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Oregon's Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and death sentence of Michael Washington. The Gresham, Oregon man is on death row for the 2004 murder of Mohamed Jabbie, an immigrant from Sierra Leone.

Idaho Republican Congressman Raul Labrador lost his bid Thursday for majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. But the run may not be a complete loss for Idaho’s ultra-conservative congressman.

One candidate for an eastern Washington congressional seat has hit on a way to appeal to 2nd Amendment advocates and to increase the names on his campaign mailing list.

Sprague Army Solider Remembered this Weekend

Jun 19, 2014

Family, elected officials, and members of the military will remember a soldier from Sprague, Washington at a funeral Saturday, June 21st. 22-year-old Justin Clouse was one of five men killed by assumed friendly fire in Afghanistan.

There's Still Gold in Idaho's Hills

Jun 18, 2014

A small gold mining and milling company in Idaho's Silver Valley has struck gold again in a couple of old, largely played-out mines in central Idaho. The New Jersey Mining company reports that sample drilling in an old mine near Elk City Idaho has turned up  as much as half an ounce of gold per ton of rock.

Thompson Loses Bid For New Trial in Zehm Case

Jun 17, 2014

Ex-Spokane police officer Karl Thompson has lost his bid to get a new trial in the 2006 beating death of Otto Zehm. Thompson's main argument revolved around prosecutors' failure to disclose possibly exculpatory evidence from one of its expert witnesses, Grant Fredericks. 

Senate Hearing on Oil Bill Focused on Industry

Jun 17, 2014

Tuesday, state lawmakers held a public hearing in Spokane about a senate bill on oil train safety. It came about a week after the governor ordered state agencies to study risks from oil spills. Instead of addressing the senate bill, or governor’s order, the hearing primarily served as an update from the oil industry.

At the front of the room were Senate Energy, Environment, and Telecommunications committee members, including Andy Billig of Spokane. Senator Michael Baumgartner of Spokane is not on the committee but also attended, as a bill sponsor. 

After a long, costly and fruitless legal struggle with Indian tribes over salmon habitat, the state of Washington is setting up a new board to oversee removal of fish barriers in the state's streams. It's called the Fish Passage Barrier Removal Board.

State Lawmakers Push Oil Train Safety Bill

Jun 16, 2014

The thought of more oil trains rolling through Spokane and cross-state to western shipping terminals tends to make state and federal lawmakers worry. So they're casting about for ways to reduce risks to public safety.

A Washington state Senate committee will hold a special hearing in Spokane Tuesday morning on a bill to set up a statewide spill prevention and response act.

Idaho’s state Republican Party Convention was a mass of confusion over the weekend, as they failed to agree on a party platform, and the convention adjourned without electing a chairman.

Olympia may be the traditional home for state committee hearings and discussions between city leaders in Washington. This week, Spokane will play host. The talks start with oil train safety, in a hearing with the Spokane city council and state Senate committee on energy, environment, and telecommunications.

Courtesy of Mary Lou Johnson

Two people are challenging County Commissioner Al French this year. Bonnie Mager was in our studio last month, and this month we meet Mary Lou Johnson. French is a current commissioner, and Mager was commissioner until French beat her in 2010. Johnson brings a solid background in criminal justice, and knowledge of county programs. She worked as an attorney in Spokane then for a federal district court judge for 17 years.

Idaho, Oregon Lawmakers Unite for Wildfire Money

Jun 12, 2014

Federal lawmakers from two fire-prone states - Idaho and Oregon - are urging both houses of Congress to make funding for wildfires a bit less harum-scarum and disruptive than it is now, and to do it before the wildfire season erupts.

Washington State election directors are attending a conference in Spokane this week. Among the topics, possible replacement of current computer systems that track voter registration in the state’s 39 counties.

Phone-Apps Provide Rides in Spokane, to Cabs Chagrin

Jun 10, 2014
Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio

  Two national ride-share companies opened in Spokane in March, and the nationwide debate that follows them is just gassing up in Spokane. The companies Lyft and Uber are technically phone-apps, in which people request a ride and are picked by a driver using their own vehicle.

Douglas firs are everywhere in Washington and Oregon. They are the keystone for the timber industry in the Pacific Northwest. And now, climatologists see a new role for the ubiquitous conifers - as early warning canaries in the coal mine of climate change.

Homeless Population on Rise in Spokane

Jun 9, 2014

The population of homeless people in Spokane grew by 12-percent over the past year. New numbers from the annual point in time homeless count show Spokane is home to about 1,100 homeless people.
Mayor David Condon says while the number increased overall, certain populations of homeless decreased.

Fallout from the Veterans Affairs Department healthcare scheduling scandal is rumbling through the Spokane VA hospital and eight other facilities in Washington and Oregon. As a result of a system-wide audit of VA practices in scheduling patients, the Veterans Health Administration has flagged nine health facilities in Washington and Oregon - including Spokane - for further investigation.

Moses Lake Tax Evader Can't Evade Prison Time

Jun 9, 2014

A Moses Lake insurance agent and financial advisor has lost his fight to overturn his conviction for tax evasion. 51-year old J. Scott Vrieling was convicted in 2012 by a Spokane federal court jury for failing to file federal income taxes for 2004 through 2007.

When he was sentenced to two years in prison last year, the judge also told Vrieling to ante up more than 939-thousand dollars in unpaid taxes, a fine of 100-thousand dollars, more than 14-thousand dollars for the cost of his prosecution and an unspecified penalty assessment of 100 dollars.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has announced specific targets that states will need to meet in reducing carbon emissions by the year 2030. For Washington State, it’s an ambitious goal of a 72 percent reduction.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced specific targets that states will need to meet in reducing carbon emissions by the year 2030. For Washington State, it’s an ambitious goal of a 72 percent reduction. The overall nationwide goal set by EPA is a reduction in carbon emissions by 30 percent by the year 2030.

  Portland Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer thinks it's silly to make doctors lie about talking with patients about end-of-life issues if they want to get paid for their time. As he did in 2009, Blumenauer is sponsoring a bill to reimburse doctors for advance care planning.

  Film producer Rich Cowan has entered the race for Washington state Senate. As part of our series on candidates in the November election, we meet Cowan, a Democrat focused on stimulating the job market. He’s running against Republican incumbent Michael Baumgartner.

US Lawmakers Examine Earthquake Warning System

Jun 2, 2014

A U.S. House committee run by retiring Washington Congressman Doc Hastings wants to know if there's a reliable way to warn of impending earthquakes. A Natural Resources Committee oversight hearing next week is titled - "Whole Lotta Shaking: An Examination of America's Earthquake Early Warning System Development and Implementation."

The State of Idaho, two Native American tribes and two federal agencies are teaming up next week to train a new cadre of wild land firefighters. With the advent of the summer wildfire season, the agencies responsible for fighting the fires must bulk up their employee rolls. Next week, somewhere between 80 and a hundred aspiring fire fighters will gather at Camp Lutherhaven on the west side of Lake Coeur d'Alene for a five-day basic training course.

Volume 2014: Bigger Bands, More Variety, Spokane Scene

May 29, 2014
Paige Browning / Spokane Public Radio

The music festival in Spokane this weekend has sold out for the past two years. This year, a band on a big-time label will play. And, the Seattle Weekly dedicated an entire article to the event. Volume has become a must for music fans in Spokane and beyond.

More elected officials are speaking up this week about the release of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from Taliban captivity. Today (Tuesday) we spoke with Congress member Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who represents Eastern Washington, about her take on the government exchange.

(Grashio Family) /

It’s a story of Word War two that few remember, The only mass escape of American prisoners of War from a Japanese prisoner of war camp. One of those men was Spokane native.

Author John Lukacs has worked for almost 20 years on uncovering the story of the prisoner of war escape. He originally published a book, called Escape from Davao, which has now been made into a film entitled "4-4-43".

Last week, we introduced you to a private attorney who is running for Spokane county prosecutor. This week, we take a look at his opponent, the current Deputy Prosecutor for the county.
Larry Haskell has worked in the county prosecutors office since 1998, minus a three year stint in the Air Force following 9-11. He also spent a year working in the US attorney’s office in Spokane, working as an assistant US attorney.

When the Columbia River treaty was signed back in 1964, Native American tribes were not consulted. Now, several tribal officials are asking that that they be included in negotiations to renew the treaty.