Friday, April 30, 2010

May Day March gains new momentum after passage of SB1070

Worldwide, May 1 is celebrated as International Workers' Day. Originally, the workers' holiday commemorated the struggle for an eight-hour work day in 1856 and later, marked the anniversary of the Haymarket affair in 1886. The Haymarket affair, also know as the Haymarket massacre, began as a rally in support of striking workers and ended in violence with the deaths of workers and police.

In Tucson, the May Day March not only promotes workers' rights, a living wage, and fair workplace practices but also the rights for other oppressed people, including immigrants.

Immigrant workers--legal and illegal--often work under substandard conditions in the fields, factories, and kitchens of America. It's understandable that their struggle would become part of this demonstration of worker solidarity. After the passage of the anti-illegal immigrant bill SB1070, this year's May Day March will most likely be large and boisterous.

The May Day March will begin Saturday morning at 9 a.m. at El Casino Ballroom and end with a rally at 11 a.m. in Armory Park. For details, check the Derechos Humanos website.

This article originally appeared in my Progressive Examiner column.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Show us the money: can bribes... er, incentives... combat calls for Arizona boycott?

Arizona continued to be in the media spotlight today with multiple stories about the recent passage of the anti-illegal immigration bill (SB1070) and related boycotts.

This morning, the Diane Rehm Show on National Public Radio (NPR) devoted a full hour to Arizona and immigration. You can listen to the show here. In a nutshell (no pun intended), even the most conservative commentators said that with the passage of SB1070 Arizona's Republican governor and legislature have gone to far.

Reuters, NPR, and USA Today-- all say that the Arizona boycotts have begun.

According to Reuters, the Arizona Hotel and Lodging Association reported six organizations had canceled conventions in the state. This includes the 11,000-member Immigration Lawyers Association, which had planned a fall annual meeting in Scottsdale. In addition, Reuters eported that the California Senate voted to "cut ties with companies based in neighboring Arizona". Reuters also said that immigration rights advocates have called for boycotts Arizona Diamondbacks baseball games.

NPR's All Things Considered reported that the city of San Francisco passed a resolution to boycott Arizona and all Arizona-based businesses because of SB1070, which they called "un-American." NPR also reported that a Tucson icon-- the Arizona Inn-- is losing long-time customers who "love the Inn but won't come back to Arizona."

According to USA Today, Mexico has issued a "travel alert" warning citizens not to go to Arizona. On the surface, you may think that this is what Arizona legislators wanted, but in reality, Mexicans often shop across the border in Arizona. A travel alert and unhospitable attitude could hurt commerce in Arizona border towns like Nogales.

Lastly, to counter all of this-- at least a little-- Arizona Public Media reported today that the Arizona government is offering incentives for motion picture companies that want to do business in Arizona.

Will economic incentives help Arizona buy its way out of boycott threats? I don't think so.

In the meantime, according to NPR, Governor Jan Brewer is "not worried about the boycotts" and believes that they will not hurt businesses in the state.

This article originally appeared in my Progressive Examiner column.

Brewer steps into the eye of the hurricane and comes to Tucson

Governor Jan Brewer, who signed the highly controversial anti-illegal immigration bill (SB1070) last week, will be in Tucson today, and citizens are lining up to "welcome" her.

Brewer will be attending the 96th Arizona Town Hall, "Building Arizona's Future: Jobs, Innovation, and Competitiveness.

Derechos Humanos, a local civil rights organization, is calling for legal immigration supporters to protest Arizona's "un-elected governor". The rally will be noon - 3 p.m. outside of the Doubletree Hotel in midtown Tucson. Check the Derechos Humanos link for more information or join on facebook here.

According to National Public Radio, an estimated 3000 people rallied against SB1070 outside the capitol in Phoenix on Sunday, and 4500 rallied outside of Congressman Raul Grijalva's office in Tucson on Saturday.

This article originally appeared in my Progressive Examiner column. Click on the link to see a video of Brewer signing the controversial bill.

SB1070 becomes law in 3 months-- maybe

As thousands of protesters chanted outside the state capitol in Phoenix yesterday, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed SB1070. The controversial legislation would require law enforcement officers to stop people whom they believe are in the US illegally and ask for identification such as a birth certificate or passport. Moreover, it gives citizens the right to sue local law enforcement if they believe they are not implementing this law.

With stories in the New York Times and on CNN, MSNBC, the Colbert Report, and local television and radio, Arizona has been under the media microscope since this bill passed both houses of the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Now that it has passed, Arizona is under the legal microscope, according to National Public Radio (NPR). President Obama has asked his legal advisors to review the civil rights implications of the legislation. Multiple civil rights groups are planning legal challenges.

If SB1070 survives these legal challenges, it will go into effect in 3 months, according to NPR.

Economic implications aside, I personally don't see how this legislation can be fairly implemented. Thirty percent of Arizona residents are Hispanic, and many more are mixed race. By far, most are legal, but under this law they will be treated differently because of the color of their skin. Not all illegal aliens are Hispanic. There are undocumented Filipinos, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indians-- you name it-- in the US. Will the police be stopping them also? Where will it end?

It is my hope that passage of wrong-headed legislation like SB1070 will push the US Congress into finally passing comprehensive immigration reform.

This article originally appeared in my Progressive Examiner column. Click on the link to see the Colbert video.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Governor expected to sign SB1070, as statewide rallies and walkouts continue

Arizona residents are literally up in arms over the Arizona Legislature's passage of SB1070. Protest rallies have continued throughout the week, and more are planned for today and this weekend in Tucson and Phoenix.

The New York Times, The Arizona Republic (not exactly the bastion of liberal thinking), Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, Stephen Colbert, and now President Obama have all come out against this legislation which would require Arizona law enforcement officers to ask people for proof of citizenship during legal contacts. If they don't have proof of citizenship on their person, they are presumed to be illegal.

Saturday, April 24, is Governor Jan Brewer's deadline. If she doesn't sign by then, it will become law without her signature. The Derechos Humanos website announced that she will sign the bill Friday morning-- while they protest outside.

Will this legislation have the dire economic and social consequences predicted by The Arizona Republic and others? Only time will tell.

This article originally appeared in my Progressive Examiner column. Click on the link and see the video of students chained to the state capitol building.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Anti-immigrant legislation sparks protests and rallies in Phoenix and Tucson

Passage of anti-immigrant legislation SB1070 by Arizona's Republican-controlled Legislature has sparked rallies and protests in Tucson and Phoenix.

On Monday in Phoenix, marchers-- both pro and con-- protested at the capitol. On Tuesday, nine activists were arrested in Phoenix after they changed themselves to the doors of the state capitol and called for Governor Jan Brewer to veto the anti-immigrant legislation. Brewer, who is running for re-election, has not said what she will do with SB1070.

In addition to the protests, multiple news stories, blogs, editorials, and Examiner articles have railed against Arizona for going too far. A facebook page for people against SB1070 also has been launched. You can join here.

Most notably, NY Times editorial writers said, "The Arizona Legislature has just stepped off the deep end of the immigration debate, passing a harsh and mean-spirited bill that would do little to stop illegal immigration."

"This legislation exposes ALL Arizonan's to unnecessary prejudice," says Grijalva, who even called on a boycott of Arizona if Brewer signs the legislation into law. (You'll remember that when Arizona was the only state in the US not to honor Martin Luther King Jr. with a holiday economic pressure was put on the state through boycotts.)

This coming Saturday, April 24, Congressman Raul Grijalva is sponsoring a rally at his Tucson headquarters, 452 S. Stone.

This article originally appeared in my Progressive Examiner column. Click the link to see the video of protesters chaining themselves to the capitol building.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Arizona: the edge of civilization

Arizona is becoming less and less civilized everyday.

When this state had plenty tourist income for repeated tax cuts for the rich (courtesy of the Arizona Legislature's Republican majority) and modest services for the rest of us, it was a tolerable place to live. Now, I'm not so sure.

Once the housing bubble burst, construction jobs disappeared, and tourist revenues declined, Arizona's house-of-cards economy plunged. The result has been two-years of fiscal mismanagement by the Legislature and Republican Governor Jan Brewer. Heaven forbid that they would fix the inherent problems with the state's revenue streams. Instead, they went to work cutting the budget for education,healthcare for children and the poor, and other services, while offering more tax breaks for business and the richest residents and relinquishing federal matching funds.

In addition, the Republicans voted to waste tax payer funds on hiring an independent lawyer to sue the federal government over healthcare reform and wasted time on a birther bill that would require everyone to show a birth certificate to run for office in Arizona.

The latest jewel in the crown of the 2010 session of the Arizona Legislature is Senator Russell Pearce's ant-immigrant bill (SB1070). Bouyed by anti-immigrant propaganda and false statements (dare I say "lies"?) by Pearce, the bill has passed both houses on a party line vote-- with Republicans pandering to the extreme fringe of their party.

SB1070 is a scary expansion of police powers in Arizona. Basically, during any "lawful contact" (ie, running a red light) any law enforcement officer can ask anyone for an ID to see if you are in the US legally. If you don't have an ID, you are "presumed to be an alien."

Will the governor sign the bill? Brewer has vowed to "do the right thing" without saying what that is.

Arizona is fast becoming an impoverished police state with minimal government and no services-- including basic public education. If these fascist policies and budget cuts continue, Arizona will see a brain drain, with the best and the brightest moving to more progressive states. Our universities and businesses will have a difficult time attracting professors, researchers, and skilled workers-- further hurting Arizona's economy. Those left in Arizona will be "clinging to their guns and religion" -- and trickle down economics.

If you don't like the direction of Arizona government, vote in the fall.

This article was originally published in my Progressive Examiner column. Check out the link to see the video of State Senator Kyrsten Sinema scold the Republican-controlled Legislature for passing poor policies, such as the birther bill.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Headless woman bound for love

This somewhat disturbing display stopped me in my tracks at the local Walgreens yesterday. There on the end-cap as you enter the store was this decapitated, dismembered life-size woman's body, bound by undergarments.

Initially, I was intrigued. "What the heck is she wearing? And Why?" I thought as I studied the display. OK, the white bra, I understand, but I couldn't figure out the black strap under her boobs. Two bras? Isn't one bra uncomfortable enough? Why would someone were one regular bra and an additional strap? Then I read the package. The black strap pushes the boobs up and in to improve the cleave.

The tan ribcage-to-thigh ultra girdle was touted as taking off 2 dress sizes.

But can she breathe?