12-03-2020  6:35 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Black Mental Health Oregon Offers Free Computers, Internet Access

Organization wants to help elderly and those with mental illness stay connected

Black Restaurant Owners Keep Doors Open, Often at Great Loss

Blumenauer’s RESTAURANT Act could prove a lifeline -- if it makes it through Senate 

Merkley, Clay Propose Constitutional Amendment to Close Slavery Loophole in 13th Amendment

Indisputably racist exception permitting slavery as punishment for crime has fueled systemic racism in criminal justice for 150 years

Police Guide That Calls BLM a Terrorist Group Draws Outrage

The document contains misinformation and inflammatory rhetoric that could incite officers against protesters and people of color, critics said

NEWS BRIEFS

Commissioner Fritz Directs Portland Parks & Rec to Remove the Name 'Custer Park'

The park at SW 21st Avenue and Capitol Hill Road will temporarily be known as “A Park” as PP&R engages with the community to...

Oregonians May Qualify for Help Paying for Health Insurance

The deadline to apply for coverage is Tuesday, December 15. ...

Additional Food Benefits To Be Distributed in December

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Multnomah County Opens Applications for Restaurant and Food Cart COVID-19 Relief Grants

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OHS Shares Update on Afro-American Heritage Bicentennial Commemorative Quilt Conservation Efforts

The historical quilt was damaged during a vandalism incident at the Oregon Historical Society’s downtown facility last month ...

Fatal shooting of Black teen roils liberal town in Oregon

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The killing of a young Black man last month by a white man who complained that he was playing loud music has roiled Ashland, Oregon, forcing the liberal college town that is famous for its Shakespeare festival to take a hard look at race relations.The death of Aidan...

18th person with virus in Oregon Corrections custody dies

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A man who tested positive for the coronavirus while incarcerated at the Oregon State Correctional Institution in Salem has died, state officials said. The state Department of Corrections said in a news release Thursday that the man described only as between 80 and 90 years...

Missouri takes on ex-coach Odom, Arkansas in rivalry game

Missouri quarterback Conor Bazelak should have a pretty good idea how to dissect the Arkansas defense on Saturday.His old coach is the one running it.Barry Odom didn't wander far after he was fired by as the head coach of the Tigers late last year, accepting a job as the defensive coordinator under...

Vanderbilt women's soccer player receives SEC football honor

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Southeastern Conference has named Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller as the league's co-special teams player of the week after she made history becoming the first woman to play in a Power 5 conference football game. Fuller shared the award Monday with Florida punt...

OPINION

All Eyes on Georgia

Senate control is crucial for the nation ...

Thanksgiving 2020: Grateful for New Hope and New Direction in Our Nation

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No Time to Rest

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Could America Learn a COVID-19 Lesson from Rwanda?

As of October 28, in a country of just over twelve million people, they have experienced only 35 deaths from the coronavirus ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Fatal shooting of Black teen roils liberal town in Oregon

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The killing of a young Black man last month by a white man who complained that he was playing loud music has roiled Ashland, Oregon, forcing the liberal college town that is famous for its Shakespeare festival to take a hard look at race relations.The death of Aidan...

Suit: Tennessee makes it too hard to restore voting rights

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Rights group says Egypt has freed 3 of its arrested staffers

CAIRO (AP) — Three Egyptian rights workers who were arrested and slapped with terrorism-related charges last month were freed on Thursday after an outcry over the government’s crackdown on one of the last rights groups still operating in the country.The government of President...

ENTERTAINMENT

Holiday movies, music specials arrive to light a bleak year

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Theater uses its creativity to defy pandemic and stage shows

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Hillary, Chelsea Clinton to tell unheralded heroes' stories

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, are forming a film production company that they say will tell the stories of people whose voices are often overlooked. Their first project of their HiddenLight company is to be a documentary series called “Gutsy...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Theater uses its creativity to defy pandemic and stage shows

NEW YORK (AP) — There's theater on Broadway. You just have to adjust your sights.More than a hundred blocks...

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Q&A: Britain's OK of COVID-19 vaccine sparks speedy debate

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S. Koreans take college entrance exam amid viral resurgence

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of masked students in South Korea, including 41 confirmed...

Italians told to celebrate Christmas at home to fight virus

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MLK Breakfast 2021 Save the Date
Robert Burns AP National Security Writer

President Barack Obama confers with National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, right, Chief of Staff Bill Daley, left, and Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, following a conference call on Libya with his national security team, in El Salvador, March 23. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)



WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Pentagon is about to pull its attack planes out of the international air campaign in Libya, hoping NATO partners can take up the slack.

The announcement Thursday drew incredulous reactions from some in Congress who wondered aloud why the Obama administration would bow out of a key element of the strategy for protecting Libyan civilians and crippling Moammar Gadhafi's army.

"Odd," "troubling" and "unnerving" were among critical comments by senators pressing for an explanation of the announcement by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen that American combat missions will end Saturday.

"Your timing is exquisite," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said sarcastically, alluding to Gadhafi's military advances this week and the planned halt to U.S. airstrikes. "I believe this would be a profound mistake with potentially disastrous consequences."

Gates and Mullen, in back-to-back appearances before the House and Senate armed services committees, also forcefully argued against putting the U.S. in the role of arming or training Libyan rebel forces, while suggesting it might be a job for Arab or other countries. The White House has said repeatedly that it has not ruled out arming the rebels, who have retreated pell-mell this week under the pressure of a renewed eastern offensive by Gadhafi's better-armed and better-trained ground troops.

"My view would be, if there is going to be that kind of assistance to the opposition, there are plenty of sources for it other than the United States," Gates said.

The White House press secretary, Jay Carney, said he saw no contradiction between Gates' remarks and President Barack Obama's statement that "he has not ruled it in or out." As yet, none of Obama's top advisers have publicly advocated a significant expansion of the U.S. role aiding the opposition.

Gates and Mullen were early skeptics of getting involved militarily in Libya, and Gates made clear Thursday that he still worries about the possibility of getting drawn into an open-ended and costly commitment. That explains in part his view that if the rebels are to receive foreign arms, that task - and the training that would necessarily go with it - should not be done by Americans.

Gates said no one should be surprised by the U.S. combat air pullback, but he called the timing "unfortunate" in light of Gadhafi's battlefield gains. He noted that the air attacks are a central feature of the overall military strategy; over time they could degrade Gadhafi's firepower to a point that he would be unable to put down a renewed uprising by opposition forces, he said.

The other major source of U.S. firepower during the two weeks of combat in Libya has been the Navy's Tomahawk cruise missile, launched from ships and submarines in the Mediterranean. None was fired overnight Thursday, U.S. defense officials said Friday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss such details.

It was not clear whether the U.S. would continue attacks with Tomahawks beyond Saturday.

The number of U.S. Navy ships involved in the campaign had shrunk to nine as of Friday, compared to 11 at the start of the operation, and it is likely to shrink further in the days ahead, other defense officials said. Among targets struck in western Libya overnight Thursday by U.S. Air Force F-15 and F-16 fighters were a radar site and a military vehicle that transports and elevates missiles into firing position, one of the defense officials said.

Mullen and Gates stressed that even though powerful combat aircraft like the side-firing AC-130 gunship and the A-10 Thunderbolt, used for close air support of friendly ground forces, will stop flying after Saturday, they will be on standby. Mullen said this means that if the rebels' situation become "dire enough," NATO's top commander could request help from the U.S. aircraft. The U.S. also has used Marine AV-8B Harrier attack jets as well as Air Force F-15 fighters and B-2 and B-1 long-range bombers.

As of Sunday, France, Britain and other NATO countries will handle the task of conducting airstrikes on Libyan military targets, Mullen said. The remaining U.S. role will be support missions such as aerial refueling, search and rescue, and aerial reconnaissance.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., suggested the pullback might jeopardize congressional support for the Libya mission.

"The idea that the AC-130s and the A-10s and American air power is grounded unless the place goes to hell is just so unnerving that I can't express it adequately," Graham said. "The only thing I would ask is, please reconsider that."

Asked by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., whether he was confident that NATO could sustain airstrikes alone, Gates replied, "They certainly have made that commitment, and we will see."

Many lawmakers were angered by what they said was the administration's lack of candor with Congress ahead of the Libya mission. Several complained that the mission is expensive and ill-defined. Gates defended it, asserting that a potential humanitarian disaster was averted when the U.S.-led intervention stopped Gadhafi's forces as they closed in on Beghazi, the de facto rebel capital in eastern Libya. Gadhafi's forces initially were driven back, but they have since regained their lost ground.

Mullen revealed that a major factor in Gadhafi's ability to drive back the rebels - essentially eliminating the territorial gains they had made last week with the help of international air strikes - was bad weather. He said it grounded most combat missions earlier this week.

Obama had made clear that once U.S. air power silenced Gadhafi's air defenses, permitting the establishment of a no-fly zone over the North African country, the U.S. would reduce its role and let NATO take the lead. On Thursday, NATO assumed control of all aspects of the international campaign - including enforcing the no-fly zone and attacking Gadhafi's military.

The U.S. now finds itself in the unusual position of a back-seat partner in the Libya operation, with no clear path to empowering the rebels. A retired Army general, James Dubick, wrote Thursday in a war commentary that a necessary next step is to place NATO combat air controllers on the ground - to include Americans - to precisely direct air power. Trainers also are needed, he wrote.

"Right now, they (the rebels) are more like `guys with guns' than an organized force and they need help," Dubick wrote. He is a former commander of U.S. training mission in Iraq and is now a senior fellow at the Institute for the Study of War, a think tank.

Mullen said Gadhafi's army had lost as much as 25 percent of its firepower, although his ground forces still outnumber the rebels by about 10-to-1.

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Associated Press writers Donna Cassata and Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.

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