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Thumbnail image for Still Thinking 76

Still Thinking 76

by Ernie McCray 04.19.2014 Culture

By Ernie McCray

There’s something about the age of 76 that’s different than any other age I’ve had the pleasure of being. I keep thinking about it for one thing. Maybe it’s because 76 leans closer to 80 than those other yearly milestones along life’s way. As we get older, I think, we see ourselves as Grim Reaper victims every now and then in very brief moments. Briefer than the one just passed, for anyone interested in specifics. Thinking about something can be a lot different than dwelling on it.

Anyway, while pondering such thoughts on the night before I turned 76, I found myself clicking into flickr on the internet for something that might symbolize my reaching such an age, looking for something that screamed “Orale!” The Reaper doesn’t like such expressions of “liveliness.”

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DA Bonnie Dumanis’ Re-Election Campaign Gets Petty

by Doug Porter 04.18.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Things must be going poorly for incumbent District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis in her re-election campaign. While she hasn’t been accused of involvement in the unfolding campaign finance scandal stemming from a foreign donor’s quest to turn our downtown waterfront into another Miami, a whiff of ‘something’s not right here’ remains in the air.

Her re-election effort is facing a stiff challenge from a well-funded opponent who’s managed to nail down endorsements from a large majority of law enforcement-related groups and nearly two dozen former assistant DAs. And her latest gaffe won’t help matters much.

Yesterday, challenger Bob Brewer announced the endorsement of Father Joe Carroll, whose high profile blessing of Kevin Faulconer was well received by voters during the recent mayoral contest. It should have been a blip on the radar of the campaign. Now it’s not.

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Sex, Power and Politics in San Diego – Grassroots vs Astroturf

by Source 04.18.2014 Editor's Picks

Part 5: The Battle for Progressive Hearts and Minds 

Editors Note: Former Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña has an up close and personal story to tell about her dealings with former Mayor Bob Filner and the Democratic party establishment. This is the end of a five part series running this week at San Diego Free Press. Part one covers her early encounters with Filner, Part two describes the indifference she met when she tried to alert Democratic Party leadership, Part three talks about the pressures brought about to gain her endorsement of the Filner mayoral candidacy. Part four is about keeping the biggest secret.

By Lori Saldaña

As voters look ahead to the next campaign cycle, we increasingly hear of battles over how to fund these elections. These range from discussions over local races to arguments before the US Supreme Court over campaign financing.

The discussions range from proposals for setting up public financing for elections, to arguments in favor of allowing unlimited private contributions from the wealthiest 0.1% of people in the country.

If money is speech, a lot of people have no chance of ever being heard.

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To Be a Warrior Poet

by Will Falk 04.18.2014 Activism

By Will Falk

I tried to kill myself a year ago.

In the year since, I quit my job as a public defender, spent weeks in group therapy, went on Phish tour, tried to kill myself again, searched every corner of my soul and began writing earnestly.

Sometimes, I think writing has kept me alive. Writing my poetry and essays allows me to fill my world with a meaning that is under attack.

The world is burning at an ever-faster pace. We are at war. Many of us may be imprisoned, tortured, raped and ultimately killed. Before I tried to kill myself, I let myself wander too far with clogged ears deaf to the friends – both human and non-human – that fill this world with meaning.

Armed with my experiences, I know that art can – and must be – a weapon used in defense of the world.

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Thumbnail image for Taxi Medallions: San Diego’s Licensing Program for Exploiting Immigrants

Taxi Medallions: San Diego’s Licensing Program for Exploiting Immigrants

by Doug Porter 04.17.2014 Battle for Barrio Logan

By Doug Porter

While lots of local politicos are willing to give at least lip service towards increasing the minimum wage or creating affordable housing, the abject lack of interest in rectifying a government sponsored system of exploitation in the local taxi industry is staggering.

The medallion based system of licensing currently in place in San Diego, wherein drivers pay for the privilege of leasing a vehicle that may or may not be roadworthy, insures consumers of two things: scarcity of service and higher fares. This form of regulation might have made sense 80 years ago in New York city when it was started, but today a privileged few and the politicians they fund are the only beneficiaries.

Of all things revealed in a 2013 San Diego State University/Center for Policy Initiatives study–the unsafe working conditions, the dangerous vehicles, the exploitation of drivers–it would appear that Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s response will be limited to the vehicles themselves and, perhaps, record keeping issues.

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Thumbnail image for “We Are More Than Just Workers — We’re People.”

“We Are More Than Just Workers — We’re People.”

by Source 04.17.2014 Activism

By Lisa Maldonado Robinson/ Escondido Democratic Club

It takes an hourly wage of $13.09 and a full-time job to be able “to make ends meet” in San Diego County, according to Lisa Maldonado Robinson of the Interfaith Center for Worker Justice (ICWJ). Robinson spoke to Escondido Democrats at their April 12 meeting about the ICWJ’s ongoing program in San Diego County in which religious leaders strive “to lift workers out of poverty.” The program has a North County component and Robinson described efforts to organize workers at Casino Pauma and Northgate Markets.

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Thumbnail image for New Chicano Park Muralists Are Honored to Paint in the Park

New Chicano Park Muralists Are Honored to Paint in the Park

by Brent E. Beltrán 04.16.2014 Arts

44th annual Chicano Park Day Celebration this Saturday

By Brent E. Beltrán

The Chicano Park Steering Committee and thousands of their friends will be celebrating the 44th anniversary of the takeover of Chicano Park this Saturday in San Diego’s Barrio Logan. The theme of the celebration is “La Tierra Es De Quien La Trabaja: The Land Belongs To Those Who Work It.” 

Last year I wrote:

“On April 22, 1970 a rag tag group of artists, activists, and community members joined forces and took over the land underneath the San Diego-Coronado Bridge in Barrio Logan. At the time, construction was about to begin on the building of a California Highway Patrol substation. For many years, residents of Barrio Logan had been promised a park. Seeing the pending creation of a CHP substation was the straw that broke this barrio’s back.”

Every year the community of Barrio Logan, as well as Chicanas and Chicanos from all over, and our friends and allies, all come together to celebrate the takeover of the area underneath the San Diego-Coronado Bridge.

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Supreme Court to Consider Lies in Political Ads

by Doug Porter 04.16.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Not even George Orwell could have predicted this; an anti-abortion group is challenging Ohio’s law making it a crime to knowingly publish false statements about political candidates.

According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, the case involves billboard ads funded by the Susan B. Anthony List accusing an Ohio congressman of voting for taxpayer-funded abortions based on his support of the Affordable Care Act. The Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976, prohibits using federal funds to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger.

Concerns about any Supreme Court ruling in this case stem from a ruling (made on the same day the court upheld most sections of Obamacare) overturning the conviction of Xavier Alvarez for violating the 2006 Stolen Valor Act making it a crime for a person to falsely claim, orally or in writing, “to have been awarded any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the Armed Forces of the United States.” The 6-3 decision asserted  the act was an unconstitutional infringement on free speech.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day:  “Bluebird” by Charles Bukowski

Poem of the Day: “Bluebird” by Charles Bukowski

by Anna Daniels 04.16.2014 Books & Poetry

The poet’s secret pact

By Anna Daniels

Brent Beltrán is the Wednesday editor du jour, so I gave him a heads up yesterday that Bukowski’s poem would be ready to post today. Brent shot back an email with “In honor of Bukowski I’ll get blindingly drunk and bang my head on the keyboard in hopes that a poem appears on my computer screen.” I sense that the man who wrote “Poetry is what happens when nothing else can” would approve of the homage.

Much of Charles Bukowski’s poetry expresses his contempt of hypocrisy, willful stupidity, gratuitous judgments, posturings of superiority and the easy sell-out.

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Thumbnail image for Happy Tax Day! The Rich and Poor Are Now Equally Free to Purchase Political Influence with Their Income Tax Refunds

Happy Tax Day! The Rich and Poor Are Now Equally Free to Purchase Political Influence with Their Income Tax Refunds

by Doug Porter 04.15.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

It seems appropriate on tax day, given the annual media binge of gratuitous coverage of Tea Party protests at Post Offices and editorial cartoons demonizing the Internal Revenue Service, to survey the political landscape and make some comments about where we find ourselves in 2014.

The vast majority of stories you’ll see repeated by tax protesters on the evening news today are simply bullshit–not that any of these so-called “reporters” will actually fact check them. If some guy carrying a sign about the Muslim socialist in the White House screams ignorant slogans about the gubment, it must be news. Because “everybody knows” all these things they say must be true.

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Entering a New Age

by Ernie McCray 04.15.2014 Columns

By Ernie McCray

When it comes to age I’m about to turn another page. I’ll be 76 if I’m still on the scene on April 18th, 2014.

Life, on the whole, has been very good to me. Somehow, I’ve managed, in my time, as I’ve evolved as a human being, to let the good moments override the moments when I’ve wanted to scream or just cold-cock some redneck yokel out of his misery into another galaxy or burn down the “system.” The hypocrisy of it all has always bothered me immensely.

So I just ride the high from the pretty moments, like the one the other day when Maria and I, on a little getaway, were walking along the main drag in Julian, enjoying a soothing sunny day, fully at ease with ourselves and with each other. While strolling through a group of boys, in front of a market, one of them said to me, “You’re tall,” to which I replied, “Yes, I am that” as we stepped through the threshold of the little store. “Can you dunk?” he continued. “At one time. Not anymore.” “Too old?” “You got it.”

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Thumbnail image for Build Us a Stadium or We’ll Shoot This Puppy – Here Comes the Chargers ‘Deal’

Build Us a Stadium or We’ll Shoot This Puppy – Here Comes the Chargers ‘Deal’

by Doug Porter 04.14.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

He doesn’t speak for anyone, UT-San Diego sports columnist Kevin Acee says, and he won’t be heard by anyone. Thus, his page-one-worthy column about the likely scenario for a new football stadium ended up on page D-4 in Sunday’s paper.

The story was actually posted on Friday afternoon online, and its significance becomes apparent when you realize that nearly 150 people had posted comments before the dead tree edition hit the streets.

The Chargers stadium scenario story is supposed to be nothing more than informed speculation, of course. Except that (I’d bet) it’s not. Call it a trial balloon, floated in the wake of a ‘preliminary’ meeting between team representatives and the mayor’s minions last Wednesday.

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“Taxifornia” Dreaming: Who Really Pays in California?

by Jim Miller 04.14.2014 Columns

By Jim Miller

Tomorrow is tax day, and we are likely to hear the usual histrionics from the pity the millionaire crowd about how the draconian taxes on the affluent and businesses in “Taxifornia” are killing growth and jobs and driving folks out of the state. There is only one problem with this—it’s not true. Indeed, far from the socialist hamlet that the anti-tax zealots like to portray us as, California’s tax system is still more regressive than progressive.

This is documented in the California Budget Project’s (CBP) Annual report “Who Pays Taxes in California?” that shows that, “Contrary to the oft-repeated claim that high-income Californians pay an unfair amount of taxes, it is actually California’s low-income households who pay the largest share of their incomes in state and local taxes.”

Consequently, the CBP argues that “Given widening income inequality over the last generation, and the ongoing economic challenges facing Californians in the aftermath of the Great Recession, policymakers could take specific steps to reduce the regressive nature of California’s system of state and local taxes and to promote economic security for low-income families.”

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Thumbnail image for Barrio Logan Commemorates Mexican Revolutionary Leader and Defends Right to a Clean and Healthy Neighborhood

Barrio Logan Commemorates Mexican Revolutionary Leader and Defends Right to a Clean and Healthy Neighborhood

by Brent E. Beltrán 04.13.2014 Activism

Hundreds rally and march in opposition to maritime industry pollution

By Brent E. Beltrán

The Mexican community of San Diego and their supporters came together on Saturday in Barrio Logan’s Chicano Park to commemorate the 95th anniversary of the assassination of Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata and to rally and march in opposition to maritime industry’s continued poisoning of this proud and defiant neighborhood.

The 10th annual Zapata March was organized by Mexican and Chicano activist groups Unión del Barrio, M.E.Ch.A. and Colectivo Zapatista with support from other radical organizations. The action was organized under the theme of “The Solution to Pollution is Revolution.”

Organizers “felt it was important to draw attention to the racist attempt by powerful ship building companies to overturn the Barrio Logan Community Plan and keep polluting our neighborhoods as they have done for decades.”

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Thumbnail image for Barrio Logan: Arts and Culture

Barrio Logan: Arts and Culture

by Brent E. Beltrán 04.13.2014 Arts

Film by Media Arts Center’s Teen Producers Project
Intro by Brent E. Beltrán

With the ballot battle looming over the future of Barrio Logan, due to Maritime Industry’s refusal to accept the Barrio Logan Community Plan update, I feel it is necessary to give voters of the city of San Diego a little history of Barrio Logan and highlight the issues residents face. In June, eligible San Diego voters will go to the polls to vote on whether to approve the community plan or reject it.

Over the next few weeks I will post a video on Sundays that highlights the community of Barrio Logan and the beauty within San Diego’s most historic barrio.

This week’s video, Barrio Logan: Arts and Culture, is about how arts and culture are an integral part of Barrio Logan’s identity.

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Carl DeMaio’s À la Carte Campaign

by Source 04.11.2014 Editor's Picks

By Lucas O’Connor

Carl DeMaio is running for Congress. You may have heard. And even though he’s had the misfortune of writing down and voting on major issues for more than a decade, so far his campaign is predicated on hoping that nobody notices in spite of article after article after article after article chronicling his career.

The attempts to fake a newfound moderation on social issues have been well chronicled, but if you don’t believe him, don’t ask him… He refuses to talk about civil rights issues even as the Republican leadership Carl’s running to empower continues going along with Tea Party extremists and holding votes on exactly those issues. It’s not clear if anyone’s really sat down yet and explained to Carl that you can’t actually be an à la carte Congressman, but he seems committed to trying anyhow.

But just for today, let’s give him a break on all the issues that are apparently beneath him. Instead, let’s jump in the wayback machine, back to when Carl DeMaio was publicly telling us that he would “owe” the people who pay for his campaigns. He voted several times to provide tax dollars to his donors, and then voted to give the mayor’s office near impunity to distribute government contracts that his donors were competing for.

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Thumbnail image for Sex Crimes Cover Up Alleged: Unbelievably Gross Acts On Mentally Ill Woman Photographed by SDPD Officer

Sex Crimes Cover Up Alleged: Unbelievably Gross Acts On Mentally Ill Woman Photographed by SDPD Officer

by Doug Porter 04.11.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Higher ups in the San Diego Police Department may have been more concerned about negative publicity than getting at the facts about accusations alleging sexual misconduct as far back as 1997 by former police officer Anthony Arevalos from according to federal court transcripts obtained by 10News.

A confidential meeting between former chief William Lansdowne and Executive Chief David Ramirez, according to attorney Joe Dicks in publicly released transcripts of oral arguments that reference still-sealed depositions, was held “to try and figure out not if it really happened, not if there are any witnesses left, only to take documentation that is going to come around and bite them in the bottom.”

I looked around the local media this morning. Aside from a mention the VOSD Morning Report, the local media seems to treating this as a non-story.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day: “They Feed They Lion” by Philip Levine

Poem of the Day: “They Feed They Lion” by Philip Levine

by Anna Daniels 04.11.2014 Books & Poetry

The Poet as Witness

By Anna Daniels
During the 1950′s Philip Levine was working in Detroit auto plants and writing poetry. In an interview at that time in Detroit Magazine he described how he found his compelling subject material. “I saw that the people that I was working with…were voiceless in a way. In terms of the literature of the United States they weren’t being heard. Nobody was speaking for them. And as young people will, you know, I took this foolish vow that I would speak for them and that’s what my life would be. …I just hope that I have the strength to carry it all the way through.”

They Feed They Lion was written in 1968, when Levine returned to Detroit following the race riots of 1967. It is one of his finest poems, reflecting the degree to which he found “the strength to carry it all the way through.” The poem is merciless in its judgements and propelled by the rhythmic insistence of the language itself.

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Thumbnail image for Press Conferences and Vanity Shovels Cannot Hide the Truth About San Diego’s Crumbling Infrastructure

Press Conferences and Vanity Shovels Cannot Hide the Truth About San Diego’s Crumbling Infrastructure

by Doug Porter 04.10.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Newly elected Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s been on quite a tear lately, putting forth a smiling face at press conferences in various neighborhoods around the city. Yesterday cameras rolled as the mayor and local politicos including Councilman Todd Gloria posed and preened over a gateway renovation project on 25th Street in Golden Hill.

Hizzoner says he’s making good on campaign promises to direct more monies (50% of revenue growth, as I recollect) toward street and infrastructure repair. He proudly announced yesterday that $22 million of the anticipated $35 million growth in next year’s inflow would be dedicated to that cause.  

It played real well on TV. Sadly, the truth of the situation is that revenue growth, which will likely come from an improving economy, can’t even begin to address the $1 billion hole San Diego faces when it comes to the basic the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed locally.

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Thumbnail image for “RED” at the San Diego Repertory Theatre

“RED” at the San Diego Repertory Theatre

by Source 04.10.2014 Culture

“Stop the heart and think… How fine are we?”

By Alejandra Enciso Guzmán

San Diego Repertory Theatre is staging its final production of its thirty-eighth season with RED by John Logan. It is a wonderful and –colorful- end to an eclectic and very well rounded season.

RED is a play with two actors and no intermission. John Vickery plays Mark Rothko, short for Marcus Yakovlevich Rothkowitz, an American painter of Russian Jewish descent. Jason Maddy is Ken, Rothko’s young assistant, aspiring painter and apprentice. San Diego Free Press had the opportunity to chat with the actors about their roles in RED.

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Thumbnail image for Bob Filner’s New Book and Other Tales of Alternate Reality

Bob Filner’s New Book and Other Tales of Alternate Reality

by Doug Porter 04.09.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

So the word on the street, courtesy of columnist Logan Jenkins, is that former mayor Bob Filner is writing a book and looking for an editor. The UT-San Diego columnist has offered to “anonymously ghostwrite. Gratis.”    

I’m sure there any number of San Diego journos who’d love the opportunity. I remember reading lots of self-righteous tweets and barely concealed contempt in coverage by too many of this town’s “reporters.” After all, writing anything else might have excluded them from the crafty beer klatches and opportunities to genuflect before local luminaries so necessary to generate “coverage.”

I can only hope Filner’s period of confinement and reflection has re-enforced the (obvious) notion that “none-of-the-above” would be the only right choice to make when it comes to local scribes.

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Thumbnail image for The Night I Decided to Stop Going to Sea World

The Night I Decided to Stop Going to Sea World

by Source 04.09.2014 Activism

By Lori Saldaña

I was born in San Diego, and my family began attending Sea World back in the 60s when it had a Japanese Garden and pearl divers (I still have a pearl ring, a birthday gift one year).

Then, it was a very different place than it is today: quieter, smaller scale, and more about Pacific Rim culture than theme park shows. We went often, and not just as casual visitors. Since my father was a journalist, and Sea World knew the value of cultivating relationships with the media, we would often attend special events throughout the year, including a lavish annual kick-off party that marked the start of their summer season, complete with a preview of the newest Shamu show.

I enjoyed going early, before the dinners and presentations, and wandering around the park after the daytime visitors departed. I especially enjoyed being able to enter the exhibits and watch the animals without the usual crowds around.

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Thumbnail image for Cheap Corn Permeates Every Facet of the American Diet

Cheap Corn Permeates Every Facet of the American Diet

by John Lawrence 04.09.2014 Culture

By John Lawrence

Corn is the staple of the US agricultural system and food supply. It’s in everything we eat unbeknownst to many Americans.

Corn feeds steers that become steak and fast food hamburgers. Corn feeds chickens and pigs - even catfish, salmon and tilapia. Milk, cheese and yogurt that once came from cows that grazed on grass now come from Holsteins that spend their time tethered to milking machines while munching on corn.

Processed foods contain even more corn than so-called “natural” foods. Take chicken nuggets, for example. Not only the chicken itself but the corn starch that holds it together, the corn flour in the batter, the corn oil in which its fried, the leavenings and lecithin, the mono-, di- and triglycerides, the golden coloring, the citric acid that keeps it fresh – all these ingredients come from corn.

Any soft drink in the supermarket including Coke and Pepsi contains High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) so you can wash down your corn with some more corn. A quarter of the 45,000 items in the average supermarket contain corn.

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Thumbnail image for Lifeguard Ed Harris to Replace Kevin Faulconer on City Council

Lifeguard Ed Harris to Replace Kevin Faulconer on City Council

by Doug Porter 04.08.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Three Republican members of the San Diego City Council joined two of their Democratic colleagues to appoint Point Loma resident Ed Harris yesterday to serve out the remaining eight months of newly elected Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s term.

Harris, who heads the city’s lifeguard union, received support from council members Lorie Zapf, Mark Kersey, Scott Sherman, Sherri Lightner and David Alvarez. Democrats will now have a 6-3 majority, theoretically giving them enough votes to override any vetoes from San Diego’s Republican mayor.

The appointed councilman was sworn in immediately following the vote. Harris is prohibited by the city charter from running for election to the seat, so he must step down when his term ends in early December.

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Thumbnail image for At the Behest of the Dirty Food Lobby, Congressman Peters Joins GOP in 55th Attempt to Sink Obamacare

At the Behest of the Dirty Food Lobby, Congressman Peters Joins GOP in 55th Attempt to Sink Obamacare

by Doug Porter 04.07.2014 Books & Poetry

By Doug Porter

Congressman Scott Peters and seventeen other Democrats responded to the clarion call of the dirty food lobby last week by joining with House Republicans in their 55th attempt to to scale back or repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Following intensive lobbying and publicity events by the American Hotel and Lodging Association (hotels won’t be able to provide 24 hour service any more) and the National Restaurant Association (we’ll simply cut employee hours) the House of Representatives voted last week 248 to 179 to change the law’s definition of full-time work from 30 hours a week to 40 hours.

A report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says about one million people would lose employer-backed coverage and the number of uninsured would climb by nearly 500,000 if the law’s work definitions were changed.

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