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Recurring Columns

RENO DISPATCH: THE SAD DEATH OF ONE OF AMERICA'S LAST REAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORTERS

Originally posted Wednesday, June 19 at the Reno Dispatch

June 25, 2013 (San Diego) – The news of Michael Hastings' death comes as a total shock. Michael, 33, who was killed early Tuesday in a car crash in Los Angeles, was among the last of a disappearing breed of fearless investigative reporters. A friend and former colleague, he and I worked together often when we were fellow writers at Newsweek.

I'll never forget our marathon phone conversations about politics, war, civilian casualties and General David Patraeus. Michael was probably the general's most outspoken critic, as you can see in this article he wrote for Rolling Stone. Michael ripped the general in that story, and in others. I haven't exactly gone easy on Patraeus, either, but I've typically left it to my sources to evaluate him in stories such as this one for Newsweek/Daily Beast. Michael had no time for that. It just wasn't his style. He called it the way he saw it, and I admired him for it.

BIRD TALK: THE WESTERN BLUEBIRD

 

 

By Greg Dunne

June 22, 2013 (Alpine)--“I'm a bluebird, I'm a bluebird I'm a bluebird, yeah, yeah, yeah,” to quote Paul McCartney. Just last week our “children” left the nest here in Alpine, our Western Bluebird children, that is. We enjoyed their company for about three weeks.

We have a birdhouse sitting on the railing going down steps leading to the front door of our house. It was put there some time ago just for yard décor; we thought it was too close to everyday foot traffic to be a choice place to set up raising baby birds.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: THE RUNNING DEAD (WORLD WAR Z)

 

 

By Brian Lafferty

June 21, 2013 (San Diego) – After a long and troubled production history going back to 2007 – none of which needs to be rehashed here – World War Z is finally here.  It’s a simple pulpy globetrotting zombie flick starring Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane, a former member of the United Nations called into action to combat a worldwide zombie pandemic.  Such a simple plot, yet it serves a movie so confounding that I may never know if it’s good or bad.  If I were to look at it from every respect, it would be split right down the middle at 50%.  I can make strong arguments from both sides.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: BLAND EDUCATION (MONSTERS UNIVERSITY)

 

By Brian Lafferty

June 21, 2013 (San Diego) – There’s always a first for everything.  Monsters University is the first Pixar film I disapprove of (I should note that I still haven’t seen Cars 2).  Has Pixar gotten complacent since Toy Story 3?  It sure seems so.  Since 1995 they could be counted on to turn out a high-quality product.  Now they’re dangerously close to being indistinguishable from DreamWorks, Blue Sky Studios, and Sony Pictures Animation.

RENO DISPATCH: THE GOVERNMENT MAY NOT CARE ABOUT OUR DISABLED VETERANS...BUT WE THE PEOPLE DO!!

 

Originally posted Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at The Reno Dispatch

June 18, 2013 (San Diego) – Marine Corps Capt. Sarah Bettencourt, 29, was just days away from being designated a naval aviator when she developed a rare neurological disorder in 2008. Despite her disability, she bravely continued to serve in the Marines until symptoms ended her career in 2012. Sarah, who retired with a 100 percent disability rating, now struggles at home with day-to-day tasks due to severe problems with her central nervous system.

And of course she is not alone. More than 2.2 million American veterans like Sarah were seriously injured at some point while serving in the military, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Among the center's troubling findings: Veterans who suffered major service-related injuries are less likely in later life to be in overall good health or to hold full-time jobs.

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: VACATION SAFETY TIPS - DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THEM!

 

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

June 17, 2013 (San Diego) – It’s summer time, and time for a vacation! Many of us may be ready for or planning a vacation for the summer months.  Here are some safety tips to help make your vacation safe and enjoyable says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. Vacation safety actually begins while you are still at home and begins with planning for safety!

EARTHTALK®: DROUGHT LESSONS FROM THE DUST BOWL



 

By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss, E - The Environmental Magazine

June 17, 2013 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: Could it really be true that we are in the midst of the worst drought in the United States since the 1930s? -- Deborah Lynn, Needham, MA

Indeed we are embroiled in what many consider the worst drought in the U.S. since the “Dust Bowl” days of the 1930s that rendered some 50 million acres of farmland barely usable. Back then, drought conditions combined with poor soil management practices to force some 2.5 million Americans away from the Great Plains, only wreaking further havoc on an already devastated Great Depression economy. The lack of native prairie grasses or cover crops to keep the soil in place meant large swaths of formerly productive agricultural land turned to dust and blew away in so-called “black rollers.”

While we have learned a lot about maintaining soil quality since, drought conditions today are nevertheless taking a heavy toll on agricultural productivity, fresh water supplies and the economy—especially as the effects of global warming start to kick in more seriously.

THE ATTORNEY'S CORNER: WHAT TYPES OF WILLS ARE AVAILABLE?

 

“Your source for Trusts, Wills, Probate, Family Law & more”

By Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

June 18, 2013 (San Diego County) – There are several types of wills available in California. It is important you choose the type best suited to your needs and make sure you comply with all the drafting requirements for the will type chosen. An improperly drafted will may not be admitted to probate, may result in a will contest and may result in your assets not being distributed pursuant to your wishes. This article discusses the various will types.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: HEAVY METAL (MAN OF STEEL)

 

By Brian Lafferty

June 14, 2013 (San Diego) – The original Superman was entertaining in the moment, but terribly flawed upon further reflection, especially the ending.  As much fun as I had watching it, the ending was one giant mass of plot holes.  I remember liking the somewhat turgid Superman Returns when I saw it in theaters seven years ago.  Today I can’t remember a single thing about it.  Other than that, I had limited exposure to the silly Superman II

EARTHTALK®: TOXIC INGREDIENTS IN CLEANING SUPPLIES



By Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss, E - The Environmental Magazine

June 10, 2013 (San Diego) -- Dear EarthTalk: I'm concerned about toxic ingredients in my cleaning supplies, especially now that I have young children. Where can I find safer alternatives?             -- Betsy E., Hartford, CT

It is true that many household cleaners contain potentially toxic substances, so parents especially should make an effort to keep them out of the reach of children or, better yet, replace them with safer alternatives.

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: SAFETY STARTS WITH ME

 

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

June 12, 2013 (San Diego) – Every day Fire and EMS personnel respond to workplace accidents resulting in injury and even death.  It’s estimated that nearly 4 million employees suffer from a workplace injury and employers spend more than $170 billion on associated costs each year.  Many of these accidents could be avoided if an education and prevention program were in place says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna.

MEDIA JUSTICE FORUM JUNE 17: ECM EDITOR ON PANEL

 

 

June 1, 2013 (San Diego) –Access to information from truthful, unbiased media are cornerstones to democracy.  As KNSJ prepares to launch its public, nonprofit radio station transmitting from Descanso in East County, you’re invited to a forum on media justice hosted by Activist San Diego.

East County Magazine editor Miriam Raftery will be among the panelists at the forum on Monday, June 17 at 7 p.m.  at the Joyce Beers Community Center on Vermont Street (one block north of University Avenue across from Trader Joe's). 

Joseph Pulitzer  observed  back in 1883 that the media “should always fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption, always fight demagogues of all parties, never belong to any party, always oppose privilege classes and public plunderers, never lack sympathy with the poor, always remain devoted to the public welfare, never be satisfied with merely printing news, always be drastically independent, never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty.”

But today, the major broadcast media and many print publications are owned by the very same corporations over which media should serve as watchdogs--and they have are far from impartial . Six corporations control the vast majority of our airways and more.  Consider this:

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: BE A SPORT - PRACTICE SWIMMING POOL SAFETY

 

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

It’s safe to say Summer is here! Memorial Day is behind us, schools getting out for summer break and Hot Weather is ahead. Many of us will certainly be headed for the pools!  Before you take the plunge, read this says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna.

ON THE SILVER SCREEN: WHEN THE SUN GOES DOWN (BEFORE MIDNIGHT)

 

 

Photo Credit:  Sony Pictures Classics

By Brian Lafferty

May 31, 2013 (San Diego) – January saw the release of 56 Up.  That film was the latest in a unique documentary series that began in 1964, in which Michael Apted interviewed a group of 7-year old kids from disparate backgrounds.  The project became literally a lifelong labor of love, as Apted has revisited these people every seven years. 

Five months later, San Diego screens are blessed with Before Midnight, the third film in a series that may or may not have been inspired by the Up documentaries, but feels very much like a fictional version of them.  To watch Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight is akin to imbibing a bottle of fine wine that has gotten better with each nine-year passage.

THE ATTORNEY'S CORNER: WHAT IS NULLITY OF MARRIAGE?

 

“Your source for Trusts, Wills, Probate, Family Law & more”

By: Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

May 30, 2013 (San Diego County) – There are three potential legal remedies for couples who want to terminate or alter their marital or domestic partnership status. They include dissolution, legal separation and nullity. Dissolution terminates the status of a valid marriage resulting in the parties being considered single persons commencing on the date status is terminated. Legal separation is an option for spouses and partners who choose not to live together while maintaining the marital or partnership status. The third potential option, nullity, is the subject of this article.

RENO DISPATCH: MEMORIAL DAY MEMO TO AMERICA'S LAWMAKERS: WHY HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN OUR TROOPS AND VETERANS?

 

Originally posted Monday, May 27, 2013

By Jamie Reno

May 30, 2013 (San Diego) -- Taking a quick look around, it's easy to cynically conclude that Memorial Day has become nothing more than a paean to big sales at the mall, beach BBQ's, and getting a day off from school and work. Not that there's anything wrong with any of those things - but let's please not forget to whom this day really belongs. And for the record, this holiday isn't just for our brave warriors who made the ultimate sacrifice. It's also for those who served our country and are still with us.

As I reported late last year in The Daily Beast, as many as 30 percent of post-9/11 veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a type of anxiety disorder that can occur after you've seen or experienced a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death. PTSD is often debilitating. These veterans need our help. Now.

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: HAVE A SAFE GRADUATION

 

May 27, 2013 (San Diego) – Its graduation and summer break time once again; its celebration time! This can be expensive, however, cost is a minor concern for most parents when it comes to these events says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna. "Their biggest concern is the risky behavior associated with graduation events and school break parties – drinking and driving, distractions while driving, drugs, unsafe sex." Yes, it happens and it's critical that parents talk to their graduates about these dangers. Here are a few tips that can help keep your teen safe and make this time of year something they fondly remember:

1. Know who’s driving all evening: Are your kids or a friend driving, is there a designated driver, or will they be renting a limo?

RENO DISPATCH: BREAKING NEWS: FEDERAL JUDGES SAY NO TO SAN ONOFRE REBOOT WITHOUT FORMAL HEARINGS

 

By Jamie Reno, originally posted May 13, 2013

May 18, 2013 (San Diego) – In a rather unexpected rejection of Southern California Edison’s efforts to restart the shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant north of San Diego, the Atomic Safety Licensing Board (ASLB) ruled today that the two reactors can not go back online before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) holds a formal license amendment proceeding with full public participation.

A three-judge panel of the ASLB granted a petition from Friends of the Earth, an environmental organization, asking the NRC to require Edison to undergo a license amendment process before a judge, including public hearings, sworn testimony from expert witnesses and rules of evidence.

THE ATTORNEY'S CORNER: ADVANCE HEALTH CARE DECISION PLANNING

 

“Your source for Trusts, Wills, Probate, Family Law & more”

By: Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

May 16, 2013 (San Diego County) – Advance planning concerning your medical care decisions is important for both you and your family. It ensures your desires will be met while providing guidance to loved ones making difficult decisions regarding your care. People have varying opinions concerning what procedures to allow, medications to take, whether-or-not to prolong life and organ donation. Having an understanding of the terminology and decisions you may have to make will help ensure your wishes are met by those responsible for making your medical care decisions in the future.

EAST COUNTY EATER SAVORS “LA DOLCI VIDA” AT DOLCI CAFÉ ITALIANO

 

 

Review by the East County Eater

 Dolci Café Italiano,   2650 Jamacha Road,  Rancho San Diego (El Cajon) www.DolciCafeItaliano.com

 

 

 May 13, 2013 (Rancho San Diego)--Another culinary prize has turned up in East County.  Dolci Café Italiano is located next to Ralph’s in the Rancho San Diego Town and Country Shopping Center.  At once, the place felt entirely familiar and also seemed rooted in family and history.  It has the ambience of the Gaslamp District in Downtown San Diego—and for good reason.  George Georges, the owner - also owns three restaurants in The Gaslamp.  Chianti, La Fiesta and the Urban Bar & Grill.

George has been a restaurateur for 18 years.  He describes Dolci Café Italiano as “Italian-Mediterranean food served bistro café-style...Everything is cooked-to-order, everything is custom, everything is fresh, everything is gourmet…Even the lasagna.”

MEDIA WATCH COLUMN: THE URGENCY FOR MEDIA REFORM

By Jennifer Douglas, jen@saveklsd.com

May 3, 2013 (San Diego)--The need for media reform and putting a halt to further media consolidation now seems urgent. Since late April, we have learned that billionaire conservative activists are moving ahead in a bid to buy the Los Angeles Times; Obama's nominated a former corporate lobbyist to head the Federal Communications Commission (FCC); a senator reminds us that six mega-corporations own most of our mass media, and a leading champion of media reform, Common Cause leader Bob Edgar (photo, left) has died suddenly.

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: WHAT TO DO WHEN A WILDLAND FIRE THREATENS

 

 

May 3, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – We are currently under severe fire conditions.  Homeowners are advised to do the following if there are reports of wildland fires:

Listen to local radio or TV stations for updated emergency information. Follow instructions of local officials regarding the safest escape route. (It may be different than you expect; wildland fires can change direction and speed up suddenly.)

• If you have one, turn on your FRS Radio and set it to your neighborhood’s channel and code. Check in, and continue to monitor for new information. Channel ______ Code _______

If you believe the fire is too close to your location, evacuate immediately. (The fire may be moving too fast for officials to issue evacuation notifications.) Choose a route away from the fire and other potential fire hazards.

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: HIGH FIRE DANGER!

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

April 30, 2013 (San Diego's East County)--We will be experiencing an extremely high fire danger for the next 72 plus hours.  High pressure is building over Southern California.  Lack of rain has resulted in critically low fuel moisture content level.  Warm temperatures with strong gusty off-shore winds will increase the threat of wildfire.

Wildfires affect everyone as resources from areas not serving in wildland urban interface (WUI) are called to assist leaving areas short staffed until personnel can be recalled.  Please advise homeowners to do their part by:

MARKETING MATTERS: 5 TIPS FOR A GREAT 30-SECOND COMMERCIAL (AKA ELEVATOR PITCH)

Tips and tricks for business success and growth

By Rama Beerfas

May 1, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – One of the workshops I am asked to present most often is "Developing Your 30-Second Commercial." Anyone who has ever attended a networking event knows that a concise, effective 30-second commercial (AKA elevator pitch) is critical. The hard part is putting one together that is concise, effective and doesn't sound like a scripted speech.

FROM THE CHIEF'S CORNER: HOMELAND SECURITY BEGINS WITH HOMETOWN SECURITY

April 27, 2013 (San Diego) – Boston, Ricin, West Texas, what’s next? I didn’t think I’d be addressing this as the “safety topic” for the week, however. It’s been very tough last week for most of the Nation. There is something we can do!

"Homeland Security starts with Hometown Security, and all of us play a critical role in keeping our Country and communities safe,” says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna.  No matter what you do, day to day activities like driving, going to work, or walking down the street include some threat to your personal safety.  Either through crime or circumstance, people and events can be unpredictable. This was evident last week in Boston.

MEDIA WATCH: MEDIA REFORM SUMMIT APRIL 27 IN LOS ANGELES

 

By guest columnist Marie Ida Johnson

April 24, 2013 (San Diego) --If you are concerned about media control, ownership and reform and how your community is served, a summit this Saturday may offer thoughtful perspectives.  While the focus will be on Los Angeles news coverage, don’t think that these discussions will not affect you.  Media concerns and new ideas for better news in any area of the country concern all of us and the summit speakers are quite impressive.

LA Media Reform Group announces its 6th Annual LA Media Reform Summit at Occidental College in Los Angeles from 1-5 p.m. followed by a reception.  The summit is co-hosted by: California Common Cause, The LA Progressive, and the Occidental College Urban and Environmental Policy Institute.  To complete the evening MoveOn is hosting the first public showing of a new documentary on whistleblowers and the free press.

THE ATTORNEY'S CORNER: POWERS OF ATTORNEY & ESTATE PLANNING

 

“Your source for Trusts, Wills, Probate, Family Law & more”

By Stephen C. Ross, Esq.

April 23, 2013 (San Diego County) – A power of attorney (POA) is a written document wherein a person (the principal) appoints another person (the agent) to transact business and manage property on behalf of the principal. A POA has many purposes in estate planning, including: allowing the agent to transfer property into a revocable trust that is the principal’s primary estate planning tool; facilitating gifts to take advantage of the federal annual gift tax exclusion; and, allowing the agent to operate the principal’s business that is not included in a trust.

MARKETING MATTERS: WHY ARE WE FOLLOWERS WHEN IT COMES TO MARKETING?

Tips and tricks for business success and growth

By Rama Beerfas

April 18, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) –  Good marketing is all about making you stand out from the others - building a brand that is recognizable, unique and compelling. Why, then do so many business owners insist on doing what someone or everyone else is doing?

For instance, how many times have you watched a commercial on TV and thought that it must have been written by, or stolen from, the same people who did an ad for a different company. You know, what I mean - it had the same feel, flow and concept as an ad you'd seen at least a month ago for a totally different product. Did it make you remember the new product being advertised, or simply recall the ad it seemed to be based on?

POSSIBILITIES: BIZ CENTER ART RECEPTION APRIL 20 IN LA MESA

April 18, 2013 (La Mesa) – Biz Center Art, the art gallery in residence at the La Mesa Biz Center, is featuring art based on the idea of "POSSIBILITIES", what is possible in the creative mind of an artist with an opening reception from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 20th. Local artists' work will be shown, as well as our feature artist Peter Hammar, a New York artist from Stockholm Sweden. There  will also be work displayed by the STAR program, survivors of trafficking.

The "Possibilities" opening is  a fundraiser for STAT (Soroptimists Together Against Trafficking) program. Representatives will be on hand to discuss their projects and there will be a raffle of art by Biz Center artists as well as various services by tenants of the La Mesa Biz Center.

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