“Freakishly Warm” Arctic Weather Has Scientists Reconsidering Worst-Case Scenarios on Climate Change

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Scientists are expressing dismay over unprecedented warm temperatures in the Arctic. In recent days, temperatures at the North Pole have surged above freezing—even though the sun set last October and won’t rise again until later this month. On the northern tip of Greenland, a meteorological site has logged an unprecedented 61 hours of temperatures above freezing so far in 2018. The record-breaking temperatures are connected to an unusual retreat of sea ice in the sunless Arctic winter. Scientists suggest warming temperatures are eroding the polar vortex, the powerful winds that once cushioned the frozen north. The alarming heat wave is causing scientists to reconsider even their bleakest forecasts of climate change. According to a leaked draft of a scientific report by a United Nations panel of scientists, “The risk of an ice-free Arctic in summer is about 50 per cent or higher,” with warming of between 1.5 and 2.0 degrees Celsius. We speak with Jason Box, professor in glaciology at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland in Copenhagen.

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West Virginia Teachers Win Promise of Pay Raise, But Continue Strike over Soaring Healthcare Costs

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In West Virginia, public schools remain closed today, after the state’s teachers’ unions remained on strike over the high cost of health insurance. On Tuesday, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice agreed to boost teacher salaries by 5 percent in the first year of a new contract, but the teachers say the deal isn’t enough to offset skyrocketing premiums in the Public Employees Insurance Agency. Some 20,000 teachers and 13,000 school staffers say they’ll remain on strike until they win a better agreement on healthcare.

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A Message to Trump: Fund Background Checks and Public Health Research on Guns—Don’t Arm Teachers

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Two weeks after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, left 17 people dead, President Trump appears to have broken with the NRA and his Republican colleagues. At a televised White House meeting with lawmakers on Wednesday, Trump urged Republican and Democratic lawmakers to pass comprehensive gun control measures. At one point he accused Republican Senator Pat Toomey of being “afraid of the NRA.” After the meeting, NRA spokesperson Jennifer Baker said, “While today’s meeting made for great TV, the gun control proposals discussed would make for bad policy that would not keep our children safe. Instead of punishing law-abiding gun owners for the acts of a deranged lunatic, our leaders should pass meaningful reforms that would actually prevent future tragedies.” Joining us in Washington is Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. She wrote an open letter to Trump on Wednesday explaining her opposition to his push to arm teachers. Also in Washington is Kris Brown, co-president at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. And here in New York is Andy Pelosi, executive director of the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus.

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Headlines for March 1, 2018

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Democrat who lost Tuesday primary for Congress eyes August do-over

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Austen Bundy

Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018

Democrat who lost Tuesday primary for Congress eyes August do-over

WASHINGTON - Even before she lost the Democratic primary in the special election to replace former Rep. Trent Franks, R-Glendale, Brianna Westbrook had her sights set on a primary in August when the seat will be up again. Westbrook said Wednesday that her campaign has collected 800 of the more than 1,200 she is likely to need to get her name on the Democratic primary ballot this fall. "Since I started my campaign last year I was aiming for August, for the midterm election," she said. "But I was very pleased with last night's results, we've started a people movement." "Last night's results" were a loss in the 8th District Democratic primary to Hiral Tipirneni, who got 21,703 votes to Westbrook's 14,701, a split of about 60 to 40 percent, according to unofficial results from the Arizona Secretary of State's office. Tipirneni will face off against former state Sen. Debbie Lesko, who won the Republican primary by a comfortable margin over a crowded field of 12 candidates. Lesko took just under 36 percent of the vote, easily outdistancing her nearest challengers Phil Lovas and Steve Montenegro, also former state lawmakers, who won 23.88 and 23.82 percent of the vote, respectively. Lovas, Montenegro and Westbrook all conceded Tuesday night, but neither Lovas nor Montenegro returned calls Wednesday for comment on their plans. [caption id="attachment_84484" align="alignright" width="300"] Brianna Westbrook, a liberal, transgender Democrat in a conservative, Republican district, said she is ready to try another run for Congress this fall. (Photo courtesy Brianna Westbrook)[/caption] Tipirneni would only say Wednesday that she is focused for now on the April 24 special election against Lesko, which she thinks she can win with enough Democratic and independent support. "We hope that Brianna and her supporters can unite behind our campaign because that's the only way we'll beat Debbie Lesko," Tipirneni said. The April election is only to fill out the rest of the term for Franks, who resigned suddenly in December when the House Ethics Committee said it planned to launch an investigation into allegations he sexually harassed female staffers. Whoever wins the seat in April will have to stand for re-election this fall, with a primary in August for the November midterm elections. Most analysts expect that Lesko will win the special election in the west Valley district, where registered Republicans make up 41 percent of voters, compared to 24 percent for Democrats and 34 percent independent. "This is a solid Republican district," said David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report. "There's very little Democratic DNA there." Westbrook, a transgender, liberal activist who had not previously run for office, said that while she plans to run again, her current focus is on doing "everything I can to make sure Debbie Lesko doesn't win." Westbrook would not say whether she would still run in August if Tipirneni were to end up as the incumbent in August. "Right now I'm going to do what's best for the Democratic Party," she said. She said that when she started her campaign, she expected to be facing an August primary for the chance to run against an incumbent Franks. The special election came as a surprise, but her plans for a fall campaign have not changed. -Cronkite News video by Emily Richardson The Arizona Secretary of State's office has not set the deadline or the number of petition signatures that will be needed to get on the 8th District ballot this fall, but spokesman Matt Roberts said Wednesday that it will be more than the 1,230 signatures required for the 2016 election. Getting on the ballot is one thing. Winning for a Democrat in the solidly Republican district is another, analysts said. Republicans may have hurt themselves in the primary, when Montenegro was accused of an inappropriate relationship with a female staffer and Lesko was accused of improperly using state campaign funds for her congressional race. "A lot of eyes are already on this race so it could change things," said Leah Askarinam, political analyst for Inside Elections. But the charges in the primary alone were likely not enough to tip the district to a Democrat, unless they get much worse, experts said. They compared the district to the 18th District in Pennsylvania, which President Donald Trump won by 20 points in 2016, but where Democrats have started gaining in the polls ahead of a special election there. Still, Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, thinks there simply are not enough Democratic voters in the 8th District to rally on Election Day. "It will be interesting to see if any national third parties dump money into the Arizona race," Kondik said. "But it's highly unlikely it would translate into a Democrat winning because turnout is too low for them in that district." But Westbrook is not giving up. "We were outspent 10 to one, but we have national support," she said, vowing to collect 3,000 signatures by the end of May. Read more

Arizonans join hundreds paying respects to Billy Graham at Capitol

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Kyley Schultz

Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018

Arizonans join hundreds paying respects to Billy Graham at Capitol

WASHINGTON - Arizona residents Crystal Van Dyke and Jamie Wooldridge were among the first in line Wednesday morning to pay respects to famed evangelist Rev. Billy Graham as he was lying in honor in the Capitol Rotunda. Graham, known as "America's Pastor," died Feb. 21 at age 99 after decades of advising presidents and preaching to millions across the globe. He is the only religious leader to lie in honor at the Capitol and one of only a handful of civilians, the last being Rosa Parks in 2005. "For us, to celebrate his legacy was just something we felt compelled to do," said Wooldridge, who flew from Phoenix with Van Dyke for Graham. The two got in line at 9:30 a.m. so they could be among the first to go inside when doors opened to the public at 1 p.m. Viewings were scheduled to continue until 8 p.m. Wednesday before resuming on Thursday. For Van Dyke and Wooldridge, whose husbands are pastors at Phoenix's Christ Church of the Valley, Graham exemplified many of their church's core values: strong leadership and service to others. "Today's climate, you hear all these scandals going on and we just thought, you know, this was somebody who lived out his faith, who was about saving souls, sharing the good news and I just thought that's a rare opportunity to come out and pay your respects," Van Dyke said. "This is just a small gesture on our part of honoring others, but he reminded us to always look for the good in other people," she said. While hundreds of well-wishers with Bibles and U.S. flags waited outside the Capitol, Graham's family was inside receiving lawmakers for a ceremony that began in the Rotunda at 11 a.m. At that ceremony, President Donald Trump called Graham an "ambassador of Christ," praising the evangelist's dedication to "more than 200 million people" across the world who he preached to during his career. "We can only imagine the number of lives touched by the preaching and the prayers of Billy Graham - the hearts he changed, the sorrows he eased, and the joy he brought to so many. The testimony is endless," the president said, according to a White House transcript of his remarks. -Cronkite News video by Shelby Lindsay Trump called it fitting that Graham be honored "right here in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol, where the memory of the American people is enshrined." As she stood outside waiting to get in, Cheryl Rhoads said it was rare to honor someone who was not an elected official in the Rotunda, but that Graham's message was a "universal one that is now timeless." "Billy Graham certainly on a world stage had just as much of an impact as any elected official," her husband, Mark Rhoads, said. The Rhoadses were part of the crowd that was packed between barricades on First Street as they waited to pay their respects to Graham. Cheryl said their grandparents, Burton and Amanda Rhoads, were the deacons who gave Graham his first job as a pastor at Western Springs Baptist Church in Illinois. She said she was first moved by Graham when he appeared David Frost's show, and was amazed to learn that her family had known the reverend so well. "He would have dinner at our grandparents place on Sundays, other people in the family knew him pretty well," she said, displaying a picture of Graham and her grandparents at the pulpit of the Illinois church. Graham wrote more than 30 books and evangelized around the world with is radio and television "crusades." "People can read his books, watch his sermons on YouTube and hear his message now thanks to technology," Mark Rhoads said. Graham's body is scheduled to lie in honor in the Rotunda for another day before being taken back to his home state of North Carolina for a planned Friday funeral. Wooldridge said she was glad they were able pay their respects in person. "Billy Graham always lived a life for others, and I think what we can learn from him in the future is that is the way we should all live our lives," she said. "Always look for the good in other people and serve them well." Read more

Tucson woman honors historical figures

Read more of this story here from Arizona Sonora News Service by Emily Zinn/ Arizona Sonora News.

Shirley Pinkerton reenacting Annie Neil in front of an audience.

Somedays, Shirley Pinkerton is Larcena Pennington, the wife of a wealthy farmer in 1881. On other days she is Annie Neil, an Afro-Native American woman who fought her way up to becoming a business owner. Or somedays she dresses like as a miner as Pearl Hart, a stagecoach bandit in 1899.

For 12 years Pinkerton has reenacted women who have made an impact in Arizona’s history.

Pinkerton joined The Arizona Historical Society, an organization that keeps Arizona’s history alive through museums, reenactments and other educational performances.

She got involved in “walking tours,” which allow people to tour historic Tucson while being guided by someone dressed as a character. People are able to ask the actors questions about ‘their’ lives. Pinkerton was drawn to these walking tours, because she loves history and theatre.

“I was really nervous the first time,” said Pinkerton. She led tours while dressed as several historic women in Arizona and spoke in first person, as if she was that character. She believes it is important to maintain these women’s reputation throughout history.

Pinkerton learned about these women at The Arizona Historical Society and through hundreds of hours of research. “I wanted to become these women,” she said.

Some of the women who Pinkerton impersonates are Larcena Pennington, Annie Neil, and Pearl Hart, “I pick characters I really connect with” she said.

“The person who I connect most with is Larcena Pennington,” said Pinkerton.

Larcena Pennington (Jan. 10, 1837 – March 31, 1913):

After contracting malaria or “mountain fever” in 1860, Pennington and her husband rode up into the Santa Rita Mountains so that she could get better air, which was said to help the illness.

Once her husband left her alone, and she was captured by Apache in Globe. A search party found her crawling unclothed and wounded. The story made headlines and people became more cautious while traveling through the mountains.

Photo by: Arizona Historical Society

Pennington had malaria for the majority of life and lived to be 76 years old.

“I can relate mostly to Larcena” she said, “I think that she did not get enough credit for being such a survivor.”

Pennington made it her mission to allow women to enter the Arizona Historic Society and eventually became its president.  The society was originally exclusive to men.

“Women were only allowed to serve men cookies and tea,” said Pinkerton. “They then slowly allowed the women to actually participate in the organization.”

There are two cross streets named after Pennington, Pennington Street and Scott Street, which intersect in downtown Tucson. Pennington is Larcena’s maiden name and Scott is her second husband’s last name.

Annie Neil (1870 – 1950):

The second woman Pinkerton reenacts is Annie Neil. Neil was the head of a well-known hotel called the Mountain View Hotel. 

“It was very luxurious hotel and she hosted famous people like the Japanese Ambassador and Buffalo Bill,” said Pinkerton. “She even had to set up tents in the bank because it was so popular.”

Photo by: Arizona Historical Society

It was very rare for women to run their own business, and it was rarer for women of a minority to do so. As the daughter of a black and Native American mother who worked as a slave and a white father, Neil was able to communicate with two communities.

At times, people were discriminatory, but she found a good education at an all girls Catholic School in Tucson. She  became an extremely popular socialite around town.

Pinkerton carry on her story today in hope that women like Neil are not forgotten.

“Many of these women carved pathways for other women,” she said.

Pearl Hart (1871 – Dec 30, 1955):

 As the first woman-bandit in the Southwest, Hart became the first woman to put into Yuma prison. However, during her trial she argued with the judge saying that it was unfair to be tried by an all-male jury.

“She told the jury that she would not be tried by these people, because they were not her peers,” said Pinkerton. “They were all men!”

The judge let her walk. The next time she was caught, she was put in Tucson Jail, making her the only woman in the prison. She told the warden that she was pregnant. She was pardoned by the governor under the condition that she not return to Arizona ever again. 

Photo by: Arizona Historical Society

She used to dress in men’s close in order to disguise herself when stealing from stagecoaches. So, when Pinkerton reenacts Hart, she dresses in men’s clothes and puts on an act of a tough woman.

She says she loves reenacting Hart, because she is so ruthless and allows Pinkerton to actually feel as though she is Hart. “She was very bold for her time,” said Pinkerton.

Hart had a long record of stealing from stagecoaches, being an extremely good shooter and escaping from jail. And then robbing another stagecoach.

According to Pinkerton, being a criminal is not something to strive for, but Hart is the first recorded woman-bandit, making her extremely unique.

“I absolutely love reenacting, because I start to feel as though I become these women,” said Pinkerton.

Emily Zinn is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact her at emilyzinn@email.arizona.edu

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Catalina Foothills School District seeing increase in referrals for students vaping

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -. A letter sent out to parents of students that go to school in the Catalina Foothills Unified School District (CFUSD) stated that the district has seen, “A recent spike in incidents involving student vaping.” That spike being a 17 percent increase over the past year in the ... Read more