Your West Valley News: Valley & State

Valley & State

  • Poll: Immigration concerns rise with tide of kids

    McALLEN, Texas (AP) — For nearly two months, images of immigrant children who have crossed the border without a parent, only to wind up in concrete holding cells once in the United States, have tugged at heartstrings. Yet most Americans now say U.S. law should be changed so they can be sent home quickly, without a deportation hearing.A new Associated Press-GfK poll finds two-thirds of Americans now say illegal immigration is a serious problem for the country, up 14 points since May and on par with concern about the issue in May 2010, when Arizona's passage of a strict anti-immigration measure brought the issue to national prominence.Nearly two-thirds, 62 percent, say immigration is an important issue for them personally, a figure that's up 10 points since March. President Barack Obama's approval rating for his handling of immigration dropped in the poll, with just 31 percent approving of his performance on the issue, down from 38 percent in May.More than 57,000 unaccompanied immigrant children have illegally entered the country since October. Most of the children hail from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, where gang violence is pervasive. Many are seeking to reunite with a parent already living in the United States.Since initially calling the surge an "urgent humanitarian situation" in early June, Obama has pressed Central American leaders to stem the flow and has asked Congress for $3.7 billion in new money to hire more immigration judges, build more detention space and process children faster.House Republicans on Tuesday put forward a bill costing $659 million through the final two months of the fiscal year that would send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border and allow authorities to deport children more quickly.

  • Arizona utility wants to install rooftop systems -- for free

    PHOENIX (AP) — A major Arizona utility wants to install rooftop solar panels on thousands of homes for free. If approved by state regulators, the request filed Monday by Arizona Public Service Co. would allow the Phoenix-based company to put rooftop systems on 3,000 homes. APS says its proposal is a way to provide access to solar for consumers who can't afford to buy or lease a rooftop system and for APS to satisfy mandates for renewable energy use. Under the proposal, consumers would get savings through monthly credits and APS would pay for installation and maintenance. APS says its alternative to generating power on customers' rooftops would be to build a large-scale solar plant. The Arizona Solar Energy Industry Association says APS' proposal would be competition because solar companies' customers aren't subsidized.

  • Ariz. high court defers to judge on forged petition signatures ruling

    PHOENIX — The Arizona Supreme Court says it deferred to a judge's findings in ruling that a Republican challenger to a prominent legislator could stay on the ballot though the challenger's nominating petitions included forged signatures.In a decision with huge implications for future elections, the justices acknowledged there was evidence that seven signatures on two of the nominating petitions for state Senate candidate Toby Farmer had been forged. And Farmer himself had signed the back of the petitions saying he had personally witnessed the signings.Based on that, incumbent Don Shooter, R-Yuma, who brought the challenge, asked the court to disqualify Farmer from running.But the justices, in the unsigned unanimous ruling, said evidence of forgery was not enough to prove that Farmer himself knew the signatures were false. And they pointed out that Farmer -- who Shooter's lawyers did not call as a witness -- presented evidence from a handwriting expert that the forged signatures were not from Farmer.Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Rea had rebuffed Shooter's bid to declare that Farmer knew of the forgeries. The high court had refused, in a brief expedited order, to disturb that ruling, clearing the way for Farmer to be on the Republican primary ballot.Today's opinion explains the court's reasoning.


  • U.S. accuses Russia of violating 1987 missile treaty

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration accusation that Russia violated a key nuclear weapons treaty leaves the future of the 26-year-old accord in question and further dampens President Barack Obama's hopes to burnish his legacy with deeper cuts to nuclear arsenals. The State Department's annual report on international compliance of arms control agreements released Tuesday said the U.S. had determined that Russia is in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that President Ronald Reagan signed with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987. The treaty says the U.S. and Russia cannot possess, produce or test-flight a ground-launched cruise missile with a range of 300 to 3,400 miles. Possessing or producing launchers for this type of missiles also is banned under the treaty, which helps protect the the U.S. and its allies in Europe and the Far East. "We're going to hold them to living up to the commitments that they've made," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. The administration has not said where and when the alleged violation occurred, but a Russian official said the concerns date back to 2009. The administration, which said it is prepared to discuss the issue with senior Russian officials, raised its concerns about the treaty with Moscow last year. "It is fair for you to conclude that their response to our concerns was wholly unsatisfactory," Earnest said. John Tefft, ambassador-nominee to Russia, said he hoped the Russians would negotiate an end to the dispute. "I hope that the Russians will seize the opportunity ... to meet with our experts, to try to resolve this — to shelve this particular weapon system and to bring themselves back into compliance with the INF treaty," Tefft told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday. Retired Lt. Gen. Yevgeniy Buzhinsky, the former head of the Russian Defense Ministry's international department, said that the U.S. complaints dated back to 2009. "Now, when an information war is being waged against Russia, the old accusations are being used again," he said, according to Interfax. Buzhinsky said that Russia has had its own complaints about the U.S. compliance with the INF treaty. In particular, he said that the U.S. was using its missiles as targets to test its missile interceptors, which he argued is forbidden under the treaty. Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said the United States remains in full compliance with all its INF Treaty obligations. The treaty dispute comes at a highly strained time between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin over Russia's intervention in Ukraine and Putin's grant of asylum to National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden. The compliance report was due out in April. In raising the issue now, the U.S. appears to be placing increased pressure on Russia. The European Union and the United States announced new sanctions against Russia on Tuesday in the face of U.S. evidence that Russia has continued to assist separatist forces in Ukraine. Congress has been stepping up pressure on the White House for months to confront Russia over the treaty violation. "It is past time this administration holds Russia accountable for its actions," said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Russia has hinted that it wants out of the treaty. Back in June 2013, Russian presidential chief of staff Sergei Ivanov lamented that the U.S. never needed the entire class of intermediate-range missiles that the treaty banned unless it planned to go to war with Mexico or Canada. Since the treaty was signed, countries along Russia's borders, such as North Korea, China, Pakistan and India, have acquired these types of weapons, he said. "Why can anyone have weapons of this class but the U.S. and we legally cannot?" he said. Obama, who has made nuclear disarmament a key foreign policy aim, doesn't want Russia to pull out of the treaty. The president won Senate ratification of a New START treaty, which took effect in February 2011 and requires the U.S. and Russia to reduce the number of their strategic nuclear weapons to no more than 1,550 by February 2018. Obama last year announced that he wants to cut the number of U.S. nuclear arms by another third and that he would "seek negotiated cuts" with Russia, a goal now complicated by the accusation of a missile treaty violation.

  • House to vote on slimmed-down bill for border

    WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans unveiled a slimmed-down bill Tuesday to address the immigration crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border by sending in National Guard troops and speeding migrant youths back home. The election-year measure would allow Republicans to say they tried to solve the humanitarian problem in South Texas, even though it stands no chance of becoming law. The bill would cost $659 million through the final two months of this fiscal year, far less than the $3.7 billion requested by President Barack Obama for this year and next, and a sharp reduction from the $1.5 billion initially proposed by the House spending committee. The cuts were designed to win over skeptical conservatives and give lawmakers something they could pass before leaving Washington at week's end for their annual August recess. The measure also includes policy changes rejected by most Democrats that would allow unaccompanied youths who've been arriving by the tens of thousands from Central America to be turned around quickly at the border and sent back home. "I think there's sufficient support in the House to move this bill," House Speaker John Boehner told reporters after meeting with rank-and-file lawmakers on the issue, though he said there was more work to do. A vote was set for Thursday. Even if it does pass the House, the bill is certain to be rejected by the Democratic-run Senate, which was set to take a procedural vote on its own $2.7 billion border package Wednesday. The Senate bill, which does not include the policy changes embraced by the House, lacks GOP support and seemed unlikely to move forward. The Senate bill also includes money for Western wildfires and Israeli defense that was left out of the House version. So there appeared to be no path to a compromise that could send a bill to Obama's desk ahead of the five-week congressional recess. Complicating matters further, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid floated the idea of using the House measure as a vehicle for advancing a comprehensive immigration reform bill including a path to citizenship for millions now here illegally. That legislation passed the Senate a year ago but stalled in the House. "Maybe it's an opening for us to have a conference on our comprehensive immigration reform," Reid told reporters. House conservatives have warned repeatedly that anything they pass could become a vehicle for the Senate's immigration bill, and Reid's comments seemed to confirm their worst fears. Perhaps that was intentional, since the result could be to limit conservative support for the border spending bill in the House. Boehner responded angrily, accusing Reid of "making a deceitful and cynical attempt to derail the House's common-sense solution." "So let me be as clear as I can be with Senator Reid: the House of Representatives will not take up the Senate immigration reform bill or accept it back from the Senate in any fashion," Boehner said in a statement. If Reid's ploy was intended to upset Boehner's efforts, it was unclear that it would succeed. Numerous House Republicans have said that they did not want to go back to their districts to face voters without acting to deal with the influx of kids and teens showing up at the South Texas border without their parents, mostly from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. More than 57,000 have arrived since October, many fleeing vicious gangs and trying to reunite with family members, but also drawn by rumors that once here, they would be allowed to stay. Ahead of Reid's remarks, GOP lawmakers said that their measure appeared to enjoy widespread support, although some conservatives said they remained opposed. "Frankly, we need to show that we can act and act thoughtfully, responsibly and quickly," said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., who supports the measure. But Democrats rejected the legislation, largely because of the legal change to a 2008 trafficking law that guarantees immigration hearings for unaccompanied kids who arrive here from anywhere other than Mexico or Canada. The House GOP bill would allow the Central American kids to be treated like Mexican kids, who can be turned around quickly at the border unless they can convince Border Patrol agents that they have a credible fear of return meriting additional screening. "If they try to change the law that covers and protects the rights of these refugee children, we are going to oppose it," said Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y. "We will vote against it and they will not have the votes to pass it." The House GOP legislation includes $405 million for the Homeland Security Department, which administration officials have said is in danger of running out of money for customs and border activities in coming months. It includes $22 million to hire more temporary immigration judges and outfit immigration courtrooms with video teleconferencing equipment, and $35 million to double spending for the National Guard presence on the border. In addition, $197 million would go to the Health and Human Services Department for housing and humanitarian assistance for the minors, and $40 million for Central American governments to help with repatriation efforts.

  • Clean-air rules assailed as too much, too little

    DENVER (AP) — Hundreds of people across the country lined up Tuesday to tell the Environmental Protection Agency that its new rules for power-plant pollution either go too far or not far enough. The agency is holding hearings this week in Atlanta, Denver, Pittsburgh and Washington on President Barack Obama's plan to cut carbon-dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2030, with 2005 levels as the starting point. The rules are intended to curb global warming. Coal mines, electric utilities, labor unions, environmental groups, renewable-energy companies, government agencies, religious and civil rights organizations and others sent representatives to the hearings. Some endorsed the proposals, while others said they were a timid response to a huge problem or an unwarranted attack on the coal industry and its employees. John Kinkaid, a Moffat County, Colorado, commissioner, told the EPA in Denver that the rules would devastate his area, home to a major power plant. "Energy is the lifeblood of our economy," he said. "Moffat County deserves better than to be turned into another Detroit, Michigan." Retired coal miner Stanley Sturgill of Harlan County, Kentucky, traveled to Denver to tell the EPA that coal-fired plants are crippling his health and the public's. Sturgill said he suffers from black lung and other respiratory diseases. "The rule does not do nearly enough to protect the health of the front-line communities," he said. "We're dying, literally dying, for you to help us." In Atlanta, Jim Doyle, president of Business Forward and a former Commerce Department official in the Clinton administration, said the benefits of fighting climate change — and the extreme weather it is blamed for — outweigh the potential costs. "Over the past four years, American factories have been disrupted by typhoons in Thailand, hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, droughts in Texas, tornadoes in Kentucky, falling water levels across the Great Lakes and flooding in the Northeast," he said. Others at the Atlanta hearing said the rules could raise electricity prices and cause job losses without significantly curtailing global carbon emissions. As U.S. utilities switch to natural gas, more U.S. coal is being shipped and burned overseas. With only five minutes each to address the EPA, scores of advocates in Denver staged rallies for or against the proposed rules. "They're basically trying to shut down coal, which takes away my job," said Mike Zimmerman, a foreman at the Twentymile Mine in northwestern Colorado, who attended a rally sponsored by Americans for Prosperity. At a rally staged by a group called Colorado Moms Know Best, Jaime Travis said the rules would cause some disruption but should be implemented. "It won't be painless. But as a mother, I am truly worried about the future, not just of my state, but the country and the world," she said. The Denver meetings are the only ones being held in the West, where the topic of air pollution traditionally sets off a loud debate over environmental values and economic vitality. Three of the top 10 coal-producing states are in the West — Wyoming, Montana and Colorado. Wyoming is No. 1, producing nearly 40 percent of the U.S. total and more than three times as much as West Virginia, the No. 2 state, according to the National Mining Association. States would have wide latitude in choosing how to meet the administration's goals. That leaves an uncertain fate for some of the West's large coal-fired power plants, including Montana's 2,100-megawatt Colstrip plant. Montana's Democratic governor, Steve Bullock, has said at least some of Colstrip's four units could keep operating if the state can cut emissions in other areas. Four power plants on tribal land in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah will be dealt with under a separate proposal yet to be announced. Even without the new rules, coal plants face increasing pressure from regulators to rein in other forms of pollution. Federal officials said Monday that Arizona's Navajo Generating Station will produce one-third less energy by 2020 and could close by 2044 under a rule aimed at reducing haze-causing nitrogen oxide pollution. The EPA expects 1,600 people to speak in the four cities and has already received more than 300,000 written comments, which will be accepted until Oct. 16. EPA technical experts will listen to the comments, and a transcript will go into the EPA record, agency spokeswoman Lisa McClain-Vanderpool said. The EPA plans to release the final rules next year. The Atlanta, Denver and Washington hearings continue Wednesday. The Pittsburgh hearings will be held Thursday and Friday.

Featured columns

  • Steer clear of road rage

    Over the years, aggressive driving and road rage have become more common dangers on our roadways.Aggressive driving — intentional, dangerous behavior that jeopardizes the safety of motorists and pedestrians — is a factor in up to 56 percent of fatal crashes, according to data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.Then there’s road rage, defined as deliberate, uncontrolled anger that can lead to violence and can result in suspension or revocation of your driver’s license, and even jail time.Both are unpredictable and can occur at any time. In fact, studies show that we are all capable of acting out our anger when we’re behind the wheel.As a leader in traffic safety, AAA notes five triggers that can incite aggressive driving and road rage:1. Cutting people off: When you merge into traffic, use your turn signal and make sure you have plenty of room to enter traffic. If you accidentally cut someone off, try to apologize with an appropriate gesture such as a hand wave. If someone cuts you off, take the high road: Slow down and give them plenty of room.

  • OPINION: EPA proposal devastating to state, families, seniors

    If we don’t want our utility rates to fly through the roof and our economy to fall into the tank, Arizona needs to fight the EPA. On June 2, the EPA, in another Obama administration attempt to kill the coal industry, proposed a new extreme rule requiring Arizona to reduce its CO2 emissions from existing power plants by 52 percent from 2012-2030.According to ADEQ testimony, Arizona will suffer the second-highest impact in the nation and the timeline to implement Arizona’s plan is set at an “Unprecedented Fast Schedule.”    How the EPA plans for Arizona to reduce their CO2 emissions by 52 percent is beyond me. After all, Arizona has one of the fastest-growing populations in the nation. Electricity demand will increase with population growth and the use of high-tech devices and electric cars.Some Arizona power plants have already shut down because of the EPA’s previous crazy rules. Now the EPA’s new proposal will cost the three major electric providers in Arizona billions of dollars and will undoubtedly increase everyone’s utility bills.   Fixed-income seniors and low-income families will be hit the hardest. Businesses will have to cut employees just to pay the increased utility costs.Currently, Tucson Electric gets 80 percent of its energy from coal. SRP gets 53 percent and APS 38 percent. There is no way that solar can make up that difference. According to the most recent U.S. Energy Information Administration report, solar makes up less than 1 percent of the Net Summer Electricity Capacity in Arizona. It is also one of the more expensive sources of electricity.

  • Use airtight containers to store ground flaxseed

    Dear Dr. Blonz: I eat a vegetarian diet (no fish) and have been relying on flaxseed as my source for omega-3 fatty acids. I do this by sprinkling the flax on my cereal or using it in baking. My concern relates to whether there is something toxic in raw flaxseed. I read that one should avoid, or at least limit, flax intake until it has been heated. Does this mean I should stop eating it raw? Should I stick to pure flaxseed oil? — S.F., DallasDear S.F.: Let’s address your “toxic” concerns first. Flaxseed contains very small amounts of compounds that can produce cyanide, a metabolic poison. But the mere presence of these compounds does not make flaxseed dangerous. With cyanogenic (cyanide-producing) and other potentially dangerous compounds, it comes down to the dose, and it also depends on the nutritional status of the consumer.Such compounds are widely distributed in nature. A book on my shelf since graduate school, titled “Toxicants Occurring Naturally in Foods,” was published by the National Academy of Sciences in 1973. It is an academic text that is now available online ( Cyanogenic compounds cause problems primarily in individuals who are malnourished, particularly those with an inadequate intake of protein. The cyanogenic compounds in flaxseed are a greater concern for livestock, where very large amounts are consumed. Heat, or processing, does cause a breakdown of these substances, thus reducing the risk, but it is questionable whether this is a valid food safety concern.The fatty acids in flaxseed are highly unsaturated, more so than most other vegetable oils. This makes flaxseeds more susceptible to oxidation, a reaction that destroys the nutritive value of an oil and turns it rancid. This doesn’t make it toxic, but rancid fats are not what you want in your food or in your body. Exposure to air (oxygen) and heat can speed up the oxidation process.The intact flaxseed has a protective coat that keeps the oil safe inside. The seed coat is so strong that most intact flaxseeds tend to pass right through our digestive system. Inside the flaxseed are also a number of antioxidants, this being nature’s way of helping assure the viability of the seeds once planted. The healthful components of the flaxseed become available to us once the seeds are cracked or ground, but this process also increases the susceptibility to oxidation. This is why ground flaxseed should be stored in airtight containers and kept in the refrigerator once opened.If you were to take pure flaxseed oil, you would get its omega-3s, but not the fiber and phytochemicals naturally present in flax. You would avoid the cyanogenic compounds, but the risk of rancidity would remain. If you are interested in using flaxseed oil, consider a brand that contains all the beneficial compounds found in the intact seed, including the phytochemicals known as lignans. Flaxseed oils, particularly when purchased as liquids, need to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

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