Post image for Sony Pictures Cyber Attack: Pearl Harbor or Forrest Gump?

By Doug Porter

Yesterday Sony Pictures did what many businesses would in similar circumstances – it assessed risks relative to reward and chose to pull the plug on a soon-to-be-released movie comedy, ‘The Interview.’

The $44 million film staring Seth Rogen and James Franco about an assassination attempt on North Korea’s leader was supposed to debut on Dec. 25, Christmas Day.

Now it’s dead in the water, with company reps saying, “Sony has no further release plans for the film.”

This decision was the end result of a hacking of Sony’s computer system by the “Guardians of Peace,” a group the US government says has links to North Korea. Unreleased films, company emails, employee information, threats to employees and their families and promises of violence against theaters and the public have all surfaced on the internet in recent days.

Today I’ll take a look at the implications of both the attack and Sony’s decision to capitulate.

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Post image for Restaurateur and Cartoonist Join Forces to Help Children of Deported Veterans, DREAMers, and Refugees

Mark Lane of Poppa’s Fresh Fish and Lalo Alcaraz of La Cucaracha organize holiday toy drive this Friday in Logan Heights

By Brent E. Beltrán

Once again restaurant owner Mark Lane, the accidental activist, has stepped forward to help not only refugee children but the children of deported American veterans and children of deported DREAMer moms as well. He will be hosting a toy drive and presentation on Friday night at Poppa’s Fresh Fish featuring former Lemon Grove native and syndicated cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz.

Lalo, the creator of La Cucaracha and Pocho.com and writer and consulting producer for the soon-to-be aired Fox cartoon Bordertown will be giving a thirty minute presentation about his cartoons and art and will follow with a book, poster and 2015 Cartoon Calendar signing.

“We chose to work with Lalo Alcaraz, as he has been a tireless fighter for immigrant rights, using his forum as a syndicated cartoonist to fight. He is a hometown hero in my opinion,” wrote fellow Lemon Grove native and resident Mark Lane.

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Post image for What’s the Deadliest Day of the Week in Your State for Gun Violence?

By Janet Allon / AlterNet

You might think Monday would be the most likely day when miserable, unhinged people are most likely to go on a murderous gun rampage. But you’d be wrong.

In 20 states, including California, Sunday is the deadliest day for gun violence. And in several Bible Belt states, Saturday is the worst. All in all, weekends, including Friday, are the times when Americans are most likely to get shot in 29 of the 50 states.

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Post image for Why Do Democrats Keep Trying to Ban Guns That Look Scary, Not the Guns That Kill the Most People?

On the twentieth anniversary of the assault weapons ban, a look at why politicians and the public support a policy that showed no evidence of saving lives.

by Lois Beckett / ProPublica

This story was co-published with the New York Times.

Over the past two decades, the majority of Americans in a country deeply divided over gun control have coalesced behind a single proposition: The sale of assault weapons should be banned.

That idea was one of the pillars of the Obama administration’s plan to curb gun violence, and it remains popular with the public. In a poll last December, 59 percent of likely voters said they favor a ban.

But in the 10 years since the previous ban lapsed, even gun control advocates acknowledge a larger truth: The law that barred the sale of assault weapons from 1994 to 2004 made little difference.

It turns out that big, scary military rifles don’t kill the vast majority of the 11,000 Americans murdered with guns each year. Little handguns do.

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Post image for Cuba Sí! Decades of Failed Foreign Policy Comes to an End

By Doug Porter

A mutual release of prisoners today marks beginning of the end of the United States embargo against the island nation of Cuba. Cuba released jailed American Alan Gross along with an unnamed non-American intelligence ‘asset.’  The US released three Cubans accused of running a spy operation in the South Florida expatriate community.

The Associated Press reports the two governments are starting talks on normalizing full diplomatic relations; trade and banking ties are will be at the top of the agenda. Observers expect each country to try to open embassies in each other’s capitals during 2015.

While these actions are not part of any overall shift in US foreign policy, the repercussions throughout the hemisphere will be reminiscent of the establishment of normalized relations with China in the 1970’s. It’s a big deal. A really big deal.

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Post image for Let’s say “No More” Violence Against Women

By Ernie McCray

It’s sad that there’s such a notion as “violence against women,” but it’s heartening that, seemingly, we, as a society, are now looking into such an unsavory practice as though we want to do something about it.

A catalyst for a big part of our interest in the subject has been the National Football League (who would have ever dreamed that?) with their “No” to violence against women television PSA’s, featuring present day and ex-pro football players, motivated by that horrible tape we saw of star running back, Ray Rice, punching his wife out in an elevator, one of the nastiest sights anyone could ever see.

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Thumbnail image for In Demanding Apologies, Police Unions Show White Supremacy is a Core Value

In Demanding Apologies, Police Unions Show White Supremacy is a Core Value

by Source 12.17.2014 Activism

By Shaun King / Daily Kos

Racism has a hard time hiding.

People love to deny its very existence, but it just has a way of telling on itself. Those who harbor prejudice on the inside eventually can’t help but let it out in a way, so ugly and toxic, that you soon wonder how they kept it disguised for as long as they had.

The leaked emails from Sony come to mind.

While the overwhelming majority of African Americans see some level of racial discrimination and devaluing of black life in the police murders of unarmed men like Akai Gurley, Kendrec McDade, and Eric Garner, it’s become far too easy for police (and society) to deny race played even a small role in any of these homicides.

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Thumbnail image for The Best Reporting on PTSD in Children Exposed to Violence

The Best Reporting on PTSD in Children Exposed to Violence

by Source 12.17.2014 Gun Control

By Lois Beckett / ProPublica

Updated Sept. 19, 2014 with new stories; originally published June 24, 2014.

When people think of post-traumatic stress disorder, they often focus on military veterans. But there’s growing evidence that PTSD is also a serious problem for American civilians, especially those exposed to violence in their own neighborhoods. Researchers in Atlanta found that 1 out of 3 inner-city residents they interviewed had experienced symptoms consistent with PTSD at some point in their lives. Earlier this month, we published a new story on an Oakland family struggling with PTSD after two young children, ages six and one, witnessed their mother being shot.

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Thumbnail image for The City Council’s Symbolic Re-Vote on Lightner as President

The City Council’s Symbolic Re-Vote on Lightner as President

by Doug Porter 12.16.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

It’s business as usual in San Diego. Amid concerns that last week’s city council election of Sheri Lightner as president, may have followed meetings in violation of the Brown Act, a special meeting has been called today to affirm the decision.

NBC7 reported last week on what might be “serial meetings,” one-on-one private sessions involving six council members. They passed on the findings to the City Attorney’s office.

Since that decision Councilwoman Lightner has been acting as president. I believe her election was orchestrated by local business interests as retaliation for Councilman Todd Gloria aggressive support of a local minimum wage ordinance.

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Thumbnail image for Holiday Noir

Holiday Noir

by Bob Dorn 12.16.2014 Gun Control

By Bob Dorn

I woke up early Bloody Wednesday. I could hear the alarm on my Sig Sauer Smartshot pleading for attention. It’s automatic loader had failed and the diagnostics were blinking error 1037, error 1037, error 1037…

Of all days, Bloody Wednesday, Christmas Eve, my companion gun’s auto-feed goes manual. I’m going to lose precious seconds loading and reloading manually at the mall.

I’ll have no advantage over the last-minute shoppers who’d put off shopping until the last minute for no good reason.

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Thumbnail image for The Gun Death Capital of the World – United States of America

The Gun Death Capital of the World – United States of America

by John Lawrence 12.16.2014 Government

By John Lawrence

The US leads the world in deaths from firearms. Countries like Great Britain and Japan, which outlaw guns, have hardly any gun related deaths.

These countries don’t have the “freedom” to own a gun. We Americans are free to own a gun and free to go bankrupt from medical debts. In countries like Britain and Japan they are not free to go bankrupt from medical debt because they have national health care systems which prevent that from happening.

Freedom is relative isn’t it, and open to interpretation. One person’s freedom is another person’s bondage. As Janis Joplin sang, “Freedom’s just another name for nothing left to lose.”

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Thumbnail image for SDFP Editors Debate To Publish or Not to Publish a Submission

SDFP Editors Debate To Publish or Not to Publish a Submission

by Staff 12.16.2014 Activism

An open letter from Dr. Fredi Avalos generates discussion on SDFP’s role in critiquing the Left and movement building

By San Diego Free Press Editorial Board

How do we reconcile our differences on the Left to more effectively fight a common enemy?

The San Diego Free Press does not publish every work that is submitted. The four daily editors determine whether a submission meets our criteria for quality of writing and compatibility with our mission of providing grassroots news and progressive views.

There have been a few times when we have declined to publish articles that were articulate and authored by respected members of the SDFP community of contributors and readers. When this occurs, it is a result of discussion and a final vote of the full editorial board, in which the majority position is reflected and the contributor is advised of our decision.

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Thumbnail image for Newtown Families Sue AR-15 Gun Maker

Newtown Families Sue AR-15 Gun Maker

by Doug Porter 12.15.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

It’s been two years and a day since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut left 26 people, mostly first graders, dead. The school has been torn down. The house where the shooter lived will soon meet the same fate.

The troubled 20-year-old gunman shot his way into the school. He shot and killed his mother before driving to the school, and he committed suicide as police arrived. The shootings at the school, lasting just over four minutes, were possible thanks to the military-style weapon used.

This morning a law firm representing the families of nine of the 26 people killed and a teacher filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer, distributor and seller of the rifle used in the shooting.


Welcome to Guns, Policy and Progressives week at the San Diego Free Press. We’ll be talking about guns and their role in society. Provided you can be civil about it, we invite you to join the conversation.

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Thumbnail image for On Torture: Deeper into the American Heart of Darkness

On Torture: Deeper into the American Heart of Darkness

by Jim Miller 12.15.2014 Columns

By Jim Miller

A couple of weeks ago I evoked Joseph Conrad’s classic critique of colonialism when discussing the disposability of black and brown lives in the wake of Ferguson and our collective ability to dehumanize or “thingify” black and brown people at home and abroad.

As I observed then, “in Conrad’s classic novel Heart of Darkness we are taken on a journey into the core of the European colonial enterprise. And while the naïve reader may expect an adventure in the ‘savage’ world of Africa, what one quickly discovers is that it is the ‘hollow men’ of Europe bent on the ruthless exploitation of the land and the people who are the real savages, whose moral emptiness and desire to ‘exterminate the brutes’ is the actual horror.”

Well, sadly, last week the Senate report on torture officially revealed that “we are the hollow men” to steal a line from T.S. Eliot, “the stuffed men” whose lips “form prayers to broken stone.”

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Thumbnail image for Washington State Voters Overwhelmingly Approved Citizens’ Initiative to Expand Background Checks to All Gun Sales

Washington State Voters Overwhelmingly Approved Citizens’ Initiative to Expand Background Checks to All Gun Sales

by Source 12.15.2014 Activism

By Jennifer Fuson / The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

Washington, D.C. – In the only place where guns were directly on the ballot this election day, Washington state voters overwhelmingly passed Initiative 594 to expand background checks to all gun sales, including online and at gun shows. A competing initiative (Initiative 591) designed to block the implementation of background checks and sponsored by the gun lobby failed 55 to 45%.

Washington became the seventh state to require background checks on all gun sales, the fifth state since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012 (Washington, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, and New York).

“The bottom line is this law will save lives. Washingtonians should sleep better tonight knowing that their state will be a safer place thanks to expanded Brady background checks,” said Brady Campaign President Dan Gross.

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Thumbnail image for A Call for Councilwoman Zapf to Do the Right Thing

A Call for Councilwoman Zapf to Do the Right Thing

by Lori Saldaña 12.15.2014 Government

When you were elected to the San Diego City Council 4 years ago, to represent my Clairemont neighborhood, I was willing to give you a chance.

After all, you claimed to be sensitive to working class issues, as asmall business owner. And you have mentioned having Mexican-American family members, which made me hopeful you would find common ground with the growing Latino community in my native Clairemont.

But this week, your staff’s comments about how she “wanted to shoot” the “… idiot” protesters at a City Council event displayed a shocking lack of awareness about public safety, civil disobedience, efforts to achieve social justice, and the constitutional right of Americans to use peaceful protest to communicate with elected officials.

And what makes this latest situation even worse: it was the SECOND time a member of your staff displayed this tone deaf, cavalier disrespect towards public protest.

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Thumbnail image for The Day School Shootings Became the Norm

The Day School Shootings Became the Norm

by Annie Lane 12.14.2014 Culture

By Annie Lane

The 1999 Columbine High School shooting jolted me. I was 15 at the time. That is, I was still immortal and arrogant in the way that only a teen can be. Despite this, I remember being jolted by the violence of it, and the permanence. The kids killed were my age; they were essentially moments away from entering into the adult world, however unprepared, just like me.

The black-and-white cafeteria footage that ran on a seemingly endless loop across news stations nationwide was spell-binding. It was simultaneously real while perfectly mimicking Hollywood violence – or was it the other way around?

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Thumbnail image for Looking Back at the Week: Dec 7-13

Looking Back at the Week: Dec 7-13

by Brent E. Beltrán 12.14.2014 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 Boxer possibly stepping down, torture American style, frat rape culture, Gloria getting backstabbed, a day of resistance, loving thy neighbor, unindicted ham sandwiches, Joshua Tree, Tijuana dentistry, a heartless Union Bank, Kevin Beiser, and a beachful of OB news.

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Thumbnail image for From Boston to San Diego, 12/13/14 Was A Day of Resistance

From Boston to San Diego, 12/13/14 Was A Day of Resistance

by Doug Porter 12.13.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Thousands of people took to the streets on Saturday in cities all over the US. The mass media is telling people these protests are in response to recent grand jury decisions regarding the deaths of black men at the hands of police officers. It’s bigger than that.

They really ought to be saying lots of people are sick and tired of being sick and tired of racism in the US of A. They’re sick and tired of hearing excuses. They’re sick and tired of being treated like second class citizens. And most of all they’re sick and tired of injustice at the hands of a legal system that claims to be color blind.

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Thumbnail image for Just Another Day at the CIA

Just Another Day at the CIA

by Junco Canché 12.13.2014 Cartoons
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Thumbnail image for The Season for Mindless Consumerism

The Season for Mindless Consumerism

by Source 12.13.2014 Culture

This Christmas, put your money to better use than thoughtless gift-giving.

By  / OtherWords

‘Tis the season for mindless consumerism.

I love giving gifts when they’re from the heart. But I hate giving or receiving presents if they’re things nobody needs, given out of a sense of obligation.

Here’s a story that illustrates what I mean. Back in college, a friend of mine approached me and said, “I just want to give you a heads up, my new girlfriend bought you a gift.”

Uh-oh, I thought. I didn’t even get him a gift, let alone her. But without missing a beat, I replied, “Oh, that’s so sweet! Well, I got her something too.”

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Thumbnail image for Bankers, Pot Smokers Get Holiday Gifts in DC Budget Bill

Bankers, Pot Smokers Get Holiday Gifts in DC Budget Bill

by Doug Porter 12.12.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

The The Grinch was alive and well yesterday as the House of Representatives passed a compromise “CRomnibus.” The word is politi-speak for a combined continuing resolution (to keep funding the government) and omnibus (comprehensive budget) legislation.

A rebellion on both sides of the aisle nearly blocked passage of the bill. Conservatives wanted to make more of a statement about the President’s executive order on immigration. Progressives were steamed about language –actually written by lobbyists–rolling back financial industry reforms put into place following the 2009 economic collapse.

But there’s so much more to see here. In these days of Congressional gridlock and Obama derangement syndrome, a bi-partisan leadership group (House Republicans and Senate Democrats) deemed it necessary to drop a document bigger than War and Peace on Tuesday,  expecting a vote in less than 72 hours.

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Thumbnail image for Vacation Rentals In San Diego Under More Scrutiny

Vacation Rentals In San Diego Under More Scrutiny

by John P. Anderson 12.12.2014 Business

Vacation rental property owners targeted for missing tax payments

By John P. Anderson

I have a small cottage that I rent out to visitors via the vacation rental website Airbnb. The cottage is on the same property as my home and I did not think that vacation rental taxes in San Diego applied to my situation.

The taxes in San Diego for vacation rentals are the transient occupancy tax (TOT) and tourism marketing district (TMD) assessment. The rates for a property like mine from these taxes total 11.05% of gross rent – 10.5% TOT and .55% TMD, there is also a higher 1.45% TMD rate that applies to lodging businesses with 30 or more units.

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Thumbnail image for Geo-Poetic Spaces: When the Joshua Trees are Gone

Geo-Poetic Spaces: When the Joshua Trees are Gone

by Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes 12.12.2014 Books & Poetry

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

How will we find our way
out of desert
when the Joshua Trees are gone?

No iconoclastic arms
reaching out of mountain passes no white flower
guiding Yucca Moths
to broken promise of land …

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