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May 9th, 2012 WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs
 

Murmurs: Earl the Tariff Cutter

Unexpected pickets at Planned Parenthood.

murmurs.blumenauer_3827BLUMENAUER - IMAGE: WW Photo Illustration
  • A federal grand jury in San Diego last week indicted Yonas Fikre and two others for attempting to conceal the transfer of $75,000 from the United States to the United Arab Emirates in 2010. Fikre is the Oregon Muslim who claims UAE officials held him and tortured him for 106 days last year after he refused to cooperate with a U.S. government investigation into Portland’s largest mosque, the Islamic Center of Portland, Masjed As-Saber (see “Sleepless In Abu Dhabi,” WW, April 18, 2012). The indictment alleges Fikre; his brother, Dawit Woldehawariat; and Abrehaile Haile, owner of Seattle-based Red Sea Finance, conspired to move small amounts into a UAE bank account to avoid detection. Fikre’s lawyer, Tom Nelson, said his client committed no crime.
  • Revelers—including Gov. John Kitzhaber—planned to whoop it up at Planned Parenthood of the Columbia Willamette’s Roman Holiday gala on Saturday, May 12, but they face a tough political decision: Support the organization’s annual $250-per-plate blowout, or honor the picket line that Service Employees International Union Local 49 plans to stage. SEIU represents 179 Planned Parenthood clinical workers; the sides have been “unable to reach an agreement on an initial contract despite negotiating since November 2011, says SEIU’s Felisa Hagins. Planned Parenthood CEO David Greenberg says he has not decided how to respond to the picket. Kitzhaber has. Says his spokesman, Tim Raphael, “The governor will not cross the picket line and has canceled his appearance.”
  • U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) is famous for his bicycle advocacy in Washington, D.C., founding the Congressional Bike Caucus and regularly riding to work. Less well known is his work cutting tariffs on imported bike gear. Late last month, Blumenauer introduced bills to extend until 2015 tariff suspensions he won three years ago on imported gear such as baby carriers, certain types of brakes and speedometers, and high-tech tank tops and sports bras made of stretchy fabric “that transmits physiological information from the electrodes to a compatible monitor.” No love for fixed-gear hubs or BMX axle pegs?
  • Men’s Health magazine has put a serious damper on Portland’s self-satisfaction in its role as a capital of sleaze, ranking the “smuttiest cities in America” by tallying porn searches, adult DVDs rented and streamed, sex stores and Cinemax subscribers. Portland finished 16th, well behind winner Orlando, Fla. The magazine counted our notorious “lingerie shops” but didn’t factor in strip clubs. We can look, but we’d better not touch.
 
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