11-26-2022  3:22 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

The Science of Lullabies: Portland Music Educator Gathers Songs of Soothing from Around the World

Licia Claire Seaman’s new book shares stories, neurobiology and music. 

The KKK in Oregon: Same Wine, Different Bottle

Oregon and the Klan: Guest Column: The tactics and rhetoric deployed by today’s Trump-centric conservative movement read like the playbook of the Ku Klux Klan a century ago.

Sheriff, Group Sue to Block Strict Oregon Gun Control Law

An Oregon gun rights group and a county sheriff have filed a federal lawsuit challenging a voter-approved ballot measure, saying it violates the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.”

Environmental Groups Oppose Pipeline Expansion in Pacific NW

The U.S. government has taken a step toward approving the expansion of a natural gas pipeline in the Pacific Northwest, but environmentalists and the attorneys general of Oregon, California and Washington states warn that allowing fracking will increases emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas implicated in climate change

NEWS BRIEFS

Oregon Faces Snow-Plow Driver Shortage Heading Into Winter

New federal licensing rules for drivers resulted in longer wait times to obtain a commercial driver's license, which contributed to...

Air Pollution Monitoring to Increase for Oregon Communities

Two of Oregon’s most economically disadvantaged and racially diverse communities are getting a boost in their fight against air...

Georgia High Court Reinstates Ban on Abortions After 6 Weeks

The high court put a lower court ruling overturning the ban on hold while it considers an appeal. Abortion providers who had resumed...

Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Pose Ongoing Concern to Health of Youth in Los Angeles County, Report from Public Health Shows

Excess consumption of added sugars contributes to the high prevalence of childhood and adolescent obesity, and increases the risk for...

Local police say 2 other stabbings, Idaho killings unrelated

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) — Almost two weeks after four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death in their rooms, local police and federal agents continue to follow leads, but said they have ruled out any connection to two other stabbings in the Pacific Northwest. “There have...

Winter storm to bring heavy snow to mountains

SEATTLE (AP) — The National Weather Service urged holiday travelers to heed their warnings about a winter storm that was expected to bring snow to the mountain passes starting Saturday night and could drop snow on the metro areas by Sunday into next week. “Heavy mountain snow is...

Missouri holds off Arkansas 29-27 to reach bowl eligibility

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri and Arkansas will be headed to similar bowl games after the Tigers held off the Razorbacks 29-27 on Saturday night, leaving each of the bitter border rivals 6-6 on the season. Only one walked out of Faurot Field with victory cigars. Brady...

Rivalry week should bring SEC bowl forecast into clear focus

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — It’s rivalry week for most of the Southeastern Conference. The Egg Bowl. The Iron Bowl. The Palmetto Bowl. The Sunshine Showdown. Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate. The Battle Line Rivalry. It’s a chance for everyone to either avoid or add to the powerhouse...

OPINION

‘I Unreservedly Apologize’

The Oregonian commissioned a study of its history of racism, and published the report on Oct. 24, 2022. The Skanner is pleased to republish the apology written by the editor, Therese Bottomly. We hope other institutions will follow this example of looking...

City Officials Should Take Listening Lessons

Sisters of the Road share personal reflections of their staff after a town hall meeting at which people with lived experience of homelessness spoke ...

When Student Loan Repayments Resume, Will Problems Return Too?

HBCU borrowers question little loan forgiveness, delays to financial security ...

Tell the Supreme Court: We Still Need Affirmative Action

Opponents of affirmative action have been trying to destroy it for years. And now it looks like they just might get their chance. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Trump faulted for dinner with white nationalist, rapper Ye

NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump is renewing attention to his long history of turning a blind eye to bigotry after dining with a Holocaust-denying white nationalist and the rapper formerly known as Kanye West just days into his third campaign for the White House. Trump...

Judge denies 19-year-old's ask to attend father's execution

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal judge has denied a request from a 19-year-old woman to allow her to watch her father’s death by injection, upholding a Missouri law that bars anyone under 21 from witnessing an execution. Kevin Johnson is set to be executed Tuesday for killing Kirkwood,...

Midterms free of feared chaos as voting experts look to 2024

Before Election Day, anxiety mounted over potential chaos at the polls. Election officials warned about poll watchers who had been steeped in conspiracy theories falsely claiming that then-President Donald Trump did not actually lose the 2020 election. Democrats and voting rights...

ENTERTAINMENT

Review: Back to DeLillo's doomed future in 'White Noise'

Like Don DeLillo’s 1985 novel, the heart of Noah Baumbach’s “White Noise” is in the supermarket. There, in the gleaming aisles of neatly arranged cereal boxes and produce, DeLillo found America’s church: an over-lit spectacle of abundance and artificiality. “Here we don’t die,” says...

Review: A crowdpleasing whodunnit in Netflix's ‘Glass Onion'

The business of making original movie sequels is often a thankless job. You can’t just do the same thing again, but you also can’t be too different either. And many watching will have their guard up from the outset, suspicious that it is ultimately just a shameless cash grab. In...

'Everything Everywhere All At Once' leads Spirit Award noms

The multiverse-hopping adventure film “ Everything Everywhere All At Once ” has a leading eight nominations for the Film Independent Spirit Awards with nods for best feature, best director, best lead actor for Michelle Yeoh, supporting actors Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis and breakthrough...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

'Normal thing to do': Japanese fans tidy up at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The sight of Japanese fans at a World Cup bagging trash after a match — win or lose —...

Nebraska signs Matt Rhule to 8-year deal as football coach

After six straight losing seasons and more than 20 years removed from its 1990s heyday, Nebraska is turning to...

Energy-rich Qatar faces fast-rising climate risks at home

AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — At a suburban park near Doha, the capital city of Qatar, cool air from vents in the...

Head of Haiti's police academy killed at training facility

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — The director of Haiti’s National Police Academy was shot and killed at the doors...

Shootings at Brazil schools leave 3 dead, 13 wounded

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — A former student armed with a semiautomatic pistol and wearing a bulletproof vest...

Wildlife conference boosts protection for sharks, turtles

PANAMA CITY (AP) — An international wildlife conference moved to enact some of the most significant protection...

Mark Sherman the Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Xavier Alvarez was in good company when he stood up at a public meeting and called himself a wounded war veteran who had received the top military award, the Medal of Honor.

Alvarez was lying about his medal, his wounds and his military service, but he wasn't the first man to invent war exploits.

He was, however, one of the first people prosecuted under a 2006 federal law aimed at curbing false claims of military valor.

Concerns that the law improperly limits speech and turns people into criminals for things they say, rather than do, are at the heart of the Supreme Court's review of his case and the Stolen Valor Act.

Veterans groups have come to the aid of the Obama administration, which calls the law a narrowly crafted effort to protect the system of military awards that was established during the Revolutionary war by Gen. George Washington. The high court will hear the case Wednesday, which is Washington's 280th birthday.

"They're committing fraud. They're impersonating somebody else. They take on attributes of somebody else, attributes of a hero who served honorably," said Pam Sterner, whose college term paper calling for the law wound up in the hands of members of Congress. "When you do that, impersonating someone else, that's fraud, not freedom of speech."

Civil liberties groups, writers, publishers and news media outlets, including The Associated Press, have told the justices they worry the law, and especially the administration's defense of it, could lead to more attempts by government to regulate speech.

When he established military decorations in 1782, seven years before he was elected as the nation's first president, Washington himself also prescribed severe military punishment for soldiers who purported to be medal winners but weren't. Since then, many men have embellished their war records, and some have won special recognition.

It long has been a federal crime to wear unearned medals, but mere claims of being decorated were beyond the reach of law enforcement.

The House of Representatives has more than once voted to name a post office after men who claimed awards they never received. The Air Force named an award after a man who falsely claimed to have survived the Bataan Death March and been awarded the Silver Star in World War II. The Boxing Writers of America named its perseverance award after the late Pat Putnam of Sports Illustrated because of his made-up tale of surviving a Chinese prisoner of war camp in the Korean War and receiving a Navy Cross.

The Stolen Valor Act aimed to solve that problem, and garnered significant support in Congress during a time of war.

"The admiration and respect for the military increased dramatically after 9/11 and the false claims, as well," said Thomas A. Cottone Jr., a retired FBI agent who investigated phony award cases.

Alvarez made his claims by way of introducing himself as an elected member of the Three Valleys Municipal Water District in Pomona, Calif. There is nothing to suggest that he received anything in exchange or that listeners especially believed him.

Even Alvarez' lawyers acknowledged their client sometimes has trouble telling the truth. "Xavier Alvarez lied," they declare in the first sentence of their Supreme Court brief and go on to recount six separate lies in the next few lines.

He lied when he claimed he played hockey for the Detroit Red Wings, married a Mexican starlet who made paparazzi swoon, was an engineer, rescued the American ambassador during the Iranian hostage crisis and was shot when he went back for the U.S. flag. Alvarez also lied, they said, when he talked about his military service.

But the lies Alvarez told harmed no one, they said, so what he did couldn't be considered fraud.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco struck down the law as an unconstitutional restraint on free speech and said the government might instead invest in an awards database that would make it harder for people to lay claim to medals they never won. Last month, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver upheld the law in a separate case, saying the First Amendment does not always protect false statements.

The issue might never have reached this stage if not for the efforts of Sterner, and her husband, Doug.

He is a decorated Vietnam veteran who has made it his work in recent years to ensure that service members get the recognition they deserve and expose those who falsely claim acts of heroism under fire. Rather than wait for the government to act, Doug Sterner has entered nearly 100,000 award citations since Civil War in his online database, including all 3,475 Medal of Honor winners in U.S. history. His archive is used by the Military Times newspapers, published by Gannett Co.

Pam Sterner went back to school in her early 40s at Colorado State University in Pueblo, Colo. In a political science course, she wrote a paper that grew out of her husband's frustrations over phony award claimants whose worst punishment was public embarrassment. That paper eventually led to the Stolen Valor Act.

Doug Sterner's database did not save Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, from some embarrassment when he invited cameras and reporters to watch him pin medals on an elderly Korean War veteran in June.

The veteran, Myron Brown of Utah, said his Distinguished Service Cross and Silver Star were awarded belatedly, and he asked Chaffetz to present them to him publicly.

After the ceremony took place, Sterner and others raised questions about the medals and the Pentagon confirmed to Chaffetz in December that they were not authentic.

"Others have been burned by this. I have too, but I want to solve the problem," Chaffetz told the Salt Lake Tribune. He is planning a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee he leads to explore creating a government-run awards database.

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Online:

Military Times Hall of Valor database

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