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Regional News Archives for 2012-02


Driver Faces Speeding Charges


A 19-year-old driver faces speeding charges, after authorities say he faked an emergency. Oregon State Police said 19-year-old Mohammed Aldhareri was clocked at 114 miles an hour Saturday on I-5 near Highway 217. Aldhareri claimed he was having a diabetic emergency, but paramedics disagreed.

 

 

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Klamath River Dam Removal Setback


Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Monday that he won't be able to meet next month's deadline for deciding whether to remove four dams on the Klamath River. Dam removal is part of the agreements signed in Salem two years ago to end a century of fighting over water in the Klamath basin. A bill authorizing Salazar to make the decision was introduced in Congress last year, but has not yet received a committee hearing. Salazar says that work will continue on scientific studies, as will efforts to get authorization through Congress.

 

 

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Tsunami Debris Headed for Oregon


Tsunamis generated by the magnitude 9 earthquake in Japan last March dragged 3-4 million tons of debris into the ocean. Scientists believe ocean currents are carrying some of the lumber, refrigerators, fishing boats and other objects across the Pacific toward the United States. Those scientists estimate up to 5% of the debris could begin arriving on the Oregon coast by early 2013. Nicholas Mallos, conservation biologist and marine debris specialist for The Ocean Conservancy, says the debris field is largely dispersed over a large area. He says the debris will likely spread as far north as Alaska and as far south as Oregon.

 

 

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Oregon a "Favorable" State


New data released by public policy polling shows there are more Americans who have a "favorable" view of Oregon than there are those who don't. The survey, which was taken earlier this month, shows 43% of those questioned across the nation have a favorable opinion of the beaver state, while 14% have an "unfavorable" view. 43% of those who responded to the telephone survey said they're "not sure." The poll shows Hawaii with the highest favorability rating and California with the lowest.

 

 

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Power Restored to Drifting Ship off Oregon Coast


The US Coast Guard says power has been restored on a container ship that was drifting without power off the Oregon Coast Southwest of the Columbia River mouth. The engine reportedly lost power Sunday morning about 12 miles from the river's entrance. Coast Guard officials say the vessel’s engineer restored power at about 3:30 PM. The ship was escorted to the river by a tug. Petty Officer Nate Littlejohn says no fuel was spilled in the incident.

 

 

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Beaverton Bank Robbery


Beaverton Police are searching for a man who allegedly robbed a bank of the west branch with a handgun. The robbery occurred just before noon on Thursday at the bank on SW Cedar Hills Boulevard. Police say the suspect took an undisclosed amount of cash and fled on foot. He is described as a white male in his 40’s or 50’s with a medium build.

 

 

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Washington State Contraceptive Ruling


A federal judge in Tacoma rules that pharmacies in Washington State can't be forced to stock and sell "plan b" contraceptives. The ruling by District Judge Ronald Leighton says the rules, which require the sale of such drugs even if storeowners or pharmacists believe it's a violation of their religious beliefs, are unconstitutional. Leighton has imposed an immediate injunction against the forced sale of the emergency contraceptives. The ruling is likely to be appealed.

 

 

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Salem Charter Setback


Officials with the Redmond Proficiency Academy say plans to open a Salem charter school will be shelved for a year after the arrest of director Michael Bremont. They say Bremont was a key part in getting approval from the Salem-Keizer school board to open a new charter school in that district. An article in The Bulletin says the Salem-Keizer district in January gave authorization to its staff to move forward with negotiations to open the charter school in the fall of 2012. Salem-Keizer district spokesman Jay Remy says they don’t believe anyone can be found quickly enough to take Bremont’s place in the development.

 

 

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Napoleon Come Home


Actor Jon Heder grew up in Salem, but never expected when he and his friends made a low budget movie called "Napoleon Dynamite," that it would catapult him to fame in Hollywood.  Heder's family still lives in Salem, so he has a chance to come home to visit at least once a year.  Fox has just turned Napoleon Dynamite into an animated series, and of course he's doing the voice of the title character.  The show airs Sundays.

 

 

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Oregon Supports Healthcare Reform


Oregon’s Attorney General is joining 11 states and Washington's Governor by filing arguments the National Health Care Reform is constitutional.  Tony Green in the Oregon A-G's Office says Governor Kitzhaber supports the decision.  While Washington Governor Gregoire also supports health care, Washington A-G Rob McKenna does not.  He's joining Attorneys General from 26 states to argue in opposition. The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments on March 11th.

 

 

 

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Hatfield Honored in Seante


There is a lot of dirt thrown about during a Presidential election year, so it was refreshing to hear the Oregon State Senate pay deserved praise to the late U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield.  Senator Betsy Johnson said Hatfield was successful.  Hatfield served Oregon for nearly 50 years.  He died last August.

 

 

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Ron Paul in Vancouver


Republican candidate for President Ron Paul stops in Vancouver, drawing hundreds of supporters to the Vancouver Hilton Convention Center.  During his speech, he said the U.S. must end the "war on drugs" because it's costly and limits the country abilities, and limits individual freedoms.  Paul was in Twin Falls, Idaho before visiting Vancouver.  A stop near Sea-Tac Airport also on the day's agenda.

 

 

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New Idea for Timber Payments


A new proposal from Oregon’s Congressional delegation aims to protect old growth while opening some protected federal timber land to logging, creating jobs in rural counties.  Congressman Peter DeFazio says the plan defines and protects old growth.  The Oregon delegation argues that Oregon’s rural counties' only chance of survival rests in smart use of natural resources.

 

 

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Child Abuse Bill Sails Through House


A bill designed to prevent a Penn State-style child abuse scandal from happening in Oregon is step closer to becoming law.  The Oregon State House today passed a bill expanding the list of people who are legally required to report suspected abuse that includes employees of all education facilities and youth serving organizations.  Democrat Sara Gelzer's bill does not include volunteers.  The bill moves on to the State Senate.

 

 

 
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Concealed Weapons Permit Bill in Legislature


Both Republicans and Democrats are backing a bill in the Oregon Legislature to restrict public access to concealed weapon permits. Democrat Margaret Doherty says it's wrong that someone with a permit can have their information exposed.  The permits can be released for criminal justice requests, court orders or if the holder allows it.   The House passed the bill and it moves to the Senate.

 

 

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Bully Bill Approved By Oregon Senate


The Oregon Senate approves a bill requiring school employees to report harassment, intimidation, and bullying including cyber bullying. Coos Bay Senator Joanne Verger pushed for the bill after hearing from a 15 year old girl tormented by cyber bullies. The bill now heads to the House.

 

 

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Washington State Tries To Stop Toll


A Washington State Senator tried but failed to give Clark County voters the power over the charging of tolls on the new Interstate Bridge.  Don Benton says they're already paying $100-million a year in income tax to the state of Oregon, and putting another $1200 in tolls is unfair.  His amendment never made it to the final bill, as other lawmakers said it would've jeopardized the new bridge.

 

 

 

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Tigard Man Reunited with Family After Detainment in Libya


A Tigard man is reunited with his family after being stuck in Libya for a month, his name on the international no-fly list. Jamal Tarhuni went to his native country to deliver supplies for Tigard-based Medical Teams International.  He believes he was detained and questioned by the FBI because of his Muslim faith.  Tarhuni says he was never told why he was detained and questioned.  The FBI and State Department have not commented on the situation.  Tarhuni's friend, Mustafu Elogbi is still in Libya.  He too was added to the no-fly list.  He hopes to be allowed to return to Portland on Sunday.

 

 

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Drug Testing Good Biz in Oregon


Drug testing is good business. In Oregon,  more than 2000 clinical trials are currently underway. Jeff Trewhit with the trade group “Pharma”says there are trials that are being sponsored by bio-pharmaceutical research companies like Eli Lily and Genentech. But the trials are  acturally beign conducted for the companies by local institutions, like OHSU. Trewhit says those trials brought more than $80-million into Oregon in 2008.

 

 

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Blumenauer Unhappy with GOP Plan


Oregon Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer is not happy with a Republican sponsored transportation spending plan.  The GOP plan would be funded by fees on increased oil drilling.  But, Blumenauer says, if such drilling did happen it would be 15 years in the future, long after the transportation trust fund was broke.

 

 

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Oregon Suing New York Bank


The State of Oregon is leading a security lawsuit against the Bank of New York Mellon.  Tony Green in the Attorney General's Office says the bank committed securities fraud and pocketed the profits.  He says that caused the State's investments in the bank to lose 41% of their value during a four year period.

 

 

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Public Group Feels Foreclosure Bill Did Not Go Far Enough


The new crackdown on five major banks over how they handled home mortgages will help homeowners.  But the deal does not protect those banks from further legal action. Matthew Orchant with the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group says practices that led to the housing bubble make it clear that tighter regulations are needed.

 

 

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Daniel Butts Pleads Not Guilty to 24 Counts


A man who faces 24 counts in connection with the fatal shooting of Rainier police chief Ralph Painter pleads not guilty to all charges. A judge recently ruled that Daniel Butts, 24,  is competent to stand trial for Painter's murder. Butts underwent mental evaluation after being disruptive during his initial arraignment a year ago. He is accused of shooting Painter with the chief's own gun during a struggle at a car stereo shop in Rainier in January 2011. A trial date has not been set.

 

 

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Trimet could increase fares to cover budget shortfall


Trimet officials propose an increase in fares and an end to the "free zone" in an effort to cover a 17-million-dollar budget shortfall. Trimet says those proposals, in conjunction with agency streamlining and layoffs, would balance the books. The agency also proposes eliminating the downtown free-ride zone for max light-rail passengers, a measure officials say would save about two-point-seven-million dollars. Public hearings on the proposals will be held.

 

 

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Too Much Power for the BPA


The Bonneville Power Administration can sometimes have too much power. When it happened last year they turned off the wind generators, those producers were not happy. Now the BPA has an idea; they will manage through over-supply conditions when they have a lot of runoff in the federal power system, and a lot of wind and just not enough demand for all the energy being produced.  The answer is to have all producers split the cost of compensating wind producers for lost revenue. A finalized plan goes to the feds in March.

 

 

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Improperly Distributes Funds Could Harm Schools


An Oregon state agency improperly distributed $76 million from an account that boosts school funding.  An audit report released Tuesday says the error is likely to decrease money available for schools in future years.  Auditors from the Secretary of State's Office blamed accounting procedures at the Department of State Lands for the error.  The Land Board is supposed to distribute earnings from the Common School Fund, but leave the principal untouched. Auditors found that the board distributed too much between 2001 and 2007, paying a portion of the principal in addition to the investment earnings.

 

 

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New Heart Valve Surgery in Oregon


It’s new hope for patients with heart conditions that are considered too vulnerable for open-heart surgery.  Dr. Todd Caulfield says Benjamine Wiener, 91, of Vancouver is recovering nicely. The procedure for now is targeted at elderly patients but the hope is to expand it to younger patients.

 

 

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Could Oregon's Economy Be Turning Around?


A good sign for Oregon’s economy: the Univeristy of Oregon Economic Index for December gained nearly a full percentage point. Tim Duy with the University of Oregon’s Economic Department  says manufacturing and services both showed growth. The State's declining unemployment rate is also a good sign, but, it's still high enough to be a drag on the economy. 

 

 

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Oregon's Hedgehog Predicts A Short Winter


Before we started celebrating Groundhog Day here in the U.S., “Hedgehog Day” was celebrated throughout Europe.  Today, at the Oregon Zoo, Jabari, the African pygmy hedgehog was pulled from his quiet box to determine if the duration of winter.  Zoo Director Kim Smith holds the little hedgehog while local grade school kids take turns petting his fuzzy back. She says Jabari predicted a short winter, because he did not see his shadow. Puxatawny Phil, on the other hand, projected a longer winter. Smith says Jabari has the better record for accuracy.  Watch the video on the Oregon Zoo's “You Tube” channel.

 

 

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Many State Workers Jobs Could Be Cut


Hundreds of State workers could be losing their jobs under a new bipartisan budget agreement.  Senator Richard Devlin says they're just trying to create a leaner operation by cutting middle management and public affairs positions.  The final budget must be approved by the House and Senate and be signed by the governor.  The plan could change after next week when lawmakers get an updated state revenue forecast.
 
 
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Washington Legalizes Same Sex Marriage


By a vote of 28-21, the Washington State Senate passes legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in the state.  The measure, which is supported by Governor Christine Gregoire, now moves on to the House, where it could go up for a vote as early as next week. The Senate passage of the bill puts Washington a step closer to becoming the seventh state to make gay marriage legal. Opponents have already said that, if the bill is enacted, they will put the issue before the State's voters.

 

 

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