In ‘Long Overdue’ Ruling, Canada Approves Medical Abortion Pill

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By Sarah Lazare / Common Dreams

In a decision hailed as “great news” and “long overdue,” the regulator Health Canada announced Thursday that it has approved use of the medical abortion pill known as RU-486, sold under the brand name Mifegymiso.

“The decision to authorize Mifegymiso for the Canadian market was made further to a thorough review of the data package provided by the sponsor that supported the safety, efficacy and quality of the product,” said the agency.   [Read more…]

USC Report: Inequality Threatens San Diego’s Future

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By Doug Porter

A report by the University of Southern California’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) says long term prospects for San Diego’s economy are challenged by widespread inequality.

I could dazzle you with charts and figures (and there are plenty in the report), but here’s the bottom line: the way public policy is and has been made in San Diego benefits a few at the expense of the many. Trading short term greed for long term growth would be better for the overall economy and the environment.

The authors of the report point to metropolitan areas around the country where public and private entities have opted to work together on economic and environmental issues and are building platforms for sustainable growth. They also point to emerging data demonstrating that “greater economic and racial equality in regions corresponds with more robust growth in terms of employment, output, productivity, and per-capita income.”   [Read more…]

As Medicare Turns 50, It’s Time to Grow the Program

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It’s As American As Apple Pie

By Doug Porter

On July 30, 1965 President Lyndon Johnson signed legislation creating the Medicare program. After more than five decades of failed attempts dating back to President Theodore Roosevelt, at least some Americans were eligible for coverage under a federal health insurance program.

Today more than 54 million people are covered by Medicare. It’s far from perfect, but it’s a damn sight better than the alternatives being proposed by the GOP. In fact, many of the problems facing medicare can be addressed by e x p a n d i n g the program, an idea gaining currency nationally.

Registered nurses are leading the way, with actions in over 25 U.S. cities July 30th to honor Medicare and Medicaid’s 50th anniversary with a National Day of Action celebrating the theme, “Medicare is as American as Apple Pie.” (The nearest local action is in LA)  They’re calling on policy makers to protect, improve, and expand Medicare to cover all Americans with a single standard of quality care not based on ability to pay.   [Read more…]

Dreams and Nightmares on Medi-Cal

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It has been my dream, since my husband and I first started dating, to go with him to visit the ancient Maya sites that I wrote about 25 years ago in my novel, Place of Mirrors. Though we planned the trip several times, including for our honeymoon, one thing after another has caused us to postpone it.

A few months ago I got an email about an upcoming rafting expedition down the Usumacinta River that would stop at all of the sites I wanted to visit. We had met the guide for that trip, Rocky Contos, two years earlier, before I broke my leg.

He had suggested that we could get a reduced rate if we would work the trip – I could do cooking and my husband could do translating and assist with various chores. If we got some others to join us, it would cost almost nothing.   [Read more…]

Readers Write: There is No ‘Free Money’ for Stadium Study

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By Joe Flynn

Back to basics. All money in the city’s funds, coffers, treasure chests, you pick the title, is taxpayer money. In the effort to fund the Stadium Environmental Impact Report (EIR), the unanticipated refund from the state is being treated as “free” money.

Perhaps the term “refund” got lost in the shuffle; a refund usually implies that the money you paid or over paid, is being refunded, i.e., given back. It comes back to the city with the same restrictions that it had when it was paid. It may not be earmarked for a particular use, but that only implies that it goes back into the general fund.   [Read more…]

Economic Growth Doesn’t Make a Wealthy Nation, Safety and Happiness Do

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By Araz Hachadourian / Yes! Magazine

Worldwide economic wealth has quadrupled since 1970, and experts say it will continue to grow exponentially. But at the same time, poverty and economic inequality are on the rise.

Most countries use measures such as gross national product (GNP) and gross domestic product (GDP) to assess the health of their economies. But these only take into account economic activity and material wealth, leaving out factors like distribution of resources and quality of life.

In this video, Kate Raworth, economist and senior visiting research associate at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, explains how economies aimed only at growth are not enough.   [Read more…]

A New Wrinkle on the Chargers Stadium Story: Summer Olympics in LA?

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By Doug Porter

The city of Boston, Massachusetts bailed on its grand plans for hosting the 2024 Olympics yesterday and Los Angeles immediately became the next contender.

This development could be a game changer when it comes to the NFL’s thought processes on the future of the San Diego Chargers franchise.  An Olympic bid would provide additional impetus towards getting another venue built in LA.

The United State Olympic Committee has until September to figure out an alternative location. The chatter in the press is that the best option remaining is Los Angeles, host to the 1932 and 1984 games. LA’s proposed a bid centered on several clusters of venues including Exposition Park, Downtown, one along the LA River, the Westside, Long Beach, and –ta! da! –Carson.   [Read more…]

Pope Francis: “We’ve Turned the Earth into a Pile of Filth”

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By John Lawrence

Add Pope Francis to the world’s leaders who are calling for immediate action to combat climate change. In the Pope’s own words the earth has become a pezzo di merda, a piece of you know what. He has also described unbridled capitalism as the “dung of the devil.” Popes are not often given to scatological imagery to describe the predominant American economic system.

However, the Pope’s words are very important because he wields enormous moral authority. Would that the leading moral authorities from the world’s other major religions had the gumption to stand up and add their voices in the fight against climate change.

The Pope blames human greed for exploitation of the environment and an economic system that is geared to profit making rather than to rational development of natural resources which would benefit all mankind rather than just those at the top. The Pope’s 184 page encyclical is a radical statement: a condemnation of business as usual and a call for a restructuring on political and economic priorities.   [Read more…]

Whistleblower Exposes Torture and Child Abuse at For-Profit Prison

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By Sarah Lazare / Common Dreams

A social worker formerly employed at a for-profit family immigrant detention center in Texas blew the whistle this week on the prison’s inhumane conditions—from solitary confinement to medical neglect—that she said amount to child abuse and torture.

The Karnes County Residential Center is operated by GEO Group—the second largest private prison company in the country that has faced numerous accusations of atrocities and civil rights violations. It is also the site of recent—and repeated—hunger strikes led by mothers incarcerated with their children, in protest of their conditions, detentions, and in many cases, their looming deportations.   [Read more…]

How America Is Failing Its Schools

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America’s schools are not failing; America is failing its schools

By Salvatore Babones / Inequality.org

The 1983 blue-ribbon panel report A Nation At Risk exposed the dire state of America’s schools. The report was commissioned by Secretary of Education Terrel Bell to address “the widespread public perception that something is seriously remiss in our educational system.”

The commission included 12 administrators, 1 businessperson, 1 chemist, 1 physicist, 1 politician, 1 conservative activist, 1 teacher — and not a single expert on America’s educational system.

The report concluded that “declines in educational performance are in large part the result of disturbing inadequacies in the way the educational process itself is often conducted.” It advocated an expansion of standardized testing to ensure better performance.   [Read more…]

The Party of Death is Dying

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By Bob Dorn  

For years now the Republican Party has been the party of death. Now it may itself be dying. More about that later. For now, some numbers.

In 2014, 1,100 of 1359 executions performed by the states were the work of “Republican-dominated states,” according to Republicanviews.org on Oct. 26 of that year. Just more than 508 of those executions were in Texas, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which did the report.

Last May, the Quinnipiac poll taken on attitudes toward the war in Iraq, asked the question, “Do you think going to war with Iraq in 2003 was the right thing to do or the wrong thing?” Overall, 59% of Americans responded that it was wrong and 32% said it was right. Among the Republicans those numbers were more than reversed; 62% of them said it was right to go there and kill, while only 28% said it was wrong.   [Read more…]

Average Motorist’s Annual Cost for San Diego’s Crappy Roads: $843

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By Doug Porter

I can just hear the boosterism now: “We’re better than San Jose, Ole!”

Fifty one per cent of San Diego’s roads are considered to be in poor condition, according to a study released by TRIP, a national transportation research group.  The region has the eighth-highest rate of lousy roads nationally among large urban areas with more than a half million residents.

California cities dominated the study, taking 5 of the bottom 10 rankings. Coming in at number 5 was San Jose, with Concord, Los Angeles and San Francisco/Oakland topping the list.   [Read more…]

The Calamity of the Disappearing School Libraries

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Debra Kachel / The Conversation

From coast to coast, elementary and high school libraries are being neglected, defunded, repurposed, abandoned and closed.

The kindest thing that can be said about this is that it’s curious; the more accurate explanation is that it’s just wrong and very foolish.

A 2011 survey conducted with my graduate students of 25 separate statewide studies shows that students who attend schools with libraries that are staffed by certified librarians score better on reading and writing tests than students in schools without library services. And it is lower-income students who benefit the most.   [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…]

Hot Topics at ALEC’s 2015 Meeting in San Diego

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By Brendan Fischer / PR Watch

This week, the American Legislative Exchange Council, or “ALEC,” will bring together hundreds of corporate lobbyists with state and local politicians at a posh hotel in San Diego for the group’s annual meeting.

ALEC alum Scott Walker, who has signed over 20 ALEC bills into law, will address this month’s meeting, as well as Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz, who participated in ALEC meetings before he joined the U.S. Senate. Community groups are planning on bringing a little transparency to the proceedings, by welcoming the candidates and ALEC participants on July 22.   [Read more…]

JFK Pledged Cuban Isolation Would End with Soviet Threat

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By John Perr/ Daily Kos

After a half-century in mothballs, the Cuban embassy in Washington and the U.S. embassy in Havana reopened on Monday July 20.

But while the restoration of relations is popular with the American people, the usual suspects among the GOP White House hopefuls expressed outrage….

Unfortunately for all of the irredentists and revisionists of recent Cuban-American history, the man who began Washington’s diplomatic isolation and embargo of Havana made clear he would have ended both long ago.   [Read more…]

Measure of Deception: CA Initiative Would Gut Retirement Benefits for Millions

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By Bill Raden /Capital & Main

When Democratic former San Jose mayor Chuck Reed and Republican ex-San Diego councilmember Carl DeMaio finally unveiled the language for a promised attempt at getting a statewide public pension cutting measure to 2016 voters, the expectation was that Reed II would be a reined-in and more realistically-framed version of Reed I – last year’s failed attempt at undermining the public pension system.

That try for the 2014 ballot was aborted after Attorney General Kamala Harris slapped it with a candid, albeit politically untenable summary that frankly described the proposed constitutional amendment as targeting longstanding legal rights—rights that protect the pensions and retirement health care of the 1.64 million Californians enrolled in the state’s public pension systems.

But even veterans of the state’s public-sector retirement wars were unprepared for the sheer scale of what awaited them this time around. Amid the deceptively simple wording contained in the laudable-sounding “Voter Empowerment Act of 2016,” Reed-DeMaio concealed a hidden trigger that is now being recognized as a wholesale attempt to uproot 60 years of statutory law and a critical foundation of labor relations.    [Read more…]

ALEC Wants to Educate High Schoolers on Balanced Budgets and Austerity

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By Jonas Persson and and Mary Bottari / Center for Media and Democracy

The right-wing push to amend the U.S. Constitution by requiring a balanced federal budget is gaining momentum. In January, GOP Governor John Kasich of Ohio went on a six-state tour to rally support, and so far this year, New Jersey, Utah and North Dakota have passed resolutions calling for a Constitutional Convention to propose a balanced budget amendment. By some counts, 27 states have passed such resolutions; 34 are needed to trigger a convention.

Ronald Reagan called for a balanced budget amendment in the 1980s and Newt Gingrich included it in the 1994 Contract With America. A year later, ALEC joined the fray with a model resolution for states. Those who advocate for an amendment often cite “common sense” concerns about “fiscal responsibility.” But as history shows, the rhetoric often masks the outright hostility many proponents of the amendment have for key federal programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and for the regulatory infrastructure that protects consumers and the environment.   [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…]

So a Lobbyist and an ALEC Legislator Walk into a Bar…Caught on Tape by NBC

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Reposted from PR Watch/ Center for Media and Democracy

A lobbyist and a legislator got caught on tape explaining how corporations subsidize lawmakers’ resort trips through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the controversial corporate bill mill.

In a new report aired on Atlanta’s NBC TV Channel WXIA 11, Georgia investigative reporter Brendan Keefe went behind the scenes at ALEC’s spring meeting in Savannah, Georgia, where he chatted with lobbyists and lawmakers–and was summarily ejected by uniformed off-duty deputies for trying to film public officials at the task force meetings where future state laws are written.   [Read more…]

Help Save Our Public Postal Service

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By Dave Johnson / Campaign for America’s Future

The Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service is calling for support of two House resolutions that urge restoration of overnight mail service standards and a continuation of six-day delivery.

The alliance consists of more than 70 national organizations. The coalition is asking people to contact members of Congress in support of House Resolutions 54 and 12. H. Res. 54, from Reps. David McKinley (R-W.Va) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that the U.S. Postal Service “should take all appropriate measures to restore service standards in effect as of July 1, 2012.” H. Res. 12, from Reps. Sam Graves (R-MO) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA), says that the USPS “should take all appropriate measures to ensure the continuation of its six-day mail delivery service.”

These resolutions are in response to a new attempt to manufacture a crisis in postal delivery.   [Read more…]