Other News

Interesting news stories from around the Pacific Northwest.

Courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives

The Seattle City Council is scheduled to vote today on whether to bring back the downtown streetcar.  

The proposed line would traverse First Avenue and link to the existing South Lake Union line and the First Hill line, which is slated to open later this year. 

Courtesy of Nathan Martin / Estelia Photography

Nathan Martin got the collecting bug in his early 20s. He accumulated more than 900 retro console games and arcade games — the same games he’d enjoyed playing as a kid growing up in Seattle, which he calls the “the Silicon Valley of video games.”

When he realized his collection was collecting dust on his shelves, he decided it was time to give back.

U.S. Census Bureau

New federal population figures released Thursday show the nation’s youngest county is in the Northwest, and not in an urban area. Madison County, Idaho is in the midst of eastern Idaho's potato country.

To give a comparison, the median age of the U.S. is almost 38 years old. The median age of Madison County is 23. That’s the lowest in the country and there’s one big reason: Madison County is home to Brigham Young University-Idaho.

Petros Giannakouris / AP Photo

Health plans in Washington state can’t refuse to cover services for transgender people if the same procedures are covered for others, according to a statement from the state insurance commissioner.

It’s not uncommon for private health plans to exclude gender transition procedures and medical services related to them. That’s what happened to Gwen Yeh of Seattle, who said her Premera plan wouldn’t pay for hormones or the frequent blood work she needed as part of her move toward living as a woman.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has issued a sweeping call for a “summer of safety,” an integrated approach to public safety that would lead to longer-term priority.

Standing before members of the Seattle City Council Wednesday, Murray touched on police reform, racial disparities, infrastructure and mental health. He said up to now, there has been a sense that the city doesn’t really have a clear, coordinated strategy for fighting crime and disorder.

Michael Coghlan / Flickr

Washington state’s prison system is projected to need 1,000 new beds by 2018. And that growth has Gov. Jay Inslee concerned.

Inslee on Tuesday announced a Department of Justice-backed review of the state’s criminal justice system. The goal is to look for ways to save money without jeopardizing public safety.

Anna King

The Timberbowl Rodeo in the town of Darrington, Washington saw some of its largest crowds ever this past weekend. Neighbors gathered at the event to hug, shake hands and heal from the tragic Oso landslide.

Alexis Blakey knows nearly everyone in the small town that lies 74 miles northeast of Seattle. A native of nearby Oso, Washington, 20-year-old Blakey said the landslide that made her town infamous is branded on her brain. She was at these same rodeo grounds that day when she saw ambulance after ambulance headed for Oso.

“I don’t know," Blakey said. "We were all just like, 'What is going on? Is this really happening right now?'”

Rachel La Corte / AP Photo

Search and rescue teams are combing the east side of Mount Rainier where a Seattle woman has gone missing amid snowy conditions.

Courtesy of Carolyn Corvi.

Editor's Note: “Senior Thesis” is a special week-long series that brings together venerable veterans in various fields with university students hoping to forge a career in the same field.

Jaime Katzer showed up at the studio in her best business attire, excited but a little nervous. The University of Washington senior was here to meet a woman who from the outside appears fearless.

Photo courtesy Alan Alabastro / Seattle Repertory Theatre

Editor's Note: “Senior Thesis” is a special week-long series that brings together venerable veterans in various fields with university students hoping to forge a career in the same field.

Actors, especially aspiring actors, can't wait for the perfect role to come along, says veteran of the Seattle stage Bob Wright.

"Put yourself in a position to work," said the actor who's been listed in Seattle Playbills with the name "R. Hamilton Wright" since 1979. "It's better to work than not work. Find ways to act."

An administrative law judge who accused the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner of pressuring her to rule in its favor broke her silence Monday, but she told lawmakers she’s not allowed to give them the whole story.

Patricia Petersen appeared before the state Senate Law and Justice Committee. She said she wants to tell the legislators what’s behind her spat with the OIC, including her accusation that the agency’s second-in-command pressured her to rule in the office’s favor.

But Petersen, in her first public comments since lodging a whistleblower complaint against her boss, said the commissioner gave her a gag order on the matter while it’s being investigated.

Courtesy of KING Broadcasting

Editor’s Note: “Senior Thesis” is a special week-long series that brings together venerable veterans in various fields with university students hoping to forge a career in the same field.

The college senior sat across from the retired anchorman. She'd brought a list of questions, but only looked at it once. She knew what to ask; she’d been thinking about it for the last four years.

“Do you feel like your career got in the way of other things?” she said.

“Oh, sure,” the anchorman said.

“I’m scared of that,” she said. “I don’t want to end up with a great career, but still have regrets of things I didn’t do.”

“Life is about choices,” he replied with reassurance, not admonition. Yes, you have to make choices, he said, so why not choose a little of everything?

RMI Expeditions

The big day has arrived for Bruce Stobie, the blind mountain climber featured in a KPLU story last month

Stobie flew to the base camp of Denali Thursday morning to begin his expedition. The Maple Valley man is aiming to become the fourth blind person to climb North America’s tallest mountain.

Bebeto Matthews / AP Photo

New research suggests that bike share programs have a downside, but the program Seattle is launching this fall will have a key feature that could help mitigate it.

Researchers from the University of Washington and Washington State University looked at bicycle injury data from 10 major cities, both with and without bike share programs. They found that when a city gets a bike share program, a higher proportion of injuries to its cyclists are head injuries. 

Courtesy of the Wshington Holocaust Education Resocure Center

The nation’s newest Holocaust museum, and the first in Washington state, is about to be unveiled in downtown Seattle. Its founders hope it will connect lessons from history with present-day issues.

The people behind the Holocaust Center for Humanity have been working in Washington classrooms for decades. Now they’ll have a permanent home in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, where teachers, students and the public can come to them.

Anna King

Japan’s crippled nuclear plant is bleeding hazardous radioactive water at a mind-staggering rate. Officials at Fukushima Daiichi are filling 27-foot-tall tanks nearly every other day. Now, in southeast Washington, a company called Kurion is developing and building a mobile filter system to help deal with that troublesome radioactive wastewater.

AP Photo

A would-be marijuana merchant is suing the city of Wenatchee over its ban on pot businesses. The outcome could have big implications for other local governments trying to keep out cannabis.

Shaun Preder of SMP Retail wants to open a retail pot store in Wenatchee. But the city does not grant licenses to businesses that don’t comply with federal law, which still considers marijuana illegal.

Derek Gunnlaugson / Flickr

Letting patients with post-traumatic stress disorder choose how they want to be treated can produce better outcomes for less money, according to a new study co-written by a University of Washington psychologist.

Treating someone with PTSD often comes down to a question of whether they get counseling or pharmaceuticals. The new study offers some evidence about which one works better, but even stronger evidence that letting the patient make the choice produces the best outcomes for the least cost.

Prof. Lori Zoellner, director of UW’s Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress, said letting patients decide helps them get the treatment best suited for them, and also increases their buy-in to whichever option they go with.

"You're probably more likely to take your medication regularly, to attend your psychiatrist visits more regularly. And in psychotherapy, you may also be more likely to do the homework," she said.

Washington state DOT

If you tried to make it into downtown Seattle during rush hour this morning, you have our sympathy. Just before 6 a.m., a metal plate popped out of an expansion joint along southbound I-5 just south of I-90. Three lanes of the freeway were closed and the resulting backup, at its peak, stretched more than 11 miles. 

Joe Mabel / Wikimedia

After a slow start, the state of Washington says it’s on track to fill the former headquarters of Amazon.com with tenants. But long-term costs remain a concern.

Paul Morigi / AP Images for National Portrait Gallery

Poet and author Maya Angelou died today at age 86. Her autobiography "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" broke new ground with its descriptions of overcoming racism and trauma in the South. Throughout her life, Angelou was celebrated for her words. She shared a few of those words with KPLU's Bellamy Pailthorp, in a 2011 interview we're reposting here:

Olympia Nonprofit Group Refurbishing Bikes For Veterans

May 28, 2014
Vetbikes.org

As Wesley Taylor explains it, a piece of his brain is dead.

He got injured in the Army, and while recovering at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, he noticed a group of veterans setting out for a morning ride each day. Taylor decided he wanted to give it a try, and started out on a reclined bike made to accommodate disabilities.

But the desire for speed motivated him to overcome balance problems left over from his injury.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Nina Garkavi was feeling rotten. She was throwing up. She’d barely slept the night before. And she hadn’t managed a poop without excruciating pain in weeks.

She was halfway through six months of in-patient chemotherapy when a nurse came into her hospital room and started prepping the empty bed opposite hers. The nurse informed her, matter-of-factly, that another patient would be joining her.

Washington state Department of Health

Memorial Day weekend in the Northwest coincides with prime time for ticks. These arthropods can drink your blood for days without you knowing.

So we asked an expert for the definitive answer on how to remove the blood-sucking bugs.

Washington State University

The newest variety of apple developed by Washington State University is one step closer to supermarkets with the announcement of its brand name.

The apple will be called the Cosmic Crisp.

Jessica Robinson

Over three days, the annual pilgrimage of 25,000 rollicking concertgoers to the Sasquatch Music Festival turns central Washington's picturesque Gorge Amphitheater along the Columbia River into the largest city in Grant County.

But not all of them stay there. Some end up at the tiny hospital in Quincy, Washington, with drug overdoses, alcohol poisoning and dehydration.

Bill Kramme / Flickr

Pedestrians of American Indian descent at are at higher risk of death in Washington state, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Complete Streets Coalition, a branch of Smart Growth America. 

Toby Talbot / AP Photo

This week, the four biggest mobile carriers met a voluntary deadline to be ready to allow consumers to send text messages to 911. But don't try that in an emergency just yet. Dispatchers in the Northwest don't yet have the capability to receive texts for help.

The Federal Communications Commission has been pressing cellular companies and emergency communication centers to accelerate text-to-911 rollout. Recently departed agency chairman Julius Genachowski argued, “Access to 911 must catch up with how consumers communicate in the 21st century."

But even when the technology arrives, voice will still be the best choice, according to Washington state E911 coordinator Ziggy Dahl.

Office of the Insurance Commissioner

The cost of health insurance for individuals is probably going up next year in Washington, but in a key test of the market under the Affordable Care Act, the rate hikes will be lower than in recent years.

How Obamacare would affect insurance rates has been one of the law’s big mysteries. There weren’t big price hikes this year, but now that the law has been fully in effect for some months, would there be a big jump for 2015?

According to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, the answer is no. In paperwork filed with the OIC, the 17 insurance companies have asked for an average increase of 8.25 percent increase. Commissioner Mike Kreidler says that's the smallest increase in seven years.

Courtesy Sasha Shaw

If you find giant hogweed growing in your garden, don't try to remove it without wearing protective clothing and safety glasses. Otherwise, you could end up suffering for a long time, says Sasha Shaw, an educator with the King County Noxious Weed Control Program.

Shaw has seen pictures of people hurt by giant hogweed. She says it's the plant's sap that "makes your skin hypersensitive to sunlight and then the sunlight causes burns and blisters. It can cause reddish to purplish scarring for up to several years.” 

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