Republican comeback after eight years? Yeah, on the baseball diamond

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WASHINGTON – There were two places to watch political hardball in Washington on Thursday.

One was the floor of the House at 2:30 a.m., where Democrats were locked in a showdown with the Republican majority over a gun-control measure.

The other was the field at Nationals Park, where Democrats and Republicans faced off Thursday evening for their annual charity baseball game. It was clear which one Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, preferred.

Gallego, who joined fellow Democrats during their sit-in of the House, was suited up and ready to play and rolled his eyes when a reporter tried to ask a question about politics. Continue reading “Republican comeback after eight years? Yeah, on the baseball diamond”

Coyotes president LeBlanc ‘moving forward’ with new arena site

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PHOENIX — The Coyotes moved one step closer to finding a new home Friday.

In what he called “an update, not an announcement,” team president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc said the Coyotes have chosen a site for their new arena. LeBlanc would not disclose a specific location or timeline for the arena, but said more details would come as the team continues to work through legal documentation for the real estate agreement.

“I’ve learned my lesson. We’re not going to put a firm date on it, but we’re now moving forward with the site,” LeBlanc said in a video provided by the Coyotes.

The Coyotes have been searching for a new home since June 2015, when the Glendale City Council voted to terminate its 15-year, $225 million deal with the team. The two sides entered into a two-year agreement following that termination, which keeps the team at Gila River Arena through next season.

LeBlanc said he expects the Coyotes to stay in Glendale for the next three years while their new arena is under construction. He met with officials from AEG Facilities, which manages Gila River Arena, at the NHL’s Board of Governors meetings last week to discuss a lease extension in Glendale, but said nothing concrete has been put in place as of yet.

“There’s no real rush because of the fact that we already have this year’s lease in place,” LeBlanc said. “But as I’ve said, we’ve had the discussions with AEG about the extension, and the word back is ‘just let us know when you need it and we’ll get it wrapped,’ so we’re not concerned about that at all.” Continue reading “Coyotes president LeBlanc ‘moving forward’ with new arena site”

US team comes to Glendale in Copa America’s final stop in Valley

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GLENDALE — As the manager of a Mexican restaurant in the shadow of University of Phoenix Stadium, Ruben Ruiz has seen his fair share of sports fans. But he said nothing has compared to the crowds surrounding the Copa America match between Mexico and Uruguay June 5.

“For the Mexico game it was absolutely insane,” Ruiz, the manager of Salt: Tacos y Tequila said. “We had lines out the doors, around the corner, the restaurant definitely had a record-breaking day.”

With the United States Men’s National Soccer Team coming to the area this weekend to play in Copa America’s third place game against Colombia Saturday, there is hope that at least some of that craziness will return to Glendale.

“Tickets are picking up with the U.S. and Colombia being here,” Rob Meyers, Copa America venue press officer, said during a U.S. training session Thursday at University of Phoenix Stadium. “(The attendance) is probably going to be between 30 and 40 thousand if I had to guess, but it could change. I know as soon as the U.S. lost the other night ticket sales spiked and Colombia has a pretty big fan base as well.” Continue reading “US team comes to Glendale in Copa America’s final stop in Valley”

Faced with two choices, Suns got both

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PHOENIX – At the age of 12, Dragan Bender, along with his brother Ivan, left Bosnia-Herzegovina to train part-time in Split, Croatia, at legendary Croatian basketball player Nikola Vujčić’s basketball academy.

A year later, Bender left his home country for good to join Vujčić’s academy full-time, in pursuit of a dream of making it to the NBA.

Thursday night, that dream came true when the Phoenix Suns selected him with the fourth pick in the NBA Draft.

“When I heard my name, it just showed that hard work pays off in the end,” Bender said. “That we made the right choice to leave my hometown when I was 12.”

Multiple reports suggested the Suns were considering both Bender and Washington Huskies freshman forward Marquese Chriss for the No. 4 draft slot. By the end of the night, the team wound up with both forwards, following a trade up to No. 8 to select Chriss.

“It was really close between those two guys with the fourth pick,” McDonough said.” We went back and forth on it. They’re both tremendous young players. It’s hard to find talented young, big guys.” Continue reading “Faced with two choices, Suns got both”

Cronkite News Digest for Friday, June 24

Here is the Cronkite News lineup for Friday, June 24. 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 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 Friday, June 24”

Democrats end 26-hour House sit-in, but vow to continue fight

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WASHINGTON – Democrats ended a 26-hour takeover of the House claiming victory Thursday afternoon, even though they did not get the guaranteed vote on a gun-control measure they had been seeking.

Scores of Democrats started a sit-in late Wednesday morning vowing to “occupy the floor of the House” until the Republican majority agreed to allow a vote on the so-called “No Fly, No Buy” bill.

House leaders instead started the chamber’s Fourth of July recess a day early, adjourning at 3:13 a.m. Thursday while Democrats were still staging their sit-in. And Speaker Paul Ryan continued to reject calls for a vote when the House returns from recess July 5 on the “No Fly, No Buy” bill that would prevent the sale of guns to people on the no-fly list.

But Democrats, who left the floor chanting early Thursday afternoon, said they had made their points, and they vowed to continue the fight after recess. Continue reading “Democrats end 26-hour House sit-in, but vow to continue fight”

State’s economic growth slowed in 2015, as mining, copper took a hit

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WASHINGTON – Arizona’s economy grew in 2015, but at a much slower rate than it did in 2014, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The report said the state’s gross domestic product grew 0.9 percent to reach $294.2 billion in 2015, but that was half the 1.8 percent rate of growth the state experienced in 2014. Arizona’s growth was also well below the national rate of 2.4 percent last year.

Experts said the slowdown is due in large part to a sharp drop in copper prices, one of the state’s biggest industries, that was felt across the state’s economy. Continue reading “State’s economic growth slowed in 2015, as mining, copper took a hit”

Tears, cheers as Supreme Court lets stand deferred deportation case

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WASHINGTON – Immigration reform advocates cried at the steps of the Supreme Court Thursday as they learned that the justices would not overturn lower courts that had blocked plans to defer deportation for millions of immigrants here illegally.

In a one-sentence ruling, the court said it was equally divided on the case and it was affirming lower-court rulings, an announcement that was called “heartbreaking” by one advocate in Arizona, where an estimated 104,000 will be affected by this case.

“It was like shock, like someone hit me in the gut a little when I saw the four-to-four tie,” said Alicia Contreras, an administrative relief coordinator for Promise Arizona.

But many Arizona Republican lawmakers applauded the decision in U.S. v. Texas, which they said repudiated an overreach by President Barack Obama. Continue reading “Tears, cheers as Supreme Court lets stand deferred deportation case”

Immigration-reform protesters block Central Avenue

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PHOENIX – Protesters chanting “We deserve our freedom,” and waving the American flag blocked Central Avenue outside federal immigration offices, hours after the Supreme Court deadlocked on an immigration reform case.

About 50 people blocked the northbound lanes of Central Avenue, outside the U.S. Immigration and Customs Office in Phoenix near McDowell Road. They held aloft signs such as “Block ICE” and “ICE breaks families apart, ” and yelled “We lost the battle but we will win the war.”

“It’s sad,” Maria Hernandez, 23, said. “It enrages me to see that we have a system that is setting us up to fail. We don’t live in a system that helps immigrant communities like mine to flourish.” Continue reading “Immigration-reform protesters block Central Avenue”

Arizona lawmakers join Democratic sit-in on House floor

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WASHINGTON – House Democrats, chanting “no bill, no break,” shut down the chamber with a sit-in Wednesday in an effort to force the Republican leadership to allow a vote on stalled gun-control legislation.

Scores of Democrats, including all four from Arizona, followed the lead of civil rights veteran Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, who called on lawmakers to “occupy the floor of the House” and demand a vote before Congress leaves on its summer recess in two weeks.

The action comes 10 days after a shooting at an Orlando nightclub left 49 dead and 53 injured, and just days after the Senate deadlocked on attempts to get votes on a handful of gun restrictions. Continue reading “Arizona lawmakers join Democratic sit-in on House floor”

Business leaders market Arizona to the world at Washington summit

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WASHINGTON – They came from the state and from several cities, but business leaders at an event here this week had a common goal – convincing foreign business owners that Arizona is the right place for them.

Officials from the Arizona Commerce Authority, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, the Salt River Project and the cities of Gilbert, Surprise and Peoria were among 2,500 exhibitors pitching their markets to foreign investors at the annual SelectUSA Investment Summit.

Arizona officials at the event pitched the state’s low regulatory and tax burdens, its climate and – like any good business pitch – location. Continue reading “Business leaders market Arizona to the world at Washington summit”

Mayor hopes arrival of Roadrunners can turn Tucson ‘into a hockey town’

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TUCSON – At least two of the people who played a critical role in bringing the newly named Roadrunners, the Arizona Coyotes minor league affiliate, to Tucson grew up watching the classic Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons.

“I always liked how the Roadrunner was one step ahead of the Coyote,” Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said.

“Was the Coyote ever able to catch the Roadrunner?” asked Fletcher McCusker, chairman of the board of the Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District, home to the arena where the Roadrunners will play. “As a matter of fact, yes. In the last cartoon produced by (Chuck) Jones, a miniature-sized Wile E. Coyote grabbed a gigantic Roadrunner by the toe and took out his knife and fork. He held up a sign that read, ‘OK, wise guys you always wanted me to catch him, now what do I do?’”

Unlike the long-running Warner Bros. cartoon, where both Roadrunner and Coyote battled at every turn, the Arizona hockey versions of the two desert dwellers will work together to help each other. Continue reading “Mayor hopes arrival of Roadrunners can turn Tucson ‘into a hockey town’”

Coyotes sign veteran defenseman Goligoski

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PHOENIX – The Arizona Coyotes made their first big move of the summer, signing defenseman Alex Goligoski to a five-year, $27.375 million dollar contract Wednesday.

The signing follows the Coyotes acquisition of Goligoski’s negotiating rights on June 16 from the Dallas Stars in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. The trade gave the Coyotes rights to negotiate a new contract for Goligoski before he would have become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

This is also the first major move made by John Chayka since he was named general manager on May 5.

“Hopefully it’s the first domino in a series of moves that puts us in a better spot,” John Chayka said on a conference call. Continue reading “Coyotes sign veteran defenseman Goligoski”

UFC’s Birchak hoping to cultivate MMA growth among southern Arizona youth

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TUCSON — “Not twice.”

Those were the words shouted by professional MMA fighter and Tucson native Anthony Birchak as he pushed through a strength and conditioning session at the Performance Lab here in preparation for his next battle inside the UFC Octagon, a July 7 fight against Brazilian Dileno Lopes.

The “twice” Birchak wants no part of is a second consecutive loss to a Brazilian opponent. Birchak’s upcoming UFC Fight Night 90 fight in Las Vegas against Lopes follows a loss to Lopes’ countryman, Thomas Almeida, in November in Sao Paulo.

But on top of that pursuit, Birchak has an eye on his financial future outside of the Octagon, with plans to open his own gym, an outlet of the 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu franchise, in the heart of his hometown.

“As a professional athlete, obviously I have to make a living and support my family,” Birchak said. “But I also have to give back and set the next generation up for success. Hopefully this gym is the start of me opening up like 30 businesses in town and really building Tucson up.” Continue reading “UFC’s Birchak hoping to cultivate MMA growth among southern Arizona youth”

Senators hope new ‘no fly, no buy’ gun bill finds bipartisan support

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WASHINGTON – One day after efforts to advance gun-control measures in the Senate collapsed in partisan fighting, a bipartisan group of senators unveiled a compromise Tuesday that they hope can get a vote and keep guns out of the hands of terrorists.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, joined seven other lawmakers – three Republicans, three Democrats and an independent – to unveil the “no-fly, no-buy” bill that is aimed at prohibiting gun sales to the thousands of people on the federal no-fly list and a secondary screening list.

The latest proposal comes a little more than a week after a shooting at an Orlando nightclub that left 49 people dead and 53 injured at the hands of a gunman who claimed allegiance to ISIS. It is the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. Continue reading “Senators hope new ‘no fly, no buy’ gun bill finds bipartisan support”

Flagstaff wildfire prevention cited among ‘best in class’ for nation

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WASHINGTON – A Flagstaff program that aims to prevent wildfires by thinning the forest surrounding the city was named a national “best in class” Tuesday in a report on use of natural defenses against catastrophes.

The report by the National Wildlife Federation cited Flagstaff’s wildfire prevention program as one of 12 in the country recognized for the practice of using natural resources to help avert damage from floods, fires, coastal erosion and storms.

Diane Vosick, director of Northern Arizona University’s Ecological Restoration Institute, said the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project has made a real difference. Continue reading “Flagstaff wildfire prevention cited among ‘best in class’ for nation”

Thousands join Mercury in supporting Orlando community

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PHOENIX — Rosha Whitaker arrived at Talking Stick Resort Arena two hours before Saturday’s tipoff of the Phoenix Mercury’s Pride Night game against the Dallas Wings.

She sat in a chair in the arena’s Casino Arizona Pavilion, waiting to donate blood.

“The Orlando shooting brought to mind that I haven’t donated since college,” Whitaker said, referring to the killing of 49 people at an LGBT club in Orlando, Florida, early the morning of June 12.

This was the third consecutive year the Mercury hosted Pride Night to celebrate the LGBT community and to promote equality. The event held added meaning, taking place just one week after the shootings in Orlando. Continue reading “Thousands join Mercury in supporting Orlando community”

Veterans group eases way from battlefield to workplace

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PHOENIX – Veterans returning from war can struggle to find jobs or be comfortable in a workplace far different than the military, but a veterans group is trying to ease the way.

Combat and other veterans often feel misunderstood, said Staff Sgt. Lisa Cimino of the Arizona Air National Guard.

They may feel “their skills and their abilities aren’t necessarily understood or translated, just because a person on the civilian side didn’t understand the lingo or what exactly went along with that job qualification,” Cimino said.

Continue reading “Veterans group eases way from battlefield to workplace”

Emergency responders want to train more people to aid trauma victims

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PHOENIX – A Phoenix trauma surgeon who treated some victims of the Virginia Tech shooting said anyone can be taught to help save lives after a mass attack like the Orlando massacre.

Dr. Sydney Vail, who oversees the trauma division at Maricopa Medical Center, said people can be trained to administer emergency aid to trauma victims, including applying tourniquets and packing major wounds with gauze.

“How many people went out and learned CPR because they heard that somebody was survived, able to survive, because somebody performed CPR,” Vail said. “It’s the same thing.”

The Department of Homeland Security, through its ‘Stop the Bleed’ campaign, says bystanders are often the first on scene. The website offers instructions on how to control bleeding, tourniquet application and additional resources.

“It really is up to the person if they want to be helpful in these situations,” Vail said. “I guess you have to look deep inside and decide, ‘Am I ready to step out to try and help somebody?’” Continue reading “Emergency responders want to train more people to aid trauma victims”

Meet HuMiX, the gut’s future guide to personalized medicine

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CHANDLER – Meet HuMiX, the “gut on a chip” that may lead one day to personalized medical treatments.

Arizona researchers are able to map, isolate and study the interactions between the microbes in your body and your tissues and organs – like the gut – by using a chip half the size of an iPhone 6 Plus.

Scientists use the swirl-shaped chips to study the interactions between your body and the things that affect it, such as food, medicine and germs.

“We can look at the effect of drugs. We can look at the effect of nutrition,” said Frederick Zenhausern, lead researcher for HuMiX at the University of Arizona. “If you eat too much chocolate, maybe that will have an impact,” he said. Continue reading “Meet HuMiX, the gut’s future guide to personalized medicine”