Collaboration in Civic Spheres

HHS Report: Eight New Substances Listed as Carcinogens

by June 20th, 2011

SUMMARY: Newly revised findings from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) suggest that two new substances, formaldehyde and a botanical known as aristolochic acid, are cancer-causing human carcinogens. The findings, released in the 12th Report on Carcinogens (ROC) on June 10, also determined that six other revised substances are now “reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens.” These chemicals and substances are found in everything from hair care and beauty products to household cleaners and fungicides.

HHS report: Half the antipsychotic drug claims paid by Medicare for elderly nursing home residents unwarranted

by June 16th, 2011

SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General recently released a report revealing that some senior patients in nursing homes are being overmedicated with atypical, or tranquilizing, antipsychotic drugs administered outside the approved Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommendations. The investigation also reveals the Medicare costs of antipsychotic drugs administered to elderly nursing home residents; the cost of these erroneous prescriptions totaled $116 million over a six-month period.

Summer internships available at Public Data Ferret

by June 15th, 2011

The online news and knowledge base site Public Data Ferret is offering three 2011 summer internship suitable for college undergraduate or graduate students who reside in Washington state and are majoring in any of the following subjects: digital media, journalism, political science, public affairs, or communications. If online government transparency is important to you, and you’d like to further develop your online portfolio of news work, using the written word, video or graphics, we’d welcome your letter (e-mail) of interest and work samples.

The internships are: news-writing; video storytelling; and data visualization.

GAO: U.S. government’s cache of depleted uranium could fetch up to $4.2 billion in net profit

by June 14th, 2011

SUMMARY: In testimony yesterday to a U.S. House subcommittee, the Government Accountability Office said the Department of Energy is sitting on assets currently worth $4.2 billion in the form of depleted uranium “tails” that could be sold to nuclear power utilities. GAO urges DOE to refine and implement its own December 2008 plan – in which DOE pledged to begin selling by 2009 the depleted uranium, either as is or after re-enrichment. Federal legislation would have to be amended to allow sales of the tails as is. Re-enrichment capacity is uncertain. Market price volatility is a concern: GAO states that the longer it takes for DOE to bring the assets to market, the greater the risk their value could diminish below current levels.

State: nurse at Auburn facility took patients’ opiates, worked under the influence

by June 10th, 2011

SUMMARY: The Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission of the Washington state Department of Health has charged registered nurse Deborah M. Asrari with unprofessional conduct for allegedly appropriating the prescription opiate hydomorphone for her unauthorized use while on duty at Auburn Regional Medical Center, and allegedly practicing nursing while affected by that drug. In several instances, the state alleges, the drugs were intended for patients under her care. Asrari declined to respond the commission within the required 20 days and state officials say the next step is a hearing within five months, after which disciplinary actions may be taken.

FCC: philanthropy, non-profits, transparency key to fill local news gaps

by June 9th, 2011

SUMMARY: A new report from the Federal Communications Commission warns of an overall national deficit in professional local news reporting focused on government accountability. In response, the report recommends a number of strategies. These include philanthropy by individuals and foundations – especially place-based civic foundations – which accents the importance of strong news ecosystems and healthy news nonprofits to healthy communities; plus more robust and systematic online transparency by local and state governments; and possible changes or clarifications to the U.S. tax code to encourage the financial sustainability of non-profit media.

Volunteers wanted for Stevens Pass clean-up, Mt. Baker trails

by June 9th, 2011

Stevens Pass Clean-up
On July 12 from 9:30 am to 2 pm join dozens of volunteers from Seattle Parks and Recreation, First Nations Snowboard Team, Washington State University 4-H, and the other organizations to clean trash off the ski slopes at Stevens Pass. A barbeque lunch will follow.The event is organized by the National Forest Foundation. More information and a waiver form to be completed and brought to the event are here. Reserve your spot with Stella Torres, 425-783-6096, storres@national forests.org. Stevens Pass is 78 miles east of Seattle on beautiful State Route 2. Take I-405 north to exit 23 (Highway 522) and exit at SR 2 in Monroe, turning left/east off the exit ramp. Follow Route 2 for 50 miles to the Stevens Pass ski area and park in lot A.

Mount Baker Steward Volunteer Opportunities
Another outdoor volunteer opportunity this summer is to teach wilderness ethics, natural history and safety, as a mountain steward working on the Mount Baker trail system in the U.S. forest Service’s Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. You need to be 18 or older with experience in hiking and outdoor recreation; able to attend training July 16 and 23; and to volunteer a total of three weekend days between July 23 and September 11. Complete the application and return by June 24 to brichey@fs.fed.us, or fax to 360-856-1934. More information: 360-854-2615.

Nooksack River Salmon Talks and Walks
Saturday evenings at 6 pm from July 9 to September 3, the Nooksack River Stewards will present a “Wild About Salmon” campfire talk on salmon and stream ecology, at the Douglas Fir Campground picnic shelter, including snacks of smoked salmon, cream cheese and crackers. The campground is 2.5 miles east of Glacier, Wash. on State Route 542, on the west side of the road just after crossing the North Fork of the Nooksack River near mile post 35.

Sundays at 9 am from July 10 to September 4 the stewards will lead “Noisy Waters: A Nooksack River Walk” on the Horsehoe Bend Trail, on the east side of Highway 542 directly across from the Douglas Fir Campground entrance.

RELATED: Mount Baker- Snoqualmie National Forest.

Stevens Pass stewards, July, 2010/U.S. Forest Service

U.S. to spend $375 million for more Russian copters in Afghanistan

by June 6th, 2011

SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Defense has announced a $375 million contract with a Russian state export firm to purchase 21 new Russian-made Mi-17 military transport helicopters for the Afghan air force, plus spare parts and engineering services. A non-competitive bidding process was used, and upheld by U.S. regulators over protests from a U.S. manufacturer.