04-21-2024  5:43 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Don’t Shoot Portland, University of Oregon Team Up for Black Narratives, Memory

The yearly Memory Work for Black Lives Plenary shows the power of preservation.

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.

NEWS BRIEFS

Governor Kotek Announces Chief of Staff, New Office Leadership

Governor expands executive team and names new Housing and Homelessness Initiative Director ...

Governor Kotek Announces Investment in New CHIPS Child Care Fund

5 Million dollars from Oregon CHIPS Act to be allocated to new Child Care Fund ...

Bank Announces 14th Annual “I Got Bank” Contest for Youth in Celebration of National Financial Literacy Month

The nation’s largest Black-owned bank will choose ten winners and award each a $1,000 savings account ...

Literary Arts Transforms Historic Central Eastside Building Into New Headquarters

The new 14,000-square-foot literary center will serve as a community and cultural hub with a bookstore, café, classroom, and event...

Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Announces New Partnership with the University of Oxford

Tony Bishop initiated the CBCF Alumni Scholarship to empower young Black scholars and dismantle financial barriers ...

Oregon lodge famously featured in 'The Shining' will reopen to guests after fire forced evacuations

GOVERNMENT CAMP, Ore. (AP) — Oregon's historic Timberline Lodge, which featured in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film “The Shining,” will reopen to guests Sunday after a fire that prompted evacuations but caused only minimal damage. The lodge said Saturday in a Facebook post that it...

Record numbers in the US are homeless. Can cities fine them for sleeping in parks and on sidewalks?

WASHINGTON (AP) — The most significant case in decades on homelessness has reached the Supreme Court as record numbers of people in America are without a permanent place to live. The justices on Monday will consider a challenge to rulings from a California-based appeals court that...

Two-time world champ J’den Cox retires at US Olympic wrestling trials; 44-year-old reaches finals

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — J’den Cox walked off the mat after dropping a 2-2 decision to Kollin Moore at the U.S. Olympic wrestling trials on Friday night, leaving his shoes behind to a standing ovation. The bronze medal winner at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 was beaten by...

University of Missouri plans 0 million renovation of Memorial Stadium

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The University of Missouri is planning a 0 million renovation of Memorial Stadium. The Memorial Stadium Improvements Project, expected to be completed by the 2026 season, will further enclose the north end of the stadium and add a variety of new premium...

OPINION

Op-Ed: Why MAGA Policies Are Detrimental to Black Communities

NNPA NEWSWIRE – MAGA proponents peddle baseless claims of widespread voter fraud to justify voter suppression tactics that disproportionately target Black voters. From restrictive voter ID laws to purging voter rolls to limiting early voting hours, these...

Loving and Embracing the Differences in Our Youngest Learners

Yet our responsibility to all parents and society at large means we must do more to share insights, especially with underserved and under-resourced communities. ...

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. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Councilwoman chosen as new Fort Wayne mayor, its 1st Black leader, in caucus to replace late mayor

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — A Fort Wayne city councilwoman was chosen Saturday as the new mayor of Indiana’s second most populous city, and its first Black leader, during a caucus to replace its late mayor, who died in March. Councilwoman Sharon Tucker, a Democrat, will also become...

The drug war devastated Black and other minority communities. Is marijuana legalization helping?

ARLINGTON, Wash. (AP) — When Washington state opened some of the nation's first legal marijuana stores in 2014, Sam Ward Jr. was on electronic home detention in Spokane, where he had been indicted on federal drug charges. He would soon be off to prison to serve the lion's share of a four-year...

Lawsuits under New York's new voting rights law reveal racial disenfranchisement even in blue states

FREEPORT, N.Y. (AP) — Weihua Yan had seen dramatic demographic changes since moving to Long Island's Nassau County. Its Asian American population alone had grown by 60% since the 2010 census. Why then, he wondered, did he not see anyone who looked like him on the county's local...

ENTERTAINMENT

Celebrity birthdays for the week of April 21-27

Celebrity birthdays for the week of April 21-27: April 21: Actor Elaine May is 92. Singer Iggy Pop is 77. Actor Patti LuPone is 75. Actor Tony Danza is 73. Actor James Morrison (“24”) is 70. Actor Andie MacDowell is 66. Singer Robert Smith of The Cure is 65. Guitarist Michael...

What to stream this weekend: Conan O’Brien travels, 'Migration' soars and Taylor Swift reigns

Zack Snyder’s “Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver” landing on Netflix and Taylor Swift’s “The Tortured Poets Department” album are some of the new television, movies, music and games headed to a device near you. Also among the streaming offerings worth your time as...

Music Review: Jazz pianist Fred Hersch creates subdued, lovely colors on 'Silent, Listening'

Jazz pianist Fred Hersch fully embraces the freedom that comes with improvisation on his solo album “Silent, Listening,” spontaneously composing and performing tunes that are often without melody, meter or form. Listening to them can be challenging and rewarding. The many-time...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

2 killed and 6 injured in shooting at Memphis park party, police say

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Eight people were shot including two men who were killed at an unsanctioned public party...

Autoworkers union celebrates breakthrough win in Tennessee and takes aim at more plants in the South

DALLAS (AP) — The United Auto Workers' overwhelming election victory at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee is...

Marijuana grow busted in Maine as feds investigate trend in 20 states

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The high electricity consumption of a home, its cardboard-covered windows and odor of...

At least 20 dead after a ferry sinks in Central African Republic, witnesses say

BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — At least 20 people have drowned in Central African Republic after a...

Pakistani province issues a flood alert and warns of a heavy loss of life from glacial melting

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A Pakistani province has issued a flood alert because of glacial melting and warned of...

The US military will begin plans to withdraw troops from Niger

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — The United States will begin plans to withdraw troops from Niger, U.S. officials said...

code-breaking machine Bletchley Park
By Charlotte Lytton CNN

"This is Norway checker," echoed the voice through the scrambler. "I have a good stop for you in Stavanger."

Nobody on the outside world could have known what she meant.

But inside Bletchley Park, a World War II code-breaking enclave in the English countryside of Buckinghamshire, 18-year-old Ruth Bourne had discovered a vital piece of intelligence.

Working alongside thousands of other women to decipher encoded German signals sent between Nazi generals, Bourne's discovery meant passing on the information to her superiors to assess whether this was another piece of the decryption puzzle.

With every room named after a country that had been toppled by the Nazis, and each machine christened as one of its towns, Bletchley Park's simple yet effective checking system proved crucial in the defeat of Hitler's regime.

A culture of secrecy

Far from being a group of experienced decoders, however, the estate's recruits mainly consisted of young teenage military personnel, a smattering of crossword whizzes who had been able to complete The Daily Telegraph's puzzle in less than 12 minutes, and numerous 18-year-old girls plucked from their quiet home towns.

"It was the middle of the war when I received a call saying I was to go into war work to support Britain's efforts from home," explains 88-year-old Margaret Bullen, a machine wire operator who served from 1942 until the end of the war.

"A letter from the Foreign Office then arrived saying I had an interview -- but I had no idea what it was for, and two weeks later, I was told I'd be off to Bletchley."

"Before starting work we were told to sign the Official Secrets Act, which was a rather frightening experience for someone as young and naive as I was," says 90-year-old Becky Webb, who joined the war effort at age 18 in 1941. "I had no idea how I'd comply with it!"

But compliance was the only option, making these three young women -- Webb, Bullen and Bourne -- fierce guards of the country's anonymous decoding history for several decades.

Indeed, it wasn't until some thirty years later that Bletchley's long maintained shroud of secrecy began to lift, after the publication of "The Ultra Secret" -- a tell all book from former RAF officer Frederick W. Winterbotham, who later became an Ultra supervisor.

The 1974 expose revealed how Ultra intelligence had been used to intercept communication behind enemy lines and disseminate vital information to Britain and its allies. Though Winterbotham was accused of embellishing and aggrandizing his role in the tale, without his account, the real story of what went on inside the UK's code-breaking operation may never have been known.

"It sounds strange that we knew so little about what was going on, but that was how it was," reflects Bullen.

"I was sent to live with a couple who were ordered to take me in because of the war. They never once asked me what I was doing there--nobody did--not even the local village workers who'd serve us coffee at the café on our lunch break, in spite of the fact a group of 18-year-olds had suddenly arrived in this little hamlet," she explains.

"I only heard the name Colossus--the machine I was working on--some three decades after the war ended, and it wasn't until I later visited Bletchley Park that I said: 'this is where I worked, this is what I did!'"

While Winterbotham's revelations sent shock waves through the secretive decryption community, lifting the lid on what really happened inside the park ensued slowly and sporadically, with the bulk of the information being released in the early 2000s.

"I'm delighted that we can discuss our time there now that everything has come out, and I give talks on the subject whenever I'm asked," enthuses Webb. "I've given 97 to date!"

Silent heroines

For many of the young women at Bletchley, though, the removal of the clandestine veil came too late, with the majority of workers' parents having passed away before the decryption effort became public knowledge.

Bourne, an 18-year-old naval recruit who was sent to one of the park's expansion locations in Eastcote -- on the outskirts of London -- was one of many who was never able to tell her loved ones about her contribution to the war.

"You led two lives there," she recalls. "One life was in A Block, where you ate in the canteen, and talked about boyfriends, and getting trains to London, and where to find black nylon stockings."

"B Block was where we worked, surrounded by high walls, barbed wire and two naval marines guarding the place. If you could make your voice heard over the noise of 12 Turing Bombe machines, that was the only time you would speak about work -- but you never would," she explains. "I never knew what any of my coworkers were doing, and vice versa, and my parents never knew a thing of it."

After the Nazi regime fell in 1945, many of Bletchley's women returned home, while others stayed involved with the military's work. Bourne was given work as a wire destroyer: desoldering the many cables that had been painstakingly connected during intelligence operations throughout the war, while Webb was sent to the Pentagon to paraphrase translated Japanese messages for transmission to officials.

"Upon leaving Bletchley, we really had no skills whatsoever," remembers Bourne. "Apart from how to keep a secret!"

And that secret was very nearly never told, especially after the original estate was due to be knocked down some 23 years ago, with houses and a supermarket planned to be built in its place.

Preserving Bletchley

It was in May of 1991that Bletchley's fortunes changed, after a small local committee gathered a group of veterans at the park to say a final farewell to the historic location.

But the group became determined to turn it into a heritage site after hearing the astounding stories of so many code-breakers, engineers and members of the Women's Royal Naval Service (WREN) who worked at the park during the war.

The Bletchley Park Trust was formed the following year, and from then on, regular reunions and exhibitions at the estate have enabled its former workers and inhabitants to share stories that were on the precipice of being lost forever.

Winterbotham's book might have been the first time that story of the World War II code-breakers entered the realm of popular culture, but it certainly wasn't the last, with TV drama "The Bletchley Circle" proving popular in both the UK and United States earlier this year.

With a second series on its way, and exhibitions at the Trust attracting visitors from around the globe, the world's fascination with the once elusive Bletchley Park shows no sign of slowing.

The culture of secrecy that once threatened Bletchley from being all but erased from the history books has well and truly ended.

The Skanner Foundation's 38th Annual MLK Breakfast