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Washington Supreme Court Sets Standard For Post-Conviction DNA Testing

KPLU News - 2 hours 34 min ago

Washington’s Supreme Court may have just made it easier for prison inmates to try to get their convictions overturned through DNA testing. In a 6-to-3 ruling Thursday, the high court said inmates don’t have to show they’re likely innocent in order to win a post-conviction DNA test.

Coming Soon To A Pole Near You: A Bike That Locks Itself

KPLU News - 2 hours 52 min ago
Cyclists may soon have a convenient way to discourage bike thieves, thanks to new designs that use parts of the bikes themselves as locks. Two projects — one based in Chile, another in Seattle — are promising to provide peace of mind without the fuss of carrying a separate lock.

Like security-minded Transformers, the bikes can be manipulated to use their own parts as a lock. Fans of the approach say that if a thief breaks a lock that's part of the bike itself, it can't be ridden away.

Vision Problems Increase The Risk Of Early Death In Older People

KPLU News - 2 hours 52 min ago
An eye exam may be the ticket to a longer life, researchers say, because good vision is essential for being able to shop, manage money and live independently. And maintaining independence in turn leads to a longer life.

Researchers have known for years that people who have vision problems as they get older are more likely to die sooner than those who still see well.

Eggs, Milk And Ink: Venezuela Wants All Supermarket Shoppers Fingerprinted

KPLU News - 2 hours 53 min ago
Attention Venezuelan shoppers: Please proceed to the supermarket checkout for fingerprinting.

That could be a reality if a plan announced earlier this week by the country's president, Nicolas Maduro, goes into effect.

The purpose? Combating shortages caused by rampant smuggling of subsidized food in Venezuela across the border into neighboring Colombia.

Who Owns A Monkey's Selfie? No One Can, U.S. Says

KPLU News - 2 hours 53 min ago
The question of who owns a striking image taken by a crested black macaque may be closer to being settled, as the U.S. Copyright Office says the photo can't be copyrighted — by the person who owns the camera or by any other entity — because it wasn't taken by a human.

The remarkably photogenic monkey won fans by capturing her own smiling image back in 2011, after a group of macaques in Indonesia appropriated British wildlife photographer David Slater's equipment.

Insurers Refuse To Cover Some Contraceptives, Despite Health Law

KPLU News - 2 hours 54 min ago
How much leeway do employers and insurers have in deciding whether they'll cover contraceptives without charge and in determining which methods make the cut?

Not much, as it turns out, but that hasn't stopped some from trying.

People still write in regularly describing battles they're waging to get birth control coverage they're entitled to under the Affordable Care Act.

In one of those messages recently, a woman said her insurer denied free coverage for the NuvaRing.

Nestle Nudges Its Suppliers To Improve Animal Welfare

KPLU News - 2 hours 54 min ago
Chances are you haven't considered the tail of the cow that made the milk that goes into your Nestle Crunch bar or the cheese in your (Nestle-made) Lean Cuisine frozen dinner.

But as animal welfare groups report, many dairy cows have their tails partially amputated, or docked, to help keep their udders clean.

Seattle's 'Play Streets' Program Turns Public Streets Into Playgrounds For Kids

KPLU News - 7 hours 36 min ago

Three-year-old Kai Semke has all the trappings of a future soccer star: speed, stamina, awesome shorts — and as if that weren't enough, he boasts, "My feet are super-hard, and I kick it super-hard." (Competitors, take note.)

With not much yard at his family's Wallingford home, though, Kai normally lacks a regular space to have a kick. But that's not the case this summer.

Neighbors shut down a residential street a short distance from Kai's home as part of a new city initiative, turning a block of North 39th Street into a temporary soccer pitch — or basketball court, or scooter racetrack, or general public play space — one evening every week this summer.

Looking Good: Huskies Start 2014 Season With New Coach, QB Question

KPLU News - 7 hours 36 min ago

The University of Washington football team opens its 2014 season on Aug. 30 in Hawaii. The Huskies are coming off a successful, 9-4 season last year, and they have a promising new coach. But they also have a bit of a quarterback controversy, says sports commentator Art Thiel.

GAO Finds Bergdahl Prisoner Swap Broke Federal Law

KPLU News - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 16:22

The Pentagon broke the law when it swapped five members of the Taliban for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of Idaho, according to the findings of an independent government investigation released Thursday.

The Government Accountability Office says officials should have given Congress 30 days' notice.

Coal Opponents Point To Weak Finances Of Company Behind Proposed Terminals

KPLU News - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 16:05

Oregon regulators’ rejection of a proposed coal export terminal on the Columbia River is just the latest hurdle for the energy company behind it, according to anti-coal activists.

The activists are asking Washington officials to consider Ambre Energy’s finances before allowing a terminal it’s involved in at Longview, Washington. 

Can Quinoa Take Root On The 'Roof Of The World'?

KPLU News - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 14:09
For thousands of years, quinoa barely budged from its home in the Andes. Other crops — corn, potatoes, rice, wheat and sorghum — traveled and colonized the world.

One Woman's 'Pay It Forward' Moment Inspires 11 Hours Of Kindness

KPLU News - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 13:23
At a drive-through Starbucks in St. Petersburg, Fla., a chain of generosity included hundreds of customers. Each customer in the chain chose to "pay it forward," paying for the drink of the customer behind her. Weston Phippen of the Tampa Bay Times wrote about the acts of kindness and offers his take. Copyright 2014 NPR.

When Venus Was Filled With Venusians — 50 Billion Of Them

KPLU News - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 12:36
What a difference 180 years makes.

Back in the 1830s, a Scottish minister and amateur astronomer named Thomas Dick tried to calculate the number of intelligent creatures in the universe. He assumed that all heavenly bodies supported intelligent life, maybe not exactly like us, but similar to us in size and habits of living.

Drawn To Conflict, Journalist James Foley 'Loved Telling These Stories'

KPLU News - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 12:36
During the nearly two years that journalist James Foley was held hostage in Syria, before he was killed by the Islamic State this week, Phil Balboni worked hard to get him released.

Balboni is the co-founder and CEO of the online international news company GlobalPost, which Foley was freelancing for at the time of his capture, in November 2012. Foley also was freelancing for GlobalPost when he was captured in Libya by dictator Moammar Gadhafi's forces, in 2011, and held for 44 days.

The video of Foley's beheading, which was posted Tuesday on YouTube, shows another U.S.

Would A Prize Help Speed Development Of Ebola Treatments?

KPLU News - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 12:36
The human toll of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa is becoming clearer by the day.

UW Study: Despite 'Hiatus' In Rising Temps, Oceans Show Globe Still Warming

KPLU News - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 11:01

Despite widespread concern about global warming, rising air temperatures have actually slowed down dramatically over the past 15 years. This so-called “hiatus” has posed a big puzzle for climate scientists.

Researchers at the University of Washington looked deep into the oceans for answers, and found that despite the surficial evidence, climate change has not stopped. 

Is There Such A Thing As A 'Good Psychopath'?

KPLU News - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 10:58
Oxymoronic, isn't it, the idea of a "good psychopath"?

But in their just published book, The Good Psychopath's Guide to Success, Andy McNab and Kevin Dutton argue that relying on some psychopathic traits can lead to a more successful life.

Andy is a British Special Air Service veteran and novelist; Kevin is an Oxford University psychologist. Kevin studies psychopaths.

Mental Health Meets 'Moneyball' In San Antonio

KPLU News - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 10:55
The jails aren't overflowing in San Antonio anymore. People with serious mental illnesses have a place to go for treatment and the city has saved $10 million a year on. How did it happen?

"You know Brad Pitt in the movie Moneyball?" asks Gilbert Gonzalez, Director for the Bexar County Mental Health Department.

'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner Takes To The Big Screen

KPLU News - Thu, 08/21/2014 - 10:55
Writer, director and producer Matthew Weiner has won numerous Emmys for his work on the hit television shows “Mad Men” and “The Sopranos.” Now, for the first time, he’s bringing his talents to the big screen, with the film “Are You Here?” which Weiner wrote and directed.

The movie centers on the close — and bizarre — friendship between two men: Steve, played by Owen Wilson, and Ben, played by Zach Galifianakis.