Other News

Interesting news stories from around the Pacific Northwest.

courtesy of Puget Sound Bike Share

It’s official: Seattle’s much-anticipated bike share program will launch with 500 bikes in September, thanks to a $2.5 million grant from Alaska Airlines.

City officials unveiled the plan for the program, called "Pronto! Emerald City Cycle Share," on Monday.

Tomorrow is GiveBIG day!

May 4, 2014

  On that day only, the Seattle Foundation will be partially matching all gifts to KPLU. Make your gift then, and your gift will be stretched to provide even more support for KPLU. 

Your generosity helps us to continue providing the music and news programming that you live.

Find out more about the Seattle Foundation and GiveBIG!

Paula Wissel / KPLU

The May Day violence that happened in downtown Seattle two years ago is still affecting how one Olympia man is living his life.  Matthew Duran, a political activist, wasn’t even in Seattle when windows were smashed in the Nakamura Federal Courthouse in 2012. But he paid dearly for his refusal to talk about who might have been involved.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

What’s the best tool when you have boisterous crowds mixing with police officers in a dense urban area? For the Seattle Police Department, it might be bikes. SPD officers took a refresher course last week on managing demonstrations on bicycles. Captain Chris Fowler, Commander of the West Precinct, said when the department trades tactical tips with other agencies, that’s what they always want to know more about.

Aaron Hushagen

As May 1 approaches, downtown business owners are getting ready. In recent years, factions of May Day protesters have broken windows and taken over the streets. Police officers have responded with tear gas and bike barricades. Anarchists have indicated they plan to march again Thursday.

Brianna / Flickr

Warmer temperatures this week mean more people will be out having fun on the water. Authorities say it’s a good time to remember that while the sun might be warm, the water is cold. 

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

After a rocky start, Washington’s health benefits exchange is taking a victory lap. Officials say the exchange got the late surge in enrollments it was counting on, pushing up its final numbers.

The first open enrollment period of Obamacare ended in March, and now that the exchange has processed most of the stragglers, it has released new numbers: 164,062 people enrolled in private plans, with another 423,205 enrolling in Medicaid through March 31. Factor in those now required to use the exchange’s website to re-up their Medicaid, and the number exceeds a cool million.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Think twice before clicking on a link soliciting money for victims of the March 22 mudslide that has claimed 41 lives. U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan says fraud is always a problem as people begin to recover from a disaster. 

Durkan and Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe are urging anyone who is aware of disaster relief fraud to call the toll-free National Disaster Fraud Hotline at (866) 720-5721, send an email to disaster@leo.gov.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

The practice of offering relatively inexpensive health plans with bare-bones provider networks has created tension between making health care affordable and keeping it accessible. It’s set to come to a head this week in Olympia.

The growth of “narrow networks” in Washington comes as the Affordable Care Act limits the ability of insurance companies to control their costs. That’s made it harder to offer plans at a range of prices — something the companies want to do as they compete for comparison shoppers on the health exchanges.

Jessica Robinson

An elderly man from Lake Stevens has become a reluctant symbol of resilience in the face of terrorism. 

An image of 79-year-old Bill Iffrig, blown off his feet in an orange singlet near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, went around the world. He was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and interviewed for a 12-minute online documentary titled "The Finish Line." 

Tom Banse / Flags fly at half mast in front of Washington state Capitol.

Flags will fly at half-mast across Washington state until next Tuesday to honor the victims of last month's deadly landslide. Earlier Tuesday, the Snohomish County medical examiner raised the death toll by one to 37. Seven others remain missing.

Courtesy Robin Youngblood

Former Oso resident Robin Youngblood calls the mudslide she survived last month “devastating, horrific and totally unnecessary.” Thirty seven people are confirmed dead, and seven remain missing as crews search for remains. 

Youngblood was pulled from the ruins after her mobile home was flattened. She’s now on a mission to get laws changed to prevent people from building or remaining in slide-prone areas once the danger is known.

Ryan Hawk / Woodland Park Zoo

  People from North Everett to Bainbridge Island are lining up at Woodland Park Zoo to collect the winnings from an exotic lottery. They've won the right to buy a full truckload of composted animal dung.

In all, 743 people submitted their names in this spring’s “Fecal Fest," but only 200 will drive away with the prized loads.

Meet 'The GM Of BM, The Number One Of Number Two'

Mikkel Ronne / Flickr

State agencies have likely given away or sold hundreds of surplus computers without removing confidential data from their hard drives, according to the state auditor.

A performance audit released Thursday says a spot check of more than a thousand remaindered machines found about 9 percent of them still contained sensitive data, such as social security numbers and medical information.

Emergency 911 phone service has been restored in Washington after a 6-hour-long statewide overnight outage.

CenturyLink spokeswoman Kerry Zimmer in Spokane says service was restored about 8 a.m. Thursday in Washington. Service was restored about 6:30 a.m. in parts of Oregon that also were affected.

AP Photo/The Herald, Dan Bates, Pool

Amanda Skorjanc was sitting in her kitchen with her baby son, Duke, when she heard “what sounded like a truck off a rumble strip.”

“And then it continued, and I thought, ‘Oh, maybe it’s an earthquake.’ And then the light started to shake. The light started to blink,” said the 25-year-old mother.

Skorjanc looked out the side door of her Oso home, and saw nothing. Then she looked out the front door.

“It was like a movie. Houses were exploding,” she said, fighting back tears. “The next thing I see is the neighbor’s chimney coming in through our front door. And I turned and I held Duke, and I did not let him go.”

Tania Larson / U.S. Geological Survey

Humans are particularly generous with the flu, otter-wrangling scientists have found.

People shared the 2009 swine flu epidemic with ferrets, dogs, cats, raccoons and pigs, and new research shows even wild sea otters in Washington state got hit. 

"These otters, which we think were living in a relatively pristine environment off the Olympic Peninsula, were exposed to pathogens that are more commonly associated with people," said Virologist Hon Ip with the U.S. Geological Survey, who co-authored the study published in the May 2014 issue of “Emerging Infectious Diseases.”

Courtesy of Dr. David Maloney / Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

The family of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos has given Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center its largest-ever single gift.

The $20 million donation will fund research into cancer immunotherapy, a field that uses the body’s own immune system fight tumors. Fred Hutch president Dr. Larry Corey says the line of research is making huge strides.

Rae Ellen Bichell / KPLU

As the weeks go by after the deadly mudslide in Oso, the number of volunteers helping to clean up the muddy mess is dwindling. But there’s another team working on an invisible mess — the emotional one. They’re volunteer, emergency response chaplains. Long after the funerals are over and the debris has been disposed of, their work will continue. 

Steve Schertzinger, Owen Couch, and Suzanne and Ray Thompson were some of the first volunteers to arrive after the mudslide in Oso. The chaplains will likely be some of the last to leave. 

Since they retired as a nurse and a firefighter, Suzanne and Ray Thompson have bounced from disaster to disaster.

"Tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, ice storms," Ray Thompson recalled. "I've kind of lost count."

Florangela Davila

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of radio conversations between homeless youth. Voices will also be broadcast as part of the Kids@Risk coverage on Crosscut.com. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Washington State University will waive next year's tuition and fees for students who live near the site of the deadly March 22 mudslide in Snohomish County, school leaders announced this week.

The slide "was such an obvious tragedy for our state and for the folks in that area that the troops rallied early and discussions started about how WSU could help," said university spokesperson Kathy Barnard.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Searchers painstakingly combing through mud and debris have confirmed the deaths of 29 people, though more have been found than the official tally reflects. Twenty people are listed as missing.

Father Tim Sauer, pastor of Catholic churches in communities on either side of the slide, said the first funerals are expected within the next several days.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Tons of donated food has already poured into the tiny Snohomish County communities touched by the deadly March 22 mudslide, and not all of it's for humans.

Dozens of volunteers spent the weekend stocking up donated feed for critters as small as chickens and as large as cows at a makeshift animal shelter and food shelf at the Darrington Rodeo Grounds, just east of the slide area.

It's one of many ways community members are coping with the disaster, which hit the heart of the state's horse country. Members of the Darrington Horse Owner's Association started the effort to accommodate animals displaced by the slide.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

England’s health secretary has taken the unusual step of using a Seattle hospital to announce a major policy reform in his own country. The new patient safety policies are partly inspired by Seattle’s Virginia Mason Medical Center.

Washington Health Benefits Exchange

Washington’s health exchange is wrestling with how to accommodate people who have had trouble signing up for insurance. The March 31 deadline has been looming for months, as officials urge people to get covered or face a fine.

But considering the well-known problems at the state and federal exchanges, officials figured some people will need an extension. The question is who gets it.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

One thing about the Affordable Care Act is that now we’re all expected to be informed consumers about buying insurance. If you’ve never done that, you might be surprised at all the jargon you’re supposed to know. And if you’ve waited until the last minute to enroll — most people have until March 31 to sign up and dodge the fine, it’s time to start cramming.

Rae Ellen Bichell / KPLU

Following a 108-day trip to Antarctica, Seattle-built icebreaker Polar Star returned to its homeport at the U.S. Coast Guard base in Elliott Bay Friday.

The vessel, with its 75,000 horsepower, cut a path for a tanker and cargo ship to deliver supplies to a U.S. research station ahead of the coming Antarctic winter. 

U.S. Department of Energy

The state of Washington has ordered the federal government to pump out a leaking double-shell tank of waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The state says pumping must begin by Sept. 1.

Most Americans who still don’t have health insurance by March 31 could face a fine, and Washington’s health benefits exchange is hoping the looming deadline will help motivate people to enroll. But so far, the exchange is lagging behind its goals.

Massachusetts, which served as a template for the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to get insurance or pay a penalty, saw a huge rush just before the deadline. Exchange board member Phil Dyer says Washington needs a similar surge.

“Well, I feel like we’re behind the power curve. We’ve got a long way to go,” Dyer said. “Let’s wait and see if March gets us there, and then take a hard look at planning for Exchange 2.0.”

Alex Brandon / AP Photo

On this first day of spring, the seasonal outlook is calling for a warmer-than-average spring west of the Cascades, according to the National Weather Service.

The strongest signal to emerge from the Weather Service climate models foreshadows above-normal temperatures along the West Coast.

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