02-28-2024  2:00 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Amid Fentanyl Crisis, Oregon Lawmakers Propose More Funding for Opioid Addiction Medication in Jails

Democrats are looking to counterbalance restoring criminal penalties for possession with expanding access to treatment for a potentially growing number of people in the criminal justice system. The proposal would create a million grant fund for jails looking to provide opioid addiction medication. Federal data shows only 24% of jails provide such medication to people with prior prescriptions.

KGW Apologizes After Airing Racist Image

Television station KGW says it deeply regrets inadvertently showing a racist image during a segment called “The Good Stuff,” which invited viewers to share “cheesy, silly, or memorable” photos from the past. The 1950s image showed children throwing balls towards a sign prominently displaying a racial slur. KGW apologised for “the profound hurt this image inflicted upon our viewers and staff, particularly members of our Black community.” Leaders of the Portland NAACP chapter said they were appalled

Rep. Blumenauer Talks Retirement from Congress and His Plans to Help Put Portland Back Together

U.S. Representative for Oregon has held his seat for nearly 30 years.

NEWS BRIEFS

Governor Kotek Announces Director of Equity and Racial Justice

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Black Community Input Helps Fuel George Park Project

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Renewal of School Local Option Levy Will be on May Ballot

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Wyden, Merkley Announce $70,000 for the Oregon Food Bank

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Lawsuit seeks up to .5M over allegations that Oregon nurse replaced fentanyl drip with tap water

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — The first lawsuit brought amid reports that a nurse at a southern Oregon hospital replaced intravenous fentanyl drips with tap water seeks up to .5 million on behalf of the estate of a 65-year-old man who died. The wrongful death suit was filed Monday against...

Bill to set minimum marriage age to 18 in Washington state heads to governor

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A law to establish 18 as the minimum marriage age in Washington state is headed to the governor's desk for his signature. State lawmakers in the House and Senate passed House Bill 1455 this session after the measure stalled in the Senate last year and other...

East leads Missouri against No. 24 Florida after 33-point game

Missouri Tigers (8-19, 0-14 SEC) at Florida Gators (19-8, 9-5 SEC) Gainesville, Florida; Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. EST FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK LINE: Gators -13; over/under is 154 BOTTOM LINE: Missouri visits the No. 24 Florida Gators after Sean East scored 33 points...

Vanderbilt visits Arkansas after Battle's 42-point game

Vanderbilt Commodores (7-20, 2-12 SEC) at Arkansas Razorbacks (14-13, 5-9 SEC) Fayetteville, Arkansas; Tuesday, 9 p.m. EST FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK LINE: Razorbacks -10; over/under is 144.5 BOTTOM LINE: Arkansas hosts the Vanderbilt Commodores after Khalif...

OPINION

Message from Commissioner Jesse Beason: February is 'Black History and Futures Month'

I am honored to join the Office of Sustainability and to co-sponsor a proclamation to mark “Black History and Futures Month” ...

Ending Unfair Contracts Harming Minority Businesses Will Aid Gov. Kotek’s Affordable Housing Goals

Senate Bill 1575 will protect small businesses from state and local government’s unfair contract practices while also allowing the building industry to help the governor meet her affordable housing project goals. ...

February is American Heart Month

This month is a time to recognize that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, especially in the African American community ...

Thrilling History of Black Excellence in Our National Parks

In every facet of American life -from exploration; conquest; defense; economy; resistance; conservation and the pursuit of human rights – I can show you a unit of the National Park System where the event took place, where African Americans made the...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Biden administration taps 6M to fund clean energy for Native American tribes and rural areas

The federal government will fund 17 projects across the U.S. to expand access to renewable energy on Native American reservations and in other rural areas, the Biden administration announced Tuesday. The 6 million plan will pay for solar, battery storage and hydropower projects in...

San Francisco apologizes to Black residents for decades of racist policies

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Supervisors in San Francisco formally apologized Tuesday to African Americans and their descendants for the city’s role in perpetuating racism and discrimination, with several stating that this was just the start of reparations for Black residents and not the end. ...

A work stoppage to support a mechanic who found a noose is snarling school bus service in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Black mechanic for the company that provides school bus services for the St. Louis school district said he found a noose at his workstation, leading at least 100 drivers to stop work in a show of support and NAACP leaders to call for an investigation into whether it was a hate...

ENTERTAINMENT

A trio of warming spices makes this beefy Egyptian omelet dinner-worthy

Omelets often are served at breakfast or brunch in the U.S., but in plenty of cuisines the dinner table is fair game, too. Which also means you're not limited to American-style omelets, which can be overly cheesy, greasy and salty. We keep things lighter and more flavorful with...

Orchids as muse: Flowers and fashion mix inside the NY Botanical Garden's conservatory

“The Orchid Show: Florals in Fashion” is a whimsical mix of fashion and flower creations, a spring-like respite from winter at the New York Botanical Garden. The show includes multitudes of colorful, diverse orchids and accessorizing plants. And with the botanical world as muse,...

Wendy Williams thanks fans for 'overwhelming' response to dementia diagnosis

NEW YORK (AP) — Former talk show host Wendy Williams is thanking well-wishers for their response to the revelation she has been diagnosed with dementia and ahead of the airing of Lifetime documentary about her struggles. “I want to say I have immense gratitude for the love and...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Idaho set to execute Thomas Eugene Creech, one of the longest-serving death row inmates in the US

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The hour of Thomas Eugene Creech’s death has been set, and it is rapidly approaching. ...

Thousands expected at memorial service for 3 slain Minnesota first responders

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Supreme Court to hear challenge to bump stock ban in high court's latest gun case

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Barbuda residents win appeal to protect land from development in potential precedent for Caribbean

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A top court in London ruled Tuesday that two residents of the tiny Caribbean island...

Warlord involved in hundreds of murders repatriated to Colombia after serving US drug sentence

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombian warlord Salvatore Mancuso was repatriated Tuesday after serving a drug...

EU poised to OK major plan to meet climate goals and better protect nature despite farmer protests

STRASBOURG, France (AP) — The European Union is on the brink of approving a major plan to fight climate change...

Mitch Stacy the Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- A federal judge sentenced Grammy-winning reggae singer Buju Banton to 10 years in prison Thursday, the lowest sentence legally allowed for his role in a large cocaine trafficking deal in 2009.

The 38-year-old Jamaican recording artist got a break when U.S. District Judge James S. Moody threw out a gun conviction, which would have added another five years to the minimum sentence. Banton's attorney, David Markus, said with time already served and good behavior, he could be out in six years.

In a statement he wrote after the sentencing, Banton - whose given name is Mark Myrie - thanked family, fans and supporters from around the world who flooded the court file with letters of support.

"The days that lie ahead are filled with despair, but I have courage and grace and I'm hopeful, and that is sufficient to carry me through," he said in the statement, which was read by Markus. "The man is not dead. Don't call him a ghost."

Banton, dressed in gray jail scrubs and shackled at the ankles, did not speak in court and did not react when Moody announced the sentence. The tall, thin, dreadlocked singer blew a kiss and waved to his subdued supporters as he was led away.

A jury found him guilty in February of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and using a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking offense. Moody threw out the gun charge, acknowledging that Banton had no idea others involved in the conspiracy were carrying guns, which was the basis for the charge. He was not convicted of carrying a weapon himself.

Markus contended that Banton deserved a lower sentence because of his limited participation in the drug buy, his charitable work in Jamaica and his otherwise clean record.

But prosecutor James Preston argued for a longer term, contending that the cocaine deal would not have gone down without Banton's participation. Moody agreed that Banton's participation was key to the deal but declined to increase the sentence.

Preston acknowledged it was a sad day for Banton's fans but noted the distinction between the joyful reggae artist Buju Banton and the drug dealer Mark Myrie.

"He has brought this sadness to these people," Preston said in court, acknowledging Banton's supporters who filled the gallery. Preston declined to comment afterward.

Preston argued during trial that Banton portrayed himself as a broker of drug deals in several conversations with a confidential informant. Preston said Banton thought he was getting involved in a "no-risk" deal in which he would introduce a friend to a confidential informant and then collect money from drug transactions.

Prosecutors acknowledged that Banton did not put any money into the drug deal nor did he ever profit from it. Markus characterized his client as "a big talker" who admitted to trying to impress the confidential informant but wasn't involved in any drug deal.

Much of the case hinged on meetings and phone calls that were video- and audiotaped by the informant, who was working with the Drug Enforcement Administration - and who made $50,000 in commission after the bust.

In one video, Banton could be seen tasting cocaine in a Sarasota warehouse on Dec. 8, 2009. But he was not present during the actual drug deal on Dec. 10 that led two others to be arrested. Those two men later pleaded guilty.

Banton testified that the informant badgered him after they met on a trans-Atlantic flight in July 2009 and insisted they meet to set up a cocaine purchase. He said he was so uninterested in the informant's proposals that after they met twice, Banton didn't return the man's phone calls for months.

Markus said he plans to appeal.

"This fight is not over," Markus said. "We will keep fighting for him. Mark Myrie is my brother, and I'm going to keep fighting until they tell me to stop."

Among the dozens of letters of support in the court file were those from several of Banton's 15 children wrote, a Jamaican government official, an NBA player, other reggae artists and actor Danny Glover, who called Banton a "role model, philanthropist and spiritual leader in the community."

"Your honor, Mark Myrie is not a drug dealer," Glover wrote. "Society would not benefit from his incarceration."

Banton's oldest son, also named Mark Myrie, wrote that his father "puts hard work, sweat and tears into his music and that is what (he) `puts on the table,' it has never been drugs....The situation is just an example of our mere imperfections as people, being at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Banton remains wildly popular in Jamaica, and his trial - his second over the drug accusations - was packed with supporters that included other well-known reggae artists. The first trial ended in a mistrial last year after the jury deadlocked.

Shortly before his conviction in February, he won a Grammy for best reggae album for his work entitled "Before the Dawn."

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The Skanner Foundation's 38th Annual MLK Breakfast