‘Tighten the screws’: As Suns near first playoffs since 2010, keys to success emerge

  • Slug: Sports-Suns Playoff Keys, 2,360 words
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By Trevor Booth
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Suns coach Monty Williams has used several phrases that stuck with his players throughout their 2020-21 season. Asked about one that stood out, veteran forward Jae Crowder recalled a tangible example that epitomizes his team’s mentality as it approaches its first playoff appearance since 2009-10.

“One day, he gave everyone screws, like wrenches, a screwdriver, he passed them all around,” Crowder said. “We was like, ‘What is this?’ We’re all holding screwdrivers.

“He’s like, ‘We got to continue to tighten the screws.’” Continue reading “‘Tighten the screws’: As Suns near first playoffs since 2010, keys to success emerge”

Filipinos make up 30% of COVID-19 deaths among nurses in U.S., study says

  • Slug: CNS-Filipino Nurses, 640 words.
  • 1 photo, video story available.

By Mitchell Zimmermann
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Filipino nurses make up just 4% of the national nursing workforce, but according to National Nurses United, 30.1% of registered nurses who’ve died of COVID-19 in the U.S. were Filipino.

Nurses of color make up about 61% of all RNs who have died of COVID-19, said National Nurses United, which represents 170,000 nurses. Continue reading “Filipinos make up 30% of COVID-19 deaths among nurses in U.S., study says”

Safer shopping: Scottsdale mother invents recyclable shopping cart liner

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Cart Safe,950
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By Lilia Stene
Cronkite News

For Andi Barness-Rubin, the COVID-19 pandemic led to invention. The Scottsdale woman created a recyclable shopping cart liner to protect people from the germs and grime that cling to carts.

Barness-Rubin, who started Cart Safe in April 2020, points to an often-quoted study from University of Arizona microbiologist Charles Gerba – also known as Dr. Germ – that found E. coli and other bacteria on a random check of shopping carts. Continue reading “Safer shopping: Scottsdale mother invents recyclable shopping cart liner”

Phoenix police keep tabs on social media, but who keeps tabs on cops?

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Police Social,2510.
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By Nicole Sadek, Laura Kraegel, Jimmy Cloutier and Michael McDaniel
Special for Cronkite News

Phoenix police don’t follow Fe’La iniko on social media, but he knows they’re watching.

“They’re pretty hip to Instagram,” the racial justice activist said. “Sometimes they’ll pop up in my story views.”

Iniko, whose given name is Milton Hasley, often uses social media to share fliers on upcoming protests or speak out against police violence. So when officers surrounded his car last summer while he was leaving a demonstration against the killings of George Floyd and Dion Johnson, iniko worried he might have been targeted in advance for his views. As a handful of cop cars trained their spotlights on him, he was careful to keep his hands visible as he placed them on the steering wheel, a video he posted on Instagram shows. Continue reading “Phoenix police keep tabs on social media, but who keeps tabs on cops?”

No 9-irons needed: Disc golf participation soars during coronavirus pandemic

  • Slug: Sports-Disc Golf,2100
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By David Payne
Special for Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Carla Walker was tired of sitting inside during the coronavirus pandemic. She missed going to the gym, shopping and spending time with friends and family. Her retail job in Central Phoenix had laid her off and she had time on her hands. She wasn’t sure how to fill it.

One day while returning from buying groceries, she took a different route to avoid traffic and drove past something she had never seen before: a disc golf course. Continue reading “No 9-irons needed: Disc golf participation soars during coronavirus pandemic”

Git-r-done delegation: State ranked OK on congressional effectiveness

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Making Law,790
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By Ryan Knappenberger
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON — They didn’t have the high profiles or long tenure of some other members of Congress, but Arizona lawmakers in the last Congress ranked relatively high on a recent scorecard of congressional effectiveness.

The Center for Effective Lawmaking study, by researchers at the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University, ranked members on the amount of substantive legislation they introduced and how far it moved toward passage in the 116th Congress.

A compilation of those scores showed Arizona had the 10th-most effective House delegation and 14th-most effective senators. The report’s authors said an unusual number of freshmen and minority party members scored well, showing that “even in these politically challenging times, bipartisanship is still working and … viable.” Continue reading “Git-r-done delegation: State ranked OK on congressional effectiveness”

‘It was an open country’: Gadsden resident reflects on life along the border

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Border Life, 950
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By Samantha Byrd
Cronkite News

YUMA – Louie Gradias sits in front of his bright yellow house every day to watch the sun set over a tall border wall bristling with razor wire. He remembers vividly the times when he and his friends used to play in the Colorado River, when there was no wall between Arizona and Mexico and border crossers meant visiting family.

“We were controlled by the flow of the river, we played there, we enjoyed it,” Gradias recalled. “We would go to the river, swimming, water-skiing, fishing, hunting, whatever we wanted to do. It was an open country.” Continue reading “‘It was an open country’: Gadsden resident reflects on life along the border”

After Tocchet’s departure, Armstrong, Coyotes look ahead to busy summer

  • Slug: Sports-Coyotes Fire Tocchet,1390
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By Michael Gutnick
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – When the puck drops in October, a new era will dawn for the Arizona Coyotes.

Less than 24 hours after the conclusion of the 2020-21 regular season, Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong made his first move of the off-season, a move that initiated a major shift in the landscape of the franchise.

Armstrong announced Sunday that the team and Rick Tocchet have mutually agreed to part ways, ending his four-year tenure as head coach with Arizona where he established a record of 125-131-34 in 290 games. Continue reading “After Tocchet’s departure, Armstrong, Coyotes look ahead to busy summer”

Another Hill to climb: Obscure law denies Dreamers congressional jobs

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Hill Hurdle,1030
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By Molly Hudson
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Gilbert resident Jose Patiño remembers the moment he knew he wanted to work in Congress: It was 2018 and he had just spent months in Washington lobbying to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“That’s where I saw how impactful it was to have people there,” Patiño said. “While I was not directly being employed, but just having those conversations, building those relationships.”

But he also knew that it was a dream that, for him, is “just not possible.” Continue reading “Another Hill to climb: Obscure law denies Dreamers congressional jobs”

Deadly street racing in Arizona outruns efforts to combat it

  • Slug: BC-CNS Street Racing, 1,830 words.
  • 8 photos and captions below.

By Zoha Tunio, Aydalí Campa, Sarah Suwalsky, Kenneth Quayle
Special for Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Ramon Angel Carrasco and his girlfriend were driving home from a Scottsdale bakery in a white BMW in August 2019 when Robert J. Foster pulled up next to them in a light blue Lamborghini.

According to a witness account provided to police, Carrasco and Foster revved their engines at a red light on Hayden Road before heading north, and within seconds they were traveling more than 100 mph.

Meanwhile, Cynthia Ann Fisher was driving south on the same stretch of Hayden. The 68-year-old hairdresser had just left the grocery store and was planning to make breakfast the next morning for a new roommate, said Leah Stenzel, her friend and boss. Continue reading “Deadly street racing in Arizona outruns efforts to combat it”

Diamond in the rough: Japanese Americans imprisoned at Arizona camps during WWII found solace in baseball

  • Slug: Sports-Baseball Internment Camps,1530
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By Jordan Spurgeon
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Thirty miles southeast of Phoenix, on sacred land belonging to the Gila River Indian Community, lie the remnants of an internment camp that once housed more than 13,000 people, mostly Japanese Americans, during World War II.

Concrete foundations and cisterns remain, but gone are the fences, barracks and gun tower that revealed the purpose of the place was incarceration rather than internment, at a time when Japanese Americans were suspected of being spies and saboteurs.

“These internment camps were less like camps and more like prisons,” said Koji Lau-Ozawa, an archeology doctoral student at Stanford University whose grandparents were incarcerated there. “There’s a complicated history, but it’s important to note that.”

Gone, too, are the bases, bleachers and foul lines made of flour that represented a form of escapism for those inside the wire: baseball. Continue reading “Diamond in the rough: Japanese Americans imprisoned at Arizona camps during WWII found solace in baseball”

Native-owned SkyDance Brewing moving to its own location

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Native Brew,680
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By Jazz M. Wolfe
Gaylord News

Oklahoma’s first Native American-owned brewing company, inspired by the recipes of the owner’s father, will open an independent location this summer.

Jacob Keyes, a member of the Iowa Nation, opened SkyDance Brewing Co. in 2018 in honor of his father. Since then, the brewery has been operating out of a co-op – a single location where multiple companies use the same equipment – in Oklahoma City. The new taproom and brewery are under construction in the historic Automobile Alley north of downtown. Continue reading “Native-owned SkyDance Brewing moving to its own location”

Faith, fitness, furtherance: Arizonans find resources for positive change amid COVID-19 pandemic

  • Slug: Sports-Health Pandemic Resources,2620
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By Trevor Booth
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Gigi Soltero felt the world crashing down on her, and there was nothing she could do about it.

When former President Donald Trump declared COVID-19 a national emergency on March 13, 2020, Soltero was soon thrust toward the frontlines as a licensed practical nurse. She already was battling her own issues with heavy drinking and a recovery from an abusive relationship, adding to her stress.

Looking for direction in a time of confusion, Soltero began searching for a personal trainer, something she hoped would improve her mental state. She did not want her struggles to consume her. Continue reading “Faith, fitness, furtherance: Arizonans find resources for positive change amid COVID-19 pandemic”

5 transgender military veterans discuss abuses, how political changes can alter lives

  • Slug: BC-CNS Transgender Veterans, 2,365 words.
  • 7 photos and captions below.

By Rachel Stapholz
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – The status of transgender members of the armed forces has shifted dramatically in the past decade as President Joe Biden and his two predecessors issued conflicting orders defining and redefining the eligibility of transgender Americans to serve their country.

Five days after taking office in January, Biden signed an order to reinstate transgender servicemembers, reversing the Donald Trump’s 2019 order, which effectively banned transgender individuals from service. It was just one of a number of Biden reversals of Trump-era rules, the most recent coming Monday when the Department of Health and Human Services said it would again include gender identity as protected by anti-discrimination laws when it comes to delivery of health care.

The Trump administration’s order on military service was a reversal that would have blocked enlistment and expelled service members who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and any transgender medical procedures, such as hormones. Continue reading “5 transgender military veterans discuss abuses, how political changes can alter lives”

Wildfire prevention gets boost from behind bars with expanded program

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Fire Boots,740
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By Haleigh Kochanski
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – It’s important to have boots on the ground when battling wildfires. And come July 1, the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management will be able to start putting 1,400 more boots on the ground.

That’s when an expansion of a long-running program that lets the department use inmate crews to do forest maintenance will allow for the possible addition of 700 more inmates – or 1,400 more boots.

“This is a win-win for inmates and for the state and agencies that are benefitting from the work,” said Donna Leone Hamm, executive director of Middle Ground Prison Reform. Continue reading “Wildfire prevention gets boost from behind bars with expanded program”

New frontier: Athletes, teams dipping their toes into cryptocurrency, NFT pool

  • Slug: Sports-Cryptocurrencies in Sports,1150
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By Obren Manjencich
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Sports is a billion-dollar industry, with revenue streams ranging from television rights to ticket sales. Add cryptocurrency and NFTs to the mix, and this latest gold rush has leagues, teams and players taking advantage of opportunities in an unlikely territory.

Former Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Taijaun Walker, now with the New York Mets, was the first known and active Major League Baseball player to create and sell a piece of digital art through a non-fungible token, otherwise known as an NFT, the New York Times reported. The piece of art sold for 2.35 Ether, a form of cryptocurrency, or roughly $4,275. Proceeds from the auction benefited the team’s charity, the Amazin’ Mets Foundation.

Walker’s NFT announcement opened eyes and raised eyebrows about this new way athletes could generate income. Continue reading “New frontier: Athletes, teams dipping their toes into cryptocurrency, NFT pool”

A pain, a diagnosis, a tumor, a fight: Northwest Christian’s Floyd uses faith, determination to persevere

  • Slug: Sports-Wilson Floyd’s Fight,2000
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By Connor Worley
Special for Cronkite News

PHOENIX – The pain arrived in a blink.

It started as a dull throbbing in Wilson Floyd’s left knee. She didn’t think much of it initially, chalking it up to some leftover soreness from a soccer game with her club, SC del Sol, a few days earlier.

But as she went about her school day in late September at Northwest Christian, the pain – and its intensity – magnified.

“At our school there’s some stairs. I couldn’t walk up the stairs because it just was like, so painful,” Wilson said. Continue reading “A pain, a diagnosis, a tumor, a fight: Northwest Christian’s Floyd uses faith, determination to persevere”

Making waves: Drag boat racing finds home at Buckeye’s Hidden Lake

  • Slug: Sports-Drag Boat Racing 700 words
  • Photos available
  • Video available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZD2KDWFO2c

By Dylan Wilhelm
Cronkite News

BUCKEYE – Just south of Buckeye’s city center and north of the Gila River sits Hidden Lake, a quiet and secluded 120-acre recreation area.

When the drag boat racers arrive, however, it is a place bustling with activity and entertainment and has become a popular destination for the sport’s competition in the desert.

Hidden Lake is home to many events put on by the Arizona Drag Boat Association, which feature intense quarter-mile races with speeds hitting close to 200 mph.

Continue reading “Making waves: Drag boat racing finds home at Buckeye’s Hidden Lake”

Muscogee Nation drops colonial era name in branding

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Muscogee Rebranding530
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By Keegan Williams
Gaylord News

Leaders of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation say they are dropping “Creek” from its name as part of a rebranding effort, but not all members are on board with the change. Some complain their identity is being stripped away from them and what they’ve known their entire lives.

“What are we, a symbol or a people?” tribal member Bill Davis asked Wednesday. “If that had some wording on it to identify who we are as a people, then I’m for it, but if you’re doing it as a symbol to be more invisible, then I’m against it.”

However, Brian OnTheHill, the tribe’s creative manager for marketing and tourism, said the new brand still will be rooted in history and tradition. Continue reading “Muscogee Nation drops colonial era name in branding”

Fight over Oak Flat mine draws support of diverse religious groups

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Sacred Suits,1160
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By Sarah Oven
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The Sikh Coalition and the San Carlos Apache would not appear to have much in common at first glance, but they have found a shared interest in the fight over a patch of land in southeastern Arizona.

That’s where the federal government is considering whether to turn sacred Apache land over to a mining company, whose plans for the site would “obliterate” the ability of tribal members to worship there, in the words of one federal judge.

The prospect has turned an environmental fight over the mine into one over religious rights, and drawn a diverse cast of supporters to the Apache cause. In addition to the Sikh Coalition, court briefs supporting the tribe have been filed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty and the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, among others. Continue reading “Fight over Oak Flat mine draws support of diverse religious groups”