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Through the cracks journalism

The latest catch.

Universal healthcare supporters see their chance: ‘There’s never been more support’

April 11, 2017

by Jessica Glenza : theguardian – excerpt

After Republicans’ failed attempt to replace Obamacare, activists across the country rally on behalf of a single-payer system: ‘It’s a right, not a privilege’

It was a cold, misty, gray, early spring day in Albany, New York – the kind of bone-chilling, turn-up-the-heat weather that encourages residents to flee to Florida.

But 500 New Yorkers were still out on the sidewalk lobbying for healthcare reform that has long seemed like a pipe dream: government-provided universal health insurance.

“I wanna make sure my children get healthcare,” said Minerva Solla, a 66-year-old organizer with the New York State Nurses Association. “It’s a right, not a privilege.” Moments earlier she riled the crowd with call-backs: “If they don’t pass it? Vote them out!”.

Americans might know the liberal dream as “Medicare for all”. If it ever passed, it could be as comprehensive as the UK’s National Health Service…(more)

Trump aide drew plan on napkin to partition Libya into three

April 10, 2017

By Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Rome and Julian Borger in Washington : theguardian – excerpt

Exclusive: Sebastian Gorka told proposal would be ‘the worst solution’ when he suggested it to senior European diplomat

A senior White House foreign policy official has pushed a plan to partition Libya, and once drew a picture of how the country could be divided into three areas on a napkin in a meeting with a senior European diplomat, the Guardian has learned.

Sebastian Gorka, a deputy assistant to Donald Trump under pressure over his past ties with Hungarian far-right groups, suggested the idea of partition in the weeks leading up to the US president’s inauguration, according to an official with knowledge of the matter. The European diplomat responded that this would be “the worst solution” for Libya.

Gorka is vying for the job of presidential special envoy to Libya in a White House that has so far spent little time thinking about the country and has yet to decide whether to create such a post…(more)

So much for promises to put American first and not meddle in other countries’ affairs. No wonder Trump’s supporters are not happy with the recent turn of events. His associates appear to be hawks in search of blood.

More ‘Shrimp Boy’ fallout: Eight men indicted for alleged bid-fixing scheme

April 9, 2017

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

Eight men, including several heads of construction firms who have done business with The City, have been indicted for allegedly fixing federal and state bids, and in the case of four others, receiving bribes, according to the indictment filed Thursday in U.S. District Court.

The indictment and investigation come out of the FBI public corruption investigation that led to the conviction of Chinatown gangster Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, former state Sen. Leland Yee and former school board member Keith Jackson.

Jackson and former Human Rights Commission Nazly Mohajer, as well as former commission staff member Zula Jones, are all currently facing public corruption charges in state court for their part in allegedly laundering illegal campaign contributions in order to retire Mayor Ed Lee’s 2011 campaign debt…

THE PLAYERS
Butler, head of Butler Enterprise Group, LLC in San Francisco, and Kalafati, president of B Side, Inc. in San Francisco, allegedly lied to the FBI and tried to fix a bid on a federal project at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories, according to the indictment…

Butler, told an FBI source that he “pays Supervisor Breed with untraceable debit cards for clothing and trips in exchange for advantages on contracts in San Francisco,” according to the filing.

Breed previously denied the claim…

AUDITS BY THE CITY
Three of the defendants — Butler, Burch and McKean — had contracts with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which plans to audit their bids, according to SFPUC spokesperson Charles Sheehan…

The City Attorney’s Office did not return calls for comment.

The Port Authority, Mayor’s Office Of Housing, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Public Works and the Office of the City Administrator did not return calls for comments regarding their contracts with Butler and Burch.

All eight defendants are scheduled to make their first court appearance April 17… (more)

The Senate’s experiment with cannabis

April 7, 2017

Art by Burn Rock

Hardliners on Judiciary open up to research on medical pot

Obamacare. Gay weddings. Now pot?

As progressives celebrate a couple of big wins in Washington –  the Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Care Act and legalizing same-sex marriage – another issue has remained firmly stuck at the national level: marijuana legalization. Congress has resolutely opposed the state-level movements toward legalizing marijuana, keeping it a Schedule I controlled substance on par with heroin, LSD and peyote.

But now some of the nation’s toughest law-and-order senators just might be opening the window to cannabis, at least a crack.

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) have all begun speaking up about the need for more clinical research on the marijuana plant compound known as cannabidiol, or CBD. The three sit on the powerful Judiciary Committee, which has a key voice in setting the federal government’s firm stance on pot in all its different forms.

They sent a clear signal in a packed hearing room last week, when the senators took on the tricky issue of CBD, a compound derived from an illegal drug but which many scientists and public health officials believe could treat conditions including cancer, diabetes, chronic pain, and alcoholism. Some parents and doctors have already turned to CBD as an anti-seizure medicine for children who suffer from rare and extreme types of intractable epilepsy… (more)

 

Pot and Pinot Unite

April 6, 2017

Beaux Artists

By Zack Ruskin :sfweekly – excerpt


Wine and weed pairings are coming to pot-friendly Sonoma County now that cannabis is legal for adults in California photo by Zrants

Up in Sonoma County, Sam Edwards gives marijuana the Merlot treatment.

Sam Edwards is a third-generation Sonoma County resident, and while wine will always be the chief export of the region, he’s applying the tasting format to another plant that’s also grown with immense love and care.

For the past two years, Edwards has hosted pairings that offer attendees the chance to taste cannabis without actually getting high, and pairing the plants with suitable wine. The Sonoma Cannabis Company co-founder says the idea is part of a larger mission to appreciate the sensory complexities of various pot strains.

“These cannabis wine pairing dinners are not about consumption,” Edwards explains. “If you’re doing a tasting club for wine in a professional sense…

View original post 78 more words

One San Francisco Politician Is Exploring A Tax On Robots

April 6, 2017

By Ben Schiller : fsatcompany – excerpt

Testing Robots on 17th Street photo by Zrants

Taxing companies that use robots to help pay for the workers they’ve displaced has been floated as a theoretical solution to a post-automation world. Now San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim is looking into whether it’s what the tech capital needs.

With fears about the job-killing effects of automation growing every day, once unthinkable ideas are starting to get an airing. A universal basic income (UBI)–where the government gives everyone enough money to live on–has lots of supporters, especially in Silicon Valley. And now some prominent individuals are calling for a tax on robots. The thinking: If you make robots more expensive, there will be more public funds to help retrain workers (or pay for that basic income)–and the higher cost might keep some companies from buying robots and quickly tanking the employment rate.

Bill Gates recently called for a robot tax in an interview with Quartz, arguing that it could slow the shift to a more robot-centric future, allowing society to catch breath. Moreover, he said, it could raise revenues to pay humans for more human types of work, like looking after children or the elderly…

Kim doesn’t claim that taxing automation is a silver bullet, only that it’s worth pursuing along with other measures, including a basic income guarantee. She supports UBI, but points out that many proposals are un-funded, unlike the robot tax, which both has a social effect (more jobs, less automation) and generates money for other things.

Most of all, Kim–possibly the first public official in America to publicly support a robot tax–is keen to experiment. “We are the center of the tech world here in San Francisco. There is a broad concern about automation and job displacement in the future,” she says. “We want to be the first to put ideas out there, so they can be explored. Then we want others to follow.”…(more)

We are also at the center of robotics. Uber tried testing their self-driving car here, and I am watching a lot of robots under various stages of development being tested on streets in the Mission. One of our local car dwellers has computer lights going off in his car all night. I see him coming back from work, going to the car to change, and ending the day by turning of the computer in his car. The digital lights dance all night.

 

Pelosi Partisans: The Leader’s town hall

April 5, 2017

Po-Ed By David Carlos Salaverry : sfexaminer – excerpt

On Aug. 17, 2011, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi helped kick off the Occupy Movement at Oakland’s Acts Full Gospel Church. The violent  protests months later may have given her second thoughts, when the Obama administration inexorably had to pull the trigger on a Homeland Security crackdown on the encampments the following winter. It is hard to believe Pelosi was not consulted.

So how did Pelosi help kick off Occupy weeks before Zucotti Park, Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza and Justin Herman Plaza? With a trademark “town hall tour,” duplicated recently at Balboa High School.

Pelosi is a political rock star, with a narrow, partisan, geographically localized following. At the Balboa High event, mostly older, white and predominantly female acolytes were passionately supportive. Small heart-shaped pink paper cutouts with “Love you Nancy!” and “Happy Birthday Nancy” signs were everywhere. However, nationally Pelosi was polling 49.8 percent negative to 28.2 percent positive last December, no doubt far higher where it counts: in her home town…

In 2011, though the issue was the intense economic pain three years after the Great Recession and a recalcitrant GOP congress, this time it was the debacle of the 2016 election and the orange GOP monster. However, the crowd was far less respectful.

Three quarters were Pelosi partisans, but the minority was vocal. All of the questions on health care were strongly in support of a single-payer system. But Pelosi ducked and dodged, told rambling anecdotes, changed the subject and never answered with specificity. Those favoring single-payer interrupted, shouting her down several times. But on Russia, there were no opposing speakers. Instead, several leading questions allowed Pelosi and Congressmember Jackie Spier to throw huge chunks of chum to the partisan sharks. This is when it got interesting and — as it did at Acts Full Gospel in 2011 — dangerous… (more)

Good reason to avoid handing over more power to Washington or Sacramento. They don’t listen to us. Watch those state bills that attempt to remove local controls.

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