Native American group deflects stereotypes at Arizona State Fair

  • Slug: Fair stereotypes. About 540 words.
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Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Crispy corn dogs skewered on greasy sticks, Ferris wheels towering above the crowd, and toddler-sized teddy bears coveted as carnival-game prizes dominate Arizona State Fair culture.

But one group is slipping in a glimpse of something more. Native Spirit members dance, chant and joke to debunk Native American stereotypes in several daily performances on a stage on the southwest corner of the fairgrounds.

Native Spirit leverages comedy instead of lectures, defying caricatures and telling the audience the meanings behind each drum beat, dance step and musical note.

The words didn’t have literal meanings but evoke feelings, such as lightheartedness, according to a group member.

Palmer Lomakema, a be-feathered, longtime member of the group, joked on stage about movie and book stereotypes about Native Americans, such as scenes showing tribe members dancing around a fire all night before a battle.

If that were the case, he told the audience gathered around the Cultural Stage, warriors would collapse at the first step they took on the battlefield.

Giggles threaded through the crowd, which grew from a handful of people to about 80 as they wandered into a recent show.

Continue reading “Native American group deflects stereotypes at Arizona State Fair”

Cronkite News Digest for Thursday, Oct. 27

Here is the Cronkite News lineup for Thursday, Oct. 27. 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 602496-5234. 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, Oct. 27”

Final settlement OK means VW, Audi drivers can start to file claims

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WASHINGTON – A federal judge in California gave final approval Tuesday to a $14.7 billion settlement with Volkswagen, clearing the way for up to 10,000 motorists in Arizona to file a claim to their share of the funds.

The deal settles government charges that the automaker installed “defeat devices,” software designed to make the cars run cleaner during emissions testing, on about 500,000 VW and Audi diesels in the U.S. to cheat.

Hundreds of lawsuits were filed by consumers after the cheating became public last year, along with suits by the state of California, the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The settlement approved Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer includes $4.7 billion that will go to states for clean-air efforts. Arizona is set to get $53 million from that pot.

Just over $10 billion of the settlement will go directly to consumers who bought or leased 2.0-liter VW and Audi diesels in model years 2009 to 2015. Continue reading “Final settlement OK means VW, Audi drivers can start to file claims”

Voters moved – but not moved to shift votes – by McCain’s Trump rebuke

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WASHINGTON – Was Sen. John McCain’s decision to withdraw his endorsement of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump a principled stand by a political maverick or the calculated move of a career politician?

All of the above and more, said voters who responded to a Public Insight Network query on politicians’ endorsements.

The differing opinions are not surprising for a public figure like McCain, a five-term Republican who has “been in the public eye for so long that people have their mind made up,” said Catherine Alonzo, a political consultant with Javelina. “So people will understand his actions through the lens they already have.” Continue reading “Voters moved – but not moved to shift votes – by McCain’s Trump rebuke”

AZ county officials: Early ballots may signal high election turnout

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PHOENIX – Some Arizona county elections officials said they expect high voter turnout this November after receiving a surge of early ballots this week.

Maricopa County – the state’s largest county – already has received about half a million early ballots, a spokeswoman said Wednesday. Officials have mailed out a record 1.5 million early ballots for the Nov. 8 election.

Elizabeth Bartholomew, a spokeswoman for the Recorder’s Office, said the amount of early voters is higher than usual.

“We have a contested presidential seat, and we haven’t had that since 2008,” Bartholomew said. “Early voting wasn’t as prominent back in 2008 as it is now.”

Experts are viewing Arizona as a battleground state for the first time in 20 years.

Three high-profile Democrats – first lady Michelle Obama, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Chelsea Clinton – visited the state earlier this month to campaign for presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. And Donald Trump Jr. will visit Arizona State University on Thursday to promote his father, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Another potential motivation to vote early? Many voters may want to avoid lines on Election Day.

Continue reading “AZ county officials: Early ballots may signal high election turnout”

Arizona PBS will launch 24/7 channel for kids

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PHOENIX – When Claire Stoehr was less than a year old, she began watching “Super Why,” a PBS show that teaches kids reading skills.

”At the time, I think it was the first thing on, and just from the repeated viewings of that, she was able to pick up – easily – two thirds of the alphabet,” said her father, Chris Stoehr. Both of his daughters, now 5-year-old Claire and 3-year-old Jaina love to watch shows on that channel.

“The only reason we have cable is for PBS,” he said. “For the kids programming.”

Arizona PBS will launch a new cable channel – digital channel 8.4 – in January that will broadcast free educational shows for kids, with a focus on improving educational outcomes in underserved communities.

“It will be 24 hours a day, seven days a week so that all kids will have unrestricted access to our educational content,” said Linda Simensky, vice president of children’s programming for PBS.

Simensky leads the PBS KIDS programming team, which uses research to create the educational content of the shows.

Continue reading “Arizona PBS will launch 24/7 channel for kids”

From pancakes to ping pong, Suns rookies build bond as season begins

Continue reading “From pancakes to ping pong, Suns rookies build bond as season begins”

Advocates worry rape kit backlog will discourage victims, enable offenders

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WASHINGTON – A state task force said Arizona has thousands more untested rape kits than originally thought, a problem that advocates fear could undermine efforts to get victims to come forward while giving serial offenders a “free pass.”

The Arizona Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit Task Force last month reported a backlog of 6,424 untested sexual assault evidence kits in law enforcement agencies throughout Arizona, well over original estimates that there would be about 4,000.

Sexual-assault kits, commonly known as rape kits, are used to collect evidence from victims in rape cases through a lengthy, invasive medical exam. The process can be four to six hours long and includes gathering DNA swabs, taking photographs and getting intimate details of the victim’s assault and sexual history, according to the group End the Backlog. Continue reading “Advocates worry rape kit backlog will discourage victims, enable offenders”

Arizona faces steepest Obamacare hike in U.S.; subsidies could curb pain

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WASHINGTON – Arizona residents can expect to see the largest rate increases in the nation when open enrollment for Obamacare begins next week, but advocates say those increases should be offset by similarly large increases in tax credits for consumers.

A Monday report by the Department of Health and Human Services said a 27-year-old Arizona resident with a mid-range insurance plan in the Affordable Care Act marketplace could see a 116 percent increase in premiums next year, more than four times the national average of 25 percent.

But that’s before the tax credit the vast majority of consumers get under Obamacare to help them pay for their coverage. Once that is applied, according to department estimates, about 78 percent of Arizonans in the health care marketplace could end up paying less than $100 a month for insurance – with 70 percent paying less than $50, according to HHS. Continue reading “Arizona faces steepest Obamacare hike in U.S.; subsidies could curb pain”

World Series foes share dugout in Arizona Fall League

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MESA -The 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians pits two star-crossed baseball franchises intent on ending championship droughts that date to 1908 for the Cubs and 1948 for the Indians.

While the big league clubs will be slugging it out against each other, some of their best prospects are going to be watching closely – together.

The Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League include players from the Cubs and Indians organizations, sharing the same clubhouse.

“It’s fun. It’s a good atmosphere for us in there and it’s pretty cool to have two teams going at it for the World Series” said infielder Ian Happ, who is the top-ranked prospect in the Cubs organization and one of seven Chicago prospects on the Solar Sox roster.

Happ, the Solar Sox second baseman, was drafted in the first round, No. 9 overall by the Cubs in the 2015 draft from the University of Cincinnati. He is ranked No. 21 on’s top 100 prospects in baseball. Continue reading “World Series foes share dugout in Arizona Fall League”

GCU students headed to Barcelona for international startup competition

  • Slug: Storage App, 465
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Cronkite News

PHOENIX – When Jed Woods and some fellow students from Grand Canyon University tried to find storage options for their stuff when they weren’t in school, they weren’t impressed with their options.

There must be an easier and cheaper way to do it, said Woods, a 20-year old business administration major.

So the group developed Storage Together, a startup company that takes Uber’s “sharing economy” idea and applies it to self storage.

The team took its concept to Phoenix’s Smart City App Hack event last week, and they beat out four other Phoenix-based startups. They won $3,000 and will now take their Storage Together idea to Barcelona, Spain, to compete in the international event, which brings together entrepreneurs from around the globe to solve civic issues.

Phoenix took part in the competition for the first time in 2015 after the Arizona Institute for Digital Progress arranged a partnership between the city and international Smart City App Hack organization.

Continue reading “GCU students headed to Barcelona for international startup competition”

CDC warns against nasal spray flu vaccination this season

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PHOENIX – Better get the Band-Aids out. This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends against nasal spray flu vaccinations, saying it’s less effective than the shot.

That means Arizona nurses and doctors will inject thousands of people the old-fashioned way, resulting in sore arms and lots of tears.

It may make a difference for some whether to get the vaccine. The nasal spray method represents about one third of all the vaccinations that have been given to children in recent years, according to the CDC.

“That has a huge impact on whether or not we even go back to get the flu shot because I don’t want to have her (her middle child) have another giant meltdown and be afraid,” said Jackie Zolnowski, a mother of three daughters from Gilbert.

However, Phoenix resident Zulema Viera said she doesn’t have a problem with the shot. She recently brought her children into the Maricopa County Public Health Clinic, and each of her children received the injection.

Continue reading “CDC warns against nasal spray flu vaccination this season”

AZ officials build mock teen bedroom to expose hidden signs of drug addiction

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PHOENIX – It seems like a normal room: There’s a can of hairspray by the mirror, a red trash can by the desk, an extension cord plugged into the wall and a teddy bear wearing a tie-dye shirt on the bed.

Unscrew the bottom of the can, and you’ll discover pills. Unfold the tinfoil in the trash, you’ll find black tar heroin. Open up the extension cord, you’ll see a “dab” rig – a kit to use marijuana. And the teddy bear? It’s got marijuana stuffed into its back.

Experts stashed all these items – and more – inside a mock teen bedroom to illustrate how easily teens can buy products online to hide their drug addiction.

It was part of a Monday tour created by the Arizona Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family as part of their Addiction: The Elephant in the Room campaign to spread awareness about drug addiction and destigmatize it. It opened Monday on the fourth floor of the Arizona Capitol Museum, and participants can sign up to explore the room all week.

Hidden in Plain Sight is a tour for adults 21 years and older to walk through a staged bedroom set with 50 types of drug paraphernalia bought online.

The office’s Director Debbie Moak, who led the team that put this event together, said the tours aim to help parents identify the warning signs of drug use before it becomes an addiction.

Continue reading “AZ officials build mock teen bedroom to expose hidden signs of drug addiction”

AZ Gov. Ducey limits initial opioid prescription to 7 days

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PHOENIX – Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Monday signed an executive order that will prohibit millions of Arizonans from filling initial prescriptions for more than seven days’ worth of opioids.

The limit includes both initial and subsequent prescriptions for children. However, the limit excludes opiate prescriptions for children with “cancer, chronic disease and traumatic injury,” according to a news release from the Governor’s Office.

The order only affects state employees and those in the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state’s Medicaid program, which covers about 1.9 million individuals and families in Arizona.

“This is a preventive step and one we hope employers and (private) insurance providers will follow our lead to address the scourge of addiction on the front end,” Ducey said during a kickoff event for Red Ribbon Week – an annual substance abuse awareness campaign – on the capitol lawn.

The governor said addiction affects one in every three households, and opioid abuse costs Americans more than $700 billion every year in health care and incarceration expenses.

In Arizona, health care costs related to opioid abuse costs the state an average of $104 per Arizonan, Ducey said.

Continue reading “AZ Gov. Ducey limits initial opioid prescription to 7 days”

Arizona regularly among top states for number of resettled refugees

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WASHINGTON – They come from Somalia and Myanmar, the Congo and Bhutan and Vietnam – and they all end up in Arizona.

More than 15,400 refugees from 42 different countries were resettled in Arizona from fiscal 2012 through the just-ended fiscal 2016, according to the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center. That made Arizona, the 14th-most-populous state in the nation, the fourth-largest recipient of resettled refugees during that period.

Advocates say there are several factors that combine to make the state a welcome landing place for people fleeing their home countries. Continue reading “Arizona regularly among top states for number of resettled refugees”

Arizona took more Syrian refugees than most states, U.S. seeks more

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WASHINGTON – At least 800 Syrian refugees were resettled in Arizona over the last year, more refugees than all but three states in the nation, according to the most recent data from the State Department’s Refugee Processing Center.

Arizona trailed only California, Michigan and Texas in the number of Syrians relocated in the past year, when President Barack Obama set of goal of accepting 10,000 refugees from the war-torn country – a goal that ended up being exceeded by about 2,500 refugees, the administration announced in September.

The announcement came as Obama unveiled plans to accept even more refugees – from Syria and the rest of the world – in the fiscal year that started this month. The president last year raised the cap on refugees admitted to the U.S. from 60,000 to 85,000, and during a United Nations address last month he committed the country to taking 110,000 in fiscal 2017. Continue reading “Arizona took more Syrian refugees than most states, U.S. seeks more”

CLARIFICATION for Oct. 21 story on climate impacts

EDS: Clients who used a Cronkite News story slugged BC-CNS-Hotter Arizona that moved Friday, Oct. 21, under a WASHINGTON dateline, are asked to use the following clarification. An updated version of the story has been posted here.

WASHINGTON – An Oct. 21 Cronkite News story about climate change and how Arizona water resources officials are preparing for it may have left an incorrect impression about temperature impact in parts of the state. While some parts of Arizona could see 100 days above 100 degrees in 20 years, southwestern parts of the state could have more than 140 such days, according to EPA climate models.

Suns rookies add to franchise’s youth movement

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Cronkite News

FLAGSTAFF – The Phoenix Suns morning practice at Northern Arizona University during the third day of training camp had drawn to a close and the players were going through their cool down routine before talking with reporters.

But, before the breakout, the Suns’ veterans had a gift to welcome their rookies to the league: Disney backpacks. The pink and blue book bags usually worn by elementary school children looked out of place on the backs of professional athletes preparing for an NBA season.

As the rookies gathered to check each other’s new gear, the veterans announced to them they need to keep the backpacks with them during games, and would be fined if they are caught without it. Tyler Ulis, the former Kentucky Wildcat drafted in the second round, had his own thoughts on the rookie initiation.

“Some days I might take the fine, depends on how I’m feeling,” he said.

The Suns will be starting the season Wednesday with three rookies on the 15-man roster: Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss and Ulis. They are seen as the next wave in the youth movement the organization is investing in to go along with Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, Brandon Knight and Alex Len. Continue reading “Suns rookies add to franchise’s youth movement”

Tebow’s presence draws crowds to Arizona Fall League

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Cronkite News

SCOTTSDALE – Tim Tebow leans against the backstop netting at Scottsdale Stadium, fielding questions from reporters.

As a former pro quarterback, he knows the drill. Tebow has always been a lightning rod. He won a Heisman Trophy and a national championship at Florida. He spent time in the NFL, once leading the Denver Broncos to a playoff victory. And he continues to serve as a college football analyst.

But this time, he was speaking as an outfielder for the Scottsdale Scorpions and the questions are about his role in an Arizona Fall League matchup against the Surprise Saguaros.

Tebow signed a minor league contract with the New York Mets in September and was assigned to the Fall League, which includes many of the top prospects in baseball.

“Baseball is something I’ve enjoyed since I was 4 years old,” Tebow said. “I almost (decided to play) as a professional coming out of high school. It’s something that never really left me.” Continue reading “Tebow’s presence draws crowds to Arizona Fall League”

Schools out on Fridays as AJ students adjust to four-day school week

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APACHE JUNCTION – One year after a southeast Valley school district switched to a four-day school week, some parents and students still grapple with longer days and child-care schedules while others have embraced the new model.

Anahi Lopez, 16, a junior at Apache Junction High School, at first liked the idea of a four-day school week.

“My reaction at first was, I thought it was going to be a good idea because we would have more time to spend with, like our family, or more free time. But after they told us that we would be having to go in earlier, I kind of changed my mind,” Lopez said.

She finds longer school days are tiring.

“After they told us that we would be having to go in earlier, I kind of changed my mind because from having to wake up at seven, to waking up at five was a big change,” she said.

The Apache Junction Unified School District, in a move to retain and attract teachers and save money, switched in August 2015 from a five-day school week to a shorter, four-day week of longer days in the classroom. More than a dozen districts in Arizona now hold classes Monday through Thursday, although none of the larger districts in the Phoenix area have switched to the shorter school week.

Continue reading “Schools out on Fridays as AJ students adjust to four-day school week”