News

Copyright 2012 Matt McKnight

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho - There’s a new effort to build a white supremacist compound in the Northwest.

Kitzhaber's Budget Relies On Cost-Cutting Measures

Nov 29, 2012
Oregon Department of Transportation

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber's proposed budget relies on cost-cutting measures to public pensions, health care and prisons. The Democrat will unveil his two-year spending plan at the state capitol Friday.

Kitzhaber's plan will divide up about $16 billion in expected state revenue. About half of that would go to education, from pre-school through college.

To help pay for the plan, the governor is proposing changes to the state's pension system for public employees. The most significant change would be a cap on cost-of-living increases for retirees.

Hanford Nuclear Reservation
US Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – The U.S. Department of Energy still has work to do to improve its own safety culture. That’s the upshot of a recent study on the federal agency that heads environmental cleanup of nuclear waste across the country, including the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A rash of accidental shootings involving kids and unsecured guns has some Washington lawmakers considering a change in the law. A legislative panel will meet Friday to discuss ways to prevent children from getting their hands on firearms.

FBI

A decade on the lam has ended for a suspect in a string of eco-sabotage attacks across the American West.  Alleged Earth Liberation Front fugitive Rebecca J. Rubin turned herself in at the Canadian border Thursday morning. 

Later in the day, she showed little emotion during a brief appearance in U.S. District Court in Seattle. Outside the federal courthouse, defense attorney Richard Troberman explained why Rubin surrendered.  "She really wants to move her life forward without these impediments. It was just time," said Troberman.

Washington House of Representatives

Governor-elect Jay Inslee and Washington lawmakers face a nearly $3B conundrum in the next two-year budget. That's the stark assessment of House Budget Chair Ross Hunter, D-Medina.

Hunter outlined the bigger-than-previously-reported budget gap in a PowerPoint slide presentation to fellow House Democrats at the start of two days of pre-session meetings at the Capitol.

Courtesy Columbia Grain

 

A possible strike or lock out at Northwest grain terminals would have a profound effect on U.S. wheat exports. 

US Marshals Service

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend 2009. Maurice Clemmons, an Arkansas felon living in Washington, walks into a coffee shop and guns down four Lakewood police officers. Pierce County Sheriff's Department spokesman Ed Troyer described the scene as "more of an execution.”

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Imagine, for a moment, that you're a stately Noble fir, ensconced among your peers amidst a lovely forest on the Oregon coast. Summers are mild, winters are rainy; pretty much everything you could ever want as a tree. You start to think that this might be a nice place to retire.

Murray Urges More Republicans To Break Anti-Tax Pledge

Nov 28, 2012
CSPAN

U.S. Senator Patty Murray is encouraging Republican members of Congress to break campaign pledges to vote against any tax increases. The Washington Democrat made the comments on the floor of the U.S Senate Wednesday.

Murray plays a significant roll in negotiations to over how to avert budget cuts and tax hikes scheduled take effect in January. In recent days, several GOP lawmakers have softened their “No New Taxes” pledge made to conservative activist Grover Norquist.

Dog Fur Knitting: New Craft, Old Northwest Tradition

Nov 27, 2012
David Offf (L) and EnragedLioness (R) / Flickr

PORTLAND - As the cold winter weather rolls around, you may pull your warm wool sweater from the back of the closet. But these days, some people are knitting sweaters out of a different animal: dogs. It's a new craft movement that is actually part of a very old Northwest tradition.

At the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival, you can find all sorts of yarn, from mohair to angora. And even some of the sheep and rabbits and goats that grew them. But here in the artists’ gallery, weaver Jerie Lucas displays sweaters and scarves knitted from another species.

Rahul Nair / Flickr

Sawmills in the Northwest have significantly ramped up production in response to the rebound in construction nationally. That's according to a market survey by an industry consultant based near Seattle.

Wood Resources International president Hakan Ekstrom says the region's sawmills are returning to profitability thanks to a happy coincidence of rising domestic and foreign demand.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – The huge Christmas tree in the rotunda of the Oregon capitol building is back up again. Crews had to un-decorate and lower the 30-foot Noble Fir Tuesday morning to correct a fairly basic error made when the tree was raised the day before.

You know how when you buy a Christmas tree you're always warned to slice off a piece of the trunk so the tree can more effectively take in water? Well, someone overlooked that detail for the huge tree that graces the rotunda of the Oregon capitol.

Friends of Washoe

The director of a chimpanzee institute at Central Washington University says she feels urgency to bring in new animals. The education and research program in Ellensburg is now down to two aging chimps after the weekend death of another ape known for his sign language abilities.

The chimpanzee named "Dar" was 36 years old when he died unexpectedly on Saturday of unknown causes. Autopsy results are expected later this week.

In recognition of their tenuous majority, Senate Democrats have proposed to give minority Republicans an additional seat on each policy committee, including the budget-writing Ways and Means committee. That would mean Democrats would have just a one vote advantage over Republicans. "No majority, Republican or Democratic, has allowed for such a narrow split in at least a decade," says a Democratic Caucus press release. 

Northwest's Rural Gay Community Coming Out Of The Shadows

Nov 23, 2012
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - Washington legalizes same-sex marriage next month at a time when the geography of the Northwest’s gay and lesbian population is changing. Their numbers are still largest in metropolitan areas. But if you look for the biggest increases – that trend is happening in small towns and rural areas. In Idaho more gay and lesbian couples are making a choice that was once unthinkable in rural areas — they’re living openly.

Joe Palisano is used to a certain kind of reaction when he tells people where he lives.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – When Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber unveils his budget proposal November 30, it will include something of a gamble. Advisors say the Democrat's spending plan will include cost-cutting to the state's public pension system. Getting those changes through the legislature — and the courts — will be no easy task. But the cost of the pension system has gone up substantially.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho - The last herds of reindeer in the continental United States are found in the Northwest. But even here, there aren't very many left. 

Randy Hoodenpyl

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Heavy rains and high winds are making it hard to get around parts of western Washington and northwest Oregon this afternoon. Flood watches and warnings are in effect across a wide area of the Northwest. At least half a dozen mudslides have blocked highways and rail lines since this morning .

The freight train of storms pummeling the Northwest has saturated soils. Some places are not getting enough time between downpours for the water to drain off. Oregon's Department of Geology put all of western Oregon on notice for increased potential of landslides.

Oregon Dept. of Corrections

SALEM, Ore. – One year ago this week, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber stunned the state and made international headlines when he issued a moratorium on the death penalty. He said he hoped his action would spur state lawmakers to a conversation about the death penalty. But so far, there's little momentum for the legislature to act on the issue.

Kitzhaber called Oregon's capital punishment system "compromised and inequitable." He said the ban on executions would last through the end of his time in office.

How To Pass A Ballot Measure

Nov 15, 2012

The folks over at CFM Strategic Communications, a prominent Oregon lobbying/public relations firm, have written up an interesting post-election analysis of the campaign to pass Ballot Measure 79. 

OLYMPIA, Wash. - In Olympia, a new revenue outlook shows a shortfall in the next state budget cycle. That is putting renewed attention on promises not to raise taxes.

Washington's Democratic governor-elect Jay Inslee made such a pledge during the recent campaign. So did many Republicans elected to the Legislature.

The chief budget writer for House Democrats, Ross Hunter, says he's working on a no-new-taxes spending blueprint for the next two years. But Hunter Wednesday predicted the product will include so many unpalatable cuts, he doubts it could pass.

Austin Jenkins

SEATTLE, Wash. – Washington Governor-elect Jay Inslee says states are the incubators of new ideas – and that should extend to marijuana legalization. Inslee Wednesday said he’s hopeful Washington’s new recreational pot law can take effect without federal interference.

Inslee didn’t support Washington’s marijuana legalization initiative. But now that it has passed he says, “The voters have spoken.”

Inslee says he will work in a “rational and mature” way to persuade the Obama administration to allow Washington to implement the law.

John Hafner / National Wild Turkey Federation

The turkey is a quintessentially American bird, exported from the New World like corn and potatoes. But the turkey is not native to the Pacific Northwest. The wild turkeys you may have seen here are part of the bird’s comeback story.

The Northwest's wild turkeys are out-of-state newcomers. In fact, you might have lived here longer than turkeys have. A few were introduced in the 1960s, and then, “In the 1980s and 1990s, wild turkeys were brought into the Pacific Northwest," says This is Mikal Moore, a biologist with the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Wolf Trapping Season Set To Open In Idaho

Nov 14, 2012
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The gray wolf remains on state endangered species lists in Oregon and Washington. But in Idaho, the state opens wolf trapping season Nov. 15. In fact, Idaho plans to offer more tags than last year.

Idaho game managers hope sportsmen -– and women -– will help reduce the state's wolf population. Hunters and trappers bagged at least 375 wolves last year.

This year, that number may grow. Each hunter can get as many as 10 wolf tags and a trained trapper can get five.

U.S. Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – Workers the Hanford Nuclear Reservation are readying pumping equipment at a slow-leaking radioactive waste tank in case the leak gets worse. A newly released report details why the tank became unstable.

Hanford officials say so far they’ve found no waste leaking into the environment from the tank called AY-102.

The new report says many of the tanks original welds from 40 years ago didn’t meet standards and had to be fixed before it was filled. Later, super-hot waste was added that was likely corrosive to the tank’s metal walls.

Photo by nerissa's ring via Flickr

RICHLAND, Wash. – This holiday season, Northwest winemakers are hoping to expand their customer base with a new sales venue. Seattle’s online shopping giant Amazon.com is now shipping wine.

Tom Hedges is co-founder of Hedges Family Estate on Red Mountain in southeast Washington. He says his family has only been selling wine on Amazon.com for about a week. It will take a few months to truly see if selling bottles through the site will actually pencil out.

Hedges doesn’t think there will be a lot of overlap with already established customers.

Austin Jenkins

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCHORD, Wash. - A pretrial hearing for Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales has concluded at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Bales is the soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians earlier this year – most of them young children. The defense is focused on Bales’ state of mind.

In closing arguments, Bales’ attorney Emma Scanlan challenged the prosecution’s assertion that Bales carried out the massacre in a methodical manner.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Eugene-based track star Ashton Eaton already has a world record to his name and a gold medal in decathlon from this year's London Olympics. 

Bobak Ha'Eri / Wikimedia

A Pac-12 spokesman said Monday that the athletic conference does not have a timeline for completing a review of the WSU football program. 

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