Effective Altruism: Is It Up To Rich People To Save the World?

By John Lawrence

Peter Singer has written a book The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism Is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically (Yale University Press, 2015). Singer has been called “the world’s greatest living philosopher” and is currently a Professor at Princeton so we must take his work seriously. Yet I’m bothered by the implications of his work as condensed in an essay: How You Can Do the Most Good: It’s Not as Simple as You Think.

He tells about one of his students who, though caring to extreme about the plight of poor people in the world, nevertheless, chose to go to work on Wall Street when he graduated. His reasoning was that he could help the most poverty stricken by dedicating a large amount of his considerable salary to helping them rather than going to work as a volunteer working directly with them in Africa, for instance.

A huge amount of money contributed to the right charities would alleviate the conditions of more people than would be helped by a person of meager resources who devoted his working efforts to their cause.   [Read more…]

ameri pot

ReformCA Files Its California Pot Legalization Initiative

By Phillip Smith / AlterNet

The California Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, also known as ReformCA, has filed a draft marijuana legalization initiative with state officials, the group announced Sunday.

The long-anticipated move means the campaign best-placed to bring legalization to the Golden State can finally get underway.

The Control, Regulate and Tax Cannabis Act of 2016 would allow people 21 and over to possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana and it would set up legal marijuana commerce overseen by a pair of new state agencies, the California Cannabis Commission and the Office of Cannabis Regulatory Affairs.   [Read more…]

free college now

Why Free College Tuition Makes Sense for America

By Bernie Rhinerson / FreeCollegeNow.Org

Ever since President Obama announced Americas College Promise, his plan to make community colleges tuition free, the debate and conversation about making colleges free has been building with many productive ideas coming forward.

This month, the San Diego Community College District may have become the first community college district in the country to approve an endorsement resolution supporting these efforts to make a community college education more affordable.  That is just one step of many that we need to take down the road to a future where a college education is expected, accessible and affordable for all young people in our country.

More than 100 years ago, America began to acknowledge that to be successful, our younger citizens needed more education.  During the “high school movement” from 1910 to 1940, high schools were established to expand educational opportunities for students.  In 1910, only 9% of 18-year-olds graduated from a secondary school.  By 1940, 73% of high school age Americans were enrolled in a secondary school.  That educational explosion has been credited with the success achieved by our country in the 20th century in the growth of the middle class, and scientific and technological achievements.   [Read more…]


A Defining Issue for the 2016 Elections Will Be the Trans Pacific Pact (TPP)

By Doug Porter

The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations have agreed to the largest regional trade accord in history, one promising to set international commerce standards affecting 40% percent of the world’s economy.

The deal culminates years of negotiations setting up mechanics for a global economy as the basis for future prosperity. These negotiations never involved questioning the premise of neo-liberal policies as the foundation for economic development in the years ahead. In a nutshell, this means “marketplace” will be the final arbiter in the global economy.

The rules of the economic game, as laid out in previous trade-pacts, are seen by the left as driving forces in the widening of economic inequality. This, along with parochial and nationalist concerns on the right, sets up the Trans Pacific Pact (TPP) as a defining political battle as the US heads into an election year.   [Read more…]

Two Moms

Do All “Black Lives Matter?”

By Ernie McCray

Damn. One day I’m writing a piece concerning discrimination against lesbians and gays, making a pitch for us to let the now proverbial Adam and Steve or Alanna and Eve feel at ease in just being themselves.

And the very next day, to my dismay, I hear of a little 5-year-old black girl who is kicked out of a school, the Mt. Erie Christian Academy, because she has two moms.

Whoa, right back where I started from. Another story about “beliefs.” Christian beliefs. But I just have to say I can’t see Christ turning some child away from a school with some lame excuse like “The Bible says homosexuality is a sin,” making that little girl, in essence, a victim of her mothers’ sins.   [Read more…]

MSF Photo

US Bombing of Afghan Hospital Called a War Crime by Doctors Without Borders

By Nadia Prupis / Common Dreams

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on Sunday called the U.S. military’s Saturday airstrike on its charity hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan a war crime and announced it was withdrawing all staff from the beleaguered area.

MSF said 22 people, including medical workers and patients, were killed in the bombing, which occurred around 2:10 am local time and reportedly lasted for at least half an hour.

“Under the clear presumption that a war crime has been committed, MSF demands that a full and transparent investigation into the event be conducted by an independent international body,” said MSF general director Christopher Stokes in a statement on Sunday.   [Read more…]

via Facebook

San Diego Democrats to Progressive Base: We’re Just Not That Into You

By Jim Miller

Last week over at the San Diego Union-Tribune, Logan Jenkins had some fun pondering what might happen if the “Dems go dark” this upcoming mayoral election.   His conclusion?  It would push Faulconer to the top-tier of Republican candidates for Governor in 2018:

And, it should be deduced, a cakewalk sweetens Faulconer’s prospects in Sacramento.

In 18 months or so, Republicans will be looking for a governor candidate who can appeal to Latinos and independents as well as the conservative base. The Democrats have a long electable bench. Republicans? Not so much.

If Faulconer is re-elected by a landslide in a major Democratic city, he’s going to rise to the top tier of the GOP’s A+ list.

  [Read more…]


Looking Back at the Week: Sept 27-Oct 3

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: standing with PP, the continuing saga of Marne Foster, gun nuts excusing another school massacre, letting Adam and Steve be, dancing to Narcocorridos, random acts of kindness, the passing of Judy Oliveira, a balanced transportation future in SD, the signature stings in Carlsbad, Maria returning to Delano, a diary of a Karen refugee and lots of other grassroots news & progressive views from San Diego’s friendly, neighborhood, all volunteer, community news site.   [Read more…]


Diary of a Refugee: Finding Hope In Art and Education

By Vanessa Ceceña

Burma is a country in Southeast Asia that has been torn by civil war, unrest and a regime that instills fear in its people. After nearly 50 years of military rule, the country is currently in a process of renovation, but there are still accounts continued human rights violations.

Like in many countries that have experienced unrest and a level of genocide, many in Burma fled their country and entered refugee camps in neighboring Thailand. Here is the story of Eh De Gray.

De Gray identifies as Karen, one of the ethnic groups in Burma. He is the oldest of 5 and at the young age of 11, he decided to leave his home country and family to enter a refugee camp on the Burmese-Thai border. He wanted an education, an opportunity, something that he would not get if he remained in Burma.   [Read more…]

stop tpp banner

As Secret Trade Talks Reveal Cracks, Demonstrators Aim Death Blows at TPP

Pacific trade deal opponents hope that if Atlanta round fails, pro-corporate TPP could be knocked off track indefinitely

By Deidre Fulton / CommonDreams

As trade ministers from around the world continued meeting in Atlanta on Thursday for final-stretch negotiations on the corporate-friendly Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), civil society groups demonstrated on the streets in a final salvo against a deal they describe as “a wholesale auction of our rights, our freedoms, and our democracy to multinational corporations who put profits over people.”

“They’re getting close, but we can stop them,” reads the Citizens Trade Campaign’s call-to-action. “If we do, and the Atlanta round fails, many believe the TPP could be knocked off track indefinitely.”   [Read more…]


North Of The Fence: South Bay Politics and Events

By Barbara Zaragoza

Immigration and Crime

  • You might be surprised to learn that border cities continue to be among the safest in the country. Imperial Beach was ranked the second safest city in San Diego County.(Poway came in first.)
  • Also, you are least likely to be murdered in the two border cities of El Paso, TX and San Diego in comparison to 23 other cities in the U.S. Take a look at the FBI data that ranks cities by murder rate.
  • The Pew Research Center found that Asians have supplanted Hispanics as the largest group of newcomers. The organization also reports that views of immigrants are largely split along party lines in America. 71% of Republicans say immigrants in the U.S. are making crime worse, compared with 35% of Democrats.
  •   [Read more…]


    Oregon College Massacre, More Gun Nut Excuses

    By Doug Porter

    A very disturbed 26-year-old man killed nine people and injured seven others at a community college in Oregon on October 1st. He was killed in a gunfight with police officers responding to 911 calls.

    The President made his 15th appearance to address the nation following a mass shooting. He was obviously very angry and frustrated.

    The blowback from the right edge of the flat-earthers was, as usual, both ignorant and infuriating.   [Read more…]


    Are Charter School Directors Bending Pension Rules?

    By Rick Mercurio / Alianza North County

    Teachers and administrators in California’s public schools earn pensions based on several factors. For some, like Dennis Snyder, the founder of three charter schools in Escondido CA, it adds up to a healthy lifetime benefit, even though his final employer was not a public school district, and even though he found an apparent loophole in the regulations.

    Snyder’s situation

    Dennis Snyder worked as a teacher and football coach at Escondido High School starting in about 1965. In 1986 the principal fired Snyder as coach, citing the reason that he was not cooperative with the parent booster organization. Snyder appealed the firing to both the superintendent and the school board, and he lost both appeals.

    Although he was let go as head football coach, he retained his teaching position. However, in the early ‘90s Snyder switched jobs, becoming executive director of the Escondido Charter High School, which he founded. Heritage K-8 Charter School and Heritage Digital Academy were later founded by Snyder as well.

    Snyder’s salary as executive director eventually rose to almost $111,000.   [Read more…]

    Gary Gallegos

    SANDAG’s Gary Gallegos: ‘Transit is not going to work for every person in the region’

    By Sam Ollinger / BikeSD

    “We are not going to put everybody on a bike, we are not going to take everybody out of their car, transit is not going to work for every person in the region.” – Gary Gallegos, executive director of SANDAG, San Diego’s Metropolitan Planning Organization. January 8, 2014.

    “the SANDAG plan is to spend more than half the $204 billion on mass transit, adding five new Trolley lines, 32 new rapid bus lines and 275 miles of new bikeways, as well as 160 miles of freeway lanes intended to help transit and encourage carpools and van pools. The net effect would be to reduce county greenhouse gas emissions by considerably more than state targets.” – UT Editorial Board

    I don’t know what sort of drugs the UT Editorial Board is consuming, because if they bothered to read SANDAG’s own analysis they would have seen that implementing the existing Regional Transportation Plan (scheduled for a SANDAG board vote on October 9th) in its current form is going to increase the region’s greenhouse gas emissions.   [Read more…]


    University Contract Workers Wages –Or Lack Thereof– in the Crosshairs

    By Doug Porter

    Today (Oct 1), some contract employees working on University of California facilities will be seeing a pay hike to $13 an hour. The university system is California’s third largest employer and the largest employer in San Diego.

    Earlier this year UC President Janet Napolitano announced a plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over a three-year roll-out for all workers, including contract ones, and today’s bump is just the first stage.  

    Or maybe they won’t be seeing that raise. The Los Angeles Times reports the Department of Labor has launched an investigation into long-time contractor Performance First Building Services failure to pay overtime to workers cleaning up after sporting events at UC Berkeley.   [Read more…]

    delano excerpt

    Return to Delano: the 50th Anniversary of the Delano Grape Strike

    By Maria E. Garcia

    A few weeks ago, when the United Farm Workers (UFW) posted that there would be a celebration commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Delano Grape Strike, I posted a simple sentence on Facebook: ” San Diego is anybody going?” Within a few minutes my friend Gloria Serrano-Medina responded with a simple “vamos” and with that one word a decision to be part of that celebration was made.

    This would not be my first trip to the Forty Acres, the parcel of land in Delano, California that in 1966 became the headquarters for the United Farm Workers of America, the first permanent agricultural labor union in the United States.   [Read more…]


    Random Acts of Kindess

    By Jeeni Criscenzo

    Thoughts while enjoying the super moon during the lunar eclipse of Sept. 27, 2015

    Although raised Roman Catholic and indoctrinated with 12 years of Catechism classes in parochial school, I decided, even before graduating high school that neither Catholicism nor any religion, was for me. When the Sisters of Charity taught that faith is a gift, I responded that I didn’t get the gift and didn’t want it. Long before I was “expelled” from the church for marrying a second time, I had decided that I could be a good person without following rules written by men who “believed” the earth was flat.

    So as I followed the coverage of Pope Francis’ recent visit to the United States, I kept in mind that he was the leader of a faith that will not relinquish power to women to make their own medical decisions or to give them access to leadership as priests, bishops or the papacy.   [Read more…]

    Ta-Nehisi Coates

    Ta-Nehisi Coates, ‘Unflinching’ Voice on Racism, Declared MacArthur Genius

    ‘Writing without shallow polemic and in a measured style, Coates addresses complex and challenging issues such as racial identity, systemic racial bias, and urban policing,’ declared the MacArthur Foundation.

    By Sarah Lazare / Common Dreams

    Journalist, author, and leading voice on anti-black racism in America, Ta-Nehisi Coates, was revealed Tuesday to be one of 24 recipients of the 2015 MacArthur Genius awards.

    “Writing without shallow polemic and in a measured style, Coates addresses complex and challenging issues such as racial identity, systemic racial bias, and urban policing,” declared the foundation. “He subtly embeds the present—in the form of anecdotes about himself or others—into historical analysis in order to illustrate how the implications of the past are still experienced by people today.”   [Read more…]

    Students in classroom

    To Cut Costs, College Students Are Buying Less Food and Even Going Hungry

    By Sara Goldrick-Rab, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Katharine Broton, University of Wisconsin-Madison / The Conversation

    Studies have long shown that a college student’s odds of achieving financial security and a better quality of life improve when he or she earns a degree.

    But what are some of the obstacles that prevent degree attainment?

    At the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, we study the challenges that students from low- and moderate-income households face in attaining a college degree. Chief among these are the many hurdles created by the high price of college. Paying the price of attending college, we find, changes who attends and for how long, as well as the college experience itself – what classes students take, the grades they earn, the activities in which they engage and even with whom they interact.

    Our recent research shows an alarming trend on college campuses: an increasing number of students tell us that they are struggling in college, sometimes even dropping out, because they can’t afford enough of life’s basic necessity – food.   [Read more…]


    School Board Trustee Praised, Defended and Investigated, All in a Day at San Diego Unified

    By Doug Porter

    School Board Trustee Marne Foster is at the center of several controversies in the San Diego Unified School District. A meeting of the trustees yesterday featured numerous TV trucks lined up outside, partisans and opponents inside, along with three distinct actions and enough drama for a cable mini-series.

    Documents released by the district answered many questions raised concerning the School of Creative and Performing Arts, at the center of the current controversy. Responding to charges that Trustee Foster had intervened in school affairs on behalf of her son, the district’s documents amounted to a master class in how to respond to a political controversy: hit’em [critics] hard and hit ‘em long. This situation is far from resolved, however.

    Also, the school board authorized an investigation into Trustee Foster’s involvement in a fundraiser on behalf of her son’s college fund and a claim filed against the district allegedly by the child’s father. And they passed a resolution praising Foster for her work promoting equity in the district.  Confused yet? It is complicated, to be sure.   [Read more…]

    Marriage Equality

    I Hope We Can Finally Just Let Adam and Steve Be

    (No Matter What our Beliefs Happen to Be)

    This Kim Davis situation is just too familiar for my liking, too much like it has always been in this country based on what I’ve seen in 77 years.

    I mean I have no idea what this woman’s work entails in a day. But one of her tasks seems, to me, like a dream job, where all she’d have to do is a little soft shoe with jazz hands and a big smile and sing: “Howdy do. Congratulations, you two. Here’s your marriage license. Toddle-oo!”

    But she can only do that for “Adam and Eve.” “Adam and Steve” or any woman whose honey is a she has to be insulted by her for all the world to see because of what her scripture has taught her to believe.   [Read more…]


    Does the Pope Smoke Dope?

    By the Ol’ OB Hippie

    Does the Pope smoke dope? Does Pope Francis imbibe in the inhalation of medicinal cannabis?

    No, really – I wanted to know if the Pope smoked dope. I have heard rumors to that effect – for years actually. And I wanted to find out.

    I knew he was coming to the U.S., so I had to figure out a way to meet up with him.   [Read more…]


    Nuclear Shutdown News for September 2015 – the Costs of San Onofre

    Disaster Capitalism and the Shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Plant

    By Michael Steinberg /Black Rain Press

    This story starts with a clandestine dinner in Warsaw, Poland. Present are Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utility Commission, and Stephen Pickett, a high ranking official with Southern California Edison, a major electrical utility.

    It is March 2013, the same month SCE announced the unexpected permanent shutdown of its San Onofre Nuclear Power Station.

    No nukers were elated. But their joy later turns to disappointment and then outrage when the CPUC subsequently hands down a decision that leaves us on the hook for billions of dollars in costs supposedly related to the shutdown of San Onofre.

    How did this happen, and so relatively quickly?   [Read more…]


    Stand Up for Planned Parenthood on #PinkOutDay in San Diego

    By Doug Porter

    Today’s the day. Three months into the latest effort by the self-righteous right to make women’s health into a wedge issue, supporters of Planned Parenthood are standing up for their cause.

    There are 4 “Pink Out Day” events in San Diego County and 249 actions around the country planned for September 29th. Coincidentally (okay, maybe not), this is also the same day Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards will face off against the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

    Back in July, an organization called the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a series of videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood doctors selling parts from aborted fetuses to researchers for profit, which would have been illegal. The videos were selectively edited. The people behind the CMP have a long history of harassing medical personnel and women visiting clinics.   [Read more…]

    sdfp income-inequality

    Why We Must End Upward Pre-Distribution to the Rich

    By Robert Reich / RobertReich.Org

    You often hear inequality has widened because globalization and technological change have made most people less competitive, while making the best educated more competitive.

    There’s some truth to this. The tasks most people used to do can now be done more cheaply by lower-paid workers abroad or by computer-driven machines.

    But this common explanation overlooks a critically important phenomenon: the increasing concentration of political power in a corporate and financial elite that has been able to influence the rules by which the economy runs.   [Read more…]

    army teamwork

    Bush AND Obama Both Responsible for Screwing Up the Middle East

    Regime Change Was Their Common Theme

    By John Lawrence

    Obama wanted it to be part of his legacy that he ended two wars, those in Iraq and Afghanistan, which were started by his predecessor, George W Bush along with his vice President Dick Cheney. Only it’s not working out entirely as he planned, and he’s coming in for a lot of criticism from, among others, Cheney himself. In a new book, Exceptional, Why the World Needs a Powerful America, written with daughter Liz Cheney, Cheney criticizes Obama while defending his own legacy. Cheney has been in full self-rehabilitation mode ever since he stepped down as George W Bush’s brain.

    The criticism now is that Obama left Iraq too soon and thus created a power vacuum that ISIS has filled. No doubt ISIS stepped into the vacuum created by the departure of Saddam Hussein, but the part that Cheney is missing is that his administration took out Saddam for no valid reason whatsoever and created the power vacuum in the first place. As long as Saddam was in power, no group such as al Qaeda or ISIS could possibly have gained a foothold in Iraq.

    As Colin Powell said recently on Meet the Press, and I paraphrase, you can’t take out the guy at the top if there is no structure beneath him to support a stable government and expect good results. Certainly neither George W Bush, who wanted to create western style democracies in the Middle East using war as a means, nor Barack Obama, who wanted to do the same thing by encouraging the youth to rise up after getting rid of despicable dictators, have achieved the results they were hoping for.   [Read more…]

    Mike Mozart/Flickr

    Your Weed Killer Might Kill You

    By Jill Richardson / OtherWords

    When I began writing about agriculture nearly a decade ago, I learned quickly that people generally believed that Roundup, the best-selling weed killer made by Monsanto, was relatively harmless.

    Roundup breaks down quickly, everyone said — and into non-toxic components, they added. If homeowners can buy it at gardening stores, and cities around the United States use it to kill weeds in parks where children play, it must be benign, right?

    Wrong. Within the past year, the story has changed.   [Read more…]


    Congressional Values: “Zippidy do-da, zippidy day.”

    By Doug Porter

    Speaker of the House John Boehner was singing the classic Disney ditty as he walked in for a Friday morning press conference where he shocked just about everybody by announcing his resignation.

    While Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is considered a probable successor to Boehner as Speaker, it’s worthwhile to look at the recently concluded 10th annual Value Voters Summit for some context about the changes taking place.

    It was, after all, the crowd at the political conference for American social conservative activists that gave a standing ovation after hearing news of the Ohio congressman’s resignation.   [Read more…]