Saturday, February 10, 2007

Gated communities will add to Baghdad security-TimesOnline
I assume they won't be worrying about whether everybody's mailbox is the same shade of beige. If anyplace needs gates and walls, it would be those poor folks in Baghdad.

The American general taking on the task of purging Baghdad of insurgents plans to establish several “gated communities” to provide extra security for Sunnis and Shias, according to a senior US defence official. General David Petraeus, who takes over command of the multinational force in Iraq today, believes that Fallujah, the Sunni stronghold 40 miles (64km) west of the capital, seized by US Marines two years ago after driving out extremists, is a model for other communities, the official said. Fallujah was set up as a gated community in which all the inhabitants were required to have biometric ID cards, after Operation Phantom Fury when US Marines wrested back control from Sunni extremists and Muslim clerics. The official said: “I think there are certain areas in Baghdad where we will have to control access with checkpoints because otherwise there will be people trying their best to blow them up.”

Friday, February 09, 2007

BREITBART.COM - 'Doomsday vault' to resist global warming effects
I'll bet some folks have been wondering what connection I see between HOAs and global warming. Submitted for your consideration, as Rod Serling used to say, is this plan (construction to begin in March) for a sort of Arctic gated community to survive global warming. I think the designers have been reading old Superman comic books and got hung up on the Fortress of Solitude. And no, it's not for you and me. It's for seeds. And don't laugh or Gaia will get angry, and you wouldn't like her when she's angry.

An Arctic "doomsday vault" aimed at providing mankind with food in case of a global catastrophe will be designed to sustain the effects of climate change, the project's builders said as they unveiled the architectural plans.
The top-security repository, carved into the permafrost of a mountain in the remote Svalbard archipelago near the North Pole, will preserve some three million batches of seeds from all known varieties of the planet's crops.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

WBAY-TV Green Bay-Fox Cities-Northeast Wisconsin News: City Throws Out Fight for Condo Garbage Pickup
Thanks to Nancy Levy for this interesting dispute between a municipality (none other than Green Bay, Wisconsin, which claims to have a football team) and a condo association over the perennial "double taxation" issue.

A community of condominium owners on Green Bay's east side is upset with the city council, which trashed their seven-month battle. Taking out the garbage seems like such a simple process. But to Joan Heim, it's an unfair one. "Fifty-six homeowners are angry right now because we're paying taxes and we get nothing," said Heim of the Alpine Point Condo Association. Each unit at Alpine Point Condos pays about $70 a year for private garbage pickup. But they say because they pay city taxes as well, they should be entitled the same services as other people in the city, including garbage services. Tuesday night the city council voted and their request failed.

BBC NEWS | Business | 'Table-sized flat' for £170,000
Mystery Reader sent along this link, via Boing Boing, to an amazingly expensive urban closet. I mean, apartment.

A flat roughly the size of a snooker table has gone on sale for £170,000 in London's upmarket Chelsea.
The former janitor's storeroom measures 11ft by 7ft and has a cupboard place for a shower and kitchenette area.

Potential buyers can expect to fork out an extra £30,000 to make the room habitable as there is no lighting and it is full of rubble.

Even the estate agent selling the property admitted the flat was "incredibly depressing". News... A Subdivision Off the Old Block
Thanks to Nancy Levy for this link to a story about new developments that are designed to look like the old ones...

With neighborhoods named Cabrillo and Kensington, it's quite plain what muse Del Sur master developer Fred Maas invoked when dreaming up a sales pitch for this 3,050-home planned community north of State Route 56 -- old-school San Diego neighborhoods.

Hence the phrase used in a recent newspaper ad, purporting Del Sur is connected to old San Diego "by more than a freeway." Maas hopes to separate this development from cookie-cutter suburban subdivisions that have sprung up around the county in recent years to meet rising demand for housing. And to do that, he's evoked the names and the histories of the established neighborhoods usually ringed by these types of new developments. The homes in the "Alcala" community, named for the San Diego Mission, claim to form a "personal sanctuary" for residents and are planned to be built in the Spanish style reminiscent of old San Diego, for example.

Emergency relief for Sweden's starving reindeer
Another global warning alert:
STOCKHOLM, Feb 7 (AFP) Feb 07, 2007
Sweden said Wednesday it would give its reindeer herders millions of euros (dollars) in emergency aid to help them feed their animals, which are starving because of thick ice that is preventing them from reaching the lichen they eat.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

How the US sent $12bn in cash to Iraq. And watched it vanish | Iraq | Guardian Unlimited
This is enough to make Karl Marx vote Libertarian.

The US flew nearly $12bn in shrink-wrapped $100 bills into Iraq, then distributed the cash with no proper control over who was receiving it and how it was being spent.
News - Placer seizes Artest dog -
Fred Pilot sent this link. Ron Artest, formerly of the Chicago Bulls, then later famous for charging into the stands to strangle some fans, is now in trouble for not feeding his Great Dane, Socks:
"The president of the homeowners association for Artest's gated neighborhood said Tuesday that animal services had been to the Artest residence prior to January.
Allan Frumkin, who heads the Sierra Ridge Estates Homeowners Association, also said residents have come to him with concerns about the welfare of dogs kept at Artest's home."
UC BERKELEY / Scholars to consider the shrinking of cities
Thanks to Fred Pilot for the link to this article about a conference on the physical and social decline of cities all over the world. They should have a conference next door on the rise of private neighborhoods.

More than 20 scholars from a dozen countries are lined up for the "Future of Shrinking Cities" symposium Thursday and Friday at International House on campus. They'll compare shrinking cities internationally, debate urban retreat in North America and discuss creative approaches for revitalizing the metropolis sliding past its prime.

New no-smoking frontier: condos and apartments: Seniors are leading the way in the new battle to ban smoking from communal environments.

Not only are some condos and apartment houses banning smoking inside private units, but there is talk in Belmont, Calif., of a city law next month that would mandate that all complexes keep a portion of their units smoke-free. The war against smoking first ramped up in the 1980s when some of America's public buildings became smoke-free. Then, in the 1990s, a slew of restaurants and bars in US cities banned smoking. Now, seniors are leading the way in the new battle in part because many live in communal environments and they feel they are susceptible to the health and safety hazards of smoking.

Exurbs hardest hit in recent housing slump - Feb. 6, 2007
There has been a lot of new HOA-style construction in the exurbs in recent years, and probably a lot of over-building. And now the oversupply is driving down prices, which shouldn't surprise anybody. But it makes bad breakfast table reading for those who just bought a new house way out there and now find out it may be worth less than they paid for it.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- While the U.S. housing downturn has depressed once-thriving real estate markets around the nation, far-flung suburbs of major cities have suffered the most abrupt market correction. Home construction in these distant exurbs has slowed and prices and sales have fallen more than those of close-in suburban neighbors since a five-year U.S. housing boom ended in the summer of 2005. Average home prices in Loudoun County, Virginia, 35 miles outside of Washington, D.C., fell roughly 11 percent in 2006, according to the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors. By contrast, Virginia's Arlington County, which hugs the nation's capital, saw a price decline of only about 2 percent. "It's been hard for sellers to comprehend, and I'm usually the bearer of bad news," said Mike Wagner, a real estate broker who works in Loudoun. "The news is: Your home is worth $100,000 less than it was a year and a half ago."

Who Watches The Watchers In Surveillance Society? - Yahoo! News
When the article refers to Big Brother, keep in mind that these technologies are used far more pervasively by private organizations than governments.

CHICAGO - In some cities in Europe and the United States, a person can be videotaped by surveillance cameras hundreds of times a day, and it's safe to say that most of the time no one is actually watching. But the advent of "intelligent video" -- software that raises the alarm if something on camera appears amiss -- means Big Brother will soon be able to keep a more constant watch, a prospect that is sure to heighten privacy concerns. Combining motion detection technology with the learning capabilities of video game software, these new systems can detect people loitering, walking in circles or leaving a package.

Ban Proposed On Walking While Talking, Listening To iPod - News
More nanny state nonsense, this time from the state of New York. Note the legislator's justification for this ridiculous proposal--people getting hit by cars because they aren't paying attention. He sees this as a problem that government should solve. I would just call it natural selection. People are getting double-teamed by public and private governments that seem to be competing with each other to see who can be the most intrusive and bothersome.

A state senator from Brooklyn said on Tuesday he plans to introduce legislation that would ban people from using an MP3 player, cell phone, Blackberry or any other electronic device while crossing the street in either New York City or Buffalo. NewsChannel 4 reported that Sen. Carl Kruger is proposing the ban in response to two recent pedestrian deaths in his district, including a 23-year-old man who was struck and killed last month while listening to his iPod on Avenue T and East 71st Street In Bergen Beach. "While people are tuning into their iPods and cell phones, they're tuning out the world around them," Kruger said. The proposed law would make talking on cell phones while crossing the street a comparable offense to jaywalking.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Texas could punish 'truant' parents - Yahoo! News
Who would have thought that the Texas legislature would go from rugged individualism to nanny state nonsense like this:
AUSTIN, Texas - Parents beware: Miss a meeting with your child's teacher and it could cost you a $500 fine and a criminal record.A Republican state lawmaker from Baytown has filed a bill that would charge parents of public school students with a misdemeanor and fine them for playing hooky from a scheduled parent-teacher conference. Rep. Wayne Smith said Wednesday he wants to get parents involved in their child's education. "I think it helps the kids for the parents and teachers to communicate. That's all the intent was," Smith said.
Roadside America - Guide to Uniquely Odd Tourist Attractions
Every community should have a bizarre local attraction. Other than the city council, I mean.
Global Warming: The Cold, Hard Facts?
Here's an explanation of why nobody is listening to the global warming skeptics, from a former Professor of Climatology. It's 2 degrees right now in Chicago.

Global Warming, as we think we know it, doesn't exist. And I am not the only one trying to make people open up their eyes and see the truth. But few listen, despite the fact that I was the first Canadian Ph.D. in Climatology and I have an extensive background in climatology, especially the reconstruction of past climates and the impact of climate change on human history and the human condition. Few listen, even though I have a Ph.D, (Doctor of Science) from the University of London, England and was a climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg. For some reason (actually for many), the World is not listening. Here is why.

Monday, February 05, 2007

More detail on AHRC
An alert anonymous comment to this blog supplied the following info (thanks!), which seems to indicate that something happened to the server on which AHRC is located. What kind of "break in" was it? And who did it? Stay tuned, and if you have any information pass it along.

FYI -- This was posted today...

Dear AHRC subscribers and friends:

A recent break into several servers, included one on which the AHRC
News Services websites were hosted.

The providers and administrators are making progress on the work they
need to do to get the websites back online shortly.

We will keep you posted.

Thank you for your patience.

The Staff
AHRC News Services
Correspondence from Radburn, NJ
Radburn was the first American Garden City, built in 1928, and has served as a model for planned private communities ever since. Here's a note from Kathy Moore, a Radburnite presenting her perspective on about events there, with a link to two websites, one on each side. I don't have any first hand knowledge of this, but it looks like a significant conflict is under way:

Dear Evan,

Please let me introduce myself, my name is Kathy Moore
and I'm a resident of Radburn in Fair Lawn, NJ. I'm
also one of the 16 homeowners currently suing Radburn
to get all homeowners fair and open elections. I would
like to point you to our website, so that you can read the entire
saga if you like. Of course this is the point of view
of the 16 of us, but I feel it's more than fair and
balanced. At our last annual budget meeting this past
December we were told that we had $13,000 in reserves,
that is all a 77 year old association with a one
million dollar annual budget has in reserves! Yet our
current board and manager spend tens of thousands
annually on lawsuits suing homeowners over things like
pre-approved shutter colors. Radburn's founding
fathers would never approve of the way we are treated.
The manner that Radburn was set up in was to keep
corruption at bay. The exact opposite has happened. If
you need or would like any more information about
Radburn please do not hesitate to ask. Also you will
find many letters from the community with all points
of view on which is an arm of the
Radburn Association.

best regards,


Sunday, February 04, 2007

AHRC breaks radio silence
Here's the message, which is intriguing:

Dear AHRC subscribers, friends and viewers:

Because of the nature of this break in we cannot provide any
details. However, with the work of our providers and administrators
we are making progress and will have all of the AHRC websites back
online shortly.

We appreciate your patience and will keep you posted.

Please forward this message to all your networks and groups.

Thank you.

The Staff
AHRC News Services

AHRC Exposed Exposed :: Exposing
The next chapter in the American Homeowners Resource Center saga has begun. For those who didn't buy a program on the way in, here's a recap. First there was AHRC. Then there was AHRC Exposed, an attack on AHRC. Now there is AHRC Exposed Exposed, which is an attack on AHRC Exposed. Got it?

The big question remains unanswered. Who is behind AHRC Exposed, and why is that person (or persons) hiding their identity?

According to AHRC Exposed Exposed, the cyber trail leads to a certain law firm that has been slammed repeatedly on AHRC. Follow the link to AHRC-X-X and scroll down, and you will see their evidence...

To be continued?
Arizona OAH: HOA Complaints
Here's a new blog by George Starapoli where he is posting links to complaints involving HOAs before the Arizona Office of Adminstrative Hearings. Thanks to Fred Pilot for letting me know about it.