Cronkite News Digest for Friday, Dec. 3

Here is your Cronkite News lineup for Friday, Dec. 3. If you have questions on news stories from the Phoenix bureau, please contact Executive Editor Christina Leonard at 602-361-5893 or, while questions about stories from our Washington bureau should go to Steve Crane at 202-684-2398 or Sports story questions can be directed to Paola Boivin at, while audio story questions can be answered by Sadie Babits at 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 for access. Stories promised for today, along with photos and links to multimedia elements, will post to our client site at


‘Remain in Mexico’ migrant policy resumes, even as feds vow to end it

WASHINGTON – The Trump-era “remain in Mexico” policy will resume Monday, after the Mexican government agreed to accept migrants who are turned away at the border and forced to wait in Mexico for their hearing. The court-ordered renewal of the Migrant Protection Protocols comes even though the Department of Homeland Security moved this summer to end what it called a flawed and unfair program – and vowed to continue working to end the program it is now being forced to reinstate. Announcement of the reinstatement came late Thursday, after the Mexican government said it would accept migrants but demanded safeguards including access to legal services and swift hearings and protections for migrants’ safety and security.

Slug: BC-CNS-MPP Returns. 930 words. By Diannie Chavez and Kimberly Silverio-Bautista.

Photo available.

Fewer Christmas trees in Oregon means fewer trees in metro Phoenix

PHOENIX – Extreme weather in the Pacific Northwest and supply chain bottlenecks everywhere have left Christmas tree lots across the country scrambling this holiday season. Most U.S. lots get their Douglas and Noble firs – among the most popular Christmas trees – from the Northwest, and many Arizona lots get theirs specifically from Oregon, where persistent drought, rising temperatures and wildfires last summer have resulted in fewer trees. The shortages mean higher prices, but local tree retailers said they are determined to have enough stock for everyone to put some holiday green in their home.

Slug: BC-CNS-Tree Shortage. 410 words. By Raven Payne.

Photo, video story available.


Soaring to new heights: Benjamin sees field, finds traction in second Cardinals season

PHOENIX – Throughout much of the 2020 NFL season, Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury wasn’t optimistic about the progress of rookie running back Eno Benjamin, who struggled to adjust to the demands and pressures that come with the professional game. That all changed when the former Arizona State standout showed up to training camp in the summer. His focus, attention level and commitment provided a springboard for Benjamin’s success.

Slug: Sports-Cardinals Benjamin. 840 words. By Mac Friday.

2 photos available.

After battling Valley fever, Highland QB Dayley finds unlikely path to football success

PHOENIX – Gage Dayley was so ill, he struggled to simply walk down the street. These days, Dayley is the senior quarterback for the Highland Hawks, the No. 1 seed in Arizona’s 6A division who tonight play fourth-seeded Red Mountain in the AIA semifinals. But he’s not that far removed from the days when he could barely rise from bed.

Slug: Sports-Dayley Valley Fever. 860 words. By Henry Schleizer.

2 photos, 1 video available.

Kingsbury speculation, Don Brown departure: Football coaching carousel impacts Arizona

PHOENIX – Conference champions have yet to be crowned, but as the college football coaching carousel spins wildly, many with Arizona ties are caught up in the whirlwind. The biggest news dropped Sunday, when it was announced that Lincoln Riley had agreed to leave Oklahoma to take the head coaching job at USC, one of ASU’s rivals in the Pac-12 South. From there, Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury’s name surfaced as a possible replacement in Norman, and University of Arizona defensive coordinator Don Brown took the head coaching job at UMass.

Slug: Sports-NCAA Coaching Carousel. 560 words. By Dylan Wilhelm.

1 photo available.


Delivering Hope: How those who’ve been there are fighting homelessness

PHOENIX – The number of people experiencing homelessness in Arizona and across the U.S. has risen in past years, and experts worry that many more Americans will find themselves without a roof over their heads because of the economic effects of the pandemic and the recent end to the federal eviction moratorium. Every day in Maricopa County, 14 people hit the streets to help as part of the Phoenix Rescue Mission’s Hope Coach Mobile Outreach program. And from July through October, they helped move 123 people into housing.

Slug: BC-CNS Hope Coach for Homeless, 620 words. By Miles Green and Kevin Hurley.

2 videos, 2 audio clips and 5 photos available.

Let the party begin: WM Phoenix Open’s rowdy No. 16 hole returning to full decibel levels

PHOENIX – At PGA Tour events, golf fans are typically expected to be quiet and respectful. However, the Waste Management Phoenix Open breaks that standard at TPC Scottsdale’s famous – and infamous – 16th hole. The raucous par-3 stadium hole, enclosed by bleachers and skyboxes, will return to full capacity and decibel levels for the 2022 event after fan access was limited in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Slug: Sports-WM Phoenix Open prep, 650 words. By Nick Zeller-Singh.

3 photos available.

‘Either shut up or lose your whole career’: Arizona coach among those calling out NWSL’s toxic culture

PHOENIX – For years, a culture of silence allowed systemic abusive behavior, harassment and racism to fester within the National Women’s Soccer League. Now, the league’s current players – along with former standouts like University of Arizona soccer coach Becca Moros – are using their voices to bring the harmful behavior to light. “What’s bred that culture of silence is that fear and that you can either shut up or lose your whole career,” Moros said. “The only power you have is to walk away.”

Slug: Sports-Soccer Silence. 1,414 words. By Abby Sharpe.

Photo available.

It’s beginning to look a lot like a post-COVID Christmas for retailers

WASHINGTON – In the second holiday season of the pandemic era, goods may cost more, but Americans have more money to spend – and they appear to be eager to spend it. That’s true in Arizona, where retailers say the holiday shopping season is already in full swing and residents are expected to spend anywhere from $590 to $1,558 on their shopping, according to one recent estimate. And while Black Friday remains popular, experts say many shoppers started opening their wallets months ago. One expert said more the halfway point in the shopping season than “the kickoff to the season that it used to be.” Contact Steve Crane with questions.

Slug: BC-CNS-Holiday Spending. 870 words. By Simon Williams.

3 photos available.

COVID relief funds used to build homeless shelter in west Phoenix for ages 55 or older

PHOENIX – The nonprofit CASS is creating Project Haven 2, a homeless shelter for a homeless shelter for ages 55 and up – an age group with rising rates of homelessness. This indicates a new strategy that includes smaller, specialized shelters throughout the Valley. The project is supported by federal COVID-19 relief funds and expects to open its doors next year.

Slug: BC-CNS-Homeless Shelter for Seniors, 705 words. By Balin Overstolz-McNair.

3 photos and 1 video available.

BYU’s Shaylee Gonzales: basketball standout, social influencer, NIL beneficiary

PHOENIX – Shaylee Gonzales is the ultimate competitor. Her parents were Division I athletes at Grand Canyon University. She is the oldest of five children – all basketball players. Her journey in basketball? Accomplished and unique – a testament to the standout from Mesquite High School in Gilbert, who dedicated her energy to building a basketball and social media empire. The 21-year-old BYU redshirt sophomore has a combined following of roughly 417,000 people across the Tik Tok (210,000), YouTube (110,000) and Instagram (77,000) platforms. On the court, Gonzales was named the West Coast Conference Co-Player of the Year in 2021, and led the BYU women’s basketball team to the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

Slug: Sports-Shaylee Gonzales, 1,198 words. By Michael Baribault & Gabrielle Ducharme.

File photo available.

Daylight saving time harms adolescents’ health, experts warn

LOS ANGELES – Earlier sunrises and shorter days mark the end of daylight saving time for the majority of the country, and experts warn your health and well-being could take a toll if you’re not in Arizona or Hawaii, which don’t change their clocks.

Slug: BC-CNS Daylight Saving Dangers, 770 words. By David Bloom.


Hundreds rally as Supreme Court justices weigh future of abortion rights

WASHINGTON – Protesters from both sides of the abortion debate rallied outside the Supreme Court Wednesday as justices considered a strict Mississippi law that could lead the court to reverse its longstanding abortion-rights rulings. Justices appeared sympathetic to the Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks, a violation of the court’s current standard that guarantees a woman’s right to an abortion up to 26 weeks. It’s not clear if the court will restrict or reverse its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling – but Arizona is one of 26 states with abortion bans still on the books should Roe be overturned, according to one report. Contact Steve Crane with questions.

Slug: BC-CNS-Roe Row. 980 words. By Ulysse Bex.

5 photos, video story available.

Sen. Kelly urged to back Save Oak Flat Act protecting Indigenous site

PHOENIX – A group showed up at Sen. Mark Kelly’s office Thursday morning to encourage the Arizona Democrat to support the Save Oak Flat Act, which would protect sacred indigenous land from development by a huge underground copper mine.

Slug: BC-CNS Oak Flat Protest, 375 words. By Brenda Rivas.

2 photos available.

Photos: After acquittal, Kyle Rittenhouse opponents, supporters rally at ASU

PHOENIX – Several left-wing groups rallied Wednesday to demand that Arizona State University deny enrollment to Kyle Rittenhouse – although ASU officials say Rittenhouse isn’t enrolled and hasn’t applied for admission. They were met by supporters of Rittenhouse, who was acquitted last month in the killing of two people and the wounding of a third during Black Lives Matter protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020. During his trial, he said he was “studying nursing” online at ASU. He later said in an interview that he intends to enroll for in-person classes at the school.

Slug: BC-CNS Rittenhouse Protest Photos, copy block. By Ella Ho Ching.

6 photos available.

Rittenhouse rejected, respected by feuding factions on ASU campus

WASHINGTON – He is not currently enrolled in any classes or present on campus, but Kyle Rittenhouse is already casting a long shadow across Arizona State University. Rittenhouse, acquitted of all charges this month in the shooting deaths of two people and the injury of a third during 2020 protests in Wisconsin, has said he was an online ASU student who planned to enroll at the school for in-person. A number of left-wing groups have scheduled a rally Wednesday calling on the university to deny enrollment to the “high-profile right-wing fascist icon.” Conservative organizations have come to his defense, accusing opponents of harassment and “mob rule.” Contact Steve Crane with questions.

Slug: BC-CNS-Rittenhouse Rebuff. 770 words. By Simon Williams.

‘Q-Shaman’ gets new lawyer, sets up likely appeal of Jan. 6 guilty plea

WASHINGTON – Jacob Chansley, the Arizona man who pleaded guilty to his role in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, switched attorneys Monday, laying the groundwork for a possible appeal of his plea and 41-month sentence. Chansley’s decision to replace Albert Watkins with John Pierce comes less than two weeks after he expressed remorse at his sentencing hearing, telling a federal district judge that if the attack happened again, he would “try with all of my heart and soul to stop people.” In Pierce, Chansley gets an attorney who claims to represent more than 20 Jan. 6 defendants and who for a time represented Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, who recently criticized Pierce’s handling of his case. Contact Steve Crane with questions.

Slug: BC-CNS-QShaman Attorney. 750 words. By Kimberly Silverio-Bautista.

2 file photos, graphic available.

‘Stay the course’: Ex-surgeon general recommends vigilance in the face of omicron variant

PHOENIX – Dr. Richard Carmona, a former surgeon general who advises the  Department of Health Services on COVID-19, speaks about the omicron variant and recommends a continuation of current mitigation policy – get vaccinated, get tested, wear a mask and limit social interactions outside your bubble.

Slug: BC-CNS Carmona COVID Advice, 475 words. By Michael Patton.

Arizona jobless rate continues steady decline, workforce keeps growing

WASHINGTON – Arizona’s unemployment rate continued its steady decline in October, falling to 5.2%, down a full percentage point from just two months earlier and almost one-third of the state’s pandemic high, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics data. It was the fourth straight month of a falling jobless rate for the state, even as the overall workforce has continued growing. The 3.65 million people in the Arizona workforce in October was the most in the state since 1976, the first year for which BLS numbers are available. Contact Steve Crane with questions.

Slug: BC-CNS-Unemployment Falls. 640 words. By Ulysse Bex.

File photo, graphic available.


NASCAR meets esports: Tournament provides unique opportunity for Boys & Girls Club members

PHOENIX – Phoenix Raceway was home to more than competition on the one-mile oval during NASCAR Championship weekend. The racetrack partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley to host a first-of-its-kind Rocket League tournament. The two organizations also joined forces with Zelus Esports to allow gamers to compete for cash and other prizes.

Slug: Sports-Boys & Girls Club ESports, 800 words. By Nick Zeller-Singh.

Photos available.

Are Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors destined for playoff classic?

PHOENIX – Last Tuesday’s matchup between the Phoenix Suns and the Golden State Warriors lived up to its billing, as the shorthanded Suns extended their winning streak to 17 and defeated the top-seeded Warriors. Are these two franchises destined for a playoff classic?

Slug: Sports-Suns Streak. 1,120 words. By Kenneth Manoj.

File photo available.

Streaks collide in Valley as Suns play host to lead-leading Warriors

PHOENIX – All streaks must come to an end eventually, and one will tonight when the Suns take the NBA’s longest winning streak – 16 straight – into the Footprint Center against the Golden State Warriors, the team with the league’s best record and a seven-game streak of their own.

Slug: Sports-Suns Warriors Preview, 890 words. By Kenneth Manoj.

2 photos available.

State’s best prospects put the Arizona in Arizona Fall League

MESA – After a one-year absence courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Arizona Fall League made its return to six spring training stadiums around metro Phoenix this year, and it brought a lot of familiar faces home to Arizona. The six-week league features top prospects from around baseball, including several this year with ties to the Grand Canyon State. Few of them were more impressive than Toronto Blue Jays prospect Graham Spraker, who was born in Tucson and played at Mountain View High in nearby Marana.

Slug: Sports-Arizona Fall Leaguers, 801 words. By Zach Larson.

2 photos available.

ASU fraternities, sororities team with Coyotes to raise awareness of sexual assault 

GLENDALE – College campuses are among the nation’s most dangerous places when it comes to sexual assault, so the Arizona Coyotes and Arizona State University’s Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Panhellenic Association (PHA) recently teamed up to raise awareness of the issue at “Greek Life Night” during a Coyotes game at Gila River Arena.

Slug: Sports-Greek Life Night, about 540 words. By Zach Larson.

2 photos available.

Cat’s out of the bag: Edwards will return as ASU football coach

TEMPE – Sun Devil football fans had a couple of things to be thankful for this week. The Territorial Cup will stay in Tempe for another year after Arizona State beat Arizona, 38-15. and coach Herm Edwards confirmed that he will be back in 2022. An NCAA inquiry and second-half swoon in Edwards’ fourth season in Tempe raised questions about his future.

Slug: Sports-ASU FB Edwards Returns, 759 words. By Prince James Story.

photo available.

FCS playoffs extend football season for ‘a lot of ballers’ from Arizona

WASHINGTON – None of Arizona’s three Division I football teams will compete for a national championship this fall, but 25 players with Arizona ties will still have a shot at a title. Ten of the 24 teams in the 2021 NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoffs that begin Saturday have players on their rosters who are either Arizona natives or spent part of their college careers playing in the state. The number of Arizonans in the post-season does not come as a surprise to Salpointe Catholic alumnus Taylor Powell, who now plays for Sacramento State. “There’s a lot of ballers out there for sure,” he said of Arizona. Contact Steve Crane with questions.

Slug: Sports-Arizona FCS. 750 words. By Simon Williams.

2 photos available.