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Archives for September 2014

What does 10 million gallons of sulfuric acid look like?



bout that “spill” of sulfuric acid from the big copper mine down in Cananea: We wonder what 10 million gallons of “spilled” sulfuric acid looks like. We understand spilled milk. But 10 million gallons? “Spill” doesn’t seem to be quite the right verb.

If you have ever spent time in and around the San Rafael Valley, these pictures from The Patagonia Resource Alliance will make you sick. We will be excused if we sound just a little skeptical about the view offered by Grupo Mexico, the owner of the Cananea mine, the Buena Vista del Cobre.

Last month Juan Rebolledo, a spokesman for Grupo Mexico, said: “The content of these acids is not toxic in itself.” He said there was “no problem, nor any serious consequence for the population, as long as we take adequate precautions and the company pours lime into the river, as it is currently doing.”

The website thinkprogress reported schools were closed because of the spill. People had no water. Evidently, lime did not resolve that problem.

A report from Forbes dated Sept. 29 says the spill of 10 million gallons of toxic chemicals is the worst environmental disaster in Mexico’s history. The story goes on to say that the owner of Grupo Mexico, German Larrea Mota Velasco, is worth more than $14 billion. And that’s very impressive, particularly in a country as impoverished as Mexico. The Forbes report also says Grupo has established a $151 million fund to clean up the mess caused by the toxic spill.

Meanwhile, Excelsior, the Mexico City newspaper, reported Aug. 25 a 240-ton sulfuric acid spill from a railcar in Nogales. This spill was near the Santa Cruz River. We should wonder if that spill will flow north. That is what happens because Nogales and the border region is at higher elevation than Tucson. The flow from the San Pedro and Santa Cruz Rivers is north to Tucson. The San Pedro flows to Benson and San Manual, skirting the Tucson area.

Arizonans have come to embrace the often-cited need for copper mines because they create jobs and make us all happy, very rich and prosperous. Moreover, we live quietly, if not comfortably, with the open pits they create — Morenci is a favorite — and the towering mountains of slag, particularly in and around Tucson. We all understand the importance of copper in the world, that is to say China, a country that is doing its best to subjugate and oppress the people of Hong Kong as this very moment.

As much as we revere copper, we wonder what all that orange liquid running through the streams of the San Rafael means? How will it affect flora, fauna and underground aquifers? What do you suppose will be done with the $151 million fund? You can buy only so much lime. And how come it’s $151 million?

After all that wondering, we will say this with some certainty: The San Rafael Valley is unique, one of the most beautiful spots in this or any state in the country, and to watch it suffer a major man-made environmental catastrophe is beyond painful.

Apparently we can only wonder what can be done about it.

Marching toward madness

It is a mistake to shield the world from videos of beheadings.

The Islamic group called ISIS beheaded American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and a British aid worker David Haines. You and I have not been permitted to see these beheadings because the powers that be consider them too gruesome. Those powers want to protect our delicate sensibilities. There is truth to be discovered and understood in seeing and feeling the horror of seeing what humanity is capable of today. We are in Darwinian devolution. The world seems marching toward madness, murder and the Middle Ages in a thirst for blood.

We should see it; feel the threat as it is, not told to us. Clearly the ISIS warriors want us to tremble and faint with fear and trepidation in its pursuit of dominion. It’s doubtful it would accomplish that aim.

The best of humanity has fought to thwart man’s craven inhumanity toward man.

It was the power of photographs and videos that showed us what we were doing in Vietnam. It was the photographs and videos of Sheriff Bull Connor’s dogs in Birmingham that showed us truth of segregation and hate in the South.

We cannot afford the luxury of being shielded from the horrors of hate. We must see it, feel it to comprehend the full power of religious hate that seeks nothing short of our complete destruction.



Hail Mary

We missed this week’s Hail Mary performance by the University of Arizona football team. It did not play. We believe that the team has an established precedent and Hail Mary will be a standard event.

We look forward to next week’s performance as the team ventures to the Northwest to encounter the Ducks at the University of Oregon, a team alleged to harbor a certain prowess among its peers. It is suggested by some that victory over the Ducks may require more in the way of Hail Marys with perhaps some “Our Fathers” thrown in.

Nonetheless, we shall keep the faith as has been our wont lo these many decades. It takes time, sometimes, for prayers to be answered.



A proud primary

I am — how you say? — a registered Independent voter. I am delighted that I annoyed the GOP state leaders because I asked for a Republican ballot in the primary. I did so to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted and poke a stick up the arses of a couple predatory plutocrats.

The Arizona Republican Party is a lamentable organization notable for its absence of ideas and disdain for helping others. I asked for its ballot to do it damage. I belong to a disappearing tribe of Americans who believe government’s function should be to help people, not screw them. Increasingly, the hallmark of the ’Zona GOP is the latter.

It is a happy happenstance that two of the state’s biggest and best people screwers will no longer endure in their respective offices. I believe Independents decided to handout brass pineapples to Tom Horne and John Huppenthal and force them to sit and spin on them. Horne is the lame duck attorney general and Huppenthal the lame duck superintendent of public instruction. We Independents voted against them and for whomever was running against them. At least I take credit.

So today they are limp ducks.

I’m very proud.


Murder with impunity

At first I started to write a letter to the editor of the Star. I wanted to ask whether the paper would follow up on an article in today’s edition on page A2 written by Kimberly Matas about the murder last May of  31 year-old Jose Luis Arambula. Arambula was killed by Border Patrol agent Daniel Marquez. The agent was cleared of  wrong doing in a letter written by the chief criminal attorney for Pima County Kelli Johnson and released this week.

I realized a letter would be a waste of time. Nobody cares if Border Patrol agents murder Mexicans or other Hispanics. It’s done with impunity.

According to Matas’ report, Arambula was fleeing from his Jeep, which contained marijuana. He was in a pecan grove down in Green Valley.  Arambula had no weapon, but twice turned toward the BP agent, formed a shape of a gun with his hand. You know, they way kids do.

According to Johnson the county attorney’s mouthpiece, Arambula’s mime act, shooting his hand, would persuade a jury that the BP agent was justified in killing Arambula. The jury would, as Johnson was quoted in the Star, “conclude that Agent Marquez reasonably believed that deadly force was immediately necessary to protect himself from Mr. Arambula’s apparent attempt to use deadly physical force.” (Love that phrase “deadly physical force.” It’s so bureaucratically redundant, as though there might be such a thing as “deadly nonphysical force,” maybe “maybe “deadly mental force”?)

BP agent Marquez fired his weapon nine times at the hand jive deadly force exhibited by the fleeing Arambula. For heaven sake, nine times? At somebody’s back? One of the nine shots landed behind Arambula’s ear. Nine shots? For a guy who has no weapon? And a jury will conclude, according to the county attorney, that it’s just fine and dandy — shoot him dead, blow him away, he aimed his hand at you.

None of this makes sense. Wave your gun hand, and you die. The Star story didn’t say whether Arambula was a U.S. citizen or where he was from.

Doesn’t matter. He had dark skin. Nobody gives a shit.

It’s what this country has come to. Just forget about it, and keep your hands to yourself.

Or they will kill you.