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Daily Audio Newscast - May 27, 2024

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News from around the nation.

Audio file

At least 15 dead as severe weather sweeps across central US; on Memorial Day, Iowa labor leaders honor fallen workers; Medical center installs microgrid to safeguard clinic power supply; 'Second look' laws gain traction, but Mississippi sticks to elderly parole; Will summer heat melt New Mexicans' cravings for ice cream?


The Public News Service Daily Newscast for May the 27th, Memorial Day 2024.

I’m Mike Clifford.

At least 15 people are dead after severe storms and likely tornadoes in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kentucky.

CNN reports more than 110 million Americans under the threat of large hail, damaging winds, and fierce twisters throughout the mid-Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee River Valleys.

They report the extreme weather has caused power outages and forced people to take shelter across the central U.S.

The Annapolis 500 was delayed and spectators moved from the grandstands due to a lightning risk.

Meantime, a near-record number of people will travel this weekend in what could be the busiest period in nearly two decades, that's according to AAA.

And Memorial Day commemorates Americans who lost their lives while serving in the military, but the Iowa Federation of Labor takes the opportunity to also honor people who died on the job in the last year.

Iowa Division of Labor says the 57 workers who died on the job lived in all corners of the state, from Muscatine and Liberty to Storm Lake, Des Moines, and Cedar Rapids.

They were truck drivers, software engineers, county court workers, and grain elevator operators.

Iowa Federation President Charlie Wischman says workers died in car accidents and from chemical exposure.

Some lost their lives falling from high ladders or other on-the-job accidents that turned out to be fatal.

"The thing that I think is in common with most of them is that many of them are preventable."

There are various Memorial Day gatherings around Iowa today honoring all Americans who were killed in the line of military duty.

I'm Mark Moran.

There are more than 1.6 million Iowans in the workforce, the industry with the most workers in the state, almost 226,000 people, is manufacturing.

Next to California, where the Alliance Medical Center just switched on new solar panels and battery backup as part of a plan to make the clinic more resilient to power outages in a region prone to deadly blazes.

The $495,000 system comes thanks to a grant from the non-profit Direct Relief.

Alliance Medical Center CEO Sue Labbe says it'll keep the lights on if the local power company cuts electricity when high winds raise the risk of wildfire.

"We have to come to a screeching halt, try and figure out alternative plans to transfer patients to other locations or postpone care to another day, which really is difficult when we serve a population of patients that are very vulnerable and don't always have their own transportation."

The clinic in Sonoma County has had to evacuate twice in the past several years due to wildfire.

This is Suzanne Potter reporting.

The system also cycles on solar and battery power during peak hours, which saves on energy costs and reduces the building's carbon footprint.

This is Public News Service.

Next our Daniel Smith reports.

Second look laws that help reduce prison time are gaining traction across the country, but Mississippi is not following suit.

A new report examines these policies in a dozen states, which allows judges rather than parole boards to reconsider sentences.

Mississippi lacks a second chance law but does provide an earlier parole option for older incarcerated individuals.

Becky Feltman with the Sentencing Project explains the policy allows those who are 60 years old and have served 10 years and a quarter of their sentence to be considered for parole, except for those convicted of violent crimes or habitual offenders.

"Because of all those exclusions, violent crimes and habitual offenders, I don't know how many 60-year-olds are serving sentences for misdemeanors.

It's probably not a large population of people.

It's probably a pretty ineffective elder parole law."

Feltman says six states and the District of Columbia permit a court to reconsider a sentence, usually under certain conditions, such as a person's age at the time of the offense and the amount of time served.

Feltman says it's essential for Mississippians to know that allowing a judge to consider someone's rehabilitation in open courts with an adversarial and transparent process with an attorney is a very different, meaningful and fair proceeding.

"So it's something that I think should be strongly considered in every state, not just Mississippi but particularly Mississippi because of the high prison population they have there.

And there's going to be, if it's not already, a significant aging prison population."

Feltman notes that organizations including the American Bar Association, the Fair and Just Prosecution and the Model Penal Code call for legislators to enact second-look laws.

Finally, Ross Brown lets us know in addition to honoring fallen service members, Memorial Day has come to be known as the unofficial start of summer.

And that can mean lots of ice cream, unless extreme temperatures cause people to forego the treat.

"Ice cream consumption is down, with some theorizing that hotter temperatures due to climate change prompt more people to choose a cold drink over ice cream.

Nutritionist Marion Nessel says when people buy just a pint rather than a quart or more, cost is another big factor."

"You can easily spend $5 on an ice cream cone.

I can remember when it was a nickel.

And that's a lot more than inflation has gone up.

So it's become a very, very expensive commodity."

In 2022, Americans ate on average about 13 pounds of regular ice cream per capita, down from 18 pounds in 1975.