World News

Cuba Sí! Decades of Failed Foreign Policy Come to an End

December 18, 2014 by Doug Porter
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By Doug Porter

A mutual release of prisoners Wednesday, Dec. 17, marks beginning of the end of the United States embargo against the island nation of Cuba. Cuba released jailed American Alan Gross along with an unnamed non-American intelligence ‘asset.’ The US released three Cubans accused of running a spy operation in the South Florida expatriate community.

The Associated Press reports the two governments are starting talks on normalizing full diplomatic relations; trade and banking ties are will be at the top of the agenda. Observers expect each country to attempt to open embassies in each other’s capitals during 2015.

While these actions are not part of any overall shift in US foreign policy, the repercussions throughout the hemisphere will be reminiscent of the establishment of normalized relations with China in the 1970’s. It’s a big deal. A really big deal.

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The Gun Death Capital of the World – United States of America

December 17, 2014 by John Lawrence

Lethal Weapons ChartBy John Lawrence

The US leads the world in deaths from firearms. Countries like Great Britain and Japan, which outlaw guns, have hardly any gun related deaths.

These countries don’t have the “freedom” to own a gun. We Americans are free to own a gun and free to go bankrupt from medical debts. In countries like Britain and Japan they are not free to go bankrupt from medical debt because they have national health care systems which prevent that from happening.

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On Torture: Deeper into the American Heart of Darkness

December 15, 2014 by Jim Miller

torture bedBy Jim Miller

A couple of weeks ago I evoked Joseph Conrad’s classic critique of colonialism when discussing the disposability of black and brown lives in the wake of Ferguson and our collective ability to dehumanize or “thingify” black and brown people at home and abroad.

As I observed then, “in Conrad’s classic novel Heart of Darkness we are taken on a journey into the core of the European colonial enterprise. And while the naïve reader may expect an adventure in the ‘savage’ world of Africa, what one quickly discovers is that it is the ‘hollow men’ of Europe bent on the ruthless exploitation of the land and the people who are the real savages, whose moral emptiness and desire to ‘exterminate the brutes’ is the actual horror.”

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

December 12, 2014 by John Lawrence

earthonfireBy 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.

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Conversion to Renewable Energy is Going Too Slow to Avoid Catastrophe

December 11, 2014 by John Lawrence

By Frank Thomas and John Lawrence

Part 1 of a Multi-Part Series

Introduction

climate x johnA facile denial of reality sits in the DNA of human nature – and climate change is no exception. The inbred fantasy-culture of endless growth, technology, and a throwaway consumeristic lifestyle fueled by exploiting pollutive fossil fuels has reinforced the illusion that we can do so without destroying the environment and even life itself.

The threat to human life and the planet seems to need to be truly imminent before we humans can change our course. By then, however, it will be too late …

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Torture Tuesday: A Study in Manufacturing Consent

December 9, 2014 by Doug Porter
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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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SEAWORLD WATCH: Protests for Corky’s Retirement on Dec. 5 – 6 – and ‘Jackass’ Star Gets Infraction for “Sucks” Stunt

December 5, 2014 by Frank Gormlie
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There is lots to report in this “SeaWorld Watch” column, an occasional post at OB Rag.

First, there will be protests outside San Diego SeaWorld this weekend, as activists pressure the aquatic zoo in protests advocating the retirement of the longest-held orca in captivity, Corky, captured 45 years ago.

Second, “Jackass” star, Steve-O, who pulled off a successful stunt last spring when he taped “Sucks” next to SeaWorld’s name on a freeway sign, was charged only with an infraction – no criminal charge – and faces a fine – which PETA has agreed to pay.

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Mounting Protests Over 43 Kidnapped and Massacred Mexican Students Hit San Diego

November 19, 2014 by Doug Porter

Missing-students-AyotzinapaBy Doug Porter

Unrest in Mexico, triggered by the disappearance and probable execution of 43 students in the state of Guerrero is reaching a fevered pitch. Nationwide demonstrations in Mexico on November 20th are prompting activists north of the border to hold protests that day. Here in San Diego, a protest is scheduled for Thursday at the Mexican Consulate (1549 India St) in Little Italy.

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Stand with Indigenous Peoples, Stop the Pipelines

November 17, 2014 by Source

As so often happens, Native Americans are leading the fight to save the world.

Moccasins on the Ground workshop where participants are trained in the skills, tactics, and techniques of nonviolent direct action.By Will Falk / San Diego Free Press

While half of the world’s species are disappearing, while the remaining 48 hunter/gatherer societies are literally fighting for their survival, while 32 million acres of rainforest are cut down a year, and while three hundred tons of topsoil are lost a minute, we are again at war with those who would destroy the planet.

There have been many wars fought on behalf of our life-giving land in North America. The overwhelming majority of those killed in defense of the land have come from peoples like the Sioux, the Cheyenne, the Nez Perce, the Sauk, and the Apache. Native Americans have long stood in the way of this destructive culture.

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Extreme Weather Watch: October 2014 – Drought in Australia and Brazil

November 13, 2014 by John Lawrence

weather5By John Lawrence

Australia experienced its second warmest October on record. A number of records were set during the month in particular for the warmest October day on record for Australia as a whole. Nationally-averaged rainfall during October was 59% below the long-term mean which made October 2014 Australia’s seventh-driest October on record.

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What’s Not to Like? Gas Prices Down, Solar Energy Production Up

November 5, 2014 by John Lawrence

Wikimedia photo circa 2006

By John Lawrence

Gas prices have dropped below $4.00 a gallon for the first time in several years.

Every one-cent drop in gas prices means a $1 billion annual decline in energy spending by Americans. Consumers can use the savings to eat out more often, buy more goods or pay down debt. That’s good for US motorists and consumers, but that’s not the whole story.

Part of the story has to do with the fact that …

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Debate Heats Up Over San Salvador “Historic Replica”

October 28, 2014 by Source
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Editor: Ever since the OB Rag first published articles about the reconstruction of a replica of the San Salvador, the flagship of Juan Cabrillo, the Spanish explorer who was the first European to land on San Diego’s shores, a debate has ensued over how modern society views and values the new ship which represents so much of the past. The ship is docked right off Point Loma, in Spanish Landing.

By Will Falk

As a settler, I think it’s my responsibility to say this: The San Salvador was a weapon of genocide and, today, is a symbol of genocide.

“A Historically Accurate Replica”

How accurate are we going to get with the San Salvador? Are we going to use African and indigenous slave labor to build it? …

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Twelve Years Ago Today OB Held Its Largest Peace Rally This Century

October 27, 2014 by Marc Snelling
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By Marc Snelling

Last month Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama, who was elected to end two wars, addressed the nation to announce an open-ended bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria. As the Afghanistan War (now the longest in American history) and the conflict in Iraq continue it is clear Obama has failed to live up to his election promises.

Not only has his administration failed to live up to it’s word to end two wars and close Guantanamo prison, he has even changed his tune about the initial invasion. The US “sought to work within the international system” he said earlier in March of this year at a speech in Brussels. Obama further declared the the US had “left Iraq to it’s people in a fully sovereign Iraqi state that can make decisions about it’s own future.”

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Extreme Weather Watch: September 2014: Fires in California, Cabo San Lucas Destroyed by Hurricane

October 9, 2014 by John Lawrence

By John Lawrence

Extreme Weather WatchAs many as 6000 firefighters battled blazes in northern California during the month of September.

The King Fire, which was deliberately set, devoured nearly 120 square miles of timber and vegetation about 60 miles east of Sacramento. The blaze in steep terrain forced the evacuation of 2800 people and burned multiple structures in the White Meadows area of Pollock Pines. Firefighters dropped record amounts of retardants – more than 203,000 gallons in a single day.

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Symbolic Solidarity with Hong Kong by Occupy San Diego Remnant

October 8, 2014 by Frank Gormlie
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Last night, in “Freedom Plaza” (the Civic Center Plaza), a couple dozen people calling themselves “Occupy San Diego” held a symbolic solidarity demonstration with the protests going on in Hong Kong.

“OSD (heart) Occupy HK” was the slogan. Small tents captured the flavor of the protests held in the Plaza 3 years ago, when up to one hundred tents were pitched on the concrete of City Hall. Chalk expressions had been written on the sidewalks were next to signs at the entrance to the Plaza, reflecting the sayings and artwork of the protests of yore.

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Local San Diego Occupy Activists Holding Third Anniversary – Tuesday, Oct. 7

October 6, 2014 by Staff
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Tuesday Action Also in Solidarity with Hong Kong Demonstrations

Members of the Occupy Wallstreet local group, Occupy San Diego, are holding a third anniversary celebration this Tuesday, October 7 – which will also be a solidarity action in support of the Hong Kong demonstrators who have been occupying streets and government buildings for over a week.

The gathering will be – true to form – at the San Diego Civic Center Plaza – aka “Freedom Plaza”, at 7 p.m. People are asked to bring umbrellas – the symbol of the Hong Kong demonstrations – “to stand in solidarity with the Umbrella Revolution”.

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Obama: Europe’s biggest disappointment

October 3, 2014 by Frank Gormlie
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Why Europeans fell out of love with Obama – and the United States

by Christian Christensen / Aljazeera America / October 2, 2014

As we approach the 2014 midterm elections in the United States — the unofficial start of Barack Obama’s lame duck presidency — it is worth considering how the once giddy European love affair with Obama will come to a close. It might not be in an acrimonious George W. Bush–style divorce, but it is likely to end in disappointment and regret.

Europe had great expectations when Obama became president. A few were met, but most were not.

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October 2, 1968: the Mexico City Massacre – We Won’t Forget

October 2, 2014 by Source

by Daniel Hernandez / Intersections / October 2, 2008

[Forty-six] years ago today the Mexican government opened fire indiscriminately on a crowd of peaceful protesters at the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in Tlatelolco, Mexico City, killing still-unknown numbers of students, bystanders, and demonstrators. The operation was a brutal smashing of the grassroots movement for social reform that had swept across Mexico and the world in that turbulent year, 1968.

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EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS – Oct. 2, 1968: `A brutal massacre’ & U.S. Government’s Role

October 2, 2014 by Staff
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by Malcolm Beith / The News

Clouds loomed as night closed in. By the hundreds, the students streamed into the Plaza de las Tres Culturas. A little past 5:30 p.m., some 10,000 students – not to mention hundreds of workers, farmers and others attending in solidarity – had gathered in the square. Rain splattered down.

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New Owner of OB Hostel Operates Two “USA Hostels”

September 26, 2014 by Frank Gormlie
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By Frank Gormlie

The new owner of the OB Hostel – Dr Hostels LLC – owns a company called “USA Hostels” which operates two well-known hostels. There’s one in San Francisco and one in Hollywood, in LA. The OB property makes it their third property.

We are assuming that the company – which was just incorporated in 2010 and is headquartered in Boulder City, Nevada, will open up an Ocean Beach USA Hostel.

USA Hostels San Franciso

Of the two hostels, USA owns, it seems at first look that their property at 711 Post Street in San Francisco is by far the more substantial. The 5 story building, built in 1907, has 123 rooms and 79 bathrooms including 36,780 square feet. The total assessed value of the entire property is near $8.5 million,

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A Photo Essay of Sunday’s San Diego People’s Climate March – The Time for Change is Now

September 24, 2014 by Staff

By Court Allen

310,000 people marched in NYC Sunday to make politicians and world leaders focus on Climate Change in the upcoming United Nation’s Climate Summit. That’s right – 310,000 people. All in one place. All with one message – the time for change is now.

PIC 1 The Peoples Climate March in NYC – just a few people attending.

Here in San Diego, roughly 1,500 people gathered, marched and added their voice to the cause of Climate Justice. The march went from the Civic Center over to Broadway and then on to the County Administration building along Harbor Drive. Speeches were made, signs were held high, pledges were signed.

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Marjorie Cohn: Obama Declares Perpetual War

September 23, 2014 by Source
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By Marjorie Cohn / Truthout / Sept. 15, 2014

President Barack Obama escalated the drone war he has conducted for the past five and a half years by declaring his intention to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, or ISIL. Since August 8, Obama has mounted at least 154 airstrikes in Iraq. He will send 475 additional US troops, increasing the total number in Iraq to about 1,600.

Obama announced he would conduct “a systematic campaign of airstrikes” in Iraq, and possibly in Syria. But, not limiting himself to those countries, Obama declared the whole world his battlefield, stating “We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are . . . if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

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San Diegans Turn Out for March for the Climate

September 22, 2014 by Source
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By Chris Dallenbach

Sunday was a busy day for activism in San Diego and around the world, as 1,000 or more people filled Civic Center Plaza downtown to demand leadership from government in taking action to stem the tide of climate change, taking part in the People’s Climate March.

The event world-wide featured more than 2,700 demonstrations including an event that drew an estimated 400,000 people in New York City.

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Artificial sweeteners linked to obesity epidemic, scientists say

September 19, 2014 by Source
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Drinking diet soda could cause weight gain, obesity, even diabetes research suggests

CBC News /September 17, 2014 1

Artificial sweeteners may exacerbate, rather than prevent, metabolic disorders such as Type 2 diabetes, a study suggests.

Calorie-free artificial sweeteners are often chosen by dieters in part because they are thought not to raise blood sugar levels.

In Wednesday’s issue of the journal Nature, researchers report that artificial sweeteners increase the blood sugar levels in both mice and humans by interfering with microbes in the gut. Increased blood sugar levels are an early indicator of Type 2 diabetes and metabolic disease.

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United Nations Rebukes America for Criminalization of Homelessness

September 18, 2014 by Source
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By Carey L. Biron / Inter Press Service / News Report / Nation of Change / Sept. 7, 2014

A rebuke comes from the United Nation as a pattern of U.S. homeless laws violates the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination as the majority of the homeless are minorities.

A United Nations panel reviewing the U.S. record on racial discrimination has expressed unusually pointed concern over a new pattern of laws it warns is criminalizing homelessness.

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OB’s Liquid Blue to Host “Earthdance” – Sunday, Sept. 21

September 17, 2014 by Judi Curry
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By Judi Curry

We in Ocean Beach are so fortunate to have Scott Stephens and Liquid Blue living in our community, for this Sunday, Sept. 21- “Earthdance” is returning to San Diego and Liquid Blue is hosting the event. It will happen here in OB and across the world.

It is the world’s biggest “Peace Party” with synchronized music and dance events being held in over 600 locations in 80 countries.

For those of you that are not familiar with “Liquid Blue” let me just tell you that they are an activist musical group that has performed in over 100 countries and are based here. The band headquarters is the “Hippie House” on Sunset Cliffs which was recently designated an “International World Peace Site”.

Before the musical festivities at Winston’s, there are two additional events happening that will begin the day.
…. COME INSIDE FOR MORE

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California Fish Stories – How Some Seafood Has ‘Come back’ and How San Diego’s Bluefin Tuna ‘Is On the Way Out’

September 12, 2014 by Frank Gormlie
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There’s mixed California fish stories right now. There’s good and bad.

Twenty-one species of commercial fish have just come off the ‘watch list’ and are no longer on the ‘avoid list’.

On the other hand, at the same time, the population of Bluefin Tuna – popular here in San Diego – has plunged to just 4% of its historic highs on a worldwide basis.

It was recently announced that 21 commercially important species of West Coast groundfish have been removed from the “Avoid” list.

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Seeing No Neo-Nazi Militias in Ukraine

September 9, 2014 by Source
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Exclusive: With a new Amnesty International report on possible war crimes by a Ukrainian militia against ethnic Russians in the east, the evidence is mounting that the U.S.-backed Kiev regime knowingly deployed extremists, including neo-Nazis, as part of a conscious strategy, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry / Consortiumnews.com/September 8, 2014

In the Ukraine crisis, U.S. and European politicians and media have relentlessly condemned Russia for violations of international standards, particularly Moscow’s acceptance of Crimea’s hasty vote to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia. But the West has gone nearly silent regarding Kiev’s violation of rules for controlling armed militias, including neo-Nazi forces.

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E-cigarette criticisms ‘alarmist’ say British researchers

September 5, 2014 by Source
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Warnings over e-cigarettes are alarmist – and increasing their use could save many lives, British researchers say.

By Nick Triggle / BBC News

For every million smokers who switch to e-cigarettes over 6,000 lives a year in the UK could be saved, according to the University College London team.

Meanwhile another group of London-based experts has attacked criticism of e-cigarettes as “misleading”.

Last week the World Health Organization called for e-cigarette use to be banned in public places and workplaces.

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Less Than Meets the Camera’s Eye – a Former San Diego Journalist’s Recollection of Meeting Reagan and Bush

August 21, 2014 by Source
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What was surprising was Reagan’s ah-shucks, shambling kind of entry walk into the room.”

By Bob Dorn

I’ve met two Presidents of the United States (POTUS, the now fashionably artless acronym via the Secret Service) and they both happened to be Republicans: George HW Bush and Ronald Reagan. I can say with as much confidence as I can name the day I was born that they were far less extraordinary than a lot of other people I’ve met.

I was a nobody who happened to be making a living as a reporter, a more difficult practice these days than it used to be, which is another story, and more difficult to tell than this one. I don’t feel that I earned what I know about the two who appear in the paragraph above. I just happened to be in the right place when they exposed themselves.

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