Thursday, March 26, 2015

Idaho Leg votes to kills historic horse race machines, possibly kills horse racing

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 4:38 PM

Greyhound Park Event Center manager Doug Okuniewicz testifies in a March 11 hearing on "historical horse racing."
  • Greyhound Park Event Center manager Doug Okuniewicz testifies in a March 11 hearing on "historical horse racing."

Today, the Idaho House of Representatives voted 49-21 to send a bill to the governor repealing the law that legalized "historical horse race" machines. 

By the end, Greyhound Park Event Center manager Doug Okuniewicz, after arguing that Idaho's "historical horse racing" machines were significantly different than casino slot machines, shifted tactics. 

Okuniewicz began arguing that the machines were so similar to the "tribal gaming" slot-style bingo machines on the Idaho's American Indian reservations, as for the state's ban on imitation slot-machines to apply to both types. 

“We’re either both OK or we’re both wrong,” he said. “The spinning reels have absolutely nothing to do with the game outcome. They’re simply there for entertainment.... The way our games work is in some respects, almost identical."

Tribal gaming, run by sovereign nations, are regulated through an entirely different set of regulations, such as the Indian Gaming Act and the state gaming contracts with the state, laid out in Idaho code. 

But ultimately, the opposition to historical horse racing was pretty overwhelming. Many legislators felt duped when they approved them in 2013. "What was represented to them then was not clearly what was represented now," Rep. Melissa Wintrow said in the hearing. 

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On Bergdahl, Rep. Raúl Labrador straddles a wide partisan divide

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 1:09 PM

Bowe Bergdahl, formerly of Hailey, Idaho, has become a lightning rod for conservative critics. But not for Rep. Raúl Labrador.
  • Bowe Bergdahl, formerly of Hailey, Idaho, has become a lightning rod for conservative critics. But not for Rep. Raúl Labrador.

Typically, the return of an American soldier from enemy captivity doesn't become a bitter partisan issue. 

But the tale of Bowe Bergdahl, former Hailey, Idaho, resident, is not a typical one. From the moment the terms of his release came out – five Taliban prisoners for one American soldier – the tone shifted dramatically. Complaints that Congress hadn’t been involved in the decision, criticism from fellow soldiers, and the recent decision by the Army to charge him with desertion and misbehavior in front of the enemy has created a serious divide.

Liberals are arguing that America’s commitment to its troops should be absolute, that it doesn’t matter how he fell into the hands of the enemy, we have a duty to bring them home. They point to the agony of his grieving family. And they show his brutal, stream-of-consciousness letter Bergdahl wrote detailing his captivity. He was kept in a cage, shackled, and in the dark, his hands oozing pus, and starved.

“During the five years, I unsuccessfully tried to escape approximately 12 times,” Bergdahl writes. To liberals, he’s already suffered enough.

But conservatives are furious. They feel Bergdahl betrayed his unit by deserting it, and blame him for the deaths of six of his fellow soldiers. Despite comments by U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (a former Marine) and a military defense attorney suggesting that his captivity could count as “time served,” some conservatives pilloried even raising the question as biased idiocy.

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Washington fire chiefs to railroad company: We want more info on oil trains

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 11:15 AM

As we wrote in last week’s paper, the Washington State Legislature is currently considering two competing bills meant to address the safety concerns presented by the influx of oil trains passing through Washington in recent years. Spokane, which is the only urban center these trains pass through on their way to western Washington, faces particular risks if one these trains were to derail and explode.

Each bill would require varying degrees of transparency for rail companies that transport oil through the state so that first-responders would be better prepared in the event of a disaster.

The Washington Fire Chiefs, an association representing fire-fighting agencies across the state, isn’t waiting for a bill to become law and has directly asked BNSF, a rail company that moves large amounts of oil across the state every day, for more information.

The letter (obtained by OilCheckNW and shared with the Inlander) signed by Wayne Senter, the executive director of WFC, to BNSF cites several recent derailments of oil trains, including an infamous derailment in 2013 in Lac-Megantic, Canada, that killed 47 people. The letter also mentions how in July of last year, three tanker cars derailed at a rail yard under Seattle’s Magnolia Bridge, which could have been disastrous.

“ The WFC is well aware that even if an infinite amount of foam was available, we can only provide defensive firefighting,” reads the letter, which goes on to state:
Normally we would be able to assess the hazard through right-to-know and other public documents; however, your industry has sought and gained exemptions to these sunshine laws. This exemption does not mean that your industry is exempt from taking reasonable steps to ensure catastrophic incidents do not occur. To that end, we are specifically requesting access to your information on what the US DOT calls High Hazard Flammable Trains operating most frequently with “unit trains” averaging 100 rail cars each, as well as on “manifest trains” with 10-20 cars of these cargoes that travel through the state of Washington. 
In the letter, WCF requests from BNSF the following:

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Adventurous films and an arena-rocker brings the twang

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 10:32 AM

Happy Thursday, people! Fire up the weekend a little early by checking out the event listings and Staff Picks always loaded with good things for your consideration. 

Here are some highlights for Thursday, March 26: 

FILM/SPORTS & OUTDOORS | The Jepson Center at Gonzaga is welcoming adventurers Casey Gannon and Colin Arisman for a presentation of their film Only The Essential: Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, made during a five-month trip they made with cameras rolling. Here's a look at the trailer: 

Trailer 1: Only The Essential - Hiking the PCT from Colin Arisman on Vimeo.

FILM | The Magic Lantern is hosting a screening of From Spokane With Love, a home-grown documentary about five Spokane residents who travel to dispel myths about Iran and the Middle East. 

LIVE BANDS | Staind leader Aaron Lewis hits Northern Quest on his solo tour, playing hits from both his country and rock stylings. 
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MB: Bergdahl charged with desertion, German plane crash intentional?

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 9:56 AM


Idaho Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was charged yesterday with desertion and misbehavior in front of enemies — he could face life in prison. (Spokesman-Review) 

A man who broke into and robbed Chaps restaurant last month has been arrested. Christopher Cannata has a long criminal past, with 31 felony convictions. (KXLY) 

EWU Eagles' national scoring leader Tyler Harvey plans to look into his NBA options before deciding whether to return for his senior season. (Inlander)


An investigation into the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 suggests the co-pilot may have intentionally crashed the plane. (CNN)

A rare bipartisan bill that would bring major changes to Medicare — including paying doctors based on their performance — could add more than $140 billion to the federal budget deficit over the coming decades. (New York Times)

The former home of Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza has been demolished. (CNN)
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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

"Pranksters" run plastic wrap across I-90 in Idaho

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 4:55 PM

April first came a bit early this year.

Shoshone County deputies are looking for the "pranksters" responsible for stretching plastic wrap across a stretch of Interstate-90 in Wallace, Idaho, about an hour and 20 minutes east of Spokane. 

Deputies and Idaho State Police were called to the Shiplett overpass on I-90 a little after midnight March 22. Vehicles had been running into bands of plastic wrap anchored to the bases of the overpass, says Sargent David Kale of the Shoshone County Sheriff's Office. At least one windshield shattered after smacking into the noxious plastic.

The hooligans were at it again the following night, when they were spotted by members of the Idaho Transportation Department. They fled in a car before law enforcement could arrive, and the only description ITD could give was "dark clothes" and "flashlights."

"This is serious enough that if a motorcycle goes through, there's the potential of a fatality," Sargent Kale says. "We're working on some leads now."  
And we'll update this post when we know more. 
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EWU's Tyler Harvey considering the NBA draft

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 4:15 PM


Tyler Harvey, who has progressed from walk-on to national scoring leader at Eastern Washington, will explore his NBA options before deciding whether to return for his senior season with the Eagles.

Eastern coach Jim Hayford told the Inlander on Wednesday afternoon that Harvey will seek an evaluation of his draft status from the NBA next month before making a decision.

“His plans at this time are to return to Eastern,” Hayford said.

Harvey’s decision could be complicated if Hayford does not return. Hayford may draw interest from other schools after guiding the Eagles to a 26-9 season, regular-season (shared) and tournament titles in the Big Sky Conference and the second NCAA tournament appearance in school history.

Asked if he’s been pursued by any schools, Hayford would only say, “I love the job I have right now. That’s all I’m talking about.”

Chad Ford, the NBA draft expert of ESPN, lists Harvey as the 41st-best prospect for this year’s draft. The draft involves 30 players in each of the two rounds. Only first-round picks are automatically guaranteed money, but second-round picks can negotiate for guaranteed money.

“My advice to Tyler is if there’s guaranteed money going into the NBA draft, I think he should do that,” Hayford said. “If not, let’s go have a great senior year and improve your position in the draft for the following year. I have nothing but Tyler’s best interest in mind.”

After Harvey scored 27 points in a loss to Georgetown in the NCAA tournament last week, Ford wrote that NBA teams “will give him a long look in the first round. Harvey graduates this spring, so he could make the leap to the NBA if he wants to. Given how hot his draft stock is right now, it probably would be a very good idea.”

Graduating early also would permit Harvey to transfer to another Division I school without sitting out a year, which the NCAA requires of most transfers between Division I schools. Harvey, an Academic All-American, told the Inlander last week that he is not interested in transferring.

Hayford was the only coach who recruited Harvey out of high school. The two were headed to NCAA Division III Whitworth in Spokane before Hayford left the Pirates to take the Eastern job four years ago. Hayford agreed to give Harvey a scholarship at Eastern after he paid his own way the first year while redshirting to add strength and weight to his once-skinny body.

Harvey is now listed at 6 feet, 4 inches and 185 pounds. The Torrance, Calif., native leads NCAA Division I with 23.1 points and 4.0 3-point field goals per game and ranks 14th in 3-point shooting percentage at 43.1.

The only NBA player produced by Eastern was guard Rodney Stuckey, who starred at Kentwood High School in Kent. Stuckey averaged 24.6 points as a redshirt sophomore at Eastern in 2006-07, then was drafted 15th overall by Detroit. Now with Indiana, Stuckey has averaged 13.4 points in eight NBA seasons.
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WW: Home-growing pot will probably remain illegal, marijuana arrests down in CO and pot's energy use

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 3:56 PM

Welcome back to Weed Wednesday, your weekly dose of pot news. Wondering what this is about? Click. Looking for our previous marijuana coverage? Click. Got a question or tip? Email me at [email protected]

Four states and the District of Columbia have all legalized marijuana. But Washington state is the only one of these states that doesn’t allow people to grow their own crop - and that’s not likely to change any time soon.

The Washington State Legislature is likely going to pass a sweeping overhaul to the state’s pot laws, putting the relatively freewheeling medical marijuana market under the much more restrictive recreational market. But the bill leaves out one provision that some lawmakers think is much needed: the ability for Washingtonians to grow their own crop.

Earlier in the session, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle introduced a bill that would have comprehensively reformed the state’s pot laws, including language that would have allowed Washingtonians 21 and older to grow six plants and give up to an ounce to someone else (which they can’t currently).

However, Kohl-Welles' bill ended up stalling in the Republican-controlled Senate, where a competing bill from Sen. Anne Rivers, R- La Center, moved forward. Although Rivers bill is starting to increasingly resemble Kohl-Welles’ bill, it still doesn’t include a grow-your-own provision.

Kohl-Welles has introduced a bill that will explicitly allow people to cultivate their own stash. The preamble to the legislation points out that people can brew their own beer or make their own wine, but can't grow their own pot. But don’t break out the gardening supplies yet. Bills introduced this late in the session typically don’t go anywhere.

Here’s the news elsewhere:

Surprise! Since 2010, marijuana arrests in Colorado have gone down by 90 percent, according to a report from the Drug Policy Alliance. Despite having legalized pot, there are still some things that are illegal in Colorado (i.e. smoking in public) and these mostly petty charges persist for black people when compared to their white counterparts, according to the report.

In Ohio, a marijuana legalization campaign will begin collecting signatures.

Get ready for medical marijuana in Georgia.

New study: Growing marijuana uses up a lot of energy.

Remember Charlo Greene, the Alaska TV reporter who said a curse word and quit on air so she could focus her efforts on her medical marijuana club? Well, that club got raided.

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“The right thing:” Better Call Saul’s a morality play set in a world that feels unjust

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 2:38 PM

It's not easy losing green.
  • It's not easy losing green.

In the world of Breaking Bad and its prequel series Better Call Saul, bad things happen to bad people. They get blown up and poisoned and crushed by cars and choked and shot by machine guns.

But the thing about the Breaking Bad universe is that bad things happen to bad people even when they do good things.

Jimmy McGill knows this well. Jimmy, the future Saul Goodman, is not a good man. Not really. He has a long history as “Slippin’ Jimmy,” a small time con artist. He fakes his own heroism to draw clients. He ropes a kid into jumping in front of a car to try to cheat a woman out of her husband’s embezzled money. And takes money from the same woman to stay quiet.

But where Breaking Bad was a story of Walter White’s constant, nearly superhuman ability to self-justify his own increasingly evil actions, Jimmy recognizes his moral failings. He tries to fight against them in the manner of Rocky’s first bout with Apollo Creed – bloody, battered, but still rising to his feet. Having seen Breaking Bad, we know he doesn’t get a knockout victory over his worst self.

We’re just rooting for him to go the distance.

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Think you know Spokane-area movies? Take this quiz!

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 12:08 PM

Select a movie on each slide that was filmed in or around the Spokane area.

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