Activists Demand a Stand from Congressman Scott Peters as Trade Vote Nears

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The political struggle over allowing the president fast track authority in negotiating a Pacific Rim trade deal is coming to a head.

A coalition of labor, environment, faith and community groups converged on the offices of Congressman Scott Peters yesterday, vowing not to leave until he committed to a position on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The occupation/sit-in ended Thursday evening after the group received word via the labor council’s Richard Barrera that the Congressman had agreed to face-to-face meeting to further discuss his position on the issue. (Don’t hold your breath.)   [Read more…]

Protecting Mauna Kea: Talking Story

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Looking up at the still, lingering morning stars from the best stargazing location in the world early on the third day since my arrival at the occupation on Mauna Kea, my personal velocities catch up with me and I listen. I stand at 9,200 feet above sea level. North and above me, Mauna Kea’s shoulders broaden as they rise into the heavens. Down and to the east, a thick cover of clouds hides the valley below and deadens the rattle of rifle fire coming from the US military training center on the Mountain. Wind scatters the volcanic dust at my feet.

I have never been to a place like this, never looked down on the clouds from any where other than a plane seat, never marveled at the feel of lava pebbles in my palm and I wonder what it all means. Dawn’s thin air only offers my own reflections back to me.   [Read more…]

A Disastrous Oil Pipeline Break in Santa Barbara

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While clean up crews in protective suits are removing oil from a nine mile stretch of coastline in Santa Barbara County, investigators are assessing the impact and causes of a ruptured pipeline owned by Plains Pipeline. The company failed to shut down the flow of oil for more than three hours after local beach-goers reported the leak, according to a spokesperson with the National Resources Defense Council.

Current estimates say 105,000 gallons may have leaked out, with 21,000 gallons reaching the sea. Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in Santa Barbara County. Federal, state and local officials are looking at both civil liabilities and criminal infractions.   [Read more…]

California is Finally Getting Serious about Police Reform

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By Chauncee Smith / ACLU of California Center for Advocacy & Policy

On a daily basis, Americans now see people of color unjustifiably killed by law enforcement. Particularly disheartening is that many of these homicides border on the edge of horrific.

Whether it be Maryland, South Carolina, New York, or our home state, these “lapses” of justice have become all too familiar. Indeed, it seems as if our system of public safety produces fixed results which dictate that black and brown males must die, regardless of what they do.   [Read more…]

The War on Love

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By Peter Montgomery / OtherWords 

A lot of conservative religious leaders say people of faith are being “silenced” or “persecuted” here in the United States.

They’ve sung that refrain for decades. It’s especially common in their losing battle against the growing public support for the legal equality of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

As more Americans have seen their LGBT family, friends, and neighbors come out of the closet, the claim that gay people are out to destroy faith and freedom has lost its punch. So some anti-gay leaders are reaching for more extreme rhetoric.   [Read more…]

ACLU Challenges Escondido Racism

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The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against the city of Escondido, claiming racial discrimination and anti-immigrant sentiment were responsible for its refusal to allow a temporary residential facility for undocumented children operate in various parts of the city.

Southwest Key Programs, the nonprofit that sought permits for the facilities is asking the court to overturn the city’s rejection, and to award for unspecified damages. The case has the potential to highlight the racism permeating government and the white community in the North County city.

After all, it’s not like hating on brown people is anything new to Escondido, no matter what kind of rhetorical gymnastics are used for justification.   [Read more…]

Libertarians Go After So-Called ‘Vagina Voters’

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Freedom is great, as long as it doesn’t apply to women

By Lynn Stuart Parramore / Alternet

From polls, libertarians are known to be a fairly homogenous group that skews white, male, young, affluent (i.e. college-educated), and has a reputation for not being particularly gender-inclusive. Far more identify with the Republican party (43 percent) than the Democratic party (5 percent). Is it surprising that they get anxious on the subject of people with vaginas who vote for liberal/progressive candidates?   [Read more…]

Monument Valley: The Jefferson Memorial

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By Nat Krieger

No one else was in the place—just me and Tom Jefferson.

The only sounds came from a brutal wind lashing the bare branches of the cherry trees just outside. Austere even in warmer times, the marble walls of Jefferson’s memorial wrapped themselves in the cold, believing as marble often does that frigidity equals immortality. The early morning sun, all light and no heat, poured through the memorial’s open sides transforming the white Ionic columns into black cylinders that fell across the floor and left most of the third president in darkness.

The wind flips my notebook open but Jefferson’s bronze pony tail remains unmoved. He isn’t saying much either, strange in view of what we know of the man.   [Read more…]

Reactions to the Chargers Stadium Deal

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Little green men from Mars could have seized city hall yesterday and I doubt anybody would have noticed.

The Mayor’s stadium advisory group presented its vision for building a facility worthy of consideration by the National Football League and its San Diego Chargers franchise. And that was the talk of the town.

However, there was other news… …and I’ll get to that first.   [Read more…]

Immigration is a Personal Issue for Mary Salas

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By Mary Salas

In Chula Vista, immigration is a very local issue, but for me, it is also a personal one.

My grandparents immigrated to Chula Vista from Mexico nearly 100 years ago, fleeing the political turmoil in Mexico and seeking a better life for their family. In my office I proudly hang pictures of my father and his six brothers who served in World War II and the Korean conflict to remind me of the great contributions that my family, like so many other immigrant families, have made for our great nation.   [Read more…]

Chargers Stadium Deal May Be Dead on Arrival

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The press conference staged by Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s Citizens’ Stadium Advisory Group (CSAG) hadn’t even happened yet when one well-connected reporter took to the twitter, saying the National Football League wasn’t going to be receptive to their ideas.

Early Monday morning news accounts were all about how the group had arrived at a plan for a new football stadium in San Diego with no tax increase required.

Interestingly enough, the announcement did not include any elected officials. Former Mayor Jerry Sanders was the highest profile person listed on the press release.   [Read more…]

The Fight for Progressive Tax Reform Continues: It’s Time to Make It Fair

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When Proposition 13 was first approved by voters in 1978 it was sold as a protection for single-family homeowners. But what voters were not told is that Prop. 13 contained giant loopholes that allow big corporations and wealthy commercial property owners to avoid paying their fair share of local property taxes.

This gives tax avoiders an unfair advantage over smaller, competing businesses that are paying their part and deprives our communities of much-needed revenue. As a result, California has made deep cuts to public safety, fallen behind in student funding, and been forced to close parks and libraries.

Now the battle to reform Proposition 13 is on in earnest.   [Read more…]

California’s Lopsided Proposed Computer Crime Task Force

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By Dave Maass / Electronic Frontier Foundation

Whenever lawmakers congregate to discuss computer crime, you can reliably predict that the debate will gravitate toward expanding police powers, leaving the realistic concerns of everyday Internet users by the wayside. After all, fearmongering around the film War Games helped fuel the passage of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, one of the most egregious laws the digital world has ever faced.

This legislative session, California lawmakers have proposed creating the California High Technology Crimes Task Force, which would be assigned to reevaluate the laws governing prosecution of identity theft, credit card fraud, and unspecificed “Internet crimes” that would presumably include copyright infringement. The body would issue recommendations for future legislation, as well as identify funding opportunities for law enforcement and victim assistance.

Reforming computer crime statutes isn’t necessarily a bad idea, as long as the group were to take a balanced approach. Unfortunately, the make-up of the proposed task force is anything but balanced.   [Read more…]

Letter to Loretto

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The only person convicted for CIA torture–the man who exposed it–discusses his incarceration and release. Going to jail was just the start….

In February, after serving two years in a federal prison in Loretto, Pennsylvania, Kiriakou was permitted to serve the remainder of his sentence under house arrest at his home in Northern Virginia. Under the terms of his release from prison, he was required to check in daily at a local halfway house in Washington, DC until May 1 of this year. He’s now on federal probation.

Kiriakou documented his experiences in prison in a series of hand-written “Letters from Loretto” published at FireDogLake. In this, his final entry in the series, he recounts the depredations of house arrest and announces his associate fellowship at the Institute for Policy Studies.   [Read more…]

The Race to Replace Marti Emerald

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One month ago City Councilwoman Marti Emerald made the surprising announcement via Facebook that she would not be running for re-election.

Emerald, who was considered a shoo-in for another term in District 9, endorsed her chief of staff Ricardo Flores as the ‘perfect candidate’ for 2016 at a press conference. A half dozen or so people think otherwise, as two additional candidates have already declared campaigns and numerous others have expressed an interest.

Today we’ll take an early look at how the race to replace her is shaping up in an overwhelmingly Democratic council district. I can just about guarantee this contest will be one of the more interesting and unusual in recent San Diego history. And remember, it’s early! The primary isn’t for another year.   [Read more…]

Gloria Works to Get the Bugs Out of San Diego’s Referendum Process

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As the San Diego City Council contemplates whether or not to put the future of the One Paseo development on the ballot, City Councilman Todd Gloria is seeking to reform the referendum petition process that brought them to this point.

The current dilemma over the mixed use development proposal in Carmel Valley represents the fifth time council actions have been blocked by referendum petition drives over the past eighteen months.

None of the changes proposed by Gloria at this time require affirmation by voters, but they do require councilmembers to take actions that will make the local political consultant types unhappy. First and foremost among that “low hanging fruit” would be a requirement that petitions include information about who’s paying for the effort.   [Read more…]

Nuclear Shutdown News – April 2015

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By Michael Steinberg / Black Rain Press

Oyster Creek – oldest US nuke keeps shutting itself down

On April 28 patch.com ran “NRC Oyster Creek Nuclear Has Substantial Safety Problems.” Located in New Jersey, the Oyster Creek nuclear plant is the nation’s oldest (sometimes) operating nuke. It started up in late 1969, and is now 45 years old. US nuclear plants were designed to last only 40 years.   [Read more…]

GOP Vultures Circle North County

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It was a bad day for Supervisor Dave Roberts yesterday as UT-San Diego took a couple of pot shots at the sole Democrat on the County Board.

Roberts is under fire following staff resignations and allegations of mismanagement. His fellow supervisors refused to accept a severance package for his former chief of staff and admonished him for what they said were violations of the Brown Act.

The paper’s editorial board suspended its earlier endorsement of Roberts…   [Read more…]

A Community Champion Enters D9 Council Race

Georgette Gomez amongst her supporters in City Heights.

Progressive activist Georgette Gómez announces run for public office

By Brent E. Beltrán

On Tuesday morning, surrounded by her partner, family and supporters in City Heights, community activist Georgette Gómez declared her intent to run for City Council in District 9. A resident of City Heights’ Azalea Park, Ms. Gómez wants to be a champion for all D9 residents.

“I believe that we need elected officials who not only listen to our communities when they organize but someone who can actively and proactively serve us,” says Gómez.   [Read more…]

Progress, San Diego Style: Where More Gets You Less

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I’ve lived in San Diego long enough to remember what things were like “way back when.” And you know what? Not that much has changed!

True, there are more people living here than ever before. More restaurants and bars and multiplex theaters. More monotonous red roofs rimming bulldozed hilltops in the city’s north suburbs. Many more seals and sea lions hauling out on La Jolla beaches.

Also true is that nowadays you’ll find much more political clout embedded in the office of our mayor – a result of charter changes finalized five years ago. The new strong mayor governance system has great potential for making progress toward the goal of increasing the public good.   [Read more…]

Dark Clouds on San Diego’s Horizon

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Developments over the past few days bode poorly for San Diego’s image and civic pride.

One of the main tourist attractions, the football team, the successor to the downtown development agency and the home for Comic Con are all in turmoil.

Controversies have arisen concerning the lone Democrat on the Board of Supervisors and the sheriff’s department is being investigated for civil rights violations arising out of  the arrest of a mentally handicapped man.

So many stories, so little time to tell them all…   [Read more…]

CA Dems Could Play Huge Climate Divestment Role

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By Bill McKibben / Daily Kos

California’s the center of the new energy revolution—if there was ever any doubt about that, Elon Musk’s announcement of his new home battery from Tesla’s design studio in Hawthorne settled the question. Pushed by the goad of the state’s progressive energy policies, and pulled by the chance to lead in the planet’s greatest energy transition, Silicon Valley is seeing a clean-power goldrush.

And California’s also the center of the climate crisis—one center, anyway. When the state decided not even to carry out the regular May 1 measurement of the snowpack in the Sierras because there was no snowpack to measure, it told the story of the ever-deepening drought in dramatic form.

So now’s the moment for the state of California to become the center of the divestment movement…   [Read more…]

Security Forces Clash with Baja California Farmworkers

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Police raids and street protests in Baja California have led to scores of injuries in the latest round of labor strife over pay and working conditions in San Quintin, an agricultural region producing produce sold in the United States.

This weekend’s violence followed the failure of Interior Minister Luis Miranda Nava to show up for a meeting with leaders of farm worker organizations in the area.

Max Correa Hernandez of the Central Campesina Cardenista (CCC), and Fidel Sanchez Gabriel, spokesman for the Movement of Agricultural Workers of San Quentin have called upon the state and federal government to intervene, saying more than 80 people have been injured by police in recent days.   [Read more…]

A Remembrance of Frank Saldaña

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Editor’s Note: Longtime newsman Frank Saldaña passed away Friday following a long battle with congestive heart failure, leaving a legacy of great love, wonderful stories, and unusual adventures. Here’s one of those stories, penned by daughter Lori Saldaña:

Dad Meets the Speaker: March 2004

On the Thursday after the March 2004 primary election, my father and I flew to Sacramento to attend the customary luncheon arranged by the Speaker’s Office of Member Services, for the Democratic Assembly nominees. Those of us considered likely to win in the general election were expected to stay for candidate training for a few more days following the luncheon. (More experienced candidates were already scheduling fundraisers and meetings with lobbyists during those days.)

My primary victory had been a completely unanticipated upset. And, since I had been considered unlikely to prevail, I had been ignored by the Speaker of the Assembly, Fabian Nuñez, throughout the campaign.

Finally, on Election Night, when it became clear I would win by 10 percentage points (after being outspent by 2 opponents by nearly $1 million), the Speaker’s staff called to invite me to attend the Thursday luncheon.

I hesitated, and explained I would need to see about getting a substitute teacher for my class before being able to commit to attend.   [Read more…]

UT San Diego Sale: Inquiring Minds Want to Know

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Another chapter in San Diego’s media history is closing, “Papa” Doug Manchester is selling San Diego’s Daily Fishwrap to Tribune Publishing, owners of the Los Angeles Times.

Today I’ll attempt to answer some obvious questions, re-cap reactions, and engage in aimless speculation about what the future will bring. Suffice it to say that those expecting a new era of enlightened journalism are bound to be disappointed, at least in the short run.

The good news here is that certain downtown interests are now “uncertain” about what the future will bring.   [Read more…]