Other News

Affordable Care Act
5:45 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Wash. Health Exchange Reports Strong Enrollment Numbers Despite Early Glitches

CEO Richard Onizuka announces the latest enrollment numbers for Washington's health exchange.
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.

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Oso Slide
4:56 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Trying To Help Slide Victims? Beware Of Disaster Relief Fraud

In this Wednesday, April 16, 2014, photo, a flag hangs on one of two buildings pushed together near the edge of the massive deadly mudslide that hit the community of Oso, Wash., on March 22, 2014.
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.

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Health Insurance
5:00 am
Mon April 21, 2014

New State Rules Could Limit Cheaper Health Plans With 'Narrow Networks'

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidelr (File image)
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.

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On Resilience
4:59 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Washington's Own Bill Iffrig A Reluctant Hero Of Boston Marathon Bombing

Bill Iffrig
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." 

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Oso Slide
2:30 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Flags Lowered Statewide For One Week To Honor Landslide Victims

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.

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Oso Slide
5:00 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Slide Survivor: I Called County 3 Times Before Buying Home, But No One Warned Me

What's left of Robin Youngblood's property is seen in the wake of the mudslide.
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.

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Zoo Doo
5:00 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Everything You Need To Know About Woodland Park Zoo's Precious Doo

This steaming pile is just a few months away from becoming prime fertilizer.
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'

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Data Security
2:11 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Audit: State Gave Away, Sold Computers Containing Sensitive Personal Data

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.

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911 Outage
5:02 am
Thu April 10, 2014

CenturyLink, Agencies Say 911 Service Restored After Overnight Outage

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.

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Oso Slide
2:01 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Slide Survivor Haunted By Memories Of 'Horrible, Rumbling, Wet' Sound, Guilt

Washington mudslide survivor Amanda Skorjanc, left, talks to the media with her partner Ty Suddarth at Harborview Medical Center, Wednesday, April 9, 2014, in Seattl
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.”

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Infectious Diseases
9:40 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Researchers: We Shared The Flu Virus With Olympic Peninsula Sea Otters

Unfortunately, one of the few things humans share with sea otters is the flu virus.
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.”

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Philanthropy
3:41 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

$20 Million Gift From Bezos Family To Support Cancer Therapies At Fred Hutch

CT scans of a patient with stage 4 lymphoma before (left) and five months after (right) treatment with T cells show how tumors melted away.
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.

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Oso Slide
5:00 am
Mon April 7, 2014

In Wake Of Deadly Slide, Chaplains Responding To Emotional Emergencies

Based at the Darrington fire station, Reverend Owen Couch greets first responders when they come in from long days searching in the muck.
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."

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Homeless Youth
4:59 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Voices From The Street, Part 1

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. 

Oso Slide
11:59 am
Thu April 3, 2014

Universities, Bank Offer Financial Relief For Victims As Slide Death Toll Rises To 30

Emergency workers walk at the scene of a deadly mudslide that happened over a week earlier, Wednesday, April 2, 2014, in Oso, Wash.
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.

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