07-23-2024  4:20 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather

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NORTHWEST NEWS

SneakerWeek 2024 Launches in Pioneer Courthouse Square July 26

The event brings together industry experts, BIPOC designers and sneaker enthusiasts.

Money From Washington's Landmark Climate Law Will Help Tribes Face Rising Seas, Climate Change

Tens of millions of dollars raised by a landmark climate law in Washington state will go to Native American tribes that are at risk from climate change and rising sea levels to help them move to higher ground, install solar panels, buy electric vehicles and restore wetlands. The Quinault Indian Tribe on the Olympic Peninsula is getting million to help relocate its two main villages to higher ground, away from the tsunami zone and persistent flooding.

The Top Draft Pick of the Mariners Pitches Lefty and Righty. Jurrangelo Cijntje Wants to Keep It Up

Cijntje threw right-handed to lefties more often in 2024 but said it was because of discomfort in his left side. The Mariners say they want Cijntje to decide how to proceed as a righty and/or lefty as a pro. He says he wants to continue pitching from both sides.

Wildfire Risk Rises as Western States Dry out Amid Ongoing Heat Wave Baking Most of the US

Blazes are burning in Oregon, where the governor issued an emergency authorization allowing additional firefighting resources to be deployed. More than 142 million people around the U.S. were under heat alerts Wednesday, especially across the West, where dozens of locations tied or broke heat records.

NEWS BRIEFS

Merkley, Senators Urge VA to Expand Access to Medical Cannabis for America’s Veterans

Senators’ letter follows DEA’s recommended rescheduling of cannabis from earlier this year ...

Federal Appeals Court Declines to Restore Voting Rights in Mississippi

Thousands of Mississippians Face “Especially Cruel” Disenfranchisement Scheme ...

Draft of Statewide Wildfire Hazard Map Mandated by Legislature Released

The Oregon Department of Forestry today released drafts of new statewide wildfire hazard and wildland-urban interface maps developed...

Southwest Washington's Lemonade Day Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Named by the Greater Vancouver Chamber

Tatum Talbert was recognized for her exceptional achievement and creativity in the GVC’s 2024 Lemonade Day program. ...

Oscar Arana Selected as NAYA's Permanent CEO

The NAYA Family Center Board of Directors selected Oscar Arana (Chichimeca) as the organization's...

Wildfires plague the West amid a scorching heat wave. Homes burn in Southern California

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — At least a half-dozen homes lay in ruins Monday after one of many dangerous wildfires in the West suddenly swept into a Southern California neighborhood during a blistering heat wave. Six homes were ravaged and seven damaged when the fire sparked by...

Biden's decision to drop out leaves Democrats across the country relieved and looking toward future

HARPER WOODS, Mich. (AP) — After weeks of uncertainty about who would be at the top of the Democratic Party’s ticket in November, many voters expressed relief over the news that President Joe Biden would drop his reelection bid and began to think about who might replace him in a dramatically...

Chiefs set deadline of 6 months to decide whether to renovate Arrowhead or build new — and where

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — The Chiefs have set a deadline of six months from now to decide on a plan for the future of Arrowhead Stadium, whether that means renovating their iconic home or building an entirely new stadium in Kansas or Missouri. After a joint ballot initiative with the...

Missouri governor says new public aid plan in the works for Chiefs, Royals stadiums

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said Thursday that he expects the state to put together an aid plan by the end of the year to try to keep the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals from being lured across state lines to new stadiums in Kansas. Missouri's renewed efforts...

OPINION

The 900-Page Guide to Snuffing Out American Democracy

What if there was a blueprint for a future presidential administration to unilaterally lay waste to our constitutional order and turn America from a democracy into an autocracy in one fell swoop? That is what one far-right think tank and its contributors...

SCOTUS Decision Seizes Power to Decide Federal Regulations: Hard-Fought Consumer Victories Now at Risk

For Black and Latino Americans, this power-grab by the court throws into doubt and potentially weakens current agency rules that sought to bring us closer to the nation’s promises of freedom and justice for all. In two particular areas – fair housing and...

Minding the Debate: What’s Happening to Our Brains During Election Season

The June 27 presidential debate is the real start of the election season, when more Americans start to pay attention. It’s when partisan rhetoric runs hot and emotions run high. It’s also a chance for us, as members of a democratic republic. How? By...

State of the Nation’s Housing 2024: The Cost of the American Dream Jumped 47 Percent Since 2020

Only 1 in 7 renters can afford homeownership, homelessness at an all-time high ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Bodycam video reveals chaotic scene of deputy fatally shooting Sonya Massey, who called 911 for help

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Sonya Massey ducked and apologized to an Illinois sheriff’s deputy seconds before he shot the Black woman three times in her home, with one fatal blow to the head, as seen in body camera video released Monday. An Illinois grand jury indicted former...

Black voters feel excitement, hope and a lot of worry as Harris takes center stage in campaign

ATLANTA (AP) — Black voters, who helped power Joe Biden to the White House, expressed a mix of hope and worry Monday over his exit from the presidential race and the prospect of Vice President Kamala Harris becoming the Democratic nominee. A key Democratic constituency, Black voters...

Conservatives use shooting at Trump rally to attack DEI efforts at Secret Service

As Congressional members on both sides of the aisle grilled U.S. Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle Monday on how a gunman was able to fire shots at former President Donald Trump in an assassination attempt, several Republican lawmakers seized on gender and the agency’s diversity, equity...

ENTERTAINMENT

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, America’s diminutive and pioneering sex therapist, dies at 96

NEW YORK (AP) — Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the diminutive sex therapist who became a pop icon, media star and best-selling author through her frank talk about once-taboo bedroom topics, has died. She was 96. Westheimer died on Friday at her home in New York City, surrounded by her family,...

Book Review: East Texas P.I. turns vigilante in funny and savage 'Sugar on the Bones'

Minnie Polson was in some sort of trouble, so a friend recommended the private eye firm of Hap Collins, his wife Brett, and their pal Leonard Pine. But when they meet, Minnie doesn’t like their attitude, and they don’t like hers. Hours after they agree to part company, Minnie’s...

Book Review: The Knights of Camelot search for a new king in Lev Grossman’s 'The Bright Sword'

A rudderless nation, lost in uncertainty, searches for its next commander in chief. There’s an uneasy sense that the country’s glory days have passed, and that a monumental turn in history is coming — for good or for ill. How do you find a leader to unite such a fractured, polarized land? ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Netanyahu is in Washington at a fraught time for Israel and the US. What to know about his visit

WASHINGTON (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington this week is looming as a...

Data shows hurricanes and earthquakes grab headlines but inland counties top disaster list

Floyd County keeps flooding and the federal government keeps coming to the rescue. In July 2022, at...

As doctors leave Puerto Rico in droves, a rapper tries to fill the gaps

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — On a recent morning in an Afro-Caribbean community in northeast Puerto Rico, Dr....

Biden’s withdrawal from the US presidential race spells new uncertainty for Ukraine

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to end his campaign for reelection brings a new...

Israel orders evacuation of part of Gaza humanitarian zone as war's toll passes 39,000 Palestinians

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Israeli military ordered the evacuation Monday of part of a crowded area in...

Israeli government quietly sends millions to unauthorized West Bank settler outposts

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli government has budgeted millions of dollars to protect small, unauthorized Jewish...

Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar the Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Raising taxes on millionaires may be a non-starter for Republicans, but they seem to have no problem hiking Medicare premiums for retirees making a lot less.

The House is expected to vote Tuesday on a year-end economic package that includes a provision raising premiums for "high-income" Medicare beneficiaries, now defined as those making $85,000 and above for individuals, or $170,000 for families.

Some would pay as much as several hundred dollars a month additional for Medicare outpatient and prescription coverage. Millions who don't consider themselves wealthy would also end up paying more.

Just the top 5 percent of Medicare recipients currently pay higher premiums, a change that took effect a few years ago. The new GOP proposal would expand that over time to include the highest-earning one-fourth of seniors.

On Monday the White House was mum on the Republican Medicare proposal, while AARP said it's tantamount to a new tax. In the Democratic-led Senate, there's not much enthusiasm.

The plan is modeled on a proposal that President Barack Obama submitted earlier this year to congressional debt negotiators, when he was seeking a "big deal" to cut federal deficits. Continuing pressure to curb spending means the proposal eventually could become the law of the land, even if there's no consensus now.

"This is an idea that seems to have some traction," said Tricia Neuman, a Medicare expert for the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

It's also creating a lot of confusion about who is wealthy and who is not.

For example, when Obama talks about raising taxes on the rich, he means individuals making more than $200,000 a year and families above $250,000.

But his health care law fixed the level for paying "high-income" Medicare premiums at the current $85,000 and above for an individual, $170,000 for families.

And the new Republican plan would drop the thresholds to $80,000 for an individual and $160,000 for families.

"If we're considering raising taxes on those with incomes above $250,000, then it seems to me very awkward to raise Medicare premiums on those with much lower incomes," said John Rother, head of the National Coalition on Health Care, an advocacy group.

Baby boomers just signing up for Medicare are more likely to be affected than long-term retirees, since incomes tend to be higher for the newly retired.

AARP calls the proposed premium increases a tax hike. "Most of the time, when you have a payment due to the government because of your income, we call it a tax," said lobbyist David Certner. "It's a form of a tax." High-earning workers already pay more in Medicare payroll taxes, he pointed out.

No way it's a tax, say Republicans. Taxpayers subsidize three-quarters of the cost of Medicare's outpatient and prescription coverage for the typical retiree. Reducing a subsidy for those who can afford to pay more is not the same thing as raising taxes, they contend.

"The proposal doesn't raise taxes," said Michelle Dimarob, spokeswoman for House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich. "The provision simply adjusts the subsidy they receive."

To back their argument, Republicans are circulating a letter from anti-tax activist Grover Norquist in support of the broader bill containing the Medicare provision.

The premium hikes are to help pay for legislation that would prevent the Jan. 1 expiration of payroll tax cuts for workers and extra benefits for the long-term unemployed, while also staving off a steep cut in Medicare payments to doctors. With time running short, lawmakers of both parties are still far apart on key aspects of the package.

Tax or not, higher Medicare premiums mean less money in the pockets of those who have to pay. Currently the high-income premiums start at 35 percent of the cost of Medicare's outpatient and drug coverage for individuals making $85,000 year, and rise to 80 percent of the cost at the very top income brackets.

Next year, a typical Medicare recipient will pay $131 a month for outpatient and drug coverage combined, according to Kaiser. Those paying the high-income premiums will pay from $183 to $417. That means beneficiaries at the highest income levels would pay nearly $300 a month more.

The House GOP plan would increase the high-income premium by 15 percent in 2017 and lower the thresholds at which the higher fees kick in.

Most significantly, it freezes those income thresholds indefinitely, until one-fourth of Medicare recipients are paying "high-income" premiums. It's unclear how long that would take, but currently only about 2 million out of 47 million Medicare beneficiaries pay higher premiums. Eventually that number would easily surpass 10 million.

The GOP proposal would reduce taxpayer spending on Medicare by $31 billion over 10 years; Obama's version saved about $20 billion.

"There's a lot of interest in asking higher-income people on Medicare to contribute more," said Neuman.

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