Paid Sick Leave for California Workers Starts This Week

Assemblywoman Gonzalez with Paid Sick Leave supporters at rally  Photo by Rich Kacmar

By Francine Busby / San Diego Democratic Party

We’ve all been sick. I have been flattened by illnesses that have rendered me completely useless. I have had to miss work to stay home with a sick child when they can barely get out of bed, let alone function in a classroom. I have received those dreaded phone calls informing me of a family member with a medical emergency. Sometimes life just gets in the way, and our health or the health of our families has to take priority.

When we think of man’s inhumanity to man, we don’t usually think of employees who risk losing wages or even a job if they are too sick to go work or if they need to care for a sick child. At the moment, 40 million workers (38% of the American workforce) lack any paid sick leave, according to a study by the Center for American Progress. The United States is the only developed country in the world without laws requiring access to paid sick leave.

But we’re making progress. On July 1, California will join the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts in guaranteeing paid sick leave.   [Read more…]

A Homeless Food Fight in San Diego

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By Jeeni Criscenzo del Rio

A recent post on the Facebook page for Homeless News San Diego showed a letter from the Rock Church regarding a change in policy for feeding homeless people. Part of one sentence was highlighted: refrain from feeding homeless people on the streets, as well as distributing items such as clothing and blankets. The post indicates there were 107 shares and 206 comments!

I can’t recall ever seeing an issue evoke such passionate responses from so many people with opposing, yet reasonable points of view. I read all of them, looking for something to convince me one way or the other, because this is something that has been troubling me since I attended at Downtown Fellowship of Churches and Ministries meeting about it two years ago. Not being a church-goer, I felt a little out of my element at the meeting, but I appreciated their plans for what would become Doing It Better Together  to coordinate services provided to homeless people on the streets.   [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…]

In-Home Care Recipients Cautiously Applaud New Budget

Capitol-IHSS restoration in service hours chart

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…]

Showdown! Trans Pacific Partnership Fast Track Authority Vote Set for Friday

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Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have set a Friday deadline for a vote on a bill giving the President fast-track authority on commercial treaties currently being negotiated.

The legislation would allow the executive branch to submit trade agreements to Congress for an expedited, up-or-down vote without amendments was passed by the Senate last month. President Obama has said he wants to complete a 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership and send it for approval under that procedure.

House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have reportedly agreed to replace a plan, opposed by Democrats, that would have funded some trade programs with about $700 million in Medicare cuts.   [Read more…]

Adam Smith vs. Ayn Rand

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By David Morris / Common Dreams

In a 2011 CNN/Tea Party Express Republican Debate moderator Wolf Blitzer famously asked prominent libertarian Representative Ron Paul a “hypothetical question” about the soon-to-be-operational Obamacare: What should be done when a 30-year old man decides not to buy health insurance and then requires significant medical intervention that he cannot afford? Paul predictably responded. He should “assume responsibility for himself…That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risks…”

Blitzer followed up by asking Paul if he meant, “society should just let him die?” Members of the audience yelled, “Yeah”. It was a Tea Party meeting after all. Paul waffled. He conceded intervention might be necessary but insisted the cost should be borne voluntarily by “(o)ur neighbors, our friends, our churches.”   [Read more…]

Auto Emissions: More Deadly Than Auto Accidents

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By Bill Adams / UrbDeZine

A nearby roadway may be putting your household’s health at risk. The same is true of workplaces, schools, and other places where people spend significant time. This health risk is from the elevated auto emissions near high traffic roadways. It’s a health risk separate and in addition to the regional air pollution from auto emissions.

We have come to draw a false sense of security from our collective sharing of regional air pollution and, perhaps, the belief that regulatory agencies protect us. However, research continues to show that air pollution, particularly from auto emissions, has profound effects on health. Moreover, such impacts are unequally distributed among local populations, largely based on nearness to major roadways.   [Read more…]

If You Google “Pint of Science…”

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By Mukul Khurana

Pint of Science is not the kind of event one thinks of when looking for things to do around town. But San Diego is changing. Not only has the cultural and art scene been steadily changing for the better in the past decade or two, but even the content is getting “meatier.” Cleverly, one of the first events locally was titled: “Science of San Diego: Beer, Brains, and Beaches.”

That describes San Diego pretty well and it also shows that the organizers have a sense of humor. The idea of pairing beer and science makes sense as a way of making the average San Diegan interact with science on a casual basis. Not all of us are involved in PhDs.   [Read more…]

Notorious Repeat Offender Behind Oil Spill ‘Nightmare’ in California

Photo by IBRRC

State of Emergency declared as oil-soaked pelicans die on shore

By Nadia Prupis / Common Dreams

As an investigation into an oil spill along the California coast continued on Thursday, environmentalists described a “nightmare” scenario in the area and new details emerged about the pipeline operator’s long history of generating similar disasters.   [Read more…]

Suppressing Science For Monsanto?

Photo by gruenekaernten

Groups Demand Investigation of USDA
‘It is imperative that the USDA maintains scientific integrity and does not allow for harassment, censorship or suppression of findings that counter the interests of industry,’ say farmworker, environmental, and food safety groups

By Sarah Lazare / Common Dreams

More than 25 farmworker, environmental, and food safety organizations sent an open letter this week to the U.S. Department of Agriculture demanding that the agency investigate reports that its scientists are facing retaliation and suppression of their research on controversial neonicotinoid insecticides that pose a danger to pollinator and human health.   [Read more…]

Tide Turning Against Plastic Microbeads in Toiletries

By Sarah “Steve” Mosko / Boogie Green

Microbead products and alternativesThere are signs that the era where plastic microbeads from personal care products pollute bodies of water worldwide and aquatic food chains might be drawing to a close.

Microbeads are miniscule spheres of plastic commonly added as abrasives to personal care products like face scrubs, shower gels and toothpaste. They’re designed to wash down the drain, but because of their small size, they escape sewage treatment plants. Once discharged into oceans, rivers or lakes or onto land, they’re virtually impossible to clean up.   [Read more…]

California Vaccination Law Passes Education Committee

By Doug Porter

The California Senate Education Committee has approved a modified version of SB277, a controversial measure making vaccinations a prerequisite for enrollment in both private and public schools throughout the state. 

Medical exemptions for inoculations will be permitted and amendments were added expanding homeschooling options for unvaccinated children. Gone will be the personal-belief and religious exemptions currently exercised by about 10% of parents with school aged children in California. 

The Senate Committee’s action came the day after a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association ruled out the possibility that immunizations could cause autism in a small group of children who were already primed to develop the disorder.    [Read more…]

California Chamber of Commerce Wants to Kick Widows to the Curb

By Doug Porter

It’s the time of year again when the the Golden State’s Chamber of Commerce issues it’s hit list of “job killer” bills being considered in Sacramento. This year there are 17 or so items on the preliminary list; more are expected to be added as the session goes on.

Included in the “Increased Unnecessary Litigation Costs” section is AB244, introduced by  Assemblymember Susan Eggman (D- Stockton). The measure would clarify protections in the California Housing Bill of Rights, specifying that widows and other surviving family members are covered in their dealings with mortgage servicers.

Presently these homeowners can find themselves caught in a “Catch 22” if they seek a loan modification. Servicers inform them that they can’t be considered for a modification until they assume the mortgage. But, they won’t let them assume the mortgage unless they demonstrate that they can afford it. As a result, mortgage payments are missed, fees rack up, and foreclosure can be the unnecessary outcome.   [Read more…]

Californians Won’t Take the Drought Seriously Until Government Takes the Drought Seriously With These 5 Measures

Californians want immediate action from their government

The citizens of California will not take the drought seriously until they see that their government is taking the drought seriously. Until government at all levels – from the state to the smallest township – shows Californians that it is enacting measures to immediately deal with the drought – now in its 4th year – people in this state won’t face up to the drought themselves.

And until government enacts these 5 measures – at a minimum – , government is not taking the drought seriously:

1. Ban All Fracking

California must ban all fracking immediately – the process by which oil companies use to extract oil.   [Read more…]

Nuclear Shutdown News – March, 2015 Edition

By Michael Steinberg / Black Rain Press

Nuclear Shutdown News chronicles the continuing decline of the US nuclear industry, and highlights efforts of those who are democratically working to bring about a renewable energy future. As nuclear plants in the US are approaching or surpassing their 40 year operating life, their ability to operate properly and safely lessens, creating more and more problems across the nation.

Here’s our March report:

Diablo Canyon – Last Nuke Plant in California

On February 20 a Federal Court of Appeals in Washington DC rejected an attempt by Pacific Gas & Electric and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to quash a lawsuit filed by environmental group Friends Of the Earth (FOE).  According to FOE, the suit alleges that the “NRC illegally allowed PG&E to alter Diablo Canyon’s nuclear plant license.” And …   [Read more…]

Voting Made Easier: Legislative Actions Aim to Make Elections More Accessible

By Doug Porter 

San Diego legislators at both the federal and state level are working to remove barriers limiting voter participation. 

California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla are proposing to register every eligible resident who goes to a DMV to get a license or renew one, with the ability to opt out. In Washington DC, Congresswoman Susan Davis has introduced legislation ending constraints on voting by mail. 

Research recently published in the Oxford Political Analysis Journal indicates that as many as an additional four million Americans wanted to vote in the 2012 election , but were stymied by restrictions on voter registration. California currently ranks 38th out of the 50 states in voter registration.    [Read more…]

Passionate Pleas for Safer San Diego Streets Fall on Deaf Ears at Uptown Planners Meeting

BikeSD / BikeSD Blog

On Tuesday March 24 between 200-250 people packed the St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral for a special Uptown Planners meeting. It’s quite possible that that was the most number of people that church has held in recent years.

While many of you and us were out last night testifying and desperately pleading for safer access through along University Avenue, to a board that ignored all public testimony for safer streets except for the comments on using public spaces for private vehicle storage – parking – a 74 year old woman crossing Camino Ruiz in a marked crosswalk suffered life threatening injuries after being hit by an SUV. No word yet on whether the driver has been charged.

Earlier this month, our endorsed candidates Michael Brennan and Kyle Heiskala were successfully elected to the Uptown Planners at the Community Planning Group election. But last night’s meeting was a special meeting and Brennan and Heiskala haven’t yet been seated – so they were unable to vote on the issue.   [Read more…]

San Diego Finally Allows 1st “Legal” Pot Shop 19 Years After California Voters Passed Measure

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

The City of San Diego has finally allowed the opening of the City’s very first medical marijuana dispensary.

This opening of the first “legal” pot shop in San Diego comes 19 years after California voters passed Prop 215, making medical marijuana legal.

And the County of San Diego has only allowed one dispensary to open to date – a storefront opened last summer in an unincorporated area outside El Cajon.

The shameful history of nearly 2 decades for both the City and County of San Diego that viewed together initiated delays, stalls, and outright resistance to the spirit of Prop 215, stands in deep contrast to the wishes of the state’s voters.

On this issue at least, the implementation of the medical marijuana law, our local governments have been very undemocratic as they have quite openly stymied what the voters, the people, wanted.   [Read more…]

Here Come the Obama ‘Vote or Die’ Squads

By Doug Porter

Following a speech before the City Club of Cleveland yesterday, President Obama responded to a question about the influence of money in elections by talking about universal voting as a solution.

Cue the conservative outrage: “Obama calls for mandatory voting in U.S.,” screamed one headline. At UT-San Diego the headline was toned down to “OBAMA FLOATS IDEA OF MANDATORY VOTING IN U.S.”

This story is a really sad commentary on the state of American “journalism.” The President spends and hour and a half speaking about economic policy in front of a business group. This one quip is going to end up being passed around on the internet as something along the lines of ‘The Black Panthers Are Going to Force People to Vote.” There’s probably an email smoldering in my backup account as I’m writing this.   [Read more…]

San Diego Sues Monsanto for Polluting Bay With Banned Carcinogenic Chemicals

Lawsuit says toxins manufactured by agrochemical giant ‘have been found in Bay sediments and water and have been identified in tissues of fish, lobsters, and other marine life’

By Sarah Lazarre / Common Dreams

San Diego authorities filed a lawsuit on Monday (March 16) against the agrochemical giant Monsanto, accusing the corporation of polluting the city’s bay with carcinogenic chemicals that are so dangerous to human health they were banned in the U.S. more than 30 years ago.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court by City of San Diego and San Diego Unified Port District and focuses on Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs). “PCBs manufactured by Monsanto have been found in bay sediments and water and have been identified in tissues of fish, lobsters, and other marine life in the Bay,” the complaint reads.   [Read more…]

The Lobbyists at Your Dinner Party

Every purveyor of food and drink wants the government to advise Americans to consume more of what they produce

By Jill Richardson /Other Words

Remember the old food pyramid?

Until “MyPlate” replaced it a few years ago, the U.S. government’s official dietary advice for Americans fit neatly into that triangle.

The government recently moved toward updating those standards again. And the result isn’t nearly as digestible. In classic bureaucratic form, the Department of Health and Human Services cooked up a 571-page draft report for Americans to comment on.

The actual updated dietary guidelines will come later. Here’s what we know about the draftso far: The meat and soda industries hate it.   [Read more…]

Unist’ot’en Camp: The Best Medicine

By Will Falk

I’ve decided to go off my medication. This decision is one I’ve been struggling with for months. It’s not a decision I make easily, but I think it’s the best decision for me. Ever since I was diagnosed with severe depression and prescribed anti-depressants in November, 2012, I have had a dubious relationship with my medication.

It is true that I have been on anti-depressants and have not tried to kill myself since August, 2013. It is also true that I was taking my anti-depressants each time I tried to kill myself. I know that my decision to stop taking my pills will cause friends and family anxiety. But, I truly feel this is the best decision for me.   [Read more…]

The Old Hippie Gets a Medical Marijuana Card

The Ol’ OB Hippie Writes / The OB Rag

I’m finally going legal after 50 years – or at least almost 50 years. I started smoking pot when I was a freshman in college. And I still smoke – but the other day, I went legal and obtained my medical marijuana card, and now I can smoke legally for the first time in a half century. And god I need it – for all my genuine ailments, from chronic back pain to insomnia to other problems whose symptoms are relieved by the inhalation of the medicinal gift from nature.

Actually my very first joint was during my first year’s Christmas break – I was going to college on the East Coast and had flown home for the 2 week break. Pot smoking literally exploded here in OB and Point Loma in 1966-67. It blew up in OB. And of course, PLHS was called “Pot Loma” after that large bust behind the church – I think – in 1968. Plus we all thought it would be legal by 1976. Seriously.   [Read more…]

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

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.”   [Read more…]