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This Hour: Latest Washington news, sports, business and entertainment

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At mudslide scene, Obama mourns with survivors

((Eds: Updates with Obama remarks))

OSO, Wash. (AP) - President Barack Obama is pledging a nation's solidarity with those who are enduring what he called "unimaginable pain and difficulty" in the aftermath of last month's deadly mudslide in Oso (OH'-soh), Wash.

Obama met with residents and first responders Tuesday, promising, "We're going to be strong right alongside you."

A wall of mud and water swept away a hillside on March 22 and took with it at least 41 lives and dozens of homes. Two people are still listed as missing.

Obama surveyed the scene by helicopter then met with families of victims gathered at a community chapel. He met separately with emergency responders before speaking in a small brick firehouse.

Tuesday's stop in Washington state came as Obama headed for Tokyo, the first stop on a four-country visit to the Asia-Pacific region.


Snohomish County to get $7.6M from FEMA

SEATTLE (AP) - Members of Washington's congressional delegation say the Federal Emergency Management Agency will give Snohomish County nearly $7.6 million as the first payment in a grant program that reimburses local governments for spending on recovery after federally declared disasters.

The payment from FEMA's Public Assistance Grant Program was announced Tuesday as President Obama toured the site of the March 22 Oso mudslide. Forty-one victims have been identified and two people are still missing.

U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and U.S. Reps. Suzan DelBene and Rick Larsen say the money represents a 75 percent reimbursement for costs Snohomish County submitted to the federal government 30 days into the recovery effort.

County Executive John Lovick says he's "truly appreciative of this first installment of public assistance as we continue the important work ahead of us."


County council readies construction moratorium

EVERETT, Wash. (AP) - The Snohomish County Council has drafted an emergency, six-month moratorium to ban new housing construction within a half-mile of landslide hazard areas, such as the Oso community hillside that collapsed March 22.

The Daily Herald of Everett reports the proposal would affect coastal bluffs and mountain valleys. The newspaper says an estimated 30,000 people already live in parts of the county with known landslide dangers.

The measure is expected to be introduced at Wednesday's council meeting. It would not apply to projects with completed building applications.

The Oso mudslide that has claimed 41 lives, with two people still missing, stretched more than a mile.


King County voters rejecting road, bus measure

SEATTLE (AP) - King County Executive Dow Constantine says he's "very disappointed" by early election returns that show county voters rejecting a proposed sales tax hike and increase in the car-tab fee to pay for roads and prevent cuts in Metro transit bus service.

He says he'll keep fighting at the state Legislature to get a "decent, sustainable funding source for transit."

In the meantime, Constantine says he'll be sending the County Council a proposal to cut 550,000 hours of bus service annually.

Initial returns tallied Tuesday night showed the proposal failing 55 percent to 45 percent. More returns will be posted by late Wednesday afternoon in the mail election.

Proposition 1 seeks a $60 car-tab fee and a one-tenth-of-a-cent increase in the sales tax. The measure would raise about $130 million a year for 10 years, with 60 percent going to Metro Transit for bus service and 40 percent to pay for roads.


Soldier faces hearing in killings of Iraqi boys

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. (AP) - A U.S. soldier accused of deliberately killing two unarmed teenage boys as they herded cattle in Iraq seven years ago is due in military court.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael Barbera has been charged with premeditated murder and faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted. He is set for a preliminary hearing Wednesday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.

The Army has released few details about the allegations against him. The March 2007 killings were documented in a 2012 investigation by Pittsburgh newspaper The Tribune-Review, which said soldiers who served with Barbera had reported the slayings and remained troubled that he hadn't been prosecuted.

It isn't clear if Barbera has a civilian lawyer in addition to military defense attorneys. Barbera was most recently stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.


Trooper injured in I-5 crash in Seattle

SEATTLE (AP) - The Washington State Patrol says a 28-year-old man was booked into the King County Jail on suspicion of drunken driving after a crash that damaged two patrol cars and injured a trooper on Interstate 5 in Seattle.

Trooper Cliff Pratt says the two state patrol cars were stopped with emergency lights at the scene of a previous accident on the Ship Canal bridge about 11 p.m. Monday when the driver of a Honda Civic rear-ended one patrol car, pushing it into the other.

Pratt says a trooper who was inside one car was treated at Northwest Hospital for neck and back pain. The other trooper was outside the car at the time and not hurt.

One patrol car was totaled but the other may be repairable.


Police: Woman expected to survive train collision

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) - Police in Mount Vernon, Wash., say a 24-year-old woman injured when her car was hit by a freight train is still being treated at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle but is expected to survive.

The Skagit Valley Herald reports that Lt. Chris Cammock says the woman was leaving work Monday afternoon at a farm in the south Mount Vernon area and apparently crossed the track in front of the northbound train. The train pushed her Mercedes Benz about 100 feet down the tracks and into a field.

The train hit the car on the passenger side. The woman was alone in the vehicle.


Costs of dam crack pegged at $61 million

EPHRATA, Wash. (AP) - Dealing with that cracked dam on the Columbia River is going to cost about $61 million.

That's the estimate given Tuesday to the Grant County Public Utility District.

The estimate of $61 million includes all costs associated with: fracture investigation, spillway repairs, fish passage modifications, shoreline protection and power supply costs. It could change as the utility continues to investigate the cause of the fracture.

The 65-foot long crack on a spillway of Wanapum Dam was discovered in February. The reservoir was dropped 26 feet to relieve pressure on the crack, and the dam is generating only about 50 to 60 percent of the power it could produce.

The utility will use a combination of reserve funds, debt financing and expense reductions to cover the costs.


Arsonist burns 2 cars in Walla Walla

WALLA WALLA, Wash. (AP) - Police say an arsonist burned two cars overnight in Walla Walla.

The owner told police he found the interiors burned Tuesday morning, and damage to both cars is estimated at about $10,000.

Investigators found accelerants were used in the fires.


State kills 300 Rochester cockfighting birds

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - The state Gambling Commission says about 300 birds seized in a cockfighting raid on Monday at Rochester were killed.

A spokeswoman says about 240 roosters and 60 hens were euthanized, although several birds are saved as evidence in the case.

A 35-year-old Rochester man was arrested and accused of raising and training birds to sell for cockfights in Oregon, Texas and Mexico.

The Olympian reports the roosters were outfitted with spurs on their legs to inflict fatal injury.

Court papers in the case say the suspect said each rooster was worth at least $100.

The raid was the result of a two-year investigation by state Gambling Commission agents and Thurston County sheriff's detectives.


Spokane picks pine as official city tree

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - The Spokane City Council has designated the ponderosa pine as the city's official tree.

The designation came Monday night, just in time for Earth Day.

City Councilwoman Amber Waldref says the ponderosa pine was the first tree that greeted the first native people to Spokane.

The Spokeman-Review says the City Council designation also included support for policies designed to protect existing ponderosa pines and their ecosystem.


Microsoft expands ad-free Bing search for schools

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Microsoft is expanding a program that gives schools the ability to prevent ads from appearing in search results when they use its Bing search engine. The program, launched in a pilot program earlier this year, is now available to all U.S. schools, public or private, from kindergarten through the 12th grade.

The program is meant to create a safer online environment for children, but also promote use of Bing, which trails market leader Google Inc.

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft Corp. is also giving away a first-generation Surface tablet computer to schools where community members sign up to use the ad-supported version of Bing outside of the school. Sixty parents and friends who do 30 Bing searches a day could earn their school a Surface in a little over a month.

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