From Wildfires to Fired Hires: The News Week in Review
Did you know that the first day of summer is April 18? Not in the United States, though. In ancient Iceland, the calendar year was divided into only two seasons—winter and summer. The “First Day of Summer” was an annual public holiday held on April 18. 
In modern times, the first day of summer is June 20 — or so the experts tell us. But, ten days after the experts’ predictions, the weather seems to have a mind of its own. In Eugene, rain has maintained a steady presence all week, and supposedly it “will dry out after some Sunday morning showers.” 
While we in Eugene might complain about a late start to our summer, Colorado has faced nightmarish weather. “A fast-growing wildfire that blew up overnight in Colorado has forced 11,000 people from their homes…The Waldo Canyon blaze came as firefighting resources were already stretched by the monster High Park blaze that was raging out of control west of Fort Collins and has destroyed 200 homes…The High Park Fire – the second-largest on record in the state and its most destructive – consumed 82,114 acres in steep canyons.” 
If that was not enough, Nature upped the ante even more. “Nearly 4 million homes and businesses were without power on Saturday amid a record heat wave in the eastern United States after deadly thunderstorms downed power lines from Indiana to New Jersey…Statewide emergencies were declared in Washington D.C., Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia because of damage from overnight storms.” 
While around the United States people are facing excess after excess in Nature, the people of Eugene are facing the consequences of government excess. “By a vote of three in favor and two against, county commissioners approved sweeping budget cuts, layoffs, and service reductions…188 full time workers will lose their jobs. The sheriff’s office is taking the biggest hit by cutting forty deputies and forty support staff.” 
With excess comes trimming, but the trimming came from an unexpected place: “a get out of jail free card to nearly a hundred jail inmates.”  “Three people released were accused in three different homicide cases, including Jason Manske, 31, Aaron Curry, 33, and Jeremy Christopher Henry, 33. Manske is accused of a felony hit and run. Curry is accused of killing a man, allegedly his friend, while camping in Oakridge. Henry is charged with drinking and driving. He allegedly crashed, killing a woman in Cottage Grove in April 2012.” 
Letting accused murderers out of prison can be dangerous. So can driving over 100 mph. “A Porsche driver was pulled over twice in the same day, racing at speeds up to 117 mph on Highway 26, in a road rally through Oregon, according to troopers. Three other drivers were pulled over and cited between Prairie City and John Day, caught going 112, 102, and 92 mph…Investigators believe the speeding drivers were all participating in a road rally that started in Las Vegas.” 
They chose a good time to drive over 100 mph, though: if they were sent to prison, they might have been sent right back out along with Manske, Curr, and Henry.
Speaking of good times: athletes have been making them left and right at Hayward field this last week. One particular good time was made by former Duck Galen Rupe: he “used a 52 second final lap to run his way into the history books with a 13:22.67 finish to break Steve Prefontaine’s meet record of 13:22.80, set back in 1972.” 
The Supreme Court also made its way into the history books this week, upholding “President Obama’s health care law, Thursday, in a 5-4 decision. The Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of the law’s central provision; a requirement that all Americans have health insurance.” 
Oregon followed with its own healthcare mandate, certifying “eight groups to be the state’s first coordinated care organizations…The coordinated care organizations are part of Gov. John Kitzhaber’s initiative to improve the health care system and lower costs by reducing waste and preventing avoidable hospitalizations.” 
While we are on the subject of avoidable hospitalizations: remember Rudy Eugene, who ate that homeless man’s face a few weeks ago? It turns out Eugene (the man, not the city) was not on the so-called “bath salts” drug. “The only drug found in the system of the Hannibal Lecter-like attacker was marijuana, according to a full toxicology report by the Miami-Dade County, Fla., medical examiner.” 
Talk about the munchies.
And if marijuana use is going to be blamed for Eugene’s snacking on another person’s face, the zombie apocalypse might be approaching, according to unrelated findings from Benjamin Hansen at the University of Oregon. “Perceptions of the dangers regarding alcohol [have] gone up, and correspondingly alcohol consumption has slightly declined during this time period; whereas perceptions regarding the dangers of marijuana use has gone down, and marijuana use has gone up.” 
If a stoned zombie is not the scariest (and slowest) thing you’ve ever heard of, you’re probably distracted. Maybe it’s the smell of summer in the air. Or maybe it’s the curious smell of the callery pear tree.