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Representatives of the Tohono O’odham Nation, Glendale and other organizations broke ground in August on the tribe’s planned $400 million casino resort in the West Valley.

Bills that would halt construction on a Tohono O’odham casino in Glendale passed committees in both the House and the Senate on Wednesday. The Keep the Promise Act of 2015 – introduced by U.S. Sen. John McCain and U.S. Rep. Trent Franks – would “prohibit gaming activities on certain Indian land in Arizona until the expiration of certain gaming compacts” in 2027. Read more» 2

Rep. Martha McSally, an Air Force veteran, remembers when her branch of the military considered letting women serve as combat pilots back in the 1990s. “We … had a chief of staff of the Air Force testifying before Congress against women flying in combat aircraft, and he would be asked things like, ‘So you would rather pick a less-qualified man over a more-qualified woman to go fly these aircraft?’” McSally recalled. Read more»

The State Department's Simon Henshaw, right, told a Senate committee that the family reunification plan aims to keep unaccompanied Central American youth from making dangerous treks to the U.S. border.

The program aims to stop a repeat of last summer, when unaccompanied minors showed up at the Southwest border after dangerous treks from Central American homes to rejoin parents in the U.S. But senators worried it could further weaken immigration standards. Read more»

Just four Arizona hospitals got the top score in a report on patient satisfaction with U.S. hospitals. Arizona's average of three stars on the five-star scale was 41st in the nation. None of the six Tucson hospitals included in the report received above a three-star rating. Read more»

A sampling of this year's endangered species Earth Day condoms from the Center for Biological Diversity. Art is by Shawn DiCriscio and package design by Lori Lieber.

The Center for Biological Diversity worries that Earth Day has lost its focus on overpopulation, so it will deliver an unusual reminder – 50,000 free endangered species condoms. The condom giveaway is just one of many ways people are marking Earth Day. Read more»

Sen. Jeff Flake said that while 95 percent of asset forfeiture cases are probably OK, it's 'the other 5 percent' that officials need to worry about.

A Senate panel was told that while civil asset forfeitures can be a valuable tool for compensating victims and funding police work, there are too many loopholes that allow abuses of the system. That can lead police to shift their focus from fighting crime to padding budgets. Read more»

Defense Department officials said national security has to be the primary goal of the development buffer around Fort Huachuca, that environmental protection is a 'fortunate happenstance.'

A trio of federal agencies announced this week that Fort Huachuca will be part of a program aimed at preventing land development around bases, to aid military operations while protecting vulnerable environments. Conservationists are skeptical. Read more» 1

A Natural Resources Defense Council map shows extreme weather events – from high temperatures to floods and wildfires – in Arizona that it says are linked to climate change.

Arizona was one of seven states highlighted in a CDC report on programs aimed at reducing the health problems stemming from climate change. That report, in turn, was cited by President Barack Obama as he unveiled a series of actions aimed at climate-related health issues. Read more»

A form from the last Census in 2010. Officials say tracking down people who don’t reply to the form is one of the most expensive parts of the decennial census.

Maricopa County was selected to test new methods of collecting population data in advance of the 2020 Census. Read more»

Bundles of marijuana found with six men in January 2015 by Tucson Sector Border Patrol agents in the desert near a Gila River Indian community in Pinal County.

With her first piece of legislation, introduced Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Martha McSally joined with Sen. John McCain in focusing on spotters for drug cartels — who conduct covert surveillance to help smugglers dodge border agents. Read more» 1

Summer clouds form over Mather Point on the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. The point is one of the first and most popular stops for many visitors to the Grand Canyon National Park.

The National Park Service said Monday that there’s close to $11.5 billion in deferred maintenance in the nation’s parks, more than $516 million of it due at facilities in Arizona. Most of the state’s amount was attributable to a backlog of projects at Grand Canyon National Park, which needs $329 million in improvements. Read more» 1

Bison, like those in this file photo from Montana, are causing environmental damage in the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park.

Arizona lawmakers have a simple solution to the problem of bison that are overgrazing and damaging Grand Canyon National Park's North Rim area - hunting. They're backing bills to allow "skilled volunteers" to hunt bison in the normally hunting-free park and to keep their kill. Read more»

Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said doing away with 'fire borrowing' doesn’t cost more, but is 'more efficient, more effective and it’s just a better business approach' to fighting wildfires.

The Forest Service budget for fighting wildfires has been underfunded in eight of the last 10 years, leading the agency to raid other budgets to pay the firefighting bills. It's past time to end that "fire borrowing" and fully fund wildfire programs, the service's chief testified. Read more»

Vice President Joe Biden, left, listens with Maryland Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger and Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski as a forensic technician explains the process of DNA testing of a rape kit.

As many as 400,000 “rape kits” nationwide have not been tested, thousands of them in Arizona, a backlog that advocates and government officials say is delaying the identification of potential rapists. In Arizona, the true extent of the backlog is uncertain because police departments here, as in many other states, are not required to track the backlog of rape kits. Read more»

Rep. Martha McSally, a veteran who flew missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, worried about 'arbitrary' limitations on ground forces in the request to authorize military force against ISIS.

President Obama wants Congress to authorize the use of military force against the Islamic State militants waging a brutal campaign in parts of Iraq and Syria. House members asked if the request was too narrow and if allies were capable of holding on to any U.S. gains. Read more»

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