Northwest News

Northwest Public Radio is a participant and contributor in the Northwest News Network (N3), a collaboration of public radio stations in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Our reporters bring a regional perspective to coverage of Northwest states' government, environment, economy, and other news of widespread interest to residents of the Northwest. Regional news on Northwest Public Radio is a part of Morning Edition every weekday morning, and All Things Considered in the afternoons.

Owen / Wikimedia Commons

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon lawmakers return to Salem on Wednesday with a fiscal challenge on their hands. Expected revenues have fallen sharply since the legislature created the current spending plan last summer. As Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports, Lawmakers expect to hear more bad news soon after they arrive back in town.

Oregon lawmakers plan to be at the capitol for about a month. One of the first things they'll do is get the latest predictions about the state's revenue picture.

Wikimedia Commons

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington appears poised to become the seventh state in the nation to allow gay marriage. Backers say they have the votes in the legislature. The law would exempt churches that oppose same-sex marriage. But not wedding-related businesses. Attorney Steve O’Ban highlighted this recently in testimony against the proposed law.

Steve O’Ban: “There’s no protection either for a small businesswoman for example who runs say a photography business or a printing company to decline to photograph or, say, print a wedding announcements for gay weddings, for reasons of faith.”

Wash. Lawmakers Consider Budgeting Education First

Jan 30, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. – For years, Republicans in the Washington legislature have demanded that state lawmakers vote on the education budget first. Democrats have generally rejected that idea. But this week, for the first time, a “fund education first” proposal will get a public hearing. Azusa Uchikura has more from Olympia.

What’s fueling the decision to consider the education budget first is a ruling earlier this month by the Washington Supreme Court. In McCleary v. Washington, the justices said state lawmakers are not adequately funding education.

PORTLAND - As gay and lesbian people age, their need for retirement options mirrors those of the general population. But they often face unique challenges, especially when it comes to finding housing. For instance, some active-living retirement facilities don't allow unmarried couples to live together. And some gay seniors fear a cold shoulder from staff or fellow retirees. Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

Oregon's high school graduation rates inched up slightly last year. But as Rob Manning reports, thousands of young people who endure four years of high school don’t have a regular diploma to show for it.

67 percent of freshmen who entered high school in 2007, earned diplomas last spring, after four years in school. The other thirty-three percent are not all dropouts. Many of them got alternative diplomas, or GED's. But education experts say the goal should be to have as many students as possible earning the more rigorous, standard diploma.

Boeing

The Boeing Company ended 2011 having sold about half as many airplanes as its France-based rival, Airbus. Now, less than a month into the new year, Boeing has inked its largest deal ever with a European airline. The aerospace giant is on track to overtake Airbus for the first time in years. From France, Liam Moriarty reports.

Oslo-based Norwegian Air Shuttle is the first European carrier to buy Boeing's revamped 737 MAX -- 100 of them. The deal is seen as another industry vote of confidence in the updated version of Boeing’s workhorse model.

A judge in U.S. District Court in Seattle sentenced Colton Harris-Moore, also known as the “Barefoot Bandit,” to six-and-a-half years in prison Friday. Speaking before the judge, Harris-Moore expressed remorse, said he’s lucky to be alive, and told other young people not to follow his example. KUOW’s Amy Radil reports.

Colton Harris-Moore was sentenced on seven federal counts including thefts of airplanes and weapons during his cross-country spree. He’s also been sentenced to more than seven years for state charges.

Most days, Nowela Virginie and her two young daughters are here, in her small apartment just off a busy thoroughfare on the outskirts of Boise.

Virginie is 23, and she arrived in Boise three years ago. She was born in Rwanda, but spent 16 years of her life in a refugee camp in Tanzania. She remembers the shock of finding herself in a new city, a place that looked nothing like anywhere she’d ever been. "When I coming USA, nobody can explain to me how USA is to look like, nobody can explain to me," she says.

Immigration Laws In Wash. Draws Hundreds To Olympia

Jan 27, 2012
Azusa Uchikura / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Immigrant rights advocates are making their voice heard in Olympia. Hundreds gathered to sway legislators on state immigration laws. Azusa Uchikura reports on Thursday’s rally in Olympia.

Pramila Jayapal: “The immigrant voice in Washington state is proud and loud."

Those are immigrant rights advocates rallying on the steps of the Washington state house. They want to convince lawmakers in Olympia to keep E-verify optional for Washington employers.

Jason McArthur / Wikimedia Commons

GRANT'S PASS, Ore. – Oregon Congressmen Peter DeFazio and Greg Walden appeared together in Grants Pass Thursday. They were pushing their proposal to open up some public forests to logging. Amelia Templeton reports they were tight lipped about the details.

Groups Boycott 'The Grey' For Portrayal Of Wolves

Jan 26, 2012

A new Liam Neeson action thriller opening Friday is receiving howls of protest from wolf advocates. They say “The Grey” wrongly portrays wolves as massive, bloodthirsty beasts. And as Jessica Robinson reports, some wildlife groups are organizing a boycott.

When a plane crash strands a scruffy bunch of guys in the wilds of Alaska, they find themselves going mano a mano against some very mean looking wolves.

Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington state insurance commissioner has fined an Indiana company $100,000 for charging Washington college students the wrong rates.

Unicare Life and Health Insurance sold over 8,000 insurance policies, primarily to international students, between 2004 and 2009. Most were short-term policies costing an average of $80 a month. The problem is, the company used unapproved methods to determine those rates. Unicare also excluded people from coverage whom they shouldn’t have. Rich Roesler is a spokesperson for the state’s insurance office.

Online Guide to House Members and Senators / Wikimedia Commons

EUGENE, Ore. - Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio is hoping he'll soon be able to introduce legislation that will help fund rural counties who are bracing for the loss of federal timber payments.

Some counties face insolvency if the Secure Rural Schools Act is not renewed. Congressman DeFazio says he's working with fellow Democratic Representative Curt Schrader and Republican Representative Greg Walden for a temporary extension. They're also helping him with a long term plan.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington lawmakers are considering a plan to save money by abolishing the death penalty in the state. That idea got a hearing today in Olympia. Karil Klingbeil testified in support of the ban. Her sister, Candy Hemmig, was murdered 30 years ago in Olympia. The killer, Mitchell Rupe was dubbed “the man too fat to hang.” He initially got the death penalty, but after 20 years of appeals, received a life sentence instead. Klingbeil testified about the anger she used to feel.

StoryCorps / StoryCorps

Holocaust Remembrance Day is January 27. During World War II, Sweden offered asylum to more than eight thousand Danish Jews. Holocaust Remembrance Day is January 27.  During World War II, Sweden offered asylum to more than eight thousand Danish Jews.  Kerstin Ringdahl, born in in Sweden in 1935, tells her friend Fran Lane Rasmus about her own family's experience taking in a Jewish refugee.
 

Miners’ Prospects Reverse Of Economic Downturn

Jan 25, 2012
Wikimedia user: Plazak / Wikimedia Commons

SILVER VALLEY, Idaho - They say the days when you could go from high school to a high-paying, blue collar job are long gone. But there are places in the Northwest where those days still exist -- that is, if you’re willing to work a mile underground.

For gold and silver miners, it looks like boom times right now. Rising salaries, more job opportunities. Even a recent layoff in north Idaho doesn't look like other layoffs. Correspondent Jessica Robinson has this story on a job that's seeing the reverse side of the economic downturn.

Tom Banse / N3

PORTLAND - Quick, think of any famous female musicians in the American roots genre. Sure, today there's Allison Krauss and Gillian Welch. But for the most part, history remembers a lot of men in old-time country, blues and folk music... names like Lead Belly, Muddy Waters or Doc Watson.

Not a lot of women in American roots music are getting their due. That's according to a folklorist from near Seattle. She and her husband have made it their mission to change that. The Library of Congress has taken notice. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

PORTLAND, Ore. - Iberdrola Renewables, one of the Northwest's biggest wind and solar power companies, let go about 50 workers out of a nationwide staff of more than 900. The cuts affect 25 workers based at its North American headquarters in Portland. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

Energy company Iberdrola Renewables cited multiple factors for a decision to scale back on new projects. That led directly to layoffs in engineering, construction and development.

Silver Valley Slams Feds For Mine Shut Down

Jan 24, 2012
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

WALLACE, Idaho - Residents of Idaho's Silver Valley are outraged over a federal order that will put 250 local miners out of work for a year. They expressed their frustration to Idaho Governor Butch Otter Monday at a town hall meeting in Wallace. Correspondent Jessica Robinson has more.

The Lucky Friday Mine in north Idaho is one of the deepest and most productive silver mines in the country. And in 2011, it had a string of accidents -– including two fatalities.

Wikimedia user: Tradnor / Wikimedia Commons

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington lawmakers say they now have the last “yes” vote they need to pass same-sex marriage in the state.

Cheers from gay rights supporters filled the room as state Senator Ed Murray announced that news at a press conference Monday in Olympia. The 25th vote comes from Democratic State Senator Mary Margaret Haugen.

Opponents of gay marriage want to put the idea to a vote of the people. So even though the legislative votes are there, Murray says same-sex marriage is not a done deal yet in Washington.

Wikimedia user: TobinFricke / Wikimedia Commons

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Department of Energy is starting work on a plan to build a 30-mile natural gas pipeline to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s waste treatment plant. The announcement Monday includes few details but the pipeline would likely go under the Columbia River.

Hanford’s waste treatment plant is going to need a lot of power. After all, its purpose is to mix radioactive sludge with glass material to form molten liquid. That brew, once cooled, would form huge glass logs for long-term storage.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The number of people who are out of work in Washington is falling. It’s a sign the economy is recovering – albeit slowly. But it’s only been in the last two months that the government sector has started hiring again. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins profiles one person who lost her state job, but found another one.

Keri-Anne Jetzer’s low point came last year when she lost her job as a researcher for Washington’s Sentencing Guidelines Commission.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – Rising flood waters have led to evacuations and road closures in the Willamette Valley. In the town of Turner, city officials have encouraged all residents to evacuate. Shelters are open in Salem for those displaced by flood waters. Salem residents Mark and Andi Bean were eyeing the rising waters. They were filling up sandbags at a city of Salem maintenance facility.

Gus Van Vliet / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

EUGENE, OREGON - Three environmental groups intend to take Oregon's Department of Forestry to court over the effect logging has on a threatened seabird.

The marbled murrelet spends much of its time over the ocean – but it nests in older forests. The Center for Biological Diversity, Audubon Society of Portland, and Cascadia Wildlands argue that logging plans for three state forests would harm the bird's nesting habitat, in violation of the Endangered Species Act. 

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Supporters and opponents of gay marriage plan to descend on Washington’s capitol on Monday . That’s when House and Senate committees are scheduled to take public testimony on legislation to allow same-sex couples to marry. It now appears sponsors in the state Senate are just one vote shy of passage.

StoryCorps Northwest

In the United States there are an estimated 5.4 million people with Alzheimer's disease. Two thirds of those are women over the age of 65. Dorothee Lundgren was diagnosed with the disease at much younger age, she was 49. In this StoryCorps excerpt, her husband, Richard Lundgren talks with their son, David, about how the disease changed the marriage.

Hanford.gov / U.S. Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s tank farms in southeast Washington may have much more plutonium than earlier estimated. That’s according to a report by a Hanford contractor that’s just been leaked to public radio. As Anna King reports, At least one high-level Hanford official worries the findings could mean a massive waste treatment plant’s design might need to be altered.

SPOKANE, WA- The marchers at this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity Parade seemed to forget about the frigid weather, and an attempted bomber at last year’s event. Spokane Public Radio’s Paige Browning attended the parade and reports.

Morrison: “I believe in the dream, and it lives”.

Marching for her sixth year in a row, Karen Morrison marched near the front of the parade, leading the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. At least 1,000 people marched this year, led by a Lewis and Clark High School marching band.

What happens if a timber harvest is a little more like a fire or windstorm that leaves patches of trees behind? And what happens if you don’t replant trees after logging? That’s what the Bureau of Land Management is proposing for a series of experimental timber sales in Southern Oregon. Amelia Templeton reports.

Climb into the hills east of Roseburg Oregon, and you’ll find patches of old growth forest—and a lot of old clear-cuts.

Year-end sales numbers are in and, in the corporate battle of the skies, Airbus has once again beaten Boeing.

The European jet maker said this morning that sales last year totaled 1,419 — or almost double the 805 sales Boeing posted last year.

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