Politics

Thumbnail image for Celebrations of César E. Chávez Span Six Weeks Around San Diego

Celebrations of César E. Chávez Span Six Weeks Around San Diego

by Staff 03.26.2015 Activism

“The legacy of the United Farm Workers union in its first decade provides us with key lessons for the present and future. It reminds us that grass-roots power organized and deployed by ‘disposable’ workers, fearlessness in the face of corporate exploitation, and the political uses of music, theater, and ritual can change history. In 2015, in a society based on greed and personal ambition, we ignore these lessons at own peril.” –Jorge Mariscal, Professor, UC San Diego

While Monday, March 31st is the official César E. Chávez day, activities celebrating his legacy as a labor and civil rights leader will continue into May. The day is commemorated to promote service to the community in honor of his life and work. The ongoing activities are about continuing that legacy.

Thanks to the UCSD Blink, produced by the faculty and staff of that fine institution, for providing us with a list of activities over the next six weeks honoring the life and achievements of César E. Chávez.

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Thumbnail image for Marijuana Commission Report, Polling Point to Legalization in California

Marijuana Commission Report, Polling Point to Legalization in California

by Doug Porter 03.26.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

California’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy is releasing an interim report today outlining issues needing to be addressed in any legalization measures going before voters in 2016.

The commission, led by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and including the ACLU, assorted academics, activists along with, law enforcement officials, will not officially take a position on legalization. Public forums in cities around the state will soon be announced as part of forming a policy road map towards legalization. Issues such as taxes, driving under the influence and a means for prohibiting access to minors are among those being considered.

The panel hopes to have its policy analysis completed by August.

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Thumbnail image for California Consumers Gouged for $550 Million at the Gas Pump in February

California Consumers Gouged for $550 Million at the Gas Pump in February

by Doug Porter 03.25.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

The higher prices Californians pay for gasoline was the focus of a hearing chaired by San Diego’s Sen. Ben Hueso this week.

A report issued by the Consumer Watchdog group alleges consumers were gouged for an extra $550 million at the gas pump during February as the result of a strategy by refiners to keep inventories artificially low. The group came to this conclusion by calculating the difference between US and state prices and allotting for consumption.

Members of the transportation, housing and energy, utilities and communications committees questioned energy industry executives about recent price spikes in California. Earlier this week Californians were paying 84 cents more per gallon than the rest of the nation for their gasoline.

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Thumbnail image for Old Town Mobilizing to Save Historic Trees from City Project

Old Town Mobilizing to Save Historic Trees from City Project

by Doug Porter 03.24.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

Old Town residents are scrambling to save aging California Pepper Canopy trees from removal along a corridor bordering State Historic Park and the City Golf Course.

Back in late August Mayor Kevin Faulconer and other city officials staged a press conference in Old Town to announce a major infrastructure project.

The Mayor proclaimed the Juan Street Replacement Project to be “…a perfect example of the city’s one dig philosophy….” In addition to replacing the water main, the street would be repaved and sidewalks would be  replaced

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Thumbnail image for HSBC: A Criminal Enterprise Too Big To Jail

HSBC: A Criminal Enterprise Too Big To Jail

by John Lawrence 03.24.2015 2014 June Primary

Attorney General Eric Holder will leave office with a perfect record of not having busted a single senior banker

By John Lawrence

The bank, HSBC, has been involved in criminal enterprises from dealing with terrorists and drug dealers to advising clients how to escape paying taxes. Yet no HSBC banker has gone to jail.

Dealing with drug dealers is nothing new for HSBC, also known as the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. They have always been associated with drugs. Founded in 1865, HSBC became the major commercial bank in colonial China after the conclusion of the Second Opium War. That’s the war in which European powers forced the Chinese to legalize the drug trade.

If you or I got caught with a few stems or seeds of marijuana, we would go to jail. HSBC laundered money for the Sinaloa drug cartel, but yet they had to pay only a small fine and got off the hook. The fine, $1.9 billion, is about five weeks of income for the bank. Their executives had to partially defer their bonuses as well.

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Thumbnail image for The New American Order: On the Path to Plutocracy

The New American Order: On the Path to Plutocracy

by At Large 03.24.2015 Editor's Picks

1% Elections, The Privatization of the State, a Fourth Branch of Government, and the Demobilization of “We the People”

By Tom Engelhardt / TomDispatch

Have you ever undertaken some task you felt less than qualified for, but knew that someone needed to do? Consider this piece my version of that, and let me put what I do understand about it in a nutshell: based on developments in our post-9/11 world, we could be watching the birth of a new American political system and way of governing for which, as yet, we have no name.

Whatever this may add up to, it seems to be based, at least in part, on the increasing concentration of wealth and power in a new plutocratic class and in that ever-expanding national security state. Certainly, something out of the ordinary is underway, and yet its birth pangs, while widely reported, are generally categorized as aspects of an exceedingly familiar American system somewhat in disarray.

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Thumbnail image for Bible Lawyer Seeking ‘Death for Gays’ Initiative in 2016

Bible Lawyer Seeking ‘Death for Gays’ Initiative in 2016

by Doug Porter 03.23.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter

A decade ago Huntington Beach attorney Matt McLaughlin paid $200 and gained approval from the secretary of state’s office to gather signatures for the King James Bible as Textbook initiative, which would have amended the state Constitution to allow the Bible to be used as a textbook. 

McLaughlin and his six supporters failed to gather the nearly six hundred thousand signatures necessary to put the measure on the ballot in 2004. 

He’s come up with another $200, and given the poor voter turnout in the most recent election, he’s hoping his Sodomite Suppression Act can get the 365,000 signatures it needs to make it legal to summarily execute gay people in California. 

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Thumbnail image for The Public Education Reporting Charade

The Public Education Reporting Charade

by Jim Miller 03.23.2015 Columns

What if it turned out that education reform, with its teacher-blaming assumptions, got it all wrong in the first place?

By Jim Miller

Recently, with “California’s Public Education Charade,” UT-San Diego shocked no one by publishing yet another anti-union, teacher-bashing editorial that attacks California’s “dominant Democratic Party” for believing that “what’s good for the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers is good for California. And what’s good for students, who cares?”

The sins of California’s Democrats, the State Board of Education, and their sinister union bosses include the decision to “suspend the Academic Performance Index [API] for a second year as the state moves to a more complex system of evaluating school and district performance” and failing to robustly follow the lead of the misguided Vergara decision which blamed tenure for the struggles of low-income minority students. California, the editorial board laments, has made it “even more difficult to fire bad teachers.”

Of course, these are precisely the kind of oft-repeated yet totally unfounded assertions one hears about public education and teachers from not just the mouthpiece of Manchester but from far too many in the media. Just because they keep saying it, however, doesn’t make it true.

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Thumbnail image for California Drought Legislation Must Target Agribusiness and Big Oil

California Drought Legislation Must Target Agribusiness and Big Oil

by Source 03.23.2015 Business

By Dan Bacher

Governor Jerry Brown and lawmakers touted the introduction of drought legislation in the Legislature on March 19, while leaders of environmental and corporate watchdog groups urged Brown to put real limits on the “most egregious” water users – corporate agribusiness and big oil companies – to really address the drought.

Brown joined Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, and Republican Leaders Senator Bob Huff and Assemblymember Kristin to unveil legislation that they claimed will “help local communities cope with the ongoing, devastating drought.”

A statement from the Governor’s Office said the package will expedite bond funding to “make the state more resilient to the disastrous effects of climate change and help ensure that all Californians have access to local water supplies.”

“This unprecedented drought continues with no signs yet of letting up,” said Governor Brown. “The programs funded by the actions announced today will provide direct relief to workers and communities most impacted by these historic dry conditions.”

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Thumbnail image for US Quietly Abandons Troop Reduction Plans in Afghanistan

US Quietly Abandons Troop Reduction Plans in Afghanistan

by Source 03.21.2015 Government

Administration could allow up to 9,800 troops to remain into next year’s ‘fighting season’

By Nadia Prupis / Common Dreams

The Obama administration is dropping its plans to reduce the amount of U.S. forces in Afghanistan to 5,500 by the end of the year, significantly altering the timeline which officials had said would see troops largely withdraw from the country by 2016, according to reports.

In fact, officials say, the administration could allow up to 9,800 American troops to remain in Afghanistan well into next year’s “fighting season.”

The announcement on Saturday came a few weeks after new Defense Secretary Ashton Carter indicated that the White House was “rethinking” its counter-terrorism mission in Afghanistan and would slow down its troop withdrawal from the country, despite long-held promises from Washington to remove the U.S. military presence there.

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Thumbnail image for The Uptown Battle for Safer Bike Routes

The Uptown Battle for Safer Bike Routes

by Doug Porter 03.20.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

There’s a special meeting of the Uptown Planners next Tuesday (March 24) to discuss overriding the SANDAG Regional Bike Plan in Mission Hills and Hillcrest. Cycling advocates are expected to face off against various organizations and people opposed to proposed traffic changes in the area.

This meeting is, I think, symbolic of a larger battle going on over the future of transportation in the city. While all the organizations involved give lip service to the Climate Action Plan’s goal of 18% bike mode share in Uptown by 2035, there are individuals who come across as negative about actually doing anything to achieve the goal.

Despite a growing body of evidence contradicting what some small businesspeople assume about the negative impact of bike lanes, parking spaces and traffic calming measures, when it gets down to an actual plan, all they can say is “no.” (Kinda like the GOP on their alternative to Obamacare, I think.) 

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Thumbnail image for Chula Vista Transitions To District Elections

Chula Vista Transitions To District Elections

by At Large 03.20.2015 Government

Community Members Will Help Map District Lines

By Barbara Zaragoza

Phase One of Chula Vista’s districting process began on Monday, March 16th at the Chula Vista Public Library-South Branch when representatives from the Coalitionfor Inclusive & Fair Districting (CIFD) provided a mapping and speaker training to residents.

Jess Jollet from the San Diego ACLU and member of the coalition summarized districting, saying that until now councilmembers have been elected “at large,” meaning candidates who have received the highest number of votes from all of Chula Vista have won a council seat.

In 2012, however, 62.7% of voters (44,906 residents) passed Proposition B, which mandated that Chula Vista be divided into four voting districts. Now residents will only be able to vote for a candidate within their own district. The mayor will still be elected “at large.”

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Thumbnail image for The People’s Budget: Progressive Proposal Aims to Un-Rig Failed Economic System

The People’s Budget: Progressive Proposal Aims to Un-Rig Failed Economic System

by Source 03.20.2015 Economy

The budget plan ‘fixes an economy that, for too long, has failed to provide the opportunities American families need to get ahead,’ says Congressional Progressive Caucus
By Deirdre Fulton / Common Dreams

Offering a sustainable alternative to regressive federal budget proposals put forth this week by the Republican majorities on Capitol Hill, the Congressional Progressive Caucus on Wednesday released The People’s Budget: A Raise for America, which aims to “level the playing field” for low- and middle-income Americans.

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Thumbnail image for Here Come the Obama ‘Vote or Die’ Squads

Here Come the Obama ‘Vote or Die’ Squads

by Doug Porter 03.19.2015 Columns

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.

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Thumbnail image for Fair Trade Is a Racial Justice Issue

Fair Trade Is a Racial Justice Issue

by Source 03.19.2015 Business

The struggle in towns like Ferguson to overcome racial and economic barriers is hard enough without another wrong-headed trade pact

By  / OtherWords

The work of repairing the racial fissures that broke wide open in Ferguson, Missouri last year goes beyond the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

It also goes beyond ending the practices highlighted in a Justice Department report that criticized Ferguson cops and courts for shaking down the city’s poor, black residents for revenue.

What else will it take? Good jobs.

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Thumbnail image for Justice Department SDPD Report: Garbage In, Garbage Out

Justice Department SDPD Report: Garbage In, Garbage Out

by Doug Porter 03.18.2015 Columns

By Doug Porter 

The 85 page report released yesterday on the San Diego Police Department did exactly what it was intended to do: reassure the public that everything was under control. A constant stream of bad publicity and lawsuits resulting from accusations of police misconduct and lawlessness led the city to seek outside help a year ago and the Justice Department was glad to oblige.

The Police Executive Research Forum, paid for by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), conducted a review of management practices and made 40 recommendations. City officials told a press conference that many of those suggestions were already being implemented and others could be accomplished if funding was made available. 

UT-San Diego reported that a separate FBI investigation into alleged on-duty criminal conduct by officers is ongoing. Attorneys for victims who have already settled lawsuits against the city, along with community activists and civil liberties groups expressed dissatisfaction with the report, citing its narrow focus and failure to mention racial profiling. 

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Thumbnail image for A Housing Market Divided

A Housing Market Divided

by Source 03.18.2015 Business

Deregulation won’t solve California’s seemingly intractable affordable housing crisis on its own.

By David Dayen / Capital & Main

Housing markets get discussed in the media mostly through the channel of prices. Rising prices are considered good for the economy. They can connote increased sales, which would lead to more construction and real estate-related jobs. They also give homeowners more equity in their homes, and the consequent “wealth effect” – studies show personal spending jumps when people perceive an increase in their wealth – can benefit the economy.

But there’s a darker side to rising home prices. They harm affordability, particularly for first-time homebuyers. Since the collapse of the housing bubble, this group of potential purchasers has not returned to the market at the historical level of 2006. Because first-time homebuyers allow sellers to purchase bigger homes, their absence has blunted the impact of rising prices; the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that residential housing investment remains lower than the depths of any housing crash over the past 40 years.

Housing affordability is a major problem in the Golden State. The California Association of Retailers’ most recent Housing Affordability Index (HAI) shows that only 30 percent of the state’s households can afford to purchase an average-priced home in their area.

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Thumbnail image for Humane Prosperity or More Economic Inequality for San Diego? Debating Free Trade Agreements Like TPP

Humane Prosperity or More Economic Inequality for San Diego? Debating Free Trade Agreements Like TPP

by Doug Porter 03.17.2015 Business

By Doug Porter

Sometime this spring Senator Orin Hatch will ask the congress to vote on giving the President “fast track” authority in relation to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). What this means is that the terms of the treaty establishing ground rules for trade, intellectual property and corporate behavior around the Pacific Rim will be subject to a simple yes or no vote. 

Opponents of TPP and the companion Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) make a big deal out of the fact that the nuts and bolts of these deals are negotiated in secret. As a practical matter I don’t see how a complex agreement between nation-states and corporate entities could be negotiated in public. But we should have a right to know –beyond platitudes– what our government supports in negotiations.  

The crux of this matter is that we’re being asked to trust negotiators to create a mechanism along the lines of previous trade deals. Many of the people who negotiated those earlier deals now admit they failed to provide the promised economic benefits to anybody not owning stock in a multinational corporation. 

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Thumbnail image for Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 5

Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 5

by John Lawrence 03.17.2015 Environment

By Frank Thomas and John Lawrence

Capitalism and Climate Change

In a title not usually expected at a scientific conference, University of California San Diego geophysicist Dr. Brad Werner presented a paper entitled Is the Earth Fucked? at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in December 2012. Dr. Werner explained that the title represented the expression of depression by scientists working in the field of the public’s inability to respond to what scientists are telling them about global warming.

Climatologists and other scientists are now speaking out about climate change becoming a clear and present danger to human civilization. Most of them are more comfortable gathering data and working in their labs than doing political advocacy, but the situation calls for them to risk losing tenure and even arrest in order to tell the rest of us about the situation we are now facing.

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Thumbnail image for The Rep’s Oedipus El Rey: A Greek Classic Meets Chicano Mysticism

The Rep’s Oedipus El Rey: A Greek Classic Meets Chicano Mysticism

by Doug Porter 03.17.2015 Courts, Justice

By Doug Porter

We are fortunate to live in a city where theater and the performing arts flourish. San Diego’s offerings are enriched by companies large and small; those that hew to tradition and those willing to stretch the limits of artistic expression.

The San Diego Repertory Theatre has been at it for nearly four decades, “promoting a more inclusive community through work that nourishes progressive and social values.” The current production of Oedipus El Rey speaks to those values through a modern day adaptation of Sophocles’ classic Greek drama, first performed in 429 B.C.

The ancient temples of Thebes are recast as the barrios of Southern California. Greek mysticism is supplanted by Mexican mythology. And the city-state is presented as gang turf. The familiar chorus from Greek theater is now bilingual and just as nuanced as ever.

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Thumbnail image for Pushback on Civic San Diego Accountability: Here Comes the “Uncertainty” Ploy

Pushback on Civic San Diego Accountability: Here Comes the “Uncertainty” Ploy

by Doug Porter 03.16.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter

A showdown is in the works over community input on plans by Civic San Diego to absorb neighborhoods beyond downtown for permitting and planning development projects. For the moment we’re talking about Encanto and City Heights. I doubt it will stop there.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez has introduced legislation to clarify the ability of non-profit groups like Civic San Diego to perform permitting work for local governments, as it’s uncertain what legal authority in California law the organization has to approve building projects on behalf of the City of San Diego after redevelopment’s demise. Specifically AB504 calls for the City Council to have final say on projects.

The “uncertainty” defense is being rolled out on behalf of Civic San Diego (and the developers who love it) by former Mayor and Chamber of commerce CEO Jerry Sanders, along with Kris Michell, president and CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership by way of a commentary published earlier today by Voice of San Diego. Used with great success in previous campaigns to pull the wool over the eyes of San Diegans, this sort of effort is supposed to instill fear the local economy will be damaged if (fill-in-the-blank) happens.

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Thumbnail image for The Battle Over the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Elizabeth Warren Strikes Back  Against the Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing

The Battle Over the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Elizabeth Warren Strikes Back Against the Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing

by Jim Miller 03.16.2015 Business

By Jim Miller

Just as the folks in the New Democrat Coalition (NDC) were gearing up to marginalize the progressive wing of the Democratic Party leading up to the 2016 election, Elizabeth Warren struck back with what even CNN reported as “a push to kill major trade negotiations” being championed by President Obama and previously supported by Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.

And it’s a very good thing that Warren has elevated the debate over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to the national media because proponents of this deal have done everything they can to keep the details secret. As I wrote in this column back in January, the TPP is one of the most under-reported stories in America, and it would affect most of us adversely as “it will increase the outsourcing of U.S. jobs, threaten collective bargaining, undermine environmental regulations, jeopardize food safety, limit access to affordable prescription drugs, and much more.”

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Thumbnail image for The Conundrum of Corporation and Nation

The Conundrum of Corporation and Nation

by Source 03.16.2015 Business

By Robert Reich / RobertReich.Org

The U.S. economy is picking up steam but most Americans aren’t feeling it. By contrast, most European economies are still in bad shape, but most Europeans are doing relatively well.

What’s behind this? Two big facts.

First, American corporations exert far more political influence in the United States than their counterparts exert in their own countries.

In fact, most Americans have no influence at all. That’s the conclusion of Professors Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University, who analyzed 1,799 policy issues and found that “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

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Thumbnail image for What We Lose with a Privatized Postal Service

What We Lose with a Privatized Postal Service

by Source 03.14.2015 Business

America’s founders recognized that commerce requires a common infrastructure.

By Katherine McFate / Other Words

Did you know that when you ship a package through Federal Express, the U.S. Postal Service often carries it the last mile?

Last year, the Postal Service delivered 1.4 billion packages for FedEx and UPS. In fact, it delivers the last mile for almost a third of FedEx packages. The 618,000 Postal Service workers also delivered nearly 66 billion pieces of first-class mail — that’s more than 100,000 pieces per carrier.

The Postal Service can reach all 150 million American households because it’s a public system that we’ve been investing in for over 200 years. Our Constitution tasked the federal government with creating a national postal system and told the Postmaster General to report to the president.

But in 1971, Congress made the service into an “independent agency” managed by a board of governors. And since then, it’s been under attack by politicians who never met a public program they liked.

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Thumbnail image for Have a Happy 3.14159265358979 Day (And Other News)

Have a Happy 3.14159265358979 Day (And Other News)

by Doug Porter 03.13.2015 Activism

By Doug Porter 

Yes indeedy. While some people are obsessing about Friday, the 13th, I’m busy getting ready to celebrate Pi Day. It is/was Albert Einstein’s birthday. And it’s a day that reminds me of how I struggled to get through what was then called “new” math. 

This year (2015) is a special year for Pi Day enthusiasts. In the mm : dd : yy format, the Pi Day, which is March, 14, ’15, will be written as, 3 – 14 – 15. These are the first 5 significant digits of Pi (3.1415). 

Lots of people use the day as an excuse to indulge in pies. One of the best places to celebrate would be Pie Town, New Mexico, an unincorporated area where US Route 60 crosses the continental divide. 

And, yes, there is some news to mull over… 

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