YOUR SOURCE FOR TRUTH

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sanctity of election system should be a passion

BOB EDWARDS
COMMENTARY
 
By Bob Edwards
Gazette Contributor

We the People

June 5, 2012, the day America will decide if we have an America of free elections or an America of controlled elections. 

Through my career I have been involved in many elections, some I liked the result and some I didn’t, but in all cases I was awed by the fact we have a system that lets “We the People” choose the government they desire.

We hold elections on a regular basis requiring those seeking to hold office be tested against the will of the people, and, whether we like the result, we need the assurance that the will of the people will prevail. The sanctity of the election system should be a passion of all Americans who cherish the great freedom this exceptional country affords it citizens.

America is peppered with election impurity and we should constantly be vigilant against any fraud and should go great lengths to insure those voting are eligible to vote. In this same light, we should do all we can to make sure the candidates of our choice comes out on top, but once the election is finished we should make sure they are allowed to serve…any other result, while it may work for some in the short term, is very dangerous. 

Recalls were not a part of the U. S. Constitution but left to the members of Congress and most states operate in a similar manner. Expulsion should be based on a severe failure to uphold the oath of office. It should never be based on a disagreement in philosophy and in all cases should be done with great care. I had the occasion to be involved in the expulsion of a member of the Michigan House of Representatives and it was a difficult and heart wrenching process, as it should be.

In the last few years we have seen moves to impede the identification of voters, which can only be interpreted as a desire to soil the process, since anyone who truly desires the privilege of voting should be willing to provide proof of eligibility.

In 2008, the election for U. S. Senate in Minnesota was an election with a questionable result. Now we find that many felons voted, which may have given a different result than would have happened had the election been non-fraudulent.

Now we see a trend -- that if certain powerful lobbying groups don’t like the result of an election they use their power bases to force new elections.  As citizens of an American based on the will of “We the People,” we should be very afraid of this trend.

Put your patriotism to the test

By Robert Reich
Robert Reich's Blog

rue patriotism isn't cheap. It's about taking on a fair share of the burdens of keeping America going.

Those who earn tens of millions of dollars a year but pay less than 14 percent of their incomes in taxes, and argue the rich should pay even less, are not true patriots.

Those who defend indefensible tax loopholes, such as the "carried interest" loophole that allows private-equity managers to treat their incomes as capital gains even if they risk no income of their own, are not true patriots.

Those who avoid taxes by putting huge amounts of their earnings into IRAs via foreign tax shelters are not true patriots.

Those who want to cut programs that benefit the poor - Food Stamps, child nutrition, Pell grants, Medicaid - so that they can get a tax cut for themselves and their affluent friends - are not true patriots.


Robert Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written thirteen books, including "Locked in the Cabinet," "Reason," "Supercapitalism," "Aftershock," and his latest e-book, "Beyond Outrage." His 'Marketplace' commentaries can be found on publicradio.com and iTunes.

Facebook institutes new user charges

A Message about Facebook

From Founder Mark Zuckerberg

By Andy Borowitz
borowitzreport.com

MENLO PARK, CA (The Borowitz Report) – The following letter to Facebook users was issued today by Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg:

Dear Facebook User,


Hi, it’s Mark.


As you may have heard, our IPO last week didn’t go quite as well as expected.  How badly did it go, exactly?  If you live in a major city, you’ve probably seen homeless guys huddled around bonfires of Facebook stock.  More ominously, I just received a call from my attorney telling me that I probably didn’t need a prenup after all.


If you’re a Facebook investor, you already know what this means: it sucks to be you.  But what if you’re one of the billion Facebook users in the world?  Well, it also sucks to be you, because I am writing to you now to ask for your financial support to help save Facebook.


It's only fair.  Since its founding in 2004, Facebook has totally revolutionized the way you waste your life.  Without it, you would find yourself in the unpleasant and awkward position of having to speak to your family.  And so, to keep Facebook alive, I am instituting the following new usage charges:


-- $1 per poke

-- $5 for every ex you crop out of a profile picture

-- $10 for every time you stalk someone from high school, college, or job you were fired from because of that HR “incident”

-- $15 for every “friend” you have never met (no charge for friends you know, if any)

-- $20 for every sheep, bird, or the Scrabble letters Z, X or Q


With your financial help, Facebook should be around for many years to come, providing you with hours upon hours of pointless and isolating activity.  Without your help?  I’ve just got one word for you: Friendster.


Help me,

Mark

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Walking cactus among top 10 new species

The top 10 new species list was announced May 23 by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University. The 2012 list includes a teensy attack wasp, night-blooming orchid, underworld worm, ancient “walking cactus” creature, blue tarantula, Nepalese poppy, giant millipede, sneezing monkey, fungus named for a TV cartoon character and a beautiful but venomous jellyfish.
Composite by Sara Pennak/International Institute for Species Exploration/Arizona State University

The International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University and a committee of scientists from around the world announced their picks for the top 10 new species described in 2011. This is the fifth year for the top 10 new species list, which was released May 23 to coincide with the anniversary of the birth of Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist who was responsible for the modern system of plant and animal names and classifications.

On this year’s top 10 new species list are a sneezing monkey, a beautiful but venomous jellyfish, an underworld worm and a fungus named for a popular TV cartoon character. The top 10 new species also include a night-blooming orchid, an ancient walking cactus creature and a tiny wasp. Rounding out this year’s list are a vibrant poppy, a giant millipede and a blue tarantula.

“The top 10 is intended to bring attention to the biodiversity crisis and the unsung species explorers and museums who continue a 250-year tradition of discovering and describing the millions of kinds of plants, animals and microbes with whom we share this planet,” said Quentin Wheeler, an entomologist who directs the International Institute for Species Exploration at ASU.

Members of the international committee who made their selection from more than 200 nominations look for “species that capture our attention because they are unusual or because they have traits that are bizarre,” said Mary Liz Jameson, an associate professor at Wichita State University who chaired the international selection committee. “Some of the new species have interesting names; some highlight what little we really know about our planet,” she said.

Images and other information about the top 10 new species, including the explorers who made the discoveries and recorded them in calendar year 2011, are online at http://species.asu.edu. Also at the site is a Google world map that pinpoints the location for each of the top 10 new species. This year’s top 10 come from Brazil, Myanmar, the Dutch Caribbean, South Africa, Papua New Guinea, Spain, Borneo, Nepal, China and Tanzania.

Describing the discoveries
Sneezing monkey: Since 2000, the number of mammals discovered each year averages about 36. So it was nothing to sneeze at when a new primate came to the attention of scientists conducting a gibbon survey in the high mountains of Myanmar (formerly Burma). Rhinopithecus strykeri, named in honor of Jon Stryker, president and founder of the Arcus Foundation, is the first snub-nosed monkey to be reported from Myanmar and is believed to be critically endangered. It is distinctive for its mostly black fur and white beard and for sneezing when it rains. A video of this species in on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1VuRvRv_UU.

Bonaire banded box jelly: This strikingly beautiful yet venomous jellyfish looks like a box kite with colorful, long tails. The species name, Tamoya ohboya, was selected by a teacher as part of a citizen science project, assuming that people who are stung exclaim “Oh boy!” A video of the species, which has been spotted near the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire, is on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcraphPLAxY.

Devil’s worm: Measuring about 0.5 millimeters (1/50 or 0.02 inches) these tiny nematodes are the deepest-living terrestrial multicellular organisms on the planet. They were discovered at a depth of 1.3 kilometers (8/10 mile) in a South African gold mine and given the name Halicephalobus mephisto in reference to the Faust legend of the devil because the new species is found at such a depth in the Earth’s crust and has survived immense underground pressure as well as high temperatures (37 degrees Celsius or 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit). According to its discoverers, carbon dating indicated that the borehole water where this species lives had not been in contact with Earth’s atmosphere for the last 4,000 to 6,000 years.

Night-blooming orchid: A slender night stalker is one way to describe this rare orchid from Papua New Guinea whose flowers open around 10 at night and close early the next morning. It was described by scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Leiden University, who named it Bulbophyllum nocturnum from the Latin word meaning “at night.” It is believed to be the first night-blooming orchid recorded among the more than 25,000 known species of orchids.

Parasitic wasp: Ants beware! This new species of parasitic wasp cruises at just one centimeter (less than half an inch) above the ground in Madrid, Spain, in search of its target: ants. With a target in sight, the teensy wasp attacks from the air like a tiny dive bomber, depositing an egg in less than 1/20 of a second. A video of the wasp, named Kollasmosoma sentum, dropping an egg on its target is on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bpMGhGMWaTA.

SpongeBob SquarePants mushroom: Named Spongiforma squarepantsii, after the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants, this new fungus species looks more like a sponge than a typical mushroom. One of its characteristics is that its fruiting body can be squeezed like a sponge and bounce back to its normal size and shape. This fungus, which smells fruity, was discovered in forests on the island of Borneo in Malaysia.

Nepalese autumn poppy: This vibrant, tall, yellow poppy found in Nepal may have gone undescribed because of its high mountain habitat (10,827 to 13,780 feet). Named Meconopsis autumnalis for the autumn season when the plant flowers, there is evidence that this species was collected before but not recognized as new until intrepid botanists collecting plants miles from human habitation in heavy monsoon rains made the “rediscovery.”

Giant millipede: A giant millipede about the length of a sausage bears the common name “wandering leg sausage,” which also is at the root of its Latin name: Crurifarcimen vagans. The species holds a new record as the largest millipede (16 centimeters or about 6.3 inches) found in one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, Tanzania’s Eastern Arc Mountains. The new species is about 1.5 centimeter (0.6 inch) in diameter with 56 more or less podous rings, or body segments bearing ambulatory limbs, each with two pairs of legs.

Walking cactus (lobopod fossil): Although this new species looks more like a “walking cactus” than an animal at first glance, Diania cactiformis belongs to an extinct group called the armoured Lobopodia, which had wormlike bodies and multiple pairs of legs. The fossil was discovered in Cambrian deposits about 520 million years old from southwestern China and is remarkable in its segmented legs that may indicate a common ancestry with arthropods, including insects and spiders.

Sazima’s tarantula: Breathtakingly beautiful, this iridescent hairy blue tarantula is the first new animal species from Brazil to be named on the top 10 list. Pterinopelma sazimai is not the first or only blue tarantula but truly spectacular and from “island” ecosystems on flattop mountains.

Why a top 10 new species list?
“The more species we discover, the more amazing the biosphere proves to be, and the better prepared we are to face whatever environmental challenges lie ahead,” said the institute’s Wheeler, who also is a professor in ASU’s School of Sustainability and its School of Life Sciences.

“It is impossible to do justice to the species discoveries made each year by singling out just 10. Imagine being handed 18,000 newly published books packed with fantastic information and stories and before having the opportunity to read them, being asked to pick the best 10,” Wheeler said. “With the help of an international committee of experts we do the best we can by picking those with flashy jackets, surprising titles and unexpected plot lines in an effort to draw attention to the whole lot.

“There are many reasons to discover and describe species, and draw attention to this work. Perhaps most obvious is environmental: Unless we know what species exist to begin with, we are powerless to detect, track or mitigate losses of biodiversity,” said Wheeler. “Another is biomimetics, turning to species for clues about new and sustainable ways to meet our needs for survival, materials and designs. There is also an intergenerational ethical imperative for species exploration. Because human population levels and activities are driving extinctions, we owe to humans who follow to explore and document our flora and fauna.

“Each species provides a unique chapter in the history of life and unless we discover them now, we stand to lose an enormous amount of irreplaceable evidence about our own origins and relatives,” said Wheeler, who is one of an international group of 39 scientists, scholars and engineers who provided a detailed plan in the March 30 issue of the journal Systematics and Biodiversity to chart 10 million species in less than 50 years, and called it a necessary step to sustain the planet’s biodiversity.

Marking the May 23 birth of Linnaeus
The annual top 10 new species announcement commemorates the anniversary of the birth of Carolus Linnaeus, who initiated the modern system of plant and animal names and classifications. The 300th anniversary of his birth on May 23 was celebrated worldwide in 2007.

Since Linnaeus initiated the modern systems for naming plants and animals in the 18th century, nearly 2 million species have been named, described and classified. Scientists estimate there are between 8 million and 100 million species on Earth, though most set the number between 8 million to 12 million.

The list of the top 10 new species is issued annually by ASU’s International Institute for Species Exploration as part of its public awareness campaign to shine attention on biodiversity and the field of taxonomy. Previous top 10 lists are online at http://species.asu.edu.

Taxon experts pick top 10
“The top 10 new species is all about exploration and discovery,” said committee chair Jameson, “and learning more about our planet. Lewis and Clark’s discoveries included the pronghorn antelope, prairie dog and prairie rose – 250 species altogether. But our job is far from over. We need the help of citizens and scientists alike to meet this grand challenge.”

Nominations for this year’s top 10 list were invited through the species.asu.edu website and also generated by institute staff and committee members.
“We had well over 200 new species nominated this year, and from those, we picked some fascinating “critters,” said Jameson.

“Members on the committee come from many places around the world and from many backgrounds, so we bring our own biases to the process; some of us like photosynthesizers, some like predators, some like ocean dwelling critters,” she said.
“Committee members had complete freedom in making their choices and developing their own criteria, from unique attributes or surprising facts about the species to peculiar names,” Wheeler noted. “I deeply appreciate the taxon experts who gave their knowledge and time to select this year’s top 10. By sharing their passion for exploring the biosphere and discovering species, they spread the recognition and appreciation of the critical roles played by taxonomy, botanical gardens and natural history museums in biodiversity exploration and conservation.”

How many really died "Defending our freedoms"

LETTERLETTERLETTER
Editor,
I understand the sentiment and I too thank those who served in Iraq (and other unnecessary wars) for serving—and those who died for sacrificing. But, let us call a spade a spade; it is at least questionable how many service members died after the Second World War actually “defending our freedoms.”
Alan R. Hudson

Monday, May 28, 2012

Blind dissident already sick of Kardashians


May 20, 2012
By Andy Borowitz
borowitzreport.com

NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report) - In his first interview since arriving in America, blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng told reporters today that he is grateful to be in the United States but is already “sick of these Kardashians.”

“Who are they, and what do they do?” Chen asked.  “I have asked these questions of many people, and no one will answer me.  It seems to be some kind of state secret.”


After being monitored for years by Chinese authorities, Chen said he finds the omnipresence of the Kardashians “troubling.”


“It almost feels as though I have traded one kind of tyranny for another,” he said.


The dissident said that if the Chinese government knew about the outsize role the Kardashians played in American life “they’d wonder what sort of country they’d bought.”


Chen said that since he had just arrived in New York he would reserve judgment about other aspects of life in the United States, but he did leave reporters with one final observation: “This Facebook IPO seems like total bullshit to me.”

Democrats prepare to open Payson headquarters

Saturday, June 2 has been scheduled for the Grand Opening of the Democratic Headquarters (in the old location of Red Elephant Bakery on AZ 87 near Circle K South). We have contacted and invited all of our candidates. We will serve refreshments between 11:30AM  to 2:00PM.  Please join us to meet our candidates and enjoy your Democractic friends and neighbors.  (Editor's note: If the GOP will send us info we will be happy to post it.  Unlike some media outlets in town, we try to be fair to both sides.)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Office kitchens, break rooms are germ havens

Microwave
Microwave door handles are among the dirtiest places in office kitchens and break rooms, a new study has found.

If you thought the restroom was the epicenter of workplace germs, you don't want to know about office break rooms and kitchens.

The place where U.S. workers eat and prepare their lunches topped the list of office germ hot spots, with the sink and microwave door handles found to be the dirtiest surfaces touched by office workers on a daily basis. 

Aided by a noted University of Arizona microbiologist, the findings are from a study carried out by Kimberly-Clark Professional that is believed to be one of the most detailed and comprehensive studies ever conducted on identifying workplace hot spots where germs can lurk. 

Hygienists from Kimberly-Clark Professional The Healthy Workplace Project collected nearly 5,000 individual swabs from office buildings housing more than 3,000 employees.

The participating office buildings represented a broad cross-section of office "types" including manufacturing facilities, law firms, insurance companies, health-care companies and call centers. 

According to the study, which was carried out in consultation with Charles Gerba a professor of soil, water and environmental science at the UA, the percentage of the office surfaces found to have high levels of contamination (an adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, count of 300 or higher) includes: 
  •     75 percent of break room sink faucet handles
  •     48 percent of microwave door handles
  •     27 percent of keyboards
  •     26 percent of refrigerator door handles
  •     23 percent of water fountain buttons
  •     21 percent of vending machine buttons
In addition, half of all computer mice and desk phones were found to have ATP levels above 100, suggesting that while people appear to be taking more responsibility for the cleanliness of their personal spaces, there is still a need for increased awareness of the importance of hand and surface hygiene in the office.

The bottom line? Office workers are potentially being exposed to illness-causing bacteria in their own lunchrooms, as well as elsewhere around the office.

"People are aware of the risk of germs in the restroom, but areas like break rooms have not received the same degree of attention," said Gerba. "This study demonstrates that contamination can be spread throughout the workplace when office workers heat up lunch, make coffee or simply type on their keyboards."

Because kitchens and personal work spaces can become instantly re-contaminated, employers need to arm their employees with the knowledge and tools necessary to reduce the spread of germs. Simple solutions, like placing sanitizing wipes in kitchens and providing employees with easy access to hand sanitizers, underscored by education in hand and surface hygiene, can serve as the impetus to engage employees in maintaining a healthy office environment.

"This study demonstrates that contamination is all over the workplace and has the potential to reach people where they eat and prepare food, as well as elsewhere," said Brad Reynolds, North American platform leader, The Healthy Workplace Project, Kimberly-Clark Professional. "No one can avoid it entirely, but by washing, wiping and sanitizing, employees can reduce their rates of cold, flu and stomach illness by up to 80 percent."

Using a Hygiena SystemSURE IITM ATP Meter, a device commonly used to monitor sanitary conditions in industry, hygienists swabbed the objects to measure levels ATP. ATP is present in all animal, vegetable, bacteria, yeast and mold cells.

Detection of ATP indicates the presence of contamination by any of these sources. Everyday objects with an ATP reading of 300 or higher are considered to have a high risk for illness transmission. Objects with an ATP reading between 100 and 300 suggest room for improvement in the cleanliness level.

The Healthy Workplace Project is a multi-faceted program designed by Kimberly-Clark Professional to help companies provide their employees with a healthier and more productive office environment. It offers a unique approach to hand and surface hygiene that helps employees understand how germs are transmitted to help stop their spread throughout the workplace.

The program provides educational materials in conjunction with hand and surface hygiene products to employees, arming them with the tools and knowledge necessary to break the cycle of germ transmission in the office. By reinforcing the importance of washing, wiping and sanitizing through The Healthy Workplace Project, employers can help reduce that impact.

Arizona: Government by Crackpots

Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. (photo: AP)

By Timothy Egan
The New York Times
25 May 12

e interrupt reality to bring you Arizona, once known as the Grand Canyon state. So glorious, this home to sublime cacti and ugly javelina, an outdoor stage for the high histrionics of geologic time, but so very, very crazy. Even a spate of recent temperatures in the 105-degree range cannot explain the latest doings of government by crackpots.

Let’s start with the secretary of state, a wide-eyed fellow named Ken Bennett. He is Arizona’s chief elections officer. He is a Republican. He is also co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s campaign in Arizona. Recently, a few hundred people who probably spend their lives searching the Internet looking for proof that the moon landing was fake asked Mr. Secretary of State to investigate the birth certificate of the president of the United States.

Bennett got right on it. He put the full force of his office to work on a nonissue that was resolved for all but the looniest of tunes months ago. And, at the height of his “investigation,” just last week, he threatened to keep Obama off the ballot if his questions were not answered to his satisfaction.

In response, more than 17,000 people this week put their names on an online petition asking the secretary of state to investigate whether Mitt Romney is a unicorn. Surprisingly, Bennett has not been sniffing around rainbows, nor recruiting maidens with expertise in medieval folklore to crack the unicorn question.

By midweek, Bennett had folded the circus tent, after Hawaiian officials pointed him to the same public documents proving the president’s American birth that have been around since baby Barack took his first step. “If I embarrassed the state, I apologize,” Bennett said Tuesday night.

A headline in the Arizona Republic - “Once Again, Arizona is the Nation’s Laughingstock” - was too kind. A reader, Steve Lagin of Phoenix, commenting on Bennett’s foray, said he planned to order his new personalized Arizona license plates: “The Dumb and Dumber State.”

Dumber is another duly elected official, Sheriff Joe Arpaio. You know Sheriff Joe - he’s on Fox News constantly, providing a balance to the conspiracy theorists who don’t have a badge. He is Maricopa County’s top law enforcement officer.

Arpaio is now spending taxpayer money doing what a small group of Tea Party birthers have asked him to do. The sheriff sent a deputy, along with his volunteer “posse,” to Hawaii to look into what he believes is a conspiracy to dupe the American people into believing that their president is an American. The sheriff knows better.
“We feel that document is a forgery,” he said of Obama’s long-form birth certificate, in an interview with the Republic. “We’re trying to figure out who did it. That’s good police work.”

Good police work and Sheriff Joe Arpaio do not go hand in hand. For years, his office has been flooded with complaints about terrible response time by deputies and his mediocre record at solving major crimes. He is also under investigation by the Justice Department for targeting Latinos and those who speak out against his extracurricular crusades.

Arpaio was Bennett’s inspiration. Bennett wants to be governor in the worst way, and for that he can look at the top of the electoral pyramid in Arizona to Jan Brewer. She once blanked out in dead-air silence when asked during a televised debate what she would do for the people of Arizona. They rewarded her with the governor’s office. Brewer was last seen on an airport tarmac wagging her finger at the commander in chief.

A few days ago, Brewer vetoed a bill aimed at promoting community service by high school students. This proposal would have allowed kids who do more than 200 hours of good deeds to receive an official commendation on their transcripts - a way to boost their chances of getting into college, supporters said. Brewer does not think government should be rewarding students this way, but she does think government should be able to stop people and ask them to prove their citizenship.

She’s gone to France now, on a taxpayer-funded mission to convince Europeans that Arizona is a good place to relocate. Brewer thinks that going to Paris on the public’s dime is something that government should do, especially when it’s 110 degrees in Phoenix.

There’s no mystery what a nation run by the Tea Party and talk-radio zealots who’ve taken over the G.O.P. would look like. It would be Arizona. This state used to have a very popular governor, Jan Napolitano, who held back the wackos. But once she left to become secretary of homeland security, the statehouse was left without a stronghold of sanity.

The voters occasionally say they’ve had enough. Russell Pearce, the man behind the show-your-papers immigration law, was ousted in a recall last November. That election was an anomaly. The people who now control the state are proof of the old saying that in a democracy, voters get what they deserve.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Greece to become a social network

By Andy Borowitz
borowitzreport.com

ATHENS (The Borowitz Report) – After struggling for months with an intractable financial crisis, Greece announced today that it would cease to exist as a sovereign nation and would instead reboot itself as a social network.

The new entity, FetaBook, is expected to raise much-needed billions in an upcoming IPO.


The social network formerly known as Greece announced that it would cancel its upcoming elections and instead install a CEO, a 24-year-old hacker from suburban Athens named Ciro Mavromatidis.


Speaking from the newly opened offices of FetaBook, Mr. Mavromatidis explained how the social network would be attractive to the investment community in ways that Greece was not.


“We’re keeping all the aspects of Greece that made it a cool brand – the ruins, the Olympics, the olives,” he said.  “We’re just losing the things that were a drag on the Greek economy: namely, the Greeks.”


He said under the new plan, all Greeks would cease to be citizens of Greece and would instead become friends of FetaBook: “They won’t receive any government benefits anymore, but they’ll be able to grow all the imaginary food they want.”


Mr. Mavromatidis said that by converting from a nation to a social network, FetaBook will enjoy other cost savings as well.


“We Greeks waste billions of dollars a year smashing plates after meals,” he said.  “Now that’s going to be done by an app.”

Guns more deadly in AZ than traffic accidents

By BRANDON ROSS
Cronkite News Service
 
WASHINGTON – More Arizonans were killed by guns in 2009 than in motor-vehicle incidents, evidence of the need for stricter gun laws, according to a report released this week.

The report by the Violence Policy Center said Arizona was one of 10 states where firearm deaths outstripped traffic deaths in 2009, the most recent year for which numbers were available.

“Arizona needs to start looking seriously at the fact that it has a major gun-violence problem,” said Kristen Rand, legislative director for the center.
But an Arizona lawmaker who supports gun rights criticized the report’s “apple-and-oranges” comparison that he said was simply designed to influence firearms legislation.

State Sen. Frank Antenori, R-Vail, said it is unfair to compare gun-related deaths to motor-vehicle deaths because most gun deaths are not accidental.

“Do you use a car in self-defense?” Antenori asked hypothetically.

The report, released Tuesday, said traffic deaths fell 43 percent between 1966 and 2000 because of “the combined efforts of government and advocacy organizations.” It argued that gun deaths would also fall if firearms were subject to federal health and safety regulations like other consumer goods.

“The historic drop in motor-vehicle deaths illustrates how health and safety regulation can reduce deaths and injuries that were at one time thought to be unavoidable,” it said.

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, cited speed limits, licensing of drivers and laws against drinking and driving as examples of government regulations that make it safer to use a motor vehicle.

“When you can have reasonable oversight of something and reasonable safety regulations you can prevent bad things from happening,” Gross said.

While traffic deaths have fallen nationwide, gun deaths have been largely unchanged. If the trend continues, the report said, firearm fatalities could exceed motor vehicle deaths nationally unless there is further federal regulation.

“The bottom line is, can gun deaths be prevented in the same way that automobiles have been?” asked Gross. “Yes. Sensible policies and industry regulations have made cars safer.”

Antenori said it was consumer demand, not government regulation, that has made automobiles safer over time. A gun is “only as safe as the individual that uses it,” Antenori said.

He ridiculed the findings as a “study designed to influence policy for an agenda” – tighter regulations on firearms.

But Rand said the report points to a real problem. Given the uses of cars and guns, and the face that people encounter cars far more often, it makes it “more remarkable” that Arizona gun deaths outpace motor-vehicle deaths.

“Arizona is going in the absolute wrong direction,” she said, pointing to recent laws loosening restrictions on guns.


Top Guns
10 states where firearm deaths exceeded motor-vehicle deaths in 2009
- Alaska: 104 gun deaths, 84 traffic deaths
- Arizona: 856 to 809
- Colorado: 583 to 565
- Indiana: 735 to 715
- Michigan: 1095 to 977
- Nevada: 406 to 255
- Oregon: 417 to 394
- Utah: 260 to 256
- Virginia: 836 to 827
- Washington: 623 to 580

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Pine hosts Memorial Day Arts Festival

   32nd Annual Memorial Day Arts & Crafts Festival   
May 26, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m./May 27, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Pine Community Center, Pine, AZ., on Highway 87 and Randall Place in beautiful Pine, AZ. We are 13 miles north of Payson or a scenic 90 minute drive from Phoenix,centrally located, in “the heart of Arizona.”

Come enjoy our two-day Arts & Crafts Festival in the mountains with over 80 juried art booths by talented artists and crafters. ALL ITEMS ARE QUALITY, HAND CRAFTED AND MADE IN THE USA.

You will find everything from stained glass, original art, wood, metal and copper items, pottery, hand woven baskets, recyled denim purses and other items, and much more - all in the peace and quiet of paradise. Pure air and spectacular scenery amidst ponderosa pines and friendly people. Visit our antique shops, old farm-houses, quaint restaurants, and specialty stores, or take a hike with spectacular views of the Rim above and the mountain ranges below.

While here, we invite you to visit the Pine-Strawberry Arts & Crafts Guild Boutique, adjacent to the Pine Senior Center Thrift Store to see wonderful arts and crafts demonstrations, meet local artists, see their work, and sign the Guest Book.

For further information please visit our web site at: http://pinestrawberryartscrafts.com, email coolpc68@hotmail.com, or call (928) 978-0469 or (928) 476-6537 (leave message).

Egypt gets emergency shipment of attack ads


By Andy Borowitz
 CAIRO (The Borowitz Report) – In what it is calling a mission to support a fledgling democracy in the Middle East, the United States this week sent an emergency shipment of negative ads to Cairo.

 Explaining the secret mission, a State Department official said that with its first democratic elections getting underway, “Egypt had no access to the mother’s milk of any working democracy: vicious campaign ads full of lies and distortions.”

Starting at dawn on
Sunday, U.S. Army paratroopers descended on the Middle Eastern nation armed with pamphlets, flyers, and DVDs of TV ads full of libelous falsehoods about Egypt’s presidential candidates.

Harland Dorrinson, the U.S. Undersecretary of State for the Middle East, said teaching Egyptian politicians the basics of character assassination was “an important first step” in supporting democracy in Egypt, but stressed that “much work still needs to be done.”


“Right now, there’s no apparatus for major companies to funnel billions of dollars directly to political campaigns,” he said.  “Until corporations have total control over the outcome of elections, we won’t be able to say that Egypt has a functioning democracy like ours.”


But Mr. Dorrinson remained upbeat, saying he has seen early signs that democracy may be taking hold in Egypt: “Already, they’re calling one of the presidential candidates a Muslim.”


Elsewhere, a new study shows that congressmen speak English at a 10
th grade level, which means that the U.S. is being governed by children who were left behind.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Conservatives want corporate profits, not jobs

GEORGE TEMPLETON
COMMENTARY
By George Templeton
Gazette Columnist
Economics
The New Testament states that the “love of money is the root of all evil.”  George Bernard Shaw claims that “Lack of money is the root of all evil.”

Collapse
Michael Lewis in his book Boomerang claims “… when everyone is guilty no one is…  It isn’t a problem with government; it’s a problem with the entire society.”  But what came first, the chicken or the egg?
 
“A phantom is something that appears to be but has no real or physical existence.  Like an apparition, a shadow, a dream, or a vision, a phantom is not what it seems to be.”   Phantom wealth caused the Great Depression and the Great Recession.  Economists describe the appearance of this phantom in detail but sometimes it is more propaganda than science.  Will economic policy create prosperity and jobs?

Classical
Classical economics holds that the forces of supply and demand will solve all problems.  Rational man forces free markets to make the right things, at the right price, the right way, in the right proportions, for the right people.   The dark clouds of recession and creative destruction have a silver lining because they encourage necessary adaptations in lifestyle.  There can be no government intervention.  It is all up to Adam Smith’s unseen hand to steer the course of national wealth.  Government’s only responsibility is to balance the budget.

Keynes
John Maynard Keynes came to the rescue when classical economics could neither explain nor solve the Great Depression.  He believed that recessions resulted primarily from investor confidence and expectations.  His theory claimed that the free market could not be counted on to provide full employment and that it resulted in an “arbitrary and inequitable distribution of wealth and income”.  Keynes, an avid capitalist, focused on demand and emphasized fiscal policy (spending and taxes).

Keynes provided the rational for temporary, large scale government action such as Roosevelt’s public works program to make jobs.  These reversed the Depression and grew the GDP but a decade later had not completely restored the economy.  That required WWII military-industrial spending, proving that government can make jobs that don’t go away.
Conservatives don’t believe in stimulus.  They claim that Keynes knew nothing about economics.  They look at the speck of sawdust in their brother’s eye and ignore the plank in their own.  Modern economics is not about a world that used to be.  Cutting government, taxes, and regulations won’t do the trick.  Right wing ideology replaces common sense when it refuses to deal with real, concrete problems because it would destroy incentives to those winners who don’t need help.

Friedman    
Milton Friedman’s demand side theory is called monetarism. It focuses on how policies influence the stock of money and the rate at which it circulates in the economy.   Friedman followed a different path than Keynes but was mostly in agreement with him.  He emphasized monetary policy (money supply, interest rates) and introduced the idea that employment could be temporarily increased by lowering interest rates, taxes, and increasing the money supply.  Profit increases when prices rise faster than wages.  Kept too long into boom times, this policy leads to simultaneous high inflation and unemployment called stagflation, forcing the government to choose between raising interest rates to fight inflation and lowering them to restore growth.

An effective stimulus depends on the dynamic state of the economy.  Debates about delays in getting data, the efficacy of monetary versus fiscal policy, the types of taxes and their short and long term consequences are irrelevant when ideological disagreement results in stalemate and inaction.

Supply-Side   
No economic theory is complete without consideration of the forces of both supply and demand. There are thousands of variables that affect the economy in the complex computer models used by economists.

The supply side “field of dreams” is what every entrepreneur wants to portray to potential venture capital investors, but we must remember it is high risk and slow acting.  It took 35 years for Apple to grow to a company with one million employees in China.

Republiconomy
Supply side magic is based on the idea that economic performance depends almost totally on tax cuts provided to wealthy investors and entrepreneurs who can afford to make contributions.  The tremendous growth of the business lobby and super packs is because of their “no taxes” ideology.  Republicans have incorporated big business political power into government, outsourcing legislative tasks (immigrant detention prisons, and gun legislation) to them.  The price paid by lobbyists is to support party dogma.

If the Clinton budget surplus was a tax surplus caused by over-charging the public, then a budget deficit must be a tax deficit.  David Stockman and Alan Greenspan saw how tax cuts lead to budget deficits and that economic growth does not pay for the cuts.  When times are uncertain the public saves instead of spending their tax refund.

Politicians announce tax cuts and implement sneaky tax increases such as Governor Brewer’s leap in the tax rate for second homes.  Higher taxes on the wealthy existed during extended periods of American growth.  Few predicted the economic expansion following the Great Depression when the top marginal tax rate was 79 to 94%.  Under Eisenhower the rate was 91% and 77% when Nixon became president.  Will Bunch’s book Tear Down This Myth documents how a pragmatic Reagan cut taxes when he came into office but had to raise them in 1982, 1983, and 1984 to control the deficit.  His 1986 Tax Reform Act cut the top tax rate but raised corporate tax and abolished preferential treatment for income from capital gains and investments.  The internet boom came after Clinton’s 90’s increase.

We suspect that taxes are not the strong variable that Republicans claim it is, or that they are not independent of interactions with other variables.

Democonomy
The Democratic demand-side economics holds that economic performance depends almost totally on the purchasing power of the masses.  The demand for services can be increased by a reverse income tax where the government gives money to citizens to make certain that they can afford to spend.  This is the economics practiced when Bush gave us a tax refund.
Class war is any policy that impacts groups differently.  The “No Amnesty” battle prevents integrating twelve million immigrants into the economy and hurts us.  The claim that democracy can only be preserved by preventing wealth redistribution reveals jealousy and a distrust of majority rule.  Wealth redistribution exists whenever a creditor makes a loan.  If inflation rises above the interest rate of the loan, the debtor wins and if it is less the creditor wins.

Common Sense
Civilizations have to adapt to changing circumstances.  Job opportunities must address:
(1)    Behaviors that are not sustainable and the belief that the distant future will resemble the past 
It’s not out of control spending.  It’s out of control trade-deficit that kills jobs and magnifies the national debt.  We have to make things in America and sell to other nations.  When we borrow to support a life-style we can’t afford, buying from other nations instead of selling to them, we are feeding the phantom and gradually draining our wealth away.  Climate change and world growth guarantee jobs implementing renewable energy efficiency.  Denial is a failing strategy.
  
(2)    A world of growing complexity, and interdependence 

Robert Shiller’s book The New Financial Order lays the foundation for risk avoidance using computer data mining, psychology, and mathematics to create financial instruments such as futures, options, and swaps.  Who understands the tax code, variable annuities, investments, and health care?  Many Americans need help to plan for retirement.  Government can nurture private financial planners.  Health care can shift from disease management to prevention, requiring nurses, technicians, counselors, and the gym.In the old days, modernization meant giving up neighborhood, family, and friends for the job.  In a world flattened by global business, jet airplanes and the internet, we give up country and culture as well.  Foreign language skills and higher education are necessary for the jobs of the future.  Forget about “made in America”.  Today’s manufacturing problems are all international incidents.  Interdependence includes the benefits of cheap Chinese imports and the severe erosion of the American economy caused by outsourcing of high-technology well paying manufacturing jobs.  Cheap goods will not make your mortgage payment.

(3)  A short-term outlook that precludes investment in the future 

Young companies, not small ones create jobs.  TV, the transistor, and home      computer have shown how government and big business enables small business to change the life-styles of everyone and grow jobs.   National policy for competitiveness should promote venture capital and technology such as the computing cloud and high-speed internet to better market American products to the world.   

Conservative policy is about corporate profit creation, not job creation.  Regulations are about workers and the community, not just business and finance.  Disease, water, and air pollution know no boundaries.  Political and financial fads leading to lasting damage are not the lifestyle changes we seek.

Government can help by taking steps to gradually reduce the trade deficit with caps and tariffs.  Corporate tax breaks have proven ineffective in keeping American jobs and growing exports.  Now is the time to simplify the tax code and to adjust subsidies to focus on bio-tech and the new creation.  The time to repair our broken infrastructure, repair bridges and roads, and build high speed rail, is now, while things are cheap and labor is plentiful.

Family Values
Liberals question the feasibility of continuous growth in consumption at the expense of quality of life.  Do you agree with economists who hold that the gross national product is a proxy for happiness?  Our general welfare does not always mesh with business interests and cheap goods from China.  What companies want and countries need are different.  Profit should not be the only goal.  Universal maternity leave, early education, and child care are examples of family values.

Because of Tea-Party obstruction, President Obama’s record represents only 2 years following 30 years of dominant conservative policies.  (Alan Greenspan’s book The Age of Turbulence claims that Clinton was a fiscal conservative.)  Their accomplishments left us with economic discontent, unemployment, torture claimed moral and patriotic, and a Jesus who with the help of the Cornwall Alliance condemns the ASU Global Institute of Sustainability for doing more than picking up beer cans and trash.

Responsibilities 
Taxes are not an erosion of freedom.   They come from a sense of responsibility and a desire to preserve domestic tranquility.  Shiller says to ask “… What kind of world would we like to live in if we could choose before we were born, assuming we had an equal probability of being born as anyone?"