03-20-2023  8:49 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

The Big Problem for Endangered Orcas? Inbreeding

People have taken many steps in recent decades to help the Pacific Northwest's endangered killer whales, which have long suffered from starvation, pollution and the legacy of having many of their number captured for display in marine parks.

Amazon Cuts 9,000 More Jobs, Bringing 2023 Total to 27,000

The job cuts would mark the second largest round of layoffs in the company's history

Starbucks New CEO Laxman Narasimhan Takes His Seat

Narasimhan succeeds longtime Starbucks leader Howard Schultz, who came out of retirement last spring to serve as interim CEO while the company searched for a new chief executive.

With Overdoses up, States Look at Harsher Fentanyl Penalties

State lawmakers nationwide are responding to the deadliest overdose crisis in U.S. history by pushing harsher penalties for possessing fentanyl and other powerful lab-made opioids that are connected to about 70,000 deaths a year

NEWS BRIEFS

Tiffani Penson Announces Campaign for PCC Board, Zone 2

Penson is proud of the accomplishments of PCC ...

Black Bag Speaker Series: Oregon Black Pioneers Historic Photograph Collection

OBP will present the history and context of a photo album, found in a house located in historically Black North Portland, that was...

The Making of American Whiteness Book Presentation and Signing to be Held at OHS

The Making of American Whiteness book will be presented by Dr. Carmen P. Thompson, in conversation with Dr. Darrell Millner on...

Support for Survivors of Child Sex Trafficking Unanimously Passes Oregon Senate

SB 745 will require juvenile departments to screen for survivors of sex trafficking, connect identified survivors with critical...

Reusable Food Container Bill Passes Oregon Senate

SB 545 will allow restaurants to fill consumer-owned containers with food ...

Oregon bill on abortion, gender-affirming care sparks debate

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon bill that would greatly expand access to reproductive health and gender-affirming care drew emotional testimony on Monday, mirroring the culture war debates over abortion, gender identity and parents' rights that are playing out in state legislatures across the...

Deputy shot, wounded in Seattle during eviction, 1 dead

SEATTLE (AP) — A King County Sheriff’s deputy was shot in Seattle Monday while trying to serve an eviction notice, and a person inside the residence was later found dead, police said. The Seattle Police Department said on Twitter around 10:30 a.m. that a person was barricaded in...

The maddest March ever? Underdogs head to the Sweet 16

We know you're upset. Underdogs have blown up every bracket in the country. An upside of the upsets: perhaps the maddest March ever. Defending national champion Kansas and fellow No. 1 seed Purdue are gone — the Boilermakers with a slice of unwanted history. The Sweet...

March Madness betting guide: Upsets shuffle favorites' odds

LAS VEGAS (AP) — March Madness isn't just about filling out — and later trashing — brackets. There are more ways to bet the field in the NCAA Tournament, an event that will consume basketball fans over the next three weeks. Here's a look at the favorites, underdogs and long shots. ...

OPINION

Celebrating 196 Years of The Black Press

It was on March 17, 1827, at a meeting of “Freed Negroes” in New York City, that Samuel Cornish, a Presbyterian minister, and John Russwurn, the first Negro college graduate in the United States, established the negro newspaper. ...

DEQ Announces Suspension of Oregon’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Program

The state’s popular incentive for drivers to switch to electric vehicles is scheduled to pause in May ...

FHA Makes Housing More Affordable for 850,000 Borrowers

Savings tied to median market home prices ...

State Takeover Schemes Threaten Public Safety

Blue cities in red states, beware: conservatives in state government may be coming for your police department. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

2nd officer in inmate's fatal beating gets same 20-year term

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The second of three former correctional officers sentenced in the fatal beating of a state inmate received a 20-year prison term Monday, the same as a co-conspirator despite a judge's declaration he could have stopped the attack as the senior officer. U.S....

Montana senator wants to block mandatory diversity training

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Republican lawmaker in Montana wants to prohibit mandatory diversity training for state employees with a bill whose language matches a Florida law that is temporarily blocked by the courts. The proposed “Montana Individual Freedom Act,” would prohibit...

Silicon Valley Bank collapse concerns founders of color

In the hours after some of Silicon Valley Bank’s biggest customers started pulling out their money, a WhatsApp group of startup founders who are immigrants of color ballooned to more than 1,000 members. Questions flowed as the bank’s financial status worsened. Some desperately...

ENTERTAINMENT

Celebrity birthdays for the week of March 26-April 1

Celebrity birthdays for the week of March 26-April 1: March 26: Actor Alan Arkin is 89. Singer Diana Ross is 79. Singer Steven Tyler of Aerosmith is 75. Singer-actor Vicki Lawrence is 74. Actor Ernest Thomas (“Everybody Hates Chris,” ″What’s Happening”) is 74. Actor Martin...

Review: A writer investigates a UFO cult in East Texas

“The Donut Legion,” by Joe R. Lansdale (Mulholland) Charlie Garner, a former private detective turned novelist, was staring through his telescope at the rural East Texas sky late one night when he received an unexpected visit from his ex-wife, Meg. Or did he? ...

Anthony Fauci documentary on PBS covers a career of crises

NEW YORK (AP) — There's a moment in the new PBS documentary about Dr. Anthony Fauci when a protester holds up a handmade sign reading, “Dr. Fauci, You Are Killing Us." It says something about Fauci that it's not initially clear when that sign was waved in anger — in the 1980s as...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

'Ted Lasso' visits White House, promotes mental health care

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fictional soccer coach Ted Lasso used a White House visit Monday to encourage people, even in...

March Madness arrives in Vegas after years of avoiding it

LAS VEGAS (AP) — March Madness has long been a huge draw for gamblers who came to Las Vegas to place their bets...

Miami Beach struggles with spring break violence, big crowds

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) — For the third year in a row, Miami Beach finds itself struggling with spring break...

Ukraine: Volunteer specialist doctors run clinics near front

KHRESTYSHCHE, Ukraine (AP) — In a cramped municipal building in this former front-line village, its front window...

France ordered to curb mass dolphin deaths in fishing nets

PARIS (AP) — France’s highest administrative body on Monday ordered the government to better protect...

Former Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou will visit China

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Former Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou will visit China next week in what a spokesman called...

Jennifer Liberto CNN Money

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) -- Budget cuts at the Internal Revenue Service are causing long lines for the poor and elderly seeking free tax preparation advice, lengthier hold times for IRS help line calls and delays in tax refunds for identify theft victims.

With a hiring freeze preventing the IRS from replacing workers who retire or leave for other jobs, existing staffers say they're feeling the pressure of lack of manpower, according to the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents federal employees at the tax collection agency.

The IRS has lost 10,000 employees to attrition in just the past two years, or over 9% of its total workforce.

"We are doing as best we can with a staff of 14 that used to be a staff of 32," said one IRS employee about working conditions in a survey conducted by the union.

In an effort to prevent additional budget cuts from wreaking havoc during the height of the tax filing season, the IRS pushed back employee furloughs until the summer, after the April 15 deadline for filing tax returns.

Forced cuts have already begun to take root at dozens of other federal agencies, triggered on March 1 by $85 billion in automatic government spending cuts. Tens of thousands of defense workers have lost jobs and federal public defenders have already started to take unpaid time off at home.

The IRS has been trimming costs in preparation for the forced budget cuts, just like other agencies. That's meant that staff levels have dwindled at the 389 Taxpayer Assistance Centers nationwide. Typically, these centers offer tax and retirement counseling for the elderly and help the poor prepare their returns for free.

The National Taxpayer Advocate estimated that these centers will serve about 5.4 million people by this year's tax filing deadline, down from 6.4 million in 2011, according to a report.

IRS workers told the union that taxpayers are lining up outside the centers "beginning in the pre-dawn hours" before the assistance centers open, according to the union survey.

Budget cuts and lack of staff have increased wait times for those seeking IRS help by phone to 18 minutes on average this tax season. That's up from 13 minutes in 2011, according to the National Taxpayer Advocate's report.

The likelihood that a caller would get a live IRS employee on the phone for tax questions also fell, according to the report. This year only 63% of taxpayers who call the IRS are expected to successfully get help, down from 70% of callers in 2011. More taxpayers just hang up in frustration, the report found.

Identity theft victims are among the worst hit -- having to wait six months to a year if they're seeking tax refunds, the union said.

The situation could only get worse. Currently, IRS employees are facing between five and seven days of unpaid time off, with the first furlough possibly kicking in around Memorial Day, May 27.

The agency has also been cutting costs for travel, training, facilities and supplies, according to a February memo from IRS acting Commissioner Steven Miller.

The survey was produced from an analysis of thousands of written responses by IRS employees who wrote essays explaining how budget cuts were affecting taxpayer services, said union spokeswoman Dina Long.

A request for comment from Treasury Department was not returned.

 

MLK Breakfast 2023

Photos from The Skanner Foundation's 37th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast.