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Snowpack
5:10 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

BPA Not Worried About Low Snowpack

The Northwest’s record-low snowfall has delivered a frustrating ski season this winter.
Credit Panda Poles / Flickr

The Northwest’s record-low snowfall has delivered a frustrating ski season this winter. And when summertime comes, the thin snowpack could make for low stream levels and tinder-dry forests.

But people who manage the Northwest’s biggest dams say they’re not worried.

"We’re doing just fine at the moment," Mike Hanson said.

Hanson is a spokesman for Bonneville Power Administration. It operates 31 federal dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, and provides about one-third of the electricity for the Northwest.

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Child Deportation
4:47 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Lawsuit: Should the Government Provide Lawyers for Kids Facing Deportation?

A woman shows her support for migrant children.
Credit Light Brigading / Flickr

Friday morning in Seattle, a federal hearing will resume that could have a bearing on immigration cases across the country. The central question is whether children who face deportation have the right to a government-provided attorney.

Earlier this week, a 12-year old girl with a bright red bow in her hair, sat before an immigration judge in Seattle. She quietly told the judge her age. But her twin brother was more shy. The judge explained the government is seeking to deport them. Then, he scheduled their hearing for a later date, to give them time to find a lawyer.

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Kettle Falls Trial
4:52 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

Medical Marijuana Advocates React to Kettle Falls 3 Verdict

Credit Google Images

Medical marijuana activists are reacting to Tuesday’s verdict in federal court in Spokane, in which three people were convicted of growing marijuana in a state where medical and recreational marijuana are legal. The three defendants were found guilty of growing marijuana, but not on the scale the federal prosecution maintained. They were also acquitted of charges related to selling marijuana, and possession of firearms.

Kari Boiter of the group American for Safe Access, says the fact the jury acquitted the defendants on four out of five charges meant they knew the truth.

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Idaho Marijuana Bill
4:47 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

Idaho Lawmakers Hear Testimony On Cannabis Oil

A picture of Cannabis Oil.
Credit Andres Rodriquez / Flickr

Idaho lawmakers Wednesday morning heard more than two hours of testimony on a bill to allow people to treat epilepsy with an oil derived from cannabis.

The oil has very little of the chemical that causes marijuana’s high and is showing promise in controlling seizures in children with severe epilepsy.

Lawmakers on the Senate State Affairs Committee voted to put the bill on hold in order to amend it to satisfy concerns from law enforcement. But lawmakers seemed swayed by parents who made emotional appeals wanting to try the oil as a treatment option.

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Oil Trains
4:26 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

Northwest Officials Unite Against Coal And Oil Trains

Increased oil train traffic in the Northwest is prompting policymakers to consider whether their states have sufficient safety measures in place to deal with the risk of a crash or spill.
Credit U.S. Department of Transportation

More than 150 elected officials from across the Northwest have teamed up to speak out against coal and oil trains. Their new group, the Safe Energy Leadership Alliance, held its third meeting in Portland Tuesday.

Washington’s King County Executive Dow Constantine has stepped up to chair the group. It includes officials from Oregon, Washington, Idaho and British Columbia.

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Kettle Falls Trial
5:42 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Federal Case Against Wash. Marijuana Growers Goes To The Jury

The three defendants in the Kettle Falls case could face mandatory sentences of ten years in prison, if convicted.
Credit Hendrike / Wikimedia Commons

The case of a northeast Washington family accused of growing and selling marijuana has gone to the jury in a federal trial in Spokane.

The closing arguments in the case began Monday and continued briefly Tuesday morning. The judge sent the jury to the deliberation room shortly after 9 a.m.

The federal case is unusual in that it accused a family of producing and selling marijuana in Washington, where both medical marijuana and recreational pot are legal. The family claimed they were growing marijuana for medical purposes.

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Northwest Curling
9:58 am
Tue March 3, 2015

The (Not So) Secret World Of Northwest Curling

A player about to throw a curling stone.
Credit Peter Miller / Flickr

Curling: it's that sport with the stones and the brooms. You might have seen it played at the Olympics. Canadians play it. For many Americans, that's the extent of our curling knowledge. So this video might help bring everyone up to speed:

So that's curling. It's a little bit hockey, a little bit bowling, a little bit shuffleboard.

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Oil Spill
4:41 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Crews Work To Clean Up Yakima River Oil Spill

Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused a storage tank to leak in Yakima River on Sunday.
Washington Department of Ecology

Emergency crews responded to a 1,500 gallon oil spill in Central Washington’s Yakima River.

The used motor oil has threatened wildlife since it escaped Sunday from an above-ground storage tank at the site of a former feedlot. The heavy oil flowed across a paved area and into an irrigation ditch.

An environmental clean up company is using vacuum trucks to remove the oil.

Joye Redfield-Wilder is a spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Ecology. She said the amount of oil spilled is concerning.

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Remote Jailing
6:21 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Behind Bars And Far Away

Alex Hooks and Lisa Daugaard (standing) at a 2005 hearing challenging his transfer from Seattle to Yakima.

Fifteen years ago, western Washington cities started sending local inmates to jails in the eastern part of the state, as a remedy for overcrowding and high jail costs. But many people in county jails are defendants still awaiting trial, and the transfers can get in the way of their ability to mount a legal defense. 

In 2005, Alex Hooks faced misdemeanor domestic violence charges in Seattle. Seattle stopped out-of-county transfers for pretrial inmates soon after Hooks challenged the policy, but his experience sheds light on ongoing problems with the practice as it persists today.

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Solar Outage
8:25 am
Fri February 27, 2015

Spring Solar Outages May Affect Radio Signals

Credit Art Blum / Northwest Public Radio

Solar outage time is here again. This occurs twice a year, when the sun moves directly into the line of sight between an earth station and a satellite. When this happens, a station downlink is temporarily unable to receive a satellite signal due to interference from the sun as it passes behind the satellite.

So you may hear your radio signal becoming fuzzy, you might hear static, or the signal may go completely silent.

This spring, the interruptions are most likely between February 28 - March 4, at about 10:38 AM each day.

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