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April 23, 2012

Host: Ted Simons

Japan Tsunami Relief & Photography

  |   Video
  • Last spring, ASU photography major Airi Katsuta travelled to Japan to volunteer in the earthquake/tsunami recovery effort. Now, she’s selling 1,000 origami cranes to raise money for a return trip to continue her volunteer work. Katsuta talks about her experience in Japan, and she shares some of the photographs she captured during her stay.
  • Airi Katsuta - ASU student
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: japan, quake, origami, ASU, ,

View Transcript
TED SIMONS: When she was a little girl, Airi Katsuta moved with her family from Japan to Phoenix. Last summer, the ASU photography major returned to Japan to volunteer for tsunami relief efforts. Along the way, she captured images of devastation and hope. Now she's making and selling a thousand origami cranes to raise money for a return trip to Japan. Joining me now is Airi Katsuta. Good to have you here; Thanks for joining us.

AIRI KATSUTA: Thank you.

TED SIMONS: The idea of going over -- first of all, where were you when the quake and the tsunami hit?

AIRI KATSUTA: I was in my home in Ahwatukee, and I was working on my paper actually, and then I saw it on the news, and my sister and my mother were actually in Japan when it happened, And I just couldn't believe my eyes.

TED SIMONS: What were your first thoughts?

AIRI KATSUTA: It was just -- I was speechless. I didn't know what to say. Just all the -- the black waves coming into the city and taking everything away.

TED SIMONS: When you -- you moved, obviously, how old were you when you came to America?

AIRI KATSUTA: When I was 6 years old.

TED SIMONS: Six years old? So you do have memories, and you do -- you had a grounding in Japan. Did you -- when did you decide you had to go back over and help?

AIRI KATSUTA: My sister actually volunteered earlier on, and she told me how amazing her experience was, and I felt like I needed to help out, and it's my country, so, you know.

TED SIMONS: Where did you go when you went over?

AIRI KATSUTA: I went Ishinomaki prefecture, and it’s about 100 miles away from the nuclear power plant.

TED SIMONS: 100 miles away. And what did you see when you got there?

AIRI KATSUTA: Just every rubble and cars just flipped over and mud everywhere.

TED SIMONS: We have some of your photographs we want to take a look at. You mentioned cars flipped over. The first photograph we’re looking at, that's a car, and is that a graveyard?

AIRI KATSUTA: Yeah. We actually couldn't move it with a bulldozer or crane because we didn't want to destroy the tombstones.

TED SIMONS: The next shot shows kind of a wide panoramic view of what looks to be -- that's flooded -- that's water. That's an entire region sitting under water, correct?

AIRI KATSUTA: Yeah. And that's actually the ocean from far -- everything was just gone.

TED SIMONS: When you take a picture like that one, do you have to -- sometimes with photography just putting that piece of metal between you and what you're shooting gives you a little bit of separation, maybe a little sense of distance. Did you feel that at all?

AIRI KATSUTA: I did. The first week I was there, it was so hard for me to photograph it; just taking it in with my own eye was just too much.

TED SIMONS: What do you look for in a photograph, especially in a scene like that? You're photography major, so obviously you've done different things with photographs, but with something like this, what do you look for?

AIRI KATSUTA: Just my feeling. I go with my gut.

TED SIMONS: Do you really?


TED SIMONS: This next photograph it’s beautiful, and it's touching, and it's got a couple of folks that are literally looking out on devastation. I mean, did you have a chance to talk to these folks, or -- and what did you hear from them?

AIRI KATSUTA: They were telling me about where they used to go shopping, where they used to take their walks and just get -- telling me their memories of this place.

TED SIMONS: Did you see in those kinds of folks was there desperation, was there sadness, was there courage, was there hope? What did you feel?

AIRI KATSUTA: They were not acting like victims at all. They were so positive and so ready to move on and start rebuilding and recovering.

TED SIMONS Is that what you expected? Was that a little bit of a surprise?

AIRI KATSUTA: It was. I thought people were going to be crying, just being sad about their homes being gone, but they were just positive.

TED SIMONS: We have another photograph here. Again, this looks like it's got some sort of cemetery feel to it. And then nothing but devastation. It must have been everywhere.


TED SIMONS: When you see a shot like this, let's get back to photography elements, what are you trying to say with this photograph?

AIRI KATSUTA: That there's flowers in the front, and people are still coming in to, you know, just show hope.

TED SIMONS: And the next photograph shows, again, one of the dichotomies of what looks to be a graveyard cemetery and absolute devastation, and then you've got other buildings in the background. Does a shot like you walk up and say, “I got it” or do you just take a shot like that and when you develop it later you go, “Ooh I got it?”

AIRI KATSUTA: That one especially I knew it when I shot it.

TED SIMONS: Because you saw it and said, “I gotta get that one.”


TED SIMONS: The last photograph here is interesting. I couldn't quite make out what this was. What are we looking at there?

AIRI KATSUTA: It's tera tera bouzu, a traditional handmade amulet that kids make in Japan, and they make it to stop the rain or hope for a sunny day.

TED SIMONS: Oh, that would obviously be a wonderful photograph. We go from that to you trying to raise funds now to get back. Why do you want to go back?

AIRI KATSUTA: I feel that it's very important for me to return there. I hope for every year to see the recovery process.

TED SIMONS: Do you want to document again with photographs?


TED SIMONS: Now to raise the money, you are -- are you making origami cranes.


TED SIMONS: What have you got here?

TED SIMONS: This is a printing process called cyanotypes, it's a design on a paper, and I fold it, a thousand of them, and they say if you make a thousand, your wish will come true. Not for materialistic things but for good health and good luck, I wanted to wish that for them.

TED SIMONS: Let’s get a shot of it on the camera. That is absolutely gorgeous. How long does it take to make something like that?

AIRI KATSUTA: It took me a couple months to do all thousand of them because I have to cut the paper, print it and wash the paper, fold it, string it. So much to do.

TED SIMONS: And the paper looks like it's blue, but it's got like a little feathery kind of look to it as well that. And that was designed?


TED SIMONS: Origami, have you always been interest in the origami or…?

AIRI KATSUTA: Yeah. Most Japanese kids learn how to fold cranes when they're little. It's just something that we know how to do. At least it was for me.

TED SIMONS: How many have you sold so far?

AIRI KATSUTA: As of now I've raised $2,441.

TED SIMONS: That's pretty good. Don't you think?


TED SIMONS: A lot of origami cranes. What does your family think of all this?

AIRI KATSUTA: They're very proud of me, and they're really excited about this project coming together.

TED SIMONS: And so when you go back now and you go back to take photographs, will you help with relief efforts as well? Is that pretty much been moving along to that it's not necessarily needed right now?

AIRI KATSUTA: They still need volunteers, and they depend on volunteers to come to do the recovery process, but I already did that, and I think it's more important for me to use my skill as a photographer and spread awareness. I didn't want to do, you know, volunteering and photographing like at the same time and do everything halfway. So I wanted to focus on one thing and document it.

TED SIMONS: Did this, before all this happened now, before the quake and the tsunami, were you kind of one person and afterwards, are you a different person?



AIRI KATSUTA: I feel more connected to my Japanese roots now. Since I've been living here for so long, I kind of lost touch of it. But after being there, feeling all the positive energy, I learned to not care about the little things. And realized how short life is.

TED SIMONS: Isn't that something. Well, congratulations. You're doing great work. Good luck with the origami cranes. They're beautiful.

AIRI KATSUTA: Thank you.

TED SIMONS: They’re absolutely gorgeous. And thank you for the photographs as well. And good luck. We wish you the best.

AIRI KATSUTA: Thank you.

Phoenix Coyotes Sale Imminent?

  |   Video
  • As the Phoenix Coyotes try to advance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, an ownership group is attempting to buy the team from the NHL and keep it in Arizona. Mike Sunnucks of the Phoenix Business Journal has the latest developments in this story.
  • Mike Sunnucks - Reporter, Phoenix Business Journal
Category: Sports   |   Keywords: phoenix, coyotes, sale, ,

View Transcript
TED SIMONS: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The race between President Obama and GOP front-runner Mitt Romney is, this time, a toss-up in Arizona. That's according to a new ASU Merrill-Morrison Institute poll. The telephone survey of 488 registered voters found that, when asked, if the presidential election winds up a choice between Obama and Romney, 42% of those polled said they would vote for Romney, with 40% voting for Obama. The poll has a Sampling error of plus or minus 4.4%. And for the first time in several decades, it appears that the number of Mexicans coming into the United States is less than or about equal to the number moving back to Mexico. The Pew Hispanic Center reports that net migration flow from Mexico to the U.S. has stopped and may have actually reversed. The report cites a variety of factors, including the recession and stronger border enforcement. As the coyotes try to advance in the Stanley Cup playoffs, a group of investors remains hopeful that they can buy the team from the NHL and keep the Coyotes in the valley. Joining me now is Mike Sunnucks, who is covering the story for the Phoenix business Journal. Good to see you, man; thanks for joining us.

MIKE SUNNUCKS: Good to see you.

TED SIMONS: What is the status of this particular city?

MIKE SUNNUCKS: Well, Greg Jamison, who is the former CEO and president of the San Jose Sharks, he still has a minority stake in the team, is putting together an investment group, and he’s trying to move forward with buying a team before the summer; that's kind of maybe our latest drop-dead date in this. He's still got to get some money together; he needs a deal with the city of Glendale, but he's kind of the ordained pick by the NHL and the city; they want to get a deal done with this guy, and it's just making the numbers work.

TED SIMONS: Tell us more about Greg Jamison. Who is he?

MIKE SUNNUCKS: He worked for the Pacers, he has some NBA experience, and he knows Gary Bettman, commissioner of the NHL. And he was a long-time executive for the Sharks in San Jose, ran the arena there. So he's a pro-sports executive hockey guy--served on the board of governors for NHL--pretty well respected around the league. Optimistic he can turn this thing around financially bottom-linewise, but he’s just getting the money together.

TED SIMONS: He did turn things around in San Jose, didn't he?

MIKE SUNNUCKS: Yeah, they’re very successful. They've been in the playoffs a lot, competed pretty well in the bay area. They were in San Jose, obviously the other teams were in Oakland and San Francisco, but they carved out a pretty good niche there; they attracted maybe more Hispanic fans than the coyotes do here. They were successful on the ice; that's been the biggest problem for the coyotes over the years. No playoffs when Gretzky was there, moved to the new arena, didn't have a lot of success. They’ve been in the playoffs the last three seasons but haven’t won a series. And winning a series is kind of important for them. Kind of from a bottom-line standpoint.

TED SIMONS: Indeed. Okay, but he has to find more investment money. Do we know where he has his money to begin with?

MIKE SUNNUCKS: It's been very quiet. He's been the only guy we've heard who’s part of this group. He has domestic sources, folks from Canada; they've looked at folks from other countries to get money.

TED SIMONS: What about local?

MIKE SUNNUCKS: He says he has some local folks; we're not hearing any names, though. They've made the rounds to folks you would expect to hear in professional sports around here. No idea whether those folks are investing at all. And they’ve been hat in hand for three years now, trying to find ownership to keep the team here. The NHL is very committed to keeping the team here, and they’ve been reaching out to a lot of folks; it's just when you lose $25 million a year, that's a tough go.

TED SIMONS: I thought three weeks ago, maybe a month ago, there were rumors all over the place that he had the money lined up; he had pretty much a done deal in place. What happened?

MIKE SUNNUCKS: This has been a fix and starts type of transaction for a number of years with a number of groups. Jamison had folks together, lost some of those investors trying to regain the remaining amount of those folks. He said maybe two months to get a deal done. That's pretty optimistic.

TED SIMONS: Okay, Let's talk about Glendale. You have to work out a lease. Correct?

MIKE SUNNUCKS: Yes, they own the arena out there. arena the city owns that. They've had an agreement and some payments to the NHL which owns the team. And so they need to do that with Jamison. Part of it is to run the arena; part of it is to help any owner absorb some of the losses of the team in the short-term while they turn it around.

TED SIMONS: So, the city would have to pay—they’ve been paying the NHL--they've been paying the NHL $25 million, or they were supposed to pay the NHL $25 million a year. I'm hearing anywhere from 11 to 17 million. That's what you're reporting, correct?

MIKE SUNNUCKS: Yes. The mayor has kind of soured on this Coyotes deal because she hasn't got a lot of information in this latest incarnation, supports 11 million. There are council members that will go with that. Perspective owners have wanted 20 million. That just happens to match the losses of the team. Jamison and city manager Ed Beasley I think are around 17 million. Maybe there's some wiggle room in between those two. It's interesting to see if this is a make or break for the deal. If they can't get the financing or the money if they don't get so much from the city.

TED SIMONS: Well, talking about getting something and so much from the city, where is the Goldwater Institute in all this?

MIKE SUNNUCKS: They're standing on the sidelines, ready to scrutinize a deal. They have not gotten a lot of information on this. They scuttled the deal with Matthew Hulsizer, which involved city bonds, threatened to sue, really ended that deal. One thing that's happened here is the NHL and Jamison's group and the city have not produced a lot of public documents on this. It's been very quiet. That's something that's annoyed the mayor Scruggs; it's also kept the Goldwater Institute from getting those public records and looking at them. So there's a lot of folks that think we'll get a deal in place, get it done really quick and give Goldwater very little time to do anything.

TED SIMONS: What is the difference since we’re talking about The Goldwater Institute? They went to the wall as far as the bond, city bonds and the Hulsizer group. Yet the city is still paying $25 million a year to the NHL. What's the difference?

MIKE SUNNUCKS: They haven't done that. It's always been curious. They were very aggressive on the bonds and pretty much ended the bonds. And they haven't taken action on the fees. It costs a certain amount to run an arena, probably not $25 million, maybe not even $17 million. So I think they're going to look at that. It's interesting to see if the Goldwater Institute has the bite to follow with their bark on some of these things.

TED SIMONS: Real quickly, as far as timetable, what? 30, 60 days?

MIKE SUNNUCKS: Yeah, we've heard 30, 60 days for a couple years now.

TED SIMONS: Yes we have. Yes.

MIKE SUNNUCKS: They want to get something done by the summer. If they had a deal in place, they could get it done while hockey is still being played I think they would try to do it. It’s when hockey is still being played I think they would try to do it. It’s when Hockey is front of mind for markets like Phoenix. Even if we're out of the playoffs, we've had a good season; people are thinking about hockey, that's when people are thinking about buying season tickets. The biggest disadvantage, they've had is they’ve been in the playoff the last three years, but who is going to buy season tickets when you think the team is going to be gone? So I think they'd like to get it done while hockey is still going on. If it hasn't got done and somebody is raising the cup, even if it’s the coyotes and nothing gets done and nothing looks like it’s progressing then we've got problems.

TED SIMONS: If the problems include the team wind up moving--Seattle, Quebec, that seems like a frontrunner, what would be the economic hit to Glendale?

MIKE SUNNUCKS: Well, they would have to absorb all the costs of the arena. The team does lose money but does create tax revenue. They would have to find some way to fill the dates, 40, 50 dates a year. The mayor has talked about minor league hockey, conventions, trade shows, religious groups coming in. These are things that they were not even talking about before. It was all about the coyotes. And so, Mayor Scruggs has talked about, “let’s be prepared for some alternatives.” So they still want to keep the team. The NHL still wants to keep it here. If they can cobble together a deal they'll keep it here. But if it hasn't gotten down now, when is it going to get done?

TED SIMONS: Last question: In the dim and distance part of rumorville, I'm hearing that there could be a move in place to try to get the Coyotes to move to downtown Phoenix at a refurbished U.S. Airways center, share with the suns. Or maybe a local tribe could build an arena on Indian land and there you go, the team stays here. No money, this, that, and the other. Are those just wild fantasies?

MIKE SUNNUCKS: I think they’re wild fantasies. I think people look at what can make hockey work here. Sharing with the Suns some kind of arrangement, that's worked in other markets. Even on the other side of town in Scottsdale, that has -- that has appealed there. You can say that works because you get more tourists, more Canadians coming to live there. But they have a lease with Glendale; I think Glendale would fight that tooth and nail. They fought so hard to keep the team; I think it's kind of unrealistic to think that will happen.

TED SIMONS: What's next?

MIKE SUNNUCKS: They win the series and move forward. I think Jamison has to get the money together. That’s the key. I think if they can get the money together, Glendale has a hard time saying no. The arena will be ruined they think if they don't have hockey there. So if you get the money together, I think Glendale goes with it.

TED SIMONS: Alright, good stuff. Good to have you here, Mike, thanks for joining us.


US Airways Merger Discussion

  |   Video
  • ASU Economist Dennis Hoffman discusses the effects of a possible merger between US Airways and American Airlines.
  • Dennis Hoffman - Economist, ASU
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: US, airways, merger, discussion, airplanes, travel, ASU, ,

View Transcript
TED SIMONS: Tempe-based U.S. Airways continues to express an interest in merging with bankrupt American Airlines. Here to tell us what a merger could mean for the local economy is Dennis Hoffman of ASU's W.P. Carey School of Business. Always good to have you here, Dennis, thanks for being here.

Dennis Hoffman: Good to be here.

TED SIMONS: Is this -- we hear this so much: this merger possible, merger maybe, how likely is this?

DENNIS HOFFMAN: Well, any particular deal, this one, any deal, could fall through for any number of reasons, especially through bankruptcy issues, negotiations with unions, etc. But if you look at the industry, some form of consolidation is clearly inevitable given the cost structures of the industry, the pressures they're under; if you just look at the pricing pressures that they're under, they've got to reach some efficiencies of consolidation in my opinion.

TED SIMONS: So with that in mind, why would both sides, these two particular sides, want a merger?

DENNIS HOFFMAN: Well, if you look at the history of America West over the years, I think there was a lot of talk around--remember when it was founded, there was a lot of talk that it was founded to grow a regional airline with an eye toward being taken over, and then the original owners would reap the benefits of selling it to a bigger airline. So I think consolidation in some form or selling, acquiring was always in the mind and the trajectory of the founders of America West, and now U.S. Air it.

TED SIMONS: Yeah, it seems to be surviving pretty well. Would U.S. Airways move headquarters to Dallas? Would they leave Tempe?

DENNIS HOFFMAN: That is the speculation. Let me tell you what that's founded on: well first of all, American is just far bigger than U.S. Airways. It has a significant presence in Dallas in terms of flight simulator, pilot training, service facilities; just a massive operation. And if one were going to exploit some efficiencies, it would seem to me that you'd want to cluster around that area, and then the speculation would be that the several hundred -- I've heard everything from 100 to, you know, 200, 300 employees in the Tempe facility would move, the management team would move to Dallas. That is the speculation. Remember, speculation is the -- is everything. In terms of the consequences for Tempe, 300 workers, even if it's 300, is a very, very small number that the entire state, 2.4 million employees march alone, net positive gains, 19,000, which was a great march by the way. But you know, it's just a swirl here in terms of economic activity. So that's a handful. I think it would be more of a greater concern if they consolidated some service operations or some other operations that are currently taking place in Phoenix and move some of those jobs to Dallas. Again, this is all speculation, and you're just looking at the business and saying, well, it only makes sense if they can consolidate and gain efficiencies, so then where will those efficiencies going to come from?

TED SIMONS: As far as the economic impact for Tempe, in particular, and for the valley in general, how much of a hit? That's a major presence in downtown Tempe for quite a while now? It is, and there's -- there's an image issue, there's a philanthropic issue--headquarters, you know, when you have your headquarters in a particular town, there's greater investments in terms of philanthropy in that town, signage in that town, investments in that town. We're clearly going to see a much greater presence of American Airlines in that's the name presumably if they go this direction, it's going to be American, and that's what we're going to see in place of U.S. air.

TED SIMONS: And if the operation does move to Dallas and headquarters does move to Dallas, does that change in terms of flights coming in and out, and does that change the local economic climate?

DENNIS HOFFMAN: You know, what we have significant hub here with U.S. air, Southwest hubs here. Those are our two main carriers here. Interestingly, American hubs in all of the major cities across the U.S., I think it
S like Miami, Chicago, Dallas, New York and L.A., and so the question is, “what do you do? Do you maintain both L.A. and Phoenix?” And my guess is there's plenty of room to do that. You could -- you have a lot of your international flights would go out of L.A. We don't have a strong international presence here, but we do serve in Phoenix, we serve routes across the U.S. back to the Midwest, back to the south, that kind of thing. So it would seem to me that there's plenty of room to have routes in L.A.--hubs, excuse me in L.A. and in Phoenix.

TED SIMONS: Last question: we've gotten used to these rumors, used to this kind of talk; we actually saw a merger in the not too distant pass. The changing nature of the airline industry. Do you just ride with it if you're Tempe? If you're the valley, do you just say, “We have to expect this every few years”?

DENNIS HOFFMAN: I think it's not just Tempe and the valley; I think all of us as airline consumers, we're going to have to ride with consolidation in this particular industry. You might be referencing the banking consolidations we've had also in the Phoenix area. Yes, I think it's part of the nature of the beast. Firms are looking to exploit efficiencies, and they're going to do so whenever they can. In terms of airlines, it's an imperative because if you look at historically, the real price, the inflation adjusted price of air travel, has been coming down relentlessly year after year, decade after decade.

TED SIMONS: All right. Well we'll see where this goes. Good information. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

DENNIS HOFFMAN: Thank you, Ted.