Monday, August 22, 2016

Spokane Arts director Laura Becker to leave the citywide arts nonprofit this fall

Posted By on Mon, Aug 22, 2016 at 2:09 PM

Outgoing Spokane Arts director Laura Becker, in a photo illustration from the Inlander's 2015 Fall Arts issue. - KRISTEN BLACK / CHRIS BOVEY
  • Kristen Black / Chris Bovey
  • Outgoing Spokane Arts director Laura Becker, in a photo illustration from the Inlander's 2015 Fall Arts issue.

After a little more than a year and a half at the helm of the city's nonprofit arts fund/commission, Spokane Arts executive director Laura Becker is leaving her role there later this fall.

In a recent email letter to the organization's supporters, the Spokane native expressed sincere appreciation for the opportunity to lead the organization since the start of 2015, and being able to contribute to the growth of the local arts community, which has been building positive momentum for several years now.

Becker has accepted a position as cultural affairs supervisor for the City of Santa Monica, California. In her resignation announcement, she writes:
There were several factors informing my decision to move on. First, my partner is wrapping up his time here in Spokane and is moving back to his home state of California. This is a move that I have delayed for as long as possible but ultimately, I needed to consider this relocation a reality for us. In addition, I have been offered and have accepted an incredible opportunity to serve as the Cultural Affairs Supervisor to the City of Santa Monica’s public art program, a role for which my background and experience make me an ideal candidate.

Looking forward, I must prioritize my family and manage my professional life with greater balance – this position and a move closer to my family are a clear path for me. I have great love for Spokane and am honored to have led this organization for as long as I have and with so many accomplishments to account. I am immensely hopeful that Spokane Arts will attract an extremely qualified and passionate leader who can continue the work that we have all contributed to this organization’s young life. Given this decision, I have heavily considered plans for a sound and harmonious organizational transition. 
Becker was hired in fall 2014 to take on the role as Spokane Arts' executive director after the departure of its first leader, Shannon Halberstadt, who left after just a year to relocate back to Seattle with her husband. Becker brought years of experience to her role with Spokane Arts, having worked in administrative positions for several Seattle arts groups since 2001.

During her tenure at Spokane Arts, Becker helped bring in thousands of dollars of grant funds, assisted with the implementation of numerous public art projects like the downtown Mobile Murals project and the traffic signal-box art, and continued to grow October's Spokane Arts Month, along with many other initiatives. 

Until a new director is hired, starting on Sept. 23 Spokane Arts will be led by interim director Ellen Picken, who currently serves as its program manager. Karen Mobley's duties as public art program contractor will also expand, along with those of other staff members.

A search committee for Becker's replacement has been formed, and the job posting for Spokane Arts next executive director is posted online.
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Spokane deputy's post about Black Lives Matter sparks debate among local law enforcement

Posted By on Mon, Aug 22, 2016 at 1:09 PM

A Spokane County sheriff's detective's Facebook page is dotted with memes, videos and links to articles that trash the Black Lives Matter movement, espouse an "us vs. them" attitude and at times diminish the role of race in police interactions.

Damon Simmons, an African American detective for the Spokane County Sheriff's Office and a former officer in Great Falls, Montana, recently shared a meme on his public Facebook page from the Operation Officer Down — A program of the NAIDW page. Over an aerial photo of the recent flood in Louisiana are the words:


This post — and others on Simmons' page — offer a peek into conversations about Black Lives Matter and community and police relations among some local law enforcement, both active and retired.

Under the Louisiana flood meme, NAACP Spokane President Phil Tyler (who was a lieutenant in the Sheriff's Office as a corrections officer) commented that Simmons' post was "distasteful," and that "professionals should be more professional."


The meme pits the police against Black Lives Matter and the Black Panthers over a tragic natural disaster that has nothing to do with police shootings of black people. However, Simmons says the post is meant to express his frustration that the Black Lives Matter movement is only concerned about black lives when they're taken by police officers. When African Americans are victims of intraracial violence or, say, the victims of a natural disaster, Black Lives Matter protesters are silent, Simmons argues.

"If we're going to say black lives matter, well, we're all one race," Simmons tells the Inlander. "All lives should matter. There needs to be a wake-up call there."

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Wildfires rip through region, woman survives shooting and other morning headlines

Posted By on Mon, Aug 22, 2016 at 9:12 AM

Wildfires are surrounding Spokane
  • Wildfires are surrounding Spokane


THIS WEEK: Tons of tunes, Gathering at the Falls PowWow, Jim Jefferies and more
MUSIC: The Spokane Symphony's new season features Harry Potter, a scary silent film and romantic Rachmaninoff
NEWS: Why Raise Up Washington believes it's worth ditching the exemptions from Spokane's sick leave policy
NEWS: People keep stealing the giant toy eggs from Spokane Valley's Discovery Playground


Wildfires in Spokane 
Three fires surrounding Spokane burned more than 13,000 acres, destroyed homes and forced evacuations yesterday and continue today. (Spokesman-Review)
  • Firefighters say the Hart Road Fire near the town of Wellpinit, northeast of Spokane, erupted overnight and has grown to 10,000 acres, prompting level 3 evacuations in the town. (KHQ)
  • As of last night, the Yale Road Fire near Spangle, south of Spokane, tore through multiple homes Sunday and grew to 2,500 acres in size. Both that fire and the smaller fire near Beacon Hill in northeast Spokane are now being referred to collectively as the Spokane Complex Fire. (KXLY)
Woman shot in the head
A woman was shot in the head at a Spokane motel on Sunday night but is expected to survive, according to police. The suspect is at-large. (Spokesman-Review)

Cyclist injured in Idaho
A 65-year-old cyclist was seriously injured when hit by a car in Kootenai County on Sunday afternoon. (KHQ)

End of Olympics
The Rio Olympics are over, and Team USA, by far, took home the most medals. But that was expected, and these games may actually come to be defined by the lies of Ryan Lochte, the swimmer who can't even endorse Speedo anymore. (Washington Post)
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Sunday, August 21, 2016

THIS WEEK: Tons of tunes, Gathering at the Falls PowWow, Jim Jefferies and more

Posted By on Sun, Aug 21, 2016 at 1:00 PM

Hometown boy Ryan Lewis (left) and Macklemore play a sold-out gig at the Bing on Tuesday.
  • Hometown boy Ryan Lewis (left) and Macklemore play a sold-out gig at the Bing on Tuesday.

Barreling toward September we are, so you better take advantage of all that August has to offer while you still can. I'd recommend using our massive event listings and Staff Picks for guidance. 

Here are some highlights of the week ahead: 

Monday, Aug. 22

LIVE BANDS | The Steve Miller Band entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year with a splash, or maybe a volcano, courtesy of the classic-rock dude's rant that the Hall doesn't treat artists well. Who know the man behind smooth hits like "The Joker" had it in him? He'll headline a show at Northern Quest Resort & Casino that includes Foghat opening. 

Tuesday, Aug. 23

COMMUNITY | It's Community Shred Day at the Spokane Arena, so bring in your personal papers and financial flotsam and get rid of it for a mere $5 donation to Project Hope. 

LIVE BANDS | It's a huge night for live music in the ol' town on Tuesday. At the Bing, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are headlining a show that sold out in mere minutes, so if you don't have a ticket, good luck with that. 

At the Knitting Factory, you have the opportunity to dance up a storm with the mighty fine Fitz and the Tantrums, joined by Phases for a show full of soulful sounds and bombastic performers on stage. Here's a taste of the band's style: 

And at Chateau Rive, it's an awesome lineup for the Roots on the Rails show, a tour traveling by train that includes roots-rock and folk legend Dave Alvin along with the incomparable Eliza Gilkyson, Cindy Cashdollar, Christy McWilson and more. 

Wednesday, Aug. 24

FOOD & DRINK | The bounty of summer is soon to be a memory, so you might want to brush up on (or learn for the first time) your preserving skills. Head to the Medical Lake Library for a free session on Preserving Food in Jars

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Friday, August 19, 2016

THIS WEEKEND IN MUSIC: Rage-Apalooza, Fruit Bats, Wimps and Steam Plant Block Party

Posted By on Fri, Aug 19, 2016 at 3:24 PM

The Hoot Hoots headline Saturday's Steam Plant Block Party.
  • The Hoot Hoots headline Saturday's Steam Plant Block Party.

It's another weekend full of tough musical choices. Too bad it's impossible to be in multiple places at once. 

The thing about bands that say they are breaking up is that they normally are telling the truth, or at least the truth in that moment. Back in 2013, the Fruit Bats played their "final show" as a band in Portland. Yet last year, lead singer/songwriter Eric D. Johnson announced he was back at it. Absolute Loser is the act's first album in five years and you can hear much of those sweet, sorrowful tunes at tonight's Spokane show at the Bartlett. The show starts at 8 pm and is $17 at the door.

Tonight, the first-ever Rage-Apalooza (a combination of the All Age Rage and Octapalooza music festivals) continues at the Viking, and the lineup playing the two outdoor stages includes all local acts. Get a load of this list of bands: Invasive, Soblivios, Seven Cycles, Concrete Grip, Cold Blooded, Hexxus, Children Of the Sun, Thunder Knife, Project-X and Catalyst.

The show is $15 at the door for a single-day ticket. Be sure to check out the lineups for Saturday and Sunday as well as read the Inlander's full event preview right here. We're most looking forward to Portland's own metal act Red Fang closing out the festival Sunday evening. 

Wimps are back! While the Seattle trio did play Sasquatch! this year, they haven't been in Spokane since last August. This time, the punk rockers will take on the Observatory with the help of local artists Peru Resh and S1ugs. Cost is $7 at the door and you should probably arrive around 9 pm. Check out the band's new album below. 

For those on the hunt for yet another cool festival/block party, look no further than the all-ages Steam Plant Block Party. Held in the parking lot between the Steam Plant and Baby Bar, the lineup kicks off with DJs Ca$e and Pauliday at 2 pm and ends with Seattle’s own wild indie rockers the Hoot Hoots. In between? Local acts including Flying Spiders, Von the Baptist, Summer in Siberia and Lavoy. On top of the music expect a handful of vendors, food trucks, a T-shirt screen-print booth, even a dome to hang out in. The party doesn’t end there, moving inside Baby Bar after 10 pm for even more sweet tunes. See the full lineup right here. Tickets are $10. 
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People keep stealing the giant toy eggs from Spokane Valley's Discovery Playground

Posted By on Fri, Aug 19, 2016 at 2:08 PM

People think it's fun to take these eggs from their home. - CITY OF SPOKANE VALLEY
  • City of Spokane Valley
  • People think it's fun to take these eggs from their home.
A giant, fiberglass egg that children play on has disappeared from Discovery Playground in Spokane Valley.

This is the third time at least one of the eggs has been stolen since the playground opened in 2010, and park officials are getting frustrated. 

"It's very frustrating and it's disheartening, because every time they are taken it creates a real void. This is one of the areas people like to play on and use," says Mike Stone, Spokane Valley Parks and Recreation Director. 

In 2010, two eggs were taken but then spotted by a citizen and returned. Then, a month ago, all three eggs were stolen by a group of minors before one of the kids posted a picture of a giant egg on Instagram. In that case, the city got a hold of the parents, and the eggs were returned, Stone says. 

This time, only one egg was taken — the one that wasn't made to look broken, Stone says. It was discovered to be missing Thursday morning. As of Friday, there are no leads as to who took the two-foot-high, cream-colored egg.

A police report has been filed, but Stone is hoping someone from the community will once again identify the egg-thieves so it can be returned to the Eagles' Nest play area. The eggs are typically bolted to the ground and anchored in concrete, so Stone suspects it had to be a group of people who lifted it up and carried it away.

The three eggs cost about $9,000 total
when the playground was built, Stone says. 

This has been a rough year for vandalism in Spokane Valley parks, according to Stone. People have been setting fires in public restrooms, carving and damaging picnic tables and using graffiti. And now, another egg theft. 

"It's been a very tough year," Stone says. "I've been in this business long enough, you go through periods of depression, frustrations, trying to figure out what the motivation is and why these things are happening ... we're not happy." 

Anyone with information should call the Spokane Valley Parks and Recreation Department at 509-688-0300 or email [email protected] 
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Why Raise Up Washington believes it's worth ditching the exemptions from Spokane's sick leave policy

Posted By on Fri, Aug 19, 2016 at 1:09 PM

April Sims, signature drive director for Raise Up Washington, Olympia helped the group turn in more than 340,000 signatures to qualify I-1433 for the ballot in July - PHOTO COURTESY OF RAISE UP WASHINGTON
  • Photo courtesy of Raise Up Washington
  • April Sims, signature drive director for Raise Up Washington, Olympia helped the group turn in more than 340,000 signatures to qualify I-1433 for the ballot in July

This week we have a story on the fact that, if Raise Up Washington's Initiative 1433 passes, Spokane would not only see its minimum wage go up, it would see its controversial sick-leave policy expanded from three or five days to seven days, with the exemptions and exceptions to the law eliminated.

The exemptions were championed by council members like Karen Stratton, though not without opposition. 

“I’m arguing you to, this is still watering it down,” then-Councilmember Jon Snyder had said in January, punctuating his words by pounding the council dais. “We’re making it complicated. We’re adding exemptions.”

This week we chatted with Carlo Caldirola-Davis, campaign manager for Raise Up WA, and Jack Sorensen, the initiative's communication director, about each of the Spokane sick-leave policy's major exemptions, and why the Initiative 1433 doesn't include them.

"Our coalition recognized that every worker in Washington should have access to earned paid sick leave, full stop," says Caldirola-Davis.

So was it a mistake for Spokane to pass its more modest sick leave policy less than a year before the voters voted on the state ballot initiative? 

"That is not for us to expound upon. You’d have to ask someone local that question," Caldirola-Davis says. "I think it’s important to recognize that the important work that happened in Spokane and Seattle and other cities was a precursor to 1433. Everything that has moved the ball on paid sick leave has been a positive step toward 1433."

1. The exemption: 
Small businesses with under 10 employees only have to allow employees to use up to three days of sick leave a year, while businesses with 10 or more employees have to allow workers to use up to five days of sick leave a year. Seattle also has different standards for smaller businesses that would be impacted by the initiative. 

Why the Spokane City Council included the exemption: Stratton says she was very concerned about the impact of the initiative on small businesses. 

"I think there’s a lot of fear for smaller businesses, the mom-and-pop businesses that have a niche or doing what they want to do and they’re making ends meet," Stratton says. "That’s going to pose a big challenge." 

She thinks about the great small-town restaurant in Springdale, the town one of her parents came from, and how they would cope with bigger regulations.

"You worry, how are they going to make it?" Stratton wonders. 

Why Raise Up thinks we should ditch it: Sorensen argues that public health concerns don't simply disappear when you have fewer than 10 employees. 

"Let’s say I am a restaurant owner and I have eight employees. It is still vitally important to the workers and the community to [provide enough paid sick leave]," Sorensen says. "Seventy percent of all norovirus outbreaks start with food handlers." 

City Council President Ben Stuckart says he was fine with losing the exemption, calling the 10 employee cutoff "arbitrary." 

2.  The exemption: 
Spokane's sick leave policy wouldn't apply to the people working the building trades, like construction workers. 

Why the Spokane City Council included the exemption: Stuckart says he spent a lot of time listening to stakeholders and people at public forums expressing concerns with the policies. One clear message he came away with was the unique aspects of the construction industry. Construction workers are often very migratory, moving from one job site to another and frequently switching employers. This can turn tracking sick leave information into a regulatory nightmare.

"It’s virtually impossible for them to track [sick leave information] when it’s migratory like that," Stuckart says. "I thought that was a good exemption, I’d talked to a lot of people in the construction industry since then, and everybody seemed to get that." 

Why Raise Up thinks we should ditch it: 
"I hear that point," Caldirola-Davis says. "Our rebuttal would simply be that construction workers needs to earn paid sick leave just like every other worker in Washington."

The Raise Up Washington team points out that sick leave can't be taken until 90 days on the job, and that it's earned with time. In fact, under the Raise Up Washington sick leave policy workers would actually earn sick leave a little more slowly than under Spokane's policy. Spokane's policy allowed workers to earn an hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, while workers under the Raise Up policy wouldn't earn an hour of sick leave until they work 40 hours.

3. The exemption: 
Spokane's sick leave policy wouldn't apply to startups during their first year of business. 

Why the Spokane City Council included the exemption: "I’ve heard from startups. It’s the hardest for the first year," Stratton said when introducing the amendment to the City Council last year.  To help startups survive without having to navigate the regulatory hurdle of a sick leave policy, Stratton thought a one-year delay would be reasonable. 

Why Raise Up thinks we should ditch it: They argue the issue should be looked at from the worker's perspective. 

"I think fundamentally, whether you're a worker at a startup or a worker at Boeing, if you’re sick or you have a child that’s sick, you need to stay home from work and be with the child," Caldirola-Davis says. "No worker should have to choose between going to work sick or missing a paycheck."

They also argue that sick leave mandates have been put in place in nearly two-dozen other cities, including San Francisco and Seattle, and say that studies have not shown major negative impacts on employers or employees.

They point to left-leaning business groups like the Greater Seattle Business Association and the Main Street Alliance, who have supported the policy. 

"If you ask small business owners, they’ll tell you that high turnover can be a huge cost of running a business," Sorensen says. And he believes this initiative, with its minimum wage hike and mandatory sick-leave policy, will actually help employers by reducing turnover and saving on training costs.

However, the decision to not include exemptions to the policy has given the opposition an argument to use against it. Here's a statement from Don Skillman, spokesman for Northwest Initiatives, the campaign opposing 1433.

“I-1433 is a blunt force instrument that fails to accommodate seasonal industries, like construction, that can't afford this new mandate. It's a one-size-fits-all proposal designed for downtown Seattle that the rest of the state can't afford to absorb.

At least the City of Spokane's ordinance recognizes the need to exempt certain industries and puts an annual cap on the amount of leave that can be accrued and used. Initiative 1433 is poorly crafted and should be rejected so cities can choose the approach that works best for their communities.”
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The Spokane Symphony's new season features Harry Potter, a scary silent film and romantic Rachmaninoff

Posted By on Fri, Aug 19, 2016 at 11:15 AM

The Spokane Symphony is busy the next few weeks, playing their annual crowd-favorite shows at Arbor Crest Wine Cellars and then Pavillion and Comstock parks. These outdoor concerts help celebrate the fading days of summer, but it's the upcoming season — performed mainly indoors at the Martin Woldson at the Fox Theater that we're most looking forward to. 

Below are the performances you'll be remiss to miss. Get all your ticket information here. 

Opening Night
Sept. 17-18
You may recall the flying whale scene in Disney's Fantasia reboot back in 2000. That animated vignette was set to the music of Respighi's Pines of Rome, which the Spokane Symphony will perform to close out its opening weekend performance of the 2016-2017 season. You can choose to imagine whales bursting through clouds while listening to this piece, or ruminate on something else. Either way, the final minutes of this will take your breath away. The weekend also features master violinist Philippe Quint (who once left his $4 million Stradavarious in the back of a New York taxi cab) playing the U.S. premier of the "Tropoi" Violin Concerto.

The Rach 2
Oct. 8-9
It's  one of the most obvious piano concertos out there, and one of the best. So when the New York Philharmonic Artist-in-Association pianist Inon Barnatan comes to play Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2, you'll need to go hear it live. The piece is romantic to the core. Plus, any Celine Dion fans out there will recognize the interlude from her version of "All By Myself."

Beastly Mahler
Oct. 22-23
Gustav Mahler is a beast of a composer, giving musicians a full body workout from start to finish. And his Symphony No. 3 is the most monstrous of them all — clocking in at nearly two hours, it is the longest piece played by most orchestras around the world today. Calling the performance A Hymn to Nature, the Spokane Symphony enlists the help of the Symphony Chorale, the women of the Whitworth University Choir, the Spokane Area Youth Choir and alto soloist MaryAnn McCormick. Your mind will certainly wander during this one, but it will be worth it in the end. 

Wands (batons?) at the Ready
Oct. 29
John Williams' Harry Potter film scores will soon be on full display just in time for Halloween. That's right, the Spokane Symphony is playing selections from all of the Potter films and, similar to last year's Star Wars event, people are encouraged to dress up. As part of the interactive event, concertgoers can also select a Hogwarts house to be a part of. The 2 pm matinee show is best for kids, and the 8 pm performance is more so for adult fans. 

Nov. 4, Jan. 13, March 10
Ditching the name Symphony with a Splash, this year's collaborative event series is now called Intersect. The program looks to reel in folks who may not have been to a symphony show before, combining the talents of local artists, chefs, bartenders, pop musicians and of course the Spokane Symphony, who will largely play modern works here. Check out the Astor Piazzola piece being played for the tango-themed Intersect evening. 

Phantom, Still 
Feb. 4
Even today this face is scary.
  • Even today this face is scary.

Before Andrew Lloyd Webber came around, there was the 1925 silent film version of Phantom of the Opera, among others. Continuing its Symphonic Film at the Fox series, the symphony will perform the soundtrack as the scary black and white masterpiece appears on screen. The makeup alone is enough to give you nightmares. 

The Russian Soul
March 25-26
At just 25, American violinist Benjamin Beilman comes to Spokane to perform one of the most technically difficult works of all time — Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D Major.  The composer only wrote one violin concerto in his lifetime, probably because he put all of the things in this one piece. 

The other Requiem

May 6-7
The final classical concert of the season closes out with the operatic Verdi's Requiem, which is about as full scale as possible with choir and soloists accompanying. The below clip is beyond terrifying and perfect to play loudly in the morning when no one in your house is getting out of bed. There's no way you can fall asleep listening to this one. 

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More police chief drama, an Olympic apology, Trump's new tact and other headlines as you end your week

Posted By on Fri, Aug 19, 2016 at 10:48 AM


Pain meds and pregnancy, cancer and alcohol, kids and Ironman
NEWS: Kate Burke, Sen. Andy Billig's assistant, files to run for Amber Waldref's city council seat next year


More drama on police chief confirmation
Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart says  he'll vote against confirming Craig Meidl as Mayor David Condon's pick for police chief. Meidl says he still wants the job. 

U.S. Olympics Committee says sorry for "distracting ordeal"
After members of the U.S. swim team fabricated reports that they were robbed at gunpoint in Brazil, the U.S. Olympic Committee has issued an apology. 

Trump tries out new campaign strategy
While campaigning in North Carolina, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump apologized for, at times, "saying the wrong things."

Gawker will shut down
Facing a crippling judgment from an invasion of privacy lawsuit, the gossip website Gawker will cease operations next week. The lawsuit brought against the website was funded by tech billionaire Peter Thiel and has raised concerns over the ability of the rich and powerful to silence media outlets. 

U.S. officials say Iran payment was leverage
The U.S. State Department said that it paid a $400 million debt to Iran after the country released prisoners. U.S. officials say the payment was used as leverage but wasn't a ransom payment. 
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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pain meds and pregnancy, cancer and alcohol, kids and Ironman

Posted By on Thu, Aug 18, 2016 at 4:35 PM

Pregnancy and Pain Medication
New evidence may lead pregnant women to think twice about taking acetaminophen, commonly known as Tylenol. Although usually considered safe for use during pregnancy, a study released just this week found women who took acetaminophen were much more likely to report years later that their children had hyperactivity, emotional difficulties and behavioral problems, as compared to women who did not take acetaminophen while pregnant. The new study was large, with more than 7,500 women participating, and researchers attempted to correct for various criticisms arising from other studies, which have hinted at links between prenatal acetaminophen and asthma, and acetaminophen and autism. Researchers say the benefits of treating pain and fever during pregnancy need to be weighed against the potential risks.

Cancer and Alcohol?
The recent news that alcohol causes cancer was alarming to many, partly because of the researchers' unequivocal assessment of their findings. They emphatically wrote: "There is strong evidence that alcohol causes cancer at seven sites in the body and probably others. Current estimates suggest that alcohol-attributable cancers at these sites make up 5.8% of all cancer deaths world-wide. Confirmation of specific biological mechanisms by which alcohol increases the incidence of each type of cancer is not required to infer that alcohol is a cause.”

But one Harvard doctor isn't too impressed: "This study isn’t going to become part of my discussion about the pros and cons of alcohol consumption." Here's why.

InHealth writer Linda Hagen Miller also wrote about the topic in her story "Rethinking Drinking" for a recent issue.

Ironman weekend in Coeur d’Alene is upon us. While the real action on Sunday will belong to highly trained athletes, kids ages 3-14 can get a taste of the event by participating in a .5- or 1-mile IronKids fun run on Saturday, Aug. 20, at 9 am, at McEuen Park. Registration is $15 at
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