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Other News

Interesting news stories from around the Pacific Northwest.

Unintended Consequences: Sound Effect, Episode 138

Mar 17, 2018
George Creal / Flickr


Wikimedia Commons

Bisphenol-A, a chemical in plastics, thermal-paper receipts and the lining of tin cans, has been fingered as the culprit for a bunch of health problems.


In our bodies, BPA acts like a hormone -- and in animals, at least, it seems to disrupt all sorts of important functions.


Courtesy of Chad Goller-Sojourner

Good intentions often have unexpected outcomes, something Chad Goller-Sojourner knows from personal experience.


He’s a Seattle based playwright , and also a counselor to white parents who’ve adopted children of color. Chad is black, and when he was 13 months old he himself was adopted by white parents, along with two other kids of color.  This was back in the 1970s, when there was a lot less awareness of mixed families.



At the turn of the 20th century, when West Seattle was a city all its own, the community had a problem: They wanted to attract development, but they also wanted to keep out big-city vice, such as alcohol and gambling.

Their solution? An amusement park on a boardwalk, with roller coasters, side shows, and other kinds of wholesome family fun. As HistoryLink.org's Alan Stein tells Gabriel Spitzer, the decision had some unintended consequences.

loulrc / Flickr

Back in the 1970s in Oregon, a man named Richard Chambers was so dismayed by the litter he saw dotting the trails in the wilderness he dearly loved, that he decided to write legislation that would clean things up: Oregon’s Bottle Bill. 

The bill became a law before curbside recycling was the norm. It mandated that cans and bottles that hold juice and soda be sold with a deposit. You pay 10¢ extra when you buy them, and then if you want that money back, you have to return the empties. Today, with curbside pick up on trash day, a lot of people don’t bother.

St. Patrick's Day is a day where people all over the world come together to celebrate Irish heritage and culture. Seattle and Galway, Ireland have been "sister cities" for more than 30 years. The two cities organize cultural events and student exchanges.

The FBI is recognizing Coeur D’Alene tribal member Bernie LaSarte for her efforts to combat domestic violence in the Idaho Panhandle.

After several tries, blood bank couriers and wheelchair taxis with just one person on board have won coveted access to carpool lanes in order to provide better service.

What’s the best way to learn a language? Salish teachers are using music and song to introduce their Native American language to new speakers. It’s a language spoken by many tribes across the Northwest.

Every year, a conference that celebrates Salish culminates in an annual karaoke contest in Spokane. Contestants have to translate a song and perform it in front of judges.

By Chris Vlachos (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

This week on Sound Effect, we share stories some of areas that can be unclear from time to time. We start by talking to a former Seattle resident who moved to a sister city in Ireland where the weather is also gray. Next, we talk to a reporter and a retired judge about an article that was written about the judge’s ruling that let a sex offender go.

Jennifer Wing


Sometimes, our legal system can be a confusing mash up of laws and paperwork. The people whose job it is to sort through all of this to find some clarity are judges. Sometimes, they make decisions that aren’t very popular. One of these cases happened in Seattle, back in March, 2013.


King County Superior Court Judge Ronald Kessler made the decision to not detain a man in jail for failing to register as a sex offender. Not too long after the sex offender left the courthouse, he was accused of raping a woman.

Courtesy of Elliot Cossum


Elliot Cossum struggles, like many of us, with work-life balance. The difference is he works in an unusual profession.


It started for Cossum in Iraq, in one of Saddam Hussein’s captured palaces, where Cossum was serving in the U.S. Army. His job was to man the phone lines there (including the line that reached directly to the Oval Office). He would frequently hear explosions and artillery blasts outside, and once in a while the palace itself would come under attack.


UW Center for Philosophy for Children

There are times in life when the answers aren't black and white. 

Your friend is getting married, and asks you to be best man--but you don't approve of his fiancee. Should you speak up about your reservations? Should you be quiet and agree to be best man? 

You suspect that wearing makeup might help your advancement at work, but you also suspect that sexism is at play. Should you put on that lipstick?

Some employers reject job applicants because they smoke. Is that right?

Gabriel Spitzer / KNKX

Gray hair is one of the inevitable timestamps of life, and Ashley Gross has noticed a few springing up on her head lately. Or rather, her kids have noticed, and enjoy pointing them out. This didn't seem like such a big deal, until she noticed that there tend to be relatively few prominent women who let their gray show.

Hair colorants are a multi-billion dollar industry that seems to target women's insecurities about aging. They also reinforce a strain in our culture that diminishes older women.

Xiao Zhou

Queen Mae Butters has worked side by side with death for about 30 years. She’s a hospice nurse, meaning she cares for people at the end of their lives and helps them transition from life to death. That may sound like sad work -- and it is, says Butters. But it’s so much more than that.


“At the beginning of my career I really felt like death was the thing we were against, and we were all trying to keep death from happening. And now … I don’t see death as the enemy at all. I see it as one of our longest friends,” she says.


The Big One, Serialized

Mar 6, 2018

Do you have two weeks of food, water and other essentials to survive after a catastrophic earthquake or other disaster? Most Pacific Northwesterners mean well but aren't prepared. In Portland, on the Washington Coast, in British Columbia and now in Bellingham, writers tackled The Big One in serial form to motivate people into action.

People who are diagnosed with prediabetes can delay or prevent the disease if they change their lifestyle and lose a significant amount of weight. But here's the challenge: How can people be motivated to eat healthier and move more? Increasingly, the answer might include digital medicine.

"Just telling people to do things doesn't work," says Sean Duffy, CEO of Omada Health. If it were easy, there wouldn't be more than 80 million adults in the U.S. with prediabetes.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This story originally aired May 6, 2017. 

Solomon Dubie is the 29-year-old founder of Cafe Avole, a cozy little coffee shop in Rainier Valley. It’s one of the only places in Seattle you can get Ethiopian coffee brewed the traditional way — in a jebena. It's basically a clay pot with a long neck and short spout.

Solomon was born and raised in Seattle, but his family is from Ethiopia — where the coffee plant was first discovered.

They take coffee seriously. But it’s not just about the taste; it’s a whole event with three unique rounds of brewing.

Courtesy of Laurie Cullen

 This story originally aired May 6, 2017

One of the hardest things a person might have to find peace with is the diagnosis of a life changing disease like Alzheimer’s. For sisters Tamara Cullen Evans and Laurie Cullen, their diagnoses for Alzheimer’s came much earlier than it does for most people.

Brandon Patoc / Seattle Symphony

This story originally aired on May 6, 2017

Finding peace of mind can be a challenge for many of us. But it can be especially difficult for inmates in prison. You’re locked away. Surrounded by hundreds of others; some of whom landed behind bars for doing some pretty bad things. There are few moments of relief.

Courtesy of History Link

 This story originally aired on May 6, 2017

The United States entered the First World War 100 years ago in 1917. At the time, many leftist activists and labor supporters were skeptical of the country's intentions and reasons for going to war. One Seattle woman felt it was time to give the world a piece of her mind about the war effort. 

Her name was Louise Olivereau. She was outspoken, highly educated, and raised by a minister with a strong moral compass. Historian Michael Schein researched Louise’s forgotten place in Seattle’s history of radical activism.

Peter Haley, Pacific Lutheran University / Courtesy of Peter Altman

 This story originally aired on May 6, 2017

Have you ever lost something that’s really important to you? Have you ever had something taken from you? Maybe it was a house that was always one payment behind and you just could not keep up and back to the bank it went.

Credit Parker Miles Blohm

 This story originally aired on May 6, 2017

Ben Union basically grew up in a church, and for him there was little question as to what he wanted to be when he grew up. He was going to be a preacher.

But in religion, just like in politics, or relationships, challenging or even traumatic experiences can make you change your feelings about a path you were once entirely certain about.

This was the case for Ben Union. He didn’t become a preacher, but instead, a professional musician in Tacoma.

Peace of Mind: Sound Effect Episode 105

Mar 3, 2018
Meditation By Tarcio Saralva is licensed under CC 2.0 bit.ly/2qFS34Q


A doctor from Richland, Washington, Monday was awarded the U.S. Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service. It’s an honor that is often bestowed upon U.S. presidents.

Gobee is a no-go — at least in France.

France's first dockless bike-sharing program, which launched in October, has shut down operations across the country, citing "the mass destruction" of its fleet.

The decision to shut down on Saturday was "disappointing and extremely frustrating," the Hong Kong-based company wrote in its announcement. "We hoped for the best. But we were wrong ... In 4 months, 60% of our fleet was destroyed, stolen or privatized, making the whole European project no longer sustainable."


For many people, there is at least one movie that hit them like a bolt of lightning. Some might even have paid to see that movie in the theater--again and again and again.


That's what happened to Seattle actor and writer Barbi Beckett when she was 16 years old, growing up in El Paso, Texas. The movie that rocked her suburban world was Amadeus.


Zemekiss Photography / Courtesy of the Geekenders


The performance artform of burlesque has been enjoying a renaissance in recent years. Ranging from the basic “parade and peel” to elaborately themed shows, burlesque is a big tent with plenty of room for creative subgenres.


Credit Phillip Robertson/Flickr

This week on Sound Effect, we share stories some of the biggest fans in the region. We start by learning some meeting a huge fan of 70’s and 80’s arena rock, who was called on stage recently to perform in place of the lead singer of Loverboy. Next, we meet a woman who found a personal connection with the movie Amadeus. Also, we learn how the worlds of being a nerd and burlesque are paring up.

This past September, Steve Fournier expected to go out with his friends to see one of his favorite Rock bands, Loverboy, in concert. What he didn’t expect is for lead singer, Mike Reno, to get the flu and only be able to perform a couple songs. Reno’s wife started talking to the crowd to find someone in the audience to take his place.

Fournier’s friends started pointing at him telling her to pull him up on stage.