Players from lesser-known schools get their shot at Suns’ first predraft workout

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By MICHAEL NOWELS
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Tyler Harvey led the NCAA in scoring last season and Kendall Gray was the nation’s second-best rebounder. You probably haven’t heard of either of them.

Harvey, an Eastern Washington guard, and Gray, a Delaware State center, were among six players who participated in a predraft workout hosted by the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on Tuesday. It was the first in a series of workouts hosted by the team in the lead-up to June’s NBA Draft.

For players from lesser-known schools, these workouts with teams represent a significant opportunity to prove themselves against competition stronger than what they faced in their conferences. It’s also a chance to sell teams on their skill sets.

“I think everybody needs a defensive presence — energy and effort,” Gray said. “With my offensive rebounding ability, I can definitely put pressure on other bigs. Force them to box out as much as they can because I’m always attacking the glass.” Continue reading “Players from lesser-known schools get their shot at Suns’ first predraft workout”

Longer term car loans gaining in popularity, especially in Arizona

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By AMY EDELEN
Cronkite News

PHOENIX  – When Tucson resident Valerie Vinyard purchased a new car in 2010, she expected to take out a five-year loan, but the dealership presented her with a longer financing option to reduce her monthly payments.

Vinyard opted for a six-year car loan to reduce her payments to about $200 a month, which shaved off $50 to $100 each payment.

“I didn’t know six-year car loans existed,” said Vinyard, a spokeswoman for AAA Arizona. “It’s a nice cushion. If you are at a super low interest rate, it doesn’t really hurt you. I took advantage of it and appreciated it.”

Continue reading “Longer term car loans gaining in popularity, especially in Arizona”

Cronkite News Digest for Tuesday, May 26

Here is the Cronkite News lineup for Tuesday, May 26. Please contact Steve Crane in the Washington, D.C., bureau at 202-684-2398 or steve.crane@asu.edu with questions on news stories and Brett Kurland 602-496-5134 or bkurland@asu.edu or with questions on sports stories. 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 Tuesday, May 26″

Drowning takes no holiday: Deaths low now, but may rise in summer

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By AUBREY RUMORE
Cronkite NewsAubrey Rumore

WASHINGTON – A cool, wet spring in Arizona and an ongoing emphasis on pool safety have combined to produce statewide drowning numbers that officials say are far below those at the same time last year.

Fourteen deaths had been reported as of this week, 10 of those in the Valley, according to data compiled by the Children’s Safety Zone. A statewide drowning average was not immediately available, but the 14 deaths so far this year are well below the pace required to hit the 15-year average of just under 54 deaths a year in the Valley alone.

That pace could pick up, however, with festivities on Memorial Day weekend marking the unofficial start of the summer season. Despite the state’s year-round warm weather, the majority of drownings in Arizona still take place in summer. Continue reading “Drowning takes no holiday: Deaths low now, but may rise in summer”

Hurley learned value of tough nonconference schedule long ago

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  • Video by Chris Wimmer on YouTube

By CHRIS WIMMER
Cronkite News

TEMPE – Bobby Hurley remembered with a smile the first moment of his first nationally televised game as a freshman at Duke. He got dunked on.

“Off the tip, I was protecting the rim. The ball got tipped to Stevie Thompson. He took one dribble and threw an alley-oop to Billy Owens who dunked it right over me,” Hurley said. “So that was my baptism into nonconference play.”

Duke lost that game to top-ranked Syracuse in the second week of the season in 1990, but the matchup was a great teaching tool and provided the young Hurley with valuable experience against a quality opponent. It also looks great in March.

“Playing in those games, you love it as a player and that’s what I want our guys to taste,” Hurley said. “I believe that it pays dividends when the NCAA tournament committee is in that room examining your resume.”

Continue reading “Hurley learned value of tough nonconference schedule long ago”

Fallen, not forgotten: Groups aim to put memorial back in Memorial Day

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By NICK WICKSMAN
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – When Mike Sullivan rode in the first “Flags for Our Fallen” Memorial Day rally nine years ago in Phoenix, it wasn’t much of a rally.

Sullivan said he and about two dozen other bikers rolled out on that 2006 holiday weekend to plant flags at the graves of veterans in the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona.

But when they head out this weekend, as many as 200 bikers could join the rally, Sullivan said, lining the road to the cemetery with flags in honor of the servicemen and women buried there. Continue reading “Fallen, not forgotten: Groups aim to put memorial back in Memorial Day”

Despite gains, Phoenix falls in ranking of energy-efficient cities

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  • Sidebar: Phoenix’s scores.
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By SOYENIXE LOPEZ
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Phoenix has made improvements in its energy efficiency policies but still fell three spots in a national ranking, as other cities made “impressive jumps” and surged ahead, according to a report released Wednesday.

The second biennial ranking by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy of the largest 51 cities in the nation saw Phoenix slip from 15th to 18th place, despite finishing among the leaders in some areas rated by the council. Continue reading “Despite gains, Phoenix falls in ranking of energy-efficient cities”

Hunters tell House, don’t restrict sportsmen on federal lands

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By JAMIE COCHRAN
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Sportsmen called on a House panel Wednesday to support a sweeping proposal that they said would guarantee hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting rights on federal lands for future generations.

The 13-part Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act covers everything from ivory possession and use of lead shot to a requirement that federal agencies adopt a policy of ‘open until closed’ for hunting on public lands.

“The overarching purpose behind the SHARE Act is quite simply to ensure access to opportunity for hunters, shooters and anglers,” said Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation President Jeff Crane in written testimony prepared for the hearing. Continue reading “Hunters tell House, don’t restrict sportsmen on federal lands”

Phoenix Mercury open training camp as they prepare for season without Taurasi

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By MICHAEL NOWELS
Cronkite News

PHOENIX–Almost every repeat champion will tell you it’s harder the second time around. For the 2015 Phoenix Mercury, the degree of difficulty may be even greater than for most defending titleholders.

The 2014 WNBA champions began training camp this week without their longtime leader, point guard Diana Taurasi, who is sitting out the 2015 WNBA season to rest up for her winter season with UMMC Ekaterinburg of the Russian Premier League. Continue reading “Phoenix Mercury open training camp as they prepare for season without Taurasi”

The journey home: Tribal officials discuss importance of repatriation

By KRISTEN HWANG
Cronkite News

TOPAWA – Joseph Joaquin sat beneath a mesquite tree at the base of Baboquivari Peak and gestured toward the mountain range and desert plants.

“The man we call I’itoi – we call him our creator – he’s the one who created all of this,” said Joaquin, the cultural resource specialist for the Tohono O’odham Nation in Arizona.

Baboquivari Peak is sacred to the Tohono O’odham people because that is where I’itoi lives. I’itoi taught the Tohono O’odham how to survive in the desert where they have resided for countless generations.

But the Tohono O’odham, like many tribes, believe that their creator and the spirits in their world are not at peace because of decades of government-sanctioned and commercial looting of Native American graves. Continue reading “The journey home: Tribal officials discuss importance of repatriation”

For museums, sifting decades of artifacts is painstaking, but vital, work

By KRISTEN HWANG
Cronkite News

TUCSON – Suzanne Eckert leaned over the second-floor railing in the old Arizona State Museum building, now used for storage after the museum outgrew the space years ago.

“This is one of our storage rooms,” said Eckert, the museum’s head of collections. In front of her, stacked 10 high, 12 wide and at least 40 deep were boxes of material from past archaeological digs.

It’s the haystack in which museum researchers must find thousands of very special needles – the human remains and “funerary objects, sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony” it acquired over decades of government-sanctioned and commercial looting of Native American graves. Continue reading “For museums, sifting decades of artifacts is painstaking, but vital, work”

Tribes say law requiring return of remains, relics, hasn’t met promise

By KRISTEN HWANG
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Manley Begay Jr. stood surrounded by boxes “stacked to the ceiling” that were filled with the remains of more than 1,000 Native Americans, when one label caught his eye.

Canyon Del Muerte.

It was where Begay’s family took their livestock to winter on the Navajo Nation. But here, at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University more than two decades ago, it was the label on a box of human remains.

“It’s as though you’re experiencing the death of a loved one right before your eyes again and again and again,” said Begay, now a professor at Northern Arizona University.

Back then, he was a graduate student at Harvard and part of the museum’s repatriation committee, formed in response to a new law – the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Continue reading “Tribes say law requiring return of remains, relics, hasn’t met promise”

Vaccine injury fund tops $3.5 billion, as patients fight for payment

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By JESSICA BOEHM
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – When Phoenix nurse Tarah Gramza realized that her daughter’s autoimmune disorder may have been caused by a vaccine, she looked into suing the vaccine manufacturer.

Then she learned that the government won’t let her.

Instead, Gramza is beginning what could be a years-long legal battle with the U.S. government, trying to get an infinitesimal slice of the $3.5 billion fund set aside to compensate people who have adverse reactions to vaccines.

Gramza, like most Americans, had never heard of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program – the trust fund that’s financed by a 75-cent tax on each dose of vaccines that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends for children. Continue reading “Vaccine injury fund tops $3.5 billion, as patients fight for payment”

Critics say vaccine injury fund has strayed from original purpose

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By JESSICA BOEHM
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Barbara Loe Fisher was at the table 29 years ago when the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act was crafted – and she says it’s no longer living up to the “spirit and intent of Congress.”

The act was a response to vaccine manufacturers’ threats in the 1980s to pull out of the United States, after a number of lawsuits by parents who believed their children were injured by vaccines. Congress, wanting to protect the U.S. vaccine supply, created the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

The Biotechnology Industry Organization said the program “has been enormously successful in helping to protect public health” by allowing manufacturers to stay in the vaccine development business.

The “no-fault” system for resolving vaccine injury claims ensures “a fair and expeditious system to compensate those who may have rare reactions to vaccines,” the organization said in a statement. Continue reading “Critics say vaccine injury fund has strayed from original purpose”

Has the ‘anti-vaxx’ movement made it impossible to talk about vaccines?

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By JESSICA BOEHM
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Renee Gentry is president of the Vaccine Injured Petitioners Bar Association, but she doesn’t tell people what she does for a living if she can avoid it.

“It takes about six questions to get me to say vaccine, because immediately it’s, ‘Oh, you’re not one of those crazy people are you?'” Gentry said.

A measles outbreak late last year rekindled the “anti-vaxx” movement, which began in the late 1990s after the publication of a now-retracted medical paper that purported to show a connection between autism and the measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR, vaccine.

The anti-vaccine voices, boosted in recent years by celebrities like Jenny McCarthy, have made it difficult for those who have seen the real but rare side effects of vaccines. Continue reading “Has the ‘anti-vaxx’ movement made it impossible to talk about vaccines?”

Parent fights unsuccessfully for more than ‘blood money’ in child’s death

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By JESSICA BOEHM
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Erin Holmes got $250,000 she didn’t want, “blood money” her husband didn’t want to spend.

The money came from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program for her son, Jacob, who died in 2002 from a brain condition after receiving his measles-mumps-rubella and varicella vaccines. Holmes filed a claim and was quickly awarded the “worst money” she’d ever received.

“It’s just kind of like, they hand you this check and it’s done,” said Holmes, whose son went through six months of seizures and hospital visits before he died. “I can’t even describe the feeling. They’re like, ‘Oh, well, we’re sorry we killed your kid. Here’s some money.'” Continue reading “Parent fights unsuccessfully for more than ‘blood money’ in child’s death”

Grand Canyon at confluence of popularity, money and conservation

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By KARLA LIRIANO and SOPHIA KUNTHARA
Cronkite News

When Renae Yellowhorse comes to the area of the Grand Canyon where the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers meet, she feels the presence of her late father.

She says she sees him in the desert blooms, feels him in the breeze and senses him when she takes steps toward the edge of the canyon.

But the place Yellowhorse holds sacred, where she says her prayers and connects with her ancestors, could someday be the site of commercial development and an aerial tramway, along with the thousands of tourists that would follow.

This spot on the north edge of the canyon is known as the Confluence. Developers want to build a project called the Escalade to make the area a commercial hub for tourists to learn about Navajo culture and have easy access to the bottom of the canyon and the Confluence.

Continue reading “Grand Canyon at confluence of popularity, money and conservation”

Correction to Cronkite News story on Rocky Point cruise ship port

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  • Note: Clients that used the story slugged Cruise Ship Port, which moved April 28, under a PUERTO PEÑASCO dateline, are asked to use the following story. The story has been corrected on the client-delivery site.

PUERTO PEÑASCO – An April 28 Cronkite News story about a new cruise ship home port in Rocky Point erroneously reported information about Joe Houchin, who has followed the cruise industry for decades. He writes a monthly economic impact blog about the home port for Sonoran Resorts.

Not just the Ivies: Students send AP scores to community colleges

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By SARAH DINELL
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Advanced Placement exams and community colleges. They go together like… well, they never seemed to go together.

But that may not exactly be the case, according to numbers from the College Board, the organization that administers the AP tests that students across the country started taking this week.

The rigorous high school tests are more often associated with high-achieving students who can boost their grade-point averages or earn college credits through the courses and exams. But College Board data show that 4 to 5 percent of students who take the tests in Arizona regularly ask to have their scores sent to community colleges in the state.

Experts said they were not surprised by the numbers, saying the increasing popularity of community college as an affordable alternative to – or a start on – a four-year college degree is probably what’s behind the practice. Continue reading “Not just the Ivies: Students send AP scores to community colleges”

Gains, goals of Americans with Disabilities Act 25 years later

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By JESSICA BOEHM
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The iconic blue-and-white disability parking tags that appear to be proliferating in Arizona were the first and most recognizable effects of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The ADA, 25 years old this July, has been pivotal in the fight to protect and empower people with disabilities. But advocates say there is still work to be done in the next 25 years.

“We have the law on the books – what’s the next step?” asked J.J. Rico, executive director of the Arizona Center for Disability Law. Continue reading “Gains, goals of Americans with Disabilities Act 25 years later”