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April 4-10, 2007

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Silicon Valley News Notes

YouTube For President

There's only about 580 more days until the next presidential election, so if you're gnashing your teeth in anticipation of those hilarious campaign commercials, gnash no longer—they're here already! On YouTube! Just head over to the San Bruno-based company's site and click on "channels" near the header. Then click on "Politicians" in the left column. All your favorites are there: John McCain, Mitt Romney, Barack Obama. For those keeping score at home, Romney has a pack-leading 65 videos on his YouTube channel, and McCain, Joe Biden and John Edwards are in the game with 33, 31 and 27, respectively. Though these videos might not be as watchable as, say, a kitten falling asleep, or a bum fight, they're still tons o' fun. So poke around in there—listen to Rudy Giulliani blather on about fiscal conservatism, or Dennis Kucinich pontificate on the war. Ease into both "Big Brother" Apple remake videos (one against Hillary, one against Obama), or hear Edwards talk about why he's staying in the race. Then blissfully surrender your brain cells to the logic of Congressman Duncan Hunter: "Americans start a football game with a clean scoreboard," he says, "but China starts a game against our businesses with a 74-point advantage." Well said. And by "well" we mean "ridiculously." Now, if we can just draft Lonelygirl15 and Unemployed Skeletor into the race, this could be the best presidential election ever.

Rent Check In

For seven years, the Barrio Defense League on South Second Street has done its best to fight for La Raza, and to give a voice to local Latinos who might not have the connections or political wherewithal to effectively defend themselves when wronged. But this week, the Centro Aztlan Chicomoztoc is fighting to keep its own doors open. Quetzaoceloaciua (aka Quetza), the head of the Centro, is a year delinquent on her rent, and admits to owing her landlord, Walter Harding, more than $11,000. Harding, unsurprisingly, is threatening to give her the boot. But here's the thing: Fly first reported this story in 2005—when the exact same stand-off went down over the Centro's rent. But this time, Harding says he's for real. And Quetza isn't exactly denying that Harding has a legitimate case, she just says it would be nice if the place would get fixed up. Bees decorate the Centro like ornaments because of one or more hives that are lodged into the building's structure. A giant root once worked its way into one of the walls, and has since been removed by Harding without regard to the damage it caused. The windows are thin and brittle, and, according to Quetza, rats and cockroaches have made themselves comfy in the Centro. "That may be true," says Harding, "but she hasn't paid her rent." Quetza is looking for an angel investor of sorts to bail her out. In the meantime, she and the Barrio Defense committee continue to sell tamales and organize yard sales to raise funds. Amazingly, Quetza doesn't seem too worried about the situation. "Mr. Harding's a nice man," she says. "I know he wouldn't throw us out." If not, look for another edition of this story around 2009.

We've Got The Shakes

It's hard to remember whether April is Emergency Preparedness Month, Natural Disaster Month or Earthquake Preparedness Month, which is a problem because we like to be very specific when we pick our neurotic fixation for the month. Luckily, Kimberly Shunk, San Jose's Emergency Manager, and Mike Dever, of Santa Cruz County's Emergency Services, were around to set us straight. It's actually the latter, in commemoration of the April 18 anniversary of San Francisco's 1906 earthquake. That doesn't mean you should stop freaking out about other catastrophes, though. Shunk calls Northern California a theme park of natural disasters because we're at risk for landslides, fires, heat waves, flooding and damaging storms as well as earthquakes. Shunk says "we sit at the bifurcation of two earthquake faults, the San Andreas and Hayward. Whichever one goes, we're going to rock and roll." The City of San Jose and Santa Cruz County both have resident preparedness training programs because in the event of The Big One people will be on their own. "The perception is that our governments have unlimited resources that will be able to help us and it's just not true," says Dever. "People should be prepared to take care of themselves for a minimum of 72 hours, because resources are scarce and it will take time to move them into the right places."

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