01-20-2020  4:07 pm   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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The Skanner in Step With Changing Times

Celebrating a history of service

Starbucks, Home of the $4 Latte, is Moving Into Poor Areas

Starbucks plans to open or remodel 85 stores by 2025 in rural and urban communities across the U.S. The effort will bring to 100 the number of "community stores" Starbucks has opened since it announced the program in 2015

Native American Curriculum Rolls Out in Oregon Classrooms

The state developed the curriculum, as required by Senate Bill 13, with the input of Native leaders for 18 months, but is still behind. A soft roll-out begins this month

Community Surprised at Police Chief’s Departure, Concerned by Quick Replacement

Deputy Chief Jami Resch immediately named as successor.


Annual “Salute to Greatness” Luncheon Celebrating Students, Community & Civic Leaders

Keynote Speaker: Ms. Rukaiyah Adams, Chair of Oregon Investment Council & Chief Investment Officer at Meyer Memorial Trust....

Grant High School Students to Read Their Own Work at Broadway Books

Local author and writing instructor Joanna Rose will lead thegroup of young writers at the event to be held on Wednesday, January 22 ...

AG Rosenblum Announces $4 Million Settlement with CenturyLink

Since 2014, Oregon DOJ has received more than 1,200 consumer complaints about CenturyLink ...

Black Guest at Downtown Portland Hotel Sues Over ‘No Party’ Promise

Felicia Gonzales claims the front desk clerk at the Residence Inn told her that all guests had to sign the policy, but she watched...

National Urban League Warns Trump Administration: Don't Weaken Community Reinvestment Act to Allow Racial Discrimination in Lending

Proposed changes to the Community Reinvestment Act could further limit access to the American Dream ...

Classes cancelled at Beaverton High following fire

BEAVERTON, Ore. (AP) — Classes at a high school in Beaverton, Oregon, will be cancelled Tuesday following a weekend fire.KOIN reports that investigators concluded on Sunday that the “failure of a small refrigerator” in one of the Beaverton High School classrooms started the...

Idaho lawmakers consider changes in primary voting rules

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Voters will have about two weeks to choose a political party if they want to vote in Idaho's Democratic and Republican presidential primaries in March following action by a House panel on Monday.The State Affairs Committee sent to the full House legislation that will take...

New Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz predicts success

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Eli Drinkwitz was saying all the right things after being introduced as the new football coach at Missouri, laying out his vision for the once-proud program with unwavering confidence and bold proclamations.Then the former Appalachian State coach made a minor...

LSU's Burrow, Auburn's Brown named AP SEC players of year

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is a unanimous selection as the offensive player of the year on The Associated Press All-Southeastern Conference football team.The top-ranked Tigers also have the SEC’s coach of the year in Ed Orgeron and the newcomer of the year in freshman cornerback Derek...


Martin Luther King Day is an Opportunity for Service

Find out where you can volunteer and make a difference to the community ...

Looking to 2020 — Put Your Vote to WORK!

Ronald Reagan, who turned his back on organized labor and started America’s middle-class into a tailspin, has recently been voted by this administration’s NLRB into the Labor Hall of Fame ...

How Putting Purpose Into Your New Year’s Resolutions Can Bring Meaning and Results

Only 4% of people report following through on all of the resolutions they personally set ...

I Was Just Thinking… Mama in the Classroom

I wrote my first column in 1988 for a local newspaper about a beloved Dallas guidance counselor and teacher that most students called “Mama” ...


Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Faith, politics mix on holiday

ATLANTA (AP) — Against the backdrop of a presidential election year, Monday's Martin Luther King Jr. holiday found leaders still wrestling over how to best embody the slain civil rights leader.In Atlanta, Republicans told a sometimes cool crowd at Ebenezer Baptist Church, King's onetime...

2020 Democratic contenders link arms in MLK Jr. Day march

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Democratic presidential candidates hit pause on their recent feuds Monday as they walked shoulder to shoulder through the streets of South Carolina’s capital city to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and rally around their push to defeat President Donald...

Baker apologizes for calling Pressley's MLK speech a 'rant'

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker apologized Monday after he used the word “rant” to describe remarks from U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley at an event honoring Martin Luther King Jr.Pressley, a Boston Democrat, had delivered a speech about inequality and the unfinished...


Robert De Niro gets political as he accepts SAG Awards honor

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Robert De Niro received the Screen Actors Guild lifetime achievement award Sunday to praise for his illustrious career and thunderous applause from his fellow performers, but spent much of his acceptance speech on politics. “There's right and there's wrong, and...

Prince Harry: 'No other option' but to cut royal ties

LONDON (AP) — Prince Harry said Sunday that he felt “great sadness” but found “no other option” to cutting almost all of his and his wife Meghan’s royal ties in the hopes of achieving a more peaceful life.The comments were Harry’s first public...

'Parasite' parties, Leo greets young fans inside SAG Awards

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Off-camera and during commercials, the stars at the Screen Actors Guild Awards got to rub shoulders, give congratulatory kisses, and meet for the first or the 50th time. Here are some of the more memorable moments from inside Sunday night's ceremony at the Shrine...


James Dean revival spurs debate on raising the digital dead

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The men bringing James Dean back to life for a forthcoming film are aiming not just to...

California police: Driver rammed into car, killing 3 teens

TEMESCAL VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California driver intentionally rammed a Toyota Prius with six...

Human-to-human transmission confirmed in China coronavirus

BEIJING (AP) — The head of a Chinese government expert team said Monday that human-to-human transmission...

Experts say Vincent van Gogh self-portrait is genuine

AMSTERDAM (AP) — After years of doubts about its authenticity, experts in Amsterdam have confirmed that a...

Putin sends his constitutional proposals to Parliament

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday submitted to parliament a package of...

3 killed, 100-plus hurt in collapse during Ethiopia ceremony

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — At least three people were killed and more than 100 others injured when a...

Ashley Fantz CNN

(CNN) -- Every day in his cell in one of the most notorious prisons in Latin America, an American father wrote a letter to his little boy. Jason Puracal would tuck the papers away, trying to fight the fear that his son might grow up never knowing his dad.

"Jabu was my sunshine. My ray of hope. When I was in there -- it was dark ... it was so ... hard ... I just imagined I could see him," Puracal told CNN on Monday night via phone from New York.

Puracal seemed to choke up a little. After all, he was speaking less than two days after gaining the freedom he thought he'd never have again -- the result of a Nicaraguan court system ruling last week that his conviction could not stand.

Puracal took a breath and laughed. He lovingly shushed the loud giggles of his 5-year-old.

"Come on, play!" the boy said as he tugged at his father.

Puracal, from Washington state, had been behind bars since November 2010, when Nicaraguan authorities raided his real estate office in the coastal tourist city of San Juan del Sur and accused him of money laundering, drug trafficking and involvement in organized crime. He was sentenced to 22 years in August 2011.

Puracal survived "day by day, minute by minute," he told CNN's Anderson Cooper in an exclusive interview Monday night.

"It's a fight for your life every second of the day," he said.

For nearly two years, a chorus of supporters -- including a former FBI agent, a U.S. congressman and several noted human rights attorneys -- fought to clear Puracal's name. They said that there was no evidence to support the charges and that the American's prosecution was rife with legal mistakes and misconduct.

Earlier this summer, Puracal's defense team presented their arguments before an appeals court in Nicaragua, which decided last week to vacate all charges against him.

One of Puracal's attorneys picked him up from the notorious La Modelo prison near Managua late last week and drove him out of the gates. Puracal immediately took a hot shower, and then another and another.

The prison is notorious for its harsh treatment of inmates and for housing some of the region's most violent criminals. Puracal said he had been beaten and been refused water and food for days at a time and had developed a painful inflammation in his bowels and lost a lot of weight.

Puracal talked about the experience with Cooper on Monday night.

"It is a notorious prison -- just the conditions and overcrowding of it and the danger of it. What is that first moment like when the gate slams behind you and you realize the reality of where you are?" Cooper asked.

"I was with rapists, murderers and actual drug dealers," Puracal said. "It's a very violent place. There's a lot of tension between different groups in there; not only the conditions, but the other people around you."

There were times, in the beginning, when Puracal just couldn't believe what was happening to him.

"I didn't believe that I was there, and I kept thinking to myself, 'Oh this is just a big mistake' and that they will let me go any day now," he said. "And the whole time, 'Oh yeah, any day now I should be going,' and it just kept dragging on and dragging on."

What is it like being a free man?

"It's wonderful ... it's very overwhelming," Puracal said. "But I'm happy to be back with my family my wife and my son. ... It's still very, very surreal. The whole experience has been very unbelievable."

He said that his sister Janis Puracal, a Seattle lawyer who was his biggest advocate, sometimes was able to visit him in prison. She brought stacks of supportive e-mails. They were from friends and family but also from strangers who heard about his case through the awareness group FreeJason.com, which publicized his case.

The e-mails were a huge help, but "there were days where I started losing hope," he said. "It's a very negative environment, that prison."

Puracal meditated on his son. He thought about his Nicaraguan wife Scarlett.

They met not long after he moved from Washington state to the country, first to work as a Peace Corps volunteer and then as a real estate agent.

The couple settled in San Juan del Sur, a popular beach town in southwest Nicaragua.

On November 11, 2010, Nicaraguan police raided Puracal's ReMax office and his home.

Police also took custody of Puracal's truck and the clothes he was wearing; yet 48 hours after he was detained, police asked him to put his clothes back on and get into his truck so authorities could take pictures, according to former FBI Agent Steve Moore, who has reviewed the case documents. He said police then claimed they found a substance that could be cocaine.

"Basic chain of command was not followed," Moore, part of a group of vocal supporters, told CNN in February.

"You can imagine you feel greatly violated that you are being accused of these horrific crimes with absolutely no evidence," Puracal told Cooper. "But I just didn't believe that those things can happen. You don't think that it can happen to you."

By late Monday night, Puracal was exhausted. He kept playing with Jabu, though.

He still has all those papers, the life lessons he wrote for his son.

"I want to turn them into a book for him," he told CNN. "I want him to be able to keep it."

He still loves Nicaragua, he said. He doesn't blame a country for the acts of a few people. He plans to go back to college to get a degree in sustainable urban development to do what he began in the Peace Corps years ago.

"I still do love Nicaragua. I still believe in its potential. I still love the people there," he said. "There's wrongful convictions in every country around the world, including the United States, so I can't isolate it just to Nicaragua. And I hope that one day that I'll be able to finish some of the social projects that I was working on."

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Delta Founders Day 2020

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