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PHOENIX (AP) — A woman died hours after giving birth to quadruplets at a Phoenix hospital, a close friend of the family said Saturday.
Best known for his African twist on American pop and ethno-classical music, YouTube sensation and former soloist with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Alex Boyé performs in Mesa Arts Center’s Ikeda Theater on Thursday, Jan. 15 at 7:30 p.m.
NEW YORK (AP) — Critics and early viewers agree that "The Interview" is less than a masterpiece. But thanks to threats from hackers that nearly derailed its release, it has become an event.
The City of Surprise is looking for experienced vocalists and musicians to perform the national anthem at Surprise Stadium for the 2015 Cactus League spring training games, March 4 through April 1.
NEW YORK (AP) — "The Interview" was put back into theaters Tuesday when Sony Pictures Entertainment announced a limited Christmas Day theatrical release for the comedy that provoked an international incident with North Korea and outrage over its cancelled release.
I wish we could count on the message of the Christ child to bring peace to the land; to elevate concerns for our fellow souls to the top of our gift lists. I wish mentally ill shooters of children and crazies who hammer innocent motorists to death never were. I wish ignorant, opportunistic looters would go poof in the night. I’m not sure that mankind is any more civilized than 2000 years ago, though we think we’re smarter than ever.
The Spirit of Phoenix Chorus will perform two Christmas shows titled “Christmas Letters” in Mesa on Dec. 6.
Gilbert resident Jim Seaton can’t help but be thankful for his second chance for life, as it was a little more than a year ago when simply breathing was a labored pursuit.
A senior from Williams Field High School is one of just two musicians from Arizona — and the first in school history — who will march in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade later this month.
PHOENIX (AP) — Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has sued the owners of a downtown Phoenix office building over a broken shoulder he suffered when he fell crossing a street.
Arpaio is seeking unspecified damages for his February 2013 injury and has alleged that the building's owners should have known about the dangerous conditions that led to the accident. The lawsuit against Hines GS Properties Inc. and the other owners was filed Oct. 29.
Hines GS Properties didn't immediately return a call Thursday afternoon seeking comment.
Mark Goldman, a lawyer representing Arpaio, said the lawsuit was filed after the sheriff made attempts to resolve the matter amicably.
"Joe Arpaio sincerely hopes that this lawsuit will cause the building owners to remedy these problems so that others are not injured," Goldman said.
The sheriff has said he tripped on a sidewalk near his headquarters as he headed to a restaurant to get a bowl of soup.
He fell on his shoulder, breaking it in two places. He spent about two days in a hospital and then two weeks recuperating at his home in Fountain Hills.
Arpaio posted images and video online showing him in the hospital in the days after his fall, including one with tubes in his nose. He sold a sling he wore during his recovery in an online charity auction.
A police dog trainer from Northern California paid $2,600 for the sling. The proceeds went toward buying equipment and food for a shelter run by the sheriff's office for abused animals picked up in cruelty investigations.
LD 18 voters deserve the opportunity to cast an informed vote, but Jeff Dial is depriving voters of that opportunity by dodging ALL LD 18 Senate Debates, including the Clean Elections Debate. His opponent, Janie Hydrick, on the other hand, has appeared at the debate venues, and answered, at length, any and all questions from debate moderators and audience members. Her answers have shown her to be the candidate who embraces the moderate values of LD 18 residents.
LD 18 voters deserve the opportunity to cast an informed vote, but Jeff Dial is depriving voters of that opportunity by dodging all LD 18 Senate Debates, including the Clean Elections Debate. His opponent, Janie Hydrick, on the other hand, has appeared at the debate venues, and answered, at length, any and all questions from debate moderators and audience members. Her answers have shown her to be the candidate who embraces the moderate values of LD 18 residents.
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.
PHOENIX (AP) — A coalition of Arizona advocacy groups defended its practice Wednesday of dropping off early ballots for voters.
The grassroots organizations are facing an outcry in the wake of surveillance video posted last week that shows a volunteer hand-delivering numerous ballots to a Maricopa County elections office a day before the Aug. 26 primary.
"It's a nonstory. Nothing that they did was illegal," said Tony Navarrete, a spokesman for immigration advocacy group Promise Arizona. "It was them making the promise to voters that they were going to turn in their ballots during the primary."
The video has been viewed more than 360,000 times on YouTube.
A.J. LaFaro, the Republican Party's chairman for Maricopa County, said he witnessed the man, who is a canvasser for Citizens for a Better Arizona, dropping off a box full of ballots.
Lafaro said "ballot harvesting" raises issues about the security of those ballots before they're counted, even though signatures on ballot envelopes are checked by election workers.
"From the time those ballots are mailed to the time they're turned back in, lots of things can happen," LaFaro said.
Ramiro Luna, Citizens for a Better Arizona field director, criticized LaFaro and others for referring to canvassers as "thugs." According to Luna, canvassers knock on doors —mostly in Hispanic communities — and encourage voters to participate. But they are trained not to touch a ballot or mark it in any way, he said.
"The ballot is something we keep as sacred. It is between the voter and the election department. All we are doing is providing a service to make sure the ballot is counted and is turned in on time," Luna said.
LaFaro acknowledged the Republican Party has been doing the same thing when it sends get-out-the-vote volunteers to canvass neighborhoods.
"On occasion we offer to take their ballot and deliver it for them," LaFaro said. "If it's not illegal, we're going to make that offer."
But he argued it was on a much smaller scale compared to Democratic-leaning groups.
"We don't comprehend, nor do we subscribe to what we see out there on the progressive-socialist side," LaFaro said. "That gentleman bringing in several hundred ballots, what function does that serve? We still cannot comprehend why they do it."
Maricopa County Elections spokesman Daniel Ruiz said there is no law covering how a ballot gets to the poll. What counts is whether the ballot is signed and the signature can be verified. However, voters who don't plan on mailing a ballot or dropping it off in person should make sure to give it to someone they trust, Ruiz added.
LaFaro said he will urge the Legislature to change the law when it returns in January to make the process illegal.
The collection of ballots by groups like Citizens for a Better Arizona has become an issue in the Arizona secretary of state's race. The practice would have been banned under a major 2013 election law rewrite that the Legislature repealed this year after opponents collected enough signatures to send it to the ballot.
"I see no reason why any individual, whether it's a candidate themselves, a campaign operative, a party individual, myself, you, anybody, should be in possession of an extraordinary number of ballots," Republican candidate Michele Reagan said at an Oct. 7 debate. "It creates a system where there is an opportunity for fraud, and that is not acceptable."
Democrat Terry Goddard agreed that banning mass collections should be considered, within limits.
"I agree that what Sen. Reagan occasionally calls harvesting is wrong and whatever that means should be abolished," Goddard said, while warning that not all collections should be banned. "Let's look carefully before we jump, because the thing at stake is your right and my right to vote, and it seems to me that under every circumstance we ought to protect that right."
The Citizens Clean Elections Commission concluded Thursday there's reason to believe a video by the state's school chief paid for by taxpayers actually was designed to help his campaign for reelection. But the odds are good that John Huppenthal will escape with little more than a fine.
PHOENIX -- The Citizens Clean Elections Commission concluded Thursday there's reason to believe a video by the state's school chief paid for by taxpayers actually was designed to help his campaign for re-election.
But the odds are good that John Huppenthal will escape with little more than a fine.
The 3-1 vote came despite Huppenthal's personal plea to the panel that the purpose of the video, sent to 60,000 educators and posted on YouTube, was to deal with the "anxiety-ridden feedback from the education community'' that the Common Core standards the state adopted four years earlier were going to be trashed. Huppenthal said it was never done in an effort to salvage his campaign to be the Republican nominee for state school superintendent, a race he eventually lost to Diane Douglas.
In fact, he told commissioners, the video, produced by and paid for the state Department of Education, actually could be interpreted to hurt him since he did express support for math and English standards. "We knew, had known for some time, that I was, by supporting the standards, that I was digging a hole for myself deeper and deeper politically,'' Huppenthal said.
Commissioner Thomas Koester said most of the video, issued just two weeks before the Aug. 26 primary, probably fits within Huppenthal's role as the state's top school official. But he said where the message went off the tracks was when Huppenthal promised to work with the next governor "to fully review the standards in a series of open, public forums to ensure that we are implementing the standards that are best for Arizona students.'' And Huppental said that will give families "an opportunity fully voice their concerns.''
"I acknowledge what you're saying,'' Huppenthal responded. But he denied there was any political purpose in the message, saying his promise for hearings was his effort to ensure the standards were not simply jettisoned by the public.
Commissioner Louis Hoffman had his own concerns about the video and the timing.
He noted that Huppenthal had just been accused of flip-flopping on the his support of what had since been renamed the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards. Hoffman said the video could be seen as Huppenthal's attempt to address those criticism.
And then there was the timing of the Aug. 12 video.
"I'm very suspicious of this because it was done two weeks before the election,'' Hoffman said. "If it were merely a policy matter it could have been done earlier.''
But Huppenthal said the timing was related to the increasing criticism of the standards.
Thursday's vote essentially authorized Tom Collins, the commission's executive director, to conduct a full-blown investigation into the video and its costs. But Collins said he presumes that the inquiry likely will be short-circuited with what amounts to a deal for Huppenthal to pay a fine to end the matter.
Mitchell Laird, another member of the commission, said that might be the best outcome for all concerned.
"It's a really close call,'' he said of whether the video really amounts to a donation by taxpayers to Huppenthal's campaign.
Only Commissioner Steve Titla voted against proceeding, saying he thinks nothing that Huppenthal did broke the law.
With his political life cut short by his defeat in August, Huppenthal said after the hearing he's not looking for a fight.
"I'm anxious to get on with life,'' he said.
Already being shown the door by voters, state schools chief John Huppenthal is now facing allegations that he improperly used public resources in his unsuccessful reelection bid.
PHOENIX -- Already shown the door by voters, state schools chief John Huppenthal now faces allegations he improperly used public resources in his unsuccessful re-election bid.
The Citizens Clean Elections Commission will decide Thursday whether to investigate whether Huppenthal violated campaign-finance laws by having the Department of Education produce and distribute a video where he sought to clarify his beliefs on the Common Core academic standards. That video, also uploaded to YouTube, was published two weeks before the Aug. 26 Republican primary.
Tom Collins, the commission's executive director, said Huppenthal, as an elected official, does have certain rights to communicate with constituents. But Collins said the video and the message were "indistinguishable from his campaign message.'' And he said the timing also made it suspicious.
"Finally, if there is a significant doubt, (Huppenthal) unequivocally pledged to this constituency that he would undertake a policy initiative in his next term to review the issue,'' Collins said in a memo to commission members. Collins called this an "unambiguous campaign pledge'' made with state resources -- and violation of state law that prohibits Huppenthal, as a publicly funded candidate, from taking this type of in-kind contribution.
Collins, citing the evidence he has, is asking the commission when it meets to let him conduct a full-blown investigation, including the right to subpoena documents.
Any investigation of improper use of state resources is beyond the scope of the commission.
Huppenthal, in a prepared statement, denied any wrongdoing, saying in the last three years on the job he has communicated daily with educators about standards for math and English language arts.
"This communication is a huge part of my job,'' he said.
Huppenthal said as the Common Core standards became more controversial, he was acting to "protect the education system by communicating more, not less.''
"I believe it would have been a dereliction of duty to have done less,'' he said.
Huppenthal declined to be interviewed.
Common Core was the hot-button issue in the Republican primary, as it remains in the general election.
The standards, crafted by the National Governors Association, school officials and business leaders, are designed to spell out what students should know at various points in their education. They were adopted four years ago in Arizona with the support of both Gov. Jan Brewer and Huppenthal.
As recently as February, Huppenthal defended the standards, saying they will "raise the bar for our students and better prepare them to succeed as they move on to college or career pathways.'' But that was before Republican challenger Diane Douglas began attacking the standards as being driven from Washington over the beliefs of Arizona parents.
Huppenthal, in that August video -- and his campaign stance -- took a more nuanced stance to what had since been renamed Arizona College and Career Ready Standards, saying he opposes anything removing responsibility for curriculum and standards from local school boards and promised to work with the next governor and education community to fully review the standards.''
Despite that shift, Douglas handily won the primary. She now faces off in November against Democrat David Garcia.
Collins, in saying there's reason to believe the law was broken, said elected officials have "First Amendment rights in their advocacy of policies.''
But he said none of that overrules restrictions on contributions. And he said Huppenthal, having accepting public funds for his campaign, agreed to the restrictions which come with that.
Follow Howard Fischer on Twitter at @azcapmedia.
The weather is finally cooling down, calling us all out of hibernation and into the beautiful outdoors. What better way to celebrate the change of seasons than with a family day in the pumpkin patch? Here are five festivals worth a look:
Rock musician Alice Cooper’s annual youth music competition showcases his passion for furthering education by giving young musicians a shot on stage.
An internationally recognized theoretical physicist is making it his goal to give scientists their due recognition in the public eye.