12-03-2022  9:06 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Tough Oregon Gun Law Faces Legal Challenge, Could Be Delayed

Midterm voters narrowly passed one of the toughest gun control laws in the nation, but the new permit-to-purchase mandate and ban on high-capacity magazines faces a lawsuit that could put it on ice just days before it's set to take effect.

Portland Approves $27M for New Homeless Camps

Public opposition to the measure and the money that will fund it has been heated, with critics saying it will criminalize homelessness and fail to address its root causes.

Portland Settles Lawsuit Over Police Use of Tear Gas

The lawsuit was originally filed by Don't Shoot Portland in June 2020. “Our freedom of expression is the foundation of how we make social change possible,” Teressa Raiford said in a news release. “Black Lives Still Matter.”

Oregon Lawmakers Lift Security Measure Imposed on Senator

Since July 2019, Sen. Brian Boquist had been required to give 12 hours notice before coming to the Oregon State Capitol, to give the state police time to bolster their security and to ensure the safety of people in the Capitol.

NEWS BRIEFS

PBS Genealogy Show Seeks Viewers’ Brick Walls

The popular PBS show “Finding Your Roots” is putting out a nationwide casting call for a non-celebrity to be featured on season...

The James Museum Opens Black Pioneers: Legacy In The American West

This first-of-its-kind-exhibition explores Black history in the West with a timeline of pictorial quilts. ...

Use of Deadly Force Investigation Involving Clackamas County Sheriff and Oregon State Police Concludes

The grand jury’s role was solely to determine whether the involved officers’ conduct warranted criminal charges; questions...

Fan buying famed ‘Goonies’ house in Oregon, listed for jumi.7M

ASTORIA, Ore. (AP) — The listing agent for the Victorian home featured in the “The Goonies” film in Astoria, Oregon, said this week the likely new owner is a fan of the classic coming-of-age movie about friendships and treasure hunting, and he promises to preserve and protect the landmark. ...

Scientists call for action to help sunflower sea stars

ASTORIA, Ore. (AP) — Scientists along the West Coast are calling for action to help sunflower sea stars, among the largest sea stars in the world, recover from catastrophic population declines. Experts say a sea star wasting disease epidemic that began in 2013 has decimated about...

Missouri holds off Arkansas 29-27 to reach bowl eligibility

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri and Arkansas will be headed to similar bowl games after the Tigers held off the Razorbacks 29-27 on Saturday night, leaving each of the bitter border rivals 6-6 on the season. Only one walked out of Faurot Field with victory cigars. Brady...

Rivalry week should bring SEC bowl forecast into clear focus

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — It’s rivalry week for most of the Southeastern Conference. The Egg Bowl. The Iron Bowl. The Palmetto Bowl. The Sunshine Showdown. Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate. The Battle Line Rivalry. It’s a chance for everyone to either avoid or add to the powerhouse...

OPINION

‘I Unreservedly Apologize’

The Oregonian commissioned a study of its history of racism, and published the report on Oct. 24, 2022. The Skanner is pleased to republish the apology written by the editor, Therese Bottomly. We hope other institutions will follow this example of looking...

City Officials Should Take Listening Lessons

Sisters of the Road share personal reflections of their staff after a town hall meeting at which people with lived experience of homelessness spoke ...

When Student Loan Repayments Resume, Will Problems Return Too?

HBCU borrowers question little loan forgiveness, delays to financial security ...

Tell the Supreme Court: We Still Need Affirmative Action

Opponents of affirmative action have been trying to destroy it for years. And now it looks like they just might get their chance. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Colorado hires Deion Sanders to turn around program

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Deion Sanders is taking over as head coach at Colorado, bringing his charisma and larger-than-life persona to a beleaguered Pac-12 program that’s plunged to the bottom of college football. The deal was announced Saturday night by CU athletic director Rick...

Antisemitic celebrities stoke fears of normalizing hate

A surge of anti-Jewish vitriol, spread by a world-famous rapper, an NBA star and other prominent people, is stoking fears that public figures are normalizing hate and ramping up the risk of violence in a country already experiencing a sharp increase in antisemitism. Leaders of the...

Both sides see high stakes in gay rights Supreme Court case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is being warned about the potentially dire consequences of a case next week involving a Christian graphic artist who objects to designing wedding websites for same-sex couples. Rule for the designer and the justices will expose not only same-sex...

ENTERTAINMENT

Prince William, like his father, prioritizes the environment

BOSTON (AP) — Prince William capped a three-day visit to Boston by meeting with President Joe Biden to share his vision for safeguarding the environment before attending a gala event Friday evening where he sounded an optimistic tone about solving the world’s environmental problems through...

LGBTQ chorus in Colorado Springs unifies community with song

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Below the vaulted dome and dark wood beams of a church in Colorado Springs, a gay men's choir rehearsed for a concert that's taken on new meaning after an LGBTQ night club became the site of a shooting that killed five and wounded 17. “There is no...

Britney Spears' massive pop songs to land on Broadway, again

NEW YORK (AP) — A stage musical about woke princesses that uses hit songs by Britney Spears will land on Broadway this summer. "Once Upon a One More Time," featuring Spears' tunes, including “Oops!… I Did It Again,” “Lucky,” “Stronger” and “Toxic,” will start...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Defeated election conspiracists seek to lead Michigan GOP

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Republicans who lost their races for Michigan's top three statewide offices after...

Messi scores, Argentina reaches World Cup quarterfinals

AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — Lionel Messi was pushed into the middle of a joyous post-match huddle as Argentina’s...

Body of 7-year-old Texas girl found, FedEx driver arrested

PARADISE, Texas (AP) — A 7-year-old Texas girl has been found dead, two days after being reported missing, and a...

AP PHOTOS: Residents face new reality in retaken Kherson

KHERSON, Ukraine (AP) — When Ukraine wrested back Kherson from Russian occupiers nearly a month ago, it was a...

Russia rejects -a-barrel cap on its oil, warns of cutoffs

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian authorities rejected a price cap on the country's oil set by Ukraine’s Western...

Thousands protest in South Korea in support of truckers

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Thousands of demonstrators representing organized labor marched in South Korea’s...

Charles Hutzler the Associated Press

BEIJING (AP) -- The blind activist at the center of a diplomatic tussle between the U.S. and China did not set out to be a dissident. Chen Guangcheng taught himself law to defend the constitutional rights he saw trampled so often.

"'What do the authorities want me to do? Lead a protest in the streets? I don't want to do that,'" New York University law professor Jerome Cohen recounted Chen as telling him in a moment of frustration after a local court rejected one of his lawsuits.

While Chen never took to the streets, his supporters rallied in his defense when he was imprisoned on what they call fabricated charges and when he was later kept under house arrest and beaten. Ultimately they helped free Chen, seeing him as a symbol for human dignity and for the promise that the law could bring justice in a society seen as unfairly tipped toward the powerful.

After Chen's surprising escape from his well-guarded rural home April 22 and into the protection of U.S. diplomats in Beijing, his fate is now being discussed in high-level negotiations. Both governments are trying to keep the case from overshadowing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's arrival Wednesday for annual talks on global hotspots and economic imbalances.

Chen's predicament - his improbable flight to hoped-for freedom - has thrilled the many Chinese who are savvy enough to get around Internet censorship to learn about it. And it has reaffirmed for his supporters the qualities they have long admired: Chen displays a determination for upholding the law while exuding a charisma that reassures those around him.

"He's just the most extraordinary person," said activist blogger He Peirong on Friday, four days after she picked up a bloodied Chen outside his village and sped toward Beijing and shortly before she was detained by police for helping him.

"He never gives up. He's very spirited, willful and optimistic," she said.

His principled steeliness was on display in a video statement recorded while he was in hiding last week. In it, he calmly catalogs the mistreatment of him, his wife, his 6-year-old daughter and his mother while under house arrest. He names the officials who took part in the abuse and then demands an investigation and the protection of his family members, whose whereabouts are not known.

"I also ask that the Chinese government safeguard the dignity of law and the interests of the people, as well as guarantee the safety of my family members," Chen said.

The 40-year-old Chen is emblematic of a new breed of activists that the Communist Party finds threatening. Often from rural and working-class families, these "rights defenders," as they are called, are unlike the students and intellectuals from the elite academies and major cities who led the Tiananmen Square democracy movement.

The backgrounds of these new activists have helped them tap into the simmering grievances about a rich-poor gap, farmland expropriations, corruption and unbridled official power that are fueling the 180,000 protests that experts estimate rock China every year.

Left blind by a fever as an infant, Chen eventually left his boyhood in Dongshigu village, amid the corn and peanut fields of Shandong province, to attend a school for the blind. Later, while studying acupuncture and massage - traditional trades for the blind in China - at Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, he taught himself law.

Even before graduating, he began championing the rights of the disabled and farmers in Dongshigu and surrounding areas. He petitioned officials to eliminate taxes on disabled farmers and collected signatures from farmers to shut down a polluting paper factory. His reputation soared after he successfully sued Beijing's subway operator to allow the blind to ride for free.

Profiles and reports in the national media followed.

"The courageous blind peasant defender of rights," the China Youth Daily, the newspaper of the Communist Youth League, called him in a 1994 article. "Thirty-three-year-old Chen Guangcheng is blind. But farmers from all over the area come to him to make decisions in any case of infringement or other disputes."

He went to the United States on a State Department program, during which he talked about his ambition to attend law school and met Cohen, the law professor who became a staunch advocate for Chen. "He is an extraordinary person with a charismatic personality," Cohen said in an interview in 2006. "You are moved by his emotion to try to improve the legal system and human rights."

His resolve was soon tested.

In 2005, Chen and his wife Yuan Weijing documented complaints about forced abortions and sterilization used to enforce a family planning campaign run by Linyi, the city that oversees Dongshigu. Among the cases were several women who said they were forced to have abortions within days of their due dates.

Officials often resort to such illegal measures to enforce policies that limit families to one or two children, fearing they will otherwise fail to meet national population targets and derail their chances for promotion. An investigation by the national family planning commission later validated Chen's claims, and said that some local officials had been punished for their wrongdoing.

The affair set local leaders against Chen.

He and his family were confined to their home and repeatedly beaten by people he and his wife have said were hired by the local government. When activist lawyers from Beijing tried to see them, they too were beaten and chased away.

In 2006, he was put on trial and sentenced to four years in prison for "damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic" - charges that apparently stemmed from the confrontation between supporters and those enforcing his house arrest.

After his release, he still wasn't free. His house arrest continued, enforced by surveillance cameras and teams of hired locals who guarded his house and the streets into the village. Activists, diplomats, foreign media and Hollywood actor Christian Bale all tried to break the security cordon only to be chased away.

Chen's video last week listed some of the indignities his family suffered: His daughter Kesi is followed to school, her bag ransacked to make sure she's not carrying anything. The precaution seemed a response to Chen's daring. In February 2011 he surreptitiously recorded a video detailing his house arrest. "I have come out of a small jail and walked into a bigger jail," Chen said in the video.

His perseverance and mistreatment, however, spread Chen's reputation further. "America will continue to speak out and to press China when it censors bloggers and imprisons activists," Secretary of State Clinton said in a speech last year, "and when some, like Chen Guangcheng, are persecuted even after they are released."

Now in U.S. protection, Chen faces a dilemma. His supporters say he wants to stay in China and live with his family in safety, rather than go abroad. Yet it's far from certain Beijing is able or willing to guarantee their safety, unless they take U.S. sanctuary.

Chen also struck a measured note of defiance in last week's video message while asking Premier Wen Jiabao to investigate his family's treatment: "If anything more happens to my family, I will continue to pursue justice."

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