Cronkite News

Shuffle elsewhere: Arizona does well on zombie apocalypse survivability

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  • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By CAMARON STEVENSON
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Arizona has been known to lure new residents with its favorable climate and low taxes, but three new studies may give the state a fresh appeal: zombie apocalypse survivability.

Travel site Hopper and real estate search firm Estately recently ranked Arizona as a good place to be in the event of a zombie outbreak, while online real estate firm Trulia took the other tack, ranking the state as less zombie-friendly than others.

In both scenarios, Arizona came out as good for those with a heartbeat.

The rankings – based on such things as good-for-zombies obesity ratings and traffic tie-ups and good-for-humans gun ownership and hardware stores – are the latest in the offbeat “best of” lists that pop up regularly from companies seeking a little buzz.

And Halloween seemed to get several thinking of zombies. Read More »

Arizona schools look overseas for teachers to fill vacant positions

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By MIRANDA RIVERS
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Shannon Goodsell looked all over the state this spring for teachers to fill vacancies at Casa Grande Union High School District, where he is superintendent, but still came up short.

With nowhere else to turn, his school district decided to look overseas and, working with an international staffing agency, it found 11 Filipino teachers who started teaching in Casa Grande this fall.

“They have arrived in our community and have done a wonderful job and are really good teachers,” Goodsell said, noting that the teachers are all qualified and some have master’s degrees or are nearing completion of doctorates.

“It was a really big bonus to us to not only have our teaching positions filled, but have them filled by people who have such wealth of degrees for their subject matters,” he said. Read More »

Cronkite News Digest for Friday, Oct. 31

Here is the Cronkite News lineup for Friday, Oct. 31. Please contact Steve Crane in the Washington, D.C., bureau at 202-684-2398 or steve.crane@asu.edu or Steve Elliott in the Phoenix bureau at 602-496-0686 or steve.elliott@asu.edu if you have questions. Stories promised for today along with photos and links to multimedia elements will move on our client site at cronkitenews.asu.edu/clients.

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Officials want to know if animal spotted near Grand Canyon is gray wolf

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By LAURIE LILES
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Federal officials said Thursday they are trying to determine whether a wolf-like animal that has been repeatedly spotted in an area north of the Grand Canyon is an endangered gray wolf, as environmental groups believe.

The animal, first spotted by a visitor to the area on Oct. 4, would be the first gray wolf in that part of the state since the 1940s, if officials can confirm its species.

“It would be premature to say whether it is a gray wolf, a wolf hybrid or, least likely, a Mexican gray wolf,” said Jeff Humphrey, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in Phoenix.

“That’s where our immediate course of action is, to ascertain what type of animal it is,” Humphrey said. Read More »

Report: Latino voting power continues to increase in Arizona

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By LINXIAO LI
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Latino voters in Arizona are steadily increasing their impact on elections, according to a report released Thursday by the voter-registration group One Arizona.

“What we want to highlight is the growing portion of electors,” said Francisco Heredia, One Arizona’s executive director. “It will continue to grow steadily into being a political force.”

According to State of Arizona’s Latino Voters: Election 2014 Report, the number of registered Latino voters who have signed up for early voting list has tripled since 2010. The share of votes cast by Latino voters rose from 9 percent in 2006 to 12 percent in 2010. One Arizona estimates that that number will go above 14 percent this year.

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Study: Voice-activated technology doesn’t always make driving safer

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  • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By CARLENE REYES
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Vehicles equipped with voice-activated technology are designed to allow drivers to multitask hands-free and increase their safety behind the wheel, but a recent AAA study suggests that this may not always be the case.

A car’s in-dash voice activation system, or infotainment system, can be frustrating to drivers when it doesn’t work correctly or is too complicated to use. It’s something that driver Will Sowards has gone through time and time again with his car’s Ford SYNC with MyFord Touch system.

“A lot of times it will mishear you and not understand you,” said Sowards, Arizona State University student. “I would yell and scream at this thing.”

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Need tickets to the Notre Dame/ASU football game? It’ll cost you

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  • Google Map available for embed (see below)

By THOMAS MITCHELL
Cronkite News

TEMPE – It’s been 26 years since Notre Dame football won a national championship, but the cost of tickets for Arizona State’s Nov. 8 home game proves the Fighting Irish are still in high demand.

As of Thursday afternoon, the lowest price for a single ticket through online ticket broker StubHub was $165, which buys a seat overlooking the end zone from the Sun Devil Stadium’s upper deck. Similar seats for ASU’s home games against Pac-12 rivals Utah and Washington State are selling for less than $40.

The highest price: $1,303.29 apiece for four lower-level seats near the 50-yard-line.

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Late with your early ballot? Here are tips for making sure your vote is counted

  • Slug: Early Ballots,650
  • Sidebar: Maricopa, Pima ballots.

By RACHEL LUND
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Like 60 percent of Arizona voters, Jeff McMahon, a Democrat from Tempe, is on Arizona’s permanent early voting list. Unlike a large percentage of early voters, McMahon is vigilant about walking his early ballot to the post office at least a couple of weeks before Election Day.

“I have never missed an election in my life,” he said. “I know that some of the people I’m voting for and some of the issues I am voting on are decided by not a lot of people, so it matters that I get counted.”

The Secretary of State’s Office named Thursday, Oct. 30, the “deadline” for mailing in early ballot so they will arrive in time. As of Wednesday, however, about 36 percent of Maricopa County early ballots and 44 percent of Pima County early ballots had arrived at election offices.

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Programs aim to move students toward becoming primary care doctors

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By ALEXA ARMSTRONG
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Sarah Kellerhals, a second-year medical school student at University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix, says she always knew she wanted to be a primary care doctor rather than specializing in a more lucrative area such as cardiology.

“My parents were in the medical field; my dad was a physician’s assistant and my mom was a nurse, and I just kind of always was interested in medicine,” Kellerhals said.

When both of her parents were diagnosed with cancer within six months of each other while she was a pre-med undergraduate student, it only strengthened her passion for the field, she said.

“I wanted to know more about it, I wanted to learn more about the human body,” Kellerhals said. “I also really enjoyed taking care of them and helping them and I figured that medicine is a great way to continuing caring and helping people.”

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For Surprise high schooler, volleyball success only part of achievements

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By BETHANY REED
Cronkite News

SURPRISE – For most high school volleyball players, getting a full-ride scholarship to play for University of California, San Diego, would be an accomplishment all by itself.

For Jacqueline Kientzler, a senior co-captain of Valley Vista High School’s team, it joins a long list of achievements.

Those range from being at the top of her class in academics and a National Merit Scholar to starting Pause for the Friends of Paws Inc., an organization that helps those in homeless shelters keep their pets.

And she accomplished the latter as a sixth-grader who lived in Tucson at the time.

Read More »

Gay marriage, now legal in Arizona, not recognized by Navajo Nation

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By HELEN TRACEY-NOREN
Cronkite News

Nathaniel George said that he knew he was going to marry his husband the first time he laid eyes on him more than eight years ago. Being Navajo and a Flagstaff resident, the chance of them getting legally married in Arizona or on the reservation wasn’t likely.

But George and his partner, George Almaraz, were among the first same-sex couples wed in Coconino County on Oct. 17, the day a federal judge overturned Arizona’s ban.

Though the fight for marriage equality has ended in Arizona, it continues for same-sex couples living in the Navajo Nation, which makes up more than 20 percent of the state but isn’t subject to its laws.

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Officials responding to high E. coli levels in scenic Greenlee County river

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  • Sidebar: About E. coli.
  • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)
  • Video story in YouTube

By STEPHEN HAMWAY
Cronkite News

CLIFTON – Since the end of the 19th century, when large-scale mining came to what is now Greenlee County, the San Francisco River has been this area’s lifeblood.

One of the 10 fastest-flowing rivers in the United States, the San Francisco slices through canyons and forests and has provided towns with everything from access to supplies from the East when the region was first settled to drinking water and recreation today.

“When you live on the river, it becomes such a big part of your life,” said Deborah Mendelsohn, one of the founders of Friends of the Frisco, a volunteer environmental group dedicated to protecting the San Francisco River.

Recently, however, the river has become a source of concern for the community. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, which monitors rivers across the state, determined that the stretch of the San Francisco River that runs through Greenlee County had levels of E. coli bacteria that exceeded the EPA’s standard.

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Backers of medical marijuana launch effort to legalize recreational use

By LAUREN LOFTUS
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – The people who brought medical marijuana to Arizona four years ago now want marijuana legal for everyone over the age of 21.

The Marijuana Policy Project has filed paperwork with state election officials to form a committee to begin raising funds for a 2016 citizens initiative to legalize recreational marijuana use. Arizona voters narrowly passed Proposition 203 allowing medical cannabis use in 2010.

Communications Director Mason Tvert said the group has plenty of support in Arizona despite the state’s traditionally conservative voting patterns.

“It appears most Arizona voters are ready to adopt a more sensible policy,” he said. “There were a large number of supporters who got on board (in 2010) and are ready to move forward.”

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What’s on voters’ minds? Here’s what a bunch told Cronkite News

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  • Note: CORRECTS to Larson sted Larsen.

By RACHEL LUND
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Most of those who identified themselves as independents see themselves as conservative or liberal.

Most say they want to know who is funding political ads but don’t believe those ads affect their decisions as voters.

Regardless of their gender, race or other demographic indicators, many rate education and the economy as the most important factors in deciding how to vote.

Wanting to find out what’s on the minds of Arizona voters with the general election approaching, Cronkite News reached out to sources in the Public Public Insight Network to ask what really matters to them. Here are the trends among the 39 regular voters who responded.

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Arizona State looks to sharpen play with 6-1 Utes coming to town

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By MORGAN CHAN
Cronkite News

TEMPE – Arizona State’s trip to Washington ended in victory Saturday, but it came with a heavy dose of adversity.

Quarterback Taylor Kelly was rusty in his return from injury, completing 14 of 25 passes for 180 yards, left guard Christian Westerman was injured late in the third quarter and the Sun Devils mustered a season-low 290 yards through sideways rain and high winds. But ASU emerged with a 24-10 road win.

Head coach Todd Graham said those challenges were exactly what they needed to improve.

“Everything that happened in that game – everything – was perfect, because when you prevail and face that kind of adversity … it helps you mature,” he said.

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After 23 years in Congress, Pastor savors victories little and large

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  • Sidebar: Pastor bio info
  • Video story available on YouTube.
  • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By LAURIE LILES
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Jack Lunsford says Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Phoenix, will be remembered for countless legislative contributions to Arizona, but the memory that best sums up the long-term congressman for Lunsford has nothing to do with politics.

It was the mid-1980s and the two had just finished lunch at Oaxaca Restaurant when Pastor was approached by a man asking for money to buy food.

“Are you really hungry?” Lunsford remembers Pastor asking. “Because if you are, I’ll take you inside and put you on my tab.

“And they went back inside and Ed bought him something to eat,” said Lunsford, who calls it a life lesson he tried to teach his children.

It is typical of the recollections shared as Pastor prepares to give up the seat in Congress that he has held for 23 years. In conversations with politicians and political observers, Pastor is described as a friend as often as he is lauded for his achievements during 40 years in public service. Read More »

Veteran Foote moves from injury fill-in to team leader on 6-1 Cardinals

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  • Sidebar: Foote bio.

By BETHANY REED
Cronkite News

TEMPE – A 34-year-old inside linebacker, Larry Foote said he thought he signed on with the Arizona Cardinals for a temporary role to shore up a depleted defense.

Instead, Foote is a big part of the reason for Cardinals’ 6-1 start, playing a role that Bruce Arians said has been the team’s “glue.”

“He calls the defense, he sets the defense, he’s the cheerleader,” Arians said. “He’s everything I knew he would be.”

Foote, who has 29 tackles on the season so far, signed with the Cardinals last May after being released by the Steelers when he missed most of Pittsburgh’s 2013 season due to a torn bicep.

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Phoenix Children’s getting supercomputer to improve genomic testing

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  • Sidebar: About the testing.
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By ALEXA ARMSTRONG
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – To Bob Meyer, CEO of Phoenix Children’s Hospital, parents of children with chronic diseases such as congentital heart problems and cancer often are looking for more than a cure. They want to know why it’s happening.

“I believe, and most of our physicians believe, that the vast majority of chronic diseases in children are genetically based,” he said. listen

Meyer said the answer to finding out where these diseases start and how best to treat them is genome testing, a process in which DNA mutations are analyzed to pinpoint the orientation of a disease.

Phoenix Children’s has been doing its testing off-site. Results can take up to three months to get back and can cost millions to sequence an entire genome.

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Study: Climate change will make wildfires worse for Arizona, nation

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  • Sidebar: Notable Arizona wildfires.
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By STEPHEN HAMWAY
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – While Arizona’s most recent fire season was relatively tame, one study argues that the worst may be yet to come due to climate change.

In a study titled “Flammable Planet: Wildfires and the Social Cost of Carbon,” the Cost of Carbon Pollution project predicts larger, more frequent, more intense and more costly wildfires around the world by 2050 – with the American Southwest being affected in particular.

Using current projections for warming temperatures and other factors, the study puts a price tag on the increased wildfire threat.

“The United States will be particularly affected; scientists predict a 50 to 100 percent increase in area burned by 2050,” the study reads.

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Initiative eases transition back to Mexico for those deported through Nogales

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  • Sidebar: About the initiative.
  • Photo available (thumbnail, caption below)
  • Video story in YouTube

By BRITTANY DUCKSWORTH
Cronkite News

NOGALES, Sonora, Mexico – Deported after 25 years in the United States on domestic violence charges, Jose Castellea stepped off a bus here at the border gate eight days ago with only the clothes on his back and a few belongings.

“The first time you’re scared when you’re here in Mexico,” Castellea said. “Now, well I have to be here the rest of my life.”

Until he figured out how to get to relatives in Guadalajara, Castellea was able to find food and shelter for a week through the Kino Border Initiative operated by Roman Catholic groups.

Since 2009, the legally incorporated binational organization has provided an Aid Center for Deported Migrants serving two meals a day, a Nazareth House shelter for migrant women and children and a First Aid Station for migrants.

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