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Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween from your favorite blog

Photo by Cece Raak


Photo by Leslie Bradley
It wouldn't be Halloween if we didn't share our costumes with our readers.  This year we brought ABBA out of retirement for a command Payson performance.  Joining The Consort and myself were friends Minnie and Randy Norman. And we have to tell you, someone actually threw a pair of panties during our performance.  I am not, however, looking forward to facing my students at GCC with red hair. 

'Unnecessary show of force by Denver police'

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at Occupy Wall Street demonstrators in Denver on Saturday.  Above: Victim of rubber bullets was in a tree when police opened fire.  Below: Policeman aims his gun at a photographer.

The weekly march at Occupy Denver deteriorated into a full-fledged standoff yesterday, resulting in several confrontations between police and protesters. The primary message of the Occupy Wall Street movement has become overshadowed in the past few weeks, as focus has shifted from demands for economic justice to 1st Amendment rights and outcries against police brutality.

The display of overt police violence at yesterday’s assembly of peaceful protesters was entirely abhorrent. The overwhelming police presence was centered on a handful of tents in a public park. The unnecessary show of force by the Denver Police Department was not only disproportionate and inflammatory, but a vastly excessive expenditure of public funds. We urge Denver’s new Chief of Police, Robert White, to live up to his reputation for being reasonable and holding police officers under his jurisdiction accountable.

We openly condemn the Denver Police Department for using pepper balls, shotgun-propelled beanbag rounds, pepper spray and tear gas on an entirely unarmed and nonviolent group. We have collected scores of unedited photos and videos depicting sheer brutality on the part of police on site: officers choking already restrained protesters, using a stun wand on a female arrestee who was already face down and pinned to the ground by an officer, verbally threatening protesters during the standoff, and recklessly and indiscriminately deploying chemical weapons on unarmed civilians, to name a few.

What's it like to live 'life among the 1%'

By Michael Moore
Open Mike Blog
readersupportednews.org

27 October 11 - Twenty-two years ago this coming Tuesday, I stood with a group of factory workers, students and the unemployed in the middle of the downtown of my birthplace, Flint, Michigan, to announce that the Hollywood studio, Warner Bros., had purchased the world rights to distribute my first movie, 'Roger & Me.' A reporter asked me, "How much did you sell it for?"

"Three million dollars!" I proudly exclaimed. A cheer went up from the union guys surrounding me. It was absolutely unheard of for one of us in the working class of Flint (or anywhere) to receive such a sum of money unless one of us had either robbed a bank or, by luck, won the Michigan lottery. On that sunny November day in 1989, it was like I had won the lottery - and the people I had lived and struggled with in Michigan were thrilled with my success. It was like, one of us had made it, one of us finally had good fortune smile upon us. The day was filled with high-fives and "Way-ta-go Mike!"s. When you are from the working class you root for each other, and when one of you does well, the others are beaming with pride - not just for that one person's success, but for the fact that the team had somehow won, beating the system that was brutal and unforgiving and which ran a game that was rigged against us. We knew the rules, and those rules said that we factory town rats do not get to make movies or be on TV talk shows or have our voice heard on any national stage. We were to shut up, keep our heads down, and get back to work. If by some miracle one of us escaped and commandeered a mass audience and some loot to boot - well, holy mother of God, watch out! A bully pulpit and enough cash to raise a ruckus - that was an incendiary combination, and it only spelled trouble for those at the top.

Until that point I had been barely getting by on unemployment, collecting $98 a week. Welfare. The dole. My car had died back in April so I had gone seven months with no vehicle. Friends would take me out to dinner, always coming up with an excuse to celebrate or commemorate something and then picking up the check so I would not have to feel the shame of not being able to afford it.

And now, all of a sudden, I had three million bucks! What would I do with it? There were men in suits making many suggestions to me, and I could see how those without a strong moral sense of social responsibility could be easily lead down the "ME" path and quickly forget about the "WE."

So I made some easy decisions back in 1989:

I would first pay all my taxes. I told the guy who did my 1040 not to declare any deductions other than the mortgage and to pay the full federal, state and city tax rate. I proudly contributed nearly 1 million dollars for the privilege of being a citizen of this great country.

Of the remaining $2 million, I decided to divide it up the way I once heard the folksinger/activist Harry Chapin tell me how he lived: "One for me, one for the other guy." So I took half the money - $1 million - and established a foundation to give it all away.

The remaining million went like this: I paid off all my debts, paid off the debts of some friends and family members, bought my parents a new refrigerator, set up college funds for our nieces and nephews, helped rebuild a black church that had been burned down in Flint, gave out a thousand turkeys at Thanksgiving, bought filmmaking equipment to send to the Vietnamese (my own personal reparations for a country we had ravaged), annually bought 10,000 toys to give to Toys for Tots at Christmas, got myself a new American-made Honda, and took out a mortgage on an apartment above a Baby Gap in New York City.

What remained went into a simple, low-interest savings account. I made the decision that I would never buy a share of stock (I didn't understand the casino known as the New York Stock Exchange and I did not believe in investing in a system I did not agree with).

Finally, I believed the concept of making money off your money had created a greedy, lazy class who didn't produce any product, just misery and fear among the populace. They invented ways to buy out companies and then shut them down. They dreamed up schemes to play with people's pension funds as if it were their own money. They demanded companies keep posting record profits (which was accomplished by firing thousands and eliminating health benefits for those who remained). I made the decision that if I was going to earn a living, it would be done from my own sweat and ideas and creativity. I would produce something tangible, something others could own or be entertained by or learn from. My work would create employment for others, good employment with middle class wages and full health benefits.

I went on to make more movies, produce TV series and write books. I never started a project with the thought, "I wonder how much money I can make at this?" And by never letting money be the motivating force for anything, I simply did exactly what I wanted to do. That attitude kept the work honest and unflinching - and that, in turn I believe, resulted in millions of people buying tickets to these films, tuning in to my TV shows, and buying my books.

Which is exactly what has driven the Right crazy when it comes to me. How did someone from the left get such a wide mainstream audience?! This just isn't supposed to happen (Noam Chomsky, sadly, will not be booked on The View today, and Howard Zinn, shockingly, didn't make the New York Times bestseller list until after he died). That's how the media machine is rigged - you are not supposed to hear from those who would completely change the system to something much better. Only wimpy liberals who urge caution and compromise and mild reforms get to have their say on the op-ed pages or Sunday morning chat shows.

Somehow, I found a crack through the wall and made it through. I feel very blessed that I have this life - and I take none of it for granted. I believe in the lessons I was taught back in Catholic school - that if you end up doing well, you have an even greater responsibility to those who don't fare the same. "The last shall be first and the first shall be last." Kinda commie, I know, but the idea was that the human family was supposed to divide up the earth's riches in a fair manner so that all of God's children would have a life with less suffering.

I do very well - and for a documentary filmmaker, I do extremely well. That, too, drives conservatives bonkers. "You're rich because of capitalism!" they scream at me. Um, no. Didn't you take Econ 101? Capitalism is a system, a pyramid scheme of sorts, that exploits the vast majority so that the few at the top can enrich themselves more. I make my money the old school, honest way by making things. Some years I earn a boatload of cash. Other years, like last year, I don't have a job (no movie, no book) and so I make a lot less. "How can you claim to be for the poor when you are the opposite of poor?!" It's like asking: "You've never had sex with another man - how can you be for gay marriage?!" I guess the same way that an all-male Congress voted to give women the vote, or scores of white people marched with Martin Luther Ling, Jr. (I can hear these righties yelling back through history: "Hey! You're not black! You're not being lynched! Why are you with the blacks?!"). It is precisely this disconnect that prevents Republicans from understanding why anyone would give of their time or money to help out those less fortunate. It is simply something their brain cannot process. "Kanye West makes millions! What's he doing at Occupy Wall Street?!" Exactly - he's down there demanding that his taxes be raised. That, to a right-winger, is the definition of insanity. To everyone else, we are grateful that people like him stand up, even if and especially because it is against his own personal financial interest. It is specifically what that Bible those conservatives wave around demands of those who are well off.

Back on that November day in 1989 when I sold my first film, a good friend of mine said this to me: "They have made a huge mistake giving someone like you a big check. This will make you a very dangerous man. And it proves that old saying right: 'The capitalist will sell you the rope to hang himself with if he thinks he can make a buck off it.'"

P.S. I will go to Oakland tomorrow afternoon to stand with Occupy Oakland against the out-of-control police. 

(Disclaimer: Michael Moore is from the editor's hometown of Flint, Mich.  He went to school with one of the editor's younger brothers.  If you've ever been to Flint, you know there's not a lot left to be proud of.  I am very proud of my ever-so-slight connection to Michael Moore.)

15th Annual Chil Supper makes move to MoJoe's

Photo by Jim Keyworth
The annual Chili Supper has always been and remains the little guy's fundraiser, a chance for people who don't live in gated communities and similar places to help the Rim Country's animals in need.

Please join PAWS in the Park at MOJOE’S GRILL, 307 S. Beeline Hwy., on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 4-7 p.m. for the “15th ANNUAL CHILI SUPPER”!

This year PAWS will be raising funds for future low cost/no cost spay and neuter clinics to benefit pets and their people in the Rim Country.

The chili will be furnished by MoJoe’s Grill, cheese from El Rancho Mexican Restaurant, salad from Tiny’s Family Restaurant, dressing from Fargo’s Steak House, macaroni & cheese from Cardo’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant, rolls by Gerardo’s Firewood Café and the Barkery Bakery volunteers will be making scrumptious homemade desserts.

KCMA 98.5 FM (your cool mountain radio) will entertain at this year’s event!

The Barkery Boutique will be on stage with PAWS products, the 50/50 raffle and this year’s U-Pic Raffle! PAWS is currently looking for raffle items to include in the U-Pic Raffle. If you would like to donate an item please contact us at the information below.

Join us for an event filled with fabulous food and fun for a great cause at a great price!

Ticket prices are $7 for adults and $4 for children under 12.

Advance tickets can be purchased at Payson Public Library at 328 N. McLane, Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce at 100 W. Main St. and the Humane Society of Central Arizona Thrift Store at 501B W. Main Street or at MoJoe’s Grill the day of the event.

For more information, contact us at pawsnpayson@gmail.com or call Julie Coleman at (928)951-4884.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Is Star Valley putting profits ahead of safety?

One pitfall of outsourcing traffic cameras

An Arizona Department of Public Safety vehicle equipped with photo radar is displayed for the media in 2007. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Stephanie Sanchez)

By JOANNE INGRAM
Cronkite News Service

PHOENIX – Arizona communities should put public safety ahead of profits when deciding whether to install traffic cameras through private companies, a public interest group contends in a report released Thursday.

By leaving public safety in the hands of for–profit companies, municipalities forfeit control over which cameras are necessary for safety and which are being used for profit, according to the report released by the Arizona Public Interest Research Group Education Fund.

“It is a real problem,” said Serena Unrein, a spokeswoman for Arizona PIRG. “Too often cities have wrongly signed away their power to ensure the safety of citizens on the road, and the traffic ticketing ends up being governed by contracts that focus on profits rather than safety.”

Traffic cameras, often placed at intersections and school zones to catch speeders or red–light runners, have been installed in 21 jurisdictions across Arizona, according to the report.

Two companies provide more than 80 percent of cameras in the U.S., the report said: American Traffic Solutions, located in Scottsdale, and Redflex Traffic Systems, a division of the Australian Redflex Holdings Limited.

In 2008, then–Gov. Janet Napolitano brought speed cameras to Arizona highways, saying they would generate as much as $90 million for the state in the first year. But two years later, Arizona had only seen $78 million, and the Department of Public Safety let its contract with Redflex expire due in part to the debate over whether the state had installed the cameras primarily to make money.

Tom Herrmann, a spokesman for Redflex, said the group doesn’t promote the idea that profits are more important than saving lives.

“Clearly, cameras change behavior,” Herrmann said in a phone interview. “Clearly, that reduces accidents.”

While the cameras often reduce the number of accidents caused by speeders and red–light runners, they aren’t meant to replace law enforcement officers, said Tom Belshe, deputy director of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.

“They supplement the good work that our police officers do,” Belshe said in a phone interview. “They’re an important part of the overall public safety program of the city.”

In one Arizona city, though, good intentions were met with disappointing results. Earlier this month, Peoria let its contract with Redflex expire, noting that the number of traffic accidents in monitored intersections had increased by 29 percent between 2008 and 2010.

Jay Davies, a spokesman for the Peoria Police Department, said traffic cameras were placed in four high–accident intersections, but data showed that while the pilot program helped reduce red–light running it didn’t produce the intended outcome overall.

“We’re just in the aftermath of a bit of a failed experiment,” Davies said in a phone interview.

While Unrein said Arizona PIRG doesn’t take an official position on use of traffic camera programs, the report recommended that communities consider other options that may still leave public safety in the hands of cities, such as increasing the duration of yellow lights. She said towns must also proceed with caution when considering private traffic enforcement programs.

“Cities have to make sure that they identify potential pitfalls before they enter into any contracts with camera vendors,” Unrein said.

Some jurisdictions that have or 
have had traffic enforcement deals:

• Avondale
• Chandler
• El Mirage
• Eloy
• Globe
• Mesa
• Paradise Valley
• Peoria
• Phoenix
• Prescott Valley
• Scottsdale
• Show Low
• Sierra Vista
• STAR VALLEY
• Superior
• Surprise
• Tempe
• Tucson
• Pima County

Friday, October 28, 2011

Taste Pleasant Valley wines at hospital fundraiser

Pleasant Valley Winery is honored to participate in Cobre Valley Hospital's annual Wine and Art Auction on Thursday, November 3rd at 6:00 p.m. at the Gila County Fairgounds Exhibit Hall.

As a tribute to this important fund raising event for Gila County's premier medical facility, Pleasant Valley Winery has donated for auction a 1981 bottle of Mondavi/Rothschild Opus One. The Opus One Winery was founded as a joint venture between Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi to create a single Bordeaux style blend based upon Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The creation of this winery venture in 1980 was the biggest news of the wine industry; de Rothschild's involvement gave credibility to the then burgeoning Napa wine region. This is the most famous American wine ever produced. A single case of this initial vintage of Opus One sold at the 1981 inagural auction for a breathtaking $24,000. Current prices for later vintages of Opus One are $350-$750 per bottle. Current pricing for 1981 Opus One is unavailable due to its extreme rarity.

Pleasant Valley Wines will be available at the event for tasting, by the glass, and by the bottle. Pleasant Valley Wines are available in Young and at the Beverage Place in Globe and Payson. We hope to see you there in support of this fundraising event for Cobre Valley Hospital.

Right wing group compiling "Naughty and Nice" list

May we be the first to wish you
HAPPY HOLIDAYS
Ready for a little pre-holiday (or must I say pre-Christmas) mirth?  Read on.

"As part of the annual 'Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign,' Liberty Counsel publishes a 'Naughty and Nice' list, which catalogs retailers who either censor ('naughty') or recognize ('nice') Christmas. The list is compiled from information gathered by individual consumers and is updated whenever new information is received. Liberty Counsel wants to give the gift of Christmas back to those who support it."

You know how you get on the naughty list?  By doing stuff like saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.

You know where I'm shopping?  At the stores on the naughty list.  In support of religious tolerance and freedom of expression.  Whatever happened to our free country?

Precinct boundary, polling place changes

PUBLIC NOTICE
GILA COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF ELECTIONS
PRECINCT BOUNDARY AND POLLING PLACE CHANGES

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Gila County Board Of Supervisors will consider proposed Precinct Boundary and Polling Place changes at the Board of Supervisors meeting to be held at 10:00 am Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at the Gila County Courthouse, 1400 E Ash Street, Globe, AZ.

The proposed changes will affect the Pine-Strawberry, Carrizo, Sierra Ancha, Globe #1, Globe #2, Globe #3, Globe #4, Globe #5, Globe #6East Globe, Miami #1, Miami #3, Claypool #2, Claypool #3, Hayden, Winkelman, Christmas, and San Carlos precincts.

Proposed precinct boundary and polling place change materials are available for public review at the Gila County Department of Elections, 5515 S Apache Ave, Globe, AZ 85501. Spanish and Apache translators are available to interpret the materials.

Questions or comments may be directed to the Gila County Department of Elections, 928.402.8709.

Dated at Globe, Gila County, AZ this 24th day of October, 2011

AVISO PÚBLICO
DEPARTAMENTO DE ELECCIONES DEL CONDADO DE GILA
CAMBIOS DE LÍMITES DE DISTRITOS ELECTORALES Y LUGARES DE VOTACIÓN

POR ESTE MEDIO SE NOTIFICA que la Junta de Supervisores del Condado de Gila examinará cambios propuestos en los límites de distritos electorales y lugares de votación durante la reunión programada para el día martes 1 de Noviembre de 2011, a las 10:00 am, en el Tribunal del Contado de Gila, 1400 E Ash Street, Globe, AZ.

Los cambios propuestos afectarán a los distritos de Pine-Strawberry, Carrizo, Sierra Ancha, Globe #1, Globe #2, Globe #3, Globe #4, Globe #5, Globe #6 East Globe, Miami #1, Miami #3, Claypool #2, Claypool #3, Hayden, Winkelman, Christmas, y San Carlos.

El Departamento de Elecciones del Condado de Gila tendrá disponible al público material informativo sobre los cambios propuestos de límites de distritos electorales y cambio de lugares de votación en sus oficinas ubicadas en el 5515 S Apache Avenue, Globe, AZ 85501. Traductores de idiomas español y apache estarán disponibles para interpretar el contenido del informe.

Puede dirigir sus preguntas o comentarios al Departamento de Elecciones del Condado de Gila 928.402.8709.

Publicado desde Globe, Condado de Gila, Arizona, el 24 de octubre de 2011.

Burgeoning revolution is peaceful -- for now

The “Occupy” movement, as it is being called, is neither a cause nor an illness, but a symptom. It appears, however, to be indicative of a virus which has, for many years, seemed dormant.

Protests have always been common threads in the fabric of America. The country began with one, and they have continued is greater or lesser degrees throughout history. Our constitution allows for peaceful protests, because wise men understood that people must be allowed some way to vent frustration, seek lawful change and address wrongs. Ask the Tea Party if they agree.

There is a great and growing move to characterize the present protests as “radicals,” “socialists,” “unmannered, destructive, thrill seekers,” and worse. Soundbites and snapshots of rambling or angry protesters are frequently shown as proof of the wanton nature of these gatherings. and, truth be told, there are, as always, fleas on this dog, too. One should not make the mistake, though, of mistaking the fleas for the dog. Attempting to simplify or stifle what is obviously a growing fever among common folks only addresses the fever for a short term. The virus is unmoved, and the fever gets worse.

Mostly, these folks are seeking something – anything offering relief from an increasing sense of hopelessness. The economy is in the worst condition since the Great Depression and congress is unwilling to find even one small thing they can agree upon. Bankers, oil company executives, pharmaceutical execs and many other “fat cats” are seemingly protected by a right wing-oriented contingent who make an empty claim that these folks must be protected at all costs lest the economy “gets bad.” Nothing personal to any executive, but how did the economy slip from their grasp in the last four years?

Ronald Reagan’s idea was to help the rich so their money would “trickle down” to the poor. That only works in theory, and when the rich stop spending on things which could help the U.S. economy, it doesn’t work at all.

The claim is made that some twenty percent of wealthy Americans are actually small family businesses who would be “hurt” by paying a bit more in taxes. These small businesses haven’t added a significant number of jobs in the last four years, anyway, and most of them claim to be hurt by a bad economy, so they can’t (and won’t) expand. Money has been “trickling down” for a long time now. Where’s the beef?

Anyway, even though the devil is mostly in the details, “Occupy’ers” only see that nothing is happening that offers a slim ray of hope in their dark world. They aren’t necessarily singling anyone or any one thing for being the culprit, although there are some targets more identifiable than others. They are mostly just mad as hell and not willing to take it quietly anymore.

Perhaps these protest gatherings will run out of energy. Maybe they are like dust devils which whirl around for a while, stirring up debris. They have no real footholds to use to climb their mountain and no ropes for belay – at least for the present.

Things have not gotten nearly as bad (yet) as the shanty towns built in Washingto n D.C and elsewhere by men demanding jobs back in the Great Depression. Not one building has been damaged – no cars overturned or burned -- no one killed. The crowds are occupying, not rioting. They are hopeful of getting the attention of some entity which can address their plight with something more than empty words. They represent a large majority of Americans who only quietly protest to each other, attempting to find solace in neighbors and friends.

It’s bad enough to be out of work, out of money, out of a place to live, etc. It becomes intolerable when one is out of hope.

Where is a leader or leaders who will at least make a legitimate effort to recognize what is building in American society and work to find something real for people to grasp? This movement is not limited to the few who gather to protest publicly. A revolution of sorts is beginning – peaceful for now and counting on a country which has always found a way to address its problems. All they are seeing is the traditional place from which help has come now shutting out time honored assistance, with claims of any assistance doing damage to a perilously damaged economy.

This actually, apparently, makes sense to some. It won’t matter though if enough people shout loudly enough to see some improvement in their lives.

This is, in no way, attempting to justify largesse or profligate spending. Let’s be clear. The government is limited in what it can and should do.There are consequences, however to either doing nothing or too much. I don’t hear the protests asking for “too much.” Only some hope.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

2012 Medicare premiums lower than expected

Affordable Care Act helps keep increase down

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that Medicare Part B premiums in 2012 will be lower than previously projected and the Part B deductible will decrease by $22. While the Medicare Trustees predicted monthly premiums would be $106.60, premiums will instead be $99.90. Earlier this year, HHS announced that average Medicare Advantage premiums would decrease by four percent and premiums paid for Medicare’s prescription drug plans would remain virtually unchanged.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, people with Medicare also receive free preventive services and a 50 percent discount on covered prescription drugs when they enter the prescription drug “donut hole.” This year, 1.8 million people with Medicare have received cheaper prescription drugs, while nearly 20.5 million Medicare beneficiaries have received a free Annual Wellness Visit or other free preventive services like cancer screenings.

“The Affordable Care Act is helping to keep Medicare strong and affordable,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “People with Medicare are seeing higher quality benefits, better health care choices, and lower costs. Health reform is also strengthening the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund and cracking down on Medicare fraud.”

Medicare Part B covers physicians’ services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, durable medical equipment, and other items. In 2012, the “standard” Medicare Part B premium will be $99.90. This is a $15.50 decrease over the standard 2011 premium of $115.40 paid by new enrollees and higher income Medicare beneficiaries and by Medicaid on behalf of low-income enrollees.

The majority of people with Medicare have paid $96.40 per month for Part B since 2008, due to a law that freezes Part B premiums in years where beneficiaries do not receive cost-of-living (COLA) increases in their Social Security checks. In 2012, these people with Medicare will pay the standard Part B premium of $99.90, amounting to a monthly change of $3.50 for most people with Medicare. This increase will be offset for almost all seniors and people with disabilities by the additional income they will receive thanks to the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). For example, the average COLA for retired workers will be about $43 a month, which is substantially greater than the $3.50 premium increase for affected beneficiaries. Additionally, the Medicare Part B deductible will be $140, a decrease of $22 from 2011.

“Thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act, people with Medicare are going to have more money in their pockets next year,” said Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Donald Berwick, M.D. “With new tools provided by the Affordable Care Act, we are improving how we pay providers, helping patients get the care they need, and spending our health care dollars more wisely.”

Today, CMS also announced modest increases in Medicare Part A monthly premiums as well as the deductible under Part A. Monthly premiums for Medicare Part A, which pays for inpatient hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and some home health care, are paid by just the 1 percent of beneficiaries who do not otherwise qualify for Medicare. Medicare Part A monthly premiums will be $451 for 2012, an increase of $1 from 2011. The Part A deductible paid by beneficiaries when admitted as a hospital inpatient will be $1,156 in 2011, an increase of $24 from this year's $1,132 deductible. These changes are well below increases in previous years and general inflation.

For more information on how seniors are getting more value out of Medicare, please visit: http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2011/10/medicare10272011a.html

For more information about the Medicare premiums and deductibles for 2012, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/apps/media/fact_sheets.asp

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Super Committee primed to cut Social Security?

(Washington, DC) – As lobbyists in Washington converge on the Super Committee, local advocates in states represented by the 12-member “Super Committee” today released new reports detailing the projected fall-out resulting from the committee’s proposed cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. 

Information on the new reports was discussed at press conferences throughout the nation and in Washington where the Super Committee met publicly for the first time in a month. In the eleven Super Committee states represented, 20.3 million Americans receive Social Security, 18.5 million Americans receive Medicare, and 21.4 million Americans receive Medicaid.  The total spent in those states by recipients of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid in Super Committee States is $620.9 billion.

“You can see she would have no housing, day activities, medical, dental or prescription coverage without Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security,” said Tom Taranto and Diane McCormack of Dorchester, MA, with regard to their daughter Christina who was born with severe disabilities.

“Too often political and media elites talk about these programs as just cold, unfeeling facts and figures, as if they are divorced from the people whose lives they touch,” said Eric Kingson, co-director of Social Security Works. “Too often, the programs are talked about as ‘problems’ when in fact they really are ‘solutions’ – solutions that provide benefits that have been earned through the hard work of Americans.”

The so-called Congressional “Super Committee” is just 30 days from its deadline. As lobbyists attempt to save tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, the new reports reveal a possible economic crisis for many Americans should the committee vote to cut benefits. The full reports are available at http://www.strengthensocialsecurity.org/super-committee/.

"The American people oppose any cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. Our elected officials need to know that if they ignore this message, they do so at their own peril," said Ed Coyle the Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. "This fall, as the Super Committee completes it work, the Alliance for Retired Americans will continue to educate and mobilize seniors and people of all ages on the need to strengthen – not cut – Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid."

Opinion poll after opinion poll show that the vast majority of Americans want no cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

Library Friends Bookstore in holiday mode

During November the Library Friends of Payson Bookstore will feature an extensive collection of Christmas fiction, music, cook books, craft books, etc.  This is a wonderful opportunity to get a head start on selecting unique and inexpensive gifts for friends, neighbors, care givers, co-workers, secret pals, or anyone else on your Christmas list.  
Bookstore gift certificates are only $3 and make the perfect gifts for those hard to shop for people on your list.  They are great stocking stuffers, as well.  Stop by soon and discover the Bookstore’s delightful holiday treasures.


The Bookstore will be offering all hardback books at the amazing value of two for the price of one throughout November.  As always, the second book must be of equal or lesser value than the first.  Many of these volumes are current bestsellers in like new condition.  Since Bookstore hardback books range in price from $3 to $1, this is an extraordinary opportunity to stock up on inexpensive Christmas gifts. 


Bookstore stock is constantly changing.  Therefore, the wise patron stops by often.  Bookstore volunteers are always happy to see you.  All Bookstore proceeds directly support the library.  The LFOP Bookstore is located to the right of the circulation desk just inside the Payson Public Library, 328 N. McLane Road.  For more information visit the Library Friends of Payson website at www.libraryfriendsofpayson.org  

First Amendment and the obligation to disrupt

By Naomi Wolf
Reader Supported News
readersupportednews.org 

22 October 11 - Mayor Bloomberg is planning Draconian new measures to crack down on what he calls the "disruption" caused by the protesters at Zuccotti Park, and he is citing neighbors' complaints about noise and mess. This set of talking points, and this strategy, is being geared up as well by administrations of municipalities around the nation in response to the endurance and growing influence of the Occupation protest sites. But the idea that any administration has the unmediated option of "striking a balance," in Bloomberg's words, that it likes, and closing down peaceful and lawful disruption of business as usual as it sees fit is a grave misunderstanding - or, more likely, deliberate misrepresentation - of our legal social contract as American citizens.

Some kinds of disruption in a free republic are not "optional extras" if the First Amendment governs the land, as it does ours, and are certainly not subject to the whims of mayors or local police, or even DHS. Just as protesters don't have a blanket right to do everything they want, there is absolutely no blanket right of mayors or even of other citizens to be free from the effect of certain kinds of disruption resulting from their fellow citizens exercising First Amendment rights. That notion, presented right now by Bloomberg and other vested interests, of a "disruption-free" social contract is pure invention - just like the flat-out fabrication of the nonexistent permit cited in my own detention outside the Huffington Post Game Changers event this last Tuesday, when police told me, without the event organizers' knowledge and contrary to their intentions, that a private entity had "control of the sidewalks" for several hours. (In fact, the permit in question - a red carpet event permit! - actually guarantees citizens' rights to walk and even engage in political assembly on the streets if they do not block pedestrian traffic, as the OWS protesters were not.)

I want to address the issue of "disruption," as Bloomberg is sending this issue out as a talking point brought up on Keith Olbermann's Coundown last night: the neighbors around Zuccotti Square, says Bloomberg, are feeling "disrupted" by the noise and visitors to the OWS protest, so he is going to crack down to "strike a balance" to address their complaints. Other OWS organizers have let me know that the Parks Department and various municipalities are trying to find a way to eject other protesters from public space on a similar basis of argument.

Please, citizens of America - please, OWS - do not buy into this rhetorical framework: an absolute "right to be free of disruption" from First Amendment activity does not exist in a free republic. But the right to engage in peaceable disruption does exist.

Citizens who live or work near protest sites or marches have every right to be free of violence from protesters and they should never be subjected to destruction of property. This is why I am always saying to OWS and to anyone who wants to assemble: be PEACEFUL PEACEFUL PEACEFUL. Be respectful to police, do not yell at them; sing, don't chant; be civil to pedestrians and shop owners; don't escalate tensions; try to sit when there is tension rather than confront physically; be dignified and be nonviolent.

But the First Amendment means that it actually is not up to the mayor or the police of any municipality, or to the Parks Department, or to any local municipality to prohibit public assembly if the assembly is peaceful but disruptive in many ways.

Peaceful, lawful protest - if it is effective - IS innately disruptive of "business as usual." That is WHY it is effective.

The Soviet Union was brought down by peaceful mass protest that blocked the streets and filled public squares. Many white residents of Birmingham Alabama in the 1960s would have said it was very disruptive to have all these African Americans marching through Birmingham or protesting the murder of children in churches. The addresses by Dr. King on the Mall were disruptive of the daily life of D.C. King himself marched without permits when permits were unlawfully applied. It is disruptive to sit at a whites-only counter and refuse to move and be covered with soda and pelted with debris and dragged off by police. It disrupted the Birmingham bus system for African Americans in the Civil Rights movement to organize a bus boycott. It is disruptive when people refuse to sit at the back of the bus.

When Bonus Marches - thousands of unemployed and desperate former veterans who had been promised and denied their bonus checks in the Depression, which they needed to feed their families - camped out for months on the Mall in D.C. and sat daily (when this was possible) on the steps of Congress, they won, eventually, because of the disruption. Some of the power of real protest, which is peaceful and patient and civil but disruptive, comes from the emotional power of the human face-to-face: all those Congresspeople had to look those hungry men in the eyes on their way to legislate the decision about the bonus.

Most of us need to remember, or learn for the first time (since this information is usually concealed from us) that the First Amendment, and the Constitution in general, supersedes all the laws of municipalities in violation of the constitution, as stated in the 1925 Gitlow v. New York ruling. So the First Amendment supersedes the restrictive permit laws now being invoked against protesters. The First Amendment was designed to allow for disruption of business as usual. It is not a quiet and subdued amendment or right.

Indeed, our nation's founding was a series of rowdy and intense protests, disrupting business as usual for tax collectors and mercenaries up and down the eastern seaboard. Even after the establishment of the new nation massive, highly disruptive protests of various laws, Congressional actions, and even of foreign policy were absolutely standard expressions of political speech, and whether they liked the opinions expressed or not, these protests were spoken of by Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Washington and others - some of whom themselves were the subjects of these protests - as part of the system they had set in place working, and the obligation of American citizens.

Dr. King, when asked about disruption, said that the disruption caused by peaceful protest is good and healthy in a society, because it is the result of festering problems that need to be addressed and that are buried being brought into light to be dealt with constructively.

But I would want to remind OWS, and any protesting group, that peaceful and dignified disruption of business as usual is very different from violence, anarchy or rioting, which must always be avoided. This is why I keep telling OWS and others: be peaceful. Don't march in a militaristic way. Don't cover your faces or let anyone with you cover their faces. Bring old people. Bring kids. Bring instruments, form bands of musicians and singers. Don't fight. Don't destroy property.

If neighbors complain about mess, bring brooms (as the Egyptians did) and clean up, not just the park but the whole neighborhood. Bake cookies FOR the neighbors. Be the good examples of civil society that you want to spread. Bring whole families (good job with that family sleepover in Zuccotti Park last night). I would go further: emulate the Civil Rights movement and wear your Sunday best at key times when you protest. Wear suits and dresses when it is practical, or wear red, white and blue when conditions are rougher. Bring American flags. Bring the Constitution. Don't give the narrators any excuse to marginalize you because of the visuals or because of any individuals' erratic or anarchic behavior.

My grandma, Fay Goleman, died last year at 96, at just around this time of year. She loved this county - LOVED this country - and I felt her memory very strongly when I could not physically move out of the arresting officer's way last Tuesday. She was born to refugees from the Czar's Russia, and she knew what police and military intimidation of free speech and free assembly meant. Dr. Goleman, who was barely five feet tall but who had an enormous spirit, marched decade after decade for seventy years: she marched for peace; against the nuclear bomb; for civil rights and so on. She spoke up at town councils and served on local government commissions and believed that people had the responsibility to govern their own communities and to take action and not just complain. She always wore hats and white gloves when she marched, and she held herself in that context with great lady-likeness and civility.

This formality was partly to honor the great gift and great occasion that is the American gift of free assembly. And she always said: "Activism is the rent we must pay for the privilege of living in a democracy. Protest is how you pay your civic rent." (Tiny as she was, she also had no patience for people who were willing to be deterred from the path they knew was right by bullies.)

She taught me that activism and petitioning government for redress of grievances is not a choice if you live in America. If you are American, it is an obligation. The Founders did not give this task to us as an option, but rather demanded it as an obligation: we are compelled by their social contract in the Constitution to protest and engage in free assembly when government has stopped listening to us. That is why the First Amendment comes first: everything else flows from it and is built upon it.

You can borrow my Grandma Fay's example and memory, if it is helpful: I am sure she would not mind and, indeed, would probably get a kick out of it. But you can also borrow Gandhi's or Dr. King's, for that matter, who made enormous disruptions - the biggest of disruptions - of daily life in Birmingham and DC. and Delhi and in the brokerage houses of the London financial markets - with the great discipline of peacefulness and nonviolence.

Bloomberg is flat wrong, and he doubtless knows it but hopes you won't notice: New Yorkers have no right to be free of any disruption from the peaceful but disruptive free-speech actions of their fellow citizens, and how New Yorkers lawfully and peacefully assert their First Amendment rights is actually not up to him. There is a higher authority than Michael Bloomberg, or than the NYPD, or even than the guy in the white shirt who signaled to his colleagues to handcuff me earlier this week when I stood peacefully on a sidewalk, obeying what I had confirmed to be the law: and that higher authority is called the Constitution of the United States of America.

Reader Supported News Special Coverage
The aim of #OCCUPYWALLSTREET is to draw protesters to New York's financial district and around the world in a non-violent protest to spark a mass movement against corporate dominance. While the corporate media ignores the protest, the Rim Country Gazette Blog will post the best of Reader Supported News continuing coverage of the latest developments.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Arizona's minimum wage rises 30 cents in 2012

By ELVINA NAWAGUNA-CLEMENTE
Cronkite News Service

PHOENIX – A bartender at Plazma, a central Phoenix pub, Kevin Griffin makes Arizona’s minimum wage for tipped employees: $4.35 an hour. Beyond that, he’s at the mercy of customers.

But not all customers tip, he said.

“Not great,” he said. “I feel like I’m working for less than minimum wage helping people get what they want and they don’t appreciate.”

So he welcomed word that he’ll receive a 30-cent-per-hour bump in his pay come Jan. 1. That’s thanks to Arizonans voting in 2006 to establish a minimum wage that rises with the cost of living each year.

The Industrial Commission of Arizona announced earlier this month that the minimum wage will increase from $7.35 to $7.65 an hour. Tipped employees, who make $3 below the standard minimum wage, will also receive the raise.

For a full-time minimum wage worker, that’s $624 more next year.

“That’s one month of rent for me,” Griffin said.

Arizona’s minimum wage will be above the current federal rate of $7.25.

Sherry Gillespie, government relations manager of the Arizona Restaurant Association, said the mandatory increase affects hiring decisions and makes it harder for employers to give raises to deserving employees.

“Thirty cents an hour doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you’re talking about $30 cents an hour and it goes across the board and it’s every hour for every single employee that gets paid minimum wage, it adds up very quickly,” she said. “Many restaurants have lost millions because of that increase.”

But Rebekah Friend, executive director of Arizona State AFL-CIO, said research has shown that increases in the minimum wage even during recessions didn’t result in job losses.

The increase, she said, keeps working families out of poverty.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the year-to-year cost of living for all urban areas went up 3.8 percent from August 2010.

“As taxpayers you don’t want a system where someone is doing what they’re supposed to be doing, which is working to take care of their family, and yet they’re still having to supplement their income with taxpayer-funded services,” Friend said.

Tom Rex, associate director of the Center for Competitiveness and Prosperity Research at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business, said the minimum wage protects employees’ standard of living.

“The reality is that if you don’t have minimum wage laws, wages will tend to hit the low end of the scale,” he said. “If we’re going to have a law, it should index inflation.”

He said employers overstate the minimum wage’s impact yet can easily pass on the difference to their customers.

“It’s just a few percentage points a year,” Rex said. “It just isn’t a big deal.”

But Byron Schlomach, chief economist at the Goldwater Institute, an independent watchdog group that promotes limited government and free enterprise, said the minimum wage makes employers reluctant to hire new workers and only makes it harder for Arizona’s economy to recover.

“This is a choice between earning $6 an hour and earning nothing,” Schlomach said.

For Griffin, the bartender, the increase is a way to keep up with the cost of living.

“It’s one month less I have to worry about getting my power shut off,” he said. “I’m always down for more money.”

Minimum wage:
• Proposition 202 passed in 2006 allowing Arizona to have a minimum wage that rises with the cost of living.
• The minimum wage remained unchanged in 2010 because of deflation.
• The current state minimum wage is $7.35 per hour and $4.35 per hour for tipped employees.
• The minimum wage will increase by 30 cents on Jan. 1, 2012.
• The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.
Photo by Bill Huddleston

the Payson Jazz Trio

performs

Ayothaya Thai Cafe 

404 E Highway 260, Payson
(north side across from Safeway)

Thursday, 5 - 7 p.m. Oct. 27th
Friday, 5 - 7 p.m., Oct 28th
Saturday, 5 - 7 p.m. Oct. 29th

Come support this wonderful new restaurant
and help keep jazz music alive in Payson.

There is room to dance!

Bob Smolenski - piano
Mike Buskirk - bass
Gerry Reynolds - drums

Cafe reservations and information:
928-474-1112

Monday, October 24, 2011

Volunteers needed for Nov. 8 PAWS Chili Supper

Photo by Jim Keyworth
After years at the Elks Lodge and sponsorhsip by the local humane society, the ever-popular Chili Supper is under new leadership (PAWS) at a new location (MoJoe's).  But the proceeds still benefit Rim Country animals and the dessert menu is being expanded.

PAWS (Paws in the Park) is sponsoring The 15th Annual Chili Supper at MoJoe's Grill and Micro-Pub on Nov. 8 from 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. Adults $7. Children $4. Proceeds from ticket sales will help fund future Low Cost/No Cost Spay/Neuter Clinics.

The Barkery Bakery is expanding the dessert selection this year to include cupcakes, bars, and cookies. There are wonderful bakers out there. Here's a chance to show your stuff and help the animals!

Volunteers are needed to accept dessert donations 10 a.m. - 12 noon, 12 noon - 2 p.m., and 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. Could you cover a shift for us?

Also, volunteers are needed to work 3:45 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. - 7:15 p.m. during the supper and clean-up 7 p.m. - until finished. There are many varied activities that need to be done! Choose what you like. It is a team effort! We need you!

Please contact Diane Frederick Bedsworth if you are able to work at the Chili Supper and/or would like to donate a dessert.

Home 474-3841
Cell 970-2436
email: dfredbed@aol.com

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Individuals have rights apart from citizenship

GEORGE TEMPLETON COMMENTARY

By George Templeton
Gazette Contributor

MIND
“Mind is the master-power that molds and makes, and Man is mind, and evermore he takes the tool of thought, and shaping what he wills, brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills. He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass: Environment is but his looking-glass.”

The real issue is not whether immigration is beneficial or harmful, but whether you want immigration at all.

We can’t read the minds of our representatives but we can make inferences from their overt behaviors and verbal slips. When a Republican described landscapers as police killers on television, it revealed hostility to Latinos. They probably were drug pushers using landscaping as a front. The scribbling on the bathroom wall of a major hardware store that prides itself on helping Spanish speaking customers said “Gut shoot them at the border”. This followed a Republican campaign speech claiming that Mexico is trying to take over Arizona and that the Tucson ethnic studies courses, like Elvis Presley, were part of a elitist Marxist conspiracy attempting to deprive the virtuous and homogeneous people of Arizona of their rights, values, prosperity, and voice.

Politicians benefit by demonizing immigrants as employees of drug lords though they are mostly honest, squeaky clean individuals who come to work, not to live on the dole. They are a society within a society, diseased, prone to criminal behavior, and lazy welfare cheats. They are an insurgency intending to destroy white Anglo-Saxon protestant culture, destructive to schools, and too different to ever become real Americans. Proud citizens must drive them away to preserve “America as we know it.”

It’s not possible to identify illegal aliens by skin color or English fluency. This fact is at the core of mean-spirited propositions that would deny public services to those who are undocumented regardless of consequences and make their presence a felony crime subject to imprisonment and deportation.

Envy goes too far when it denies the value of a human being’s life, when it converts doctors and teachers into policemen, and when it deports innocent children who speak only English and have known no country other than America. Laws written to punish day laborers waiting by the road for work, with the excuse that it might slow traffic, while ignoring gun smuggling, reveal thoughts of resentment. The Nazis used the populist anger of the distressed German people to scapegoat the Jews and rise to power. It backfired on Hitler causing his scientists to flee, America to develop the atomic bomb, and Germany’s defeat. Institutionalized pride and prejudice is the result of rewarding politicians who promote shameful thinking because it is a winner at the voting polls.

ASSIMILATION
The bumper sticker reads “Welcome to America, now speak English.” Don’t make me change because you don’t want to. There are no immigrants that don’t recognize the value of English fluency. This is obvious to anyone who has ever visited foreign countries and felt shut-out because of their inability to communicate. A talk show host complains about the “Mexican on the saw blades” and “press 1 for English”. The business community recognizes the value of marketing to foreigners and publishes information in many languages. They don’t find this to be threatening or inconvenient. It is wrong to reject immigrants because they do not assimilate and then make it difficult for them to assimilate.

Ronald Reagan claimed they “brought their own music, literature, customs, and ideas. They did not have to relinquish these things in order to fit in. In fact, what they brought to America became American. And this diversity has more than enriched us; it has literally shaped us.”

AMNESTY
If you have ever driven 60 mph in a 55 zone you know what amnesty is. Speed cameras don’t have a police officer to exercise discretion and pardon you. All reasonable people oppose unlawful behavior, but does the law make sense?

The ideological right does not like immigrants. The business community regards them as manna from Heaven. We can’t afford to detect, arrest, and deport 11 million aliens at an average cost of $20,000 each. Sixty one percent have been here for more than 10 years, 45 percent have families, and 5 million children have undocumented parents. An unlawful hidden underclass cannot be protected by the law. An incentive will be necessary to get them to come out and risk homes, businesses, and family.

Constitutional fundamentalists say the Federal government has no powers that are not explicitly granted but then they want to undo the explicit provision of citizenship for children born here.

It is not written that God became a rigid universally valid law but that God became man. It is not about an envious obsession with fairness. Individuals have rights apart from their citizenship.

OPEN BORDERS
References to the mythical “Open Borders Crew” stir up fears of a Mexican take over. You can’t have a country without borders but there is a need for temporary workers who come and go. The question is whether we want to import more produce from foreign countries or if we want seasonal immigrant workers to harvest our crops.

FENCES
All you need to reduce illegal immigration is a pencil, but that does not gain votes like the image of an invasion and 2000 mile fences along the Mexico border. Nearly one half of the illegal aliens in America arrived legally with temporary non-immigrant papers. They overstayed their visa and found jobs, and are part of our economy. They own businesses, homes, and pay taxes yet politicians ignore their contribution and look only at costs.

JOBS
Globalization created opportunities for importing the best, boldest, and brightest foreign employees to America. They were paid the same as citizens. We didn’t hire them because they were cheaper. We hired them because they were well known, had specific experience, and because no American could quickly fill the slot.

Do we want America to seem unfriendly to immigrants? We don’t want foreign graduate students to return to their mother country and compete against us. We have a skill shortage, not a job shortage.

BRACEROS
I worked with the Braceros in the late 50s and early 60’s and found them to be hard working, enthusiastic, highly motivated, and well treated. The alarm clock went off at 3:30 am, 7 days a week. I returned around 10 pm. The work was hot, dirty, and physical, un-benefited, without overtime, and below minimum wage. A heavy duty pair of work gloves would wear out on the first day and at first hands and fingers would be too sore to wrap around the steering wheel. The low pay and hard work did not motivate locals.

When you are starving in Mexico and can no longer make a living on your small farm, an opportunity to legally come to America and work for a season and send money home looks good. This mutually beneficial arrangement is being choked to death by over-regulation. Now is our chance to free business from the constraints of regulation and to drastically reduce undocumented migration.

HISTORY
The 1942 to 1964 Bracero program brought 4.2 million temporary seasonal Mexican workers to America. Though the legal Bracero program stopped, immigration did not, adding another 5 million Mexicans over the next 20 years.

RINOS (Republicans in Name Only) have historically supported amnesty. In 1986 a bipartisan effort on immigration reform, the IRCA (Immigration Reform and Control Act), was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. The law tightened up on the employment of illegal aliens. It also granted amnesty to those who entered the United States before January 1, 1982 and who resided in the USA continuously since then, as well as seasonal agricultural illegal immigrants. All told, about 3 million unauthorized immigrants received amnesty under the act.

The failed 2007 McCain-Kennedy Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act was bipartisan. It proposed a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants residing in the United States as well as increasing border enforcement. A faster citizenship process, fines, and payment of back taxes were features. It did not reward those who broke the law or punish those who waited patiently in line in their home country. It planned a rating system based on a combination of education, job skill, family connections, English proficiency, and employer sponsorship. President Bush strongly supported the bill and said that he was disappointed at Congress’s failure to act.

NOW
America was once known for its benevolence. We helped to rebuild Germany, and Japan after WWII even though as a nation we were much poorer then and even though they had been our enemies. “The mind is the master-weaver, both of the inner garment of character and the outer garment of circumstances.” This is the message for Congress. We need policies that define rational, stable, orderly, legal, safe, humane migration.

Police arrest 130 demonstrators at Occupy Chicago


Police Arrest 130 at Occupy Chicago (photo: andendquote/flickr)

By Barbara Rodriguez
Associated Press
readersupportednews.org

Anti-Wall Street demonstrators of the Occupy Chicago movement stood their ground in a downtown park in noisy but peaceful defiance of police orders to clear out, prompting 130 arrests early Sunday, authorities said.

Occupy Chicago spokesman Joshua Kaunert vowed after the arrests that protests would continue in the Midwest city.

"We're not going anywhere. There are still plenty of us," Kaunert told The Associated Press after the arrests, which took police more than an hour to complete.

Elsewhere in the nation, police reported 11 arrests overnight in the Occupy Cincinnati protests. Police said those arrested had stayed in that city's Fountain Square after Sunday's 3 a.m. closing time and each was charged with criminal trespass.

In Chicago, police began taking people into custody just before 1 a.m. Sunday. Those arrested were led in groups to vans and two large white buses as others clamored to be arrested.

"Take me next! Take me next!" some shouted as police began the arrests. Others chanted as they were led away: "We'll be back!"

Officers had begun placing metal barricades around the area of Chicago's Grant Park known as Congress Plaza about 11:10 p.m. Saturday, minutes after the park had closed. Afterward, police then went through the crowd and warned people to leave or risk arrest for remaining in the closed park in violation of a city ordinance.

Several of the protesters who stayed inside the barricades in the park sat on the ground. Others locked arms as police circled and then began arresting people.

"One: We are the people! Two: We are united! Three: The occupation is not leaving!" demonstrators shouted. Others joined in from just outside the park.

Chicago police said Sunday morning that 130 arrests had been made.

Kaunert said none of those arrested had resisted.

"Everybody was very peaceful and smiling and there was no violence, though a lot of chanting," he said.

He urged authorities to let the people resume protesting peacefully against the perceived greed and other ills they see on Wall Street and elsewhere in corporate America. He noted it was the second straight weekend that arrests had been made in the park after 175 arrests the previous Sunday after protesters set up tents past public hours.

"The police came in and again took away our right to free speech and assembly," he said. "Several paddywagons left and they had two very large prison buses and those are gone now."

Paulina Jasczuk, a 24-year-old dental receptionist, watched as her boyfriend, Philip Devon, was led away in the night hours. She threw him a white sweater against the chill of a fall night in Chicago.

"I'm proud of everyone who got arrested tonight," she told AP, adding she hoped they would inspire more demonstrators to join in the movement in the weeks ahead.

Demonstrators were taken away one by one and handcuffed with white plastic ties. Some on the scene shouted: "This is what democracy looks like!"

Drums banged and some people clanged on metal.

Jonathan Sumner, 25, of Chicago, watched the arrests from outside the park and began shouting at officers: "Why are you doing this?"

"It's a sad day for the CPD" he said, referring to the Chicago Police Department.

Some said earlier that arrests only signal the importance of the Occupy movement.

"This movement will not be a serious movement until we take a stand, and getting arrested is just one way of taking a stand," said Max Farrar, 20, a junior political science major at DePaul University, speaking Saturday to a reporter.

About 1,500 people gathered for the protest that began Saturday. Demonstrators descended on the city park with hopes of making it the movement's permanent home. The group had started in Chicago's financial district before marching to the park.

Along the way, marchers chanted "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!" and held signs that read "Greed Sucks" and "No War But The Class War" while police on horses blocked them from walking on the street on Michigan Avenue, leaving them with just the sidewalks to occupy.

Occupy Wall Street began a month ago in New York among a few young people, and has grown to tens of thousands around the country and the world.

In Cincinnati, Police Capt. Doug Wiesman said early Sunday that the 11 arrests carried out there were "straightforward" and without problems. A protester, Aaron Roco, told AP about 30 other protesters who remained on a sidewalk just outside the Cincinnati square during the police action weren't arrested.

Reader Supported News Special Coverage
The aim of #OCCUPYWALLSTREET is to draw protesters to New York's financial district and around the world in a non-violent protest to spark a mass movement against corporate dominance. While the corporate media ignores the protest, the Rim Country Gazette Blog will post the best of Reader Supported News continuing coverage of the latest developments.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Guitar virtuoso Cruz performs in Payson Tuesday

NASHVILLE, TN – (October 22, 2011) – - Guitar virtuoso and master showman Edgar Cruz will present his unique blend of classical, Latin, pop, jazz and guitar masterpieces at the Payson High School Auditorium in Payson on Tuesday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m.

Single tickets are $35 (if seating is available).  Children and youth, grade 12 and under, will be admitted free when accompanied by a ticket holding adult.   For more information visit the association website at www.tccarim.org or call 928-478-4363 or 928-474-4189

Edgar Cruz has garnered an iconic status in the guitar world as a phenomenal technician, capable of remarkable speed, precision and complexity.  To concertgoers and festival attendees across the country, Cruz has an undeniable reputation as a tireless entertainer.

His particular renown comes from his commitment to developing new ways of performing all musical genres on solo guitar.  Typical programming includes guitar classics such as “Malaguena,” however, song titles such as “Tequila,” “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” and “In the Mood” are also just as likely to be performed.

Cruz has been a headliner at the prestigious Chet Atkins Guitar Festival since 1995 and has been named Oklahoma’s top performing artist, top acoustic guitarist, or both, for each of the last ten years.  His YouTube performance of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” has been viewed over 13 million times. 

The Tonto Community Concert Association is committed to bringing quality entertainment to the Rim Country through an annual concert series and support of the fine arts in Payson schools.  This series is intended as an enriching cultural experience for the people of Payson and those in surrounding communities.

Live On Stage, Inc. provides acclaimed, affordable entertainment attractions and support services to an American community of concert presenters.  For more information, visit www.LiveOnStage.biz.

ASU music student shares stage with Ringo Starr

ASU School of Music doctoral student Keith Kelly plays the saxophone during one stop on his 50-city tour this summer.

Photo courtesy of BBC.

By Susan Felt
Arizona State University
It was a surreal moment for Keith Kelly, a doctoral student in ASU's School of Music. The lyrics he was singing were from Paul McCartney’s “With a Little Help from My Friends,’’ and the guy next to him on stage was Ringo Starr, with his All-Starr Band serenading thousands of concertgoers at the June 11 Norwegian Wood Festival in Oslo, Norway.

And that was just the fifth stop on what would be a 50-city, 10-week world tour. On tour, Kelly played saxophone and flute with an internationally known rock band, met rock icons, worked on his dissertation, and came home with maybe one of the best “What I Did Over My Summer Vacation” stories told at ASU's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

Not to mention, there is the beard he grew in order to fit in with the band, which he is contractually forbidden from naming.

The tour began and ended in California with performances at some of the world’s largest music festivals – from Beijing and Shanghai in China to the Glastonbury in the United Kingdom and the Wercther Festival in Belgium. There were gigs at clubs in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Berlin, and packed houses in Austin, Dallas, New Orleans, Boston and Brooklyn. The band even snagged an appearance (its fifth) on "The Late Show with David Letterman."

Besides the unforgettable moments of singing with Ringo Starr and meeting Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin (“Crazy,’’ Kelly said), he also learned a lot from the daily reality of "being on the road" that involved living with 16 people and occasionally sleeping on shelves, living in hallways and always hanging with the band and crew.

“Working with ‘artists’ can be very difficult,’’ Kelly said. “As much as I think of myself as an artist, I am still a pragmatist.

“But the artists really are something different. Being in a rock 'n' roll band, well, nothing can prepare you for that. Playing is important, but you are entertaining people and that is your primary job,’’ he said.

“The other job is to be a good hang. You have to live with people ... all day, every day and work with them. You have to find some way to get along. And ‘bring it’ every single show,’’ Kelly said.

As the tour wound its way through Asia, Europe and the United States, Kelly found a gold mine of information for his dissertation about how middle school and high school students learn to play jazz.

“Most of the people that I met and worked with had significant music experiences as middle school and high school students, most of them outside of the formal music education system,” he said.

Rock musicians think about music differently than School of Music students in the Herberger Institute think about music, he said.

“For a rock musician, it is sound. It is replicating. It is about the ability to have many voices, to be able to recreate lots of different guitar sounds, for instance. It is further even than jazz musicians.

“Rock musicians know they have to entertain, to be genuine. They repeat themselves, but they are always trying to garner reactions from the audience. There is always a discussion about the audience.”

They also carry an impressive database in their heads, from obscure nuggets like who played drums on some minor R&B album to being able to play a sizeable portion of the Led Zeppelin catalogue off the top of their heads.

“They can play most of the instruments in the group, they can memorize two hours’ worth of music and play it almost perfectly every night – with no warm up (and) almost no practice.’’

As coordinator of jazz studies at California State University/Stanislaus, Kelly finds his students nonplussed about his summer gig. “They think it’s cool and that’s pretty much as far as it goes,” Kelly says.

But what does resonate with students is his deepened appreciation for what he considers one of the most sublime roles on earth: being a performing musician.

“My favorite musicians are those who surprise you with their experience, their ability to say ‘yes’ to circumstances that might seem extreme and those who play with joy and a truly unique voice,’’ he says.

Kelly has exchanged the stage for the classroom, but it, too, is a venue he relishes.

“Folks who are true cornerstones of their community are not those who have never left their area or peer group, but those who left and chose to come back,’’ he says.

“Going on the road was awesome. Going to college is cool. But at some point all of those adventures end and you have to see about helping the next generation of adventurers.”

Friday, October 21, 2011

Paving continues on Beeline south of AZ188

Headed to the Valley this weekend for a little R&R - or just a quick run to Trader Joe's and Costco?  Here are some things ADOT wants you to be aware of:

The Arizona Department of Transportation will continue paving State Route 87 Friday (Oct. 21) two miles south of the SR 87/SR 188 junction. The right lane of the northbound roadway will be closed from 4:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. to provide a safe work zone.

The $1.4 million project to repave a four-mile segment of the highway includes the removal of a layer of the existing pavement and the application of a new layer of smooth, quiet rubberized asphalt. The project is scheduled to be completed in mid-November.

No major delays are expected, however, ADOT advises drivers to proceed through the work zone with caution, slow down, and be alert for construction equipment and personnel.

WEEKEND VALLEY FREEWAY RESTRICTIONS

October 21 - 24, 2011
 
Drivers should be aware of the following restrictions:
  • Eastbound Loop 101 closed between 75th and Seventh avenues from 10 p.m. Friday to 3 p.m. Sunday
  • Southbound Loop 101 (Price Freeway) closed between Ray Road and Loop 202 in Chandler from 10 p.m. Friday to 9 p.m. Saturday
  • Eastbound Interstate 10 closed overnight at 16th Street near downtown Phoenix from 9 p.m. Saturday to 9 a.m. Sunday 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lake Havasu City celebrates London Bridge's 40th

The London Bridge draws tourists from all over the world to Lake Havasu City. The town is celebrating the landmark’s 40th birthday. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Joanne Ingram) 

By JOANNE INGRAM
Cronkite News Service

LAKE HAVASU CITY – From his office window, real estate broker Lyle Matzdorff gaped at the semi trucks trekking back and forth along U.S. Highway 95, lugging granite blocks used to recreate the famed London Bridge in what was then a small Colorado River town.

“You say, ‘The London Bridge is going to be right there,’” Matzdorff said. “It’s hard to fathom.”

But block by block, and to the wonder of many, 22 million pounds of granite transported 10,000 miles from the River Thames became part of the bridge spanning a man-made channel on Lake Havasu.

Forty years later, London Bridge, purchased by this city’s founder as an elaborate business venture to boost land sales, attracts thousands of visitors and is the centerpiece of a community that boasts more than 50,000 residents.

“The London Bridge put Lake Havasu City on the map,” Mayor Mark Nexsen said.

Founder and entrepreneur Robert McCulloch purchased the 26 square miles of land in 1963 to use as a test site for his outboard boat motor business, and five years later he purchased the bridge for $2.46 million when the city of London put it up for auction.

“You always hear the old jokes, you know, ‘I’ve got a bridge I can sell you,’” Nexsen said. “Well, he bought it.”

The city is now celebrating the anniversary of London Bridge’s October 1971 dedication with a reenactment of the sale, construction and dedication of the bridge, as well as a display of 11 bloodied mannequin heads, a nod to London’s medieval practice of beheading those who committed crimes against the crown.

Judy Whelan, a Lake Havasu City Historical Society board member directing the anniversary celebration, said the bridge promotes tourism, which in turn boosts sales at area businesses.

“Tourists started flooding in as soon as they heard that the bridge was over here,” Whelan said. “And it hasn’t really stopped.”

As many as 68,000 visitors have traveled to the city so far this year, according to the Lake Havasu City Convention and Visitors Bureau, making the London Bridge one of the biggest tourist attractions in the state.

Below the 952-foot-long bridge is a replica English village, complete with a visitor center, pubs and bright red English phone booths. Tourists can also find several restaurants and the London Bridge Resort nearby.

Whelan said McCulloch’s gimmick to raise the town’s visibility and to increase property sales was very effective.

“As soon as the publicity went out that McCulloch had bought the London Bridge and was going to move it to Arizona, lot sales quadrupled.”

The original bridge, completed in 1831, was one of a number of London bridges dating back almost 2,000 years. The city decided to replace it because the heavy granite construction and the increasing traffic caused the structure to sink an inch every eight years.

Lake Havasu City’s version features the original masonry over a concrete base.

It was reconstructed on dry land next to the lake. McCulloch later had a channel dug beneath it, creating an island.

Mark Clark, the director of the city’s Department of Public Works, said as many as 12,000 cars cross the bridge’s three lanes daily, and nearly 20,000 on holidays.

Clark, who as a boy saw the bridge’s construction, said the unusual attraction provided the city with an instant identity.

“It gave this community a focus point,” he said. “It gave this community a place to gather.”

London Bridge Facts
• Purchased by Lake Havasu City founder Robert McCulloch for $2.46 million in 1968.
• Granite masonry shipped 10,000 miles through the Panama Canal to Long Beach, Calif.
• Original bridge was 1,005 feet long; Lake Havasu City’s bridge is 952 feet long.
• Consists of five arches initially built over sand molds; a channel was dug later.
• Reconstruction took three years and cost $5.1 million, including relocation and reassembly.

London Bridge Days
The celebration of London Bridge’s 40th anniversary in Lake Havasu City lasts from Oct. 13-29. It includes a rededication ceremony, a London Bridge Parade, a concert and a fair.