News

Comedy fans may have known who Michelle Wolf is, but the rest of the country learned her name after the recent White House Correspondents Dinner. 

Wolf's razzing of reporters and administration mouthpieces is just one of many developments in the media in the last month. 

And it will come up for discussion when we reconvene with Precious Yamaguchi and Andrew Gay of the Southern Oregon University Communication faculty.  They visit once a month for an omnivorous media segment we call Signals & Noise. 

carolynabooth/Pixabay

We invited the Grim Reaper as a guest, but she's booked pretty solid, so we welcome The Green Reaper (yes, that's her nickname).

Funeral customs in the U.S. are generally not very kind to the planet. Conventional funerals use tons of wood, concrete, and metals for caskets and tombs, as well as millions of gallons of embalming fluid, which can be carcinogenic.

Elizabeth Fournier, the owner of Cornerstone Funeral Services in Boring, Oregon, thinks there's a better way. In her new book The Green Burial Guidebook, she gives a comprehensive look at alternatives.

Brian Turner via Flickr

Charles Longjaw had already admitted to a killing in Oregon and a rape in Washington.  Yet he was released from custody in 2015, and charged with committing another murder the next year. 

The situation comes back to the law under which he was found "guilty except for insanity."  GEI verdicts, as they are known, can lead to offenders being released despite predictions of danger. 

The non-profit news organization ProPublica uncovered issues with the law in a joint project with the Malheur Enterprise. 

Robert Lawton, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1243835

Drought and wet years tend to alternate in our part of the world.  We get used to a winter with little snow followed by one with above-average snowpack. 

But computer climate models show the situation getting worse as the planet warms, with something like a "precipitation whiplash" effect: deep and prolonged droughts followed by deluges. 

Ben Adler/Capital Public Radio

California Republicans gathered in San Diego this weekend for their state convention, as the party prepares to defend at least seven congressional seats in the November midterm elections.

Congressional incumbents and candidates walked a fine line between voicing support for President Donald Trump, who is deeply unpopular in California, and trying to keep the focus of their campaigns on other issues.

Google Street View via ashlandfood.coop

There is a pressing need for affordable housing all around the region, especially in pricey Ashland.  And now there's a possibility that a grocery store could provide some help. 

The Ashland Food Co-op recently announced a deal to buy a parcel of land across the railroad tracks from its current location. 

The parcel is big enough for a bigger store and more parking, but could also have space left over for "workforce housing." 

Tales of people fighting fires go way back in the region.  And there's a special aura of mystery and romance around smokejumpers, people who actually jump out of planes (yes, with parachutes) to fight wildfires. 

Mystery and romance?  More like grunts and groans, from the tales of the smokejumpers themselves. 

The physical conditioning they undergo to be ready for action is challenging, to say the least. 

This month's Stories of Southern Oregon features a return visit from Gary Buck of the Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum near Cave Junction. 

Jes Burns / EarthFix

There’s broad agreement that fire plays a vital role in forest ecology in the West. Many of our problems with severe wildfires can be traced, at least in part, to a century of putting fires out, rather than letting them clean up excess forest fuels.

Now, there’s a need to deliberately set controlled fires to help re-establish a more natural fire pattern.

Pixabay

Paint your skin green, stagger around like your joints hurt, and make sounds like "arrrrr!" and people will generally get it: you're Frankenstein's monster.  Dr. Frankenstein's creation is actually 200 years old this year; Mary Shelley's little book came out in early 1818. 

And yet we still make new movies and plays and even musicals about the mad scientist and his creation of life from death. 

Ashland author Tod Davies has some ideas about the durability of the characters and story.  She talks about the "Monster Hit" in a lecture coming up at Southern Oregon University's library (May 10). 

Irvin calicut, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16024219

It's one of the worst sounds you can hear coming from under your vehicle... that grinding sound when you step on the brakes, indicating something has worn out and needs to be replaced.  But which something? 

That's among the questions we have for Zach Edwards, the owner of Ashland Automotive, as he returns for another edition of The Squeaky Wheel, our monthly visit on car care and feeding. 

But we won't limit the discussion to how the car stops. 

For four straight elections, Oregon U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield) has faced Republican Art Robinson in the general election for the 4th Congressional District. 

That could change this November, because Robinson faces several opponents in the primary election next week (May 15th; ballots went out in late April). 

Curry County Commissioner Court Boice also is making a bid for a move to Washington, along with Jo Rae Perkins of Albany, Michael Polen of Grants Pass, and Stefan Strek of Pleasant Hill. 

The fourth district is big, running from the California state line up to the Mid-Willamette Valley, and including the whole South Coast. 

The Ballroom Thieves fought through a year of tribulations with their sophomore album, 2016's Deadeye, as their shield and sword. Only through continuing to write and perform together were guitarist Martin Earley, cellist Calin Peters, and drummer Devin Mauch able to fend off their darker days.

oliviamillerschin.com

The days are longer, the weather is (mostly) warmer, and the outdoor concert season is not far away.  About a month away, it seems. 

But there are plenty of arts events to see, hear, and celebrate in May.  And we provide airtime to talk about them in our First Friday Arts segment. 

It's what the Web calls "user-generated content"... we open the phone lines at 800-838-3760 and invite people to call with details on events large and small, on stage or in galleries, in the month of May. 

Maybe you're not quite ready to duplicate the trip Cheryl Strayed took in "Wild": hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to Washington. 

So you could be a "section hiker," taking trips on shorter sections of the PCT.  Philip Kramer has a book for you, his newly-released Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Northern California
Section Hiking from Tuolumne Meadows to Donomore Pass

It's part of a series that lays out the whole PCT in sections. 

Audit: Oregon Makes Progress On Reducing Rape Kit Backlog

May 2, 2018
Molly J. Smith/Statesman Journal

Two years after passing a law requiring Oregon crime labs to process the state’s growing rape-kit backlog, a Secretary of State audit found Oregon State Police’s crime lab is making a significant dent — with 1,100 kits in the backlog compared to 4,900 kits in 2015.

OPB

Oregon state Rep. Knute Buehler is taking a tough new stand against one of his rivals in the Republican primary race for governor.

Buehler has launched a radio advertisement criticizing Bend businessman Sam Carpenter for frequently failing to pay his state, federal and local taxes on time. Records show Carpenter was hit with six federal and state tax liens in the 1990s and his business had 15 tax liens.

“If Sam Carpenter can’t pay his own taxes,” says the radio ad, “why should we trust him with our tax dollars?”

Jacoplane, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1276885

It is possible that additional doses of vitamin D could reduce the risk of babies being born prematurely. 

But nobody who makes or sells vitamin D can make that claim; the federal government has not approved it. 

With mounting evidence, the Organic & Natural Health Association recently petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to allow vitamin D products to claim reduced risk for pre-term birth. 

Public Domain/Wikimedia

The "silver tsunami" is well underway.  Children born during the American baby boom are all in their mid-50s and older now, many looking for places to spend their time after retirement. 

Does a "senior center" even appeal to them?  The country has plenty of them, and they provide a variety of services. 

Oregon's State Unit on Aging keeps tabs on many programs available to seniors. 

boblog111.com

Josh Gross is a musician, but we dare not ask who his influences are.  We might be listening all day. 

Safe to say that Josh loves music in many forms, and he gets to demonstrate it by making his own AND by covering the music of others in his work for the Rogue Valley Messenger

We plug Josh into the Exchange once a month in a segment we call Rogue Sounds. 

PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS

Oregon, California and Washington are joining a coalition of 17 states and the District of Columbia in suing the Environmental Protection Agency and its administrator Scott Pruitt over the decision to roll back greenhouse gas emissions standards for vehicles built between 2022 and 2025.

The states argue those emissions standards for cars and light-duty truck models were put in place to help reduce carbon pollution and oil consumption.

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