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Looking Back at the Week: June 28-July 4

Looking Back at the Week: June 28-July 4

Compiled 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: Hateville USA one year later, anti-Vaxxers failing, La Migra hanging with haters, Barrio Logan doing it for themselves again, Ernie getting poetical at a meeting, Mauna Kea protected (for now), marriage equality, occupying the Neighborhood House and the rise of the Chicano Free Clinic (props to Maria E. Garcia on finishing the series!), Cali workers now getting paid sick leave, trending student loan defaults, CV’s rising politico Jason Paguio, and lots of other grassroots news & progressive views.   [Read more…]

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The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: The Occupation of Neighborhood House…

…and the birth of the Chicano Free Clinic

The occupation of Neighborhood House that began when barrio activist Laura Rodriguez chained herself to the doors on October 4, 1970 occurred a mere six months after the takeover of Chicano Park in April 1970. Both actions involved many of the same people and both actions demanded community control over decisions that affected the lives of residents.

With the takeover of Chicano Park in April 1970, the barrio had said “¡Basta!” to land use decisions that displaced thousands of residents as a result of military use of the bay during World War II followed by the growth of the shipbuilding industry; then by the construction of freeways and the Coronado Bridge; and zoning changes that permitted yonkes (junkyards) to exist side by side with long time residences.

The occupation of Neighborhood House was a demand for community control over this beloved institution that had been in existence for 58 years at that time. Its progressive era service philosophy had been displaced by Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.   [Read more…]

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Fun, Fear and Fireworks on the Fourth of July

By Doug Porter

America’s most patriotic holiday is a complicated event. What was once a day set aside for pontificating, picnics and patriotism is too often filled with fear, loathing and enough fireworks to scare the cilia off paramecium six states away.

By ignoring the merchants of faux patriotism–an admirable, if difficult goal–many Americans do manage to make the day special. So let’s take a look around at what is and is not happening on the Fourth of July, 2015.

In San Diego County there are (at least) seventeen fireworks shows, eight parades, eight concerts, one flotilla and assorted performances. And that’s not counting the ad hoc displays of patriotic bang-bangs and boom-booms. Listings for events can be found at KPBS, the Times of San Diego, and the Union-Tribune.   [Read more…]

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Mark Lane in Murrieta: We Are Absolutely a Country of Immigrants

“I love the United States so much that I want to share it…”

By Mark Lane

Last year, we saw the worst of what our country has to offer, and then we saw the best of what our country has to offer. The movement of compassion that was born that day was amazing, it was enveloping. We saw our country come together like it never has. These people, these human beings fleeing from incredible crime, violence and poverty, coming to the United States of America, looking for shelter, refuge. They came knowing that their travels would be dangerous, life threatening. They came because they had no choice.

On that hot summer day, one year ago today, we saw women and children exercising their right under the laws of the United States of America to ask for asylum, being harassed, insulted, abused, terrorized. Then we saw millions of Americans revolt in compassion. It was amazing, it was overwhelming. When my family saw this play out on the news, we knew we had to act, we knew we had to show our children the counter action to this hate, and not with words, but with actions.   [Read more…]

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Damning New Analysis Reveals Deadly Lack of Police Training on Mental Illness

‘On average, police shot and killed someone who was in mental crisis every 36 hours in the first six months of this year,’ reveals Washington Post

By Deidre Fulton / Common Dreams

One quarter of the men and women shot and killed by police in the first six months of 2015 were “in the throes of mental or emotional crisis,” according to a new analysis published by the Washington Post on Tuesday, suggesting that law enforcement officers lack training on how to deal with the mentally ill.   [Read more…]

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Hugs Offered to Hating Hecklers at Murrieta Immigration Rally

The 75 or so people who came to Murrieta, California on July 1st to commemorate resistance to last year’s bus blockade gathered around a stage in the Town Square park under the watchful eyes of a dozen or so police officers. Situated just few yards away behind yellow caution tape, anti-immigration types screamed obscenities and racist insults through multiple bullhorns.

As protest rallies go, there really wasn’t much to see on stage. Banners waved, speakers spoke, people applauded.

Hecklers stole the show, but not in a way they could have ever imagined. What was amazing was watching people who’ve been victimized and traumatized by racism turn the other cheek as a handful of haters did their best to try to provoke violence.   [Read more…]

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Ignored by Comic-Con Barrio Logan Creates Its Own

By Brent E. Beltrán

Barrio Logan, located less than a mile from the convention center, has been mostly left out of Comic-Con over the years. Comic-Con International recently bought a building at 16th and National in Barrio Logan. Yet no official events are scheduled to take place here.

There’s not even a shuttle bus stop yet there will be Comic-Con buses running every twenty minutes down Cesar Chavez Parkway heading towards the freeway. And there will also be countless attendees using this community as a parking lot to escape the outrageous parking fees.

Yet no official activities take place here. No outreach has been done to incorporate a low income, mostly  Latino community impacted every year by Comic-Con. And that is unfortunate.   [Read more…]

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Racial ‘Neighborhood Gap’ Fuels Social, Economic Inequality

Stanford research found that ‘black and Hispanic families effectively need much higher incomes than white families to live in comparably affluent neighborhoods’

By Deidre Fulton / Common Dreams

Persistent and troubling patterns of racial segregation in U.S. communities are constraining upward mobility for black and Hispanic families, according to new research from the Stanford Graduate School of Education.

The study, published in the July issue of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, found that “Black and Hispanic children and families are doubly disadvantaged—both economically and contextually—relative to white and Asian families,” due to residential segregation and the racial and socioeconomic disparities that come as a result.

According to a press release, the research found that “black and Hispanic families effectively need much higher incomes than white families to live in comparably affluent neighborhoods.”   [Read more…]

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Anti-Vaxxers’ Tactics Fail to Sway Legislature

By Doug Porter

Gov. Jerry Brown signed off yesterday on legislation giving California one of the most far-reaching vaccination laws in the nation. Religious and personal-belief exemptions for schoolchildren will be phased out, starting next year.

Getting this bill passed turned out to be a major political battle. The combination of paranoia about government (on the right) and corporate greed (on the left) mixed with a solid dash of unfounded health concerns ended up being a recipe for political passion rarely seen on the legislative floor.

The anti-vaxxers, as they are popularly called, viewed this legislation as a battle for the lives of their children and the liberties of the nation. They’ve indicated that litigation will be their next step.   [Read more…]

Screenshot courtesy of The Tribe / Youtube

Why Bree Newsome’s Action Was the “Amazing Grace” I Needed

She showed us that we liberate ourselves through our actions. She reminded us, in the midst of deep sorrow, that we, who want to see a better America, must keep living, fighting, breathing, doing.

By Tanya Steele /YES! Magazine

On Friday, June 24, I turned on my television to watch the funeral for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, one of the nine people shot dead at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina.

President Obama sang “Amazing Grace” at a time when many in the nation are mourning not only for the lost lives of the Emanuel 9, but the loss of black life that is stitched into the fabric of this country.

I have heard “Amazing Grace” many times in my life. Black Americans singing, in moments of deep despair, is too familiar. I did not need to hear those sounds at this moment in our history.I needed something, but that was not it.   [Read more…]

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For Hundreds of Families, There’s No Place Like Home in San Diego

By Jeeni Criscenzo del Rio

I had just returned from a 3-hour forum on options for housing homeless people. The Amikas phone was ringing and I rushed to answer it while flinging the handouts and brochures from the event onto my desk. The hopeful but timid voice on the other end of the call sounded all too familiar. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t make out her name, I already knew her story and why she was calling Amikas.

Although our agency closed the last of our residential programs last month, there are still listings for us throughout the county and I’m still getting calls like this one. This woman found our card tacked on the bulletin board at the LGBT Community Center and thought we would be the answer to her prayers. She is seven months pregnant and has two kids, 6 and 7 years old. She’s been homeless for six months.   [Read more…]

Jason Paguio

The Rising Star of Chula Vista: Jason Paguio

By Barbara Zaragosa / South Bay Compass

The town of Chula Vista, California happens to be home to the World Champion Drum Major, Jason Paguio. He’s the only Filipino-American to have run for city council (at the age of 28), he’s a current policy advisor to councilmember Steve Miesen, and he operates two non-profit organizations as well as a small for-profit business.

Jason has so many pots bubbling that San Diego Business Journal gave him the 2014 Emerging Generation: 25 in their 20’s award.

I sat down and talked with Jason and you’ll soon see why I call him the rising star of Chula Vista.   [Read more…]

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Humble Heart Thrift Store: Thrift, Coffee, Love

By Avital Aboody

The Humble Heart Thrift Store will be celebrating its 5th birthday on August 10, 2015. Five years ago, Michael Modrow Jr. was laid off from his job as a manager at Midas where he had worked for seven years. To get by, he started doing yard sales at his home, selling off a handful of personal things that he had collected over the years. Mike is an active member of his church. Upon hearing about Mike’s situation, the church offered to give Mike permission to sell the variety of donated items that weren’t a good fit for distribution to the homeless, such as furniture.   [Read more…]

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Report: Border Patrol Union Officials Working with Hate Groups

By Doug Porter

A newly released report from the Center for a New Community (CNC) says there is a systemic pattern of behind-the-scenes collusion between officials of unions associated with the Border Patrol and prominent anti-immigrant hate groups.

Last year’s protests in Murrieta, California are cited in “Blurring Borders: Collusion between Anti-Immigrant Groups and Immigration Enforcement Agents” as an example of Border Patrol agents coordinating with anti-immigrant forces. On July 1st, 2014, anti-immigrant activists used civil disobedience to block federal buses carrying refugee women and children to a Border Patrol processing center.   [Read more…]

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Student Loan Default a Growing Trend?

By John Lawrence

With over a trillion dollars in outstanding student loans, young college graduates are being forced to take jobs they hate in order to pay them back. Their futures consist of debt peonage for as far as the eye can see. Some are opting out of a lifetime of death-in-debtorhood and choosing instead to start over living the life that they foresaw when they enrolled in college in the first place. Such a one is Lee Siegle whose June 6 opinion piece in the New York Times laid out his rational for defaulting on his student loan.

His decision was made based on choosing life over death …   [Read more…]

A Mylar balloon similar to this one led to a sequence of events that shut down the Indian Point nuke plant.

Nuclear Shutdown News – June 2015: Balloon Shuts Down Troubled Indian Point Plant

By Michael Steinberg / Black Rain Press

Nuclear Shutdown News chronicles the continuing decline of the US nuclear industry, and the efforts of those who are working to bring about a nuclear free future. As US nukes increasingly approach or surpass their 40 year lives, they are becoming more qnd more dangerous and outdated. They need to be shut down and replaced with renewable energy sources—now!

1. Balloon Shuts Down Indian Point Plant

On June 16 the New York state The Journal News reported, “a balloon tangled in electrical wires led to a sequence of events resulting in the shutdown of the Indian Point nuclear plant,” which is located 35 miles up the Hudson River from New York City.   [Read more…]

Assemblywoman Gonzalez with Paid Sick Leave supporters at rally  Photo by Rich Kacmar

Paid Sick Leave for California Workers Starts This Week

By Francine Busby / San Diego Democratic Party

We’ve all been sick. I have been flattened by illnesses that have rendered me completely useless. I have had to miss work to stay home with a sick child when they can barely get out of bed, let alone function in a classroom. I have received those dreaded phone calls informing me of a family member with a medical emergency. Sometimes life just gets in the way, and our health or the health of our families has to take priority.

When we think of man’s inhumanity to man, we don’t usually think of employees who risk losing wages or even a job if they are too sick to go work or if they need to care for a sick child. At the moment, 40 million workers (38% of the American workforce) lack any paid sick leave, according to a study by the Center for American Progress. The United States is the only developed country in the world without laws requiring access to paid sick leave.

But we’re making progress. On July 1, California will join the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts in guaranteeing paid sick leave.   [Read more…]

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Murrieta, the Town Without Pity, Remembered One Year Later

By Doug Porter

Latino and Human Rights activists are returning to Murrieta, California on July 1st to commemorate the anniversary of a historic confrontation that laid bare the racism in Southern California for the world to see.

It was one year ago self-styled patriots, acting on rumors and innuendo, blockaded busloads of refugee women and children from Central America on their way to a Border Patrol processing center. The angry anti-immigrant protesters, seen on TV news across the country chanting of “Go home!’ and “We don’t want you!,” were tacitly encouraged by local authorities. (It was the local police who actually stopped the buses)   [Read more…]

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Protecting Mauna Kea: “We Are Satisfied With The Stones”

Editor’s note: Contributor Will Falk has been working and living with protesters on Mauna Kea who are attempting to block construction of an 18-story astronomical observatory with an Extremely Large Telescope (ELT).  Opposition in Hawaii to the building of the telescope is based on concerns about potential disruption to the fragile alpine environment and the fact that Mauna Kea is a sacred site for the Native Hawaiian culture.  On June 24th, agents with the Department of Land and Natural Resources abandoned an attempt to escort construction workers to the proposed location after discovering the only road up the mountain was not navigable.  

By Will Falk

The pohaku stopped the Thirty Meter Telescope construction last Wednesday. They began appearing on the Mauna Kea Access Road like raindrops. First, they were sprinkled lightly underfoot. A small rock here. A larger one there. The cops cussed and swore as they tried to remove them from the path of their seemingly unstoppable paddy wagons.

As the cops ascended, washing over the lines of Mauna Kea Protectors standing in their way, small piles grew into a drizzle of stones formed in the gathering fog. Then, the pohaku became a downpour. Looking up the road half-a-mile, I saw heavy boulders standing up, marching to meet us, making it impossible for the TMT construction crews and their police escort to climb any higher.   [Read more…]

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Poetry at a Budget Meeting

By Ernie McCray

I had the honor of spending a day with a room full of progressive School Board Members from around San Diego County.

I wasn’t so sure, at first, as the subject was: Budgets. Whenever I got my budget sheets at my schools, it might as well have been expressed in hieroglyphics – I just can’t relate to language like “Total Available Funds minus Total Outgo.” Gives me vertigo.

I was there, though, to kick things off. And in doing that I shared three poems and one went like this:

Our schools now,
at this stage
of a rapidly aging New Century,
are about to introduce
our kids
to the realm of Ethnic Studies…   [Read more…]

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Summer Chronicles #2: That Music You Are Hearing

By Jim Miller

Gary Snyder is a courage teacher. His fine new book of poems, This Present Moment, is a meditation on wonder and impermanence. In it, for instance, we learn to value our laptops “Because whole worlds of writing can be boldly laid out and then highlighted/and vanish in the flash at ‘delete,’/so it teaches of impermanence and pain.”

And it’s true, the miracle of creation that comes out of “a formless face/which is our Original Face,” but as soon as the words are formed the self who made them is no longer there.

Still there is beauty, and moments of grace are there to be found and cherished in “the morning and night coming together,” the “glacier scrapes across the bedrock,” and “the deep dense woods.” You just need to follow “the shining way of the wild” and “hang in, work it out, watch for the moment.”   [Read more…]

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Looking Back at the Week: June 21-27

Compiled 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: a dumb idea to link Balboa Park and Downtown, Dems defecting on TPP, hateful flags, victory in SCOTUS on Obamacare and gay marriage, “The Black Problem,” Falk’s war coverage in Hawaii, white privilege, home grown terror, the takeover of Chicano Park, border boundary monuments, Frye calling for a “massive river park,” Mission Bay restoration, SD’s homeless food fight, and lots of other grassroots news & progressive views.   [Read more…]

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The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: From Empowerment to Direct Action in the Barrio!

The Plan de Santa Bárbara and the take-over of Chicano Park set the stage for the occupation of Neighborhood House

The 1960s brought many changes to Logan Heights that reflected the social convulsions unleashed by the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement nationally. Urban renewal policies brought freeways and massive displacement to Logan Heights. Generations of Mexican Americans in the community had indeed become “Americanized” and had their own vision of what constitutes a Great Society. They were demanding positions of leadership in every aspect of their social and political life.

And Neighborhood House was changing too. Last week’s interview with Irma Castro, who went to work at Neighborhood House in 1961, provided a glimpse into some of the changes.   [Read more…]

Jill Stein at an Occupy Wall Street demonstration in 2012.

Under Green Party Banner, Jill Stein Officially Sets Sights on 2016

Power to the People Plan ‘would end unemployment and poverty; avert climate catastrophe; build a sustainable, just economy; and recognize the dignity and human rights of everyone in our society’

By Deidre Fulton / Commom Dreams

Vowing to combat the “converging crises” of racism, militarism, climate change, and “extreme materialism,” Dr. Jill Stein announced this week that she is running for president of the United States as a Green Party candidate.

In a campaign kick-off speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Stein laid out the major planks of her platform, …   [Read more…]

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A More Perfect Union: Let’s Just Call it “Marriage” Now

“They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling Friday morning was a historic victory for gay rights. The majority said the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live.

This decision is the culmination of two decades of Supreme Court litigation over marriage, and gay rights generally, with Justice Anthony Kennedy writing the majority opinion, just as he did in three other major gay rights cases dating back to 1996.

As is true with any major shift in the political and social landscape, there are winners and losers. Today we’ll look at some of those reactions…
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Momentum Mounting for 2016 California Marijuana Measure

By Phillip Smith /  AlterNet 

On June 14, more than 200 people gathered at the Sebastopol Grange for a fundraiser and organizing meeting of  local pot growers, the Sonoma County Growers Association. They were being mentored by their northern neighbors from Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity counties, the Emerald Growers Association, which already has lobbyists in Sacramento and is in the middle of the effort to legalize weed in California next year. The Emerald Triangle is the largest marijuana growing area in the country’s largest marijuana producing state.

Two days later, more than a hundred people met in a conference room at the Oakland Marriot City Center to plot the intricacies of producing a statewide marijuana legalization initiative. For several hours, attendees—dispensary operators and employees, small growers, not-so-small growers, patients, consumers, interested citizens, even a nun—offered their input on a rapid-fire but seemingly endless array of issues related to legalization and how it should occur.   [Read more…]

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The Disappearing Joshua Trees of Joshua Tree National Park

By Susan Grigsby / Daily Kos

In April of this year, a small group of scientists from Joshua Tree National Park and the University of California Riverside’s Center for Conservation Biology, joined by volunteers from Earthwatch, spread out across the national park to count and measure the plants, insects, reptiles, and animals they found within each of the 27 22-acre plots.They were looking to create a baseline against which the future death of desert species can be measured. Why? Because the modeling done thus far indicates the possible loss of 90 percent of the habitat of Joshua trees within the national park named after them. It is getting hot out here.   [Read more…]