03-31-2020  7:37 pm   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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Inslee: Washington Needs More Coronavirus Test Supplies

The governor suggested the shutdown of most businesses and extreme social distancing would likely have to be extended to fight the disease

Trump Approves Major Disaster Declaration for Oregon

Gov. Brown praised the declaration, but says we still have significant requests pending, "first and foremost Oregon's request for more personal protective equipment from the national stockpile"

Vote by May 19: Oregon’s Primary Election Continues as Planned

Oregon’s vote-by-mail system keeps May Primary on schedule

A Black Woman Is Leading The Charge To Create A Vaccine For The Coronavirus

Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett and her team have begun running the first human trials of the vaccine in Seattle


Oregon Medicaid Program Gains Flexibility to Better Serve Low-income Oregonians During Pandemic

Nearly one in four Oregonians currently receives health coverage through OHP. ...

Washington Elementary School Offers Food-Bearing Container Gardens During Meal Distribution

Large pots with food-bearing plants will be available for families to take home on Wednesday, April 1, from Catlin Elementary in...

Waterfront Blues Festival Cancelled for 2020

Organizers say the decision to cancel the popular festival was not taken lightly ...

NAACP Calls COVID-19 Stimulus Package a Necessary Step, but Calls Upon Congress to Do More

The NAACP says in providing future relief, Congress must prioritize people first, not corporations ...

CARES Act Must Prioritize Nation’s Most Vulnerable Communities

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law says the new bill puts the interests of corporations above the burdens faced by...

'I heard the roar': Big earthquake hits Idaho

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A large earthquake struck north of Boise Tuesday evening, with people across a large area reporting shaking. The U.S. Geological Survey reports the magnitude 6.5 temblor struck just before 6 p.m. It was centered 73 miles (118 kilometers) northeast of Meridian, near the...

Oregon schools to start distance learning on April 13

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Facing an expected closure through the end of the academic year, schools across Oregon have been told to begin distance learning on April 13. Some schools are already handing out smart tablets and Wi-Fi devices to students.Gov. Kate Brown closed schools through April 28,...

The Latest: 2 Madison Square Garden boxing cards called off

The Latest on the coronavirus outbreak's affect on sports around the globe (all times EDT):10 p.m.Two boxing cards at Madison Square Garden have been called off because of the coronavirus outbreak.A few hours after announcing the fights would proceed without crowds, promoter Bob Arum said Thursday...

Former AD, All-American center Dick Tamburo dies at 90

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Dick Tamburo, an athletic director at three major schools and an All-American center at Michigan State, has died. He was 90.Michigan State announced that Tamburo died Monday.A native of New Kensington, Pennsylvania, Tamburo served as the athletic director at Texas...


The ACA Has Never Been More Critical

Today I'm honoring the 10th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act being signed into law. ...

NAACP/Black Community: A Model for Resiliency

As America enters perhaps the most uncertain period in modern history, we will all be tested in new and unpredictable ways. ...

What the Government Can Do Now to Lessen the Impact of COVID-19

Dr. Roger Stark says during this pandemic the administration must give states more flexibility ...

The Homelessness Crisis – We Are Better Than This

Julianne Malveaux says this is not just about homelessness. It is about an economic crisis that has made affordable housing, jobs and economic security difficult to obtain ...


Judge: Man linked to white supremacist group to stay in jail

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — A Maryland man linked by the FBI to a white supremacist group and arrested ahead of a gun rights rally in Virginia must remain in federal custody while he awaits trial, a judge ruled Tuesday.U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Boardman refused to set bond for Brian Mark...

Democratic lawmakers call for racial data in virus testing

Democratic lawmakers are calling out an apparent lack of racial data that they say is needed to monitor and address disparities in the national response to the coronavirus outbreak.In a letter sent Friday to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Ayanna...

Man, 72, dies of injuries 3 months after Hanukkah stabbings

MONSEY, N.Y. (AP) — A man who was among the five people stabbed during a Hanukkah celebration north of New York City has died three months after the attack, according to an Orthodox Jewish organization and community liaison with a local police department.Josef Neumann, 72, died Sunday night,...


CNN's Cuomo says he has coronavirus, has shown symptoms

NEW YORK (AP) — CNN's Chris Cuomo has tested positive for the coronavirus but promised Tuesday to stay at work and do his prime-time show from the basement of his home.Cuomo, whose brother New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has logged just as much television airtime lately with daily briefings on...

Finances hurting? Watch 'Let's Make a Deal'

NEW YORK (AP) — Instead of watching their own finances crater, shut-in television viewers tuned in to the game show “Let's Make a Deal” in record numbers last week.TV programs across the dial recorded superlatives last week with a captive audience of millions of Americans told...

'It is brutal': Hollywood's rank-and-file on the pandemic

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The red carpets are rolled up in storage, the A-listers holed up in mansions, multiplex doors are closed. For now, at least, the coronavirus has shut down much of Hollywood. And for the entertainment industry's many one-gig-at-a-time staff and freelance workers — a...


AP FACT CHECK: Trump's misfires on virus death rates, tests

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing a grim reality of surging coronavirus cases, President Donald Trump is making...

AP PHOTOS: Indian migrants walk hundreds of miles to go home

NEW DELHI (AP) — They were hungry. Some had not eaten for days. Others survived on water and biscuits.But...

A guide to surviving financially as the bills come due

The coronavirus has dealt a financial blow to millions of Americans and now April's bills are coming due.The good...

Un-baaaaa-lievable: Goats invade locked-down Welsh town

LONDON (AP) — Un-baaaaa-lievable: This wild bunch is completely ignoring rules on social distancing.With...

Royal no more: Harry and Meghan start uncertain new chapter

LONDON (AP) — Prince Harry and his wife Meghan officially make the transition Tuesday from senior members...

Help heads to NYC as experts predict over 100,000 US deaths

NEW YORK (AP) — With refrigerated morgue trucks parked on New York City's streets to collect the surging...

By The Skanner News

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Good thing Octavia Spencer is an actress. She needed all her stagecraft to hide a horrified look when her friend, Kathryn Stockett, asked her to read her new novel, "The Help.''
Stockett told Spencer she based a character on her.
"My face just got hot,'' Spencer says, "and I thought, 'What are you talking about?'''
It got worse. The character was a short, loud Black maid who spoke in a Southern dialect and never seemed able to keep a job because of her big mouth, which didn't go over well in the White neighborhoods of Jackson in the early 1960s.
"And I thought to myself, 'If this is Mammy from 'Gone With the Wind,' I am just going to call her and tell her,''' she recalls. "I think by Page 3, I realized what she was doing and I realized how intelligent these women were.
"Oh, honey, to me it's an amazing journey.''
Reactions such as Spencer's are becoming common as "The Help,'' Stockett's debut novel, creeps up the best-seller lists after an early February debut. The premise of the book usually causes an immediate visceral reaction, especially if readers know Stockett is White. After a few pages, though, most readers are hooked.
Entertainment Weekly reviewer Karen Valby called the book's backstory potentially "cringeworthy'' before giving it high praise and an A-minus. Industry standard Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review and in The New York Times, Janet Maslin called "The Help'' a "button-pushing, soon to be wildly popular novel.'' Positive vibes are viral on the Web.
"It's exciting to see someone get this kind of attention for a first novel,'' Stockett's agent, Susan Ramer, says. "This is very rare.''
Not bad for a manuscript that was shunned as Stockett shopped it to agents. She stopped counting at 45 rejection letters, but kept at it until Ramer snapped it up after reading a few pages. What others didn't see -- or care to read -- was immediately evident to Ramer.
"Reading it, you say, 'I've got to have this,''' Ramer says.
She was able to sell the book in a matter of days. Publisher Amy Einhorn chose it to launch her own imprint at G.P. Putnam's Sons.
"We editors like to say that the books we publish are wonderful,'' Einhorn says. "If we're being truthful, the fact is books of this level don't come along often. Everything I keep hearing from people is, 'I can't believe that's the first book you launched your imprint with because it's so amazing.' It was kind of a no-brainer.''
"The Help'' tells the story of three women during the formative years of the civil rights movement in Mississippi, where it was dangerous to push the boundaries of segregation for both Blacks and Whites -- though for very different reasons.
So when Black maids Aibileen and Minny begin to work with a White woman named Skeeter on a book about their experiences as domestic help, they fear retribution ranging from firings to beatings. For Skeeter, an awkward, hairdo-challenged University of Mississippi grad who has never had a boyfriend until midway through the novel, the penalty is ostracization from normal White Jackson society; she is branded as one of those "integrationists.''
In a sense, it's a story of the movement behind the civil rights movement. But it is much more. At turns hilarious and heart-wrenching, the story feels like a pitch-perfect rendering of a time when Black people weren't even second-class citizens in a state where anti-integration forces fought back with both restrictive laws and violence.
The 39-year-old Stockett was born in 1969, a few years after the novel's events. Her family had a maid named Demetrie, who helped raise Stockett before Demetrie died in the mid-1980s. It wasn't until much later that the author got a better understanding of the climate in which she grew up.
"I was young and dumb,'' she said in a recent interview from Los Angeles where she was on book tour.
"I'm so embarrassed to admit this ... it took me 20 years to really realize the irony of the situation that we would tell anybody, 'Oh, she's just like a part of our family,' and that we loved the domestics that worked for our family so dearly, and yet they had to use the bathroom on the outside of the house.
"And you know what's amazing? My grandfather's still alive, the house is still there. Demetrie died when I was 16, and I don't know that anyone else has been in that bathroom since then.''
It is the issue of separate bathrooms that spurs Aibileen to help Skeeter with her book. She wants to keep her job and her reputation as a skilled surrogate mother but she can no longer live with the idea that the woman whose children she raises thinks she carries diseases that White people don't.
The stories that Aibileen and her friends tell Skeeter are funny, sad, poignant and terrifying, and are filled with consternation at the contradictory ways -- and prejudices -- of White people.
Mary Coleman, a political science professor at Jackson State University who grew up in the rural Mississippi town of Forest, found the author's portrayal of the relationships between White families and their Black help authentic.
"I grew up in a community where tons of mothers provided domestic help to White families and the twists and turns of life in a largely segregated town could be learned sooner rather than later if there was a relative who worked in a White home,'' Coleman says. "We grew up understanding that the world looks very segregated physically speaking, but the lines or walls weren't as high as people imagined because of these whispered conversations in White homes that were, in fact, later heard in Black homes.''
The book also rang true to Vickie Greenlee, a 66-year-old travel agency owner, who has been a member of the Junior League for decades. Stockett skewers the Junior League of Jackson in "The Help.'' Its president, Miss Hilly, serves as the book's antagonist and its members, though genteel, steadfastly reinforce segregation _ she starts a project that all good White Jackson families have separate bathrooms for Blacks, for example.
Greenlee says the Junior League is very different today, but that Stockett captured the times well -- well enough to raise a few eyebrows when Greenlee suggested they choose "The Help'' for their book club.
"In describing the book to them, a couple of them said, 'Oooh, I don't know,''' Greenlee says. "But when they read it, they thought she did an excellent job. A lot of that was very relevant. And the relationships with our maids, we felt like they were part of our families. Then again they didn't take issue with us or didn't question what we did.''
Stockett had no idea anyone would ever read the book when she started. She began writing it while taking a break from her job as a magazine consultant in New York City shortly after the terror attacks destroyed her hard drive and her previous attempts at fiction, which began when she majored in creative writing and English at the University of Alabama.
"We couldn't e-mail, we couldn't even make a telephone call, a land line or cell phone, for about two days, so I just got really homesick and really it had been a lot of years since I had spoken to Demetrie,'' Stockett recalls. "I remember wishing that I could just talk to Demetrie and hear her voice again. So I started working on this story ... trying to escape the media and all the mess on TV. It started as a short story and just continued on and on from there.''
Stockett is continually surprised at the reaction to the book. It's one of those rare books that gets pushed by both small booksellers and the big chains. It's No. 1 on the Southern Independent Booksellers Association list and edged onto The New York Times and Publishers Weekly lists two weeks ago.
"I think it's because of this word-of-mouth phenomenon because people begin engaging one another in discussions about how they grew up, what their feelings were about race differences in the '60s and whether or not they relate to this kind of story,'' she says. "I've gotten so many e-mails from readers who are sharing their stories.''

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