Tag Archives: California

FTC and State AGs Sue to Block Kroger-Albertsons ‘Mega Merger’

“By suing to block the Kroger-Albertsons merger, the FTC is keeping grocery bills down and workers in their jobs,” said one anti-monopoly campaigner.

By Jake Johnson. Published 2-26-2024 by Common Dreams

The Federal Trade Commission Building, Washington, DC. Photo: Adam Fagen/flickr/CC

The Federal Trade Commission and a bipartisan group of state attorneys general joined forces Monday on a lawsuit aimed at blocking the supermarket giant Kroger from buying up the Albertsons grocery chain, warning the merger would hamper competition, further drive up food prices, and harm workers.

If completed, the $24.6 billion deal would mark the largest supermarket merger in U.S. history at a time when grocery chains are facing growing scrutiny for driving up prices to pad their bottom lines. A Kroger-Albertsons grocery behemoth would control more than 5,000 stores and 4,000 retail pharmacies across the country, according to the FTC.

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Minimum Wage Hikes Will Boost Pay of Nearly 10 Million US Workers in 2024

“These raises are the outcome of over a decade of workers organizing with Fight for $15,” said the National Employment Law Project.

By Julia Conley. Published 12-27-2023 by Common Dreams

Workers and activists march in support of a higher minimum wage. ) (Photo: Steve Rhodes/Flickr/cc)

Tireless campaigning by economic justice advocates helped to secure minimum wage hikes for nearly 10 million U.S. workers starting in 2024, and one think tank noted on Wednesday that further successes at the state and local levels are expected in the coming year—but experts said the federal government must catch up with state legislators to deliver fair wages to all workers.

January 1 will see 22 states increase their minimum wages, providing affected workers with an additional $6.95 billion.

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Experts ‘Terrified’ of AI-Driven Misinformation ‘Tsunami’ in 2024 Election

“If people don’t ultimately trust information related to an election, democracy just stops working,” said a senior fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy.

By Olivia Rosane. Published 1226-2023 by Common Dreams

An ad for a deepfake video maker. Screenshot: OpenAISee

As 2024 approaches and with it the next U.S. presidential election, experts and advocates are warning about the impact that the spread of artificial intelligence technology will have on the amount and sophistication of misinformation directed at voters.

While falsehoods and conspiracy theories have circulated ahead of previous elections, 2024 marks the first time that it will be easy for anyone to access AI technology that could create a believable deepfake video, photo, or audio clip in seconds, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

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‘Unacceptable’: US Homelessness Hits Record High

“Without significant and sustained federal investments to make housing affordable for people with the lowest incomes, the affordable housing and homelessness crises in this country will only continue to worsen,” warned one campaigner.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 12-15-2023 by Common Dreams

A homeless encampment in Minneapolis January 2023 Screenshot: KARE

The number of people in shelters, temporary housing, and unsheltered settings across the United States set a new record this year, “largely due to a sharp rise in the number of people who became homeless for the first time.”

That’s a key takeaway from an annual report released Friday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

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Post-Dobbs Bans Leave 14 States With No Abortion Clinics

A new analnysis shows how “abortion bans, extremist harassment, and the financial realities of operating community-based clinics make it increasingly difficult for independent clinics to stay open.”

By Brett Wilkins Published 12-5-2023 by Common Dreams

Stop Abortion Bans Rally in St Paul, Minnesota May 2019. Photo: Lorie Shaull/flickr/CC

Scores of independent reproductive health centers have been forced to close or stop offering abortion care, with 14 states now having no abortion clinics, a report published Tuesday revealed.

Abortion Care Network (ACN) released its annual Communities Need Clinics report, which details how “abortion bans, extremist harassment, and the financial realities of operating community-based clinics make it increasingly difficult for independent clinics to stay open” after the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court canceled half a century of federal abortion rights in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization a year-and-a-half ago.

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Day After Texas Fire, Report Reveals US Hazardous Chemical Incidents Occur Almost Daily

“Hazardous facilities must be required to do more to protect workers and communities,” said Coming Clean’s federal policy director.

By Jessica Corbett. Published 11-9-2023 by Common Dreams

The Sound Resource Solutions facility made solvents for glue and paint remover.. Photo: @JamaalBowmanNY/X

A shelter-in-place order has been lifted in two Texas counties after a chemical plant fire on Wednesday, which came on the eve of a report showing just how frequent such incidents are across the United States, particularly at sites tied to the fossil fuel industry.

There have been at least 287 hazardous chemical incidents—including explosions, fires, and toxic releases—this year alone, and over 825 since the beginning of 2021, according to the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters’ online database.

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California Public School Students Will Learn About Labor Rights Under First-of-Its-Kind Law

“A.B. 800 empowers young people with the information and tools they need to understand their rights as workers,” said Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher of the California Labor Federation.

By Julia Conley. Published 10-2-2023 by Common Dreams

Photo: eSchool News

While Republican-controlled state legislatures have rolled back child labor protections this year, Democratic lawmakers and rights advocates in California on Monday celebrated Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing of a first-of-its-kind law that they say will make young people less vulnerable to workplace abuses by teaching them about labor protections.

Assemblymember Liz Ortega (D-20) told the Contra Costa News that Assembly Bill 800 is aimed at “giving kids the tools to stand up for themselves” as Republican lawmakers attack unions as well as making it easier for companies to employ children as young as 14 to work in industrial facilities.

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US home insurers are leaving climate risk areas. We need affordable housing now

When the US housing crisis meets the looming insurance crisis, only government intervention will avert catastrophe

By Chrissy Stroop. Published 9-27-2023 by openDemocracy

The Creek Fire burns vegetation near a road on Camp Pendleton, California, Dec., 24, 2020. Photo: Public Domain

Most Americans are aware that with housing costs on the rise, more and more of us are experiencing periods of homelessness. Based on the relative dearth of national coverage, I presume far fewer of us are aware that major insurance companies have begun pulling out of areas identified as being at heightened risk due to climate change, leaving homeowners in the lurch. I wrote about the impact on Florida in July, but it turns out the problem is much larger than a single state, with California also heavily affected.

Over the next few years, it seems likely these two problems – unaffordable housing and unaffordable insurance in at-risk areas – will spiral into a potentially catastrophic cycle. Not only will some Americans be forced to abandon their homes, but the housing in these areas at high risk of damage from storms or wildfires will likely stand empty (as long as homes continue to stand at all), all of which will further drive demand up in a housing market that already prices out far too many people.

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Trump and Big Tech are setting the tone for a violent 2024 election season

Tech giants’ hands-off approach to disinformation does not bode well at a time of growing political violence

By Chrissy Stroop Published 8-30-2023 by openDemocracy

Photo: Fulton County Sheriff’s Office

Donald Trump turned himself in at Fulton County jail in Georgia on Thursday last week, where he was fingerprinted and had a mugshot taken – just like any other accused felon. Obviously, unlike many others in the same situation, he was immediately able to post bond and leave. Nevertheless, the moment was remarkable: it was the first ever mugshot of a former president.

Back in March, before the various investigations had resulted in any indictments, Trump warned there could be consequences if he was indicted, calling on his supporters to “take back our nation”. No 6 January-style mass action has materialised, but as summer winds down in the northern hemisphere, political threats and violence do seem to be ramping up here in the US.

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US Billboard Campaign Blasts Fossil Fuel Giants for Causing Extreme Heat

“From Alaska to Maui, our communities are struggling to survive the rapidly worsening impacts of the climate crisis, all the while, Big Oil is raking in billions at our expense.”

By Julia Conley. Published 8-24-2023 by Common Dreams

A billboard in Austin, Texas shows a U.S. map with high temperatures across the nation. (Photo: Fossil Free Media)

As about 111 million people in nearly two dozen states continued to face heat advisories, with temperatures reaching as high at 115°F in some cities, the nonprofit media lab Fossil Free Media unveiled a multicity campaign with one simple goal: ensuring that all Americans understand that the intense heatwaves across much of the country this summer have not been a natural phenomenon, but the result of continued fossil fuel extraction.

Starting Thursday drivers along stretches of highway in Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Fresno, California will pass by prominent billboards displaying a map of record-breaking temperatures that have been recorded across the U.S. this summer.

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