Friday, June 29, 2007

Sicko: Aiming For Tearjerker Status

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Michael Moore's new film Sicko premiered last night at The Flicks, to good effect among Ada County Democrats, who cheered his every laugh line.

But aside from the stirring footage, the film wasn't much more than a repeated whiffle-ball bat to the head: Socialized! (whack) Medicine! (whack) Now! (whack)

The only problem is, we don't get much more than that.

Yes, there were tears in the audience, and there were lots of laughs at all the right points. Moore has at least learned a few things that are now a reliable part of his shtick:

1. Playing dumb. Moore does a great job of appearing surprised that Canadians, Cubans, French and Brits all have universal coverage. The "ah ha" moments are plainly staged, but get good laughs. Moore is an excellent foil, with his large face going from befuddled, to dumbfounded, and finally to incredulous. It's the everyman act he started in "Roger and Me" and has used to great effect since then.

2. Jerking tears. Moore found his American health care nightmare stories by asking for them on his Web site. And he got some doozies, including the guy who had to choose which of his two fingers that were cut off to re-attach. Doing them both, he was told, would be too expensive. He chose his ring finger. Oy. But his story was nothing compared to the 9/11 heroes that Moore dragged around with him for the latter half of the movie, in a quest to find better health care in Cuba. (Surprise: they found it.)

3. Making opponents look dumb. Starting a movie with a George Bush gaffe is a dandy way to set the tone. Making Hillary Clinton look like she was bought into silence on health care by lobbying bucks is another neat trick. The enemies of universal coverage are "the powers that be," (yes, he actually uses that phrase) and they are the reason we have the ridiculous system we now have.

The film serves as great relief to anyone who's had to fret over prescription drug costs, or who has had to fight with their insurer over their bill, or who has wondered what it would be like to have true universal coverage. Those people will find comfort.

But that's all the film wants to do. I imagine that a movie that tried to explain how to get there wouldn't be as marketable.

If Moore's film succeeds in pushing health care issues into the media spotlight, then it's worth every penny. Those people who just don't wanna take it any more should see this movie. You still won't want to take it any more, but misery loves company.

But if you're looking for answers, you're looking in the wrong place.

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One Down

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2007 at 4:00 AM

The race for Boise City Council is down one candidate.

Shaun Stamper stopped by the BW office earlier today to announce that he is withdrawing from the race for Seat 1, currently held by Alan Shealy. Stamper said medical reasons are forcing him to leave the race.

“It’s a responsible, but tough choice to have to withdraw,” he said.

Stamper first came the public’s attention last year when he planned a hunger strike to protest the fact that many sidewalks and intersections in Boise do not meet federal requirements for handicapped accessibility. The protest was called off the day before it was scheduled to begin, after Ada County Highway District officials told Stamper the agency had recently completed a study on that very topic.

While he has to leave the race this year, Stamper said he is not ruling out a future run.

There are currently no other challenger for Shealy’s seat, and Shealy himself has yet to decide if he will run again.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Micron: What's Your Favorite Rumor?

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2007 at 4:00 AM

We've heard 'em all, and so have you.

Vote on your favorite Micron rumor, to be resolved this afternoon!

Will Micron:

(a) Accept the resignation of Steve Appleton?

(b) Fire 2,000 people?

(c) Move some major operations to Thailand?

(d)Shutter the Manassas, Virginia operation?

(e)Open a theme park on the campus?

We welcome your ideas and comments. And then we'll all watch the 2:30p.m. earnings release. Come on by, we'll have chips (not wafers) and drinks.

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Back to Court

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2007 at 4:00 AM

The Idaho Business Review announced today that it’s heading back to court over the right to print legal notices.

The paper will appeal the ruling of Fourth District Court Judge Deborah Bail, who ruled in May that all public and private legal notices must be printed in a paper of general circulation, defined as the paper with the largest paid circulation.

The Idaho Statesman filed suit against IBR in October 2006 in an effort to stop the business-oriented paper from printing these small, but lucrative ads. Fighting the suit, IBR claimed that there are 130 state statutes that do not have the general circulation requirement, and therefore can be printed in any newspaper.

IBR is requesting that enforcement of the ruling be put on hold until the appeals process has finished.

According to a story published by IBR, Boise attorney Robert Aldridge has submitted and affidavit in support of IBR’s case, stating that the ruling could throw probate code cases into question, since many have been based on the publication of legal notices in newspapers other than the Statesman.

An initial hearing on the appeals motion is scheduled for July 18.

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Micron Reports $225 Million Loss, Job Cuts Expected

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Boise-based Micron Technology is reporting a $225 million loss for the company's third quarter. The loss comes in the face of dropping prices for computer memory chips due to a glut of products on the market.

Due to this Micron CEO Steve Appleton said some job cuts are on the way, although no specific numbers were mentioned.The loss calculates to roughly $.29 cents per share. Sales fell by 1.4 percent to $1.29 billion.

This is the second quarter in a row the company has reported a loss.

What this means for Treasure Valley jobs has yet to be seen.

More updates to come.

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Update: Micron to Cut Jobs

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Boise-based Micron Technology is reporting a $225 million loss for the company’s third quarter. The loss comes in the face of dropping prices for computer memory chips due to a glut of products on the market.

Due to this Micron CEO Steve Appleton said some job cuts are on the way, although no specific numbers were mentioned.

The financial loss calculates to roughly $.29 cents per share, and sales fell by 1.4 percent to $1.29 billion. This is the second quarter in a row the company has reported a loss.

Chief among concerns in the Treasure Valley, where Micron is the largest private employer, is what the loss means for jobs. “We expect to have lower levels of employment,” Appleton said during a conference call.

While he failed to elaborate on just how many jobs this will equate to, the statement confirms rampant rumors of across the board layoffs. According to the Micron Web site, the company currently employs 22,600 people around the world.

The last time Micron had mass layoffs was 2003, when 1,800 employees worldwide lost their jobs, including 1,100 in Boise.

Reading between the lines of a press release issued by the company, it appears that Micron is preparing to move some operations overseas in addition to cutting employees.

“The company is pursuing a number of initiatives to drive greater cost efficiencies and revenue growth across its operations,” the statement read. “These initiatives include developing production cost efficiencies closer in location to Micron’s global customers, evaluating functions more efficiently performed through partnerships or other outside relationships and reducing the company’s overhead costs to meet or exceed industry benchmarks. Micron is also exploring opportunities to leverage the company’s industry-leading technology and diversified product portfolio to accelerate revenue growth and increase shareholder value. While some elements of these initiatives will be effected immediately, others will take multiple quarters to implement.”

In addition to the revenue reports, Micron also announced that chief operating officer Mark Durcan has been appointed president, as well as COO, a position he has held since last year.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

City Hall Debut

Posted By on Wed, Jun 27, 2007 at 4:00 AM

The City of Boise is opening the doors of its new digs for the first time on Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m.

The public is invited to check out the new location of City Hall West, which will serve as the home of the Boise Police Department and Boise Fire Department administration.

The city recently purchased the 90,000-square-foot building and land for just more than $10 million. The site formerly housed a Hewlett-Packard call center. Thanks to its former incarnation, the building comes complete with audio-visual equipment, a security system, office furniture and roughly 150 cubicles.

City officials estimate it will cost an additional $4 million to retrofit the building before it can be opened, currently scheduled for next summer. Once completed, City Hall West will house the emergency call center, as well as other police and fire offices. Additionally, the city plans to offer a limited number a city services at the building, allowing residents of west Boise to pay utility bills, parking tickets and return library books at the new location.

The facility will also include meeting rooms for public use, and the Boise City Council will hold meetings there on occasion. The new building is located at 333 N. Sailfish Place, off Emerald Street between Maple Grove and Five Mile roads.

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Road Rage

Posted By on Wed, Jun 27, 2007 at 4:00 AM

If you think driving on Boise’s roads has become a little more risky—you’re right.

The Boise Police Department concluded a special two-week patrol targeting aggressive driving. In just that time, police issued 745 citations as part of the special effort.

The targeted patrols were thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Idaho Transportation Department to pay for several additional patrols each day. Officers were looking for offences ranging from speeding and following too close, to running red lights and failing to yield right-of-way.

Between June 10 and June 23, officers issued 745 aggressive driving citations, including four for drunken driving; 98 citations for non-moving violations including expired registration and no insurance; and seven citations for not buckling up.

“We do know aggressive driving is a major cause of accidents. We hope these patrols helped educate motorists to the dangers they can put themselves and others in when they drive too fast, too close to other cars, or don’t follow signals and signs,” said Officer Eric Simunich of the Boise Police Motors Unit in a prepared statement.

What does this mean Boise? It’s time to put the cell phone down, stop at those pesky red lights and show some courtesy on the roads.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Warren Jones: ID's New Supe

Posted By on Tue, Jun 26, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has named Warren Jones, a 63-year-old Boise lawyer, to the Idaho Supreme Court.

Warren will take over from retiring Chief Justice Gerald Schroeder on July 31.

More from Otter's office:

“Justice Jones brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Idaho’s highest court. His impressive 37-year legal career has sharpened his intellect and strengthened his commitment to the Idaho Constitution and the rule of law,” Otter said, in a prepared statement. “His colleagues in the Idaho Bar agree that he is balanced, fair and impartial, and that his temperament will fit well in a collegial setting with the other justices.”

Jones, 63, will serve the remainder of Schroeder’s term, which expires January 7, 2009, and will stand for election in May 2008. He also will join the four remaining members of the high court in electing a new chief justice to a four-year term in that role.

The annual salary for each of the five Supreme Court justices increases from $110,500 to $114,900 on July 1.

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Update: Gonzales Shouted Out?

Posted By on Tue, Jun 26, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Updated:

What was supposed to be a press conference on the lawn of the Boise Community Center with U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, wasn't.

Instead, about 100 protesters singing songs and chanting slogans against U.S. war crime policies appear to have drowned out Gonzales's interest in coming outside.

CRAIG CLARK
  • Craig Clark

Instead, one of Gonzales's staff appeared, to announce that the news conference would be moved inside, away from the crowd, for press only.

"Coward!" shouted several in the crowd.

Update:.

"I hope he heard us," said Mary Donato, who joined protesters at the site. "I think people in Idaho are not as happy with the Bush administration as some people think."

Gonzales was supposed to be in town to meet with local anti-gang groups. But the ongoing furor over his firing of several U.S. attorneys, and of his role in controversial Bush policies, has made him a target even in red-state Idaho.

While waiting for Gonzales to appear, Jim Hansen, the director of United Vision for Idaho, a social-action group, briefly took over the empty podium set up outside the Community Center to deliver some remarks about Gonzales's appearance.

"We have a lot of tremendous concerns about our Constitution, about civil rights," said Hansen. "We're deeply concerned about America's standing abroad. That has been destroyed and undermined by the U.S. government."

Hansen then took aim at Gonzales.

"It comes right back to the Department of Justice, where the questions need to be answered," Hansen said. "We would welcome him to announce his resignation today."

Update Part Two:

Just got word from our man on the inside: Bill Cope tells us Gonzales spent all of about five minutes with press in the confines of the U.S. Attorney's office here in Boise.

Although Gonzales was hoping to deal with questions about the anti-drug efforts in the Treasure Valley, questions about his dodging the mob at the Community Center inevitably arose.

Rather than get distracted by the protesters, Gonzales said, he preferred the quieter venue to discuss the local issue of the day.

We'll have photos later. Stay tuned.

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