08-11-2020  6:46 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Black Portlanders Struggle to be Heard Amid Protests

The Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing Steering Committee will meet Tuesday, August 11, 2020 from 5:30 –7pm

Portland Protests Persist with Some Flashes of Violence

Tear gas was used by police on protesters Wednesday for the first time since the U.S. agents pulled back their presence

Reimagine Oregon Issues Equity Demands, Gains Legislative Support

Coalition of Black-led and Black-focused organizations takes new approach to concrete change 

Oregon Criminal Justice Commission: Initiative Petition 44 Will Nearly Eliminate Racial Disparities for Drug Arrests, Convictions

The initiative would expand access to drug addiction treatment and recovery services, and decriminalize low-level drug possession.

NEWS BRIEFS

Oregon Housing and Community Services Awards $60,822,101 to Build and Preserve 802 Affordable Homes

Investments address the statewide shortage of affordable housing through the development and preservation of affordable rental homes. ...

Phase Two Re:Imagine Grant Deadline August 11

The fund focuses on supporting ten artists with grants of $5,000 as they reimagine their practices and pivot toward the...

U.S. Bank Announces $1 Million in Grants to Black-Led CDFIs; Additional Support for African American Alliance

A total of 15 CDFIs will receive grants ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 while the African American Alliance will receive...

Vote.org Holds #GoodTroublePledge Voter Registration Drive to Commemorate the 55th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act

2020 VRA anniversary observance to honor the memory of voting rights activist and late-Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) ...

White Democrats in Congress Falling Short on Reparations Bill

Democracy in Color releases “The White List” showing 79% of democratic House members haven’t cosigned HR 40 despite popular...

Activist's arrest in Portland galvanizes Black Lives Matter

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The arrest during a Portland, Oregon protest of a Black woman who became a leading activist in the racial justice movement after she was assaulted by a white supremacist three years ago has galvanized local and national Black Lives Matter groups.Demonstrators took to...

Lawmakers adjourn special session, restrict choke holds

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A measure further restricting the use of choke holds by police passed the Oregon Legislature by wide margins Monday night as lawmakers concluded a special session called to fix a billion-dollar budget deficit due to COVID-19.House Bill 4301 prohibits the use of choke holds...

LSU adds Missouri, Vanderbilt in revamped SEC schedule

Defending Southeastern Conference and national champion LSU will host Missouri and visit Vanderbilt in its expanded Southeastern Conference schedule, while Alabama will visit Mizzou and host Kentucky in league play revised by the coronavirus pandemic. The league on Friday released two additional...

Missouri's Drinkwitz takes side in mask-or-no-mask debate

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Eli Drinkwitz has been the head coach at Missouri for just over seven months. He has yet to lead the Tigers onto the football field, much less win a game, yet his role in the community already has forced him to take some important stands.First, it was supporting his new...

OPINION

Historians Offer Context, Caution on Lessons 1918 Flu Pandemic Holds for COVID

Scholars find parallels of inequitable suffering between pandemic of 1918 and pandemic of 2020 ...

US Reps Adams and DeFazio Call on Postmaster General to Resign

The legislators say Trump appointee Louis DeJoy is sabotaging the US Postal Service and could harm the election ...

Da 5 Bloods and America Abroad

Even before I returned to the United States from my combat tour in Vietnam, I had decided that we were fighting an unjust war. ...

Falling Behind: COVID, Climate Change, and Chaos

Multiple Crises, Multiple Obstacles ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Activist's arrest in Portland galvanizes Black Lives Matter

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The arrest during a Portland, Oregon protest of a Black woman who became a leading activist in the racial justice movement after she was assaulted by a white supremacist three years ago has galvanized local and national Black Lives Matter groups.Demonstrators took to...

Authorities: Arson, burglary at Black church in Maryland

SHADY SIDE, Md. (AP) — A person started a fire inside the vestibule of a predominately Black church in Maryland and also burglarized the house of worship, authorities said. Firefighters responding to a call about the fire at Judah Temple Ministries extinguished the blaze just after 5 a.m....

Seattle police chief to resign following department cuts

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle's police chief says she is stepping down, a move made public the same day the City Council approved reducing the department by as many as 100 officers through layoffs and attrition.Carmen Best, the city’s first Black police chief, said in a letter to the...

ENTERTAINMENT

'Don't shut up!' Film spotlights Filipino journalist

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Maria Ressa says she didn’t take Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte seriously when he declared four years ago that “corrupt” journalists weren’t “exempted from assassination.”“In 2016, it was really, really laughable. And...

Jolie seeks removal of private judge in Pitt divorce case

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Angelina Jolie asked Monday that the private judge overseeing her divorce from Brad Pitt be disqualified from the case because of insufficient disclosures of his business relationships with one of Pitt's attorneys. In a filing in Los Angeles Superior Court, Jolie argues...

Chris Pratt, Katherine Schwarzenegger greet baby daughter

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Chris Pratt and Katherine Schwarzenegger say they are “beyond thrilled” and “extremely blessed" after she gave birth to their first child together. The 41-year-old ”Avengers” actor and the 30-year-old children’s book author...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Ganges River flows with history and prophecy for India

ALONG THE GANGES, India (AP) — More than 2,000 years ago, a powerful king built a fort on the banks of...

Opposition candidate leaves Belarus, urges end to protests

MINSK, Belarus (AP) — The top opposition candidate in Belarus' presidential vote, who initially refused to...

New York’s true nursing home death toll cloaked in secrecy

NEW YORK (AP) — Riverdale Nursing Home in the Bronx appears, on paper, to have escaped the worst of the...

The Latest: US skeptical of Russia's virus vaccine safety

TAIPAI, Taiwan — U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says it’s more important to have...

Lebanese government resigns after Beirut blast, public anger

BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon’s prime minister stepped down from his job Monday in the wake of the...

Pompeo opens anti-China, anti-Russia tour in Czech Republic

PRAGUE (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the Czech Republic at the start of a four-nation...

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Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman the Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In an instant, the disappearance of retired FBI agent Robert Levinson in Iran went from a cold case to something very hot.

After nearly four years without word about what happened to Levinson, his family received proof late last year that the father of seven was alive. It was a dramatic development that sharply intensified diplomatic efforts to bring him home. The Skanner News Video: Hillary Clinton

Until then, there had never been any evidence of whether Levinson was alive or dead since he disappeared in March 2007 from the Iranian island of Kish. It remains unclear who is holding Levinson or where he is, but the proof that he is alive was a hopeful sign that whoever has him was willing to negotiate for his release.

"It has been almost four years since I have seen my beloved husband Robert Levinson," his wife, Christine, said in a statement on the family's website. "Our family is tremendously encouraged by the news Bob is alive but remains concerned for his safety and well-being."

The AP has known about the proof that Levinson is alive since shortly after it arrived but delayed reporting it because officials said any publicity would jeopardize getting Levinson home safely. The AP is not disclosing the nature of the proof because officials believe that would hurt efforts to free him.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton renewed her appeal to Iran for help on Friday.

"His family misses him dearly," Clinton said. "He does have medical issues and we continue to welcome any help that the Iranian government can provide in determining Mr. Levinson's welfare and whereabouts so that he can be reunited with his family as soon as possible."

Authorities don't know why the evidence that Levinson was alive surfaced after years of silence. But it has touched off the most hopeful round of diplomacy since he disappeared.

Iran has repeatedly said it has no information about Levinson, but U.S. diplomats and investigators have long said they believed he was taken by Iranian government agents. The U.S. announcement Thursday was an abrupt change in tone from what had been stalemated discussions. The U.S. has previously expressed deep frustration over what it said was Iran's lack of cooperation.

As years passed, many in the U.S. government believed the 62-year-old with diabetes and high blood pressure might have died. With proof that he is alive, the case becomes one of the longer international hostage situations involving U.S. citizens. Levinson is unusual, however, since nobody has publicly acknowledged holding him.

"It's encouraging that we may have good news," Florida Sen. Bill Nelson said. "I'm praying that he can be reunited with his family."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been circumspect about what his country knows about Levinson. In the course of a single interview, he said he had no information, offered to help and accused the FBI of withholding information about why Levinson was in Iran.

Levinson retired from the FBI in 1998 and became a private investigator. He was investigating cigarette smuggling in early 2007, and his family has said that effort took him to Iran. Kish is a popular resort area and a hotbed of smuggling and organized crime. It is also a free trade zone, meaning U.S. citizens do not need visas to travel there.

Iran shares borders with the southwest Asian countries of Pakistan and Afghanistan, raising the possibility that Levinson was shuttled into one of those countries. Both border crossings are known smuggling routes. The route into Pakistan leads into a lawless tribal region that's home to insurgents, terrorist groups and criminal organizations.

Levinson disappeared after a meeting with Dawud Salahuddin, an American fugitive wanted for the assassination of a former Iranian diplomat in Maryland in 1980. Salahuddin has said he last saw Levinson being questioned by Iranian officials. Levinson's distinctive signature was used to check out of his hotel, but he never made it to the airport.

Over the years, stories have trickled in from witnesses claiming to have evidence about Levinson's whereabouts. But like so much about Iran, the U.S. was never able to verify those accounts.

An Iranian defector now living in the United States, Reza Kahlili, told the AP that Levinson was picked up by the Quds Force, a unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. Kahlili said he was told by sources inside Iran that Levinson was investigating money laundering and discovered a link between the Russian mob and the Revolutionary Guard.

Kahlili said Levinson was taken to a safe house in Tehran but he does not know what happened to him. A former FBI official said the U.S. was aware of that account, and though he described Kahlili as credible, the U.S. could never confirm his story.

In 2009, an Iranian defector told U.S. authorities that while imprisoned by Iran's Revolutionary Guard, he saw the name "B. Levinson" scrawled on the door frame of his cell. That account was included in a diplomatic memo obtained by the WikiLeaks website and published last month. Former officials have raised doubts about the defector, however, and when the AP located him in Europe in early January, he said he never saw Levinson's name.

The State Department has repeatedly called on Iran to provide more information about Levinson. U.S. diplomats have also asked foreign leaders to intervene. Even the Vatican was enlisted, but in 2008 the Iranian government chastised the pope's ambassador to Tehran, saying the Vatican had no business asking about the case, according to State Department documents.

In 2009, Clinton ordered a fresh diplomatic push. At a United Nations conference at The Hague that year, she personally passed a note to Iranian officials, urging them to help find Levinson.

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Associated Press writer Lisa Orkin contributed to this story from Coral Springs, Fla.

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