Earthquakes Rattles Phoenix, Terrifies Pets

Phoenix is not exactly known for its earthquakes. The desert metropolis is located 372 miles from Los Angeles and over 750 miles from San Francisco, the two American cities known for earth rattling activity. Nevertheless, our desert metropolis experienced three back to back earthquakes earlier this month that shook our residents and more importantly, frightened our pets.

On November 1 around 11:29 pm Arizona time, a 4.1 magnitude quake shook Phoenix and surrounding areas. It was followed by a 3.2 magnitude quake at 8:59 pm and a 4.0 magnitude quake at 11:49 pm. Several smaller aftershocks followed and Ryan Porter, a seismologist at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff expects more. “Earthquakes are pretty uncommon for Arizona” said Porter. But this does not mean that Arizona is completely immune. According to Porter, the activity was caused due to a pulling apart of the earth’s crust. Northeastern Arizona is located on what is known as the Colorado Plateau, a part of the earth that is considered somewhat stable. The plateau also covers much of Colorado, along with parts of Utah and New Mexico. The southern part of the state is on a “basin and range” landscape where valleys and basins give way to mountain ranges. In between these two formations is a “transition zone.” Much of Phoenix is located in this transitional area and this quake was likely caused by the two regions pulling away from each other.

A 4.1 magnitude quake is enough to notice. Though not as severe as past earthquakes in other parts of the US and the world, most Phoenix residents reported light shaking. The extent of the damage to infrastructure and personal belongs is not yet known.

Many Phoenix area residents also reported that their pets sensed the earthquake much more so than they did. Though dogs and cats have no way of sensing earthquakes before they happen, their keen sense of hearing and heightened level of alertness makes them capable of sensing vibrations before their human owners. Animal expert Dr. Grey Stafford told Phoenix’ Fox 10 news that one of his two dogs, 9 year old dog Venti, was sound asleep through the quake. However, his German Shepherd started roaming the house looking for her owners.

Other pet owners reported similar pet responses. Tempe, Arizona resident Harlan Cervantes keeps 7 Italian Greyhounds that he takes wild boar hunting in northern Texas. Though the breed is not known for its level of alertness, Cervantes said that all of his dogs noticed the quake right away. “This breed has above average intellect and hound instinct which is why they are great for boar hunting” noted Cervantes. “It is why they noticed the tremors. They packed up and started roaming the house like on a hunt.”

Experts suggest that in the event of an earthquake, cats and dogs will typically know where to hide to avoid falling debris. Cats especially are excellent at finding the safest place in the house. In addition, pet owners should remember to take basic common sense pet precautions, like keeping vaccinations up to date and microchipping their pets. Though most pets will be scared during the quake, these basic steps will ensure that they will stay safe during and after the occurrence.

Pilot Dies on a Phoenix To Boston Plane

In the last week of September, an unfortunate and surprising incident occurred in one of the Phoenix to Boston flights, where the captain lost his life mid-flight. Michael Johnston, as his name was later revealed by the American Airlines CEO Doug Parker, lost his life in a rather unexpected manner as he piloted Flight 550.

As reported by his co-pilot, the 57 year old captain suffered a short illness and eventually passed away in the cockpit of the US Airways Flight 550. The plane, which had taken off from the Phoenix Sky Harbour International Airport at 11.55pm, was scheduled to touch down in Boston a couple of hours later.

A couple of hours into the flight, the co-pilot made a distress call saying that the captain was incapacitated. According to a radio transcript posted by, his precise words were, “Syracuse, American 550, medical emergency, captain is incapacitated, request handling for runway.” After receiving clearance, he subsequently landed the plane in Syracuse at precisely 7.13am. Unfortunately, despite efforts by the emergency medical team, the captain was pronounced dead as soon as the plane touched down.

Since the remaining crew of four was presumably in shock and required time to deal with the grief and trauma of losing their workmate, American immediately sent in a replacement crew to take over. They ultimately landed the plane in Boston at 12.34pm local time.

In a letter addressed to American Airlines employees, the CEO expressed grief and extended his condolences to the late captain’s wife Betty Jean, and the entire family. After stating that the company will take care of the bereaved family, he called to the employees to keep them in their thoughts and prayers.

Having started his American West Airlines career in 1990, the late captain had served the airline for two and a half decades. After graduating from Brigham Young University, he joined the company and began as a Dash-8 first officer. He subsequently rose through the ranks to Boeing 737, 757, and ultimately the Airbus 320. The company also did evolve- merging with US Airlines in 2005, and American in 2013.

KUTV, a television station based in Utah, reported that the medics informed the wife that the captain likely died of a heart attack. Mrs. Johnston did indeed confirm that her husband previously suffered from heart problems, and had had a bypass surgery in 2006. He was subsequently cleared to fly by the Federal Aviation Administration, which usually conducts health assessments on pilots aged 40 and above every 6 months. By the time of his death, Captain Mike Johnston had already undergone a physical in June and the next one was scheduled in December.

Although very rare, this is not the first time such an incident has occurred. In 2013, a captain suffered a heart attack mid-flight, and later lost his life in a hospital after being checked in by a team of emergency medics. His plane had been landed by his co-pilot, with the help of an off-duty United Airlines pilot who coincidentally, was on board



Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Program to Cut Payments

Many individuals and families throughout the United State rely on their state for assistance with finances. Temporary Assistance to Needy Family Programs help to provide families with money for food, housing, electricity, day care, and other financial assistance. While many families are provided these benefits for several years, the programs are really set up for temporary financial assistance. This means people who are looking for a job should receive assistance until they secure a position. However, many people have multiple children which means more financial hardships. This is especially true for single parents, therefore, TANF programs throughout the state provide families with a sense of security when it comes to managing their finances. Unfortunately, one state is looking to cut payments to these families.

Arizona TANF program to cut costs

The state of Arizona is going to become the first, and currently the only state to impose a one year lifetime limit for temporary assistant benefits. In doing this, payments will be cut for about 1,600 families throughout the state. The executive director for the Arizona Community Action Association, Cynthia Zwick, believes that this is an intentional effort to undermine support for vulnerable families. She is also worried that families who rely on TANF benefits will end up homeless or unable to provide the safest living environments for their children. If this is the case, we have to look at the well-being of all children that will be affected by this change. These families are not trying to cheat the system, like many who do not receive benefits believe. Types of families in need include ones who are single parents, those working under twenty hours a week, families where one parent is disabled, and pregnant mothers. These are the individuals who will now only receive one year of benefits in their lifetime.

What cutting payments will do to the budget

The Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey, has not made much comment about the change in TANF funding. A spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Economic Security claims that state is expected to save $325,000 per month, with families only able to utilize TANF benefits for one year. While millions of Americans receive TANF benefits in their state, the average Arizona family receives about $195 in assistance each month. The money saved each month will go to Arizona’s Department of Child Safety, which helps to investigate abuse and neglect cases.

Previous cuts to the TANF program

This is not the first time that the state of Arizona has seen cuts to its Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program. While Federal law permits assistance for 60 months, Arizona has constantly dropped the number of months throughout the last five years. In 2010, the state limited benefits to three years throughout a lifetime. Then, in 2011, it dropped to two years. Now, benefits will drop to just one year. Families will see this change beginning in 2016. This poses the question of whether costs will be dropped all together, and if so, what will happen to the families who truly need help?

Budget cuts not surprising

It is not very surprising that the state of Arizona is cutting funding of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families benefits. The state is trying to save money in order to keep the debt low. Other states, such as Illinois, are having financial difficulties when it comes to TANF benefits. Many families in the state of Illinois are applying for benefits and not receiving them because the state is completely broke. They do not have enough money to pay State Lottery Winners who have won over $600 the money that is owed to them. What makes families think they have enough money for financial benefits? This is almost as bad as the one year lifetime assistance given to needy families in the state of Arizona.

It is really a sticky situation because many families are in need of assistance, in every state. The state of Arizona is doing what they think is best in saving the state budget. As we move into the New Year, it will be interesting to see changes to Arizona families. TANF benefits in Arizona do provide job training for those who need assistance, and a focus might be geared toward helping assist these individuals with finding a well-paying position, at 40 hours per week. This is something the state believes can be established in a year’s time. We will just have to wait and see how these resilient families will make the TANF cuts work to their benefit.


Arizona Shooter Could Face 100 Years in Prison

Between August 22 and September 10, there were 11 shootings on a busy Phoenix-area highway in Arizona. Police began an intense search for the criminal, with limited evidence to go on other than bullet fragments. No one was injured in the shootings with the exception of a 13-year-old girl. When a bullet hit the vehicle’s windshield, a piece of glass cut her ear. Other than that, vehicles simply featured bullet holes and damaged windshields – but no deaths to passengers.

After a lengthy, in-depth search, police believed they found their man. They arrested Leslie Allen Merritt Jr., a 21-year-old, outside of a Wal-mart store in Glendale, a suburb of Arizona,on September 18th. The police found evidence the bullets found at the scene could be traced to a gun he owned.

Merritt Cries Innocent

Merritt is a father of two children and maintains his innocence. He claims the gun they say he used was in the possession of a pawn shop during the time of the shootings – for the entire past two months in fact. In reality, police have only connected him to 4 of the 11 shootings – less than half. Eight of the 11 shootings involved bullets, while three cars were hit with BBs or projectiles. Police say the four shootings they have linked Merritt to coincide with a window of time where the gun was not in the pawn shop. The pawn shop owner claims the gun was picked up on August 22nd and returned on August 30th – the day of the fourth shooting Merritt is allegedly responsible for. With documentation to support their claims, the police doubt Merritt will be able to disprove the charges, with the Governor announcing the shooter’s arrest on Twitter before even an arraignment took place.

Is Merritt Responsible for All?

If the evidence points to Merritt in at least four of 11 shootings, can police find enough evidence to link him to the remaining attacks? Where did he get an additional gun? If convicted of the crimes, Merritt may be sentenced consecutively instead of based on one charge, since the incidents occurred on different days. For example, if convicted of all four shootings he is currently linked to, each one carries a sentence of 20 to 30 years. Back to back, this could equal 100 years in prison or more.

Merritt was charged with 15 felony counts, including aggravated assault and a drive-by shooting. Authorities continue to conduct tests and have warned that more charges may be imminent. One fact is for certain – since Merritt’s arrest, no other shootings have been reported. Commuters, families and students can rest easier when they merge onto the I-10 to go to work, school or the store knowing their vehicle and passengers will likely be safe from a stranger’s wish to inflict pain, suffering or death.

Merritt is currently being held on $1 million bail. His next court appearance is scheduled for November 18th. Police are open to the possibility that the remaining seven incidents to which they have not tied Merritt may be the result of copycat assailants. They have asked for the public’s help in locating any suspects, in case a dangerous threat to Arizona’s society is still at large.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio: What Should Arizonans Do With This Guy?

Arizona has received a lot of attention in recent years for some of its more controversial policies regarding finding and controlling illegal immigration. While some policies have been put in place, other policies have been discarded. Note how the word policy keeps coming up. State policy is a deliberate system of principles that represents everyone under employ of that state. Certainly, policy has to be given attention by people like law enforcement officials, whose job is predicated upon upholding such principles.

That’s clearly not how Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Phoenix views things. He’s on trial for his clear and acknowledged disobedience of court orders regarding racial profiling. He’s a testament to both what people with power are willing to do to force their own belief systems, and what could happen when such power is abused.

Contempt Of Court

There’s a lot in the background for this case, but it boils down to this. Arpaio, an 83 year-old man who takes pride in being abusive to his prisoners and corrupt in office, has a none-too-surprising track record of assuming that every presumed Latino he or his team encounters is in the US illegally. In 2013, US District Judge Murray Snow ruled that Arpaio systematically profiled Latinos during traffic stops, prioritizing the targeting of alleged illegal immigrants on civil violations over actually fighting crime in the area. They also denied them the opportunity to post bail.

Just because the court ruled didn’t mean that Arpaio has to fall in line, though. At least, that was his thinking when he continued the practice. The old bigot went so far as to state that he and his deputies arrested 500 Latinos just for spite after the Justice Department began looking into the matter. This led to the 2015 contempt of court trial Arpaio is currently facing, where it will ultimately be determined whether Arpaio knowingly violated Snow’s ruling.

Arpaio claims he was simply referencing and acting within the purview of laws and policies his office was allowed to enforce at the time. He also called for the removal of Snow and launched a subsequent investigation, stating that the judge was conspiring with the US Department of Justice to see him removed from office. The conspiracy is bogus, as is most of Arpaio’s defense.

The Immigration Issue

Here’s the issue with Arpaio’s actions, regardless of where you stand on boarder and immigration policies. The unauthorized immigrant population in Arizona is actually decreasing, falling by around 50,000 individuals between 2009 and 2012. While some 6% of the population is suspected to be in the nation illegally (note that this factors in all immigrants, not just Latinos), around 30.5% of the state’s population is Latino. That means that around 24% of Arizonans have the potential to be racially profiled and arrested vigilante-justice style for civil violations in order to detain them based on one man’s theory that they did something in which they never actually participated.

What a lot of people don’t realize, whether legal or not, immigrants utilize services, which is what fuels the economy. Plenty of illegal immigrants get title loans – which is a huge industry for the state of Arizona.

Let’s put that another way. Near 1,608,000 legal, law abiding Arizona citizens are subject to profiling and detainment based on unverified suspicions if actions like Arpaio’s constituted actual state policy. It’s one thing to talk policy, but when one man’s sense of self-satisfaction is putting over a million people’s safety and well-being on the line, it’s clearly time to put that old, useless horse to pasture.

Arizona Battling Super Lice Outbreak

We have all had to deal with the possibility of getting lice. It is very common in elementary schools because the bugs can spread so easily from person to person. Adults who have children or work with children are also likely to catch lice. For the most part, getting lice is simply an inconvenience because it takes time and treatment to get rid of the pest. Now several states are actually dealing with what is called Super lice, which is like a mutant lice. Arizona is one of the states battling this super bug outbreak, and health officials are trying to figure out a solution.

What exactly is super lice?

So what exactly is it that makes super lice different from regular lice? Well they both pretty much do the same thing. When they come into contact with the scalp, they attach themselves and begin to lay eggs. Once these eggs hatch, your head can become invaded with the nasty pest. Normally, an over the counter, safe insecticide can be used to help kill off the lice. However, super lice are almost immune to these insecticides, and will continue multiplying, without dying off. This makes them very hard to get rid of.

Arizona’s super lice

Arizona is one of the top states that is susceptible to the super lice. Lice samples taken throughout the state were observed. 100% of these lice samples were resistant to over the counter insecticides, making them Super lice. This can become a real problem in Arizona schools. Parents should be checking their children at least once a week. Since Super lice are harder to get rid of, the sooner they are located, the better.

What will kill super lice?

If over the counter insecticides are not working, how can we get rid of Super lice? The FDA has approved a new treatment, Air Alle. This treatment provides heated air to controlled areas of the scalp, where the Super lice live. The air from the dryer is supposed to actually dehydrate the Super lice, thus killing them off. The majority of Super lice should fall off onto a towel, and the remainder can be brushed out, or shampooed out of the scalp. This treatment can be completed once, and all Super lice should die off, but a follow up is recommended to be sure.

Pricey cost of treatment

With regular lice, you can go to the store and purchase a couple bottles of insecticide and continue treatment until all lice are killed off. Since these insecticides do not work for Super lice, it looks like your only option is to find a location that uses heat to kill them. This treatment is pricey, costing $175. This is the price for one treatment, meaning that if your family of four all come into contact with the Super lice, you are going to be paying over $500 for treatment.

Even though Arizona and dozens of other states are battling this Super lice outbreak, it is possible the entire United States will see instances of this Super lice. Be diligent in checking your children for lice because you never know if it might be Super lice.



Arizona Population

Arizona is the fourteenth most populated state and is steadily growing. In 2006 it was documented that Arizona was, in fact the fastest growing state in the entire United States and although that growth has slowed a little it is still in the top ten. The most recent census data indicates that the current population is 6,595,778 and that is a twenty percent increase from the 2000 census results. There are ninety-one incorporated towns and cities in the state of Arizona. The largest city in Arizona is Phoenix, which is currently the fifth most populous city in the country. Other densely populated cities include: Scottsdale, Tucson, Mesa, Glendale and Chandler. Some of the lesser populated cities include a few recognized ghost towns such as Jerome Arizona, with a population of around 350; many of the smaller cities and towns of Arizona are popular vacation destinations.

Ethnic makeup, Median Income and Educational Background of Arizonians

The state of Arizona has a very diverse ethnic makeup. In the city of Phoenix nearly 35 percent of the population is of Latino or Hispanic heritage, throughout the state of Arizona that figure sits at around thirty percent. Arizona is ranked fifth in total Hispanic/Latino population nationally. White/Non-Hispanic Arizonans make up slightly more that 57 percent of the populous of Arizona. Black/Non-Hispanic, American Indian and persons of Asian heritage make up the largest share of the remainder of the population. At latest count the median income for Arizonians was 51,000 dollars a year and 68 percent of residents own their own home. Eighty-one percent of Arizona residents over 25 have a High School education and twenty-five percent have a Bachelor’s Degree or greater. The male to female ratio is nearly even across the state.

Projected Growth

Arizona has seen a steady growth in population over the last ten years and is considered to be the one of the fastest growing states, and the town of Buckeye, Arizona was chosen by Bloomberg News as being one of the three fastest growing communities in the nation. Manufacturing of durable goods is a big part of the economy of Arizona but has seen a drop since the economic downturn in the last few years. Other segments of the employment sector that help make up the employment picture in Arizona include:

Healthcare Industry
Professional and Business Services
State and Local Government

Arizona Physicians Will Benefit From a Medical Answering Service

arizona-answering-service-230x300Independent medical practices are challenging businesses to own and operate. With the rise of managed health care over the last two decades, owning and operating a small private medical practice has become even more difficult. One of the best resources available to doctors and medical health care professionals is a medical answering service. The professionally trained and courteous call service agents employed by a reputable medical answering service provide major benefits to both the physicians and medical businesses they represent and the patients they serve and assist. < Physicians in the southwestern United States in face a difficult task with handling patient needs over the phone as many prospective patients may speak Spanish or another foreign language. Fortunately for medical practices in Arizona, there is a quality solution for bilingual medical answering services. The Phoenix-based medical answering service, Medical Communications USA, has been providing award-winning telephone answering and patient appointment management services since 1982.

Medical Communications USA provides friendly, reliable answering services to doctors, dentists, and dieticians, and hospitals across Arizona. All of their call service agents act as an extension of the doctor’s office, hospital, or medical practice they represent. They are professionally trained to provide patient appointment management, medical telemessaging, and voicemail services. If requested by the physician or medical practice, the call agents at Medical Communications USA can represent physician’s offices by acting as remote medical receptionists and providing complete virtual assistant services.

By eliminating a dedicated member of their staff or practice secretary, medical professionals can save costs and still feel confident that their patient appointment and messaging is being handled properly. The call center at Phoenix’s Medical Communications USA has a minimum of five calls monitored every week and call service agents must maintain average scores of 90% or better to guarantee that every patient phone call is answered effectively. Professional experienced medical answering service quality control managers train, coach, and monitor all service agent call activity to ensure that patients receive complete customer care and support.

If you own and operate a medical practice or facility in the Southwest or Arizona and need and efficient, affordable way to handle patient calls, schedule appointments, deliver messages, and manage customer care, contact Medical Communications today for a free medical answering service quote.

Arizona Famous People

The Southwest state of Arizona is home to several prominent individuals from many different disciplines. In the arts, politics, on the athletic field and beyond, there is no shortage of well-known individuals that have called Arizona home. Many native and adopted Arizonians’ have risen to prominence in their respective fields. There are many role models that represent the diversity and rich heritage of the state of Arizona.

Political Figures From Arizona

The first woman elected to the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O’Conner is a native of Arizona. Appointed to the court in 1981 by Ronald Reagan, she served until 2006 and was known for her centrist point of view.

Four Arizonians have made serious bids for the White House, although not an Arizona native, John McCain has made his home and career there. McCain, who has twice run for the presidency of the United States and was a decorated war hero before his political career, moved to Arizona in 1980 when he ended his military career and began to pursue his political aspirations.

Arizona Sports Stars

Many sports figures also call the state of Arizona home.

PGA champion Phil Mickleson is from Scottsdale Arizona and graduated from Arizona State University. Mickleson has won four major PGA championships throughout his career.

American hero and Football player Pat Tillman was not born in Arizona but went to college and made his home there when playing for the Arizona Cardinals. He posthumously received both the Purple Heart and the Silver Star and is remembered for his sacrifice and bravery when he voluntary left his career in the National Football League after 9/11, to serve his county in the war in Afghanistan.

Olympic gymnast Keri Strug, remembered for her one-footed landing to clinch a gold medal for team USA at the 1996 Olympics was born in Tucson Arizona and trained there for her Olympic performance as did Phoenix, Arizona native and gold, silver and bronze medalist Gary Hall Jr.


Many actors and musicians are also from Arizona.

Stevie Nicks from the group Fleetwood Mac was born in Phoenix Arizona, although she moved before high school and she was already performing in and around her hometown by the age of five, with her Grandfather.

Another great female singer, Linda Ronstadt was born in Tucson Arizona; She rose to prominence in the late 70’s and has recorded across several genres of music through the years and is a multi Grammy award winning performer.

Other famous musicians and actors from Arizona include Jazz great Charles Mingus, Actors Ted Danson and Lynda Carter best known for playing Wonderwoman and iconic television talk show host, composer and actor Steve Allen.

Arizona Marijuana