07-18-2018  10:02 am      •     
The Skanner Report
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NEWS BRIEFS

Experience the Culture at the Second Annual Pan African Festival of Oregon

Event will take place from 12 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. August 11 ...

Oregon Humane Society Photo Contest Now Open

Submissions for annual pet photo contest open until August 15 ...

Mark Christopher Lawrence to Perform at Harvey’s Comedy Club July 13-15

Former Big Mike of “Chuck” will perform at 7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 7:30 Sunday ...

Dragon Fest 2018

Lions, dragons and breakdancers descend on Seattle’s Chinatown-International District for the Pacific Northwest’s largest...

Editorials from around Oregon

Selected editorials from Oregon newspapers:_____Albany Democrat-Herald, July 18, on election reform:On Tuesday, President Donald Trump said he misspoke the previous day about whether he believed the assessment of his intelligence agencies, that Russia meddled with the 2016 elections.During a press...

Advancing wildfire prompts evacuations in Oregon

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has invoked an emergency order in response to a wildfire burning in two north-central counties and mandatory evacuations for dozens of households.The Emergency Conflagration Act announced early Wednesday allows the Oregon fire marshal to mobilize...

Advancing wildfire prompts evacuations in Oregon

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has invoked an emergency order in response to a wildfire burning in two north-central counties and mandatory evacuations for dozens of households.The Emergency Conflagration Act announced early Wednesday allows the Oregon fire marshal to mobilize...

Detectives investigate death of Spokane County Jail inmate

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The Spokane County Sheriff's Office says detectives are investigating the death of an inmate at the county jail.The prisoner was found dead in a cell a little after 1 p.m. Tuesday. The death was discovered while inmates on that floor were being released from their cells...

OPINION

A Letter from America’s Children

American children struggling with poverty, violence and homelessness, deserve media coverage, too ...

Rep. Maxine Waters Takes Strong Stand for Fair Housing

Congresswoman Maxine Waters recently stepped up to file legislation designed to cure many of regressive ills pushed by Secretary Carson ...

10 Indoor Plants Every Pet Lover Must Have

Dr. Jasmine Streeter shares her tips on stress-busting plants ...

NAACP Statement on Nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court

NAACP opposes Kavanaugh's confirmation to the D.C. Circuit ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

South Africa, Obama mark Mandela centennial with charity

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africans along with former U.S. President Barack Obama were marking the centennial of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela's birth on Wednesday with acts of charity in a country still struggling with deep economic inequality 24 years after the end of white minority...

Texas executes man for 2004 slaying of store owner

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A Texas prisoner was executed Tuesday evening for the fatal shooting of a San Antonio convenience store owner after courts turned down appeals that the state parole board improperly rejected the inmate's clemency request because he's black.Christopher Young, 34,...

The Latest: Texas executes man for 2004 store owner slaying

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — The Latest on the Texas execution (all times local):6:45 p.m.A 34-year-old Texas prisoner has been executed for the fatal shooting of a San Antonio convenience store owner during an attempted robbery nearly 14 years ago.Christopher Young received a lethal injection...

ENTERTAINMENT

Film Review: Denzel Washington kills in 'The Equalizer 2'

You won't usually find Denzel Washington in a movie sequel. He just doesn't do them. Something about not wanting to repeat himself. So there must be something special indeed for him to break his own rule for "The Equalizer 2."Fans of the first film will instantly know why Washington is drawn to the...

A Comic-Con without Marvel, HBO gives others a chance to pop

Over 130,000 pop culture devotees are descending on San Diego's Gaslamp District on Wednesday for the annual four-day comic book convention Comic-Con, the big, bright and very heavily branded confab of costumed superfans and the corporate sponsors vying for their attention — and...

Chris Christie to 'set record straight' in 'Let Me Finish'

NEW YORK (AP) — Chris Christie has a book coming out next year and he doesn't plan on holding back.Hachette Books confirmed to The Associated Press on Wednesday that the former New Jersey governor's "Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

A Comic-Con without Marvel, HBO gives others a chance to pop

Over 130,000 pop culture devotees are descending on San Diego's Gaslamp District on Wednesday for the annual...

Done deal: Leonard goes to Raptors, DeRozan goes to Spurs

The Kawhi Leonard saga in San Antonio is finally over. So is DeMar DeRozan's time in Toronto.An NBA summer...

Trump: New Air Force One to get red, white and blue makeover

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says Air Force One is getting a patriotic makeover.Trump says the...

Nazi hunter slams right-wing singer at Croatia celebration

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — The Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center has strongly criticized a far-right...

Australia succeeds in stopping migrants but many in limbo

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — When Abdul Aziz reached Australia's Christmas Island aboard a smuggler's boat in...

1st commercial flight from Ethiopia to ex-rival Eritrea

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Hailed as "the bird of peace," the first commercial flight from Ethiopia to former...

Ryan J. Foley the Associated Press

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- After years of litigation, a judge will soon decide whether to grant thousands of black employees and job applicants monetary damages for hiring practices used by every agency of Iowa state government that they say has disadvantaged them for decades.

Experts say the case is the largest class-action lawsuit of its kind against an entire state government's civil service system, and tests a legal theory that social science and statistics alone can prove widespread discrimination.

The plaintiffs - up to 6,000 African-Americans passed over for state jobs and promotions dating back to 2003 - do not say they faced overt racism or discriminatory hiring tests in Iowa, a state that is 91 percent white. Instead, their lawyers argue that managers subconsciously favored whites across state government, leaving blacks at a disadvantage in decisions over who got interviewed, hired and promoted.

Judge Robert Blink's decision, expected in coming weeks, could award damages and mandate changes in state personnel policies or dismiss a case that represents a growing front of discrimination litigation.

Similar cases against local governments have failed because proving broad bias is extraordinarily difficult, with a myriad of possible factors to explain disparities, said David Friedland, a California human resources consultant who is an expert on discrimination in hiring. Success in Iowa could encourage similar lawsuits elsewhere, he said.

"If they are successful in getting the court to agree to that, it probably will come up more," Friedland said. "A monetary award in a case like this is likely to be pretty substantial. ... It will be interesting to see how it comes out."

University of Washington psychology professor Anthony Greenwald, an expert on implicit bias who testified on behalf of the plaintiffs, said the decision would be one of the first of its kind because similar cases against corporations have usually been dismissed or settled before trial.

"The decision will be important. It will be certainly looked at outside of Iowa," he said.

Scholars and employment lawyers have shown a growing interest in implicit bias in the last several years, after Greenwald and other scientists developed the Implicit Association Test to test racial stereotypes. Their research found an inherent preference for whites over blacks - in up to 80 percent of test-takers and among many people who do not consider themselves racist.

The theory hit a legal obstacle last year when the U.S. Supreme Court disqualified a class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart's pay and promotion practices for women. The court found the class was too broad and failed to challenge a specific hiring practice as discriminatory.

Lawyers defending the state have cited that decision in asking Blink to dismiss the case. But the high court's decision did not specifically reject the theory of implicit bias, and dissenting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that such claims can be allowed.

Class attorney Thomas Newkirk said the science and other evidence that shows disadvantaged groups such as blacks face employment discrimination in subtle ways "is becoming overwhelming."

"Clearly, the problem is not in Iowa alone, but we believe Iowa is the exactly the right place to ask society to take control of this important issue fairly for all races, and to seek a better future for all as a result," he said.

During a monthlong trial last fall, experts called by the plaintiffs' lawyers testified that blacks are hired at lower rates than whites with similar qualifications and receive less favorable evaluations and lower starting salaries. An employment consultant hired by the administration of Gov. Tom Vilsack, who served from 1999 to 2007, warned of hiring disparities between whites and minorities in a report issued after he left office.

Vilsack's successor, Democratic Gov. Chet Culver, issued an executive order requiring agencies to improve the diversity of the workforce. State officials called that evidence of progress, but class lawyers argued it turned out to be ineffective because rules meant to prevent bias still were not followed.

Republican Gov. Terry Branstrad said last fall his administration had ensured agencies were following uniform rules to stop any abuse - but a top state employment official testified days later he'd seen no substantive changes to hiring practices in years. Blacks represented 2.9 percent of the state's population in 2010 and 2.4 percent of the state workforce.

Among those who testified was Charles Zanders, of Waterloo, who was passed over for an interview for a position with the Iowa Communications Network in 2008 despite having worked 29 years in the telecommunications industry.

"I was very angry at that time and felt like I'd been stepped on," Zanders, 60, said.

In a brief submitted in December, plaintiffs' lawyers sought lost wages of about $67 million minus what they earned in the meantime. But in court documents, Newkirk said it was even more important that Blink order changes in the way state officials train managers, screen candidates and track disparities in hiring.

Lawyers working for Attorney General Tom Miller, a Democrat, argued that the plaintiffs failed to show bias across state government.

"The record simply does not support Plaintiffs' charge that some monolithic, immutable force of bias infected the decisions made by every department, at every step, for every job, for every year of the class period," they wrote in a final brief last month.

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