Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Elias a strong progressive choice for Pima chair

TUCSON -- Richard Elias will be the next chair of the Pima County Board of Supervisors. This is great. Elias is the most progressive member on a fairly progressive board.

Good luck, Richard. We need strong local government now more than ever to hold off the extremist state and feds.

Right now, the suckers in congress are giving constant canned applause to GW Bush's State of the Union speech. What a bunch of BS, Bush's never ending terrorism scare tactics and open ended wars. This is the worst president in modern times and he should be run out of town with the other crazy baldheads.

Charlie Rangel (D-NY) is sitting down, not clapping, as are many others with heart. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) is beaming and clapping like a lapdog. My congressman Raul Grijalva is not clapping, I'm sure of it, he may not even be there.

Voters need to clean house and boot the chumps this fall. Make Bush a truly failed lame duck. Take your 'patriot' act and shove it, GW.

Bush talks about 'oil addiction' but wants to waive environmental laws for open pit oil shale mining across the west, and not consider its addition to global warming pollution. More irresponsible jeopardizing of our future by BushCheneyBigEnergyDeath, Inc.

Richard Elias and the Pima board represent political hope in these dark times.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Dems collapse, fail to sustain Alito filibuster

WASHINGTON -- 19 dem Senators, including Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, voted today with the republicans to end a filibuster of the Alito nomination to the US Supreme Court.

24 other dems, and the one Independent in the Senate (Jeffords of Vermont) voted to support the filibuster.

The 19 yes dem votes to end filibuster: Akaka, Hawaii; Baucus, Mont.; Bingaman, N.M.; Byrd, W.Va.; Cantwell, Wash.; Carper, Del.; Conrad, N.D.; Dorgan, N.D.; Inouye, Hawaii; Johnson, S.D.; Kohl, Wis.; Landrieu, La.; Lieberman, Conn.; Lincoln, Ark.; Nelson, Fla.; Nelson, Neb.; Pryor, Ark.; Rockefeller, W.Va.; Salazar, Colo.

Too many dems cave. Alito will now be confirmed to the Supreme Court tomorrow, a low point in US judicial history.

Only a big shakeup of congress in the 06 elections can save our rights and liberties now.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Big gov't harassment inspires borderlands rhyme

SE ARIZONA -- 06 borderlands blues poem by a friend, a true story; spoken over trucker music, with harmonica.

Rolling down highway 83 in my big chevy.
US Border Patrol riding on my tail real heavy.

He's a pulling me over to the side of the road.
Checking to see what I've got in my load.

Nothing but a pistol and that ain't no shittin'.
A born and raised patriotic American citizen.

Now listen here copper, scolds my wife.
I sure don't appreciate you given us strife.

Leave us alone now won't you please.
We ain't your fans like those scared honkies.

(sing) Oh Border Patrol, Oh Border Patrol, please go back to O-hi-o.
Y'all are wrecking our desert home, so please go home and leave us alone.

(repeat)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Cowmen bitch, so feds killing coyotes from the sky

UPDATE, Jan 27: We were up at 4:30am and down on the borderlands with media today in the San Rafael Valley, Canelo Hills, and Patagonia Mountains. Saw the USDA aircraft and followed it for hours, often at far distance. It flew mostly over the Coronado National Forest, often circling, zig-zagging, and flying at very low elevation, spending a lot of time gunning in the Canelo Hills, Patagonia Mountains, and Huachuca Mountains. Heard 4-5 quick and loud shots from gov't aircraft around 8:45am along west side of valley and Patagonia Mountains. The wildlife killers worked over the Mustang Mountains near Elgin AZ yesterday. In response to rancher demands, USDA says it has killed at least 200 coyotes by aerial gunning recently in Cochise and Santa Cruz counties.

*

NOGALES AZ -- Bush's US Agriculture Dept. today started aerial gunning coyotes after ranchers complained about them, according to information today from an agency insider.

Aerial gunning is government gunmen flying around in small planes or helicopters, looking for coyotes, often in communication with spotters on the ground, then shooting them down from the sky with rifles. The photo here shows coyotes mowed-down and killed by aerial gunning. Aerial gunning is unethical and inhumane, sadly it is just one way governments kill millions of wild animals every year at the request of the agriculture industry. For an important history on government wildlife killing, read Predatory Bureaucracy, the new book by Michael J. Robinson, writer and activist from Pinos Altos NM.

The killing from the air is reportedly happening now through Jan 29 near the US-Mexico border, in a 30 mile area between Nogales and the Coronado National Memorial, south of Sierra Vista. Much of this scenic area is public lands within the Coronado National Forest, open to everyone if you want to visit soon and look around.

Coyotes are said to also be targeted on private lands along this border region. A large area of private lands in the San Rafael Valley is managed by the Nature Conservancy and Arizona State Parks. Given the sometimes questionable conservation politics of these two organizations, it is possible they are allowing aerial gunning or at least going along with it. It is also possible they may not know.

If ranchers want to graze their non-native livestock on public lands, they must live with the native wildlife there, including coyotes (and wolves, jaguars, etc.). Instead too many cowmen want to tame wildplaces by wiping out most wildlife and carnivores, and the feds are always there to help. Sickening. Coyotes may pack up and catch a sick calf or old sick cow, but they are too small to pose a significant threat to cattle.

Restore the land. Stop aerial gunning. Stop welfare ranching.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Standing room only at upbeat Giffords race kickoff

TUCSON -- Former State Senator Gabby Giffords formally kicked off her campaign for congress this windy morning at the Arizona Inn. A big crowd was there, including Rep. Grijalva to introduce her and offer his strong endorsement to boost her campaign.

The event started with everyone singing 'America the beautiful', which I enjoyed. Then mostly general comments about 'our future' were made by some guests, including Eddie Basha. The mood was optimistic and positive.

This is a key race for Arizona and America. Right now I give the advantage to 35 year old Giffords to win this important seat. Clearly, she has the mojo right now on the dem side of this race. She's an Arizona native who's tactful, smart, and tough enough to take down most Republicans -- including offensive blowhards like Randy Graf.

The primary will be good between Giffords, Patty Weiss, Jeff Latas, Cochise County Supervisor Paul Newman (if he enters the race), and others. Get involved, support your candidate, and vote.

Oh Canada, turning right like the USA

OTTAWA -- Canadians are becoming more like Americans, unwisely electing 'conservative' right-wingers to power.

Harper, the new guy in charge, doesn't sound good for working people or the environment.

He may not last long, when Canadians go back to their progressive roots. They should ditch 'the crown' affiliation too.

Look for Mexico, and the USA, to move left in the next national elections.

Monday, January 23, 2006

AZ Republic agrees: excess roads on monuments

NW ARIZONA -- The Bush Bureau of Land Management plan for over 1000 miles of excessive roads and ORV tracks on the fragile Vermillion Cliffs and Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monuments is so extreme that even the right-leaning Arizona Republic called them on it.

It's your land, so go to an AZ open house on these monuments this week, 4-7pm each: Kingman: Tues. Jan. 24, Mohave Community College, Student Union, Room 200F, Phoenix: Wed. Jan. 25, Deer Valley Community Center, 2001 W. Wahalla Lane; Flagstaff: Thurs. Jan. 26, DuBois Center, Northern Arizona University. The Bush BLM declined to hold a meeting in Pima County, home to 1 million Arizonans.

Tell BLM to close more roads, get off-road vehicles out, and remove/phase out livestock grazing -- especially on desert tortoise habitat and in springs/riparian areas. Speak up for the land, wildlife, and our future.

The BLM office handling these monuments is in St. George, Utah, as are many of the motorheads and ranchers who want to keep on trashing NW Arizona. We need to boot extreme Utah politics out of N Arizona.

More news later on this Arizona public land and natural resources issue.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Hi on Sunday, one day, fun day, desert sun day

TUCSON -- That day I do like, is a Sunday, Sunday. Not a Monday, Monday. You may know this Black Uhuru reggae song.

Today is that kind of day. Wonderful all around. Ruby and daddy, kids and friends, having so much fun. Steelers win, a union team.

Happy 5-0 Glenn Miller. 50 more.

May this be a great week of peace and growth.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Help the desert, keep Pima off-road park open

TUCSON -- Off-road vehicles are a pain. Loud, smelly, dangerous, and destructive. Which is why society and off-roaders need a place like Pima Motorsports Park on the SE side, where people can jump their trucks just like the yayhoo in this PMP photo.

As an ecologist, I am no fan of off-roading, but I agree with Supervisors Carroll and Bronson that the park should be kept open. Watch for other Supervisors to agree too.

Some county officials are considering making the off-road area a shooting range. Hey, perhaps the two activities could be combined? Lots of moving targets.

But seriously, let the motorheads have a small, well-managed spot, and help keep them out of the fragile desert.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Arizona labor supports Endangered Species Act


TUCSON -- The Pima Area Labor Federation passed a strong and progressive endorsement of the federal Endangered Species Act on Jan 11.

PALF is the Tucson and Southern Arizona branch of the AFL-CIO, which represents over 20,000 union members and their families in Pima County.




The resolution is the first of its kind in the US, and passed without dissent, calling for congress to keep the Endangered Species Act strong. This statement from labor will be important to the US Senate as it considers corporate lobbyists' requests to gut the Act.

The Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity worked with PALF to get the pro-ESA resolution passed. The Center helped support the ASARCO mine workers strike last year against Grupo Mexico. Labor-Environmentalist relations are strong and positive in Pima County.

The Endangered Species Act resolution is an important showing of solidarity from labor toward environmentalists, and it recognizes the broad common ground both groups share. Unethical corporate bosses abuse workers and natural resources. We have a common enemy.

Thanks, PALF, for the progressive leadership, especially Bobby Martinez, Keith Bagwell, and Jim Watson. Now lets watch the national leadership catch on.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Honor King, keep up the fight for freedom

USA -- Today's MLK holiday is for all of us, not just blacks.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the most powerful and effective activist of the 20th century, and work toward his dream continues today.

It is hard to believe that this holiday was ever controversial. Remember how long it took the honkie boneheads in the Arizona legislature to recognize MLK day? Far too long, sparking the famous Public Enemy rap, 'By the time I get to Arizona,' and securing Arizona's bad rep as the 'Mississippi of the west.'

As King said, 'Freedom is never given by the oppressors, it must be demanded by the oppressed!' So true, then and now.

At a time where extreme out-of-control Bush police-state federalism threatens freedoms for all Americans, we must all fight the oppressors from Washington DC.

I have to wonder how King would be viewed today by America's 'conservative' (truly radical) government. Very likely BushCheney, Inc. would brand him a 'terrorist' if he was around today. Just like he was then by the feds, who dogged him with spying.

MLK's legacy lives on, but his work is not done.

We can and should honor life and King by ending Bush's disasterous Iraq war now.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Alito would fail public-interest; Senate must reject

WASHINGTON -- Samuel Alito dodged through his Senate hearings this week. I watched some of it, and this guy is bad news.

He wouldn't even rule out that the President could legally order someone murdered. Alito is a soldier for extreme police-state like views and tactics. This isn't just about abortion, but everything.

With our American civil liberties under assault by big government and corporations, for the good of the nation we must keep Alito's anti-public interest zealotry off the Supreme Court.

I even called Sen. Kyl's office today to urge a no vote, but I don't expect he'll vote no. Kyl and Alito are like peas in a pod. But Arizonans should hassle him on this, and McCain too. Very likely they'll both vote yes along GOP party lines, just like they both usually do.

Why can't we get any real moderates for this critical appointment? That damn Bush far right ideaology. Only 3 more years. Wack.

The US Senate must find a way to boot Alito. Dems should block and shut down the Senate if they have to.

Justice O'Connor, the Arizonan, should withdraw her resignation, and stick around until 09. Please. I wish.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Effort to blow away global warming with good wind

LOS ANGELES -- I spent Tuesday and Wednesday at Debs Park, seen in the photo, with about 60 other ecologists, lawyers, energy officials, lobbyists, planners, and wind company officers. It was windy, not outside, but inside the Audubon Center, where the future of wind energy was the topic.

Birds and bats have been being killed by the thousands at wind farms, especially at Altamont Pass CA, east of the SF Bay Area. The main message at this session was 'how to avoid another Altamont'.

To be sure, America and the world needs more wind energy now, and less coal. Global warming pollution is a giant threat to the future of life on earth as we know it. Smart people are trying to deal with it, including me and others at this meeting.

A major issue is where to locate wind farms to avoid or minimize impacts to birds, bats and wildlife. Ecologists, the wind industry, and natural resource agencies are working on this. Some projects have been poorly planned and located, and too many birds and bats are getting killed in the blades. We are learning more and need to adjust siting. More research is needed in many areas to better determine solutions.

Visionaries at the wind future session suggested more focus on 'energy independence' wind turbines and rooftop solar panels in urban areas, bringing clean energy production close to transmission lines and power demand centers. That is a great and important idea that I think millions of Americans will embrace, if they are helped and can afford to make the investment. Why leave all the energy in the hands of corporate monopolys when we can generate it ourselves with rooftop solar and small wind? As I looked around LA (and Tucson) I see many sites that could work, even some scattered around that could host a big turbine or two.

It is a must to cut per capita energy use now through better energy conservation in buildings and vehicles. I hope to work on better 'green building' energy standards through the Tucson Planning Commission.

Certainly to solve our energy problems and reduce global warming pollution we will need more wind energy facilities. Investors are starting to pour money into wind and it is coming in a bigger way to the USA. The spirit of smarts and cooperation between all parties this week in LA is promising for the future, but only if it continues.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Future of wind energy focus this week in LA

LOS ANGELES -- Energy executives, scientists, conservationists, and government regulators will meet at an invite-only session this week to discuss the future of wind energy.

A major focus is proper siting of wind facilities to minimize impacts on birds, bats, wildlife and habitat.

I'll be there and will report.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Arizona's global warming winter of 06

TUCSON -- It is a warm and dry 'winter' in the Sonoran Desert this year. Very warm and dry. 81 on Christmas. A global warming winter.

05 was the hottest year on record and 06 may go higher. Summer (and Spring & Fall) this year may be killers, superhot, especially more at night with 'urban heat island' effect.

Global warming is a big threat to Arizona. Some places could become virtually unlivable much of the year. Water is already very limited, and more heat, agriculture, people and sprawl mean we'll use more precious H2O. Rivers will further suffer.

We are in for a wild hot ride in the future. At some point we won't be able to turn the A/C up high enough to escape.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Santa Cruz River habitat needs your toilet water

TUCSON -- The Santa Cruz River needs our treated sewage. Over a century of development and ranching have decimated the river, which is mostly dry.

Pima County releases treated wastewater from its Roger Rd. sewage plant. It has restored a 7-mile stretch of the river to a full-time stream, where birds and wildlife thrive within our urban environment. Pictured is Tucson Water's Joaquim Delgado explaining the relationship between the Tucson Wastewater Treatment Plant and riparian/wetland habitat. Flush for restoration.

Unfortunately, too much urban sprawl and poor planning have created a situation where area residents are complaining about the smell of the wastewater plant. The County is considering closing it, cutting off the river's critical water supply. Why was so much development permitted around a sewage plant? Not smart.

County Czar Chuck Huckelberry is considering moving the Roger Rd. plant sewage to another facility at Ina Rd. for treatment, but sprawlers are complaining about smells there too. The County and City also want to move more treated effluent to water parks and golf courses, freeing up more water for urban sprawl and the next million people developers want to move in to Pima County. This could reduce or end water available for the river.

Instead of closing the Roger Rd. plant, the County should figure out a way to curb the bad smell. If the plant is closed the County must find a way to keep water in the river, such as a pipeline from Ina to Roger, to carry water to the river for habitat and groundwater recharge.

Santa Cruz River restoration should grow, not shrink, and it should be expanded toward downtown. Tucson needs, and could have, a living river again.

Someday we must advance far enough as a society to no longer shit in our water supply.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Women keep AZ State Senate seat with Aboud

TUCSON -- Paula Aboud (D-Tucson) was picked today by the Pima County Board of Supervisors to fill Gabby Giffords seat in the State Senate. Gabby stepped off this fall to run for congress in the seat being vacated by retiring Jim Kolbe.

Aboud seems like a good appointment. I'm glad to see some new people get in to office. No doubt Board Chair Sharon Bronson wanted to keep a qualified female in the seat, which seems fair in the interest of moving toward gender balance in politics.

House Reps. Downing and Bradley may be bummed, but they can stay in their current positions, jousting with the scorched earth zealots who run the AZ House. A thankless and frustrating responsibility, but we need them there. Sorry guys.

Keeping both Reps. in place also saves the Supes from having to pick a replacement for a vacated House seat. Steve Farley would've been good to put in the House, but he'll have to run for it. Good luck, Steve, if he runs.

Good luck, Sen. Aboud in taking on the right-wing nuts in Phoenix.

Good luck, Gabby Giffords in making it to congress.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Nukeheads spark new uranium fears in native AZ

NAVAJO NATION -- Tribal leaders here on the giant NE Arizona reservation have moved to ban renewed uranium mining. Uranium killed and made many Dine people sick during earlier mining booms, and the illness and death continue today.

Uranium mining is growing, especially in Northern AZ. Bush/Cheney/BigEnergyInc.'s push for more nuke power is helping push mining speculation, and AZ is ground zero for radioactive big digging, mostly on your public lands, including near the Grand Canyon. Parts of New Mexico and Utah are targeted too.

Why aren't Bush/Cheney & Co. scared new uranium will fall in to terrorist hands and be used for a nuclear bomb? Oh yeah, the slick nuke lobbyists told them don't worry about it. Corporate security will handle it. Yeah, right. I'm not confident and neither are most people.

We don't need more nuke plants, or more uranium mining. There are better, cleaner, safer ways to produce energy. Leave it in the ground.

Thank you Navajo Nation for leading the way and protecting life.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

BLM & off-road racing threat to Pima County in 06

AJO, AZ -- Proposed off-road racing near the small desert town Ajo is bad idea. Too many off-roaders destroy the land, pollute the air, leave piles of trash, and often bring a violent culture of death, drinking and drugs.

Ajo is a neat town, with beautiful, rich, and fragile surrounding Sonoran Desert. Healthy landscapes are Ajo's best asset and attraction. The off-road lobby and Bush Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are targeting Southern Arizona lands for increased off-road abuse. We can't let Ajo's natural heritage be wrecked by uncaring and destructive Phoenix motorheads who can race in more appropriate places.

I've heard from many concerned Western Pima County residents against desert off-roading near Ajo. Congressman Grijalva, Supervisor Bronson, Governor Napolitano and other leaders should listen to constituents and push BLM to turn down destructive off-road 'wreck'reation.