01-26-2022  4:13 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Report: Oregon Has Too Few Public Defenders

Oregon has only roughly one-third of the public defense attorneys it needs to provide reasonably effective assistance to low-income defendants

Blumenauer Boosts Efforts to Put Three Black History Landmarks on National List

Congressman makes case for Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, Dean’s Beauty Salon and Barber Shop, and the Golden West Hotel’s importance to city history and heritage.

Lawsuit Says New Majority Latino District in WA a 'Facade'

A Latino civil rights organization and others filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday that says new political maps in Washington state approved by a bipartisan redistricting panel intentionally dilute Hispanic voters' influence.

Washington Students' Test Scores Drop Significantly

Reports show that between 2019 and 2021, the overall percentage of students who met state standards on the math portion of the exam fell by 20 percentage points.

NEWS BRIEFS

Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at PSU to Present 'To Survive on This Shore

Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults' ...

Final Week for 'Mending The Social Fabric' Interactive Exhibit

A parachute with rips and tears encourages community over the course of the exhibition as visitors sit and mend. The piece will be...

Nearly 35,000 Oregon Households Have Received More Than $243 Million in Rental Assistance Relief During Pandemic

OHCS will again begin accepting new applications for OERAP starting on Wed., Jan. 26, 2022. ...

Five Schools Return to In-person Instruction on Jan. 24

Alliance, Faubion, Franklin, Ockley Green, and Roosevelt return to in-person instruction; George, Harriet Tubman and Kellogg...

COVID cases decline in Seattle area, surge moves east

SEATTLE (AP) — Cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19 are decreasing in the Seattle metro area, but hospital leaders are warning that the variant is gaining steam in eastern Washington and could further stress health care facilities. In King County, data shows the rise in omicron...

Oregon Legislature: Will Dems, GOP be able to get along?

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — As Oregon lawmakers prepare to return to the state Capitol next week for the 35-day legislative session, Republicans and Democrats have differing opinions on what that time should be used for. While Republicans say traditionally the short legislative session...

UNLV promotes interim AD Harper to full-time job

LAS VEGAS (AP) — UNLV has promoted interim athletic director Erick Harper to serve in the job full time. Harper's hiring, announced on Monday, was effective Jan. 1. He had served as interim athletic director since Desiree Reed-Francois left UNLV for Missouri in August. ...

Army stuns Missouri in Armed Forces Bowl on last-second FG

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Cole Talley kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired and Army rallied to beat Missouri 24-22 in the Armed Forces Bowl on Wednesday night. After the Tigers took a 22-21 lead on a touchdown with 1:11 to play, third-string quarterback Jabari Laws led Army...

OPINION

OP-ED: A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand

January 6th, Voting Rights and the Tyranny Threatening America ...

Support Nikole Hannah-Jones and The 1619 Project

This important and ambitious project pulled back the curtain of euphemistic rhetoric composing American historiography that points only to the good in our history and sweeps under the rug the evil deeds perpetrated against people of color ...

In 2021, Organized Labor is Again Flexing its Muscles

We have seen dramatic change in the makeup of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) under President Biden. ...

Study Reveals Racial Pay Gap for Social Media Influencers

The racial pay gap has long presented issues for African Americans in Corporate America and other industries. It’s now filtered to social media. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Biden nominating 6 lawyers for federal prosecutor posts

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is nominating six lawyers to run U.S. attorney’s offices across the country, a diverse group of candidates in the latest picks for the top law enforcement positions. The nominees, being announced by the White House on Wednesday, would run the...

India's Republic Day parade curtailed amid COVID-19

NEW DELHI (AP) — Thousands of people braved a morning chill Wednesday on a ceremonial boulevard in India's capital to watch a display of the country’s military power and cultural diversity, but the colorful annual Republic Day spectacle was curtailed amid COVID-19. Nearly 500...

Prosecution witnesses say they feared for Floyd's life

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Prosecutors at the federal trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights are trying to show that even bystanders knew the Black man needed help, while the officers failed to act as former Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on...

ENTERTAINMENT

At Sundance, documentaries resurrect lost eras of music

NEW YORK (AP) — Can a music scene still develop the way grunge did in 1990's Seattle or hip-hop did in the Bronx in the 1970s? Or has the digital makeover of music made such geographical-based explosions obsolete? It's a question that hovers over the Sundance Film Festival...

‘Aftershock’ puts human face to maternal health crisis in US

It was 2017 when filmmaker Paula Eiselt started seeing articles about rising maternal mortality rates in the United States. She’d had traumatic experiences giving birth to her four children, but didn’t realize that the problems were widespread and disproportionately affecting Black women. ...

Howie Mandel urges pal Jay Leno to air 'Late Night' laundry

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Howie Mandel has a bone to pick with his longtime friend Jay Leno. On the podcast “Howie Mandel Does Stuff,” he tells Leno he should have publicly defended himself in the “Tonight Show" rivalries of decades past, when Leno and David Letterman and then Leno...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Picasso heirs launch digital art piece to ride 'crypto' wave

GENEVA (AP) — Pablo, meet Crypto. Heirs of Pablo Picasso, the famed 20th-century Spanish artist,...

Meet Methuselah, the oldest living aquarium fish

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Meet Methuselah, the fish that likes to eat fresh figs, get belly rubs and is believed to...

Indigenous town in Mexico survives on remittances from US

COMACHUEN, Mexico (AP) — In Comachuen, a Purepecha Indigenous community of about 10,000 inhabitants nestled high...

Picasso heirs launch digital art piece to ride 'crypto' wave

GENEVA (AP) — Pablo, meet Crypto. Heirs of Pablo Picasso, the famed 20th-century Spanish artist,...

Pope's right knee ligament inflamed, curbing mobility

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis said Wednesday he is suffering from an inflamed ligament in his right knee that makes...

Australia navy ship with infected crew offloads aid to Tonga

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The Australian navy's largest ship docked at disaster-stricken Tonga on Wednesday and...

Robert Jablon the Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A Los Angeles elementary school teacher was charged with committing lewd acts against nearly two dozen students after a film processor gave authorities bondage-style photographs showing children in blindfolds with their mouths taped, and some with giant cockroaches on their faces, authorities said Tuesday.

Mark Berndt, 61, was arrested Monday at his Torrance home and remained jailed on $2.3 million bail, according to a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department statement.

The charges involve 23 boys and girls ages 6 to 10 between 2008 and 2010.

The investigation started when the film processor gave authorities some 40 photographs depicting blindfolded children in a classroom with their mouths taped shut.

Berndt worked for more than 30 years at Miramonte Elementary School in an unincorporated area of South Los Angeles before being fired as a result of the investigation. Miramonte serves a poor, mainly Hispanic neighborhood. More than half of its approximately 1,400 students are still learning English, according to the school's website.

Some of the photos showed Berndt with his arm around children or with his hand over their mouth.

Other pictures depicted girls with what appears to be a spoon up to their mouths as if they were going to ingest a clear-white liquid.

Sheriff's Lt. Carlos Marquez of the Special Victims Bureau said it was determined the children were given semen on a spoon or on a cookie. A blue plastic spoon and container found in trash in Berndt's classroom tested positive for semen, the sheriff's statement said.

None of the photos showed the students actually eating the semen, but Marquez said the children reported they didn't like the taste.

Authorities are recommending the children be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.

Some of the children's mouths and faces had large, live Madagascar-type cockroaches on them, according to the statement.

The incidents occurred during school hours but not all the children were students of Berndt, Marquez said.

None of the alleged victims told anyone about the incidents and photos, Marquez said.

"They didn't know they were being violated in that manner. They just thought it was a game," Marquez said.

The lieutenant said Berndt was placed under surveillance and it's believed he had no contact with children during the investigation.

Berndt is unmarried, has no children and there's no indication of a previous arrest record, authorities said.

"I am sickened and horrified by the behavior of Mark Berndt," Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy said in a statement.

The teacher was immediately removed when the Sheriff's Department informed the district, and he was fired, Deasy said.

More than 80 current and former students and school employees were interviewed for the investigation.

Searches of the classroom and Berndt's home turned up about 390 photographs depicting children, and at least 10 youngsters in them have not yet been identified, Marquez said.

In addition, A DVD depicting adult sexual bondage activity "which mirrored the bondage-type photos of the children" was also found during the search, the department said, noting that the adults in that video were not identified and those images are not a crime.

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