Fremont lawyer reportedly freed from Singapore

I just got an email saying that Gopalan Nair, the Fremont attorney whose spent much of this year detained in his native Singapore, has been released from a Singapore jail and arrived back in the U. S. yesterday.

Nair, an immigration attorney, who works in the same building as the Argus, was arrested on sedition charges in Singapore earlier this year after criticizing a judge on his blog, Singapore Dissident.

He was apparently sentenced to three months in prison back in September and was released last week for good behavior.


Burglaries a problem in Ardenwood, according to India West

I got this in a google alert. The article on Indiawest.com quotes Police Chief Craig Steckler emailing the following to an Ardenwood chat group:

“The Police Department has had patrol cars in the Ardenwood area consistently. We also put in over 300 hours of overtime with plainclothes officers in undercover cars in the neighborhoods in the Ardenwood area for the past several months,” added Steckler.

“We have arrested or identified 13 different people responsible for burglaries and thefts in the greater Ardenwood area,” Steckler wrote Nov. 20.

To read the entire story, click here.


Minutemen win lawsuit against county Republicans, thank media

For a quick refresher, a group of minutemen and Ron Paul supporters banded together this year to win seats and take control of the Alameda County Republican Central Committee. The didn’t get a majority, they got pretty close, and won a majority of seats in the Fremont area.

The more moderate chairman of the committee later filed suit charging that many of the candidates hadn’t been registered as Republicans long enough to qualify.

The Minutemen released a statement today that a superior court judge has sided with them. They thanked a long list of people and organizations, but number one was the Bay Area News Group, The Argus’ parent company. If I were them I would have put my lawyer first, but, hey, thanks for the plug.


Giving thanks

Millions of people will sit around the dinner table tomorrow and give thanks — for the roofs over their heads, the fact that they still have a job (as much as they may grumble about it) and for their family and friends. And if you’ve heard about Charmaine Kawaguchi (New Haven Teachers Association president), you may even pause to give thanks for the hair on your head.

Inspired by a friend who is undergoing chemotherapy, Charmaine — who for many years sported a braid that ran past her waist — recently chopped off about four feet of hair to donate to Locks of Love, a nonprofit that makes wigs to give to low-income children who are losing their hair due to cancer or other illnesses.

Here are before and after photos of Charmaine:

Disclosure: I, too, have donated to Locks of Love. However, my hair was never as long as Charmaine’s, and I only donated 14 inches. That reminds me: it’s time for another hair cut.


Water bills to rise

Finally, I have water bill bragging rights around here.

The Alameda County Water District is proposing raising rates by 6 percent, increasing the bimonthly service charge for the typical customer from $10.08 to $10.68.

The new annual rate for the Tri-City area would be $73.96 — That’s exactly four cents higher than what I have to pay with East Bay MUD in Berkeley, as long as I don’t get dinged with the surcharge.

Both districts are among the lowest in the Bay Area.

Burlingame is the most expensive at $152.22 per year.
San Jose is the cheapest at $58.69


Fun times at Ardenwood

Our Sunday reporter isn’t satisfied to just write pictures about whatever random events are happening in Fremont. He videotapes them too.

Click here for one about washing clothes the old fashion way.

It kinds of reminds me of my all-time favorite Holiday special, Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas.


Another Fremont parade in financial trouble

The Niles Festival of Lights Parade will go ahead rain or shine Friday.

But whether parade organizers at the Niles Merchants Association will have enough money to pay their vendors remains to be seen.

With the parade and Christmas tree lighting scheduled for Friday, the parade organizers are about $6,000 short of the $23,000 needed for the event. Event chairwoman, Marie Dear said that rising prices and decreased sponsorships account for the shortfall.

Excuse the pun, but helium prices are on the rise. And as the Fremont 4th of July and and Festival of India parade organizers learned this year, the city’s bill for staffing and policing parades has risen. Event Chairwoman Marie Dear was very diplomatic about that part. She wouldn’t even tell me the size of the increase.

It turns out that Niles businesses aren’t big contributors to the parade. Dear said she asked each business on Niles Boulevard to contribute just $25. Only 10 took her up on the offer. The biggest Niles contributors, she said, are The Florence, John Weed and the guy who owns the grocery store.

Fremont parades have been struggling this year. The A’s and Robson Homes helped bail out the July 4 parade, and the Festival of India Parade was cancelled due to lack of funds.

Anyway, anything in Niles is usually pretty fun, so if you want to help them out, call Dear at 792-8023


Goodbye vän

Photographer Bea Ahbeck is proof that you need not be tall to be Swedish nor have dark hair to be smart. She’s one short, blond, smart Swedish photographer.

Unfortunately for us at The Argus, however, The Tiniest Viking is the latest to get thrown overboard in the shipwreck that is the news business.

Her layoff was made official Friday.

It’s a big loss. Bea’s tough as nails: both at the Argus poker table, where she finished many a close seconds, and out in the field.

We worked Sundays together in 2006. I remember one time she climbed to the edge of a cliff to get the best possible picture of a hang glider who had crashed below.

That autumn was Stakeout Sunday. Nearly every week between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Fremont cops were doing some kind of SWAT operation usually with a crazy person trapped inside of a house. We’d sneak around barriers and peak over fences looking for better views and people to talk to, often during NY Giants games that I was missing.

Here are some of the photos that will be missing from the paper now that she’s gone.

There’s the artistic shots, like this during a project in Africa:

The American classic shots:

The portraits:

The underwater:

The beautiful:

And, the truly scary:

We also won’t have her web productions, including this really funny one about peacocks in Union City.

But Bea’s still around. She actually lives in Fremont, and, in case you’re in the market, I hear she’s a super great wedding photographer.

As for the Argus, we still have an excellent photographer based out of Fremont, and others have come down to help out when he’s not around. And, if they can’t make it down here, fear not, I have a Cannon four megapixel sharpshooter, and I’m not afraid to use it.

Check out this self-portrait. The future of newspapers is at hand: