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Abuse of Amber Alert in San Diego?

Late Monday night I had turned on the Jon Stewart Daily Show to watch, but by midnight I was dozing and had leaned all the way over on the couch.

Suddenly, I could tell that the TV image changed – and a sharp and loud buzzer sound went off – 3 or 4 times. It was so loud, it rousted me -something awful was about to happen – it must be some kind of emergency – my mind raced. Are missiles coming? I wondered … but no, that image quickly faded – then I imagined hearing the roar of flood waters cascading down the mountains after some dam had broke, but no, maybe it was an eminent earthquake warning.

My heart start beating faster, my anxiety level shot way up. WTF? What on earth is going on?   [Read more…]

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Creative Tornado Known as the Fringe Festival Comes to San Diego

Affordable prices, no holds barred subject treatment and engaged audiences

By Mukul Khurana

If you were asked to describe what Fringe Festival was about, you might say that it’s an art festival that fosters genres as diverse as dance, drama, comedy, music, buskers and more. With a strong focus on artists, creativity, and community, the San Diego International Fringe Festival is a progressive undertaking (and as the name states, it has an international scope). But you would be missing the point.

On the opening day of the 2015 San Diego International Fringe Festival (SDIFF) on Thursday the 23rd of July, you would have witnessed the return of the 2014 SDIFF award winner Jack Lukeman. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, Luke would have seduced you with his smooth accent and beautiful music. He presented Phantasmagoria as songs of “wickedness and wonder.”   [Read more…]

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As Medicare Turns 50, It’s Time to Grow the Program

It’s As American As Apple Pie

By Doug Porter

On July 30, 1965 President Lyndon Johnson signed legislation creating the Medicare program. After more than five decades of failed attempts dating back to President Theodore Roosevelt, at least some Americans were eligible for coverage under a federal health insurance program.

Today more than 54 million people are covered by Medicare. It’s far from perfect, but it’s a damn sight better than the alternatives being proposed by the GOP. In fact, many of the problems facing medicare can be addressed by e x p a n d i n g the program, an idea gaining currency nationally.

Registered nurses are leading the way, with actions in over 25 U.S. cities July 30th to honor Medicare and Medicaid’s 50th anniversary with a National Day of Action celebrating the theme, “Medicare is as American as Apple Pie.” (The nearest local action is in LA)  They’re calling on policy makers to protect, improve, and expand Medicare to cover all Americans with a single standard of quality care not based on ability to pay.   [Read more…]

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Dreams and Nightmares on Medi-Cal

It has been my dream, since my husband and I first started dating, to go with him to visit the ancient Maya sites that I wrote about 25 years ago in my novel, Place of Mirrors. Though we planned the trip several times, including for our honeymoon, one thing after another has caused us to postpone it.

A few months ago I got an email about an upcoming rafting expedition down the Usumacinta River that would stop at all of the sites I wanted to visit. We had met the guide for that trip, Rocky Contos, two years earlier, before I broke my leg.

He had suggested that we could get a reduced rate if we would work the trip – I could do cooking and my husband could do translating and assist with various chores. If we got some others to join us, it would cost almost nothing.   [Read more…]

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Buying America: Shopping Can Be an Ethical Act

The Many Astounding Ways You Can Express Your Values with Your Pocket Book

By David Morris / Alternet

“Every person ought to have the awareness that purchasing is always a moral – and not simply an economic – act,” Pope Francis announced early this year. How can we spend our money as if our values matter?

In some sectors and for some values this is fairly easy. Food is an obvious example. Those who want to protect the environment and human and animal health will find abundant labels guiding them to the appropriate product: USDA Organic, free range, hormone free, grass fed. For those who want to strengthen community, shrink the distance between producer and consumer and support family farmers a growing number of grocery stores label locally grown or raised.   [Read more…]

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Readers Write: There is No ‘Free Money’ for Stadium Study

By Joe Flynn

Back to basics. All money in the city’s funds, coffers, treasure chests, you pick the title, is taxpayer money. In the effort to fund the Stadium Environmental Impact Report (EIR), the unanticipated refund from the state is being treated as “free” money.

Perhaps the term “refund” got lost in the shuffle; a refund usually implies that the money you paid or over paid, is being refunded, i.e., given back. It comes back to the city with the same restrictions that it had when it was paid. It may not be earmarked for a particular use, but that only implies that it goes back into the general fund.   [Read more…]

Still frame from Growth Is Not Enough

Economic Growth Doesn’t Make a Wealthy Nation, Safety and Happiness Do

By Araz Hachadourian / Yes! Magazine

Worldwide economic wealth has quadrupled since 1970, and experts say it will continue to grow exponentially. But at the same time, poverty and economic inequality are on the rise.

Most countries use measures such as gross national product (GNP) and gross domestic product (GDP) to assess the health of their economies. But these only take into account economic activity and material wealth, leaving out factors like distribution of resources and quality of life.

In this video, Kate Raworth, economist and senior visiting research associate at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, explains how economies aimed only at growth are not enough.   [Read more…]

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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…]

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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…]

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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…]