04-14-2024  8:59 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

AI-generated models could bring more diversity to the fashion 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...

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...

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 models could bring more diversity to the fashion 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...

Kathy Gannon and Anne Gearan of the Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Infuriated that Washington met secretly at least three times with a personal emissary of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Afghan government intentionally leaked details of the clandestine meetings, scuttling the talks and sending the Taliban intermediary into hiding, The Associated Press has learned.

In a series of interviews with diplomats, current and former Taliban, Afghan government officials and a close childhood friend of the intermediary, Tayyab Aga, the AP learned Aga is hiding in Europe, and is afraid to return to Pakistan because of fears of reprisals. The United States has had no direct contact with him for months. The Skanner News Video: US troops in action

A senior U.S. official acknowledged that the talks imploded because of the leak and that Aga, while alive, had disappeared. The United States will continue to pursue talks, the official said. Current and former U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the talks.

The United States acknowledged the talks after Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who apparently fears being sidelined by U.S.-Taliban talks, confirmed published accounts about them in June, but has never publicly detailed the content, format or participants. The first was held in late 2010 followed by at least two other meetings in early spring of this year, the former U.S. official said. The sessions were held in Germany and Qatar, he said.

A childhood friend of Aga's who spoke to the AP on condition he not be identified because he feared retaliation, said Aga was in Germany. A diplomat in the region said Aga fled to a European country after his contacts with the United States were revealed.

Collapse of the direct talks between Aga and U.S. officials probably spoiled the best chance yet at reaching Omar, considered the linchpin to ending the Taliban fight against the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan. The contacts were preliminary but had begun to bear fruit, Afghan and U.S. officials said.

Perhaps most importantly they offered the tantalizing prospect of a brokered agreement between the United States and the Taliban - one that would allow the larger reconciliation of the Taliban into Afghanistan political life to move forward. The United States has not committed to any such deal, but the Taliban wants security assurances from the United States.

The talks were deliberately revealed by someone within the presidential palace, where Karzai's office is located, said a Western and an Afghan official. The reason for the leak was Karzai's animosity toward the U.S. and fear that any agreement Washington brokered would undermine his authority, they said.

The AP sought comment from Karzai's office but was referred to palace press department spokesman Hamid Elmi, who did not answer his phone during repeated calls.

Pakistan had also been kept in the dark about the talks, people knowledgeable about them said. An Afghan official with contacts with the Taliban said the insurgents decided not to tell Pakistan about the meetings with the United States.

At the time of the leak, Washington had already offered small concessions that the U.S. intended as "confidence-building measures," a former senior U.S. official said. They were aimed at developing a rapport and moving talks forward, said a current U.S. official on condition he not be identified because of the sensitivity of the topic.

The concessions included treating the Taliban and al-Qaida differently under international sanctions. The Taliban argued that while al-Qaida is focused on worldwide jihad against the West, Taliban militants have focused on Afghanistan and have shown little interest in attacking targets abroad.

Other goodwill gestures that were not made public included Aga's safe passage to Germany, U.S. officials said. The U.S. also offered assurances that it would not block the Taliban from opening an office in a third country, the official said.

Aga slowly established his bona fides with the U.S. officials, who had initial doubts both about his identity and his level of contact and influence with Omar, a former and current U.S. official with knowledge of the discussion said. For example, a coded reference to the talks appeared on a Taliban-affiliated website following one meeting, just as Aga said it would, one official said.

The whereabouts and eventual release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho, who was captured more than two years ago in eastern Afghanistan, featured prominently in the talks, according to Aga's childhood friend and a senior Western diplomat in the region. The U.S. negotiators asked Aga what could be done to gain Bergdahl's release.

Aga sought the freedom of Taliban fighters in U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay and Bagram Air Field, north of the Afghan capital where an estimated 600 Afghans are being held. Still at Guantanamo Bay is former Taliban Defense Ministry Chief of Staff Mullah Mohammed Fazil, Taliban intelligence official Abdul Haq Wasiq and former Herat governor Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa. Afghanistan's High Peace Council tasked by Karzai with the job of finding a negotiated settlement with insurgents has requested Khairkhwa's release.

A former U.S. official familiar with the talks said the loss of the Aga contact dismayed and angered the U.S. side, and further eroded thin trust in Karzai. There is a difference of opinion among U.S. diplomats, military officials and others about how directly Karzai should be blamed, but several officials agreed that the leak was an attempt to torpedo a diplomatic channel that Karzai and his inner circle worried would sideline and undercut the Afghan leader.

As the Afghan war slides into its 10th year and Washington plans to withdraw its combat forces by the end of 2014, a negotiated settlement between the Karzai government and the Taliban has become a stated goal for the United States. It is the centerpiece of efforts by Marc Grossman, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Karzai has launched a separate peace outreach, with the High Peace Council representing numerous political factions.

A member of that High Peace Council, who asked not to be identified by name so he could talk candidly, told the AP that the leaking of the talks reveals the level of mistrust and the lack of coordination among the key players in any eventual peace deal.

He said all the key players - the United States, Afghan government, Afghan National Security Council and the High Peace Council - are holding separate and secret talks with their own contacts within the insurgency.

The United States, for example, has also held secret talks with Ibrahim Haqqani, the brother of Jalaluddin Haqqani, who heads the notorious Haqqani network considered by U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan to be their biggest threat. That contact was confirmed by officials from Pakistan, Afghanistan and the U.S.

Karzai met with representatives of wanted rebel leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who is seeking greater involvement at the peace table and direct talks with the United States, said diplomats in the region.

The flurry of meetings the United States is holding with the various factions in the Afghan conflict has also extended to Pakistan, where the most powerful insurgents have found safe havens.

A month ago, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry and Pakistan's Army chief of staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani met for a marathon eight hours in a Gulf country. Peace negotiations with Afghanistan's insurgents featured prominently, said both Pakistani and U.S. officials who would not be identified by name because of the secret nature of the meeting.

A U.S. official familiar with the talks said Kayani made a pitch during his marathon meeting with Kerry that Pakistan take on a far larger role in Afghanistan peacemaking. The United States considers Pakistan an essential part of an eventual deal, but neither the U.S. nor Pakistan trusts the other's motives in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, an unexpected consequence of attempts to find peace with the Taliban has been the rearming of the so-called Northern Alliance, that represents Afghanistan's ethnic minorities and who were partnered with the coalition at the outset of Operation Enduring Freedom to topple the Taliban regime.

For the warlords that make up the Northern Alliance, Martine van Bijlert, co-director and co-founder of the Afghan Analyst Network in the capital, Kabul, talk of peace threatens their survival.

Warlords-cum-government ministers and vice presidents are watching attempts at finding a peaceful end to the war with trepidation, each wondering "what if it unravels, who is going to come after me? Will I be the weakest in the room? They are feeling very vulnerable."

Gearan, AP National Security Writer, reported from Washington. Kathy Gannon is AP Special Regional Correspondent for Afghanistan and Pakistan. She can be followed on http://www.twitter.com/kathygannon

The Skanner Foundation's 38th Annual MLK Breakfast