January 2009

Federal behavior-detection officers to patrol Super Bowl – Microsoft helps out too

January 31, 2009 by Source

Authorities at Super Bowl XLIII will be looking for more than just drunken fans. They’ll be watching spectators’ body language, facial expressions and demeanor to find suspicious people.

For the first time Sunday, federal behavior-detection officers will team with local police to use a controversial technique on people heading to a major event, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says. The officers usually work in airports.

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Iraqis construct shoe sculpture to honor Bush shoe-throwing incident.

January 31, 2009 by Source
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A large sculpture of one of the shoes thrown at President Bush last December by an Iraqi journalist was unveiled this week just outside an orphanage in Tikrit, Iraq — Saddam Hussein’s hometown. The orphans at the complex helped sculptor Laith al-Amiri build the shoe monument. “Those orphans who helped the sculptor in building this monument were the victims of Bush’s war,” said Faten Abdulqader al-Naseri, the orphanage director, adding that it “is a gift to the next generation to remember the heroic action by the journalist.” Al-Amiri praised the journalist, Muntadhar al-Zeidi.

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More Sex in the City Schools – Again – Now it’s 12 Area Teachers Busted in Last 2 1/2 Years!

January 31, 2009 by Frank Gormlie
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With today’s announcement by the Union-Tribune of the latest San Diego area teacher to be accused of having sex with a student being arraigned in the South County Court, we turn to our archives. Now, with Carmina Erica Lopez charged with molesting and having sex with a boy who was a one-time student, we add her to our rolls of area teachers – which now add up to twelve – who have had sex with students in the last few years. Helix High School has been getting all the attention, as four of the teachers taught there. But the focus by the mainstream media on that singular fact misses an even greater issue.

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400 richest Americans’ incomes doubled under Bush.

January 31, 2009 by Source
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Bloomberg reports that, according to recently released IRS data, “the average tax rate paid by the richest 400 Americans fell by a third to 17.2 percent through the first six years of the Bush administration and their average income doubled to $263.3 million.” Much of their income came from capital gains resulting from the Bush tax cuts:

The drop from 2001’s tax rate of 22.9 percent was due largely to ex-President George W. Bush’s push to cut tax rates on most capital gains to 15 percent in 2003.

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Obama Signs Orders Reversing Bush’s Labor Policies

January 31, 2009 by Source
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On yet another morning of grim economic news, President Obama sought to further distance himself from his predecessor on Friday as he announced steps that he said would strengthen organized labor and improve the lot of middle-class Americans.

At a White House ceremony, the president signed three executive orders that he said would “reverse many of the policies towards organized labor that we’ve seen these last eight years, policies with which I’ve sharply disagreed.”

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Debate Over School Board Vote On Labor Agreement Continues …

January 31, 2009 by Source
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The debate over the recent vote of the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education on a Project Stabilization Agreement with the local Building Trades continues here. Pat Flannery – blogger, city gadfly, community activist – has been very critical of the PSA, and we re-post his most recent comments. The Center for Policy Initiatives speaks up for organized labor, and we re-post their website comments.

The right not to associate – union shop or merit shop
VS
Fight the barrage of lies with facts: School board vote is good for San Diego

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60 Minutes under attack for telling the truth about Israeli settlements

January 29, 2009 by Source

All week, 60 Minutes’ Bob Simon has been under attack for supposed “anti-Israel bias” for this past Sunday’s accurate and thoughtful report on the danger that Israeli settlements pose to the chances for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

CAMERA (the Orwellian-named Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) alerted their activist network – flooding the 60 Minutes’ offices and their advertisers with angry phone calls charging media bias. [1] Jewish community leader Abe Foxman fired off a letter calling the piece “a hatchet job on Israel.” [2] Journalists – as well as rabbis, professors and elected officials – know that if they raise questions about what Israel does – they’ll often get attacked as anti-Israel.

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Environmentalists Split Over Compromise With Mayor Sanders On Sewage Waiver

January 29, 2009 by Frank Gormlie
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San Diego environmental activists are split over the compromise between a few major environmental groups and San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders on the City obtaining a waiver for the secondary treatment of its wastewater.

On January 19th it was announced that Mayor Sanders and the Sierra Club, the Surfrider Foundation and San Diego Coastkeeper had all come to an agreement on the waiver. In December of last year, the Environmental Protection Agency had granted the City a five-year waiver on having to upgrade the sewage treatment.

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City Attorney Goldsmith’s Guillotine

January 29, 2009 by Source
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On February 25 of last year, professional skydiver Alan (Buzz) Fink and his wife Kristina, who are not residents of San Diego, gave a total of $640 to Jan Goldsmith in his run for city attorney. On July 23, Fink, president of Jamul’s Skydive San Diego, gave Goldsmith another $320.

Goldsmith won the election, and on January 8 he fired deputy city attorney John Serrano, who worked on real estate property. He is one of nine deputy city attorneys who have been fired by Goldsmith. Serrano is an experienced government lawyer, having served as a deputy city attorney in Los Angeles and assistant city attorney in Escondido, among many things.

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America and Guantanamo – habeas corpus and torture

January 29, 2009 by Source
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Karl Rove’s recent remarks to a cheering crowd at the University of Miami should remind us that right wing efforts tocontinue the barbarism of the Bush years will not disappear any time soon. Chelsea Isaacs recently wrote about Rove’s comments in the Miami Hurricane:
“One year from now, Gitmo won’t be closed,” Rove said. “If it is, there will be an uproar in the U.S. about where to put these people.” Interrogation tactics used by the CIA during Bush’s term in office were not torturous, Rove said, but he did not deny that the CIA strongly pressed terrorists for vital information. “You bet we squeeze them for information,” Rove said. “If we hadn’t, those same terrorists could have executed their plans to kill, and (people) would be asking why Bush didn’t protect American soldiers’ lives.”

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Book Review: Grey Apocalypse by James Murdoch

January 29, 2009 by Doug Porter
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BOOK REVIEW by Doug Porter

There are a plethora of conspiracy theories out there centered on aliens, UFOs and the government’s role in suppressing the “truth” about those things. Gray Apocalypse successfully weaves several of the more popular theories/legends into a sci-fi page burner with just enough credibility to inspire nightmares. Treading cagily in the zone between the pit of deep seated fears and the summit of knowledge, the author opens us up to what the world might look like if the UFO/alien conspiracies were true.

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Beach residents oppose elimination of trash cans along viewpoints

January 29, 2009 by Frank Gormlie
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Local beach residents want no part of the recent elimination of trash cans by the City of San Diego along walkways and viewpoints at the cliffs and beaches. They are registering their opposition by leaving mounds of rubbish and trash where trash cans once gallantly stood.

Nearly two weeks ago, the City of San Diego announced that it was permanently removing about two dozen trash receptacles from Ocean Beach to La Jolla. The cans removed were at walkways and viewpoints – not the actual beach and parks in between.

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Mayor Says Water Rationing Probable by July 1 – Public Hearings Set

January 28, 2009 by Source
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Water rationing probably will be imposed in San Diego by July 1, Mayor Jerry Sanders said yesterday. The reduction would vary per household depending on factors including how much water is used for landscaping. Sanders said residential and business customers alike would face “fairly significant penalties” for using too much water in the face of a drought and spring cutbacks expected from the wholesaler that provides water to the city. Sanders didn’t elaborate on what the penalties might be.

Water administrator Alex Ruiz said the rationing plan would try to take into account customers’ past conservation efforts and seek to distinguish between “discretionary” outdoor water uses and indoor uses, such as cooking and cleaning.

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Deserter at Miramar Brig Supported by Antiwar Activists

January 26, 2009 by Source
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Antiwar activists have taken up the cause of an Army deserter who was deported from Canada and is now being held at the brig at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Two dozen members of Military Families Speak Out and San Diego Veterans for Peace protested Tuesday [Jan. 13,2009] afternoon outside the base in support of Robin Long, a onetime Army private who was sentenced in August to 15 months behind bars and a dishonorable discharge.

The activists support Long’s view that the Iraq war is illegal and say his sentence is particularly cruel because it could prevent him from returning to his sick girlfriend and their 2-year-old son in Canada. Canadian law makes it difficult for convicted felons to enter Canada.

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American troops in Philippines to train soldiers with history of abuse in contested tribal area

January 24, 2009 by Source
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Filipino and American troops will hold exercises for 25 days starting Monday inside a military reservation in Capiz that is being claimed by an indigenous people’s group as part of its ancestral domain. “Balance Piston 09-1” will be held on January 26 to February 20 at the Camp Macario B. Peralta Jr. in Jamindan town, according to a press statement issued on Friday by the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division.

The exercises will involve 141 personnel of the division and 31 US soldiers, mostly trainers, acting division spokesman Captain Renante Besa told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net) in a telephone interview Friday.

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Multi-billion dollar expansion of Lindbergh Airport unveiled

January 24, 2009 by Source
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A more than $1 billion plan to add 10 gates, and probably a parking structure, at Lindbergh Field is scheduled before the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority in March, but it may cost another $4 billion to build out the airport that would soon be gridlocked. An airport update was presented at a Society for Marketing Professional Services meeting at the DoubleTree Hotel in Mission Valley last Wednesday.

Iraj Ghaemi, the Airport Authority’s director of facilities development, noted that with 227,000 aircraft operations, Lindbergh was the busiest single runway commercial service airport in North America in 2008.

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Government Surveillance Programs Exposed & Explained

January 23, 2009 by Doug Porter
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Over the last couple of days MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann has aired interviews with former National Security Agency employee Russell Tice that have shed a great deal of light on large-scale surveillance and data acquisition conducted during the Bush Administration. For those of you interested in the short version of the story, it boils down to two things:

1) Systemic, pervasive surveillance of ALL (that’s everything, everywhere!) electronic communications was conducted by the NSA and that the metadata gained from it was used to make possible targeted surveillance of particular people and groups.

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NSA Whistleblower to Keith Olbermann: his agency spied on everybody and journalists – collected everything – even credit card records

January 22, 2009 by Source
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On Wednesday night, when former NSA analyst Russell Tice told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann that the Bush administration’s National Security Agency spied on everyone in the United States, specifically targeting journalists, the Countdown host was so flabbergasted that Tice was invited back for a second interview.

On Thursday, he returned to the airwaves with expanded allegations against the NSA, claiming the agency collected Americans’ credit card records, and adding that he believes the massive, warrantless data vacuum to be the remnants of the Total Information Awareness program, shut down by Congress in 2003.

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Gitmo Closure Brings Out Local Chicken Hawks

January 22, 2009 by Doug Porter
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by Doug Porter

President Obama’s executive order setting a timeline for closing the prison facilities at Guantanamo, Cuba, has local Congressional Republicans up in arms. The region’s three Republican members introduced a bill to block transfers of inmates to local military prison facilities.

Sponsored by U.S. Rep. Duncan D. Hunter and co-sponsored by Reps. Brian Bilbray, R-Solana Beach, and Darrell Issa, R-Vista, the legislation specifies that no federal funds may be used to bring about a transfer to Miramar Marina Corps Air Station or Camp Pendleton, or to “build, modify or enhance” any facility on those bases in order to house “enemy combatants.”

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This is what democracy looks like !

January 22, 2009 by Frank Gormlie
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One out of every 150 Americans was there in Washington DC yesterday, January 20, 2009. Nothing before yesterday had ever seen such a press of humanity that demonstrated on Tuesday. So many grand words have been spoken or written about President Barack Obama’s inauguration, that we dare not add anything mediocre. We had risen yesterday in anticipation, and turned on the tube early to watch history and try to be part of it. The crowds were what amazed me. Seeing faces with tears rolling down glad cheeks were what got me the most. Watching so many young Americans happy and excited, seeing so many African-Americans beaming, and viewing the plain diversity of the crowd made us all gasp with pride. The relentless chants of “Obama, Obama!” echoed my shouts into the night air the evening he was elected.

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County Medical Examiner Now Calls Truesdail’s Death ‘Accident’ – Memorial Tonight at Portugalia

January 22, 2009 by Frank Gormlie
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The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office changed its ruling on Don Truesdail’s death from ‘suicide’ to accident, as of late January 21st, as reported by the Union-Tribune this morning. Less than 24 hours before Truesdail’s memorial in Ocean Beach was to be held, the Medical Examiner made its change after pressure from the public; family and friends of Truesdail contacted its office and local media to complain. In addition, we at the OB Rag blog, have supported the family’s position that the incident that caused Donnie’s fatal injuries was an accident when he was hit on south-bound I-5 alongside the freeway on January 13th.

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Giving Bush the Boot !

January 21, 2009 by Staff
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Over 50 people and a gorilla created a carnival atmosphere at a sunset beach party on the last day of Bush’s presidency as they gave Bush the Boot! Inspired by the Baghdad journalist who threw his shoes at Bush as a sign of disrespect, Ground Zero Players constructed a life-size Bush effigy, stood it up on the beach in Ocean Beach, and invited people to hurl away. At the moment the sun disappeared below the horizon, spontaneous cheering, bell-ringing and drumming erupted. A simultaneous shoe hurl was accompanied by singing a few stanzas of Tanks in My Memory from bushisgone’s You Tube video.
Bye Bye Bush! Don’t let the shoes hit you as you slink out of Washington.

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Donnie Truesdail memorial planned in shadow of CHP’s wrong label of ‘suicide’

January 20, 2009 by Frank Gormlie
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A memorial for Donnie Truesdail is being planned here in Ocean Beach for next Thursday, January 22nd. His family and friends hope it will allow all the different people touched by the local musician and music teacher to come together and express their sympathies.

The planning for the memorial, however, is being done in the dark shadow cast by the California Highway Patrol’s conclusion that Donnie’s death was a ‘suicide.’ Their conclusion is based on faulty evidence.

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Low Tide at Sunset Cliffs, January 2009

January 19, 2009 by Patty Jones

Aside from the beautiful full moon we had last week there was a very low tide over the weekend. I’m sure they’re somehow related but don’t ask me how… Frank and I took a hike on the beach south from the staircase at the foot of Ladera St. We didn’t get far before the batteries in my camera and the backups were dead, but we had a great hike and watched the sunset from the beach before making our way back up. I was happy to get these great photos of the low tide from our good friend Jeff.

Check ’em out, click on the smaller image below to see a larger version. Let us know your favorite!

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Garrison Keillor on Barack Obama’s election:

January 19, 2009 by Source
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Be happy, dear hearts, and allow yourselves a few more weeks of quiet exultation. It isn’t gloating, it’s satisfaction at a job well done. He was a superb candidate, serious, professorial but with a flashing grin and a buoyancy that comes from working out in the gym every morning. He spoke in a genuine voice, not senatorial at all. He relished campaigning. He accepted adulation gracefully.

He brandished his sword against his opponents without mocking or belittling them. He was elegant, unaffected, utterly American, and now (Wow) suddenly America is cool. Chicago is cool. Chicago !!!

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World Press Hammers Bush As He Departs

January 19, 2009 by Source
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Editorial writers around the world have been taking their final printed whacks at George W. Bush, accusing the president of tarnishing America’s standing with what many saw as arrogant and incompetent leadership. Some newspaper editorials, for all their criticism, suggested historians might just be kinder later on than those now writing first drafts of history. A success often cited by those seeking a silver lining was the United States’ freedom from further homeland attacks following September 11.

Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, will be sworn in as the 44th U.S. president on Tuesday. “A weak leader, Bush was just overwhelmed in the job,” said Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung under a headline: “The Failure.”

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Local OB Family Donates Nearly $13,000 to the Ocean Beach Branch Library

January 17, 2009 by Frank Gormlie
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The Ocean Beach branch Library has no better friends than Dorothy Shumway and her family. Over the past year, this long-time OB family donated nearly $13,000 to the OB Branch of the San Diego Public Library. Dorothy Shumway, now 83, and her family wrote checks that totaled $12,900 at two different times during 2008, and sent them to the San Diego Public Library Foundation ear-marked for our local branch. This incredible act of generosity by one family in support of the Ocean Branch Library, particularly since the branch has just fought a successful, if temporary, battle to keep its doors open, does need to be recognized by the broader community.

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Israel Set to Halt Gaza War

January 16, 2009 by Source
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Israel’s security cabinet is expected to decide to halt the war on Gaza at a meeting on Saturday, Israeli sources have said. The move would be seen as being preferable to entering an Egyptian-brokered formal ceasefire with Hamas, unnamed sources told the AFP and Reuters news agencies.
The 21-day-old conflict has left more than 1,150 Palestinians dead, at least a third of them children, and devastated infrastructure within the densely populated territory.

“The security cabinet will convene and that is where a decision will be made,” Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister, told Israel’s Channel 10 television when asked if the government would end the conflict.

“I have said the end doesn’t have to be in agreement with Hamas, but rather in arrangements against Hamas.”

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So Many Parties, So Little Time – Local Inaugural Happenings

January 16, 2009 by Doug Porter
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Bummed out that you can’t afford to go to Washington DC for the inauguration on Tuesday? Did the Obama campaign office forget to email your tickets? Fear not, dear readers, for there are gaggles of opportunities right here in San Diego to get your change face on.

First of all, it’s important to note that the actual inauguration ceremony (9am our time) is happening in the morning/early afternoon in Washington, which means it’s gonna be kinda early here. If you do opt to get up early for one of these events, take comfort in the fact that you won’t be freezing your tush off like those folks in DC. Of course, there will be parties well into the evening throughout the San Diego area, so you don’t need to feel too jealous about missing the maddening crowds in our nation’s capitol.

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Act of Civil Disobedience Thwarts Big Oil from Buying Up Utah Wildnerness

January 15, 2009 by Lane Tobias
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In the waning moments of the Bush Administration, our Commander in Chief and his cohorts are pushing through hundreds of so-called “Midnight Rules” that could take years to change (if challenged at all by the incoming Congress and Obama Administration) and may inevitably leave a lasting mark on environmental regulation for years to come.

It is common for outgoing Presidents to pardon criminals, or push through a few last minute Executive Orders to leave a legacy. But in the traditional Dubya manner, most of these Midnight Rules are of course in the best interest of Energy Conglomerates (particularly the dirty-ass COAL industry i.e. Tennessee environmental disaster) and not in the best interest of the environment.

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