07-24-2024  3:09 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather

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NORTHWEST NEWS

Wildfires Threaten Communities in the West as Oregon Fire Closes Interstate, Creates Its Own Weather

Firefighters in the West are scrambling as wildfires threaten communities in Oregon, California and Washington. A stretch of Interstate 84 connecting Oregon and Idaho in the area of one of the fires was closed indefinitely Tuesday. New lightning-sparked wildfires in the Sierra near the California-Nevada border forced the evacuation of a recreation area, closed a state highway and were threatening structures Tuesday.

In Washington State, Inslee's Final Months Aimed at Staving off Repeal of Landmark Climate Law

Voters in Washington state will decide this fall whether to keep one of the country's more aggressive laws aimed at stemming carbon pollution. The repeal vote imperils the most significant climate policy passed during outgoing Gov. Jay Inslee's three terms, and Inslee — who made climate action a centerpiece of his short-lived presidential campaign in the 2020 cycle — is fighting hard against it. 

SneakerWeek 2024 Launches in Pioneer Courthouse Square July 26

The event brings together industry experts, BIPOC designers and sneaker enthusiasts.

Money From Washington's Landmark Climate Law Will Help Tribes Face Rising Seas, Climate Change

Tens of millions of dollars raised by a landmark climate law in Washington state will go to Native American tribes that are at risk from climate change and rising sea levels to help them move to higher ground, install solar panels, buy electric vehicles and restore wetlands. The Quinault Indian Tribe on the Olympic Peninsula is getting million to help relocate its two main villages to higher ground, away from the tsunami zone and persistent flooding.

NEWS BRIEFS

Dr. Vinson Eugene Allen and Dusk to Dawn Urgent Care Make a Historical Mark as the First African American Owned Chain of Urgent Care Facilities in the United States

Dusk to Dawn Urgent Care validated as the First African American Owned Urgent Care in the nation with chain locations ...

Washington State Black Legislators Endorse Kamala Harris for President

Members of the Washington State Legislative Black Caucus (LBC) are proud to announce their enthusiastic endorsement of Vice President...

Oregon Housing and Community Services Awarded More Than $11 Million to Increase Energy Efficiency in Affordable Housing

Part of a nearly 0 million Climate Pollution Reduction Grant awarded to Oregon ...

Merkley, Senators Urge VA to Expand Access to Medical Cannabis for America’s Veterans

Senators’ letter follows DEA’s recommended rescheduling of cannabis from earlier this year ...

Federal Appeals Court Declines to Restore Voting Rights in Mississippi

Thousands of Mississippians Face “Especially Cruel” Disenfranchisement Scheme ...

Oregon fire is the largest burning in the US. Officials warn an impending storm could exacerbate it

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A wildfire burning in Oregon that's kicking smoke into neighboring states is now the largest active blaze in the U.S., authorities said, and fire crews are bracing for a storm late Wednesday that's expected to bring lightning, strong winds and the risk of flash floods. ...

Wildfires threaten communities in the West as Oregon fire closes interstate, creates its own weather

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — Firefighters in the West are scrambling as wildfires threaten communities in Oregon, California and Washington, with at least one Oregon fire so large that it is creating its own weather. Interstate 84 in eastern Oregon was closed in both directions Tuesday...

Chiefs set deadline of 6 months to decide whether to renovate Arrowhead or build new — and where

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — The Chiefs have set a deadline of six months from now to decide on a plan for the future of Arrowhead Stadium, whether that means renovating their iconic home or building an entirely new stadium in Kansas or Missouri. After a joint ballot initiative with the...

Missouri governor says new public aid plan in the works for Chiefs, Royals stadiums

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said Thursday that he expects the state to put together an aid plan by the end of the year to try to keep the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals from being lured across state lines to new stadiums in Kansas. Missouri's renewed efforts...

OPINION

The 900-Page Guide to Snuffing Out American Democracy

What if there was a blueprint for a future presidential administration to unilaterally lay waste to our constitutional order and turn America from a democracy into an autocracy in one fell swoop? That is what one far-right think tank and its contributors...

SCOTUS Decision Seizes Power to Decide Federal Regulations: Hard-Fought Consumer Victories Now at Risk

For Black and Latino Americans, this power-grab by the court throws into doubt and potentially weakens current agency rules that sought to bring us closer to the nation’s promises of freedom and justice for all. In two particular areas – fair housing and...

Minding the Debate: What’s Happening to Our Brains During Election Season

The June 27 presidential debate is the real start of the election season, when more Americans start to pay attention. It’s when partisan rhetoric runs hot and emotions run high. It’s also a chance for us, as members of a democratic republic. How? By...

State of the Nation’s Housing 2024: The Cost of the American Dream Jumped 47 Percent Since 2020

Only 1 in 7 renters can afford homeownership, homelessness at an all-time high ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Puerto Rico bans discrimination against those who wear Afros and other hairstyles on diverse island

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico’s governor on Wednesday signed a law that prohibits discrimination against people wearing Afros, curls, locs, twists, braids and other hairstyles in the racially diverse U.S. territory. The move was celebrated by those who had long demanded...

Body camera video focused national attention on an Illinois deputy's fatal shooting of Sonya Massey

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A riveted nation watched video released this week of a sheriff's deputy fatally shooting Sonya Massey, a 36-year-old Black woman who called 911 for assistance, in her Illinois home. Sean Grayson, 14 months into his career as a deputy sheriff for Sangamon...

Harris asks for 2024 support from women of color during an address at a historically Black sorority

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris told members of the historically Black sorority Zeta Phi Beta on Wednesday that “we are not playing around” and asked for their help in electing her president in November. “In this moment, I believe we face a choice between two...

ENTERTAINMENT

Book Review: East Texas P.I. turns vigilante in funny and savage 'Sugar on the Bones'

Minnie Polson was in some sort of trouble, so a friend recommended the private eye firm of Hap Collins, his wife Brett, and their pal Leonard Pine. But when they meet, Minnie doesn’t like their attitude, and they don’t like hers. Hours after they agree to part company, Minnie’s...

Book Review: The Knights of Camelot search for a new king in Lev Grossman’s 'The Bright Sword'

A rudderless nation, lost in uncertainty, searches for its next commander in chief. There’s an uneasy sense that the country’s glory days have passed, and that a monumental turn in history is coming — for good or for ill. How do you find a leader to unite such a fractured, polarized land? ...

Music Review: Glass Animals weave heartstring-tugging vignettes on new album

Love songs have existed for millennia but leave it to Glass Animals to give them a refreshing spin, where love isn't always a honeymoon phase or heartbreak — it's much, much more. The British indie-pop band, known for hits like 2014's “Gooey” or 2020's viral “Heat Waves," has...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Can you guess Olympians' warmup songs? World's top athletes share their favorite tunes

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Curious about which songs are fueling the Olympians competing in Paris starting this month?...

Republican leaders urge colleagues to steer clear of racist and sexist attacks on Harris

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican leaders are warning party members against using overtly racist and sexist attacks...

Surprise Yellowstone geyser eruption highlights little known hazard at popular park

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A surprise eruption of steam in a Yellowstone National Park geyser basin that sent people...

Puerto Rico bans discrimination against those who wear Afros and other hairstyles on diverse island

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico’s governor on Wednesday signed a law that prohibits discrimination...

Farmers in Africa say their soil is dying and chemical fertilizers are in part to blame

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — When Benson Wanjala started farming in his western Kenya village two and a half decades...

Trash dropped by a North Korean balloon falls on South Korea’s presidential compound

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Trash carried by at least one North Korean balloon fell on the South Korean...

The Associated Press

Extended unemployment benefits for nearly 2 million Americans begin to run out Wednesday, cutting off a steady stream of income and guaranteeing a dismal holiday season for people already struggling with bills they cannot pay.
Unless Congress changes its mind, benefits that had been extended up to 99 weeks will end this month.
That means Christmas is out of the question for Wayne Pittman, 46, of Lawrenceville, Ga., and his wife and 9-year-old son. The carpenter was working up to 80 hours a week at the beginning of the decade, but saw that gradually drop to 15 hours before it dried up completely. His last $297 check will go to necessities, not presents.
"I have a little boy, and that's kind of hard to explain to him," Pittman said.
Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer issued a statement denouncing legislators failure to restore benefits. "I am deeply disappointed that Congress has yet to extend long-term unemployment insurance in time for the holidays," said Blumenauer. "For nearly two million workers, these monthly checks – just a couple hundred dollars to help make ends meet – have been a lifeline as they look for new jobs during this awful recession. I find it especially shameful that we are threatening to leave these families out in the cold at the same time that some members of Congress want us to spend $700 billion we don't have on tax cuts for millionaires who don't need them. Cutting off unemployment benefits won't help us end this recession, it will only make it worse. I call on members of both parties to set aside politics and vote to extend these benefits for unemployed Americans."
The average weekly unemployment benefit in the U.S. is $302.90, though it varies widely depending on how states calculate the payment. Because of supplemental state programs and other factors, it's hard to know for sure who will lose their benefits at any given time. But the Labor Department estimates that, without a Congress-approved extension, about 2 million people will be cut off by Christmas.

Congressional opponents of extending the benefits beyond this month say fiscal responsibility should come first. Republicans in the House and Senate, along with a handful of conservative Democrats, say they're open to extending benefits, but not if it means adding to the $13.8 trillion national debt.
Even if Congress does lengthen benefits, cash assistance is at best a stopgap measure, said Carol Hardison, executive director of Crisis Assistance Ministry in Charlotte, N.C., which has seen 20,000 new clients since the Great Recession started in December 2007.
"We're going to have to have a new conversation with the people who are still suffering, about the potentially drastic changes they're going to have to make to stay out of the homeless shelter," she said.
Forget Christmas presents. What the so-called "99ers" want most of all is what remains elusive in the worst economy in generations: a job.
"I am not searching for a job, I am begging for one," said Felicia Robbins, 30, as she prepared to move out of a homeless shelter in Pensacola, Fla., where she and her five children have been living. She is using the last of her cash reserves, about $500, to move into a small, unfurnished rental home.
Robbins lost her job as a juvenile justice worker in 2009 and her last $235 unemployment check will arrive Dec. 13. Her 10-year-old car isn't running, and she walks each day to the local unemployment office to look for work.

Jeanne Reinman, 61, of Greenville, S.C., still has her house, but even that comes with a downside.
After losing her computer design job a year and a half ago, Reinman scraped by with her savings and a weekly $351 unemployment check. When her nest egg vanished in July, she started using her unemployment to pay off her mortgage and stopped paying her credit card bills. She recently informed a creditor she couldn't make payments on a loan because her benefits were ending.
"I'm more concerned about trying to hang onto my house than paying you," she told the creditor.

Ninety-nine weeks may seem like a long time to find a job. But even as the economy grows, jobs that vanished in the Great Recession have not returned. The private sector added about 159,000 jobs in October — half as many as needed to reduce the unemployment rate of 9.6 percent, which the Federal Reserve expects will hover around 9 percent for all of next year.
"I apply for at least two jobs a day," said Silvia Lewis, of Nashville, Tenn., who's also drained her 401(k) and most of her other savings. "The constant thing that I hear, and a lot of my friends are in the same boat, is that you're overqualified."
JoAnn Sampson of Charlotte hears the same thing. A former cart driver at U.S. Airways, she and her husband are both facing the end of unemployment benefits, and she can't get so much as an entry-level job.
"When you try to apply for retail or fast food, they say 'You're overqualified,' they say 'We don't pay that much money,' they say, 'You don't want this job,'" she said.
Sampson counts her blessings: At least her two children, a teenager and a college student, are too old to expect much from Christmas this year.

Shawn Slonsky's three children aren't expecting much either. The 44-year-old union electrician in northeast Ohio won't be able to afford presents or even a Christmas tree.
His sons and daughter haven't bothered to send him holiday wish lists with the latest gizmos and gadgets.
Things used to be different. Before work dried up, Slonsky earned about $100,000 a year and he and his wife lived in a three-bedroom house where deer meandered through the backyard. For Christmas, he bought his aspiring doctor daughter medical books, a guitar, a unicycle.
Then he and his wife lost their jobs. Their house went into foreclosure and they had to move in with his 73-year-old father.
Now, Slonsky is dreading the holidays as he tries to stretch his last unemployment check to cover child support, gas, groceries and utilities.
"You don't even get in the frame of mind for Christmas when things are bad," he said. "It's hard to be in a jovial mood all the time when you've got this storm cloud hanging over your head."

This report includes contributions from Associated Press writers Meg Kinnard, in Columbia, S.C.; Ray Henry, in Atlanta; Melissa Nelson, in Pensacola, Fla.; Lucas L. Johnson II in Nashville, Tenn.; and Jeannie Nuss in Columbus, Ohio.

PHOTO Rep. Earl Blumenauer