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Washington Senator: It's Not Just Lobbyist-Paid Meals But 'Free Cigars, Free Booze'

KPLU News - 54 min 22 sec ago


Nearly two years after public radio and the Associated Press investigated lobbyist-paid meals for Washington lawmakers, the issue is still a topic of discussion in the legislature.

A Senate panel Thursday took testimony on two proposals related to gifts of food and beverage.

State Places Quarantine On Bird Flu Site Near Riverside, Washington

KPLU News - 1 hour 1 min ago


Washington state has set a six-mile quarantine circle around a new major bird flu site in near Riverside in north-central Washington.

About 5,000 birds — mainly ducks but also geese, turkeys and chickens — are in the infected flock.

Republican Transportation Leader Eyeing 11.5 Cent Gas Tax Increase

KPLU News - 1 hour 12 min ago


Gas prices have plummeted, but Washington’s gas tax could soon go up.

Republican Curtis King, the chair of the Senate Transportation committee, is looking at an 11.5-cent per gallon increase phased in over three years. It would help fund a $14 billion transportation package with projects on both sides of the Cascades.

Bomb Attack On Shiite Mosque In Pakistan Leaves At Least 49 Dead

KPLU News - 1 hour 22 min ago
At least 49 people are dead and dozens injured after a blast ripped through a mosque in southern Pakistan where worshippers had gathered for Friday prayers.

Jundullah, a Sunni militant group with links to the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack on the mosque in Shikarpur, Sindh province.

The Dawn newspaper reported that many victims were trapped in the debris after the mosque's roof collapsed as a result of the blast.

BirdNote: Donald Duck

KPLU News - 1 hour 27 min ago

Today, we celebrate Donald Fauntleroy Duck, first sighted in Hollywood in 1934.

Despite nearly 80 years on the big screen and more than 150 films and countless comic books to his credit, Donald's plumage has never changed.

Donald doesn't migrate, but resides year round in Duckburg. To our knowledge, longtime sweetheart Daisy has never made Donald a father. But he does show a strong paternal instinct for a trio of unruly nephews.

While he means well, he tends to get in over his head, but he somehow overcomes the odds. And that perhaps is why Donald Duck is still loved after all these years.  

Experiments With Coordinating Medical Care Deliver Mixed Results

KPLU News - 1 hour 45 min ago
Medical homes are a simple, compelling idea: Give primary-care doctors resources to reduce preventable medical crises for diabetics, asthmatics and others with chronic illness, and it will reduce hospital visits, improve lives and save money.

But it's not so easy in practice.

Two big experiments run by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation have delivered mixed early results in enhancing primary care, two studies find.

Diabetes Technology Inches Closer To An Artificial Pancreas

KPLU News - 2 hours 5 min ago
Every person who uses insulin to manage diabetes wants what they don't have — a replacement for their malfunctioning pancreas. And though the technology isn't yet to the point of creating an artificial pancreas, it's getting a lot closer.

Just last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a mobile app-based system can monitor a person's sugar levels remotely.

Mitt Romney Won't Run For President In 2016

KPLU News - 2 hours 9 min ago
Updated at 11:58 a.m.

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney isn't running for president in 2016, he told supporters in a statement.

"After putting considerable thought into making another run for president, I've decided it is best to give other leaders in the Party the opportunity to become our next nominee," he said in the statement.

The former Massachusetts governor was the GOP nominee in 2012, b

Balloonists Crossing Pacific Set Distance Record

KPLU News - 2 hours 36 min ago
Two balloonists have unofficially left a distance record in their wake as they head east over the Pacific Ocean. They lifted off from Japan, and now they're getting ready for a landing on Saturday somewhere on Mexico's Baja peninsula.

American Troy Bradley and Russian Leonid Tiukhtyaev, dubbed the "Two Eagles," surpassed a 5,209-mile distance record for gas balloons on Thursday. The previous record was set in 1981 by Ben Abruzzo, Larry Newman, Ron Clark and Rock Aoki aboard Double Eagle V, which also launched from Japan.

Jailed Saudi Blogger Granted Another Reprieve From Flogging; Reason Unclear

KPLU News - 3 hours 11 min ago
Saudi authorities have once again canceled the scheduled flogging of blogger Raif Badawi who is being punished for insulting Islam, according to Amnesty International, the human rights group that has been closely following the case.

Separately, Ensaf Haidar, Badawi's wife, told Agence France-Presse, she was unclear why the 30-year-old blogger was spared today.<

Boston Marathon Winner Rita Jeptoo Banned 2 Years For Doping

KPLU News - 3 hours 32 min ago
One of the marathon world's brightest stars has been banned for two years, after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

Athletics Kenya, the body that governs running in the country, said Rita Jeptoo tested positive for erythropoietin, or EPO, which stimulates the production of red blood cells.

Jeptoo has won the Boston Marathon three times and she won her second Chicago Marathon in October.

China Cracks Down On University Textbooks Promoting 'Western Values'

KPLU News - 4 hours 1 min ago
China's education minister has told universities to stop using textbooks that promote Western values in a move seen as part of a larger ideological crackdown, reports NPR's Frank Langfitt from Shanghai.

At an educational forum, Yuan Guiren said universities should also forbid criticism of China's leaders and the country's political system, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

Frank says the edict comes as the government disrupts virtual private networks, or VPNs, which help people access foreign websites that China's Internet cops have already blocked.

He says that earlier this week, an

Songwriter, Poet Rod McKuen Dies At 81

KPLU News - 4 hours 33 min ago
The obituary in The Los Angeles Times describes Rod McKuen as "prolific" and that may well be an understatement considering the many compositions he churned out.

McKuen is credited with more than 200 albums and more than 30 collections of poetry.

His work included the Academy Award-nominated song "Jean" from the 1969 film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and McKuen's music for the animated feature "A Boy Named Charlie Brown" was also nominated for an Oscar.

The Los

As Deadline Passes, The Fate Of ISIS Hostages Is Uncertain

KPLU News - 4 hours 57 min ago
As a deadline came and went, the fate of two hostages being held by the Islamic State is uncertain.

As we've reported, Jordan has indicated it was willing to release a convicted terrorist in exchange for the release of a Jordanian prisoner. On Thursday, Jordan demanded proof of life from the Islamic State, which had demanded the exchange take place by sundown on Thursday.

So far, there is no word on the fate of the pilot, Lt.

Expect Seahawks To 'Control The Game' In Super Bowl XLIX

KPLU News - 5 hours 27 min ago

With the hype almost over, the Seahawks say they're ready to take on the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on Sunday.

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel is in Glendale, Arizona, for Super Bowl XLIX.

True or False? Free And Reduced-Price Lunch = Poor

KPLU News - 6 hours 19 min ago
In the education world, you see this phrase all the time: "free and reduced-price lunch." What's the percentage at a given school? In a given district or state?

It's not necessarily out of concern about who's getting fed. Instead, it's most often used to talk about concentrations of poverty and how that effects learning.

The phrase refers to students enrolled in the National School Lunch Program — an easily available data point for any school and any district.

But is it the best yardstick for measuring children's economic circumstances?

South Africa Grants Parole To Notorious Apartheid-Era Death Squad Leader

KPLU News - 6 hours 27 min ago
The South African government has decided to grant parole to a notorious Apartheid-era death squad leader.

As The Guardian reports, Eugene de Kock, who was known as "Prime Evil," was sentenced to two life terms in connection to the killings.

The Guardian adds:

"South Africa's justice minister, Michael Masutha, told a news conference on Friday De Kock would be rele

4 Reasons Why It's Veto Season At The White House

KPLU News - 9 hours 1 min ago
President Obama is about to get his first veto opportunity of the new Congress. A bill that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline project will be on his desk soon. He's promised to veto it and that's unusual. In his first six years in office, Obama issued just two vetoes — the fewest of any president going all the way back to James Garfield, and Garfield only served 199 days in office!

Could This Virus Be Good For You?

KPLU News - 9 hours 10 min ago
Viruses are usually thought of as the bad guys — causing everything from Ebola and AIDS to hepatitis and measles. But scientists have been following the curious story of a particular virus that might actually be good for you.

The virus is called GB Virus-C, and more than a billion people alive today have apparently been infected with it at some point during their lives, says Dr.

Russian Economic Woes Hit France's Ski Slopes

KPLU News - 9 hours 13 min ago
Russia's worsening economy is having an impact far beyond its borders — even affecting Alpine ski resorts where Russians once flocked.

For the past decade, they've come in large numbers to ski the fabled Alpine slopes around Mont Blanc. But the drop in the ruble is now keeping them away.