04-14-2024  7:35 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Grants Pass Anti-Camping Laws Head to Supreme Court

Grants Pass in southern Oregon has become the unlikely face of the nation’s homelessness crisis as its case over anti-camping laws goes to the U.S. Supreme Court scheduled for April 22. The case has broad implications for cities, including whether they can fine or jail people for camping in public. Since 2020, court orders have barred Grants Pass from enforcing its anti-camping laws. Now, the city is asking the justices to review lower court rulings it says has prevented it from addressing the city's homelessness crisis. Rights groups say people shouldn’t be punished for lacking housing.

Four Ballot Measures for Portland Voters to Consider

Proposals from the city, PPS, Metro and Urban Flood Safety & Water Quality District.

Washington Gun Store Sold Hundreds of High-Capacity Ammunition Magazines in 90 Minutes Without Ban

KGW-TV reports Wally Wentz, owner of Gator’s Custom Guns in Kelso, described Monday as “magazine day” at his store. Wentz is behind the court challenge to Washington’s high-capacity magazine ban, with the help of the Silent Majority Foundation in eastern Washington.

Five Running to Represent Northeast Portland at County Level Include Former Mayor, Social Worker, Hotelier (Part 2)

Five candidates are vying for the spot previously held by Susheela Jayapal, who resigned from office in November to focus on running for Oregon's 3rd Congressional District. Jesse Beason is currently serving as interim commissioner in Jayapal’s place. (Part 2)

NEWS BRIEFS

Americans Willing to Pay More to Eliminate the Racial Wealth Gap, Creating a New Opportunity for Black Business Owners

National research released today provides encouraging news that most Americans are willing to pay a premium price for products and...

Vibrant Communities Commissioner Dan Ryan Directs Development Funding to Complete Next Phase of Gateway Green Project

Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) is beginning a new phase of accessibility and park improvements to Gateway Green, the...

Application Opens for Preschool for All 2024-25 School Year

Multnomah County children who will be 3 or 4 years old on or before September 1, 2024 are eligible to apply now for free preschool...

PCC and LAIKA Partner to Foster Diversity in Animation

LAIKA is contributing ,000 to support student scholarships and a new animation and graphics degree. ...

Mt. Hood Community College Hosts Spring Career Fair Featuring Top Portland Employers

The event will be held April 24 at Mt. Hood Community College. ...

Can homeless people be fined for sleeping outside? A rural Oregon city asks the US Supreme Court

GRANTS PASS, Oregon (AP) — A pickleball game in this leafy Oregon community was suddenly interrupted one rainy weekend morning by the arrival of an ambulance. Paramedics rushed through the park toward a tent, one of dozens illegally erected by the town's hundreds of homeless people, then play...

Authorities say 4 people are dead after a train collided with a pickup in rural Idaho

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Four people are dead after the vehicle they were traveling in was struck by a train in rural Idaho Saturday, authorities said. Idaho State Police said the pickup was carrying a 38-year-old man, 36-year-old woman and two children, who were all from Nampa. The...

Caleb Williams among 13 confirmed prospects for opening night of the NFL draft

NEW YORK (AP) — Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams, the popular pick to be the No. 1 selection overall, will be among 13 prospects attending the first round of the NFL draft in Detroit on April 25. The NFL announced the 13 prospects confirmed as of Thursday night, and...

Georgia ends game on 12-0 run to beat Missouri 64-59 in first round of SEC tourney

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Blue Cain had 19 points, Justin Hill scored 17 off the bench and 11th-seeded Georgia finished the game on a 12-0 run to beat No. 14 seed Missouri 64-59 on Wednesday night in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament. Cain hit 6 of 12 shots,...

OPINION

Gallup Finds Black Generational Divide on Affirmative Action

Each spring, many aspiring students and their families begin receiving college acceptance letters and offers of financial aid packages. This year’s college decisions will add yet another consideration: the effects of a 2023 Supreme Court, 6-3 ruling that...

OP-ED: Embracing Black Men’s Voices: Rebuilding Trust and Unity in the Democratic Party

The decision of many Black men to disengage from the Democratic Party is rooted in a complex interplay of historical disenchantment, unmet promises, and a sense of disillusionment with the political establishment. ...

COMMENTARY: Is a Cultural Shift on the Horizon?

As with all traditions in all cultures, it is up to the elders to pass down the rituals, food, language, and customs that identify a group. So, if your auntie, uncle, mom, and so on didn’t teach you how to play Spades, well, that’s a recipe lost. But...

A Full Court Press to Get the Lead Out

With a “goal of identifying and remediating lead hazards in at least 2,800 Lancaster County homes,” LG Health is setting an example for the private sector. And the Biden-Harris administration’s focus on environmental justice and access to clean and safe...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Gene Herrick, AP photographer who covered the Korean War and civil rights, dies at 97

RICH CREEK, Va. (AP) — Gene Herrick, a retired Associated Press photographer who covered the Korean War and is known for his iconic images of Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and the trial of the killers of Emmett Till in the early years of the Civil Rights Movement, died Friday. He was 97. ...

A Pittsburgh congressional race could test Democrats who have criticized Israel's handling of war

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — An election this month in Pittsburgh and some of its suburbs is emerging as an early test of whether Israel’s war with Hamas poses political threats to progressive Democrats in Congress who have criticized how the conflict has been handled. U.S. Rep. Summer...

AI-generated fashion models could bring more diversity to the industry - or leave it with less

CHICAGO (AP) — London-based model Alexsandrah has a twin, but not in the way you’d expect: Her counterpart is made of pixels instead of flesh and blood. The virtual twin was generated by artificial intelligence and has already appeared as a stand-in for the real-life Alexsandrah...

ENTERTAINMENT

Book Review: Jen Silverman’s gripping second novel explores the long afterlife of political violence

Earlier this year a former member of the far-left Baader-Meinhof gang who spent decades in hiding was arrested by German police in connection with a string of crimes. It was just another example of the long afterlife of the anti-war movement of the late 1960s, which Jen Silverman explores in a...

What to stream this week: Billy Joel sings, Dora explores and 'Food, Inc. 2' chows down

A Billy Joel concert special celebrating his residency at Madison Square Garden and Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal playing cowboys and former lovers in Pedro Almodóvar’s “Strange Way of Life” are some of the new television, movies, music and games headed to a device near you. ...

Movie Review: ‘Food, Inc. 2’ revisits food system, sees reason for frustration and (a little) hope

The makers of the influential 2008 documentary “Food, Inc.” never planned to make a sequel. They figured they’d said it all in their harrowing look at a broken, unsustainable food system — a system led, they argued, by a few multinational corporations whose monopoly squeezes out local...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

The shadow war between Iran and Israel has been exposed. What happens next?

BEIRUT (AP) — Iran’s unprecedented attack on Israel early Sunday marked a change in approach for Tehran, which...

World paid little attention to Sudan's war for a year. Now aid groups warn of mass death from hunger

CAIRO (AP) — On a clear night a year ago, a dozen heavily armed fighters broke into Omaima Farouq’s house in...

AI-generated fashion models could bring more diversity to the industry - or leave it with less

CHICAGO (AP) — London-based model Alexsandrah has a twin, but not in the way you’d expect: Her counterpart is...

The Latest | Israel says 99% of drones and missiles launched by Iran were intercepted

Israel on Sunday praised the success of its defenses in the face of an attack by Iran involving hundreds of...

US judge tosses out lawsuits against Libyan commander accused of war crimes

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A U.S. judge has tossed out a series of civil lawsuits against a Libyan military...

Iran and Israel have a history of enmity. What key recent events led to Iran's assault on Israel?

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Iran's dramatic aerial attack on Israel follows years of enmity between the countries...

Mirwais Khan and Heidi Vogt the Associated Press

Sarposa prison was also attacked by the Taliban in 2008, with 1,000 inmates freed



KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) -- Taliban militants tunneled at least 480 inmates out of the main prison in southern Afghanistan overnight, whisking them through a 1,000-foot-long underground passage they had dug over months, officials and insurgents said Monday.

Officials at Sarposa prison in the city of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, say they only discovered the breach at about 4 a.m., a half hour after the Taliban said they had gotten all the prisoners out.

The militants began digging the tunnel about five months ago from a house within shooting distance of the prison guard towers. It was not immediately clear whether they lived in the house while they dug. They meticulously plotted the tunnel's course around police checkpoints and major roads, the insurgent group said in a statement.

The diggers finally broke through to the prison cells around 11 p.m. Sunday night, and a handful of inmates who knew of the plan unlocked cells and ushered hundreds of inmates to freedom without a shot being fired.

A man who claimed he helped organize those inside the prison told The Associated Press in a phone call that he and his accomplices obtained copies of the keys for the cells ahead of time from "friends." He did not say who those friends were, but his comments suggested possible collusion by prison guards.

"There were four or five of us who knew that our friends were digging a tunnel from the outside," said Mohammad Abdullah, who said he had been in Sarposa prison for two years after being captured in nearby Zhari district with a stockpile of weapons. "Some of our friends helped us by providing copies of the keys. When the time came at night, we managed to open the doors for friends who were in other rooms."

He said they woke the inmates up four or five at a time to sneak them out quietly. The AP reached Abdullah on a phone number supplied by a Taliban spokesman. His account could not immediately be verified.

Kandahar holds particular importance for the Taliban, which seized the city in 1994 as it began its campaign to take over Afghanistan toward the end of the country's brutal civil war. The Taliban held onto its stronghold city long after U.S. and NATO forces drove the insurgents from power in the country, and a recent wave of assassinations shows they still have strength there.

The Taliban statement said it took four and a half hours for all the prisoners to clear the tunnel, with the final inmates emerging into the house at 3:30 a.m. They then used a number of vehicles to shuttle the escaped convicts to secure locations.

Government officials corroborated parts of the Taliban account. They confirmed the tunnel was dug from the nearby house and the prisoners had somehow gotten out of their locked cells and disappeared into the warm Kandahar night.

Police showed reporters the roughly hewn hole that punched through the cement floor of the prison cell. The opening was about 3 feet (1 meter) in diameter, and the tunnel dropped straight down for about 5 feet (1.5 meters) and then turned in the direction of the house where it originated.

Reporters were not allowed into that building but officials pointed out the mud-walled compound with a brown gate and shops on either side.

The city's police mounted a massive search operation for the escaped convicts. They shot dead two inmates who tried to evade capture and re-arrested another 26, said Tooryalai Wesa, the provincial governor.

But there was no ignoring that the Taliban had pulled off a daring success under the noses of Afghan and NATO officials.

"This is a blow," presidential spokesman Waheed Omar said. "A prison break of this magnitude of course points to a vulnerability."

At least 480 inmates escaped from Sarposa, most of them Taliban fighters, according to the governor of Kandahar province. The Taliban said they had freed more than 500 of their fellow insurgents and that about 100 of them were commanders - four of them former provincial chiefs.

Government officials declined to provide details on any of the escaped inmates, including whether any of them are considered high-level commanders. The highest-profile Taliban inmates would likely not be held at Sarposa. The U.S. keeps detainees it considers a threat at a facility outside of Bagram Air Base in eastern Afghanistan. Other key Taliban prisoners are held by the Afghan government in a high-security wing of the main prison in Kabul.

As the massive jailbreak suggests, the Afghan government remains weak in the south despite an influx of international troops, funding and advisers. Kandahar city, in particular, has been a focus of the international effort to establish a strong Afghan government presence in former Taliban strongholds.

The 1,200-inmate Sarposa prison has been part of that plan. The facility underwent security upgrades and tightened procedures after a brazen 2008 Taliban attack that freed 900 prisoners. In that assault, dozens of militants on motorbikes and two suicide bombers attacked the prison. One suicide bomber set off an explosives-laden tanker truck at the prison gate while a second bomber blew open an escape route through a back wall.

Afghan government officials and their NATO backers have repeatedly asserted that the prison has vastly improved security since that attack.

There are guard towers at each corner of the prison compound, which is illuminated at night and protected by a ring of concrete barriers topped with razor wire. The entrance can only be reached by passing through multiple checkpoints and gates.

An Afghan government official familiar with Sarposa prison said that while the external security has been greatly improved, the internal controls were not as strong. He said the Taliban prisoners in Sarposa were very united and would rally together to make demands from their jailers for better treatment or more privileges. He spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

The prison break weakens the argument that international troops are making good progress in handing over more responsibility for security to Afghan forces, which will eventually enable the coalition to leave. President Barack Obama plans to start drawing down forces in July.

The Kandahar escape is the latest in a series of high-profile Taliban operations that show the insurgency is fighting back strongly against the surge of U.S. and NATO forces. Over the past year, tens of thousands of U.S. and NATO reinforcements routed the Taliban from many of their southern strongholds, captured leading figures and destroyed weapons caches.

The militants have responded with major attacks across the nation as the spring fighting season has kicked off. In the past two weeks, Taliban agents have launched attacks from inside the Defense Ministry, a Kandahar city police station and a shared Afghan-U.S. military base in the east. In neighboring Helmand province on Saturday, a gunman assassinated the former top civilian chief of Marjah district, where U.S. Marines started the renewed push into the south. The victim, Abdul Zahir, was also deputy of the provincial peace council.

Also on Saturday, a U.S. service member was killed in a bomb attack in southern Afghanistan, the American military said in a statement. It did not provide further details.

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Vogt reported from Kabul. Associated Press writers Amir Shah and Rahim Faiez contributed to this report from Kabul.

The Skanner Foundation's 38th Annual MLK Breakfast