/ Modified sep 30, 2020 5:14 p.m.

News roundup: Biden and Trump facing off in first debate, voter registration deadline nears

Recent coverage impacting Southern Arizona, Sept. 29.

Cases 218,184 | Deaths 5,632

On Tuesday, Sept. 29, Arizona reported 675 new cases of COVID-19 and eight additional deaths. The coronavirus response will be one of the topics in tonight's presidential debate. Find live video and analysis here.

5 questions heading into Trump and Biden's first debate


NEW YORK — President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, will meet on the debate stage for the first time Tuesday night in Cleveland. Millions of voters will get their first opportunity to compare the candidates’ policies and personalities side by side on national television for 90 minutes just five weeks before Election Day.

Some of the biggest questions heading into the night are how Trump will handle being on the defensive and how Biden will respond. Each candidate has been trying to cast the other in a negative light and on Tuesday will have a prime-time opportunity to debate the policies and rhetoric underlying those arguments.

Learn more here.

Find video and live analysis of the debate here.

Arizona voter registration deadline nearing


Arizona voters have less than a week to register to vote in the November election, and officials are urging care in filling out the form.

Arizona voters can fill out a voter registration form at ServiceArizona.com. Election officials warn people to pay attention to the instructions so the form is properly filed.

Sporadic problems have been reported to a national election tip line run by ProPublica, a nonprofit, investigative news outlet.

The last day to register to vote is Oct. 5.

Learn more here.

Voting advocates answer questions in virtual town hall geared for Native Americans


Voting advocates came together Monday night to answer Native American Arizonans' questions about voting.

The experts represented All Voting is Local Arizona, Arizona State University's Indian Legal Clinic and Arizona Advocacy Network and Foundation, with Election Protection Arizona and the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona also hosting.

Some of the barriers the speakers mentioned that hinder Native American voters are the lack of early and election day in-person voting sites, and a lack of street addresses on tribal lands, which can impact voter registration and mail-in voting.

Learn more here.

Your Vote 2020
Read more coverage of national, Arizona, and local elections at our 2020 elections portal, Your Vote 2020.

Civil engineers recommend raising taxes for Arizona road repairs


The American Society of Civil Engineers has issued a new report card for Arizona's infrastructure, and the state's roads don't make the grade.

The engineers gave Arizona's roads a D+, citing the many rugged stretches of asphalt across the state approaching the end of their operational lives. The state's roads have received the same poor marks since 2015, and, according to the report, the reason comes down to one thing: money.

"More money could be allocated to infrastructure by raising the gas tax and voting in favor of transportation initiatives," the report says. "For Arizonans, the repair costs attributed to poorly maintained roads and bridges is reported to be more than three times what the cost of an increased gas tax would be."

Learn more here.

Mexico Evaluating Drought Emergency Declaration In Sonora

Fronteras Desk

South of the border, just as in Arizona, much of Sonora is experiencing some level of drought. State officials are asking federal counterparts to declare an emergency in response.

“It is being processed, it is being evaluated,” said Blanca Jiménez Cisneros, head of the national water commission.

But in response to a question from the Sonoran newspaper El Imparcial, she said that compensation to agricultural producers is not being considered. Such support is only for guaranteeing the human right to water, she said.

Over 70% of municipalities in the state are experiencing at least moderate drought, with nearly 30% in a severe or extreme drought, according to the most recent data available from the federal water commission.

Sonoran Activists To March For Abortion Rights

Fronteras Desk

For the last 30 years, Sept. 28 has been celebrated as a day of action for the decriminalization of abortion in Latin America, the Caribbean and other parts of the world. And despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, activists in neighboring Sonora, Mexico are among those taking to the streets today.

Feminist activists in Sonora are marching to demand the right to free, safe and legal abortions. But above all to send a message to women that they aren’t alone, said Andrea Sanchez, an activist who helped organize the march in the Sonoran capital Hermosillo.

A growing number of Sonoran women are joining together to support each other and to push authorities to respect their reproductive rights, she said, including decriminalizing abortion. And young women are at the forefront of the movement, she added.

Currently, abortion is only legally available to all women who request the procedure up to 12 weeks into pregnancy in Mexico City and the state of Oaxaca, which legalized abortion last year. In Sonora, receiving or providing an abortion is punishable by law except in cases of rape, when the mother’s life is in danger or if the abortion is considered accidental.

Mexican President Apologizes For ‘State Crime’ Against Missing Students

Fronteras Desk

MEXICO CITY — The disappearance of 43 students in Mexico six years ago is still unclear, yet it has become a symbol in the fight for justice, as some theories say the government is behind it. Now, the Mexican president blames his predecessor and promises new arrests.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said his government would bring to justice those responsible for the disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College.

The president apologized on behalf of the state for what he considers a crime that was protected by his predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto.

The 43 students disappeared after hijacking buses to attend a protest in Mexico City. Back then, the official version blamed the local police and organized crime for their murder and abduction. But many, including the president, suspect that the military was behind.

Brnovich asks for unsigned ballots ruling to be put on hold


PHOENIX — Attorney General Mark Brnovich has asked an appeals court to hold off on enforcing a ruling that gives Arizona voters who forget to sign their early ballots up to five days after the election to fix the problem. The Republican attorney general made the request Monday to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals as his office challenges the lower-court ruling.

State and national Republican groups and President Trump’s campaign also asked for the ruling to be put on hold. Democratic groups argued it was unfair for officials not to allow voters to “cure” unsigned ballots.

Only a few thousand ballots are likely to be affected.

Learn more here.

Crews mopping up, patrolling lines around Arizona wildfire


PHOENIX — Firefighters are mopping up and patrolling containment lines around a wildfire in the Tonto National Forest near the northeastern outskirts of metro Phoenix. The fire management team said the grass and brush fire made “minimal movement” overnight and its estimated size remained at 22.2 square miles with 15% containment.

Team spokeswoman Susan Blake said crews worked to hold and improve containment lines to keep winds from pushing flames westward. Blake said crews also were working to protect Federal Aviation Administration infrastructure and monitoring recreation residences.

The fire has destroyed four residences and 10 outbuildings and forced deactivation of some power lines since starting Friday.

Learn more here.

US Latino civil rights group moves 2021 convention online


RIO RANCHO, N.M. — The oldest Latino civil rights group in the U.S. has decided to move its 2021 national convention online over the uncertainty caused by COVID-19. The League of United Latin American Citizens' board of directors voted Saturday to hold a virtual gathering for its members instead of a July 2021 in-person gathering in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The state currently limits the number of people for large gatherings and the group's national conventions typically attract thousands.

The virtual convention means the 90-year-old organization won't hold elections and members will not vote on any measures. Voting currently requires members to be physically present.

Learn more here.

Police: Woman's body found in Sierra Vista desert; No ID yet


SIERRA VISTA — Police in Sierra Vista say a woman has been found dead in the desert and they are trying to identify the body. They say the body was discovered around 6 p.m. Monday and there were no visible signs of trauma.

Police say the death doesn’t appear to be related to a drive-by shooting that occurred in the city earlier Monday. The body was taken to the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.

Police say the department’s Special Operations Bureau is conducting the death investigation.

Learn more here.

In a slump, Tucson's 'champion' yucca will likely lose title


The largest soaptree yucca in the United States used to stand stock-straight at the edge of a wash west of Oracle Road in Catalina, its unusually long, bristled stalk rising almost 30 feet in the air. Now the record-holding plant is seriously stooped, prompting experts and admirers to worry about its future.

Soaptree yuccas are native to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and northern Mexico, where they typically grow as small succulents in hot, dry conditions.

The one west of Oracle Road was declared the largest of the species in 2016 by the nonprofit conservation group American Forests, keepers of the National Register of Champion Trees.

Learn more here.

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