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Life in the Northwest
5:18 pm
Tue March 15, 2011

Fee hike for climbing Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier 4/13/08
Flickr user as737700 flickr.com

The priceless experience of climbing Mt. Rainier will cost you an extra $13 this year. Rainier National Park officials are now charging $43 for a climbing pass for adults over the age of 25. Climbers 24 and younger get a $30 youth rate. The new rates are effective immediately. Passes are good for one year.

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Washington's Economy
3:36 pm
Tue March 15, 2011

State's jobless rate drops slightly

A few more of us are finding work, according to the latest employment figures released by the state's Employment Security Department on Tuesday. This woman is looking for opportunities at a job fair in Seattle.
AP

Unemployment ticked downward in Washington state in February as hiring picked up. The changes were small, but the job market seems to have “turned the corner,” according to the State's Employment Security department. 

Washington's chief labor economist Dave Wallace, spoke about the fresh data released Tuesday. Wallace says the hard-hit construction industry showed surprisingly strong gains regionally and nationally:

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Business
3:25 pm
Tue March 15, 2011

Ailing retailer Harry & David expected to survive, but shrink

A Harry & David retail store.
Tom Banse N3

One of the best known Northwest brands is on the verge of bond default or bankruptcy according to financial analysts. Gourmet food retailer Harry & David is one of the biggest employers in southern Oregon. It also has a network of anxious suppliers around the region.

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earthquake
1:23 pm
Tue March 15, 2011

Japan’s quake, tsunami and what it teaches the Northwest

A tsunami wave carries cars, houses and other debris across farmlands in northeast Japan, Friday, March 11, 2011.
NHK via YouTube

You may have heard Washington has an earthquake fault similar to the one that devastated Japan.  While there are many fault-lines criss-crossing western Washington, the only one that bears a strong similarity is under the ocean, parallel to our coast-line.  It’s called the Cascadia subduction zone. 

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Law & Justice
9:55 am
Tue March 15, 2011

Prosecutors seek death penalty in murder of prison guard

Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe says he'll seek the death penalty if Byron Scherf is convicted of aggravated murder in the death of Monroe prison Corrections Officer Jayme Biendl.

In announcing his decision Tuesday in Everett, Roe said jurors "should have the opportunity of imposing the ultimate punishment if they see fit."

Biendl was strangled Jan. 29 in the prison chapel.

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Japan Quake
8:11 am
Tue March 15, 2011

Tsunami-hit Oregon county looks for aid

A boat damaged by the tsunami at Brookings Harbor
Sergeant Scott Punch Oregon State Police

A southern Oregon county battered by last Friday's tsunami is turning to the state and federal government for assistance. High waves caused heavy damage the harbor in Brookings. One local official hand-delivered a request for assistance to the state capitol.

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Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement
7:41 am
Tue March 15, 2011

McGinn: Take the viaduct down by next year

Traffic at left heads northbound on Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct, above the southbound lanes below, through downtown.
AP

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says he thinks the city’s waterfront viaduct poses an earthquake risk and should be taken down next year.

That's a good four years before the viaduct's planned replacement -- a deep-bore tunnel under downtown -- would be ready.

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News Roundup
7:21 am
Tue March 15, 2011

Tuesday morning's headlines

Former Micosoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates, right, and former Corporate Vice President J Allard, left, posed for photos in 2007 with Zune media players. Microsoft has now announced that it is giving up its Zune.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

Making headlines around the Northwest this morning:

  • Boeing Readies for 747-8 First Flight
  • Dozens of Mudslides Block Rail Lines
  • Microsoft's Zune Sails Away

 

First Flight Plans for 747-8

Boeing's newest passenger jet could make its maiden voyage as early as Sunday.  The Herald of Everett Michelle Dunlop reports the  only obstacles are some tests on taxiing the plane and a thumbs-up from the Federal Aviation Administration:

"The team continues to do great work to get the 747-8 Intercontinental into the air," said Elizabeth Lund, vice president and general manager, 747 program. "It'll be a great day for the team when the airplane flies."

In the run-up to first flight, Boeing conducted flight simulation tests last weekend. The freighter version of the 747-8 is already in the air for tests, Dunlop writes. Initial deliveries of the freighter jets are scheduled by year's end.

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Money Matters
4:56 am
Tue March 15, 2011

Worried about pensions?

Are you losing sleep over your pension fund?

Public and private pension funds are under a lot of stress due to the Great Recession. The Washington Post's Peter Whoriskey recently reported state and local pensions may be underfunded by $1.5 trillion more than previously thought. NPR has reported the states are facing a $3 trillion pension shortfall.

But financial commentator Greg Heberlein tells KPLU's Dave Meyer the situation may not be as bad as it looks.Greg says there's cause for concern, but he's optimistic. 

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Embezzlement
3:50 am
Tue March 15, 2011

Alleged embezzlement at judges' association

We have learned of an embezzlement involving taxpayer dollars in case with an unlikely victim: Washington's Superior Court Judges.

No charges have been filed, but a federal investigation is underway into years of alleged theft at the Superior Court Judges' Association of Washington.

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Medical clinic protests
6:13 pm
Mon March 14, 2011

Justice Department sues anti-abortion activist

Federal prosecutors have filed a lawsuit to prevent an anti-abortion protester from blocking access to a medical clinic in Lynnwood.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice complaint, John C. Kroack walked into a Lynnwood health clinic on Jan. 7, 2010, became agitated as he talked about abortion and tried to force his way into one of the exam rooms. Prosecutors say a nurse had to hold her body against the door to keep him from breaking it down.

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KPLU Studio Sessions
3:02 pm
Mon March 14, 2011

John Pizzarelli: Always ‘on’, always John

We've said it before and we'll say it again: Having guitarist/vocalist/storyteller, John Pizzarelli, as a guest in the KPLU studios is always great fun. He loves making music, he loves telling stories and he loves entertaining his fans.

When he visited us recently for this performance/interview with Abe Beeson, several members of the KPLU Leadership Circle attended the event, and John Pizzarelli played to this small group the same way he'd play to a full house at Lincoln Center.

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Japan Quake
10:09 am
Mon March 14, 2011

Danger to U.S. considered unlikely from Japanese nuclear crisis

A resident suspected of being exposed to radiation is taken to medical care by a security team, in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima, northern Japan Sunday, March 13, 2011 following radiation emanation from a nuclear reactor after Friday's massive quake.
AP

A local expert says danger to the United States is unlikely from the nuclear crisis in Japan, following the devastating earthquake and tsunami. That's also being echoed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

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News Roundup
7:49 am
Mon March 14, 2011

Monday morning's headlines

It will be a rainy and windy Monday around Western Washington, with high temperatures in the low 50's.  Rain is in the forecast all this week. 

Making headlines around the Northwest this morning:

  • Mudslides Affect Commute
  • Northwest Relief Workers to Japan
  • Obama's Education Secretary Here, Virtually

 

Rails and Roads Covered in Mud

Sounder rail lines, Amtrak routes and at least one major highway are blocked by mudslides this morning. Sunday's heavy rains caused at least three separate slides over Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks: two north of Seattle, and one in southwest Washington near Vancouver. 

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Monday's Photo
7:33 am
Mon March 14, 2011

Wearin' of the green at St. Paddy's Day Dash

St. Patrick's Day Dash participants in a "Seattle showers" costume on Aurora Aveneue North on Sunday, March 13, 2011.
Erin Hennessey

It was a wet and rainy day for Sunday's St. Patrick's Day Dash in Seattle. But that didn't deter about 14,000 people from participating in this 3.8-mile run and walk near Seattle Center. The wearin' of the green was also embraced.

Beer hats, green tutus, and KPLU's favorite - a man in a Seattle "shower" - added color and much appreciated whimsy to the event. The dash was sponsored by the Detlef Schrempf Foundation, with all proceeds going to Camp Fire USA Puget Sound Council and Seattle Children's Autism Center.

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