seems folkster bands like Mumford & Sons and Fleet Foxes are sincere in their reverence for the mountain people music of days gone by, there is a definite hint of irony in most of the culture surrounding these folk throwback sounds. Just because one enjoys a full beard and dueling banjos, one should not feel obligated to begin whittling Adirondack chairs and the canning of one’s own pickles.

CommonUnion59, a duo from San Francisco, have found one way to combat these fervent folksters.

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Thumbnail image for The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Mary Barrios, Early Years

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Mary Barrios, Early Years

by Maria E. Garcia 01.24.2015 Education

By Maria E. Garcia

Mrs. Barrios was born in 1925. Her mother was very strict, and young Mary was not allowed to play with the neighborhood children. She says her only outings were to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. Mary’s family was a blended family. Her father and her mother were both widows and came to the marriage with children. They also had children together and at one point a woman that worked at the cannery gave her mother a baby boy. This woman felt she could not return to Mexico with a child born out of wedlock. This very big family lived at 1870 Newton Ave.

At the age of 10 or 11 Mary was finally allowed to go to Neighborhood House. Her half bothers were allowed to go at a much earlier age. We have seen this double standard over and over again. Her older sister, to quote Mary, “brought English to the house.” She went to school and learned English and her young siblings learned English from her. In order to learn English her mother took night classes.

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Thumbnail image for The American Sniper As Hero

The American Sniper As Hero

by Source 01.24.2015 Culture

By FDRDemocrat/ Daily Kos

The controversy over the movie American Sniper has predictably reopened the divide among many Americans over the Iraq War.  What is more interesting is how the choice made by director Clint Eastwood to choose a sniper as a heroic archetype unravels classic notions of what is considered heroism.

The concept of heroism has been with humanity since the beginning.  At it’s heart it contains a common thread where the hero (or heroine) risks themselves for the sake of others.

How then to adapt the heroic archetype to the profession of sniper?  This is no easy task.

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Thumbnail image for McDonald’s Customers, Employees Not Lovin’ It

McDonald’s Customers, Employees Not Lovin’ It

by Doug Porter 01.23.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

Fast food giant McDonald’s is reportedly spending $3 million daily on U.S. advertising, yet business is declining. As the company has pumped up its menu to counter the explosion of fast-casual restaurants, food quality and service times have suffered. And increasingly negative image of the fast food industry as an exploiter of its workforce certainly hasn’t helped matters.

Last year was the company’s worst in three decades. Domestic sales actually declined by 1.7 percent. Global profits declined by 21 percent in the most recent quarter. Franchise owners are unhappy about menu bloat. Customers are confused by assorted pricing schemes. Employees are appearing on TV holding picket signs. And now the company is facing even more bad news.

A July ruling by the National labor Relations Board deeming the company a “joint employer” with its franchisees could spell big trouble, as 10 former workers at three McDonald’s locations in Virginia have filed a lawsuit alleging they were unceremoniously fired last May after being told by supervisors that there were “too many black people” working at their locations.

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