Anti-Vaxxers’ Tactics Fail to Sway Legislature

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By Doug Porter

Gov. Jerry Brown signed off yesterday on legislation giving California one of the most far-reaching vaccination laws in the nation. Religious and personal-belief exemptions for schoolchildren will be phased out, starting next year.

Getting this bill passed turned out to be a major political battle. The combination of paranoia about government (on the right) and corporate greed (on the left) mixed with a solid dash of unfounded health concerns ended up being a recipe for political passion rarely seen on the legislative floor.

The anti-vaxxers, as they are popularly called, viewed this legislation as a battle for the lives of their children and the liberties of the nation. They’ve indicated that litigation will be their next step.   [Read more…]

For Hundreds of Families, There’s No Place Like Home in San Diego

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By Jeeni Criscenzo del Rio

I had just returned from a 3-hour forum on options for housing homeless people. The Amikas phone was ringing and I rushed to answer it while flinging the handouts and brochures from the event onto my desk. The hopeful but timid voice on the other end of the call sounded all too familiar. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t make out her name, I already knew her story and why she was calling Amikas.

Although our agency closed the last of our residential programs last month, there are still listings for us throughout the county and I’m still getting calls like this one. This woman found our card tacked on the bulletin board at the LGBT Community Center and thought we would be the answer to her prayers. She is seven months pregnant and has two kids, 6 and 7 years old. She’s been homeless for six months.   [Read more…]

Student Loan Default a Growing Trend?

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By John Lawrence

With over a trillion dollars in outstanding student loans, young college graduates are being forced to take jobs they hate in order to pay them back. Their futures consist of debt peonage for as far as the eye can see. Some are opting out of a lifetime of death-in-debtorhood and choosing instead to start over living the life that they foresaw when they enrolled in college in the first place. Such a one is Lee Siegle whose June 6 opinion piece in the New York Times laid out his rational for defaulting on his student loan.

His decision was made based on choosing life over death …   [Read more…]

Nuclear Shutdown News – June 2015: Balloon Shuts Down Troubled Indian Point Plant

A Mylar balloon similar to this one led to a sequence of events that shut down the Indian Point nuke plant.

By Michael Steinberg / Black Rain Press

Nuclear Shutdown News chronicles the continuing decline of the US nuclear industry, and the efforts of those who are working to bring about a nuclear free future. As US nukes increasingly approach or surpass their 40 year lives, they are becoming more qnd more dangerous and outdated. They need to be shut down and replaced with renewable energy sources—now!

1. Balloon Shuts Down Indian Point Plant

On June 16 the New York state The Journal News reported, “a balloon tangled in electrical wires led to a sequence of events resulting in the shutdown of the Indian Point nuclear plant,” which is located 35 miles up the Hudson River from New York City.   [Read more…]

Protecting Mauna Kea: “We Are Satisfied With The Stones”

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Editor’s note: Contributor Will Falk has been working and living with protesters on Mauna Kea who are attempting to block construction of an 18-story astronomical observatory with an Extremely Large Telescope (ELT).  Opposition in Hawaii to the building of the telescope is based on concerns about potential disruption to the fragile alpine environment and the fact that Mauna Kea is a sacred site for the Native Hawaiian culture.  On June 24th, agents with the Department of Land and Natural Resources abandoned an attempt to escort construction workers to the proposed location after discovering the only road up the mountain was not navigable.  

By Will Falk

The pohaku stopped the Thirty Meter Telescope construction last Wednesday. They began appearing on the Mauna Kea Access Road like raindrops. First, they were sprinkled lightly underfoot. A small rock here. A larger one there. The cops cussed and swore as they tried to remove them from the path of their seemingly unstoppable paddy wagons.

As the cops ascended, washing over the lines of Mauna Kea Protectors standing in their way, small piles grew into a drizzle of stones formed in the gathering fog. Then, the pohaku became a downpour. Looking up the road half-a-mile, I saw heavy boulders standing up, marching to meet us, making it impossible for the TMT construction crews and their police escort to climb any higher.   [Read more…]

Under Green Party Banner, Jill Stein Officially Sets Sights on 2016

Jill Stein at an Occupy Wall Street demonstration in 2012.

Power to the People Plan ‘would end unemployment and poverty; avert climate catastrophe; build a sustainable, just economy; and recognize the dignity and human rights of everyone in our society’

By Deidre Fulton / Commom Dreams

Vowing to combat the “converging crises” of racism, militarism, climate change, and “extreme materialism,” Dr. Jill Stein announced this week that she is running for president of the United States as a Green Party candidate.

In a campaign kick-off speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Stein laid out the major planks of her platform, …   [Read more…]

A More Perfect Union: Let’s Just Call it “Marriage” Now

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“They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling Friday morning was a historic victory for gay rights. The majority said the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live.

This decision is the culmination of two decades of Supreme Court litigation over marriage, and gay rights generally, with Justice Anthony Kennedy writing the majority opinion, just as he did in three other major gay rights cases dating back to 1996.

As is true with any major shift in the political and social landscape, there are winners and losers. Today we’ll look at some of those reactions…
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The Disappearing Joshua Trees of Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree Sunset (National Park Service)

By Susan Grigsby / Daily Kos

In April of this year, a small group of scientists from Joshua Tree National Park and the University of California Riverside’s Center for Conservation Biology, joined by volunteers from Earthwatch, spread out across the national park to count and measure the plants, insects, reptiles, and animals they found within each of the 27 22-acre plots.They were looking to create a baseline against which the future death of desert species can be measured. Why? Because the modeling done thus far indicates the possible loss of 90 percent of the habitat of Joshua trees within the national park named after them. It is getting hot out here.   [Read more…]

Obamacare Lives!

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By Doug Porter

There may be more symbolic votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the House of Representatives, but the days of broad challenges to the Obama administration’s signature health insurance reform legislation are over.

The Supreme Court today rejected a challenge (6-3, King v Burwell) constructed by conservative groups to eliminate the mechanism for insurance subsidies in states opting out of setting up their own exchanges.  The stated aim of this litigation was to “to drive a stake through [the ACA’s] heart.”

Chief Justice Roberts was joined by the court’s liberal justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, as well as Anthony Kennedy in defending the intent of the law.   [Read more…]

Where there’s Smoke, Is there a Fire Sale? How San Diego Sells Our Surplus Properties

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When citizen input is eliminated, are the “real” customers brokers and developers?

Best keep a look out the backdoor. The City is apparently in a mood to sell land. How much and to whom and when is not too clear, but they are already making lists and lining up brokers. A few citizens were on hand for a presentation to the June 10 meeting of the City Council Smart Growth and Land Use Committee on “Potential Sale of 14 Surplus Properties owned by the City of San Diego”.

The “For Information Only” power point was entitled “Excess Property Sales for Action Before City Council in 2015”. There were actually 16 on one list for “Excess Sales Using Brokers” and another 11 on a list titled “Exclusively Negotiated/Direct Sales”. And then there was another “Direct Sale” listed all by itself for the Villa Montezuma historical museum building. So maybe it was 28 excess properties. And every Council District has at least one listing on one or the other of the lists.
  [Read more…]

Donna Frye Calls for “Massive River Park” at Qualcomm Stadium Site

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By Frank Gormlie / The OB Rag

Donna Frye is trying to upset the apple cart that surrounds all the discussion about the Chargers and the Qualcomm football stadium site. On Monday, June 22nd she called for “a massive river park” at the 166-acre Mission Valley site.

In an Op-Ed piece in Voice of San Diego, Donna Frye—former City Councilwoman for the district that includes Mission Valley—called for something akin to another Balboa Park or Mission Bay Park.

In her piece, Frye dismissed the discussion about whether the Chargers want the current site and all the discussion about commercial and residential development of it, instead declared that it actually is “a big opportunity staring us right in the face—the potential to create a real San Diego River Park.”   [Read more…]

One in Every 122 Humans Forcibly Displaced by War and Persecution: UN

Refugees and migrants on a fishing boat pictured before making contact with the Italian navy.

New report exposes ‘unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before.’

By Sarah Lazare / Common Dreams

As wars and persecution escalate worldwide, one out of every 122 people on the planet is a refugee, seeking asylum, or internally displaced, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported Thursday.

Taken together, this population of humans wrenched from their homes by violence would constitute the 24th largest country in the world.   [Read more…]

Trade Deal Passes Key Test in Senate as Thirteen Democrats Defect (UPDATED)

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By Doug Porter

On Tuesday morning the US Senate passed a procedural measure effectively granting Fast Track Authority for the executive branch on trade pacts. The vote was 60-37, exactly the number of yes votes needed to avoid a filibuster.

Proponents of the legislation say the trade pacts it will likely enable are needed for US companies to be competitive in the world marketplace. Opponents point to the reality that the only “winners” from past deals have been stockholders as hundreds of thousands of domestic jobs have simply vanished. The President promised to negotiate a better deal.

Republican leaders, according to the New York Times, found a parliamentary maneuver allowing them to separate a companion law defeated in the House of Representatives that threatened to block passage of the bill.   [Read more…]

A Small Restoration Is a Big Deal in Mission Bay

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By Robert Little / The OB Rag

There is a lot of action at the corner of Pacific Beach Drive and Crown Point Drive in Pacific Beach these days. The visible construction of grading for a small restoration project behind the marsh fence started in May of this year but the preparations started more than two years ago and the covering of the bare sandy soil will take at least six months to complete. The work is restricted to the portion of the marsh owned by the University of California and managed by UCSD.   [Read more…]

The San Diego-Tijuana Boundary Monuments

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By Barbara Zaragoza

In 1848, the U.S.-Mexican War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The treaty stipulated that Mexico relinquish 1.2 million square miles of its territory to the United States in return for $15 million. It also assigned a Joint U.S. and Mexican Boundary Commission to determine the exact location of the new boundary line.

The Commission consisted of a large caravan of men, including a commissioner and a surveyor for both sides. The drawing of the boundary line took two years to complete–from 1849 to 1851. The Joint Commission erected 52 boundary monuments with #1 overlooking the Pacific Ocean in what today is Border Field State Park.   [Read more…]

All Aboard! Get Ready for the Great White Line Skyway

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By Doug Porter

On Friday we learned about a proposal moving forward to add a two-mile long aerial tram from Balboa Park to the Bay. County Supervisor Ron Roberts, apparently suffering from a legacy complex, found $75,000 in spare change under the seat cushions around his office to fund a “let’s do this!” study by consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff.

To nobody’s surprise, the San Diego Association of Governments’ transportation committee loved the idea, directing its staff to start the process of making the “Skyway” operational in five years or so.

Since San Diego’s light rail system has color coded routes, it only makes sense to stick with this scheme. So let’s call this newest leg the “White Line.” Because that’s who it will be serving: white people and assorted tourists looking for a cheap thrill.   [Read more…]

Congressman Scott Peters Defends His Yes Votes on Trade Promotion Authority (Fast Track)

Photo Credit: John Nicksic

By Martha Sullivan 

On Saturday, I stood with this sign outside the HQs of the San Diego County Democratic Party in a “Walk of Shame” for my Congressman, Scott Peters, as he arrived to address the monthly meeting of the Council of Clubs.  We were there after two years of lobbying this Congressman on the secret, corporate-negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and its companion Fast Track bill, who told us a year ago he would vote No, but who succumbed to the White House charm offensive and delusions of grandeur to vote Yes with a handful of other Democrats in our California Congressional Delegation.

After he walked our gauntlet, I followed him into the meeting, as a registered Democrat who has been very active in the San Diego County Democratic Party since 2004, including co-founding its vaunted Grassroots Organizing (GO) Team in 2005 and serving as Vice Chair for the North Area in 2009-11.  I am a member of two local Democratic Clubs, the Democratic Woman’s Club of San Diego County and the Clairemont Democratic Club.   [Read more…]

Protecting Mauna Kea: This Is A War

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By Will Falk

Sitting outside the 10 by 20 foot makeshift tent that has served as my home for the last 34 days on Mauna Kea, I watch the tent poles shudder to the concussion of US Army howitzer cannons firing live shells at their training grounds below. When the wind blows just right, from the south, the rattle of automatic rifle fire reaches the occupation. There’s no denying it: A war rages in Hawai’i.

It’s a war on native peoples, a war on women, a war on the land, a war on life itself. The war did not start in Hawai’i. The war began thousands of years ago with the dawn of civilization when some humans chose to live in population densities high enough that they overshot the carrying capacity of their homelands and turned to dominating other peoples in other lands. Imperialism was born, and one-by-one land-based, truly sustainable human societies were either eradicated or forced into assimilation.   [Read more…]

In-Home Care Recipients Cautiously Applaud New Budget

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By Steven Mikulan / Capital & Main

The 467,000 Californians who receive assistance from the state’s In-Home Supportive Services are breathing a little better, if not easier, now that a new budget has restored care cuts to the agency. The program typically assists elderly, blind and disabled people on low incomes with housework, meal preparation, personal hygiene and other services; by paying individuals through the state to perform these tasks, the care recipients are able to remain in their homes and avoid being institutionalized – which also saves taxpayers millions of dollars.   [Read more…]

Mayor Looks to the NFL in Chargers Stadium Dilemma

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By Doug Porter

The chickens are coming home to roost for San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, whose PR-centric program aimed at resolving the local football team’s quest for a new facility has been called out by Chargers spokesman Mark Fabiani.

Calling the city’s latest plans “misguided” and “doomed,” Fabiani made the rounds of the local media yesterday, making it clear that there was nothing left to negotiate.

The mayor’s surrogates have also been active, assuring people that the city did have a viable course for getting to a new stadium and suggesting that Mr. Fabiani was the real problem.   [Read more…]

It’s Not Right: San Diego Life Guards Do Not Receive the Same Health Coverage as Firefighters

OB lifeguard returning after a rescue. Photo by Annie Lane

Lifeguards Deserve Presumptive Coverage

By Ed Harris / The OB Rag

When a San Diego Firefighter or Police officer is injured or contracts an illness while performing their job, the City provides them with presumptive health coverage. Presumptive coverage includes meningitis, tuberculosis and hepatitis, to name a few.

Since San Diego Lifeguards are part of the San Diego Fire Department, one would think they’d be provided that same presumptive coverage. They are not.

  [Read more…]

Protecting Mauna Kea: Vocabulary for Haoles

Native Hawaiians believe that Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano more than 9,000 feet above sea level, is the most sacred place on all of the islands. (Courtesy Marie Alohalani Brown via Indian Country Today Media Network)

By Will Falk

I write these words from the floor of a warm corner of the men’s restroom at the Mauna Kea visitor center. The temperature outside is too cold for my laptop battery to take a charge and the restroom houses the only active plug, so I huddle in this corner to combat the words used by those who seek to destroy what I love.

I’ve been on Mauna Kea for the last 24 nights standing in solidarity with Kanaka Maoli as they protect their sacred mountain from the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project that would dynamite an eight acre patch two stories deep at the pristine summit of Mauna Kea.
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The Border Patrol’s ‘Culture of Impunity’

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Border Patrol internal affairs department absolves agents in 67 lethal force cases

By Nadia Prupis / Common Dreams

In case after case involving U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) shooting and killing unarmed people, agents were cleared of wrongdoing by the CBP’s internal affairs department—including in the killings of children and U.S. citizens.

Investigations into 67 shooting incidents, 19 of which were fatal, absolved agents in all but three cases, which are still pending, the LA Times reported on Monday. Only two agents in total were disciplined—with an oral reprimand, the Times wrote.

Even in cases where evidence of criminal misconduct was presented, agents still went free of charges.   [Read more…]

Someone Finally Polled the 1% — And It’s Not Pretty

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By Aurianda / Daily Kos

Last May, The Campaign for America’s Future gave a conference on The New Populist Majority. The keynote speaker was Elizabeth Warren. The conference confronted the meme that the US is a “center-right” country.

Most interesting to me was the fact that they obtained poll results from “the 1%.” Typically, “upper income” in polling is considered “over $250K/yr” or even “over $150K/yr.” Such people are rich compared to most, but they do not have enough money to buy elections with their spare change.

The poll results for this comparison came from the Russell Sage Foundation. “Elites” are defined as at or near “the 1%” in wealth with an average income of $1M/yr or more. The perspectives of this group are compared to responses from other polls such as Pew and Gallup.   [Read more…]

SDSU/CPI Study Finds Wage Theft, Labor Law Violations and Discrimination in Local Restaurants

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By Doug Porter

A study by San Diego State University Department of Sociology and the Center on Policy Initiatives found persuasive evidence of widespread wage theft, labor law violations and widespread discrimination in restaurants throughout San Diego.

If you went in to a grocery store and took something without paying, you’d face arrest. If you robbed a bank you’d be eligible for jail time. Both are thefts. Both are crimes.

But if you’re an employer in the restaurant industry and fail to pay an employee’s wages –also a crime–, chances are good to excellent that you’ll get way with it. So this morning we’re learning  there’s a crime wave going on in San Diego. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.   [Read more…]