Alternative Fact: There Ain’t No Such Thing as Global Warming

February 23, 2017 by John Lawrence

2016 Breaks 2015’s Record Which Broke 2014’s Record

By John Lawrence

Global WarmingFor the third year in a row planet Earth has set records for hottest year on the planet. It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row.

Meanwhile, President Trump took down the White House climate change website. He has called global warming a hoax and a Chinese plot, and staffed his administration with global warming deniers.

The heat extremes were especially noticeable in the Arctic region where temperatures are running 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Sea ice is melting at a rapid pace and coastal communities are dealing with rapid beach erosion. Polar bears are losing their habitat and starving.

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Trump’s 7-Nation Immigration Ban Excluded Saudi Arabia – the Largest Purchaser of U.S. Military Equipment

February 16, 2017 by John Lawrence

Egypt Also Excluded – Major Recipient of U.S. Military Aid

By John Lawrence

Why did Trump try to impose tighter vetting on 7 nations in the Middle East without including Saudi Arabia and Egypt? Could it be that it’s because Saudi Arabia which is a hotbed of terrorism is also an ally of the US and an enemy of Iran?

Fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were Saudis. Osama bin Laden was a Saudi. The machete wielding attacker at the Louvre recently was Egyptian. Neither Egypt nor Pakistan nor Afghanistan were included on the so-called President’s list. Pakistan harbored bin Laden. Afghanistan is the home of the Taliban. If Trump had wanted to keep terrorists out of the US, surely he should have included these countries in his ban. But terrorism is more about U.S. alliances than it is about morality or human rights.

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Repeal and (Don’t) Replace

January 26, 2017 by John Lawrence

By John Lawrence

Woman holding sign: "We [heart] Obamacare"

“Repeal and Replace” Just a Slogan

Republicans were fine with the way it was for the health care system before Obamacare went into effect. So why not just go back to the good old days when a pre-existing condition was enough to let an insurance company reject you from coverage?

The good old days when price gouging by insurance companies was the order of the day. The good old days when pharmaceutical corporations could charge whatever they want for life saving drugs. Oh, that part is still true under Obamacare.

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Trump’s Goldman Sachs Connections

January 13, 2017 by John Lawrence

Restocking the Swamp

By John Lawrence

Treasury DepartmentTrump’s new pick for Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, his top campaign fundraiser, was a Goldman Sachs executive. Mnuchin spent 17 years working at Goldman Sachs where he became a partner.

He also worked for hedge fund manager George Soros, founded a hedge fund of his own and was the lead investor in IndyMac, a failed subprime lender that turned into a “foreclosure machine” during the housing crisis.

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War on the Poor Starts Soon

January 6, 2017 by John Lawrence

Seal of the U.S. Office of Management and BudgetBy John Lawrence

The Safety Net Will Soon be in Shreds

The Trump administration will take over in a couple weeks. Essential benefits for tens of millions of low-and moderate-income Americans are in danger of being phased out or canceled immediately.

These include the Affordable Care Act, the Medicaid health-insurance program for the poor and further reduction of already squeezed funding for scores of other important programs serving the most vulnerable Americans such as rental vouchers for low-income families, programs to fight homelessness, job training, funding for poor school districts, Head Start for young children and Pell grants to help low-income students afford college.

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Fighting the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” Decision

December 29, 2016 by John Lawrence

Wolf-Pac: A PAC Dedicated to Getting Money Out of Politics

By Paul Keleher and John Lawrence

The United States Supreme Court held (5–4) on 21 January 2010 that freedom of speech prohibited the government from restricting independent political expenditures by a nonprofit corporation.

The principles articulated by the Supreme Court in the case have also been extended to for-profit corporations, labor unions and other associations.

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Oklahoma Residents Taking Action Against Frackers But Is It To No Avail?

December 21, 2016 by John Lawrence

FrackersEarthquake Capital of US

By John Lawrence

We have written previously about the fact that Oklahoma is now the earthquake capital of the US. It seems forcing all the waste products from fracking down deep wells has disturbed the earth enough to cause a lot of earthquakes there.

In addition to jolting the nerves of Oklahomans, it is destroying their property. In 2014, there were over twice as many earthquakes recorded in Oklahoma as in California, making Oklahoma the most seismically active state in the contiguous United States by a substantial margin.

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Trump’s Cabinet Picks: A Basket of Deplorables

December 15, 2016 by John Lawrence

Trump's Cabinet PicksA Secy of Labor Who Doesn’t Believe in the Minimum Wage

By John Lawrence

Trump has chosen fast food executive Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor. Puzder is chief executive of CKE Restaurants, the corporation that owns Hardee’s and Carls Jr fast food chains.

The corporation has 3300 locations in 42 states and 28 countries. Puzder has advocated replacing human beings with machines in fast food restaurants.

He famously said, “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.”

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Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) Don’t Result in Better Crop Yields

December 8, 2016 by John Lawrence

They Just Increase Amount of Poison We’re Exposed To

By John Lawrence

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)The controversy over genetically modified crops has focused on whether or not they were safe to eat. We have to ask ourselves what was the purpose for genetically modifying them in the first place.

That was so they could be sprayed with Monsanto’s Roundup and they wouldn’t die. Only the weeds would die. But this leaves the crops, mainly corn and soybeans, with a nice coating of poison. It won’t kill them, but it might kill you.

The next promise of the chemical corporations was that the use of GMO sprayed with weed killers would lead to a significant increase in crop yields, but that hasn’t happened either.

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Trump Reneging on His Campaign Promises to Voters

December 1, 2016 by John Lawrence

His Supporters Have Been Snookered!

By John Lawrence

Trump Reneging In a 60 Minutes interview with Leslie Stahl, Trump back pedaled on his major campaign promises and a lot else. When asked what his sit-down with President Obama was like he replied,

“I found him [President Obama] to be terrific. I found him to be– very smart and very nice.Great sense of humor, as much as you can have a sense of humor talking about tough subjects, but we were talking about some pretty tough subjects.”

So no more questions about his legitimacy to be President? No more wondering whether he was born in Kenya? I guess not now that he, Trump, is a member of the club.

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The Internet of Things: Asking for Trouble

November 29, 2016 by John Lawrence

A Hacker’s Wet Dream

By John Lawrence

Internet of ThingsHackers are licking their chops over the latest push by high tech corporations including San Diego’s Qualcomm to create an Internet of Things in which everything is hooked up to the internet: your refrigerator, your thermostat, your security system, your car.

It will be a hacker’s paradise. Already hackers have carried out a distributed denial of service (DDoS) taking Netflix, Twitter, Paypal and other major websites off the air. Hackers were able to direct an overwhelming amount of traffic to a company by the name of Dyn which acts as a switching hub for internet traffic.

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The Dakota Access Pipe Line: The Latest Last Ditch Stand

November 3, 2016 by John Lawrence

Oil Corporation Tramps on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights

By John Lawrence

Dakota Access Pipe LineFinally, there is an alliance of a major group — U.S. Indians — and environmentalists who are taking a stand to prevent the furtherance of fossil fuel interests.

Bill McKibben of 350.org says we must stop now insofar as building more fossil fuel infrastructure, which is what a pipeline represents, if we are to have a hope and a prayer of saving the planet from the effects of global warming.

The Native Americans have those interests and more — they rely on clean water from the Missouri River for their lives and livelihoods. This pipeline would probably result in the pollution of the water they rely on because pipelines aren’t foolproof. They break and spew their pollution. In addition, the pipeline construction is desecrating Indian burial sites.

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The Financialization of America: Wall Street Doesn’t Help Homeless

October 21, 2016 by John Lawrence

MoneyThe Business of America is No Longer Business — It’s Finance

By John Lawrence

The rich today are making money not from making things, but by manipulating money. This is being done in such a way that it is driving the inequality process. It is ruining the middle class while exporting their jobs.

The tax structure of the US engineered by Ronald Reagan, Alan Greenspan and their Republican followers has incentivized the creation of great wealth in a few hands while driving the majority of people into poverty.

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How Much More Extraction of Fossil Fuels Can We Do? – Answer: Zero

October 17, 2016 by John Lawrence

Keep It In the Ground

By John Lawrence

Fossil FuelsBill McKibben of 350.org said recently, “If our goal is to keep the Earth’s temperature from rising more than two degrees Celsius—the upper limit identified by the nations of the world—how much more new digging and drilling can we do? Here’s the answer: zero.”

The goal of keeping earth’s temperature rise below 2 degrees C is already in danger even with the coal mines, oil wells and pipelines currently in operation and assuming there will be no new ones. That means we shouldn’t be doing any more digging or drilling. It all has to stop — now — if the earth is to survive.

Some scientists think it is already too late. Meanwhile, the Federal government continues to lease land for oil and gas drilling.

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Measure A: Mish Mash That Doesn’t Focus Enough on Climate Change

September 30, 2016 by John Lawrence

Measure A Doesn’t Do Enough to Get Cars Off the Road

By John Lawrence

Trolley (1)In a nutshell, Measure A is a something-for-everybody approach that doesn’t do enough to concentrate on climate change. A full on effort to get cars off the road and people onto public transit would do much more. That means more trolley and light rail lines paralleling major freeways.

Measure A brings up more questions than answers. It seems that the whole purpose of Measure A is just to do the same things that SANDAG has already been doing, but at a faster pace. They already duped the voters into a half-cent sales tax hike with TransNet, which is an ongoing pot of money. With it, SANDAG is supposed to be doing the right thing in terms of San Diego County infrastructure. The only reason they would need more money is to speed up the process of combatting global warming. This measure does not do that.

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American Consumption Shouldn’t Keep Economy Afloat

September 22, 2016 by John Lawrence

By John Lawrence

This is Part 2 of Buddhist Economics: Economics As If People Mattered. Part 1 can be found here.

Buddhist EconomicsThe Buddhist approach is that consumption is merely a means to human well-being. The aim should be to attain a maximum of well-being with a minimum of consumption.

It would also be considered salutary to produce much of what is needed for human well-being by one’s own hands rather than being a total participant in the cash economy. This is anathema to capitalist economists and bankers who thrive on interest from bank loans in order that consumers can purchase more stuff on borrowed money and go into more debt.

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Buddhist Economics: Economics as if People Mattered

September 15, 2016 by John Lawrence

Economics Should Be About People, Not About Wall Street

By John Lawrence

Buddhist EconomicsIn Buddhist economics there is the concept of “right livelihood.” Work is considered an essential component of human life just as play and leisure. Work of a craftsmanlike nature, work which is satisfying–not work that is stultifying, of an assembly-line nature. Work that nourishes the soul; this kind of work results in right livelihood.

By the same token, there is “right consumption.” This is as contrasted with the unlimited consumption advanced Western societies and pushed on their citizens through advertising and other means in order to have economic “growth” and to increase GDP.

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Why Are Some People Always Happy and Others Not So Much?

September 1, 2016 by John Lawrence

Drugs: the Human Dilemma, Part 2

By John Lawrence
happy_people_jumpingIs there a balanced way to live so that chemicals released by the brain, which produce feelings of well being and happiness, can happen without addiction to drugs or exercise?

For some these endorphins seem to naturally produce ‘enough good feeling’ without their having to do anything more. For some the ‘happiness gene’ seems to be turned on at all times regardless of what happens in the events of their lives.

For others there is a deficiency that leads to a tendency for them to become alcoholics or drug addicts. A person’s natural energy level seems to have something to do with it. High energy people need to release that energy in non-sedentary pursuits or mitigate the effects of it like so-called ADHD with drugs.

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Drugs – the Human Epidemic – Part 1

August 25, 2016 by John Lawrence

By John Lawrence

Drugs SexMoney ArtworkAmericans are using drugs of various kinds at an increasing rate. Of course drugs have been around for a long time, since the beginning of time in fact.

In 5000 BC the Sumerians used opium.

The earliest record of alcohol production was in Egypt in 3500 BC. Tea in China was used in 3000 BC.

Humans have used various substances to manipulate and alter their mood levels for millennia.

In the category of drugs I include any mood altering substance such caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, prescription drugs such as opiods and other pain killers, amphetamines etc.

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Why Does Homelessness Persist in America’s Finest City?

August 17, 2016 by John Lawrence

Housing is Not a Human Right in the US

by Sandro Montefusco from il lavoro culturale, republished under a Creative Commons License

By John Lawrence

Why does homelessness persist in the world’s richest nation? The simple answer is that having a roof over one’s head is not a human right in this society.

Fortunate people, those with a home and a car and other assets will not vote to give others what they possess even on the most basic level. Article 25 of the 1948 United Nations Declaration of Human Rights states:

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being ….

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Extreme Weather Change: Devastating Heat

August 9, 2016 by John Lawrence

Extreme Weather WatchThere’s been an extreme weather change.

Two Middle Eastern locations hit 129 degrees F, the hottest temperatures ever recorded in earth’s history.

The temperature in Mitribah, Kuwait surged Thursday, July 21 to a blistering 129.2 degrees (54 Celsius). On Friday, the 22nd in Basra, Iraq, the mercury soared to 129.0 degrees (53.9 Celsius). At the same time, a heat dome in the US sent temperatures soaring to over 100º in much of the country.

A study published in the journal Nature Climate Change last October cautioned that by the end of the century temperatures may become too hot for human survival due to climate change.

Hottest Temps Ever Recorded

Last year was the hottest year ever globally — or it was until 2016 got off to a sweltering start. NASA announced that the first six months of this year have been the hottest since 1880, which is when people started keeping reliable records.

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On Love and Meritocracy – Part 2

July 28, 2016 by John Lawrence

There is No PhD in Love. Instead, there’s a ‘filtering out’ system

Love in San DiegoHere’s Part 1.

The educational system promotes “progress” in western terms that produces gadgets and labor saving devices while employing smaller and smaller numbers of highly educated people to do so.

Those people who have a high capacity to love or care for others are devalued as lesser human beings if they do not have high IQs and advanced degrees from prestigious institutions. They aren’t promoted in terms of the educational system.

There is no PhD in love.

The meritocracy is seen as deserving of billions of dollars. Highly educated professionals attain the highest reaches of government from which they declaim on the virtues of people like themselves.

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On Love and Meritocracy – Part 1

July 21, 2016 by John Lawrence

We Don’t Need Another Gadget

The Answer is LoveWhat the world needs now is love… so wrote Hal David in 1965 with music by Burt Bacharach. It was true then and even truer now.

We don’t need another gadget. We don’t need another smartphone. We don’t need another IPO, which only increases the economic divide between the 1% and the 99%.

Economic progress has utterly failed us. It won’t prevent the world going up in flames and/or being flooded out due to global warming. It hasn’t prevented war and violence crowding out every other story on the evening news and getting worse by the day.

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General Dynamics, Once a San Diego Mainstay, Now Dearly Departed

July 18, 2016 by John Lawrence

The following article appeared in the 1969 print edition of the San Diego Free Press. It has been transcribed from the microfilm at the San Diego Public Library.

By John Lawrence

General DynamicsAs Frank Pace says in the Foreward to Dynamic America: A History of the General Dynamics Corporation by John Niven:

In 1960, ours is the most powerful of nations, intimately involved in all the earth’s daily business, the major bulwark against communism and so most threatened.

From these times to the present, during our growth, from an insular agrarian society to the world’s political and industrial leader, the position of the United States in world politics has determined, almost exclusively, the flow of product research and development from General Dynamics.

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The San Diego Convadium – Part 3

July 14, 2016 by John Lawrence

By John Lawrence

Part 1: 110 Pages of Gobbledygook
Part 2: Lipstick on a Pig

Section 35.0109 Additional Tax Imposed

Charger's ConvadiumThe Chargers want the City to create a separate Fund, the Convention Center Expansion and Stadium Fund, which will borrow money from Wall Street in the form of Bonds and be firewalled off from the City’s General Fund. So it’s like a separate entity for which the City is not responsible at all, but the City has to create it.

The BIG question is, “Will Wall Street go along with this?” The monies flowing into this fund come solely from an increase in the Tax On Transiency (TOT) of 4% (or is it 6% as stated in the proposal?).

If these monies aren’t sufficient to make the payments on the $1.15 billion in bonds that this “entity” (not the City, mind you) is responsible for, then what happens? Who’s left holding the bag?

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Chargers Convadium Plan: Lipstick on a Pig

July 6, 2016 by John Lawrence

chargers design 5Part 2 in a series

By John Lawrence

I previously reported on the 110 Pages of Gobbledygook that represents the Chargers’ proposal to build a combination football stadium and convention center expansion in downtown. It looks like it’s not going to happen because Mayor Kevin Faulconer and a lot of conservative businessmen are against it.

Perhaps the Chargers assumed that Faulconer would immediately climb on the bandwagon and start cheering for the so-called convadium.

Faulconer, however, to his credit has been cautious, questioning the $1.15 billion in new debt the City would have to take on as its part in this endeavor. The Chargers casually gloss over this in their gobbledygook proposal. And they say nothing about the $50 million still owed on Qualcomm Stadium as if that’s not even something worth mentioning.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, recent state Supreme Court ruling means that the Chargers will probably have to have a two-thirds approval from the voters in November instead of a simple majority.

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The GDP is a Poor Measure of Progress

July 1, 2016 by John Lawrence

By John Lawrence

GDPGross Domestic Product does not measure the well-being of human beings.

War, natural disasters, incarcerations all add to positive GDP growth. Profits from casinos, drug sales, cigarette sales, junk food all add to economic growth.

Stock buybacks contribute to GDP. GDP is based on distorted values. If I pay down my debt, that does not add to GDP. If I borrow more money and go into debt and go out and buy stuff, that increases GDP.

Wall Street insistence on short-term profits, as opposed to long-term growth, does add to GDP. GDP is f’d up, yet for every politician and government functionary it’s the sine qua non of economic indicators. Every swindler that parts someone with a buck contributes to GDP growth.

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OB People’s Organic Food Market – Worker-Owned Co-op – in the Gig Economy

June 21, 2016 by John Lawrence
Thumbnail image for OB People’s Organic Food Market – Worker-Owned Co-op – in the Gig Economy

The Gig Economy: Okay If the Profits Went to the Giggers

By John Lawrence

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the idea of working a job here and a job there according to the worker’s convenience and other activities.

The problem is that the profits go to some centralized corporation rather than being spread out among all the giggers in proportion to their participation in the system.

gig economy

If Uber or Lyft were a co-op, the profits would go to all the worker/owners instead of a handful of investors.
Then the gig economy would offer not only a technique for working at one’s convenience and fitting into one’s schedule whether that schedule might be educational or child care or surfing or whatever.

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Democracy in Action at City Council Rules Committee

June 16, 2016 by John Lawrence

By John Lawrence

City Council Rules CommitteeOn Wednesday, June 15, 2016, there was a well-attended meeting of the Rules Committee of the San Diego City Council.

Many diverse topics were covered, some at exhaustive lengths. The meeting lasted over three hours with a dozen or more speakers pleading their causes.

Most were asking the Rules Committee to take issues to the full City Council for consideration on the November ballot.

There was a discussion of the nature of the voting system.

The way it is right now someone running for office who gets 50% of the vote plus one in the June primary is considered elected.

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Of Dentistry in Tijuana and Cross Border Friendship

June 15, 2016 by John Lawrence

Dr. Garcia & staff with Judy

By John Lawrence

I have been writing about my friend Dr. Luis Garcia for almost 10 years. That’s how long he has been doing my dental work in Tijuana at the Baja Oral Center.

Over the course of those years, Dr. Garcia has become much more than my dentist; he has become my friend. Way back in 2007 I had broken my front tooth off by biting into an English muffin that was hard as a rock.

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