U.S. Congress passes CAFTA with 2 vote House margin

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) early morning Thursday, with a narrow vote of 217 in favor, 215 against. Voting was held open for an hour, 45 minutes past the House’s 15-minute voting rule as the President along with other supporters lobbied into the night.

The vote was so close, if one House member changed a “Yea” vote to a “Nay” vote, CAFTA would have failed in a 216-216 tie.

In tallying the votes, 25 Republicans, mostly from Midwest Corn Belt and Rust Belt states and the Southeast United States’s textile industrial belt, broke party line to vote against the measure. Two Republicans were present, but refused to vote.

The Democrats presented a more united front. All but 15 Democrats present voted against the treaty. Independent House members, who usually vote with the Democrats also voted against the measure.

Supporters of the measure include President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. Opponents included most House Democrats.

The trade agreement already passed the Senate in June. President Bush has said he will sign it into law.

DR-CAFTA encompasses the following components:

  • Services: all public services are to be open to private investment.
  • Investment: governments promise to grant ironclad guarantees to foreign investment.
  • Government procurement: All government purchases must be open to transnational bids.
  • Market access: governments pledge to reduce and eventually to eliminate tariffs and other measures that protect domestic products.
  • Agriculture: duty-free import and elimination of subsidies on agricultural products.
  • Intellectual property rights: privatization of and monopoly over technological know-how.
  • Antidumping rules, subsidies and countervailing rights: governments commit to phase out protectionist barriers in all sectors.
  • Competition policy: the dismantling of national monopolies.
  • Dispute resolution: the right of transnationals to sue countries in private international courts.
  • Environmental protection: the enforcement of environmental laws and improvement of the environment.
  • Labor standards: the enforcement of the International Labour Organization‘s core labor standards.
  • Transparency: the reduction of government corruption.
  • Test-Data Exclusivity for pharmaceutical corporations
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Japanese researchers create smell sensor using genetically engineered frog eggs

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A University of Tokyo group of researchers, led by bioengineer Shoji Takeuchi, has made an electronic sensor capable of smelling gases. The sensor uses genetically engineered frog cells. Since previous sensors were not very accurate, the scientist decided to try a biological approach. The invention was revealed in a US scientific journal yesterday, and is supposed to be used to design better machines to detect polluting gases in the atmosphere.

Previous smell sensors were based on quartz rods, which vibrate when a substance binds to them. The gases are distinguished by their molar masses, which can be similar for molecules with different structure, thus relatively often triggering a false positive. Trying to find a more accurate solution, Takeuchi decided to follow an example from insect world. As he explained, “when you think about the mosquito, it is able to find people because of carbon dioxide from the human. So the mosquito has CO2 receptors. When we can (extract) DNA (from the mosquito) we can put this DNA into the frog eggs to detect CO2.”

Genes of several insects (the silk moth, diamondback moth and fruit fly), injected into African clawed frog Xenopus laevis eggs, allowed them to produce relatively inexpensive and useful sensors. The choice of the species was caused by their widely studied and well-understood protein expression mechanism.

The modified cells responded to three kinds of pheromones and one odourant, which have similar chemical properties. When a molecule of an odorous substance adhered to the receptor on the membrane protein, ion channels opened for a certain period of time, and a current was generated. Its magnitude was clearly different for all four tested substances, allowing to distinguish between them accurately.

The colleagues embedded the sensor into a mannequin, so that it could shake its head when a gas was detected. It was easier to observe. Pheromones and molecules with quite similar molecule structure produced clearly distinguishable reaction, with higher accuracy than other biological or human-made sensors. As the research group said, the detection sensitivity of the odor sensor is several tens of parts per billion (ppb), and it is as high as the sensitivity of an existing odor sensor that uses an oxide semiconductor. The distinctive feature of the new sensor is its capability to selectively detect some odorous substances, rather than its sensitivity. Very few false positives were possible due to the biological mechanism involved.

At normal temperature, the sensor lifetime is about 12 hours, which can be extended by putting it into a refrigerator before first use.

Shoji Takeuchi says has a great hope for research use in future, since the frog eggs are very practical for genetic engineering, and can be conveniently used to develop smell sensors for a wide range of gases. He said, “The X. laevis oocyte has high versatility for the development of chemical sensors for various odorants. We believe that a shared ability to smell might open a new relationship between man and robot. .. The research will have wide implications… If the sensor is embedded in a nursing robot, it will be able to identify certain mouth odors or body odors. Also, it can be used for detecting CO2, air pollution, water pollution and food. It’s very important for the environment.”

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Need Squirrel Removal? Fort Worth Tx Wildlife Control Experts Can Help

byAlma Abell

Most of us think of squirrels are cute, friendly, and harmless, so we ignore them when they scamper around our property. However, when these human-tolerant little rodents make themselves at home in our attics, they can actually damage our homes. When they need squirrel removal Fort Worth TX homeowners are finding that their best option is to call wildlife control experts, who can:

IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM: When customers hire professionals for squirrel removal Fort Worth TX experts are able to verify that squirrels are the problem. They can also locate any other pests during their evaluation. Squirrels, like other rodents, can create a health hazard, because they leave unsanitary waste in attics and other nesting areas. They also cause damage property, and can be especially destructive in attics and walls.

CREATE AN IMMEDIATE SOLUTION: When homeowners choose wildlife control professionals for squirrel removal Fort Worth TX technicians will humanely trap the animals, and relocate them safely. They can do this because they understand the animals’ living and nesting habits, so they will find all animals. This process is neither safe nor effective for homeowners to try. Animals can bite or scratch, and an untrained person is unlikely to locate all of the animals.

CREATE A LONG-TERM SOLUTION: Once squirrels have been removed from a home, there are two remaining problems. The home has usually sustained damage, and the animals could return. As part of effective squirrel removal Fort Worth TX professionals will teach customers how to eliminate any areas on their property that could attract rodents. They will also seal access areas and, if necessary, create one-way doors, which allow animals to get out, but not in. These professionals also offer online pest control education. If customers decide to Browse Site information will educate them about how to solve dozens of pest problems.

REPAIR DAMAGES: Technicians will provide an assessment of home damages cause by pests, and offer repair solutions.

Squirrels are friendly animals and most of us enjoy them, as long as they don’t invade our homes. When that happens, wildlife control experts can quickly find and remove all invaders, take measures to prevent their return, and assess any rodent damage.

Free Software Foundation releases first draft of GPLv3

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Free Software Foundation released the first draft for the next version of the GNU General Public License at the International Public Conference for GPLv3 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, today. The revisions mark the first changes to the GPL since the second version was released in 1991.

According to Richard M. Stallman, the president of the Free Software Foundation, the most significant change to the license are changes to allow GPLv3 to be compatible with other popular free software licenses, notably the Apache Software License 2.0 and the Eclipse license. A second significant change, according to Stallman, is the addition of a clause prohibiting the use of GPL software for Digital rights management (DRM), “something for which there can never be toleration.”

As of noon EST today, the license is available in draft form on the Free Software Foundation’s website. The conference about the license, which continues now and into Tuesday, is being held in Building 10, Room 250, on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Approximately 200 people attended the morning session of the conference, during which Eben Moglen gave what he called a “quick” 90 minute overview of the license changes.

This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

While Moglen’s presentation covered a great deal of legal detail, it was not without levity. When the cell phone of Dave Turner, an FSF staff member sitting in the front row, rang during Moglen’s speech, Stallman broke in, requesting of the audience, “If you have brought in a portable tracking and surveillance device, you should turn it off,” before making other remarks about the police.

The crowd at the conference included a large number of free software celebrities, including Bruce Perens, Andrew Tridgell, and Chris diBona. According to Wikinews reporter Brandon Stafford, it seemed that IBM and Sun were the corporations with the most employees present. Representing the companies were Bob Sutor, Craig Cook, and Mark Brown from IBM and Simon Phipps and Doug Johnson from Sun. Also in attendance were representatives from Intel, Redhat, MySQL AB, Hitachi, and Qualcomm, among others.

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Iconic London mural could be restored

Monday, September 20, 2010

One of London’s most well known murals could be restored after years of neglect if plans by a group of community activists gain public support. The Fitzrovia Mural at Whitfield Gardens on London’s Tottenham Court Road was created by two mural artists and commissioned by Camden Council in 1980, but the mural has since decayed and been vandalised.

Plans will be presented at a public meeting this Tuesday, to include details of the restoration and promote local public space in contrast to potential commercial developments and the focus of the London 2012 Olympics. If enough funds are raised from charitable trusts and public donations the mural could be restored during the summer of 2011.

Plans to be put forward by the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association, and the London Mural Preservation Society, will present ways to fund not only the restoration work but also projects to raise awareness of conservation, heritage, and the residential and working community. The heritage and mural project hopes to involve many local people who could learn new conservation skills. Also planned are workshops with local children to involve them in their heritage, an exhibition by local artists, guided tours and a celebratory event at the end of the restoration project. In addition to this, a booklet would be produced containing collected oral histories of the people involved and a preservation trust to protect the mural in future years.

The playful painting was created on a Camden Council-owned building in 1980 by artists Mick Jones, (son of the late Jack Jones, trade union leader) and Simon Barber and is a mash up of scenes depicting problems faced by the neighbourhood over the preceding decade.

There is also a caricature of poet Dylan Thomas, who lived in Fitzrovia, and a mocking portrayal of then leader of the Greater London Council, Conservative politician Horace Cutler, who is pictured as a bat-like creature. Other characters include an anonymous greedy developer and a property speculator counting piles of cash.

Peter Whyatt of the neighbourhood association is jointly leading the project to restore the mural. Yesterday he told Wikinews he had a number of concerns about the possible success of the project.

“There are a great number of problems with getting this project off the ground and we also need to act pretty quickly for a number of reasons,” said Mr Whyatt.

“Firstly the mural is in a terrible state and deteriorating quickly. There is more graffiti being daubed on the site every month because one bit of graffiti attracts another bit. We really need to start the work in the next 12 months because going through another winter with the condition of the wall will causes more problems and inevitably more expense. We want to keep as much original artwork on the site as possible to keep the costs down. This is a big mural and it will be expensive to restore,” he continued.

“And that brings me to my second concern: cost. If we don’t get other community organisations on board to bid for money for this with us and to involve their beneficiaries and volunteers, it will be very difficult to secure the money needed. Money is very tight at the moment because to the current financial climate. We need to get support at this meeting on Tuesday and some firm commitments from people and organisations to get involved.

“Lastly there is a danger of a commercial development on the site. A public-private partnership to create a new art feature. Because of the existing mural’s subject matter – it mocks property speculators, and land developers, etc – a commercial scheme probably backed by a property developer would not want to restore the mural’s original message. They’d want some “good news” scheme, some greenwash idea that paints them in a positive light.

“However, despite these problems, Camden Council have offered to do a condition survey on the mural. This will save us a lot of money. But having said that there are five council departments to deal with to get permission for this restoration work, and they don’t always talk to each other.

“But if the public and local voluntary organisations show their support, we can make it happen,” Mr Whyatt concluded.

The mural restoration will be just one part of a year long project of heritage and conservation awareness-raising. “The project is not just about the mural but also wider plans to promote awareness of heritage and conservation in an area of London under threat from commercial development. In fact the bulk of the project is about the heritage and conservation and the mural is just one part of it, and the most visible because of its situation,” Mr Whyatt later added.

There will be a public meeting about the heritage and mural project at 7.30 pm tomorrow (Tuesday), at the Neighbourhood Centre, 39 Tottenham Street. The public can also comment about the proposals on the Fitzrovia Heritage and Mural website.

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US House committee approves daylight saving time amendment

Thursday, April 7, 2005

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee passed an amendment on Wednesday to extend daylight saving time by two months. The bipartisan measure is sponsored by Representative Fred Upton, Republican of Michigan, and Representative Ed Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts.

“The more daylight we have, the less electricity we use,” Representative Ed Markey said. Markey also supported the measure by pointing out the business benefits. “There’s more economic activity, because people feel they can walk around safely,” he said.

“Extending daylight-saving time makes sense, especially with skyrocketing energy costs,” Rep. Fred Upton said.

The bill extends daylight saving time to begin on the first Sunday in March and to end on the last Sunday in November. Daylight saving time currently begins on the first Sunday in April and ends on the first Sunday in October.

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that extending daylight saving time would save 10,000 barrels of oil per day. The United States consumes approximately 20 million barrels of oil per day.

The House is planning to approve the energy bill to which the amendment was attached in several weeks. Several other amendments to the bill are still being debated.

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Bush, Martin, Fox hold summit, sign SPP accord

Thursday, March 24, 2005

American President George Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, and Mexican President Vicente Fox met at Baylor University in Waco, Texas on Wednesday. The leaders discussed cooperation in the areas of border security, trade, and immigration, signing an accord called the “Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America.”

“In a rapidly changing world, we must develop new avenues of cooperation that will make our open societies safer and more secure, our businesses more competitive, and our economies more resilient,” read a joint statement released by the three leaders.

The agreement calls for greater sharing of intelligence and the strengthening of infrastructure security. It also seeks to develop a common system for screening travellers, and promotes collaboration in the sectors of transportation, energy, technology, and financial services.

Each nation will set up ministerial-level working groups that will “set specific, measurable, and achievable goals and implementation dates” and “identify concrete steps the governments can take to achieve these goals,” according to a White House press release. The initial reports are due within 90 days.

President Bush, while not offering specific details, also said that he would “continue to push for reasonable, common-sense immigration policy with the United States Congress.”

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TAITRONICS Autumn 2007: A 3-in-1 combination and great innovations

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

2007 the 33rd Taipei International Electronics Autumn Show (TAITRONICS Autumn), organized by Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) and Taiwan Electrical and Electronic Manufactorers’ Association (TEEMA), started on October 9 -13 at Exhibition Hall 1 and 3 of Taipei World Trade Center (TWTC), and inconjunction with Taiwan International RFID Applications Show (RFID Taiwan) at TWTC Hall 3 and Taiwan International Photovoltaic Fourm & Exhibition (PV Taiwan) at Taipei International Convention Center (TICC). With the 3-in-1 combination, TAITRA and TEEMA hoped this show will integrate upper and lower companies of electronic manufacturers and companies in Taiwan.

This 3-in-1 show is mainly focused on electronics parts and components, RFID solutions, photovoltaic products, and medias on electrical industry. About 1000 exhibitors exhibited with 2100 booths at TWTC Hall 1 & 3 and TICC. In the theme pavilion section, iF Design Award in Hanover Fairs set “iF Design Pavilion” with lots of awarded 3C products in Taiwan first time, also, Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) showed their solutions on home entertainment such as 3D LCD wide screen display and game projector.

Not only ITRI and iF Design, TAITRA and TEEMA also set “Taiwan Innovalue and Branding Taiwan”, “Product Certificates and Testing”, “Cross-Strait Electrical Products”, “Security Products”, and “Broadband Communications” pavilions at this exhibition.

With those pavilions, TEEMA also held lots of seminars and forums on Bluetooth technology, electrical industry, testings and certifications, and International Electrotechnical Commission Quality (IECQ) system. Furthermore, CARTS Asia 2007 is the most welcomed seminar by buyers and exhibitors.

According to TAITRA, this 3-in-1 exhibition opened daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at October 9 to 13, PV Taiwan forum and exhibition will be held only two days on October 11 and 12. For the quality and security issue, minors under 18 ages are not permitted to enter the showground.

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Ways To Prevent Dog Bites

Submitted by: Jack Hazelton

We may think that our dog will never bite us or anyone else. However, 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs every year and most of them are by dogs they know. Of these, 885,000 require medical attention. Some people, especially children, can be seriously disfigured or even killed by a dog attack. Fortunately, there are ways that you and your children can stay safe when in the presence of dogs.

Risk factors

Children between the ages of 5 and 9 years old are most likely to be bitten by dogs. In addition, adult males and anyone who has a dog in their home have a greater chance of being bitten. Those with more than one dog are five times more likely to suffer a dog bite.

Before you bring a dog home

Although most children love animals, including dogs, others are more fearful. Take your child s feelings into consideration before bringing home a dog. If your child seems especially scared about having a dog in the home, it is a good idea to wait until he or she is older.

If you have children in your home, you will need to spend some time ensuring that you bring home a safe breed of dog. Some breeds, such as pitbulls, Rottweilers and Doberman Pinschers, are known for aggression and should be avoided. Labrador retrievers, poodles, beagles and collies are family-friendly dogs. You may also want to consult with a vet, dog breeder or animal behaviorist to determine what type of dog would work best for your family.

Before bringing a dog home, spend some time with it if possible. By interacting with it on several different occasions, you can get a good feel of the dog s personality as well as how it reacts to you and your child.

When a dog is already is in your home

Keep you and your children safe when interacting with your dog. Spaying or neutering your dog is recommended, as this can decrease aggression. You should properly train your dog to be submissive, which includes behaviors such as rolling over and giving up food without growling. Always supervise your dog when around children. Never let young children play with the dog alone. In addition, you can reduce dog bites by avoiding aggressive games.

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Be a responsible pet owner. Keep your dog up-to-date on vaccinations, especially rabies. Be sure your dog is licensed. Keep your dog locked up or in the house when you cannot supervise him. Do not allow him to roam outdoors if you cannot watch him.

Socialize your dog when he is a puppy so he can experience various situations without fear. This fear can lead to aggression and bites. If your dog begins to develop aggressive behaviors, seek the help of an animal behaviorist who can help you control your dog.

Avoiding dog bites

When children get older, teach them some rules about approaching other dogs. Just because their dog is friendly does not mean that all dogs are.

Never get close to a dog you don t know, especially one that is tied up or inside a kennel.

Always ask the owner before petting a dog.

Do not stare into a dog s eyes.

If you see a loose dog, tell an adult. Do not approach it or try to pet it.

Do not come near dogs that are eating, sleeping, playing with a toy or taking care of puppies.

If a dog approaches you

If you or your child is approached by a dog, follow these tips:

Do not scream or run away. Instead, stay still and quiet.

If you are knocked over, roll into a ball and lie still.

If the dog leaves you alone, back away slowly.

If he continues to attack you, distance yourself between you and the dog by putting a bicycle, jacket or other object in front of you.

If you are bitten

No matter how hard you try to get the dog to back off, he may still attack you. If he does, do the following:

Rinse any wounds with soap and water as soon as you are able.

Seek medical treatment immediately if the wounds are deep.

Report the bite to local animal control officers. Be sure to tell them anything you know about the dog, such as where he lives, what he looks like and in what direction he went.

If your dog bit someone

A dog owner s worst fear is having his or her dog bite someone. If this happens to you, stay calm. Confine your dog immediately and check on the victim. Call for medical help if needed. Give the victim information about your dog s vaccinations. Cooperate with animal control officers and follow their instructions. For example, you may be required to quarantine your dog for a specific period of time.

After the quarantine period, find resources that can help you modify your dog s aggressive behavior. Your vet can recommend a dog trainer or animal behavior specialist who can help. If training still does not control your dog s behavior, contact your vet or local humane society to determine your options.

About the Author: Dog Crate Sizes is a complete resources on dogs to include their care with a

puppy care guide

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Source:

isnare.com

Permanent Link:

isnare.com/?aid=1796719&ca=Pets

Chula Vista, California becomes model for blight control laws in the US

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The San Diego, California suburb of Chula Vista has responded to the recent housing crisis with an aggressive blight control ordinance that compels lenders to maintain the appearance of vacant homes. As foreclosures increase both locally and throughout the United States, the one year old ordinance has become a model for other cities overwhelmed by the problem of abandoned homes that decay into neighborhood eyesores.

Chula Vista city code enforcement manager Doug Leeper told the San Diego Union Tribune that over 300 jurisdictions have contacted his office during the past year with inquiries about the city’s tough local ordinance. Coral Springs, Florida, and California towns Stockton, Santee, Riverside County, and Murietta have all modeled recently enacted anti-blight measures after Chula Vista’s. On Wednesday, 8 October, the Escondido City Council also voted to tighten local measures making lenders more accountable for maintenance of empty homes.

Lenders will respond when it costs them less to maintain the property than to ignore local agency requirements.

Under the Chula Vista ordinance lenders become legally responsible for upkeep as soon as a notice of mortgage default gets filed on a vacant dwelling, before actual ownership of the dwelling returns to the lender. Leeper regards that as “the cutting-edge part of our ordinance”. Chula Vista also requires prompt registration of vacant homes and applies stiff fines as high as US$1000 per day for failure to maintain a property. Since foreclosed properties are subject to frequent resale between mortgage brokers, city officials enforce the fines by sending notices to every name on title documents and placing a lien on the property, which prevents further resale until outstanding fines have been paid. In the year since the ordinance went into effect the city has applied $850,000 in fines and penalties, of which it has collected $200,000 to date. The city has collected an additional $77,000 in registration fees on vacant homes.

Jolie Houston, an attorney in San Jose, believes “Lenders will respond when it costs them less to maintain the property than to ignore local agency requirements.” Traditionally, local governments have resorted to addressing blight problems on abandoned properties with public funds, mowing overgrown lawns and performing other vital functions, then seeking repayment afterward. Chula Vista has moved that responsibility to an upfront obligation upon lenders.

That kind of measure will add additional costs to banks that have been hit really hard already and ultimately the cost will be transferred down to consumers and investors.

As one of the fastest growing cities in the United States during recent years, Chula Vista saw 22.6% growth between 2000 and 2006, which brought the city’s population from 173,556 in the 2000 census to an estimated 212,756, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Chula Vista placed among the nation’s 20 fastest growing cities in 2004. A large proportion of local homes were purchased during the recent housing boom using creative financing options that purchasers did not understand were beyond their means. Average home prices in San Diego County declined by 25% in the last year, which is the steepest drop on record. Many homeowners in the region currently owe more than their homes are worth and confront rising balloon payment mortgages that they had expected to afford by refinancing new equity that either vanished or never materialized. In August 2008, Chula Vista’s eastern 91913 zip code had the highest home mortgage default rate in the county with 154 filings and 94 foreclosures, an increase of 154% over one year previously. Regionally, the county saw 1,979 foreclosures in August.

Professionals from the real estate and mortgage industries object to Chula Vista’s response to the crisis for the additional burdens it places on their struggling finances. Said San Diego real estate agent Marc Carpenter, “that kind of measure will add additional costs to banks that have been hit really hard already and ultimately the cost will be transferred down to consumers and investors.” Yet city councils in many communities have been under pressure to do something about increasing numbers of vacant properties. Concentrations of abandoned and neglected homes can attract vandals who hasten the decline of struggling neighborhoods. Jolie Houston explained that city officials “can’t fix the lending problem, but they can try to prevent neighborhoods from becoming blighted.”

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CEO Robert Klein of Safeguard, a property management firm, told the Union Tribune that his industry is having difficulty adapting to the rapidly changing local ordinances. “Every day we discover a new ordinance coming out of somewhere”, he complained. Dustin Hobbs, a spokesman from the California Association of Mortgage Bankers agreed that uneven local ordinances are likely to increase the costs of lending. Hobbs advised that local legislation is unnecessary due to California State Senate Bill 1137, which was recently approved to address blight. Yet according to Houston, the statewide measure falls short because it fails to address upkeep needs during the months between the time when foreclosure begins and when the lender takes title.

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