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Judge tosses energy company's easement challenge
(MGN Online Photo)

ASTORIA, Ore. (AP) -- Opponents of an energy company's $6 billion terminal and pipeline project are expected to use the dismissal of an easement challenge to contest development permits.

An Army Corps of Engineers easement threatens Oregon LNG's plan to put export terminals there. The company amended its motion after a judge threw out the challenge, saying it wasn't submitted in time.

Oregon LNG's amended motion says the Corps seemed to have abandoned its claim to the area, which restarted the time limit for challenging the easement.

The company is seeking development permits in the city of Warrenton on Wednesday.

Planning staff will recommend approval, but Columbia Riverkeeper conservation director Dan Serres says the city should deny permits because the company doesn't have Corps authorization to use the land.

Watchdog: 900,000 vets may have pending health care requests

(MGN Online Photo)

MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 900,000 military veterans have officially pending applications for health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the department's inspector general said Wednesday, but "serious" problems with enrollment data make it impossible to determine how many veterans were actively seeking VA health care.

About one-third of the 867,000 veterans with pending applications are likely deceased, the report says, adding that "data limitations" prevent investigators from determining how many now-deceased veterans applied for health care benefits or when. The applications go back nearly two decades, and officials said some applicants may have died years ago.

More than half the applications listed as pending as of last year do not have application dates, and investigators "could not reliably determine how many records were associated with actual applications for enrollment" in VA health care, the report said.

The report also says VA workers incorrectly marked thousands of unprocessed health-care applications as completed and may have deleted 10,000 or more electronic "transactions" over the past five years.

Linda Halliday, the VA's acting inspector general, said the agency's Health Eligibility Center "has not effectively managed its business processes to ensure the consistent creation and maintenance of essential data" and recommended a multi-year plan to improve accuracy and usefulness of agency records.

Halliday's report came in response to a whistleblower who said more than 200,000 veterans with pending applications for VA health care were likely deceased.

The inspector general's report substantiated that claim and others, but said there was no way to tell for sure when or why the person died. Similarly, deficiencies in the VA's information security — including a lack of audit trails and system backups — limited investigators' ability to review some issues fully and rule out data manipulation, Halliday said.

The VA has said it has no way to purge the list of dead applicants, and said many of those listed in the report are likely to have used another type of insurance before they died.

VA spokeswoman Walinda West said Wednesday the agency has publicly acknowledged that its enrollment process is confusing and that the enrollment system, data integrity and quality "are in need of significant improvement."

Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., chairman and senior Democrat of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said in a joint statement that the inspector general's report pointed to "both a significant failure" by leaders at the Health Eligibility Center and "deficient oversight by the VA central office" in Washington.

The lawmakers urged VA to implement the report's recommendations quickly to improve record keeping at the VA and "ensure that this level of blatant mismanagement does not happen again."

As of June 30, VA has contacted 302,045 veterans by mail, asking them to submit required documents to establish eligibility, West said. To date, VA has received 36,749 responses and enrolled 34,517 veterans, she said.

"As we continue our work to contact veterans, our focus remains on improving the enrollment system to better serve veterans," West said.

The Health Eligibility Center has removed a "purge-and-delete functionality" from a computer system used to track agency workloads, West said. VA will provide six months of data to demonstrate that any changed or deleted data on VA workloads has undergone appropriate management review, with approvals and audit trails visible, she said.

Coos County man sentenced to 50 years in prison
(MGN online photo)

By KTVL Staff/KTVL.com

EUGENE, Ore.-- A Coos County man was sentenced Tuesday to 50 years in prison for being a felon in possession of firearms and for violent assaults he committed in prison while awaiting trial, according to an Oregon Department of Justice press release.

Thomas Cornelius, Jr., 50, burglarized residences in Oregon after being released from prison in August 2010. By May 2011, Cornelius burglarized 25 homes in Coos, Curry, Lane and Douglas counties while armed with a loaded gun and stole firearms, jewelry, cash and electronics.

Cornelius was stopped for for speeding by an Oregon State trooper, and was arrested after two stolen loaded pistols were found in the trunk of the rental car.

While awaiting trial, Cornelius assaulted another inmate at the Federal Correctional Institute in Sheridan, Ore. from behind with a prison shank. In August 2013, Cornelius attacked another inmate, who was handcuffed at the time, with a razor blade and repeatedly cut their throat. The inmate survived.

In three separate trials in 2014 and 2015, Cornelius was convicted for assault with a dangerous weapon, assault with intent to commit murder, possessing prohibited objects in a correctional facility, and eight felon-in-possession charges.

Based on the three jury convictions, Chief U.S. District Judge Anne Aiken sentenced Cornelius to 50 years in prison.

Cornelius' criminal history includes 13 convictions starting in 1985.

Oregon offers assistance to first-time homebuyers
(MGN Online Photo)

By KTVL Staff/KTVL.com

Ore.-- The Oregon Housing and Community Services says that the Oregon Bond program has two options to help first-time homebuyers get a mortgage loan at below market interest rates, according to a press release by the OHCS.

The Oregon Bond Loan has two programs for fist time home buyers. The first offers a below market interest rate of 3.25% and the second offers a 3.75% interest rate and gives buyers the ability to use up to 3% of the loan to pay closing costs, according to the press release.

Those who qualify can buy a new or existing home anywhere in Oregon, including site built homes, qualified condominiums, and manufactured housing.

The Oregon Bond Loan program uses proceeds from tax exempt revenue bonds to finance the two programs. OHCS works with participating mortgage lenders, local government and non-profit organizations to assist home buyers.
A list of participating mortgage lenders is available HERE.

France hero in ABC's new 'Dancing' cast
In this Aug. 24, 2015 file photo, Alek Skarlatos arrives at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — ABC moved quickly to land one of the three men who foiled a terror attack on a Paris-bound train last month for the 21st season cast of "Dancing With the Stars."

The network announced Wednesday that Alek Skarlatos, who overpowered a gun-toting man last month with his friends Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler, will be in the dancing competition that starts again on Sept. 14 (8 p.m. EDT).

Chef Paula Deen, actor Gary Busey and Bindi Irwin, actress-daughter of the late wildlife TV star Steve Irwin, are among the other cast members.

The cast is rounded out by "Spy Kids" actress Alexa PenaVega and her actor-husband, Carlos; singer Andy Grammer; singer Chaka Khan; 15-year-old online star Hayes Grier; "Real Housewives of Atlanta" cast member Kim Zolciak Biermann; former Backstreet Boy Nick Carter; reality star Tamar Braxton; and Triple Crown-winning jockey Victor Espinoza.

Fox News anchor sues Hasbro over toy hamster with her name

MICHELLE R. SMITH, Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — An anchor for Fox News is suing Hasbro for more than $5 million over a toy hamster that shares her name — and possibly even her resemblance.

Harris Faulkner sued Hasbro this week over its plastic Harris Faulkner hamster, sold as part of the Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based company's popular "Littlest Pet Shop" line. She says the toy wrongfully appropriates her name and persona, harms her professional credibility as a journalist and is an insult.

"Hasbro's portrayal of Faulkner as a rodent is demeaning and insulting," says the lawsuit, which was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in New Jersey.

Faulkner has been at Fox News for a decade. She hosts the daytime show "Outnumbered" and anchors a Sunday evening newscast.

Her lawsuit says that in addition to sharing her name, the toy bears a physical resemblance to Faulkner's traditional professional appearance, including its complexion, eye shape and eye makeup design.

The Harris Faulkner toy was introduced in 2014, according to the lawsuit, and was sold in a package as the pet hamster of a terrier named Benson Detwyler. Other toys in the popular line include animals named Pancakes Watkins, Puffball Petrovsky and Pepper Clark.

The lawsuit says Faulkner never gave permission for Hasbro to use her name or likeness and that she even demanded in January that Hasbro stop using it. More than three weeks later, it was still for sale on Hasbro's website, the lawsuit contends. It says that as of July, Faulkner's name was still being used on a website to sell "Littlest Pet Shop" products, and the plastic hamster that bears her name can still be bought at other online retail stores.

Julie Duffy, a Hasbro spokeswoman, said the company doesn't comment on litigation, but she took issue with the lawsuit's contention that the doll is a "known choking hazard that risks harming small children."

"The Littlest Pet Shop product identified, and all products in the Littlest Pet Shop line, meet and exceed all safety standards," Duffy said.

Faulkner is seeking $5 million in damages and attorney fees, plus any profits the company made on the toy.

OSP seeks help with elk poaching in Douglas County
Photo provided by Oregon State Police

By KTVL Staff/KTVL.com

ROSEBURG, Ore.-- Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division is asking for help with an elk poaching case in Douglas County, according to a press release.

Oregon State Troopers received a report of an elk shot and left to waste in the Panther Creek area off Highway 42 near the Coos and Douglas County line on August 29. The four point bull elk had been shot with a firearm in the stomach.

This is the third bull elk that has been shot in the area and left to waste since May.

Anyone with information should contact Trooper Tom Willis at 541-440-3334 ext. 3415.

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US productivity up 3.3 percent in spring, labor costs fall

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. productivity in the spring rose at the fastest pace since late 2013, while labor costs declined.

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IDRIS ELBA: BOND WRITER DISMISSES HIM AS "TOO STREET" FOR 007 ROLE

LONDON (AP) -- The man who wrote the new James Bond novel thinks people might be reading between the lines too much about his comments on casting for the movie based on the book.

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OFFICER IMPERSONATION-REAL OFFICER

MANASSAS, Va. (AP) --The fake cop tried to stop a real police officer.

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IN THE NEWS: UBER SUIT GETS CLASS-ACTION STATUS

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- More legal headaches for Uber.

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