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Thumbnail image for The Best Reporting on Guns in America

The Best Reporting on Guns in America

by Source 12.20.2014 Gun Control

By Blair Hickman, Hanqing Chen, Cora Currier, Lois Beckett and Suevon Lee / ProPublica

Are Mass Shootings Increasing? Depends on How You Count Them

Criminologists have made the same point again and again: the number of mass shootings in America is not increasing. Experts told the Los Angeles Times that mass shootings represent only a small fraction of the annual deaths due to gun violence, and that police data indicate that the overall count of mass shootings per year has not shown any significant increase over time. This conclusion is based on the FBI’s broad definition of a mass murder: four or more people murdered in the same incident, typically in the same location.

But what if you focused just on shootings “in which the motive appeared to be indiscriminate mass murder”? Mother Jones decided to track the number of high-profile attacks in public places excluding armed robberies, gang shootings and domestic violence murders that happened within a home. Using this different definition—a controversial choice—Mother Jones concluded mass shootings are on the rise.

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Thumbnail image for The Horrifying Banality of Mass Shootings in America: 3 Shocking Facts About Gun Violence

The Horrifying Banality of Mass Shootings in America: 3 Shocking Facts About Gun Violence

by Source 12.19.2014 Gun Control

By Allegra Kirkland / AlterNet

By now, the cycle is familiar. One morning the news will light up with reports of a lone gunman wreaking havoc in a public place or a relative’s home. For days, left-wing politicians and grieving families will plead for common-sense gun control legislation, even as conservatives and NRA reps make their usual “gun’s don’t kill people, people do” stump speeches. Then, as quickly as the tragedy entered the public consciousness, it falls off the radar, forgotten until the next mass shooting occurs.

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

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

by Source 12.18.2014 Gun Control

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

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

by Source 12.18.2014 Activism

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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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 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 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 State Department Selected Chevron as Finalist for “Corporate Excellence” Award

State Department Selected Chevron as Finalist for “Corporate Excellence” Award

by Source 12.11.2014 Activism

By Dan Bacher

It’s hard to believe, but the Obama administration recently selected Chevron, the San Ramon-based corporate giant known for environmental destruction and the violation of human rights throughout the world, as a finalist for its “corporate excellence” award!

According to a State Department press release, “The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs has announced the selection of nine finalists for the Secretary of State’s prestigious 2014 Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE).”

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Thumbnail image for Republican Megadonors Seek to ‘Clear the Field’ for a Single Preferred Candidate

Republican Megadonors Seek to ‘Clear the Field’ for a Single Preferred Candidate

by Source 12.10.2014 Economy

By Hunter / Daily Kos

This makes perfect sense. Republican megadonors dominate what’s left of “establishment” Republicanism and damn it, they’re tired of writing checks that they shouldn’t have to write.

Dozens of the Republican Party’s leading presidential donors and fund-raisers have begun privately discussing how to clear the field for a single establishment candidate to carry the party’s banner in 2016, fearing that a prolonged primary would bolster Hillary Rodham Clinton, the likely Democratic candidate.

The conversations, described in interviews with a variety of the Republican Party’s most sought-after donors, are centered on the three potential candidates who have the largest existing base of major contributors and overlapping ties to the top tier of those who are uncommitted: Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and Mitt Romney.

If more than one of those “establishment” candidates runs, wealthy Republicans will have to choose which of them to support, meaning various wealthy Republicans will pick different sides, and then those candidates will be forced to battle it out in the primaries with gobs of millionaire cash.

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Thumbnail image for Obama’s Plan for Better Policing: The Good, the Bad, and the Body Cameras

Obama’s Plan for Better Policing: The Good, the Bad, and the Body Cameras

by Source 12.10.2014 Courts, Justice

By Nadia Kayyali / Electronic Frontier Foundation Deep Links Blog

You may be shocked to hear that EFF doesn’t think technology is a solution to every problem. That includes problems with the police and with public safety. And, as we’ve pointed out when it comes to drones and other types of local surveillance, we think adoption of new technology requires communities to understand and discuss the pros and cons.

That’s why we think President Obama’s announcement last week about federal assistance to local law enforcement was a little lackluster.

The President made it clear that he plans to leave largely untouched the controversial programs that funnel military equipment and surveillance technology to communities like Ferguson, and fund programs like fusion centers.

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Thumbnail image for Mentally Ill People Often Face Violence From Police—But These Cities Are Trying to Fix That

Mentally Ill People Often Face Violence From Police—But These Cities Are Trying to Fix That

by Source 12.05.2014 Culture

Crisis Intervention Teams train police officers to understand mental illness without resorting to violence.

By Daniel Ross / Yes! Magazine

Brandy Brown was in her kitchen when she heard the gunshots.

“I thought it was fireworks at first. But I looked outside and I saw a police car down the street. My first instinct was to get my nephew inside the house,” she said.

Brown shepherded her 4-year-old nephew inside her apartment in South Central Los Angeles before going to investigate, which is when she discovered that her friend Ezell Ford had been shot and killed by police.

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Thumbnail image for Amid Receipt of ‘Alternative Nobel,’ McKibben Donates Prize Money to 350.org, Steps Down as Chair

Amid Receipt of ‘Alternative Nobel,’ McKibben Donates Prize Money to 350.org, Steps Down as Chair

by Source 12.05.2014 Activism

“Don’t worry,” author and activist assured members. “I’ll still be there when the time comes to go to jail, or to march in the streets, or to celebrate the next big win on divestment.”

By Jon Queally / Common Dreams

In a letter on Tuesday morning sent from Stockholm, Sweden—where on Monday night he accepted a Right Livelihood Award on behalf of himself and the climate action group 350.org—the journalist turned activist Bill McKibben announced that in addition to donating the prize money to the group he co-founded with former students, he will also be stepping down as chair of the organization’s board of directors.

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Thumbnail image for Two Guatemalan Teens Explain Why They Traveled 2500 Miles, Without Their Parents, To America

Two Guatemalan Teens Explain Why They Traveled 2500 Miles, Without Their Parents, To America

by Source 12.04.2014 Immigration

By Esther Yu-His Lee / ThinkProgress

In August SDFP Editorial Board member and Desde la Logan columnist Brent E. Beltrán interviewed Logan Heights restaurateur Mark Lane about death threats he faced for taking in a refugee family from Guatamala. This ThinkProgress article gives an update on the status of that family.

These two Guatemalan brothers can play soccer now. There aren’t gang members waiting to grab them out on the playing field. They are less likely to witness shootings now. They likely won’t get beat up on their way to school. And the death threats — the reason they ran in the first place — are 2,500 miles away. But the stability they sought, the security two host families have provided, may not last.

The 15 and 16-year-old brothers, M.C. and D.C., were among the wave of 68,445 Latin American children and parents, who arrived at America’s southern border this year. Like many others, they said that they fled Guatemala to escape gang violence. It took them a month to make the journey on foot, by train, then bus, before they surrendered at the Tijuana port of entry, a vibrant border city that abuts the border wall along San Diego County. After 20 days in an immigration detention center, the pair were released with three other family members to a host family. Although ThinkProgress is unable to verify the details of their journey, M.C. and D.C. were thrust into the national spotlight when one of two host families that took them in began receiving death threats by anti-immigrant extremists for their hospitality. Now, nearly five months on, the media attention and threats have ebbed away. While the host family has returned to a life resembling cautious normalcy in this coastal San Diego suburb, the Guatemalan teens have only just begun to navigate the complications of being undocumented with the uncertainty of an impending immigration court decision.

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Thumbnail image for El Machete Illustrated’s Eric J. Garcia Cuts Through the Bull$#!+

El Machete Illustrated’s Eric J. Garcia Cuts Through the Bull$#!+

by Source 12.04.2014 Cartoons

An interview with the political cartoonist 

By Angelo Lopez
/ Everyday Citizen

This interview by artist and blogger Angelo Lopez features cartoonist Eric J. Garcia whose El Machete Illustrated cartoons are published regularly here at San Diego Free Press.

One of the best most incisive political cartoonists working today is Eric J. Garcia. His cartoon El Machete Illustrated offers a sharp and incisive critique of America’s economic and political system, especially the way these systems oppress the poor and immigrant communities. Eric began creating cartoons while serving in the U.S. Air Force, making fun of the military. He completed his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he won numerous awards to include, 1st Place College Cartoonist Award for both the New Mexico and Illinois College Associated Press competition. Eric’s work can be seen in many national and international publications and online news networks such as In These Times, Hoy Newspaper, and The Black Commentator.

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Thumbnail image for When Your Hopes are Rejected: Life After the Public Lynching of Eric Garner

When Your Hopes are Rejected: Life After the Public Lynching of Eric Garner

by Source 12.04.2014 Activism

By Shaun King / Daily Kos

It has been my public and private view for months that Eric Garner’s death was a modern day lynching. The recent decision by a Staten Island grand jury not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in his death only further solidifies this reality.

After officers were cleared in the deaths of John Crawford, Mike Brown, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Ramarley Graham, Kendrec McDade, and so many others, I will confess, forever the optimist, that I still fully believed in my heart and mind that Daniel Pantaleo would be indicted for killing Eric Garner.

Choke holds have been banned by the NYPD since 1993.

The video of Eric Garner being choked to death and saying 11 times that he couldn’t breathe was seen by millions.

His death was ruled a homicide.

Because the entire encounter was recorded, nobody could say that Eric Garner was violent or threatened to run. Neither happened.

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Thumbnail image for Chicago set to raise minimum wage to $13

Chicago set to raise minimum wage to $13

by Source 12.04.2014 Activism

By Laura Clawson / Daily Kos

Chicago is likely to be the next city to raise its minimum wage, with its city council voting Tuesday on an increase supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel:

The mayor’s revised minimum wage ordinance would raise the hourly minimum wage in Chicago each year in July, starting with an increase to $10 next year. It would then go up to $10.50 in 2016, $11 in 2017, $12 in 2018, and $13 in 2019.After 2019, the city’s minimum wage would go up each year at a rate equal to the rise in the Consumer Price Index.

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Thumbnail image for How Boundaries Separating White School Districts From Nonwhite Communities Are Becoming Flashpoints

How Boundaries Separating White School Districts From Nonwhite Communities Are Becoming Flashpoints

by Source 12.03.2014 Education

By Robert Reich

America is embroiled in an immigration debate that goes far beyond President Obama’s executive order on undocumented immigrants.

It goes to the heart of who “we” are. And it’s roiling communities across the nation.

In early November, school officials in Orinda, California, hired a private detective to determine whether a seven-year-old Latina named Vivian – whose single mother works as a live-in nanny for a family in Orinda — “resides” in the district and should therefore be allowed to attend the elementary school she’s already been attending there.

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Thumbnail image for To Counter Rise of Oligarchy, Sanders Pitches Progressive Economic Vision

To Counter Rise of Oligarchy, Sanders Pitches Progressive Economic Vision

by Source 12.03.2014 Business

Amid speculation over 2016 presidential run, senator from Vermont lays out 12-step plan to combat 40-year decline of middle class and rampant inequality

By Jon Queally / Common Dreams

In a speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday morning, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced his vision for a progressive economic agenda that he says could restore shared prosperity, reinvigorate the middle class, and mitigate a host of social crises that stem from the current system that has created great wealth for a select few while systematically eroding the quality of life for the many.

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Thumbnail image for Erin Brockovich Slams Oil Industry’s Use of Unlined Disposal Pits

Erin Brockovich Slams Oil Industry’s Use of Unlined Disposal Pits

by Source 12.02.2014 Business

By Dan Bacher / Daily Kos

Erin Brockovich, the legal clerk and environmental activist who was instrumental in building a case against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company in 1993 for its contamination of drinking water in the Southern California town of Hinkley, is speaking out against the use of unlined pits to dispose of the massive volumes of wastewater produced by oil and gas companies conducting fracking and other oil extraction methods in the Central Valley.

On her Facebook page, she points out the irony of the oil companies employing this environmentally unsound practice that threatens precious groundwater and surface water supplies during the time of a historic drought in California:

“I am thankful California has so much water to spare it can just waste it in our oil fields.  

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Thumbnail image for Tiny Home Village for Homeless Opens in Wisconsin

Tiny Home Village for Homeless Opens in Wisconsin

by Source 11.29.2014 Activism

By Jen Hayden / Daily Kos

Out of the Occupy Madison protests a cool idea was hatched: Building 98-square-foot homes for those without. The homes have a bed, kitchen, bathroom, storage and propane heat. Future residents take part in building the homes.

The homes cost just $3,000 to construct, most of it funded by community donations. A revolving crew of volunteers provided the labor, including Betty Ybarra. Previously homeless, she now resides in the home she helped construct. “It’s exciting. I’ve never even owned my own house,” Ybarra told WMTV

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Thumbnail image for How to Spot a Fake Online Review

How to Spot a Fake Online Review

by Source 11.29.2014 Culture

By Oliver James

With online shopping becoming more and more popular, it’s important to be able to navigate the reviews, comments and information attached to online sales pages. This article will give you some basic information to help you tell the difference between a fake and real review online.

It’s no surprise that companies and online retailers like Amazon have their fair share of fake reviews, both positive and negative. With 90% of Yelp users saying that a positive review influences their choices, business are scrambling to get a positive reputation online. Here’s how you can tell the difference between a fake and a real review.

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Thumbnail image for Time to Learn the Lessons of Failed U.S. Wars

Time to Learn the Lessons of Failed U.S. Wars

by Source 11.25.2014 Activism

By Gerry Condon, Vice President, Veterans For Peace / Veterans for Peace

As a Vietnam era veteran, I paid close attention to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s Veterans Day speech, delivered at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. Secretary Hagel, a Vietnam combat veteran, declared that we must learn the lessons of past wars, and not commit U.S. troops to unpopular, unwinnable conflicts. He purportedly referred to the Vietnam War, but he could just as easily have been describing the U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The U.S. government and military apparently have misled themselves as they were misleading the American people, claiming that these occupations were necessary, had clear objectives and were winnable. As in Vietnam, they lied about their progress in Iraq and Afghanistan. There was light at the end of the tunnel, we were told, if only we allowed one more “surge.”

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Thumbnail image for UCSD Administration Plans Ché Café Eviction Over Thanksgiving?

UCSD Administration Plans Ché Café Eviction Over Thanksgiving?

by Source 11.24.2014 Activism

Ché Café Media Advisory

On Wednesday, November 19, UCSD administrators decided to seek a writ of possession to enforce an earlier unlawful detainer judgment and evict the Ché Café Cooperative and any students from the café space it has continuously occupied for over 34 years. Despite a resolution by the UCSD Associated Students Council (AS) asking the Chancellor to not proceed with posting a 5-day notice to vacate, and 14,000-signature petitions and open letters demanding that UCSD stop the eviction actions against the Ché Café, delivered to the Chancellor earlier this month, action by the administration to evict the Ché Café continues rather than negotiations for a new lease agreement with the Co-op.

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Thumbnail image for ‘Outrageous': Ferguson Organizers say State of Emergency Violates Laws, Thwarts Civil Liberties

‘Outrageous': Ferguson Organizers say State of Emergency Violates Laws, Thwarts Civil Liberties

by Source 11.24.2014 Activism

Governor’s declaration ‘only threatens to stir up tensions and denigrate the peaceful efforts of countless non-violent activists’

By Nadia Prupis / Common Dreams

In the wake of Governor Jay Nixon’s Monday afternoon declaration of a state of emergency in Missouri, activists and civil rights groups are speaking out against a move they say threatens the civil rights of protesters on the ground in Ferguson.

Nixon’s announcement, which came ahead of the grand jury’s decision in the police shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, is “both premature in its application and presumptuous in [its] intention to the hundreds of peaceful demonstrators who have embraced their Constitutional right to protest,” said NAACP president William Brooks.

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