Thumbnail image for Sony Pictures Cyber Attack: Pearl Harbor or Forrest Gump?

Sony Pictures Cyber Attack: Pearl Harbor or Forrest Gump?

by Doug Porter 12.18.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

Yesterday Sony Pictures did what many businesses would in similar circumstances – it assessed risks relative to reward and chose to pull the plug on a soon-to-be-released movie comedy, ‘The Interview.’

The $44 million film staring Seth Rogen and James Franco about an assassination attempt on North Korea’s leader was supposed to debut on Dec. 25, Christmas Day.

Now it’s dead in the water, with company reps saying, “Sony has no further release plans for the film.”

This decision was the end result of a hacking of Sony’s computer system by the “Guardians of Peace,” a group the US government says has links to North Korea. Unreleased films, company emails, employee information, threats to employees and their families and promises of violence against theaters and the public have all surfaced on the internet in recent days.

Today I’ll take a look at the implications of both the attack and Sony’s decision to capitulate.

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Thumbnail image for Torture Tuesday: A Study in Manufacturing Consent

Torture Tuesday: A Study in Manufacturing Consent

by Doug Porter 12.09.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

If you are unfortunate enough to be aware of the news today, you’ll be a witness to our country’s greatest exercise in what Walter Lippmann and subsequently Noam Chomsky called ‘manufactured consent.”

I’m referring to the release of the heavily redacted summary of the the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the use of torture. By the end of the day, via the conclusions of the chattering class, the American public will know three things:

  • US policy following the 2001 Al Qaeda attacks included broadly worded permissions to engage in torture.
  • There is controversy over whether torture was effective.
  • Oversight of the intelligence apparatus in the government is a danger to our national security.
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Thumbnail image for A Day of Protests in San Diego and Around the Nation

A Day of Protests in San Diego and Around the Nation

by Doug Porter 12.05.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The big news in downtown San Diego yesterday, if you are a reader of the local daily newspaper, was the bomb squad being called in to investigate a discarded sex toy left on the ground near the federal courthouse.

In keeping with UT-San Diego’s historic lack of coverage, there was no mention of early morning protests temporarily causing a McDonald’s franchise in City Heights to lock their doors. Or the members of the City Council who came out at 6am to stand with the demonstrators. Or the 150 or so protesters who marched all over downtown for a three hour period mid-day, targeting not only fast food stores but federal immigration enforcement, and echoing nationwide dismay over recent killings at the hands of law enforcement officers.

Local TV stations sent cameramen to get a bit of footage of the downtown demonstrations. KUSI, KFMB, Fox5, and 10news all used a local wire service for their actual reporting on the demonstration.

Now I know these demonstrations weren’t “page one or lead story” news by contemporary journalism standards. Something is happening here in San Diego and around the country. There is a larger story about inequality and injustice. And it’s not going away.

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Thumbnail image for I’m in San Diego and I Can’t Breathe

I’m in San Diego and I Can’t Breathe

by Doug Porter 12.04.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The national chattering class finally found a dead black man they can get behind yesterday as a grand jury in Staten Island refused to indict the policeman who was videotaped choking Eric Garner.

Since videos exist showing both the arrest and the subsequent four minute delay before officers attempted CPR, it’s not possible to easily weasel out of the conclusion this was -at a minimum- a case of criminally negligent homicide, as concluded by Fox legal expert  Judge Andrew Napolitano.

The “best” lame excuses coming out of the flat-earther set were that Garner died because he was obese or that the “nanny state” laws taxing tobacco were to blame. Nobody’s called him a “thug”–yet.

Largely peaceful demonstrations (there were arrests for acts of civil disobedience) happened around the country, and are expected to continue into the weekend. Today I’ll share some of the reactions appearing in the news and social media.

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Thumbnail image for SeaWorld Stock Tanks As Financials Disappoint and Protests Continue

SeaWorld Stock Tanks As Financials Disappoint and Protests Continue

by Doug Porter 11.12.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Attendance and revenues continue to fall at SeaWorld, according to financial reports released today. The stock market reacted to the news, sending shares in the company down 10.3% by mid-day. 

Third-quarter net income fell 28%, revenues fell 8% and  attendance at SeaWorld’s parks also declined year-over-year, with attendance in the third quarter totaling 8.4 million visitors, down from 8.9 million a year ago.  According the Bloomberg’s Business Insider, the price for stock in SeaWorld has fallen 51% since the movie Blackfish premiered on July 19, 2013. 

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Thumbnail image for Parsing the Pitchmen for Plots in a Political Graveyard

Parsing the Pitchmen for Plots in a Political Graveyard

by Bob Dorn 11.06.2014 Media

By Bob Dorn

Get ready for the message: Democrats need to move toward the center. That’s it, that’s all you need to know from the political professionals whom we pay to tell us who we are and what we think.

Picture them. You have Brian Williams, the hippest of that knot of strange guys in a hotel bar who anchor the nightly news of the three traditional used-to-be’s: ABC, CBS and NBC. The truth is, these guys don’t really carry the anesthesia and toxins for our political elite; they just introduce the heavyweights who do. But they’re the most important of the traditional media.

Scott Pelley, and what’s-it over at ABC and Brian Williams are the ones in the bar who seem to know who’s got the goods. They mostly look like second-stringers, or backup singers; their too-tight suits and subtle blebs help us see they’re just like us, just folks who’ve been placed momentarily in the spotlights and the corner offices. But they’re the ones who point their fingers and start up the choruses of specialists who call out the numbers and quote the right people and bring on the soloists and the experts.

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Thumbnail image for The Answer to the Local Newspaper Dilemma

The Answer to the Local Newspaper Dilemma

by Judi Curry 11.05.2014 Media

By Judi Curry

Anyone who has been reading my articles for the past six months should know that I spend a week a month in North Dakota – Fargo, because that is where the airport is, and Blanchard, because that is where my friend the Cowboy resides.

On a recent Saturday before the election it was necessary to go to a farm equipment store for some replacement parts for Cowboy’s tractor.  While he was dealing with the owner, I was browsing the counters and came across the “Hillsboro Banner” newspaper of Friday, October 24, 2014.  And found the perfect solution to the newspaper problem we have here in San Diego.

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Thumbnail image for Don’t Read This Column If You Haven’t Voted

Don’t Read This Column If You Haven’t Voted

by Doug Porter 11.04.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Today’s supposed to be the day I hit you with the “Get Out and Vote or I’ll Shoot This Puppy” column. It ain’t happening. I’ve already voted.

I’ve written 22 stories and columns about the November 2014 general election, and I’ll probably write a few wrap ups after the dust settles.  If you’re going to vote later, fine, read this column later. If you’re not going to vote at all, look for me to come to your house in search of a puppy.

So today, for those of you who have already voted, I’m going to cover other news, and some good news at that.  I’m perfectly aware that I will be punished by the search engine gods for not going apocalyptic about the election.

(Seriously, if you need election info…)

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Thumbnail image for Lincoln Club Plays the Sexism Card in District 6 City Council Race

Lincoln Club Plays the Sexism Card in District 6 City Council Race

by Doug Porter 10.30.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

San Diego’s Lincoln Club does a great job of proving just how racism and sexism are tools used by the wealthy to attack candidates and divide voters in elections.

The right leaning group used photographs doctored to imply mayoral candidate David Alavarez was a Mexican gang member earlier this year.

Now they’re going after District 6 City Council candidate Carol Kim, crudely photo-shopping her face into the image of woman with multiple shopping bags on her arms in New York City. Voters are encouraged to be afraid of her (non-existent) “New York City” tax plan.

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Thumbnail image for Ebola, Not Guns, is Our Biggest Threat

Ebola, Not Guns, is Our Biggest Threat

by Eric J. Garcia 10.30.2014 Cartoons
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Thumbnail image for The Continuing Decline of UT-San Diego

The Continuing Decline of UT-San Diego

by Doug Porter 10.29.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

 Another six month reporting period has passed and the UT-San Diego continues to lose readers, according to an analysis of data from the Alliance for Audited Media by the Reader’s Don Bauder.

How bad was it? On Sundays, the circulation declined by more than 13%,  Weekdays declined by 8.5%.  The numbers released yesterday include “digital” and “branded” editions. Branded editions for the UT include Enlace, the Spanish language weekly distributed free on weekends, Vida Latina, a Spanish-language entertainment magazine, TV and shopping guide and Enlace Extra, distributed in Tijuana and Mexicali.

As newspaper circulations have plummeted in recent years, the auditing-type people have changed the rules to sweeten the pot for publishers. Paid circulation now includes copies “sold” to non-profits for as little as 1 cent; these groups resell the papers at full price to users of their services (churches are a good example) and pocket the difference.

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Thumbnail image for It’s the OB Rag’s 7th Birthday!

It’s the OB Rag’s 7th Birthday!

by Frank Gormlie 10.29.2014 Culture

By Frank Gormlie

This is the 7th birthday for the online OB Rag. During the October fires of 2007, Patty Jones and I launched the OB Rag out of our small cottage on Long Branch Avenue. Many of our early articles critiqued both the mainstream media’s coverage of the fires plus how the fires were being fought.

Seven years later, much has changed, of course. We’ve gone from a little-known blog to one of the best community-based websites in Southern California, which is constantly referred to by the local mainstream media, police, and local politicians, and occasionally we make the national news. Other notes of interest: quotes from the OB Rag made it up on the ceiling of OB’s newest public “comfort station” on the beach – whose design won an Orchid Award in 2012.

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Thumbnail image for Goodbye San Francisco Bay Guardian; Hello Wankergate

Goodbye San Francisco Bay Guardian; Hello Wankergate

by Jim Miller 10.27.2014 Columns

By Jim Miller

Recently, California lost one of its last remaining, genuinely progressive weeklies, the San Francisco Bay Guardian. As [] tells the story:

The San Francisco Bay Guardian, the prize-winning newspaper and progressive voice, was shut down immediately by the San Francisco Media Company, after 48 years of “printing the news and raising hell.” No warning for staff, just pack your boxes and get out. Boom. This historic independent newspaper, so long a pivotal force in San Francisco progressive politics and culture was suddenly treated as a corporate portfolio item, and lopped off the balance sheet . . .

Guardian editor Steven T. Jones recounted to the Chronicle, “We were told at 10 a.m. (Tuesday) that this issue would be our last. They shut down everything — our sites, our social media, our passkeys, right away. We’ve all been laid off, effective immediately…I need an escort to go to the bathroom and get back to the office to pack up my stuff.”

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Thumbnail image for Your Daily DeMaio: Insults, Excuses and Deception

Your Daily DeMaio: Insults, Excuses and Deception

by Doug Porter 10.24.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

The more we learn about the inner workings of the Carl DeMaio campaign, the more bizarre it gets. If you believe defenders of the Republican Candidate for the 52nd Congressional District, former campaign staffer Todd Bosnich has perhaps gone back in time to fabricate emails (much of which are mundane) and/or hacked Carl DeMaio’s Sony VIAO laptop.

Yesterday we learned about a fake twitter account allegedly used by DeMaio to transmit trashy blurbs about various local politicos. Then there’s the hilarious (in a sad way) and ongoing attempt by a UT-San Diego editor to justify their coverage (or lack thereof) of the steadily leaking emails purportedly from the DeMaio campaign.

City Beat columnist Dave Maass spotted an item in a emailed worklist regarding an assignment to “finish Wikipedia”, apparently directing a staffer to make favorable edits on entries related to the campaign. This sort of thing would be a big no-no, and it’s something DeMaio and/or his staff were busted (by Maass) for in 2011.

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Malin Burnham and the U-T San Diego Idea Factory

by Frank Gormlie 10.24.2014 Business

union-tribunefrontbldgPart Two of two parts

By Frank Gormlie

As we delve more now in Part Two into Malin Burnham, “the last Corte Maderan” as Mike Davis calls him, and his possible take-over of San Diego’s only daily newspaper, longtime City Heights community activist, Anna Daniels, one of the editors at San Diego Free Press, cautioned:

When the news broke that Malin Burnham was interested in purchasing the U-T San Diego with the intent of turning it into a non-profit, the main and often only description of him was as a San Diego “philanthropist”. And it is true–Burnham is known for his extensive philanthropy.

He is also known for his role as a local real estate developer, as chairman of First National Bank at San Diego and as a former Director of San Diego Gas and Electric. It might prove useful in the future to keep these other interests in mind.

Malin Burnham fullWhich pretty much sums up Part One for me. As City Hall veteran, Norma Damashek, reminded us:

As you know, Burnham has been a VIP mover and shaker in San Diego for decades. He’s not stingy with his money. Some is philanthropy, some is strictly political.

It’s also useful to know that Burnham represents a wing of the local Establishment that has challenged the other, more conservative wing on numerous occasions – with the back and forth between the different factions going for decades.

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What Does Malin Burnham’s Possible Take-Over of the U-T San Diego Mean?

by Frank Gormlie 10.23.2014 Business

Malin Burnham fullhueAs ‘Old-Money’ Point Loman Burnham emerges to operate San Diego’s daily, questions are raised whether this is the “Moderate Wing” of the Establishment reasserting itself?

Part One of two parts.

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

The news has been out for nearly a month now that well known wheeler-dealer and financier Malin Burnham of Point Loma has initiated efforts to purchase the U-T San Diego from Doug Manchester, the current owner and publisher.

Burnham, who calls himself a moderate Republican and who has lived in Point Loma all his life, told the press that he is the spokesman for a 5-man group of economic power-brokers who want to form a non-profit that will take over the newspaper and run it as a profit-making enterprise. Any profits, Burnham has pledged, would go back into community charities. Now as crazy as that plan might seem in this day and age of folding newspapers and expanding internet news sites, there are at least two other major dailies in the country that are run by non-profits. …

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Thumbnail image for Imagine if Politicians Were Forced to Tell the Truth in Their Ad Campaigns

Imagine if Politicians Were Forced to Tell the Truth in Their Ad Campaigns

by Source 10.18.2014 Activism

Lies distort every critical issue the U.S. faces.

By Harriett Levin Balkind /

A record $3.7+ billion is pouring into the 2014 midterms. The monetary floodgates are wide open, thanks to recent Supreme Court election decisions. Most of that money is spent on advertising, much of which misleads, distorts and downright lies. The donors for more than half of TV ads are not fully disclosed. Someone is profiting, but it sure isn’t you. And it’s definitely not the country.

It is legal to lie in national political advertising. Federal candidates can say just about anything they want, protected by the Court’s interpretation of free speech. The stand-by-your-ad statement: “I approve this message,” doesn’t mean it’s true, but it does get candidates the cheapest TV and radio ad rates, in compliance with the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. If a federal candidate’s ad is deceptive, broadcasters have to run it, as required by the Federal Communications Commission.

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Thumbnail image for Down-Ballot Races in San Diego You Need to Know About

Down-Ballot Races in San Diego You Need to Know About

by Doug Porter 10.14.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

While there is no rule saying a ballot must be filled out completely to be valid, there are four contests you should know and care about as we approach the 2014 general election.

Exhibit A is why we should care about down-ballot races is Judge Gary Kreep, who’s now lurking around Department 7 in the central courthouse, handling a full calendar of landlord-tenant disputes.

People voted for Kreep because the only thing they’d heard (if they’d heard anything at all) were rumors, spread via a suspicious robocall campaign saying his opponent was soft on crime.

So Kreep ascended to the court after defeating 30 year veteran prosecutor Garland Peed a couple years back. His margin of victory was two-fifths of 1 percent.

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Thumbnail image for Et Tu, Carl? The Politics of Personal Destruction in San Diego

Et Tu, Carl? The Politics of Personal Destruction in San Diego

by Doug Porter 10.13.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

Last week sexual harassment accusations against congressional candidate Carl DeMaio went national by way of stories in and CNN. Today we’ll follow up on developments in this story over the weekend.

A Saturday morning fundraiser featuring house speaker John Boehner in Pacific Beach for the 52nd district GOP candidate was notable for the absence of local politicos and a handful of protesters waving “Dirty DeMaio” signs.

The irony of the counter demonstration, reminiscent of reaction in some quarters to our former mayor’s boorish behavior, was the presence of Jess Durfee.  Back in the days when Durfee headed up county Democrats it was he chose to disregard warnings about Filner from a delegation of party women.

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Thumbnail image for The War on Women: More Than Just a Political Slogan

The War on Women: More Than Just a Political Slogan

by Doug Porter 09.23.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

While the words and actions of various (mostly Republican) politicians give plenty of credence to the underlying misogyny on the right, a couple of items in this week’s news feeds illustrate the big picture when it comes to the baked in sexism of our society and culture.

Actress and UN Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson addressed the General assembly on September 21st on the subject of gender discrimination and how it harms both society and individuals. Now she’s facing threats, simply for daring to speak up.

HBO’s John Oliver took on the Miss America beauty pageant on the same day, blowing away their claims of philanthropic benevolence towards women; specially their claims about colleges scholarships. It was an excellent example of how corporate spinmeisters can take even the most base and degrading institution and present it as something wholesome and appealing.

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Thumbnail image for UT-San Diego: To Be? Or Not to Be?

UT-San Diego: To Be? Or Not to Be?

by Doug Porter 09.22.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The Reader broke the news this weekend, confirming speculation that “Papa Doug” Manchester is looking to unload San Diego’s daily newspaper.

Columnist Don Bauder, citing rumors among local business executives and insiders at the newspaper, ran with a story on Thursday saying that downtown real estate developer and philanthropist Malin Burnham was raising money for takeover. The paper would become a nonprofit, according to this account, and acquiring the company’s real estate was not part of the negotiations.

On Saturday Matt Potter reached Burham by phone, who confirmed a deal was in the works, telling the Reader reporter, “announcement of a fundraising campaign to provide operating cash for the new operation awaits IRS approval of the venture.”

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Thumbnail image for Inside an Outsider’s Campaign for Elected Office – Motivations and Considerations

Inside an Outsider’s Campaign for Elected Office – Motivations and Considerations

by Lori Saldaña 09.15.2014 Activism

By Lori Saldaña /Part One of Four

As I listen to news reports on Hilary Clinton’s activities in Iowa, and the “Ready for Hillary” campaign theme that has spread for the past year, I think of my own motivations and considerations when I first discussed the possibility of becoming a candidate for State Assembly 12 years ago.

Ms. Clinton has discussed the impending birth of her  grandchild as something that gives her pause.   She is a veteran of decades of campaigns and elections, and understands what I did not in 2002: time with family often disappears, subsumed by the demands of a competitive election.

Her reflections on becoming a grandmother for the first time remind me of my own grandmother- Dorothy Brecht. In her 97 years of life she saw women earn the right to vote, men take to skies in planes for the first time, and then land on the moon. She wanted very much to see her granddaughter become the first in our family to hold elected office.

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Thumbnail image for The Fight to Save the Minimum Wage Hike Intensifies in San Diego

The Fight to Save the Minimum Wage Hike Intensifies in San Diego

by Doug Porter 09.11.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The struggle for a better life for nearly two hundred thousand San Diegans continues, as the forces of reaction desperately fight back following passage of an ordinance increasing the local minimum wage by the City Council.

The San Diego Chamber of Commerce, with assistance from corporate hotel and restaurant corporations, has funded a campaign to force the issue to a referendum, which would have the effect of delaying any increase until July, 2016. While their sales pitch started out with the premise that citizens needed to vote on such a measure, it has gotten increasingly desperate in recent days.

The paid canvassers used by GOP consultant Jason Roe and the big business funded “Small Business Coalition” have quit in droves, mostly because they are unable to collect enough signatures to make a living. The bounty for names on their petitions has risen from roughly $2 per signature to $7 each at retail locations and $10 each if done door-to-door.

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Thumbnail image for There’s Always a Bad Smell Downwind of Carl DeMaio

There’s Always a Bad Smell Downwind of Carl DeMaio

by Doug Porter 09.10.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Voters in the 52nd Congressional District come November will get to make their choice between the former City Councilman and incumbent Democrat Scott Peters. Today I’ll argue that this choice is more than ideological; it’s a question of character. 

What differentiates DeMaio in my mind from others who I disagree with (including Congressman Peters from time to time) is the way he does business. A couple of recent examples serve to illustrate my point. (And I’ll remind you of some past incidents that bolster my contention.) 

Having lost out on an endorsement from the US Chamber of Commerce last week, candidate DeMaio sought to change the subject by rolling out what he insisted was a series of women-friendly proposals. 

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Thumbnail image for I’m No Longer Ready for Some Football

I’m No Longer Ready for Some Football

by Doug Porter 09.09.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

There was a time, back when I ran a sports bar in Washington DC, when celebrating our national gladiator sport was a near obsession for me. Televised games (no matter who was playing), betting pools, fantasy teams and the ultimate thrill of a couple of actual seats in an stadium were a big deal. 

Not any more. The onset of the NFL marketing mix this year leaves me feeling empty. And sad. And mad.

It’s no longer about the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. (It never was, but that’s another story.) Now its about brain damage. Now it’s about closing the ranks to hide egregious behavior. Now it’s about money, power and a platform for flaunting greed.

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