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July 10, 2007

City Strobe

It’s lonely at the topWith the overwhelming majority of Americans opposed to the Iraq war, even Republican senators are waking up and smelling the IEDs. In recent days, staunch Bush supporters Richard Lugar of Indiana, Pete Domenici of New Mexico, John Warner of Virginia and the somewhat-less-staunch Olympia Snowe of Maine have pressured the president to begin supporting the troops by bringing them home. Many other Republicans who face re-election are also cutting and running from “we can’t cut-and-run.” Most red state voters are of one of two opinions about their political leaders: Either vote the bums out of office or at least persuade them to stop opposing the will of the people to end the war. Whichever camp you’re in, there’s a role for you to play at www.noiraqescalation.org. That’s the address of “Americans Against Escalation in Iraq,” a coalition of groups — including MoveOn.org, Americans United for Change and the Center for American Progress — that routinely make Rush Limbaugh pop a neck vein. The coalition now has Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell — also facing major criticism for bailing on his party during the immigration debate last week — in its crosshairs. Over the next few months, the organization promises letter-writing and Web campaigns, volunteer events and other activities in Kentucky, all designed to shine a light on McConnell’s support for escalating the war. McConnell, already the target of a campaign by the Sunlight Foundation for blocking a bill that would make campaign finances more transparent, is caught between Iraq and a hard place: He can abandon Bush and look like a flip-flopper, or stay the course and look hopelessly out of touch. The smart money says the slippery senator will search for some middle ground between now and autumn, which marks the famous “surge” deadline. —Jim WelpA Wi-Fi directory for the massesA chubby blue dot is about to pimp out Louisville’s wireless Internet scene. Mr. Hotspot, a personified circle you’ll see a lot more often in the coming days, is the faceless mascot of Louisville Hotspot, a joint venture between Metro government and Greater Louisville Inc. meant to draw attention to Wi-Fi in the Metro.  At its most fundamental, Louisville Hotspot is an online directory of local businesses that offer wireless Internet access, helping bring Louisville into 2003. The affiliated Web site, www.louisvillehotspot.com, breaks down the city by region and lists the locations of free or paid wireless access in those areas. The project also aims to increase the number of Wi-Fi-friendly businesses and blanket the Metro area with coverage, according to Mike Spurlock, director of IT operations for E.ON U.S., a Hotspot sponsor. To foster that, the city partnered with two local Internet service providers — Boice.net and Fortress Network Security — to offer 30-percent discounts on wireless service for businesses that sign up through the Web site. GLI’s Technology Network — aka TeN — hatched the idea for the project in 2005, after a study comparing Louisville’s wireless access to peer cities such as Indianapolis and Lexington found the Metro behind the times. Spurlock, who previously chaired TeN, said Wi-Fi plays a role in economic development. “A city that doesn’t have wireless at some level, in my opinion, is not considered very progressive and is going to get left behind,” he said. “Every city has to provide that — it’s like electricity.”Atomic Saucer co-owner Erika Flynn enabled wireless access six months after she opened the Germantown coffee shop in 2004.“It’s one of first questions I get asked from people who haven’t been to Atomic Saucer,” Flynn said. “ will definitely make things easier for people who haven’t been to my coffee shop to know beforehand.”So far, 75 businesses have signed up. Others can join them by filling out a form on the site. Part of Louisville Hotspot’s campaigning, along with Mr. Hotspot, includes window decals for places offering wireless service.Though Metro government does not offer complete coverage, the city has public wireless points downtown at places such as Waterfront Park, Fourth Street Live and a portion of the Fourth Street corridor. —Ryan RealHumana employees: Sick over “Sicko”? Let us knowIf you’re conscious, not a well-paid healthcare company employee or his progeny, and you’ve seen Michael Moore’s “Sicko,” chances are you’re even more outraged about the unconscionable state of American healthcare than you were last time your provider denied your claim. You’re not alone. Executives at many American healthcare companies are up in arms about the film, too, according to memos that have leaked from several majors since the film’s premiere a few weeks ago. But they’re pissed for an altogether different reason. Louisville’s own Humana is a prominent villain in the film. We’ve heard plenty about the company’s response inside the tower at Fifth and Main — there’s word of memos directing employees to stay away from media and instructing them on truths and falsehoods in Moore’s film. LEO would love to have those, and would print them unedited and in their entirety. But we need you to send them. So, Humana employees, without fear of reprisal (LEO guarantees your anonymity here), dial up that personal e-mail account on a computer not owned by Humana and send us those memos. Or drop them by headquarters. Or put them in the mail: 640 S. Fourth St., Suite 100, 40202. We look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, Google “Michael Moore rips Wolf Blitzer” and watch the video. —Stephen GeorgeRefugees on film While the immigration bill lies dead in the hands of Congress and the prospect of a meaningful solution to the hot-button immigration issue seems dim, Kentucky Refugee Ministries is trotting out a film series to shed light on a different kind of emigrant: refugees. A refugee is a person who has left his or her home country after becoming the victim of war or persecution, religious or political. As the end of this fiscal year looms in September, Louisville — particularly KRM and Catholic Charities — stands to take on an unusually large influx of refugees whose ability to gain that status has been delayed by the State Department. The series began Sunday and continues through July 22 at the Elaine Chao Auditorium at U of L’s Ekstrom Library. “Roosevelt’s America” and “Settling in Seattle,” both short films, will run this Sunday. “God Grew Tired of Us,” a film about the Sudanese “Lost Boys,” screens July 22. This Sunday’s fare is free; next week it’s $10, as that film, something of a national phenomenon, is costly to screen.“This year the thing that spurred us on was ‘God Grew Tired of Us,’” Carol Young, KRM’s executive director, told LEO. “And we thought if we could get it, it would show something pretty special about the refugees and how they resettle.” —Stephen GeorgeCheck out “The Lip: LEO’s News Blog” at www.leoweekly.com. Contact the writers at citystrobe@leoweekly.com