Home News Roundup News Roundup: February 21, 2014

News Roundup: February 21, 2014

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Local Issues

Alaska got a new wind chill record on Sunday, measuring -97 degrees when temperatures hit -42 with 71mph winds in uninhabited Howard Pass. [Daily News-Miner]

A former school nurse from Soldotna pled guilty to tampering with public records after police discovered she had destroyed a student’s vaccination record and forged signatures on a religious exemption request. The nurse’s attorney said she did so because the student’s parents failed to submit paperwork on time. [ADN]

A Slope worker at the Anchorage airport was caught trying to take an improvised explosive device on a charter flight to Deadhorse. ATF officials found four similar devices at his home, which he claims were built for avalanche control. A decision whether to pursue criminal charges is pending. [ADN]

A recent Gallup poll indicates that Alaskans are happier with their standard of living than anyone else in the country. At the bottom of the pack was West Virginia, which may have something to do with the fact that its drinking water is full of toxic chemicals. [Time, CNN]

LGBTQ News

Alaska’s Attorney General said he intends to continue defending the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, and is not swayed by the growing number of federal district court rulings invalidating such bans in other states. He has also signed the state on to friend-of-the-court briefs supporting similar policies in other states, disparaging same-sex partnerships as having a “mere objective of self-validation.” [ADN]

In a similar vein, the state Republican Party is showing itself to be increasingly hostile to LGBTQ Alaskans. [Alaska Commons]

The Arizona legislature has passed a bill that would allow businesses to legally discriminate against LGBT people and other groups, as long as such discrimination is based on religious grounds. The bill now goes to Republican Gov. Jan Brewer. Similar proposals are pending in Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee and Oklahoma, and have stalled in Idaho, Ohio, and Kansas. [New York Times]

On the bright side, the Washington State House passed a bill that would ban the use of “conversion therapy” to try and change the sexual orientation of minors last week. If the bill becomes law, Washington would become the third state to ban such practices, which have been roundly denounced by the medical community. [Seattlish]

Late-breaking addition: A federal judge in Illinois ordered the clerk’s office in Cook County (which includes Chicago) to immediately begin issuing marriage licenses, saying there is no legitimate reason to wait for the state’s law to go into effect in June.

Politics and Policy

Americans for Prosperity, a political organization funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, pulled over $100,000 in advertising attacking Mark Begich and the Affordable Care Act after Koch Industries decided to close its refinery in Nome earlier this month. [Alaska Dispatch]

Conservative groups are furious that Senator Begich voted to ease federal gun restrictions. Really. [Alaska Commons]

New York is launching a new program to offer college courses in 10 state prisons, in an effort to reduce recidivism rates and the size of the prison population. [Wall Street Journal]

The Alaska Federation of Natives and other Native groups are organizing to secure protections for Alaska Natives and Native Americans in a proposed amendment to the Voting Rights Act that would counteract the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of a central piece of the law. [Alaska Public Media]

Outsiders

A brilliant Girl Scout has set up her cookie sales outside a medical marijuana clinic in San Francisco. [Mashable]

A woman opened fire at a tribal office in northeastern California, where members were discussing possible evictions from the community’s small settlement. Four people were killed, and two others were airlifted in critical condition. [UPI]

A public official in Tennessee responded to a complaint alleging that the local fire department refused to perform CPR on a woman because she was black by telling a ‘disturbingly detailed’ story of the lynching of a black man 120 years ago. He is no longer a public official. [Jezebel]

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia issued yet another controversial ruling last weekend, telling the Chicago Sun-Times that Chicago-style deep dish pizza is “very tasty, but it’s not pizza.” [POLITICO]

International Issues

At least 75 people have been killed and hundreds have been injured in Ukraine since Tuesday amidst increasingly violent clashes between protesters and riot police. [BBC]

Protests are also raging in Venezuela, where the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro has been blamed for “violent crime, high inflation, product shortages and alleged repression of opponents.” [Reuters]

On a lighter note, There are over 2,000 stray puppies in the area around the Olympics in Sochi, and a number of US athletes are seeking to bring some home with them after the Games are over. [Wall Street Journal]