|04-06-2006, 03:21 PM||#31|
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Education, race drive incomes
Wide disparities seen in new study
Vanessa Hua, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, April 6, 2006
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Asian American, African American and Latino residents of San Francisco make even less money compared with whites than they do elsewhere in the country, and middle-income residents are abandoning the city, a new study released Wednesday by the city shows.
The study also shows that San Francisco's wages in lower-income sectors have stagnated while the city's top earners have seen their wages skyrocket in the past decade.
The detailed analysis pairing workforce and economic development data, a first for San Francisco, also shows how directly education affects a city resident's ability to earn a living.
San Francisco residents with four-year college degrees, who made up 32 percent of adults older than 25, earned an average of $72,850 in 2004 -- while adults without high school diplomas earned $18,897. A high school diploma brought average earnings up to $29,955, and workers who attended a little college or earned associate degrees made an average of $39,965, reported Ted Egan, director of analysis for ICF Consulting in San Francisco.
Funded by Proposition I, passed by voters in November 2004, the study is part of a series to be released over the course of 2006 and updated every three years.
Steven Pitts, an economist specializing in labor issues at UC Berkeley, said it's vital to link economic development, which aims to attract or grow business, with workforce initiatives, which develop job skills of city residents.
Mayor Gavin Newsom said the data will help the city develop a strategy for economic development and increase and improve the training it offers local workers.
"We won't have to shoot from the hip and react to today's fight or plight. It will sharpen what we are working on and show us what we have to abandon," he said.
Pitts agreed, saying that analyzing workforce and economic development data separately, as cities traditionally do, can cause problems.
"The city and regional government may bring in jobs that local residents can't fulfill, and train residents for jobs that don't exist," Pitts said. "If you don't tie workforce development to actual jobs at the end of the pipeline, you're betraying students."
Newsom said the city is doing its "best to provide a mechanism to move people into the middle class." He cited training programs in biotechnology, digital arts and construction.
Minorities' wages lag whites' in part because they tend to have less education, Egan said.
Sixty-three percent of white San Francisco residents held four-year university degrees in 2004, compared with 38 percent of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, 25 percent of Latinos and 21 percent of African Americans.
Whites held only half the jobs in San Francisco but two-thirds of the managerial, professional and technical service jobs that make up the bulk of high-income positions in the city in 2000.
Egan also found that blacks in San Francisco made on average 40 percent as much as whites in 2004. Asian Americans made 46 percent as much as whites, and Latinos 38 percent. Nationally, blacks made 60 percent as much as whites, Asians 91 percent and Latinos 51 percent.
San Francisco became increasingly diverse between 2000 and 2004, which Newsom said positions it well to serve as a gateway from Asia. About 33 percent of the population is Asian and Pacific Islander, 44 percent white, 14 percent Latino and 6 percent black.
At the same time, nearly 78,000 residents left San Francisco between 2000 and 2004. Many were school-age children and adults in their 40s. People aged 20 to 34 flocked into San Francisco during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s.
High housing costs and access to public education have spurred many families to move, Newsom said, which has long-term economic consequences for San Francisco. But Egan's data show that larger households -- usually families -- have been moving out of the city at roughly the same rate since at least 1994.
Still, the middle class is shrinking. In the 1990s, the percentage of households earning $75,000 fell significantly, while the percentage earning $100,000 rose greatly.
Newsom said children are a key element of any city's population.
"There's a quality of imagination and idealism that children have. Those qualities of youth are critical," Newsom said. "Without families, you don't have advocates for the library, parks and schools. The schools deteriorate and you can't compete in the workforce. There is a direct cause and effect on economic stewardship."
In San Francisco, unemployment is comparable to pre-boom levels -- around 5 percent, Egan reported.
Many of the industries that traditionally dominated the city economy -- such as financial services, professional services, trade and utilities -- have fallen, according to the report. Leisure and hospitality, educational and health services, the arts and high tech have gained jobs.
Another bright spot is small business.
In 2003, about 122,000 San Franciscans were self-employed, representing 18 percent of private sector employment, above the national average. That year, about 45 percent of workers were employed in companies with fewer than 50 employees.
After the release of this report, the city will solicit input from focus groups and surveys.
For more information, go to www.sfeconomicstrategy.org.
Who be Whom
|04-06-2006, 03:27 PM||#32|
wheel re invent
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SACRAMENTO (AP) -- Death penalty moratorium supporters will try again this week to put a hold on executions in California, the state with the largest death row in the country.
dated monday april 3. from kron 4.
Who be Whom
|04-06-2006, 07:30 PM||#33|
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wow some interesting articles Guardian & Elusive
|04-06-2006, 09:22 PM||#34|
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Allowances stripped after minimum wage raised, Greens say
Some businesses are stripping employees of allowances so they don't have to pay last month's minimum wage increase, Green MP Sue Bradford says.
Ms Bradford has been told of three lower North Island clothing manufacturers which had taken away staff allowances to avoid increasing their wage bill when the minimum wage increased from $9.50 to $10.25 on March 27.
The Clothing, Laundry and Allied Workers' Union had intervened in one case and the company had backed down.
Another is considering the issue but the third was continuing to withhold allowances.
"In the case of one of the companies, individual workers were forced to sign an agreement agreeing to the employer's actions," Ms Bradford said.
"At the other two companies, the workers were expecting their wage rise but when they opened their pay packets found these had been circumvented."
She said it was disturbing that two of the employers said the Department of Labour Employment Relations service had said their plan was acceptable.
"I believe this is illegal and any employers that buy into this kind of thing should be dealt with swiftly," Ms Bradford said.
"This kind of underhanded activity undermines our employment laws and efforts to improve conditions for low paid workers."
Ms Bradford has written to Labour Minister Ruth Dyson about it.
|04-06-2006, 09:45 PM||#35|
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Food advert guidelines for children mean little, say critics
By Errol Kiong
Tougher guidelines that dictate how unhealthy foods can be marketed to children have been dismissed by critics as the industry's attempt to stave off regulation.
The Advertising Standards Authority unveiled additional measures yesterday to its voluntary codes governing the advertising of food. They include not aiming adverts at younger children, a definition of "treat food" and not encouraging children to eat or drink these foods in excess. Ads must also comply with the Ministry of Health's food and nutrition guidelines for children.
Celebrities cannot be used to "undermine" healthy diets. Advertisers have a three-month transition period to comply.
But critics say the wording leaves plenty open to interpretation.
Endocrinologist Dr Robyn Toomath, of Fight the Obesity Epidemic, said the interpretation of the guidelines at the moment was "loose and sloppy".
"If they truly follow the intent, which is protecting children and not doing anything to adversely affect their health, then all of the junk food advertising, all of the advertising for soft drinks, would immediately be removed."
Green Party food safety spokeswoman Sue Kedgley said the reviews were an attempt to stave off regulation "by coming up with codes that look and sound quite good, but are general and waffly and don't change a lot".
"It is not enough to just suggest, as the review does, that advertisers not promote excessive consumption of treat or unhealthy food. It is widely recognised that the advertising of unhealthy food to children is a significant contributor to the present obesity epidemic. If we want to improve the health of our kids then we must tackle this issue head on with tough rules that prevent companies from targeting children and encouraging them to eat unhealthy food."
But Health Minister Pete Hodgson welcomed the changes.
"This is a step in the right direction, though it's clear that we all need to be doing more to stop the obesity epidemic, which may see our children dying before we do."
|04-07-2006, 05:01 PM||#36|
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Be aware of Identity Theft
Cool iPods also play stolen data
Friday, April 7, 2006
IPods are totally cool for listening to music or watching videos. And now San Francisco police are saying they have another, way-less-cool capability: identity theft.
Police say a San Francisco man has been arrested on 53 felony counts of fraud, forgery and other charges related to the theft of hundreds of credit card numbers -- including those of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and a special agent in the local office of the FBI.
Making the case even more audacious, police say, is the fact that some of the stolen data were found on an iPod belonging to the suspect. Investigators say this is the first time they've seen an iPod -- which is essentially a small computer -- used to store people's personal information.
"These devices create a whole new challenge for law enforcement," said Lt. Kenwade Lee, who runs the fraud division at the San Francisco Police Department. "It's a whole lot easier to walk around with an iPod than a case full of papers."
The suspect, identified as Wilson Lee, 35, is scheduled to appear in court on Monday. He remains in custody after pleading not guilty after his arrest on Oct. 26.
If convicted on all the charges against him, Lee faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison.
Details of the case became clear only recently as investigators pieced together the extensive amount of data and documents involved.
"We're only starting to itemize things," the SFPD's Lee said. "The suspect isn't talking to us, so it's taking time."
Brian Petersen, Wilson Lee's San Francisco attorney, acknowledged that his client "faces a tough time at trial based on the evidence they have."
"The issue is not whether he did something wrong," Petersen said. "The issue is whether he was the only one responsible."
Police say they caught Lee red-handed in a sting operation in which a plainclothes officer delivered a shipment of laptop computers ordered by the suspect using a stolen credit card and a counterfeit driver's license.
The computers were delivered to the high-end Grosvenor Suites hotel on Nob Hill, one of about a half-dozen swanky hotels that police say Lee had been staying at for months using stolen identities and credit cards.
Police say Lee was arrested after he signed for receipt of the computers on the sidewalk outside the Grosvenor Suites using the name of a San Francisco attorney whose wallet was reported stolen from his Mercedes a few days earlier.
At the time of his arrest, Lee was in possession of a laptop and an iPod containing dozens of tax returns, credit files and loan applications from people throughout the country, police say.
A subsequent search of Lee's hotel room turned up a list of more than 500 names and credit card numbers, they say.
Among the names investigators said they recognized were those of San Francisco's Pelosi, the House Democratic leader in Congress, and LaRae Quy, spokeswoman for the FBI's San Francisco office.
Both names are also cited in court documents related to the case. Neither Pelosi nor Quy could be reached for comment.
"We still have no idea where he got all this stuff," the SFPD's Lee said.
He speculated that the suspect may have been in the process of uploading various files from his laptop to the iPod at the time of his arrest.
"This is new for us," Lee said. "Obviously, we're going to start paying more attention to electronic music players from now on."
According to court documents, Wilson Lee embarked on the fraud spree in June 2005, running up bills at luxury hotels with stolen identities and credit cards.
He also allegedly placed a series of orders with companies that rent computer equipment for corporate meetings and other events. The orders involved thousands of dollars of gear, court documents say.
In mid-October, San Francisco attorney David Sohn reported to police that his Mercedes had been broken into while parked overnight in North Beach.
"I got to my car the next morning and found the door open," he told me. "The car had been cleared out, including my wallet."
Within a few days, Sohn said he received a warning from a credit card issuer that his card had been used to purchase an iPod from a vending machine at the downtown Argent Hotel. (Such machines are increasingly common at hotels, airports and other venues.)
Shortly thereafter, Sohn said he received a call from a computer-rental firm confirming an order placed in his name for a bunch of laptops. He promptly contacted police investigators, who attempted to nab the perpetrator when the computers were delivered.
Whoever ordered the gear didn't show up when the computers were delivered to a hotel by a plainclothes cop.
A day or two later, though, Sohn was notified of yet another computer order, and once again he arranged for a police officer to make the delivery. This time, police say, someone was there to sign for the delivery: Wilson Lee.
"We figure he was ordering all these computers and then turning around and selling them," the SFPD's Lee said.
He said that between the computer purchases, the data-loaded iPod and the cache of credit card numbers, it appears that Wilson Lee was an unusually clever thief.
"He's very good at what he does," the police lieutenant said.
Petersen, Wilson Lee's attorney, acknowledged that a considerable body of evidence seems to tie his client to the alleged crimes. He indicated that negotiations are under way for Lee to plead guilty to at least some of the charges facing him.
"The issue is what an appropriate sentence would be if he pleads guilty," Petersen said.
He said at least three other people may have been involved in the case and noted that a video camera at the Argent Hotel's iPod vending machine captured someone other than his client using Sohn's credit card to make the purchase.
Petersen declined to comment on whether Lee would be willing to cooperate with authorities in return for a lighter sentence.
San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris noted that high-tech gadgets like laptops and iPods make identity theft and fraud all too easy.
"Perpetrators of identity theft are using increasingly sophisticated methods, and many serious white-collar crimes are now being committed primarily online," she said. "My office is committed to holding identity thieves accountable."
The SFPD's Lee said that, if nothing else, Lee's case highlights how things like iPods make data more portable than ever before.
"You want to think about that when you see people listening to iPods at a company where they have lots of information," he said. "They might not be listening to music."
David Lazarus' column appears Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Send tips or feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
|04-07-2006, 05:07 PM||#37|
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More evidence, more questions in killings
Police recover one victim's car -- body officially identified
Police uncovered more evidence Thursday as the investigation widened into the slayings of two young women whose bloody bodies were wrapped in plastic bags and dumped in industrial Richmond and San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.
Sophia Sciutto-Creps, 27, of South San Francisco was officially identified as the woman whose body was found by a gardener Wednesday in Golden Gate Park. Authorities say there were no obvious signs of trauma on her body, but blood was found on her face.
Sciutto-Creps' 21-year-old friend, Kimberly Millen of San Bruno, was found bludgeoned, stabbed and dumped four days earlier in Richmond.
The two women were last seen alive on March 27, and police are tracking their whereabouts that day.
Investigators got a break at 9 a.m. Thursday, when a law enforcement officer discovered Sciutto-Creps' missing 1996 green four-door Honda Civic parked in a space at a housing project in the 1700 block of 26th Street on Potrero Hill.
"A parole agent was out there, and a resident told him, 'Hey, that car was on the news,' " said Inspector Mike Johnson of San Francisco police homicide detail.
The car joins other key evidence now in the hands of investigators, including rubber gloves, identification belonging to the two women and Sciutto-Creps' bloody purse -- all found Monday alongside San Francisco's Lake Merced.
Sciutto-Creps' mother said her daughter, who was married and had a 2-year-old son, had known Millen for several years. Sciutto-Creps had previously worked as a paraprofessional at George Washington High School in San Francisco. On the day she disappeared, she had told her stepson that she was going for a job interview.
Her husband, Nigel Woods, told police that he was concerned about the people she had been associating with.
"Sophie was a very loving wife, and a loving mother -- she was loved and liked by a lot of people,'' Woods told The Chronicle on Thursday. "I did not like the people she was around, and I tried to tell her not to hang around those people.''
But, he said, she was a strong-willed person.
"She felt like she was in good company,'' Woods said.
Woods told authorities that his wife was sometimes gone for more than one day and had been using drugs, including crack and marijuana.
Creps' mother, Irene Creps, has said that her daughter had made some poor choices and that she believes her daughter did not realize the danger involved. She said the only drug she believed her daughter had experimented with was marijuana.
Millen's mother said that her daughter had called her March 27 and told her that she was on the way back with her friend after visiting friends in Oakland.
Richmond police Lt. Mark Gagan said investigators have yet to locate where the two women were killed.
"We don't have any evidence as to where she (Millen) was killed,'' Gagan said. "She could have been killed a hundred yards away or a hundred miles away. It's really hard to know.''
"Normally,'' he said, "as cases go forward, we eliminate people and angles and the evidence paints a picture. In this case, the more evidence that is located, the more witness statements we take, the more questions we have.''
Gagan said that locating the murder scene will be crucial to the case. "Our victim had dozens of stab wounds and blunt-force trauma,'' he said, indicating that it would be very difficult to conceal all the evidence left behind at the murder scene.
E-mail Jaxon Van Derbeken at email@example.com.
|04-10-2006, 03:02 AM||#38|
Zim Ratifies SADC Protocol On Fugitives
FUGITIVES from justice will soon have no hiding place as steps are being taken to harmonise legal systems in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), in addition to strengthening domestic regulatory and supervisory systems for the monitoring and detection of organised crime in United Nations member-states
To this end, last Wednesday, the House of Assembly ratified two protocols that deal with crime in the region and abroad. The first was the Sadc Protocol on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters that provides wide measures for legal co-operation between member-states in criminal matters. The second was the UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime that promotes effective co-operation among member-states in combating and preventing cross-border organised crime. The UN convention provides for the extradition of suspects wanted in connection with organised crime, including corruption. Legislators from both sides of the House consented to the protocols. Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Cde Patrick Chinamasa told the House that the Sadc protocol would clear some of the legal hurdles that were faced when suspects wanted in connection with corruption fled to neighbouring countries. The minister said the document was central to efforts to harmonise legal systems in the region. He said any disputes between member-states in relation to mutual legal assistance would be referred to the tribunal for arbitration. Contributing to the debate, Mr David Coltart (MDC, Bulawayo South) said the opposition welcomed the Sadc protocol. "Our law enforcement agencies have had problems in combating crime that goes beyond our borders. This is good and a welcome addition to our statutes," said Mr Coltart. The Sadc protocol provides for co-operation in investigations, prosecutions or proceedings relating to offences involving transnational organised crime and corruption. Assistance shall be provided without regard to whether the conduct under investigation or prosecution in the requesting state constitutes an offence under the laws of the requested state. The protocol will go a long way in enabling Zimbabwean police to facilitate prosecution of suspects wanted in connection with corruption who have taken refuge in some Sadc countries, particularly South Africa. Member-states are obliged to facilitate the appearance of witnesses or the assistance of persons in investigations as well as taking measures to freeze or forfeit the proceeds of crime. Upon request, a person in custody in the requested state shall be temporarily transferred to the requesting state to assist investigations or testify, provided that the person consents. When the person transferred is required to be kept in custody under the law of the requested state, the requesting state shall hold that person in custody and shall return the person at the conclusion of the execution of the request. The requested state shall also execute a request for the search, seizure and delivery of property to the requesting state if the request includes information justifying such action under its laws. However, the protocol shall not apply to the arrest or detention of a person with a view to extradition or the transfer of persons in custody to serve sentences. It shall also not apply to enforcement in the requested state of criminal judgments imposed in the requesting state except to the extent permitted by the laws of the requested state. The UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime requires member-countries to establish domestic regulatory and supervisory systems for the monitoring and detection of organised crime. The convention also provides for the confiscation and seizure of proceeds from transnational organised crime. State parties may consider the possibility of requiring that an offender demonstrate the lawful origin of alleged proceeds of crime or other property liable to confiscation. Proceeds of crime or property confiscated by a state party shall be disposed of in accordance with its domestic law and administrative procedures. The extradition of suspects shall be subject to the conditions provided by the domestic law of the requested state or applicable extradition treaties, including conditions in relation to the minimum penalty for extradition. Moving a motion for the ratification of the convention, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Cde Reuben Marumahoko told the House that the document was an effective legal tool in combating various forms of organised crime that included terrorism. Cde Marumahoko said the UN had created a fund to provide technical assistance in the implementation of the convention.
|04-10-2006, 03:25 AM||#39|
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Huge Block Of Ice Falls From Sky In Oakland
POSTED: 10:54 am PDT April 9, 2006
UPDATED: 11:16 am PDT April 9, 2006
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Even the experts are having trouble explaining a solid block of ice that fell from the sky, crashed into earth and left behind a three-foot hole in the grass.
The ice fell at Bushrod Park in Oakland early Saturday when homeowner Jacek Purat of Berkeley was waiting nearby to show apartments to prospective renters.
"It was totally amazing. ... I saw this flash, like a streak. Then I saw this explosion, like a big boom! I came over and it (the field) was all covered with ice. Some were this big," Purat said, making a head-size circle with his two hands.
Brooks and Judith Mencher said they were standing on their back porch near the park when they heard a sound like a very loud rocket. "It kind of went 'whoosh!"' Brooks Mencher said.
The impact "knocked turf 20 feet away," according to Oakland Police Sgt. Ron Lighten. No one was injured.
Lt. Charles Glass of the Oakland Fire Hazardous Materials Team said the ice was pure water. "It didn't come from a toilet on a plane or anything like that."
Glass said the ice that firefighters pulled from the hole was about the same size of the hole -- three by three feet and two and a half feet deep.
Tony Hirsch, a Columbus, Ohio-based aviation expert, said ice falls of pure water are not uncommon: "Ice builds up on airplanes and falls off as they prepare to land."
But Hirsch said the airplane "would have to descend through what we call visible moisture, rain or clouds, for ice to build up." The skies were partly cloudy Saturday morning.
He said a large chunk of ice could build up on the vertical stabilizer or in a wheel well: "When they lower their landing gear, it falls off."
The National Weather Service said San Francisco Bay area storms haven't been violent enough to hatch a gigantic hailstone on its own. "There's nothing meteorological that would create a piece that big falling into Oakland," said weather service forecaster Diana Henderson.
It could simply be an unexplained "ice fall," one expert said. Big balls of ice sometimes fall from the sky without any real explanation.
Copyright 2006 by KTVU.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
|04-10-2006, 03:31 AM||#40|
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Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Quick Hits: Election Tab, Fed Funds, Gloves Off
* Watchdog Funding Defeated: Meantime, a bill to restore full funding to the state's campaign watchdog agency, the Fair Political Practices Commission, was defeated in the Senate Elections Committee. SB 1120 (Ortiz) would have raised funding for the FPPC-- an agency whose total budget is about the same as it was 15 years ago, but whose caseload has increased while staff positions have been cut. Last fall, the FPPC had to close the books on political violation cases that may have been winnable, due to lack of funding.
* We Jail 'Em, Now Pay Up: California and 13 other states today called on Congress to provide more money to cover the costs of prisoners who are illegal immigrants. In 1990, the feds created a program to reimburse states, the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP). But full SCAAP funding has often been one of the casualties of the federal budget process. It's estimated that California spends some $750 million a year on these prisoners, while receiving only $121 million in reimbursements in 2005. Today's letter, signed by Schwarzenegger and 13 other governors, asks for $850 million in the 2007 fiscal year for the SCAAP program. "It is imperative," said Schwarzenegger in a news release, "that states receive financial assistance for the continued costs associated with the federal government's failure to secure the border." posted by John Myers at 4:03 PM
|04-10-2006, 03:39 AM||#41|
Zambia To Have Two More International Gateways
COMMUNICATIONS minister Abel Chambeshi on Thursday informed Parliament that Zambia would soon have two more international gateways to supplement Mwembeshi Earth Station.
Contributing to the motion to scrutinise the appointment of six individuals as members of the board of regulators for the Communications Authority, Chambeshi said another international gateway was in the process of being formed in Zambia.
He explained that the Zambia Telecommunications Company (Zamtel) was trying to lay a national network of fibre optic before the end of this year.
Chambeshi explained that the national network of fibre optic would act as another international gateway.
He said Zamtel and his ministry were currently negotiating with an organisation called Rascom (a Pan African Institution under the African Union) to set up a base in Lusaka to put up an all African Satellite into space.
We hope that this extension will be within the precincts as Mwembeshi Earth Station. This will become our third international gateway, Chambeshi said.
Chambeshi said whereas liberalisation was good, the nation should be careful not to kill the goose that lays the golden egg.
He said Zamtel was currently earning 60 per cent of its income from the international gateway.
Chambeshi said the government was actively investigating possibilities of liberalising the international gateway.
Chairperson of the select committee Joseph Kasongo said the Communications Authority should address the issue of another international gateway to supplement Mwembeshi Earth Station.
He noted over-reliance on Mwembeshi might one day create problems if it failed to work.
Kasongo argued that another gateway would help reduce communication costs.
Namwala UPND member of parliament Ompie Nkumbula-Liebenthal who seconded the motion said the Communications Authority played an important role in information dissemination.
She also called for adequate laws to mitigate against loss of privacy resulting from advances in telecommunication technologies.
Contributing to the motion, Chilanga UPND member of parliament Captain Cosmas Moono said mobile phone operators should be encouraged to roll out in rural areas.
Capt Moono advised government against liberalising the international gateway.
Communication is business and government is earning revenue from this facility controlled by Zamtel, Capt Moono said.
He said placing the international gateway in private hands might spell problems for the country.
Kalomo UPND member of parliament Request Muntanga said the 40 per cent shareholding for Zambians should be emphasised in the mobile phone industry.
He called for improvements in service delivery by mobile phone operators.
Muntanga said he was disappointed that Cell Z was failing to compete with the two other mobile phone operators.
Those appointed to the board are Alec Malichi, Colonel Crispin Mukumano, John Katepa, Wellington Chellah, Nancy Kalikeka Phiri and Elizabeth Kachamba.
|04-10-2006, 07:25 PM||#42|
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Mongrel Mob member Tai Nuttall. Picture / Alan Gibson
Doing the gangster rap in Rotorua
By Catherine Masters
Tai Nuttall's pet bulldogs don't look much like the one snarling away on the Mongrel Mob flag.
Javelin and Misla tumble out of the car wagging their tails. They look more interested in licking you to death than biting. Bulldogs may look ugly but they have a reputation for being gentle, not savage.
What's a Mob boss doing with them instead of pitbulls? The tattooed - but not particularly evil-looking - leader of the Mongrel Mob's Rotorua chapter gives a sideways look.
He has bulldogs obviously because bulldogs are the gang's insignia. They're on the patches on official jackets and the posters on Nuttall's garage wall.
"I just call her Jabby Girl, don't I, girl?" he says affectionately to one of the dogs. In the early days the breed was chosen as the Mob's symbol "probably for the vicious look".
Nuttall poses patiently for the photographer under the flag set up in his tidy lounge, his more agreeable side obscured by the weight of gang symbolism.
Rotorua police say we shouldn't be fooled by gang PR. The Mongrel Mob, they say, are the scum of the scum.
The "pigs", as Nuttall calls the police, have declared war on the Mongrel Mob.
In a new campaign of prolonged harassment the police are out to jail "key personalities" or drive them out of town.
Wanganui may be debating whether to ban gang patches in public places, but the war for control of Rotorua has already begun.
The police have had enough. They have had a gutsful of the armed robberies, burglaries, violence, weapons hauls, methamphetamine laboratories and other drug offences that they have traced back to the Mob.
Other gangs are being watched, but the Mob have been put on notice.
This is a reclaiming of the town. Police say crime has risen since the release of several prominent Mongrel Mob members over the past few years.
They have created themselves a business plan and are trying to rebuild their structure, busy recruiting young people.
At any one time the police have around six Mob names on a list.
As one member is arrested, another is targeted. If one is released from prison he goes back on the list.
The Weekend Herald is aware of some of the mob members police are watching.
Tai Nuttall is one. He has served time for armed robbery and two of his sons are known to the police.
Then there is Sam Cameron, one of nine Mongrel Mob members who went down for gang rape in 1992. And Malcolm Corbett, another of the gang rapists. In fact, all the rapists who are back in the area are being watched.
The list would include George Perham, if he was not already in Waikeria Prison.
But even in prison, the police keep watch on a man with Mob links who is said to be able to exert influence on criminals on the outside.
Late last year Perham allegedly assaulted three police officers and was considered so dangerous a special court hearing was held at the police cells.
Perham has been in and out of jail over the years and like many, "he really is doing life imprisonment by instalments", said one officer.
Police pull Mob members over for anything from minor traffic infringements to bail breaches, and drop around to their homes unannounced.
If a suspected methamphetamine lab is found or the police believe guns are involved, they call in the armed offenders squad. They say the Mob are not so brave face down in the dirt with a gun in the back of the head.
But this is not a quick crackdown. Police plan to wage this war indefinitely until the Mob stop offending.
Tai Nuttall calls it harassment. The police call it a stake in the ground.
In a town with a reputation of being ruled by the Mongrel Mob, its members are surprisingly hard to find. And when some are found, they do not want to talk.
Gone is the day of the big gang pad.
That burnt down after the gang rape and the Mob is scattered throughout Rotorua's low-decile suburbs while the tourists peel off into the nice motels and hotels and eat tourist-style hangi.
Nuttall does talk though, after an unscheduled visit to his modest rental home, where he is under the bonnet trying to fix his car. He can do without the police harassment, he says. He has had to leave two houses because of the police and his car is pulled over two or three times a day. "At the moment I'm having a hard enough problem trying to live a daily life, going through every day being judged."
Nuttall says he is not the leader of the Rotorua chapter, he is just a member. The group is run by committee.
He says it is not true that the Mongrel Mob is the worst, most violent gang, but the police don't like them because they cannot control them.
He works hard and says every time the police come around he is working on his car.
"I've worked all my life; forestry, logging. That's not an easy job."
He does not say much about his boys, but "It's not like I'm telling them how to do it ... Kids will be kids, teenagers will be teenagers. I've told my kids all their life, 'I was in jail, don't go down that road I went down, son'.
"I don't even want them to do crime. I tell you what, they don't have to do crime. I'm trying to teach them how to grow potatoes ... "
I ask if he has any guns inside. "Yeah, water pistol maybe."
Nuttall's philosophy on life and the Mongrel Mob - he is a 20-year veteran - goes like this: "If the brother's over there with all his family having a good day, good on him.
"If the brother's down the road beating someone up, good on him. What goes around comes around.
"It's up to each individual how they want to live their life. Why mock people? Life to me is about being happy, enjoying it and if the brother over next door wants to be a Christian, that's his priority, that's his life, and if the brother over here wants to be gay, good on him. I don't judge no one."
Asked about his comment that beating someone up is okay, he says that's how it was in the old days.
"That's how we survived as Maori. It's passed on to us through our blood - ancestors, tipuna. I don't judge no one, I keep my shit to myself, I try not to hurt anyone but if someone's going to hurt me, I'm going to stick up for myself."
When one of his boys said he wanted to be in the Mongrel Mob, Nuttall told him to stay in school.
"I said the only way you'll be able to help us will be [as] a lawyer."
Acting Rotorua Area Commander, Inspector Steve Bullock sits behind his desk in his lavender-coloured office at the Rotorua Police Station.
He feels pretty good about Operation Monkey because it seems to be working.
He didn't pick the lavender colour - he's only been in Rotorua a year - but isn't lavender supposed to be a soothing colour? he asks.
"They say if you go along the spectrum of the rainbow red is the most aggressive colour and violet is the most passive."
The Mongrel Mob favours red, the colour of aggression. Just look out for people wearing red in the city and surrounding suburbs and you will spot the Mob, he says.
But there is not much red and no sign of patches this week. This is because Operation Monkey has been going for several weeks and the Mob are lying low.
"It's about ownership," Bullock says. "When gang members feel confident enough to wear patches and to move around the town freely, well for me it's a pretty good signal they're feeling in control."
In February police found the Mob were responsible for 50 per cent of all burglaries in Rotorua.
It's not a huge number of people - Bullock reckons of three or four groups, about 15 or 20 people are the main offenders - but they commit a huge amount of crime.
In the first week of Operation Monkey 14 Mob members were arrested and burglary and vehicle crime halved, a good start. But there is another point to Operation Monkey. It is to remove what Bullock calls the Robin Hood syndrome where young people look at patched members as folk heroes.
"They look up and they say, 'Hey, he's cool, he's always got beer or drugs or cars or this and that', so by taking those people out and making their life uncomfortable we hope to take away the romance of being a gang member."
It may take a long time, but Bullock says police will give it a long time.
He makes no apology if the gang feels it is being harassed. It is being harassed.
"My staff won't be breaking any laws in pursuing these people. Stop committing crime and we won't harass you."
Senior Sergeant Dennis Murphy comes into the lavender office for a chat and takes the boss's chair.
Murphy co-ordinates who the patrols will visit each day. Police have no fear of gangs, he says.
Some are unpredictable but others are "gutless wimps". Besides, the police have the armed offenders squad.
"We're dealing with big, armed, organised criminals and they don't respond to bloody afternoon tea and crumpets. They respond to firm and hard policing and there's plenty of that to go around.
"You know, if gang members are the scum of the earth then as far as I'm concerned the Mongrel Mob are the scum of the scum. They're just vicious thugs."
Like many New Zealand towns, Rotorua has had a gang culture for decades and Murphy does have some sympathy for young members who want to get out but cannot.
He says the police have relocated some people, and anyone wanting out can contact them at any time.
Many of the young men coming up have seen extreme violence in and outside the home. They have been reared on drug use and alcohol abuse, they have been educated through video games and violent and pornographic movies and that is all they know.
"As a result of that we're dealing with 14- and 15-year-olds that are carrying guns. They want to be associated with the Mob, their role models are Mongrel Mob members and they want to be part of that gang culture.
"They think they're living out some sort of video game fantasy, that's all it is, they sit around smoking dope and P and bloody playing video games and that's their distorted view of reality and then they get hold of guns and they think that's all part and parcel of it that they can light up a street with a shooter," says Murphy.
P is not helping them - although it is helping the police. Murphy says P will cause the gang culture to be eroded. P wrecks minds and bodies and police can exploit that.
Gang members who are drug addicts are easier to get information from, are more willing to give up their associates.
"They get loose, they get untidy, they make mistakes and we just pick them off one by one, which is what we're doing."
Are the Mongrel Mob all bad? Slim, blonde Teresa Scally is behind the bar at The Lakehouse, a gang hang-out from way back with fantastic views of Lake Rotorua. We've got to get out of this place by the Animals plays on the jukebox as half a dozen old timers drink Happy Tuesday $5 jugs of beer. It's late afternoon.
Scally thinks about the question and comes up with the surprising answer: "They're lovely." She qualifies it later but says there is another side to the Mob.
They have not been in so much lately but she says they have always supported her in any sort of trouble and she has supported them as human beings.
"I've met the big bosses just by fluke. I didn't know they were the big bosses. I've met the worst of them, the very worst of them and unfortunately that drug P has got most of them.
"They haven't laid a finger on me, they haven't threatened me, they haven't stolen from me and up until about a year ago they were here; this is where they feel safe."
The Green, Green Grass of Home now plays as she says, "Sure, they can be nasty and bad ... "
But in this town, she says, there are so many unwanted children and lost teenagers, they have nothing else to gravitate to.
Another woman who knows Mongrel Mob members says they don't drink in the pubs any more; they drink in their own homes.
They move about town without their patches and you can't tell they are Mob. They hold down jobs, trying to keep it quiet.
"It's hard because they are trying to get on with their lives but their patch will always be there. I know bouncers that work in Rotorua and they're patched members and you wouldn't think so ... I never told you that."
The Mob are lovely people on the inside "but when they've got their patches on and alcohol and drugs inside them they're different, they're not the same people. They're nasty."
If you really want to interview a patched member go to the courthouse, she says.
At the courthouse there are no patches but there are some young men wearing red. One with tattoos who looks a likely candidate says politely he is not a Mob member but thank you for asking.
Outside a bar on Thursday morning a young man comes out for a smoke. Asked if he is Mongrel Mob, he grins and waves his hand in the Mob sign - thumb and little finger up, the middle fingers down. But his brain seems scrambled and he won't talk.
Convicted rapist Sam Cameron is polite on the phone, "Sure, mate." He would be happy to talk face to face but at the moment he's out of town.
Another of the gang rapists tracked down won't talk. He has turned his life around and wants to leave the past in the past.
In Christchurch a 31-year-old sociology student is writing a thesis about gangs in New Zealand. Jarrod Gilbert has hung with gang members, including Mob members, for about four years. He says the Mob is New Zealand's biggest gang, a third bigger than the Black Power. They have a fierce reputation, and yes, they can be incredibly violent.
But they can be hospitable and funny and doting parents too.
"Banning patches won't get rid of gangs, it will just drive them underground, he says.
Gangs form out of communities which are poor and marginalised.
"If we choose not to solve the problems in those communities we can't complain about gangs because they're natural consequences."
Back in Rotorua the police pose for their photograph, arms folded, staunch in front of rows of mugshots of Mongrel Mob targets on the wall behind them.
This is a war neither side wants to lose - the question is, who will win?
|04-10-2006, 11:35 PM||#43|
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 2,617Rep Power: 15
Senior enraged over ticket for walking too slow
Dana Bartholomew, LA Daily News
LOS ANGELES Mayvis Coyle, 82, was shuffling with her cane across busy Foothill Boulevard while a traffic police officer watched and waited. And watched and waited.
Even before Coyle finished crossing the intersection at Woodward Avenue, he had scribbled a $114 ticket for crossing against a don't-walk signal.
"I entered the crosswalk, it was green," said Coyle, of Sunland, who is fighting the infraction issued Feb. 15. "It turned red before I could get over. There he was, waiting, the motorcycle cop.
"He said, 'You're obstructing the flow of traffic."'
Coyle and other seniors at Monte Vista Mobile Estates are up in arms over signals they say are too short to safely cross the five-lane boulevard. They say signals turn red before they can reach the opposite curb on Sunland-Tujunga's busiest thoroughfare. They risk their lives each time they enter the crosswalk, they insist. At least one resident calls a cab just to cross the street.
"I can go halfway, then the light changes," said Edith Krause, 78, who uses an electric cart because she has difficulty walking. "I try my darndest to get to the other side without being killed."
So many seniors have complained about hasty intersections that Councilwoman Wendy Greuel asked transportation officials last week to study how to accommodate them.
The standard speed used for timing pedestrians is 4 feet per second. Greuel said that on streets with numerous seniors, like Foothill, signals need to be lengthened to make way for elderly pedestrians and those with special needs.
The Coyle incident "has brought to bear an issue that is relatively common," Greuel said. "We should look at those areas with predominantly seniors and accommodate their needs in intersections."
The danger to pedestrians particularly senior citizens is acute, Los Angeles police say. Of the 94 pedestrians killed in the San Fernando Valley from 2003-05 while crossing the street, 31 were seniors.
Sgt. Mike Zaboski of the Valley Traffic Division said he couldn't comment on Coyle's ticket, that it was her word against the officer who cited her identified only as Officer Kelly as to whether she entered the crosswalk on the green.
"Right now, pedestrian accidents are above normal," he said Friday.
"We're looking out for pedestrians people who think they have carte blanche in crossing the street.
"I'd rather not have angry pedestrians," he said of those like Coyle. "But I'd rather have them be alive."
"It's a safety concern," added Jerry Baik, an assistant supervisor of trials for City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, whose office prosecutes traffic infractions like Coyle's.
"It's the officer's observation that she was acting in a dangerous way to herself as well as oncoming traffic."
Others besides Coyle, however, say signals on Foothill prompt a foot race to the other side.
On Friday, students ran not walked to make the lights, measured at 20 seconds from green to red.
"It sucks," said Sara Johnson, 14, of Sunland, who had just scampered with friends across the crosswalk at Woodward. "When the light turns red, you can't cross the street."
Chung Kim, manager of Jimmie Dean's Charbroiled Burgers at Foothill and Woodward, has seen many close calls.
"Very hard to cross," he said, watching the intersection from his grill,
"because signal's too short, the cars go so fast, every car over 45 miles per hour. It's crazy."
Coyle, a Cherokee medicine woman who splits her time between Sunland and the mountains above Sedalia, Colo., has done everything to fight her ticket, including send letters to Greuel's office.
The octogenarian, who has no phone or car, said she was simply hefting her groceries home when she not only got trapped in a busy intersection but got a ticket from a cop to boot.
"I think it's completely outrageous," said Coyle, wearing an Indian feather cap and homemade rock pendant. "I can't walk without a stick and I lose my balance. "He treated me like a 6-year-old, like I don't know what I'm doing. I'm in shock that somebody's going to stop me on a green light while crossing the street."
|04-12-2006, 03:45 PM||#44|
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Names change, faces the same
Oakland police see troubling trends continue as the city's homicide rate climbs
By Harry Harris, STAFF WRITER
Beverly Franklin, holding a picture of daughter Stephanie Franklin, cries as she remembers seeing her child walk out the door for the last time. Stephanie Franklin, an 18-year-old honor student at Merritt College, was killed in 2004 when a gunman shot into a car where she was a passenger. (Nick Lammers/staff)
OAKLAND Ninety-four homicide victims were added to Oakland's roster of the dead in 2005.
The tally was six more than in 2004, but the faces of victims and suspects did not change much from previous years, and neither did the reasons or attempts to explain why people kill.
As upsetting as the deaths are for relatives and friends of the victims, more sobering is why police believe some suspects are more apt to pull a trigger or thrust a knife, beyond the traditional reasons of poverty, social breakdown or greed.
Twenty-nine of 51 suspects arrested in 2005 were18 to 25 years old.
Veteran officers said many lacked morals and were simply trying to make names for themselves by exhibiting violent behavior they learned from others.
"The biggest problem we have is their behavior didn't start (recently)," said Lt. Jim Emery, homicide unit commander. "It started years ago when these young guys were developing, and it got to the point today where they feel it's all right to kill somebody. They don't value life, some of these young guys."
Another factor, Emery said, is that many murder suspects have a criminal record and either were on probation or parole when they killed someone. If they had received longer prison time, some killings might not have happened, he said. Of the known suspects in 2005 killings, more than 30 were on parole or probation.
Officer Jason Andersen, who works as a field investigator for the homicide unit, has arrested more than 30 murder suspects in his 15-year career, most of them 18 to 25 years old.
He said he believes drug use especially Ecstasy peer pressure and exposure to violence, both personally witnessed or seen in the media, play a role in a killer's makeup.
That, and a lack of positive upbringing and no respect for authority, whether it be law enforcement, parents or teachers.
"Some of these kids are pretty much raising themselves and learning on the street," Andersen said. "They're trying to make names for themselves."
Retired Officer Margaret Dixon, who headed the department's Police Activities League program for many years and still volunteers there, has been a mentor to thousands of young people.
She agrees that younger, violent offenders are usually exhibiting "behavior that is learned," whether from family members or others. "They are doing what they have been seeing. No one has intervened."
The young people she had dealt with, including some who have had brushes with law enforcement, "want to do better. But they also want to be accepted, and to some this violence is acceptable behavior. We have to change that mind-set."
Of the 2005 victims, 88 were men, and six were women. Sixty-two were African American, 25 Latino, four Asian, one white, one Samoan and one Middle Eastern.
Eighty victims died from a gunshot. Knives or some other cutting weapon killed another 12. One victim was beaten to death, and one was almost literally scared to death when robbers denied him his heart pills.
The races of the 74 known suspects including those not arrested generally mirror that of victims: Fifty-seven were African American, 13 Latino and four Asian. At least 42 suspects were 18 to 30 years old.
Some of those slain were innocent, random victims who had no idea who their killers were. Some were the intended target who had known their killers for years.
Their last breaths were taken mostly on a sidewalk or street, but some died in their homes, in a car or at a business. Good neighborhoods, not-so-good neighborhoods slaying sites spanned the city.
Last year's higher homicide tally was mainly because of increases in three categories. Robbery-related
killings went from five in 2004 to 11 in 2005, gang killings from three to nine and domestic violence slayings from two to five, although one was deemed self-defense and the suspect not charged.
There were no child abuse murders in 2005 compared with three in 2004, and there have been none so far in 2006.
Argument-related killings dropped from 25 in 2004 to 16 in 2005. But some of the incidents that ignited the deadly disputes were as inconceivable as in past years, involving a minor traffic accident, staring too much at an attractive woman and deciding what TV channel to watch.
Some say fewer police officers on the street there are about 100 vacancies in the Police Department played a role. That may have contributed, but there were some cases where people were killed moments after an officer drove by, making investigators wonder whether the killer would have eventually gotten his target anyway.
The increase from 88 to 94 slayings was not much by itself. But because there were 13 homicides in December alone and 39 more so far this year a number that was not reached until July 2005 people are concerned a triple-digit finish is possible for 2006.
So far, 2006's high number can be attributed to at least six gang-related killings, at least five retaliation or revenge slayings and five with some kind of drug link.
To deal with the rising homicide rate and ominous double-digit percentage increases in robberies and assaults, police have increased the number of officers on the streets more than 100 now work weekend shifts where crime is more prevalent and redeployed them more effectively.
Chief Wayne Tucker said victim and suspect patterns are being analyzed to gain useful prevention information, and Oakland officers are talking to other cities to see how they are combating rises in crime.
Since drugs play a huge role in most crimes, that will be an enforcement focus, as will added "targeting of people with a history of violence and an inclination to be violent," Tucker said.
Dixon believes preventive approaches will help lower the homicide rate. She said young people need to be reached as early as possible to turn them away from a life of crime, to show them they can succeed in a different environment.
Voter passage of Measure Y has made money available for intervention and other programs not only for young people but others at risk, including ex-convicts trying to stay out of trouble.
Dixon is optimistic such programs can have an impact. But they have to be something young people will participate in, and their input should be sought.
"As adults, we put out what we think they want, but they might not, so we have to find out what they want to do. We have to let them know they can do better, they can be better. They just need a chance."
Making participants feel safe is also important. Dixon said that some of the youngsters she has talked to are reluctant to go to parts of the city where they don't live because they are fearful of violence they have heard about, whether real or embellished.
"What good is the money if the programs aren't used?" Dixon said.
Correspondent Veronica Martinez contributed to this report.
|04-12-2006, 03:48 PM||#45|
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Governor backpedals on emissions
Schwarzenegger: Caps before 2010 would scare off businesses
By Ian Hoffman, STAFF WRITER
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger answers questions at a climate change summit Tuesday at San Francisco City Hall. (Associated Press)
SAN FRANCISCO After pushing the nation's most aggressive goals for cutting greenhouse gases, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday disappointed many environmentalists by backing a go-slow approach, making industry report its greenhouse emissions but not capping those emissions until 2010.
"I think we should start without the caps," Schwarzenegger said at a hearing on greenhouse-gas reductions at San Francisco City Hall. "I think we can accomplish a lot without the caps. I think with the caps we could really
scare the business community, and they mightleave California."
Environmentalists said setting a ceiling on releases of greenhouse gases was essential for getting industry to buy cleaner technologies and build more energy-efficient plants.
"What we're hearing today is a lot of talk and no action," said Bill Magavern of the Sierra Club.
Others said it probably would take years for California to set up a regulatory cap, as well as a carbon market, so that hundreds of power plants, cement factories, refineries and other major sources could buy, sell and trade permits to release greenhouse gases at levels under the cap. But they agreed industry needs to know emissions reductions will be required.
"We think a cap is essential and needs to be put into law now, even if it is not implemented now," said Karen Douglas, director of the California Climate Initiative for Environmental Defense. "To get industry to be serious about how does this work, we think there needs to be a commitment to a cap right now."
Advocates for greenhouse-gas reductions at the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Natural Resources Defense Council chalked up the governor's new position to "a matter of timing."
"We just hope the governor doesn't get stalled by some business interests who don't want to do anything," said Dan Kalb, coordinator of California policy for UCS.
Flanked by twin, giant photos of an Austrian glacier, full of ice in 1875 and vanished to reveal grassy alps in 2004, Schwarzenegger asked corporate executives, economists and state lawmakers for advice on curbing emissions in California, the world's 12th largest source.
PG&E president and chairman Peter Darbee said the "problem of global warming is urgent and something we need to deal with."
He prefers uniform federal regulation rather than a patchwork of state limits. But if California is moving toward regulation, Darbee said, "What we think is important is to get the right balance between moving ahead and doing it thoughtfully, so we know that it works."
But some manufacturers and industries warned that greenhouse gas regulations will cost California growth and jobs. Tom Tietz, head of the California-Nevada Cement Promotion
Council, said his energy-intensive industry is growing but would be at risk.
"We fear that a cap system would effectively force us to import more cement from foreign nations and other states," he told Schwarzenegger.
Three studies of California's goals for greenhouse gas reductions have found little or positive economic impact, with the governor's own advisory team reporting a net gain of 83,000 jobs.
But Margo Thorning, chief economist for the American Council for Capital Formation, said those studies use "non-mainstream" assumptions. Other studies of greenhouse regulations in the U.S. Northeast and Europe found substantial costs, including higher heating and vehicle fueling costs for families.
"If they spend more to insulate their houses, they might not be able to spend as much money on other things," she said.
Thorning also voiced doubts that creating a cap-and-trade program will nudge ahead the kind of technological advances needed to capture greenhouse emissions from fossil fuel burning or find new, carbon-free energy sources.
Manufacturers said much the same thing in 1959 when California led the nation in regulating air pollutants, said Mike Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission.
"Everyone said, 'Oh, you can't do this, you'll screw up the economy,'" Peevey said. "We can deal with the cement industry and not thwart its growth. There are things we can do that are thoughtful and logical. But I do think we need caps."
Assemblywoman Fran Pavley of Southern California authored California's law requiring vehicles to cut greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent and is co-sponsoring legislation that would firm up Schwarzenegger's goals cuts to 2000 emissions by 2010 and to 1990 levels by 2020 by ordering the air-pollution agency to come up with reduction strategies.
Climate change is happening faster than many scientists predicted, she said, and California can reap economic benefits by inventing and selling solutions.
"California needs to seize this economic opportunity," Pavley said. "A cap right now would signal the marketplace that we're serious, that we're going to be the home of clean tech to export to other communities."
Contact Ian Hoffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.