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Topics - -luke

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article is more of the same. 

does have ridiculous bs terms and definitions though

"Surfers in Turmoil With the Loss of a Major Supplier"


SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - The thefts began shortly after the day surfers call Blank Monday, when the surfing community from San Diego to Santa Cruz and beyond felt caught in the undertow of what Grubby Clark had done.

Mr. Clark, a reclusive surf industrialist whose given name is Gordon, is responsible for producing foam cores, or blanks, for most of the nation's surf boards.

On Dec. 5, Mr. Clark abruptly went out of business.

The sheriff's office in Santa Cruz County cannot say for sure that it was the closing of Mr. Clark's company, Clark Foam, that led to a rash of surfboard thefts in the charming but tattered bungalow neighborhoods near The Hook, one of roughly 65 famous surf breaks that have drawn free spirits here since the late 1930's.

But Sgt. Fred Plagement, a spokesman for the sheriff's office, said that the thefts "followed the publicity regarding the unavailability of polyurethane blanks."

At roughly 1,000 blanks a day, Clark Foam had dominated the business of producing the buoyant foam innards of surfboards, some $175 million to $200 million worth a year.

All along the coast, board prices have gone up an average of $100, said Pete Johnson, the owner of Kane Garden Surfboards in San Diego.

Surfers and shapers have been hoarding their remaining blanks. "This is the last Mohican," said Michel Junod, one of Santa Cruz's most respected shapers, referring to his lone torpedo of white foam.

The thefts were an expression of the turmoil that has gripped many California surfing spots since Mr. Clark sent out a jarring, seven-page letter to his customers announcing that he was shutting down Clark Foam, his 44-year-old business, starting immediately.

"The Howard Hughes of the surfing world," in Mr. Junod's words, Mr. Clark said in his letter that his decision was based on many factors, including the cost of complying with state and federal regulations.

In 2003, Mr. Clark received a notice from the Environmental Protection Agency for, among other things, failing to safeguard workers against the accidental release of toluene diisocyanate, or TDI, a liquid catalyst and known carcinogen used in making polyurethane foam.

There was also the cost of workers' compensation, insuring machines of his own design and "a claim being made by the widow of an employee who died from cancer," he wrote.

"For owning and operating Clark Foam," the letter began, "I may be looking at very large fines, civil lawsuits, and even time in prison."

Both the E.P.A. and the Orange County Fire Authority, which monitors factories for hazardous materials, said, however, that Mr. Clark had recently been in compliance.

"We were kind of dumbfounded," said Capt. Stephen Miller of the fire authority.

Mr. Clark, a former chemist and engineer who is considered both a shrewd businessman and maverick pioneer, has not spoken publicly and his office in Laguna Niguel refused to comment. But reaction from the surfing community was swift.

"It was like a close out wave that nobody can ride," said Steve Coletta, 58, a Santa Cruz shaper, referring to an ominously unridable wave that sometimes roars up without warning after a storm.

As in other towns ruled by waves, Blank Monday was memorable here. On the verge of Christmas, "Not for Sale" signs sprang up at local surf shops.

At Fiberglass Hawaii, which sells materials for surfboards, 426 blanks were snapped up. "Pretty much the whole town showed up," said Barry Barrett, the general manager.

David Balding, a 35-year-old glazer and surfer, was asleep when thieves sneaked into his carport and stole five of his prized boards, including an 11-foot $1,400 Lance Carson, named for a revered shaper.

"Maybe they thought, 'Shoot, prices are going up, so I'm going to grab these,' " Mr. Balding said.

The rise of Mr. Clark, who earned his nickname as a young man for his devil-may-care attire - he is now 74 - paralleled and, in many ways, fostered, the growth of American surfing.

Before foam, surfboards were made from wood, including balsa, which was hard to get, limiting production, said Matt Warshaw, author of The Encyclopedia of Surfing.

In 1958, a year before the surfing movie "Gidget," Mr. Clark, a laminator, teamed up with Hobie Alter, who made surfboards and sailboats.

Ensconced in a secret foam-making plant in Laguna Canyon, they developed the first commercially successful polyurethane foam blank.

"It was like shaping a stick of butter," Mr. Alter once said.

With the use of foam, surfers numbering in the tens of thousands on the mainland boomed into millions.

In a world of colorful hell-raisers, Mr. Clark was known as a ripper, a term for fearless, hypercompetitive surfers.

Remarkably efficient at customizing blanks for small backyard shapers, he was both beloved and feared.

"He was smart, aggressive and had a good rapport with shapers," Mr. Junod said. "But one thing about surfers is, they want the easy way out. They just want to go surfing. So people would submit to his pressure."

As theories persist about what prompted Mr. Clark to call it quits, many say the company's demise, though difficult in the short-term, presents an opportunity to rethink the way surfboards are made.

"Surfers are supposed to be environmentally sensitive, but the boards are questionable," said Steve Pezman, publisher of The Surfer's Journal. "They're a part of the puzzle that doesn't really fit the ethic."

Pete Reich, a specialist with the E.P.A. in San Francisco and an avid surfer, said blank makers and glassers are exposed to toxic fumes, and the people who sand and shape surfboards contend with noxious particulates.

Of the possibility of new methods, Yvon Chouinard, a surfer and mountain climber, said, "My attitude is, It's about time."

Mr. Chouinard's company, Patagonia, has developed what Mr. Chouinard says is a less toxic process.

Many surfboards wind up in landfills after six or eight months, said Randy French of Surftech, a Santa Cruz company making boards out of epoxy composite and one of Mr. Clark's few major competitors.

He said that some of the current shortfall will be filled by suppliers in Australia, Brazil and South Africa.

Looking out over The Hook, Boyd Halverson, wearing a wet suit and barefoot on a cold rainy Saturday, braced himself for what he called an "ice cream headache" from frigid waves. Mr. Halverson, 27, who repairs damaged boards, said that the demise of Clark Foam would be good for his business.

Mr. Coletta, the shaper, who was sitting on a three-month inventory of blanks, regarded the situation the way he might a long, glassy right point break. "Before, no one found the need to experiment with new materials, to get the feel right," he said. "I'm really stoked."

Bush's pentagon is buying off Iraqi journalists to write pro US stories and paying pr companies to plant propaganda in the Iraqi news media.  violating all principles about a free press of course.  hypocrites.  disgraceful and embarrasing.  i hope congress holds hearings and someone is held accountable.

nytimes article here:

December 1, 2005
U.S. Is Said to Pay to Plant Articles in Iraq Papers
WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 - Titled "The Sands Are Blowing Toward a Democratic Iraq," an article written this week for publication in the Iraqi press was scornful of outsiders' pessimism about the country's future.

"Western press and frequently those self-styled 'objective' observers of Iraq are often critics of how we, the people of Iraq, are proceeding down the path in determining what is best for our nation," the article began. Quoting the Prophet Muhammad, it pleaded for unity and nonviolence.

But far from being the heartfelt opinion of an Iraqi writer, as its language implied, the article was prepared by the United States military as part of a multimillion-dollar covert campaign to plant paid propaganda in the Iraqi news media and pay friendly Iraqi journalists monthly stipends, military contractors and officials said.

The article was one of several in a storyboard, the military's term for a list of articles, that was delivered Tuesday to the Lincoln Group, a Washington-based public relations firm paid by the Pentagon, documents from the Pentagon show. The contractor's job is to translate the articles into Arabic and submit them to Iraqi newspapers or advertising agencies without revealing the Pentagon's role. Documents show that the intended target of the article on a democratic Iraq was Azzaman, a leading independent newspaper, but it is not known whether it was published there or anywhere else.

Even as the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development pay contractors millions of dollars to help train journalists and promote a professional and independent Iraqi media, the Pentagon is paying millions more to the Lincoln Group for work that appears to violate fundamental principles of Western journalism.

In addition to paying newspapers to print government propaganda, Lincoln has paid about a dozen Iraqi journalists each several hundred dollars a month, a person who had been told of the transactions said. Those journalists were chosen because their past coverage had not been antagonistic to the United States, said the person, who is being granted anonymity because of fears for the safety of those involved. In addition, the military storyboards have in some cases copied verbatim text from copyrighted publications and passed it on to be printed in the Iraqi press without attribution, documents and interviews indicated.

In many cases, the material prepared by the military was given to advertising agencies for placement, and at least some of the material ran with an advertising label. But the American authorship and financing were not revealed.

Military spokesmen in Washington and Baghdad said Wednesday that they had no information on the contract. In an interview from Baghdad on Nov. 18, Lt. Col. Steven A. Boylan, a military spokesman, said the Pentagon's contract with the Lincoln Group was an attempt to "try to get stories out to publications that normally don't have access to those kind of stories." The military's top commanders, including Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, did not know about the Lincoln Group contract until Wednesday, when it was first described by The Los Angeles Times, said a senior military official who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Pentagon officials said General Pace and other top officials were disturbed by the reported details of the propaganda campaign and demanded explanations from senior officers in Iraq, the official said.

When asked about the article Wednesday night on the ABC News program "Nightline," General Pace said, "I would be concerned about anything that would be detrimental to the proper growth of democracy."

Others seemed to share the sentiment. "I think it's absolutely wrong for the government to do this," said Patrick Butler, vice president of the International Center for Journalists in Washington, which conducts ethics training for journalists from countries without a history of independent news media. "Ethically, it's indefensible."

Mr. Butler, who spoke from a conference in Wisconsin with Arab journalists, said the American government paid for many programs that taught foreign journalists not to accept payments from interested parties to write articles and not to print government propaganda disguised as news.

"You show the world you're not living by the principles you profess to believe in, and you lose all credibility," he said.

The Government Accountability Office found this year that the Bush administration had violated the law by producing pseudo news reports that were later used on American television stations with no indication that they had been prepared by the government. But no law prohibits the use of such covert propaganda abroad.

The Lincoln contract with the American-led coalition forces in Iraq has rankled some military and civilian officials and contractors. Some of them described the program to The New York Times in recent months and provided examples of the military's storyboards.

The Lincoln Group, whose principals include some businessmen and former military officials, was hired last year after military officials concluded that the United States was failing to win over Muslim public opinion. In Iraq, the effort is seen by some American military commanders as a crucial step toward defeating the Sunni-led insurgency.

Citing a "fundamental problem of credibility" and foreign opposition to American policies, a Pentagon advisory panel last year called for the government to reinvent and expand its information programs.

"Government alone cannot today communicate effectively and credibly," said the report by the task force on strategic communication of the Defense Science Board. The group recommended turning more often for help to the private sector, which it said had "a built-in agility, credibility and even deniability."

The Pentagon's first public relations contract with Lincoln was awarded in 2004 for about $5 million with the stated purpose of accurately informing the Iraqi people of American goals and gaining their support. But while meant to provide reliable information, the effort was also intended to use deceptive techniques, like payments to sympathetic "temporary spokespersons" who would not necessarily be identified as working for the coalition, according to a contract document and a military official.

In addition, the document called for the development of "alternate or diverting messages which divert media and public attention" to "deal instantly with the bad news of the day."

Laurie Adler, a spokeswoman for the Lincoln Group, said the terms of the contract did not permit her to discuss it and referred a reporter to the Pentagon. But others defended the practice.

"I'm not surprised this goes on," said Michael Rubin, who worked in Iraq for the Coalition Provisional Authority in 2003 and 2004. "Informational operations are a part of any military campaign," he added. "Especially in an atmosphere where terrorists and insurgents - replete with oil boom cash - do the same. We need an even playing field, but cannot fight with both hands tied behind our backs."

Two dozen recent storyboards prepared by the military for Lincoln and reviewed by The New York Times had a variety of good-news themes addressing the economy, security, the insurgency and Iraq's political future. Some were written to resemble news articles. Others took the form of opinion pieces or public service announcements.

One article about Iraq's oil industry opened with three paragraphs taken verbatim, and without attribution, from a recent report in Al Hayat, a London-based Arabic newspaper. But the military version took out a quotation from an oil ministry spokesman that was critical of American reconstruction efforts. It substituted a more positive message, also attributed to the spokesman, though not as a direct quotation.

The editor of Al Sabah, a major Iraqi newspaper that has been the target of many of the military's articles, said Wednesday in an interview that he had no idea that the American military was supplying such material and did not know if his newspaper had printed any of it, whether labeled as advertising or not.

The editor, Muhammad Abdul Jabbar, 57, said Al Sabah, which he said received financial support from the Iraqi government but was editorially independent, accepted advertisements from virtually any source if they were not inflammatory. He said any such material would be labeled as advertising but would not necessarily identify the sponsor. Sometimes, he said, the paper got the text from an advertising agency and did not know its origins.

Asked what he thought of the Pentagon program's effectiveness in influencing Iraqi public opinion, Mr. Jabbar said, "I would spend the money a better way."

The Lincoln Group, which was incorporated in 2004, has won another government information contract. Last June, the Special Operations Command in Tampa awarded Lincoln and two other companies a multimillion-dollar contract to support psychological operations. The planned products, contract documents show, include three- to five- minute news programs.

Asked whether the information and news products would identify the American sponsorship, a media relations officer with the special operations command replied, in an e-mail message last summer, that "the product may or may not carry 'made in the U.S.' signature" but they would be identified as American in origin, "if asked."

Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington for this article, and Kirk Semple and Edward Wong from Baghdad.

Marioville! Sports, Politics, Humor and more... / Harriet Miers Withdraws
« on: October 27, 2005, 11:24:02 AM »

Anyone else think we should have one? Save some time searching for where to go etc. 

Also, anyone ever look into buying something in Costa Rica?  been thinking about it seriously for almost a month now and have two guys interested with me.  might not take that long to save up for a down payment.

big tow surfing article in thursday's times.  i know it's been covered before and some are fans but i hate the brown trout.  of course it was in the fashion and style section.

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