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April 9th, 2003 | News Stories
 

Murmurs

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MAHER "MIKE" HAWASH, www.freemikehawash.org
* Curiouser and Curiouser: Information remains scant about the detention of Intel engineer Maher "Mike" Hawash, 38, who was arrested in a Hillsboro parking lot March 20 while FBI agents stormed his home brandishing assault rifles.

Hawash, an American citizen, is being held in solitary confinement in the federal penitentiary at Sheridan as a "material witness."

Digging up facts about the case has been like tilling permafrost. "I don't know anything about it," said Sgt. Brian Schmautz of the Portland Police Bureau, who suggested calling the FBI instead. FBI spokeswoman Beth Anne Steele wasn't much help: "Due to court rules, I'm not allowed to answer any questions on this," she told WW last week, refusing to even name the judge who made the ruling (it was U.S. District Judge Robert E. Jones).

Despite the official silence, WW understands that Hawash is being held in connection with the ongoing investigation into the so-called "Portland Six," who were indicted on charges of providing aid to al Qaeda.

The Alice-in-Wonderland case has drawn attention from The New York Times, the Associated Press, The Oregonian and the Portland Tribune. Roughly 80 friends and supporters held a rally outside the Hatfield Courthouse Monday morning. For more information, check out www.freemikehawash.org.

* Bob Pamplin shocked the Portland radio world last week by snatching KEX morning host Bob Miller. Pamplin's KPAM has struggled for nearly three years to compete with news-talkers KEX and KXL, and many radio insiders have speculated that Pamplin might pull the plug when the contracts of marquee names Bill Gallagher, Pete Schulberg and Dwight Jaynes expire. Instead, Pamplin, who also owns the Portland Tribune, signaled that he's in for the long haul by giving Miller a five-year deal, rumored to be worth more than $250,000 annually. Miller will leave KEX after 23 years at the end of May, and he'll start at KPAM Dec. 1.

* Meanwhile, over on the FM side, Scootergate rolls on. Rose City Radio General Manager Tim McNamara, boss of the Jammin 95.5 crew, will meet with advocates for the developmentally disabled this week amid reports that the Shane Company and a couple of other advertisers are pulling their business to protest Scooter's mocking of a mentally retarded, schizophrenic woman. (See Rogue of the Week, WW, Feb. 26, 2003.) McNamara would not comment on whether the advertisers are fleeing but said he had fined Scooter $2,000.

* Was Christian Longo's bizarre and improbable defense first suggested to him by Oregon's other notorious serial killer? That's the question raised by a letter sent to local media outlets, including WW, back in February. It was apparently written by Keith Jesperson, the so-called Happy Face Killer, who in 1995 confessed to killing eight women in five states, then sent letters about it to local media. In his more recent letter, signed with his trademark cartoon "happy face," Jesperson predicted that Longo would claim his wife killed two of his children, and that as a result, he killed his wife and youngest child in a rage. Jesperson claims he suggested this defense as a way to avoid the death penalty in his letters to Longo. In the end, it wasn't enough, and on Monday Longo was convicted of all four killings.

* Think the Portland Business Alliance isn't worried about the prospect of losing its lucrative contract to manage six city-owned parking garages? Late last month, the Alliance responded to the city's request for proposals to manage the garages with a 52-page letter (signed not by staffers, but by heavyweight board members) protesting various specifications in the request.

 
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