10-23-2019  4:14 am   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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Washington State Ecology Director Objects to EPA’s Proposed Clean Water Act Rule

Ecology Director Maia Bellon submitted formal objections in which she calls the proposal ill-advised and illegal

Washington State to Vote on Affirmative Action Referendum

More than two decades after voters banned affirmative action, the question of whether one's minority status should be considered in state employment, contracting, colleges admissions is back on the ballot

Merkley Introduces Legislation that Protects Access to Health Care for Those Who Cannot Afford Bail

Under current law, individuals in custody who have not been convicted of a crime are denied Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’ benefits

New County Hire Aims to Build Trust, Transparency Between Community and Public Safety Officials

Leneice Rice will serve as a liaison focused on documenting and reporting feedback from a community whose faith in law enforcement has been tested


U.S. Census Bureau Hosts Job Recruitment Events in Portland

There are several opportunities to ‘Meet the Employer’ today through Saturday for more information or to apply for 2020 census...

GFO Offers African Americans Help in Solving Family Mysteries

The Genealogical Forum of Oregon is holding an African American Special Interest Group Saturday, Oct. 19 ...

Third Annual NAMC-WA Gala Features Leader on Minority Business Development

The topic of the Washington Chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors' event was 'Community and Collaboration' ...

Building Bridges Event Aims to Strengthen Trust Between Communities

The 4th Annual Building Bridges of Understanding in Our Communities: Confronting Hate will be held in Tigard on...

The Black Man Project Kicks Off National Tour in Seattle

The first in a series of interactive conversations focused on Black men and vulnerability takes place in Seattle on October 25 ...

Woman sues Oregon clinic over claims of past abuse by doctor

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A woman who says she was repeatedly sexually abused by her pediatrician has filed a jumi million lawsuit against the doctor's former medical clinic in Oregon.The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Tuesday that the woman says the abuse occurred in the 1980s and early 1990s at...

Police: Body found is missing university student

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland police say a body found near the St. Johns Bridge in Northwest Portland is a missing University of Portland freshman.Police on Tuesday evening said that the medical examiner's office had conducted an autopsy and positively identified the body as Owen...

AP Top 25: Ohio State jumps Clemson to 3rd; Wisconsin falls

Ohio State edged past Clemson to No. 3 in The Associated Press college football poll and Wisconsin dropped to 13th after being upset ahead of its showdown with the Buckeyes.Alabama remained No. 1 on Sunday in the AP Top 25 presented by Regions Bank, receiving 24 first-place votes. No. 2 LSU held...

Vaughn scores twice, Vandy upsets No. 22 Missouri 21-14

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Derek Mason wants it known he's the best coach for the Vanderbilt Commodores.Riley Neal came off the bench and threw a 21-yard touchdown to Cam Johnson with 8:57 left, and Vanderbilt upset No. 22 Missouri 21-14 on Saturday with a stifling defensive...


Atatiana Jefferson, Killed by Police Officer in Her Own Home

Atatiana Jefferson, a biology graduate who worked in the pharmaceutical industry and was contemplating becoming a doctor, lived a life of purpose that mattered ...

“Hell No!” That Is My Message to Those Who Would Divide Us 

Upon release from the South African jail, Nelson Mandela told UAW Local 600 members “It is you who have made the United States of America a superpower, a leader of the world" ...

Rep. Janelle Bynum Issues Response to the Latest Statement from Clackamas Town Center

State legislator questions official response after daughter questioned for ‘loitering’ in parking lot ...

Why Would HUD Gut Its Own Disparate Impact Rule?

"You can’t expand housing rights by limiting civil protections. The ’D’ in HUD doesn’t stand for ‘Discrimination’" ...


Trump claim brings new pain to relatives of lynching victims

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Willie Edwards Jr., a black truck driver, was killed by Ku Klux Klansmen who forced him to jump off a bridge in Alabama in 1957. Two years earlier, white men had bludgeoned black teenager Emmett Till to death in Mississippi. No one went to prison for either...

Farewells to US Rep. Elijah Cummings to begin in Baltimore

BALTIMORE (AP) — Constituents, friends and other mourners are set to gather at a historically black college in Baltimore to honor the life of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings in the first of a series of planned services.The Maryland congressman and civil rights champion died Thursday of...

Trump 2020 targeting Hispanic vote in nontraditional places

YORK, Pa. (AP) — President Donald Trump's reelection campaign is making contrarian appeals in the most unusual places, trying to win over Hispanic voters in states not known for them, like Pennsylvania.His second campaign, far better financed and organized than his first, is pressing every...


Liam Gallagher talks solo rise, family feud and rock music

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Spend a few minutes with Liam Gallagher and it's clear the rocker hasn't lost any of his bravado, right down to counting himself among the greats in rock history.But Gallagher does acknowledge that one band breakup — not, Oasis, but rather the demise of Beady Eye in...

Lori Loughlin, other parents charged again in college scheme

BOSTON (AP) — "Full House" actress Lori Loughlin, her fashion designer husband and nine other parents faced new federal charges Tuesday in a scandal involving dozens of wealthy parents accused of bribing their children's way into elite universities or cheating on college entrance exams.A...

Celebrities to get drag makeovers in RuPaul's new VH1 series

LOS ANGELES (AP) — RuPaul is giving a dozen celebrities the chance to get drag makeovers for charity and bragging rights.VH1 said Tuesday that "RuPaul's Celebrity Drag Race" will air as a limited series next year.Each of the four episodes will feature a trio of stars competing for best drag...


Soto, Nationals top Cole, Astros 5-4 in World Series opener

HOUSTON (AP) — Juan Soto and the Washington Nationals quickly derailed the Cole Express.A 20-year-old...

39 people found dead in truck container in southeast England

LONDON (AP) — Police in southeastern England said 39 people were found dead Wednesday inside a large cargo...

UK prime minister mulls early election over Brexit impasse

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was weighing Wednesday whether to push for an early...

Putin aims to boost Moscow's clout with Russia-Africa summit

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted dozens of leaders of African nations Wednesday for...

UK prime minister mulls early election over Brexit impasse

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was weighing Wednesday whether to push for an early...

Q&A: How a woman's death got tangled in Hong Kong politics

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Around Valentine's Day last year, the decomposing body of a pregnant Hong Kong woman,...

New America Media, News Report, Ngoc Nguyen

Jenny Do started a pro bono foreclosure clinic at her law firm in 2009 after she noticed that many of her clients filing workers' compensation claims were also facing housing troubles.

"I started to look into foreclosure procedures, and realized they were seriously unjust," said Do, an attorney with Efficio Law Group based in San Jose, California. "I stepped in and volunteered to do what I could to help."

Do's sentiments and actions are part of a groundswell of public dissatisfaction and anger with banks over their role in the country's financial and foreclosure crises. As part of the Occupy movement sweeping the country, this Saturday marks national "bank transfer day," a campaign that calls on consumers to switch their money from big banks to credit unions.

But for the most part, Do's efforts were futile. In some cases, homeowners who worked out a trial loan modification with their bank were told they didn't qualify for a permanent one. Other homeowners even had the sheriff show up at their house without warning and were told they had 15 minutes to leave. In one case, Do says, a client's bank promised not to sell their house within 30 days, but did so anyway.

"I'm running out of steam," she said. "The injustice I see, it's to the point you feel you have to do something, or else you feel guilty."

Recently, Do has taken steps to transfer $200,000 from her law firm's two investment accounts at Bank of America to a credit union. She closed one account in October, and has scheduled the other account to transfer next February.

"I believe it is the only power we have left," Do said. "The government is not looking out for our interests. Many nonprofits try to help, but to no avail. The only recourse we have left is to decide if we want to bank with [a particular bank].

For residents in east San Jose, an area particularly hard hit by foreclosures, the desire to divest from big banks took hold long before it was popular.

When the adjustable rate on her mortgage kicked in, Mercy Martinez, who works as an office clerk, could no longer afford the monthly payment on her condo in the east side of the city. She was able to modify her loan with Bank of America (then Countrywide), but her monthly payments still increased by $500.

Fed up, Martinez, who lives with her daughter, says last April she decided to move $40,000 from the bank to a credit union, and has pushed for her local church to do the same.

Last month, Most Holy Trinity Church in San Jose announced it would divest $3 million from Bank of America. They targeted Bank of America, says Martinez, because the church surveyed parishioners, who are mostly Latino and Vietnamese, and found a high number of people in foreclosure who had Countrywide (now Bank of America) as their lender.

Even though her housing situation is still in limbo, Martinez says she's happy the church decided to move its money, and she thinks it will make a difference.

But will withdrawals – even in the millions – cause Bank of America to blink?

Jim Wilcox, an economist who specializes in banking and a professor at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business, says customer feedback counts for a lot, but such community level divestments won't impact most big banks.

"A few scattered withdrawals of that size do not loom very large at an operation the size of Bank of America, but sometimes large movements can really grow from a small number of voices in the beginning," he said. "Sometimes they peter out and sometimes they swell and become much larger. Withdrawals have the potential to have a high visibility and cause more people to think about their bank."

Case in point, earlier this week Bank of America backed off on a plan to charge customers a monthly $5 fee for debit card use, partly due to a backlash from angry customers and partly because several of its competitors dropped their debit card fees.

"It would be a PR disaster, likely to cost them a lot of customers," Wilcox said. "It was implicit in customer complaints [that] if there's a better deal down the street, I'll vote with my feet and checkbook."

Bank of America spokesperson Colleen Haggerty said the bank has no comment on the Occupy Wall Street movement, and said the bank has made strides to help homeowners during the unprecedented foreclosure crisis.

"Because some in the media have cited foreclosure matters as the reason for closing accounts, they may not be aware of all the efforts Bank of America has made to help keep people in their homes. This includes having made more HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) modifications than any other lender, and modifying more than 193,000 mortgages in California since the housing crisis began in 2008," said Haggerty, adding that the bank has also opened 50 Customer Assistance Centers in the hardest hit markets nationwide, including 10 in California.

In California, an estimated 1.2 million homeowners have lost their homes to foreclosure in the last three years. And, with another 800,000 homes projected to receive foreclosure notices in 2012, the need far outweighs the number of homeowners who have been helped.

Jenny Do, who has many Vietnamese Americans visiting her foreclosure clinic, says more education and outreach is needed to help homeowners, particularly those from ethnic communities who face even greater hurdles, such as language barriers, in navigating the convoluted process to successfully modify their home loan and keep their house.

Arthur Bao, an organizer with People Acting in Community Together, an interfaith group that has worked on foreclosure prevention locally, says the organization is working with community members, including Do and Most Holy Trinity Church to use their sizeable and high visibility divestments to win some gains for community members, including principal reductions and speedier loan modifications for specific congregants.

The pastor of Most Holy Trinity, Eduardo Samaniego, or Father Eddie as he is known in the community, was a driving force behind the church's decision to divest from Bank of America. He says the divestment should send a message to the big banks:

"Like Netflix, who pulled a fast one by trying to charge for previously-free movies and then lost over 1 million subscribers, most of whom did not return once the new fees were dropped. So the banks must know that they are here to serve the people and when they do wrong, there are consequences."

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