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Prosecutors for King and Pierce counties announced this afternoon that all misdemeanor marijuana cases in their counties have been dropped.

With legal possession of up to an ounce of pot just around the corner, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said that dismissing these cases is the right thing to do.

Nimataradji photography / Flickr

Foes of the same-sex marriage referendum in Washington have conceded the law will pass. The group that sponsored Referendum 74 declared victory yesterday.

Kathleen Ann / Flickr

Washington joined Colorado in voting to become the first states to legalize and tax the sale of marijuana for recreational use, but people shouldn't expect to be able to buy a bag of legitimate weed any time soon.

Nor should they expect the law to go into effect with out a fight with federal law agencies, said Sam Kamin, professor of law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

“My gut feeling is that the federal government won’t currently tolerate the commercial recreational sale of marijuana, that is they will not allow it to be regulated like alcohol. That just seems a bridge too far,” he said.

Complete I-502 story.

Same-sex marriage backers say they've won

Washington United for Marriage has declared victory in the same-sex marriage referendum.

“This is a clear win,” the group's campaign manager Zach Silk said in a press release.

Gary Davis / KPLU

"I just phoned our son up in Bellingham and said, get ready for the wedding."

Washington United for Marriage has declared victory in the same-sex marriage referendum. Maine and Maryland became the first states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote last night.

“This is a clear win,” the group's campaign manager Zach Silk said in a press release.

“We have run the numbers every which way, and we can now confidently say that we have won. This is an historic day for Washington, an historic day for our country and, most of all, for families across the state who have dreamed of this day and the wedding celebrations to come.”

So far, official “Yes” votes have a slight advantage of 52 to 48 percent. Counties were expected to post additional vote results Wednesday afternoon.

However the group said in the press release:

With 60 percent of the vote counted, R74 already has the support of 65 percent of King County and is performing well in key Eastern Washington counties.  Simply put, it’s now impossible for opponents to overcome the 52-48 percent spread for R74.

Video: KPLU videographer David Kellogg captured the hopes and tensions of election night as one same-sex couple waited for elections results:

Gary Davis / KPLU

Washington voters are narrowly approving same-sex marriage in the state, following the lead of voters in Maryland and Maine, where ballot measures on same-sex unions also are holding slim leads.

With about half of the expected vote counted Tuesday night, Referendum 74 was passing with 53 percent of the vote.

The referendum asked voters to approve or reject the state's new law legalizing same-sex marriage. That law was passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire earlier this year, but it's been on hold pending the election's outcome.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Washington voters have made their state the first in the nation to legalize recreational pot use, setting up a showdown with a federal government that backs the drug's prohibition.

Update: Colorado also passed a law making possession of up to an ounce legal. That state will also allow individuals to grow six marijuana plants. Oregon's pot legalization effort failed.

The first big wave of results for elections in Washington state are expected at about 8:15 pm. Here's a countdown clock set for that time.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A Washington state congressional candidate says abortion should not be legal, even when it involves "the rape thing."

Less than two weeks to go until Election Day, and some people are still scrambling to register for the Oct. 29 in-person deadline.

Seka Ojdrovic-Phillips / KPLU

With ballots and voters’ guides in-hand, it’s time to narrow in on the issues. For those who prefer an interactive way to exchange opinions on the ballot measures, there’s the Living Voters Guide, sponsored by Seattle CityClub and the University of Washington.

Justin Steyer / KPLU

In an election year when young people, 18 to 30, are disparaged for their apparent lack of interest (and here), KPLU has begun a video project to find out what would drive a young person to vote in this election.

We’ve started gathering our videos on the Tumblr page “Give Me a Reason” and will continue to add to it this week. We also hope you (young person) will add your video to our project by submitting it on our Tumblr page.

Washington State has the highest rate of seat belt use in the nation. That’s according to a report recently released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Bob Calkins with the Washington State Patrol keeps an eye on the statistics.

“The national average is 84 percent. We are first among competing states at 97 and a half percent,” he says.

Following Washington are California, Oregon and Hawaii.

b k / Flickr

Yes, this morning's brief showers showed that in fact our fabulous summer is at an end (but there will be more sunny days to come), says KPLU's weather expert Cliff Mass.

Mass added that forecasters were blindsided by this morning's rain across the region, but they are back on track with predictions of a front moving in this afternoon. That front too will bring some rain, but the clouds will burn off probably by Saturday evening and Sunday will be sunny.

The Associated Press

The twitterverse exploded last night with different reactions to the controversial call on Monday Night Football. The final play of the game, the controversial touchdown by Golden Tate,  gave the Seahawks a 14-12 victory over the Packers.  

Here is a mixed collection of tweets from people around the Seattle area regarding last night's win.

Evan Hoover / KPLU

The Seattle Police Department is launching a new advertising campaign on buses and billboards in hopes of generating tips about unsolved killings.

Today’s going to be hot again, but it's already cooler than expected this morning, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“We had some marine air that pushed up the coast, clouds have inundated the coastal areas. So if you're on the coast it's going to be cooler," he says. "And here in the interior we're starting cooler: five to ten degrees in some places. But the trouble is this cool marine air is very thin."

He says that cool marine layer will burn off fast, yielding to hot temps aloft. So today he expects highs of high 80s to 90 closer to the coast. And away from the water, perhaps the low 90s.

"So one more warm day. Then tomorrow a step down. Today's the hottest day."

There's a chance of thunderstorms Saturday afternoon, which could have a big impact on the wildfires in Cle Elum and Thorp. The danger is the chance of lighting without rain.

Erin Hennessey

Bouquets of flowers, cards and special messages written on large, white sheets of  paper are growing outside the KOMO television studios in Seattle in memory of longtime anchorwoman Kathi Goertzen. She died yesterday after a lengthy battle with a recurrent brain tumor. She documented her illness and treatments in appearances on KOMO and launched a foundation dedicated to brain tumor research.

NASA

PASADENA, Calif. — The mysterious Mars photo has been solved.

A NASA engineer said Friday he's pretty sure a Curiosity rover camera caught the rocket stage crashing in the distance after it landed in Gale Crater Sunday night.

The Associated Press

Today’s going to be a great summer day, especially as some low clouds burn off later – but that’s not the best part of the forecast, says KPLU weather expert Cliff Mass.

“Today is the worst day of the weekend, believe it or not. And temperatures are going to get up into the mid- to upper-70s even near 80 in a couple places. So, it’s just an absolute wonderful day. But it’s going to get even better,” he says.

The skies will stay clear and temperatures will warm as we get into the weekend, with many places away from the water seeing 80-plus degrees. 

Center for Whale Research

BREMERTON, Wash. — A newborn orca calf has been reported off the west side of San Juan Island in the Puget Sound.

The Center for Whale Research reports the new calf was first spotted midday Monday among the adults of J pod, one of three killer whale pods that frequent Puget Sound.

ripporch / Flickr

Don't let yesterday's warmer temps fake you out, says KPLU's weather expert Cliff Mass. Fact is, we're stuck in a pattern of cloudy mornings and cool days deep into next week with possibly some rain arriving on Thursday.

The cause? "We have this persistent troughing along the West Coast, and associated with that is ridging over the middle of the country, " Mass said. "So, they’re getting this enhanced drought, and we’re getting the enhanced low clouds. We’re colder than normal, they're warmer than normal."

ryanobjc / Flickr

"This is the summer of thunderstorms," says Cliff Mass, KPLU weather expert and meteorologist at the University of Washington.

An unusual pattern of low pressure keeps recurring over the western U.S., bringing the rain and lightning. Temperatures are about ten degrees below normal for this part of July--which is typically the sunniest part of the year in the Puget Sound area.

East of the mountains, there have been two flash floods, as of this morning.

Thomas Hawk / Flickr

Claiming town cars are breaking the rules, Seattle taxi drivers are threatening to stop taking passengers to Sea-Tac Airport.

Mark Henckel / Flickr

Mostly, we’re thinking of your mental health a couple months from now.

You come here in July and August and it’s glorious: There’s two snow-capped mountain ranges, a couple of towering volcanos, lively outdoor markets, flowers and greenery, an expanse of blue water every which way you turn ... miles of lake, Sound and ocean beaches ...

Then come the other 10 months.

Cliff Mass / KPLU

The smoky skies over Seattle are likely from Asia and not Western fires, says Cliff Mass, KPLU weather forecaster and University of Washington professor.

In his blog post on the smoke, he said the air over us can be traced back to Asia at low levels.

Lindsay Lowe / KPLU

The level of intensity around the proposal to build a new NBA arena in Seattle is growing by the minute.

The group of investors – which we learned yesterday includes Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and the Nordstrom family – drew hundreds to a "bring back our Sonics" rally in Pioneer Square today. It was a well-timed event to put pressure on the Seattle City Council and King County Council to back the deal.

“This is a very carefully orchestrated PR campaign," says KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel. "At the same time, the old Sonics – the Thunder – are in the NBA Finals this week. The angst could not be more intense in Seattle among sports fans who care about this because their 41-year passion is being thrown back in their face, mocked by the Thunder’s presence in the league’s championship series.”

The Associated Press

The only survivor of a shooting at a Seattle cafe where four other people were killed is expected to recover.

Harborview Medical Center reports Leonard Meuse has been upgraded from critical to serious condition. Spokeswoman Susan Gregg says he remains in the intensive care unit Thursday.

The two morning shootings in Seattle – leaving four dead and one wounded from the Cafe Racer Espresso on Roosevelt Way near the U-District and one dead on First Hill during a carjacking – were apparently committed by the same suspect, said Seattle Police Department Assistant Chief James Pugel.

The suspect shot himself in West Seattle later in the afternoon as police approached him, Pugel said. He was taken to Harborview Medical Center. The hospital reported Wednesday night that he was dead. A fourth victim at the Cafe Racer shooting also died Wednesday night, according to Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Greg.

One man wounded in the cafe shooting remained at Harborview. He was in critical but stable condition following surgery earlier in the day

Evan Hoover / KPLU

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn evoked his emergency powers – during a day of violent protests and six arrests – ordering police to confiscate items from May Day protesters and revelers alike that could be used to damage property.

Some protesters dressed all in black used 3-inch thick sticks, which were disguised as flag poles, and tire irons to break windows in Seattle during rolling protests and marches that paralyzed downtown.

"The police officers will be approaching individuals who’ll be carrying items known to be weapons, confront them and ask them to peacefully give them up.  And if not peacefully given up, they will be confiscated," McGinn said at an afternoon press conference.

Around 4:30 p.m. officers arrested a handful of protesters after one policeman took a pole from a protester at First Avenue and Pike Street. That protester attempted to take the pole back and several others came to his aid, but officers made the arrests and pushed the others back. Both sides then faced off again in the street at the Pike Place Market until the demonstrators migrated back to Westlake Center.

(Photo gallery and videos after jump.)

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