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News :: Media Criticism

IT hiring increasing in the United States

Information-technology employment is increasing, and the greatest expansion appears to be coming from computer-network design and related services, with Internet companies, software developers and even consumer-product firms hiring the skilled talent, experts tell UPI's Networking. By Gene Koprowski

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News :: Media Criticism

Unions Step Up Organizing of IT Workers, Outsourcing Fight

Workers of the tech world unite - unionize.

Is the IT workforce ripe for union membership? Recent splits in several large labor organizations, growing IT pessimism and the increasing strength of offshore outsourcing are fueling new efforts to attract information workers, insiders say.
There may be growing support among the workforce for such union representation. A union-backed survey released in late August revealed "increasing pessimism" among United States-based technology workers, who see less demand in the future for their skills.

"Clearly, the pixie dust for tech workers has worn off," said Marcus Courtney, president of WashTech/CWA, the Seattle-based alliance of technology workers that organized the national survey. By Gene Koprowski

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News :: Arts & Culture

Surfers plan protest of surf schools

"I was thinking, ‘I’m sick of surf schools,’" he said. "And I got to thinking of that lady, Cindy Sheehan, who’s protesting the Iraq war in front of President Bush’s ranch, and ‘bing!’"
Labor Day means back-to-school for kids and college students, but a group of Santa Cruz surfers is gearing up to rally against a different kind of school.

The of explosion of loudly colored beginner’s foam surfboards that’s bloomed in local surf spots in recent years may be a fun sight for tourists, but those who use the area’s breaks for their daily dose of surfing are increasingly not amused.

So unamused, in fact, that one of them, surfer Joe Henry of Santa Cruz, decided to organize a Labor Day protest against the widening number of surf schools and camps that he sees as bringing far too many students to the Pleasure Point area, choking out the peaks for the regular surfers, practicing poor surf etiquette and generally wrecking the fun and pleasure of the surf experience for the locals.

The protest is planned for 10 a.m. Monday, starting at the Hook at 41st Avenue, with protesters marching up to Pleasure Point and back for about an hour.

It all got started one recent night when Henry was lying awake in bed.

"I was thinking, ‘I’m sick of surf schools,’" he said. "And I got to thinking of that lady, Cindy Sheehan, who’s protesting the Iraq war in front of President Bush’s ranch, and ‘bing!’"

Why couldn’t he protest the surf schools, he thought?

The mushrooming number of surf-instruction outlets, including formal and informal schools, day camps, church groups, recreational courses and out-of-town instructors who bring their students to Santa Cruz, are one part of the equation.

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Another part, said Henry, whose home break is the Hook, is at least one established surf school owner, Richard Schmidt of Richard Schmidt Surf School Inc., who Henry said has violated previous verbal agreements not to bring too many students to the area.

"Richard has been abusing things, bringing three to four classes and a camp down," said Henry.

Schmidt admitted that there may have been some days when classes and camps have overlapped at the Hook.

"But I’m trying my best to ease their concerns," he said. "As far as me dropping in on them, I don’t think it happens a whole lot. If I’m not teaching etiquette, then what am I doing out there?"

Schmidt, who started his school 27 years ago, said he was aware of the planned protest and has talked with Henry and other organizers.

"I’m pretty sad," he said. "It’s like I’ve taught there for a long time and feel like I’ve done a pretty good job with it, and it seems like kind of a bummer that they’re taking it to this point."

Schmidt’s take is that he’s doing the area something of a community service, since surfing’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years and it’s better to have people taught properly, since they’re going to surf anyway.

"If they didn’t have schools down in the Pleasure Point area, it could be a lot worse," he said.

A combination of an exploding state and local population, the skyrocketing popularity of surfing and the "California lifestyle" with its resulting increase of surf instructors, the lack of a sandbar at Cowell’s for the past four years and many other factors have funneled teachers and students into the Pleasure Point area, according to Ed Guzman of Club Ed Surf School & Camps.

Guzman, who has run his surf school for 15 years, no longer takes his camps and students to Pleasure Point, seeking to avoid what he calls "Pressure Point." Things were already crowded a few years ago, and he decided to take summer students to the beaches south of town, where he has a contract with State Parks.

"So I don’t have to deal with angry crowds," he said, adding that the only teaching he’ll do at Pleasure Point is individual lessons.

Henry and others recognize the surf schools and classes are not going away, and they realize the ocean is everyone’s resource. But they say they’d like to see some regulation and limitation of student-to-instructor ratio and class size.

At the least, said Henry, he hopes the protest will spark a local, statewide or even nationwide conversation and prompt some problem-solving.

Schmidt said he’s more than willing to talk, offer potential solutions and find a compromise.

Bottom line, he said, it’s important to share and feel the positive vibe of the people who are learning.

"Surfing brings a lot to a lot of people," he said, "and there’s no reason people shouldn’t be able to share that experience."

The protest group will meet at 10 a.m. Monday at the Hook. For information, call Joe Henry at 469-9016.

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News :: Alternative Media : Peace & War

U.S. troops kill Reuters journalist in Iraq

U.S. confirms its troops killed Reuters journalist in Iraq
By Alastair Macdonald Thu Sep 1, 3:14 PM ET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military confirmed on Thursday that its soldiers killed a Reuters journalist in Iraq but said their action was "appropriate."



Describing Sunday's incident, when television soundman Waleed Khaled was killed by multiple shots, Major General Rick Lynch said: "That car approached at a high rate of speed and then conducted activity that in itself was suspicious. There were individuals hanging outside with what looked to be a weapon.

"It stopped and immediately put itself in reverse. Again suspicious activity. Our soldiers on the scene used established rules of engagement and all the training received ... decided that it was appropriate to engage that particular car.

"And as a result of that the driver was indeed killed and the passenger was hurt by shards of glass."

Reuters cameraman Haider Kadhem, 24, like Waleed an Iraqi, was slightly wounded by flying fragments but survived in the passenger seat of the car, only to be detained for the next three days by U.S. troops. Kadhem was using a small video camera.

Reuters Global Managing Editor David Schlesinger rejected any suggestion that the killing of Waleed was justified.

"The idea that the killing of a professional journalist doing his duty could be justified is repugnant to me," he said.

Lynch, senior spokesman for all U.S.-led forces in Iraq, said the investigation into the incident, by an officer from the army division involved in the shooting, had been concluded.

But a spokesman for the division said the report had not yet been formally completed and was not yet available.

Schlesinger called on the military to release the results of their inquiry as soon as possible so that Reuters could respond fully.

"To come to these conclusions without a full and independent investigation is rash and unwise," he added.

Lynch said soldiers reacted when they saw the car traveling "forward at a high rate of speed."

"That particular car looked like cars that we have seen in the past used as suicide bombs. It wasn't a new car, it was an older model car ... And there were two local nationals inside the car.

"Our soldiers took appropriate measures. We mourn the loss of life of all humans ... But our soldiers are trained to respond in those situations.

"Put yourself in the place of the soldiers, knowing that the insurgents, who have been known to use suicide bombs, suicide car bombs, suicide vests, to attack innocent civilians, will always have an attack and then respond to that attack when the first responders come forward. So our soldiers took appropriate action on that particular case."

Waleed Khaled, 35, had worked for Reuters in Baghdad for two years and was a key member of news teams working in the capital.

He was a much-loved colleague who left a wife who is four-months pregnant and a 7-year-old daughter.

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News :: Environment & Food : Poverty & Urban Development

20,000 Still Trapped In New Orleans

Though it appears that the evacuation of the Superdome is winding down, refugees remain trapped in the Convention Center and other parts of the city, according the Guardian's Sunday Edition.

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News :: Civil & Human Rights : Poverty & Urban Development

Criticism of Bush Mounts as More Than 10,000 Feared Dead

The UK Guardian reports in today's edition that at least 10,000 are feared dead in the wake of the hurricane disaster. U.S. media has reported that "help is on the way," but according to UK Guardian reports at the Conference Center, none had reached those people yet. Although people had been evacuated from the Superdome, most of them were evacuated to directly outside the building, now vulernable to heat and exposure.

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News :: Media Criticism

Carriers struggling to restore service

Price gougers move "wireless equipment" into devastated New Orleans


Wireless carriers are struggling to restore -- and in some cases, maintain -- networks in the Gulf Coast and New Orleans regions in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the most deadly natural disaster in U.S. history, experts tell UPI's Wireless World.
Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco at one point yesterday said all communications networks in the state were disabled. By Gene Koprowski

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News :: Civil & Human Rights : Environment & Food

Water May Linger for Months

[note: here's a quick review of facts that refute what President
Bush said this morning, that he/people hadn't known beforehand that the
levees might fail. By the way, the Bush admin has been dismantling FEMA. I
hope what's happening now will prompt a nationwide focus on the purpose of
government, and a national refresher course on what the terms homeland
security and national defense should mean. And while I'm on this rant, I
have not yet heard the President ask us all to conserve fuel. Let's see
what sort of leadership emerges now.]

Los Angeles Times

Water May Linger for Months
City pumps themselves are submerged, so officials must await nature's help.
Delays already have local officials on edge.
By Ralph Vartabedian
Times Staff Writer

September 1, 2005

Draining the billions of gallons of water that have inundated New Orleans
could take three to six months, substantially longer than some experts have
expected, the Army Corps of Engineers said late Wednesday.

Col. Richard Wagenaar, the corps' senior official in New Orleans, said that
the estimate was based on planning done as Hurricane Katrina approached and
that it remained the corps' best estimate. He is directing the agency's
recovery efforts.

The estimate depends on favorable weather. Additional rain or other problems
could cause more delays, Wagenaar warned.

"There is a lot of water here," he said. "The news cameras do not do it
justice. And I'm worried the worst is yet to come."

[note: I deleted the middle section here, that talks of what's
going on today]

New Orleans relies on the complex plumbing and flood control system to
protect a city that is as much as 10 feet below sea level but surrounded by
two lakes and a massive coastal flood plain as well as bisected by North
America's largest river. In much of the city, the Mississippi River flows in
an elevated levee above the city and above Lake Pontchartrain.

The city has two major levee systems, one that controls periodic flooding of
the Mississippi River and a second to protect against storm surges.

The river levees are nearly 100 years old, and corps officials are confident
they could handle any flood the Midwest could send its way. But the
hurricane barriers are another matter.

The storm wall system was begun in earnest 40 years ago, after Hurricane
Betsy pummeled New Orleans. After that storm, Congress passed the Flood
Control Act of 1965 and provided funds to increase the height of levees. But
the work was based on hurricane surge estimates created by the National
Weather Service. In recent years, it has become increasingly clear those
calculations vastly underestimated the city's vulnerability.

A mathematical model on storm surges pioneered by Notre Dame University
professor Joannes Westerink increased concern that the levee system was
exposing New Orleans to a major catastrophe in the case of any storm bigger
than a Category 3.

"In a slow-moving Category 5 hurricane, the levees are not going to hold,"
Westerink said.

As Katrina demonstrated, a Category 4 storm would also cause a massive
public works failure. And the problems facing the Louisiana coast are
growing more serious.

The levees and channels built to control the Mississippi River have diverted
sediments that would normally replenish the Mississippi Delta and allow the
region to slowly recover. At the same time, ocean levels are rising each
year, making the area more vulnerable to storm surges.

The vast coastal wetlands that once protected New Orleans have also
undergone development and environmental degradation.

The Bush administration last year downscaled a Louisiana request to upgrade
its storm protection system.

Naomi said the corps could build a system that would protect the entire city
without any natural barriers against even a Category 5 storm.

A $2-billion levee system, currently under study, could protect the
coastline east to the Mississippi state line, Naomi said. Depending on the
rate of spending, the system could take 30 years to build.

"We have far exceeded that amount of money in damages in just one storm
surge," he said.

Professor Joseph Suhayda, a Louisiana State University engineer, has in the
past advocated building a haven in the core of New Orleans with a high wall
to protect the central business district and key hospitals.

In this case, it would have given tens of thousands of residents access to a
dry island in the flood.

Suhayda's proposal was met with criticism.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Times staff writer Ellen Barry contributed to this report.

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