YOUR SOURCE FOR TRUTH

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mondavi responsible for American wine revolution

EN VINO VERITAS
By Noble Collins
Gazette Columnist

If wine was not so complicated, would it be as interesting? Perhaps not.

Everything about wine is somewhat complex and fascinating, from its origin to the way it is made and enjoyed. The labeling alone will drive you crazy.

We can start with some unique well known terms – Bordeaux, Burgundy, Chablis, Chianti, etc. etc. Not too long ago, we Americans, in particular, generally identified wine by these designations. We knew Bordeaux and Burgundy were red and Chablis was white, and we hoped for something that tasted familiar when we ordered. American winemakers accommodated us by labeling their wines accordingly.

We weren’t alone in that. For a long time, early British wine drinkers simply ordered a Claret when ordering wine. Since they preferred the reds, that’s what they ordered – Claret.

As wine grew exponentially in popularity after World War II, the U.S. quickly became its biggest consumer (now, its biggest producer.). Service men and women came home from locations around the world where wine had always been a staple, quite commonly drunk more often than water. The water often was bad.


As the U.S. economy boomed in the Fifties and Sixties, demand for more and better wine came right along. The masses demanded a taste of what only well-heeled patrons had kept to themselves for generations. Interest in the many variations and styles of wine soon exploded.

Still, for a long time, wine was merely a commodity and we knew it by generic names. Until well into the Sixties and Seventies, most Americans were ordering a "red” or a “white.” Soon,one began to hear the more sophisticated, “Bordeaux,” “Chablis.” etc., but I dare say we still didn’t understand what we were ordering much different from “red” or “white.”


One American was determined to change that and elevate our knowledge and sensory experiences. He is primarily responsible for the revolution in American tastes in wine and efforts in winemaking. The name is Robert Mondavi.

Mondavi’s father operated a large fresh produce company in Lodi, California, which contracted for and sold a large amount of wine grapes among other things. The company later bought a well-known wine producer by the name of Charles Krug. and found a great outlet for their abundance of grapes. As a wine producer, The Krug brand grew to be a major player in the American wine business. Today, you will still find the name Charles Krug on many labels. Interestingly, as Mondavi wine became more familiar and in demand, Krug wines began labeling many of their products, C.K. Mondavi.

Robert grew restless, however, and wanted to produce great wines similar to the fine wines produced in France, known as “FirstGrowths.”  A family feud developed when Robert’s younger brother Peter sided with their mother to continue the successful Krug business and not venture into new territory. Robert was given a small inheritance, and he left the family.

Soon, he established The Robert Mondavi winery in Oakville California in the heart of the Napa Valley - a territory he felt was ideal for growing premium grapes. He began a practice of labeling his wines with their varietal names to identify the particular grape used. This later revolutionized the way wine was labeled in the U.S. and even around the world.

Mondavi’s dream was to rival the great “First Growths” in France, and he imported rootstock from there to establish his first grapevines. One of his first successes was a Sauvignon Blanc which he named “Fume’ Blanc” for its alleged smokiness. The term stuck, and many Sauvignon Blancs are now known as Fume’.

In most of the Old World, wines were known only by their region of origin. The best wines were further known by specific areas, and the absolute best were known by individual plots of land where it was believed the best grapes grew and the best winemakers practiced their art. The practice is still in place today, rigidly controlled by the government. It is extremely difficult to decipher unless one has studied the situation very carefully.

A true wine lover must do his homework to identify specific properties in order to enjoy a particular wine. This goes for all “Old World” wine (wine from a broad area in Europe where wine has been made for centuries.) The labels on these wines will identify the region and often the specific area and vineyard. It will almost never list the variety of grape.

Robert Mondavi saw that as a hindrance to understanding fine wine.

He was a pioneer in labeling wine by its grape variety. Soon, though, distinct properties began to stand out from the rest, and the practice of also identifying the area and even the winery began to take hold. In the "New World" (pretty much everywhere but Europe) you will usually find the variety of the grape dominating the label, however.

If you prefer a Chardonnay, you become aware that that grape produces a particular flavor, but varies by many factors depending on where and how it is grown and made. In the New World, if you prefer a Chardonnay the label will list the name of that grape prominently on the label. In Europe, however, if you prefer a particular Chardonnay, you will need to know the region and producer by name. The grape variety will seldom appear on the label.

Much more later

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Must beware of Tea Party's simple solutions

Immature, shallow, self-serving spoiled brats – and these are the best of us? Well, they were chosen by us to be our best representatives, weren’t they?

We have found the enemy and it is us.

We refuse to take the time to educate ourselves on complex issues. Apparently, to most of us, things are pretty simple, and anyone who attempts to explore them in any detail is quickly branded an “elitist” a “One-Worlder” or worse. That kind of thinking used to be in the minority. It was assumed that our educational system would turn out people with an ability to look at issues in depth, with a broader view. Well, not only did that not happen, the system has somehow bred a generation of narrow minds with a strictly narrow viewpoint and a narrow approach to learning.

Schools no longer teach things like Civics, World History, Geography, Great Literature, etc. – subjects which exposed a mind to the broad world we live in. The whole person is now sacrificed to a narrow world of math and science, in the belief that this is where the world is going.

Indeed children are merely test scores anymore, because the system rewards the highest scores with cash. Never mind that a national scandal has erupted, disclosing widespread skewed scoring, allowing a generation of poorly educated children to “pass.”
Thank you “No Child Left Behind.”

There is no money for “The Arts,” therefore the concept of a “whole” child is limited to how well they can perform a fairly narrow range of predictable sciences. We promote narrow, controlled vision. Is it any wonder, then, that this is reflected in our political thinking?

I’ll just list one example of this, out of many. Let’s examine the latest rallying cry of The Tea Party – a mandated balanced budget. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Of course. It appeals to the narrow vision that all things are really simple, and if they’re not, they should be.

If the U.S. had had a mandated balanced budget back in 2003, we could not have invaded Iraq. Hey, Maybe this is a good thing after all! There was no money for this debacle and none was allocated. We “simply” gave our government a blank check and told them to do whatever they thought they should. There was no (well, very little) debate. Anyone calling for restraint was labeled unpatriotic – even a traitor. The country was still in shock and mad as hell over 911. We wanted revenge, and it didn’t matter where we got it – money be damned. If anyone had called for a mandated balanced budget back then how do you think they would have received?

How has that worked out for us? Anybody want to take a guess as to how much has been added to our national debt? And it still goes on today.

Fast forward to today, when we hear of various attempts at attacking the U.S. almost every day. What if one of them succeeds? What if it results in major damage? What if, God forbid, a country like China declares war upon the U.S.? (far-fetched, I know, but not impossible.) Our responses would be strictly limited under a mandated balanced budget. We would “simply” be forced to stand by and take it.

Widespread crop failures are not unknown, and the government has been known to step in with temporary subsidies to aid farmers until things got better. In addition, more money has been spent, at times, importing food when Americans were threatened with shortages. Can a case for this be made, or should such foolish wasteful spending be severely restricted under a mandated balanced budget?

Some of our allies have suffered great calamities, and we have poured in huge amounts of financial and other aid. Many countries around the world would be in much greater despair if it was not for the aid they receive from America. How much help would be available from us if we had a mandated balanced budget? Should that even be a consideration? The world today is a shaky, complex place, and appears to require great flexibility in readiness to respond to a wide range of possibilities.

Like it or not. Approve of it or not – The United States didn’t become a great world power by penny pinching. The gap between income and outgo was absolutely huge right after World War Two, when we financed The Marshall Plan in spite of our own needs. It couldn’t have happened under a mandated balanced budget. Most folks would say that was money well spent.

There is no doubt and no argument that much more fiscal responsibility is absolutely necessary. Easy come, easy go seems to have been our motto for far too long. A balanced budget is a legitimate goal – one that will require restraint in spending and an increase in revenue in order to properly address the issue.

It is quite similar to the budget for an average family. When the bills outweigh the income, spending, except for necessities, must stop and some way must be sought to pay off the creditors. Often, that means working a second job or selling off assets to raise more money. “Simply” cutting spending doesn’t solve the problem unless you want to bankrupt and walk away from your debts. That stays on your record for a long time, however, and severely restricts what you are allowed to do.

Reducing the national debt must become a priority. Some type of “means” test should be required to approve any new spending. People are right who say that if we don’t address the debt problem, we are courting financial disaster. Spending is a major cause of the problem, everyone agrees.

A mandated balanced budget, however, would be extremely counter- productive. It would severely restrict our ability to re-pay the debt we already owe. It would hamper our ability to act in times of threat, and it would restrict our ability to capture windfall profits in unexpected good times.

Beware anyone offering simple solutions, especially those which severely restrict our ability to act with flexibility.

Front page placement sensationalizes porn case

The front page store about Robert Flibotte is another sad chapter in the Payson Roundup's sensational coverage of events that are best buried at least below the fold or not reported at all.

And before you say there he goes again, I argued just as vociferously against the Mogollon Connection newspaper overplaying this same story back when I was affiliated with that publication.

First, Flibotte, who was convicted of having child pornography on a couple of computers, is not and will never be a threat to society.  Second, he is a 73-year-old man who is going to pay a hefty price for what he did - probably spending the rest of his life in jail.

So why did the Roundup put this story in the number one position on the front page of its Friday, July 29 edition?  To set an example for others?  To humiliate Flibotte?  One could also argue that a fixation on this kind of activity borders on perversion itself.

The bigger issue, of course, is that we - the government, its police and the media - need to stay out of people's bedrooms as long as what goes on in them doesn't harm anybody else.  It's the same kind of Big Brother mentality that caused so much discrimination against gays for so many years.

If Flibotte wants to go home and engage in this behavior, however disgusting the rest of us find it, it's none of our damn business.

And once again, we call on the Roundup to rethink its role in the community.  The paper that is so hellbent on supporting the chamber and the real estate and business communities has given the Rim Country a giant, front page black eye just a few weeks before the biggest tourist weekend of the year. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Doubtful Canyon project latest 260 improvement

Arizona State Route 260 – the road so often taken by Arizonans seeking a quick trip to cooler climates – is undergoing improvements, which will make its scenic drive a little smoother for motorists.

ADOT started construction earlier this year on the project that’s aimed at improving 260 between mileposts 269 and 272, just west of the Christopher Creek Campground. This portion is known as the Doubtful Canyon section and sits roughly 20 miles east of Payson.

The plan is to reconstruct the existing two-lane undivided roadway into a four-lane divided highway. As we showed yesterday, work is well under way.

Once construction is finished, additional improvements will include:

Six concrete bridges
Improved drainage
Additional fencing to protect elk and other wildlife
Rubberized asphalt pavement to minimize noise and create a smoother ride for motorists
New signage, striping and guardrails

The Doubtful Canyon project is scheduled for completion in fall 2012 and is part of a larger effort to widen the highway from Star Valley all the way to the Mogollon Rim. Three other sections of SR 260 have already been widened. The Little Green Valley segment is under construction now and should be finished this fall.

Travelers may have noticed some traffic restrictions in this area. These are necessary to complete this project, but ADOT makes every effort to lessen the impact.

“There are times when there’s going to be traffic delays and as ADOT we understand that and we try to minimize delay times,” says ADOT Senior Resident Engineer Tom Goodman. “But safety is really our biggest concern on any construction project … so we just ask that motorists be considerate of the work we have out here and obey the reduced speed limits and be patient. It will be all done and then it will be a nice highway to drive on.”

Weekend Valley freeway closures, restrictions

Headed to the Valley this weekend to circumvent the Flatlanders? Here's what ADOT wants you to avoid:

Eastbound Loop 101 closed between 51st and 27th avenues from 10 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Saturday (July 30)

Westbound Loop 101 closed between 27th and 51st avenues from 8 p.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Monday (Aug. 1)

Northbound Interstate 17 closed between McDowell and Indian School roads from 10 p.m. Friday to noon Saturday (July 30)

Smoke in Pine-Strawberry due to Scout Fire

The smoke that residents are experiencing in the Pine and Strawberry areas is coming from the Scout Fire that is off the 141 road on top of the Mogollon Rim.

The Scout Fire is 100 acres and is burning along the ground in heavy duff. Whenever the fire hits an especially dense layer of pine needles, it is putting up quite a bit of smoke. The Scout Fire has received light rain and is being monitored by the Mogollon Ranger District on the Coconino National Forest.

Smoke from the Scout Fire will also impact Washington Park, Rim Trail, and other communities in the area.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

SV's Chris Benjamin objects to radio comments

LETTER
LETTER
LETTER

(Editor's note: The following letter of clarification was sent to the mayor and council of Star Valley.  A copy was provided to the Gazette Blog for the edification of Star Valley residents.  For background information on this issue, click the STAR VALLEY or WATER tabs at the right.) 

Star Valley Mayor and Council:

After hearing on the radio that my family's business is for sale and that we are unwilling to cooperate with the Town of Star Valley regarding an easement across our land for the purpose of a water pipeline, we are forced to defend our position again. We have heard comments like: "The Benjamins should give Star Valley an easement for a pipeline across their land because the facts/issues have changed" OR "If the Benjamins don't give us an easement across their land, we (The Town Of Star Valley) will just take it from them" OR "Since the Benjamins were instrumental in the incorporation of Star Valley, wouldn't it be ironic if they were the ones that would stand in the way of Star Valley securing a water supply for the residents of our community" OR "We need a water source from up on that hill where the water is cleaner than water down on the valley floor” OR "The town paid for the legal battle that the Benjamins won regarding the easement, so they owe it to us"...And more!!

As most people know, Payson Water Co. ( Brooke Utilities) owns the exclusive franchise rights to deliver drinking water to the majority of Star Valley.  So why would the Town of Star Valley entertain the idea of purchasing wells in Brooke's franchise area when the town has no legal, financial, or moral responsibility to do so?  Even if the Town of Star Valley were to purchase these wells without considering the easement issue, the town still has no place to store the water or a way to deliver it, let alone charge for it.

My family's position has never changed.  It would not matter who wanted to acquire an easement across our land.  Our objection to an easement has always been based on the likely potential of our business being de-watered.   Without the water beneath our land, our property and business would be nearly worthless.  Because of the complexity of this water issue, we don't think the majority of people have a real good understanding of what's at stake for our family.  The Town of Star Valley has verifiable data proving the communication between the Tower well and the PW1 and PW2 wells. My family's domestic well is located right between them and all three of them are hundreds of feet deeper than ours!  Unfortunatly, Star Valley's well monitoring program has been irresponsibly left to die so you will not be able to see the current data linking these wells.   Keep in mind that fractured granite has limited storage and questionable recovery.  So the old saying regarding wells -  “the one with the deepest straw wins" -  has my family more than a bit concerned.

On July13, 2011, I had what I thought was a confidential meeting with (Star Valley Town Manager/Attorney) Tim Grier at his request.  I chose to meet him on the Sky Run property so that he could see firsthand just what he was asking my family to give up.  He explained the Town's desire to own and acquire an easement for the wells next door to me.  I explained to him that giving an easement would essentially be gravely endangering my family's property and livelihood . Out of frustration over this easement issue, I told Mr. Grier that “maybe the Town should just buy our land and then they could put any easement across it that they wanted to.”  I also told him more than once that we really didn’t want to sell, but we felt that as long as those wells are just sitting there, our family will continue to be pestered with this easement issue.  I am very disappointed that this had to be discussed on the radio.

Shortly after our efforts of a successful journey to incorporate Star Valley, we realized we were lacking one key ingredient needed with regard to the so called water war.  Our town did not own a well.  Out of all the potential donors in the newly incorporated Town of Star Valley, it was the Benjamins that stepped up and donated a well so Star Valley would have legal standing in Court.  Besides the incorporation effort, our family was involved in the formation of the Diamond Star Water Coalition, setting up and maintaining a well water monitoring program, setting up and serving on Planning and Zoning, serving on the Roads and Streets Committee, serving on the Water Committee, serving on the Board of Adjustments and more. Our family has done its share to protect and secure this community's future water supply. There are those that are standing in the way of what this town was built on, but it's not the Benjamin family.

Chris Benjamin

Humid and hot: Fish at night for Mr. Whiskers

By Rory Aikens
Arizona Game & Fish

Two magic words: Big Lake. It's the trout fishing hot spot in the state.
 
Yes, it not only survived the Wallow Fire, there was only a small area of grassland burned near the lake. The store, campgrounds and other facilities came through unscathed.

Plus fishing is good to excellent for trout, with lots of anglers easily catching limits of rainbow trout. Some larger cutthroat trout are also being hauled in as well.

Because it wasn't fished for such a long time during the forest closure, the trout grew up fat, healthy and without any fishing pressure at Big Lake. Plus, the fishing pressure since the forest reopened has been pretty light as well.

The fishing is best from a boat, but you can catch trout from shore as well, especially off rocky points (like the one near the store).
The store is open and boat rentals are available. Plus, the typical summer crowds aren't there right now. You'll want to take advantage of this opportunity while it lasts. 

Right now, it’s monsoon time in the high country; afternoon thundershowers can help desert dwellers shed those triple-digit fidgets.

Last week we stocked Apache trout into Sheep's Crossing along the Little Colorado River (on the way to Big Lake from Sunrise). You can't fish below the bridge, but there is plenty of great fishing above it. We also stocked Apache trout into the Little Colorado in Greer, which is another fire survivor.
 
Another piece of good news is that Rose Canyon Lake in the mountains above Tucson is now open -- it was stocked during the forest closure period, so is now full of trout that have not had any fishing pressure. This is a good time to reel in some memories there.

Parker Canyon Lake in southern Arizona is also open again. The store there has boat rentals available. This is a good time to go after largemouth bass, catfish and bluegill. You might even hook into a hold-over rainbow or two.

One of the fishing hot spots in the state is Lake Pleasant. Anglers are catching lots of striped bass there on frozen anchovies. There is also a decent daytime topwater bite for striped bass and largemouth bass -- fishing the points, islands and reefs in the main lake basin.

There is also some hot topwater action during the day at Alamo Lake -- can you say buzzbait without smiling? It's sure worth braving the heat for some Alamo topwater action. Zara Puppies can work superbly here. This is also Zara Spook land. Although the Cholla Ramp is closed for the summer, the main ramp now has a neat new dock, courtesy our boating access program. They do great work.

Another great spot to try right now is Lake Havasu. There are some decent striper boils, but summer frog flipping into the tulles and cattails where the Bill Williams River enters the lake is truly wild. Give it a try.

Just upstream, the Topock Gorge is definitely worth a try. They have been pulling plate-sized redears out of there for the past year, plus there are some voracious smallmouth bass and even an occasional trout surprise.
The desert bighorn sheep are still in the rut, making Willow Beach below Hoover Dam an enticing possibility for trout (stocked every Friday) and huge striped bass on swim baits.

There is a New Moon July 30, making this a superb time to fish at night using submersible lights. This is also the leading edge of the Perseids meteor showers, but may be the better time to see them in the dark night sky. If you can get binoculars on one of these fiery "shooting stars," it will be an experience you'll long remember.

If the humidity and heat both rise, that means it's time to fish at night for Mr. Whiskers. When it comes to catfish angling, the hotter the better. Channel catfish are especially plentiful at all our lakes and can be readily caught on stink bait, hotdogs, anchovies, or corn.

PS: You can send your fishing reports and fishing pictures directly to me at raikens@azgfd.gov and I will do my best to share them with other anglers.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Need deep reasoned approach to running country

GUEST COMMENTARY
GUEST COMMENTARY
GUEST COMMENTARY

By George Templeton
Payson, Arizona

There once was a wealthy entrepreneur who owned many pickle factories. He liked to drop by unannounced, pull a jar of pickles from the carton, and grade the product for smell, color, crispness, and taste. But in one of his factories he opened a jar and pulled out a dead mouse. The Forman argued that this was the only one like that. Can you guess what score the owner gave that factory?

The Tea Party’s mouse is the claim that Toynbee’s six volume work on the laws of the rise and disintegration of civilizations is about overspending. Instead it is about sowing seeds needed for future harvest. Toynbee holds that any scheme or attempt to return to the good old days will fail. Only birth can conquer death – the birth, not of the old thing again, but of something new.

An example is the clash between Islam and modernity and the decline of the Ottoman Empire. For 1000 years Islam provided a set of rules and principles for the regulation of public and social life. The world of Islam was in the forefront of human achievement, leading in art, science, military conquest, and economics. European advancements were ignored because they were considered the work of heathen infidels. Eventually the Islamic world was overtaken, overshadowed, and dominated by the West.

Keynes claimed that “Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist”. Tea Party Republicans claim that they will not accept the status quo but their policies align with the establishment. Power and control seem to be more important than the welfare of the little man. Unlike our founding fathers who were compromising pragmatists, they are intent on getting their way or no way. But the truth is that even proud powerful nations ultimately have to bow to the dictates of economic law.

Imagine three graphs with personal wealth along the horizontal X axis and benefit to society along the vertical Y axis. The curve on the graph expresses how dollars of personal wealth on the X axis benefits society on the Y axis.

EQUALITY GRAPH

The first graph is the “no envy” stimulus. It has a straight line at a 45 degree angle passing through the origin. Imagine you are going to give 600 dollars to everybody regardless of their personal wealth. According to this graph, the 600 dollar gift produces a 600 dollar benefit to society regardless of whether the donation was made to a rich or poor person. It all depends on how personal well-being translates into the social value of well-being. In other words, how the money is used.

SAFETY NET GRAPH

The second graph is the “wealth redistribution graph” (implying that the poor could be distributed out of their rightful earned poverty and that prosperity can be engineered through incentives to the less fortunate). On this graph the line is curved and rises nearly vertically near the “poor” origin. But as we move farther along the X axis and higher in personal wealth the slope of the line flattens out and becomes nearly horizontal. On this graph, a 600 dollar change in the wealth of a poor person transfers to a much higher benefit to society than the same 600 dollar increase in wealth of a rich person. Any fixed magnitude of gift amounts to a lower percent of the rich person’s worth. They have what they need and are less likely to spend. Alternatively the graph could be called the baby boom generation retirement graph. Many will be getting too old and sick to work and will not be financially able to fund their health and retirement costs. The Republican unregulated stealth real estate rip-off and banking bail-out has destroyed the value of their biggest asset. The Republicans are not contrite.

FREE ENTERPRISE GRAPH

The third graph implies that the rich use their gift to expand and meet consumer demands and uplift society. Mankind’s progress is driven by an elite minority, but since 1970 the luxury liners have floated up while the tugboats sank. In this graph the curve starts out slowly and nearly parallel to the X axis but then like a fighter jet rockets up nearly vertically as it proceeds towards the wealthy. A 600 dollar gift to the poor has hardly any incremental benefit to society. The same 600 dollar increase in the rich person’s wealth is greatly magnified by the transfer curve to many more dollars of benefit to society. Unfortunately the rich won’t hire without demand for their products. . America’s problem is that we seem to be evolving away from a country with a dominate middle class. It is reported that in 2009 the top 25 hedge fund managers’ combined salary combined came to 25.3 billion dollars. That’s an average of a billion each. If we tax those people a little more do you think that it would destroy their incentive? Middle class people have discovered that their wealth was imaginary. Reality may involve a near permanent slow down requiring people to find satisfaction and fulfillment by living more simply and within their means, limiting the amount they consume.

This graph could also be called the “field of dreams” graph. The Federal government funds fundamental research critical to economic development that companies alone cannot afford. Sputnik shattered American pride but provided the impetus for many American scientific, engineering, and manufacturing careers. Our government provided student loans and developed curriculum. Accelerated courses in Math, English, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Electronics laid the foundation for the replacement of vacuum tubes with transistors, Jet planes, the personal computer, optical fiber, the internet, lasers, landing on the moon, and our parent’s retirement. Industrial standards groups participated cooperatively with the government to prevent misunderstandings, law suits and disasters such as airplane crashes, electrocutions, and fires. Quality control theory, first used in government military standards and later in industry, was adopted around the world and helped to do the job right the first time.

Americans are proud of their government. There is no conspiracy here, just empathy and teamwork. Without a shared government America could become more like some foreign countries I have visited.

IMAGINE

A starving girl clothed in tattered rags with a baby waits just outside the pizza restaurant a few feet from your window begging for a slice of the pizza she can see you eating. You were offered a micro-insurance policy from street urchins to watch your car while you ate at the restaurant. When you stop at a street light the poor rush out, give your car windows an unrequested wash, and beg for money. Can you stand to see their pain?

Children are obliged to take care of their aging parents, manage their finances, medications, doctors, meals, and take care of personal cleanliness. They are social security and Medicaid. It is a life-style changing responsibility.

The hospital is an open awning with monkeys playing just outside. It looks like a landscaper’s warehouse with all the tree saws hung where they can be easily accessed. We conjecture that health care consists mainly of amputation of the infected body member, and we suspect that nature takes its course without much expense. Would you want to get sick there?

Ladies fulfill their personal responsibility to their neighborhood by sweeping the street in front of their home. There is no garbage collection service or for that matter garbage cans. Trash is pushed into large piles that are periodically burned and left to rot in the rain. Would you sweep your street? Can you stand the smell?

An unregulated food industry provides very low cost food for the poor. Anyone can take the left-overs from their meal and take it out to the street to sell to passersby without any license. Food stamps are unnecessary. You purchase a drink from a street vendor. Another thirsty individual comes. The vendor gives him your glass, without washing it. He could afford only 1 glass and there is no soap or water to wash it. They don’t have refrigerators. Fish and meat, covered with flies, hang in the warm open air all day before sold. Alley cats roam within a high class restaurant. One jumps up on your table, wandering between the dishes before you shoo it off. The bathroom in a restaurant empties through the wall into the open air and an open shallow sewer outside. Birds live in the company air conditioning ducts. One lands on your table for a grain of rice. You notice that the entire second page of the newspaper is an ad showing a picture of mom, dad, and the kids with a reminder to take worm pills every day. That’s a solution for public health.

There are crews of people along the road with sledge hammers making little rocks out of big ones so they can be piled (without cement) into homes better than the discarded cardboard boxes that the lower class use for homes. There are no building codes for fires and earthquakes.

Visiting an industrial city, we notice that the smog is so thick the sun does not shine and it hurts to breath. You retire to the hotel and find a 3 foot by 3 foot skull and crossbones displayed over the sink. The city’s water is poison. There is no Environmental Protection Agency.

We drive along a rutted dirt road lined by rice paddies at speeds as high as 15 mph on our way to dinner with the corporate executives. We note their 150 mph V12 German cars in the dirt parking lot at the restaurant making a stark contrast with the bicycles that the workers ride through the typhoon rain. Prosperity has not yet trickled down.

You can buy pirated CD’s and movies at 1/10 the price in the USA. The copy work is professional and indistinguishable from the USA original. This is without copyright, patent, and trademark laws.

At night the big city goes completely dark. There are no stop lights, street lights, signs, or even electricity in homes. The electric power goes to industry. Headlights diffuse through clouds of vision obscuring dust boiling off the unpaved road ahead. Cars maneuver to avoid hitting the holy cows that wander there. There is no Rural Electrification Administration.

It is O.K. to run stop lights, straddle the center line, and drive on sidewalks. Freeway traffic comes to a screeching stop because there are no interchanges or overpasses. You won’t get a ticket because the police are tied up with traffic jams. Who needs a department of transportation? We don’t use those new roads in other states! Make them all toll roads! Because trusted business is completely ethical and efficient and government is wasteful and evil, privatize social security, our schools, forests, national parks, and the Federal Aeronautics Administration.

CHOICES

We are the government. It reflects our values and way of life. It is not just about consumption and materialism. It is about an ethos admired by the rest of the world. It is about our ability to rise to the challenge, to make sacrifices when needed, to compromise, and to be fair, just, and constructive. It is about having a level playing field that does not destroy the chances of any man. We reject those who characterize Obama’s administration as “gangsters”. Such talk reveals disrespect for our intelligence. We require a deep reasoned approach to running our country, not hatred and fear mongering, and not an undue concern with trivialities like fluorescent light bulbs, and “press 1 for English.”

Our taxes are not wasted money. They stimulate the economy, grow the middle class, and enable our future. Respected economist David Stockton says that our financial problems cannot be resolved by just cutting spending and that tax increases for the wealthy are necessary. We will make adjustments, plan for the future, and not destroy what we have worked so hard for so long to build.
PERSPECTIVE
PERSPECTIVE
PERSPECTIVE
"Austerity is here. We've been Shock Doctrined. With a gun to the head of the economy, Republicans and Democrats are ready to bleed fundamental bedrock American programs like Social Security and Medicare to pay for the economic crisis that has nothing to do with retired people or health care."
truthout.org

Expect week of smoke from Dude Creek Rx burn

UPDATE: DUE TO HIGH TEMPERATURES
THIS PRESCRIBED BURN HAS BEEN CANCELLED

Payson, Ariz. (July 26, 2011) – Payson Ranger District fire specialists plan to conduct a broadcast fire treatment of 576 acres west of Bonita Creek and east of Verde Glen in the Dry Dude Creek area on Friday, July 29.

The purpose of the prescribed fire treatment is to eliminate dead and down logs and vegetative debris left over from the Dude Fire of 1990.

During fire operations, signs will be posted along the roads that are likely to be affected by smoke. Motorists are urged to use caution while driving through these areas and to slow down for the safety of firefighters and the public.

Residents and visitors to the area can expect to see and smell moderate to heavy amounts of smoke during the prescribed fire operation. Smoke during the day will move up and over the Mogollon Rim.

Diurnal air flow in the evening hours will move residual smoke down the East Verde River corridor and will settle at night in the Verde Glen, Bonita Creek, and Whispering Pines areas. Smoke may linger in the treated areas up to seven days.

Prescribed fire treatments are always dependent on optimal weather conditions, such as fuel moisture content, temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and directions, and other variables.

Broadcast fire treatments typically continue for several days or weeks and generally are conducted when grasses have dried and cured and the weather is cooler. Windy conditions are often needed to carry flames in an open area to achieve beneficial effects desired by land managers.

For information about prescribed fire and mechanical fuels reduction operations, please call the Payson Ranger District at 928-474-7900. Residents can also stay updated on prescribed fires at www.fs.usda.gov/Tonto. To report a wildland fire, the fire emergency number is 866-746-6516, or dial 9-1-1.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why Medicare is the solution - not the problem

Robert Reich's Blog | Op-Ed

By Robert Reich

Sunday, July 24, 2011 - Not only is Social Security on the chopping block in order to respond to Republican extortion. So is Medicare.

But Medicare isn’t the nation’s budgetary problems. It’s the solution. The real problem is the soaring costs of health care that lie beneath Medicare. They’re costs all of us are bearing in the form of soaring premiums, co-payments, and deductibles.

Medicare offers a means of reducing these costs — if Washington would let it.

Let me explain.

Americans spend more on health care per person than any other advanced nation and get less for our money. Yearly public and private healthcare spending is $7,538 per person. That’s almost two and a half times the average of other advanced nations.

Yet the typical American lives 77.9 years – less than the average 79.4 years in other advanced nations. And we have the highest rate of infant mortality of all advanced nations.

Medical costs are soaring because our health-care system is totally screwed up. Doctors and hospitals have every incentive to spend on unnecessary tests, drugs, and procedures.

You have lower back pain? Almost 95% of such cases are best relieved through physical therapy. But doctors and hospitals routinely do expensive MRI’s, and then refer patients to orthopedic surgeons who often do even more costly surgery. Why? There’s not much money in physical therapy.

Your diabetes, asthma, or heart condition is acting up? If you go to the hospital, 20 percent of the time you’re back there within a month. You wouldn’t be nearly as likely to return if a nurse visited you at home to make sure you were taking your medications. This is common practice in other advanced countries. So why don’t nurses do home visits to Americans with acute conditions? Hospitals aren’t paid for it.

Click here to sign up for Truthout's daily email updates.

America spends $30 billion a year fixing medical errors – the worst rate among advanced countries. Why? Among other reasons because we keep patient records on computers that can’t share the data. Patient records are continuously re-written on pieces of paper, and then re-entered into different computers. That spells error.

Meanwhile, administrative costs eat up 15 to 30 percent of all healthcare spending in the United States. That’s twice the rate of most other advanced nations. Where does this money go? Mainly into collecting money: Doctors collect from hospitals and insurers, hospitals collect from insurers, insurers collect from companies or from policy holders.

A major occupational category at most hospitals is “billing clerk.” A third of nursing hours are devoted to documenting what’s happened so insurers have proof.

Trying to slow the rise in Medicare costs doesn’t deal with any of this. It will just limit the amounts seniors can spend, which means less care. As a practical matter it means more political battles, as seniors – whose clout will grow as boomers are added to the ranks – demand the limits be increased. (If you thought the demagoguery over “death panels” was bad, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.)

Paul Ryan’s plan – to give seniors vouchers they can cash in with private for-profit insurers — would be even worse. It would funnel money into the hands of for-profit insurers, whose administrative costs are far higher than Medicare.

So what’s the answer? For starters, allow anyone at any age to join Medicare. Medicare’s administrative costs are in the range of 3 percent. That’s well below the 5 to 10 percent costs borne by large companies that self-insure. It’s even further below the administrative costs of companies in the small-group market (amounting to 25 to 27 percent of premiums). And it’s way, way lower than the administrative costs of individual insurance (40 percent). It’s even far below the 11 percent costs of private plans under Medicare Advantage, the current private-insurance option under Medicare.

In addition, allow Medicare – and its poor cousin Medicaid – to use their huge bargaining leverage to negotiate lower rates with hospitals, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies. This would help move health care from a fee-for-the-most-costly-service system into one designed to get the highest-quality outcomes most cheaply.

Estimates of how much would be saved by extending Medicare to cover the entire population range from $58 billion to $400 billion a year. More Americans would get quality health care, and the long-term budget crisis would be sharply reduced.

Let me say it again: Medicare isn’t the problem. It’s the solution. 

Robert Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written thirteen books, including The Work of Nations, Locked in the Cabinet, Supercapitalism, and his most recent book, Aftershock.

New movement: 'Bigger than the Tea Party'

RSN COMMENTARY

By Van Jones
Reader Supported News
www.readersupportednews.org


25 July 11 - Last month, I joined with MoveOn.org and launched the Rebuild the Dream campaign to help give a voice to the millions of Americans who aren't being heard in Washington. This past weekend, we organized nearly 1,600 house meetings across the country - nearly double the number of protests the Tea Party held when they launched in April of 2009. The American Dream Meetings gave more than 27,000 people, from all across the country, an opportunity to come together and discuss what the American Dream means to them and their families. They talked about how the jobless crisis and foreclosure mess is impacting their communities. They put forth creative ideas for the Contract for the American Dream - a bold progressive vision to help fix the broken economy and rebuild our communities. The Contract has already received nearly 26,000 ideas submitted online alone and over 6 million ratings.

While I'm beyond inspired by the enormous outpour of ideas we've received thus far, it doesn't surprise me that the American people are yearning to come up with practical solutions to our economic crisis. While so many Americans struggle with joblessness and rampant foreclosures, we keep hearing from Washington that we need to reduce the deficit, even if it means slashing Medicare or gutting vital programs families depend on. Washington appears to be operating on an entirely different planet than the rest of America.

There's an important story that's not being told in Washington. It's the story of the mother or father getting the dreaded call into the office where their boss informs them that they've been laid off. They were already underwater on their house, and now without a steady paycheck, they start to get behind on their mortgage payments. Then comes the big bad bank. They do everything they can to keep their house but it's no use. The bank posts that horrifying foreclosure notice on their door, and takes their home. They sell most of their belongings and move their entire family into a one-bedroom apartment. Or if they're lucky, they move in with grandma. It's a vicious cycle and it's happening every single day in America. It's the new American nightmare.

Our brave men and women in uniform are coming from a war battlefield only to return home to an economic battlefield with little hope of finding a job. Young Americans are graduating off a cliff, and sleeping on their parent's couches waiting for an opportunity to come along.

In Washington, it's almost as if these problems don't exist. It's fair to say that Washington has become obsessed with deficit politics, even though poll after poll shows that the number one concern of Americans is the economy and jobs. So, how did Washington get so off track with the rest of America? How did the debate change from being focused on job creation during the stimulus debate, to becoming focused mostly on cutting spending and tightening our belt? There was a movement with a message, and it has helped drive this deficit obsession in Washington - the Tea Party.

In April of 2009, Americans who identified themselves as Tea Partiers took to the streets to protest against what they perceived to be a "big government takeover". With the help and funding of lobbyist-run think tanks such as Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works, 800 Tea Party protests were organized across the country to speak out against "big government", taxation, and more specifically, President Obama.

The media started to take notice. Who were these people? Why were they so angry? Should they be taken seriously? Like bees to honey, right-wing candidates began to flock to the Tea Party and adopt their platform as their own. The Tea Party organized protests at town halls around health care reform - successfully heckling members of Congress and making sure the TV cameras were there to spread the story. From that point on, anything and everything the Tea Party did, the media paid attention to. And, anyone on the left who didn't take them seriously had pie in their faces when Tea Party-backed candidates propelled to power in Congress in the 2010 Election.

The Tea Party didn't just make waves in Washington, DC, they also helped elect extreme right-wingers to State Houses and began occupying Governor's mansions across the country. These newly elected Tea Party candidates weren't afraid to take risks, and they weren't shy about putting their right-wing ideology before the economic well being of their constituents. They immediately began an all out assault on public workers, women's rights, and began doling out tax breaks for millionaires and corporations. They threw everything at the wall in the hopes it would stick. And to the detriment of working families, some of it did. But it wasn't without consequence for their movement or the candidates they helped elect.

Fast forward to February of 2011, Madison, Wisconsin. Just after Governor Walker doled out $140 million in tax breaks to corporations, he proposed the Budget Repair Bill, which restricted the collective bargaining rights of workers. Tens of thousands of Wisconsinites filled the Capitol and surrounded the grounds, protesting the attack on workers' rights. The protests reached a magnitude of 150,000 people in Madison - larger than the rally put on by Glenn Beck and the Tea Party in Washington, DC. The protests in Wisconsin helped ignite and inspire other protests around the country. In an effort to show solidarity with the workers in Wisconsin, "Rallies to Save the American Dream" were held in all 50 states. From Ohio to Montana to New York, protests against right-wing attacks and unfair budget cuts began breaking out across America.

A new movement to save the American Dream was born.

The Tea Party has their message and their movement, and it continues to impact the debate in Washington. But the movement to save the American Dream is bigger. There is a silent majority of Americans who are fighting back, and many of them have been fighting alone. They've been fighting to find a job and provide for their families. They've been fighting against the banks that are trying to take their homes. They're fighting against unfair budget cuts that will disproportionately hurt the middle class and poor. They're fighting for the American Dream. But, as we saw in Wisconsin, and we're now beginning to see around the country, millions of Americans are starting to fight back together. And, it's only a matter of time before the American Dream Movement comes to Washington.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Register now for GCC fall term

Fall semester registration is underway at Gila Community College-Payson Campus.

Register today for all classes, including Casandra Stouder’s Fitness classes:

Classes start August 22, 2011

Cardio Kickboxing I
EVERY Monday & Wednesday
5:30-6:20 P.M.

Beginning Body Conditioning I
EVERY Tuesday & Thursday
11:00-11:50 A.M.

www.gilaccc.org
(928)468-8039
201 N. Mud Springs Road
Payson AZ. 85541

Payson Choral Society tryouts Aug. 8

The Payson Choral Society is looking for new members. We invite you to try out at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, August 8 at the United Methodist Church, 414 N. Easy Street.

Our concert will be Saturday, December 17. Rehearsals for the Christmas 2010 Concert begin the following Monday, August 15 (6:30 p.m.) at the same location.

If you like to sing, want to have fun with a great group of people, and you are willing to commit to weekly rehearsals come be a part of the Payson Choral Society!

For further information call John Landino at (928-468-6684).

Sunday, July 24, 2011

New winery debuts in Young with historic event

LETTER LETTER LETTER

Hello Jim, it was great seeing you today. Thank you for your interest and support of this special event which we want to offer to the Beverage Place Wine (Eagles) Club, and other interested wine lovers. Members of the Arizona Wine Growers Association will be attending, and it should be a very fun and interesting time for all.

Here are the details of the invitation to visit Pleasant Valley (Young, Arizona) and stay at the Historic Q Ranch Lodge B&B. The event will include a guided tour of the Q Ranch Pueblo archeological site and tours of the Pleasant Valley Museums and Boot Hill gravesites of the infamous Pleasant Valley War, the bloodiest range war in American history.

The historic Q Ranch Lodge is offering a special rate, with gourmet meals and all events included, for Arizona wine lovers.

The date is August 5-6. The invitation and Q Ranch brochure are viewable on the AWGA site of Upcoming Events, http://www.arizonawine.org/events.html

For information or to make reservations now, please contact us at 866 558-2734, Ext. 4484, pvwinery@wildblue.net.

It is an honor to offer what is an interesting and fun way to beat the heat while enjoying one of the most historic and unique communities in beautiful Arizona.

We hope to see you there,
Jim & Marie Petroff
Pleasant Valley Winery

866 558-2734, Ext. 4484

www.pvwinery.com

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Thousands get marijuana cards despite Brewer

CLICK ON MAP TO ENLARGE
Personal medical marijuana cards have been approved for patients and caregivers across the state, giving thousands of Arizonans a license to own, use and in some cases grow their own marijuana. (Map courtesy the Arizona Department of Health Services)
 
By CRISTINA RAYAS
Cronkite News Service

WASHINGTON – More than 7,500 Arizonans had been approved for personal medical marijuana licenses as of July, despite a well-publicized court battle that has delayed implementation of other parts of the law.

The court fight between the state and federal governments has temporarily halted approval of marijuana dispensaries but not personal licenses, which had been granted to 7,570 individuals and 270 caregivers by this week. The Arizona Department of Health Services could not say how many of the caregivers, if any, also had patient licenses.

Only seven patient applications have been denied so far and 93 percent of applications for caregivers — who help patients administer their medical marijuana — have been approved.

Three-quarters of approved patients are men and about 60 percent are older than 41. But the department said two minors have also had applications approved. The vast majority of applicants cited chronic pain as the reason they needed medical marijuana.

Close to 80 percent of applicants have asked for approval to grow their own marijuana, which is allowed under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act for anyone who does not live within 25 miles of a dispensary. Individuals approved to grow their own can legally maintain up to 12 plants in their homes and caregivers can grow for up to five patients at a time.

Those numbers have even some medical marijuana activists concerned about quality control and safety issues surrounding home-grown marijuana in residential areas.

“It’s hard to ensure quality and standards on something that should be regulated,” said Vincent Palazzotto, executive director of the Medical Marijuana Assistance Program of America. “It is about the safety of the patient at the end of this.”

Palazzotto said he would not be comfortable with neighbors growing marijuana in his apartment building in the absence of dispensaries, since the lack of regulation would mean increased risks like fire or theft, for the value of the medicine or the equipment used to grow it.

State health officials declined to comment on the approvals, referring all questions to Department Director Will Humble’s blog on the subject.

The state in May stopped processing dispensary applications after concerns were raised that state employees might face federal prosecution for assisting in marijuana distribution. The state sued the Justice Department on May 27 seeking clarification of the federal government’s position before proceeding on the dispensary applications.

The Justice Department issued a memo in June that was supposed to give guidance to states with medical marijuana laws, but Gov. Jan Brewer said it offered “little more than continued confusion and doublespeak.”

“If this memo was an attempt at clarity, it failed,” she said.

The delay in dispensary decisions has sparked other lawsuits by groups trying to force the state to begin processing applications. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion last week asking a federal judge to dismiss the suit brought by Brewer and Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne.

“Arizona is in a very gray area because the law passed at an unfortuitous time when the federal government is unclear,” said Allen St. Pierre, executive director for the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

If no dispensaries are approved in the state, every medical marijuana patient would theoretically be able to grow their own. Those who did not get that permission initially could pay $10 and apply to amend their license.

If a home-grown market sprouts up in Arizona, Dhar Mann is ready to cultivate it.

Mann, founder of the weGrow Store, said his business has heard from an “overwhelming amount of patients” in need of information and help building safe grow-rooms. His company opened its Phoenix store June 1, just days after the medical marijuana dispensary program was put on hold.

“A lack of support and training for medical marijuana growers leads to unsafe cultivation practices, causing electrical fires, floods, unsafe product and many other dangerous problems,” Mann said in an email.

Officials in Peoria are prepared for dispensaries there should the state ever approve a license. The town has given zoning approval for the location of two dispensaries, if they can win state operating licenses.

So far, there has been no public outcry, said Chris Jacques, the Peoria city planning manager, adding that citizens were “a no-show” at the planning and zoning commission meeting on the issue.

“They are pretty well away from children and residential communities,” Jacques said of the approved locations. He said the city put them in commercial districts for easier policing, and that only four or five sites in the city qualified for zoning.

Mann, meanwhile, is ready for any outcome of the “ongoing tug-of-war between state and federal government.”

“If there are lower barriers to entry for cultivating medical marijuana it would open up a larger customer base, which would be great for business,” said Mann. “Until that happens, two steps forward, one step backward.”

SIDEBAR: Medical marijuana personal licenses, by county

Numbers as of July 13. Because Health Department regions overlap county borders, total does not equal 7,570.
Apache: 22
Cochise: 86
Coconino, Navajo and Apache: 211
Gila, Pinal and Graham: 87
Graham: 31
Greenlee: 5
La Paz: 10
Maricopa: 4,920
Maricopa and Pinal: 1
Mohave and Coconino: 194
Navajo: 79
Pima: 809
Pinal: 443
Santa Cruz: 19
Yavapai: 547
Yuma: 45

Tiptoeing through the 60s takes fancy footwork

OUT TO PASTOR
an occasional column

By Rev. James L. Snyder
Gazette Blog Contributor

Now that I have safely escaped the infamous 50-something stage of life, I am carefully testing the waters before me. They look calm, but you never can be sure. Moreover, at this juncture of my life I am in no mood for taking chances.

Just the other day the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage said to me rather sarcastically, "How does it feel to be 60-something?"

I knew she was having too much fun with this so I retorted by saying, "I feel like two 30-year-olds."

"Oh, no," she moaned. "I can’t handle more than one of you."

Ha! Ha! Ha! In her old age, she has not lost any of her sense of humor. I was hoping.

I am taking it rather careful, though. I have heard all the rumors about what happens to a person once they pass the 60 mark. For myself, I am determined to enjoy to the fullest every day I live from this day forward regardless of who I annoy. And I do have a list for this.

Some things, I am finding out, are quite true. Just the other night I discovered one of those rumors to be true. I now know why older men go to the bathroom so often during the night.

I had just gone to bed and started my evening dance with the Sandman. As I approached the shores of oblivion, I had the urge to go to the bathroom. I sat up in bed, adjusted my nightcap, put on my slippers, stood up and put on my bathrobe. In somewhat of a daze I headed for the bathroom.

Once I got into the bathroom, I closed the door behind me, turned on the light and stood there. For a moment, I did not know where I was and then I could not remember why I was where I was. I thought for a moment and then turned around, walked back to my bed, took off my bathrobe, removed my slippers and tucked myself back into bed.

I dozed off for a moment and then, all of a sudden, it occurred to me why I went to the bathroom. So, I sat up in bed, adjusted my nightcap, put on my slippers, stood up and put on my bathrobe. In somewhat of a daze I headed for the bathroom.

I closed the door and tried to turn on the light only to discover I was in the closet. Extricating my body from the closet, I headed once more in the direction of the bathroom. This time I found the bathroom.

I closed the door, turn on the light and looked in the mirror wondering why I was in the bathroom. I lathered up my face and shaved.

I left the bathroom and headed back for bed, removed my slippers and bathrobe and tucked myself snuggly under the sheets. Just as I was dozing off, I remembered why I wanted to go to the bathroom so urgently.

I sat up in bed, adjusted my nightcap, put on my slippers, stood up and put on my bathrobe. In somewhat of a daze I headed for the bathroom. It took me a little longer to get to the bathroom this time but as soon as I opened the door, the light went on. In the bathroom was a quart of milk, a pitcher of iced tea, the makings of a salad and some luncheon meat. I poured myself a glass of iced tea, slowly drank it and then headed back for bed.

As I snuggled myself back into bed, I heard the person on the other side of the bed moan and mumbled something, "You weren't in the kitchen were you?"

"No," I said rather sleepily, "I was in the bathroom."

I soon fell asleep and no sooner did I fall asleep than I awoke with an urge to go to the bathroom. I adjusted my nightcap, put on my slippers, stood up, put on my bathrobe, and made my way toward the bathroom.

This time, when I opened the door the light did not go on so I had to switch the light on myself. I stood there, looked in the mirror, picked up my toothbrush and toothpaste and began brushing my teeth. I gargled good and long with mouthwash, turned off the light and headed back for bed.

From the other side of the bed I heard another moan, "Were you brushing your teeth?"

"No," I muttered incoherently, "I got a drink of tea from the kitchen."

"You shouldn't drink tea before you go to bed, it'll make you go to the bathroom."

I soon fell asleep but was awakened with a very urgent need to go to the bathroom. In a panic I stumbled out of bed, could not find my slippers, my bathrobe was nowhere to be found but I had to go to the bathroom.

The next thing I remember the alarm clock was ringing and it was seven o'clock in the morning. I still do not know if I ever went to the bathroom but now I know why older men go to the bathroom so often during the night.

That morning in my devotions, I read from the Psalms. "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread" (Psalm 37:25 KJV).

I am thinking this 60-something is going to require some fancy footwork.

The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 352-687-4240 or e-mail jamessnyder2@att.net. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.com.

Friday, July 22, 2011

All restrictions lifted on Tonto National Forest

PHOENIX, Ariz. (July 20, 2011) – All campfire and smoking restrictions affecting the Tonto National Forest are being lifted, effective 8 a.m., Friday, July 22.

The fire restrictions, which covered the entire forest, are no longer needed because fire danger has been reduced by increased moisture and humidity from the annual monsoon weather. These wetter conditions prompted officials to lift the forest fire restrictions which have been in place since May 11.

“Although campfires and cooking fires will now be allowed throughout the forest, we ask visitors to remain cautious and properly extinguish their fires. Campfires have to be cold enough to touch before they are left,” said Deputy Fire Staff Helen Graham. “Campfires should be put out by drowning with water and stirring the ashes with first a shovel, then bare hands, to ensure the fire is cold -- and dead out.”

Acting Forest Supervisor Tom Klabunde acknowledged the cooperation of the visiting public during the period of fire restrictions which began two months ago.

“We appreciate the public’s support during these fire restrictions,” Klabunde said. “We thank everyone for their patience and understanding while access and activities on the Tonto were restricted during this wildfire season. We appreciate our visitors’ patience and support of the restrictions.”

For more information regarding forest recreation sites and fire restrictions, please contact the Tonto National Forest at (602) 225-5200, or check online at www.fs.usda.gov/Tonto

Fire Restriction Information: Toll free 1 (877) 864-6985.  To report a wildfire, call 1-866-746-6516 or dial 911.

Pre-existing condition insurance now available

By David Sayen
Gazette Blog Contributor

If you’ve been turned down for health insurance because of a pre-existing condition, or offered coverage only at an unaffordable price, you may have another option: the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, or PCIP.

PCIP is available to children and adults who’ve been locked out of the health insurance market because they have cancer, heart disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, asthma, or some other pre-existing medical condition.

With PCIP, you’ll be insured for a wide range of benefits, including primary and specialty physicians’ services, hospital care, and prescription drugs.

Like commercial insurance plans, PCIP requires you to pay a monthly premium, a deductible, and some cost-sharing expenses. But you won’t be charged a higher premium because of your medical condition and your eligibility isn’t based on your income.

Arizonans enrolled in PCIP have access to a provider network that includes 34,871 doctors, 1,149 pharmacies, and 138 hospitals throughout the state.

PCIP is already changing the lives of Americans who don’t have health coverage and need medical care. James H., who lives in Texas, was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2010. Shortly after his diagnosis, James’ insurance company rescinded his insurance coverage, claiming that his cancer was a pre-existing condition. James knew his lack of coverage was a death sentence. Fortunately, he was able to join PCIP in Texas and is now receiving the treatment he needs.

To qualify for PCIP, you must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident. You also must have a pre-existing condition or have been denied health coverage because of your health status. In addition, you must have been without health insurance for at least six months before you apply for PCIP.

PCIP offers three coverage options: Standard, Extended, and a Health Savings Account. With a Health Savings Account, you can use pre-tax earnings to pay for PCIP. Premiums are based on the amount a subscriber would pay if he or she had no pre-existing condition and was able to purchase individual insurance in the open market.

PCIP premiums recently were lowered 40 percent in Arizona. The current premium for the Standard option for an Arizona resident aged 35-44 is $188 per month. The Standard option premium for a child 18 years old or younger is $104 per month. An Arizonan aged 55 years old or older would pay $334 per month for the Standard option.

In addition to a monthly premium, you’ll pay other costs. In 2011, you’ll pay a deductible that ranges from $1,000 to $3,000, depending on which option you pick, for covered medical benefits before PCIP starts to pay. Prescription drugs may have separate deductibles. (Preventive-care services, such as cancer screenings and flu shots, are covered 100 percent, with no deductible.)

After you pay the deductible, you’ll pay a $25 copayment for doctor visits, $4 to $40 for most prescription drugs, and 20 percent of the costs of any other covered benefits you receive. Your out-of-pocket costs cannot exceed $5,950 per year if you stay within the PCIP network.

And there’s no lifetime cap on the amount that PCIP pays for your care.

The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan was created under the Affordable Care Act. It’s a transitional program until 2014, when all Americans—regardless of health status—will have access to affordable health insurance as the nation shifts to a new marketplace. PCIP is operated in Arizona by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Insurance is provided through GEHA, a nonprofit organization that covers federal employees and retirees.

For more information, go to www.pcip.gov or call toll-free at 1-866-717-5826. (TTY: 1-866-561-1604) The phones are open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Eastern Time.

David Sayen is Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona. You can get answers to your Medicare questions by visiting www.Medicare.gov or calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sky Harbor Airport access limited through Saturday

A portion of State Route 143 and Sky Harbor Boulevard will be closed through Saturday (July 23) as ADOT continues making improvements for motorists and travelers headed into and out of Sky Harbor International Airport.

In order to avoid delays, drivers should enter and exit the airport from the west, via 44th or 24th streets. Additional details on the restrictions and detours can be found at ValleyFreeways.com/SR143closures.

When this project is completed is summer 2012, motorists passing through this area can look forward to:
• Improved access to and from Sky Harbor International Airport
• Better traffic flow on SR 143
• New directional signage
• Enhanced landscaping

Grapes grow anywhere, but best in certain areas

EN VINO VERITAS
By Noble Collins
Gazette Columnist

Why must a great “First Growth” red wine comes from Bordeaux or Burgundy only, you might ask. The grapes grown there can be grown almost anywhere.

The answer comes from the French term “Terroir” which basically means land. In horse racing circles, you will frequently hear the adage, “horses for courses,” meaning some horses run better on particular race tracks. In wine terminology the best wines come from the best terroir or pieces of land, which bring out the best quality of the particular grape grown there.

Look at it this way: Let’s say I have ten marbles in my hand – each a different size and labeled with a different grape name. I also have a board with ten holes of varying sizes; each marked with a geographic name. Each marble will only fit into its matching hole. The marbles will seek out their best fit.

It might take hundreds of years, but when a certain grape is found to reach its absolute zenith in a certain area, it will be grown there under the most protective and productive circumstances. It will also draw the finest winemakers to extract the highest qualities from the grape and create wine of extraordinary appeal. These are the great wines in the world. They are great in the same way a Rolls Royce is a great automobile.

The French government has mandated a heirachy of properties based upon the consistent quality of their product . The system is known as AOC.

Each area has its best land and concentrates on specific grapes that thrive there. In Bordeaux, it is Primarily Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  In Burgundy, it is Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are used in the Champagne district to make marvelous sparkling wines. They are the only grapes grown there, and the soil is really so chalky and poor that it’s a wonder any grapes grow at all.

Early wines made there contained sulfuric bubbles, which spoiled them. Someone had a hunch about the bubbles, though.

In the warmer areas of France, along the Rhone River, Districts like Vaqueras, Gigondas, Chatuneuf-Du-Pape and others grow Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Viognier as their best examples. There again, you must know the area and the best properties to know the wine.

(Incidentally, the same goes for distilled spirits like Cognac and Armagnac. These are place names.)

We could also discuss the many wines being made in Italy, such as Chianti, Borolo, Asti, etc. The same rigid rules apply. Lately, Italy has allowed the use of varietal names such as Pinot Grigio to some extent.

German wine labels are probably the hardest to read and understand. Almost all their wine is made from Riesling, but it is important to know where it is made. Wines along the great rivers, such as Mosel, Saar, Rhur, and Rhine vary greatly in style and taste. Germans frequently throw in another piece of information on their labels to show their sugar levels or distinguish when the grapes were picked. 

(Watch for details on an exciting new series of wine tastings featuring Noble Collins to benefit Rim Country Friends of Ferals.)
PERSPECTIVE: ON WALL STREET

Wall Street is the richest and most powerful industry in America with the closest ties to the federal government - routinely supplying Treasury secretaries and economic advisors who share its world view and its financial interests, and routinely bankrolling congressional kingpins.

How else can you explain why the Street was bailed out with no strings attached? Or why no criminal charges have been brought against any major Wall Street figure - despite the effluvium of frauds, deceptions, malfeasance and nonfeasance in the years leading up to the crash and subsequent bailout? Or why Dodd-Frank has been eviscerated?

If you took the greed out of Wall Street all you'd have left is pavement.

Columnist Robert Reich 

Robert Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written thirteen books, including "The Work of Nations," "Locked in the Cabinet," "Supercapitalism" and his latest book, "AFTERSHOCK: The Next Economy and America's Future." His 'Marketplace' commentaries can be found on publicradio.com and iTunes.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Contaminated fish advisory issued for Tonto Creek

PHOENIX – (July 20, 2011) – The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, in association with the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Arizona Department of Health Services, has issued a fish consumption advisory recommending that people not eat certain fish caught from a 51-mile stretch of Tonto Creek in Gila County between Hellsgate Wilderness, located one mile downstream of Bear Flat Campground, and Roosevelt Lake.

Tissue samples of fish caught from Tonto Creek recently, and analyzed by ADEQ, contain elevated levels of mercury. The consumption advisory recommends the public not eat smallmouth and largemouth bass, green sunfish and black bullhead catfish caught from this stretch of Tonto Creek. The advisory recommends that common carp caught from this section should not be consumed by children under 6 years and be limited to one eight ounce (uncooked weight) fish serving per month for those between 6 and 16 years and two eight ounce (uncooked weight) fish serving per month for all those over 16 years.

The advisory does not limit the consumption of trout taken from Tonto Creek or the use of this waterbody for fishing, bird watching, swimming or other recreational uses.

Fish are an excellent source of protein and can be an important part of a healthy, diverse diet. Because mercury has been detected in some fish from Tonto Creek, it is prudent to advise the public and offer this consumption advisory.

“Consuming fish contaminated with mercury is the most common method of human exposure to mercury,” said ADEQ Director Henry Darwin. “While we continue to work to reduce mercury pollution in Arizona’s waterbodies, these fish consumption advisories are an important part of our effort to protect public health.”

Mercury in the environment can come from various sources and can cause numerous health problems when ingested, most notably its toxicity to the central nervous system. Infants and pregnant or nursing mothers are considered most at risk to possible health effects. Mercury is quickly absorbed by bacteria in sediments and passed along via the food chain to living organisms. Fish can accumulate elevated levels of mercury when larger fish consume smaller fish and insects which have become contaminated, a process called bioaccumulation.

In addition to Tonto Creek, fish consumption advisories remain in place for the following waterbodies in Arizona: Lake Pleasant, Roosevelt Lake, Arivaca Lake, Alamo Lake, Parker Canyon Lake, Upper Lake Mary, Lower Lake Mary, Lyman Lake, Pena Blanca Lake, Coors Lake, Soldier Lake, Soldier Annex Lake and Long Lake.

For more information, see ADEQ’s fish consumption advisory fact sheet http://www.azdeq.gov/environ/water/assessment/download/fish-0711.pdf, frequently asked questions about Tonto Creek http://www.azdeq.gov/environ/water/assessment/download/fish_tontofaq.pdf, the EPA’s consumption advisories http://www.epa.gov/mercury/advisories.htm, and Game and Fish’s consumption advisory http://www.azgfd.gov/h_f/fish_consumption.shtml

ADEQ officials are continuing to test Tonto Creek to identify the source of contamination. The advisories will remain in effect until further notice.

Noble has a heart-to-heart talk with the Tea Party

Hello, My name is Noble Collins.

I know many of you here, and I’m pleased to say I’m actually friends with
a few. I appreciate you giving me a moment to speak.

First, along with many others, I congratulate the Tea Party for finally, after many, many years getting Congress to pay attention to what ordinary people are saying. If this country is going to be OF the people, BY the people and FOR the people, then it must include the voice of ALL the people.

As we are all aware, this is one of the most crucial periods in American history. It’s my opinion that this next few weeks and coming year will determine whether, as Lincoln called it, “the last, best hope of man,” can endure.

There is one important thing that we all agree on – the United States is very deeply in debt, and it can’t survive unless the huge deficits and unbalanced spending are brought under control. For far too many years, our representatives in Congress have ignored that fact and have refused to wrestle with a common sense approach toward correcting the problem.

The U.S. is like a heroin addict who has to take more and more drugs just to function. Sooner or later, of course, the drugs will kill him. I have to ask, though, if there are any doctors here? If you had a patient under your care that had a severe drug addiction problem, would you prescribe Cold Turkey? Taking the patient immediately off drugs and expecting him to be cured the next day is not only unrealistic, it most likely would kill him, isn’t that right? The best approach would be to slowly get the patient off the drugs and begin a program to prevent him from becoming a repeat offender, right?

Well a close correlation can be made, I believe, with the U.S. and the debt ceiling. We all know we have a huge problem. Finally, with the help of the Tea Party, people who can do something about it are admitting to the problem. That’s a big first step for an addict – a huge accomplishment for the Tea Party.

To take the drastic immediate step of pulling the country out of debt by ignoring the debt and going cold turkey, however, will have the almost certain effect of killing the patient.

The debt ceiling doesn’t represent new spending. It is money we owe for previous spending. We have been on a credit card spree, and now we have to pay the bill. If we refuse to pay the bill we only make things worse for ourselves. When you stop paying the mortgage, the bank forecloses. When you stiff your creditors, they have all kinds of ugly ways of trying to get their money. In the end, we would do far better admitting our problem and putting in place a program to work out of it.

Our creditors would prefer this. The last thing they want is for us to forfeit the debt and not be able to pay anything. Then, they are stuck with nothing.

Paying interest-only for a while, as you work to improve your situation, is a time-honored way of working with creditors. Raising the debt limit, along with a sound plan for drastically cutting back our lifestyle (future spending) will eventually pull us out of this crisis. Millions of families are doing just that today in order to save their homes. Where banks are willing, sound plans are being put in place for re-financing and saving the home. Where debtors are willing to work out a plan, ways are being found to keep the homestead.

Simply refusing to deal with the situation solves nothing and helps no one. In fact, it only makes a bad thing much worse.

I strongly urge you to back a plan to mandate debt reduction for the U.S. government. A broadly based independent commission, has studied the problem and recommended just that.

The patient can be cured. Strong medicine can do it.

Raising the present debt ceiling is not the same thing as authorizing more spending. Please understand that. This money has already been spent.  We just never had it, so we promised to borrow it when the bill came due.

When times are good, it’s easy to think they will always be good. When a great challenge comes along, it’s easy to believe we will just answer the challenge and worry about paying for it later. We have done that too often.

As distasteful as it certainly is, we have to own up to past mistakes and begin a sound program for avoiding this kind of mess again.

Please encourage your congressman to allow raising the present debt ceiling.

Refusing to do so will eliminate any good opportunity for recovery. It will only make things far worse.

As physicians to the debt junkie, we should “First, do no harm.”

Working together, we can make sure this never happens again.

Thank you.

(Watch tomorrow for a brand new and much anticipated wine column from Noble.)