Monday, September 27, 2010

St. Vincent de Paul Lunch

Today is the 350th Feast Day of St. Vincent de Paul, the “Apostle of Charity.” The society that today bears his name is dedicated to carrying on his work. In Phoenix, theSociety of St. Vincent de Paul serves lunch to about 1,100 people a day. And as the reality of the “Great Recession” that started during the Bush administration continues to grip the Phoenix area, demand for the Society’s services continue to grow. 

It’s an unfortunate twist of fate that the Feast Day of St. Vincent de Paul is being celebrated just days after US Census Bureau reports reveal that in the United States, the richest country in the world, the poverty rate hit 14.3% in 2009. One in seven Americans now live below the poverty line. It’s the highest the poverty rate has been since 1994 and comes at a time when Republicans want to extend tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and limit unemployment benefits to the victims of the Bush recession. Something to think about when the rest of us sit down for dinner tonight. 

There are more photos from St. Vincent de Paul in my archive and available fromZUMA Press.

The Eternal Question

A woman opposed to Sen John McCain’s stance on the war in Afghanistan, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) and the DREAM Act, pickets the front of KTVK TV in Phoenix Sunday night. 
People have been debating the spending of government resources - guns vs. butter, education vs. military for decades. For his part, McCain falls squarely on the guns/military side of the equation.  
About 200 people from several human rights and anti war groups picketed the TV station during a debate between the McCain and his election opponents. McCain sped by them without stopping to talk to them or allay their concerns. One of the demonstrators tried to chase down the Senator’s car, but she was stopped by Phoenix police. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Clearing the Room

Earlier this week I went on a ride along for the Arizona Republic with the Phoenix Police Department’s “Major Offender Unit.” Their mission is to go after known felony offenders who have a variety of outstanding warrants, from fraud and identity theft to gun and drug charges and everything in between. 
Normally ride alongs are pretty sedate affairs. It’s hours of boredom, with, if you’re lucky, a few minutes of excitement. But this one was different. It was hours of excitement with a few minutes to catch our breath in between arrests. I was with the unit for four hours and they made five felony arrests in that time. And the four hours included our lunch break. 
A good day for the detectives, who made some good arrests (including a member of Hell’s Angels, who was busted for possessing a prohibited weapon, in this case a shotgun with a barrel shorter than 18 inches). And a good day for me because I was able to make a nice selection of photos. I made the photo above while officers cleared a house in central Phoenix. Inside the house they found the shotgun, a .357 magnum revolver and an impressive collection of swords. 
It’s a given that police work is dangerous, but you don’t appreciate the dangers these officers face on daily basis until you’re standing next to an officer who’s wrestling with a man in a truck and then finds a “Saturday Night Special” revolver on the floor of the truck after the man was pulled out of it. The revolver was inches from the man’s hand just before he was pulled out of the truck. 
(Photos courtesy of and © The Arizona Republic)) 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Working on a Dream

Supporters of the DREAM Act walk down 16th Street in Phoenix towards the office of US Sen. John McCain Sunday night. 
About 30 undocumented immigrants and their supporters are camped out at the offices of US Sen. John McCain hoping he votes in favor of the DREAM Act. 
According to Wikipedia, The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (The "DREAM Act") is a piece of proposed federal legislation in the United States that was introduced in the United States Senate, and the United States House of Representatives on March 26, 2009. This bill would provide certain illegal immigrant students who graduate from US high schools, who are of good moral character, arrived in the U.S. as minors, and have been in the country continuously for at least five years prior to the bill's enactment, the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dirty Sexy Politics

Meghan McCain, the daughter of US Sen (and Republican Presidential hopeful) John McCain, talks about her book, “Dirty Sexy Politics” at a book signing at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe Thursday night. 

McCain has achieved a level of fame (and notoriety) for her bloggingtweeting andwriting. She identifies herself as a fiscally conservative, socially liberally Republican. She doesn’t oppose gay marriage and she seems to support immigrant rights. She advocates a “big tent” approach to GOP politics, so much so that during an appearance on the Daily Show, Jon Stewart teased her about it, saying “Good luck with that.” (Stewart also jokes about the end of the bromance between Sen McCain and Stewart.) 

On TV McCain comes across as a funny, entertaining young lady willing to speak her mind and that’s exactly how she comes across in person. Her book is doing quite well on Amazon and the crowd last night (the place was packed) was very supportive. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Eid ul-Fitr

Millions of Muslims around the world celebrated Eid ul-Fitr, the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan, Friday. For most, the day started with prayers and ended with parties and banquets. 
In the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, about 3,000 Muslims came to the Glendale Civic Center to start the day with a prayer service. For me it was a reminder of Islam’s global reach and what a melting pot the United States is. There were Uighurs (from western China), Indonesians, Malays, Indians, Somalis, Kenyans, Pakistanis, Afghans, Arabs and Iranians. Native born Americans and naturalized Americans. People from all walks of life.  
There are more photos from the Eid services in my archive and available from ZUMA Press

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What, Me Worry?

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio enjoys a laugh after a press conference in downtown Phoenix. The press conference was called by the organization Ban Amnesty Now (BAN), a group that supports Arizona SB 1070 and is raising money to support the bill. BAN had hoped to talk about keeping the 2011 MLB All Star Game in Phoenix, but reporters wanted to ask about a US Department of Justice lawsuit filed against Arpaio and about outrageous (and completely untrue) claims by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer that Arizona law enforcement has found “headless bodies” in the desert south of Phoenix. 
The press conference quickly degenerated into a free for all. The reporters stayed on Arpaio about the DoJ suit, and State Sen. Russell Pearce about the “headless bodies” statement. When someone from BAN took the mic and said “This is our press conference!” A reporter shouted back, “But they’re our questions!” 
Arpaio played the role of the aggrieved party, claiming he didn’t understand why the DoJ is suing him, while Pearce refused to directly answer questions about the “Headless Bodies” canard. It was the most entertaining press conference I’ve been to in years.