Editor: This is an updated and edited version of Doug Porter’s daily column “The Starting Line” from the San Diego Free Press. The column here ran yesterday, June 19th.
Grass roots activism around the world leads the news wrap up today. In San Diego, cities around the world and in cyberspace citizens are and have been expressing their frustrations and hopes for a better world.
National Robin Hood Day demonstrations…. Rallies in San Diego and 14 other cities across the country were held yesterday to kick off a national campaign to institute a Wall Street tax that would produce billions for the public good. This Financial Transaction Tax, called the “Robin Hood Tax,” is a levy of less than half of a percent on trades in derivatives, stocks, bonds and foreign currencies. According to the campaign, economists estimate that $350 billion could be raised each year for health care, jobs, education, infrastructure and various other needs, which may help rejuvenate the economy. The campaign states that it is pushing for “a tax for the people.”
These Robin Hood Tax events took place in front of JPMorgan Chase branches because of its recent $2 billion loss from a risky hedge investment. According to the campaign, it is “the latest bank to have the spotlight shone on their reckless behavior that has hurt millions.” Though within the last few months the campaign started reaching the United States, it has been pushed in more than 40 countries over the last two years. Several countries, including the UK, China, Brazil and India have already implemented this tax, while France and Germany have aimed to implement it by 2013.
Caravan for Peace announces cross country trek…As the number of innocent people who continue to die in Mexico because of the failed war on drugs rises to 71,000 , the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD) announced yesterday at a Mexico City press conference that it will lead a month-long “Caravan for Peace” across the United States to draw attention to the drug war policies that have caused a crisis of violence and impunity. The MPJD and dozens of organizations from both countries are joining together to coordinate the Caravan, a more than 6,000-mile journey, leaving San Diego, CA, on August 12th and arriving in Washington, D.C., on September 10th.
Led by victims of the drug war on both sides of the border, the Caravan aims to inspire U.S. civil society to stem the flow of weapons into Mexico, to support humane and health-oriented alternatives to drug prohibition, and to demand more effective, non-violent security strategies. Bi-national respect for justice and human dignity lies at the heart of this initiative, making humane immigration policy another central concern of the Caravan. For more information about the Caravan go here.
Cyberspace vs. Fossil Fuel……Monday, June 18th saw climate and anti-poverty activists participating in a 24-hour “Twitter storm” against the hundreds of billions of dollars of government subsidies paid each year to the petroleum and coal industry, despite the global economic downturn and the rise in emissions.
The blitz, supported by Stephen Fry, Robert Redford, actor Mark Ruffalo, politicians and environmentalists, took the hash tag #endfossilfuelsubsidies up to number two in the ranking of globally trending topics and number one in the US. The online demonstration came as negotiators at the Rio+20 sustainable development conference remained divided over proposals to phase out the provision of public funds to carbon dioxide polluters.
International Energy Agency figures show that government subsidies for fossil fuels are 12 times greater than those for renewable energy. The G20 promised action three years to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, but a new report by Oil Change International, Phasing out Fossil fuel Subsidies in the G20: a Progress Update, suggests they have not yet eliminated any because the definition of “inefficient” is vague.
Health Care for the masses… With the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act due any day now, health care activists are mobilizing to talk about possible courses of action. The Campaign for a Healthy California is kicking off a statewide “Medicare for All” town hall tour today, June 20th, at night at St Paul’s Cathedral (6:30, RSVP here) here in San Diego. There will also be free health care screenings at the same location from 3-6pm.
Reactions to Obama’s immigration order… Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Solana Beach, called the new policy a “backdoor amnesty” saying it would draw more illegal immigrants. A new poll from Bloomberg shows that a majority of Americans agreed with President Obama’s decision to halt deportation of young undocumented immigrants. . The President made a popular move with his announcement last Friday, with 64 percent of likely voters agreeing with the new policy, while just 30 percent disagreed.
Meanwhile, Bilbray issued a prepared statement, saying: “How can anyone expect anyone visiting our country to respect our laws when the administration is unwilling to enforce or chooses to ignore them? This mixed message will only encourage more illegal immigration and contribute to more deaths along the border.”
Along party lines, only Republicans disagreed the move, with 56 percent of likely GOP voters opposed to the policy. Close to 9 in 10 Democrats (86 percent) liked the move. A large majority of independents, 66 percent, backed the decision, while just 26 percent opposed it.
Thus far, the new rule has been a political win for the president, while Mitt Romney – who has refused to say whether or not he would repeal the executive action if elected – is caught between his right-wing base and alienating Latino voters. Yesterday, a Latino Decisions poll showed that enthusiasm for Obama among Latino voters jumped significantly after the announcement.
Activist Gloria Johnson named LGBT person of the year… Assemblymember Toni Atkins honored Ms. Johnson yesterday at a special ceremony on the floor of the State Assembly in Sacramento as the LGBT Person of the Year for the 76th Assembly District.
“Gloria’s was a pioneer on behalf of LGBT equality long before there were award-winning films about LGBT heroes or a President who supported marriage equality,” says Atkins. “She worked in the trenches when being openly LGBT was unpopular and risky. Year after year, her work helped advance our cause. We all owe her a huge debt of gratitude.”
Among Johnson’s many accomplishments is her service as local co-chair of the 1976 campaign to defeat the Briggs Initiative, a measure that would have barred lesbian and gay people from working as public school teachers. Since the 1980’s, she has served on the Executive Board of San Diego’s LGBT Democratic Club, now called San Diego Democrats for Equality, as well as the San Diego County Democratic Party Central Committee. Johnson has participated in the San Diego LGBT Pride Parade for the past 32 years and has been both the parade’s grand marshal and its woman of the year. She is the current president of the San Diego County chapter of NOW.
On June 19th … In 1862 Congress abolished slavery in the U.S. territories. In 1964 The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was approved after surviving an 83-day filibuster in the U.S. Senate. In 1988 over 3,000 East Germans gathered at the Berlin Wall to hear Michael Jackson, who was performing a concert on the other side of the wall in West Berlin.
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.