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Police Departments Open Up 'Safe Lots' For Craigslist Transactions

KPLU News - 1 hour 12 min ago
The online classified site Craigslist updated its safety page this week, encouraging users to make exchanges at local police stations. Some police departments across the country are already offering up their headquarters as voluntary "safe zones" for Craigslist deals.

Sebastian Rivera likes to ride BMX bikes.

NASA To Study A Twin In Space And His Brother On Earth

KPLU News - 1 hour 12 min ago
Later today, a Russian rocket is scheduled to carry a Russian cosmonaut and an American astronaut to the International Space Station, where they will live for a full year, twice as long as people usually stay.

No American has lived in space for longer than 215 days. Only a few people have ever gone on space trips lasting a year or more—the longest was 437 days--and they're all Russian cosmonauts. The last year-plus stay in space occurred nearly two decades ago.

What's more, NASA's upcoming mission offers scientists a unique opportunity to study the effect of spaceflight on the human body.

Was Your Seafood Caught By Slaves? AP Uncovers Unsavory Trade

KPLU News - 1 hour 12 min ago
Some of the seafood that winds up in American grocery stores, in restaurants, even in cat food, may have been caught by Burmese slaves.

Her Instagram Feed Finds The Fun In Long-Suffering Somalia

KPLU News - 1 hour 33 min ago
Ugaaso Abukar Boocow has become an Instagram sensation by sending out stunning visual messages from an unlikely place: poor, suffering Somalia.

She was just a toddler when her grandmother fled with her to Canada to escape Somalia's Civil War, leaving her mother behind.

Then last year, she decided to go back, moving to the capital, Mogadishu, and reuniting with her mother, whom she hadn't seen in over two decades.

And she didn't want her relatives in North America to worry. "When I was posting these pictures, it was just to let my family back in Toronto know that, hey, I'm safe.

Despite Earlier Promise To Boycott, Seattle High School Will Give Required Tests To Juniors

KPLU News - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 17:59

Eleventh graders at Seattle's Nathan Hale High School will take a state- and federally-required standardized test after all, an apparent reversal of an earlier decision by staff, students and parents to boycott the exams this year.

"The [Smarter Balanced assessment] is required by the state. Therefore, to comply with Seattle Public Schools directives, students will be tested" in April, Nathan Hale Senate chair Melinda Greene said in an email to parents Thursday.

Amazingly, Congress Actually Got Something Done

KPLU News - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 15:58
They said it couldn't be done. And for more than a decade they were right.

But on Thursday, staring at a deadline that could have disrupted health care to millions of seniors, the House got something done.

It voted to fix the flawed formula for compensating doctors who provide services to patients under Medicare. But this time it wasn't just a patch for a few months or years — like the ones Congress has done 17 times since 2003.

This time it was permanent, if the Senate gets on board in a timely manner.

Big Shelves Of Antarctic Ice Melting Faster Than Scientists Thought

KPLU News - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 15:09
The Antarctic is far away, freezing and buried under a patchwork of ice sheets and glaciers. But a warming climate is altering that mosaic in unpredictable ways — research published Thursday shows that the pace of change in parts of the Antarctic is accelerating.

Many of the ice sheets that blanket Antarctica run right down to the land's edge and then out into the ocean, where they form floating ice "shelves." Some of those shelves have been shrinking lately. Now, a team of scientists has discovered that shelves in the West Antarctic are shrinking a lot faster than they realized.

Church Of Scientology Calls New HBO Documentary 'Bigoted'

KPLU News - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 15:01
The Church of Scientology is famous for its efforts to silence its critics, but it has not blocked an upcoming HBO film that turns a harsh light on the powerful organization and its leadership.

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, directed by Academy Award-winning documentarian Alex Gibney, will debut Sunday over the vigorous objection of Scientology officials.

For the film, based on a book by Lawrence Wright, Gibney dug up extensive archival footage of Scientology's

Think Nobody Wants To Buy Ugly Fruits And Veggies? Think Again

KPLU News - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 14:42
Remember that old movie trope, in which the mousy girl who never gets noticed takes off her eyeglasses and — voila! — suddenly, everyone can see she was beautiful all along?

Well, a similar sort of scenario is starting to play out in the world of produce in the U.S. (minus the sexist subtext).

Around the country, food service companies, grocers and entrepreneurs passionate about fighting food waste are rallying to buy up fruits and vegetables excluded from the produce aisle because of their defects.

Washington Lawmakers Consider Banning Powdered Alcohol

KPLU News - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 14:21

A bi-partisan group of lawmakers in the Washington legislature launched a move Tuesday to ban powdered alcohol.

Former POW Bergdahl An Uneasy Subject In His Idaho Hometown

KPLU News - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 14:21

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the U.S. soldier held for nearly five years as a prisoner of the Taliban, is facing charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

Troy Kelley: A Man Of Mystery, Even To His Own Staff

KPLU News - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 14:21

Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley was not in the office Wednesday. His staff say they don’t know when the Democrat will be back.

How Much Does Cancer Cost Us?

KPLU News - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 14:04
Before we started our Living Cancer series, we went on NPR's Facebook page to ask people about their experiences in paying for cancer treatment. Over a hundred people from across the country responded.

We talked with some people by phone to learn about their stories.

Maureen Carrigg, who lives in Wayne, Neb., was diagnosed with multiple myeloma six years ago.

A Fraying Promise: Exploring Race And Inequality In Havana

KPLU News - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 13:40
Miguel Coyula points at an open door in the middle of Old Havana. The mahogany door looks worn, but still handsome. The concrete facade has lost most of its paint, and time has ripped parts of it open.

"That's marble," Coyula says, pointing to the treads of the staircase. "They are the remnants of something that was very glorious."

Coyula is an architect and an economist, and as he walks through the streets of Havana, he doesn't just see breathtaking decay.

Critic Faults Alcoholics Anonymous For Lack Of Evidence

KPLU News - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 12:38
Founded by two men in Akron, Ohio, in the 1935, Alcoholics Anonymous has since spread around the world as a leading community-based method of overcoming alcohol dependence and abuse. Many people swear by the 12-step method, which has become the basis of programs to treat the abuse of drugs, gambling, eating disorders and some other compulsive behaviors.

But not everyone's a fan.

A Single Gene May Determine Why Some People Get So Sick With The Flu

KPLU News - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 12:36
It's hard to predict who will get the flu in any given year. While some people may simply spend a few days in bed with aches and a stuffy nose, others may become so ill that they end up in the hospital.

Until now, researchers could only point generally at differences between flu patients' immune responses. Jean-Laurent Casanova, a professor at Rockefeller University and investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has been sifting through cases of children with severe flu.

Is Colorado Primed To Become The Silicon Valley Of Agriculture?

KPLU News - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 12:32
Colorado is famous for its beer and its beef.

How Yemen's Chaos Stretches Beyond Its Borders

KPLU News - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 12:31
Yemen's downward spiral toward civil war is a disaster for the poorest country in the Arab world and adds one more member to the growing list of Middle East states that have imploded in the past several years.

But how important is Yemen to the wider world?

One argument holds that Yemen is, and always has been, an isolated backwater. The chaos is tragic for Yemenis, but remains largely an internal feud between rival groups and will have limited spillover beyond its borders.

Yet Yemen is also a battleground in larger fights that pit the U.S. versus al-Qaida and Saudi Arabia versus Iran.

Ebola Is Not Mutating As Fast As Scientists Feared

KPLU News - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 12:26
Back in August, scientists published a worrisome report about Ebola in West Africa: The virus was rapidly changing its genetic code as it spread through people. Ebola was mutating about twice as fast as it did in previous outbreaks, a team from Harvard University found.

The study spurred a bunch of concerns. Could the virus evolve into a more dangerous pathogen?

After Spending Scandals, Rep. Aaron Schock Says Goodbye

KPLU News - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 12:09
Once a fast-rising star in the Republican Party, Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock gave his final speech on the House floor Thursday.

Schock, who was elected to Congress in 2008, will resign his House seat at the end of the month.