05-29-2024  11:20 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade Grand Marshal is Greg McKelvey

McKelvey is the band director at Battle Ground High School

New Police Oversight Board Still On Track Despite Challenges, A Trip to Court

But advisory committee members say they’re left in the dark about the progress of city code they helped form.

Oregon 2024 Primary Results

Maxine Dexter, Janelle Bynum, Dan Reyfield and Elizabeth Steiner secure nominations; other races too soon to call.

AP Decision Notes: What to Expect in Oregon's Primaries

Oregon has multiple hotly contested primaries upcoming, as well as some that will set the stage for high-profile races in November. Oregon's 5th Congressional District is home to one of the top Democratic primaries in the country.

NEWS BRIEFS

First Meeting of Transportation Committee Statewide Tour to be at Portland Community College

The public is invited to testify at the Portland meeting of the 12-stop Transportation Safety and Sustainability Outreach Tour ...

Forest Service Waives Recreation Fee for National Get Outdoors Day

National Get Outdoors Day aims to connect Americans with the great outdoors and inspire them to lead healthy, active lifestyles. By...

Acclaimed Portland Author Renée Watson Presents: I See My Light Shining

The event will feature listening stations with excerpts from the digital collection of oral testimonies from extraordinary elders from...

Portland Parks & Recreation’s Summer Free For All Returns for 2024

Parks Local Option Levy brings the city a full slate of free movies, concerts (including pop icon Sheila E), Free Lunch + Play, the...

GFO Library Open on Memorial Day

We are remaining open to give our patrons an opportunity to use the library on a day off from work. ...

A driver with an Oregon-based medical care nonprofit is fatally shot in Ethiopia while in a convoy

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A staff member with an Oregon medical care nonprofit was killed when the team he was traveling with in a convoy was fired upon in Ethiopia, officials said Monday. Mustefa Alkisim was a Medical Teams International driver traveling in the insecure Amhara region...

Oregon wineries and vineyards seek 0 million from PacifiCorp for wildfire smoke damage to grapes

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Dozens of Oregon wineries and vineyards have sued PacifiCorp over the deadly 2020 wildfires that ravaged the state, alleging that the utility's decision to not turn off power during the Labor Day windstorm contributed to blazes whose smoke and soot damaged their grapes and...

Duke tops Missouri 4-3 in 9 innings to win first super regional, qualify for first WCWS

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — D'Auna Jennings led off the top of the ninth inning with a home run to end a scoreless pitching duel between Cassidy Curd and Missouri's Laurin Krings and 10th-seeded Duke held on for a wild 4-3 victory over the seventh-seeded Tigers on Sunday in the finale of the...

Mizzou uses combined 2-hitter to beat Duke 3-1 to force decisive game in Columbia Super Regional

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Laurin Krings and two relievers combined on a two-hitter and seventh-seeded Missouri forced a deciding game in the Columbia Super Regional with a 3-1 win over Duke on Saturday. The Tigers (48-17) had three-straight singles in the fourth inning, with Abby Hay...

OPINION

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

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...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Major leaguers praise inclusion of Negro Leagues statistics into major league records

CHICAGO (AP) — Buck Leonard. Charlie “Chino” Smith. Turkey Stearnes. Baseball players and fans alike are learning more about the Negro Leagues after the statistics for more than 2,300 players — historic figures like Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, Satchel Paige and Mule Suttles...

Career and season MLB records that changed following the addition of Negro Leagues statistics

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball said Tuesday that it has incorporated records for more than 2,300 Negro Leagues players following a three-year research project. Players like Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston and Satchel Paige now hold significant standing on MLB's career and season...

Josh Gibson becomes MLB career and season batting leader as Negro Leagues statistics incorporated

NEW YORK (AP) — Josh Gibson became Major League Baseball’s career leader with a .372 batting average, surpassing Ty Cobb’s .367, when Negro Leagues records for more than 2,300 players were incorporated Tuesday after a three-year research project. Gibson’s .466 average for the...

ENTERTAINMENT

With a new War Rig and a fleet of motorbikes, 'Furiosa' restarts the motorized mayhem of 'Mad Max'

NEW YORK (AP) — When it was time to start making “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” production designer Colin Gibson went to a garage in Australia to find some old friends. It had been years since 2015’s “Fury Road” wrapped production. Many of the vehicles seen in the film had...

The Beach Boys, going into the sunset, look back on years of harmony and heartache in documentary

Both the Beach Boys and “The Beach Boys” — the new documentary dropping Friday on Disney+ — are all about blending a range of voices. The three Wilson brothers — Brian, Carl and Dennis — along with cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine, brought a harmonic revolution to...

Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, who skewered fast food industry, dies at 53

NEW YORK (AP) — Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, an Oscar nominee whose most famous works skewered America's food industry and who notably ate only at McDonald’s for a month to illustrate the dangers of a fast-food diet, has died. He was 53. Spurlock died Thursday in New...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Key Republican calls for 'generational' increase in defense spending to counter US adversaries

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top-ranking Republican on a Senate committee that oversees the military is calling for a...

Inflation pressures lingering from pandemic are keeping Fed rate cuts on pause

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hopes for interest rate cuts this year by the Federal Reserve are steadily fading, with a...

What you will and won't see from June's planetary parade

DALLAS (AP) — Six planets will link up before dawn on June 3 in what’s known as a planetary parade. But the...

Police search the European Parliament over suspected Russian interference, prosecutors say

BRUSSELS (AP) — Police searched the offices and residence of an employee of the European Parliament on Wednesday...

Haiti's new prime minister vows unity in first statement since being selected

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Haiti's newly chosen Prime Minister Garry Conille vowed to seek unity Wednesday in...

A Jewish veteran from London prepares to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings

LONDON (AP) — Even as he prepared to embark for the battlefields of Normandy, Pvt. Mervyn Kersh was summoned by...

Ted Anthony AP National Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Before the towers crumbled, before the doomed people jumped and the smoke billowed and the planes hit, the collective American memory summoned one fleeting fragment of beauty: a clear blue sky.

So many of those who remember that day invoke that detail. Last week, New York magazine, which has been running a 9/11 "encyclopedia" ahead of the 10th anniversary, added an entry for "Blue: What everyone would remember first." It chronicled nearly a dozen of the ways that Americans recalling 9/11 anchor their looks back with a reminiscence of blue sky.

No coincidence that the power of such an image endures. Blue sky is a canvas of possibility, and optimistic notions of better tomorrows - futures that deliver endless promise - are fundamental to the American tradition. In the United States, to "blue-sky" something can mean visionary, fanciful thinking unbound by the weedy entanglements of the moment. Off we go into the wild blue yonder.

But the years since 9/11 have dealt a gut punch to four centuries of American optimism. A volley of cataclysmic events - two far-off wars, Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath and, for the past four years, serious economic downturn - has worn down the national psyche. It's easy to ask: Is optimism, one of the defining pillars of the American character, on the wane?

"Some of the really big challenges we are facing are really starting to sink in with people," says Jason Seacat, who teaches about the psychology of optimism and hope at Western New England University. "You talk about that can-do spirit that used to exist, and it still can exist. But what I get a lot of is, `This is such a huge problem, and there's really nothing I can do about it.'"

Welcome to the rest of the human race, some might say. Europeans, who can enjoy their fatalism, have been known to poke fun at American optimism. And why not? You could argue that the virus of optimism was spread to this continent by supplicants beguiled by the vision of a land that promised brighter futures - presuming you left the Old World to pursue them.

Since the 1600s, when one of America's first Puritan leaders cast the society that would become the United States as a "shining city upon a hill," the notion that one can will a better future into existence has been a central thread of the American story. The Declaration of Independence enshrined as national mythology not happiness itself, but the pursuit of it - the chasing of a dream alongside life and liberty as the ultimate expression of self-definition.

It took root. This became the nation where getting bigger and better was a right granted by God, where the Optimists Club was founded and "The Power of Positive Thinking" became a bestseller, where you could bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there'll be sun. "Finish each day and be done with it," American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson exhorted. "Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."

Old nonsense, alas, has a way of loitering around and gumming up the works.

Last year, as we began a new decade, a Gallup poll found that 34 percent of Americans were pessimistic about the country's future - the highest number at the start of a decade since the 1980s began. Numbers from Gallup's Economic Confidence Index late last month were the lowest since March 2009. Most tellingly, perhaps, a majority of Americans - 55 percent - said this year they found it unlikely that today's youth will have better lives than their parents.

More anecdotally, when was the last time that popular culture produced a strong vision of an optimistic American future? We got those all the time in the mid-20th century, era of the World's Fair "Futurama" and promises of jet-packing your way to the office in the morning. But the Jetsonian view of tomorrow has become quaint, and today forlorn narratives like "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," the zombie apocalypse drama "The Walking Dead" and Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" dominate the American futurescape.

In the weeks directly after 9/11, optimism seemed on the rise for a time. The trumpet had summoned us again, and some people expressed a renewed sense of purpose. A high-stakes seriousness settled in. We spun tales of freshly minted heroes, gave blood, held benefits, told each other that hey, don't worry, things will get better. A national coming together and the accompanying resoluteness were, it seemed, feeding hope.

"In an odd way, for all its tragedy, 9/11 reinvigorated the sources of American optimism at a very particular time," says Peter J. Kastor, a historian at Washington University in St. Louis. "The problem now is recapturing that."

Today, politicians struggle to project the all-important optimistic outlook that will help them win elections and govern a cranky citizenry. Yet optimism is a must-have narrative for any politician looking to lead. And the most effective among them - the Roosevelts, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan - have built their images around optimism. "Morning in America," Reagan called it.

Political consultant Bob Shrum, who wrote Ted Kennedy's famous and optimistic speech at the 1980 Democratic National Convention ("The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die"), says successful politicians deploy optimism as a tool to "expand America's vision of itself." The ones who endure, he says, "are people who help define and enlarge the American spirit."

The "Audacity of Hope" president used the meme Thursday night in his jobs speech to Congress after cataloguing employment problems and putting forward his solutions. "We are tougher than the times that we live in, and we are bigger than our politics have been," Barack Obama said. "So let's meet the moment. Let's get to work, and let's show the world once again why the United States of America remains the greatest nation on Earth."

Not everyone finds salvation in positive thinking. The cultural critic Barbara Ehrenreich wrote an entire book in 2009 on the country's excessive optimism. In "Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America," she assessed it this way: "Positivity is not so much our condition or our mood as it is part of our ideology - the way we explain the world and think we ought to function within it."

Ehrenreich identified an important point: There is a big difference between unfettered hope and the American brand of optimism. Hope, she asserts, is an emotion; optimism is "a cognitive stance, a conscious expectation."

And what, after all, is more American than a conscious, supremely confident expectation that things will turn out OK? That if we visualize the future, and are simply American enough as we forge forward, bright tomorrows will happen.

That may be the central challenge for American optimism at the dawn of the second decade after 9/11: figuring out how much of the dream should be about the clear blue sky, and how much should be about wrestling with the problems that percolate beneath it. A balance, in effect, between the promise of our tomorrows and the reality of our todays.

It's not like the future is going anywhere, though. It's been our comforting companion for too long, and blue-sky dreams have a way of clawing to the top of any American story. Even after 9/11 and the uneasy decade that followed it tested the optimism of so many, that's the thing about tomorrow: No matter what, it's still always a day away.

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EDITOR'S NOTE - Ted Anthony, assistant managing editor for The Associated Press, writes frequently about American culture. He covered the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001-2003. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/anthonyted

The Skanner Foundation's 38th Annual MLK Breakfast