Thumbnail image for Just Another Day at the CIA

Just Another Day at the CIA

by Junco Canché 12.13.2014 Cartoons
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Thumbnail image for The Season for Mindless Consumerism

The Season for Mindless Consumerism

by Source 12.13.2014 Culture

This Christmas, put your money to better use than thoughtless gift-giving.

By  / OtherWords

‘Tis the season for mindless consumerism.

I love giving gifts when they’re from the heart. But I hate giving or receiving presents if they’re things nobody needs, given out of a sense of obligation.

Here’s a story that illustrates what I mean. Back in college, a friend of mine approached me and said, “I just want to give you a heads up, my new girlfriend bought you a gift.”

Uh-oh, I thought. I didn’t even get him a gift, let alone her. But without missing a beat, I replied, “Oh, that’s so sweet! Well, I got her something too.”

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Thumbnail image for Bankers, Pot Smokers Get Holiday Gifts in DC Budget Bill

Bankers, Pot Smokers Get Holiday Gifts in DC Budget Bill

by Doug Porter 12.12.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

The The Grinch was alive and well yesterday as the House of Representatives passed a compromise “CRomnibus.” The word is politi-speak for a combined continuing resolution (to keep funding the government) and omnibus (comprehensive budget) legislation.

A rebellion on both sides of the aisle nearly blocked passage of the bill. Conservatives wanted to make more of a statement about the President’s executive order on immigration. Progressives were steamed about language –actually written by lobbyists–rolling back financial industry reforms put into place following the 2009 economic collapse.

But there’s so much more to see here. In these days of Congressional gridlock and Obama derangement syndrome, a bi-partisan leadership group (House Republicans and Senate Democrats) deemed it necessary to drop a document bigger than War and Peace on Tuesday,  expecting a vote in less than 72 hours.

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Thumbnail image for Vacation Rentals In San Diego Under More Scrutiny

Vacation Rentals In San Diego Under More Scrutiny

by John P. Anderson 12.12.2014 Business

Vacation rental property owners targeted for missing tax payments

By John P. Anderson

I have a small cottage that I rent out to visitors via the vacation rental website Airbnb. The cottage is on the same property as my home and I did not think that vacation rental taxes in San Diego applied to my situation.

The taxes in San Diego for vacation rentals are the transient occupancy tax (TOT) and tourism marketing district (TMD) assessment. The rates for a property like mine from these taxes total 11.05% of gross rent – 10.5% TOT and .55% TMD, there is also a higher 1.45% TMD rate that applies to lodging businesses with 30 or more units.

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Thumbnail image for Geo-Poetic Spaces: When the Joshua Trees are Gone

Geo-Poetic Spaces: When the Joshua Trees are Gone

by Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes 12.12.2014 Books & Poetry

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

How will we find our way
out of desert
when the Joshua Trees are gone?

No iconoclastic arms
reaching out of mountain passes no white flower
guiding Yucca Moths
to broken promise of land …

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Thumbnail image for Readers Write:  Conflict and Order, Society’s Pressure Cooker

Readers Write: Conflict and Order, Society’s Pressure Cooker

by At Large 12.12.2014 Activism

By Daniel J. Smiechowski

The recent social unrest in a place called America is as old as time itself. Racial tensions in Ferguson, Missouri on the heels of the Michael Brown shooting by a white police officer spilled onto the streets of San Diego, the results of a tea pot left unattended.

Many Clairemont folks missed the point in railing against the protesters. A small group of UCSD Students who chose to block the north bound lanes of Interstate 5 were signaled out as being highly disruptive. Geeze, is that not the point? Are we not blinded in not seeing the forest for the trees?

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Thumbnail image for ‘Just Call Me Todd’ Gloria Gets the Boot as City Council President

‘Just Call Me Todd’ Gloria Gets the Boot as City Council President

by Doug Porter 12.11.2014 Business

By Doug Porter

Depending on who you talk to, the City Council’s 7-2 vote yesterday to elect District One’s Democrat Sherri Lightner as President over Todd Gloria was either a victory for evil reactionaries or the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

Looking at the two Councilpersons voting records prior to 2014, there doesn’t seem to be much of an ideological difference. The San Diego Labor Council declined to endorse both Gloria (rated by them at 60%) and Lightner (54%) in the 2012 election. So what’s the big deal?

Today we’ll take a look at the debate this decision by the council has spawned and my best guess as to what the consequences will be.

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Thumbnail image for Readers Write: The High Cost of Torture

Readers Write: The High Cost of Torture

by At Large 12.11.2014 Government

By Richard Blankenburg/Quixotic Tales

Today, I am reading about the United States of America sadistically torturing their prisoners of war, during the Afghan and Iraqi Wars. These wars began without a Declaration of War by Congress during the administration of President George W. Bush 2001-2009.

These are two wars that as a patriotic American citizen I refused to support because neither sovereign nation, Afghanistan nor Iraq, was responsible for the terrorist bin Laden’s heinous attack on America, nor did either sovereign nation represent a threat to the United States of America and also because bin Laden was a citizen of Saudi Arabia.

Personally, I had two grandsons serving in combat in Afghanistan; I am proud of their service to their nation, despite my opposition to these wars.

That said, I was intrigued by this article regarding the American sadistic torture of prisoners of war since 2001, in violation of International Law that was approved as treaty by the U.S. Government and by the U.S. Congress.

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Thumbnail image for Ham Sandwich Not Indicted

Ham Sandwich Not Indicted

by Eric J. Garcia 12.11.2014 Cartoons
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Thumbnail image for 5th Annual Love Thy Neighbor Toy Drive Takes Place This Weekend

5th Annual Love Thy Neighbor Toy Drive Takes Place This Weekend

by Brent E. Beltrán 12.11.2014 Arts

 By Brent E. Beltrán

This weekend the 5th annual Love Thy Neighbor Clothing & Toy Drive takes place at the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park. For the past five years Ruben Torres and some of his close friends have organized this event to bring a little joy during the Christmas season to youths in San Diego and Tijuana.

South Bay native Ruben Torres continues to give back to the community he loves. He says, “God gives us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with. I’m honored to see the community come together to give and to be a blessing to the needy.”

Toys will be collected for the children of the YWCA as well as families of The Training Center in Spring Valley.

This year’s main event takes place on Sunday, December 14 from 12-8pm and is hosted by radio DJ Beto Perez of 95.7 KISS FM and features an art show curated by Ruben Torres and Wendy Wolf.

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Thumbnail image for State Department Selected Chevron as Finalist for “Corporate Excellence” Award

State Department Selected Chevron as Finalist for “Corporate Excellence” Award

by Source 12.11.2014 Activism

By Dan Bacher

It’s hard to believe, but the Obama administration recently selected Chevron, the San Ramon-based corporate giant known for environmental destruction and the violation of human rights throughout the world, as a finalist for its “corporate excellence” award!

According to a State Department press release, “The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs has announced the selection of nine finalists for the Secretary of State’s prestigious 2014 Award for Corporate Excellence (ACE).”

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Thumbnail image for SDSU Students Fight Fraternity Rape Culture

SDSU Students Fight Fraternity Rape Culture

by Doug Porter 12.10.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Students at San Diego State University participated in a march and sit-in on Tuesday, demanding the school take action in response to sexual assaults and harassment. The protest was triggered by reports of people associated with fraternity houses yelling  obscenities, waving dildos and throwing eggs at a Nov. 21st  anti-rape march called Take Back the Night.

Their demands included an open forum with  SDSU President Elliot Hirshman during the spring semester, along with the resignations of fraternity members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon and Delta Sigma Phi from various posts on the campus. The protesters cited the need for a planned Women’s Resource Center to serve as a rape crisis center and for CSU and UC colleges to release all statistical data on the investigation, adjudication and sanction of cases involving sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking.

As is the case with police-linked killings around the country, the protests are the local manifestation of a much larger problem, and today I’ll try to give this story some context.

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Thumbnail image for What a Difference a Few Decades Make : An Interview with Kevin Beiser

What a Difference a Few Decades Make : An Interview with Kevin Beiser

by Judi Curry 12.10.2014 Education

By Judi Curry

As a public school teacher beginning my career in the early sixties, I have seen the pendulum swing many ways in the past fifty years. (Fifty Years! My God!) Perhaps one of the biggest swings was from the professional organizations of the California Teachers Association (CTA) and the National Education Association (NEA) to the American Federation of Teachers ( AFT) and other labor organizations.

As a member of “management” later in my career, I have been disillusioned with professionals (educators) belonging to labor organizations, because I have always felt that the “product” – read children – we deal with cannot be “recalled” to put in a missing part. We get one time to do it correctly, and God help us all if we are not successful.

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Thumbnail image for Who is Mike McCoy?

Who is Mike McCoy?

by At Large 12.10.2014 Activism

By bzzaragoza / South Bay Compass

Eye on the Locals: In the micro-world of our communities, many people dedicate their lives to bettering our neighborhoods and end up bettering the world. Mike McCoy of Imperial Beach is heralded as the individual who helped save the largest coastal wetland in Southern California. Here is his story:

Mike McCoy grew up in Boulder, Colorado and came to San Diego in 1970, the year he graduated veterinarian school and got an internship at the San Diego Zoo. While going to vet school, he worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and it qualified him to land that particular internship. It was the first long extended internship they offered at the zoo.

It was here that he met his wife, Patricia McCoy, an Englishwoman from London who fled to the countryside during the WWII bombings. She eventually became a city council member in Imperial Beach and they both were avid environmental activists.

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Thumbnail image for Republican Megadonors Seek to ‘Clear the Field’ for a Single Preferred Candidate

Republican Megadonors Seek to ‘Clear the Field’ for a Single Preferred Candidate

by Source 12.10.2014 Economy

By Hunter / Daily Kos

This makes perfect sense. Republican megadonors dominate what’s left of “establishment” Republicanism and damn it, they’re tired of writing checks that they shouldn’t have to write.

Dozens of the Republican Party’s leading presidential donors and fund-raisers have begun privately discussing how to clear the field for a single establishment candidate to carry the party’s banner in 2016, fearing that a prolonged primary would bolster Hillary Rodham Clinton, the likely Democratic candidate.

The conversations, described in interviews with a variety of the Republican Party’s most sought-after donors, are centered on the three potential candidates who have the largest existing base of major contributors and overlapping ties to the top tier of those who are uncommitted: Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and Mitt Romney.

If more than one of those “establishment” candidates runs, wealthy Republicans will have to choose which of them to support, meaning various wealthy Republicans will pick different sides, and then those candidates will be forced to battle it out in the primaries with gobs of millionaire cash.

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Thumbnail image for Obama’s Plan for Better Policing: The Good, the Bad, and the Body Cameras

Obama’s Plan for Better Policing: The Good, the Bad, and the Body Cameras

by Source 12.10.2014 Courts, Justice

By Nadia Kayyali / Electronic Frontier Foundation Deep Links Blog

You may be shocked to hear that EFF doesn’t think technology is a solution to every problem. That includes problems with the police and with public safety. And, as we’ve pointed out when it comes to drones and other types of local surveillance, we think adoption of new technology requires communities to understand and discuss the pros and cons.

That’s why we think President Obama’s announcement last week about federal assistance to local law enforcement was a little lackluster.

The President made it clear that he plans to leave largely untouched the controversial programs that funnel military equipment and surveillance technology to communities like Ferguson, and fund programs like fusion centers.

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Thumbnail image for Torture Tuesday: A Study in Manufacturing Consent

Torture Tuesday: A Study in Manufacturing Consent

by Doug Porter 12.09.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

If you are unfortunate enough to be aware of the news today, you’ll be a witness to our country’s greatest exercise in what Walter Lippmann and subsequently Noam Chomsky called ‘manufactured consent.”

I’m referring to the release of the heavily redacted summary of the the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the use of torture. By the end of the day, via the conclusions of the chattering class, the American public will know three things:

  • US policy following the 2001 Al Qaeda attacks included broadly worded permissions to engage in torture.
  • There is controversy over whether torture was effective.
  • Oversight of the intelligence apparatus in the government is a danger to our national security.
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Thumbnail image for The Silliness of the Council President Selection Drama

The Silliness of the Council President Selection Drama

by Norma Damashek 12.09.2014 Government

By Norma Damashek

San Diego can be such a silly city. For proof, consider the oddly loopy hubbub that surrounds this year’s annual City Council ritual of choosing a council president.

People (many of whom should know better) have been turning themselves inside out over the roaring-hot question: will Todd Gloria be awarded a third term as council president or will another council member (presumably Sherri Lightner) get a turn to be the council’s presiding officer?

In case you’ve forgotten, ever since San Diego switched over to a “strong mayor” form of government (it’s been almost a decade) council members have selected one of their own to run council meetings and set the council agenda. First there was Scott Peters (2005-’06-‘07), then Ben Hueso (’08-’09), then Tony Young (’10- ’11), and then Todd Gloria (’12-’14).

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Thumbnail image for Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 2

Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe – Part 2

by John Lawrence 12.09.2014 Business

By Frank Thomas and John Lawrence / Part 1 can be found here

We are lucky to have advanced to a stage that scientists can determine the relationship between the rate of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions into the atmosphere, the absolute value in tons of CO2 already in and projected to be in the atmosphere, the rate of increase of CO2 emissions and the relationship between amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and the Earth’s surface temperatures.

If we didn’t have this science, we might go right ahead destroying the earth’s environment to the point of extinction of human life without even understanding what was happening to us.

As it is, even though scientists have spelled it out for us, many people are not convinced the threat from global warming is even real or, if it is, that moderate methods that don’t disrupt current economic relationships will be sufficient to keep the problem at bay.

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Thumbnail image for A Couple of Heartless Transactions at Union Bank

A Couple of Heartless Transactions at Union Bank

by Bob Dorn 12.09.2014 Business

By Bob Dorn

So, this 71-year-old with the income of a teenager walks into an uptown branch of Union Bank. He had just $28.75 in his checking account following his open heart surgery two weeks before on Nov. 17.

This was his first chance to get to the bank to take up some issues.One reason he had so little money had nothing to do with the bank’s operations. He’d had an angiogram and an EKG earlier in the month – stuff the medical world must do before doctors can open everything up to repair floppy heart valves – and the upfront co-pays were about $160 more than he’d anticipated. Those and smaller amounts for medicine accounted for the couple of hundred he hadn’t factored into demands on the checking account.

Still, he had his “overdraft protection savings account” with a balance of $600 available to cover any shortfall in his checking account. So he wasn’t worried when his wife took him to the hospital for the surgery Nov. 17. The money would be automatically transferred from the savings account to the checking to cover the unanticipated advance medical fees.

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Thumbnail image for Barbara Boxer Likely to Step Down from US Senate

Barbara Boxer Likely to Step Down from US Senate

by Doug Porter 12.08.2014 Activism

By Doug Porter

Washington DC’s Politico.com has posted a story strongly suggesting California Senator Barbara Boxer is on her way out the door in 2016.

It’s been more than two decades since California’s sitting Senators were first elected and a recent USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll indicates voters are ready for a change. A majority of state voters (59%) told pollsters they believed it was time for new blood, even though both incumbents remain popular and would likely win re-election if they sought it..

The Politico story focuses on the back-room maneuvering underway among candidates who may seek Senator Boxer’s seat in 2016. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, billionaire hedge-fund manager and environmentalist Tom Steyer, Attorney General Kamala Harris and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom are all mentioned as possible candidates.

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Thumbnail image for Dystopia Now: “Anticipatory Grief” or “Real Grounds for Hope”?

Dystopia Now: “Anticipatory Grief” or “Real Grounds for Hope”?

by Jim Miller 12.08.2014 Activism

By Jim Miller

Just when you think you are living in a dystopian science fiction novel, the world keeps upping the ante. It’s not just scenes of burning cars and storefronts in Ferguson on TV evoking the mood either. There are some even darker clouds on the horizon that many of us just don’t want to acknowledge, no less come to terms with in a thoroughgoing and serious fashion.

Last week, as the country went through yet another round of dismay, rage, and painful racial self-examination in the wake of a New York Grand Jury’s failure to bring any charges against a policeman for the death by chokehold of Eric Garner, a pair of other unsettling stories emerged on the margins of the American media.

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Thumbnail image for People Rise Up: The Streets Are Alive with the Sound of Movement

People Rise Up: The Streets Are Alive with the Sound of Movement

by Doug Porter 12.08.2014 Activism

By Randall Amster / Common Dreams

In an era rife with pop-culture trivialities juxtaposed with escalating calamities, we find ourselves at a remarkable moment that poses profound existential questions for the soul of the nation.

Systems that have claimed the mantle of “justice” (while practicing little of it) are being exposed to an unprecedented level of scrutiny, demonstrating in stark terms that tragic episodes from Ferguson to New York are not exceptional but instead constitute the baseline norm of official behavior.

The message is not that this system is broken, but rather that it is working exactly the way it was designed. The primary difference now is that people are paying attention.

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Thumbnail image for Judy Finally Goes To the Dentist In Tijuana

Judy Finally Goes To the Dentist In Tijuana

by John Lawrence 12.08.2014 Culture

By John Lawrence

Judy hadn’t seen a dentist in some time and she needed to go. I tried to persuade her to go to my dentist, Dr. Miguel Garcia in Tijuana, but she had a fear of crossing the border. I had been going to Dr Garcia for 10 years or more, and I told her she had nothing to fear.

Everybody in Dr Garcia’s office spoke perfect English. They had the latest, most modern equipment and the best training. My friend Olof who had been going to Dr Garcia for years on my recommendation also tried to persuade Judy that there was nothing to be afraid of. She would be in good hands.

Finally, Judy agreed to go. I had assured her I knew the way by heart, and we could drive right into the building to park. Then it was just a short walk to the elevator. We’d be on the fourth floor and in the Baja Oral Center in no time.

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Thumbnail image for Looking Back at the Week: Nov 30-Dec 6

Looking Back at the Week: Nov 30-Dec 6

by Brent E. Beltrán 12.07.2014 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, and at-large contributors on the nationwide and local protests against the police killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson and NYC, the fast food strikes, Tortilla’s Army, the slow conversion to renewable energy, Canvass for a Cause, the journey of two Guatemalan refugee children, capturing light on the face, plus a handful of OB news and lots of other great articles and editorial cartoons.

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