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Trial opens in suit over Border Patrol detention conditions

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — The trial in a lawsuit alleging unsafe and inhuman detention conditions in several of the Border Patrol’s Arizona stations has begun in Tucson. The lawsuit filed in 2015 applies to eight Border Patrol facilities where attorneys say migrants are held in unsafe and inhumane conditions. The Border Patrol is already required to provide thin blankets and clean sleeping mats to migrants held for longer than 12 hours after the judge overseeing the case issued a preliminary injunction in 2016. But advocates say the Border Patrol still holds immigrants for prolonged periods in filthy and freezing conditions. The agency says its facilities are designed for adults and short-term stays.


Arizona governor to close prison, calls for veteran tax cut

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is renaming the state Department of Corrections to highlight a new focus on rehabilitation. He's also closing the oldest state prison in a move that will save nearly $275 million over three years. The Republican governor highlighted the moves in his State of the State address Monday. The prison system will now be called the Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry. He urged lawmakers to eliminate taxes on veterans' pensions. And he called on insurance companies to improve coverage for mental health as the state faces a growing number of suicides among young people.


Arizona groups seek tax hike on wealthy for education

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona's largest teachers union and other groups say they'll ask voters to raise taxes on people with high incomes to pay for teacher raises. The Arizona Education Association announced plans Monday for a ballot measure that would impose a 3.5 percent income tax on individuals making more than $250,000 or couple earning over $500,000. It's the latest attempt to boost education funding after the state Supreme Court blocked a similar initiative from the ballot following the 2018 “Red for Ed” teacher walkout. The strike secured higher wages for teachers, but many education interest groups said it fell short.


Reports detail man’s death months before son went missing

PHOENIX (AP) — A man who was fatally shot when picking up his son from his estranged wife in suburban Phoenix was confronted by his baseball bat-wielding stepdaughter, shortly before her uncle killed him during a dispute. The killing of Charles Vallow occurred months before his 7-year-old son Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 17-year-old stepdaughter Tylee Ryan went missing. Àuthorities say Vallow’s wife and her new husband never reported the children missing and disappeared soon after being questioned by police. Investigators previously provided an account of the July 11 death, but released records Monday that revealed Ryan confronted Vallow shortly before the shooting.


Arizona store gives 'Star Wars' record back to Mark Hamill

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The Force was strong enough at an Arizona store to reunite Luke Skywalker with his long-lost vinyl record. Actor Mark Hamill is praising workers at Bookmans Entertainment Exchange in Flagstaff for reuniting him with the “Star Wars: A New Hope” soundtrack that had been a gift from film composer John Williams. Hamill said in a tweet Saturday that it felt “totally unexpected & positively surreal” to have the record back. He commended the store for being honest and not selling it. The record surfaced at the store in 2018. Employees recently decided to try reaching out to Hamill, and he confirmed its authenticity.


Judge refuses to second-guess family separations at border

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A U.S. judge has ruled that the Trump administration is operating within its authority when separating families stopped at the Mexico border, rejecting arguments that it was quietly returning to widespread practices that drew international condemnation. The judge indicated he was uncomfortable second-guessing decisions to separate children on grounds that the parents were considered unfit or dangerous, or in other limited circumstances like criminal history, communicable diseases and doubts about parentage. He found no evidence that the government was abusing its discretion. In a partial victory for the ACLU, the judge said the government must settle any doubts about parentage with DNA tests.


Tucson district: End court supervision in desegregation case

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Tucson's largest school district wants to free itself of court supervision in a lengthy desegregation case that has resulted in a spending boost of over $60 million a year. Tucson Unified School District officials say it isn't segregated and that court approval of the request would save money being spent on legal fees and administration but still keep dollars flowing for related programs for students. Plaintiffs say TUSD is not there yet because it hasn't complied with all of the desegregation court order. The Arizona Daily Star reports TUSD is also required to focus on quality of education and other issues.


Cochise County board OKs racetrack and communications tower

WILLCOX, Ariz. (AP) — Cochise County’s planning and zoning commission has approved plans for a racetrack and a communications tower. Commissioners unanimously approved a special use authorization to allow Richard Wilson to build a dirt racetrack on a 42-acre parcel east of Willcox. The facility will be constructed in phases and will include bleachers, a ticket booth, concessions, restrooms, storage containers and lighting. Wilson told the commission the plan is to hold events on Saturday nights only. He also plans to hold special events such as tractor pulls and antique car races. The commission also approved an application by AT&T Mobility to erect a 199-foot tall wireless communications tower near Portal on a 191-acre parcel.