Politics

Thumbnail image for Will Hot, Hot, Hot Mean Burn, Baby, Burn? Heat Wave, High Winds Forecast for Weekend

Will Hot, Hot, Hot Mean Burn, Baby, Burn? Heat Wave, High Winds Forecast for Weekend

by Doug Porter 09.30.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

It’s fall in San Diego, and while outsiders may not realize it, we can see some of the highest temperatures of the year while trees are turning colors in more temperate parts of the country.

The National Weather Service is forecasting the development of a Santa Ana pattern starting on Thursday. Temperatures will peak on Saturday, the humidity is expected to drop into the single digits and winds up 50 miles per hour are expected in the eastern part of the county.

Given that temperatures have already been above normal for the year and most of California is starved for water, conditions are favorable for wildfires throughout Southern California.  So it seems like today is as good as any to write about the changing of our climate in San Diego and the responses (or lack thereof) to these changes.

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Obama’s Pitiful Pledge Epitomizes Failure of UN Summit: Climate Campaigners

by Source 09.30.2014 Activism

Community leaders from Our Power Campaign attempt to deliver a statement to the UN but are denied entry. They brought "representing our community-led solutions, as plants that clean the soil of toxics," according a group statement. (Photo: Climate Justice Alliance)

Following historic protests, grassroots organizations turned away from UN’s ‘halls of power’ when they attempt to deliver statement.

By Sarah Lazare / Common Dreams

Historic crowds gathered in New York City on September 21 to demand drastic action in the face of the ever worsening climate crisis. But at Tuesday’s Climate Summit at the United Nations headquarters, heads of state—most notably President Obama—did not come close to heeding the urgent calls for concrete action, say climate justice campaigners.

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Thumbnail image for Gov. Brown’s Bill Signing Binge Brings Changes to California

Gov. Brown’s Bill Signing Binge Brings Changes to California

by Doug Porter 09.29.2014 Business

By Doug Porter 

Governor Jerry Brown’s been busy over the last few days, signing off on a variety of measures passed by the Legislature during its last session.

Legislation concerning sexual consent, subcontractor standards, the initiative process, degrees at community colleges and legal assistance for immigrant minors were all approved.

Today we’ll take a look at some of those new laws. The Governor vetoed additional funding for California colleges, along with a group of bills aiming to promote transparency in governance and provide greater disclosure in political campaigns.

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Thumbnail image for Fifty Years Later: Who Really Won the Battle of Berkeley?

Fifty Years Later: Who Really Won the Battle of Berkeley?

by Source 09.29.2014 Activism

As student activists return to campus to celebrate the 1964 Free Speech movement that galvanized for social justice, big questions remain about the direction of higher education since those radical days of upheaval and hope

By Barbara Garson / Common Dreams

I’m going back to the Berkeley campus this week for the fiftieth reunion of the Free Speech Movement.  You may have heard in some history class about Mario Savio and the first student sit-in of the sixties.  That was us FSMers at Berkeley.

It will feel a bit surreal.  The university that had 801 of us arrested is welcoming us back by hanging Free Speech banners on the building we occupied.  Home like a victorious football team!  But it’s not a real victory because the people that tried to shut us up in the 1960s have a more chilling control over U.S. college students today than they ever had over us.  Today it’s not police control, its economic control.

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Thumbnail image for The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: The Not-So-Great Depression and WW II Come to Logan Heights – Part I

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: The Not-So-Great Depression and WW II Come to Logan Heights – Part I

by Maria E. Garcia 09.27.2014 Culture

The Mexican Repatriation and hard times

By Maria E. Garcia

The 1930s and the Depression brought many changes to the families living in Logan Heights. The Great Depression started in 1929 and ended around 1941 when World War II brought jobs to the country as a whole and to places like San Diego in particular. In the late 1930s the economy improved. The war had created a lot of jobs and had a great influence in ending the Depression. In San Diego, the aircraft industry which included Consolidated-Vultee (which eventually became Convair), flourished and provided employment.

The similarities between the political climate of the Great Depression era and today are frightening. Like today, there was a call to deport Mexicans and Mexican-Americans and return them to Mexico. Like today, Mexicans and Mexican-Americans were perceived as taking jobs that belonged to “real” Americans, and like today, it was also believed that deportation would reduce the number of people on the relief rolls.

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Thumbnail image for Welcome to the New Gilded Age: Ironworkers Seek Back Pay, Safe Working Conditions

Welcome to the New Gilded Age: Ironworkers Seek Back Pay, Safe Working Conditions

by Doug Porter 09.26.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Accompanied by Congressman Scott Peters, local labor leaders and clergy, a group of ironworkers held a press conference outside the offices of a Japanese-based developer yesterday at an office park north of University City, asking the company to lend an ear to their grievances.

It was an odd setting. The ironworkers weren’t union members, North American Sekisui House (NASH) wasn’t (directly) the employer they were complaining about, and the carefully manicured surroundings certainly were not a construction site.

This location was for now the end of a long road these mostly Latino workers have been following for over two years now, seeking back wages, safe working conditions and respect from California concrete reinforcing contractor Millennium Reinforcing. They followed the money up the contracting chain, ending up here appealing to the people putting up the money for development projects to consider the ethics of the companies they hire to build them.

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Thumbnail image for Who Runs San Diego? Deals Like the One Proposed for Belmont Park Amount to a War on Taxpayers

Who Runs San Diego? Deals Like the One Proposed for Belmont Park Amount to a War on Taxpayers

by At Large 09.26.2014 Business

Guest column by Councilmember Ed Harris

Recently, the City Council was asked to grant an extension to the lease at Belmont Park in Mission Beach. Pacifica, a local developer and current leaseholder of the park’s commercial buildings, wanted the Council to approve a deal that would extend its current lease to 55 years.  Pacifica has held the lease for two years.

After reviewing the proposed lease, I asked the Independent Budget Analyst (IBA) to determine whether it was consistent with best practices of other cities, and whether a longer-term lease would be in the City’s long-term economic interests.

The IBA concluded that the 50 year term of the proposed extension is longer than the average municipal ground lease, and that its rental rates seemed lower than the percentage-rent average of comparable municipal leases in other California cities.

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Thumbnail image for Why Do Lawmakers Like Darrell Issa Want to Enable Illegal Ponzi Schemes?

Why Do Lawmakers Like Darrell Issa Want to Enable Illegal Ponzi Schemes?

by At Large 09.26.2014 Business

By Liana Molina

Recently a group of lawmakers, including Representative Darrell Isa, launched an attack against a Justice Department program known as Operation Choke Point. They portray it as a crazed government effort to make banks withhold services from a variety of law-abiding businesses. Its true purpose, some of these critics assert, is to shut down the payday lending industry.

The reality is a little more nuanced. Operation Choke Point grew out of an inter-agency consumer protection group and their concerns about a new generation of fraudsters who profit by using their access to people’s bank accounts to make illegal withdrawals – again and again and again. The real targets of this program are a subset of banks and payment companies who enable this fraud when, in the Department’s words, they “knowingly facilitate consumer scams, or that willfully look the other way in processing fraudulent transactions.”

Mass-market fraud, directed at businesses as well as individuals, causes tens of billions of dollars in losses every year. A large share of that ill-gotten money comes out of the pockets of senior citizens and financially desperate people.

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Thumbnail image for Legalization Here We Come: California Campaign Underway for 2016 Pot Proposition

Legalization Here We Come: California Campaign Underway for 2016 Pot Proposition

by Doug Porter 09.25.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

More than four decades ago (1972) California’s Proposition 19, which would have decriminalized marijuana possession, was resoundingly defeated by a 2 to 1 margin.

In the years since then, hodgepodge of voter approved propositions, legislative initiatives and executive orders have sought to lessen or eliminate criminal penalties for use and possession of pot. They haven’t worked as intended. Overzealous prosecutors and law enforcers have continued to put the hammer down, even as juries have increasingly refused to play along.

The beginning of end for pot prohibition in California came yesterday, as the Marijuana Policy Project filed paperwork registering a a campaign committee to start accepting and spending contributions for a pot legalization initiative on the November 2016 state ballot.

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Thumbnail image for Welcome to Endless War, Shock and Awe Style

Welcome to Endless War, Shock and Awe Style

by Doug Porter 09.24.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

 Haven’t we learned anything?

A bunch of terrorists funded by our so-called allies and birthed by the failure of previous attempts at military solutions in the middle east–have managed to get the attention of the nation’s war mongering set.

In a matter of weeks a group that our government can’t even figure what to call has gone from “freedom fighter” status to massing at the US border, poised to attack. Senator Lindsey Graham went on Fox news to warn the country “This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home.” Aren’t you terrified yet?

The major news media have obsessed with ISIS/ISIL/IS beheadings, even as they have ignored the savagery of the Shia militias in Iraq and the Sunni death machine in Saudi Arabia. Boom! Bang! Blood! Guts! Be Afraid! …Film at 11!

Congress is outraged, of course, but couldn’t be bothered to actually hold hearings, ask questions or give their opinion on the subject. They need their rest, y’know. Everybody “knew” the only solution would be bombs, it was just a matter of timing.

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Thumbnail image for Councilman Ed Harris: Why He Rejected the Proposed Lease for Belmont Park – “It’s Pathetic.”

Councilman Ed Harris: Why He Rejected the Proposed Lease for Belmont Park – “It’s Pathetic.”

by Frank Gormlie 09.24.2014 Business

Harris: “We can’t keep giving away our assets to big business.”

Just got off the phone with Councilman Ed Harris – he represents OB, Mission Beach and the rest of District 2, of course.

He had a lot to say about the Belmont Park lease that the City Council just rejected on Monday. He knew that we’d been covering the issue. Today, the U-T ran an article on the rejection, tacking in favor of the current managers, it seemed. Harris wanted to set the record straight.

Harris, you see, led a Council majority yesterday in rejecting the proposed new lease for Pacifica Enterprises because the cut the City is getting is not fair. All the Democrats followed his lead (Emerald was out) and are having the issue return to the Council in 60 days. The Republicans all voted to renew the current lease.

“We have to take in the big picture,” Harris told me. “We can’t keep giving away our assets to big business,” he said.

The deal that the City of San Diego has in the current lease for Belmont Park is not fair, he said in so many words.

“The City has received $1.6 Million dollars in 26 years – that’s only $5,000 a month,” he said. “It’s pathetic.”

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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 Questioning San Diego County Pension Fund’s Excessive Risk

Questioning San Diego County Pension Fund’s Excessive Risk

by John Lawrence 09.23.2014 Economy

By John Lawrence

According to the Wall Street Journal, San Diego County’s pension fund manager is using an extreme amount of risky leverage to make up for a shortfall in funding.

This is equivalent to the gambler who makes riskier bets to make up for the bad bets he’s made in the past. Wall Street Journal reporter Dan Fitzpatrick called San Diego County’s investment methods “one of the most extreme examples yet of a public pension using leverage – including instruments such as derivatives – to boost performance.”

We have seen this kind of risky behavior before. Some jurisdictions like Orange County, CA and Jefferson County, Alabama along with the cities of Detroit, San Bernardino and Stockton, CA have gone bankrupt. The strategy being used by San Diego County Employees Retirement Association (SDCERA) is drawing a lot of criticism. The pension fund manages about $10 billion on behalf of more than 39,000 active or former public employees.

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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 America’s First Banned Book and the Battle for the Soul of the Country

America’s First Banned Book and the Battle for the Soul of the Country

by Jim Miller 09.22.2014 Books & Poetry

By Jim Miller

It’s Banned Books Week and what better way to kick it off than with a salute to America’s first banned book: Thomas Morton’s New English Canaan published in 1637? New English Canaan is a three-volume affair containing Morton’s sympathetic observations about Native Americans along with a celebration of the beauty of the natural world and a fierce satire of the Puritans.

While some scholars point to other books such as John Eliot’s The Christian Commonwealth (written in the late 1640s) or William Pynchon’s The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption (1650) as the first books to be banned by the Puritans for theological or historical reasons, Morton’s New English Canaan precedes both of these texts and the conflict surrounding it is far more important and illustrative with regard to the political and cultural history of the United States.

Indeed, Morton’s book was banned because it told his side in one of the pivotal battles for the cultural soul of the New World. Morton, a perpetual thorn in the side of the great Puritan patriarch William Bradford, represented the untamable “other” of colonial America. When Morton set up his rival colony of Merry Mount in close proximity to Bradford’s Plymouth Plantation and invited the Indians and escaped indentured servants to join him, all hell broke loose.

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Thumbnail image for Escondido’s Park That’s Not a Park, Owned by the Mayor’s Family

Escondido’s Park That’s Not a Park, Owned by the Mayor’s Family

by At Large 09.22.2014 Environment

By Don Greene / Escondido Democrats

Budget discussions at the City of Escondido have for the last 4 years focused on a more streamlined approach to spending.  The City Council has cut back on many programs and amenities, none more so than our Parks and Recreation Department.

I drive past Grove Park and Washington Park and admire that the city has set aside outdoor space for its residents. The question always comes to mind as to why would we want to cheapen these areas or outright sell them off?  Why wouldn’t we want to preserve these spaces for the residents to enjoy?

Of course, with budget cuts, the city is having a hard time maintaining the programming at our city parks.  The move to make the Recreation Department as close to a “full cost recovery department” as possible, has stripped away many of the amenities that our parks offered to our residents. Many of the amenities at our local parks have fallen into disrepair and there doesn’t seem to be money in the budget to fix these problems. With limited amenities, our parks are not being used by residents.

There have been proposals such as the Water Park and the BMX Track slotted for Kit Carson Park.  These projects would have been, presumably, a public/private partnership that would have brought more revenue and more visitors to the city.  Opponents of these measures argued that we would lose valuable green space.  But our parks are not the only source of green space in the city.

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Thumbnail image for Who Runs San Diego? How Do You Solve a Problem like Sea World?

Who Runs San Diego? How Do You Solve a Problem like Sea World?

by At Large 09.19.2014 Activism

Shamu, we hardly knew ye

By Linda Perine / San Diego Woman’s Democratic Club

For most of us it has been a slow, painful process to understand that our love affair with cute, cuddly, smiley Shamu has made us participants in a cold-blooded business that imprisons and mistreats sentient, social creatures in ways that turn the stomach and shock the conscience.

Concerned environmentalist and civic leaders have been telling us for years that the capture of orcas was nasty and brutal involving bombs and machine guns, the violent separation of babies from their mothers and resulting in injury and death to many orcas in the wild. Books criticizing the Sea World business model and its exploitation of captive whales and dolphins just did not register.

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Thumbnail image for Readers Write:  The Community Effort behind the Arrest of a Suspect in the North Park Assaults

Readers Write: The Community Effort behind the Arrest of a Suspect in the North Park Assaults

by At Large 09.19.2014 Activism

By Alan Bennett

North Park citizens were intimately involved in the arrest of David Angelo Drake, a 23-year-old male as a suspect in the sexual assaults on women in North Park over the past four months. The San Diego resident was scheduled to be arraigned September 11, 2014, at the downtown courthouse. Mr. Drake was taken into custody into custody near the corner of Fifth Avenue and Washington Street.

This was possible because a North Park resident took the time to get involved. The tipsters words to me were: “I did not expect that I would solve the puzzle, but I knew that I had to try and that I was going to keep at it until I figured it out.” Although bedridden, the tipster suspected having seen the emblem on the suspect’s Tee shirt caught on a closed circuit television. That image was vague but familiar. After four hours, searching Tee shirt websites, a match was made.

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Thumbnail image for Escondido School Board Candidates on Creationism, Prayer, Tenure

Escondido School Board Candidates on Creationism, Prayer, Tenure

by Source 09.19.2014 Editor's Picks

By Rick Moore / Escondido Democratic Club

Both candidates competing to represent Area 4 of the Escondido Union (elementary) School District told Escondido Democrats in a forum September 13 support teaching creationism alongside science in the classroom. Incumbent Board Member Marty Hranek said it is “important to offer different viewpoints and state the facts as they are. There’s a lot of very good research out there for multiple philosophies.” Zesty Harper, who is challenging Hranek, said “I’m a Christian and I believe God created the earth. I think we should offer both views… in a non-biased way.” Hranek later sent an email attempting to backtrack from his comments, writing “I do not agree that ‘creationism’ should be taught as curriculum in public schools.”

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Thumbnail image for As Study Shows Poverty Rising in San Diego, Campaign to Shame Restaurant Industry Over Wages Emerges

As Study Shows Poverty Rising in San Diego, Campaign to Shame Restaurant Industry Over Wages Emerges

by Doug Porter 09.18.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

The poverty rate in San Diego has risen over the past year according to data released by U.S. Census Bureau this week. A total of 209,045 San Diegans (15.8%)  lived below the federal poverty level last year, including more than 64,000 children (21.9%) of all children in the city.  

The release of this report comes two days after the San Diego Chamber of Commerce claimed success in a referendum campaign effectively halting implementation of a local minimum wage increase. Much of the money for that campaign reportedly came via the California Restaurant Association.

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Thumbnail image for Inside an Outsider’s Campaign for Political Office – An Unprecedented Win

Inside an Outsider’s Campaign for Political Office – An Unprecedented Win

by Lori Saldaña 09.18.2014 Activism

By Lori Saldaña / Part Four of Four

Yesterday Lori Saldaña discussed the realities of putting together a door-to-door campaign.

I’ll always remember the shock, joy and celebration my volunteers, friends and family experienced when the first voting results came in on Election night, shortly after 9 pm. I was leading in the 3-way results by 10 points, with 40% of the vote going to me and  30% going to each of my two opponents.  The number varied little over the ensuing hours, ultimately staying there for the remainder of the night.

We had overcome the odds and won big, despite being outspent by a ridiculous amount.

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Thumbnail image for DIY Resistance: Find Rock Bottom

DIY Resistance: Find Rock Bottom

by Will Falk 09.18.2014 Activism

By Will Falk

The August San Diego sun was hot. I spread a white blanket on the white concrete floor of a patio behind another mental health hospital, opened the book I asked my mother to bring me – Derrick Jensen’s Dreams, and tried to make myself as comfortable as possible.

The sun beat down and the sweat pooled on my palms. I closed the book not wanting my sweat to blur Jensen’s exploration of the role of the supernatural in resisting this culture of death. I couldn’t focus anyway. I couldn’t forget why I was there.

It was my second suicide attempt in four months.

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Thumbnail image for Chamber of Misery’s Million Dollar Campaign Halts San Diego’s Minimum Wage Increase

Chamber of Misery’s Million Dollar Campaign Halts San Diego’s Minimum Wage Increase

by Doug Porter 09.17.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders took to the airwaves yesterday to announce his group of paid canvassers had gathered 56,000 signatures (at up to $12 each) towards implementing their plan to keep the working poor in poverty for as long as possible.

There was no longer any pretense about a “small business coalition” fighting to save mom and pop stores from bankruptcy or simply getting this issue before the voters. This campaign was about the power of the wealthy to dictate policy to the city. This was and is about the sustaining an economic model that asks taxpayers to subsidize lower tiers of workers via government programs while corporations rack up record profits.

By the time financial reports reveal just how much money was spent by the Chamber and their corporate allies in the hospitality industry spent to gather signatures, the San Diego clerk’s office will have certified the results. I’ll venture a guess that they spent over a million bucks, probably not including the hotel rooms provided for vagabond canvassers from as far away as Michigan and Ohio.

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Thumbnail image for Inside an Outsider’s Campaign for Political Office – “We Walk, We Win”

Inside an Outsider’s Campaign for Political Office – “We Walk, We Win”

by Lori Saldaña 09.17.2014 Activism

By Lori Saldaña / Part Three of Four 

Yesterday Lori Saldaña discussed the path to her decision to mount a grass-roots campaign for the California Assembly in 2004. She really didn’t have a choice: all the political pros around thought she was too much of an outsider.

I decided to give up on getting support from Sacramento. My volunteers and I adopted the motto “We Walk, We Win.”

A typical weekday would be: make calls to raise money in the morning (rarely more than a few hundred dollars), walk precincts in the afternoon (rarely actually talking to voters at that time of day), then teach in the evening. On weekends I would walk 4 precincts: 2 on Saturday, 2 more on Sunday.

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Thumbnail image for Why We March : Stepping Forth for a Planet in Peril

Why We March : Stepping Forth for a Planet in Peril

by Source 09.17.2014 Activism

By Eddie Bautista, La Tonya Crisp-Sauray, and Bill McKibben / TomDispatch

On Sunday, September 21st, a huge crowd will march through the middle of Manhattan. It will almost certainly be the largest rally about climate change in human history, and one of the largest political protests in many years in New York. More than 1,000 groups are coordinating the march — environmental justice groups, faith groups, labor groups — which means there’s no one policy ask. Instead, it’s designed to serve as a loud and pointed reminder to our leaders, gathering that week at the United Nations to discuss global warming, that the next great movement of the planet’s citizens centers on our survival and their pathetic inaction.

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