04-15-2024  10:01 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Grants Pass Anti-Camping Laws Head to Supreme Court

Grants Pass in southern Oregon has become the unlikely face of the nation’s homelessness crisis as its case over anti-camping laws goes to the U.S. Supreme Court scheduled for April 22. The case has broad implications for cities, including whether they can fine or jail people for camping in public. Since 2020, court orders have barred Grants Pass from enforcing its anti-camping laws. Now, the city is asking the justices to review lower court rulings it says has prevented it from addressing the city's homelessness crisis. Rights groups say people shouldn’t be punished for lacking housing.

Four Ballot Measures for Portland Voters to Consider

Proposals from the city, PPS, Metro and Urban Flood Safety & Water Quality District.

Washington Gun Store Sold Hundreds of High-Capacity Ammunition Magazines in 90 Minutes Without Ban

KGW-TV reports Wally Wentz, owner of Gator’s Custom Guns in Kelso, described Monday as “magazine day” at his store. Wentz is behind the court challenge to Washington’s high-capacity magazine ban, with the help of the Silent Majority Foundation in eastern Washington.

Five Running to Represent Northeast Portland at County Level Include Former Mayor, Social Worker, Hotelier (Part 2)

Five candidates are vying for the spot previously held by Susheela Jayapal, who resigned from office in November to focus on running for Oregon's 3rd Congressional District. Jesse Beason is currently serving as interim commissioner in Jayapal’s place. (Part 2)

NEWS BRIEFS

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Approves Major Disaster Declaration for Oregon

Yolanda J. Jackson has been named Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected areas. ...

Americans Willing to Pay More to Eliminate the Racial Wealth Gap, Creating a New Opportunity for Black Business Owners

National research released today provides encouraging news that most Americans are willing to pay a premium price for products and...

Vibrant Communities Commissioner Dan Ryan Directs Development Funding to Complete Next Phase of Gateway Green Project

Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) is beginning a new phase of accessibility and park improvements to Gateway Green, the...

Application Opens for Preschool for All 2024-25 School Year

Multnomah County children who will be 3 or 4 years old on or before September 1, 2024 are eligible to apply now for free preschool...

PCC and LAIKA Partner to Foster Diversity in Animation

LAIKA is contributing ,000 to support student scholarships and a new animation and graphics degree. ...

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators shut down airport highways and key bridges in major US cities

CHICAGO (AP) — Pro-Palestinian demonstrators blocked roadways in Illinois, California, New York and the Pacific Northwest on Monday, temporarily shutting down travel into some of the nation's most heavily used airports, onto the Golden Gate and Brooklyn bridges and on a busy West Coast highway. ...

Asbestos victim's dying words aired in wrongful death case against Buffet's railroad

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Thomas Wells ran a half-marathon at age 60 and played recreational volleyball until he was 63. At 65 years old, doctors diagnosed him with mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive lung cancer linked to asbestos exposure. “I’m in great pain and alls I see is this...

Caleb Williams among 13 confirmed prospects for opening night of the NFL draft

NEW YORK (AP) — Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams, the popular pick to be the No. 1 selection overall, will be among 13 prospects attending the first round of the NFL draft in Detroit on April 25. The NFL announced the 13 prospects confirmed as of Thursday night, and...

Georgia ends game on 12-0 run to beat Missouri 64-59 in first round of SEC tourney

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Blue Cain had 19 points, Justin Hill scored 17 off the bench and 11th-seeded Georgia finished the game on a 12-0 run to beat No. 14 seed Missouri 64-59 on Wednesday night in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament. Cain hit 6 of 12 shots,...

OPINION

Loving and Embracing the Differences in Our Youngest Learners

Yet our responsibility to all parents and society at large means we must do more to share insights, especially with underserved and under-resourced communities. ...

Gallup Finds Black Generational Divide on Affirmative Action

Each spring, many aspiring students and their families begin receiving college acceptance letters and offers of financial aid packages. This year’s college decisions will add yet another consideration: the effects of a 2023 Supreme Court, 6-3 ruling that...

OP-ED: Embracing Black Men’s Voices: Rebuilding Trust and Unity in the Democratic Party

The decision of many Black men to disengage from the Democratic Party is rooted in a complex interplay of historical disenchantment, unmet promises, and a sense of disillusionment with the political establishment. ...

COMMENTARY: Is a Cultural Shift on the Horizon?

As with all traditions in all cultures, it is up to the elders to pass down the rituals, food, language, and customs that identify a group. So, if your auntie, uncle, mom, and so on didn’t teach you how to play Spades, well, that’s a recipe lost. But...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Prominent New York church, sued for gender bias, moves forward with male pastor candidate

A search committee previously sued for gender discrimination over its hiring process has announced its pick for the next senior pastor of a prominent New York City congregation considered by some to be the flagship of the Black church in America. Candidate Kevin R. Johnson, founding...

Beyoncé is bringing her fans of color to country music. Will they be welcomed in?

NEW YORK (AP) — Dusty, worn boots. Horses lapping up water. Sweat dripping from the foreheads of every shade of Black skin as country classics blare through giant speakers. These moments are frequently recreated during Tayhlor Coleman’s family gatherings at their central Texas ranch. For her,...

Gene Herrick, AP photographer who covered the Korean War and civil rights, dies at 97

RICH CREEK, Va. (AP) — Gene Herrick, a retired Associated Press photographer who covered the Korean War and is known for his iconic images of Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and the trial of the killers of Emmett Till in the early years of the Civil Rights Movement, died Friday. He was 97. ...

ENTERTAINMENT

Golf has a ratings problem, and the Masters could shine a light on why viewers are tuning out

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — Golf has a ratings problem. The week-to-week grind of the PGA Tour has essentially become No Need To See TV, raising serious concerns about what it means for the future of the game. Now comes the Masters, the first major championship of the year and...

George Lucas to receive honorary Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival

George Lucas will receive an honorary Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival next month, festival organizers announced Tuesday. Lucas will be honored at the closing ceremony to the 77th French film festival on May 25. He joins a short list of those to receive honorary Palmes. Last...

Luke Combs leads the 2024 ACM Awards nominations, followed by Morgan Wallen and Megan Moroney

Luke Combs leads the nominees for the 2024 Academy of Country Music Awards with eight nods to his name, it was announced Tuesday. For a fifth year in a row, he's up for both male artist of the year and the top prize, entertainer of the year. The 59th annual ACM Awards...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

IAEA warns that attacks on a nuclear plant in Russian-controlled Ukraine put the world at risk

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Russia and Ukraine on Monday traded blame before the United Nations Security Council for...

Trump trial: Why can't Americans see or hear what is going on inside the courtroom?

NEW YORK (AP) — It's a moment in history — the first U.S. president facing criminal charges in an American...

Trump will return to court after first day of hush money criminal trial ends with no jurors picked

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump will return to a New York courtroom Tuesday as a judge works to find a panel of...

House Speaker Mike Johnson pushes towards a vote on aid for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Mike Johnson is pushing toward action this week on aid for Israel, Ukraine and...

In Modi's India, opponents and journalists feel the squeeze ahead of election

NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government are increasingly wielding strong-arm...

Israel’s military chief says that Israel will respond to Iran’s weekend missile attack

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s military chief said Monday that his country will respond to Iran’s weekend attack,...

Mariano Castillo CNN

(CNN) -- A spate of deadly shootings during anti-drug operations in Honduras -- including two in which U.S. agents killed suspects -- is linked to an aggressive new strategy to disrupt a preferred corridor for traffickers.

Operation Anvil, as the multinational mission is known, differs from past efforts because of its reliance on military outposts close to the front lines to provide quick responses. It is a strategy reminiscent of counterinsurgency tactics used by the U.S. military on battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a two-month span, six people have been killed in the course of the operation, including possibly four innocent civilians.

Despite the controversial shootings, American and Honduran officials say they both are happy with their collaboration and consider Operation Anvil -- launched in April -- a success.

As of Wednesday, authorities said, they had interdicted five planes, seized about 2,300 kilos of cocaine, and made seven arrests. Firearms, including military assault rifles, have also been seized.

"The amount of drugs seized and the disruption of narcotrafficking routes speak for themselves," said Jorge Ramon Hernandez Alcerro, the Honduran ambassador to the United States.

Meanwhile, critics in Honduras and the United States oppose the law enforcement strategy and question why American agents are killing anyone during peacetime on foreign soil.

The latest incident was just after midnight on July 3, when a plane carrying 900 kilograms of cocaine crashed in northeast Honduras -- not an uncommon occurrence in a region that is among traffickers' preferred smuggling stopovers.

Authorities descended on the scene, and when one of suspected traffickers aboard the plane allegedly made a threatening move, two Drug Enforcement Agency officers opened fire, agency spokeswoman Barbara Carreno said. The suspect later died.

It was the second such incident in a two-week span. On June 23, a DEA agent shot and killed a suspected trafficker after he reached for a weapon, the agency said.

The pair of shootings by DEA agents follow an episode in May in which villagers in the country's Mosquitia coastal region say Honduran forces aboard American helicopters mistakenly fired on a civilian riverboat, killing four, including two pregnant women.

A U.S. official with knowledge of the incident said that the preliminary Honduran investigation, as well as a video of the incident, raises doubts about claims by those on the riverboat that they were innocent victims. The official asked not to be named because the a final report has not been issued.

"I think this is a disheartening sign of the escalation of U.S. involvement in Honduras without clear goals and guidelines," said Dana Frank, a Honduras expert and history professor at the University of California Santa Cruz.

"There is no clear oversight from Congress over what is going on," she said. "It's not clear under what terms the DEA is there, operating in killings."

Anti-narcotics cooperation between the United States and Central American countries is not new, but Anvil represents a new approach to intercepting smugglers' aircraft.

Anvil's major innovation is the use of military outposts closer to the drug trafficking routes, known as forward operating locations, for quicker deployment by Honduran police and their DEA advisers.

Anvil appears modeled after counterinsurgency tactics used by the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the Hondurans say the suggestion to use the forward operating locations came from them.

About 600 American troops are located in Honduras, mostly at Soto Cano Air Base. Officials say they have seen a decreased role in Operation Anvil as the DEA team has stepped up, but a limited number of U.S. troops remain at the forward operating locations.

Joint Task Force Bravo, as the U.S. contingent is called, serves "purely as a support element, providing re-fueling capability, communications infrastructure and medical evacuation capability" at the forward bases, said Lt. Christopher Diaz, the spokesman for the group.

The forward operating bases are owned and maintained by the Hondurans, and they have operated them for years, Diaz said.

The helicopters used in the operations belong to the U.S. State Department, and are piloted either by Guatemalan military pilots who are on loan, or by U.S. contractors, said Stephen Posivak, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Honduras.

What's not new is the teamwork between the DEA and vetted Honduran police who participate in the operations, Posivak said.

"This concept is new, but previously there's been these type of bi-national efforts done by the Honduran government and DEA," he said.

Operation Anvil seeks to track planes entering Honduras, ascertains where they will land, and then sends helicopters out to make arrests, Posivak said.

Both governments insist that the DEA agents provide a supporting role only, and that under their rules of engagement are allowed to fire their weapons only in response to a threat.

The DEA "is in Honduras at the request of our government in a support and training capacity," Hernandez said.

The three shooting incidents are the part of Operation Anvil that has received the most attention, but law enforcement aid is just one of the facets of American help.

Anvil falls within the larger framework of Central American Regional Security Initiative, or CARSI, which has provided more than half a billion dollars to the region since 2008. Besides law enforcement efforts, the money goes toward institution building and anti-corruption efforts, Posivak said.

"It's not a problem that can be solved by law enforcement alone," he said.

The goal is to address security concerns through all means, he said.

U.S. funding for CARSI has increased from $60 million in 2008 to an estimated $135 million in 2012.

The most controversial of the Anvil-related confrontations has been the May 11 incident near Ahuas in the Mosquitia region.

Hilda Lezama, the owner of the boat that was attacked, told reporters last month that she was carrying passengers before dawn when helicopters appeared and opened fire, wounding her and killing four.

The State Department, however, has indicated that the Honduran forces were justified in firing in self-defense. DEA agents were present, but did not fire their weapons, officials say.

The Honduran government is investigating the incident, but critics don't believe the government has the capacity to fairly assess itself.

"What happened in Ahuas is unbelievable. They claim they combat crime but they cover up their own crime?" said Rodolfo Pastor Fasquelle, a Honduran historian and former minister of culture, arts and sports.

Pastor is one of 40 Honduran scholars, joined by 300 from outside the country, who signed a letter to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking that the United States cease all military and police aid until corrupt agencies are cleaned up.

For the Americans, "the collateral damages are related to an equation that supposes that the high price paid to keep drugs from reaching its market is in some way beneficial and worth it. For us who gain no benefit, these costs are unacceptable," Pastor said.

They wrote the letter, he said, because Hondurans are "fearful of the prospect of militarization without end."

Hernandez, the Honduran ambassador, counters that Operation Anvil and other programs are not military operations, but law enforcement ones.

"These are crime-fighting operations and, as such, entail serious risks for people involved in illicit activities and for the law enforcement agents on the field," Hernandez said. "The DEA agents have followed their own rules of engagement and have used arms only when their lives have been threatened. Any loss of life is regrettable; the security authorities of Honduras have repeatedly alerted the local population of the dangers they incur by participating in this criminal activity."

Given the lack of control by Honduran authorities in the northeastern part of the country, it was inevitable that the United States would play a more direct role in combating drug trafficking there, said Mark Ungar, a professor of political science and criminal justice at Brooklyn College who has studied and worked in Honduras.

Drug cartels exert such influence in the region that both law enforcement and civilian government agencies have been corrupted, he said. The corruption is entrenched, with local police, aeronautic agencies, rural logging interests and indigenous groups infiltrated by the cartels.

Just as part of the counterinsurgency missions in Afghanistan and Iraq had an element of earning locals' trust, the same is needed in Honduras, Ungar said.

"It's not just a matter of seizing planes and catching people in the act, but a matter of gaining trust and understanding how these organizations work," he said.

Drug trafficking through this corridor is not likely to stop until there is an understanding of how deeply entrenched the drug trade is in local communities, he added

But the Honduran government is weak, its institutions and police suffer from corruption, and public opinion favors security on the streets more than security in remote parts of the country, Ungar said. These factors are not favorable for long-term success, he said.

Posivak, the U.S. embassy spokesman, said Operation Anvil has already proven successful at disrupting criminal organizations.

"We believe these interdictions have had a strong impact," he said.

CNN's Catherine Shoichet contributed to this report.

The Skanner Foundation's 38th Annual MLK Breakfast