Arizona's Pro-Immigrant Forces Confident Obama Will Win on Immigration Order

Categories: News

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White House/Pete Souza
A federal judge in Texas may have temporarily blocked President Obama's executive order that shields more people from deportation, but local pro-immigration forces are unfazed.

Democratic Congressman Ruben Gallego joined state lawmakers and immigrant-rights groups at the Arizona Capitol today to tell people who are eligible for Obama's deferred-action program not to be discouraged by the ruling, because they don't expect it to be blocked for long.

"Justice has been delayed, but victory is certain," Democratic Senator Martin Quezada said.

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Arizona Health Director Will Humble Quits

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Arizona Department of Public Services
Arizona Director of Health Services Will Humble speaks at the Arizona Adverse Childhood Experiences Consortium Presentation in March 2014.

Arizona's top health official will step down March 3 after 23 years with the state.

Will Humble submitted his resignation to Governor Doug Ducey on Friday.

"This has been an awesome job," he wrote Monday on the Arizona Department of Health Services Director's Blog. However, he continued, "Careers have a life cycle. Figuring out when it's time to turn the page and move on to something else is a hard thing to do. That time has come for me."

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Diane Douglas Recall Effort Looking to Gain Momentum

Categories: News

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Gage Skidmore
A group looking to recall Arizona schools chief Diane Douglas is hoping that her latest controversy is going to propel their campaign into the spotlight.

Douglas attempted to fire two employees of the state's Board of Education in her bid to follow through on a campaign promise of ridding the state of the federal Common Core curriculum, however, Douglas' firings were overruled by Governor Doug Ducey, who insisted Douglas didn't have that power. Douglas also lashed out at Ducey -- including issuing a press release titled "Arizona Superintendent of Public Schools Diane Douglas Did Not See Doug Ducey's Name on the Ballot for State Superintendent" -- before eventually playing nice and said she'd work with the governor.

The people who wanted to recall Douglas since before she took office are using this as ammo.

"She's doing half the work for us," recall leader Anthony Espinoza tells New Times.

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Arizona Schools Chief Diane Douglas Goes to Town on Doug Ducey

Categories: News

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Matthew Hendley
Arizona's new schools chief Diane "Repeal Common Core" Douglas and new Governor Doug Ducey have entered into an unusual public spat that, if nothing else, is highly entertaining.

Earlier this week, Douglas fired two employees of the State Board of Education over their alleged support of a new standardized test based on the controversial Common Core curriculum, which Douglas has vowed to repeal. Ducey essentially overruled this move saying Douglas, a fellow Republican, didn't have that power.

Douglas did not take kindly to that move, issuing a press release titled "Arizona Superintendent of Public Schools Diane Douglas Did Not See Doug Ducey's Name on the Ballot for State Superintendent."

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Kayla Mueller: Peace Activist, War Mascot?

Categories: News

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Flickr/Zoriah

In life, Kayla Mueller was a humanitarian and a peacemaker. In death, she's becoming a rallying point for ramped-up military action in the Middle East.

One day after U.S. officials confirmed reports that the 26-year-old Prescott native had been killed in Syria, a captive of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, President Barack Obama asked Congress on Wednesday for renewed authorization to use military force against the terrorist group. In a letter introducing the proposal, Obama mentioned her by name along with three other Americans abducted by ISIL in the Middle East.

ISIL beheaded aid worker Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig and journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff last year. A week ago, the terrorist group announced that Mueller, an aid worker with the Turkish nonprofit Support to Life, died in a Jordanian airstrike. ISIL had been holding her hostage since August 2013, when militants snatched her outside a Spanish Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo.

Plans to intensify strikes in Syria and Iraq have been in the works for months, but Mueller's death "adds urgency" to the debate, Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona) told New Times.

"Kayla Mueller was a great Arizonan," he said. "Her loss is definitely going to be on our minds as we sift through this decision."

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ASU's College Republicans Send Insulting Letter to State's Democratic Lawmakers

Categories: News

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Arizona's Democratic lawmakers received a bizarre e-mail from the College Republicans at Arizona State University at 2:58 a.m. Monday morning.

The purpose of the e-mail from College Republicans VP James Malone isn't really clear, but it's generally insulting and seems to be asking for money for the club to attend a conference in Maryland.

"To help pay for the costs of the trip, we have sent letters asking your wonderful Republican colleagues for donations and support," part of the letter says. "Just to be clear, although we would be happy to accept money from Arizona's House and Senate Democrats, the purpose of this letter is just to let your caucus know that conservatives do not utilize the public treasury for our political causes (unlike many of you, see: Medicaid-Funded Abortion; Public Union Release Time; and Andres Serrano's Piss Christ)."

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ACLU Sues Border Patrol and Homeland Security

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Phil's 1stPix/Flickr
The Arizona ACLU has teamed up with its San Diego counterpart and a private law firm, Cooley LLP, to file a federal lawsuit against multiple U.S. agencies for failing "to produce records related to the abuse and mistreatment of children in the custody of Customs and Border Protection and its sub-agency, the Border Patrol."

Five federal agencies -- the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of Inspector General, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties -- are blamed for not protecting immigrant children taken into custody, though the formal charge is violating the Freedom of Information Act.

"DHS officials are well aware that Border Patrol detains children in inhumane conditions, yet [they] have allowed those conditions to persist . . . By failing to meaningfully investigate or otherwise respond to consistent reports of systemic abuse, DHS and CBP officials have demonstrated a continuing disregard for the civil and human rights of children in their custody, and may have violated state and federal child abuse reporting laws," states the lawsuit.

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Arizona Atheists Condemn Shooting of North Carolina Muslims

Categories: News

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Matthew Hendley
State Representative Juan Mendez
Leaders in Arizona's atheist community gathered Wednesday to strongly condemn the fatal shooting of three Muslim students in North Carolina.

Much has been made in the news that the shooting suspect, 46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks, had a history of anti-religious comments, but the local atheists wanted to make it clear there's no link between a lack of religious belief and a heinous act of violence.

"There's never an excuse for this ignorant kind of murder," state Representative Juan Mendez says. "As a humanist, we value all lives."

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Joe Yahner Appointed as Permanent Phoenix Police Chief

Categories: News

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Phoenix PD
Interim Phoenix Police Chief Joe Yahner was appointed as the city's permanent police chief.

Yahner, who's been with the department for nearly 30 years, was tapped as interim chief late last year after city management fired Daniel Garcia after just a few years on the job. Yahner won't hang on to the permanent post too long, either -- he's said from the get-go that he plans to retire less than two years from now.

Mayor Greg Stanton, in announcing the hiring of Yahner to the permanent post, said today that Yahner is "well-respected across the board."

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Arizona Lawmakers Forming Science Caucus; Darwin Day Proposed

Categories: News

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Courtesy of Andrew Sherwood
Left to right: American astronaut Mike Fossum, Representative Andrew Sherwood, and Kip Hodges, founder of ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration.
If you believe the stereotypes about Arizona, then pigs are flying around the state Legislature.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers are coming together to form a science and technology caucus to work with the scientific community in promoting research in the state.

"We should do a lot of work with the scientific community and help nurture these interests here in our own state," Democratic Representative Andrew Sherwood tells New Times. "This is part of job development; this is part of education."

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