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May 25th
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Environment

From Trash to Fuel

From Trash to Fuel

New technology provides leap forward for local organization focused on ocean cleanup
The ocean is littered with plastic.

In the Pacific Ocean, it floats near the surface of the water and swirls around in a massive vortex of currents, creating a sort of polluted soup commonly referred to as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Because of the dynamic nature of the currents, the size and scope of the pollution has proved difficult to measure. Some say the garbage patch is approximately the size of Texas while others claim it covers an area larger than the continental United States. As hard as it is to measure the garbage patch, it is equally as challenging to fit it with a solution.

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Environment

The Secret Life of Plastic

The Secret Life of Plastic

One GT reporter tracks the journey of plastic bottles through the recycling system
Forty-one Earth Days after the recycling movement of 1970 birthed the three R’s—“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”—Good Times set out to trace the journey of a metaphorical bottle as it makes its way through the modern recycling process.

The pursuit of this symbolic plastic bottle uncovers the challenges and goals of the recycling system, and what role the City of Santa Cruz’s roughly 60,000 residents, and their 949 pounds of waster per person, per year (according to the 2010 Community Assessment Project Report), play in the process.

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Environment

Desal Deliberations

Desal Deliberations

With desalination on the horizon, the debate deepens
When it comes to the debate over desalination, there isn’t much of a middle ground.


While opponents to the plan for a 2.5 million gallon per day desalination plant stand by the idea of increasing conservation and cutbacks and exploring other alternatives (like maximizing use of existing water sources), city and water department officials unfailingly revert back to their matter-of-fact claim that “conservation and curtailment simply isn’t enough,” and that desalination has proven to be the only feasible route to augment the water supply. Representatives from scwd2, the joint agency formed by the Santa Cruz Water Department and the Soquel Creek Water District to pursue the project, claim there are no significant marine impacts. Opponents say there are. Scwd2 says the resulting water won’t be any different than normal drinking water; critics agreee it will be safe, but point out inherent differences.

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Local News

Planned Parenthood Revisited

Planned Parenthood Revisited

A look at the environmental consequences of family planning budget cuts
This year the Earth’s population will hit seven billion, and this number will climb to nine billion by 2050, according to United Nations (UN) reports.

Even though the United States will produce fewer children than developing nations, our growth will have disproportionately detrimental environmental impacts. By the time Americans hit age 16, it’s not unusual for iPods, camera phones and personal cars to be added to the list of needs that includes food and shelter. In fact, according to the Sierra Club, the average American child uses as many resources as 35 youth in India.

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Local News

Town Hall with Supervisor Neal Coonerty

Town Hall with Supervisor Neal Coonerty

Will there be cuts to the METRO bus system this year?
The bus service provided by the Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District (METRO) is a lifeline for many in our community. METRO buses take middle and highschoolers from the communities of Davenport and Bonny Doon to school in Santa Cruz. Many people rely on METRO buses to take them to work, to medical appointments and to the grocery store. Utilizing public transportation rather than traveling in a single-passenger vehicle is one of the keys to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We must support a robust system in our community.

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Local News

Drops from the Bucket

Drops from the Bucket

Habitat Conservation Plan will protect fish, but mean less water for Santa Cruz—ramping up the city’s call for desalination
The topic on hand at the April 5 special Santa Cruz City Council meeting drew an impassioned crowd. They gathered to watch (and speak up) as the council heard the Water Department's presentation for a proposed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). The federally mandated plan would limit the amount of water the city can take from streams that are home to endangered and threatened species, including Coho and steelhead salmon, and set a plan for water operations in Santa Cruz for the next 30 years.

Following public comment, the council voted unanimously to allow the department to enter into HCP negotiations with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). An approved plan is required to bring Santa Cruz into compliance with the Endangered Species Act before the city can continue taking water from the San Lorenzo River, Newell Creek and the North Coast streams.

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Local News

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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Gate Openers

Up-and-coming artists like Ryan Bingham are a great reason to show up early to the Santa Cruz American Music Festival

 

Gemini Sun, Pentecost, Shavuot—Enlightenment and Gladness

As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Off Her Meds

Kristin Wiig runs wild—and transcends her sketch comedy roots—as a truly strange character ‘Welcome to Me’
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Flats Bistro

Pizza with an artisan twist comes to Aptos Beach

 

What’s your take on Santa Cruz locals?

Santa Cruz locals are really friendly once you know them. I think a lot of them have a hard time leaving, and I would too. Ryan Carle, Santa Cruz, Biologist

 

Soquel Vineyards

If Soquel Vineyards partners Peter and Paul Bargetto and Jon Morgan were walking down the street wearing their winning wine competition medals, you’d hear them coming from a mile away. This year was particularly rewarding for the Bargettos and Morgan—they won two Double Gold Medals and five Gold Medals at January’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

 

Enlightened Flavors

Squash & Blossom’s artisanal alternative-flour delights, beet kvass from Cafe Ivéta, and the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival