Cronkite News Digest for Monday, May 20

Here is the Cronkite News lineup for Monday, May 20. 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 these Dropbox links for stories from March and from April. Stories promised for today, along with photos and links to multimedia elements, will move on our client site at


Public health vs. parent choice: The vaccination debate in Arizona

PHOENIX – Health officials warn that vaccination rates are deteriorating across Arizona, risking public health as parents continue to opt out of immunizations, which in the past year fell further below the necessary rate to guarantee community protection against the outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases. The reason: Personal exemptions from vaccinations are on the rise, according to state data and a Cronkite News analysis. The analysis of Arizona Department of Health Services records shows kindergarten students with personal exemptions from all vaccines have doubled in four years and “herd immunity” is faltering in more than half of Arizona’s 15 counties, among other findings. While Arizona requires vaccinations of students in school, it allows religious exemptions for child care, preschool and Head Start programs and medical exemptions if vaccination could harm a child. But it is is also one of just 17 states to allow personal-belief exemptions, which require no reason be given. Medical exemptions have stagnated as personal exemptions have risen steadily.

Slug: BC-CNS-Vaccination Debate. 2,320 words. By Veronica Graff.

Searchable database of school, child care vaccination rates.

Photo, 11-minute video story, “herd immunity” explainer video available.

For homeless young adults, HomeBase offers structure, shelter and a way out

PHOENIX – From the street, HomeBase looks like a cross between an apartment complex and a college dorm, with its gray stucco walls, wrought-iron fencing and large central courtyard where residents gather to talk, laugh and smoke when they’re not in school or at work. It could easily be mistaken for one of the apartment buildings that have cropped up nearby. But to the residents here – some of the hundreds of unaccompanied homeless youth in Maricopa County on a given night – HomeBase more than just a place to live. The transitional shelter for 18- to 25-year-olds aims to get young people in that particularly vulnerable age group away from homeless adults, who might prey on them or drag them into a life of drug and alcohol addiction, and give them the structure and support to get back on their feet. People like 18-year-old Clay Hollinshed.

Slug: BC-CNS-Home Base. 1,870 words. By Lindsay Walker.

5 photos available.


Lack of funds makes it more difficult for refugee women in Arizona to set up new lives

PHOENIX – In the middle of a global refugee crisis, the federal government is granting less money than ever before to resettlement agencies, which correlates to the number of refugees the agencies resettle. The number of refugees admitted into the United States is the lowest since the establishment of the Refugee Act of 1980. Resettlement is especially difficult for refugee women, who often lack education and skills other than raising their children. The nonprofit Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest offers a variety of services for these women.

Slug: BC-CNS-Refugee Funding. 1,965 words. By Molly Stellino.

2 photos available.

Border Patrol says rescue beacons offer distressed migrants aid; advocates say they’re not enough

SOUTHERN ARIZONA – Migrants who find themselves in distress can call for help on a rescue beacon, which activates the strobe and sends a radio signal to Border Patrol agents. Border Patrol officials say these beacons, which have been used for nearly 30 years, help save lives and negate the need for humanitarian efforts by volunteer groups, such as No More Deaths. Humanitarians, however, say the beacons aren’t enough, and they promise to continue to leave food, water and other aid for migrants in danger of dehydration or other exposure-related illnesses in the punishing desert.

Slug: BC-CNS-Rescue Beacons. 2,800 words. By Nicole Ludden.

2 photos available.

Repatriating remains of those found in desert is long, expensive process

TUCSON – Hundreds of families who have lost loved ones trying to cross the Sonoran Desert have to navigate the long, expensive process of repatriating the remains by telephone. Each year, dozens of migrant remains are recovered from the Sonoran Desert by the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office after discovery by the Border Patrol, local residents or volunteers with several organizations that routinely search the unforgiving landscape of southern Arizona.

Slug: BC-CNS-Remains. 3,300 words.

6 photos available.

Cronkite Borderlands Project is a multimedia reporting program in which students cover human rights, immigration and border issues in the U.S. and abroad in both English and Spanish. This year’s project looked at Venezuelan refugees living and trying to cope in Peru. (We will publish several more stories in the coming weeks.)


Fare enough: Uber, Lyft surge ahead of cabs in campaign expense reports

WASHINGTON – The initial public offering of Uber shares this month fell short of expectations, but there’s at least one audience where the ride-sharing service dominates: members of Congress. Federal Election Commission reports for the 2017-2018 election cycle show that congressional campaigns spent $2,171,381.99 on rides and on services like UberEats. Expenses on ride-sharing services far outstripped traditional taxicab trips, with campaigns listing more than 44,000 entries for Uber during the period and another 15,000 for Lyft, compared to only 6,500 for taxis. Arizona lawmakers were part of the trend, racking up a total of $20,094.13 in Uber and Lyft fares during the cycle, compared to just one taxi fare.

Slug: BC-CNS-Legislative Lyft. 665 words. By Andrew Howard.

1 file photo available.


Giants’ Tony Watson embraces special connection with civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr.

SCOTTSDALE – “We Shall Overcome” reads the headstone at Rose Hill Cemetery in Shenandoah, Iowa. “Thomas E. Offenburger, 1934-1986.” The marker is a reminder for San Francisco Giants reliever Tony Watson and his family of the small role his great uncle played in the civil rights movement. “It’s a piece of family history that everyone’s held onto,” said Watson, 33, who was born one month before Offenburger died. “I think it’s very cool, very significant.”

Slug: BC-CNS-Giants MLK. 665 words. By Squire Harrington

2 photos available.