Arizona environmentalists cheer EPA Clean Power Plan, utilities wary

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By NIHAL KRISHAN
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Arizona environmental groups cheered the final version of the Clean Power Plan unveiled Monday by the Environmental Protection Agency, a first-ever national standard that aims to cut power plant carbon emissions by a third by 2030.

“Today marks the end of an era for dirty power plants that have spewed dangerous pollution into our air without limits for too long,” Sandy Bahr, director of the Grand Canyon chapter of the Sierra Club, said in a prepared statement.

But Arizona utility companies and state environmental officials both were more cautious Monday, saying they need time to study the plan that has been more than a year in the making.

“We really need some more time to study the rule and then we’ll have more opportunity to see how this will impact us in Arizona,” said Patrick Ledger, CEO of Arizona Electric Power Cooperative. Continue reading “Arizona environmentalists cheer EPA Clean Power Plan, utilities wary”

Driving while single can cost more in Phoenix, insurance study shows

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By AUBREY RUMORE
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Single, widowed and divorced drivers in Phoenix are likely to pay higher insurance rates than married drivers with identical driving records, according to a recent report from the Consumer Federation of America.

Phoenix was one of 10 large cities across the U.S. where the federation sought quotes for a 30-year-old woman with a perfect driving record – but different family particulars. In all 10 cities, most rates were higher for that hypothetical customer if she was single, divorced, widowed or single with a child, the study showed.

Critics say that’s the wrong thing for insurers to focus on.

Buying auto insurance “shouldn’t remind people to go get married,” said J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America. “Insurance pricing should remind people to be safe.” Continue reading “Driving while single can cost more in Phoenix, insurance study shows”

CORRECTION to July 28 story on Cochise Regional Hospital

EDS: Clients who used a story slugged BC-CNS-Cochise Closing that moved Tuesday, July 28, under WASHINGTON dateline, are asked to use the following correction. An updated version of the story has been posted here.

WASHINGTON – A July 28 Cronkite News story about the possible closure of Cochise Regional Hospital misspelled the name of a lawyer involved in the issue. The attorney representing the hospital is Harley Goldstein.

Arizona State players think ‘championship’ with new uniforms

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By CUYLER MEADE
Cronkite News

BURBANK, Calif. – What’s in a uniform? Maybe, as Mike Bercovici hinted, a championship.

“It just feels fast,” the Arizona State University fifth-year quarterback said about the new-look Adidas uniforms introduced last week. “They feel like something you can win a championship in.”

After six years with Nike, the school changed its apparel contract to join with Adidas in a deal worth a reported $33.8 million.

Continue reading “Arizona State players think ‘championship’ with new uniforms”

Cronkite News Digest for Monday, Aug. 3

Here is the Cronkite News lineup for Monday, Aug. 3. 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 Monday, Aug. 3″

Judge rejects last-ditch attempt by Cochise hospital to keep doors open

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By SOYENIXE LOPEZ
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Cochise Regional Hospital’s last-ditch attempt to keep its doors open has been rejected by a federal judge, who refused to order Medicare to keep funding operations of the Douglas facility.

The hospital had said that it would have to close its doors after July 31 without those funds, and it went to court in an attempt to order the government to keep money flowing while it appealed its case.

But U.S. District Judge Cindy K. Jorgenson said in a ruling filed Thursday that the hospital had several opportunities to fix problems cited by Medicare or to challenge its decision to cut off funding, but did not do so. Continue reading “Judge rejects last-ditch attempt by Cochise hospital to keep doors open”

Teen ‘senators’ at Capitol to learn, might have some things to teach, too

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By NIHAL KRISHAN
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Over the course of three days this week, Arizona teens Kennedy Prock and Lora Delahunt helped draft a platform for their party and debate bills they had written themselves for the Girls Nation Senate that was meeting here.

Compromise was essential to that process of legislating, leading Prock to offer a message to the grown-up lawmakers in this city of partisanship and divisive politics.

“Compromise is not a bad word,” said Prock, 17, a senior this fall at Mountain View High School in Mesa.

She and Delahunt, also 17, and a senior at Apollo High School in Glendale, were among 100 “senators” in Washington for a whirlwind week of activities for the Girls Nation, a mock legislature sponsored for 69 years now by the American Legion Auxiliary. Continue reading “Teen ‘senators’ at Capitol to learn, might have some things to teach, too”

VA whistleblower cites some progress, some work still to be done

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By JAMIE COCHRAN
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – A doctor who blew the whistle on problems at the Veteran Affairs hospital in Phoenix testified Thursday that some things have improved since last year’s revelations, but there is still work to be done.

But Dr. Katherine Mitchell told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that some things haven’t changed.

“Obviously, the culture of whistleblower retaliation is still alive and well,” she said.

Mitchell was part of a panel of VA whistleblowers who called on the Senate to strengthen rules against reprisal and confidentiality protections for people like them. Continue reading “VA whistleblower cites some progress, some work still to be done”

Despite three championships, Mercury still fight for attention

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By RYAN HOWES
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – The last eight years have been remarkable for the Phoenix Mercury.

During that time, the team has won three championships and made six playoff appearances. Diana Taurasi won an MVP award in 2009 and Brittney Griner is the reigning WNBA Defensive Player of the Year.

However, the defending WNBA champions, along with the rest of the WNBA, struggle when it comes to grabbing the attention of sports fans across the nation.

The Mercury led the WNBA in attendance last year, averaging 9,557 fans per game. That paled in comparison to a Phoenix Suns team that plays its games in the same arena but has only made three playoff appearances in that same eight-year span. The Suns averaged 16,923 fans per game last season, near the bottom of attendance in the NBA but almost double that of the Mercury.

Attracting fans to games in the arena is just one challenge faced by the women’s professional basketball league in the midst of its 19th season. The WNBA does not get the same viewership and coverage as many other professional sports.

“I often watch TV and, man, tennis players, soccer players, they have so much fan support,” Mercury forward and WNBA All-Star Candice Dupree said. “What’s going on with women’s basketball that people aren’t taking an interest and watching it?” Continue reading “Despite three championships, Mercury still fight for attention”

Report: About 40 percent of workers in state, U.S. have no paid sick leave

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By SOYENIXE LOPEZ
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Close to half of Arizona’s private-sector workers, more than 934,000 people, do not have access to paid sick leave, according to a report Wednesday by a group pushing for such laws.

But the National Partnership for Women and Families said Arizona is not alone: More than 43 million people, accounting for about 39 percent of private-sector workers in the country, currently don’t have the ability to earn paid sick leave, it said.

While the partnership plans to push for such laws – and said it has targeted Arizona for action – business representatives say that decisions on such benefits should be between employer and employee, and not imposed by the government. Continue reading “Report: About 40 percent of workers in state, U.S. have no paid sick leave”

Cardinals’ Welter’s message to young girls: ‘They can do anything’

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By MICHAEL NOWELS
Cronkite News

TEMPE – Jen Welter has loved football ever since she can remember. When the Arizona Cardinals introduced her Tuesday afternoon at their Tempe headquarters, the team’s newest addition to the coaching staff recalled grabbing the pigskin and barreling into her cousins as a young girl.

While she will be coaching 250-pound men this summer as an intern working with the Cardinals’ linebackers, Welter is quite aware of the effect her new position – and the attention it is already receiving – can have on the young girls of today.

“We show little girls all the time to be beautiful and to do it all the wrong ways,” she said at Tuesday’s introductory news conference. “We show them as accessories, for no other better way to put it. We teach them very early on to be pretty, marry well and then act badly and you’ll get on TV. And then that’s what they grow up thinking that fame is or success is.

“I want little girls to grow up knowing that when they put their mind to something, when they work hard, that they can do anything regardless of those things,” Welter said. Continue reading “Cardinals’ Welter’s message to young girls: ‘They can do anything’”

CORRECTION to July 27 story on college graduation rates

EDS: Clients who used a story slugged BC-CNS-Failing Colleges that moved Monday, July 27, under a WASHINGTON dateline, are asked to use the following correction. An updated version of the story has been posted here.

WASHINGTON – A July 27 Cronkite News story about college graduation and student loan default rates may have left the incorrect impression that graduation rate projections made by Grand Canyon University were for the current year. According to data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, Grand Canyon had a graduation rate in 2013 of 30 percent and a first-year student retention rate of 59 percent that year.

 

Cochise Regional Hospital set to close, after Medicare cut off funding

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EDS: A previous version of this story misspelled the name of a lawyer involved in the issue. The attorney representing the hospital is Harley Goldstein. The story below has been revised to reflect the correct information. Clients who used this story are asked to run the correction that can be found here.

By NICK WICKSMAN
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Medicare restrictions are crippling rural healthcare centers like Cochise Regional Hospital, which is set to close Friday after a funding dispute with the federal agency, an Arizona health expert testified Tuesday.

Dr. Daniel Derksen, the director of the University of Arizona’s Center for Rural Health, was one of several health care experts testifying before a House subcommittee on “rural health disparities created by Medicare.”

They told a House Ways and Means subcommittee that rural facilities operate on such thin margins that any change in policy or delay in payment can “push them over the brink.”

Derksen testified that more than 250 rural hospitals are at risk of closure, and if Cochise Regional closes this week it would be the 55th hospital to do so since 2010. Continue reading “Cochise Regional Hospital set to close, after Medicare cut off funding”

Local youth soccer club hoping heart rate monitors improve performance, efficiency

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By KRISTEN CARVER
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – While coaching the women’s soccer team at St. Mary’s College of California, head coach Kai Edwards noticed something about his star player, Caroline Kruez. She was always out ahead of everybody. She would touch the sideline first in sprints, get to the ball before any opponent in a game and she never asked for a substitution.

Edwards had Kruez strap on a heart rate monitor for the first time and instantly he realized that even though she was outworking everyone else, she was only working at 75 percent of her maximum heart rate. Thanks to the data coming from the device, Kruez learned how to push herself even harder and get better results in her training. Continue reading “Local youth soccer club hoping heart rate monitors improve performance, efficiency”

Mercury set to face Sky superstar Delle Donne for first time since WNBA Finals

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By CUYLER MEADE
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Elena Delle Donne might just be the best player in the WNBA.

In 2013, the Chicago Sky guard beat out Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner, that season’s first overall draft pick, for WNBA Rookie of the Year, and she’s only gotten better since then.

The Sky are rising behind the stellar play of Delle Donne, who has taken a huge leap in her play this season following an already impressive first two years in the WNBA. Delle Donne is having a historically great 2015 campaign, leading the WNBA in points per game (24.5) and ranking in the top three in rebounds (9.8) and blocks (2.5). She’s also been pretty close to perfect from the free-throw line, with a free throw percentage (95.2%) that’s second among starters while attempting the most free throws per game (7.4) of anyone in the league. Continue reading “Mercury set to face Sky superstar Delle Donne for first time since WNBA Finals”

Arizona posts lowest college completion rate, highest default rate

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EDS: A previous version of this story may have left the incorrect impression that graduation rate projections made by Grand Canyon University were for the current year. According to data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, Grand Canyon had a graduation rate in 2013 of 30 percent and a first-year student retention rate of 59 percent that year. The story below has been revised to reflect the correct information. Clients who used this story are asked to run the correction that can be found here.

By AUBREY RUMORE
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Arizona tied Alaska for the lowest college completion rate in the country in 2013, with just 29 percent of students able to earn a four-year degree in six years or less, a new report says.

The report released Monday by the U.S. Department of Education also said Arizona posted the highest student loan default rate in the country, at 18 percent, compared to a national average of 11 percent.

State education officials cautioned Monday that the statistics could be skewed by large numbers of students in other states who are getting degrees online from for-profit schools based in Arizona. Continue reading “Arizona posts lowest college completion rate, highest default rate”

Randy Johnson reflects on parents’ support in HOF induction speech

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By TYLER FREADER
Cronkite News

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Long before Randy Johnson was dominating hitters at the major league level, the lefthander was tossing tennis balls at his family’s wooden garage door in Livermore, California.

Johnson’s enthusiasm for pitching would eventually shake the nails in the garage door loose.

“My dad would come out after about a half an hour with a hammer, put the hammer down and say, ‘When you’re done playing catch against the wall, make sure you pound all those nails in,’” Johnson said in his Baseball Hall of Fame induction speech Sunday.

During the 18-minute speech, Johnson opened up about his personal life, telling stories of how his parents supported him in his younger years.

“He also took the time, as a police officer, when his shift was over to come in his police uniform and watch me pitch in high school,” Johnson said of his father, who passed away in 1992, after Johnson’s third season with the Seattle Mariners. “I’ve never forgot those moments.” Continue reading “Randy Johnson reflects on parents’ support in HOF induction speech”

Diamondbacks fans soak in Cooperstown’s baseball atmosphere

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By TYLER FREADER
Cronkite News

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – A smattering of Diamondbacks faithful have made the trek this weekend to this small town located at the edge of Otsego Lake, about 200 miles north of New York City, joining baseball fans from across the country in the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

As Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio join baseball’s all-time greats in the Hall on Sunday, fans are packing Cooperstown’s stores and loading its streets, creating an atmosphere strikingly similar to a baseball stadium, just without the game.

One-time Flagstaff resident Brendan Devine, a lifelong Diamondbacks fan who is in town for Johnson’s enshrinement, said Cooperstown did more than just look the part.

“It smells like a ballpark walking down the street here, which is incredible,” Devine said. “It’s amazing to see this many baseball fans all together.” Continue reading “Diamondbacks fans soak in Cooperstown’s baseball atmosphere”

Businesses hope I-10 closure is road-funding ‘wakeup call’ to Congress

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By NICK WICKSMAN
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Arizona Trucking Association President Tony Bradley says one good thing may have come out of the closure of a section of Interstate 10 this week – it could point up the need to fix the nation’s infrastructure.

Sunday’s collapse of the eastbound span of the Tex Wash Bridge on I-10 comes as Congress debates the transportation trust fund, the $40 billion fund that builds and maintains the nation’s roads, rails, ports and other transportation projects.

Legislation authorizing the current fund is set to expire in a week – the day before lawmakers are scheduled to leave town for their August recess. Continue reading “Businesses hope I-10 closure is road-funding ‘wakeup call’ to Congress”

Glendale City Council approves new two-year Coyotes agreement

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By MICHAEL NOWELS
Cronkite News

GLENDALE – Mayor Jerry Weiers said he believes Friday’s vote to accept a new lease agreement with the Arizona Coyotes is a sign of a brighter future for the city of Glendale.

“Our city’s had a long history of making some really bad decisions and I think this council has proven that we’re not going to do that any longer,” Weiers said Friday.

The comments came after an emergency meeting in which the council voted unanimously to accept a restructured lease agreement with the Coyotes for city-owned Gila River Arena.

The council had voted June 10 to void the original lease.

The new lease expires in 2017 – the old deal ran through 2028 – and decreases the city’s yearly obligation to the team from $15 million to $6.5 million. Continue reading “Glendale City Council approves new two-year Coyotes agreement”