With end to Roe possible, thousands brave cold at upbeat March for Life

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Victory March,760
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By Emily Sacia
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Scottsdale student John Ayala and his Ville De Marie Academy classmates clenched hand-warmers Friday against a bitterly cold Washington morning, but Ayala said the discomfort was outweighed by the cause that brought him there.

“I think it’s just really important for people my age and my generation to stand up for life,” said Ayala, a senior and one of thousands who turned out for the 49th annual March for Life. “This event just gives me so much hope.”

Hope because after almost 50 years, anti-abortion advocates believe they are closer than ever to seeing the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, its 1973 ruling that recognized a right to an abortion. Continue reading “With end to Roe possible, thousands brave cold at upbeat March for Life”

Recreational marijuana sales flying high a year after Arizona legalization

  • Slug: BC-CNS Marijuana Legalization Anniversary, 610 words
  • 5 photos and captions below.

By Sara Edwards
Cronkite News

TEMPE – Walking into a marijuana dispensary today, it’s hard to tell that it’s only been a year since the use of recreational marijuana was legalized in Arizona. Dispensaries that already were selling medical marijuana, which began in 2012, had to scramble to transition their stores to sell to both recreational and medical customers.

Sol Flower, which has five dispensaries in metro Phoenix, was prepared for the grand shift, according to Allie Marconi, senior director of marketing for parent company Copperstate Farms. Continue reading “Recreational marijuana sales flying high a year after Arizona legalization”

Cronkite News Digest for Friday, Jan. 21

Here is your Cronkite News lineup for Friday, Jan. 21. 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 and audio story questions can be answered by Sadie Babits at sadie.babits@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 Friday, Jan. 21”

Capital COVID: State, federal lawmakers face different pandemic rules

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By Emily Sacia
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Even though Rep. Raúl Grijalva tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday, the Tucson Democrat was still able to cast votes in Congress by proxy Thursday while he was quarantined at home.

That’s an option state Rep. Kelli Butler, D-Scottsdale, wishes she had.

The Arizona House largely reverted to pre-pandemic rules this session, which means representatives have to be present at the Capitol to vote or debate. And that means Butler, who remained in isolation Thursday after a positive test earlier this week, cannot perform her legislative duties. Continue reading “Capital COVID: State, federal lawmakers face different pandemic rules”

Ducey defends use of school funding in face of feds’ threat to reclaim it

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By Camila Pedrosa
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Gov. Doug Ducey said Thursday that the state’s use of money to support schools that reject mask mandates is “well within” federal guidelines for the funds, despite a Treasury threat to take the money back.

At stake is about $173 million in federal funding the state has already received under the federal Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund – and the potential for a delay in future pandemic relief funding if the state does not comply with federal rules. Continue reading “Ducey defends use of school funding in face of feds’ threat to reclaim it”

An exercise in patience: Fitness industry struggles to adjust as COVID-19 pandemic endures

  • Slug: Sports-Fitness Pandemic.1650.
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By Michael Garaffa
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – It was a brisk morning in Tempe. Nahmir Collier-Hack, 26, stepped out of his white Acura and walked through the doors of the private gym where most people know him as Naz. A personal trainer, Naz has been working at the gym for a little over a month.

His client, a man in his 60s, leaped out of a chair as soon as Naz came in, ready to get his session going.

Remixes of Flo Rida songs echoed throughout the gym, “almost like the DJ just threw some random popular songs over a bunch of different beats,” Naz joked. Continue reading “An exercise in patience: Fitness industry struggles to adjust as COVID-19 pandemic endures”

Mayors say immigration reform needed, but politics likely to prevent it

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Mayors Immigration,790
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By Emily Sacia
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Mayors of Tucson and Mesa agreed Wednesday that immigration reform is badly needed to address the current situation at the border, but they are not confident it can get done in the current fractured political climate.

The comments from Tucson Mayor Regina Romero, a Democrat, and Mesa Mayor John Giles, a Republican, who took part in an immigration forum at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington.

“It’s been 30-plus years since we’ve had meaningful legislation related to immigration reform,” Giles said after the session. “We’re hopeful that the people will put partisan politics aside and address this like a bipartisan issue.” Continue reading “Mayors say immigration reform needed, but politics likely to prevent it”

No time to party: With omicron surging in Arizona, officials stress masks, tests, COVID vaccines

  • Slug: BC-CNS Arizona COVID Update, 500 words.
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By Molly Hudson
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Arizonans who have had COVID-19 shouldn’t count on immunity from the highly contagious omicron variant, which continues to spread in the state, a leading health expert said Wednesday.

In a news conference, Dr. Joshua LaBaer, executive director of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, told reporters that Arizonans should avoid the mindset that everyone eventually will get COVID-19.

“Certainly this is not a time to do a chicken pox party, (where) everybody gets together, just goes ahead and gets it over with,” he said. Continue reading “No time to party: With omicron surging in Arizona, officials stress masks, tests, COVID vaccines”

Arizona again ranks low on highway safety laws; state officials push back

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  • 2 photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By Camila Pedrosa
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Arizona once again ranked near the bottom of states on a national report card on highway safety laws, earning a “danger” rating as a state with just five of 16 recommended laws and no primary enforcement for seat belts.

It was at least the 10th straight year that Arizona has ranked near the bottom of the annual Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety report.

But one state highway official said the report continues to ignore key information about traffic safety in the state, by focusing on laws on the books instead of Arizona’s aggressive enforcement of those policies. Continue reading “Arizona again ranks low on highway safety laws; state officials push back”

Arizonans join Capitol protest as Senate takes up voting rights bills

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Voting Protests,940
  • 4 photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By Reagan Priest
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Tempe resident Brandon Ortega has been on a hunger strike for six days now and pledged Tuesday he will continue fasting for as long as it takes the Senate to pass a pair of voting rights bills.

He could be in for a long fast: Analysts see little hope that Democratic senators can end a GOP filibuster of the bills, in part because Arizona Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema will not back a change in Senate rules that would let that happen, even though she said she supports the bills. Continue reading “Arizonans join Capitol protest as Senate takes up voting rights bills”

BYU star Shaylee Gonzales, recovered from knee injury, talks about perseverance

  • Slug: Audio-Gonzales Returns
  • Run time: 17:07
  • Related digital story here.
  • Downloadable audio here. (Note: Some web browsers may not support media download.)

By Michael Baribault
Cronkite News

Shaylee Gonzales was on top of the world after her freshman season in 2019 at BYU – but then she tore an ACL. She used the next year to recover, become a social media star, and now she’s back on the court. In this episode of Cronkite Sports in Focus, we look at what’s behind Gonzales’ perseverance. Continue reading “BYU star Shaylee Gonzales, recovered from knee injury, talks about perseverance”

Pima County works to reduce overrepresentation of Native Americans in its jails

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By Kylie Cochrane
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Selso Villegas knows the criminal justice system well. His daughter has battled a drug addiction for years, so for the past decade, he has cared for his grandchildren, including two grandsons who have been incarcerated. But as an American Indian, Villegas and his family face additional hurdles.

“We were conquered and we were put on reservations, isolated,” said Villegas, executive director of water resources for the Tohono O’odham Nation. “So I think our biggest problem for young men and women is that we were stripped from our social development.”

Villegas’ grandsons are a part of a disproportionately large group of American Indians held in southern Arizona jails. Data from the Safety and Justice Challenge – which is funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation – shows that Native Americans are 1.8 times as likely as white Americans to be booked into a Pima County jail. Continue reading “Pima County works to reduce overrepresentation of Native Americans in its jails”

Trump likely to bring baggage with bragging to faithful in Florence rally

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By Alexia Stanbridge
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – What a difference seven years makes.

When Donald Trump made one of his first presidential campaign stops in Arizona in 2015, he was a Republican outsider and longshot candidate. When he comes to Florence Saturday for his first rally of this election year, Trump returns as a former president with thousands of donors in the state, a firm hand on the party and GOP candidates clamoring for his backing. Continue reading “Trump likely to bring baggage with bragging to faithful in Florence rally”

Sinema says she backs voting bills, but rebuffs Biden, Democrats on filibuster

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By Emily Sacia and Alexia Stanbridge
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, took to the Senate floor Thursday to say she will not vote to do away with the filibuster, likely dooming the voting rights measures she said she supports.

“While I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country,” Sinema said during a 19-minute speech that called for both parties to come together.

The move was not a surprise – Sinema has steadfastly opposed ending the filibuster – but it came as Democrats were mobilizing to push through voting rights measures ahead of Martin Luther King Day and President Joe Biden was on Capitol Hill to lobby senators in person. Continue reading “Sinema says she backs voting bills, but rebuffs Biden, Democrats on filibuster”

Vicious circle: Tribal broadband program hindered by lack of broadband

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  • 2 photos available (thumbnails, captions below)

By Camila Pedrosa
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Tribal advocates told a Senate panel this week the federal government’s effort to fund expanded broadband infrastructure in Indian Country overlooked a fundamental issue.

Many tribes did not have the broadband access needed to apply for the funding that would let them improve broadband access.

Information about the first round of grants was available only online, and tribes were encouraged to apply online in a 90-day window during the pandemic. The upshot, said Matthew Rantanen, was that only about half of all eligible tribal communities applied for the funding. Continue reading “Vicious circle: Tribal broadband program hindered by lack of broadband”

Arizona State theater group is taking climate change to the stage

  • Slug: Audio-Climate Theater
  • Run time: 10:29
  • Downloadable audio here. (Note: Some web browsers may not support media download.)

By Emma VandenEinde
Cronkite News

TEMPE – On the heels of COP26 – the world’s largest gathering of nations to collaborate on lowering global carbon emissions – scientists and climate experts are looking for new ways to help people understand the impact of climate change. Instead of presenting information at a global conference or in a bulleted news format, some of them are turning to a different medium: live theater. Continue reading “Arizona State theater group is taking climate change to the stage”

Phoenix saw 9.7% inflation in 2021, outstripping national rate of 7%

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By Emily Sacia
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Consumer prices rose by an average of 7% in U.S. cities last year, the steepest rise in decades, and they grew even faster in the Phoenix metro area, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The bureau reported Wednesday that the consumer price index for the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area rose 9.7%, driven by surging prices for gas and transportation and increasing demand for housing. Some experts think a labor shortage propelled by COVID-19 will lead to a continuing rise in inflation. Continue reading “Phoenix saw 9.7% inflation in 2021, outstripping national rate of 7%”

Latest surge in COVID-19 cases stressing Arizona health care system

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  • File photo, graphic available (embed code, thumbnail, caption below)

By Alexia Stanbridge and Reagan Priest
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Arizona reported 18,783 COVID-19 cases Wednesday, the latest in a surge of infections that experts say is stressing a state health care system that is “not well suited” to take on more cases.

The state has been averaging almost 12,000 new cases a day since Jan. 1, according to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services, as the new, more-contagious omicron variant has raced through the state. COVID-19 deaths in the state are averaging 64 a day this month, and totaled just under 25,000 Wednesday. Continue reading “Latest surge in COVID-19 cases stressing Arizona health care system”

New irrigation technology could save water for Arizona farms

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Irrigation Innovation,480
  • Photo, video story available.

By Diana Quintero
Cronkite News

TONOPAH – The Central Arizona Project, which delivers Colorado River water to more than 80% of Arizona’s growing population, is taking a three-pronged approach to the megadrought that has resulted in the first water cutbacks to Arizona farmers.

One of those approaches is N-Drip, which converts flood-irrigated fields into a drip system that uses gravity, with no external form of energy. Developed by an Israeli company, the system is being tested to grow sorghum in Australia, sugar cane in Thailand and now cotton and alfalfa in Arizona. Continue reading “New irrigation technology could save water for Arizona farms”

How climate change is forcing Arizona wine growers to adapt their practices

  • Slug: Audio-Water Wine
  • Run time: 13:36
  • Downloadable audio here. (Note: Some web browsers may not support media download.)
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By Connor Worley
Cronkite News

CAMP VERDE – Ignacio Mesa operates a small winery off State Route 260 in Camp Verde where he planted his first vines in 2002. Today, Clear Creek Vineyard & Winery is a 100% sustainable winery from planting to harvesting. But climate change is making it hard to consistently produce good wine year after year, Mesa said, and he’s not alone. On this episode of Arizona in Focus, learn how climate change is affecting wine growing in Arizona and what some wineries are doing to adjust. Continue reading “How climate change is forcing Arizona wine growers to adapt their practices”