News Round Up [July 7, 2017] - P.O.W. Report

Thursday, July 6, 2017

News Round Up [July 7, 2017]

What's the Dog Thinking?

Alaska wildfires aren’t heating up this year

Alaska Public Media by Dan Bross, KUAC

It’s been a slow wildfire season so far. As of July 6, just over 200,000 acres have burned from 273 different fires. Which, according to Tim Mowry, spokesman for the State Division of Forestry, puts 2017 well below normal.

"In a typical season, we average about 1.2 million acres a year and about 500 fires,” Mowry said.

Mowry cautioned that at this time last year, even less acreage had burned, but then came an uptick in activity that boosted the total. While that could still happen this year, Mowry said that normally mid-July trends toward cooler, wetter weather.

As a result, Alaska wildfire fighting agencies are ramping down suppression operations across large parts of the state. Mowry said aviation resources are already being downsized.

”The two big scoopers — the CL-415’s from the U.S. forest service that have been up here –were released, so they’ll be headin’ south,” Mowry said.

Mowry said the state is hanging on to smaller water scooping planes, retardant tankers and helicopters for a while longer. And Alaska firefighting personnel have yet to be made available for Lower 48 assignments. [Source]

Free Tlingit workbook part of language revitalization

2 Alaska Public Media by Carter Barrett, KTOO
The group of Natives and non-Natives are learning a language that only about 100 people speak fluently.

The non-structured workshop studies the complicated sounds and structure of the Tlingit language. On this particular night, they are using pages from a new workbook to teach different greets and responses.

Sealaska Heritage Institute recently published the “Beginning Tlingit Workbook.” It is part of the ongoing effort to revitalize Tlingit, and the workbook is available free online.

Daniel Hernandez was fascinated with the few Tlingit words he learned in his training as a season tour guide in Juneau. He’s made going to the Monday night workshop part of his routine.

“The information I got briefed on just really started to fascinate me, and I wanted to learn more and more,” Hernandez said. “So far, it’s amazing. I really love the class, I’m really learning a lot.”

X̲ʼunei Lance Twitchell, a fluent Tlingit speaker and professor at the University of Southeast Alaska, authored the workbook.

Twitchell has been at the forefront of revitalizing the language, which was nearly destroyed through colonialist efforts that forbid Native children from speaking their language. [Full Story]

Man kept wife’s body in freezer to collect Social Security for 8 years

Allan Dunn and his wife, Margaret Dunn, lived together in Sun City Center. When Margaret Dunn died in 2002, Allan Dunn put her body in a freezer and collected her Social Security benefits until his death in 2010, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Department of Justice said.

In all, he improperly collected $92,088 in federal benefits, investigators said.

Upon his death, Allan Dunn’s sole asset was the condo where he and his wife had resided.

Authorities said Allan Dunn’s heirs were unaware that he had concealed his wife’s death and agreed to waive their rights to inherit the condominium and to put it up for sale.

The condo has since been sold.

After paying the back taxes, sales costs and amounts owed to the condominium association, the remaining sales proceeds of $15,743.14 were paid to the United States. [Source]

Fidget Spinner Inventor Misses Major Payday After Patent on Toy Expires

By Megan Trimble
As the fidget spinner craze spreads through schools and toy stores, its Florida-based creator hasn't seen a penny of profit decades after inventing the gadget.

Catherine Hettinger couldn't afford to update the patent on her creation – small top-like gadgets that people can spin fast with their fingers and are meant to help children focus – and hasn't banked any money from their rise in popularity. Hettinger's patent expired in 2005, and she couldn't afford the $400 renewal fee, according to The Guardian.

Hettinger told Time magazine she began inventing the toy in the 1980s as a way to distract kids and promote peace after a visit to Israel. Hettinger told Time that she's "just thrilled" they took off.

The gadgets have been touted as therapeutic for people with ADD, ADHD, anxiety and autism, but others embraced the spinners as the latest toy fad. Debate, though, has stirred around the spinners, with some saying the "fidget object" is counterproductive and prompting teachers to confiscate the gadgets from students to prevent classroom distractions.

Hettinger met with Hasbro after first landing her patent, but the toy maker rejected the product after consumer testing, according to Time. Hasbro now sells the spinners. [Read the rest]

Bayer Accidentally Funds Study Showing Its Pesticide is Killing Bees, Promptly Denies Conclusions

A large-scale study on neonicotinoid pesticides is adding to the growing body of evidence that these agricultural chemicals are indeed harming bee populations. Carried out at 33 sites in the United Kingdom, Germany and Hungary, the study found that exposure to neonicotinoids “left honeybee hives less likely to survive over winter, while bumblebees and solitary bees produced fewer queens.”

Bayer and Syngenta, makers of “neonic” pesticides who stand to reap massive profits if Europe lifts the neonic ban, promptly disputed the researchers’ conclusions—even though they partially funded the study.

The authors note that this is the first real-world experiment demonstrating direct causation between neonics and reduced bee populations, and is consistent with other findings.

However, no harmful effects were found on overwintering honeybees in Germany. This relatively small subset of the study’s findings was pounced on by Bayer and Syngenta to claim that their products are safe for bees, or the results are inconclusive. The two companies make the neonic pesticides used in the study.

“We do not share the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology’s interpretation that adverse effects of the seed treatments can be concluded from this study, and we remain confident that neonicotinoids are safe when used and applied responsibly,” said Dr. Richard Schmuck, environmental science director at Bayer. [Source]

Read More: News Round Up [July 6, 2017]

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