Monthly Archives: March 2014


The climate between the Obama Administration and the press corps is in a difficult and challenging period. Washington Post reporter Paul Farhi was at the University of Idaho Friday to talk about the relationship between official Washington and the press corps that covers it. Idaho Public Radio’s Rebecca Johnson has more. (:55)

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Farhi says there are a lot of ways in which the White House and other federal agencies can use social media to bypass the press, and there’s a certain amount of resentment about that among reporters.

But Farhi also says the legal climate has become hostile because of all the leak investigations launched by the Obama Administration:

Farhi: “George Bush’s administration began some of these things, some of these prosecutions against leaks and the reporters who pursue those leaks, but the Obama Administration has picked up the ball and run with it, and they have had eight major national security leak prosecutions that have affected the media.”

Farhi says the current climate between reporters and the White House is something that has been building over the years. The key turning point, he says, was 9/11, and all of the security concerns that grew out of that.

For Idaho Public Radio, I’m Rebecca Johnson.

Season Ends for Idaho WBB with a 88- 42 Loss to Louisville

The run is over for the University of Idaho women’s basketball team.

Sunday’s 88- 42 loss to Louisville in the NCAA Tournament ended a season for the Vandals (25- 9 overall, 15- 1 in WAC play) in which the team won the regular season title in the Western Athletic Conference, won the WAC Tournament title for the second year in a row, and appeared in the national tournament for the second year in a row.

“It’s a tough way to end what for us was a great season,” Idaho coach Jon Newlee said after the game. “We talked about our goals of winning the regular season WAC title, winning the tourney title, and getting back to back in the NCAA Tournament. The only goal we didn’t achieve was going further in the NCAA Tournament.”

“I’d like to congratulate Idaho on a fantastic season,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said in his post- game press conference.




(Idaho’s Ali Forde in action against Louisville Sunday.Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Becker)

Idaho’s scoring was led by sophomore Ali Forde, who finished with 16 points and eight rebounds.”This experience is a great experience to have,” Forde said. “Playing a team like Louisville, they’re obviously a great team, it makes us better.”

For Idaho seniors Alyssa Charlston and Addie Schivo, the loss also brought an end to their athletic careers at Idaho. Charlston called her decision to attend the University of Idaho the best decision she ever made.

“I mean, it’s emotional,” Charlston said after the game. “Any last game is going to be emotional. But, wow, what a ride it’s been. It’s been incredible.”

Idaho WBB Set to Go Against Louisville in NCAA Tournament Sunday

Idaho women’s basketball head coach Jon Newlee laughed a bit when he was asked during a press availability what his biggest concern with Louisville was.

“Where do I start?” Newlee answered, and laughed.

The #14 seed Idaho women (25- 8) will take on the #3 seed Louisville (30- 4) In the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament on Sunday. Game time is 2:30 p.m. PT. The winner of the game plays again on Tuesday.

“I think obviously they got a bunch of All Americans over there, led by Shoni Schimmel who is a fantastic player,” Newlee said. “They’re not a one person team. Their guys are big and strong.”


(L- R: Alyssa Charlston, Stacey Barr, and Jon Newlee. Photo courtesy of Idaho Vandals on Facebook)

Newlee and his players know the challenge they face. Newlee says he believes the day is coming when the women’s tournament will see the kind of upsets more common in the men’s tournament, such as this week’s Mercer win over Duke.

“I’ve been doing this a long time,” Newlee said, “I’ve seen the game grow a lot, 30 years of doing this. I do believe the party is coming. It’s not coming as quickly as the men’s side did.

“I do think the talent gap is closing just because the club teams and the recruiting is getting so much better. There’s so much more talented kids coming into programs now. They’re not all stockpiled at UConn and Tennessee like in the old days.”

One of Newlee’s star players, senior Alyssa Charlston, says the constant competition in practice has kept the team sharp. 

“Our coaches do a good job on keeping us focused and ready to go at all times,” Charlston said. “We expect ourselves to play at a high level every time we step on the court. I think we have a lot of good leadership on the team. That gets us ready for each game and competing every time.”

For Idaho, it’s the second year in a row the team has made it to the NCAA Tournament and the third time in team history. 

“Very excited to be here,” Newlee said. “Huge for our program, huge for the University of Idaho.”

Idaho Women ‘s Basketball Wins Another WAC Championship

“To have a team full of selfless individuals is a blessing to me.”

— Idaho women’s basketball head coach Jon Newlee

For the second year in a row, the University of Idaho women’s basketball team has won the Western Athletic Conference Championship, and will be competing in the NCAA Tournament.

The Idaho women defeated Seattle University this afternoon at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, 75- 67.


(Photo courtesy of Inside the Vandals)

Idaho’s Stacey Barr led Idaho scoring with 28 points, and was named tournament Most Valuable Player for the second year in a row. Teammate Alyssa Charlston (17 points) was named to the All-Tournament Team.

“What a feeling,” Newlee said after the game. “What a game.”

The win by the Idaho women on Saturday was their 25th of the season. NCAA Tournament pairings will be announced on Monday. Some bracket predictions have had Idaho playing its next game in Seattle.

Vandal players wore black arm bands in remembrance of teammate Connie Ballestero’s uncle, who passed away while visiting Las Vegas to see his niece play.

For the University of Idaho, the conference championship continues a successful year for Vandal Athletics in what is the university’s last season in the Western Athletic Conference. Idaho teams in women’s cross country, men’s indoor track & field, and women’s basketball have won WAC Championships this year, with the men’s basketball team playing in a WAC Championship game of its own at 7:00 p.m. PT on Saturday.

Two U- Idaho teams vie for WAC Championships Saturday

It didn’t take long after the University of Idaho men’s basketball team had defeated Utah Valley for the U_Idaho Twitter feed to declare Saturday “#WACvegas Championship Day.” 

Idaho Athletic Director Rob Spear had tweeted earlier, “Vandal Family we need you in Las Vegas.”

On Friday, both of Idaho’s basketball teams advanced to the championship game of their respective Western Athletic Conference Tournaments. The Idaho women defeated New Mexico State, 75- 65, while the men defeated Utah Valley, 74-69. 

For the Idaho women, it was a matter of falling behind early and then coming out strong in the second half to secure the team’s 24th win of the season.


(Photo courtesy of Western Athletic Conference)

“Our club was really resilient out there today,” head coach Jon Newlee said in the post-game press conference. “We got in that hole quickly…We took their best shot in the first half. Everything was kind of conspiring against us in the first half. We went into the locker room only down six and I felt really good about that. I knew we would come out and play Vandal basketball in the second half.”

Stacey Barr had 35 points to lead Idaho’s scoring.

For the Idaho men (16- 17 overall), the Friday night win means the team’s first trip to a conference championship game since 1993.


(Photo courtesy of Western Athletic Conference)

“What a great win for our program tonight,” head coach Don Verlin said after the game. “I couldn’t be happier for all the guys in the locker room and all the veterans who have waited so long for this.”

Stephen Madison had 25 points for Idaho, and moved into second place on the program’s all- time scoring list in the process.

Social media lit up following both of the university’s basketball wins. Fans and alumni traded cheers and investigated prices for last minute flights to Las Vegas.

The two wins set up the Idaho championship doubleheader on Saturday. The women will play Seattle U at 1:00 p.m. PT, while the men will play New Mexico State at 7:00 p.m. PT. Both championship games are at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas; both will be televised on ESPN- U.


A new University of Idaho computer is nicknamed “Big-STEM” and has more than four thousand times the memory of the average home computer. Idaho Public Radio’s Rebecca Johnson has more. (:45 )

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It doesn’t look much bigger on the outside than an average computer tower. But what’s inside is being called one of the most powerful computers of its kind in the United States.


(Photo courtesy University of Idaho)

University of Idaho researchers say the computer, known as Big- STEM, started with four terabytes of memory last fall, but will have eight terabytes of memory when it comes fully online this summer. That’s about four thousand times the memory of a home computer.

 The scientists say Big- STEM allows them to work quickly through complex sets of data. Their research so far has included studying ways to improve fuel economy, creating advanced river-flow models, and studying proteins in the human body.

 Funding for the project came from the National Science Foundation and the Murdock Charitable Trust.

 For Idaho Public Radio, I’m Rebecca Johnson.


Will guns be allowed on Idaho’s public college and university campuses? Governor Butch Otter will decide. Idaho Public Radio’s Glenn Mosley reports. (1:40  )

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College students opposed to allowing guns on the state’s public college and university campuses today delivered a petition with almost three thousand signatures to the office of Governor Butch Otter. The students say they also gave the governor 126 letters from faculty and 752 letters from students.

The message was the same as that delivered by opponents in recent legislative hearings on the bill:

Cassie Sullivan: “So with that I ask you to strongly oppose SB 1254.”

That is Cassie Sullivan, vice president of the Associated Students of Boise State University. She testified at the House hearing on the bill. The Idaho State Board of Education, the state’s eight public college and university presidents, and police chiefs across the state, including those in the university cities of Moscow and Boise, are among those in opposition to the bill.

Lawmakers, however, passed the bill with overwhelming support in both chambers of the Idaho State Legislature. Supporters cite the Second Amendment and say that students and faculty and anyone else on a college campus should be allowed to defend themselves. Those who support the bill include the Idaho Sheriff’s Association, the Idaho Fraternal Order of Police, and the group Idaho Carry.

The bill would allow retired law enforcement officers or those with the state’s enhanced concealed weapons permit to carry a gun on Idaho’s public college or university campuses. Guns would not be allowed in residence halls or at public venues which seat more than 1,000 people.

Under current Idaho law, the public colleges and universities can regulate guns on their own campuses, and all ban firearms under most circumstances.

I’m Glenn Mosley reporting.

On the web:

S. 1254:

Travolta, Bannon to Perform “Love Letters”

Actors Ellen Travolta and Jack Bannon are coming to the Palouse in April to put on a benefit for the Idaho Repertory Theatre. We spoke with Travolta about the play and the future of theatre. Idaho Public Radio’s Glenn Mosley reports.



Theatre has the power to change lives. That’s what the actor Ellen Travolta believes. And that’s one of the reasons she’s coming to the Palouse next month to perform Love Letters:

Ellen Travolta: “Sometimes I think people feel very isolated, and when they see a play and something is expressed, they can connect with it. And it can help support, or give them a different view, on their own life.”

Travolta and her husband, the actor Jack Bannon, are putting on a benefit performance of the A. R. Gurney play as a fundraiser for the Idaho Repertory Theatre, the summer theatre group at the University of Idaho in Moscow.


(Photo courtesy Barbara Mueller Photography)

Ellen Travolta believes in theatre, and the arts. She has appeared in films and on stage, and on television, and she says the arts are the way people express themselves.

However, she’s worried about the future of the theatre and wonders if people are still interested:

Ellen Travolta: “We love the theatre and we’re watching the slow demise of it, all across the country. People are not going to the theatre. There’s not a huge young generation of theatre goers.”

Travolta says those who work in theatre need to find a way to reach out to young people and bring them in.

Travolta and Bannon will perform Love Letters at the Hartung Theatre in Moscow on April 5th.

I’m Glenn Mosley reporting.

On the web:


Chuck Staben says he’s deeply honored to be president of the University of Idaho, and deeply committed to that task. He addressed the university on Monday, his third day on the job. Glenn Mosley reports. (:58   )

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Chuck Staben said he’s been greeted warmly by the university community and that he’s looking forward to living and working in Idaho. He acknowledged that the university faces challenges, including declining enrollment, tight budgets, and the need to improve salaries for faculty and staff. He says the university will embrace its statewide mission:

Chuck Staben: ‘We are a great public, research land grant university. In that tradition, we will excel in research and engagement, even as we face challenges in funding at the federal level. As you have been doing, we will continue to seek opportunities where our excellence can have impact.”


In his welcome address to the university on Monday, Staben said he is in listening and learning mode, and encouraged everyone to speak with him about the university.  

Staben is the 18th president in the history of the University of Idaho. He succeeds interim President Don Burnett, who had served since the departure of former president Duane Nellis last summer.

I’m Glenn Mosley reporting.

(Photo courtesy of University of Idaho)


Today is Don Burnett’s last day on the job as interim President of the University of Idaho. Dr. Chuck Staben now takes over as the university’s president. Glenn Mosley reports. (1:25)


(Photo courtesy University of Idaho)

It will come as no surprise to those who know him that Don Burnett spent his last day on the job as interim President of the University of Idaho working. He was in Boise to testify before the House State Affairs Committee in opposition to the guns on campus bill being considered by state lawmakers.

From the beginning of his tenure last summer, Burnett has spoken often and worked hard to remind people about what he calls the historical uniqueness of the state’s land grant institution:

Don Burnett: “The land grants, not all of which are public. MIT is a land grant, Dartmouth is a land grant, Cornell is a land grant. They are among the most storied universities in the country. There is a special group of them, the first group of land grants, which also were the comprehensive founding institutions in those states. The University of Idaho is in that group.”

Burnett often used The Friday Letter, the weekly communication from the President’s Office, to talk about the university’s mission and its place, as he sees it, in Idaho’s past and future. In his last such letter today, Burnett said he has been humbled and honored to serve. He will now return as a faculty member to the UI College of Law.

Chuck Staben, the new university president, will give an opening address on Monday.

I’m Glenn Mosley reporting.

The Friday Letter: