News From Around the Northwest

The Portland City Council voted unanimously to file a lawsuit against agrochemical giant Monsanto.

Portland plans to join six other West Coast cities — Seattle, Spokane, Berkley, Oakland, San Diego and San Jose — that have sued the company over toxic pollutants it produced.

Monsanto was the only company in the US that made Polychlorinated biphenals, or PCBs. The chemicals were once used as coolant fluids. Federal regulators banned PCBs in 1979. But the chemicals linger in the environment.

Oracle can’t hide documents giving an unprecedented glimpse into what the massive software company really thought about the Cover Oregon website debacle, a Marion County judge has ruled.

Some of the emails the firm had attempted to keep secret don’t look great for Oracle and its years of labor on Oregon’s failed technology project, according to copies reviewed by the Portland Tribune.

Government agencies announced Wednesday that the health risk around Portland glass manufacturers is low.

The DEQ said Wednesday that it took 67 soil samples from the area around Bullseye Glass in southeast Portland. Samples were taken from a Fred Meyer parking lot, a day care center and Powell Park.

The samples were tested for arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and several other elements.

They found that most heavy metals were at background levels. But there were a few samples that showed elevated levels.

Oregon hospitals outperformed the national average in preventing health care-acquired infections, one of the 10 leading causes of death in the Unites States. That's according to a recent progress report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The gavel had barely dropped on the contentious and short 2016 legislative session, but leading state lawmakers already were turning their ­attention to Oregon’s next big political fight.

Initiative Petition 28, a proposed corporate tax increase that would raise $2.6 billion a year, boosting state government revenues by nearly 30 percent, appears increasingly likely to go to ­Oregon voters this November.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed Thursday it’s investigating the treatment of research monkeys at Oregon Health And Science University.

The feds wouldn’t outline the reason for the investigation.

But over the last two years, OHSU’s Oregon National Primate Research Center has been warned about monkeys being burned by heating pads; one that died under respiratory distress; and 27 that either died in fights or were seriously injured.

Imagine you’re the mother of an infant. And you pump breast milk every day to nourish your newborn. Then you discover that, despite your effort, your baby has actually been given someone else’s milk. That’s what happened to inmates at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville. That’s Oregon’s only prison for women. The Oregonian’s Laura Gunderson uncovered this story and joined All Things Considered host Kate Davidson to talk about the mix-up. To hear their full conversation, click play in the audio player above.

Q&A with The Oregonian's Laura Gunderson

The U.S. Supreme Court told the state of Vermont on Tuesday it can’t force health insurers to hand over data on the amounts they pay for various medical claims.

The ruling means large self-insured companies like Intel, don’t have to give the state their data. In Oregon, about 23% of the population get their insurance through such companies — that’s the combined populations of the cities of Portland, Salem and Eugene.

A second glass-making company in Portland has voluntarily suspended its use of cadmium in response to tests showing elevated levels of the metal in nearby moss.

Uroboros Glass in North Portland announced Thursday it would stop making red, yellow and orange glass colors because they rely on the use of cadmium, a heavy metal that can raise the risk of lung cancer at elevated levels of exposure.

Oregon health officials are warning of unhealthy levels of heavy metals in Southeast Portland's air. They found high levels of cadmium and arsenic at a monitoring station near SE Powell Boulevard and SE 22nd Avenue.

David Monro with the state Department of Environmental Quality said his agency has been studying the correlation between metals in the air and metals found in moss.

Sen. Ron Wyden wants to shake up the way we pay for prescription drugs.

He’s issued an open letter asking what new tools the nation needs to address the problem.

Last month the Senate Finance Committee released a study into drug manufacturer Gilead. It showed the company didn’t consider affordability when setting the price of a new Hepatitis C medication at $1,000 a pill.

Wyden, D-Oregon, said the company hardly mentions, in a 20,000-page report, the usual reasons for high prices: research and development.

To increase its presence in Hillsboro, and to consolidate all its redundant Portland metro area facilities, Kaiser Permanente Northwest has opened its Tanasbourne Regional Contact Center in North Hillsboro.

Kaiser’s newest 400-employee facility will house all of the region’s appointing and advice nurse services, as well as a physician-led virtual care team.

The opening of the contact center bolsters Kaiser’s Hillsboro services by combining efforts with the Westside Medical Center and the Hillsboro Medical Office.

These days, you can find a strain of good ol’ ganja for practically every ailment and illness, but new OSU research is finding it may have other uses, too.

Scientists involved in the new research trials have discovered certain tinctures that can help people see God when they wake up each morning. Yes, it’s true. Your body, on an alarm clock-like schedule, can wake itself up and envision a higher power walking through white, puffy clouds. It’s not just your girlfriend hitting your vaporizer again.

As the season of giving comes to a close, one of the area’s dominant charities — United Way of the Columbia-Willamette — is making do without its dominant donor — Intel and its thousands of local employees and retirees.

In September, Intel notified the local United Way it was terminating its fall workplace-giving campaign, says Keith Thomajan, the local United Way president and CEO.

Officials with the Oregon Department of Forestry knew Applebee Aviation had lost its pesticide license before they let the company spray weed killer over 800 acres of state and private land.

This failure to stop a pesticide sprayer after suspending its license is the latest example of Oregon’s inability to prevent problematic forest pesticide applications. The state agencies that regulate the practice have been under increased scrutiny from media, environmentalists and lawmakers over the past two years after a string of complaints about exposure from aerial pesticide spraying.

A Portland non-profit has unveiled plans to build a new integrated health clinic and low-income apartment complex.

Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare is spending $14 million on an apartment complex for veterans, people with mental disabilities and low-income families.

CEO Derald Walker says it’s also spending $9 million on a new integrated clinic.  

The state of Oregon is trying to reduce the amount of opioids doctors prescribe to help cut down on the state's high rate of addiction and overdose. But some chronic pain patients say they're having trouble getting the medication they need just to get on with daily life.

"Chuck," whose real name OPB is withholding at his request, told Think Out Loud that he's jumped through hoops and has tried many alternatives to opioids. He says he's afraid that if he uses his real name, his business will suffer and it will make dealing with the medical system even more difficult.

Government — Oregon Life United says it has more than the 1,000 required signatures to obtain a ballot title for the initiative, first hurdle in the process

SALEM — An initiative to ban state funding of abortions has passed the first hurdle toward a place on the 2016 ballot.

Chief sponsor Jeff Jimerson of Corvallis announced Friday that his group, Oregon Life United, had gathered the 1,000 signatures needed to obtain a ballot title for the initiative.

Pharmacists are scheduled to start prescribing birth control directly to women in Oregon next month. The details are still being worked out.

Instead of getting a prescription from a doctor, women will be able to go directly to a pharmacist for their birth control.

Advocates say it gives Oregonians the easiest access to the birth control in the nation.

Fiona Karbowicz with the Oregon State Board of Pharmacy said women will still have to answer a 20-question risk assessment.

City of Portland employees can now get six weeks’ paid parental leave when a new child joins their family, under a new policy adopted Wednesday by the City Council.

Mothers and fathers can take advantage of the paid leave after the birth of a baby, an adoption or taking on a foster child.