09-22-2020  5:01 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

US Judge Blocks Postal Service Changes That Slowed Mail

The Yakima, Washington judge called the changes “a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service” before the November election.

Black and Jewish Community Join to Revive Historic Partnership

United in Spirit Oregon brings together members of the NAACP, Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, others to serve as peacemakers 

Feds Explored Possibly Charging Portland Officials in Unrest

Federal officials were told that Portland police officers were explicitly told not to respond to the federal courthouse

Latest: Report: Downed Power Lines Sparked 13 Oregon Fires

As wildfires continue to burn in Oregon and the west, here are today's updates.

NEWS BRIEFS

Black Leaders Endorse Sarah Iannarone for Portland Mayor

Iannarone seeks to unseat an embattled Mayor Ted Wheeler, who has increasingly high unfavorable approval ratings. ...

Today in History: Senate Confirms Nomination of First Female Justice to Supreme Court

On Sept. 21, 1981, the Senate unanimously confirmed the nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor to become the first female justice on the...

Free Masks and Gloves Now Available for Small Businesses

Businesses with fewer than 50 employees that are headquartered in Oregon with principal operations in Oregon are eligible. ...

Forest Service Explains 'Containment'

US Forest Service, Riverside Fire provides a special update to explain how they achieve wildfire containment. ...

Oregon Receives Approval of Federal Disaster Declaration for Wildfires

Decision will enable federal aid to begin flowing, as unprecedented wildfires ravage state and force evacuation of thousands ...

Enormous California wildfire threatens desert homes near LA

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An enormous wildfire that churned through mountains northeast of Los Angeles and into the Mojave Desert was still threatening homes on Monday and was one of more than two dozen major fires burning across California. Five of the largest wildfires in state history are...

Wildfire death toll in Oregon increases to nine

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The number of fatalities from Oregon’s recent wildfires has increased to nine people, the state's Office of Emergency Management confirmed Monday.Fires continued to rage across the West Coast Monday. The Pacific Northwest Region of the Forest Service reported Monday...

AP Top 25 Reality Check: When streaks end, but not really

For the first time since the end of the 2011 season, Ohio State is not ranked in the AP Top 25.The Buckeyes' streak of 132 straight poll appearances is the second-longest active streak in the country, behind Alabama's 198.Of course, in this strange season of COVID-19, Ohio State's streak was...

Potential impact transfers this season aren't limited to QBs

While most of the offseason chatter surrounding college football transfers inevitably focuses on quarterbacks, plenty of notable players at other positions also switched teams and could make major impacts for their new schools this fall.Miami may offer the clearest example of this.Quarterback...

OPINION

SPLC Statement on the Passing of Rev. Robert S. Graetz Jr.

Graetz was the only white clergyman to publicly support the Montgomery Bus Boycott ...

Tell Your Senators: “Let the People Decide”

Just 45 days before Election Day, voters like you should have a say in choosing our next Supreme Court justice ...

Inventor Urges Congress to Pass Laws Upholding Patent Rights

German Supreme Court ruling prevents African American company Enovsys from licensing its widely used technology in Germany ...

The Extraordinary BIPOC Coalition Support Measure 110

Coming together to change the systemic racism of the failed approach to drugs and addiction ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Assaults, arson, slurs: Report finds anti-Semitism in Berlin

BERLIN (AP) — Small square brass plates set in the pavement remember Jewish residents of Berlin's Lichtenberg district who were torn from their homes and killed by the Nazis decades ago. Nearby, the charred remains of a Jewish-run bar destroyed by arson last month attest to a hatred that...

Hamlin, Michael Jordan partner on NASCAR team for Wallace

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Denny Hamlin has joined Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan to form a NASCAR team with Bubba Wallace as the driver, a high-profile pairing of a Black majority team owner and the only Black driver at NASCAR’s top level.The partnership was announced Monday...

Black voters in Detroit key for Biden, but are they engaged?

DETROIT (AP) — Wendy Caldwell-Liddell is tired of waiting for change in Detroit.The nation’s largest Black-majority city has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic and its ensuing economic fallout. More than 14,200 COVID-19 cases and 1,500 deaths have been confirmed in the...

ENTERTAINMENT

Debunked COVID story prompts differing responses on Fox News

NEW YORK (AP) — Fox News Channel's Steve Doocy apologized on Monday “for any confusion” in reporting a now-debunked story about the mayor of Nashville, Tennessee, supposedly concealing the number of coronavirus cases linked to bars and restaurants in that city because they were...

The 'Pandemmys' were weird and sometimes wonderful

It was Regina King, winning her fourth career Emmy on Sunday, who perhaps summed up the proceedings the most succinctly — and accurately: “This is freaking weird."Why, yes, being handed your Emmy inside your home, by a person you didn't know was coming, with fellow nominees zooming in...

Review: 'Agents of Chaos,' from Russia, but not with love

Let's take a trip back in American history, but not too way back. To a time not that unfamiliar — the last presidential election. Do you remember all the stuff swirling around in 2016?Fancy Bear. Paul Manafort. Julian Assange. Guccifer 2.0. George Papadopoulos. The Steele dossier. The...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Ginsburg's style was more than a subtle courtroom statement

WASHINGTON (AP) — The day after Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton to win the 2016 presidential election,...

Tropical Storm Beta makes landfall, brings flooding to Texas

HOUSTON (AP) — Storm surge and rainfall combined Tuesday to bring more flooding along the Texas coast after...

As rich nations struggle, Africa's virus response is praised

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — At a lecture to peers this month, John Nkengasong showed images that once dogged...

As Europe faces 2nd wave of virus, tracing apps lack impact

LONDON (AP) — Mobile apps tracing new COVID-19 cases were touted as a key part of Europe’s plan to...

Assaults, arson, slurs: Report finds anti-Semitism in Berlin

BERLIN (AP) — Small square brass plates set in the pavement remember Jewish residents of Berlin's...

As rich nations struggle, Africa's virus response is praised

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — At a lecture to peers this month, John Nkengasong showed images that once dogged...

Don't Call the Police for domestic disturbances
McMenamins
Bill Mears CNN Supreme Court Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Obama administration struggled to keep its legal head above water at the Supreme Court Tuesday as it defended a series of federally controlled and managed floods that caused major timber damage along an Arkansas river.

A majority of the justices appeared inclined to believe that the periodic release of water from a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dam project begun two decades ago was a government "taking." That legal designation would require the federal government to compensate the state for damages.

The property rights dispute is narrow and unique in many ways, but could clarify the standards for determining the scope, length of time, and impact of government actions affecting many property owners -- private and public.

At issue for the high court is whether the resulting downstream flooding was effectively "permanent" and therefore a "taking," or was merely "temporary" and only a "trespass."

The state of Arkansas owned the flooded land and had earlier won a $5.6 million judgment. Several on the bench appeared inclined to side with the state.

"You knew when you opened up the dam that this is where the water was going to go," Chief Justice John Roberts said to the federal government lawyer.

"Your position seems to be that if it's downstream, somehow it's not the government's water," said Justice Anthony Kennedy. "It's like the old moral refuge that the rocket designers take: I only make the rockets go up; where they come down is not my concern."

The Army completed the Clearwater Dam in 1948, along the Black River in southeastern Missouri, in response to prior natural flooding. About 110 miles downstream, in northeastern Arkansas, is the Dave Donaldson Wildlife Management Area, 23,000 acres of state-owned riparian land used for duck and game hunting, wildlife management, and timber harvesting.

Federal rules for decades had managed normal release of the water, and provided for both "planned" and "unplanned minor deviations." Beginning in 1993 the Corps launched a series of planned, irregular deviations -- quick releases of water during the summer growing season in part to give upstream farmers more time to harvest their crops without their fields becoming inundated.

Under the unique dynamics of stream flow and hydraulics, the result was higher water levels downstream, and long-term flooding of the state property during the critical growing period. The series of deviations lasted until 2000.

The Constitution's Fifth Amendment forbids "private property be taken for public use without just compensation." Even thought the land in question is state property, all sides have treated the land as "private" in nature for purposes of settling the "takings" dispute.

Attorney James Goodhart, arguing for Arkansas, said 100,000 trees were destroyed in 1999 alone, as the controlled, temporary flooding exacerbated a drought at the time. "This management area sat in water during June, July, into August, basically, stagnated water that choked the oxygen from the roots of these trees," he said.

But Justice Sonia Sotomayor questioned the premise. "The problem with this case," she said, "is that flooding is going to occur naturally anyway. The (federal) government generally builds dams to control that flooding to the benefit of all of the interests along its affected route. And at some point, either the government is going to going to make a decision that's going to help someone and potentially hurt someone. And the question is, are all of those situations going to be subject to litigation."

Sotomayor was later equally tough in her questioning of the federal government.

Justice Stephen Breyer was more blunt. "The problem with a flood is you don't take all the land. You send some stuff in. And the stuff is there for a while, and then it comes back. It's called water."

But Justice Department lawyer Edwin Kneedler got into trouble when he argued the controlled dam releases created only "incidental consequences downstream from the dam as a result of the flowage" and that the flooding was not an "occupation by the government."

"So if the government comes in and tells a landowner downstream that every March and April we are going to flood your property so that you can't use it from now on -- that's part of our plan -- that's a taking for those two months, correct?" interjected Roberts. When Kneedler said no, the chief justice shot back, "That's not a taking?"

Justice Antonin Scalia added that this is clearly a case of "a 'foreseeable and certain' incidental consequence."

Kneedler replied it is "hard to explain" how a government action affecting land 110 miles downstream is "direct" in nature. He also argued the congressional Flood Control Act of 1928 -- resulting in a hundreds of federally funded dams across the country -- would not have become law if the government believed it would to be liable for all its good-faith efforts.

"Of course, that (congressional action) can't overrule the (Constitution's) Takings Clause, can it?" replied Scalia. "I mean, that's nice that Congress doesn't want to be liable," he joked.

Sotomayor said she had "significant problems" with the administration's articulation.

The high court has dealt with several flooding cases over the years examining whether damages should be paid by the government. In a similar 1924 dispute, the high court concluded a taking required an "actual, permanent invasion of the land, amounting to an appropriation of and not merely injury to the property."

It is that gateway question the justices must first navigate: whether the Corps of Engineers' flood deviations were in fact a taking. The compensation questions would come later.

In one of the Supreme Court's most controversial recent eminent domain cases, the majority in 2006 allowed a Connecticut city to condemn a private, mostly residential neighborhood, in order to lease the land to a private developer for a high-end development project. The city justified the seizure as a "public use," generating jobs and higher tax revenues.

Justice Elena Kagan is sitting out the Arkansas appeal and did not attend the one-hour oral arguments. She had litigated the case in some form during her previous job as the administration's solicitor general. Her absence could result in a 4-4 high court tie, which would be a victory for the U.S. government, but would set no precedent.

The case is Arkansas Game & Fish Commission v. U.S. (11-597). A ruling is expected by spring.

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