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They're life-jacket orange, they're robots and they're capable of sailing the high seas without human intervention.

On Tuesday the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a private contractor launched a pair of unmanned “Saildrones” in Pacific Northwest waters for the first time. Their summer-long voyage to collect fish data will stretch from Vancouver Island to California.

KUOW Photo/Amy Radil

In Seattle, labor leaders and Democrats were distressed–and defiant–over the latest U.S. Supreme Court decision suffocating public sector unions. 

The ruling in Janus vs. AFSCME  allows public employees to opt out of paying for collective bargaining, which could shrink union membership and political clout.

Last year, the Washington state Supreme Court granted the Yakama Nation the right to transport goods and services across state lines without taxation. Attorneys and tribal members called it a landmark case for tribal sovereignty. Now the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review it.

Seattle firefighters tackle a blaze amid scrapped cars along the Duwamish River on June 26.
Seattle Fire Department

A plume of black smoke stretched across South Seattle on Tuesday night as a fire burned on a barge of scrapped cars on the Duwamish River.


The lone gun-control measure vying for the November ballot has likely run out of time.

The Oregon Supreme Court Wednesday announced it would not certify ballot language for Initiative Petition 43, a proposed ban on military-style semi-automatic weapons in Oregon. Instead, the court referred draft ballot language back to Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum for revision, finding substantial flaws in her office’s last attempt.

A federal employee walks past cribs inside of the barracks of a family detention center in Artesia, New Mexico, for those crossing the border. This photo is from 2014, when attorney Danielle Rosché volunteered there.
AP Photo/Juan Carlos Llorca, File

Family detention — two words that still haunt Danielle Rosché, an immigration attorney.

Flickr Photo/Howard Ignatius (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/nZ4Mz1

Washington state’s population grew by 117,000 people this year from last, to 7.4 million people. That’s like gaining a city the size of Everett.

Devon Adelman at KUOW's Ask a Special Olympics Athlete event on June, 9, 2018.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Here’s the thing to know about Special Olympics athletes: They’re adrenaline junkies. And for some, the Games is the perfect outlet for that.


Pamela and Afshin Raghebi relax together. The couple has been separated since Afshin left the US to seek permanent legal status and has not been permitted to return home.
Courtesy of Pamela Raghebi

Seattle resident Pamela Raghebi is separated from her husband Afshin, who's orginally from Iran. After leaving the country in March to acquire legal status, Afshin has been unable to return to the United States.

The Supreme Court ruling upholding President Trump's travel ban means that Afshin may not be able to return home.


Immigrant rights groups held a rally downtown Tuesday to protest the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the so-called Muslim travel ban.

The U.S. House approved a bill Tuesday that makes it easier to kill a limited number of sea lions that threaten imperiled salmon and steelhead populations.

The legislation was co-sponsored by Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., and Kurt Schrader, D-Ore.

“What we currently have on the Columbia River is an ecosystem seriously out of balance,” said Herrera Beutler, who believes the bill is necessary to save fish runs on the brink of extinction.

Maru Mora, right, smiles with Murphy Mitchel before her ICE hearing on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, outside of the Immigration Court building on 2nd Avenue in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

A Seattle immigration judge has granted a continuance in the deportation case of immigration rights activist Maru Mora-Villalpando. A large crowd gathered outside of the Immigration Court building on 2nd Avenue Tuesday afternoon to stand in solidarity with Mora-Villalpando.

With the window for submitting signatures closing fast, backers of a ban on semi-automatic, military-style weapons in Oregon might finally win permission to begin petitioning voters this week.

Recycling is shown on Sunday, July 30, 2017, at the Orcas Island Transfer Station on Orcas Island. KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

With China no longer importing many recyclable materials, recycling programs up and down the West Coast are in turmoil.


Calling former Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley "as unrepentant as any defendant in memory," federal prosecutors are asking that a judge sentence him to more than seven years in federal prison when he is sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma.

A new report examines a variety of ways the Portland metropolitan area can reduce toxic air pollution.

After 10 days, the Oregon Health Authority has lifted an algae advisory for people swimming and boating in Detroit Lake.

Health officials have also made it harder to lift such advisories in the future.

A stroller was used to hold up a sign during the Solidarity Day protest outside of the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac.
Daniel Berman for KUOW

Question: “I’m a new mom to a six-month-old baby, and hearing how desperately these women missed their children, and vice versa, made me feel heartbroken and ashamed of our country,” listener Kari Blankenship wrote.  

She and other KUOW listeners have been asking what they can do to help locally detained parents. 

Federal officials anticipate a big wildfire season in the Northwest throughout July, August and possibly into September.

The latest forecasts show droughts throughout much of Oregon and Southeast Washington and the potential conditions for large fires if the region sees a week or longer stretch of hot and dry weather, according to the latest drought and climate outlook.

“If everything lines up with the dry condition and lightning, we could see an above-normal fire season across Oregon,” said Ed Delgado of the National Interagency Fire Center.

Tolling On Portland Area Highways Takes Step Forward

Jun 25, 2018

Drivers in the Portland area are one step closer to paying tolls. A volunteer committee voted Monday on recommendations for tolling two major highways.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered the Washington state courts to take a new look at the case of a florist from Richland who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding. The justices declined to hear the case themselves a few weeks after issuing a narrow ruling in a similar case involving a Colorado bakery.

Sara de la Fuente, of Vancouver, said she showed up to protest the detention of mothers separated from their children at the border because she couldn't stay at home and do nothing.
Daniel Berman for KUOW

Three women separated from their children at the U.S. border and detained in the Seattle area are suing the federal government.

Seattle-based Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) filed the lawsuit in federal court on Monday.

FILE: U.S. Supreme Court
Flickr Photo/Phil Roeder (CC BY 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/T2SxdT

The U.S. Supreme Court has announced it will not weigh in on an LGBTQ rights case regarding a Washington state florist.

Now the Arlene’s Flowers case, as it's come to be known, will go back to Washington's Supreme Court, which has already ruled that the owner broke the state’s anti-discrimination law.

This story has been updated.

Despite a two year turnaround effort, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Monday that it will strip Washington’s Western State Hospital of federal certification for failing to comply with standards.

Scene at the Jungle on Tuesday after an officer-involved shooting was reported on Tuesday early afternoon.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Brothers accused of a pair of fatal shootings in the Jungle homeless encampment as teens in early 2016 will face a trial for those charges beginning Monday morning.

The shooting spurred politicians to clear the area—long considered a magnet for drug use—of roughly 400 homeless people later that year.

Pikas are little rabbit-like mammals that could fit in the palm of your hand. They’re often seen scurrying around rocky alpine slopes with their mouths full of wildflowers.

Pikas like it cold, so, as the climate has warmed, they’ve disappeared from lower elevations where they used to live.

For years, scientists thought pikas were adapting to climate change by moving uphill. But new research indicates the news is even worse than that.

American pika in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Flickr Photo/Tony's Takes (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/WYDpFq

Pikas are little rabbit-like mammals that could fit in the palm of your hand. They’re often seen scurrying around rocky alpine slopes with their mouths full of wildflowers.

Pikas like it cold, so, as the climate has warmed, they’ve disappeared from lower elevations where they used to live.

Dusty Jo blows bubbles filled with smoke during Trans Pride Seattle on Friday, June 22, 2018, at Cal Anderson Park.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Pride weekend kicked off with Trans March Seattle on Friday night in Capitol Hill. A large crowd marched from the intersection of Broadway and Thomas Streets to Cal Anderson Park. 

Following the march, people gathered to listen to performances. 

The call is going out again to the operators and pilots of big ships to slow down in the shared border waters between Washington and British Columbia. The idea is to reduce underwater noise that could bother endangered killer whales.

Wasco County’s top prosecutor lied to investigators looking into whether he’d improperly investigated a county official, and should be suspended from practicing law for a month, a trial panel has found.

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