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Jan 29th
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Distressed Market Deals

Distressed Market Deals

Short sale and foreclosure buyers talk about their recent Santa Cruz purchases
When Gary and Sara Strands took possession of their home, everything from the kitchen stove to the air conditioner was missing. Kitchen cabinets, doors, and lighting and plumbing fixtures were all gone. There were holes in the walls and the toilets were backed up because the previous owners had also taken the water pump.

The Strands purchased their Santa Cruz home from the bank a year and a half ago, after the previous owners lost it in a foreclosure. They recently had the home appraised (so that they could refinance and drop their interest rate down from a 5.25 to a 4.25 percent fixed rate), and found that the house appraised for $300,000 more than their purchase price of $525,000. The owners who lost the property in foreclosure owed the bank $879,000, and Wells Fargo Bank took a $354,000 loss on the transaction.

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Environment

When It Rains, It Pours

When It Rains, It Pours

How ready are you for a flood?
Marilee French’s family has owned a vacation home in Capitola for 67 years. During that time, the house never flooded. But the downpour of torrential rain on Saturday, March 26, caused a pipe in Noble Gulch Creek to burst and a flash flood sent French frantically arranging for the transportation of her immobile 92-year-old mother, Eleanor, away from a rapidly flooding house.

“My mom and I came down for a nice quiet weekend at the beach to get away from the snow and we end up in a flood,” French says with an ironic laugh, noting thankfully that, despite property damages, all turned out well in the greater scheme of things. “This isn’t New Orleans for crying out loud—and it’s not Haiti, and it’s not Japan—so we’re grateful in a lot of ways, but sad for those who have had losses.”

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Town Hall

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

Town Hall with Congressman Sam Farr

What were your feelings when the U.S. entered into the military action in Libya? Would you consider it “war,” and, if so, what does it mean that the decision was not approved by congress?

There has been much debate, and equal amounts of confusion, about what the U.S. military intervention in Libya means. But no matter what you decide to call our involvement or how you define it—military intervention endangers the lives of our brave men and women in uniform and that of civilians on the ground. And, sadly, too often the inevitable outcome is that innocent people are killed and injured.

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Environment

Will Hunters Have to Bite the Bullet?

Will Hunters Have to Bite the Bullet?

New findings out of UCSC shed light on lead poisoning among condors

Almost all of the 100 free-flying condors in California have suffered from severe lead poisoning at least once. Treatment is expensive and stressful for the birds, as they must be removed from the wild and sent to zoos and veterinary hospitals. After re-release, many get sick again and find themselves back in captivity.

Now, researchers from UC Santa Cruz have confirmed that lead ammunition is the most plausible source of exposure, and demonstrated that lead causes chronic, long-term effects as well as acute poisonings. The findings were presented at the March 6 – 10 annual Society of Toxicology meeting in Washington D.C., and may help spark conversation about a more stringent lead bullet ban.

Myra Finkelstein and her colleagues from UCSC analyzed 70 blood samples taken from 49 condors. Using a technique called lead isotopic composition analysis, the researchers identified the chemical fingerprint of the lead found in condor blood. They compared this to the lead signatures of 71 different ammunition samples—most collected in the field.

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Local News

Connect More

Connect More

Project Homeless Connect provides a cornucopia of services for homeless and low-income people
Tuesday, March 22 dawned cold but cloudless in Santa Cruz. The reprieve from five days of rain was a gift for three homeless men waiting outside the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium.

One of the men huddled under a blue sleeping bag, beneath a sign announcing the Second Annual Project Homeless Connect. “There’s going to be a long line,” he replied when asked why he was there three hours before the doors opened.

Inside the auditorium, dozens of volunteers were busy hanging posters above 40 booths that offered free services for homeless people, including help with employment, housing, driver’s licenses, and medical/dental care. The volunteers—representing local government agencies, nonprofits, businesses, and churches—totaled more than 440 by the day’s end.  The volunteer pool included 150 professional service providers; others served as escorts.

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Local News

Talking About Sex

Talking About Sex

Local therapist wins award for sexual health work in Uganda
The people of Uganda don’t believe there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. In their version of the myth, if you touch the rainbow, you die. Local family and sex therapist Melissa Fritchle was working in Uganda when her students told her this story, and it had a deep poignancy for her. “We talked about how interesting it is that even something beautiful is a fear story,” she says. “Those kinds of cultural stories carry through and it means something. What we tell ourselves a rainbow means, says a lot.”

As she describes her experience in Uganda, it’s hard not to see the rainbow as a metaphor for some Ugandan attitudes toward sex and sexuality—attitudes Fritchle worked to shape and inform during her month there. In February 2010, she helped to create Uganda’s first human sexuality curriculum for professionals, and she trained counselors to lead discussions about sexuality.

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Business

All Funds Considered

All Funds Considered

What would happen to public radio without federal funding?
A poke around the Seabright headquarters of KUSP reveals vestiges of vintage radio: a floor-to-ceiling collection of vinyl records, pledge drive volunteers waiting patiently by landline telephones, and the afternoon host bent over the San Francisco Chronicle as he waits to go on air during a break in NPR’s “The Story.” But the office also impresses something timeless: that hard work is being done, and that the staff are passionate about doing it. 

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Local News

Bikers Fight Child Abuse

Bikers Fight Child Abuse

Unique group’s fundraiser aims to help protect young victims of abuse
Mark Kastner owns a black Harley Davidson Dyna Glide and rides his bike under the road name “Joker.” With his tall frame, piercing blue eyes, and gray goatee, he looks like he would fit right in with any group of bikers cruising up and around Highway 17.

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Town Hall

Assemblymember Bill Monning

Assemblymember Bill Monning

Last week the legislature began voting on the governor’s 2011-12 Budget but was unable to secure the votes necessary to pass the entire package.  What is the status of budget negotiations and what are the next steps?

As this column goes to press, the governor is still working diligently to obtain the votes necessary to enact his proposed 2011-12 State Budget.  The governor’s proposal seeks to balance a budget facing an estimated $26 billion deficit. The solutions include spending reductions in almost every area of the state budget and the realignment of local government services.

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Environment

An Opportunity to Give

An Opportunity to Give

Ways for locals to help the people of Japan
The recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan has left thousands of Japanese citizens dead while tens of thousands are still missing. Although the problems caused by the damaged infrastructure and the unfolding nuclear crisis have made recovery difficult, there are many ways local residents can help Japan recover.
The United Way, which operates a chapter in Santa Cruz, has set up a website where people can donate. Funds will be given to the Central Community Chest of Japan, which is helping to address the immediate needs of those affected by the disaster. Donate at liveunited.org/japan.

The American Red Cross is also accepting donations for the victims of the Japan earthquake and Pacific tsunami. Donate at redcross.org.
Several local businesses are helping out as well. Many local wineries, including Bonny Doon Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, and Silver Mountain Vineyards have committed to donating tasting fees collected this weekend to the Red Cross.

Students at UC Santa Cruz can support the Japanese Student Association, which will be selling T-shirts at the beginning of next quarter as part of its fundraising effort.
Please leave any other ideas in the comment section below.

 
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Throwing It All Away

Everybody’s for recycling, right? So why are we all doing it wrong? Our reporter gets down and dirty to uncover 10 secrets that will finally make the recycling process make sense

 

Aquarius Calling, Humanity Rising

Aquarius (11th sign after Aries) is the sign of service—serving one another, building community. Aquarius is fixed air, stabilizing new ideas in the world. When new ideas reach the masses the ideas become ideals within the hearts and minds of humanity. Air signs (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) are mental. They think, ponder, study, research, gather and distribute information. For air signs, education and learning, communicating, writing, being social, tending to money, participating in groups and creating sustainable communities are most important. One of the present messages Aquarius is putting forth to the New Group of World Servers is the creation of the New Education (thus thinking) for humanity—one based not on commodities (banking/corporate values) but on virtues. Humanity and Aquarius Aquarius is the sign of humanity itself. We are now at the beginnings of the Age of Aquarius, the Age of Humanity (rising). The “rising” is the Aquarian vision of equality, unity, the distribution and sharing of all resources and of individual (Leo) creative gifts for the purpose of humanity’s (Aquarius) uplifting. This is the message in the Solar Festival of Aquarius (at the full moon) on Tuesday, Feb. 3. We join in these visions by reciting the World Prayer of Direction, the Great Invocation.Tuesday’s solar festival follows Monday’s Groundhog Day, or Imbolc (ancient Celtic fire festival) the halfway mark between winter solstice and spring Equinox). The New Group of World Servers (NGWS) during these two days are preparing for the upcoming Three Spring Solar Festivals: 1. Aries Resurrection/Easter Festival (April); 2. Taurus Buddha/Wesak Festival (May); and 3. Gemini’s Festival of Humanity (June). Aquarius and the new and full moons together are the primary astrological influences behind all of humanity’s endeavors. The NGWS are to teach these things, calling and uplifting humanity. Join us everyone. (301)

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Job Insecurity

Woman fights for her job in thoughtful, life-sized ‘Two Days One Night’
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