Arizona Department of Corrections Agrees to Healthcare Reforms to Settle Lawsuit

Categories: News

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Matthew Hendley
A proposed settlement in a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of 33,000 Arizona prisoners would bring about major healthcare reforms to the state prison system.

The lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Prison Law Office over the conditions at Arizona's prisons was set to go to trial this Fall, but this settlement would prevent that. The settlement includes a wide range of changes, like offering cancer screenings to older inmates, increasing raining for dental assistants, and limiting the amount of time that seriously mentally ill inmates can be kept in solitary confinement, among other things.

"It's one of the largest, if not the largest settlement in a prison-conditions case in recent years," David Fathi, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Prison Project, tells New Times.

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Equality Group Calls on Tom Horne to Step Aside, Stop Defending State's Gay-Marriage Ban

Categories: News, The Gays

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Wikimedia

Local marriage equality advocates are calling on Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne to step aside and stop defending the state's ban on gay marriage.

Why Marriage Matters Arizona delivered more than 5,100 signed petitions to the Attorney General's office yesterday. "The petition calls on him to stop standing on the wrong side of history and stop standing in the way of allowing loving, committed couples to marry," says Jeremy Zegas, project director for the organization.

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Camelback Victim Was Brazilian Student With "Science Without Borders" Program

Categories: News

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Image: ultimosegundo.ig.com.br/
Emanuel Rodrigo Biana Costa Bezerra, with red shirt over shoulders, celebrates on top of Camelback with friends on September 19 just before he collapsed on the trail. The photo was obtained from the victim's family by a Brazilian news outlet, which obscured the faces of the other hikers.
The victim in last month's Camelback Mountain fatality was 22-year-old Brazilian engineering student Emanuel Rodrigo Biana Costa Bezerra.

Local news outlets reported the September 19 incident, but not his name; South American news sites had the full story. New Times obtained the victim's identity on Wednesday from Phoenix police, who identified him as Manuel Rodrigo Viana-Costa-Vezerra.

The Phoenix police and fire department could not immediately release information about the tragedy, but Brazilian newspapers report that Costa Bezerra apparently died from a heat-related illness. An official cause of death hasn't yet been released.

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No Ebola Discovered in Arizona, but State Health Officials on High Alert

Categories: Health, News

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Wikipedia/CDC Public Health Image Library
The Ebola virus.
With the widespread Ebola outbreak in West Africa and yesterday's death of the first patient diagnosed on U.S. soil, Arizona medical authorities are preparing in case an outbreak occurs here.

There have been no diagnoses of Ebola virus infection in the state, and the few scares have not been serious enough to necessitate full-fledged testing, states Dr. Cara Christ, the Arizona Department of Health Services' chief medical officer.

But if an Ebola case is discovered, she says, her department is ready to take charge and keep the public safe.

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Phoenix Children's Hospital to House Groundbreaking Precision Medicine Institute

Categories: Health, News

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Flickr/Argonne National Laboratory
A supercomputer.

Phoenix Children's Hospital has announced a groundbreaking new institute slated to analyze patients' unique genetic makeup to create personalized treatment plans.

The institute is to focus on precision medicine, essentially an analysis of seriously ill patients and their disease at the molecular level. Precision medicine is used to create precise and personalized diagnoses and treatment plans, especially for those patients who have not responded to traditional therapies.

The Chan Soon-Shiong Children's Precision Medicine Institute at Phoenix Children's is billed as a partnership between the hospital and Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, a surgeon and healthcare entrepreneur who has until now focused on adult populations.

With the institute, Phoenix Children's will become the national hub for pediatric genomic research and precision medicine, the hospital announced.

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Phoenix Could Get More Rain Due to Remnants of Another Hurricane

Categories: News

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Ray Stern
Flooding in Mesa caused by the storm on September 8.
The remnants of two hurricanes caused extremely rainy days and flooding around Phoenix last month, and the remnants of a third storm are headed this way.

However, at this point, the National Weather Service's forecasts indicate that Simon, the current tropical storm in the Pacific, won't bring the intense rain and flooding to Phoenix that the storms Norbert and Odile did.

"I certainly don't think it'll be anything like we saw on September 8," NWS meteorologist Keith Kincaid tells New Times.

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Phoenix, Tucson Launch 2015 Water Sharing Plan

Categories: News

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Wikipedia/Paul Hermans
The Colorado River

Phoenix and Tucson have announced a plan to collaboratively store and make use of their shares of Colorado River water.

Both cities have contracts with the Central Arizona Project, the canal that diverts Colorado River water from a pumping station near Lake Havasu throughout the rest of the state. Through these contracts, each city is allotted a set amount of the water, says Wally Wilson, the Chief Hydrologist at Tucson Water.

All cities contracting with the Central Arizona Project pay the same amount of money per unit of water, Wilson says. This is done as a practical matter, but it happens to be beneficial to cities far from the pumping station up north, Wilson says, because it means there is no additional cost associated with sending and storing the water in more distant locations. And that is exactly what will happen under the plan announced last week.

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Paul Babeu Uses Civil-Rights Lawsuit Against Deputies as a Fundraising Tool

Categories: News

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Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.
Two Pinal County Sheriff's deputies were recently sued over the arrest and detention of an immigrant woman, and Sheriff Paul Babeu is using the lawsuit in a bid to raise money for his re-election.

"Get this! I'm being sued by the ACLU in federal court for enforcing the law," an e-mail from Babeu's re-election committee states. "[A]ll while 70% of illegals are NOT showing up to court for their hearings -- as we predicted."

Two paragraphs later, there's a plea for the recipient to "chip in" $50, $100, or $250, even though he's not even up for re-election for another two years.

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Gila Bend's Dead Body Problem

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Wikimedia Commons/Karen Funk Blocher

Does Gila Bend have a dead body problem? An examination of Maricopa County Medical Examiner's data indicates yes.

The medical examiner's Unidentified Persons Bureau offers a public database listing every unidentifiable body found in the county since 1970. Since that time, the database records 260 unidentified male bodies and 40 unidentified female bodies found within county limits, adding up to an even 300.

The database's details on these bodies are sometimes thin, sometimes rich, and always sad.

"Every unidentified body is a missing person," a sign in the examiner's office reads. Some cases stem from the discovery of a single skull or femur, often decayed for decades. Others list details down to the color of a deceased person's underwear, or the name on an ID that turned out to be fake.

But dig a little deeper, and you'll notice a disturbing pattern of descriptions in recent years:

"in a desert area near Gila Bend"
"a wash in a remote area near Gila Bend"
"in a desert area near Gila Bend"
"covered in mud in a wash in Gila Bend"
"in a desert area near Gila Bend"

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Study Finds No Evidence That Abortion Restrictions Protect Women's Health

Categories: News

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A pair of pro-choice groups say states with the most restrictive laws on abortion, like Arizona, have generally poorer health conditions and less supportive policies for women and children.

Abortion restrictions in Arizona and in state legislatures across the country are often billed as measures to protect the health and well-being of women and children, but this study from the the Center for Reproductive Rights and Ibis Reproductive Health attempts to show that these states don't actually treat the well-being of women and children as a priority.

"Folks who are following this closely are aware of the fact that these are bogus health and safety laws," says Nancy Northup, the president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights. "But we need to make that knowledge much more widespread to reach folks that may not be looking at this every day and tracking it."

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