Harris tours Lake Mead, touts Biden agenda on infrastructure, climate change

  • Slug: BC-CNS Harris at Lake Mead, 925 words.

By Olivia Dow
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Vice President Kamala Harris took a short tour Monday of Lake Mead, which has reached historic low water levels thanks to relentless drought and rising temperatures, and she used the opportunity to pitch the Biden administration’s infrastructure and climate plans and how they could address shrinking water supplies in the growing West.

Twenty-five million people in Arizona, Nevada, California, and Mexico receive water from Lake Mead, which is about 35% full. Harris said investments need to be made in climate resilience through the Build Back Better agenda and the bipartisan infrastructure deal to help millions of people who are living in drought. Continue reading “Harris tours Lake Mead, touts Biden agenda on infrastructure, climate change”

As marijuana profits fade, drug cartels increasingly smuggle fentanyl across the border

Slug: BC-CNS Fentanyl Smuggling on Rise, 1,640 words.

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By Natasha Yee
Cronkite News

ARIVACA – A harsh wind bellowed through the desert as a tumbleweed drifted across the land. Jim Chilton gazed out a window of his adobe home toward the Mexico border, just 20 miles away.

The 82-year-old rancher and his 78-year-old wife, Sue, own 2,000 acres of land and lease 48,000 more in Arivaca, a tiny community an hour’s drive south of Tucson.

Chilton’s proximity to the border comes with complications, including drug smugglers carrying the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl. The 5 miles of Chilton Ranch not protected by a border fence leave the property especially vulnerable to cartel activity, he said.

People and drugs have been flooding across the border for years, and Chilton has more than a thousand hours of his own security footage to prove it. He has noticed changes over time.

Continue reading “As marijuana profits fade, drug cartels increasingly smuggle fentanyl across the border”

Cronkite News Digest for Monday, Oct. 18

Here is your Cronkite News lineup for Monday, Oct. 18. 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, while 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 Monday, Oct. 18”

Low-income voters cast nearly 44% of all Arizona votes in 2020, study finds

  • Slug: BC-CNS Low Income Voter Study, 375 words.

By Chad Bradley
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Low-income voters accounted for 35% of the 168 million votes cast nationwide in the 2020 presidential election, and in Arizona that percentage was 44, according to a recent study by the Poor People’s Campaign.

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is a nonpartisan voter outreach drive. Its study, “Waking the Sleeping Giant: Poor and Low Income Voters in the 2020 Election,” was conducted in all 50 states and included a special focus on nine “battleground states,” including Arizona. Continue reading “Low-income voters cast nearly 44% of all Arizona votes in 2020, study finds”

Boosters for Moderna and J&J vaccines recommended by FDA advisory panel

  • Slug: BC-CNS Booster Shot Update, 945 words.
  • 1 video here, credit Kamilah Williams/Cronkite News

By Brock M. Blasdell
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Booster shots of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine were unanimously recommended Friday by the FDA’s Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee.

The recommendation, which follows Food and Drug Administration approval of a Pfizer booster late last month, is a critical step in administering extra dosages to those who received Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines and whose protection may be waning. Continue reading “Boosters for Moderna and J&J vaccines recommended by FDA advisory panel”

ASU expects a physical, passionate matchup when PAC-12 South undefeated teams battle Saturday

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By Prince James Story
Cronkite News

TEMPE – There is a lot on the table in this week’s matchup between two of the top teams in the Pac-12 South. Arizona State faces Utah at Rice–Eccles Stadium to determine the last unbeaten team in conference play.

But despite the game’s allure – ASU (3-0 conference, 5-1 overall) moved up to No. 18 in the latest AP poll, while Utah (2-0 conference, 3-2 overall) is fresh off a blowout win against USC – a pall hangs over the contest. Continue reading “ASU expects a physical, passionate matchup when PAC-12 South undefeated teams battle Saturday”

Is the end near for the GOAT? Taurasi continues to prove otherwise

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By Kenneth Manoj
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Even Hollywood script writers would call this possible ending cliché.

The Phoenix Mercury have had to fight and claw throughout the WNBA postseason and are now tied at one game apiece with the Chicago Sky in the finals, setting the stage for Diana Taurasi’s illustrious basketball career to perhaps reach a thrilling end.

No matter how the finals conclude, Taurasi, a generational talent, hasn’t given much insight into her future plans. But eight months shy of 40, and hobbled throughout this postseason run, the question arises: Would Taurasi consider retiring if she won her fourth championship? Continue reading “Is the end near for the GOAT? Taurasi continues to prove otherwise”

Coyotes’ Xavier Gutierrez, NHL’s first Latino CEO, draws on life experiences to make history

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By Valentina Martinez
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Xavier Gutierrez, the President and CEO of the Arizona Coyotes, hadn’t planned a career path that would involve ice and hockey pucks. He was going to be a soccer star.

“My first dream was to be a forward for Chivas de Guadalajara,” Gutierrez said.

C.D. Guadalajara is a Mexican professional football club, but many fans know the team by its nickname, Chivas. Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Gutierrez grew up a Chivas fan, as so many do in the state because of the popularity of the soccer team.

Even after his family moved to the United States when Gutierrez was in kindergarten, he remained a Chivas fan but grew to love other sports while being raised in San Jose, California. Continue reading “Coyotes’ Xavier Gutierrez, NHL’s first Latino CEO, draws on life experiences to make history”

Local Arizona MMA fighters, past and present, headline Bellator 268

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By Amiliano Fragoso
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – The MMA scene is back in the Valley as Bellator 268 takes place Saturday at the Footprint Center, and while the main event features two Europeans, the rest of the card is stacked with local Arizona talent, including Arizona State University alum and current heavyweight champion Ryan Bader.

“I’ve always wanted to fight in Phoenix on a big show and it never happened,” Bader said. “I’ve fought (at) Indian reservations three hours away but never had the opportunity to fight in Phoenix. My friends and family will be there, there’ll be tons of them … it’ll be that much sweeter after a win.”

Joining Bader out of the local MMA crop is longtime fighter and future Hall of Famer Benson Henderson, who is excited to be back fighting in the Valley, in front of his family and friends. Continue reading “Local Arizona MMA fighters, past and present, headline Bellator 268”

Citizenship applications backlog leaves thousands with cases pending

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Naturalization Delay,890
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By Diannie Chavez
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Mary has helped hundreds of immigrants gain U.S. citizenship, but she hasn’t had the same luck with her husband’s case, one of more than 11,000 applications currently pending in Arizona.

That is nearly double the backlog of 6,307 cases at the end of 2015, according to data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Nationwide, it said there were 907,424 cases pending as of June 30, the last date for which numbers are available, compared with 388,832 in December 2015.

The agency said the backlog comes from delays caused by pandemic service reductions last year, on which it is still catching up. Critics blame Trump administration cutbacks at the agency. Whatever the reason, Mary and her husband are feeling the impact. Continue reading “Citizenship applications backlog leaves thousands with cases pending”

Supporters seek national designation for Tucson’s January 8th Memorial

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Giffords Memorial,940
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By Simon Williams
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The Jan. 8, 2011, mass shooting in Tucson that killed six and wounded 13, including then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, reverberated nationally.

Ron Barber thinks it should be remembered nationally, too.

Barber testified Thursday in support of a bill that would make the January 8th Memorial in Tucson an “affiliated area” of the National Park System, a designation that he said “allows for our country to know it exists.” Continue reading “Supporters seek national designation for Tucson’s January 8th Memorial”

West Nile mitigation keeps Yuma County, Cocopah reservation free of virus

  • Slug: BC-CNS West Nile Mitigation, 720 words.
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By Christian Serrano
Cronkite News

With Arizona’s healthy monsoon and an explosion of mosquito-borne West Nile virus cases, Yuma County has partnered with the Cocopah Indian Tribe south of Yuma to create an effective shield against the disease.

For the first time, Yuma County’s Pest Abatement District provided training and supplies to the reservation for mosquito surveillance and mitigation. That allowed the tribe the flexibility to react to rising cases in real time and use a variety of methods to prevent infections. Continue reading “West Nile mitigation keeps Yuma County, Cocopah reservation free of virus”

Silent storm: Extreme heat prompts new national guidelines for workers

  • Slug: BC-CNS Extreme Heat Protections, 1,560 words.
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By Olivia Dow
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – When construction worker Lorenzo Tejeda moved to Arizona in November 2019 after living in San Diego his whole life, he had to make a lifestyle change to properly adjust to working in the Arizona heat.

“I had to change the way I ate, I had to change the way I hydrated, I had to change the way I exercised in order to condition my body to be ready to work possibly eight to 10 to 12 hours outside in 115 degree heat,” Tejeda said. “It was a long process and it was a complete lifestyle change.” Continue reading “Silent storm: Extreme heat prompts new national guidelines for workers”

Nonessential border travel ban to be lifted after nearly 20 months

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By Kimberly Silverio-Bautista
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Fully vaccinated non-essential travelers will be allowed to cross the U.S. border from Mexico starting in November, ending nearly 20 months of pandemic restrictions that were choking businesses in border communities.

No specific date was given for when the restrictions will be lifted, but the long-awaited announcement was welcomed by area officials, who have been repeatedly disappointed in their hopes that nonessential travel would be allowed to resume.

“It’s a great start and we’re really elated to be able to have friends, be able to return back to visit us here in business, and throughout the state of Arizona,” Douglas Mayor Donald C. Huish said Wednesday. Continue reading “Nonessential border travel ban to be lifted after nearly 20 months”

DHS to end workplace raids, turn focus on companies exploiting workers

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By Diannie Chavez
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday that it will stop raiding workplaces to search for undocumented immigrants and will focus instead on “unscrupulous employers who exploit the vulnerability” of undocumented labor.

The announcement reverses a Trump-era policy of workplace raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents that led to the arrest of more than 1,800 undocumented workers, one advocacy group said.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Tuesday that those sweeping raids missed “the most pernicious aspect of our country’s unauthorized employment challenge: exploitative employers.” In addition to halting such raids, he said the agency would look for ways to encourage undocumented workers to come forward and report workplace violations. Continue reading “DHS to end workplace raids, turn focus on companies exploiting workers”

Valleywise Health sees ‘modest decline’ in COVID-19 cases but fears nursing shortage will worsen

  • Slug: BC-CNS COVID Update, 485 words.
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By Olivia McCann
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – As Arizonans continue to get vaccinated, the number of COVID-19 cases in one major health system has tapered off. However, Valleywise Health continues to suffer a severe nursing shortage, and officials fear the coming deadline for employees to be vaccinated may make it worse.

Valleywise Health, Maricopa County’s health system, held a news conference Wednesday to provide updates on COVID-19 trends. Continue reading “Valleywise Health sees ‘modest decline’ in COVID-19 cases but fears nursing shortage will worsen”

Overlanding community seeks path to a more sustainable future

  • Slug: BC-CNS Sustainable Overlanding, 615 words.
  • 1 video here, credit Kasey Brammell/Cronkite News.
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By Ella Ho Ching
Cronkite News

FLAGSTAFF – Reagan Evans’ passion for overlanding and nature conservation is rooted in fond childhood experiences of outdoor adventures with his family.

Overlanding is a form of self-sufficient, off-grid adventure seeking that commonly uses large SUVs and pickup trucks to travel to remote locations using established roads and trails, store outdoor equipment and camp, often for extended periods. To most overlanders, the journey is the goal.

Evans, 46, an Overland Expo Foundation scholarship recipient and full-time traveler from Texas, said overlanders take to natural habitats to explore new sights or get away from civilization. Continue reading “Overlanding community seeks path to a more sustainable future”

Arizona projects get sizeable cut of Great American Outdoors Act funds

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Park Funds,660
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By Ulysse Bex
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Arizona projects got $110 million last year and will get another $159 million in the fiscal year that started this month, or more than 9% of all funding nationally under the Great American Outdoors Act for those two years.

The money, dedicated largely to national parks but also to federal lands and tribal schools, has been welcomed by tourism and environmental groups, who said it is long overdue.

“The National Park Service has been underfunded over the years,” said Kevin Dahl, senior program manager for Arizona in the National Parks Conservation Association’s Southwest region. Continue reading “Arizona projects get sizeable cut of Great American Outdoors Act funds”

Sunblock for streets: Cool pavement curbs heat in Phoenix, but more testing is needed

  • Slug: BC-CNS-Cool Pavement,1140
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By Shane Purcell
Cronkite News

PHOENIX – In a South Phoenix neighborhood of light colored townhomes and neat little front lawns, some of the roads are coated in a light gray sealant. The reason? To see whether it can slow rising temperatures in a fast-warming city.

Over the past year, the city has studied the efficacy of this reflective sealant meant to reduce the absorption of heat in the urban climate, a phenomenon known as the heat island effect. The testing is far from over, but initial findings suggest the treatment may help effectively reduce temperatures.

Alyska Wagner and her husband, Terry Lester, live near Vineyard Road and 40th Avenue, one of eight locations in Phoenix used for the experimental cool pavement sealer, and they have enjoyed what they described as a noticeable difference in the temperature since this sealant was applied. So noticeable, in fact, that Wagner had to pause to remember the kind of heat that “just wasn’t there anymore.” Continue reading “Sunblock for streets: Cool pavement curbs heat in Phoenix, but more testing is needed”

What’s in a name? Plenty for people honored in Hispanic Heritage Month

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By Genesis Sandoval
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON – Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the achievements of Hispanics in the U.S. And Latinos. And Chicanos. And Latines. And…

As Hispanic numbers and clout have continued to grow in the U.S. and the state, so have the terms to describe people with roots in Spanish-speaking or Latin countries. Those names have “become a source of debate, and perhaps even friction sometimes, about who should or shouldn’t be included in this definition,” said Mark Lopez, director of race and ethnicity at Pew Research Center.

For Ada Martin, one label is not enough to cover the range of backgrounds in that community. Continue reading “What’s in a name? Plenty for people honored in Hispanic Heritage Month”