Film Review: ‘What Happened, Miss Simone?’

What Happened, Miss Simone? Nina Simone

By Alex Demyanenko / Capital & Main

The first shot of What Happened, Miss Simone? shows a crowd applauding the appearance of a singer. After years of a self-imposed hiatus, Nina Simone walks onstage, and with one hand on a piano, bows. For a full 10 seconds. She then looks up and out at the rapturous audience. But she is not smiling. Her stare is intense. Some will see fear in her eyes. Others will see indifference. Others might even see loathing. Or all of it.

Once Simone sits at the piano and the applause ends, she does nothing for half a minute. The uncomfortable silence is finally broken by her softy saying “Hello” into the mic, only to be greeted by a fan shouting, “Hi. We are ready!” But is Simone? After seeing Liz Garbus’ documentary, an even better question is, “Was she ever?”

Not everyone who is thrust into stardom is ready for it or even desirous of it. There is no doubt that part of Simone loved being famous, but the juxtaposed moods in this opening scene are palpable and unnerving for a reason. The moment is not only a metaphor for Simone’s fascinating journey as the most compelling and provocative diva of her time, but also a harbinger of what is to come for the next 100 minutes, a document of a life full of contradiction that poses almost as many questions as it answers.   [Read more…]

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

Mental health diversion

‘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…]

Racial ‘Neighborhood Gap’ Fuels Social, Economic Inequality

aerial view of a neighborhood

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…]

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

Screenshot courtesy of The Tribe / Youtube

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…]

The Rising Star of Chula Vista: Jason Paguio

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…]

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

Jill Stein at an Occupy Wall Street demonstration in 2012.

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…]

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…]

The Disappearing Joshua Trees of Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree Sunset (National Park Service)

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…]

One in Every 122 Humans Forcibly Displaced by War and Persecution: UN

Refugees and migrants on a fishing boat pictured before making contact with the Italian navy.

New report exposes ‘unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before.’

By Sarah Lazare / Common Dreams

As wars and persecution escalate worldwide, one out of every 122 people on the planet is a refugee, seeking asylum, or internally displaced, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported Thursday.

Taken together, this population of humans wrenched from their homes by violence would constitute the 24th largest country in the world.   [Read more…]

Congressman Scott Peters Defends His Yes Votes on Trade Promotion Authority (Fast Track)

Photo Credit: John Nicksic

By Martha Sullivan 

On Saturday, I stood with this sign outside the HQs of the San Diego County Democratic Party in a “Walk of Shame” for my Congressman, Scott Peters, as he arrived to address the monthly meeting of the Council of Clubs.  We were there after two years of lobbying this Congressman on the secret, corporate-negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and its companion Fast Track bill, who told us a year ago he would vote No, but who succumbed to the White House charm offensive and delusions of grandeur to vote Yes with a handful of other Democrats in our California Congressional Delegation.

After he walked our gauntlet, I followed him into the meeting, as a registered Democrat who has been very active in the San Diego County Democratic Party since 2004, including co-founding its vaunted Grassroots Organizing (GO) Team in 2005 and serving as Vice Chair for the North Area in 2009-11.  I am a member of two local Democratic Clubs, the Democratic Woman’s Club of San Diego County and the Clairemont Democratic Club.   [Read more…]

In-Home Care Recipients Cautiously Applaud New Budget

Capitol-IHSS restoration in service hours chart

By Steven Mikulan / Capital & Main

The 467,000 Californians who receive assistance from the state’s In-Home Supportive Services are breathing a little better, if not easier, now that a new budget has restored care cuts to the agency. The program typically assists elderly, blind and disabled people on low incomes with housework, meal preparation, personal hygiene and other services; by paying individuals through the state to perform these tasks, the care recipients are able to remain in their homes and avoid being institutionalized – which also saves taxpayers millions of dollars.   [Read more…]

Ronald McDonald’s Unhappy Meals

Photo by jordanfischer

By Jill Richardson / OtherWords

McDonald’s is floundering.

There’s no other way to say it. The global fast food chain has experienced declining U.S. sales for well over a year now. But why?

I’d love to gloat that Americans have finally caught on that the Golden Arches peddles terrible food, but that might not be the case.

Theories for the slump abound.   [Read more…]

The Border Patrol’s ‘Culture of Impunity’


Border Patrol internal affairs department absolves agents in 67 lethal force cases

By Nadia Prupis / Common Dreams

In case after case involving U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) shooting and killing unarmed people, agents were cleared of wrongdoing by the CBP’s internal affairs department—including in the killings of children and U.S. citizens.

Investigations into 67 shooting incidents, 19 of which were fatal, absolved agents in all but three cases, which are still pending, the LA Times reported on Monday. Only two agents in total were disciplined—with an oral reprimand, the Times wrote.

Even in cases where evidence of criminal misconduct was presented, agents still went free of charges.   [Read more…]

The Trouble With (Needless to Say) Distractingly Sexy Girls


By Abby Zimet / Common Dreams

It seems the trouble with (sorry to say) astonishingly stupid boys, even otherwise high-achieving ones, is that many remain mind-blowingly sexist.

Because last month’s implosion of misogyny by a Caltech astronomer wasn’t enough, we now have British biochemist and Nobel Laureate Sir Tim Hunt describing out loud his “trouble with girls…Three things happen when they are in the lab: You  fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them they cry.”

Hunt, 72, made the remarks June 9 to an audience at the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea, which presumably included no lady-parts writers because how could they possibly understand all that man-talk about math and labs and other STEM-y stuff?   [Read more…]

Someone Finally Polled the 1% — And It’s Not Pretty


By Aurianda / Daily Kos

Last May, The Campaign for America’s Future gave a conference on The New Populist Majority. The keynote speaker was Elizabeth Warren. The conference confronted the meme that the US is a “center-right” country.

Most interesting to me was the fact that they obtained poll results from “the 1%.” Typically, “upper income” in polling is considered “over $250K/yr” or even “over $150K/yr.” Such people are rich compared to most, but they do not have enough money to buy elections with their spare change.

The poll results for this comparison came from the Russell Sage Foundation. “Elites” are defined as at or near “the 1%” in wealth with an average income of $1M/yr or more. The perspectives of this group are compared to responses from other polls such as Pew and Gallup.   [Read more…]

When ALEC Comes to Town, Just Say “No!”


Editor’s note: The local Democratic Party kicked off a weekly blog last week with a call to action in response to the July meeting of the American Legislative Council in San Diego. We’re told there are several more articles in this same vein coming, so we’ll be sharing them with our readers as a public service over the next few weeks. We think you’ll agree that it’s important to stand together to voice opposition to these purveyors of reactionary legislation as they meet in San Diego. 

On Wednesday, July 22, we have an opportunity – here in our own back yard – to educate, organize, and loudly oppose ALEC along with the corporate interests that fund it and the harmful policies it promotes. I invite you to join the Democratic Party, workers, community groups, faith leaders, and other allies in a massive protest when the organization holds its annual meeting at the Manchester Grand Hyatt downtown.   [Read more…]

New Retirement Ballot Proposal: The Language of Cuts


By Bill Raden / Capital & Main

The newest front in the battle over the retirement security of California’s public employees opened June 4 with the release of the language for a proposed ballot initiative that would rewrite the state’s constitution to virtually outlaw traditional defined-benefit pension plans for future state and municipal workers.

The measure, dubbed “The Voter Empowerment Act of 2016,” would effectively shift all new public employees from the various defined-benefit plans currently in place to 401(k) plans, beginning in 2019. It would then lock those plans in place by adding the burden of direct voter approval on government employers who want to continue offering traditional pensions after 2019.   [Read more…]

Dominican Republic to Be ‘Socially Cleaned’ On June 16th

Soy dominicano y tengo derechos

By gjohnsit / Daily Kos

On June 16th about a quarter of a million people will be made stateless. They will have no homes, no passports, and no civil rights. There are several reasons for this, but the primary reason is racism.

At issue is a ruling by the Constitutional Court in the Dominican Republic to strip away the citizenship of several generations of Dominicans.

According to the decision, Dominicans born after 1929 to parents who are not of Dominican ancestry are to have their citizenship revoked. The ruling affects an estimated 250,000 Dominican people of Haitian descent, including many who have had no personal connection with Haiti for several generations.

What we are witnessing is one of the largest humanitarian crisis in the western hemisphere, except this one is completely by choice.   [Read more…]

ACLU, Partners File Suit Against US Border Patrol for Savage Treatment in Detention Facilities


By James Lyall, Blog of Rights

Imagine fleeing your home, traveling thousands of miles to escape a life-threatening situation, unable to reunite with your children or feed your family. Along the way you are robbed, beaten, or sexually assaulted. You are forced to cross a barren desert, physically unable to carry enough water to survive.

Then imagine that you are detained by U.S. immigration officials — and subjected to prolonged abuse and mistreatment all over again while held incommunicado in government custody.

This is the experience of tens of thousands of men, women, and children who find themselves denied food, water, and medical care while detained in the frigid, filthy, and overcrowded detention facilities the U.S. Customs and Border Protection operates along the United States’ border with Mexico.   [Read more…]

‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Is a Resource-Conscious Blockbuster for Our Time

madmax v2

By Kate Aronoff / Yes! Magazine

When the first Mad Max was released back in 1979, the era’s reigning existential threats were nuclear winter and, to a lesser extent, peak oil. Set in a not-too-distant dystopian future and against the harsh backdrop of rural Australia, viewers’ ability to map their own fears onto the screen was crucial to that film’s success.

Although the fears have changed, you could say the same thing about Mad Max: Fury Road, the series’ long-awaited fourth installment. Released this month in the midst of California’s historic drought and increasingly bleak studies about the likelihood of catastrophic climate change, the film plays more on viewers’ anxieties about a carbon bomb than a nuclear one.   [Read more…]

Bernie Sanders is a Democratic Socialist; What Does That Term Mean?


By Stephen Wolf / Daily Kos

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders running for president as a Democrat and self-styled democratic socialist provides the need for an explanation of what capitalism, socialism, and even communism actually are. The great myth of American civic education is that our economy is the most dynamic and successful because of the free market, which defines capitalism.

However, capitalism is not actually defined by the market, but rather the social relationship between capital and labor. You could ask the simple question of what type of economic system supposedly communist China uses or see that free markets have existed in pre-industrial societies to realize that capitalism has little to do with government involvement in the economy.   [Read more…]

Pipeline Disasters Are Part of the Price We Pay for Relying On Oil

Oiled Pelican

By Jill Richardson / Other Words

The recent oil spill in Santa Barbara, California hit home for me in a painful way. As a southern Californian for many years now, I take any excuse to head up the coast to Santa Barbara I can get.

It’s a particularly beautiful stretch of pristine coastline, populated by an abundance of marine mammals.

A few years ago, at a family reunion, I joined my relatives on a boat ride in that area. Dolphins found us almost immediately — a hundred or more, delighting us in the wake of our boat.

For months now, Californians have been finding dead and dying sea lion pups washing up on our shores. Now those animals are contending with an oil spill too.   [Read more…]

With Plan to Subsidize Internet Access for the Poor, FCC Seeks to ‘Reboot’

Photo by EcoVirtual

“A world of broadband ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ is a world where none of us will have the opportunity to enjoy the full fruits of what broadband has to offer,” said FCC chair Tom Wheeler.

By Nadia Pupris / Common Dreams

Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler in May introduced a proposal to subsidize internet access for low-income Americans, marking the agency’s strongest and most recent recognition that broadband services are an essential public utility.   [Read more…]

Faking It While the World Burns


Words alone won’t hinder climate change.

By Emily Schwartz Greco / OtherWords

Rex Tillerson, of all people, just did the climate movement a big favor.

He didn’t hand the Sierra Club tens of millions of dollars to fight the coal industry like former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg. Nor did the chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil follow former hedge fund investor Tom Steyer‘s lead by giving political candidates with climate cred campaign cash.

What did Tillerson, whom Forbes ranks among the world’s most powerful people, do? He disclosed his take on the proper role for big oil and gas companies regarding global warming, declaring: “We’re not going to fake it.”   [Read more…]

Food, Water, Health, Life: UN Experts Warn of Threats Posed by Secret ‘Trade’ Deals


By Sarah Lazare / Common Dreams

Echoing the protests of civil society organizations and social movements around the world, a panel of United Nations experts on Tuesday issued a stark warning about the threats that secret international “trade” agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pose to the most fundamental human rights.

“Our concerns relate to the rights to life, food, water and sanitation, health, housing, education, science and culture, improved labor standards, an independent judiciary, a clean environment and the right not to be subjected to forced resettlement,” reads the statement, whose ten signatories include Ms. Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Special Rapporteur on the rights of person with disabilities and Ms. Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples.   [Read more…]