As the State Turns

stateturnssymbolNo Country for Orangutans?
Last week, medical records were released that suggest the January death of a 20-year-old Sumatran orangutan named Kutai was the result of “human error” during a minor surgery at the Oregon Zoo. The long and short of it is that those involved in said surgery failed to upkeep a re-breathing bag that was part of the general anesthesia application. The bag eventually filled with expelled air, which may have stopped Kutai from being able to breathe. Other factors are listed in the records as possibly contributing to the death, including pre-existing conditions.

Current valves on the bags apparently do not automatically pop off when they become dangerously full, and the report says that they will be switching to those with valves that do just that in the future. The report also found that “standard operating procedures and best practices were not followed,” “lapses in procedures and protocols were tolerated,” and included some language suggesting that the accuracy of the initial reports left out key information regarding animal care.

Kutai is the second Sumatran orangutan to die at the zoo in four years, also following injury and illness. Kutai picked his nose at me once during a visit… he will be missed.

Bad News for Conspiracy Theorists
Kelp… we all love it. Makes for great impromptu whips on the beach, and menacingly touches your feet when swimming offshore and scares you half to death because you think it’s a shark. Or maybe that’s just me. Either way, kelp has another cool use now: providing evidence that radiation from Fukushima’s infamous nuclear power plant is, indeed, sparing our shorelines from 1,000 years of darkness. Samples collected between the end of February and middle of March show no evidence of radiation whatsoever.

The sampling project will continue at intervals for some time still, monitoring the coast in case anything changes. The radiation plume of doom arrived on shores this spring, but scientists say it has only done so at extremely low levels that cannot harm humans.

However, this doesn’t mean you should drink the seawater. No matter how much Art Robinson says small doses of radiation are good for you.

Sea Star Plague Visits Oregon
The disease that has caused very high numbers of sea star deaths in Puget Sound has now spread to the Oregon Coast. A survey last week conducted by the Oregon Coast Aquarium discovered the ugly truth after finding nearly 50 dead and dying sea stars in a 60 square meter area of Yaquina Bay. The disease is ruthless on a good day, causing lesions to form and arms to break off and dissolve before the star finally dies. Whether it is a virus or bacteria is currently unknown. Additional surveys are planned that will hopefully lead to answers. And for you conspiracy holdouts: no, this is not radiation.

Merry Slavemas, Every One
The United States Department of Labor (USDL) has lobbed a law suit at Bottomley Evergreens of Gresham for violations of fair labor practices. Over 400 employees who were tasked with making holiday wreaths were being paid per wreath, but were denied training pay, overtime, or even minimum wage. The 439 names listed on a suit exhibit are primarily Hispanic.

It’s a good thing Santa isn’t real, because I bet he’d have half a mind to fly his sleigh down to Gresham and regulate their asses.

Floaty Wind Farms
A proposed floating wind farm off the coast of Coos Bay just bagged $47 million in matching grant funds from the U.S. Department of Energy. Seattle-based Principle Power, the company behind the proposed Windfloat Pacific project, plans on placing the structure about 20 miles offshore in nearly 1,500 feet of water—each of five separate units carrying a six-megawatt turbine. If the project surges ahead to final approval, it’ll be the first of its kind in the nation to use floating structures in the outer continental shelf, as well as the first wind project on the West Coast.

OPB: Oregonians Don’t Know How Government Works
A recent OPB poll of 400 registered Oregon voters has shown that Oregonians are… pretty, well, ignorant. When asked what kind of tax pays for state services, only 36 percent of people answered correctly. A whopping 33 percent of them claimed it was property tax. Worse yet, only about 50 percent knew how many U.S. senators the state has, which is… wow. Hold on while I hang my head in shame for a minute.

The results seem to place Oregon in the middle of the pack nationally as far as these topics go, however this is one hell of a scary average. Widespread ignorance of this topic results in the embracing of emotion, rather than knowledge and logic, when it comes time to head to the polls. On the bright side, when a political figure does or says something so offensively stupid that you question reality itself—don’t worry, reality isn’t broken… it’s just that the people voting are horrendously uninformed.