Tucson teen reaches finals before bowing out of National Geographic Bee

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Bryan Pietsch

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Tucson teen reaches finals before bowing out of National Geographic Bee

WASHINGTON - Gayatri Kaimal grinned and immediately scribbled down an answer when she heard the question: What species of cactus has a national monument named for it at the U.S.-Mexico border?Then again, the Tucson middle schooler may have had a homefield advantage over the other contestants in the final rounds of the National Geographic Bee here Wednesday."I knew it right away," Gayatri, 13, said of the organ pipe cactus, namesake for the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Ajo, while most of the other contestants guessed the better-known symbol of Arizona, the saguaro cactus.It was that type of quick thinking that landed the BASIS Tucson North seventh-grader in the final six of the competition, which began with students around the country last year who were narrowed down to the 54 who squared off in Washington this week for the 30th annual bee.Those 54 represented every state and the District of Columbia, the Pacific territories, the Atlantic territories and Department of Defense schools. Rounds spanned over several days, until 10 contestants were left standing Wednesday in a crowded Washington, D.C. auditorium full of nervous parents and antsy siblings.Seated behind desks that looked like they came from a TV game show, host Mo Rocca alternated between questions to individual students and questions to the group as a whole, for which contestants were given 12 seconds to jot down an answer.Questions covered the globe - literally and figuratively - with students asked everything from the official state crustacean of Louisiana to the Viking settlement that would become Dublin to an African geologic feature that spits acid."I don't think any of the questions were extremely hard," Gayatri said after Wednesday's competition. "It was just all the pressure on you to perform."But there were also less stressful moments, including one intermission when contestants asked Rocca trivia questions about their home states. Gayatri stumped Rocca by asking him which Indian reservation is located inside another reservation, referring to the Hopi reservation that is surrounded by the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona.Gayatri said preparing for the bee took a lot of effort, a lot of studying and a lot of time in front of the computer doing Quizlets.Erin Paradis, head of school at BASIS Tucson North, said students and teachers at the school were "really proud" that Gayatri was a finalist in the national competition."She's the type of student who makes teaching truly worthwhile," Paradis said in an emailed statement after the bee. "She's pretty amazing and obviously has a unique sort of determination and mettle."Gayatri made it through the first cut of the final 10 to be one of six remaining. But when she realized that she would be one point shy of making the next cut, to the final three, she put her head in her hands.Regardless of the outcome, she said the process taught her about hard work and helped her build a strong work ethic. She got an all-expenses-paid trip to the nation's capital and a $500 prize for being a top-10 finalist.And Gayatri made national news by being just one of four girls among the 54 competing this week, and one of only two who made it to the top 10."It's really cool to make it to the national level, especially since I'm a girl and there aren't too many girls in the competition," she said. Read more

After years of trying, Congress gives ‘right to try’ drug bill final OK

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Pat Poblete

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

After years of trying, Congress gives ‘right to try’ drug bill final OK

WASHINGTON - When Brophy College Preparatory student Diego Morris needed a life-saving experimental treatment that was not available in the United States, he and his family did the only thing they could do.They moved to London for a year where the drug regimen had already been approved."It was time-sensitive," said a cancer-free Morris, now 17. "I just had a major surgery and I needed this treatment to coincide with my chemotherapy."Morris could have benefited from a law he and others have championed for years that would give patients with terminal diagnoses access to experimental drugs that could save their lives.It took two years of legislative effort, but the House late Tuesday gave final approval to the so-called "right-to-try" legislation, which is now headed to President Donald Trump for his signature. The bill passed the Senate last year and the final 250-169 House vote was celebrated Tuesday by lawmakers and by families of patients who had been pushing for the bill.Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, two of the leading advocates for the bill, said they are confident Trump will sign the bill into law, bringing hope to patients with terminal diagnoses.[caption id="attachment_17739" align="alignleft" width="350"] Diego Morris, in a photo from 2016, when he testified to a Senate panel in support of right-to-try legislation. (Photo by Wafa Shahid/Cronkite News)[/caption]"Have you ever seen a pharmaceutical ad on TV today that says, 'Death may occur in some occasions'? We're saying death will occur almost 100 percent of the time for these people unless they have a chance," Biggs said."They want that chance. That is what this is about," he said.Forty states, including Arizona, now have right-to-try laws on the books. But the federal legislation was slowed by concerns that it would lead to exploitation of vulnerable patients who would seize at unrealistic hopes and suffer further damage in the process.Morris said he does not understand the opposition to the measure. If it weren't for the experimental treatment he received, he says he would have died of cancer."You have to make an informed decision, and it should be up to you and your doctor," Morris said. "If you and your doctor decide an experimental treatment is worth it or can help, it's your decision to go through with it."When he was 11, Morris was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a bone tumor that required countless rounds of chemotherapy and limb-salvage surgery that replaced part of his femur and knee with titanium prosthetics. But after he got the prosthetics, he still needed help to beat the cancer."My parents were made aware of an experimental treatment that was approved in Europe and around the world, but didn't pass in the U.S.," Morris said in a phone interview Wednesday.His family tried everything, including trying to get him the treatment at home, but the administrative process for clearance to try the drug was taking too long. So the family moved to London for a year to get Diego the medicine he needed.After moving back to the U.S., Morris became an advocate for giving patients access to experimental medicine, testifying before Congress and serving as honorary chairman of a Goldwater Institute initiative to pass the right-to-try ballot initiative in Arizona."I really wanted to help," he said. "I think it's important for American families to have the right to save their own lives." Read more

Phoenix City Council votes to sue over citizenship question on 2020 Census

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Rachel Beth Banks and Rebecca Spiess

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Phoenix City Council votes to sue over citizenship question on 2020 Census

PHOENIX – The City Council voted Tuesday to join multiple cities and states in a lawsuit to prevent the federal government from including a citizenship question on the 2020 Census questionnaire. The measure to allow the city manager to include Phoenix in the lawsuit was approved 7-2, with Councilmembers Sal DiCiccio and Jim Waring opposing. City officials stressed that an undercount could cost Phoenix millions of dollars in federal assistance if undocumented residents were afraid to participate in the Census. The Commerce Department in March announced that the citizenship question, which will specifically ask whether an individual is in the United States legally, will be reinstated on the 2020 Census. It argued that the question, which was present on all decennial censuses from 1820-1950, will permit the government to ascertain accurate data on the amount of adults eligible to vote nationwide.

'The consequences of a citizenship question'

The majority of the Phoenix City Council members agreed the negative consequences of such a question far outweigh the benefits. Councilwoman Kate Gallego argued the question will lead to an underreported population.“The additional question was added to intimidate people into not participating in the Census,” she said.[related-story-right box-title="Related story" link="https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/2018/03/27/census-plan-to-ask-citizenship-status-on-2020-form-sparks-backlash/" image="https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/censusbag-800.jpg" headline="Census plan to ask citizenship status on 2020 form sparks backlash"]Also, Councilman Michael Nowakowski said that from an economic standpoint, the city can’t afford to allow the question to be asked.He stated the data from the undocumented community aid in “economic development and growth in our city,” and paves the path for correct tracking of businesses. Since 1980, the U.S. Census Bureau has asserted that citizenship questions reduce the rates of response.Councilwoman Debra Stark concurred.“I agree with the Census Bureau,” she said. “I think when you ask these types of questions you’re going to reduce response rates so I’m not sure we would get accurate data, but we do need that data because as we grow we want to make sure we’re represented and we’re represented correctly.” Deputy City Manager Karen Peters, citing Census Bureau figures, said about 13 percent of Phoenix’s population are undocumented.For each person overlooked in the census, the city would lose $350 in state funding and $150 in federal funding each year. This would lead to a loss of $170 million annually, Peters said. Mayor Greg Stanton said the numbers were conservative. “It will result in an undercount beyond even the numbers that you have indicated,” he said, addressing the council. “Which is bad for a lot of different reasons, not just the money, not just the political representation. We have to know who’s in our community, who’s in our country, so we have to do an accurate census.” If Phoenix residents are undercounted, affected programs could include Section 8 housing assistance, Head Start/Early Head Start and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides free food to Arizona families and individuals.Resources aimed at law enforcement also could be affected by an undercount. DiCiccio pushed back, however, saying the city was missing an opportunity to gain valuable data about its population. “It’s still amazing to me the scare tactics that are being put out there ... that it’s going to drive people away, it’s going to do all these bad things,” he said. “If we don’t have the right stats in front you, you can never make the right decision.”

‘Pending lawsuits’

Since federal government officials announced the inclusion of the citizenship question, California and New York have sued the federal government. Former New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman filed the bigger of the lawsuits, which includes 17 states, seven cities and the District of Columbia.[related-story-right box-title="Related story" link="https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/2018/04/11/hispanic-caucus-vows-to-stop-census-citizenship-question-at-all-costs/ " image="https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/counttorres-800.jpg" headline="Hispanic Caucus vows to stop Census citizenship question ‘at all costs’"]The Phoenix City Council discussed joining this particular lawsuit, though the final decision will be up to City Manager Ed Zuercher. Waring argued that because the outcome of the lawsuits would apply to the entire country, joining one would be an unnecessary expense for the city. “Why spend money we don’t have to to produce exactly the same outcome either way?” he asked. “I guess it’s a symbolic gesture for some people, but that’s all it is. I think the value of that in this case is zero.” Councilmembers Kate Gallego and Daniel Valenzuela – both of whom are candidates to replace Stanton, who is stepping down to run for Congress – pushed to have the matter brought to a vote during Tuesday’s meeting. “We have a unique population, and unique demographics,” Gallego said.“We need to be at the table as this lawsuit moves forward to make sure that the people of Phoenix are accurately represented.”Valenzuela agreed.“At the end of the day, it’s doing the right thing. The Constitution says that everyone needs to be counted in this Census, whether or not they are a citizen. That’s our Constitution.”Connect with us on Facebook. Read more

On the Vanguard — Lisa DeVille ‘Zinke Visit to North Dakota’

Read more of this story here from CENSORED NEWS by Brenda Norrell.

.US Secretary Visit to North DakotaBy Lisa DeVille, Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Censored NewsMembers of POWER requested to have a meeting with Secretary Zinke while he was here in ND. We also requested that allotted landowners have an opportunity to voice our concerns because of the federal government has stated that they want to work with tribes on rights of way for development. Read more

More than 4,000 acres of land in northern Arizona to be auctioned for gas and oil exploration

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Tom Maxedon

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

More than 4,000 acres of land in northern Arizona to be auctioned for gas and oil exploration

PHOENIX – A Trump administration plan calls for auctioning off about 4,200 acres of public land for oil and gas development in northern Arizona, but environmental groups are poised to block the measure in court.It’s been more than five months since the White House rolled back environmental protections for oil and gas leasing on public lands.Taylor McKinnon, public lands campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity, said his group is already involved in federal lawsuits to protect public lands from oil and gas exploration.“What we’re seeing in this instance is the Bureau of Land Management, as we’re seeing all over the country, skipping environmental and public review when holding this lease sale and conveying development rights to industry. And that’s dangerous,” he said.The center said the land straddles the Little Colorado River, and drilling and fracking in the area would threaten to deplete and pollute groundwater.McKinnon said the administration is ignoring federal law. “The National Environmental Policy Act requires federal decisions, like oil and gas leasing, be subject to approval under that law. In this case they’re skipping that step,” he said.Lawsuits already have been filed by his organization against BLM in Ohio and Colorado, specifically related to fracking. McKinnon said his organization is prepared to do the same in Arizona.Trump has billed his energy strategy as part of his promise to bring U.S. “energy dominance” to the rest of the world, according to Time.This story is part of Elemental: Covering Sustainability, a new multimedia collaboration between Cronkite News, Arizona PBS, KJZZ, KPCC, Rocky Mountain PBS and PBS SoCal.Follow us on Twitter. Read more

NFL awards 2023 Super Bowl to Arizona

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Jack Harris

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

NFL awards 2023 Super Bowl to Arizona

PHOENIX – For the fourth time, the Super Bowl will come to Arizona. The NFL on Wednesday announced that Super Bowl LVII, to be played in 2023, will return to the Arizona Cardinals’ home field, University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. It will be the third time the venue has hosted the event; Super Bowl XXX, in 1996, was played in Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. The unanimous vote by the league’s owners came as a surprise to many observers, who thought Las Vegas, which is building a stadium to accommodate the Raiders’ move to the city, would get the big game.The proposal was the first to be approved under the league's new process for awarding the Super Bowl, where the NFL “approaches a prospective bidder to put together a proposal” instead of putting multiple markets through a traditional bidding process, NFL.com reported. “We’re thrilled by the unanimous vote,” Arizona Cardinals president Michael Bidwill told NFL.com. “And we look forward to making this the most fan-friendly Super Bowl in the history of Super Bowls, and bigger and better than any Super Bowl. So we’re excited to host it.” Arizona last hosted the event in 2015, when the New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks, 28-24, in a game remembered for Patriots’ defensive back Malcolm Butler’s iconic goal line interception late in the fourth quarter. Arizona native and Arizona State University alumnus Zach Miller was a member of that Seahawks squad. He told Cronkite News this week that having the event return to his home state is great. “As often as it can be here … it makes sense,” he said. “It’s a great city. You see that with all the spring training fans that want to come here. It’s awesome to see as a player.” [related-story-right box-title="Related story" link="https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/2017/04/26/mega-events-arizona-final-four/" image="https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/handlan1-800.jpg" headline="Valley leaders reflect on successful run of mega events"]The 2023 game will be the fourth time the Phoenix area has hosted the Super Bowl. Only the Miami, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Tampa areas have hosted the game more often. No market will host the game more often than Phoenix from 2008 to 2023. “It is a testament to the stellar reputation that our community has earned for staging world class events, and there are none bigger than the Super Bowl,” Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee Chairman David Rousseau said in a statement on azcardinals.com. “We clearly have the facilities, the infrastructure and most importantly the people to execute an event that has proven to have such a profoundly positive impact on our region.” Gov. Doug Ducey spoke at the Wednesday press conference announcing the decision, calling it “fantastic news for the state of Arizona.” Super Bowls XLII and XLIX had a significant boost to the area’s economy. The 2008 game generated more than $500 million in “direct and indirect spending by visiting fans and organizations.” according to a study performed by Arizona State’s W.P. Carey School of Business. The 2015 game earned an estimated $720 million in economic impact for the Phoenix area, according to another ASU study. “This is a tremendous economic impact for the state of Arizona,” Ducey said at the press conference. “We look forward, from food service to restaurants and culinary experiences and hospitality, to pull out all the stops and make this the best possible Super Bowl that Arizona has ever hosted.” Miller, a graduate of Desert Vista High School who played eight seasons in the NFL after an All-American career at ASU, said the Phoenix market is a favorite among NFL players. “There’s a reason so many guys in the off-season train here,” said Miller, who retired after the 2014 season. “Guys like the city. I’ve had teammates move here who aren’t even from here.” Miller also said the game helps grow the sport locally at a grassroots level. “As a kid, you are going to know the Super Bowl is in your town,” he said. “It creates a good hype for your city that as a player you definitely notice in high school or Pop Warner or youth.” The 2023 Super Bowl will be the third hosted by the Cardinals since Bidwill became president of the franchise, and the first Super Bowl since Ducey became governor. “I want to say how grateful I am to have a leader like Michael Bidwill in the state of Arizona to be a partner in showing what Arizona is to the entire world,” Ducey said at the conference.Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers said in a statement that the announcement was a product “of the hard work and dedication of the many different community and business leaders coming together to present the NFL owners with an attractive Arizona package.”Follow us on Twitter. Read more