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Experts point to Arizona's largely rural landscape as one of the reasons it trails other states, and the nation in computer ownership and Internet access, saying it's expensive to extend broadband to rural areas.
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."
There is something about homeowners associations (HOA) that gets people riled up.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A series of colorful, eerie faces painted on rocks in some of the West's most famously picturesque landscapes has sparked an investigation by the National Park Service and a furor online.
Agents so far have confirmed the images in Yosemite and four other national parks in California, Utah and Oregon. Park Service spokesman Jeffrey Olson said the vandalism could lead to felony charges for the person responsible.
The images appear to come from a New York state woman traveling across the West this summer and documenting her work on Instagram and Tumblr, said Casey Schreiner of modernhiker.com, whose blog post tipped off authorities.
The investigation is the subject of well-trafficked threads on the website Reddit, where people railed against the drawings as the defacing of irreplaceable natural landscapes.
"You're seeing this emotional response of people who feel like they've been kicked in the gut," Schreiner said.
It's not the first time vandalism in parks has been documented on social media. Last year in Utah, two Boy Scout leaders caused an online uproar when they recorded themselves toppling an ancient rock formation at Goblin Valley State Park and posted it on YouTube.
But in this case, the woman appears to consider the work an artistic expression, Schreiner said.
One photograph online showed a painting of a woman's face on a rock outcropping against the panoramic sweep of Oregon's Crater Lake National Park. In another, a backpack-size line drawing of a woman smoking a cigarette appears on red rock in Utah's Zion.
The images appear to have been painted with acrylic paint or drawn with marker, Schreiner said.
He took screen shots Tuesday of seven images that appeared on Instagram and Tumblr accounts under the handle "creepytings." The accounts later were made private or taken down.
The Associated Press is not naming the woman associated with the accounts because she hasn't been charged with a crime. Efforts to reach her Thursday were not successful.
Artists who work in natural environments typically consider who owns the land and get permission to work there, said Monty Paret, an associate professor of art history at the University of Utah. The earthwork "Spiral Jetty" sculpture on the shore of the Great Salt Lake, for example, is on land leased from the state.
The images that surfaced this week look more like graffiti, Paret said.
"As opposed to tagging in a back alley, it's like tagging an iconic building," he said. "It's going to get a lot more attention."
National parks agents have confirmed the vandalism in Yosemite and Death Valley National Parks in California, Canyonlands and Zion in Utah, and Crater Lake in Oregon.
Investigators also are looking for vandalism in other places the woman's social media trail indicates she visited: Joshua Tree, Sequoia and Kings Canyon in California; Rocky Mountain in Colorado; Bryce Canyon in Utah; and Grand Canyon in Arizona.
Crater Lake superintendent Craig Ackerman said bad weather has kept staff from going to the painting there, which is at an elevation of about 9,000 feet. Though rangers typically remove graffiti to discourage others, sometimes cleaning it causes even more damage, he said.
Vandalism is a small but persistent problem for the Park Service, which welcomes about 280 million visitors a year, Olson said.
It typically is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $5,000 fine and a year in prison. But vandalism in national parks can be a felony if the damage is extensive or in specially protected places, he said.
Associated Press writer Jeff Barnard in Grants Pass, Oregon, contributed to this report.
An Avondale police cruiser was severely damaged after being rammed by the driver in a landscaping truck Oct. 23 near 111th Avenue and Durango Street.
As a registered Republican one of the biggest things that worries me about Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Ducey is his climbing into political bed with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Why would a guy seek out the support and endorsement form a sheriff who is under federal scrutiny and court ordered regulation, has been shown to be an ineffective sheriff who blew off hundreds of cases involving rapes and child molests, has cost the taxpayers of Maricopa County well over $100 million dollars in misspent jail tax funds, has 30,000 unserved felony arrest warrants in his files, has cost us tens of millions of dollars related to lawsuits stemming from prisoners being abused and killed in his jail and who spent the last decade alienating Hispanics on both sides of the border?
DOUGLAS, Ariz. (AP) — One landscaper is dead and another critically injured after the men were stung by 800,000 swarming bees in southern Arizona.
Douglas Fire Department officials say the incident occurred around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday as the landscapers were working on a home.
One man later died at a hospital.
The names of the victims weren't immediately released.
A hive was found inside the home's attic, and a beekeeper later exterminated it after parts of the roof of the home were torn off.
Authorities say there were thousands of bees in the swarm that attacked the two men.
Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies say five people were taken to the hospital after a 4-car collision in Queen Creek Saturday afternoon.
New water conservation initiatives enacted by Tempe’s city council earlier this month will reduce water use by an estimated 780 million gallons of water per year by 2020, although it will inevitably raise the price of the water for residents and businesses.
>> This information is provided in community partnership with Harkins Theatres. For showtimes, theater locations and tickets, go to HarkinsTheatres.com.
The American Dream of homeownership is alive and well, just as it was before the housing crisis hit. Despite the extreme fallout from the Great Recession, people still want a place to call their own. A place where they can raise a family, make memories and live comfortably. And, while purchasing a new home provides tremendous opportunity for families looking to improve their lives, the implications are even greater to the economy as a whole.
>> This information is provided in community partnership with Harkins Theatres. For showtimes, theater locations and tickets, go to HarkinsTheatres.com.
Ocotillo Golf Resort
3751 S. Clubhouse Drive
(480) 917-6660 or OcotilloGolf.com
Designed by noted gold course architect Ted Robinson, Ocotillo Golf Resort features 27 holes of golf split into three nine-hole course. The lush fairways and water features of the traditionally styled golf course — which has been named a Top-50 Resort by Golf World magazine — offer a different playing experience than many desert landscaped clubs in the East Valley.
Bear Creek Golf Complex
500 E. Riggs Road
(480) 883-8200 or BearCreekAZ.com
Lone Tree Golf Club
6262 S. Mountain Blvd.
(480) 219-0831 or LoneTreeGolf18.com
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Great Play of Chandler
2855 W. Ray Road
(480) 726-7529 or Greatplay.com/locations/chandler
Great Play of Chandler’s unique gym for kids provides an indoor landscape of interactive games and features that allows children to have fun while helping them develop their motors skills. In one such activity, children can learn to throw and hone their hand-eye coordination by tossing a ball to “break” virtual bottles. Great Play offers structured skill classes divided by age group, and it also has open-gym times several times each week.
745 E. Germann Road
(480) 782-2900 or ChandlerAZ.gov/tumbleweed
Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse
5700 W. North Loop Road
(480) 502-5600 or WildhorsePass.com/rawhide.html
While the concepts differ, the three finalists for the redesigned City Center in Mesa all have one thing in common: a reinvigoration of the heart of Mesa.
More than great views of the Colorado River at Canyonlands National Park
The turf of Rio Salado Golf Course in Tempe will be hacked up not by irons but spades after Ken Singh of Singh Organic Soils, LLC, and Singh Farms in Scottsdale reinvigorates the landscape.
Whether it’s grandma’s garden, a desert landscape or a patch of green grass, our gardens enrich our lives with a certain serenity and calmness. A beautiful garden can whisk us away to another place and time. “Flourish: Artworks Inspired by Our Gardens,” on display at Vision Gallery in Chandler through Aug. 30, features textiles, ceramics, photography and mixed media by 50 Arizona artists focusing on natural, floral and botanical artworks.
Where do central Arizonans go for a quick, out-of-state escape? Families with younger kids often go west to San Diego, hedonists south to Rocky Point, Mexico, and those who like to be active in mountains and canyons can go north to Moab, Utah, a kind of Disneyland for the outdoorsy set.
Lush lawns are the suburban ideal and may provide some curb appeal and jealous glances from neighbors, but killing the grass may save homeowners a lot of water and green.
Mesa Arts Center announced on July 28 the selection of internationally acclaimed artist Cecil Balmond to design its 21st Century Café Society shade sculpture project. This work will provide permanent shade over a community gathering place and connect the Mesa Art Center campus (1 E. Main St.) with Main Street in downtown Mesa. Jurors chose Balmond’s winning concept from a group of three finalists who were invited to submit designs.
Tucson: Cool Summer Nights
I’ve been an Ahwatukee resident since 1999 and I would love to keep the Lakes golf course, but the truth is I haven’t played golf or supported the local courses in over four years. Not because of any reason other than I don’t golf as much as I used to. People do not spend time playing golf like they used to. I played three-four times a week back in the ’90s, but now play less than one time every four years. How many of you actually play golf and supported the Lakes or Country Club?
The beginning of the school year provides opportunities for fresh ideas and positive changes to enhance learning experiences for all children. During the spring and summer, the Kyrene School District Governing Board and district leaders were hard at work considering ideas that would impact the budget for the 2014-15 school year. The final budget approved on July 8 was not only balanced, it also represents an investment in spending for whole-child programs such as art, music, physical education, library, math/literacy coaches who provide support and a change to the start times for Kyrene middle schools. This budget also demonstrates the board’s commitment to invest in one of our most valuable resources — teachers and staff who received a cost of living increase.
Across the Oglala Grasslands of Nebraska: One of Best Short Hikes in America