Thumbnail image for “Taxifornia” Dreaming: Who Really Pays in California?

“Taxifornia” Dreaming: Who Really Pays in California?

by Jim Miller 04.14.2014 Columns

By Jim Miller

Tomorrow is tax day, and we are likely to hear the usual histrionics from the pity the millionaire crowd about how the draconian taxes on the affluent and businesses in “Taxifornia” are killing growth and jobs and driving folks out of the state. There is only one problem with this—it’s not true. Indeed, far from the socialist hamlet that the anti-tax zealots like to portray us as, California’s tax system is still more regressive than progressive.

This is documented in the California Budget Project’s (CBP) Annual report “Who Pays Taxes in California?” that shows that, “Contrary to the oft-repeated claim that high-income Californians pay an unfair amount of taxes, it is actually California’s low-income households who pay the largest share of their incomes in state and local taxes.”

Consequently, the CBP argues that “Given widening income inequality over the last generation, and the ongoing economic challenges facing Californians in the aftermath of the Great Recession, policymakers could take specific steps to reduce the regressive nature of California’s system of state and local taxes and to promote economic security for low-income families.”

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Thumbnail image for Barrio Logan Commemorates Mexican Revolutionary Leader and Defends Right to a Clean and Healthy Neighborhood

Barrio Logan Commemorates Mexican Revolutionary Leader and Defends Right to a Clean and Healthy Neighborhood

by Brent E. Beltrán 04.13.2014 Activism

Hundreds rally and march in opposition to maritime industry pollution

By Brent E. Beltrán

The Mexican community of San Diego and their supporters came together on Saturday in Barrio Logan’s Chicano Park to commemorate the 95th anniversary of the assassination of Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata and to rally and march in opposition to maritime industry’s continued poisoning of this proud and defiant neighborhood.

The 10th annual Zapata March was organized by Mexican and Chicano activist groups Unión del Barrio, M.E.Ch.A. and Colectivo Zapatista with support from other radical organizations. The action was organized under the theme of “The Solution to Pollution is Revolution.”

Organizers “felt it was important to draw attention to the racist attempt by powerful ship building companies to overturn the Barrio Logan Community Plan and keep polluting our neighborhoods as they have done for decades.”

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Thumbnail image for Barrio Logan: Arts and Culture

Barrio Logan: Arts and Culture

by Brent E. Beltrán 04.13.2014 Arts

Film by Media Arts Center’s Teen Producers Project
Intro by Brent E. Beltrán

With the ballot battle looming over the future of Barrio Logan, due to Maritime Industry’s refusal to accept the Barrio Logan Community Plan update, I feel it is necessary to give voters of the city of San Diego a little history of Barrio Logan and highlight the issues residents face. In June, eligible San Diego voters will go to the polls to vote on whether to approve the community plan or reject it.

Over the next few weeks I will post a video on Sundays that highlights the community of Barrio Logan and the beauty within San Diego’s most historic barrio.

This week’s video, Barrio Logan: Arts and Culture, is about how arts and culture are an integral part of Barrio Logan’s identity.

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Thumbnail image for The Drug War Fuels Mass Deportation of Nonviolent Migrants

The Drug War Fuels Mass Deportation of Nonviolent Migrants

by Source 04.13.2014 Government

250,000 people have been deported for drug offenses in the last 6 years.

By Daniel Robelo / AlterNet

The drug war has increasingly become a war against migrant communities. It fuels racial profiling, border militarization, violence against immigrants, intrusive government surveillance and, especially, widespread detentions and deportations. 

Media and politicians have tried to convince us that everyone who gets deported is a violent criminal, a terrorist or a drug kingpin. But a newly released, first-of-its-kind report shatters that notion, showing instead that the majority (some two-thirds) of those deported last year were guilty of minor, nonviolent offenses – including thousands deported for nothing more than possessing small quantities of drugs, typically marijuana.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day:  “Guantanamo” by Shadab Zeest Hashmi

Poem of the Day: “Guantanamo” by Shadab Zeest Hashmi

by Source 04.13.2014 Books & Poetry

By Shadab Zeest Hashmi/ UniVerse

A guard forces you to urinate on yourself
Another barks out louder than his dog
the names of your sisters
who live in the delicate nest
of a ruby-throated hummingbird
Each will be a skeleton he says

Was there someone who gave you
seven almonds for memory,
a teaspoon of honey every morning?

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Thumbnail image for How Hatred of Islam Creates Strange Bedfellows of Christians and Atheists

How Hatred of Islam Creates Strange Bedfellows of Christians and Atheists

by Source 04.12.2014 Politics

Atheists shouldn’t be singing from the same song sheet as the Christian Right.

By CJ Werleman / Alternet

Politics is a funny game, for wedge issues often make for strange bedfellows. NSA overreach unites the far left with the far right. Libertarianism unites neo-confederates with black evangelicals. If you’re looking for an even stranger ideological matrimony, try this one on for size: mention the Middle East peace talks, and voila, you have atheists singing from the same song sheet as the Christian Right.

Despite the Palestinians making a sudden about turn to the United Nations, who can blame them, Secretary of State John Kerry is to be applauded for his efforts to bring the peace process back into focus. Not only has he dragged both sides to the negotiating table, he has also attained crucial concessions from both the Palestinians and the Israelis. But any further progress is made difficult while Americans remain in the dark about what is really taking place in the Occupied Territories. The most ignorant include the corporate-owned media, the Christian Right and movement atheism. This ignorance results in a lack of political pressure on the White House, Republican or Democrat, to seek a much-needed two-state solution.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day: “Chiaroscuro” by Karen Kenyon

Poem of the Day: “Chiaroscuro” by Karen Kenyon

by Source 04.12.2014 Books & Poetry

The spaces inside that poetry fills

By Karen Kenyon

Why I Write

My mother was a pianist, so I grew up surrounded by music and lyrics. In addition,my blind grandfather wrote poems all the time, so writing poetry and being creative seemed a natural thing to do.

During college years I was an Art Major at UNM in Albuquerque (until I married after 3 years). But it was really after something difficult happened that poetry really entered my life full force.

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Thumbnail image for An Update on Pumbaa the Shar Pei’s Recovery:  Still Not Out of the Woods

An Update on Pumbaa the Shar Pei’s Recovery: Still Not Out of the Woods

by Judi Curry 04.12.2014 Culture

By Judi Curry

Editor’s Note: Last month Judi Curry wrote about Pumbaa the Shar Pei, who is receiving canine rehab with Judi’s dog Buddy.

Daisy took Pumbaa to the ortho-vet in Sorrento Valley. He wants to run some more tests on the doggie, but it is nice to know that he has started eating again, and is again being exercised in the pool. So far the tests have totaled about $1000 but Daisy does not know how much more will be needed.

But he looks much better; a little more playful, and in the pool can move his legs well. But, alas, on land, he still cannot put any weight on his back legs.

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Thumbnail image for OSHA Wins Case Against SeaWorld Involving Death of Orca Trainer

OSHA Wins Case Against SeaWorld Involving Death of Orca Trainer

by Source 04.12.2014 Activism

From OH&S / Apr 11, 2014 Re-posted from OBRag

OSHA has won the appellate case involving its enforcement case against SeaWorld of Florida LLC following the death of killer whale trainer Dawn Brancheau on Feb. 24, 2010. A 2-1 decision issued April 11 by a panel of three judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that SeaWorld “recognized its precautions were inadequate to prevent serious bodily harm or even death to its trainers and that the residual hazard was preventable.”

“The remedy imposed for SeaWorld’s violations does not change the essential nature of its business,” the majority opinion written by Judge Judith W. Rogers states. “There will still be human interactions and performances with killer whales; the remedy will simply require that they continue with increased safety measures.”

This is a high-profile case that was argued Nov. 12, 2013, at the Georgetown University Law Center, with SeaWorld’s legal team including Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP’s Eugene Scalia, son of U.S. Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia.

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Thumbnail image for Carl DeMaio’s À la Carte Campaign

Carl DeMaio’s À la Carte Campaign

by Source 04.11.2014 Editor's Picks

By Lucas O’Connor

Carl DeMaio is running for Congress. You may have heard. And even though he’s had the misfortune of writing down and voting on major issues for more than a decade, so far his campaign is predicated on hoping that nobody notices in spite of article after article after article after article chronicling his career.

The attempts to fake a newfound moderation on social issues have been well chronicled, but if you don’t believe him, don’t ask him… He refuses to talk about civil rights issues even as the Republican leadership Carl’s running to empower continues going along with Tea Party extremists and holding votes on exactly those issues. It’s not clear if anyone’s really sat down yet and explained to Carl that you can’t actually be an à la carte Congressman, but he seems committed to trying anyhow.

But just for today, let’s give him a break on all the issues that are apparently beneath him. Instead, let’s jump in the wayback machine, back to when Carl DeMaio was publicly telling us that he would “owe” the people who pay for his campaigns. He voted several times to provide tax dollars to his donors, and then voted to give the mayor’s office near impunity to distribute government contracts that his donors were competing for.

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Thumbnail image for Sex Crimes Cover Up Alleged: Unbelievably Gross Acts On Mentally Ill Woman Photographed by SDPD Officer

Sex Crimes Cover Up Alleged: Unbelievably Gross Acts On Mentally Ill Woman Photographed by SDPD Officer

by Doug Porter 04.11.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Higher ups in the San Diego Police Department may have been more concerned about negative publicity than getting at the facts about accusations alleging sexual misconduct as far back as 1997 by former police officer Anthony Arevalos from according to federal court transcripts obtained by 10News.

A confidential meeting between former chief William Lansdowne and Executive Chief David Ramirez, according to attorney Joe Dicks in publicly released transcripts of oral arguments that reference still-sealed depositions, was held “to try and figure out not if it really happened, not if there are any witnesses left, only to take documentation that is going to come around and bite them in the bottom.”

I looked around the local media this morning. Aside from a mention the VOSD Morning Report, the local media seems to treating this as a non-story.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day: “They Feed They Lion” by Philip Levine

Poem of the Day: “They Feed They Lion” by Philip Levine

by Anna Daniels 04.11.2014 Books & Poetry

The Poet as Witness

By Anna Daniels
During the 1950′s Philip Levine was working in Detroit auto plants and writing poetry. In an interview at that time in Detroit Magazine he described how he found his compelling subject material. “I saw that the people that I was working with…were voiceless in a way. In terms of the literature of the United States they weren’t being heard. Nobody was speaking for them. And as young people will, you know, I took this foolish vow that I would speak for them and that’s what my life would be. …I just hope that I have the strength to carry it all the way through.”

They Feed They Lion was written in 1968, when Levine returned to Detroit following the race riots of 1967. It is one of his finest poems, reflecting the degree to which he found “the strength to carry it all the way through.” The poem is merciless in its judgements and propelled by the rhythmic insistence of the language itself.

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Thumbnail image for The Shopping Mall’s Socialist Pre-History

The Shopping Mall’s Socialist Pre-History

by Source 04.11.2014 Economy

The inventor of the American suburban shopping mall was a socialist. Could his creation have been saved?

By  / Jacobin Magazine

The American landscape is littered with hundreds of dead shopping malls. In places like the vast Buckingham Square Mall in Aurora, Colo., which has stood empty since 2007, the indoor fountains have stopped running, but the prosthetic plants inside remain eerily green. More will join them. It’s said that 15% of American malls will close in the next ten years.

The biggest shopping mall in the world, the New South China Mall in Dongguan, is also a dead mall. Opening in 2005, it boasted seven zones, each based on major international cities and featuring including a replica Arc de Triumph and a Venetian canal complete with gondolas. However, the mall has remained 99% vacant since its opening. Aside from a cluster of fast food restaurants near its entrance, the mall is a network of vast, empty atria and mothballed cinemas and roller coasters.

Unable to compete with online shopping, declining consumer affluence, rising oil prices, and a volatile property market, shopping malls are dropping like flies.

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Thumbnail image for Press Conferences and Vanity Shovels Cannot Hide the Truth About San Diego’s Crumbling Infrastructure

Press Conferences and Vanity Shovels Cannot Hide the Truth About San Diego’s Crumbling Infrastructure

by Doug Porter 04.10.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Newly elected Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s been on quite a tear lately, putting forth a smiling face at press conferences in various neighborhoods around the city. Yesterday cameras rolled as the mayor and local politicos including Councilman Todd Gloria posed and preened over a gateway renovation project on 25th Street in Golden Hill.

Hizzoner says he’s making good on campaign promises to direct more monies (50% of revenue growth, as I recollect) toward street and infrastructure repair. He proudly announced yesterday that $22 million of the anticipated $35 million growth in next year’s inflow would be dedicated to that cause.  

It played real well on TV. Sadly, the truth of the situation is that revenue growth, which will likely come from an improving economy, can’t even begin to address the $1 billion hole San Diego faces when it comes to the basic the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities needed locally.

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Thumbnail image for Poem of the Day: “The Spruce Street Bridge” by Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

Poem of the Day: “The Spruce Street Bridge” by Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

by Source 04.10.2014 Books & Poetry

From the ongoing SDFP column Geo-Poetic Spaces

By Ishmael von Heidrick-Barnes

Editor’s Note: San Diego Free Press contributor and poet Karen Kenyon has introduced readers to a number of San Diego poets. One of the iron-clad rules of poetry is that one poet always leads to another. Ish, as we know him, is one of those poets. Since SDFP’s launch in 2012 he has contributed both poems and essays. A few months ago he attended one of our contributor and editor meetings and told us that he has been combining videos with his poetry. The ongoing SDFP series Geo-Poetic Spaces arose from that meeting.

As part of our National Poetry Month coverage, we have asked San Diego poets who contribute to SDFP to provide some insight into why they write poetry. Ish responded: Poetry is breathing. I write because I can’t hold my breath for long without exhaling words. I have to create. For me art is not just a way of living it is life.

The Spruce Street Bridge

Wind strumming up chords
Strolling over Spruce Street bridge
Nasturtiums swaying
Canyon suspending sound’s scent
A suite for strings struck in steel

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Thumbnail image for “RED” at the San Diego Repertory Theatre

“RED” at the San Diego Repertory Theatre

by Source 04.10.2014 Culture

“Stop the heart and think… How fine are we?”

By Alejandra Enciso Guzmán

San Diego Repertory Theatre is staging its final production of its thirty-eighth season with RED by John Logan. It is a wonderful and –colorful- end to an eclectic and very well rounded season.

RED is a play with two actors and no intermission. John Vickery plays Mark Rothko, short for Marcus Yakovlevich Rothkowitz, an American painter of Russian Jewish descent. Jason Maddy is Ken, Rothko’s young assistant, aspiring painter and apprentice. San Diego Free Press had the opportunity to chat with the actors about their roles in RED.

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Thumbnail image for #NotABugSplat — Art At Its Most Powerful

#NotABugSplat — Art At Its Most Powerful

by Source 04.10.2014 Activism

By pajoly/ DailyKos

The image above is not a Photoshopped jpeg. It is an image massively blown up and staked into the ground to shame the American military drone pilots — and now indeed all of us — as their death from above ply the skies above Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region. It is an art project named #NotABugSplat, co-opting in graphic relief the slang drone operators callously and cavalierly give their victims.

Let that sink in. Bug Splat. Our society is fond of creating colorful euphemisms that are byproducts of truly shitty and shameful public policy. “Collateral damage” is one we all know; it’s clinically distant and sounds so much nicer in print and at a press briefing than “innocent dead bystanders.” (“Medical tourism” is another cheery one that seems almost bucolic instead of being actually a pathetic and desperate consequence of our pay-to-play healthcare regime.)

But, nothing so grossly illustrates our abandonment of any pretense of moral high ground like labeling exploded human beings as bug splats.

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Thumbnail image for Legalization is a Human Rights Issue: Latin America Steps Up Resolve to End the Drug Wars

Legalization is a Human Rights Issue: Latin America Steps Up Resolve to End the Drug Wars

by Source 04.10.2014 Activism

By Wendy Call/ Yes!
Seattle’s South Park neighborhood has seen its share of drug-related crime and violence. Many of its residents are recent immigrants from Mexico; some came north fleeing the drug cartel violence that has ravaged their home communities. So the South Park Community Center was a poignant venue for Mexican poet, writer, and activist Javier Sicilia to speak about his campaign to end the drug war in his home country. He began the evening with a moment of silence for all the lives lost – somewhere between 60,000 and 100,000 – since the Mexican government stepped up the war against drug cartels in 2006. Then, his commanding voice heavy with grief, Sicilia read a poem:

All absence is cruel
and nonetheless, remains like a space that comes from the dead,
from the bleached roots of the past.
Where might we turn?

Sicilia wrote this poem, “The Survivor,” in 2009. Two years later, he became a survivor of heartbreaking absence himself, when his 24-year-old son was murdered, with six of his friends, by drug traffickers in Cuernavaca, Mexico. With the cruel loss of his son, Sicilia did not know where to turn. He wrote a final poem dedicated to his son, Juan Francisco, and then renounced writing poetry.

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Thumbnail image for Bob Filner’s New Book and Other Tales of Alternate Reality

Bob Filner’s New Book and Other Tales of Alternate Reality

by Doug Porter 04.09.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

So the word on the street, courtesy of columnist Logan Jenkins, is that former mayor Bob Filner is writing a book and looking for an editor. The UT-San Diego columnist has offered to “anonymously ghostwrite. Gratis.”    

I’m sure there any number of San Diego journos who’d love the opportunity. I remember reading lots of self-righteous tweets and barely concealed contempt in coverage by too many of this town’s “reporters.” After all, writing anything else might have excluded them from the crafty beer klatches and opportunities to genuflect before local luminaries so necessary to generate “coverage.”

I can only hope Filner’s period of confinement and reflection has re-enforced the (obvious) notion that “none-of-the-above” would be the only right choice to make when it comes to local scribes.

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Thumbnail image for Politicians Who Oppose Marijuana Legalization Are On the Wrong Side of History

Politicians Who Oppose Marijuana Legalization Are On the Wrong Side of History

by Source 04.09.2014 Government

A majority of Americans support marijuana legalization.

By Tony Newman via AlterNet

A majority of Americans support marijuana legalization – yet not one sitting governor or U.S. Senator supports it, according to a New York Times piece.  

Marijuana prohibition is a disastrous failure. 43 years after President Nixon launched the “war on drugs,” the U.S. arrests 650,000 people a year for marijuana possession – yet marijuana and other illegal drugs are as available as ever. Thanks to the drug war, the U.S. has less than five percent of the world’s population, yet nearly 25 percent of its prisoners.

Colorado and Washington made history in 2012 becoming the first states – and the first two political jurisdictions anywhere in the world – to legally regulate the production and distribution of marijuana, and many states are looking to follow soon. National polls showing majority support for marijuana legalization have been confirmed in states across the country – and not just in states you’d expect but even in Florida, Louisiana, Indiana, Ohio and Texas.

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Thumbnail image for The Night I Decided to Stop Going to Sea World

The Night I Decided to Stop Going to Sea World

by Source 04.09.2014 Activism

By Lori Saldaña

I was born in San Diego, and my family began attending Sea World back in the 60s when it had a Japanese Garden and pearl divers (I still have a pearl ring, a birthday gift one year).

Then, it was a very different place than it is today: quieter, smaller scale, and more about Pacific Rim culture than theme park shows. We went often, and not just as casual visitors. Since my father was a journalist, and Sea World knew the value of cultivating relationships with the media, we would often attend special events throughout the year, including a lavish annual kick-off party that marked the start of their summer season, complete with a preview of the newest Shamu show.

I enjoyed going early, before the dinners and presentations, and wandering around the park after the daytime visitors departed. I especially enjoyed being able to enter the exhibits and watch the animals without the usual crowds around.

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Thumbnail image for Cheap Corn Permeates Every Facet of the American Diet

Cheap Corn Permeates Every Facet of the American Diet

by John Lawrence 04.09.2014 Culture

By John Lawrence

Corn is the staple of the US agricultural system and food supply. It’s in everything we eat unbeknownst to many Americans.

Corn feeds steers that become steak and fast food hamburgers. Corn feeds chickens and pigs - even catfish, salmon and tilapia. Milk, cheese and yogurt that once came from cows that grazed on grass now come from Holsteins that spend their time tethered to milking machines while munching on corn.

Processed foods contain even more corn than so-called “natural” foods. Take chicken nuggets, for example. Not only the chicken itself but the corn starch that holds it together, the corn flour in the batter, the corn oil in which its fried, the leavenings and lecithin, the mono-, di- and triglycerides, the golden coloring, the citric acid that keeps it fresh – all these ingredients come from corn.

Any soft drink in the supermarket including Coke and Pepsi contains High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) so you can wash down your corn with some more corn. A quarter of the 45,000 items in the average supermarket contain corn.

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Thumbnail image for Lifeguard Ed Harris to Replace Kevin Faulconer on City Council

Lifeguard Ed Harris to Replace Kevin Faulconer on City Council

by Doug Porter 04.08.2014 Columns

By Doug Porter

Three Republican members of the San Diego City Council joined two of their Democratic colleagues to appoint Point Loma resident Ed Harris yesterday to serve out the remaining eight months of newly elected Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s term.

Harris, who heads the city’s lifeguard union, received support from council members Lorie Zapf, Mark Kersey, Scott Sherman, Sherri Lightner and David Alvarez. Democrats will now have a 6-3 majority, theoretically giving them enough votes to override any vetoes from San Diego’s Republican mayor.

The appointed councilman was sworn in immediately following the vote. Harris is prohibited by the city charter from running for election to the seat, so he must step down when his term ends in early December.

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Thumbnail image for It’s Equal Pay Day!  Republican Incoherence, Executive Orders and How to Get a Raise

It’s Equal Pay Day! Republican Incoherence, Executive Orders and How to Get a Raise

by Anna Daniels 04.08.2014 Activism

By Anna Daniels

Republicans have been having a hard time stringing words together when it comes to explaining why they don’t support pay equity for women. It’s a straightforward concept–equal pay for equal work. Yet it takes women until April 8 to catch up with men’s earnings from the previous year. The median earnings for a woman working a full time job is about 77% of a man’s. That figure drops for women of color and it hasn’t budged in more than a decade.

President Obama’s first action upon assuming office in 2009 was to sign the Lily Ledbetter Fair Wage Act. This act restored protection against wage discrimination that was stripped away by the Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter v Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. The act extended the period of time for employees to file claims for wages lost because of discrimination. Yet wage discrimination on the basis of gender continues to exist.

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Thumbnail image for The Wild Widows Return to Old Town Part 2: Cygnet Theatre

The Wild Widows Return to Old Town Part 2: Cygnet Theatre

by Judi Curry 04.08.2014 Culture

By Judi Curry

Following our breakfast at O’Hungry’s, Irene and I left Ro and went up to Ft. Rosecrans to visit our husbands. Irene made the comment that the only good thing about our husbands passing was that we met each other. When it is our time to leave this earth, Irene and I will be only a few rows apart and will be able to still converse with each other.

Following our visit to the cemetery, we went back to Old Town to the Cygnet Theatre to see the play Spring Awakening. Ro was the House Manager on this particular day and could not watch the play with us but will see it at a later time.

Spring Awakening is a winner of 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical. It is based on a play that was originally written in 1891, but it is so contemporary it could have been written in our time.

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