US Bombing of Afghan Hospital Called a War Crime by Doctors Without Borders

MSF Photo

By Nadia Prupis / Common Dreams

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) on Sunday called the U.S. military’s Saturday airstrike on its charity hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan a war crime and announced it was withdrawing all staff from the beleaguered area.

MSF said 22 people, including medical workers and patients, were killed in the bombing, which occurred around 2:10 am local time and reportedly lasted for at least half an hour.

“Under the clear presumption that a war crime has been committed, MSF demands that a full and transparent investigation into the event be conducted by an independent international body,” said MSF general director Christopher Stokes in a statement on Sunday.   [Read more…]

As Secret Trade Talks Reveal Cracks, Demonstrators Aim Death Blows at TPP

stop tpp banner

Pacific trade deal opponents hope that if Atlanta round fails, pro-corporate TPP could be knocked off track indefinitely

By Deidre Fulton / CommonDreams

As trade ministers from around the world continued meeting in Atlanta on Thursday for final-stretch negotiations on the corporate-friendly Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), civil society groups demonstrated on the streets in a final salvo against a deal they describe as “a wholesale auction of our rights, our freedoms, and our democracy to multinational corporations who put profits over people.”

“They’re getting close, but we can stop them,” reads the Citizens Trade Campaign’s call-to-action. “If we do, and the Atlanta round fails, many believe the TPP could be knocked off track indefinitely.”   [Read more…]

SANDAG’s Gary Gallegos: ‘Transit is not going to work for every person in the region’

Gary Gallegos

By Sam Ollinger / BikeSD

“We are not going to put everybody on a bike, we are not going to take everybody out of their car, transit is not going to work for every person in the region.” – Gary Gallegos, executive director of SANDAG, San Diego’s Metropolitan Planning Organization. January 8, 2014.

“the SANDAG plan is to spend more than half the $204 billion on mass transit, adding five new Trolley lines, 32 new rapid bus lines and 275 miles of new bikeways, as well as 160 miles of freeway lanes intended to help transit and encourage carpools and van pools. The net effect would be to reduce county greenhouse gas emissions by considerably more than state targets.” – UT Editorial Board

I don’t know what sort of drugs the UT Editorial Board is consuming, because if they bothered to read SANDAG’s own analysis they would have seen that implementing the existing Regional Transportation Plan (scheduled for a SANDAG board vote on October 9th) in its current form is going to increase the region’s greenhouse gas emissions.   [Read more…]

Ta-Nehisi Coates, ‘Unflinching’ Voice on Racism, Declared MacArthur Genius

Ta-Nehisi Coates

‘Writing without shallow polemic and in a measured style, Coates addresses complex and challenging issues such as racial identity, systemic racial bias, and urban policing,’ declared the MacArthur Foundation.

By Sarah Lazare / Common Dreams

Journalist, author, and leading voice on anti-black racism in America, Ta-Nehisi Coates, was revealed Tuesday to be one of 24 recipients of the 2015 MacArthur Genius awards.

“Writing without shallow polemic and in a measured style, Coates addresses complex and challenging issues such as racial identity, systemic racial bias, and urban policing,” declared the foundation. “He subtly embeds the present—in the form of anecdotes about himself or others—into historical analysis in order to illustrate how the implications of the past are still experienced by people today.”   [Read more…]

To Cut Costs, College Students Are Buying Less Food and Even Going Hungry

Students in classroom

By Sara Goldrick-Rab, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Katharine Broton, University of Wisconsin-Madison / The Conversation

Studies have long shown that a college student’s odds of achieving financial security and a better quality of life improve when he or she earns a degree.

But what are some of the obstacles that prevent degree attainment?

At the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, we study the challenges that students from low- and moderate-income households face in attaining a college degree. Chief among these are the many hurdles created by the high price of college. Paying the price of attending college, we find, changes who attends and for how long, as well as the college experience itself – what classes students take, the grades they earn, the activities in which they engage and even with whom they interact.

Our recent research shows an alarming trend on college campuses: an increasing number of students tell us that they are struggling in college, sometimes even dropping out, because they can’t afford enough of life’s basic necessity – food.   [Read more…]

Why We Must End Upward Pre-Distribution to the Rich

sdfp income-inequality

By Robert Reich / RobertReich.Org

You often hear inequality has widened because globalization and technological change have made most people less competitive, while making the best educated more competitive.

There’s some truth to this. The tasks most people used to do can now be done more cheaply by lower-paid workers abroad or by computer-driven machines.

But this common explanation overlooks a critically important phenomenon: the increasing concentration of political power in a corporate and financial elite that has been able to influence the rules by which the economy runs.   [Read more…]

Your Weed Killer Might Kill You

Mike Mozart/Flickr

By Jill Richardson / OtherWords

When I began writing about agriculture nearly a decade ago, I learned quickly that people generally believed that Roundup, the best-selling weed killer made by Monsanto, was relatively harmless.

Roundup breaks down quickly, everyone said — and into non-toxic components, they added. If homeowners can buy it at gardening stores, and cities around the United States use it to kill weeds in parks where children play, it must be benign, right?

Wrong. Within the past year, the story has changed.   [Read more…]

‘Totally Schizophrenic’: Fossil Fuel Subsidies in the Age of Climate Crisis

The OECD Inventory identified 800 separate spending programs and tax breaks used by governments in the 40 industrial or emerging economies that encourage oil, gas, and coal development. (Photo: Robert S. Donovan/cc/flickr)

<By Lauren McCauley / Common Dreams

One of the greatest contradictions of our time is that while world leaders profess concern over a rapidly warming planet, they continue to spend hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars subsidizing the fossil fuel industries that are driving climate change.

In fact, according to a new report released on Monday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)—a global forum on economic policy—the world’s richest nations spend roughly $160-200 billion each year supporting fossil fuel consumption and production.

“We’re totally schizophrenic,” said Angel Gurría, secretary-general of the Paris-based organization. “We’re trying to reduce emissions, and we subsidize the consumption of fossil fuels. These policies are not obsolete, they’re dangerous legacies of a bygone era when pollution was viewed as a tolerable side effect of economic growth. They should be erased from the books.”   [Read more…]

California Poised to Take Major Step for Democracy

"I voted" sticker

By Lauren McCauley / Common Dreams

California is poised to take a major step towards advancing voting rights for millions of citizens after the state legislature late last week approved a resolution that requires the automatic registration of all eligible voters.

Proponents of the measure say that Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, is expected to sign the bill, know as the California New Motor Voter Act. If that happens, the old, manual entry process would be replaced by a system that would automatically sign up California residents when they do business with the Department of Motor Vehicles as of January 2016.

State officials estimate that the state has approximately 6.6 million eligible but unregistered voters who may soon be added to the voting rolls.   [Read more…]

California Lawmakers Seek Local Oversight of Downtown Planning

construction worker and he family at downtown construction site

Murtaza H. Baxamusa, Ph.D., AICP / San Diego UrbDeZine

“Downtown is for people” wrote legendary urban planner Jane Jacobs in 1958, in response to building-centric redevelopment that was a byproduct of politics and economics seeking to rebuild cities across America. During her lifetime, she advocated for citizens to decide what end results they wanted, pioneering concepts like “social capital,” and advocating for planners to steer the rebuilding machinery to serve the community.

Yet, even today, downtown San Diego is being built as a collection of projects, with an approval process that consistently favors developers. Today, the large-block redevelopment is back in full force. The older, affordable housing stock is being demolished, and replaced with luxury high-rises. Economic development agreements are benefiting projects that do not pay living wages to the workforce. And taxpayers across the city are subsiding the mitigation of environmental impacts of downtown projects.   [Read more…]

In ‘Win for Public Schools,’ Washington Supreme Court Rules Charter Schools Unconstitutional

Stop sign on school bus

By Andrea Germanos / Common Dreams

Public education advocates are welcoming the Washington State Supreme Court’s ruling late Friday that the state’s charter school law is unconstitutional.

The Seattle Times reports that “The ruling — believed to be one of the first of its kind in the country — overturns the law [I-1240] voters narrowly approved in 2012 allowing publicly funded, but privately operated, schools.”   [Read more…]

One Day Soon, That Drone Overhead May Be Pointing a Taser at You

drone 03

By Marjorie Cohn / Truthdig

North Dakota has just become the first state to legalize police use of drones equipped with “less than lethal” weapons, including rubber bullets, Tasers, tear gas, pepper spray and sound cannons. Now, police will be able to remotely fire on people in North Dakota from drones, much as the CIA fires on people in other countries.

Although drones in North Dakota will be limited to “less than lethal” weapons, some of these devices can cause injury or even death, according to Christof Heyns, United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. He reported that rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas have resulted in injury and death. “The danger is that law enforcement officials may argue that the weapons that they use are labeled ‘less lethal’ and then fail to assess whether the level of force is not beyond that required,” Heyns wrote. The Guardian reports that at least 39 people have been killed by Tasers as far in 2015.   [Read more…]

Labor Day 2015: Stand Together and Fight Back

Bernie Sanders bnw

By Senator Bernie Sanders / Daily Kos

Labor Day is a time for honoring the working people of this country. It is also a time to celebrate the accomplishments of the activists and organizers who fought for the 40-hour work week, occupational safety, minimum-wage law, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and affordable housing. These working people, and their unions, resisted the oligarchs of their day, fought for a more responsive democracy, and built the middle class.

Today we can – and we must – follow their example. It’s time to rebuild the crumbling middle class of our country and make certain that every working person in the United States of America has a chance at a decent life.

Against overwhelming odds, the men and women of the labor movement changed society for the better. If you’ve ever enjoyed a paid vacation, a sick day or a pension, they are the people to thank. And if you don’t have those benefits on your job today, they are the people who can help you get them.   [Read more…]

Labor Day 2028

robot image

By Robert Reich / Robert Reich Blog

In 1928, famed British economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that technology would advance so far in a hundred years — by 2028 — that it will replace all work, and no one will need to worry about making money.

“For the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem — how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy the leisure, which science and compound interest will have won for him, to live wisely and agreeably and well.”

We still have thirteen years to go before we reach Keynes’ prophetic year, but we’re not exactly on the way to it. Americans are working harder than ever.   [Read more…]

The Economy of the Future-Economic Democracy


By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers / Popular Resistance

This Labor Day weekend rather than looking at the history and current struggles of workers, we look to the future and imagine what will work be like in 2025 or 2050. What will the overall economy look like? What is our vision for an economy that works for the people?

The Future of Work

There are some major trends that indicate we are in the midst of a radical transformation of what work means and how people will have income.

The most significant trend involves robotics, artificial intelligence and software that will do most current jobs. The research firm Gartner predicts that “one in three jobs will be converted to software, robots and smart machines by 2025.”Oxford University researchers estimate that 47 percent of U.S. jobs could be automated by 2033.  Already the official unemployment rate hides the fact only 63% of working-age adults are actually working.   [Read more…]

Humankind Has Halved the Number of Trees on the Planet

Mt. Washington is seen behind fall foliage in New Hampshire.  (Photo:  due_mele/flickr/cc)

Trees ‘store huge amounts of carbon, are essential for the cycling of nutrients, for water and air quality, and for countless human services’.

By Andrea Germanos / Common Dreams

The good news: there are over 3 trillion trees covering the Earth—that’s far higher than the 4 billion estimated just two years ago, a team of international researchers has found.

But here’s the bad news: there were far more trees—46 percent more—before human civilization got hold, with an estimated 15 billion trees being lost own each year, with just 5 billion replanted.   [Read more…]

As Young Refugee Boy Identified, Photos Representing His ‘Outcry’ Reverberate

Aylan Kurdi and his older brother, Galip. (Photograph: Twitter)

Three-year-old Aylan Kurdi drowned along with his mother, Rehan, and older brother, Galip, while the family attempted to cross the sea from Turkey to Greece on Wednesday.

By John Queally / Common Dreams

As new details emerge about the young Syrian boy, now identified as three-year-old Aylan Kurdi—who drowned along with his mother, Rehan, and older brother, Galip, while the family attempted to cross the sea from Turkey to Greece on Wednesday—the global impact of the pictures has perhaps fulfilled the “sorrowful” hopes of the photographer who took the images in order to “make heard his outcry.”

It has now been reported that the father, Abdullah Kurdi, was the only member of the family of four to survive when the boat they and other refugees were traveling in capsized off the Turkish coast. In all, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency, 12 people drowned when two boats attempting to reach the island of Kos capsized. Eight of the 12 were children. The news agency subsequently reported that several individuals had been arrested on smuggling charges related to the incident.   [Read more…]

Making America Work for Working People


This Labor Day, remember the millions of Americans who don’t know the next time they’ll get called in to their jobs.

By Sarita Gupta / OtherWords

For millions of working parents like me, the juggling act between our homes and offices gets even more frantic as our kids head back to school.

My daughter just started kindergarten. Some days, I’m proud of how my husband and I manage the demands of our jobs while also taking care of her and my parents. Other days, life happens — the train’s late, a deadline surfaces, a meeting gets rescheduled ­— and it all falls apart.

This Labor Day, I’m grateful that I’ll be able to spend time with my family and take a break from the demands of this time of year. But I’ll also be thinking about the working people across the country who don’t know the next time they’ll actually be working.   [Read more…]

First “Wetbacks,” Then “Illegal Aliens,” and Now “Anchor Babies” — the Continued Scapegoating of Mexicans


The current anchor baby debate is all about who has and maintains political, economic and social power in the United States

By Ruben Salazar / Raza Legal News

“Anchor baby” and automatic “birthright citizenship,” thanks to Donald Trump, are the debate topics de jure. Anchor baby is the pejorative term for a child born in the United States to a foreign national mother who was not lawfully admitted for permanent residence.

It first appeared in print around 1996. But the derogatory term has remained relatively obscure until about 2006. In fact, it became the American Dialect Society’s “2006 Word of the Year.”   [Read more…]

‘My Body, My Choice’ Is Not True for Women In Poverty, In Federal Employment, or In the Military

young african nurse comforting female patient in doctor's office

By Susan Grigsby / Daily Kos

“My body, my choice” is a privilege for those whose insurance provides coverage for abortions (assuming that their employers don’t object), or who can afford to pay the expense out of pocket.That privilege doesn’t extend to women who receive Medicare or Children’s Healthcare Insurance Program benefits, the dependents of federal employees, dependents of military service members, Peace Corps volunteers, clients of Indian Health Service, and women in federal prisons, including immigration detention centers. As many as 20 million women are impacted not just by the 1976 Hyde Amendment (which has been reauthorized every year since), but by additional restrictions imposed by Congress in the early 1980s.   [Read more…]

Group Behind Planned Parenthood Attacks has Close Ties to Extremists

planned parenthood signs

Senior Policy Advisor convicted of conspiring to bomb a San Diego abortion clinic in 1988

By Joan McCarter / Daily Kos

The group behind the falsified videos attacking Planned Parenthood calls itself a “group of citizen journalists,” but is of course not actually journalists. What the so-called Center for Medical Progress really is is a group of committed anti-abortion activists with close ties to “some of the country’s hardest-line anti-abortion extremists,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The group’s leader and one of the actors in the videos is David Daleiden, “who was previously the director of research for Live Action News.” Live Action also produced falsified Planned Parenthood videos, in a failed effort to bring the organization down. But it’s the board members of CMP that have the strongest ties to extremist groups.   [Read more…]

Escondido’s Lyin’ King Sees Riches in the Safari Highlands Ranch Proposal

credit: Escondido Democrats

By Don Greene / Escondido Democrats

In one of the more poignant scenes in the movie, The Lion King, Musafa says to young Simba, “Look, Simba, everything the light touches is our kingdom.” It seems that we have a touch of that same attitude on our City Council. As Mayor Abed and the rest of the council majority look out to the east, you can almost hear him say the same thing.

Instead of birthrights and becoming King of the Animals, Abed speaks in our hypothetical of property rights and becoming King of the Developers. The land he looks over is the proposed Safari Highlands Ranch project, a 1084-acre land annexation and subsequent 550-home development, in unincorporated Escondido, just north and west of the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park.

This project, and the means by which they intend to bring it to fruition, fits the S.O.P. of Abed and the council majority; they work the backroom deals with the developers and other agencies and put on a happy face with the public.   [Read more…]

Battle Lines Form in California Over Ambitious Climate Change Bills

california traffic FontFont Flickr cc

Big Oil Goes Into Big Lie Mode With Campaign

By Nadia Prupis / Common Dreams

California lawmakers are preparing to face off with the state’s powerful fossil fuel industry in a battle over two potentially groundbreaking climate change bills.

The more contentious legislation in question, the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015 (SB350), would increase California’s share of electricity from renewable energy sources to 50 percent and reduce the state’s use of oil in half by 2030—the equivalent of removing 36 million cars and trucks from the roads over the next 15 years—through new technology and more efficient planning.

The second piece of legislation, the California Global Warming Solutions Act (SB32), would raise mandates for oil refineries and power companies, among other big polluters, to lower their greenhouse gas emissions.   [Read more…]

Are the NFL Chargers Causing the NCAA Aztecs to Lose?


By Bill Adams /UrbDeZine

Are the San Diego National Football League (NFL) Chargers causing the San Diego State University Aztecs football team to lose games and fans?  If so, which is worse for San Diego, losing its NFL franchise to another city, or sub-optimal performance and attendance at Aztecs football games?

While these question at first appear both absurd and provocative, there have been several studies that can answer these questions  – at least to some degree.  Moreover, the studies go further. The studies indicate that the success of a college sports team has an effect on the regional economy.

First, winning by a university’s sports teams increases both the number and the quality of its student applications.  It hardly needs be said that the number and quality of student applications facilitates everything from funding to prestige, and ultimately the growth of a university.  This explains in large part why university administrations continue to fund even money-losing or scandal-ridden high profile sports like football and basketball.   [Read more…]

Campaign Zero: A ‘Blueprint for Ending Police Violence’

'We must end police violence so we can live and feel safe in this country,' Campaign Zero states on its website. (Photo: Basil-Malik/flickr/cc)

By Nadia Prupis / Common Dreams

On Friday, activists with the country’s growing racial justice movement unveiled a new campaign to end police violence, bridging protester demands with data and policy to create structural solutions to the crisis that has gripped national attention for more than a year.

Launched as an online manifesto with an interactive website, Campaign Zero proposes new federal, state, and local laws that would address police violence and reform the criminal justice system—including demilitarizing law enforcement, increasing community oversight, limiting use-of-force, and requiring independent investigation and prosecution of police violence cases.

“More than one thousand people are killed by police every year in America,” the group states on its website. “Nearly sixty percent of victims did not have a gun or were involved in activities that should not require police intervention such as harmless ‘quality of life’ behaviors or mental health crises.”   [Read more…]