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Thumbnail image for How to Hack City Money: Let 16 Year Olds Vote on Budgets, Get Banks to Invest Locally

How to Hack City Money: Let 16 Year Olds Vote on Budgets, Get Banks to Invest Locally

by Source 01.28.2015 Culture

In California and Ohio, two city governments are entrusting their citizens with budgeting and rewarding banks for valuing local communities.

By Shannan Stoll / Yes!

1. Participatory budgeting where any resident age 16 and up can vote
in: Vallejo, Calif.

Just over one year after emerging from bankruptcy, the city of Vallejo, Calif., put its budgeting process into the hands of its residents. From October 2012 to early 2013, Vallejo citizens gathered in senior centers, elementary schools, and other public spaces to decide how to spend more than $3 million of their city’s tax dollars. The process, called participatory budgeting, began in Brazil in 1989 and has since spread to more than 1,500 cities worldwide. In the United States, the process first rooted in neighborhood districts in Chicago and New York City. Vallejo is the first place in the country to implement the process citywide.

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Thumbnail image for Junipero Serra: Canonizing the Colonizers

Junipero Serra: Canonizing the Colonizers

by Source 01.28.2015 Culture

By Eric Loomis / Lawyers, Guns & Money (LGM)

Pope Francis has decided to make Junipero Serra a saint. Serra was a Franciscan in California who founded many of the California missions in the 18th century, effectively making him an agent of colonization as well as a converter of Native Americans to Catholicism.

Building these missions meant forced labor from Native Americans while the conversion process obviously demonstrated a lack of respect for indigenous cultures as well as the compulsion of these conversions. Physical abuse of Native Americans was common, with many recorded beatings and whippings. A lot of indigenous people in California are very upset about the choice to canonize Serra.

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Thumbnail image for Your Home Is Your Prison

Your Home Is Your Prison

by Source 01.28.2015 Activism

How to Lock Down Your Neighborhood, Your Country, and You

By Maya Schenwar / TomDispatch

On January 27th, domestic violence survivor Marissa Alexander will walk out of Florida’s Duval County jail — but she won’t be free.

Alexander, whose case has gained some notoriety, endured three years of jail time and a year of house arrest while fighting off a prison sentence that would have seen her incarcerated for the rest of her life — all for firing a warning shot that injured no one to fend off her abusive husband. Like many black women before her, Alexander was framed as a perpetrator in a clear case of self-defense. In November, as her trial date drew close, Alexander accepted a plea deal that will likely give her credit for time served, requiring her to spend “just” 65 more days in jail. Media coverage of the development suggested that Alexander would soon have her “freedom,” that she would be “coming home.”

Many accounts of the plea deal, however, missed what Alexander will be coming home to: she’ll return to “home detention” — house arrest — for two years.

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Thumbnail image for Ed Harris: Don’t Rush the Belmont Park Lease

Ed Harris: Don’t Rush the Belmont Park Lease

by Source 01.26.2015 Government

by Ed Harris /OB Rag

Last year during my State of the District Address I called upon District Two residents to monitor and weigh in on development projects that came forward but were not resolved while I was in office. One such project is the Belmont Park lease extension. For a primer on the issue you can read an article I wrote about it in September of 2014.

While I was the Councilmember for District Two, it was my duty to protect the taxpayer’s money. When it came to the Belmont Park lease extension, I asked City staff two simple questions: How does the lease extension benefit the taxpayer and how much more will the City make if it extends a lease from 25 years to 55 years? I never received satisfactory answers to either question.

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Thumbnail image for The American Sniper As Hero

The American Sniper As Hero

by Source 01.24.2015 Culture

By FDRDemocrat/ Daily Kos

The controversy over the movie American Sniper has predictably reopened the divide among many Americans over the Iraq War.  What is more interesting is how the choice made by director Clint Eastwood to choose a sniper as a heroic archetype unravels classic notions of what is considered heroism.

The concept of heroism has been with humanity since the beginning.  At it’s heart it contains a common thread where the hero (or heroine) risks themselves for the sake of others.

How then to adapt the heroic archetype to the profession of sniper?  This is no easy task.

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Thumbnail image for Slamming Science: Pat Robertson Claims Evolution Is To Blame For Lack Of Miracles In America

Slamming Science: Pat Robertson Claims Evolution Is To Blame For Lack Of Miracles In America

by Source 01.23.2015 Culture

By Simon Brown / Americans United

TV preacher Pat Robertson might be the king of the head scratchers, and he unleashed another whopper recently when he claimed that God performs fewer miracles in the United States because of our widespread belief in evolution.

For some reason Robertson still has a television show, and on Monday a viewer named “Ken” asked him why “amazing miracles (people raised from the dead, blind eyes open, lame people walking) happen with great frequency in places like Africa, and not here in the USA?”

I was unaware that people are being routinely raised from the dead in African nations, but let’s play along for a bit with Pat here.

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Thumbnail image for On Roe vs. Wade Anniversary, GOP House Passes Vicious Assault on Women’s Right to Choose

On Roe vs. Wade Anniversary, GOP House Passes Vicious Assault on Women’s Right to Choose

by Source 01.23.2015 Economy

Reproductive rights advocates say legislation would cause entire insurance market to drop abortion coverage while raising taxes on small businesses

By Deirdre Fulton / Common Dreams

On the 42nd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, which affirms a woman’s Constitutional right to an abortion, House Republicans passed a far-reaching anti-choice bill that women’s health advocates say would cause the entire insurance market to drop abortion coverage while raising taxes on small business who provide comprehensive health care to their employees.

After pulling a more extreme anti-abortion bill at the last minute due to intra-party dissent, the GOP on Thursday voted 242-179 in favor of alternative legislation sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) that restricts federal funds for abortion.

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Thumbnail image for Three Ideas for Inclusive Cities: How Raleigh, Seattle, and Others Are Bringing Everyone Into the Fold

Three Ideas for Inclusive Cities: How Raleigh, Seattle, and Others Are Bringing Everyone Into the Fold

by Source 01.21.2015 Activism

From city-issued ID cards to open-source data anyone can access, simple urban innovations are creating more transparent and equitable cities.

by Shannan Stoll / Yes!

1. City ID cards for everyone who needs one.

While immigration policy is contested on the national stage, many local governments are taking steps to improve the lives of the undocumented people living and working in their communities.

From Los Angeles to New Haven, 11 cities across the country have instituted municipal ID programs. Now New York, a city with an estimated half-million undocumented immigrants, is preparing to launch the country’s largest program in January 2015.

With the new city IDs, New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, will be able to apply for a job or library card, access health services, sign a lease, or file a police report.

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Thumbnail image for Richest 1% Percent To Have More Than Rest of Humanity Combined

Richest 1% Percent To Have More Than Rest of Humanity Combined

by Source 01.21.2015 Business

New Oxfam report shows the scale of global inequality is ‘simply staggering’

by Jon Queally / Common Dreams

In less than two years, if current trends continued unchecked, the richest 1% percent of people on the planet will own at least half of the world’s wealth.

That’s the conclusion of a new report from Oxfam International, released Monday, which states that the rate of global inequality is not only morally obscene, but an existential threat to the economies of the world and the very survival of the planet. Alongside climate change, Oxfam says that spiraling disparity between the super-rich and everyone else, is brewing disaster for humanity as a whole.

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Thumbnail image for Taking Back the Streets and Their Stories, Thousands Reclaim MLK Day

Taking Back the Streets and Their Stories, Thousands Reclaim MLK Day

by Source 01.20.2015 Activism

In year that saw renewed calls for racial justice, over 50 nationwide demonstrations held to ‘desanitize’ the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King

By Lauren McCauley / Common Dreams

Thousands of people took to the streets on Monday rebuking what they say is the “sanitized” version of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and calling to restore the legacy of a man whose protests, like their own, were never “convenient.”

The nationwide actions marked the birthday of the civil rights leader in a year that saw renewed calls for racial justice in the face of persistent inequality, discrimination, and police targeting of communities of color.

Capping off almost a week of demonstrations, organizational meetings, and other pledges of resistance—all done with the intent to “Reclaim MLK”—grassroots coalition Ferguson Action issued a specific call for Monday: “Do as Martin Luther King would have done and resist the war on Black Lives with civil disobedience and direct action. Take the streets, shut it down, walk, march,  and whatever you do, take action.”

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Thumbnail image for Yes, All White People Are Racists — Now Let’s Do Something About It

Yes, All White People Are Racists — Now Let’s Do Something About It

by Source 01.19.2015 Culture

The first step to ending racism is acknowledging that most of us harbor “implicit bias,” whether we realize it or not

By Tim Donovan / AlterNet

As Americans, we like to think of ourselves as a forgiving people. We’ve enshrined the assumption of innocence in our legal code; we take pride in giving second chances to those who misstep. And when it comes to questions of bias, we follow a similar script. In American life, no one is presumed racist without cause.

People generally become racists in our minds by engaging in actions or deeds we’ve deemed as such (paging Steve Scalise). But what if that perception is inherently wrong? What if Americans — of all races, but especially white Americans — don’t deserve the benefit of our doubt?

It’s an admittedly uncomfortable question, as it puts all of us — me as I write this, you reading it, our friends, our relatives, our colleagues — under a type of scrutiny to which we’re unaccustomed. But a growing body of research suggests that this idea holds merit: Implicit racial bias undergirds our culture’s relationship with race, even as explicit displays are increasingly uncommon.

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Humans Have Brought World’s Oceans to Brink of ‘Major Extinction Event’

by Source 01.17.2015 Environment

But ‘proactive intervention’ could still avert marine disaster, researchers find

By Deirdre Fulton / Common Dreams

fish circleMarine wildlife at all levels of the food chain has been badly damaged by human activity, says a new report that urges immediate and “meaningful rehabilitation” if we are to avert mass extinction in the world’s oceans.

“We may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event,” Douglas J. McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara and an author of the study, told the New York Times.

The report, published Thursday in the journal Science, finds that habitat loss, mismanagement of oceanic resources, climate change, and the overall “footprint of human ocean use” have resulted in a phenomenon known as “defaunation”—a decline in animal species diversity and abundance.

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Thumbnail image for The War on Hen-Pecking

The War on Hen-Pecking

by Source 01.16.2015 Activism

All states should follow California’s example and make egg producers treat laying hens better.

By Jill Richardson / OtherWords

Chickens had plenty to celebrate on New Year’s Day. Supposedly.

After a long wait, California’s 2008 ballot measure to improve conditions for laying hens finally went into effect. Instead of living in cramped cages that give each bird less room than a sheet of paper, the birds are going to get enough space to lie down, stand up, stretch their wings, or turn around.

That’s still not very much space. And it’s certainly not “Chicken Disneyland” as egg producer Frank Hilliker told UT-San Diego.

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Thumbnail image for In Deep: Sea-Level Rise and San Diego

In Deep: Sea-Level Rise and San Diego

by Source 01.16.2015 Activism

Group Will Mark Off New High Water Level Mark in Chalk in Mission Beach on Monday

By Bill Avrin / San Diego 350.org

As we burn more fossil fuels, and thus pump more heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, we are changing every aspect of earth’s climate system. One of the many consequences is that the sea is rising.

On January 19, San Diego 350 will stage a simple action to help make people more aware of what rising seas mean to San Diego right now, as well as in the future. We’re going to Mission Bay, which is pretty much ground-zero for sea-level rise in our county, to mark out where the high-water line is likely to be in about thirty years. Come join us. It’s pretty striking where that line will be.

This article will give you some of the background on why this action is important. We’ll fill you in on what is causing the sea to rise, how it is likely to rise over time, and why it matters to us in San Diego.

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Thumbnail image for Boundary Monument #257

Boundary Monument #257

by Source 01.15.2015 Mexico

By Barbara Zaragoza / South Bay Compass

The boundary monuments between San Diego and Tijuana are approximately 1 mile apart. They number from 258 to 252. They are open and free for the Mexican citizens to admire, but  military landing mat hides the monuments from American citizens. Since 2008, a second wall approximately three-hundred feet away from the original military landing mat has further obscured the monuments.

Each boundary monument has its own tale. I’ve already written about 258 and 255, the most famous of all the boundary markers. In total there are 276 markers stretching from the Pacific Ocean to El Paso, Texas. Some are numbered A & B so that the original numbering from the Barlow-Blanco Commission of the 1890’s are retained. (There were originally 52. You can read all about that here.)

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Thumbnail image for Black Wealth Matters

Black Wealth Matters

by Source 01.15.2015 Economy

For generations, white households have enjoyed far greater access to wealth and security than their black counterparts.

By Chuck Collins / OtherWords

As protesters march through our cities to remind us that black lives matter, grievances about our racially fractured society extend far beyond flashpoints over police violence.

What is the state of the dream that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about, particularly as it relates to economic opportunity?

Racial inequality in earnings remains persistent. African-American workers under 35 earn only 75 cents on the dollar compared to their white contemporaries. Latinos earn only 68 cents.

Examining income alone, however, is like tracking the weather. If you want to explore the true tectonic shifts of the earth, you have to look at wealth and net worth — that is, what people own minus what they owe.

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Thumbnail image for Sharia Law Comes To England: Hide Your Infidel Children, Pets and Jam

Sharia Law Comes To England: Hide Your Infidel Children, Pets and Jam

by Source 01.14.2015 Media

By Abby  Zimet/ Common Dreams

Okay, maybe you thought Fox News really couldn’t get any lower or loonier. But life is full of surprises.

Thus did self-appointed terror expert Steve Emerson feverishly declare that Britain has no-go stealth caliphates ruled by sharia enforcers and “there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim, where non-Muslims just simply don’t go.”

In parts of London, he went on, “there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to religious Muslim attire.” Umm. Actually, Steve? Actually, Birmingham, a city of about a million, is 14% Muslim. With – need it be said? – no Sharia law in sight.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron was among those pretty surprised to hear about all this Sharia stuff; he said he was having breakfast at the time and nearly choked on his porridge. Then he proclaimed Emerson “a complete idiot.”

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Thumbnail image for Nationwide Rallies Planned as Fight over Keystone XL Reaches Pinnacle

Nationwide Rallies Planned as Fight over Keystone XL Reaches Pinnacle

by Source 01.13.2015 Activism

By Jon Queally / Common Dreams

In response to key developments related to the Keystone XL pipeline in recent days, climate activists across the U.S. have scheduled local rallies nationwide for Tuesday which they say are “critical” as a final White House determination on the project seems closer than ever.

An action alert from 350.org that went out to its members late Monday said their years-long campaign against Keystone “has been sustained by action in the streets and now we need to show that we still stand strong against this climate disaster of a project.”

On Monday night, a bill that would override presidential authority on the project moved forward in the U.S. Senate after a 63-32 cloture vote set the stage for final debate on the bill. A final vote for passage is now expected on Friday. Though there were enough votes to approve cloture, it remains unclear if the Senate can garner enough support for the bill to override a veto by President Obama, which he has vowed to do if the bill hits his desk.

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Thumbnail image for The Reality Tale of Two Education Systems: One for the Poor, and One for the Rest

The Reality Tale of Two Education Systems: One for the Poor, and One for the Rest

by Source 01.12.2015 Business

New data reveals our public—not private—school system is among the best in the world

By Paul Buchheit / AlterNet

New data reveals our public—not private—school system is among the best in the world. In fact, except for the debilitating effects of poverty, our public school system may be the best in the world.

The most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reveal that the U.S. ranked high, relative to other OECD countries, in readingmath, and science (especially in reading, and in all areas better in 4th grade than in 8th grade). Some U.S. private schools were included, but a separate evaluation was done for Florida, in public schools only, and their results were higher than the U.S. average

Perhaps most significant in the NCES reading results is that schools with less than 25% free-lunch eligibility scored higher than the average in all other countries.

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Thumbnail image for ‘Hostage-Takers’: Republicans Go After Social Security on Very First Day

‘Hostage-Takers’: Republicans Go After Social Security on Very First Day

by Source 01.10.2015 Government

Advocacy groups vow to fight back against what they believe is a preliminary “stealth attack” that portends a wider assault on a program that makes survival possible for millions of vulnerable Americans.

By Jon Queally / Common Dreams

As Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik immediately remarked: “Well, that didn’t take long.”

An attack by the Republican Party on the nation’s Social Security program took less than one full working day. Included in a new set of rules passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday was a new measure making it more difficult to move funds between separate accounts maintained by the Social Security Administration. A seemingly technical provision on the surface, critics says it puts millions of disabled and elderly Americans at risk and sets the stage for further attacks aimed at the wider program.

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Thumbnail image for South Carolina Legislators Want Schools to Teach NRA-Approved Curriculum on Second Amendment

South Carolina Legislators Want Schools to Teach NRA-Approved Curriculum on Second Amendment

by Source 01.09.2015 Education

By Meteor Blades / Daily Kos

As diarist MNDem999 pointed out last month, three Republican legislators in the South Carolina House have introduced the Second Amendment Education Act of 2015.

The bill, two of whose originators are members of the Koch-founded and -funded American Legislative Exchange Council, sets aside each Dec. 15 as “Second Amendment Awareness Day.” If the bill passes, schools would have to sponsor poster contests for that day, with awards given to the best submissions. The bill also requires that teachers in elementary, middle and secondary public schools spend three consecutive weeks each year studying the Second Amendment.

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Thumbnail image for In Wake of Charlie Hebdo Attack, Let’s Not Sacrifice Even More Rights

In Wake of Charlie Hebdo Attack, Let’s Not Sacrifice Even More Rights

by Source 01.09.2015 Culture

By Sophia Cope and Jillian York / Electronic Frontier Foundation Deep Links Blog

We are stunned and deeply saddened by the attack on Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical newspaper. As free speech advocates, EFF mourns the use of violence against individuals who used creativity and free expression to engage in cultural and political criticism. Murder is the ultimate form of censorship.

The journalists and cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo have long used satire to engage in cultural critique, a form of expression strongly protected by international norms and with deep historical roots in prompting societal change and igniting discussions on controversial issues (see, for example, Jonathan Swift’s Modest Proposal and Voltaire’s).

In the age of the Internet, satire is finding fecund ground on video sharing sites, social media, and across the blogosphere as a way of engaging in discussion on political issues, social ideas, economic theory, and even poking fun at celebrities.

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Thumbnail image for An Interview With Political Cartoonist Junco Canche

An Interview With Political Cartoonist Junco Canche

by Source 01.08.2015 Cartoons

People find comfort believing we are now living in a post-racial society. We are not. There has been progress in racial issues, mind you, but there is still work to be done.

By Angelo Lopez / Everyday Citizen

One of the best up and coming political cartoonists in the nation is Joaquin Junco Jr, aka “Junco Canché”. Junco is the political cartoonist for El Coyote Crossing Borders and the San Diego Free Press, and he has had cartoons published in El Coyote Online, La Prensa San Diego, and the Southwestern College Sun. Junco is studying graphic design at Cal State San Bernardino, where he began doing freelance cartoons. His cartoons offer an incisive view of the state and national political scene from a Hispanic point of view. His cartoons at the Southwestern College Sun won awards from the San Diego Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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Thumbnail image for The Racist History of the Charter School Movement

The Racist History of the Charter School Movement

by Source 01.08.2015 Education

Touted as the cure for what ails public education, charter schools have historical roots that are rarely discussed

By Christopher Bonastia / AlterNet 

As a parent I find it easy to understand the appeal of charter schools, especially for parents and students who feel that traditional public schools have failed them.

As a historical sociologist who studies race and politics, however, I am disturbed both by the significant challenges that plague the contemporary charter school movement, and by the ugly history of segregationist tactics that link past educational practices to the troubling present.

The now-popular idea of offering public education dollars to private entrepreneurs has historical roots in white resistance to school desegregation after Brown v. Board of Education (1954). The desired outcome was few or, better yet, no black students in white schools. In Prince Edward County, Virginia, one of the five cases decided in Brown, segregationist whites sought to outwit integration by directing taxpayer funds to segregated private schools.

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Thumbnail image for California Releases Fracking Regulations Six Months Before Studies Are Complete

California Releases Fracking Regulations Six Months Before Studies Are Complete

by Source 01.08.2015 Activism

By Dan Bacher

Governor Jerry Brown continued to live up to his reputation as “Big Oil Brown” with his administration’s release of the finalized text of the state’s regulations for fracking and well stimulation on Tuesday, December 30.

Although Senate Bill 4, passed in September 2013, requires California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) to complete an environmental impact report and approve an independent scientific study, “neither one of those documents were ready in time to inform the final rules,” according to a news release from CAFrack Facts.

“California has essentially reversed the regulatory process when it comes to fracking,” said Jackie Pomeroy, spokesperson for CAFrackFacts. “State regulators have finalized California’s fracking rules a full six months before any of the mandated scientific studies have been completed. Given the long-term and potentially irreversible impacts of fracking and well stimulation, it is critical that we make policy decisions based on science—unfortunately, the current timeline makes this impossible.”

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