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Port Slowdowns Keep Northwest Farm Exports Stuck On The Ranch

KPLU News - 5 hours 12 min ago


A slowdown at western ports is now aggravating farmers across the Northwest.

Produce processors are laying off production line workers. Apples are backing up. And the summer’s premium hay is stacked in sheds and not moving.

Japan's Butter Shortage Whips Its Cake Makers Into A Frenzy

KPLU News - 7 hours 13 min ago
We are well into the Christmas season, and if you live in Japan, that means sponge cake.

The traditional Japanese Christmas dish is served with strawberries and cream, and it is rich, thanks to lots and lots of butter.

Obama Issues 12 Pardons, Commutes 8 Sentences

KPLU News - 7 hours 58 min ago
President Obama commuted the prison sentences of eight people who were convicted of drug-related crimes Wednesday, in a move that also saw 12 presidential pardons issued, for offenses ranging from theft to running an illegal distillery.

Half of the eight whose sentences were commuted had been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Citing "unduly harsh sentences issued for drug offenses under an outdated sentencing regime," a White House official said Wednesday that all eight of those who were punished for drug offenses "would receive a substantially lower sentence today."

Deputy Attorney Genera

Alan Gross' Release: How It Went Down

KPLU News - 8 hours 1 min ago
American Alan Gross had spent more than five years in a Cuban prison where he lost five teeth, 100 pounds and much of the sight in his right eye. He could barely walk because of chronic pain and was, his wife Judy Gross said in June, "despondent and very hopeless" because he had 10 years to go in his sentence for crimes against the Cuban state.

In Gaza, The Specter Of ISIS Proves Useful To Both Sides

KPLU News - 8 hours 14 min ago
Earlier this month, more than a dozen writers, poets and activists in Gaza got threatening flyers signed with the name ISIS, the Sunni extremists fighting with brutal violence in Iraq and Syria.

But a few days later, a new flyer, also signed ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, denied responsibility and apologized.

The incident is raising the question of whether ISIS is taking root in Gaza — or if someone is just playing around.

Poet and women's rights activist Donia al-Amal Ismael received the first flyer via Facebook.

Dreaming Up A Safer, Cooler PPE For Ebola Fighters

KPLU News - 8 hours 15 min ago
Here's what it takes to design a better Ebola suit: a roomful of university students and professors, piles of canvas and Tyvek cloth, sewing machines, glue guns ... and chocolate syrup.

Even Youseph Yazdi, head of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design (CBID), still isn't sure what the syrup was for.

But the reason to make a better protective suit for Ebola workers is very clear.

We're Down To 5 Northern White Rhinos: Is It Too Late For Babies?

KPLU News - 8 hours 15 min ago
A 44-year-old Northern White Rhino named Angalifu died this week at the San Diego Zoo of old age.

Now only five animals remain in this subspecies, all in captivity. Four are females. The one male lives in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.

So it would seem the Northern White Rhino is doomed to extinction.

What Happens After You Get That Mammogram

KPLU News - 8 hours 22 min ago
Women and their doctors have a hard time figuring out the pluses and minuses of screening mammograms for breast cancer. It doesn't help that there's been fierce dissent over the benefits of screening mammography for women under 50 and for older women.

To make it easier to grasp the big picture, Dr.

Sony Cancels Christmas Day Release Of 'The Interview' Amid Threats

KPLU News - 9 hours 9 min ago
Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET

Sony Pictures has canceled the Christmas Day release of The Interview, the comedy that centers on a plot to assassinate North Korea's leader. The move came after the largest U.S.

PHOTO: The Meaning in a Phone Call

KPLU News - 9 hours 14 min ago
On Tuesday, President Obama picked up the phone and talked to Cuban President Raul Castro.

The call came a day before Obama publicly announced the decision to normalize diplomatic relations between the two foes. Just how surprising would a call of that sort be? Remember, it was just a year ago that Obama and Castro shook hands at Nelson Mandela's funeral.

Alan Gross, U.S. Contractor Freed By Cuba, Says 'It's Good To Be Home'

KPLU News - 9 hours 36 min ago
American Alan Gross, who spent five years in a Cuban prison before his release today as a humanitarian gesture, said "it's good to be home," and that he hoped the U.S. and Cuba move past their "mutually belligerent" policies.

"Two wrongs never made a right," Gross said in Washington shortly after he returned to the U.S. aboard a government plane.

Gross appeared frail but cheerful.

Prisoner Exchange With Cuba Led To Freedom For Top U.S. Intelligence Agent

KPLU News - 10 hours 10 min ago
Today's announcement that Cuba freed USAID contractor Alan Gross as a humanitarian gesture came with news of a separate prisoner exchange: Three convicted Cuban spies were traded for a U.S.

The U.S. And Cuba: A Brief History Of A Tortured Relationship

KPLU News - 10 hours 12 min ago
Just months after he seized power in Cuba, Fidel Castro visited Washington in April 1959. He placed a wreath at the base of both the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials and was photographed looking up in seeming admiration of both U.S. presidents.

For U.S.-Cuba relations, it was all downhill after that.

It's been a stalemate that has outlasted 10 U.S. presidents, a failed invasion, a nuclear crisis and countless boatloads of Cuban asylum seekers.

New Cuba Policy Is Met With Cheers And Jeers On Both Sides Of The Aisle

KPLU News - 10 hours 20 min ago
The Obama administration announced today that it would begin the process of re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba.

It's a contentious issue, and reaction has been swift. Here's a roundup:

-- Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida with Cuban roots, issued a blistering statement.

Seattle Housing Authority Shelves Controversial Rental Policy Change

KPLU News - 10 hours 51 min ago

Seattle Housing Authority, which runs public housing in the city, has backed away from a proposed rental policy change that sparked protest, and now the agency says it won't put forth a new plan before 2016.

Managed Care Plans Make Progress In Erasing Racial Disparities

KPLU News - 11 hours 2 min ago
Years of efforts to reduce the racial disparities in health care have so far failed to eliminate them.

A Holy Land Christmas Porridge Honors A Damsel In Distress

KPLU News - 11 hours 19 min ago
The winter holidays are a time of abundance, but for Christians in the Middle East, the official start of the Christmas season is marked by a decidedly rustic dish: porridge.

Archbishop Swerios Murad of the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem says his congregation will eat boiled wheat kernels this week to mark the Feast of St. Barbara, or Eid el-Burbara in Arabic.

"It's is a simple porridge," Murad tells The Salt, "but it's very important that it be sweet."


$2 Million In Taxpayer Dollars At Risk In Snake River Dredging Showdown

KPLU News - 12 hours 2 min ago


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is making a high-stakes bet that it will prevail in a pending lawsuit over Snake River dredging.

Behind The Scenes At The Lab That Fingerprints Microbiomes

KPLU News - 12 hours 26 min ago
The gut microbiome may soon reveal important answers to questions about our health. But those answers aren't yet easy to spot or quick to obtain.

The week after I mailed off my family's microbial samples to be analyzed for the American Gut Project, I followed them down the road from my home to the University of Colorado, Boulder. They — and I — came to a massive, futuristic science complex there.

BirdNote: The Rooster

KPLU News - 12 hours 32 min ago

The chicken is perhaps the most widespread avian species in the world - and the exotic Red Jungle Fowl is the ancestor of the hybrid Araucana and Rhode Island Red.

Scientists postulate that chickens were first domesticated from jungle fowl in India, about 5,000 years ago.

Traders and travelers then carried them far and wide. Find your local Audubon and learn more about wild birds. To see - and hear - a rooster crowing, be sure to watch the video!