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Monday, April 30, 2012

Obama controversy: Use of complete sentences

By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – In the first term in office, President Barack Obama has broken with a tradition established over the previous eight years through his controversial use of complete sentences, political observers say.

New polls indicate that millions of Americans are put off by the President’s unorthodox verbal tic, which has Mr. Obama employing grammatically correct sentences virtually every time he opens his mouth.


Mr. Obama’s decision to use complete sentences in his public pronouncements, as well as his insistence on the correct pronunciation of the word “nuclear,” has harmed his reelection hopes among millions of voters who find his unusual speaking style unfamiliar and bizarre.


According to presidential historian Davis Logsdon of the University of Minnesota, after eight years of George W. Bush many Americans find it “alienating” to have a President who speaks English as if it were his first language.


“Every time Obama opens his mouth, his subjects and verbs are in agreement,” says Mr. Logsdon.  “If he keeps it up, he is running the risk of sounding like an elitist.”


The historian said that if Mr. Obama insists on using complete sentences in his speeches, on Election Day the public may find itself saying, “Okay, subject, predicate, subject predicate – we get it, stop showing off.”


Elsewhere, consumers who believed that Nutella was nutritious have won a $3.05 million lawsuit, the highest award ever paid to morons.

Occupy has control of political debate

Occupy has already captured control of the debate. (photo: Reuters)

By Douglas Schoen
The Daily Beast
 
28 April 12

n a statement following the Senate's rejection of the proposed Buffett Rule to impose a 30 percent minimum tax rate on those making more than $1 million a year, President Obama accused Senate Republicans of “choosing once again to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest few Americans at the expense of the middle class.”
And in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine this week, the president openly embraced Occupy Wall Street as “just one vivid expression of a broader anxiety.”

These remarks illustrate an important, but largely unrecognized, point about why and how the Obama campaign has retooled its message and strategy. Put simply, President Obama has effectively made class warfare the central organizing strategy of his reelection campaign.

Moreover, it is becoming increasingly clear that Occupy Wall Street (OWS)—while less visibly active in recent months following clashes with the police, infighting, and eviction from its flagship encampment in New York’s Zuccotti Park last November—is nonetheless seizing control of the political debate in America this election year.
OWS already has had a clear and demonstrable impact on both the Obama and Romney campaigns–arguably becoming the most important outside influence so far in this year’s election campaign dialogue.

President Obama and the Democrats have been increasingly echoing the central themes that OWS introduced last fall—emphasizing unfairness in American society, income inequality, and the need to redistribute wealth. Mitt Romney–who has struggled throughout this campaign on how to address questions surrounding Bain Capital, his overall wealth, the tax rates he pays, and what role Wall Street and business should play in promoting economic growth and job development–sought to tap into OWS themes at a rally in New Hampshire on April 24 with a speech centered around “the unfairness of America today.”

Moreover, the themes and rhetoric that Occupy Wall Street introduced have captured enough attention to go beyond the political hemisphere, to influence Wall Street itself. Nowhere was this clearer than last week when for the first time in Wall Street history, Citigroup shareholders united in opposition to a proposed $15 million pay package for its chief executive, Vikram S. Pandit. The shareholder vote, which comes amid a rising national debate over income inequality, suggests that anger over pay for chief executives has spread from Occupy Wall Street to influence actual behavior on Wall Street as well.

Occupy Wall Street’s rhetorical dominance of Democratic messaging fulfills one of the clear goals its followers articulated last October, when my firm, Douglas E. Schoen, LLC, conducted a survey of OWS protesters. At that time, a clear plurality (35 percent) of the Occupy Wall Street protesters interviewed said their top goal was for Occupy Wall Street to move the Democratic Party distinctly and boldly left.

They have largely succeeded.

President Obama has retooled his campaign message and has acted as an effective amplifier and advocate of Occupy Wall Street’s core messages since the beginning of 2012. His State of the Union address focused on the need for fairness and equality in American society and “an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”

The president has also emphasized time and again the need to redistribute wealth and income, and the need to protect all Americans from rapacious oil companies, banks, insurance companies, and the wealthy in general. Calling economic fairness “the defining issue of our time,” he went on to proclaim, “Now, you can call this class warfare all you want … But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense.”

A new follow-up survey conducted recently by my firm on Occupy Wall Street goals and objectives shows that the movement has new and bolder aspirations to use the rhetorical influence it has already won to fundamentally alter government policy and change American politics and society in ways that were previously unimaginable.
Arielle Alter Confino, a senior researcher at my polling firm, conducted a follow-up survey on the attitudes of Occupy Wall Street’s supporters. She and two associates interviewed a total of 200 protesters in Zuccotti Park and at OWS’ new Union Square location between March 28 and April 2.

The survey results show that OWS believes it has vocalized frustrations shared by a broad mass of the American people (65 percent), and is now controlling the national dialogue (77 percent) and influencing both President Obama and the Democratic Party (54 percent)—at least in terms of strategy and rhetoric.

Moreover, we found that the view that the movement has become quiescent is fundamentally wrong.

If anything, OWS has become even more radical since our October poll—when respondents said they were ready and willing to use civil disobedience (98 percent) and violence (31 percent) as a means of achieving OWS’ agenda.

The results from our latest survey show that the activists we interviewed in October were not only candid but accurate about their tactics and goals. Indeed, a detailed look at the findings suggests that the OWS protesters are bolder and more aggressive than ever—with close to two-thirds (63 percent) saying they have already engaged in civil disobedience, and more than 10 percent (13 percent) saying they have already engaged in violence in support of their goals.

An examination of the survey data shows clearly that the activists we interviewed have an ambitious and bold agenda of change that they are working to see implemented through their next phase of activity.

They seek nothing less than a fundamental overhaul of American society, going well beyond the policy prescriptions of many European and Scandinavian social democratic societies.

The view that the OWS movement has become quiescent is fundamentally wrong.
The activists we interviewed made it clear that they oppose American-style capitalism (53 percent), and believe in massive redistribution of wealth (71 percent), dramatically higher taxes (85 percent), and greater government regulation and control over the economy (79 percent).

Seventy-nine percent say that government has a moral responsibility to guarantee health care, a college education, and a secure retirement for all, no matter what the cost—a 14-point increase from 65 percent who gave this answer in our fall survey.
Three-quarters (74 percent) would like to see our health-care system replaced by a government-run single-payer system.

As the current survey results indicate, the movement plans to go beyond its achievement of controlling the national political dialogue and influencing both President Obama and the Democrats to an even more ambitious agenda of tangible social and political change.

In the course of doing the interviews, my firm received a number of comments from protesters who were candid about wanting to more than just influencing the electoral outcome of the 2012 election.

As one Occupy Wall Street protester, a graduate student in her mid-twenties explained, the OWS efforts in 2012 were about the “need to fundamentally revolutionize American society [and transform it] into a cooperative—run by and for the ‘We the 99 percent.’”

Another protester–a seasoned veteran of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) whose calls for radicalism and direct action echoed the student protestors of the 1960s– put it bluntly: “The working class must unite with direct action to seize power back from the usurious banks and the corporations who run our state!”

And now, the movement is in the process of trying to achieve these goals.
Occupy Wall Street is now gearing up to reengage in 2012 with an aggressive program of protests designed to mobilize progressives with a reinvigorated effort to promote radical redistribution of wealth, greater government regulation and control of the private sector, and a massive new set of social and economic initiatives to guarantee government-subsidized health care, education, and retirement security for all–no matter what the cost.

Every week for the last two months, protesters in New York City have trained new members in various protest tactics focused on “redressing the imbalances and injustices in American society,” as one protester put it.

These weeks of training are building up to May Day on May 1, when Occupy is calling on the 99 percent to hold a general strike across the United States.

Occupy Wall Street is now organizing a powerful block of collective progressive interests—collaborating if not partnering with other leftist groups including but not limited to labor unions, environmentalists, and independent community organizers. On Tuesday April 24, thousands of people risked arrest by attempting to shut down the Wells Fargo annual shareholder meeting in San Francisco—demanding Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf and other executives address the concerns of the 99 percent.

How much success the movement has actually implementing this sweeping agenda remains to be seen.

Make no mistake, Occupy Wall Street’s impact has already been considerable, as the movement remains a clear force to be reckoned for the upcoming general election campaign, and most likely, the foreseeable future.

Bookstore features books for mom in May

During May the Library Friends of Payson Bookstore will be honoring mothers with a 2 for 1 sale of all hardback books.

Included in this sale will be fiction, biography, fiction, religion, inspirational, art, craft, cooking, gardening,and travel books.  Come in and find treasures by such prominent authors as; Danielle Steel, Mary Higgins Clark, Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Barbara Bradford, Judith Krantz, Sue Grafton, Patricia Cornwall, and many more.

Given the Bookstore’s already low prices, this two for one special is an incredible bargain.  Consider giving mom a couple of good books on Mothers Day along with a few uninterrupted hours to enjoy them.  She will be delighted with your thoughtfulness.

As June approaches, parents are concerned with keeping children’s reading skills active during summer vacation.  The Bookstore has a great selection of children’s books to help promote summer reading.  Currently, there is a large supply of Young Adult hardback books which are being offered during May as a two for  one special.  This is a great opportunity to keep older children reading over summer break.


Every penny spent in the Library Friends of Payson Bookstore is reinvested in the Payson Library to support the purchase of new material and many special programs.  Therefore, Bookstore customers not only benefit from one of the best values to be found in Payson, they also support an important civic institution.

Bookstore stock changes daily, so the wise shopper visits frequently.  The 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  

Saturday, April 28, 2012

LETTER: Anti-green folly isn't sustainable

LETTER TO REPUBLIC EDITOR

(Gazette Blog Editor's note: The following letter appeared in the Saturday, April 28 edition of The Arizona Republic.  Obviously, we like it.  And you righties can go to opinions.azcentral.com to read "Some reasons not to vote for Obama." To subscribe to the Republic, easily your best Rim Country newspaper buy, call 1-800-332-6733 or go to subscriber.azcentral.com.)

Anti-green folly isn't sustainable
SB 1507 ... Really?
Our legislators are actually going on record as being against sustainability when even elementary-school children understand the ever-present threats to our environment?

Because it somehow presents a threat to our sovereignty?

This goes beyond the absurd.  If it weren't actually happening, it would be prime material for a satire.

Last year, legislators passed a bill allowing them to bring guns into the legislative buildings.  Perhaps it's time for them to propose another bill allowing them to wear their aluminum-foil hats during the sessions.

Chuck Rinaldi
Mesa

the Payson Jazz Trio
Bob Smolenski- keyboard
Mike Buskirk - bass
Suzanne Knighton - bass *
Gerry Reynolds - drums

Continues to perform
5:30 to 7:30 pm 

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

This week!
Friday, April 27th *
Saturday, April 28th
 and
Friday, May 11th
Saturday, May 12th
Friday, May 25th
Saturday, May 26th
Friday, June 1st
Saturday, June 2nd
Thursday, June 14th *
Friday, June 15th *
Thursday, June 28th
Friday, June 29th

Mark you calendars and come join your friends! 
Reservations not required, but helpful 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Despite dead heat, Obama's odds long in AZ

By JORDAN MOON
Cronkite News Service


PHOENIX – Since the days of Harry S. Truman, only one Democratic presidential candidate has won in Arizona: Bill Clinton, seeking a second term in 1996.

But despite the state’s reputation as a GOP bastion and Mitt Romney’s advantages here, including appealing to the sizable Mormon population, President Barack Obama’s campaign is suggesting that it can win Arizona in November.

“We think we have a real shot at winning the presidential race here in Arizona,” Vice President Joe Biden said at a fundraiser in Phoenix last week, adding that campaign organizers will set up operations here.

So is this standard election-year posturing or a claim grounded in political reality?
According to experts on Arizona politics, an Obama win is possible but depends in large part to the answers to two questions:

QUESTION ONE: Which way will political independents lean?
A poll released Monday by Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy suggests that the presidential race is a statistical dead heat in Arizona. Independents appear to break slightly for Obama over Romney, but 34 percent of independents were undecided, the poll showed.

About one-third of Arizona’s registered voters aren’t affiliated with either major party.
“That group will probably decide who wins Arizona, depending on what way they go,” said David Daugherty, the institute’s director of research. “The Republicans will vote for the Republicans, the Democrats will vote for the Democrats, so it’s really a battle over who can convince the independents.”

By electing and re-electing former Gov. Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Terry Goddard, for example, Democrats have shown they can win statewide elections by appealing to independent voters.

In many ways, experts say, whether or not Obama can follow suit depends on how the state’s economy is doing come November after years of deep recession, high unemployment and plunging home values.

Bruce Merrill, a political scientist who conducted the Morrison Institute’s poll, said the Obama campaign still has a long road ahead to win Arizona, in part because the president would likely struggle if the economy remains in the doldrums.

“A lot can happen between now and November, particularly with the economy,” he said. “So it’s just really too early to say, but if the election were held today I don’t think Obama would win.”

Daugherty said the economy likely will sway the election.

“If the economy improves, it tends to favor the party in power,” he said. “So the Obama campaign stands to gain from an improved economy.”

Merrill said Arizona voters may blame Obama for the weak economy, even though he said it’s not fair to do so.

“The president is like a college quarterback,” Merrill said. “When things go well the president gets a pat on the back, but when things go bad the president’s to blame.”
Zack A. Smith, regents’ professor in Northern Arizona University’s Department of Politics and International Affairs, said Obama could make inroads among Arizona’s independent voters by continuing to cast Romney as flip-flopping on issues.
“Romney has been on both sides of a lot of issues, and going after Romney will certainly help draw in some independents,” he said. “I don’t know how effective it’ll be.”

QUESTION TWO: Will Latino voters turn out?
Independent of SB 1070, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s immigration crackdowns, immigration-reform proposals and other issues that have captured national attention, experts said a key for Obama is whether Latinos will turn out and which issues are most important to those who vote.

Latinos account for about 30 percent of Arizona’s population, but because many are too young to vote they make up a smaller share of the state’s 3.2 million registered voters. According to the William C. Velasquez Institute, a nonpartisan research group focusing on Latinos, 14.3 percent of Arizona’s registered voters were Latino in 2008 and accounted for 11.7 percent of the overall turnout.

Merrill said Democrats have put considerable effort toward registering Latinos but have yet to be rewarded in terms of turnout.

“Hispanics tend to vote 75 percent Democratic, and so it’s very important, particularly in Arizona, where you have a growing Hispanic population,” he said.

Merrill said concerns about the GOP’s “very sharp and critical” stance toward illegal immigration should help Obama among Latinos and could increase Latino turnout in November.

“My guess is that with the DREAM Act and all the stuff that’s gone on with Joe Arpaio, there will probably be a little more interest in the Hispanic community this time than normal,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s going to be massive or enough to really be a major factor in how the election turns out.”

Meanwhile, Merrill said, the top issue among Hispanics may well be what it is for other Arizonans.

“In general, the economy is still the biggest issue within the Hispanic community,” he said. “As a group, Hispanics are … hit harder by the recession.”

Richard Herrera, an associate professor in ASU’s School of Politics and Global Studies, said the Obama campaign is more optimistic about Arizona than it might otherwise be because Richard Carmona, a former surgeon general who is of Puerto Rican descent, is running for U.S. Senate here.

“They think that that will turn out a large number of Latinos, which only helps them,” Herrera said. “So if it were a different candidate, they might not think Arizona was in play.”
Yard Sale
 
5657 Manzanita Trail, Pine
Friday and Saturday, 9am-4pm
Follow the pink signs

Volunteers needed for Hardt Rodeo

RODEO VOLUNTEERS WANTED to have fun and help a worthwhile cause. Come work with ne of the greatest giving groups in Payson – The Payson Rodeo Committee. Be part of Payson’s heritage and help with student’s education at the same time.

We are looking for help at our upcoming Gary Hardt Memorial Rodeo on May 18 and 19 in areas like ticket takers, the souvenir booth, 50/50 ticket sales, security and other non-livestock areas.

See what it is all about and how you can meet some great people this next Tuesday. We will meet Tuesday May 1 and May 8 at the Best Western Hotel. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Best Western Inn of Payson.

For added information call John Landino at 928-468-0023

Thursday, April 26, 2012



Pleasant   Valley Winery
On April 7, 150 attended 
our Open House in Young.  
It was a beautiful day in Pleasant Valley. 
  
 Thank You for a 
Wonderful Open House

'Brutally hard' to be a Christian these days

       TRUTHOUT OP ED       

By William Rivers Pitt
 
I pulled into Nazareth,
Feelin' 'bout half-past dead,
Just need to find a place,
Where I can lay my head.
"Mister, can you tell me
Where a man might find a bed?"
He just grinned and shook my hand,
"No," was all he said...
- The Band
 

It is brutally hard to be a Christian in America these days.

Yeah, I said it. It's true.

I'm a Christian. I was born and baptized, and then given First Confession and First Communion wearing my little white suit with the little gold buckles on my little white shoes. I learned the Bible at my grandmother's knee - her way of teaching me to read - and went out into the world thinking do-unto-others-as-you-would-have-them-do-unto-you and that-which-you-do-to-the-least-of-my-brothers-you-do-unto-me was the proper way of things.

In Bible study, I remember being impressed by a specific command from Jesus from Matthew 6:5-6. Not a request, not a suggestion, not a hint, but a flat-out command: "Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you."

And my Father, who sees in secret, will reward me. Well, thanks a lot, Dad, for rewarding me with this hideous, necrotic 21st century version of Christianity...you know, the version that has little if anything to do with what You tried to tell us in those four friendly books at the beginning of the New Testament. Do Unto Others has been replaced with Do Others In The Throat, and as far as prayer in secret so as not to be a hypocrite, well...have You seen CNN and Fox lately? They're praying all over the place, all the time, around the clock...but for war, death, punishment, and the castigation and flagellation of anyone who dares to, as You said in John 13:34, "Love one another, as I have loved you."

Yup, I'm talking about the "hommasexchulls" among us, the ones deprived of The Light Of American Jesus because of their sinful, sodomic ways. I can quote Exodus and Leviticus at you until your eyes bleed, two books that are wildly popular with this country's curious breed of Jesus-shouter...except Jesus came along to make sure four new books got written, right? The ones with all the loving lessons I learned at my grandmother's knee, right?

Those were the stories I was raised with. Maybe I missed a chapter.

Long-time Truthout readers know that I am a survivor of bullying. Well, it turns out that some of the stars of modern American Christianity have gathered their forces to blunt any state or local push to stop bullying in schools. Some of these festering, pestiferous frauds have even gone so far as to craft a prayer to God, so that He will intercede on their behalf to thwart laws that would keep LGBTQI kids from being harried to such an extreme degree that they commit suicide rather than face another day in the warm bath of American Christianity. Those kids kill themselves all the time nowadays, thanks to the endless and barbaric harassment they endure from Christians...just as Jesus intended?

Um...

The prayer:
May God help us to not to "bully" anyone, but to graciously yet urgently speak the truth in love to young people who are hurting themselves with the "LGBT" lifestyle. May believers across America not be "bullied" by our government's efforts to promote harmful and sinful sexual practices among our youth and instead determine to stand courageously against these misguided efforts which can only lead to God's judgment!
My favorite part of that is the way they put "bully" in quotation marks, as if crucifying Matthew Shepard on a fence in Wyoming was only kinda-sorta "bullying," instead of flat-out assault and murder. According to those who crafted that abomination of a prayer, Shepard's killers were just American Christians attempting to save a soul...oh, and the exclamation point after "God's judgment" at the end of that so-called prayer is just a nudge in the...um...proper direction. Direction? I should have said Way.
It is brutally hard to be a Christian in America these days. Some of us Christians take that bit about doing unto the least of us deeply, deeply seriously. Some of us Christians think that it is wrong, sinful, and in fact a brazen form of Apartheid to deny certain Americans the rights enjoyed by other Americans based upon who they love. Mostly, some of us think Christianity in America has gone barking-mad insane.
I am a Christian. I make no apologies for it. I'm not sure if I believe that Jesus turned that water into wine, or if He raised up Lazarus, or even if He rose from the dead. That all sounds like a lot of magic nonsense from two thousand years ago when you think about it, which is why they call it The Mystery of Faith.

But I believe that I am my brother's keeper, that I should worship without bragging about it, that the poor will God-damned-right inherit the Earth, and that what you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do unto me. I believe that the first four books of the New Testament are a wonderful blueprint for being a decent person on this planet, and that's what I live by, as best I can.

I am an American Christian, and it is a burden to bear.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to drink some new wine, hang out with a familiar whore, and listen to the dead.

Amen.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kenny Evans calls turncoat coach his hero

ASU asks for support in return to Tontozona

[Gazette Blog Editor's comment: The following press release from ASU is reprinted without Payson Mayor Kenny Evans embarrassing gush.  According to The Arizona Republic, Evans, who spoke at the conference, called new ASU football coach Todd Graham a "hero" - an odd way to describe a coach who has a reputation for sticking around only until a better job offer comes along.  Talk about building tradition.  Talk about a mayor who needs to just stay out of it.]

Sun Devil Athletics has announced a new initiative – spearheaded by ASU head football coach Todd Graham and Steve Patterson, ASU athletics director and vice president for university athletics – that is calling to restore the tradition of hosting Sun Devil Football at Camp Tontozona, near Payson, Ariz., for practice and a scrimmage, beginning this fall.

"Every player, every coach and many fans begin each season in the tall pines northeast of Payson," said Graham. "Coach Frank Kush had a vision. It worked well then, and it will again. When I visited earlier this year, I saw a lot of potential. But a lot of work needs to be completed in order to make it happen.”

“I love the tradition of college football,” added Graham. “That is one of the reasons I coach at the collegiate level. Camp Tontozona is one of the famous icons in the history of college football. I want to take my first team there because the tradition begins at Tontozona, just like it did in 1960."

“Camp Tontozona unites Sun Devil football players from every generation and we want to return to that tradition,” said Patterson. “We invite former football players, fans and anyone that believes in Camp T and what it stands for to participate by donating money or services. We need the Sun Devil football family to unite behind this goal.”

The campaign, called “Return to Camp T,” will require fundraising of $150,000 to make the goal of returning to Camp Tontozona this year a reality. If that figure is met by June 1, Sun Devil Football will visit Camp Tontozona from August 14-18, with a scrimmage held on the 18th. If the goal is not met, funds will be applied to returning to Camp Tontozona for the 2013 fall preseason. Any donations that exceed the $150,000 mark will be applied toward the Sun Devil Football program as a whole.

For more details on the campaign, visit thesundevils.com/ot/camp-t
Donors of $100 or more receive a “Return to Camp T” bumper sticker, and $250 or more will earn a “Return to Camp T” T-shirt. Donors of $500 or more will receive a T-shirt and are eligible to go on a turnaround trip to the scrimmage at Camp Tontozona. All donations will go through the Sun Devil Club and are tax-deductible. Those who want to contribute can visit thesundevils.com or contact Kevin Miniefield of The Sun Devil Club at 480-727-6644 or at kevin.miniefield@asu.edu.

Camp Tontozona provides the Sun Devils with a unique setting for concentration and preparation for the new season ahead. The camp began hosting Arizona State football’s preseason practice in 1960 under the direction of head coach Frank Kush and continued through 2008. Set within the cool mountain country of Payson, Ariz., the camp borders the Tonto National Forest, which provides the first two syllables of Tontozona. The state of Arizona offers the last pair.

No conversation about Camp Tontozona would becomplete without mentioning Mount Kush.

“The first thing we did was climb that mountain as a group,” says Kush. “When we got to the top, the rookies sang their high school fight songs. I thought the whole concept started us out with a lot of togetherness.”

“Camp Tontozona was simply about a bonding experience for us, especially as freshmen,” said former Arizona State quarterback Jake Plummer. “For me, it was my indoctrination to college football. It culminated in a Rose Bowl for us in 1996. It was Camp Tontozona that brought us together.”

If the fundraising goal is reached, the Sun Devil Club will have other opportunities to experience Camp Tontozona, including a turnaround trip, a barbecue and a golf outing. For more information on these events, contact Cori Hewitson in the Sun Devil Club at 480-727-7700.

About The Sun Devil Club: All donations will go through the Sun Devil Club. The Sun Devil Club is a 501(c)3 charitable organization whose mission is to sustain a culture that promotes and protects Arizona State University through Sun Devil Athletics. The Sun Devil Club annually provides Sun Devil Athletics with financial assistance for operating expenses, scholarships, academic support, facility maintenance and more. Additionally, the Sun Devil Club spearheads special fundraising projects, such as “Return to Camp T”, based on the needs of each sport. Contributions to the Sun Devil Club are up to 80 percent tax-deductible.

COVER UP? Monsanto buys bee reseach firm

A bumblebee flies around the blossoms on an azalea. (photo: AP)


By Anthony Gucciardi
NaturalSociety

23 April 12 
onsanto, the massive biotechnology company being blamed for contributing to the dwindling bee population, has bought up one of the leading bee collapse research organizations. Recently banned from Poland with one of the primary reasons being that the company's genetically modified corn may be devastating the dying bee population, it is evident that Monsanto is under serious fire for their role in the downfall of the vital insects. It is therefore quite apparent why Monsanto bought one of the largest bee research firms on the planet.

It can be found in public company reports hosted on mainstream media that Monsanto scooped up the Beeologics firm back in September 2011. During this time the correlation between Monsanto's GM crops and the bee decline was not explored in the mainstream, and in fact it was hardly touched upon until Polish officials addressed the serious concern amid the monumental ban. Owning a major organization that focuses heavily on the bee collapse and is recognized by the USDA for their mission statement of "restoring bee health and protecting the future of insect pollination" could be very advantageous for Monsanto.

In fact, Beelogics' company information states that the primary goal of the firm is to study the very collapse disorder that is thought to be a result - at least in part - of Monsanto's own creations. Their website states:
While its primary goal is to control the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) infection crises, Beeologics' mission is to become the guardian of bee health worldwide.
What's more, Beelogics is recognized by the USDA, the USDA-ARS, the media, and 'leading entomologists' worldwide. The USDA, of course, has a great relationship with Monsanto. The government agency has gone to great lengths to ensure that Monsanto's financial gains continue to soar, going as far as to give the company special speed approval for their newest genetically engineered seed varieties. It turns out that Monsanto was not getting quick enough approval for their crops, which have been linked to severe organ damage and other significant health concerns.
Steve Censky, chief executive officer of the American Soybean Association, states it quite plainly. It was a move to help Monsanto and other biotechnology giants squash competition and make profits. After all, who cares about public health?
"It is a concern from a competition standpoint," Censky said in a telephone interview.
It appears that when Monsanto cannot answer for their environmental devastation, they buy up a company that may potentially be their 'experts' in denying any such link between their crops and the bee decline.

POLL: GOP majority supports f**king Romney


By Andy Borowitz

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) – In what Romney campaign insiders are hailing as a sign that the party faithful are rallying around the former Massachusetts governor, a new poll released today shows that a majority of Republican voters agree with the statement, “I guess I have to support f**king Romney.”

When asked why they were now ready to cast their vote for Mr. Romney, a majority of those Republicans polled “strongly agreed” with the statement, “Why do you think?  No one else is f**king running anymore.  Stop asking such stupid f**king questions.  I don’t need this s**t.”

Underscoring the sense that he is now the presumptive nominee, the Romney campaign unveiled a new slogan this morning, “You Have No Other Options Anymore.  Start Dealing With It, Losers.”

After sweeping five primary states Tuesday night, Mr. Romney was exultant, telling supporters in Manchester, N.H., “I love American democracy.  I’m good friends with the owners of it.”

The wins by Mr. Romney forced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to suspend his campaign, telling reporters that he was leaving the race “to spend more time with my families.” 

As for former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, he offered Mr. Romney this endorsement during an appearance on CNN: “Yeah, I guess I support him, because, well duh, I have absolutely no other choice.  Right?  I mean, really, Piers, what kind of moronic question is that?  I guess this goes to show that you can be a total douchebag and still win the nomination if you have the most dough.  I mean come on -- this whole situation makes me want to throw up.

"My only consolation is that on Judgment Day I’m going to Heaven, and we’ll have to see what happens to Mr. Magic Underpants.  Haha.  Yeah.  Sweet.”  

Monday, April 23, 2012

Just like days of yore (except for the ballcap)

Photo by Jim Keyworth
If you thought the Wild West was just a memory, here's a cattle roundup that took place this morning behind Mesa del Caballo (in fact that's your editor's fence and deck in foreground). 

A Good Friday procession along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem's old city this year. (photo: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

Was Jesus Gay? Probably

By Paul Oestreicher
Guardian UK

22 April 12
I preached on Good Friday that Jesus's intimacy with John suggested he was gay as I felt deeply it had to be addressed.
reaching on Good Friday on the last words of Jesus as he was being executed makes great spiritual demands on the preacher. The Jesuits began this tradition. Many Anglican churches adopted it. Faced with this privilege in New Zealand's capital city, Wellington, my second home, I was painfully aware of the context, a church deeply divided worldwide over issues of gender and sexuality. Suffering was my theme. I felt I could not escape the suffering of gay and lesbian people at the hands of the church, over many centuries.

Was that divisive issue a subject for Good Friday? For the first time in my ministry I felt it had to be. Those last words of Jesus would not let me escape. "When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, 'Woman behold your son!' Then he said to the disciple. 'Behold your mother!' And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home."

That disciple was John whom Jesus, the gospels affirm, loved in a special way. All the other disciples had fled in fear. Three women but only one man had the courage to go with Jesus to his execution. That man clearly had a unique place in the affection of Jesus. In all classic depictions of the Last Supper, a favourite subject of Christian art, John is next to Jesus, very often his head resting on Jesus's breast. Dying, Jesus asks John to look after his mother and asks his mother to accept John as her son. John takes Mary home. John becomes unmistakably part of Jesus's family.

Jesus was a Hebrew rabbi. Unusually, he was unmarried. The idea that he had a romantic relationship with Mary Magdalene is the stuff of fiction, based on no biblical evidence. The evidence, on the other hand, that he may have been what we today call gay is very strong. But even gay rights campaigners in the church have been reluctant to suggest it. A significant exception was Hugh Montefiore, bishop of Birmingham and a convert from a prominent Jewish family. He dared to suggest that possibility and was met with disdain, as though he were simply out to shock.

After much reflection and with certainly no wish to shock, I felt I was left with no option but to suggest, for the first time in half a century of my Anglican priesthood, that Jesus may well have been homosexual. Had he been devoid of sexuality, he would not have been truly human. To believe that would be heretical.

Heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual: Jesus could have been any of these. There can be no certainty which. The homosexual option simply seems the most likely. The intimate relationship with the beloved disciple points in that direction. It would be so interpreted in any person today. Although there is no rabbinic tradition of celibacy, Jesus could well have chosen to refrain from sexual activity, whether he was gay or not. Many Christians will wish to assume it, but I see no theological need to. The physical expression of faithful love is godly. To suggest otherwise is to buy into a kind of puritanism that has long tainted the churches.

All that, I felt deeply, had to be addressed on Good Friday. I saw it as an act of penitence for the suffering and persecution of homosexual people that still persists in many parts of the church. Few readers of this column are likely to be outraged any more than the liberal congregation to whom I was preaching, yet I am only too aware how hurtful these reflections will be to most theologically conservative or simply traditional Christians. The essential question for me is: what does love demand? For my critics it is more often: what does scripture say? In this case, both point in the same direction.

Whether Jesus was gay or straight in no way affects who he was and what he means for the world today. Spiritually it is immaterial. What matters in this context is that there are many gay and lesbian followers of Jesus - ordained and lay - who, despite the church, remarkably and humbly remain its faithful members. Would the Christian churches in their many guises more openly accept, embrace and love them, there would be many more disciples.

We, the Shareholders (Not the People)

Protesters at UC Davis.
 
Reader Supported News | Perspective
By Carl Gibson
Reader Supported News

19 April 12

e are no longer citizens participating in a democracy. We are shareholders attending a meeting of a large, corrupt corporation. Call it Americorp.

As shareholders, we sit face-forward, quietly, while the CEO, or president, makes his presentation, glossing over balance sheets and quarterly earnings, assuring us that the company is moving in the right track. The board of directors, or Congress, sometimes keeps the CEO in check and overrules him, but, for the most part, their agenda is the same as the president's agenda - preserving the status quo.

The shareholders at the meeting get ballots, although each ballot item has the opinion of the CEO and board under it. They're told by the board to vote a certain way, based on the opinion of the executives. The shareholders have a voice at the end of the meeting, but, for the most part, the CEO and board will do whatever they want. If the shareholders should speak out of turn or protest inside of the shareholder meeting, the CEO will wait politely while dissidents are swiftly escorted out by police.

The founders never intended for the people to be obedient subjects or quiet shareholders. We were meant to be citizens. And as US citizens we have rights granted to us by the US Constitution, which are irreplaceable, unbendable and unchanging. The same George Washington who was inaugurated at Federal Hall in New York would be furious at Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Commissioner Ray Kelly and the NYPD officers who arrested nonviolent protesters expressing their constitutional rights to free speech and free assembly on the steps of 26 Wall Street, the memorial of where Washington was inaugurated and where the Bill of Rights was first introduced.

Sleeping on sidewalks as a form of protest was deemed constitutionally-protected speech in a 2000 district court ruling, Metropolitan Council, Inc vs. Safir. But just this week the NYPD arrested citizens exercising that speech and beat those who resisted. Simultaneously, corporations, or "legal persons," spend unlimited amounts of undisclosed money on political campaigns, and have that deluge of cash protected as free speech under the Constitution. In Americorp, corporations are citizens with the right to constitutionally-protected speech. And citizens are shareholders, arrested and taken to jail for daring to speak against their corporate overlords.

Citizens are told every day by the media, owned by the same corporations that own our politicians, that we are divided. Their goal is to segment us into walled off demographics and pit us against each other - liberal vs. conservative, public sector vs. private sector, Tea Party vs. Occupy. If they can isolate us even further with individual labeling they will: college-educated female, Black male under 35, union worker, single parent, etc.

We're told by the politicians we elect to represent us, whose campaigns are financed by the same corporations that own the media, that the government we pay taxes to every year is not to be trusted. That only we know what's best for us, not the government. Such tactics are meant to turn engaged citizens into isolated, apathetic subjects. Democracy becomes a spectator sport, viewed through the lens of the corporate media. Citizens are persuaded to be apathetic, focusing only on their immediate needs and maintaining their income. This allows the board and the CEO of 
Americorp to continue their plundering free of scrutiny.

Instead of having a wide range of choices of whom we want to represent us we're only given two. They are presented as having differing philosophies and use different language to create the illusion of diversity, but their campaigns are financed by the same corporate backers that actively use their bottomless funds to practice "free speech." The only role of Americorp shareholders is to vote on which rich guy they'd like to continue the status quo for the next few years.

In a true democracy our officials are elected by and held accountable to us, the citizen - the highest office in the land. By focusing on the issues that unite instead of divide, and organizing with other citizens who meet on common ground, we can reject the status quo and its servants. Instead of seeing ourselves as Republicans or Democrats, we will see ourselves as the 99 percent, united by the crushing inequality, poverty and debt that are by-products of the 1 percent and their policies.
Americorp's executives are dependent on the disinterest and apathy of the shareholders for their continued prosperity.

So, on May 1st, stop being shareholders in Americorp and reclaim your citizenship as Americans. On May 1st, stand as one, and exercise the rights we've always had loudly and proudly. Our rulers should remember that their rule is only valid if we consent to it.




Carl Gibson, 24, of Lexington, Kentucky, is a spokesman and organizer for US Uncut, a nonviolent, creative, direct-action movement to stop budget cuts by getting corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. He graduated from Morehead State University in 2009 with a B.A. in Journalism before starting the first US Uncut group in Jackson, Mississippi, in February of 2011. Since then, over 20,000 US Uncut activists have carried out more than 300 actions in over 100 cities nationwide. You may contact Carl at carl@rsnorg.org.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

EARTH DAY POSTSCRIPT: Start with your car

Every Day should be Earth Day
Earth day is the day we all look at ways we can reduce our carbon footprint. 20% of all greenhouse gases come from automobiles, so it makes sense to start there.

The rising gas prices are causing many people to buy a more fuel efficient vehicle. That is a good thing, not just for the economy. Newer vehicles get better gas mileage and produce less toxic emissions.

Anyone buying a new vehicle should consider donating their older one to charity. The charity will either fix the car so that it is road worthy and passes emissions tests or make sure it is completely recycled. The money it gets will be used to further its mission.

To do twice as much good, donate your old car, boat or RV to our local PBS station, KNAU.  You get a tax deduction and KNAU (93.5 FM in Payson) gets funding for more of the quality programming that is by far the best radio in Rim Country.  To donate go to http://www.knau.org or call 866-789-TMCP (Take My Car Please). 

Anyone not replacing their car can still help the environment by making it greener. Keeping it tuned up, the tires inflated and changing the air filter often will produce up to a 25% improvement in gas mileage. 


A less toxic anti-freeze is now available that is 65% less toxic. New life-time wiper blades are available that are not made from petroleum based rubber. They are 100% recyclable. There are many non-toxic cleaning products for both the outside and interior of the car. 

While Earth Day is a good day to concentrate on cleaning up and protecting the environment, it is a practice that should be continued every day of the year. 

(Don't want to boast, but your Gazette Blog editor did not start his car all weekend.)

We can't trade freedom for security

GEORGE TEMPLETON
COMMENTARY
By George Templeton
Gazette Columnist

Poincare
“Every act should have an aim.  We must suffer, we must work, we must pay for our place at the game, but this is for seeing’s sake; or at least that others may one day see.  All that is not thought is pure nothingness; since we can think only thoughts and all the words we use to speak of things can express only thoughts, to say that there is something other than thought, is therefore an affirmation which can have no meaning.  And yet – strange contradiction for those who believe in time – geologic history shows us that life is only a short episode between two eternities of death, and that, even in this episode, conscious thought has lasted and will last only a moment.  Thought is only a gleam in the midst of a long night.  But it is this gleam that is everything.”

Jefferson
Like Poincare, Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, favored human reason and experience over faith, dogma, and revelation, but having stubbed his toe on a rock he might have suspected that reality was more than just thought!

Jefferson was a deist who rejected much of traditional Christianity.  His 46 page Jefferson Bible edited out those portions that he felt were superstition, mythical, and the work of man.  Jefferson’s God created the laws of the universe, let it run, and was not a personal God controlling history. 

Though they believed in “Providence” and in the importance of a religious plurality for moral guidance, our founding fathers wanted to prevent the rise to power of any single dominating religion.  They had no intention of creating a Christian nation.  For example, the senate ratified the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli that states “The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion”.  The approximately 175,000 word Federalist Papers, considered the best authority on the Constitution, never mentions “Jesus” or “Christian.”

Jefferson believed that a wall between church and state was necessary to protect us from political and religious oppression and that an alliance between church and state could evolve into the divine right of kings.  For Jefferson, religion was a private matter like marriage, not to be broadcast by boastful politicians who compete on the intensity of their religious devotion and faith. 

Conservatives claim the God of the Declaration is exclusively a Christian God and try to force public schools to teach their revisionist version of divinely inspired constitutional history.

Mountaintop
Perhaps you have climbed to the top of a mountain on a clear day where you could see forever and experienced exhilaration, awe, and wonder and then you tried to capture that on a photo.  No camera, lens, or film will replicate the experience.  We scan the surroundings, feel the cool breeze, smell the flowers, and hear the sounds.  The mind integrates the senses and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  So it is with our sacred constitution because “at the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

Separation
The origin of the idea that church and state are different and should be separate can be traced to the teachings of Christ and to the persecutions endured by the early church.
The WWII German theologian, Bonhoeffer, in his notes on Ethics, explains “The American democracy is not founded on the emancipated man but, quite on the contrary, upon the Kingdom of God” and that it “… cannot be built by the authority of the state, but only by congregation of the faithful.”

When the church becomes part of government the rights of minorities are imperiled.  The danger is not unilateral.  As in Iran, government can bow to the tyranny of the clergy.

Politics
Fundamentalist politicians wrap themselves in the flag while proclaiming the cross.  They pick issues in order to promote a constitutional crisis.  Looking toward the clouds for guidance from on high, they find it unnecessary to understand the personal consequences of their decisions.  They use popular religion to boost their quest for power, claiming that they are the defenders of spirituality.  They ignore ambiguities and details and make evildoers of those who disagree, claiming that they are moral and represent the American people and you do not.  The American way is about religious freedom and pluralism, not dogmatism and coercion.  We have a right to act on our beliefs, but not to construct “a Bible-based social, political, and religious order that .. denies the religious enemies of God.”

We cannot be a truly Christian nation even though many Americans find a unified source of meaning there.  The disputes between Protestants and Catholics, the persecution of Mormons, the fights between Sunnis and Shia, the Serbian-Muslim genocide, the Jewish holocaust, and Jerusalem disputed from the time of the crusades testify to this.  The truth is that when we think we can unite together to oppose abortion, birth-control and gay marriage, we are practicing politics, not religion.

Spiritual
Religion is about truth, not lies and exaggerations.  Politics is about the power of the few over the many.  Religious fervor can become a shield to deflect reasoned criticism of overly simplistic emotional policies that are not supported with factual information.  The intent of our Founding Fathers was not to claim a covenant with the almighty or create a “born again” sacred Christian nation that expurgates rampant secular drift.

Secularism is not a veiled ideology conspiring to persecute Christians that is legitimized by constitutional neutrality.  It is not Republican or Democrat, not conservative or liberal.  It makes no claim about the approaching battle for Jerusalem, provides no criteria for deciding between right and wrong, no personal vision of identity and no coherent program for concrete action.  Secularism forces nothing on religion and does not prevent individual prayer in public school.  The faithful are not being fed to the lions.  Government encourages and supports religion in many ways.

Science is not anti-religious bigotry.  We pay the high price of ignorance when we ignore respected scientists, instead believing politicians, nonprofessionals, and special interest organizations.

Keeping religion out of public life does not amount to an assault on spirituality, though it hinders proselytization.

Dilemma
Our culture seems infatuated by moral decadence and confused about whether we are the problem or the solution.  We seek redemption through undemocratic acts.  It is ironic that the forces of greed, envy, and fear are used to condescendingly promote intolerant coercive laws in the name of freedom, and morality, and that deception is used to sow discord.

Mixing government and church runs the risk of church abuse by government and facilitates the moral and theological legitimization of unholy federal programs.  America’s power does not justify a messianic mission to remake other nations in our image, or vindicate a moral duty to enforce world-wide justice.  The constitution may be an example of God’s grace, but does that give us license for torture and unilateral preemptive war?  America is proclaimed an exceptional nation that owes no apology to anyone.  When patriotism becomes pride, the greatest of the seven deadly sins, humility, empathy and diplomacy are falsely claimed to be signs of weakness.   In the lyrics of Jim Reeves, “Forget everything that’s decent have a ball … Ain’t it funny how pride goes before a fall.”

Slippery Slope
Natural law, representing a higher duty and common sense, is more central than man’s law.  However, no particular measurement fully represents justice, liberty, happiness, and prudence.  Comprehensive, clear, consistent, Natural Law, discovered or proclaimed by divine revelation, does not exist though it provided a good argument for defiance of the tyrant King of Great Britain.

Politics is like religion because it is about sacredness.  Morality is commonly linked to religion and through politics shapes laws.  Virtue exists without either.

Philosophic idealism treats morals.  David Hume, who felt that knowledge comes from experience, and Immanuel Kant, who believed in the existence of truths apart from experience, influenced ethical thinking at the time of the Founding Fathers.  Thomas Hobbs, the father of modern political philosophy, and John Lock, the father of liberalism, can be seen in the Declaration of Independence.

Biblical Law has permanent validity, but science, evolutionary thought, historical-critical Biblical analysis, and the study of comparative religions contribute to our quandary.  Culture influences moral ideas even for Biblical literalists who selectively use or ignore religious teachings.  Psychology investigates conscience, arguing that morality varies between cultures and even political parties and that evolution has pre-programmed the brain with feelings that come from the experiences of our ancestors. Moral reasoning is not to find the truth but rather to get ammunition and attack the character of others.  The moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt finds that liberals emphasize care and fairness much more than conservatives who have a more pessimistic view of human nature.  They value group loyalty, respect for tradition, legitimate authority, and purity.

Constitution
Everyone agrees on what the Constitution says but not on what it means.  The Tea Party reads the Constitution to confirm their pre-existing beliefs and to argue for dismantling the federal government.  They claim they know the intent of the founders and would take us back to an 18th century interpretation, allowing our nation to be frozen in time.

The purpose of the Constitution was to replace the Articles of Confederation with a charter that increased federal powers and that allowed necessary future revisions that no one could foresee.  If we followed the intent of the Founding Fathers, and recognized today’s reality, that America must compete globally, we would modify the Constitution to create a federal senator, not beholden to traditional parochial state interests.  Retired presidents could volunteer for this.

Constitutional idolaters have proposed that the source of constitutional authority must be identified for all new legislation.  Unfortunately, the Constitution often raises more questions than it answers and its interpretation is up to the judiciary, not the House.

It is not about rights and wrongs or the explicit condemnation of fundamental research but rather about rights and laws.  It is not about laws insinuating a non-existent problem to provide a future legal foundation for the prohibition of abortion and birth control.  It is not about government passing religious laws concerning marriage or imposing religious dogma on the nation.  The Constitution is not like the Saturday Night Live “church lady” who sees and fears Satan behind every liberty.  It is about being able to make fun of and to laugh at ourselves.  It is about the definition of life, death, and person, organ transplants, surrogate parents, and the implications of understanding the human genome.  It concerns stealth drone terrorism and environmental sustainability.  What decisions will be made by the tyranny of the majority without regard to personal situations? How will power be apportioned between the individual, the doctor, government, and the church?  Can we rely on the courts and Congress?

We must remember that we can’t trade freedom for security or retreat to the past to avoid a heathen present and future, because in the end we will lose everything.