Out of 193 countries in the United Nations, only a small handful do not have a national paid parental leave law: New Guinea, Suriname, a few South Pacific island nations and the United States.

In the U.S., that means a lot moms and dads go back to work much sooner after the birth of a baby than they would like because they can't afford unpaid time off.

Jody Heymann, founding director of the World Policy Analysis Center at UCLA, says the global landscape for paid parental leave looks bright, but the U.S. is far behind.

Bill Radke speaks with Kyle Murphy and Ellicott Dandy about Initiative 732, which will appear on the November ballot. The initiative would introduce a carbon tax with the goal of reducing carbon emissions.

Murphy is with the Yes on 732 campaign and he wants you to vote for the initiative. Dandy is the economic and environmental justice manager for progressive group OneAmerica, she wants you to vote no. 

When the Labor Department announces the September job-creation numbers on Friday, presidential candidates will pounce, hoping to find data to support their talking points on the economy.

For the last three months, the numbers have been favoring the incumbent Democratic Party. Candidate Hillary Clinton could point to a steady, low unemployment rate of 4.9 percent and average growth of 232,000 jobs per month, a robust pace.

Social Security alone consumes nearly a quarter of the federal budget.

At this week's vice presidential debate, Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence spoke about how the administrations they hope to join would deal with the challenges facing safety net programs like it.

Social Security

The Challenge

Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington's 5th Congressional District debated her Democratic challenger Joe Pakootas at Washington State University Wednesday night.

Bill Radke sits down with Sunlight Foundation staff writer Libby Watson to discuss the debate between vice presidential candidates Tim Kaine and Mike Pence Tuesday night. Watson explains that neither candidate really wanted to educate viewers on what they would actually do for the country, and the media was focused on spectacle over substance. 

A new proposed ballot initiative in Spokane, Washington, could prohibit coal and oil companies from transporting their products through the city by rail. It comes after the city council rolled back a similar effort last month.

This time around, the proposal targets the owners of the rail cars and not the railroad companies tasked with transporting them.

The U.S. and the Philippines are long-standing allies, but you would never know it from the way President Rodrigo Duterte is talking these days.

Since his election in June, Duterte has been unleashing anti-American rhetoric, which has included demands that the U.S. withdraw special operations forces helping to fight Islamists in the southern Philippines. He has also threatened to cancel joint naval patrols and warns this will be the last year the two countries will hold joint military exercises, saying they haven't benefited the Philippines.

The U.S. government has charged a federal contractor with the theft of government property and removal of classified materials, including multiple top secret documents that would pose a threat to U.S. security if disclosed, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

The government produced the documents through "sensitive sources, methods and capabilities," and revealing the documents would expose those methods, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Gov. Kate Brown's Natural Resource Policy Director Richard Whitman will be stepping in as the next interim director of the troubled Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint Whitman as a replacement for interim director Pete Shepherd, who was appointed by the commission in April. Whitman will assume the position Oct. 15 and stay in the role until a permanent director is hired.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown discussed a potential new Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River during a phone call this week. Inslee mentioned his conversation with Governor Brown during an interview with the editorial board of the Columbian newspaper in Vancouver.

SPU reports that residents are confusing bags made out of recycled materials with bags that can be used for composting.
Courtesy of Seattle Public Utilities

Seattle will be the first city in the nation to take a citywide plastic bag ban to another level, and ban any plastic produce bags in the colors green or brown.  Seattle leaders want to help people who are composting wrong to finally get it right.

People have been throwing plastic produce bags in their compost, since they resemble the green/brown biodegradable bags meant for compost bins. Plastic bags jam up the city's composting machines, which are costly for the city to fix.

To prevent the problem, the City Council has unanimously approved a plan that requires grocery stores to limit what bags they give away. For produce, stores can either offer clear plastic bags, or green or brown compostable ones. The purpose is to tell shoppers: green and brown are compostable, other colors are not.

The city council measure alo makes the five-cent fee for paper bags permanent.

KUOW's Paige Browning asked shoppers on Capitol Hill: should Seattle offer compostable produce bags? Listen to what Seattle residents Sandra Wagner, Fatima Malik, Kevin Mason, and Anthony Hall had to say about it:

Venture Capitalist Nick Hanauer, in his downtown Seattle office.
KUOW Photo/Deborah Wang

Millionaire Nick Hanauer is not down with how Donald Trump is skirting his taxes.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is on the air with his first TV ad of the general election. His Republican challenger Bill Bryant hopes to hit the airwaves soon -- but money is an issue.

The Colombian government and the FARC rebel group have spent four years negotiating a peace deal to bring an end to more than 50 years of war.

Terms were agreed on, a deal was finalized, the accord was signed — and then, in a stunning turn of events, the people of Colombia voted against the agreement in a national referendum Sunday.

So. What now?