Unsolved Amtrak Derailment's 20th Anniversary Marked With $310,000 Reward

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A new reward is being offered in the 1995 case of an Amtrak train that derailed in the desert south of Phoenix, killing one person and injuring 100 more.

The FBI and Amtrak announced today that up to $310,000 will be handed out for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever was involved.

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Principal Eric James, Ex-Gang Member, Stole From Impoverished Indian School

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Eric James, motivational speaker and ex-principal of two Arizona schools, pleaded guilty to embezzling from an impoverished Indian school district.
For years, Eric Antuan James has used his life story of going from Missouri gang member to Arizona school principal to motivate kids.

Now he's teaching kids about hypocrisy and betrayal.

Last week, James agreed to plead guilty to stealing from an impoverished Indian community school and using the funds to support his "youth empowerment" business.

James served for four years as principal/superintendent of Casa Blanca Community School on the Gila River Indian Community south of Phoenix, and also as principal of Noah Webster-Pima charter school in Scottsdale.

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Can the Arizona Legislature Legally Make Doctors Lie About Abortion?

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A new law requiring doctors to tell women that medication-induced abortions can be reversed -- a premise most of the health care community refutes -- could be in violation of the First Amendment, experts say.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1992, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, ruled that, in the interest of informed consent, it was constitutionally permissible for states to compel physicians to provide women with truthful information that may encourage them to reconsider a decision to have an abortion. Based on the ruling, 35 states mandate counseling. Twenty-seven detail exactly what doctors must say.

The Pennsylvania law examined in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, however, stipulated that women be informed about fetal development, alternatives to abortion, and the risks of pregnancy. In recent years, the types of things legislators are asking doctors to tell women have changed, says Elizabeth Nash, a policy analyst at the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice think tank based in New York. "Now, more and more, we're seeing unsubstantiated science," Nash says.

Some in the medical community see these laws as far enough removed from Planned Parenthood v. Casey to merit a re-examination of mandatory counseling and the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from forcing people to make false or misleading statements.

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Phoenix Cop Won't Face Charges for Fatally Shooting Unarmed Man

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Dennis Gilman
A Phoenix cop won't be charged in the shooting death of an unarmed black man late last year.

Rumain Brisbon was fatally shot at an apartment complex on December 2 after a scuffle with Phoenix Police Officer Mark Rine. Police said the officer thought Brisbon was reaching for a gun in his pocket, although he turned out to be unarmed.

Maricopa County Attorney's Office spokesman Jerry Cobb tells New Times that every officer-involved shooting is reviewed by the County Attorney's Office to make sure an appropriate level of force was used, and "in this instance, we determined it was [appropriate]."

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As Overflow Shelter in Downtown Phoenix Closes, New Homeless Plan Emerges

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Miriam Wasser
Elizabeth Singleton of MASH at "Rally for our Homeless Neighbors"

Against a backdrop of purple and orange-banded clouds, a line of people slowly entered the Men's Overflow Shelter on Madison Street in downtown Phoenix for the last time. The area was eerily quiet for that time of day. No one shouted, no fights broke out in the street -- even the dogs were silent.

Jeremy Huntoon, a case manager for the MOS and East Lot crowd, stood near the shelter, overseeing this nightly procession. Even he was surprised by how quiet it was -- for all the media and community attention the closing shelter has received in recent months, he remarked, it seemed odd that no one showed up on the last night.

Acknowledging recent announcements by the city and county that they are allocating more money to housing the homeless, he gestured toward the East Lot, noting that it looked especially full.

"I just hope whatever they do, everyone is safe," he said, turning to face the hundreds of men and women settling in for the night on the asphalt.

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Doctors Chafe Against Arizona Mandate to Tell Women Abortion Is Reversible

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Suparna Sinha/Flickr
Governor Doug Ducey's approval of a new law that would force doctors to inform women that a medication-induced abortion can be reversed has the healthcare community roiling.

The statute he signed into law Monday, formerly known as Senate Bill 1318, draws its theory from a case study published in the December 2012 issue of the peer-reviewed journal The Annals of Pharmacotherapy. Researchers George Delgado and Mary Davenport gave six pregnant women high levels of the hormone progesterone after they had taken one of the two pills required to terminate pregnancy. Two women aborted after treatment, but four went on to deliver healthy babies.

Supporters say women deserve to know their options. Critics argue, however, that the study -- the only one published on the topic -- is too small to be conclusive and any treatment derived from it should be considered experimental.

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Ducey Vetoes "Secret Police Bill"

Miriam Wasser
Late Monday afternoon, Governor Doug Ducey vetoed state Senate Bill 1445, which would have prevented Arizona police departments from revealing the names of officers involved in violent incidents for 60 days.

After successfully passing through the state Legislature last week, the bill was transferred to the Governor's Office, and action was required by the end of yesterday.

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Trial Postponed for Local Autistic Teen Charged with Murdering a Middle-Age Man During Sex

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The trial for Jessica Burlew, a 17-year-old autistic and schizophrenic teen charged with second-degree murder, was slated to begin this week but has been pushed back to July 8.

Burlew's case made headlines last year after she was arrested for strangling a 43-year-old man, Jason Ash, during what she says was consensual sex. (Others say the age difference makes consent impossible and instead makes him a sexual predator.)

Before the crime, Burlew, 16 at the time, ran away from a Department of Child Safety home to her mother's house in Glendale. She had spent much of her life shuffled between foster care and group homes because, according to a press release from her jail support group, Free Jessie B, her "psychiatric disabilities were sometimes more than her single mother could handle alone." Despite this, it does appear that the mother-daughter pair remained close over the years.

Photos and YouTube videos of Burlew at the time scream "troubled teen." She wrote dark songs about death, had multiple face piercings, and kept her hair dyed bright colors. She was also a frequent user of online chat forums, which is how she met Ash. He claimed to be in his 20s.

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Arizona Legislation Would Empower Landlords to Boot Guests

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Say you're in a relationship, and things are going well. Your boyfriend is staying night after night until, before you know it, he's pretty much moved in. Life is bliss, except for one thing: Your landlord doesn't like Prince Charming.

Is this a problem?

Critics of a bill zipping through the Arizona Legislature say it could be.

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Video: Arizona Lawmaker Suggests Law Requiring Attendance at Church

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Republican Arizona Senator Sylvia Allen suggested this week that lawmakers should debate forcing people to attend church services once a week.

Allen acknowledged such a law would never be allowed, but floated as an idea to create what she described as a much-needed "moral rebirth of this country."

"How we get to back to a moral rebirth of this country, I don't know, since we are slowly eroding religion at every opportunity that we have," Allen said. "Probably we should be debating a bill requiring every American to attend a church of their choice on Sunday to see if we can get back to having a moral rebirth."

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