Category: Cronkite News

Arizona officials plan removal of invasive snail species in Salt River

Jordan Dafnis Tuesday, July 17, 2018 Arizona officials plan removal of invasive snail species in Salt River PHOENIX – Applesnails are a common aquarium pet, but they’ve also become a nuisance in some of the state’s waterways. The Arizona Game & Fish Department wants to eradicate them from the Salt River, and officials have enlisted the public’s help to clear the snails from certain areas. Erin Raney, the department’s aquatic invasive species coordinator, said the invasive species poses a threat to rivers and lakes. “They take up space and food,” she said. “And these particular snails, they eat a lot of vegetation. They’ll even eat small native snails and eggs.” The applesnail, native to South America, was likely introduced to in the U.S. through the aquarium trade, according to the U.S. Geological Survey . The department said the snails can have negative impacts to wetland and aquatic ecosystems, agricultural crops and human health. The snails can carry the rat lungworm, which can cause meningitis in humans. The applesnails will eat anything, but most species won’t eat them. “The native wildlife that typically eat snails don’t like to eat applesnails because they don’t taste good,” Raney said. That means they don’t have many predators, and they reproduce rapidly. One female can produce up to 15,000 offspring per year, according to the Arizona Game & Fish Department . The department hosts...

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Latest restrictions on Obamacare could mean higher premiums in Arizona

Sarabeth Henne Monday, July 16, 2018 Latest restrictions on Obamacare could mean higher premiums in Arizona WASHINGTON – The White House’s decision to suspend billions in Obamacare “risk adjustment” payments to insurance companies could hit tens of thousands of Arizonans in the pocketbook, as insurance companies grapple with new market uncertainty. That was the assessment of advocates and insurers both after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service this month stopped the payments that are aimed at helping insurance companies that agree to take on riskier, less-healthy clients. It comes as insurers are considering which markets to enter and what premiums to set for 2019, and is just the latest in a string of Trump administration changes that critics say are chipping away at the Affordable Care Act. “Putting the specifics of the risk adjustment program aside, the bigger challenge continues to be the stream of ongoing changes to the ACA,” said Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona President and CEO Pam Kehaly in an emailed statement. “The impact of this uncertainty falls squarely on individuals who are faced with higher premiums as insurers attempt to navigate a constantly changing landscape,” Kehaly’s statement said. Advocates were more direct, calling it just another step in the Trump administration’s “sabotage of the health insurance marketplace,” where more than 165,000 Arizonans bought health care coverage this year, according to the latest figures...

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A short wait: NCAA awards Phoenix its second Final Four

Jordan Kaye Monday, July 16, 2018 A short wait: NCAA awards Phoenix its second Final Four PHOENIX — Just a year after hosting its first Final Four, Phoenix has landed the mega-event again. The NCAA awarded the 2024 Final Four Monday and also granted Houston (2023), San Antonio (2025) and Indianapolis (2026) the right to host college basketball’s largest championship event. Like many across the country, Debbie Johnson was glued to her screen waiting for the official statement. The Director of Arizona’s Office of Tourism and the co-chair of the Phoenix Local Organizing Committee was just five days removed from standing in front of NCAA officials in Boston delivering Phoenix’s final presentation. “The presentation on Wednesday went as well as it could go,” Johnson said. “We walked out of the room saying, “OK, we did everything we could do and now it’s in the hands of the NCAA.” The NCAA delivered. Johnson admitted the short time between the 2017 Final Four and Wednesday’s presentation was a benefit for Arizona’s group. A few of the NCAA officials in attendance last week were in attendance for the group’s 2014 final presentation. Most, too, experienced the 2017 Final Four first-hand, and Johnson wanted to capitalize on the fresh memories. “It went really well,” Johnson said of the 2017 event. “We know we did a great job hosting. We had engagement and community...

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‘It doesn’t matter where children are born’: Migrant foster program may relaunch in Phoenix

Rebecca Spiess Monday, July 16, 2018 ‘It doesn’t matter where children are born’: Migrant foster program may relaunch in Phoenix FLAGSTAFF – Kelly Eckhoff tearfully remembers her time as a foster parent for children picked up at the border. “It didn’t matter how old they were, what gender they were, what country they came from,” she said, looking at her husband, Matt. “Every single one of them loved to be read to every day.” The Eckhoffs were raising their year-old son when they entered a pilot program to foster immigrant children in 2015, so their house was full of children’s books. No matter their age, no matter whether they understood English, the children were eager to hear the words read aloud. “What U.S. 12-year-old would curl up in your lap and read a picture book, a board book?” she asked. “It was always a highlight of my day.” The Eckhoffs were part of the yearlong pilot program to provide temporary housing for unaccompanied migrant children picked up at the U.S.-Mexico border. Most came from Mexico, Central America and South America. “Knowing that you have a family that loves you, that will sit and rub your back at night if you’re crying for Mom, that makes a huge difference,” Kelly Eckhoff said. The Refugio program, supported by Neighborhood Ministries, an organization fighting poverty in Phoenix, was financed by a one-year...

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