WBEZ | NPR http://www.wbez.org/tags/npr Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Grand Jury Indicts 6 Baltimore Officers In Freddie Gray's Death http://www.wbez.org/news/grand-jury-indicts-6-baltimore-officers-freddie-grays-death-112073 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/freddiegrayyoutube.png" alt="" /><p><p>A grand jury has returned indictments against all six Baltimore Police Department officers charged in connection with the death last month of <a href="http://www.npr.org/tags/401114525/freddie-gray" target="_blank">Freddie Gray</a>, the state&#39;s attorney in Baltimore says.</p><p>Prosecutor Marilyn J. Mosby said at a news conference that the officers will be arraigned July 2. The charges against them are similar to <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/05/01/403496063/freddie-gray-update-new-speculation-on-his-death-and-peaceful-protests" target="_blank">those announced</a> May 1 that range from one count of second-degree murder and four counts of involuntary manslaughter to assault and misconduct in office. As Bill noted at the time:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;The most severe charges are leveled against Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., identified as the driver of the van that transported Gray to a police station. The charges against Goodson include second-degree depraved heart murder, which carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.</p><p>&quot;The investigation by the prosecutor&#39;s office found there had been no reason to detain Gray &mdash; and that his arrest was in itself illegal, Mosby said. She said the knife that police officers found on Gray turned out to be legal.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>NPR&#39;s Jennifer Ludden, who is reporting on this story for our Newscast unit, says that while the most serious charges against the officers still stand, there is &quot;one change &mdash; charges of false imprisonment have been dropped.&quot; She adds:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;Mosby had originally based them on her contention that the knife Gray was carrying was legal, but lawyers for the officers dispute that. The grand jury added charges of reckless endangerment, bolstering Mosby&#39;s allegation that officers repeatedly failed to render aid to Gray after he asked for it.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>Gray, 25, was arrested April 12 and suffered a serious spine injury while in police custody. He died April 19. Mosby said Gray &quot;suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet, and unrestrained inside of the BPD wagon.&quot;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>For more coverage of this story, please click <a href="http://www.npr.org/tags/401114525/freddie-gray">here</a>.</p></p> Thu, 21 May 2015 17:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/grand-jury-indicts-6-baltimore-officers-freddie-grays-death-112073 As rules get sorted out, drones may transform agriculture industry http://www.wbez.org/news/rules-get-sorted-out-drones-may-transform-agriculture-industry-111567 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/img_3297_wide-0eaf22bd10778693f1839956d8a491c74b257934-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On a breezy morning in rural Weld County, Colo., Jimmy Underhill quickly assembles a black and orange drone with four spinning rotors. We&#39;re right next to a corn field, littered with stalks left over from last year&#39;s harvest.</p><p>&quot;This one just flies itself. It&#39;s fully autonomous,&quot; Underhill says.</p><p>Underhill is a drone technician with <a href="http://agribotix.com/">Agribotix, a Colorado-based drone start</a> up that sees farmers as its most promising market. Today he&#39;s training his fellow employees how to work the machine in the field.</p><p>&quot;So if you want to start, we can walk over to the drone,&quot; Underhill says. &quot;It&#39;s got a safety button on here.&quot; And now it&#39;ll start flying.&quot;</p><p>The quadcopter zips 300 feet into the air directly above our heads, pauses for a moment and then begins to move.</p><p>&quot;So it just turned to the East and it&#39;s going to start its lawnmower pattern,&quot; Underhill says.</p><p>What makes the drone valuable to farmers is the camera on board. It snaps a high-resolution photo every two seconds. From there Agribotix stitches the images together, sniffing out problem spots in the process. Knowing what&#39;s happening in a field can save a farmer money.</p><p>At farm shows across the country, drones have become as ubiquitous as John Deere tractors. The Colorado Farm Show earlier this year included an informational session, telling farmers both the technical and legal challenges ahead.</p><p>&quot;I think it&#39;s a very exciting time,&quot; says farmer Darren Salvador, who grows 2,000 acres of wheat and corn near the Colorado-Nebraska border.</p><p>&quot;Can you look at disease concern, insect concern, so now you can be more proactive and treat smaller areas and not treat the entire field,&quot; he says.</p><p>Salvador and about 50 other farmers got an earful from Rory Paul, CEO of <a href="http://www.voltaerialrobotics.com/">Volt Aerial Robotics</a>, a St. Louis-based drone start up.</p><p>&quot;We really don&#39;t know what they&#39;re good for,&quot; Paul says. &quot;We&#39;ve got a few ideas of where they could benefit agriculture. The majority of which are still theoretical.&quot; Theoretical because commercial drone use is still widely banned in the U.S.</p><p>On Sunday, the Federal Aviation Administration <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/02/15/386464188/commercial-drone-rules-to-limit-their-speed-and-altitude">released long-awaited draft rules </a>on the operation of pilotless drones, opening the nation&#39;s airspace to the commercial possibilities of the burgeoning technology, but not without restrictions.</p><p>Currently, companies may apply for exemptions from the FAA, but the requirements to get that exemption can be costly. Like requiring drone operators to hold a private pilot&#39;s license.</p><p>&quot;These small drones, that are almost priced to be expensive toys, are not reliable. And that&#39;s the concern of the FAA,&quot; says Eric Frew, who studies drones at the University of Colorado-Boulder.</p><p><a href="http://www.faa.gov/">The FAA </a>didn&#39;t respond to requests for comment for this story, but Frew says the agency is trying to find a balance. Putting a large flying machine in the hands of someone who&#39;s inexperienced can cause big problems.</p><p>&quot;When these systems work, they work fantastically. When they don&#39;t work, they don&#39;t work,&quot; Frew says.</p><p>Back at the corn field in rural Colorado, Agribotix President Tom McKinnon watches as the drone comes in for a landing.</p><p>&quot;So we bash the FAA a lot,&quot; McKinnon says. &quot;I mean the FAA&#39;s job is air safety. And they have delivered on that. But when it comes to drones they&#39;re badly fumbling the ball.&quot;</p><p>McKinnon says until the agency gives solid guidance to commercial drone operators, he&#39;ll be doing most of his work in countries like Australia and Brazil where laws are friendlier to farm drones.</p><p><em><em>&mdash; via <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2015/02/16/385520242/as-rules-get-sorted-out-drones-may-transform-agriculture-industry" target="_blank">NPR&#39;s All Tech Considered</a></em> and <a href="http://harvestpublicmedia.org/">Harvest Public Media</a>, a reporting collaboration that focuses on agriculture and food production.</em></p></p> Mon, 16 Feb 2015 11:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/rules-get-sorted-out-drones-may-transform-agriculture-industry-111567 White House asks Congress for war powers to fight ISIS http://www.wbez.org/news/white-house-asks-congress-war-powers-fight-isis-111537 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP439279241343.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In a move that is sure to set off a new round of debate over how the U.S. should fight ISIS, the Obama administration has sent Congress a request for formal authorization to use military force against the extremist group.</p><p>A <a href="http://www.foreign.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/02-11-15_White_House_AUMF_Text.pdf">copy of the new Authorization for the Use of Military Force, or AUMF</a>, has been posted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; it says ISIS &quot;poses a grave threat to the people and territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria, regional stability, and the national security interests of the United States and its allies and partners.&quot;</p><p>We&#39;ve updated this post to reflect the news. <em>Post continues:</em></p><p>Discussing draft versions of the request earlier this morning, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/02/11/385396486/sen-kaine-pushes-for-vote-on-military-strikes-against-isis">told NPR&#39;s Morning Edition</a> that President Obama will ask Congress to authorize ground troops, with a prohibition on their use in &quot;enduring offensive combat missions.&quot;</p><p>A similar provision is in the request for war powers; it also sets a three-year limit on the powers and repeals the 2002 authorization for using force in Iraq.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s not good to have these previous war authorizations kind of floating out there&quot; to be used years later, he said.</p><p>White House officials framed the request for war powers after meeting with members of both parties in Congress, where it will come under close scrutiny.</p><p>The effort has been a balancing act, with a key issue being the possible role of ground troops: Republicans say they don&#39;t want to limit the Pentagon&#39;s approach, while Democrats are wary of giving the OK to an open-ended conflict.</p><p>&quot;On Capitol Hill, there is going to be an extended debate, discussion, and argument over exactly what the Authorization for the Use of Military Force should say, what the limits should be,&quot; NPR&#39;s Tamara Keith reports.</p><p>The new AUMF would replace the authorization that was provided to President Bush in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. It would set new parameters for the U.S. to follow as it tries to combat ISIS, the violent group that has claimed territory in Iraq and Syria.</p><p>&quot;There&#39;s high skepticism on Capitol Hill that the earlier authorizations cover&quot; the military operations the U.S. has already conducted against ISIS, Kaine said.</p><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/02/10/385215395/white-house-seeking-support-of-congress-in-fight-against-isis">As Tamara reported for the Two-Way yesterday</a>, the effort to shape the legislation has included a wide range of administration officials, from White House Counsel Neil Eggleston to National Security Advisor Susan Rice.</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/02/11/385411567/white-house-will-request-war-powers-from-congress-today-senator-says" target="_blank">NPR&#39;s The Two-Way</a></em></p></p> Wed, 11 Feb 2015 13:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/white-house-asks-congress-war-powers-fight-isis-111537 A Chicago community puts mixed-income housing to the test http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-community-puts-mixed-income-housing-test-111502 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/corley_lathrop_slide-0d583b1bfac0b67299b9c261b1650cb792b085c6-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="A resident of Lathrop Homes leaves one of the few occupied buildings in the development. The city wants to redevelop the public housing as mixed use, and offered vouchers to encourage residents to relocate. (Cheryl Corley/NPR)" /></div><p>Right next to the Chicago River on the city&#39;s North Side,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.preservationchicago.org/userfiles/file/lathrop.pdf" target="_blank">Lathrop Homes</a>, with its black, white and Latino residents, is considered the city&#39;s most diverse public housing.</p><p>It&#39;s also on the National Register of Historic Places. And with 925 low-rise units on about 30 acres, it&#39;s big. But these days, only a fraction of those apartments are occupied.</p><p>Miguel Suarez has lived in Lathrop Homes for 25 years. He says the Chicago Housing Authority offered people housing vouchers to move elsewhere when they decided that Lathrop would be rehabbed &mdash; part of a massive effort to revamp public housing in the city.</p><p>But residents at Lathrop say they don&#39;t live in a distressed neighborhood that needs change &mdash; so they are fighting to keep their homes intact.</p><p><strong>The New Face Of Public Housing</strong></p><p>It&#39;s been two decades since&nbsp;<a href="http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/public_indian_housing/programs/ph/hope6/about" target="_blank">the federal government&#39;s HOPE VI Program</a>&nbsp;offered public housing authorities around the nation money to tear down blighted public housing projects.</p><p>Across the country, cities used it as an opportunity to experiment with breaking up pockets of poverty. They replaced the housing projects with &quot;mixed-income housing,&quot; where people who have money live next door to people who don&#39;t.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/hoffman_20150202_0121_slide-b7d970c1198627b1f04402ec2e0a48f1be72cf7c-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 266px; width: 400px; float: right;" title="Nivea Sandoval is a 30-year resident of the Lathrop Homes. She feels Chicago Housing Authority is neglecting residents, but still wants to live here because of the strong community. (Peter Hoffman for NPR)" /></div><p>But mixed-income housing changes the profile of a city &mdash; and it&#39;s often controversial. The Chicago Housing Authority, or CHA, launched a massive program in 1999, promising to tear down troubled high rises and rehab or rebuild 25,000 units of public housing.</p><p>&quot;Our interest, and the CHA&#39;s interest, is in making a vital, vibrant mixed-income community here,&quot; says Jacques Sandberg, a vice president at Related Midwest, one of the developers involved in revamping Lathrop Homes.</p><p><strong>The Lathrop Homes Plan</strong></p><p>Suarez, who is semi-retired, is the chairperson of a group of residents called the Lathrop Leadership Team. During a driving tour of the neighborhood, he points out how all of the three-story apartment buildings and smaller row houses on the northern side of the development are boarded up and fenced in.</p><p>Throughout the development, arched colonnades connect the buildings and sweeping snow-covered lawns. There&#39;s lots of new pricey housing surrounding Lathrop, and plenty of businesses and stores.</p><p>Suarez says he knows why there&#39;s a push for change. &quot;It&#39;s moving the poor out and bringing the rich in,&quot; he says. &quot;Gentrification &mdash; &#39;We don&#39;t care where you go, just get the hell out, because we want this.&#39; &quot;</p><p>That&#39;s the fight when it comes to mixed-income housing: determining the right mix of incomes &mdash; and how many public housing residents get to return to a refurbished development.</p><p>The latest plan for a redeveloped Lathrop Homes calls for one-half of the historic development to be torn down and the rest rehabbed. The new Lathrop would include 500 market-rate condos and townhouses, but only about 200 low-income or affordable apartments and 400 public housing units, down from the current 925.</p><p>It&#39;s controversial, and developer Jacques Sandberg says creating mixed-income neighborhoods can be difficult.</p><p>&quot;There are people who have legitimate positions that have to be reconciled,&quot; he says. &quot;Sometimes they are at odds and are fundamentally irreconcilable, and there are people&#39;s lives at stake.&quot;</p><p><strong>The Fight For Lathrop</strong></p><p>A group of Lathrop residents say they aren&#39;t on board with the plans for their home. Lathrop Advisory Council member Cynthia Scott, a former receptionist who is on disability benefits now, says it has been frustrating to hear developers and others talk about &quot;concentrated poverty&quot; and how Lathrop Homes is isolated from the rest of the neighborhood.</p><p>&quot;If you go outside this community, everybody else&#39;s community is gated. We are not gated,&quot; she says. &quot;People walk their dogs around here. Our parks are open; their parks are closed. So who&#39;s to say we are not an open community?&quot;</p><p>Recent home sales near Lathrop range from $500,000 to about $1 million. Titus Kerby, the Lathrop Advisory Council&#39;s president, says the plan for Lathrop means hundreds of public housing residents won&#39;t be able to return to a thriving neighborhood that&#39;s already mixed-income.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img 400="" 525="" a="" actually="" affordable="" alderman="" allow="" alt="" and="" are="" back="" be="" bring="" bringing="" calls="" chicago="" class="image-original_image" committed="" community="" development="" displaced="" even="" for="" fund="" generally="" gives="" going="" have="" he="" helps="" here="" hoffman="" homes="" housing="" if="" in="" is="" it="" joe="" lathrop="" live="" located="" market-rate="" mixed-income="" more="" moreno="" moreno.="" most="" must="" new="" next="" north="" of="" on="" only="" or="" other="" our="" p="" peter="" plan.="" position="" proco="" project="" public="" residents="" s="" says="" sense="" setting="" side="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/hoffman_20150202_0342_slide-1046437b7d8ee761a2284eebfdb2118b718334e4-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" t="" that="" the="" title="J.L. Gross walks along a river pathway near the Lathrop Homes. He has lived in the development for 27 years and cherishes Lathrop because " to="" units="" us="" wants="" ward="" what="" who="" will="" you="" /><p>&quot;I know it sounds a little utopia &mdash; that a public housing resident comes in, gets to affordable rent and gets to an affordable purchase and then, maybe, perhaps gets unrestricted,&quot; Moreno says, &quot;but it&#39;s not without precedent. And if we don&#39;t provide the opportunity, it&#39;s not going to happen.&quot;</p><p><strong>Mixed-Income Housing Results</strong></p><p>Studies of Chicago&#39;s existing mixed-income housing&nbsp;show that public housing residents in the new developments are doing better, while most who had to move elsewhere still live in segregated, high-poverty neighborhoods.</p><p>Lawrence Vale, an urban studies professor at MIT, has studied mixed-income housing in Chicago and other cities. &quot;There are lots of assumptions about what the new neighborhoods should do to help low-income residents find role models or better social networks,&quot; he says, &quot;but the empirical evidence of that has been scant.&quot;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/hoffman_20150202_0237_slide-e95d9a6b3dc1c539910510a01535729a38219c2e-s800-c85_0.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="The main office for the Lathrop Homes public housing complex in Chicago. One resident says the redevelopment plan for the complex is just more gentrification in the city. (Peter Hoffman for NPR)" /></div><p>But there are some aspects of mixed-income housing that are promising, Vale says.</p><p>&quot;There&#39;s a sense of people finding enhanced security, increased investment in the surrounding neighborhoods and higher expectations for the management when they have the pressure of people putting more of their own money into payments,&quot; he says.</p><p>The Chicago Housing Authority says construction at Lathrop could begin by spring of 2016, and that it plans to update residents soon. If Lathrop does indeed become a mixed-income community as planned, even its developers say it may take years to determine how it functions as a neighborhood &mdash; and whether a new Lathrop is a success.</p></div></div><p>- <em>via <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/02/05/381886102/a-chicago-community-puts-mixed-income-housing-to-the-test">NPR&#39;s Cities Project</a></em></p></p> Thu, 05 Feb 2015 09:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-community-puts-mixed-income-housing-test-111502 Obama administration won't seek to end 529 college tax break http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-administration-wont-seek-end-529-college-tax-break-111466 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr bradley gorden backpacks.PNG" alt="" /><p><div class="storytext storylocation linkLocation" id="storytext"><p>Reversing what had been an unpopular approach, the White House says it is dropping the idea of ending a tax break for 529 college savings plans. Critics had called the proposal a tax hike. All 50 states and the District of Columbia sponsor 529 plans.</p><p>Money in 529 accounts is meant to grow along with future college students, and then be distributed to pay for education expenses without being taxed.</p><p>As <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/01/27/381783199/obama-takes-heat-for-proposing-to-end-college-savings-break">NPR&#39;s Tamara Keith reported</a> this morning, &quot;It&#39;s a pretty good deal, and one that&#39;s been around since 2001. But the White House says fewer than 3 percent of families use these accounts &mdash; and 70 percent of the money in them comes from families earning more than $200,000 a year.&quot;</p><p>Obama&#39;s plan had been to end the tax benefit for future contributions, replacing it with other education and tax proposals. But the idea drew bipartisan criticism, and the White House said today that it will now ask Congress to focus on &quot;a larger package of education tax relief that has bipartisan support,&quot; along with proposals the president mentioned in his State of the Union speech.</p><p>NPR&#39;s Keith confirmed the reversal Tuesday. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/28/us/politics/obama-will-drop-proposal-to-end-529-college-savings-plans.html">The New York Times</a> reported the news today, saying that the president was &quot;facing angry reprisals from parents and from lawmakers of both parties.&quot;</p><p>The move comes a day after Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., <a href="http://lynnjenkins.house.gov/press-releases/reps-jenkins-kind-introduce-legislation-to-expand-strengthen-529-college-savings-plans1/">introduced a bill</a> that would expand college savings plans instead of limiting them.</p><p>Today, Jenkins said her bill would &quot;further promote college access and eliminate barriers for middle class families to save and plan ahead. It would also modernize the program by allowing students to purchase a computer using their 529 funds.&quot;</p><p>House Speaker John Boehner, who had urged Obama to keep the 529 plans intact, says he&#39;s glad the president &quot;listened to the American people and withdrew his proposed tax hike on college savings.&quot; He added, &quot;This tax would have hurt middle-class families already struggling to get ahead.&quot;</p><p>Aides familiar with the conversations tell NPR&#39;s Keith that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi urged preserving the 529 provisions today, as she traveled with the president on Air Force One from India to Saudi Arabia.</p><p>You can read about 529 plans at the <a href="http://www.sec.gov/investor/pubs/intro529.htm">SEC website</a>, as well as at the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/uac/529-Plans:-Questions-and-Answers">IRS site</a>.</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/01/27/381967958/obama-administration-won-t-seek-to-end-529-college-tax-break" target="_blank">via NPR</a></em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 18:40:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-administration-wont-seek-end-529-college-tax-break-111466 Why aren’t there more Latinos on TV? http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/why-aren%E2%80%99t-there-more-latinos-tv-111465 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/0127_cristela-abc-624x415.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The big four television networks have made progress in diversifying their casts, but only among African-American actors. That&rsquo;s according to recent numbers compiled by the Associated Press.</p><p>Latinos represent about 17&nbsp;percent of the American population, but on network T.V., that group represents less than 10&nbsp;percent of characters.</p><p>NPR TV Critic <strong>Eric Deggans</strong> joins <em><a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/" target="_blank">Here &amp; Now&rsquo;</a></em>s Lisa Mullins to discuss why it might be that&nbsp;Latino Americans continue to be snubbed in casting, in spite of the fact they tend to consume more media by percentage than another other group.</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/01/27/latinos-television-casting" target="_blank">via Here &amp; Now</a></em></p></p> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 18:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/why-aren%E2%80%99t-there-more-latinos-tv-111465 To protect his son, a father asks school to bar unvaccinated children http://www.wbez.org/news/protect-his-son-father-asks-school-bar-unvaccinated-children-111464 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rhett-1_slide-c10ff261cacc06cbd89faaa50e63cda63bfc99b4-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Carl Krawitt has watched his son, Rhett, now 6, fight leukemia for the past 4 1/2 years. For more than three of those years, Rhett has undergone round after round of chemotherapy. Last year he finished chemotherapy, and doctors say he is in remission.</p><p>Now, there&#39;s a new threat, one that the family should not have to worry about: measles.</p><p>Rhett cannot be vaccinated, because his immune system is still rebuilding. It may be months more before his body is healthy enough to get all his immunizations. Until then, he depends on everyone around him for protection &mdash; what&#39;s known as <a href="http://blogs.kqed.org/stateofhealth/2013/08/23/5-things-you-should-know-about-vaccines/" target="_blank">herd immunity</a>.</p><p>But Rhett lives in Marin County, Calif., a county with the <a href="http://ww2.kqed.org/news/2013/08/21/marin-vaccinations/" target="_blank">dubious honor of having the highest rate of &quot;personal belief exemptions&quot;</a> in the Bay Area and among the highest in the state. This school year, 6.45 percent of children in Marin have a personal belief exemption, which allows parents to lawfully send their children to school unvaccinated against communicable diseases like measles, polio, whooping cough and more</p><p>Carl Krawitt has had just about enough. &quot;It&#39;s very emotional for me,&quot; he said. &quot;If you choose not to immunize your own child and your own child dies because they get measles, OK, that&#39;s your responsibility, that&#39;s your choice. But if your child gets sick and gets my child sick and my child dies, then ... your action has harmed my child.&quot;</p><p>Krawitt is taking action of his own. His son attends Reed Elementary in Tiburon, a school with a 7 percent personal belief exemption rate. (The statewide average is 2.5 percent). Krawitt had previously worked with the school nurse to make sure that all the children in his son&#39;s class were fully vaccinated. He said the school was very helpful and accommodating.</p><p>Now Krawitt and his wife, Jodi, have emailed the district&#39;s superintendent, requesting that the district &quot;require immunization as a condition of attendance, with the only exception being those who cannot medically be vaccinated.&quot;</p><p>Carl Krawitt provided me with Superintendent Steven Herzog&#39;s response. Herzog didn&#39;t directly address their query, instead saying: &quot;We are monitoring the situation closely and will take whatever actions necessary to ensure the safety of our students.&quot;</p><p>Typically, a response to health emergencies rests with county health officers. During the current measles outbreak, we&#39;ve already seen that unvaccinated students at Huntington Beach High School in Orange County <a href="http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-students-exposed-to-measles-oc-20150120-story.html" target="_blank">were ordered to stay </a>out of school for three weeks after a student there contracted measles. It&#39;s one way to contain an outbreak.</p><p>But those steps were taken in the face of a confirmed case at the school.</p><p>When I called Marin County health officer Matt Willis to see what he thought of keeping unvaccinated kids out of school even if there were no confirmed cases, he sounded intrigued. &quot;This is partly a legal question,&quot; he said.</p><p>But he was open to the idea and said he was going to check with the state to see what precedent there was to take such an action.</p><p>Right now, there are no cases of measles anywhere in Marin and no suspected cases either. Still, &quot;if the outbreak progresses and we start seeing more and more cases,&quot; Willis said, &quot;then this is a step we might want to consider&quot; &mdash; requiring unvaccinated children to stay home, even without confirmed cases at a specific school.</p><p>Rhett has been treated at the University of California, San Francisco, and his oncologist there, Dr. Robert Goldsby, said that he is likely at higher risk of complications if he were to get measles.</p><p>&quot;When your immune system isn&#39;t working as well, it allows many different infections to be worse,&quot; Goldsby said. &quot;It&#39;s not just Rhett. There are hundreds of other kids in the Bay Area that are going through cancer therapy, and it&#39;s not fair to them. They can&#39;t get immunized; they have to rely on their friends and colleagues and community to help protect them.&quot;</p><p>Goldsby pointed to the number of people who, when facing a friend or family member who receives a challenging diagnosis, will immediately ask how they can help. &quot;Many families will say, &#39;What can I do to help? What can I do to help?&#39; &quot; he said, repeating it for emphasis. &quot;One of the main things they can do is make sure their [own] kids are vaccinated to protect others.&quot;</p><p>Krawitt has been speaking up about vaccination for a long time now. He told me about going to a parent meeting at his daughter&#39;s school just before the start of the school year, where a staff member reminded parents not to send peanut products to school, since a child or children had an allergy. &quot;It&#39;s really important your kids don&#39;t bring peanuts, because kids can die,&quot; Krawitt recalls the group being told.</p><p>The irony was not lost on him. He told me he immediately responded, &quot;In the interest of the health and safety of our children, can we have the assurance that all the kids at our school are immunized?&quot;</p><p>He found out later from a friend that other parents who were present were &quot;mad that you asked the question, because they don&#39;t immunize their kids.&quot;</p><p><em>This story was produced by </em><a href="http://blogs.kqed.org/stateofhealth/">State of Health</a><em>, KQED&#39;s health blog.</em></p></p> Tue, 27 Jan 2015 18:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/protect-his-son-father-asks-school-bar-unvaccinated-children-111464 Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks, 1st black player in team history, dies http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-cubs-legend-ernie-banks-1st-black-player-team-history-dies-111451 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/banks_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Baseball&#39;s Chicago Cubs report that Hall of Fame shortstop Ernie Banks has died. &quot;Mr. Cub,&quot; who began his career in the Negro leagues, was the first black player for the team &mdash; eighth in the majors overall &mdash; and played in 14 All-Star games in his 19 seasons, all with the Cubs.</p><p>&quot;Forty-four years after his retirement, Banks holds franchise records for hits, intentional walks and sacrifice flies and in RBIs since 1900,&quot; <a href="http://m.cubs.mlb.com/news/article/107316594/beloved-mr-cub-hall-of-famer-banks-dies-at-83" target="_blank">MLB.com reports</a>. &quot;He likely holds club records for smiles and handshakes as well. ... His 2,528 games are the most by anyone who never participated in postseason play. Chicago never held him responsible for that and believed he deserved better.&quot;</p><p>Banks, who was 83, was named National League MVP in 1958 and 1959, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.</p><p>His back-to-back MVP awards were among the few given to players on losing teams, notes The <em>Associated Press</em>:</p><div><blockquote><p>&quot;Banks&#39; best season came in 1958, when he hit .313 with 47 homers and 129 RBIs. Though the Cubs went 72-82 and finished sixth in the National League, Banks edged Willie Mays and Hank Aaron for his first MVP award. He was the first player from a losing team to win the NL MVP.</p><p>&quot;Banks won the MVP again in 1959, becoming the first NL player to win it in consecutive years, even though the Cubs had another dismal year. Banks batted .304 with 45 homers and a league-leading 143 RBIs.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>The <em>Chicago Tribune</em> <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/ct-sullivan-ernie-banks-spt-0124-20150123-story.html" target="_blank">describes the outlook of Banks, who also was known as &quot;Mr. Sunshine&quot;</a>:</p><blockquote><p>&quot;Ernie Banks didn&#39;t invent day baseball or help build Wrigley Field. He just made the idea of playing a baseball game under the sun at the corner of Clark and Addison streets sound like a day in paradise, win or lose. ... He was a player who promoted the game like he was part of the marketing department. Not because he had to, but because he truly loved the Cubs and the game itself.&quot;</p></blockquote></div><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/01/24/379510352/chicago-cubs-legend-ernie-banks-1st-black-player-in-team-history-dies">via NPR</a></em></p></p> Sat, 24 Jan 2015 09:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-cubs-legend-ernie-banks-1st-black-player-team-history-dies-111451 E-Cigarettes can churn out high levels of formaldehyde http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/e-cigarettes-can-churn-out-high-levels-formaldehyde-111430 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/vaping_slide-259922e9c838be3bf53a7f24472dd9a2796845e2-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Vapor produced by electronic cigarettes can contain a surprisingly high concentration of formaldehyde &mdash; a known carcinogen &mdash; researchers reported Wednesday.</p><p>The findings, described in a letter <a href="http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc1413069">published</a> in the <em>New England Journal of Medicine</em>, intensify <a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/12/16/371253640/teens-now-reach-for-e-cigarettes-over-regular-ones">concern</a> about the safety of electronic cigarettes, which have become increasingly popular.</p><p>&quot;I think this is just one more piece of evidence amid a number of pieces of evidence that e-cigarettes are not absolutely safe,&quot; says <a href="http://www.pdx.edu/profile/david-peyton">David Peyton</a>, a chemistry professor at Portland State University who helped conduct the research.</p><p>The e-cigarette industry immediately dismissed the findings, saying the measurements were made under unrealistic conditions.</p><p>&quot;They clearly did not talk to [people who use e-cigarettes] to understand this,&quot; says <a href="http://vaping.com/news/greg-conley-to-lead-american-vaping-association">Gregory Conley</a> of the American Vaping Association. &quot;They think, &#39;Oh well. If we hit the button for so many seconds and that produces formaldehyde, then we have a new public health crisis to report.&#39; &quot; But that&#39;s not the right way to think about it, Conley suggests.</p><p>E-cigarettes work by heating a liquid that contains nicotine to create a vapor that users inhale. They&#39;re generally considered safer than regular cigarettes, because some research has suggested that the level of most toxicants in the vapor is much lower than the levels in smoke.</p><p>Some public health experts think vaping could prevent some people from starting to smoke traditional tobacco cigarettes, and could help some longtime smokers kick the habit.</p><p>But many health experts are also worried that so little is known about e-cigarettes that they may pose unknown risks. So Peyton and his colleagues decided to take a closer look at what&#39;s in that vapor.</p><p>&quot;We simulated vaping by drawing the vapor &mdash; the aerosol &mdash; into a syringe, sort of simulating the lungs,&quot; Peyton says. That enabled the researchers to conduct a detailed chemical analysis of the vapor. They found something unexpected when the devices were dialed up to their highest settings.</p><p>&quot;To our surprise, we found masked formaldehyde in the liquid droplet particles in the aerosol,&quot; Peyton says.</p><p>He calls it &quot;masked&quot; formaldehyde because it&#39;s in a slightly different form than regular formaldehyde &ndash; a form that could increase the likelihood it would get deposited in the lung. And the researchers didn&#39;t just find a little of the toxicant.</p><p>&quot;We found this form of formaldehyde at significantly higher concentrations than even regular cigarettes [contain] &mdash; between five[fold] and fifteenfold higher concentration of formaldehyde than in cigarettes,&quot; Peyton says.</p><p>And formaldehyde is a known carcinogen.</p><p>&quot;Long-term exposure is recognized as contributing to lung cancer,&quot; say Peyton. &quot;And so we would like to minimize contact (to the extent one can) especially to delicate tissues like the lungs.&quot;</p><p>Conley says the researchers only found formaldehyde when the e-cigarettes were cranked up to their highest voltage levels.</p><p>&quot;If you hold the button on an e-cigarette for 100 seconds, you could potentially produce 100 times more formaldehyde than you would ever get from a cigarette,&quot; Conley says. &quot;But no human vaper would ever vape at that condition, because within one second their lungs would be incredibly uncomfortable.&quot;</p><p>That&#39;s because the vapor would be so hot. Conley compares it to overcooking a steak.</p><p>&quot;I can take a steak and I can cook it on the grill for the next 18 hours, and that steak will be absolutely chock-full of carcinogens,&quot; he says. &quot;But the steak will also be charcoal, so no one will eat it.&quot;</p><p>Peyton acknowledges that he found no formaldehyde when the e-cigarettes were set at low levels. But he says he thinks plenty of people use the high settings.</p><p>&quot;As I walk around town and look at people using these electronic cigarette devices it&#39;s not difficult to tell what sort of setting they&#39;re using,&quot; Peyton says. &quot;You can see how much of the aerosol they&#39;re blowing out. It&#39;s not small amounts.&quot;</p><p>It&#39;s pretty clear to me,&quot; he says, &quot;that at least some of the users are using the high levels.&quot;</p><p>So Peyton hopes the government will tightly regulate the electronic devices. The Food and Drug Administration is in the process of deciding just how strict it should be.</p><p>&mdash; <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2015/01/21/378663944/e-cigarettes-can-churn-out-high-levels-of-formaldehyde" target="_blank">via NPR</a></em></p></p> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 16:21:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/e-cigarettes-can-churn-out-high-levels-formaldehyde-111430 Cheap gas and innovation bring optimism to Detroit Auto Show http://www.wbez.org/news/cheap-gas-and-innovation-bring-optimism-detroit-auto-show-111415 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/0116_autoshow-624x415.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Saturday marks the public opening of the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan.</p><p>Following a particularly good year for automakers and the continued drop in gas prices, the mood is optimistic for automakers like Ford, GM, Chrysler and foreign brands across the board. Innovation, both on fuel economy and in tech are also making a splash.</p><p><em>Here &amp; Now</em>&rsquo;s Jeremy Hobson spoke with NPR business reporter, <a href="http://www.npr.org/people/130330851/sonari-glinton" target="_blank">Sonari Glinton</a>, and the director of automotive relations at AutoTrader Group, <a href="http://press.autotrader.com/2014-05-27-Industry-Veteran-Analyst-Michelle-Krebs-joins-AutoTrader-com" target="_blank">Michelle Krebs</a>, about the new innovations on display at the Detroit Auto Show.</p></p> Fri, 16 Jan 2015 13:18:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cheap-gas-and-innovation-bring-optimism-detroit-auto-show-111415