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For Two Years, He Smuggled Photos Of Torture Victims Out Of Syria

KPLU News - 3 hours 35 min ago
Warning: This report contains descriptions and an image that could disturb some readers.

The savage and protracted conflict in Syria has left more than 170,000 dead.

Could Specialty Cocoa Be Haiti's Golden Ticket To Prosperity?

KPLU News - 4 hours 13 min ago
In Robillard, a tiny hamlet deep in the Haitian hinterland, Valmir Mamonvil is standing next to a would-be national hero: Maman Pye cacao, which in Haitian Creole means "mother cacao tree." His father planted it 30 years ago, but for Mamonvil, the tree is more than a family heirloom. It could be his kids' ticket to prosperity — and his country's chance to cash in on surging chocolate demand around the world.

Maman Pye is one of about 600 "supertrees" scattered throughout northern Haiti. Supertrees are not unique to Haiti. They don't even seem remarkable, until you look closer.

Medicare's Costs Stabilize, But Its Problems Are Far From Fixed

KPLU News - 4 hours 16 min ago
Medicare's Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, which finances about half of the health program for seniors and the disabled, won't run out of money until 2030, the program's trustees said Monday. That's four years later than projected last year, and 13 years later than projected the year before the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

But that's not the case for the part of Social Security that pays for people getting disability benefits.

Blue Angels' Flights Won't Damage Hearing, But Will Affect Traffic

KPLU News - 4 hours 21 min ago

People can expect to hear the roar of the Blue Angels zooming above Lake Washington this weekend. After missing last year’s Boeing Seafair Air Show due to sequestration cuts, the Blue Angels are returning to Seattle on Thursday, July 31.

The noise of the planes may be bothersome to neighbors, but audiologist Susan Anderson says it doesn’t pose a health risk.

NCAA Reaches $75 Million Settlement In Head-Injury Lawsuit

KPLU News - 4 hours 24 min ago
The NCAA has reached a settlement with former athletes that provides $75 million for medical monitoring and research into head injuries. The settlement also calls for a change in the way schools handle head trauma.

As USA Today explains, the NCAA currently requires that member schools only have a concussion management plan.

Getting Hospice Care Shouldn't Have To Mean Giving Up

KPLU News - 4 hours 27 min ago
It's a painful dilemma for seriously ill Medicare patients: In order to receive the extra support, counseling and care provided by the program's hospice benefit they have to agree to stop receiving curative treatment for their disease.

Faced with that stark either-or choice, many forgo hospice care until the last days of their lives.

Penalties On Idaho Mine Still Unpaid Three Years After Miner's Death

KPLU News - 4 hours 30 min ago

It's been more than three years since a tunnel collapse at a north Idaho silver mine killed miner Larry Marek. Yet federal records show a series of federal penalties issued to the mine's owners still have not been paid.

In 2011, federal inspectors determined the Hecla Mining Company violated rules meant to prevent collapse at the Lucky Friday Mine. The inspectors issued four citations directly related to Larry Marek’s death with federal fines that totaled almost $360,000.

To this day, those fines remain unpaid.

Power Outages Persist In Fire-Swept North-Central Washington

KPLU News - 8 hours 51 min ago

The lights are coming back on in fire-swept north-central Washington. A major transmission line was restored late last week, but not everyone has their power back.

As of Monday about 900 customers remain in the dark as a result of the state’s largest wildfire.

Judge Orders Medical School To Reinstate Deaf Student

KPLU News - 8 hours 52 min ago

A Northwest medical school has been ordered to reinstate a deaf student who took the school to court after it wouldn't let him begin classes.

As KPLU reported last month, Zachary Featherstone sued Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima after it admitted him, then wouldn’t let him attend. The university said his admission might harm the training of other students and put patients at risk.

Tunnel Company Says Bertha Rescue Is Already A Month Behind Schedule

KPLU News - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 16:55

Just six weeks after the contractor managing the State Route 99 tunnel project laid out its timeline for getting back to digging, the company said it’s about a month behind on repairs to its tunneling machine.

Crews are working to burrow down from the surface to where the machine known as Bertha is sitting idle. An early step is to sink a circle of interlocking concrete pillars that will line the access shaft and protect surrounding structures, but that’s proving harder than what the company was planning for in mid-June.

USGS Tries Listening To Human Racket To Understand Seismic Hazards

KPLU News - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 05:00

Research geologists have just finished a field trial to test a less invasive way to complete seismic hazard surveys.

The federal scientists attempted to map an earthquake fault under Seattle simply by listening for underground echoes from all the noise we humans create at the surface.

Downtown Seattle Groups See Golden Opportunity For Their Own Neighborhood Public School

KPLU News - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 05:00

Seattle Public Schools officials may soon get their best opportunity in years to open a public elementary school downtown, and various downtown interests are now pressing district leaders to take advantage of it.

District officials submitted an application earlier this month to move into the vacant building at Second Avenue and Spring Street, which once housed a Federal Reserve Bank branch.

Federal agencies no longer want the property and are considering whether to deed the building to Seattle Public Schools practically free of charge. If the feds grant school officials' application, downtown groups want to make sure the district follows through.

Seattle Opera's Jenkins Looks Back At His Legacy, Including Making 'Colorblind’ Opera

KPLU News - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 05:00

Speight Jenkins is stepping down as general director of Seattle Opera after 31 years. And among the things he’s most proud of are the productions of two successful Ring cycles, surviving the economic recession by not resorting to just producing popular operas and advancing the opportunities for African-American men.

Former Seattle Mayor Paul Schell Dies

KPLU News - Mon, 07/28/2014 - 00:19

Former Seattle Mayor Paul Schell, who led the city during the World Trade Organization protests in 1999, has died. He was 76.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says Schell died Sunday morning.

Bill Anschell Trio at Tula's on Jazz Northwest

KPLU News - Sun, 07/27/2014 - 12:00

Pianist Bill Anschell is a Seattle native, though he's lived and toured around the US and internationally. Returning to Seattle to live, he quickly established himself as one of the key players through his own trio, accompanying singers and his regular appearance with Floyd Standifer at The New Orleans during the trumpet player's last years.

Seahawks Could Defend Super Bowl Title — If These Things Happen Now

KPLU News - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 09:40

The Seahawks are back at training camp this weekend in Renton. Fans, meanwhile, are looking ahead to the season with a big question on their minds: Can the team defend its championship?

“I think they’re in good position to do it, but it’s really hard,” said KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel.

Northwest Meth Houses To Get Scrubbed Under EPA Program

KPLU News - Sat, 07/26/2014 - 06:00

Federal dollars meant to restore toxic areas like old factories, mines and gas stations are now going to clean up after another longtime industry: methamphetamine.

For the first time, the EPA’s "Brownfields" program is covering the cleanup of former meth houses, and the inaugural sites are right here in the Northwest.

Fire Community Bands Together For Resources, Animals, Mental Health

KPLU News - Fri, 07/25/2014 - 17:53

The Carlton Complex fire has consumed 300 homes in north-central Washington, the Okanogan County sheriff said Friday. It’s too soon for many people to know what they lost in the fire, including homes, orchards, livestock and pets.