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April 2008

Cat Lady of Baghdad Saves Strays in Iraq

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 (AP)
The `Cat Lady of Baghdad' battles on, saving strays of Iraq
By BRADLEY BROOKS, Associated Press Writer

(04-29) 15:14 PDT BAGHDAD (AP) --The mission was to get Simba al-Tikriti out of Iraq and to a new life in Britain. First, a roadside bomb nearly wiped out the taxi heading to the border with Kuwait. The next step was to hide under tarps in the back of a truck. More hardship awaited: six months caged by authorities in England. But freedom eventually came for Simba, who walked away from captivity with tail held high. So began the improbable work of the self-proclaimed CAT LADY OF BAGHDAD


DUI on a Golf Cart, Police Give Chase

2:05 p.m. - A caller from the 13000 block of Towhee Court reported hearing screaming and the sound of glass breaking. A Lake Wildwood security guard reported two women were fighting over a dog.

6:03 p.m. - A caller from the 200 block of North School Street reported a squirrel was running around and around in circles for over an hour. The caller was worried the squirrel might be rabid. An Animal Control officer advised police it is breeding season for squirrels, which would explain the behavior.

8:35 p.m. A caller from Lakeshore North reported a drunk driver on a golf cart. The CHP responded and three people ran away.

8:55 p.m. - A caller from the 100 block of Maryland Drive reported a strong odor of marijuana was coming from somewhere in the neighborhood.

(Lyn Lossow scans the cop log from the Nevada City/Grass Valley Union, Calif., April 29)


Yee: Boycott Ultraviolent Grand Theft Auto Game

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Senator Yee Urges Parents to Avoid Latest Ultra-Violent Video Game. Latest Grand Theft Auto Video Game to Be Released Tuesday.

SACRAMENTO - Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), the author of California's law attempting to prohibit the sale of extremely violent video games to minors, today urged parents to avoid purchasing the latest graphically violent video game Grand Theft Auto (GTA) IV scheduled for release on Tuesday, April 29. GTA IV, the newest in the ultra-violent video game series, is expected to be the year's most popular game despite its rating of M (Mature) for adult audiences.

"It is imperative that parents avoid purchasing this game for their children and always review the video games their children are playing," said Yee, who is also a child psychologist. "Unfortunately, the makers of Grand Theft Auto have a history of deceiving the ratings board and
the public on the true content of their games. Parents beware: this game undoubtedly glorifies violence, is extremely realistic and designed for adults only."

In June 2005, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) and GTA's creator Rockstar, were involved in a multi-million dollar scandal called "Hot Coffee," in which Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, a game originally rated M by the ESRB, was found to have hidden animations allowing players to watch graphic scenes of oral sex, nudity, and simulated intercourse. The scandal resulted in the game being pulled from most store shelves, a $2.75 million class-action settlement, and the stocks of Rockstar's parent company (Take Two Interactive) losing nearly half their value.

The ESRB rates a game based solely on a short video clip and information supplied by the game's maker and does not actually play or review the full content of the game. While M-rated games are designed for adults, there is no prohibition to selling such games to children. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission reports that 42 percent of unaccompanied children 13 to 16 years of age can successfully purchase M-rated games.

In addition, a recent report by the National Institute on Media & the Family found complacency among retailers, parents and the gaming industry regarding video game rating awareness, enforcement and usage. Among the report's highlights was a retailer grade of C-, with national retailers receiving a D and rental stores collecting a failing (F) grade. The game industry as a whole received a C and the ESRB received a C+.

Yee's 2005 law to prohibit the sale of extremely violent video games to minors in California is currently being litigated in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. A bill authored by Yee in 2004, which has gone into effect, requires video game retailers to post signs informing consumers of the video game rating system.

Parents can learn more about GTA IV by visiting various online parental Resources, including WHAT THEY PLAY and PARENTS TV.

Adam J. Keigwin
Office of Senator Leland Y. Yee, Ph.D.
Assistant President pro Tem
California State Senate, District 8
(916) 651-4008
SENATOR YEE


RIPTIDE EXCLUSIVE: Coastside Scavenger Teeters on the Brink, City Proffers Prop-Up

RIPTIDE EXCLUSIVE BY LIONEL EMDE

An independent auditor’s report completed in April 2007 warned of financial trouble at Coastside Scavenger (CS): "... under existing circumstances, there is substantial doubt about the ability of Coastside Scavenger Company to continue as a going concern (as of) July 31, 2006." The same report calls into question Coastside Scavenger’s refusal to open the books on its sister company, Seacoast Disposal Co. A complete financial picture of CS was "not reasonably determinable" unless Seacoast’s books were looked into.

Seacoast Disposal Co. is owned by Coastside Scavenger and collects waste in communities south of Pacifica. CS holds the contract for waste collection in the City of Pacifica. In fact, CS requested that a paragraph be removed from the auditor’s report regarding a new accounting standard that would have required examination of Seacoast’s books. In a carefully worded statement, the auditor backed down from his earlier conclusion that the standard should apply. CS has fought from as far back as 1995 to keep Seacoast’s books from auditors.

CS reported a "bad debt" expense of more than $600,000 attributed to Seacoast in the two years ending July 2006, but because Seacoast’s books are closed to the auditors, there is no independent confirmation of this. More signs of possible financial trouble include:

•Liabilities exceeded assets by $787,000 in 2005 and more than $1 million in 2006.

•In July 2006, $256,000 in payroll tax obligations were reported delinquent.

•In April 2007, $280,000 in payroll tax obligations were reported delinquent.

•CS reported a net loss of $102,000 in the fiscal year ending in July 2006, and a cumulative deficit of $232,000 dating back to 2004.

•CS made no matching contributions to 401K plans in 2005-2006.

•CS abandoned plans for a new waste transfer facility in 2005, and wrote off $141,000 in consulting fees on the project.

•CS owner Louis Picardo took advances of more than $11,000 in 2005 and 2006 for which, the audit stated, "...there is no formal plan for repayment of these advances."

CS management responds in the auditor’s report by promising:

•Repayment of Seacoast’s "bad debt" write-offs.

•Loans from owner Louis Picardo of up to $1 million to his company (CS).

But the auditor warns after these promises are made: "Because it is unclear whether the Company will be successful in accomplishing these objectives or whether the shareholder (owner) will provide additional funding, there is uncertainty about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern."

HOW MUCH MORE?

As a result of a separate audit and rate increase review done by Hilton, Farnkopf & Hobson (HFH), CS’s request for a 12.1 percent increase in rates, retroactive to August 2007, was recommended to be cut to 8.62 percent, or almost $600,000.

But further complicating matters is the unresolved matter of $634,200 in CS ratepayer overcharges found by HFH in an earlier audit completed in 2006. The City of Pacifica has reached a tentative Settlement Agreement that calls for a 9.5 percent rate increase, which is further reduced to 7.87 percent by what the city staff calls a "recapture" of the past ratepayer overcharges.

This small discounting of rate increases would be implemented yearly over four years and account for $450,000 of the $634,200 in overcharges from 2001-2005. The city will not attempt to collect the remainder of overcharges or any interest accrued on them.

On Monday, April 28, a public hearing on this matter was held during the City Council meeting. Please watch this space and read the Pacifica Tribune for details on the outcome of the hearing.


 


Sunrise, Sunset

Downtown_pretoria_skyline_at_sunset

SEE JOEL MAYBURY'S PHOTO ALBUM IN OUR LOWER-LEFT SIDEBAR:
1. Abu Dhabi in the desert (sunset)
2. Mosque in North Khartoum (sunrise)
3. New bridge and downtown Khartoum (sunset)
4. New bridge and North Khartoum (sunset)
5. Dust storm or haboob in Khartoum (sunset)
6. Desert north of Khartoum (sunset)
7. Eaves on Rimbaud House in Harar, Ethiopia (sunset)
8. Venice (sunrise)
9. Venice (sunrise)
10. Venice (sunrise)
11. Venice (sunrise)
12. Sufi mosque in Omdurman, Sudan (sunset)
13. Downtown Pretoria, South Africa (sunset)