The Exchange

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The investigation into the Massachussetts gas explosions is ongoing. But opponents of this energy source are energized, and supporters are on the defense. We look at what the Bay State disaster says about existing regional infrastructure, and how it might affect current pipeline proposals.

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Among the 59 recommendations released earlier this summer by a special task force on school safety, one can be especially helpful in thwarting attacks, according to safety officials: An anonymous tip line - so that anyone seeing danger signs can report concerns without fear of retaliation.

Often potential attackers exhibit danger signs - and the sooner these are picked up on and reported to the right people, the more likely violence can be stopped, according to Perry Plummer, Director of N.H. Homeland Security and Emergency Management.  

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In July, Governor Sununu's School Safety Preparedness Task Force released a report with more than 50 recommendations addressing school safety, covering such issues as improving school culture by expanding social and emotional learning programs and fortifying school building by installing security cameras and special "Columbine" locks. (Scroll down to read the full report.)

Taking A Toll: The Opioid Crisis And N.H.'s Children

Sep 21, 2018
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We follow up on the recent series by NHPR's Morning Edition team, called "Taking A Toll," on the opioid epidemic's affect on kids. The series looked at a range of impacts on children and also talked to a wide array of Granite Staters who are trying to help. 

GUESTS: 

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American seniors are being duped out of billions of dollars a year, and con artists are getting more sophisticated all the time.  We're looking at what types of scams are on the rise, why prosecution of these cases can be difficult, and how best to prevent them. 

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Senator John McCain held more than 100 town-hall style meetings during his 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns in New Hampshire and became known for his "Straight Talk Express" tour of the state, engaging freely with voters and the press and casting himself as a candid politician willing to take on special interests.  McCain died on Saturday at his home in Arizona after a months-long battle with brain cancer.

One year after a white nationalist rally turned deadly in Virginia, we sit down with Granite Staters who watch these movements and reflect on the state of civil discourse in our state and our country.

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Gubernatorial candidate Steve Marchand will appear on NHPR's The Exchange Tuesday, Aug. 14, as part of the show's coverage of the 2018 primary elections.

Marchand, the former mayor of Portsmouth, is running for the Democratic nomination for governor. Also running is former state Senator Molly Kelly. Kelly was given the opportunity to appear with Marchand, but declined the show's invitation.

The winner of the Democratic primary on Tuesday, Sept. 11 will take on Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who is running unopposed.

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This year, New Hampshire is experiencing a 22 percent increase in traffic fatalities. With the relatively recent introduction of a hands-free driving law, and vehicle safety features increasing every year, it raises the question: What is driving this increase in traffic deaths? We check in with some of the people on the front lines of New Hampshire's highway safety, and ask what we can do to prevent more fatalities on our roads and highways. 

For the first time since 1996, the Libertarian Party has major party status and will be on the ballot. There's also a primary battle brewing between two Libertarian candidates for governor. On Tuesday, we sit down with Aaron Day of Bedford and Jilletta Jarvis of Sandown to talk about the issues facing New Hampshire -- and find out how they would address them if they were elected governor. 

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A Check-Up For The Affordable Care Act

Jul 27, 2018
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This controversial health care law has undergone some changes since it was signed eight years ago, particularly under the Trump Administration.  We find what that means for the Granite State and what's in store for the Affordable Care Act in the months ahead. 

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By August 13, New Hampshire must submit its application for $23 million in federal funds to help fight the opioid crisis.   It's far from a blank check, however. The 81-page application includes numerous requirements and focuses on medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction, as well as prevention and recovery services.  Whether that includes mental health services and other approaches that address underlying causes of addiction is unclear.  Also, even as opioids continue to get much of the attention, methamphetamine has emerged as the new lethal drug.  Still, the influx of millions in funding is heartening for many on the frontlines of this opioid crisis. 

Call Me American: A Memoir by Abdi Nor Iftin

Jul 16, 2018

As a child in Somalia, Abdi Nor Iftin learned English by watching American action-hero films and listening to American pop stars.  His love of all things American  earned him the nickname Abdi American. But when the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab rose to power in 2006, familiarity with Western culture became something to hide.  Abdi began sending secret dispatches to NPR about worsening conditions in Somalia. After a long and arduous journey, Abdi found his way from Mogadishu to Maine, where he works as an interpreter while attending college.  

We'll talk with Abdi about his life here in the United States and about life in Somalia, one of the countries covered under the travel ban recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Most of his family remains in Somalia. 

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Last week, the city of Dover became the first New Hampshire municipality to raise their smoking age from 18 to 21. The new city ordinance prohibits anyone under 21 from buying, using or possessing tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vaping devices. We look at what kind of impact this law may have on the Dover community, and the state as a whole, and look at similar legislation in Maine and Massachusetts. 

Later in the hour, an update on marijuana legalization across New England. 

Studies have shown that reading over summer vacation keeps kids' brains active and reduces stagnation or setbacks in reading levels (known as the "summer slide"). But how often do kids and teenagers read for pleasure these days? We talk with educators, librarians and authors about why independent reading is so important, what books appeal to kids nowadays, and what strategies help encouraage kids to open a book this summer.

A Review of Recent SCOTUS Rulings

Jun 24, 2018
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It's been a busy few weeks at the U.S. Supreme Court. We'll focus on several recent decisions  addressing online business, digital privacy, religious freedom, and sports betting.  The online-sales ruling in particular has made big waves here in New Hampshire. 

Weekly N.H. News Roundup: June 22, 2018

Jun 22, 2018

Governor Sununu issues several vetoes, including a long-promised veto of the death penalty repeal that passed this spring. An immigration checkpoint on I 93 results in five arrests -- and more controversy.

And data released by the federal government suggests chemicals known as PFAS may be risky at lower levels than regulated by New Hampshire.

This week's Roundup is hosted by Lauren Chooljian, politics and policy reporter for NHPR's State of Democracy project.

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This smoking alternative is sweeping schools nationwide and causing concern.  JUULs are small and easy to hide; they look like a flash drive and come in delicious-smelling flavors.  But manufacturers say their product is squarely aimed at adult smokers, to help them quit.  We look at the arguments. 

This is a rebroadcast of a show that originally aired live on April 25, 2018. 

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There are at least 50 species of non-native insects established in the state, including the Emerald Ash Borer, which has devastated the local ash tree population. Poised to join this list is another wood-boring bug, which could have a similar impact on more of New Hampshire’s trees: the Southern Pine Beetle.

“In New Hampshire, we live in a global hotspot of non-native forest insects,” said Matthew Ayres, Professor of Biological Sciences at Dartmouth.

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Former state senator Molly Kelly explains why she's running for governor and addresses the big issues facing the state, including the opioid epidemic, public education funding, and New Hampshire's energy future.

Kelly is running against former Portsmouth mayor Steve Marchand in the Democratic primary.  The winner will face Governor Chris Sununu. 

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Since moving into the state in 2013, the invasive Emerald Ash Borer has been diminishing local ash tree poplations. Now, New Hampshire's forrests face a threat from another non-native insect: The Southern Pine Beetle. On Monday, June 18, the Exchange discusses the these two wood-boring beetles and their impact on New Hampshire, how they got here, and what we can do to fight back.

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Several high-profile suicides have been the focus of a national conversation, and recent numbers show that the rate in New Hampshire is up nearly 50 percent over the past 20 years. The Exchange on Thursday, June 14, will examine what's causing this rise in suicide deaths, and how N.H. is approaching this difficult topic. 

On Thursday, June 14, we're discussing suicide in New Hampshire and efforts underway to prevent it.

Suicide rates were up 48.3 percent from 1999 - 2016 in the Granite State, according to a recent report from the CDC.  We'll examine what might be contributing to this, as well as the latest thinking on how to discuss and prevent suicide.  Submit your questions below. 

Mental health professionals urge people suffering from suicidal thoughts to seek help by contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is available 24 hours a day at (800) 273-8255.

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New Hampshire Department of Corrections Commissioner Helen Hanks says only patients whose mental illness drives them to extreme violence end up in the state prison’s secure psychiatric unit, and it’s a small group -- on average occupying about 10 of the unit’s 66 beds every year.  

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It's been called one of the toughest jobs in the state: Commissioner of the Department of Corrections. Since last November, Helen Hanks has held the position, overseeing three prisons, probation offices, and transitional housing units.  Also on her watch:  The opening of a new women's prison after a long legal battle over equal treatment for female prisoners, and protests over the practice of housing non-criminal patients in the state prison's secure psychiatric unit.

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New Hampshire residents have long known the risks of contracting diseases like Lyme and West Nile from a tick or mosquito bite, but a recent report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there’s even more to worry about.

The CDC is now tracking 16 of these “vector-borne diseases” and says the number of cases has tripled between 2004 and 2016.

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Neighbors at the Coakley Landfill Superfund site in Greenland met privately with top EPA officials on Monday to discuss a long-standing concern: high levels of potentially toxic PFAS chemicals in a brook that runs alongside the landfill. 

Local residents handed New England EPA Administrator Alexandra Dunn a petition asking the agency to compell the group responnsible for the site's contamination to take several actions, including expanding testing of residential wells and installing water filters at homes and schools around the landfill. 

We get an update on the Coakley site, as well as other areas dealing with drinking-water contamination, from NHPR's Energy and Environment reporter Annie Ropeik. 

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The opioid crisis has forced physicians to rethink their prescribing practices, and many are providing fewer opioid prescriptions, potentially leaving some patients without proper pain management.

Tighter regulations and insurance requirements have reduced overprescribing, but many say this makes it difficult for patients with both acute and chronic pain to find the help they need.

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In the first of our four-day In-Depth series, The Exchange explored whether mental health care in New Hampshire has improved since the state agreed to invest more in the system  — part of a 2014 legal settlement. All agreed there's been progress. There's more help for people in crisis and more transitional housing.

But there's still plenty of room for improvement, including on permanent-housing arrrangements and reimbursement rates for struggling community mental health centers.  

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Jeffrey Meyers, Commissioner of the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services, says his agency is beefing up oversight of substance use disorder treatment centers that have been struggling to stay afloat or that have closed altogether after financial struggles – a situation the state can ill afford in the midst of the opioid crisis.  

Speaking on The Exchange, Meyers said the state is auditing these organizations regularly.

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