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Syria in the past few years has generated enough stories for several lifetimes. 

Emily Robbins knows the country and wanted to tell a story of her own, one that got beyond the daily recitations of bombings and casualties in the civil war there.  So she wrote a novel, A Word for Love

It is set in Syria as the body politic begins to come unglued, and concerns an American woman studying Arabic.  So yes, there are some autobiographical details from Robbins' own life. 

Don Ryan/AP

We speak of a "wall of separation of church and state" a lot in our country. 

But that actual phrase does not appear in our founding documents.  So there's a constant tug-of-war over just how much faith should be represented in the process of governing the country. 

The Reverend Tony Hutchinson of Trinity Episcopal Church in Ashland is both man of faith AND former man of government, as a diplomat.  He gives an OLLI lecture on faith in the public forum--for good and for ill--Wednesday January 18th in Talent. 

Wikimedia Commons

Compass Radio is about listening to people in our region as they navigate mental illness, and the mental health system.

This month we asked about education, and got some challenging answers. 

ODF

Ideally, an area burned in a forest fire can be left alone, and the forest will regenerate naturally. 

But not all fires create ideal situations.  In fact, the large, hot fires of California appear to stall the regeneration of conifer forests. 

That's the finding of a joint study of the US Forest Service and the plant sciences department at the University of California-Davis. 

If conifers do not grow back naturally, how should humans help? 

See Source - A Surprising New Path to Tumor Development. PLoS Biol 3/12/2005: e433 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0030433, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1431947

The terms "cure" and "cancer" generally do not appear in the same sentence, except to describe what we all hope for the future. 

Yet Glenn Sabin swears his health regimen allowed him to recover from leukemia.  And he's gotten the attention and support of medical professionals, including Rogue Valley oncologist Dawn Lemanne

She helped Sabin write a book describing his medical odyssey, "n of 1".  The name refers to the number of patients in a medical study... and in Sabin's case, he's the ONE who took part in his therapies. 

Mambazo.com

Much of the world first learned of the South African a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo when they performed with Paul Simon in the 1980s. 

But Mambazo had already been around for a couple of decades by then, and the group continues to sing and tour and impress. 

It's been more than five decades now, and two of the members from the 1960s are still in the group.  Albert Mazibuko joined in 1969, and he'll be with Mambazo for a stop in Eugene at the end of January (WOW Hall, January 27th). 

Complete Coach Works

Public transportation already gets credit for reducing emissions by getting people out of their cars. 

Just imagine how much more emissions are reduced by an electric bus. 

Eugene's Lane Transit already committed to buying electric busses; now Rogue Valley agencies are getting to kick the tires, with endorsement from groups like Southern Oregon Climate Action Now and the Southern Oregon Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Association (SOHEVA)

An electric bus from Complete Coach Works spent the week working in Ashland, Medford, and Grants Pass. 

Library of Congress/Wikimedia

The third week of January will be a very big week. 

It begins with the Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday observance and ends with the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as U.S. President. 

We'll focus on MLK first, as several cities plan ceremonies.  One of the biggest every year is in Ashland, produced by Claudia Alick at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. 

H. Andrew Schwartz, Johannes C. Eichstaedt, Margaret L. Kern, Lukasz Dziurzynski, Stephanie M. Ramones, Megha Agrawal, Achal Shah, Michal Kosinski, David Stillwell, Martin E. P. Seligman, Lyle H. Ungar - http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1

Any relationship with another human being is bound to have a few sensitive areas, subject matters that are trod upon lightly.

And the choices we make in HOW to talk about them can make all the difference. 

Relationship expert and therapist Carl Alasko points out just how critical word choices are in his book Say This, Not That

That title should tell you plenty. 

John R. McMillan/NOAA Fisheries

It's a good time to be a fish on the North Coast.  Or at least a good time to be a person who wants fish to thrive on the North Coast. 

The Martin Slough project is on the verge of receiving funding to reduce flooding and enhance fish habitat along the slough that winds through the south end of Eureka. 

The project involves the Redwood Community Action Agency, NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency, and the state Coastal Conservancy

Wikimedia

Addictions to opioid prescription drugs are all too common in America.  But facilities to treat people who've become addicted can be harder to find. 

Grants Pass is an example: until this week, Josephine County residents seeking treatment had to seek it in Jackson County, a half-hour drive or more. 

Grace Roots, an organization dedicated to confronting the addiction problem, opened the doors to a Grants Pass treatment center this week, and patients streamed in. 

And the official opening is not until today (Jan. 12). 

Dorothea Lange/National Archives

The shipping of Japanese-Americans to prison camps during World War II is not one of the prouder episodes in American history.  But it is a well-documented episode.

Some of the best-known American photographers of the time, including Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams, captured images of American citizens held captive in the name of security. 

A new collection of the photographs is offered in the book Un-American.  Photo historians Richard Cahan and Michael Williams assembled the collection. 

Amelia Templeton/EarthFix

Nobody figured that removing dams from the Klamath River would be easy. 

But the original plan to remove the J.C. Boyle Dam in Oregon and the Copco 1, Copco 2, and Irongate Dams in California was to have them out by 2020.  Which is getting close. 

Dam removal might start by that year; Pacific Power has already transferred its ownership to another entity, the Klamath River Renewal Corporation.

The California State Water Board begins environmental impact report meetings later this week in Arcata (Thursday, Jan. 12).  A meeting scheduled for Yreka on Tuesday was postponed by weather.

Where do things stand?  That's a question asked by the Yurok Tribe, one of the supporters of dam removal. 

Public Domain

The soil in the old Ashland railroad yard has been contaminated for so long, some of it came from steam locomotives. 

The site of the old roundhouse is where oil and other contaminants spilled and leaked on the ground. 

Now the property owner, Union Pacific, is about to clean it up.  But not before a few tweaks to the cleanup plan... for one thing, the bad soil will be taken out by rail, not by trucks on local streets. 

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is overseeing the cleanup plan. 

Public Domain/Google Art

It's a simple thing, really, saying "I'm sorry, I messed up."  Well maybe the words are simple, but the process stumps a lot of us. 

In fact, it's not uncommon for people to botch an apology so badly that the hurt feelings are deepened. 

Therapist and relationship expert Harriet Lerner explores the difficulty inherent in apologizing in her book  Why Won't You Apologize? Healing Big Betrayals and Everyday Hurts

Oregon has been a hotbed of activity in the marijuana business since voters legalized pot in the November 2014 election. 

Which is why the Oregonian assigned reporters to cover the marijuana beat.  Noelle Crombie continues to break ground and break stories in her reporting for the paper and its web entity, Oregon Live. 

With retail sales now up and running and local taxes on sales, there's plenty to talk about. 

Wikimedia

Marijuana on the market means opportunities for users and sellers, and some for growers as well. 

And challenges for them, too... to grow a decent crop without spending too much money.  Some growers choose to grow marijuana indoors, and there are studies underway to make indoor grows of any crops more efficient. 

The University of California-Davis is home to the Western Cooling Efficiency Center (WCEC), studying how best to balance environmental controls. 

Wikimedia

California had to learn and re-learn lessons about water conservation as drought deepened in recent years.  And the lessons will be needed again, because rain now does not mean the end of drought. 

Then there's the backdrop... a state that does not get much rain holds more people than any other state.  How can water use be curtailed, yet allow people and fish to thrive at the same time? 

That will be the central question when the Salmonid Restoration Federation convenes a workshop later this week in Fortuna (Jan. 13th).  We get a preview. 

NASA

Even if we all agree on environmental issues to address, how do we move forward? 

It helps to ask a few people, and that's exactly what Mark Lubell and his team at UC-Davis do. 

The Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior is big on surveys, figuring out why people take actions (or inactions) on environmental matters. 

Francis Sinclair/Public Domain

You have to admit, it took courage for our ancestors to get in rickety boats and travel across vast expanses of ocean to find lands new to them. 

It took luck, too... and ocean currents and a number of other factors. 

Archaeologist Scott Fitzpatrick at the University of Oregon studies the history of colonization in the Pacific and in the Caribbean.  And his studies take in weather patterns and other forces that may have forced choices on ancient explorers. 

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