Thumbnail image for Labor Day Rant: Maybe it’s Time We Hit These Cheating Corporate Bosses Upside the Head with a Two by Four

Labor Day Rant: Maybe it’s Time We Hit These Cheating Corporate Bosses Upside the Head with a Two by Four

by Doug Porter 09.01.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

A new gilded age is upon us, a hundred and forty years or so after the last one. The rich are getting richer. The poor are getting poorer. From the pulpits of the prosperous we’re told the pursuit of the all-mighty dollar is the path of righteousness, even if that path is paved with the misery of the masses.

The mantra for the millennial era is that just a few less regulations and a lot less taxes will set us free, despite all the accrued evidence to the contrary. Whatever criticisms have been leveled at economist Thomas Piketty, nobody has yet to challenge the two centuries of data that prove his point that unfettered capitalism benefits the only very few.

Here were are on Labor Day, the sop set aside to acknowledge the efforts of hard working people, and there is scant acknowledgement in too much of the media that the struggle for economic justice continues. Somehow we’re supposed to to forget history about the excesses of unfettered capitalism and brave souls that stood up against all odds to challenge those seeking to establish an oligarchy. 

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Thumbnail image for Why Labor Day Still Matters: Unions and the Future of American Democracy

Why Labor Day Still Matters: Unions and the Future of American Democracy

by Jim Miller 09.01.2014 Columns

By Jim Miller

Over the last year, the subject of economic inequality has been in the news quite a bit with the release of Robert Reich’s spectacular documentary Inequality for All and economist Thomas Piketty’s seminal work, Capital in the Twentieth Century. The picture they paint is a grim one and new bad numbers just keep rolling in.

For instance, a few weeks ago a Russell Sage Foundation study revealed that the wealth of the typical American household has dropped nearly 20 percent since 1984 and yet another study notes that private sector wages measured in real terms have dipped 16.2 percent since their 1972 high point. In the wake of that news, another US Census Bureau report came out showing that middle class household wealth fell by 35 percent between 2005 and 2011.

Thus while the last few years in particular have been incredibly beneficial for the ultra affluent, most of the rest of us have struggled to hold ground or not lose more. Some economists are even calling this phenomenon “the new normal.”

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Thumbnail image for Really, Really, Bad News About Climate Change (And a Chance to Do Something About It)

Really, Really, Bad News About Climate Change (And a Chance to Do Something About It)

by Doug Porter 08.29.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

A United Nations report being shared with governments around the world prior to publication uses the strongest language to date, warning of dire consequences of continuing climate change.

Human influence on the planet’s climate is clear and having “widespread and consequential impacts on human and natural systems,” some of which may be irreversible, says the leaked draft of its final “Synthesis Report” which seeks to tie together previous reports the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released over the last year.

“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia,” the report concludes. “The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen.”

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Thumbnail image for Waiter! There’s Some Snot in My Soup!

Waiter! There’s Some Snot in My Soup!

by Doug Porter 08.28.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

Opponents of the City Council ordinance allowing earned sick days for workers in San Diego continue to stand in front of shopping centers and grocery stores to collect signatures for a referendum suspending the law until June 2016.

Meanwhile, Jason Cabel Roe, the GOP strategist who the San Diego Daily Transcript calls a “business consultant,” says “We’re hearing from a lot of small businesses about how they’re panicked about the potential costs…”

That’s right, they’d rather have their employees work sick. Think about that next time you eat in a restaurant. Your server (or cook or busboy) may well have opted to work while ill rather than lose a day’s pay. After all, according to a study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 81% of food service workers don’t have a choice.

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Thumbnail image for More Evidence Pointing to Charter City ‘Savings’ Fallacy

More Evidence Pointing to Charter City ‘Savings’ Fallacy

by Source 08.28.2014 Activism

by Don Greene / Escondido Democratic Club

Part of the pro-city charter mantra we hear from Mayor Abed and the other members of the city council majority is about savings. Especially savings when it comes to eliminating prevailing wages from city construction projects. In a recently released survey, the ‘savings’ that Sam & Co continue to promote are becoming harder and harder to find.

The City of Carlsbad – a charter city in North San Diego county and the favorite, “let’s-be-more-like-them” example promoted by the Mayor – answered a survey on Prevailing Wages and associated savings. The results were somewhat lackluster. When asked the question, “What savings have been realized on average for those contracts where non prevailing wages have been applied?” the answer was telling:

“We have found savings to be hard to ascertain. Bid prices might be lower on the front end but there is some suspicion that total project costs may impact initial savings (change orders, costly project delays, more labor by city employees, etc.)”

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Thumbnail image for Who Runs San Diego? The Role of Community Weeklies

Who Runs San Diego? The Role of Community Weeklies

by Doug Porter 08.27.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter / A Project of the Democratic Woman’s Club

There are more than two dozen community weekly media outlets in San Diego.  Most appear on printed tabloid-sized newsprint editions. Some have a rather tenuous relationship with internet editions.

Nationally speaking, paid circulation weeklies outnumber daily papers by a 6 to 1 margin. And nobody even keeps track of the smaller free papers. Depending on who you’re talking to, weeklies are the lights at the end of the media tunnel or just a few years away from being doomed to digital extinction.

What they have in common is their focus on a limited audience. Geography, ethnic background, social and/or sexual orientation are the target markets for these publishers, who range from corporate overlords to retirees. This week’s column will focus on those serving limited geographic areas. (A future installment will cover the non-geographic weeklies)

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Thumbnail image for Yazidi Moon

Yazidi Moon

by At Large 08.27.2014 Culture

By Nat Krieger

On the night of August 10th the people of San Diego looked up in the sky and saw exactly what thousands of Yazidi men, women, and children trapped on the slopes of Mount Sinjar saw: a supermoon, the moon closer to our planet than it will be for more than another year.

In the day leading to the super, or perigean moon, I searched the web trying to find something out about this people on the verge of extermination. There isn’t much. First the shock of learning that for nearly a thousand years a faith described as syncretic and nonviolent had withstood the never ending storm surge of monotheism spinning across the Middle East and Mesopotamia…

…Followed by the realization that, as with most religious minorities who don’t force their beliefs on other groups and rely on oral tradition to teach their children, the few written accounts of the Yazidis are nearly all by outsiders who offer mainly speculation as to when the religion started, or why, or what its roots are.

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Thumbnail image for Precious Water Bottled and Shipped Out of Drought-Ridden California

Precious Water Bottled and Shipped Out of Drought-Ridden California

by Source 08.27.2014 Activism

By Anastasia Pantsios / EcoWatch

California is suffering through a record drought. Water is being rationed and its usually fertile agriculture industry is suffering. Meanwhile, someone in Minnesota or Kentucky or Maryland may be drinking a bit of California’s precious commodity. Mother Jones reported that at least four major bottled water companies—Aquafina, Dasani, Crystal Geyser and Arrowhead—use water from California, either ground (spring) water or tap water. Aquafina and Dasani both bottle and sell treated tap water, while Crystal Geyser and Arrowhead use spring water.

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Thumbnail image for Women’s Equality Day: No Cause for Celebration

Women’s Equality Day: No Cause for Celebration

by Doug Porter 08.26.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

More than four decades ago Congresswomen Bella Abzug introduced legislation to designate August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.” The bill says that “the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote.”

In 1972 the Equal Rights Amendment passed, having been introduced in every session of Congress since 1923. The amendment required ratification by 38 states, but fell three states short. While there have been various legal maneuvers extend the ratification deadline, along with attempts to re-introduce the amendment over the years, it is, for all practical purposes, dead.

Think of it: more than half the human beings in the United States are subject to legally sanctioned discrimination. Buried beneath all the justifications and rationalizations for this fundamental injustice is the belief that women are (or should be) chattel.

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Thumbnail image for Ocean Acidification Could Cause Many Species To Go Extinct

Ocean Acidification Could Cause Many Species To Go Extinct

by John Lawrence 08.26.2014 Environment

By John Lawrence

As the amount of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere continues to increase, a certain portion of that gets absorbed by the oceans. This year alone some two and a half billion tons of CO2 will be absorbed by the oceans. That represents seven pounds pumped into the seas by every American.

Oceans cover seventy percent of the earth’s surface, and everywhere the oceans and the atmosphere come into contact there is an exchange of gases. When this exchange is in balance, there is no problem. But when the atmosphere’s gaseous composition has been changed, which it has since the industrial revolution, the exchange becomes lopsided. More COgoes into the ocean than comes out.

Since the start of the industrial revolution, humans have burned through enough fossil fuels to add 365 billion metric tons of carbon to the atmosphere. Deforestation has added another 180 billion tons. Each year we add another nine billion tons or so, and that amount has been increasing 6 percent annually. Today the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air is 400 parts per million (PPM). This is higher than it has been at any time in the last 800,000 years.

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Thumbnail image for DIY Resistance: Develop a Sense of Urgency

DIY Resistance: Develop a Sense of Urgency

by Will Falk 08.26.2014 Activism

By Will Falk

We are losing badly. The dominant culture is destroying what is left of the world and, right now, our resistance is simply ineffective. I cannot pretend to know exactly how we’re going to turn things around and stop the madness. But, I do believe we must develop a profound sense of urgency.

Wherever we look we’re met with the horror that should produce the necessary urgency. Look to the oceans and you’ll find that the coral reefs are dying. Zooplankton, forming the base of the oceanic food chain, have declined 70% over the last 40 years.

Look to the climate and you’ll find we’re boiling the world to death. Even mainstream scientists are predicting a 6 degree Celsius rise in average global temperatures by the end of the century.

Look to the animals and you’ll find 50% of all species disappearing. Look to the forests and you’ll find between 8 and 16 billion trees being cut down a year.

It’s as if the dominant culture sees the future and is holding the most macabre going-out-of-business sale imaginable complete with the advertisement “Everything must go.”

The statistics I include here are tiny snapshots of the immensity of the problem.

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10 George Orwell Quotes that Predicted Life in 2014 America

by Source 08.26.2014 Activism

george-orwellBy Justin King / The Anti-Media 

George Orwell ranks among the most profound social critics of the modern era. Some of his quotations, more than a half a century old, show the depth of understanding an enlightened mind can have about the future.

“In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.”

Though many in the modern age have the will to bury their head in the sand when it comes to political matters, nobody can only concern themselves with the proverbial pebble in their shoe. If one is successful in avoiding politics, at some point the effects of the political decisions they abstained from participating in will reach their front door. More often than not, by that time the person has already lost whatever whisper of a voice the government has allowed them.

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Thumbnail image for Kate Loves a Parade

Kate Loves a Parade

by At Large 08.25.2014 Activism

Editor’s Note:  Women in the United States were granted the right to vote on August 26, 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was certified as law.  In 1971 at the urging  of Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY), in 1971 the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day,”calling attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality. 

By Anne Hoiberg

“Kate Sessions” herself, the Mother of Balboa Park, will be on hand to speak and to greet at the Annual San Diego Suffrage Rally and Parade coming up on August 26 in Balboa Park. Thus, San Diego will kick-off the 8th annual women’s rights event starting at 5pm. The crowd will gather, appropriately enough, at the Kate Sessions Statue on the 6th Avenue side of the Laurel Street Bridge to hear a 30 minute rally prior to marching en masse across the Laurel Street Bridge.

The parade will be lead by enthusiastic women’s rights activist, Judy Forman, owner of the Big Kitchen. Marchers will be dressed in 1900s suffragist outfits along with those fabulous 1900s hats, outrageous enough to make any dame at Del Mar jealous. All San Diegans and visitors are invited. Many local women’s organizations and activists will participate. The event is produced by the Women’s Museum of California.

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Thumbnail image for Conflict Over Minimum Wage Increase Takes to the Streets of San Diego

Conflict Over Minimum Wage Increase Takes to the Streets of San Diego

by Doug Porter 08.25.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Tensions between supporters and opponents of a city council approved increase in the minimum wage /earned sick days have escalated in recent days.

For now, most of the battles are being fought via press releases. GOP Consultant Jason Roe worked the phones on Friday, claiming signature collectors for a referendum effectively suspending the council’s action, were assaulted.

TV News crews and police descended upon a Vons store in Clairemont only to learn that a paid canvasser was claiming his petitions had been stolen. Former Assemblywomen Lori Saldaña is now questioning that claim, based on the fact she was in the area at the time of alleged theft and saw nothing of the kind.

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Thumbnail image for Stop Freaking Out About ISIS

Stop Freaking Out About ISIS

by Source 08.25.2014 Government

By Mark Sumner/ Daily Kos

Now that Ferguson, Missouri, is not producing enough tear gas to keep CNN’s attention, I couldn’t help but notice Chuck Hagel bouncing in his chair, talking about how ISIS is a greater peril than anything mankind has faced since the saber-toothed tiger. Somewhere, just off screen, John McCain is preparing two lists: people we should have bombed, and people we should bomb now.

There’s a big CNN fear graphic on the screen right this moment asking “Does ISIS have cells in the US?” There’s a queue extending out into the parking lot of politicos waiting their turn to shake a finger at President Obama for not rushing back to the White House to deal with this Urgent Threat of Unprecedented Proportion. While wearing a tie. As God intended.

You know how much threat ISIS represents to the United States? None. That’s how much. Exactly none. If there was a value less than none, then it would be that, but there’s not, so none is the answer.

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Thumbnail image for Calling Out the Liars Behind the Anti Minimum Wage Campaign in San Diego

Calling Out the Liars Behind the Anti Minimum Wage Campaign in San Diego

by Doug Porter 08.22.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Paid signature gatherers, many from out of town, fanned out across the city this week trying to persuade voters to support a Chamber of Commerce led effort to block a  minimum wage increase for San Diegans.

City Council President Todd Gloria, a very high profile local politician and author of the minimum wage/sick days ordinance, had the presence of mind to make an instagram video as he was approached outside an uptown post office.

“Have you signed the petition so the state can’t force the city of San Diego to increase the minimum wage yet?” the signature-gatherer asked. “I support raising the minimum wage,” Gloria answered.

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Thumbnail image for Abed, Diaz Spar at Escondido Chamber Mayoral Forum

Abed, Diaz Spar at Escondido Chamber Mayoral Forum

by Source 08.22.2014 Government

Escondido Democratic Club

There were few surprises as candidates for Escondido Mayor in the November election met for a forum August 20, sponsored by the Escondido Chamber of Commerce.

Mayor Sam Abed and Deputy Mayor Olga Diaz repeatedly demonstrated the starkly different choice before voters.

Perhaps the ‘news’ was the presence of Stephen Siaw, an unexpected newcomer to the race and to city politics. It was Siaw’s first appearance at a public candidate forum. The approximately 100 people in attendance welcomed him warmly.

Chamber Governmental Affairs chair Kevin Svetich asked a wide-ranging mix of questions that covered the key issues.

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Thumbnail image for Groups Call ALS Bucket Challenge a Baby Killer

Groups Call ALS Bucket Challenge a Baby Killer

by Doug Porter 08.21.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Talk about your buzzkill.

Everybody, it seems, has been doing the ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) challenge lately. Actor Charlie Sheen, San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle and even Mayor Kevin Faulconer have had buckets of iced liquid dumped on them as part a nationwide fundraising campaign.

While public figures locally have gone out of their way to be conscious about the drought faced by Californians, there’s always a crank somewhere looking to be a spoiler.

In the case of the ALS challenge it’s a certain Catholic Archdiocese and the we’re-not-a-hate-group types at the American Family Association (AFA). You might remember the AFA from their ‘don’t buy Harvey Milk stamps campaign’.

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Thumbnail image for The Grand Experiment at Voice of San Diego

The Grand Experiment at Voice of San Diego

by At Large 08.21.2014 Columns

By Linda Perine / Democratic Woman’s Club

When Voice of San Diego (VOSD) began online publication nearly a decade ago  the excitement in progressive San Diego was palpable. Here, finally, was an answer to the biased reporting that had been a hallmark of the UT for years (even before it was purchased by Doug Manchester).

The world of journalism was being revolutionized as the print media model became too expensive and cumbersome to compete in an instant access world. Slate and Salon opened their digital doors, and it seemed a new dawn of accountable news reporting was upon us.

San Diego journalist/entrepreneur Neil Morgan and Buzz Woolley founded VOSD. Those were the days of Enron by the Sea, pension underfunding, indicted council members, resigning Mayors and special elections (sound familiar?).

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Thumbnail image for Don’t Sign It! Chamber of Commerce Led Group Seeks to Block Minimum Wage Increase

Don’t Sign It! Chamber of Commerce Led Group Seeks to Block Minimum Wage Increase

by Doug Porter 08.19.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

As expected yesterday, the City Council voted to override Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s veto of San Diego’s Earned Sick Day / Minimum Wage ordinance. The vote was 6-2, with all Democrats supporting and Republicans Mark Kersey, and Scott Sherman opposed. Councilwoman Lori Zapf did not attend the meeting.

Not long after the council vote Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders dialed up the media, announcing they’d be collecting signatures to force a referendum on the ordinance, hoping to suspend (until the June, 2016 elections) an increase in pay for an estimated 172,000 local workers, along with denying access to earned sick days to 279,000 individuals.

Raise Up San Diego, the alliance of community, faith and labor groups supporting the ordinance passed by the City Council has announced it will mount an educational campaign urging people to decline to sign the referendum petitions.

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As Abortion Rights Shrink, What’s the Best Language to Use to Protect Women’s Options?

by Source 08.19.2014 Activism

As leaders like Planned Parenthood are dropping “pro-choice” language, is there a smart alternative—and should there be one?

By Alyssa Figueroa / AlterNet

Across America, reproductive freedom is shrinking. Even with Alabama’s recent court victory protecting abortion rights in that deep red state, the overwhelming trend is very discouraging.

Red-state Republicans have shut down clinics in states like Texas. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld protesters’ right to harass women going to clinics. State legislatures haveenacted 21 new abortion restrictions so far this year. Worse yet, recent research has found that while many young women support the substance of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court ruling that affirmed the right to end pregnancies, they are still apt to label themselves pro-life.

What’s going wrong? There’s no one answer. But a striking development is that the reproductive health movement is backing away from its longtime “pro-choice” label. Planned Parenthood has recently decided to drop it in favor of newer messaging that seeks to connect abortion with a wide range of women’s issues.

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Thumbnail image for SeaWorld: A Bigger Cage Doesn’t Change Anything

SeaWorld: A Bigger Cage Doesn’t Change Anything

by Doug Porter 08.18.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

 After a bad week in the stock market and a bad first half of the year at the turnstile, the company behind SeaWorld announced a series of moves it obviously hopes will enhance the image of its water parks.

The plans include doubling the size of its orca environment, contributing an additional $10 million to research on the species and establishing an independent advisory committee of scientists to oversee its orca program.

The new orca environment, dubbed the Blue World Project, will cover 1.5 acres at 50 feet deep and 350 feet in length. The new habitat will have 10 million gallons of water, up from 5.6 million. Visitors will be able to view the orcas from a 40-foot-tall glass wall below the water line.

The editorial board at UT-San Diego was impressed. Not many other people seemed to share their near-gushing sentiment.

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Thumbnail image for War Weary

War Weary

by At Large 08.17.2014 Activism

By Jay Powell

That’s what they say we are.

The chicken hawk sabre rattlers
Are yellin’ at Obama ‘cause
He won’t put real boots on the ground
But they won’t say exactly that cause they know we are

(war) weary.

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Thumbnail image for Is the Obama and EU Face-Off With Putin a New Cold War? What Forces Are Driving the Confrontation? Part III

Is the Obama and EU Face-Off With Putin a New Cold War? What Forces Are Driving the Confrontation? Part III

by At Large 08.16.2014 Culture

By Frank Thomas and John Lawrence

Parts 1 and 2 can be found here and here.

So Why is This Obama’s Problem (J. Lawrence)

Without any cooperation from Congress, Obama is relegated to using his executive powers to try and effect some meaningful action on his domestic agenda for which the Congressional Republican response is, “Let’s sue him.” The Republican House not only will not cooperate with Obama on any level, they actively oppose his every move. They are worse than a “Do Nothing” Congress; they are an active “Try to Make Obama Fail No Matter What He Does” Congress. The only legislation the Republicans in Congress would support is if Obama suddenly came to them and proposed a massive tax reduction for the rich and a concomitant tax increase on the poor and middle class. Or if he proposed to do away with Medicare and Social Security. Then they would line up in support of Obama and cheer him on.

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