In-person SF events: Saturday, July 24 – Tuesday, July 27 (from Adrienne Fong)

March for Medicare for All

San Francisco

Saturday, July 24

10:00am – 1:00pm

Meet at:

Ferry Building

1 Ferry Building

San Francisco

March down Market St. to SF Civic Center

Register: March for Medicare for All (San Francisco) · Mobilize

Rally -11:30am – 1:00pm

Civic Center


This event meets ADA standards

Have accessibility questions? Reply to your registration email to confirm your requirements or request more information.

About this event

We are standing in solidarity with those marching across the country!

We will start our day at 10am at the Embarcadero Plaza (1 Ferry Building), march down Market Street to the Civic Center Plaza where the post-march rally will take place 11:30am to 1pm.

Confirmed Speakers (More to come….): Asm. Alex Lee; Chesa Boudin, District Atttorney of San Francisco; Janani Ramachandran, State Assembly Candidate in District 18; Daniel Hilsinger, Singer/Songwriter, Cancer Survivor/lead organizer for March for our Health (Oakland, 2018); Dr. Ana Maria Malinow; Jupiter Peraza, Director of Social Justice Initiatives, The Transgender District; Dr. Ahimsa Porter Sumchai; Aidan Rodriguez-Swanson, Field Representative, Office of Asm. Ash Kalra; Eric Curry (MC), Congressional Candidate, CA-12

Info: Pass M4A Now! San Francisco March & Rally for Medicare for All : Indybay

~      ~      ~      ~      ~      ~       ~


Saturday, July 24 ~ 2:00pm

1398 Hudson Avenue

San Francisco

Mario’s Birthday was, July 22nd. Celebration will be Saturday.

If you wish to leave a birthday greeting call: (415) 323-6009

~      ~      ~      ~      ~      ~       ~

Sunday, July 25

11:30am – 2:00pm

San Francisco Caravan: End the U.S. Blockade of Cuba 


Gather at:

1875 Marin St.


Info: (1) San Francisco Caravan: End the U.S. Blockade of Cuba – U.S. Hands Off Cuba! | Facebook

For endorsements and any questions you can email or call 415-821-6545

For 60 plus years, Cuba has remained under the criminal blockade of the United States government. The world sees the U.S. blockade of Cuba for what it is: an unjust and criminal attack on the sovereignty and rights of the Cuban people.

The Trump administration adopted 243 unilateral measures to further tighten the blockade and strangle Cuba, and the Biden administration has yet to reverse a single one of Trump’s measures.

On Sunday, July 25, Cuban-American anti-blockade travelers and supporters who are trekking 1,300 miles from Miami to Washington D.C. will rally in front of the White House at Lafayette Park to deliver demands and a petition signed by over 25,000 people to the Biden administration. Solidarity caravans and other actions will take place in many U.S. cities in support of this effort.

The impact of the blockade on Cuba is immense—immeasurable in many ways. The economic, financial, and commercial blockading of Cuba impacts all aspects of life for the Cuban people and poses many limitations for Cuban society from being able to reach its maximum potential. Access to building materials, technology, devices, and treatments is severely restricted. In 2020 alone, an estimated $5 billion is estimated in losses because of the blockade.

Sponsored by: ANSWER Coalition – Bay Area, Cuba and Venezuela Solidarity Committee, Bay Area Saving Lives Campaign + Venceremos Brigade – Bay Area

Endorsed by: AROC: Arab Resource & Organizing Center, CODEPINK, Democratic Socialists of America: San Francisco, International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity, Party for Socialism and Liberation – Bay Area, Task Force on the Americas

~      ~      ~      ~      ~      ~       ~

Monday, July 26



*** People’s State of the Nation Address***

12Noon – Mural Painting

1:00pm Rally Program

Philippine Consulate General – San Francisco

447 Sutter St.

(nr. Powell St.)

San Francisco

RSVP: PSONA 2021 Interest Form (

Info: Northern California United People’s State of the Nation Address **LOCATION UPDATED** | Facebook

In solidarity with Bayan USA, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), Malaya Movement, and grassroots Philippine organizations across the Nation, we would like to formally invite you to attend the People’s SONA, short for People’s State of the Nation Address.

People’s SONA (PSONA) functions as an alternative to the president’s State of the Nation Address, and aims to unveil the malicious nature of Duterte’s rule as President of the Philippines. We question Duterte’s competence as leader of the Filipino people and we condemn his administration for prioritizing military and police budgets over the wellbeing of our people back home, among other transgressions. Thus, in response to the rise of Rodrigo Duterte’s attacks on the people our proposed call is, End Tyranny in the Philippines: Duterte, Wakasan na! Through PSONA, we aim to bring together as many people as possible to show that we will not sit idly by as the Duterte regime kills, imprisons, and neglects the Philippine masses

PSONA is a worldwide event, with Filipino-led organizations and allies from all over the globe uniting to call out the lies and offenses of the Duterte regime. By uniting behind and centering the voices of those oppressed and dispossessed by Duterte’s administration, we address the true state of the Philippines, that which Duterte’s State of Nation Address hides behind faux nationalism and countless other falsehoods.

See more info below graphic.

If any of these details spark your interest and you would like to participate/contribute in any way, here are some of the best ways to get involved! 

1.    If you are interested in volunteering please fill out the attached google form that has all the information related to volunteers at PSONA 2021!

a.    Volunteer Google Form: 

1.    If you are interested in attending please fill out this google form to RSVP your attendance! 

a.           PSONA RSVP/Interest Form: 

1.    If you are interested in purchasing a 2021 PSONA shirt, please fill out this google form and to also venmo. Shirts are $20-$30 sliding scale.

a.           Shirt Preorder Form: 

~      ~      ~      ~      ~      ~       ~

Monday, July 26

1:30pm – 2:15pm

Protest for Voting Rights & Economic Justice  

Sen. Feinstein Office

1 Post St. (outside)

San Francisco

Info & Register: Season of Nonviolent Moral Direct Action in San Francisco – Action Network

Masks / social distancing required

Or online livestream with ASL & Closed Captions

Online actions & livestream/recording @ 5 pm PT here

California Poor People’s Campaign will join more than 40 states across the country in a Season of Nonviolent Moral Direct Action in San Francisco demanding that the US Senator Dianne Feinstein pledge to:

1. End the filibuster
2. Pass all provisions of the For the People Act
3. Fully restore the 1965 Voting Rights Act
4. Raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hr

The Poor People’s Campaign is targeting all Senators regardless of party. Senator Dianne Feinstein has defended the filibuster. She has not committed to abolish it.

Info: San Francisco: Protest for Voting Rights & Economic Justice at Sen. Feinstein Office : Indybay

~      ~      ~      ~      ~      ~       ~

Tuesday, July 27

11:00am – 12Noon

END TITLE 42 –Press Conference / Rally

Join us in personSan Francisco City Hall Steps1 Dr. Carleton B. Goodlett Pl.San Francisco
IM4HI is part of the national coalition, Welcome With Dignity.The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will vote on a city resolution to join the end Title 42 campaign.In the next 7 days, we urge the Biden-Harriss administration to rescind Title 42 and reimagine a more humane immigration system. Read more about  Welcome with Dignity Campaign. The U.S. government is blocking access to asylum by using public health authority under Title 42 to evade the refugee laws enacted by Congress, even though public health experts have said there’s no justification for it. We demand a complete end to Title 42 expulsions and announce a 42-day countdown with a deadline of July 28, 2021, calling on the Biden administration to remove all barriers to protection, restore asylum

Info from: Interfaith Movement For Human Integrity

The biggest win for the working class in generations is within reach

The Guardian logo

By Bernie Sanders
Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Now is the time.

At a time when the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider, when two people now own more wealth than the bottom 40% and when some of the wealthiest people and biggest businesses in the world pay nothing in federal income taxes, the billionaire class and large profitable corporations must finally start paying their fair share of taxes.

Now is the time.

At a time when real wages for workers have not gone up in almost 50 years, when over half our people live paycheck to paycheck, when over 90 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured, when working families cannot afford childcare or higher education for their kids, when many Americans no longer believe their government represents their interests, the U.S. Congress must finally have the courage to represent the needs of working families and not just the 1% and their lobbyists.

Now is the time.

At a time of unprecedented heatwaves, drought, flooding, extreme weather disturbances and the acidification of the oceans, now is the time for the US government to make certain that the planet we leave our children and future generations is healthy and habitable. We must stand up to the greed of the fossil fuel industry, transform our energy system and lead the world in combating climate change.

As chairman of the U.S. Senate Budget Committee I fought hard for a $6 trillion budget which would address these and other long-neglected needs. Not everyone in the Democratic caucus agreed with me and, after a lot of discussion and compromise within the budget committee, an agreement was reached on a smaller number. (Needless to say, no Republicans will support legislation which taxes the rich and protects working families.)

While this budget is less than I had wanted, let us be clear. This proposal, if passed, will be the most consequential piece of legislation for working people, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor since FDR and the New Deal of the 1930s. It will also put the U.S. in a global leadership position as we combat climate change. Further, and importantly, this legislation will create millions of good-paying jobs as we address the long-neglected needs of working families and the planet.

Why is this proposal so significant?

We will end the days of billionaires not paying a nickel in federal income taxes by making sure the wealthy and large corporations do not use their accountants and lawyers to avoid paying the massive amounts that they owe. This proposal will also raise the individual tax rate on the wealthiest Americans and the corporate tax rate for the most profitable companies in our country. Under this proposal, no family making under $400,000 a year will pay a nickel more in taxes and will, in fact, receive one of the largest tax cuts in American history.

We will aggressively reduce our childhood poverty rate by expanding the child tax credit so that families continue to receive monthly direct payments of up to $300 per child.

We will address the crisis in childcare by fighting to make sure that no working family pays more than 7% of their income on this basic need. Making childcare more accessible and affordable will also strengthen our economy by allowing millions more Americans (mostly women) to join the workforce.

We will provide universal pre-kindergarten to every three- and four-year-old.

We will end the international disgrace of the United States being the only major country on Earth not to guarantee paid family and medical leave as a right.

We will begin to address the crisis in higher education by making community colleges in America tuition-free.

We will address the disgrace of widespread homelessness in the United States and the reality that nearly 18 million households are paying over 50% of their incomes for housing by an unprecedented investment in affordable housing.

We will ensure that people in an aging society can receive the home health care they need and that the workers who provide that care aren’t forced to live on starvation wages.

We will save taxpayers hundreds of billions by having Medicare negotiate prescription drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry and use those savings to cover the dental care, hearing aids and eyeglasses that many seniors desperately need.

We will rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges, water systems, wastewater treatment plants, broadband and other aspects of our physical infrastructure.

We will take on the existential threat of climate change by transforming our energy systems away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.

This effort will include a nationwide clean energy standard that moves our transportation system, electrical generation, buildings and housing and agriculture sector toward clean energy.

Through a Civilian Climate Corps we will give hundreds of thousands of young people good-paying jobs and educational benefits as they help us combat climate change.

We will fight to bring undocumented people out of the shadows and provide them with a pathway to citizenship, including those who courageously kept our economy running in the middle of a deadly pandemic.

In the midst of the many long-ignored crises that this legislation is attempting to address, we will not have one Republican senator voting for it. Tragically, many Republican leaders in Congress and around the country are just too busy continuing to lie about the 2020 presidential election, undermining democracy by suppressing voting rights, denying the reality of climate change and casting doubts about the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines.

That means that the 50 Democrats in the US Senate, plus the vice-president, will have to pass this most consequential piece of legislation alone. And that’s what we will do. The future of working families is at stake. The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake.

Now is the time.


Issued on: 21/07/2021 – 03:23 (

Boats make their way in front of the Statue of Liberty, which is seen through a cover of wildfire smoke in New York City, New York, U.S., July 20, 2021.
Boats make their way in front of the Statue of Liberty, which is seen through a cover of wildfire smoke in New York City, New York, U.S., July 20, 2021. © REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Text by:NEWS WIRES4 min

Wildfires raging across the western United States and Canada, including a “monster” two-week-old blaze in Oregon, on Tuesday belched smoke and soot that gusted eastward and caused harmful air pollution as far away as New York City.

In 13 western states, more than 80 large active wildfires have charred almost 1.3 million acres (526,090 hectares) of drought-parched vegetation in recent weeks, an area larger than Delaware, according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho.

Several hundred additional fires have burned in western and central Canada. They included 86 classified as out of control on Tuesday in British Columbia alone, leading officials there to declare a state of emergency.

The jet stream and other cross-continental air currents have carried smoke and ash thousands of miles. People in distant cities were feeling the air contamination in their eyes, noses and lungs.

In New York City, where a gray haze shrouded Manhattan’s skyline, the air quality index (AQI) for fine particulate matter reached 170, a level considered harmful even for healthy individuals and nine times above exposure recommendations of the World Health Organization. Philadelphia hit 172.

Other northeastern cities, including Boston and Hartford, Connecticut, had readings in the unhealthy zone above 150. Residents were advised to wear face masks outdoors to limit exposure.

Smoke drifting in the United States from Canadian wildfires in Manitoba and Ontario, likely pushed the AQI in Detroit and Cleveland above 125, considered unhealthy for sensitive individuals, NIFC meteorologist Nick Nauslar said.

Wildfire smoke from Canada’s western provinces reached as far east as Ontario, prompting widespread government air quality warnings.

In the U.S. West, parts of Idaho and Montana suffered from unhealthy levels of air pollution from 40 large blazes nearby and smoke from southern Oregon’s Bootleg fire, currently the largest in the United States.

Heavy exposure to wildfire smoke has been linked to long-term respiratory consequences for firefighters, including a sharply elevated risk of developing asthma, according to a University of Alberta study released this week.

The general population also faces severe health effects.

“Wildfire smoke exposure … increases susceptibility to respiratory infections including COVID, increases severity of such infections and makes recovery more difficult,” federal air resource adviser Margaret Key said by email.

‘Monster’ fire enters 3rd week

The wildfires themselves posed a more direct risk to life and property.

The Bootleg blaze has blackened 388,600 acres (157,260 hectares) of desiccated brush and timber in and around the Fremont-Winema National Forest, about 250 miles south of Portland, since erupting July 6. Only three other Oregon wildfires over the past century have burned more territory.

As of Tuesday, an army of some 2,200 personnel had managed to carve containment lines around 30% of the fire’s periphery, while the blaze expanded farther to the east and north.

Incident commander Rob Allen said in his daily report that tinder-dry fuels within the fire zone would “continue to burn and produce smoke for weeks.”

“Fighting this fire is a marathon, not a sprint,” Allen wrote. “We’re in this for as long as it takes to safely contain this monster.”

At least 67 homes have been destroyed and another 3,400 were listed as threatened, with an estimated 2,100 people under orders to evacuate or be ready to flee at a moment’s notice.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morningSubscribe

The western conflagrations, marking a heavier-than-normal start of the wildfire season, have coincided with record-shattering heat that has baked much of the region in recent weeks and caused hundreds of deaths.

Scientists have said the growing frequency and intensity of wildfires are largely attributable to prolonged drought and increasing bouts of excessive heat that are symptomatic of climate change.

The Bootleg fire is so large that it has at times generated its own weather – towering pyrocumulus clouds of condensed moisture sucked up through the fire’s smoke column from burned vegetation and the surrounding air.

These clouds can spawn lightning storms and high winds capable igniting new fires and spreading the flames.



Past royal efforts are tame in comparison to what Duke of Sussex could unleash on his family

Harry smiles looking back
The Duke of Sussex at the unveiling of a statue of his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, earlier this month. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Caroline Davies Tue 20 Jul 2021 09.39 EDT (

Queen Victoria did it, as did a couple of her granddaughters. And her great-grandson, the Duke of Windsor, famously did so 15 years after his abdication.

So, the Duke of Sussex follows a well-trodden royal path with news that he is penning his “accurate and wholly truthful” memoirs, writing “not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become”.

As shudders, no doubt, convulse Buckingham Palace, the book has a planned publication date in autumn 2022, perfectly timed for the Christmas market, but perhaps not the finale the Queen would have hoped for her platinum jubilee celebrations.

Past royal memoirs are tame in comparison to what Prince Harry could unleash on his family, if his soul-baring screen interviews with Oprah Winfrey are a yardstick.

His efforts are unlikely to compare with Queen Victoria’s published journals, which were by no means scandalous, though she was dissuaded from writing a book about John Brown, the Scottish ghillie and personal attendant to whom she became close in widowhood.

Victoria’s granddaughters, Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, and Princess Marie-Louise, as well as Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester, widow of the Queen’s cousin Prince Henry, all produced “terribly interesting” accounts of royal life, said the royal historian Hugo Vickers, though all non-controversial.

Harry’s musings can best be compared to those of the exiled Duke of Windsor; A King’s Story, published in 1951, and an international bestseller still available on Amazon. His wife, Wallis Simpson, also took up the pen.

“The Duke of Windsor’s was not terribly revelatory or scandalous,” said Vickers, adding that it was beautifully ghostwritten. “I don’t think his or the duchess’s caused any more ructions that you would imagine they would.”

Simpson consulted her former husband when writing her memoirs, though he never wrote his own. “He said: ‘As far as I’m concerned the truth lies at the bottom of the well and anyone who wants to go and look for it is welcome to do so.’ So he did not write anything at all, or ever tell his story,” said Vickers.

Though not especially revelatory, the Duke of Windsor’s account was frowned on given that his mother, Queen Mary, and brother, George VI, were still alive. “By today’s standards it might be regarded as pretty tame,” said Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine. “But 70 years ago, it was seen as all quite shocking, disrespectful and treacherous. I think he saw it as his opportunity to settle scores and did so.”

With Harry reportedly working with the Pulitzer-winning ghostwriter JR Moehringer and the deadline for a first draft rumoured to be in October, its contents are the subject of much speculation, though experts believe that he will be under pressure to up the ante.

“The pressure must be on him to come up with something even more sensational that what we learned from the Oprah interview,” said Little. “It’s hard not to think that Harry would want to redress the balance, as far as he’s concerned, in print, though it’s been done on screen.

“You would think hearts will continue to sink at Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Kensington Palace. I suppose in an ideal world they would have liked a line to be drawn after the Oprah revelations. But clearly that isn’t Harry’s way of doing things. And so this won’t have been great news for Harry’s family.”

He could revisit the racism allegations he has levelled against the royal household. “Then there’s Meghan’s arrival into the spotlight, her becoming girlfriend, then fiancee, then bride. And, of course, he has a lot of demons still about his childhood and the treatment his mother got both at the hand of the establishment and the media. Also, having to leave the army much sooner that he would have liked might also manifest itself.”

Little added: “You would think it is going to be quite a troubled read in a way. You would hope that by the end of it there will be light at the end of the tunnel. He’s been in North America now for 15 months or so, so clearly he feels he’s turned a corner.”

Sarah, Duchess of York, was fiercely criticised when she wrote My Story, detailing her experience at the hands of the press and the breakdown of her marriage to Prince Andrew. She was accused of cashing in on her royal connections. Harry’s publisher, Penguin Random House, have said proceeds are going to charity.

For the Duke of Windsor, his memoirs brought him back into the spotlight after years of relative obscurity. And, as with any memoir, there are different versions of the story.

So, as Buckingham Palace awaits Harry’s book, it will no doubt think back to the Queen’s diplomatic words following the Oprah revelations, when she said: “Some recollections may vary.”

How do governments create money out of thin air?

Jonathan Smith|TED-Ed (| July 2021

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic rocked economies worldwide. Millions of people lost their jobs, and many businesses struggled to survive or shut down. Governments responded with some of the largest economic relief packages in history— the US alone spent $2.2 trillion on a first round of relief. So where did all this money come from? Jonathan Smith explores the strategy of quantitative easing. [Directed by Serin İnan, Kozmonot Animation Studio, narrated by Addison Anderson, music by Deniz Doğançay].


Jonathan Smith · Educator


TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators.

Guest Opinion: Why I oppose recall of DA Chesa Boudin

by Bevan Dufty Wednesday Jul 21, 2021 (

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. Photo: Rick Gerharter

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

In just about seven weeks, Californians will head back to the polls to vote whether to recall Governor Gavin Newsom. I appreciate our lieutenant governor, Eleni Kounalakis, for setting an expeditious date so we can swiftly move on from this Republican recall.

While there certainly have been Democrats and independents who signed recall petitions, the reality is that a flood of right-wing Republican money — much of it from Donald Trump donors and the Republican National Committee — fueled the process leading to the ballot. And now, California taxpayers must spend at least $276 million on an election that instead could actually help people and small businesses who continue to suffer from the impacts of COVID-19.

Has there been any legitimate reporting about the Newsom recall finding anything positive about this sideshow of a campaign? Or, with the prominence of Caitlyn Jenner, should we file this under another example of politics turned into a reality show à la Trump?

Unfortunately, the end of the gubernatorial recall won’t mark the end of Republican recalls. Here in San Francisco, there is another effort, similarly funded by Republican mega-donors, to recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin.

And while there are recall supporters who are not Republicans, the catalyst is again money coming from forces who fundamentally want to maintain the status quo of a deeply unjust justice system.

In 2019, Boudin ran on an agenda for criminal justice reform coupled with common sense policies that reduce crime. And the voters of San Francisco gave him a clear mandate to advance this work.

These reforms were desperately needed: disproportionate treatment of Black and Brown people in arrests, prosecutions, and lifetimes of incarceration isn’t just a trend of a few decades — it has taken place over centuries in America. Many in our LGBTQ+ community are in desperate need of criminal justice reform now.

The process to undo this unjust treatment has only begun — here in San Francisco and across the nation. Yet even as District Attorney Boudin set to do this hard work, he was confronted with tremendous challenges.

A backlog of 5,593 open cases — including 1,127 that were more than two years old — got even worse when COVID hit and courts largely shut down. Mandated shelter in place posed a challenge to every part of our government, and the loss of employment and business hit our most vulnerable residents hard.

The fact that almost the entirety of Boudin’s tenure has occurred under these circumstances speaks to how farcical this recall is.

To his credit, Boudin still managed to move forward on a number of priorities: expanding victims services, prosecuting public corruption, supporting survivors of domestic violence and holding perpetrators of sexual assault accountable, among other achievements.

And he’s worked to expand community outreach and programs that make our city safer, such as a community liaison program that connects prosecutors, investigators, and other staff in every supervisorial district.

In 2019, it happened that I had worked for many years with another candidate in the race for district attorney — Suzy Loftus. She had my vote, but I also respected the issues and fundamental change that Boudin’s campaign articulated.

Over the past year and a half, I have had the opportunity to work with our DA and he has been hard working, responsive, and thoughtful. His door is open, and I’ve seen him be active and go throughout this city, even when a group has been critical.

In two years, DA Boudin will come before the voters when he will be eligible for reelection. At that time, Boudin will have the opportunity to present his record of accomplishments and other candidates will have the opportunity to present their platforms and records.

Recall supporters want to short circuit that process — and divert our attention from the meaningful solutions that can make our city safer. The truth is that reform and change must come from so many areas of government. It’s not just the district attorney.

San Franciscans realize that we can’t arrest our way out of mental illness, addiction, and homelessness. This year’s city budget, agreed to by Mayor London Breed and the Board of Supervisors, represents the biggest change by dramatically increasing investments in crisis intervention, mental health services, and most of all, housing.

Our city should be accountable and transparent to show that we are doing our share to improve public safety. This recall will only distract from the hard work we need to do to achieve that.

Thank you for considering the reasons why I oppose the recall of our district attorney.

Bevan Dufty, a gay man, previously represented District 8 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He is currently an elected member of the BART Board of Directors and an elected member of the committee that oversees the local Democratic Party. The views expressed here are his own.

Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. To support local, independent, LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.


Including Prayer of Apology to African Americans [towards the end of the video].

Marianne Williamson July 14, 2016 Including Prayer of Apology to African Americans. Internationally acclaimed author, lecturer and activist Marianne Williamson gives weekly lectures based on A Course in Miracles, Live in New York City and via Livestream, on Tuesdays at 7:30pm ET. Go here to join live or via livestream:

I just flew for the first time since COVID. It was disgusting

Travelers crowd into a gate while waiting to board their flight at Oakland International Airport in January.
Travelers crowd into a gate while waiting to board their flight at Oakland International Airport in January.Jessica Christian/The Chronicle 2020

By Matthew Fleischer

July 4, 2021 (

I didn’t want to fly. I really didn’t. COVID had kept me earthbound for over a year, and I was fine with it. I was vaccinated now, sure. But the idea of huffing everyone’s breath for hours at a time still didn’t appeal. Nor was I in a hurry to participate in the pumping of metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere while deluding myself into pretending that was OK.

But circumstances demanded I take a quick trip between San Francisco and L.A. — and transit options were limited.

Sure, Amtrak runs between Oakland and L.A. But the ride takes 12 hours. And there’s only one daily route that sucks up an entire work day.

Buses, meanwhile, go faster. But they aren’t running nearly as frequently as they used to. And, no, I did not want to take an overnight trip and show up to work at 5 a.m. smelling like the Greyhound, thank you.

I don’t own a car. Renting one and driving solo was even more expensive than flying. And it was the worst option possible from a climate perspective.

So a flight it was. And the experience was even more miserable than I remembered it.

COVID lockdowns felt restrictive at times, of course. But nothing, I realized, like the old normal of being herded like a farm animal from one absurdist queue to the next.

Yes, taking our shoes off to go through security is still a thing. Yes, we’re still doing those invasive body scans. Yes, we’re still getting wanded and patted down if we leave so much as a scrap of paper in our pockets. And, yes, the lines to participate in this security theater are back to being an hour long, and not even remotely socially distanced.

Things don’t get much better onboard. Everyone was still crammed on top of one another in seats built for children. There was the same manic jockeying for overhead space and armrest position. People still sociopathically lower their seats right into your lap.

And the surfaces. So many surfaces that can’t avoid being touched. I couldn’t even look at the bathrooms.

Even the mildest cough in my vicinity brought levels of anxiety I hadn’t felt in months.

How absurd that this dehumanizing, greenhouse gas-pumping germ factory remained the best option for moving people across California. If ever there was a reminder how badly we need high-speed rail, this was it.

The Bay Area to Los Angeles was the ninth-busiest flight corridor in the world in 2019. More than 2 million people make the trip annually in non-pandemic years. And it is almost impossible for the airline industry to green this mass migration.

None of these realizations are new, of course. They’re the reason the majority of us voted to fund high-speed rail in the first place in 2008. But they feel even more urgent in the wake of COVID.

Construction woes and political wrangling have turned California rail into something of a national joke. But I think I can safely speak for most Californians when I say that it’s not high-speed rail we’re sick of. Our ire is reserved for state leaders who cannot or will not bring this project home.

The latest rail saboteur is Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, who fired off a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg last week asking for permission to forgo overhead electrification on large portions of the route. Rendon argued that battery technology would render these investments obsolete in the coming years.

Except that’s not how high-speed trains work. Now or in the future.

Rendon and other L.A. officials are just trying to siphon off funds for pet rail projects in their districts — and are willing to compromise the efficacy of the entire system to do so.

This isn’t to suggest that high-speed rail in California is going well. The decision to start building in the Central Valley instead of the high-traffic corridors of L.A. or the Bay was a mistake born of out of political expediency instead of smart transportation planning.

Unfortunately, we’re stuck with that decision. And we’re not going to solve it with more political expediency. Abandoning the billions in investments that have already been made is absurd. Especially with a state budget surplus of $76 billion and the prospect of billions more in federal dollars at our fingertips should Biden pass an infrastructure bill.

Besides, the real boondoggle is the airline industry. It took over $50 billion in government handouts to survive the pandemic, with most of those funds earmarked to avoid laying off employees. Then it laid off thousands of workers anyway. And that’s when its planes aren’t dumping fuel on schoolchildren in California communities of color.

High-speed rail construction in California is a mess. But the status quo is a nightmare. Take a flight in the middle seat if you don’t believe me.

Matthew Fleischer is The San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial page editor. Email: Twitter: @MatteFleischer

Matthew Fleischer is The Chronicle’s editorial page editor. He came to the paper from the L.A. Times, where he spent six years as senior digital editor of the Opinion team – writing, editing and collaboratively planning stories to resonate with an online audience. 

Prior to joining The Times, Matthew was a staff writer for LA Weekly and an investigative reporter for the watchdog site Witness L.A., where his work helped expose the abuse and corruption in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department that led to the convictions of Sheriff Lee Baca and Undersheriff Paul Tanaka for obstruction of justice. 

His work has been honored by the Overseas Press Club Foundation and Investigative Reporters and Editors. When he’s not writing or editing, he’s wandering, usually by foot.

HEARST newspapers logo

©2021 Hearst