Liam Moriarty

Reporter for Jefferson Public Radio

The dozens of fires burning in the Northwest this summer forced thousands of people from their homes and cast clouds of heavy smoke that kept residents inside and ruined untold numbers of vacations. That’s led to some vigorous finger-pointing on editorial pages, talk radio and social media. JPR asked some forest experts for a reality check.

The wildfires burning in much of Oregon this summer have blanketed the state with unhealthy levels of smoke. This has led a growing number of outdoor events to cancel during the height of the summer tourist season. At a time when many rural Oregon communities are already struggling, the economic impact could really hurt.

The persistent haze of smoke from the wildfires burning around the Northwest has led many people to wear face masks to protect their lungs. But health officials say many of those masks aren’t doing what the wearers think they are.

Everybody needs care at some point in their lives. If not as elders, or when injured or sick, then certainly as children. But a study of what it calls the “care economy” in Oregon says the state is failing to invest in the social infrastructure needed to make high quality care available to everyone who needs it, at whatever stage of life.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wrapped up his weekend tour of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southern Oregon on Sunday.

Among others, he met with a pro-monument group of conservationists, landowners and local elected officials, and with Oregon governor Kate Brown.

Over the past century, fossil-fuel powered automobiles have become the default transportation mode across the industrialized world, impacting everything from patterns of land use to foreign policy.

And while the dominance of cars has certainly had beneficial effects, it’s also taken a heavy toll in pollution, resource consumption and a range of social and public health ills.

A recent report from the University of California Davis envisions a future in which how we get around each day becomes cleaner, faster, greener .. and cheaper by combining three emerging technologies.

About 200 people gathered in Ashland on Saturday night to celebrate the life of a hometown boy who died trying to protect a pair of women from anti-Muslim abuse in Portland.

America’s energy future is often cast as a battle that pits fossil fuels such as coal and gas against wind, solar and other renewable energy sources. But in the Pacific Northwest, we've already slashed greenhouse gas emissions -- and saved big bucks -- with a clean energy source that often doesn't even get mentioned in policy debates.

The federal government has fined more than 750 hospitals across the country for scoring in the bottom 25 percent on measures of patient safety. Hospital-acquired infections, blood clots, falls and bedsores are among the avoidable injuries to patients included in the annual ranking by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The program is meant to prod hospitals to improve patient safety. But hospital officials say the rating system doesn’t paint an accurate picture of patient care.

Progress has been made in recent years in decreasing homelessness, especially among veterans. But the spiraling cost of housing still leaves many people with few affordable options.

Now, inspired by the success of similar projects in the Pacific Northwest, a group in Medford is  building a tiny-house village that offers hope of breaking the cycle of poverty and homelessness. 

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