Cronkite News Digest for Friday, June 14

Here is the Cronkite News lineup for Friday, June 14. If you have questions on news stories, please contact Steve Crane in the Washington, D.C., bureau at 202-684-2398 or, or call the Phoenix bureau: Executive Editor Christina Leonard at 602-361-5893 or or Content Editor Venita James at Direct borderlands story questions to Vanessa Ruiz at 305-431-3082 or Sports story questions should go to Paola Boivin at or Brett Kurland at or 602-496-5134. Clients who want to use Cronkite videos can find clean versions, and scripts, for download at this Dropbox link for stories from June. Stories promised for today, along with photos and links to multimedia elements, will move on our client site at


7-year-old girl dies crossing border; authorities say smugglers left them

PHOENIX – The death of a 7-year-old girl  whose body was found near the Arizona-Mexico border Wednesday is a tragedy that immigration officials blame squarely on smugglers. “The smuggler organizations are lying to these people, promising that they’re going to be able to get legal status when that’s not the case,” said Jesus Vasavilbaso, a spokesman for the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector.  Another child and woman from India who is thought to be the dead girl’s mother surrendered to authorities Friday, suffering from dehydration.

Slug: BC-CNS Desert Death. 490 words. By Taniyah Williamson.

Volcanic soil, old artillery shells challenge crews managing the Maroon Fire

FLAGSTAFF – Amidst the sweet-smelling smoke of ponderosa pine, wildland firefighters are laboring to maintain – not extinguish – a wildfire burning in the Coconino National Forest northeast of Flagstaff. Their work is made more complicated by two factors: unusual volcanic soil and a “no-go zone”: a decommissioned artillery range the Army suspects contains unexploded ordnance from the 1940s and ’50s. After the lightning-caused Maroon Fire was detected May 16, the U.S. Forest Service decided to control and manage the fire rather than put it out. About 8,600 acres had burned as of this week.

Slug: BC-CNS Maroon Fire. 830 words. By Dylan Simard.

6 photos and a video available.


Coming of age: ASU golf coach Thurmond takes daughters on trips of a lifetime

PHOENIX – A book inspired a father’s promise to his daughters to see the world. In “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know,” Meg Meeker writes about the importance of fathers setting examples for their daughters over the course of their lives. ASU men’s golf coach Matt Thurmond made a promise to his three girls when they were young that they could pick anywhere in the world to visit for their 14th birthday. “It’s kind of a time in a girl’s life when it’s not so cool to be around your dad,” he said. “They go from being your best bud to not wanting to be around you.”

Slug: Sport-ASU Coach Trip. 500 words. By Sebastian Emanuel.

Photos available.


Report: Undocumented immigration into U.S., especially from Mexico, is down

PHOENIX – Undocumented immigration from Mexico into the U.S. has dropped so significantly over a decade that Mexicans no longer make up the majority of those living in the country illegally, according to a Pew Research Center report. Mexicans make up less than half the total undocumented immigrant population for the first time in more than half a century, the report says; the majority of undocumented immigrants come from Central America and Asia. According to the Pew research, undocumented immigrants in the U.S. labor force declined to 7.6 million in 2017 from 8.2 million in 2007.

Slug: BC-CNS Pew Immigration Report. 795 words. By Tim Royan.

1 photo, 1 graphic available.

A natural path: Mother chooses midwife over hospital for second birth

PHOENIX – When Katrina Huynh gave birth for the first time four years ago, she chose a modern tradition – a local hospital. But she chose a Phoenix birthing center when her daughter was born in October. Huynh, an executive at a health-insurance company in Arizona, said it was an unconventional and, for her, perhaps surprising choice. “The first time, I had a really great OB (obstetrician). It was actually a really hard process to go to a birthing center because I liked him so much,” she said. “It was almost a little bit scary, switching to the birthing center, especially coming from someone who is very science-based, medically based – that’s my education, that’s my career.” But Huynh became convinced it was the right move. She was seeking a more “naturopathic path” after she became pregnant again. She’s happy she did.

Slug: BC-CNS Midwives. A photo essay. 680 words. By Nicole Neri.

16 photos and captions available.

Turning children into animal caregivers at summer camp

PHOENIX – As summer camps kick off around the nation,  some young people attending animal summer camps in metro Phoenix are learning about the compassionate care of  animals. At the Animal Ed-ventures Summer Camps, it’s not just snuggling puppies all day.  The camps educate children about animal advocacy while working with animal professionals and kittens, dogs and rabbits. The organization society offers five summer camps for children of different age groups, with career interests ranging from animal first responders to opportunities in the veterinary field.

Slug: BC-CNS Animal Summer Camps. 315 words. By Abbagail Leon.

3 photos available.

Through injury, motherhood and doubt, Jessica McDonald ready to represent Arizona at World Cup

PHOENIX – Although more than 5,000 miles separate Phoenix and Reims, France, a few flights make the path reasonably simple for most. For Jessica McDonald, her journey to the pitch of Stade Auguste Delaune was anything but simple. McDonald, 31, is one of 23 athletes on the United States Women’s National Team that will represent their country in the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019. The U.S. will start its defense of the 2015 World Cup title on Tuesday in a Group F game against Thailand.

Slug: Sports-McDonald World Cup. 1,200 words. By Brady Vernon.

Photo available.

Efforts to protect butterflies, desert fish would get millions under Extinction Prevention Act

PHOENIX – Arizona is home to a number of species that are threatened by climate change and human activity. Under legislation proposed by Rep. Raúl Grijalva, Arizona fish and butterflies may get additional federal funds for conservation efforts. The Tucson Democrat, who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources, last month introduced the Extinction Prevention Act of 2019 to fund conservation efforts for butterflies in North America, fish that live in the desert Southwest, Pacific Island plants and freshwater mussels in the U.S.  The bill would authorize $5 million annually for each of the listed groups from 2020 until 2025. These funds would be distributed nationally or regionally to aid various preservation projects, including habitat restoration and research into at-risk populations.

Slug: BC-CNS Extinction Prevention Act. 1,100 words. By Melissa Robbins.

1 photo available.

Timely tips for staying safe during Arizona’s monsoon season

PHOENIX – The towering, often terrifying thunderstorms that signal the start of Arizona’s monsoon season typically  begin in mid-June and last through the end of September, but meteorologists say we’ll likely see a delayed start this year.  The good news is, that gives Arizonans more time to prepare for these annual storms.

Slug: BC-CNS Monsoon Safety.  855 words. By Amanda Slee and Tanner Puckett.

2 photos  and a video available.


Ducey, at White House, touts benefits of state’s universal licensing recognition law

WASHINGTON – Gov. Doug Ducey touted Arizona’s first-in-the-nation universal licensing recognition law at the White House, where it got a warm reception Thursday from the president and a group of other governors talking about workforce mobility. The law recognizes occupational licenses from other states in many cases, making it easier for people to start working in Arizona and helping boost the state’s economy, Ducey said. Trump praised the law at the White House panel on Workplace Mobility and Freedom, which included discussions on everything from skills training to child care for working parents. Contact Steve Crane with questions.

Slug: BC-CNS-Ducey Licenses. 520 words. By Miranda Faulkner.

Photos, video story available.

Pima official defends Obama-era clean-water rule that farmers call burdensome

WASHINGTON – A Pima County supervisor told lawmakers Wednesday that a proposal to limit the Waters of the United States rule would eliminate clean water protections for “rivers like the Santa Cruz, the Salt, the Gila.” Supervisor Richard Elias was the only one of three witnesses at a Senate hearing defending the Obama-era “WOTUS” rule against changes proposed by the Trump administration. But other witnesses, and GOP senators, said the changes are needed to replace the old rules that they said were confusing and imposed an unfair burden on farmers, ranchers and local officials who know best how to protect local waterways. Contact Steve Crane with questions.

Slug: BC-CNS-Water Fight. 790 words. By Miranda Faulkner.

Photos, video story available.

Hepatitis A outbreak reaches 8 Arizona counties

PHOENIX – Arizona health officials said a national outbreak of hepatitis A, which can cause nausea, jaundice and, in rare cases, kill, is sweeping through the state. Two people have died of the disease in Arizona. Since November, 353 cases have been reported, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Nearly 90 of those cases were reported in May in eight counties, including Maricopa County, the most populated county. The best ways to protect against the virus is through a vaccine and regular hand washing, according to DHS.

Slug: BC-CNS-Hep A Outbreak. 405 words. By Abbagail Leon.

1 photo and 1 video available.

Hung jury in trial of  No More Deaths volunteer charged with harboring  immigrants

TUCSON – The trial of No More Deaths volunteer Scott Warren ended Tuesday with a hung jury. Warren faced 20 years behind bars had he been convicted of conspiring to transport and harbor two undocumented immigrants.  U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins announced the hung jury after each jury member said  extra deliberations would not lead to a verdict. Warren was arrested Jan. 17, 2018, near Ajo. His trial began in May.

Slug: BC-CNS No More Deaths Trial. 725 words. By Melissa Robbins and Abbagail Leon.

1 photo available.

Supreme Court takes Arizona murderer’s appeal; could affect 20 death-row cases

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court said Monday it will hear the appeal of an Arizona death-row inmate who claims state courts wrongly used old law to reaffirm his death sentences for two 1991 murders. A ruling James McKinney’s case could affect as many as 19 other Arizona death-row cases, said his attorneys, who argue that a Supreme Court ruling since McKinney’s crimes require him to be resentenced by a jury. But the Arizona Attorney General’s Office argued that McKinney’s case was final when it was first affirmed in 1996 – before the ruling in question. Contact Steve Crane with questions.

Slug: BC-CNS-Murder Mitigation. 730 words. By Julian Paras.

File photos available.

Excessive heat, high fuel loads in Arizona have experts predicting wildfires through fall

PHOENIX — At least nine wildfires are burning around Arizona, only three of which were prescribed. Fire experts say high temperatures, combined with increased amounts of drying wild brush from the abnormally wet winter, are increasing the fire threat– particularly in southern Arizona, where the threat is above-average. Bryan Henry, assistant predictive services program manager with the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho,  said this year’s monsoon season may be delayed, meaning fire occurrences may continue further into the fall than usual. And the weather patterns that gave Arizona its extra-wet winter may also kick up heavier winds over the summer, which could exacerbate fire conditions.

Slug: BC-CNS Wildfires. 615 words. By Melissa Robbins.

1 photo available.

Cross-border shooting in Nogales likely to turn on ruling in Texas case

WASHINGTON – When a Border Patrol agent standing in Nogales shot and killed a teen in Mexico in 2012, federal courts said the family of the boy could sue the officer for violating their son’s constitutional rights. But when a Border Patrol agent in El Paso, Texas, shot and killed a Mexican teen in Ciudad Juarez in 2010, federal courts rejected the family’s lawsuit against the officer. The Supreme Court is now stepping in to decide who’s right. The high court said last week that it will consider the Texas case, and the ruling in that case is all but certain to determine the outcome of the Nogales case. Contact Steve Crane with questions.

Slug: BC-CNS-Border Shootings. 1,140 words. By Miranda Faulkner.

Photo, video story available.

VA expands veterans’ access to health care from private providers

PHOENIX – The more than 500,000 military veterans in Arizona now have greater access to health care options beyond those available from the Department of Veterans Affairs. A  nationwide program that took effect Thursday expands the circumstances under which veterans can access care outside the VA system. “It’s going to allow veterans to access the health care that they need faster,” said Army veteran James Denton, who’s among more than 72,000 veterans in Phoenix.

Slug: BC-CNS VA Changes.  720 words. By Dylan Simard.

2 photos available.


With guidance of ASU greats, Chun An Yu makes second consecutive appearance at US Open

PHOENIX – Chun An Yu knows the benefits of attending a school with a rich history of golf success. The Arizona State amateur is playing in his second straight U.S. Open. Last year at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, New York, he played a practice round with ASU product Jon Rahm. This year, he played and learned from former Sun Devils great Phil Mickelson as well as his good friend Cheng-tsung Pan, also from Chinese Taipei. He took their messages to heart and responding well to a slow start but still finished at 3 over.  He hopes to use the guidance of his ASU mentors to bounce back on Friday.

Slug: Sports Open ASU Yu. 1,000 words. By Sebastian Emanuel

Photo available.

These point guards might be in mix for Suns in NBA Draft

PHOENIX – The dichotomy within the NBA is obvious during this time of year. While the final two teams battle for ultimate supremacy in the NBA Finals, the remaining 28 franchises must wait for the league’s annual draft later in the month to inject a sense of optimism.  For the Phoenix Suns, who haven’t suited up for a June game in 13 seasons, this year’s draft holds even more significance as the franchise prepares to make its fourth straight top six pick. With starters Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton likely entrenched long-term at their positions, the onus now lies with the Suns’ front office to find complementary pieces to pair with its budding superstars. One glaring position of need is point guard, a spot the team likely will address June 20 in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Sports-Suns Guards Draft. About 1,000 words. By Jacob Rosenfarb.

File photos available.

Beer factor: Phoenix Rising’s recipe for success includes hops, barley

SCOTTSDALE – To Phoenix Rising, beer means wins. The team is a perfect 11-0-0 on Dollar Beer Nights, something that has drawn considerable attention. The lesser-heard story is that those Friday nights are just as much of a success off the field as they are on it. Since 2018, Rising averages almost 600 fans more per game compared to Saturdays. Both Dollar Beer Nights this year top the 2019 attendance list.

Slug: Sport-Rising Dollar Beers. 600 words. By Owain Evans.

Photos, graphics on team’s and player’s beer-night performance available.

Peaches and team: 7-year-old cancer patient finds support from all-girls baseball teammates

CHANDLER – With her head freshly shaved, and her friends providing a protective cocoon, 7-year-old Leighton Accardo looked down at her wrist and read the words on her bracelet. “You are strong. You are brave. You got this.” That moment on May 28 told the story of a young player battling her toughest opponent yet, and an all-girls baseball team there for perpetual support.

Slug: Sports-Peaches Baseball Cancer. 1,400 words. By Sebastian Emanuel.

Photos, video story available.