02-26-2021  5:04 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Black Restaurant Week Comes to Portland

National event highlights Black-owned restaurants, cafes, and food trucks, creates countrywide database to support Black businesses

Portland Police Launch Team to Investigate Shootings

 The Enhanced Community Safety Team will be comprised of three sergeants, 12 officers and six detectives, and will staff a seven-member on-call unit to respond to shooting scenes, examine evidence, interview witnesses and do immediate follow-up investigations

Oregon National Guard Deploys As Power Outages Persist

The Oregon National Guard will go door-to-door in areas hardest hit by last weekend’s ice storm to make sure residents who have been without power for a week have enough food and water

Vancouver Drops Most Police Killing Protest Charges

Hundreds marched through the city from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1 to protest the shooting death of Kevin Peterson Jr. by two Clark County Sheriff’s Office detectives

NEWS BRIEFS

Seattle Black Artist To Be Featured in Amazon Prime Series

The Northwest African American Museum (NAAM), in Seattle, Washington, is launching a call for artist...

NIKE, Inc. and Goalsetter Partner to Increase Financial Literacy Among America’s Youth

Goalsetter uses digital platforms to engage youth and help them better understand financial well-being, while saving for their future ...

Six Trailblazing Black Judges to Discuss Overcoming Challenges Feb. 26

The online program panel judges include Justice Adrienne Nelson, the first Black justice of the Oregon Supreme Court and the first...

Launch of the Center for Black Entrepreneurship to Help Fuel Black Innovation

The facility is the first-ever academic center of its kind to assemble, educate and empower a new class of Black entrepreneurial...

Medical Centre to Screen Film and Hold Panel on Black Men in Medicine

Seattle-based Virginia Mason Franciscan Health has invited 100 students to take part in the virtual event, which aims to inspire Black...

Oregon Senate hit by another GOP boycott, now over COVID-19

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Republicans in the Oregon Senate boycotted Thursday's session, using a tactic they have employed in the past two years to assert their will by stopping work in the Democratic-led Legislature — this time over the state's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.Senate...

Rep. Herrera Beutler censured over Trump impeachment vote

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — Members of Washington's Clark County Republican party voted this week to formally censure Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, of Battle Ground, over her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump.In a rowdy gathering at a church on Tuesday, the Clark County Republican...

Ex-Cardinals coach Wilks new defensive coordinator at Mizzou

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Steve Wilks is returning to coaching as the defensive coordinator at Missouri.Wilks, who was hired by Tigers coach Eli Drinkwitz on Thursday, took last year off after spending the previous 14 seasons in the NFL. The stint was highlighted by a year as the head coach of...

OPINION

Democracy and White Privilege

“White Nationalists” who believe that America only belongs to its “White” citizens, who live and have lived according to “White Privilege” are ignoring the words of the Declaration of Independence ...

The Leadership Conference Submits Letter in Support of H.R. 40

H.R. 40 finally forces the U.S. government to recognize and make amends for the decades of economic enrichment that have benefited this nation as a result of the free labor that African slaves were forced to provide ...

Letter to the Editor Re: Zenith Energy

The time is now for Portland City Council to stop Zenith Energy’s transporting fossil fuels into and out of our city. ...

The Heroes Within Us

Black History Month, as it exists today, continues the practice of “othering” Black people in America. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

German radio station apologies for remarks about K-pop's BTS

BERLIN (AP) — A Bavarian radio station apologized Friday for a host's comments comparing popular South Korean K-pop band BTS to the coronavirus, saying his choice of words had gone too far but was in no way meant to be “hurtful or racist.”The statement came after legions of...

Rights groups target sponsors like Airbnb for Beijing Games

In one corner are the 15 leading Olympic sponsors, many household names like Airbnb, Coca-Cola, Visa, Toyota, Samsung and General Electric. Together they pay at least jumi billion to the International Olympic Committee, and in the next four-year Olympic cycle the payments could reach [scripts/homepage/home.php] billion.They...

Judge stops Noem from releasing records in AG's fatal crash

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota judge on Thursday blocked Gov. Kristi Noem from releasing documents and video in the investigation of the state's attorney general for striking and killing a man with his car.Defense attorneys for Jason Ravnsborg, the state's top law enforcement agent,...

ENTERTAINMENT

Quotes from Stephen King interview with The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Stephen King spoke recently to The Associated Press recently about his new novel, “Later,” but he also covered topics ranging from the famous people who have turned up at his readings to what happens when he looks up his own name on the Internet. And he think he...

Stephen King talks about crime, creativity and new novel

NEW YORK (AP) — Stephen King doesn't think of himself as a horror writer. “My view has always been you can call me whatever you want as long as the checks don't bounce,” King told The Associated Press during a recent telephone interview. “My idea is to tell a good story,...

Christian Siriano offers mountain glam for 2nd pandemic show

NEW YORK (AP) — Christian Siriano opened his second show of the pandemic Thursday with two ladies in bed, models who emerged flawless in black one-pieces, then dressed for all to see before hitting the runway.It was a dreamy, color-saturated show during a tough time for fashion inspiration,...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Tiger Woods transferred to LA hospital after surgery

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tiger Woods was moved Thursday to another Los Angeles hospital after undergoing surgery...

Native American nominee's grilling raises questions on bias

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — When Wyoming U.S. Sen. John Barrasso snapped at Deb Haaland during her confirmation...

Once the mainstream model, Michigan GOP embraces right wing

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Josh Venable, a longtime Michigan GOP operative and chief of staff to former U.S....

Facebook signs pay deals with 3 Australian news publishers

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Facebook announced on Friday preliminary agreements with three Australian...

2 US Navy warships in Mideast hit by coronavirus outbreaks

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Two U.S. Navy warships operating in the Mideast have been struck by...

Queen says COVID vaccine is quick, painless and helps others

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is encouraging people to be vaccinated against COVID-19,...

Thomas Watkins the Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The elaborate mission to recover a moon rock led NASA agents to one of the most down-to-earth places: a Denny's restaurant in Riverside County.

But at the end of the sting operation, agents were left holding a speck of lunar dust smaller than a grain of rice and a 74-year-old suspect who was terrified by armed officials.

Five months after NASA investigators and local agents swooped into the restaurant and hailed their operation as a cautionary tale for anyone trying to sell national treasure, no charges have been filed, NASA isn't talking and the case appears stalled.

The target, Joann Davis, a grandmother who says she was trying to raise money for her sick son, asserts the lunar material was rightfully hers, having been given to her space-engineer husband by Neil Armstrong in the 1970s.

"It's a very upsetting thing," Davis told The Associated Press. "It's very detrimental, very humiliating, all of it a lie."

The strange case centers on a speck of authenticated moon rock encased in an acrylic-looking dome that appears to be a paperweight. For years, NASA has gone after anyone selling lunar material gathered on the Apollo missions because it is considered government property, so cannot be sold for profit.

Still, NASA has given hundreds of lunar samples to nations, states and high-profile individuals but only on the understanding they remain government property. NASA's inspector general works to arrest anyone trying to sell them.

The case was triggered by Davis herself, according to a search warrant affidavit written by Norman Conley, an agent for the inspector general.

She emailed a NASA contractor May 10 trying to find a buyer for the rock, as well as a nickel-sized piece of the heat shield that protected the Apollo 11 space capsule as it returned to earth from the first successful manned mission to the moon in 1969.

"I've been searching the internet for months attempting to find a buyer," Davis wrote. "If you have any thoughts as to how I can proceed with the sale of these two items, please call."

Davis told AP the items were among many of the space-related heirlooms her husband left her when he died in 1986. She said she had worked as a lexicographer and he had worked as an engineer for North American Rockwell, which contracted for NASA during the Apollo era.

Davis claims Armstrong gave the items to her husband, though the affidavit says the first man on the moon has previously told investigators he never gave or sold lunar material to anyone.

In follow-up phone conversations with a NASA agent, Davis acknowledged the rock was not sellable on the open market and fretted about an agent knocking on her door and taking the material, which she was willing to sell for "big money underground."

"She must know that this is a questionable transaction because she used the term `black market,'" Agent Conley states in the search warrant.

Curiously, though, Davis agreed to sell the sample to NASA for a stellar $1.7 million. She said she wanted to leave her three children an inheritance and take care of her sick son.

NASA investigators then arranged the sting, where Conley met with Davis and her current husband at the Denny's at Lake Elsinore in Riverside County.

Soon after settling into a booth, Davis said, she pulled out the moon sample and about half a dozen sheriff's deputies and NASA investigators rushed into the eatery.

When officers in flack vests took a hold of her, the 4-foot-11 woman said she was so scared she lost control of her bladder and was taken outside to a parking lot, where she was questioned and detained for about two hours.

"They grabbed me and pulled me out of the booth," Davis claimed. "I had very, very deep bruises on my left side."

Conley declined to comment and NASA Office of the Inspector General spokeswoman Renee Juhans said she could not talk about an ongoing investigation.

Davis was eventually allowed home, without the moon rock, and was never booked into a police station or charged.

The affidavit states authorities believed Davis was in possession of stolen government property but so far they have not publicly revealed any proof.

"This (is) abhorrent behavior by the federal government to steal something from a retiree that was given to her," said Davis's attorney, Peter Schlueter, who is planning legal action.

Joseph Gutheinz, a University of Phoenix instructor and former NASA investigator who has spent years tracking down missing moon rocks, said prosecuting Davis could prove tricky.

Gutheinz said he recently learned that NASA did not always take good care of lunar materials. In some instances, space suits were simply hosed off and any moon dust on them lost forever.

While bigger rocks, such as those given to various countries and museums were carefully inventoried and tracked, it now appears there are unknown numbers of much smaller pieces circulating in the public. Some of these may have been turned into paperweights and informally given away by NASA engineers.

"I have a real moral problem with what's happened here in California," Gutheinz said. "I've always taken the position that no one should own an Apollo-era moon rock. They belong to the people. But if we did such a poor job of safeguarding (lunar samples,) I cannot fault that person."

About 2,200 samples of lunar rocks, core samples, pebbles, sand and dust - weighing about 840 pounds - were brought to Earth by NASA's Apollo lunar landing missions from 1969 to 1972. A recent count showed 10 states and more than 90 countries could not account for their shares of the gray rocks.

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Watkins can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/thomaswatkins

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