12-08-2022  12:14 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Merkley Introduces Bill to Ban Private Equity Firms from Predatory Housing Practices

End Hedge Fund Control of American Homes Act seeks to return single-family housing stock to families.

US Judge Gives Initial Victory to Oregon's Tough New Gun Law

A federal judge delivered an initial victory to proponents of a sweeping gun-control measure to take effect this week while giving law enforcement more time to set up a system for permits

Tough Oregon Gun Law Faces Legal Challenge, Could Be Delayed

Midterm voters narrowly passed one of the toughest gun control laws in the nation, but the new permit-to-purchase mandate and ban on high-capacity magazines faces a lawsuit that could put it on ice just days before it's set to take effect.

Portland Approves $27M for New Homeless Camps

Public opposition to the measure and the money that will fund it has been heated, with critics saying it will criminalize homelessness and fail to address its root causes.

NEWS BRIEFS

Volunteers of America Oregon Receives Agility Grant From the National Council on Problem Gambling

The funds will support the development of a Peer Driven Problem Gambling Prevention Campaign targeting high school and college-age...

Commissioner Jayapal Invites Community Members for Coffee

Multnomah County Commissioner will be available for a conversation on priorities and the county's work ...

GFO African-American Special Interest Group Meeting to Feature Southern Claims Commission

The Dec. 17 meeting of the Genealogical Forum of Oregon will feature Shelley Viola Murphy, PhD via ZOOM. Murphy will discuss the...

Charter Commission Concludes Study, Issues Report

The Portland Charter Commission have concluded their two-year term referring nine proposals to the November 2024 election and...

PBS Genealogy Show Seeks Viewers’ Brick Walls

The popular PBS show “Finding Your Roots” is putting out a nationwide casting call for a non-celebrity to be featured on season...

Awash in illegal marijuana, Oregon looks at toughening laws

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — In 2014, Oregon voters approved a ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana after being told it would eliminate problems caused by “uncontrolled manufacture” of the drug. Illegal production of marijuana has instead exploded. Oregon lawmakers, who have...

Shots reported near SC power facility, no damage found

RIDGEWAY, S.C. (AP) — Duke Energy said it found no sign of property damage at a hydropower station in South Carolina where gunfire was reported nearby. Thousands of Duke Energy customers in neighboring North Carolina lost power Saturday night after authorities said one or more...

Saxen's 19 help Saint Mary's knock off Missouri State 66-46

MORAGA, Calif. (AP) — Mitchell Saxen's 19 points helped Saint Mary's defeat Missouri State 66-46 on Wednesday. Saxen had six rebounds for the Gaels (7-3). Aidan Mahaney scored 13 points and Alex Ducas finished with nine points. Chance Moore led the Bears (4-5) in...

Purdue Fort Wayne takes down Southeast Missouri State 89-68

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) — Jarred Godfrey scored 19 points as Purdue Fort Wayne beat Southeast Missouri State 89-68 on Wednesday night. Godfrey had eight rebounds and five assists for the Mastodons (6-4). Bobby Planutis scored 14 points, and Quinton Morton-Robertson had 13. ...

OPINION

‘I Unreservedly Apologize’

The Oregonian commissioned a study of its history of racism, and published the report on Oct. 24, 2022. The Skanner is pleased to republish the apology written by the editor, Therese Bottomly. We hope other institutions will follow this example of looking...

City Officials Should Take Listening Lessons

Sisters of the Road share personal reflections of their staff after a town hall meeting at which people with lived experience of homelessness spoke ...

When Student Loan Repayments Resume, Will Problems Return Too?

HBCU borrowers question little loan forgiveness, delays to financial security ...

Tell the Supreme Court: We Still Need Affirmative Action

Opponents of affirmative action have been trying to destroy it for years. And now it looks like they just might get their chance. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

AP WAS THERE: Supreme Court legalizes interracial marriage

WASHINGTON (AP) — EDITOR’S NOTE: On June 12, 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court was wrapping up the final orders for the term. Among the cases before them was that of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple who had been sentenced to a year in jail for violating Virginia’s ban on marriage...

Pennsylvania panel updates anti-discrimination regulations

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A state panel on Thursday narrowly approved new definitions of sex, religious creed and race in Pennsylvania's anti-discrimination regulations, with three members appointed by Democrats in favor and two Republican appointees voting no. The Independent...

St. Louis mayor appoints commission to consider reparations

ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones is appointing a reparations commission that will “recommend a proposal to begin repairing the harms that have been inflicted” by slavery, segregation and racism. St. Louis joins a growing list of places trying to determine how to...

ENTERTAINMENT

Review: Lonely souls at the cinema in ‘Empire of Light’

Olivia Colman plays the manager of a movie theater in Sam Mendes’ new film “ Empire of Light.” It’s a cinema palace in a small town on England’s south coast that is showing its age. The once grand establishment used to play films on multiple screens on multiple floors. The top floor even...

How Michelle Williams found the music of Mitzi Fabelman

NEW YORK (AP) — In both Steven Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans” and Kelly Reichardt’s upcoming “Showing Up,” Michelle Williams plays women where life — societal hurdles and daily nuisances — gets in the way of self-expression. Mitzi Fabelman, the early-1960s matriarch...

Review: 'The Whale' is a hard but astounding film to watch

The center of gravity of “The Whale” is obviously the 600-pound man at its center. Look closely, though, and he's the one with a soul as light as a feather. Charlie is a reclusive, morbidly obese English literature teacher unable and unwilling to stop eating himself to death. As...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

PHOTOS: The highs and lows of entertainment's 2022 comeback

After keeping the world at arm’s length for roughly two years, the entertainment world could finally get more...

House report: Snyder had role in 'toxic' Commanders culture

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Commanders created a “toxic work culture” for more than two decades,...

'Merchant of Death' Viktor Bout now part of a deal himself

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, swapped Thursday for WNBA star Brittney Griner, is widely known...

WHO: COVID disruption resulted in 63,000 more malaria deaths

The coronavirus pandemic interrupted efforts to control malaria, resulting in 63,000 additional deaths and 13...

Families dismayed at trial for Rio-Paris Air France crash

PARIS (AP) — Families of the 228 people killed on a Rio-Paris flight that crashed in 2009 were hoping for...

Nobel laureate: No lasting peace in Ukraine without justice

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — There will be no lasting peace in Ukraine until there is justice and human rights,...

Christopher S. Rugaber and Daniel Wagner AP Business Writers

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Just as the U.S. economy is making progress despite Europe's turmoil, here come two new threats.

A congressional panel is supposed to agree by Thanksgiving on a deficit-reduction package of at least $1.2 trillion. If it fails, federal spending would automatically be cut by that amount starting in 2013.

Congress may also let emergency unemployment aid and a Social Security tax cut expire at year's end.

Either outcome could slow growth and spook markets.

Analysts are concerned, but most aren't panicking.

Many say the economy and markets can withstand the blows. That's because Congress or the Federal Reserve could take other steps next year to lift the economy. And investors expect so little from the congressional panel that they're unlikely to overreact whatever it does.

"There's no doomsday scenario in reducing government spending," said David Kelly of JP Morgan Funds.

The 12-member bipartisan panel, or supercommittee, was created in August to defuse a political standoff over raising the federal borrowing limit. If it can't agree on a deficit-reduction plan, automatic spending cuts would hit programs prized by both parties: social services such as Medicare for Democrats, defense for Republicans.

The panel appears to be deadlocked.

Economists say a stalemate makes it harder for Congress to extend the Social Security tax cut and unemployment benefits. On the other hand, if the supercommittee does forge a deal, it might include an extension of those benefits. Or it could at least clear the way for an extension later.

The Social Security tax cut gave most Americans an extra $1,000 to $2,000 this year. Unemployment benefits provide about $300 a week. Most of that money quickly and directly boosts consumer spending, which drives the economy.

By contrast, an expiration of those benefits could cut growth by about three-quarters of a percentage point, economists say. Throw in other cuts, like those passed in the August debt deal, and all told, federal budget policies could subtract 1.7 percentage points from growth in 2012, according to JPMorgan Chase and Moody's Analytics.

Given the tepid economy, such a hit could be damaging.

"It would be very difficult for an economy that's doing well to digest, let alone one that's barely growing at potential," said Ryan Sweet, an economist at Moody's. "That could unwind a lot of the improvement we've seen so far."

The economy grew at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the July-September quarter. Some analysts fear it could fall below 2 percent next year, especially if the emergency unemployment benefits and Social Security tax cuts aren't renewed.

The U.S. economy faces other threats, too - from persistently high unemployment to Europe's spreading debt crisis, which could hasten a recession.

If the automatic spending cuts take effect, the defense budget could be cut by nearly $500 billion over nine years. Some contractors are nervous.

Wes Bush, CEO of Northrop Grumman, has told analysts that the company is bracing for spending cuts.

"It's certainly going to be a more challenging environment" next year, he said.

Another wild card: Some investors fear that the supercommittee's failure would spark fresh downgrades of U.S. debt. Standard & Poor's downgraded the government's long-term debt in August. That contributed to a stock market plunge. It's possible that a deadlocked supercommittee would lead the two other major rating agencies - Fitch and Moody's - to follow suit.

Yet S&P's downgrade did little to tarnish U.S. debt. Treasury prices rose, and yields fell. Bond investors still saw Treasurys as a super-safe investment. Federal borrowing costs actually declined.

"S&P showed that when a rating agency downgrades the best-known security in the world, it has little impact," Kelly said. The market for U.S. Treasurys is so broad, accessible and transparent that ratings downgrades don't pose much threat, he noted.

Kelly said Wall Street is unlikely to panic given that expectations for the supercommittee "are so low as to be subterranean."

Even so, some traders appear to be positioning for a shock. So-called "defensive" sectors of the stock market, like healthcare companies and utilities, which tend to retain their value in a weak economy, have been outpacing the S&P 500 index as a whole.

In the past month, the economy has shown surprising strength. Reports this week showed that manufacturers are producing more goods and consumers are spending more. The number of people seeking unemployment benefits for the first time is at a seven-month low.

Still, more than once since the recession officially ended more than two years ago, the economy has displayed vigor only to stumble again. High gas and food prices and Japan's earthquake sharply slowed growth in the first half of the year. Congress' debt-ceiling fight sent consumer confidence to recession levels.

Sweet thinks there's a good chance Congress will end up extending the Social Security tax cut. Partly on that assumption, Moody's foresees 2.6 percent growth next year. For this year, analysts generally estimate less than 2 percent growth.

Lawmakers could make other policy changes next year to energize the economy. The tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration, and extended in 2010, are set to expire after 2012. Republicans will push to renew them.

Some of the automatic cuts set to kick in in 2013 could be delayed or altered. That's particularly true if the White House or either chamber of Congress changes sides in 2012.

And some economists say the automatic spending cuts could actually boost confidence a bit: They would reassure the world that the U.S. government can make progress in shrinking its deficit.

Even so, the supercommittee seems likely to fall short of its goal to help reduce the federal debt load.

And there's more pressure to come.

Priya Misra, an analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, estimates that Congress will need to find $2 trillion more in cuts by August 2013 to prevent another credit downgrade.

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