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September 13, 2012

Host: Ted Simons

Egyptian Perspective on Anti-American Riots

  |   Video
  • Kareem Awadalla, the host of a political program for the Egyptian Radio and Television Union, and a Humphrey Fellow who’s currently studying journalism at ASU, shares his perspective on riots and violence against U.S. diplomatic compounds taking place in the Middle East.
  • Kareem Awadalla - Host, Egyptian Radio and Television Union, ASU Humphrey Fellow
Category: Politics   |   Keywords: Egypt, protests, riots, ASU, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: An anti-Islam film made in America, its trailer posted on YouTube, incited protests and riots in the Middle East this week. News of the film enraged and provoked demonstrators outside the U.S. embassy in Egypt. In Libya, the violence turned tragic when Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three other American diplomats, were killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in the state of Benghazi.
Video [President Obama]: It’s especially tragic that Chris Stevens died in Benghazi, because it's a city he helped to save. At the height of the Libyan revolution, Chris led our diplomatic post in Benghazi. With characteristic skill, courage, and resolve, he built partnerships with Libyan revolutionaries and helped them as they planned to build a new Libya.
Video [Hillary Clinton]: Many Americans are asking, indeed I asked myself, how could this happen? How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction? This question reflects just how complicated, and at times how confounding, the world can be.
Ted Simons: And for some perspective on these events in the Middle East, I spoke with Kareem Awadalla, he hosts a political program for the Egyptian radio and television union and he's currently studying at ASU's Cronkite School of journalism as part of his 10 month Humphrey fellowship. I spoke with Kareem earlier today. Thank you so much for joining us tonight on "Arizona Horizon."
Kareem Awadalla: Thanks for having me.
Ted Simons: Let's try to find out what's going on here. Why are these protests breaking out? Is it only because of this film or is something else going on here?
Kareem Awadalla: First, my condolences to the family of Mr. Chris Stevens, the former ambassador in Libya and all the people that have, all the families that have lost someone or relative in what happened in Libya. And to understand what's going on in the Middle East, we have to go back more than 11 years ago. Because I think it started during the war against Iraq, this kind of mass destruction, weapons that they claimed Iraq had and they apologized because they discovered nothing was there. After that 9-11, these are the major steps, 9-11 and after 9-11, the American administration has clarified that it is time to have war against terrorism, and before I -- I have to say something, part of this even in the United States, during 9-11 I believe some of your international news, big News Corporations have been, I don't know, airing people dancing, and celebrating the things of 9-11. I do remember this day very good, because my birthday is on the 11th of September so I was in Egypt and I know for a fact this wasn't the case. However, after this 9-11 thing, your administration has claimed this is -- claimed a war against terrorism, which was in the beginning declared a very good thing. In Egypt for instance we had our share with terrorism in the 1990s. Anyone imagining life without terrorism, this is great thing. And then all of a sudden it turned into war against Islam.
Ted Simons: Who said it was war against Islam?
Kareem Awadalla: That’s a good thing. No, I cannot point fingers saying who said so, but that's the way it turned. That's the way the direction was changed towards this part, and no one was not -- was coming and saying, this is not what we mean. We are not against Islam in general, the kind of people who use maybe a Islam to legalize any terrorist activities. But this is the perception that it turned to be war against Islam. During that time, I cannot blame or point fingers who did say so, who is responsible for marketing this idea, but I can just say it would be much better for the United States or the administration to come and say, this is not what we mean. This is not what we want, because this had a very bad implication afterwards.
Ted Simons: Before we go on though, President Bush, on numerous occasions, said this was not a war against Islam. Numerous occasions. President Obama has gone out of his way to the point where he's being criticized by Americans for bending too far forward in saying, this is not a war against Islam, it is a war against radical violent extremist Islam. How much more needs to be said, and does it need to be said in a different way?
Kareem Awadalla: A different way would be -- yes. Speaking back to George Bush era, which actually honestly speaking the United States has not been hated any more than that, worldwide. I don't know, I'm speaking even about the Middle East -- during that time it wasn't really the best time for the United States. Maybe he came out saying that this is not war against Islam, but the actions were not like that. We had Iraq under attack, Afghanistan under attack, and Muslim countries under attack. Not only that, there has been rumors in the Islamic countries and very strong rumors saying, for instance, United States is forcing the former government to change the service of religion for the students. The United States is out to get Muslims. When you go to United States, you have to take off your shoes and you treated very badly because you are Muslim. This is some of it is completely rumor, however, I've been reporting, I told my friends who work for the American Embassy, are you aware these rumors are there, and they say yes, and I say, “Why don't you address it? Going and going and going and actually not addressing can these rumors you're giving a very fertile soil for people with prejudice to use this kind of thing and to feed the paranoia that the United States is against Islam.
Ted Simons: I can hear people right now watching and listening to what you're saying and say what more do we need to do to keep those folks from being paranoid and believing in rumors? I can only stop so many rumors about me before I start thinking, this is isn't a me problem, it's a you problem. You’re the one believing--
Kareem Awadalla: You said what more. What did you do then in the beginning? In the first place?
Ted Simons: The president -- the United States repeatedly mentioned, went to a mosque, went out of his way to show this was not a war against Islam.
Kareem Awadalla: You're speaking about Obama?
Ted Simons: I'm speaking about any president. Which president of the United States has gone out of his way to say this is a war against Islam?
Ted Simons: Again, it's a matter of actions more than speaks. The action was going again, I know the words were like that, however words were not so much marketed during that time. Actions were more violent towards Islam. Something else, you were saying something I forgot what --
Ted Simons: I want to get back to what's going on --
Kareem Awadalla: You said something very important, I want to address.
Ted Simons:I do want to get to this film and why this stuff is happening right now. A film that is -- it's a trailer for a film that may not even exist, and it's poorly done by all accounts, it's hardly anything that would make -- why is this causing the Middle East to explode?
Kareem Awadalla: Can I just say something before we go to this point? The thing is, the United States, the people in the United States, yesterday I've seen Mr. Romney coming on CNN, saying it's not right, apologize for our values. The thing is, since when do you think the people worldwide know your values and understand it? The thing is people don't believe, don't know how things go in the United States. I received phone calls from people in my country saying are you safe, I say yes, and how are things going? I said how is things going? It's OK, but the American administration should not approve such a movie like that. This is something you don't understand. This is something that's happening. Egypt, for instance, is the third world's biggest country in the movie industry because we -- there is Bollywood, Hollywood and Egypt. Any movie to be produced, they should take approval over the script from the government, that is not provoking any minorities, religion, any kind of countries. So this is the way people think it is in the United States. Again, this is something you never address to the people from my country or from other countries. So they believe the concept is, having this movie going on this time, this means this movie got the approval from the American administration and the American administration is encouraging this kind of --
Ted Simons: Is that what the average Egyptian believes?
Kareem Awadalla: It's actually most of the Egyptians. No one ever had said the way it is in the United States is not like the way it's happening --
Ted Simons: So every film we send to the Middle East we need to say that the big LEBOWSKY doesn't exist, Fargo people don't really exist?
Kareem Awadalla: No. Not with every movie you're doing. What should be happening is that as long as your culture is -- you should deliver a complete image of what you have. What should be known or educated or told to the people from the Middle East, that the American administration has nothing to do with approving any kind of movies. This is not the way things are. Like yesterday, for instance, Mr. Obama was having a great speech saying that this movie we don't agree with what's going on, we don't encouraging that. But this is freedom of speech. Again today people over the CNN from Egypt and from Libya and other countries saying Obama is guilty. Why Barack Obama is guilty? Because he didn't say that I don't have anything to do with approving it. Still the people --
Ted Simons: OK. Last point. We've got to get going. The last point, obviously this is a fascinating discussion here. Obviously, I'm hearing that the United States isn't doing this, isn't doing that, isn't doing this, that, and the other, because folks in the Middle East are perceiving this, that, and the other. At what point is there a responsibility among those in the Middle East to investigate, to do a little work before believing everybody rumor that comes down the pike?
Kareem Awadalla: I agree with you. There's big deal to be done. Actually, what's happening in Libya is separate from what's happening in Egypt. What's happening in Egypt, you, sum it up as people protesting. It's a movie they don't like. I would address why, because I know in the United States having provoking religion is not a big deal to you, it's not as sensitive as it is in the Middle East. To give you an example, how sensitive is it for the people in the Middle East, especially with the United States having this kind of bad history that the United States is out to get Islam, it's as sensitive, as if someone is having, let's say a movie promoting racism, or promoting torture among, I don't know, people from different racism. This would be disaster in your country. People will not perceive it in a good way.
Ted Simons: We would not perceive it in a good way. It would not be a disaster. No one would care. No one would watch it.
Kareem Awadalla: No, I don't think so.
Ted Simons: You don't think so? How long have you been in this country? You don't think so?
Kareem Awadalla: Yeah. I --
Ted Simons: I can tell you about art exhibits that have curled my hair. And they come, they go, and no one kills anyone over them.
Kareem Awadalla: No, no, no. I'm not speaking about killing. I'm speaking about protest and people are angry from that. I'm not saying this would be a matter of killing. I've been to -- I don't remember the name of the institution, the black people in journalism or something, minorities in journalism, and I've said it is a very sensitive issue.
Ted Simons: Of course it is.
Kareem Awadalla: So it is as sensitive as addressing religion in the Middle East. Especially -- I believe if you have the same movie, speaking about any other prophet in the United States and projecting this prophet as homosexual, womanizer, and child molester and this kind of thing, in any other religion people in the United States wouldn't be happy as well. This would create like unhappiness feeling, protests, not reaching killing someone, which is something I don't agree, I don't approve with. And hope luckily things will not turn to be like that in most of the country.
Ted Simons: We have to stop it right there. Very good discussion. It's good to have you here. Thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
Kareem Awadalla: Thanks so much for having me. I'm so much happy that I had the chance to speak with people and hopefully this will change something.
Ted Simons: Thank you very much.
Kareem Awadalla: Thanks. I just would like to say something -- my discussion was not here to defend someone or to fight or speak in the name of someone. Neither am I here to offer any more condolences. I was just trying to highlight the difference between things that is causing this kind of very high tension.
Ted Simons: Done deal. Thank you so much.
Kareem Awadalla: Thanks for having me.

The State of Arizona Cities

  |   Video
  • Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny and Kenny Evans, the Mayor of Payson, talk about the state of Arizona’s cities and their role in growing the State’s economy.
  • Jay Tibshraeny - Mayor, Chandler
  • Kenny Evans - Mayor, Payson
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: state, arizona, cities, chandler, mayor, payson, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons.
Ted Simons: Arizona's cities and towns play a key part in creating jobs and growing the state's economy. Arizona cities also face challenges concerning water, transit, and other issues. Here to talk about the state of Arizona cities are Chandler mayor Jay Tibshraeny, and Kenny Evans, the mayor of Payson. Good to have you both here. Thanks for joining us. The annual league of cities and towns conference, what goes on here? What's happening?
Jay Tibshraeny: That's a yearly thing we do. All the cities from throughout the state gather, and we have seminars and educational opportunities, but it's also an opportunity for all of us from different parts of the state to interact, talk, maybe share problems, solutions, opportunities, things like that. So it's been a very good conference the last few years I've been back doing that, and I've enjoyed it, and this year was no exception.
Ted Simons: The kind of thing where smaller cities and towns can say here's our problems, let's work on them.
Kenny Evans: Many of the smaller cities and towns obviously have huge challenges before us right now, and relatively small staffs compared to the big cities. So this gives us an opportunity to share ideas and maybe come up with some solutions that we wouldn't have been able to implement otherwise.
Ted Simons: Talk about some of the challenges facing smaller cities and towns in Arizona.
Kenny Evans: You know, rural Arizona is always a leading indicator going into a depression or recession, and they were this time as well. They're also generally a trailing indicator coming out of a recession. So we start earlier and we generally last longer. But our challenges are not unique to us. They are typical of cities and towns across Arizona, it's just that they've been deeper and harder. For instance, our budget we had to cut over 53-percent. So we're operating on 47-percent of the budget we had in 2007. The challenges are there, the same that Jay and the other big cities face, but they're deeper.
Ted Simons: Your big city, though, seems to be on an upswing as far as tech jobs, Intel, and these sorts of things. How do you move that into maybe another city which has an entirely different set of challenges?
Jay Tibshraeny: I don't know how we move what we're doing into another city. When I was Mayor I think we set the stage for a lot of things that are happening now and happened before. My predecessors also did that. You've got some unique circumstances. We've got a good high-tech corridor where Intel is located, where they did the $5 billion expansion that they're currently working on. E-bay, PayPal is located in that corridor. We have three data centers, from large corporations that have located in that corridor. So we've created a good atmosphere for high-tech and for high employment type opportunities in Chandler. How other cities do that, I don't know. That's something they got to work on. But we think we have a pretty good blueprint.
Ted Simons: Indeed, cities as economic engines, one of the focuses we'd like to talk about here. Things are focusing on. For a smaller city and town, still an economic engine for the region. Correct?
Kenny Evans: Absolutely. If you look at the town of Payson as a classic example of what's going on all across rural Arizona, we've been able to bring three major manufacturing facilities to create several hundred jobs to our community. As a result of working closely with those private sector businesses. We now have the third largest manufacturer of target ammunition for military, police departments, etc. in the country. And you say why would they locate in Payson, Arizona? We're not on a railroad, the answer is that the president of the company when interviewed by "Wall Street Journal" said, we looked at the big cities, and what we were looking for was a community, a town that would truly be a partner with us in this enterprise.
Ted Simons: And that is a big deal, to stay -- the state talks about bringing business in, --- but it really does focus down to municipalities.
Jay Tibshraeny: It does. We obviously need good state policy, tax policy, but the rubber hits the road when those companies contact Kenny's office or in my case they contact my office and talk about, here, here's what we want to do, how is your city going to work with us, how is this going to work through the planning and development, and the operational aspect of our company locating in Chandler? So, yeah, ultimately those decisions and how those companies feel are at the local level on how they feel coming away from meeting with you determines whether they'll locate in Arizona and our cities.
Ted Simons: When we talk about economic engines and cities and towns being in the forefront here. Work that dynamic for us with collaborating with the state. Collaborating with the feds on a variety of concerns. How does that work, what are the challenges, what are the benefits?
Jay Tibshraeny: We have to collaborate, and we all have to work together. The feds, I don't work as close with them, but there's obviously things the federal level we need them to do. But the state is a good example. Worked close with our legislative delegation last year, we ran through a bill, senate bill 1442 that will help large employment, large manufacturing companies locate into Arizona by giving certain tax benefits to those companies, and also in the rural areas we have some thresholds for the thrillers. But to do that kind of legislation, you have to have good relationships with the legislature and the governor's office to get that. So it's paramount that we as cities and our legislators work close together, because we're tied at the hip on a lot of this stuff.
Ted Simons: Yet revenue sharing has been a bugaboo in recent years. What's the latest on that?
Kenny Evans: We continue to struggle. The numbers from revenue sharing are down. We continue to fight to protect that revenue stream. But as Jay said, one of the things we've been able to do is develop other avenues to help us keep that economic engine going. As an example, when the governor created the ACA, the Arizona Commerce Authority, in place of the old commerce department, we saw a huge improvement in their attitude toward rural communities and helping us develop a balanced economy across the state of Arizona instead of it all being focused in the state of Maricopa.
Ted Simons: Interesting. Water concerns. Always major in Arizona, obviously we can talk about Chandler in a second, but up in Payson I know you have that Blue Ridge Reservoir, talk to us about that in particular, and water concerns in general for smaller towns.
Kenny Evans: Interestingly enough, we had a unique opportunity to work with our federal representatives in particular with Jon Kyle and with our local officials and with our mining industry. We were able to secure a sustained, long-term water right out of the blue ridge reservoir, about 25 miles north of Payson that will quadruple the amount of total available water in our community. So we've gone from a water starved community to a community that now water is no longer the limiting factor. So it's huge for us. We've been able to get assistance on federal financing on federal grants to help us cover the costs of that reservoir and the pipeline, the 25-mile pipeline to come down the hill. So we're going from a system that was water starved, and that spent a lot of energy pumping water out of the ground, to one that will generate power coming down off the rim as the water comes into the town.
Ted Simons: With a whole new set of challenges in terms of planning I would imagine. That's a different Payson in the future.
Kenny Evans: It is a Payson that's based on having a university in town, on having a very different dynamic.
Ted Simons: Water issues, transit issues. These sorts of things. The challenges there for a bigger community like Chandler.
Jay Tibshraeny: We're in the desert, so all of the valley cities have to address water carefully. Not only to supply it and have enough for your residents, but these businesses that we're talking about locating in Arizona and the valley, are heavily intensive users of water. Intel is a significant user of water. The data centers, for example, significant users of water. So number one you have to have a supply, and you have to be able to expand your water system. But then you have to do things, we recycle all of our wastewater in Chandler and, reuse it in non-potable uses, whether that be landscaping, green belt areas, lakes, water reclamation, things like that. We have to be very innovative with water. The transit system in the valley is improving, and getting better in spite of the economy. We're seeing light rail expand, we're seeing good use on the bus service, and so as we as a metropolitan area grow, and want to attract industry, which we do, and businesses, and good businesses, we have to be able to move people other than in their cars. The transit system and the emphasis we'll put on transit will continue to be at the forefront.
Ted Simons: What are transit issues and concerns for smaller cities and towns away from major freeways and such? Obviously you've got 216 and 87 up there, but just in general for a smaller town?
Kenny Evans: The construction of those have been moving along fairly well. The challenge we have is maintaining those roads and maintaining them in a condition where they're going to provide reliable access to those rural communities. As you saw in the news last night, that can be a major challenge in rural areas. So our area is luckily has a freeway that puts us only 70 minutes away from the valley. But for many of the rural areas, maintaining the infrastructure that is the transportation system becomes a real challenge for them.
Ted Simons: That's a really good point -- maintaining. It's one thing to grow and get all excited and everything is all brand-new, but maintaining all this stuff, that's an issue as well.
Jay Tibshraeny: It costs money. And I think when you have a downturn like we just are coming out of, one of the areas that gets cut in the budgets of the cities and towns throughout the state is maintenance. So right now some of the cities are playing catch-up on maintaining roads and water and sewer. And your lights and on and on. So we at Chandler were pretty good about setting aside one-time money to help fill that gap. But you can't get too far behind on those repairs or you get into costly, costly, costly repairs in the future. So you have to stay up on your maintenance. But it did suffer in the downturn.
Ted Simons: And is it getting better in Payson?
Kenny Evans: It is, but we're as Jay said, one of our challenges is like the old auto mechanic ad on the television for so long, you can pay me now or pay me later. And one of our challenges is we weren't paying all along, so now we're playing catch-up like all the cities across Arizona. That's a real challenge for us.
Ted Simons: All right. We've got to stop it there. Gentlemen, good to have you here, thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.
Jay Tibshraeny: Thank you, Ted.
Kenny Evans: Thank you, Ted.