09-27-2022  4:38 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Black United Fund Launches Emerging Entrepreneur Program

Pilot program will support promising small business owner ready to take the next step.

After a Rocky Start Oregon Drug Decriminalization Eyes Progress

When voters passed the state's pioneering Drug Addiction Treatment andRecovery Act in 2020, the emphasis was on treatment as much as on decriminalizing possession of personal-use amounts of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other drugs. But progress has been slow and Oregon still has among the highest addiction rates in the country yet over half of addiction treatment programs in the state don't have enough staffing and funding to help those who want help

Morgan State University Students Win Zillow’s HBCU Hackathon With App That Measures Financial Credibility Outside of Credit Scoring

Second-annual competition challenged participants to develop new technologies to help consumers during their journey to find a home.

Portland, Oregon, to Use Microphones to Track Gunshots

The decision to advance a pilot program with ShotSpotter was made after Wheeler met with Police Chief Chuck Lovell.

NEWS BRIEFS

Expiring Protections: 10-Day Notices of Nonpayment of Rent And "Safe Harbor" Protections

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11 Area Post Offices to Host Hiring Events

Over 100 Northwest USPS Hosting Job Fairs ...

Rep. Janelle Bynum Champions Oregon Business and Sets Sights on Strengthening Key Industries

Rep. Bynum invited leaders and experts to discuss ways the state can champion businesses of all sizes, expand broadband, bolster the...

PPS Renames Headquarters

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Affordable Housing Plan to Go Before Seattle Voters

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Prototype electric airplane takes first flight

MOSES LAKE, Wash. (AP) — A prototype, all-electric airplane took its first flight Tuesday morning in central Washington state. The Seattle Times reports that if the Federal Aviation Administration eventually certifies the small airplane to carry passengers, it could become the first...

State trooper who was shot expected to recover, father says

WALLA WALLA, Wash. (AP) — A Washington state trooper who was shot and wounded in Walla Walla Thursday is expected to make a full recovery, according to the man's father. Trooper Dean Atkinson Jr.’s father, Dean Atkinson Sr., said Monday that there’s nothing that would prevent...

Auburn loses 2nd center, Tate Johnson, to injury

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn has lost its second center of the season with Tate Johnson slated for surgery on his left elbow. Tigers coach Bryan Harsin said Monday that Johnson is scheduled for surgery on the elbow Thursday and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks but could be out for the...

LSU survives Daniels' injury scare in romp over New Mexico

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The LSU defense held New Mexico to 88 total yards and the Tigers survived an injury scare to starting quarterback Jayden Daniels in a 38-0 victory Saturday night at Tiger Stadium. “Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is a habit,” LSU...

OPINION

No Room for Black Folk

A recent interview with Dr. Ebony Elizabeth Thomas and an associate professor, reveals the inability of certain white Americans to share the benefits of our society ...

The Cruelty of Exploiting Vulnerable People for Political Advantage

There is always a new low for Trump Republicans. And that is pretty frightening. ...

The Military to American Youth: You Belong to Me

The U.S. military needs more than just money in its annual budget. It needs access to America’s young people as well — their wallets, their bodies, and their minds. ...

Financial Fairness at Risk With Proposed TD Bank-First Horizon Merger

As banks grow larger through mergers and focus on growing online and mobile services, serious concerns emerge on how fair and how accessible banking will be to traditionally underserved Black and Latino communities. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Expert questions whether school shooter's mom drank heavily

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Prosecutors in the penalty trial of Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz began their rebuttal of the defense case Tuesday by questioning whether his birth mother drank as heavily during pregnancy as some witnesses portrayed. They also showed his sometimes...

NAACP says Jackson's water problems are civil rights issue

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — In a federal complaint Tuesday, the NAACP said Mississippi officials “all but assured” a drinking water calamity in Jackson by depriving the state’s majority-Black capital city of badly needed funds to upgrade its infrastructure. The organization asked the...

Federal court finds 3rd Iowa ag-gag law unconstitutional

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A federal judge has struck down the third attempt by the Iowa Legislature to stop animal welfare groups from secretly filming livestock abuse, finding once again that the law passed last year violates free speech rights in the U.S. Constitution. The decision...

ENTERTAINMENT

A doc from the Disney family takes aim at the Mouse House

NEW YORK (AP) — Abigail E. Disney has been critical of the company that bears her name before. But for the first time, Disney, the granddaughter of co-founder Roy O. Disney, has put her views into the medium the Mouse House was built on: a movie. In the new documentary “The...

Procedural dramas jump to front in TV's opening week

NEW YORK (AP) — Besides live sports, the one thing broadcast networks can be counted on for these days is franchise procedural dramas. That was evident on opening week of a new television season, when the 10 most-watched scripted programs all fit this tried-and-true formula,...

TV hit ‘Peaky Blinders’ expands story through dance show

LONDON (AP) — Steven Knight looks astounded, almost lost for words. He’s just watched contemporary dance company Rambert run through scenes from the first act of their “Peaky Blinders” production, based on the hit TV show that he wrote and created. Watching the immediate...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

FAFSA season starts: What you need to know for financial aid

NEW YORK (AP) — The Free Application for Federal Student Aid filing season starts Oct. 1 for the 2023-2024...

Over 194,000 Russians flee call-up to neighboring countries

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Recreating Marilyn Monroe’s iconic outfits in ‘Blonde’

Marilyn Monroe’s on-screen costumes are almost as iconic as her. Think of the hot pink strapless gown she wore...

Live Updates: Russia-Ukraine War

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Abe's militaristic funeral captures Japan's tense mood

TOKYO (AP) — The leadup to former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's controversial state funeral could seem...

Japanese former leader Abe honored at divisive state funeral

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's assassinated hawkish former leader, Shinzo Abe, was given a rare state funeral Tuesday full...

code-breaking machine Bletchley Park
By Charlotte Lytton CNN

"This is Norway checker," echoed the voice through the scrambler. "I have a good stop for you in Stavanger."

Nobody on the outside world could have known what she meant.

But inside Bletchley Park, a World War II code-breaking enclave in the English countryside of Buckinghamshire, 18-year-old Ruth Bourne had discovered a vital piece of intelligence.

Working alongside thousands of other women to decipher encoded German signals sent between Nazi generals, Bourne's discovery meant passing on the information to her superiors to assess whether this was another piece of the decryption puzzle.

With every room named after a country that had been toppled by the Nazis, and each machine christened as one of its towns, Bletchley Park's simple yet effective checking system proved crucial in the defeat of Hitler's regime.

A culture of secrecy

Far from being a group of experienced decoders, however, the estate's recruits mainly consisted of young teenage military personnel, a smattering of crossword whizzes who had been able to complete The Daily Telegraph's puzzle in less than 12 minutes, and numerous 18-year-old girls plucked from their quiet home towns.

"It was the middle of the war when I received a call saying I was to go into war work to support Britain's efforts from home," explains 88-year-old Margaret Bullen, a machine wire operator who served from 1942 until the end of the war.

"A letter from the Foreign Office then arrived saying I had an interview -- but I had no idea what it was for, and two weeks later, I was told I'd be off to Bletchley."

"Before starting work we were told to sign the Official Secrets Act, which was a rather frightening experience for someone as young and naive as I was," says 90-year-old Becky Webb, who joined the war effort at age 18 in 1941. "I had no idea how I'd comply with it!"

But compliance was the only option, making these three young women -- Webb, Bullen and Bourne -- fierce guards of the country's anonymous decoding history for several decades.

Indeed, it wasn't until some thirty years later that Bletchley's long maintained shroud of secrecy began to lift, after the publication of "The Ultra Secret" -- a tell all book from former RAF officer Frederick W. Winterbotham, who later became an Ultra supervisor.

The 1974 expose revealed how Ultra intelligence had been used to intercept communication behind enemy lines and disseminate vital information to Britain and its allies. Though Winterbotham was accused of embellishing and aggrandizing his role in the tale, without his account, the real story of what went on inside the UK's code-breaking operation may never have been known.

"It sounds strange that we knew so little about what was going on, but that was how it was," reflects Bullen.

"I was sent to live with a couple who were ordered to take me in because of the war. They never once asked me what I was doing there--nobody did--not even the local village workers who'd serve us coffee at the café on our lunch break, in spite of the fact a group of 18-year-olds had suddenly arrived in this little hamlet," she explains.

"I only heard the name Colossus--the machine I was working on--some three decades after the war ended, and it wasn't until I later visited Bletchley Park that I said: 'this is where I worked, this is what I did!'"

While Winterbotham's revelations sent shock waves through the secretive decryption community, lifting the lid on what really happened inside the park ensued slowly and sporadically, with the bulk of the information being released in the early 2000s.

"I'm delighted that we can discuss our time there now that everything has come out, and I give talks on the subject whenever I'm asked," enthuses Webb. "I've given 97 to date!"

Silent heroines

For many of the young women at Bletchley, though, the removal of the clandestine veil came too late, with the majority of workers' parents having passed away before the decryption effort became public knowledge.

Bourne, an 18-year-old naval recruit who was sent to one of the park's expansion locations in Eastcote -- on the outskirts of London -- was one of many who was never able to tell her loved ones about her contribution to the war.

"You led two lives there," she recalls. "One life was in A Block, where you ate in the canteen, and talked about boyfriends, and getting trains to London, and where to find black nylon stockings."

"B Block was where we worked, surrounded by high walls, barbed wire and two naval marines guarding the place. If you could make your voice heard over the noise of 12 Turing Bombe machines, that was the only time you would speak about work -- but you never would," she explains. "I never knew what any of my coworkers were doing, and vice versa, and my parents never knew a thing of it."

After the Nazi regime fell in 1945, many of Bletchley's women returned home, while others stayed involved with the military's work. Bourne was given work as a wire destroyer: desoldering the many cables that had been painstakingly connected during intelligence operations throughout the war, while Webb was sent to the Pentagon to paraphrase translated Japanese messages for transmission to officials.

"Upon leaving Bletchley, we really had no skills whatsoever," remembers Bourne. "Apart from how to keep a secret!"

And that secret was very nearly never told, especially after the original estate was due to be knocked down some 23 years ago, with houses and a supermarket planned to be built in its place.

Preserving Bletchley

It was in May of 1991that Bletchley's fortunes changed, after a small local committee gathered a group of veterans at the park to say a final farewell to the historic location.

But the group became determined to turn it into a heritage site after hearing the astounding stories of so many code-breakers, engineers and members of the Women's Royal Naval Service (WREN) who worked at the park during the war.

The Bletchley Park Trust was formed the following year, and from then on, regular reunions and exhibitions at the estate have enabled its former workers and inhabitants to share stories that were on the precipice of being lost forever.

Winterbotham's book might have been the first time that story of the World War II code-breakers entered the realm of popular culture, but it certainly wasn't the last, with TV drama "The Bletchley Circle" proving popular in both the UK and United States earlier this year.

With a second series on its way, and exhibitions at the Trust attracting visitors from around the globe, the world's fascination with the once elusive Bletchley Park shows no sign of slowing.

The culture of secrecy that once threatened Bletchley from being all but erased from the history books has well and truly ended.

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