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ELECTION 2020-SENATE-ARIZONA-KELLY

Senate candidate in Arizona blasts military cuts for wall

PHOENIX (AP) — Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly is criticizing the Trump administration's plan to divert money from defense projects to build a wall along the Mexico border. Kelly said Friday that the plan isn't necessary and could impact the F-35 fighter program at Luke Air Force Base. The Pentagon on Thursday slashed billions of dollars in funding for 17 Navy and Air Force aircraft and other military programs to free up money for the wall. Kelly says border security is important but building a wall is an outdated way of achieving it. Kelly is a retired astronaut and is married to former Rep. Gabby Giffords.

BORDER PATROL-BUS CHECKS

AP Exclusive: Agency memo contradicts Greyhound on bus raids

SEATTLE (AP) — A Customs and Border Protection memo obtained by The Associated Press confirms that bus companies such as Greyhound do not have to allow Border Patrol agents on board to conduct routine checks for immigrants living in the country illegally. That's contrary to Greyhound's long insistence that it has no choice but to let the agents on board. Immigrant rights activists say the memo gives them additional leverage as they pressure Greyhound to stop allowing sweeps. Greyhound told the AP it appreciated the Border Patrol “clarifying” its policy. It declined to say whether it would prohibit agents from boarding its buses.

HAVASU-LONDON BRIDGE

Lake Havasu City to end closures of London Bridge for events

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. (AP) — Lake Havasu City officials plan to end scheduled closures of London Bridge for special events, saying they don't want to block vehicle travel between an island and the rest of the western Arizona city along the Colorado River. Today's News-Herald reports that city officials cited safety reasons and residents' concerns over hours-long closures. Events that have required bridge closures include the annual Line Dance on the London Bridge and Camaros on the Bridge. Feb. 23 will be the final time the Line Dance on the London Bridge will be staged atop the bridge.

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION ARREST

Trucker accused of trying to lure Arizona teen to Michigan

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities say a long-haul trucker has been arrested for allegedly trying to lure a teenage girl from Oro Valley to Michigan to have a sexual relationship with him. Oro Valley police say 44-year-old Gerard Dickinson had received sexually explicit images of the victim and knew she was 14 years old. They say the girl had run away from home and intended to travel to Michigan to meet with Dickinson. Police say they located the girl in Tucson, and she was returned home. They worked with Michigan State Police to take Dickinson into custody last Saturday. Police say Dickinson will be extradited to Pima County.

MARICOPA COUNTY ASSESSOR

Maricopa supervisors appoint replacement county assessor

PHOENIX (AP) — Gilbert Town Councilman Eddie Cook will be the next Maricopa County assessor with the county Board of Supervisors voting unanimously Friday to appoint him to replace indicted predecessor Paul Petersen. Cook was one of 11 applicants for the assessor, a countywide officer responsible for setting property tax valuations. Cook's appointment runs through Dec. 31 but he plans to run in this year's elections for a four-year term. Petersen resigned in January under pressure after being indicted last October on fraud charges involving an adoption operation involving pregnant women from the Marshall Islands. Petersen has pleaded not guilty. He worked as an adoption attorney while serving as county assessor. County officials say Cook will be sworn in as assessor next week.

FIREFIGHTER DEATHS-AUDIO RECORDINGS

Suit seeks radio recordings from Yarnell fire that killed 19

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) — A former fire crew superintendent has argued in a lawsuit that radio recordings could reportedly shed light on a fatal wildfire in Arizona that killed 19 Prescott hotshot crew members. The lawsuit seeks aircraft radio transmission recordings from the 2013 wildfire in Yarnell. The legal dispute is over whether the U.S. Department of Agriculture adequately searched for the documents that were requested in a 2016 Freedom of Information Act request. The Daily Courier reported Thursday that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments at a hearing in Phoenix. The Department of Agriculture says the information had already been made public.

AP-US-BOOKS-WINFREY-AMERICAN-DIRT

Winfrey holds TV discussion on 'American Dirt' in Arizona

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Oprah Winfrey's soon-to-be televised discussion about the controversial novel “American Dirt” is drawing scrutiny for not inviting some of the book's harshest Latino critics. The Arizona Daily Star reports the talk show host organized her much-hyped conversation with author Jeanine Cummins on Thursday after inviting around 250 people to the Harkins Theatres Arizona Pavilions in southern Arizona. The crowd was then directed to another Tucson, Arizona, location and asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement. Critics say the book relies on stereotypes, caricatures, and material similar to another Latino writer. The discussion will appear on the next episode in Winfrey's new Apple TV+ series Oprah's Book Club.

ELECTION 2020-DEMOCRATIC DEBATE

1st Democratic debate after Super Tuesday slated for Phoenix

PHOENIX (AP) — Democratic presidential hopefuls will debate in Phoenix next month in their first meeting after the crucial Super Tuesday primaries that typically narrow the field of candidates. The Democratic National Committee said Friday the debate will be broadcast on CNN and Univision on March 15. The debate comes two days before Arizona's March 17 primary, but many voters will likely have already cast their ballots in a state that votes overwhelmingly by mail. The DNC says the debate is being hosted in partnership with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Details including the location, moderators and qualification criteria were not disclosed.