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Listen: Seattle Husband And Wife Find Fame Doing Voices For Video Games

KPLU News - 2 hours 30 min ago

Editor’s Note: This story works best as an audio experience, so we urge you to take a listen.

What if you poured your energy into becoming an opera singer, but then became famous for doing the voice of a computer in a blockbuster video game?

That’s the unexpected twist in Ellen McLain’s career. She’s performed countless roles in operas in Seattle and Tacoma and acted in many Seattle theaters.

Measure To Relax State Payday Loan Restrictions Awaits Vote

KPLU News - 2 hours 35 min ago

The commercial area around Joint Base Lewis-McChord holds four times as many payday lending offices as most similar-size areas in Washington State -- even as the U.S. military advocates against service members' use of short-term borrowing because of high interest rate and potentially lengthy debt cycles. 

Indeed, it was Department of Defense concerns that led Washington state to greatly restrict such loans in 2010. This has not dissuaded State Rep. Larry Springer (D-Kirkland) who wants to roll back such restrictions.

What Can #NOLASCHOOLS Teach Us?

KPLU News - 3 hours 32 min ago
What if you had to start your school system over almost from scratch? What if most of the buildings were unusable, and most of the teachers had left or been fired? Is that a nightmare, or your dream come true?

In New Orleans, that was the reality after the flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina. That set off a chain reaction that transformed the city's schools forever, first by a state takeover and then by the most extensive charter school system in the country.

Now some of the sweeping education changes that landed in New Orleans a decade ago are spreading all over the country.

Egypt's Former President Morsi Sentenced To 20 Years In Prison

KPLU News - 3 hours 46 min ago
Less than two years after he was removed from power by the military, an Egyptian court has sentenced former president Mohammed Morsi to 20 years in prison for the arrest and torture of protesters during his tenure.

The charges stem from the months of protests between late 2012 and July 2013, when Morsi was kicked out of office.

Twelve other defendants were also found guilty and received the same sentence as Morsi; they include former Muslim Brotherhood legislator Mohamed al-Beltagi and Essam al-Aryan, the group's former spokesman.

The defendants' attorneys say they will appeal the verdic

Palm Oil Plantations Are Blamed For Many Evils. But Change Is Coming

KPLU News - 5 hours 28 min ago
Palm oil is in everything, from pizza dough and chocolate to laundry detergent and lipstick.

Proposed Retirement Advice Rule Has Worrisome Loopholes, Experts Say

KPLU News - 5 hours 28 min ago
Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Construction Of Giant Telescope In Hawaii Draws Natives' Ire

KPLU News - 6 hours 37 min ago
In Hawaii, a battle is going on over the future of a mountaintop. Native Hawaiians say it's sacred ground, while astronomers say it's the best place in the world to build a massive, 18-story telescope.

This is not simply a story of religion versus science. Activists consider the construction of a giant telescope on the island of Hawaii to be a desecration of their sacred land.

On an overcast morning, barefoot men and women dance hula 9,200 feet above sea level, to a song honoring Mauna Kea, the mountain under their feet.

Solar Power Makes Electricity More Accessible On Navajo Reservation

KPLU News - 6 hours 38 min ago
Most people can't imagine living without smartphones or the Internet, let alone without electricity. But even today — even in the United States — there are still people who live without lights and refrigeration. Many are Native Americans living on tribal reservations.

For many, electricity is a luxury; it can even be magical. Derrick Terry remembers the first winter when there were lights on at his grandmother's house.

"You see the Christmas lights in the distance, it's like seeing that unicorn," he says.

What's At Stake If Supreme Court Eliminates Your Obamacare Subsidy

KPLU News - 6 hours 39 min ago
The Affordable Care Act requires all Americans to get health insurance or pay a penalty. To help coax people to buy a health plan, the federal government now subsidizes premiums for millions of Americans.

In just a couple of months, the Supreme Court will rule in a major case concerning those subsidies. The question to be decided is whether the law authorized that financial help nationwide, or just in the minority of states that set up their own insurance exchanges.

National Guard Seeks New Mission After War

KPLU News - 6 hours 41 min ago
NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live. We're calling the project "Back at Base." This is the first of four reports this week about the National Guard.

The Army spent billions of dollars getting the National Guard ready for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

HUD Will Fund More Housing Vouchers For Homeless Veterans In Seattle And King County

KPLU News - Mon, 04/20/2015 - 16:26

About 240 more homeless veterans in Washington state will soon have an option for permanent housing.

The federal government has teamed up with local officials across the country, including Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine, to tackle veteran homelessness. Julian Castro, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, spelled out their ambitious goal at a press conference in Seattle.

U.S. Navy Sends Aircraft Carrier To Coast Of Yemen

KPLU News - Mon, 04/20/2015 - 15:46
The U.S. Navy has dispatched an aircraft carrier to waters off the coast of Yemen.

As NPR's Jackie Northam reports, the vessels are joining others in the region in an increasing show of force. She filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"The U.S. Navy says it's deploying the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the guided-missile cruiser Normandy to the Gulf of Aden to ensure the vital shipping lanes in the volatile region remain open and safe.

"The two U.S. warships had been stationed in the Persian Gulf.

At 50 Years Old, The Challenge To Keep Up With Moore's Law

KPLU News - Mon, 04/20/2015 - 15:29
Fifty years ago this week, a chemist in what is now Silicon Valley published a paper that set the groundwork for the digital revolution.

You may never have heard of Moore's law, but it has a lot do with why you will pay about the same price for your next computer, smartphone or tablet, even though it will be faster and have better screen resolution than the last one.

Most of us are used to the cycle of technology.

Live Studio Session: Omar Sosa’s Quarteto AfroCubano—Making Room For The Spirits

KPLU News - Mon, 04/20/2015 - 14:40

Pianist and composer Omar Sosa left his home in Cuba in 1993 but carried his Yoruban spiritual beliefs with him.  These beliefs are the underpinning of his approach to jazz, as you’ll hear in this live studio session, hosted by Abe Beeson.

Quarteto Afrocubano consists of Sosa, Ernesto Simpson (drums), Childo Tomas (electric bass) and Leandro Saint-Hill (sax and flute).  Together they present music that is compelling, uplifting and somehow charmed…music that fills the soul while also always making room for the ‘spirits.’

Federal Panel Revisits Contested Recommendation On Mammograms

KPLU News - Mon, 04/20/2015 - 14:35
In 2009, I was among the scrum of reporters covering the controversial advice from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that women in their 40s think twice about regular mammograms.

Argentine Prosecutor Dismisses Accusations Against President

KPLU News - Mon, 04/20/2015 - 14:31
An Argentine prosecutor moved on Monday to dismiss accusations leveled against President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner by the late prosecutor Alberto Nisman.

If you remember, right before he was found dead in his home, Nisman was about to tell lawmakers that he wanted to charge Kirchner for allegedly thwarting an investigation into the deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires.

Prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita took up Nisman's investigation but a judge in February threw out the allegations and now federal prosecutor Javier De Luca, a Kirchner loyalist who was assigned to the case

Seattle 'Kayaktivists' Building Ranks For Direct Action Against Shell’s Arctic Drilling Fleet

KPLU News - Mon, 04/20/2015 - 14:29

On the shore of Seaview Park in West Seattle, a group of young activists stand behind a row of bright yellow kayaks.  Most of them are new to boating. An instructor from Alki Kayak Tours gives a safety briefing before they head out for a sunset paddle. 

When Danish Cows See Fresh Spring Pasture, They Jump For Joy

KPLU News - Mon, 04/20/2015 - 14:27
"They're running a little late," chides an elderly gentleman, tapping his watch at 12:02 p.m. He's come to this farm near the Danish city of Ikast, along with about 1,500 others, to celebrate what has become something of a national holiday in Denmark. It's the Sunday in mid-April when thousands of organic dairy cows at 75 farms across the country are released into the green fields of spring. At exactly 12 noon. Eh hem.

Ah, but here they come!

Cows, despite their tendency to lumber, become almost sprightly when treated to a change of scenery.

Saudi Airstrikes Raise Doubts Abroad, Spark Patriotic Fervor At Home

KPLU News - Mon, 04/20/2015 - 13:39
Saudi airstrikes in Yemen began almost a month ago, targeting rebels who have taken over much of the country.

Internationally, there are concerns about increasing casualties and questions about the strategy in the Saudi operation, which is receiving help from U.S., among others.

But at home in the kingdom, the war has sparked a patriotic fervor that's noticeable just about everywhere you turn.

Saudi state television and radio are playing patriotic music and running TV s

In Northwest, A Push To Protect Forest As Geothermal Projects Near

KPLU News - Mon, 04/20/2015 - 13:39
In the Pacific Northwest, the U.S. Forest Service is set to open more than 80,000 acres for potential geothermal power development. Companies would then be able to apply for permits to build power plants that would harness the heat beneath the surface to spin turbines and generate electricity.

All of this would be taking place in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington state.

Industrial-scale geothermal power has been a dream clean energy source since the 1970s.