01-23-2021  10:40 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
MLK Breakfast 2021 Watch Now
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NORTHWEST NEWS

FEMA Site Will House Survivors of Wildfires

Mill City site will offer temporary housing for up to 16 families who lost their homes in last year's wildfires

Portland Police Shooting of Man Under International Scrutiny

Aaron Campbell, a 25-year-old unarmed Black man was shot in the back and killed Jan. 29, 2010 by Portland Police Officer Ronal Frashour

John Hairston Becomes First Black CEO of Bonneville Power Administration

29-year employee appointed to new role by U.S. Secretary of Energy  

Natural Gas Terminal Plans In Oregon Hit Snag Over Permit

The ruling was hailed as a major victory by opponents of Jordan Cove, which would be the first such LNG overseas export terminal in the lower 48 states.

NEWS BRIEFS

The Mayor Turns 90: A Paul Knauls Celebration to be Held Friday, January 22

Albina legend Paul Knauls, Sr. will be celebrated with a virtual event featuring public officials, musicians, and community...

People For the American Way Supports Congressional Gold Medal for Officer Eugene Goodman

Goodman, a Black U.S. Capitol Hill police officer, diverted a white mob away from the unprotected Senate chambers during the violent...

St. Andrew Parish Announces 2021 Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Awards

The Community Service Award went to cameron whitten of the Black Resilience Fund ...

Applicants Sought for Free Girls’ Summer Wilderness Science Education Expeditions

The programs provide 16- and 17-year-old young women opportunities to travel with professional scientists, artists and wilderness...

Portland Center Stage Welcomes New Literary Manager Kamilah Bush Following Nationwide Search

As literary manager, Bush is charged with deepening the literary and artistic core of Portland Center Stage ...

Crews recover body of Oregon woman swept away in mudslide

Sheriff's deputies and firefighters on Saturday recovered the body of an Oregon woman whose vehicle was swept away in a deep mudslide during a winter storm last week, authorities said.Jennifer Camus Moore, a registered nurse from Warrendale, Oregon, was driving in the Columbia River Gorge near the...

Washington, Oregon report cases of new strain of coronavirus

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington and Oregon are now confirming additional cases of the more contagious variant of COVID-19 in the Pacific Northwest.The B.1.1.7 variant, which first emerged in the United Kingdom last September, has been confirmed by DNA sequencing in two cases in Snohomish County,...

Ex-Cardinals coach Wilks new defensive coordinator at Mizzou

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Steve Wilks is returning to coaching as the defensive coordinator at Missouri.Wilks, who was hired by Tigers coach Eli Drinkwitz on Thursday, took last year off after spending the previous 14 seasons in the NFL. The stint was highlighted by a year as the head coach of...

Music City Bowl between Iowa and Missouri canceled

The Music City Bowl between Missouri and Iowa was canceled Sunday because COVID-19 issues left the Tigers unable to play.The game scheduled for Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee, is the second bowl called off since the postseason lineup was set on Dec. 20, joining the Gasparilla Bowl. Overall, 18...

OPINION

Demos President K. Sabeel Rahman Issues Statement on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2021

We see painful parallels between the America in which King lived and the present day ...

This is America: White Privilege, Black Lives Matter, and Violence at the Capitol

The violence we witnessed in the United States Capitol on January 6 is nothing new. ...

SPLC Action Fund President: Attempted Coup Displays Organized, Extremist Violence Plaguing the United States

Insidious racism took the form of an American president openly encouraging with “love” violent extremists ...

Commentary: Exit in Disgrace

Will Trump leave in the middle of the night, embarrassed by his four years of crude, rude, lying, and beyond belief incompetence? Or will he be escorted out by a secret service detachment? ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Arizona Republicans censure Cindy McCain, GOP governor

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Republicans voted Saturday to censure Cindy McCain and two prominent GOP members who have found themselves crosswise with former President Donald Trump.The censures of Sen. John McCain’s widow, former Sen. Jeff Flake and Gov. Doug Ducey are merely symbolic. But...

Police: Black teens wrongly detained at Target in California

VENTURA, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles County sheriff’s department has said three teens, who are Black, were wrongly detained at a Target store in Westlake Village during a grand theft investigation last week.The teens — a 17-year-old and two 16-year-olds — from Thousand...

Judge: Kenosha shooter can't associate with supremacists

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — An 18-year-old Illinois teen charged with fatally shooting two people during a protest in southeastern Wisconsin last year is prohibited from associating with known white supremacists under a judge's recently modified bail conditions. Kyle Rittenhouse was 17 during the...

ENTERTAINMENT

Tom Brokaw says he's retiring from NBC News after 55 years

NEW YORK (AP) — Longtime NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, once television news' most popular broadcaster as he told viewers about the biggest events of that late 20th Century, said Friday that he's retiring from television.Brokaw, who is 80, said he'll continue writing books and articles. He's...

Screenwriter Walter Bernstein dies at 101

NEW YORK (AP) — Screenwriter Walter Bernstein, among the last survivors of Hollywood’s anti-Communist blacklist whose Oscar-nominated script for “The Front” drew upon his years of being unable to work under his own name, died Saturday. He was 101.The cause was pneumonia,...

'Barney Miller,' 'Sanford and Son' actor Gregory Sierra dies

NEW YORK (AP) — Gregory Sierra, who had memorable roles in the 1970s sitcoms “Barney Miller" and “Sanford and Son," has died after battling cancer. He was 83.Sierra's widow, Helene, said Saturday in a phone interview with The Associated Press that the actor died on Jan. 4 in...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Poirier knocks out Conor McGregor in 2nd round at UFC 257

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Dustin Poirier stopped Conor McGregor with a flurry of punches...

Michigan Mega Millions ticket wins jumi.05 billion jackpot

DETROIT (AP) — Someone in Michigan bought the winning ticket for the jumi.05 billion Mega Millions jackpot,...

3,000 arrested at protests demanding Navalny's release

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian police arrested more than 3,000 people Saturday in nationwide protests demanding the...

The Latest: New Zealand reports 1st community case in months

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand has reported its first coronavirus case outside of a quarantine...

UK doctors seek review of 12-week gap between vaccine doses

LONDON (AP) — A major British doctors' group says the U.K. government should “urgently...

Asia Today: New Zealand reports 1st community case in months

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand has reported its first coronavirus case outside of a quarantine...

MLK Breakfast 2021 Watch Now
Thomas Watkins the Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The elaborate mission to recover a moon rock led NASA agents to one of the most down-to-earth places: a Denny's restaurant in Riverside County.

But at the end of the sting operation, agents were left holding a speck of lunar dust smaller than a grain of rice and a 74-year-old suspect who was terrified by armed officials.

Five months after NASA investigators and local agents swooped into the restaurant and hailed their operation as a cautionary tale for anyone trying to sell national treasure, no charges have been filed, NASA isn't talking and the case appears stalled.

The target, Joann Davis, a grandmother who says she was trying to raise money for her sick son, asserts the lunar material was rightfully hers, having been given to her space-engineer husband by Neil Armstrong in the 1970s.

"It's a very upsetting thing," Davis told The Associated Press. "It's very detrimental, very humiliating, all of it a lie."

The strange case centers on a speck of authenticated moon rock encased in an acrylic-looking dome that appears to be a paperweight. For years, NASA has gone after anyone selling lunar material gathered on the Apollo missions because it is considered government property, so cannot be sold for profit.

Still, NASA has given hundreds of lunar samples to nations, states and high-profile individuals but only on the understanding they remain government property. NASA's inspector general works to arrest anyone trying to sell them.

The case was triggered by Davis herself, according to a search warrant affidavit written by Norman Conley, an agent for the inspector general.

She emailed a NASA contractor May 10 trying to find a buyer for the rock, as well as a nickel-sized piece of the heat shield that protected the Apollo 11 space capsule as it returned to earth from the first successful manned mission to the moon in 1969.

"I've been searching the internet for months attempting to find a buyer," Davis wrote. "If you have any thoughts as to how I can proceed with the sale of these two items, please call."

Davis told AP the items were among many of the space-related heirlooms her husband left her when he died in 1986. She said she had worked as a lexicographer and he had worked as an engineer for North American Rockwell, which contracted for NASA during the Apollo era.

Davis claims Armstrong gave the items to her husband, though the affidavit says the first man on the moon has previously told investigators he never gave or sold lunar material to anyone.

In follow-up phone conversations with a NASA agent, Davis acknowledged the rock was not sellable on the open market and fretted about an agent knocking on her door and taking the material, which she was willing to sell for "big money underground."

"She must know that this is a questionable transaction because she used the term `black market,'" Agent Conley states in the search warrant.

Curiously, though, Davis agreed to sell the sample to NASA for a stellar $1.7 million. She said she wanted to leave her three children an inheritance and take care of her sick son.

NASA investigators then arranged the sting, where Conley met with Davis and her current husband at the Denny's at Lake Elsinore in Riverside County.

Soon after settling into a booth, Davis said, she pulled out the moon sample and about half a dozen sheriff's deputies and NASA investigators rushed into the eatery.

When officers in flack vests took a hold of her, the 4-foot-11 woman said she was so scared she lost control of her bladder and was taken outside to a parking lot, where she was questioned and detained for about two hours.

"They grabbed me and pulled me out of the booth," Davis claimed. "I had very, very deep bruises on my left side."

Conley declined to comment and NASA Office of the Inspector General spokeswoman Renee Juhans said she could not talk about an ongoing investigation.

Davis was eventually allowed home, without the moon rock, and was never booked into a police station or charged.

The affidavit states authorities believed Davis was in possession of stolen government property but so far they have not publicly revealed any proof.

"This (is) abhorrent behavior by the federal government to steal something from a retiree that was given to her," said Davis's attorney, Peter Schlueter, who is planning legal action.

Joseph Gutheinz, a University of Phoenix instructor and former NASA investigator who has spent years tracking down missing moon rocks, said prosecuting Davis could prove tricky.

Gutheinz said he recently learned that NASA did not always take good care of lunar materials. In some instances, space suits were simply hosed off and any moon dust on them lost forever.

While bigger rocks, such as those given to various countries and museums were carefully inventoried and tracked, it now appears there are unknown numbers of much smaller pieces circulating in the public. Some of these may have been turned into paperweights and informally given away by NASA engineers.

"I have a real moral problem with what's happened here in California," Gutheinz said. "I've always taken the position that no one should own an Apollo-era moon rock. They belong to the people. But if we did such a poor job of safeguarding (lunar samples,) I cannot fault that person."

About 2,200 samples of lunar rocks, core samples, pebbles, sand and dust - weighing about 840 pounds - were brought to Earth by NASA's Apollo lunar landing missions from 1969 to 1972. A recent count showed 10 states and more than 90 countries could not account for their shares of the gray rocks.

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Watkins can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/thomaswatkins

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