Friday, December 29, 2006

James Brown moves the crowd at the Apollo

HARLEM NY -- Yesterday we visited the Apollo Theater in NYC to pay tribute to the great James Brown. All the way from Tucson and the 520 to Harlem and the 212.

Here's a photo I snapped.

The line was way too long to get in, so we danced and had some drinks at the historic Lenox Lounge on Malcom X Blvd.

The street scene on 125th was jumping, with Brown's 'soul brother number one' jams blasting. Incredible street party and vibes.

I hope to post more and some live audio later.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy holidays, merry Christmas, Capitol fight 07

Christmas lights on Saguaro cactus, Tucson Arizona USA

TUCSON -- Best to you this season and for 07. Here's wishing you didn't spend too much during this special, but overcommercialized time of year.

What would Jesus buy? Probably not too much.

If you did spend too much, like many Americans, take some things back and cut up your credit and debit cards. Stay on a cash budget and you'll save more money and stay out of debt.

My top 07 wish is Pelosi, Reid and the dems in congress will come out swinging at Bush, the GOP righties, and the Iraq war disaster, and not be weak and lame dems in the name of 'moderate centrism'.

Tucson's US Reps. Grijalva and Giffords can and should help boost backbone in the House at least. Pastor and Mitchell of Phoenix should also push tough for broad reform in DC.

Another 07 Daniel view: John McCain for President? No way, McCain for Retirement is more like it.

America needs more than just far right and middle right agendas on our political plates, which essentially is almost all we have now on a national level.

I'm taking some time off from the glow and buzz of computers to enhance real world connections, so there may be little to no action here until Jan 5 or 8.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Dr. Ortiz helped AZ's poor, UFW & Cesar Chavez

TUCSON -- Dr. Augusto Ortiz died on Saturday, Dec. 16th at the age of 89. He and his wife Martha had been married for 62 years. Dr. Ortiz spent his whole career as a doctor attending to the medical needs of poor people in Phoenix and in rural Arizona.

For years Dr. Ortiz with Martha at his side drove a gigantic van into rural areas caring for those who were in need of medical attention. Dr. Ortiz cared for Cesar Chavez when Cesar undertook a forty-day fast in Guadalupe after the Arizona Legislature passed a vicious piece of anti-farm worker legislature. When Cesar was in Tucson, he often stayed with Augusto and Martha in their home.

If you wish to make a donation to the United Farm Workers Union in his honor, you can call Justin Watkins at the UFW headquarters 661.822.5572.

-- from CDH

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Give your phone rare wild animal sounds, for free

TUCSON -- Why should your cell phone sound like everyone else’s? Personalize your cell phone with the fascinating sounds of rare and endangered wildlife calls. Now your phone can come alive with the croaks, chirps and songs of endangered species.

The Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity offers you ringtones of rare and endangered animals, a collection of high-quality, authentic sounds of some of the world’s most threatened birds, owls, frogs, toads and marine mammals. Download their haunting hoots, sensational songs and crazy croaks to your cell phone, for free.

You can now set your cell phone ringer to the amazing and intriguing calls of the Blue-throated Macaw, Beluga Whale, Boreal Owl, Mountain Yellow-legged Frog, Yosemite Toad, or any one of over forty other endangered critters. Download the sounds of endangered species in your area or from around the world.

-- from CBD

My personal favorites are the Western Burrowing Owl, Black Toad, and Rio Grande Leopard Frog, all found in the southwest.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

State resistance threatens to wipe out desert fish

Desert Pupfish (male)

AZ & NM GAME & FISH RESISTANCE THREATENS TO WIPE OUT DESERT FISH
: State push for nonnative game fish undercuts federal recovery plans

PHOENIX -- Federal recovery plans for imperiled fish in the rivers of the Southwest are frustrated by inter-agency conflict, according to a detailed analysis by a team of independent biologists released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

The scientists found endangered and threatened fish of the Gila River basin in southern Arizona and western New Mexico continue to decline because key steps in approved recovery plans are not implemented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, particularly control of nonnative game fish managed by the state wildlife agencies which are supposed to be assisting in federal recovery plan implementation.

A recovery plan is a basic provision of the Endangered Species Act. It outlines the steps needed to prevent possible extinction of a federally-listed species and to restore a healthy self-sustaining species.

“The recovery plans are sound but the problem is that there is no consistent follow-through,” stated Dr. Paul Marsh of the Desert Fishes Team, a group of agency, academic, and non-government biologists monitoring conservation of native fishes of the southwest. “The conflicting mandate of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect native fish versus the state wildlife agencies’ promotion of sport fishing has stalemated effective actions in addressing root causes of the continuing deterioration in the status of the native species.”

The scientists’ analysis found that use of nonnative fish for sport fishing, aquaculture, and bio-control programs by state agencies now constitutes the principal barrier to recovery of warm water fishes in the Gila River basin, such as the desert pupfish, spikedace and Colorado pikeminnow, all of which are listed under federal law as threatened or endangered. The analysis documented that:
  • Despite having recovery plans in place for between 9 and 28 years, full, successful implementation has not been achieved for any of the eight listed fish species, and a moderate level of implementation has been achieved for only one (the Gila topminnow);
  • Progress for recovery of some species, such as the desert pupfish, “has been virtually non-existent”; and
  • The failure to remove nonnative sport and bait fish and other aquatic species, such as crayfish and bullfrogs, is preventing recovery of native fish populations.
“We’ve found that the federal Endangered Species Act will work provided it is followed,” added Jerome Stefferud, a team scientist. “The Act can save these eight fish species, but only if the agencies commit to rapid and effective implementation of the recovery plans.”

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cannot do its job unless it starts standing up to its state ‘partners,’” observed PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that Arizona and New Mexico game agencies push introduction of exotic sport and bait fish to maximize fishing license revenue. “To add insult to injury, these state agencies are using federal dollars to screw up expensive federal recovery plans.”

Two earlier reports by the Desert Fishes Team reviewed the status of all native fish species in the Gila River basin. Those studies found that all of the fish were declining and that in addition to the nine already listed as endangered and threatened, another seven are now in need of that protection.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Yuma biologist attacked by Bush admin. for emails

Colorado River bed dried up near Yuma AZ due to overuse

FEDERAL BIOLOGIST FACES FIRING FOR EMAILING ENVIRONMENTALISTS
Bureau of Reclamation Cites “Subversive” Behavior in Revealing Agency Misdeeds

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has proposed to fire a biologist after finding emails he had sent to environmentalists and to other agencies, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In its letter of proposed termination, the agency alleged the “subversive” activity of communicating with “environmental organizations which are opposed to Reclamation generally and adversarial in nature” justifies immediate removal.

Charles (Rex) Wahl, a GS-12 Environmental Specialist, has been on paid administrative leave for the past three months while the agency continues to ponder his fate. Shortly after Wahl was notified of his proposed firing on September 18th, the Bureau of Reclamation also dismissed his wife Cherie from a temporary clerk-typist position.

Ironically, Wahl’s main duty in Reclamation’s Yuma Area Office was to keep stakeholders, including environmentalists, abreast of agency “actions and initiatives” as required under National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In addition to his contact with environmentalists, Wahl is also charged with revealing “administratively controlled information” to other federal agencies.

“These charges are both insulting and illegal,” stated PEER Senior Counsel Paula Dinerstein, who is leading Wahl’s legal challenge against any proposed disciplinary action. “Public servants cannot be fired simply for telling inconvenient truths.”

In May, Wahl (who had earned excellent performance evaluations) had transferred to Reclamation’s Albuquerque Office. In August, Reclamation discovered the emails Wahl had sent months earlier as it cleared the hard drive of his computer.

Wahl’s disclosures concern an array of proposed Reclamation projects on the Lower Colorado River. He also revealed that Reclamation had falsified material in a permit it submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In addition, Wahl suggested to environmentalists that they obtain certain agency reports through the Freedom of Information Act.

“Federal employees are not required to swear bureaucratic omertà – silence at the expense of the public interest,” Dinerstein added. “Part of the Bureau of Reclamation’s problem is that it apparently regards environmentalists as enemies. Contrary to its paranoid posture, Reclamation is required to be forthright about the implications of what it is doing.”

Reclamation is under no deadlines to act on Wahl’s case. Facing a short statute of limitations on filing complaints, however, PEER has initiated an investigation into the matter by the U.S. Department of Labor under the whistleblower provisions of the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and Solid Waste Disposal Act.

-- from PEER

Saturday, December 16, 2006

LA-style freeway plans & sprawl will choke Arizona

TUCSON -- Arizona is making some big transportation mistakes, worsening global warming, urban sprawl, and air pollution with massive new road building proposals. As a downtown dwelling dad of a 4 year old, I'm very concerned, and you should be too.

Gov. Napolitano
's Transportation Director in Phoenix, Victor Mendez, following the failed SoCal freeway model, is pushing new freeways all over Southern Arizona. So uncreative, and absurdly expensive and disrupting.

Until recently, freeway mania was focused on Maricopa County, and it still is, but now metro Tucson, Yuma, and Pinal County are targeted as well.

Developers, road builders, bureaucrats, and other profiteers gathered Thursday in Tucson at I-10 and 22nd St. to cheer the expansion of I-10 from 6 to 8 lanes. This hugely expensive project won't do much to improve traffic, which really isn't that bad on I-10 in Tucson, but it will further divide downtown and the west side, and force most of the local freeway traffic on to Tucson streets and neighborhoods for at least 3.5 years while the new lanes are built. Then the new lanes will fill up with traffic.

Now, former big development attorney Si Schorr, on behalf of RTA, is pushing a Tucson bypass route, supposedly for trucks. His current proposal would run a new freeway north of Tucson along the San Pedro River in a wild area between the Sky Island Santa Catalina and Galiuro Mountains.

Schorr is no dummy. He knows development follows road projects, and he and his buddies like a lot of development. The Tucson huge loop bypass is at least partly for development, make no mistake about it.

Global warming is upon us like a speeding train. Metro Phoenix has bad air alerts weekly, and Tucson's air quality is declining rapidly. More freeways, pavement, and associated urban sprawl will only make it worse.

The only way to ensure future quality of life in Tucson is creating more options for people to get out of their cars, or at least not drive alone so much. We are smart enough to do this.

We cannot build our way out of congestion, especially when we keep approving more development that adds to it, but we can destroy a lot of desert, foul the air, and wreck neighborhoods by trying.

If these freeways must be built, and I say they must not, shouldn't developers be paying for these roads which open huge new areas to their crappy subdivisions and strip malls? Yes, they should. But instead we all pay so millions more can come to Arizona to drain our water supply, pollute the air, pave our deserts, and wreck our quality of life.

LA-style freeways don't work, just try to drive in LA, but that isn't stopping the greedheads in government or industry from building these colossal boondoggles.

Growth for the sake of growth is what cancer cells do. The out-of-control freeway plans for Arizona are a cancer that will doom southern Arizona to eventual SoCal style gridlock, thick smog, and low quality of life. One distant slight positive is oversized roads will make great bikeways when all the oil is gone, if we survive.

Gov. Napolitano has so far has done little to really challenge Arizona's unsustainable growth, allowing Mendez, and State Lands Commissioner Mark Winkelman to run wild serving big money sprawl development interests.

Will the popular Gov. Janet really take on the deadly, unsustainable sprawl machine? It is no small task or political risk. But if not now, when? We need big land, water, energy and transportation reform soon.

When all the water is gone, the deserts are paved, the temps are even more scorching, and the air is sickening, then we will all learn that we cannot drink, eat, or breathe cars, super freeways, or money.

But by then it may be too late to save us. For the sake of all of us and all that is good in the world, I hope it doesn't come to that. We are smart people and we can live cleaner.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Right a wrong: change Tucson's pro-war 'A' Mtn.

TUCSON -- The Tucson Weekly got it right this week by calling for an end to the blue, white, and red paint job on 'A' Mountain.

Iraq war fans, Mayor Walkup (R), and the former GOP-lead city council rushed to change the 'A' in 2003. Since then many Tucsonans see the 'A' as a wrongheaded symbol of death and Bush/Cheney's unjust Iraq war.

Since then citizens have taken action to restore the traditional white paint, or even paint it black. But each time the city and a handful of aggressive war fiends have rushed to restore the blue, white, and red (actually French flag style) paint job.

The Iraq war is a deadly mistake and disaster. Jose Ibarra and the rest of the Tucson city council should right a wrong by restoring the white paint job, or as the Weekly suggests, paint the 'A' black in respectful mourning for the war dead and wounded until we get out of Iraq and bring the troops back home to their families.

The 'A' stands for Arizona, not American (Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld, Inc.) arrogance. Celebrating Bush's failed disaster war is hardly patriotic or supporting the troops. Mourning the war dead and wounded shows respect, reflection, and understanding.

Who wants to have an 'A' painting party?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

City leaders may waste $200M on unneeded arena

TUCSON -- City leaders may spend $200,000,000+ for a new downtown arena.

I'm not sure this is the best idea for our city.

We already have a decent downtown arena at TCC. Improve it, if needed, but an building a hugely expensive entirely new arena is absurd.

I have been a strong supporter of Rio Nuevo, but these bad ideas are making me a skeptic.

C'mon, Mr. Hein, Mayor and Council, we can and must do better for downtown. $200M could do a lot for downtown quality of life, small biz, parks, transit, etc. than a new arena that sits idle most of the time.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Dennis Kucinich may push dems for President left

CLEVELAND -- Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) announced he'd make another run for President in 08.

His announcement today got some press, but mostly was ignored in the Obama-Hillary hype.

He ran in 04 and attracted some lefty support, but ended up getting crushed by the big candidates and dem party machine.

Kucinich did make a campaign stop in downtown Tucson in 04. Maybe he'll be back soon?

I voted for Kucinich in the 04 AZ primary -- before supporting Kerry/Edwards -- and I may vote for him again in 08.

Nice to see Congressman Dennis Kucinich jump in the race today.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Most states pick environmental quarter designs

WASHINGTON -- So far 45 states have had their quarters minted, or selected the final design. Even though the US Mint allowed industrial scenes, 24 states have picked environmental themes, such as the endangered Peregrine falcon that will appear on the Idaho quarter next year.

Peregrine falcon

States with natural resource themes on their quarters are: CT, SC, NH, RI, VT, LA, MS, ME, MO, AR, MI, CA, MN, OR, KS, WV, NV, NE, CO, ND, SD, MT, WA, ID.

Eco designs are especially prominent in the West. Overall, many green quarter states are considered 'red states' where it is said that 'conservative' politics dominate.

It's likely that 4 of the 5 remaining states yet to choose a design will pick an environmental theme -- Arizona plans the Grand Canyon and Saguaro cactus -- so in the end it may be 28 states with green quarters -- 56%.

I am encouraged by this. It shows once again that the public and states are far ahead of the Bush feds in DC on environmental pride and awareness.

The North Dakota Quarter
The Nevada Quarter

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Public Enemy tour booms in downtown Tucson

TUCSON -- The Public Enemy tour ripped downtown last night for over 4 hours in front of a lively and diverse crowd at the Rialto.

Starting with AZ's Grime, the Banned, and X-Clan the show was high energy, and loud.

Public Enemy played by far the longest, doing old and new raps backed by DJ Johnny Juice, the Banned, and the S1Ws.

PE seemed to really enjoy the hyped Tucson crowd and playing in Arizona, as seen in my two photos here.

Chuck D. was strong and positive, energizing the crowd and slapping many hands.

Flavor Flav was especially in to the crowd and excited about Tucson, being the last to leave the stage. He also rocked out on a funky drum solo.

Professor Griff was great too, especially when he brought out a very talented Tucson breakdance crew to rip it up.

PE has inspired me since high school, and they still do. They represent real hip-hop revolutionaries.

Great show!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

DRP now PEER Southwest Director for AZ & NM

TUCSON -- I started a new position Monday as Southwest Director of Washington DC-based Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Right now I am investigating problems with the US Fish & Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge System.

To support SW PEER, or if you are a public employee in Arizona or New Mexico trying to protect the environment who needs help, contact me at roundriver@gmail.com

Friday, December 01, 2006

New Apache leader Nosie could help Mx. wolves

SAN CARLOS AZ -- Wendsler Nosie was elected last month to head the San Carlos Apache Nation, a 1.8 million acre section of southeastern Arizona desert, mountains, and forest.

Mexican gray wolf recovery has been treated with hostility by a handful of ranchers on the nation. Let's hope Nosie works to make the nation more wolf friendly.

Nosie is a great leader, a real friend to nature and traditional indigenous values. He'll be sworn in Tuesday 10am. Congratulations, Wendsler Nosie.