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August 19, 2014

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona’s Future: Civic Engagement, O’Connor House

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  • After serving on the highest court in the land, former United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor continues her commitment to service with the O’Connor House, which seeks to help increase voting rates. Find out what she has to say about her efforts to increase voting.
Category: Government   |   Keywords: government, arizona, future, sandra day o'connor, commitment, civic, engagement, voting, increase, rates,

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Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of Arizona's future looks at civic engagement. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has served our country her entire life, but as producer Shana Fischer reports Justice O'Connor is calling on others to do their civic duty.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Arizona's a great state. I love it. I grew up in a remote area on the east side of the state, and on a ranch that was very remote. On Election Day there, we had to drive over 30 miles to get to the nearest polling place where we could vote.

Shana Fischer: It's an experience Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has never forgotten. And one that would carry her to the highest court in the land as the first female U.S. Supreme Court justice. In 2009, three years after retiring from the court, the justice started O'Connor house. Sara Suggs is its CEO.

Sara Suggs: O'Connor house is a nonprofit organization founded by justice Sandra Day O'Connor to help solve important social, economic, and political problems through civil dialogue and civic action.

Shana Fischer: Under the watchful eye of the justice, O'Connor house tackles four key issues. Among them, civic responsibility.

Sandra Day O'Connor: We talk about the term "civic engagement" and I think what we're meaning when we talk with that is the notion that every one of us as citizens in our community needs to feel they're a part of it and that they will vote when there are things to vote on, and that they'll discuss things with fellow citizens where citizens' opinions matter.

Shana Fischer: And where those opinions matter the most, Suggs says, is in the voting booth. In 2012, after learning about the dismal voter turnout in Arizona, O'Connor house launched the great voter challenge.

Sara Suggs: We ranked 45th in the nation, which is really a very disappointing number, particularly that it was a presidential election year, which normally has a higher turnout than average. So in discussing this with justice O'Connor, we realized that this is simply not acceptable. And we have to do something about it. So the great voter challenge was such that we not one, issued the challenge to all Arizonans eligible, eligible citizens to register to vote, become informed and vote.

Shana Fischer: As we head into the election cycle this year, the numbers are on the upswing. But she is quick to add there is more work to do when it comes to getting people to the polls.

Sara Suggs: Apathy and some frustration with citizens' disgust, in some cases, current state of affairs, and sometimes people just want to throw their hands up and they give up. And they can't. Because only the vote, the vote of the people will change the course of action, change leadership is necessary, at any given level. And make a difference. Not voting is really through an act of omission, letting the collective greater good down.

Shana Fischer: Justice O'Connor is hopeful for Arizona's future when it comes to civic responsibility. Strong words from a woman who made some of the biggest decisions for our country, but who believes the greatest decisions are made by the people.

Sandra Day O'Connor: It matters to me, and it should matter to all of us. We get to pick our leaders at the local level, the town council, we get to pick our county officials, we get to pick our state legislators. And our governor. The state officials, and we're so lucky as citizens to get to do that. And so our job I think as adults is to encourage all our neighbors and friends to vote, to encourage everyone to vote when they have the opportunity. So that it's a collective decision we all make when we select our leaders.

Ted Simons: Arizona primary election is August 26th. Early voting is already underway. For more information on the O'Connor house, visit

Ted Simons: Wednesday on "Arizona Horizon," we'll hear why ASU was chosen to design and operate a camera system for Mars -- NASA's Mars mission. That and more and on the next "Arizona Horizon."

Ted Simons: That it is for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Sustainability: Phoenix Metro Air Pollution Study

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  • An Arizona State University professor has done an in-depth analysis of air pollution in the Phoenix area that is longer than most studies of its kind and also looks at the size of particulate pollution. Professor Tom Cahill says that’s important because smaller particles can make it deep into our lungs. Cahill will discuss his report.
  • Tom Cahill - Professor, Arizona State University
Category: Sustainability   |   Keywords: sustainability, phoenix, metro, air, pollution, studies, particles, report,

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Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons.

Ted Simons: An ASU professor recently completed an in-depth analysis of air pollution in the Phoenix area. The study looks specifically at the size and number of particulates in the valley's air. Here to talk about his report is ASU professor Tom Cahill -- it's good to have you here. This is always interesting with air pollution, but let's start by defining air pollution.

Tom Cahill: Well, nowadays people like to use the term air quality. The reason being is not all the particulate matter in the atmosphere is man-made. Dust,spores,pollen. They're all natural. So people like to refer to it as air quality to incorporate both the natural and the man made. But basically air pollution can be divide in addition two categories. One are gasses, like ozone, carbon monoxide, the other is particulate matter, basically the solid material in the atmosphere. Dust, soot, pollen, spores, etc.

Ted Simons: What do we know about particulate pollution?

Tom Cahill: Well, most often people measure just particulate matter. If you watch the evening news and you see the forecast of health warning, and in winter it's due to particulates. Particulates come from many sources. They can come from vehicles, from wood-fire power plants, from fireplaces, from power plants, they can be natural, they can be dust, pollen, they can be spores.

Ted Simons: And again, your study looked at the size of these particulates and there is a difference, because those bigger ones may seem worse, but they're not worse, are they?

Tom Cahill: Well, the bigger ones tend to be more innocuous in terms of chemistry. They tend to be large particles. They'll be dust, they're going to be pollen, they're going to be spores. Most of these are natural. We don't have to worry too much about them. It's the smaller particles which actually have the more toxic origins. Mostly combustion -- Vehicle, welding, fireplace.

Ted Simons: More toxic because they get into the bloodstream?

Tom Cahill: For two reasons. One, your nose and upper bronchial tracts have mechanisms to screen out big particles. There are defenses against it. The smaller particles can defense those mechanisms, hence they can get deeper into the lung and your body does not have as many defense mechanisms deep in your lung. After all, the whole idea of the lung is to get efficient exchange of gasses across into the bloodstream. So the small particles can more easily get absorbed by the body and circulate within the body.

Ted Simons: So it sounds to me like you see the haboob and you see these massive dust storms and think oh, bad stuff is coming. But much of that is larger particulate as opposed to maybe the stuff you don't see with exhaust.

Tom Cahill: Well, the larger particulate from the haboobs are basically dirt, dust being blown around. The advantage of the dust, is that it settles quickly. You may have really bad air quality for a couple hours, and then it settles down. So actually in terms of the long-term average, those storms are impressive, but don't contribute much to the long-term particulate load. What's more worrisome is the winter time aerosols. One, they last in the atmosphere for days or weeks, and two, they are the ones that get into your lung more readily. The big dust gets screened out by your nose.

Ted Simons: When you say days or weeks, you're talking those inversions.

Tom Cahill: Exactly. The problem with the inversion is it traps all the air pollution we generate near ground level. By having a smaller volume of air we put the same pollution into it, it stagnates. It just sit there's and builds up. In the summer, we have the sun warming the ground, the air aloft and takes pollution witness. Therefore the pollution is swept out very efficiently in the summer, whereas in the winter it's trapped in us. Or trapped at ground level with us.

Ted Simons: Yeah. And we wind up breathing it in. Your study in general, tell us, what you were looking at looking for and what you found.

Tom Cahill: What we were looking for was the following -- Most people that measure particulate matter measure one value. It's the amount of mass in the air at a particular time. They boat bother to differentiate based on size, other than micron parts. And they don't dot chemistry out. There's only really one site in all Phoenix that EPA runs that does any chemical -- Looks what the particulate matter is made of. The reason being, it's important to know what the particulate matter is made of. Don't tell me a gram of sand and dust is as toxic as diesel soot. So you really need to look at what the particulate matter is made of, in addition to its size in order to understand how hazardous it is. So what we did is focused on learning both the composition and the size fractions of the aerosols present. So we did chemical speciation for each of nine size fractions, for the coarse dust stages to the very fine ultrafine stages. And that way we can separate the biological dust and pollen mass, which is harmless, away from the much more toxic soot.

Ted Simons: And when you did that separation, were there any surprises out there? First, where did you -- Where were the locations for these things?

Tom Cahill: For simplicity we set up on the ASU west campus at Thunderbird and rd, and so we're in a pretty representative suburban area in Phoenix. We're not downtown, we're not out in the very fringe. So we're really a good representative air quality sample. So what we found basically is what you'd expect. That the winter time aerosols tend to be smaller and combustion-related. Everyone loves to blame wood smoke. In fact we have no-burn days specifically designed to limit emissions. The only problem S. the inversion traps all pollutants. So we have tracers that show us which smoke is highest in the winter, but also vehicle exhaustion is highest in the winter. But wait, vehicles -- Source strength is not changing, the same number of cars is roughly on the road as winter and summer. That's the effect of the inversion.

Ted Simons: But it still makes sense, do you think, to have these non-burning days for wood? Yes, they're different, and -- But they're all getting trapped. You want less trap, don't you?

Tom Cahill: The no-burn days are a good idea. But they're not necessarily the only solution out there. We need to slowly work on the additional sources that are starting to be called the off-road sources. Things like lawn equipment, barbecues that may also add to additional pollution to the atmosphere. But, yes, no-burn days are a good idea. The only problem is enforcement.

Ted Simons: No kidding. So anything surprise you, anything you -- When the study was done? This is a comprehensive study. Anything you went, I didn't expect that.

Tom Cahill: The main thing is how little of an effect the haboob had. I expected that there would be a lot of soil contaminants, basically microbes, spores, detritus, and they'd have a strong organic signature. A bunch of fatty acides in biological materials, sugars. I expected them to be higher. In retrospect it makes sense because there isn't that much organic material in soil to begin with in the desert. Desert soils are low in organic material. So I expected more, but it was not a factor.

Ted Simons: Last question here -- What do we take from this study, what should we do with the information that you studied?

Tom Cahill: Well, let me take your question and rephrase it. What can you do about air quality? Basically the single best suggestion I have for you is get a good filter for your air conditioning, heating system. And the reason being is they can filter out a lot of the fine particulate matter. In particular, they can get rid of the fine particulate matter that can enter your homes. Everyone thinks of the haboobs, you go indoors and you're protected. Yes, they're coarse aerosol and they're short-lived, but in winter, they get indoors. Once again, how much time do you spend outdoors? We spend most of our life indoors. Whether it's home or work. So by cleaning up the air where we're breathing it makes the most sense.

Ted Simons: Lastly, for those of us who jog in the mornings, do exercise outside in the mornings, should you wait a while in the winter? Maybe get past that morning and get to where the sunburns some of that off?

Tom Cahill: The sun doesn't burn it off. It may lift it. When the sun warms the ground, the warm air starts to rise and will lift the inversion. I'm not sure how much of a difference it would make. You might have to wait a few hours, which cuts into work.

Ted Simons: You get -- Very interesting stuff. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

Tom Cahill: Thank you.

Veterans’ Reintegration with Families

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  • Veterans returning from service are not the only ones facing adjustments to life back home. Their families also see challenges in dealing with a returning military member. Don de Mars, a counselor employed by the Veterans Administration to provide clinical services to veterans and their families, will talk about issues faced on the home front when soldiers come back home.
  • Don de Mars - Counselor, Veterans Administration
Category: Military   |   Keywords: military, veterans, families, reintegration, clinical, services, home,

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Ted Simons: Drive a few miles north of strawberry on highway , nearly miles on rugged forest roads along the edge and into the deep woods atop the Mogollon rim, then scamper feet down the southern edge of a rocky canyon, and you'll come upon a monument to the battle of big dry wash. The site looks much as it did on July th, . When a party of over Apaches waited to ambush cavalry led by captain Chaffee. The troops were guided by Al secret who discovered the trap and warned the soldiers. The Apache had no idea they were now surrounded, outnumbered and they had lost the element of surprise. Nearly half the Apache were killed -- only two troopers died in the melee. The names of the cavalry that took part in the fight are listed on the back of the rarely visited massive stone monument. Including lieutenant Thomas Cruz, who won the medal of honor. The battle of big dry wash was the last battle fought between the Apaches and army regulars.

Ted Simons: Tonight at 7 we here on eight are broadcasting an ask an expert show that allows for viewers to call in and ask an expert on the challenges faced by returning veterans and their families. Joining us now Don De Mars, a counselor employed by the veterans administration to provide clinical services to veterans and their families. Thank you so much for being here. We want to reminder folks late they're evening at you'll be able to call in and ask folks like you personal questions, specific questions and these sorts of things. It's a good program and it's something we're very proud of. But kind of as a hint, a teaser for the show, we've got you here. The vets center program, what is that?

Don de Mars: It's a service that came about in reaction to the Vietnam war, and specifically veterans' frustration with V.A.s. It has its own budget that's authorized by Congress, and it's mandated to provide services, clinical services to veterans and families who have been deployed to a war zone. The services offered range from individuals, marriage, family, group psychotherapy, and we attempt to work hand in hand with the V.A., particularly mental health providers that are prescribing medications to combat veterans.

Ted Simons: As far as the challenges facing vets reintegrating into society, you mentioned there were problems in the past, were those problems in the past. Are those problems the same after all these years?

Don de Mars: I think they're probably more intensified, because of the number of deployments that veterans have gone through. If you remember, a deployment to Vietnam, if you were in the United States Army, spanned 12 months, marine it expand 13 months. Our veterans that are returning from war today have been deployed three, four, five times. And the war changes each and every deployment.

Ted Simons: So with that in mind, common signs of trauma related symptoms.

Don de Mars: The PTSD, they will encounter intrusive images, thoughts, memories. Nightmares, flash backs of the event. Hyper arousal, where the person will experience a flood of energy, as a result of the activation of the sympathetic nervous system. That galvanizes them to fight, flight, or freeze. Typically they will develop efforts to cope with the symptoms by way of avoidance, for example, avoiding large crowds, avoiding walking streets at night, avoiding interacting over the telephone with people that maybe calling, etc., and then numbing. Numbing may occur through work, working compulsively, alcohol, drugs. Many are coming back, however, numb anyway as a result of having been exposed to constant death.

Ted Simons: As far as the families are concerned, obviously the families are not being exposed to consent death. They can try as hard as they can, they just don't have that experience. How do they know it's time to see someone, it's time. How do you go from someone who is being moody to someone who needs help?

Don de Mars: If I can demonstrate, if you allow my slinky to represent the individual, the human organism, and his expenditure of energy, this would be considered normal function. Then if the person engages in exercise, this would be the normal state of expenditure of energy. If the person is traumatized, you find this. The veteran returns and suppress these energy, holding it within. The family, going about its daily business, is seeking to have access emotional connection with him. And on occasion when they do this, the energy explodes. In the form of rage or anger. Any evidence of that obviously is a telltale sign that the veteran is wounded, and needs services.

Ted Simons: And those services, what is out there, what's most commonly seen out there?

Don de Mars: Well, if you take the vet center experience, we're seeing veterans coming in with multiple deployments who are having a difficulty adjusting to civilian life because they feel so alienated. Their survival system was their battle Buddy back in the war zone, and they've left that survival system, and feel very, very vulnerable. Their families are making expectations for them to return, to share the burden of labor in the household, to meet their spouses' needs, and they're just not available. And for the family, it's necessary for them to accept that for a period of time, and help to mobilize the veteran towards seeking help, either at the vet centers for individual, group, family, marital, what have you.

Ted Simons: A lot of times the family needs help too. They've got to figure this out too.

Don de Mars: Absolutely. The family will typically mobilize its resources to try to contain and nullify the symptoms of the symptom bearer, and subsequently their individual needs are not being met. And so they'll come in often times more emotionally distressed than the veteran himself. And when you take the instance of children, children are solely dependent on their parents for just about everything. So if the veteran reacts and a relationship rupture ensues the child will accept responsibility for that. This is my fault. You project that over several decades, you can see the effect would it have on the youngster's self-esteem.

Ted Simons: Yeah. All right. So, let's talk about a healthy readjustment. What contributes to getting back -- Getting that reintegrate on a healthy basis?

Don de Mars: The veteran and the spouse have to step up. The veteran has to acknowledge and seek the appropriate treatment as a result of his exposure to death. The spouse likewise needs to seek treatment because during that time the veteran is attempting to recover from his trauma, she needs to take care of herself, so at our vets center, for example, we have a spousal group, led by Christine Johnson, and they use that support group to learn about PTSD, to learn strategies, to help cope with the trauma within the household, etc.

Ted Simons: You mentioned acknowledgment on the side of the family and the veteran. How difficult is that?

Don de Mars: For the veteran it has a lot to do with acknowledging he's weak, or vulnerable. Should be able to cope. It's not as nearly as difficult for the wife. But what is common to both wife, children, and husband is this tendency to try to close ranks and keep that information from the outside world for fear of being judged.

Ted Simons: All right. So the message veterans and families need to hear, we have the ask an expert show tonight here on 8 channel at 7pm. But before we get there, just from our conversation, folks watching right now, they're thinking, that sounds like so-and-so, that sounds like the family down the street, that sounds -- What do they need to know?

Don de Mars: They need to know that it's really important to do whatever is necessary to help that veteran acquire the assistance they needs. I also think it's very, very important if I can quote the Dalai Lama, that they -- If they really wish to make the veteran happy they need to practice compassion. If they wish to make themselves happy, they need to practice compassion. Compassion is the key to overcome the veterans' resistance to seeking treatment.

Ted Simons: And you've been doing this a long time. Have you seen that concept of compassion emphasized more now than it may have been in the past?

Don de Mars: It should be. In my practice it is.

Ted Simons: Because in the old days there was a tough it out syndrome going.

Don de Mars: Yes, sir.

Ted Simons: Is that still around a little bit?

Don de Mars: In the veterans ranks, absolutely. Absolutely. John Wayne has revisited another generation. Now it would be Clint eastwood.

Ted Simons: It's good information. Thank you so much for joining us. And again, that ask an expert show, people like you will be standing by on the phones for more particular and more specific calls as we run that program later tonight. Thank you so much.

Don de Mars: Yes, sir.