10-23-2019  3:18 am   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Washington State Ecology Director Objects to EPA’s Proposed Clean Water Act Rule

Ecology Director Maia Bellon submitted formal objections in which she calls the proposal ill-advised and illegal

Washington State to Vote on Affirmative Action Referendum

More than two decades after voters banned affirmative action, the question of whether one's minority status should be considered in state employment, contracting, colleges admissions is back on the ballot

Merkley Introduces Legislation that Protects Access to Health Care for Those Who Cannot Afford Bail

Under current law, individuals in custody who have not been convicted of a crime are denied Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’ benefits

New County Hire Aims to Build Trust, Transparency Between Community and Public Safety Officials

Leneice Rice will serve as a liaison focused on documenting and reporting feedback from a community whose faith in law enforcement has been tested

NEWS BRIEFS

U.S. Census Bureau Hosts Job Recruitment Events in Portland

There are several opportunities to ‘Meet the Employer’ today through Saturday for more information or to apply for 2020 census...

GFO Offers African Americans Help in Solving Family Mysteries

The Genealogical Forum of Oregon is holding an African American Special Interest Group Saturday, Oct. 19 ...

Third Annual NAMC-WA Gala Features Leader on Minority Business Development

The topic of the Washington Chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors' event was 'Community and Collaboration' ...

Building Bridges Event Aims to Strengthen Trust Between Communities

The 4th Annual Building Bridges of Understanding in Our Communities: Confronting Hate will be held in Tigard on...

The Black Man Project Kicks Off National Tour in Seattle

The first in a series of interactive conversations focused on Black men and vulnerability takes place in Seattle on October 25 ...

Woman sues Oregon clinic over claims of past abuse by doctor

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A woman who says she was repeatedly sexually abused by her pediatrician has filed a jumi million lawsuit against the doctor's former medical clinic in Oregon.The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Tuesday that the woman says the abuse occurred in the 1980s and early 1990s at...

Police: Body found is missing university student

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland police say a body found near the St. Johns Bridge in Northwest Portland is a missing University of Portland freshman.Police on Tuesday evening said that the medical examiner's office had conducted an autopsy and positively identified the body as Owen...

AP Top 25: Ohio State jumps Clemson to 3rd; Wisconsin falls

Ohio State edged past Clemson to No. 3 in The Associated Press college football poll and Wisconsin dropped to 13th after being upset ahead of its showdown with the Buckeyes.Alabama remained No. 1 on Sunday in the AP Top 25 presented by Regions Bank, receiving 24 first-place votes. No. 2 LSU held...

Vaughn scores twice, Vandy upsets No. 22 Missouri 21-14

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Derek Mason wants it known he's the best coach for the Vanderbilt Commodores.Riley Neal came off the bench and threw a 21-yard touchdown to Cam Johnson with 8:57 left, and Vanderbilt upset No. 22 Missouri 21-14 on Saturday with a stifling defensive...

OPINION

Atatiana Jefferson, Killed by Police Officer in Her Own Home

Atatiana Jefferson, a biology graduate who worked in the pharmaceutical industry and was contemplating becoming a doctor, lived a life of purpose that mattered ...

“Hell No!” That Is My Message to Those Who Would Divide Us 

Upon release from the South African jail, Nelson Mandela told UAW Local 600 members “It is you who have made the United States of America a superpower, a leader of the world" ...

Rep. Janelle Bynum Issues Response to the Latest Statement from Clackamas Town Center

State legislator questions official response after daughter questioned for ‘loitering’ in parking lot ...

Why Would HUD Gut Its Own Disparate Impact Rule?

"You can’t expand housing rights by limiting civil protections. The ’D’ in HUD doesn’t stand for ‘Discrimination’" ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Trump claim brings new pain to relatives of lynching victims

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Willie Edwards Jr., a black truck driver, was killed by Ku Klux Klansmen who forced him to jump off a bridge in Alabama in 1957. Two years earlier, white men had bludgeoned black teenager Emmett Till to death in Mississippi. No one went to prison for either...

Farewells to US Rep. Elijah Cummings to begin in Baltimore

BALTIMORE (AP) — Constituents, friends and other mourners are set to gather at a historically black college in Baltimore to honor the life of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings in the first of a series of planned services.The Maryland congressman and civil rights champion died Thursday of...

Trump 2020 targeting Hispanic vote in nontraditional places

YORK, Pa. (AP) — President Donald Trump's reelection campaign is making contrarian appeals in the most unusual places, trying to win over Hispanic voters in states not known for them, like Pennsylvania.His second campaign, far better financed and organized than his first, is pressing every...

ENTERTAINMENT

Liam Gallagher talks solo rise, family feud and rock music

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Spend a few minutes with Liam Gallagher and it's clear the rocker hasn't lost any of his bravado, right down to counting himself among the greats in rock history.But Gallagher does acknowledge that one band breakup — not, Oasis, but rather the demise of Beady Eye in...

Lori Loughlin, other parents charged again in college scheme

BOSTON (AP) — "Full House" actress Lori Loughlin, her fashion designer husband and nine other parents faced new federal charges Tuesday in a scandal involving dozens of wealthy parents accused of bribing their children's way into elite universities or cheating on college entrance exams.A...

Celebrities to get drag makeovers in RuPaul's new VH1 series

LOS ANGELES (AP) — RuPaul is giving a dozen celebrities the chance to get drag makeovers for charity and bragging rights.VH1 said Tuesday that "RuPaul's Celebrity Drag Race" will air as a limited series next year.Each of the four episodes will feature a trio of stars competing for best drag...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Soto, Nationals top Cole, Astros 5-4 in World Series opener

HOUSTON (AP) — Juan Soto and the Washington Nationals quickly derailed the Cole Express.A 20-year-old...

39 people found dead in truck container in southeast England

LONDON (AP) — Police in southeastern England said 39 people were found dead Wednesday inside a truck...

Trump 2020 targeting Hispanic vote in nontraditional places

YORK, Pa. (AP) — President Donald Trump's reelection campaign is making contrarian appeals in the most...

Q&A: How a woman's death got tangled in Hong Kong politics

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Around Valentine's Day last year, the decomposing body of a pregnant Hong Kong woman,...

Botswana votes as ruling party faces surprising challenge

GABORONE, Botswana (AP) — Polls opened in Botswana on Wednesday as the long-peaceful southern African...

UK prime minister mulls early election over Brexit impasse

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared to be pushing Wednesday for an early general...

McMenamins
Bill Mears Supreme Court Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Supreme Court kicked off its new term on Monday, struggling to clarify when foreign victims of torture and other crimes against humanity can sue corporations and others in federal courts.

The outcome could have significant global impact from a moral, political, and financial perspective.

At issue, is the scope of a federal law that is increasingly being used in an effort to hold those accountable for human rights atrocities committed overseas.

A dozen Nigerian political activists now living under asylum in the United States claim foreign oil companies were complicit in violent abuse at the hands of their former country's military. The decade-old lawsuits have been blocked from going to trial in American courts.

The Obama administration is siding partly with the foreign businesses.

The justices first heard the case in February, trying to sort out whether individuals alone -- or political groups and corporations also -- are covered by broad civil immunity for alleged international law abuses.

Now the court will decide that and a more fundamental question: whether the 1789 federal law can be applied to any conduct committed entirely outside the United States.

"Do you disagree [there] are fair [international] judicial systems where a plaintiff can get a fair shake?" said Justice Samuel Alito, reflecting general conservative skepticism. "If that's so, then why does this case belong in the courts of the United States, when it has nothing to do with the United States other than the fact that a subsidiary of the defendant has a big operation here?"

But other justices said federal courts for two centuries were open to such foreign claims, initially in response to piracy on the high seas.

"We gave a stamp of approval" to such lawsuits in a 1980 case, said Justice Elena Kagan, "understanding that there were certain categories of offenders who were today's pirates."

Chief Justice John Roberts wasted little time before moving on to the first of two cases. The nine-member bench remains the same, and showed no signs of discord after the controversial, landmark ruling in late June upholding President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

One little-noticed change was Justice Antonin Scalia, no longer wearing glasses after having cataract eye surgery in recent weeks.

The human rights appeal was filed on behalf of residents of the oil-abundant Ogoni area of the Niger River delta. Two decades ago, they protested the long-standing environmental harm caused by Shell and other energy firms from petroleum extraction.

They and their families claim the Nigerian government brutally suppressed them, "aided and abetted" by private corporations doing business there. The Ogoni 9 -- as the key leaders became known -- were allegedly detained, tortured, and tried by a special Nigerian military tribunal, in violation of international human rights treaties.

The Nigerian government's 1993-95 crackdown sparked global outrage after author Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other activists were convicted, then hanged.

Among those bringing suit is his nephew, Charles Wiwa, who escaped the oppression and now lives in Chicago as a political refugee. He described being a student activist beaten by soldiers for hours in front of a crowd of onlookers, then detained and tortured for days

He claims Shell -- based in the Netherlands and Britain -- conspired with the government to keep its business operations going in the face of protests, and should be held accountable for ignoring or encouraging a pattern of killings, rapes, beatings, and property destruction. He said the only place to obtain justice is in the United States.

"Nigeria's dictatorship has grown rich from its oil," Wawa told CNN. "It is important those (oil) companies be held responsible, because we cannot bring any legal action in courts in Nigeria."

The U.S. law in question is the Alien Tort Statute, which gives federal courts jurisdiction over civil claims from foreigners that they were harmed by international law violations. It was largely ignored for decades, but has now become an important legal vehicle for those bring human rights claims.

Similar lawsuits involve Chevron and Exxon energy operations in Indonesia; Chiquita Brand fruit farms in Colombia; and businesses that operated years ago in the now-outlawed apartheid system in South Africa.

The high court in 2004 endorsed use of the statute in question, but only in limited circumstances.

Paul Hoffman, attorney for the Nigerians, said the United States was a proper judicial forum for such limited claims.

"The trend in the world today is towards universal justice for people and corporations that violate these kinds of norms," he told the court. "In fact, the United States has been the leader in that. Our government has proclaimed our leadership position to U.N. bodies and around the world.

All four left-leaning justices were skeptical about giving corporations a judicial free pass of sorts.

When Kathleen Sullivan, attorney for the corporations, suggested prior court precedent did not deal with the current dispute, Sotomayor shook her head.

"You're basically saying [the prior cases] were all wrong," said Sotomayor. "Counsel, how can you say that? Maybe the facts didn't, but certainly the reasoning of the case addressed that issue very directly basically said it does" give Nigerians a chance to make their case in U.S. courts.

A ruling is expected in a few months.

The case is Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum (10-1491).

 

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