Researchers: Maricopa County’s low vaccination rates could put larger population at risk

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Amanda Fahey and Nicole Hernandez

Monday, June 18, 2018

Researchers: Maricopa County’s low vaccination rates could put larger population at risk

PHOENIX – A recent study identified Phoenix as a “hotspot” for potential disease outbreak because of the high rate of parents who opt out of vaccinating their children. Arizona is one of 18 states that allow exemptions from vaccination because of personal beliefs, according to the study published in the Public Library of Science. Many Arizona parents seek medical exemptions for religious or philosophical reasons. In Maricopa County, nearly 3,000 enrolling kindergartners had non-medical exemptions from vaccination in the 2016-17 school year, according to the study. That’s three times as many unvaccinated kindergartners as the next-highest county, Salt Lake County in Utah. The report’s authors said that because these hotspots have such a high rate of vaccination exemptions, outbreaks could “spread rapidly throughout these populations of unimmunized, unprotected children.” Laura Glenn, a naturopathic physician at Rejuvena Health & Aesthetics in Scottsdale, said some parents might get confused about vaccines. "I really think that part of that is because we are living in an age of information overload,” she said. “We have so much news and so much information coming at us from so many different angles, it can be hard to know what to believe." In 1998, The Lancet medical journal published a study linking certain vaccinations to autism, triggering the anti-vaccination movement. The study was later retracted after it was found the doctor who led the study falsified the data and his claims were fraudulent, according to CNN. Glenn said she believes information is key when it comes to the decision whether parents should vaccinate their children. "To make an informed decision, they need to be looking vaccine-to-vaccine, illness-to-illness,” she said. Parents should ask “what are the risks to contracting the illness? What are the possible consequences of the child getting the illness? What are the risks of the vaccine?" Alexandra Bhatti, faculty associate in Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions, told ASU Now that “before the middle of the last century, diseases like whooping cough, polio, measles, Haemophilus influenzae and rubella struck hundreds of thousands of infants, children and adults in the United States. Thousands died every year from them.” But as people began using vaccines for these diseases, their rates declined. However, outbreaks still occur – even when vaccines are readily available. A measles outbreak hit Maricopa and Pinal counties in 2016, infecting about a dozen people. The outbreak – one of the largest outbreaks in years – started at a privately run detention center in Eloy, according to a Cronkite News article. The potential spread of illness is not the only result of non-vaccination. "You also have the effect on the health-care system,” said Daniel Crawford, a clinical assistant professor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University. “And so that utilizes more health-care resources and increases the amount of money spent in the community." Sign up for CRONKITE DAILY to catch up on the latest news. Read more

Sportsmen push to keep uranium mining ban near Grand Canyon

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Sarabeth Henne

Monday, June 18, 2018

Sportsmen push to keep uranium mining ban near Grand Canyon

WASHINGTON - Arizona wildlife groups launched a campaign Monday to block what they fear is a Trump administration effort to reopen 1 million acres around the Grand Canyon to uranium mining, saying the environmental risks are too great. The campaign by Trout Unlimited and the Arizona Wildlife Federation includes billboards along interstate highways in the Phoenix area that call on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to "save the Grand Canyon from uranium mining." "The crux of the issue boils down to risk versus reward, and the risk is just too great," said Scott Garlid, conservation director for the Arizona Wildlife Federation. "And the reward is very, very small. "We hope ultimately that they (the federal government) will decide to keep the withdrawal in place. That's what we're really after," Garlid said. Mining in Grand Canyon National Park is already prohibited, but in 2012 the Interior secretary at the time, Ken Salazar, imposed a 20-year moratorium - a "withdrawal" - on mining on 1 million acres of federal land around the park. But advocates fear that the Trump administration is moving toward reopening the area to mining, pointing to a finding earlier this year by the U.S. Geological Survey that uranium is one of 35 minerals of critical importance to U.S. economic and national security. That followed President Donald Trump's executive order in December directing agencies to identify minerals that have "an essential function" in products important to "our economy or our national security," and to reduce the nation's vulnerability to disruptions in their supply. The agencies were to report on ways to increase U.S. reliance on and recycling of those minerals, but also on ways to expand exploration and streamline permitting and review processes for mines. One advocate said mining would have "very little" environmental impact, and he welcomed the possibility that Salazar's moratorium could be rolled back. Greg Yount, the manager and owner of the Northern Arizona Uranium Project, said uranium moves naturally through the environment and that those who claim mining will lead to pollution are being "extremely alarmist" and disingenuous. "When the environmentalists say, 'Oh well, this mining can pollute the Grand Canyon,' ... it's like they totally ignore that this is a natural process that's already happening at a scale that dwarfs what mining would do," Yount said. He said uranium mining is a very directed process. Unlike fracking for oil and gas in Appalachia, he said, the uranium mines around the Grand Canyon drill straight down as opposed to down and out. "Exploration that would happen out there is very targeted," Yount said, of the impact sportsmen might see. "In any given season, there might be a few rigs drilling out there, but it shouldn't really affect their hunting." But environmentalists are not as convinced of the safety of uranium mining as Yount, noting that one reason for the moratorium was to further study the "fractured geology" of the lands around the Grand Canyon. "A lot of this (effects of uranium mining) are unknown," said Brad Powell, Southwest director for Trout Unlimited. "We needed better science, which was supposed to be done in these 20 years.... We're not asking for anything new." And opponents say uranium mining doesn't have a great track record in the region. Powell said past uranium mining in northern Arizona has had a devastating impact on the region, including fish and wildlife pollution and elevated levels of radiation in the area, which has led to water contamination and health issues, particularly on the Navajo Nation. "It's high risk with little benefits," Powell said. "People come from across the world to see the Grand Canyon, not a uranium mine." Read more

Colorado River reservoirs expected to be less than half full by Sept. 30

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Luke Runyon

Monday, June 18, 2018

Colorado River reservoirs expected to be less than half full by Sept. 30

GREELEY, Colo. – Reservoirs along the Colorado River are projected to be less than half full by summer’s end, potentially marking a historic low mark for the river system that supplies water to seven U.S. states and Mexico. Forecasters with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation expect the river’s reservoirs – Lakes Mead and Powell among them – to be at a combined 48 percent of capacity by the end of September. That would be one of the lowest points ever for the combined water storage. Without significant rainfall this summer and fall and above-average snow next winter, the combined reservoir storage could dip to 44 percent of capacity by April 2019, according to the bureau’s models. The previous low for total system storage came April 1, 2014, after the two driest consecutive years recorded in the vast watershed, when the river’s reservoirs were at 47 percent of capacity. “We’re in uncharted territory for the system,” said Jeff Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the water wholesaler for greater Los Angeles, which relies on the Colorado River for a portion of its supplies. [related-story-right box-title="Related story" link="https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/2017/06/14/parched-drought-lake-mead-water-levels-lead-statewide-water-limits/" image="https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/drought_800.jpg" headline="Pressured by drought, Lake Mead water levels could lead to statewide water limits"] “Everything is new, and it’s all bleak. None of it is positive.” The root cause is twofold: Low snowpack last winter is depleting reservoirs already sapped by nearly two decades of drought. And the river itself is over-allocated: More water exists on paper in the form of water rights than what exists in reality. Lake Powell, the water-savings account for Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah, is taking the brunt of this year’s dry weather, said Rick Clayton, a Bureau of Reclamation engineer in Salt Lake City. “Lake Powell is not getting a very significant inflow, and we’re making a pretty large release,” he said. Inflow to Powell, provided by the Colorado’s main channel and the San Juan River, is projected to be 39 percent of average. That places 2018 among the driest years on record for the river basin. The river’s reservoirs have remained low for nearly the entirety of the 21st century so far, Clayton said. “When a reservoir system is half full, (it) isn’t necessarily a reason to panic,” he said. “It is not uncommon for the Colorado River reservoir system to be nearly half empty, especially during the recent protracted drought we have been experiencing since 2001.” Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, California and Mexico all claim some portion of the Colorado’s flow. The river provides water for about 40 million people in the Southwest and irrigates 1.7 million acres of farmland. 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. Subscribe to Cronkite News on YouTube. Read more

‘Looking for someone like me’: JJ Nakai blazes trail for younger Native American basketball players

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Nate Fain

Monday, June 18, 2018

‘Looking for someone like me’: JJ Nakai blazes trail for younger Native American basketball players

FLAGSTAFF – JJ Nakai misses her days playing electrifying basketball on the reservation. But the jam-packed gymnasiums, the thunderous crowds – united by heritage, momentarily divided by team colors – the breakneck pace of play and the irresponsibly creative trick passes are more than just memories. They provide the framework for how she plays, the fabric of her game, infused in her basketball DNA, and part of why she's one of the highest-rated junior-college basketball players in the country, with dreams of playing Division I. “I loved playing on the reservation so much. The atmosphere once you’d enter the gym was so amazing. It was packed, I miss it,” said Nakai, a member of the Navajo Nation and the point guard at Pima County Community College in Tucson. A Division I offer would mean more than just a chance to play basketball on a big stage. It would help Nakai become the first member of her immediate family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. It also could make her the Native American role model she looked for but never found while growing up. Although statistics are difficult to calculate because tribal lands are sovereign, Native Americans struggle to attain higher education. In 2017, the Postsecondary National Policy Institute, a nonprofit funded by Bill and Melinda Gates, compiled several studies on higher education, finding that only 10 percent of Native Americans earn bachelor’s degrees.

The roots

During her childhood, Jacqulynn "JJ" Nakai, 18, spent the beginning of each week in Flagstaff, attending Coconino High School. Then, as if she was living two lives, she would leave the quiet forest community and drive more than two hours to a land of dry, dirt roads and quaint clusters of mobile homes and houses built of logs and clay, called hooghans or hogans. It was the Navajo Reservation, where she took care of her grandparents. [caption id="attachment_92275" align="alignright" width="300"] Nakai (fifth from left) fell in love with basketball while playing in tournaments on the Navajo Reservation. She embraced the fast-paced, pass-happy style of play. (Photo courtesy of Jessica Spencer-Nakai)[/caption] While on the reservation, Nakai would travel to Tuba City, Window Rock and other towns to play in tournaments that featured a free-flowing, run-and-gun basketball philosophy predicated on pace and passing, known as “Rez ball.” “It’s so much different there. It’s so wide open, and you just do whatever you want. You do everything your own way,” said Nakia, sitting at a table in the quiet clubhouse of the Timberline Place apartment complex, where her aunt, Ernestine Thomas, lives. If the reservation was her second home, the clubhouse was her third. Down the hall from the table is a full-length basketball court, in pristine condition. Unused and open 24 hours a day, the quiet court became Nakai’s basketball laboratory, a place to master her right-handed floater and quick-trigger 3-point stroke. It was stark contrast from the crowded gyms on the reservation. “(In Flagstaff) everything is like premade and prepared for you,” Nakai said. “It really is like a different world.” Along with her 5-foot-6 frame, Nakai carries the essence of a point guard. Her soft face is unbothered, impervious to chaos. Her dark brown eyes show a relentless drive, uninterested in easily attainable goals and completely obsessed with her true love: basketball. That wasn’t always Nakai’s path. While sports have always been in her life, her mom, Jessica Spencer-Nakai, an avid softball player, always wanted her daughter to follow in her footsteps. For a while, Nakai did, until Thomas – who apparently offered her niece more than just a fob to the clubhouse – took a then 7-year-old Nakai to watch one of Thomas' basketball tournaments. In the little girl’s mind, angels sang. Her soul was set ablaze. Love was in the air. “I pushed her really hard at softball,” Spencer-Nakai said. “I recently told her that I thought she had a better chance of getting a scholarship in softball. She said, ‘I know, Mom. I wanted to prove you wrong.’ ” She did. A member of a family of jocks – her dad and two younger brothers prefer football – Nakai stuck with softball until high school, but the hot sun and long innings became too much to bear. Basketball took over everything. [caption id="attachment_92103" align="aligncenter" width="800"] JJ Nakai, who's from a family of athletes, played softball until high school, but the hot sun and long innings became too much to bear. (Photo by Nate Fain/Cronkite News) [/caption]

Looking for inspiration

Thomas became an idol to Nakai. They both loved the same sport. But as Nakai’s game improved and her goals elevated, like most athletes, she looked toward the stars for someone to relate with and be inspired by. She couldn’t find that someone. “Native Americans in general aren’t known to be successful, especially in sports,” Nakai said. Since the days of the legendary Jim Thorpe, Native American athletes succeeding at the highest levels of competition have been few and far between. Despite the widespread love of basketball among tribal communities, Shoni Schimmel, the 2014 WNBA All-Star Game MVP, is one of the few Native Americans to reach the top of professional basketball. “When I was younger, I was always looking for someone like me … whose shoes I could fill. Someone I could be like,” Nakai said. The lack of Native American athletes in the mainstream consciousness has fueled Nakai. She spends more than seven hours a day running up Mount Elden, pulling a sled, lifting weights and perfecting her jump shot, thinking that maybe she could blaze the trail. “I’ve used that as motivation to be the role model for Native Americans that I was looking for,” Nakai said. She brought what she’d learned on the reservation to the Coconino High School Panthers girls’ basketball team. She earned the role of starting point guard, and the offense was off and running. [caption id="attachment_92274" align="alignright" width="300"] In high school, Nakai formed a team for NABI, the biggest Native American basketball tournament in Arizona. (Photo courtesy of Jessica Spencer-Nakai)[/caption] “Her style of play really is ‘Rez ball,’ ” Spencer-Nakai said. “She likes up-tempo. She’s looking to score every time down. She just learned it from watching her aunt play, and from all the tournaments we’ve been too.” When the Panthers forced a turnover, they ran. When they rebounded a missed shot, they ran. Even when the other team scored, they ran. Nakai led the charge, zooming up the floor like a Formula One race car, meandering around defenders as if they were narrow turns on a road course. The more attention she got from defenders, the more dangerous she became. At the first sight of a double-team or trap, Nakai would whip a no-look pass behind her back to an open teammate for an easy bucket. “I just see assists as a big deal,” Nakai said. “I don’t know why, but for me, it’s a higher type of play than scoring. ... Instead of just the simple act of finding the open man, I try to do it in more creative ways.” By her senior year, Coconino was one of the top-ranked teams in Arizona. They finished the 2017 season with the best record in the conference, losing in the semifinals of the 4A state championship. Nakai did everything her senior season, averaging 20 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals per game. She was named AIA's Grand Canyon Region Player of the Year. After high school, the offers from four-year universities began to come in. One of them really piqued Nakai’s interest: the University of Alaska Anchorage, a Division II school with a well-respected women’s basketball program. Her chance to parlay her hard work into a scholarship, to blaze a trail for other Native Americans had arrived. But Nakai comes from a close-knit family, one that traveled with her and cheered her on at every tournament. She and her mother were worried that a bout with homesickness could derail her basketball career before it even started. Then, at a basketball camp in Tucson, Nakai found a school that could accommodate her needs.

Closer to home

Todd Holthaus, the head coach of Pima County CC, has spent the past decade building a winning basketball program and helping elevate his players to four-year universities. It didn’t take long for him to see that Nakai could be his next great player. “I offered JJ the minute I saw her play live,” Holthaus said. “We’d heard about her, so she was on our radar. She has so much energy in how she plays and she takes so much pride in making her teammates better. It’s so much fun to watch.” A large man with a bushy, mustache-less goatee, Holthaus initially was intimidating to Nakai, but if the scholarship offer didn’t ease her mind, Holthaus’ approach to basketball certainly did. “Over the last few years, we’ve led the conference in scoring,” Holthaus said. “Teams are usually bigger and more athletic than us, so we shoot more threes than anyone, and we play up-tempo. We move the ball. We run the floor. JJ came in and adapted perfectly.” Nakai had to take a couple of weekend trips back to Flagstaff because of homesickness. But any suffering she was going through during her freshman year couldn’t be seen on the court. [related-story-right box-title="Related story" link="https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/2015/08/11/basketball-at-breakneck-a-way-of-life-on-navajo-reservation/" image="https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/shanehoop-800.jpg" headline="Basketball at breakneck pace a way of life on Navajo reservation"] The fearless point guard led Pima County CC in scoring and assists and made 40 percent of her 3-pointers. Nakai’s ability to shoot off the dribble and turn any situation into a fast break meshed perfectly with her teammates. They were even adjusted to her unexpected no-look passes. “We’ve gotten a feel for how each other plays and the no-look and behind-the-back passes are not as difficult, but we just have to be prepared for whatever she is going give to us,” teammate Shauna Bribiescas said. Nakai pushed Pima County CC to a 23-9 record. She was named a National Junior College Athletic Association Division II first-team All-American and was one of 40 players selected to play in the junior college all-star game in Atlanta. As the awards came pouring in, so did offers from four-year universities. Coaches would call Holthaus, gauging Nakai’s interest. At her orders, Holthaus would keep what he heard to himself, unless the right school came calling. “He gave me a few names, but I didn’t really want to know,” Nakai said. “I didn’t want to get complacent once the offers started coming in. This fall is when I’m going to sit down and decide.” When the time comes, Nakai won’t be overly picky in deciding where she goes to play, but she has a goal: Arizona State University. The road to big-time college basketball is long and bumpy; Nakai and Holthaus know that. This summer, they’ll both be spending a lot of time in the gym, building her strength. “I asked JJ what she wanted, and she told me she wants to play at ASU,” Holthaus said. “I told her that I think she has the ability to make it, but that starts in the weight room and in the classroom.” Nakai understands the importance of the classroom. She’s always planned on getting a college degree, even without basketball. She wants to study sports medicine. “JJ is a great basketball player,” Holthaus said. “But I know it means a lot to her, her family and her tribe that she’s out here setting an example for younger Native Americans who maybe felt that higher education wasn’t attainable.” The accomplishments and accolades have made Nakai somewhat of a celebrity among tribal communities. Kids will come up and ask to have their picture taken with her. When Holthaus is out scouting, young players will come up and say, “Oh my gosh, you coach JJ Nakai.” Her love of basketball leaves little time for much else. Occasionally, Nakai enjoys lounging with friends and family, and shopping, which usually ends with her adding to her collection of basketball shoes. The Damian Lillard 4s are her newest pair. Even her dream of traveling the world comes with a caveat: playing professionally for an international team. Recently, Nakai has found a new way to spend her free time, and, of course, it involves more basketball. She gives free lessons to young Native American kids, being that role model, that shining star she searched for when she was their age. “I know a lot of parents don’t have a child like her. I’m lucky,” Spencer-Nakai said. “I’m lucky she has the mindset where she wants to be. I’m amazed with how hard she’s willing to work.” Read more

Apache Stronghold — Spiritual Journey of Healing in Colorado

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Article and photos by Steve Pavey Apache Stronghold Sacred Journey Censored News DENVER -- Stronghold Sacred Journey was welcomed by Grupo Tlaloc at its annual Xupantla ceremony in Denver, Colorado. Blessings and Prayers offered for safe travel to the Poor People’s Campaign action on June 23. . Manzanola, Colorado, June 16 Our sacred journey to DC to convene with the Poor Read more

Latino Students Plaintiff responds to TUSD Supt Trujillo over latest Deseg court filings attacking Latinos

Last week on June 14th, 2018, TUSD Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo was on the Bill Buckmaster Show and was asked why TUSD is filing to dismiss the Latino Plaintiffs (Mendoza) from the over four-decades-old Desegregation Case. A short audio excerpt from the show is included below.

Trujillo responds that this is not true, but rather TUSD “has complied with ALL provisions of the Unitary Status Plan [aka “Deseg Order”] as it pertains to the Mexican American student portion.”

Trujillo goes on to say that this is “a radically different statement than saying ‘get rid of the plaintiff representative.’” Trujillo also goes on to agree with TUSD Board President Mark Stegeman’s claim that TUSD will be off of this Deseg Order within 4 years and explains how this will occur; that audio excerpt is also included in the video above for your convenience. read more

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Censored News June 18, 2018

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. Dine' CARE Western Peoples Convention  Scroll Down Censored News! https://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/ Chief Arvol Looking Horse with Tiokasin Ghosthorse -- An Energy Shift Needed to Save Mother Earth and Ourselves Apache Stronghold -- Prayers at Dine' Sacred Sisnaajini, Blanca Peak, Colorado Owe Aku 'Lakota War Pony Races' June 25, 2018 Live from Child Concentration Camp, Tent City, Tornillo, Read more