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August 15-21, 2007

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News Briefs

By Patricia Lynn Henley


Speak for the trees

Sudden oak death (SOD) is now inside Santa Rosa city limits, making it extremely timely that an SOD informational meeting is being held in Occidental on Saturday, Aug. 18. Scientists believe the devastating disease is caused by a water-borne pathogen. This region experienced extremely wet springs in 2005 and 2006, setting up what experts believe were prime conditions for spreading SOD. "It was kind of the perfect storm as far as the pathogen," notes Katie Palmeri, of the California Oak Mortality Task Force. "There have been tons of new infections, tons of new die-off." The North Bay's coastal fog belt has been hit hard. Providing details about the disease, including current heightened fire risk and other concerns, the workshop will be held from 1pm to 4pm, at the Occidental Fire Department, 3821 Bohemian Hwy.

Detained, deported

Sausalito resident Duane Martinez was one of six rappelling down China's Great Wall on Aug. 6, unveiling a 450-foot-square banner proclaiming "One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008" in English and Chinese. The protest was held one year and one day before the opening of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which Tibet independence advocates charge is being used to legitimize China's illegal occupation of that country. "We're appealing to the international community to shine the light of scrutiny on China in the coming year. The Olympic dream of Tibetans is freedom by August 2008," says Rinzin Dorjee, deputy director of Students for a Free Tibet. The Great Wall protesters were detained by the Chinese police for two days, then deported to Hong Kong together with two other Free Tibet activists.

Back to paper

After several years using electronic machines, Napa County voters may be returning to traditional paper ballots. On Aug. 3, Secretary of State Debra Bowen released the results of two months of study by University of California experts, showing that the systems could be easily compromised. Bowen "de-certified" the use of Diebold, Hart and Sequoia voting machines except for one per polling venue to satisfy federal accessibility requirements. Bowen's decision affects about 9 million voters, more than half of the registered voters statewide, says Napa County Clerk John Tuteur. Napa has been using the touchscreen Sequoia machines since March 2003 and according to Tuteur, they work well. The more than 20 counties affected by the de-certification could file a lawsuit. But, says Tuteur, "if it's not overturned by the courts, we will comply."

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