Biggs: White House aide ‘mistaken’ that he sought pardon after Jan. 6

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By Tracy Abiaka
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, this week denied he sought a pardon from then-President Donald Trump for any part in connection with the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol.

Biggs’ statement Thursday night came in response to video testimony earlier that day to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack. During that hearing, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson named Biggs as one of several Republican lawmakers who sought pardons before Trump left office. Continue reading “Biggs: White House aide ‘mistaken’ that he sought pardon after Jan. 6”

House gives final OK to compromise gun-reform bill, first in decades

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By Morgan Fischer
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The House Friday gave final approval to a bipartisan gun-reform bill that is the first major federal gun safety legislation in decades, voting just hours after the measure cleared the Senate.

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is less restrictive than a pair of bills that passed the House a little more than two weeks ago, but House members appeared ready to accept what one called a “much-needed step” toward gun reform in the wake of recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde. Continue reading “House gives final OK to compromise gun-reform bill, first in decades”

‘We will see desperation’: Planned Parenthood Arizona stops abortions after Roe v. Wade overturned

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By Sameer Malla
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – In the wake of Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade – eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion – Planned Parenthood Arizona announced it has shut down its abortion services, effective immediately, while it sorts through “Arizona’s tangled web of conflicting laws.”

Abortion opponents, meanwhile, said “life has won a great victory.”

“We are working diligently with our team of attorneys to understand Arizona’s tangled web of conflicting laws so we can ensure that our patients know what their rights are and how to access legal abortion,” Brittany Fonteno, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, said at a virtual news conference Friday.

The ruling, Fonteno said, will “serve to further our country’s disgraceful legacy of racism and discrimination, because it will have the greatest impact on Black, Indigenous, Latino and other people of color, young people and rural communities.”

She urged Arizonans to protest the court’s 6-3 decision.

“We have never before lost a constitutional right in the history of this country,” Fonteno said.

Thousands of protesters heeded the call and gathered at the Arizona Capitol on Friday night. Many carried signs decrying the Supreme Court’s ruling, with messages such as “My Body, My Choice,” as well as many more strongly worded messages. The crowd marched around the Capitol ground chanting, “Abortion is our right. We won’t give up this fight,” and other abortion-rights messages that had been distributed on small cards, and members of several groups, including event organizers Planned Parenthood, the Party for Socialism and Liberation and Radical Women, shared their frustration with the ruling.

But the activists were met by a smaller group of abortion opponents who displayed signs of their own or crosses.

The groups stayed peaceful until about 8:45 p.m. when, according to AZ Family, the Arizona Department of Public Safety deployed tear gas to scatter demonstrators who were banging on the glass of the Senate. DPS said the gas was also deployed at Wesley Bolin Plaza.

Abortion opponents: ‘Life wins’

As abortion-rights groups were preparing to take to the streets, abortion opponents were all smiles and tears of joy during a media conference Friday afternoon at the Arizona Family Counseling clinic in Phoenix.

“Today, life wins,” said Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy. “Roe will not see 50 (years), and we’re a better nation for it. The court’s decision rights a deadly decades-old wrong. Life is a human right, and we can no longer deny the humanity of the unborn child.”

State Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, shared similar sentiments.

“Many of us in this room have been waiting for this moment,” Barto said. “Life has won a great victory through prayer, unity and 50 years of perseverance.”

The court’s ruling Friday in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization paves the way for Arizona’s 15-week abortion ban to take effect. Signed by Gov. Doug Ducey in March, the law bans abortions after 15 weeks of gestation, except in a medical emergency. The law will take effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns its current session, which is considered imminent.

“Attorneys general have a solemn responsibility to defend the most vulnerable among us, and that’s exactly what we did today,” said Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Repubican who’s running for governor. “I look forward to seeing the issue returned to elected representatives where it belongs. As Americans, we believe in the dignity and value of every person.”

Ducey tweeted on Friday morning:

“Roe v Wade was a poorly-reasoned ruling that had no Constitutional basis. The Supreme Court has made the right decision by finally overturning it and giving governing power back to the people and the states.

“I am proud that Arizona has been ranked the most pro-life state in the country. Here, we will continue to cherish life and protect it in every way possible.”

But others see the ruling and its effects as an affront to women.

‘My heart honestly is breaking’

The medical director of Planned Parenthood Arizona, Dr. Jill Gibson, called the decision and political pressure to limit the availability of abortions “devastating.”

“Today’s decision will be felt the hardest by Arizonans who already face discriminatory and systemic obstacles to health care,” she said, including people with disabilities, people who live far from the city, young people and undocumented people. “My heart honestly is breaking because this decision will cause immense suffering for women, and for their families – we will see desperation.

“Taking away access to abortion isn’t a theoretical talking point. This is real life for our patients. Our patients will now have to go to centers that are out of the state, they will struggle to find someone to watch their children so they can travel, they will have to beg for time off work from the two or three jobs that they’re holding down in order just to make their ends meet.”

Troy Hill contributed to this story.

For more stories from Cronkite News, visit cronkitenews.azpbs.org.

Alicia Nuanez marches with a crowd of abortion-rights activists at a demonstration at the Arizona Captiol in Phoenix on June 24, 2022. (Photo by Troy Hill/Cronkite News)
Abortion-rights activists gather at the Arizona Capitol on June 24, 2022, to protest the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. (Photo by Troy HIll/Cronkite News)
Abortion-rights activists march around the Arizona Capitol grounds on June 24, 2022, to protest the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. (Photo by Troy HIll/Cronkite News)
Anti-abortion demonstrators approach the group of abortion-rights protesters at the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix on June 24, 2022. (Photo by Troy Hill/Cronkite News)
Bobbi Jean Forgey, a member of Radical Women, addresses the crowd at the abortion-rights protest at the Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix on June 24, 2022. (Photo by Troy Hill/Cronkite News)
Abortion-rights activists gather at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix on June 24, 2022, to protest the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. (Photo by Troy HIll/Cronkite News)
Abortion-rights activist were given cards with chants at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix on June 24, 2022. (Photo by Troy Hill/Cronkite News)
Abortion-rights activists gather at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix on June 24, 2022, to protest the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade. (Photo by Troy HIll/Cronkite News)

‘I beat the odds’: Friends, family help Arizona’s Dalen Terry celebrate NBA draft selection

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By Max Campodall’Orto
Cronkite News

SCOTTSDALE – After the 10th pick, Terry family members huddled. After each subsequent pick, they would do the same: stand, inch closer together and listen to see if Dalen Terry’s name was called in the 2022 NBA Draft. The 11th pick passed. Twelve, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17. Each time another prospect was selected, they sat down, laughed and hugged.

At 18, Chicago was on the clock. A buzz went through the Old Town Scottsdale restaurant. The news was out: The former Arizona guard would become the newest member of the Chicago Bulls.

Thursday night, Terry was surrounded by friends, family, coaches and former teammates at Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles for his NBA Draft party, celebrating the hard work he had put in to get there. Continue reading “‘I beat the odds’: Friends, family help Arizona’s Dalen Terry celebrate NBA draft selection”

Passing on gas: Biden’s gas-tax holiday gets cool reception in Arizona

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By Neetish Basnet
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s latest attempt to combat rising gas prices might be running on empty.

Biden on Wednesday urged lawmakers to suspend gasoline and diesel taxes on both federal and state levels for at least three months, in hopes of providing consumers direct relief from soaring prices at the pump.

But any tax holidays would have to be approved by Congress, where even some Democrats were cool to the idea, and by state lawmakers. While some states have already moved to temporarily suspend their gas taxes, Arizona is not one of them – nor is it likely to adopt the president’s plan. Continue reading “Passing on gas: Biden’s gas-tax holiday gets cool reception in Arizona”

Perry grad Jalen Williams set to become first-round NBA draft pick as brother Cody follows his footsteps

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By Austin Green
Cronkite News

GILBERT – When Jalen Williams hears his name called in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft Thursday, it will complete a journey that came as a surprise to many people around basketball. His younger brother is not one of those people.

“I don’t know why, but when I was little, I always saw him going to the NBA,” Cody Williams said. “It was never like a question. I don’t know if that was just because I looked up to him because he’s my older brother, but I always saw him in the league.”

Like Jalen before him, Cody is now a key part of a powerhouse Perry High School basketball team. The older Williams still has a strong legacy with the Pumas, as he starred on some of the first teams that played under coach Sam Duane Jr. at Perry. Continue reading “Perry grad Jalen Williams set to become first-round NBA draft pick as brother Cody follows his footsteps”

No All-Star Game starters for Phoenix Mercury; Brittney Griner given honorary title

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By Sameer Malla
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – As the Phoenix Mercury reached the midpoint of the WNBA season with a 6-11 record, the starters for July’s All-Star game in Chicago were announced Wednesday.

No Mercury player was selected among the 10 starters. This is the first year without an All-Star starter from Phoenix since 2009, when guards Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter were selected by the coaches as reserves. The last time the whole franchise was shut out of a WNBA All-Star selection? In 2002, when coach Cynthia Cooper’s Mercury finished 11-21, the fourth-worst record (out of 16 teams) in the WNBA.

Taurasi was in her sixth year in the league in 2009, with a Rookie of the Year (2004) and four All-WNBA First Team awards to her name. Surprisingly enough, 2009 – the year she came off the bench at the All-Star game – was the only year Taurasi won the regular season MVP award out of her 18 seasons in the league. That team finished with a 23-11 record and defeated the Tamika Catchings-led Indiana Fever to capture its second WNBA Finals title in franchise history. Continue reading “No All-Star Game starters for Phoenix Mercury; Brittney Griner given honorary title”

Durant? Lillard? What a Deandre Ayton sign-and-trade deal could look like

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By Alex Amado
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns? What about Damian Lillard? Pascal Siakam? When it comes to the Deandre Ayton saga, Suns fans have had a field day putting trades together.

As a restricted free agent, Ayton, 23, has the opportunity to sign an offer sheet from any franchise that presents one, and the Suns can match any offer.

While it would make sense for the Suns to keep their ​No. 1 overall pick, the relationship between the two appears strained. Continue reading “Durant? Lillard? What a Deandre Ayton sign-and-trade deal could look like”

Landlords asked to help solve homelessness through new Maricopa County initiative

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By Julio Ernesto Mora Rodriguez
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – The number of people experiencing homelessness is rising in Maricopa County, and with it the need for affordable housing. Enter Threshold, which intends to change the housing dynamic by inviting landlords to be part of the solution.

Threshold is a centralized network of resources to support property managers so they can provide more people with affordable housing. It’s operated by HOM Inc., an Arizona company working with nonprofits throughout the state to combat homelessness. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is funding Threshold through federal COVID-19 relief funds and general funds. Continue reading “Landlords asked to help solve homelessness through new Maricopa County initiative”

With Supreme Court on cusp of abortion ruling, Arizona advocates prepare

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By Tracy Abiaka
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court is expected to hand down a ruling restricting or overturning abortion rights within a matter of days, but Phoenix Dr. DeShawn Taylor has been getting ready for months.

“I’ve been doing this since the Supreme Court took up the case to begin with because in my mind, I felt that, why would the Supreme Court take up the case (if) they weren’t going to seriously consider overturning Roe V. Wade,” Taylor said, referring to the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision that recognized a right to an abortion.

A ruling overturning Roe could come as early as Thursday, when the court could release its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case challenging Mississippi’s law that prohibits most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Continue reading “With Supreme Court on cusp of abortion ruling, Arizona advocates prepare”

Viral explosion brings attention to Funny Car competitor, ASU student Bobby Bode III

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By Marcos Granda
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – The most shared image from the NHRA SpringNationals at Houston Raceway Park was not the winners with their trophies but an explosion that became viral, reaching more than 36,000 views combined on different YouTube videos.

It happened during the final race of the Funny Car category, in which Bobby Bode III, a business and entrepreneurship major at Arizona State, came short of winning his first major title in this sport, giving the victory to his rival, Matt Hagan.

“Yeah, so the car was going along great,” Bode III said about the April race. “I really didn’t feel like anything was going wrong in it. And then it happened so fast. And all of a sudden, there’s just a big, big concussion in the car. I was under the body one second, the second later, I wasn’t.” Continue reading “Viral explosion brings attention to Funny Car competitor, ASU student Bobby Bode III”

International call: Arizona’s Mathurin, Koloko symbolic of talent pool in NBA Draft

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By Taylor Corlew
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – If this season’s NBA MVP race sent one message, it was this: The impact of international basketball on the league is undeniable.

For the first time in NBA history, all three MVP finalists – Nikola Jokić, Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo – were foreign players.

The 2022 NBA Draft, set for Thursday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, will also have an international flair. One potential top-five pick is Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin, who grew up in Montreal. Continue reading “International call: Arizona’s Mathurin, Koloko symbolic of talent pool in NBA Draft”

Work in progress: Rattlers want to achieve more after clinching playoff berth

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By Michael Burgess II
Cronkite News

MESA – The Arizona Rattlers are fresh off a weekend when they clinched their 12th-consecutive playoff berth following a 58-38 victory over the Duke City Gladiators.

However, for coach Kevin Guy, the team still has a lot to achieve before the season ends.

“The bigger goal is to get home field advantage and compete for a championship,” Guy said. “So, you know, it’s a work in progress. We still got some work to do these last five weeks.”

Continue reading “Work in progress: Rattlers want to achieve more after clinching playoff berth”

‘Stabilizing the ship’: Despite turmoil, Vanessa Nygaard determined to keep Mercury on track

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By Ruby Arora
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – As Vanessa Nygaard walked the Footprint Center court days after being named the Phoenix Mercury’s new coach, she quickly envisioned a championship trophy.

Preseason predictions supported her dream, especially with a superstar trio of Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins-Smith, and the addition of Tina Charles in free agency.

Then reality hit. Injuries. Lineup changes. And a star player’s imprisonment overseas.

Continue reading “‘Stabilizing the ship’: Despite turmoil, Vanessa Nygaard determined to keep Mercury on track”

‘Beyond the disc’: Ultimate Frisbee takes off in Arizona

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By Ricky Weipz
Cronkite News

TEMPE – On a recent Thursday night in south Tempe, two fields reserved at the Benedict Sports Complex featured typical athletic activities: drills, competition and a bit of trash-talking.

Welcome to the world of ultimate Frisbee, which often is simply called “ultimate.”

The sport combines elements of football and soccer while participants fling a plastic disc up and down a narrow field, looking to find their opponents’ end zone. Ultimate’s easy-to-play nature – who needs referees? – draws the interest of many.

Continue reading “‘Beyond the disc’: Ultimate Frisbee takes off in Arizona”

Former coach keeps spotlight on Russian detention of Brittney Griner

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By Morgan Fischer
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – A plain shirt, a pin, a number.

For the past 41 days, basketball legend Dawn Staley has posted that photo to her social media accounts, just one part of the outpouring of support for Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner, who has been held in a Russian jail since Feb. 17.

The pin is the orange-and-black “WeAreBG” logo sported by Griner’s supporters, and the number is a count of the days Griner has been held – 120 as of Friday. Continue reading “Former coach keeps spotlight on Russian detention of Brittney Griner”

Los Angeles quick to embrace women’s soccer with addition of Angel City FC

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By Matthew Legere
Cronkite News

LOS ANGELES – Whether it’s taking a stand against gun violence or riding down Hollywood Boulevard for the return of the LA Pride Parade, the Angel City Football Club has taken the city by storm and immersed itself into the downtown community during its first few months of operation.

The National Women’s Soccer League in 2020 announced that an expansion franchise would be coming to Los Angeles for the 2022 season, ending a more than 10-year drought of women’s professional soccer in the area.

Angel City took the field April 29 for its first regular season match at Banc of California Stadium, playing in front of a sold-out crowd of 22,000. Continue reading “Los Angeles quick to embrace women’s soccer with addition of Angel City FC”

Phoenix chief tells Senate resources, reform needed to fight gun violence

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By Neetish Basnet
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams urged senators Wednesday to devote more resources to law enforcement agencies to help fight the rising incidents of gun violence among youths.

“We do need responsible gun legislation. We do believe that there should be a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in order for us to properly serve and protect our community,” Williams said in testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But Williams, who was also testifying as president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, added that in addition to “commonsense” gun reforms, funding is also needed to support police departments that are “out-gunned, we’re out-manned, we’re out-staffed.” Continue reading “Phoenix chief tells Senate resources, reform needed to fight gun violence”

Bill advances for ‘truth and healing’ panel for Indian boarding schools

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By Morgan Fischer
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – A House committee gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a bill that would create a commission to investigate Indian boarding schools, despite Republican concerns over the scope and power of the commission.

The Truth and Healing Commission would investigate federal and mission boarding schools, which operated from the late 1800s into the 1900s. The schools were seen largely as an attempt to obliterate native society and culture from Indigenous children, who were often abused and sometimes killed. Continue reading “Bill advances for ‘truth and healing’ panel for Indian boarding schools”

Supreme Court rejects Arizona’s attempt to defend ‘public charge’ rule

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By Tracy Abiaka
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed Arizona’s attempt to defend a Trump-era “public charge” that would have made it harder for immigrants to gain permanent residency, after the Biden administration refused to defend the policy.

Wednesday’s decision means that lower court rulings that had blocked the public charge rule will stand, an action that one migration lawyer said closes the door on “a very dark chapter of the weaponization of the public charge rule.” Continue reading “Supreme Court rejects Arizona’s attempt to defend ‘public charge’ rule”