Kristian Foden-Vencil

Reporter, Oregon Public Broadcasting

Kristian Foden-Vencil is a veteran journalist/producer working for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He started as a cub reporter for newspapers in London, England in 1988. Then in 1991 he moved to Oregon and started freelancing. His work has appeared in publications as varied as The Oregonian, the BBC, the Salem Statesman Journal, Willamette Week, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, NPR and the Voice of America. Kristian has won awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists and the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors. He was embedded with the Oregon National Guard in Iraq in 2004 and now specializes in business, law, health and politics. 

Ways to Connect

Mike Licht / Flickr

The state finalized a plan Thursday to help more people with chronic mental illnesses — and to reduce confrontations between them and police.

Ostrea Lurida / FLICKR Creative Commons

Native Olympia oysters are smaller than the larger, faster-growing Pacific oysters preferred by farmers. A study by Oregon State University professor George Waldbusser has found Olympia oysters make their shells much more slowly. That helps protect them from acidic water.

Gosia Wozniacka / / Associated Press

Oregonians across the state braved a soggy afternoon Tuesday to protest the occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.

While Harney County residents are asking armed protesters to leave, many locals are sympathetic to their issues. As Kristian Foden-Vencil reports from Oregon Public Broadcasting, the root may lie in the West’s rural economy.

Harney County is sparsely populated, with seven thousand residents living on ten thousand square miles of land. That used to mean a healthy timber industry.

But Josh Lehner with the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis says since 1978 Harney County has lost 99 percent of its wood product jobs.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

President Barack Obama was at Nike's campus near Beaverton Friday, pitching the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. 

The president said a progressive, high standard trade agreement like the Trans-Pacific Partnership would open new markets and support high quality jobs. He used Nike factories across the world as an example.

photologue_np / Flickr

Oregon's unemployment rate has fallen below the national average and it's the first time that's happened in 19 years.

The last year has been good to Oregon's economy.

The unemployment rate has plummeted from more than 7 percent to 5.4 percent. That's one-tenth of a percentage point below the national average.

State economist David Cooke said the last time Oregon had a lower unemployment rate than the nation, was in 1996, the height of the dot-com boom.

Andy Maguire / Flickr

Congressional Democrats from up and down the West Coast are asking the House Appropriations Committee to allocate more money for a new earthquake early warning system.

The warning system uses sensors to detect the initial, less destructive, waves of an earthquake. So it doesn't give much advance notice -- between a few seconds and a minute.

But politicians argued that's enough for a doctor to stop a complicated surgery, a train driver to put on the brakes, or a family to move away from the windows.

Google Images

Oregon scientists are trying to figure out how a fish, native to Japan, was pulled out of a crab pot on the Oregon coast - alive.

“I’ve been thinking about it ever since I heard about it,” says John Chapman, an invasive species expert at the Hatfield Marine Science Center.

He says there’s only a handful of ways the striped knifejaw could make it here: in the ballast water of a ship; someone could have dumped their aquarium into the ocean; or the fish survived under debris washed out to sea after the Japanese tsunami.

Tara Schmidt / Flickr

People who've undergone 'conversion therapy' to try to change their sexual orientation told lawmakers Monday that the therapy doesn't work and is emotionally damaging. 

Lawmakers are considering a bill to stop therapists from performing 'conversion therapy' on minors. The therapy covers a range of treatments aimed at changing sexual orientation.

Back in 1987, Jason Zenobia said his parents sent him to conversion therapy when he told them he was gay.

Cover Oregon

One of the first things legislators are expected to do when the session starts next week, is to put an end to 'Cover Oregon'. The state's failed health insurance exchange.

Speaking about the up-coming session, Democrats, Republicans and Governor John Kitzhaber all agree: 'Cover Oregon' is finished.

"What we'll simply be doing is folding the remaining functions of what was 'Cover Oregon' into the insurance division," Kitzhaber said.

The leader of the Senate Republicans, Ted Ferrioli, agreed.

Flickr

Currently, if a doctor wants to talk to a patient about dying, he or she has to do it off-the-clock. They can't bill insurance companies for the time.

Portland Democrat, Earl Blumenauer, says he has 60 co-sponsors for his bill to allow such conversations to be covered by Medicare and Medicaid.

"It will pay for a 93-year-old woman with terminal cancer to have her hip replaced, but it won't pay a couple of hundred bucks for the doctor to have a conversation with this woman and her family to find out what her wishes are," he said.

Multnomah County Sheriff's Office

An Oregon man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for plotting to bomb a crowded holiday event in Portland's town square in 2010.

Mohamed Mohamud was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Portland in a plot that actually was an FBI sting.

Governor John Kitzhaber says the state signed a contract Thursday, with a company for an independent assessment of the problems with Oregon's health insurance exchange website.

Oregon's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues its slow decline. It reached 8.2 percent in March.

An estimated 300 Oregonians were registered to run the Boston Marathon Monday.

When explosions rocked the Boston Marathon route today Monday hundreds of Oregonians were in the city for the race.  More than 300 people from Oregon were registered for the marathon, and Nike and Adidas both had staffs there.

Judson Randall

Oregon authorities have contacted the Japanese Consulate in Portland to find out whether a piece of presumed tsunami debris that washed up at Oceanside on Friday is culturally significant.

Oregon State website

Oregon's voter approved effort to link the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index was the topic of debate at a Capitol Hill hearing Thursday.

The Portland city employee who was charged this week with aiding terrorism has been released to await his trial.

Oregon's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for January was 8.4 percent -- essentially unchanged from 8.3 percent in December. Ever since Oregon's unemployment rate peaked at over 11 percent in 2009, it's been dropping, but slowly.

Oregon Public Broadcasting

Governor John Kitzhaber says the feds are calling Oregon's health system a model for other states. Money goes along with that.

 The server giant, Oracle, announced Monday that it will shift 130 jobs from Mexico to Oregon - and retain other jobs here that might have been headed south.

Tennessee Department of Health website

We're into the flu season in the Pacific Northwest, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Steve Morgan / Wikimedia Commons

Police say three people are dead, including the gunman, after a shooting at a shopping mall in suburban Portland.

Steve Morgan / Wikimedia Commons

Police say the threat has been neutralized at Clackamas Town Center, but at least one person is dead. People are now being escorted out of the mall.

NASA / Wikimedia Commons

An Oregon company is building a new high-altitude ballooning station in Tillamook. The Near Space Corporation is spending $6.9 million to build a factory and ballooning station at the Port of Tillamook Airport Business Park.

Photo Credit: Gary Halvorson/Wiki Commons

Three of Oregon's former governors announced their opposition Monday to two Oregon casino ballot measures.

Oregon's three former governors announced their opposition Monday to the state's casino ballot measures. Measure 82 amends the constitution to allow non-tribal casinos, and requires those casinos to give a percentage of their revenue to the state lottery. Measure 83 authorizes such a casino in Multnomah County, at Wood Village.

Oregon’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased two-tenths of a percent in August to 8.9 percent. Since reaching a peak of about 11.5 percent during the recent recession, Oregon's unemployment rate had been falling - albeit very slowly. But since May, it's been climbing again from a low of 8.4 percent to now 8.9 percent.

It's a hot dry day for fire fighters battling blazes along Route 141 in Washington, just north of White Salmon. Forty-five homes have been evacuated since Wednesday afternoon. Other homeowners have been notified they need to be ready to evacuate on short notice.

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