07-14-2024  7:35 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather

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NORTHWEST NEWS

Wildfire Risk Rises as Western States Dry out Amid Ongoing Heat Wave Baking Most of the US

Blazes are burning in Oregon, where the governor issued an emergency authorization allowing additional firefighting resources to be deployed. More than 142 million people around the U.S. were under heat alerts Wednesday, especially across the West, where dozens of locations tied or broke heat records.

Forum Explores Dangerous Intersection of Brain Injury and Law Enforcement

The Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing hosted event with medical, legal and first-hand perspectives.

2 Men Drown in Glacier National Park Over the July 4 Holiday Weekend

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Records Shatter as Heatwave Threatens 130 million Across U.S. 

Roughly 130 million people are under threat from a long-running heat wave that already has broken records with dangerously high temperatures and is expected to shatter more inot next week from the Pacific Northwest to the Mid-Alantic states and the Northeast. Forecasters say temperatures could spike above 100 degrees in Oregon, where records could be broken in cities such as Eugene, Portland and Salem

NEWS BRIEFS

Echohawk Selected for Small Business Regulatory Fairness Board

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HUD Reaches Settlement to Ensure Equal Opportunity in the Appraisal Profession

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HUD Expands Program to Help Homeowners Repair Homes

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UFCW 555 Turns in Signatures for Initiative Petition 35 - United for Cannabis Workers Act

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Local Photographer Announces Re-Release of Her Book

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Things to know about heat deaths as a dangerously hot summer shapes up in the western US

PHOENIX (AP) — A dangerously hot summer is shaping up in the U.S. West, with heat suspected in dozens of recent deaths, including retirees in Oregon, a motorcyclist in Death Valley, California and a 10-year-old boy who collapsed while hiking with his family on a Phoenix trail. Heat...

California reports first wildfire death of the 2024 season as fires persist across the West

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Wildfires fueled by strong winds and an extended heat wave have led to the first death in California of the 2024 season, while wind-whipped flames in Arizona have forced hundreds to flee from what tribal leaders are calling the “most serious” wildfire on their reservation...

Missouri governor says new public aid plan in the works for Chiefs, Royals stadiums

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said Thursday that he expects the state to put together an aid plan by the end of the year to try to keep the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals from being lured across state lines to new stadiums in Kansas. Missouri's renewed efforts...

Kansas governor signs bills enabling effort to entice Chiefs and Royals with new stadiums

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas' governor signed legislation Friday enabling the state to lure the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and Major League Baseball's Royals away from neighboring Missouri by helping the teams pay for new stadiums. Gov. Laura Kelly's action came three days...

OPINION

Minding the Debate: What’s Happening to Our Brains During Election Season

The June 27 presidential debate is the real start of the election season, when more Americans start to pay attention. It’s when partisan rhetoric runs hot and emotions run high. It’s also a chance for us, as members of a democratic republic. How? By...

State of the Nation’s Housing 2024: The Cost of the American Dream Jumped 47 Percent Since 2020

Only 1 in 7 renters can afford homeownership, homelessness at an all-time high ...

Juneteenth is a Sacred American Holiday

Today, when our history is threatened by erasure, our communities are being dismantled by systemic disinvestment, Juneteenth can serve as a rallying cry for communal healing and collective action. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Historically Black town in Louisiana's Cancer Alley is divided over a planned grain terminal

WALLACE, La. (AP) — Sisters Jo and Dr. Joy Banner live just miles from where their ancestors were enslaved more than 200 years ago in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana. Their tidy Creole cottage cafe in the small riverfront town of Wallace lies yards from property their great-grandparents...

Pastors see a wariness among Black men to talk abortion politics as Biden works to shore up base

WASHINGTON (AP) — Phoenix pastor the Rev. Warren H. Stewart Sr. has had countless discussions this election season with fellow Black men on the economy, criminal justice, immigration and other issues dominating the political landscape in their battleground state of Arizona. But never abortion. ...

Morehouse College president says he will retire next June

ATLANTA (AP) — Morehouse College President David Thomas announced that he will retire next year, saying it is time for new leadership at the prominent all-male, historically Black school he has led since 2018. Thomas, 67, said in a statement Friday that he will retire June 30,...

ENTERTAINMENT

Book Review: 'Hey, Zoey' uses questions about AI to look at women's autonomy in a new light

Dolores is going through the motions of life when she finds a potentially marriage-ending surprise in her garage: a high-end, lifelike sex doll imbued with artificial intelligence named Zoey. There are a lot of places that author Sarah Crossan can go from here — when is it cheating?...

Book Review: 'Loving Sylvia Plath' attends to polarizing writer's circumstances more than her work

A popular form of writing nowadays is one that involves reexamining the lives of people, often members of marginalized groups, who have otherwise been flattened or short-changed by history. How has society’s assumptions or prejudices informed how a person is remembered, many authors...

Book Review: Gonzo journalist Barrett Brown’s memoir a piquant take on hacktivism’s rise

His talents in full flower and basking in public admiration, gonzo journalist and inveterate anti-establishment troublemaker Barrett Brown is jailed in his native Texas on various federal felony charges. It is 2013 and Brown’s adventures have included helping Anonymous hacktivists...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

AP PHOTOS: Shooting at Trump rally in Pennsylvania

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A few short minutes after Trump took the stage, shots rang out

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Scientists, a journalist and even a bakery worker are among those convicted of treason in Russia

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A Pakistani court acquits ex-PM Khan but supporters' hopes of his release are dashed

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What to know about the growing number of treason and espionage cases in today's Russia under Putin

Treason cases were rare in Russia 30 years ago, with only a handful brought annually. In the past decade and...

Elizabeth Landau, CNN

(CNN) -- With nearly 1 billion users, Facebook has clearly become a feature of many people's lives worldwide. A new study suggests that the social network has the potential to get hundreds of thousands of people to engage in a single behavior -- namely, voting.

Researchers report in the journal Nature that one Facebook message may have gotten 340,000 additional people to the polls for the 2010 United States Congressional elections.

The team, led by James Fowler, professor at the University of California, San Diego, designed the experiment with the cooperation of Facebook. Cameron Marlow of the data science division of Facebook collaborated on the study, too.

"This really, I think, is the first study to show that online social networks can affect these real-world behaviors at a scale that's potentially important," Fowler said at a news briefing Tuesday.

Fowler and Harvard's Dr. Nicholas Christakis are prominent in social network research; their book "Connected" gathers copious research on how a myriad of behaviors spread from person to person. For instance, you may be happy as a result of your friend's happiness and your friend's friend's happiness. Bad habits such as smoking can also spread in this way.

"The network is key," Fowler said. "If we want to make the world a better place on a massive scale, we should focus not just on changing a person's behavior, but also on utilizing the network to influence that person's friends," he said.

This study's scope was huge: more than 60 million people received a statement on the top of their News Feed that encouraged them to vote and offered a link for finding polling locations. The item also displayed a clickable "I Voted" button, a counter showing how many other Facebook users also said they voted, and the profile pictures of up to six randomly-selected Facebook friends who had also clicked "I Voted."

There were two other groups: about 600,000 people saw all of the above with out the pictures of Facebook friends, and an additional 600,000-some didn't receive the message in their News Feeds at all. All participants were randomly assigned.

People who got messages were more likely to vote than those who did not, the researchers found -- in fact, the percentage difference between the groups in the experiment suggests that an additional 60,000 people were motivated to vote as a result of the message.

Seeing the photos of Facebook friends as part of the message appears to be critical in getting people to vote, the researchers found. Users who got the message without photos were no more likely to vote than people who didn't get any message. But those who got the message with pictures had higher voting rates.

"The messages not only influenced the users who received them, but the user's friends, and their friends of friends as well," Fowler said.

Moreover, the friends of the people who saw the messages were also more likely to vote than friends of participants who didn't see the messages, Fowler said. Multiplying this effect per friend by the number of friends by the number of people who saw the message, researchers determined that 280,000 additional votes were cast. All of these resulted from ties in the social network, not the message itself, Fowler said.

Close friends -- with whom Facebook users likely have a face-to-face relationship -- were extremely influential in this contagion of voting, the researchers found.

How do we know that these 340,000 people wouldn't have voted anyway?

Fowler compares this to a drug trial, in which some people get randomly assigned a medical treatment or a sugar pill. If the people in the treatment group tend to show more positive effects than the control group, that means the drug may cause a positive effect.

Researchers didn't just rely on the self-reported information on Facebook about who voted, they also used publicly available voting records. It appears that 4% of people who said they voted on Facebook did not actually vote.

The effect of the message appears to be nonpartisan: As many Democrats as Republicans seem to have gone to the polls as a result of the message, Fowler said, although many people do not state their affiliations on their Facebook profiles.

There are still unanswered questions about the implications of this research, however. It's not clear whether age is a factor in who voted. Researchers have yet to explore other characteristics of people who are most influenced by Facebook messages.

All in all, between the direct and indirect effects found in the study, the total percentage increase per person in voting behavior as a result of a Facebook News Feed message is about 2.2%. That's on the lower end of the spectrum compared to what other "get out the vote" studies have found with regards to other means of communication.

But the real effect could be even greater than what the study observed, Fowler said. A lot of people who saw the message had probably already voted, through early voting and absentee ballots -- in fact, one-third of voters in the 2010 election cast their votes before Election Day.

Many people who saw the message were also unable to vote because they logged into Facebook too late in the day to go to their local polling station - as high as 20% may have been in this situation, Fowler said. Also, younger people are less likely to vote, and are less susceptible to such appeals, he said.

"I think if you added all of these things up, we'd find that this was actually one of the stronger 'get out the vote' messages that we've seen in the literature," he said.