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U.S. Labor Department

 

The Seattle office charged with enforcing the $15 minimum wage law has hired Dylan Orr to be its new director. Before taking the job Orr was the first openly transgender person appointed by the Obama Administration, or any presidential administration.

David Goldman / AP Photo

More than 2,000 high school seniors in Washington state appear unlikely to graduate this year because they didn't pass a required biology test.

But while their predicament has caught Olympia's attention, a last-minute push to let those students get their diplomas anyway appears to have stalled in the State Senate as lawmakers debate what tests to link to graduation going forward.

AP Images

Expect continued warm weather through the weekend in Western Washington with morning clouds and temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s, according to Cliff Mass, KLPU's weather expert.

But the summer weekend weather won't hold through the early part of next week as clouds and rain move in and the temperature drops into the 60s, he added. Hikers in the Cascades will see the wet weather earlier with thunderstorms in the mountains predicted for this weekend.

"It will be quite a show," Mass said.

June Gloom

Mass said what people in the western United States talk about when they mention 'June Gloom' actually begins in late May. The eastern Pacific Ocean area as far south as San Diego gets shrouded in low cloud layers. This is because the ocean is still cool but the atmosphere has begun warming up. 

The warm upper air caps the cool lower layer of air and turns it into a consistent cloudy blanket. Coupled with high pressure in the eastern Pacific, it forms and then it lingers like an unwelcome house guest.

Don Wilson / Port of Seattle

Travel over long distances can wear you out. As anyone who’s flown a great distance can tell you, the sudden change in time zones can wreak havoc on your body. KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley has been almost every continent on the planet, and has a lot of experience fighting off jet lag. Here's his advice:

Before The Trip

Exercise more. If you’re already pretty active, keep it up. If you’re kind of sedentary, maybe take a few more walks. You don’t need to get “in shape” before a flight, of course, but it helps to be more alert.

Simen Svale Skogsrud / Flickr

After sharp criticism from advocates for the homeless, the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union, Seattle's plan to ban smoking in public parks has been softened to reflect concerns it would unfairly target the homeless and minorities.

Under the new proposal from the Seattle Parks Department, a violator will get a warning for lighting up instead of a $27 fine. Two or more warnings could lead to an arrest. Using e-cigarettes and vape pens would still be allowed.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Teachers in Tacoma have decided against joining the wave of walkouts that have closed some of Washington's biggest school districts this spring, with the union voting Tuesday to hold an alternate protest.

Robert Karma / Flickr

The port of Seattle and airlines agree – improvements at the airport are needed to handle growing numbers of international passengers. But a central question remains:  who pays for the expansion? 

Traffic at Sea-Tac International Airport has been booming and is expected to keep climbing. But there’s dispute among airlines about how to pay for a new international arrivals facility, which would be a spot for people go through customs and pick up their baggage.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU News

Kyle Preston, 24, is two quarters away from completing a degree from a program Green River College has proposed to cut.

Preston is one of a handful of students taking classes in auto body technology at the Auburn community college — one of three small trade programs administrators have put on the chopping block because of what could be a $4.4 million budget shortfall.

Nancy Leson

I'd mentioned to Nancy Leson that I was out of two of my favorite spices. Recently, shopping one of our favorite food stores, Big John's PFI, the ever-thoughtful Leson picked up my Aleppo pepper and sumac and mailed them to me, along with a bonus spice.  Thanks, Nance! 

Nancy had included a small bag of bright yellow powder. One of her favorites, it was a blend I'd never heard of called vadouvan.  So what is that stuff?

Monica Spain

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.”

Ed Ronco / KPLU

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.


401(k) 2012 / Flickr

The city of Tacoma is trying to get business owners to settle their unpaid tax bills by offering a one-time amnesty that will let businesses off the hook for penalties and interest if they come forward and pay. 

Danielle Larson, tax and license manager for the city of Tacoma, says the city’s recently boosted enforcement of tax collections by adding three compliance officers. But she says the city council also wanted to give businesses a chance to come forward voluntarily and pay their liabilities without penalties.

Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

 The City of Seattle has determined that some of the oil drilling equipment parked on the edge of Elliott Bay does not have the right kind of permit. This includes the large yellow platform called the Polar Pioneer.

The Port has appealed the decision. The City’s Hearing Examiner is scheduled to  take up the issue on June 3rd.

John Froschauer / PLU

The Pacific Northwest has deep Norwegian roots and nowhere was that more evident than at Pacific Lutheran University on Saturday.

His Majesty King Harald V of Norway came for a visit to the school that was founded 125 years ago by Norwegian immigrants. The King was in the Northwest to speak at PLU's Commencement ceremony in the Tacoma Dome, but made a quick trip to the university first, where he was welcomed by hundreds of students and and  other well wishers from around the region.

LISTEN: A sound portrait of HM King Harald V's visit:


Jim Wilke

Bulgarian born singer and songwriter Ana Velinova trained in Sophia, L.A. and Boston and has performed in New York, Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria and elsewhere.  

Now a resident of Seattle, she recently sang in the Art of Jazz series at The Seattle Art Museum with an all-star Seattle quartet including Marc Seales, Mark Taylor, Jeff Johnson and D'vonne Lewis.   

Sound Effect, Episode 20: Comfort Zones

May 23, 2015
Mark Reed

"Sound Effect" is your weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by KPLU's Gabriel Spitzer. Each week's show explores a different theme, and this week, we get into and out of our ‘Comfort Zones.’

Being naked at work would be a nightmare for many, but not for Robert Treat. Gabriel Spitzer talks to the veteran nude model about his work and the power dynamics in play when someone is nude in the room.

Sound Effect producer Kevin Kniestedt talks to a young woman with fibromyalgia about what it feels like to live most of your life in pain.

file photo

 

For food writer Nancy Leson, “comfort food” means Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews. This Philadelphia-based regional candy is made of peanuts suspended in molasses covered in dark chocolate.

For me, that’s not an appealing description, and the proud declaration on the package that they “originally served as a WWI ration bar” doesn’t help. But for Nancy, they mean something different.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Negotiations continue between the Seahawks and quarterback Russell Wilson over extending his contract. Wilson has led the team to three playoffs and two Super Bowls during his first three years in Seattle.

But KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says giving Wilson what many fans feel he deserves is easier said than done.

Ed Ronco / KPLU

Travel brochures and websites can often paint a picture of an “authentic” experience in a foreign country. But KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says so often, what people consider an “authentic” is far from real.

Cultures are changing, especially in Europe. Travel advertisements often show you a romanticized version of what you’ll actually experience.

“They’re selling you the cliché of a country – the little boy walking down the street with a French baguette, and the two people playing bocce ball in Italy,” Brumley said. “It’s getting harder to find that.”

Boeing

Even in this day and age, aviation is a male-dominated industry. But when Boeing delivered a new 737-900ER to United Airlines on Wednesday at King County International Airport, men were the ones in the minority – by design.

Courtesy of the Burke Museum

  Washington State has its first dinosaur.

Researchers at the Burke Museum say they excavated a weathered, 80 million year old thighbone from a beach on Sucia Island in the San Juans. It is the first verified dinosaur fossil ever found in Washington.

Michael Goude / KPLU

Since the late 1970's, Seattle pianist Dave Peck has been a bright spot in the regional jazz scene.  

From his early career as an accompanist for visiting jazz artists at Jazz Alley, through a long, productive partnership with saxophonist Bud Shank, to his continuing role as the leader of his own group, Dave's given us a lot of wonderful, adventurous music over the years.  

In this studio session, hosted by Jim Wilke, Dave talks about his career, his approach to performing and why his band never--never--rehearses.  It's a revealing conversation interspersed with 3 of Dave's favorite songs:  If I Were A Bell, Here's That Rainy Day and Stella By Starlight.  The Dave Peck Trio includes Eric Eagle (drums) and Jeff Johnson (bass).  

AP Images

The Washington Commissioner of Public Lands said warmer than usual weather has not only increased the wildfire risk, it also has increased the likelihood that firefighting resources across the west will be stretched thin come summer.

“We need to be more self sufficient ,” Commissioner Peter Goldmark said.

He said so many communities are struggling with drought that the state can’t count on outside help if wildfires strike.

“In the past, sometimes we’ve been able to rely on contract resources or other states," Goldmark said. "But because of the widespread nature of the drought, and the ensuing fire potential, we can no longer count on other states or adjacent states or other entities coming to help us.”

That’s why he is requesting an additional $4.5 million dollars to pay for emergency staffing and equipment. That’s on top of an unprecedented ask for $20-million for longer-term forest health work, thinning stands and making public forests more resistant to wildfire.

Goldmark says last year’s Carlton Complex Fire was the worst he has ever seen.  The current draught declarations combined with this year’s warmer than normal forecast for the summer is making him nervous.

Goldmark says he won't count on help from anyone this season. Last year, the deadly Carlton Complex required help from 40 states.  

Nancy leson

Nancy says "I love gardening." But she admits that she's not good at it "the way I'm good at cooking."  Me neither.  I'm a way better cook than a gardener.  I'd rather have chicken guts on my hands than dirt any day.  

But this year Nancy's got a brand new gardening bag.  It's called "Square Foot Gardening" from Mel Bartholomew's book of the same name.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Teacher union protests that have rolled through Washington school districts for nearly a month now reached a climactic moment Tuesday as thousands of Seattle teachers walked off the job for a one-day strike, leaving schools in the state's largest district closed.

An estimated 4,000 teachers picketed at eight high schools in the morning before marching more than two miles through downtown Seattle in the afternoon, railing against legislative proposals they say leave them underpaid and overwhelmed in classrooms.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

After expressing doubts about the legality of ongoing teacher walkouts, state Republican lawmakers have scheduled a hearing on a bill that would block the state from paying a striking teacher's salary or benefits during the strikes.

Spokane Republican Sen. Michael Baumgartner in a statement said teachers are making political points with children bearing the cost. "These strikes use our children as a political football," said Baumgartner, one of the bill's sponsors.   

The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

KPLU

For about a quarter-century Peter Bernstein has been one of the most in-demand guitarists in jazz.  So in-demand in fact, his fans were more likely to hear him on someone else’s CD rather than his own.  

However, even though he’s sought after as a side-man, Peter’s slowly been putting together a fine discography of his own, with 10 CD releases since 1992.  In this studio session with Abe Beeson, there’s no question about who’s leading the band.  

Here’s Peter Bernstein front and center, performing 3 of his favorite pieces in a trio setting that includes Chuck Deardorf on bass and Matt Jorgensen on drums.

Paula Wissel

In addition to a book or movie, you can now take Internet access home from the Seattle Public Library.

The library has started checking out 150 mobile Wi-Fi devices. The SPL HotSpot devices will connect to borrowers laptops, tablets or smart phones and provide free Internet access anywhere 4G LTE or 3G service is available. The mobile online access will be limited to 90 minutes daily.

AP Images

UPDATE: At a press conference about WiFi for the poor, Mayor Ed Murray was asked about the drilling permit and if the city planned further legal action.

Murray said he wasn't interested in a confrontation, but rather changing the port commissioners' minds. He said he believes he accomplished that with the city's stated opposition. He also says the city and the Port of Seattle were in conversations about the Royal Dutch Shell drilling rig.

"My goal is not to score points. My goal is to actually change the commission's mind, the Port Commission's mind and we accomplished that goal." Mayor Ed Murray.


Jim Levitt

The Ballard Jazz Festival began 13 years ago with the Ballard Jazz Walk and the Jazz Walk continues to be the most popular element of the festival which this year ran four days with nightly concerts.  

Friday night, 17 bands played in 9 different venues within walking distance of each other in old Ballard and hundreds of fans circulated between the cozy, informal spaces.  The flavor is like fabled jazz streets including 52nd Street in New York, and Central Avenue in L.A.   We recorded four different groups that night and they are be featured on Jazz Northwest.

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