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One of the fundamental ways scientists measure the well-being of a nation is tracking the rate at which its citizens die and how long they can be expected to live.

So the news out of the federal government Thursday is disturbing: The overall U.S. death rate has increased for the first time in a decade, according to an analysis of the latest data. And that led to a drop in overall life expectancy for the first time since 1993, particularly among people younger than 65.

The Portland City Council voted Wednesday to raise the business tax on companies that pay their CEOs more than 100 times what their average worker makes.

Portland Commissioner Steve Novick crafted the measure. He believes it is the first tax in the United States directly targeting income inequality.

"This explosion of inequality that we've seen in the past 50 years is not something that has to happen. It's something that's been allowed to happen," he said.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller says reporters should stop holding him to the same standards as a news organization when he posts fabricated news stories on his Facebook page.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council Chairman Dave Archambault said Wednesday that any Dakota Access oil pipeline route that stays off treaty lands would be acceptable.

But the uproar and weeks of protest surrounding the pipeline's route goes beyond that one project, he said: "If, for the first time, this nation can listen and hear us, they'll understand that this is about climate change."

Emergency management experts are meeting on the Oregon coast this week to discuss tsunami preparedness.

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management’s tsunami conference is bringing together a wide variety of experts to talk about how to mitigate the effects of a tsunami that would strike the coast after a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.

That quake is expected to be at least magnitude 8.0 and could hit at any time. The resulting tsunami could bring 30- to 50-foot waves.

Emergency management experts are meeting on the Oregon coast this week to discuss tsunami preparedness.

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management’s tsunami conference is bringing together a wide variety of experts to talk about how to mitigate the effects of a tsunami that would strike the coast after a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.

That quake is expected to be at least magnitude 8.0 and could hit at any time. The resulting tsunami could bring 30- to 50-foot waves.

An unusually strong winter storm is expected to affect much of Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

Portland’s Fire Bureau is asking the public for help to prevent a fire like the one that killed 36 people at an artist warehouse space called "the Ghost Ship" in Oakland this past weekend.

Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman said there are similarities between Portland and Oakland when it comes to the underlying issues of housing affordability and a lack of creative spaces.

Saltzman, who leads Portland’s Fire Bureau, is asking people to report any unsafe properties or unpermitted events by contacting the city’s code complaints line.

Fake news played a bigger role in this past presidential election than ever seen before. And sometimes it has had serious repercussions for real people and businesses.

That's what happened to a pizzeria in Washington, D.C., recently, when an armed man claiming to be "self-investigating" a fake news story entered the restaurant and fired off several rounds.

President-elect Donald Trump's phone call with the president of Taiwan last week, initially characterized by Trump transition staffers and Taipei officials as just a small courtesy, has emerged as part of a lobbying strategy by a quintessential Washington insider.

Former Sen. Bob Dole, a war hero, lion of the Senate and 1996 Republican nominee for president, was an early supporter of Donald Trump, even when other Republican leaders were still wary.

Smoke hung in the air for days in Oakland's largely Latino Fruitvale district after a deadly fire broke out late Friday night in an artists' warehouse, leaving 36 people dead.

Like so much of the city, it's a neighborhood facing ripples of gentrification created by the tech boom in the Bay Area, which now has some of the highest rents in the country.

The slew of obituaries that have been published since Olympic diver Sammy Lee's death on Friday rightly highlight his conquest over racism and indignity on the way to winning gold medals in London and Helsinki nearly 70 years ago. As Greg Louganis, Lee's most famous protege, reflected in the Los Angeles Times, "At a time of intolerance, being Korean, he broke down racial barriers, setting an example of what it meant to be an Olympian."

Chef Landon Schoenefeld is a major name in the Twin Cities food world.

So when he told Dara Moskowitz Grumdhal of Minneapolis-Saint Paul magazine that he was leaving his restaurants Nighthawks and Birdie, it was news.

It wasn't so much that he was leaving, but the reason for doing so: depression — so severe that at times it's driven him to the brink of suicide.

We sat down with Schoenefeld at Nighthawks in Minneapolis earlier this week before it opened for lunch.

At 10 a.m., he'd already been on the job for a couple of hours already and he had 11 more to go.

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<a href="http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=89203&amp;eocn=image&amp;eoci=moreiotd">NASA.gov</a>

"A sincere search for areas of common ground.” That’s what Al Gore called his surprise meeting this week with President-elect Donald Trump. 

Gore, of course, is one of the leading voices for aggressive action to fight the climate crisis, while Trump has famously called climate change a hoax.

Castle Peak is so hidden from view that you can’t see it from any highway.

But it just might be the most important mountain in Idaho. Castle Peak and the surrounding Boulder-White Cloud Mountains have stirred up fights over mining, recreation and conservation — fights that have changed the course of political careers, including that of a self-described "Democratic lumberjack from North Idaho" named Cecil Andrus who became governor after taking a stand over the future of this rugged, mineral-rich wilderness.

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