02-27-2024  10:22 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Amid Fentanyl Crisis, Oregon Lawmakers Propose More Funding for Opioid Addiction Medication in Jails

Democrats are looking to counterbalance restoring criminal penalties for possession with expanding access to treatment for a potentially growing number of people in the criminal justice system. The proposal would create a million grant fund for jails looking to provide opioid addiction medication. Federal data shows only 24% of jails provide such medication to people with prior prescriptions.

KGW Apologizes After Airing Racist Image

Television station KGW says it deeply regrets inadvertently showing a racist image during a segment called “The Good Stuff,” which invited viewers to share “cheesy, silly, or memorable” photos from the past. The 1950s image showed children throwing balls towards a sign prominently displaying a racial slur. KGW apologised for “the profound hurt this image inflicted upon our viewers and staff, particularly members of our Black community.” Leaders of the Portland NAACP chapter said they were appalled

Rep. Blumenauer Talks Retirement from Congress and His Plans to Help Put Portland Back Together

U.S. Representative for Oregon has held his seat for nearly 30 years.

NEWS BRIEFS

Black Community Input Helps Fuel George Park Project

The effort is an innovative partnership between the City, Portland Parks Foundation, and The Kidz Outside ...

Renewal of School Local Option Levy Will be on May Ballot

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Wyden, Merkley Announce $70,000 for the Oregon Food Bank

“Nothing is more important than making sure folks in need have food to eat, and the resources to thrive,” Wyden...

Historic Church in Seattle Hosts Free Black History Month Film Series for All

New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, located in Seattle’s historic Central District, will host “Freedom Fridays: A Black History...

Wild weather hits Northwest with snow even as Midwest gets a taste of summer

BOSTON (AP) — February's end is bringing wild weather to much of the United States, with record heat allowing for golf in Wisconsin and outdoor food trucks in Minnesota, along with an increased fire risk across much of the Great Plains. But blinding snow in the Northwest is blowing eastward, and...

US government may sue PacifiCorp, a Warren Buffett utility, for nearly jumiB in wildfire costs

The U.S. government is threatening to sue PacifiCorp, a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, to recover nearly jumi billion in costs related to the 2020 wildfires in southern Oregon and northern California, though the company is trying to negotiate a settlement. The potential...

Vanderbilt visits Arkansas after Battle's 42-point game

Vanderbilt Commodores (7-20, 2-12 SEC) at Arkansas Razorbacks (14-13, 5-9 SEC) Fayetteville, Arkansas; Tuesday, 9 p.m. EST FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK LINE: Razorbacks -10; over/under is 144.5 BOTTOM LINE: Arkansas hosts the Vanderbilt Commodores after Khalif...

No. 24 Florida hosts Missouri after East's 33-point game

Missouri Tigers (8-19, 0-14 SEC) at Florida Gators (19-8, 9-5 SEC) Gainesville, Florida; Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. EST BOTTOM LINE: Missouri visits the No. 24 Florida Gators after Sean East scored 33 points in Missouri's 88-73 loss to the Arkansas Razorbacks. ...

OPINION

Message from Commissioner Jesse Beason: February is 'Black History and Futures Month'

I am honored to join the Office of Sustainability and to co-sponsor a proclamation to mark “Black History and Futures Month” ...

Ending Unfair Contracts Harming Minority Businesses Will Aid Gov. Kotek’s Affordable Housing Goals

Senate Bill 1575 will protect small businesses from state and local government’s unfair contract practices while also allowing the building industry to help the governor meet her affordable housing project goals. ...

February is American Heart Month

This month is a time to recognize that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, especially in the African American community ...

Thrilling History of Black Excellence in Our National Parks

In every facet of American life -from exploration; conquest; defense; economy; resistance; conservation and the pursuit of human rights – I can show you a unit of the National Park System where the event took place, where African Americans made the...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Family of exonerated Black man killed by a Georgia deputy is suing him in federal court

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The family of a Black man fatally shot by a Georgia deputy during an October traffic stop filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday seeking more than million in damages, arguing the deputy used excessive force and the sheriff who employed him ignored the officer's history of...

Could Missouri's 'stand your ground' law apply to the Super Bowl celebration shooters?

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The man accused of firing the first shots at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl rally told authorities he felt threatened, while a second man said he pulled the trigger because someone was shooting at him, according to court documents. Experts say that even...

San Francisco is ready to apologize to Black residents. Reparations advocates want more

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco's supervisors plan to offer a formal apology to Black residents for decades of racist laws and policies perpetrated by the city, a long-awaited first step as it considers providing reparations. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is scheduled to...

ENTERTAINMENT

A trio of warming spices makes this beefy Egyptian omelet dinner-worthy

Omelets often are served at breakfast or brunch in the U.S., but in plenty of cuisines the dinner table is fair game, too. Which also means you're not limited to American-style omelets, which can be overly cheesy, greasy and salty. We keep things lighter and more flavorful with...

Orchids as muse: Flowers and fashion mix inside the NY Botanical Garden's conservatory

“The Orchid Show: Florals in Fashion” is a whimsical mix of fashion and flower creations, a spring-like respite from winter at the New York Botanical Garden. The show includes multitudes of colorful, diverse orchids and accessorizing plants. And with the botanical world as muse,...

Wendy Williams thanks fans for 'overwhelming' response to dementia diagnosis

NEW YORK (AP) — Former talk show host Wendy Williams is thanking well-wishers for their response to the revelation she has been diagnosed with dementia and ahead of the airing of Lifetime documentary about her struggles. “I want to say I have immense gratitude for the love and...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Why thousands of junior doctors in South Korea are striking, and what it means for patients

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Thousands of junior doctors in South Korea have been refusing to see patients and...

Israel and Hamas indicate no deal is imminent after Biden signals Gaza cease-fire could be close

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel and Hamas on Tuesday played down chances of an imminent breakthrough in talks for a...

Photographer accuses Taylor Swift's dad of punching him in the face on Sydney waterfront

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A photographer told police he was punched in the face by Taylor Swift’s father on...

UK's Prince William pulls out of memorial service for his godfather because of 'personal matter'

LONDON (AP) — Kensington Palace says Britain's Prince William has pulled out of attending a memorial service for...

UN experts call on authorities in Belarus to pardon a cancer-stricken imprisoned opposition leader

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Experts from the U.N. Human Rights Commission appealed to Belarusian authorities on...

Why thousands of junior doctors in South Korea are striking, and what it means for patients

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Thousands of junior doctors in South Korea have been refusing to see patients and...

Leigh Ann Caldwell CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- It's been five years since the collapse of Wall Street's largest financial institutions and the ground falling out from under the U.S. economy. The stock market plummeted, unemployment skyrocketed, and the housing market imploded.



On Monday, President Barack Obama will speak from the Rose Garden to tout his successes in turning the economy around.

"Thanks to the grit and resilience of the American people, we've cleared away the rubble from the financial crisis and begun to lay a new foundation for stronger, more durable economic growth," read a 49-page White House report on the economy released Sunday.

The same day, Larry Summers, a leading name to become the next chairman of the Federal Reserve, withdrew his name from consideration, clearing the way for Janet Yellen, who serves as vice chairwoman at the Fed, to become the leading candidate.

And on Friday, the White House announced that top economic adviser, Gene Sperling, will step down as head of the National Economic Council and be replaced by Jeffrey Zients, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget.

But whether the new players will have any impact economic policy, the president's economic agenda -- plagued by an obstinate Republican House and reluctant Senate, threats of shutdowns and sequesters, the end of two wars and the fears of starting a third -- may still be languishing, even as the economy itself appears to slowly be coming back to life.

It's the economy, stupid

That motto was made famous by political strategist James Carville during Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, and it rang true for Obama's first presidential campaign as well.

And the American public agrees. In poll after poll, fixing the economy is a stubborn No. 1 when it comes to the issues the voters most care about.

A CNN/ORC International poll conducted this month indicates that 41% of the public says the economy is the most important issue facing the country right now, with health care at 16% and the crisis in Syria at 15%.

Obama was elected on the premise that he would stop and then reverse the worst economic downfall since the Great Depression.

He came into office with his foot firmly on the gas pedal. Less than a month after his inauguration, he signed into law an $831 billion economic stimulus bill. After a productive first month in office, analysts began to compare Obama to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who transformed the fabric of American society in the face of the Depression.

Then, with the help of a Democratic Congress, the president signed an overhaul of the financial system and the largest expansion of access to health care since President Lyndon B. Johnson created Medicare in 1965.

The jury is still out on whether either of those massive pieces of legislation will harm or help the economy, but most agree that just getting them done were historic accomplishments.

'Poor marks'

But since his first two years in office, some experts say, the president has struggled to keep focused on the economy.

Liberal economist Dean Baker has been highly critical of the president's economic record.

"I give him very poor marks. Five years later, the economy is still very far from recovering," said Baker, co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, pointing to an unemployment rate that he says would hover around 9% instead of 7.3% if so many people hadn't given up and dropped out of the work force.

And it shows in Obama's approval ratings.

Through much of last year, he had a 30% approval rating on the economy. That number is up this year -- to 43% -- but most still disapprove of his handling of the issue.

A screeching halt

In 2010, many conservatives, led by the tea party movement, sought to stop the president's agenda. They voted out the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives and replaced them with conservative Republicans.

Then, those Republicans did what they were sent to Washington to do.

The president has struggled to pass any major economic legislation since 2010. Instead, he's been jumping from one political crisis to the next. Fights over federal budget and spending levels locked Congress in multiple battles in 2011 and 2012 that nearly led to the shutdown of the government.

The narrative didn't always fall in Obama's favor; nor did the policies that ensued. Republicans shifted the conversation from economic stimulus to deficit reduction. The president jumped on the deficit-reduction bandwagon and made that a priority.

Through protracted political battles over the size of the government, forced spending cuts, which sliced up to 10% of most of the federal budget, went into effect. It wasn't the president's favorite idea, however, for how to revive the economy.

He still had hopes of repairing old bridges and building new windmills. So did his supporters, who grew frustrated with the president. "We're getting tired. ... The unemployment is unconscionable. We don't know what the (president's) strategy is," Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, said in 2012.

But in the frame of deficit reduction, Obama was able to obtain a few concessions. He won a series of tax increases, including an increase on the top tax earners: those making more than $400,000 per year.

And the needle moved.

The budget cuts, tax increases and a recovering economy will reduce the deficit by about $4 trillion over 10 years, according to the White House. The nation's debt ratio to size of the gross domestic product is expected to stabilize in the next decade, which economists hail as good for the economy.

The foreign affairs president

While the president came into office with little experience in foreign affairs and hopes to implement an expansive domestic agenda, overseas conflict has kept his plate full.

He expanded the war in Afghanistan and ended the war in Iraq. He kept his attention on the citizen-led revolts that swept the Arab world and expanded the use of drones. Under his administration, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed and the U.S. joined a NATO campaign to overthrow Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, and Obama is now working on an intense campaign to respond to the use of chemical weapons in Syria's civil war.

Although presidents are forced to walk and chew gum at the same time, world events have created challenges for Obama's ability to implement his domestic agenda.

"When you look at issues like military strikes in Syria ... it takes the full time and attention of the leaders," Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute said recently.

As the president decided to hold off on a military strike in Syria while Secretary of State John Kerry works with his counterpart in Russia to devise a plan to rid the regime of its chemical weapons, the president attempted to revitalize discussion of his domestic agenda.

"Even as we have been spending a lot of time on the Syria issue ... it is still important to recognize that we've got a lot more stuff to do here in this government," Obama said during a meeting with his Cabinet on Thursday.

Economist Mark Zandi said that, all things considered, the president has been fairly successful on the domestic front.

"It has been a tough road, but I think he did a pretty good job," said Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics.

But economist Baker offered a more critical perspective, saying the president hasn't shown a willingness to push an economic agenda.

"Let's say Syria didn't happen. What would he be doing right now? I am not sure he has some agenda that is being obstructed by events in the world," he said.

Syria aside, much of the White House's attention this fall will be spent on getting Americans to sign up for the health insurance exchanges, the heart of the Affordable Care Act. Open enrollment begins October 1, and the administration is expected to spend $8.7 million on a media blitz to promote the exchanges.

Second term, second chance

After his re-election, the president hoped to reset his economic agenda. In his 2013 State of the Union address, Obama said he will work to "reignite the true engine of America's economic growth: a rising, thriving middle class."

This summer, he launched a campaign to revive his focus on the economy.

In a series of speeches this year, he acknowledged the troubling economic indicators that are keeping the economy from a full recovery, including income inequality and employment disparities.

Americans' real median household income fell from $63,000 to $55,600 between 2000 and 2011, and as of December, 9.1 million jobs were necessary to restore the job market to pre-recession levels, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

"Reversing these trends has to be Washington's highest priority. It has to be Washington's highest priority. It's certainly my highest priority," Obama said in Galesburg, Illinois, in July.

Job creation, affordable education and home ownership were central to his proposals. Those proposals included expanding development of renewable energy, creating new power grids and expanding access to early childhood education.

But what has the president done since that July speech? Some say, not much.

"Nothing has happened on any front," economist Zandi said.

White House press secretary Jay Carney pushed back against that assessment. He argued that the president is still focused on those economic priorities.

"The president remains committed to pushing forward on an economic agenda that creates a better bargain for the middle class," Carney said Wednesday.

But Zandi said immigration reform, which would be a major catalyst for economic growth, appears to be heading nowhere in the House. And tax and entitlement reform, which would also help to stimulate the economy, have no chance of happening this year.

There's always next year. But 2014 is an election year, which creates an even more difficult environment for passing legislation. After 2014, the president is in his final two years of office, and the political machine begins shaping the next occupant of the Oval Office.

Then, by definition, it can be hard for a lame duck president to get much done.

CNN's Dan Merica, Paul Steinhauser and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

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The Skanner Foundation's 38th Annual MLK Breakfast