12-02-2021  8:41 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Sen. Manning on the Year Ahead and the Year That Was

Prominent BIPOC Caucus member concerned with gun regulation, access to Covid-19 testing

Dozens of Oregon Workers Fired for Not Getting COVID Shot

Officials in Oregon say at least 99 state workers have been fired for failing to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Attorney General Rosenblum Says She Won’t Run for Governor

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum on Monday put to rest rumors and officially said she will not enter Oregon’s crowded race for governor.

Portland’s Black Population Grew in the Last Decade, but That’s Not the Whole Story

The Black population in North and Northeast Portland declined by 13.5% over the last 10 years as more than 3,000 Black residents moved away, new numbers from the 2020 census show.

NEWS BRIEFS

Oregon's Cannabis Industry Could Be More Vulnerable Than Ever

Portland is the first in the country to allocate cannabis tax revenue to relieve the industry's impacts of...

Open Enrollment Deadline Is Dec. 15 for Health Insurance Coverage Starting Jan. 1, 2022

Help applying and financial assistance is available through the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace ...

Commissioners From Three Counties Select Lawrence-Spence to Fill Senate District 18 Vacancy

District 18 includes portions of west Portland and Tigard. ...

Congressional Black Caucus Issues a Statement on the Passing of Former Congresswoman Carrie P. Meek

Meek, the first Black person to represent Florida in Congress since the post-Civil War Reconstruction, died Sunday, Nov. 28 at her...

Vsp Global Partners With Black EyeCare Perspective to Eliminate Inequities and Increase Representation of People of Color in the Eye Care Industry

Partnership includes scholarships, leadership development, and outreach to prospective optometrists ...

Yakama Nation approves school district use of Warrior image

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — Yakama Nation officials said this week they will allow a rural school district in central Washington to continue the use of the Wahluke Warrior image while a plan for respectful usage is developed. The Yakima Herald-Republic reports the Wahluke School...

Christmas tree buyers face reduced supplies, higher prices

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Even Christmas trees aren’t immune to the pandemic-induced shortages and inflation plaguing the economy. Extreme weather and supply chain disruptions have reduced supplies of both real and artificial trees this season. American shoppers should expect...

No. 25 Arkansas beats Missouri, caps best season since 2011

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Sam Pittman grinned for almost the entirety of his postgame press conference Friday night. The Arkansas coach and his team had done something no others ever had. The No. 25 Razorbacks capped their regular season with a 34-17 victory over Missouri,...

Mizzou's Drinkwitz returning to Arkansas for rivalry game

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Just 45 miles of interstate highway separate Eli Drinkwitz from where he started and where he is now as Missouri's head football coach. Raised in the small Arkansas town of Alma, Drinkwitz will come full circle Friday when his Tigers visit No. 25...

OPINION

State is Painting Lipstick on Its One-of-a-kind, Long-term-care Law

Starting in January, the unpopular law imposes a stiff new tax of 58 cents per 0 earned for every worker in the state ...

Giving Thanks

Just by being alive we can be sure of having moments of sadness as well as happiness. When you’re active in politics, you experience both wins and losses. Sometimes it can be hard to feel grateful. ...

Acting on Climate will Require an Emphasis on Environmental Justice

Climate change affects us all, but its effects aren’t distributed equally. ...

Small Businesses Cannot Survive With Current Level of Postal Service

At The Skanner News office we received an important piece of correspondence that was postmarked June 12, 2021, and delivered to us on November 4, 2021. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Final goodbye: Recalling influential people who died in 2021

They both carved out sterling reputations as military and political leaders over years of public service. But both also saw their legacies tarnished by the long, bloody war in Iraq. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are among the...

Ball for 1st Black St. Pete mayor canceled over circus theme

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A ball planned for the first Black mayor of a major Florida city has been canceled amid concerns its circus theme was inappropriate in the once-segregated city. The Junior League of St. Petersburg, which has thrown such balls since 2006, scrapped...

Florida law school creates Ben Crump social justice center

A law school in South Florida will announce on Thursday the creation of a social justice center named after Ben Crump, the Black civil rights attorney who has gained national notoriety representing victims of police brutality and vigilante violence. The Benjamin L. Crump Center...

ENTERTAINMENT

Dystopia, 'she-cession,' TikTok dances: We're over you, 2021

NEW YORK (AP) — The pandemic, politics, pervasive anxiety over the climate and the economy. Did 2021 leave us any time to ponder anything else? As we limp our way into a new year, there are a few more things we'd like to leave behind, from pop culture's obsession with all things apocalyptic to...

Smollett defense questions credibility of star state witness

CHICAGO (AP) — Jussie Smollett’s legal team on Thursday worked to dent the credibility of a star state witness who the day before testified that the former “Empire” actor recruited him and his brother to stage a racist, homophobic attack. Defense attorney Shay Allen...

Jacqueline Avant, wife of music legend, killed in shooting

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Jacqueline Avant, a Los Angeles philanthropist and the wife of legendary music executive Clarence Avant, was fatally shot at their home in Beverly Hills, California, early Wednesday, police said. Police and paramedics arrived at the home after a...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

EXPLAINER: Why was Michigan suspect charged with terrorism?

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan prosecutors on Wednesday charged a teen with terrorism in a deadly mass shooting...

US warns Russia as Kremlin talks about war threat in Ukraine

MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin voiced concern Thursday about a possible escalation of fighting in a separatist...

Biden launching winter COVID-19 booster, testing campaign

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is set to kick off a more urgent campaign for Americans to get COVID-19...

Paris archbishop who had 'ambiguous' relationship resigns

PARIS (AP) — Pope Francis on Thursday accepted the resignation of the archbishop of Paris, who unexpectedly...

US defense chief slams China's drive for hypersonic weapons

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — America's defense chief rebuked China on Thursday, vowing to confront its potential...

UK court backs Meghan in dispute over privacy with publisher

LONDON (AP) — The Duchess of Sussex on Thursday won the latest stage in her long-running privacy lawsuit against...

Elizabeth Cohen Senior Medical Correspondent

(CNN) -- Those who were diagnosed with cancer after working at the World Trade Center site following the September 11, 2001, terror attacks were relieved earlier this week to find out that the federal government would compensate them for their illnesses.

But the news came too late for Jevon Thomas, a worker who died of a rare cancer in April, penniless and distraught. He was 45.

Thomas spent more than a year working on "the pile," breathing in fumes from burning jet fuel and asbestos. For 10 years, federal authorities said it was impossible to make a link between his work and his illness.

"He was so depressed. He didn't want to talk to anybody," says his daughter, Monet Thomas. "If he could have heard this news, it would have made him so happy."

It's not known how many of those who worked at ground zero have died of cancer, according to Dr. Michael Crane, director of the World Trade Center Health Program Clinical Center at New York's Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

While relatives of deceased workers may file claims, the federal program provides no financial or emotional solace for the workers who have died.

"I'm so grateful cancers were included, but when I'm reminded of the people who've died, I get a pain in my heart," Crane says. "It's a real tragedy."

Didn't hesitate to say 'yes'

Thomas was working for a company that installs portable toilets when the planes hit the World Trade Center.

He didn't hesitate to say yes when his boss asked him to set up toilets at ground zero for the emergency workers. He told CNN in an interview two years ago that he worked there without a mask for 10 hours a day, seven days a week, for about 14 months.

Around the time he stopped working at ground zero, he noticed a lump on his hand. It turned out to be a rare cancer called epithelioid sarcoma.

Thomas had several surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy and had to quit his $65,000-a-year job.

His physician, Dr. Iris Udasin at Rutgers University, found him as much charity care as possible, but his family suffered financially as Thomas' wife is disabled and couldn't work to support their two young children.

At the time, workers could apply for money from the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund if they suffered respiratory problems -- but not cancer, because a scientific link had not been found between the disease and breathing in the fumes at ground zero.

"Instead of everyone uniting, coming together, and figuring out a way to help you, they're figuring out a way of not helping you to save a dollar," Thomas said in 2010. "And that's what it all boils down to. A dollar."

What hurt Thomas the most, his daughter says, is that after graduating high school with honors, she got accepted to a community college, attended orientation and then had to leave because her family couldn't pay the tuition. More than anything, her father had wanted her to be the first in their family to attend college.

"He didn't care about himself. All he cared about was me and my brother," Monet Thomas says through tears. "He knew we needed help."

Her brother hasn't been able to find work, her mother is too sick to work and Monet, 21, supports the family by working as a hotel clerk in Secaucus, New Jersey.

"I feel like I'm going nowhere," she says.

'Tension between two poles'

When CNN interviewed Thomas two years ago, he said he was "100% sure" his cancer came from his work at ground zero.

"You can't work in an environment with so many different chemicals and carcinogens ... for a year straight, day in and day out, and not come down with something," he said.

But scientists weren't so sure. While someone's cancer might be because of his or her work at ground zero, it might also have been a coincidence -- Thomas might have gotten cancer anyway.

The long lag time makes it particularly difficult to study the link between ground zero and cancer. Cancer doesn't develop quickly after breathing in something toxic, the way asthma might. Instead, leukemia can take five to six years to develop, and solid tumors can take 10 to 20 years.

"People were very concerned that they were going to pull the trigger on the (federal) coverage too soon and they would end up covering people who didn't have a World Trade Center cancer," Crane says.

"They were trying to do this in an absolutely scientific way, according to rigorous principles of epidemiology, which is important to do," Crane adds. "But on the other hand, you have to balance that against the needs of needy and really sick people. There's a tension between those two poles."

In the end, a study of firefighters helped persuade the government to include cancers. In the study, firefighters who worked at ground zero were 19% more likely to develop cancer than firefighters who did not.

'He would never take it back'

Monet Thomas says her father would be "grateful" for the decision to compensate cancer victims who worked at ground zero, even though it took more than a decade.

"He would be crying right now," she said when she heard about the decision.

Even though her father was depressed, destitute and felt alone at the end of his life, she says he never regretted his work on the pile.

"He was proud of what he did," she says. "He was a hero, and he would never take it back."

CNN's Stephanie Smith, William Hudson and Georgiann Caruso contributed to this report.

 

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