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Judge Orders Bank Of America To Pay $1.3 Billion Fine

KPLU News - 18 min 31 sec ago
A federal judge has ordered Bank of America to pay a $1.27 billion fine for fraud perpetrated by Countrywide Financial Corp., a mortgage company the bank acquired in 2008.

Last October, a jury held Bank of America liable for bad loans Countrywide sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as part of its "Hustle" mortgage-lending program as the housing market soured in 2007 and 2008.

In his ruling Wednesday, Federal District Judge Jed Rakoff did not mince

Boeing Will Handle Final Assembly Of 787-10 In South Carolina, Not Washington

KPLU News - 1 hour 29 min ago

Boeing says final assembly of its 787-10 plane, a planned larger version of its "Dreamliner" aircraft, will take place in South Carolina.

The company says the work will be done in North Charleston, South Carolina, because the plane is too large to efficiently transport it from North Charleston to a facility in Washington state. The 787-10 is still being designed and Boeing expects to start final assembly of the first planes in 2017.

'Sharknado 2': Winner And Still Chomp

KPLU News - 1 hour 31 min ago
I personally was responsible for emotionally bullying at least two of my critic friends into attending the poolside screening of Sharknado 2 that took place at the hotel where press tour happened a couple of weeks ago. I make this confession because we must establish the basic understanding that I am merciless when it comes to attempting to con people into watching extraordinarily silly movies. In fact, I tried, when the first Sharknado was on, to goad the NPR morning news meeting into caring about it ("There's this movie tonight!

Should America Keep Its Aging Nuclear Missiles?

KPLU News - 1 hour 37 min ago
Sixty feet beneath western Nebraska, Lt. Raj Bansal sits in front of an ancient-looking computer console used to monitor 10 nuclear missiles.

Everything in this command bunker feels outdated, including the tiny toilet. It's working today, but like a lot of equipment down here, it doesn't always. Bansal points to a drain under the command post.

"At some point, sewage has flooded this bottom area," he says. "It smells awful."

For decades, the United States has kept hundreds of nuclear-armed missiles on alert.

Women Defy Turkey's Deputy PM, Who Said Women Shouldn't Laugh In Public

KPLU News - 2 hours 32 min ago
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç stirred some controversy on Monday, when during an Eid el-Fitr speech, he said chaste women should not laugh in public.

"Chastity is so important," Arınç said, according to the Hurriyet Daily News. "It is not only a name. It is an ornament for both women and men. [She] will have chasteness. Man will have it, too. He will not be a womanizer. He will be bound to his wife. He will love his children.

Pop-Up Books Make Environmental Science Easy-Peasy For Kids

KPLU News - 3 hours 11 min ago
For the average school kid, weighty, wonky topics like conservation, climate change and the circular economy might sound off-putting, if not downright dull. Yet Christiane Dorion has sold millions of children's books about these very concepts.

The trick? She never mentions them. "You can teach anything to children if you pitch it at the right level and use the right words," said the U.K.-based author.

Dorion distills hefty environmental concepts into bite-sized, kid-friendly explanations.

Some Loyal Foursquare Users Are Checking Out After Swarm Spinoff

KPLU News - 3 hours 12 min ago


Problem Drinking In Midlife Linked To Memory Trouble Later

KPLU News - 3 hours 12 min ago
To ward off big memory problems in your 70s and beyond you may want to cork the bottle more often now.

In a study of 6,500 people published this week, adults with a midlife history of drinking problems were more than twice as likely as those without alcohol problems to suffer severe memory impairment decades later.

Researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School, in Exeter, England, analyzed the records of more than 6,542 American adults who had been tracked f

No End In Sight? No Problem!

KPLU News - 4 hours 15 min ago
Last week, I came across George Johnson's piece for The New York Times, "Beyond Energy, Matter, Time and Space," where he writes, in his usually engaging style, about two recent books with opposite viewpoints concerning what we can and cannot know of the world.

On the one hand, we find philosopher Thomas Nagel, and the arguments from his 2012 book Mind and Cosmos.

How Twitter Amplified An NRA Lobbyist's Comments About Anti-Gun Jews

KPLU News - 4 hours 22 min ago

Supporters of a Washington gun control measure on the November ballot may have just gotten a mid-summer boost. They’re capitalizing on an audio recording that recently surfaced.

The hard-to-understand audio recording first appeared on the left-wing blog “Horses Ass.” The blog’s author said the audio is of NRA lobbyist Brian Judy speaking recently to a pro-gun group. Judy questioned Jewish people who are anti-guns.

UCLA Floods As Water Main Break Dumps Up To 10 Million Gallons

KPLU News - 4 hours 31 min ago
A 90-year-old water main broke near the University of California, Los Angeles, on Tuesday, spilling 8 million to 10 million gallons of water.

As The Los Angeles Times explains, officials are facing some tough questions this morning because it took them about four hours to figure out which valve needed to be closed.

Pierce County Becomes First In Northwest To Approve 'In God We Trust' Motto Display

KPLU News - 4 hours 37 min ago

A divided county council in Pierce County, Washington Tuesday voted to display the motto "In God We Trust" in its chambers, becoming the first jurisdiction in the Northwest to take part in a national campaign to feature the motto.

But the approval came with a twist.

WATCH: Video Shows Women Narrowly Escape Death On Railroad Tracks

KPLU News - 4 hours 47 min ago


Inslee Touring Wash. Sites That Show Costs Of Climate Change

KPLU News - 9 hours 13 min ago

Gov. Jay Inslee took a walk Tuesday through King County’s wastewater facility in Discovery Park on Tuesday as part of his tour of sites affected by climate change. 

To Bee Or Not To Bee: That Is The Question For Nancy Leson

KPLU News - 9 hours 13 min ago

Nancy Leson's got a brand new bag, and it's full of bees.

In a recent Seattle Times piece about backyard beekeeping, she expressed interest in keeping bees in her backyard. In this week's "Food for Thought" I suggested that she leave them where they always were — in her bonnet. Ms. Leson begged to differ.

BNSF’s Proposal For One-Person Train Crews Concerns Rail Workers

KPLU News - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 16:44

Railroad workers are speaking out against a proposal by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway to have single-employee freight train crews. They say the idea is unsafe, especially in light of the increasing transportation of crude oil by rail.

Patty Murray Praises VA Reforms But Warns Of More Troubling Revelations

KPLU News - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 16:33

Washington’s senior U.S. Sen. Patty Murray says a new deal to spend billions on fixing the Department of Veterans Affairs is an essential step, but she warns the reform efforts are likely to unearth even more problems.

Bipartisan negotiators in Congress took a while to settle on a $17 billion package of reforms meant to address long waits for care at VA hospitals and clinics across the country.

As the Senate voted to confirm Robert McDonald as the new VA Secretary, Murray, the former chairwoman of the Senate veterans affairs committee, praised both the nominee and the reforms he’ll be overseeing. But she also warned there could be more troubling revelations to come.

How Blind Seattle-Area Climber Bruce Stobie Fared On North America's Tallest Peak

KPLU News - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 12:39

Editor’s note: This piece is an update to our previous story on Bruce Stobie, which ran in May. 

When Bruce Stobie arrived at Denali last month, he could feel the presence of the mountain, even if he couldn’t see it.

“I felt like a guest — not a welcome guest,” said the blind climber from Des Moines, Washington. “All there was: rock, ice and snow. And cold and warm temperatures. And that’s it. There’s nothing else.”

How blind Seattle-area climber Bruce Stobie fared on North America’s tallest peak

Quirksee - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 12:04

Editor’s note: This piece is an update to our previous story on Bruce Stobie, which ran in May. 

When Bruce Stobie arrived at Denali last month, he could feel the presence of the mountain, even if he couldn’t see it.

“I felt like a guest — not a welcome guest,” said the blind climber from Des Moines, Washington. “All there was: rock, ice and snow. And cold and warm temperatures. And that’s it. There’s nothing else.”

But 51-year-old Stobie was prepared for a difficult journey to the top. He’d been training hard for nine months in hopes of summiting North America’s tallest peak. He’d already summited Mount Rainier five years prior with the help of two guides. This time, he wanted to conquer the peak that towers more than 21,000 feet over Alaska.

And so he and two guides set out for what they expected to be a three-week climb to the top.

Bruce Stobie, left, is seen with a fellow climber. (Courtesy of Mark McCcracken.)

A strong start despite the scorching sun

“We started out strong. There was basically three days of hard climbing. The first day, we carry all the gear, basically for six miles, but it’s all flat. From that point on, the loads are broken up and you carry what you need to up the mountain,” Stobie said.

Stobie felt prepared. Even the wild swings in weather from day to night seemed manageable.

“When the sun came out, it came out hard and strong. And then on the other hand, the cold. We weren’t there for the worst of it. I believe it got down to minus 20 [degrees Fahrenheit], to minus 25, and that was chilling, to say the least,” Stobie said.

The crew aimed for alpine starts, setting out at 1, 2, 3 a.m. to gain ground before the sun grew too strong.

At night, a ‘total void of noises’

“I obviously did not see anything of the environment,” said Stobie. But it so happened it was his guide Josh’s first time on the mountain, too, and Josh’s observations helped fill in the blanks. “So I lived vicariously through Josh, because he was, in a way, gobsmacked.”

But one of the most memorable moments didn’t require Josh’s eyes or words: the “total void of noises” at night.

“I would just hang out at night and it would be totally quiet. No noise. Absolutely no noise,” he said. “I cannot experience that down here. Even in the wilderness down here, there’s noise.”

A change in course

The crew had no problem reaching base camp at 14,000 feet, the height of Mount Rainier. But when they switched from snowshoes to crampons, the terrain  — and the journey — took a turn.

Stobie’s feet began slipping on the steep, 55-degree slopes covered in powdered-sugar snow.

“I was taking two steps instead of every one step, and I wasted a lot of energy,” he said. “Basically I was inefficient in my foot movement, and as the terrain got steeper, that inefficiency became more obvious.”

The crew reached 16,200 feet on the ropes during an especially difficult day that stretched 10 long hours. But it soon became clear their journey would end before the summit.

“I was breathing harder than I needed to. You know, with the higher altitudes, there was no room or tolerance for inefficiency,” Stobie said. “That night, I had an anxiety attack in the tent and had trouble breathing … Imagine being just maxed out on just breathing and not getting enough air.”

The following morning, Stobie went to see a doctor at base camp for a precautionary checkup. A clean bill of health left him with a heavy decision: Push on or turn back?

“I kind of struggled back and forth with it, but I think intuitively, I knew it was the right thing to do. I liked to visualize climbing and moving, and seeing the summit. And I was not seeing that happen, especially after that really long day. I knew what I was going into,” he said. “It was just not getting any better. And it was like, ‘OK, I’m done.’”

Bruce Stobie’s wife, Gwyn Stobie, snapped this photo shortly after his descent from Denali. (Courtesy of Gwyn Stobie)

‘Being on the mountain, it definitely exposed things’

Stobie and his guides decided to come down the mountain. It took eight hours to reverse the efforts of their two-week climb.

“Definitely, being on the mountain, it definitely exposed things, like this inefficiency in movement,” he said.” You know, had I been 10,000 feet lower, that would’ve been fun. I would’ve figured it out. There was just not any luxury of doing that [at high elevation].”

Now, three weeks later, Stobie still hasn’t fully processed his experience. He’s disappointed he didn’t summit, but he says he’s not done trying yet. And when he returns, he plans to be better prepared for tackling steep slopes with crampons.

“I would say that it was an adventure that I was looking for, and it was an adventure that I got. It was both an external one and an internal one,” he said. “The important thing is I was up there, doing my best.”

Fist Bumps Pass Along Fewer Germs Than Handshakes

KPLU News - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 11:20
A few weeks ago, we took a look at nonverbal greetings around the world. In Japan, they bow. Ethiopian men touch shoulders.