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NASA’s Ozone Monitoring Instrument image of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels on June 29, as three Arizona wildfires burned. High NO2 levels, in molecules per square centimeter, mean high combustion. Here, the Yarnell Hill fire was burning hottest.

Climate change, and the consistently hotter and drier weather that comes with it, is largely the cause of the recent “sharp increase” in the number and intensity of wildfires, NASA officials said Friday. Read more»

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that obesity among preschoolers increased between 2008 and 2011 in only three states that were measured, and stayed the same or fell in 37 states.

The obesity rate for low-income Arizona preschoolers remained level from 2008 to 2011 after growing sharply in previous years, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. Read more»

Arizona’s B on a national report card on financial literacy instruction in the nation’s schools put it in the top 40 percent of states. While Arizona requires classes in personal finance, it does not require an assessment, which would have gotten the state an A.

Arizona got a B on a recent national report card that graded states for their efforts to improve financial literacy in high schools. Read more»

The bill, expected to be signed by the president, retroactively lowers most federal student loan interest rates from 6.8 percent to 3.86 percent. But it would let that rise as 10.5 percent in some cases in coming years.

Arizona students who rely on federal student loans to go to college can breathe easy – at least for now. Read more»

Arizona Department of Economic Security Director Clarence Carter told a House Ways and Means subcommittee that the lack of a cohesive objective among the many social service programs hinders their efficiency.

The director of Arizona’s Department of Economic Security told a House subcommittee Wednesday that money’s not the problem when it comes to the welfare system – the system is. Read more»

Third grade is a critical time because it’s when children shift from 'learning to read' and begin 'reading to learn,' in the words of one educator.

Arizona children entering third grade this year are the first who will have to prove that they can read at an acceptable level or face being held back. The Department of Education estimates that the law will force about 1,500 children to repeat third grade next year. Another 17,000 third graders are at risk of being held back Read more»

President Barack Obama, backed by several dozen people he said have benefited from health care reform, made a renewed case for the law as the House voted to delay key parts of it.

More than 420,000 Arizonans will get health insurance rebates under Obamacare, the White House said Thursday, as President Barack Obama went on the offensive for his beleaguered health-care plan. The announcement came one day after House Republicans and a handful of Democrats – including three from Arizona – voted to delay the law’s mandates until 2015. Read more»

A costumed Spider-Man character in web-shooting pose. A Tucson inventor who devised a web-shooting toy is no longer entitled to royalties for it, a federal court has ruled.

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that Marvel Enterprises Inc. no longer has to pay royalties to the Tucson inventor of a Spider-Man web-shooter, after the patent on the toy expired. A reluctant panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court‘s ruling against Stephen Kimble in a published opinion. Read more» 1

For a couple of hours last week, it looked like the Senate would give Alex Miller a chance to relax. Miller, an ASU senior, faces the possibility that she will have to pay an extra $1,000 this year for her college loan, after a July 1 deadline to keep loan rates from doubling passed without congressional action. Read more»

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, shown here in a May photo, said he called for civilian furloughs 'reluctantly' but that they were crafted to have the least impact on defense readiness while meeting budget-cutting goals under sequestration.

Defense Department furloughs that took effect Monday will mean about a 20 percent reduction in pay for the rest of this fiscal year for the roughly 8,400 department civilian employees in Arizona. The furloughs do not affect active military, but most civilian defense workers will lose 11 days of pay between now and Sept. 30 because of sequestration. Read more»

Among states in 2011, Arizona got the third-largest share of its general revenues from the federal government, according to a Tax Foundation report. Its 45.7 percent trailed only Louisiana and Mississippi.

Almost half of Arizona’s general revenues came from federal funds in fiscal 2011, the third-highest share in the nation, according to a recent report from the Tax Foundation. 45.7 percent of Arizona’s general revenue came from federal aid, lower than only Mississippi and Louisiana, and well above the national average of 36 percent. Read more»

Rainbow flags and posters were in abundant supply outside the Supreme Court where people rallied in anticipation of court rulings on two high-profile same-sex marriage cases.

The Supreme Court’s rulings on same-sex marriage are not likely to have a direct effect on states that ban gay marriage, like Arizona, where both sides said they now expect the fight to resume. Read more»

Phoenix native David Baker, 24, an openly gay member of the Mormon Church, has been rallying in front of the Supreme Court since Monday waiting for the court’s ruling on same-sex marriage laws.

Protestor numbers are likely to explode Wednesday, when rulings are expected on the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and woman, and California’s Proposition 8, which overturned a law in that state that had legalized same-sex marriages. Read more»

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Glendale, did not speak on his own bill before the House, after creating a furor in committee last week with comments on rape and abortion.

The House on Tuesday voted to ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, capping a week of controversy with passionate debate over the measure before approving it largely on party lines. Read more»

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Glendale, created a furor with a remark last week on his bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks, which is why some believe House Republicans amended the bill to soften it before a full House vote.

House Republicans tried to distance themselves from Rep. Trent Franks’ controversial comments over an abortion bill by quietly amending it to include language that the Glendale Republican had tried to block, experts said. Franks caused a furor last week when he said that “estimates of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low” as he argued against a rape-or-incest exception to his bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks. Read more»

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