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Ben Shanahan, Arizona Daily Sun 

Northern Arizona University’s Torry Johnson (0) rises to the hoop for a layup during play earlier this season against Idaho at the Walkup Skydome.

Lunar showstopper: Super blue blood moon awes and wows

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The moon put on a rare cosmic show Wednesday: a red blue moon, super big and super bright.

It's the first time in 35 years a blue moon has synched up with a supermoon and a total lunar eclipse, or blood moon because of its red hue.

Hawaii and Alaska had the best seats, along with the Canadian Yukon, Australia and Asia. The western U.S. also had good viewing, along with Russia.

At the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, hundreds gathered on the lawn in the wee hours under clear skies. Traffic was backed up more than a mile around the observatory. Sky-gazers also lined the beach near the Santa Monica Pier, some snapping photos and others reclining in the sand, their faces turned upward.

John Cook joined fellow photography enthusiasts at the pier, using the ferris wheel and roller coaster for his foreground.

"It was incredible," said Cook, a visual effects artist for films. Photographers also gathered at the Telegraph Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, striving to get the famous Coit Tower in their moon shots.

In San Francisco's Marina district, a crowd gathered to watch the super blue blood moon, as NASA calls it, set over the Golden Gate Bridge. Spectators got lucky: There were clear skies and no trace of the city's famous fog.

"It's very cinematic, the way the moon is changing colors and reflecting on the water," said Clara Cambon, who arrived around 5:30 a.m. with her husband.

On the other side of the Pacific, where it was already nightfall, hundreds descended on the Tokyo Garden Terrace Kioicho complex, where telescopes and binoculars were plentiful. A TV monitor showed zoom-in views of the moon, and a university professor gave a run-down as the eclipse unfolded.

"It's wonderful to be at this precious event and to have been able to see the moon looking so beautiful," said Mayumi Kimura, a visitor.

The U.S. East Coast, Europe and most of South America and Africa were out of luck for the total eclipse. At Cape Canaveral, Florida, where a rocket delivered America's first satellite to orbit exactly 60 years ago — Explorer 1 — the blue super moon loomed large in the sky.

The second full moon in a calendar month is a blue moon. This one also happened to be an especially close and bright moon, or supermoon. Add a total eclipse, known as a blood moon for its red tint, and it was a lunar showstopper.

NASA called it a lunar trifecta: the first super blue blood moon since 1982. That combination won't happen again until 2037. For those looking ahead, the next supermoon is in February, the next blue moon is in March and the next total lunar eclipse is in July, according to NASA.

NASA lunar scientist Noah Petro said he was astonished — and thrilled — by all the attention and fuss. The total solar eclipse that swept across the U.S. in August contributed to Wednesday's buzz, he noted. Missing out on the eclipse from his home in Virginia, he watched the event online Wednesday morning with his two children, ages 3 and 7.

"I hope that people use this as an opportunity to dig in a little more and learn about our own planet, our wonderful sister planet, the moon, and the sun and all the other great objects in the solar system," Petro said on his way to work at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

A total lunar eclipse — considered the most scientific of Wednesday's threesome — occurs when the sun, Earth and moon line up perfectly, casting Earth's shadow on the moon.

Scientists were keen to study the sharp, sudden drop in temperature at the lunar surface as Earth's shadow blankets the moon. During the more than one hour of totality, the temperature plunged 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius), said Petro. He's deputy project scientist for NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, circling the moon since 2009. His team took special precautions to keep the spacecraft warm during the eclipse.

For the trivia crowd, the moon was 223,820 miles away at the peak of the eclipse, close enough for supermoon status, according to NASA.

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No immigration deal near as Trump speech, offer are panned

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's State of the Union offer of a "down-the-middle compromise" on immigration did nothing to move Republicans and Democrats closer to a deal Wednesday, as Democrats accused the president of lacing his speech with racially charged remarks and Republicans dug in on their demands.

The reaction to Trump's high-profile overture suggested both parties were settling into a protracted tug-of-war. The standoff left serious doubt whether the two parties could reach an election-year pact to protect hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation, sharpen border security and take other steps to curb immigration. The two parties had not even settled on a deadline an agreement — a bad sign in an institution that rarely acts unless under pressure.

"If the deadline is Feb. 8, we're not going to make it," No. 2 House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said Wednesday, noting a looming deadline for approving government funding to avoid another shutdown.

"It's going to take work for us to build a consensus," Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., the House GOP vote counter, said in an interview Tuesday. Scalise noted that Republicans took "weeks and weeks" to craft tax legislation last year.

Earlier this month, Senate Democrats looking to pressure Republicans to reach an immigration deal forced a three-day federal shutdown. While many Democrats have little appetite to repeat that strategy, party leaders have yet to indicate if they'll let future budget legislation move forward without an immigration accord.

The tone of the immigration debate, already testy, seemed to worsen after Trump asserted Tuesday night that "open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities" and let millions of immigrants "compete for jobs and wages against the poorest Americans."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Wednesday that Trump used "insulting words of ignorance and prejudice." Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., who leads the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said the remarks were "meant to enflame tensions about immigrants" and would stir up Trump's conservative base but damage talks.

Republicans said Democrats are not making serious offers as they bargain over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the Obama-era program that's shielded "Dreamers" in the U.S. illegally who were brought here as children. Trump said last year he was ending the program, claiming executive overreach by President Barack Obama, but gave Congress until March 5 to enshrine it into law.

"If Democrats don't figure out a way to negotiate, then the DACA program will end and that's not an outcome I think anybody would like," said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Senate GOP leader. "But they will be responsible for it."

Even that March 5 date was in doubt, according to No. 2 House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who's been meeting with other leaders. He said Wednesday that Republicans suggested Trump could extend that deadline, though a congressional GOP aide said he was unaware of that.

The urgency of the March 5 deadline was also blunted by a federal judge's decision to temporarily block the end of the DACA program. As a result, U.S. immigration authorities resumed accepting requests to renew DACA permits, which provide recipients permission to live and work in the country.

Trump has proposed a 10- to 12-year track to citizenship for around 1.8 million younger immigrants protected by DACA or eligible for its guarantees. That's enraged GOP conservatives.

"The heartburn is the amnesty component," said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., leder of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, referring to Trump's offer of citizenship. He said that plan needs "a few adjustments that may be major" before it could pass the House.

Trump also wants $25 billion for border security including his prized wall, a campaign pillar he promised Mexico would finance. He would end a lottery used to encourage immigration from diverse countries including African nations and redistribute some of those visas to applicants with high-skilled jobs.

He would also limit relatives that immigrants could sponsor for legal U.S. status to spouses and minor children. He calls that "chain migration," a term immigration advocates find nearly as offensive as the idea of barring them from helping parents, siblings and other relatives.

"We will not reach agreement as long as he wants to attack the very underpinning of legal immigration. My sister is not a distant relative," said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., a hard-line pro-immigration advocate.

GOP lawmakers were also wary of changes Trump would make, such as potential curbs on visas that allow temporary agriculture or seasonal workers into the U.S.

"I favor legal immigration, I want to eliminate illegal immigration," said Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D. He said Trump's proposal was "a good first step" and added, "Let each of the two houses do their work."

The conservative-leaning Cato Institute has called Trump's proposals "draconian restrictions on legal immigrants" that would exclude nearly 500,000 legal immigrants annually, cutting their numbers by nearly 50 percent.

Without a deal, Democrats risked a backlash from liberal voters furious about any failure to protect the Dreamers. Republicans were wary of letting deportations begin in a year in which they'll be defending Senate seats in Nevada and Arizona, swing states with high Hispanic populations.

Flagstaff council fast-tracks anti-Hub zoning changes

The Flagstaff City Council wants the transect zoning districts remapped, and they want it soon before another Hub comes along.

That was the message directed at city staff Tuesday night when asked about the council’s priorities for the community development department.

Several members of the council voiced their support of moving the remapping process to the forefront of Zoning Code Manager Brian Kulina’s priorities, a sentiment echoed by members of the public.

“I think we made promises to the community about the mapping,” Councilman Charlie Odegaard said at the meeting.

The issue was originally brought up during the first phase of amendments to the city’s zoning code, designed to address concerns that stemmed from the construction of The Hub, an apartment complex oriented to Northern Arizona University students that many community members contend is out of scale and inappropriate for its location. A Superior Court judge ruled that such a building is allowed in the zoning districts that encompass The Hub’s location.

The Hub spans two zoning districts. One of the districts, called T4, is designed to “reinforce established neighborhoods and to maintain neighborhood stability in walkable urban areas, while allowing such areas to evolve with the integration of small building footprints and medium density building types,” according to the zoning code.

However, members of the council and the public have suggested some areas that are zoned T4 should actually have been given the T3 distinction, which the code says  “is intended to preserve and build upon the existing pattern of development. New development, renovations, and additions should therefore be in character and scale with existing valued patterns.”

Recalibrating the zones to make the allowed uses more comparable to existing ones was already listed as a next step for the zoning code changes. However, city staff suggested the process could start after the Southside specific plan gets completed and adopted, which is projected to be in April 2019. The council instead directed city staff to work on bringing forward the remapping process in tandem with the specific plan for the neighborhood.

Marie Jones, the chairwoman for the community advocacy group Stand Up for Flagstaff and a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, expressed her support for the effort to edit the zoning map, and said the public input process should be formalized.

“The public engagement process tends to be pretty inconsistent and at times, not very meaningful,” Jones said, adding she felt sometimes the perception seems to be public engagement will slow the project down, which she said is not the case.

Jones and Charlie Silver, another member of Stand Up for Flagstaff, said they also would like the city to prioritize creating a design review board or committee, which Flagstaff has had in the past and is common in other cities, including Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Tucson and several others in Arizona.

The city will also prioritize amendments to the regional plan and create several specific plans in the upcoming years.

The Hub in Flagstaff, as planned for the Mikes Pike frontage.

In a presentation at the meeting, Comprehensive Planning Manager Sara Dechter suggested the council prioritize the major plan amendment associated with Proposition 413, which was passed by voters in November and required 300 acres of land near Buffalo Park be rezoned as open space. The steps to rezone the land are already complete, but the city’s regional plan still shows some of the land as areas for possible employment.

Dechter and her team also created a “high occupancy housing overlay” based on community feedback about where residents find large-scale high occupancy developments appropriate. The item could be added to the high occupancy housing plan.

However, the overlay would not limit developers to places identified. There are many places throughout the city, including most of downtown Flagstaff and the Southside, where high occupancy housing projects are allowed by property rights but are not identified by the overlay as desirable areas for that type of development.

Dechter’s team is also in the beginning stages of the Southside specific plan, similar to the high occupancy housing plan that the council is expected to weigh in on in February. She told the council she and her team have the capacity to work on only one specific plan per year. After the Southside plan, Dechter said the city aims to get started on a plan for the J.W. Powell corridor north of the airport, where there are several large parcels and plans to create better access.

Other areas that could get specific plans in the future include the Brannen Homes and Pine Knoll areas, Ponderosa Parkway and Butler Avenue, Sunnyside, West Route 66 and Milton Road, according to her presentation.

Mayor Coral Evans worried some of the plan will not come to fruition for several years or more, and neighborhoods can change completely during that time. Evans suggested the city prioritize the Pine Knoll and Brannen plan and the Sunnyside plan after the two Dechter listed are complete.

“Something that came up during this election was how poorly we plan for the future,” Evans said. “We need to have planning documents in place for who’s coming.”

top story
Bill seeks stadium ban on team names that disparage Native Americans

PHOENIX -- A Native American lawmaker wants a new state law to forbid the display of any name or logo of any sports team at any publicly funded stadium if any of the state's 22 tribes finds it "disparaging."

The legislation by Rep. Eric Descheenie, D-Tuba City, is aimed primarily at the Washington Redskins. But Descheenie said it also could affect other professional and college-level teams who have mascots or names that tribes consider offensive.

On Wednesday, Descheenie said he believes HB 2499, if approved, will pass constitutional muster. The key, he said, is that the only conduct that will be prohibited are those actions taken on behalf of the government which owns the facilities.

"Fans can continue to wear, display and say what they want," he said. And he said nothing prohibits the Washington team from continuing to use what he calls "the R word" as its name or mascot.

What it would do is keep that word and logo -- and others that might fall in the same category -- from being displayed anywhere in the stadium, whether on the scoreboard, on the giant TV screen or even on any banners mounted in and around any stadium or multipurpose facility "acquired, constructed, financed, leased or maintained with public money."

That, by definition, goes beyond the University of Phoenix stadium where the Cardinals play, extending to Chase Field in downtown Phoenix, various spring training sites as well as facilities at or operated by the state's three universities or community colleges.

And that ban would appear to extend beyond sports events to also cover trade shows, meetings and even concerts at any of those same facilities.

"This is not about free speech," he said.

Descheenie said the First Amendment protects only the rights of individuals and companies to say what they want. What it does not cover, he said, are situations where the government is using its resources to make the statement, precisely what Descheenie said is happening when the word "Redskins" appears on a display at a facility which is owned, run or financed by taxpayers.

The legislation drew the support of Amanda Blackhorse, a member of the Navajo Nation who attempted to get the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the registration of the "Redskins" name as offensive. That effort ultimately failed after the U.S. Supreme Court said the provision of federal law allowing cancellation of offensive names runs contrary to the First Amendment.

Blackhorse said psychological studies show that such mascots lower the self-esteem of Native American youths while boosting the self-esteem of non-Native children.

"So while our children suffer, non-Natives can feel good about their sports team," Blackhorse said. "There's something very wrong with that."

Descheenie acknowledged under questioning that his legislation, as crafted, would allow the council of a single Arizona tribe to make the unilateral decision of what terms are "disparaging" and impose that decision on publicly funded stadiums statewide. But he was unapologetic for that.

"If one tribe is offended, that's one too many," Descheenie said.

Still, he conceded that all tribes may not agree on what words are disparaging.

That occurred more than a decade ago amid efforts that eventually renamed Squaw Peak in Phoenix to Piestewa Peak to honor Laurie Piestewa, the first Native American woman soldier to be killed in combat. Not all tribes found the word "squaw" to be derogatory.

And there are other implications. For example, Descheenie said his legislation could permit a tribe to decide that the term "Indian" -- what Christopher Columbus mistakenly named the native people he found on coming to America -- is disparaging.

The Cleveland baseball team has been under fire, mostly because of the Chief Wahoo logo. The team has agreed to retire that logo, though it will remain on some sports gear.

But Blackhorse said that is not enough, saying she's still upset that the team is keeping the name.

"The term 'Indian' may not be a disparaging term," Blackhorse said.

"But we must all understand that using Native Americans as mascots is wrong, period," she continued."You can't minimize oppression and racism, hoping it will just go away."

Descheenie said it comes down to context.

He said using the word "Indian" to note a tribe's status under federal law is perfectly fine. But if it's a mascot? "Absolutely," Descheenie said.

He said that the legislation might require some amendments if and when it gets a hearing.

So far, though, House Speaker J.D. Mesnard has not assigned the bill, introduced Tuesday, to a committee. At that point whoever chairs the committee has the unilateral authority to decide whether to provide a hearing.

Kyley Schultz, Cronkite News  

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye joined leaders of other tribes who told a House committee that a proposal to shrink the new Bears Ears National Monument ignored the will of tribal governments.