Archive - 2005

The Irish Lesson

Paul Theroux writes in the New York Times a great critical op-ed piece about Bono, Africa, and Ireland.

And because the NYT is going to time out free access to this piece i'm going to just paste it here: Read more>>>

On Tucson, part 2

Ok, this installment of the continuing series of my observations of Tucson will cover a few things you see or experience while riding around on a bicycle:

glass everywhereFirst, biking conditions: In Tucson it's mostly pretty flat, but a lot of the streets are really, really, really bumpy and cracked. It's usually so rough that when you're biking it's like a sweet drink of cool water to find yourself on a stretch of smooth street. I think the streets are so fucked up because of the constant daily extremes of temperature causing expansion and contraction. There's also tons of broken glass on the sides of a lot of streets. What's up with that? I've heard Tucson is a "high property crimes city." Maybe there's lots and lots of cars being broken into. but also see lots of glass that is obviously from broken bottles.

Strangeness: There are lots of "for rent" signs that don't say exactly WHAT it is that's for rent. Is it a one-bedroom? a studio? a 4-bedroom? Who knows? Waste some cellphone minutes and find out. Waste the owner's time, too. I've never seen this anywhere else i've lived. what the fuck?

Yesterday I was biking along and actually saw a car accident 2 blocks ahead. A young woman stopped at a stop sign, then pulled out into the intersection, evidently not seeing that the cross traffic did not have a stop sign and that the cross street contained a very fast-moving pickup truck, which proceded to hit her. no one was hurt but her car was pretty much totalled, i'm guessing. I hung around, let her use my phone to call her mom, and told the police what i saw. It was clearly her fault but the other guy was clearly going way to fast for a residential street. she was only 19 and pretty upset, by the way. and she forgot to bring her license or her most recent insurance card with her. dumb! cars just suck. maybe she will learn this and get a bike.

ok, more coming up soon... oh and despite all these observations that seem like complaining, they're not. I'm happy here. These are more like descriptions of curious sightings rather than things I'm really pissed about. Next: Sprawl, the U of A, and the Air Force.

Earth First! Activists found guilty of all counts

It's a sad day. The trial I've been covering for the past week for Arizona Indymedia has ended in a verdict of guilty on all counts for both defendants, Rod Coronado and Matt Crozier. That link is to a story I co-authored this evening, which is pretty "objective" and "standard journalism." Here's where I go off and get personal.

I was somewhat surprised at the verdict - I really gave some of the jury more credit, thinking that some of them would be smart enough to see past the crude emotional manipulation enacted by the prosecutors, especially since I was there for a lot of the jury selection so I kind of knew what sort of people many of them were - and some were psychologists, software engineers, professors - not your average numbskull middle-americans.

It's just sad, too, knowing Rod and thinking that he could get 6 years or more in prison, and he's about my age, and has a 4-year old child. They wanted to lock him up right away because the prosecution thinks he's a flight risk, but Rod's lawyer convinced the judge that that wasn't necessary.

Now he has till March to be sentenced.

Tommorrow, I have to go back to that same courthouse, to cover a hearing to dismiss charges in yet another trial, this one being the No More Deaths case, in which 2 volunteers last summer trying to help 3 undocumented migrants dying in the desert were arrested and are being charged with felonies. I'm helping another videographer from Pan Left to try to get interviews on camera with the defense lawyers as they come out of the building after the hearing.

It's just courtroom overload lately...

photos from human rights/border rally yesterday

Leftist Vision in Latin America

Everyone's favorite mainstream english-language paper to read while abroad, the International Herald Tribune, brings us an interesting sweeping look at the leftist tide sweeping Latin America, concentrating on the likely victory of Evo Morales in Bolivia.


On Tucson, part 1

Well, it's been about 5 weeks now since I moved to Tucson. It's about time I wrote something with some observations about the place. I will post it in several short, topical parts.

First, weather.
1. In Tucson, as expected, it rarely rains, especially this time of year. It has not rained once since I got here. yay!!! I think I've seen a total of 2 days where it's overcast, and even then only part of the day. Of course, in January or February it rains, which I witnessed the last time I was here. And in the summer there are what they call the monsoons. But for now it is dry, dry dry. I really notice it in my nose, my hands, and getting thirsty faster, especially as it gets colder and I tend to forget to drink as much water (heat makes reminds you to keep hydrated, but if it's not hot, you forget.) Also the dryness means there's lots of dust everywhere.

2. It's been pretty warm during the days, but at night it definitely cools down, desert-style. Lately it's been even dipping below freezing a couple nights. But it still gets up to the 70s during the short day and is pretty darn pleasant.

Okay, that was not too exciting, but stay tuned for the next installment, when I will discuss conditions for bicycling in Tucson.

The Feds

There is so much to write about, I barely know where to begin, but it strikes me that most of what's interesting happening around here has to do with representatives of the federal law enforcement or justice system.

First of all, I spent another afternoon at the federal courthouse, listening to the beginning of U.S. vs. Coronado and Crozier. The prosecution spent a long time talking about how the trial was not about activism or environmentalism or animal rights or wildlife management or politics, and then spent the rest of the afternoon making it be all about that. They wasted tons of time establishing that, yes, there are mountain lions in the Sabino Canyon area. duh. oh, and that Matt Crozier once had a job in Tucson. This is something tax money is paying for, folks.

Second, the judge in the No More Deaths case, U.S. versus Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss, has decided to push back the trial from December 20 to January 10, because he wants 3 weeks of vacation. So one of the defendents, plus witnessess, family, friends, and other supporters who had been planning to come and had plane tickets purchased so they could be here December 20 are now fucked. Thanx, judge. Of course, we're all hoping the case is dismissed anyway, or that the prosecutor drops the charges, anyway.

Third, it has come to the attention of activists here that the Catalyst Infoshop in Prescott, Arizona has been raided this afternoon by over 15 FBI agents and JTTF officers and at 8pm they were still there, going over everything, confiscating anything to do with the ALF, ELF, eco-terrorism, and the like. Bill, one of the founders of the infoshop who lives there, has been arrested and will be arraigned tommorrow at 10 am in Flagstaff. Prescott people are still trying to figure out what to do, find Bill a lawyer, etc. At our weekly meeting the Dry River Colletive discussed for a while what to do. We mainly want to be there to help as soon as Bill and the Prescott folks know how we can help them. Apparently there was some police raid of a school today in Flagstaff that may be related too, with officers ripping down posters that had to do with the SnoBowl issue - something I'm not even really that aware of, but I think it has to do with a Flagstaff-area ski place that is doing things will desecrate some mountains that are holy to an native american tribe.

(oh and parenthetically, a fellow videographer here in town launched into a mini-rant at me today about how an air force helicopter was surveilling his house and some people he knew were getting similar attention and that we had to do something soon or the world was going down the tubes, basically.)

So, basically, the federal government is really messing with Arizona activists today.

Mexican Artist Deported For an Internet Art Project

Luis Hernandez is a Mexican artist who participated in a recent border art festival in San Diego and Tijuana called inSite. Last week when flying home from Colorado he was stopped in the airport, searched, and ended up being deported to Mexico and barred from returning for 5 years. A message from him with many details, including a dialog with an FBI agent, is on the blog of fellow artist Ricardo Domiguez.

Absolutely crazy. Make a video game about border tunnels, get deported? This cannot be allowed.

Earth Firsters Trial This Week in Tucson

Today I spent a big chunk of the afternoon at the Federal Courthouse here in Tucson, because Rod Coronado and Matt Crozier are on trial for interfering with a mountain lion hunt.

Today was the preliminary pre-trial hearing and jury selection. I was there for the jury selection and it was extremely interesting. only 6 of the 31 potential jurors had NOT heard about the incident in the media. This surprised the lawyers and the judge, and they ended up clearing all the jurors out of the room, and bringing one at a time back in and asking them where they had heard about it, what they remember hearing, what opinion if any did they form from the news, and whether they thought they could put that opinion aside and be objective in the trial. About 7 or 8 were excused, I think.

I've been called for jury duty a couple times but never for a criminal case, much less one this controversial. Still, all jury pools are amazing cross-sections of humanity, and this was no exception. Of course they tend to be skewed toward people that have been at the same address, and are registered to vote, I think. (isn't that the database they use? I'm not sure but I think so.)

The judge is kind of funny. Sort of a gentle, self-deprecating old fart who kept joking about how he was getting old and losing his hearing.

The whole thing was actually pretty entertaining, and I kept thinking it's no wonder so many court/lawyer based TV shows are and have been so popular. The legal and judicial system are how things get done in our society, and they're actually really interesting social systems, too. The whole thing is steeped in ritual, or one might say bureacracy, but think about it: the court system works because people are confident in its consistency and reliability. Though ruled mostly by old rich white men, it's general pretty uncorrupt compared to some nations, and people trust it and live (or sometimes die) by its results. Part of the confidence comes from things being utterly aboveboard and having the appearance of trustworthyness, impartiality, etc. So that's where those rituals come in. Like the whole ploddingly slow jury selection process, bringing in 70 people, giving them numbers, calling out the first 31 numbers, slowly, having them sit in order, etc etc. this is all unneccesary from a strict efficiency perspective, but it inspires confidence, because it's so rock-solid and consistent. or at least it appears so.

Tommorrow are opening arguments, which I will probably be at, too. more as it happens.

CPT hostages in Iraq to be killed Thursday

The kidnappers who took the 4 Christian Peacemaker Teams members are threatening to kill all of them by Thursday, December 8 unless all prisoners in Iraqi and American prisons in Iraq are freed. There's an online petition, in Arabic and English, with over 15 thousand signatures.

Whatever your view of the Iraq situation or religion-based NGOs, it's so horrible and horribly ironic and sad that they would be singled out by the terrorists.