News Briefs – Dec. 14, 2010

By Stephanie Martin
Sun Star Intern

‘Particle’-ly unhealthy

Wednesday, Dec. 8, officials advised Fairbanks and North Pole residents to avoid “prolonged exertion” due to elevated pollution levels caused by a temperature inversion.

Normally the air is cooler the higher the altitude. Temperature inversions occur when this system is inverted, or temperatures are warmer higher up than at ground level.

Surface inversions normally form when air near the ground cools at night. As a poor conductor of heat, air just above the surface remains warm. “Conditions that favor the development of a strong surface inversion are calm winds, clear skies, and long nights,” the National Weather Service website says.

Temperature inversions create unhealthy air quality because they trap particles near the surface of the earth.  People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children are most susceptible to harm from unhealthy air quality. Pollution is more concentrated in areas where people burn wood or coal for heat and where vehicles idle. Pollution from burning wood is the largest contributor to particle pollution.

Stellar cuisine

Beginning Jan. 1, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is restricting commercial mackerel and cod fisheries in the Aleutian Islands to ensure that Stellar sea lions have enough to eat.

The federal agency made the announcement before the North Pacific Fisheries Management council on Dec. 8.

NOAA hopes the decision will provide more food for the western Stellar sea lions, whose population has experienced a 45 percent decline between 2000 and 2008, NOAA says. The measures apply only to the western population, which are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

Some support the move, while those who live in Aleutian communities do not believe enough research has been done to determine what is affecting the population.

A KTUU article says both senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski are disappointed with the NOAA’s decision because they believe the restrictions will cost Alaska jobs and exports without clear indication that it will benefit the environment.

Denali Mountain Boys play the Pub

The Denali Mountain Boys performed Thursday, Dec. 9 at the Pub with all the tables filled. The Denali Mountain Boys have an eclectic sound that includes genres such as bluegrass, rock and roll, rockabilly and jazz.

The Denali Mountain Boys performed some covers, but also write their own songs. One such song played Thursday night was “I Fished Every Where Man.” The song is the band’s own version of Johnny Cash’s, “I’ve Been Every Where Man.”

While on stage, one member told the audience about playing with Johnny Cash the two times Cash came to Alaska.

The Denali Mountain Boys are regular-looking guys who hope to one day record an album. The arrangement of the band varies because they sometimes trade instruments.

The band normally plays every Sunday beginning at 11 a.m. at the Chatanika Gold Camp.

Freethinkers are out of the club

The club council is allocated a $10,000 budget to divide between clubs at the university, and a discussion of how this funding occurs took place on the list-serv last week.

The process to receive funding begins with members of the various clubs voting to select a finance committee, ASUAF Sen. Lauren Wiley said. The Vice President and club council created three requirements in order to be eligible for funding, which stand each year: be a registered club on campus, attend all four club council meetings and turn in proposals. The finance committee makes their recommendation on funding and then club council as a whole votes, with ASUAF the last to approve funding.

The Freethinkers Club missed a meeting and is now ineligible for funding. A member of the club, Justin Heinz, takes issue with the process because of “the atmosphere it creates between the student council administration and the student clubs themselves. It appears to be, as someone said, the us vs. them mentality.”

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