Cronkite News Digest for Friday, Aug. 18

Here is the Cronkite News lineup for Friday Aug. 18. If you have questions on news stories, please contact Steve Crane in the Washington, D.C., bureau at 202-684-2398 or steve.crane@asu.edu, or call the Phoenix bureau for Kevin Dale at 602-496-5168 or kevin.dale@asu.edu or Venita James at venita.hawthorne.james@asu.edu or 602-496-5280. For business story questions, please contact Christina Leonard at 602-361-5893 or christina.leonard@asu.edu. Questions on sports stories should be directed to Brett Kurland at bkurland@asu.edu or 602-496-5234. Stories promised for today along with photos and links to multimedia elements will move on our client site at cronkitenews.asu.edu/clients.

Continue reading “Cronkite News Digest for Friday, Aug. 18”

Income for African Americans fell in last decade, Census says

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By NATHAN J. FISH
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Per capita income for African Americans in Arizona fell over the last decade, the only racial or ethnic group that did not see an increase for the period 2006 to 2015, according to new data from the Census Bureau.

But the news was not all good for the other groups: When adjusted for inflation, per capita incomes for all groups in Arizona dropped, with Asians seeing their buying power fall 2.7 percent and African Americans seeing a 9.3 percent drop.

Experts say the changes were driven by the recession and the mortgage crisis of the late 2000s, both of which hit Arizona hard – and blacks particularly hard. Continue reading “Income for African Americans fell in last decade, Census says”

High school athlete health at root of new AIA, Barrow initiative

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By FAITH PHARES
Cronkite News

TEMPE — As high schools reopen across the state, sports take center stage. They offer rewards but also risks for athletes practicing and competing in extreme temperatures.

The most common causes of death among high school athletes are heat illness, cardiac arrest and head injury, according to the Arizona Interscholastic Association, which launched an initiative to address these issues.

“Head, Heart and Heat” is designed to help coaches and administrator prepare for situations that call for medical attention.

Continue reading “High school athlete health at root of new AIA, Barrow initiative”

ATMs dealing in digital currency making digital cash a reality

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By JOE GILMORE
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – They look like ATMs and they work like ATMs – you walk in and feed the machine your cash.

Just don’t call them money machines, because these ATMs don’t give back cash, they give back bitcoin credits along with a receipt.

ATMs specializing in the cryptocurrency bitcoin are beginning to pop up from Peoria to Mesa, helping cryptocurrency technology move from the realm of computer programmers to the world of bank tellers.

“So far it’s been crypto-nerds and mathematicians and computer science geeks that have dominated the space and those people are absolutely needed in order to create the technology,” said Ryan Taylor, CEO of the Dash Core Group, which is behind the cryptocurrency called Dash. Continue reading “ATMs dealing in digital currency making digital cash a reality”

Beware: Sports, Arizona heat can be dangerous combination

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By SETH ASKELSON
Cronkite News

PHOENIX — Exercising in the Arizona heat can be a dangerous — and mind-altering — decision.

“(I) was doing 16 miles on the mountain and was coming down and started hallucinating,” former Arizona State runner Victoria Jackson said. “So I started thinking that I saw water bottles stashed out in the desert and was looking behind cacti to try to find these water bottles that obviously weren’t there.”

Summer in Arizona is not for the faint of heart with temperatures frequently in triple digits. Approximately 2,000 people go to Arizona emergency rooms for heat-related illnesses annually and nearly 1,300 deaths occurred from 2005-2015, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Continue reading “Beware: Sports, Arizona heat can be dangerous combination”

Just a sophomore, Saguaro kicker Lewis attracting national attention

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By Greg Macafee
Cronkite News

SCOTTSDALE — Three steps back, two steps to the left and one deep breath. Parker Lewis drills another field goal 40-plus yards through the uprights at Scottsdale Community College.

It’s a routine Lewis has become familiar with during the past two years since he switched from kicking soccer balls on the pitch to kicking footballs on the gridiron. Talk about a smooth transition. The Saguaro High School sophomore has surfaced as one of the top kickers and punters in the country.

He had played soccer for eight years, often finding himself carrying the ball up the right side of the field, from his wing position, and picking out teammates in the middle of the 18-yard box with pure precision Continue reading “Just a sophomore, Saguaro kicker Lewis attracting national attention”

Arizona edges to front of states eyeing blockchain technology

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By NATHAN J. FISH
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Before Arizona could be recognized as a leader in blockchain technology legislation there was one major challenge – helping lawmakers “get your head around” exactly what the technology is.

“It was very difficult, you know, trying to explain to people,” said Arizona State Rep. Jeff Weninger, R-Chandler. “You never want to vote for something that you don’t fully understand and this is, to say the least, a tough thing to get your head around.”

Weninger sponsored a bill that makes Arizona one of a handful of states to accept electronic signatures on contracts, a law that is made possible through the use of blockchain.

Blockchain is best known as the technology behind bitcoin, the system that lets people use digital currency in place of standard government-issued money. The technology was created in 2009 as a decentralized, replicated, peer-to-peer review network to serve as a public ledger for bitcoin but quickly found other uses in online data verification and the transfer of value. Continue reading “Arizona edges to front of states eyeing blockchain technology”

Rural schools face challenges in teaching STEM

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By LAUREN MARSHALL
Cronkite News

HOLBROOK – Devin Etsitty, 17, remembers a time when he didn’t like science, technology, engineering or math, but teachers at Holbrook High School were determined to change his mind. They appointed him to lead a new program to promote STEM education.

Now, Etsitty wants to study high-performance motorsports at the University of Northwestern Ohio. He would be the first in his family to get a college degree.

Etsitty is a rare STEM success story. Schools in rural Arizona get less teachers, business partnerships and access to technology for STEM education than schools in metro areas, educators and business leaders said.

In many rural areas of Arizona, students are falling behind, said Linda Coyle, a former teacher and director of education at the Arizona Science Foundation. Continue reading “Rural schools face challenges in teaching STEM”

Great deals drive golfers to feel the heat on Valley courses

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By Faith Phares
Cronkite News

PHOENIX — With a floppy hat on her head and sunblock in hand, Viv Hynes prepares to play a round at the TPC Scottsdale golf club.

It is above 100 degrees outside.

“It’s mostly the prices,” the Scottsdale resident said. Continue reading “Great deals drive golfers to feel the heat on Valley courses”

‘Hard choices’ at VA include possible cut to unemployability benefit

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By J.T. LAIN
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Faced with a “hard decision” on the budget, the Department of Veterans Affairs is again considering new limits on the Individual Unemployability benefit that currently helps more than 200,000 disabled veterans.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, telling a House panel this summer that providing unemployment benefits to vets “above the age of 80 … isn’t what makes sense to the average American,” has proposed cutting the IU benefit for vets once they are eligible for Social Security.

That is a step back from an earlier idea floated by Shulkin to eliminate the IU program and shift its funds to the underfunded VA’s Choice program, which lets vets seek private health care without affecting their benefits. But even the scaled-back reductions have veterans concerned.

“If they do something to IU, that’s going to really hurt veterans,” said Chuck Byers, chief service officer for the Arizona chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America. Continue reading “‘Hard choices’ at VA include possible cut to unemployability benefit”

CORRECTION to Aug. 8 story on immigration court backlogs

EDS: Clients who used a Cronkite News Story slugged BC-CNS-Immigration Logjam that moved Tuesday, Aug. 8, under a WASHINGTON dateline, are asked to use the following correction. The error occurred in the 12th graf of the original story. A corrected version of the story has been posted here.

WASHINGTON – An Aug. 8 Cronkite News story about growing backlogs in immigration courts gave the wrong title for Ruben Reyes. He is the immediate past chair of the Arizona chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Majority of state’s Native Americans now speak only English at home

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By NATHAN J. FISH
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Families in more than half of Native American homes in Arizona now speak only English at home, according to new numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau.

American Community Survey data covering 2011-2015 showed that 53 percent of people who identified as American Indian in the state said they speak only English at home, up from 49 percent in the previous five-year survey.

The increase comes despite efforts by tribes to keep their cultures and their languages alive, through immersion schools and tribal programs. But people involved in those programs said were not surprised by the numbers, which follow generations of government antagonism toward native culture and language. Continue reading “Majority of state’s Native Americans now speak only English at home”

Expensive, slow, frustrating: Renters, landlords have little government support

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By LAUREN MARSHALL
Cronkite News

MESA – Francesca Sutton was excited to move out of her apartment and into her first rental home. She didn’t expect the scorpions.

“The first night that we moved in, my son noticed a scorpion in his bedroom, so he called me when I got off from work,” Sutton said. “Then the next day, I just started seeing them everyday, every other day. This is not comfortable for me. I can’t live in a place like this.”

After living in the house some time, Sutton began to notice other issues, like low water pressure.

Sutton said when she contacted her landlord to fix the problems with her house, the landlord never followed through.

Tenant-landlord disputes are likely to grow. The housing crisis has led to more people in the U.S. renting than at any other time in recent history, according to the Pew Research Center. A decade ago, 34.6 million households were in rental properties. In 2016, there were 43.3 million rental households. Continue reading “Expensive, slow, frustrating: Renters, landlords have little government support”

Women who travel spend billions but still do all the work, including laundry

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By ALEXIS KUHBANDER
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Women plan travel and men go along with the plans, according to new marketing research that also shows generational differences among millennial, Gen X and boomer women who travel.

“Women are the CVPs of vacation: the chief vacation planners,” said Melissa Luebee of Meredith Travel Marketing, who presented findings of a 2015 survey this summer at an Arizona tourism industry conference.

Women travelers, whether vacationing with friends, family or alone, wield economic power. A record 43 million overnight visitors came to Arizona last year and collectively spent more than $20 billion, according to the Arizona Office of Tourism. Women were about 44 percent of those visitors.

Luebee said women who participated in the nationwide survey spent an estimated $61 billion in the U.S. that year. Continue reading “Women who travel spend billions but still do all the work, including laundry”

Triple digits? Done properly, training in intense heat can have advantages

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By Alexis Ramanjulu
Cronkite News

PHOENIX — In the 2017 version of the Black Canyon Ultras 100-kilometer race, which began in Mayer and finished in New River, 74 participants — nearly a quarter of the competitors — did not finish the race. Some dropped out before even starting and some attempted to complete the race but could not.

“I was running and saw big guys under the trees completely passed out with someone attending to them with a friend or a medical staff,” said Magdalena Romanska, an ultra marathon runner, certified life and wellness coach and personal trainer. “They actually ran out of cars to bring us back from the finish because they were taking (people) to hospitals.”

And that was in February when the weather was chilly — 45 degrees at the start. That didn’t discourage Romanska, who is among a growing group of athletes who pay attention to weather for training and is committed to working out in extreme summer heat. She strongly believes in a benefit.

Continue reading “Triple digits? Done properly, training in intense heat can have advantages”

Despite more judges, immigration courts backlog grows to record high

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  • Graphic of U.S. backlog, wait-time by city available (embed codes below)
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EDS: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong title for Ruben Reyes in the 12th graf. He is immediate past chair of the Arizona chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. The story below has been corrected, but clients who used previous versions are asked to run the correction that can be found here.

By MEGAN JANETSKY
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Immigration court cases waiting to be heard hit an all-time high of 607,755 in June – 10,031 of them in Arizona – despite the hiring of more judges and a Trump administration directive to expedite cases.

Immigration lawyers and advocates said they expect the backlog, which began in the early 2000s, will only continue grow as the current administration’s crackdown on immigrants gains steam.

“It’s a combination of the lack of resources and immigration judges, along with the increased emphasis on deportation and removal that’s continued to increase over the last several years,” said Tucson immigration lawyer Mo Goldman. Continue reading “Despite more judges, immigration courts backlog grows to record high”

Grand Canyon water pipeline slated for multimillion-dollar replacement

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By DEVIN CONLEY
Cronkite News

GRAND CANYON – An aging pipeline bringing water to residents, resorts and 6 million visitors a year at the Grand Canyon has broken about 80 times since 2010 and needs a multimillion-dollar replacement, park officials say.

Officials have sutured the breaks over the years, but that is no longer enough, said Kirby-Lynn Shedlowski, Grand Canyon spokeswoman. She said it’s time to go beyond patchwork and spend up to $124 million to replace it before a major disruption of water service at the international tourist draw.

“It’s been used long past it’s expected life plan,” Shedlowski said. Continue reading “Grand Canyon water pipeline slated for multimillion-dollar replacement”

Mexican Baseball Fiesta coming to Cubs’ Sloan Park

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By JOSE ESPARZA
Cronkite News

MESA —The Chicago Cubs are looking to bring more of a “fiesta” atmosphere to Sloan Park.

The sixth annual Mexican Baseball Fiesta, featuring three teams from the popular Mexican Baseball League, returns to Mesa in the fall after stops in Tucson and Hohokam Stadium.

“That’s so meaningful to us,” said Mike Feder, president of the Mexican Baseball Fiesta. “To show that our brand is worthy of playing in a Chicago Cubs stadium. I think that’s a big statement.”

Continue reading “Mexican Baseball Fiesta coming to Cubs’ Sloan Park”

Doubling down: McCain, Flake don’t soften edges despite poll showing

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By J.T. LAIN
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – What do you do when you are listed as one of the most unpopular people in your home state? If you’re a U.S. senator from Arizona, apparently you stick to your guns.

A poll in July by the website Morning Consult looked at the popularity of each senator in his or her home state and put Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake in the bottom three – trailing only Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Part of the explanation could lie in another Morning Consult poll that shows Arizona Republicans think highly of President Donald Trump. Flake has made a name for himself as a staunch never-Trump Republican, and McCain annoys party regulars by sometimes voting against the GOP. Continue reading “Doubling down: McCain, Flake don’t soften edges despite poll showing”

Arizona colleges strive to increase state’s graduation rate

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By ALEXIS KUHBANDER
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Arizona universities are working to drive up Arizona college graduation rates, smoothing the way for students transferring from community college, offering financial aid and adding online classes to draw non-traditional students.

Less than one out of three students in Arizona in 2013 earned a four-year degree in six years or less, according to a 2015 report by the U.S. Department of Education. The Arizona Board of Regents, which oversees the state’s three public universities, said in a 2015 statement their combined graduation rates were 59.8 percent in 2015-16, nearly five percent higher than the national average.

The regents’ goal is to increase graduation rates to 65.6 percent by 2020. Continue reading “Arizona colleges strive to increase state’s graduation rate”