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ISU study finds “pro-social” video games help kids gain caring skills


January 2nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A study led by researchers at Iowa State University finds pro-social video games have a positive influence on the kids who play them across a host of cultures, in the U-S and in seven other countries. Doug Gentile, an I-S-U psychology professor, says with more exposure to pro-social media, including video games that portray caring and cooperative behaviors resulted in higher levels of pro-social behavior.

“It is important that parents are paying attention to the games their kids play,” Gentile says. “The games have an impact well beyond just the time they’re playing. In fact, we’re seeing kids across time across years, if they’re playing pro-social games, they end up being more helpful and cooperative in the real world two years later.” In one segment of the international study, more than three-thousand young people in Singapore were studied in third, fourth, seventh and eighth grades. Over two years, students who played violent games became less likely to show empathy and behave in helpful ways, while those who played pro-social games became more empathetic and helpful.

“Parents are in a much more powerful position than they realize,” Gentile says. “They do need to pay attention to the ratings on the games and choose that have themes that they want their kids to be practicing.” One of his favorite pro-social video games is called “Animal Crossing.” Gentile says the character you play in the game has just moved to a new town and has to buy a house and get a job to pay the mortgage.

“The way you play the game is, you go around the town and you meet your neighbors and they ask you to do little favors for them, you know, carry this to another person,” Gentile says. “As you do all these favors, you’re helping to build a community and you’re doing these things that are helpful and cooperative in your community.” The most popular games tend to be violent, and I-S-U researchers say violent games can produce harmful effects on players. They note, nonviolent games with lots of pro-social content produce positive effects on children. For the study, researchers surveyed young people in Australia, China, Croatia, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Romania and the United States.

(Radio Iowa)

Bobcat population flourishing in Iowa

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 2nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Bobcat sightings in Iowa raise a lot of concern in the past year as the small cats were sometimes mistaken for mountain lions. The first bobcat season was held in Iowa in 2007. D-N-R furbearer biologist, Vince Evelsizer, says the return of the bobcats to Iowa is a good wildlife story. “The bobcat population is stable to increasing in some areas, and so overall it has been generally a very successful wildlife story for Iowa that all Iowans can be excited about,” Evelsizer says. The bobcat population is mainly in the southern part of the state.

The first season began with a quota for hunters that ended the season once 150 animals had been taken. That quota gradually increased to 450 last season. But Evelsizer says they felt the population was strong enough to not limit the amount of animals taken. “This year the quota was lifted, but the bag possession limit was still one per fur harvester. What it did is it gave both trappers and predator hunters a chance to harvest their animal later into the season,” Evelsizer says. It appears the bobcat season has gone well with the change.

“So far feedback has been positive in that they appreciate that opportunity,” Evelsizer says. “Success has been variable around the southern part of the state — with some folks doing well and other not as well as they hoped to. I think some of that is the cold weather that set in earlier this year.” The bobcat population came back without special help form the state. Otters on the other hand got some help being reintroduced into Iowa waters. Evelsizer says the otter limit was reduced from three to two this year to prevent too many from being taken.

“That population is doing fairly well statewide. They’re doing the best in the eastern half of the state — especially in the Cedar and Iowa River watersheds,” according to Evelsizer. To find out more about the bobcat and otter seasons, go to the Iowa D-N-R’s website at: www.iowadnr.gov.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa News Headlines: Thu., Jan. 2nd 2014


January 2nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press…

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa’s 21 publicly traded companies had a great year in the market. Share prices for all 21 went up in 2013 and all but four of them beat the Dow Jones industrial average, which had its best year since 1995.

POCAHONTAS, Iowa (AP) — An Army Reserve unit in north-central Iowa has been called up for duty in Afghanistan. A deployment ceremony is scheduled for Jan. 18 for the 415th Military Police Detachment (Law and Order). The unit was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010.

ASHTON, Iowa (AP) — Officials are blaming the cold weather for a train derailment in northwest Iowa. The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office says more than a dozen cars came off the tracks Tuesday morning along Iowa Highway 60 south of Ashton. National Weather Service records show subzero temperatures have chilled the area in recent days.

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State will hold a public visitation to honor former basketball coach Johnny Orr, who died Tuesday at age 86. The doors to Hilton Coliseum in Ames will open at 1 p.m. Thursday for the visitation. Orr led the Cyclones from 1980 until 1994.

Alarm system alerts authorities to residential fire


January 1st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

An alarm system alerted authorities in Mills County to a residential fire Tuesday night. The Sheriff’s Office says Mills County dispatch received a report at around 9:30-p.m. of an alarm at 16683 Alcorn Avenue in rural Council Bluffs. The call came from a security company. Mills County Deputies and the Iowa State Patrol responded to the scene.

Upon their arrival, officers entered the residence to find it filling with smoke and several alarms being reported by the security company. Law enforcement left the home and called for fire and rescue personnel. Firefighters from Pacific Junction and Glenwood Fire and Rescue, along with personnel from Oak Township and Lewis Township Fire responded to the scene.

The home’s owner, 69-year old Gerald Nibbe, was in Omaha visiting his son at home at the time of the alarm, and arrived at the home he’s lived in since the 1970′s, after being notified by the alarm company. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Two classic cars, which were located in a garage next to the house, were among the items damaged in the blaze.

Iowans warned about new scam that sounds very legit


January 1st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Internal Revenue Service is warning Iowans about a sophisticated telephone scam targeting taxpayers. Christopher Miller, the I-R-S spokesman for Iowa, says anyone may be at risk for getting one of these calls, but the con artists are also singling out recent immigrants, who may be easier prey. “The victims are told that they owe money to the IRS and that the money has to be paid promptly through a preloaded debit card or a wire transfer,” Miller says. “If they refuse, they are threatened with arrest or deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license.”

The scam is being used on taxpayers in nearly every state in the country — and he says they are calling Iowans. Miller says the agency wants to educate taxpayers so they can protect themselves. “We want everyone to understand that the IRS will not ask for credit card numbers over the phone or request prepaid debit card or wire transfer information to settle a tax problem,” Miller says. “That’s not the way it works.” The first I-R-S contact with taxpayers on a tax issue is likely to occur via mail, he says, not a phone call. Miller says this scam is particularly troubling as the con artists, in many cases, have gone to great lengths to appear legitimate.

“Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers and they may even be able to recite the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security number, which is scary,” Miller says. “They have even figured out a way of ‘spoofing’ the IRS toll-free number so it shows up on your Caller ID.” Some scammers have sent bogus I-R-S emails to victims to support their bogus calls. Victims may also hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic an I-R-S call site.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the I-R-S and you might owe taxes, Miller says to call the agency at 800-829-1040 to see if there really is an issue. Otherwise, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.

(Radio Iowa)

Cass Co. Supervisors to act on appointments and admin. matters, Thursday


January 1st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Board of Supervisors will hold their first meeting of the new year Thursday, beginning at 9-a.m. On their agenda, is a Resolution calling for the appointment of a deputy Recorder, and an increase in the number of deputies from one, to two, along with the approval of an appointment, with regard to a change in classification of an employee in the Recorder’s Office, from Recorder’s Assistant to Deputy Recorder.

The Board will also act on several administrative matters, including the selection of a Board Chair and Vice-Chair for 2014, the first year of wage adjustments, appointment of Board members to serve on committees, and a Resolution for Livestock Facility Construction Evaluation, otherwise known as the “Master Matrix.”

(Podcast) Area & western IA News: Wed., Jan. 1st 2014

News, Podcasts

January 1st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

With KJAN News Director Ric Hanson…


Special Weather Statement: Slick roads possible this morning

News, Weather

January 1st, 2014 by Ric Hanson


636 AM CST WED JAN 1 2014



Rollover accident in Atlantic Wed. morning


January 1st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Less than 2-hours into the new year, the first rollover accident was reported in Cass County, Wednesday (Today). According to dispatch reports, a call was received about a rollover accident on Buck Creek Road in Atlantic, about one-quarter of a mile north of the compost pile, at around 1:35-a.m. Atlantic Police were first to arrive on the scene. Atlantic Fire and Rescue and Medivac Ambulance crews also responded.

Officers indicated a male subject was trapped in the vehicle, a black Dodge Dakota pickup. He was extricated and treated for what were described as non-life threatening injuries. Authorities were investigating whether the same vehicle may have been involved in an earlier  property damage hit-and-run incident near Rumor’s Lounge, in the Atlantic Shopping Plaza.

No other details were available early this (Wednesday) morning.

Rules for young drivers change today


January 1st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Young drivers will now have to put in a little more learning time before they can take the wheel on their own and drive. D-O-T Motor Vehicle Division director, Mark Lowe, says the law changes with the new year. “In the past you could get an intermediate license after passing driver’s ed and having an instruction permit for six months. And that’s going to increase from six months to 12 months now,” Lowe says. “And the idea behind that is to make sure that young drivers have had more time driving with supervision, more time learning, hopefully more learning experience in all weather conditions.”

There is also another restriction that parents can have put on the young drivers. “During the first six months of driving on an intermediate license the teen driver can’t have more than one unrelated passenger in the vehicle with them. That is a restriction that the parents have to agree to,” Lowe says. He says driver will have to follow the decision parents make on allowing more passengers. “If they chose to accept the restriction, then the restriction will be printed on the license that will indicate that they have a passenger limit,” Lowe says. “If they chose to wave the limit, then it simply won’t have that restriction printed on the license.” Lowe says the passenger limit is designed to limit distractions.

“For teens, that’s another step forward in the driving experience as they start to drive without adult supervision. And that first six months is really some of the most critical and some of the most dangerous time for them as they are gaining that experience. So reducing passengers reduces distractions,” according to Lowe. He says the studies have found new drivers are more responsible without friends in the car. “The presence of other teens sometimes compels drivers to take risks they otherwise wouldn’t, so limiting that during the first six months is another safety strategy to help them gain experience safely,” according to Lowe.

The new law applies to all drivers holding a minor school license, even if the drivers got the license before January.

(Radio Iowa)