Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Staff Picks: Top 10 Inlander crime and justice stories of 2013

Posted By on Tue, Dec 31, 2013 at 12:56 PM

Spokane criminal justice saw many changes, new challenges and several tragedies in 2013. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Spokane criminal justice saw many changes, new challenges and several tragedies in 2013.

Bookended by two commission reports on the local justice system, 2013 made for a year of self-evaluation and reform in many ways. With a new chief at the helm of the Spokane Police Department, Spokane first received 26 recommendations from the city's Use of Force Commission and later ended the year with 43 recommendations from the Spokane County Criminal Justice Commission.

The city also suffered tragedy and controversy with the beating death of Delbert Belton drawing national attention as well as the divisive fatal shooting of Brendon Kaluza-Graham at the hand of Gail Gerlach.

Throughout the year, we at The Inlander tried to share the human voices and context behind many of those major reforms and local tragedies. With that in mind, here are 10 of the top crime and justice stories from The Inlander in 2013, in chronological order:

1. Data Cops, Feb. 5:
In a significant shift of everyday operations, the Spokane Police Department adopted the CompStat policing model, which uses data mapping and statistical analysis to assign officers to criminal "hot spots" throughout the city. It also improves communication between local agencies. But critics say the number-heavy model is open to manipulation or may lead to quotas. 

2. Holding the Keys, March 12:
Spokane County Commissioners voted to take over responsibility for the overcrowded and understaffed Spokane County Jail in June, removing it from the management of the Sheriff's Office in hopes of centralizing authority to introduce new reforms and avoid budget disputes.

3. Calling For Help, May 22:
In late February, 33-year-old Christopher Parker called 911 for help and ended up dead on the floor of the Spokane County Jail. We pieced together what happened to him in his final hours. Read a recent update on the investigation into Parker's death.

4. Calculating Crime, June 12:
Taking a look at Spokane's notorious vehicle theft and property crime rates, we broke down the historic crime data to reveal that while most major cities has seen significant drops in crime rates in the past 25 years, Spokane has trended upward or held steady. We also examined how crime data has become a new focus for the SPD and public perceptions regarding crime. 

5. Calculating Risks, June 25:
In this cover story, we examined the state's violent sexual predator protocols to illustrate how the system works to rehabilitate repeat sex offenders and how their victims try to cope.

6. Rolling Surveillance, July 23:
Amid rapid advances in police technology, the ACLU sounded a new warning against Automated License Plate Readers, which photograph and log time, place and registration data on hundreds of passing cars everyday. We explored how local police departments use such readers and privacy implications.

7. The Long Way Back, July 31:
After four years in prison, prosecutors dropped charges against three men previously featured in The Inlander's 2010 Injustice Project. Paul Statler, Tyler Gassman and Robert Larson finally won their freedom after being convicted in 2009 based on the word of a jailhouse snitch.

8. Long Hours, Aug. 7:
With staffing shortages and high demands for event security, the Spokane Police Department and the Spokane County Sheriff's Office have both racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime costs. Here's a look at where that money has gone and the risk of officer burnout.

9. Without A Trace, Sept. 10:
In a world of GPS, Facebook and widespread surveillance, it seems hard to imagine people still disappearing into thin air, but they do. This story explores four recent Inland Northwest cases and the heart-breaking uncertainty left by each missing loved one.

10. Our Kids, Our Problem, Oct. 1:
After the "sucker punch" heard round Spokane, we tried to cut through some of the hysteria to uncover who made up the downtown "street kid" community and what the city can do to keep streets safer for everyone, the kids included.

Look for the biggest Inlander stories of the year in this week's newspaper along with the most popular print stories, blog posts and other highlights online.


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Staff Picks: Young Kwak's photos of 2013

Posted By on Tue, Dec 31, 2013 at 11:45 AM

It was quite a busy year. I photographed everything from beekeepers trying to maintain their way of life to aviation students to a high energy fashion show. Looking at the past and glimpsing into the future, I photographed an iconic downtown sign being removed. It was later restored and replaced. Some young people struggled to figure out how to make a better future for themselves while others were busy filming their way to stardom. Spokanites went to shows, beat each other up on roller skates and saw their hometown college team ranked No. 1 for the first time. I ended the year halfway around the world at a military base, photographing the lives of our deployed service members.

Rhodes Crane & Rigging, Inc.'s Roger Baker uses a Grove Worldwide RT64C to remove a sign from the Washington Water Power building on Aug. 28. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Rhodes Crane & Rigging, Inc.'s Roger Baker uses a Grove Worldwide RT64C to remove a sign from the Washington Water Power building on Aug. 28.
During filming of an episode of Transolar Galactica on Aug. 3, camera operator Shaun Springer, center, shoots an insert shot of Regina (Crystal Pointek), right, as director Adam Harum looks on. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • During filming of an episode of Transolar Galactica on Aug. 3, camera operator Shaun Springer, center, shoots an insert shot of Regina (Crystal Pointek), right, as director Adam Harum looks on.
Matthew Shakespear, Olson's Honey field supervisor, inspects a frame from a bee hive in Moses Lake on July 24. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Matthew Shakespear, Olson's Honey field supervisor, inspects a frame from a bee hive in Moses Lake on July 24.
Agwa Taka, who came to the United States as a refugee from his home country Ethiopia 27 years ago, poses for a photograph at his house in March. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Agwa Taka, who came to the United States as a refugee from his home country Ethiopia 27 years ago, poses for a photograph at his house in March.
Bloomsday runners cross the Monroe Street Bridge, photographed from the roof of the City Hall, on May 5. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Bloomsday runners cross the Monroe Street Bridge, photographed from the roof of the City Hall, on May 5.
FAUS performs at Carr's Corner during Volume, the Inlander's annual music festival, on June 1. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • FAUS performs at Carr's Corner during Volume, the Inlander's annual music festival, on June 1.
Gonzaga University's Kevin Pangos, center, grabs a loose ball during the second half of an NCAA basketball game against Pepperdine University at the McCarthy Athletic Center on Feb. 7. Gonzaga won 82-56. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Gonzaga University's Kevin Pangos, center, grabs a loose ball during the second half of an NCAA basketball game against Pepperdine University at the McCarthy Athletic Center on Feb. 7. Gonzaga won 82-56.
Ariel St. Clair walks the runway during "Mademoiselle," produced by Olive + Boone and held at The White Room on Aug. 22. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Ariel St. Clair walks the runway during "Mademoiselle," produced by Olive + Boone and held at The White Room on Aug. 22.
Dillon Green skates behind his mixed breed dog, Katara, past Macy's in downtown Spokane on Sept. 26. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Dillon Green skates behind his mixed breed dog, Katara, past Macy's in downtown Spokane on Sept. 26.
Part of the "SPOMa: Spokane Modern Architecture" exhibit at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture: An Alvar Aalto Black Stool No. 602 (1954); Armchair No. 402 (1933); and "Moon Swallowing the Sea" (1961), a painting by Gaylen Hansen. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Part of the "SPOMa: Spokane Modern Architecture" exhibit at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture: An Alvar Aalto Black Stool No. 602 (1954); Armchair No. 402 (1933); and "Moon Swallowing the Sea" (1961), a painting by Gaylen Hansen.
Roger "Hop Along Hoot" Sherman fires his Hartford 92 rifle during a Windy Plains Drifters match in Medical Lake on July 13. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Roger "Hop Along Hoot" Sherman fires his Hartford 92 rifle during a Windy Plains Drifters match in Medical Lake on July 13.
Senior David J. Darrow, 18, at Shadle Park High School, would like to attend the Oxarc welding school, but doesn't know how he will come up with the $10,000 tuition. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Senior David J. Darrow, 18, at Shadle Park High School, would like to attend the Oxarc welding school, but doesn't know how he will come up with the $10,000 tuition.
Lengua tacos from Tacos Tumbras are photographed for the Dining Out Guide. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Lengua tacos from Tacos Tumbras are photographed for the Dining Out Guide.
Student Brett Didier installs safety wiring onto a fuel control unit for a PT6A engine at the Spokane Community College Aviation Maintenance Technology facility at Felts Field on Nov. 21. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Student Brett Didier installs safety wiring onto a fuel control unit for a PT6A engine at the Spokane Community College Aviation Maintenance Technology facility at Felts Field on Nov. 21.
Shirley Harman, left, and Rick Smith dance to music played by Swing Street during the Thursday Night Dance  at the Southside Senior & Community Center on Aug. 8. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Shirley Harman, left, and Rick Smith dance to music played by Swing Street during the Thursday Night Dance at the Southside Senior & Community Center on Aug. 8.
Naomi "Sweetart" Weitz and the Spokannibals at their practice facility on April 18. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Naomi "Sweetart" Weitz and the Spokannibals at their practice facility on April 18.
Kalispel Tribe of Indians Vice Chair Ray Pierre III, left, helps his 8-year-old son Ezra fish along the Pend Oreille River on the Kalispel Reservation on April 21. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Kalispel Tribe of Indians Vice Chair Ray Pierre III, left, helps his 8-year-old son Ezra fish along the Pend Oreille River on the Kalispel Reservation on April 21.
Rick McHenry removes items that don't belong from a bale of paper at Waste Management's SMaRT Center in Spokane on April 10. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Rick McHenry removes items that don't belong from a bale of paper at Waste Management's SMaRT Center in Spokane on April 10.
A Horizon Air Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 takes off from Spokane International Airport on Nov. 22. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • A Horizon Air Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 takes off from Spokane International Airport on Nov. 22.
Boom Operator Senior Airman Dave Fernandez, of the 376th Expeditionary Operations Group, refuels an F-16 from a KC-135 over northern Afghanistan on Dec. 14. Fernandez's home unit is based at Fairchild Air Force Base. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Boom Operator Senior Airman Dave Fernandez, of the 376th Expeditionary Operations Group, refuels an F-16 from a KC-135 over northern Afghanistan on Dec. 14. Fernandez's home unit is based at Fairchild Air Force Base.

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MORNING BRIEFING: Rapist Coe sues, megaloads return and ringing in 2014

Posted By on Tue, Dec 31, 2013 at 9:05 AM

HERE

South Hill rapist Kevin Coe files suit in federal court, seeking release from indefinite incarceration at McNeil Island. (S-R)

Repeat offender with 29 previous convictions facing charges over 16 stolen bicycles from North Division Bike Shop. (KXLY)

Moses Lake police officer shoots and kills man after responding to a disturbance. (Columbia Basin Herald)

Two allegedly drunken drivers managed to crash into each other Sunday in Coeur d'Alene. Both now face charges. (CDA Press)

THERE

Megaloads of oil production equipment continue creeping through Idaho this week. (Idaho Statesman)

Washington state's population increased by 3.7 percent in 2013, making us the seventh fastest growing state. (Seattle Times)

The future of drone testing in Oregon. (Oregonian)

ELSEWHERE

North Dakota town forced to evacuate after crude oil train explodes. No injuries reported. (Minn. Star-Tribune)

Release of three detainees demonstrates challenges to shutting down Guantanamo Bay prison. (NY Times)

Happy New Year's Eve: Celebrations ringing in 2014 have already started on the other side of the world. (BBC)
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Monday, December 30, 2013

Zag Watch: End of the year edition

Posted By on Mon, Dec 30, 2013 at 4:50 PM

The Zags can't wait to get their students back in a couple of weeks. It's too damn quiet in the Kennel without them. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
  • Young Kwak photo
  • The Zags can't wait to get their students back in a couple of weeks. It's too damn quiet in the Kennel without them.

Tonight's matchup against San Francisco (6 pm tipoff, televised locally on KHQ) marks the last Gonzaga men's basketball game of a memorable (mostly) 2013 for the Zags. They went to No. 1 back in March, then a few weeks later, this happened. And now they've won 11 games to finish out the 2013 portion of the 2013-14 campaign.

But here's how things stand in Zagland at the end of the calendar year. Warning — there's some bad news ahead.

OUCH!

Compared to other successful basketball programs, I've always felt like Gonzaga has been shockingly immune to injuries. This year, that is hardly true.

Sam Dower Jr. missed Saturday night's game after falling on his back super hard against Kansas St. He's been positive about the injury, but it's uncertain whether or not he'll be playing tonight. He's not listed as a starter — that much is sure.
Speaking of pain, Gary Bell, Jr. injured his hand on Saturday night. And now the news has gotten worse — the hand is broken and it looks like the fiery guard will be out for a while.

Kevin Pangos hasn't missed any games, but his toe is bothering him. Don't laugh. Go try to jump if your big toe hurts. It's incredibly hard and you could tell that Pangos was in pain against Santa Clara on Saturday night. After getting some medical attention, though, he returned to the game to help the Zags pull it out against the Broncos.

QUIET TIME

There was something missing from Saturday night's game in the McCarthey Center against Santa Clara. What was it? Oh yeah, the 1,200 bonkers-to-quite-bonkers undergraduates you see bouncing gleefully on one entire side of the court. It's still Christmas Break and the students won't be back for another week. And their absence is hard to miss.

Damn, was it quiet in the Kennel last week and that may have contributed to an uncharacteristically slow start for the Zags, who struggled to pull away from Santa Clara.

If you're going to the game, you might want to down a Red Bull or something before taking your seat. They need some energy. I mean, I think the loudest people in my section on Saturday were the nuns who cheered on the squad while wearing habits and everything.

THE WOMEN'S TURN

The men's team has the luxury of playing its first four conference games of the season at home. That's not the case with the women Zags, who have to play their first three games on the road.

And the time away from the Kennel didn't start off well. The Zags fell 78-79 to Saint Mary's in overtime on Friday, despite 31 points from Haiden Palmer.


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CAT FRIDAY: Monday edition update on the Internet Cat Video Film Fest

Regretfully, but by no fault of hers, Lil BUB won't be visiting the Lilac City next month.

Posted By on Mon, Dec 30, 2013 at 3:48 PM

It really was too good to be true, but we can't fault BUB for it. The tiny cat from Bloomington, Indiana won't be making an appearance in Spokane, nor Boise or Seattle, when the Internet Cat Video Film Festival comes to town, on Jan. 16. 

The news came this past Saturday, when BUB answered a fan's question on her blog about a special appearance she was said to be making in Spokane as part of the event, held at the Knitting Factory concert venue. 
Screen_shot_2013-12-30_at_2.46.47_PM.png

Her response (right) explains exactly what happened better than I could. While cat lovers and fans of BUB should be glad to know this turn of events comes by no fault of hers, we're still understandably disappointed. Some planning to attend the Spokane event have even commented on the Knitting Factory's Facebook event page that they'd like a refund for their tickets, saying the only reason they were willing to shell out $20 was for the chance to see BUB in person. 

But the main question that remains unanswered: why was a BUB appearance promoted so heavily by the venue (and thus by me in an excitement-gushing Cat Friday post following the announcement) if BUB and her dude, owner Mike Bridavsky, hadn't even been informed, let alone asked to come?

I exchanged emails earlier today with Bridavsky to confirm that the pair indeed wouldn't be attending the festival screening. I also reached out to the Knitting Factory's Boise-based marketing director, Jeni Williams, who hasn't yet returned my call inquiring about the miscommunication.

In an email to me this afternoon, Bridavsky writes: 
"I too am really disappointed about how this all turned out, and most of all upset that so many BUB fans are upset about it. Honestly, it kind of sucks. And I'm hoping maybe this piece could explain to people why and how this happened, and that it was totally out of my hands (and BUB's paws) — BUB was being advertised and promoted as a guest before I even had responded to the request to be a part of the event."

Bridavsky also told me that the Internet Cat Video Film Festival's creator, Scott Stulen, with the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, wasn't involved in the announcement made that BUB was coming to the screening here. I've also reached out directly to Stulen.

As we learn more from the event's promotors and organizers, I'll keep everyone updated.
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The most popular print stories of 2013

Posted By on Mon, Dec 30, 2013 at 1:46 PM

top-stories.jpg

We like to assume people read our stories in the print Inlander each week, but really we have no way to know. We can tell you which ones get the most hits online, though, and here they are. (We previously listed top searches and blog posts.)

Top print stories

1. Without a Trace: How do you find someone who disappears into thin air?

2. Writing the Next Age: Twenty years ago, Spokane’s Cyan released one of the most successful games ever. Then the story changed

3. America’s Team: Gonzaga is the top team in college basketball. How did that happen?

4. A Different Beat: The No. 1 song in America. A world tour. Overnight fame. Ryan Lewis is just getting started

5. One Love: As 16-year-old Lorissa Green lay dying, her grieving mother started a letter to the people whose lives Lorissa would forever change

6. Wonder Women: A fight about sexism in geek culture goes a lot deeper than scantily-clad superheroes

7. Spokane Brewery Guide

8. America’s Pastime: Phish isn’t a baseball team, but their fans sure act like they are

9. Their Own Private Idaho: How Kootenai County became “the most Republican county in the most Republican state in the nation”

10. Man vs. Wolf: Loved and hated, the gray wolf finds itself a target for hunters as advocates call for continued protection

11. Bar History: Uncovering the storied past of the Park Inn, one of Spokane’s oldest restaurants

12. Silence of the Hives: America’s honey bees are dying in droves, and colony collapse disorder is the least of our worries

13. Our Kids, Our Problem: Who are Spokane’s “street kids” and what do they need?

14. Born This Way: A Spokane Valley kid turns heads with his image and inspires people around the globe

15. Trail of Questions: A University of Idaho freshman wanders out of town and never returns

Top stories from previous years

Some of the stories with the most page views in 2013 were written as long ago as 2011. It didn’t seem fair to put them in the regular rankings, so here are the top posts from previous years:

1. Blood Money: In lean times, people tap a renewable resource: their own plasma

2. Guy Fieri Eats Spokane: Behind the scenes of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives: Inland Northwest edition

3. The People Left Behind: When a 13-year-old dies, a whole community is left searching for answers

4. Back on the Block: Why last month’s spa raids may put more prostitutes on the street

5. The Meat Grinder: When the debt-collection machine comes for its pound of flesh


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What We've Been... listening to

Posted By on Mon, Dec 30, 2013 at 12:30 PM

Each week we print For Your Consideration, a feature where we take turns telling you about worthwhile stuff we’ve been reading, watching, listening to, etc. Now we’re trying the inverse: Each Monday we have a single topic with recommendations from several Inlander staffers. Read previous posts here.

water-monster.jpg

With local indie-rock band Cathedral Pearls on some sort of (hopefully not permanent) hiatus as two of its members launch the city's newest music venue, The Bartlett, I've been counting on Spotify to get my fix. So when I heard that CP member Max Harnishfeger had started his own electronic project, Water Monster, I was eager to check it out. In a house show environment at the last Collect Secret Show, Harnishfeger played an all acoustic set — "put the beats in your head," he told us — which was dazzling in its own right, but I soon went searching for the full sound. There's only one Water Monster song on Soundcloud, "Take Me Back (Demo)," but the distortion, Harnishfeger's haunting vocals and, yes, "the beats" have been perfect for these foggy winter days.

— HEIDI GROOVER


white-lighter.jpg

For the past few weeks, the new album from Portland-based Typhoon has dominated my headphones. Released in August, White Lighter combines a songwriter's intimacy with the soaring dynamics of a symphony. Frontman Kyle Morton traces a thin line through mortality and heartache while the 10 other band members — using a wide array of percussion, keyboards, horns and other instruments — push the melodies into grand, sweeping arrangements of thunder and catharsis. I first heard Morton while listening to this excellent recording of "Atlantic City" on an online album of Springsteen covers. The song is a duet between Morton and Danielle Sullivan of Wild Ones. Lucky for Spokane, both Typhoon and Wild Ones have shows scheduled at The Bartlett in the coming month. So give them a listen.

While I was searching through Typhoon's label, Tender Loving Empire, for more music, I also recently stumbled upon The Weather Machine, whose song "Back O'er Oregon" can be pretty addicting. The six-piece Portland folk group put out a debut, self-titled album earlier this year with some catchy arrangements and entertaining songs about undead skeleton kings. They've recently started working on a second album, but for now just squirrel "Back O'er Oregon" away for your next West Coast roadtrip.

— JACOB JONES


marshall-mclean-glossolalia-cover.png

There are albums you like, and there are albums you can leave playing continuously in the car for multiple months without going crazy or even really thinking about swapping it out. The new Marshall McLean Band CD, Glossolalia, is the latter. Last week we briefly poked around on the radio looking for Christmas tunes, and that’s when I realized we’d been idly listening to Glossolalia pretty much every minute on the road since mid-November. And you know what? All that repetition mostly makes me feel sorry for anyone driving across some frozen, scrubby stretch of the Inland Northwest without listening to it.

— LISA WAANANEN


future-islands.jpg

We all know the romantic feeling that accompanies discovering an epic new (to you) band/artist, and then said band’s work becomes your favorite, go-to music to listen to 24/7, for 3-plus months. Your spirits are instantly lifted when you hear one of their songs, and down the road, whenever you hear them you’re transported back to the 3-month period when they were all you listened to. That’s exactly what happened to me when I discovered Future Islands. They’re not a new band by any stretch (the group’s members originally started making music together back in 2003), but in today’s oversaturated world of online music discovering new sound is easy and challenging all at once. The Baltimore-based synth pop outfit is everything I love in music — catchy hooks, pounding rhythms, belting vocals and swelling synths. Not to mention that I have a softness for untraditional-sounding male vocalists (in the style of the Decemberists’ Colin Meloy, Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock, Cold War Kids’ Nathan Willett, etc.), and Future Island frontman Samuel T. Herring’s rich, sometimes nasally, other times gravelly, bellow fits the bill perfectly in my mind. Start out with Future Island’s most recent record (2011), On the Water, which includes the memorable tracks “Balance” and “Give Us the Wind.”

— CHEY SCOTT


DizzyHeights_478-220x223.jpg

His new album doesn't come out here until Feb. 11, but Neil Finn had my undivided attention as 2013 came to an end. For close to 40 years, the pride of Te Awamutu, New Zealand, has been a standard-bearer for thoughtful, literate pop that's anything but disposable as a member of Split Enz and Crowded House, through collaborations with older brother/Enz founder Tim and numerous side projects, and for the past 15 years as a solo artist. Dizzy Heights, his first solo effort in more than a decade, continues a long tradition of bittersweet, offbeat songwriting, featuring otherworldly melodies and harmonies and hooks that move into your head and take up residence. Live and studio versions of more than half of the album's 11 tracks have surfaced online; so far, the highlight is "White Lies and Alibis," a gorgeous, wistful five minutes of simple, orchestral pop that stands with the best work this Kiwi icon has ever released.

— MICHAEL MAHONEY


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MORNING BRIEFING: Local airman killed, Russia bombings and NYT Benghazi report

Posted By on Mon, Dec 30, 2013 at 9:05 AM

HERE

Sandpoint Air Force officer killed in bombing Friday in Afghanistan. (S-R)

Recall effort moves forward against Lake Pend Oreille School Board chairman who proposed arming teachers. (AP via KREM)

Man reportedly shoots himself in the hand while riding his bike through Hillyard. (KHQ)

THERE

Former judge in Walla Walla charged with possession of child pornography. (Union-Bulletin)

Microsoft to undergo many changes and launch new projects in coming year. (Seattle Times)

Montana senators asking for delay in review of Minuteman III nuclear missile silos. (AP via Missoulian)

ELSEWHERE

Bombings strike Russia as Winter Olympic Games approach in February. (BBC)

Feds announce drone research sites in six states. Washington and Idaho are not among them. (AP)

Extensive New York Times report unearths new details of Benghazi attack. (NY Times)
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Saturday, December 28, 2013

The most popular blog posts of 2013

Posted By on Sat, Dec 28, 2013 at 9:15 PM

top-posts.jpg

Even though it’s not quite the end of the year, we’ll go ahead and call it anyway — here are the Inlander blog posts with the most hits in 2013. Popularity doesn’t necessarily correspond with quality, but it’s still interesting to see what other people are reading. (We previously listed top searches; we’ll do top print stories next.)

Top blog posts

1. How to pronounce rapper Macklemore’s name

2. How Breaking Bad redeemed its worst mistakes

3. Does I-522 really still have a chance?

4. The Blue Spark bar closes after 14 years

5. Isamu Jordan, local hip-hop artist and music journalist, has died

6. KREM2 'slow and slutty' weather blooper goes viral

7. Cougs win and still embarrass themselves with #MeganCoghlanSucks

8. Check out Google's parachute doodle of the day

9. KHQ removes "johns list"

10. A peek at the $395 micro-apartments planned for the Ridpath

11. Macklemore riding a scooter in Spokane

12. Spokane Police chief shuts down Knitting Factory over recent violence

13. Pearl Jam gives the keys to Steve Gleason in Spokane

14. Spokane native Cami Bradley advances on America's Got Talent

15. Circumcision protester targets South Hill pediatrics clinic

You can see the posts that got the most online comments here.

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Friday, December 27, 2013

Federal judge will not block Idaho wolf-hunting derby

Posted By on Fri, Dec 27, 2013 at 5:10 PM

A federal judge today declined to issue a restraining order to block a wolf- and coyote-hunting derby scheduled for this weekend in Central Idaho, ruling environmental groups offered little evidence of potentially unlawful activity or irreparable harm.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale rejected arguments from Wild Earth Guardians and other wildlife groups aimed at forcing the cancellation of the two-day derby, which offers $2,000 in cash and other prizes for the largest and most animals killed.
YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak

"While plaintiffs [environmental groups] and others may find the concept of a derby and prizes being awarded for the killing of animals repugnant, hunting is a lawful activity in Idaho," Dale writes in her Dec. 27 order ." The derby advertisement states that hunters will be required to comply with Idaho state law."

Organized by the sportsman group Idaho for Wildlife, the derby announced it would award a $1,000 prize for the largest wolf taken and $1,000 for the most coyotes killed. The derby would be based out of Salmon, Idaho, from Saturday through Sunday.

Environmental groups had argued the derby required a special use permit to comply with U.S. Forest Service regulations, but the USFS had decided not to enforce the permit requirement. Rules require a special use permit for any commercial activity with an entry or participation fee, or any gathering of more than 75 people. 

On that basis, environmental groups requested a temporary restraining order, blocking the derby until it complied  with special use permitting and underwent an environmental impact review. (Read the entire complaint: Wolf Derby Complaint.pdf )

Dale concluded the derby did not have to comply with the permit regulations because the derby registration, judging and prize awarding would take place on private property in Salmon. Only the hunting, which is lawful, might occur on public land.

Derby organizers also dropped the entry fee when environmental groups raised the issue of the special permit.

The judge also rejected arguments that the derby would promote a more concentrated, more competitive population of hunters, who might be more aggressive or endanger other people recreating on public lands.

"Plaintiff's declarations provide only generalized fears regarding their safety, the safety of others, and the safety of the environment that is no different than what may occur during any use of the forest," Dale writes. "There is insufficient evidence that the competitive nature of the derby will alter or interfere with the ability of law enforcement (both state and federal) to enforce the hunting laws, and the regulations regarding use of the forest."

Wolf hunting has proven extremely controversial in Idaho. Noting the regional quota for wolf kills had not yet been reached, Dale also found little evidence that more wolves could be killed during the derby than would still be allowed under the quota. And there is no quota for how many coyotes may be killed.

"For the reasons set forth above," the judge finishes, "the Court concludes that Plaintiffs have not met their burden for the issuance of a temporary restraining order."
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