Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Extended Unemployment Benefits to End Sooner

Posted By on Tue, May 29, 2012 at 11:49 AM

Extended benefits for the long-term unemployed are set to be phased out sooner than the end of the year.

Today's New York Times reports that even though Congress renewed the program of extended benefits that was supposed to expire in February, it also reduced the number of weeks of extended aid and made it more difficult for states to qualify.

More than 100,000 of the nation's unemployed are expected to lose their jobless benefits sometime this summer.

The number of people out of work more than six months has declined a little, but it remains far higher than it was before the recession.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • The number of people out of work more than six months has declined a little, but it remains far higher than it was before the recession.

From April 7-May 12, about 370,000 people in 23 states stopped getting benefits, according to the National Employment Law Project. For states to remain eligible for the extended unemployment benefits program, unemployment over any three-month period must average at least 10 percent more than the same period in any of the previous three years.

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Mitt Romney Set to Secure Sufficient GOP Delegates Tonight

Posted By on Tue, May 29, 2012 at 11:46 AM

GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney is poised to clinch the Republican presidential nomination with a win in today's largely uncontested Texas primary.

While the former Massachusetts governor's nomination has been virtually assured for more than a month, Romney would officially secure the 1,144 delegates required to clinch the Republican presidential nomination at his party's August convention if he wins the 152 delegates up for grabs in Texas.

Romney is currently 58 delegates shy of becoming the nominee.

The latest polls suggest that an election between Romney and President Barack Obama would be very close, ultimately decided by several swing states—Colorado and Nevada among them. Romney began his day campaigning in northern Colorado before flying to Las Vegas later today to attend a fund-raiser with Donald Trump.

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BW Preview: Bronco Nation-Building

Posted By on Tue, May 29, 2012 at 9:26 AM

At least one City of Boise official has concerns about Boise State's expanding footprint in the city's university district.

“There’s a couple of things that I’m really happy about, and a couple of others that I’m worried about,” said City Council Member Elaine Clegg. “Densifying the area between University and Beacon is good, but it’s happening off the tax rolls.”

Clegg referred to instances when private residences or businesses, which pay property taxes, give way to university development, which becomes tax-exempt state property, reducing the municipality's tax base.

But Bronco nation-building continues:

"With the amount of space we calculated that we need [for new buildings] in this expansion zone, we would probably require another 1 million square-feet, " said James Maguire, associate vice president for campus planning and facilities. "But that's a long way down the road."

In Wednesday's BW, we examine Boise State's expanding identity and the implications to its neighborhood and the entire region.

[ Video is no longer available. ]

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BLM 'Reclaims' Dugout Dick's Salmon River Caves

Posted By on Tue, May 29, 2012 at 9:19 AM

The Bureau of Land Management filled in the legendary caves of Idaho's iconic Dugout Dick, shortly after his April 2010 death at the age of 94.

The Idaho Falls Post Register reports that the U.S. Department of Interior had an agreement with Richard Zimmerman that allowed him to live on public lands above the Salmon River in central Idaho. Zimmerman lived in the caves for more than six decades, but the land reverted to BLM control after his death.

"We reclaimed the caves," BLM spokesperson Elizabeth Townley told the Post Register. "It was a huge undertaking. They were extremely unsafe."

After Zimmerman's personal belongings—including bicycles and spoiled food in jars and jugs—were removed, the caves were filled in with dirt and lava rock.

Some of the caves were 60 feet deep. Dugout Dick would charge visitors $2 a night to stay in one of the caves. Some stayed for months at a $25 monthly rate.

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Three Gem State Students in Today's National Spelling Bee

Posted By on Tue, May 29, 2012 at 9:15 AM

To bee or not to bee. The nail-biting national spelling bee gets under way today in Washington, D.C., with Idaho being represented by three youngsters: 12-year-old Malie Curren of Driggs, 14-year-old Sarah Sedy of Coeur d'Alene and 14-year old Ian Wendt of Moscow.

The Gem State trio are among 278 spellers from throughout the United States to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which launches its preliminary rounds today with a written test for all competitors. On Wednesday, there will be two more preliminary rounds. The top-scoring 50 spellers to survive all three preliminaries will advance to the semifinals on Thursday morning, and the championship finals, to be broadcast live on ESPN, will take place Thursday night.

Competitors must be in the eighth grade or younger.

Last year's winning word was "cymotrichous." Compare that to 1930's winning word, "fracas."

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Study: Fukushima Radioactivity Recorded in U.S. Bluefin Tuna

Posted By on Tue, May 29, 2012 at 9:03 AM

Scientists found traces of radiation in bluefin tuna caught off the coast of California, months after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. The levels of radioactivity were still well below United States and Japanese safety limits.

According to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Journal, small amounts of radioactive cesium isotopes were detected in 15 Pacific bluefin caught near San Diego last summer. The fish showed levels of cesium-137 and cesium-134 that were 10 times higher than in tuna caught previously in the same area.

According to the BBC, the detection gave a "clear indication that it originated from the Fukishima accident, less than five months before the fish were caught. The leak at the nuclear power plant released radioactive material into the Pacific Ocean, which fish can pick up from the water they swim in and the food they eat. In turn, predators that eat contaminated fish accumulated a higher concentration of cesium because of an effect known as biomagnification.

The study's co-author, Nicholas Fisher of Stony Brook University, said the research team expects the radiation to decline gradually. They plan to conduct a follow-up study later this year.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

AP: New Veterans Filing For Claims at 'Staggering' Rate

Posted By on Mon, May 28, 2012 at 8:56 AM

American men and women, returning from overseas conflicts, are filing for disability benefits at historic rates.

The Associated Press reports this morning that "a staggering 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars are now seeking compensation" for service-related injuries.

"That is more than double the estimate of 21 percent who filed such claims after the Gulf War in the early 1990s, top government officials told The Associated Press," the report said.

Additionally, new veterans are claiming eight to nine ailments on average. Payments range from $127 a month for a 10 percent disability to $2,769 for a full disability.

The AP spent three months reviewing records and talking with doctors, government officials and former troops to take stock of the veterans' injuries.

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Moose Vs. Car in Accident With 14-Year-Old Driver

Posted By on Mon, May 28, 2012 at 8:50 AM

Of the scores of accidents across the Gem State this Memorial Day Weekend, perhaps the most unusual involves a 14-year-old driver and a moose.

This morning's Coeur d'Alene Press reports that a 14-year-old from Great Falls, Mont., was behind the wheel of a 1993 Cadillac late Saturday on Interstate 90 in Idaho's panhandle. For the record, Montana law allows a 14-year-old driver to have a permit if they are in a state-approved traffic education program.

According to Idaho State Police, the vehicle collided with a moose on I-90 near Cataldo, Idaho. The head of the animal even entered the passenger side of the car. Three adults and a 5-year-old passenger were all admitted to a local hospital for injuries while the teenager escaped serious injury.

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Family Rescued From Cessna Crash in Owyhee Mountains

Posted By on Mon, May 28, 2012 at 8:42 AM

Cessna 172 crashed approximately one mile southeast of Silver City
  • Owyhee County Sheriff's Office
  • This Cessna 172 flown by a California family en route to visit a daughter in Mountain Home crashed Saturday night southeast of Silver City in the Owyhee mountains.

An unusual Memorial Day Weekend snowstorm hampered efforts Sunday to rescue a California family whose plane crashed into a snowy mountainside in Owyhee County.

Whiteout conditions prevented a medical helicopter from carrying out an immediate rescue when the family called for help, using a cellphone, after their Cessna 172 went down. Brian Brown, his wife Jayann and their daughter Heather, all from Wilton, Calif., were flying from Sacramento to Mountain Home when their plane went down about a mile southeast of Silver City late Saturday night.

Rescuers, who had to travel through 6-foot snow drifts on foot, finally found the family, wrapped them in blankets and waited for an airlift.

The Idaho Guard lifted each family member to a landing area near War Eagle Mountain before transferring the trio via medical helicopter to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, where they were listed in stable condition.

The family was flying to Mountain Home to visit their oldest daughter.

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Bergdahl Parents Lead Rolling Thunder Parade in D.C.

Posted By on Mon, May 28, 2012 at 8:36 AM

Motorcyclists ride across Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C.
  • Rolling Thunder
  • Motorcyclists ride across Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C., on Sunday as part of the annual Rolling Thunder parade.

The Idaho parents of missing serviceman Bowe Berggdahl led the parade of Rolling Thunder motorcyclists, now in its 25th year, through Washington, D.C., on Sunday. The annual Memorial Day Weekend ride is held to raise awareness about prisoners of war and those missing in action.

The 26-year-old Berdahl, from Hailey, was captured in Afghanistan in 2009 after he finished his guard shift at a combat post.

"Bowe, your family has not forgotten you, your hometown has not forgotten you, your state of Idaho has not forgotten you, and thanks to all of you here today, Washington, D.C., has not forgotten you," said his father, Robert Bergdahl. "We love you, we are proud of you. Stay strong, never give up. We pray for the day that we welcome you home."

The sergeant was captured by Taliban militants, and four videos of him have been released since. The last video was from February 2011, and it's unclear where Bergdahl is being held now.

"We are still searching for him," said John Wagner, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command. "We are actively looking for leads and information on his whereabouts and his condition."

Motorcyclists participating in the Rolling Thunder parade wore yellow wristbands with Bergdahl’s name and the date he went missing on them, along with the traditional biker gear of leather vests and riding boots, though temperatures in Washington reached into the 90s.

"It's not just a bunch of people riding their bikes through D.C.," said Peter Langer, who participated in this year's ride. "It symbolizes our freedom."

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