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Giant Panda Jia Jia Celebrates 37th Birthday And 2 Guinness World Records

KPLU News - 1 hour 44 min ago
Jia Jia, a giant panda living at an amusement park in Hong Kong, celebrated her 37th birthday on Tuesday and, along with it, broke two Guinness World Records.

Jia Jia became the oldest giant panda ever living in captivity and the oldest giant panda currently living in captivity.

CNN reports that a Guinness representative was on hand at Ocean Park to congratulate Jia Jia.

Former N.Y. Prison Employee Enters Guilty Plea Related To Inmates' Escape

KPLU News - 2 hours 15 min ago
Joyce Mitchell, the Clinton Correctional Facility worker who was charged last month with aiding two convicted killers' escape, has pleaded guilty after reaching a deal with prosecutors.

Mitchell, 51, was an instructor in the tailor shop at the prison in northern New York — a position that officials say allowed her to pass tools such as hacksaw blades and a screwdriver to prisoner Richard Matt.

Matt escaped along with David Sweat, in a plot that was intended to include Mitchell as the getaway driver, the authorities say.

Happy 50th Birthday, Medicare. Your Patients Are Getting Healthier

KPLU News - 2 hours 25 min ago
Here's a bit of good news for Medicare, the popular government program that's turning 50 this week. Older Americans on Medicare are spending less time in the hospital; they're living longer; and the cost of a typical hospital stay has actually come down over the past 15 years, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Doctors, hospitals and government administrators have put a lot of effort into making Medicare more efficient in the past 15 years.

Twitter Takes Down Unoriginal Jokes, But All Of Yours Are Probably Safe

KPLU News - 3 hours 8 min ago
Twitter has started taking down jokes for copyright infringement. The removals were first spotted by @PlagiarismBad, which traced the takedown notices to Olga Lexell, a freelance writer in Los Angeles.

Lexell, whose bio describes her as a freelance writer, confirmed that she had asked Twitter to take down jokes.

Obama Asks African Countries To Create Jobs, Foster Democracy

KPLU News - 3 hours 20 min ago
President Obama capped a five-day trip to Kenya and Ethiopia by becoming the first sitting American president to address the African Union.

In a speech intended for the entire continent and delivered from the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Obama called on African leaders to create jobs and foster democracy. NPR's Gregory Warner reports that Obama spoke of Africa's bright future and called on leaders to end corruption and political intimidation.

Gregory filed this report:

"The president said that he'd worked to change America's relationship with Africa.

NATO Says It Stands With Turkey In Fight Against ISIS

KPLU News - 5 hours 6 min ago
During a meeting with all 27 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on Tuesday, Turkey said it wanted to give the members a heads up that at some point it may need their help fighting against the so-called Islamic State.

Turkey called a rare Article 4 meeting of the allies after it began an air campaign against ISIS targets in Syria.

As the AP reports, Turkey has been reluctant to join the U.S.-led war against I

Rehab Before Cancer Treatment Can Help Patients Bounce Back

KPLU News - 5 hours 35 min ago
Cancer patients who do rehabilitation before they begin treatment may recover more quickly from surgery, chemotherapy or radiation, some cancer specialists say. But insurance coverage for cancer prehabilitation, as it's called, can be spotty, especially if the aim is to prevent problems rather than treat existing ones.

It seems intuitive that people's health during and after invasive surgery or a toxic course of chemo or radiation can be improved by being as physically and psychologically fit as possible going into it.

Seattle Council Elections, District 7: Watching The Skyline -- And Rent -- Climb Skyward

KPLU News - 5 hours 35 min ago

From Louis Edelman’s apartment in Seattle’s Lower Queen Anne neighborhood, you can see the Space Needle. Seattle’s iconic landmark is just a few blocks away. But it’s not the only thing popping out of the skyline. Construction cranes dot the landscape, too, as they build office towers and apartments in South Lake Union.

Edelman, who has lived in the 100 block of Roy Street for 10 years. He tends bar down the street and lives in an older apartment building, which he affectionately calls “the bartender projects.”

Drawing A Line From The Chinese Stock Market To Your Wallet

KPLU News - 5 hours 37 min ago
A mega-economic story is playing out globally. It involves U.S. interest rates, the Chinese stock market and jobs in Minnesota, Arizona and North Dakota.

And your wallet, too.

No kidding – it's all related. To see how, let your mind wander back.

Start by recalling where the U.S. housing market was a decade ago. In 2005, lenders were offering low "teaser" interest rates on mortgages. Many people bought homes that way, figuring they'd enjoy the initial low rates for a few years.

In Libya, Gadhafi's Son, Saif Al-Islam, Is Sentenced To Death In Absentia

KPLU News - 6 hours 38 min ago
A court in Tripoli has sentenced the son of Moammar Gadhafi to death in connection with killings during the 2011 uprising that ended Gadhafi's rule.

NPR's Leila Fadel reports from Cairo that because the country is in such disarray, the sentence was handed down in absentia. She filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"A spokesman for Tripoli's self-declared government said Saif Al-Islam Gadhafi is one of nine former regime figures who were sentenced to death today.

The Demise Of Old-Style Demolition Derby

KPLU News - 8 hours 27 min ago
Americans have been intentionally ramming cars into each other for sport for decades. And at this time of year, fans crowd into county fairs to see battered, souped-up cars bash each other to pieces.

This steel equivalent of blood sport draws a passionate following, and the drivers say it is deeply addicting.

"There's nothing better," says John Green, a demolition derby driver at a recent fair in Franklin County, Kan.

Squeezed By Drought, California Farmers Switch To Less Thirsty Crops

KPLU News - 8 hours 27 min ago
Water scarcity is driving California farmers to plant different crops. Growers are switching to more profitable, less-thirsty fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Nowhere is this truer than San Diego County, where water prices are some of the highest in the state.

Grapefruit trees shade the entrance to Triple B Ranches winery in northern San Diego County. The tasting room is a converted kitchen festooned with country knick knacks.

Debbie Broomell runs the boutique winery with her father, Gary. Their quaint vineyard is only a few years old. For three generations, the Broomells have grown citrus.

The Struggle To Breathe Life Back Into Empty Schools

KPLU News - 8 hours 27 min ago
Virginia Savage lives in a part of north St. Louis, Mo., that's filled with vacant buildings, including Marshall Elementary. It has been closed for years now, and vines crawl into the building's smashed-out windows. The playground is littered with empty liquor bottles.

Savage went to school at Marshall as a young girl, and now she sees bigger problems beyond all those blemishes: "Drug dealers, drug users, eyesore. That's what I see."

In St. Louis, the student enrollment is one-fourth the size it was in the 1960s.

How Finns Make Sports Part Of Everyday Life

KPLU News - 8 hours 40 min ago
In Helsinki, sports facilities pop up all over the place, sometimes in some pretty odd nooks and crannies. One bomb shelter hosts an archery club, another an underground swimming pool and an ice hockey rink.

Though they hardly need it, there's a national plan in Finland to get people to sit less. It reminds them, in fact, that "Under the Constitution ...

The 'Swim Whisperer' Teaches Kids To Be Water-Safe

KPLU News - 8 hours 43 min ago
If you looked at the children at the edge of Conrad Cooper's pool, you'd think you were watching an ad for something. Jell-O, maybe. Or a breakfast cereal kids like. They're that cute.

They're lined up on the steps in the shallow end, 10 little ones, ranging from age 2 to 5. The boys are in board trunks, many wearing rash guard shirts like the weekend surfers they might become, years from now. The girls wear bright one-piece suits and two-pieces that show their childish pot bellies.

They are a rainbow tribe: black, Asian, white, biracial.

Tired Of The Big City? Consider Telecommuting From Montana

KPLU News - 10 hours 7 min ago
Most local economic development schemes focus on creating jobs. Many offer incentives to startup companies, or try to lure existing companies to re-locate.

But a campaign in Montana is turning that on its head. It's not trying to recruit companies, but rather employees to come to the sparsely populated state, and telecommute.

David Blackburn works for a financial services firm in Jersey City, N.J.

Water Shortage Response Plans Ask For Conservation, Don't Mandate It

KPLU News - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 18:04

Seattle, Tacoma and Everett have activated their water shortage response plans. The hot, dry weather has increased demand for water just as river levels are at historic lows. Seattle Public Utilities, Tacoma Public Utilities and the city of Everett issued a joint  release announcing the implementation of the first stage of the response plans.

California Health Insurance Exchange Keeps Rate Hikes Low — Again

KPLU News - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 16:53
Monthly premiums for California's 1.3 million Covered California customers will rise a modest 4 percent, on average, officials with the agency said Monday.

As McCleary Case Drags On, What Will The State Supreme Court Will Do Next?

KPLU News - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 16:46

Lauding recent increases in state education funding, but ultimately admitting they still have more work to do, state lawmakers have filed an update with the state Supreme Court on their progress toward fulfilling the McCleary school funding mandate.

Now, everyone's wondering what the court will do next.

Could Joe Biden Get 'Ready For Biden'?

KPLU News - Mon, 07/27/2015 - 15:06