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Thumbnail image for Who Runs San Diego? Introduction to a Series

Who Runs San Diego? Introduction to a Series

by Source 07.23.2014 Columns

By Eva Posner & Linda Perine / Democratic Woman’s Club

Relationships and money trails tell us who wields the power in our community.

It is hard to imagine, that in the 5th largest county in the United States, only a handful of people have any real influence on the day to day decisions that effect the lives of over 3 million people. But it’s true. And a lack of voter participation isn’t helping.

In both the February 2014 election to replace Bob Filner as Mayor of San Diego and in the June primary voter turnout was abysmally low. Overall voting turnout in the County in June was an anemic 27.2%, but many precincts registered in the single digits.

Pundits and analysts give many reasons for the lack of engagement: voter fatigue, uninspiring candidates, disillusionment surrounding the Filner debacle, and the lack of a culture of voting in areas with a large immigrant influence. We are told that working two (maybe three) jobs with transportation issues, childcare and other deterrents make it difficult to get to the polls. And indeed, all these causes had some influence on the undeniable “none of the above” message from the electorate.

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Thumbnail image for Going to San Diego Comic-Con? Put On Your Mask for the Surveillance Camera Network

Going to San Diego Comic-Con? Put On Your Mask for the Surveillance Camera Network

by Source 07.23.2014 Courts, Justice

By Dave Maass / Electronic Frontier Foundation

In the TV series Person of Interest, two government artificial intelligence programs—one gone rogue—can access virtually every surveillance camera across New York City, including privately operated ones in places like parking garages, hotels, and apartment complexes. The creators of the show try to stay one step ahead of modern technology. So the question is: do cities really create a network of interconnected private and public security cameras?

Yes, they do. If you’re going to San Diego Comic-Con (and the Person of Interest team is), you’ll want to pull on your Batman mask or slather on the Sith paint if you’re passing any of the marked locations on this new map. You might very be under surveillance as part of the San Diego Police Department’s “Operation Secure San Diego.”

Operation Secure San Diego—ostensibly intended so first responders could get a view of a crime as it’s happening—encourages private businesses to allow the cops to access their surveillance video cameras. It also gives officers sitting in their squad cars the power to tap directly into live feeds. The first to share its streams was Hotel Indigo, a hotel popular with the Comic-Con set in San Diego’s Gaslamp district.

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Thumbnail image for NYTimes Profiles the “Part-Time Hell” Offered to American Workers

NYTimes Profiles the “Part-Time Hell” Offered to American Workers

by Source 07.23.2014 Business

By Dartagnan / Daily Kos

The latest tripe from the Republican Party attempts to distract from its purposeful obstruction of all initiatives or legislation designed to create new jobs, by accusing the Obama Administration of fostering a “part-time” economy.

In reality the prevalence of “part-time only” jobs arising from the residue of the Bush Recession reflects the gradual realization by corporate America that it no longer needs to hew to the pretense of actually caring about workers and can, with impunity, impose hiring policies designed solely to fatten its bottom line.

An expanded field of semi-skilled workers constantly warned against unionizing, a population of nervous and insecure skilled workers deathly afraid of losing their health care and livelihoods, and the propagation of anti-union legislation funded by right-wing think tanks and their Republican tools in state legislatures have all led to an atmosphere of passive acquiescence to predatory hiring practices.

This has little or nothing to do with the Administration and much to do with a relatively new ethic of corporate greed and indifference run amok. It implicates businesses and corporations at every level, but it is particularly visible in retail and service industries.

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Left Behind

by Source 07.22.2014 Activism

How LGBT Young People Are Excluded from Economic Prosperity

By Zenen Jaimes Pérez / Center for American Progress

The Millennial generation—the cohort of young people born in the early 1980s through the early 2000s—reflects the greatest level of generational diversity in U.S. history. More than at any other time, America’s young people are redefining the role of the workplace as a space in which workers from all types of diverse backgrounds come together.

This is particularly true of this generation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, people. While their experiences may vary based on where in the country they live, LGBT Millennials have an especially unique workplace experience relative to older generations of LGBT people, given that they are, on the whole, coming out earlier and expressing their gender identities and sexual orientations in all facets of their lives, including on the job.

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Thumbnail image for California Halts Injection of Fracking Waste, Warning it May Be Contaminating Aquifers

California Halts Injection of Fracking Waste, Warning it May Be Contaminating Aquifers

by Source 07.22.2014 Environment

By Abrahm Lustgarten / ProPublica

California officials have ordered an emergency shut-down of 11 oil and gas waste injection sites and a review more than 100 others in the state’s drought-wracked Central Valley out of fear that companies may have been pumping fracking fluids and other toxic waste into drinking water aquifers there.

The state’s Division of Oil and Gas and Geothermal Resources on July 7 issued cease and desist orders to seven energy companies warning that they may be injecting their waste into aquifers that could be a source of drinking water, and stating that their waste disposal “poses danger to life, health, property, and natural resources.” The orders were first reported by the Bakersfield Californian, and the state has confirmed with ProPublica that its investigation is expanding to look at additional wells.

The action comes as California’s agriculture industry copes with a drought crisis that has emptied reservoirs and cost the state $2.2 billion this year alone. The lack of water has forced farmers across the state to supplement their water supply from underground aquifers, according to a study released this week by the University of California Davis.

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Thumbnail image for 9 Marijuana Policies from Around the World that Are Way Ahead of the U.S.

9 Marijuana Policies from Around the World that Are Way Ahead of the U.S.

by Source 07.20.2014 Marijuana

The U.S. is far behind when it comes to drug laws that actually make sense.

By April M. Short / AlterNet

Some Americans, stuck in the Nixon-era “war on drugs” mentality, are panicking about the “unknown dangers” and “potential risks” of loosening marijuana policy in the U.S. Those people have failed to look outside of the U.S. bubble and see that many nations have already implemented health-based, sensible marijuana laws and practices with overwhelming success.

In the U.S. today, 23 states have legalized medical marijuana (New York just this month) and two (Colorado and Washington) have legalized pot for recreational use (although it’s worth noting that in many states medical marijuana laws are severely restricted). The and the majority of American voters think it should be legal and regulated like alcohol. However, it remains safe to say the U.S. is not at the global forefront of progressive, sensible marijuana policy.

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Thumbnail image for Why Do We Love Apocalyptic Movies? The Two Basic Rules That Make Them So Addictive

Why Do We Love Apocalyptic Movies? The Two Basic Rules That Make Them So Addictive

by Source 07.19.2014 Culture

Mass annihilation is depressing, sure. But stories about it force us to imagine large-scale rebirth—and what kind of people we want to become.

By Christopher Zumski Finke / Yes!

There is a moment in the film Snowpiercer when the leader of a revolutionary uprising, Curtis, comes face to face with the man he must overthrow, Wilford. Great consequences hang in the balance of this meeting: Human extinction is possible; so is maintaining, in the name of survival, an unjust social structure dependent on slavery and violence.

After two violent but breathtaking hours of fever-pitch cinema, the two men quietly stand across a wooden table in front of a droning silver engine discussing the future of life on Earth. The frozen remains of an uninhabitable planet pass by through the windows.

I cannot get enough of the end of the world. Stories about the collapse of civilization and order—apocalyptic stories—endlessly seduce me. And I am not alone.

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Thumbnail image for Shortchanging Our National Treasures

Shortchanging Our National Treasures

by Source 07.19.2014 Culture

State and national parks alike are underfunded in this era of tight budgets

By Jill Richardson / Other Words

Fabulous vacations don’t come cheap. Hotels often run at least $100 a night, if not higher. Add in airfare, a rental car, and restaurant meals, and a family vacation becomes a privilege for those with the cash to afford them.

What’s a more affordable option? Heading to a national park, state park, or national forest.

America’s greatest vacation destinations are also our most egalitarian. You still need to get the time off work and transportation, but if you can do that, you can almost certainly afford the price tag of admission — even to the likes of the Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone, or the Grand Canyon.

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Thumbnail image for Jewish Voice for Peace San Diego Condemns the Israeli Offensive in Gaza

Jewish Voice for Peace San Diego Condemns the Israeli Offensive in Gaza

by Source 07.18.2014 Activism

By David Deutsch, Jonathan Graubart, and Avital Aboody, Jewish Voice for Peace, San Diego

Jewish Voice for Peace San Diego (JVPSD) is the local chapter of the national Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization devoted to the pursuit of peace, social justice, equality, and human rights in Israel-Palestine.

While most mainstream American Jewish organizations have long abandoned moral responsibility when it comes to Palestinians, we insist upon holding Israel accountable for its crimes, which include a nearly fifty-year occupation, a denial of Palestinian self-determination, repeated war crimes, and systematic human rights abuses.

We oppose Israel’s latest offensive on the Gaza Strip, labeled Operation “Protective Edge.” As of July 18th, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights released figures that estimated more than 80 per cent of the 260 Palestinian victims to have been killed so far were civilians. They also reported that a further 1,920 Palestinians had been wounded as a result of the conflict that began on July 8th.

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Thumbnail image for Groups Sue Feds over Lack of Lawyers for Kids in Deportation Process

Groups Sue Feds over Lack of Lawyers for Kids in Deportation Process

by Source 07.18.2014 Government

ACLU and allies seek to require government to provide children with legal representation

By ACLU San Diego & Imperial Counties

SEATTLE – The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California, American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, Public Counsel, and K&L Gates LLP today filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of children who are challenging the federal government’s failure to provide them with legal representation as it carries out deportation hearings against them.

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Thumbnail image for Economic Lynching

Economic Lynching

by Source 07.18.2014 Culture

By Paul Buchheit / Common Dreams

On October 26, 1934 Claude Neal, a black man accused of murdering a young white woman in Jackson County, Florida, was dragged from his jail cell to be lynched. The event was rushed into the afternoon newspapers. When an unruly crowd of several thousand people gathered for the spectacle, the six men in the lynching party got nervous and decided to drive Neal to a secluded spot in the woods. There they tortured him in ways that seem impossible for a human being to imagine.

America can rightfully feel better about itself now, having gone beyond such detestable acts of savagery against fellow human beings. But the assault on people deemed inferior continues in another way. Instead of a single shocking act of physical brutality, it is a less visible means of drawn-out terror that destroys dignity and livelihood and slowly breaks down the body. So insidious is this modern form of economic subjugation that many whites barely seem to notice people of color being dragged to the bottom of one of the most unequal societies in the history of the world.

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Thumbnail image for Protesters Urge Brown to Protect California’s Water by Banning Fracking 

Protesters Urge Brown to Protect California’s Water by Banning Fracking 

by Source 07.17.2014 Business

$500 fine doesn’t apply to corporate water hogs

By Dan Bacher 

As the State Water Resources Control Board approved new emergency regulations to fine residential “water hogs” up to $500 a day, Californians Against Fracking urged Governor Jerry Brown to ban the environmentally destructive, water intensive oil drilling practice known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”

A dozen activists rallied outside of the EPA building in Sacramento where the regulations were approved. They held signs including, “When in Drought Ban Fracking,” “You Can’t Have Your Water and Frack It Too,” and “Save Our Water: Ban Fracking.”

“It’s critical to California’s future that we conserve water in the face of the serious drought,” according to a statement from Californians Against Fracking. “If the Governor and the State Water Board are really serious about protecting California’s water supplies, the Governor needs to ban fracking and similar methods. These techniques permanently poison and remove millions of gallons of water from the water cycle. If the Governor stops fracking, not only will he save Californians’ water from being wasted during this historic drought, but he’ll also protect their health and climate as well.”

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Thumbnail image for The End of Pot Prohibition As We Know It

The End of Pot Prohibition As We Know It

by Source 07.17.2014 Government

Without federal leadership, you can count on marijuana legalization to keep spreading one state at a time.

By Emily Schwartz Greco and William A. Collins / OtherWords

How much longer will it take before the United States declares a truce in the Drug War?

This latter-day prohibition is taking an immense toll. And the stakes ought to be low, given that most Americans don’t want anyone jailed for being caught with small amounts of pot.

But it does require some courage to pipe up. So thank you, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, for joining the swelling chorus that wants to see marijuana legalized.

“The distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages is really not much of a distinction,” Stevens said during an interview with NPR’s Scott Simon in April.

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Thumbnail image for Lady Parts Justice Launches in 50 States

Lady Parts Justice Launches in 50 States

by Source 07.16.2014 Activism

National movement using humor and outrage to remove bodily autonomy-hating local politicians from office

By ladypartsjustice

Lady Parts Justice is the first not safe for work, rapid response reproductive rights messaging hub that uses comedy, culture and digital media to get people off their asses and reclaim their rights.

5 Reasons to Join Lady Parts Justice

Because neanderthal politicians are spending all their time making laws that put YOUR body squarely into THEIR hands.

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Thumbnail image for Inane “Six Californias” Measure May Be the Perfect Encapsulation of the GOP

Inane “Six Californias” Measure May Be the Perfect Encapsulation of the GOP

by Source 07.16.2014 Business

By David Atkins /thereisnospoon / Hullabaloo

It looks like that measure to divide California into six states may be heading to the ballot after all:

Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper will submit signatures Tuesday to put what could be one of the most dramatic startups ever on the ballot – a plan to divide California into six states.

Draper, a multimillionaire known as the Riskmaster, and his team are expected to announce in Sacramento that they’ve gathered more than enough signatures to put the Six Californias measure before state voters.

The measure, a constitutional amendment, needs 807,615 valid signatures to qualify. Because the deadline has already passed for November, the plan could end up on the November 2016 general election ballot.

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Thumbnail image for I am Teaching College in my Pajamas

I am Teaching College in my Pajamas

by Source 07.16.2014 Education

By vickijean /DailyKos

Don’t you love those commercials for online universities? You can go to college at home, in your pajamas!! Well, I teach at a small state-located university and I am now training special education teachers on the Master’s level, at home, everyone in pajamas. Sort of.

Where do I start? First, my comment on teaching at a state-located university. For those of you not in the ed. biz, that may need some clarification. When I first came here, 23 years ago, we considered ourselves a state university. With budget cuts, we began calling ourselves a state-sponsored university. Now with GOP governor and legislature, we think of ourselves as state-located. The state provides less than 30% of our funding.

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Thumbnail image for Profiteers Cashing In on Nation’s Catastrophic Water Crisis

Profiteers Cashing In on Nation’s Catastrophic Water Crisis

by Source 07.15.2014 Business

In face of historic drought, nation’s largest aquifers and reservoirs drying up.

By Lauren McCauley / Common Dreams

America’s food growing regions face a crisis of “catastrophic” proportions as historic drought continues to drive the nation’s largest water reserves to record lows. Amidst the shortages, private landowners are facing harsh criticism for seeking profits from this dwindling public resource.

“We’re headed for a brick wall at 100 miles per hour,” said James Mahan, a scientist at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service lab in Lubbock, Texas. “And, really, the effects of climate change are branches hitting the windshield along the way.”

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Where’s the Public Outrage About Big Money in Politics?

by Source 07.15.2014 Economy

200 people currently contribute 85% of all the money put into Super PACS. We should be furious about that.

By Mike Papantonio / Alternet

corp-money-cycle-1024x759As a country born from revolution, America knows a lot about outrage. Outrage over unfair treatment led our founders to declare independence. Anti-federalist outrage over Constitutional shortcomings led to the enshrinement of our fundamental freedoms in the Bill of Rights.

In fact, in a functioning democracy, there are few things that get more done than outrage. A government by the people, of the people, for the people should be responsive to the people, after all, and outrage is the most vocal manifestation of the people’s will. That outrage comes into play politically at the ballot box, either because it inspires voters to get out and vote or motivates politicians to act so they don’t wind up on the wrong side of election day.

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Thumbnail image for Teachable Moments: Grappling with Immigration as a Reflection of Ourselves

Teachable Moments: Grappling with Immigration as a Reflection of Ourselves

by Source 07.13.2014 Editor's Picks

These immigrant children and their families are us, and how we respond to them is a reflection of who we are as a society

By Michael Cheno Wickert

One does not need to sleep on dirt floors or live life constantly looking over a shoulder to understand why masses of people would want a better life. There is no requirement that a person must witness murder and mayhem to desire a more stable and safe environment in which to raise a family. Nowhere is it written that a person must personally experience the most extreme difficulties in life to practice compassion.

Yet, the arrival of tens of thousands of children and partial families from Central America has brought this to the forefront of our lives. In the past weeks we have seen the images and heard the stories of the most desperate, and often most vulnerable, people making the trek to the United States with hope for a reprieve from the chaos of their lives. Fortunately, more and more individuals and organizations are stepping up to help.

As an American, I am proud of everyone who has made an effort to bring some comfort and solace to the migrants who risked so much and were met with such resistance upon arrival here. I am also proud of those who practice acts of kindness in large and small ways, and who see these individuals in human terms, not as some abstract idea that can be ignored or turned off.

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Thumbnail image for The World We’ve Constructed Is Far Beyond George Orwell’s Worst Nightmare

The World We’ve Constructed Is Far Beyond George Orwell’s Worst Nightmare

by Source 07.13.2014 Government

Orwell’s chilling vision of the future in ’1984′ is happening today in the form of media manipulation and unnecessary wars.

By John Pilger / AlterNet

The other night, I saw George Orwell’s 1984 performed on the London stage. Although crying out for a contemporary interpretation, Orwell’s warning about the future was presented as a period piece: remote, unthreatening, almost reassuring. It was as if Edward Snowden had revealed nothing, Big Brother was not now a digital eavesdropper and Orwell himself had never said, “To be corrupted by totalitarianism, one does not have to live in a totalitarian country.”

Acclaimed by critics, the skilful production was a measure of our cultural and political times. When the lights came up, people were already on their way out. They seemed unmoved, or perhaps other distractions beckoned. “What a mindfuck,” said the young woman, lighting up her phone.

As advanced societies are de-politicised, the changes are both subtle and spectacular. In everyday discourse, political language is turned on its head, as Orwell prophesised in 1984. “Democracy” is now a rhetorical device.  Peace is “perpetual war.” “Global” is imperial. The once hopeful concept of “reform” now means regression, even destruction. “Austerity” is the imposition of extreme capitalism on the poor and the gift of socialism for the rich: an ingenious system under which the majority service the debts of the few.

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Thumbnail image for The Little Thing Our Cities Can Do to Inspire Millions More People to Bike

The Little Thing Our Cities Can Do to Inspire Millions More People to Bike

by Source 07.13.2014 Health

Protected bike lanes help riders feel less exposed to danger, and are also appreciated by drivers and pedestrians, who know where to expect bicycles.

By Jay Walljasper / AlterNet

You can see big changes happening across North America as communities from Fairbanks to St. Petersburg transform their streets into appealing places for people, not just cars and trucks.

“Over the past five years we’re seeing an infrastructure revolution, a rethinking of our streets to accommodate more users—busways, public plazas, space for pedestrians and, of course, bike lanes,” says David Vega-Barachowitz of the National Association of City Transportation Officials. “More protected bike lanes is one of the most important parts of this.”

Protected bike lanes separate people on bikes from rushing traffic with concrete curbs, plastic bollards or other means— and sometimes offer additional safety measures such as special bike traffic lights and painted crossings at intersections.  Protected bike lanes help riders feel less exposed to danger, and are also appreciated by drivers and pedestrians, who know where to expect bicycles. Streets work better when everyone has a clearly defined space.

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Thumbnail image for Advertising: Are You Buying It?

Advertising: Are You Buying It?

by Source 07.12.2014 Business

Here’s an inescapable reality: There are only two ways to be rich – make more or want less. This is known as “Rimo’s Rule,” though that’s beside the point.

Rather, the point here is to recognize, in our consumer-based, advertising-saturated society, how very hard it is to want less materially yet why we must do so anyway. While it’s intuitive that most people – both the “99 percent” and the “1 percent” – could achieve greater contentment in life by better appreciating the non-material and material riches they already have, there are far-reaching, global consequences of which path to richness a society as a whole chooses.

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Thumbnail image for How the War on Drugs and the War on Terror Merged Into One Disastrous War on All Americans

How the War on Drugs and the War on Terror Merged Into One Disastrous War on All Americans

by Source 07.10.2014 Government

The consequences are measured in lives, limbs and cash.

By Alex Kane / AlterNet

It was 1971 when President Richard Nixon declared drug abuse “public enemy number one in the United States.” With those words, Nixon ushered in the “war on drugs,” the attempt to use law enforcement to jail drug users and halt the flow of illegal substances like marijuana and cocaine.

Thirty years later, another president, George W. Bush, declared war on another word: terrorism. But the war on drugs hadn’t ended yet.  Instead of one failed war replacing another soon-to-be-failed war, both drugs and terrorism remain targets for law enforcement and military action that have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands and have cost billions of dollars.

In fact, the war on terror and the war on drugs have merged to form a hydra-headed monster that rapaciously targets Americans, particularly communities of color. Tactics and legislation used to fight terrorism in the U.S. have been turned on drug users, with disastrous consequences measured in lives, limbs and cash. And money initially used to combat drugs has been spent on the war on terror. From the Patriot Act to the use of informants to surveillance, the wars on drugs and terror have melted into one another.

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Thumbnail image for Central American Refugee Children Forced on a Dangerous Journey

Central American Refugee Children Forced on a Dangerous Journey

by Source 07.10.2014 Government

The U.S. government has had a direct hand in creating the conditions of these migrants’ impoverishment and displacement

By Justin Akers-Chacon / Socialist Worker

The arrival of Central American refugees, including many young children, has garnered much attention in the U.S. media and among the anti-immigrant right.

True to the dominant right-wing discourse emanating from Washington, D.C. over the last decade, the knee-jerk reaction has been to analyze this latest development through the “tough on enforcement” framework. This has allowed the spotlight to be turned toward the actions of small groups of racists and reactionaries in Murrieta, Calif., giving them a national platform to promote a spectacle of resistance to immigration, using the coded racist rhetoric of white nationalism.

Lost in all of the noise is the plight of tens of thousands of children, why they are migrating or their basic human rights.

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Thumbnail image for Without Women, the Computer Game Boom Years May Not Last

Without Women, the Computer Game Boom Years May Not Last

by Source 07.09.2014 Culture

By Julie Prescott, University of Bolton / The Conversation

An encouraging report by the International Game Developers Association recently found that women now make up 22% of the computer game workforce. This is a massive improvement from the previous figure of just 4% of the UK industry in 2009.

But it doesn’t go far enough. A serious sector ought to have a workforce that reflects wider society. Until it does, the industry will see its creativity diminish, its reputation suffer and eventually its bottom line will be hit.

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