Winds cut power to more than 200,000 in Puget Sound
Crews had restored power to most customers in the Puget Sound region by Saturday morning, after a windstorm caused more than 200,000 outages in the immediate area Friday night and left one entire county in the dark for several hours.
Though National Weather Service meteorologist Mike McFarland called the storm fairly “run of the mill,” the gusts were enough to keep utility crews busy throughout the night.
Wind speeds reached 40 mph at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Friday night, McFarland said, but surged as high as 54 mph and 51 mph on the Highway 520 and Interstate 90 bridges, respectively.
Clallam County, north of the Olympic Mountains, was particularly hard hit, with the county of more than 73,000 people losing power Friday afternoon. At least one house was destroyed by a fallen tree, Clallam County Undersheriff Ron Cameron said.
In Port Angeles, the largest community and county seat, the power would remain off for roughly eight hours, creating what Cameron described as an eerie scene — only vehicle headlights illuminating streets, and, for the most part, no fuel available, because most gas stations didn’t have backup generators.
“My god, Walmart closed, can you imagine?” Cameron said. Restoring electricity was delayed because two major lines that feed power into the county were damaged and had to be repaired first. By Saturday midday, about 80 percent of the county had the lights back on.
In the Seattle area, about 47,000 Seattle City Light customers lost power at the peak of the storm, communications director Scott Thomsen said.
By 10 a.m. Saturday, about 5,000 customers remained without power, a number he expected to be cut in half by noon.
About 90 percent of the 100,000 Puget Sound Energy customers who experienced outages had their power restored by Saturday morning, spokesman Andrew Padula said. Portions of Kitsap and northern King County were among some of the hardest hit parts of the PSE service area.
The Snohomish County Public Utility District reported on Twitter that 60,000 customers were without power during the storm, but that was down to 4,000 by Saturday morning.
Ukraine Orthodox leaders approve Russian church split
KIEV, Ukraine — Ukrainian Orthodox leaders on Saturday approved the creation of a unified church independent of the Moscow Patriarchate and elected a leader to head that new church — a move that could exponentially raise tensions with neighboring Russia.
The vote, held at a closed-door synod in Kiev’s St. Sophia Cathedral, is the latest in a series of confrontations between Ukraine and authorities in Russia, including President Vladimir Putin’s government. Ahead of the vote, the Russian Orthodox Church called on the United Nations, the leaders of Germany and France, the pope and other spiritual leaders to protect Orthodox believers in Ukraine.
The leader of the new autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church will be Metropolitan Epiphanius, a 39-year-old bishop from the Kiev Patriarchate.
“God heard our appeals and gave us this anticipated unity,” Epiphanius told a crowd of thousands who had gathered outside the cathedral on Saturday to hear the news. He stressed that the new church’s doors would be open to all, and encouraged Ukrainians to rally behind it.
Still spiritual leaders attending Saturday’s synod couched their efforts to create an independent church in patriotic rhetoric. Father Sergei Dmitriev said — given Ukraine’s ongoing conflicts with Russia — “we should have our own church, not an agent of the Kremlin in Ukraine.”
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who has made the creation of a new church a key campaign issue, attended the synod Saturday as a non-voting observer.
“Ukraine was not, is not, and will not be the canonical territory of the Russian church,” Poroshenko told the gathering, adding that creating an independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church was now a matter of national security.
“This is a question of Ukrainian statehood,” Poroshenko said. “We are seizing spiritual independence, which can be likened to political independence. We are breaking the chains that tie us to the (Russian) empire.”
Representatives of Ukraine’s three Orthodox Churches attended the synod in Kiev, but only two from the branch loyal to Moscow showed up. One Russian bishop — Metropolitan Hilarion in Volokolamsk — on Saturday compared those two representatives of the Moscow-backed church to Judas, the biblical betrayer of Jesus.
The newly formed community is expected to receive independence from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Istanbul-based institution considered the so-called “first among equals” of leaders of the world’s Orthodox Churches.
Relations between Ukraine and Russia have been damaged by Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and its support for armed separatists fighting the government in eastern Ukraine. The church schism and a Nov. 25 naval clash in the Black Sea in which Russia seized three Ukrainian ships and detained 24 Ukrainian crewmen have caused them to deteriorate further.
Saturday’s religious rupture from the Russian Orthodox Church is a potent — possibly explosive — mix of politics, religious faith and national identity.
Since the late 1600s, the Orthodox Church in Ukraine had been a wing of the Russian Orthodox Church rather than being ecclesiastically independent. Many Ukrainians, however, resented the implication that Ukraine was a vassal of Russia.
The move Saturday raises deep concerns about what will happen to the approximately 12,000 churches in Ukraine that were under the Moscow Patriarchate.
In recent years, about 50 churches in Ukraine under the Moscow Patriarchate have been forcibly seized and transferred to the Kiev Patriarchate, according to Metropolitan Antony Pakanich.
Students’ interest in government rises with study
YAKIMA — It’s often said that education is what remains after we’ve forgotten what we learned in school.
That saying — which has been attributed to Albert Einstein and Ralph Waldo Emerson, among others — can be taken to mean two things: Schools don’t teach us the things that really matter in life; or that, conversely, schools do educate us, and we just forget most of what we learn.
Students do forget general information they learn in school. What’s not known is how much students actively try to retain that information once they’re out of school.
Kevin Brennan, who’s been teaching civics for 16 years at West Valley High School, said lessons about government often have a reprise.
“The trend is that their engagement in this kind of stuff typically increases after high school,” he said. “It depends on the kid and where they go … but the general trend for all of them is that goes up.”
All seniors are required to take civics at West Valley High School, where Brennan teaches. While Brennan’s curriculum for the course mainly focused on general civics, he included assignments about contemporary political issues throughout as a way to illustrate government at work. For example, students in his sixth-period class prepared projects about midterm election ballot items, and watched footage from U.S. Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s hearings in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee as a way to demonstrate the concept of checks and balances between the branches of the federal government.Rating exercise
At the beginning of the semester, Brennan asked all 26 students in that class to rate, on a scale of one to 10, how much they cared about politics and government. Then, last week, he asked the students to rate how much they cared about those same things after spending the whole semester talking about them. After that, he asked them to predict how much they would care about politics and government a year from now. All together, the students generated three ratings.
The average ratings for class in the three categories were 3.6, 6 and 6.5, respectively. This was the first class in which Brennan had done the rating exercise, and he said the results made him feel optimistic.
“It made me feel hopeful,” he said. “I hope they progress like they think they progress.”
The student who rated himself the highest in all three categories was Eli Henn, whose ratings were 8.5, 8.75 and 8.5. Henn said his parents got him thinking about government and politics.
“Both my parents have always been pretty engaged in politics. They always listen to the news and know what’s going on,” he said. “So, growing up, they always kept us involved, and they would present us both sides of the story so we were forced to come to our own conclusions. … They wanted us to be independent.”
He said he’s confident he’ll continue to keep up with politics because he recognizes that the issues involved will affect him later on.
On the other end, Brandon Little’s numbers were 2, 5 and 5. Like Henn, Little said his parents influenced the way he thought about politics, but unlike Henn, his family hardly discusses it.
“Really the only information I ever knew was given to me by my dad, and I never really researched anything,” he said. “I would say my parents were the only reason I knew anything about politics at all, but we didn’t talk about it much.”
He said Brennan’s class has forced him to a slightly higher level of engagement, and, seeing some benefit, he predicts he’ll maintain that level of engagement beyond high school.
“I’ll basically be doing the same thing that I’m doing now,” he said.
In the middle of the road was Hannah Trammell, whose ratings were 2, 7 and 8. She said she wasn’t engaged before Brennan’s class because she didn’t see politics as something in which she wanted to be involved.
“My personality isn’t to argue with people,” she said. “I generally like to just listen to everyone’s opinions, see where they’re coming from and put myself in their shoes. I’ll have my own opinions, but I don’t want to force those on other people.”
Trammell also said she felt like she wasn’t educated enough on issues to take a stance on them. She said Brennan’s class gave her more background information on the nation’s political lexicon, which allowed her to do more research and become more engaged overall.
Prep Highlights: Camas wrestlers place high at Tri-State Invitational
Camas junior Gideon Malchewski scored a two-point takedown with nine seconds remaining to win the 170-pound title at the Tri-State Invitational in Couer d’Alene, Idaho on Saturday.
Malychewski beat Navarro Nanpuya of Omak 6-4 after trailing 3-1 after two rounds.
Camas wrestlers Daniel Craig and Jack Latimer each earned third-place finishes
Craig, a state champ at 132-pounds, bounced back from a 9-8 loss in the 138-pound quarterfinals to two-time state champion Chase Tebbets of Mead. Craig then won to win three straight consolation matches.
Latimer reached the semifinals at 132 pounds. He lost 2-0 to Ridge Lovett of Post Falls (Idaho), who entered the tournament 85-0 in his career.
The event features top wrestlers from Washington, Idaho and Montana.
Union’s Snediker dominates at Hammerhead — Reigning state champion Danny Snediker rolled to the 170-pound championship at the Hammerhead Invitational in Bremerton.
The Union senior collected four straight pins to reach the title match, where he beat Tre Phillips of Rogers (Spokane) 21-8.
Union’s Six Buck reached the finals at 160 pounds, where he lost to Deyondre Davis of South Kitsap 17-0.
Union’s Noah Talavera placed third at 152 and Kyle Brosius placed third at 170.
In the girls tournament, reigning state champ Allison Blaine of Hudson’s Bay pinned Riley Aamold of Union in the 135-pound title match.
Union’s girls had a strong showing. Krista Warren won the title at 145 pounds, Annabelle Helm won the titleat 170 pounds and and Nevaeh Cassidy placed second at 155 pounds.
Woodland’s Ashlyn Daugherty won the title at 110 pounds. Washougal’s Aleksi Donahue won the title at 125 pounds.
Heritage’s Newberry wins Morin title — Heritage sophomore Alex Newberry won the 152-pound title at the Graham Morin Invitational in Bellingham. He beat Jaden Schwarz of Ferndale 5-4 in the title match.
Seattle-area couples test birth control for men
SEATTLE — The UW School of Medicine is one of three sites testing a contraceptive gel for men, which works by reducing sperm production when applied daily on the upper arms or shoulders, according to researchers.
If the trials are successful, the substance may soon be available to people seeking to avoid unplanned pregnancies whose options traditionally have relied on more than a dozen options for women, including pills, implants, shots, patches and rings, compared with just condoms for men.
“We are neglecting 50 percent of the population with our current methods,” Dr. Stephanie Page, a UW School of Medicine endocrinologist and the study’s principal investigator, said in a phone interview. “There’s every reason for men to be more engaged.”
UW researchers are enrolling about 50 couples for the three-year trial, which started Nov. 28. The testing, which is also being conducted in Los Angeles and Kansas City, Kan., is funded by the National Institutes of Health. The gel was developed by NIH and the Population Council, an international nonprofit focused on reproductive health.
Participants will receive a clear gel that contains progestin, a hormone used in female birth control, and testosterone to counter the effects of progestin. Men enrolled in the study will apply the gel to each shoulder once a day and, within eight to 16 weeks, their sperm counts should be low enough to prevent pregnancy. Once the count drops sufficiently, couples will receive the go-ahead to use the gel as their only method of birth control for a year.
Page is among a group of UW researchers who have been working on male contraception for decades. But it’s been a challenging area in a field focused primarily on females, according to Dr. William Bremner, a UW professor of medicine who is directing the trial. There’s long been a social bias against birth control for males, he said.
“Among other things, there’s been a perception that pregnancy is ‘the woman’s problem,’ in some people’s view,” he said.
There’s also the “numbers game,” Page said. Women ovulate once a month, and interrupting an ovulation cycle is much easier than trying to decrease production of millions of sperm.
Developing new contraceptive methods is also generally time-consuming because researchers must find ways to minimize negative impacts, such as decreased sex drive, she said.
Other birth-control methods for men that are in early trials at UW include a pill that reduces levels of testosterone and other hormones responsible for sperm production. A monthlong trial of the pill found that the hormones dropped, with few side effects. The method is still being tested on men, with a goal to eventually add it to the scarce pool of options available for them, Page said.
With the gel now being tested, sperm concentration returns to normal numbers within three to four months after the man stops daily use, she said. Researchers will monitor sperm counts throughout the study, but the trial leaders cautioned that pregnancy is still possible. Page said they anticipate the gel will be more than 90 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, making it a more reliable method than condoms, which have about a 13 percent failure rate.
Idaho reactor pivotal in U.S. power strategy
IDAHO NATIONAL LABORATORY, Idaho — A nuclear test reactor that can melt uranium fuel rods in seconds is running again after a nearly quarter-century shutdown as U.S. officials try to revamp a fading nuclear power industry with safer fuel designs and a new generation of power plants.
The reactor at the U.S. Energy Department’s Idaho National Laboratory has performed 10 tests on nuclear fuel since late last year.
“If we’re going to have nuclear power in this country 20 or 30 years from now, it’s going to be because of this reactor,” said J.R. Biggs, standing in front of the Transient Test Reactor he manages that in short bursts can produce enough energy to power 14 million homes.
The reactor was used to run 6,604 tests from 1959 to 1994, when it was put on standby as the United States started turning away from nuclear power amid safety concerns.
Restarting it is part of a strategy to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by generating carbon-free electricity with nuclear power initiated under the Obama administration and continuing under the Trump administration, despite Trump’s downplaying of global warming.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 98 nuclear reactors at 59 power plants produce about 20 percent of the nation’s energy. Most of the reactors are decades old, and many are having a tough time competing economically with other forms of energy production, particularly cheaper gas-fired power plants.
Some nuclear plants have closed in recent years, and Illinois, New York and New Jersey have approved subsidies in the past two years to bail out commercial nuclear plants. Officials in some areas are considering carbon taxes on coal and natural gas to boost nuclear power.
U.S. officials hope to improve nuclear power’s prospects. They face two main challenges: making the plants economically competitive and changing public perception among some that nuclear power is unsafe.
Biggs said Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster, caused by a 2011 earthquake and tsunami, was a primary reason U.S. officials restarted the test reactor in Idaho. The cores of three reactors at the Japan plant suffered meltdowns after cooling systems failed.
But what if, researchers say, nuclear plants produced energy with accident-tolerant fuels in reactors designed to safely shut themselves down in an emergency? That’s where the Idaho lab’s test reactor comes in.
Dan Wachs, who directs the lab’s fuel safety research program, said only three other reactors with fuel testing abilities exist — in France, Japan and Kazakhstan. He said none can perform the range of experiments that can be done at the Idaho lab’s Transient Test Reactor, also called TREAT.
At the Idaho test reactor, pencil-sized pieces of fuel rods supplied by commercial manufacturers are inserted into the reactor that can generate short, 20-gigawatt bursts of energy. Workers perform tests remotely from about half a mile away.
The strategy is to test the fuels under accident conditions, including controlled and contained meltdowns, to eventually create safer fuels.
The tiny fuel rods, including those that melt, are sent to the lab’s Hot Fuel Examination Facility, where workers behind 4 feet of leaded glass examine them. Additional work is done a short walk away at the Irradiated Materials Characterization Lab, where powerful microscopes can examine the fuel at the atomic level.
Wachs and his team of about 15 scientists get the results and consult with both the fuel manufacturer and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which licenses nuclear fuel.
Yakima County inmates charged in fatal jail beating
Three Lower Valley men have been charged with bludgeoning a murder suspect to death in the Yakima County jail.
Julian Luis Gonzalez, 20, of Toppenish; Deryk Alexander Donato, 25, of White Swan; and Felipe Luis Jr., 19, of Yakima, were charged with aggravated first-degree murder in the death of Jacob Ozuna on Sunday night.
Ozuna, a Norte?o gang member, was booked into jail and was awaiting trial in connection with the May 10 shooting death of Dario Alvarado III in the 100 block of Winaway Road near Toppenish. Alvarado, also a documented Norte?o gang member, was shot several times following an argument outside a home.
Ozuna was booked into the jail’s Norte?o unit following his extradition from Montana in May, officials said. Jail staff segregate members of rival gangs.
County corrections officers spotted inmates standing around Ozuna, who was on the floor of the unit, around 11:49 p.m. Sunday night. Ozuna shared a cell with Donato, while Luis and Gonzalez were cellmates, according to court documents.
Jail surveillance video shows Luis, Donato and Gonzalez in the downstairs common area of the unit before going upstairs to where Ozuna was being distracted by another inmate, according to a probable cause affidavit filed by Yakima County sheriff’s detectives.
The three attacked Ozuna with their fists and feet, knocking him unconscious, and resumed the beating when he appeared to start moving, the affidavit said. At one point, the three dragged Ozuna’s body down the stairs by his feet, causing his head to hit each step on the way down, according to court documents.
Once on the floor, the men began stomping on Ozuna’s face when he moved his arm, the affidavit said.
Detectives said the attack took more than 13 minutes.
Man accused of meeting girl to pay for sex appears in court
An Oregon man accused of meeting up with a 16-year-old girl to pay for sex appeared Friday in Clark County Superior Court.
Lee W. Hughes, 29, of Moro, Ore., faces an allegation of commercial sex abuse of a minor in connection with the Thursday incident.
A Clark County sheriff’s deputy conducting an area check around 9:10 p.m. located a suspicious vehicle with Oregon license plates in the 8300 block of N.E. 137th Ave.
The deputy contacted the two people inside, who were engaged in a sexual act in the back seat, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
Hughes told the deputy he met the girl on a social media app, and they agreed to meet up to have sex.
He said he was going to pay her $300 afterward, the affidavit states.
During his first appearance, Hughes was granted supervised release, and his arraignment was set for Dec. 21.
Remains of sailor killed at Pearl Harbor identified
NEW ORLEANS — Full military honors will be given to a Louisiana sailor whose remains have been identified more than 75 years after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
The remains of Navy Seaman 2nd Class Charles C. Gomez Jr., of Slidell, were accounted for Sept. 19, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Friday.
Gomez was assigned to the USS Oklahoma battleship on Dec. 7, 1941 when Japanese aircraft attacked it at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. Among the more than 2,300 American military personnel killed that day were 429 USS Oklahoma crewmen, including then-19-year-old Gomez.
His family was informed of the identity match earlier this week.
“I still can’t believe it,” said Charles Fogg, Gomez’s nephew. “It’s unbelievable after all this time.”
Fogg, 65, of Pearl River, La., never met his uncle but often heard his mother and her siblings talk about him during family gatherings.
“As a kid, I’d often hear my grandpa say, ‘Pray for my son to be found.’ I guess I was 6 or 7 at the time. But it all comes in God’s time I guess,” he said.
Until now, Gomez’s remains had been interred among 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu, Hawaii. His name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the site. Officials say a rosette will be placed by his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Fogg said the DPAA took DNA samples from his mother and one of her brothers to help identify the remains.
“We were hoping the identification would happen in their lifetime,” he said. “We almost made it. Both of them recently passed away.”
Fogg said a memorial service will be held at the Veterans Administration facility in Slidell on June 3, 2019, on what would have been Gomez’s 97th birthday.
“That gives us time to really plan it and line things up right and give family time to get here. We’re really excited about it. He’s going to get full military honors,” he said. “We’re looking forward to it. It’s a sad but exciting time, knowing that he’s finally coming home.”
Study finds some think pot can sober you up enough to drive
A new traffic study sponsored by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission shows that one out of every 10 survey respondents admitted to drinking and smoking marijuana before driving.
While a large majority of people don’t get behind the wheel drunk and high, it remains a startling statistic for those tasked with keeping roads safe. According to recent commission data, among drivers in fatal crashes from 2008 to 2016, 44 percent tested positive for poly-drug use — the most prevalent type of impaired drivers, with the most common combination being alcohol and cannabis.
What’s more, since 2012, the number of poly-drug drivers involved in fatal crashes has increased an average of 15 percent each year.
Those same respondents also were more likely to believe that cannabis helps sober them up after consuming alcohol. They’re more willing than others to hit the road while high, as it makes them feel “calmer” and more able to “respond to unexpected events.”
“Which is completely the opposite of what we want people thinking,” said Mark Medalen, the program manager of the safety commission. “It’s just not true.”
The results of that survey, conducted by the Center for Health and Safety Culture in the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University, were published on Dec. 2. It featured about 900 respondents between the ages of 18 and 65, all residents of Washington.
Among other notable findings, researchers learned that cannabis users tend to drink more than others. They also learned that frequency of marijuana consumption is similar for those who drive under the influence of cannabis and alcohol versus those who do not.
The survey also showed that males are three times more likely than females to partake in such behavior. People living in Eastern Washington are at a slightly higher risk.Get a Lyft, not a ticket
In response to the findings, Medalen and Vivian McPeak, a longtime cannabis activist and the man behind Seattle Hempfest — an annual three-day, marijuana-infused festival in the heart of Seattle — made the trek to Spokane this week, where they stood outside Satori South dispensary and gave away $20 coupons for Lyft.
Their goal: to change the mind of those who drive impaired and to get them to choose the back seat over the driver’s seat after lighting up this holiday season.
“I compare it to alcohol,” Medalen said. “It’s legal, but it’s still illegal to use and drive.”
The campaign is part of a Lyft and Governors Highway Safety Association grant awarded to the safety commission, which hopes to distribute $10,000 in free rides. McPeak and Medalen said they were able to distribute several hundred coupons in Seattle before coming to Spokane Wednesday morning. Standing in the bitter morning cold, what they found was a hard truth in marijuana retail: most pot buyers aren’t out and about at 10 in the morning. However, reactions were positive and the group was still able to connect with a few shoppers.
“It’s been slow and steady,” McPeak said. “And we’ve had really good reactions. People seem to get it.”
McPeak said he also was personally motivated to reverse the trend. Just a few days ago, he said a 23-year-old mother and Hempfest staff member was hit by a poly-drug driver and remained comatose in the hospital.
“It really hit close to home,” he said. “It drives home how real this is.”
Kayla Keane, the store’s manager, said she hoped a similar program could come back closer to New Year’s Eve, and again before the Super Bowl in February.