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Evening Update from MPR News

1 hour ago

Minnesota news for October 17, 2017

Copyright 2017 MPR News. To see more, visit MPR News.

Deadly wildfires ravage Portugal and Spain

1 hour ago
Miguel Vidal/Reuters

On Sunday night, Rafael Kotcherha Campora posted a series of alarming status updates on Facebook:


Kotcherha Campora was staying at his partner's farm in Galicia, Spain, when he spotted a fire on the horizon. Soon, the winds began to whip up, "and the smoke started tunneling down in all directions," he recalls. "The smoke was so dense that we literally couldn't breathe anymore."

US Air Force/Courtesy of Blaine Harden 

The shelling started on Sunday morning, before sunrise. It was June 25, 1950. A couple of hours later, dozens of Soviet-made, state-of-the-art battle tanks from the Korean People’s Army — along with about 90,000 troops — began moving across the 38th parallel to attack South Korea. 

Suddenly, the Cold War had turned into a full-blown shooting war. 

A day later, from his base in Tokyo, General Douglas MacArthur sent a bleak assessment of the situation in Korea back to Washington. 

“Complete collapse is imminent,” MacArthur told the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

Erik De Castro/Reuters

As they surrendered the city of Raqqa today, ISIS militants climbed onto 30 buses and 10 trucks for the ride out of town. 

Some fighters even stopped to snap a couple of parting photos.

Then the extremists abandoned the city they'd considered the capital of their so-called caliphate. US-backed Kurdish and Arab militias now say they're "fully in control."

"There were big celebrations in the center of Raqqa where ISIS used to carry out executions," says The World's Rich Hall from his base in Beirut. "It's a very symbolic defeat for ISIS."

Modern shipping containers are a bit like Legos — you can take them off a ship and snap them perfectly onto a truck or train. This relatively simple innovation, which started in the 1950s, has allowed global trade to go gangbusters.   

“In was in 1992 when 100 million containers moved through all the world’s ports, then in 1998, we went to 200 million,” said Stephen Flynn, founding director of the Global Resilience Institute at Northeastern University in Boston. “Roughly we’re at a little over 600 million today.

Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters

The Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk has been under Kurdish control for several years. On Monday, Iraqi soldiers reclaimed it for Baghdad, and that's a big deal.

"It is a different Iraq today than it was two days ago," says journalist Ben Van Heuvelen.

"It's a paradigm shift in Iraq akin to what happened in 2014 when ISIS came in," he says. "The territorial boundaries between the Kurdistan region and the federal government have been redrawn, and the control of northern Iraqi oil resources has shifted." 

Google’s latest Doodle pays tribute to the late Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla-Perez, whose debut album was released Oct. 17, 1989.

The project was pitched by Perla Campos, a Granbury native and the global marketing lead for Google Doodle. She says it was important for her to see Latino culture represented on the front page.

“I’ve never seen myself on the Google homepage, and I think that’s so important for so many people,” Campos said.

Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Three weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, we’ve seen images of the destruction and heard stories about the lack of electricity and basic supplies like food and water in some areas.

But the main way we measure — and understand — the scope of any disaster is through the death toll.

The official count is now 48 deaths. But the news site Vox thought that number seemed off.

From Texas Standard.

In 2014, the Obama administration secured the release of Bowe Bergdahl from captivity in Afghanistan by agreeing to release five Taliban prisoners being held at Guantanamo. At first, Bergdahl’s homecoming was celebrated as a hero’s return. What most Americans didn’t know at the time was that, back in 2009, Bergdahl had deserted his post in Afghanistan before he disappeared. He spent five years as a captive of the Taliban.

A federal grand jury has indicted a Chinese national for allegedly distributing the powerful opioid fentanyl, which federal prosecutors say led to four overdoses in Oregon, including one fatality.

The prosecution is part of a larger international drug case involving individuals in Florida, New Jersey, China and Canada, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

So far, 21 people have been indicted on federal drug charges in North Dakota and Oregon.

From Texas Standard.

It’s mid-October and kids in Port Aransas are finally going back to school in their own community. Classrooms have been closed in the Gulf Coast town since Harvey made landfall. Though Port Aransas Independent School District finally opened its doors, not all of the classrooms are quite where they need to be.

Federal regulators are calling for stricter requirements to fly hot air balloons after a crash near Lockhart last year that killed all 16 people aboard.

The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday released findings and recommendations of its investigation into the July 30 accident in which a balloon operated by the Heart of Texas Balloon Ride company struck high-voltage power lines about 30 miles south of Austin.

A Major League Soccer team could be on its way to Austin. Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt announced this morning that he plans to pursue the move if a deal for a new stadium in downtown Columbus doesn’t pan out.

"It's one of our nation's great cities in terms of culture, as an entertainment capital," he said. "We believe Austin is the most attractive untapped market for Major League Soccer in the country."

Violet Law/PRI

It’s been 10 years since Anna Takada was in sixth grade, but she still remembers her history class. The World War II imprisonment of her grandfather and nearly 120,000 others with Japanese heritage merited only a few lines in her textbook. And at school, her teacher skipped over those lines.

“I remember being shocked and hurt how it was glossed over,” Takada, 25, says.

At home, her father, who was born in Chicago where his family resettled after incarceration, told Takada not to ask her grandfather about that time in their family’s history, either. And she didn't. 


As the cannabis industry expands in Oregon, more people are paying attention to the environmental impact of its cultivation, like energy and water use. We speak with Jesce Horton, the owner of Panacea Valley Gardens and a board member for Oregon’s Resource Innovation Institute, about moves towards environmental sustainability in Oregon's cannabis industry.


Justin Novicky strolled up and down the rows of his greenhouse on a recent day, hand watering each and every one of his more than 400 tomato plants.

“All right, ladies!” he said, sprinkling each plant with water. “Thank you for providing such wonderful fruit, so many wonderful tomatoes!”

These may be one-way conversations, but talking with his plants is part of Novicky’s recipe for growing tomatoes, a notoriously challenging crop for central Oregon. He also blasts reggae music from speakers at one end of his tall greenhouse.

At first glance, Mu Delta Alpha might seem like any Greek organization on UT-Austin’s campus.

It has letters, colors – teal, white and peach – and had rush week last month. While that may be pretty typical for a sorority, Mu Delta Alpha is different. It’s the first Muslim sorority on the University of Texas campus.

Daily Update from MPR News

11 hours ago

Minnesota News for October 17, 2017

Copyright 2017 MPR News. To see more, visit MPR News.

Mentors Help Drive Attendance At Austin Schools

12 hours ago

Students in Central Texas miss more days of school than kids in any other part of the state.

Around 10 percent of local students are chronically absent, meaning they miss more than 18 school days a year. A quarter of Austin 12th-graders miss that much school.

Portland is taking a new approach to RVs and tiny homes placed on private property. The city’s building code bureau will limit its efforts to enforce the rules against them.

Commissioner Chloe Eudaly manages the Bureau of Development Services and announced the change this week. Eudaly said she has asked code enforcement officers to "deprioritize" enforcement against tiny homes and RVs "effective immediately."

Oregon Children's Hospital Among Best In Nation For Serious Injury

21 hours ago

Randall Children’s Hospital has been verified as a Level 1 pediatric trauma center — the first children’s hospital in Oregon to attain the status.

Erika Ohm, the manager of pediatric trauma at the Portland hospital, said the designation means they can treat even the most severely injured children.

“Anyone who has a child with special needs that is injured or ill, they know that Randall Children’s Hospital can treat even the most minor injuries to the most severe, with specialist that are trained just to take care of kids.”

Energy company Luminant says it’s shutting down three of its coal-fired power plants in Texas by early next year. The sudden closure of so many plants is unprecedented. That's not the only thing unexpected about the closures, though.

Oregonians will be voting on a tax on hospital and health insurance companies next January.

The Oregon Secretary of State’s Office announced Monday that opponents of the tax had successfully gathered enough valid signatures to force a vote. It means that all registered voters in Oregon will receive a ballot in early January for a rare mid-winter special election.

Feisal Omar/Reuters

When Jibril Afyare arrived in Mogadishu from Minnesota, just two weeks ago, the atmosphere was one of hope.

“I saw a Somalia [that] had made a lot of tremendous progress in terms of security, the economy, education,” Afyare said. “Everywhere you go, people were jubilant and optimistic.”

Afyare was in the car, on the way to meet his relatives, when Saturday’s explosion happened.

“I was at a place called kilometer 4,” he said. “Where the attack had taken place was kilometer 5.”

The family he was to meet — his uncle, aunt and cousins — did not survive.

US allies turn their US guns on each other in Iraq

Oct 16, 2017

Iraqi forces took control of the contested city of Kirkuk from Kurdish authorities on Monday, as tensions over last month’s independence referendum in the Kurdistan region erupted into violence between two key US allies.

Thousands of civilians fled in panic from the city, which lies in the heart of a major oil-producing region and which both the Kurds and Iraq claim as their own.

Evening Update from MPR News

Oct 16, 2017

Minnesota news for October 16, 2017

Copyright 2017 MPR News. To see more, visit MPR News.

National Archives/Reuters

A few weeks ago, while mowing the lawn, Clifton Daniel began to recite a monologue in character as Harry S. Truman.

“Which is weird,” he admitted recently, in between bites of a Whole Foods wrap. Truman hated mowing the lawn. “My neighbors probably think I’ve lost my mind.”

Astoria Opens Radiation Center In Collaboration With OHSU

Oct 16, 2017

Chris Laman is the director of the cancer treatment collaboration between Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria and the Oregon Health & Science University Knight Cancer Institute.

He said for thousands of his cancer patients, radiation treatment used to mean day after day of four-hour drives.

“They have to make up to 35 trips to Portland or Longview and those are really on a daily basis," he said. "And it’s a terrible hardship, especially in our rural settings where we have people who don’t really have the finances or means to make those trips.”

From Texas Standard:

While the Trump administration says the "war on coal" is over, market forces are having their say when it comes to the fossil fuel, closing plants in several Texas communities.

Texas' largest generator of coal-powered energy, Luminant, says it is ceasing operations at two plants in the state. The company says Texas' competitive energy market and cheap natural gas  make these older coal-fired plants unprofitable. Another Texas coal operator has already announced plans to close two facilities.

Amazon is set to receive more tax breaks from Oregon than any other state. Suzanne Stevens, editor of the Portland Business Journal, discusses Amazon’s growing footprint in Oregon and the possible location of the company’s second headquarters.