Thursday, January 22, 2009

News of interest 1/22/09

Arizona shut out of most recent bailout round

The U.S. Treasury Department released details Thursday about $1.5 billion it invested in 39 commercial and community banks. Arizona banks were shut out of this latest rescue package through the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program.

To date, the agency has invested $193.8 billion in more than 290 financial institutions across the country, and not one is based in the Grand Canyon State –– one of the hardest-hit markets in the real estate crash and credit crisis.

-Phoenix Business Journal

Trees are dying twice as fast as before in West

Trees are dying twice as fast as they once did in forests across the West, killed by drought, disease and pests that thrive in a changing climate.

In a study set for release Friday, scientists chart the spike in tree deaths over several decades and say warming temperatures are almost certainly to blame. The losses cut across a wide range of tree types, sizes and locations, from northern Arizona to British Columbia.

If the higher death rate persists, the study warns, forests would cease to function properly. Wildlife habitat would vanish, wildfire danger could increase and, over time, the sparser landscapes could feed the temperature rise and contribute to the trees' own demise.

-Arizona Republic

Speed cameras record streaming video 24/7

Surprised state lawmakers learned Thursday that the photo enforcement cameras they authorized last year to catch speeders are actually taking — and keeping — videos of everyone who passes.

The information came out as a House panel debated legislation to outlaw the operation of fixed and mobile cameras on state roads. Backers of the legislation complained that the cameras are really designed to generate revenue and not to improve public safety.

But they learned that the cameras do more than snap still photos of those clocked driving at least 11 miles over the speed limit. In fact, they actually are recording “streaming video” around-the-clock.

-East Valley Tribune

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