Monday, February 13, 2017

Monday News in Mid-February of 2017

From the 1960’s to the 1980’s, the city of Phoenix further developed. The city metropolitan area has grown and it became a large tourist destination. It has an exotic desert setting. Many recreational opportunities existed and nightlife plus civil events flourished in the Central Avenue. By this time, Central Avenue was filled with skyscrapers. The Phoenix Corporate Center opened in 1960. Back then, it was the tallest building in Arizona at 341 feet. By 1964, there was the completion of the Rozenweig Center or Phoenix City Square. Architect Wenceslaus Sarmiento's largest project, the landmark Phoenix Financial Center (better known by locals as the "Punch-card Building" in recognition of its unique southeastern facade), was also finished in 1964. In addition to a number of other office towers, many of Phoenix's residential high-rises were built during this decade. The growth in Phoenix didn’t transpire evenly. This pattern existed in other cities too. The growth was mainly in the city’s north side, which was a location that was nearly all white. In 1962, one local activist testified at a U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hearing. This person said that of 31,000 homes that was recently spurning up in the neighborhood, not a single one had been sold to an African American. Phoenix’s African American and Mexican American communities remained mostly in the south side of Phoenix. The color lines were so rigid that no one north of Van Buren Street would rent to the African American baseball star Willie Mays (who was in town for spring training during the 1960’s). In 1964, a reporter from the New Republic wrote of segregation in these terms: "Apartheid is complete. The two cities look at each other across a golf course." People would fight against segregation in Phoenix too. In 1965, the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum was opened on the grounds of the Arizona State Fair. This location was west of downtown. In 1968, the city was awarded the Phoenix Suns NBA franchise in a surprising fashion. The Phoenix Suns played its home games at the Coliseum until 1992. By 1968, the Central Arizona Project was approved by President Lyndon B. Johnson. This action assured future water supplies for Phoenix, Tucson, and the agricultural corridor in between. In 1969, the Catholic Church created the Diocese of Phoenix on December 2, by splitting the Archdiocese of Tucson. The first bishop was Reverend Edward A. McCarthy, who had become a Bishop in 1965.

In 1971, Phoenix adopted the Central Phoenix Plan. This allowed unlimited building heights along Central Avenue. The problem was that the plan didn’t sustain long term development of the Central Corridor. There were few office towers constructed along the North Central during the 1970’s. None approached the scope of construction during the previous decade. Downtown experienced a resurgence. There was a great level of construction activity. This would not be seen again until the urban real estate boom of the 2000’s. Many high rise buildings were erected, including the buildings currently named Wells Fargo Plaza, the Chase Tower (at 483 feet, the tallest building in both Phoenix and Arizona) and the U.S. Bank Center.  By the end of the decade, Phoenix adopted the Phoenix Concept 2000 plan which split the city into urban villages, each with its own village core where greater height and density was permitted, further shaping the free-market development culture. This officially turned Phoenix into a city of many nodes, which would later be connected by freeways. 1972 would see the opening of the Phoenix Symphony Hall. The Salt River flooded in 1980. That flood damaged many bridges. So, the Arizona Department of Transportation and Amtrak worked together. They temporarily operated a train service. It has been referred to by the Valley Metro Rail known as “Hattie B” line. It existed between central Phoenix and the southeast suburbs. There were high operating costs and a lack of interest from local authorities in funding, so it was discontinued. Sandra Day O’Connor (who was born in Texas and grew up in Arizona) was the first woman justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. She was nominated by President Ronald Reagan on September 25, 1986. In 1985, the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, the nation's largest nuclear power plant, began electrical production. Conceived in 1980, the Arizona Science Center, located in Heritage and Science Park, opened in 1984. 1987 saw visits by Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa. The 20 story City Hall was opened in Phoenix in 1992. There were many areas being developed to help refugees from Afghanistan, Bosnia, the Sudan, Somalia, Congo, Sierra Leona, Laos, Vietnam, and Central and South America. Many of the refugees from those nations lived in the Sunnyslope area with low cost housing. Students and adults spoke 43 different languages in local schools by the year of 2000. In the 21st century, Phoenix continued to grow economically. Its population grew too. It was the second fastest metropolitan area in America under Las Vegas. The Phoenix Light Rail developed in 2008. It would connect Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa. Squaw Peak, the second tallest mountain in the city, was officially renamed Piestewa Peak after Army Specialist Lori Ann Piestewa, an Arizona native who was the first Native American woman to die in combat with the U.S. military. Also, she was the first American female casualty in the 2003 Iraq War. Phoenix was hit hard by the subprime mortgage crisis.  In early 2009, the median home price was $150,000, down from its $262,000 peak in recent years. Crime rates in Phoenix have declined in recent years and once troubled, decaying neighborhoods such as South Mountain, Alhambra, and Maryvale, have recovered and stabilized. Recently, Downtown Phoenix and the central core have experienced renewed interest and expansion, resulting in numerous restaurants, stores and businesses opening or relocating to central Phoenix.

Basketball has a long history in its invention. It was invented by Dr. James Naismith (who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1959). He was an educator in physical education and he was born in Canada. In 1891, he invented basketball. He was working at the YMCA Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts. He wanted to invent a new game, because he was in the winter and young people were forced to play sports indoors. He wanted to promote a more athletic sport in the midst of the disruptive group of students. He also wanted to condition young athletes during cold months. Dr. Naismith used his mind to invent a game of skill, finesse, and accuracy instead of one relying solely on pure strength. He played a game as a child when he used rocks. He used a soccer ball and two peach baskets placed 10 feet up in the air. He organized nine players on each team. He created a set of 13 basic rules and basketball was formed. The first game was played on December 21, 1891.  The eighteen players were John G. Thompson, Eugene S. Libby, Edwin P. Ruggles, William R. Chase, T. Duncan Patton, Frank Mahan, Finlay G. MacDonald, William H. Davis and Lyman Archibald, who defeated George Weller, Wilbert Carey, Ernest Hildner, Raymond Kaighn, Genzabaro Ishikawa, Benjamin S. French, Franklin Barnes, George Day and Henry Gelan 1–0.  The goal was scored by Chase. Initially, players could only advance the ball by passing it. Bouncing the ball along the floor — what we call "dribbling" today — did not become part of the game until later. Points were earned by successfully tossing the soccer ball into the peach baskets.   After each basket that was made, players had to climb a ladder to retrieve the ball from the basket. Iron hoops with open-ended nets didn't come along until 1913.  The first public game was played in Springfield, Massachusetts on March 11, 1892. The first college basketball game was played on January 18, 1896, when the University of Iowa hosted a game with the University of Chicago. The final score was: Chicago 15, Iowa 12.  Only in 1906 were metal hoops, nets and backboards introduced. Moreover, the earlier the soccer ball was replaced by a Spalding ball, similar to the one used today.

One of the most important environmental crisis in the 21st century is about the Flint water crisis. Corporations allowed poisoned water to go into the Flint area after clean water from the Detroit area was rejected. Activists have helped people in Flint, but more work is needed. Many communities nationwide and worldwide face lead contamination too. A Reuters report found that almost 3,000 areas in America have lead poisoning high rates. Some of these areas are found in Baltimore (according to the Reuters report, Freddie Gray, who was from Baltimore and was killed at the custody of the police in April of 2015, was a victim of lead poisoning. Gray and his family filed a lawsuit against the landlord of the row house where they were living in Baltimore’s Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood in 2008), Cleveland, and Philadelphia. The CDC doesn’t have a regulatory authority to force states to act to end this massive level of lead poisoning in America. There has been a very significant drop in tested levels of lead in blood samples since the US government banned the use of lead in gasoline about 40 years ago, but we have a long way to go. The providing of clean, safe drinking water is a human right. All human beings need access to water for survival literally (early civilizations in Sumeria, Egypt, ancient Rome, ancient Greece, etc. used water treatment technologies. Ancient Rome had aqueducts to spread water over hundreds of miles. The Industrial Age improved the treatment of distribution of water).

Philadelphia built the first US municipal water system beginning in 1801 in the wake of a devastating yellow fever epidemic. Water was piped into the city and was freely available to citizens at public hydrants. It was also the first city in the world, in 1804, to use cast iron pipes for its water mains. Water is necessary for agriculture, industry, personal hygiene, and cooking. We know that the Flint disaster is not just about lead poisoning in the water supply. It is about all levels of government having authorities that made it their duty to ignore studies of Flint high level lead levels and the lack of oversight to fight against this problem.  Local officials, with the complicity of the state government and the federal Environmental Protection Agency, made the decision to use highly corrosive water from the Flint River in place of the city’s longtime water source without applying corrosion controls. The Flint River water leached lead from the city’s antiquated piping, leading to the contamination of the water supply. Flint River water is also linked to an outbreak of Legionnaires disease that caused at least 10 deaths. Flint is a victim of deindustrialization too and the working class and the poor nationwide have been stripped of their economic rights. This is a very important issue. Less than one percent of the earth’s water is suitable for drinking in its natural state. The rest is in the oceans or the polar ice caps. Some 98 percent of liquid fresh water is ground water, much of it very deep beneath the earth’s surface, making pumping expensive. Despite this, there is ample water to supply human needs given the development of modern technologies. This is why lead pipes should be banned and eradicated nationwide and worldwide. A nationwide, multibillion dollar infrastructure project is needed to replace lead pipe and to provide safe drinking water to all from Flint to other communities. Private interests (in pursuit of capitalist profit instead of advancing the social need of humanity) should never dominate every aspect of our economic and social life. We need public power as the power of the people is powerful enough to change lives positively.

By Timothy

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