07-13-2020  2:22 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Oregon Reports 332 New Coronavirus Cases, 2 Deaths

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, confirmed that Multnomah County is not ready to apply for Phase 2 of reopening

Study Finds Clothing-based Racist Stereotypes Persist Against Black Men

Researchers find some results of the study troubling

Federal Officers Use Tear Gas on Portland Protesters

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty calls officers' behavior "reckless and aggressive" after 26-year-old man struck on head and injured by an impact munition

Oregon Appeals Court Affirms Portland Renter Relocation Law

The Court affirmed a Portland ordinance requiring landlords to pay tenants’ relocation fees if their rent is increased by at least 10% or if they’re evicted without cause.

NEWS BRIEFS

NNPA Livestreams With Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Val Demings

The audience has an opportunity to be an interactive part of the interview ...

Black Women Often Ignored By Social Justice Movements

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Deadline is July 15 to Pay Portland's $35 Arts Tax

The tax, approved by voters in 2012, supports arts education and grants ...

Oregon National Guard Completes Wildland Firefighter Training

The training was conducted using funds that were allocated to the Department of Defense by Congress to enable the National Guard to...

OSU Science Pub Focuses on Influence of Black Lives Matter

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Seattle mayor seeks to reform police with transfers and cuts

SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Monday blasted the City Council's plan to cut the police department's budget by 50% and instead proposed transferring a list of functions like the 911 Call Center and parking enforcement out of the agency's budget.“We need to invest in...

Oregon, other states putting names of ousted police online

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — In the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in police custody, Oregon has released the names of over 1,700 officers whose transgressions over the past 50 years were so serious that they were banned from working in law enforcement in the state.The online posting last week...

Iowa defensive back Jack Koerner hurt in jet ski accident

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa defensive back Jack Koerner sustained serious injuries when he and a passenger on a jet ski collided with a boat on the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.According to a police report, Koerner and Cole Coffin were hurt at about 6:30 p.m. Friday when their watercraft...

Missouri football program pushes again for racial justice

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Ryan Walters had just arrived at the University of Missouri to coach safeties for the football program when a series of protests related to racial injustice led to the resignations of the system president and the chancellor of its flagship campus.The student-led movement...

OPINION

COMMENTARY: Real Table Talk

Chaplain Debbie Walker provides helpful insight for self-preservation, and care tips for your family, your neighbors, and your community circles ...

Commissioner Hardesty Responds To Federal Troop Actions Towards Protesters

This protester is still fighting for their life and I want to be clear: this should never have happened. ...

Recent Protests Show Need For More Government Collective Bargaining Transparency

Since taxpayers are ultimately responsible for funding government union contract agreements, they should be allowed to monitor the negotiation process ...

The Language of Vote Suppression

A specific kind of narrative framing is used to justify voter suppression methods and to cover up the racism that motivates their use. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Swamp Monsters? Red Tails? Gridlock? What might NFL call DC?

Washington, perhaps the nation’s most reviled city, needs a new nickname for its football team. What could possibly go wrong?Naming opportunities are rife with ridicule, partisanship and humor: Washington Gridlock, Washington Swamp Monsters, Washington Bureaucrats, Washington Subpoenas,...

Column: Wallace deserves a slot in NASCAR's All-Star race

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Bubba Wallace deserves a spot in NASCAR's All-Star race, a jumi million exhibition designed for race winners and previous champions of the event. Wallace doesn't qualify under those conditions, though he has four chances to make the 20-driver field Wednesday night at...

Legal experts review Black Minnesota teen's life sentence

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — An independent panel of national legal experts will review the conviction of an African American man sentenced as a teenager to life in prison for the murder of a little girl struck by a stray bullet, Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions and the...

ENTERTAINMENT

Celebrity birthdays for the week of July 19-25

Celebrity birthdays for the week of July 19-25.July 19: Actress Helen Gallagher (“Ryan’s Hope”) is 94. Country singer Sue Thompson is 94. Singer Vikki Carr is 80. Musician Commander Cody is 76. Actor George Dzundza (“Hack,” “Law and Order”) is 75....

Peacock enters streaming fray with paid, free subscriptions

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Peacock is joining the streaming world with a few feathers plucked from its intended array of original programs.Amid a stubborn, industry-wide production halt forced by the coronavirus, Peacock subscribers have to wait for a reimagined “Battlestar Galactica,”...

Kelly Preston, actor and wife of John Travolta, dies at 57

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kelly Preston, who played dramatic and comic foil to actors ranging from Tom Cruise in “Jerry Maguire” to Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Twins,” died Sunday, husband John Travolta said. She was 57.Travolta said in an Instagram post that his wife of...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Ten-Hut! Mask On! Class of 2024 to West Point amid pandemic

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — New cadet candidates arriving at the U.S. Military Academy on Monday were promptly...

Protest in Pennsylvania after cop uses knee to restrain man

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Activists on Monday pressed their demand for police accountability after video...

Victims' relatives most vocal opponents of man's execution

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Family members of three people slain in Arkansas more than 20 years ago have been...

WHO boss slams 'mixed messages' from leaders on coronavirus

GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization's chief on Monday slammed some government leaders for eroding...

As virus spreads, Bolsonaro ties with military under strain

SAO PAULO (AP) — After 35 years of civilian-led democracy, President Jair Bolsonaro has created the most...

Polish president wins 2nd term after bitter campaign

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish President Andrzej Duda declared victory Monday in a runoff election in which...

McMenamins
Lawrence Messina and Vicki Smith the Associated Press


President Obama with Linda Davis at a 2010 memorial service for miners lost at Upper Big Branch
 

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- The new owners of the West Virginia coal mine where 29 men were killed in an explosion agreed Tuesday to pay a record $210 million to cover fines, compensate victims' grieving families and improve underground safety.

It is the biggest settlement ever reached in a U.S. mine disaster.

Under the deal, Alpha Natural Resources - which acquired the mine's owner, Massey Energy, earlier this year - will not be charged with any crimes in the April 2010 blast at the Upper Big Branch mine as long as the company abides by the settlement, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said. But the agreement does not prevent individual employees from being prosecuted.

"No individuals are off the hook," Goodwin said, adding that federal prosecutors are still investigating.

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, meanwhile, was expected to brief the victims' families and the media Tuesday on its final report on the cause of the disaster, the nation's deadliest mining accident in 40 years. Federal investigators have blamed the blast on a combination of methane gas, a buildup of explosive coal dust and broken or malfunctioning equipment.

Criminal charges in the disaster have been brought against only one person so far: the mine's security chief at the time of the blast, Hughie Elbert Stover. A federal jury convicted him last month of lying to investigators and trying to destroy mine records. He is awaiting sentencing in February.

The settlement includes $46.5 million in criminal restitution to the miners' families, $128 million for cutting-edge mine-safety improvements, research and training, and $35 million in penalties for years of safety violations at Upper Big Branch and other mines operated by Massey.

Alpha CEO Kevin Crutchfield said the company cooperated fully with authorities and believes the agreement represents "the best path forward for everyone."

"We're particularly pleased that a substantial portion of the settlement is going towards furthering miner safety, which has always been Alpha's guiding principle," Crutchfield said. "We're mindful that the Justice Department investigation arose from a terrible tragedy which took the lives of 29 miners. Our thoughts will always be with the fallen miners and our sympathies with their families."

The $46.5 million in restitution aims to guarantee that the families of the 29 dead miners and two co-workers who survived the explosion each receive $1.5 million. Eighteen families of deceased miners have filed wrongful-death lawsuits, and eight of those already have settled with Massey. Nine other employees have sued, claiming emotional distress because of the explosion.

Those who accept the payout still can pursue lawsuits over the disaster, but the $1.5 million would be deducted from any future settlement or jury award.

For the families, the deal is about half of what Massey initially offered. Within a month of the blast, the daughter of one dead miner told The Associated Press that Massey was offering $3 million to each of the families.

One victim's mother was furious that a deal had been struck.

"I have no intentions of settling with these people that have killed my son," said Patty Quarles, whose son Gary Wayne was among the victims. "They need to be put in jail."

Virginia-based Alpha will invest $48 million in a mine safety research trust and spend an additional $80 million to improve safety at all of its underground mines with the latest technology and equipment. The upgrades include sufficient workers and gear to coat mines with crushed limestone to dilute the coal dust created during mining.

The cutting-edge improvements also include digital sensors that continuously monitor air flow and methane levels; meters to measure coal dust levels; and emergency oxygen equipment, similar to what firefighters rely on, that would give miners an uninterrupted supply of air while trying to escape from an underground accident.

"This in several ways is a revolutionary resolution," Goodwin said. "We wanted it to be something constructive and forward-looking."

The settlement will also fund a West Virginia laboratory capable of testing technology under conditions that would be too dangerous to allow in actual mines.

In addition, Alpha agreed to review all its underground mines and correct any problems within 90 days.

Preliminary reports on the disaster by state and federal investigators have said that poorly maintained cutting machines caused a spark that ignited a small amount of naturally occurring methane and a huge buildup of coal dust. Malfunctioning water sprayers allowed what could have been a small flare-up to become an epic blast that traveled seven miles of underground corridors, doubling back on itself and killing men instantly.

The United Mine Workers union said last month that conditions were so dangerous that Massey executives and managers should be prosecuted for "industrial homicide."

A disappointed and angry Clay Mullins, whose brother Rex died in the mine, said he was frustrated that all the money Alpha will spend under the settlement "basically benefits them and MSHA. It doesn't help the families."

Mullins said he and his family want to see criminal charges brought against executives at Massey, not just against low- and mid-level managers.

"It was an act of murder," he said. "They murdered 29 men, and I'm not satisfied one bit."

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Vicki Smith contributed to this story from Beckley, W.Va.

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