As Secret Trade Talks Reveal Cracks, Demonstrators Aim Death Blows at TPP

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Pacific trade deal opponents hope that if Atlanta round fails, pro-corporate TPP could be knocked off track indefinitely

By Deidre Fulton / CommonDreams

As trade ministers from around the world continued meeting in Atlanta on Thursday for final-stretch negotiations on the corporate-friendly Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), civil society groups demonstrated on the streets in a final salvo against a deal they describe as “a wholesale auction of our rights, our freedoms, and our democracy to multinational corporations who put profits over people.”

“They’re getting close, but we can stop them,” reads the Citizens Trade Campaign’s call-to-action. “If we do, and the Atlanta round fails, many believe the TPP could be knocked off track indefinitely.”   [Read more…]

University Contract Workers Wages –Or Lack Thereof– in the Crosshairs


By Doug Porter

Today (Oct 1), some contract employees working on University of California facilities will be seeing a pay hike to $13 an hour. The university system is California’s third largest employer and the largest employer in San Diego.

Earlier this year UC President Janet Napolitano announced a plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over a three-year roll-out for all workers, including contract ones, and today’s bump is just the first stage.  

Or maybe they won’t be seeing that raise. The Los Angeles Times reports the Department of Labor has launched an investigation into long-time contractor Performance First Building Services failure to pay overtime to workers cleaning up after sporting events at UC Berkeley.   [Read more…]

To Cut Costs, College Students Are Buying Less Food and Even Going Hungry

Students in classroom

By Sara Goldrick-Rab, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Katharine Broton, University of Wisconsin-Madison / The Conversation

Studies have long shown that a college student’s odds of achieving financial security and a better quality of life improve when he or she earns a degree.

But what are some of the obstacles that prevent degree attainment?

At the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, we study the challenges that students from low- and moderate-income households face in attaining a college degree. Chief among these are the many hurdles created by the high price of college. Paying the price of attending college, we find, changes who attends and for how long, as well as the college experience itself – what classes students take, the grades they earn, the activities in which they engage and even with whom they interact.

Our recent research shows an alarming trend on college campuses: an increasing number of students tell us that they are struggling in college, sometimes even dropping out, because they can’t afford enough of life’s basic necessity – food.   [Read more…]

Stand Up for Planned Parenthood on #PinkOutDay in San Diego


By Doug Porter

Today’s the day. Three months into the latest effort by the self-righteous right to make women’s health into a wedge issue, supporters of Planned Parenthood are standing up for their cause.

There are 4 “Pink Out Day” events in San Diego County and 249 actions around the country planned for September 29th. Coincidentally (okay, maybe not), this is also the same day Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards will face off against the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Back in July, an organization called the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a series of videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood doctors selling parts from aborted fetuses to researchers for profit, which would have been illegal. The videos were selectively edited. The people behind the CMP have a long history of harassing medical personnel and women visiting clinics.   [Read more…]

Your Weed Killer Might Kill You

Mike Mozart/Flickr

By Jill Richardson / OtherWords

When I began writing about agriculture nearly a decade ago, I learned quickly that people generally believed that Roundup, the best-selling weed killer made by Monsanto, was relatively harmless.

Roundup breaks down quickly, everyone said — and into non-toxic components, they added. If homeowners can buy it at gardening stores, and cities around the United States use it to kill weeds in parks where children play, it must be benign, right?

Wrong. Within the past year, the story has changed.   [Read more…]

Returning From Darkness: National Suicide Prevention Month


By Will Falk

I am an attempted suicide survivor. I tried to kill myself twice – once in April, 2013 and again in August, 2013. It has been over two years and I am still struggling to make sense of what I did. I just learned that September is National Suicide Prevention Month and for the last several days I have lost myself reading heart-breaking story after heart-breaking story of those affected by suicide – both attempted and successful.

The first time I tried to kill myself I was in Milwaukee, WI. I was a public defender in Kenosha, WI and was overcome with anxiety, guilt, and a spiritual kind of exhaustion when I came back to my empty apartment on a snowy, Wednesday night. Looking myself in the eye in the mirror, I realized I did not want to wake up the next morning. I put on my pajamas, brushed my teeth, and swallowed a whole bottle of sleeping pills.

I woke up in the emergency room – my throat coated in charcoal, the hair on my chest ripped from the monitors, my arms and hands pricked with needle marks where they missed my veins with the I.V. in the ambulance. A doctor asked me if I knew what happened. “I tried to kill myself,” I said. So, they involuntarily committed me to the psyche ward of St. Francis Hospital on the shores of Lake Michigan on the south side of Milwaukee.   [Read more…]

Junipero Serra’s Sainthood Dismays Many


By Doug Porter

Eighteenth century Franciscan missionary Junipero Serra will be canonized by Pope Francis this week. Hailed by the church as “the evangelizer of west in the United States” and reviled by descendants of the indigenous people living along the coast, Serra’s ascension to sainthood is a controversial move.

The expulsion of the Jesuit order from the Spanish colonies by King Carlos III brought Serra to Baja California. In 1769, the government, fearful of intrusions by Russian traders to the north, dispatched the Franciscans to what we now call California.  Serra founded nine missions, starting with the Mission San Diego de Alcalá and went about the business of ‘civilizing’ the local inhabitants.

Tales of the conquest of California by Spanish soldiers and Catholic missionaries by supporters of the church tend towards laying the blame for much of the ensuing slaughter on the military. Serra viewed the native population as children, children who needed the kind of brutal discipline meted out by the Franciscan order in order to find salvation.   [Read more…]

The Fight Against GMOs and Toxic Food

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While Other Countries Ban GMOs, US Congress Endorses Them

By John Lawrence

Scotland has banned genetically modified organisms (GMOs) within its country. “Scotland is known around the world for our beautiful natural environment—and banning growing genetically modified crops will protect and further enhance our clean, green status,” said rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead. Here in the US the fight is just for the right to know that a food product should be labeled as GMO, and that’s not going so well.

Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015. This is BS, of course, since the bill’s real purpose is to preempt the rights of state and local governments to pass laws requiring the mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), to overturn GMO labeling laws already in place in several states, and to prevent the passage of any federal mandatory GMO labeling law in the future. So there is no free speech insofar as knowing what’s in something we are eating is concerned. The law’s attempt is to suppress truth in labeling.

GMOs were developed primarily to be resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup so that Roundup could be sprayed directly on crops and only the weeds would die. So whether or not GMO corn and soybeans are good or bad for you, the presence of poison sprayed on them can’t be too good for human consumers when they eat such crops. Especially crops such as grapes and apples which have very thin skins and are vulnerable to soaking up the herbicides and pesticides sprayed on them.   [Read more…]

Creative Protests Mark Planned Parenthood ‘Show Trial’ in DC, Anti-Choice Group Meeting in San Diego


By Doug Porter

Battles over abortion, a key element in the right’s war against women, continue on both coasts this week.

In Washington DC, the House Judiciary Committee opened hearings expressly designed to garner publicity for a coming effort to defund Planned Parenthood. Today’s Washington Post quotes a former top Republican congressional budget aide saying there’s about a 60% chance of a government shutdown over the issue.

This week Care Net, an umbrella organization claiming more than 1,100 faux “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) around the country, is having its 2015 National Conference at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina on Harbor Island. A pro-choice group placed ads in the Daily Aztec and Union-Tribune yesterday touting a “tourist guide” filled with the kind of unreliable information they say women receive when visiting Care Net’s crisis pregnancy centers.   [Read more…]

It’s a FACT, Jack: State Senate Passes Bill Aimed at Faux Women’s Clinics


By Doug Porter

This week the State Senate voted 23-14 to approve Assembly Bill 775, the Reproductive FACT Act, sending it on to Gov. Jerry Brown.  Backed by a coalition that includes NARAL Pro-Choice and Planned Parenthood California,  AB 775 takes aim at the 200 plus so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) statewide.

The groups supporting the bill say the CPCs spread medical misinformation aimed at manipulating women to keep them from accessing abortion care. Unlicensed facilities  providing pregnancy-related services would be required to prominently display and include in their advertising a statement that clarifies that they are not medical facilities licensed by the state of California.

An undercover investigation by NARAL earlier this year found that 91% of CPCs visited falsely linked abortion with health problems like breast cancer, infertility, depression and even death.   [Read more…]

As Young Refugee Boy Identified, Photos Representing His ‘Outcry’ Reverberate

Aylan Kurdi and his older brother, Galip. (Photograph: Twitter)

Three-year-old Aylan Kurdi drowned along with his mother, Rehan, and older brother, Galip, while the family attempted to cross the sea from Turkey to Greece on Wednesday.

By John Queally / Common Dreams

As new details emerge about the young Syrian boy, now identified as three-year-old Aylan Kurdi—who drowned along with his mother, Rehan, and older brother, Galip, while the family attempted to cross the sea from Turkey to Greece on Wednesday—the global impact of the pictures has perhaps fulfilled the “sorrowful” hopes of the photographer who took the images in order to “make heard his outcry.”

It has now been reported that the father, Abdullah Kurdi, was the only member of the family of four to survive when the boat they and other refugees were traveling in capsized off the Turkish coast. In all, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency, 12 people drowned when two boats attempting to reach the island of Kos capsized. Eight of the 12 were children. The news agency subsequently reported that several individuals had been arrested on smuggling charges related to the incident.   [Read more…]

Police Deaths Matter. Now, Can We Talk About Injustice?


By Doug Porter

The gang at Fox News is doing their damnest to make a connection between #BlackLivesMatter and police officers killed in the line of duty.  Yesterday, Megyn Kelly and Katie Pavlich characterized Black Lives Matter as violent, with Pavlich calling it “a movement that promotes the execution of police officers.”

Elsewhere in the media the implied story is that cops are getting mowed down at a dramatically increasing rate.  The Los Angeles Times ran with a story saying “the recent bloodshed feels different.” 

CNN does it by slight of hand in its coverage of Illinois police officer Charles Joseph Gliniewicz and Texas Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth, telling us that the number of deaths in the line of duty this year has increased from 73 to 85.   [Read more…]

‘My Body, My Choice’ Is Not True for Women In Poverty, In Federal Employment, or In the Military

young african nurse comforting female patient in doctor's office

By Susan Grigsby / Daily Kos

“My body, my choice” is a privilege for those whose insurance provides coverage for abortions (assuming that their employers don’t object), or who can afford to pay the expense out of pocket.That privilege doesn’t extend to women who receive Medicare or Children’s Healthcare Insurance Program benefits, the dependents of federal employees, dependents of military service members, Peace Corps volunteers, clients of Indian Health Service, and women in federal prisons, including immigration detention centers. As many as 20 million women are impacted not just by the 1976 Hyde Amendment (which has been reauthorized every year since), but by additional restrictions imposed by Congress in the early 1980s.   [Read more…]

Group Behind Planned Parenthood Attacks has Close Ties to Extremists

planned parenthood signs

Senior Policy Advisor convicted of conspiring to bomb a San Diego abortion clinic in 1988

By Joan McCarter / Daily Kos

The group behind the falsified videos attacking Planned Parenthood calls itself a “group of citizen journalists,” but is of course not actually journalists. What the so-called Center for Medical Progress really is is a group of committed anti-abortion activists with close ties to “some of the country’s hardest-line anti-abortion extremists,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The group’s leader and one of the actors in the videos is David Daleiden, “who was previously the director of research for Live Action News.” Live Action also produced falsified Planned Parenthood videos, in a failed effort to bring the organization down. But it’s the board members of CMP that have the strongest ties to extremist groups.   [Read more…]

SANDAG’s Transportation Plan is Stuck in Reverse

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By Hutton Marshall /

Climate change is a local issue that reaches every corner of the globe. Human activities, especially burning coal, oil and gas, are pumping heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. More than any other time in human history, we’re seeing unlivable marine habitats, rising seas that threaten to subsume coastal societies, and, on land, increases in extreme weather including droughts, floods and severe storms. The changes are happening everywhere, but the effects are felt locally. And the solutions have to come from changes we make in every community.

At SanDiego350, a local nonprofit fighting climate change, we believe that San Diego is at an important crossroads where we must decide how we will reduce our contribution to Earth’s looming climate crisis.  Once a month in the San Diego Free Press we’ll discuss some of these issues, and how San Diegans can help address them.   [Read more…]

Women’s Equality Day: Celebrating the Success of Militant Protest


The argument of the broken pane of glass is the most valuable argument in modern politics.–Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst

By Doug Porter

Women’s Equality Day (August 26th) marks anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, giving women the right to vote.

There are observances this week in San Diego, including a re-enactment of an early-century Suffrage march in Balboa Park.

Organizations including the League of Women Voters, the United Nations Women’s Equity Council, the Older Women’s League and others, will join members and supporters of the Women’s Museum at 5pm for a Rally on Thursday, (Aug 27th) at the Kate Sessions Statue, at the 6th Avenue end of the Cabrillo Bridge, followed by a parade across the bridge info the Organ Pavilion where the last free concert of the summer will be held at 6:30pm.

While this commemoration will be celebratory in nature, it’s important to remember, as Frederick Douglass once said, “Power never concedes nothing without a demand.” In many sanitized versions of US history, the struggle leading up to that victory is depicted as controversial only because women left their roles as wives and house-makers to protest. The reality of what transpired is considerably different.   [Read more…]

But First …


Living with ADHD in a distractive world

By Jeeni Criscenzo

I was surprised at the number of comments made to a recent post I put on Facebook about Attention Deficient Disorder with a photo of my desk that included such strange things as a small brown egg and a ½” diamond drill bit. It seems that my incessant state of distraction is a common problem in people my age (aka Seniors).

One person informed me that there is such a thing as Age-Activation Attention Deficit Disorder – AAADD ! Another linked to a comical video about a woman who went from one task to another without getting anything accomplished.

I didn’t laugh. When you have spent your life dealing with an inability to focus alternating with hyper-focusing, both to the detriment of yourself and everyone around you, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) isn’t very funny.   [Read more…]

Stolen Pay, Stolen Lives: It’s Time to Beef Up Enforcement for Wage Theft in California


By Doug Porter

On the eve of an assembly committee hearing, the California Fair Paycheck Coalition and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST) have released a new video showing the link between human trafficking and wage theft.

The state Senate has already passed SB 588, authored by Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, enhancing the ability of the state labor commissioner to fight wage theft and help workers collect stolen pay.

Currently only 17% of workers receiving judgements for stolen wages are able to collect payment. Research indicates low-wage workers lose, on average, 12.5% of their annual income to wage theft.   [Read more…]

Area Legislators Return to Sacramento for a Final Push


By Doug Porter

If you want to understand the issues at play in California politics, keep an eye on the last 20 working days of this year’s legislative session in Sacramento.

Bills will be debated, lobbied and amended. Some will face vetoes from the Governor.

San Diego’s delegation to the statehouse has done an impressive job in this session with several measures remaining to be voted on. Today we’ll take a look at some of the legislation, with an emphasis on our local legislators, up for consideration in the coming days.   [Read more…]

Lazy Fare in the Garden: Just Let It Be


By Jeeni Criscenzo

Ever since I read the book Noah’s Garden by Sara Stein, I’ve taken a more laissez-faire attitude toward gardening. While I haven’t let my garden return back to its pre-human-intervention state, I’ve stopped being so controlling about what gets to grow where.

One of the best features of the home we rent is the big flat, unshaded yard overlooking the Tecolote Canyon. While the soil needed a lot of amending, it’s otherwise a perfect place for a vegetable garden. The 5-foot cinder block wall isn’t pretty, but it’s kept the coyotes out (so far)–the other critters – not so much.

I noticed this morning that something (most likely a squirrel) had polished off every leaf on my zucchinis, cucumbers and sweet potatoes. All of that in one night! They must have had a helluva full-moon bash! Just the day before, those plants were thriving in big plastic gopher-proof containers. But apparently they were just a tub-o-fun for squirrels.   [Read more…]

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


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…]