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Ray Nata -- Wikimedia Commons

Rapidly rising prices for prescription drugs are being blamed for increased health care costs, as well as a growing number of people not being able to afford medicines they need. A bill pending in the Oregon legislature proposes to cap excessive drug prices. But the pharmaceutical industry is pushing back.

Walter Albertin/Library of Congress ID ds.01489e/Wikimedia

One by-product of the November election is fear... including fear of nuclear war increasing for the first time in years. 

Peace activists consider the current landscape and how best to address it. 

In Ashland, Peace House hosts a discussion of the current state of American society (March 16th and 17th), and whether we'll opt for war or to devote money to societal concerns. 

Kevin Martin of Peace Action and Reiner Braun of the International Peace Bureau are the featured speakers. 

High-Speed Rail In California Faces Funding Headwinds

Mar 15, 2017
California High-Speed Rail / Flickr

California's high-speed rail project has taken a couple of recent funding hits, but state officials say the program remains on track, for now.

Electronic Freedom Foundation

Let the sun shine!  Sunshine Week celebrates the public's right to know the business of government... and observes the uneven delivery of the goods by various governments. 

The messes and mistakes of government transparency are celebrated (tongue-in-cheek) by the Electronic Frontier Foundation's "Foilies."

Entities from the president to the sheriff of Milwaukee County ended up on the list this year. 

Southern Oregon University

Tight budgets are forcing state universities on both sides of the line to raise tuition. 

At this point, the only question for Oregon students is how MUCH tuition will rise. 

At Southern Oregon University, the president says the range is 8-12 percent. 

Humboldt State University students recently walked out of class to protest the planned tuition hike there. 

Sylvia Massy YouTube channel

Johnny Cash and Prince might not have had a great deal in common musically, but there is a link. 

Her name is Sylvia Massy, who worked in the production of songs for both artists.  She spent years working her craft in Los Angeles, before moving to first Weed and later Ashland. 

She still keeps a hand in the recording studio, guiding bands and helping train a new generation of engineers and producers. 

National Institutes of Health, ID 2534

Maybe your phone rings in the evening, and you don't recognize the number in caller ID. 

So you pick up, only to hear some robo-call voice warning you that there could be a problem with your health or your safety or your money. 

If you're over the age of 50, that could be why you get such calls. 

A profusion of scams targets seniors, and Indra Nicholas from Home Instead Senior Care in the Rogue Valley has heard of most of them. 

Christian LInder/Wikimedia

"Two heads are better than one" seems like a mismatched phrase with "fake news," but there's a common thread. 

And that is the working of the human brain.  We tend to think better in groups than as individuals. 

And that may explain why left to our own devices, we believe in conspiracy theories or lying reporters. 

Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach are the co-authors of The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone.

C Span via YouTube

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has released its analysis of the Republican plan to replace Obamacare. And Oregon’s Democratic senators say the impact will be as grim as they feared. 

Irangilaneh, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28439014

The battle over school standards and funding tends to skip over an important point: the schools are not solely responsible for student success or failure. 

Kids bring family and community "baggage" to school with them, and are often lacking some of the basic tools to just pay attention in class. 

The University of Oregon hosts a panel discussion on "What Kids Bring to School," tonight (March 14) at the Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics. 

ICE/Public Domain

Oregon and California already draw the ire of hardline anti-immigration groups. 

Oregon is a sanctuary state, and California is considering that status.  Within the states, local communities are also looking at sanctuary status, meaning local police would not enforce federal immigration laws. 

Ashland is already a sanctuary city; Arcata's city council will likely take a vote in April. 

Californians who have registered to vote since the November election are increasingly turning away from both the Democratic and Republican parties.

California Mosquito And Vector Control Agencies Off To An Early Start This Season

Mar 10, 2017

The heavy rains are producing another problem beyond flooding. All the standing water has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which are already starting to multiply.

Yves Picq, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28335609

About a third of American adults are considered obese, and the percentage among children is growing close to that rate. 

Science is looking at obesity from a number of angles, including at the University of Oregon. 

The Health Promotion and Obesity Prevention Initiative is one focus of the Prevention Science Institute at the U of O. 

Bureau of Land Management / Flickr

The use of the term "monument" in Southern Oregon seldom refers to a stone obelisk.

It often means the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, recently expanded by President Obama before his term ended. 

A month after the expansion, Western Oregon counties filed suit, and so did the timber industry. 

atheistsunited.org

You can get all kinds of college degrees studying religion. 

But until a few years ago, there was no secular studies program by that name anywhere in the United States. 

Pitzer College in Southern California started the first such program, with Phil Zuckerman as its head. 

The program "neither applauds nor condemns" secularism, but the program's presence cheers secular segments of society. 

Gun Bills Pile Up In Oregon Legislature

Mar 9, 2017
Public Domain/Wikimedia

Another year, another raft of gun bills. 

Congress may be slow and slower on firearms legislation, but the Oregon legislature has dozens of gun bills to consider in the current legislative session. 

Most are designed to toughen gun restrictions and close sale loopholes, and with Democrats in control in both houses, there could well be changes. 

Oregon Firearms Federation resists new controls on guns, while Ceasefire Oregon relishes the possibility of further restrictions. 

The Geology Of Terroir In Wine

Mar 8, 2017
Wikimedia

The explosion of the wine industry in our part of the world has introduced some new terms to everyday language.  "Terroir," for example. 

If you read it quickly, it conjures up images of horror films. 

But it's not "terror," just a term to indicate the way wines from different vineyards taste different, due to soil and other conditions.  Like rocks. 

Geologist Scott Burns, emeritus at Portland State University, is well-versed on what goes on below that affects the grapes above. 

Bidgee, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7437952

There's never a dull moment in media lately.  President Trump has gone from talking about "fake news" to declaring members of the news media "enemies of the people." 

And on the lighter side, who handed Warren Beatty that wrong envelope at the Oscars? 

We track the changes in the world of information in a segment called Signals & Noise.  Our partners: the Communications department at Southern Oregon University. 

envirobeat.com

The goal of 350.org was to convince people to stop the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, to stop it at 350 parts per million. 

That's now a past-tense goal, since the number consistently hangs above 400.  But 350.org and other larger organizations continue the fight for meaningful curbs on greenhouse gases. 

Board Chair KC Golden visits Ashland for a talk at Southern Oregon University this week. 

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