8A - Thursday, March 6, 2008
From Page 1A
by about 50 residents, most of whom
ly erupted into a tense back-and-forth
between neighbors and speakers.
Residents interrupted the presen-
tation to question whether develop-
ment would fit with Ann Arbor's
Developers from the University-
Ann Arbor LLC, the firm develop-
ing University Village - an upscale
complex aimed at students -
unveiled and presented their plans
for the project at a conference cen-
ter on State Street. The team invited
Ann Arbor realtors, members of the
city's planning commission, archi-
tects and property owners to the
public forum, but did not publicize
the meeting to students.
Residents were skeptical about
the project's scale, fearingthe high-
rise would block out too much sun-
light. The complex's two towers
would match the height of Tower
Plaza, Ann Arbor's tallest building.
According to the current plans,
The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
the complex would house 1,400
students and 260 cars and would
replace Village Corner grocery
store, Champions party store and
laundromat, and homes on Forest
and South University Avenues.
said that the development would
revitalize the South University
neighborhood - which he said has
recently experienced a downturn
- by making the area more pedes-
trian-friendly and dense, like Chi-
cago or New York.
"Growth is going to happen,"
he said over the loud objections of
many in the crowd. "It's just a ques-
tion of how."
But property owners and resi-
dents at the meeting expressed dis-
taste a building that they felt could
weaken the city's already threat-
ened small-town dynamic.
"This isn't Chicago," said Tom
Cavalier, who lives on South Forest
Eleanor Linn, who lives on Forest
"It's a dynamic area, and it's got
a lot going on, but that's why I've
chosen to live in Ann Arbor and not
Chicago." Linn's exclamation was
followed by sharp applause.
Maggie Ladd, the executive chair
of the South University neighbor-
hood association, said the area
needs to be revitalized, calling it "a
sewer." Her neighbors did not share
"This is where we live!" said Linn,
who was again met with applause.
Erik Majcher, a University alum
who is consulting on the project,
said if students knew more about
the project they would back it.
"If you were to ask them, I think
most students would be very positive
about this development," he said.
By the end of the month, the city's
planning commission is expected to
recommend whether the City Coun-
cil should approve the proposal.
City Council member Joan Low-
enstein (D-Ward 2) said she thought
the meeting was a pre-emptive
response to anew city resolutionstill
in its preliminary stages. As drafted,
the resolution would require devel-
opers to inform and ask input from
all residents within 1,000 feet of
their projects before the plans are
brought before City Council.
Sabra Briere (D-Ward 1), the
council member who drafted the
resolution, said that the planning
commission and planning depart-
ment are not "particularly thrilled"
about the change because it will
slow the process down.
Briere said she proposed the
requirements because two large
developments - a hotel on Wash-
ington Street and a housing complex
on Maple Road - were voted down
by city council due to strong public
opposition. Lack of planning and pub-
lic communication, she said, breeds
"immediate hostility to change."
Briere said University Village
may have difficulty passing City
Council because its developers are
trying to obtain brownfield funding,
a tax break from the county and city
that is usually reserved for develop-
ing areas that have been devastated
by pollution or chemical waste.
"I have no idea how development
on South University qualifies as a
brownfield," she said. She said she
plans to attend another public meet-
ing with developers at Burns Park
Elementary School tonight to dis-
cuss brownfield funding.
The new revolution in
Cuba will be digitized
By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.
The New York Times
HAVANA - A growing under-
ground network of young people
armed with computer memory
sticks, digital cameras and clan-
destine Internet hookups has
been mounting some challenges to
the Cuban government in recent
months, spreading news the offi-
cial state media try to suppress.
Last month, students at a presti-
gious computer science university
videotaped an ugly confrontation
they had with Ricardo Alarcon, the
president of the National Assem-
bly. Alarcon seemed flummoxed
when students grilled him on why
they could not travel abroad, stay
at hotels, earn better wages or use
search engines like Google. The
video spread like wildfire through
Havana, passed from person to per-
son, and seriously damaged Alar-
con's reputation in some circles.
Something similar happened in
late January when officials tried to
impose a tax on the tips and wages
of employees of foreign compa-
nies. Workers erupted in jeers and
shouts when told about the new
tax, a moment caught on a cell
phone camera and passed along by
"It passes from flash drive to
flash drive," said Ariel, 33, a com-
puter programmer, who, like
almost everyone else interviewed
for this article, asked that his last
name not be used for fear of politi-
cal persecution. "This is going to
get out of the government's hands
because the technology is moving
Cuban officials have longlimited
the public's access to the Internet
and digital videos, tearing down
unauthorized satellite dishes
and keeping down the number
of Internet cafes open to Cubans.
Only one Internet cafe remains
open in old Havana, down from
three a few years ago.
Hidden in a small room in the
depths of the Capitol building, the
state-owned cafe charges a third
of the average Cuban's monthly
salary -- about $5 --to usea com-
puter for an hour. The other two
former Internet cafes in central
Havana have been converted into
"postal services" that let Cubans
send e-mail messages over a
closed network on the island with
no links to the Internet. "It's a
sort of telegraph service," said
one young man, shrugging as he
waited in line to use the comput-
ers at a former Internet cafe on
Yet the government's attempts
to control access are increasingly
ineffective. Young people here
say there is a thriving black mar-
ket givingthousands of people an
underground connection to the
world outside the Communist
People who have smuggled in
satellite dishes provide illegal
connections to the Internet for
a fee or download movies to sell
on discs. Others exploit the con-
nections to the Web of foreign
businesses and state-run enter-
prises. Employees with the ability
to connect to the Internet often
sell their passwords and identi-
fication numbers for use in the
middle of the night.
Hotels catering to tourists
provide Internet services, and
Cubans also exploit those con-
duits to the Web.
Even the country's top com-
puter science school, the Univer-
sity of Information Sciences, set
in a campus once used by Cuba's
spy services, has become a hot-
bed of cyber-rebels. Students
download everything from the
latest American television shows
to articles and videos criticizing
the government, and pass them
quickly around the island.
"There is a whole underground
market of this stuff,"Ariel said.
The video of Alarcon's clash
with students was leaked to the
BBC and CNN, giving the world
a rare glimpse of the discontent
among the young with the sys-
tem. His answers to the questions
seemed evasive. Asked about the
ban on travel, Alarcon suggested
that if everyone who wished to
were allowed to travel, there
would not be enough airspace for
Some young journalists have
also started blogs and Internet
news sites, using servers in other
countries, and their reports are
reaching people through the digi-
Yoani Sanchez, 32, and her
husband, Reinaldo Escobar, 60,
established Consenso desde Cuba,
a Website based in Germany. San-
chez has attracted a considerable
following with her blog, called
Generacion Y, in which she has
artfully written gentle critiques
of the government by describ-
ing her daily life in Cuba. San-
chez and her husband said they
believed strongly in using their
names with articles despite the
possible political repercussions.
Shortly before Raul Castro was
elected president last week to
replace his ailing brother Fidel,
Sanchez wrote a piece describing
whatsortof president she wanted.
She said the country did not need
a soldier, a charismatic leader or
a great speaker, but "a pragmatic
housewife" who favored freedom
of speech and open elections.
Writing later about Raul Cas-
tro's first speech as president, she
criticized his vague promises of
change, saying they were as clear
as the Rosetta Stone was when it
was first found. Both essayswould
be impossible to publish in Cuba.
"The Internet has become the
she said in an interview.
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