U.S. Department of the Interior

For over a hundred years, nobody saw the mouth of the Nisqually River in its original, natural state. Now, thanks to a new, mile-long boardwalk and the removal of the dikes that fenced the water out, you can experience the estuary in a way that no living person ever has.

Joerg Sarbach / AP

Here's how bitter it's become in the battle between Google and Microsoft's Bing search engine.

At a conference in San Francisco, a Google executive stood on stage and accused Microsoft of using the latest version of its Internet Explorer browser to spy. Google ran a sting operation to prove his point, as summarized by Todd Bishop at TechFlash:


Making headlines around the Northwest this morning:

  • Monroe Prison Employees Faced Previous Assault
  • State Tuition Program Heading Toward Trouble?
  • Pierce County Takes Stand Against All-Mail Vote


Report: Evidence Prison Guard May Have Fought Back

Investigations into the death of Officer Jayme Biendl at the Monroe Correctional Center chapel Saturday night reveal evidence of a physical struggle. The Herald of Everett reports a physical examination of the prime suspect showed signs he'd been involved in violence.

Gary Davis / KPLU News

You might have wondered -- as you gazed out your sunny window and listened to news of record cold and snow sweeping the midwest and East coast -- is there a connection?

Yes, there is.

"Our weather often is the just the opposite of what it is in the eastern part of the united states," says Cliff Mass, professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington. 

"When we are cold, like it was just before Thanksgiving, they tend to be warm," says Mass.

The reason we're yin when they're yang, and vice versa, has to do with the jet stream and "ridges" of high and low pressure in the sky, as Mass explains it.

The shrink-ray is insatiable. First it came for our donuts. Now it focuses on pies. These days you can get ‘em so small they should come with postage stamps instead of napkins.

In this Food for Thought, Nancy Leson tells about two of the new mini-pie joints recently opened in Seattle: Pie, located in city's Fremont neighborhood, and High 5 Pie on Capitol Hill. 

A teenager caught with an illegal gun in Washington gets little more than a slap on the wrist.  That’s the complaint of prosecutors who are trying to stiffen the penalty.

Alan Cleaver (alancleaver_2000) /

Washington businesses with overdue taxes can now pay them off without penalties and interest. It's the state Department of Revenue's first-ever tax amnesty. Delinquent taxpayers have until April 18th to apply for the temporary program and must pay their taxes by April 30th. Full details, including the application form, are available at

Some talented staff at West Seattle's Denny International Middle School have a hit, of sorts, on their hands.  Students are giving them high marks for their work in a video that's getting some viral tread: some 7,500 hits this past month.

"Teach Me How To Study," is a rap video parody of the popular "Teach Me How to Dougie" by the group Cali Swag District.

Charla Bear

Drivers in Seattle may have noticed they’re hitting more potholes this year than usual. City officials say they’re aware of 1,800 holes in the road this winter compared to 570 last winter. Mayor Mike McGinn says Mother Nature has made it tough to fix them:

“The rain, snow, freezing weather has led us to have a dramatically larger number of potholes and an aging infrastructure, frankly, this winter season than in prior years.  We are not currently meeting the 72-hour standard we’ve set for ourselves because of the number of pothole requests.”

Democrats in the Washington House of Representatives have a "One Washington" mantra. But a couple of Western Washington lawmakers are testing that East-West unity. Their issue? The flow of state tax dollars that go over the mountains.

City of Seattle website

Need to report a pothole in your neighborhood? Or pay a parking ticket? The City of Seattle has launched a new one-stop website that it hopes will improve customer service and foster public participation.

Jeff Maurone / Flickr

Wanna use state parks and other recreational lands this summer? Under a new proposal, you’ll have to cough up a $30 annual fee.

Democratic Senator Kevin Ranker of Friday Harbor is sponsor of Senate Bill 5622. The measure would raise money for state parks, as well as the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Fish and Wildlife, at a time when the state’s budget crisis is forcing lawmakers to close a massive budget gap.

Making headlines this morning around the Northwest:

  • Another Prosecution in Afghan War Crimes
  • Local Reaction to Health Bill Ruling
  • Seattle Schools Audit: Rules Not Followed


Army To Prosecute Fifth Stryker Soldier

The Army will prosecute Spc. Michael Wagnon, the fifth Stryker Brigade soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord accused of war crimes against Afghan civilians. The News Tribune's Adam Ashton reports Wagnon is accused of a variety of crimes, including murder, conspiracy and drug use:

Governor Chris Gregoire has ordered flags to fly at half-staff in memory of a slain prison correctional officer. Gregoire has also initiated an outside review of the murder of Officer Jayme Biendl over the weekend.

Divine Harvester / Flickr

Seattle area landlords are breathing a sigh of relief these days due to dropping rental vacancies. Real estate appraiser Richard Hagar tells KPLU's  John Maynard that two forces are driving this.

Liam Moriarty / KPLU News

Sure, like most Northwesterners, you recycle like a demon. Cans, glass, plastic, yard waste. You even compost your kitchen scraps. You’re a regular environmental hero.

Or maybe not ...


In case you missed it, Bill Gates thinks we should eradicate polio.

Not just him. You and me, too.

Bill and Melinda Gates have given a lot of money — about $1.3 billion — in support of the global campaign to eradicate polio. But, as Gates has been saying a lot the past week, it’s going to take a truly global effort to succeed:

“If eradication fails because of a lack of generosity on the part of donor countries it would be tragic. We are so close, but we have to finish the last leg of the journey,” says Gates in his annual letter released today.

Gates has been on the global media circuit for the past week or so stumping for polio eradication. He wants the public everywhere to push their governments to provide more funds for this big global project.

Gates made the case early last week when he announced his $50 million donation (matched by an Abu Dhabi crown prince) to boost the vaccination campaign in Pakistan and Afghanistan, two of the four countries (the others being India and Nigeria) where polio is still endemic.

Read more

Washington's governor has ordered an independent investigation into the killing of a prison guard at the Monroe Correctional Center on Saturday night.  Veteran officer Jayme Biendl was strangled at her post in the prison chapel. Her body was discovered after she failed to turn in her keys at the close of her shift.

An inmate who was missing during a routine count earlier Saturday evening, Byron Scherf, is considered the 'prime suspect' of Monroe Police, according to's Chris Grygiel:

Liam Moriarty / KPLU News

So, you live near a marina -- or a river or lake -- and you notice that an old, possibly-abandoned boat is sinking.

Who you gonna call?

Your first thought might be to notify the local police or fire department. Bryan Flint says that might work, or it might not.

Seattle Parks and Recreation

If you care about youth sports, neighborhood gatherings or activities for seniors, you might rely on community centers. In Seattle, some big changes to the facilities could be on the way. Officials say they’re too expensive as the city struggles with shrinking revenue. So they're asking anyone who's interested in community centers to help decide their fate.

Wash. DOC

His “worst nightmare.” That's how Washington’s Secretary of Corrections is describing the murder this weekend of a female correctional officer. Prison officials say 34-year-old Jayme Biendl was strangled to death.

Photo by Weatherly Schiele

Go ahead and joke about the bagpipe: It sounds like a dying cat!

Just don't joke in front of 15-year-old Alexander Schiele. The Snohomish resident plays in two Northwest Highland pipe bands and commutes twice a week to Vancouver, B.C. just to learn from some of the world's best.
Nothing compares to playing the pipes, he says, while rehearsing with the Northwest Junior White Spot United Pipe Band in Shoreline on a recent Sunday night.

Making headlines this morning around the Northwest:

  • Prison guard death first in 30 years
  • Details on Anti-War Protester Spying 
  • Suicide Prevention Fence for Olympia I-5 Bridge


Monroe Guard's Death

Shock and sadness over the murder of a Monroe Reformatory guard dominate western Washington headlines.  Jayme Biendl was killed late Saturday night while on duty in the prison chapel. An inmate - three-strikes  lifer Byron Scherf - is the lone suspect. 

Ben Curtis / AP

A rally in support of the anti-government protests in Egypt will begin at noon Saturday in downtown Seattle's Westlake Park.  

One of the organizers is Alaa Badr, an Egyptian American who has been in the United States for 17 years. He works for Microsoft and lives in Issaquah with his wife and three children. Lately, he says, they've been staying up till one in the morning watching Al Jazeera.

"But then we get up again at 5 a.m., just to see what's happened, because of the time difference," he says.  

WSDOT / Flickr

Tolls on the 520 bridge are set to start this spring and they could be as high as $3.50 each way. 

Frustrated?  There's an app for that. 

An Irish company called Avego created a new smart phone app for "real-time ride sharing." Company leaders say it encourages more carpooling. 


Bill and Melinda Gates are big believers in vaccines and in the benefit of eradicating, rather than simply controlling, those human diseases that have the potential for being completely wiped out.

Today, Gates and British Prime Minister David Cameron announced a combined new donation of $166 million in support of the global polio eradication campaign.

Read more


The sudden death of Mariners' Hall of Fame broadcaster Dave Niehaus last November left a huge void in the team's radio booth. It's a void that will be evident this weekend as fans flock to Safeco Field for Mariners FanFest - the annual meet-and-greet with players and team personnel.

Since there is no one voice that can replace Niehaus, the Mariners have decided to use five this season. 

Wonderlane / Flickr

The weekend brings the first of many planned Lunar New Year celebrations around the region. Many Asian cultures mark the event with colorful festivals, parades and performances, including the Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tibetan and Mongolian communities, among others.

The Chinese celebrations often include the dramatic Lion and Dragon dances. Many of the region's events are centered around children and family activities:

PRNewsFoto / Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft handily beat Wall Street's expectations, posting record revenue: nearly $20 billion in its second quarter.

The company says the strong financial report was fuelled by rebounding business demand, as well as swift sales of the Kinect motion controller for its Xbox 360 video games. 

Xbox sales booming

Microsoft says it sold 8 million Kinect motion controllers in just 60 days this past holiday season, far exceeding the company’s expectations, as well as Wall Street's.