Friday, October 13, 2017

Fairchild team seamlessly runs a gas station at 22,000 feet

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 11:23 AM

Staff Sgt. Travis Peirce operates the boom at the back of a KC-135 Stratotanker, refueling a Thunderbird fighter jet over Nevada on Thursday, Oct. 12. - SAMANTHA WOHLFEIL PHOTO
  • Samantha Wohlfeil photo
  • Staff Sgt. Travis Peirce operates the boom at the back of a KC-135 Stratotanker, refueling a Thunderbird fighter jet over Nevada on Thursday, Oct. 12.

On our slow descent back to Fairchild Air Force Base after refueling the Thunderbirds show fighter planes mid-flight above Nevada on Thursday morning, I ask the two pilots steering this KC-135 Stratotanker what it's like to fly the 1962-vintage plane.

"I like to think of these like a '60s muscle car – it doesn't turn very well, but it goes well in a straight line, and has a lot of power," says 1st Lt. Adam Less.

At every stage of this refueling flight, with local media tagging along to watch a mission normally run by just two pilots and a boom operator, there's a reminder of old mixing with new.

Hints of the plane's age are everywhere: the color of the mint-green insulation coating the tube-shaped body of the plane; the labels for gauges and switches in the cockpit, printed in the Futura font, popular at the time these planes were built; the bronze-gold color of the throttle. 

The thriftiness of maintaining these more than $40-million-apiece gas stations in the sky, which are stripped of paint, taken apart down to the bolts and rebuilt every five years, makes the contrast with the new more evident.

These old workhorses still manage to fuel planes incredibly quickly, without the need to land, which expands the military's ability to get planes anywhere around the globe in hours. Though the F-16 fighter jets fueled up on Thursday are part of the military's demonstration team, the Thunderbirds, they demonstrated how fast the fueling process can go.

Staff Sgt. Travis Peirce uses a chin rest and mirrors as he guides a fuel boom with two joysticks from the belly of a KC-135 on Thursday. - SAMANTHA WOHLFEIL PHOTO
  • Samantha Wohlfeil photo
  • Staff Sgt. Travis Peirce uses a chin rest and mirrors as he guides a fuel boom with two joysticks from the belly of a KC-135 on Thursday.

At 22,000 feet, the shiny, newer planes take turns sidling up to the underbelly of the KC-135, where boom operator Staff Sgt. Travis Peirce lays on his belly, ready to direct the boom the last few feet to contact with their receiving equipment and drop 3,000 pounds of fuel in what feels like the blink of an eye. Less than a minute after contact, each Thunderbird disconnects and the next in line gracefully moves over to fill up.

Peirce, who's been a boom operator for six years at Fairchild, and has at least another three years here, isn't fazed as reporters and photographers scramble down the steps, laying down on either side of him and snapping photos and video of the fueling as fast as they can.

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CONCERT ANNOUNCEMENT: "Weird Al" Yankovic to hit the Fox Theater in May

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 10:52 AM

"Weird Al" Yankovic will perform at the Fox Theater on May 27.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic will perform at the Fox Theater on May 27.

Parody artist and accordionist extraordinaire "Weird Al" Yankovic is hitting the road next year, and his tour will bring him to the Fox Theater on May 27. Yankovic last performed in the Inland Northwest in 2015; cult comedian Emo Philips is slated to open for him.

Billed as "The Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour," these upcoming shows will apparently be more intimate and scaled-down than Yankovic's typical shows — basically, don't expect him to bust out the latex suit from the "Fat" video. Interestingly, the set lists will apparently focus mostly on Yankovic's original compositions, which are often hilarious in their own right (check out "Midnight Star," "Albuquerque" or his Devo pastiche "Dare to Be Stupid," if you haven't already).

In the pantheon of parody musicians, Yankovic certainly reigns supreme. First gaining prominence through L.A. radio personality Dr. Demento, Yankovic became an unexpected  superstar in the early years of MTV, with the videos for "Like a Surgeon" and "Eat It" in heavy rotation. He's maintained his presence in the cultural zeitgeist since the '80s, parodying everyone from Coolio to Nirvana to Lady Gaga; his most recent album, 2014's Mandatory Fun, was his first to hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts.

Tickets for the Spokane show go on sale next Friday, Oct. 20 at noon, through the Fox's box office and all TicketsWest outlets.
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A death threat, another death threat, a snowy forecast, morning headlines

Posted By on Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 9:20 AM

We might be looking at another snowy Spokane winter. - DANIEL WALTERS PHOTO
  • Daniel Walters photo
  • We might be looking at another snowy Spokane winter.


Dry Fly, you fools
Dry Fly, the distiller of some of my favorite whiskey, is celebrating their 10th anniversary today. There will be drinking involved.

An A to Zika
InHealth: The Zika virus could be used to treat brain cancer — exactly the sort of crazy rogue medical treatment that Dr. Gregory House would use if he were still practicing medicine.

To catch a threatener
A Lake City High School student was arrested for making threats against other students on social media while posing with a gun.


A racist with a gun

A 66-year-old black man in Spokane grew up in the South in the Jim Crow era. But it was this week, in Spokane, when a racist is accused to pressing a gun against his nose and threatening to kill him. (Spokesman-Review)

Here we snow again
Weather patterns indicate that this winter might be another snow-packed doozy. (Spokesman-Review)

Ozzie's ambition

Despite his increasing tendency to weigh in on politics in the city of Spokane, County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich maintains he's not looking to run for mayor. (Spokesman-Review)

Pulling the rug out from under Obamacare
Certain Obamacare subsidies were already in legal jeopardy. But President Trump's decision to scrap subsidies for low-income people could put the law in serious danger. (New York Times)

Flag team
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has his staff fly a special little flag whenever he's in the building. (Washington Post)

Iran contrarianism
Trump hasn't killed the Iran nuclear deal yet — but he's trying to make it easier for himself to do so in the future. (The Atlantic)
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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Student arrested in connection with threats against Lake City High School

Posted By on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 4:45 PM

After a series of threats involving Lake City High School students on social media this week, Coeur d’Alene police arrested a student who posted a picture last night holding a rifle with a caption referencing a “threat list.”

Jared Reneau, spokesman for the Coeur d’Alene Police Department, says there have been three different incidents this week involving threats to Lake City High School students. On Friday and Saturday, a student posted a picture with a weapon with a “derogatory caption” about Lake City cheerleaders, according to Coeur d’Alene Public Schools. That student was identified and is facing disciplinary action, but he was not arrested, Reneau says.

Sunday night, a student reported to police that somebody on social media threatened to shoot her during school on Monday if she didn't send the anonymous suspect a nude photo. That investigation is ongoing, Reneau says.

Last night, police received a report that a person posted a photo of a Lake City student holding a rifle and referencing a “threat list.” That student was arrested Thursday afternoon. Reneau says that student was arrested because of the serious nature of the threats.

This morning, the school enacted policies banning cellphones and restricting students from leaving school. The cellphone policy is similar to the one put in place four years ago, says Coeur d’Alene Public Schools spokesman Scott Maben says. Students were not allowed to leave campus for lunch, and no Lake City High School student was allowed to leave the building before 2:30 pm.

“Due to the additional security measures we took today, students felt compelled to share enough information to enable investigators to identify the source of the most recent social media threats and make an arrest,” says Lake City principal Deanne Clifford.

The district has encouraged parents to talk to students about their use of social media apps like Snapchat and Sarahah. The extra security measures in place Thursday will continue Friday, the district says.

"We are seeing highly irresponsible and inappropriate behavior on social media used by many students, and the disruptive effect some of these posts are having on school operations cannot continue," Coeur d'Alene Public Schools says in a statement. "This needs to stop now, and we need your help to make that happen."

This post has been updated.
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ENTRÉE: Dry Fly celebrates 10 years, plus some fun beer events for the weekend

Posted By on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 2:48 PM

Dry Fly has been distilling hyper-local spirits since 2007.
  • Dry Fly has been distilling hyper-local spirits since 2007.

One of the region’s pioneers in the “drink local” movement is celebrating a full decade of bringing award-winning, ultra-local libations to bars near and far.

Dry Fly Distilling marks its big 10-year milestone officially this Friday, Oct. 13, but the party is happening all week with special events, small-batch, barrel-aged releases and discounts on purchases made at its East Spokane headquarters and tasting room, open Mon-Sat from noon-8 pm.

Lest you’ve forgotten, Dry Fly became the first distillery to open in Washington state since Prohibition (which ended in 1933) when founders Kent Fleischmann and Don Poffenroth pooled their retirement savings to open the craft distillery in 2007.

While festivities kicked off earlier this week, you can still join the celebration by stopping by the distillery’s tasting room between now and Saturday, Oct. 14. If you’re reading this information the day it’s released, Thursday, Oct. 12, you can still catch a pro bartender competition at the tasting room, taking place this evening from 6-8 pm.

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Zika virus could fight brain tumors; step up to help prevent suicide

Posted By on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 12:03 PM

The Zika virus, spread by mosquitoes, may carry an unexpected health benefit: combating the growth of brain tumors.
  • The Zika virus, spread by mosquitoes, may carry an unexpected health benefit: combating the growth of brain tumors.

Mosquitoes vs. brain tumors
By now you’ve heard of the dreadful Zika virus, spread by mosquitoes, that impairs growth of the developing fetal brain, leading to babies being born with undersized, misshapen heads. But the virus may have a surprising positive side: It seems that the same properties that cause Zika to impair growth in the developing brain may also allow it to impair growth of glioblastomas — the type of brain cancer that Arizona Sen. John McCain has, and one with an especially grim prognosis. Research is still preliminary, but brain tumors in mice shrank significantly when the mice were injected with the virus.

“Our research shows it also selectively targets and kills cancer stem cells, which tend to be resistant to standard treatments and a big reason why glioblastomas recur after surgery and result in shorter patient survival rates,” wrote one of the study’s authors.

The new issue of InHealth is out now, on stands and online.

Video games prepare brain to learn

Playing video games at least 15 hours a week may enhance learning, according to a fairly small but tantalizing new study. MRIs of brain activity of 17 regular gamers were compared to 17 non-gamers, as they completed a task that involved synthesizing and analyzing new information. “Our study shows that gamers are better in analyzing a situation quickly, to generate new knowledge and to categorize facts — especially in situations with high uncertainties," says one of the study's authors.

Playing video games seems to facilitate activity in the hippocampus, a brain region involved in learning and memory, and notably an area affected by age-related changes. Researchers speculate that someday video gaming might offer help to combat those changes.

Suicide: Step up and help out
Join with others to learn about how to help prevent suicide at a training session offered by Spokane-based FailSafe for Life. Participants will receive two hours of comprehensive training on how to recognize someone in crisis, what to say to help and where to turn for additional help, as well as information on stress and depression. A resource guide will be yours to keep; sandwiches and light refreshments will be served: Tickets are available here

FailSafe for Life was founded by Sabrina Votava, who not only has a degree in public health and a decade of work in suicide prevention, but has also experienced the tragedy of suicide through the loss of two brothers. The training session takes place on Wednesday, Oct. 18 from 6-8 pm at Providence Holy Family Hospital (5633 N. Lidgerwood), HEC Room 1.
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Weinstein under criminal investigation, and more morning headlines

Posted By on Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 9:59 AM


How two Whitworth University students are standing up for their rights, as well as those of other undocumented people.

SLAMMER: Two key members of Spokane's slam poetry scene are featured in the newest "Meet the Makers" video series by Spokane Arts.

RAPPER: Eminem joined the list of artists who've excoriated President Trump with a freestyle rap shown during the BET Hip Hop Awards:

“And any fan of mine / who’s a supporter of his / I’m drawing in the sand a line / you’re either for or against / and if you can’t decide / who you like more and you’re split / on who you should stand beside / I’ll do it for you with this,” he says with a middle finger to the camera. "F—- you." (via New York Times)


End run around Obamacare
President Trump signed an executive order today that will allow small businesses to join unregulated insurance plans and offer less coverage at lower cost. One of the most significant impacts of Trump's order is that people with pre-existing conditions could now be charged higher rates under the unregulated plans. (BuzzFeed)

“It would have a very negative impact on the markets,” Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler tells the New York Times. “Our state is a poster child of what can go wrong. Association health plans often shun the bad risks and stay with the good risks.”

Big-ass pumpkin
A Washington state man's 1,910-pound pumpkin took home top prize in the Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off. (Bellingham Herald

Weinstein under criminal investigation
Police in New York City and London have launched criminal investigations into Harvey Weinstein, a longtime movie mogul who (allegedly) wielded fame, power and money to sexually assault women, then cover it up. (BuzzFeed)

Drugs, sex and a Seattle Police detective
Seattle Police Det. Philip Wall was fired after admitting to using cocaine, eating marijuana-infused candy (which is against the rules for Seattle cops) and associating with a sex worker. (Seattle Times

Meet the 'Riot King'
Meet the controversial St. Louis police sergeant pulling the levers in the department's response to public demonstrations. Protesters call Sgt. Brian Rossomanno the 'Riot King.' (Riverfront Times)
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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Spokane Arts' new "Meet the Makers" video showcases two local poets

Individual World Poetry Slam starts today in Spokane

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 2:43 PM

The latest video in Spokane Arts' "Meet the 
Mark Anderson is featured in the new Spokane Arts video. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Mark Anderson is featured in the new Spokane Arts video.
video series introduces viewers to two of Spokane's forces in the local poetry scene: Mark Anderson and Fitz Fitzpatrick.

The video is particularly timely, given Wednesday's opening of the Individual World Poetry Slam in venues throughout Spokane. You can read our story about the event here.

Both poet/performers are familiar faces to even the most casual of poetry fans, with Anderson hosting the BootSlam at Boots Bakery, Fitz hosting Broken Mic at Neato Burrito. The video gives a concise, entertaining background on both Fitzpatrick and Anderson and the evolution of the local poetry scene. Watch it here:

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FILM: What's hitting movie theaters on Friday

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 11:46 AM

Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan in The Foreigner.
  • Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan in The Foreigner.

We're in that weird limbo between blockbuster season and Academy Award season, when most of the films hitting screens are mostly genre exercises and probably-not-Oscar-worthy odds and ends. This week's cinematic offerings including a couple of biopics, a dark Jackie Chan vehicle, and a teen slasher movie just in time for Friday the 13th.

DOLORES (at the Magic Lantern)
A documentary about the life of civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, best known for founding California labor unions in the 1950s and ’60s alongside César Chávez. Huerta, still active at 87, discusses adversity and gender inequality; other interviewees include Hillary Clinton, Gloria Steinem and Angela Davis. Not rated.

Jackie Chan is an immigrant restaurateur whose daughter is killed in a terrorist bombing, and he seeks revenge on the people responsible for the attack. It's an OK action-drama, says Seth Sommerfeld in his 2½-star review, but its tone is inconsistent and its moral compass is all out of whack: "Seeing Chan back in action delivers a decent supply of thrills, but ultimately The Foreigner tops out as a decent run-of-the-mill action flick with the real fun swapped out for an attempt at gravitas." Rated R.

A slasher version of Groundhog Day (or Edge of Tomorrow), wherein a popular college girl is offed by a masked killer, wakes up that same morning alive and well, then gets killed all over again. The only thing that will end the cycle: She needs to uncover the murderer’s identity. Rated PG-13.

Biopic veteran Chadwick Boseman (42, Get on Up) stars as Thurgood Marshall, the Supreme Court’s first African-American justice, who's assigned to represent a black chauffeur accused of raping a white woman in 1941. Rated PG-13.

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NorCal wine country torched, former Empire player slain, U.S. men Cup-less, morning headlines

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 9:21 AM


NEWS: Washington's auditor says the state needs to do a better job verifying self-reported incomes for Medicaid recipients, or risk losing $110 million by 2020.

NEWS: A South Korean lawmaker claims North Korean hackers stole a cache of classified military documents — reportedly containing U.S.-South Korean plans for a "decapitation" strike against North Korean leader Kim Jong-un —from the South. (via New York Times)

NEWS: Continuing his ongoing public feud with the National Football League, President Trump threatened the NFL and attacked African-American ESPN host Jemele Hill, who previously referred to Trump as a "white supremacist." (via New York Times)


'Devastation' in NorCal wine country

Firefighters in Northern California's wine country continue battling to halt the march of wind-whipped, fast-moving wildfires that now cover 170,000 acres and have claimed at least 21 lives — with more than 500 people missing in Sonoma County alone — incinerated more than 2,000 structures, and forced thousands to evacuate. (San Francisco Chronicle)
• Santa Rosa blaze: How a sudden firestorm caused devastation in the Sonoma County city of 175,000. (San Jose Mercury-News)
Apocalyptic images from wine country reveal total destruction. (Washington Post)
• An updated list of Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino county wineries that have burned. (SFC)

Former Empire player killed downtown
Former Spokane Empire wide receiver Carl Sims, making a catch in a 2016 game, was shot and killed downtown on Sunday night. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
  • Young Kwak photo
  • Former Spokane Empire wide receiver Carl Sims, making a catch in a 2016 game, was shot and killed downtown on Sunday night.

Carl Sims, a wide receiver for the Indoor Football League's Spokane Empire for parts of the past two seasons, was shot and killed early Sunday morning in front of the Monterey Cafe. Sims, 31, was an IFL veteran who played in all nine of the league's seasons with eight different teams. (Spokesman-Review)

Spokane: No place for hate
Police charged two Spokane men, one with a "White Power" tattoo, with first-degree assault and malicious harassment yesterday; Jason Cooper, 32, and Donald Prichard, 36, are accused of punching a 66-year-old African-American man in the face and firing several rounds of bullets into his North Spokane house on Sunday night. (Spokesman-Review)

That's a Corker
Who's the most liberated man in D.C. these days? That would be Tennessee GOP Sen. Bob Corker, who's not running for re-election and is finally free to speak his mind on President Trump and — in his view — the White House's ongoing reign of error. (Boston Globe)
• Corker's 12 most damning quotes regarding Trump. (CNN)
• Trump's Twitter war with Corker is threatening his legislative agenda. (New York Times)
• The president is blaming Corker for the "failed" Iran nuclear deal. (New York Times)

Rexit: Just a matter of time
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has reached the breaking point regarding his fraught relationship with President Trump, writes the New Yorker's Dexter Filkins.
• Trump, stung by news reports that Tillerson referred to him as a 'f—-ing moron," has proposed an IQ-test competition with his Secretary of State. (GQ, Washington Post)
• Filkins — who won a Pulitzer for his coverage of the war in Afghanistan — on rising tensions between Trump and Tillerson and the looming threat of war in North Korea. (NPR)

Would you want to go to Russia?
The U.S. men's national soccer team, which had qualified for the previous seven World Cups, won't be in Russia next June and July for an eighth, missing the globe's biggest tournament for the first time since 1986. Needing only a draw to qualify, the Americans were upended 2-1 at Trinidad and Tobago,  a tiny, twin-island nation of 1.3 million off the coast of Venezuela, and a last-place team the U.S. had beaten without drama four months ago. Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl calls it the most embarrassing failure in U.S. soccer history.
• How the U.S. men missed the World Cup, minute by minute. (New York Times)
• The U.S. men failing to make the World Cup is a disaster for Fox Sports. (Sports Illustrated)
• With a 12th consecutive World Cup berth on the line, Lionel Messi's hat trick vs. Ecuador led 2014 runner-up Argentina to qualification. (Sports Illustrated)
World Cup 2018: 23 of the 32 teams have now qualified; who's in (Iceland, Panama), who's out (Chile, the Netherlands), and who still has to play their way in (Italy, Ireland).
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