Howard Berkes http://kcur.org en U.S. Olympic Committee Plans To Examine Speedskating's Woes http://kcur.org/post/us-olympic-committee-plans-examine-speedskatings-woes For American speedskaters, this Winter Olympics has been defined by controversy over racing suits and disappointment over a lack of podium finishes. Now comes word that the U.S. Tue, 18 Feb 2014 21:53:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 51458 at http://kcur.org U.S. Olympic Committee Plans To Examine Speedskating's Woes Details Emerge About Colorado Mine Accident And Safety Record http://kcur.org/post/details-emerge-about-colorado-mine-accident-and-safety-record One of the men killed at the <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/11/18/245901905/2-killed-in-colo-mining-accident-carbon-monoxide-blamed">Revenue-Virginius mine in Ouray, Colo.</a>, on Sunday was trying to find the other miner who died.<p>New details of the incident from the Mine Safety and Health Administration were released Monday. Mon, 18 Nov 2013 23:11:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 47052 at http://kcur.org More Blame Congress Than Obama For Park Woes During Shutdown http://kcur.org/post/more-blame-congress-obama-park-woes-during-shutdown It may seem like a distant memory, but the images are indelible: grizzled veterans <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/10/13/233334336/barriers-breached-at-world-war-ii-memorial-on-mall">tearing down barricades</a> at the National World War II Memorial; armed rangers <a href="http://www.npr.org/2013/10/03/228719015/national-parks-close-as-other-public-lands-stay-open">blocking national park entrance roads</a> with massive signs and government SUVs; and county officials in Utah <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/10/09/231086726/county-in-utah-threatens-takeover-of-n Mon, 18 Nov 2013 13:30:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 47004 at http://kcur.org More Blame Congress Than Obama For Park Woes During Shutdown 2 Summer Olympic Cities Are Chasing The 2022 Winter Games http://kcur.org/post/2-summer-olympic-cities-are-chasing-2022-winter-games With the <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/parallels/2013/10/29/241642365/100-days-to-the-sochi-olympics-some-key-things-to-know">upcoming Winter Olympics</a> set in a subtropical, palm tree-lined resort city on Russia's Black Sea, it's no surprise that two former Summer Olympics hosts are now seeking the 2022 Winter Games.<p><a href="http://www.npr.org/2012/07/10/156368611/chinas-post-olympic-woe-how-to-fill-an-empty-nest">Beijing</a>, host of the 2008 Summer Games, must miss the Olympic glow — or polluting murky mist, as it turned out to be, given its formal bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Fri, 15 Nov 2013 19:00:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 46911 at http://kcur.org 2 Summer Olympic Cities Are Chasing The 2022 Winter Games House Lawmakers Seek Federal Probe Of Black Lung Program http://kcur.org/post/house-lawmakers-seek-federal-probe-black-lung-program Two Democratic congressmen have <a href="http://democrats.edworkforce.house.gov/sites/democrats.edworkforce.house.gov/files/documents/Miller%20and%20Courtney%20Letter%20to%20Labor%20OIG%20RE%20Black%20Lung.pdf">formally asked the Labor Department's Inspector General</a> to investigate "allegations of misconduct by doctors and lawyers working on behalf of the coal industry" and their roles in the denials of benefits for coal miners stricken with black lung disease.<p>In their letter, Rep. Fri, 08 Nov 2013 19:14:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 46547 at http://kcur.org Johns Hopkins Halts, Reviews Black Lung Program http://kcur.org/post/johns-hopkins-halts-reviews-black-lung-program <a href="http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/abc_news_report_b-reads_pneumoconiosis_statement.html">Johns Hopkins Medicine</a> says it will suspend and review its black lung program, following joint investigative reports last week from the <a href="http://www.publicintegrity.org/environment/breathless-and-burdened">Center for Public Integrity</a> and <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/investigation-johns-hopkins-tough-questions-black-lung-money/story?id=20721430">ABC News</a> that found the program "helped coal companies thwart efforts by ailing mine workers to receive disability benefits. Mon, 04 Nov 2013 19:32:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 46294 at http://kcur.org Report Details Industry's 'Cutthroat' Fight Of Miners' Claims http://kcur.org/post/report-details-industrys-cutthroat-fight-miners-claims My investigative reporting colleague Chris Hamby at the Center for Public Integrity has a compelling and troubling follow-up to our <a href="http://www.npr.org/series/156453033/black-lung-returns-to-coal-country">jointly-reported series last year</a> on the resurgence of the deadly coal miners' disease black lung.<p>Hamby has spent the last year investigating the system that awards compensation to miners stricken with the disease. Tue, 29 Oct 2013 21:06:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 45999 at http://kcur.org Theme Park Called 'Insensitive' For 'Miner's Revenge' Attraction http://kcur.org/post/theme-park-called-insensitive-miners-revenge-attraction <strong>Update at 8:45 p.m. ET: Mon, 28 Oct 2013 22:59:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 45932 at http://kcur.org Boy Scouts Eject Leaders Who Toppled Ancient Rock http://kcur.org/post/boy-scouts-eject-leaders-who-toppled-ancient-rock <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYFD18BwmJ4</p> Mon, 21 Oct 2013 22:05:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 45574 at http://kcur.org Boy Scouts Eject Leaders Who Toppled Ancient Rock Some States Allowed To Reopen National Parks — And Foot The Bill http://kcur.org/post/utah-allowed-reopen-national-parks-and-foot-bill "This is a godsend!" exclaimed Utah Gov. Gary Herbert late Thursday night, as he signed an agreement with the Department of the Interior to use state funds to reopen eight national park areas in his state for at least 10 days.<p>The Republican governor wasted no time in wiring $1.67 million to Washington overnight so that some of the areas can open as early as today. Fri, 11 Oct 2013 16:34:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 45070 at http://kcur.org Some States Allowed To Reopen National Parks — And Foot The Bill Feds To Consider State Funding To Reopen National Parks http://kcur.org/post/feds-consider-state-funding-reopen-national-parks With <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/10/10/231440270/report-parks-shutdown-saps-750-million-in-visitor-spending">economic impacts mounting</a> and one Utah county <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/10/09/231086726/county-in-utah-threatens-takeover-of-national-park-areas">threatening to take over national parks</a>, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says she will "consider agreements with governors" to allow state funding of national parks so that some can reopen to visitors.<p>Details are sketchy, but the agency "will begin conversations about how to proceed as e Thu, 10 Oct 2013 21:51:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 45035 at http://kcur.org Feds To Consider State Funding To Reopen National Parks Report: Parks Shutdown Saps $750 Million In Visitor Spending http://kcur.org/post/report-parks-shutdown-saps-750-million-visitor-spending An estimated 7 million people have been shut out at 12 of the busiest and biggest U.S. Thu, 10 Oct 2013 17:00:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 45008 at http://kcur.org Report: Parks Shutdown Saps $750 Million In Visitor Spending Shutdown Prompts Emergency Declarations In Utah http://kcur.org/post/shutdown-prompts-emergency-declarations-utah Fed-up with declining tourism spending and tax revenue during the <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/archives/archive.php?thingId=134144512">government shutdown</a>, four Utah counties dependent on National Park and public lands visitors have declared states of emergency.<p>And Republican Gov. Gary Herbert has responded with a plea to President Obama to reopen the region's National Park areas with state, local and private funding.<p>"These closures must end immediately," Herbert wrote in a formal request to the President. Tue, 08 Oct 2013 22:26:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 44898 at http://kcur.org Shutdown Prompts Emergency Declarations In Utah NSA Says It Has 'Mitigated' Meltdowns At Utah Data Farm http://kcur.org/post/nsa-says-it-has-mitigated-meltdowns-utah-data-farm This was supposed to be the month the National Security Agency cranked up its <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/09/23/225381596/booting-up-new-nsa-data-farm-takes-root-in-utah">biggest data farm yet</a>, in a Salt Lake City suburb.<p>The $1.2 billion complex covers 1.5 million square feet, and includes 100,000 square feet devoted solely to computers and servers.<p>But some of that equipment has fried in 10 "meltdowns" and "power surges" in the past 13 months, according to sources and documents quoted in <em><a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304441404 Tue, 08 Oct 2013 21:05:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 44881 at http://kcur.org NSA Says It Has 'Mitigated' Meltdowns At Utah Data Farm National Parks Close As Other Public Lands Stay Open http://kcur.org/post/national-parks-close-other-public-lands-stay-open From Acadia in Maine to Zion in Utah to the North Cascades in Washington, America's 401 national park areas have gates blocking entrance roads.<p>The last remaining campers and hotel guests in the parks must leave Thursday, and park rangers will patrol to keep others out.<p>The national parks "belong to the American people, and the American people should have the right to come in," says National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis. Thu, 03 Oct 2013 08:14:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 44608 at http://kcur.org National Parks Close As Other Public Lands Stay Open Booting Up: New NSA Data Farm Takes Root In Utah http://kcur.org/post/booting-new-nsa-data-farm-takes-root-utah The National Security Agency won't say exactly when it will fully rev up its <a href="http://www.npr.org/2013/06/10/190160772/amid-data-controversy-nsa-builds-its-biggest-data-farm" target="_blank">newest and biggest data farm</a> in the Salt Lake City suburb of Bluffdale, Utah. Mon, 23 Sep 2013 21:38:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 44098 at http://kcur.org Booting Up: New NSA Data Farm Takes Root In Utah Former Massey Exec Gets 42 Months In Mine Disaster Case http://kcur.org/post/former-massey-exec-gets-42-months-mine-disaster-case <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/11/28/166064046/mine-disaster-probe-leads-to-conspiracy-charges-against-former-executive">David Hughart</a> is now the highest-ranking former executive of Massey Energy to go to jail for crimes related to the <a href="http://www.npr.org/series/131960177/massey-mine-investigation">worst coal mine disaster in 40 years</a>.<p>On Tuesday, a judge in West Virginia sentenced Hughart to 42 months in jail and three years of supervised release.<p>Hughart, 54, of Crab Orchard, W. Tue, 10 Sep 2013 23:52:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 43430 at http://kcur.org Former Massey Exec Gets 42 Months In Mine Disaster Case Sabotage Prompts Two-Year Bans For Olympic Skater And Coach http://kcur.org/post/sabotage-prompts-two-year-bans-olympic-skater-and-coach "Obnoxious...disruptive...and...unsportsmanlike."<p>That's how a disciplinary panel at the International Skating Union (ISU) describes the behavior of former U.S. Olympic short track speedskating coach Jae Su Chun during a contentious international meet in Poland in 2011.<p>American Olympic medalist <a href="http://www.npr.org/2012/10/05/162310493/u-s-speedskater-admits-to-sabotaging-rivals-skates">Simon Cho confessed last Fall</a> to sabotaging the skate of a Canadian rival at that meet. Mon, 26 Aug 2013 18:38:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 42603 at http://kcur.org Sabotage Prompts Two-Year Bans For Olympic Skater And Coach Wildfire Forces Kick Into Highest Gear http://kcur.org/post/wildfire-forces-kick-highest-gear The <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/08/15/212291317/2013-wildfire-season-proving-to-be-more-mild-than-wild">2013 wildfire season</a> hit a milestone Tuesday: Preparedness Level 5, an officious way of saying resources are stretched thin and it could quickly get worse.<p>Preparedness Level 5 is the highest on the national wildfire preparedness scale, which the National Interagency Fire Center uses to chart wildfire activity, the deployment and availability of firefighters and equipment and the likelihood that more big fires are coming.<p>"The decision to move to Preparedness Le Tue, 20 Aug 2013 22:09:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 42292 at http://kcur.org 2013 Wildfire Season Proving To Be More Mild Than Wild http://kcur.org/post/2013-wildfire-season-proving-be-more-mild-wild With 15,000 firefighters deployed and three dozen major wildfires currently burning in five Western states, this would seem to be a wildfire season for the record books. And in one tragic aspect, it is. But by most measures, 2013 is the second-mildest fire season in the past decade ... Thu, 15 Aug 2013 17:28:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 42030 at http://kcur.org 2013 Wildfire Season Proving To Be More Mild Than Wild Brawl Puts 'Bad' Back Into Badminton http://kcur.org/post/brawl-puts-bad-back-badminton A year after an embarrassing <a href="http://www.npr.org/2012/08/01/157740009/badminton-players-kicked-out-for-losing-on-purpose">match-fixing scandal at the London Olympics</a>, badminton is back in the news for being unexpectedly badass.<p>As the <a href="http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Former+Thai+Olympic+partners+trade+blows+Richmond+badminton/8689495/story.html"><em>Vancouver Sun</em> reports</a>, former Olympic doubles partners Bodin Issara and Maneepong Jongjit of Thailand got into a racket-swinging, fist-pounding, shirt-ripping brawl Sunday during the final men's doubles match a Mon, 22 Jul 2013 22:51:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 40653 at http://kcur.org Brawl Puts 'Bad' Back Into Badminton Talk Of Boycotting Russian Olympics Stirs Emotions http://kcur.org/post/talk-boycotting-russian-olympics-stirs-emotions Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., sent a shudder through the Olympic world Wednesday when he told American Olympic network NBC that the United States should consider boycotting the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics if Russia grants the asylum request of "NSA leaker" <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/archives/archive.php?thingId=190293264" target="_blank">Edward Snowden</a>.<p>"I love the Olympics but I hate what the Russian government is doing throughout the world," <a href="http://nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/07/17/19510080-graham-us-should-consider-olympic-boycott-over-possible-snowden-asyl Wed, 17 Jul 2013 22:55:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 40390 at http://kcur.org Talk Of Boycotting Russian Olympics Stirs Emotions Olympic Torch (But Not Olympic Flame) Headed To Space http://kcur.org/post/olympic-torch-not-olympic-flame-headed-space The president of Russia's Sochi 2014 Olympic Committee could hardly contain himself — although Twitter contained him to 140 characters at a time:<p>"Our ambition to conquer Space 1st time ever in the Olympic history becomes reality," <a href="https://twitter.com/DChernyshenko">Dmitry Chernyshenko</a> tweeted Monday. Mon, 24 Jun 2013 22:08:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 39063 at http://kcur.org Olympic Torch (But Not Olympic Flame) Headed To Space Amid Turmoil, U.S. Speedskating Chief Resigns http://kcur.org/post/amid-turmoil-us-speedskating-chief-resigns Already on thin ice after months of turmoil and scandal, the executive director of U.S. Thu, 20 Jun 2013 18:28:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 38889 at http://kcur.org U.S. Olympic Skater's Sabotage Gets Day In 'Court' http://kcur.org/post/us-olympic-skaters-sabotage-gets-day-court Months of claims and counterclaims come to a head in a hotel conference room in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, when the International Skating Union considers the deliberate sabotage of a speed skate involving an American Olympic medalist and, allegedly, his former coach.<p>The ISU's disciplinary commission is scheduled to hear testimony behind closed doors from Simon Cho, a Vancouver Olympic bronze medalist in short track speedskating, former American short track coach Jae Su Chun, and at least two witnesses.<p><a href="http://www.npr.org/2012/10/05/162310493/u-s-speedskater-admits-to-sabotagin Wed, 12 Jun 2013 22:53:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 38414 at http://kcur.org U.S. Olympic Skater's Sabotage Gets Day In 'Court' Federal Defender Wants Out Of Terrorism Case Due To Budget Cuts http://kcur.org/post/federal-defender-wants-out-terrorism-case-due-budget-cuts A federal public defender in Idaho wants a judge to find another lawyer for an <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/05/16/184584180/federal-prosecutors-arrest-uzbekistan-national-on-terrorism-charges">Uzbek national charged with aiding a terrorist group</a> and training others in how to build and use a weapon of mass destruction.<p>The reason? Wed, 12 Jun 2013 19:23:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 38396 at http://kcur.org Federal Defender Wants Out Of Terrorism Case Due To Budget Cuts Hands-Free Gadgets Don't Mean Risk-Free Driving http://kcur.org/post/hands-free-gadgets-car-dont-mean-driving-risk-free If you've felt smug and safe using built-in, voice-controlled technology for text messages, email and phone calls while driving, forget it. There are some sobering findings about the risk of distraction from the American Automobile Association and the University of Utah.<p>The proliferation of hands-free technology "is a looming public safety crisis," AAA CEO Robert Darbelnet says. Wed, 12 Jun 2013 13:40:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 38366 at http://kcur.org Hands-Free Gadgets Don't Mean Risk-Free Driving Amid Data Controversy, NSA Builds Its Biggest Data Farm http://kcur.org/post/amid-data-controversy-nsa-builds-its-biggest-data-farm As privacy advocates and security experts debate the validity of the National Security Agency's massive data gathering operations, the agency is putting the finishing touches on its biggest data farm yet.<p>The gargantuan $1.2 billion complex at a National Guard base 26 miles south of Salt Lake City features 1.5 million square feet of top secret space. Mon, 10 Jun 2013 06:58:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 38225 at http://kcur.org Amid Data Controversy, NSA Builds Its Biggest Data Farm The Iceman Swimmeth, Chanting 'F Cancer' http://kcur.org/post/iceman-swimmeth-chanting-f-cancer Goody Tyler isn't just any hard-core Great Salt Lake swimmer. He's a certified "<a href="http://www.internationaliceswimming.com/">ice swimmer</a>." In December, Tyler swam 1 mile in the lake when the water temperature was only 41 degrees, the maximum temperature for an official "ice swim."<p>"You're only allowed to wear one cap, one pair of goggles and a Speedo," Tyler says. "And that's it."<p>It took 40 minutes in the snow-fringed lake, and the 36-year-old schoolteacher, husband and father of two girls had more to prove than his own wacky toughness. Fri, 07 Jun 2013 20:03:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 38141 at http://kcur.org The Iceman Swimmeth, Chanting 'F Cancer' Salt, Flies, Pickled Tongues: A Perfect Great Salt Lake Swim http://kcur.org/post/salt-flies-pickled-tongues-perfect-great-salt-lake-swim It's the "liquid lie of the desert," as <a href="http://www.coyoteclan.com/books/refuge.html">writer Terry Tempest Williams describes it</a>, a vast inland sea so salty it triggers retching when swallowed. <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1044732">Brine shrimp</a> swarm its waters and brine flies blanket the shore. In the right wind and weather its putrid smell reaches Salt Lake City neighborhoods 16 miles away. Fri, 07 Jun 2013 20:02:00 +0000 Howard Berkes 38143 at http://kcur.org Salt, Flies, Pickled Tongues: A Perfect Great Salt Lake Swim