It’s Time to Give “Gitmo” Back to the Cubans

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By Frank Gormlie

It’s time that the U.S. give “Gitmo” – or the Guantanamo Bay prison – back to the Cubans.

It’s time to end a shameful period of our history and close down the military prison on the coastal edge of another sovereign country. It’s time that we hand Guantanamo Bay in Cuba – which we’ve held for over a hundred years – since 1903 – back to its rightful owners.

Today the population at Guantanamo is 116, a definite drop from the 242 detainees who were imprisoned when President Obama first took office. It still costs a reported $2.7 million per prisoner to house a Gitmo detainee. And over the last 13 years, the bill to keep open the place that Amnesty International called the “Gulag of our times”has been $4.7 billion.

There is no longer any reason to retain this chamber of horrors that tortured and abused people in our name, and which begot a human rights disaster.   [Read more…]

SDFP Cartoonist Junco Canché to Have First Solo Exhibit of Work

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Artesano: The Political Cartoons of Junco Canché to be held Saturday in Barrio Logan

By Brent E. Beltrán

San Diego Free Press is always looking for contributors. Especially voices from outside the mainstream dominant culture. Some contribute one or two pieces. While others stick around for longer.

One such contributor brought fully into the Freep fold is Joaquin Junco, Jr. aka Junco Canché. Since May 19, 2014 he has contributed sixty editorial cartoons under the Junco’s Jabs moniker. His toons have taken jabs at a variety of local, national and international politicians, celebrities and evil-doers.

For the first time in his young life Junco will have a solo exhibition of his work. The exhibition takes place this Saturday, July 25 at Border X Brewing in Barrio Logan.   [Read more…]

The Complicated World of Having Your Boss Decide What Kind of Birth Control You Can Use

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By Joan McCarter / Daily Kos

Too bad Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy decided to wait until this session to not be insane about Obamacare. Not only did their Hobby Lobby decision make it okay for bosses to deny their employees health insurance plans that cover birth control (because that has everything to do with your job), they opened up the floodgates for all sorts of “religious freedom” claims in which people declare they won’t do something that their job requires them to do and they think is icky because God. But back to the birth control part, the Kaiser Family Foundation has a helpful explainer of the newly complicated world of trying to plan your family with health insurance.   [Read more…]

Confronting ALEC’s ‘Everybody Does It’ Defense

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By Doug Porter

Mike Huckabee, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz. How can you lose?

If the spinmeisters at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) hoped media coverage would focus on the three GOP presidential candidates genuflecting before their annual gathering of corporate lobbyists and state legislators this week in San Diego, they may be proved wrong.

A barrage of press releases and public statements from a wide spectrum of public interest organizations combined with the growing certainty that San Diegans would actually show up in large numbers to protest the closed-door right wing strategy meeting has begun to shift coverage away from the celebrity angle to questions about just what might be going on inside the Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel.

Although there will always be plenty of stenographers willing to be dazzled by celebrity, a slow but steady drumbeat of dissent aimed at ALEC’s real agenda has forced that group’s defenders to go to Plan B, also known as ‘everybody does it’.   [Read more…]

The Swarm

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By Jeeni Criscenzo

How about something lighter this week? Any analogies in this story to present day issues are purely coincidental and of your own making.

This morning (Sunday) I was browsing through Facebook, delighted to see that while Saturday’s unusual thunderstorms may have literally dampened the Pride Parade, they certainly did not dampen the spirit of an event makes me very proud to be a San Diegan.

Scrolling down, one of the posts about the rain was from a good friend who lives in El Cajon who wondered about the flying insects that were in her pool and seemed to attack her as soon as she went out the door. I imagined that the rain had caught some passing swarm by surprise and brought the whole mass down into her yard.   [Read more…]

San Diego Activists Go All In for Anti-Alec Protests

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Labor, Environmental and Community Groups Plan Multiple Actions

By Doug Porter

A wide range of organizations, some of whom rarely get involved in non-electoral politics, are calling upon San Diegans to put on their protesting shoes during the upcoming annual meeting of the American Legislative Council (ALEC).

Protests, press conferences, teach-ins, rallies and guerrilla theater will be happening throughout the coming week commencing on Tuesday, July 21st as ALEC delegates are checking in. Buses will coming in from the Los Angeles/Long Beach areas on Wednesday for what organizers expect will be the largest events of the week.

Today’s column will focus on the already-announced activities (there are more coming, I’m told).   [Read more…]

Summer Chronicles #5: A Field Guide for Getting Lost in San Diego

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By Jim Miller

Back in 2011, over at the OB Rag, I did a column where I had some fun applying the idea of psychogeography to our fair city and played with the notion of the dérive observing that, “The purpose of dérive is to detourn the calculated space of the city, to turn it around and reclaim its lost meanings. The Situationists wanted to see how certain neighborhoods, streets, buildings, or other spaces ‘resonated’ with states of mind or desires. They wanted, as Sadie Plant reminds us, to ‘seek out reasons for movement other than those for which an environment was designed.’”

I then offered “A few general principles to remember…”   [Read more…]

The ALEC Annual Meeting in San Diego: Who’s Coming and Why?

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By Doug Porter

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is holding its 2015 annual meeting July 22-24 at San Diego’s Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel. This is a big deal, and over the next three columns I’ll try to explain why.

Today we’ll take a look at the featured speakers at this event. Both local and national activist groups have organized events in response to this year’s gathering. I’ll report on those plans on Monday. On Tuesday, we’ll examine the inner workings of the ALEC meeting.

ALEC and its affiliates exist to bring together corporate lobbyists, conservative policy advocates and more than two thousand state legislators. Behind closed doors they’ll generate measures designed to tilt the political and economic landscape to favor the wealthy, usually at the expense of the rest of us. Then they turn around and pitch these “ideas” as something for the public good.   [Read more…]

Filipino-American Community Wins Big In Chula Vista Districting

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The Chula Vista City Council unanimously approved the boundaries for 4 election districts on Tuesday, July 14th, a historic moment for the second largest city in San Diego County that has held at-large elections until now.

In 2012, 62.7% of voters passed Proposition B that mandated Chula Vista be divided into four voting districts. The City then created a temporary Districting Commission and appointed seven volunteer commissioners. …

As a final step, the Districting Commission sent the map to City Council, which could approve the map or vote to send it back to the Commission for revisions.   [Read more…]

Anti-LGBT Strategies a Big Part of Skyline Church’s ‘Future Conference’

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By Doug Porter

Media Matters for America has posted an insiders account of presentations by the country’s most prominent anti-LGBT activists during a recent conference at San Diego’s Skyline Church.

Organized by Skyline Pastor Jim Garlow, the 2015 Future Conference was called in response to “the thorniest and most challenging issues in the current cultural landscape.”

While the four day gathering featured presentations covering a range of issues, the alleged rise of Christian persecution stemming from the growing acceptance of LGBT people was the unifying theme.   [Read more…]

It’s Not Socialism, It’s Democratic Capitalism

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In a recent interview about the groundswell of popularity for Bernie Sanders, Richard Wolff, author of “Democracy at Work, a Cure for Capitalism,” opined that we are seeing a new form of socialism that doesn’t give the power to the government, but rather focuses on “changing the way we organize enterprises, so they stop being top-down, hierarchical, where the board of directors makes all the decisions, and we move to this idea which is now catching on: cooperation, workers owning and operating collectively and democratically their economy and their enterprise.”

Instead of looking at this as a new kind of socialism, I like to think of it as a new kind of capitalism—democratic capitalism, where workers are actually free.   [Read more…]

ALEC and Sempra Energy: The Attack on Rooftop Solar in San Diego

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The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is lead on attacking rooftop solar by working to end “net energy metering” (NEM), where homeowners and businesses are paid for (net) energy they generate above their own use. Their role in states like Arizona is outlined in The New Yorker Article “Power to the People” (Why the rise of green energy makes utility companies nervous) by Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org.

NEM is now the subject of intense proceedings at the California PUC which so far this past year hasn’t seen a fossil power plant or utility rate restructuring scheme they don’t like. This is the same PUC which is under investigation by the State Attorney General for improper communications between regulators and the regulated utilities.   [Read more…]

The Filipino-American Tour of the South Bay

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By Barbara Zaragoza / South Bay Compass

Ethnic enclaves are generally defined by a cluster of stores and eateries that feature culinary delights from a specific country from abroad. Within that cluster of businesses, you’ll usually hear that foreign language being spoken. In addition, there will often be a religious organization (usually a church) in the vicinity where the members of that ethnicity go to worship, but also come together as a community to support one another.

So how do you like my definition?…It’s imperfect for sure, but I am fascinated by residents who identify with more than just one country and one “ethnic” label.   [Read more…]

Natalie Cressman and Band a Hit at Dizzy’s Jazz Club

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By John Lawrence

Singer-songwriter-trombonist Natalie Cressman brought her quintet to Dizzy’s Jazz Club Saturday, July 11. Natalie has been creating quite a stir lately with her 8th place finish in the trombone category of the Down Beat Critics poll, Rising Star division.. Her band has a very contemporary sound, sort of a jazz-rock groove. And groove they did.

Natalie wrote most of the songs. I’m assuming she did the arrangements too which were fantastic. She made the most out of two horns – trumpet and trombone – and a killer rhythm section consisting of Mike Bono on guitar, Michael Mitchell on drums and Adam Goldman on bass. I particularly enjoyed the drummer although he stayed in the background the whole time. There was an energy to this band especially when they cut loose on the last number.   [Read more…]

Frack Yeah! Checking Out the New Union-Tribune

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By Doug Porter

Six weeks ago the publisher of the Los Angeles Times closed the deal on buying U-T San Diego for $85 million. It’s time for a quick progress report on the state of San Diego’s daily newspaper.

Now it’s been re-christened as the Union-Tribune, the printing was outsourced and about a third of the staff is gone. The paper’s web site has been spiffed up and actual reporting not influenced by the owner’s agenda appears to be taking place.

Most of all, what I perceived as the aura of shame is gone. Outbursts of pride in the product have been observed recently. For better or worse, they’re being the best newspaper they know how. Those who thought the newspaper would somehow be transformed into either Daily Worker or Breitbart News Network will continue to be disappointed. This is still San Diego and the sale of one media outlet will not change the political and economic realities of this city.   [Read more…]

California Should Be a “No ALEC Zone”

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By Francine Busby / San Diego Democratic Party

Sometimes we just need a little sunshine. That shouldn’t be too much to ask here in Southern California. Unfortunately, a dark cloud is headed our way in the form of a shadowy lobbying organization that buys loyalty from state legislatures with untraceable corporate dollars and threatens the very fabric of our democracy.

Exaggeration? Not even a little. Concerned yet? You should be.

The American Legislative Exchange Council, the people who brought us Citizens United, is a “bill mill” funded by corporations and billionaires. It creates “model legislation” by and for industries, which right-wing legislators then take back to their statehouses and enact into law. (Sometimes they even forget to remove the ALEC watermark from the proposed bill or change the name of the state.)   [Read more…]

Easing Into UC

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By Ernie McCray

I’ve lived in Golden Hill/South Park for 40 years. It’s got to be one of the great neighborhoods in the world.

But one of my daughters needed more time away from her work to give her two young ones the kind of start in life she and her husband want for them. So they moved in with me – and I gradually moved in with my sweetheart in University City who came into my life after my wife passed away six years ago.

I love it that those two little precious beings are living in a house where Nancy and I raised their mother and her sister and brother.   [Read more…]

How to Fix California’s Housing Affordability Crisis

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

As the economy improves, California’s affordable housing crisis is worsening. The average rent in California ($1,240) is almost fifty percent higher than the national average. This is pricing out our state’s low-wage blue collar workers, who have flat incomes and rising commutes. It would take a service worker in San Jose 20 years to save up enough to buy a home.

Unfortunately, government programs that help developers build affordable housing have barely met a fraction of the need.   [Read more…]

Welcome to My Niche

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By Jeeni Criscenzo

Wow! I passed muster with the editors of San Diego Free Press and this marks my inaugural weekly column. I’ve been told I can write about whatever I want, so expect the unexpected, because I like to poke my brain cells into all sorts of ideas and places.

I’ll be alternating between prose and poetry depending on what muse is biting. While my focus will often be on homelessness, I’ll be writing about feminism, equality, gardening, politics and anything else that I think needs to see the light of day.

…”My Niche” was the name of the weekly column my mother wrote forty years ago for the Hawthorne Press, the local newspaper for the small New Jersey town where I grew up. I do this to take up the torch she was forced to lay down too soon.   [Read more…]

A Sneak Peek at the GOP’s Sweet Sixteen Candidates for President in 2016

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By Doug Porter

It takes a big wad of cash to be considered a serious contender for President these days. The costs of campaigning by all candidates for the top job in 2016 race is expected to top $5 billion, nearly double the amount of the 2012 election.

Despite the high price tag, the Republican party will soon have no fewer than 16 ‘serious’ candidates running for President, a phenomenon made possible by seemingly unlimited donations from people and corporations with more cash than common sense.

Today we’ll take an early look at the field, ranked by composite survey results via Huffpost Pollster. These will change as new polling is released–I’m using what’s there at 7am, July 7th.   [Read more…]

California Offers Free ID to Homeless People

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By Christine Schanes / The OB Rag

As of July 1st, a homeless person, child or youth born in the State of California can get a free certified birth certificate from the county of their birth. And as of January 1, 2016, a homeless person, child or youth will be able to get a free new or replacement California photo identification card from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

These public records fee waivers were provided during the 2013-14 California legislative session by the passage of Assembly Bill 1733 whose primary author was former Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva and whose joint authors were Speaker of the Assembly Toni G. Atkins and Assemblymember Brian Maienschein.   [Read more…]

Summer Chronicles #3: The Wonders of the Invisible World

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By Jim Miller 

Just when you think you can go about your daily routine unmolested, you come across an article while you are having your morning cup of coffee telling you that, “Scientists show that future events decide what happens in the past.” Then you wonder if that means that once you are done with your coffee, the article you are reading may not still exist, so for once in your life you click on the link and discover that:

An experiment by Australian scientists has proven that what happens to particles in the past is only decided when they are observed and measured in the future. Until such time, reality is just an abstraction.

  [Read more…]

Remembering a Track Star’s Granddad

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By Ernie McCray

I’ve been thinking about an old departed friend. My best friend. Thomas Ross. Loved the dude although we were dissimilar in some ways. He was stocky and bear-like strong and prone to growl every now and then and I was sinewy and laid back, trying to live life with a grin.

Anyway, he’s been on my mind because his son, Ron, keeps me posted on his grandson, Tavian, who’s got college track coaches salivating to beat the band because the dude recently ran the 400 in forty-seven-point-six seconds (47.60).

Thomas would say to that: “The dude can step, Jack!” He  would be so proud of his progeny. Especially since he’s doing his thing for Tucson High, our old high school.  And, we were pretty decent jocks too. Football. Basketball. All-State and all. Living the life, strutting down the hall, wearing the big red “T.” “Badgers” to the bone!   [Read more…]

Film Review: ‘What Happened, Miss Simone?’

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By Alex Demyanenko / Capital & Main

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

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

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

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: The Occupation of Neighborhood House…

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…and the birth of the Chicano Free Clinic

The occupation of Neighborhood House that began when barrio activist Laura Rodriguez chained herself to the doors on October 4, 1970 occurred a mere six months after the takeover of Chicano Park in April 1970. Both actions involved many of the same people and both actions demanded community control over decisions that affected the lives of residents.

With the takeover of Chicano Park in April 1970, the barrio had said “¡Basta!” to land use decisions that displaced thousands of residents as a result of military use of the bay during World War II followed by the growth of the shipbuilding industry; then by the construction of freeways and the Coronado Bridge; and zoning changes that permitted yonkes (junkyards) to exist side by side with long time residences.

The occupation of Neighborhood House was a demand for community control over this beloved institution that had been in existence for 58 years at that time. Its progressive era service philosophy had been displaced by Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.   [Read more…]