News From NPR


5:26 pm
Mon April 23, 2012

Apparent murder of patient first at Western State in 20 years

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 4:22 pm

A fight over unwanted sexual behavior may have led to the apparent murder of a patient at Washington’s Western State Hospital. Prosecutors have not yet filed charges in connection with the death last Friday.

It was around 3 o’clock last Friday afternoon that staff at Western State found the victim, 28-year-old Paul Montefusco in another patient’s room. Lt. Chris Lawler of the Lakewood Police Department describes the scene.

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The Two-Way
10:51 am
Mon April 23, 2012

VIDEO: Space Out With NASA's 'Walking On Air'

From NASA's 'Walking on Air' video, a view of an aurora from space.

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 8:52 am

If you're into images of Earth taken from space, NASA has a new video for you. Called Walking on Air, it "features a series of time lapse sequences photographed by the Expedition 30 crew aboard the International Space Station" and is set to the song Walking in the Air by Howard Blake.

Author Interviews
9:34 am
Sat April 21, 2012

'Steinbeck in Vietnam': A great writer's last reports

Originally published on Sat April 21, 2012 7:46 am

The last piece of published writing from one of America's greatest writers was a series of letters he sent back from the front lines of war at the age of 64.

John Steinbeck's reports shocked readers and family so much that they've never been reprinted — until now.

Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962 for a life's work writing about those who had been roughed up by history — most notably his Depression-era novels, Of Mice And Men and The Grapes of Wrath. Four years later, Steinbeck left for Vietnam to cover the war firsthand.

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NPR Science
9:30 am
Sat April 21, 2012

Lights off, eyes open: New moon darkens skies for meteor shower

A composite of Lyrids over Huntsville, Ala., in 2009. This year, the meteor shower will hit its peak before dawn Sunday morning.
Danielle Moser/MSFC NASA

Originally published on Sat April 21, 2012 7:58 pm

Tonight is a good night for a meteor shower. The Lyrids aren't known for their flashy shows, but this year they're getting help from a new moon.

The dark skies will be "ideal for meteor watching from the ground," NASA says.

Kelly Beatty, senior contributing editor for Sky and Telescope magazine, tells Weekend Edition host Scott Simon the best views are from the darkest places.

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The Salt
5:57 pm
Fri April 20, 2012

For most of human history, being an omnivore was no dilemma

Gorillas are fine with being herbivores, like this one at a Seattle zoo. But humans evolved as omnivores. Is diet destiny?
Ted S. Warren AP

Originally published on Fri April 20, 2012 11:53 am

If diet is destiny, then modern humans should thank our ancestors for their ability to eat just about anything.

Two new studies peek into the distant past to try to figure out just how big a role food played in human evolution. One says that eating meat made it possible for early human mothers to wean babies earlier and have more children.

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Privatizing liquor
4:11 pm
Fri April 20, 2012

Wash. state nets millions from liquor store auction

Photo by Tom Banse

Originally published on Fri April 20, 2012 7:09 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. - State officials in Olympia are verifying bids this weekend from a very successful online auction of liquor stores. Private entrepreneurs collectively shelled out well in excess of $13 million for the rights to take over specific state-run liquor stores.

A voter-approved ballot measure is forcing Washington state to privatize the liquor business. Going, going, gone are licenses to operate 167 state-run liquor outlets.

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4:36 pm
Thu April 19, 2012

Alaska Airlines navigating through rising fuel costs

Alaska Air Group announced a profit for the 12th-consecutive quarter. Photo courtesy Alaska Airlines

Originally published on Thu April 19, 2012 2:48 pm

Alaska Airlines and its subsidiary Horizon Air continue to make money despite sharply higher fuel prices. Executives with the Seattle-based airline group Thursday reported a 12th-consecutive quarterly profit.

CEO-elect Brad Tilden says the $28 million net profit in this year's first quarter is "marginally" smaller than the same quarter last year.

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4:34 pm
Thu April 19, 2012

UI Professor Is New President of Darwin Foundation

Dr. Dennis Geist, courtesy of Darwin Foundation

Originally published on Thu April 19, 2012 3:42 pm

As the new president of the Charles Darwin Foundation, University of Idaho professor Dennis Geist looks to build on Darwin’s evolutionary theory, while also promoting conservation in a remote corner of the world.

Geist first visited the Galapagos Islands --where Darwin initially observed natural selection -- in 1981.

After joining the Charles Darwin Foundation, which oversees all research in the area, he began exploring how our planet may play a role in evolution.

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4:33 pm
Thu April 19, 2012

Tutu To Speak At Gonzaga Graduation Despite Alumni Petition

Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Photo courtesy Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation

Originally published on Thu April 19, 2012 4:08 pm

The president of Gonzaga University in Spokane is defending the choice of Archbishop Desmond Tutu as the school’s commencement speaker next month. Some alumni say Tutu’s positions on social issues makes him an inappropriate choice for the Catholic school.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu has expressed support for abortion rights, contraception, same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay clergy. Next month, he’s slated to receive an honorary law degree at Gonzaga’s graduation ceremony.

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3:35 pm
Wed April 18, 2012

March Unemployment Rate Flat In Washington

This Washington Employment Department map shows the preliminary unemployment rates in each county for March 2012.

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 2:48 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. - A day after Oregon delivered a virtually unchanged monthly jobs report for March, neighboring Washington did the same. Washington's employment department pegged the state's unemployment rate last month at 8.3 percent. That's the same as the revised rate for February.

The state's chief labor economist Dave Wallace says manufacturing continues to lead the recovery, but the overall picture indicates slowing growth.

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NPR diversions
3:03 pm
Wed April 18, 2012

Drinking on the job - is 2012 the new 1966? Tech companies in the mix

Actor Jon Hamm in a scene from AMC's Mad Men. The show is set in the 1960s — but today, many companies provide their employees with ready access to alcohol.
Ron Jaffe/AMC AP

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 8:56 am

The TV show Mad Men has won fans for breathing life — and a heavy whiff of bourbon — into the fictional advertising world of 1960s New York. But surely no American company has such a liver-pickling culture in this day and age, right?

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10:25 am
Wed April 18, 2012

Prototype early warning system worked during Calif. quake

This GPS station near the summit of Mount Olympus in Olympic National Park could be part of a future earthquake detection and early warning system. Courtesy of Tim Melbourne, CWU

Originally published on Tue April 17, 2012 5:00 pm

A prototype earthquake early warning system worked as designed when an actual quake gently shook California last Friday. Researchers reported the results Tuesday at the annual meeting of American seismologists.

Last year, a private foundation in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey gave a multimillion dollar grant to create an automated earthquake warning system for the Pacific Coast states.

The idea is to provide advance notice to prepare people for severe shaking. It could come via a cell phone alert or a pop-up on your computer or TV screen.

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Wolf reintroduction
10:15 am
Wed April 18, 2012

Washington couple pleads guilty in wolf poaching scheme

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 6:50 am

A couple from Twisp, Wash., has accepted a plea deal in a wolf poaching case. Under the agreement with federal prosecutors, Tom White and his wife will not face jail time.

White, his father, and his wife Erin were indicted last year in a conspiracy to kill some of the handful of grey wolves that live in eastern Washington. Police discovered the poaching scheme in late 2008 when the family tried to send a wolf pelt to a tanner in Canada. A business owner in Omak, Wash., reported the FedEx package was bleeding.

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NPR science
8:32 am
Wed April 18, 2012

Can you think your way to that hole-in-one?

Bo Van Pelt celebrates his hole-in-one during the final round of the Masters on April 8. New research suggests that golfers may be able to improve their games by believing the hole they're aiming for is larger than it really is.
Andrew Redington Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 4:50 am

Psychologists at Purdue University have come up with an interesting twist on the old notion of the power of positive thinking. Call it the power of positive perception: They've shown that you may be able to improve your golf game by believing the hole you're aiming for is larger than it really is.

Jessica Witt, who studies how perception and performance are related, decided to look at golf — specifically, how the appearance of the hole changes depending on whether you're playing well or poorly.

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Washington State Legislature
11:18 am
Tue April 17, 2012

'Hollow victory' for proponents of taxing banks in Wash.

File photo of anti-poverty protesters rallying outside the Association Of Washington Business summit at Suncadia Resort in September. Photo by Austin Jenkins

Originally published on Mon April 16, 2012 5:04 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. – For liberal activists in Washington, it has become the Holy Grail of tax breaks. We’re talking about a deduction banks can claim on some mortgages. Last week, the Washington legislature voted to end this tax exemption for large, out-of-state banks. But now some on the left are calling it a “hollow” victory.

This was the scene last September outside a meeting of business leaders in central Washington.

Advocates for the poor protested JPMorgan Chase and the tax break it –- and other banks -– get on interest earnings from first mortgages.

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