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Landscapers Beware: There's Regulations In Them Thar Hills

KPLU News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 16:30

Ty Kocher walks me up the hilly backyard behind his home in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. The lush, sloping lot is the reason he bought the fixer-upper -–  it had a terrace for a vegetable garden and nooks and crannies for the kids to discover. But first he had to deal with decades of debris.

“Years ago, about six years ago, I was digging out a bunch of broken bottles and bricks and some old metal toys from the ‘50s and so we just planted into the hill and recently I put rain barrels in the spot, thinking I was doing all the right things.”

Test Of '1 Person, 1 Vote' Heads To The Supreme Court

KPLU News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 16:20
When the Supreme Court returns for its next term in October, among the cases it has agreed to hear is a challenge to a fundamental practice that has governed American elections for generations.

When public-policy makers talk about a state's population, they generally mean the number of human beings living in that state — as counted or estimated by the U.S.

How Worried Should We Be About Lassa Fever?

KPLU News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 15:20
An unidentified New Jersey man died after returning home from West Africa, where he had contracted Lassa fever, a virus that has symptoms similar to those of Ebola. Federal health officials are treating the case with caution because the virus, which commonly is spread by rodents, can occasionally spread from person to person.

Lassa fever can cause internal bleeding. Other symptoms include respiratory distress, vomiting, facial swelling, and back and abdominal pain. Dr.

How Dorothea Lange Taught Us To See Hunger And Humanity

KPLU News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 15:11
Documentary photographer Dorothea Lange had a favorite saying: "A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera."

And perhaps no one did more to reveal the human toll of the Great Depression than Lange, who was born on this day in 1895.

Sip It Slowly, And Other Lessons From The Oldest Tea Book In The World

KPLU News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 15:03
At least 2,500 years ago, tea, as we know it, was born.

Back then, it was a medicinal concoction blended with herbs, seeds and forest leaves in the mountains of southwest China. Gradually, as manners of processing and drinking tea were refined, it became imbued with artistic, religious, and cultural notes. Under the Tang Dynasty (AD 618–907), the apogee of ancient Chinese prosperity, the drink involved ritual, etiquette and specific utensils.

Out Of The Classroom And Into The Woods

KPLU News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 14:53
Kids in the U.S. are spending less time outside. Even in kindergarten, recess is being cut back. But in the small town of Quechee, Vt., a teacher is bucking that trend: One day a week, she takes her students outside — for the entire school day.

It's called Forest Monday.

Eliza Minnucci got the idea after watching a documentary about a forest school in Switzerland where kids spend all day, every day, out in the woods.

"I would do that in a heartbeat," she thought to herself. Then reality hit. "We're in a public school in America.

Hackers Stole Data From More Than 100,000 Taxpayers, IRS Says

KPLU News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 14:48
The IRS says criminals gained access to the accounts of more than 100,000 taxpayers through its online service Get Transcript.

What Will The Next President Face On #Day1?

KPLU News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 14:20
Presidential candidates are doing what they have to do at this point in the campaign season — they're raising money and strutting their biographies and electoral viability to voters. We haven't heard much yet about policy papers or what they would actually do if they win. But those policy issues will matter — as the campaign picks up steam and especially once the next president steps into the Oval Office on Day 1.

This week, NPR looks at four seemingly intractable problems that await the 45th president on Day 1, and the policy options that might be available to him or her.

NYU Changes Its Policy On Reviewing Applicants' Criminal Background

KPLU News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 14:09
Students applying for college supply all sorts of information — financial records, letters of recommendation, the personal essay — the list goes on.

One big question they face: Do you have a criminal record?

The question appears on the Common Application — the website that prospective students use to apply to more than 500 schools across the U.S. and abroad.

Most students don't even think about it.

Blind Waiters Give Diners A Taste Of 'Dinner In The Dark' In Kenya

KPLU News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 14:03
Ignatius Agon practices his greeting: "OK, good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is Ignatius and I am going to guide you into the dark."

It's Monday, and the first day of training for a new restaurant opening this month in Kenya. Diners will be served in the dark. They'll have to find their food with their forks and eat it in a pitch black room.

And the waiters are blind.

Welcome to Dinner in the Dark, a franchise founded in Paris in 2004.

Despite An Economy On The Rise, American Paychecks Remain Stuck

KPLU News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 13:23
As candidates hit the campaign trail, NPR looks at four major issues the next president will face from Day 1 in office.

For seven years, Michael Hall has been guiding tourists to the top of Seattle's Space Needle and back. It's a unique vantage point from which to watch the ups and downs of Americans' paychecks.

At first, the 30-year-old elevator operator shared in the success of the popular attraction.

Higher-Tech Fake Eggs Offer Better Clues To Wild Bird Behavior

KPLU News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 13:23
Since the 1960's, biologists have made fake eggs for some studies of bird behavior.

Photographer Mary Ellen Mark Dies At 75

KPLU News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 13:14
Mary Ellen Mark, the influential photographer known mostly for her humanist work, has died. She was 75.

Mark died Monday, a representative said Tuesday. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that she died in New York.

Mark's work appeared in Life, New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair.

Prolific Fantasy And Science Fiction Writer Tanith Lee Has Died

KPLU News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 13:00
British science fiction and fantasy writer Tanith Lee has died, according to her publisher. Lee, 67, was a prolific author who also worked in radio and television; her dozens of books include Don't Bite The Sun and Death's Master -- the latter of which was part of her popular Flat Earth series.

The writer's death was reported early Tuesday by the website Sci-Fi Bulletin and Tor.com, a website run by the publishing house.

Federal Appeals Court Leaves Hold On Obama's Immigration Orders

KPLU News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 12:12
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will not lift a hold that has stalled President Obama's plan to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. The president sought to give temporary protection to people who were brought to the U.S. as children, and to the parents of people who live in the U.S. legally.

The decision blocks a executive action the White House issued late last year and leaves in place a hold that was issued in February by District Judge Andrew Hanen in South Texas.

Update at 4:35 p.m.

Got A Voice For Radio? The Algorithm Speaks

KPLU News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 11:50
Nearly a thousand of you heeded our call on All Tech Considered to submit a voice sample. The idea: Let a computer algorithm decide if you have a voice for radio.

Now, we've got the results.

Actor Wilbur Fitzgerald rated highly (surprise, surprise):

But most of you who responded are not actors.

British Pub Ye Olde Fighting Cocks Is Asked To Change Its Name

KPLU News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 11:23
It's believed to be the oldest pub in England – but now Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is facing a call to change its name.

In Search Of Bandwidth, Cuban Entrepreneurs Head To Miami

KPLU News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 10:56
When Cuban bikini maker Victor Rodríguez visited Miami this month, he was on a pilgrimage – not just for bathing suits but for bandwidth.

The most important stop on Rodríguez's schedule was lunch in Wynwood, Miami's high-tech district, with Mel Valenzuela, who owns the online swimwear store Pretty Beachy.

As Valenzuela showed Rodríguez how to do business online, his awestruck expression seemed to evoke José Arcadio Buendía in One Hundred Years of Solitude, who when he first touches ice declares it "the great invention of our time."

"My eyes light up," said Rodríguez, "when I see

Meet Ruby Bishop: She's 95 And Still Playing The Standards

KPLU News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 10:49

Ruby Bishop has played piano around the world. She's befriended some of the jazz world's greatest names -- including Louis Armstrong.

At 95, she's still playing Sunday nights at Vito's, on Seattle's First Hill.

In this story from the "Comfort Zone" episode of KPLU's Sound Effect, she talks about the piano, her life, her career, and feeling comfortable behind 88 keys.

And here's a video of her playing at Vito's, from The Seattle Times:


Malaysia Airlines Plans To Cut A Third Of Its Workforce

KPLU News - Tue, 05/26/2015 - 09:54
Malaysia Airlines, which last year had one of its planes disappear off the face of the earth and another shot down over Ukraine, is about to undergo an overhaul — one that means layoffs for as many as one-third of its 20,000 employees.

In an interview with Reuters, the company's new CEO, Christoph Mueller, said he plans to run the restructured airline like a "startup." The news service reports:

" 'I'm hired to run the new company entirely on commercial terms and there's very