Thumbnail image for Civic San Diego and the One Minute Citizen

Civic San Diego and the One Minute Citizen

by Anna Daniels 03.27.2015 City Heights: Up Close & Personal

Notes from the March 18 Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee

By Anna Daniels

At 4:45 pm on March 18, Marti Emerald, City Councilmember and Chair of the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee (PS&LN) announced that there were still 62 speaker slips remaining on the topic of community benefits. The agenda item with the most speakers had been switched to the last one that would be heard that day. Emerald courteously asked the citizens remaining in the room to limit their testimony to one minute and to please not repeat what had already been said. The committee would lose its quorum at 5:30.

Why had so many people shown up at 1:30 earlier that day, packing the committee room and overflowing into an adjacent room? Why were they willing to wait three hours to provide one minute of public testimony about Civic San Diego (CivicSD), the public non-profit development agency owned by the City of San Diego?

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Thumbnail image for How Privatization Degrades Our Daily Lives

How Privatization Degrades Our Daily Lives

by Source 03.25.2015 Business

By Paul Bucheit / Common Dreams

The Project on Government Oversight found that in 33 of 35 cases the federal government spent more on private contractors than on public employees for the same services. The authors of the report summarized, “Our findings were shocking.”

Yet our elected leaders persist in their belief that free-market capitalism works best. Here are a few fact-based examples that say otherwise.

Health Care: Markups of 100%….1,000%….100,000%

Broadcast Journalist Edward R. Murrow in 1955: Who owns the patent on this vaccine?
Polio Researcher Jonas Salk: Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?

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Thumbnail image for California Drought Legislation Must Target Agribusiness and Big Oil

California Drought Legislation Must Target Agribusiness and Big Oil

by Source 03.23.2015 Business

By Dan Bacher

Governor Jerry Brown and lawmakers touted the introduction of drought legislation in the Legislature on March 19, while leaders of environmental and corporate watchdog groups urged Brown to put real limits on the “most egregious” water users – corporate agribusiness and big oil companies – to really address the drought.

Brown joined Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, and Republican Leaders Senator Bob Huff and Assemblymember Kristin to unveil legislation that they claimed will “help local communities cope with the ongoing, devastating drought.”

A statement from the Governor’s Office said the package will expedite bond funding to “make the state more resilient to the disastrous effects of climate change and help ensure that all Californians have access to local water supplies.”

“This unprecedented drought continues with no signs yet of letting up,” said Governor Brown. “The programs funded by the actions announced today will provide direct relief to workers and communities most impacted by these historic dry conditions.”

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Thumbnail image for The People’s Budget: Progressive Proposal Aims to Un-Rig Failed Economic System

The People’s Budget: Progressive Proposal Aims to Un-Rig Failed Economic System

by Source 03.20.2015 Economy

The budget plan ‘fixes an economy that, for too long, has failed to provide the opportunities American families need to get ahead,’ says Congressional Progressive Caucus
By Deirdre Fulton / Common Dreams

Offering a sustainable alternative to regressive federal budget proposals put forth this week by the Republican majorities on Capitol Hill, the Congressional Progressive Caucus on Wednesday released The People’s Budget: A Raise for America, which aims to “level the playing field” for low- and middle-income Americans.

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Thumbnail image for Fair Trade Is a Racial Justice Issue

Fair Trade Is a Racial Justice Issue

by Source 03.19.2015 Business

The struggle in towns like Ferguson to overcome racial and economic barriers is hard enough without another wrong-headed trade pact

By  / OtherWords

The work of repairing the racial fissures that broke wide open in Ferguson, Missouri last year goes beyond the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

It also goes beyond ending the practices highlighted in a Justice Department report that criticized Ferguson cops and courts for shaking down the city’s poor, black residents for revenue.

What else will it take? Good jobs.

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Thumbnail image for Group Seeks to Replace Jackson With a Woman on the $20 for 100th Birthday of the 19th Amendment

Group Seeks to Replace Jackson With a Woman on the $20 for 100th Birthday of the 19th Amendment

by Source 03.18.2015 Culture

By Meteor Blades / Daily Kos

Matt Iglesias at Vox first discussed what a good idea it would be to have a woman on the $20 bill last July. But it was a more recent Vox story by Libby Nelson that seems to have kicked off a surge in media attention given to the idea that is being promoted by the organization Women on 20s. The group is asking people to vote their choices from a roster of 15 women.

The list—already winnowed from 30 to 15—will be further culled through three rounds of voting. The group hopes to get 100,000 votes because that’s how many names it takes at the White House petition site to get an official response. The candidates: Alice Paul, Clara Barton, Frances Perkins, Susan B. Anthony, Rachel Carson, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, Barbara Jordan, Margaret Sanger, Patsy Mink, Harriet Tubman and Eleanor Roosevelt.

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Thumbnail image for A Housing Market Divided

A Housing Market Divided

by Source 03.18.2015 Business

Deregulation won’t solve California’s seemingly intractable affordable housing crisis on its own.

By David Dayen / Capital & Main

Housing markets get discussed in the media mostly through the channel of prices. Rising prices are considered good for the economy. They can connote increased sales, which would lead to more construction and real estate-related jobs. They also give homeowners more equity in their homes, and the consequent “wealth effect” – studies show personal spending jumps when people perceive an increase in their wealth – can benefit the economy.

But there’s a darker side to rising home prices. They harm affordability, particularly for first-time homebuyers. Since the collapse of the housing bubble, this group of potential purchasers has not returned to the market at the historical level of 2006. Because first-time homebuyers allow sellers to purchase bigger homes, their absence has blunted the impact of rising prices; the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that residential housing investment remains lower than the depths of any housing crash over the past 40 years.

Housing affordability is a major problem in the Golden State. The California Association of Retailers’ most recent Housing Affordability Index (HAI) shows that only 30 percent of the state’s households can afford to purchase an average-priced home in their area.

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Thumbnail image for The Battle Over the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Elizabeth Warren Strikes Back  Against the Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing

The Battle Over the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Elizabeth Warren Strikes Back Against the Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing

by Jim Miller 03.16.2015 Business

By Jim Miller

Just as the folks in the New Democrat Coalition (NDC) were gearing up to marginalize the progressive wing of the Democratic Party leading up to the 2016 election, Elizabeth Warren struck back with what even CNN reported as “a push to kill major trade negotiations” being championed by President Obama and previously supported by Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.

And it’s a very good thing that Warren has elevated the debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to the national media because proponents of this deal have done everything they can to keep the details secret. As I wrote in this column back in January, the TPP is one of the most under-reported stories in America, and it would affect most of us adversely as “it will increase the outsourcing of U.S. jobs, threaten collective bargaining, undermine environmental regulations, jeopardize food safety, limit access to affordable prescription drugs, and much more.”

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Thumbnail image for The Conundrum of Corporation and Nation

The Conundrum of Corporation and Nation

by Source 03.16.2015 Business

By Robert Reich / RobertReich.Org

The U.S. economy is picking up steam but most Americans aren’t feeling it. By contrast, most European economies are still in bad shape, but most Europeans are doing relatively well.

What’s behind this? Two big facts.

First, American corporations exert far more political influence in the United States than their counterparts exert in their own countries.

In fact, most Americans have no influence at all. That’s the conclusion of Professors Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University, who analyzed 1,799 policy issues and found that “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

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Thumbnail image for What We Lose with a Privatized Postal Service

What We Lose with a Privatized Postal Service

by Source 03.14.2015 Business

America’s founders recognized that commerce requires a common infrastructure.

By Katherine McFate / Other Words

Did you know that when you ship a package through Federal Express, the U.S. Postal Service often carries it the last mile?

Last year, the Postal Service delivered 1.4 billion packages for FedEx and UPS. In fact, it delivers the last mile for almost a third of FedEx packages. The 618,000 Postal Service workers also delivered nearly 66 billion pieces of first-class mail — that’s more than 100,000 pieces per carrier.

The Postal Service can reach all 150 million American households because it’s a public system that we’ve been investing in for over 200 years. Our Constitution tasked the federal government with creating a national postal system and told the Postmaster General to report to the president.

But in 1971, Congress made the service into an “independent agency” managed by a board of governors. And since then, it’s been under attack by politicians who never met a public program they liked.

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Thumbnail image for A Wealth Tax for California?

A Wealth Tax for California?

by Source 03.13.2015 Economy

By Roy Ulrich / Capital & Main

California has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s main poverty measure, 16.8 percent of all Californians and 23.5 percent of the state’s children lived in poverty in 2013. Yet it also has the most billionaires in the country: 111. The state’s 33,900 millionaire taxpayers (just .2 percent of the state’s taxpayers) have combined incomes of $104 billion. According to the California Budget Project, California has the seventh widest income gap between rich and poor among the 50 states, ranking between Alabama and Texas.

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Thumbnail image for Oil Trains: Death and Destruction on the Rails

Oil Trains: Death and Destruction on the Rails

by John Lawrence 03.03.2015 Business

Department of Transportation Predicts Oil Train Derailments Will Become Increasingly Common

By John Lawrence

On Monday Feb 16, 2015 an oil train carrying millions of pounds of crude oil derailed in Boomer, West Virginia. The accident was the latest in a spate of fiery derailments in Canada and the U.S. as vast quantities of oil are being moved across these nations through sensitive environments and large population centers.

A couple days earlier on Feb. 14, there was a crude oil train derailment south of Timmins, Ontario. It took almost a week in subzero temperatures for the fires to burn out. Both the West Virginia accident and the oil train derailment and fire in Ontario involved recently built tank cars that were supposed to be an improvement over a decades-old model in wide use that has proven susceptible to spills, fires and explosions – the Dot-111.

On July 6, 2013 a train was left on the tracks near Lac Megantic, Quebec, with the engines running while the lone engineer and employee on the train checked into a nearby hotel. During the night the brakes failed and the train rolled downhill and derailed. Much of downtown Lac Megantic was destroyed by a raging fire. Several train cars exploded and 40 buildings were leveled. 47 people died – incinerated and vaporized. No remains were found for five of them.

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Thumbnail image for Eve on the Move

Eve on the Move

by At Large 03.02.2015 Culture

The rising Feminine has something to offer our old fashioned religions

By Dr. Carol Carnes

The great American Man of Letters, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “be an opener of doors for such as come after thee and do not try to make the universe a blind alley.”

I interpret this to mean, contribute to the overall wisdom of the world. Do not perpetuate superstition and dogma. Challenge the isms that limit our experience of the greater good. Share your ideas with the young. Teach them to think critically. Show the power of Love by your own actions.

None of us lives in a private reality to the exclusion of the collective. We can go along with the tribes’ beliefs or we can be part of raising our shared version of reality. Those who speak out to challenge ideas that belonged in ancient times but do not serve us today, are making a great impression on the whole.

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Thumbnail image for The Right and the Righteous Aspire to Greatness at CPAC

The Right and the Righteous Aspire to Greatness at CPAC

by Doug Porter 02.27.2015 Activism

Infotainment for a Rainy San Diego Weekend

By Doug Porter

It’s time for that annual exercise in wingnuttery known as the Conservative Political Action Conference(CPAC), wherein activists of the far right persuasion gather in what Salon columnist Jim Newell calls the “fake shopping town of National Harbor, Maryland.”

Given that the biggest news around San Diego this morning appears to be anticipation about the arrival of rain (!) and possibly snow (!!) at the higher elevations, I’ll take the bait and share highlights from the annual gathering of the right and the righteous. 

It’s important to note that CPAC induces sympathetic craziness among the faithful who, for job-related reasons, are unable to attend during high profile sessions where CSPAN cameras may be turned on. This weekend is, after all, their turn to steal the spotlight from the liberal media’s endless praise of the Obama administration. 

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Thumbnail image for Why We’re All Becoming Independent Contractors

Why We’re All Becoming Independent Contractors

by Source 02.25.2015 Business

By Robert Reich

GM is worth around $60 billion, and has over 200,000 employees. Its front-line workers earn from $19 to $28.50 an hour, with benefits.

Uber is estimated to be worth some $40 billion, and has 850 employees. Uber also has over 163,000 drivers (as of December – the number is expected to double by June), who average $17 an hour in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., and $23 an hour in San Francisco and New York.

But Uber doesn’t count these drivers as employees. Uber says they’re “independent contractors.”

What difference does it make?

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Thumbnail image for Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 3

Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 3

by John Lawrence 02.17.2015 Business

By Frank Thomas and John Lawrence

Renewable Solutions Are Here Now and Technically Feasible Today

It is now clear, at least from a technical perspective, that we could eliminate fossil fuels over a period of 20 to 40 years. That’s if we went full steam ahead without being blocked by fossil fuel corporations, the politicians beholden to them and various other vested interests who stand to profit from the status quo.

In 2009 Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University and Mark Delucchi, a research scientist at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, came up with a detailed, groundbreaking road map for just how this could be accomplished. Their study showed how 100% of the world’s energy could be supplied by wind, water and solar (WWS) resources by as early as 2030. Their paper, which appeared in Scientific American, is called “A Plan for a Sustainable Future by 2030.”

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Thumbnail image for Five Reasons Losing an NFL Football Team is Good for a City

Five Reasons Losing an NFL Football Team is Good for a City

by Source 02.17.2015 Culture

By Bill Adams / UrbDezine

My family will attest, I’m a San Diego Chargers football fan. During football season, not only is the TV tuned to Chargers games, but so are multiple strategically located radios around the yard, lest I miss any action while attending to a honey-do task or breaking up an argument between my children.  Then there are the pre and post game shows, and wasted hours reading about the draft, trades, and other team side shows. Lest I forget to mention, I’m also a San Diego County resident – just outside the city’s boundaries.

However, the Chargers are one of several NFL teams, along with the St. Louis Rams and the Oakland Raiders, considered likely to move to another city unless they receive a new football stadium.  The likely recipient city: Los Angeles.

Ironically, each of these teams have been previous occupants of Los Angeles.  Whether the Chargers  remain in the San Diego or move to greener pastures is almost certainly tied to whether they receive a new stadium.  The same is true of the others. Teams argue that older stadiums are not capable of being modified to provide the modern amenities and environment to allow the teams to be financially competitive, i.e., maximize profits — lest anyone forget that NFL teams are private profit-driven businesses, not public assets.

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Thumbnail image for Racism Matters: Why We Do This Thing

Racism Matters: Why We Do This Thing

by Doug Porter 02.16.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter

This week the San Diego Free Press is taking a bit of a pause from our usual routine to focus on Race and Racism. Previous thematic efforts include War and Peace back in November and Guns in the week following the second anniversary of the sandy hook shootings.

While this daily column normally concerns itself with reviewing what other media are covering, I’m taking a minute out to encourage readers to join us on this journey of reflection and discussion. (And, yes, there is other news further down in the column.)

We’ve got an array of perspectives to share with readers this week. Today, Susan Grigsby and Jim Miller are looking into race & racism history, both nationally and locally. Looking into the drafts already completed for the week there are essays on the impact of racism on young black girls, inside looks by several writers on their developing racial consciousness, a late night tour of Old Town along with the ghosts of Cortez and the Kumeyaay and a terrific piece by Ricardo Levins Morales on whites fighting racism.

And there’s more… I hope you’ll read, comment on and share what we’re posting this week. Racism Matters is more than a slogan for us; it’s a core value.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego’s Racial Unconscious: History is the Narrative that Hurts

San Diego’s Racial Unconscious: History is the Narrative that Hurts

by Jim Miller 02.16.2015 Battle for Barrio Logan

…the insistence on what one might call “San Diego exceptionalism,” the notion that our city is somehow free of the same troubled history as the rest of the country, is at the heart of our city’s failure to truly serve the needs of all San Diegans. 

By Jim Miller

Last week, leading up to this week’s special focus on race and racism, the San Diego Free Press posted a story about a new report released by the Equal Justice Institute (EJI) that notes how, “Capital punishment and ongoing racial injustice in the United States are ‘direct descendants’ of lynching, charges a new study, which found that the pre-World War II practice of ‘racial terrorism’ has had a much more profound impact on race relations in America than previously acknowledged.”

This hidden history of racial terrorism in America is far more influential than many of us would prefer to acknowledge. As EJI Director Bryan Stevenson observes, “I also think that the lynching era created a narrative of racial difference, a presumption of guilt, a presumption of dangerousness that got assigned to African Americans in particular—and that’s the same presumption of guilt that burdens young kids living in urban areas who are sometimes menaced, threatened, or shot and killed by law enforcement officers.”

And if a lack of awareness or outright denial of the significance of our racist past is a problem in the United States at large, San Diego is certainly not immune though our civic religion—banal self-promotion by the tourism industry—would have us think otherwise. But underneath the official ahistorical pastiche of styles and fantasies designed to aid commerce and nature-packaged-as-spectacle there is another story.

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Thumbnail image for Community Planning Boards Have Democratic Elections Because of One Group From Ocean Beach

Community Planning Boards Have Democratic Elections Because of One Group From Ocean Beach

by Frank Gormlie 02.14.2015 Activism

The Ocean Beach Community Planning Group Was the Forerunner to OB’s Planning Board

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

On March 10, the Ocean Beach Planning Board will hold its annual election of Board members. It will take place at the OB Rec Center. Every resident, property owner and business-owner in Ocean Beach is authorized to vote – with ID proving residency.

One of the main reasons that this election is going forward in March – as it has been for the last 39 years – is because of the vision and diligence of a small group that existed back in the 1970s. It was the persistent push over a several-year period during the mid-70s for an election of this nature – a democratic election – to a neighborhood planning committee by an organization called the Ocean Beach Community Planning Group that was ultimately responsible for this democratic gain for communities.

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Thumbnail image for How To Save $12,000 a Year in San Diego? Drive Less!

How To Save $12,000 a Year in San Diego? Drive Less!

by John P. Anderson 02.13.2015 Activism

By John P. Anderson

Our family of four is a single-car household. We’ve lived in San Diego since Fall 2009 (5.5 years as of this writing) and have selected our residences in San Diego where we live based on where we work.

We’re currently on our third neighborhood. Having a short commute and a variety of transport options is important to us for reasons of both time and money. Today we use bicycles as our primary method of transport, supplemented by our car, bus, Car2Go, and Uber.

Our current car is a 2002 Ford Focus station wagon which we purchased in March 2012. We bought it with 72,700 miles and today, about three years later it has 88,130. Just 15,430 miles over three years yields an average of 5,143 miles per year.

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Thumbnail image for The Share-the-Scraps Economy

The Share-the-Scraps Economy

by Source 02.11.2015 Business

By Robert Reich

How would you like to live in an economy where robots do everything that can be predictably programmed in advance, and almost all profits go to the robots’ owners?

Meanwhile, human beings do the work that’s unpredictable – odd jobs, on-call projects, fetching and fixing, driving and delivering, tiny tasks needed at any and all hours – and patch together barely enough to live on.

Brace yourself. This is the economy we’re now barreling toward.

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Thumbnail image for Syriza Succeeds in Greece by Mainstreaming the Anti-Austerity Movement

Syriza Succeeds in Greece by Mainstreaming the Anti-Austerity Movement

by Source 02.11.2015 Activism

What US progressives can learn

By Kate Aronoff / Waging Nonviolence

On January 25, Syriza — a previously marginal, left-leaning coalition party in Greece — made history by winning the country’s general election. Winning 149 of 300 parliamentary seats, the party fell just two votes shy of an outright majority. Syriza’s leader, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras,became prime minister at the head of a coalition anti-austerity government, beating out the conservative New Democracy party and its now former prime minister, Antonis Samaras.

Many have attributed the party’s meteoric rise to power as a product of the brutal austerity conditions imposed on Greece by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union in their 2010 bailout of the country. Such measures have destroyed a quarter of the country’s GDP, and driven youth unemployment to an astounding 50 percent. At this point, the country’s non-working population outnumbers the employed as national debt continues to skyrocket.

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Thumbnail image for San Diego Group Gets Award to Expand Solar Power Use at Condos and Apartments

San Diego Group Gets Award to Expand Solar Power Use at Condos and Apartments

by John Lawrence 02.10.2015 Economy

By John Lawrence

Everywhere in San Diego you see solar panels being installed atop single family homes and large businesses. But hardly anywhere do you see them going in on the large number of local apartment buildings and condos.

Now the Department of Energy SunShot initiative has made a $712,000. grant to San Diego’s Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE) to study the reasons and do a pilot project to implement solar in such projects.

Condos and apartment buildings represent a huge amount of rooftop real estate which could be gathering in the sun’s rays to provide energy to the occupants within.

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Thumbnail image for Labor Unrest Spreads to Refineries, West Coast Ports, SoCal Edison and Football Stadiums

Labor Unrest Spreads to Refineries, West Coast Ports, SoCal Edison and Football Stadiums

by Doug Porter 02.09.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

Local gasoline prices have increased by roughly 20% over the past few weeks. Retailers dependent on imported goods are voicing concerns about bottlenecks in supplies coming through west coast ports. And that could be bad news for consumers. There’s more to the story than what you’ve likely seen or heard.

While the factors surrounding both these development are complex, a major element in each are labor unions seeking safe working conditions. In what amounts to a sad commentary on the state of the news media in the U.S. the coverage has been largely one dimensional, leading with management’s pronouncements about wages and benefits.

Right now the issues being put before the public are rising fuel costs and the possibility the next new gadget may be in short supply. What’s missing is the realization that the health and safety issues are at the core of these economic disruptions. Today I’ll try to round out the picture of what’s really happening here.

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