10-06-2022  6:53 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Vancouver City Council Bans Large Fossil Fuel Facilities

While new facilities that distribute, extract, refine or process fossil fuels have been temporarily prohibited by the Vancouver City Council since 2020, the council this week unanimously made the ban permanent

Community Group Meets to Discuss Vision for Albina Arts Center

Oregon Community Foundation is in the process of figuring out how to gift the building back to a Black-led non-profit that is willing to center arts, healing and intergenerational community-building within the space, in perpetuity.

E. Washington Rancher Sentenced for 'Ghost Cattle' Fraud

Cody Easterday was sentenced Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Yakima, Washington, for what U.S. District Court Judge Stanley Bastian called “the biggest theft or fraud I’ve seen in my career."

$40K Awarded to Woman Injured by Portland Police at Protests

Erin Wenzel sued the city for assault, battery and negligence, claiming that on Aug. 14, 2020, an officer “ran at her and violently slammed into her with a nightstick” while she was leaving the area as police had instructed. 

NEWS BRIEFS

Transgender Woman Assaulted, Cops Seek Help Finding Suspects

A transgender woman was assaulted on Monday in Eugene, Oregon, by a man and three others who allegedly used transgender slurs ...

Rosa Floyd Honored as 2023 Oregon Teacher of the Year

Nellie Muir Elementary IB School educator surprised with state honor ...

Amazon to Invest $150 Million in Funds That Provide Underrepresented Entrepreneurs With Access to Capital

Amazon today announced Amazon Catalytic Capital, a new initiative to invest 0 million in venture capital funds, accelerators, and...

Bonamici to Host Webinar on Student Loan Forgiveness Plan

On Thursday, Oct. 6 Congress member Suzanne Bonamici will host a webinar on the Biden-Harris Administration’s transformational...

SUNDAY: “No More Gun Violence” Block Party in North Portland

Event marks final in summer series aimed at bringing people together to reclaim their neighborhoods and fight for a future free of gun...

Fish and Wildlife shoots wrong wolf, more attacks confirmed

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Wolves from two packs in northeast Washington state have attacked more cattle, prompting the Department of Fish and Wildlife to consider whether to again try culling the Smackout pack after a botched attempt last month. Fish and Wildlife officials confirmed...

Nike co-founder now backs Republican in Oregon governor race

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Nike co-founder Phil Knight has donated jumi million to Republican gubernatorial candidate Christine Drazan’s campaign, seemingly changing course after giving .75 million to a candidate unaffiliated with a major political party. The latest donation makes it...

No. 2 Georgia looking for return to top form against Auburn

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Don't expect Auburn players to empathize with concerns expressed this week about No. 2 Georgia's sudden dip from championship form. The Bulldogs, who play Auburn on Saturday, fell from the top spot in The Associated Press Top 25 this week after having to rally for...

No. 2 Georgia looking for 6th straight win over rival Auburn

Auburn (3-2, 1-1 SEC) at No. 2 Georgia (5-0, 2-0), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS) Line: Georgia by 29 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Series record: Georgia leads 62-56. WHAT’S AT STAKE? Georgia will try to regain its momentum after...

OPINION

Democracy, Disasters, and the Black Vote

The Black vote has an opportunity to determine the outcome of the November 8 general election. Let's not be the only people who don’t realize our strength. ...

No Room for Black Folk

A recent interview with Dr. Ebony Elizabeth Thomas and an associate professor, reveals the inability of certain white Americans to share the benefits of our society ...

The Cruelty of Exploiting Vulnerable People for Political Advantage

There is always a new low for Trump Republicans. And that is pretty frightening. ...

The Military to American Youth: You Belong to Me

The U.S. military needs more than just money in its annual budget. It needs access to America’s young people as well — their wallets, their bodies, and their minds. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Philadelphia apologizes for experiments on Black inmates

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The city of Philadelphia issued an apology Thursday for the unethical medical experiments performed on mostly Black inmates at its Holmesburg Prison from the 1950s through the 1970s. The move comes after community activists and families of some of those inmates...

Biden pardons thousands for 'simple possession' of marijuana

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is pardoning thousands of Americans convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana under federal law, as his administration takes a dramatic step toward decriminalizing the drug and addressing charging practices that disproportionately impact people of...

Federal judge halts key parts of New York's new gun law

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York's latest attempt to restrict who can carry a handgun in public and where firearms can be brought was picked apart Thursday by a federal judge, who ruled that multiple provisions in a state law passed this year are unconstitutional. In a ruling that...

ENTERTAINMENT

Ukraine orchestra's leader debuts at Met with Russian opera

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s been quite a year for conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson, forming an orchestra from scratch, leading it on a 12-city tour, and then as soon as it disbanded going straight to the Metropolitan Opera to prepare for an opening-week debut. Hers were the guiding hands that...

Hilary Swank talks filming new series while expecting twins

Hilary Swank has announced she's pregnant with twins and says that revelation might explain some of her actions on set of her new ABC series “ Alaska Daily.” “You don’t tell for 12 weeks for a certain reason. But then, like, you’re growing and you’re using the bathroom a...

Jada Pinkett Smith has deal for 'no holds barred' memoir

NEW YORK (AP) — Jada Pinkett Smith has a lifetime of thoughts she'd like to set down. The actor, singer, entrepreneur and co-host of the Facebook Watch show “Red Table Talk” has a deal for what Dey Street Books is calling an “honest and gripping memoir” that will cover her...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Immigration will vex Biden no matter who controls Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — At a recent White House ceremony honoring Hispanic heritage in the U.S., President Joe Biden...

EXPLAINER: Russia's military woes mount amid Ukraine attacks

Even as the Kremlin moved to absorb parts of Ukraine in a sharp escalation of the conflict, the Russian military...

Whistleblower: 665 left FBI over misconduct in two decades

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. senator is pressing the FBI for more information after a whistleblower alleged that an...

Survivors tell grim tale of southern Greek migrant shipwreck

KYTHIRA, Greece (AP) — Many had embarked on the stomach-churning sea journey before; many will follow. ...

Argentine judge launches probe into Nicaragua abuse claims

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — A judge in Argentina has launched a criminal investigation into Nicaragua’s...

Iran airs video with 2 French citizens it claims were spying

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran on Thursday published video showing two detained French citizens...

Moni Basu CNN

(CNN) -- Some time in the summer, a small theater in Los Angeles screened a movie to which hardly anyone came.

It was a clunky film filled with scenes in a desert and in tents. The characters were cartoonish; the dialogue gauche.



The actors who'd responded to a July 2011 casting call thought they were making an adventure film set 2,000 years ago called "Desert Warrior." That's how Backstage magazine and other acting publications described it.

The American-made movie, it turns out, was hardly an innocent Arabian Desert action flick.

Instead, the movie, backed by hardcore anti-Islam groups in the United States, is a tome on Islam as fraud. In trailers posted on YouTube in July, viewers saw this: scene after scene of the Prophet Mohammed portrayed as a womanizer, buffoon, ruthless killer and child molester.

Islam forbids all depictions of Mohammed, let alone insulting ones.

The Muslim world erupted in rage.

Protesters aired their anti-American anger in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, Morocco, Sudan, Iran and in the Palestinian territories. They came after violent mobs attacked the U.S. Consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi leaving the ambassador and three other Americans dead.

But as outrage spread, the film's origins still remained murky. Whose idea was it? Who financed it?

At the heart of the mystery was the filmmaker himself, a man identified in the casting call as Sam Bassiel, on the call sheet as Sam Bassil and reported at first by news outlets as Sam Bacile.

By Thursday, as new details emerged, it was becoming apparent that Bacile was probably not the producer's real name.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, the filmmaker identified himself as Sam Bacile and said he was a 52-year-old Israeli-American real estate developer from California.

But Israel's Foreign Ministry said there was no record of a Sam Bacile with Israeli citizenship.

"This guy is totally anonymous. At this point, no one can confirm he holds Israeli citizenship, and even if he did we are not involved," ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said.

CNN has been unable to contact anyone named Sam Bacile and cannot verify the information reported in the Journal.

A search by CNN of public records related to Bacile came up empty. A search of entertainment records turned up no previous mention of a Sam Bacile, and the directors and writers guilds had no listing for him.

A production staff member who worked on the film in its initial stages told CNN that an entirely different name was filed on the paperwork for the Screen Actors Guild: Abenob Nakoula Bassely.

He believed the filmmaker was a Coptic Christian and when the two spoke on the phone during production, the filmmaker said he was in Alexandria, Egypt, raising money for the film. There has been a long history of animosity between Muslims and the minority Copts in Egypt.

Another staffer who worked on the film said he knew the producer as Sam Bassil. That's how he signed a personal check to pay staff.

The staffer said he was "99% positive" that Sam Bassil was not Jewish. He had quite a few religious pieces in his house, including images of the Madonna.

He was married with two children -- the daughter helped during production and even brought in lunch on a few occasions, the staffer said.

Neither staffer wanted to be identified for security reasons.

In his interview with the Wall Street Journal, the filmmaker characterized his movie, now called "Innocence of Muslims," as "a political effort to call attention to the hypocrisies of Islam."

"Islam is a cancer," he said. "The movie is a political movie. It's not a religious movie."

An actress in the film, who asked not to be identified, told CNN that the original script did not include a Prophet Mohammed character. She said she and other actors complained that their lines had been changed.

She said she spoke Wednesday with the producer.

"He said he wrote the script because he wants the Muslims to quit killing," she said. "I had no idea he was doing all this."

She described the movie's repercussions as a "nightmare," given the outrage and deaths, and she regretted having a role. She said she was angry and hurt by the lies.

The 79 other cast and crew members said they were "grossly misled" about the film's intent.

"The entire cast and crew are extremely upset and feel taken advantage of by the producer," they said in a statement.

They said they were "shocked by the drastic rewrites of the script and lies that were told to all involved. We are deeply saddened by the tragedies that have occurred."

The actress said that the character of Mohammed in the movie was named George when it was shot, and that after production wrapped she returned and read other lines that may have been dubbed into the piece.

A member of the production staff who worked on the film and has a copy of the original script corroborated the woman's account. There was no mention of Mohammed or Islam, the crew member said.

The filmmaker told the Wall Street Journal that he was backed by Jewish donors, who contributed $5 million to make the film. Based on the trailer, however, the cartoonish movie appears to have been produced on a low budget.

Anti-Muslim activist Steve Klein, who said he was a script consultant for the movie, said the filmmaker told him his idea was to make a film that would reveal "facts, evidence and proof" about the Prophet Mohammed to people he perceived as radical Muslims.

Klein said the movie was called "Innocence of Bin Laden."

"Our intent was to reach out to the small minority of very dangerous people in California and try to shock them into understanding how dangerous Islam is," Klein said.

"We knew that it was going to cause some friction, if anybody paid attention to it," he said.

But when Klein went to the screening in the Los Angeles theater, no one was there.

"It was a bust, a wash," he said.

But a while later, the trailers were online. They were segments focusing on the Prophet Mohammed and posted under the title, "Innocence of Mohammed."

The trailers were translated into Egyptian dialects of Arabic, the New York Times reported. Egyptian television aired certain segments.

And the fury erupted.

Klein told CNN Wednesday that Sam Bacile was in hiding.

"He's very depressed, and he's upset," Klein said. "I talked to him this morning, and he said that he was very concerned for what happened to the ambassador."

The Atlantic later quoted Klein as saying that Sam Bacile was a pseudonym. He said he did not know Bacile's real name.

Klein is known in Southern California for his vocal opposition to the construction of a mosque in Temecula, southeast of Los Angeles, in 2010. He heads up Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment, a group that contends Islam is a threat to American freedom.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, says Klein, a former Marine and Vietnam veteran, helped train militant Christian fundamentalists prepare for war.

The movie got even more notice after it was promoted by anti-Islam activists, including Egyptian-born Coptic Christian Morris Sadek and Terry Jones, the Florida pastor whose Quran-burning last year sparked deadly riots in Afghanistan.

Jones said he had been contacted to help distribute the film.

"The film is not intended to insult the Muslim community, but it is intended to reveal truths about Mohammed that are possibly not widely known," Jones said in a statement.

"It is very clear that God did not influence him (Mohammed) in the writings of the Quran," said Jones, who went on to blame Muslims' fear of criticism for the protests, rather than the film.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called Jones to ask him to withdraw his support for the film, said Col. David Lapan, Dempsey's spokesman.

"Jones' support of the film risks causing more violence and death," Lapan said.

That fear mounted as anger raged in the Muslim world and especially as Friday, Islam's day of religious observance, fast approached.

CNN's Jennifer Wolfe, Miguel Marquez, Brian Todd, Chelsea Carter and Tom Watkins contributed to this report.

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