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 Geo-Poetic Spaces: Knots

Geo-Poetic Spaces: Knots

by Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes 03.20.2015 Books & Poetry

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

Show me a tree
that does not
bear signs of loss

Branches broken
by splintering rainstorms
still carried in trunks

Wounds healed
but not
forgotten

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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 Change is in the Air at the San Diego Latino Film Festival 2015

Change is in the Air at the San Diego Latino Film Festival 2015

by At Large 03.19.2015 Culture

By Mukul Khurana

It seems hard to believe that the San Diego Latino Film Festival has been around for 22 years, but it’s true! But with full adult status, come some growing changes. In the background since last year, a transition has been achieved from the Hazard Center to the Fashion Valley Center. But those are not the only changes to be felt.

Phillip (Phil) Lorenzo has returned to SDLFF as Exhibition Director after a seven year absence during which he worked with SDAFF. One other thing that was different this year—it didn’t rain to mark the beginning of the festival. Instead, we were in the throes of a heat wave courtesy of our Santa Ana winds (in keeping with climate change predictions).

The people who braved the heat were rewarded by the usual excellent shorts on the first day in the form of DOCU-SHORTS. The unusual mix included a short about the decline of marriage and partnership over time, a maternity home for pregnant women in Cuba, and a photographer’s story (a man in Castro’s rebel army), among others.

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Thumbnail image for Chicago Mayor Rahm’s Chair

Chicago Mayor Rahm’s Chair

by Eric J. Garcia 03.19.2015 Cartoons
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Thumbnail image for What It’s Like to Own and Run a Flourishing Marijuana Dispensary

What It’s Like to Own and Run a Flourishing Marijuana Dispensary

by Source 03.19.2015 Business

Northern California owner: It’s “quite different from the view from the outside looking in.”

By David McCullick / Alternet

The view I have from behind the counter of my Medical Marijuana (MMJ) dispensary—the Sonoma Patient Group in Santa Rosa, California–is quite different from the view from the outside looking in. Many law enforcement types, city and county elders, and much of the general public have a very pre-conceived notion of what it is we do, how we do it and who we do it for.

If you are not privy to what actually happens in a dispensary, you might be inclined to believe what you read and hear from those that do not visit them, use MMJ at all or have their own agenda (i.e., draconian drug laws and incarceration quotas). You may hear talk of how the MMJ laws are just a front so that people can smoke their weed, or that the movement is a distraction or just a way to full legalization of recreational marijuana. You might believe it when you are told that only young healthy people under 25 visit the dispensaries or that we are a danger to your kids.

The truth of the matter is that MMJ works for most people that try it on some level or another depending on what you use it for, how you use it and how often you use it, keeping in mind that we are all different. What works for you might be different than what works for me. Most people that use MMJ are legitimate patients who want the medical benefits.

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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 San Diego Sues Monsanto for Polluting Bay With Banned Carcinogenic Chemicals

San Diego Sues Monsanto for Polluting Bay With Banned Carcinogenic Chemicals

by Source 03.18.2015 Business

Lawsuit says toxins manufactured by agrochemical giant ‘have been found in Bay sediments and water and have been identified in tissues of fish, lobsters, and other marine life’

By Sarah Lazarre / Common Dreams

San Diego authorities filed a lawsuit on Monday (March 16) against the agrochemical giant Monsanto, accusing the corporation of polluting the city’s bay with carcinogenic chemicals that are so dangerous to human health they were banned in the U.S. more than 30 years ago.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court by City of San Diego and San Diego Unified Port District and focuses on Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs). “PCBs manufactured by Monsanto have been found in bay sediments and water and have been identified in tissues of fish, lobsters, and other marine life in the Bay,” the complaint reads.

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Thumbnail image for Group Seeks to Replace Jackson With a Woman on the $20 for 100th Birthday of the 19th Amendment

Group Seeks to Replace Jackson With a Woman on the $20 for 100th Birthday of the 19th Amendment

by Source 03.18.2015 Culture

By Meteor Blades / Daily Kos

Matt Iglesias at Vox first discussed what a good idea it would be to have a woman on the $20 bill last July. But it was a more recent Vox story by Libby Nelson that seems to have kicked off a surge in media attention given to the idea that is being promoted by the organization Women on 20s. The group is asking people to vote their choices from a roster of 15 women.

The list—already winnowed from 30 to 15—will be further culled through three rounds of voting. The group hopes to get 100,000 votes because that’s how many names it takes at the White House petition site to get an official response. The candidates: Alice Paul, Clara Barton, Frances Perkins, Susan B. Anthony, Rachel Carson, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, Barbara Jordan, Margaret Sanger, Patsy Mink, Harriet Tubman and Eleanor Roosevelt.

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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 Civic San Diego and Its Stakeholders

Civic San Diego and Its Stakeholders

by Anna Daniels 03.17.2015 Activism

By Anna Daniels

Who are Civic San Diego’s stakeholders? Who are the people and institutions who have the most to benefit from their success? And who has the most to lose if they are not successful? The answer depends upon whom you are talking to—CivicSD and its surrogates; City of San Diego elected representatives; or community residents and resident based organizations.

Community residents and community based organizations from areas of the city which have been designated by CivicSD as their immediate focus for economic revitalization have been particularly vocal on this matter, but they are hardly the only ones.

Community voices have been articulating the need for an enforceable city policy regarding the kinds of community benefits that must be generated in tandem with CivicSD’s economic development projects, as well as additional City of San Diego oversight of development activities. They have called for more transparency and accountability in CivicSD’s operation.

In short, those communities which are already fully aware of the economic and social problems that they face, are asking to be recognized as stakeholders and to be given the participatory power to shape the development process.

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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 Watching Dreams of ‘Home’ Come True

Watching Dreams of ‘Home’ Come True

by Ernie McCray 03.16.2015 Culture

By Ernie McCray

I’ve attended many a wedding in my life, even conducting a few in rhythm and rhyme that got people to say “Hey, that was pretty nice.”

But I have never witnessed a marriage that was as special as the one I showed up for on the last day of this past February.

It was beyond nice. It was magical. Sweet. Soulful. Teary. Poignant. Smiley. Earthy. Inspiring. Cosmic. Fun. Invigorating. Both lighthearted and sincere. A journey “home,” proceeded over by the groom’s brother-in-law.

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Thumbnail image for being Sweeney tonight

being Sweeney tonight

by Will Falk 03.16.2015 Books & Poetry

By Will Falk

a warm wind
blended with whiskey
softens the distinction
between tonight
the sky
and my confusion

those shadows aren’t real
shadows, or
the shades of crows
because there are no crows
in crow canyon anymore
only darkness dripping

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Thumbnail image for Looking Back at the Week: March 8-14

Looking Back at the Week: March 8-14

by Brent E. Beltrán 03.15.2015 Looking Back at the Week

Compiled by Brent E. Beltrán

This week’s edition of Looking Back at the Week features articles by San Diego Free Press and OB Rag regulars, irregulars, columnists, at-large contributors and sourced writers on the GOP’s march to madness, SD spring activism, Bonnie’s Law, Pi Day, corporate Dems going after progressive Dems, oversight of Civic SD needed, frat boys toon, barrio bakeoff, searching for local progressive history, Freep Maria Garcia honored, Caravan 43, and a half dozen pieces for our hippy friends in OB.

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Thumbnail image for The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Tulie Trejo’s Blue Ribbon Life

The History of Neighborhood House in Logan Heights: Tulie Trejo’s Blue Ribbon Life

by Maria E. Garcia 03.14.2015 Editor's Picks

From learning to bake at Neighborhood House to winning the Pillsbury Bakeoff

By Maria E Garcia

It was Cinco de Mayo, 1941. Obdulia “Tulie” Trejo had left the turmoil of her parents’ house with its eleven children and the harsh restrictions her parents imposed upon her. She was living at the time with her girlfriend Dolores and her mother. On that particular Cinco de Mayo, Tulie was seventeen years old and that is the day that she met Joe Trejo, a young man from Carlsbad, at the waterfront near the foot of Broadway.

Joe had a car and taught her to drive. The car was a 1941 maroon stick shift Chevy. The car took them to Mission Beach, which she refers to as “our playground.” They would also drive to Balboa Park. Another place they really loved was Oscar’s on Broadway. At this time her mom was working at the cannery and unable to supervise what Tulie was doing. This gave her a lot of freedom.

Joe wanted to marry Tulie right away but with her eye on her high school diploma she said “no.”

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