Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mop Up on the Fire Line

A “hot shot” crew does mop up work at the Schultz Fire near Flagstaff, AZ, this afternoon. 
The fire started late Sunday morning when a camper apparently left a fire untended. It blew up to more than 8,000 acres by Sunday night and by this evening it had expanded to more than 14,000 acres. 
Arizona’s high country got a lot of snow this winter. All that moisture led to ample weed and brush growth. But it hasn’t rained in the high country since the snow melted and now the weeds are drying out, which creates fuels for wildfires. 
The Schultz Fire initially started near homes on the northeast side of Flagstaff. About 1,000 homes were evacuated Sunday (the evacuation order is expected to be lifted Wednesday morning). Firefighters were very aggressive in their initial attack and while the fire burned into within a few feet of homes, no structures were destroyed. 
There are several fires burning around Flagstaff. It hasn’t rained in weeks, there haven’t been in the thunderstorms or lightening strikes this spring. Which means all these fires are human caused. People leaving camp fires untended. In other words, stupidity.  
There are more photos from the photos from the fire in my archive.

Monday, June 21, 2010

No Longer Refugees

Sunday was World Refugee Day. World Refugee Day has been observed since 2001, when the United Nations General Assembly noted that 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and that the Organization of African Unity (OAU) had agreed to have International Refugee Day coincide with Africa Refugee Day on 20 June. 

In Phoenix, the International Rescue Committee marked the day by sponsoring a naturalization ceremony for 10 former refugees. The new citizens came from Africa and Europe. 

There are more photos from the World Refugee Day naturalization ceremony (andother naturalization ceremonies) in my photo archive or available from ZUMA Press

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Coming Home

Members of the 3666th Maintenance Company of the Arizona Army National Guard came home to heroes’ welcomes Wednesday afternoon. The soldiers have been serving in Iraq. 
Since September 2001, more than 7,000 members of Arizona’s National Guard units have served in support of Operations Nobel Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. While operations in Iraq appear to be winding down, operations in Afghanistan are still ramping up. Some of the soldiers now serving in Afghanistan were in grade school when that war started. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Prayer for Justice

A group of immigrants’ rights and civil rights activists are holding a prayer vigil at the Arizona State Capitol. They gather at 5 AM and pray until 10 PM, when they retire to a nearby Catholic church. The vigil is to draw attention to SB 1070, Arizona’s tough new anti-immigrant law. Civil rights activists are concerned the law will lead to racial profiling and the persecution of Hispanics - citizens, legal residents and undocumented alike. 
Along that line, Sean Hayes, hosting the Tony Awards this evening, landed a good one at Arizona’s expense when he joked with Nathan Lane, who plays Gomez in the Addams Family Musical on Broadway, that being Latino in New York gets you overlooked but being Latino in Arizona gets you pulled over. It may have been a joke, but many Latinos in Arizona are afraid it’s funny because it’s true
A group of like minded people from Anaheim, California, joined the vigil holders Sunday afternoon for a short rally and prayer. About 40 people left SoCal Sunday morning, arrived at the capitol in the middle of afternoon stayed for a couple of hours and then boarded their bus and went home. The trip was scheduled so they wouldn’t have to spend any money here. Like many people across the US, they are boycotting the Grand Canyon State to show their opposition to SB 1070. 
There are more photos from the vigil in my archive and available from ZUMA Press.

SB 1070 Fits to a Tea (Party)

People cheer for Arizona’s State Senator Russell Pearce during a rally to support the Tea Party “Buycott” of Arizona. Arizona’s passage of SB 1070 (a bill Pearce sponsored) has put the state squarely in the crosshairs of the nation’s ongoing immigration debate. 
Opponents of 1070 and immigrants’ rights activists have called for a boycott of Arizona until the law is repealed. Supporters of 1070 and conservative groups like the Tea Party have called for the “buycott” and are encouraging people to come to the Grand Canyon state and spend money. 
There have been weekly events near the state capitol to rally for or protest against 1070, which goes into effect on July 29. There were very large rallies in late May but as summer set in and Phoenix temperatures have gone up into triple digits crowds have gotten smaller. Last weekend there were a couple of thousand 1070 supporters at the capitol. Today there were less than 1,000. 
They listened to conservative anti-immigrant speakers like Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Pearce, former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo and Iowa Congressman Steve King. 
There is much more about SB 1070 on the Arizona Republic web site. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

McCain on the Stump

John McCain has been hitting the campaign trail hard this spring and summer. The long serving Republican Senator has been holding “Town Hall” meetings all over the state. Earlier today he had former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney campaigning with him at Mesa High School in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa. 

They used their time at the microphones to blast the Obama administration (and “liberal media”) on everything from health care to immigration to “big government.” It was kind of entertaining even if most of if what they said was somewhat misleading.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

This Time We Mean It

Mesa City Manager Chris Brady emphasizes that Mesa has figured out how to fund the Chicago Cubs spring training facility during a press conference in Mesa Thursday. 

Back in January a bunch of Arizona Republicans and politicians from the Phoenix suburb of Mesa stood in front of the media and announced that Mesa had figured out a way to keep the Cubs in Mesa for spring training. It’s a big deal because spring training in general, and the Cubs in particular, bring in millions of dollars. 

The deal was based on getting some money from the Tourism and Sports Authority, raising some taxes on services tourists use (rental cars) and a fee on Cactus Leaguetickets.

Almost nobody, except Mesans, liked the deal. Other Cactus League teams didn’t want their fans to pay for the Cubs’ stadium and this is not the year to raise taxes in Arizona’s libertarian leaning legislature. Even taxes that out of state folks pay, so the deal languished in the legislature.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Smiling Sheriff

There was big news in Phoenix today. 

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio met with a group of allegedly undocumented students from Miami, FL., and he didn’t arrest them. The students, who walked from Miami to Washington DC on the “Trail of Dreams” to promote immigration reform, came to Phoenix to meet with “America’s Toughest Sheriff” to try to talk him out of arresting undocumented immigrants when SB 1070 goes into effect of July 29.

The students had a cordial meeting with the sheriff, who was at his most charming. The two sides talked for about 45 minutes in polite, sometimes cheerful, but always serious banter. In the end, both sides essentially agreed to disagree. The students said arresting people because of their immigration status was morally wrong, the sheriff said he was duty bound to uphold the law, and if the law mandates arresting illegal immigrants he was going to arrest illegal immigrants.

The students told members of the media before the meeting that based on their immigration status, they were prepared to be arrested. They even brought a lawyer with them. But the sheriff never came right out and asked the kids what their immigration status is and the students never came out right and said “we’re undocumented” so no one was arrested. 

The room was packed with media people, some from as far away as Spain, who were expecting a confrontation between the students and the sheriff and the students’ subsequent arrest. I think they were a little disappointed that no one was led away in irons.