Tuesday, May 31, 2011

WHO Panel: Cell Phones Could Be Carcinogenic

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2011 at 3:22 PM

The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer is putting cell phones in the same category as dry cleaning chemicals and pesticides, as a potential threat to human health.

The panel, consisting of 31 scientists from 14 countries, reviewed existing studies that focused on the health effects of radio-frequency magnetic fields emitted by cellphones.

During a news conference today, Dr. Jonathan Sammet of the University of Southern California, said the panel's decision to classify cell phones as "possibly carcinogenic" was based largely on epidemiological data showing an increased risk among heavy cell phone users of a rare type of brain tumor called a "glioma."

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Kids Count: Fewer Children in Foster Care

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2011 at 3:06 PM

Idaho shadowed a national trend of a decrease in the number of children being placed in foster care. According to the Kids Count Data Center, the number of foster children in Idaho dropped from 1,870 in 2007 to 1,466 in 2009. State officials told City Desk that this trend has continued in 2010. In explaining the decrease, officials point to a decline in drug use and its subsequent effects on families.

“The decrease in the usage of meth and other drugs has had the most impact on the number of kids coming into foster care,” said Tom Shanahan, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare spokesman.

Shanahan explained that the department is challenged in trying to place two or more foster children with family members.

Shanahan said that Idaho has “always focused on reuniting children with their families,” as doing so is not only a benefit to the state but to the children as well, who have a greater chance of success if a stable living situation is maintained. Currently, 82 percent of Idaho’s children in foster care are living with families and only 9 percent reside in group homes or institutions.

“The trends overall are very positive,” Shanahan said, but conceded that recent cases of abuse were more serious than those seen in the past.

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Preview of BW Story on Meridian Teacher Cuts

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2011 at 3:03 PM

The Meridian School District's Board of Trustees has scheduled a June 14 public meeting to review what School Superintendent Linda Clark called "draconian" proposals in the wake of a $21.8 million shortfall for the 2011-2012 school year.

In Wednesday's BW, you can read about the proposed cuts, including the possibility of eliminating 100 teaching positions. We'll also show you a so-called "rubric" being used to determine who stays and who goes.

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Mountain Home Sued By Church

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2011 at 11:30 AM

A church is expected to file suit today against the City of Mountain Home, alleging religious discrimination.

The No-Limits Christian Ministries, in its suit filed today in U.S. District Court in Boise, said its First and 14th Amendment rights were violated when the Mountain Home City Council denied approval of a conditional use permit.

NLCM wants to convert a former Salvation Army building into a church and counseling center. Their request has been bouncing between the Mountain Home Planning and Zoning board and the City Council since December.

First, the major sticking point was parking. The building has a maximum occupancy of almost 300 people, but the parking lot only fits 23 vehicles. Mountain Home city officials said the church needs at least 71 spaces. Church officials said their dilemma was fixed by finding shared parking sites across the street.

City officials next said there would be a safety issue with dozens of churchgoers crossing two main traffic arteries. NLCM pastor Clark Williams argued that the arteries pumped little to no traffic on Sunday mornings.

“Initially, the city said, ‘Jump,’ and we said, ‘How high?’” Williams said. “In hindsight, we could have never jumped high enough.”

Representing NLCM, attorney John Mauck cited the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, stating religious institutions cannot be treated “on less than equal terms with a nonreligious institution.”

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Cross-Country Charity Marathon Hits Boise Tomorrow

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2011 at 11:18 AM

Next stop, Boise. Winding down what he calls his "50Give" tour, Keith Donohue is expected in Idaho tomorrow, making Idaho his 47th state in a marathon of charity. Donohue's journey actually began in Mexico in January, before he began his cross-country tour. After Idaho, Donohue will visit Oregon, Washington and Alaska.

“My family thought I was crazy for doing it,” Donohue said.

Speaking to Citydesk from Sheridan, Wyo., Donohue sounded tired, but said he’s looking forward to one of the longer hauls today, driving from Wyoming to Boise in a straight shot (“Pedal to the metal,” said Donohue).

Keith Donohue
  • Keith Donohue

By this time tomorrow, he’ll be working with The Arc, Boise’s charity that offers services to help those with intellectual and developmental disabilities lead independent lives. Donohue said he looked for engaging charities that will interest his Facebook "followers," a group that has grown significantly over the past few months.

“I was in a Starbucks writing the blog for 50Give, and over my shoulder, this guy saw me working on the website,” Donohue said. “[He] throws down $40 on the table, and tells me to keep up the good work. I get inspired daily by the generosity of the people on tour.”

After six months of giving and traveling, Keith says that 50Give has, at the end of the day, given him something as well.

“You find out what’s important, and it’s always the simple things," said Donohue. "Everyone’s trying to do a thousand things at once. Your loved ones are the most important part of your life.”

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Garden City Greenbelt Debate Heads to Court

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2011 at 10:58 AM

A debate over Greenbelt access in Garden City, which has already raged for four years, will make its way to Ada County Court next February.

Citizens for an Open Greenbelt said today that their suit against Garden City over access to a 1.5-mile section of the Greenbelt in the city's Riverside Village area, will be heard Feb. 21, 2012, in district court.

COG claims original Idaho State Land Board documents prove that the stretch just west of Glenwood Street and north of the Boise River "was intended to be a bike path."

"For over four years, COG has attempted to resolve this issue with Garden City officials," said COG spokesman Gary Segers. "But they have steadfastly refused to open this path to bike riding."

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Supreme Court Throws Out Suit Against Bush Administration

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2011 at 10:53 AM

The Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit brought by a former University of Idaho student who was held in jail for 16 days by the federal government as a so-called "material witness" in a terror investigation.

Lavoni Kidd was a football player for the U of I when he converted to Islam, changing his name to Abdullah al-Kidd. He began volunteering at an Islamic charity led by a person being investigated for possible terrorism ties. In 2003, al-Kidd was pulled from a plane headed for Saudi Arabia and held in prisons in Virginia, Oklahoma and Idaho. He was released after surrendering his passport and agreeing to restricted travel conditions.

In a lawsuit, al-Kidd held Bush administration officials personally liable for what he called wrongful arrest and detention. Represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, his lawyers said the government had "warped the law" to allow open-ended arrests and confinement.

But in a unanimous vote, the Supreme Court said al-Kidd could not hold Bush officials, and in particular former Attorney General John Ashcroft, liable.

In the opinion, Justice Antonin Saclia wrote, "The constitutional question in this case falls far short of that threshold."

al-Kidd currently teaches English to college students in Saudi Arabia. He still has claims pending against the FBI.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

Posted By on Mon, May 30, 2011 at 6:00 AM

Traditional Memorial Day ceremonies are scheduled for 10 a.m. today at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery on Horseshoe Bend Road. Attendees will hear music from the Idaho National Guard 25th Army Band and the Boise Highlanders. The ceremony will also include a 21-gun rifle and cannon salute and military flyover.

Idaho State Veterans Cemetery

Ceremonies are also scheduled on Freezeout Hill, on Idaho 16 east of Emmett, and at the Veterans Monument in Morris Hill Cemetery.

Memorial Day traces its roots back to 1866. The Civil War had ended and a resident of Waterloo, N.Y., feared that people would forget the sacrifice of combat, so the first official ceremony was organized as a day of mourning. In 1868, Gen. John Logan, commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, officially designated May 30 as a day to remember. That same year, President James Garfield laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. It wasn't until after World War I that the South fully embraced the holiday in lieu of its own designated day. In 1971, Congress designated the last Monday in May as Memorial Day.

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Massive Fish Kill Blamed on Columbia Dam Releases

Posted By on Sun, May 29, 2011 at 11:06 AM

Huge releases of water from dams on the bloated Columbia River have caused a massive fish kill at a fish farm south of the Grand Coulee Dam. Operators at Pacific Aquaculture said they're losing 100,000 fish a day because the water releases are oversaturating the river with gases that are toxic to the fish.

Cooler temperatures and wetter-than-normal conditions in the Pacific Northwest mean the biggest portion of the expected runoff volume is yet to come, with sub-basin snowpacks running 120 percent to 200 percent of normal in many places.

Meanwhile, weekend rainfall continues to keep the Boise River above 9.8 feet at the Glenwood Bridge, running more than 6,700 cubic feet per second.


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New Joint Chiefs Chairman Could Be Named Monday

Posted By on Sun, May 29, 2011 at 11:03 AM

Admiral Mike Mullen, who just last month made a stop in Boise, is reportedly on board with President Obama's pick to replace Mullen as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The New York Times reports that Obama could announce Gen. Martin Dempsey's nomination as early as Monday.

If approved, Dempsey would become the military's highest-ranking officer and a crucial member of the president's national security team. The team is about to undergo a significant shift as Gen. David Patraeus takes over as director of the CIA when its current director, Leon Panetta, presumably takes over as defense secretary when Robert Gates retires in June.

A West Point graduate, Dempsey earned a master's degree from Duke and is responsible for stabilization of the Iraqi capital region in 2003, when he took command of the U.S. Army division there. He's a three-star brigadier general with 36 years of active service.

According to the Times, Dempsey keeps a carved wooden box on his desk. Inside, he keeps laminated cards, each bearing a photograph and biographical information on each of the 122 soldiers killed in action during Dempsey's 15-month mission in Iraq.

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