Thursday, June 30, 2016

Apparently These People Think It's a Good Idea to Bring Dolphins to Arizona for Entertainment Purposes

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 5:00 PM

Humans, keep us the hell away from the desert and your cruel aquatic parks. - PHOTOSPIN
  • Photospin
  • Humans, keep us the hell away from the desert and your cruel aquatic parks.

The Mexico-based Dolphinaris is bringing a "swim with the dolphins!" park to the Arizona desert.

Here's the company's mission statement on the upcoming Dolphinaris Arizona, set to open this summer next door to the OdySea Aquarium, which is also currently under construction, near the 101 and Vía de Ventura in Scottsdale:
Dolphinaris is developing the “next generation” of dolphin experiences in Arizona, providing an opportunity for visitors to interact with dolphins, learn about this amazing species, and be part of ocean conservation efforts.

The mission of Dolphinaris Arizona is to amaze, inspire, and empower guests, encouraging them to become stewards of the oceans and its inhabitants. We hope to deepen respect for dolphins and our natural world, and encourage visitors to take actions, large and small, that can make a difference.
So, they want to promote the conservation of the sea and ocean species by placing 12 dolphins in captivity and forcing them into fake bodies of water in the desert?

PETA refers to marine-mammal theme parks like Dolphinaris as "part of a billion-dollar industry built on the suffering of intelligent, social beings who are denied everything that is natural and important to them."
Wild orcas and dolphins live in large, complex social groups and swim vast distances every day in the open ocean. In captivity, these animals can only swim in endless circles in tanks that are the equivalent of bathtubs, and they are denied the opportunity to engage in almost any natural behavior. They are forced to perform meaningless tricks and often torn away from family members when they’re shuffled between parks. Most die far short of their natural life span.
These aquatic parks are unnecessary, antiquated and cruel. And I am still unsure of the life-changing effects swimming with dolphins in captivity brings to a human's existence. Better get a dose of Blackfish.

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Diane Douglas on Testing and the Classrooms First Initiative Council

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 4:15 PM

Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas. - COURTESY OF THE ARIZONA  DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
  • Courtesy of the Arizona Department of Education
  • Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas.
I was at Wednesday night's sparsely attended meeting with Ed Supe Diane Douglas. About 30 people showed up in the main library's conference room to hear Douglas talk about what's going on in Arizona education, a far cry from the packed auditorium at her Pima Community College event in April, 2015. Maybe the small crowd was because it's summer, when parents and teachers' minds are on other things, or maybe it's because Douglas is no longer new news as she was last year.

Most of the meeting was made up of audience comments and questions, but Douglas made a few statements that were worth noting, on state testing and Ducey's Classrooms First Initiative Council.

Douglas once again made it clear she's no fan of the overuse of standardized testing. "We need to test our students less," she said. And she indicated that results of the state's AzMERIT test are being misused. "[Standardized] testing was never intended to be an assessment of a teacher, a school or a district," she stated. Douglas said she is working on a more comprehensive A-F school grading system that will include more factors than a school's state test scores.

Douglas only spent a few moments talking about Ducey's Classrooms First Initiative Council, whose task is to propose ways to shift around education funding without adding new revenue. She's a member of the council, and it looks like she shares some of my skepticism about the group's unspoken agenda. (My recent posts on the subject are here, here and here.) Douglas said she was concerned that the council was "a special interest group," though she didn't mention what that "special interest" might be. However, a statement she made soon after is probably a clue to what she was alluding to. She said she is a supporter of charter schools, but she also noted that, 20 years after charters were set up in Arizona, 85 percent of students still choose to go to district schools, and we must be sure we do nothing to harm those students. I'm seeing dots connecting those two statements, which would mean she worries that charters will come out the funding winners in the council's final proposals, to the detriment of school district funding. She's spoken before about her concern that the pro-charter faction has outsized influence in the governor's office. In a press release from Douglas in February, 2015, Douglas wrote, "Clearly [Ducey] has established a shadow faction of charter school operators . . ." Douglas has tempered her language since then, but I get the feeling her sentiments haven't changed all that much.

Continue reading »

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Marijuana Legalization Group Submits Initiative to Secretary of State's Office with More Than 250K Signatures

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 3:30 PM

The fate of recreational weed is in your hands.
  • The fate of recreational weed is in your hands.

Well, it’s official, guys: Arizona could well be on its way to legalize recreational marijuana this year.

Today, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted more than 250,000 signatures to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office. The measure only needs 150,642 valid signatures to make the general election ballot, so the fate of legalization could be up to voters in November. We’ll probably hear whether CRMLA qualified around in August, according to a press release from the campaign.

“We are very encouraged by the strong levels of support and enthusiasm we found among voters during the petition drive,” says a media statement from CRMLA Chairman J.P. Holyoak. “Arizonans are ready to end the antiquated policy of marijuana prohibition and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. We look forward to continuing the public conversation about the initiative and we think most will agree it is a sensible step forward for our state.”

The initiative allows adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. You would be able to smoke weed at home and purchase it from a licensed retailer. You could also grow up to six plants in an enclosed, locked space. No more than 12 weed plants would be allowed to grow in the same household.

Cities and counties would be authorized to impose limits on where and when marijuana businesses are allowed to operate. They could also prohibit home growing if it is considered a nuisance or dangerous, or enact zoning regulations for marijuana establishments.

Retail marijuana sales would be taxed at 15 percent and the revenue would be used in the implementation and enforcement of recreational weed regulation. Additional funds would be allocated mostly to education—40 percent to school maintenance and operation costs; 40 percent for full-day kindergarten programs— and 20 percent to the Arizona Department of Health Services for substance abuse awareness.

When it comes to penalties, possessing more than one ounce of weed or cultivation of more than six plants per person would be a felony. It would be illegal to sell any marijuana without a business license. Driving while high would also still be a crime, but the initiative says a person shouldn’t be punished merely over the presence of metabolites or components of marijuana.

Continue reading »

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FC Tucson Ticket Giveaway

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 1:30 PM

Busy Sunday night? We're giving away a four pack of tickets to the July 3 FC Tucson game against Laguna FC. The game is at 7:30 p.m. at Kino North Stadium (2817 E. Ajo Way).

All you have to do to enter is fill out the form below. We'll contact the winner midday on Friday, July 1. Tickets can be purchased here

Fill out my online form.

Cactus and Clouds Exhibition at The Galleria

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 12:30 PM

The Galleria at the YW is currently featuring a group art exhibition with more than 20 artists entitled Cactus and Clouds

The exhibition just opened June 29 and will run through Aug. 27. An artist’s reception featuring DJ Buttafly will be held Friday, July 8 from 6 to 8 p.m. The exhibition and reception can be found in the YWCA’s Frances McClelland Leadership Center (525 N. Bonita Ave.). Regular gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Galleria invites artists they believe are doing something important, and thought provoking. Most, but not all, of the artists featured are women. The Galleria aims to explore themes that connect to their mission of eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

Saguaro, by Regina Lord is one one the paintings to be featured at the Galleria's exhibition. Lord is a local artist. - REGINA LORD
  • Regina Lord
  • Saguaro, by Regina Lord is one one the paintings to be featured at the Galleria's exhibition. Lord is a local artist.

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Not Your Mama's Safety Pin: How a Household Item Can Change a Life

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 10:30 AM

Hey hey, Tucson! I am thrilled to be writing to you about all the delicious shenanigans, and points of ponderance Tucson (and the world) has to offer! I grew up reading the Weekly, and my plan for my inaugural post was to take you on a trip down memory lane; share a bit of MY Tucson with you. But then I read this Huffington Post article about a local family that is being terrorized by some racist bigots.

Um, that's not MY Tucson.

According to the article, the family of Syrian refugees recently came home to find a note taped to their front door with phrases like "Go away killers!," "America hates terrorists like you!" and "You are Muslim and not welcome!" among other hateful things.

What? Did we enter some weird Twilight Zone vortex of idiocy? Has the heat finally fried our brains to the point of bumbling lunacy? I simply cannot wrap my brain around this, and I certainly cannot accept it. This family fled a country where they lived in fear every day because of terrorists and came to America—the land of the free (for some, but that's another post altogether).The family came here under the promise of relief from fear, bigotry, and certain death. Then they came all the way to Tucson—TUCSON; the liberal stepsister to the uber conservatives 2 hours north. Tucson—artsy-fartsy, retired hippy, live and let live, WE BUY SONORAN DOGS FROM DIRT FIELDS ON CORNERS AND TAMALES FROM WOMEN WE KNOW ARE HERE ILLEGALLY BUT DAMN, WE CAN'T GO WITHOUT OUR TAMALES—Tucson, and then we have the nerve, the gall, nay, the absolute audacity to do this?

No. This is not MY Tucson. If you're reading this right now, I'm willing to bet it's not YOUR Tucson either. In Tucson, we don't stand for bigotry. We don't stand for hate. And we sure as hell don't stand for cowardly fear tactics played out against our most vulnerable citizens. Hell-to-the-hot-ass-desert-NO.

Continue reading »

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Fourth of July Activities in Tucson and Surrounding Communities

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 9:00 AM

The city's 4th of July display over A Mountain. - LEIGH SPIGELMAN
  • Leigh Spigelman
  • The city's 4th of July display over A Mountain.

Tucson and its surrounding communities will be offering the public plenty of ways to celebrate their independence this July 4.

All events take place on July 4 unless marked otherwise: 

Marana will be holding its annual Star Spangled Spectacular at Crossroads at Sliverbell District Park (7548 N. Silverbell Road). The festivities will take place between 5 and 9:30 p.m., with something for the whole family. Kids will enjoy inflatable play equipment, airbrush tattoos, games put on by Parks and Recreation, and the park's playground. Parents will enjoy Catalina Brewing Company’s beer garden. There will be two stages with live music playing all night long. The Star Spangled Spectacular will feature 35 vendors, 22 of which will serve food. Of course the event would not be complete without a fireworks show, which claims to be the most spectacular in
Southern Arizona.

Oro Valley’s Fourth of July Celebration takes place at the James D. Kriegh Park (23 W. Calle Concordia) from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Free activities for kids include face painting, tie-dye t-shirts, patriotic crafts, climbing walls and jumping castles. Residents can enjoy a selection of 10 food
trucks and live entertainment all night long. At 9 p.m. there will be a fireworks show provided by Hilton El Conquistador Resort. The town of Oro Valley asks that you please leave your pets at home.

The Stars and Stripes Extravaganza is a ticketed public event in Oro Valley hosted by Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Resort (10000 N. Oracle Road) The event kicks off with a classic barbecue buffet from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., followed by classic July Fourth desserts like apple pie. There will be a 30 minute fireworks show at 9 p.m. Tickets are $55 for adults and $25 for children ages 5-12, children under four are get in for free. The Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Resort will have reduced rates for the holiday weekend, with prices starting at $139 with a two night minimum. Hotel guests will receive a discount on tickets for the extravaganza: $49 for adults and $20 for children 5-12.

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

UA Finance Prof Wins $1.2 Million in World Series of Poker

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 4:30 PM

Mitchell Towner: Plenty of time to count his $1.2 million when the dealin's done.
  • Mitchell Towner: Plenty of time to count his $1.2 million when the dealin's done.
UA finance prof Mitchell Towner knew when to hold them and knew when to fold them yesterday at the World Series of Poker. The Las Vegas Review Journal caught up him after he played his winning hand:

“I really don’t play poker,” Towner said. “I’ve only ever played two events that are worth more than like $100.”

Towner, an assistant professor of finance at the University of Arizona, looked like anything but a novice on Tuesday night as he won the World Series of Poker’s $1,500 buy-in “Monster Stack” No-limit Hold ’em event at the Rio Convention Center.

The 29-year-old Towner defeated Venezuela’s Dorian Rios during heads-up play and collected $1.12 million along with his first — obviously — career bracelet.

“I just tried to play fairly straightforward. I didn’t want to put myself in any marginal spots,” Towner said. “It seemed like people were liable to blast off occasionally and so I figured, you never know, maybe I’ll get hit with the deck of cards and run really, really well, and that’s what happened.”
[Las Vegas Review-Journal]

Ed note: This post original referred to Towner as a math professor.

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