Portland Tribune

Ducks' defense poised to dominate this season
Author: Maverick Pallack
By Maverick Pallack/Portland Tribune/UO coordinator Andy Avalos brings new philosophy, schemes

EUGENE — Many programs face coaching turnover as assistants get promotions with other programs, or are fired, and Oregon is no different.

Despite the change at the top of the defense with Andy Avalos replacing Jim Leavitt as coordinator, Oregon's players ...

Fiasco fizzles at weekend waterfront protest in Portland
Author: Zane Sparling
Police kept violent protesters apart at far-right, far-left forces attempt Saturday brawl.

Like the song says: You've got to keep them separated.

The Portland Police Bureau, it seems, did just that.

During what felt at times like a 10-hour game of hide-and-seek on Saturday, Aug. 17, far-left ...

Man in apartment throws furniture onto cars, police say
Author: Pamplin Media Group
Portland Police Bureau arrests Joseph Lee, 40, on Saturday, Aug. 17 on Interstate Avenue.

Portland Police have arrested a man for allegedly hurling items and furniture out of his third-floor apartment window.

Joseph Jerome Lee, 40, is charged with two counts of unlawful use of a weapon, two counts ...

Oregon's immigrants see trouble in new Trump green card rules
Author: Claire Withycombe and Rachel Alexander/Oregon Capital Bureau
State sues to block changes; officials worry some people may avoid public benefits even if they need them.

The federal government's move to restrict most legal immigration to those who can afford health care, housing and food on their own is causing Oregon immigrants to worry. Even those who will not ...

Democratic Party of Oregon

Meet Maxine Dexter, running for HD33
Date:  August 25, 2019 - 3:00pm - 4:30pm Location 3117 NE 30th Ave, Portland, OR 97212 United States See map: Google Maps Contact information Contact name:  Melissa Rockefeller Contact phone:  (503) 688-0049 Email:  rockems [at] me [dot] com Organization:  Maxine For Oregon Website:

Representative Mitch Greenlick's long held House District 33 seat is coming open this fall and I'd like to introduce you to the amazing woman running to take over his seat, Dr. Maxine Dexter!

Maxine believes everyone should have a home, a quality education and affordable health care. She has impressive medical and business experience as well as grit, integrity, compassion and courage. I know this first hand.

Please come and learn why Maxine should be the next HD33 State Representative!

Light snacks provided.

Children welcome.

read more

Columbian Newspaper

Organic food fraudster gets 10 years
Author: RYAN J. FOLEY, Associated Press

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — A judge on Friday sentenced the mastermind of the largest known organic food fraud scheme in U.S. history to 10 years in prison, saying he cheated thousands of customers into buying products they didn’t want.

U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams said Randy Constant orchestrated a massive fraud that did “extreme and incalculable damage” to consumers and shook public confidence in the nation’s organic food industry.

Williams said that, between 2010 and 2017, consumers nationwide were fooled into paying extra to buy products ranging from eggs to steak that they believed were better for the environment and their own health. Instead, they unwittingly purchased food that relied on farming practices, including the use of chemical pesticides to grow crops, that they opposed.

“Thousands upon thousands of consumers paid for products they did not get and paid for products they did not want,” Williams said. “This has caused incalculable damage to the confidence the American public has in organic products.”

Williams said the scam harmed other organic farmers who were playing by the rules but could not compete with the low prices offered by Constant’s Iowa-based grain brokerage, and middlemen who unknowingly purchased and marketed tainted organic grain.

Williams ordered Constant, a 60-year-old farmer and former school board president from Chillicothe, Mo., to serve 122 months in federal prison, as his wife and other relatives sobbed.

Earlier in the day, Williams gave shorter prison terms to three Overton, Neb., farmers whom Constant recruited to join the scheme. Williams described the three as largely law-abiding citizens, including one “legitimate war hero,” who succumbed to greed when Constant gave them the opportunity.

Michael Potter, 41, was ordered to serve 24 months behind bars; James Brennan, 41, was sentenced to 20 months; and his father, 71-year-old Tom Brennan, was given a three-month sentence. Williams said the shorter sentence for the elder Brennan reflected his heroism as a decorated platoon leader in the Vietnam War.

All four farmers sentenced Friday had pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges and cooperated with a two-year investigation that isn’t over. A fifth farmer has also pleaded guilty in the case and is awaiting sentencing.

The farmers grew traditional corn and soybeans, mixed them with a small amount of certified organic grains, and falsely marketed them all as certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Most of the grains were sold as animal feed to companies that marketed organic meat and meat products.

The farmers reaped more than $120 million in proceeds from sales of the tainted grain. The scheme may have involved up to 7 percent of organic corn grown in the U.S. in 2016 and 8 percent of the organic soybeans, prosecutors said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program requires crops to be grown without the use of fertilizers, sewage sludge and other substances.

“The organic industry in this country is built in trust and I violated that trust,” Constant said.

Constant’s lawyer, Mark Weinhardt, described his client as a pillar of the community in Chillicothe.

Bail set at $200,000 for subway defendant
Author: Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Bail was set at $200,000 Sunday for a homeless man from West Virginia who was charged with placing two devices that looked like pressure cookers in a New York City subway station.

Larry Kenton Griffin II of Bruno, W. Va., appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court before Judge Keisha Espinal, who set the bail and ordered Griffin to return to court Friday.

A message seeking comment was left with Griffin’s lawyer, Michael Croce.

The court appearance came a day after Griffin’s arrest and two days after Friday morning’s commute was disrupted by a police investigation that began after two large cooking pots were spotted at Manhattan’s Fulton subway station.

The incident inconvenienced thousands of commuters who use multiple subway lines that converge at the busy station next to the World Trade Center site, where a heavy police presence exists during every busy morning or evening commute since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The 26-year-old Griffin was charged with two counts of placing a false bomb. He was arrested Saturday in the Bronx after photographs of Griffin and the pots were distributed widely by law enforcement authorities.

A criminal complaint said Griffin knew the pots “would appear to be a bomb, destructive device, explosive and hazardous substance under circumstances in which it was likely to cause public alarm and inconvenience.”

Kathleen Blanco, governor of Louisiana amid Katrina, dies
Author: MELINDA DESLATTE, Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. — Former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, who became the state’s first female elected governor only to see her political career derailed by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, has died.

After struggling for years with cancer, Blanco died Sunday in hospice care in Lafayette. She was 76.

“Our hearts are broken, but we are joyful in knowing that she is rejoicing in her heavenly reunion with Christ. Please pray for God’s peace to carry us through the coming days and months of sorrow as we mourn her absence from our lives,” Blanco’s family said in a statement released by Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office.

Blanco had a rare eye cancer that she battled successfully in 2011, but it later returned and spread to her liver. Her death came more than a year after the Democrat who served in state government offices for more than two decades announced in December 2017 that she was being treated for the incurable melanoma. Blanco described being in a “fight for my own life, one that will be difficult to win.”

Blanco held Louisiana’s top elected job from 2004 to 2008. Until her campaign for governor, she spent much of her political career moving steadily and quietly through state politics, rarely creating waves or controversy. Katrina raised her profile nationally and forever impacted her legacy. The devastating August 2005 hurricane killed more than 1,400 people in Louisiana, displaced hundreds of thousands and inundated 80 percent of New Orleans.

Historians will continue to debate whether any governor could have been prepared for such a catastrophe, but Blanco shouldered much of the blame after images of thousands stranded on rooftops and overpasses were broadcast to the world, and the government was slow to respond. Blanco was criticized as unprepared, overwhelmed and indecisive. The recovery she guided moved ploddingly.

“While she knew that her name would forever be linked with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, it was her dying wish that she be remembered for her faith in God, commitment to family and love of Louisiana,” Blanco’s family said.

As the devout Catholic asked in the letter announcing her terminal condition for prayers in her final months, she also thanked Louisiana residents for their “abiding love” during her years of service, and described the challenges of responding to Katrina and the follow-up blow of Hurricane Rita a month later. She called it an “honor and blessing” to lead Louisiana at the time.

“Katrina certainly left its mark and Rita left her mark on Louisiana. It made us tougher people though. It made us stronger,” the former governor said in July.

In the immediate aftermath of the storms, Blanco said Louisiana’s miseries were worsened by a Republican-led White House desperate to blame someone else for its disaster response failures. “I just thought I could shout more loudly than the noise around me, but in the end I couldn’t. There was just too much pain,” she once said.

Edwards, a Democrat in his first term as governor, called Blanco a mentor to him and a trailblazer to women. He ordered flags at state buildings around Louisiana flown at half-staff through Blanco’s funeral, scheduled for Saturday. A public service for the former governor will be held at the Louisiana Capitol on Thursday.

“She led Louisiana through one of our darkest hours, when hurricanes and the failure of the federal levee system devastated much of our state,” Edwards said in a statement Sunday. “I hope history will remember Gov. Blanco as a tireless advocate for Louisiana, who fought fiercely for our state to rebuild.”

A former high school business education teacher from the small Cajun village of Coteau, Blanco launched into politics as a consultant with her husband Raymond on local redistricting issues before going on to serve 24 years in elective office. Her first, in 1984, was a seat in the state House. Then came positions on the state utility regulatory commission and as lieutenant governor.

Political insiders often dismissed Blanco as a lightweight — honest and hardworking but lacking in substance as a serious gubernatorial contender. She dropped out of the governor’s race in 1991, then stunned many political prognosticators in the 2003 election by defeating Republican Bobby Jindal. She successfully attacked Jindal’s record as a former state health official and made a memorable final debate appearance when — asked about a defining moment in her life — she tearfully recounted the 1997 death of her 19-year-old son Ben in an industrial accident.

Jindal later succeeded Blanco as governor after Katrina stopped her plans to seek a second term.

“Kathleen loved Louisiana and served the state for decades. She faced every struggle, including her last, with good cheer and a strong will. She will be missed,” Jindal said on Twitter.

More than a decade after the storms, views of Blanco are generally more sympathetic. She gets praise for running a corruption-free government and championing education. She helped raise K-12 public school teacher pay and plowed hundreds of millions of dollars into colleges. The nonpartisan Council For A Better Louisiana recently praised Blanco’s successful push for a state takeover of failing public schools in New Orleans after Katrina, saying that has improved education for thousands of students.

“It’s hard to overstate how politically risky that was,” the organization wrote.

But Blanco’s tenure also was marked by heightened partisanship at the Louisiana Capitol, party-line disputes that have only intensified since she left office.

Though she stepped out of the spotlight, Blanco never entirely left Louisiana politics. She and her husband assisted Edwards in his campaigns and became close with him. Edwards called the ex-governor “a strong woman of incredible faith, a deep and abiding love of Louisiana and all its people.”

As she knew her end was near, Blanco described feeling “blessed by God” and talked of her final months as a “wonderful time for me, even though it is a time of a kind of countdown.” She talked of being surrounded by family and friends and old political foes having “a chance to make up.”

“My life has been so charmed by so many events that were unexpected and challenged by many events that were unexpected,” she said in July as a Louisiana highway was named in her honor. “But God puts you where he wants you to be.”

Wildlife roam where U.S. forged weapons
Author: DAN ELLIOTT, Associated Press

DENVER — From a tiny Pacific island to a leafy Indiana forest, a handful of sites where the United States manufactured and tested some of the most lethal weapons known to humankind are now peaceful havens for wildlife.

An astonishing array of animals and habitats flourished at six former weapons complexes — mostly for nuclear and chemical arms — because the public and other intrusions were banned for decades.

When they became obsolete, the government converted them into refuges under U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service management, but the cost is staggering. The military, the U.S. Department of Energy and private companies have spent more than $57 billion to clean up the heavily polluted sites, according to figures gathered by The Associated Press from military and civil agencies.

And the biggest bills have yet to be paid. The Energy Department estimates it will cost between $323 billion and $677 billion more to finish the costliest cleanup, at the Hanford Site in Washington where the government produced plutonium for bombs and missiles.

Despite the complicated and expensive cleanups, significant contamination has been left behind, some experts say. This legacy, they say, requires restrictions on where visitors can go and obligates the government to monitor the sites for perhaps centuries.

“They would be worse if they were surrounded by a fence and left off-limits for decades and decades,” said David Havlick, a professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs who studies military-to-wildlife conversions. “That said, it would be better if they were cleaned up more thoroughly.”

Researchers have not examined the health risks to wildlife at the cleaned-up refuges as extensively as the potential danger to humans, but few problems have been reported.

Most skeptics agree the refuges are worthwhile but warn that the natural beauty might obscure the environmental damage wreaked nearby.

The military closed the sites to keep people safe from the dangerous work that went on there, not to save the environment, said Havlick, author of a book about conversions, “Bombs Away: Militarization, Conservation, and Ecological Restoration.”

“It’s not because the Department of Defense has some ecological ethic,” he said.

Critics say Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Colorado illustrates the shortcomings of a cleanup designed to be good enough for a refuge but not for human habitation.

Roughly 10 miles from downtown Denver, the arsenal was once an environmental nightmare where chemical weapons and commercial pesticides were made. After a $2.1 billion cleanup, it was reborn as Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, with 24 square miles of idyllic prairie.

But parts of the refuge remain off-limits, including specially designed landfills where the Army disposed of contaminated soil. Eating fish and game from the refuge is forbidden. Treatment plants remove contaminants from groundwater to keep them out of domestic wells.

“So there’s a huge downside to converting it into a wildlife refuge, because it allows residual contamination to remain in place,” said Jeff Edson, a former Colorado state health official who worked on the cleanup.

The Army is still struggling with cleaning up Jefferson Proving Ground in Indiana, part of which became Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge.

Soldiers test-fired millions of artillery rounds there, some made of armor-piercing depleted uranium. Its radiation isn’t strong enough to be dangerous outside the body, but its dust is a serious health risk if inhaled or swallowed, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says.

Depleted uranium fragments are scattered on the firing range among 1.5 million rounds of unexploded shells, which makes cleanup dangerous and expensive.

The Army told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission it could cost $3.2 billion to clean the area for unrestricted use. Its latest plan calls for waiting 20 years in hopes that better, less expensive technology emerges or the unexploded shells degrade to a safe level.

Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge, a former nuclear weapons plant northwest of Denver, opened to hikers and cyclists last September, but some activists question whether it’s safe.

A $7 billion cleanup concentrated on the central area where workers assembled plutonium triggers for nuclear warheads, and that area remains closed.

The refuge was created on the perimeter buffer zone. State and federal officials say it’s safe, but skeptical activists filed a lawsuit saying the government didn’t test it carefully enough.

Hanford — where the cleanup has already cost at least $48 billion and hundreds of billions more are projected — may be the most troubled refuge of all.

Parts of Hanford’s buffer zone are open to visitors, but cleanup costs for an area where contaminated waste is stored are soaring.

Washington officials are worried that the Trump administration wants to reclassify millions of gallons of wastewater from high-level radioactive to low-level, which could reduce cleanup standards and costs.

The Energy Department told the state it has no current plans to change the classification. State officials say they want legally binding assurances.

Mark Madison, the Fish and Wildlife Service’s historian, said if agency officials believed the sites were unsafe for the public, he said, they would not work there.

“They’re there all the time,” he said. “They’re not going to want to be in a place with chemical pollution or radiation problems.”

Islamic State claims bombing in Kabul
Author: RAHIM FAIEZ and CARA ANNA, Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — The suicide bomber stood in the middle of the dancing, clapping crowd as hundreds of Afghan children and adults celebrated a wedding in a joyous release from Kabul’s strain of war. Then, in a flash, he detonated his explosives-filled vest, killing dozens — and Afghanistan grieved again.

The local Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility for the deadliest attack in the capital this year, with 63 killed and 182 wounded, while outraged Afghans questioned just how safe they will be under an approaching deal between the United States and the Taliban to end America’s longest war.

Stunned families buried the dead, some digging with their bare hands. One wounded survivor, Mohammad Aslim, still wore his bloodied clothes the day after the blast late Saturday. He and his friends had already buried 16 bodies, among them several close relatives, including a 7-year-old boy.

Aslim looked exhausted, and said he was waiting to bury more. Nearby, a man named Amanullah, who lost his 14-year-old son, said in anguish that the explosion had mangled the boy’s face so badly he could no longer recognize it.

“I wish I could find the pieces of my son’s body and put them as one piece into the grave,” he cried.

The emergence of the Islamic State affiliate in recent years might be the greatest threat to Afghan civilians as the U.S. and Taliban seek an agreement to end nearly 18 years of fighting. While the U.S. wants Taliban assurances that Afghanistan will no longer be used as a launch pad for global terror attacks, there appear to be no guarantees of protection for Afghan civilians.

The Taliban, which the U.S. hopes will help curb the IS affiliate’s rise, condemned the attack as “forbidden and unjustifiable.”

The blast took place in a western Kabul neighborhood that is home to many in the country’s minority Shiite Hazara community. IS, which declared war on Afghanistan’s Shiites nearly two years ago and has claimed responsibility for many attacks targeting them in the past, said in a statement that a Pakistani IS fighter seeking martyrdom targeted a large Shiite gathering.

The wedding, at which more than 1,200 people had been invited, was in fact a mixed crowd of Shiites and Sunnis, said the event hall’s owner, Hussain Ali.

Ali’s workers were still finding body parts, including hands, in the shattered wedding hall, its floor strewn with broken glass, pieces of furniture and victims’ shoes.

“We have informed the police to come and collect them,” he said.

The bomber detonated his explosives near the stage where musicians were playing and “all the youths, children and all the people who were there were killed,” said Gul Mohammad, another witness.

Survivors described a panicked scene in the suddenly darkened hall as people screamed and scrambled to find loved ones.

“I was with the groom in the other room when we heard the blast and then I couldn’t find anyone,” said Ahmad Omid, who said the groom was his father’s cousin. “Everyone was lying all around the hall.”

The blast at the wedding hall, known as Dubai City, shattered a period of relative calm in Kabul.

On Aug. 7, a Taliban car bomber aimed at Afghan security forces detonated his explosives on the same road, a short drive from the hall, killing 14 people and wounding 145 — most of them women, children and other civilians.

Kabul’s huge, brightly lit wedding halls are centers of community life in a city weary of decades of war, with thousands of dollars often spent on a single evening.

Messages of shock poured in on Sunday. “Such acts are beyond condemnation,” the European Union mission to Afghanistan said. “An act of extreme depravity,” U.S. Ambassador John Bass said. A deliberate attack on civilians “can only be described as a cowardly act of terror,” U.N. envoy to Afghanistan Tadamichi Yamamoto said.

The explosion came just ahead of Afghanistan’s 100th Independence Day today. The city, long familiar with checkpoints and razor wire, has been under heavier security. A planned event in Kabul marking the anniversary was postponed because of the attack, the president’s office said.

The attack also comes at a greatly uncertain time in Afghanistan as the U.S. and the Taliban appear to be within days of a deal on ending the war after several rounds of talks this year. Afghanistan’s government has been sidelined in those talks as the Taliban refuse to negotiate with what it calls a U.S. puppet.

The U.S. envoy in the talks, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Twitter Sunday that the peace process needs to be accelerated, including holding talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government and other Afghans. He said that will put Afghanistan in a “much stronger position” to defeat the IS affiliate. President Donald Trump was briefed on the talks on Friday but few details have emerged.

Top issues in the talks have included a U.S. troop withdrawal and Taliban guarantees they would not allow Afghanistan to become a launching pad for global terror attacks.