The Heat of AutumnIt's officially fall, as of last week. It's the time of year when the leaves change color, the days get cooler and football dominates most casual conversation. Well, except for this year, that is. Well, people are still talking about football, but the weather on the West Coast has been anything like fall like. Temperatures have been weirdly warm here in Central Oregon, staying in the low 80s all week, but down in Los Angeles it got straight up scary hot... as in the hottest day ever.
And we don't mean "hottest day ever" to be interpreted in Kardashian hyperbole speak ("OMG, Khloe, it's like the hottest day ever!") It was literally the hottest day ever recorded in downtown L. A. - 113 degrees - since weather recordkeeping began in 1877. It was so hot the National Weather Service thermometer stopped functioning, leading the NWS to speculate that it was even hotter than 113. And again, it's almost October. Perhaps it's time we freak out? (MB)
Thanks for the Kidney, Now Get Outta Here
George Lopez, the man who appears on TBS each weeknight to make slight modifications to his list of jokes about Latinos and then interviews C-list celebrities (please Conan, we can't wait any longer), and his wife, Ann Serrano Lopez, are bringing an end to their 17-year marriage. This comes after reports that George had been, um, patronizing a pair of Tampa-area call girls. The couple said that the divorce was mutual, but keep in mind that five years ago Ann donated a kidney to her husband, who suffers from a genetic disorder that caused his kidneys to deteriorate. Now, she's down one internal organ and a husband. But you know, it's mutual, right? And you only need one kidney, after all... right? (MB)
Don't Take Away our School Vacation!
Obama, currently in the middle of a campaign to get people to realize he's not an emotionless robot, slipped up by declaring he wants to increase educational performance in America. Among his goals are to pay teachers more and get rid of poorly performing instructors in order to get American students on par with countries like Slovenia and the Czech Republic. But all Americans heard was that - horrors! - Obama wants to take away our school vacation! Well not quite, but he does want to add a month to our school year. Studies have shown that countries with school years that average 196 days kick our butts in achievement levels, while our 180-day-long school-year kids are floundering, spending far too long tending to the harvest or, realistically, watching MTV. Perhaps the solution isn't to keep our kids in school - it's Jersey Shore: Cambridge. (SR)
Poverty With A View
It's the slogan that's hounded Central Oregon for decades and no more so than now as unemployment stubbornly hovers in the 15 percent range. However, Deschutes County is not alone in its woes according to the latest U.S. Census information released Tuesday. According the federal data the number of Oregonians living in poverty has increase significantly in the past two years from 12.9 percent to 14.3 percent. The drop corresponds to a decrease in the median income for Oregon families over the last two years. According to the census information, Oregon families have seen their earnings drop from more than $50,000 annually to less than $48,500 annually. The drop in earnings mirrors the arc of the Great Recession, which, according to the feds, officially began in 2007 and (surprise!) actually ended last year. The federal data shows that Oregon kids have been particularly hard hit by the Bush Recession (yes, it's really yours Dubya). The rate of children living in poverty has risen from 16.3 percent to 18.7 percent. The survey also looked at the roughly 643,000 Oregonians who live without any form of health insurance, up roughly 50,000 people from last year.
The news about poverty comes as the federal government weighs cutting off the emergency stream of funding that acts as a safety net for some of the state's poorest residents through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program. The program got a short-term injection of stimulus dollars, but those monies are set to run out at the end of the month and a partisan paralyzed Congress has made no move to extend the safety net. Aren't you just loving the Democratic majority?
Badlands Gets a Little Love
It took an act of Congress and more than a decade of work, but the vision of a high desert wilderness outside Bend's backdoor was realized more than a year ago with the creation of the Badlands Wilderness area. Now there is more good news for Badlands lovers. The Oregon Natural Desert Association, which spearheaded the Badlands Wilderness campaign, announced on Tuesday that it has worked with an adjacent rancher to retire nearly 3,000 acres of grazing rights outside of the wilderness on another high value piece of public land. The property, known as the Lynch Allotment, was already popular with hikers and horseback riders because of its wilderness features, including old growth juniper trees. According to ONDA, that interest gave rise to some conflicts that ultimately led the property owner to consider retiring his federal grazing lease. The leases, which are offered to ranchers for pennies on the acre, are not always productive, but they are highly symbolic and not always easily relinquished. In this case, several ONDA members were willing to donate the money to facilitate the transaction.
Here's to a bigger Badlands and the quiet generosity of the ONDA members who made it happen. (EF)