02-22-2020  11:50 am   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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

Susan G. Komen Oregon and SW Washington celebrate breast cancer survivors in the African American community with a free gala this...

Dr. Karin Edwards Named New President of Clark College

Board of Trustees names Dr. Karin Edwards as the college’s 15th leader in its 87-year history ...

OneUnited Bank Launches New Limited-Edition Harriet Tubman Card

OneUnited Bank, the largest Black-owned bank in America, introduces the new limited-edition Harriet Tubman Card in celebration of...

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,...

Man charged in truck stop stabbing sent to state hospital

ONTARIO, Ore. (AP) — A Colorado man charged in what Oregon prosecutors say was a hate crime stabbing has been found unfit for trial and will be sent to the Oregon State Hospital before his legal case can move forward.The Argus-Observer in Ontario reports Malheur County Circuit Court Judge...

Oregon highway between Bend and Salem reopens

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The main Oregon highway connecting Salem and Bend reopened Saturday after a tanker crash and gas spill forced a week-long closure.The double tanker trunk spilled an estimated 7,800 gallons of petroleum products into the soil at the crash site east of Idanha, the Statesman...

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: Warren reports big haul of cash on debate week

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Latest on the 2020 presidential campaign (all times local):10 a.m.Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren says her presidential campaign has raised million in the past 10 days.In a tweet, the Democratic hopeful says the haul is double what the campaign had hoped to raise...

Lizzo, Nyong'o, Eddie Murphy vying for NAACP Image Awards

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Hollywood's awards season isn't over quite yet, with the NAACP Image Awards putting the spotlight Saturday on the achievements of actors and musicians of color.The evening's honorees include Oscar contenders, namely Cynthia Erivo, who starred in the Harriet Tubman...

Ryanair CEO criticized for singling out Muslim men as threat

LONDON (AP) — Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary is facing criticism for suggesting Muslim men should be singled out for extra scrutiny at airports. The boss of the Irish budget carrier told Saturday’s Times of London that families with young children should not be...

ENTERTAINMENT

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...

Former Ukraine diplomat Marie Yovanovitch has book deal

NEW YORK (AP) — Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, the career diplomat who during the impeachment hearings of President Donald Trump offered a chilling account of alleged threats from Trump and his allies, has a book deal. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt confirmed Friday to The...

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

Netflix series explores the assassination of Malcolm X

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A new Netflix series is tackling questions around the 1965 assassination of civil...

AP FACT CHECK: Donald Trump and the audacity of hype

WASHINGTON (AP) — In their boisterous presidential debate, several Democrats sold short the health care...

Germany admits there's a far-right problem, but what to do?

BERLIN (AP) — As Germany's president expressed his sympathy and shock during a candlelight vigil for nine...

Italy towns close down amid virus case clusters, 2 deaths

CODOGNO, Italy (AP) — A dozen towns in northern Italy effectively went into lockdown Saturday after the...

US leads training exercises in Africa amid focus on Sahel

THIES, Senegal (AP) — Crouching in the sparse brush, maneuvering into formations through a divide, and then...

At Trump's India rally, Modi bets on bolstering his image

AHMEDABAD, India (AP) — A festive mood has enveloped Ahmedabad in India’s northwestern state of...

McMenamins
By The Skanner News

BIN JAWWAD, Libya (AP) -- Rebel forces on Monday fought their way to the doorstep of Moammar Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, a key government stronghold guarding the road to the capital Tripoli, their rapid advance built on powerful international airstrikes that have battered Gadhafi's air force, armor and troops.
The Skanner News Video: Libyan Rebels Advance on Sirte
The rebels' offensive has restored to the opposition all the territory they lost over the past week and brought them closer than ever to Sirte, with their fighters advancing to within 60 miles (100 kilometers) of the bastion of Gadhafi's power in the center of the country.

But the advance on Sirte and the flip-flop in the conflict's momentum brought into sharper relief the central ambiguity of the international mission in Libya. When Gadhafi's forces were besieging rebel-held cities in the east last week, allied airstrikes on his troops more directly fit into the U.N. mandate of protecting civilians. But those same strikes have now allowed rebels to go on the assault.

Russia on Monday criticized the international campaign, saying it had overstepped its U.N. mandate to protect civilians and had taken sides in a civil war.

NATO's commander for the operation, Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard of Canada, said his mission was clear, saying every decision was designed to prevent attacks on civilians. "Our goal is to protect and help the civilians and population centers under the threat of attack," he said.

But in Brussels, NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu noted that the allied operation was launched in response to "the systematic attacks by Col. Gadhafi against his own people."

"That is how this all started, we have to remember that," she said.

Some residents were fleeing Sirte, as soldiers from a brigade commanded by Gadhafi's son al-Saadi and allied militiamen streamed to positions on the city's outskirts to defend it, witnesses said. Sirte - where a significant air and military base is located - was hit by airstrikes Sunday night and Monday morning, witnesses said, but they did not know what was targeted.

The city of 100,000 is crucial both for its strategic position and its symbolic value. Over the years, Gadhafi has made it effectively Libya's second capital, building up what had been a quiet agricultural community with lavish conference halls where Arab and African summits were held. The city is dominated by members of the Libyan leader's Gadhadhfa tribe, but many in another large Sirte tribe - the Firjan - are believed to resent his rule, and rebels are hoping to encourage them and other tribes there to rise up to help in their capture of the city.

Its fall to the rebels would largely open their way to move on the capital, Tripoli, 250 miles (400 kilometers) to the northwest along the Mediterranean coast.

About halfway between the two lies Libya's third largest city, Misrata, which has been in rebel hands since early on in the nearly month-and-a-half-old uprising but has been under heavy siege by Gadhafi forces for weeks. Misrata came under renewed heavy shelling on Monday, witnesses said. There is little but empty desert highway and a few small hamlets between Sirte and Misrata.

Gamal Mughrabi, a 46-year-old rebel fighter, said there are both anti- and pro-Gadhafi forces inside Sirte and predicted a tough fight. "Gadhafi is not going to give up Sirte easily because straightaway after Sirte is Misrata, and after that it's straight to Gadhafi's house," he said. "So Sirte is the last line of defense."

In a symbolic diplomatic victory for the opposition, the tiny state of Qatar recognized Libya's rebels as the legitimate representatives of the country - the first Arab state to do so.

Libya's rebels have recovered hundreds of miles (kilometers) of flat, uninhabited territory at record speeds after Gadhafi's forces were forced to pull back by the strikes that began March 19. When the first strikes were launched, regime troops were deep in the rebel-held territory, storming toward the opposition capital of Benghazi, 370 miles (more than 600 kilometers) east of Sirte.

A rebel commander among the fighters advancing on Sirte acknowledged that their offensive would not have been possible without the strikes, which he said had evened the two sides' firepower.

"Now because of NATO strikes on (the government's) heavy weapons, we're almost fighting with the same weapons, only we have Grad rockets now and they don't," said Gen. Hamdi Hassi at the small town of Bin Jawwad, just 18 miles (30 kilometers) from the front.

The U.S. launched six Tomahawk missiles Sunday and early Monday from navy positions in the Mediterranean Sea, two defense officials said Monday on condition of anonymity because they were not yet authorized to release the information.

That brought to 199 the number of the long-range cruise missiles fired by international forces in the campaign, one official said.

International air forces flew 110 missions late Sunday and early Monday - 75 of them strike missions. Targets included Gadhafi ammunition stores, air defenses and ground forces, including vehicles and tanks, a third official said.

Hassi said there was fighting now just outside the small hamlet of Nawfaliyah, 60 miles (100 kilometers) from Sirte and scouting parties had found the road ahead to be heavily mined.

He added that the current rebel strategy was to combine military assault with an attempt to win over some of the local tribes loyal to Gadhafi over to their side.

"There's Gadhafi and then there's circles around him of supporters, each circle is slowly peeling off and disappearing," Hassi said. "If they rise up it would make our job easier."

Hundreds of residents, mainly women and children, fled Sirte - some fleeing to the town of Bani Walid about 150 miles west (250 kilometers), said Hassan al-Drouie, a Libyan in exile in France in contact with family members in Sirte who were among those who fled. Some members of Gadhafi's tribe in Sirte fled to another of his strongholds, the city of Sebha, deep in Libya's southwestern deserts, said another Libyan in exile, Abdel-Rahman Barkuli, who cited his relatives in Sebha.

Some men had remained in Sirte and had taken up weapons to protect their homes - but not to fight alongside Gadhafi's troops against the rebels, said al-Drouie. He said the al-Saadi Brigades headed by Gadhafi's son have taken up positions on the city's southern and eastern entrances.

International airstrikes also hit Sebha, 400 miles (650 kilometers) south of Tripoli. The area remains strongly loyal to Gadhafi and is a major transit point for ethnic Tuareg fighters from Mali and Niger fighting for the government. The state news agency JANA said the strikes destroyed a number of houses. Britain's Defense Ministry announced Monday that its Tornado aircraft had attacked ammunition bunkers around Sebha.

A rebel push into the west would deeply complicate the conflict. The east of the country shook off nearly 42 years of Gadhafi's rule in a series of popular demonstrations starting in mid-February and inspired by similar successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

Several cities in the west also rose up - including Zawiya, Zwara, Sabratha and others - but each was subsequently crushed by Gadhafi's forces, often bloodily. In Zawiya, for example, a still unknown number of people were killed in a brutal siege by Gadhafi's forces that lasted more than a week and reportedly included heavy shelling of civilian areas. Regime militiamen also squashed attempts at protests in Tripoli.

Anti-Gadhafi sentiment is believed to still be widespread in many of those areas, but they are mixed together with regime supporters in some places.

Gadhafi is not on the defensive everywhere. His forces continued to besiege Misrata, the main rebel holdout in the west. Residents reported fighting between rebels and loyalists who fired from tanks on residential areas.

Rida al-Montasser, of the media committee of Misrata, said that nine young men were killed and 23 others wounded when Gadhafi brigades shelled their position in the northwestern part of the city on Sunday night. He also said that the port was bombed.

Turkey's Anatolia new agency said a Turkish civilian ferry carrying 15 medics, three ambulances and medical equipment was heading for Misrata to help treat some 1,300 people injured in attacks there.

Libya accused NATO of becoming directly involved in the fighting.

"This is the objective of the coalition now, it is not to protect civilians because now they are directly fighting against the armed forces," Khaled Kaim, the deputy foreign minister, said in the capital, Tripoli. "They are trying to push the country to the brink of a civil war."

His position found some support in Russia, where Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said strikes on Gadhafi's forces would amount to interference in what he called Libya's civil war, and thus would breach the U.N. Security Council resolution that envisaged a no-fly zone only to protect civilians. The council mandate, however, goes beyond a no-fly zone to allow "all necessary measures" to protect civilians.

After retaking two key oil complexes east of Sirte in the past two days, rebels promised to quickly restart Libya's stalled oil exports, prompting a slight drop in the soaring price of crude oil to around $105 a barrel.

The tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar, however, has formally recognized the rebels as the legitimate representatives of the country and promised to help them sell their crude oil on the international market.

Qatar has been well ahead of other Arab countries in embracing the rebels and is also participating in the U.N.-mandated no-fly zone over Libya.

 

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