Santa Clara University
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Weather monitoring for energy efficiency 11/18/2009 Environmental Expert Text View Clip
Gay CatholicsCome Out 11/18/2009 North Bay Bohemian Text View Clip
Secretly, San Jose is the most gay-friendly diocese in the nation. And now, one parish wants the wor 11/18/2009 Metro Silicon Valley - Online Text View Clip
Intel to pay chip rival Advanced Micro Devices $1.25B in antitrust settlement 11/18/2009 SiliconValley.com Text View Clip
Technology and The Environment: Using Technology to Build Greener Homes 11/17/2009 thetechnologicalcitizen.com Text View Clip
Insuring the young 11/17/2009 Wichita Eagle Text
OLYMPIC BUSINESS STAYS IN THE 'FAMILY' 11/17/2009 Seattle Times Text
San Jose teens charged as adults in stabbing 11/17/2009 ABC 7 Morning News at 5 AM - KGO-TV Text View Clip
Olympic business stays in the 'family' 11/17/2009 Seattle Times - Online Text View Clip
ARS Lab tests can predict environmental effects of transgenic Bt crop lines 11/17/2009 AgProfessional Text View Clip
Doing the right thing for your body and mind Exercise environment matters! 11/16/2009 Psychology Today - Online Text View Clip
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DNA results raise questions about '85 killing 11/15/2009 Monterey County Herald Text
BusinessWeek The case against retirement 11/15/2009 MSNBC.com Text View Clip
As holidays approach, retailers are hopeful and shoppers are wary 11/15/2009 Oroville Mercury-Register Text View Clip
DNA results raise questions about 1985 Monterey killing 11/15/2009 San Jose Mercury News - Online Text View Clip
DNA results raise questions about 1985 Monterey killing 11/15/2009 InsideBayArea.com Text View Clip
As holidays approach, retailers are hopeful and shoppers are wary 11/14/2009 Santa Cruz Sentinel - Online Text View Clip
As holidays approach, retailers are hopeful and shoppers are wary 11/14/2009 San Jose Mercury News - Online Text View Clip
Land Beyond 11/13/2009 North Bay Bohemian Text View Clip
Intel to pay chip rival Advanced Micro Devices $1.25B in antitrust settlement 11/13/2009 InsideBayArea.com Text View Clip
More settlements from Intel likely 11/13/2009 San Francisco Chronicle Text
The Case Against Retirement 11/13/2009 MSN Money (US) Text View Clip
Viruses Frame PC Owners for Child Porn 11/13/2009 Edgemiami.com Text View Clip
Intel to pay chip rival Advanced Micro Devices $1.25B in antitrust settlement 11/13/2009 Los Angeles Daily News - Online Text View Clip
Predicting the Environmental Effects of Transgenic Bt Crop Lines 11/13/2009 Iowa Ag Connection Text View Clip
INSIDE INTEL, AMD'S $1.25 BILLION TRUCE 11/13/2009 San Jose Mercury News Text
Intel to pay chip rival Advanced Micro Devices $1.25B in antitrust settlement 11/13/2009 Oroville Mercury-Register Text View Clip
Ethics of Space Exploration 11/12/2009 Forum - KQED-FM Text View Clip
Framed for child porn - by a PC virus 11/12/2009 Sydney Morning Herald - Online Text View Clip
The Case Against Retirement 11/12/2009 BusinessWeek - Online Text View Clip
Black Friday deals have begun 11/12/2009 ABC 7 Morning News at 5 AM - KGO-TV Text View Clip
Opinion Prosecutor misconduct has a high public cost 11/12/2009 San Jose Mercury News - Online Text View Clip
Agreement on Kelly case before Supreme Court 11/11/2009 Willits News Text View Clip
Can You Buy Your Way Into a Flu Shot? 11/10/2009 SmartMoney - Online Text View Clip
Conscience issue separates Catholic moral camps 11/10/2009 National Catholic Reporter Text View Clip
INNOCENCE PROTECTION ACT - Part 1 11/10/2009 Congressional Testimony - CQ Transcriptions Text
ROBERT HENDERSHOT IS A FINANCE PROFESSOR AT SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY. 11/09/2009 ABC 7 News at 6 PM- KGO-TV Text
Planning Your End-of-Life Care 11/09/2009 Hartford Courant - Online Text View Clip
Credit card companies try to beat new law 11/09/2009 ABC 7 Morning News at 5 AM - KGO-TV Text View Clip
Many fold up laptops, shift to smart phones 11/09/2009 San Francisco Chronicle Text
More users offload laptop work to smart phones 11/09/2009 San Francisco Chronicle - Online Text View Clip
Innocent bystanders framed for child porn — by a PC virus 11/09/2009 Deseret News Text
Solar Decathlon 2009 11/04/2009 ArchitectureWeek Text View Clip
31 Sneaky Mood Boosters 11/03/2009 Redbook Text View Clip
Team California Wins Third Place in the 2009 Solar Decathlon with Help of Jesuit Mentor 10/30/2009 National Jesuit News Text View Clip
NorCal Innocence Project Scores $2.4 Million Grant 10/27/2009 Legal Pad, a Cal Law Blog Text View Clip
Worldwide Day of Climate Action 10/24/2009 KPFA-FM Text View Clip
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Weather monitoring for energy efficiency | View Clip
11/18/2009
Environmental Expert

Orion LX Weather Station from Columbia Weather Systems assisted the Refract House in its third place win at the 2009 Solar Decathlon in Washington DC. The goal of the bi-annual competition is to design and build net-zero energy houses.

A joint venture by Santa Clara University and California College of the Arts, Refract House utilizes weather data to improve energy efficiency of HVAC systems and to control automated systems such as closing windows and lowering blinds.

'One of the main reasons we chose the Orion Weather Station was because of the easy connectivity to the rest of our system, and because of its aesthetics,' says Ross Rueker of SCU. 'With no moving parts and its small design, we were able to provide our house with accurate weather data while still maintaining its sleek design.'

Columbia Weather Systems manufacturers professional weather stations with industrial interfaces such as Modbus/OPC, 4-20mA, SNMP and XML.

http://www.environmental-expert.com/resultEachPressRelease.aspx?cid=36308&codi=75213&lr=1

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Gay CatholicsCome Out | View Clip
11/18/2009
North Bay Bohemian

Secretly, San Jose is the most gay-friendly diocese in the nation. And now, one parish wants the world to know.

Photographs by Felipe Buitrago

A BEARDED PRIEST in bright-green vestments lifts a rainbow-adorned chalice as he delivers the Eucharistic Prayer, consecrating the bread and wine for the sacrament of Communion. Surrounding him, a dozen people link hands around an altar inside a tiny, dimly lit chapel at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Parish in San Jose.

"Lift up your hearts," the priest says.

"We lift them up to the Lord," responds the congregation in unison.

"Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God."

"It is right to give him thanks and praise."

This is the Emmaus Mass, the only bishop-sanctioned gathering for gay and lesbian Catholics in the Diocese of San Jose. Held on Saturday evenings inside a small glass room, this quiet, subdued gathering of older men and women focuses on being a safe place of support for Silicon Valley's LGBT Catholic community and their families.

The following Sunday morning, a different kind of mass is being held at a humble, suburban Catholic parish in south San Jose. St. Julie Billiart Parish sits at the base of the dry, rolling foothills near Santa Teresa Park, surrounded by tract homes. No grand statues or opulent stained glass adorns the slope-roofed exterior of the unobtrusive church. Inside, a large, diverse, family-oriented crowd has gathered for a much more jubilant service.

St. Julie's pastor, Rev. Jon Pedigo, leads the liturgical music at the 11:30am mass, backed by a teenage band. Singing at the top of his lungs, he pounds out songs on a grand piano while his Birkenstock-clad feet thump the instrument's pedals.

Today's gospel reading is the story of Bartimaeus, a blind beggar who called out to Jesus for pity, though the people of Jericho tried to silence him. Pacing between pews filled with seniors, children, teens, families and gay couples, Pedigo breaks down the story as he delivers his homily.

"Physical sight was Bartimaeus' issue," he says, "but the real sin was the blindness in the seeing-people around him. Seeing-people see skin color, status, age, gender, weight, orientation, education level, etc. They do not see the real you."

"Those we silence at our convenience. Have pity on me!" he prays. "Those whose life partners embarrass us in polite company. Have pity on me!"

"In my heart, I believe we are at the brink of a great awakening in our global community. I believe that as the upper echelons of ecclesial power worry themselves with the window dressings of Christian tradition and thus fade into irrelevance, there will be a renaissance of a more 'radical' or 'root' Christian faith."

The Diocese of San Jose has long been one of the most gay-friendly Roman Catholic ecclesiastical territories in the United States. Few people know this, and many in the local Catholic community would like it stay that way.

On the orders of former Bishop Roland Pierre DuMaine and current Bishop Patrick Joseph McGrath, the diocese has been able to offer ministry and support to local gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Catholics for more than 20 years by operating under the radar.

Recently, progressive Catholic leaders and members of the San Jose religious community are working to change this tentative approach to gay Catholic ministry.

In fact, led by Pedigo, St. Julie Billiart Parish has developed a strong following among Silicon Valley's gay Catholics. Currently, the church's pastoral staff is considering a proposal to take even more open and bold steps toward the establishment of church-directed LGBT outreach, along with helping other parishes extend a hand to their own gay parishioners.

In light of President Barack Obama's speech at the Human Rights Campaign dinner last month, and with Maine's gay marriage law being repealed Nov. 3, more and more American Catholics are calling for the opening of a dialogue on the church's stance on homosexuality and marriage equality. As the outlook for gay rights in the church looks grim, a few progressive Catholic communities are making grassroots efforts to include everybody at the Lord's table, no matter their race, economic status or sexual orientation.

Still, the Vatican continues to assert that gay marriage is one of the biggest threats to morality in the modern world, and that homosexuality is a pitiable, "intrinsically disordered" condition no different from alcoholism. LGBT-identifying Catholics face a battle for acceptance even in the Bay Area, where there is perhaps more tolerance and support than anywhere.

Even the few clergy members who acknowledge the gay Catholic community feel that they have to keep their ministry on the down low. Many fear retaliation by conservative Catholic factions if they upset the apple cart, particularly those who supported Proposition 8 last year, like Oakland Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, who helped spearhead the initiative. Just last week, the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., announced its intention to withdraw all church-funded social services should the D.C. City Council legalize same-sex marriage.

Another obstacle to acceptance comes this Nov. 16, when the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops gathers in Baltimore to review its new pastoral statement titled "Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan." If approved, this official statement will be the final nail in the coffin for gay marriage in the eyes of the Catholic Church, establishing it as the most anti-LGBT religious institution in the United States.

MINISTER OF MUSUIC Rev. Jon Pedigo leads the liturgical band during the St. Julie's parish 11:30am Sunday mass, on Oct. 25, 2009.

The SinnersAnd the Sin

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' official teaching on homosexuality is that same-sex orientation in itself is not a sin, because it is not subject to one's free will. However, the bishops state that being gay is an "intrinsically disordered" condition, and that people who choose to act on their homosexual inclinations are engaging in sin.

"While the Church teaches that homosexual acts are immoral, she does distinguish between engaging in homosexual acts and having a homosexual inclination" says the USCCB's official statement "Ministry to Persons With a Homosexual Inclination," released in 2006. "While the former is always objectively sinful, the latter is not. Although one would be morally culpable if one were voluntarily to entertain homosexual temptations or to choose to act on them, simply having the tendency is not a sin."

The statement goes on to lay out how gay men and lesbians should always choose lives of celibacy. In the church's view, the only reason that people should ever act on their sexuality is for the direct purpose of procreation. Church leaders have concluded that the sole aim of homosexual relationships is narcissistic genital sexual gratification, which is a sin.

"Always Our Children," a USCCB pastoral statement published in 1997, has become the go-to guide for how Catholic parishes, like St. Julie Billiart, are supposed to treat gay individuals. It encourages families to accept and love their gay sons and lesbian daughters when they come out, while at the same time encouraging them to completely abstain from sex.

"You can help a homosexual person in two general ways," says Always Our Children. "First encourage him or her to cooperate with God's grace to live a chaste life. Second, concentrate on the person, not on the homosexual orientation itself. ... All in all, it is essential to recall one basic truth. God loves every person as a unique individual."

"It's been the most positive pastoral statement that has come out of our church in this regard, and it's effectively helped to start most [LGBT] ministries around the country," says Schexnayder. "In the last 10 years, it's really been the impetus for many ministries to develop support on the diocesan and parish level. It's been a resource for education."

Schexnayder says that although the church apposes gay marriage and gay sexual relationships, he is encouraged by the fact that Always Our Children says that gay parishioners should continue to be part of Catholic communities.

"It depends on the person and how they receive it," he says. "It has a lot to do with being in support of parents in a compassionate and loving way, and being in support of gay and lesbian people. It says that you are a child of God created for a purpose in God's design. That's a very positive statement for many people, that you're not a mistake. You're not the enemy."

James B. Nickoloff, a Catholic theologian and a fellow at Santa Clara University, says that the Catholic Church's view of homosexuality is that gay people are afflicted with a grave disorder.

"The official teachings see it as something which is not the responsibility of the person who has it. They shouldn't be blamed for it, like you shouldn't blame an alcoholic for being an alcoholic," says Nickoloff. "If the person acts on their condition of being an alcoholic, in other words, if they go to a bar and drink, then the outcome of that is always going to be damaging to the person themselves, to the people around them and to society. Because, they're going to get into their car, they are going to be drunk and they are going to kill somebody. That's how the church sees homosexuality."

Last May, Nickoloff published a paper titled "Intrinsically Disordered: Gay People and the Holiness of the Church," while serving as a resident professor at the Santa Clara University Religious Studies Department. A devout Catholic, Nickoloff is also a self-affirming gay man who is legally married in the state of Massachusetts. He taught four courses on the relationship between homosexuality and the church while doing his research.

"My question to the official teachers of the church, the clergy and especially the bishops, is: Where are the studies that demonstrate that when a person acts on a homosexual orientation, it's harmful? In fact, most studies show that homosexual people, who enter into loving, permanent relationships with other people, are happier and more productive. So, that's where the bind is, because the teaching doesn't make sense," says Nickoloff.

HUMANITARIAN ANGLE: Bob Rucker, a St. Julie's parishioner and professor at San Jose State University, teaches a class in Dwight Bentel Hall. Rucker is leading St. Julie's outreach to the LGBT Catholic community.

Bishops Say 'No'

One of the broad goals the USCCB has set for itself for 2010 is the "defense of marriage effort," which will be a top item for discussion at its general assembly this week. The development of "Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan" is part of a broader initiative to promote and strengthen marriage in an era where more than half of heterosexual marriages are destined to fail.

A draft of the statement was leaked to the web last month. The official document states that same sex unions are one of the most troubling developments in contemporary culture.

"[Same sex marriage] harms both the intrinsic dignity of every human person and the common good of society," reads the draft statement, which will be debated and voted on by the bishops this week. "The legal recognition of same-sex unions poses a multifaceted threat to the very fabric of society, striking at the source from which society and culture come and which they are meant to serve."

The statement continues by asserting that same-sex marriage has nothing to do with civil rights.

"Today, advocacy for the legal recognition of various same sex relationships is often equated with nondiscrimination, fairness, equality and civil rights. However, it is not unjust to oppose legal recognition of same-sex unions, because marriage and same-sex unions are essentially different realities. The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital is not opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires it."

"Protecting marriage between a man and a woman has nothing to do with denying basic rights to anyone, though it is often framed in such terms," said Louisville Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz in the Nov. 4 statement. After praising Maine's voters for denying gay men and women the right to marry, he went on to underscore the fact that the church "stands for the basic rights of all people, including homosexual persons" and "decries any unjust discrimination against persons who experience same-sex attraction."

Many gay Catholics believe that the reason that this contradiction in the church exists is due to a lack of communication. There is a huge moat between those laying down the religious law—the bishops and the Vatican—and the realities of contemporary culture that parish priests face every day.

"I think the bishops are seriously separated from the culture in general, and gay and lesbian people in particular," Nickoloff says. "Who are they listening to? Where are they getting their information? In the Catholic Church, there are no women writing documents, and there are no openly gay people writing documents either. So, that's one of the reasons why the bishops are so distant. They are sort of making it harder and harder, in recent years, for themselves to hear the stories of real gay people."

Bill Welch, a longtime member of the Emmaus Community and the former head of the San Jose chapter of DignityUSA, the national organization for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Catholics, says that many in the local gay Catholic community are not looking forward to the outcome of this week's vote.

"People are getting tired of the words 'intrinsically evil' and 'objectively disordered.' They are saying, 'I don't want to hear that anymore. Throw that out. Get rid of it.'

"When they were doing Prop. 8, nobody interviewed any gay or lesbian Catholics, so nobody had any idea of where and what position these people are coming from. The same with this pastoral letter."

Catholics by Choice

The front page of the weekly bulletin at St. Julie Billiart says "All Are Welcome," specifically pointing out that it is a community of "people who are straight, gay and lesbian." It is a rare statement for a Catholic parish bulletin, written by Pedigo, the church's pastor.

Unlike many who enter the priesthood, Pedigo did not grow up Roman Catholic. He says, half-joking, that's why he is not saddled with traditional Catholic guilt.

Pedigo was raised in Pacifica, the son of a Buddhist mother of Japanese decent who grew up in the sugar cane plantation camps of Hawaii. His father is a Caucasian Protestant and a former union organizer.

"I really didn't have those shame issues," Pedigo says. "My perceptions of God came from a more Asian perspective, that God exists for unity and love. It's a different way of dealing with it that's not so much the punishment piece."

Though his family was not Catholic, Pedigo says he had a desire to attend church from a young age. He says he enjoyed the music, as well as the free donuts. He says he became aware of his spiritual side while attending college in the late 1970s, majoring in music and performance at San Francisco State University. While he focused on mastering the clarinet, he also became involved with political and social justice issues.

"It was at that point that I started looking into this integration of poetry, music, spirituality and political activism. I just saw all of those pieces coming together, and always had the reference point of the Catholic church," he says. Pedigo insists that his coming of age in San Francisco was like any other young adult.

"I went on dates, I had fun. I was a music major, so I'd go out with a lot of people partying and stuff like that," he recalls. "I guess the difference was that there was a part of me that is just like anybody else, but there was also a part of me that is more introspective. That's the part that began to dominate my life. When everybody around me was pushing the limits and pushing the envelope in terms of the excesses of the 1970s and '80s, I actually did the opposite."

It was after attending graduate school for his master's in music education at Indiana University, Bloomington, that Pedigo decided to start seriously exploring theology.

"Everything began to come together, so my whole life has been a series of integrating various strands and weaving them into one common thread of social change," he says. "When converting, I had the question 'Should I or shouldn't I pursue this and live it as a full-time job.' The answer was yeah, this is really what I want to do. It makes me feel that I'm doing the right thing. It feels natural to me."

However, while exploring the possibility of converting to Catholicism, he learned fast that the norms that he grew up with in the liberal Bay Area and the world of academia did not fly in the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

A self-described "bad seminarian," Pedigo says he frequently clashed with his superiors after entering St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park in 1984. He later earned his Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley.

"I'm a better priest then I was a seminarian," he says. "I talked way too much and I said too many controversial things. Seminarians are supposed to be quiet and complacent, and I tended to have opinions, and they weren't always received well. My thought was, I want them to know and let them see what they are ordaining."

In addition to friction at the seminary, he faced opposition at home. When he finally made the decision to join the priesthood, Pedigo says, his parents practically disowned him because they viewed the Roman Catholic Church as a self-serving institution.

"My parents were very upset," he says. "They were really set on having grandkids, my mother especially, and that just wasn't part of the gig.

"In one of her fits of consternation, we were sitting eating, and my father was in the next room watching TV. She stopped eating and we looked at each other and she said, 'You mean to tell me that you're going to listen to some man 10,000 miles away from here, and you don't even listen to the man in the next room?"

Pedigo's parents were not present at his ordainment ceremony in 1991. He says his mother and father eventually came to terms with his chosen lifestyle when he started taking more of an activist role at his first parish, St. Catherine of Alexandria in Morgan Hill.

That's also where he received his first hate mail, after he began getting involved in farm rights in South County.

Ask and Tell

Though it is a small, 1,000-household suburban church, St. Julie Billiart Parish has a substantial number of gay and lesbian parishioners, dating back to its start in the mid-1970s. St. Julie's founder, Rev. Matthew Sullivan, and second pastor Rev. Richard Fry, were both strong believers in the liberal reforms of Pope John XXIII's Vatican II.

Pedigo joined St. Julie's community in July 2001, after Fry retired.

He says it was already a liberal-leaning Catholic community when he became pastor, and that it was important for him to establish strong involvement and leadership within the lay ministry and staff.

With the help of Pedigo, St. Julie's also formed a pastoral council that came to consensus early on that they wanted to make a point by addressing and acknowledging all types of people who called St. Julie's their parish.

"There are gay and lesbian people in every Catholic parish," Pedigo says. "Even in the most conservative parishes there are gay and lesbian parishioners present. Certainly the parents and friends of gay and lesbian persons are in the pews at any time.

"Our thing is we simply acknowledge the fact that they are there. So it's not like we're a dysfunctional family where there is this pink elephant in the room and nobody's talking about the pink elephant."

Pedigo said that as he started to notice the growing LGBT Catholic community that was coming to St. Julie's, he decided to consult the established gay Catholic community at the Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in San Francisco's Castro District.

"I said, 'Look, I'm a server in San Jose, and I have all these gay and lesbian people coming for baptism and wanting their babies to be baptized and raising their kids and their families Catholic. And we've got kids in the youth group who are sexual.' I asked, 'What do you guys do about this? What have you done?'"

"They said that your primary concern is to be open to them and hear their stories and minister to them just as you would anybody else, and not to see it as a special side ministry, but to see it as part and parcel to parish life."

From that time forward, Pedigo has freely acknowledged and supported the gay and lesbian Catholics who flock to St. Julie's. He publicly opposed Prop. 8, going so far as to post video interviews with gay Catholic families on his blog (www.frjonblog.org).

Pedigo says that when dealing with his gay parishioners, and especially with the teen group, he tries to emphasize that the process of coming out is not a big deal.

"With the kids, if you take away the elements of fear and shame, then they can be in a place to make a better psychological decision to choose a relationship that's healthy, that's not exploitive, that's deep and meaningful, rather then just sex," he says. "Then, your parishioner is a much healthier individual that will be able to exercise intelligent choices."

Pedigo makes it very clear that it is not his or St. Julie's agenda to stand up and challenge the official teaching of the Catholic Church, but that his flock is his first priority.

"What we do here is consistent with the history of the Diocese of San Jose," he says. "They are very well aware of what we are doing, in terms of our welcoming and openness.

"We recognize that the church that we're a part of does not recognize aspects of the gay and lesbian or transgender experience, including ordination and marriage. But LGBT members and their families are still identifying with the Catholic Church."

Bob Rucker, a St. Julie's parishioner and a founding member of the pastoral council who is leading the church's outreach effort to the LGBT Catholic community, explains why he thinks Pedigo is such a great leader.

"He's one of those rare finds who combine a wonderful, inviting, charismatic personality with an incredible intelligence. I've never known a Catholic priest who was able to inspire more and get more out of college kids, high school kids and grammar school kids then Jon Pedigo. He just connects with them. He also has the ability to use the collar effectively with those of us over the age of 30 or 40 or 50, who think we know it all.

"He has a wonderful calming effect that's based on intellect and respect for people. He's very clear that he is very loyal to the church, but he takes a pragmatic view. Why not help people find a way to deal with what they are facing? Instead of saying, 'Well, just deny that part of you, just don't do it, live this way and you will be saved.'"

Pedigo says that, over the years, the hardest thing about being a priest for him has been working within the Roman Catholic Church's institutional limitations.

"You have this thousands-of-years-old institution, with its hierarchy and institutional culture," he says. "And then you have the demands of real life. Sometimes, the institution's time frame is not adequate to deal with the realities that are put in front of you. I tend to identify with what's in front of me, because that's my job, to be in the field, in the mix.

"When you're listening to people's pain, a lot of that is not going to be in line with what somebody in a higher office with a pointy hat says. My job is not to be a PR person for the church. My job is to guide my flock.

"It's about truly raising the dead. If somebody's spirit has been slaughtered, it doesn't matter the person's lifestyle or his or her life choices or what things have happened in their life. If you're a person who's really listening, you'll go to deal with that pain. You'll work with it to move it towards a level of healing, instead of saying, 'Oh well, I have a ready-made answer from the institution that's going to fit you just perfectly.' That just doesn't work."

Beyond Tolerance

San Jose Bishop Patrick Joseph McGrath was one of the first Catholic Church leaders in the country to establish a Pastoral Resource Committee to support LGBT-identifying Catholics. Information and resources for gay and lesbian Catholics are freely displayed on the San Jose Diocese website. Even the Diocese of San Francisco, which has one of the largest gay and lesbian populations in the nation, has yet to establish a Diocesan-sanctioned ministry to the LGBT community.

McGrath became bishop of San Jose in 1998, and has spoken many times with leaders of the LGBT Catholic community. In 2005, the diocese went so far as to host the 12th annual conference of the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries at the downtown San Jose Hilton Hotel. The bishop was the opening session speaker at the event, which included three days of workshops, worship and networking.

And yet the diocese does not publicly speak to the gay and lesbian Catholic community about its stance or ministry. McGrath declined to be interviewed or give any comment for this story.

Bob Rucker says that he was personally invited to attended an LGBT Catholic community outreach meeting organized by Bishop McGrath last June. He said that 40-some members of the local clergy leadership were also present.

"I saw a very positive example there of how the leadership of the Catholic diocese, the priests, were being schooled on the humanitarian angle on this outreach," Rucker says. "But, I have to be fair. I also noticed that though there were a good number of priests there who wanted to bring this up and figure out a way to approach it, there were also priests who were not very attentive, who obviously seemed put off by the notion of ruffling the feathers.

"I have to give the bishop credit, he articulates beautifully, eloquently, lovingly, on what Catholic priests should be doing as leaders of their parishes," he says. "My only problem with him is the same problem we have with our president of the United States. It's wonderful to speak eloquently, but what exactly are you doing to push that agenda through as leader of a diocese?"

Bob Welch, who has been involved in the gay Catholic community in the South Bay since the late 1970s, says that Dignity San Jose used to have an active outreach in the late '80s and early '90s that included staffing a booth at the San Jose Gay Pride Festival. The DignityUSA San Jose chapter dissolved about four years ago.

For the latter part of the group's existence, there was a large amount of conflict about how visible they should be. Welch says many were scared that if they were too upfront about their outreach, they would be shut down. He says they had multiple incidents where conservative Catholics came to their events with recorders, later using them to write protests to newspapers and the Vatican.

Still, he says, priests and parishioners who minister at and attend the St. Martin of Tours mass are fearful of retaliation. "There are a number of people here who are taking an underground position," he says. "We do have people, and a lot of priests, who are very anxious about their jobs."

Our Church Too

On Oct. 19, St. Julie's Parish pastoral council met to discuss the establishment of an LGBT outreach effort. Rucker led the meeting. He presented a 10-page document to the committee, outlining the goals of the new ministry as well as clarifications of diocesan and church policy regarding ministry to homosexuals. He says the pastoral council's reception was very positive.

"We just want to step up and do more, so we are fully welcomed as human beings with family, not just as gay people," he says.

Rucker believes that taking a more public approach is essential, because even at St. Julie's there is an air of holding back. "I just met a couple two days ago at Father Jon's 11:30am mass. Two guys together is always kind of an indicator. I walked up to those guys and said, 'Hey, how are you? My name is Bob, I'm the lector today at church. My partner's name is Ben."

"Their eyes lit up. They begin to tell me, 'Yeah, we got married last year, and we have a family, and we like coming here. Wow, you actually just told us here in church,' and I said, 'Yeah, it's confession of the truth. Isn't it cool?'

"We have to convince the church that confession of the truth won't hurt the priests, or the institution, or the parishioners." "Do I come into the church yelling to everybody 'I'm gay, I'm gay, I'm gaaaay!' No, I don't, but I don't miss an opportunity to talk about my family, including my partner. I'm not going to dishonor him by not talking about him.

"Gay and lesbian people have been told for so long, 'Drop the pronouns, don't talk about it in church and you'll be welcome.' And now we're saying, 'Use the pronouns. Be truthful.'"

Though Rucker has attended the Emmaus Mass at St. Martin of Tours several times with his partner, he said that he does not think that the diocese-sponsored effort is doing enough to address the issues of gay and lesbian Catholics.

"As an African American gay person, I saw the Emmaus Mass as a blatant example of separate but equal," he says. "It's the same nonsense we had to go through as black people. You could have equal opportunities as white people, but at different locations. That is totally un-Christ-like."

Rucker says his partner disagrees with him on this point. Many of their gay and lesbian friends embrace the Emmaus Mass as at least an opportunity to stay connected with their Catholic faith.

"But, for me, growing up in a family where my father marched with Martin Luther King, I think my parents and Martin Luther King would be appalled that the Catholic Church would throw such crumbs at us and say, 'This will cover you.' No, it doesn't."

Rucker sees St. Julie's is the best place in the Bay Area to start public outreach to the LGBT Catholic community. Though the ministry is still in its formative stages, Rucker is confident that now is the time to get the ball rolling and start a conversation.

"I'm not under any delusions that this is going to be a quick fix. I might not live long enough to see it. But last Nov. 4, just before she died, my 95-year-old mother got to see the election of the first black president of the United States. We both cried because we never thought it would happen.

"There is a God, and all things are possible through him. You have to try."

Freedom From Hate

Having worked for gay and lesbian Catholic rights in Silicon Valley for over 30 years, Welch says that the fact that more people are taking an active role in parishes helps him hold onto hope.

"I have seen changes that I have never thought would have happened in my lifetime. I have a strong personal belief that if change is going to come, it's got to come from within," he says. "If we sit back and wait for the change to come from outside, from the Vatican and the bishops, we're never going to see it."

In light of the USCCB's probable stance against gay marriage in Maryland this week, many gay Catholics say that church leaders need to stop avoiding their responsibilities as shepherds of Christ, and step up to facilitate communication and dialogue.

For Rucker, this means an end to the lethargy on the part of many parish priests and church leaders who expect gay and lesbian Catholics to soldier on with their lives in a pitiable state of mute self-loathing.

For him, the conversation needs to start with the priests of every single parish and diocese in the country having a meeting with their congregation to talk about gay and lesbian issues, whether they find discomfort in it or not.

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"You'd expect a church that is founded by Jesus to have more courage, more guts, more willingness to take the nails of words and criticism. Such hypocrisy is not Christ-like.

"We've waited long enough for the Catholic Church to realize we have flesh and bones, we have immortal souls."

For Pedigo, his approach to gay and lesbian ministry comes down to the original teachings of Jesus Christ.

"What is Christ's original teaching? Who did he relate to? He didn't relate to the central power in Jerusalem. His primary audience are the people on the margins of society. He was meeting with people who were socially marginalized. So, in a sense, who does the table belong to? Jesus' vision belongs to the most discriminated, the most broken. The people who live in the most narrow space. The people who live in the most oppressive situation. Those who live in that narrow space, that is confining and limiting. This is who liberation is for."

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Secretly, San Jose is the most gay-friendly diocese in the nation. And now, one parish wants the wor | View Clip
11/18/2009
Metro Silicon Valley - Online

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Gay CatholicsCome Out

Photographs by Felipe Buitrago

A BEARDED PRIEST in bright-green vestments lifts a rainbow-adorned chalice as he delivers the Eucharistic Prayer, consecrating the bread and wine for the sacrament of Communion. Surrounding him, a dozen people link hands around an altar inside a tiny, dimly lit chapel at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Parish in San Jose.

"Lift up your hearts," the priest says.

"We lift them up to the Lord," responds the congregation in unison.

"Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God."

"It is right to give him thanks and praise."

This is the Emmaus Mass, the only bishop-sanctioned gathering for gay and lesbian Catholics in the Diocese of San Jose. Held on Saturday evenings inside a small glass room, this quiet, subdued gathering of older men and women focuses on being a safe place of support for Silicon Valley's LGBT Catholic community and their families.

During his homily, the presiding priest talks about the struggle to accept oneself. He asks the parishioners to pray for those who do not understand them and encourages them to not become frustrated if they experience nonacceptance from their loved ones. Behind the priest, through floor-to-ceiling panes of glass, parishioners can look out on the rows of pews in the empty, darkened main church space.

The following Sunday morning, a different kind of mass is being held at a humble, suburban Catholic parish in south San Jose. St. Julie Billiart Parish sits at the base of the dry, rolling foothills near Santa Teresa Park, surrounded by tract homes. No grand statues or opulent stained glass adorns the slope-roofed exterior of the unobtrusive church. Inside, a large, diverse, family-oriented crowd has gathered for a much more jubilant service.

St. Julie's pastor, Rev. Jon Pedigo, leads the liturgical music at the 11:30am mass, backed by a teenage band. Singing at the top of his lungs, he pounds out songs on a grand piano while his Birkenstock-clad feet thump the instrument's pedals.

Today's gospel reading is the story of Bartimaeus, a blind beggar who called out to Jesus for pity, though the people of Jericho tried to silence him. Pacing between pews filled with seniors, children, teens, families and gay couples, Pedigo breaks down the story as he delivers his homily.

"Physical sight was Bartimaeus' issue," he says, "but the real sin was the blindness in the seeing-people around him. Seeing-people see skin color, status, age, gender, weight, orientation, education level, etc. They do not see the real you."

"Those we silence at our convenience. Have pity on me!" he prays. "Those whose life partners embarrass us in polite company. Have pity on me!"

"In my heart, I believe we are at the brink of a great awakening in our global community. I believe that as the upper echelons of ecclesial power worry themselves with the window dressings of Christian tradition and thus fade into irrelevance, there will be a renaissance of a more 'radical' or 'root' Christian faith."

The Diocese of San Jose has long been one of the most gay-friendly Roman Catholic ecclesiastical territories in the United States. Few people know this, and many in the local Catholic community would like it stay that way.

On the orders of former Bishop Roland Pierre DuMaine and current Bishop Patrick Joseph McGrath, the diocese has been able to offer ministry and support to local gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Catholics for more than 20 years by operating under the radar.

Recently, progressive Catholic leaders and members of the San Jose religious community are working to change this tentative approach to gay Catholic ministry.

In fact, led by Pedigo, St. Julie Billiart Parish has developed a strong following among Silicon Valley's gay Catholics. Currently, the church's pastoral staff is considering a proposal to take even more open and bold steps toward the establishment of church-directed LGBT outreach, along with helping other parishes extend a hand to their own gay parishioners.

In light of President Barack Obama's speech at the Human Rights Campaign dinner last month, and with Maine's gay marriage law being repealed Nov. 3, more and more American Catholics are calling for the opening of a dialogue on the church's stance on homosexuality and marriage equality. As the outlook for gay rights in the church looks grim, a few progressive Catholic communities are making grassroots efforts to include everybody at the Lord's table, no matter their race, economic status or sexual orientation.

Still, the Vatican continues to assert that gay marriage is one of the biggest threats to morality in the modern world, and that homosexuality is a pitiable, "intrinsically disordered" condition no different from alcoholism. LGBT-identifying Catholics face a battle for acceptance even in the Bay Area, where there is perhaps more tolerance and support than anywhere.

Even the few clergy members who acknowledge the gay Catholic community feel that they have to keep their ministry on the down low. Many fear retaliation by conservative Catholic factions if they upset the apple cart, particularly those who supported Proposition 8 last year, like Oakland Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, who helped spearhead the initiative. Just last week, the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., announced its intention to withdraw all church-funded social services should the D.C. City Council legalize same-sex marriage.

Another obstacle to acceptance comes this Nov. 16, when the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops gathers in Baltimore to review its new pastoral statement titled "Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan." If approved, this official statement will be the final nail in the coffin for gay marriage in the eyes of the Catholic Church, establishing it as the most anti-LGBT religious institution in the United States.

MINISTER OF MUSUIC Rev. Jon Pedigo leads the liturgical band during the St. Julie's parish 11:30am Sunday mass, on Oct. 25, 2009.

The SinnersAnd the Sin

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' official teaching on homosexuality is that same-sex orientation in itself is not a sin, because it is not subject to one's free will. However, the bishops state that being gay is an "intrinsically disordered" condition, and that people who choose to act on their homosexual inclinations are engaging in sin.

"While the Church teaches that homosexual acts are immoral, she does distinguish between engaging in homosexual acts and having a homosexual inclination" says the USCCB's official statement "Ministry to Persons With a Homosexual Inclination," released in 2006. "While the former is always objectively sinful, the latter is not. Although one would be morally culpable if one were voluntarily to entertain homosexual temptations or to choose to act on them, simply having the tendency is not a sin."

The statement goes on to lay out how gay men and lesbians should always choose lives of celibacy. In the church's view, the only reason that people should ever act on their sexuality is for the direct purpose of procreation. Church leaders have concluded that the sole aim of homosexual relationships is narcissistic genital sexual gratification, which is a sin.

"Always Our Children," a USCCB pastoral statement published in 1997, has become the go-to guide for how Catholic parishes, like St. Julie Billiart, are supposed to treat gay individuals. It encourages families to accept and love their gay sons and lesbian daughters when they come out, while at the same time encouraging them to completely abstain from sex.

"You can help a homosexual person in two general ways," says Always Our Children. "First encourage him or her to cooperate with God's grace to live a chaste life. Second, concentrate on the person, not on the homosexual orientation itself. ... All in all, it is essential to recall one basic truth. God loves every person as a unique individual."

Rev. Jim Schexnayder, a retired priest and co-founder of the Catholic Association for Lesbian & Gay Ministry (CALGM) in Berkeley, says that Always Our Children is not based in reality. However, he says, the fact that it even offers support to LGBT Catholics was groundbreaking when it was released.

"It's been the most positive pastoral statement that has come out of our church in this regard, and it's effectively helped to start most [LGBT] ministries around the country," says Schexnayder. "In the last 10 years, it's really been the impetus for many ministries to develop support on the diocesan and parish level. It's been a resource for education."

Schexnayder says that although the church apposes gay marriage and gay sexual relationships, he is encouraged by the fact that Always Our Children says that gay parishioners should continue to be part of Catholic communities.

"It depends on the person and how they receive it," he says. "It has a lot to do with being in support of parents in a compassionate and loving way, and being in support of gay and lesbian people. It says that you are a child of God created for a purpose in God's design. That's a very positive statement for many people, that you're not a mistake. You're not the enemy."

James B. Nickoloff, a Catholic theologian and a fellow at Santa Clara University, says that the Catholic Church's view of homosexuality is that gay people are afflicted with a grave disorder.

"The official teachings see it as something which is not the responsibility of the person who has it. They shouldn't be blamed for it, like you shouldn't blame an alcoholic for being an alcoholic," says Nickoloff. "If the person acts on their condition of being an alcoholic, in other words, if they go to a bar and drink, then the outcome of that is always going to be damaging to the person themselves, to the people around them and to society. Because, they're going to get into their car, they are going to be drunk and they are going to kill somebody. That's how the church sees homosexuality."

Last May, Nickoloff published a paper titled "Intrinsically Disordered: Gay People and the Holiness of the Church," while serving as a resident professor at the Santa Clara University Religious Studies Department. A devout Catholic, Nickoloff is also a self-affirming gay man who is legally married in the state of Massachusetts. He taught four courses on the relationship between homosexuality and the church while doing his research.

"My question to the official teachers of the church, the clergy and especially the bishops, is: Where are the studies that demonstrate that when a person acts on a homosexual orientation, it's harmful? In fact, most studies show that homosexual people, who enter into loving, permanent relationships with other people, are happier and more productive. So, that's where the bind is, because the teaching doesn't make sense," says Nickoloff.

HUMANITARIAN ANGLE: Bob Rucker, a St. Julie's parishioner and professor at San Jose State University, teaches a class in Dwight Bentel Hall. Rucker is leading St. Julie's outreach to the LGBT Catholic community.

Bishops Say 'No'

One of the broad goals the USCCB has set for itself for 2010 is the "defense of marriage effort," which will be a top item for discussion at its general assembly this week. The development of "Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan" is part of a broader initiative to promote and strengthen marriage in an era where more than half of heterosexual marriages are destined to fail.

A draft of the statement was leaked to the web last month. The official document states that same sex unions are one of the most troubling developments in contemporary culture.

"[Same sex marriage] harms both the intrinsic dignity of every human person and the common good of society," reads the draft statement, which will be debated and voted on by the bishops this week. "The legal recognition of same-sex unions poses a multifaceted threat to the very fabric of society, striking at the source from which society and culture come and which they are meant to serve."

The statement continues by asserting that same-sex marriage has nothing to do with civil rights.

"Today, advocacy for the legal recognition of various same sex relationships is often equated with nondiscrimination, fairness, equality and civil rights. However, it is not unjust to oppose legal recognition of same-sex unions, because marriage and same-sex unions are essentially different realities. The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital is not opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires it."

When voters in Maine revoked their state law allowing same-sex marriage on Nov. 3, the USCCB immediately released a letter applauding the repeal, an effort the church strongly supported.

"Protecting marriage between a man and a woman has nothing to do with denying basic rights to anyone, though it is often framed in such terms," said Louisville Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz in the Nov. 4 statement. After praising Maine's voters for denying gay men and women the right to marry, he went on to underscore the fact that the church "stands for the basic rights of all people, including homosexual persons" and "decries any unjust discrimination against persons who experience same-sex attraction."

Many gay Catholics believe that the reason that this contradiction in the church exists is due to a lack of communication. There is a huge moat between those laying down the religious law—the bishops and the Vatican—and the realities of contemporary culture that parish priests face every day.

"I think the bishops are seriously separated from the culture in general, and gay and lesbian people in particular," Nickoloff says. "Who are they listening to? Where are they getting their information? In the Catholic Church, there are no women writing documents, and there are no openly gay people writing documents either. So, that's one of the reasons why the bishops are so distant. They are sort of making it harder and harder, in recent years, for themselves to hear the stories of real gay people."

Bill Welch, a longtime member of the Emmaus Community and the former head of the San Jose chapter of DignityUSA, the national organization for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Catholics, says that many in the local gay Catholic community are not looking forward to the outcome of this week's vote.

"People are getting tired of the words 'intrinsically evil' and 'objectively disordered.' They are saying, 'I don't want to hear that anymore. Throw that out. Get rid of it.'

"When they were doing Prop. 8, nobody interviewed any gay or lesbian Catholics, so nobody had any idea of where and what position these people are coming from. The same with this pastoral letter."

Catholics by Choice

The front page of the weekly bulletin at St. Julie Billiart says "All Are Welcome," specifically pointing out that it is a community of "people who are straight, gay and lesbian." It is a rare statement for a Catholic parish bulletin, written by Pedigo, the church's pastor.

Unlike many who enter the priesthood, Pedigo did not grow up Roman Catholic. He says, half-joking, that's why he is not saddled with traditional Catholic guilt.

Pedigo was raised in Pacifica, the son of a Buddhist mother of Japanese decent who grew up in the sugar cane plantation camps of Hawaii. His father is a Caucasian Protestant and a former union organizer.

"I really didn't have those shame issues," Pedigo says. "My perceptions of God came from a more Asian perspective, that God exists for unity and love. It's a different way of dealing with it that's not so much the punishment piece."

Though his family was not Catholic, Pedigo says he had a desire to attend church from a young age. He says he enjoyed the music, as well as the free donuts. He says he became aware of his spiritual side while attending college in the late 1970s, majoring in music and performance at San Francisco State University. While he focused on mastering the clarinet, he also became involved with political and social justice issues.

"It was at that point that I started looking into this integration of poetry, music, spirituality and political activism. I just saw all of those pieces coming together, and always had the reference point of the Catholic church," he says. Pedigo insists that his coming of age in San Francisco was like any other young adult.

"I went on dates, I had fun. I was a music major, so I'd go out with a lot of people partying and stuff like that," he recalls. "I guess the difference was that there was a part of me that is just like anybody else, but there was also a part of me that is more introspective. That's the part that began to dominate my life. When everybody around me was pushing the limits and pushing the envelope in terms of the excesses of the 1970s and '80s, I actually did the opposite."

It was after attending graduate school for his master's in music education at Indiana University, Bloomington, that Pedigo decided to start seriously exploring theology.

"Everything began to come together, so my whole life has been a series of integrating various strands and weaving them into one common thread of social change," he says. "When converting, I had the question 'Should I or shouldn't I pursue this and live it as a full-time job.' The answer was yeah, this is really what I want to do. It makes me feel that I'm doing the right thing. It feels natural to me."

However, while exploring the possibility of converting to Catholicism, he learned fast that the norms that he grew up with in the liberal Bay Area and the world of academia did not fly in the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

A self-described "bad seminarian," Pedigo says he frequently clashed with his superiors after entering St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park in 1984. He later earned his Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley.

"I'm a better priest then I was a seminarian," he says. "I talked way too much and I said too many controversial things. Seminarians are supposed to be quiet and complacent, and I tended to have opinions, and they weren't always received well. My thought was, I want them to know and let them see what they are ordaining."

In addition to friction at the seminary, he faced opposition at home. When he finally made the decision to join the priesthood, Pedigo says, his parents practically disowned him because they viewed the Roman Catholic Church as a self-serving institution.

"My parents were very upset," he says. "They were really set on having grandkids, my mother especially, and that just wasn't part of the gig.

"In one of her fits of consternation, we were sitting eating, and my father was in the next room watching TV. She stopped eating and we looked at each other and she said, 'You mean to tell me that you're going to listen to some man 10,000 miles away from here, and you don't even listen to the man in the next room?"

Pedigo's parents were not present at his ordainment ceremony in 1991. He says his mother and father eventually came to terms with his chosen lifestyle when he started taking more of an activist role at his first parish, St. Catherine of Alexandria in Morgan Hill.

That's also where he received his first hate mail, after he began getting involved in farm rights in South County.

Ask and Tell

Though it is a small, 1,000-household suburban church, St. Julie Billiart Parish has a substantial number of gay and lesbian parishioners, dating back to its start in the mid-1970s. St. Julie's founder, Rev. Matthew Sullivan, and second pastor Rev. Richard Fry, were both strong believers in the liberal reforms of Pope John XXIII's Vatican II.

Pedigo joined St. Julie's community in July 2001, after Fry retired.

He says it was already a liberal-leaning Catholic community when he became pastor, and that it was important for him to establish strong involvement and leadership within the lay ministry and staff.

With the help of Pedigo, St. Julie's also formed a pastoral council that came to consensus early on that they wanted to make a point by addressing and acknowledging all types of people who called St. Julie's their parish.

"There are gay and lesbian people in every Catholic parish," Pedigo says. "Even in the most conservative parishes there are gay and lesbian parishioners present. Certainly the parents and friends of gay and lesbian persons are in the pews at any time.

"Our thing is we simply acknowledge the fact that they are there. So it's not like we're a dysfunctional family where there is this pink elephant in the room and nobody's talking about the pink elephant."

Pedigo said that as he started to notice the growing LGBT Catholic community that was coming to St. Julie's, he decided to consult the established gay Catholic community at the Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in San Francisco's Castro District.

"I said, 'Look, I'm a server in San Jose, and I have all these gay and lesbian people coming for baptism and wanting their babies to be baptized and raising their kids and their families Catholic. And we've got kids in the youth group who are sexual.' I asked, 'What do you guys do about this? What have you done?'"

"They said that your primary concern is to be open to them and hear their stories and minister to them just as you would anybody else, and not to see it as a special side ministry, but to see it as part and parcel to parish life."

From that time forward, Pedigo has freely acknowledged and supported the gay and lesbian Catholics who flock to St. Julie's. He publicly opposed Prop. 8, going so far as to post video interviews with gay Catholic families on his blog (www.frjonblog.org).

Pedigo says that when dealing with his gay parishioners, and especially with the teen group, he tries to emphasize that the process of coming out is not a big deal.

"With the kids, if you take away the elements of fear and shame, then they can be in a place to make a better psychological decision to choose a relationship that's healthy, that's not exploitive, that's deep and meaningful, rather then just sex," he says. "Then, your parishioner is a much healthier individual that will be able to exercise intelligent choices."

Pedigo makes it very clear that it is not his or St. Julie's agenda to stand up and challenge the official teaching of the Catholic Church, but that his flock is his first priority.

"What we do here is consistent with the history of the Diocese of San Jose," he says. "They are very well aware of what we are doing, in terms of our welcoming and openness.

"We recognize that the church that we're a part of does not recognize aspects of the gay and lesbian or transgender experience, including ordination and marriage. But LGBT members and their families are still identifying with the Catholic Church."

Bob Rucker, a St. Julie's parishioner and a founding member of the pastoral council who is leading the church's outreach effort to the LGBT Catholic community, explains why he thinks Pedigo is such a great leader.

"He's one of those rare finds who combine a wonderful, inviting, charismatic personality with an incredible intelligence. I've never known a Catholic priest who was able to inspire more and get more out of college kids, high school kids and grammar school kids then Jon Pedigo. He just connects with them. He also has the ability to use the collar effectively with those of us over the age of 30 or 40 or 50, who think we know it all.

"He has a wonderful calming effect that's based on intellect and respect for people. He's very clear that he is very loyal to the church, but he takes a pragmatic view. Why not help people find a way to deal with what they are facing? Instead of saying, 'Well, just deny that part of you, just don't do it, live this way and you will be saved.'"

Pedigo says that, over the years, the hardest thing about being a priest for him has been working within the Roman Catholic Church's institutional limitations.

"You have this thousands-of-years-old institution, with its hierarchy and institutional culture," he says. "And then you have the demands of real life. Sometimes, the institution's time frame is not adequate to deal with the realities that are put in front of you. I tend to identify with what's in front of me, because that's my job, to be in the field, in the mix.

"When you're listening to people's pain, a lot of that is not going to be in line with what somebody in a higher office with a pointy hat says. My job is not to be a PR person for the church. My job is to guide my flock.

"It's about truly raising the dead. If somebody's spirit has been slaughtered, it doesn't matter the person's lifestyle or his or her life choices or what things have happened in their life. If you're a person who's really listening, you'll go to deal with that pain. You'll work with it to move it towards a level of healing, instead of saying, 'Oh well, I have a ready-made answer from the institution that's going to fit you just perfectly.' That just doesn't work."

Beyond Tolerance

San Jose Bishop Patrick Joseph McGrath was one of the first Catholic Church leaders in the country to establish a Pastoral Resource Committee to support LGBT-identifying Catholics. Information and resources for gay and lesbian Catholics are freely displayed on the San Jose Diocese website. Even the Diocese of San Francisco, which has one of the largest gay and lesbian populations in the nation, has yet to establish a Diocesan-sanctioned ministry to the LGBT community.

McGrath became bishop of San Jose in 1998, and has spoken many times with leaders of the LGBT Catholic community. In 2005, the diocese went so far as to host the 12th annual conference of the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries at the downtown San Jose Hilton Hotel. The bishop was the opening session speaker at the event, which included three days of workshops, worship and networking.

And yet the diocese does not publicly speak to the gay and lesbian Catholic community about its stance or ministry. McGrath declined to be interviewed or give any comment for this story.

Bob Rucker says that he was personally invited to attended an LGBT Catholic community outreach meeting organized by Bishop McGrath last June. He said that 40-some members of the local clergy leadership were also present.

"I saw a very positive example there of how the leadership of the Catholic diocese, the priests, were being schooled on the humanitarian angle on this outreach," Rucker says. "But, I have to be fair. I also noticed that though there were a good number of priests there who wanted to bring this up and figure out a way to approach it, there were also priests who were not very attentive, who obviously seemed put off by the notion of ruffling the feathers.

"I have to give the bishop credit, he articulates beautifully, eloquently, lovingly, on what Catholic priests should be doing as leaders of their parishes," he says. "My only problem with him is the same problem we have with our president of the United States. It's wonderful to speak eloquently, but what exactly are you doing to push that agenda through as leader of a diocese?"

Bob Welch, who has been involved in the gay Catholic community in the South Bay since the late 1970s, says that Dignity San Jose used to have an active outreach in the late '80s and early '90s that included staffing a booth at the San Jose Gay Pride Festival. The DignityUSA San Jose chapter dissolved about four years ago.

For the latter part of the group's existence, there was a large amount of conflict about how visible they should be. Welch says many were scared that if they were too upfront about their outreach, they would be shut down. He says they had multiple incidents where conservative Catholics came to their events with recorders, later using them to write protests to newspapers and the Vatican.

Still, he says, priests and parishioners who minister at and attend the St. Martin of Tours mass are fearful of retaliation. "There are a number of people here who are taking an underground position," he says. "We do have people, and a lot of priests, who are very anxious about their jobs."

Our Church Too

On Oct. 19, St. Julie's Parish pastoral council met to discuss the establishment of an LGBT outreach effort. Rucker led the meeting. He presented a 10-page document to the committee, outlining the goals of the new ministry as well as clarifications of diocesan and church policy regarding ministry to homosexuals. He says the pastoral council's reception was very positive.

"We just want to step up and do more, so we are fully welcomed as human beings with family, not just as gay people," he says.

Rucker believes that taking a more public approach is essential, because even at St. Julie's there is an air of holding back. "I just met a couple two days ago at Father Jon's 11:30am mass. Two guys together is always kind of an indicator. I walked up to those guys and said, 'Hey, how are you? My name is Bob, I'm the lector today at church. My partner's name is Ben."

"Their eyes lit up. They begin to tell me, 'Yeah, we got married last year, and we have a family, and we like coming here. Wow, you actually just told us here in church,' and I said, 'Yeah, it's confession of the truth. Isn't it cool?'

"We have to convince the church that confession of the truth won't hurt the priests, or the institution, or the parishioners." "Do I come into the church yelling to everybody 'I'm gay, I'm gay, I'm gaaaay!' No, I don't, but I don't miss an opportunity to talk about my family, including my partner. I'm not going to dishonor him by not talking about him.

"Gay and lesbian people have been told for so long, 'Drop the pronouns, don't talk about it in church and you'll be welcome.' And now we're saying, 'Use the pronouns. Be truthful.'"

Though Rucker has attended the Emmaus Mass at St. Martin of Tours several times with his partner, he said that he does not think that the diocese-sponsored effort is doing enough to address the issues of gay and lesbian Catholics.

"As an African American gay person, I saw the Emmaus Mass as a blatant example of separate but equal," he says. "It's the same nonsense we had to go through as black people. You could have equal opportunities as white people, but at different locations. That is totally un-Christ-like."

Rucker says his partner disagrees with him on this point. Many of their gay and lesbian friends embrace the Emmaus Mass as at least an opportunity to stay connected with their Catholic faith.

"But, for me, growing up in a family where my father marched with Martin Luther King, I think my parents and Martin Luther King would be appalled that the Catholic Church would throw such crumbs at us and say, 'This will cover you.' No, it doesn't."

Rucker sees St. Julie's is the best place in the Bay Area to start public outreach to the LGBT Catholic community. Though the ministry is still in its formative stages, Rucker is confident that now is the time to get the ball rolling and start a conversation.

"I'm not under any delusions that this is going to be a quick fix. I might not live long enough to see it. But last Nov. 4, just before she died, my 95-year-old mother got to see the election of the first black president of the United States. We both cried because we never thought it would happen.

"There is a God, and all things are possible through him. You have to try."

Freedom From Hate

Having worked for gay and lesbian Catholic rights in Silicon Valley for over 30 years, Welch says that the fact that more people are taking an active role in parishes helps him hold onto hope.

"I have seen changes that I have never thought would have happened in my lifetime. I have a strong personal belief that if change is going to come, it's got to come from within," he says. "If we sit back and wait for the change to come from outside, from the Vatican and the bishops, we're never going to see it."

In light of the USCCB's probable stance against gay marriage in Maryland this week, many gay Catholics say that church leaders need to stop avoiding their responsibilities as shepherds of Christ, and step up to facilitate communication and dialogue.

For Rucker, this means an end to the lethargy on the part of many parish priests and church leaders who expect gay and lesbian Catholics to soldier on with their lives in a pitiable state of mute self-loathing.

For him, the conversation needs to start with the priests of every single parish and diocese in the country having a meeting with their congregation to talk about gay and lesbian issues, whether they find discomfort in it or not.

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"You'd expect a church that is founded by Jesus to have more courage, more guts, more willingness to take the nails of words and criticism. Such hypocrisy is not Christ-like.

"We've waited long enough for the Catholic Church to realize we have flesh and bones, we have immortal souls."

For Pedigo, his approach to gay and lesbian ministry comes down to the original teachings of Jesus Christ.

"What is Christ's original teaching? Who did he relate to? He didn't relate to the central power in Jerusalem. His primary audience are the people on the margins of society. He was meeting with people who were socially marginalized. So, in a sense, who does the table belong to? Jesus' vision belongs to the most discriminated, the most broken. The people who live in the most narrow space. The people who live in the most oppressive situation. Those who live in that narrow space, that is confining and limiting. This is who liberation is for."

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Intel to pay chip rival Advanced Micro Devices $1.25B in antitrust settlement | View Clip
11/18/2009
SiliconValley.com

Good Morning Silicon Valley

Declaring an end to a deep-seated feud that has rocked the computer industry for years, rival chipmakers Intel and Advanced Micro Devices announced Thursday that Intel will pay AMD $1.25 billion to settle a series of antitrust and patent disputes.

The settlement is one of the largest in the history of antitrust law, according to analysts, who said it could eventually provide consumers and businesses more choices when they buy personal computers.

Santa Clara-based Intel, which had $38 billion in sales last year, controls 80 percent of the market for the microprocessors that power most computers. It continued Thursday to reject allegations that it wrongfully used financial pressure to bully computer makers into

More Intel coverage

avoiding competing products from AMD, which has fought for the remaining 20 percent.

But as part of the settlement, Intel agreed to a series of business practices aimed at restricting its use of price subsidies and discounts. Sunnyvale-based AMD, in turn, agreed to drop a 2005 lawsuit that was scheduled for trial in April and a series of regulatory complaints that has already led European authorities to impose a record $1.5 billion fine against Intel.

The agreement does not end Intel's legal troubles, however. In addition to the European fine, which Intel is appealing, the company also faces a separate lawsuit by New York state authorities making similar allegations, and a pending investigation by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

Representatives of those agencies said their actions will continue, although legal experts said the settlement announced Thursday could help Intel resolve its differences with regulatory officials.

Still, the two companies clearly indicated they viewed the settlement as a major breakthrough: AMD, which has struggled financially for years, has characterized Intel's practices as a threat to its viability. For Intel, the dispute had peeled back the covers on some hardball dealings with such

Have Your Say!

major computer makers as Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Dell.

"Intel has removed a very big hatchet that was hanging over its head," added investment analyst Doug Freedman of Broadpoint.AmTech, referring to the potential for a much larger damage award if the case went to trial. "What AMD has gained is the hope that the industry feels more able to choose."

In announcing the settlement, AMD Chief Executive Dirk Meyer told analysts and reporters, "Today marks the beginning of a new era, one that confirms the game has changed for AMD."

For his part, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said, "We have not wavered in our conviction that Intel has operated within the bounds of the law."

He added: "We continue to believe that our discounts are lawful and in the best interest of consumers and the marketplace, although we understand that others have a different perspective."

Otellini said the company decided to resolve the dispute, without admitting wrongdoing, after concluding that it wasn't worth the risk of facing an unpredictable jury that, under antitrust law, could potentially award damages far higher than the cost of the settlement.

As part of the settlement, which Otellini said the companies began negotiating in April, both parties agreed to a 13-page document that says Intel won't offer price discounts or other financial incentives that require customers to limit their purchases from AMD.

"They can't use inducements in order to force exclusive dealing, or delay customers from using our products," said Tom McCoy, AMD executive vice president. He said Intel also cannot withhold financial rebates or other benefits from customers that use AMD processors.

Intel executives denied that ever occurred. "We don't do that. We understand that they believe we do," said Andy Bryant, an Intel executive vice president, who said the agreement won't lead Intel to change any of its current practices.

"It makes sense for us to stipulate that we won't do things that we both agree are wrong," added Otellini. "We won't do those things, we haven't done those things and therefore there's no difference going forward."

One section of the agreement, however, recounts AMD's allegations that certain rebates and volume discount offers for the purchase of Intel products are illegal abuses of Intel's dominant position in the market — for example, allegedly offering products at less than cost. The agreement itself does not restrict those offers; instead, the document says Intel will not challenge government regulators who might seek to prohibit those practices.

Intel executives said the two companies did not try to resolve those issues because any agreement could be construed as illegal collusion between two companies on pricing. Instead, the settlement allows AMD to raise those issues with regulators, Otellini said, "and we're more than happy to talk with regulators about those."

But legal experts said Intel's agreement on that point was a major concession.

"Normally a defendant would challenge every element of a case," said Catherine Sandoval, an antitrust expert and law professor at Santa Clara University. "So an agreement not to challenge such a prohibition is significant."

Industry analysts said Intel's share of the worldwide semiconductor market is so huge that the settlement is unlikely to affect its market position in the near future. Some suggested the deal could lead to a slight increase in prices in the short term if Intel is forced to cut back on subsidies, but most said the effect would be negligible.

Still, the agreement could provide relief for computer makers, also known as original equipment manufacturers or OEMs, that use the processors made by Intel, AMD and other chip manufacturers.

New York and European regulators have publicly released e-mails from executives at HP and other companies in which those executives expressed fear that Intel would cut off their subsidies if they did business with AMD. Intel has said the e-mails were taken out of context or reflected an inaccurate belief by those executives.

"You could argue that Intel was or was not a giant stomping around, threatening to injure somebody. But it's palpable that the OEMs were afraid. That you can detect from the e-mails," said analyst Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies.

By eliminating that fear, the settlement will give computer makers a greater sense of freedom to consider using chips from AMD or other sources, added analyst John Spooner of Technology Business Research. That in turn could lead to customers finding a greater variety of computer models on the market.

Analysts said the $1.25 billion cash payment will not hurt Intel, which has about $12 billion in cash and short-term investments, but could help struggling AMD retire some of its sizable debt.

But the settlement may not be the end of the fierce rivalry between the two companies.

"I don't think it's anything like a real peace," Kay said, "but I think it's a detente that they can operate with."

Contact Brandon Bailey at 408-920-5022.

Status of

other cases

Nov. 12: The Federal Trade Commission, which subpoenaed Intel in June 2008, says it plans to review the settlement between Intel and AMD. The FTC says its investigation of Intel continues.

Nov. 4: New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo files an antitrust lawsuit accusing Intel of using kickbacks, threats and retaliation to dominate the worldwide semiconductor market.

July 22: Intel appeals $1.45 billion fine from European regulators, who say the company engaged in illegal rebates and other tactics to limit computer chip sales by AMD.

June 2008: The Korea Fair Trade Commission fines Intel $25 million for violating fair trade laws. Intel is seeking to overturn that decision.

March 2005: Japan"s Fair Trade Commission finds Intel violated antitrust regulations. Intel denies the claim but agrees to change its business practices.

Intel

CEO/President: Paul Otellini

No. of employees: 80,800

Market cap: $108.73 billion

CEO/President: Dirk Meyer

No. of employees: 14,700

Market cap: $4.34 billion

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Technology and The Environment: Using Technology to Build Greener Homes | View Clip
11/17/2009
thetechnologicalcitizen.com

SCU student Preet Anand gives insight into the Solar Decathlon and SCU's Refract House

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Insuring the young
11/17/2009
Wichita Eagle

SAN JOSE, Calif. —They met in college and knew instantly they were meant to be together. She planned to be a lawyer; he would get his MBA and work for a large firm. Nothing seemed beyond their reach when Robert Andrzejewski proposed to Jamie Young .

But before they could say "I do," the young couple found themselves mired in a world where surviving with Robert Andrzejewski's limited health insurance was more important than any plans for the future. His mysterious back pain was so bad, he needed a cane to hobble to the altar.

As challenging as their lives became — Andrzejewski suddenly found himself bedridden with $16,000 in out-of-pocket expenses one year — the young couple were two of the lucky ones even to have health insurance.

Young adults aged 19 to 29 are less well-protected by health insurance than any other age group in America: Almost one in three have no insurance — and many more are underinsured. And as the country grapples over how to provide coverage to Americans, figuring out how to cover young adults — from all income levels — has become a tricky and significant subtext in the reform debate.

"We had to be on such a strict budget just to get by," said Jamie Andrzejewski , 28, who is now a second-year law student at Santa Clara University . "I would walk into the grocery store and spend to the penny what we could afford. I would fill the grocery cart and write down the cost. There were times I had panic attacks."

Critical choices

For the underinsured like the Andrzejewskis and many of the more than 10 million uninsured young adults, critical choices have to be made constantly: tuition and books or health insurance; rent or a trip to the doctor's office.

"I'd always known that health insurance was very important but I couldn't afford it," said Mary Ann Nguyen , 27, a second-year law student at SCU. "Even now, I'm using my student loan to pay for health insurance."

Surprisingly, graduating from college and landing a job doesn't automatically mean having health coverage. More than half of the uninsured young adults are full-time workers, according to a 2008 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation . That's because those first jobs often don't come with affordable health plans.

"It's a time in their life when they're just starting out," said Sara Collins , vice president for the Affordable Health Insurance Program at the Commonwealth Fund , a private foundation that promotes an improved health care system. "You don't want them going without health insurance. Obesity rates have gone up so much in this age group."

While 31 percent of young adults (ages 19-29) have no insurance, only 17 percent of adults ages 30-64 are uninsured. Young adults comprise about 18 percent of the adult population but make up 28 percent of the overall uninsured adult population, according to the Urban Institute .

The gap is so critical and so costly that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has proposed allowing young people to remain covered under their parents' insurance plan until their 27th birthday.

Such an option would've protected 26-year-old Joseph Flannery .

He had just gone off his mother's insurance plan when he had a skiing accident at Lake Tahoe. He had trouble breathing but thought if he could just get home, he'd be OK and Mom could take care of him. Flannery's mother demanded he go to the hospital — threatening to call an ambulance if he refused. Fearful of the cost, Flannery still resisted, but his mother said she'd pay. The bill was $2,000, Flannery said. And doctors found nothing serious.

At the time, Flannery was covered by "one of those thrill-seeking plans: don't get hurt, don't go to the doctor." The deductible was about $4,000.

"It's the kind of thing where you don't think about it a lot until something happens to you," said Flannery, a third-year law student at SCU who appeared on a recent panel of students with different health care experiences.

Nguyen and Jamie Andrzejewski organized the forum and have started an effort to get students involved in the health care debate. Their Web site is .

Jay Hann , a third-year law student at SCU, said the reason he doesn't have health insurance is simple: He can't afford it. Part of what he calls the "graduate student gap of the uninsured," Hann, 24, said law school over three years has cost him $100,000 and he has two part-time jobs just to get by. He was dropped from his parents' health insurance when he turned 23.

Student plans

While the University of California system requires full-time undergraduates to have health coverage, California State University schools, Santa Clara and others do not. Robert Andrzejewski , now 32, had bought insurance through his school, California Lutheran University , when he was an undergrad about 10 years ago, paying a yearly premium of about $1,500.

"Two months after Rob proposed, he came to me and said his back was hurting," remembers Jamie Andrzejewski , who was 20 at the time. "His condition progressed very quickly but we didn't have a diagnosis for the first six months."

By the time he was referred to a specialist and had an MRI, he was bedridden and racked with pain. The discs in his spine were degenerating, leaking and bulging into the spinal column space.

He had bounced from doctor to doctor and had several misdiagnoses before the university health center referred him to a spine pain management doctor.

"It wasn't long before doctors' offices started calling regularly about bills piling up," Jamie Andrzejewski said.

But at least they finally had a diagnosis — juvenile discogenic disease. All they needed now was a treatment plan. He underwent surgery recently that allows him to walk with much less pain, but he can't lift anything "heavier than a gallon of milk."

The young couple's struggle caused all of their plans to be put on hold, except for their wedding.

Jamie Andrzejewski was forced to postpone law school for seven years and took a series of jobs as she tried to make a living for them both, trying more than anything to secure jobs with benefits. She worked as a security guard at a mall, a police officer in the East Bay but decided that didn't work for her.

She now works 40 hours a week as a paralegal at an international corporation on the Peninsula and attends law classes four nights a week. When she graduates, Jamie Andrzejewski plans to work as a patient advocate.

"We've had to make a lot of life decisions based on pre-existing conditions Rob has," she said. "I want to help people do what I had to do for us."

Copyright © 2009 McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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OLYMPIC BUSINESS STAYS IN THE 'FAMILY'
11/17/2009
Seattle Times

They call it the "Olympic Family" for a reason.

Beyond just sounding nice, the official nickname for the Olympic power structure also is a spot-on description of the often-cozy relationship between officials who run the Games and companies that profit from them.

The Vancouver 2010 Games aren't immune from that less-than-proud Olympic tradition. In the lucrative field of ticketing and travel, a small group of interconnected Olympic business insiders — all with ties to the Salt Lake 2002 Olympics — plays a powerful role behind the scenes.

At the center of the web is Sead Dizdarevic, whose travel empire stands to profit handsomely from the 2010 Olympics. Dizdarevic, active in the business for 25 years, has a record of backroom deals and cash payments to potential host-city organizers.

The New Jersey man has said that's all in the past. Dizdarevic maintains Jet Set Sport's business dealings all went above board after the Salt Lake bid scandal, in which he admitted to paying $131,000 in cash to curry favor with two Salt Lake organizers who later were tried on federal fraud charges.

Rather than handshake arrangements, Dizdarevic's two companies, Jet Set and CoSport, now have official sponsorship contracts that give them control of the bulk of Olympic travel worldwide. Combined, the two companies are the largest buyer of tickets to the 2010 Olympics. CoSport is the only authorized Olympic ticket dealer in the United States.

But an old Dizdarevic company tradition of handpicking employees from the ranks of organizations controlling the Olympics appears alive and well. And it has expanded to lure an influential investor — one who serves on a key governing panel for the Olympics from which Dizdarevic hopes to profit.

Adviser and investor

For the Vancouver 2010 Games — as in past Olympics — the International Olympic Committee (IOC) appointed an eight-member Coordination Commission to oversee how the Games are run.

The group — composed of IOC members, a high-ranking manager from a previous Olympics, an athlete representative and others — serves as liaison between the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) and the IOC executive board in Switzerland.

During the seven-year run-up to the Games, the IOC commission for Vancouver has met periodically, in closed sessions, to "monitor and assist" local organizers with Olympic business and operations, according to the IOC.

A key commission member is Fraser Bullock, a Utah investment-firm executive who served as the chief financial officer of the 2002 Salt Lake Games. Bullock was the right-hand man for Mitt Romney when new leaders were hired to right the course of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) after the bid scandal erupted in 1999.

Bullock describes himself as a "jack of all trades" on the Vancouver commission, working to ensure a quality experience for media, sponsors and spectators. That work includes policy decisions on a wide range of Games operations, including ticketing.

Bullock is a key adviser on the Vancouver Olympic budget, and plans to advise organizers of Russia's Sochi 2014 Winter Games, as well.

He had served on the IOC commission for six years when an opportunity arose "totally out of the blue" to buy a minority share of Dizdarevic's Jet Set Sports, Bullock told The Seattle Times.

Dizdarevic invited Sorenson Capital — the Utah private-equity firm Bullock co-founded in 2003 — to invest in Jet Set Sports, Bullock said.

Jet Set at that point already had paid Vancouver organizers a reported $15 million to become the exclusive hospitality provider for the 2010 Olympics.

Although Bullock's firm invests most of its money in manufacturing and technology, he said it seemed logical to buy into Jet Set, a travel company.

Bullock declined to specify the amount of Sorenson's minority investment in Jet Set, announced in December 2008. He continued to serve on the Vancouver IOC commission afterward.

Because the commission made decisions that might affect business for Olympic sponsors, such as Jet Set, he expected questions about a perceived conflict-of-interest.

"Of course, that was my first concern when we started down this path," he said.

Bullock said he "immediately" cleared the matter with a "senior member" of the International Olympic Committee before the investment deal was finalized. He reminded the IOC that Jet Set's contract with VANOC, signed in March 2007, was in place before he ever considered investing in the company.

"That made people more comfortable," he said.

He also recused himself from discussions involving Jet Set, and even offered to resign from the commission, Bullock said. A news release about the deal last year mentioned his role on the commission.

"The biggest issue in any conflict is if it's not disclosed," Bullock said. "Once it's disclosed and everyone knows the issue and you recuse yourself, then there aren't any issues."

Bullock was offended when pressed by The Times to explain whether the investment put him in a position to make decisions that might benefit a company he now partially owns.

"This is going in a direction that is way out of line," he said.

The IOC does not consider Bullock's investment to be a conflict of interest, spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said. She declined to say whether the matter had ever been referred to the IOC's ethics commission to determine if it was in keeping with the organization's ethics policy. VANOC officials did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

But an ethics expert from Santa Clara University said that, in general terms, an appearance of conflict might be unavoidable in such situations. A decision-maker who recuses himself from matters affecting his business might already have benefitted from inside knowledge leading to the investment opportunity, said Kirk O. Hanson, an ethics professor and executive director at The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

"Information is worth a lot of money," he said.

Bullock and Dizdarevic have another common interest beyond Jet Set: supporting Romney, who headed the Salt Lake Games, in his bid for the highest U.S. public office. Bullock was a key supporter and contributed to Romney's 2008 presidential campaign. Dizdarevic and his family also funded the campaign, giving nearly $9,000. Dizdarevic has been a strong supporter of the GOP, giving more than $35,000 between 2001 and 2003, federal records show.

Bullock wasn't the only one in a position to give Jet Set an edge with its Vancouver Olympic business. In 2005, when Jet Set was establishing a Toronto office to sell travel packages to Canadians, Dizdarevic looked to a familiar man to run it — Michael Patterson, then-director of marketing for the Canadian Olympic Committee.

Before he jumped ship to Jet Set, Patterson had worked closely with the company, overseeing its exclusive contract to sell travel packages for the 2004 Athens Olympics. Patterson has since left Jet Set and works for a marketing firm in Toronto. He did not return calls for comment.

The revolving door

The world of Olympic management has a revolving door not unlike the one between the U.S. Congress and lobbying firms — but with far less scrutiny. Employees of nonprofit Games agencies, such as host-city organizing committees or national Olympic committees, often gain specialized knowledge that can pay off when they move to jobs with higher-paying private companies.

But few Olympic travel-business insiders can claim to have worked both sides of the aisle as effectively as Mark Lewis, who would sign Dizdarevic to a lucrative deal in Salt Lake City, then see the favor repaid.

Before he went into the travel business, Lewis did marketing work for the IOC. Then he was hired as a senior Games official in Salt Lake, serving as vice president for marketing on Romney and Bullock's team.

Lewis had a dual role there, one that illustrates how intertwined the Olympic business world becomes: In 2001, Lewis was paid a salary of $209,000 by the U.S. Olympic Committee, which had a joint marketing venture with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC). But his benefits of $165,000 were paid by SLOC, tax records show.

Lewis' primary task was to raise money for both entities. And he did it in record fashion: nearly $1 billion in sponsor contracts, everything from an official airline of the 2002 Games (Delta) to the official walnut (Diamond).

That quest led him straight to Dizdarevic, whom he had known since 1996. Salt Lake officials, hired to clean up the bid-scandal mess, knew Dizdarevic was a potential government witness in the fraud trial, Lewis said. But Romney's group, inheriting a $379 million budget deficit, decided that wasn't a deal-breaker.

"We did a lot of due diligence," Lewis said. "We were very satisfied, or we would never have had him as a sponsor."

Three years after those Games, Dizdarevic, not Lewis, was doing the recruiting: He hired Lewis to become president of Jet Set — a position that was "too good to pass up," Lewis said. Jet Set's annual revenue has tripled in his tenure.

Lewis also has literal family connections to the Olympic movement — and to Olympic business at three consecutive Winter Games. His wife, Dawn Allinger, is a former U.S. team handball player. Her sister-in-law, Cathy Priestner Allinger, has served in top leadership roles at the Salt Lake, Turin and now the Vancouver Olympics, where she is an executive vice president.

Priestner Allinger and Lewis also worked together running the Utah Athletic Foundation, a nonprofit agency that manages venues left from the Salt Lake Games.

Lewis said the connection offers no business advantage to Jet Set and that Priestner Allinger, a former Canadian Olympic speed skater, disclosed the relationship before she was hired by VANOC. And, he said, she works in sports and venue management, fields that generally don't involve his company.

"We are as honest and ethical as we can be," Lewis said. "We [Jet Set] won't do anything I'm not proud of."

IOC officials referred questions about the matter to VANOC, which did not respond to multiple requests for interviews. Priestner Allinger also declined to comment.

None of these relationships has drawn much public notice — perhaps because Olympic management receives little public or media scrutiny. Despite their use of hundreds of millions of public dollars, Olympic organizations are exempt from open-records laws, and draw no direct government oversight.

That lack of transparency, coupled with the fact that the management structure for each Games is created anew, contributes to an atmosphere "fraught with potential for exploitation," said Santa Clara's Hanson.

The Olympic Games, he said, "have never developed the same standards of transparency about its deals that are common in other areas."

Ron Judd: rjudd@seattletimes.com or 206-464-8280

Christine Willmsen: cwillmsen@seattletimes.com or 206-464-3261

FOUR-PART SERIES

SUNDAY: Freezing out the fans

MONDAY: The man behind the monopoly

TODAY: Connections pay off for insiders

WEDNESDAY: Scalpers' market

Copyright © 2009 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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San Jose teens charged as adults in stabbing | View Clip
11/17/2009
ABC 7 Morning News at 5 AM - KGO-TV

More: Bio, abc7news.com News Team, Twitter

SAN JOSE, CA (KGO) -- Two San Jose teenagers accused of murdering a classmate made their first court appearance Tuesday.

Sixteen-year-old Randy Thompson and 15-year-old Jae Williams appeared in court for the first time since their arrest on Friday. Both have been charged with the murder of fellow Santa Teresa High School student Mike Russell. Russell was found stabbed to death in the yard of his home on Comanche Drive one week ago.

Santa Clara County District Attorney Dolores Carr said the juveniles will be tried as adults.

"What we do essentially is balance the juvenile court's emphasis on rehabilitation of the juveniles, versus the public safety and safety of the community aspect," she said.

Carr accuses both Williams and Thompson of using knives to kill their 15-year-old schoolmate, but says she has no idea what the motive might have been.

Williams and Thompson had MySpace pages that made references to violence, drugs and Satan.

Thomas Plante, a clinical psychologist and Santa Clara University professor, said those references alone would not be as strong a predictor of violent behavior as bullying or other anti-social behavior.

"People are putting what we call free associations, the first things that come on their mind, on Facebook and MySpace, whether they believe it or not, it might be what they think about in the moment and we don't know the other influences that are involved," he said.

Plante said other influences might include alcohol or drugs.

So far, investigators are not saying publicly whether they were contributing factors to Russell's murder.

Thompson and Williams scanned the courtroom for family and friends Tuesday. If they spotted any, their faces showed no connection.

Outside the Hall of Justice, the Russell's uncle and members of the Williams and Thompson families would not talk to reporters.

Randy Thompson and Jae Williams will be held without bail in juvenile hall until their next court appearance on December 2.

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Olympic business stays in the 'family' | View Clip
11/17/2009
Seattle Times - Online

In the lucrative field of ticketing and travel, a small group of interconnected Olympic business insiders — all with ties to the Salt Lake 2002 Olympics — plays a powerful role behind the scenes.

Sead Dizdarevic founded Jet Set, CoSport

Members of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee celebrate the opening of the Olympic Village in January 2002. From left in the front row: Chief Financial Officer Fraser Bullock; Olympic boosters Spence Eccles, "mayor" of the Olympic Village, and his daughter Lisa Eccles; and SLOC Chairman Robert Garff. Bullock is the managing director of Sorenson Capital, which invested in Jet Set Sports, and is a key adviser on the Vancouver Olympic budget. He says he avoids conflicts of interest.

They call it the "Olympic Family" for a reason.

Beyond just sounding nice, the official nickname for the Olympic power structure also is a spot-on description of the often-cozy relationship between officials who run the Games and companies that profit from them.

The Vancouver 2010 Games aren't immune from that less-than-proud Olympic tradition. In the lucrative field of ticketing and travel, a small group of interconnected Olympic business insiders — all with ties to the Salt Lake 2002 Olympics — plays a powerful role behind the scenes.

At the center of the web is Sead Dizdarevic, whose travel empire stands to profit handsomely from the 2010 Olympics. Dizdarevic, active in the business for 25 years, has a record of backroom deals and cash payments to potential host-city organizers.

The New Jersey man has said that's all in the past. Dizdarevic maintains Jet Set Sport's business dealings all went above board after the Salt Lake bid scandal, in which he admitted to paying $131,000 in cash to curry favor with two Salt Lake organizers who later were tried on federal fraud charges.

Rather than handshake arrangements, Dizdarevic's two companies, Jet Set and CoSport, now have official sponsorship contracts that give them control of the bulk of Olympic travel worldwide. Combined, the two companies are the largest buyer of tickets to the 2010 Olympics. CoSport is the only authorized Olympic ticket dealer in the United States.

But an old Dizdarevic company tradition of handpicking employees from the ranks of organizations controlling the Olympics appears alive and well. And it has expanded to lure an influential investor — one who serves on a key governing panel for the Olympics from which Dizdarevic hopes to profit.

Adviser and investor

For the Vancouver 2010 Games — as in past Olympics — the International Olympic Committee (IOC) appointed an eight-member Coordination Commission to oversee how the Games are run.

The group — composed of IOC members, a high-ranking manager from a previous Olympics, an athlete representative and others — serves as liaison between the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) and the IOC executive board in Switzerland.

During the seven-year run-up to the Games, the IOC commission for Vancouver has met periodically, in closed sessions, to "monitor and assist" local organizers with Olympic business and operations, according to the IOC.

A key commission member is Fraser Bullock, a Utah investment-firm executive who served as the chief financial officer of the 2002 Salt Lake Games. Bullock was the right-hand man for Mitt Romney when new leaders were hired to right the course of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) after the bid scandal erupted in 1999.

Bullock describes himself as a "jack of all trades" on the Vancouver commission, working to ensure a quality experience for media, sponsors and spectators. That work includes policy decisions on a wide range of Games operations, including ticketing.

Bullock is a key adviser on the Vancouver Olympic budget, and plans to advise organizers of Russia's Sochi 2014 Winter Games, as well.

He had served on the IOC commission for six years when an opportunity arose "totally out of the blue" to buy a minority share of Dizdarevic's Jet Set Sports, Bullock told The Seattle Times.

Dizdarevic invited Sorenson Capital — the Utah private-equity firm Bullock co-founded in 2003 — to invest in Jet Set Sports, Bullock said.

Jet Set at that point already had paid Vancouver organizers a reported $15 million to become the exclusive hospitality provider for the 2010 Olympics.

Although Bullock's firm invests most of its money in manufacturing and technology, he said it seemed logical to buy into Jet Set, a travel company.

Bullock declined to specify the amount of Sorenson's minority investment in Jet Set, announced in December 2008. He continued to serve on the Vancouver IOC commission afterward.

Because the commission made decisions that might affect business for Olympic sponsors, such as Jet Set, he expected questions about a perceived conflict-of-interest.

"Of course, that was my first concern when we started down this path," he said.

Bullock said he "immediately" cleared the matter with a "senior member" of the International Olympic Committee before the investment deal was finalized. He reminded the IOC that Jet Set's contract with VANOC, signed in March 2007, was in place before he ever considered investing in the company.

"That made people more comfortable," he said.

He also recused himself from discussions involving Jet Set, and even offered to resign from the commission, Bullock said. A news release about the deal last year mentioned his role on the commission.

"The biggest issue in any conflict is if it's not disclosed," Bullock said. "Once it's disclosed and everyone knows the issue and you recuse yourself, then there aren't any issues."

Bullock was offended when pressed by The Times to explain whether the investment put him in a position to make decisions that might benefit a company he now partially owns.

"This is going in a direction that is way out of line," he said.

The IOC does not consider Bullock's investment to be a conflict of interest, spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said. She declined to say whether the matter had ever been referred to the IOC's ethics commission to determine if it was in keeping with the organization's ethics policy. VANOC officials did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

But an ethics expert from Santa Clara University said that, in general terms, an appearance of conflict might be unavoidable in such situations. A decision-maker who recuses himself from matters affecting his business might already have benefitted from inside knowledge leading to the investment opportunity, said Kirk O. Hanson, an ethics professor and executive director at The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

"Information is worth a lot of money," he said.

Bullock and Dizdarevic have another common interest beyond Jet Set: supporting Romney, who headed the Salt Lake Games, in his bid for the highest U.S. public office. Bullock was a key supporter and contributed to Romney's 2008 presidential campaign. Dizdarevic and his family also funded the campaign, giving nearly $9,000. Dizdarevic has been a strong supporter of the GOP, giving more than $35,000 between 2001 and 2003, federal records show.

Bullock wasn't the only one in a position to give Jet Set an edge with its Vancouver Olympic business. In 2005, when Jet Set was establishing a Toronto office to sell travel packages to Canadians, Dizdarevic looked to a familiar man to run it — Michael Patterson, then-director of marketing for the Canadian Olympic Committee.

Before he jumped ship to Jet Set, Patterson had worked closely with the company, overseeing its exclusive contract to sell travel packages for the 2004 Athens Olympics. Patterson has since left Jet Set and works for a marketing firm in Toronto. He did not return calls for comment.

The revolving door

The world of Olympic management has a revolving door not unlike the one between the U.S. Congress and lobbying firms — but with far less scrutiny. Employees of nonprofit Games agencies, such as host-city organizing committees or national Olympic committees, often gain specialized knowledge that can pay off when they move to jobs with higher-paying private companies.

But few Olympic travel-business insiders can claim to have worked both sides of the aisle as effectively as Mark Lewis, who would sign Dizdarevic to a lucrative deal in Salt Lake City, then see the favor repaid.

Before he went into the travel business, Lewis did marketing work for the IOC. Then he was hired as a senior Games official in Salt Lake, serving as vice president for marketing on Romney and Bullock's team.

Lewis had a dual role there, one that illustrates how intertwined the Olympic business world becomes: In 2001, Lewis was paid a salary of $209,000 by the U.S. Olympic Committee, which had a joint marketing venture with the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC). But his benefits of $165,000 were paid by SLOC, tax records show.

Lewis' primary task was to raise money for both entities. And he did it in record fashion: nearly $1 billion in sponsor contracts, everything from an official airline of the 2002 Games (Delta) to the official walnut (Diamond).

That quest led him straight to Dizdarevic, whom he had known since 1996. Salt Lake officials, hired to clean up the bid-scandal mess, knew Dizdarevic was a potential government witness in the fraud trial, Lewis said. But Romney's group, inheriting a $379 million budget deficit, decided that wasn't a deal-breaker.

"We did a lot of due diligence," Lewis said. "We were very satisfied, or we would never have had him as a sponsor."

Three years after those Games, Dizdarevic, not Lewis, was doing the recruiting: He hired Lewis to become president of Jet Set — a position that was "too good to pass up," Lewis said. Jet Set's annual revenue has tripled in his tenure.

Lewis also has literal family connections to the Olympic movement — and to Olympic business at three consecutive Winter Games. His wife, Dawn Allinger, is a former U.S. team handball player. Her sister-in-law, Cathy Priestner Allinger, has served in top leadership roles at the Salt Lake, Turin and now the Vancouver Olympics, where she is an executive vice president.

Priestner Allinger and Lewis also worked together running the Utah Athletic Foundation, a nonprofit agency that manages venues left from the Salt Lake Games.

Lewis said the connection offers no business advantage to Jet Set and that Priestner Allinger, a former Canadian Olympic speed skater, disclosed the relationship before she was hired by VANOC. And, he said, she works in sports and venue management, fields that generally don't involve his company.

"We are as honest and ethical as we can be," Lewis said. "We [Jet Set] won't do anything I'm not proud of."

IOC officials referred questions about the matter to VANOC, which did not respond to multiple requests for interviews. Priestner Allinger also declined to comment.

None of these relationships has drawn much public notice — perhaps because Olympic management receives little public or media scrutiny. Despite their use of hundreds of millions of public dollars, Olympic organizations are exempt from open-records laws, and draw no direct government oversight.

That lack of transparency, coupled with the fact that the management structure for each Games is created anew, contributes to an atmosphere "fraught with potential for exploitation," said Santa Clara's Hanson.

The Olympic Games, he said, "have never developed the same standards of transparency about its deals that are common in other areas."

Ron Judd: rjudd@seattletimes.com or 206-464-8280

Christine Willmsen: cwillmsen@seattletimes.com or 206-464-3261

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ARS Lab tests can predict environmental effects of transgenic Bt crop lines | View Clip
11/17/2009
AgProfessional

Potential risks from new transgenic Bt crop lines can be assessed using carefully controlled laboratory tests, according to findings of a study by Agricultural Research Service scientists and cooperators. This finding will help streamline the assessment process for introducing new insect control technology to the marketplace, while ensuring environmental safety.

Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) is a biological control bacterium that is effective against a number of key insect crop pests. Crops that contain Bt genes have a built-in defense against these insects, but such crops need to be studied to make sure they don't pose a risk to non-target organisms.

To test whether the impact of these transgenic crops in the field was predictable from laboratory experiments, scientists from ARS collaborated with researchers at Santa Clara University in California to compare all current laboratory and field studies on non-target effects using meta-analyses. Findings of the ARS study suggest that researchers should be able to more accurately predict from laboratory studies the impact that new experimental lines may have in the field.

Entomologists Jian Duan, Jonathan Lundgren and Steven Naranjo led the study. Duan works at the ARS Beneficial Insects Introduction Research Unit in Newark, Del. Lundgren is based at the ARS North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory in Brookings, S.D. Naranjo is the research leader of the ARS Pest Management and Biological Control Research Unit in Maricopa, Ariz.

The study was initiated to test the underlying assumption of biotechnology risk assessment-that laboratory tests can accurately identify potential risks of transgenic insecticidal Bt crops in the field. The new ARS study demonstrated that carefully controlled laboratory tests can accurately detect toxicological risks that might emerge in the field, thereby reducing the need for more expensive and time-consuming tests.

The study, completed earlier this year, was published in the journal Biology Letters.

SOURCE: USDA.

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Doing the right thing for your body and mind Exercise environment matters! | View Clip
11/16/2009
Psychology Today - Online

We get different exercise benefits based on our environment

We all know that doing the right thing for our bodies include regular exercise. What we might not realize is that exercise environment really does matter. We get different benefits from exercise depending upon what is happening around us. So, depending on your exercise goals, you might want to be mindful of where and how you exercise and who you exercise with.

In my laboratory at Santa Clara University, my students and I have conducted a number of studies where we manipulate the exercise environment of our research participants while keeping the intensity and duration of their exercise exposure constant. For example, all participants exercise for 20 minutes at a moderate level (about 60% of their maximum heart rate which we monitor closely). In some experimental conditions they exercise indoors and in some conditions they exercise outdoors. In some conditions they exercise with a friend while in other conditions they exercise with a stranger or by themselves. In other conditions they exercise with an iPod. Some conditions they experience virtual computer generated exercise (through a virtual reality headset and computer program) and in some conditions they do not. Over the years, we have conducted and published a number of studies on this topic in scientific professional journals. What can we learn from them?

In general, we have learned that if your goal with exercise is to relax (perhaps after a stressful day) you are more likely to achieve the most relaxation if you exercise alone and indoors (rather than with a friend or outdoors). If you exercise goal is to be energized by your workout (perhaps to wake you up in the morning) then you are likely to accomplish this goal by exercising outdoors and with a friend.

In terms of enjoyment, people generally enjoy their exercise when conducted outdoors and also with music (such as using an iPod). The peppier the music, by the way, the better.

If your goal is to work out harder, then exercising with another person who you experience as being high fit will likely do the trick. Exercising with someone you perceive as being low in fitness will likely result in a poorer workout in that you will likely not work out as vigorously.

Finally, your beliefs about your fitness matter as well. If you believe that you are fit, you'll enjoy much more of the psychological benefits of exercise (including improved stress management) than if you don't believe you are fit.

In a nutshell, we all know that we should get regular exercise and that it is the right thing to do for our body, mind, and soul. But research suggests that we should be mindful of the exercise environment that we are in (i.e., outdoors, indoors, with music or without, with friends, strangers, or alone, with those who are high or low in fitness) and that our beliefs about our fitness really do matter.

So, go out there and exercise but be thoughtful of the environment that you exercise in to get the results you desire.

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As holidays approach, retailers are hopeful and shoppers are wary | View Clip
11/15/2009
InsideBayArea.com

Santa's already in the window at La Villa Delicatessen, not far from the swinging salami. Nutcracker soldiers stand sentry down at Fleurish home-furnishings store. And at the doorway to Fleabags down Lincoln Avenue, Binky the Shih Tzu begs shoppers to check out the reindeer chew toys already on the gift store's shelves.

But on the eve of this recession-wracked holiday season, that wagging tail looks more like a big question mark: What if the shoppers don't come?

"My mood isn't that great," Fleabags owner Misty Braz said the other day, surrounded by holiday gifts she ordered in February, before the recession started shuttering Willow Glen's retail corridor. "I see more people walking on the street now, but I'm not hearing people talk much about Christmas. I think most people are on hold."

The holiday season, which can represent as much as 40 percent of annual sales for some retailers, has already been launched by shop owners who hope that by extending the season they can salvage it. Most analysts predict a modest uptick in sales of a few percentage points at best, which isn't saying much after a 2008 holiday season as soft as slush. Sales last Christmas dropped 3.8 percent from 2007, after growing 5 percent the previous year.

Consumer behavior in the coming weeks will reveal a lot about how Americans feel about their financial state going into 2010. Despite signs of economic recovery, unemployment and housing woes have left Americans

credit-wary, budget-obsessed and reluctant to splurge when the recovery still seems so fragile.

"I think this recession is likely to make long-term changes in people's thinking,'' said David Sheets, a 27-year-old computer engineer from Campbell recently rehired by the same company that laid him off a year earlier. "We're starting to step back and ask ourselves, 'Do I really want to put that much on my credit card this Christmas as I used do? Do material things mean as much to me anymore?' "

Nobody's predicting a Christmas crash. Doug Hart, a retail expert at BDO Seidman in San Francisco, cited signs of "positive momentum.'' He said a recent industry survey projected an average 1.4 percent growth in same-store sales over last holiday season.

And PayPal, the online payment site, expects online holiday retail sales to jump 8 percent this year to $44.7 billion.

Toy-industry consultant and author Richard Gottlieb thinks sales may be brisk enough to create shortages because retailers have cut back on their orders.

Gottlieb and others say the use of layaway by Toys R Us and Sears should entice buyers who may be reluctant — or unable — to tap into credit cards anymore. Toy sellers have been blessed with Zhu Zhu Pets Hamsters, a robotic rock star that analysts predict will soon start flying off the shelves as it has in Australia.

As Gottlieb put it, "people may not be more confident this year, but they'll spend with more confidence."

Merel Heggelund, a jeweler in Willow Glen where the business district has lost several businesses this year, sees cautious optimism in his customers' embrace of layaway. "I look at that as an indication of how we'll do over the holidays," he said. "I think that putting things away now on layaway means they're willing to loosen their pocketbooks over Christmas."

Retailers are doing whatever they can to help open those purse strings, no matter how modest the tactic. At the Best Buy at Santana Row, for example, operations manager Dallas Carter said the return policy has been extended five days, until Jan. 31, as a way to ease anxious buyers' concerns about buying gifts they may have to take back if their financial fortunes turn south over the holidays.

Luis Mendoza, whose family has owned San Jose Men's Wear in East San Jose for 30 years, says most of his customers are working-class and have been particularly hard hit by layoffs. Consequently, he thinks they'll wait until close to the holidays to start shopping.

"People will wait until the last minute because they want to see what kinds of discounts they can get and how their job security will be,'' he said. "They don't want to buy stuff now and then lose their job."

Some of those hit hard by the recession won't be doing much shopping at all. Jim Huether, 58, a Watsonville software engineer who's been struggling to find full-time work for several years, said, "I'm not buying anything this year, except for maybe a few cards for my family and very best friends and maybe $25 gift certificates for each of my nephews."

Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst with NPD Group, says shoppers' aversion to running up credit card debt belies another trend that might actually help retailers. "We've seen an increase in the savings rate since the recession started,'' he said. "So while a lot of folks won't have the credit available they had last year, they won't stop shopping — they'll dip into savings."

And, he said, they'll stretch whatever they have as far as they can. "It's all about the deal," Cohen said, "and finding a way to get the biggest bang for your buck."

What shoppers buy this year will say a lot about the Great Recession's legacy. Because for many Americans, the downturn has changed their worldview like no other economic event in a generation.

"The kinds of things I'll buy this year won't be 'thing-oriented,' " said product-development consultant Mike Alvarado, 52, a San Jose father of two grown daughters. "I'm looking for gifts that people can get some real use or value out of over time, because this recession has made us all value the relationships in our lives more than we used to."

So this year, Alvarado said, it'll be more framed photos, movie tickets, charitable donations in someone's name, even certificates for pedicures and haircuts.

"A lot of people are girding for a couple more tough years," he said. "So no more frivolous purchases. Everything I give this year has to have some meaning."

Contact Patrick May at 408-920-5689.

Hot or not?

Kirthi Kalyanam, a professor of marketing at Santa Clara University"s Retail Management Institute, offers

these predictions:

Consumer electronics

For the most part, video game equipment won"t do well. There is no new must-have device.

High-end apparel

Retailers have cut back on inventory. People won"t be buying luxury labels.

Home furnishings

People aren"t ready to make those big-ticket purchases. Low-end furniture, no problem.

Toys

Consumers will get some great deals on the popular items.

Books

Consumers will benefit from price competition online among Walmart, Amazon and Target.

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DNA results raise questions about '85 killing
11/15/2009
Monterey County Herald

Scientists have identified four DNA profiles from evidence in the 1985 slaying of Paula Ann Durocher of Monterey, and none of them belongs to the man who has spent more than 20 years in prison for her murder.

All the profiles are of different men, and two came from vaginal swabs and scrapings from beneath Durocher's fingernails, according to Rhonda Donato, supervising attorney for the Northern California Innocence Project. The group plans to seek a new trial for Jack Edward Sagin, 62, who is serving a life sentence.

Sagin said the evidence proves his innocence.

"Like the polygraph I took in 1986, I pass and the DA's informants failed," Sagin wrote in a letter to The Herald. "This shows again I'm innocent of this crazy murder."

Assistant District Attorney Berkley Brannon agreed that the test results are "suspicious," but said they fall far short of proving Sagin's innocence.

Brannon said there are a number of plausible explanations for how another man's DNA was found in and on Durocher. He said Sagin's prosecutor, the late William McCardle, indicated in court documents there was evidence two people may have been involved in the killing.

"I certainly would say we take (the results) seriously and we're going to work the case," Brannon said. "It's not a question of wondering if Mr. Sagin did this, but determining all the circumstances in the matter."

Donato has requested that prosecutors submit the DNA profiles to state and federal DNA databases in an effort to find matches among known profiles. Brannon said the state Department of Justice has informed him it will not upload DNA profiles developed by private laboratories and will have to retest the evidence itself.

Brian Wraxall, executive director of Serological Research Institute, which conducted the tests, said the department's position is nonsense and a waste of time and resources.

Numerous Southern California law enforcement agencies outsource their forensic testing to Serological, he said, and their results are routinely run by those agencies through Department of Justice crime labs.

Jury convicts

Durocher's daughter found her dead in her Dela Vina Avenue apartment on July 15, 1985. According to autopsy findings, the 40-year-old woman was smothered to the point of blacking out, then stabbed in the back of the head, the neck and three times in the heart.

McCardle said in 1989 there was evidence one person held Durocher down and smothered her to mask her screams while the other stabbed her.

The forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy said there was no evidence of a sexual assault and police concluded she was killed during a burglary, though nothing but the murder weapon was taken from her apartment.

Sagin was a junkie with a $400-a-day heroin habit and a history of criminal convictions dating back to the 1960s. Most of his convictions were for burglary, though he was convicted in 1980 of voluntary manslaughter in a Santa Clara County case that was originally charged as murder.

He was arrested and jailed five months after Durocher's murder when he tried to stab Seaside police officers who were attempting to detain him for a parole violation. It was during that stay in the Monterey County Jail that Sagin allegedly told two inmates he killed Durocher.

The informants, who were in the jail at different times and did not know each other, told police that Sagin said he and Durocher's ex-boyfriend went to burglarize the apartment that morning. Durocher, who was supposed to be gone, surprised them and took a swing at Sagin, who then stabbed her.

A jury convicted Sagin of murder during the commission of a burglary after little more than four hours of deliberations, and he was sentenced to life without possibility of parole.

Rape-murder

Based at Santa Clara University Law School, the Northern California Innocence Project agreed to look at Sagin's conviction because it was based largely on testimony by jail informants. The group is part of the national organization of lawyers and law students that has exonerated more than 225 wrongfully convicted people, most through DNA testing.

Fifteen percent of those cases involved jailhouse informants. As a result, prosecutors' offices across the country, including the Monterey County District Attorney's Office, have established tough policies regarding the use of such witnesses.

In January, Judge Terrance Duncan granted the project's request to run evidence from the Durocher case through DNA testing, which was not available in the 1980s. Serological, an accredited lab, identified DNA from semen and the fingernail scrapings as well as from a marijuana roach and hair found on a cushion.

"I think under the fingernails is pretty suspicious," Donato said. "It's male DNA under her fingernails. That and the rape kit ... I think it probably means (Sagin) is not the perpetrator."

While the local expert concluded Durocher was not sexually assaulted, Donato submitted declarations from a criminalist and another pathologist concluding the slaying was a rape-murder.

"What we want to do is to run the profiles through the FBI's national system to see if we can find out whose profile it is," she said. "The DA says there could have been two perpetrators, but you'd think you'd want to know."

Jailhouse informants

Brannon agreed and said his office will send evidence to the Department of Justice for testing so results can be compared to profiles in the national database.

"Now that we have the DNA, we want to take a look. I don't think we'd run all four (profiles). I don't think there's anything to be gained from the joint and the hair," which could have been left at the scene at any time. "The ones of interest are the (vaginal) swab ... and fingernail scrapings."

Even the DNA from the semen, which also was found on Durocher's robe, proves nothing, Brannon said, because Durocher had sex with her boyfriend the night before the murder.

In this case, Brannon said, there's much more than DNA to convict Sagin. The jailhouse informants knew details of the crime that only the killer could have told them: the number of stab wounds to Durocher's heart; the fact that a 7-inch knife was used in the slaying; the name of the ex-boyfriend who'd previously taken him to Durocher's apartment.

Police purposely withheld details of the murder, including Durocher's wounds, from the public.

The informants also said Sagin told them Durocher was not supposed to be home that day. In fact, the victim had planned to attend motorcycle races with her boyfriend but stayed home suffering with arthritis pain.

"The information he gave the informants was almost in the nature of fingerprints," Brannon said.

Virginia Hennessey can be reached at 753-6751 or vhennessey@montereyherald .com.

----

All contents ©2009 MONTEREY COUNTY HERALD and may not be republished without written permission.

Copyright © 2009 The Monterey County Herald

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BusinessWeek The case against retirement | View Clip
11/15/2009
MSNBC.com

Ah, retirement! Before the 1950s it was something only the wealthy could afford to do. Everyone else needed an income, and most folks struggled to get by in the industrial economy as their faculties deteriorated. Back in the days before 401(k)s—let alone Social Security—older people faced the kind of pressures portrayed by filmmaker D.W. Griffith in his melodramatic 1911 silent film What Shall We Do With Our Old? It's a sad tale of the setbacks endured by an elderly couple, the wife ailing, the husband tossed off the assembly line to make way for a younger worker.

Griffith was one of many social activists calling for a social insurance system to provide an income for the elderly. The social reformist dream became reality with the 1935 Social Security Act, the spread of the corporate defined benefit pension plan, and Medicare in 1965. For most workers the last stage of life became a time of leisure, recreation, and enjoyment.

The Age of Retirement was one of America's most successful social reforms ever. But that era is over. A new vision of old age is emerging from the trauma of the credit crunch and the Great Recession: Forget retirement. Keep working.

A long time coming

Surveys show that a majority of baby boomers say they want to work during their golden years. They're going to get their wish. The key question is no longer 'How early can I retire?' It's 'Why retire?'Of course, like all tectonic social and economic shifts, the trend isn't new. It has been building for the past three decades with the move away from traditional pensions with their involuntary contributions and steady payout for 401(k)-type plans with their voluntary contributions and uncertain returns. We're also living longer. That's good news, but it does mean that to maintain their standard of living the elderly have to either earn a paycheck longer or save more—a lot more.

For workers nearing their retirement years, the median balance on 401(k)s and IRAs combined was a mere $78,000 in 2007. And the stock market reached its all-time peak that year! But the Great Recession has devastated portfolios since then, a stark reminder to millions of near-retirees that they haven't saved enough to fund a good retirement. Indeed, taking into account both the decline in financial assets and housing, the National Retirement Risk Index as of mid-2009 signals that 51 percent of households are at risk at age 65 of not having enough retirement income to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living. That's up from 44% in 2007 and 43 percent in 2004, according to the index' creator, the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

When you're sixty-four

Those are hardly heartening percentages, and the situation seems even worse when the U.S. unemployment rate is at 10.2 percent, according to the Labor Dept.'s October survey. The jobless rate for workers 55 and older is around 7 percent.

But a look at longer-term trends is encouraging. An aging workforce is living longer and is less disabled than previous generations. After all, average life expectancy in 1935 when Social Security became law was 61 years. It's now 78. A tweak might have to be made to the famous Beatles song 'When I'm Sixty-Four':When I get older losing my hair,

Many years from now,

Will you still be sending me a valentine,

Birthday greetings, bottle of wine...

If I'm at work till quarter to ten

Would you lock the door?…

(It should be noted that the man who sings the lead vocal on the original tune, Sir Paul McCartney, continues to enjoy a productive career three years beyond his 64th birthday.)

Older workers probably won't be 'digging the weeds,' to mine the Beatles vein one last time. An economy dominated by services, information industries, and knowledge businesses is far easier to labor in than one where the commanding heights are full of factories, mines, and farms. The prospect of longer employment suggests more people will choose to alternate the rhythm of their lives, sometimes working intensely and at others exploring other opportunities.

Nevertheless, it's a social and economic revolution. Take those surveys that show a majority of boomers expect to earn a paycheck in retirement. Only about a third in the past actually worked for pay following retirement.

Yet companies are far from eager to fill their ranks with an aging workforce. The same energy and marketing savvy that created the postwar retirement of mass tourism and leisure will need to be expended on building satisfying careers and job opportunities for a highly experienced but graying and less robust workforce.

That said, the pressure to accommodate older workers will be there, much as the demand for old age insurance was growing around the time D.W. Griffith made his movie. The reason is that the financial impact of working even a few years longer on the average older worker is dramatic. A paycheck has a greater effect on living standards than increasing retirement contributions from 15 percent of paycheck to 25 percent, for example. Your savings continue to compound, and your Social Security benefit grows. The same dynamic holds with working part-time. 'You don't have to pay for expenses out of savings,' says Christine Fahlund, a senior financial planner at T. Rowe Price. 'You meet them with your paycheck.'Work longer, stay healthier

Take this illustration from the number-crunchers at T. Rowe Price. A worker earns $100,000 a year. He has a portfolio worth $500,000. His asset allocation is 40 percent stocks, 40 percent bonds, and 20 percent cash. Instead of retiring, he continues to work and socks away 15 percent of his income for three more years. At age 65 he would have boosted his total retirement benefit package by 28 percent. If he went to age 70 his retirement finances would almost double in value, rising 90 percent. Of course, he doesn't have to work full-time to get a return from waiting. An income of $20,000 from part-time work is the equivalent of withdrawing 4 percent a year from a $500,000 portfolio.

It's also underappreciated that laboring for a paycheck may actually make aging workers healthier. More than making ends meet, work is physically and mentally energizing for many people. Work is a social environment, with birthday celebrations and coffee klatches, friends and acquaintances, people to swap gossip and stories with, neighbors to commiserate with over divorce and to congratulate on pregnancy. It's likely that you'll want to move on to a different employer or paid activity when you're older. But that doesn't mean you won't want to work. 'For most people work is a community,' says Meir Statman, finance professor at Santa Clara University.

For workers burning the midnight oil in a tough economy, this may all seems like the social equivalent of happy talk. They're bone tired from working. Health problems are wearing them down. And, as the astute social commentator H.L. Mencken noted back in 1922, occupation matters:

If he got no reward whatever, the artist would go on working just the same; his actual reward, in fact, is often so little that he almost starves. But suppose a garment worker got nothing for his labor: Would he go on working just the same? Can one imagine his submitting voluntarily to hardship and sore want that he might express his soul in 200 more pairs of ladies' pants?

The aging of America isn't a tale about the arrival of an economic utopia. The transition to the new world of the older worker will be difficult. But there are many positive fundamental forces at work. The elderly are more vital than before. Americans can afford to grow old. They will grow old gracefully — and on the job.

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As holidays approach, retailers are hopeful and shoppers are wary | View Clip
11/15/2009
Oroville Mercury-Register

Retail sales are in question for this holiday season. Here, these prolific shoppers stroll along Santana Row Nov. 12. (Karen T. Borchers/Mercury News)

Santa's already in the window at La Villa Delicatessen, not far from the swinging salami. Nutcracker soldiers stand sentry down at Fleurish home-furnishings store. And at the doorway to Fleabags down Lincoln Avenue, Binky the Shih Tzu begs shoppers to check out the reindeer chew toys already on the gift store's shelves.

But on the eve of this recession-wracked holiday season, that wagging tail looks more like a big question mark: What if the shoppers don't come?

"My mood isn't that great," Fleabags owner Misty Braz said the other day, surrounded by holiday gifts she ordered in February, before the recession started shuttering Willow Glen's retail corridor. "I see more people walking on the street now, but I'm not hearing people talk much about Christmas. I think most people are on hold."

The holiday season, which can represent as much as 40 percent of annual sales for some retailers, has already been launched by shop owners who hope that by extending the season they can salvage it. Most analysts predict a modest uptick in sales of a few percentage points at best, which isn't saying much after a 2008 holiday season as soft as slush. Sales last Christmas dropped 3.8 percent from 2007, after growing 5 percent the previous year.

Consumer behavior in the coming weeks will reveal a lot about how Americans feel about their financial state going into 2010. Despite signs of economic recovery, unemployment and housing woes have left Americans

credit-wary, budget-obsessed and reluctant to splurge when the recovery still seems so fragile.

"I think this recession is likely to make long-term changes in people's thinking,'' said David Sheets, a 27-year-old computer engineer from Campbell recently rehired by the same company that laid him off a year earlier. "We're starting to step back and ask ourselves, 'Do I really want to put that much on my credit card this Christmas as I used do? Do material things mean as much to me anymore?' "

Nobody's predicting a Christmas crash. Doug Hart, a retail expert at BDO Seidman in San Francisco, cited signs of "positive momentum.'' He said a recent industry survey projected an average 1.4 percent growth in same-store sales over last holiday season.

And PayPal, the online payment site, expects online holiday retail sales to jump 8 percent this year to $44.7 billion.

Toy-industry consultant and author Richard Gottlieb thinks sales may be brisk enough to create shortages because retailers have cut back on their orders.

Gottlieb and others say the use of layaway by Toys R Us and Sears should entice buyers who may be reluctant — or unable — to tap into credit cards anymore. Toy sellers have been blessed with Zhu Zhu Pets Hamsters, a robotic rock star that analysts predict will soon start flying off the shelves as it has in Australia.

As Gottlieb put it, "people may not be more confident this year, but they'll spend with more confidence."

Merel Heggelund, a jeweler in Willow Glen where the business district has lost several businesses this year, sees cautious optimism in his customers' embrace of layaway. "I look at that as an indication of how we'll do over the holidays," he said. "I think that putting things away now on layaway means they're willing to loosen their pocketbooks over Christmas."

Retailers are doing whatever they can to help open those purse strings, no matter how modest the tactic. At the Best Buy at Santana Row, for example, operations manager Dallas Carter said the return policy has been extended five days, until Jan. 31, as a way to ease anxious buyers' concerns about buying gifts they may have to take back if their financial fortunes turn south over the holidays.

Luis Mendoza, whose family has owned San Jose Men's Wear in East San Jose for 30 years, says most of his customers are working-class and have been particularly hard hit by layoffs. Consequently, he thinks they'll wait until close to the holidays to start shopping.

"People will wait until the last minute because they want to see what kinds of discounts they can get and how their job security will be,'' he said. "They don't want to buy stuff now and then lose their job."

Some of those hit hard by the recession won't be doing much shopping at all. Jim Huether, 58, a Watsonville software engineer who's been struggling to find full-time work for several years, said, "I'm not buying anything this year, except for maybe a few cards for my family and very best friends and maybe $25 gift certificates for each of my nephews."

Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst with NPD Group, says shoppers' aversion to running up credit card debt belies another trend that might actually help retailers. "We've seen an increase in the savings rate since the recession started,'' he said. "So while a lot of folks won't have the credit available they had last year, they won't stop shopping — they'll dip into savings."

And, he said, they'll stretch whatever they have as far as they can. "It's all about the deal," Cohen said, "and finding a way to get the biggest bang for your buck."

What shoppers buy this year will say a lot about the Great Recession's legacy. Because for many Americans, the downturn has changed their worldview like no other economic event in a generation.

"The kinds of things I'll buy this year won't be 'thing-oriented,' " said product-development consultant Mike Alvarado, 52, a San Jose father of two grown daughters. "I'm looking for gifts that people can get some real use or value out of over time, because this recession has made us all value the relationships in our lives more than we used to."

So this year, Alvarado said, it'll be more framed photos, movie tickets, charitable donations in someone's name, even certificates for pedicures and haircuts.

"A lot of people are girding for a couple more tough years," he said. "So no more frivolous purchases. Everything I give this year has to have some meaning."

Contact Patrick May at 408-920-5689.

Hot or not?

Kirthi Kalyanam, a professor of marketing at Santa Clara University"s Retail Management Institute, offers

these predictions:

Consumer electronics

For the most part, video game equipment won"t do well. There is no new must-have device.

High-end apparel

Retailers have cut back on inventory. People won"t be buying luxury labels.

Home furnishings

People aren"t ready to make those big-ticket purchases. Low-end furniture, no problem.

Toys

Consumers will get some great deals on the popular items.

Books

Consumers will benefit from price competition online among Walmart, Amazon and Target.

Return to Top



DNA results raise questions about 1985 Monterey killing | View Clip
11/15/2009
San Jose Mercury News - Online

Profiles don't match man convicted in Monterey case

Herald Salinas Bureau

Scientists have identified four DNA profiles from evidence in the 1985 slaying of Paula Ann Durocher of Monterey, and none of them belongs to the man who has spent more than 20 years in prison for her murder.

All the profiles are of different men, and two came from vaginal swabs and scrapings from beneath Durocher's fingernails, according to Rhonda Donato, supervising attorney for the Northern California Innocence Project. The group plans to seek a new trial for Jack Edward Sagin, 62, who is serving a life sentence.

Sagin said the evidence proves his innocence.

"Like the polygraph I took in 1986, I pass and the DA's informants failed," Sagin wrote in a letter to The Herald. "This shows again I'm innocent of this crazy murder."

Assistant District Attorney Berkley Brannon agreed that the test results are "suspicious," but said they fall far short of proving Sagin's innocence.

Brannon said there are a number of plausible explanations for how another man's DNA was found in and on Durocher. He said Sagin's prosecutor, the late William McCardle, indicated in court documents there was evidence two people may have been involved in the killing.

"I certainly would say we take (the results) seriously and we're going to work the case," Brannon said. "It's not a question of wondering if Mr. Sagin did this, but determining all the circumstances in the matter."

Donato has requested that prosecutors submit the DNA profiles to state and federal DNA databases in an

effort to find matches among known profiles. Brannon said the state Department of Justice has informed him it will not upload DNA profiles developed by private laboratories and will have to retest the evidence itself.

Brian Wraxall, executive director of Serological Research Institute, which conducted the tests, said the department's position is nonsense and a waste of time and resources.

Numerous Southern California law enforcement agencies outsource their forensic testing to Serological, he said, and their results are routinely run by those agencies through Department of Justice crime labs.

Jury convicts

Durocher's daughter found her dead in her Dela Vina Avenue apartment on July 15, 1985. According to autopsy findings, the 40-year-old woman was smothered to the point of blacking out, then stabbed in the back of the head, the neck and three times in the heart.

McCardle said in 1989 there was evidence one person held Durocher down and smothered her to mask her screams while the other stabbed her.

The forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy said there was no evidence of a sexual assault and police concluded she was killed during a burglary, though nothing but the murder weapon was taken from her apartment.

Sagin was a junkie with a $400-a-day heroin habit and a history of criminal convictions dating back to the 1960s. Most of his convictions were for burglary, though he was convicted in 1980 of voluntary manslaughter in a Santa Clara County case that was originally charged as murder.

He was arrested and jailed five months after Durocher's murder when he tried to stab Seaside police officers who were attempting to detain him for a parole violation. It was during that stay in the Monterey County Jail that Sagin allegedly told two inmates he killed Durocher.

The informants, who were in the jail at different times and did not know each other, told police that Sagin said he and Durocher's ex-boyfriend went to burglarize the apartment that morning. Durocher, who was supposed to be gone, surprised them and took a swing at Sagin, who then stabbed her.

A jury convicted Sagin of murder during the commission of a burglary after little more than four hours of deliberations, and he was sentenced to life without possibility of parole.

Rape-murder

Based at Santa Clara University Law School, the Northern California Innocence Project agreed to look at Sagin's conviction because it was based largely on testimony by jail informants. The group is part of the national organization of lawyers and law students that has exonerated more than 225 wrongfully convicted people, most through DNA testing.

Fifteen percent of those cases involved jailhouse informants. As a result, prosecutors' offices across the country, including the Monterey County District Attorney's Office, have established tough policies regarding the use of such witnesses.

In January, Judge Terrance Duncan granted the project's request to run evidence from the Durocher case through DNA testing, which was not available in the 1980s. Serological, an accredited lab, identified DNA from semen and the fingernail scrapings as well as from a marijuana roach and hair found on a cushion.

"I think under the fingernails is pretty suspicious," Donato said. "It's male DNA under her fingernails. That and the rape kit ... I think it probably means (Sagin) is not the perpetrator."

While the local expert concluded Durocher was not sexually assaulted, Donato submitted declarations from a criminalist and another pathologist concluding the slaying was a rape-murder.

"What we want to do is to run the profiles through the FBI's national system to see if we can find out whose profile it is," she said. "The DA says there could have been two perpetrators, but you'd think you'd want to know."

Jailhouse informants

Brannon agreed and said his office will send evidence to the Department of Justice for testing so results can be compared to profiles in the national database.

"Now that we have the DNA, we want to take a look. I don't think we'd run all four (profiles). I don't think there's anything to be gained from the joint and the hair," which could have been left at the scene at any time. "The ones of interest are the (vaginal) swab ... and fingernail scrapings."

Even the DNA from the semen, which also was found on Durocher's robe, proves nothing, Brannon said, because Durocher had sex with her boyfriend the night before the murder.

In this case, Brannon said, there's much more than DNA to convict Sagin. The jailhouse informants knew details of the crime that only the killer could have told them: the number of stab wounds to Durocher's heart; the fact that a 7-inch knife was used in the slaying; the name of the ex-boyfriend who'd previously taken him to Durocher's apartment.

Police purposely withheld details of the murder, including Durocher's wounds, from the public.

The informants also said Sagin told them Durocher was not supposed to be home that day. In fact, the victim had planned to attend motorcycle races with her boyfriend but stayed home suffering with arthritis pain.

"The information he gave the informants was almost in the nature of fingerprints," Brannon said.

Return to Top



DNA results raise questions about 1985 Monterey killing | View Clip
11/15/2009
InsideBayArea.com

Profiles don't match man convicted in Monterey case

Herald Salinas Bureau

Scientists have identified four DNA profiles from evidence in the 1985 slaying of Paula Ann Durocher of Monterey, and none of them belongs to the man who has spent more than 20 years in prison for her murder.

All the profiles are of different men, and two came from vaginal swabs and scrapings from beneath Durocher's fingernails, according to Rhonda Donato, supervising attorney for the Northern California Innocence Project. The group plans to seek a new trial for Jack Edward Sagin, 62, who is serving a life sentence.

Sagin said the evidence proves his innocence.

"Like the polygraph I took in 1986, I pass and the DA's informants failed," Sagin wrote in a letter to The Herald. "This shows again I'm innocent of this crazy murder."

Assistant District Attorney Berkley Brannon agreed that the test results are "suspicious," but said they fall far short of proving Sagin's innocence.

Brannon said there are a number of plausible explanations for how another man's DNA was found in and on Durocher. He said Sagin's prosecutor, the late William McCardle, indicated in court documents there was evidence two people may have been involved in the killing.

"I certainly would say we take (the results) seriously and we're going to work the case," Brannon said. "It's not a question of wondering if Mr. Sagin did this, but determining all the circumstances in the matter."

Donato has requested that prosecutors submit the DNA profiles to state and federal DNA databases in an

effort to find matches among known profiles. Brannon said the state Department of Justice has informed him it will not upload DNA profiles developed by private laboratories and will have to retest the evidence itself.

Brian Wraxall, executive director of Serological Research Institute, which conducted the tests, said the department's position is nonsense and a waste of time and resources.

Numerous Southern California law enforcement agencies outsource their forensic testing to Serological, he said, and their results are routinely run by those agencies through Department of Justice crime labs.

Jury convicts

Durocher's daughter found her dead in her Dela Vina Avenue apartment on July 15, 1985. According to autopsy findings, the 40-year-old woman was smothered to the point of blacking out, then stabbed in the back of the head, the neck and three times in the heart.

McCardle said in 1989 there was evidence one person held Durocher down and smothered her to mask her screams while the other stabbed her.

The forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy said there was no evidence of a sexual assault and police concluded she was killed during a burglary, though nothing but the murder weapon was taken from her apartment.

Sagin was a junkie with a $400-a-day heroin habit and a history of criminal convictions dating back to the 1960s. Most of his convictions were for burglary, though he was convicted in 1980 of voluntary manslaughter in a Santa Clara County case that was originally charged as murder.

He was arrested and jailed five months after Durocher's murder when he tried to stab Seaside police officers who were attempting to detain him for a parole violation. It was during that stay in the Monterey County Jail that Sagin allegedly told two inmates he killed Durocher.

The informants, who were in the jail at different times and did not know each other, told police that Sagin said he and Durocher's ex-boyfriend went to burglarize the apartment that morning. Durocher, who was supposed to be gone, surprised them and took a swing at Sagin, who then stabbed her.

A jury convicted Sagin of murder during the commission of a burglary after little more than four hours of deliberations, and he was sentenced to life without possibility of parole.

Rape-murder

Based at Santa Clara University Law School, the Northern California Innocence Project agreed to look at Sagin's conviction because it was based largely on testimony by jail informants. The group is part of the national organization of lawyers and law students that has exonerated more than 225 wrongfully convicted people, most through DNA testing.

Fifteen percent of those cases involved jailhouse informants. As a result, prosecutors' offices across the country, including the Monterey County District Attorney's Office, have established tough policies regarding the use of such witnesses.

In January, Judge Terrance Duncan granted the project's request to run evidence from the Durocher case through DNA testing, which was not available in the 1980s. Serological, an accredited lab, identified DNA from semen and the fingernail scrapings as well as from a marijuana roach and hair found on a cushion.

"I think under the fingernails is pretty suspicious," Donato said. "It's male DNA under her fingernails. That and the rape kit ... I think it probably means (Sagin) is not the perpetrator."

While the local expert concluded Durocher was not sexually assaulted, Donato submitted declarations from a criminalist and another pathologist concluding the slaying was a rape-murder.

"What we want to do is to run the profiles through the FBI's national system to see if we can find out whose profile it is," she said. "The DA says there could have been two perpetrators, but you'd think you'd want to know."

Jailhouse informants

Brannon agreed and said his office will send evidence to the Department of Justice for testing so results can be compared to profiles in the national database.

"Now that we have the DNA, we want to take a look. I don't think we'd run all four (profiles). I don't think there's anything to be gained from the joint and the hair," which could have been left at the scene at any time. "The ones of interest are the (vaginal) swab ... and fingernail scrapings."

Even the DNA from the semen, which also was found on Durocher's robe, proves nothing, Brannon said, because Durocher had sex with her boyfriend the night before the murder.

In this case, Brannon said, there's much more than DNA to convict Sagin. The jailhouse informants knew details of the crime that only the killer could have told them: the number of stab wounds to Durocher's heart; the fact that a 7-inch knife was used in the slaying; the name of the ex-boyfriend who'd previously taken him to Durocher's apartment.

Police purposely withheld details of the murder, including Durocher's wounds, from the public.

The informants also said Sagin told them Durocher was not supposed to be home that day. In fact, the victim had planned to attend motorcycle races with her boyfriend but stayed home suffering with arthritis pain.

"The information he gave the informants was almost in the nature of fingerprints," Brannon said.

Return to Top



As holidays approach, retailers are hopeful and shoppers are wary | View Clip
11/14/2009
Santa Cruz Sentinel - Online

Santa's already in the window at La Villa Delicatessen, not far from the swinging salami. Nutcracker soldiers stand sentry down at Fleurish home-furnishings store. And at the doorway to Fleabags down Lincoln Avenue, Binky the Shih Tzu begs shoppers to check out the reindeer chew toys already on the gift store's shelves.

But on the eve of this recession-wracked holiday season, that wagging tail looks more like a big question mark: What if the shoppers don't come?

"My mood isn't that great," Fleabags owner Misty Braz said the other day, surrounded by holiday gifts she ordered in February, before the recession started shuttering Willow Glen's retail corridor. "I see more people walking on the street now, but I'm not hearing people talk much about Christmas. I think most people are on hold."

The holiday season, which can represent as much as 40 percent of annual sales for some retailers, has already been launched by shop owners who hope that by extending the season they can salvage it. Most analysts predict a modest uptick in sales of a few percentage points at best, which isn't saying much after a 2008 holiday season as soft as slush. Sales last Christmas dropped 3.8 percent from 2007, after growing 5 percent the previous year.

Consumer behavior in the coming weeks will reveal a lot about how Americans feel about their financial state going into 2010. Despite signs of economic recovery, unemployment and housing woes have left Americans

credit-wary, budget-obsessed and reluctant to splurge when the recovery still seems so fragile.

"I think this recession is likely to make long-term changes in people's thinking,'' said David Sheets, a 27-year-old computer engineer from Campbell recently rehired by the same company that laid him off a year earlier. "We're starting to step back and ask ourselves, 'Do I really want to put that much on my credit card this Christmas as I used do? Do material things mean as much to me anymore?' "

Nobody's predicting a Christmas crash. Doug Hart, a retail expert at BDO Seidman in San Francisco, cited signs of "positive momentum.'' He said a recent industry survey projected an average 1.4-percent growth in same-store sales over last holiday season.

And PayPal, the online payment site, expects online holiday retail sales to jump 8 percent this year to $44.7 billion.

Toy-industry consultant and author Richard Gottlieb thinks sales may be brisk enough to create shortages because retailers have cut back on their orders.

Gottlieb and others say the use of layaway by Toys R Us and Sears should entice buyers who may be reluctant — or unable — to tap into credit cards anymore. Toy sellers have been blessed with Zhu Zhu Pets Hamsters, a robotic rock star that analysts predict will soon start flying off the shelves as it has in Australia.

As Gottlieb put it, "people may not be more confident this year, but they'll spend with more confidence."

Merel Heggelund, a jeweler in Willow Glen where the business district has lost several businesses this year, sees cautious optimism in his customers' embrace of layaway. "I look at that as an indication of how we'll do over the holidays," he said. "I think that putting things away now on layaway means they're willing to loosen their pocketbooks over Christmas."

Retailers are doing whatever they can to help open those purse strings, no matter how modest the tactic. At the Best Buy at Santana Row, for example, operations manager Dallas Carter said the return policy has been extended five days, until Jan. 31, as a way to ease anxious buyers' concerns about buying gifts they may have to take back if their financial fortunes turn south over the holidays.

Luis Mendoza, whose family has owned San Jose Men's Wear in East San Jose for 30 years, says most of his customers are working-class and have been particularly hard hit by layoffs. Consequently, he thinks they'll wait until close to the holidays to start shopping.

"People will wait until the last minute because they want to see what kinds of discounts they can get and how their job security will be,'' he said. "They don't want to buy stuff now and then lose their job."

Some of those hit hard by the recession won't be doing much shopping at all. Jim Huether, 58, a Watsonville software engineer who's been struggling to find full-time work for several years, said, "I'm not buying anything this year, except for maybe a few cards for my family and very best friends and maybe $25 gift certificates for each of my nephews."

Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst with NPD Group, says shoppers' aversion to running up credit card debt belies another trend that might actually help retailers. "We've seen an increase in the savings rate since the recession started,'' he said. "So while a lot of folks won't have the credit available they had last year, they won't stop shopping — they'll dip into savings."

And, he said, they'll stretch whatever they have as far as they can. "It's all about the deal," Cohen said, "and finding a way to get the biggest bang for your buck."

What shoppers buy this year will say a lot about the Great Recession's legacy. Because for many Americans, the downturn has changed their worldview like no other economic event in a generation.

"The kinds of things I'll buy this year won't be 'thing-oriented,' " said product-development consultant Mike Alvarado, 52, a San Jose father of two grown daughters. "I'm looking for gifts that people can get some real use or value out of over time, because this recession has made us all value the relationships in our lives more than we used to."

So this year, Alvarado said, it'll be more framed photos, movie tickets, charitable donations in someone's name, even certificates for pedicures and haircuts.

"A lot of people are girding for a couple more tough years," he said. "So no more frivolous purchases. Everything I give this year has to have some meaning."

Contact Patrick May at 408-920-5689.

Hot or not?

Kirthi Kalyanam, a professor of marketing at Santa Clara University"s Retail Management Institute, offers

these predictions:

Consumer electronics

For the most part, video game equipment won"t do well. There is no new, must-have device.

High-end apparel

Retailers have cut back on inventory. People won"t be buying luxury labels.

Home furnishings

People aren"t ready to make those big-ticket purchases. Low-end furniture, no problem.

Toys

Consumers will get some great deals on the popular items.

Books

Consumers will benefit from price competition online between Walmart, Amazon and Target.

Return to Top



As holidays approach, retailers are hopeful and shoppers are wary | View Clip
11/14/2009
San Jose Mercury News - Online

Santa's already in the window at La Villa Delicatessen, not far from the swinging salami. Nutcracker soldiers stand sentry down at Fleurish home-furnishings store. And at the doorway to Fleabags down Lincoln Avenue, Binky the Shih Tzu begs shoppers to check out the reindeer chew toys already on the gift store's shelves.

But on the eve of this recession-wracked holiday season, that wagging tail looks more like a big question mark: What if the shoppers don't come?

"My mood isn't that great," Fleabags owner Misty Braz said the other day, surrounded by holiday gifts she ordered in February, before the recession started shuttering Willow Glen's retail corridor. "I see more people walking on the street now, but I'm not hearing people talk much about Christmas. I think most people are on hold."

The holiday season, which can represent as much as 40 percent of annual sales for some retailers, has already been launched by shop owners who hope that by extending the season they can salvage it. Most analysts predict a modest uptick in sales of a few percentage points at best, which isn't saying much after a 2008 holiday season as soft as slush. Sales last Christmas dropped 3.8 percent from 2007, after growing 5 percent the previous year.

Consumer behavior in the coming weeks will reveal a lot about how Americans feel about their financial state going into 2010. Despite signs of economic recovery, unemployment and housing woes have left Americans

credit-wary, budget-obsessed and reluctant to splurge when the recovery still seems so fragile.

"I think this recession is likely to make long-term changes in people's thinking,'' said David Sheets, a 27-year-old computer engineer from Campbell recently rehired by the same company that laid him off a year earlier. "We're starting to step back and ask ourselves, 'Do I really want to put that much on my credit card this Christmas as I used do? Do material things mean as much to me anymore?' "

Nobody's predicting a Christmas crash. Doug Hart, a retail expert at BDO Seidman in San Francisco, cited signs of "positive momentum.'' He said a recent industry survey projected an average 1.4-percent growth in same-store sales over last holiday season.

And PayPal, the online payment site, expects online holiday retail sales to jump 8 percent this year to $44.7 billion.

Toy-industry consultant and author Richard Gottlieb thinks sales may be brisk enough to create shortages because retailers have cut back on their orders.

Gottlieb and others say the use of layaway by Toys R Us and Sears should entice buyers who may be reluctant — or unable — to tap into credit cards anymore. Toy sellers have been blessed with Zhu Zhu Pets Hamsters, a robotic rock star that analysts predict will soon start flying off the shelves as it has in Australia.

As Gottlieb put it, "people may not be more confident this year, but they'll spend with more confidence."

Merel Heggelund, a jeweler in Willow Glen where the business district has lost several businesses this year, sees cautious optimism in his customers' embrace of layaway. "I look at that as an indication of how we'll do over the holidays," he said. "I think that putting things away now on layaway means they're willing to loosen their pocketbooks over Christmas."

Retailers are doing whatever they can to help open those purse strings, no matter how modest the tactic. At the Best Buy at Santana Row, for example, operations manager Dallas Carter said the return policy has been extended five days, until Jan. 31, as a way to ease anxious buyers' concerns about buying gifts they may have to take back if their financial fortunes turn south over the holidays.

Luis Mendoza, whose family has owned San Jose Men's Wear in East San Jose for 30 years, says most of his customers are working-class and have been particularly hard hit by layoffs. Consequently, he thinks they'll wait until close to the holidays to start shopping.

"People will wait until the last minute because they want to see what kinds of discounts they can get and how their job security will be,'' he said. "They don't want to buy stuff now and then lose their job."

Some of those hit hard by the recession won't be doing much shopping at all. Jim Huether, 58, a Watsonville software engineer who's been struggling to find full-time work for several years, said, "I'm not buying anything this year, except for maybe a few cards for my family and very best friends and maybe $25 gift certificates for each of my nephews."

Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst with NPD Group, says shoppers' aversion to running up credit card debt belies another trend that might actually help retailers. "We've seen an increase in the savings rate since the recession started,'' he said. "So while a lot of folks won't have the credit available they had last year, they won't stop shopping — they'll dip into savings."

And, he said, they'll stretch whatever they have as far as they can. "It's all about the deal," Cohen said, "and finding a way to get the biggest bang for your buck."

What shoppers buy this year will say a lot about the Great Recession's legacy. Because for many Americans, the downturn has changed their worldview like no other economic event in a generation.

"The kinds of things I'll buy this year won't be 'thing-oriented,' " said product-development consultant Mike Alvarado, 52, a San Jose father of two grown daughters. "I'm looking for gifts that people can get some real use or value out of over time, because this recession has made us all value the relationships in our lives more than we used to."

So this year, Alvarado said, it'll be more framed photos, movie tickets, charitable donations in someone's name, even certificates for pedicures and haircuts.

"A lot of people are girding for a couple more tough years," he said. "So no more frivolous purchases. Everything I give this year has to have some meaning."

Contact Patrick May at 408-920-5689.

Hot or not?

Kirthi Kalyanam, a professor of marketing at Santa Clara University"s Retail Management Institute, offers

these predictions:

Consumer electronics

For the most part, video game equipment won"t do well. There is no new, must-have device.

High-end apparel

Retailers have cut back on inventory. People won"t be buying luxury labels.

Home furnishings

People aren"t ready to make those big-ticket purchases. Low-end furniture, no problem.

Toys

Consumers will get some great deals on the popular items.

Consumers will benefit from price competition online between Walmart, Amazon and Target.

Return to Top



Land Beyond | View Clip
11/13/2009
North Bay Bohemian

The transcendent landscapes of Santa Cruz newcomer and nationally recognized artist Richard Mayhew

WIND carries a fog of red dust over a path in a large meadow, smudging the soft green of the grassy horizon; late-day shadows of violet and crimson glisten under shallow waters; a solitary tree is immolated in sunset light. The paintings of Richard Mayhew are not plein-air portraits of places in nature, but a summoning of its mystery. Electric, haunting, they've been called transcendental landscapes, and Mayhew for decades has been recognized as one of the greatest living landscape painters.

"I paint more from the inside out," he tells me in an interview at the Museum of Art and History, where his works are on display through Nov. 22 in an exhibit titled "After the Rain." "Sensitivity to nature while living the experience of the painting. I have no intention, no plan."

Mayhew does not sketch or photograph scenery. His paintings could just as well spring from a theme from classical music and a curious pattern on the concrete floor. "Shapes and patterns create the illusion of time, space," he says. "Optic phenomenon predicts how the mind engages with what the light shows. Reds advance; cool colors recede: there's much to play with in that mesmerizing illusion, along with mood, life experience and a deep feeling for nature and mystery."

His Elkhorn Slough brings the viewer into the painting from a foreground of emergent crimson and violet, melding into a quieter center where vivid ponds of light-reflecting blue float out of a voluminous field of mossy green edged with cadmium. Above, the eye is drawn deep into a periwinkle haze disappearing into foggy blue. The contrast of softness and reflectivity, the watery haze, the life-filled quietness of the place feel like Elkhorn Slough, yet there is no place like this.

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Though admirers often insist they recognize the places he paints, the oil-on-canvas "improvisations" are located only within the painter's mind. Inspired by jazz and the color theories of the Fauves and the impressionists, the energy of abstract expressionism and the reverence for nature of the Hudson River School, each Mayhew painting is unmistakably his own and abstract in its origins. Somewhat ironically, he is considered one of the most prominent "landscape" artists working today.

"After the Rain" is one of three concurrent Bay Area exhibitions that serve as a retrospective: at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco, at the de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University and at MAH, his most recent work.

"All the honors are very humbling. From painting, my art form, my selfish indulgent joy, I have had to ask what contribution I make."

Born in 1924 in Amityville on Long Island, Mayhew grew up with a deep sensitivity to nature. "My mother's family is Cherokee and African American, father was Shinnecock and African American," he explains. In those days, Native American culture was "so ostracized and oppressed" that Mayhew found it easier to identify with his African American heritage, "an accepted identity." Only later did he fully embrace his Native American heritage.

He knew as a boy he would be an artist. At 23 he worked as portrait painter and medical illustrator in New York, studying in museums by day, singing in jazz clubs by night. He sings a few bars of a ballad in a voice still resonant and tuneful. "As a singer, you're a puppet; as painter you have complete control ... you get the applause later or never at all."

New York in the 1950s was a hotbed of abstract expressionism; Mayhew stayed on the fringes. In 1958 he received a fellowship to the MacDowell Colony, followed by fellowships to study in Italy and later throughout Europe. He returned in 1962 to a United States embroiled in the civil rights struggle, and in 1963 co-founded with Romare Bearden the Spiral group of prominent African American artists who wanted to contribute to civil rights.

Increasingly recognized, exhibited and collected, Mayhew began to teach, first at the Brooklyn Museum, then the Art Students League and then in the 1970s at San Jose State, Sonoma State, Hayward and UC-Santa Cruz. He created an interdisciplinary program at Penn State, teaching the creative process itself. He involved engineers and scientists as well as dancers, musicians and visual artists. He smiles at the thought of musicians playing a geodesic dome as if it were a horn, much to the amusement of Buckminster Fuller. Such encouragement of creative thinking affected students of many disciplines.

From 1976 to 1978 he worked to establish the Center for Experimental Arts and Sciences as an international center for innovative and creative thinking at Fort Baker in the Marin Headlands. The effort failed but no doubt helped clear a way for later development of the Headlands Art Center.

Even now, at 85, Mayhew is always creating. "Nature changes moods, constantly refreshes itself. The light moves every 20 minutes, a different cycle." He cups his hand into a tight arrow pointing toward his face, then opens it away from himself, fingers spreading into a flat fan, "in the morning a leaf is like this, then all day it works its way toward that. The story's all there--nature's cycle of growth and development." It emanates from his paintings.

RICHARD MAYHEW: AFTER THE RAIN continues through Nov. 22 at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, 705 Front St., Santa Cruz. This Friday, Nov. 13, at 7pm, professor Bridget R. Cooks talks about Mayhew's work at MAH. Call for reservation: 831.428.1964.

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Intel to pay chip rival Advanced Micro Devices $1.25B in antitrust settlement | View Clip
11/13/2009
InsideBayArea.com

Good Morning Silicon Valley

Declaring an end to a deep-seated feud that has rocked the computer industry for years, rival chipmakers Intel and Advanced Micro Devices announced Thursday that Intel will pay AMD $1.25 billion to settle a series of antitrust and patent disputes.

The settlement is one of the largest in the history of antitrust law, according to analysts, who said it could eventually provide consumers and businesses more choices when they buy personal computers.

Santa Clara-based Intel, which had $38 billion in sales last year, controls 80 percent of the market for the microprocessors that power most computers. It continued Thursday to reject allegations that it wrongfully used financial pressure to bully computer makers into

More Intel coverage

avoiding competing products from AMD, which has fought for the remaining 20 percent.

But as part of the settlement, Intel agreed to a series of business practices aimed at restricting its use of price subsidies and discounts. Sunnyvale-based AMD, in turn, agreed to drop a 2005 lawsuit that was scheduled for trial in April and a series of regulatory complaints that has already led European authorities to impose a record $1.5 billion fine against Intel.

The agreement does not end Intel's legal troubles, however. In addition to the European fine, which Intel is appealing, the company also faces a separate lawsuit by New York state authorities making similar allegations, and a pending investigation by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

Representatives of those agencies said their actions will continue, although legal experts said the settlement announced Thursday could help Intel resolve its differences with regulatory officials.

Still, the two companies clearly indicated they viewed the settlement as a major breakthrough: AMD, which has struggled financially for years, has characterized Intel's practices as a threat to its viability. For Intel, the dispute had peeled back the covers on some hardball dealings with such

Have Your Say!

major computer makers as Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Dell.

"Intel has removed a very big hatchet that was hanging over its head," added investment analyst Doug Freedman of Broadpoint.AmTech, referring to the potential for a much larger damage award if the case went to trial. "What AMD has gained is the hope that the industry feels more able to choose."

In announcing the settlement, AMD Chief Executive Dirk Meyer told analysts and reporters, "Today marks the beginning of a new era, one that confirms the game has changed for AMD."

For his part, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said, "We have not wavered in our conviction that Intel has operated within the bounds of the law."

He added: "We continue to believe that our discounts are lawful and in the best interest of consumers and the marketplace, although we understand that others have a different perspective."

Otellini said the company decided to resolve the dispute, without admitting wrongdoing, after concluding that it wasn't worth the risk of facing an unpredictable jury that, under antitrust law, could potentially award damages far higher than the cost of the settlement.

As part of the settlement, which Otellini said the companies began negotiating in April, both parties agreed to a 13-page document that says Intel won't offer price discounts or other financial incentives that require customers to limit their purchases from AMD.

"They can't use inducements in order to force exclusive dealing, or delay customers from using our products," said Tom McCoy, AMD executive vice president. He said Intel also cannot withhold financial rebates or other benefits from customers that use AMD processors.

Intel executives denied that ever occurred. "We don't do that. We understand that they believe we do," said Andy Bryant, an Intel executive vice president, who said the agreement won't lead Intel to change any of its current practices.

"It makes sense for us to stipulate that we won't do things that we both agree are wrong," added Otellini. "We won't do those things, we haven't done those things and therefore there's no difference going forward."

One section of the agreement, however, recounts AMD's allegations that certain rebates and volume discount offers for the purchase of Intel products are illegal abuses of Intel's dominant position in the market — for example, allegedly offering products at less than cost. The agreement itself does not restrict those offers; instead, the document says Intel will not challenge government regulators who might seek to prohibit those practices.

Intel executives said the two companies did not try to resolve those issues because any agreement could be construed as illegal collusion between two companies on pricing. Instead, the settlement allows AMD to raise those issues with regulators, Otellini said, "and we're more than happy to talk with regulators about those."

But legal experts said Intel's agreement on that point was a major concession.

"Normally a defendant would challenge every element of a case," said Catherine Sandoval, an antitrust expert and law professor at Santa Clara University. "So an agreement not to challenge such a prohibition is significant."

Industry analysts said Intel's share of the worldwide semiconductor market is so huge that the settlement is unlikely to affect its market position in the near future. Some suggested the deal could lead to a slight increase in prices in the short term if Intel is forced to cut back on subsidies, but most said the effect would be negligible.

Still, the agreement could provide relief for computer makers, also known as original equipment manufacturers or OEMs, that use the processors made by Intel, AMD and other chip manufacturers.

New York and European regulators have publicly released e-mails from executives at HP and other companies in which those executives expressed fear that Intel would cut off their subsidies if they did business with AMD. Intel has said the e-mails were taken out of context or reflected an inaccurate belief by those executives.

"You could argue that Intel was or was not a giant stomping around, threatening to injure somebody. But it's palpable that the OEMs were afraid. That you can detect from the e-mails," said analyst Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies.

By eliminating that fear, the settlement will give computer makers a greater sense of freedom to consider using chips from AMD or other sources, added analyst John Spooner of Technology Business Research. That in turn could lead to customers finding a greater variety of computer models on the market.

Analysts said the $1.25 billion cash payment will not hurt Intel, which has about $12 billion in cash and short-term investments, but could help struggling AMD retire some of its sizable debt.

But the settlement may not be the end of the fierce rivalry between the two companies.

"I don't think it's anything like a real peace," Kay said, "but I think it's a detente that they can operate with."

Contact Brandon Bailey at 408-920-5022.

Status of

other cases

Nov. 12: The Federal Trade Commission, which subpoenaed Intel in June 2008, says it plans to review the settlement between Intel and AMD. The FTC says its investigation of Intel continues.

Nov. 4: New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo files an antitrust lawsuit accusing Intel of using kickbacks, threats and retaliation to dominate the worldwide semiconductor market.

July 22: Intel appeals $1.45 billion fine from European regulators, who say the company engaged in illegal rebates and other tactics to limit computer chip sales by AMD.

June 2008: The Korea Fair Trade Commission fines Intel $25 million for violating fair trade laws. Intel is seeking to overturn that decision.

March 2005: Japan"s Fair Trade Commission finds Intel violated antitrust regulations. Intel denies the claim but agrees to change its business practices.

Intel

CEO/President: Paul Otellini

No. of employees: 80,800

Market cap: $108.73 billion

CEO/President: Dirk Meyer

No. of employees: 14,700

Market cap: $4.34 billion

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More settlements from Intel likely
11/13/2009
San Francisco Chronicle

Now that the Advanced Micro Devices case is settled, Intel Corp. is going to move as expeditiously as it can to clean the slate of all the other antitrust cases that have dogged it for years.

"Everyone's judgment is that Intel is tired of litigating and wants to put it all behind them," said Chuck Diamond, O'Melveny & Myers LLP's lead attorney representing AMD. But Intel's going to have to shell out considerably more than the $1.25 billion it's paying its Silicon Valley rival to go away.

"This is just a down payment," said Catherine Sandoval, a professor of antitrust law at Santa Clara University Law School. "I would not be surprised to see that number at least double, if not go significantly higher."

Asked if he expected Intel to be looking to more settlements - the Santa Clara company faces federal and state actions, a $1.45 billion fine it is appealing from the European Union, and "80-plus class-action suits" - Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said, "There are no plans to do that at this point. I wouldn't argue with you, but it would be speculative."

Mulloy did say Intel is in discussions with the Federal Trade Commission, which is rumored to be "close" to filing a complaint against Intel. "We'll be talking to them in very near future about the AMD agreement."

Mulloy was less sanguine about the consumer-oriented suit recently filed by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. "We would like to have talked to him before he filed. We think he's wrong and we're prepared to fight him."

Diamond said he felt "bittersweet" over the settlement, even though it marked a victory for his client, a financially "fine arrangement for his firm - which involved "dozens and dozens of troops," including technology law specialists in O'Melveny's San Francisco office.

"I'm a trial lawyer, not a settlement lawyer," said Diamond, who operates out of O'Melveny's L.A. office. "I wanted to try the case, because I knew I could win it."

Intel may well disagree, but perhaps decided that $1.25 billion was a small price to pay to retain its market dominance, which no one I talked to believed this, and future settlements, would materially alter.

Nevertheless, said Sandoval, "This is an important signal for Intel and other companies about the type of competition they're supposed to be engaged in.

"And, besides, a few billion here, a few billion there and you're still talking some serious money."

Straw in the wind? More than 1,300 small businesses changed hands in California last month. That's a significant increase over previous months, suggesting "solid growth" in the market, according to BizBen.com, which compiles detailed numbers and listings of small-business sales in the Bay Area and the state.

True, a number went at "asset sale" prices, but Peter Siegel, CEO of the Dublin-based Web site, says the increase reflects a "general" economic uptick as well as the financial markets easing a bit for small business acquisitions. "General has most definitely increased."

According to BizBen.com, 61 small businesses were sold in San Francisco in October, compared to the 42 per-month average in the summer. Similar increases were recorded in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Sonoma counties.

Interested? Approximately 7,500 small businesses are currently on the block in California, 200 of them in San Francisco.

Loud and clear: Hopefully, President Obama's "jobs summit" means that he's finally getting the message. As in San Francisco Federal Reserve Board president Janet Yellen's warning Tuesday that U.S. unemployment "could well stay high for several years to come."

Or, the "significant probability, according to a member of his Economic Recovery Advisory Board, UC Berkeley Haas School of Business Professor Laura D'Andrea Tyson, that "the country will slip back into recession next year."

Presumably, administration officials will be getting a more direct earful on these matters today, when the director of the White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers, along with assorted federal officials, meet with New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. workers and local leaders to discuss how to help "communities hardest hit" by the planned shutdown of the Fremont auto plant.

Among those hardest hit: Nummi's 4,700 employees, its 1,000 suppliers throughout the Bay Area and California, and the estimated 18,000 to 20,000 people who work for these suppliers.

Should be an interesting meeting. Begins at 1 p.m., Ohlone College Center for Health Sciences and Technology, 39399 Cherry St., Newark.

Copyright © 2009 San Francisco Chronicle

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The Case Against Retirement | View Clip
11/13/2009
MSN Money (US)

Ah, retirement! Before the 1950s it was something only the wealthy could afford to do. Everyone else needed an income, and most folks struggled to get by in the industrial economy as their faculties deteriorated. Back in the days before 401[k)s -- let alone Social Security -- older people faced the kind of pressures portrayed by filmmaker D.W. Griffith in his melodramatic 1911 silent film What Shall We Do With Our Old? It's a sad tale of the setbacks endured by an elderly couple, the wife ailing, the husband tossed off the assembly line to make way for a younger worker.

Griffith was one of many social activists calling for a social insurance system to provide an income for the elderly. The social reformist dream became reality with the 1935 Social Security Act, the spread of the corporate defined benefit pension plan, and Medicare in 1965. For most workers the last stage of life became a time of leisure, recreation, and enjoyment.

The Age of Retirement was one of America's most successful social reforms ever. But that era is over. A new vision of old age is emerging from the trauma of the credit crunch and the Great Recession: Forget retirement. Keep working.

Surveys show that a majority of baby boomers say they want to work during their golden years. They're going to get their wish. The key question is no longer "How early can I retire?" It's "Why retire?"

Of course, like all tectonic social and economic shifts, the trend isn't new. It has been building for the past three decades with the move away from traditional pensions with their involuntary contributions and steady payout for 401[k)-type plans with their voluntary contributions and uncertain returns. We're also living longer. That's good news, but it does mean that to maintain their standard of living the elderly have to either earn a paycheck longer or save more -- a lot more.

For workers nearing their retirement years, the median balance on 401[k)s and IRAs combined was a mere $78,000 in 2007. And the stock market reached its all-time peak that year! But the Great Recession has devastated portfolios since then, a stark reminder to millions of near-retirees that they haven't saved enough to fund a good retirement. Indeed, taking into account both the decline in financial assets and housing, the National Retirement Risk Index as of mid-2009 signals that 51% of households are at risk at age 65 of not having enough retirement income to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living. That's up from 44% in 2007 and 43% in 2004, according to the index' creator, the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

When You're Sixty-Four

Those are hardly heartening percentages, and the situation seems even worse when the U.S. unemployment rate is at 10.2%, according to the Labor Dept.'s October survey. The jobless rate for workers 55 and older is around 7%.

But a look at longer-term trends is encouraging. An aging workforce is living longer and is less disabled than previous generations. After all, average life expectancy in 1935 when Social Security became law was 61 years. It's now 78. A tweak might have to be made to the famous Beatles song When I'm Sixty-Four:

When I get older losing my hair,

Many years from now,

Will you still be sending me a valentine,

Birthday greetings, bottle of wine...

If I'm at work till quarter to ten

Would you lock the door?

[It should be noted that the man who sings the lead vocal on the original tune, Sir Paul McCartney, continues to enjoy a productive career three years beyond his 64th birthday.)

Older workers probably won't be "digging the weeds," to mine the Beatles vein one last time. An economy dominated by services, information industries, and knowledge businesses is far easier to labor in than one where the commanding heights are full of factories, mines, and farms. The prospect of longer employment suggests more people will choose to alternate the rhythm of their lives, sometimes working intensely and at others exploring other opportunities.

Nevertheless, it's a social and economic revolution. Take those surveys that show a majority of boomers expect to earn a paycheck in retirement. Only about a third in the past actually worked for pay following retirement.

Yet companies are far from eager to fill their ranks with an aging workforce. The same energy and marketing savvy that created the postwar retirement of mass tourism and leisure will need to be expended on building satisfying careers and job opportunities for a highly experienced but graying and less robust workforce.

That said, the pressure to accommodate older workers will be there, much as the demand for old age insurance was growing around the time D.W. Griffith made his movie. The reason is that the financial impact of working even a few years longer on the average older worker is dramatic. A paycheck has a greater effect on living standards than increasing retirement contributions from 15% of paycheck to 25%, for example. Your savings continue to compound, and your Social Security benefit grows. The same dynamic holds with working part-time. "You don't have to pay for expenses out of savings," says Christine Fahlund, a senior financial planner at T. Rowe Price (TROW). "You meet them with your paycheck."

Work Longer, Stay Healthier

Take this illustration from the number-crunchers at T. Rowe Price. A worker earns $100,000 a year. He has a portfolio worth $500,000. His asset allocation is 40% stocks, 40% bonds, and 20% cash. Instead of retiring, he continues to work and socks away 15% of his income for three more years. At age 65 he would have boosted his total retirement benefit package by 28%. If he went to age 70 his retirement finances would almost double in value, rising 90%. Of course, he doesn't have to work full-time to get a return from waiting. An income of $20,000 from part-time work is the equivalent of withdrawing 4% a year from a $500,000 portfolio.

It's also underappreciated that laboring for a paycheck may actually make aging workers healthier. More than making ends meet, work is physically and mentally energizing for many people. Work is a social environment, with birthday celebrations and coffee klatches, friends and acquaintances, people to swap gossip and stories with, neighbors to commiserate with over divorce and to congratulate on pregnancy. It's likely that you'll want to move on to a different employer or paid activity when you're older. But that doesn't mean you won't want to work. "For most people work is a community," says Meir Statman, finance professor at Santa Clara University.

For workers burning the midnight oil in a tough economy, this may all seems like the social equivalent of happy talk. They're bone tired from working. Health problems are wearing them down. And, as the astute social commentator H.L. Mencken noted back in 1922, occupation matters:

If he got no reward whatever, the artist would go on working just the same; his actual reward, in fact, is often so little that he almost starves. But suppose a garment worker got nothing for his labor: Would he go on working just the same? Can one imagine his submitting voluntarily to hardship and sore want that he might express his soul in 200 more pairs of ladies' pants?

The aging of America isn't a tale about the arrival of an economic utopia. The transition to the new world of the older worker will be difficult. But there are many positive fundamental forces at work. The elderly are more vital than before. Americans can afford to grow old. They will grow old gracefully -- and on the job.

© 2009 The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. All rights reserved.

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Viruses Frame PC Owners for Child Porn | View Clip
11/13/2009
Edgemiami.com

Heinous pictures and videos can be deposited on computers by viruses - the malicious programs better known for swiping your credit card numbers. In this twist, it's your reputation that's stolen.

Pedophiles can exploit virus-infected PCs to remotely store and view their stash without fear they'll get caught. Pranksters or someone trying to frame you can tap viruses to make it appear that you surf illegal Web sites.

Whatever the motivation, you get child porn on your computer - and might not realize it until police knock at your door.

An Associated Press investigation found cases in which innocent people have been branded as pedophiles after their co-workers or loved ones stumbled upon child porn placed on a PC through a virus. It can cost victims hundreds of thousands of dollars to prove their innocence.

Their situations are complicated by the fact that actual pedophiles often blame viruses - a defense rightfully viewed with skepticism by law enforcement.

"It's an example of the old `dog ate my homework' excuse," says Phil Malone, director of the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. "The problem is, sometimes the dog does eat your homework."

The AP's investigation included interviewing people who had been found with child porn on their computers. The AP reviewed court records and spoke to prosecutors, police and computer examiners.

One case involved Michael Fiola, a former investigator with the Massachusetts agency that oversees workers' compensation.

In 2007, Fiola's bosses became suspicious after the Internet bill for his state-issued laptop showed that he used 4½ times more data than his colleagues. A technician found child porn in the PC folder that stores images viewed online.

Fiola was fired and charged with possession of child pornography, which carries up to five years in prison. He endured death threats, his car tires were slashed and he was shunned by friends.

Fiola and his wife fought the case, spending $250,000 on legal fees. They liquidated their savings, took a second mortgage and sold their car.

An inspection for his defense revealed the laptop was severely infected. It was programmed to visit as many as 40 child porn sites per minute - an inhuman feat. While Fiola and his wife were out to dinner one night, someone logged on to the computer and porn flowed in for an hour and a half.

Prosecutors performed another test and confirmed the defense findings. The charge was dropped - 11 months after it was filed.

The Fiolas say they have health problems from the stress of the case. They say they've talked to dozens of lawyers but can't get one to sue the state, because of a cap on the amount they can recover.

"It ruined my life, my wife's life and my family's life," he says.

The Massachusetts attorney general's office, which charged Fiola, declined interview requests.

At any moment, about 20 million of the estimated 1 billion Internet-connected PCs worldwide are infected with viruses that could give hackers full control, according to security software maker F-Secure Corp. Computers often get infected when people open e-mail attachments from unknown sources or visit a malicious Web page.

Pedophiles can tap viruses in several ways. The simplest is to force someone else's computer to surf child porn sites, collecting images along the way. Or a computer can be made into a warehouse for pictures and videos that can be viewed remotely when the PC is online.

"They're kind of like locusts that descend on a cornfield: They eat up everything in sight and they move on to the next cornfield," says Eric Goldman, academic director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University. Goldman has represented Web companies that discovered child pornographers were abusing their legitimate services.

But pedophiles need not be involved: Child porn can land on a computer in a sick prank or an attempt to frame the PC's owner.

In the first publicly known cases of individuals being victimized, two men in the United Kingdom were cleared in 2003 after viruses were shown to have been responsible for the child porn on their PCs.

In one case, an infected e-mail or pop-up ad poisoned a defense contractor's PC and downloaded the offensive pictures.

In the other, a virus changed the home page on a man's Web browser to display child porn, a discovery made by his 7-year-old daughter. The man spent more than a week in jail and three months in a halfway house, and lost custody of his daughter.

Chris Watts, a computer examiner in Britain, says he helped clear a hotel manager whose co-workers found child porn on the PC they shared with him.

Watts found that while surfing the Internet for ways to play computer games without paying for them, the manager had visited a site for pirated software. It redirected visitors to child porn sites if they were inactive for a certain period.

In all these cases, the central evidence wasn't in dispute: Pornography was on a computer. But proving how it got there was difficult.

Tami Loehrs, who inspected Fiola's computer, recalls a case in Arizona in which a computer was so "extensively infected" that it would be "virtually impossible" to prove what an indictment alleged: that a 16-year-old who used the PC had uploaded child pornography to a Yahoo group.

Prosecutors dropped the charge and let the boy plead guilty to a separate crime that kept him out of jail, though they say they did it only because of his age and lack of a criminal record.

Many prosecutors say blaming a computer virus for child porn is a new version of an old ploy.

"We call it the SODDI defense: Some Other Dude Did It," says James Anderson, a federal prosecutor in Wyoming.

However, forensic examiners say it would be hard for a pedophile to get away with his crime by using a bogus virus defense.

"I personally would feel more comfortable investing my retirement in the lottery before trying to defend myself with that," says forensics specialist Jeff Fischbach.

Even careful child porn collectors tend to leave incriminating e-mails, DVDs or other clues. Virus defenses are no match for such evidence, says Damon King, trial attorney for the U.S. Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.

But while the virus defense does not appear to be letting real pedophiles out of trouble, there have been cases in which forensic examiners insist that legitimate claims did not get completely aired.

Loehrs points to Ned Solon of Casper, Wyo., who is serving six years for child porn found in a folder used by a file-sharing program on his computer.

Solon admits he used the program to download video games and adult porn - but not child porn. So what could explain that material?

Loehrs testified that Solon's antivirus software wasn't working properly and appeared to have shut off for long stretches, a sign of an infection. She found no evidence the five child porn videos on Solon's computer had been viewed or downloaded fully. The porn was in a folder the file-sharing program labeled as "incomplete" because the downloads were canceled or generated an error.

This defense was curtailed, however, when Loehrs ended her investigation in a dispute with the judge over her fees. Computer exams can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Defendants can ask the courts to pay, but sometimes judges balk at the price. Although Loehrs stopped working for Solon, she argues he is innocent.

"I don't think it was him, I really don't," Loehrs says. "There was too much evidence that it wasn't him."

The prosecution's forensics expert, Randy Huff, maintains that Solon's antivirus software was working properly. And he says he ran other antivirus programs on the computer and didn't find an infection - although security experts say antivirus scans frequently miss things.

"He actually had a very clean computer compared to some of the other cases I do," Huff says.

The jury took two hours to convict Solon.

"Everybody feels they're innocent in prison. Nobody believes me because that's what everybody says," says Solon, whose case is being appealed. "All I know is I did not do it. I never put the stuff on there. I never saw the stuff on there. I can only hope that someday the truth will come out."

But can it? It can be impossible to tell with certainty how a file got onto a PC.

"Computers are not to be trusted," says Jeremiah Grossman, founder of WhiteHat Security Inc. He describes it as "painfully simple" to get a computer to download something the owner doesn't want - whether it's a program that displays ads or one that stores illegal pictures.

It's possible, Grossman says, that more illicit material is waiting to be discovered.

"Just because it's there doesn't mean the person intended for it to be there - whatever it is, child porn included."

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

"Viruses Frame PC Owners for Child Porn"

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Intel to pay chip rival Advanced Micro Devices $1.25B in antitrust settlement | View Clip
11/13/2009
Los Angeles Daily News - Online

Good Morning Silicon Valley

Intel and AMD — are the lion and the lamb next?

Declaring an end to a deep-seated feud that has rocked the computer industry for years, rival chipmakers Intel and Advanced Micro Devices announced Thursday that Intel will pay AMD $1.25 billion to settle a series of antitrust and patent disputes.

The settlement is one of the largest in the history of antitrust law, according to analysts, who said it could eventually provide consumers and businesses more choices when they buy personal computers.

Santa Clara-based Intel, which had $38 billion in sales last year, controls 80 percent of the market for the microprocessors that power most computers. It continued Thursday to reject allegations that it wrongfully used financial pressure to bully computer makers into

More Intel coverage

Latest news

Market update: INTC

SEC filings

Company profile

avoiding competing products from AMD, which has fought for the remaining 20 percent.

But as part of the settlement, Intel agreed to a series of business practices aimed at restricting its use of price subsidies and discounts. Sunnyvale-based AMD, in turn, agreed to drop a 2005 lawsuit that was scheduled for trial in April and a series of regulatory complaints that has already led European authorities to impose a record $1.5 billion fine against Intel.

The agreement does not end Intel's legal troubles, however. In addition to the European fine, which Intel is appealing, the company also faces a separate lawsuit by New York state authorities making similar allegations, and a pending investigation by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

Representatives of those agencies said their actions will continue, although legal experts said the settlement announced Thursday could help Intel resolve its differences with regulatory officials.

Still, the two companies clearly indicated they viewed the settlement as a major breakthrough: AMD, which has struggled financially for years, has characterized Intel's practices as a threat to its viability. For Intel, the dispute had peeled back the covers on some hardball dealings with such

Have Your Say!

Who gains the most from the settlement? Vote and comment.

major computer makers as Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Dell.

"Intel has removed a very big hatchet that was hanging over its head," added investment analyst Doug Freedman of Broadpoint.AmTech, referring to the potential for a much larger damage award if the case went to trial. "What AMD has gained is the hope that the industry feels more able to choose."

In announcing the settlement, AMD Chief Executive Dirk Meyer told analysts and reporters, "Today marks the beginning of a new era, one that confirms the game has changed for AMD."

For his part, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said, "We have not wavered in our conviction that Intel has operated within the bounds of the law."

He added: "We continue to believe that our discounts are lawful and in the best interest of consumers and the marketplace, although we understand that others have a different perspective."

Otellini said the company decided to resolve the dispute, without admitting wrongdoing, after concluding that it wasn't worth the risk of facing an unpredictable jury that, under antitrust law, could potentially award damages far higher than the cost of the settlement.

As part of the settlement, which Otellini said the companies began negotiating in April, both parties agreed to a 13-page document that says Intel won't offer price discounts or other financial incentives that require customers to limit their purchases from AMD.

"They can't use inducements in order to force exclusive dealing, or delay customers from using our products," said Tom McCoy, AMD executive vice president. He said Intel also cannot withhold financial rebates or other benefits from customers that use AMD processors.

Intel executives denied that ever occurred. "We don't do that. We understand that they believe we do," said Andy Bryant, an Intel executive vice president, who said the agreement won't lead Intel to change any of its current practices.

"It makes sense for us to stipulate that we won't do things that we both agree are wrong," added Otellini. "We won't do those things, we haven't done those things and therefore there's no difference going forward."

One section of the agreement, however, recounts AMD's allegations that certain rebates and volume discount offers for the purchase of Intel products are illegal abuses of Intel's dominant position in the market — for example, allegedly offering products at less than cost. The agreement itself does not restrict those offers; instead, the document says Intel will not challenge government regulators who might seek to prohibit those practices.

Intel executives said the two companies did not try to resolve those issues because any agreement could be construed as illegal collusion between two companies on pricing. Instead, the settlement allows AMD to raise those issues with regulators, Otellini said, "and we're more than happy to talk with regulators about those."

But legal experts said Intel's agreement on that point was a major concession.

"Normally a defendant would challenge every element of a case," said Catherine Sandoval, an antitrust expert and law professor at Santa Clara University. "So an agreement not to challenge such a prohibition is significant."

Industry analysts said Intel's share of the worldwide semiconductor market is so huge that the settlement is unlikely to affect its market position in the near future. Some suggested the deal could lead to a slight increase in prices in the short term if Intel is forced to cut back on subsidies, but most said the effect would be negligible.

Still, the agreement could provide relief for computer makers, also known as original equipment manufacturers or OEMs, that use the processors made by Intel, AMD and other chip manufacturers.

New York and European regulators have publicly released e-mails from executives at HP and other companies in which those executives expressed fear that Intel would cut off their subsidies if they did business with AMD. Intel has said the e-mails were taken out of context or reflected an inaccurate belief by those executives.

"You could argue that Intel was or was not a giant stomping around, threatening to injure somebody. But it's palpable that the OEMs were afraid. That you can detect from the e-mails," said analyst Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies.

By eliminating that fear, the settlement will give computer makers a greater sense of freedom to consider using chips from AMD or other sources, added analyst John Spooner of Technology Business Research. That in turn could lead to customers finding a greater variety of computer models on the market.

Analysts said the $1.25 billion cash payment will not hurt Intel, which has about $12 billion in cash and short-term investments, but could help struggling AMD retire some of its sizable debt.

But the settlement may not be the end of the fierce rivalry between the two companies.

"I don't think it's anything like a real peace," Kay said, "but I think it's a detente that they can operate with."

Contact Brandon Bailey at 408-920-5022.

Status of

other cases

Nov. 12: The Federal Trade Commission, which subpoenaed Intel in June 2008, says it plans to review the settlement between Intel and AMD. The FTC says its investigation of Intel continues.

Nov. 4: New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo files an antitrust lawsuit accusing Intel of using kickbacks, threats and retaliation to dominate the worldwide semiconductor market.

July 22: Intel appeals $1.45 billion fine from European regulators, who say the company engaged in illegal rebates and other tactics to limit computer chip sales by AMD.

June 2008: The Korea Fair Trade Commission fines Intel $25 million for violating fair trade laws. Intel is seeking to overturn that decision.

March 2005: Japan"s Fair Trade Commission finds Intel violated antitrust regulations. Intel denies the claim but agrees to change its business practices.

Intel

CEO/President: Paul Otellini

No. of employees: 80,800

Market cap: $108.73 billion

AMD

CEO/President: Dirk Meyer

No. of employees: 14,700

Market cap: $4.34 billion

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Predicting the Environmental Effects of Transgenic Bt Crop Lines | View Clip
11/13/2009
Iowa Ag Connection

Potential risks from new transgenic Bt crop lines can be assessed using carefully controlled laboratory tests, according to findings of a study by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and cooperators. This finding will help streamline the assessment process for introducing new insect control technology to the marketplace, while ensuring environmental safety.

Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) is a biological control bacterium that is effective against a number of key insect crop pests. Crops that contain Bt genes have a built-in defense against these insects, but such crops need to be studied to make sure they don't pose a risk to non-target organisms.

To test whether the impact of these transgenic crops in the field was predictable from laboratory experiments, scientists from ARS collaborated with researchers at Santa Clara University in California to compare all current laboratory and field studies on non-target effects using meta-analyses. Findings of the ARS study suggest that researchers should be able to more accurately predict from laboratory studies the impact that new experimental lines may have in the field.

Entomologists Jian Duan, Jonathan Lundgren and Steven Naranjo led the study. Duan works at the ARS Beneficial Insects Introduction Research Unit in Newark, Del. Lundgren is based at the ARS North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory in Brookings, S.D. Naranjo is the research leader of the ARS Pest Management and Biological Control Research Unit in Maricopa, Ariz.

The study was initiated to test the underlying assumption of biotechnology risk assessment-that laboratory tests can accurately identify potential risks of transgenic insecticidal Bt crops in the field.. The new ARS study demonstrated that carefully controlled laboratory tests can accurately detect toxicological risks that might emerge in the field, thereby reducing the need for more expensive and time-consuming tests.

The study, completed earlier this year, was published in the journal Biology Letters. ARS is the primary intramural scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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INSIDE INTEL, AMD'S $1.25 BILLION TRUCE
11/13/2009
San Jose Mercury News

Declaring an end to a deep-seated feud that has rocked the computer industry for years, rival chipmakers Intel and Advanced Micro Devices announced Thursday that Intel will pay AMD $1.25 billion to settle a series of antitrust and patent disputes.

VALLEY TECH GIANT GETS RID OF A PESKY ANTITRUST SUIT, AS RIVAL HOPES TO LEVEL PLAYING FIELD. SANTA CLARA CHIPMAKER CONTINUES TO DENY BULLYING PC MAKERS LIKE HP, DELL.

The settlement is one of the largest in the history of antitrust law, according to analysts, who said it could eventually provide consumers and businesses more choices when they buy personal computers.

Santa Clara-based Intel, which had $38 billion in sales last year, controls 80 percent of the market for the microprocessors that power most computers. It continued Thursday to reject allegations that it wrongfully used financial pressure to bully computer makers into avoiding competing products from AMD, which has fought for the remaining 20 percent.

But as part of the settlement, Intel agreed to a series of business practices aimed at restricting its use of price subsidies and discounts. Sunnyvale-based AMD, in turn, agreed to drop a 2005 lawsuit that was scheduled for trial in April and a series of regulatory complaints that has already led European authorities to impose a record $1.5 billion fine against Intel.

The agreement does not end Intel's legal troubles, however. In addition to the European fine, which Intel is appealing, the company also faces a separate lawsuit by New York state authorities making similar allegations, and a pending investigation by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Representatives of those agencies said their actions will continue, although legal experts said the settlement announced Thursday could help Intel resolve its differences with regulatory officials.

Still, the two companies clearly indicated they viewed the settlement as a major breakthrough: AMD, which has struggled financially for years, has characterized Intel's practices as a threat to its viability. For Intel, the dispute had peeled back the covers on some hardball dealings with such major computer makers as Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Dell.

"Intel has removed a very big hatchet that was hanging over its head," added investment analyst Doug Freedman of Broadpoint.AmTech, referring to the potential for a much larger damage award if the case went to trial. "What AMD has gained is the hope that the industry feels more able to choose."

In announcing the settlement, AMD Chief Executive Dirk Meyer told analysts and reporters, "Today marks the beginning of a new era, one that confirms the game has changed for AMD."

For his part, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said, "We have not wavered in our conviction that Intel has operated within the bounds of the law."

He added: "We continue to believe that our discounts are lawful and in the best interest of consumers and the marketplace, although we understand that others have a different perspective."

Otellini said the company decided to resolve the dispute, without admitting wrongdoing, after concluding that it wasn't worth the risk of facing an unpredictable jury that, under antitrust law, could potentially award damages far higher than the cost of the settlement.

As part of the settlement, which Otellini said the companies began negotiating in April, both parties agreed to a 13-page document that says Intel won't offer price discounts or other financial incentives that require customers to limit their purchases from AMD.

"They can't use inducements in order to force exclusive dealing, or delay customers from using our products," said Tom McCoy, AMD executive vice president. He said Intel also cannot withhold financial rebates or other benefits from customers that use AMD processors.

Intel executives denied that ever occurred. "We don't do that. We understand that they believe we do," said Andy Bryant, an Intel executive vice president, who said the agreement won't lead Intel to change any of its current practices.

"It makes sense for us to stipulate that we won't do things that we both agree are wrong," added Otellini. "We won't do those things, we haven't done those things and therefore there's no difference going forward."

One section of the agreement, however, recounts AMD's allegations that certain rebates and volume discount offers for the purchase of Intel products are illegal abuses of Intel's dominant position in the market -- for example, allegedly offering products at less than cost. The agreement itself does not restrict those offers; instead, the document says Intel will not challenge government regulators who might seek to prohibit those practices.

Intel executives said the two companies did not try to resolve those issues because any agreement could be construed as illegal collusion between two companies on pricing. Instead, the settlement allows AMD to raise those issues with regulators, Otellini said, "and we're more than happy to talk with regulators about those."

But legal experts said Intel's agreement on that point was a major concession.

"Normally a defendant would challenge every element of a case," said Catherine Sandoval, an antitrust expert and law professor at Santa Clara University. "So an agreement not to challenge such a prohibition is significant."

Industry analysts said Intel's share of the worldwide semiconductor market is so huge that the settlement is unlikely to affect its market position in the near future. Some suggested the deal could lead to a slight increase in prices in the short term if Intel is forced to cut back on subsidies, but most said the effect would be negligible.

Still, the agreement could provide relief for computer makers, also known as original equipment manufacturers or OEMs, that use the processors made by Intel, AMD and other chip manufacturers.

New York and European regulators have publicly released e-mails from executives at HP and other companies in which those executives expressed fear that Intel would cut off their subsidies if they did business with AMD. Intel has said the e-mails were taken out of context or reflected an inaccurate belief by those executives.

"You could argue that Intel was or was not a giant stomping around, threatening to injure somebody. But it's palpable that the OEMs were afraid. That you can detect from the e-mails," said analyst Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies.

By eliminating that fear, the settlement will give computer makers a greater sense of freedom to consider using chips from AMD or other sources, added analyst John Spooner of Technology Business Research. That in turn could lead to customers finding a greater variety of computer models on the market.

Analysts said the $1.25 billion cash payment will not hurt Intel, which has about $12 billion in cash and short-term investments, but could help struggling AMD retire some of its sizable debt.

But the settlement may not be the end of the fierce rivalry between the two companies.

"I don't think it's anything like a real peace," Kay said, "but I think it's a detente that they can operate with."

Contact Brandon Bailey at 408-920-5022.

Copyright © 2009 San Jose Mercury News

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Intel to pay chip rival Advanced Micro Devices $1.25B in antitrust settlement | View Clip
11/13/2009
Oroville Mercury-Register

Good Morning Silicon Valley

Declaring an end to a deep-seated feud that has rocked the computer industry for years, rival chipmakers Intel and Advanced Micro Devices announced Thursday that Intel will pay AMD $1.25 billion to settle a series of antitrust and patent disputes.

The settlement is one of the largest in the history of antitrust law, according to analysts, who said it could eventually provide consumers and businesses more choices when they buy personal computers.

Santa Clara-based Intel, which had $38 billion in sales last year, controls 80 percent of the market for the microprocessors that power most computers. It continued Thursday to reject allegations that it wrongfully used financial pressure to bully computer makers into

More Intel coverage

avoiding competing products from AMD, which has fought for the remaining 20 percent.

But as part of the settlement, Intel agreed to a series of business practices aimed at restricting its use of price subsidies and discounts. Sunnyvale-based AMD, in turn, agreed to drop a 2005 lawsuit that was scheduled for trial in April and a series of regulatory complaints that has already led European authorities to impose a record $1.5 billion fine against Intel.

The agreement does not end Intel's legal troubles, however. In addition to the European fine, which Intel is appealing, the company also faces a separate lawsuit by New York state authorities making similar allegations, and a pending investigation by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

Representatives of those agencies said their actions will continue, although legal experts said the settlement announced Thursday could help Intel resolve its differences with regulatory officials.

Still, the two companies clearly indicated they viewed the settlement as a major breakthrough: AMD, which has struggled financially for years, has characterized Intel's practices as a threat to its viability. For Intel, the dispute had peeled back the covers on some hardball dealings with such

Have Your Say!

major computer makers as Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Dell.

"Intel has removed a very big hatchet that was hanging over its head," added investment analyst Doug Freedman of Broadpoint.AmTech, referring to the potential for a much larger damage award if the case went to trial. "What AMD has gained is the hope that the industry feels more able to choose."

In announcing the settlement, AMD Chief Executive Dirk Meyer told analysts and reporters, "Today marks the beginning of a new era, one that confirms the game has changed for AMD."

For his part, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said, "We have not wavered in our conviction that Intel has operated within the bounds of the law."

He added: "We continue to believe that our discounts are lawful and in the best interest of consumers and the marketplace, although we understand that others have a different perspective."

Otellini said the company decided to resolve the dispute, without admitting wrongdoing, after concluding that it wasn't worth the risk of facing an unpredictable jury that, under antitrust law, could potentially award damages far higher than the cost of the settlement.

As part of the settlement, which Otellini said the companies began negotiating in April, both parties agreed to a 13-page document that says Intel won't offer price discounts or other financial incentives that require customers to limit their purchases from AMD.

"They can't use inducements in order to force exclusive dealing, or delay customers from using our products," said Tom McCoy, AMD executive vice president. He said Intel also cannot withhold financial rebates or other benefits from customers that use AMD processors.

Intel executives denied that ever occurred. "We don't do that. We understand that they believe we do," said Andy Bryant, an Intel executive vice president, who said the agreement won't lead Intel to change any of its current practices.

"It makes sense for us to stipulate that we won't do things that we both agree are wrong," added Otellini. "We won't do those things, we haven't done those things and therefore there's no difference going forward."

One section of the agreement, however, recounts AMD's allegations that certain rebates and volume discount offers for the purchase of Intel products are illegal abuses of Intel's dominant position in the market — for example, allegedly offering products at less than cost. The agreement itself does not restrict those offers; instead, the document says Intel will not challenge government regulators who might seek to prohibit those practices.

Intel executives said the two companies did not try to resolve those issues because any agreement could be construed as illegal collusion between two companies on pricing. Instead, the settlement allows AMD to raise those issues with regulators, Otellini said, "and we're more than happy to talk with regulators about those."

But legal experts said Intel's agreement on that point was a major concession.

"Normally a defendant would challenge every element of a case," said Catherine Sandoval, an antitrust expert and law professor at Santa Clara University. "So an agreement not to challenge such a prohibition is significant."

Industry analysts said Intel's share of the worldwide semiconductor market is so huge that the settlement is unlikely to affect its market position in the near future. Some suggested the deal could lead to a slight increase in prices in the short term if Intel is forced to cut back on subsidies, but most said the effect would be negligible.

Still, the agreement could provide relief for computer makers, also known as original equipment manufacturers or OEMs, that use the processors made by Intel, AMD and other chip manufacturers.

New York and European regulators have publicly released e-mails from executives at HP and other companies in which those executives expressed fear that Intel would cut off their subsidies if they did business with AMD. Intel has said the e-mails were taken out of context or reflected an inaccurate belief by those executives.

"You could argue that Intel was or was not a giant stomping around, threatening to injure somebody. But it's palpable that the OEMs were afraid. That you can detect from the e-mails," said analyst Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies.

By eliminating that fear, the settlement will give computer makers a greater sense of freedom to consider using chips from AMD or other sources, added analyst John Spooner of Technology Business Research. That in turn could lead to customers finding a greater variety of computer models on the market.

Analysts said the $1.25 billion cash payment will not hurt Intel, which has about $12 billion in cash and short-term investments, but could help struggling AMD retire some of its sizable debt.

But the settlement may not be the end of the fierce rivalry between the two companies.

"I don't think it's anything like a real peace," Kay said, "but I think it's a detente that they can operate with."

Contact Brandon Bailey at 408-920-5022.

Status of

other cases

Nov. 12: The Federal Trade Commission, which subpoenaed Intel in June 2008, says it plans to review the settlement between Intel and AMD. The FTC says its investigation of Intel continues.

Nov. 4: New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo files an antitrust lawsuit accusing Intel of using kickbacks, threats and retaliation to dominate the worldwide semiconductor market.

July 22: Intel appeals $1.45 billion fine from European regulators, who say the company engaged in illegal rebates and other tactics to limit computer chip sales by AMD.

June 2008: The Korea Fair Trade Commission fines Intel $25 million for violating fair trade laws. Intel is seeking to overturn that decision.

March 2005: Japan"s Fair Trade Commission finds Intel violated antitrust regulations. Intel denies the claim but agrees to change its business practices.

Intel

CEO/President: Paul Otellini

No. of employees: 80,800

Market cap: $108.73 billion

CEO/President: Dirk Meyer

No. of employees: 14,700

Market cap: $4.34 billion

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Ethics of Space Exploration | View Clip
11/12/2009
Forum - KQED-FM

s it ethical to change the ecosystems of other planets to suit human needs? What about mining precious metals? Or what happens if we contaminate another planet with microbes? These are some of the questions being asked by ethicists, who say the science of space ethics is still in its infancy. We explore the ethics of space exploration.
Guests:

* Connie Bertka, program director at the Deep Carbon Observatory at the Carnegie Institute and editor of "Exploring the Origin, Extent, and Future of Life: Philosophical, Ethical and Theological Perspectives"
* Margaret McLean, director of bioethics in the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University
* Margaret Race, principal investigator at the Carl Sagan Ctr. for the Study of Life in the Universe at the SETI Institute

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Framed for child porn - by a PC virus | View Clip
11/12/2009
Sydney Morning Herald - Online

Of all the sinister things that internet viruses do, this might be the worst: they can make people an unsuspecting collector of child pornography.

Heinous pictures and videos can be deposited on computers by viruses - the malicious programs better known for swiping your credit card numbers. In this twist, it's your reputation that's stolen.

Pedophiles can exploit virus-infected PCs to remotely store and view their stash without fear they'll get caught. Pranksters or someone trying to frame you can tap viruses to make it appear that you surf illegal websites.

Whatever the motivation, you get child porn on your computer - and might not realise it until police knock at your door.

There have been cases in which innocent people have been branded as pedophiles after their co-workers or loved ones stumbled upon child porn placed on a PC through a virus. It can cost victims hundreds of thousands of dollars to prove their innocence.

Their situations are complicated by the fact that actual paedophiles often blame viruses - a defense rightfully viewed with skepticism by law enforcement.

"It's an example of the old 'dog ate my homework' excuse," says Phil Malone, director of the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard's Berkman Centre for Internet & Society. "The problem is, sometimes the dog does eat your homework."

One case involved Michael Fiola, a former investigator with the Massachusetts agency that oversees workers' compensation.

In 2007, Fiola's bosses became suspicious after the internet bill for his state-issued laptop showed that he used four and a half times more data than his colleagues. A technician found child porn in the PC folder that stores images viewed online.

Fiola was fired and charged with possession of child pornography, which carries up to five years in prison. He endured death threats, his car tires were slashed and he was shunned by friends.

Fiola and his wife fought the case, spending $US250,000 ($A268,557) on legal fees. They liquidated their savings, took a second mortgage and sold their car.

An inspection for his defense revealed the laptop was severely infected. It was programed to visit as many as 40 child porn sites per minute - an inhuman feat. While Fiola and his wife were out to dinner one night, someone logged on to the computer and porn flowed in for an hour and a half.

Prosecutors performed another test and confirmed the defense findings. The charge was dropped - 11 months after it was filed.

The Fiolas say they have health problems from the stress of the case. They say they've talked to dozens of lawyers but can't get one to sue the state, because of a cap on the amount they can recover.

"It ruined my life, my wife's life and my family's life," he says.

The Massachusetts attorney general's office, which charged Fiola, declined interview requests.

At any moment, about 20 million of the estimated 1 billion internet-connected PCs worldwide are infected with viruses that could give hackers full control, according to security software maker F-Secure Corp. Computers often get infected when people open email attachments from unknown sources or visit a malicious web page.

Pedophiles can tap viruses in several ways. The simplest is to force someone else's computer to surf child porn sites, collecting images along the way. Or a computer can be made into a warehouse for pictures and videos that can be viewed remotely when the PC is online.

"They're kind of like locusts that descend on a cornfield: they eat up everything in sight and they move on to the next cornfield," says Eric Goldman, academic director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University. Goldman has represented web companies that discovered child pornographers were abusing their legitimate services.

But pedophiles need not be involved: child porn can land on a computer in a prank or an attempt to frame the PC's owner.

In the first publicly known cases of individuals being victimised, two men in the United Kingdom were cleared in 2003 after viruses were shown to have been responsible for the child porn on their PCs.

In one case, an infected email or pop-up ad poisoned a defense contractor's PC and downloaded the offensive pictures.

In the other, a virus changed the home page on a man's web browser to display child porn, a discovery made by his seven-year-old daughter. The man spent more than a week in jail and three months in a halfway house, and lost custody of his daughter.

Chris Watts, a computer examiner in Britain, says he helped clear a hotel manager whose co-workers found child porn on the PC they shared with him.

Watts found that while surfing the internet for ways to play computer games without paying for them, the manager had visited a site for pirated software. It redirected visitors to child porn sites if they were inactive for a certain period.

"Computers are not to be trusted," says Jeremiah Grossman, founder of WhiteHat Security. He describes it as "painfully simple" to get a computer to download something the owner doesn't want - whether it's a program that displays ads or one that stores illegal pictures.

It's possible, Grossman says, that more illicit material is waiting to be discovered.

"Just because it's there doesn't mean the person intended for it to be there - whatever it is, child porn included."

AP

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The Case Against Retirement | View Clip
11/12/2009
BusinessWeek - Online

The prospect of longer employment suggests more people will choose to alternate the rhythm of their lives, sometimes working intensely and at others exploring other opportunities.

Nevertheless, it's a social and economic revolution. Take those surveys that show a majority of boomers expect to earn a paycheck in retirement. Only about a third in the past actually worked for pay following retirement.

Yet companies are far from eager to fill their ranks with an aging workforce. The same energy and marketing savvy that created the postwar retirement of mass tourism and leisure will need to be expended on building satisfying careers and job opportunities for a highly experienced but graying and less robust workforce.

That said, the pressure to accommodate older workers will be there, much as the demand for old age insurance was growing around the time D.W. Griffith made his movie. The reason is that the financial impact of working even a few years longer on the average older worker is dramatic. A paycheck has a greater effect on living standards than increasing retirement contributions from 15% of paycheck to 25%, for example. Your savings continue to compound, and your Social Security benefit grows. The same dynamic holds with working part-time. "You don't have to pay for expenses out of savings," says Christine Fahlund, a senior financial planner at T. Rowe Price (TROW). "You meet them with your paycheck."

Take this illustration from the number-crunchers at T. Rowe Price. A worker earns $100,000 a year. He has a portfolio worth $500,000. His asset allocation is 40% stocks, 40% bonds, and 20% cash. Instead of retiring, he continues to work and socks away 15% of his income for three more years. At age 65 he would have boosted his total retirement benefit package by 28%. If he went to age 70 his retirement finances would almost double in value, rising 90%. Of course, he doesn't have to work full-time to get a return from waiting. An income of $20,000 from part-time work is the equivalent of withdrawing 4% a year from a $500,000 portfolio.

It's also underappreciated that laboring for a paycheck may actually make aging workers healthier. More than making ends meet, work is physically and mentally energizing for many people. Work is a social environment, with birthday celebrations and coffee klatches, friends and acquaintances, people to swap gossip and stories with, neighbors to commiserate with over divorce and to congratulate on pregnancy. It's likely that you'll want to move on to a different employer or paid activity when you're older. But that doesn't mean you won't want to work. "For most people work is a community," says Meir Statman, finance professor at Santa Clara University.

For workers burning the midnight oil in a tough economy, this may all seems like the social equivalent of happy talk. They're bone tired from working. Health problems are wearing them down. And, as the astute social commentator H.L. Mencken noted back in 1922, occupation matters:

If he got no reward whatever, the artist would go on working just the same; his actual reward, in fact, is often so little that he almost starves. But suppose a garment worker got nothing for his labor: Would he go on working just the same? Can one imagine his submitting voluntarily to hardship and sore want that he might express his soul in 200 more pairs of ladies' pants?

The aging of America isn't a tale about the arrival of an economic utopia. The transition to the new world of the older worker will be difficult. But there are many positive fundamental forces at work. The elderly are more vital than before. Americans can afford to grow old. They will grow old gracefully—and on the job.

Farrell is contributing economics editor for BusinessWeek. You can also hear him on American Public Media's nationally syndicated finance program, Marketplace Money, as well as on public radio's business program Marketplace. His Sound Money column appears on BusinessWeek.com.

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Black Friday deals have begun | View Clip
11/12/2009
ABC 7 Morning News at 5 AM - KGO-TV

SAN JOSE, CA (KGO) -- In this sour economy, anxious retailers are trying something new to get you to shop. Black Friday used to be a one day sales event the day after Thanksgiving, but not this year -- the big sales have already started. One store opening on Thursday morning had a long line forming Wednesday night, full of shoppers ready to snag great deals.

The 99 Cent store opens on Thursday at 8 a.m., but people started lining up at 1 p.m. the day before. They want to get some of these deals and start their holiday shopping early.

"They've got scooters for 99 cents for my nephew, or if someone gets out of line, I can get an I pod for my dad," says Hans Helgeson from San Jose, who plans to do his holiday shopping now.

With Thanksgiving and Black Friday still weeks away, consumers are already coming up with a holiday spending plan and retailers are loving it. It's no coincidence the 99 Cent Only store is opening on Thursday in San Jose.

"With the economy being as tight as it is, people want to make their dollar stretch as much as they can and what a great place to shop, to open right before the Christmas season," says Tony Vera, a 99 Cent Only regional manager.

According to the National Retail Federation, last year, the average American spent $705 dollars on holiday gifts; this year, they'll spend $683. That is a three percent drop.

"Consumers have a limited amount of time, they certainly have a limited amount of money, as well for the holiday season so they're going to be pretty selective," says Santa Clara University professor of marketing Dale Achabal, Ph.D.

And that's the reason for the aggressive and early retail promotions, says Achabal. Stores want to capture those holiday dollars as quickly as possible and not be left with too much inventory going into next year.

Target starting tempting customers in October by offering 50 percent off of certain toys. GottaDeal.com claims target will sell some appliances for just $3 on Black Friday -- a tactic, that seems to be working for consumers.

"Just to know things like that makes you want to come here makes you want to shop more," says Joshuah Dillihunt, from San Jose.

"I love sales, I always get stuff on sale," says Ashley Ladd, from San Jose.

There will be three big selling categories this holiday season: toys, books, and electronics.

Today's latest headlines | ABC7 News on your phone

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Opinion Prosecutor misconduct has a high public cost | View Clip
11/12/2009
San Jose Mercury News - Online

For the fourth time in as many years, Santa Clara County residents must cough up hundreds of thousands of their tax dollars due to allegations of prosecutorial misconduct.

Last month, the county authorized paying $750,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by Donna Auguste, whose Colorado home was illegally searched by police six years ago. As the citizens of Santa Clara County feel the sting of the $750,000 settlement, they should realize that this is not an isolated instance. It raises the cost to taxpayers due to prosecutorial misconduct accusations since 2005 to more than $5 million.

Earlier this year, the county forked over $1 million to settle a lawsuit alleging, in part, prosecutorial misconduct brought by Jeffrey Rodriguez, who was wrongfully convicted and released after five years in prison.

Two years ago, the county settled a similar suit brought by Rick Walker, who served 12 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Santa Clara County paid $1.3 million in taxpayer dollars on top of $1.45 million paid by the county's insurance carrier. The state of California paid an additional $409,500 to compensate him for the 12 years he lost.

In 2005, the county paid nearly $1 million to Glen Nickerson, who spent nearly 19 years behind bars before his murder conviction was overturned following evidence of police and prosecutorial misconduct.

Remarkably, not a single prosecutor faced discipline in these prosecutions, with the

exception of Santa Clara County prosecutor Ben Field. Field, who orchestrated the illegal search in the Auguste case and whose multiple prosecutorial misdeeds have been exposed by the Mercury News, has been ordered to surrender his law license for four years.

But the cost of prosecutorial misconduct goes far beyond the dollars removed from taxpayer wallets.

Donna Auguste, for example, spent $900,000 to free her nephew. There is the cost of the hundreds of hours racked up by attorneys in the office of Santa Clara County Counsel who defended the lawsuit. This is time that could have been spent on other matters of importance to the citizenry.

And what price do you put on the more than 40 years that Walker, Nickerson, Rodriguez and Damon Auguste spent behind bars before they were exonerated? The cost of housing them alone is more than $1 million. The personal cost to these men cannot be quantified. Those years are gone.

Perhaps most significant is the immeasurable cost and risk to society of having the real perpetrators still out there.

Prosecutors rarely suffer personal consequences for engaging in misconduct. They have absolute immunity for their official conduct as advocates, and when acting as investigators, they can be held liable for their misconduct only if it violates the law.

A recent study by the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice examined California appellate court rulings and found that during the ten year period ending in 2007, prosecutors committed misconduct in 444 cases, yet only two were disciplined. Thirty of them committed misconduct more than once. Two of them did it three times. Virtually all of these prosecutors walked away unscathed.

In these difficult economic times, taxpayers might well wonder if they can continue to spend this kind of money to support a criminal justice system that allows prosecutors to avoid personal responsibility, innocent defendants to be locked up, and true criminals to go free. But this is not a decision that should be based solely on dollars, no matter what the economy is doing.

Too much is at stake.

KATHLEEN RIDOLFI is executive director of the Northern California Innocence Project at Santa Clara University School of Law. MAURICE POSSLEY, a Pulitzer Prize winning former investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune, is an investigator and researcher with the project. They wrote this article for the Mercury News.

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Agreement on Kelly case before Supreme Court | View Clip
11/11/2009
Willits News

During oral arguments in the pivotal marijuana possession case People vs. Patrick K. Kelly November 3 before the California Supreme Court, both the plaintiff and the defendant agreed the current state law imposing marijuana possession limits was unconstitutional when applied to limiting a patient's right to a compassionate use defense in court. Both sides also asked the court to leave the limits and medical marijuana card program in place to provide protections from arrest for medical marijuana patients. A justice likened the disagreement between the two sides to a "pillow fight."

Deputy Attorney General Michael Johnson immediately conceded for the state that the Compassionate Use Act (Proposition 215) allowed "a quantity reasonably related to the patients medical needs" and the imposition by the legislature of specific numerical limits if applied during trial was a violation of the state constitution. Johnson admitted the Attorney General's interpretation had evolved since the case was first filed.

He then argued that the other elements including the medical marijuana card program in the Health and Safety Statute 11362.77 should remain in place and that the Appellate Court had unnecessarily "tossed the baby out with the bathwater" when it disallowed it entirely. Johnson argued that many of the elements in the statute provided protection from arrest for medical marijuana patients and should not be disturbed.

Professor of Law Gerald F. Uelman, of the Santa Clara

University School of Law, arguing for the defendant seemed surprised to be in such close agreement with the Attorney General's position on every point. The two sides were left with a "minor academic disagreement on what to call the remedy" they both agreed should be made in this case.

Much of the ensuing arguments and questions from the court centered on how the desired outcome could technically be accomplished. The court is expected to rule on the case within 90 days.

Should the court rule as requested by both sides, the numerical limits of eight ounces of dried marijuana, and no more than six mature or 12 immature plants per qualified patient or caregiver would remain in place for Mendocino County law enforcement. It would also not affect the prohibition for growing more than 25 marijuana plants on any county parcel as a public nuisance.

Qualified patients and caregivers would still be allowed to present a compassionate use defense in court to show the quantity in their possession did not exceed a "quantity reasonably related to the patients medical needs."

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Can You Buy Your Way Into a Flu Shot? | View Clip
11/10/2009
SmartMoney - Online

The H1N1 influenza (a.k.a. swine flu) vaccine is in short supply. Is it possible to buy yourself one?

That is the question right now as Americans wrestle with class divides in health care and Senate leaders lock horns over insurance coverage. Already last week, Wall Street was jeered when Goldman Sachs and Citigroup obtained hundreds of doses of the coveted vaccine for their employees, while pregnant women and children (groups considered at high-risk for the disease) around the country were left without.

With average consumers worried there might not be enough vaccine to go around, the unavoidable subtext here was clear: Those with more resources could get better care.

Of course, money almost always makes a difference in getting what you want. But the conditions here are a little different. For one, the government has cornered the H1N1 vaccine supply, so free market rules should (at least in theory) not apply. Another wrinkle: Where the vaccine is available, it's free and most insurers are waiving or reimbursing any co-pay a doctor might charge. With so much focus on government-run health care and the treatment afforded wealthier Americans, we decided to create a test. Putting ourselves in the position of a hypothetical rich person, we set out to see if there were strategies (other than a job at Goldman) that would give an edge to someone with a lot of money.

The success rate among the options was mixed -- but with some surprisingly available avenues. Our first stop was concierge medical services. Figuring that the wealthy use their wealth for access, we checked in with the doctors -- a la cable TV's “Royal Pains” -- who charge high annual fees in exchange for a promise of 24/7 access. Then we searched abroad. What if we had the financial freedom to buy a last-minute airline ticket or even access to private jet -- would a vaccine seeker be able to set off to France or England or Canada? Looking closer to home, we hunted for sale and auction listings online. Lastly, we chose the path most taken by the rich with a staff of minions at their disposal: We hired a team of virtual assistants (at roughly $7 an hour) to scour the phone books in three cities -- New York, Highland Park, Ill., and Tillamook, Ore. -- to locate a doctor who would give us the vaccine.

Our hunt put off the medical experts we contacted, who were disturbed at the idea that vaccines could go to the patients with the biggest wallets, and not those with the most risk. “Right now, when the vaccine supply is so severely limited that places that need 1,000 doses are getting 200, there's a real possibility that someone who skips the line is getting a vaccine that would have gone to someone who truly needed it,” says Dr. Margaret McLean, the director of bioethics and the associate director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University in California.

Others said that paying for a vaccine would also likely be a waste of money. Supply should surge within two weeks, as manufacturers ship enough vaccine for clinics and physicians to welcome all comers, says Hedwig Kresse, a senior analyst of infectious diseases for market researcher Datamonitor, which recently released a report on public apathy's effect on H1N1 vaccination rates. In that time, more supply may free up as people decide they don't want the vaccine. “All the ads have been geared to ‘Get it as soon as possible,'” Kresse says. That was when the government expected to have the bulk of their supply by mid-October. “How many of these people will come back four weeks later? Not many.” An October survey from the Harvard School of Public Health found just 40% of U.S. adults planned to get the vaccine.

If you're set on getting an early vaccination (legitimately or otherwise), these four options may offer some leads:

Craigslist, eBay and other marketplace options

Verdict: Not available -- though worth checking for free leads.

A search for “swine flu” or “H1N1” turns up plenty of listings on eBay (EBAY) and Craigslist, including purported herbal preventatives, filtration masks and a band searching for a drummer to replace one who came down with the disease. The one relevant post: On the Washington, D.C., Craigslist page, the Manassas Clinical Research Center wrote that its offices in Manassas and Burke, Va., have the H1N1 vaccine available for the general public. (A receptionist confirmed that it still has vaccine available.)

What you won't find on either eBay or Craigslist are listings to sell the vaccine itself, or access to it (say, a clinic reservation). Such offerings are prohibited by site policies. “EBay does not allow the listing of any substance that requires a prescription from a licensed medical practitioner or must be administered by a licensed practitioner,” says a spokeswoman for the auction giant. That includes listings that offer access to substances that must be administered by a licensed medical practitioner.

SmartMoney.com would like to invite you to visit our Variable Annuities Custom Resource Center.

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Conscience issue separates Catholic moral camps | View Clip
11/10/2009
National Catholic Reporter

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From the last two national elections to the current controversy over health care reform, the struggle over the Roman Catholic conscience in American politics has been in full public view. Too often in this struggle, however, the concept of the Catholic conscience is ill-defined or offered as a conversation-stopping absolute. Accordingly, a group of scholars gathered last spring at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University in order to clarify the use of the concept in American public discourse. This essay is the result of that gathering. The names of the authors follow the essay.

What the Second Vatican Council left unresolved has remained unresolved to the present day: Conscience within Catholicism is tugged in two interpretive directions. In its earlier, more theological section, the conciliar document Gaudium et spes refers to conscience as “the most secret core and sanctuary of a [person].There he is alone with God, whose voice echoes in his depths.” This formulation points to a personalist view of conscience.

Conscience is not identified with the voice of God, much less with the hierarchical teaching office of the church. Rather, the encounter with the divine basis of moral obligation is mediated through the agency of a person and, hence, through the spirit, reason, affections, and relationships that constitute human agency. This view of conscience is rooted in a “personalist” theology that reaches back to such sources as the medieval scholastic tradition and Thomistic notions of prudence and practical wisdom.

By contrast, in a later passage, Gaudium et spes states that married couples should be “governed according to a conscience dutifully conformed to the divine law itself, and should be submissive toward the Church's teaching office, which authentically interprets that law in light of the Gospel.” This way of portraying conscience prioritizes a view of the person whose moral formation depends less on the workings of personal responsibility and more on conformity to hierarchical definitions. It can be called the “ecclesial conscience” and emerged in tandem with the heightened importance given to the centralized teaching office of the Church in the 18th and 19th centuries.

There is overlap between the personalist and ecclesial views of conscience: Both affirm an objective and divine basis to morality. But the divide between the views can be seen if we consider the three-part structure of conscience manifested in the Catholic theological tradition. First, conscience is an innate, basic awareness of individual moral responsibility. Both views share this characteristic. Second, conscience is a process by which a person educates oneself morally. Here the personalist view in principle is open to a wide range of moral sources, including reflective moral experience; custom and culture; natural law; moral exemplars; the teachings of theologians, pastors, bishops, and popes; and the words of the Gospel. The ecclesial view strongly favors the formative influence of the teaching authority of the hierarchy. Third, conscience is a judgment of what one believes to be moral truth. The personalist view understands this judgment to be an exercise of personal responsibility in light of the mystery of the Word of God. The ecclesial view nominally accepts this transcendent perspective. But this acceptance is in tension with the insistence that moral truth is primarily to be attained by conformity of one's conscience to the definitions put forth by the hierarchical teaching office. However much the Second Vatican Council articulated these two perspectives on conscience, it is the ecclesial view that in the last decades has dominated Catholic discourse in the American public square.

The one who defines the problem sets the terms of the debate and, in the last decades, the Catholic advocates of the ecclesial view have defined the problem of conscience in American society as relativism. The inspiration behind this identification of the problem was the writing of John Paul II, who gave credibility to this view by his frequent reference to the ominous opposition in contemporary democracies between freedom and the moral law. Benedict XVI sounded a similar, dark note when, just before his election, he raised the specter of a societal “dictatorship of relativism” to which the church must respond.

Behind these criticisms is something like the following analysis. The citizens of Western democracies are afflicted with an understanding of conscience that is entirely subjective and private. The subjectivity is established by the inevitably idiosyncratic nature of one's feelings, which become the ultimate court of appeal for one's conscience. This court is a private one. It is neither possible nor desirable to explain through public, commonly accessible reasons the contours of one's personal moral judgment.

Rather, one merely asserts the verdict of conscience. In its reliance on feelings and in its rejection of the possibility of shared reasons, this understanding of conscience rests on the assumption that there is no objective, universal truth. Moreover, the relativist conscience in a democratic society lives off a paradox: To guard its radically individualistic decisions, it insists on the absolute protection of non-negotiable moral and legal rights. But such absolute rights require a foundation in shared reasons that specify what it is in persons that obliges such absolute protection.

Relativism, committed as it is to the impossibility of such shared reasons, cannot provide this foundation. And so a democratic politics rife with relativism often deals with issues like abortion less like a scene of reasoned discourse and more like a battleground of unyielding efforts to assert a right to abortion that, finally, rests on little more than an arbitrary assertion of will. In fact, this ecclesial view of the problem of contemporary conscience in part rings true: One hears this extreme logic in the rhetoric of the most ardent pro-choice activists.

But the definition of the problem of conscience as relativism has several profound – and often overlooked – weaknesses. One weakness is empirical: There are just not that many hard-core relativists running loose in the United States. Scratch beneath the surface of a Nietzsche-enchanted undergraduate and find many a moral realist wanting to emerge. But the more important weaknesses are theoretical and stem from misplaced emphases within the ecclesial model of conscience. These weaknesses can be identified as the problem of law versus practical reason; the problem of the impaired conscience of fellow citizens; and the diminished social nature of the ecclesial conscience.

Against the tides of relativist freedom, the ecclesial conception offers a portrait of conscience as a bulwark of objective and universal moral law. Conscience discovers the moral truth understood as the moral law that applies anywhere and in all circumstances. Prudence is subordinate to the stern obligation of this moral truth. At most, prudence is understood as the virtue that applies the requirements of the moral law to a particular situation. For the most part, though, the ecclesial view of conscience distrusts prudence, emotions, practical reason – anything that is not law and that suggests too subjective a drift to the judgments of conscience.

We can see the limits of this view in the attempt, backed by prominent Catholics, in the final days of the Bush administration to promulgate Federal conscience clause regulations to supplement laws that since the 1970s had prohibited health care workers from being compelled to perform abortions.

The last-minute Bush rules, now under review by the Obama administration, sought to extend the protection of the existing conscience laws beyond doctors or nurses who could be immediately involved in an abortion to all health care workers involved in “any activity with a reasonable connection to a procedure [like abortion], health service or health service program, or research activity.”

In this wider scope of protection, one hears echoes of the ecclesial view of conscience in which any association – however distant – with a questionable practice can only be interpreted as intentional transgression of the moral law. But such a wide scope of protection leaves little space for the exercise of practical reason through the use of such time-honored tools of the Catholic tradition as the principle of cooperation.

In the technical terms of moral theology, this principle seeks to illumine the degree to which one may be morally involved – or “cooperate” – in a complex action in which a definite evil occurs alongside a number of moral goods. The principle poses questions like: What is the precise “object” of the action of the health care worker and the “object” of the one seeking an abortion? To what extent is a health care worker in their precise work near or far from a problematic procedure like abortion? These questions central to the Church's tradition of casuistry are devalued in the ecclesial case for conscience. Their subtlety finds no place in the Bush-era rules.

We have already argued that the description of American society as pervasively relativist is inaccurate. But it is crucial to consider the theoretical assumptions about the nature of conscience that inform this description. And chief among the assumptions are those that factor into the use of the phrase “culture of death” to describe this relativist world. This locution, taken from John Paul II and used commonly today, carries a harsh tone of moral judgment for culpable evil.

In turn, it appears to assume that such culpability impairs rationality, vitiates freedom, and darkens conscience. But how does such a description of the pervasively culpable and impaired conscience account for the millions of Americans for whom abortion is not a moral right but a tragic choice? Or for the millions of Americans for whom the determination of when the first stages of human life require absolute protection is a matter of sincere and well-considered conscience that differs from the Catholic doctrinal view of the matter? Here it is important for the Catholic engagement with American democracy to recover – and rename – the notion of “invincible ignorance” in which, from the Catholic perspective, the consciences of fellow citizens may be mistaken but not culpably so.

Correspondingly, the consciences of such citizens – and their rational and volitional powers – are not compromised by culpability. Indeed, it was striking that such a notion informed Swiss theologian George Cottier's praise of President Obama's willingness to engage fellow citizens who disagreed with him on such matters as abortion legislation. By doing so, Cottier argued, Obama affirmed a presumption of good faith in others that is an “inspiration of an inwardly Christian kind” by which democracy lives and through which citizens respect the enduring capacity for truth in others.

We would like to call attention to one other shortcoming in the ecclesial conception of conscience: Its diminished social nature. This is evident in the conception's sharply restricted space for moral formation. Too little credence is given to such things as professional associations; the American medical, legal, and political culture; and the prudence and insight gained by the practice of participants in contested fields like health care and politics. Instead, the ecclesial conception maintains that the overriding factor in the moral formation of a Catholic conscience is the hierarchical teaching office.

Moreover, the narrow social nature of the ecclesial conscience fails to account for the full range of values at stake in legal and political disputes like those to which the Bush-era conscience-clause regulations were meant to apply. Invocations of conscience should not of themselves trump all other values at stake in such matters. Yet this is often how it seems when listening to those speak – often with a strongly individualistic and anti-government air – about the need for extensive conscience clause protections. By contrast, Jesuit theologian John Courtney Murray argued that the conflict between the individual conscience and the political community could only be understood in its properly moral character when it was seen as a conflict between the conscience of an individual and the “conscience of the laws” of the political community.

The theologian Thomas Shannon spelled out the range of values at stake between these two claims of conscience, individual and political. He argued that a democratic citizen in a pluralist society derives an obligation to obey the civil laws on a number of grounds. First, this obligation is filtered through the values derived from a citizen's membership in an association like the Catholic Church: How consonant are the values embodied by the civil laws with the values central to crucial institutions like the Catholic Church that play a decisive role in the moral formation of citizens? Second, the obligation to obey the laws can be understood as a return in kind for benefits like security and safety provided by the state. Third, the obligation arises from the existence of fair electoral and political procedures. And, finally, the obligation is present on account of the fairness required of citizens who obey laws and accept imperfections with which they disagree because other citizens of different convictions accept similarly disagreeable matters.

Murray's and Shannon's logic requires us to see that the citizen exercising conscience in the face of legal or social pressure never in fact or in right departs from the political community. Moreover, while the exercise of a citizen's conscience may affirm values of special importance to an association like the Catholic Church, nevertheless such values must be considered along with – not entirely over against – values like public order and fair play among diverse citizens.

Seeing claims of conscience in such a broad light helps one to understand the wisdom of Martin Luther King, Jr., who as a matter of conscience disobeyed unjust laws and who as a matter of conscience also accepted the punishment for such disobedience as, among other things, a way to affirm the abiding value of law and political community.

We have intended in this essay to call attention to several overlooked aspects of the understanding of conscience at work in the current Catholic engagement with the American public square. Of course, no consideration of that engagement should be made without attention to the broader context in which these invocations of conscience are taking place: The issues of gender at the base of so many of the so-called problems of conscience; the diminished authority of the American hierarchy on account especially of bishops' roles in the sexual abuse scandal; and the fact that only a few centuries ago the hierarchical teaching office of the church found it far less necessary to promulgate teachings to bind the consciences of the Catholic faithful. Instead, we have largely restricted our arguments to matters of moral philosophy and moral theology. We hope in the course of our treatment to have pointed to the resources in these disciplines for a renewal of the Church's understanding of conscience – a renewal that might draw on the personalist tradition of Catholicism and that would accord better with the experience of the Catholic democratic citizen in a pluralist society.

The above essay was formulated by Albert Jonsen, author “The Abuse of Casuistry: A History of Moral Reasoning” and Senior Ethics Scholar-in-Residence and Co-Director, Program in Medicine and Human Values, California Pacific Medical Center; Kirk Hanson, Executive Director, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, and University Professor of Organizations and Society, SCU; Denise Carmody, Jesuit Community Professor, Religious Studies, SCU; Gerald D. Coleman, S.S., Vice President, Corporate Ethics, Daughters of Charity Health System; Miriam Schulman, director of Communications, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics; Margaret McLean, director of Biotechnology and Health Care Ethics, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics; Lawrence Nelson, Associate Professor of Philosophy, SCU; J. Brooke Hamilton III, Milam & Steen/BORSF Professor of Business Administration, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and Visiting Scholar, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. The essay was written by David E. DeCosse, director of Campus Ethics Programs, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

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INNOCENCE PROTECTION ACT - Part 1
11/10/2009
Congressional Testimony - CQ Transcriptions

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TESTIMONY

November 10, 2009

KEITH A. FINDLEY

PRESIDENT

THE INNOCENCE NETWORK

SENATE JUDICIARY

INNOCENCE PROTECTION ACT - Part 1

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copyright or other notice from copies of the content.Statement of Keith A. Findley President The Innocence Network

Committee on Senate Judiciary

November 10, 2009

Chairman Leahy, Senator Specter, and other Members of the Committee, my name is Keith Findley and I am the President of The Innocence Network. I am here to testify with regard to the importance of the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Assistance Program (``Bloodsworth Program``). Further, I will testify about the need for reauthorization and improvement of Sections 303, 305, 308 and 413 of the Innocence Protection Act (collectively, ``DNA Initiatives``) contained within the Justice For All Act of 2004 (``the JFAA``). Thank you for inviting me to testify before you today.

The Innocence Network is an affiliation of organizations dedicated to providing pro bono legal and investigative services to individuals seeking to prove innocence of crimes for which they have been convicted and working to redress the causes of wrongful convictions. To date, 245 men and women have been exonerated by post-conviction DNA testing nationwide, and the 54 constituent organizations of the Innocence Network have either represented or assisted in the representation of each of these innocents.

My testimony today will provide:

I. A description of the significance of the Bloodsworth Program, including a brief overview of both the importance of post- conviction DNA testing and the Program;

II. Recommendations to enhance the value of the JFAA`s DNA Initiatives as tools to preserve biological evidence, settle claims of innocence and solve crimes.

I. The Significance of the Bloodsworth Program

A. The Importance of Post-Conviction DNA Testing Forensic DNA technology, simply put, changed the fabric of the criminal justice system. Before DNA, there were few surefire ways to assess claims of actual innocence. Now, DNA testing of crime scene evidence can provide the criminal justice system with significant and enduring proof of innocence or guilt, from the initial stages of an investigation to years after a conviction. Indeed, in the early days of the FBI DNA Laboratory, some 25 per cent of the DNA tests excluded suspects who had been identified by other types of evidence. Since 1989, at least 245 innocent people have been exonerated by post-conviction DNA testing after their wrongful convictions for serious crimes.

1. Post-Conviction DNA Testing Aids the Innocent.

While forensic DNA testing is itself only dispositive of guilt or innocence in a limited number of criminal cases, when it is dispositive, it can answer the question of innocence or guilt beyond dispute. And as the science progresses, the realm of cases in which DNA testing is dispositive is growing. A review of a list of items, produced by the National Institute of Justice (``NIJ``), where biological evidence can be found illustrates the variety of items that, today, can be successfully tested with improved technology: fingernail scrapings; skins cells in the hinge of eyeglasses; dandruff, saliva, hair, sweat and skin cells from hats, bandanas and masks; saliva cells on tape or ligatures; traces of blood on a bullet; traces of blood and/or hairs on, or in the crevices of, a variety of weapons used to inflict injury; or even blood and tissue cells swabbed from the bullet inside a gun, identifying the person who might have last loaded it. Post- conviction DNA testing statutes have begun to contemplate these technological advances and many now include provisions that permit additional testing in cases where previous testing using older testing methods could not produce conclusive results.

A Case Study in the Importance of Post-Conviction DNA Testing to the Innocent

Consider the following case of justice denied in the absence of a post-conviction DNA testing law. In March 1989, New Jerseyan Larry Peterson was convicted of sexual assault and murder. Although three men originally indicated to police that they were with Mr. Peterson at the time the murder took place, they later changed their accounts during interrogations and told law enforcement that Mr. Peterson confessed to them that he had indeed committed the crime. One forensic scientist testified at trial that her hair comparison analysis tied Mr. Peterson to the murder and another analyst with the New Jersey State Police testified that there was seminal fluid on the victim`s jeans and sperm on her underwear. No seminal fluid or sperm was found in her rape kit. All tests on these items of evidence were inconclusive at the time of trial. Mr. Peterson testified in his own defense at trial. Alibi witnesses supported his whereabouts during the time of the crime. Work records also showed that he did not work on the day that the victim was found - the day he supposedly confessed to the crime on his way to work. The jury convicted Mr. Peterson of felony murder and aggravated sexual assault in March 1989. He was sentenced to life plus twenty years in prison.

Although there was no post-conviction DNA testing law in New Jersey, Mr. Peterson first sought access to DNA testing in 1994 under the state`s existing post-conviction review process. When the Court finally heard his motion in 1998, it denied his petition. In 2000, the Appellate Division affirmed the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, ruling that there was overwhelming evidence of guilt in his case. In March of 2001, the state supreme court denied his Petition for Certification. Mr. Peterson was without hope until New Jersey passed a statute granting access to post-conviction DNA testing. The law became effective on July 7, 2002. On July 8, 2002, Larry Peterson became the first New Jerseyan to file a petition for post-conviction DNA testing under the new law and ultimately testing was granted, after the appeal of an initial denial. In February 2005, the Serological Research Institute (``SERI``) reported the results of testing: Mr. Peterson was excluded as a contributor of any and all of the biological evidence. Although the New Jersey State Police Laboratory had reported that there was no semen in the victim`s rape kit, SERI identified sperm on her oral, vaginal, and anal swabs. Two different male profiles were found. One of the males was one of the victim`s consensual partners, and his profile was also found on her underwear, jeans, and rape kit. The other unknown male was found on all of the swabs in her rape kit. Based on this evidence, Mr. Peterson`s conviction was vacated in July 2005. On May 26, 2006, the prosecution decided to drop all charges against Mr. Peterson. Without the passage of New Jersey`s post-conviction DNA testing law, Mr. Peterson would have spent the rest of his life in prison, but innocent.

2. Post-Conviction DNA Testing Reveals Systemic Potential for Error.

With the ability to transcend fallible human judgment, DNA testing - and particularly post-conviction DNA exonerations - have proven the potential for error that exists in our criminal justice system, that our appeals processes are not sufficient for identifying those errors, and perhaps most importantly, that there are consistent and widespread factors that mislead our criminal process that should be examined and remedied. In this regard, the importance of the DNA exonerations transcends the significant contributions that DNA makes to correcting injustices in individual cases. The DNA exonerations provide, for the first time in the history of the criminal justice system, a body of cases in which we know, with scientific certainty, that the criminal justice system erred. These exonerations therefore provide case studies in error that we can examine, to identify the features of our criminal justice system that lead to wrongful convictions, so that we can improve the system and effectuate reforms to prevent such errors in future cases, where there may not be DNA evidence to rely upon to catch the errors. In fact, DNA exonerations have identified seven common causes of wrongful convictions: eyewitness misidentification; unvalidated or improper forensic science; false confessions or admissions; government misconduct; informants or snitches; and bad defense lawyering. For instance, of the nation`s first 225 DNA exonerations, 77 per cent were attributable to eyewitness misidentification, 52 per cent to unvalidated or improper forensic science, 23 per cent to false confessions or admissions and 16 per cent to informant or snitch testimony. , Understanding these causes of wrongful convictions allows for the improvement of the criminal justice system through targeted reforms.

Throughout the country, policy makers, judges, prosecutors, police and defense attorneys are beginning to learn the lessons from these cases, and are implementing reforms that simultaneously help guard against wrongful convictions of the innocent, while more reliably identifying and convicting the guilty. In many states, for example, these cases have led to reforms in the procedures police use to obtain eyewitness identification evidence, reforms that social science research shows can reduce the rate of eyewitness error and thereby simultaneously protect the innocent and help convict the truly guilty. In literally hundreds of jurisdictions across this country, police are beginning to electronically record their custodial interrogations, because DNA exonerations have shown that false confessions are a reality, and experience shows that electronic recording is one of the most effective methods of both guarding against coerced confessions and developing powerful evidence of guilt from valid confessions.

Recently, especially in light of the new report issued this past February by the National Academy of Sciences that highlights extensive problems with forensic science evidence, and given the high rate at which forensic science errors have contributed to wrongful convictions, reform efforts are under way to improve the reliability and validity of forensic sciences. These calls for reform run the gamut from increasing research in and funding for forensic sciences, to mandatory accreditation and certification of crime laboratories and analysts, to ensuring that crime laboratories are independent of both parties in the criminal justice system. Each of these reforms, and many others like them, promises to enhance the ability of the criminal justice system to more accurately sort the innocent from the guilty, and in this sense, to benefit both prosecution and defense. And continued post-conviction DNA testing serves an important role in providing the impetus for such reform efforts.

3. Post-Conviction DNA Testing Assists Law Enforcement in Apprehending the Real Perpetrator.

In this regard, as Chairman Leahy aptly put it: ``Post-conviction DNA testing does not merely exonerate the innocent, it can also solve crimes and lead to the incarceration of very dangerous criminals. In case after case, DNA testing that exculpates a wrongfully convicted individual also inculpates the real criminal.`` Put differently, innocence claims are simply another form of cold cases. In 105 of the nation`s first 241 DNA exonerations, the process of settling these claims of innocence also resulted in the detection of the true perpetrator, in many cases through a ``hit`` to the CODIS database. After these 105 innocent men were wrongfully convicted, the true perpetrators, who were later discovered through DNA testing, went on to commit - and be convicted of - 19 murders, 56 rapes and 15 other violent crimes.

B. The JFAA and Bloodsworth Program

In 2004, Congress recognized DNA`s potential, and passed, with bi- partisan support, the Innocence Protection Act contained in the JFAA. The JFAA established, for the first time, a number of federal statutory innocence protections and federal incentives to help states uncover wrongful convictions. Then-President George W. Bush noted in his 2005 State of the Union address: ``In America we must make doubly sure no person is held to account for a crime he or she did not commit. So we are dramatically expanding the use of DNA evidence to prevent wrongful conviction.``

The JFAA was intended to serve as an incentive to states to enable proper post-conviction DNA testing by rewarding states, through four federal-to-state funding programs related to DNA outlined in Section 413 of the JFAA, with proper polices and practices for the preservation of biological evidence and post- conviction DNA testing. Section 413, in relevant part, states For each of fiscal years 2005 through 2009, all funds appropriated to carry out sections 303, 305, 308, and 412 shall be reserved for grants to eligible entities that?(1) meet the requirements under section 303, 305, 308, or 412, as appropriate; and (2) demonstrate that the State in which the eligible entity operates--(A) provides post-conviction DNA testing of specified evidence?(B) preserves biological evidence secured in relation to the investigation or prosecution of a State offense?

The four JFAA DNA Initiatives covered by Section 413 are the following JFAA Sections:

--303, DNA Training and Education for Law Enforcement, Correctional Personnel, and Court Officers;

--305, DNA Research and Development;

--308, DNA Identification of Missing Persons; and

--412, Kirk Bloodsworth Postconviction DNA Testing Grant Program.

That is to say, a bi-partisan Congress, in passing the JFAA, and - presumably - then-President Bush, in signing the JFAA into law, intended for those monies for the above-listed programs to be tied to the preservation of biological evidence and post- conviction DNA testing access requirements per Section 413. Yet, despite the overwhelming support for this invaluable legislation, the JFAA`s innocence protection incentivizing grant programs have not been fully effective in encouraging states to adopt DNA preservation and testing statutes because they were supplanted by an alternate set of grant programs in ``The President`s DNA Initiative.`` This initiative provided similar DNA-related grant funding to states, but without the JFAA`s requirements that recipient states properly preserve biological evidence and provide access to post-conviction DNA testing. As a result, Congress`s intent in passing the innocence protection programs under the JFAA was thwarted, and the JFAA`s requirements were rendered toothless. This executive maneuvering was devastating to wrongfully convicted individuals for whom DNA testing was the only path to proving innocence, many of whom were clients of Innocence Network projects. It was also devastating to those of us who had hoped that the JFAA would enhance state and local systems of justice by fostering appropriate post-conviction DNA testing and by enabling jurisdictions to recognize and learn from wrongful convictions proven by post-conviction DNA testing.

In addition, in the first few years of the JFAA, no grants were issued for post-conviction DNA testing under the Bloodsworth Program. The first grants under that program were awarded in FY 2008, and then only to five states. But all is not lost. In early 2009, the National Institute of Justice convened a ``Post-Conviction DNA Case Management Symposium`` that assembled stakeholders from all perspectives in the criminal justice system from virtually every state to examine the issue. That symposium fostered cooperation among diverse actors in the criminal justice system on issues related to post- conviction DNA preservation and testing. Further, in particular and of special import to the Innocence Network, the spirit of the Bloodsworth Program to provide funds to enable states to process post-conviction claims of innocence that could be proven by DNA testing was ultimately respected under the Office of Justice Program`s more recent grant funding. As noted, in FY 2008, five states applied for and received Bloodsworth Program funds. In FY 2009, another nine will receive funding. Many Innocence Network members are either direct recipients of or are partners with state agencies that have received Bloodsworth funding.

C. The Value of the Bloodsworth Program

The Bloodsworth Program will prove integral to the work of many Innocence Network member organizations. The funding will dramatically improve the ability of Innocence Network members to meet the tremendous need for post-conviction DNA testing. Many of the projects funded under the Bloodsworth Program will enable projects in various states to proactively search for and identify non-negligent homicide and rape cases in which DNA testing can prove guilt or innocence, but which are otherwise overlooked or hidden. Examples of the projects funded under the Bloodsworth Program include:

1. Arizona

With the $1,386,699.00 that Arizona was awarded for FY 2008, the Arizona Justice Project, in conjunction with the Arizona Attorney General`s Office, began the Post-Conviction DNA Testing Project. Together, they have canvassed the Arizona inmate population, reviewed cases, worked to locate evidence and filed joint requests with the court to have evidence released for DNA testing. With this much-needed assistance, the offices working in tandem have sent evidence from three cases to the crime lab for testing. Of those samples, two are in queue for testing and one confirmed test results obtained prior to trial. According to the Post- Conviction DNA Testing Project Manager, Lindsay Herf,

Although we have not yet uncovered DNA that proves a wrongful conviction, the project has already had amazing results. We have cultivated an environment in our state in which law enforcement seeks justice hand-in-hand with the state`s innocence project. Our Attorney General, Director of the Criminal Justice Commission, President of the Prosecuting Attorneys Association, and crime lab directors all strongly support this effort to uncover the truth in an efficient and cooperative manner. We are not tying up courts to argue about whether to test certain pieces of evidence in a case. We meet with DNA experts and come to an agreement as to the most beneficial method of DNA analysis. We have alerted the state`s law enforcement agencies to the need for better evidence retention practices. We have been given access to a population that the grant was intended to benefit, the prisoners. Each prisoner is personally invited to participate in the program if they have a claim of innocence. Even the prisoners have been cooperative. We have received requests for assistance from only about 8% of those who attend our sessions. We have not suffered from a flood of frivolous requests.

We believe our cooperative model is one worth replicating. In Arizona, law enforcement sees the value in DNA as a superior truth-telling device in criminal trials. Where biological evidence is left at the scene, DNA evidence more accurately identifies the source of the evidence than eye-witness identification, confessions, and other forensic sciences. We are grateful for the funding that has allowed us the means to one day be able to say that if there is another Kirk Bloodsworth in an Arizona prison, we found him, we tested the evidence, we released him, and we captured the true perpetrator.

2. California

California was awarded $2,500,000.00 for FY 2009. With these funds, according to Cookie Ridolfi, Director of the Northern California Innocence Project: The California DNA Testing Assistance Program (CADNAP) will systematically identify and review forcible rape, murder, and non- negligent manslaughter convictions in cases where DNA testing might raise a reasonable probability that an innocent person was convicted.

By working in cooperation with the California Department of Correction (CDC), CADNAP will be identifying those prisoners who have been convicted of the relevant offenses and then contacting them with information about the program. The CDC will distribute information packets to the inmates, including a questionnaire and stamped, self-addressed envelope that an inmate can use to request consideration of a case. The project is receiving support and direction from the Northern California Innocence Project at Santa Clara University School of Law and the California Innocence Project at California Western School of Law.

3. Connecticut

Connecticut received $1,486,134.00 for FY 2009. The funding will be used in a collaborative effort by the Office of the State`s Attorney and the State of Connecticut Forensic Science Laboratory to expedite the identification of relevant cases for testing and the exoneration of wrongfully convicted individuals. According to Karen A. Goodrow, Director of the Connecticut Innocence Project:

The funding offered through the Bloodsworth Grant is essential in order for states to obtain adequate resources to insure that innocent inmates, serving lengthy sentences for crime which they did not commit, have an opportunity to demonstrate their innocence through post-conviction DNA testing. The Bloodsworth Grant funding is particularly crucial to small projects such as ¦the Connecticut Innocence Project¨, which operate on relatively modest budgets. States with small projects and limited resources rely heavily on the availability of Bloodsworth funding?Moreover, the use of the Bloodsworth Grant in a collaborative manner provides a necessary tool for law enforcement to insure that the true perpetrators of crime are brought to justice.

A 2006 applicant for Bloodsworth funding, the Connecticut Innocence Project could have more expeditiously processed the claims of two wrongfully convicted prisoners, had it received such funding when it first applied.

4. Louisiana

Louisiana was awarded $1,376,206.00 under the Bloodsworth Program. The funds will be distributed to a number of Orleans Parish organizations including the Orleans Parish Clerk of Court, District Attorney`s Office, New Orleans Police Department, Innocence Project New Orleans, and the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation, each of which will have a role assisting in the project. The purpose of the project is to find every item of evidence relating to a homicide or rape case in the possession of the Orleans Parish Clerk of Court, determine the status of the case in which the evidence relates, screen the case documents and determine the likelihood of DNA testing being determinative of guilt or innocence. Finally, the project will perform evidence screening and testing in those cases where biological evidence exists, would be suitable for testing and would be determinative of the guilt or innocence of the person convicted.

According to Emily Maw, Director of the Innocence Project New Orleans,

Funding for this project is so crucial because there is currently no complete inventory of the evidence that is stored at the Orleans Parish Courthouse - the busiest criminal courthouse in the State of Louisiana. The storm exacerbated the previously chaotic practices and so in addition to there being no inventory of the evidence stored there (that in some cases dates back to the 1940`s and 1950`s), there is still not definitive answer as to what evidence was destroyed by the flooding from Hurricane Katrina and what survived. Additionally, much evidence that did survive is un-identifiable until someone opens the evidence. While the office has been trying to computerize its evidence inventory moving forward, none of the pre-2008 evidence stored at the courthouse will ever be identified and inventoried without the Bloodsworth grant coming to Louisiana. At the end of this project, there will be for the first time, a complete, computerized inventory of the evidence in the possession of the Orleans Parish Clerk of Court`s office. Additionally, while there have been ¦eight¨ non-DNA exonerations in Orleans Parish since 1990, and while Orleans Parish has the most rape and homicide convictions in the state, there have been no DNA exonerations from the parish because, for the most part, the evidence in rape and homicide cases from even relatively recent cases in Orleans Parish can never be found. This grant will change that and enable us to do an effective audit of New Orleans`s criminal convictions for the first time in history.

5. Maryland

Maryland received a grant of $284,871.00 for FY 2009. The funds will be disbursed by the Governor`s Office of Crime Control and Prevention to the University of Baltimore. By way of background, the Maryland Office of the Public Defender created a small unit within that statewide system to handle cases of post-conviction claims of innocence in 2002. The unit was staffed by three attorneys and a paralegal until the spring of 2008 when budget cuts decimated the project, resulting in the elimination of all support staff and the transfer of two of the three attorneys. In the fall of this year, the Office of the Public Defender and the University of Baltimore Law School entered into a partnership in order to preserve the Maryland Innocence Project, which found itself with much work and little support.

Since its creation, the Maryland Project has won five new trials on the basis of post-conviction DNA testing, two of which resulted in exoneration. Further, two cases are currently pending before the Maryland Court of Appeals on the contention that the lower court erred in denying new trial based on the DNA testing results. The project has one case that is currently awaiting the court`s decision on a motion for new trial. Two other cases are on remand from the Court of Appeals: one to enter an order for DNA testing and the other for reconsideration of the denial of the motion for DNA testing. Essential to the very survival of the Maryland Project, the Bloodsworth funds will go to pay for the retention of one staff attorney and a paralegal, along with the costs of testing, investigators and related office expenses.

6. Minnesota

Through the Bloodsworth Program, the Minnesota Board of Public Defense, the Innocence Project of Minnesota, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Hennepin County Attorney`s Office were granted $859,527.00 for FY 2009. The monies will fund a joint task force of prosecutors, defense attorneys, investigators and staff from the Innocence Project of Minnesota to conduct a review of more than 13,000 violent-crime convictions to determine whether DNA testing is warranted. If it is, testing will be conducted. Where the testing indicates that a convicted person is innocent, the Innocence Project of Minnesota will commence the legal work to secure his or her release. If the testing determines that another person committed the crime, such information will be turned over to the appropriate law enforcement authorities. ``This partnership is the first statewide effort to perform systematic DNA testing,`` Ed Magarian, co-chair of the Innocence Project of Minnesota, and partner at Dorsey Whitney noted.

It represents an unprecedented level of collaboration between a non-profit organization, law enforcement, prosecutors, and defense attorneys. We are all vitally interested in exonerating the innocent, but also in drawing attention to the fact that when someone is wrongfully convicted, the person guilty of the crime may remain on the street, free to reoffend. This grant and this collaboration further our goals of securing justice, which we, as Minnesotans, all share.

``DNA evidence is a powerful tool in both securing convictions and in exonerating the innocent,`` said Pat Diamond, Deputy Hennepin County Attorney. ``By systematically reviewing convictions that were obtained before DNA testing was widespread, the Partnership will serve important interests in promoting public confidence in the criminal justice system and seeing that justice is done. Nobody is served by a wrongful conviction. Even if an innocent person has served his sentenced, the guilty remain on the street and free to reoffend.``

Copyright © 2009 Voxant

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ROBERT HENDERSHOT IS A FINANCE PROFESSOR AT SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY.
11/09/2009
ABC 7 News at 6 PM- KGO-TV

MONEY SCOPE HEADLINES, STOCK PRICES REACHING HIGHEST LEVELS M MORE THAN A YEAR, DOW JONES CLIMBED 200 POINTS TODAY, SECOND 200 POINT GAIN IN THREE DAYS. NASDAQ ADDED 41. AND UNFORTUNATELY MOST OF THE BOOST IS A RESULT OF THE WEAKENING OF THE DOLLAR WHICH ATTRACTS FOREIGN MONEY INTO THE MARKETS. AND THERE IS OIL PRICES SHOT UP DESPITE WEAKENING OF IDA. AND THERE IS McDONALD'S SAID SALES DECLINED LAST MONTH. JUST THE THIRD TIME IN MORE THAN SIX YEARS THAT THAT HAPPENED. AND THERE IS A STRONG POSSIBILITY INTEREST RATES HAVE TAKEN A JUMP. A LAW PROMPTED BANKS TO ACT NOW. THIS IS AIMED AT PROTECTING CONSUMER FROM SHARP FEES. BANKS ARE MAKING THEIR MOVES NOW. ACCORDING TO A SURVEY BY FEDERAL RESERVE, SOME RAISING RATES ON HIGH RISK CUSTOMERS. NEARLY HALF OF THE BANKS SURVEYED PLANNED TO TIGHTEN THEIR LIMITS THAT. IS THE TOP AMOUNT A CUSTOMER CAN CHARGE. ABOUT HALF OF THE BANKS ALSO PLANNED TO TIGHTEN THE MINIMUM SCORE TO A CONSUMER TO GET A CARD. ROBERT HENDERSHOT IS A FINANCE PROFESSOR AT SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY. NEARLY TRYING TO MAKE MONEY. SO WHETHER THIS IS COMING INTO AFFECT OR NOT THEY'LL BE LOOKING FOR WAYS TO SQUEEZE MORE PROFIT OUT OF THE CUSTOMERS. THAT MEANS THEY'LL WANT TO MONITOR INTEREST. HAVE YOU LOOKED AT THE BILL LATELY? HAS THE BANK BEEN RAISING RATES SF. I PAY OFF EVERY MONTH. SO I DON'T REALLY PAY ATTENTION TO THAT. IF I DIDN'T, IT WOULD BE HIGH. BUT I PAY OFF EVERY MONTH. THE BANKING INDUSTRY BLAMES RISING DELINQUENCYIS. THE ERA OF EASY CREDIT IS OVER. NOW, IT'S I DON'T WANT TO GIVE YOU A CREDIT CARD. I'M GOING TO GIVE YOU A CARD WITH A $1,000 LIMIT INSTEAD OF $5,000 LIMIT. AND IF TWO OTHER CHANGES ARE ON THE HORIZON, IF YOU DON'T USE YOUR CARD, YOU, TOO, MIGHT GET HIT BY A FEE. THE CHRONICLE IS THE FIRST MAJOR DAILY TO BE PUBLISHED ON GLOSSY PAPER USED FOR THE FRONT PAGES AND SOME OF THE FEATURE SECTIONS IN THEIR ENTIRETY. AND IS LOSING CIRCULATION AND HOPES THIS DESIGN WILL ATTRACT BOTH READERS AND ADVERTISERS AND YERK IT'S STILL RECYCLABLE RECYCLABLEABLE. STILL TO COME AT 6:30 LATE WORD FROM THE PLANS FOR SENDING MORE TROOPS TO AFGHANISTAN.

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Planning Your End-of-Life Care | View Clip
11/09/2009
Hartford Courant - Online

Talking about death with your loved ones can be awkward at best and painful at worst. But discussing medical directives--legal documents that specify your treatment preferences--is important because they ensure that medical care is executed in the way you want it to be, even if you can't speak for yourself.

Making your wishes clear also prevents your spouse and children from having to make heart-wrenching medical decisions about how long to continue care.

Here are some tips for communicating your end-of-life wishes:

1. FILL OUT THE FORMS

In the absence of legal documents, family members can be left to make excruciating medical choices.

"It tortures families to not know what to do and feel like they are making life-or-death decisions," says Dr. Ira Byock, director of palliative medicine at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and author of the book "Dying Well." "Having that written down alleviates a lot of stress that families feel." Putting your wishes in writing using advance medical directives is a great way to organize your thoughts and make your desires clear.

A living will includes instructions explaining the types of healthcare you want or don't want under various circumstances. It's also a good idea to designate a healthcare proxy or durable healthcare power of attorney that gives the person you select the legal right to make medical decisions for you when you no longer can.

Only about a third of Americans have a living will (36 percent). And 37 percent have identified a healthcare proxy or drawn up a durable power of attorney for healthcare, according to an AARP poll of adults age 35 and older in 2008.

Not surprisingly, Americans ages 60 and older are more likely to fill out these forms than those in their 40s and 50s.

"It's good to express your wishes when you are capable of doing that because once you're not, you can easily be at the mercy of the system or your loved ones, who may not make the decision you would even though the system and your loved ones have the best of intentions," says David Feldman, assistant professor of counseling psychology at Santa Clara University and coauthor of "The End-of-Life Handbook: A Compassionate Guide to Connecting with and Caring for a Dying Loved One."

Laws governing advance directives vary by state. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization maintains a list of state-specific forms and requirements. But one state's advance directive does not always work in another state, so it's best to fill out advance directives for all the states where you spend a significant amount of time.

2. DISTRIBUTE THE PAPERWORK

When Jan Warner, author of "Next Steps: A Practical Guide to Planning for the Best Half of Your Life," was diagnosed with cancer a year ago, he executed a healthcare directive and gave a copy to each of his five children.

"I sent it out to them and I said, 'This is what I want to do, and I expect support,'" Warner says. Simply filling out the forms and stuffing them in a drawer or safe deposit box isn't enough.

"Give one to all of the people who may be caring for you: family members, friends, doctors, hospitals that you may be at, your lawyer," says Feldman. "Put it by your bed, displayed on the wall, or on the nightstand. It's most likely to be honored when people know about it."

Byock has given copies of his advance directives to several doctors and his wife, sister, and daughter, and he's posted it in his electronic medical record. He even made a PDF.

3. HAVE A SIT-DOWN

"We are living in a culture in the U.S. in which it is taboo to talk about death and serious illness, and that makes these conversations hard because we feel like it's inappropriate and we feel like we are going to offend people," says Feldman.

A majority of parents (63 percent) ages 65 and older say that they have talked with their children about how to handle their medical care if and when they can no longer make their own decisions, and about half (55 percent) have discussed what to do if they can no longer live independently, according to a June Pew Research Center survey. Parents generally initiated these conversations, and mothers and daughters were much more likely to have had a discussion about end-of-life care than men.

"Give a warning to whomever you want to talk to about this stuff rather than springing it on the person, so they can be prepared," Feldman says. "Schedule a time--at least an hour is ample time--and make sure you have it in a comfortable setting." You'll also want to discuss your end-of-life wishes with your physician.

"The American mind-set toward dying is, 'I don't want to think about it,' and so we don't, and when it happens, we are unprepared, which makes it all the harder," says Byock. "It's in everyone's best interest as part of health maintenance to talk about these issues within your family and with your physician as part of normal healthcare."

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Credit card companies try to beat new law | View Clip
11/09/2009
ABC 7 Morning News at 5 AM - KGO-TV

SAN JOSE, CA (KGO) -- People should take a closer look at their credit card statement, since there is a strong possibility the interest rates have taken a big jump. A new federal law to protect consumers has prompted some banks to act now.

The new law is aimed at protecting consumers from sharp interest rate hikes and fees. Because it doesn't take effect until next year, banks that issue credit cards are making their moves now. According to a survey by the Federal Reserve, some are raising rates on high-risk customers.

Nearly half of the banks surveyed plan to tighten their credit limits -- the top amount a customer can charge on a card. About half of the banks also plan to tighten the minimum credit score to a consumer to get a credit card.

"They're always trying to make money, so whether the legislation is coming into effect or not, they would be looking for ways to squeeze a little more profit out of their customers, either on the borrowing side or the lending side," says Robert Hendershott, Ph.D., a finance professor at the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University.

That means consumers who put holiday purchases on plastic will want to monitor the interest charged by their bank.

When asked if her bank has been raising her interest rate, Vicky Kraft replied, "I pay my cards off every month, so I really don't pay attention to that. If I didn't pay my cards off, I know it'd be high, but I pay off my cards every month."

The banking industry blames rising payment delinquency as people lose their jobs. The era of easy credit is over.

"Now it's 'I don't want to give you a credit card. I may give you a credit card with a $1,000 limit instead of a $5,000 limit.' It's not necessarily a negative, but it's going to affect the same people that are also helped by the legislation," says Hendershott.

As if consumers haven't been hit hard enough already, two other changes are on the horizon. Consumers who don't currently pay an annual fee might be slapped by one next year and those that don't use their credit card at all, too, might be hit by a fee.

Today's latest headlines | ABC7 News on your phone

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Many fold up laptops, shift to smart phones
11/09/2009
San Francisco Chronicle

Six months ago, Deborah Han's laptop died.

Instead of replacing the old machine, the Walnut Creek city planner decided to buy an iPhone 3GS and see how long it would take before she was forced to get a laptop. Six months later, she still hasn't made the purchase.

"I realized that a lot of things that my laptop does, my iPhone could also do," said Han, 29. "It's not as good as my laptop but my work and lifestyle don't require me to look at my laptop that much."

Han is part of a growing group of smart phone users who have shifted more of their computing workload to their mobile device. In most cases, smart phone users can't completely ditch their computers, which are better for bigger tasks like creating documents, editing files and viewing media.

But the rise of the smart phone is reordering the way people compute, allowing people to tackle tasks like e-mailing, document viewing, social networking and light browsing from their handheld. In the process, it's lessening some of the need for a laptop or desktop, both in the workplace and at home.

Processing powerDevices like the iPhone, BlackBerry and new Android devices pack in the processing power of small computers.

With 3G data access, Wi-Fi support and new full featured mobile browsers, users are able to enjoy a good rendering of a laptop Internet experience.

And with the explosion of mobile applications in the last year, smart phone users are able to rely on tailored programs that make certain tasks easier on a handheld than on a traditional computer.

Allen Nogee, an analyst with In-Stat said a recent survey of smart phone owners found that 35 percent of their data usage came in the home. He said that for many lighter tasks in the home, users are turning to the smart phone rather than booting up the desktop or laptop.

"If they want to browse the Internet or if they want to see a Web link they may pull out their phone and see that before walking over to the laptop," Nogee said. "I think a lot of people are offloading a lot of those laptop tasks to the phone."

A survey by Rubicon Consulting in March found that of respondents who were asked if they often carried their iPhone in place of a notebook, 28 percent of agreed strongly and 29 percent agreed mildly.

Bruce La Fetra, a business strategist for Rubicon said that while PCs will remain essential, the findings are a testament to the progress smart phones have made.

"There's a lot more capabilities in smart phones that we hardly dreamed of a few years ago," he said. "To be able to have a full, high-speed connection where you have the connectivity of being in the office in a small form factor, that's a huge step up."

For many workers, a smart phone allows them to keep their laptop at bay, while they handle many of their daily tasks.

Reaching for phonesConnie Kim Coutain, assistant director of media relations at Santa Clara University, said she has found herself using her laptop and desktop less now that she's armed with both an iPhone and BlackBerry.

Even though she has five computers at home, including a small netbook, it's her smart phones she reaches for first.

"I check both phones first thing in the morning and it's the last thing I do before I go to bed," she said "They're glued to my hips."

The growth of smart phones and their effect on traditional PC sales is still being measured. By most accounts, smart phones haven't eaten into PC sales, said Richard Shim, an analyst with IDC.

He said PC sales have remained steady despite the economic downturn, in part because average selling prices have come down significantly.

Indeed, PC sales still far outnumber smart phones sales, according to IDC. In the third quarter, PC vendors moved 78 million computers compared to 43 million smart phones.

But smart phones are growing at a faster pace. IDC predicts smart phone sales will go from 151.6 million units in 2008 to 334.2 million units in 2013.

PCs still remain more capable devices that serve bigger needs. Ken Dulaney, an analyst with Gartner, said the small screens and keyboards of smart phones prevent users from doing real content creation.

He said even for document viewing, the small screen can be an issue. Gartner has advised its customers to read all their attachments on a PC because of concerns about clients overlooking information when viewing it on a smart phone screen.

Defined rolesHe said increasingly the smart phone and PC will settle into more defined roles and will lead to an overall rise in the intensity of computing by users.

Cindi Cheney, owner of CJ Event Management, said her Mac is still essential for doing spreadsheets, preparing documents and doing heavy research. But on any given day, her BlackBerry Curve is her go-to device.

She said more than a year ago, when she had an assistant, she used to rely on her and her computer to correspond with clients. When the economy forced her to layoff her assistant, the BlackBerry took on a much bigger role.

While it handled about a quarter of her communications before, she now turns to it for 75 percent of her correspondence, even when she's sitting in front of her computer.

"It just seems easier for some reason because it's all right there," Cheney said. "It reminds me I have appointments, what e-mail I have, any follow-ups I have to do. Basically, it's an extension of my laptop but it's more portable and easy."

Copyright © 2009 San Francisco Chronicle

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More users offload laptop work to smart phones | View Clip
11/09/2009
San Francisco Chronicle - Online

Six months ago, Deborah Han's laptop died.

Instead of replacing the old machine, the Walnut Creek city planner decided to buy an iPhone 3GS and see how long it would take before she was forced to get a laptop. Six months later, she still hasn't made the purchase.

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"I realized that a lot of things that my laptop does, my iPhone could also do," said Han, 29. "It's not as good as my laptop but my work and lifestyle don't require me to look at my laptop that much."

Han is part of a growing group of smart phone users who have shifted more of their computing workload to their mobile device. In most cases, smart phone users can't completely ditch their computers, which are better for bigger tasks like creating documents, editing files and viewing media.

But the rise of the smart phone is reordering the way people compute, allowing people to tackle tasks like e-mailing, document viewing, social networking and light browsing from their handheld. In the process, it's lessening some of the need for a laptop or desktop, both in the workplace and at home.

Processing power

Devices like the iPhone, BlackBerry and new Android devices pack in the processing power of small computers.

With 3G data access, Wi-Fi support and new full featured mobile browsers, users are able to enjoy a good rendering of a laptop Internet experience.

And with the explosion of mobile applications in the last year, smart phone users are able to rely on tailored programs that make certain tasks easier on a handheld than on a traditional computer.

Allen Nogee, an analyst with In-Stat said a recent survey of smart phone owners found that 35 percent of their data usage came in the home. He said that for many lighter tasks in the home, users are turning to the smart phone rather than booting up the desktop or laptop.

"If they want to browse the Internet or if they want to see a Web link they may pull out their phone and see that before walking over to the laptop," Nogee said. "I think a lot of people are offloading a lot of those laptop tasks to the phone."

A survey by Rubicon Consulting in March found that of respondents who were asked if they often carried their iPhone in place of a notebook, 28 percent of agreed strongly and 29 percent agreed mildly.

Bruce La Fetra, a business strategist for Rubicon said that while PCs will remain essential, the findings are a testament to the progress smart phones have made.

"There's a lot more capabilities in smart phones that we hardly dreamed of a few years ago," he said. "To be able to have a full, high-speed connection where you have the connectivity of being in the office in a small form factor, that's a huge step up."

For many workers, a smart phone allows them to keep their laptop at bay, while they handle many of their daily tasks.

Reaching for phones

Connie Kim Coutain, assistant director of media relations at Santa Clara University, said she has found herself using her laptop and desktop less now that she's armed with both an iPhone and BlackBerry.

Even though she has five computers at home, including a small netbook, it's her smart phones she reaches for first.

"I check both phones first thing in the morning and it's the last thing I do before I go to bed," she said "They're glued to my hips."

The growth of smart phones and their effect on traditional PC sales is still being measured. By most accounts, smart phones haven't eaten into PC sales, said Richard Shim, an analyst with IDC.

He said PC sales have remained steady despite the economic downturn, in part because average selling prices have come down significantly.

Indeed, PC sales still far outnumber smart phones sales, according to IDC. In the third quarter, PC vendors moved 78 million computers compared to 43 million smart phones.

But smart phones are growing at a faster pace. IDC predicts smart phone sales will go from 151.6 million units in 2008 to 334.2 million units in 2013.

PCs still remain more capable devices that serve bigger needs. Ken Dulaney, an analyst with Gartner, said the small screens and keyboards of smart phones prevent users from doing real content creation.

He said even for document viewing, the small screen can be an issue. Gartner has advised its customers to read all their attachments on a PC because of concerns about clients overlooking information when viewing it on a smart phone screen.

Defined roles

He said increasingly the smart phone and PC will settle into more defined roles and will lead to an overall rise in the intensity of computing by users.

Cindi Cheney, owner of CJ Event Management, said her Mac is still essential for doing spreadsheets, preparing documents and doing heavy research. But on any given day, her BlackBerry Curve is her go-to device.

She said more than a year ago, when she had an assistant, she used to rely on her and her computer to correspond with clients. When the economy forced her to layoff her assistant, the BlackBerry took on a much bigger role.

While it handled about a quarter of her communications before, she now turns to it for 75 percent of her correspondence, even when she's sitting in front of her computer.

"It just seems easier for some reason because it's all right there," Cheney said. "It reminds me I have appointments, what e-mail I have, any follow-ups I have to do. Basically, it's an extension of my laptop but it's more portable and easy."

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Innocent bystanders framed for child porn — by a PC virus
11/09/2009
Deseret News

Of all the sinister things that Internet viruses do, this might be the worst: They can make you an unsuspecting collector of child pornography.

Heinous pictures and videos can be deposited on computers by viruses — the malicious programs better known for swiping your credit card numbers. In this twist, it's your reputation that's stolen.

Pedophiles can exploit virus-infected PCs to remotely store and view their stash without fear they'll get caught. Pranksters or someone trying to frame you can tap viruses to make it appear that you surf illegal Web sites.

Whatever the motivation, you get child porn on your computer — and might not realize it until police knock at your door.

An Associated Press investigation found cases in which innocent people have been branded as pedophiles after their co-workers or loved ones stumbled upon child porn placed on a PC through a virus. It can cost victims hundreds of thousands of dollars to prove their innocence.

Their situations are complicated by the fact that actual pedophiles often blame viruses — a defense rightfully viewed with skepticism by law enforcement.

"It's an example of the old 'dog ate my homework' excuse," says Phil Malone, director of the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. "The problem is, sometimes the dog does eat your homework."

The AP's investigation included interviewing people who had been found with child porn on their computers. The AP reviewed court records and spoke to prosecutors, police and computer examiners.

One case involved Michael Fiola, a former investigator with the Massachusetts agency that oversees workers' compensation.

In 2007, Fiola's bosses became suspicious after the Internet bill for his state-issued laptop showed that he used 4 times more data than his colleagues. A technician found child porn in the PC folder that stores images viewed online.

Fiola was fired and charged with possession of child pornography, which carries up to five years in prison. He endured death threats, his car tires were slashed and he was shunned by friends.

Fiola and his wife fought the case, spending $250,000 on legal fees. They liquidated their savings, took a second mortgage and sold their car.

An inspection for his defense revealed the laptop was severely infected. It was programmed to visit as many as 40 child porn sites per minute — an inhuman feat. While Fiola and his wife were out to dinner one night, someone logged on to the computer and porn flowed in for an hour and a half.

Prosecutors performed another test and confirmed the defense findings. The charge was dropped — 11 months after it was filed.

The Fiolas say they have health problems from the stress of the case. They say they've talked to dozens of lawyers but can't get one to sue the state, because of a cap on the amount they can recover.

"It ruined my life, my wife's life and my family's life," he says.

The Massachusetts attorney general's office, which charged Fiola, declined interview requests.

At any moment, about 20 million of the estimated 1 billion Internet-connected PCs worldwide are infected with viruses that could give hackers full control, according to security software maker F-Secure Corp. Computers often get infected when people open e-mail attachments from unknown sources or visit a malicious Web page.

Pedophiles can tap viruses in several ways. The simplest is to force someone else's computer to surf child porn sites, collecting images along the way. Or a computer can be made into a warehouse for pictures and videos that can be viewed remotely when the PC is online.

"They're kind of like locusts that descend on a cornfield: They eat up everything in sight and they move on to the next cornfield," says Eric Goldman, academic director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University. Goldman has represented Web companies that discovered child pornographers were abusing their legitimate services.

But pedophiles need not be involved: Child porn can land on a computer in a sick prank or an attempt to frame the PC's owner.

In the first publicly known cases of individuals being victimized, two men in the United Kingdom were cleared in 2003 after viruses were shown to have been responsible for the child porn on their PCs.

In one case, an infected e-mail or pop-up ad poisoned a defense contractor's PC and downloaded the offensive pictures.

In the other, a virus changed the home page on a man's Web browser to display child porn, a discovery made by his 7-year-old daughter. The man spent more than a week in jail and three months in a halfway house, and lost custody of his daughter.

Chris Watts, a computer examiner in Britain, says he helped clear a hotel manager whose co-workers found child porn on the PC they shared with him.

Watts found that while surfing the Internet for ways to play computer games without paying for them, the manager had visited a site for pirated software. It redirected visitors to child porn sites if they were inactive for a certain period.

In all these cases, the central evidence wasn't in dispute: Pornography was on a computer. But proving how it got there was difficult.

Tami Loehrs, who inspected Fiola's computer, recalls a case in Arizona in which a computer was so "extensively infected" that it would be "virtually impossible" to prove what an indictment alleged: that a 16-year-old who used the PC had uploaded child pornography to a Yahoo group.

Prosecutors dropped the charge and let the boy plead guilty to a separate crime that kept him out of jail, though they say they did it only because of his age and lack of a criminal record.

Many prosecutors say blaming a computer virus for child porn is a new version of an old ploy.

"We call it the SODDI defense: Some Other Dude Did It," says James Anderson, a federal prosecutor in Wyoming.

However, forensic examiners say it would be hard for a pedophile to get away with his crime by using a bogus virus defense.

"I personally would feel more comfortable investing my retirement in the lottery before trying to defend myself with that," says forensics specialist Jeff Fischbach.

Even careful child porn collectors tend to leave incriminating e-mails, DVDs or other clues. Virus defenses are no match for such evidence, says Damon King, trial attorney for the U.S. Justice Department's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.

But while the virus defense does not appear to be letting real pedophiles out of trouble, there have been cases in which forensic examiners insist that legitimate claims did not get completely aired.

Loehrs points to Ned Solon of Casper, Wyo., who is serving six years for child porn found in a folder used by a file-sharing program on his computer.

Solon admits he used the program to download video games and adult porn — but not child porn. So what could explain that material?

Loehrs testified that Solon's antivirus software wasn't working properly and appeared to have shut off for long stretches, a sign of an infection. She found no evidence the five child porn videos on Solon's computer had been viewed or downloaded fully. The porn was in a folder the file-sharing program labeled as "incomplete" because the downloads were canceled or generated an error.

This defense was curtailed, however, when Loehrs ended her investigation in a dispute with the judge over her fees. Computer exams can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Defendants can ask the courts to pay, but sometimes judges balk at the price. Although Loehrs stopped working for Solon, she argues he is innocent.

"I don't think it was him, I really don't," Loehrs says. "There was too much evidence that it wasn't him."

The prosecution's forensics expert, Randy Huff, maintains that Solon's antivirus software was working properly. And he says he ran other antivirus programs on the computer and didn't find an infection — although security experts say antivirus scans frequently miss things.

"He actually had a very clean computer compared to some of the other cases I do," Huff says.

The jury took two hours to convict Solon.

"Everybody feels they're innocent in prison. Nobody believes me because that's what everybody says," says Solon, whose case is being appealed. "All I know is I did not do it. I never put the stuff on there. I never saw the stuff on there. I can only hope that someday the truth will come out."

But can it? It can be impossible to tell with certainty how a file got onto a PC.

"Computers are not to be trusted," says Jeremiah Grossman, founder of WhiteHat Security Inc. He describes it as "painfully simple" to get a computer to download something the owner doesn't want — whether it's a program that displays ads or one that stores illegal pictures.

It's possible, Grossman says, that more illicit material is waiting to be discovered.

"Just because it's there doesn't mean the person intended for it to be there — whatever it is, child porn included."

Copyright © 2009 Deseret News Publishing Co.

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Solar Decathlon 2009 | View Clip
11/04/2009
ArchitectureWeek

In mid-October 2009, twenty teams of engineering and architecture students erected houses on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for the biennial Solar Decathlon green building contest. After spending two years designing and building cutting-edge solar houses, the teams — mostly from North America — sought the designation of "most attractive, effective, and energy-efficient" for their structures.

Each house in this U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored biennial competition showcases the best principles of sustainable design by incorporating its architectural and engineering aspects into a unified equation of efficiency. The idea of the contest, as Decathlon Director Richard King put it, is "looking at a house as a total system that's integrated with renewable energy... from the beginning, so that it all works together and the house becomes part living organism, part living system."

Each team was judged on ten elements — hence the "decathlon" — including architecture, engineering and market viability. They also tried to measure up on communications, lighting design, hot water systems, comfort (indoor temperature and humidity maintenance), appliances, and home entertainment. This year, the "net metering" contest evaluated entries on how much extra energy they could feed back into the electrical grid.

Team Germany

Team Germany, consisting of students from the Technische Universität Darmstadt, was the overall winner for 2009, as it also was in 2007. The team's goal was to test the limits, in both extensiveness of photovoltaic surface and use of new technologies. The strategy worked: they scored in the top five in nine of the ten contests.

The team's house is sized up to regulations and sports solar-collectors on every available surface. An 11.1-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system composed of 40 single-crystal silicon panels lines the roof, and the walls are covered with 250 thin-film copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) panels, which are less efficient than silicon but perform better in cloudy conditions. The house produces twice as much energy as it needs, which earned the team the highest possible score in the net metering competition.

The interior of the cubic two-story home is kept comfortable with custom vacuum insulation panels that line the facade, and with phase-change materials inside the drywall — paraffin in the walls and salt hydrate in the ceiling. Those phase-change materials absorb and release heat when transforming from solid to liquid and vice versa. They are excellent insulators because they can store and then disperse large amounts of energy.

Automated louvers over the windows block the heat of the sun, and the heat pump system incorporates a boiler for heating and cooling and water heating.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Gable Home, the creation of the students from Illinois, who took second place overall, aimed to marry traditional homebuilding techniques with advanced technology. The team drew on the agricultural roots of the school's surroundings, designing a gabled house with barn-wood paneling, a barn-door-like sliding shade mechanism, and a deck made of wood from a grain elevator. The team won the contests for hot water, appliances, and home entertainment, and came in second in comfort, lighting design, and net metering.

Despite only half the peaked roof facing south, the solar panels generated up to 9.1 kilowatts of direct current power. Gable Home is so energy-efficient — using 90 percent less energy than an average house — that the solar panels produce four times the energy needed.

Tremendous energy savings accrue from the nearly 12 inches (30 centimeters) of high-performance insulation incorporated into the walls, roof, and floor; a high-efficiency HVAC system custom-made to meet the minimal needs of the small home; a hot water system heat exchanger; and LED lighting. The team expects that the structure will be certified by the U.S. Passive House Institute in Urbana, Illinois.

Team California

The team from California, combining the efforts of students from Santa Clara University and California College of the Arts, got third place overall, and took first in the architecture competition and second in engineering. Their offering, Refract House, was focused on linking interior and exterior spaces through the use of a J-shaped, window-focused design. Guests could use their phones to text a code or scan a barcode to learn about the home's features.

The house is designed like a bent paperclip, with sections of the structure wrapping around a central patio. This setup focuses the interior on south-facing vistas, which make the home seem larger. In the warm California summers, the patio can be incorporated into a spacious indoor-outdoor living space.

The house makes such good use of sunshine that it has almost no need for heating, and a solar thermal absorption chiller supplies radiant cooling panels and provides waste heat used to warm water for the solar hot water system. The roof carries an 8.1-kilowatt PV system in one unbroken plane.

Team Ontario/ British Columbia

One of two Canadian teams in the decathlon, Team Ontario/ BC came in fourth overall with a small home fit for northern climes. Unable to depend on rooftop solar panels year-round, the team of students from three institutions — University of Waterloo, Ryerson University, and Simon Fraser University — focused instead on lower-elevation solar collection by installing an 11.9-kilowatt system of floor-to-ceiling PV panels on the outer walls. The panels alternated with quadruple-glazed windows on the south, east, and west sides, contributing to the team's goal of creating a strong link between indoors and out.

North House makes ample use of advanced energy-efficiency technologies, such as evacuated-tube solar collectors connected to cascading warm-water storage, R-60 insulation, flooring insulated with salt hydrate phase-change material, and automated window louvers. A notable feature of the house is the computerized "living interface system" that allows residents to control their energy expenditure via desktop and mobile devices.

King, the event director, praised the 2009 entrants for their efforts. "These students learned the subject very well," he says. "They're going to go out and assimilate into industry with all this knowledge and all this know-how behind them. They're also pushing technology — there's a lot of innovation out here."

While only one team can go home the winner every two years, all the contestants benefit from taking on the challenges of the Solar Decathlon.

The primary sponsor of the Solar Decathlon is the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, with its National Renewable Energy Laboratory and private-sector sponsors: Applied Materials, BP, Pepco, and Schneider Electric, among others.

The panel of judges for the 2009 Solar Decathlon was organized by topic. Architecture: Kevin Burke, Jonathan Knowles, Sarah Susanka. Engineering: Richard Bourne, David Click, Ted Prythero. Market viability: James Ketter, Joyce Mason, Paul Waszink. Lighting design: Nancy Clanton, Ron Kurtz, Naomi Miller. Communications: Maureen McNulty, Jaime Van Mourik, Alan Wickstrom.

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31 Sneaky Mood Boosters | View Clip
11/03/2009
Redbook

Want to feel happier today, tomorrow and for the rest of your life? OK, OK, dumb question—of course you do!

But how? It turns out that some of your basic, everyday choices—what to eat, when to snack, what vitamins to take, how to exercise (or not)—have profound effects on your mood. Making small changes may even alleviate serious depression (which 25 percent of all women experience at some point) as well as garden-variety blues and blahs.

For example, researchers at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., recently pitted the antidepressant Zoloft against exercise in a study of 156 subjects and found that 45 minutes of exercise three times a week worked just as well as the drug in treating depression and better than the drug in keeping the condition from returning. Regular moderate workouts and a healthy diet also reduce stress, anxiety and fatigue—three underlying causes of So here's the plan: Try a new tip each day. Work through the month, accumulating more changes as you go and make over your mood—to happy!

1. Believe in what you're doing.

Convincing yourself that by working out you're doing something positive for yourself can be as important to boosting your mood as the exercise itself, according to Thomas G. Plante, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Santa Clara University in California. In one of his recent studies, 60 subjects exercised for a single session. Those who were told about the benefits of exercise before working out were better able to cope with stress and anxiety (key mood wreckers) than those who were not.

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Team California Wins Third Place in the 2009 Solar Decathlon with Help of Jesuit Mentor | View Clip
10/30/2009
National Jesuit News

Team California, comprised of students from Santa Clara University, got its day in the sun after winning second place in engineering and third place overall at the U.S. Department of Energy's 2009 Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C. The students beat top universities such as Tufts University, Rice University and Cornell University, making their home one of the most energy-efficient, beautiful and comfortable solar-powered homes in the world. The judges described Team California's 800-square-foot house, called Refract House, as masterfully executed, exquisite and well designed.

Read more about Team California's win here.

Helping lead the team to its win was Jesuit Father Jim Reites, faculty member at SCU. With his endless supply of energy, infectious laugh and no-nonsense, do-whatever-it-takes-to-get-the-job-done attitude, Reites is an essential and beloved member of the team who has been inspiring students at SCU since he joined the community in 1975.

Allison Kopf, '11, student project leader for the '09 team, calls Reites “one of the most enthusiastic, hard-working people I've ever met. His pride in the project and excitement about the process encourage students to work to their fullest.” James Bickford, BSME '08, who led the student team to their third place victory in 2007, agrees: “Father Reites is the Energizer Bunny of the Solar Decathlon program. He is an all-around great guy with a big heart, can-do spirit, and energy becoming that of a 20-year-old.”

Read more about Fr. Reites' work with the SCU Solar Decathlon team here.

You can also view a video of Fr. Reites speaking about Team California at SCU's website:
http://www.scu.edu/news/videos/Reites-Talks-About-Team-California.cfm

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NorCal Innocence Project Scores $2.4 Million Grant | View Clip
10/27/2009
Legal Pad, a Cal Law Blog

A Santa Clara lawyer and wrongful-conviction crusader recently got good news from the feds in the form of big money — and that means good news for some innocent inmates locked up in California's prisons.

Kathleen “Cookie” Ridolfi, executive director of the Northern California Innocence Project at Santa Clara University School of Law, sounds pumped about the $2.4 million federal grant the project is sharing to administer a massive new DNA testing program.

“It's the biggest project of its kind in the country,” Ridolfi said. “This is really groundbreaking work.”

What is the PCDNATAP, and how does it get someone out of prison? After the jump.

The National Institute of Justice is funding the grant, which the NCIP is sharing with the California Innocence Project at California Western School of Law in San Diego.

The money for the 18-month program, called the Post-Conviction DNA Testing Assistance Program, will go toward hiring new staff at the NCIP, including four lawyers, two paralegals and a director. The Department of Corrections will help them identify inmates in forcible rape and non-negligent-homicide cases. Inmates who maintain their innocence and want their cases to be considered can send questionnaires to the NCIP in self-addressed envelopes.

If DNA results suggest inmates couldn't have committed the crimes, staff at the two innocence projects will pursue the cases with the courts and local district attorney's offices.

“People sometimes say, ‘If they're innocent, they would have applied [already],'” Ridolfi said. “That's not true. Inmates sometimes just give up and they don't bother anymore. Or they're limited in their ability to communicate in writing, or they don't read very well. They don't have the same access.”

— Kate Moser

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Worldwide Day of Climate Action | View Clip
10/24/2009
KPFA-FM

International day of action to take a stand for a safe climate future. People in more than 180 countries honored the day of action at more than 5,000 events with the common theme of the number 350. The number represents 350 parts per million, which is a safe level for carbon emissions in the atmosphere to allow life on Earth to continue as we know it.

David Popalisky, director of Santa Clara's dance program, was interviewed about why he and other faculty decided to get involved by organizing an event at SCU.

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Gordon Young Discusses His New York Times Article on Flint, Mich. on WDET | View Clip
08/20/2009
WDET-FM

Freelance Journalist Gordon Young discusses his New York Times profile of Flint, Michigan's Carriage Town neighborhood with Flint resident Michael Freeman on Detroit Today, the public affairs program at WDET 101.9 FM, the NPR affiliate at Wayne State University in Detroit.

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Faded Glory: Polishing Flint's Jewels | View Clip
08/20/2009
New York Times

ERIN CAUDELL is house-hunting in Flint, Mich., a city with a rapidly shrinking population, thousands of vacant structures and a 28.6 percent unemployment rate.

Ms. Caudell, 31, a horticulturalist, has focused her search on Carriage Town, the neighborhood where she leases a blue two-story house with pink and purple trim that she shares with three friends, paying $300 a month for her rent and utilities. Ms. Caudell hopes to find a home that won't cost more than $50,000, including renovation expenses.

She's drawn to the affordable prices, historic architecture and sense of community in Carriage Town, just across the river from the city's downtown. Ms. Caudell, who grew up in nearby Burton, also likes the easy commute to her job as an outreach program coordinator with the Ruth Mott Foundation, where she promotes urban gardening and local beautification.

“I love old houses,” she said. “I want the character and the history you can't get from a new cookie-cutter house.”

But she has one concern that is surprising given Flint's well-documented economic malaise: she is worried that Carriage Town will become too gentrified.

“I don't want to live in an area that's like a suburb,” Ms. Caudell said. “I don't want Carriage Town to become the hip neighborhood. I like it the way it is now.”

In a city that is synonymous with faded American industrial and automotive power, Carriage Town's success is both unexpected and inspiring. A persistent group of long-term urban homesteaders — along with newer arrivals eager to live near a downtown showing signs of life — has restored dozens of Victorian-era houses and buildings in the last 20 years. While many Flint neighborhoods feel all but abandoned, in Carriage Town home ownership has increased 10 percent over the last decade, according to Census data.

In a worldwide recession, development projects with more than $47 million in public and private financing are in progress or recently completed in the 30-square-block Carriage Town area, including the conversion of the derelict Berridge Hotel into lofts and the ongoing renovation of the long-vacant Durant Hotel into 93 apartments and commercial space. There are even plans for a neighborhood grocery store.

But there's no denying that Carriage Town is a work in progress, and that those who call it home must deal with challenges like speculators, abandoned houses and lack of code enforcement by the cash-strapped city.

While it is racially and economically diverse, there are few African-American homeowners. Many empty houses sit beside pristinely restored homes. Residents also remember AutoWorld and other once-promising redevelopment failures immortalized two decades ago in Michael Moore's film “Roger & Me.”

Ken Van Wagoner owns two houses and runs the Good Beans Cafe, which has served as the primary gathering spot for Carriage Town residents since it opened in 2000.

“I'm excited about all the new projects, but I'm also a little wary,” he said. “I can't help wondering if it will all last. In the same breath, I want Carriage Town to succeed more than anybody.”

Seven years ago, Rebecca Fedewa and Nathan Murphy paid $90,000 for a property that takes up five city lots. Standing near the hot tub on the back deck of their two-story cornflower-blue house, the couple can take in their herb and vegetable garden, compost heap and the various fruit trees and berry bushes they planted in the yard, where their two dogs have plenty of room to run.

“I grew up in Lansing, and when I told people I was moving to Flint they were like, ‘Are you kidding me?' ” said Ms. Fedewa, 36, the executive director of the Flint River Watershed Coalition. “But we never had a lot of apprehension about moving here. When we lived in various suburbs, we were never engaged in our community at all.”

They decided to buy in part because she liked being able to walk to her office in downtown Flint. They haven't been disappointed.

“Now we know everybody,” she said. “You have a hard time getting your yard work done because people stop by to talk. You really feel like you're part of something.”

Mr. Murphy, a 38-year-old environmental policy analyst with the Michigan Senate Democrats who commutes to Lansing, says he sometimes gets surprised reactions when he tells people he lives near downtown Flint. He likes to respond that he has a half-acre of land and can still walk to the Soggy Bottom Bar.

“The entire time we've been here, the state has drifted through a recession year after year, yet things have slowly gotten better in Carriage Town,” Mr. Murphy said. “Now the rest of the country has caught our recession, but the big projects are starting to come through here and it seems like things are picking up faster than ever.”

Carriage Town was once a thriving residential and manufacturing area, home to the carriage-making industry. But by the 1980s, it had the highest crime rate in a city consistently ranked among the most dangerous in the country, as well as a decaying collection of historic structures.

The ill-fated AutoWorld theme park played an unexpected role in spurring Carriage Town's revival. Anticipating that the neighborhood could become a tourist attraction, the city helped restore Water Street, which had a few dilapidated carriage factories and a crumbling brick building considered the birthplace of the General Motors Corporation.

When AutoWorld closed soon after it opened in 1984, Carriage Town's recovery was largely left to residents committed to saving housing stock that included Queen Annes, Greek revivals and American foursquares.

David White and Nick Hoffman were among them. The couple had been in their first Carriage Town home, a battered Queen Anne, for only a few days in 1983 when yelling woke them up. They watched several men hustle the manager of a nearby apartment building through the darkened street.

“They were literally dragging him along by his necktie,” Mr. White said. “They stuffed him into the trunk of a car and roared off around the corner. We had no idea what to do. We didn't even have phone service yet. I remember thinking, ‘What have we gotten ourselves into?' ”

When the manager reappeared the next day, his arm in a sling, Mr. White drew on the ample reserves of optimism demanded of anyone trying to improve Flint at the time. “Well, at least he didn't die,” he thought.

He and Mr. Hoffman quickly realized they needed to save more than their house, which was once owned by Charles W. Nash, a president of G.M. and the founder of Nash Motors.

“All of a sudden, we became community activists,” he said. “We had a lot to fight: the prostitutes, the drug dealers, the petty thieves and the slumlords.”

They helped create a neighborhood association, organized huge yearly cleanups and eventually rehabbed several different homes.

Michael Freeman, who has lived in the neighborhood for 15 years, credits the two men with saving Carriage Town. “David and Nick were very persuasive in convincing new people to buy in the neighborhood,” he said. “They laid the groundwork for everything that's happening now.”

Mr. Freeman was a 24-year-old AmeriCorps volunteer when he and his partner, Perry Compton, bought their first house in Carriage Town in 1994.

Their battle-scarred, 3,850-square-foot Carpenter Gothic home was just a block from the site of an old dairy once run by Mr. Freeman's family. The couple loved the architecture, the historical connection and the price — $25,000.

“We signed a purchase agreement two weeks after we spotted it,” said Mr. Freeman, now a senior program officer at the local field office of L.I.S.C., a national nonprofit group that helps local residents transform distressed neighborhoods and has helped finance various Carriage Town projects. “Fortunately, I was young and stupid. There's been some agony, but that's what wine is for, right?”

Their house — a 12-room home built by a transplanted New York businessman in 1872 — had been chopped up into five apartments. Mr. Freeman and Mr. Compton lived in one unit and rented out the rest to cover the mortgage, restoring parts of the home as tenants moved out. They connected with a third-generation plasterer who taught Mr. Compton the trade before he died. The pair became experts in everything from faux finishes to boiler repair.

Today, after $100,000 worth of restoration, the house has elaborate plaster work and a 1790 fireplace salvaged from a London hotel. The yard is lush; Mr. Freeman returned home one evening to find a deer nibbling at his lilac bushes.

“The neighborhood is so radically different now,” he said. “I have to laugh when I hear the things some of the newcomers complain about. They don't realize what it used to be like.”

Locals point to the renovation of the Berridge Hotel as an important element in Carriage Town's upswing. When its 99 rooms were renting for $19 a night, the Berridge was well known as a haven for people plying the drug and sex trades, and as housing of last resort for some of Flint's poorest citizens, including recent parolees.

“The residents basically had the private-sector equivalent of a jail cell,” said Dan Kildee, chairman of the Genesee County Land Bank and the county treasurer. “They didn't have a bathroom, they didn't have a sink and they didn't have a kitchen. It was a living situation that forced them out onto the street and into the neighborhood on a daily basis. It wasn't good for the residents and it wasn't good for Carriage Town.”

The bank cobbled together $6.2 million from 18 different sources to transform the Berridge into 17 apartments, now almost all rented, and to renovate the Tinlin House, a Craftsman-style four-unit apartment building next door. The project was completed last December.

“The new Berridge is a monumental change,” said Mr. Hoffman, who is no longer living with Mr. White, although both remain involved with the neighborhood. Mr. Hoffman runs the Carriage Town Antiques Center and owns Hoffman's Deco Deli and Café with two sons from an early marriage.

Working behind the deli counter, Heath Hoffman, his son, added, “We get everyone in here from college kids to church ladies now.”

Despite all the changes, residents new and old display a fierce devotion to their neighborhood.

“We're very passionate about Carriage Town, and we don't give up,” said Leanne Barkus, 43, who moved from Ann Arbor in 2000 to buy a two-story house for $63,000, and later acquired a pair of adjacent lots.

“I knew everyone within a month of moving in,” Ms. Barkus said. “If I need a jump for my car in the winter, I've got 20 people I can call. Four neighbors have my house keys. Whoever thought you could have that in Flint?”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: September 10, 2009
A map on Aug. 20 with an article about the preservation of historic houses in the Carriage Town neighborhood of Flint, Mich., gave incorrect boundaries for the area. They are Fifth Avenue on the north, North Saginaw Street on the east, the Flint River on the south, and Begole Street and Atwood Stadium on the west.

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Gordon Young Discusses Flint, Mich. Mayoral Race on WDET | View Clip
08/03/2009
WDET-FM

Freelance Journalist Gordon Young discusses the Flint, Michigan mayor's race on Detroit Today, the public affairs program at WDET 101.9 FM, the NPR affiliate at Wayne State University in Detroit.

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Can Anyone Run This Place? | View Clip
08/03/2009
Slate.com

The winner of this city's Aug. 4 special mayoral election will be expected to solve problems caused by complex global economic forces that he or she is powerless to control, while also mastering the mundane yet vexing task of running a weary city in need of jobs and revenue. Hey, I got a pothole on my block, and the garbage truck missed my house yesterday. And while you're at it, could you please do something about deindustrialization?

While Flint may be emblematic of the problems facing the country's manufacturing base, so-called "Vehicle City" is unique in the magnitude of its decline. In the 1970s, the birthplace of General Motors had one of the highest per capita incomes in the United States. Now more than one-third of residents live in poverty. After the loss of nearly 80,000 GM jobs over the last three decades, Flint has landed on the Forbes lists of "most miserable cities" and "fastest-dying cities." (Alas, the clever editors at Forbes keep no such tally for business magazines.)

All of which raises the question: Why would anyone want this job? The odds of success seem slim, and it's hardly a reliable political stepping stone. On the other hand, if Flint has already lived through the apocalypse, then things can only get better. And there is this: Retail politics, even in a decaying city like Flint, have an undeniable appeal—as does political power, however diminished.

When the two candidates talk about the city made famous by Michael Moore, it's clear they take Flint's demise personally. "It's my hometown, and no matter where I've lived I have a special place in my heart for this city," says Dayne Walling, a 35-year-old former Rhodes scholar who has never before held elected office. "It's terrible to see this kind of suffering inflicted on a community. It's wrong. It shouldn't happen anywhere in this country. So I'm committed to being part of the solution."

His opponent is Brenda Clack, a 64-year-old grandmother, former state representative and current county commissioner. "It is the worst of times, but a leader leads in good times and in bad," she says. "I feel that people who have stayed in Flint, who have hung on, who have persevered deserve a leader of integrity."

One of the two Democrats will replace Don Williamson, a convicted felon-turned-multimillionaire who resigned in February to avoid a recall election that was likely to remove him from office. (Appropriately enough, the mayor of Vehicle City got sent up for a car-theft scheme and made his post-prison fortune manufacturing bumpers.) "The Don" is a tough act to follow. He sought to reverse Flint's economic misfortune by installing a drag strip on a city street, only to drop the idea when liability issues proved overwhelming. But that ill-advised venture probably cost the city less than the lawsuit that resulted after the mayor had a paper carrier arrested for delivering the Flint Journal and its unflattering editorials to City Hall.

Walling cruised to victory in a May primary with 45 percent of the vote. He was the only white candidate in a field of six. Clack finished a distant second with 16 percent.

Clack promises to implement a "survival plan" for the city to stabilize the budget and stave off receivership by the state, which briefly took over the city in 2002. She plans to secure federal dollars to help close a budget gap and rehire laid-off police as well as create an economic and jobs task force. "You can only understand the pulse of this city if you've been here and been a part of it," she says.

It's a veiled reference to Walling, who—like many other locals—left Flint after high school. He attended Michigan State University and earned a master's degree in urban affairs from the University of London. He then worked for the mayor of Washington and studied community and economic development in Minnesota before returning to Flint to take on Williamson in 2007.

It was not the ideal race for a rookie candidate with wonkish tendencies returning home after a long absence. Walling, who has a lot of nervous energy and can come off as awkwardly earnest on the campaign trail, went up against an outspoken politician fully at ease with himself. Unapologetically portraying Walling as a carpetbagger and drawing solid support from the city's majority African-American population, Williamson won by 581 votes.

Walling also has a specific plan to revitalize Flint's moribund economy. He wants to build growth around the city's existing colleges and universities, including a University of Michigan campus; promote neighborhood businesses; and draw some manufacturing jobs back to the 1,500 empty acres once home to factories.

He is actively courting black voters—the same voters Clack needs to pull off an upset. Walling held an open house on a recent Saturday at a strategically placed satellite campaign office in the city's Civic Park district, where abandoned homes and overgrown lots battle occupied dwellings for supremacy. Vera Rison—a local political icon who served as a county commissioner and state legislator—was the guest of honor. Her endorsement is a coup for Walling. "Auntie Vera," nearly blind at 70 and wearing a sharp blue blazer and stylish pink shoes, snacked on a plate of peanuts while holding court at a table near the front of the room.

"I do feel in my heart that Dayne Walling will commit himself to the city," Rison told me as I crouched beside her. "I want a new direction for Flint. That's what it's about, sweetheart. Thank you."

The interview apparently over, a friend guided Rison slowly outside to a pearl-colored Cadillac parked in front. Walling gave Auntie Vera a tentative hug and kissed her on the cheek before she settled into the passenger seat for the ride home.

Clack, for her part, dismisses the significance of endorsements and the primary results. "Yes, Walling got 45 percent of the vote, but the rest of the pie was divided among five candidates," she said. "I'm pulling those votes in now. My record shows I've endeavored to help all the people of this community—not just some of them—and they'll remember that. They'll be there for me."

Twenty supporters were there for her at a banquet room in the north end of the city for a Clack-sponsored Juneteenth celebration. There were hamburgers, fruit salad, poetry readings, and a performance by Dance Ministry—three teenage girls wearing matching black skirts and purple shirts from the Grace Emmanuel Baptist Church.

The Rev. Allen Overton, a former student of Clack's when she taught economics at Northwestern High School in the 1980s, delivered the invocation. "Miss Clack understands financing and budgets," he later told me. "She can motivate people. She got me to work in high school, so you know she's good."

Denise Ford, a local singer who performs as DeVynne and has opened for Mary J. Blige and The Emotions, wrapped up the entertainment with an impressive rendition of "That's What Friends Are For." It included a heartfelt, spoken-word interlude: "Be sure to vote for Brenda Clack because she'll always be there for you." I'm pretty sure it's the first time Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick have been enlisted in a Flint mayoral campaign. The crowd clapped loudly and Clack teared up, dabbing her eyes with a napkin before she embraced DeVynne.

But for me, the highlight—if that's the word—of covering this campaign came when Clack and Walling momentarily joined forces at the Landmark Food Center, the kind of grocery store where a security guard roams the fluorescently lit aisles and customers are required to check their bags at the counter. Flanked by displays of breakfast cereal, the two candidates judged a Kool-Aid-making contest sponsored by three local churches.

The mixologists tried mightily to influence their decision. "Taste No. 4 and taste no more!" one contestant yelled out, prompting a round of cheering from two dozen spectators gathered around a pair of tables covered with neon-green tablecloths and littered with plastic pitchers, spent Kool-Aid packs, and sacks of sugar. "No. 5 tells no lies!" countered another contestant. Clack and Walling sipped from foam cups and huddled over the score sheet.

Terese Cole, a 51-year-old former GM employee wearing a tidy skirt and flower-patterned top, was the exuberant winner of $100 and a trophy, which she proudly held aloft. "This is a great event," said Landmark owner Mark Kattola, the only person in a jacket and tie. "I've been here in the community 34 years." I asked whether he lives nearby, trying to get a gauge on Flint's rapidly changing demographics.

"Well, I actually live in Grand Blanc," he said with a tight smile, inadvertently illustrating one of the city's myriad problems. Thousands have left Flint in search of out-of-state jobs or relocated to unfortunately named suburban enclaves like Grand Blanc and Flushing. The population is expected to dip to 100,000 in the next census, half of what it was in the mid-1960s.

Walling is a rarity: someone who left Flint and came back. Surrounded by his wife and two young sons outfitted in black campaign T-shirts, he seemed genuinely enthused by the contest. "That was fun!" he said. A few feet away, Clack put her arm around a contestant who didn't finish in the money. After more than three decades as a teacher in Flint, she knows how to read a crowd and how to console. "You did a nice job, young man," she said to a guy who could be in his mid-20s. "You can be proud of yourself."

For a moment, the mayor's race almost seemed secondary. And fixing Flint could wait a while. We were just a bunch of people enjoying some air-conditioned camaraderie on a gloomy midsummer day. Or maybe I just drank too much of the Kool-Aid.

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Gordon Young Discusses the Rebranding of Flint, Mich. | View Clip
07/07/2009
WDET-FM

Freelance Journalist Gordon Young discusses Flint, Michigan's attempt to rebrand itself as a college town on Detroit Today, the public affairs program at WDET 101.9 FM, the NPR affiliate at Wayne State University in Detroit.

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4 BR, 3.5 BA, Grm Ftr | View Clip
06/18/2009
Slate.com

I'm sleeping on the floor of a friend's vacant house in a neighborhood on the edge of downtown marked by Victorian-era homes in various stages of restoration, overgrown lots landscaped with "ghetto palms," and boarded-up fire traps. There's a drug house around the corner, and someone keeps depositing an empty pint bottle of Seagram's Wild Grape in the front yard. (For the uninitiated, it's "extra smooth premium grape flavored vodka.")

Hardwood floors are as advertised, and my Therm-a-Rest and L.L. Bean sleeping bag aren't exactly doing the trick. A loud thud scared me sleepless at 2 a.m., and I finally drifted off snuggling a bat I bought at a thrift store my first day in town. A siren served as an alarm clock this morning.

But before I try to pawn myself off as a minor league George Orwell writing a Rust Belt version of Down and Out in Paris and London, allow me this observation: The house where I'm "camping" is the fully restored former home of Charles W. Nash, the president of GM in 1912. Unlike many of Flint's empty houses, it has plumbing and electricity. Inexplicably, the house is painted pink, destroying any chance I had of establishing myself as some kind of Buick City Bukowski.

It's been 20 years since Michael Moore established the birthplace of General Motors as a town where residents sell rabbits for "pets or meat" to survive. Roger & Me premiered around the time I left my hometown of Flint, and I eventually settled in San Francisco. Today, Flint has a double-digit unemployment rate, and local leaders are floating a plan to systematically shrink the city by bulldozing houses and "re-naturalizing" neighborhoods.

I've returned on a quixotic mission. I'm here to buy a house.

As the veteran of a brutal San Francisco home-buying odyssey, there's no denying the appeal of a place where desperate Realtors sometimes offer up houses by the dozen. But this is more than a quest for cheap housing. I have an almost unhealthy attachment to Flint. I want to do something—anything—to help my hometown. Maybe a "summer place" in what has been ranked one of America's most depressing cities can pump a little life into the local economy. And I fear that after 15 years in San Francisco—sometimes described as 49 square miles surrounded on all sides by reality—I'm losing touch with my roots, drifting uncomfortably far from the factory town my grandparents moved to at the turn of the 20th century.

How do I know this? Sometimes I fret about the high price of organic avocados. After growing up driving a Buick Electra 225, I now own a gutless four-cylinder Toyota Camry. And then there's the fact that I'm so jittery in the place where I grew up that I'm sleeping with a bat.

***

I spend a rainy Monday morning driving around Flint with two local real estate agents in the cramped confines of a lime-colored Jeep Rubicon. Jennifer Tremaine is at the wheel, and Ryan Eashoo, who bought his first Flint home when he was just 17, is folded into the back seat. It's a queasy mix of nostalgia, tanking property values, and mild motion sickness.

The first thing we establish is that the infamous eBay houses going for $1,000 or less are in the most Dresden-esque high-crime areas, including my old neighborhood of Civic Park. Plumbing, windows, or an intact roof are highly unlikely. Besides, there are plenty of immaculate smaller homes in fairly decent spots where you can actually venture outside after dusk. We look at one with just under 1,000 square feet on Cadillac Street near Kettering University. It sold for $54,000 in 2003; somebody picked it up in February for $7,000 in a short sale.

But who wants to look at modest homes originally built for autoworkers when you've got a Californian in the Jeep? We soon find ourselves in Flint's best neighborhood, off Miller Road, an enclave of mansions and high-end houses built with GM lucre. During my unfortunate Great Gatsby phase in high school—when I embarrassingly wore saddle shoes and patchwork pants—I longed to live in one of these places instead of our modest home with faded green aluminum siding. I spot the sprawling house of a childhood friend, complete with an in-ground pool. I ask Jennifer if the family still lives there.

"Nope, we sold that to a stripper last year for a buck-90," she says.

"You mean like an exotic dancer?" I ask. "For $190,000?"

"Oh yeah, she got a good deal. I tell you, if you have a decent job, do what you're supposed to do with your money, save your pennies, and pay off your bills, you can have the world by the tail in Flint."

(I look up the specs on the house later that day: 5 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, 3 fireplaces, 1.6 landscaped acres, 3,870 square feet.)

A few minutes later I'm standing in the marble foyer of a nearby house owned by the former editor of the Flint Journal, which recently cut publishing to three days a week and laid off a big chunk of the editorial staff. He's moved on to a job in Ann Arbor, but his 3,159-square-foot house, with a new kitchen, a chandelier in the dining room, and inlaid mahogany floors, sits unsold. It's listed at $236,000. Using the stripper's place as a benchmark, I feel confident saying that the newspaper industry will post record profits before he gets that price.

"People ask me why I live in Flint," Eashoo says as he takes in the beamed ceiling and fireplace in the large den. "Besides the fact that I love it here, it's so cheap! I mean, you can afford to go to Florida on vacation or Chicago on the weekend."

***

As much as I want to avoid being one of those San Franciscans who works his personal real estate narrative into every conversation, in Flint I can't help it. I find myself telling people that my girlfriend and I unsuccessfully bid on nine houses—once getting outbid by $123,000—in our quest to break into the bottom bracket of the market in 2004. We were only preapproved for $550,000, I explain, and we didn't want to fork over our life savings for a down payment.

I try to build suspense by lowering my voice as I say we were about ready to give up when we lucked into a 700-square-foot house in Bernal Heights. The owner had rehabbed the place herself, and all the other interested buyers were contractors who planned to tear it down and rebuild. We wrote a syrupy letter gushing that we fell in love with the house the moment we saw it and that we'd be honored to live in a place so lovingly restored. (We didn't mention the $25,000 in foundation work we knew it needed or the fact the place shook when you walked through it too quickly.)

I consider this a triumphant tale, proof that a couple with a combined household income well south of $100,000 can conquer the Bay Area real estate market with thrift, hard work, and a series of very dubious no-interest loans. (A willingness to never eat out or to save for retirement also helps.) But it's clear Flintoids are left wondering how a seemingly bright guy educated in the local Catholic school system could be such a colossal dumb ass.

"Seven hundred square feet?" asks Bill Gainey, a commercial pilot I met at lunch one day who tools around Flint in a banged-up 1956 Buick Century. "My ballroom is bigger than that."

Yes, it appears the Hiram "Hardwood" Smith House, Bill's 7,200-square-foot residence in downtown Flint, does indeed have a ballroom. And a front door that's 11 feet high. And an entry hallway that's 40 feet long. And more than 70 windows, but who's counting? He sheepishly admits he paid $250,000 for it in 2007. He's a little embarrassed; he thinks he overpaid. And he clearly thinks I'm a little nuts.

He may be right on both counts.

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