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Bridenstine bill aims at zero tornado deaths by shifting research money
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Bridenstine bill aims at zero tornado deaths by shifting research money

Bridenstine bill aims at zero tornado deaths by shifting research money
Photo Credit: Russell Mills
Photos taken June 19 and 20, 2013 around the site of the school where seven young children died in a tornado a month earlier

Bridenstine bill aims at zero tornado deaths by shifting research money

Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine has a goal: Zero tornado deaths in the United States.

He has introduced a bill called the"Weather Forecasting Improvement Act," (HR2413) designed to shift research funding from climate change research to severe weather prediction research.

He emphasizes that the bill doesn't require any additional funding.

He says more than a dozen agencies current spend billions to research climate change and global warming, but only one agency researches storm prediction -- that is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its child agency, the National Weather Service (NWS).

But NOAA, he says, actually spends about two-thirds of its research money on climate change, and Bridenstine says that needs to change.

His bill would direct NOAA to focus on better forecasting, with an eye to saving lives and protecting property.

He tells KRMG radar technology used by the military could be used to give as much as an hour's warning of a tornado, actually triggering that warning before the tornado forms.

The phased-array radar, according to Steve Piltz at the National Weather Service office in Tulsa, can completely map a storm system from the ground to its top in about 30 seconds, a process that takes about four and a half minutes using current technology.

Piltz says more research is needed, and Bridenstine says his bill would ensure that NOAA's funding gets used for that and other life-saving research.

You can read the actual text of the bill here.

It made it out of a subcommittee and committee, and now moves to the House floor.

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  • A social media post about an Oklahoma City mom's amazing sacrifice is touching heartstrings everywhere. Royce and Keri Young discovered in the 2nd trimester of Keri’s pregnancy that their unborn baby daughter Eva had a rare condition that results in an incomplete brain and skull and would only live a few hours after she was born. But they announced on Facebook that Keri would carry the baby to term, so that Eva could be an organ donor. Keri wrote that even though Eva's life would be short, she would 'do more in her time on Earth than I ever will.' Eva was born and died on the same day, Monday, April 17th. You can read more about the Young family’s story here.
  • A woman died Sunday while she was trying to save her dogs after they were swept into a creek’s strong current.  Liudmilla Feldman, 58, and her husband were walking their dogs around 6:30 p.m. when the dogs went into the water. She went in to rescue them and a current dragged her under for about 90 seconds, according to KSTU. >> Read more trending news 'It doesn't take much to lose your balance and fall into this water and be swept down,” Unified police Lt. Dan McConkey told KSTU. 'This creek runs quick, (and) with the runoff it's starting to run really fast.' The Salt Lake City Emergency Management Office warned residents Monday to 'be extra cautious around creeks and rivers this time of year. Keep kids and pets well away from these very cold and swift waters,' according to the Salt Lake City Tribune. Witnesses pulled Feldman from the water and attempted CPR. She was pronounced dead at the scene. The dogs are expected to be OK.
  • UPDATE: At 8:50 the National Weather Service issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Creek County until 9:30pm At 8:03  the National Weather Service issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Osage and Washington counties until 8:45pm The National Weather Service issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Osage and Pawnee counties until 8:30pm At 7pm the National Weather Service issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Osage and Pawnee counties until 7:30pm At 6pm the National Weather Service issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for Tulsa, Rogers, Okmulgee, Osage, Pawnee, Creek, Mayes, Washington and Wagoner counties until 2am. ****************************************************************** Green County is bracing for what could be an interesting evening. Meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Tulsa say a cold front to our west will provide the spark for strong to severe thunderstorms across northeast Oklahoma. We could see winds up to 70 mph and hail the size of golf balls. Meteorologist Mark Plate, with NWS, predicts the timing of the storms to be somewhere between 9:00 and 11:00pm. KRMG is in constant communication with the National Weather Service and the team of meteorologists with FOX23. Tune to NEWS102.3 and AM740 for the very latest on the severe weather threat. The threat for severe weather will diminish as we move through the overnight hours.  Thunderstorms are also expected on Wednesday along with much cooler temperatures.
  • Another protest of the city’s abandonment and sale of part of Helmerich Park drew a few dozen people Tuesday, even as the next step in the legal battle was taken by those opposed to the deal. “We filed a second lawsuit, which we filed actually again today, we perfected that lawsuit and filed it today,” former Mayor Terry Young told KRMG Tuesday. “So there are two lawsuits  pending before Judge Jefferson Sellers. He has set a hearing for June 1st on the consolidation of those two lawsuits into one. We basically allege that the city council had no right to sell this land, and demand that the city council act as the duly elected officials of the city to recover this land as city park land.” The new filing drops several allegations of violations of open meetings laws, Young says, because of the difficulty and complexity of proving those claims. Meanwhile, he’s confident that the lawsuit will halt the development until it’s resolved. “It would be quite unusual if it happened, because a lawsuit creates a cloud on the title to the land. And as you know, lenders want to know that clear title exists before they will lend money on a project, even on buying a home. And as long as the lawsuit is pending, either in the district court or in the court of appeals, if we necessarily have to go there - or even to the state supreme court - there’s a cloud on the title. If they were to close with that cloud, it would be very unusual.” Young says the River Parks Authority was created in 1974, with a clear purpose. “The intention (was) that everything between Riverside Drive and the river bank was going to be preserved as open space and operated for park purposes. That’s really the story of all of River Parks, a part of which Helmerich Park is, and it’s our goal to see to it it stays that way.” The council voted March 1st to abandon 8.8 acres of the park. REI Sporting Goods plans to build a retail development on the land.
  • Years of testing remain, but UT Health San Antonio researchers say they’ve cured Type 1 diabetes in mice. In peer-reviewed paper, they say a “gene transfer” can “wake up” cells in the pancreas to produce insulin. >> Read more trending news  Health researchers at the University of Texas think they have found a way to trick the body into curing Type 1 diabetes. The immune system of a person with diabetes kills off useful “beta” cells, but the UT researchers say they have found a way to make other cells in the pancreas perform the necessary work. Their approach, announced earlier this month in the academic journal Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, not only would have implications for Type 1, formerly called juvenile diabetes, but also could help treat the far more common Type 2 variety, also known as adult-onset diabetes. The researchers have cured mice, which are genetically similar to people but different enough that new rounds of animal testing — and millions of dollars more — are needed before human trials can begin. The researchers’ approach is sure to garner skeptics, at least in part because it is a significant departure from the many other attempts at curing diabetes, which typically involve transplanting new cells and/or suppressing the immune system’s attempts to kill off useful ones. By contrast, “we’re taking a cell that is already present in the body — it’s there, and it’s happy — and programming it to secrete insulin, without changing it otherwise,” said Ralph DeFronzo, chief of the diabetes research at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio. Diabetes is a disease characterized by a person’s inability to process carbohydrates, a condition that if untreated can lead to often-catastrophic health consequences: lethargy, diminished eyesight, heart attacks, strokes, blindness and a loss of circulation in the feet that could lead to amputation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that in 2014, about 29 million Americans – almost 1 in 10 – had diabetes. The core problem is insulin. Most people naturally secrete that substance when they eat something with carbohydrates, such as bread, potatoes and candy bars. Insulin acts like a concierge that escorts the sugar from the bloodstream into the cells, providing the cells with the energy to function. In most people, the body is continually monitoring blood sugar and producing insulin as needed. In Type 2 diabetes — which makes up 9 out of 10 diabetes cases and is generally associated with older people and weight gain — the cells reject the insulin, causing sugar to build up in the bloodstream even as cells are starved for energy. Type 2 is often treated with pills that tell the cells to let in the insulin. But in Type 2 diabetes, the body also often gradually loses the ability to produce insulin, requiring insulin injections. In Type 1 — the type the researchers studied — the body has simply stopped producing insulin. This type often manifests in children, though it can sometimes develop in adults as well. The reason the body stops producing insulin is that it kills off the pancreas’ beta cells, which produce insulin. People with Type 1 diabetes must get their insulin from injections or ingestion, a cumbersome and often imprecise task. Too little insulin and blood sugar levels stay high for extended periods, potentially damaging the body; too much and blood sugar levels crash, possibly causing a person with diabetes to faint or experience an even worse problems, such as a stroke. DeFronzo’s partner, Bruno Doiron, decided to see whether the body could reliably produce insulin without transplanting new cells. He used a “gene transfer” technique on mice, delivered via a virus, that activated insulin production in cells already in the pancreas — for instance, those that produced certain enzymes. “We’re not fundamentally changing the cell,” DeFronzo said. “We’re just giving it one additional task.” The mice immune systems did not attack the new insulin-producing cells. Most important, according to the findings: The cells produced the right amount of insulin: not so much that they sent a mouse into a blood sugar free fall, not so little that blood sugar levels stayed high. The mice have shown no sign of diabetes for more than a year, according to the findings. Quite a bit of work remains before testing will start on people. If they can raise enough money — they estimate $5 million to $10 million — they can proceed to testing on larger animals, such as pigs, dogs or primates, a next step that would be planned in conjunction with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They hope to start human trials in three years. DeFronzo and Doiron said they expect skepticism but said much of it will be driven by how unconventional their work is. Doiron added that, although the technique is unconventional in the context of diabetes, using a virus to deliver a gene transfer is an established technique, having been approved dozens of times by the FDA to treat diseases. “We can use the cells the body has naturally,” Doiron said. “This will simply wake up the cells to produce insulin.” Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes The work of Bruno Doiron and Ralph DeFronzo focuses on Type 1 diabetes, not Type 2. Both diseases involve a problem with insulin, the substance that healthy bodies produce to take sugar from the bloodstream into the cells and power the body. Type 2 is far more common. The main issue is that the cells reject insulin, causing sugar to build up in the bloodstream. The common treatment is a pill that makes the cells accept the insulin (and sugar it carries into the cell). But over time, people with Type 2 diabetes often lose the ability to produce insulin. With Type 1 diabetes, people simply stop producing insulin. Their bodies kill off the cells in the pancreas that produce it. Those with Type 1 diabetes must inject or ingest insulin. People with Type 2 often grow increasingly dependent on insulin injections, though Type 2 can sometimes be cured or controlled through diet and exercise.