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Gun Initiative
10:25 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Rural Farmers On I-594: Make Your Gun Laws, But We Won’t Abide

From left to right, Ben and Frank Wolf are brothers who farm together in the Palouse in southeast Washington.
Anna King

In rural parts of the Northwest, many believe owning a gun is sort of like owning a garden trowel. You just have one or two around.

In November, Washington voters will decide on two gun-related initiatives. Initiative 594 aims to close loopholes on gun sales without background checks. The initiative is likely to pass, according to a recent poll. But in rural Washington, some people are skeptical the initiative will hit its intended target.

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Hanford Nuclear Reservation
9:51 am
Thu October 16, 2014

EPA Fines Hanford For Stagnating Radioactive Waste Near Columbia River

The K-East and K-West reactors were shut down in 1970 and 1971.
U.S. Department of Energy

The Environmental Protection Agency intends to fine the U.S. Department of Energy up to $10,000 per week if radioactive waste just a stone's throw from the Columbia River isn’t cleaned up.

Behind the old called the K-West reactor at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is a huge concrete swimming pool-like basin. It was built in the 1950s and meant to last for 20 years. That’s where workers dumped hot irradiated rods until they cooled. Later, they were shuttled off to be further refined into plutonium for bombs.

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BirdNote
9:00 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Waterfowl And Lead

Credit Durrell Dew

  Waterfowl must swallow hard particles so their gizzards can grind up hard foods, like grains. Unfortunately, they can't tell a lead pellet from a small pebble. Beginning in 1991, waterfowl hunters were required to switch from lead shotgun pellets to pellets made of non-toxic metals. The switch to non-toxic shot has made a positive difference for waterfowl, like this Trumpeter Swan. Where does your state stand? Check Related Resources to find out!

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Going Places
5:00 am
Thu October 16, 2014

Tips On Staying Healthy While You Travel

File image
Teresa Crawford AP Photo

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the cases that have popped up elsewhere on the planet have put new scrutiny on travel. Health officials have been quick to assure the public that catching the disease on a plane or at an airport is unlikely. But staying healthy while traveling is a major concern for many people, even before the outbreak.

An important note before we keep going: We are not medical experts. And we’re not going to address Ebola specifically. For information on that, look to the resources linked at the end of this article.

What we can tell you is what KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley does to stay healthy while he travels.

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Same-Sex Marriage
3:49 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Idaho Gay Rights Supporters Hope Gay Marriage Marks New Direction

Shelia Robertson, center, and her son Bridger, bottom center, react at as the county recorder opens at 10 a.m. to issue same-sex marriage licenses at the Ada County Courthouse in Boise, Idaho, on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014.
Otto Kitsinger AP Photo

Same-sex couples across Idaho headed to county courthouses Wednesday, the first official day of legal gay marriage in the state since a court overturned Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage.

In Boise, there was a long line of couples at the Ada County courthouse. Among them were some of the plaintiffs who took the state to court for refusing to marry them.

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Prostitution
3:40 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

King County Flips The Script On Prostitution, Targeting Buyers Instead Of Sex Workers

File image
Elaine Thompson AP Photo

Law enforcement authorities in King County have announced a major change in how they go after prostitution. They said they plan to stop targeting prostituted women, and train their sites instead on the men paying for sex.

Police and advocates say prostituted women have long been targeted for arrest – 10 times more often than the buyers, according to the Washington State Patrol.

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Business
3:20 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Former Boeing Executive Alan Mulally’s Advice On Labor: 'Working Together Works’

Alan Mulally
Thomas Hawk Flickr

Against a backdrop of Boeing labor relations that one analyst described as the worst he’s ever seen, former Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Executive Alan Mulally delivered some advice on how to boost morale: work together and include everyone.

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Standardized Testing
3:10 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Four Red Flags Found In One Seattle School's Now-Invalidated Test Results

File image
Wes Chapman Flickr

Someone altered test responses at Seattle's Beacon Hill International School in a way that significantly increased the elementary school's test scores. State education officials have now thrown out the entire school's results after noting "heavy erasure" marks on the test forms.

Whatever the reason for the alterations — both Seattle Public Schools and the state aren't using the word "cheating" — the changes produced some pretty startling test results, as a state analysis shows:

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Jobless Rate
12:47 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Job Growth Stalled In Washington, Oregon During September

FILE - In this June 23, 2014 photo, recruiter Christina O, with New Western Acquisitions, left, take Raheem Shaw's resumé during a job fair.
Matt Rourke AP Photo

Job growth stalled during September in Oregon and Washington, according to new numbers from the respective state employment departments.

In Washington's case, state labor economist Paul Turek is not too concerned by one month of flat hiring.

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How We Sound
12:37 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

Listen: Can You Pick Out The Northwest Accent? (And Yes, We Have One!)

Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP Photo

Think we don’t have an accent here in the Pacific Northwest? Think again.

Scientists say we do, in fact, have an accent, though our native ears may not always pick up on it. The longer we’ve lived here, the harder it is for us to hear our own distinct subtleties, according to experts.

So let’s put our ears to the test. We asked three people to say the same sentence: “Please put the fish you caught at dawn in the bag, not in the bowl.” Click on the three audio clips below to hear them, then pick out the voice you think belongs to a native Northwesterner. 

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BirdNote
9:00 am
Wed October 15, 2014

Cattle Egret - You've Got A Friend In Me

Credit Kenneth Cole Schneider

  Many birds that forage in open country, such as Cattle Egrets, benefit from association with large grazing mammals. The mammals scare up insects as they move, making them more visible to the birds. In the egrets’ native lands in Africa, the birds feed with elephants, rhinos, and Cape buffalos. In the Americas, Cattle Egrets associate with cattle and horses.

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Food for Thought
5:00 am
Wed October 15, 2014

Hugs And Kisses For XO Sauce, The Mommy Of All Umami

Simple and tasty. Plain boiled noodles with a gob of XO.
Nancy Leson

Editor's Note: This is a rerun of a vintage Food for Thought post.

Nancy Leson and I love the XO sauce, the incredibly flavorful Chinese condiment, but we don't love the price. Besides, it's always more fun to make your own. And there's no shortage of recipes.

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Lobbyists & Legislators
4:59 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Washington Ethics Board Adopts Annual Cap Of 12 Lobbyist-Paid Meals For Lawmakers

Starting in January, Washington lawmakers will be barred from accepting more than 12-lobbyist-paid meals per year. The state’s Legislative Ethics Board adopted that limit today after months of public hearings and deliberation.

The issue of free meals first came to light in May of last year when we, in partnership with the Associated Press, reported on the practice of lawmakers letting lobbyists pick up the tab.

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Standardized Testing
4:11 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Suspicious Test Results At Seattle Elementary Thrown Out As State, District Investigate

Carol VanHook Flickr

Washington state education officials have thrown out all standardized test scores at Seattle's Beacon Hill International School after a review found "heavy erasures" in the test booklets, district officials said in a letter to the school's parents and staff Tuesday.

State officials think "the test responses were altered in such a way as to significantly increase total scores," Interim Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Larry Nyland wrote in his letter.

High numbers of the erasure marks made from students changing wrong answers to right ones could indicate cheating, according to education experts. That said, there can also be legitimate, innocent explanations for these stray marks.

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BirdNote
9:00 am
Tue October 14, 2014

Shorebirds - Not On The Shore

Credit Brent Wellander

  Shorebirds' lives take them to many places other than the shore. Most of the shorebirds we see along our coasts migrate to the Arctic in summer. Here, many nest on the tundra, some along rushing streams, and others on rocky mountainsides. Long-billed Curlews winter on the Florida, Gulf, and Pacific coasts. But this one was seen in a field near Creston, BC, Canada, nearly 500 miles from the coast and 1/2 mile from the nearest body of water, the Kootenay River!

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