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March 30, 2008

San Francisco implements greenest, strictest construction laws in the country

San Francisco to boast the greenest buildings - earth - 29 March 2008 - New Scientist Environment

I love my city.

San Francisco may soon boast the greenest buildings in the US. Last week, the local government took a decisive step towards agreeing what are probably the toughest environmental construction standards in the country. Families and companies planning to build offices and homes will be required to earn green points by introducing energy and water-saving measures - or they risk losing their construction permits.

Construction is not a sexy area of climate policy, but it is one in which huge gains can be made for relatively little cost. Existing technologies, such as solar water heating, could cut greenhouse gas emissions from a building by almost one-third, for example. Yet authorities regulating the housing booms in places like the American south-west and many cities across China have done little to promote such measures.

San Francisco may now provide a template for change. Potential homes and offices will be rated on measures including the quality of insulation and the amount of recycled materials used in their construction. Only projects that score enough points will be allowed to go ahead.

The anti-Emo riots of Mexico

Mexico's Emo-Bashing Problem - TIME

Emos are just one of the colorful youth cultures popular in the U.S. and Europe that have swept over the Rio Grande as the nation opens up its economy and politics and a new generation grows up with the Internet and cable TV. Punks, goths, rockabillies, rastas, breakdancers, skaters and metallers all now pace Mexican streets, adorn its plazas and spray paint its walls. But while most of the trends have met with a begrudging acceptance, emos have provoked a violent backlash. As well as running riot in Queretaro, a mob also attacked emos in the heart of Mexico City this month. Furthermore, emos complain they are being increasingly threatened and assaulted by smaller groups on the streets on a daily basis. "It's getting dangerous for us to go out now. We get shouted at and spat on. We get things thing thrown at us. There is so much hate out there," said Santino Bautista, a 16-year-old emo high school student sitting in a Mexico City plaza alongside other teenagers in tight black jeans and dark makeup.

The attackers, catalogued as "anti-emos," include some from other urban tribes such as punks, metallers and cholos but many are just ordinairy working-class teenagers and young men. They deride the emos for being posers who are overly sentimental and accuse them of robbing from other music genres. With roots in Washington, D.C., in the 1980s, emo bands play a style of rock that borrows much from punk and indie rock. They focus on exploring their emotions (hence the name) with a particular dwelling on typical teenage depression.

March 29, 2008

On guerilla gardeners in the Bay Area

Guerrilla gardeners: When push comes to shovel

So Justin Valone, who lives across the street from the lot, helped spearhead an act of guerrilla gardening. Within weeks, 30 volunteers had transformed the lot, planting potatoes, fava beans and other crops. For a couple of months, all seemed good. But in the early spring, the out-of-town landlord, who also owns the adjoining building, learned of the garden - in part tipped off by an unusually hefty utility bill for the water being used for crop irrigation. She asked Citywide Property Management, the company managing the parcel, to take out the garden.

Valone agreed to stop using the property's water. But he refused to obey the removal order; he said the property owner refused to negotiate. The standoff continued and eventually included a round-the-clock vigil, a 300-signature petition and an effort by Supervisor Jake McGoldrick's office to mediate the conflict. After a prolonged wrangle, the garden was ripped out in April; the lot remains vacant.

"It's sort of baffling to me," Valone said last spring as the conflict raged. "It's a piece of land that no one cared about until we came. And now they're putting so much time and energy into kicking us out. ... In our society, we have a bizarre notion that if you own a piece of land, you can do anything you want, including neglecting it and letting it become an urban blight."

Kids are guilty until proven innocent

Raw Story | Cops bust high school root beer keggerWAUSAU,...