Editor’s Picks

Articles that our Editorial Board feel really stand out. We’re glad we didn’t miss them and want to make sure you don’t either!

Thumbnail image for Conflict Over Minimum Wage Increase Takes to the Streets of San Diego

Conflict Over Minimum Wage Increase Takes to the Streets of San Diego

by Doug Porter 08.25.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Tensions between supporters and opponents of a city council approved increase in the minimum wage /earned sick days have escalated in recent days.

For now, most of the battles are being fought via press releases. GOP Consultant Jason Roe worked the phones on Friday, claiming signature collectors for a referendum effectively suspending the council’s action, were assaulted.

TV News crews and police descended upon a Vons store in Clairemont only to learn that a paid canvasser was claiming his petitions had been stolen. Former Assemblywomen Lori Saldaña is now questioning that claim, based on the fact she was in the area at the time of alleged theft and saw nothing of the kind.

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Thumbnail image for K-Faulc Saves Golden Hill: Adventures in Infrastructure “Improvements”

K-Faulc Saves Golden Hill: Adventures in Infrastructure “Improvements”

by Jim Miller 08.25.2014 Columns

By Jim Miller

“There is no such thing as a Democratic or Republican pothole.”

Remember that pat line that Kevin Faulconer used ad nauseam during the mayor’s race? Well out here in the real world after the election, neither variety of potholes is getting fixed very quickly, and Faulconer’s fine words about efficiency and commitment to infrastructure are long forgotten once the press conferences are over.

A case in point is my Golden Hill neighborhood, where residents recently posted angry signs before they cleared several cone-blocked streets and dozens of “no parking” signs on their own after four months and counting of inaction in the wake of a Faulconer press conference where he promised big things.

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Thumbnail image for A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Testing the Meaning of “Americanized” Part II

A History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Testing the Meaning of “Americanized” Part II

by Maria Garcia 08.23.2014 Editor's Picks

From the Toltec Club to the election of Pete Chacon and la lucha to get there

By Maria Garcia

Last week’s article introduced readers to Leonard Fierro, who grew up in Logan Heights, attended Neighborhood House in the 1930′s and upon returning from World War II began shaping and chronicling the history of Mexican Americans in San Diego. It is Leonard who wrote “We had just fought the war for liberty and justice and when we came home we found we didn’t have it in our city.”

The problems and frustrations of the Latino community had been constantly there, as noted in so many of the prior interviews, but it wasn’t until the establishment of the Toltec Club that political involvement was seen as the remedy to discrimination. The Toltec Club was initially envisioned as a social club with dances. The resistance members faced transformed it into a forerunner of the Chicano movement and laid the foundation for the political activism of the 1960′s.

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Thumbnail image for The Grand Experiment at Voice of San Diego

The Grand Experiment at Voice of San Diego

by At Large 08.21.2014 Columns

By Linda Perine / Democratic Woman’s Club

When Voice of San Diego (VOSD) began online publication nearly a decade ago  the excitement in progressive San Diego was palpable. Here, finally, was an answer to the biased reporting that had been a hallmark of the UT for years (even before it was purchased by Doug Manchester).

The world of journalism was being revolutionized as the print media model became too expensive and cumbersome to compete in an instant access world. Slate and Salon opened their digital doors, and it seemed a new dawn of accountable news reporting was upon us.

San Diego journalist/entrepreneur Neil Morgan and Buzz Woolley founded VOSD. Those were the days of Enron by the Sea, pension underfunding, indicted council members, resigning Mayors and special elections (sound familiar?).

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Thumbnail image for Can We Just Create a Civil Society Where Black Boys Can Feel Free to Just Be?

Can We Just Create a Civil Society Where Black Boys Can Feel Free to Just Be?

by Ernie McCray 08.20.2014 Culture

by Ernie McCray / The OB Rag

Michael Brown. Another black boy dead, unvalued and unloved by this society, unseen for what he is, a human being, dehumanized before he’s memorialized because we love to show a victim at his worse. They just had to show him strong arming a man for a pack of cigarillos.

So now we get away from his being shot (six times I just read) by someone paid by the citizenry to “serve and protect” and we start thinking, because of his criminal shenanigans, that maybe, just maybe, he isn’t deserving of continuing to live on earth with the rest of us.

Well, I’ve known many kids, a grandson of mine being one of them, who thought, at one time, they were slick and went off and committed some stupid crime and then went on to become outstanding human beings. Why? Because nobody killed them. …

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Thumbnail image for Don’t Sign It! Chamber of Commerce Led Group Seeks to Block Minimum Wage Increase

Don’t Sign It! Chamber of Commerce Led Group Seeks to Block Minimum Wage Increase

by Doug Porter 08.19.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

As expected yesterday, the City Council voted to override Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s veto of San Diego’s Earned Sick Day / Minimum Wage ordinance. The vote was 6-2, with all Democrats supporting and Republicans Mark Kersey, and Scott Sherman opposed. Councilwoman Lori Zapf did not attend the meeting.

Not long after the council vote Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders dialed up the media, announcing they’d be collecting signatures to force a referendum on the ordinance, hoping to suspend (until the June, 2016 elections) an increase in pay for an estimated 172,000 local workers, along with denying access to earned sick days to 279,000 individuals.

Raise Up San Diego, the alliance of community, faith and labor groups supporting the ordinance passed by the City Council has announced it will mount an educational campaign urging people to decline to sign the referendum petitions.

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Thumbnail image for How San Diego’s P100 Program Screwed Diego and Anna

How San Diego’s P100 Program Screwed Diego and Anna

by John Lawrence 08.19.2014 Editor's Picks

By John Lawrence

San Diego’s P100 program involves intrusive, invasive home searches by law enforcement officials from the DA’s office for everyone that applies for welfare benefits.

These searches are unannounced and the potential welfare beneficiary must be at home whenever the investigator chooses to come or else they will be denied benefits. This makes it difficult for someone who has even a part time job.

When the investigator comes, as we reported last time, he will look for any evidence that the applicant has lied on her application. That could be a pair of work boots in a single mother’s closet or a pair of sexy panties in her underwear drawer, evidence of a boyfriend who could help her pay bills.

Some of these situations approach the Kafkaesque as stifling bureaucracy is combined with clueless non sequiturs on the part of the DA’s office to produce epidemic frustration and humiliation for poor people applying for a modest amount of help. Such was the case for a Latino couple, Diego and Anna Alvarez, who jumped through seemingly impossible hoops while trying to get a little help. The following is freely adapted from Matt Taibbi’s book, The Divide.

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Thumbnail image for A Trail for Humanity’s Final Walk Begins in Chicano Park

A Trail for Humanity’s Final Walk Begins in Chicano Park

by Brent E. Beltrán 08.18.2014 Activism

Exclusive San Diego Free Press video package of the Barrio Logan portion of the 300+ mile pilgrimage to the border

Video by Horacio Jones

On the morning of Saturday, August 16 over 100 people gathered by the temescal (sweat lodge) in Chicano Park for a ceremony to honor the walkers of A Trail for Humanity. On July 22 a group of women and children left Merced, California on a journey south to the US-Mexico border in San Ysidro to pressure the Obama administration to put a halt to its deportation enforcement only policies; call for an end to the use of police as immigration enforcement agents; demand an end to family separations; and stem the tide of racial profiling that has incarcerated so many migrants and African Americans.

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Thumbnail image for Why Read? In Defense of Uselessness

Why Read? In Defense of Uselessness

by Jim Miller 08.18.2014 Books & Poetry

By Jim Miller

While I still deeply love my chosen profession of teaching after twenty-five years of work at various colleges with the last seventeen of those at San Diego City College, it’s hard not to notice the constant drumbeat of critics casting doubt on the value of my life’s work in the humanities.

Whether they be corporate education reformers bent on imposing a business model on colleges or techno-boosters with a zeal to toss all that I hold dear into the dustbin of history, there is a long line of naysayers.

As David Masciotra recently noted in “Pulling the Plug on English Departments” in The Daily Beast, “The armies of soft philistinism are on the march and eager to ditch traditional literature instruction in favor of more utilitarian approaches . . . It is easy to observe the sad and sickly decline of American intellectual life, through the cultural and institutional lowering of standards, when prestigious publications promote the defense, if not the celebration, of lower standards.”

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Thumbnail image for The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Testing the Meaning of “Americanized,” Part I

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Testing the Meaning of “Americanized,” Part I

by Maria Garcia 08.16.2014 Activism

The Castro Sisters, Frank Peñuelas, Leonard Fierro and the beginnings of the Toltec Club

By Maria Garcia

One of the goals of the settlement house movement, which was established in urban centers at the beginning of the twentieth century, was to “Americanize” the immigrant populations that had settled in those cities. When Neighborhood House was established in 1914 as the only United States settlement house on the Mexican border, its role was to “uplift” Mexican immigrants in the Logan Heights community and Americanize them in doing so.

The Americanization process included everything from introducing Mexican families to white flour and white bread to the provision of the first English as a Second Language (ESL) classes in the city to support for cultural, social and recreational activities in which athletics programs for the boys were particularly prominent.

When I recently spoke to Rose Castro, she provided a particularly illuminating comment about Neighborhood House–”They taught us leadership!” …

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Thumbnail image for Matisse – Drawing with Scissors

Matisse – Drawing with Scissors

by At Large 08.16.2014 Arts

The most comprehensive exhibit ever devoted to his cut-outs at the Tate Modern

By Karen Kenyon

Just visiting the Tate Modern while in London is a sight not to be missed. Its spaciousness, its view of the Thames, the Millennium Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral, are enough, it would seem.

But then, of course, the whole point is the art. Exhibits have ranged from the French-American Louise Bourgeois to China’s Ai Weiwei. It is Britain’s national gallery of international modern art, and holds the national collection of British art from 1900 to the present day.

On a recent trip to that wonderful city we were fortunate to see “Henri Matisse/The Cut-Outs” in which 14 rooms at the Tate unfold with different aspects of Matisse’s cut-out work. At 130 pieces it is the most comprehensive exhibit ever devoted to his cut-outs, produced between 1937 and 1954. His cut-outs are among the most significant of any artist’s late works.

As we entered the exhibit it felt as if we were entering Matisse’s studio. …

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Thumbnail image for Ferguson, Missouri: Racism, Riots and Reactions

Ferguson, Missouri: Racism, Riots and Reactions

by Doug Porter 08.14.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

In Ferguson, Missouri an unarmed young man was gunned down in the street last Saturday by a police officer. According to multiple witnesses 18 year old Mike Brown was shot multiple times, even after he faced the officer and raised his hands. His body lay in the street in the August sun for four hours after the shooting.

People who live in that community believe the shooting was just another example of the racism they face everyday. Ferguson’s population is near two-thirds African-American; just three of the 53 officers on the police force are not white. The authorities have done nothing but confirm their worst fears at every turn.

For the past four nights there have been confrontations between police and demonstrators. Last night things escalated. Following a announcement from a bulhorn on top of an armored vehicle saying “your right to demonstrate is not being obstructed”  there were unprovoked police attacks on crowds and in the surrounding neighborhoods using smoke bombs, tear gas, stun granades and rubber bullets.

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Thumbnail image for Less Than Meets the Camera’s Eye: Part II

Less Than Meets the Camera’s Eye: Part II

by Bob Dorn 08.14.2014 Editor's Picks

Bush cut me off, saying, “Yes, I know your name,” and looked peeved, as if he’d stepped on a popsicle or a roach.

By Bob Dorn

In fall 1976, George H.W. Bush was in San Diego trying to clean up a mess that I and another Evening Tribune reporter had made for the agency he was then directing. I’d been tipped by a friend of mine, Newsweek’s stringer in San Diego, that the magazine was about to do a story on a Nazi criminal who was living somewhere in North County.

She had no more than that, and only a name, Edgars Laipenieks. Martin Gerchen and I worked our way through our thin list of federal sources and all the cross directories then available and got nowhere. So, we picked a Solana Beach neighborhood at random and started going door to door. It wasn’t long before we knocked on a door of a man who had a realtor’s directory of residents of the area.

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Thumbnail image for Less Than Meets the Camera’s Eye: Part I

Less Than Meets the Camera’s Eye: Part I

by Bob Dorn 08.13.2014 Editor's Picks

“What was surprising was Reagan’s ah-shucks, shambling kind of entry walk into the room.”

By Bob Dorn

I’ve met two Presidents of the United States (POTUS, the now fashionably artless acronym via the Secret Service) and they both happened to be Republicans: George HW Bush and Ronald Reagan. I can say with as much confidence as I can name the day I was born that they were far less extraordinary than a lot of other people I’ve met.

I was a nobody who happened to be making a living as a reporter, a more difficult practice these days than it used to be, which is another story, and more difficult to tell than this one. I don’t feel that I earned what I know about the two who appear in the paragraph above. I just happened to be in the right place when they exposed themselves.

Reagan was Governor at the time, and I was at UC Santa Barbara working part time for an upstart weekly in Goleta. It was during the achingly slow march of the Board of Regents toward imposing tuition on students attending the world’s best free university. In August 1967 the weekly sent me up to UCLA to cover the meeting everyone knew would be the showdown between Reagan and The Board of Regents.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego’s Genome

San Diego’s Genome

by Norma Damashek 08.12.2014 Columns

By Norma Damashek / Numbers Runner

A couple of weeks ago I wrote that San Diego’s switch to a strong mayor style of government begat “a fresh load of scandal, farce, confusion, and dysfunction….”

But can we lay the blame on the switchover?  Does the form of government really control the outcome?

Not necessarily.  In fact, a recent on this very subject suggests there is no direct connection between the form of city government (city manager… strong mayor) and how well local government serves the public.

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Thumbnail image for GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Neel Kashkari’s Workers’ Paradise: North Dakota

GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Neel Kashkari’s Workers’ Paradise: North Dakota

by Doug Porter 08.11.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

I attended Voice of San Diego’s Politifest on Saturday, held at Liberty Station. It was a gorgeous San Diego morning for what was dubbed a ‘civic festival.’ Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins were invited to strut their stuff.

Politifest is in the tradition of the days when grand public rallies were held to support candidates and causes–with a little bit of the 60’s teach-in thrown in for good measure. The main difference is that this annual event doesn’t have a cause beyond civic involvement. 

There weren’t a whole lot of people there–once you accounted for all those participating in some fashion–but those that did attend were the kind of people who take their policy seriously. Alternately it could be called it Wonkfest; or Politicon (with craft beer! and food trucks!). The nerd in me was glad they do this.

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What Could Have Been

by Source 08.09.2014 Culture

By Lucas O’Connor

FaulconerOn Friday, Kevin Faulconer made his position official and vetoed the City Council’s increase of the city’s minimum wage. We know Faulconer has long been fundamentally opposed to wage protections that strive to keep people out of poverty, likewise the big-money orgs who paid the way for his campaign. So while the move is hardly a surprise, it’s nevertheless bizarre.

The good folks who worked on Faulconer’s mayoral campaign have been remarkably open about their core strategy of manufacturing an image of Faulconer as a moderate in order to win. Since taking office, that approach has generally continued. This stripped-down compromise on minimum wage could have been the last step in that process, and everyone could have gone to happy hour 20 months early. But here we are. Why?

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Thumbnail image for The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Garden Parties at the Marston House and Other Fundraising

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Garden Parties at the Marston House and Other Fundraising

by Maria Garcia 08.09.2014 Culture

SDFP exclusive series The History of Neighborhood House: From 1918 to the occupation in 1972

By Maria Garcia

Neighborhood House, like other settlement houses throughout the country, was established through largely philanthropic efforts with the intent of social reform. Its goals were “To understand its Mexican neighbors; to interpret the needs of the community; to perform the intimate and friendly service of a good neighbor; to direct needed educational and recreational work. ”

Funds were initially raised by the College Women’s Club. Neighborhood House, upon its incorporation as a private non-profit in 1914, became a charter member of the Community Chest, the precursor of today’s United Way. It would depend upon an extensive network of donors and continued philanthropic efforts to maintain its presence in Logan Heights.

The local history of Neighborhood House is in many ways the history of prominent San Diegans. In the early years of the Neighborhood House the fundraisers held in the beautiful gardens of the Marston House were a main source of revenue.

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Thumbnail image for The Real Battle Begins: Faulconer Vetoes Minimum Wage Hike

The Real Battle Begins: Faulconer Vetoes Minimum Wage Hike

by Doug Porter 08.08.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer has vetoed an ordinance increasing minimum wages and allowing for earned sick days for San Diegans.

The City Council now has 30 days to override the veto. Twenty four hours after that vote happens it’s probable that the Chamber of Commerce–given that they’ve been raising money for it– will begin collecting signatures to overturn the ordinance.

The Committee for Slave Wages and Free Puppies for Everybody–or whatever catchy name they come up with–will have 30 days to collect 34,000 or so signatures. Should they succeed, the ordinance will be suspended until after the June, 2016 vote.

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Thumbnail image for Logan Heights Restaurateur Faces Hate for Supporting Refugee Children

Logan Heights Restaurateur Faces Hate for Supporting Refugee Children

by Brent E. Beltrán 08.07.2014 Activism

“They’re not gonna make me not live. There not gonna make me stop what I’m doing. If anything they’re making my resolve harder and firmer.”

By Brent E. Beltrán

Last week I found out there’s this restaurant owner in Logan Heights that has been facing death threats from the people that have been hating on the refugee children from Central America. Mark Lane, owner of Poppa’s Fresh Fish, has received numerous phone calls and social media messages calling for his death and that of his family after calling for a boycott of Murrieta, Hate City USA, and for taking in a refugee family from Guatemala.

After hearing about the death threats and the attempted boycott of his business by hateful bigots I thought I’d contact him and see if he was willing to talk about his situation. He was and he had a lot to say.

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Thumbnail image for Who Runs San Diego?– Douglas Manchester and U-T San Diego

Who Runs San Diego?– Douglas Manchester and U-T San Diego

by Eva Posner 08.06.2014 Business

By Eva Posner / Democratic Woman’s Club

U-T San Diego, formerly the San Diego Union-Tribune, is the largest daily newspaper in the region. According to the U-T advertising rate book, U-T San Diego reaches 29.9% of the adult population of San Diego during the week, and 41.2% on Sundays. U-T San Diego.com receives 29.5 million page views per month.

The U-T Community Press, which consists of 8 newspapers that formerly brought communities hyper local and independent news but where bought by the U-T’s owner Doug Manchester, has a weekly readership of 221,905. One of those newspapers is the North County Times, which was the U-T’s biggest competitor.

Even assuming these numbers are inflated to sell ads, it is obvious that the management/ownership have incredible influence over the information taken in by a large portion of the population of San Diego County and the surrounding region.

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Thumbnail image for August 6 and 9: Launch of the Nuclear Age

August 6 and 9: Launch of the Nuclear Age

by Source 08.06.2014 Editor's Picks

By H. Patricia Hynes / Portside

On the anniversary of the U.S. dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nine countries – the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea – possess the demonic capability to annihilate the human race and render the Earth uninhabitable.

Combined, these countries have 16,300 nuclear warheads, 93 percent of which are maintained and deployed by the United States and Russia, now locked in hostilities over the Ukraine. In fact, serious conflicts fester in every region of the other nuclear nations: South and East Asia, the Korean peninsula and the Middle East.

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Thumbnail image for Profiles in Republican Cowardice, Starting with Mayor Kevin Faulconer

Profiles in Republican Cowardice, Starting with Mayor Kevin Faulconer

by Doug Porter 08.05.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

Sometime over the next few days San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer will veto a proposed ordinance raising the local minimum wage in three steps and allowing for earned sick days.

I get it that Hizzoner adheres to Republican principles about giving advantages to the wealthy. If he wants to believe in unicorns and trickle-down economics that is his right as a citizen.

But the way San Diego got to the point where this veto is necessary is where his political cowardice is revealed. And I predict the battle that’s likely to follow his rejection will wreak destruction in ways he can’t even imagine at this time.

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Thumbnail image for Congressman Darrell Issa’s Cherished Benghazi Crusade Crashes and Burns

Congressman Darrell Issa’s Cherished Benghazi Crusade Crashes and Burns

by Doug Porter 08.04.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

The House Intelligence Committee has absolved the Obama administration of deliberate wrongdoing in the 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, according to the San Francisco Chronicle and other news sources.

The attack has been a favored topic of conversation/outrage on the right. Congressman Darrel Issa’s on-camera buffoonery combined with gotta-find-a-smoking gun conservative media coverage resulted in more than 13 hearings, 25,000 pages of documents and 50 briefings.

Four American deaths at the hands of terrorists have been exploited beyond belief. UT-San Diego named the San Diego victims as its ‘persons of the year.’ Operational data on the CIA station in Libya became common knowledge. And millions of dollars have been wasted as GOP opportunists sought to make a scandal out of a tragedy in the hope that both the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions would be tarnished.

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Thumbnail image for In Paradise: For the Time Being

In Paradise: For the Time Being

by Jim Miller 08.04.2014 Columns

By Jim Miller

I recently had the pleasure of spending some time at Devils Postpile National Monument basking in the stunning beauty of that geological marvel and the accompanying reminder of the deep time that underlies the shallow surface history that we mistake for all that is.

Indeed, if there is a heaven, places like this are surely part of it. Nonetheless, while pondering the unintentional artistry of glaciers it was impossible not to notice how dry the mountains are now after several years of drought.

In and around Yosemite, the creeks, rivers, and waterfalls are drying up far earlier than usual, and the forests are perpetually vulnerable to fire. During my stay, I had to, as one always has to in the summer now, keep my eye on reports of fires—this time one was threatening the western edge of Yosemite near El Portal and had closed the Crane Flat, Bridalveil Creek, and Yosemite Creek campgrounds leaving firefighters to hold the line and keep the National Park open for the time being.

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