Arizona, national driving deaths on rise, after sharp drops in 2014

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WASHINGTON – After years of steady declines, driving deaths in Arizona have risen sharply this year, mirroring a “troubling” national trend in which lower gas prices and more drivers are translating into more fatalities.

The latest numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that 32,675 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2014, and 770 of those were in Arizona.

But the NHTSA report, released Tuesday, also said that traffic deaths had risen 8.1 percent nationally through the first half of this year. And Arizona officials said the state had already recorded 596 fatalities through the first eight months of the year, just under 80 percent of the total from 2014. Continue reading “Arizona, national driving deaths on rise, after sharp drops in 2014”

Black Lives Matter movement gains momentum in Chandler following church vandalism, theft

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CHANDLER – A pastor was hoping to start a community conversation on racial equality when he and his predominantly white congregation installed a sign supporting the Black Lives Matter movement outside their Chandler church. Among the first people they heard from were vandals, who altered and then stole the sign.

“(Congregation members) were sad, but not resigned,” said the Rev. Andy Burnette of the Valley Unitarian Universalists. “To see that it’s still controversial to say black lives matter saddened some of those folks.” Continue reading “Black Lives Matter movement gains momentum in Chandler following church vandalism, theft”

Cronkite News Digest for Tuesday, Nov. 24

Here is the Cronkite News lineup for Tuesday, Nov. 24. If you have questions on news stories, please contact Steve Crane in the Washington, D.C., bureau at 202-684-2398 or, or Kevin Dale in the Phoenix bureau at 602-496-5168 or For business story questions, please contact Christina Leonard at 602-496-5241 or Questions on sports stories should be directed to Brett Kurland 602-496-5134 or 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 Tuesday, Nov. 24”

Injuries, trades brought some players back for second Fall League stint

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SCOTTSDALE — While the Arizona Fall League is often thought of as a “one-and-done” league for baseball’s top prospects on the verge of making it to the next level, some return for a second tour of duty.

Some players are sent back by their Major League organizations following injuries, some who are working to adjust to new teams after trades and some whose parent clubs just want them to get some extra seasoning. Continue reading “Injuries, trades brought some players back for second Fall League stint”

Study: Shoppers plan to spend less, likely to spend more on holidays

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WASHINGTON – Americans say they intend to spend less on holiday gift-giving than they did last year, but will likely give in to the spirit of the season and end up spending slightly more, according to a forecast released Monday.

The annual forecast by the Consumer Federation of America and the Credit Union National Association predicts a “2.5 to 3 percent” increase in holiday spending this year, driven by the continuing economic recovery and the fact that shoppers typically shell out more than they plan to.

“In every one of the 16 years we’ve done this survey, more people say they’ll reduce spending than increase spending,” said Bill Hampel, chief economist at CUNA. “In all but two of those years, spending actually increased.” Continue reading “Study: Shoppers plan to spend less, likely to spend more on holidays”

Simone continues to lead Sun Devils despite season-ending injury

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TEMPE – It’s what they’ve done every game during their senior seasons. The three captains walk out together, meet at the edge of Tillman Tunnel, bring their heads together and relish the moment.

Mike Bercovici, D.J. Foster and Jordan Simone did this ritual for the last time before Saturday’s Territorial Cup. But they didn’t imagine it would be like this – Bercovici and Foster in pads, while Simone carried his crutches.

“We just come together, and we live in the moment for that brief period of time. We just tell each other we love each other,” Simone said. “As corny as it may sound, those are my best friends. We live in that moment for a second, just enjoying it. That’s something that I’ll remember forever.”

The redshirt senior safety’s collegiate career came to an end during the Sun Devils’ 27-17 come-from-behind victory against Washington on November 14. Simone’s right knee collided with a helmet while he was making a tackle. After the play he pounded on the grass on Frank Kush Field – he had torn his ACL.

“My heart goes out to him,” head coach Todd Graham said. “It was a play that was such a – it always is like that – it was just a freak play. It was just a very unusual play how he got hurt.” Continue reading “Simone continues to lead Sun Devils despite season-ending injury”

Arizona State Fair: Attendance slips, but officials call it a success

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PHOENIX – Workers have dismantled the rides. Vendors have put away the giant turkey legs and cotton candy. And the performers have packed their bags.

Officials with this year’s Arizona State Fair called it a success, despite a 4-percent drop in attendance from last year.

The fair, which ran from Oct. 16 to Nov. 8, had 1.1 million visitors this season.

Kristi Walsh, the assistant executive director for the fair, points out one factor to keep in mind: Rain.

“When you consider that we are an 18-day fair, with five days of rain and ride closures, we were only down by a little,” Walsh said. “So it was a really, really good year.”

Continue reading “Arizona State Fair: Attendance slips, but officials call it a success”

Chandler pharmaceutical company sees rapid financial gains, but faces legal scrutiny over pain meds

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CHANDLER – Insys Therapeutics Inc.’s headquarters lie nestled in an unassuming building complex in Chandler, its only distinguishing feature being the large company logo emblazoned near its roof.

Behind the non-descript façade is a pharmaceutical company that has exploded both financially and in size. The company had a net income of $37.9 million in 2014, and its employees increased from 32 to 382 in four years, according to financial documents.

But the company also faces some turmoil. On Nov. 4, CEO Mike Babich resigned after serving as president for five years and CEO for four-and-a-half. In an earnings call on Nov. 5, Insys founder and chairman John Kapoor said Babich decided to “focus on his family as well as pursue new opportunities.” Kapoor will assume the roles of president and CEO.

The company also faces at least two federal and three state investigations, including one involving the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, according to the company’s U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings. All of the probes are linked to Subsys, a powerful opioid designed for cancer patients already taking similar medications. Insys has noted it is cooperating with these investigations.

Continue reading “Chandler pharmaceutical company sees rapid financial gains, but faces legal scrutiny over pain meds”

Border ranchers in Cochise County feel abandoned by Washington


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DOUGLAS – Border security is a hot topic on the presidential campaign trail, but Arizona ranchers who live near the border say they’ve been left out of the debate and forgotten by Washington lawmakers, who they say have done nothing about immigration reform.

“In the federal government, there’s absolutely zero level of urgency,” said Ed Arshurst, a rancher in Cochise County.

Arshurst’s ranch is 20 miles from the Arizona-Mexico border. A year ago he set up a camera system to capture images of the people who cut through his property. Continue reading “Border ranchers in Cochise County feel abandoned by Washington”

Arizona Muslims worry about backlash following Paris attacks

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TEMPE – Imam Ahmad Shqeirat at the Islamic Community Center of Tempe and others who attend services there worry about a growing backlash after the terrorist attacks in Paris.

Following the attacks, which left 129 dead and more than 350 injured, the Council on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR) said it has received word from individual Muslims and mosques of acts of discrimination throughout the United States. Continue reading “Arizona Muslims worry about backlash following Paris attacks”

Group to host ‘Woofstock’ to raise awareness for veterans and their service dogs

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CHANDLER – Coast Guard veteran James Falsken said it was a challenge to adjust to everyday life after he came back from the Vietnam War.

The American Service Animal Society recognizes the obstacles veterans like Falsken may face after their time in the service, and it wants to bring awareness about the benefits of owning a service animal, the organization said.

The society will host Woofstock, an annual event co-hosted with Maricopa County Animal Care and Control, this weekend in Chandler.

The event features dog training demonstrations, animal adoption booths and the Walk of Honor, a course intended to honor those who serve.

Continue reading “Group to host ‘Woofstock’ to raise awareness for veterans and their service dogs”

CORRECTION to Nov. 19 story on Arizona Snowbowl

EDS: Clients who used a story slugged  BIZ-Snowbowl that moved Thursday, Nov. 19, under a FLAGSTAFF dateline, are asked to use the following correction. An updated version of the story has been posted here.  The error occurred in the fourth paragraph of the article. 

PHOENIX – A Nov. 19 Cronkite News story about Arizona Snowbowl contained inaccurate information about the opening of the Humphrey’s Peak chairlift. The new quad lift opens mid-December to visitors.

Fans suggest everything from Shakespeare to Cirque du Soleil at Sun Devil Stadium renovation open house

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TEMPE – From Cirque du Soleil, a Rolling Stones concert and the X Games to stadium-sized vinyasa yoga, TED talks and Shakespeare in the stadium, fans at Sun Devil Stadium on Thursday offered suggestions as to what events they want to see at the venue when renovations are finished in 2017.

Renderings of the final product were on display as ASU hosted an open house to promote the “Sun Devil Stadium 365” campaign.

As it stands, only a handful of events beyond the seven home football games take place at the stadium, including Pat’s Run and Arizona State spring commencement. But the goal of the SDS 365 campaign is to make the renovated stadium a multipurpose facility for events throughout the year.

The gates were open to everybody, but much of the focus was on selling the renovated stadium to event promoters. Continue reading “Fans suggest everything from Shakespeare to Cirque du Soleil at Sun Devil Stadium renovation open house”

Heroin’s deadly grip claims another young addict as overdoses continue to climb



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PHOENIX – Just a few days after promising to go back to drug treatment, David Richter went on the last heroin binge of his life. He overdosed and died on his bathroom floor.

Richter was 23 years old.

He had relapsed 13 times and been to multiple drug treatment centers across the country. David’s father, Joe Richter, said that his son battled heroin addiction hard, but the drug was more powerful than the person.

“He hated the drug. I mean he wanted to stay clean, he really tried but he just couldn’t do it,” he said.

“After the first few times I learned to detach myself from the emotional part,” said Mary Sutton, David’s mother. “But it was hard. I always feared that this would happen. That I would get this phone call.” Continue reading “Heroin’s deadly grip claims another young addict as overdoses continue to climb”

Arizona lawmakers split as House puts brakes on Syrian, Iraqi refugees

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WASHINGTON – The House overwhelmingly approved a bill Thursday that calls for the U.S. to stop admitting refugees from Syria and Iraq until they pass additional background checks, including direct approval by three federal security agencies.

Supporters said the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act of 2015, rushed through the House in the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris, will allow for a more thorough security review of applicants without shutting the door on any deserving refugee. Continue reading “Arizona lawmakers split as House puts brakes on Syrian, Iraqi refugees”

Arizona has high youth drug deaths, few policies to curb them

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WASHINGTON – Arizona had among the highest rates of teen and young adult overdose deaths, and ranked poorly for programs and policies to curb drug use and encourage healthy living among those age groups, a new report says.

The state-by-state report by the Trust for America’s Health said Arizona averaged 10.2 overdose deaths per 100,000 teens and young adults from 2011 to 2013, tied for eighth-highest among states. That was more than double the rate of 4 deaths per 100,000 young people in the state between 1999 and 2001, according to the report released Thursday.

But Arizona health officials challenged the report’s findings, saying their own statistics show a much lower death rate. They believe their numbers are more accurate since they count only deaths specifically resulting from drug overdoses, while the report counted all drug-related causes, including accidents and violence. Continue reading “Arizona has high youth drug deaths, few policies to curb them”

Uber, Passport Health partner to provide flu shots to Phoenix users on demand

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TEMPE – To help fight off the sniffs and sniffles of the flu, rideshare company Uber and medical-care company Passport Health teamed up to deliver on-demand shots and health bags for a one-day event on Thursday.

“This is something we can provide for people that’s quick and easy,” said Gabe Williams, the senior marketing manager for Uber in Phoenix. “It’s a whole lot easier to fit getting a flu shot around your schedule than having to make time in yours to get one.”

Just like ordering a ride from the service, Williams said users could select the “UberHealth” option on the app and receive the goody bag and flu shot for $10.

Up to 10 people could receive a flu shot per Uber request, and users also got a water bottle, tissues, hand sanitizer and a brochure on tips to keep the flu away, Williams said.

Continue reading “Uber, Passport Health partner to provide flu shots to Phoenix users on demand”

Another major sporting event headed to the Valley

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Phoenix has been selected as one of 10 U.S. metro areas that will host the Copa America Centenario 2016, an international soccer tournament that will feature teams from 16 countries from across the Americas and Caribbean.

It is another in a string of major sporting events staged at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. The College Football Playoff National Championship Game is less than two months away and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four is coming to the Valley in 2017. They all follow the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl, which were played in Glendale earlier this year.

This summer marks the 100th anniversary of the Copa America and the first time that it is being played outside of South America.

In addition to Phoenix, the other areas selected to host the month-long tournament are the San Francisco Bay area; Chicago; Foxborough, Massachusetts; Houston; New York/New Jersey; Orlando, Florida; Pasadena, California; Philadelphia and Seattle. Continue reading “Another major sporting event headed to the Valley”

Active workstations at Phoenix libraries attract an after-school crowd

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PHOENIX – At first, sixth grader Betsy Corral thought the new treadmill at Harmon Library was just for adults. She was ecstatic when she found out it wasn’t.

“I was like, I think this is only for grown-ups, so I didn’t even bother to ask to use it. But then when I started seeing other kids, I was always in line to go on it,” Corral said.

It’s an active workstation, a treadmill attached to a standing desk with a computer. The desk goes up and down to fit different heights, and the treadmill allows for a slow walk, between .5 and 2 miles per hour. Harmon, Palo Verde and Yucca libraries have active workstations, available on a first-come, first-served basis for 30 minutes at a time. Continue reading “Active workstations at Phoenix libraries attract an after-school crowd”

Arcade bar growth turns Valley into multiplayer arena

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TEMPE – Dillon Thompson has spent one to two hours at Endgame Bar nearly every day since the 22-year-old first started going about two and a half months ago.

The reason? Endgame’s nearly 700 free games – a mix of arcade machines, home console games and computer-based games – combined with a stocked bar and kitchen make it a paradise for people like Thompson, who’s played video games “almost religiously” since he was 12.

“We don’t come here to drink, we come here to have fun,” he said. “Beer’s a plus. If there wasn’t beer here, I’d still come.”

Endgame in Tempe is part of a new crop of arcade bars popping up across the Valley.

The arcade bar concept – a bar filled with video games, often classic arcade machines from the 1980s through the late 1990s – is neither new nor native to Arizona. Barcade, a chain of five bars that opened in New York City in 2004, touts itself as “the original arcade bar.” Other bars, like 1Up in Denver; Headquarters Beercade in Chicago; and Ground Kontrol in Portland, offer similar concepts.

Continue reading “Arcade bar growth turns Valley into multiplayer arena”