Jessica Robinson

Regional Correspondent

An Idaho woman who was prosecuted on felony charges for ending a pregnancy is now challenging state anti-abortion laws in federal court. It's the first constitutional challenge to a so-called "fetal pain" law that several states passed recently.

Police in Pocatello, Idaho, said Jennie McCormack ordered medication online to terminate her pregnancy at around 20 weeks. Under a 1972 state law, however, it's illegal to have an abortion unless it's performed by a doctor.

More details are coming out about the north Idaho man accused of killing a grizzly bear on his property. That's spurring Idaho politicians to take aim at the federal government and the environmental regulations the man is accused of violating.

Wildlife experts say bear attacks are rising – but then, so is the number of people in bear country. Yellowstone National Park officials confirmed that a grizzly bear killed a hiker from Michigan. That's the second grizzly-caused death in the park this summer.

According to the Montana-based Center for Wildlife Information, run-ins with grizzly and black bears have increased in the last 20 years in North America. To some degree, that's expected. Bear populations have dramatically increased, and more people live and recreate in bear habitat now.

Prosecutors in a federal hate crime case in Spokane are asking prospective jurors if they have ties to racist and militia groups. The man accused of planting a backpack bomb along Spokane's Martin Luther King Day parade route in January has been linked to white supremacists.

Kevin Harpham's name shows up in connection with more than 1,000 posts made to a Neo-Nazi web forum. And the Southern Poverty Law Center says he was once a member of the racist group, the National Alliance.

Idaho politicians are questioning the federal government's decision to press charges against a man for killing a grizzly bear near his house. Governor Butch Otter sent a letter to the Department of the Interior asking Secretary Ken Salazar to look into the north Idaho case. Senator Mike Crapo is also pushing for answers from the Interior Department.

Thirty-three-year-old Jeremy Hill faces up to a year in prison and a $50,000 fine for killing a grizzly bear. The grizzly is a threatened species.

The Environmental Protection Agency says hazardous contaminants that most schools have gotten rid of remain in more than 160 government-operated tribal schools. That includes six in the Northwest. A new settlement aims to bring schools in Native American communities up to standards.

EPA inspections of tribal schools between 2005 and 2008 found violations of seven environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Toxic Substances Control Act.

The case of the "Bad Hair Bandit" raises questions some prison experts say haven't been fully addressed in the correctional system. Police believe a woman from north Idaho is the wigged robber who stole money from banks in Tacoma, Spokane, Lake Oswego and other cities on the West Coast.

Towns across the Northwest have been struggling with what police say is a resurgence of gang activity. Gang tensions are running especially high this week in Wenatchee, Wash. The town’s small police force is racing to solve an arson-homicide that killed two children.

Courtesy of Imperial Oil

Another oil company is eying the Inland Northwest as a potential corridor for oversized shipments to the Canadian oil sands. That's despite prolonged legal wrangling that has delayed the other so-called "megaloads."

Courtesy of Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board

This year's prolonged wet weather is having the side effect of re-invigorating a noxious weed. The Northwest is seeing a comeback of tansy ragwort, a toxic species of sunflower that farmers thought they had vanquished years ago.

courtesy of IntelCenter

The Obama administration has officially designated the man linked with the capture of a Northwest soldier as a terrorist. Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho, is the only U.S. soldier in Taliban captivity.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

This series looks at how the Catholic church and its victims move forward from the legacy of abuse.

The young men who are now old enough to consider entering the seminary grew up in an era of crisis in the Catholic church. Clergy sex abuse cases cast a shadow over the priesthood. Yet the church is adding priests who will inherit that legacy.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

This series takes a look at how the Catholic Church and its victims move forward from the legacy of abuse.

Checks will soon be going out in the mail to some 500 victims of clergy sex abuse across the Northwest. They're part of a major settlement with an order of Jesuits based in Portland. Most of the victims are from reservations and native communities from Montana to Alaska.

David Zalubowski / Associated Press

Mortgage rates fell to near-record lows this week: The nationwide average for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is 4.3% according to Freddie Mac. Rates that low are proving to be catnip to consumers in an otherwise dismal week.

Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife

The recent ups and downs of wolf de-listing have split environmentalists over strategy. This week, a handful of conservation groups filed an appeal in San Francisco to return wolves to the endangered species list. But other groups feel the battle won't be won in the courts.

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