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House Votes To Refer IRS Official Lois Lerner To Justice Department

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-09 10:46

The House Ways and Means Committee voted to send the Justice Department a criminal referral over what they said was the former IRS official's "extreme bias."

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Big change in tribal leadership coming

Southeast Alaska News - Wed, 2014-04-09 10:36

Tlingit-Haida Central Council President Ed Thomas is stepping down. Delegates will elect a new president at this week’s tribal assembly in Juneau. (Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)

Four people are running for president of Southeast’s largest tribal organization.

Tlingit-Haida Central Council delegates will make the choice during this week’s tribal assembly in Juneau.

Current President Ed Thomas has been in office for most of the past 30 years. He says the leadership change is a major topic for the meeting.

“I’m no longer going to be president. I’m not running. I’m not a candidate. So getting the next person ready is going to be very important, as well as selecting his support team on the executive council,” Thomas says.

Two of the candidates live in Juneau: William “Ozzie” Sheakley and Harold Houston. Richard Peterson is from Kasaan and Jacob Cabuag is from Seattle.

Eleven people are also running for six vice-president seats. Three of the four presidential candidates also plan to run if they don’t win Thomas’ position.

The Tlingit-Haida Central Council provides education, housing, financial assistance, foster care and other programs to tribal members. It began in 1935.

Delegates from 18 communities are attending the tribal assembly, which runs from April 9th to 12th at Juneau’s Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. Sessions will be broadcast online via the council’s website.

Before he leaves office, Thomas wants to make a delegate-selection policy change.

He says more and more tribal members are moving to urban areas. The number of seats per community is based on population. And that’s upset the delegate balance.

“If the trends continue, whereby we’re having more urban (delegates), I think we’re going to lose voices from our villages. And they’re the ones that are probably more dependent of what we do than some of the people in the urban areas,” he says.

Thomas says only tribal members with confirmed addresses should be counted. More of those with bad addresses lived in urban areas at the last point of contact.

The assembly’s agenda includes former Southeast Sen. Albert Kookesh as keynote speaker. Delegates will also hear from central council agencies, as well as regional and statewide Native organizations.

More Force May Be Used To Move Pro-Russia Protesters, Ukraine Says

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-09 10:30

Demonstrators have taken over some government buildings in eastern Ukraine, saying they want a vote on whether to join Russia. Ukrainian officials vow to resolve the situation within 48 hours.

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Troopers Name 2 Men Killed In Alaska Plane Crash

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Wed, 2014-04-09 09:58

Alaska State Troopers say the remains of two pilots have been found in the wreckage of a small commercial plane that crashed near a Southwest Alaska town.

The pilots who died in the crash Tuesday evening near Bethel are identified as 42-year-old Derrick Cedars of Bethel and 46-year-old Greggory McGee of Anchorage.

The burned wreckage of the Cessna 208 operated by Hageland Aviation was found near Three Step Mountain.

Responders found the remains of the men in the wreckage.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash, which occurred during a training flight.

The NTSB also is investigating the crash of another Hageland Aviation Cessna 208 last November. Four people were killed and six injured in the crash of that commuter flight.

Hageland Aviation is part of Ravn Alaska.

In Turnaround, More Moms Are Staying Home, Study Says

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-09 09:41

The number of "stay at home" moms in the U.S. has been on the decline for decades. But a newly released Pew Research Center survey shows a 6 percent increase from 1999 to 2012.

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Detroit Reaches Bankruptcy Deal With Some Bondholders

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-09 09:40

The plan shifts $100 million to pension funds and resolves one of the record bankruptcy's most contentious issues.

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Debate: In An Online World, Are Brick And Mortar Colleges Obsolete?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-09 09:00

Proponents of online education say it's flexible and economical. But skeptics say "college by Internet" is a pale substitute for real-world exchanges with instructors and peers inside the classroom.

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The New Age: Leaving Behind Everything, Or Nothing At All

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-09 08:21

Older generations might have left behind physical letters, photographs and journals. But much of that is digital now. Saving and organizing it all is a new challenge for librarians and writers alike.

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9-Month-Old Boy Charged With Attempted Murder In Pakistan

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-09 08:17

Musa Khan was arrested along with his family at a violent protest in Lahore where police said the boy threw stones at them.

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Oil company seeks to export Yukon crude from Skagway

Southeast Alaska News - Wed, 2014-04-09 08:01

Alaskans know Valdez as the state’s oil port of choice, but an independent Yukon oil producer is planning to make Skagway No. 2 on the list of Alaska oil ports.

Last week, Skagway Mayor Mark Schaefer announced that officials from Northern Cross Yukon are interested in using the port of Skagway to export crude oil to a refinery in Washington state.

Northern Cross, an independent oil producer with backing from Chinese state oil company CNOOC, has been investigating the Eagle Plains area along the Dempster Highway north of Dawson City for almost a decade.

read more

Food Scraps To Fuel Vertical Farming's Rise In Chicago

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-09 07:14

As vertical farming takes root in cities around the world, critics fear it's leaving a big carbon footprint. An experiment in Chicago turning garbage into energy aims to prove them wrong.

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AK Beat: Alaska soldier charged with murdering his 3-year-old son

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Wed, 2014-04-09 07:12
AK Beat: Alaska soldier charged with murdering his 3-year-old son Nathaniel Ulroan was charged with the premeditated murder of his 3-year-old son earlier this month. According to a news release, Ulroan, 23, was also charged with one count of kidnapping, one count of assault consummated by a battery and one count of communicating a threat. ​April 9, 2014

On Heels Of GM, Toyota Recalls More Than 6 Million Vehicles

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-09 07:01

The recall involves some of the Japanese automaker's top-selling vehicles, including some model years for the RAV4 SUV, Corolla, Yaris and Matrix.

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Assembly passes anti-smoking law

Southeast Alaska News - Wed, 2014-04-09 06:30

The Sitka Assembly passed a controversial amendment Tuesday night, tightening the city’s anti-smoking laws. The question before the assembly was whether children should be prohibited from entering any business that allows smoking — even for a non-smoking event. In the end, the decision came down to different interpretations of what voters intended nearly a decade ago.

Listen to iFriendly audio.

It was the fourth time the Assembly had discussed the amendment, which pitted anti-smoking advocates against those who felt, in the words of one member of the public, “You’re going a little too far…You’re micromanaging things that a parent should do. So let’s do city things, and let parents do parent things.”

In 2005, Sitka voters passed a law that barred children from entering businesses that allow smoking. This past December, the American Legion, a private club that allows smoking, hosted a Christmas party for kids – but didn’t allow smoking at the event. The Legion asked the city attorney whether the party was legal. She said it was.

In response, Mayor Mim McConnell and Assembly Member Phyllis Hackett sponsored an amendment to clarify the intent of the 2005 law. The new language makes it clear that if a business allows smoking, then kids can’t enter, even for a smoke-free event.

That prompted protests from the Legion, and the Assembly sent the issue to the Health Needs and Human Services Commission. The commission voted unanimously in favor of the amendment. They cited, in particular, the possible health hazards of third-hand smoke, or the chemicals that can remain in walls and furniture after a room has been used for smoking.

But both McConnell and Hackett argued that all of these issues – third-hand smoke, public health, assembly overreach and even Christmas parties – were beside the point. Voters already settled these issues when they passed the law in 2005, Hackett said. The assembly’s job was simply to honor the voters’ original intent.

“The issue here, which I know some people are having a hard time understanding or choosing to believe, but the issue here is about intent, and it’s about the intent of the ordinance that was passed,” Hackett said. “And it was passed overwhelmingly by the voters.”

Assembly Members Mike Reif and Matt Hunter, however, insisted it wasn’t so easy to tell what voters intended nearly a decade ago. Reif pointed out that third-hand smoke, for instance, wasn’t even part of the debate in 2005.

“I personally really don’t know the intent of the voters in Sitka back in 2005,” Reif said. “It’s very cloudy trying to speculate what the intent was of all those voters.”

All the same, Reif said he felt he had a clearer sense of the voters’ will now.

“I do think that if we put this to the vote of Sitkan voters today, that they would pass this, they would want to see this banned,” Reif said. “I’ll support it because that’s what I think the majority of Sitkans want.”

Hunter, meanwhile, spoke at length about how his thinking on the issue had changed.

“I’ve publicly gone back and forth on this issue and I’m still conflicted on it,” Hunter said, adding that he had consulted the original 2005 ballot. “The language as it’s written, the whole reason for doing this amendment to change the language, is because the language is unclear. And to me it means that, what people voted on, it’s very easy for people to interpret it in many ways.”

He said he thought the issue should be put to a vote once again.

“I am going to not support this ordinance because I feel that this is an issue that really needs to go to the people to decide,” he said. “And while I have no intention of exposing myself or those I love to first-, second- or third-hand smoke, I also am very sensitive to the personal responsibility issue.”

In the end, Hunter was the only vote against the amendment. Assembly Member Pete Esquiro had agreed with Hunter during earlier meetings, but he voted yes, without offering any other comment.

Lost Malaysian Plane Could Land In Cultural Lore

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-09 06:17

The plane's vanishing is a tragedy and an unsolved mystery. The desire for answers means the event could retain attention for decades, as have the disappearances of Jimmy Hoffa and Amelia Earhart.

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Heat, hydration, and the ‘occupational athlete’

Southeast Alaska News - Wed, 2014-04-09 06:00

Brent Ruby, PhD, believes strategies developed in his lab for endurance athletes could benefit “occupational athletes” like commercial fishermen. (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)

While it’s not a major health concern for residents of Southeast Alaska, it can be something we complain about whenever we travel out of our temperate climate. Heat stress is a serious risk and — as it turns out — unrelated to how much or how little we drink.

A noted exercise physiologist from the lower 48 has been in Alaska this week updating health professionals on the latest research on the subject. He’s also been taking a look at what he calls “occupational athletes,” like commercial fishermen, and trying to find ways his research can apply to their work.


Listen to iFriendly audio.

Dr. Brent Ruby will give a presentation tonight (Tue 4-9-14) on some of his research on people — like ultra-distance athletes and wildland firefighters — whose daily calorie expenditures far exceed what used to be considered normal for those activities. He’ll speak at 6 PM in the downstairs classroom at Sitka Community Hospital. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Dr. Brent Ruby is the director of the Montana Center for Work Physiology and Exercise in Missoula. But that’s not his biggest claim to fame. The guy once actually passed Frank Shorter in a race.

“It was a 5K – 30K – 5K event, and I remember coming up on him in the second 5K and going by him and thinking, This is probably one of the coolest athletic moments I’ve had.”

Frank Shorter was the first American to win the Olympic marathon, in 1972. Ruby also stayed with Kenyan great Henry Rono in a 5K race, but was “left in the dust” during the last mile.

So Ruby knows athletes, and studies athletes, but his work is relevant for the rest of us.

His latest data suggest that we don’t really understand heat exhaustion.

“There’s a misconception for athletes and individuals that, As long as I drink enough, we’ll be safe. And that is the misconception that we want to try to topple over.”

Ruby has consulted for wildland firefighters, the military, and football programs running two-a-day practices in the late summer. His lab at the University of Montana has developed monitoring tools for heat stress, and has explored ways to train for — and overcome — the hazards of working and playing in the heat.

Understanding the nature of heat stress, and disassociating it from dehydration, has been a been breakthrough. He says almost no one ever dies from dehydration. The real risk is heat.

“There has to be a balance between heat production and the ability to lose that heat. And when that gets out of balance — no matter how vigorous our hydration choices — we can’t combat the heat all the time. There are numerous examples of death due to heat stress — exertional heat stress — where the individual is completely, normally hydrated.”

Ruby says humans have an extraordinary ability to adapt and shed excess heat. But, by living in Alaska, do we give up that ability?

“You can’t take the heat, or you just don’t want to. Those are two separate things.”

Ruby says that heat tolerance — in every human — operates on a known schedule. And it’s good or bad news, depending on how enthusiastic you are about visiting relatives in the lower 48 in the summertime.

“It’s a slow process that kind of builds exponentially. The first five days or so you really start to see some rapid changes. And then over the course of a week or two weeks, all sorts of things start to change: Your ability to sweat — your actual sweat rate — can double per hour. What’s also unique is that the composition of the sweat will change, as a function of that acclimatization to the heat. So you lose less of the precious electrolyte, the more accustomed you get to being in that heat.”

A related area of study for Ruby is exertion. He’s worked to quantify the metabolic activity of not only ultra-endurance athletes, but also people he calls “occupational athletes.” Firefighters are in that category. So are Alaska’s commercial fishermen who sometimes work hard 36 to 72 hours at a stretch with little rest.

“Normal, basic human physiology is sort of programmed to really go big. And it’s fun to see individual examples of that in people who don’t make the kind of money that the tour athletes make, the well-known endurance athletes.”

And when your doctor tells you that “research shows” that exercise is good for us? That information is coming out of Ruby’s lab. He says that society has conditioned us to believe that inactivity is a privilege. It’s also a prescription for disease.

“There’s no doubt that the medicinal benefit of physical activity are enormous. And undeniable. That physical inactivity is as significant — if not more significant — than the health impacts we’ve seen from smoking. So getting people to choose to be more active, in a variety of ways — most people think it has to be so structured! — and it doesn’t have to be structured, but it can be a part of your everyday lifestyle.”

And this landlocked Montanan doesn’t just talk the talk. He builds paddle boards at home, and travels with an inflatable. He left our studios with directions to the nearest sandy beach to incorporate a little bit of surf into his lifestyle.

WHO Calls For High-Priced Drugs For Millions With Hepatitis C

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-09 05:54

About 150 million people worldwide have hepatitis C, and all should be assessed and treated, the World Health Organization says. The cost of screening and drugs means that won't happen soon.

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Many Students Stabbed, Cut At Pennsylvania High School

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-09 05:19

One suspect — a 16-year-old sophomore boy — is in custody after Wednesday's incident at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, near Pittsburgh. At least 19 teenagers and one adult were hurt.

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Dose Of Caution Prescribed When Evaluating New Medicare Data

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-09 04:54

Fresh figures show that a relatively small number of doctors received a significant share of Medicare payments in 2012. But analysts warn against jumping to conclusions about what that means.

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What Does Sound Look Like?

NPR News - Wed, 2014-04-09 04:37

A clever photography trick allows you to see the invisible: the rising heat from a lighter, the turbulence around airplane wings, the plume of a sneeze ... and even sound waves.

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