02-22-2020  5:21 pm   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
The Skanner Black History Month
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Jeremy Christian Guilty of Killing 2 Who Tried to Stop His Slurs on Max

Today jurors found Christian guilty of the May 26, 2017 stabbing deaths of Taliesin Namkai-Meche and Ricky Best

States Step Up Funding for Planned Parenthood Clinics

A spokesman for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon said the agency has been "working closely with state officials to create critical backstops and protect access to care for all Oregonians who need it, regardless of federal action on Title X"

Oregon Denies Permit for Pipeline Before Federal Decision

Oregon's Department of Land Conservation and Development says a proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal in Coos Bay would have significant adverse effects on the state's coastal scenic and aesthetic resources, endangered species and critical habitat

Rep. Blumenauer Joined by Sens. Markey, Sanders, and Warren to Introduce Bill to Hold Big Oil Companies Accountable

"Amidst the growing climate emergency, closing this loophole is a small step we must take to hold Big Oil accountable and to protect our communities," said Blumenauer. 

NEWS BRIEFS

African American Initiative Breast Cancer Survivor Celebration to be Held Saturday

Susan G. Komen Oregon and SW Washington celebrate breast cancer survivors in the African American community with a free gala this...

Dr. Karin Edwards Named New President of Clark College

Board of Trustees names Dr. Karin Edwards as the college’s 15th leader in its 87-year history ...

OneUnited Bank Launches New Limited-Edition Harriet Tubman Card

OneUnited Bank, the largest Black-owned bank in America, introduces the new limited-edition Harriet Tubman Card in celebration of...

Oregon House Votes to End Driver’s License Suspensions for Failure to Pay Fines

Bipartisan Vote Underscores Consensus for Reforms, Makes Way for Senate Action ...

Black History Month 2020: “African Americans and the Vote”

In our celebration of Black History Month 2020, the DPO Black Caucus looks forward to the screening of the award-winning documentary,...

University lab cited for animal welfare violations in Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon Health & Science University laboratory was cited for violating animal welfare laws after five prairie voles died of thirst, federal inspectors said.The U.S. Department of Agriculture also cited the university after a person risked contaminating surgical...

Man charged in truck stop stabbing sent to state hospital

ONTARIO, Ore. (AP) — A Colorado man charged in what Oregon prosecutors say was a hate crime stabbing has been found unfit for trial and will be sent to the Oregon State Hospital before his legal case can move forward.The Argus-Observer in Ontario reports Malheur County Circuit Court Judge...

OPINION

Black America is Facing a Housing Crisis

As the cost of housing soars the homeless population jumps 12 percent, the number of people renting grows and homeownership falls ...

Trump Expands Muslim Ban to Target Africans

Under the new ban on countries, four out of five people who will be excluded are Africans ...

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 ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

The Latest: Klobuchar upbeat after trailing in Nevada

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Latest on the 2020 presidential campaign (all times local):8:08 p.m.Amy Klobuchar is telling supporters her presidential campaign has “exceeded expectations” and she plans to carry on, even as she trailed far behind several rivals in Saturday’s...

Sanders wins Nevada caucuses, takes national Democratic lead

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Bernie Sanders scored a resounding victory in Nevada’s presidential caucuses on Saturday, cementing his status as the Democrats' national front-runner amid escalating tensions over whether he’s too liberal to defeat President Donald Trump. While Sanders scored...

Street by Vanderbilt basketball gym named for Perry Wallace

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The first black basketball player on scholarship in the Southeastern Conference now has a street named after him outside of Vanderbilt University's Memorial Gymnasium. Family members of the late Perry Wallace joined school officials, Vanderbilt men's basketball coach...

ENTERTAINMENT

'West Side Story' opening draws protesters on Broadway

NEW YORK (AP) — There was a chorus outside the Broadway Theatre on Thursday at the opening night of a new revival of “West Side Story” but what was being sung was a protest chant.A group of about 100 people demanded the removal of cast member Amar Ramasar, who was fired and...

Broadway's 'To Kill a Mockingbird' readies for Garden visit

NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Kyle Scatliffe has gone to Madison Square Garden plenty of times — for a Rangers game, a Muse concert and a WWE event. Next week, he's going back again, but this time he won't be in the seats.Scatliffe on Wednesday will be starring in the hit Broadway play...

OWN's 'Cherish the Day' is a rare celebration of black love

LOS ANGELES (AP) — To separate filmmaker and TV producer Ava DuVernay’s trenchant, history-driven projects, including “Selma” and “When They See Us,” from her new romantic drama series is to sell short the determined thoughtfulness that shapes all her...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

AP FACT CHECK: Donald Trump and the audacity of hype

WASHINGTON (AP) — In their boisterous presidential debate, several Democrats sold short the health care...

After learning of Whitey Bulger LSD tests, juror has regrets

EASTHAM, Mass. (AP) — One of the jurors who convicted notorious crime boss James “Whitey”...

AP Exclusive: DEA agent accused of conspiring with cartel

MIAMI (AP) — A once-standout U.S. federal narcotics agent known for spending lavishly on luxury cars and...

Italy towns close down amid virus case clusters, 2 deaths

CODOGNO, Italy (AP) — A dozen towns in northern Italy effectively went into lockdown Saturday after the...

US leads training exercises in Africa amid focus on Sahel

THIES, Senegal (AP) — Crouching in the sparse brush, maneuvering into formations through a divide, and then...

At Trump's India rally, Modi bets on bolstering his image

AHMEDABAD, India (AP) — A festive mood has enveloped Ahmedabad in India’s northwestern state of...

McMenamins
Sebastian Rotella Propublica

A former Guatemalan Army lieutenant was extradited Friday from Canada to stand trial in Southern California on federal charges related to the massacre of 250 people in a Guatemalan village in 1982, a case that has resulted in landmark human rights prosecutions in Guatemala and the United States.

U.S. federal officers took custody of Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes in Calgary Friday morning and were en route to Los Angeles, U.S. officials said. Sosa, 54, is the highest-ranking officer to have been arrested on charges alleging direct involvement in the massacre by a 20-man unit of elite commandos in the northern Guatemalan farming hamlet of Dos Erres.



In May, ProPublica reported the story of Oscar Alfredo Ramírez Castañeda, who learned only last year that he was a Dos Erres survivor. He had been abducted by a commander of the unit and raised by his family.

Sosa, a karate instructor who holds both U.S. and Canadian citizenship, fled his home in the Los Angeles area in mid-2010 as agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) closed in on him. He went to Mexico and then to Lethbridge in western Canada, where he has family, and was arrested in January of last year, according to U.S. and Canadian court documents. Last month, a Canadian appeals court ended his legal fight to avoid extradition to the United States.

Because U.S. courts do not have jurisdiction for the massacre, federal prosecutors indicted Sosa on charges of lying on immigration forms. He allegedly concealed his military service and involvement in Dos Erres on the forms when he obtained citizenship in 2008 and residency 10 years earlier, according to an indictment filed in 2010. The trial could start in about two months in federal court in Riverside, Calif.

In Dos Erres, Sosa allegedly oversaw the slaughter of men, women and children who were dumped in a well during a day-long frenzy of torture, rape and pillage, according to U.S. and Guatemalan court documents. He allegedly fired his rifle and threw a grenade into a pile of living and dead victims in the well, according to the testimony in Guatemalan courts of two former soldiers who are now protected witnesses.

Sosa was a sub-lieutenant at the time, junior in rank only to three lieutenants in the squad of highly-trained commando instructors. Sosa denied guilt during a recent telephone interview with ProPublica from jail in Calgary. He said he was in another village doing a military public works project on the day of the massacre in December 1982. He described the charges against him as the product of a conspiracy.

The Dos Erres case was one of the worst of hundreds of massacres during Guatemala's 30-year civil war, which ended in 1996 and resulted in more than 200,000 deaths. In "Finding Oscar: Massacre, Memory and Justice in Guatemala," ProPublica told the story through the odyssey of Oscar Ramírez Castañeda, now a 33-year-old father of four living in Boston. After a dogged investigation by Guatemalan prosecutors, Oscar learned last year that his life until that point had been based on a lie.

DNA tests proved that when Oscar was age 3 and living in the village, a commando lieutenant spared his life and abducted him after the unit killed the boy's mother and eight brothers and sisters. The lieutenant died in an accident months later, but his family raised Oscar as if he were one of their own. Oscar, an illegal immigrant who came to the United States in 1998, is now a father of four and works two full-time jobs.

After he learned that he was living proof the massacre, Oscar applied for political asylum. A decision is pending. He met in recent months with a prosecution team from the U.S. Department of Justice and is prepared to tell his story as a witness against Sosa, according to his lawyer, R. Scott Greathead.

"Oscar is ready to provide them with whatever assistance they need," said Greathead. "The Sosa prosecution is very significant. It represents an important law enforcement effort on the part of the U.S. government to punish human rights abusers who make false representations to the U.S. government to get asylum and citizenship."

A key eyewitness will likely be Santos Lopez Alonzo, a former member of the commando unit. Alonzo abducted and raised a 5-year-old boy from Dos Erres who, like Oscar, had survived the attack. Alonzo migrated illegally to Texas, where he was arrested in 2010 for illegal re-entry after deportation and offered to testify against other Dos Erres suspects, according to court documents. He was sentenced to time served and is in federal custody as a material witness, according to court documents.

The prosecution's approach to the Sosa case resembles the investigation of Gilberto Jordan, a former commando who was tracked down in Florida by ICE agents in 2010. Jordan confessed his role in the massacre and pleaded guilty to similar immigration charges. Jordan received the maximum 10-year sentence and is serving time in federal prison.

U.S. authorities deported to Guatemala another former commando who was arrested in California. He became one of five suspects in the case who were convicted by Guatemalan courts. Seven suspects, including the two senior officers in the unit, remain at large.

The suspects were first charged in Guatemala in 2000, but the case remained in limbo because of legal appeals and political resistance by the powerful armed forces. The hunt for the killers in Guatemala and the United States began in earnest in 2010 as the result of a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the appointment of Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz, who has aggressively pursued war crimes and corruption.

Dos Erres is the first massacre of the civil war to result in convictions in Guatemala. It has become a test of the capacity of that nation's embattled justice system to confront impunity and lawlessness. Prosecutors have also charged Gen. Efrain Rios Montt, Guatemala's former dictator, in the Dos Erres case.

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