Your Weed Killer Might Kill You

Mike Mozart/Flickr

By Jill Richardson / OtherWords

When I began writing about agriculture nearly a decade ago, I learned quickly that people generally believed that Roundup, the best-selling weed killer made by Monsanto, was relatively harmless.

Roundup breaks down quickly, everyone said — and into non-toxic components, they added. If homeowners can buy it at gardening stores, and cities around the United States use it to kill weeds in parks where children play, it must be benign, right?

Wrong. Within the past year, the story has changed.   [Read more…]

Congressional Values: “Zippidy do-da, zippidy day.”


By Doug Porter

Speaker of the House John Boehner was singing the classic Disney ditty as he walked in for a Friday morning press conference where he shocked just about everybody by announcing his resignation.

While Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is considered a probable successor to Boehner as Speaker, it’s worthwhile to look at the recently concluded 10th annual Value Voters Summit for some context about the changes taking place.

It was, after all, the crowd at the political conference for American social conservative activists that gave a standing ovation after hearing news of the Ohio congressman’s resignation.   [Read more…]

Taking the Leap: Imagine a New World

healthy planet

By Jim Miller

Last week the Pope came to America and delivered his groundbreaking message about the interrelated problems of climate change and economic inequality as well as the moral imperative to act to address them.  

We heard this message at the same time we learned that we have lost half the world’s marine animals since 1970 and that Exxon’s own research had confirmed the human role in climate change decades ago even as they were heavily funding efforts to block solutions.  During all of this, we were also reminded that every GOP candidate for President has absolutely nothing to offer in the face of this deadly threat.  

Clearly we need to change the game and do it quickly.  But how?     [Read more…]

Carlsbad Referendum Signatures Stun Caruso, City Council Pals

via Citizens for North County Facebook

Strawberry Field Owner’s Campaign Donations Revealed

By Richard Riehl

It must have been quite a shock for L.A.’s Caruso Affiliated executives to see the stack of signed petitions delivered to the Carlsbad city clerk’s office last Thursday. The 9,000 signers of the referendum petition are calling for a public vote on the developer’s plan for a lagoon-view shopping center, as promised in the title of the initiative, Measure to be Submitted Directly to the Voters.

When the Carlsbad city Council unanimously approved his plan on August 25, Caruso had already spent nearly $3 million on signature gatherers and a blizzard of glossy, full-color mailers to persuade 20,000 Carlsbadians that his plan to build a shopping mall was all about saving the Strawberry Fields.

The day after the council voted, a grassroots group, Citizens for North County, announced its plan to launch a referendum drive. Caruso had to redouble his marketing campaign. But this time his mailers, accompanied by daily prime time TV ads, featured headshot photos of and quotes from all five city Council members, as well as the owner of the Strawberry Fields. Each repeated the lie that signing the referendum would destroy the Strawberry Fields, despite the promise of Prop D to preserve them, passed by voters in 2006. The Caruso mailer included a detachable, postage-paid card to return to the city clerk for signers of the referendum to have their names withdrawn.   [Read more…]

The Movement for a Balanced Transportation Future In the San Diego Region

Photo by Roebot

By Monique López, policy advocate at Environmental Health Coalition

We all need to move, and how we move influences our quality of life. The time of our commute, the safety of our sidewalks, the quality of our air and the type of transportation options we have determine how well we live our lives. On October 9, 2015, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) will decide how to invest $204 billion into our region’s transportation infrastructure.

This decision is critical to our livelihood. That much investment will have a tremendous impact on the lives of everyone in our region, particularly the lives of those in San Diego’s urban core where freeways intersect neighborhoods and transit, biking and walking infrastructure is scarce.

How these funds are invested will determine whether our region takes a step toward becoming a forward-thinking, sustainable place or whether we remain driving in circles, stuck in the incessant traffic jam that is our car-first mentality.   [Read more…]

California’s Renewables Progress Commendable But Emission Of Global CO2 Still Exponential

Photo by Atmospheric Infrared Sounder

By Frank Thomas

California continues its remarkable legislative breakthroughs in going green under the SB 350 Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015. Legislation just passed sets two goals for 2030: 50% of state utility power from renewables and a 50% increase in energy efficiency of buildings. The provision for a 50% reduction in petroleum use for cars and trucks failed to pass as did the SB 32 bill that sets GHG emission targets for 2030 and 2050.

Still, the sweeping new mandates passed call for DOUBLING energy efficiency and using renewables for HALF of California’s electricity generation by 2030. It is uncertain how fast and to what extent transportation electrification will proceed California’s aim to step up its commitment to clean energy acknowledges the scientific reality we humans don’t have the luxury of lots of time to transition FAST to renewable energy and much improved energy efficiency.   [Read more…]

In Memoriam: Judy Oliveira

pink roses

By Staff

San Diego Free Press readers are familiar with long time contributor John Lawrence. He has written a Tuesday column ever since we launched in June of 2012. We were saddened to learn that John recently lost his life partner Judy Oliveira.

There will be a memorial service on Saturday, October 3 and John extends an invitation to the SDFP community to attend.   [Read more…]

Looking Back at the Week: Sept 20-26


This week’s edition of Looking Back at the Week features articles, commentaries, columns, toons, and other work by San Diego Free Press regulars, irregulars, columnists, at-large contributors, and sourced writers on: RICOing climate change deniers, Serra’s unworthy Sainthood, Coronado’s bike lane madness, the Interfaith Forum on Climate Justice, Bayard Rustin coming alive, Trump tapping racism, Esco’s continued history of hatred, Nordy’s-On-The-Lagoon, the Pope on climate change and helping the poor, Will Falk on suicide, on another Mission Valley development, Ayotzinapa a year later, refugee families, Bill Gibbs, and lots of other grassroots news & progressive views from San Diego’s friendly, neighborhood, all volunteer, community news site.
  [Read more…]

Flying Lessons: Centenarian Bill Gibbs’ Path from Logan Heights to Montgomery Field

Bill Gibbs

By Maria Garcia and Connie Zuniga

Bill Gibbs loved airplane flight so much that by the age of twenty-two he had developed barren scrub land in San Diego into his own airport and established a flying service there. Bill, who grew up in Logan Heights, recounted a remarkable story to us at his Mt. Soledad home. He spoke of family hardships during his youth, of hard work and how his passion for flying ultimately led him to develop what is now known as Montgomery Field Airport and a flying service that continues to operate today.

Bill’s story is also a remarkably long one– he will be 105 years old in October.   [Read more…]

What Happened To the Central American Refugee Crisis?

Photo by Tony Webster

By Vanessa Ceceña

Minors and families chose, and continue to choose, the dangerous and lengthy journey from Central American to the U.S.-Mexico border, simply because it’s a more appealing option than remaining in their communities of origin.

Many flee the proliferation of gang violence, the continued lack of economic opportunities. Others travel to reunify with family members whom they have not seen for years. Last year we witnessed the greatest surge of Central Americans arriving to our border seeking refuge. By the end of fiscal year 2015, a total of 26,685 unaccompanied minors had arrived at the Southwest U.S.-Mexico border.   [Read more…]

Haggen Stores Closing: Corporate Greed Costs Eight Thousand Jobs in California


By Doug Porter

Less than six months since taking over 146 Albertsons and Vons locations, the Haggen grocery chain has announced closings for all its locations in California, Arizona and Nevada. Twenty-five stores in San Diego county will be shuttered, just two days before Thanksgiving.  (More inside)

Pope Francis gave his long-awaited address to Congress yesterday. Local faith, community and labor activists took the opportunity to amplify the pontiff’s messages on the social justice and the environment, holding a press conference and a packed interfaith forum at St. Paul’s Cathedral. (More Inside)

There are many noteworthy events coming soon:

  • Point Loma Democrats will feature a presentation by Rabbi Laurie Coskey on the fight for $15 movement,
  • The Center on Policy Initiatives will hosting the Spotlight on Justice Awards, and
  • Organized labor is stepping up its game with the 2015 San Diego Conference on Labor and Community Solidarity.

(Details and more events inside)   [Read more…]

End of 50-Year Lease Allows Expansion Opportunity for San Diego Wetlands

Pied-billed Grebe creek is a fall migrant that arrived in August before its breeding plumage disappeared.

By Roy Little

There is a unique opportunity to expand the wetlands in the north-east corner of Mission Bay due to the ending of the 50-year lease for Campland and the legal agreement to have De Anza Cove vacated.

The San Diego Audubon Society is leading a planning and study effort to investigate the options of a wetlands-oriented expansion of the marsh. The existing wetland is shown in dark green at the right side, Campland and Rose Creek in the lower center and De Anza Cove to the left.

Until roughly a hundred years ago Rose Creek flowed through the marsh but was re-routed to make development easier. From a wetlands and water quality perspective the original flow of the Rose Creek is important in order to help purify storm water before it reaches the bay and provide nutrients to make the marsh more healthy.   [Read more…]

Climate Change Fixers’ Bag of Tricks


By Sarah “Steve” Mosko / Boogie Green

Halting global warming is the chief environmental challenge of our time.

While heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) is not the only greenhouse gas (GHG), it’s the most abundant and longest-lived in the atmosphere and contributes the most to global warming. In March, atmospheric CO2 content reached a new high of 400 parts per million, already past the 350 limit many scientists believe is a safe level above which we risk triggering irreversible consequences out of human control.

Second only to China as the largest CO2 emitter, it’s incumbent on the United States to lead the world in addressing global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that the window of time to avoid the worst effects is just a few decades. Yet the United States has not adopted even a nationwide strategy.   [Read more…]

Poverty and Pollution in San Diego, Bike Lane Madness in Coronado, Labor Troubles in Oceanside


By Doug Porter

America’s Finest City and its neighbors have got a lot of work to do.

The Center on Policy Initiatives has finished crunching the 2014 census data released last week, finding the number of San Diegans living in official poverty continues to increase. Seniors, children and minority populations are disproportionally impacted, with 41.5% of adults living in poverty reporting they had jobs in 2014.

The Climate Action Campaign and Circulate San Diego released a report on Wednesday critical of regional planning proposals, saying current efforts will undermine one of the main goals of the city’s climate action plan.

The icing on the cake for the day was a report from KPBS about a successful effort in Coronado to halt additional bike lanes based on citizen complaints about “paint stripe pollution.”   [Read more…]

After One Year Ayotzinapa Still On the Minds of Chicano Activists


Protests This Week in San Diego Mourn the Disappearance of 43 Mexican Students

By Elena Marques

Usually writing comes naturally to me, I love sharing the art and culture of our community of Barrio Logan and the words flow easily. However as I sit to write today, there is so much to say that I am at a loss for words.

It’s incredibly difficult to describe the emotions facing the one year anniversary of the mass kidnapping of the 43 students of Ayotzinapa. So much that I found myself putting off writing this because there just doesn’t seem to be sufficient words.

After a year of lucha, marches, protests, art shows, cultural events world wide, a nationwide tour of parents and students from Ayotzinapa creating a solid and intricate network of organizers across the nation, meeting and working with monumental people here in San Diego, across the nation, and across the border, including the spokespeople from the Escuela Normal, it weighs so heavy that we face a year with no answers, no justice.   [Read more…]

Lively Hoods


Why are we asking for jobs?

Most jobs are a lopsided trade agreement
where we relinquish the majority of our waking hours,
and our labor and talent
to make someone else
wealthy – wealthier!
in exchange for just enough money to survive.
Sometimes it’s not even enough
…used to be.

What we all really want
and need
is a means of living
that makes being alive meaningful.   [Read more…]

The Pope Heard Round the World


By Hutton Marshall /

The Pope is in town.

Not this town, unfortunately — he’s in Washington, D.C.  Pope Francis will give a historic address to Congress, where he is expected to speak on the escalating climate change crisis. This closely watched event will further solidify his stature as an acknowledged global leader of the climate change movement.  He caps the year in Paris with an address to world leaders at the UN-sponsored climate change summit.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis released his Encyclical Letter entitled “On Care for our Common Home.”  A passionate, comprehensive 40,000-word exhortation about caring for the planet, the Encyclical weaves modern climate science together with teachings from Catholicism and other religions, to build the case that caring for Earth’s climate is a moral obligation, a matter of justice for the poor and vulnerable. He thus breaks down the barriers between religion and science, and between environmental stewardship and social justice.

Pope Francis is by no means a rogue actor in using his papal authority to speak out on climate change. As the Encyclical notes, previous popes have spoken to the same issues.   [Read more…]

DeMaio-Reed Pension Measure Flops, For Now


By Doug Porter

Former City Councilman Carl DeMaio, along with former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, are headed back to the drawing board, following the failure of their latest pension “reform” ballot proposal to gain traction in California.

DeMaio and Reed were hoping to attract funding and political support for a pension reform initiative involving voter approval for each and every future plan throughout the state, negating what is now part of the collective bargaining process.

The California Republican Party failed to endorse the measure during its Anaheim convention last weekend. DeMaio and Reed cried foul last month after the State Attorney General’s office gave the proposed reforms ballot language not to their liking.   [Read more…]

The Citizens’ Watch of Mission Valley: “Manchester Project” Approved and Work Begins on Valley’s Largest (and Only) Park


To outsiders, Mission Valley at times feels like it’s in its own intense universe. Other times, it seems like San Diego’s own “black hole”- once you enter Mission Valley, you immediately get swept into its traffic craziness and grid-lock.

But what happens in Mission Valley deeply affects the rest of San Diego, especially the coastal areas directly to the west – like Ocean Beach, the Peninsula, Mission Beach, PB – but also other nearby communities such as Clairemont and Grantville. Because of this close proximity these other communities are impacted by both the increases in population and density in Mission Valley and – due to the lack of infrastructure in the valley – are also impacted by strains on their infrastructure.

Because of these – let’s call them – interconnections – , we have been running a series of articles about what is being developed and being planned in Mission Valley. With these articles, we’ve instituted a type of ‘Citizen Watch of Mission Valley’ – and here, we continue this irregular series on the continued development and destruction of Mission Valley. Here’s our latest: …   [Read more…]

Returning From Darkness: National Suicide Prevention Month


By Will Falk

I am an attempted suicide survivor. I tried to kill myself twice – once in April, 2013 and again in August, 2013. It has been over two years and I am still struggling to make sense of what I did. I just learned that September is National Suicide Prevention Month and for the last several days I have lost myself reading heart-breaking story after heart-breaking story of those affected by suicide – both attempted and successful.

The first time I tried to kill myself I was in Milwaukee, WI. I was a public defender in Kenosha, WI and was overcome with anxiety, guilt, and a spiritual kind of exhaustion when I came back to my empty apartment on a snowy, Wednesday night. Looking myself in the eye in the mirror, I realized I did not want to wake up the next morning. I put on my pajamas, brushed my teeth, and swallowed a whole bottle of sleeping pills.

I woke up in the emergency room – my throat coated in charcoal, the hair on my chest ripped from the monitors, my arms and hands pricked with needle marks where they missed my veins with the I.V. in the ambulance. A doctor asked me if I knew what happened. “I tried to kill myself,” I said. So, they involuntarily committed me to the psyche ward of St. Francis Hospital on the shores of Lake Michigan on the south side of Milwaukee.   [Read more…]

Junipero Serra’s Sainthood Dismays Many


By Doug Porter

Eighteenth century Franciscan missionary Junipero Serra will be canonized by Pope Francis this week. Hailed by the church as “the evangelizer of west in the United States” and reviled by descendants of the indigenous people living along the coast, Serra’s ascension to sainthood is a controversial move.

The expulsion of the Jesuit order from the Spanish colonies by King Carlos III brought Serra to Baja California. In 1769, the government, fearful of intrusions by Russian traders to the north, dispatched the Franciscans to what we now call California.  Serra founded nine missions, starting with the Mission San Diego de Alcalá and went about the business of ‘civilizing’ the local inhabitants.

Tales of the conquest of California by Spanish soldiers and Catholic missionaries by supporters of the church tend towards laying the blame for much of the ensuing slaughter on the military. Serra viewed the native population as children, children who needed the kind of brutal discipline meted out by the Franciscan order in order to find salvation.   [Read more…]

The Pope Makes the Case for Climate Change and Helping the Poor


By John Lawrence

The Pope is visiting the US this week to make the case that we should take climate change seriously and start doing something about it. He is really making the case that we should change our paradigm from one of individual self-fulfillment to one of “we’re all in this together,” from individual salvation to collective salvation of our earthly home. This has far-reaching implications. We need to be concerned about what’s happening to the earth as a whole, to humanity as a whole, and not just to our own family, town, state, country.

The Pope doesn’t mince words. Far from being the conservative head of a 2000 year old bureaucracy, he is using his moral megaphone and authority to speak out on the major problems of our day – global warming and capitalism – and the two are interrelated. You can’t have the entire sum of people on the planet involved with saving the planet from runaway climate change without getting involved with the collective plight of all those people in their daily lives. The Pope is putting the emphasis and focus on the plight of the poor, which is really what Jesus was all about. Finally.   [Read more…]

‘Totally Schizophrenic’: Fossil Fuel Subsidies in the Age of Climate Crisis

The OECD Inventory identified 800 separate spending programs and tax breaks used by governments in the 40 industrial or emerging economies that encourage oil, gas, and coal development. (Photo: Robert S. Donovan/cc/flickr)

<By Lauren McCauley / Common Dreams

One of the greatest contradictions of our time is that while world leaders profess concern over a rapidly warming planet, they continue to spend hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars subsidizing the fossil fuel industries that are driving climate change.

In fact, according to a new report released on Monday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)—a global forum on economic policy—the world’s richest nations spend roughly $160-200 billion each year supporting fossil fuel consumption and production.

“We’re totally schizophrenic,” said Angel Gurría, secretary-general of the Paris-based organization. “We’re trying to reduce emissions, and we subsidize the consumption of fossil fuels. These policies are not obsolete, they’re dangerous legacies of a bygone era when pollution was viewed as a tolerable side effect of economic growth. They should be erased from the books.”   [Read more…]