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Amazingly, Congress Actually Got Something Done

KPLU News - 2 hours 55 min ago
They said it couldn't be done. And for more than a decade they were right.

But on Thursday, staring at a deadline that could have disrupted health care to millions of seniors, the House got something done.

It voted to fix the flawed formula for compensating doctors who provide services to patients under Medicare. But this time it wasn't just a patch for a few months or years — like the ones Congress has done 17 times since 2003.

This time it was permanent, if the Senate gets on board in a timely manner.

Big Shelves Of Antarctic Ice Melting Faster Than Scientists Thought

KPLU News - 3 hours 44 min ago
The Antarctic is far away, freezing and buried under a patchwork of ice sheets and glaciers. But a warming climate is altering that mosaic in unpredictable ways — research published Thursday shows that the pace of change in parts of the Antarctic is accelerating.

Many of the ice sheets that blanket Antarctica run right down to the land's edge and then out into the ocean, where they form floating ice "shelves." Some of those shelves have been shrinking lately. Now, a team of scientists has discovered that shelves in the West Antarctic are shrinking a lot faster than they realized.

Church Of Scientology Calls New HBO Documentary 'Bigoted'

KPLU News - 3 hours 52 min ago
The Church of Scientology is famous for its efforts to silence its critics, but it has not blocked an upcoming HBO film that turns a harsh light on the powerful organization and its leadership.

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, directed by Academy Award-winning documentarian Alex Gibney, will debut Sunday over the vigorous objection of Scientology officials.

For the film, based on a book by Lawrence Wright, Gibney dug up extensive archival footage of Scientology's

Think Nobody Wants To Buy Ugly Fruits And Veggies? Think Again

KPLU News - 4 hours 11 min ago
Remember that old movie trope, in which the mousy girl who never gets noticed takes off her eyeglasses and — voila! — suddenly, everyone can see she was beautiful all along?

Well, a similar sort of scenario is starting to play out in the world of produce in the U.S. (minus the sexist subtext).

Around the country, food service companies, grocers and entrepreneurs passionate about fighting food waste are rallying to buy up fruits and vegetables excluded from the produce aisle because of their defects.

Washington Lawmakers Consider Banning Powdered Alcohol

KPLU News - 4 hours 31 min ago

A bi-partisan group of lawmakers in the Washington legislature launched a move Tuesday to ban powdered alcohol.

Former POW Bergdahl An Uneasy Subject In His Idaho Hometown

KPLU News - 4 hours 32 min ago

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier held for nearly five years as a prisoner of the Taliban, is facing charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

Troy Kelley: A Man Of Mystery, Even To His Own Staff

KPLU News - 4 hours 32 min ago

Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley was not in the office Wednesday. His staff say they don’t know when the Democrat will be back.

How Much Does Cancer Cost Us?

KPLU News - 4 hours 49 min ago
Before we started our Living Cancer series, we went on NPR's Facebook page to ask people about their experiences in paying for cancer treatment. Over a hundred people from across the country responded.

We talked with some people by phone to learn about their stories.

Maureen Carrigg, who lives in Wayne, Neb., was diagnosed with multiple myeloma six years ago.

A Fraying Promise: Exploring Race And Inequality In Havana

KPLU News - 5 hours 13 min ago
Miguel Coyula points at an open door in the middle of Old Havana. The mahogany door looks worn, but still handsome. The concrete facade has lost most of its paint, and time has ripped parts of it open.

"That's marble," Coyula says, pointing to the treads of the staircase. "They are the remnants of something that was very glorious."

Coyula is an architect and an economist, and as he walks through the streets of Havana, he doesn't just see breathtaking decay.

Critic Faults Alcoholics Anonymous For Lack Of Evidence

KPLU News - 6 hours 15 min ago
Founded by two men in Akron, Ohio, in the 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous has since spread around the world as a leading community-based method of overcoming alcohol dependence and abuse. Many people swear by the 12-step method, which has become the basis of programs to treat the abuse of drugs, gambling, eating disorders and some other compulsive behaviors.

But not everyone's a fan.

A Single Gene May Determine Why Some People Get So Sick With The Flu

KPLU News - 6 hours 17 min ago
It's hard to predict who will get the flu in any given year. While some people may simply spend a few days in bed with aches and a stuffy nose, others may become so ill that they end up in the hospital.

Until now, researchers could only point generally at differences between flu patients' immune responses. Jean-Laurent Casanova, a professor at Rockefeller University and investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has been sifting through cases of children with severe flu.

Is Colorado Primed To Become The Silicon Valley Of Agriculture?

KPLU News - 6 hours 21 min ago
Colorado is famous for its beer and its beef.

How Yemen's Chaos Stretches Beyond Its Borders

KPLU News - 6 hours 22 min ago
Yemen's downward spiral toward civil war is a disaster for the poorest country in the Arab world and adds one more member to the growing list of Middle East states that have imploded in the past several years.

But how important is Yemen to the wider world?

One argument holds that Yemen is, and always has been, an isolated backwater. The chaos is tragic for Yemenis, but remains largely an internal feud between rival groups and will have limited spillover beyond its borders.

Yet Yemen is also a battleground in larger fights that pit the U.S. versus al-Qaida and Saudi Arabia versus Iran.

Ebola Is Not Mutating As Fast As Scientists Feared

KPLU News - 6 hours 27 min ago
Back in August, scientists published a worrisome report about Ebola in West Africa: The virus was rapidly changing its genetic code as it spread through people. Ebola was mutating about twice as fast as it did in previous outbreaks, a team from Harvard University found.

The study spurred a bunch of concerns. Could the virus evolve into a more dangerous pathogen?

After Spending Scandals, Rep. Aaron Schock Says Goodbye

KPLU News - 6 hours 44 min ago
Once a fast-rising star in the Republican Party, Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock gave his final speech on the House floor Thursday.

Schock, who was elected to Congress in 2008, will resign his House seat at the end of the month.

Census Data Prove It: We Prefer Sunshine And Golf Carts

KPLU News - 7 hours 7 min ago
If you live in a town still dotted with dirty piles of old snow, this is not going to come as good news:

The U.S. Census Bureau today listed the nation's fastest-growing metro areas.

Indiana's Governor Signs 'Religious Freedom' Bill

KPLU News - 7 hours 25 min ago
Indiana business owners who object to same-sex couples will now have a legal right to deny them services after Republican Gov.

Skinny Jeans, Expanded Waistlines, And A Washington 'Fix'

KPLU News - 8 hours 33 min ago
Every year about this time, after a Washington winter of inactivity, I notice my pants have grown a little tighter. Years ago, I resolved to address this by cutting back on burritos and beer.

But the (ever more abundant) flesh is weak. And burritos are soooo tasty. So instead, every spring I simply let out my waistband a bit, while promising to redouble my dieting efforts next year. I call this, "The belt fix."

Sound familiar?

Nearly two decades ago, Congress made a similar promise to rein in the growth of Medicare's spending on doctors' services.

Richard III, Whose Remains Were Found Under A Parking Lot, Reburied

KPLU News - 9 hours 26 min ago
Richard III, the last English king to die in battle and who famously, in literature, offered his kingdom for a horse, was finally given a burial fit for a king — some 530 years after he was killed.

Hundreds lined up to watch the last Plantagenet king laid to rest at Leicester Cathedral in England.

"People have come in their thousands from around the world to this place of honor, not to judge or condemn but to stand humble and reverent," said the Right Rev. Tim Stevens, bishop of Leicester. "From car park to cathedral ...

Some Messy History Behind A Fight Over A Restaurant Called 'Chop Chop Chinaman'

KPLU News - 9 hours 53 min ago
Over in Chicago, a restaurant called Chop Chop Chinaman has been getting a lot of heat for its name. In February, Chicago-area resident Jeannie Harrell was arrested for scrawling "F*** this hate crime s***. It's 2015" in lipstick on the restaurant's window, right next to the shop's decal sticker of a rickshaw and a man wearing a triangular hat.