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Viet Thanh Nguyen | Back Country Book Club | L.A. Salami | RACC

May 26, 2018

Maybe it's the Memorial Day weekend vibe. Maybe it's something in the water. But everyone we talked to this week arrived ready for deeper dives, long reads and in-depth conversation — the kind of thoughts that don't lend themselves to workday hustle. A Pulitzer Prize winner talks about walking in his mom and dad’s shoes. A London-based singer-songwriter slows down to look life with a Dylan-esque clarity. And three people with three extraordinary lives offer reading recommendations for those uninterrupted, stretches of time between the covers.

Sweden's new law on affirmative consent is hailed, but questions remain

May 26, 2018

As Sweden joins 10 other western European countries with a new consent law, there’s still much to figure out about what happens next.

The new law was passed Wednesday by an overwhelming majority (257 to 38, with 54 absentees) in the country’s parliament. Still, the two biggest opposition parties, The Moderate Party and the Sweden Democrats, are skeptical.

For a group of women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia, the first few days of the holy month of Ramadan have not brought forgiveness and compassion. On the contrary, they have been a time of silencing and intimidation.

The activists were taken away from their homes and placed in detention for campaigning against the driving ban and demanding an end to the male guardianship system in Saudi Arabia — the system that requires the consent of a male relative for major decisions such as getting a passport or traveling outside the Kingdom.

Members of Oregon's congressional delegation are asking Amtrak for a full report on an investigation into a gay Portland State University student whose unconscious body was found near train tracks in Northern California.

After years of wrangling, Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan have agreed to a controversial hydroelectric dam, Africa's biggest, being built on a major branch of the Nile River.

Under the deal, Ethiopia will give Egypt a share of the electricity from the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project. Ethiopia also has promised the project will “not damage the interests of the other states” involved.

It’s a breakthrough in a region that has a history of tension among the countries that share on of the world’s great watersheds.

For these activists, oil and art just don't mix

May 25, 2018

On a recent cold night in Trafalgar Square, a group of 30 or so people rehearsed a new piece of musical theater in front of Britain’s National Gallery of Art. But if the venue was highbrow, the production — including sinister characters and lyrics such as “A gallery of art-wash ... to benefit the oil boss” — definitely was not.

Even for a country used to flooding, this has been something beyond pretty much anyone's experience.

Roughly 175,000 people displaced, widespread destruction of staple crops like maize, and a looming public health crisis following what observers say is the worst flooding in Malawi in half a century.

You could say the people living along the banks of the Thondwe River in southern Malawi were lucky. At least they’d been warned of the flash flood in early January that would burst through an earthen dike, wash away their homes and crops, and leave more than 4,000 of them homeless.

Amazingly, no one in the dense cluster of villages called Makawa died in the flood. But they’ve been living in pretty desperate conditions here since.

Imagine a Hawaiian island rising up out of a huge lake and you’ve got something like Nicaragua’s Ometepe. It’s the largest island in Central America’s largest lake, Lake Nicaragua. It’s where Luvys and Dayton Guzman grow plantains in the dark soil nutured by the volcano Concepción and water their cows on a black sand beach.

It’s a pretty sleepy place, which is why Luvys Guzman was surprised when a team of surveyors showed up a few months ago.

“They measured everything,” she says, “including our water tanks, laundry, houses and sheds.”

UPDATE (May 25, 10:10 p.m. PT) — Portland Police say three women have been transported to area hospitals after a hit-and-run at Portland State University, and a Portland man has been charged with three counts of attempted murder. He's expected to be arraigned Tuesday, according to Portland Police Sgt. Christopher Burley.

One of the women is in critical condition, police said. Another is in serious condition. A third asked that no information about their condition be shared.

'OPB Politics Now': Follow The Money

May 25, 2018

It was a big week for tax news at the state Capitol.  

On "OPB Politics Now" podcast, OPB political reporters Jeff Mapes and Dirk VanderHart, along with Hillary Borrud of The Oregonian/OregonLive, bring you inside the special session on a business tax break.  

News Roundtable | Prom

May 25, 2018


We hear opinions and analysis on some of this week’s news headlines from Allen Alley, Jim Moore and Naseem Rakha.


'I can't control my gender'

May 25, 2018

Stephanie Labbé played on the biggest stage in the soccer world: the Olympics.

She won a bronze medal two years ago in Rio as the starting goalie for Canada's national women's team. Now, she wants to add to her list of accomplishments by planning for the Calgary Foothills men's soccer team.

Despite qualifying, the Premier Development League, which oversees the Foothills won't allow Labbé to play because of her gender. Labbé recently told The World's Marco Werman about her disappointment.  

Leading up to Monday’s special legislative session, Gov. Kate Brown worked the phones.

On Friday afternoon, she connected with House GOP Leader Mike McLane at his law firm in Bend. She wanted to know if Republicans were willing to suspend legislative rules, a key procedural move to ensure the emergency session wouldn’t drag on. McLane wanted assurances: that the governor wouldn’t sign a bill that raised taxes and the session’s focus would remain narrow.

The state’s top Democrat agreed.

That was the easy phone call.

Republicans angered by this week’s special Oregon legislative session have accused Gov. Kate Brown of playing politics in an election year. State ethics officials probably won’t wade into whether that’s true.

After days of growing uncertainty, President Donald Trump on Thursday canceled a much-hyped summit with North Korea, writing in a letter to its leader, Kim Jong-un, that the world “has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace.”

But in televised remarks shortly afterward, Trump said “it’s possible” the meeting, which was scheduled to take place June 12 in Singapore, “could take place, or a summit at some later date."

“Nobody should be anxious,” he added. “We have to get it right.”

Cypress Creek Renewables builds and manages large-scale solar farms across the US, which supply power to utilities. The company’s CEO Matt McGovern said “it’s very difficult, if not impossible” to find all of the solar equipment it needs from US manufacturers.

So, McGovern says he has to turn to Asia to import equipment: “Malaysia, Vietnam, South Korea, some out of China.”

It’s never been a tough question for her.

Irish podcaster Ciara O’Connor Walsh, 37, says she has always been a supporter of abortion rights. But as she was parking her car one day, O’Connor Walsh was suddenly confronted by one of her own prejudices.

There was a bumper sticker on the car next to hers with a picture of a smiling fetus on it saying, “When I grow up, I’m going to play for Ireland.” The sticker also said, “Love both,” a motto used by anti-abortion activists in Ireland.

Is it good or bad to be a house flipper in a market like this? Well ... both. Some seasoned flippers say they've gotten out of the game because there are so many new people entering it.

Copyright 2018 MPR News. To see more, visit MPR News.

When the city of Vanport flooded, many Native American families were displaced along with African Americans living in the city. Angie Morrill, director of Indian Education for Portland Public Schools, recently wrote about her family’s story and joins us to talk more about it.

Gavin Kaysen, winner of Best Chef in the Midwest at the James Beard awards, talks about how restaurateurs are changing the way they treat the people cooking and serving your food.

The University of Minnesota is finally seeing a slight increase in enrollment after a huge decrease in the early 2010s. But the school is still hurting financially and relying on subsidies to maintain its stature.

3 Things to Do This Weekend in Minnesota

May 24, 2018

For years, Portland State University has been that row of low, brick-and-concrete bunkers along Southwest Broadway.

PSU business school student Elliott Dow saw the old business building as dark and cramped.

“You went there for classes," he said, "and then you got out." 

On one hand, business school dean Cliff Allen defends the building as having served its general purpose. But Allen also acknowledges that the facility didn't support specific teaching methods. It lacked spaces, for example, where students could collaborate on business case studies.

Before John Elifritz was shot and killed by police at a Portland homeless shelter last month, he was a known criminal with an extensive history, dating back to 1988.

Over the years, Elifritz repeatedly led police on high speed and sometimes lengthy chases. He routinely violated his parole. In prison, he was known as a member of the European Kindred, a white supremacy group.

Michael Pollan is best-known for his best-selling books about food and our relationship to food and the natural world. His new book explores the little-known history about the promising medical and scientific studies of psychedelics in the 1950s and 60s. He's been writing about this subject in The New Yorker and elsewhere for a few years now.

Rollin Virgile walks through his store amid dozens of weddings dresses, white floral crowns, men’s tuxedo vests and baptism gowns. He greets customers in Creole: "Bonswa, koman nou ye?" (Good afternoon, how are you all?) Virgile has been in the same location, at Northeast 82nd street and Second Avenue — the heart of Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood — for 32 years. His store, Virgile's Tuxedo & Formal Wear, is a go-to for Miami's Haitian community, where customers can rent a tuxedo, robe bridesmaids or find first communion accoutrements.

Oregon’s surging tax collections show no signs of abating — and that means you’re probably going to get some money back. Again.

The state’s latest revenue forecast, released Wednesday, shows personal income tax revenues for the 2017-19 fiscal biennium stand to come in $555 million above initial forecasts. That’s more than enough to trigger Oregon’s unique “kicker” provision, which doles money back to taxpayers when taxes come in at more than 2 percent above estimates.

UPDATE (May 23, 12:14 p.m. PT) — The family of a man shot and killed by police inside a Southeast Portland homeless shelter has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Portland and the individual officers involved in the fatal shooting.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg left some European Parliament lawmakers and observers feeling displeased Tuesday after he failed to answer several questions during a Brussels meeting called in the wake of a user data privacy scandal involving his company and British data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica.