Friday, August 31, 2007

Labor Day weekend: talking baseball

UPDATE, 9/1: The Sidewinders blew it last night by losing to Sac. Bummer.


TUCSON -- My three fave baseball teams, the Detroit Tigers, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Tucson Sidewinders are all in the playoff hunt.

Tucson is 4 games back of leader Sacramento as both teams start a 4 game series tonight at TEP park on the southside. If the Sidewinders sweep the River Cats, they win the division and move on to the playoffs.

My daughter and I are going to the game tonight at 6, and so should you. It should be some great baseball. The crowds lately have been very small, so come cheer on the 'Winders.

The DBacks beat the Padres last night in San Diego to take back first place. They could go all the way this year.

Detroit has been somewhat struggling, but is still in the hunt. The Tigers are 4 1/2 games back from the Indians, after having been in first place much of the season. Still, they are a strong team and should bounce back to win the AL Central, or a wild card slot. Right now Detroit is 3 games back, trailing New York and Seattle, for an AL wild card position.

Remember the past and current struggles of workers and labor this weekend, and take some time off to check out some American baseball.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Summer of discontent on the US-Mexico border

Border summer of discontent

by Frontera NorteSur, Las Cruces NM

EL PASO -- It's as if all the contradictions of the U.S. War on Terror, immigration reform, U.S.-Mexico relations, free trade, and sagging economies on both sides of the border have burst at the seams, and at the same time. As the record hot summer of 2007 crawls to a close, the political barometer in Arizona and all along the U.S.-Mexico border is tipping red. Barely a day goes by without hunger strikes, human chains, border crossing demonstrations, marches, and calls for economic boycotts.

In a press conference this week, Carlos Marentes, director of the El Paso-based Border Agricultural Workers Project, said "neo-liberal" economic policies exemplified by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are sparking a growing crisis in the borderlands and beyond. He contended that U.S. immigration laws and policies are shrouded in a veil of "hypocrisy" that views immigrant workers as an indispensable, cheap labor pool but then turns them into convenient political scapegoats. "We want to stop them, but we also need them," Marentes said.

While border protests are hardly new, what's striking about the latest manifestations of discontent is how they are cutting across the political spectrum and even incorporating centrist and conservative forces that are increasingly frustrated by a status quo dictated in Washington and Mexico City.

In the wake of the U.S. Congress' failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation this year, several developments are rekindling citizen activism. Among the most important are the construction of new border walls, long waits at border crossings, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) crackdown on undocumented workers, the deaths of detained immigrants while in U.S. custody, Border Patrol shootings, and the Aug. 19 deportation of activist Elvira Arellano.

... read the rest of the article here

- adapted from Frontera NorteSur (FNS) on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news, Center for Latin American and Border Studies, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tucson Dem Debate: Glassman v. Reus

Moon rise over Tucson

TUCSON -- Ward 2 City Council Democratic candidates Rodney Glassman and Robert Reus debated this evening on Arizona Illustrated with Bill Buckmaster and Jim Nintzel.

I like Rodney, the heavy favorite, but he came off as kinda slick. He didn't give very clear answers on some key city issues, such as CAP water, the garbage tax, downtown and arts support.

About downtown community and arts, Glassman said 'everything downtown should be treated as a business.' He also hogged the mic and talked too long.

I was asked and I gave Rodney $20 for his campaign, so I pass on this advice in a positive spirit.

Robert Reus was more clear, although perhaps less charismatic, on key issues. He pushed the 'strong mayor/no city manager' vision for change of city government, and generally gave definitive positions on CAP water and the trash tax.

He doesn't have a campaign website, a weakness.

Reus said he will vote for the trash tax repeal and Tucson Water Users' Bill of Rights initiative, which is on the fall city election ballot.

Rodney has said he's against the citizens initiative and will vote against it. He has said those issues should be up to the City Council, but then he said in this debate that whether or not CAP water should be directly piped to Tucson Water customers (a bad idea) should be up to voters, not the City Council.

I don't live in Ward 2, so I can't vote in the Dem primary. Glassman and Reus both have good intentions, decent experience and skills, so I say take your pick. I think I could work well with either one of them.

Dems and Independents in Ward 2 may vote now in the primary. The Glassman-Rues winner will face Republican Lori Oien in the general election.

Prairie dogs get 2nd chance after Bush meddling

Needs ESA protection in AZ, UT, NM and CO
FLAGSTAFF -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday that the Gunnison's prairie dog will receive additional review under the Endangered Species Act. The Service is also opening a public comment period to allow all interested parties an opportunity to provide information regarding the status of the species.

The Service is initiating this status review for the Gunnison's prairie dog in response to a July 2, 2007 court-ordered settlement agreement with conservation groups Forest Guardians, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and others. Under the agreement, the Service must submit to the Federal Register a 12-month status review finding by February 1, 2008.

A 2006 decision by the Service not to list the mammal for protection under the Endangered Species Act was found by the court to have been illegally influenced Julie MacDonald, a former Bush/Cheney political appointee as deputy assistant secretary at the US Department of the Interior in charge of the Service. MacDonald resigned May 1 in disgrace just prior to a Congressional oversight hearing on anti-science political meddling in the American endangered species program.

Service emails revealed that the negative petition finding issued in 2006 for the Gunnison's prairie dog was ordered by MacDonald and overrode Service biologists' positive finding, which would have pushed the Gunnison's prairie dog closer to federal protection.

One email from the US Fish and Wildlife Service's Chris Nolin, dated January 19, states, "Per Julie please make the pd [prairie dog] finding negative." Two weeks later, the negative finding was published on February 7, 2006.

The Service is now proceeding with the status review, the results of which are supposed to indicate whether or not there is evidence to support listing the Gunnison's prairie dog.

"The Gunnison's prairie dog is the first of MacDonald's victims to get a second chance," said Dr. Nicole Rosmarino of Forest Guardians. "With increased scrutiny, we're hoping this imperiled creature will be provided with the vital safety net the Endangered Species Act provides."

The Gunnison's prairie dog is found in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. Rangewide, approximately 70 percent of potential Gunnison's prairie dog habitat occurs on tribal and private lands.

In Arizona and New Mexico, a significant portion of potential habitat occurs on tribal lands.The Gunnison's prairie dog, Cynomys gunnisoni, is a member of the same family as squirrels, chipmunks, and marmots. Gunnison's prairie dogs are found on grasslands and semi-desert and montane shrublands at elevations from 6,000 to 12,000 feet.

The Service is specifically seeking any new information regarding the taxonomic status of the Gunnison's prairie dog; its distribution and population densities; and the effects of sylvatic plague on the species.A broad coalition supports an Endangered Species Act listing for the Gunnison's prairie dog. The initial listing petition, filed by Forest Guardians in February 2004, included 73 co-petitioners, including homebuilders, realtors, landowners, religious groups, and conservation groups.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit settled on July 2 were Forest Guardians, biologists Dr. Constantine Slobodchikoff, Dr. Ana Davidson, and Dr. David Lightfoot, and Jews Of The Earth, Center for Native Ecosystems, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Wildlands Conservation Alliance, and Bob Luce, the former coordinator of the Interstate Prairie Dog Team.

Additional information about the Gunnison's prairie dog can be found here.

The Service will accept comments and information until October 29, 2007. Comments can be mailed or hand-delivered to: Gunnison's Prairie Dog Comments, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 764 Horizon Drive, Building B, Grand Junction CO 81506-3946, or sent by email to: FW6_Gunnison'

In addition to the court ordered reconsideration of the Gunnison's prairie dog listing, the Service is voluntarily reconsidering decisions made by MacDonald on eight other species. Read the ENS story on these species, Fired Official's Endangered Species Decisions Revisited.

- adpated from ENS

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What exactly did Sen. Craig do in MSP bathroom?

Larry Craig's suspicious hands

UPDATE, 8/29: LA Times, NY Times

BOISE -- Larry Craig (R-ID) is one of my least favorite Senators. He's about as bad and extreme right-wing as Jon Kyl, our Arizona Republican.

I've been reading about Mr. Craig's arrest in June for lewd behavior in a Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport men's bathroom.

What I cannot understand from the media coverage is what exactly is he said to have done?

One article said he made hand and foot gestures suggesting gay sex? I can envision some hand motions, but what in the hell may he have been doing with his feet? The authorities say he tapped his feet, but what is that supposed to mean?

Was there a woman in that bathroom? Sounds like not.

But it seems there was an undercover cop there. What was the cop doing looking for signs of gay sex hand and foot movements? Was Craig just horny and wanting some quick action? Does the Senator masturbate with his feet? Did he offer money, etc.?

As a civil libertarian, I am a strong believer in the American right of being innocent until proven guilty, and that includes Mr. Craig. But he copped a 'guilty' plea in this situation. If he didn't do it, then why?

Craig seems to mostly just be saying now that he's not gay. OK, so he says he's not gay, but what is he alleged have actually done?

Who knows what will happen now to Mr. Craig or his case here, but from the vague reporting so far no one can really envision what he may have done in that airport bathroom.

The main issue here shouldn't be if Sen. Craig's gay or not, it should be is he lying and did he do something illegal and get caught?

Watch for Larry Craig to be run out of the Senate if too many homophobe GOP members, like Craig himself, decide he's likely gay.

The Man is torched, then hosed, in Nevada

Hosing the 'Man'

PERSHING COUNTY NV -- Many people from Arizona and elsewhere are at, or headed to, the annual Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert of the Great Basin northeast of Reno.

According to the SF Chronicle, Paul Addis of San Francisco was arrested today after the 'Man' went up in flames.

Burning Man organizers at Black Rock City promise to rebuild the 'Man' so he may be burned again Saturday night.

Although the permitted event is held on American public lands managed by the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM), it costs $350 to get in at the main gate.

More than just paying its way, Burning Man subsidizes BLM's Nevada offices substantially each year, bringing in money while at the same time BLM promotes waste and deficits with big subsidies to mining, off-roading and ranching.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Safeway goes biodiesel in Tucson and Arizona

Safeway is already selling biodiesel in Seattle

TUCSON -- Supermarket giant Safeway is now using biodiesel in its 79 Arizona-based trucks.

Thanks in part to the good work of PAG's Colleen Crowninshield, Safeway will also sell B20 at its new fueling station on the corner of Broadway and Campbell near downtown Tucson.

According to Ms. Crowninshield, Tucson will be only the third city where Safeway is selling biodiesel. In addition to B20, let's hope they'll also sell cleaner B100 before too long.

This is good news for cleaner fuels and customers that Safeway is making these moves. The other major seller of biodiesel in Tucson, Arizona Petroleum (just north of 22nd St. and Cherry), could use some competition.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Brazil v. USA, Phoenix Suns player Barbosa leads

UPDATE, 8/27: Team USA crushed Brazil by 37 points Sunday night.


LAS VEGAS -- Phoenix Suns player Leandro Barbosa has lead Brazil to an upcoming game against the USA in the FIBA Americas championship.

Brazil v. USA should be a good basketball game.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Wolf-huggers for Gov. Bill Richardson, donate now

Gray Wolf pup protected by Gov. Richardson

TUCSON -- Wildlife lovers and supporters of protecting and recovering the endangered Mexican Gray Wolf are raising money for Bill Richardson for President.

I donated yesterday, and you should donate now, please, if you like the earth we all depend on for survival.

Bill Richardson has been an environmental and conservation leader as Governor of New Mexico.

Bill has recently taken strong steps to better protect Lobos from assassination by Bush/Cheney federal agents in the Gila and Blue Range of New Mexico and Arizona.

We need a President from the West like Gov. Bill Richardson, who understands Western land, water, energy and environmental issues.

Please donate what you can today. May the howl be with you!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Adventures in toy land

by Jeneiene Schaffer

TUCSON -- She just turned five, and already we’ve been having the Barbie talk. You can keep your child sheltered for only so long. All it takes is for one girl’s mom to cave and the whole anti Barbie plan comes under fire. Yes, her toy box and bedroom is filled with the usual progressive parent choices of safe/educational/non-consumerist fun: Melissa and Doug, Toymobile, books, and the like. Since we don’t home school, she is exposed to other parents’ choices, and once in a while a Disney product (gasp) makes its way into our fold.

I would blame presents from relatives, but that wouldn’t be totally true.

Last week while making breakfast, my little girl confronts me again. “Pleeeeease, mom! Why can’t I have a Barbie?” I turn off the stove, kneel down to her level, look her calmly in the eye, and ask, “OK, sweetie, do you want me to tell you how Barbie can look like she does?” She bites. “Sure, mom, tell me.” I give her a sidelong glance to add emphasis to the gravity of what I am about to tell her. “Are you really sure?” An eager nodding of her head tells me that I’m not to blame for future therapy sessions.

“OK. In order for her to look the way she does, Barbie needs to have surgery. The doctor needs to break these two ribs, pull them out her body, a big needle gets stuck here, here, and here to suck out her fat, her nose is broken and made smaller, her breasts are cut open and water balloons are sewed inside her, and in order to wear her shoes she has to have that doctor cut off her pinky toes. Any questions?”


Second runner up is already in the wings. “Well, are Polly Pockets alright?”

I’d seen these before in the preschool cubbies of her friends. They stand about four inches tall, are anatomically correct, and decidedly not buxom. For the progressive mom who is horrified by both Bratz and Miss “Call me Barbie if you’re nasty”, PPs are the more moderate version of little girl wanna be big girl fare. We take a little trip to the neighborhood big box, select the least outrageous Polly, get her a friend, and we and the Pockets go home to play.

Fast forward to a few days ago. There is an alert on the newest recall on toys from China. I freeze with dread when I see that Polly is a danger and I have failed as a mother. I do a google news search and see dozens of parents wringing their hands in the comments section. “Where are we supposed to buy safe toys when 80% of toys in America are made in China?” they wail. Even I have been duped when I thought I was doing the right thing. For Christmas last year I bought her a porcelain tea set from the trendy Tucson toy boutique Mrs. Tiddlywinks. Apparently Santa did not see that it was manufactured in China and the paint is lead based.

Aside from doing our homework when buying toys, I suggest something else. We need to take this opportunity to further question the legitimacy and safety of the damaging trade policies of the WTO that allow these toys to be so prolific in the first place.

Why don’t we utilize the increasingly popular Tucson Craigslist to advertise homemade toys made by the many artisans in our community? Let’s support the growing sustainable movement for local produce and products. Fair trade, homegrown toys made by our friends and neighbors. And, less cheap plastic crap in our landfills.

Again, I have experienced the error of my ways. It’s not easy being a fair and balanced parent. Everyone learns one day at a time. I’ll be checking around for your fantastic toys, Tucsonans. I’ll pay you fairly. And, I’ll thank you.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Shell Oil Pres. in Tucson to talk 'energy security'

Nigerians protest Shell

UPDATE, 9/21: So much for the 'green' lip service, Shell and the Saudis plan to expand their Port Arthur TX oil refinery to make it the largest in the US.

UPDATE, 8/31: ConocoPhillips, another Houston-based oil giant, will be holding a similar event in Tucson Sept 19.

TUCSON -- Shell Oil Company's Houston-based US President John Hofmeister and other Shell senior staff will be here next week to meet with business and civic leaders in the community, they say.

Shell says it wants to engage in a candid dialogue to create a better understanding of the energy challenges facing our country, as they see them.
Oil sands mining
Shell's Hofmeister has supported more drilling, less regulation over big oil, and oil-shale mining, which would tear up huge areas of the western US and Canada.

The Tucson stop is part of Shell's 50 city PR tour.

Recently, in Birmingham, Hofmeister said federal energy policy preventing oil and natural-gas companies from more drilling offshore - not oil companies boosting prices to cash in on demand - deserves the blame for the run-up that has sent crude oil to near record levels. (Birmingham News, Aug 1)

Shell spun a similar 'more drilling' message in Albany on Aug 6. Though he didn't explicitly mention global warming in Albany, Hofmeister said the debate over greenhouse gas emissions should end. It's time to begin addressing the issue, he said, according to the Albany Times-Union.

Shell's invite only event is Thursday, August 30, 5:30 pm at the Tucson Marriott University Park, 880 East Second Street.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Arenas lose money, so why a new one for Tucson?

by Marlena Hanlon, Tucson Business Edge

TUCSON -- Public process can be onerous, especially if there's a fixed goal. But if everyone is asleep at the wheel, it becomes more obvious why it's necessary.

The downtown arena is neither a progressive vision nor sound economic coattail riding.

Arenas are universal economic losers and, contrary to all hype, are more likely to salt the earth than harvest fruit.

Conceptual design by LA-based consultants of Mayor & Council approved $130-200M Rio Nuevo arena.
In a national study of 14 public/private stadiums/arenas, which really means the public paid for a private team or company to reap the profits, only one showed a positive cash flow.

This one is privately operated and was built with private money.

Only 14 were studied because those were the only ones that made available complete capital and operating cost data. These albatrosses become so embarrassing that no one wants to tout the figures.

The average loss of these facilities is $832,640 per year per facility.

In 63 percent of 36 cases analyzed, stadiums negatively affected residential and business growth in the area.

The remaining 37 percent showed no evidence of contributing to growth.

Anyone who has lived in an urban area with stadiums has seen that the "neighborhoods" become blight-infested ghost pockets.

Crime rates in these areas are nine times higher than the national average.

Arenas/stadiums take prime real estate off the development market. While the facility is predicted to generate huge revenues via property taxes, tax concessions used to make the project viable or attractive to investors mitigate those revenues, sometimes entirely.

In contrast, private development more often does contribute to the tax base, if required to pay its own way.

Arenas also are touted for drawing out-of-town lodgers, resulting in revenue to the hospitality sector and via lodging taxes.

However, studies have shown that lodging taxes are not significant, again in part because of tax offsets.

In essence, stadiums and arenas have to import revenue to succeed. The question then becomes how much of a draw the facility will create.

In most situations, the arena serves residents or visitors who are already here. So no new net revenue is injected into the economy; existing money is just moved from one pot to another.

Therefore, the facility actually begins to compete with other, existing leisure business.

Take our nearest example. Phoenix has credited its ballpark and arena for the downtown boom.

The opposite was the case: Those two facilities became attractive to developers after downtown began to register a pulse again.

This was because of the residential renewal and community cohesion resulting from the I-10 fight a decade earlier.

Many thriving local businesses were forced out of downtown when the facilities were built, to make way for the corporate whitewash of TGI Fridays et al, which are event-oriented and do not cater to residents in the lull between pitches.

Phoenix has long cooked the books about the "revenue" generated by these facilities. They are both huge money losers.

Revenue captured by excise taxes - the "indirect spending" factor that sells so many arenas - is reinvested into the facilities to keep them afloat.

US Airways Center, for example, borrows money from the city of Phoenix to pay its rent to the city.

Phoenix captures the rent and the excise taxes as net gains. In reality, it's the same dollar, moved from one pocket to another.

It's just a big shell game.

In some cases, building a stadium is worthwhile, but for cultural reasons, not economic ones.

Cities such as Boston, New York or Cleveland, where sports are deeply ingrained in the community's identity and cohesion, value retention of teams to a degree that warrants spending millions of dollars of public money.

But if any city is making the choice as a way to bolster revenue or create a community where it doesn't exist, the idea is lose-lose.

These points don't even begin to take into account the environmental ravages of such a facility, especially considering that it is used so infrequently.

No infrastructure is in place to support spikes in downtown attendance, and in the absence of viable public transportation, a big parking lot would have to be included, wiping out acres of desert vegetation and contributing to the toxic and thermal load that blacktops provide.

It's simply amazing that with the infinite range of possibilities available to the blank slate that is, and remains, Rio Nuevo, this was the vision so exciting it was pushed through in a competitive spasm.

Marlena Hanlon is a process analyst and applied anthropologist, focusing on urban renewal and community development

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Willie Nelson's new biodiesel and farming book

On the Clean Road Again

TUCSON -- Country singer and activist Willie Nelson has a new book out about biodiesel and the future of the American family farm.

As an enthusiastic biodiesel user, I am interested in reading it. You may also want to.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Bush's bad new hunting order conjures up Cheney

Bush/Cheney blast conservation again

TUCSON -- Read about Bush's latest stealth anti-environmental attack in 'The Swamp' from the Chicago Tribune's DC Bureau.

I'm a hunter, but opposed to this excess.

* More coverage, ENS

Kyl, aka 'Sen. Secret,' relents on open gov't bill

AZ's Jon Kyl, aka Sen. Paranoid

WASHINGTON -- Proponents of strengthening the federal Freedom of Information Act reached an accord with extreme right-winger Arizona Sen. John Kyl earlier this month, and he lifted his once-secret hold on the bill, dubbed the OPEN Government Act.

The bill was immediately passed by the Senate Aug. 6 on a unanimous vote.

It's now in conference committee being reconciled with a House version of the bill that passed in March.

The OPEN Government Act will protect the public's right to know, by ensuring that anyone who gathers information to inform the public, including freelance journalists and bloggers, may seek a fee waiver when they request information under FOIA.

The bill ensures that federal agencies will not automatically exclude blogs and other web-based media when deciding to waive FOIA fees.

Kyl had objected to several provisions of the bill, including the definition of who's a journalist in order to qualify for reduced copying fees.

Any senator can put a hold on a bill. The hold remains until the senator chooses to let go. The holds are usually secret but the outrage over a secret hold on an openness bill quickly led to Kyl being outed and labeled "Sen. Secret" by several bloggers.

President Bush is expected to sign the bill.

- adapted from Mark B. Evans

Friday, August 17, 2007

Tucson economy: TUSD teachers, First Magnus

Mortgage industry workers in Tucson get the shaft. Urban sprawl developers and real estate agents share some of the blame for the lending industry meltdown.

TUCSON -- My daughter started kindergarten this week in a TUSD school and I am very proud. Strong public schools are essential to our nation. I went to public schools.

She has great teachers who need more support than the bogus 1% raise offered by TUSD Superintendent Roger F. Pfeuffer.

Teachers work very hard for our kids, who are the future of our society. TUSD teachers deserve more than the pennies being offered by Pfeuffer.

I support the Tucson Education Association in their efforts to win fair pay for teachers. This should not have to be a battle, and if Pfeuffer gets smart he will back off his cheap position.

As teachers struggle for respect, 700 First Magnus workers in Tucson, and 6000 nationwide, are out of work due to the mortgage meltdown. I feel bad for these workers. The meltdown is not their fault.

No disrespect to them during these hard times, but developers, real estate agents and reckless mortgage corporation executives share much of the blame for this growing crisis which may send the US economy in to recession.

Why developers? They want to build the max number of homes, which then need a lot of buyers so they can make big money. Developers and real estate agents push lenders to loan money to unqualified people so they can buy more stucco boxes sprawling across the desert.

Without the unwise and reckless lending to unqualified buyers, developers and agents wouldn't be able to sell so much sprawl housing.

The economic crunch happens when the unqualified buyers can't pay their mortgage bills. The money stops coming in, homes are foreclosed and may now sit empty. Lenders, related industries and investors are hit hard, but developers and real estate agents already have the money in their pocket from the original sales to unqualified buyers.

Not only is urban sprawl environmentally unsustainable, it is also economically dangerous.


Max Roach (John Abbott photo)

In unrelated music news, I must mourn the passing of Max Roach, the greatest jazz drummer of all time. I was lucky to be wowed by a solo show in Detroit by Max that blew me away. RIP, Max Roach. Max's boom-bap bebop style will never die.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Detroit 3 and UAW further demise by fighting CAFE

Metro Phoenix brown cloud

CHICAGO -- As hot and harmful air pollution heats the world and chokes Phoenix and other cities, the 'Detroit three' auto makers and United Auto Workers (UAW) leaders are holding an 'astroturf' rally today against significant improvements to US fuel economy standards (CAFE).

As a union supporter who was born and raised in a car town in Michigan, I say this is a fight industry is very likely to lose, and unwise for UAW to support.

I call the industry rally 'astroturf' instead of 'grassroots' because it is so clearly boosted by big corporate money and paid employees, not the usual volunteers and concerned citizens motivated by the public good.

The Detroit three, GM, Ford and Chrysler (no longer called the big three because of Toyota's dominance) are foolishly short-sighted to try to fight off big boosts to fuel economy standards.

People want much more efficient vehicles and less pollution. Our future demands more energy efficiency now to help curb the huge economic and environmental threat of global warming and related climate change.

Smart UAW members will not be fooled by BS threats from untrustworthy rich auto executives that needed raises in fuel economy will shut down the industry. US mileage standards lag behind almost all other nations.

UAW members should support significantly higher standards as one of the best ways to improve American competitiveness in the US and world car markets.

Instead of fighting against progress, the Detroit three and UAW should work cooperatively with congress and conservationists for the public interest in energy conservation. Taking responsibility and offering cooperation would help industry out of the hole it's in partly due to over-reliance on gas-guzzling SUVs.

The best way for the US auto industry to keep killing itself and American jobs is to keep on building gas-guzzlers most people really don't want.

I drive a VW Passat TDI, a stylish fast car with a turbo-diesel engine I run on biodiesel. I would've preferred to buy a similar car made by the Detroit three, but I can't because they don't even make one.

I won't buy a Hummer or other gas guzzler just to buy an American brand, nor will most people. Chicagoland has the highest gas prices in the nation, currently $3.15 a gallon. I suspect the industry astroturf will have a hard time today convincing the woman and man on the street that they should support weak fuel economy standards.

Without significantly higher fuel economy, the Detroit three and UAW will continue to fail in the marketplace as Toyota, VW, Honda, Nissan and others build more cars more people want.


related: Lansing GM workers vote to strike if no contract

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dem candidate views on Rove and Bush downfall

New Mexico Governor Richardson

ALBUQUERQUE -- Some views today from the Bill Richardson for President campaign.

Is this the end of the era?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Karl Rove's resignation may signal the end of an era where politicians start wars based on deceptions, and don't mind sacrificing our civil rights to protect a political advantage. So maybe this is a turning point. Or maybe this is just the day Karl Rove officially starts working to defeat Democrats in 2008.

Bill Richardson is Karl Rove's worst nightmare in 2008 -- a candidate that can not only win Democrats over, but can also bring in legions of new voters and solidify a Democratic majority for years to come.

But we have a lot of work ahead of us to get there: first, winning the nomination; then, fighting off the Republicans who will still use Rove's book of dirty tricks; and, finally, repairing the damage Rove and Bush have wrought in this country.

Maybe Karl Rove is leaving politics forever. And maybe tomorrow pigs will fly.

Karl Rove never counted on the Democratic grassroots to pull the rug out from under him in 2006. He underestimated the strength of the 50-state infrastructure that Democrats built. And he underestimated the American people's desire for real change. And Karl Rove isn't counting on a Democrat like Bill Richardson to win the nomination.

Bill Richardson is exactly the kind of Democrat that scares Karl Rove and the Republican Party bosses. Bill isn't shy about calling himself a Democrat and fighting for his progressive values. He successfully governs as a Democrat in an interior west state and was re-elected with 69% of the vote.

Bill fights for policies that are directly at odds with Rove and Bush: he has created jobs in economic hard times, fought for civil unions and equal rights, followed Kyoto standards and made New Mexico a clean energy state, and actually talked with our adversaries around the world.

- adapted from RfP

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Renzi votes to deny family planning to millions

Anti-family: lame ducks W and Renzi

UPDATE, 8/23: Renzi won't run again.

FLAGSTAFF AZ -- Last month, the US House was debating a key federal spending bill, and Rep. Renzi (R-AZ) voted for a last-minute amendment that would have denied family planning services to millions of people who rely on Planned Parenthood for birth control services.

Fortunately, the unwise amendment failed.

But it's beyond ironic that Renzi claims to be so concerned about abortion rates when he voted to restrict the very funds that will help women prevent unintended pregnancy and reduce the need for abortion.

Planned Parenthood of Central and Northern Arizona is encouraging patients and supporters to tell Renzi they are outraged by his vote against Arizona's women and families.

Just one more reason of many to boot corrupt Renzi from Congress next year, if he doesn't resign first.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Rove latest sign of lost Bush presidency, hurt GOP

Bush embraces a Rove strategy

WASHINGTON -- Today's resignation of Bush puppeteer Karl Rove is the latest sign of the failed Bush/Cheney administration, and the badly damaged status of the GOP.

We can thank Rove for the continued Iraq war disaster and the imperiled status of US leadership in the world. As bad as the foreign policy situation is, Rove, Bush and Cheney also have failed to pass any major domestic initiatives.

Most recently Rove, Bush, Cheney and the GOP failed on immigration reform, leaving Arizona and other border states mired in the mess of failed and deadly federal border/immigration policy.

The demise of Karl Rove mirrors the demise of the Bush White House, now in dead duck status, and the tattered state of the Republican Party.

Rove is a bad but smart man. He's bailing out of a sinking ship. Good riddance, Mr. Rove. For the good of America and the world, please retire for real and stay out of politics.

I doubt that will happen. Rove is probably still scheming on how use fear mongering and other low down tactics to steal elections for the benefit of corporations, right-wing zealots and the super rich.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

MarKos and DLC's Ford debate, attempt peace

Democratic candidates in Chicago recently

WASHINGTON -- Leading blogger Markos M. of DailyKos, and Dem Leadership Council head Harold Ford, debated today on Meet the Press.

I must give credit to Kos. He did a great job, actually 'beating' Ford, in a debate that was sometimes heated, but overall kept going toward the essential need for Dem unity.

Right now Kos is a top symbol and voice for the liberalization of the nation. This is a tall order, but he seems to be handling it OK right now. Nice job at the end with the hand shake.

As an Arizona liberal and blogger, I appreciate Kos' efforts today, and the efforts of all liberals, bloggers and activists everyday.

I also encourage and welcome a DLC move toward more liberal progressive values, something Ford said he's interested in. We'll see.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Jeff Latas: Saying goodbye to my hero (Jesse)

Salette Latas receives the American flag at Jesse's funeral.

TUCSON -- Sadly, Jesse Latas died recently. I met him a few times and he was a good man. He was a US Army veteran.

Read the moving story by his dad, Jeff Latas.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Bush & Calderon ignore cop murder of US reporter

American journalist Brad Will shot dead by PRI cops on a Oaxaca, Mexico street

TUCSON -- As a long-time activist and independent reporter, the Oct 27 06 cold-blooded murder of NYC independent journalist Brad Will by PRI-backed Oaxaca police chills me.

Please read this critical story.

Watch Brad's last video coverage of Oaxacan uprisings, and his own murder.

Killer PRI cops: left to right, Juan Carlos Soriano, aka "El Chapulin," Comandant Manuel Aguilar (in brown jacket), Pedro Carmona and Abel Santiago, aka "El Chino."

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Gov. Richardson backs open and honest gov't

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson

Coverage, 8/17: ENS

UPDATE, 8/16

SANTA FE -- Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) is the first Presidential candidate to sign and support the Public Service Pledge in support of open and truthful government.

Despite all being contacted multiple times, no other candidate has signed the Public Service Pledge yet. So far Obama has bombed here, and Hillary is AWOL.

Republican Mike Huckabee has said 'no' to the Public Service Pledge. Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain has also so far been 'McLame' on this.

Governor Richardson's commitment to open and honest government is just one of the reasons he has my support for President.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

There is a race this year for Tucson Mayor

TUCSON -- Arizona's best and second largest city does have a race for Mayor this year, and it's Walkup v. Croteau.

For more on Green Dave Croteau's campaign, check out his website, and come to a campaign fund raising party for him 6-8pm, Sunday, Aug 12, 717 N 10th Ave #3.

Dave's a decent guy, and on the ballot.

There is also a critical water issue to vote on.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Economist: Phoenix, into the ashes

#5 big city in US; 4M+ in Maricopa County leading to huge crime and other problems

PHOENIX -- On July 26 The Economist published an interesting perspective on Phoenix, Arizona's State Capitol.

There has been some controversy about it in the Arizona Republic, so I'll link the Economist article here so you can read it.


Question: Did any AZ bloggers go to the DK convention in Chicago? I was in Chicago Friday but ignored it.

Healing damaged deserts in Arizona & worldwide

SAN DIEGO -- My friend Dave Bainbridge has an important new book out you should read. If we take action for restoration, there is hope for healthier deserts in our future.

Dryland degradation and desertification now affect almost a billion people around the world, including in Arizona, the southwest and Mexico. Tragically, the biological resources and productivity of millions of acres of land are lost to desertification each year because people remain unaware of strategies and techniques that could improve yields, reduce risk, and begin healing the world’s deserts.

“Once damaged, deserts are very difficult to repair,”
states David A. Bainbridge, author of A Guide for Desert and Dryland Restoration: New Hope for Arid Lands (Island Press, June 28), “but I have demonstrated that it can be done.”

Bainbridge, associate professor in the Marshall Goldsmith School of Management at Alliant University in San Diego, has spent 25 years in the deserts of the American Southwest developing his restoration methods and has traveled to Jordan, Portugal, Mexico, and China to refine them further. “Through restoration we can improve our understanding of desert ecology, and we can improve management of some of the harshest environments on Earth,” he states. Improved management takes not just ecological skills, but must also recognize and address the economic and cultural drivers that lead to desertification.

In A Guide for Desert and Dryland Restoration, Bainbridge discusses the ecology of desert plants, explores the causes of desertification and land abuse, and outlines the processes and procedures needed to evaluate, plan, implement, and monitor desert restoration projects, including restoration in use for ranchers and farmers. It is the first comprehensive, illustrated guide to practical, field-tested strategies and techniques on desert restoration and will be an invaluable resource for anyone working in arid lands, including restorationists, farmers, ranchers, gardeners, landscapers, outdoor recreation professionals, and activists. It has ideally suited for ecological restoration courses, and has already been selected for this use.

A Guide for Desert and Dryland Restoration is the newest volume in The Science and Practice of Ecological Restoration series, published by Island Press in collaboration with the Society for Ecological Restoration International. The series offers a foundation of practical knowledge and scientific insight that will help ecological restoration become the powerful healing tool that the world needs. To learn more about the series, please visit Island Press.

See also

- adapted from Island Press

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Back in the 520; run for AZ State House likely in 08

TUCSON -- I'm back home after a nice trip to the Great Lakes, and will resume reporting this week.

I'm thinking and planning for my likely run for the Arizona State House of Representatives in 08.