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Germanwings Crash Highlights Workplace Approaches To Mental Health

KPLU News - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 16:13
The horrifying crash last week of the Germanwings flight operated by Lufthansa has put a spotlight on what the airline knew — and what it should, or could have done — about its pilot's mental health.

Lufthansa could face unlimited liability, after the pilot allegedly brought the plane down deliberately. Here in the U.S., employment experts say monitoring employees' mental health status raises a thicket of complicated issues.

According to the Air Line Pilots Association, most U.S.

Justice Department Won't Charge IRS' Lois Lerner With Criminal Contempt

KPLU News - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 14:23
Updated at 4:33 p.m. ET

The Justice Department will not pursue criminal contempt charges against former IRS official Lois Lerner, who was at the center of a political storm over the agency's alleged targeting of conservative groups. The announcement came from Ronald Machen, the outgoing U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, to House Speaker John Boehner. (The letter is embedded at the bottom of this story.)

Here's the background: Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment rights and refused to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in March 2014.

With Nostalgia And A Last Nosh, 1 Of 3 Remaining HoJo's Closes

KPLU News - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 14:12


Trading Walkathons For Ice Buckets, Charities Try To Hold On To Donors

KPLU News - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 14:12
Springtime means outdoor charity events, and there are plenty to choose from.

You can walk, run, bike, swim or even roll around in the mud to raise money for a cause.

Navajos Fight Their Food Desert With Junk Food And Soda Taxes

KPLU News - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 13:57
More than 30 cities and states across the country have attempted to tax soda. Nearly all have failed.

Now, a community of about 250,000 people has found a way to tax not just sugary beverages, but also junk food. At the same time, it's making fresh produce more affordable in one of the hardest regions in the U.S.

Sen. Robert Menendez Indicted On Corruption Charges

KPLU News - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 13:23
Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, has been indicted on federal corruption charges.

The indictment alleges that Menendez abused his office to benefit Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor who was the senator's friend and donor.

In Battered Tikrit, Iraqi Forces Claim Much, But Not All Of City

KPLU News - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 13:20
Driving from Baghdad north to Tikrit, we speed up a main road Wednesday through small towns that have been won back from the self-declared Islamic State, or ISIS. Some still have smoking buildings.

Madison, Wis., Council Votes To Ban Discrimination Against Atheism

KPLU News - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 12:28
Updated at 5:20 p.m. ET

In what is believed to be a first in the United States, the common council of Madison, Wis., has voted to amend the city's equal opportunities ordinance "to add nonreligion as a protected class."

The legislation adds atheists to the categories of people who could potentially face discrimination.

A Virus In Your Mouth Helps Fight The Flu

KPLU News - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 12:24
Hidden inside all of us are likely thousands of viruses — maybe more. They just hang out, harmlessly. We don't even know they're there.

But every once in a while, one of these viral inhabitants might help us out.

Young people infected with a type of herpes virus have a better immune response to the flu vaccine than those not infected, scientists at Stanford University report Wednesday.

Trevor Noah Is A Quarter Jewish. Does That Make His Anti-Semitic Jokes OK?

KPLU News - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 12:13
Editor's note: This post contains words and sentiments you might find deeply offensive.

The glow had barely dimmed on Comedy Central's unveiling of comedian Trevor Noah as the new host of The Daily Show when Noah's Twitter past came under fire. His critics have called some of his old tweets offensive, racist, misogynistic, homophobic and — the charge that seems to be getting the most attention — anti-Semitic.

Noah is a globally successfully comedian whose repertoire includes riffs on race and ethnicity. He's known for regularly pushing the envelope in his routines.

Iraq Claims Victory Over Militants In Strategic City Of Tikrit

KPLU News - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 12:11
The Iraqi government says its security forces have retaken Tikrit from militants with the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Recapturing the strategic city after a monthlong battle is considered a major setback for the jihadist group, also known as ISIS.

NPR's Alice Fordham, who returned from a short visit to Tikrit on Wednesday, says "a motley coalition" of police, soldiers and Shiite Muslim militiamen have worked with Iranian advisers on the ground and warplanes from the U.S.-led coalition in the air to flush out the extremists.

Diagnosing A Sinus Infection Can Be A DIY Project

KPLU News - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 12:11
Sinus infections are miserable, and it's hard not to want to run to the doctor for relief. Rethink that, the nation's ear, nose and throat doctors say.

Most people who get sinusitus feel better in a week, the doctors say, and many of those infections are caused by viruses.

Matamoros Becomes Ground Zero As Drug War Shifts On Mexican Border

KPLU News - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 11:55
Matamoros, which sits across the bridge from Brownsville, Texas, used to be a laid-back border town famed for margaritas and manufacturing.

But for at least the last five years, it's grown more and more violent: first, when the Zetas broke away from the Gulf Cartel, and more recently as a new feud has broken out between two factions within the Gulf.

It's the current hotspot in the mafia wars that seem to shift every few years up and down the U.S.-Mexico border.

11 Former Atlanta Public School Employees Found Guilty In Cheating Scandal

KPLU News - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 11:21
Eleven of 12 former public school employees in Atlanta were found guilty of racketeering in what is thought to be the biggest cheating scandal in American education, NPR member station WABE reports.

One defendant, teacher Dessa Curb, was acquitted of all charges, according to WSB-TV's Richard Elliot.

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fulton County Superior Court Judg

Proposed Development To 'Assimilate' Seattle's Landmark Space Needle?

KPLU News - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 10:40

We thought it was sacred. We thought it would be there forever. Then, the Borg came.

Plans are underway to "assimilate the Space Needle" with the construction of a mixed-use high-rise on the property the landmark currently occupies, according to a notice posted Wednesday.

U.S. Creates First Sanctions Program Against Cybercriminals

KPLU News - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 10:18
The U.S. wants to slap sanctions on cybercriminals.

'Girl Drifter' Race Driver Freaks Out Instructors In Prank

KPLU News - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 09:50


Pew: 'Smartphone-Dependents' Often Have No Backup Plan For Web Access

KPLU News - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 08:58
Looking back on the clunky desktops of home offices, smartphones have expanded the definition what it means to "go online." With all of the apps and mobile capabilities available to us now, it's no surprise that smartphone ownership has grown.

Almost two-thirds of Americans now own a smartphone, a new report from the Pew Research Center shows.

Thailand Lifts Martial Law, But Critics Say Its Replacement Is Worse

KPLU News - Wed, 04/01/2015 - 08:31
Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej has approved a request from the country's junta to lift martial law.

The announcement, which was made on television today, goes into effect immediately. But, as reporter Michael Sullivan is telling our Newscast unit, while the lifting of martial law is good news, critics say what it's being replaced with is worse.

That law is Article 44, which gives Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, the leader of last year's coup, sweeping powers over the Thai government.