01-18-2022  2:22 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

The Skanner Foundation Drum Major for Justice 2022 is Teressa Raiford

Through political campaigns, legal actions, founding the grassroots organizing group Don't Shoot Portland and through her fearless determination to speak up against racial injustice, Portland-born Teressa Raiford has made a lasting impression on our city and our state

Paid Workplace Training Internships Program Receives Support From City

Black, Latinx students receive skilled on-the-job training, career coaching, through POIC-RAHS program

Oregon Supreme Court OKs Dropping Bar Exam for Alternatives

The state’s highest court in a unanimous vote “expressed approval in concept” to a pair of alternative pathways designed for law students and postgraduates seeking admittance to the state bar

Washington Lawmakers Kick off Mostly Remote Session

Lawmakers in Washington state have started a new legislative session amid the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and much of their work will be done remotely 

NEWS BRIEFS

Culture + Trauma: An Artist Comes Home

An installation at the Alberta Arts Salon curated by Bobby Fouther is a visioning of the uncensored Black life. ...

MLK Day March Starts at Peninsula Park

Humboldt Neighborhood Association invites the public to participate in the March for Human Rights and Dignity in commemoration of the...

Shabbat Service Honors Martin Luther King Jr.

Congregation Beth Israel's Shabbat Service will be online Friday, Jan.14, at 6 p.m. to honor Dr. King’s work and legacy. ...

MLK Virtual Youth Summit Offers Resources for Portland’s Young African Americans 

With the ongoing rise in youth violence in our community, Highland Christian Center aims to take practical steps to reach our youth...

Underground Railroad Topic of Genealogy ZOOM Presentation

The public is invited to join the Genealogical Forum of Oregon’s African American Special Interest group Saturday, Jan, 15, from...

Portland nurses 'urgently concerned' about health in schools

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — As COVID-19 cases surge in Oregon — forcing some of the state’s largest school districts to close last week due to staffing shortages — a letter from three dozen nurses at the Portland Public School District circulated over the weekend, in which they question the...

Police rescue 2 after home slides off foundation

Police in Bellevue, Washington, rescued two people from a home that slid off its foundation early Monday morning. The Seattle Times reports police received a call of flooding around 4 a.m. and officers, along with fire crews, arrived to find a partially-collapsed two-story home...

UNLV promotes interim AD Harper to full-time job

LAS VEGAS (AP) — UNLV has promoted interim athletic director Erick Harper to serve in the job full time. Harper's hiring, announced on Monday, was effective Jan. 1. He had served as interim athletic director since Desiree Reed-Francois left UNLV for Missouri in August. ...

Army stuns Missouri in Armed Forces Bowl on last-second FG

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Cole Talley kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired and Army rallied to beat Missouri 24-22 in the Armed Forces Bowl on Wednesday night. After the Tigers took a 22-21 lead on a touchdown with 1:11 to play, third-string quarterback Jabari Laws led Army...

OPINION

OP-ED: A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand

January 6th, Voting Rights and the Tyranny Threatening America ...

Support Nikole Hannah-Jones and The 1619 Project

This important and ambitious project pulled back the curtain of euphemistic rhetoric composing American historiography that points only to the good in our history and sweeps under the rug the evil deeds perpetrated against people of color ...

In 2021, Organized Labor is Again Flexing its Muscles

We have seen dramatic change in the makeup of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) under President Biden. ...

Study Reveals Racial Pay Gap for Social Media Influencers

The racial pay gap has long presented issues for African Americans in Corporate America and other industries. It’s now filtered to social media. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Norwegian mass murderer appears before parole hearing

SKIEN, Norway (AP) — Anders Behring Breivik, the right-wing extremist who killed 77 people in bomb-and-gun massacres in Norway’s worst peacetime slaughter in 2011, appeared Tuesday before a court for a parole hearing. The Telemark District Court must rule whether Breivik is still...

Sinema, Manchin slammed as Senate begins voting bill debate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing stark criticism from civil rights leaders, senators return to Capitol Hill under intense pressure to change their rules and break a Republican filibuster that has hopelessly stalled voting legislation. The Senate is set to launch debate Tuesday on the voting...

NHL pioneer O'Ree says having Bruins retire jersey an honor

BOSTON (AP) — Willie O’Ree has experienced many honors during his lifetime, from becoming the NHL's first Black player in 1958 with the Boston Bruins to being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018. But the 86-year-old says having his No. 22 jersey retired in Boston on...

ENTERTAINMENT

Los Angeles police investigate Ye after battery complaint

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Police are investigating after a battery report was filed Thursday against Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West. The incident that spurred the complaint took place in downtown Los Angeles at about 3 a.m. Thursday, LAPD spokeswoman Redina Puentes said. No...

Elvis Costello rocks out from the back porch

NEW YORK (AP) — Elvis Costello's 32nd album rings with the sound of a tight rock ‘n’ roll combo sweating together on a tiny stage, feeding off each other to produce a joyful noise. Yet that's all a mirage. Costello and his three-piece band, the Imposters, were...

Review: Jamestown Revival, more than just a roadhouse band

Jamestown Revival, “Young Man" (Thirty Tigers) The list of really good Americana roadhouse bands that have emerged from the Texas music scene over the years is a long one. The list of those that distinguished themselves by doing something fresh and original, not so much. ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

AP PHOTOS: Bejeweled camels wrestle for victory in Turkey

SELCUK, Turkey (AP) — Black-eyed Nirvana and Mr. Isa, two male camels from the western Aydin province of Turkey...

In tiny Wyoming town, Bill Gates bets big on nuclear power

KEMMERER, Wyoming (AP) — In this sleepy Wyoming town that has relied on coal for over a century, a company...

Satellite photos show aftermath of Abu Dhabi oil site attack

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Satellite photos obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday appear to show...

Hong Kong to cull 2,000 animals as some test COVID-positive

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong authorities said Tuesday that they will cull some 2,000 small animals, including...

Japan ready to expand virus restrictions as infections surge

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's government is preparing social restrictions in Tokyo and other regions as the omicron...

AP PHOTOS: Bejeweled camels wrestle for victory in Turkey

SELCUK, Turkey (AP) — Black-eyed Nirvana and Mr. Isa, two male camels from the western Aydin province of Turkey...

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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The Skanner Foundation's Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast

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