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NORTHWEST NEWS

Portland Renter Mediation in Effort to Avert Evictions

The landlord-tenant mediation program would provide somewhere between 70 and 100 mediations for Portlanders at risk of losing their housing

Housing Advocates Push to Free Public Funds for Housing from ‘Discriminatory,’ ‘Antiquated’ State System

Currently, organizations must apply for funds through one of 18 regional agencies. Even state officials decry the system.

Blumenauer Introduces Legislation to Reinstate Superfund Taxes; End 25-Year Polluter Tax Holiday That Slowed Toxic Cleanup

President Biden identified restoring payments from polluters into the Superfund Trust Fund as a top priority as part of a major infrastructure plan.

Lents Park Scene of Police Shooting During Protests

Amid protests across Portland against police brutality a man was shot and killed in Lents Park after reports he had a gun. Some protesters described by Mayor Ted Wheeler as a small group of "violent agitators" lit dumpster fires at the ICE and Multnomah County Sheriff's buildings and smashed windows downtown including at the Nike store building and the Oregon History Centre

NEWS BRIEFS

Wyden, Merkley Co-Sponsor Clean Commute for Kids Act

Legislation would invest billion in transition of school buses from diesel to zero-emission vehicles ...

Senator Patterson Passes “Domicile Unknown” Bill

Senate Bill 850 requires an unhoused person’s residence be marked “Domicile Unknown” at their time of death, allowing the state...

Oregon Reports Highest Daily COVID-19 Case Total in 3 Months

Multnomah County has the highest number of new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday at 167 ...

Senate Confirmation of Vanita Gupta as Associate Attorney General is Historic, Vital for Our Nation

Gupta is the first woman of color ever to be confirmed to the role ...

Five Lucky Oregonians Won a Second Chance at Holiday Winnings

Prizes ranged from jumi,500 to 0,000 depending on the value of the original Scratch-it top prize. ...

Oregon: CDC investigating woman's death after J&J vaccine

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon health officials said Thursday that federal officials are investigating the death of a woman in her 50s who developed a rare blood clot and low platelets within two weeks of receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against COVID-19. The Oregon...

3rd teen arrested in bias crime assault at Albany park

ALBANY, Ore. (AP) — Police say a third teenager has been arrested in connection with a bias-related assault at an Albany park. Police said a 16-year-old boy was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of assault, conspiracy to commit assault, bias crime and tampering with a...

OPINION

After the Verdicts

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum shares her thoughts after the verdicts ...

George Floyd Should Still Be Here

Wade Henderson, interim president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, released the following statement in response to the jury’s conviction of Derek Chauvin ...

The Verdict, The Nation, and Us

The conviction of Derek Chauvin on all three counts in the death of George Floyd represents a much-needed breeze of change ...

Portland Police Union Response to Chauvin Trial Verdict

The Portland Police Association union says in the coming days, their officers will work hard to preserve our community’s right to peacefully protest ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

'Look after my babies': In Ethiopia, a Tigray family's quest

Gunfire crackled near the home of Abraha Kinfe Gebremariam. He hoped it drowned out the cries of his wife, curled up in pain, and the newborn twin daughters wailing beside her. War had broken out in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region at the worst possible time for Abraha and...

Police chiefs hail Chauvin verdict as a key step to healing

Not long after a jury convicted former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin of killing George Floyd, police chiefs across the U.S. started speaking up. And it wasn't to defend the police. New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said convicting Chauvin on Tuesday...

Senate OKs bill to fight hate crimes against Asian Americans

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a bill that would help combat the rise of hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, a bipartisan denunciation of such violence during the coronavirus pandemic and a modest step toward legislating in a chamber where...

ENTERTAINMENT

LA’s Union Station books another starring role: The Oscars

The Oscars are headed to downtown Los Angeles' Union Station this year for the first time, but the historic site and active transportation hub is already a movie star. John Parkinson and his son Donald Parkinson’s stunning blend of Mission Revival and Art Deco styles has been...

Leslie Jordan parlays Instagram fame with new book and album

NEW YORK (AP) — Last year at this time, as much of the world was on lockdown due to the pandemic, Leslie Jordan began posting daily videos of himself on Instagram. The actor known for roles in the “American Horror Story” franchise and “Will & Grace” was staying...

'The Mole Agent' infiltrates a nursing home, and Hollywood

NEW YORK (AP) — “The Mole Agent” infiltrated a nursing home in Chile, and countless of hearts around the world including inside the film academy. The moving documentary about an octogenarian hired as a rookie spy to investigate whether a client’s mother is suffering...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Japan issues 3rd virus emergency in Tokyo, Osaka area

TOKYO (AP) — Japan declared a third state of emergency for Tokyo and three western prefectures on Friday amid...

Vocabulary, lightning round added to National Spelling Bee

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Scripps National Spelling Bee is undergoing a major overhaul to ensure it can identify a...

Beyond the Pandemic: London's West End readies for next act

LONDON (AP) — Noah Thomas saw his name in lights, and then the lights went out. The young...

UK apologizes for racism in memorials to WWI dead

LONDON (AP) — British authorities apologized Thursday after an investigation found that at least 161,000 mostly...

Sanctions-battered Iran, weary of pandemic, faces worst wave

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — As Iran faces what looks like its worst wave of the coronavirus pandemic yet, Tehran...

Scientists get creative to carry on research during pandemic

SAN LORENZO, Panama (AP) — Biologist Claudio Monteza pushed through thick vegetation to install a camera near a...

Albina Highway Covers
By The Skanner News

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) -- Tunisia's former ruler and his wife were convicted in absentia on embezzlement and other charges on Monday after $27 million (euro18.97 million) in jewels and public funds were found in one of his palaces.

Five months after being forced from power, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Leila Trabelsi were sentenced to 35 years each in prison and fined tens of millions of dollars in the first of what is sure to be a long string of trials.

However, the trial in some ways failed to live up to its billing. With the 74-year-old Ben Ali not present for his judgment, there was a sense of frustration among many. The couple went into exile on Jan. 14 in Saudi Arabia, which failed to respond to an extradition request.

Monday's convictions followed a day-long hearing before the Tunis criminal court.

The ex-president was fined 50 million dinars (about $36 million) and his wife 41 million dinars for embezzlement of public funds and misappropriation.

The trove of jewels, some which the court said had "historic value," and the money were found in a palace in the picturesque town of Sidi Bou Said, outside Tunis, following Ben Ali's departure.

The verdict in a second affair stemming from the discovery of weapons and drugs in the official presidential palace in Carthage, this one targeting only Ben Ali, was postponed. Public defenders assigned to Ben Ali said Monday that they needed time to study the file. The trial was to resume June 30.

Ben Ali vigorously denied the charges in a statement through his French lawyer, calling the proceedings a "shameful masquerade of the justice of the victorious."

"I devoted my life to my country and aspire, at the twilight of my existence, to conserve my honor," Ben Ali said in the statement, referring to his years as interior minister and his 23 years as president.

Ben Ali, and in particular his widely detested wife's Trabelsi clan, are widely accused of treating Tunisia as their personal property to amass money, privilege and power.

An official for the Ministry of State Domains, Mohamed Adel Ben Ismail, has evaluated the fortune amassed by Ben Ali and the Trabelsi clan at a quarter of the value of the Tunisian economy.

The much despised Trabelsi family, alleged to have operated as a mafia, had vast control over the economy of this North African country with stakes in everything from tourist hotels to banks or car dealerships and radio and television.

However, the total value of assets in Tunisia and abroad of Ben Ali and his wife are not known. The Swiss were among the first nations to seize the families' assets and prosecutors said in January they had launched a money laundering investigation into the family's accounts.

Blocked accounts for Ben Ali and some 40 members of his entourage contained tens of millions of Swiss francs, according to the Swiss prosecutors office said.

French judicial authorities are also working to identify any assets, and eventual misdeeds, in France.

According to the act of accusation read at the trial, Ben Ali's monthly stipend skyrocketed during his time in power, which began in 1987 after a bloodless palace coup. Receiving 2,000 dinars per month in 1987, he was taking in nearly 4.7 million dinars by 1998 "with no (fiscal) controls."

The court also accused him of ordering up special privileges "in violation of rules" for the Trabelsi clan and the Ben Ali family.

Ben Ali "vigorously denies" accusations against him, according to a statement issued a day before the trial by his French lawyer, Jean-Yves Le Borgne, who was not allowed by Tunisian law to assist in the proceedings.

More serious charges, including plotting against the security of the state and murder, will be dealt with at future trials. Judicial authorities say that Ben Ali and his entourage are implicated in 93 civil affaires and 182 others that fall under military jurisdiction.

He is expected to have to answer for the deaths of 300 people during the uprisings. Numerous cases are likely to be joined together.

Monday's trial was a veritable media show and included, for the first time, TV cameras in the packed courtroom.

One public defender of the ex-president justified his defense of Ben Ali before the court. Abdessatter Massoudi said he accepted the job of defending Ben Ali - refused by at least one other public defender - "to honor the profession and ensure the basis for a balanced trial."

Backed by his powerful party that controlled all sectors, Ben Ali governed with an iron fist, suppressing dissent and quashing all freedom of expression. Ben Ali's regime unraveled with a monthlong uprising around the country triggered by the fatal self-immolation of an unemployed man in the rural heartland. That sparked protests that moved through the countryside to Tunis, the capital, and failed to die down despite concessions from the president. In a surprise move a day after a third televised speech aimed at appeasing the restive population he left for exile.

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