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New lives for old plastic trash, here and around the world

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[Top: Primary school students in Paraguay find creative uses for discarded plastics. Photo by Alex Duello] By Emily Ellis Arizona Sonora News   After its journey home as a sack for groceries or books or clothing, the plastic bag is destined to live on, in many different ways. It might end up wadded in a ball at the bottom of a kitchen drawer. Or lost in the wind, flying across open spaces like an erratic ghost or snagging on cacti. Or buried in a landfill, where over the years it shreds into filthy strips. Or burned in a garbage pit, sending wisps of toxins into the atmosphere. In Tucson and elsewhere, though, the lowly plastic bag just might come to a completely different but still useful end. In  a year-round program run jointly by the Tucson Federal Corrections Complex and...

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Trump’s success lights spark in Latino community

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  Donald Trump’s presidential campaign not only hovers over the idea of a bigger wall, but it also lights a fire under the Latino community that hasn’t been ignited in a long time. Whether it is for humor on social media or political debates and violent rallies across the nation, Trump’s platform brings a level of fear into the Latino community. Unlike the average fear, it’s not pushing Latino people away but uniting them to oppose the presumptive Republican candidate. According to Chula Robertson, an organizer for Mi Familia Vota, a non-profit organization that urges Latinos to promote social and economic justice through civic participation, this is the wake-up call the voting community has been waiting for to get Latinos to vote. “Though we are nonpartisan, we hear it all the time, ‘We want to vote so this guy doesn’t win,’”...

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Guest worker program used as gateway for labor abuse, trafficking

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Structural flaws place one of the nation’s visa programs at risk of abuse and trafficking, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union. This is apparent to the Filipino Migrant Center, a Long Beach, California, non-profit organization. Since 2009 it has assisted more than two dozen Filipino labor trafficking survivors brought to the U.S. though the H-2B visa program. “Once you share stories, there will always be guaranteed newer stories, emerging survivors,” says Joanna Concepcion, the organization’s executive director. U.S. businesses of all sizes depend on the H-2B program, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In 2012 the Department of Labor issued new H-2B regulations to prevent forms of abuse and trafficking. Industry groups, including the chamber, stopped the 2012 regulations in court. They call for deregulation of the program and say it’s already costly...

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From war to racism: a refugee tale

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Noorullah Dawari and his family stood patiently in the checkout line at a Tucson Walmart when a white woman behind them snarled, proclaiming that there are too many of “them” in this country. Her words cut to the core. There he stood with his wife their 2- and 6-year-old boys. The sadness was overwhelming. A refugee forced from his home in Afghanistan for helping U.S. forces confronting the Taliban, Noor came to this desert town for his family’s safety and instead found hatred. The family has seen this ugliness too many times since they arrived in Tucson earlier this year. His wife, a slender slip of a woman with long dark hair partially covered with a loose headscarf, is often the signal that says “different.” Drivers thrust middle fingers at the family from passing cars. Angry stares populate public places. Noor, as...

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Dry wilderness, high winds mean fire season

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As the seasons change and the wilderness of Southern Arizona rises in humidity, so does the fire danger. According to Chris George, wildland coordinator for the Avra Valley Fire District, the drought has lead to a label of “Extreme” fire danger throughout Arizona. “It’s all moisture dependent. The lower elevations dry out quickly leading to a higher fire danger until the weather changes and the monsoons moisten the land again.” Reckless behavior is the biggest ever contributor to wildfires whether it be from campfires, negligently discarded cigarettes, or intentional arson. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, the 2015 fire season set a record for the number of acres burned in the United States. There were 68,151 wildfires, which burned over ten million acres. The Wallow fire, which burned in the summer of 2011, was the largest wildfire in state history. It...

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DeGrazia: Still a force 30 years later

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More than 30 years after his death, Ted DeGrazia remains a major figure in the local and national art community. Originally born in Morenci, what was considered Arizona territory at the time, DeGrazia and his family moved to Italy in 1920. Here he discovered his admiration and fascination with contemporary art. Ten years later, he moved back to the United States and enrolled at the University of Arizona and received a degree in fine arts. Initially, high end art galleries did not accept his art work, which motivated him to reach for the stars. In the 1960s-1970s, DeGrazia’s art turned the corner. He received widespread attention when his art was featured on several nationally recognized platforms such as NBC newsreels and National Geographic. DeGrazia became a household name when his painting, “Los Ninos”, was featured in UNICEF’s 1960 holiday card that...

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Water Reclamation: Can you turn crap into tap?

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  Kristine Bruun-Andersen is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact her at...

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Rising stars of Pueblo High School

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While Pueblo High School may carry a generalization of  being in a rough southern Tucson neighborhood, where graduation rates are low, student retention is tough and student participation is lacking- these seven students hope to rebut the reputation of their school with their very own success stories.  Here are the stories of seven seniors at Pueblo who are defying the stereotypes of their school and graduating in May of 2016. Daniel Lopez, 19 His biggest motivator?  He says it’s his grandfather who he calls Tata José. “When I think of the American dream I think of him,” said Daniel, From the beginning of kindergarten to his final days at Pueblo, a hard work ethic has been drilled into his head. Seeing what his grandfather did for their family motivates him to be the best academic he can be. The “weird” one in...

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Despite rhetoric, refugees are a humanitarian concern

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Without warning, a sudden deafening sound is followed by a wave of pressure passing through the body. Time seems to slow as the quick flash is finally registered by the eyes only to be quickly replaced by clouds of dust and smoke. The heart races and confused thoughts begin to desperately piece together information. Disoriented, reality begins to slowly creep into a muffled consciousness. An explosion has just taken place. Soon, the dust clears and sounds become sharper. What had been a busy street filled with people going about their day is now rubble. The window fronts of markets are shattered and collapsed, bodies lie tattered and torn on the ground. Those who can move have fled the area to find shelter. All that is left in this wake of destruction is an empty street filled with misery and...

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A video primer on socialism

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In this digital short, University of Arizona Professor of Government and Public Policy, Dr. John P. Willerton, explains some of the history of socialism, sharing his views on the roles it plays in other countries and how America differs. To show the disparity between the two parties in a millennial perspective, Zoey Kotzambasis brings a Republican perspective Joseline Mata provide the Democratic view of socialism.     Victoria Teplitz and Anna Mae Ludlum are reporters for Arizona Sonora News Service,a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact Victoria Teplitz at Contact Anna Mae Ludlum at...

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Killing the San Pedro

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  A colossal proposed housing development in Benson, Arizona, threatens to deplete the San Pedro River and the local water supply within five years of completion.       *Click the Image for Full Article*   Access a Microsoft Word version of the article and high-resolution photos click HERE Jordan Glenn is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service provided by the School of Journalism at the University of Arizona. Contact him at

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A day with a field researcher in a vulnerable riparian ecosystem

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After miles of off-roading and a quarter mile of hiking around a small, rocky river, Ariana La Porte spots it. She fixes her black binoculars to her eyes, moving around the sequoia but never drifting her gaze from the nest. She sees a bundle of twigs and branches swathed together, with green vegetation on the outskirts and down-like feathers poking out the top, a sure sign the nest is inhabited. She begins to whistle like a gray hawk in hopes of drawing out a response. Minutes pass and a male bird mimics her call. “This is a textbook example of how to locate a nest,” she says excitedly, a little shocked at her good fortune. As she finishes marking the location of the nest—somewhere near Sonoita—and its other features in her notebook, a female bird begins to cry shrewdly....

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Instrument provides opportunities and challenges

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A student-built instrument launching with an upcoming space mission to an asteroid will provide not only valuable training and experience for future aeronautical engineers, but also vital scientific data for later research. The mission, sponsored by NASA and the University of Arizona, will launch in late 2016 and rendezvous with the asteroid two years later. The Regolith X-Ray Imaging Spectrometer, known as REXIS, will be attached to OSIRIS-REx as it attempts to study and return a sample from Bennu, an asteroid with a close orbit to Earth that brings it within about 18,591 miles once every six years. Students in a cooperative effort at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard designed the instrument. REXIS uses X-rays to create a type of image that can tell researchers what kind of elements, and their quantities, are present in the loose...

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The death of mom-and-pop

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Americans are choosing chain restaurants over independent mom-and-pops. The number of independent restaurants in the United States decreased by 2 percent last year, while the number of chain restaurants increased by 1 percent, according to a 2016 study by the NPD Group, a global information agency. The restaurant industry is huge; in Arizona alone, the National Restaurant Association predicts $11.5 billion in restaurant sales in 2016. However, as the numbers show, it is not an even split between independent restaurants and chains. Mom-and-pop restaurants are losing out to chains, but how can an independent restaurant stay viable in a big-box, mass-market world? Chain restaurants often have more money backing their endeavors than a family-owned business may have. One of the tools many chain restaurants use is geographical research to choose their next locations. Representatives from Starbucks Coffee, Chick-fil-A and Wendy’s spoke at...

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Budget spends millions for unwanted Border Strike Force

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The latest budget deal spends million of dollars on a new Border Strike Force created at Gov. Ducey’s request last year, but border county sheriffs say they want no part of it. The budget deal appropriates a total of $26.6 million to the Department of Public Safety specifically for the Border Strike Force under its command, which is about $5 million less than Ducey’s original $31.5 million bid. During his State of the State speech in January, Ducey called the Border Strike Force “a partnership between local, state and federal law enforcement that’s providing a force multiplier in the fight against drug cartels and border crimes.” That partnership was rocky from the start, spurring criticisms from border sheriffs in Cochise, Pima, Santa Cruz and Yuma counties. They remain skeptical about the Border Strike Force’s need, operational plan, effectiveness and...

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