Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Court Sets Conference on Records Request Concerning Bustamante

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 4:51 PM

A Latah County District Court has set a scheduling conference for the University of Idaho's unprecedented request to release private records regarding Ernesto Bustamante, the former U of I professor found dead last week of a self-inflicted gunshot following the murder of 22-year-old grad student Katy Benoit. Bustamante killed himself as Moscow police were serving a warrant, naming the former professor as suspect in Benoit's murder.

The university is asking the court to rule on the Idaho Public Records law, which bars public agencies from releasing personnel records for current or former employees. The question to be resolved is whether the law applies after the death of the former employee.

The scheduling conference is set for Friday, Sept. 9, at 3 p.m.

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Idaho Woman Sues to Challenge Idaho Abortion Laws

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 3:04 PM

Reuters is reporting that a Pocatello woman, Jennie Linn McCormack, has filed suit against the State of Idaho to challenge both its long-standing anti-abortion law and a new law that makes abortion after 20 weeks a felony. McCormack is taking this step after being charged with violating Idaho's new ban on late-term abortions for using pregnancy termination pills she ordered online.

McCormack's lawyer, Richard Hearn, told Reuters that the law was not yet in effect when McCormack terminated her pregnancy in December of 2010. But more than that, he says the law is discriminatory.

From the article:

The 1972 Idaho law discriminates against McCormack and other women of limited means in southeastern Idaho, which lacks any abortion providers, by forcing them to seek more costly surgical abortions far from home, the lawsuit says.

But Hearn, also a physician, argues that both the 1972 law and the newly enacted Idaho statute pose other unconstitutional barriers to abortion. He cited, for example, the failure to exempt third-trimester pregnancies (25 weeks or more) in cases where a woman's health, not just her life, is at risk.

For McCormack, a mother of three who gets by on an income of $200-$250 a month, the trip to Utah for a surgical abortion would have been difficult.

The lawsuit is seeking to bar prosecution of women under the state abortion laws until courts determine their constitutionality. Reuters is also reporting that this may be the first federal court case against any of the wave of late-term abortion laws recently passed in five states.

A hearing has been scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 8.

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Newspapers Begin Move to Eliminate Anonymous Comments

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 3:02 PM

The Montreal Gazette is reporting that after the attack by right-wing extremist Anders Behring Brevik that killed 77 people in Norway, several Swedish newspapers have announced that they will no longer allow anonymous online commenting because they feel that their comment sections are being exploited as forums for hate speech.

The need to moderate comments by anonymous Internet users became apparent after the twin attacks by Anders Behring Breivik that killed 77 people in Norway in July, said the editor of the Aftonbladet daily, Jan Helin.

Continue reading »

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Study: Foreclosure Crisis Affecting Americans' Health

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 2:55 PM

While it's long been folk wisdom that the stress of the housing market isn't good for people's health, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that a new study shows that foreclosures may be responsible for a nearly 10 percent increase in hypertension and diabetes in normally healthy age groups.

From the article:

New research by Janet Currie of Princeton University and Erdal Tekin of Georgia State University shows a direct correlation between foreclosure rates and the health of residents in Arizona, California, Florida and New Jersey. The economists concluded in a paper published this month by the National Bureau of Economic Research that an increase of 100 foreclosures corresponded to a 7.2% rise in emergency room visits and hospitalizations for hypertension, and an 8.1% increase for diabetes, among people aged 20 to 49.

The study also reported a whopping 39 percent increase in suicide attempts among the same group, though the authors acknowledge it is a small sample size.

What the study found most alarming was that similar patterns were not found in non-stress-related ailments such as cancer, indicating a strong likelihood that foreclosure is a contributing causative factor.

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HP Resurrects TouchPad, For Now

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 10:28 AM

Hewlett Packard, which earlier this month announced it was exiting the consumer hardware business, has pulled a reverse run. The reason is simple: Sales of the HP TouchPad are way up.

"Despite announcing an end to manufacturing webOS hardware, we have decided to produce one last run of TouchPads to meet unfulfilled demand," said HP spokesman Mark Budgell.

Two weeks ago HP shocked its industry when it said it was pulling the plug on all of its mobile hardware. The decision also rang the death knell for the TouchPad, a mere 49 days after its debut in July. HP held the equivalent of a fire sale by slashing prices on its remaining TouchPad inventory. But then sales went through the roof and the company hasn't been able to meet consumer demand. Now, HP has decided to make more, at least for now.

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Fish and Wildlife: Wolves Killing More Idaho Cattle and Sheep

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 10:16 AM

The Times News reports this morning that wolves are killing more livestock in Idaho. As the Gem State launched another wolf hunting season Tuesday, officials with Idaho Fish and Game said depredation cases by wolves were up by more than 17 percent compared to last year. And according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wolves have attacked and killed 50 cattle, 34 sheep and three dogs in the past year.

"We're hoping that this hunt deters future livestock kills," Mike Keckler of Fish and Game told the Times News.

Keckler said Idaho experienced a notable drop in depredations during the last wolf hunt in 2009.

""It dropped by 50 percent during the beginning of the [2009] hunting season," he said. "We believe the wolves got wise. They were being hunted and knew it was best to stay clear of humans and livestock."

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New Restrictions on Health Insurance Rates in Idaho

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 9:44 AM

Beginning tomorrow, Idaho and eight other states will face tighter scrutiny on insurance rates.

As part of the Affordable Care Act, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will take a closer look at health insurance rates for individuals and small groups. Starting Thursday, Sept. 1, rate increases higher than 10 percent will be reviewed by most states. But Idaho and eight other states don't have set standards for such a review. As a result, CMS will be doing the oversight.

As part of the new restrictions, insurers will have to submit a justification for any increase of 10 percent or more to CMS prior to implement the rate hike. CMS and the insurers will both post the justifications on their respective websites.

Consumers Union has developed a state model rate review for individual market plans and is working to encourage states to adopt reforms that ensure greater oversight, transparency and insurance company accountability.

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Idaho Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 8:25 AM

The small Adams County community of Council is mourning the death of Army Sgt. Devin Daniels, killed last week by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. Daniels, who still had family in Council was a graduate of Eagle High School when his parents lived in the Treasure Valley. He leaves behind a wife and a 7-month-old daughter.

Daniels was killed while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. He was stationed at marine base Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan. Daniels' death was part of the deadliest month for U.S. troops in the nearly 10-year war in Afghanistan. A record 66 Americans died in Afghanistan in August.

Daniels will have a military funeral service at Fort Bragg, N.C., where he was stationed. A local service in Council will be scheduled for a later date.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Candidates Begin Filing for City Elections

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 3:09 PM

Some familiar faces and some new are emerging in the race for Boise city offices. Earlier today, we reported that Ben Quintana had officially launched a campaign for Boise City Council. He'll be running for Seat 2 (currently held by Lauren McLean). The seat has two years left for whoever fills it. McLean formally filed yesterday to run for four-year Seat 1 (being vacated by Council Member Alan Shealy. Council Member Elaine Clegg is also up for re-election, though she has yet to file. Also up for re-election is Council Member David Eberle (who hasn't filed yet). Eberle already has an opponent for the council's third seat: David "Pappy" Honey. No stranger to campaigns, Honey ran for council in 2009. Council Member T J Thomson won't have to run for re-election until 2013. Council President Maryanne Jordan (Seat 6) is also up for re-election in 2013.

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter is also up for re-election in November (though he hasn't yet filed his candidacy with the City Clerk's Office). Bieter already has an opponent, Tom Ketwig, who is running on a platform including no taxes until the economy improves, using the old Macy's building as a library or indoor market, and a 24/7 transit system.

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Boise Co-op Board Seeking Applications

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 2:48 PM

Now that Boise Co-op is making strides to become an actual, member-run co-op, it's also steering co-op leadership in a more democratic direction.

Three seats on the nine-member Boise Co-op board of directors are up for reelection this fall and the co-op is currently seeking members who would like to be considered for nomination to the board. Those elected at the co-op’s annual member meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 1, will serve through 2014.

According to the recently updated co-op bylaws, a board member "shall have been a member for at least six months prior to the election of directors, shall not be an employee of the co-op and shall not have any overriding conflict of interest with the co-op."

Applicants are asked to provide a recent resume, a written statement of interest, a description of relevant skills and talents and their Boise Co-op member number.

Applications are due by Friday, Sept. 9, and can be emailed to boardofdirectors@boisecoop.com or dropped off at the co-op’s customer service counter in an envelope labeled “Boise Co-op Board of Directors Nominating Committee.”

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