Supreme Court hears Arizona voting law case with national implications

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Ballot Dispute,970
  • 3 photos, video story available (thumbnails, captions below)

By Sarah Oven
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich told the Supreme Court Tuesday that voting laws struck down for reflecting the state’s “long and unhappy history of official discrimination” are really no more than “common-sense and commonplace” voting protections.

But critics argue that Arizona laws banning ballot-collection and out-of-precinct voting impose substantial burdens on Black, Latino and Native American voters who have been intentionally targeted for suppression by state lawmakers.

At stake is more than just the two Arizona laws – the high court’s ruling in the case will affect enforcement of a section of the Voting Rights Act that prohibits race-based restrictions on voting. Continue reading “Supreme Court hears Arizona voting law case with national implications”

Art installation honors thousands of Arizonans who’ve died of COVID-19

  • Slug: BC-CNS COVID Memorial, 975 words.
  • 3 photos and captions below.

By Emma Richburg
Cronkite News

TEMPE – More than 16,000 Arizonans have died from COVID-19 over the past year, and many survivors haven’t had the chance to properly grieve their loved ones.

On Monday, two organizations – Marked by COVID and the Floral Heart Project – came together to help Arizonans remember and pay their respects at a public memorial at the Arizona Heritage Center in Papago Park.

The Arizona nonprofit Marked by COVID partnered with New York artist Kristina Libby, 36, to commemorate those thousands of lost lives with a visual art display called Heart Bleed, which will continue at the center through Saturday.

Heart Bleed features a 10-minute video that shows one rose petal dropping for each person who has died from COVID-19 in the state. Every two seconds in the video represents one day since the pandemic started last March. As the number of petals increases, they begin to resemble blood, which symbolizes the catastrophic number of COVID-19 deaths in Arizona. Continue reading “Art installation honors thousands of Arizonans who’ve died of COVID-19”

Masks can come off for high school winter playoffs, spring sports, AIA board votes

  • Slug: Sports-AIA Spring Sports, 1,427 words.
  • Photos available.

By Kaylee Connors
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – High school athletes will not be required to wear masks during spring sports competition and neither will winter sports athletes during playoffs, the Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Board voted Tuesday.

The decision comes after the Sports Medicine Advisory committee recommended removing the mask mandate for outdoor spring sports.

The only exception is for boys volleyball. It was recommended they should continue wearing masks for play.

Continue reading “Masks can come off for high school winter playoffs, spring sports, AIA board votes”

North Dakota stars Schmaltz, Caggiula embrace ‘exciting’ reunion with Coyotes

  • Slug: Sports-Coyotes Schmaltz Caggiula Chemistry, 1,427 words.
  • Photos available.

By Michael Gutnick
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Drake Caggiula was in limbo.

The 26-year-old forward entered unrestricted free agency with the hope of continuing his NHL career amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. While supporting his 6-week old son, Caggiula waited two months for a call.

Silence.

“You’re just kind of wondering ‘What’s the next plan for me?'” Caggiula said. Continue reading “North Dakota stars Schmaltz, Caggiula embrace ‘exciting’ reunion with Coyotes”

The key to the Suns’ defensive success: a ‘versatile’ Deandre Ayton

  • Slug: Sports-Versatile Ayton, 1600 words.
  • Photos available.

By Trevor Booth
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – When Phoenix Suns forward Frank Kaminsky walked into a postgame interview following his team’s recent 106-97 win over the Chicago Bulls, there was something different about his appearance.

The 7-footer, who claimed he is “not really into jewelry,” was wearing teammate Deandre Ayton’s custom-made chain around his neck, something he requested for reasons he did not specify.

“I just asked if I could put it on and he said, ‘Yes,’” Kaminsky said. “I feel a little responsible now with this thing on. I’ve never had this kind of jewelry on before … so I’m just trying to keep it clean until I give it back to him.”

Like his dazzling accessories, Ayton carries a lot of value for the resurgent Suns. Continue reading “The key to the Suns’ defensive success: a ‘versatile’ Deandre Ayton”

Inhaled smoke could raise risks of COVID-19 for firefighters, expert warns

  • Slug: BC-CNS Firefighters and COVID, 980 words.
  • 1 photo and caption below.

By Sabrina Kenoun
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – More than 10.3 million acres of land were scorched by wildfires nationwide in 2020. Firefighters battling the harrowing flames often work shifts that exceed 24 hours, and they stay in close quarters in remote locations for weeks at a time, offering a prime opportunity for COVID-19 to spread.

In addition, firefighters in urban areas as well as in wildlands routinely are exposed to smoke, carbon monoxide, toxins from structure fires and other hazards to lung health.

Although there isn’t much data to indicate whether smoke inhalation affects the infection rate or severity of COVID-19 in firefighters, some experts are voicing concerns about lessened lung capacity upon recovery and other health issues. Continue reading “Inhaled smoke could raise risks of COVID-19 for firefighters, expert warns”

Cronkite News Digest for Tuesday, March 2

Here is your Cronkite News lineup for Tuesday, March 2. If you have questions on news stories from the Phoenix bureau, please contact Executive Editor Christina Leonard at 602-361-5893 or christina.leonard@asu.edu, while questions about stories from our Washington bureau should go to Steve Crane at 202-684-2398 or steve.crane@asu.edu. Sports story questions can be directed to Paola Boivin at paola.boivin@asu.edu. Clients who want to use Cronkite videos can find clean versions, and scripts, for download in a Dropbox – if interested, contact Executive Editor Christina Leonard at christina.leonard@asu.edu for access. Stories promised for today, along with photos and links to multimedia elements, will post to our client site at cronkitenews.jmc.asu.edu/clients. Continue reading “Cronkite News Digest for Tuesday, March 2”

Feds rescind OK for copper mine at Oak Flat, seek ‘thorough review’

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Mine Reversal,840
  • 2 photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By Sarah Oven
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The government Monday rescinded its approval for a proposed massive copper mine at Oak Flat, just days before it was to transfer thousands of acres of federal land for the project.

The Department of Agriculture said it ordered the rescission to allow for a “thorough review based on significant input from collaborators, partners and the public” after the Jan. 15 release of a final environmental impact statement on the project. Continue reading “Feds rescind OK for copper mine at Oak Flat, seek ‘thorough review’”

‘Superspreader events’: Experts worry hockey arenas a toxic formula for COVID -19

  • Slug: Sports-Coyotes Fans Safety, 1,904words.
  • Photos available.

By Koki Riley
Cronkite News

GLENDALE – A buzz filled the air about 30 minutes before puck drop, with the Westgate Entertainment District surprisingly busy.

Maskless customers congregated around restaurant tables, laughing and chatting away. Fans lingering outside the arena – roughly half of them protecting their faces, others not – huddled around their friends and family in anticipation of the game.

It was Feb.13 and the Arizona Coyotes were about to take on the St. Louis Blues at Gila River Arena during the middle of a pandemic. Continue reading “‘Superspreader events’: Experts worry hockey arenas a toxic formula for COVID -19”

Wait, Watt? Cardinals surprise league by securing popular defensive end

  • Slug: Sports-J.J. Watt Cardinals, 631 words.
  • Photos available.

By Jordan Spurgeon
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – March Madness is reserved for college basketball. Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim is trying to make March Gladness the official brand of Arizona Cardinals fans.

Or March Sadness for Houston Texans faithful.

In 2020, Keim’s one shining moment was acquiring wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the Texans in a trade that not only delivered one of the NFL’s most dangerous offensive weapons but rid the Cardinals of running back David Johnson and his hefty contract. Continue reading “Wait, Watt? Cardinals surprise league by securing popular defensive end”

GAO: Pentagon estimates of border duty costs, impact were unreliable

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Pentagon Border,960
  • 2 photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By Ryan Knappenberger
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon did not have reliable estimates for the cost of its work supporting Homeland Security efforts on the southwestern border and did not assess the impact of those efforts on military readiness, a new report says.

The report by the Government Accountability Office also chided the Defense Department for failing to fully report its border costs to Congress in 2019, and said the Pentagon and Homeland Security need to come to an agreement on the level of long-term support. Continue reading “GAO: Pentagon estimates of border duty costs, impact were unreliable”

With spring sports season underway, Arizona high schools await decision on COVID-19 protocol

  • Slug: Sports-AIA Spring Sports, 679 words.
  • Photos available.

By Jenna Mizel
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Winter high school sports, which are beginning to wrap up around Arizona, took on a much different look than in past years on and off the courts and playing fields.

Athletes had to jump through more hoops than they shot at. But at least the games have gone on.

Now with spring sports beginning today and the winter season ending Friday, the Arizona Interscholastic Association has scheduled a special meeting of its executive board at 9 a.m. Tuesday to discuss modifications. It will be streamed on AZPreps365 YouTube channel. Continue reading “With spring sports season underway, Arizona high schools await decision on COVID-19 protocol”

House OKs bill to ban mining on 1 million acres around Grand Canyon

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Canyon Ban,860
  • 2 photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By Haleigh Kochanski
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The House voted Friday to permanently ban new mining claims on more than 1 million acres around Grand Canyon National Park, with supporters calling protection of the landmark canyon a “moral issue.”

The bill would make permanent a current mining moratorium that is scheduled to run through 2032. Supporters said a permanent ban is needed because the Grand Canyon is too valuable to risk possible damage from future mining. Continue reading “House OKs bill to ban mining on 1 million acres around Grand Canyon”

Arizona Department of Corrections fined $1.1 million for neglecting health care benchmarks

  • BC-CNS Corrections Held in Contempt, 615 words.
  • 1 photo and caption below.

By Sabrina Kenoun
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – For the second time since 2019, the Arizona Department of Corrections has been found in contempt for its failure to follow health care guidelines designed to protect prisoners.

In a ruling issued Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Roslyn Silver fined the Arizona Department of Corrections Rehabilitation & Reentry $1.1 million for neglecting health care guidelines the department agreed to follow in 2015. The fine is to be paid this month. Continue reading “Arizona Department of Corrections fined $1.1 million for neglecting health care benchmarks”

Nearly year removed from abrupt end to 2020 basketball tournament, Pac-12 readies for ‘21 version

  • Slug: Sports-Pac-12 Tournament, 675 words.
  • Photos available.

By Tim Ianello
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – When the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament was canceled after the first round last season due to the coronavirus pandemic, the conference had one word to describe the preparation for this year’s event in Las Vegas to happen.

Nimble.

“There’s many crises that can happen and we have to be nimble enough and ready for whatever that is,” Pac-12 Chief Marketing Officer Danette Leighton said. Continue reading “Nearly year removed from abrupt end to 2020 basketball tournament, Pac-12 readies for ‘21 version”

‘No comparison’: ASU baseball fans frustrated with Pac-12 prohibition on fan attendance

  • Slug: Sports-ASU Fans Frustrated, 1,157 words.
  • Photos available.

By Gareth Kwok
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Dave Rasley had attended every single Arizona State baseball home opener since 1984 – until this year.

Rasley, an ASU alum of 1978 and former Tempe High School teacher, saw his annual tradition of attending Opening Day of Sun Devil baseball come to an end on Feb. 19 after 37 years.

“It was horrible,” said Rasley, who has been a season ticket holder since 1985. “It was so hard to just sit here and watch on the computer screen. … I never miss any games and this was just so hard to know that 10 miles away, the games were being played and I could not go.” Continue reading “‘No comparison’: ASU baseball fans frustrated with Pac-12 prohibition on fan attendance”

Despite Coyotes’ offensively challenged defensemen, Jakob Chychrun remains offensive force

  • Slug: Sports-Coyotes Jakob Chychrun, 695 words.
  • Photos available.

By Koki Riley
Cronkite News

GLENDALE – The Coyotes needed a kick in the backside.

Arizona trailed 3-0 to the last place Anaheim Ducks early in the second period. Outhustled and outplayed, especially in the opening 20 minutes, the Coyotes had hit a new low.

“In the first period we were god awful,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said about the Monday game. “It was terrible hockey, probably the worst period (we had played) in a long time.” Continue reading “Despite Coyotes’ offensively challenged defensemen, Jakob Chychrun remains offensive force”

28 paintings highlight famous – and less familiar – figures in Black history

  • Slug: BC-CNS Black History Murals, 790 words
  • 7 photos and captions below.
  • Map of project here, Data visualization by Luis Torres/Cronkite News

By Victoria Hill
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Leaders who fought for equity and justice. Entertainers who shifted the sound of music. Inventors who brought water toys and traffic lights to America.

Arizona artists have painted the sweep of Black history at 28 businesses and organizations in downtown and central Phoenix. Malcolm X, Aretha Franklin, Angela Davis and Percy Julian are showcased among many African Americans – some iconic, others less celebrated but all with an impact on American life.

The art tribute represents each day of February’s Black History Month, but the project’s organizer, Gizette Knight, looks to the longevity of inclusion. Continue reading “28 paintings highlight famous – and less familiar – figures in Black history”

House passes LGBTQ rights bill; critics say it tramples religious rights

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Gender Rights,870
  • 2 photos, video story available (thumbnails, captions below)

By Jake Holter
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The House voted Thursday to expand civil rights protections to include sexual orientation, gender identity and pregnancy, a move supporters said will grant those groups “the full equality under the law they deserve.”

But critics of the Equality Act blasted it as a measure that will trample on religious freedom and individual rights, and ultimately backfire on the people it aims to protect.

The 224-206 vote fell mostly on party lines, with just three Republicans joining all Democrats to support the bill. Many Republicans were like Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, who derided the bill as the “inequality act.” Continue reading “House passes LGBTQ rights bill; critics say it tramples religious rights”

Arizona State gymnastics team vaults into spotlight with convincing victory over Arizona

  • Slug: Sports-ASU Gymnastics Gallery, 267 words.
  • Photos available.

By Marlee Smith
Cronkite News

TEMPE – The Arizona State gymnastics team continues to enhance its resume for the postseason.

The No. 17 Sun Devils scored a season-high 197.450 against Arizona in a midday Territorial Cup matchup at Desert Financial Arena. Wednesday’s score topped the previous season-high of 197.150 against No. 3 Utah and tied the ninth-highest score in program history from 2003.

“We all know it means a little bit more,” ASU coach Jay Santos said. “We can all try to claim this is just another meet. It’s not just another meet, right? It’s a rivalry. You never want to come up short on the rivalry. I think we had a great day, our team really looked good. They performed well all day long.” Continue reading “Arizona State gymnastics team vaults into spotlight with convincing victory over Arizona”