Cronkite News

Arizona’s 13 JTEDs offer vocational alternative to traditional high schools

  • Slug: Arizona JTEDs,600
  • Sidebar: List of JTEDs.
  • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By ALICIA CANALES
Cronkite News

GLENDALE – Matthew Capota glanced over at his group as three teenagers picked up pieces of an airplane engine on a table and turned them over in their hands. Capota, a senior at Liberty High School, and fellow students make sure the engine would work properly and safely.

“David, inspect it for cracks, corrosion or anything unairworthy,” Capota said.

Capota is one of 33 students in the aviation program at Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC), one of the 13 joint technical education districts in Arizona.

These school districts offer Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses, which will help provide workers for jobs that are projected to grow by 2020, according to a study by the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University. Construction jobs, for example, are expected to increase by 30 percent.

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Kingman ‘downwinders’ seek recognition from U.S. decades after atomic tests

By JESSICA BOEHM
Cronkite News

KINGMAN – Danielle Stephens grew up on a cattle ranch here in the 1950s. She rode horses, spent her days in the sun and, like many people in the area, delighted in watching mushroom clouds spring up beyond the mountains.

It was the middle of the Cold War, and about 150 miles north of Stephens’ ranch the federal government was engaged in a nuclear testing program. In Las Vegas and the tiny towns of northern Arizona, people were beguiled by the atomic explosions that lit up the sky.

The Soviet Union had recently developed its first atomic weapon, and in response the United States ramped up its testing. Over 12 years, the U.S. performed 100 atmospheric tests at the Nevada Test Site.

“I can remember that it was a big deal, kind of a carnival atmosphere,” said Danielle’s brother, Dan Bishop. “We got to see the dust clouds and on occasion we felt the wind. There was a lot of talk.”

Today, Stephens and Bishop contend that radiation from the tests was the cause of cancer in dozens of their relatives and friends. At last count, 33 of their family members had died of cancer.

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Cronkite News Digest for Friday, Dec. 12

Here is the Cronkite News lineup for Friday, Dec. 12. 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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Once-bleak downtown Phoenix poised to add even more apartments

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  • Photo available (thumbnail, caption below)

By STEPHEN HAMWAY
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Downtown Phoenix, once left for dead by residents and developers alike, has seen a revival in housing options in recent years with new apartment and condominium projects.

And more apartments should be on the way, as several major projects are slated to add around 2,100 bedrooms to the downtown core by 2017, according to Dan Klocke, vice president of economic development at the Downtown Phoenix Partnership.

“You’ll see a lot of groundbreakings in the next six to 12 months,” Klocke said.

Among them is Central Station, a proposed 34-story apartment building that would be integrated with the transit station along Van Buren Street between Central and First avenues. It would become Phoenix’s tallest residential building.

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New amputee basketball group offers alternative to wheelchair leagues

  • Slug: Stand-up Basketball,600
  • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By BRITTANY DUCKSWORTH
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Having recently picked up the sport, Steve Barrett, 51, now hits the basketball court every week to shoot hoops with his team and to perfect his jump shot.

Preparing for his shot, Barrett dribbles the ball with his left hand, quickly switches to his right, plants his feet, aims and hits the net. After a couple of shots, Barrett walks to the bench to take a break and to adjust his prosthetic right leg.

An amputee since suffering a staph infection in 2013, Barrett said he decided to make a change in his life and become more active by joining the Stand Up Amputee Basketball League.

“You don’t know what you have until you miss it,” he said. “People take for granted having two good legs and two good arms.” Read More »

Industry-funded study suggests almonds can help prevent heart damage in diabetics

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By ALICIA CANALES
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Eating almonds is beneficial for those with Type 2 diabetes, according to an Arizona State University study funded by an industry group.

The study, published in Journal of Functional Foods, showed that eating 1.5 ounces of almonds can reduce levels of C reactive protein, which is part of a chain that can lead to heart disease, in people with progressed Type 2 diabetes.

C reactive protein is a marker for inflammation, which indicates a person has a high level of oxidative stress. Inflammation is important to keep in check because it can lead to heart disease, according to Carol Johnston, associate director of ASU’s nutrition program in the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion.

“Oxidation is really a problem because that can further the damage to their arterial walls, which causes the heart disease problem,” Johnston said. “It’s nice to manage your glucose, but you also need to make sure the vasculature in your heart system is operating well, and oxidative stress is very damaging to that.”

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With three Elite Eight appearances, ASU’s Wulk was Valley’s first basketball patriarch

EDITOR’S NOTE: Frank Kush, football. Ned Wulk, men’s basketball. Bobby Winkles, baseball. Along with track and field coach Baldy Castillo, this group helped elevate Arizona State University athletics into a nationally known program from the late 1950s on. This Cronkite News special multimedia report explores their careers and legacies.

By THOMAS MITCHELL
Cronkite News

TEMPE – When Arizona State basketball plays at Wells Fargo Arena, the Sun Devils aren’t just defending their home court. They’re defending the legacy of Ned Wulk.

While names like Lute Olson and Jerry Colangelo come to mind when talking about Arizona’s basketball legends, those who lived in the Valley during the ’60s and ’70s might pick Wulk as the state’s patriarch of hoops, fondly remembering his seasons in the old Sun Devil Gymnasium.

ASU has changed with time, but Wulk, who passed away in 2003 at the age of 83, remains a presence on campus. The university named Wells Fargo Arena’s hardwood Ned Wulk Court in 1998 to honor a 31-year coaching career that put Sun Devil basketball on the map.

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Players say discipline, mental toughness keys to Kush’s success building ASU football

EDITOR’S NOTE: Frank Kush, football. Ned Wulk, men’s basketball. Bobby Winkles, baseball. Along with track and field coach Baldy Castillo, this group helped elevate Arizona State University athletics into a nationally known program from the late 1950s on. This Cronkite News special multimedia report explores their careers and legacies.

    By BETHANY REED
    Cronkite News

    TEMPE – After putting his team through seven hours of preseason practice at Camp Tontozona near Payson, Arizona State football coach Frank Kush would make players run up a steep hill dubbed Mount Kush in full pads and helmets.

    The coach would make the trip as well to make sure everyone made it to the top.

    But for Danny White, who played quarterback for Kush from 1971 to 1973 before an NFL career, the most memorable runs up Mount Kush were punishments for disappointing the coach during practice.

    “And your coach had to go with you and make sure that you got to the top and you didn’t just go halfway up,” White said. “So your coach was mad at you, Coach Kush was mad at you, in addition to the fact that you had to run up that mountain.”

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    Winkles put ASU baseball on map, nurtured talents such as Reggie Jackson

    EDITOR’S NOTE: Frank Kush, football. Ned Wulk, men’s basketball. Bobby Winkles, baseball. Along with track and field coach Baldy Castillo, this group helped elevate Arizona State University athletics into a nationally known program from the late 1950s on. This Cronkite News special multimedia report explores their careers and legacies.

      By MORGAN CHAN
      Cronkite News

      PHOENIX – Early one morning in September 1958, a young Bobby Winkles stepped onto Arizona State University’s campus for the first time as the newly hired varsity baseball coach. It was just after sunrise, and Winkles walked the entire campus looking for the practice field.

      Everything had gone perfectly with the move. Athletic Director Clyde B. Smith hired him, brought him to Arizona and arranged temporary housing for Winkles, his wife and their baby daughter so he could start as soon as possible.

      There was just one problem, Winkles recalled.

      “I went into (Smith’s) office when he got there, ’cause I was there before hardly daylight, and I said, ‘Mr. Smith, I have not been able to find the baseball field.’ And Mr. Smith said to me, ‘Bobby, I forgot to tell you: We don’t have one.’”

      Read More »

      A well-earned name: Nothing is simple in world of ‘dark money’ politics

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      • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

      Eds: Accompanies BC-CNS-Dark Opinions and BC-CNS-Dark Arizona.

      By LAURIE LILES
      Cronkite News

      WASHINGTON – Paul G. Ryan asked the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office what seemed like a simple question: Is a state nonprofit that spends money to influence elections actually a political committee?

      Almost six months later, it’s clear that the question is not so simple.

      Ryan’s question about the Arizona Free Enterprise Club sparked an expedited review by the secretary of state’s office, which found reasonable cause to turn the question over to the attorney general.

      After Attorney General Tom Horne declared a conflict of interest, his office turned the matter over to the Scottsdale prosecutor’s office. It, in turn, bumped the matter to the City of Peoria, which is now looking into the matter.

      The case illustrates the difficulty of peeking into the operations of so-called “dark money” organizations, which sit at the intersection of tax law, campaign-finance rules, nonprofit governance and the question of what constitutes the social good. Read More »

      Right or wrong, public has dark opinion of ‘dark money’ in elections

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      • File photo available (thumbnail, caption below)

      Eds: Accompanies BC-CNS-Dark Fight and BC-CNS-Dark Arizona.

      By LAURIE LILES
      Cronkite News

      WASHINGTON – Bethany Braley heads a nonprofit organization promoting cowboy culture, a job that has everything to do with preserving a slice of American heritage and nothing to do with politics.

      But get the Prescott Valley resident talking about the current state of campaign finance, and it’s clear she has been giving politics a lot of thought lately.

      Braley uses terms like “disgusting” to describe the record-setting influx of so-called dark money into this year’s elections, a trend that has left her feeling “dirty and personally degraded.”

      “It seems to me it’s no longer a democracy,” said Braley, who says she make it a point to keep her politics out of her day job. “It’s a political machine dominated by the wealthy.”

      Braley is not the only one who feels that way.

      As dark-money spending reached what appeared to be record levels this fall, and with little sign of abating, polls showed staggeringly high numbers of Americans deeply troubled by the practice. Read More »

      Arizona cited as a ‘special place’ for dark-money operations

      • Slug: BC-CNS-Dark Arizona,870
      • Photo available (thumbnail, caption below)

      Eds: Accompanies BC-CNS-Dark Fight and BC-CNS-Dark Opinions.

      By LAURIE LILES
      Cronkite News

      WASHINGTON _ Dark money in campaigns has become an issue nationwide but in the words of one expert, Arizona “really is a special place for dark money.”

      The state, because of its laws or its culture, has become ground zero for a growing number of politically active tax-exempt organizations, said Robert Maguire, the political nonprofits investigator at the Center for Responsive Politics.

      “Many of the most questionable organizations in existence have some tie to Arizona,” Maguire said.

      He ought to know. Since 2012, Maguire and his center colleagues have compiled about 18,000 records that they pieced together from IRS Forms 990 – the tax returns that tax-exempt and nonprofit organizations have to file with the government every year. Read More »

      Congress finds sorting Fast and Furious documents ‘like pieces of a puzzle’

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      • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

      By CAMARON STEVENSON
      Cronkite News

      WASHINGTON – More than a month after the Justice Department released 64,280 documents on Operation Fast and Furious, few new details about the botched “gun-walking” probe have emerged as congressional staff sorts tens of thousands of .pdf files.

      “They dumped them on us,” said Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, of the massive numbers of records. “A lot of it hasn’t even been seen by Congress yet.”

      Gosar is a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that fought to get the documents. He said staffers are combing through the records, making sure sensitive information is redacted and unnecessary redactions are corrected before they can utilize the records.

      But while Gosar questioned the format of the release, watchdog groups said it may have been “a little unusual,” but that they saw nothing improper about it. One said it may even have been the best way for the government to show it had not tampered with any of the documents. Read More »

      Advocates blast states’ suit against Obama’s immigration plan

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      By LAURIE LILES
      Cronkite News

      WASHINGTON – Legal experts on Friday dismissed as groundless a lawsuit that 18 states, including Arizona, brought this week against President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

      The suit filed in federal court in Texas claims that deferred deportation of illegal immigrants and other initiatives Obama announced last month “amounted to a unilateral suspension of the nation’s immigration laws.”

      But a top immigration lawyer Friday derided the suit as “a factually challenged press release,” and said the president is on solid legal ground.

      “The precedent has been set, this was nothing new, and it’s statutorily based,” said David Leopold. “The president is well grounded in the Constitution and in the law.” Read More »

      National forests’ Christmas tree permits going, going – and gone in some

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      • Sidebar: About the permits
      • File photo available (thumbnail, caption below)

      By IMELDA MEJIA
      Cronkite News

      PHOENIX – Those hoping to bring home a Christmas tree from one of Arizona’s national forests had better pick up the pace.

      One reason for speed: The Coconino National Forest sold all of its 600 Christmas tree permits on Tuesday less than two weeks after sales began, while Prescott National Forest sold out in just a week last month.

      As of Friday, permits were still available from the Kaibab, Apache-Sitgreaves and Tonto national forests.

      “Call or visit an office now because they do go quickly,” said Jackie Banks, a spokeswoman for Kaibab National Forest. Read More »

      Study finds Phoenix-area home starts down through third quarter

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      • Photo available (thumbnail, caption below)

      By CARLENE REYES
      Cronkite News

      PHOENIX – Phoenix-area home builders are heading for a disappointing end to the year, according to a survey that shows a decline in home starts.

      According to a third quarter report released by Metrostudy, a housing market consulting company, new home starts were down 10 percent during the 12 months ending Sept. 30 compared to the previous 12 months.

      The largest drop was in the struggling market of Pinal County with 23 percent. The high-end northeast Valley, however, has continued to see an increase with 37.5 percent. Read More »

      Defense spending in state fell $1.7 billion in 2013; industry looks to future

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      • Sidebar: Defense contracts by year
      • File photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

      By CAMARON STEVENSON
      Cronkite News

      WASHINGTON – Defense contracts awarded in Arizona fell by $1.7 billion between 2012 and 2013, buffeted by the federal budget sequestration, a drawdown of U.S. military commitments and a sluggish economic recovery.

      While the drop was severe – total defense contract spending in the state fell from $12.94 billion to $11.25 over the one-year period – industry officials said they took precautions that helped soften the blow in the short term.

      But experts also said that in the long run, defense dollars will remain “critical to Arizona’s economic future,” which is why state and private officials are focused on making sure the drops in spending do not continue.

      “We’re making sure our congressional delegation understands the importance of Arizona’s defense contracts,” said Garrick Taylor, senior vice president of government relations and communications at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. Read More »

      GCU president touts new STEM program as part of White House initiative

      • Slug: BC-CNS-Scholar Summit,650
      • Video story available on YouTube
      • Photo available (thumbnail, caption below)

      By MIRANDA RIVERS
      Cronkite News

      WASHINGTON – Grand Canyon University President Brian Mueller was a long way from inner-city Phoenix on Thursday, but it was not far from his mind as he talked about his school’s new STEM program.

      “We are especially targeting students from inner cities that don’t think that kind of career is available to them,” said Mueller, in Washington to tout a program to help those students get involved and succeed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – STEM – fields.

      Mueller was one of hundreds of college leaders from across the country – and at least two from Arizona – outlining hundreds of different programs at the second White House College Opportunity Summit. Read More »

      Gila River teen joins hundreds at White House’s Tribal Nations Conference

      • Slug: BC-CNS-Tribal Gathering,710
      • Sidebar: Native youth statistics
      • Video story available on YouTube
      • Photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

      By LAURIE LILES
      Cronkite News

      WASHINGTON – Darius Jackson wants to make a difference for the people of the Gila River Indian Community – and meeting with the vice president of the United States on Wednesday wasn’t a bad place to start.

      “I met Joe Biden, shook his hand,” said Jackson, a member of the Gila River tribe. “I stood toe-to-toe with the vice president of the United States … that was a great experience.”

      The 18-year-old high school senior from Blackwater is one of 36 youth ambassadors chosen to represent their tribes at the 2014 White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington on Wednesday. While the conference is in its sixth year, this was the first in which Native teens were given a voice through the ambassadors program.

      This year’s conference – which Jackson called “the highlight of my life so far” – featured meetings with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and numerous Cabinet officials. Read More »

      Stanton says Phoenix’s innovations help make it a global competitor

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      • Video story available on YouTube.
      • Photo available (thumbnail, caption below)

      By MIRANDA RIVERS
      Cronkite News

      WASHINGTON – Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton told a Washington audience Wednesday that the recession forced the city to reinvent itself, sparking major improvements in higher education, transportation and other areas in its “innovation-based” economy.

      “I am lucky enough to be the mayor at a time where we are reinventing ourselves,” Stanton said. “In Phoenix, Arizona, this is our moment, this is our time.”

      He was one of several mayors from across the nation who gathered Wednesday at the “What Works” summit to discuss successes in their cities that have contributed to urban reinvention.

      The event was sponsored by Politico Magazine and was the culmination of its yearlong project focusing on innovative cities – and which actually featured Mesa in its coverage. Read More »