FBI warns Oregonians about bomb threat scam

The FBI has received several reports through its Internet Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov) of a new threat that businesses and agencies across the state of Oregon are receiving.

The language in every case appears to be very similar.

The threat message says that the bad actor has planted bombs in the organization and that if anyone contacts police, the bombs will be detonated remotely.

There is a demand for a payment of $5,000 – $20,000 to be made through an email or cryptocurrency address.

The messages also include death threats to the recipients and their families.

So far, the threats are targeting internet service providers, education institutions, and health care providers.

If you receive such a threat, the FBI recommends that you do NOT pay the ransom and that you notify us at www.ic3.gov

Brown commutes juvenile sentences of more than 70 offenders

SALEM (AP) — Gov. Kate Brown has commuted the sentences of more than 70 people convicted of felonies while juveniles, but the action doesn’t mean they are about to be released.

The governor’s commutations grant some adults in custody who committed serious crimes as juveniles the opportunity to appear before a state board to argue for their release after 15 years in prison.

The list includes people convicted between 1988 and 2019 for crimes such as murder, assault, rape and manslaughter while juveniles.

A 2019 bill made changes to the mandatory minimum sentences for minors sentenced on or after Jan. 1, 2020.

NASA launches tool that measures Western water loss

DENVER (AP) — NASA launched an online platform Thursday with data on how much water evaporates into the atmosphere from plants, soils and other surfaces in the U.S. West.

It says that information could help water managers, farmers and state officials better manage resources in the parched region.

The platform uses satellite imagery from the Landsat program, a decades-long project of NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey that records human and natural impacts on Earth’s surface.

NW Washington raspberry harvest down 30% due to heat wave

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — The late June record-breaking heat wave in the Pacific Northwest resulted in a significantly smaller raspberry harvest in northwest Washington.

The Bellingham Herald reports the 2021 harvest numbers show Whatcom County farmers brought in almost 44.5 million pounds, according to the Washington Red Raspberry Commission.

That’s down 30.2% compared to the 2020 harvest and down 40% compared to the peak year in 2018.

The second-lowest total this century was 45.9 million pounds in 2004.

The extreme heat turned many berries to mush just as harvest typically begins.

Another effort to block Oregon vaccine mandate denied

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A second federal judge in Oregon has rejected an emergency motion to halt the state’s vaccine mandate or make an exception for state workers who have contracted COVID-19.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled that the U.S. Constitution offers no fundamental right to refuse a vaccination and that the required shots are in the state’s interest to slow disease spread and protect citizens.

Aiken additionally saw no need to exempt unvaccinated workers from the vaccine mandate if they already had the virus, citing a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Aiken’s opinion marks the sixth ruling in state or federal court in Oregon to deny an effort to halt the vaccine requirement.

Technical error leads to roughly 550 unreported COVID deaths in Oregon

Over the coming weeks, the Oregon Health Authority will begin reporting about 550 deaths among people who died with COVID-19 but whose deaths only became recently known to state epidemiologists due to a technical computer error.

Most of these deaths occurred between May 2021 and August 2021.

The deaths will be reviewed during the data reconciliation process over the next month.

People who have died and meet the COVID-19 death definition based on death certificates will be reported on the Oregon Health Authority’s COVID-19 dashboards and its daily COVID-19 media releases.

As a result, daily reported COVID-19-related deaths will be higher than usual until the backlog is resolved. Details of all deaths will be listed in OHA’s daily COVID-19 media release, which is published weekdays.

OHA’s reporting of COVID-19 deaths involves reconciling death records to case records, which is done manually. OHA has been working to automate the process but that has led to periodic backlogs, such as what is being reported today.

“We are taking steps to ensure that our reporting is comprehensive and transparent,” said OHA Director Patrick Allen. “We extend our condolences to everyone who has suffered a loss to COVID-19, and we deeply regret the pain this disclosure may cause.”

The additional deaths will affect Oregon’s national standing in COVID-19 death rates. Presently, Oregon has the 6th lowest death rate in the nation.

The newly reported deaths are expected to push Oregon’s death rate past one or two other states. However, Oregon’s death rate will remain well below the national average and the fatality rates of most other states.

State health officials estimate that if Oregon’s death rate matched the national average, another 4,000 or more Oregonians would have died from COVID-19.

Health officials attribute Oregon’s comparatively low death rate to vaccinations, mask wearing and other social distancing measures, which Oregonians have practiced to a greater extent than residents of many other states.

Death is a lagging indicator and generally follows a surge in cases. In addition, there is often a delay in reporting as OHA epidemiologists review death certificates.

OHA expects that reported deaths may continue to be high even as daily case counts decrease.

This is due to the time period between when a person tests positive for a case of COVID-19 and when they die with COVID-19.

The newly enhanced COVID-19 Case Severity dashboard visualizes the time lag between when case onset and dates of death. Peak deaths routinely trail peak case onset by two weeks.

Oregon kills 3 more wolves for attacking cattle

BAKER CITY, Ore. (AP) — Officials say Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife employees fatally shot three additional wolves from the Lookout Mountain pack.

The Baker City Herald reports two 6-month-olds and one yearling were shot from a helicopter Wednesday.

The agency says it has killed eight wolves from the pack, leaving the collared breeding female and up to two juveniles.

Officials say the pack killed at least seven head of cattle and injured three others in eastern Baker County since mid-July.

The Center for Biological Diversity’s senior wolf advocate Amaroq Weiss says they are deeply saddened and angered that bullets have reduced this wolf family to a shadow of itself.

State agency inadvertently releases employees vaccine status

PORTLAND (AP) — Oregon’s central administrative agency inadvertently released the COVID-19 vaccination status of more than 40,000 state employees to two media outlets.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports a spreadsheet sent to them and the Statesman Journal was supposed to contain the latest vaccination rates and vaccine exemption rates for each executive branch agency overseen by Gov. Kate Brown.

Instead, Oregon Department of Administrative Services External Relations Director Adam Crawford emailed a file to the outlets Monday containing vaccination status by employee name.

Crawford took the blame for the data release, calling it a mistake on his part.

The newspapers said they wouldn’t publish the personal data.

Another illegal marijuana operation found in southern Oregon

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. (AP) — Authorities say another large illegal marijuana operation has been discovered in southern Oregon.

The Herald and News reports on Tuesday, law enforcement executing a search warrant in a downtown Klamath Falls warehouse found marijuana with a street value of more than $20 million.

According to law enforcement, the building was filled with drying and processed marijuana, as well as tents and living quarters for 28 workers who were temporarily detained.

The marijuana was seized and destroyed at the Klamath County Waste Management Landfill.

The Basin Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team searched the property after information from a previous Klamath County Sheriff’s Office investigation.

Oregon State Police say 11 employees placed on leave over vax mandate

The Oregon State Police said Tuesday 11 employees – 10 troopers and a staff member – have been placed on administrative leave for not complying with the vaccine mandate for state employees.

“Those 11 OSP members are valued employees and are working through the process with our agency to determine next steps,” the agency said in a release.

Of the 1,267 Oregon State Police employees, 78% are fully vaccinated; 15% have approved religious or medical exemptions; 7% have exemptions that are pending review

Another 10 OSP members are working remotely, using vacation, or are on leave without pay as they “transition through the ‘in the vaccination process’ period.,” the agency said.

Two troopers and two staff members resigned, citing the vaccine mandate.