06-15-2024  1:39 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

‘Feeling Our Age’: Oregon Artist Explores Aging Through Portraiture

64 women were painted and asked to reflect on lives well lived.

Off-Duty Guard Charged With Killing Seattle-Area Teen After Mistaking Toy for Gun, Authorities Say

Prosecutors charged 51-year-old Aaron Brown Myers on Monday in connection with the death of Hazrat Ali Rohani. Myers was also charged with assault after authorities say he held another teen at gunpoint. His attorney says Myers sincerely believed he was stopping a violent crime.

James Beard Finalists Include an East African Restaurant in Detroit and Seattle Pho Shops

The James Beards Awards are the culinary world's equivalent of the Oscars. For restaurants, even being named a finalist can bring wide recognition and boost business.

Ranked-Choice Voting Expert Grace Ramsey on What Portland Voters Can Expect in November

Ramsey has worked in several other states and cities to educate voters on new system of voting. 

NEWS BRIEFS

Montavilla Pool to Reopen in July After Mandatory Maintenance

The pool will open later this summer due to an upgrade to the pool’s plumbing that required a more complex solution to achieve...

Coalition of 43 AGs Reach $700 Million Nationwide Settlement With Johnson and Johnson Over Deceptive Marketing; Oregon to Receive $15 Million

Today, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and 42 other attorneys general announced they have reached a 0 million nationwide...

Juneteenth 2024 Events in Portland and Seattle

View events celebrating Juneteenth in the Portland and Seattle area ...

Kobi Flowers Crowned 2024 Rose Festival Queen

Flowers has been active in her school community as member of the leadership team at Self Enhancement, Inc., Varsity Cheer...

Summer Events are Shining Through at Multnomah County Library

Start your June by honoring Juneteenth, celebrating Pride and playing the Summer Reading game. ...

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people Friday after they were stuck for about half an hour dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park. Portland Fire and Rescue said on the social platform X that firefighters worked with engineers...

Washington's Makah Tribe could once again harpoon whales as US waives conservation law

SEATTLE (AP) — The United States granted the Makah Indian Tribe in Washington state a long-sought waiver Thursday that helps clear the way for its first sanctioned whale hunts since 1999 and sets the stage for renewed clashes with animal rights activists. The Makah, a tribe of 1,500...

Kansas lawmakers poised to lure Kansas City Chiefs from Missouri, despite economists' concerns

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 170-year-old rivalry is flaring up as Kansas lawmakers try to snatch the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs away from Missouri even though economists long ago concluded subsidizing pro sports isn't worth the cost. The Kansas Legislature's top leaders...

Josh Sargent out for Colombia friendly, could miss Copa America

McLEAN, Va. (AP) — United States forward Josh Sargent could miss Saturday's friendly against Colombia and could be dropped from the Copa America roster. A 24-year-old from O'Fallon, Missouri, Sargent scored 16 goals in 26 league games with Norwich in England's second-tier League...

OPINION

Supreme Court Says 'Yes” to Consumer Protection, "No" to Payday Lenders 7-2 Decision Upholds CFPB’s Funding

A recent 7-2 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court gave consumers a long-sought victory that ended more than a decade of challenges over the constitutionality of the agency created to be the nation’s financial cop on the beat. ...

The Skanner News May 2024 Primary Endorsements

Read The Skanner News endorsements and vote today. Candidates for mayor and city council will appear on the November general election ballot. ...

Nation’s Growing Racial and Gender Wealth Gaps Need Policy Reform

Never-married Black women have 8 cents in wealth for every dollar held by while males. ...

New White House Plan Could Reduce or Eliminate Accumulated Interest for 30 Million Student Loan Borrowers

Multiple recent announcements from the Biden administration offer new hope for the 43.2 million borrowers hoping to get relief from the onerous burden of a collective

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

South Africa's President Ramaphosa is reelected for second term after a dramatic late coalition deal

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was reelected by lawmakers for a second term on Friday, after his party struck a dramatic late coalition deal with a former political foe just hours before the vote. Ramaphosa, the leader of the African National...

A few midwives seek to uphold Native Hawaiian birth traditions. Would a state law jeopardize them?

HONOLULU (AP) — Ki‘inaniokalani Kahoʻohanohano longed for a deeper connection to her Native Hawaiian ancestors and culture as she prepared to give birth to her first child at home on the north shore of Maui in 2003. But generations of colonialist suppression had eroded many...

What we know about the fight between conspiracist Alex Jones and Sandy Hook families over his assets

HOUSTON (AP) — Bombastic conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been ordered to liquidate his personal assets as he owes jumi.5 billion for his false claims that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which killed 20 first graders and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut, was a hoax. ...

ENTERTAINMENT

Meet Will Butler, the singer-songwriter who makes Broadway's 'Stereophonic' rock

NEW YORK (AP) — The assignment was daunting: Write a song for an onstage moment of transcendence. Make it kind of funny and exciting and for a five-piece band. Write it so it justifies an audience sitting in their seats for two hours before they hear it. And, oh, it must plausibly be a rock hit...

Roger Daltrey talks new tour, thoughts on Broadway’s ‘Tommy’ and future of The Who

NEW YORK (AP) — As Roger Daltrey hits the road on a short solo tour this June, he’s unsure if fans will ever see another tour from The Who. “I don’t see it. I don’t know whether The Who’ll ever will go out again,” he told The Associated Press over Zoom. The...

Book Review: Yume Kitasei explores space in a heist-driven action adventure novel

Grad student Maya Hoshimoto is having a hard time settling down on Earth after a thrilling career as an art thief, stealing looted objects and returning them to their people. So when her best friend Auncle — an octopus-like being from another solar system — offers one last job, of course she...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Supreme Court strikes down Trump-era ban on rapid-fire rifle bump stocks, reopening political fight

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Friday struck down a Trump-era ban on bump stocks, the rapid-fire gun...

The Supreme Court's ruling on mifepristone isn't the last word on the abortion pill

The Supreme Court 's ruling on technical grounds Thursday keeps the abortion pill mifepristone available in the...

Some Mexican shelters see crowding south of the border as Biden's asylum ban takes hold

MATAMOROS, Mexico (AP) — Some shelters south of the U.S. border are caring for many more migrants now that the...

US Navy faces its most intense combat since World War II against Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels

ABOARD THE USS LABOON IN THE RED SEA (AP) — The U.S. Navy prepared for decades to potentially fight the Soviet...

A statement from Kate, Princess of Wales on her cancer treatment

LONDON (AP) — Kate, Princess of Wales, has given an update on her cancer treatment, saying she is making good...

Princess of Wales says she's making ‘good progress’ in cancer treatment, will attend a public event

LONDON (AP) — The Princess of Wales said Friday she is “making good progress” in her cancer treatment and...

Richard Lardner the Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. has lost billions of dollars to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan and stands to repeat that in future wars without big changes in how the government awards and manages contracts for battlefield support and reconstruction projects, independent investigators said Wednesday.

The Wartime Contracting Commission urged Congress and the Obama administration to quickly put in place its recommendations to overhaul the contracting process and increase accountability. The commission even suggested that the joint House-Senate debt reduction committee take a close look at the proposals.

"What you're asking for is more of the same," said Dov Zakheim, a commission member and the Pentagon comptroller during President George W. Bush's first term. "More waste. More fraud. More abuse."

The bipartisan commission, created by Congress in 2008, estimated that at least $31 billion and as much as $60 billion has been lost in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade due to lax oversight of contractors, poor planning, inadequate competition and corruption. "I personally believe that the number is much, much closer to $60 billion," Zakheim said.

Yet new legislation incorporating the changes could prove difficult with Republicans and Democrats divided over the best way to reduce the deficit.

Several of the proposals would require new spending, the commission acknowledged, and that would be a hard sell in an election year when reducing the size of government is a priority for many. Other proposals would cost little or simply require money to be shifted from one account to another, the panel said.

"If these recommendations are not implemented, there ought to be a Hall of Shame," said Michael Thibault, co-chairman of the commission. "There's an opportunity at hand."

The commission's 15 recommendations include creating an inspector general to monitor war zone contracting and operations, appointing a senior government official to improve planning and coordination among federal agencies, reducing the use of private security companies, and carefully monitoring contractor performance.

Massachusetts Rep. John Tierney, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform national security subcommittee, said Wednesday that the commission's findings are "alarming." Tierney said he plans to introduce legislation next week to create the inspector general's post.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., chairwoman of the Senate's contracting oversight subcommittee, said she plans to prepare legislation based upon the commission's recommendations.

The commission's report said contracting waste in Afghanistan and Iraq could grow as U.S. support for reconstruction projects and programs wanes. That would leave the countries to bear the long-term costs of sustaining the schools, medical clinics, barracks, roads and power plants already built with American money.

Overall, the commission said spending on contracts and grants to support U.S. operations is expected to exceed $206 billion by the end of the 2011 budget year. Based on its investigation, the commission said contracting waste in Afghanistan ranged from 10 percent to 20 percent of the $206 billion total. Fraud during the same period ran between 5 percent and 9 percent of the total, the report said. Fraud includes bribery, kickbacks, bid rigging and defective products, according to the commission.

"It is disgusting to think that nearly a third of the billions and billions we spent on contracting was wasted or used for fraud," McCaskill said.

Styled after the Truman Committee, which examined World War II spending six decades ago, the commission had broad authority to examine military support contracts, reconstruction projects and private security companies. But the law creating the commission set this September as the end of its work, even as contractors continue their heavy support of U.S. operations in the war zones.

Security, transportation, food preparation and delivery, and much more are now handled by the private sector. At the same time, the officials responsible for monitoring contractor performance have been overwhelmed by increasing reliance on private companies.

"We are far more reliant on contractors than we ever were," said commission member Charles Tiefer, a professor of government contracting at the University of Baltimore Law School. "We always bought munitions from them. But we didn't used to buy much in the way of services from them."

The commission cited numerous examples of waste, including a $360 million U.S.-financed agricultural development program in Afghanistan. The effort began as a $60 million project in 2009 to distribute vouchers for wheat seed and fertilizer in drought-stricken areas of northern Afghanistan. The program expanded into the south and east. Soon the U.S. was spending a $1 million a day on the program, creating an environment ripe for waste and abuse, the commission said.

"Paying villagers for what they used to do voluntarily destroyed local initiatives and diverted project goods into Pakistan for resale," the commission said.

The Afghan insurgency's second largest funding source after the illegal drug trade is the diversion of money from U.S.-backed construction projects and transportation contracts, according to the commission. But the report does not say how much money has been funneled to the insurgency. The money typically is lost when insurgents and warlords threaten Afghan subcontractors with violence unless they pay for protection, according to the report.

The Associated Press reported this month that U.S. military authorities in Kabul believe $360 million has ended up in the hands of the Taliban, criminals and power brokers with ties to both.

The military said only a small percentage of the $360 million has been garnered by the Taliban and insurgent groups. Most of the money was lost to profiteering, bribery and extortion by criminals and power brokers.

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Online:

Commission on Wartime Contracting: http://www.wartimecontracting.gov/

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The Skanner Foundation's 38th Annual MLK Breakfast