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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

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Dr. Karin Edwards Named New President of Clark College

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OneUnited Bank Launches New Limited-Edition Harriet Tubman Card

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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,...

Chinook returns in Columbia River could be near-record low

Spring chinook salmon could return on the Columbia River in the second lowest numbers in 21 years, according to Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife.This year’s forecasted return of 81,700 upriver spring chinook is up 12% from last year’s return of 73,100, which was the...

Hiker rescued after crawling 8 hours for cell service

PORT ANGELES, Wash. (AP) — An injured hiker in Washington state was airlifted to safety over the weekend after crawling through the forest for eight hours to get cell phone service, a TV station reported Sunday,The hiker was rescued near Olympic National Park around 4 a.m. on Saturday after...

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: Sanders predicts Texas victory on Super Tuesday

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on presidential campaign developments (all times local):3:05 p.m.Bernie Sanders is predicting victory in Texas not only in the Democratic primary but in November’s general election.The Vermont senator adopted the tone of a candidate who has already secured...

10,000 mourn victims of racist shooting rampage in Germany

BERLIN (AP) — Around 10,000 protesters marched through the central German town of Hanau on Sunday to mourn the nine people who were killed by an immigrant-hating gunman four days ago.“These days and hours are the blackest and darkest our town has ever experienced during peace...

B. Smith, model turned lifestyle guru, dead at 70

NEW YORK (AP) — Model, restaurateur and lifestyle guru Barbara "B." Smith has died at her Long Island home, her family announced in a statement on social media. She was 70.Smith died Saturday evening after battling early onset Alzheimer's disease, which she was diagnosed with in 2013. She...

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

Self-styled daredevil dies in crash after rocket launch

BARSTOW, Calif. (AP) — A self-styled daredevil died Saturday after a rocket in which he launched himself...

Newman suffered head injury, no internal injuries in crash

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Who is No. 1? Whoever gets to fill out 2020 Census form

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — It's a question spouses, domestic partners and roommates are going to be forced to...

Haiti police exchange fire with troops near national palace

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Off-duty police officers exchanged fire on Sunday with members of the newly...

10,000 mourn victims of racist shooting rampage in Germany

BERLIN (AP) — Around 10,000 protesters marched through the central German town of Hanau on Sunday to mourn...

Carnival in Belgium again has Jewish stereotypes in parade

BRUSSELS (AP) — The Aalst Carnival parade included stereotypical depictions of Jews for the second year in...

McMenamins
Natasha Maguda CNN

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (CNN) -- Heroin, cocaine and amphetamines are the kind of street drugs you expect to find in the shady corners of any city, hiding away from the glare of law enforcement.

But in one small space in downtown Vancouver addicts openly inject their fixes -- as medics watch on.

This is InSite, North America's only legal safe drug injection center. A banner outside reads "InSite saves lives."

It's a facility where drug addicts can bring and use their drugs and not risk arrest.

Some of the addicts line up two or three times a day to use one of the 12 injection booths.

One of the first users of the day is Steve. The center opens at 10 a.m. and then runs steadily for 18 hours until 4 a.m. Approximately 800 people use the booths every day.

Steve gives his alias to the receptionist -- all InSite users have an official alias to protect their identity -- and moves into the injection room.

He takes a seat and calmly begins to prepare his hit of heroin. He uses the clean needle and sterile equipment provided by InSite.

The white powder is mixed with water in a spoon, gently heated with a candle, before being drawn into the syringe, and injected into the inside of Steve's elbow. It's not for the squeamish. There's quite a lot of blood.

With fluorescent lighting and lots of mirrors, the atmosphere is clinical, even as the room fills with drug addicts focused on one task only -- feeding their addiction.

Medical staff are on hand and watching closely. If needed they can help addicts find the right vein to shoot up into -- something which can be tricky for long-term users. But their main job is to step in when a user overdoses.

Steve has overdosed here three times.

"I'm glad it was here [where I overdosed]. It's still in my hope that maybe I can get clean. I'm only 48. And that's why these places ... it's just, it's common sense! When you have a problem that's grown for whatever reason to the epic proportions that it has in this city, it's time to come up with a really good solution, and this is it."

Vancouver is regularly lauded as one of the best places in the world to live. It's famously the city where you can ski in the morning, and swim in the afternoon. But the quality of life in the alleyways behind InSite is something altogether different.

The Downtown East side is often labeled as the poorest postal code in Canada, which stands in stark contrast to the rest of the city's red hot real estate market.

The alleyways are full of thousands of drug addicts, prostitutes and dealers. Vancouver Police Department estimates that these few blocks are home to more than 5,000 intravenous drug users.

In the alleys we meet Liane -- another long-term user - who has used InSite since it opened in 2003. She is articulate, educated, and angry.

She says that without InSite addicts would be still be getting high but without any of the medical oversight.

To many around the world it may seem astonishing that a place like InSite exists. But for the people in the nearby streets who use it, it's a lifeline.

Clean needles stop the spread of infections like HIV and Hepatitis C, and daily access to medical staff is all the more important for people living in harsh, exposed conditions.

In 1997, Vancouver had the highest rate of HIV in the developed world.

Using InSite makes sense, says Liane. It relieves the pressure of shooting up behind rubbish bins, or using dirty puddle water, or relying on a shared needle.

"We have to stop making it a moral issue and realise that this is a medical problem. Remember us addicts, we're somebody's mothers, we're somebody's sister, we're somebody's daughter -- we're not just a number -- the next time you pass me on the street and shake your head."

Of course not everyone agrees with safe injection sites.

Author, actor, and addiction counselor, David Berner, opened Canada's first ever residential treatment center for addicts back in 1967. He firmly believes that the best harm reduction strategies are centered on abstinence.

"There's only one problem with this place [InSite]. It ignores completely the mechanics of addiction. What are the mechanics of addiction? The mechanics of addiction are I want more.

"I understand reaching out and saying, 'Betty, Jack, you want to get clean? Let's go do some work. Let's get clean. It can happen, you can do it.' I don't understand, 'here's a needle, go shoot some more.'"

InSite is funded by taxpayers, at a cost of $3 million Canadian per year. It says for every tax dollar spent, four are saved, by preventing expensive medical treatments for addicts further down the line.

The center has some support from the mayor, local government and some residents. The opening of InSite was a major campaign issue in Vancouver's 2002 civic elections.

Supervised injection sites are not supported, however, by the Canadian federal government. Prime Minister Stephen Harper's opposition to InSite is well-documented. Speaking in 2005, he said: "We as a government will not fund drug use."

His then health minister, Tony Clement, went further in a 2008 letter to Canada's "Globe and Mail" newspaper: "A more apt analogy of what InSite does ... would be a doctor holding a cigarette to make sure a smoker doesn't burn his lips, or watching a woman with cardiac problems eat fatty French fries to ensure she swallows them properly."

The site is allowed to stay open only with a special license -- the result of a bitter battle with the Canadian government that went to the Canadian Supreme Court.

In September 2011 judges ruled in favor of keeping InSite open against the wishes of Prime Minister Harper. The court said InSite allows drug addicts access to the same healthcare as other Canadian citizens.

The dramatic Supreme Court ruling set a precedent and other cities in Canada, including Toronto and Montreal, had been watching closely.

Councilor Gord Perks is chairman of the Toronto Drug Strategy. "The Supreme Court ruling is a game changer. Now actually it's the law of the land that we have to provide equal access to medical services, including to people with drug addiction. So we've made progress."

A four-year study into the viability of injection rooms in Ontario province recommended three sites in Toronto, and two more in Ottawa - the nation's capital.

But the findings of the Toronto and Ottawa Supervised Consumption Assessment Study (TOSCA), published in 2012, were swiftly rejected by the Toronto city administration.

Toronto's drug problem is not as visible as Vancouver's but it's still there, with about 9,000 people in the city shooting up daily.

As TOSCA revealed, more than 50 percent of the public supported the opening of an injection room in Ontario.

Perks thinks it's only a matter of time. "We've started to get people to face the very difficult fact that if you do not provide this medical service you are killing people. And I think it's only a few years away until we have a supervised injection site here in Toronto."

Injection rooms exist in a number of countries. The first opened in Switzerland in 1986, and since then Australia, Norway, Spain, Germany and others have followed suit.

Accepting injection rooms as a legitimate part of drug strategy is hard for Berner to comprehend.

"It's more humane to help a person stay stupid? To help a person stay enslaved? You don't need to have heroin or needles or crack pipe kits to entice people to health. You could approach people and say, "let me look at that sore. I'm a nurse. Let's clean you up a bit.""

But for people like Liane, it's a harsh reality that she may never get off drugs. She has been using for 20 years and InSite is her best hope of staying connected with medical and welfare services.

"I'm entitled to healthcare, and being treated like a human being, and not being looked at as somebody that isn't, somebody you don't want to talk about, like a dirty little secret.

"InSite in general, it's saved my life once, and it saved my husband's life on three different occasions."

She has a swift retort when asked whether other cities should open injection rooms. "Do they have drug users? And if the answer is yes, then the answer is embrace it."

Todd Schwarzchild contributed to this report

 

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