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Action: Tell the FCC and Congress You Support Net Neutrality

Here is a special action page that pipes your personal comments into the FCC electronic filing system for public comments on net neutrality, and forwards your comments to all your members of Congress at the same time.

We have already seen blatant moves towards making a two-tier toll road out of our wide open democratic internet, as when Comcast started discriminating against particular users recently and Warner Cable began experimenting with metering. Nor have the service providers shied away from censorship, as when the AT&T blocked Pearl Jam's criticism of Bush, and when Verizon censored NARAL's pro-choice text messages. This is a chance to counter the high-priced lobbyists and the avarice of the telcoms and cable companies.

Net Neutrality FCC Comments (anyone can use this link):

Facebook Users:

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Media: Times' Shakeup # 2,143

As reporting goes, this is pretty cheesy (on my part), but what the heck: daily journalism being essential to a viable community life, you need to know that
A source told E&P [Will LAT's Stanton Replace O'Shea? (E&P)] that Russ Stanton is the frontrunner to replace James O'Shea, who was fired over the weekend in a shakeup at the Los Angeles Times. Stanton has been innovation editor at the paper since January 2007, and is in charge of editorial content at latimes.com. Before that he was business editor. Forbes: The honeymoon is over at Tribune, writes Louis Hau. NYT: The ousted editor of the Los Angeles Times on Monday offered a scathing critique of the newspaper industry and specifically his longtime employer, the Tribune Company, arguing that cost cuts, a lack of inve stment and an aversion to serious news was damaging the business. LAT: Tribune Co. chairman Sam Zell on Monday backed Los Angeles Times publisher David D. Hiller's decision to replace the newspaper's editor. LA Observed: O'Shea's remarks to newsroom. E&P: Former Los Angeles Times editor John Carroll said the weekend dismissal of editor Jim O'Shea "affects morale." Chicago Tribune: Hiller said in an interview Monday that he would "love to say we can spend more or spend the same every year, and I don't th ink that's realistic" given the economic realities of the news business.
This comes from MediaBistro's Daily Media News Feed, essential reading for anyone in journalism, tv or public relations in any of the municipalities where such crimes occur.

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Equal Access: Meraki to Tackle City-wide Wi-Fi for San Francisco

If municipalities in Europe and Asia can routinely provide wi-fi, sooner or later we will be forced to catch up here. Could it be that this is a service, like water, power, police and fire protection, education, parks, libraries and prisons, that is better suited to organization as a public service than a business?

City-wide Wi-Fi might not be a pipe dream for San Francisco residents after all. After successfully rolling out mesh networks in 6 San Francisco neighborhoods, Meraki Inc. has announced its plans to blanket the entire city with coverage by the end of 2008.

Google and Earthlink hatched a similar plan for a municipal Wi-Fi project last year that ultimately fizzled. However, Meraki believes that by bypassing coverage for the public safety sector, relying on volunteers, and installing dozens of wireless gateways on rooftops it can rapidly roll out coverage.

...be sure to visit Meraki's website.

The rest of the story: Wired

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Public Access: NYC's Biggest Hotspot

Just when it seemed like citywide Wi-Fi was kaput, the wireless Internet technology has come to New York City.

On Thursday, CBS announced the creation of a 20-block wireless high-speed network in Manhattan. Dubbed the "CBS Mobile Zone," it stretches from Times Square to the southern portion of Central Park. Within the zone, people with Wi-Fi-enabled cell phones, laptops or PDAs will be able to access the Internet and make calls over the Internet for free. CBS has committed to a six-month trial of the technology.

The experiment should provide hope for boosters of municipal Wi-Fi following the recent bust-up of Wi-Fi projects in Chicago, Houston, San Francisco and St. Louis. EarthLink, once a high-profile backer of the technology, is grappling with a restructuring that has left planned projects in Chicago and Houston in the lurch. Projects in San Francisco and St. Louis have been delayed and downsized, due to technical issues and city politics.

The rest of the story: Forbes

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Red Cross volunteer information

The American Red Cross of Santa Monica has responded to the brush fires in Malibu and other Southern California communities by making training available for new disaster workers, among other activities. It has already placed staff and volunteers in fire-struck areas, but more help is needed throughout Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Diego counties. Volunteers who have had no formal American Red Cross disaster training must take two 3-hour classes, in Mass Care and Shelter Operations, before they can take part in a relief operation. Classes will be held Thursday, October 25; Tuesday, Saturday, October 27; Tuesday, October 30 and Thursday, Nov 1st at the Santa Monica chapter at 1450 11th Street in Santa Monica. Call 310-394-6571 for the class schedules, times, registration and other information.

Persons who have taken these classes previously, such as after Hurricane Katrina, are still eligible for "disaster duty." Those wishing to go out to a brush fire location and volunteer should call the Santa Monica chapter at 310-394-3773 and ask to sign up.

The Santa Monica chapter is located at 1450 11th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401; 310-394-3773.

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Links: Southern California Wildfire Resources

Senator Barbara Boxer has put together links to Southern California Wildfire Resources:

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Maps: California Is Burning

Google has added the fires to its maps: <http://tinyurl.com/3b3a2k>

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The Coast: In Beach Enclave, Affluent Are Split Over Effluent

By Regan Morris (New York Times, 2007-09-25)

RINCON POINT, Calif. — Septic tanks or sewers? The question of how to treat wastewater in this exclusive beachfront community is pitting neighbors, surfers and environmentalists against one another.

Sewers would cost residents like Brook Harvey-Taylor and her husband, Billy, who oppose them, about $80,000 per home.

Surfers have long complained about getting sick at the world-class surf break here that straddles Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. And blame for the pollution has long been laid on the septic tanks of the multimillion-dollar homes in the gated enclave of Rincon Point.

After nine years of debate and several lawsuits, homeowners are to vote next month on whether to convert from the tanks to a sewer system. While most residents appear to back the conversion, a vocal group of residents is questioning its wisdom, with several saying they feel bullied into paying for an expensive system that would only encourage more development and more pollution.

“There is no evidence that our septic tanks are polluting anything,” said a homeowner, Billy Taylor, who with his wife, Brook Harvey-Taylor, is a surfer and an outspoken opponent. “Are we cleaning up the ocean? Or are we just moving our waste into another part of the ocean?”

The rest of the story: The New York Times.

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Scientific Evidence of the Health and Fitness Benefits of Hot Tubs

“Not only does swimming slow down the aging process – by upwards of 20% in some cases -- in terms of respiration, muscle mass, bone density, cardiovascular activity and neurological function, but there’s also evidence to suggest that it increases mental health and even spiritual and social health.” -- Dr. Joel M. Stager, Medical Director, St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute, Spokane Washington


16 TO 19 ft Swim-in-Place Workout Pool Offers Multi-Taskers Multi Benefits Making the Most of Exercise Space and Time

What is more efficient than a swimming pool, more sophisticated than a hot tub and safer than a backyard playground? Dimension One Spa’s revolutionary Aquatic Fitness Systems® is an aquatic exercise machine for the backyard where you can safely swim, walk, run, stretch, row, strength train and relax!

The line’s flagship model -- the AquaFit® 19 Dual Temp – is the ultimate hybrid of fitness and hydrotherapy. Environmentally Advanced Undeniably BeautifulThis unique 19-foot high-tech tub makes it possible to swim stationary laps; row for a robust upper body and arm workout; attach specially designed bands for resistance training; run or jog in place for cardiovascular conditioning – all in cooler water. Then when your routine is done, muscles can be soothed with a relaxing hydrotherapy body massage in the hot tub section of the pool. This watery workout is an ideal environment for low impact exercises to tone, shape and enhance flexibility, while the body is suspended in buoyant security. Ideal for weekend warriors; aging boomers; overweight exercisers and athletes needing rehabilitation, D1 offers three models of the pool -- the AFS 16, 19 and 19 DT – and their retail price ranges from $29,000 to $39,000.

Superior to a traditional “swim spa” because of its multiple functions and sophisticated design, the AFS has garnered substantial industry recognition. The Society of Plastic Engineers granted the AFS a “People’s Choice Award,” Consumer’s Digest designated the AFS the “Best Buy in Portable Spas” in the Premium Products Category and the Robb Report included the pool in a “Best of” issue.

Effective and efficient, the D1 Spa’s AFS swim spa takes up less space than a conventional pool and can be installed inside or outside the home. The pool’s Swim, stretch, row, relaxUltralife slip-resistant interior is surrounded by a durable, all-weather exterior, making the tub adaptable to either above ground or below ground installation. High volume swim jets are positioned to provide lift as well as current. The 100% insulated tub uses a stainless steal heater—the most reliable on the market – providing optimal heat recovery and lower energy consumption. And, pure, clean water year-round is easily achieved with an E-Z Lock filter cartridge and the ozone purification system, allowing the owner to use fewer chemicals than most competitive products.

Mary E. Sanders, PhD Professor at the University of Nevada’s School of Medicine and Public Health is known in fitness circles as the “water fitness guru.” The research her team has done with groups of aquatic exercisers over the years underscores the fact that water can be used as a liquid weight machine with unique benefits. “Water’s buoyancy reduces impact and supports the body for increased range of motion,” she explains. “And, the natural resistance of water (the harder you press the harder, the water presses back) provides an individualized personal training environment. Water’s viscosity or “thickness” -- being about 800 times greater than air – makes it an effective exercise environment in which to build muscular endurance. And using resistance tethers, like those featured in the AFS pool, provides additional core stabilization work.”

D1’s founder, Bob Hallam, is clear about his target market for AFS: “Baby boomers are the most health & lifestyle conscious group of people in history. They spend more on working out, plastic surgery, health care and vacations than any other generation. And now with options like the AFS, they can achieve wellness efficiently and safely, in their own backyards.”

Hallam also notes that his customers are choosing priorities carefully. “One couple who bought an AFS from us lives in a mobile home near a beautiful apple orchard in Northern California,” he says. “They told us they invested $30,000 in this pool because of the real and essential relief using it brings to the husband’s chronic back condition.”

When it comes to getting the most out of your exercise space and time, the AFS just makes sense. Dr. Joel M. Stager, Medical Director of the St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane Washington, who has studied the effects of aquatic activities among athletes and people in need of recovery from injuries or ailments for the past 30 years said it best: “Simply being submersed in water up to the neck increases cardiac output by more than 30 percent in a sedentary individual. So, just by sitting in water, the hydrostatic pressure on your body and being in a buoyant state benefits the body.” How much more beneficial would using an aquatic exercise machine at your own home be?

Dimension One Spas® (D1®) was founded in 1977 in Vista, California by Bob and Linda Hallam. By combining innovations in materials science and water handling technology, D1 has set an industry benchmark and today is the leader in designing and manufacturing luxury home hydrotherapy and aquatic fitness products. The family-owned business is dedicated to bringing customers the most advanced spas in the world -- engineered to rejuvenate both body and mind.

D1 spas and aquatic fitness products are now sold through a network of more than 200 dealers in the United States and 450 dealers worldwide in 35 countries. The company's four product lines include a selection of home hydrotherapy (ranging from $5,000-$18,000) and aquatic fitness products (ranging from $29k-$39k) that meet a variety of consumer needs and budgets: D1 Reflections®, D1 Bay Collection®, AFS- Aquatic Fitness Systems® and @ Home Hot Tubs®.

Holding more than 30 patents – more than any other company in the industry – D1 has earned accolades and awards from Consumer’s Digest, Robb Report, Poolandspa.com, Quality Buy and more, and in 2004 Bob Hallam was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year. D1 proudly supports Vision of Children, a national organization dedicated to the eradication of blindness and vision disorders in industrialized nations. For more information about Dimension One Spas, its hot tub products and practices for health, fitness, swimming and romance, please visit DimensionOne.com.

# # #


Total Wellness: Aquatic exercise is a medically proven solution to boosting one’s mental, physical and emotional well-being. Scientific studies reveal many impressive health benefits of exercise, which include healthier bones and muscles, a leaner body, radiant skin, a strong immune system, fast recovery from illness, and a higher quality of life.

Cardiovascular Health: Water Fitness Guru Mary E. Sanders (PhD, University of Nevada’s School of Medicine and Public Health) deems water an effective and safe liquid weight machine whose thickness and natural resistance reduces impact during activity while increasing range of motion and promoting muscular endurance.

Extensive studies by Dr. Joel M. Stager (Medical Director, St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Washington) reveal that the hydrostatic pressure and buoyant state of being submersed in water increases cardiac output in a sedentary person by more than 30 percent.

Arthritis: New research by Marlene Fransen, PhD, explains that water therapy alleviates joint pain and directly improves one’s physical performance and function. The Arthritis Foundation, in fact, endorses water exercise as an ideal way to relieve arthritis pain and stiffness without harming joints. The Aquatic Fitness System drastically reduces excess strain on joints and muscles, and offers soothing therapeutic treatments provided by state-of-the-art massaging jets.

Diabetes: A recent study by SoJung Lee suggests aquatic activity can help lower the risk of deadly diseases by 44 percent through exercise that increases the vitality of the heart and lungs. Findings show that a fit heart and lungs decrease one’s chance of acquiring diabetes and related maladies, and further reflect low blood pressure and high HDL “good” cholesterol.

Sleep: Soaking in warm water is a natural, safe way to enhance deep sleep and ease sleep-related problems, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Water’s relaxing properties of buoyancy help promote sleep through the alleviation of pressure on joints and muscles, and by the creation of a peaceful, weightless sensation. Unlike sleeping aids, warm water is an organic and healthy remedy for sleep deprivation.

Weight Management: A recent study titled “Effects of Aquatic Exercise and Walking in Sedentary Obese Women” (published in the February 2007 launch of the International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education) examines weight loss resulting from a separate aquatic and land-based walking program. Participants in both the water and land-based groups significantly improved their total body weight, cardiorespiratory fitness, flexibility, strength and quality of life. The aquatic walking group, however, recorded slightly higher body weight losses, improvements in flexibility and greater attendance rates.

Back Pain: A study by Gerhard Strauss-Blasche, PhD, published in the Clinical Journal of Pain, finds exercise therapy to be an effective treatment for chronic back pain. Water exercise specifically prevents and reduces back pain by relieving the weight-baring effects of gravity on the lower extremities and spine. The built-in massage jets of the Aquatic Fitness System further reduce pain with varying bursts of water that offload the spine and buffet the body’s soft tissue.

Depression: Improved mental health is directly linked to the performance of fitness activities, including those done in water, according to a recent study called “The Influence of Exercise on Mental Health” by Dr. Daniel M. Landers (PhD, Arizona State University). An important conclusion of the study is that exercise is powerful in reducing mental ailments such as anxiety and depression.

Prenatal Health: A Journal of Perinatal Education study reports that aquatic exercise during pregnancy benefits both mother and baby, as psychological stress levels can lower and thus reduce complications including adverse fetal outcome.


Submitted by
Mary E. Sanders, Ph.D., FACSM
Associate Professor, Division of Medical Nutrition
Dept. of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine
Adjunct Professor, School of Public Health
University of Nevada, Reno
Director, WaterFit/Wave Aerobics

Exercising in water improves respiration performance because the breathing mechanism must work harder when immersed, respiratory strengthening occurs. (Becker & Cole, 1997)

Effects on the circulatory and autonomic nervous systems facilitate improvements in muscle blood flow and increase the rate of removal of metabolic waste and injury products from deep within muscle tissues so normal and exercising muscles and ligaments experience beneficial effects (Becker & Cole, 1997).

Effects of immersion promote the excretion of metabolic wastes; assist with regulation of sodium, potassium, and water; and generally can lower blood pressure. (Becker & Cole, 1997).

Participants with chronic low back conditions, reported less pain after water training, with improvements in the quality of life for ADL (Ariyoshi et al., 1999; Landgridge & Phillips, 1988; Smit & Harrison, 1991).

Running in shallow water is rated in the “top 12” most strenuous exercises in terms of number of kcal expended per minute: Running in shallow water, 1.3 m depth, no buoyancy vest, maximal effort expends approximately 17.1 kcal/minute. (MacArdle, Katch, & Katch, 1999) Sports & Exercise Nutrition, Baltimore, LWW).

Women aged 55 and older improved their land-based functional skills such as stair climb, agility, sit-to-stand, speed walking, flexibility, and balance skills after only 16 weeks of water exercise training in shallow water. Participants also significantly improved strength and educed body fat with the training (Sanders, M. 1998 &2006).

Ten weeks of progressive aquatic resistance training targeting the lower body (using equipment for overload), resulted in significant improvement in muscular strength/endurance for 24 women, average age 34 years (Poyhonen, T., et al, 2002).

Older adults (age 60-75 years, average age 68 years) experienced a 6% improvement in back extension strength after 12 weeks, 3 days a week, 60 minutes per session by performing self- paced, vigorous shallow water exercise that included walking backwards. Additionally, their subjects improved significantly in cardiorespiratory endurance and body composition, muscle power for knee extension/flexion, vertical jumping, side step agility (Takeshima, N., M.E. Rogera, E. Wantanebe, W. F. Brechue, A. Okada, T. Yamada, M. M. Islam, J. Hayano 2002) Water-based exercise improves health-related aspects of fitness in older women Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 33(3), pp. 544-551)

Combining Turf & Surf for Weight Management: During another study, Nagle and colleagues (2003) combined diet plus water exercise and walking for a weight loss program. Forty-four obese, sedentary women with a BMI of 34.9, (mean age: 40 years), were randomly assigned to an aquatic exercise + walking on land group or a land walking only group for 16 weeks. The combined group (water exercise + land walking) participated in 2 shallow water exercise classes per week and the walking only group participated in 2 supervised walking classes per week. Both groups performed 3 sessions of land walking per week at home. According to Dr, Nagle, the pool exercises targeted cardiorespiratory training, were self-paced, and progressive with average intensity equivalent to walking about 4 miles per hour, or faster on land (moderate to vigorous). Sessions progressed from 20- 60 minutes over 16 weeks. Diet was controlled for reduced energy intake.

Both groups decreased body weight: combined water + land lost approximately 6.8 kg or 14.9 lbs while and land only group lost 5.6 kg or about 12.3 lbs. Both groups also improved in flexibility, lower body muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance. (Nagle, E.F., A.D. Otto, J.M., Jakicic, R.J. Robertson, F.L. Goss, J.L. Ranalli (2003) Effects of aquatic plus walking exercises on weight loss and function in sedentary obese females. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 35(5), May, S136, Abstract 753)

Trunk Core Training: During a study by Masumoto and colleagues (2003), participants who walked backwards, were measured using electromyography. Groups included walkers: on land, in water (xiphoid depth) without current and with a current applied (flume). Levels of muscle activity for the paraspinal muscles (erector spinae) while walking backwards with a current in shallow water were significantly greater when compared to walking on land. Water walking backwards, can possibly provide effective training for healthy backs and improved posture. (Masumoto, K., S. Takasugi, N. Hotta, K. Fujishima, Y. Iwamoto, Electromyographic analysis of walking backward in water. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 35(5), May, Abstract 1356, S141.)

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California: 39 counties' vote systems in question

L.A.'s InkaVote method may be recertified, but others face starting from scratch with a primary election looming.
By Hector Becerra and Jordan Rau, (Los Angele Times, 2007-08-05)

County election officials scrambled on Saturday to develop contingency plans for the February presidential primary election after California's secretary of state imposed broad restrictions on electronic voting machines that she said are susceptible to hacking.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertified the voting machines used in 39 counties, including Los Angeles County's InkaVote system.

She said some of the systems could be recertified in time for the primary if new security upgrades are made.

L.A. County's system, with which voters use ink devices to mark ballots that are tabulated with a scanner, could be recertified by February. The county did not submit the system for an audit by Bowen's office, and that appears to be why it was decertified.

But Bowen's rules so strictly curtail the use of some machines that some counties on Saturday mulled a return to paper ballots for the February vote.

The rest of the story: The Los Angeles Times

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2008: California Proposal Could Sway Outcome of Race

By Michael R. Blood (Associated Press, 2007-07-31)

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A Republican-backed ballot proposal could split left-leaning California between the Democratic and GOP nominees, tilting the 2008 presidential election in favor of the Republicans.

California awards its cache of 55 electoral votes to the statewide winner in presidential elections - the largest single prize in the nation. But a prominent Republican lawyer wants to put a proposal on the ballot that would award the statewide winner only two electoral votes.

The rest would be distributed to the winning candidate in each of the state's congressional districts. In effect, that would create 53 races, each with one electoral vote up for grabs.

California has voted Democratic in the last four presidential elections. But the change - if it qualifies for one of two primary ballots next year and is approved by voters - would mean that a Republican would be positioned the following November to snatch 20 or more electoral votes in GOP-leaning districts.

That's a number equal to winning Ohio....

Democratic consultant Chris Lehane called the plan "an effort to rig the system in order to fix the election.''

"If this change is made, it will virtually guarantee that a Republican wins the White House in 2008,'' Lehane said

Nineteen of the state's 53 congressional districts are represented by Republicans. President Bush carried 22 districts in 2004, while losing the statewide vote by double digits....

The rest of the story.
Although this proposal is being made in order to help the national Republicans in case of a close race in the electoral college, it is clearly more democratic than the current winner-take-all system. But even better would be proportional representation; not only would apportioning the vote on the basis of the real tally be fairer to Democratic and Republican voters, but it would mean that voters who support Green, Peace and Freedom, or independent candidates could send their delegates to the electoral college where, again if a race is close, they might turn out to be decisive. -- J.

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Planning: The McMansion - Threat or Menace

Planners Move to Close Window on US 'McMansions' in the Guardian is about city and county governments finally getting wise, a decade or so late, to the possibility that building houses of 10,000 square feet for two people might not be such a wise thing for maintaining scale, husbanding resources, and keeping communities connected other than by three-hour freeway commutes (although, when you think about it, the same logic applies to single-family homes of any size). The development may mean more trouble for those invested in the struggling housing market, but for the rest of us it's welcome news.
In Boulder County, Colorado, which has recently adopted measures to cap the size of new homes, houses have grown from an average of 3,900 square feet in 1990 to 6,300 square feet last year.

Last month in Los Angeles, the city's planning commission passed a motion to restrict the size of new homes. If the city council adopts the measure it could affect 300,000 properties in the city. Similar measures have been adopted in Minneapolis and in Florida.

"I think people are suspicious of development in the US right now," says John Chase, architecture critic and urban designer for the city of West Hollywood. "People have an unconscious cultural association with a place. Mansion-building takes away from a person's sense of the identity of a place."
Now if we can just pass the Stop Building Cheap, Crappy Condos Act, we'll really be getting somewhere.

The rest of the story: The Guardian.

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Business As Usual: Officials deny there's a link of gaining lobbyist access by giving to top lawmakers' cause (Sacramento Bee)

According to a report in the Sacramento Bee, health industry-related organizations have contributed at least a half a million dollars this year to a ballot initiative intended to ease term limits. It probably comes as no surprise to you that the beneficiaries of this largess are the very lawmakers in charge of the health care overhaul under consideration in the capitol.

Hospitals, drug companies, doctors, dentists and others with a stake in the health care debate, according to the Bee, have put up about a fifth of the roughly $2.6 million collected by those advocating a change in the 1990 term limits law. The measure, if passed by voters Feb. 5, would lower from 14 to 12 the total number of years a lawmaker could serve, but also would allow Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata to remain in their leadership posts for up to six and four years, respectively, beyond 2008.

Even though the don't officially support the measure, some donors from the health care industry are giving directly to the term limits committee, which is run by Núñez's top political adviser.

One donor admits his organization gave to guarantee access to the top players in health care reform. "The whole system of campaign fundraising is such that you have a (political action committee) because you want to get access to people," said Gary Robinson, the executive director of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists, which gave $5,000 to the term limits measure in late June. "I think everybody's contribution relates to the ability to go to the fundraisers and meet the staff and the members," Robinson said.

Team Núñez, on the other hand, doesn't see a problem.

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The War: W.Hollywood Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution in Support of the Impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney

[While under normal circumstances I agree that the Santa Monica city council should stick to local issues and not spend its time on resolutions to save the redwoods or nuke the whales, these are not normal times. The very active local peace movement should follow up West Hollywood's action and get the Santa Monica council to go on record in support of the impeachment of Bush and Cheney for their various crimes, although the best reason to get rid of them is to prevent future debacles, like attacking Iran (according to press reports -- see, Cheney pushes Bush to act on Iraq -- the Vice has talked the Little President into war with Iran as soon as a pretext can be manufactured). - jg]

West Hollywood makes history in becoming the first city in Southern California to pass an impeachment resolution (press release)

"The City of West Hollywood was the first City to oppose the war in Iraq, as it was obvious that the United States was being dragged into a war under false pretenses," said West Hollywood Mayor John Duran. "Now the truth is out. Our President and Vice President misled the country and failed the American people, and for those reasons they should be impeached," he continued.

"The time has come to call for impeachment," said West Hollywood Councilmember Abbe Land. "Bush and Cheney lied to Congress and the American public on the justifications for the Iraq war, conducted illegal wiretaps of American citizens and violated the Geneva Convention by torturing prisoners of war. The U.S. Constitution provides a mechanism to hold them accountable. West Hollywood is proud to add its voice to the growing movement across the nation in calling for a full investigation to be undertaken by the U.S. Congress," she continued.

The proposed resolution states that President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney have repeatedly violated the U.S. Constitution and other laws of the United States. Other impeachable actions cited in the Impeachment Resolution include:
  • Stripping Americans of their constitutional rights;
  • Ordering and authorizing the U.S. Attorney General to override judicial order for the release of detainees;
  • Directing the National Security Agency to spy on Americans; and
  • Misguiding Congress and the country on false intelligence in order to lead the United States into war.
The West Hollywood City Council has consistently opposed the policies of the Bush/Cheney administration and in 2004 passed a resolution opposing military actions in Iraq, one of the first cities in the country to do so. A resolution was also passed condemning the USA PATRIOT Act, due to its infringement upon civil liberties. A resolution was also passed in support of California Senate Bill 924, a bill that would place an advisory measure on the February 5, 2008 presidential primary ballot calling for an immediate and orderly withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Iraq War.

For more information, please contact Hernan Molina, Deputy to West Hollywood Mayor John Duran or Lisa Belsanti, Deputy to West Hollywood Councilmember Abbe Land at 323-848-6460.

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Planning: Paris Aims to Cut Traffic With Bikes

In Santa Monica, we think it's a big deal to offer validated parking for bicycles.

Elsewhere in the country, in such places as Austin, Boulder, San Francisco, Madison, Minneapolis, Oakland, Boston, Seattle, Athens (Georgia) and Lawrence (Kansas), the city governments are devoted to expanding the use of bicycles to mitigate traffic and air pollution, providing hundreds of miles of bike trails and dedicated traffic lanes to thousands of communters.

But nowhere has an American city gone as far as Paris (France, not Texas) where, according to a story today in the New York Times, city hall launched a new municipal service that has placed 10,600 bikes at 750 stations all over town.

Any user can rent and return a bike from any station anywhere in the city. A yearlong pass for the service costs $39.50, a one-day pass goes for $1.36, and a seven-day ticket is $6.80. But the project is designed for short rides (the first half hour is free) and is priced on a sliding scale to keep the bikes in rotation.

The program, called Velib' from the words for bike (velo) and liberty (liberte), is being pushed by Socialist Mayor Bertrand Delanoe who, like his counterparts in London and New York, has made fighting traffic and pollution his No. 1 goal.

For Parisians, the bicycle service means another public transport option, in addition to the subway, buses and trams, Delanoe said.

"In the morning, you can go to work in the tram and come home by bike; it depends on the weather, it depends on your mood and on your friends," Delanoe said at the launch.

Business was brisk the first day, according to the Times. The service is accessible to tourists as well as residents; it's offered in eight languages, and its machines accept foreign credit cards.

Paris is following the example of other European cities with inexpensive bicycle services, including Stockholm, Vienna, Brussels, Barcelona and Copenhagen. The City of Light now has 230 miles of bike lanes.

Full disclosure: I suggested a similar idea for Santa Monica a couple of years ago. General hilarity ensued. He who laughs last, though. I'm just sayin'.

The rest of the story: The New York Times

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The Franchise: Questions persist about California vote system review

Missed deadlines, miscommunication mar evaluation

By Kat Zambon (electionline.org)

In a 2006 election debate between incumbent California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson (R), and state Sen. Debra Bowen, D-Marina del Rey, the challenger said if elected she would “revisit systems that have been approved by the state and create stricter monitoring requirements.”

Now, six months into her term as secretary of state, Bowen is following through on her campaign promise with a top-to-bottom review of the state’s voting systems.

"The stakes are too high," Bowen said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. "The voters need to feel confident that their votes are being counted."

However, questions remain about the implications of the results of those tests, which started in late May and are scheduled to end in late July. And since a recent move pushed the California state primary to the beginning of February, there is little time for error.

The rest of the story: Election Line Weekly (2007-07-12)

More on voting in California: Absentee voting, Voting system review, Voting changes , Right to vote

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2008: The L.A. Times launches political blog

The Times' bloggers are Don Frederick and Andrew Malcolm. So, one professional journalist and one ideological conservative, about the best we can expect from the corporate media. Weirdly, there are links to the campaign sites of Tom Tancredo, Bill Richardson, Mike Gravel, Duncan Hunter, James Gilmore, Joseph Biden, Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich, Sam Brownback and Rudy Giuliani, but not to Mitt Romney, John McCain, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or John Edwards. <http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/>

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This Can't Be Good News Department: Lawrence Livermore seeks permit to release uranium dust into the air

A permit application has been filed with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (valleyair.org - 559-230-6000) by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to release as much as 450 pounds of radioactive uranium dust into the air every year.

See Tastes like burning by Mark Drolette in the Sacramento News and Review for 2007-06-14 and Uranium Dust by John Upton in the 2007-04-11 edition of Tracy Press.

"Depleted" uranium weapons are radioactive, and as such are considered to be weapons of mass destruction, illegal under international law. For more info: Axis of Logic.

Four hundred and fifty pounds doesn't sound like a lot. Maybe it could just be buried in Laboratory director George H. Miller's back yard.

We've stopped these irresponsible morons before. Let's do it again.

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The Press: Can the L.A. Times be saved? (Central Library 2007-06-05)

The Los Angeles Times has struggled to fight declining circulation and to make up for it by capturing readers on line. Times publisher David Hiller, editor Jim O'Shea, innovation editor (egad!) Russ Stanton, and LATimes.com executive editor Meredith Artley mull over the decline of an essential civic institution Tuesday at the L.A. Public Library. Free; 7 p.m.; 630 W. 5th St., L.A.; 213-228-7000. <http://www.lapl.org>

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Second thoughts: Municipal Wi-Fi Easier Said Than Done

As you know if you've tried to use it, wi-fi access in Santa Monica is hit or miss. Instead of organizing wi-fi around the excess bandwidth of major users -- businesses such as Yahoo, Google, Sony; educational institutions such as SMCC; government entities such as the city itself -- Santa Monica is planning to hire a private service provider to build a system over the next few years (why it should take "years" to provide service to 8.3 square miles of flat terrain is a topic for another time).

According to reports, instead of contracting with a big player like Earthlink or a civic-minded company like Google, the city plans to hire AzulStar, a little Michigan-based company specializing in municipal access, to create a seamless city-wide network of hotspots.

According to AzulStar’s website, the company has built four city-wide systems to date, in such major metropolitan areas as Grand Haven, Michigan and Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

Although touted as a free service, in reality, relatively slow, advertising-supported public access will be available to residents and tourists for free, but they will be asked to pay for faster ad-free service. Businesses will required to pay for access separately, which will require the creation of some sort of enforcement mechanism to keep companies from logging on to the slower but costless version.

Any city-wide plan will be a big advance over the patchwork of public hotspots, now numbering 11 and growing, including City Hall, the Third Street Promenade, the Pier and Virginia Avenue Park, that make current access so spotty (at the end of May, three more parks -- Reed, Cloverfield, and the new park at the airport -- were scheduled to be on line).

A city-wide system will also enable the City of Santa Monica to tie all municipal services together on one wireless network.

Some of the problems with using a private company to provide a public service (instead of relying on a municipally owned system or a city-wide cooperative, two methods widely used in other parts of the world), as well as some of the technical difficulties particularly irksome to commercial providers, are outlined in an article published this week by The Economist (2007-05-25).
Long before Walt Disney built his theme park in Anaheim, this savvy little city 30 miles south of Los Angeles was deploying cutting-edge technology to improve its citizens’ lot and upstage neighbouring communities. It was one of the first cities in America to build its own electricity grid -- to illuminate its streets and lure late-night shoppers from nearby towns.

The innovation continued. Before most had even heard of the internet, Anaheim had networked the city with fat communications piping, so residents could have a variety of cable TV providers and telephone companies to choose from, while local utilities could automate their meter reading and businesses could provide all manner of online services. Now the city is in the process of blanketing itself with a wireless broadband network.

Anaheim is not the only city turning itself into a giant Wi-Fi hotspot. No fewer than 175 municipalities and metropolitan regions in America are building community-wide networks. A similar number are in the planning stage. But having blazed the trail in network services, Anaheim is the municipality that other cities are watching the closest -- all the more so because the company rolling out its wireless network is Earthlink.

Once the loudest booster of municipal Wi-Fi and still the biggest in the business, Earthlink is having second thoughts. Having turned in a $30m loss for its most recent quarter, Earthlink now says it is “re-evaluating its position in the muni-Wi-Fi market." The announcement has sent shivers through city halls across America.

Like Anaheim, most municipalities installing wireless networks are not paying for the privilege, but relying on providers like Earthlink to foot the bill. Having won the right to supply Wi-Fi services to a municipality, most companies expected to recoup the investment though subscriptions and advertising.

Neither revenue stream has lived up to expectation. Originally, Earthlink thought it would be in clover if 20-25% of households signed up for its wireless internet service. It now realises it will be lucky to get 15%. And without the eyeballs, advertisers have been slow to come aboard.

The trouble is that too many cities' schemes were half-baked to start with. In some cities, such as Philadelphia, the mission was to offer cheap (or even free) internet connections to the poor. In others, such as Anaheim, a more pragmatic, market-driven approach was adopted. Elsewhere, populist mayors and city councils pandered to voters with promises of universal internet access. In almost all cases, however, the reigning philosophy was “build it and they will come."

What no one seems to have bargained for was that, while Wi-Fi technology works perfectly well over short distances within a home, coffee shop or airport, it doesn’t work all that well outside. Wi-Fi’s popularity stems from its use of the unlicensed, 2.4 gigahertz part of the radio spectrum. But being unfettered by licences and regulations means that there are many PCs jostling for access. Adding to the mayhem are the domestic appliances, like cordless phones and microwave ovens, that radiate in the same frequency band.

This creates enough trouble inside a building. Outside, there are the added problems of foliage, tall buildings and hills. These can reflect, absorb or otherwise interfere with a municipal Wi-Fi’s signal, beamed from aerials on lamp-posts and traffic lights.

Because of these glitches, network operators have found that the old rule of 15-20 Wi-Fi aerial nodes per square mile is nowhere near good enough. Nowadays people expect to connect to the internet using low-powered devices such as laptops and Wi-Fi-enabled mobile phones. To meet this demand, operators must install twice as many nodes per square mile.

The cost escalation does not stop there. In opting for external Wi-Fi, municipal operators seem to have forgotten that the vast majority of dwellings in America use chicken wire in their walls. As every high-school physics student learns, a mesh of chicken wire can screen out electromagnetic fields, especially those caused by radio waves. For an external Wi-Fi beam to be detected indoors, homes have had to be kitted out with signal-boosting wireless modems.

These complications have made a mockery of service suppliers’ business plans. When Earthlink says it is re-evaluating its position in the municipal Wi-Fi market, what it really means is that it can’t make money out of communities with fewer than 2,500 households per square mile. Even then, it needs assurances that the city will commit to buying a big chunk of the network’s capacity for such “anchor tenancies” as emergency services, traffic and parking control, video surveillance and internet telephony, as well as automated meter reading and other utility services.

This is precisely how it should be. Internet access for residential users was never going to be the mainstay for municipal Wi-Fi. Most communities are pretty well served these days by cable, DSL and satellite internet services. As a result, competition has beaten broadband-access charges down to around $15 a month. And where such services are not competitive, they quickly become so the moment municipal Wi-Fi presses its nose to the window.

No, the future of municipal wireless broadband rests on making cities safer, saner and simpler to manage. Trivial pursuits like downloading songs or posting video clips can be safely left to phone and cable companies."

Azulstar is using in Santa Monica the same business model, attempting to recoup its investment in infrastructure and to turn a profit through subscriptions and advertising, that the Economist reports is a failure elsewhere. At least Earthlink and its ilk have the deep pockets that would enable them to live up to their commitments even while losing money for a while. How long will a little outfit like AzulStar be able to hang in without making a profit? I guess we're going to find out.

The Economist

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