Economy

Thumbnail image for The Alaska Permanent Fund: Socialism in a Republican State

The Alaska Permanent Fund: Socialism in a Republican State

by John Lawrence 10.28.2014 Business

By John Lawrence

Alaska is a land of rugged individualists – Republicans all the way. However, a little known fact is that Alaska taxes the oil and gas corporations operating there and distributes the proceeds on an annual basis equally among every man, woman and child living in the state.

The biggest farce of all is that Tea Party touter, Governor Sarah Palin, slapped an excess profits tax on the state’s oil companies in 2008, the year she ran for vice-President alongside John McCain, so that every person in Alaska received a dividend of $3269 that year. That was a pretty good haul for a family of four: $13,076. For Palin’s family – husband Todd, sons Track and Trig and daughters Bristol, Willow and Piper – it came to an even better haul – $22,883!

Let me be clear. I am totally in favor of institutions like the Alaska Permanent Fund and think they should be extended to the entire US which would guarantee every American citizen a basic income which would come from things we all own in common like oil and mineral deposits, the electromagnetic spectrum and the air we breathe. But someone like Palin, who presided over a plan that taxed corporations and distributed the proceeds to each citizen of Alaska while at the same time taking humungus speaking fees to egg on the Tea Party with anti-tax, anti-socialist and free market rhetoric, is nothing but a super hypocrite, someone beyond the pale – in.

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Malin Burnham and the U-T San Diego Idea Factory

by Frank Gormlie 10.24.2014 Business

union-tribunefrontbldgPart Two of two parts

By Frank Gormlie

As we delve more now in Part Two into Malin Burnham, “the last Corte Maderan” as Mike Davis calls him, and his possible take-over of San Diego’s only daily newspaper, longtime City Heights community activist, Anna Daniels, one of the editors at San Diego Free Press, cautioned:

When the news broke that Malin Burnham was interested in purchasing the U-T San Diego with the intent of turning it into a non-profit, the main and often only description of him was as a San Diego “philanthropist”. And it is true–Burnham is known for his extensive philanthropy.

He is also known for his role as a local real estate developer, as chairman of First National Bank at San Diego and as a former Director of San Diego Gas and Electric. It might prove useful in the future to keep these other interests in mind.

Malin Burnham fullWhich pretty much sums up Part One for me. As City Hall veteran, Norma Damashek, reminded us:

As you know, Burnham has been a VIP mover and shaker in San Diego for decades. He’s not stingy with his money. Some is philanthropy, some is strictly political.

It’s also useful to know that Burnham represents a wing of the local Establishment that has challenged the other, more conservative wing on numerous occasions – with the back and forth between the different factions going for decades.

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Thumbnail image for 6 Common Mistakes Made By Cities and Towns in Urban Renewal

6 Common Mistakes Made By Cities and Towns in Urban Renewal

by Source 10.24.2014 Activism

by Bill Adams / San Diego UrbDeZine

For the last half century, cities have attempted to repair the damage to their urban cores from migration to suburbs and exurbs. Redevelopment has evolved into smart growth, transit oriented development, and complete streets. In the last 15 years or so, the urban renewal efforts have had a receptive audience as people, tired of the car oriented lifestyle of the suburbs, are returning to urban cores and older urban neighborhoods. However, while cities get the big picture, too often in my 25 years as a land use attorney, I have seen the same mistakes repeated.

1) Failing to Understand How to Provide for Pedestrian and Other Active Transit:

Too often, cities and towns seem to think that all pedestrians need are sidewalks to walk on and greenery to look at. The same goes for bikes and bikelanes. It goes without saying that pedestrians and bikes work differently than cars, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

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What Does Malin Burnham’s Possible Take-Over of the U-T San Diego Mean?

by Frank Gormlie 10.23.2014 Business

Malin Burnham fullhueAs ‘Old-Money’ Point Loman Burnham emerges to operate San Diego’s daily, questions are raised whether this is the “Moderate Wing” of the Establishment reasserting itself?

Part One of two parts.

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

The news has been out for nearly a month now that well known wheeler-dealer and financier Malin Burnham of Point Loma has initiated efforts to purchase the U-T San Diego from Doug Manchester, the current owner and publisher.

Burnham, who calls himself a moderate Republican and who has lived in Point Loma all his life, told the press that he is the spokesman for a 5-man group of economic power-brokers who want to form a non-profit that will take over the newspaper and run it as a profit-making enterprise. Any profits, Burnham has pledged, would go back into community charities. Now as crazy as that plan might seem in this day and age of folding newspapers and expanding internet news sites, there are at least two other major dailies in the country that are run by non-profits. …

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Wall Street’s Latest Scam: Subprime Auto Loans

by John Lawrence 10.21.2014 Business

By John Lawrence

unnamedWall Street needs to get people into debt. That’s one way they make their money – by collecting interest on people’s debts. They had a field day with subprime mortgages, and then those government bailouts were the sweet icing on the cake. Then they moved on to student loans.

Now they are making a killing off of subprime auto loans. Anyone can buy a used car, even those with no credit, the same way you used to be able to get a mortgage. They are also called liar loans which is the appropriate name for them because loan applications are falsified in the same way that mortgage loan applications were falsified.

It would seem that Janet Yellen, chair of the Federal Reserve, knows no other way of keeping the economy humming or even getting it moving than to shove zero-interest money at the big banks in the hopes that they will loan it out making a profit off the spread.

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Thumbnail image for Memo to Jerry Sanders & Doug Manchester: The City Council Minimum Wage Ordinance WAS the Compromise

Memo to Jerry Sanders & Doug Manchester: The City Council Minimum Wage Ordinance WAS the Compromise

by Doug Porter 10.17.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

It ain’t over ‘till it’s over.

The City Clerk certified the results of a referendum drive backed by the Chamber of Commerce and other dark money interests yesterday. They sought to delay an ordinance passed by the City Council increasing the local minimum wage and allowing for earned sick days by placing it on the June 2016 ballot.

They achieved their goal by perverting a system originally designed to protect the public from the undo influence of the Southern Pacific Railroad and other would-be oligarchs.  Hired guns from around the country were flown in and paid up to $12 per signature after other canvassers quit in droves, unable to face the public with the lies required of them to earn a living.

This was a matter of economic justice for nearly 200,000 San Diegans who would be impacted by this ordinance; for the working women who would see the wage gap shrink by 22%; for the 10,000 veterans working at or near minimum wage; and for the restaurant employees who are forced to choose between working while sick or paying the rent.

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Thumbnail image for In Defense of Uncertainty in the Development Approval Process

In Defense of Uncertainty in the Development Approval Process

by At Large 10.17.2014 Business

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

Nobody likes uncertainty.

Certainly not the developers of a billion dollar mixed-use project that encounters community opposition due to traffic impacts. Nor the public transportation agency that runs into fairy shrimp on the future route of a trolley line. Nor the city planners for multifamily housing around a transit station that face a revolt from their single-family neighbors.

Hence, there is a concerted effort by planners and policymakers locally and statewide, to reduce uncertainty in development project approvals. It takes the form of reducing discretion of public bodies, streamlining permit approvals through the use of specific plans and categorical exemptions, reforming the California Environmental Quality Act, and limiting opportunities for legal challenges to projects.

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How to Destroy Mission Valley

by Frank Gormlie 10.16.2014 Business

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

If you want to destroy Mission Valley, what’s coming down the development pipeline will surely do it for you. There are four massive residential and commercial projects and another giant handful of minor ones- all in various stages of blueprints, planning and construction – heading for this landmark river canyon. If all are built – the total impact would permanently damage Mission Valley to the point where the Valley that we now know would no longer be there.

Some old-timers believe Mission Valley was destroyed a long time ago, when it was a long, lush valley of dairy farms and agricultural fields. Then the hotels, resorts, golf courses and freeways came and Mission Valley lost its beauty, serenity, and its soul.

Ironically then, there’s also another group of “old-timers” – a special group – a group of Mission Valley landowning families – who have their own plans to develop and damage the Valley even further.

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Thumbnail image for The Secret of the San Diego Growth Machine: Another Case for Nancy Drew

The Secret of the San Diego Growth Machine: Another Case for Nancy Drew

by Norma Damashek 10.16.2014 Activism

By Norma Damashek

Albert Einstein searched for a unified theory that would unite the forces of nature (he had his eye on relativity and electromagnetism).

I, too, have been searching for a unified theory—albeit a more modest one—to unite the forces of nature (human, in this case) that make San Diego the chronically backwater/ amorphous/ uninspired/ tunnel-visioned/ closed-shop/ quasi-corrupt/ rigidly-manipulated/shady city it is.

Come join the search. Just follow the trail of clues, click on a sampling of news links about San Diego, and you’ll discover a unifying theme that even Einstein would find surprising.

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Thumbnail image for The Co-Op Movement – Democratizing the Ownership of Wealth One Step at a Time

The Co-Op Movement – Democratizing the Ownership of Wealth One Step at a Time

by John Lawrence 10.14.2014 Business

By John Lawrence

It has finally dawned on the American consciousness that wealth is being concentrated among fewer and fewer people. In fact just 400 Americans own more wealth than the bottom 180 million taken together.

Thomas Piketty in his ground breaking book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, shows the dynamic behind this dramatic rise in wealth among the upper echelon of society while everyone else, in particular the middle class, is being left in the dust.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Labor saving devices and later computers and automation were supposed to create a virtually utopian society in which everyone could work less and have an ever increasing standard of living.

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Thumbnail image for Three Years Ago this Month the Occupy Wall Street Movement Burst Upon San Diego

Three Years Ago this Month the Occupy Wall Street Movement Burst Upon San Diego

by Frank Gormlie 10.08.2014 Activism

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

It was October 7th, in the year 2011, that the Occupy Wall Street movement hit San Diego.

In a huge outpouring of demonstrators, up to 4,000 San Diegans marched through the Gaslamp District of downtown San Diego – mainly protesting for social and economic justice, against the state of the economy and the role of banks and Wall Street responsible for the financial downturn. Occupy San Diego was born in a giant – for San Diego – protest in solidarity with the rest of the country and particularly those in New York City – where the Occupy movement began.

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Thumbnail image for November 2014 Elections: When You Skip Voting It’s Not Rebellion, It’s Surrender

November 2014 Elections: When You Skip Voting It’s Not Rebellion, It’s Surrender

by Doug Porter 10.06.2014 Economy

An Introduction to SD Free Press General Election Coverage

By Doug Porter 

It’s time to get out the vote again!? For those of us who live in the City of San Diego the November general election will be our third trip to the polls this year.

As we’re learning from watching the voter-suppression efforts succeed in 22 states since 2010, your vote must mean something; otherwise they wouldn’t be trying to take it away from you. Of course, your right to vote means nothing if you don’t exercise it.

Over the next few weeks the San Diego Free Press will be presenting coverage of the candidates and issues we hope will be of interest to progressive-minded voters. While this may not be the most exciting election ever, the results of general elections have a broad impact on how we are governed and how our taxes are spent.

(The Monday thru Friday Starting Line Column will be on hiatus thru October 12th.)

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Thumbnail image for November 2014 Propositions: Jerry Brown’s One-Two Punch

November 2014 Propositions: Jerry Brown’s One-Two Punch

by Doug Porter 10.06.2014 Economy

By Doug Porter

The following analyses of Propositions 1 & 2 represent my opinions. The SD Free Press editorial board may or may not agree with me. For all our articles on the upcoming election, check out our 2014 Progressive Voter’s Guide.

Back in the middle of August the California Legislature worked up a plan to renumber a couple of propositions appearing on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Two of Gov. Jerry Brown’s legacy political projects — a multibillion-dollar bond for water needs and a constitutional amendment to enhance the state’s rainy day budget fund — dropped the ballot numbers assigned by Secretary of State Debra Bowen of Proposition 43 (water) and Proposition 44 (budget).

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Thumbnail image for California Just Passed a Plastic Bag Ban. Here’s What You Need to Know.

California Just Passed a Plastic Bag Ban. Here’s What You Need to Know.

by Source 10.04.2014 Business

The move is sure to reduce litter—but not necessarily planet-warming emissions.

By Katie Rose Quandt / Mother Jones

Update, September 30, 2014: On Tuesday, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB270 into law, making California the first state to ban single-use plastic bags. The law is set to begin going into effect in July 2015.

Last month, California became the first state to pass a bill banning the ubiquitous disposable plastic bag. If signed into law, the measure will prohibit grocery and retail stores from providing single-use plastic bags and require them to charge at least 10 cents for paper bags, compostable bags, and reusable plastic bags. The bill, introduced by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles), will also provide funding for California-based plastic bag companies to develop sturdier, reusable options.

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Thumbnail image for Who Runs San Diego? The City’s Dubious Partnership with Sea World

Who Runs San Diego? The City’s Dubious Partnership with Sea World

by At Large 10.03.2014 Business

Well, this is a fine kettle of fish…

By Linda Perine / Democratic Woman’s Club

San Diego taxpayers find ourselves as mainly unwitting, possibly unwilling and almost certainly under-compensated partners with a corporation in a Sea World of hurt.  From Wall Street to Austin City Limits, Washington to Sacramento, Hollywood to Lindberg Field, Sea World is under attack for its treatment of Orcas (that’s Shamu to you and me)

In July, 2013 the documentary Blackfish about the 2010 death of a Sea World trainer finally caught the public’s attention after decades of challenges to Cetacean captivity.  The 2009 Academy Award winning documentary The Cove also raised questions about the possibility that Sea World obtained dolphins from the horrific Taiji dolphin drive.

Sea World vehemently denied the assertions of both documentaries.  However, Sea World stock prices have been cut in half since the Blackfish premier.  Sea World is now the target of shareholder class action lawsuits involving at least 6 law firms specializing in securities fraud for initially denying that Blackfish negatively affected attendance and for misrepresentation about its treatment of Orcas in its prospectus when it went public in 2013.

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Thumbnail image for Student Loan Debt: The Only Debt You Can’t Discharge in Bankruptcy

Student Loan Debt: The Only Debt You Can’t Discharge in Bankruptcy

by John Lawrence 09.30.2014 Business

John Lawrence

Today’s students are being crushed with John Bunyan’s proverbial burden on their backs – student loan debt. Until relatively recently this debt could have been discharged in bankruptcy.

Then all that changed when Sallie Mae, the Student Loan Marketing Association, was privatized in 2004. Albert Lord, the new CEO, and his lobbyists went to work to change the laws so that student loans could not be discharged in bankruptcy. Today the cumulative student loan debt is more than $1 trillion.

While a generation ago a high school diploma was considered sufficient for a decent middle class entry level job, today it’s a college diploma even if the job itself could be easily accomplished by a person with just a high school education.

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Thumbnail image for Councilman Ed Harris: Why He Rejected the Proposed Lease for Belmont Park – “It’s Pathetic.”

Councilman Ed Harris: Why He Rejected the Proposed Lease for Belmont Park – “It’s Pathetic.”

by Frank Gormlie 09.24.2014 Business

Harris: “We can’t keep giving away our assets to big business.”

Just got off the phone with Councilman Ed Harris – he represents OB, Mission Beach and the rest of District 2, of course.

He had a lot to say about the Belmont Park lease that the City Council just rejected on Monday. He knew that we’d been covering the issue. Today, the U-T ran an article on the rejection, tacking in favor of the current managers, it seemed. Harris wanted to set the record straight.

Harris, you see, led a Council majority yesterday in rejecting the proposed new lease for Pacifica Enterprises because the cut the City is getting is not fair. All the Democrats followed his lead (Emerald was out) and are having the issue return to the Council in 60 days. The Republicans all voted to renew the current lease.

“We have to take in the big picture,” Harris told me. “We can’t keep giving away our assets to big business,” he said.

The deal that the City of San Diego has in the current lease for Belmont Park is not fair, he said in so many words.

“The City has received $1.6 Million dollars in 26 years – that’s only $5,000 a month,” he said. “It’s pathetic.”

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Thumbnail image for Questioning San Diego County Pension Fund’s Excessive Risk

Questioning San Diego County Pension Fund’s Excessive Risk

by John Lawrence 09.23.2014 Economy

By John Lawrence

According to the Wall Street Journal, San Diego County’s pension fund manager is using an extreme amount of risky leverage to make up for a shortfall in funding.

This is equivalent to the gambler who makes riskier bets to make up for the bad bets he’s made in the past. Wall Street Journal reporter Dan Fitzpatrick called San Diego County’s investment methods “one of the most extreme examples yet of a public pension using leverage – including instruments such as derivatives – to boost performance.”

We have seen this kind of risky behavior before. Some jurisdictions like Orange County, CA and Jefferson County, Alabama along with the cities of Detroit, San Bernardino and Stockton, CA have gone bankrupt. The strategy being used by San Diego County Employees Retirement Association (SDCERA) is drawing a lot of criticism. The pension fund manages about $10 billion on behalf of more than 39,000 active or former public employees.

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Thumbnail image for Crippling Student Loan Debt, Not Just For the Young

Crippling Student Loan Debt, Not Just For the Young

by Source 09.20.2014 Economy

By Joan McCarter / Daily Kos

The retirement crisis, hastened by the death of the pension and the great recession that decimated retirement funds along with home values, has a yet another growing cause: student loan debt. A new report from the Government Accountability Office shows how massive student loan debt is throughout the population, but how dramatically it has grown for seniors.

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Thumbnail image for Chamber of Misery’s Million Dollar Campaign Halts San Diego’s Minimum Wage Increase

Chamber of Misery’s Million Dollar Campaign Halts San Diego’s Minimum Wage Increase

by Doug Porter 09.17.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders took to the airwaves yesterday to announce his group of paid canvassers had gathered 56,000 signatures (at up to $12 each) towards implementing their plan to keep the working poor in poverty for as long as possible.

There was no longer any pretense about a “small business coalition” fighting to save mom and pop stores from bankruptcy or simply getting this issue before the voters. This campaign was about the power of the wealthy to dictate policy to the city. This was and is about the sustaining an economic model that asks taxpayers to subsidize lower tiers of workers via government programs while corporations rack up record profits.

By the time financial reports reveal just how much money was spent by the Chamber and their corporate allies in the hospitality industry spent to gather signatures, the San Diego clerk’s office will have certified the results. I’ll venture a guess that they spent over a million bucks, probably not including the hotel rooms provided for vagabond canvassers from as far away as Michigan and Ohio.

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Thumbnail image for Corporate Deserters Seek to Continue Doing Business in the US While Paying Taxes to Foreign Governments

Corporate Deserters Seek to Continue Doing Business in the US While Paying Taxes to Foreign Governments

by John Lawrence 09.16.2014 Business

By John Lawrence

Corporations are relentless about setting up tax avoidance schemes and finding new and improved ways of getting out of paying taxes.

One method is to set up a corporate subsidiary in the Cayman Islands which doesn’t require any taxes to be paid. This works well for collecting royalties on patents because the patents can just be transferred to the subsidiary, and, voila, no taxes need be paid at all. Other companies which do a great deal of selling abroad have money piling up in foreign jurisdictions.

US law requires them to pay taxes on this money when they bring it back into the US. So these companies like Microsoft, Apple and Qualcomm are always lobbying for a “tax holiday”, which would allow them to bring this poor, lonely money home without paying taxes on it. Corporations are people, remember, and money is their Mother’s Milk.

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Thumbnail image for City Threatened with Lawsuit Over Illumina Economic Incentives Deal

City Threatened with Lawsuit Over Illumina Economic Incentives Deal

by Doug Porter 09.12.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

A citizen group represented by Attorney Cory Briggs has announced its intention to file a lawsuit blocking the city’s economic incentives package with Illumina, Inc.

An email sent to Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the City Council this week set a deadline of September 23rd for rescinding the agreement. The communique claims the approval process violated a City Charter provision requiring any deals made by the council lasting more than five years to include a public hearing and a legal notice published 10 days in advance of that hearing.

The Economic Development Assistance Agreement with Illumina, Inc, was approved on August 7th as a “Consent Item.” The ten year deal includes a promise to rebate $1.5 million in sales and use taxes in return for retaining “over 100 middle-wage manufacturing job opportunities” in San Diego.

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Thumbnail image for Poisoned Chalice Electric Rate “Fixing” Threatens Community Energy in San Diego

Poisoned Chalice Electric Rate “Fixing” Threatens Community Energy in San Diego

by Jay Powell 09.12.2014 Activism

By Jay Powell

“… with the passage of AB 327, the thorny issue of Net Energy Metering and rate design has been given over to the CPUC. … recognize this is a poisoned chalice: the Commission will come under intense pressure to use this authority to protect the interest of the utilities over those of consumers and potential self-generators, all in the name of addressing exaggerated concerns about grid stability, cost and fairness. You—my fellow Commissioners—all must be bold and forthright in defending and strengthening our state’s commitment to clean and distributed energy generation.”

This was one of six parting observations offered by Public Utilities Commissioner Mark Ferron when he resigned from the PUC due to serious health issues in January of this year.

The “poisoned chalice” is what is on the table this next week. Those of you who are trying desperately to mind your “kwhrs” (kilowatt hours) this summer should be aware that you are about to be punished for your conservation, investments in energy efficiency and/or roof top solar.

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Thumbnail image for The Fight to Save the Minimum Wage Hike Intensifies in San Diego

The Fight to Save the Minimum Wage Hike Intensifies in San Diego

by Doug Porter 09.11.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The struggle for a better life for nearly two hundred thousand San Diegans continues, as the forces of reaction desperately fight back following passage of an ordinance increasing the local minimum wage by the City Council.

The San Diego Chamber of Commerce, with assistance from corporate hotel and restaurant corporations, has funded a campaign to force the issue to a referendum, which would have the effect of delaying any increase until July, 2016. While their sales pitch started out with the premise that citizens needed to vote on such a measure, it has gotten increasingly desperate in recent days.

The paid canvassers used by GOP consultant Jason Roe and the big business funded “Small Business Coalition” have quit in droves, mostly because they are unable to collect enough signatures to make a living. The bounty for names on their petitions has risen from roughly $2 per signature to $7 each at retail locations and $10 each if done door-to-door.

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Thumbnail image for Are You Ready to ‘Disrupt’? Climate Movement Readies Global Mobilization

Are You Ready to ‘Disrupt’? Climate Movement Readies Global Mobilization

by Source 09.10.2014 Activism

In less than two weeks, the ‘Climate People’s March & Mobilization’ is set to make its mark on history. A new film helps explain where the movement came from and where it’s going.

by Jon Queally/ CommonDreams

On Sunday, Sept. 7, a new documentary film highlighting the intertwined story of the climate crisis and the growing social movement which has grown in response to it was released online for national screenings that took place in people’s home and public meeting spaces.

At just under an hour long, the film—titled ‘Disruption’—was produced with a stated goal to “galvanize a new wave of climate action and climate leadership” across the globe and comes just weeks before the ‘People’s Climate March‘ being organized for New York City that will take place on Sunday, September 21.

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