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Have you ever been to a church Christmas program to see Mary and Joseph riding on a donkey, barn yard animals around the manger, a baby Jesus with no hint of crying, and wise men in the background, but you thought, “I wonder if that is really how the first Christmas scene looked?”
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Tucson police said Wednesday they will no longer fully enforce the state's landmark immigration law that requires local police to check the immigration status of people they encounter while enforcing other laws.
In Kathleen Murphy’s Inbox letter on Nov. 30, she’s correct that many stupid voters don’t do, or are too lazy to do, research. They get their info from “conservative TV or radio”? What about ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, HLN, MSNBC or “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report”? Are they all conservative? I don’t think so.
Arizona has a legal right to discriminate against attorneys from other states who do not let lawyers from here automatically practice there, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.
PHOENIX -- Arizona has a legal right to discriminate against attorneys from other states who do not let lawyers from here automatically practice there, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.
My Pink Adventure Tours Grand Canyon adventure began bright and early in Tempe where my companion and I were picked up at a nearby hotel by a Pink Jeep tour bus. We were greeted by Mike Sheets, our happy and comical tour guide for the day. Provided in the comfy tour bus were snacks and water to keep us satisfied throughout the grand adventure. As Mike welcomed us and shared a little about the tour, we were off to pick up additional adventurers at other nearby hotels in the area.
The letter from Mr. Murphy about stupid Americans was correct to an extent. Really stupid Americans are too dumb to vote. Our biggest problem is those who are willfully ignorant and too lazy to research anything. They get their information from conservative TV or radio, or simply vote the same way they have always voted — by party. That is why we had an election in which the Republicans won seats in Congress, but “liberal issues” such as higher minimum wage, background checks, reproductive rights and legalization of marijuana, among others, did pass. So it seems that American voters know what they want but don’t know who will give it to them.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Spurning furious Republicans, President Barack Obama unveiled expansive executive actions on immigration Thursday night to spare nearly 5 million people in the U.S. illegally from deportation and refocus enforcement efforts on "felons, not families."
The moves, affecting mostly parents and young people, marked the most sweeping changes to the nation's fractured immigration laws in nearly three decades and set off a fierce fight with Republicans over the limits of presidential powers.
In a televised address to the nation, Obama defended the legality of his actions and challenged GOP lawmakers to focus their energy not on blocking his actions, but on approving long-stalled legislation to take its place.
"To those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill," Obama said, flexing his presidential powers just two weeks after his political standing was challenged in the midterm elections.
As Obama addressed the nation from the White House, immigration supporters with American flags draped over their shoulders marched on the street outside carrying signs that read, "Gracias, Presidente Obama."
Despite Obama's challenge to Republicans to pass a broader immigration bill, his actions and the angry GOP response could largely stamp out prospects for Congress passing comprehensive legislation under the current administration, ensuring that the contentious debate will carry on into the 2016 presidential campaign.
Republicans, emboldened by their sweeping victories in the midterms, are weighing responses to the president's actions that include lawsuits, a government shutdown, and in rare instances, even impeachment.
"The president will come to regret the chapter history writes if he does move forward," Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who is soon to become the Senate majority leader, said before Obama's address.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who has refused to have his members vote on broad immigration legislation passed by the Senate last year, said Obama's decision to go it alone "cemented his legacy of lawlessness and squandered what little credibility he had left."
While Obama's measures are sweeping in scope, they still leave more than half of the 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally in limbo. The president announced new deportation priorities that would compel law enforcement to focus its efforts on tracking down serious criminals and people who have recently crossed the border, while specifically placing a low priority on those who have been in the U.S. for more than 10 years.
He insisted that his actions did not amount to amnesty.
"Amnesty is the immigration system we have today — millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules, while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time," he said.
The main beneficiaries of the president's actions are immigrants who have been in the U.S. illegally for more than five years but whose children are citizens or lawful permanent residents. After passing background checks and paying fees, those individuals can now be granted relief from deportation for three years and get work permits. The administration expects about 4.1 million people to qualify.
Obama is also broadening his 2012 directive that deferred deportation for some young immigrants who entered the country illegally. Obama will expand eligibility to people who arrived in the U.S. as minors before 2010, instead of the current cutoff of 2007, and will lift the requirement that applicants be under 31. The expansion is expected to affect about 300,000 people.
Applications for the new deportation deferrals will begin in the spring.
Immigration-rights activists gathered at watch parties around the country to listen to the president announce actions they have sought for years.
"We're going to have plenty of Kleenex around," said Jorge-Mario Cabrera, spokesman for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.
The White House insists Obama has the legal authority to halt deportations for parents and for people who came to the U.S. as children, primarily on humanitarian grounds. Officials also cited precedents set by previous immigration executive actions by Democratic and Republican presidents dating back to Dwight Eisenhower.
MESA, Ariz. (AP) — A paramedic has been charged with theft after being accused of pocketing a patient's Rolex watch during an ambulance ride to a hospital, authorities said Friday.
Jason Edward Alexander, a Rural/Metro ambulance employee, was arrested after the victim's son saw the watch on eBay and notified authorities.
The man died on Oct. 8 after Alexander helped transport him to the hospital in Mesa on Sept. 21. The family couldn't find his watch.
Alexander acknowledged taking the watch because he owed money to his parents, Mesa police spokesman Esteban Flores said.
After trying to sell it on eBay, Alexander sold it for $1,400 to a friend who did not know it had been stolen, police said.
The friend was working with authorities to return the watch to the family.
Alexander faces one count each of theft and trafficking in stolen property. He is due in court Wednesday. It was unclear if he has an attorney.
John Karolzak, a Rural/Metro spokesman, said Alexander is on unpaid administrative leave. He was hired about a year ago after undergoing a background check, Karolzak said, adding that the company had no plans to review any of its operations.
"We consider this incident an anomaly and acted definitively upon notification," he said.
SEATTLE (AP) — She has delivered the same 64-word speech eight times already, but Gabby Giffords is struggling to get through the ninth.
"Together, we can win elections," the former Arizona congresswoman tells her Seattle audience before starting to stumble.
After a moment of confused silence, an aide whispers the next line, and Giffords continues the broken sentence: "... change our laws."
Four years after she was shot in the head and went on to inspire millions with her recovery, Giffords is as committed as ever to pushing for tighter gun-control laws. But in the final days of this year's midterm elections, few candidates are willing to rally to her cause. There's little to suggest those elected next week will pursue the changes she seeks in the nation's gun laws.
As Giffords visited nine states in the past two weeks, the National Rifle Association was working in at least 30, with advertising and get-out-the-vote manpower, to strengthen its position in Washington and state capitals. She will be widely outspent this year by the NRA and others who support the rights of gun owners.
Two days after Giffords' appearance in Seattle, a 15-year-old high school student shot and killed two people and killed himself in an attack north of the city that seriously wounded three others. The shooting has barely made a ripple in the final days of the campaign.
"Long, hard haul," Giffords told The Associated Press in a brief interview after her Seattle event, using one of the short phrases that now dominate her speech.
In part by design, but also in recognition of the country's political landscape, not a single candidate in this year's midterm elections for statewide or federal office appeared with Giffords as she made her way from Maine to Washington state over 10 days.
She drew visits from Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, both Democrats, neither running for re-election next month.
"If this happened in March or December or any other time, we'd have asked other politicians to join," said Marti Anderson, an Iowa state lawmaker who helped organize a Giffords event in Des Moines. "But it's risky 15 days before an election."
Instead, Giffords took part in a series of discussions about domestic violence in smaller venues such as a Des Moines public library and a high school classroom in Portland, Ore. With the Senate majority at stake, Giffords isn't running television ads in states where Democratic incumbents are seeking re-election, among them North Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana and New Hampshire.
The exception is Iowa, where her group announced plans this week to run television ads against Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst. "Joni Ernst won't vote to close the loophole that lets some dangerous people still get guns," Story County Sheriff Paul Fitzgerald says in the ad set to run through Election Day.
Said Pia Carusone, Giffords' longtime chief aide, "We went in knowing we had to be strategic and careful."
The NRA has no such concerns. The powerful gun-rights lobby has spent more than $27.3 million this year on elections in at least 27 states through Oct. 15, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Giffords' organization, by contrast, has spent just $6.6 million in seven states.
The financial advantage is just one piece of the NRA's strength.
"Anyone who tries to gauge the National Rifle Association by money alone is making a huge mistake," said NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam, citing 5 million dues-paying members and many more voters who look to his organization for guidance on how to vote on Election Day.
Arulanandam said he's grateful that Giffords is "on the mend and getting better every day," but he criticized her political goals. "People realize that regardless of what she says, her endgame is similar to Michael Bloomberg and President Obama, which is draconian gun control," he said.
Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, have gone to great lengths to rebut such criticism. Recently, with little sign that an effort to adopt universal background checks will pass in Congress, Giffords has focused on promoting a measure that would prevent convicted stalkers and abusive "dating partners" from accessing guns.
In a letter opposing the measure, the NRA says it "manipulates emotionally compelling issues such as 'domestic violence' and 'stalking' simply to cast as wide a net as possible for federal firearm prohibitions."
Giffords' team was initially hopeful, but it now concedes that the bill is not likely to come up in Congress' lame-duck session. And while the mood was largely positive during Giffords' tour, the frustration they're not connecting with voters this election season was evident.
"It's hard not to be, as a person in this country, disappointed by the lack of response," Carusone said. "But we're not surprised. We knew this wouldn't be easy."
In this Oct. 22, 2014 file photo, former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords speaks in support of Initiative 594, a measure seeking universal background checks on gun sales and transfers, Wednesday, in Seattle. She has delivered the same 64-word speech eight times already, but Giffords is struggling to get through the ninth. She has trekked almost 7,000 miles in two weeks to appear at this Seattle athletic club, where dozens of women and several reporters are gathered for the final stop of her nine-state “Protect All Women Tour.” But nearing the end of her first full election season as the nation’s most recognizable gun control advocate, things aren’t going exactly as she hoped. Despite raising more than $20 million to fund a national political operation, gun violence is little more than an afterthought in all but a handful of contests across the country. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Q. What are common signs of hearing loss?
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords will begin a nine-state tour in Maine, where she will advocate for tougher gun laws that she says will help protect women and families.
The former Democratic congresswoman from Arizona, who was severely wounded in a 2011 shooting in Tucson that killed six people, will seek to elevate the issue of gun violence against women and push for state and federal action to make it more difficult for domestic abusers to access firearms.
Giffords, who was shot in the head, remains partially paralyzed and continues to have difficulty speaking.
On the first stop of the "Protect All Women Tour" in Portland, Maine, on Tuesday, Giffords planned to meet with state domestic violence advocates, law enforcement officials and others.
Giffords' gun-control advocacy group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, calls guns and domestic violence "a lethal mix," noting that abuse victims are more than five times more likely to be killed if the aggressor has access to a gun.
Among the changes Giffords has sought is to include people with misdemeanor-level stalking crimes among those who are prohibited from buying firearms and to expand background checks to ensure that domestic violence abusers can't buy firearms at gun shows.
After visiting Maine, Giffords will travel to New Hampshire, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Minnesota, Iowa and Oregon. The last stop of the tour will be in Seattle, Washington, on Oct. 22, according to details a Giffords aide provided to The Associated Press.
Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, did a similar tour across the country last year, focused on garnering support for expanded background checks.
“I regularly shop at a Walgreens in east Mesa. Its pharmacy is always busy. However, there is seldom more than one assistant to help the one pharmacist on duty. With shots, drive-thru and helping on the floor, you never actually get to talk to the pharmacist. Their ads brag on customer service, but the long lines say different. Why can’t they hire like their commercials show?”
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband were finally starting to settle into normal routine in their Tucson home by the middle of 2012, making strides in her rehabilitation, decorating their house and watching hour after hour of the TV show "Glee."
Then came the movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado, that left 12 dead and many more injured. Months later, 20 children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
"Newtown moved us from words to action," Giffords and husband Mark Kelly write in their book "Enough: Our Fight to Keep America Safe from Gun Violence."
The book chronicles the couple's lives from survivors to advocates, detailing the trepidation Kelly had about plunging himself into the politics of gun control. It delves into the history of the National Rifle Association while telling of Giffords' recovery efforts and the couple's political action committee, Americans for Responsible Solutions.
The book and an Associated Press interview with Kelly this week provide a behind-the-scenes look at the couple as they moved past the shooting and took a greater role on the national stage:
Giffords and Kelly describe ways in which their gun-control advocacy has helped the former congresswoman move forward and regain her speech skills after she was wounded in the January 2011 shooting outside a Tucson supermarket that killed six people.
They detail the difficulty Giffords had in articulating the lines in a speech at a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in January 2013. But the complexity of the issue "motivated her to work even harder," they wrote.
The former lawmaker is even back to shooting, picking up a gun for the first time at a Nevada range in the summer of 2013.
Giffords had to use her left hand to fire because her right hand is paralyzed. She's not left-handed, so Kelly worried.
But was Giffords nervous?
"No, she wasn't. At all," Kelly said.
ON JARED LOUGHNER
As Jared Loughner was sentenced in November 2012 after being convicted of carrying out the shooting, Kelly and Giffords told him that was the last time they'd ever think of him.
"There's what you say in a statement and what actually happens and, as you know, those are two different things," Kelly said.
Kelly says the couple had every intention of erasing Loughner, who received seven life sentences, from their minds.
The Aurora and Newtown shootings halted that plan.
ON THE POLITICAL FIGHT FOR STRICTER GUN LAW
Even after Giffords nearly died when she was shot in the head, she and Kelly say they kept their firearms and remained staunch supporters of the Second Amendment.
While Giffords was a seasoned politician, Kelly had concerns about taking on politics.
"There was risk involved that we wouldn't be able to meet that ambitious goal, and then what does that say? That says we're not effective in what we want to do," Kelly said in the interview. "You have people who start to think about you differently. But Gabby's a politician, and I'm not that sensitive about things."
FRIENDSHIPS ARE TESTED
A long-lasting friendship between Giffords and Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake was tested when he voted against a background-check bill that the couple rallied for.
"I had such complicated feelings about our old friend that morning," Kelly wrote.
Kelly believes Flake was under huge pressure from the NRA to vote against the bill.
Flake, meanwhile, said in a statement to The Associated Press: "I have a great deal of respect and affection for Gabby and Mark. They have been very effective in advocating for a cause that they deeply believe in."
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
The couple now lives in Tucson, where Giffords works on her speech and physical therapy. They like to go to Giffords' mother's rural home to shoot guns, Kelly says.
But they don't have much free time, travelling and speaking in support of legislative candidates.
"We're gonna be really effective here in November," Kelly said. "We're gonna move ahead, and we're not going anywhere. What this country really needs is a balanced debate on this issue. And it's been really out of balance, so our job is to try to fix that."
Two women who said they were raped by the same person at two different hotels in Mesa are suing the hotels that hired the person, alleging they did not conduct a background check on a known sex offender.
It won't eliminate ObamaCare in Arizona, and it's unlikely to keep the Environmental Protection Agency from imposing new air quality rules on power plants here. But proponents of Proposition 122 insist that the proposed state constitutional amendment will give Arizona the power to rein in future federal government overreach, and it would do it through the power of the purse.
With close to 60 percent of the votes in the Republican primary Wendy Rogers will face Kyrsten Sinema for the Congressional District 9 seat in the November General Election.
Ayusa International is in need of families from Mesa to host foreign exchange students for the 2014-15 school year.
A new preschool has opened up in Mesa after fresh renovations. Munchkins Preschool has 16,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor playground and six classrooms.
Who is Arizona State University Police Officer Stewart Ferrin, the officer who has been accused of abusing ASU Professor Ersula Ore?
A Texas state senator being forced out of office by a Tea Party Republican is helping Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer raise money to elect like-minded candidates to Congress.
An open letter to the president of the United States
Coaching turnover at the high school level has become more and more prominent.