06-21-2018  6:48 pm      •     
The Skanner Report
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NEWS BRIEFS

AG Rosenblum Seeks Info from Oregonians

Oregon Attorney General seeks information on children separated from families at border ...

Community Forum: How Does Law Enforcement Interact With Vulnerable Populations?

Forum will focus on public safety and examine mental health and addiction issues ...

King County Council Recognizes Juneteenth

The Metropolitan King County Council recognizes a true 'freedom day' in the United States ...

Unite Oregon Hosts ‘Mourn Pray Love, and Take Action’ June 20

Community is invited to gather at Terry Schrunk Plaza at 6 p.m. on World Refugee Day ...

MRG Foundation Announces Spring 2018 Grantees

Recipients include Oregon DACA Coalition, Kúkátónón Children’s African Dance Troupe, Komemma Cultural Protection Association ...

Washington, other states plan to sue over family separations

SEATAC, Wash. (AP) — Washington, California and at least nine other states are planning to sue the Trump administration over its separation of immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border, saying the president's executive order halting the practice is riddled with caveats and fails to...

Oregon allows rancher to kill a wolf after calves attacked

ENTERPRISE, Ore. (AP) — Oregon wildlife managers have issued a permit that allows a rancher in Eastern Oregon to kill a wolf after three of his calves were injured by the predators last week.The Department of Fish and Wildlife said Thursday they confirmed that the calves were hurt by wolves...

Infant found at Seattle encampment in protective custody

SEATTLE (AP) — A 5-month-old infant found at a Seattle homeless encampment is in protective custody as police investigate child neglect.Seattle Police said Thursday on its blog that the child was removed in late May from an unsanctioned homeless encampment where people were reportedly using...

Washington, other states plan to sue over family separations

SEATAC, Wash. (AP) — Washington, California and at least nine other states are planning to sue the Trump administration over its separation of immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border, saying the president's executive order halting the practice is riddled with caveats and fails to...

OPINION

How Washington’s 'School Achievement Index' Became School Spending Index

New assessment categorizes schools not by quality of education, but level of funding officials believe they should receive ...

Black Mamas Are Dying. We Can Stop It.

Congresswoman Robin Kelly plans to improve access to culturally-competent care with the MOMMA Act ...

Hey, Elected Officials: No More Chicken Dinners...We Need Policy

Jeffrey Boney says many elected officials who visit the Black community only during the election season get a pass for doing nothing ...

Juneteenth: Freedom's Promise Still Denied

Juneteenth is a celebration of the de facto end of slavery, but the proliferation of incarceration keeps liberation unfulfilled ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

3 men face hate crimes charges in Minnesota mosque bombing

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A grand jury added federal civil rights and hate crimes violations to the charges three Illinois men face in the bombing of a mosque in suburban Minneapolis, prosecutors announced Thursday.The new five-count indictment names Michael Hari, 47, Michael McWhorter, 29, and Joe...

Intel CEO out after consensual relationship with employee

NEW YORK (AP) — Intel CEO Brian Krzanich resigned after the company learned of what it called a past, consensual relationship with an employee.Intel said Thursday that the relationship was in violation of the company's non-fraternization policy, which applies to all managers. Spokesman...

Governor orders probe of abuse claims by immigrant children

WASHINGTON (AP) — Virginia's governor ordered state officials Thursday to investigate abuse claims by children at an immigration detention facility who said they were beaten while handcuffed and locked up for long periods in solitary confinement, left nude and shivering in concrete...

ENTERTAINMENT

Koko the gorilla used smarts, empathy to help change views

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Koko the gorilla, whose remarkable sign-language ability and motherly attachment to pet cats helped change the world's views about the intelligence of animals and their capacity for empathy, has died at 46.Koko was taught sign language from an early age as a scientific...

Directors Guild says industry is still mostly white and male

NEW YORK (AP) — A new study by the Directors Guild of America finds that despite high-profile releases like "Get Out" and "Wonder Woman," film directors remained overwhelmingly white and male among the movies released last year.The DGA examined all 651 feature films released theatrically in...

Demi Lovato sings about addiction struggles on 'Sober'

NEW YORK (AP) — Demi Lovato celebrated six years of sobriety in March, but her new song indicates she may no longer be sober.The pop star released "Sober " on YouTube on Thursday, singing lyrics like: "Momma, I'm so sorry I'm not sober anymore/And daddy please forgive me for the drinks...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

The Latest: Porter's wait ends, Nuggets take him at No. 14

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on Thursday night's NBA draft (all times local):9:10 p.m.Michael Porter Jr....

Charles Krauthammer, prominent conservative voice, has died

NEW YORK (AP) — Charles Krauthammer, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and pundit who helped shape and...

AP FACT CHECK: Trump falsely claims progress on NKorea nukes

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is trumpeting results of his summit with North Korean leader Kim...

Suu Kyi says outside hate narratives driving Myanmar tension

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — A social media account run by the office of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi quotes...

Merkel pledges 0 million loan for troubled Jordan

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday promised a 0 million loan to troubled...

Eurozone gets deal to pave way for end to Greece's bailout

LUXEMBOURG (AP) — Eurozone nations agreed on the final elements of a plan to get Greece out of its...

CNN Staff

(CNN) -- Woulda, shoulda, coulda. But now? Can't.

That was the conclusion of scientists in Lausanne, Switzerland, who described on Thursday their exhaustive -- but inconclusive -- efforts to answer a question that has swirled around some corners of the Middle East and beyond since Yasser Arafat died in a Paris military hospital in 2004: Was the Palestinian leader poisoned by a radioactive isotope?

"Was polonium the cause of death?" asked professor Francois Bouchud, director of Lausanne University Hospital's Institute of Radiation Physics. "Our study has not been able to prove categorically a hypothesis of poisoning or another of non-poisoning by polonium."

He was fielding questions from reporters about his group's work a day after Al Jazeera released a report prepared by his laboratory that concluded that levels of polonium-210 in Arafat's personal effects and tissues from his exhumed body "moderately" support a proposition that he died of polonium poisoning.

Bouchud said Thursday that the results "support reasonably the hypothesis of poisoning" by polonium, but he bemoaned the lack of tissue samples from just after death, which the hospital has destroyed.

"If we had access to samples, we could be more categorical. Unfortunately, they disappeared."

Still, "Poisoning from polonium-210 was possible," Bouchud said.

The findings, released by the University Center of Legal Medicine of Lausanne, do not address how Arafat, who died at age 75, might have been poisoned or who might have done it.

Bouchud also cited the passage of nine years since Arafat died as a complicating factor. The half-life of polonium is 138 days, which means less than a millionth of the isotope that was present at death would still be there.

A polonium expert who was not involved in the work praised the Swiss researchers' efforts as scientifically sound, but said they were given a tough job.

"It's like a blindfolded man holding the tail of an elephant and using that to estimate the weight of the elephant," said Paddy Regan, a professor of radionuclide metrology in the physics department at the University of Surrey in Guildford, England. "You can do it, but there is a huge amount of extrapolation involved."

And the mere presence of the isotope -- even in amounts significantly higher than what occurs naturally -- does not necessarily mean that that is what killed Arafat, he told CNN in a telephone interview, citing the scientists' measurement of a urine stain on Arafat's underwear. "If you were being cynical about such a thing, if you wanted to put a false trail out there, you could put a tiny amount of polonium-210 on that urine stain. That doesn't mean that the urine stain came from inside him."

Regan described the amount of polonium needed to kill a man as "terrifyingly small ...the size of a grain of salt, something like that."

Professor Patrice Mangin, director of the forensics center at Lausanne University Hospital, underscored the uncertainty. "We have never said in a categorical way we have the absolute proof that we're dealing with polonium poisoning," he said.

But that caution was not shared by Arafat's widow. "I'm convinced it was a political murder, a political assassination," Suha Arafat told CNN in a telephone interview from Doha, the capital of Qatar.

"They wanted to get rid of him," she said, without saying who "they" are.

"I'm not pointing fingers, but this polonium came from a nuclear reactor, and the next step is to identify its source."

It was her suspicions that led authorities to exhume Arafat's body after polonium-210 was found last year on his personal belongings.

Yet another complication: The chain of custody of Arafat's personal effects -- from the time he died to 2012, when the center began to study them -- is unclear.

But the report said that Suha Arafat had "certified that the measured personal effects have been stored in a secured room."

Invoices for the two analyses, whose cost Mangin would not disclose, were sent to the Palestinian Authority and to Suha Arafat.

The report may renew suspicions over how Arafat -- the most prominent face of Palestinian opposition to Israel for five decades -- died. The Palestinian Authority, which runs the West Bank, has said Israel would have been behind any poisoning of Arafat, who was regarded by many Palestinians as a father figure.

"I believe that all fingers are pointed at the Israeli occupation ... who have experience in such cases of poisoning," said Wasel Abu Yousef, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Yousef called for a "criminal international committee" to be formed to look into the report.

An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said Wednesday that any such accusation would be "utter nonsense."

"This is nothing to do with us, and for the moment they refrained (from) making accusations," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said. "They know why -- there's no strictly no connection to Israel."

Arafat, who first led the Palestine Liberation Organization and then the Palestinian Authority, died in November 2004 after suffering a stroke, ending weeks of illness. Palestinian officials said in the days before his death that Arafat had a blood disorder -- though they ruled out leukemia -- and that he had digestive problems.

Rumors of poisoning circulated at the time, but the Palestinian Authority's then-foreign minister, Nabil Shaath, said he "totally" ruled them out.

French authorities, responding to a request from Arafat's widow, opened a murder inquiry last year after the isotope was found on Arafat's toothbrush, clothing and his keffiyeh, the black-and-white headscarf he often wore. France opened the investigation partly because Arafat died there.

Forensic experts from Switzerland and Russia took their own samples for independent analysis.

Radiation poisoning caused by polonium-210 looks like the end stage of cancer, according to medical experts. The substance can enter the body via a wound or through contaminated food, drink or even air.

CNN's Richard Greene, Matthew Chance, Michael Schwartz, Kareem Khadder, Tom Watkins, Jason Hanna and Ashley Fantz contributed to this report.

 

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