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June 11, 2009

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona Anti-Defamation League

  |   Video
  • Bill Straus, Executive Director of the Anti-Defamation League of Arizona, talks about Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon’s call for Sheriff Joe Arpaio to apologize for what Gordon calls the Sheriff’s associations with neo-Nazi groups. Straus also discusses hate groups in Arizona.
  • Bill Straus - Executive Director, Anti-Defamation League of Arizona

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. An 88-year-old white supremacist, who opened fire immediately after entering the U.S. holocaust memorial and museum, was charged today with murder for shooting a security guard to death in Washington, D.C. The shooting by James Von Brunn sparked a renewed war of words here in the valley. Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon says Maricopa county sheriff Joe Arpaio should denounce and apologize for appearing with neo Nazis. Gordon says the sheriff spoke at a meeting where a self-avowed Nazi and neo Nazi were in attendance. The sheriff also had his picture taken with a white supremacist. Arpaio says Gordon is lying. Here now to talk about that and the spread of hate groups is Bill Straus, Arizona regional director of the anti-defamation league. Bill, good to see you, thanks for joining us.

Bill Straus: Always a pleasure to see you, Ted.

Ted Simons: Generally your thoughts on what the mayor said and was he justified in saying those kinds of things?

Bill Straus: You know, I'm not getting involved between the mayor and the sheriff. On May 2nd there was a protest, and neo Nazis were out in force, for neo Nazis to be as public as they were with the sig-heils and they were acting in support of the sheriff. When I saw the video, my immediate feeling was, I hope the sheriff shares my feeling that he has a responsibility to denounce these groups. I know the sheriff, and I know the sheriff is not a neo Nazi. But people that saw that video emailed me from all over the country and, you know, they're wondering what is up with your sheriff? What's the deal? Joe and I talked after that. And I said to him, I'm telling you, the ball's in your court on this. You have a responsibility to denounce these groups, you know, it's not that you're -- he said to me I don't tell people what to believe. I don't tell people to support me or not. That wasn't the point. Neo Nazis happen to cling to an ideology that poses a threat, as we saw yesterday at the holocaust museum.

Ted Simons: Arpaio says he has no reason to support them. I'm sure he told you the same thing. He doesn't support them. So there's no reason to apologize. How far do you go when people cling to or associate with a certain, you know, one crowd associates with another crowd, how responsible is that other crowd to say get away from me?

Bill Straus: It's a great question. I think that you have to -- it's not a personality thing. You have to denounce the ideology. You have to denounce the belief system. And anyone familiar with the neo Nazi belief system, as much as there is variance within different sects in that ideology, I think you have to distance yourself from that kind of thinking.

Ted Simons” The sheriff's department also says he has no control and the sheriff's department has no control over who shows up at protests. Do you think the sheriff's department should have done a better or different job in controlling that protest?

Bill Straus: You know, the A.D.L. is very strong on supporting people's first amendment right to express their political beliefs. The first amendment only becomes important when somebody's offended. Otherwise we really don't think about it much. And I don't know that the sheriff has a responsibility to say who's there and who's not. I'm talking about once that video is made public and goes viral to the extent that it did, talking about millions of hits, at that point I think he needs to step back and say, you know what? I don't want a connection between me and them.

Ted Simons: Going back, and I know you want to not get between the two gentlemen, but the mayor and sheriff, if someone that you considered an opponent and someone you considered, you know, you were targeting, you were targeted by, say it's me, say I'm always criticizing you, saying you're doing this, that, and the other and you're just getting sick and tired of it and we just don't get along, something along those lines. Let's say this happens. If I say you need to do X, Y, and Z, if we're political enemies, do you do X, Y, and Z, even if it is the right thing to do? In other words is the sheriff and mayor don't get along. The sheriff wants the mayor to do something and the sheriff says, you know, there's no reason for me to do it. It's just political.

Bill Straus: I think to an extent that's true. You know, I -- the mayor, I think the mayor would have been wiser to express his comments at a different time. You know, yesterday I did interview after interview and the questions I was asked were about the shooter, the Holocaust museum, the hate groups, their activity. And then the mayor and sheriff thing.
They're on two totally different planes of importance, as far as at the moment, yesterday.

Ted Simons: Right. Let's talk about that different plane. Let's talk about hate groups. How common are they in Arizona and compare and contrast what's happening here with other parts of the country.

Bill Straus: We're pretty representative of what's going on all over the country. A.D.L. has observed there seems to be a wave of hate that's been evidenced since the beginning of the year, just recently. I don't have to enumerate, but I would certainly urge your viewers to go to our website, and read about the four or five recent incidents which lead us to believe, we think that a lot of it is ideologically driven but certainly some driven by current events. The economic crisis and Israel's military efforts in Gaza emboldened the anti-Semites not just in the valley but around the country to a level I have never seen in my adult life.

Ted Simons: Who are these people? People that are emboldened, are they young, old, rich, poor?

Bill Straus: There's no demographic. I cannot give you a general descriptor. They're rich, they’re poor, they’re young, they’re old. Here's an 88-year-old man taking a rifle into the Holocaust museum, and people at the scene said, well, I saw an older man getting out of his car, I didn't give it a second thought.

Ted Simons: Last question here, the mayor says something provocative. The sheriff almost can't help but be provocative, that's his nature. Does this debate help shine a light on some of these hate groups? Could something good come out of this little brouhaha?

Bill Straus: Ask me the question in three or four months. I don't know. You know, I think we tend to emphasize the presence of hate groups and yet we look at the recent incidents, they've been lone individuals. The conclusion at this point in the investigation is he acted alone yesterday. That's what we find more and more often. The groups are there and a lot of these individuals had a tie with a group at one time or another. But it seems like when the words translate into acts of violence, it's an individual acting on his own.

Ted Simons: And you think the sheriff denouncing these people publicly in front of a whole slew of microphones would help?

Bill Straus: Yeah. I heard him do it last night, and I was glad that he finally did it. Absolutely, yeah.

Ted Simons: All right Bill, always a pleasure, thanks for joining us.

Bill Straus: Thanks, Ted.

Arizona Hospitals and Healthcare

  |   Video
  • John Rivers of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association talks about how the latest budget impacts hospitals and programs for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable people.
  • John Rivers - Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association
Category: Medical/Health

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Healthcare advocates say millions of dollars in cuts to Arizona's healthcare system in the Republicans' state budget would hurt Arizona's healthcare infrastructure. Recent testimony at the legislature warned that cuts would endanger the health of Arizona's low income residents. It was also said that cutting healthcare dollars would mean more using hospital emergency rooms and higher healthcare costs for everyone. Here to talk about the impact of state budget cuts on the healthcare system in Arizona is John Rivers, president and C.E.O. of the Arizona Healthcare and Hospital Association. Good to see you again, thanks for joining us.

John Rivers: Thank you, Ted, you bet.

Ted Simons: The 2010 budget is out there. The governor hasn't received it yet, but it's out there. What are your thoughts on it?

John Rivers: Well, it depends on which version of the budget you want to talk about. The governor's budget is a much kinder budget in terms of how it treats healthcare programs than is the budget approved by the House and Senate. So right now the House and Senate version would cut healthcare in hospitals to the tune of $106 million a year, so that's going to affect a lot of safety net programs that help very vulnerable people during the economic downturn that we have right now.

Ted Simons: When you talk about cuts, explain a little how reimbursement works to hospitals on access patients.

John Rivers: Well, essentially access underpays hospitals for virtually everything that they do, and that means that the shortfall, the difference between the cost of providing care and the cost of being paid for that care by access gets shifted on to the private sector, and we had actuaries tell us that if the cuts that are in the budget right now are enacted, private health insurance premiums in Arizona are going to go up 16% next year, solely on the basis of those cuts that are in this year's proposed 2010 budget.

Ted Simons: And you call that the hidden health tax, correct?

John Rivers: Call it the hidden healthcare tax. That's exactly what it is. It's not really a cost savings. It's just shifting the cost from state government to private paying patients. That's really all it is.

Ted Simons: Talk more about the impacts to hospitals, again with cuts to access, the whole reimbursement thing and cuts to D.E.S. and other aspects of service care within the state.

John Rivers: Well, hospitals are part of a large safety net that protects many vulnerable populations in Arizona, the cuts that you alluded to earlier to C.R.S., children's rehabilitative services, cuts in vaccinations, cuts to Arizona Department of Health Services that you mentioned, are all part of safety net programs that are critical in supporting certain populations here in Arizona. And those people who don't get cared for through those safety net programs ultimately end up in hospital emergency rooms where it costs more at that take care of them than if they had been served by these programs initially.

Ted Simons: I know one lawmaker especially, Kopeniki says the budgets will hit his rural area hospitals really hard. Talk about outlying areas, rural areas, what are you seeing?

John Rivers: There are special programs set up to help rural hospitals, one of which is called the Safe Program. It's about $12 million a year and it's used to shore up the very financially fragile condition of our rural hospitals. I think there's a perception among some legislators that they have dealt with that issue in the budget, but they really haven't. There's about a $3.6 million cut in there to the access budget and when access looks to where can we find the money to make that up, they look at programs like the Safe Program, which does affect rural hospitals very directly and very dramatically. It also affects graduate medical education funding and other important programs.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about solutions here. Republicans, the leaders, they say there just simply isn't the money. What do they do? Deferring payments, one month payment for access, is talked about. Is that a good idea as far as you're concerned?

John Rivers: That’s a great idea. That would save $110 million right out of the gate simply by delaying for one month capitation payments to access health plans. But there's an even better idea on the table out there, which is use the federal stimulus money. There is $775 million in federal stimulus money for Arizona in fiscal year 2010. The legislature only needs to spend 26 million of that $775 million to avoid cutting the safety net programs that are being provided to patients and by our hospitals.

Ted Simons: The -- compare what you've seen so far, from the legislature, F.Y.10 budget with the '09 budget.

John Rivers: Let's see, the '10 budget is worse without a doubt. In the '09 fix, there was a fix to that budget that started early in the year, there were about $68 million in cuts to
healthcare that mainly affected what we call disproportionate share of the rural hospital
payments that we talked about earlier and funding for graduate medical education.
When we pointed all of that out to the legislature, they said “Oh, we didn't mean to do that.” And so they went back and essentially rescinded those cuts in the final 2009 budget. So the way things turned out in 2009 was fairly positive. But in 2010 we're seeing many of the same programs that the legislature restored in 2009 on the chopping block once again.

Ted Simons: What about inflation, medical cost inflation, how does that factor into all this?

John Rivers: Well, it's a big factor because in the budget that the senate and house have approved, they originally had assumed no medical inflation, and the final budget that they approved they did assume a level of medical inflation. But the problem is with a freeze in the rates that healthcare providers are paid, the way the 2010 budget looks is that healthcare providers including hospitals are going to be paid the same that they were paid for in 2008. Well, it costs more to provide services in 2010 than it did in 2008. There are technologies and drug treatments and therapies that are available this year that weren't available two years ago. So the legislature can deny that if they, I guess there's an element of denial there that medical inflation is something that has to be addressed in the budget, but we think there are ways to do it, the solutions we talked about are two perfect solutions to that problem.

Ted Simons: Last question, are you getting some attention from lawmakers, the same kind of attention, we talked while the '09 fix was going on, and I know that you wanted to get there and it sounded like you did, is F.Y.10, are they starting to listen?

John Rivers: I think they are, in fact, we have a number of champions in the legislature, republicans and Democrats, who understand the issues that we've talked about, a number of them are fighting very hard for this for all these issues we talked about. But there are a lot of items in this budget, and they're frankly dealing right now with some of the more global issues, how big a deficit are we talking about, are we going to have a tax increase, if so, how much and how do you do it. It's hard sometimes to get legislators to focus on these little but very important things that affect their constituencies, but you brought up a good example, Representative Kopeniki who says “Hey, my rural hospital is important in my community,” and there are quite a few legislators who are sensitive to that issue as well.

Ted Simons: John, always a pleasure, thanks for joining us.

John Rivers: You bet, Ted, thank you.

Green Algae Strategy

  |   Video
  • ASU Professor Mark Edwards, who recently won a top national award for his book, “Green Algae Strategy,” talks about algae’s tremendous potential as a sustainable source of food and fuel.
  • Mark Edwards - ASU professor
Category: Sustainability

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Algae is often considered a nuisance growing in fish tanks or even worse in swimming pools, but algae holds a lot of promise as a source of medicine, food, and fuel. In his book "Green Algae Strategy," A.S.U. professor Mark Edwards explores the potential benefits of algae. The book was recently selected by independent publishers as the top science book of 2009. In the book Edwards takes a look at algae research, including some taking place right here at A.S.U.

Mark Edwards: My research career has been mostly spent looking for this opportunity to exploit the algae in a way that will solve some of our problems.

Announcer: For the past two decades the researchers have continued the research for new varieties of algae that are well suited to the production of fuels as well as other uses. These efforts have resulted in the creation of the laboratory for algae research and biotechnology at A.S.U.'s polytechnic campus. Here Summerfeld and his colleagues work on developing improved methods for growing algae in specialized tanks or bio reactors.

Mark Edwards: The effort now is trying to in a sense domesticate these algae, so that we can grow them and engineered devices to produce high density culture that we can harvest and that we can ultimately extract the oil from and process to make a variety of biofuels and putting biodiesel jet fuel as well as gasoline.

Ted Simons: Joining me now is the author of "Green Algae Strategy," professor Mark Edwards of Morrison School of Management and Agri-business at A.S.U., thanks for joining us.

Mark Edwards: Thank you, Ted.

Ted Simons: Talking about A.S.U. and algae as fuel, I want to get to that. But I want to start with the idea of algae as food. Where are we with this, talk to us about this.

Mark Edwards: Algae is the oldest food on earth. Humans have eaten algae since the beginning of humans. And anyone near a lake or ocean, all of our ancestors either ate algae directly, fed it to their animals, many times used it as fertilizer as well.

Ted Simons: Ok. To modern times, is the idea that -- I'm a little bit of research here is a terrible thing, but the idea of processing the stuff into flour, is that the idea?

Mark Edwards: There are many ways. Many times we just harvest -- this is seaweed, which is macroalgae, and this is a product that we sell 6 billion tons of this every year. So throughout Asia, especially China, throughout the Pacific Rim, algae's a very common part of the diet. And it's very healthy, high protein, great nutrients, wonderful vitamins.

Ted Simons: So instead of corn, wheat, soybean, you can get algae to do the same thing?

Mark Edwards: Corn, wheat, soybean, all evolved from algae. Green algae was the original plant on earth. Green algae saved the planet by transforming our atmosphere from carbon dioxide to O.2, and that's in everything evolved from algae. All the plants.

Ted Simons: Ok. Let's get to how you harvest algae. I mean, algae most folks think of something you don't want to deal with. How do you plant and harvest algae without damaging water supplies?

Mark Edwards: Ok, I brought a little demo here. This is my little --

Ted Simons: Hold it right in front of you there, there you go.

Mark Edwards: There we go.

Ted Simons: Hold it right there.

Mark Edwards: Ok, all right. So we have two actually three inputs, carbon dioxide and nutrients, nutrients we get from waste water so we're recycling waste and then of course we have solar energy. So what algae is is truly is green solar energy, and Arizona is positioned to be the green solar capital of the world because we are blessed with the most solar energy of any state in the union. So this is green solar energy, all we're doing is capturing that solar energy in green plant bonds, it's stored and it's portable and then we can harvest it as a fuel, as a food, and the highest value is for medicines.

Ted Simons: So food, fuel, now medicine as well.

Mark Edwards: Medicine as well. In fact, many people take fish oil and they think it comes from fish, no, it doesn't come from fish. It comes from algae. Because where do you suppose fish get their fish oil? From algae. So producers in Israel produce the algae, squeeze the oil, and that's where we get our Omega-3’s and fish oil. It's straight from the algae and doesn't build up the mercury you get from fish.

Ted Simons: Ok, so we're talking water based farms here, how big do these farms have to be? Where do they have to be, anywhere?

Mark Edwards: They can be anywhere, but ideally you take non-cropland, so you're not competing with food crops, you take waste water or we are blessed in Arizona with something I didn't know about before this research, we are -- we have the most brine water of any state in the union. So under our deserts are oceans of brine water and guess what happens when you bring salty water, brine water, to analogy pond? It cleans the water. So you've taken non-potable water and made it clean. In Israel, 87#% of their municipal water is cleared by algae.

Ted Simons: Ok. Let's talk about harvesting the stuff even more here.

Mark Edwards: Ok.

Ted Simons: How fast does it grow, how fast do you harvest it, and compare it to plants that were more familiar with.

Mark Edwards: Ok. Think of analogy as a single celled organism like this, just a million times smaller of course. What they do is they clump and grow -- they grow together. But one single celled algae cell can multiply itself a million times a day. That means in our as we grow the product in the growing system, the culture, this is the first free lunch because you can – it can double its whole biomass by 11:00 in the morning. That means we typically harvest about half the biomass every day. Then when you compare that to soy or corn, the numbers come out to 50 to 100 times more productive per acre per year.

Ted Simons: All right. Let's move to fuel now because I know A.S.U. is very much involved in the fuel aspect. How much involved, by the way?

Mark Edwards: Oh, A.S.U. is a world leader in food, the lab and bio design who you saw the Summerfeld in the intro, their labs are both working in different models for bio-fuels and actually theirs is the highest value because they're going for jet fuel, which is the highest energy fuel. And with algae because it grows so fast, you can harvest a tremendous amount of algae and recover, generally it's through extraction, pressing, but Bruce Rittman, Professor Rittman's work, their algae is actually secreting the oil, so it floats to the top, they skim it off.

Ted Simons: So we’re talking diesel here as far as fuel is concerned?

Mark Edwards: We can talk diesel, gasoline, jet fuel. Depends on the length of your carbon complain.

Ted Simons: Talk about emissions, something's got to be burning.

Mark Edwards: Great question, I love this question, because algae burns clean. Algae is a vegetable oil. So it doesn't have any black soot particulates, reason? It wasn't fossilized. All of our fossil fuels, if you look at the D.N.A., are algae from ancient oceans. So the algae was fossilized over 400 million years, and all we're doing here at A.S.U. is we're taking the 400 million years and compressing it into about four weeks, and we can produce oil.

Ted Simons: We got about 30 seconds left. Smells like French fries.

Mark Edwards: Yes, indeed.

Ted Simons: 30 seconds left. How soon before all of this becomes, I mean, a reality. I mean, more than just we're talking about it but, you're actually smelling French fries on the road outside.

Mark Edwards: We're producing it right now and we'll be producing it to scale in the next two to three years, and scale means large, large scale. So it's a fabulous potential for food, for medicines, and Arizona can be the green solar capital of the world because we have just exactly what's needed here.

Ted Simons: All right. Well, it's fascinating stuff. Thank you so much for joining us, we appreciate it.

Mark Edwards: Pleasure, Ted. Thank you.