Cronkite News Digest for Thursday, Dec. 8

Here is the Cronkite News lineup for Thursday, Dec. 8. 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 Thursday, Dec. 8”

Experts: It’s not too late to vaccinate for possibly strong flu strain

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WASHINGTON – Get ready to roll up your sleeves.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending against nasal-spray vaccines for the upcoming flu season, in which it expects to see a variant of 2009’s H1N1 virus.

And while Arizona is still about a month away from peak flu season, medical experts are advising residents to get vaccinated “sooner rather than later” to head off the virus.

“The best way to protect yourself from influenza is to get vaccinated,” said Jessica Rigler, branch chief for public health preparedness at the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Arizona had already confirmed 25 flu cases from six counties as of Nov. 26, according to the department, but Rigler said the peak influenza season for the state typically falls in the beginning of the year – January, February and March. Continue reading “Experts: It’s not too late to vaccinate for possibly strong flu strain”

National anthem protest has national trickle-down effect

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University High School, located in West Los Angeles, features a socially aware group of players under the direction of coach John Washington.

It wasn’t a surprise when the team wanted to protest by kneeling during the national anthem to spread awareness about claims of racial inequality and police brutality, becoming one of the first high schools to follow the example set by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Washington said the players on his team are more socially aware than previous students.

“I told them that it’s their right. And at any time in this country, when there was social injustice or there was some revolution of some sort, it started with young people,” Washington said.

At least 53 high school football teams across the country and one youth league team in Texas had at least one player participate in kneeling during the playing of the national anthem since Kaepernick started the protest during the NFL preseason. Continue reading “National anthem protest has national trickle-down effect”

Obama actions on public lands may be difficult for Trump to undo

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WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama could cement his environmental legacy by taking executive action to designate nearly 4 million acres of Western land as national monuments before leaving office next month.

And it may be one legacy of the Obama administration that incoming President Donald Trump will have a hard time unraveling after he takes office.

But whether Obama goes that route is still up in the air. Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake said Monday that “credible sources” within the agencies considering the designation found “significant unresolved issues that prevent their recommending the designation of a new national monument” around the Grand Canyon.

At issue is a call by environmentalists for Obama to use the authority granted by the Antiquities Act to protect areas around the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the Bears Ears site in Utah and Gold Butte in Nevada. Continue reading “Obama actions on public lands may be difficult for Trump to undo”

Korean businesses are expanding in AZ with shift in customer base

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CHANDLER – When John Chung opened his first restaurant, Gogi, in Chandler, only 10 percent of his customers were American. He was primarily focused on Korean consumers.

But that is no longer the case.

“Now our main customers are Americans and Chinese. Families, friends and companies of all different groups now come to eat their meals here,” Chung said.

And he said he’s not the only restaurant owner seeing that kind of growth. Continue reading “Korean businesses are expanding in AZ with shift in customer base”

Tempe middle school teacher makes good on Olympic-sized promise to diver

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TEMPE –  When diver Sam Dorman was in the eighth grade at the now-closed McKemy Middle School, Matt Tully made him a promise.

“If you make the Olympic team, I’ll be there,” Tully, Dorman’s physical education teacher at McKemy, told him.

It seemed unlikely at the time. Dorman was using crutches to get around because of a shattered foot.

“I’m like, all right, that’s a long ways away, but all right,” Dorman said. “I kind of brushed it off.”  

Fast-forward to August 2016, a 24-year-old Dorman stood on the deck at the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center in Rio De Janeiro for the Olympic Games. It was the finals for the 3-meter springboard synchronized event.

He found Tully in the stands, sitting with his parents in the front row.  

“Most people say they’re going to go, but they don’t go,” Dorman said. “He followed through with everything, which is really cool. He was my favorite P.E. teacher, so to have him there was awesome.” Continue reading “Tempe middle school teacher makes good on Olympic-sized promise to diver”

Millennial migration a boon for AZ cities, loss for rural areas

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Taryn Martin, 21, grew up in Vail, a small town in Pima County with approximately 10,000 residents. Her family’s land stretched across the countryside. She rode horses during the day and enjoyed starry skies at night.

But at 18, Martin decided to leave her home and move to Phoenix, one of the largest cities in America.

“I moved for opportunity,” she said. “Opportunity is what brings people to the larger cities because when you’re in a smaller environment you can only go so far before you either find your purpose or you find the next step to take on that path.”

Martin’s story is a familiar one to many Arizona millennials, those born between 1981 and 2000. According to a Pew Research Center report, millennials have surpassed baby boomers as the largest living generation in the country.

In 10 years, Arizona’s millennial population has increased by 189,900, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. It now constitutes 27.2 percent of Arizona’s overall population, up from 25.6 percent in 2005. That has implications for rural areas losing a younger population and the cities that are absorbing it. Continue reading “Millennial migration a boon for AZ cities, loss for rural areas”

Desert Vista’s Baumann follows unusual path to college basketball

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PHOENIX – Each high school game is an opportunity for athletes to showcase their talent and prove that they have the skills necessary to play at the college level. Desert Vista’s Noah Baumann had to find another way to prove he can play.

As a sophomore, Baumann played spotty minutes in 15 games for Desert Vista’s varsity basketball team, averaging only 2.1 points per game. Then a back injury limited him to just two games during his junior year.

“I over used it,” Baumann said of his back. “I didn’t take care of my body as much as I should. It really came down on me during the beginning of the season. I had to miss out but with physical therapy and icing my back, everyday it got better.”

Fortunately for Baumann, he didn’t have to rely soley on his high school experience. San Jose State coach Dave Wojcik spotted Baumann during a summer club tournament when Wojcik was there watching his son play.

“He played against my son up in Anaheim,” Wojcik said. “I got to see him play there, and he played really well. I was like, ‘who is this kid?’”

Last month, the 6-foot-5 senior shooting guard signed to play for Wojcik at San Jose State. Continue reading “Desert Vista’s Baumann follows unusual path to college basketball”

Suns hope to ride momentum of victory over Hawks as they visit Golden State

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PHOENIX — The Suns are approaching the quarter pole of the NBA season, and are hoping to use their recent victory over the Atlanta Hawks as a springboard that will get them out of the Pacific Division basement.

The club is off to a slow start, posting a 6-13 entering December.

But as valuable as the victory over the Hawks might be, the Suns would really get a boost by beating Golden State Saturday in the Bay Area. They are already 0-2 against the Warriors this season.

Suns forward P.J. Tucker said the Suns hope to make adjustments against a Warriors team that is loaded with stars like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and, now this season, Kevin Durant.

“We tweaked our coverages a little bit, (in terms of) how we’re going to guard certain things,” Tucker said. “We’re going to stick to our principles. We stick to our core of what we do.”

The Suns will try to adjust on the offensive end as well. Continue reading “Suns hope to ride momentum of victory over Hawks as they visit Golden State”

Arizona Center to get $25 million refresh to attract downtown shoppers

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PHOENIX – Arizona Center is planning a $25 million refresh to appeal to shoppers, adding more lighting, valet parking, courtyard seating and other design elements to modernize the 26-year-old center in downtown Phoenix.

Here are some of the elements of the redesign that will start in January and be completed in nine months.

Continue reading “Arizona Center to get $25 million refresh to attract downtown shoppers”

Before the perks, the pick: Freshmen hope, plot in Hill office lottery

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WASHINGTON – A buzzing group of anxious staffers and strategists packed a Capitol Hill room with 48 newly elected House members Thursday, eagerly awaiting their first assignments in the coming Congress – an office.

The biennial freshmen office lottery is a tradition in a city where a room isn’t just a room, but can indicate your place in the pecking order. Lawmakers brought strategies and good luck charms in hopes of drawing a low number from the mahogany box at the front of the room.

Rep.-elect Andy Biggs, R-Mesa, considers himself “a pretty lucky guy,” but still took part in the fun, pausing to rub his temples and send some brain waves into the box before reaching in with his hand – and pulling No. 19 of 50. Continue reading “Before the perks, the pick: Freshmen hope, plot in Hill office lottery”

Sky Harbor flies high in ranking of busiest U.S. commercial airports

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WASHINGTON – Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport did not claim the top prize in any one category but was good enough across the board to get ranked as the best commercial airport in the nation in a recent report.

The November report by travel website The Points Guy said Sky Harbor’s relatively few flight delays and cancellations, and its proximity to downtown were among the factors that pushed it to the top of the 30 busiest international airports in the U.S.

“Because it did not have the No. 1 score (in any single category), Sky Harbor could do better in other areas,” said James Cury, editorial director with The Points Guy. “It could do better in timeliness. It also got the worst score for lounges. People don’t need to – or want to – stay in lounges, for whatever reason.”

Sky Harbor spokeswoman Heather Lissner welcomed the report, noting in an emailed statement that at “America’s friendliest airport, our goal is to deliver world-class customer service to every customer, every day.” Continue reading “Sky Harbor flies high in ranking of busiest U.S. commercial airports”

New Border Patrol chief: Fence would help, but it’s not the only answer

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WASHINGTON – The U.S.-Mexico border could use more fencing, but other measures are needed as well to “detect and respond to threats in our nation’s border regions,” the new chief of the Border Patrol testified Wednesday.

Chief Mark Morgan told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that after six months in the job, he recognizes that increasing border security is just one of the wide variety of issues where work still needs to be done.

“Do we need more fencing? Yes. Does it work? Yes,” Morgan said. “Do we need it everywhere? No. Is it the sole answer? No.”

Morgan, who was joined by Deputy Chief Carla Provost, said border security was one of five major efforts the agency is targeting, including a better workforce, use of a threat-based approach to detect illegal activity, stronger international partnerships and enhanced performance metrics. Continue reading “New Border Patrol chief: Fence would help, but it’s not the only answer”

Some Arizona Democrats balk as Pelosi re-elected minority leader

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WASHINGTON – House Democrats re-elected Nancy Pelosi their leader Wednesday with support from more than two thirds of the caucus, but from just half of the Arizona Democrats in the House.

Pelosi, who has led House Democrats for the past 14 years, faced a challenge from Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio who promised to shake up leadership and reconnect the party with voters and the issues important to them after a disastrous 2016 election.

Pelosi beat Ryan by a comfortable 134-63 margin, but her critics said the numbers were still telling.

“The fact that 63 members of Congress said they need change is significant,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego, who with fellow Phoenix Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, had called for change at the top. Continue reading “Some Arizona Democrats balk as Pelosi re-elected minority leader”

Running shoes change but comfort remains the selling point

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PHOENIX – Shoes are to runners as tires are to cars. Both run smoothly – or not – with the proper fit.

Brands and styles are almost limitless. Nike is the sales leader globally.  According to Statista, Nike topped all others with revenue of $32 billion in 2016.

What footwear company to turn to for the proper fit among all the varying styles, shapes and weights of shoes?

It’s not necessarily Nike.

“Comfort. That’s the magic word,” said Nate Wallack. Continue reading “Running shoes change but comfort remains the selling point”

Consumer confidence is up, just in time for the holidays

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PHOENIX – Consumer confidence in Maricopa County and several other Arizona counties rose this year, according to a Rocky Mountain Poll.

The poll, conducted by the Behavior Research Center, shows consumer confidence in Maricopa County rose more than 10 points in October of this year compared to October last year, to 98.7 points from 88.5 points.

Sarah Bingham, who owns clothing store Antique Sugar in downtown Phoenix, said that feeling is turning into sales. She migrated her business from an online shop on Etsy to a physical store in central Phoenix in 2010. She moved to the downtown store about 1 1/2 years ago.

“We’ve definitely seen an uptake this month, especially this last weekend – Black Friday weekend,” Bingham said.

Continue reading “Consumer confidence is up, just in time for the holidays”

‘Health index’ scores counties on residents’ welfare, major health issues

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WASHINGTON – Diabetes, hypertension and depression are the biggest problems facing Arizona counties, according to a new nationwide health index map that also scored counties on whether they tend to be more healthy or less.

The report Tuesday by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association looked at every county where the insurer has clients and was issued, sponsors said, to help local governments focus health improvement efforts where they can do the most good.

In Arizona, where the report scored every county but Greenlee, the biggest issue was identified as diabetes in six counties, hypertension in four counties and depression, anxiety and other mood disorders in the remaining four. The report said nine of the 14 Arizona counties measured got scores higher than the national average of 0.924 on its scale of zero to one. Continue reading “‘Health index’ scores counties on residents’ welfare, major health issues”

Suns look to break three-game home skid and build on Bledsoe’s career night

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By Andrew Chapman
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PHOENIX – Suns coach Earl Watson said Tuesday that a key emphasis for his team is to play with consistency through entire games.

“We understand that in the first quarter and second quarter we find ourselves down by 20, and that can’t happen,” Watson said as the Suns prepare to play host to the Atlanta Hawks at Talking Stick Resort Arena Wednesday night.  “For us, it has to be consistent identity and effort throughout the entire game.”

The Suns hope to bounce back after dropping their 13th game of the season, a 120-114 home loss to the Denver Nuggets Sunday, despite a career-high 35 points from guard Eric Bledsoe.

“I feel unbelievable and confident,” Bledsoe said. “It’s still not too far of a reach for us to make the playoffs.”

For the Suns to reach the postseason, they’ll have to begin winning games on their homecourt, where they are just 2-5 this season. Continue reading “Suns look to break three-game home skid and build on Bledsoe’s career night”

Fairfax boys basketball team rallies around memory of Isia Slater

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by Trisha Garcia
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LAVEEN – Fairfax High School boys basketball head coach Josh Wray put his phone on vibrate on the night of Oct. 14, an unusual move for him.

Wray was not ready for the call from Isia Slater’s stepfather when he checked his phone over an hour later.

A suspected drunken driver hit the passenger side of a vehicle Slater had been riding in, taking the lives of the 16-year-old shooting guard on Wray’s team and another Fairfax student, Yohanna Giorgis.

The accident occurred just hours before what would have been Slater’s 17th birthday.

“It was already past midnight when everybody knew, so most of the day was kind of in disbelief,” said Payton Garrett, Slater’s teammate and best friend. “But, this season we’re gonna celebrate his birthday every day.”

Those closest to Slater said he was born to play basketball. They described him as quiet but competitive, passionate and selfless on and off the court.

But now, the Fairfax team and its coach are trying to find a way to focus on the season that starts Tuesday, which they say Slater would have wanted. Continue reading “Fairfax boys basketball team rallies around memory of Isia Slater”

Sheriff Joe Arpaio: Goodbye to posse is ‘last hurrah’

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By Andres Guerra Luz and Danielle Quijada
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PHOENIX – Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio stood in a cold parking lot outside Park Central Mall on Monday evening and presided over one of his last press conferences.

The conference was billed as a gathering in which Arpaio would say goodbye to posse members charged with protecting holiday shoppers.

But the focus of the event sometimes shifted from the posse to the 84-year-old sheriff’s reflections on 24 years in office. He was sometimes jovial, sometimes defiant, sometimes pensive. Some posse members held back tears as he spoke. Continue reading “Sheriff Joe Arpaio: Goodbye to posse is ‘last hurrah’”