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Students leave teacher with lasting message

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Walking into the administration offices of Agua Fria High School in Avondale, Arizona, Joshua Murray, 25, had no idea he would become known as the crazy teacher. What Murray has accomplished in his three-years at Agua Fria is as eclectic as the man himself. He covered the walls with photos of sloths. He believes it is his spirit animal. Each class begins with a Justin Timberlake song playing. Murray is the teacher of the Agua Fria High School AVID Program which is set towards preparing students for college. The Advancement Via Individual Determination Program is a nation wide program catered to steer students through high school entering higher education. Agua Fria started the program four years ago and the students graduating May, will be the first to complete the program. The AVID program trains educators the necessary skills to...

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Legislative roundup: Far from being done

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PHOENIX – The legislature passed its 100 day mark this week with still no budget – or solution to budget issues – in sight. The legislative session was scheduled to come to a close at the end of April, but an extra special session or two looks to be on the horizon if the budget can’t be delivered soon. Take some initiative Gov. Doug Ducey has been digging into initiative bills with fervor this session. Within the day that the legislature gave final approval to HBill 2244 and just two days after its renaming, Ducey signed the bill into law. HB2244 modifies the current standard for initiatives from substantial compliance to strict compliance. Basically, the bill will hold citizen-driven ballot measures to a higher legal standard and makes it more difficult for citizen-driven ballot measures to make it to the voters....

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Understanding the most powerful objects in the universe

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Usually when people observe hot gas coming out of something, they are watching a politician deliver a speech. Astronomers have found objects that do the same thing but in a far more spectacular fashion. Quasars contain a supermassive black hole, with a disk of gas orbiting around the black hole and are most commonly found near the center of galaxies. As the gas orbits the black hole, it becomes charged and energy is released in the form of electromagnetic radiation. Astronomer Paul Smith of the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona has dedicated nearly a decade to observing these extraordinary objects. Using the 2.3m Bok telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory, Smith has spent many nights viewing quasars. “This plays into my love of working at a telescope and obtaining accurate information with specialized instruments,” Smith said. According to Smith, other...

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Hayden sees its dying days

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It’s not a ghost town, but it feels like one. The streets of Hayden, Arizona, are lined with boarded-up businesses — Grimebusters Laundry, Casa Rivera Restaurant, an appliance store — and abandoned schools. Crumbling churches have “for sale” signs nailed to the doors, their crosses still beckoning worshippers for prayer. Traffic signs, symbols and road markings are rare. The Rex Theater hasn’t shown a movie since 1979. The foundations of former homes are charred pits, burned to the dusty ground with nothing salvageable to find in the rubble. If the wind could carry whispers from the past, what would Hayden have sounded like? Today, Hayden is quiet. Noises from the copper smelter chink and clang in the distance.                 Founded in 1911, Hayden was a company town owned by the Kennecott Copper...

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High-speed internet access could reach half of Arizona rural schools

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PHOENIX – Another $8 million will be combined with Gov. Doug Ducey’s proposed $5 million to give rural schools access to high-speed internet – but even including the state funds by the corporation commission, around half of the schools in Arizona won’t be served. Utilizing data from the census and the Arizona Department of Education, of the 222 districts in Arizona, 70 are considered urban and 152 are rural. Map created by Chrisitanna Silva/ Arizona Sonora News Service. Red dots are districts with below average scores. Green dots are districts with above average scores. The ARSA and federal e-rate programs are working together with the government to create contracts that will show how much money it will take to give every rural school high-speed internet access. Most schools that do not currently have high speed internet will require some sort of construction...

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UA researchers hope to cure diseases with a common brain parasite

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There might be a parasite in your brain. It’s estimated that up to one-third of the world’s population is infected with the brain parasite Toxoplasma Gondii. The U.S. has a relatively low rate of infected people, estimated to be between 10 to 25 percent. Countries such as France have an infection rate of 60 to 80 percent. As far as parasites go, Toxoplasma Gondii isn’t’ that bad, unless you’ve had a transplant and are left immunocompromised. Folks who have a weakened immune response can suffer brain damage, and even death if infected with toxoplasmosis. University of Arizona researchers are studying whether the unique relationship between the parasite and the brain could lead to breakthroughs in understanding Alzheimer’s and other brain-related illnesses. “There are very few microbes that can persist in the brain without causing symptoms,” said Dr. Anita Koshy, a research physician...

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Attention menopausal women: Want to be happier in life? New study says dump the chump

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You’re a young woman. You’re sitting at a fancy restaurant with your boyfriend of a few years. Suddenly, he gets down on one knee and presents to you a shiny engagement ring and asks you to marry him. You excitedly say yes, but according to a recent study done by the University of Arizona, as soon as you hit menopause, usually between the ages of 45 to 55, you might regret that answer. The Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study observed nearly 80,000 post-menopausal women over a three-year period to examine the relationship between divorce and health indicators such as blood pressure, waist circumference and body mass index. They also studied health behaviors such as diet pattern, alcohol use, physical activity and smoking. They found that women who are married are more likely to have increased body mass index, drink...

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Laughter may increase physical and emotion well-being

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The question of whether laughter is truly the best medicine for physical and psychological ailments has floated around the public for years. People have wondered if humor is a valid remedy when enduring trauma — and they may have reason to believe in its effectiveness. According to a 2014 study conducted by Barbara Butler, a science librarian for the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Oregon, a positive emotional state may increase pain tolerance, enhance immunity and undo cardiovascular consequences of negative emotions. Butler also concluded that using humor as a coping strategy may benefit physical health indirectly by moderating adverse effects of stress. William Fry, a psychology professor at Stanford University and one of the first scientists to suggest studying the effects of laughter, revealed in Butler’s study that humor and mirth contribute positively to...

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Legislative Roundup

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PHOENIX – This week was mostly playing catchup for last weeks marathon session. Last week, legislators pulled a total of eight hours for a single new bill that would bill that expands Empowerment Scholarship Accounts to allow students to take 90 percent of the state’s per-pupil funding and apply it private school costs. This week, the capitol was full of protestors and speakers voicing their anger that the bill passed so quickly, with such a small amount of public input. Let the Games Begin David Garcia, an Arizona State University professor, announced on Wednesday that he will be challenging Gov. Doug Ducey for the gubernatorial seat in 2018. He said he wasn’t planning on running, but the Empowerment Scholarship Accounts bill that passed last week made him feel like there had to be some changes.  Specialty License Plates There are more...

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Legislative Roundup: blue lives matter and weed on campus

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  PHOENIX – The beginning of this week started slowly at the legislature, with lawmakers waiting patiently on the budget to appear. Word on the street is that we should be seeing it pick up next week with late night discussions about what the budget will mean for education, Gov. Doug Ducey’s main event. Public school money for private educations On Thursday, things started heating up. Both the House and the Senate heard Senate Bill 1431, a bill that expands Empowerment Scholarship Accounts to allow students to take 90 percent of the state funded per-pupil funding schools receive, which is about $5,500 but will being going down to $4,400 by the time this bill would go into affect, toward private school funding. It got pretty fired up and protestors made their voice known. Democratic legislators say it could be devastating to...

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