12-02-2021  8:17 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Sen. Manning on the Year Ahead and the Year That Was

Prominent BIPOC Caucus member concerned with gun regulation, access to Covid-19 testing

Dozens of Oregon Workers Fired for Not Getting COVID Shot

Officials in Oregon say at least 99 state workers have been fired for failing to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Attorney General Rosenblum Says She Won’t Run for Governor

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum on Monday put to rest rumors and officially said she will not enter Oregon’s crowded race for governor.

Portland’s Black Population Grew in the Last Decade, but That’s Not the Whole Story

The Black population in North and Northeast Portland declined by 13.5% over the last 10 years as more than 3,000 Black residents moved away, new numbers from the 2020 census show.

NEWS BRIEFS

Oregon's Cannabis Industry Could Be More Vulnerable Than Ever

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Open Enrollment Deadline Is Dec. 15 for Health Insurance Coverage Starting Jan. 1, 2022

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Commissioners From Three Counties Select Lawrence-Spence to Fill Senate District 18 Vacancy

District 18 includes portions of west Portland and Tigard. ...

Congressional Black Caucus Issues a Statement on the Passing of Former Congresswoman Carrie P. Meek

Meek, the first Black person to represent Florida in Congress since the post-Civil War Reconstruction, died Sunday, Nov. 28 at her...

Vsp Global Partners With Black EyeCare Perspective to Eliminate Inequities and Increase Representation of People of Color in the Eye Care Industry

Partnership includes scholarships, leadership development, and outreach to prospective optometrists ...

Yakama Nation approves school district use of Warrior image

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — Yakama Nation officials said this week they will allow a rural school district in central Washington to continue the use of the Wahluke Warrior image while a plan for respectful usage is developed. The Yakima Herald-Republic reports the Wahluke School...

Christmas tree buyers face reduced supplies, higher prices

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Even Christmas trees aren’t immune to the pandemic-induced shortages and inflation plaguing the economy. Extreme weather and supply chain disruptions have reduced supplies of both real and artificial trees this season. American shoppers should expect...

No. 25 Arkansas beats Missouri, caps best season since 2011

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Sam Pittman grinned for almost the entirety of his postgame press conference Friday night. The Arkansas coach and his team had done something no others ever had. The No. 25 Razorbacks capped their regular season with a 34-17 victory over Missouri,...

Mizzou's Drinkwitz returning to Arkansas for rivalry game

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Just 45 miles of interstate highway separate Eli Drinkwitz from where he started and where he is now as Missouri's head football coach. Raised in the small Arkansas town of Alma, Drinkwitz will come full circle Friday when his Tigers visit No. 25...

OPINION

State is Painting Lipstick on Its One-of-a-kind, Long-term-care Law

Starting in January, the unpopular law imposes a stiff new tax of 58 cents per 0 earned for every worker in the state ...

Giving Thanks

Just by being alive we can be sure of having moments of sadness as well as happiness. When you’re active in politics, you experience both wins and losses. Sometimes it can be hard to feel grateful. ...

Acting on Climate will Require an Emphasis on Environmental Justice

Climate change affects us all, but its effects aren’t distributed equally. ...

Small Businesses Cannot Survive With Current Level of Postal Service

At The Skanner News office we received an important piece of correspondence that was postmarked June 12, 2021, and delivered to us on November 4, 2021. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Ball for 1st Black St. Pete mayor canceled over circus theme

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A ball planned for the first Black mayor of a major Florida city has been canceled amid concerns its circus theme was inappropriate in the once-segregated city. The Junior League of St. Petersburg, which has thrown such balls since 2006, scrapped...

Florida law school creates Ben Crump social justice center

A law school in South Florida will announce on Thursday the creation of a social justice center named after Ben Crump, the Black civil rights attorney who has gained national notoriety representing victims of police brutality and vigilante violence. The Benjamin L. Crump Center...

AP source: Notre Dame set to promote Freeman to head coach

Notre Dame is working on a deal to promote defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman to head coach to replace Brian Kelly, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday night. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because nothing had been...

ENTERTAINMENT

Dystopia, 'she-cession,' TikTok dances: We're over you, 2021

NEW YORK (AP) — The pandemic, politics, pervasive anxiety over the climate and the economy. Did 2021 leave us any time to ponder anything else? As we limp our way into a new year, there are a few more things we'd like to leave behind, from pop culture's obsession with all things apocalyptic to...

Smollett defense questions credibility of star state witness

CHICAGO (AP) — Jussie Smollett’s legal team on Thursday worked to dent the credibility of a star state witness who the day before testified that the former “Empire” actor recruited him and his brother to stage a racist, homophobic attack. Defense attorney Shay Allen...

Jacqueline Avant, wife of music legend, killed in shooting

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Jacqueline Avant, a Los Angeles philanthropist and the wife of legendary music executive Clarence Avant, was fatally shot at their home in Beverly Hills, California, early Wednesday, police said. Police and paramedics arrived at the home after a...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

EXPLAINER: Why was Michigan suspect charged with terrorism?

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan prosecutors on Wednesday charged a teen with terrorism in a deadly mass shooting...

US warns Russia as Kremlin talks about war threat in Ukraine

MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin voiced concern Thursday about a possible escalation of fighting in a separatist...

Biden launching winter COVID-19 booster, testing campaign

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is set to kick off a more urgent campaign for Americans to get COVID-19...

Paris archbishop who had 'ambiguous' relationship resigns

PARIS (AP) — Pope Francis on Thursday accepted the resignation of the archbishop of Paris, who unexpectedly...

US defense chief slams China's drive for hypersonic weapons

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — America's defense chief rebuked China on Thursday, vowing to confront its potential...

UK court backs Meghan in dispute over privacy with publisher

LONDON (AP) — The Duchess of Sussex on Thursday won the latest stage in her long-running privacy lawsuit against...

Mark Sherman the Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Xavier Alvarez was in good company when he stood up at a public meeting and called himself a wounded war veteran who had received the top military award, the Medal of Honor.

Alvarez was lying about his medal, his wounds and his military service, but he wasn't the first man to invent war exploits.

He was, however, one of the first people prosecuted under a 2006 federal law aimed at curbing false claims of military valor.

Concerns that the law improperly limits speech and turns people into criminals for things they say, rather than do, are at the heart of the Supreme Court's review of his case and the Stolen Valor Act.

Veterans groups have come to the aid of the Obama administration, which calls the law a narrowly crafted effort to protect the system of military awards that was established during the Revolutionary war by Gen. George Washington. The high court will hear the case Wednesday, which is Washington's 280th birthday.

"They're committing fraud. They're impersonating somebody else. They take on attributes of somebody else, attributes of a hero who served honorably," said Pam Sterner, whose college term paper calling for the law wound up in the hands of members of Congress. "When you do that, impersonating someone else, that's fraud, not freedom of speech."

Civil liberties groups, writers, publishers and news media outlets, including The Associated Press, have told the justices they worry the law, and especially the administration's defense of it, could lead to more attempts by government to regulate speech.

When he established military decorations in 1782, seven years before he was elected as the nation's first president, Washington himself also prescribed severe military punishment for soldiers who purported to be medal winners but weren't. Since then, many men have embellished their war records, and some have won special recognition.

It long has been a federal crime to wear unearned medals, but mere claims of being decorated were beyond the reach of law enforcement.

The House of Representatives has more than once voted to name a post office after men who claimed awards they never received. The Air Force named an award after a man who falsely claimed to have survived the Bataan Death March and been awarded the Silver Star in World War II. The Boxing Writers of America named its perseverance award after the late Pat Putnam of Sports Illustrated because of his made-up tale of surviving a Chinese prisoner of war camp in the Korean War and receiving a Navy Cross.

The Stolen Valor Act aimed to solve that problem, and garnered significant support in Congress during a time of war.

"The admiration and respect for the military increased dramatically after 9/11 and the false claims, as well," said Thomas A. Cottone Jr., a retired FBI agent who investigated phony award cases.

Alvarez made his claims by way of introducing himself as an elected member of the Three Valleys Municipal Water District in Pomona, Calif. There is nothing to suggest that he received anything in exchange or that listeners especially believed him.

Even Alvarez' lawyers acknowledged their client sometimes has trouble telling the truth. "Xavier Alvarez lied," they declare in the first sentence of their Supreme Court brief and go on to recount six separate lies in the next few lines.

He lied when he claimed he played hockey for the Detroit Red Wings, married a Mexican starlet who made paparazzi swoon, was an engineer, rescued the American ambassador during the Iranian hostage crisis and was shot when he went back for the U.S. flag. Alvarez also lied, they said, when he talked about his military service.

But the lies Alvarez told harmed no one, they said, so what he did couldn't be considered fraud.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco struck down the law as an unconstitutional restraint on free speech and said the government might instead invest in an awards database that would make it harder for people to lay claim to medals they never won. Last month, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver upheld the law in a separate case, saying the First Amendment does not always protect false statements.

The issue might never have reached this stage if not for the efforts of Sterner, and her husband, Doug.

He is a decorated Vietnam veteran who has made it his work in recent years to ensure that service members get the recognition they deserve and expose those who falsely claim acts of heroism under fire. Rather than wait for the government to act, Doug Sterner has entered nearly 100,000 award citations since Civil War in his online database, including all 3,475 Medal of Honor winners in U.S. history. His archive is used by the Military Times newspapers, published by Gannett Co.

Pam Sterner went back to school in her early 40s at Colorado State University in Pueblo, Colo. In a political science course, she wrote a paper that grew out of her husband's frustrations over phony award claimants whose worst punishment was public embarrassment. That paper eventually led to the Stolen Valor Act.

Doug Sterner's database did not save Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, from some embarrassment when he invited cameras and reporters to watch him pin medals on an elderly Korean War veteran in June.

The veteran, Myron Brown of Utah, said his Distinguished Service Cross and Silver Star were awarded belatedly, and he asked Chaffetz to present them to him publicly.

After the ceremony took place, Sterner and others raised questions about the medals and the Pentagon confirmed to Chaffetz in December that they were not authentic.

"Others have been burned by this. I have too, but I want to solve the problem," Chaffetz told the Salt Lake Tribune. He is planning a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee he leads to explore creating a government-run awards database.

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Online:

Military Times Hall of Valor database

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