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KUNR Today: Fire weather watch for much of Northern California, TedxReno event returns Saturday

Kathryn Lukas stands against a blue backdrop and looks off-camera towards an audience while speaking at a TedxReno in February 2020.
Christopher Holloman
Kathryn Lukas speaks during a Ted Talk at TedxReno in February 2020, in Reno, Nev.

Read or listen to the news headlines for Thursday, May 19, 2022.

Winds, dryness raise fire concerns in Northern California
By The Associated Press

Gusty winds, low humidity and drying vegetation will bring fire danger to a large swath of the Northern California interior this week. The National Weather Service says a fire weather watch will be in effect from Thursday morning through Friday evening.

Forecasters say gusty north and east winds will be caused by a weather system passing to the east. The strongest winds are expected over the west side of the Sacramento Valley and the coastal range foothills. California has already experienced damaging wildfires this year, including a blaze that destroyed 20 homes in Laguna Niguel last week.

TedxReno live event returns Saturday 
By Kevin McCray

TedxReno is back after a more than a two-year break away from large in-person gatherings. On May 21, expect a range of ideas to be shared and discussed at the Reno Events Center. Matching the Ted Talks format, Tedx is the independently organized version of the event where a variety of speakers talk about a range of subjects, said Frances Weiner, TedxReno organizer.

“The number one thing we look for when vetting a speaker is actually the idea and not the speaker,” Weiner explained. “That’s Ted’s philosophy, ‘what is the idea?,’ and we try to get both sides of ideas.”

The range of material covers a lot of ground. Past Ted Talks include “Do schools kill creativity?” “How to spot a liar,” and “10 things you didn’t know about orgasm.” Liv Moore is an entertainment strategist and publicist. This will be her first time as a Ted speaker.

“I remember in college, somebody said ‘college is the last time where you get to just spend time learning,’” she said. “Once you're into your job, everything that you take in has to have a direct output. Since realizing that, I've gravitated to events like this where we can each take time to reflect, and then take some ideas and apply them to however they work in our lives.”

Event organizers expect over 1,000 attendees at this weekend’s gathering. There will be 20 speakers including UNR President and former Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval.

TedxReno is an all-day event occurring May 21 at the Reno Events Center. Learn more at tedxreno.org.

Judge: Trump administration illegally withdrew bird listing
By The Associated Press

A federal judge has ruled the Trump administration acted illegally in 2020 when it withdrew an earlier proposal to list as threatened a hen-sized bird found only in the high desert along the California-Nevada line. It's the latest development in the on-again, off-again protection of the bi-state sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act over the past two decades.

U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley in San Francisco said Monday the agency erroneously concluded in 2020 that the ground-dwelling bird "is not likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future." Threats to its survival of include urbanization, livestock grazing and wildfires.

Federal agency sends team to probe Tesla crash that killed 3
By The Associated Press

The U.S. government's road safety agency has dispatched a team to investigate the possibility that a Tesla involved in a California crash that killed three people was operating on a partially automated driving system. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Wednesday confirmed that it had sent a special crash investigation team to probe the May 12 crash on the Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach.

The investigation is part of a larger inquiry by the agency into crashes involving advanced driver assistance systems such as Tesla's Autopilot. Since 2016, the agency has sent teams to 34 crashes in which the systems were either in use or suspected of operating. According to a NHTSA document released Wednesday, of the 34, 28 involved Teslas.

New report analyzes agricultural costs, spread of bat-killing fungal disease
By Emma Gibson, Mountain West News Bureau

Bats play a large role in agriculture. Almost 20 years ago, a fungal disease was found in the U.S. that has since killed millions of bats. A recent paper said the loss of bats cost U.S. agriculture up to about $500 million. When bats are a part of an ecosystem they fertilize, pollinate and eat crop-loving insects. Associate Professor Dale Manning at Colorado State University is one of the co-authors of the report. He said the disease is now in at least 35 states.

“What it means for farmers is that they’ve lost a free pesticide service,” Manning explained.

He also said people can buy more pesticides, but because there are more pests, crop harvests suffer.

“Both smaller revenues and higher costs translate into a lower profitability of agriculture,” he added.

Manning said the solutions to slow the spread aren’t cheap, but the costs to agriculture are larger. In our region, the disease is now known to be in New Mexico, Wyoming and Montana.

Roommate: Church shooting suspect voiced criticism of Taiwan
By The Associated Press

The roommate of the man accused of opening fire on a California church congregation of mostly elderly Taiwanese parishioners says the man recently spoke to him about his contempt for Taiwan. Jordin Davis of Las Vegas says the suspect, David Wenwei Chou, told him less than two weeks ago that he felt the Taiwanese government was corrupt, and he disliked how people on the island were sympathetic to the leadership.

Chou is charged with murder and attempted murder in Sunday's attack at a Taiwanese church in Orange County. He didn't enter a plea Tuesday and his arraignment was continued to June. Authorities allege Chou was driven by political hatred against Taiwan.

Firefighters slow growth of massive New Mexico wildfire
By The Associated Press

Firefighters have been able to slow the growth of a massive wildfire burning in the mountains of northeastern New Mexico as they prepare for another round of red-flag weather. Forecasters warned Wednesday that hot, dry and windy conditions have prompted warnings for high fire danger from southern Nevada through parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado starting Thursday.

Most of the large fires in the U.S. this spring have been in New Mexico and Arizona. The National Interagency Fire Center reported that three large fires also are burning in Texas. Evacuation orders remain in place for residents near a handful of large blazes in New Mexico, Colorado and Texas.

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