Cronkite News Digest for Friday, June 23

Here is the Cronkite News lineup for Friday, June 23. If you have questions on news stories, please contact Steve Crane in the Washington, D.C., bureau at 202-684-2398 or, or call the Phoenix bureau for Kevin Dale at 602-496-5168 or or Venita James at or 602-496-5280. For business story questions, please contact Christina Leonard at 602-361-5893 or Questions on sports stories should be directed to Brett Kurland at or 602-496-5234. Stories promised for today along with photos and links to multimedia elements will move on our client site at

Continue reading “Cronkite News Digest for Friday, June 23”

Arizona reaction to Senate health bill ranges from lukewarm to hostile

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WASHINGTON – The Senate Republican plan to replace Obamacare was quickly attacked by Democrats and kept at arm’s length by Arizona’s Republican senators, who seemed less than eager to comment on a bill few had seen before its release Thursday.

The 142-page “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” would cut deeply into Medicaid funding and do away with the current mandate for coverage, but would also preserve some subsidies to help taxpayers afford health insurance.

Critics said the Senate bill is strikingly similar to the American Health Care Act that the House passed last month, a bill the Congressional Budget Office said would cost as many as 23 million Americans their health insurance over 10 years, with most of the losses in the first year. Continue reading “Arizona reaction to Senate health bill ranges from lukewarm to hostile”

Chemical attraction: Scottsdale teen in national chemistry competition

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WASHINGTON – You might not know which chemical element in the Hope Diamond has the largest molecular mass, but an eighth-grader from Scottsdale does.

Isaiah Hazelwood faced that and other questions faced earlier this week when he squared off against other middle school students from around the country as part of the “You be the Chemist” National Challenge in Washington.

The lanky 13-year-old who’s in the eighth grade at Basis Scottsdale won the state competition in February to advance to the nationals on Monday, competing against 41 other students representing 39 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Continue reading “Chemical attraction: Scottsdale teen in national chemistry competition”

Frank Kush’s legacy far greater than winning football games

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PHOENIX — Frank Kush was defined by his accomplishments and controversies but his impact on the growth of Arizona State as a university should be his greatest legacy.

That’s the belief of many about ASU’s winningest coach, who passed away early Thursday. He was 88.

“He put ASU on the map long before it was a full-scale university,” university President Michael Crow said in a statement. “By growing ASU football, he helped us build the whole university into what it is today.”

Continue reading “Frank Kush’s legacy far greater than winning football games”

Run-in between Border Patrol, No More Deaths volunteers was not first

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WASHINGTON – When Jim Marx got the call that Border Patrol agents were monitoring a No More Deaths camp that was helping immigrants endangered while crossing the desert border last week, his first thought was, “Here we go again.”

It wasn’t the first time the humanitarian group and Border Patrol have butted heads, but it wound up being the most contentious, after a reported 30 agents, 15 trucks and a helicopter “descended” on the camp to arrest four immigrants who were being treated there.

“It was an incredible display of, I don’t know what – it was almost like a siege,” said Marx, who volunteers with the organization that provides water, necessities and aid to immigrants crossing the border.

The arrests drew national headlines and led to charges that Border Patrol is obstructing the humanitarian group’s care. And it left Border Patrol officers feeling as if they were being vilified for just enforcing the law. Continue reading “Run-in between Border Patrol, No More Deaths volunteers was not first”

How to survive Arizona heat: Carry umbrellas, wear gloves and hunt shade

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PHOENIX  – As record heat continued to plague the Phoenix area, Tempe residents and workers found ways to survive triple-digit temperatures.


Jesus Quinonez takes a shade break from his construction work on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University as temperatures stretched to 109 degrees. (Photo by Devin Conley/Cronkite News)

A woman covers her face while waiting for light rail in a spot of shade in Tempe. (Photo by Devin Conley/ Crokite News)
Janine John makes sure to pack a water bottle and carry an umbrella when she walks to work in Tempe. (Photo by Devin Conley/ Cronkite News)
Light rail worker Harley Davis says he wears gloves, sunglasses, and a hat for protection on days of extreme heat. (Photo by Devin Conley/ Cronkite News)

Posters, shoe deals, international success find Millage after ASU basketball career

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SCOTTSDALE — After hitting the shot of his life, Curtis Millage raced down the court of Riga Arena in Latvia with pure joy, flexing his muscles to the crowd.

“I hit the game-winning shot,” he said. “I got so excited. I took my shirt off.”

It was a defining moment in the former Arizona State player’s career. Continue reading “Posters, shoe deals, international success find Millage after ASU basketball career”

Taurasi marriage, Mercury Pride Night help ease challenges of LGBTQ community

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PHOENIX — On Sunday, Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi broke the WNBA’s all-time scoring record. A month earlier, she was celebrated for a different achievement: appearing on the cover of People Magazine with former teammate Penny Taylor.

It was a picture of the couple on their wedding day.

Before their marriage, the two were not public about their relationship. The new attention could help others be more comfortable sharing who they are, Mercury teammates said.

Continue reading “Taurasi marriage, Mercury Pride Night help ease challenges of LGBTQ community”

Advocates, DHS officials caution that DACA future still up in the air

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WASHINGTON – Buried in a Homeland Security memo last week that canceled a program to protect undocumented immigrant parents from deportation was a single line saying the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program “will remain in effect.”

The line may have raised hopes among the 800,000 DACA recipients in the country – 28,000 in Arizona – that the program that then-candidate Donald Trump promised to do away with had survived.

But Department of Homeland Security officials said this week that eliminating DACA is still a very real possibility. Continue reading “Advocates, DHS officials caution that DACA future still up in the air”

Investment in investments: Officials pitch state to foreign investors

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NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – President Donald Trump’s occasional tough talk on some international trade deals does not appear to have scared off foreign investors at the 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit, which Arizona representatives called “probably the best yet.”

This year’s summit, which brings companies from around the globe together with government officials and economic organizations to promote foreign direct investment in the United States, had a record 3,000 participants and 1,240 foreign business representatives, organizers said. Continue reading “Investment in investments: Officials pitch state to foreign investors”

Arizona students looked to make some history at National History Day

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – It took months of research, but Flagstaff seventh-graders Joy Kim and Ella Downard were finally able to produce a 10-minute documentary on Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl whose courage and determination to get an education won her the Nobel Peace Prize at age 17.

“Our bibliography had over 4,000 words and about 80 citations,” Joy said as the presented their project. “It is just a really great accomplishment to just be here right now because we did not think we would get this far.”

“Here” was the National History Day competition last week at the University of Maryland, where the Northland Preparatory Academy students joined more than 3,000 other middle and high school students competing in a range of categories. Continue reading “Arizona students looked to make some history at National History Day”

Extreme temperatures don’t slow Arizona hikers

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SCOTTSDALE — July 10, 1913, is widely regarded as the hottest day recorded in the United States. On Tuesday, temperatures in Phoenix reached 119, only 15 degrees lower than that scorching day in Death Valley, California.

That didn’t stop Valley residents and visitors from pursuing their daily fitness fix. They took to trails, bike paths and tracks early in the morning to avoid the temperatures that were coming later in the day.

At 6:30 a.m., the parking lot at Echo Canyon Trailhead, one of two trailheads for Camelback Mountain, was almost full. Some hikers were there for the first time to take in the views that Camelback offers, while others were there to exercise. Continue reading “Extreme temperatures don’t slow Arizona hikers”

Arizona poem emblazoned on screen at U2 revival of Joshua Tree tour


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PHOENIX – U2’s revival of their Joshua Tree tour has a poetic Arizona element.

Arizona’s Poet Laureate Alberto Rios’ poem, “The Border: A Double Sonnet”, is projected on screens during the pre-show entertainment for the revival of a tour that began three decades ago in Arizona.

Rios, who was in his fifth year of teaching at Arizona State University when the tour kicked off in 1987, is amazed his work is part of the Joshua Tree Tour 30 years later. He doesn’t know why U2 chose his piece but he’s thrilled to be part of the tour revival.

“What’s wonderful about U2 is the connection they have to language and to poetry,” Rios said. “It’s not unlike Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Peace Prize for literature. We’re starting to see that connection of the musicality of language, that it can lift itself and can enter the heart in a way different than simple words,” Rios said.

U2 kicked off its original tour to showcase their fifth studio album, Joshua Tree, on April 2, 1987 at ASU and ended it Dec. 20, 1987 at ASU’s Sun Devil Stadium

The band is scheduled to play in Glendale on Sept. 19 at University of Phoenix Stadium. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday.


Shane Doan’s exit signals beginning of Coyotes’ youth movement

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PHOENIX — The Arizona Coyotes are looking to the future. To the disappointment of fans, that means breaking away from the past.

“They’re going in a different direction,” agent Terry Bross said. “They’re cleaning out the old and bringing in the new, and they have every right to do so as owners of the franchise.”

The Coyotes’ recent moves show that even the goaltender who led the team during its longest playoff run, or the captain who is the only player connecting Arizona to its Winnipeg origins, are not safe from the changing course of the franchise. Continue reading “Shane Doan’s exit signals beginning of Coyotes’ youth movement”

American Airlines cancels regional flights as 120 degrees in Phoenix looms

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PHOENIX – The extreme heat in the Phoenix area, expected to reach 120 degrees on Tuesday, endangers the elderly and others with health risks and has lead to dozens of cancelled flights.

The National Weather Service said temperatures rose to a scorching 118 degrees on Monday and was forecast to reach 120 degrees on Tuesday and 118 again on Wednesday.

American Airlines cancelled 50 regional flights passing through Sky Harbor Airport in the late afternoon, when temperatures reach their peak. Smaller jets can’t operate at 118 degrees or higher, according to an email from an American Airlines spokesman.

The American Eagle regional flights effected include those in Flagstaff, Yuma and Tucson.

The airline encouraged passengers who had booked late afternoon arrivals or departures between 3 and 6 p.m. on flights through Wednesday to reschedule their flights with no financial penalty.

The soaring temperatures are not expected to affect large planes that can handle up to 127 degrees in order to fly. No other airlines are expected to be affected, a Phoenix Sky Harbor operations official said.

In the wake of a record 122 degree high in the Valley 27 years ago, on June 26, 1990, flights were grounded because of the heat. American Airlines said large jets withstand temperatures can withstand temperatures up to 126 or 127 degrees.

Continue reading “American Airlines cancels regional flights as 120 degrees in Phoenix looms”

Advocates to fight Redskins’ name, despite court ruling in similar case

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WASHINGTON – Native American advocates vowed Monday to continue their fight against the “racist” name of the Washington Redskins, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that use of such names is protected by the First Amendment.

The court’s ruling in an unrelated case struck down part of the trademark law that bars a trademark on disparaging or offensive terms. That section of the law had been cited by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office when it denied a trademark to the Washington team in 2014. Continue reading “Advocates to fight Redskins’ name, despite court ruling in similar case”

Court gives firefighters a second chance in age-discrimination case

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WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court Monday said two former firefighters can sue the Mount Lemmon Fire District for age discrimination in their firing, a suit that had earlier been thrown out by a lower court.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the plain language of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act shows that it applies to political subdivisions of the state, like fire agencies, as well as to private employers. It ordered the case back to district court for a rehearing.

The ruling contradicts findings by four other circuits on the question of who is an “employer” under the act, but the 9th Circuit judges said those courts had wrongly tried to determine “congressional intent, rather than … the ordinary meaning of the text.” Continue reading “Court gives firefighters a second chance in age-discrimination case”

With draft rumors in full swing, Suns ‘very comfortable at four’

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PHOENIX — With just days remaining before the NBA Draft, the Phoenix Suns took one last look at players who had already worked out with the team. Villanova guard Josh Hart, Oregon forward Dillon Brooks and Southern Methodist forward Semi Ojeleye were among those given a second chance Monday to impress the organization.

The workouts came with the draft rumor mill in full swing. ESPN reported that the Suns were interested in trading up to acquire Lonzo Ball, while the Chicago Tribune suggested the Suns could be the third team in a Chicago-Cleveland trade for Jimmy Butler.

Even with the most recent trade between Boston and Philadelphia, general manager Ryan McDonough said the team was “unlikely” to trade up in the draft.

Continue reading “With draft rumors in full swing, Suns ‘very comfortable at four’”

K9 sergeant moves from chasing down suspects to retirement as family pet

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PHOENIX – Sgt. Vasku, after working for seven years on SWAT operations and chasing down criminal suspects, has retired.

Now he just has to make the tough transition from K9 service at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to civilian life as a pet enjoying a dog’s life.

Vasku, a nine-year-old Belgian Malinois, in more than 2,000 hours of training and years of experience, treated chasing down a suspect like playing on command, said MCSO deputy Trevor Clancy, Vasku’s handler and former partner. Continue reading “K9 sergeant moves from chasing down suspects to retirement as family pet”

Arizona residents mark Juneteenth, say schools need to teach about delay in Emancipation Proclamation

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PHOENIX – When President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, giving slaves their freedom, it took more than two years for news to travel to Galveston, Texas.

June 19, 1865, became the real day of freedom for Texas residents.

More than 150 years later, Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States, according to a national Juneteenth organization.

Juneteenth particularly resonates for many African Americans but isn’t taught in Arizona schools, said several people attending weekend events in Arizona.

“This is our Independence Day,” said Redeem Robinson, who is running for an Arizona state Senate seat in District 30 at an event in downtown Phoenix.

Continue reading “Arizona residents mark Juneteenth, say schools need to teach about delay in Emancipation Proclamation”