Tom Banse

Regional Correspondent

Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

Before taking his current beat, Tom covered state government and the Washington Legislature for 12 years.  He got his start in radio at WCAL–FM, a public station in southern Minnesota. Reared in Seattle, Tom graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota with a degree in American Studies.

When not sifting through press releases, listening to lobbyists, or driving lonely highways, Tom enjoys exploring the Olympic Peninsula backcountry and cooking dinner with his wife and friends. Tom's secret ambition is to take six months off work and travel to a faraway place beyond the reach of email.

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How do you dispose of an old totem pole? Fortunately, this is not a problem we regularly face. But a tall totem gifted by Seattle to its sister city in Japan renewed this question.

Who caught the last fish you bought for dinner? If it came from Pacific Northwest waters, the fisherman was very likely a man. Commercial fishing remains a male-dominated profession in the Northwest.

But research by Oregon State University and a federal agency shows evolution in women's roles in the industry.

The report cards are in and it's not pretty if you worry about how you'll fare after a magnitude 9 Cascadia megaquake and tsunami. Washington and Oregon's emergency management divisions have now published after-action reviews of last June's multi-state disaster drill called Cascadia Rising .

An Oregon agency is proposing two new earthquake proof buildings near the state Capitol in Salem to ensure government continuity after a Magnitude 9 offshore mega quake. The state buildings would have solar power and backup generators, independent water and sewage systems, and shock absorbers under the foundation.

The Federal Aviation Administration says reports of unsafe flying by civilian drones "have increased dramatically" over the past two years.

A husband and wife from Port Townsend, Washington, are on their way home after being expelled from Guatemala. The Washingtonians and several other international activists narrowly avoided arrest during a maritime abortion rights protest.

When Mother Nature throws travelers a curve ball and freezing fog descends over the airport in Medford, Oregon, it can delay takeoffs and landings. But ground crews there and at several other Western airports have an unusual tool at their disposal to bust the fog.

The grand opening of the newest Trump International Hotel and Tower is set for Tuesday in Vancouver, British Columbia. President Donald Trump's eldest sons, Eric and Donald Jr., are the headliners for the official ribbon cutting and opening gala.

Shipwrecks along the Pacific Northwest coast number in the thousands. A handful have become the long-running obsessions of a cadre of shipwreck buffs.

A suburban Portland fire district has a valentine for potential heart attack victims. And if it makes hearts un-flutter, you could see the messages shared more widely across the region and country in coming years via a lifesaving smartphone app.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared Thursday that a weak and short-lived La Niña weather phenomenon is over.

The chief executives of Alaska Airlines, Southwest and Delta Air Lines had positive reactions after a White House meeting with President Donald Trump Thursday morning.

Alaska Air Group stock hit a new all-time high in trading Wednesday after a solid earnings report and dividend increase. The parent company of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air flew 13 percent more passengers in the final quarter of 2016 compared to the same period a year ago.

The red-blue divide on immigration is on prominent display in the Northwest Monday. The state attorneys general of Washington state and Oregon are denouncing the Trump administration for its order limiting travel from seven majority-Muslim countries.

Meanwhile, Idaho legislators took the first step to require local police to assist the federal government on immigration enforcement.

A dispute between regional airline Horizon Air and its pilots union is headed to court. It stems from how the sister carrier of Alaska Airlines grapples with an industrywide shortage of pilots.

A 32-year career at Boeing comes to a close in April for engineer Dave Baine of suburban Seattle. Baine was already prepared to retire when Boeing sealed the deal by making him a buyout offer last week.

"It's better than a gold watch," he says. The deal is six months' pay in a lump sum and extended health insurance.

"It'll help the younger folks that want to stick around and help some of the older folks exit quickly and quietly," he says.

This Friday's Presidential Inauguration festivities in Washington, DC, are drawing Donald Trump fans and foes alike from the Pacific Northwest. Large contingents from the area will be on the National Mall Friday and again on Saturday.

The Boeing Company's CEO Tuesday had a second face-to-face meeting with President-elect Donald Trump to talk jet prices. Boeing's Dennis Muilenburg said they discussed a multi-billion dollar contract to replace the aging Air Force One jumbo jets and about new fighter jets for the military.

Washington state is playing catch-up compared to other West Coast states on earthquake preparedness. A "subcabinet" of state agency directors convened by Gov. Jay Inslee will hold its first public meeting Tuesday afternoon to review possible actions to improve.

A bipartisan group of Washington state politicians Monday endorsed the abolishment of the death penalty. The group included the current Democratic Attorney General Bob Ferguson and his Republican predecessor Rob McKenna.

The pair were flanked at a capitol news conference by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee and a half-dozen senators and representatives from both parties.

The Consumer Technology Association estimates about 1.2 million drones were sold during the just-completed holiday shopping season. Now one state lawmaker from western Washington wants to give you the legal right to tell a drone operator to buzz off.

Alaska Airlines launches a daily flight Thursday morning from the West Coast to Havana. The new service comes as the Obama administration's opening to Cuba gives way to an uncertain future.

Uber and Lyft are gradually expanding their coverage in the Pacific Northwest beyond the major metro areas. Uber launched its smartphone ride-booking service in Kennewick and Yakima, Washington, last week and similar-sized Oregon cities may get their shot in 2017.

Damian Dovarganes / AP Photo

After the results of the November election, more than half of U.S. states have now authorized medical marijuana. And eight of those states also allow recreational marijuana. So if pot helps some humans feel better, how about people's best friends?

Northwest veterinarians are being asked about treating pets with cannabis and that puts these vets in a difficult spot legally.

Alaska Airlines

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines has closed the deal to take over West Coast rival Virgin America. Airline executives, workers and journalists are flying down to San Francisco Wednesday morning on a specially-painted plane for an announcement and rally at Virgin America's main hub. Alaska Airlines had kept the celebratory Boeing 737 under wraps at considerable expense for months. That, while its $2.6 billion takeover languished under extended government antitrust review.

Long Beach, Washington, has an earthquake and tsunami preparedness problem shared with some other low-lying coastal Northwest places such as Seaside, Oregon, and Ocean Shores, Washington. Many townspeople and visitors likely couldn’t reach high ground in time to escape a tsunami.

Researchers at Washington State University in Spokane have analyzed well over 100 police deadly force encounters captured on dash cam video or observed in a simulator. That academic research has now turned in a “counter bias” training program.

A survivor of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor who now lives in Lincoln City, Oregon, has vivid memories of the surprise strike on the Pacific Fleet that pushed the U.S. into World War II. Ed Johann, then a 17-year-old apprentice seaman, was crewing a hospital ship's water taxi when the first fighter bombers came over the horizon.

As museums and historians polish exhibits and remembrance programs for the 75th anniversary on Wednesday, Johann recalled the attack that killed more than 2,300 U.S. servicemen.

Home prices in the Seattle and Portland metro areas are rising faster than anywhere else in the country right now -- about twice as fast as the national average.

Many Oregon motels are sold out and reservable campsites are going fast for an event that doesn't happen until the second half of next year. If you don't want to miss a total solar eclipse, mark August 21, 2017 on your calendar.

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