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Born and raised in Sandpoint Idaho, Shook Twins are an Indie folk-pop band hailing from Portland, Oregon. Identical twins, Katelyn and Laurie are the main songwriters, but they also back up their band member Niko Slice (electric guitar, mandolin and vocals) adding his uniquely compelling songs to the mix. Barra Brown is on Drums, vocals and Drum Pad, and Josh Simon is on Bass, vocals, Electric guitar, and synth.

Public Domain

Congress is moving quickly toward votes on changing the country's tax system... some reorganizing and some cutting of rates, especially corporate taxes. 

There are goals in this and any tax plan that go beyond just money... like stimulating certain KINDS of economic activity. 

One kind of activity that could help many communities would be more building of housing for people who don't make much money; the lack of such housing is a factor in homelessness. 

The National Low-Income Housing Coalition has a few ideas on what might help, and the Coos Bay-North Bend Housing Authority is one of many agencies working to get people into cheaper housing. 

darex.com

Every place where people work started with an idea.  And the people who come up with ideas about businesses are studied and lauded in our society. 

We begin a new regular feature on The Exchange, "The Ground Floor," visiting with entrepreneurs in our region about how they got started and how they overcame obstacles. 

Up first: Matthew Bernard, the current CEO of Darex, the Ashland-based maker of sharpening equipment.  He is the fourth generation involved in the running of the company. 

Investigation Finds Nepotism At California Tax Board

Nov 17, 2017
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio News

State workers are supposed to be hired on merit, keeping the public sector free of political patronage jobs, but an investigation by the State Personnel Board found evidence of widespread nepotism at the Board of Equalization.

"It was clear during the investigation that BOE was permeated with a culture that viewed the civil service rules as bureaucratic technicalities that are open to manipulation and circumvention," the report reads.

freethesun / Flickr

Placing a bunch of solar panels in a rural area is often referred to as a "solar farm."  But it's not like actual farming can go on around the solar arrays, and that's what troubles 1000 Friends of Oregon

The land-use group works to make sure property owners and planners comply with Oregon land-use law. 

And the group took exception to a solar farm approved for use on farmland near Medford, appealing the approval and getting it overturned. 

Wikimedia

Plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions often focus directly on the emission sites themselves.  But there's a whole world full of places that can potentially serve as carbon "sinks," absorbing CO2 to keep it out of the atmosphere. 

So land conservation and ecosystem management can also be strategies to curb climate change. 

A recent study lays out the effects; two of the authors are from the Nature Conservancy in California. 

Beth Nakamura/Oregonian/AP Pool

Defense attorneys on Wednesday provided new details about Jeremy Christian, the man accused of murdering two people in May while riding a light rail train in Portland.

Christian’s defense attorney, Gregory Scholl, acknowledged there was graphic violence on board the MAX train the afternoon of May 26 and that the situation was "tragic."

But Scholl argued before Multnomah County Judge Cheryl Albrecht that prosecutors were only focusing on statements that supported their case, rather than a wider perspective about what happened on board the train.

OPB News

In her first detailed account of alleged harassment at the Oregon Capitol, state Sen. Sara Gelser says a fellow legislator touched her breasts and placed his hand on her thigh under a dais. And she says as many as 15 other women have also accused Sen. Jeff Kruse of unwanted touching. 

Rickard Ignell, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences/Wikimedia

Urban dwellers get understandably upset when their homes are invaded by rats or bedbugs or other unwelcome creatures. 

But hardly anybody stops to think that the animals are there BECAUSE the city is there.  And that is very likely the case... many creatures evolved differently because of urban environments. 

Marc Johnson at the University of Toronto just published a paper in Science detailing some of the evolutionary changes apparently forced by urban environments. 

Adi, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60335366

Suicide is on the rise in the United States, up in a steady trend since the beginning of the century. 

Rogue Valley resident Shoshana Alexander experienced it in her own life; her sister committed suicide.  Alexander put that experience and others into an original play, "Taking Our Life: Suicide, Ecocide and Daring to Live."

Alexander and other actors will perform the play this weekend (Nov. 17-19) in Ashland. 

Oregon Cultural Trust

Maybe you've seen the "Cultural Trust" Oregon license plates and never quite knew what they were about.  They're about a program around for 15 years now, helping boost cultural organizations and activities around the state. 

The Oregon Cultural Trust has handed out more than $18 Million grants over the years, supporting a wide variety of programs. 

Calif. Senate Says Sexual Harassment Complaints Will Be Investigated By Outside Group

Nov 14, 2017
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Leaders in the California State Senate say an outside firm will investigate all future sexual harassment complaints.

Liam Moriarty/ JPR News

Restoration efforts in the Chetco Bar fire in southwest Oregon are getting underway.  While most of the area was lightly burned or even unburned, more than a third of the acreage suffered severe or moderate tree damage.

Federal forest managers are gearing up to authorize salvage logging in some of the more badly-burned areas. Local elected officials are pushing hard for cutting those trees. But others question whether the long-term costs outweigh the short term benefits.

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Updated at 10:20 p.m. ET

A shooter in Northern California has killed at least four people in a violent rampage that began at a home and ultimately included seven locations, including an elementary school, officials say.

The shooter was killed by police, bringing the total death toll to five. Ten people have been hospitalized, authorities say.

Wikimedia

The story of "exclusion laws" is well-known in Oregon.  The state skirted the slave-vs-free question at its birth by just banning all black people from living within its borders. 

But what about people who lived here BEFORE it was a state?  There are examples, including the shipwrecked black sailor James D. Saules, who arrived before many white settlers. 

His story is told in the book Dangerous Subjects: James D. Saules and the Rise of Black Exclusion in Oregon

US Forest Service

The Chetco Bar fire in southwestern Oregon was the state’s biggest wildfire of 2017, burning just over 191,000 acres, mostly in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. Seven homes were lost and hundreds of people had to evacuate from Brookings and nearby communities.

Now, specialists have assessed the damage to the landscape and repair work is getting underway. But the full impact will largely depend on this winter’s weather, and on management decisions that have yet to be made.

Wikimedia

Communities all over the country look for ways to get people off the streets. 

Homelessness persists, despite--or perhaps because of--an improving economy. 

One answer that works on a local level is to get homeless people out of town, literally. 

Good News Rescue Mission in Redding is one of several agencies that provide transportation to send homeless people from Redding back to places where they have a support network. 

More than 100 people have used the program since the mission began offering it three years ago. 

Trent Spurlock/Oregon Digital

Inspectors from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs are expected in Oregon again this week to pay visits to the VA facilities in Roseburg and Eugene. 

U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield) asked for inspectors to follow up on complaints about the VA from current and former employees. 

Those complaints focus on what they see as poor-quality care, and retaliation on the people who speak up about it. 

Dr. Scott Russi was a surgeon at the Roseburg VA (Eugene clinic) who says he's been fired (VA will not confirm). 

Dr. Russi visits with an explanation of what he saw and responded to. 

SSgt Alesia Goosic/U.S. Navy/Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22686562

You may wait a while to get an appointment with doctor, and may wait a while to SEE the doctor, but how long in the room WITH the doctor? 

In most people's experience, it's not a very long visit. 

And that is precisely the issue Victoria Sweet, herself a physician, has with modern medicine: the speed. 

She says good medical care takes time, and she advocates for it in her book Slow Medicine: The Way to Healing.  How slow? 

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