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As part of a series called My Big Break, All Things Considered is collecting stories of triumph, big and small. These are the moments when everything seems to click, and people leap forward into their careers.

Foss Maritime tugs pull the Polar Pioneer past downtown Seattle on the way to Terminal 5 on Thursday, May 14, 2015.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

A lawsuit challenging the Port of Seattle’s lease of a terminal as a homeport for Royal Dutch Shell’s Arctic oil-drilling fleet was rejected Friday by a King County Superior Court judge.

Oregon Energy Tax Credit Sales Under Investigation

Aug 1, 2015

The Oregon Secretary of State’s office has requested documents in an investigation of the state Department of Energy. The probe relates to tax credits for renewable energy projects.

In the West, there aren’t a lot of black woman geologists who specialize in uranium deposits and groundwater. Zelma Maine Jackson landed far from her home state of South Carolina, but drilled into life in the West.

Stouts Creek Wildfire Expands Rapidly In Southern Oregon

Jul 31, 2015

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown invoked the state's Emergency Conflagration Act Thursday evening as the Stouts Creek Wildfire encroached on homes in Southwest Oregon.

The wildfire began Thursday afternoon and reached nearly 6,000 acres by the end of the day. The fire threatened about 50 homes 11 miles east of Canyonville in Douglas County. An additional 300 homes are at risk as hot and dry conditions are expected to fuel the blaze Friday.

Families and staff at Rainier Prep sand old paint off railings in the school's adopted building at a recent work party.
KUOW Photo/Ann Dornfeld / KUOW

On a recent sunny afternoon, a work party was underway at a low-slung building just south of Seattle that will soon become Rainier Prep, a charter middle school.

School leader Maggie O’Sullivan bounced from room to room, directing traffic. As one large family planted brightly colored dahlias and lobelias beneath what would soon become the school's sign, a father who had just shown up balancing a case of bottled water on one shoulder was directed to the basement, where a potluck would begin in a couple hours.

The U.S. Postal Service has nixed a privately-funded campaign to turn a small town post office in central Washington into a major artistic attraction.

Lawsuit Challenges Eyman Anti-Tax Measure

Jul 31, 2015

Opponents of an anti-tax initiative in Washington state are filing a lawsuit to prevent the measure from appearing on the November ballot.

The Royal Dutch Shell icebreaker, Fennica, has left Portland after undergoing repairs at a local dry dock, but it wasn't an easy task.

Officials spent the afternoon removing environmental activists with Greenpeace USA who were hanging from Portland's St. Johns Bridge. Greenpeace and other activist groups oppose Shell's ongoing drilling efforts for oil in the Arctic.

Police and rescue officials spoke at a press conference after the protesters were removed.

Protesters dangling for two days from Portland's St. Johns Bridge kept a Shell Oil icebreaker at bay for more than 36 hours before it passed through en route to the Arctic.

Greenpeace and other environmental groups involved claimed their temporary blockade a success: they sent Shell a message and drew worldwide attention to their campaign to stop Arctic oil drilling and to wean the world from fossil fuels that contribute to climate change.

But what does it really mean in the context of plans for offshore drilling in the Arctic?

This photo, taken last fall, is an indicator of things to come, according to scientists. The warm blob of water off the coast has conspired with low precipitation to amplify problems in Puget Sound. The result: more jellyfish.
Courtesy of Eyes Over Puget Sound, Washington Department of Ecology

Puget Sound is going through a lot of changes. And a trend we reported on earlier this year has accelerated: Salmon are losing while jellyfish are winning.

Capitol Hill rainbow crosswalk at 10th Ave & East Pike Street.
Flickr Photo/Gordon Werner (CC BY SA 2.0)

More rainbow crosswalks are coming to the hub of the Seattle gay community on Capitol Hill. That’s just one item in the mayor’s action plan to improve safety for LGBTQ people in the city. 

Update 5:59 p.m.: The Shell icebreaker, Fennica, has cleared the St. Johns Bridge and has moved past the protestor blockade to continue on the Willamette River.

Reporter Amelia Templeton was at the scene as the ship crossed under the bridge. Protesters weighed down the nearby docks, yelling "Stop the boat!" as the Fennica moved by. Templeton said the ship appeared so close to the protestors paddling nearby that they could have reached out and touched it as it passed.

Portland Mayor On Bridge Activists: 'Protests Are Helpful'

Jul 30, 2015

For more than 24 hours, protesters with the environmental group Greenpeace have suspended from ropes below Portland's St. Johns Bridge like spiders hanging by a thread, blocking the passage of the Fennica, an icebreaker that is key to Shell's Arctic oil exploration plans.

A judge in Alaska has ruled that Greenpeace will be fined $2,500 for each hour the protesters remain in place. The U.S. Coast Guard and the Portland Police Bureau have not made any attempts to remove them.

A standoff continued Thursday on the Willamette River between environmental group protesters and a multinational energy company in Portland. Protesters suspended from the St. Johns Bridge and in kayaks on the water essentially blocked the Shell icebreaker, Fennica, from leaving for oil exploration in the Arctic.

The Fennica moved north along the river with the U.S. Coast Guard enforcing a safety zone, petty officer George Degener said.

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