Columbian Newspaper

Man with two child-rape charges gets 6 months
Author: Jessica Prokop

A man who was charged with two counts of child rape, after the victim’s mother contacted law enforcement, was sentenced Friday to six months in jail.

Joe Nathan Flores Jr., 21, of Vancouver previously pleaded guilty in Clark County Superior Court to third-degree child molestation.

Flores was arrested in May 2018 after a mother reported that her 14-year-old daughter had run away. Later that evening, a friend of the girl told the mother she made a post on Snapchat saying she was at a motel with her boyfriend, Flores, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

The mother called area motels and found Flores had rented a room at the Motel 6 on Chkalov Drive. The mother contacted police, who went to the hotel and found Flores and the girl, the affidavit states.

Flores admitted to knowing the girl was underage and that he previously had sexual contact with her, court records say.

Then, in July 2018, Flores bailed out of jail. About a month later, the girl’s mother contacted police again stating that Flores and her daughter had once again had sexual contact, according to court documents.

Flores faced a sentencing range of six to 12 months in jail. Judge Gregory Gonzales followed the attorneys’ agreed-upon recommendation of six months in jail — which was also recommended by the Washington Department of Corrections in a pre-sentence investigation.

In addition to his sentence, Flores is required to register as a sex offender, and undergo a sexual deviancy evaluation and participate in any necessary treatment. He is not to have contact with minors.


Epik buys Vancouver-based BitMitigate
Author: Columbian staff writer

Vancouver-based cybersecurity company BitMitigate has been acquired by Epik, a web hosting company and domain name registration service.

In a video announcing the acquisition on Thursday, Epik CEO Rob Monster praised BitMitigate’s security services for “giving you solutions that are comparable to the likes of (industry leader) Cloudflare at a fraction of the cost.”

BitMitigate offers protection for websites from a host of online threats including Distributed Denial of Service attacks, which attempt to crash websites by overloading them with traffic requests. The company offers a suite of website security tools in free and paid subscription plans, with the goal of providing enterprise-level online services to mass-market customers.

“It makes the website faster and more secure, and gives the owner more control over how it works,” said BitMitigate founder Nicholas Lim.

Lim was 19 when he founded the company in 2017, and it’s grown to a team of more than 10 people. Lim estimates the company’s clients receive a combined 50 million page views per month. BitMitigate doesn’t have a physical location, he said — each team member works out of a home office.

BitMitigate will continue to operate as a wholly owned division of Epik, according to the announcement, and Lim will become Epik’s chief technology officer. BitMitigate’s day-to-day operations will remain largely unchanged, according to Lim, but the merger will allow the company to continue to grow within Epik, which is located in the Seattle area. Lim declined to say how much Epik paid to buy BitMitigate.

One thing that was not mentioned in Monster’s video: the acquisition brings together two companies that have each made headlines in recent years for providing services to far-right and neo-Nazi websites that have been dropped by other providers.

Domain registration company GoDaddy and cybersecurity company Cloudflare kicked neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer off their services in August 2017 after the site posted an article mocking Heather Heyer, the woman killed during protests in Charlottesville, Va., in August 2017.

Not long after, BitMitigate began providing security services for The Daily Stormer, taking over the role that had been held by Cloudflare.

In an article posted on BitMitigate’s website at the time, Lim stressed that his company did not create or endorse any of The Daily Stormer’s content. But he condemned the idea of corporations having the power to regulate or censor content, and characterized his decision to help the site as a commitment to free speech.

“The question isn’t whether or not the content at The Daily Stormer should exist, but rather whether or not it is the responsibility of technology companies to be consistent in defending the right to freedom of expression enshrined within our constitution,” he wrote.

Monster offered a similar rationale in November 2018 when Epik became the new registrar for Gab, a social media site that is frequented by white supremacists and doesn’t ban hate speech.

GoDaddy and several other online service companies dropped their support for the site after it was revealed that the alleged perpetrator of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting was a frequent Gab user and had authored numerous anti-Semitic posts on the site. Eleven worshippers were killed in the attack at the Tree of Life synagogue on Oct. 27, 2018.

Websites need a registered domain name in order to be reached by online users, so GoDaddy’s decision resulted in Gab temporarily disappearing from the internet. But the site came back a short time later when Epik became Gab’s new domain name provider.

In a blog post on Epik’s website, Monster described the decision as a nonpartisan free speech issue, arguing that “de-platforming” actions taken by GoDaddy and others were tantamount to “digital censorship.”

Hate speech

In media interviews, Monster has said he does not support the views of the websites he hosts, and has expressed confidence that Gab’s operators will use good judgment when curating the site.

But in a January post on its Hatewatch blog, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that Monster’s willingness to host Gab and similar websites means that he is “cornering the market on websites where hate speech is thriving.”

BitMitigate and Epik weren’t the only groups debating freedom of speech on the internet in the wake of The Daily Stormer and Gab incidents. After Cloudflare dropped The Daily Stormer, the security company’s CEO said the decision was a difficult one and expressed discomfort with the notion of online service companies acting as arbiters for content.

The nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation agreed with his comments in an article posted by the group’s leaders, warning that although providers do have a First Amendment right to choose their customers, the decision to drop The Daily Stormer could set a dangerous precedent.

“All fair-minded people must stand against the hateful violence and aggression that seems to be growing across our country,” the group wrote. “But we must also recognize that on the Internet, any tactic used now to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others, including people whose opinions we agree with.”

Lim said BitMitigate’s deal with Epik was prompted by the way the two companies’ services fit together to offer a more complete service experience for customers, and the issue of providing service to websites like Gab didn’t factor into the decision.

“We both believe that free speech is a pillar of modern society,” he said. “We certainly align on that, but it wasn’t the reason why we partnered up.”

He also downplayed both companies’ business with websites like The Daily Stormer, which he said make up only a fraction of a percentage of each group’s thousands of customers. The Daily Stormer is also on one of BitMitigate’s free plans, he noted, so the company doesn’t receive any money from the website.

“Those are just the ones that get all the attention,” he said.

Texas jury awards woman $37M over Honda seat belts
Author: Associated Press

DALLAS — A Texas jury has awarded more than $37 million to a woman who sued Honda after being paralyzed in a 2015 car crash.

Sarah Milburn sued the automaker over its seatbelt design after her Uber driver ran a red light and the Honda was struck by a pickup truck in Dallas.

Milburn’s lawyer argued that the seatbelts in the Honda Odyssey were poorly designed and contributed to her injuries. The crash broke the 27-year-old’s spine, leaving her a quadriplegic.

Industrial output tumbled 0.6 percent in January
Author: Associated Press

WASHINGTON — U.S. industrial production fell 0.6 percent in January, stemming in large part from an 8.8 percent plunge in the making of motor vehicles and auto parts.

The Federal Reserve said Friday that the manufacturing component of the index dropped 0.9 percent last month, reversing a 0.8 percent gain in December. Over the past 12 months, factory production has increased just 2.9 percent. Manufacturing of wood products, computers, electrical equipment, apparel and chemicals also fell in January.

The decline suggests a clear cooling at U.S. factories that could prompt a slower pace of growth this year compared to 2018.


Youth Employment summit scheduled for March 19
Author: The Columbian

The Youth Employment Summit is set for March 19 at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds, offering companies the chance to connect with teenagers and other future employees.

Companies at the summit can also build awareness of their company and promote job opportunities. Participants, ages 16-24, can explore careers in our region’s high-growth, high-demand industries and find first jobs. Students from school districts and youth programs in Clark and Cowlitz counties will be attending.

Companies can participate, hire a student, host a table as well as be a sponsor. Companies can register for free at

For sponsorship opportunities and more information, contact Darcy Hoffman, Workforce Southwest Washington business services director;; 360-608-4949.

Led by Workforce Southwest Washington, the summit is a collaboration of Partners in Careers, WorkSource, Columbia River Economic Development Council, Cowlitz Economic Development Council,Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, Kelso Longview Chamber of Commerce, SW WA Stem Network, nConnect, Lakeside Industries, LiUNA, Goodwill, Northwest Laborers-Employers Training Trust Fund and the District Council of Laborers.


Heavy snow continues to fall in California’s mountains
Author: OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ and JOHN ANTCZAK, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Skiers eager to hit the slopes had to sit out a Presidents Day holiday weekend as heavy snow and rain fell for a fourth straight day Friday in California’s mountains, where the snow was so deep in some areas plows couldn’t go out and cities were running out of places to pile it.

Several routes to the ski mecca of Lake Tahoe were closed Friday, including about 70 miles of Interstate 80 from Colfax, Calif., to the Nevada state line. Chains were required for travel in many other parts of the towering range.

“They have ordered up a large blower to try and clear the pass,” Placer County Sheriff Lt. Andrew Scott said in a tweet he posted with a video of a snow-covered I-80. “Please stay home.”

The storm is forecast to dump between 3 and 6 feet of fresh snow in a region where some ski resorts reported getting 3 feet of snow since Thursday.

An avalanche warning was issued for the greater Lake Tahoe area, where heavy snow and high winds are forecast through Sunday.

It’s snowed so much recently that cities are running out of places to put the snow, said Kevin Cooper, marketing director for Lake Tahoe TV.

“All avid skiers are itching to get out on the mountain but the roads are pretty treacherous right now,” he said.

Some skiers canceled their plans after seeing the reports.

Aura Campa, of Oakland, and her partner were hoping to take advantage of their season passes and the fresh powder at Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows resort, but a scary near-accident on an icy road last weekend made them reconsider.

When a main highway through the Lake Tahoe area was crushed with traffic, she drove her SUV on a side road. Her vehicle didn’t have chains, and when it was going uphill the vehicle went into reverse.

“That was really scary for us. It was on a tiny hill with a small amount of ice but that was enough for us to think twice about traveling through a snowstorm again,” Campa said. “We’re not going to risk it.”

About 140 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe, Mammoth Mountain was about to break a more than 30-year record for monthly snowfall but skiers and snowboarders should be able to reach the slopes as long as they have chains or snow tires, said resort spokesman Justin Romano.

The resort has already gotten 163 inches of snow this month, just 5 inches shy of its monthly snowfall record for the month of February 1986.

The main route there, Highway 395, has been experiencing closures because of dangerous driving conditions, but was open Friday to those with the proper gear.

“The winds have calmed down and it looks like it’s going to be an awesome weekend to get people up here,” Romano said. “We’re stoked to have them.”

In other parts of California, crews turned to cleanup and damage assessment as the drenching storm brought flood dangers to Arizona.

Warnings were issued for Guerneville north of San Francisco as the Russian River surpassed flood stage, and the San Francisco Bay Area commute was snarled after a levee breach partially flooded a highway.

There were at least two deaths. A woman pulled from rising water in a flood-control channel in Corona, southeast of Los Angeles, had a heart attack and died at a hospital. And the body of an unidentified man was recovered from a fast-flowing creek in Escondido, northeast of San Diego.

Arizona and other parts of the West on Friday dealt with effects of a blitz of winter weather.

Firefighters rescued a motorist who called 911 to report his car was being swept down a wash in Tucson, Ariz., by runoff.

Residents were being helped after homes along a creek 50 miles south of Flagstaff received up to several feet of water, said Yavapai County Sheriff’s spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn.

Road crews in parts of Colorado, Montana and Wyoming worked to clear avalanches that had closed mountain highways and to mitigate potential avalanche threats.

Similarly, dangerous travel conditions, as well as power outages, flooding and road closures, were cited in a decision to cancel classes in seven school districts in San Diego County.

Fire in Ridgefield destroys garage, multiple vehicles
Author: Jerzy Shedlock

Multiple vehicles, including two classic trucks, were destroyed in a garage fire late Friday morning in Ridgefield.

One crew with Clark County Fire & Rescue was dispatched around 11 a.m. to an area west of Interstate 205 and south of Lewis River when a caller reported seeing smoke. While en route, a second caller reported seeing heavy smoke, more than would be typical for a burn pile, Chief John Nohr said.

A third caller reported that their neighbor’s garage was on fire and provided an address on Northwest Pekin Ferry Drive, Nohr said.

The call was upgraded to a full response. Five engines, a ladder truck and three water tenders were deployed to the home.

The first crew to arrive came upon a large, detached garage engulfed in flames. The fire had already burned off the roof of the building and destroyed two trucks, motorcycles and an RV, Nohr said.

Firefighters focused on dousing a nearby house and a motor home parked in the driveway before shifting their attention to the garage. The fire had quickly burned the garage, and it was more important to prevent its spread to other property, the fire chief said.

Nohr estimated the garage was 40 by 60 feet. He said a lot of the homes in the area have detached garages.

Despite the building’s close proximity to the home, the fire went unnoticed by the homeowner for a fair amount of time. They reported hearing pops outside. On the first instance of hearing the noises, they thought it was a neighbor firing a gun, which sometimes happens. On the second instance, they decided to go investigate and found the garage up in flames.

The homeowner called 911, but others had already done so and firefighters were on their way, Nohr said.

Firefighters spent about a half-hour getting the blaze under control and remained at the scene for hours cleaning up the destruction.

The Clark County Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating.

Metro News

Метро призывает лиц, планирующих вывезти мусор, подождать до марта или обратиться в альтернативные организации

С целью обеспечения более высокого уровня обслуживания на пунктах сбора и распределения мусора в Northwest Portland и городе Oregon City, Metro призывает тех, кто планирует очистить от мусора гаражи, подвалы, чердаки или привезти строительный или иной сухой мусор на пункт приёма и распределения Metro, подождать до пятницы 1 марта.

Metro pide a los clientes que traen sus propios desechos que esperen hasta marzo o que usen otras instalaciones

Para prestar mejor servicio a sus clientes en su estación de desechos en Northwest Portland y Oregon City, Metro pide a aquellos que estén pensando en limpiar sus garajes, sótanos, áticos o traer otros desechos secos que llevan ellos mismos a una estación de desechos, que esperen hasta el viernes 1º de marzo.

NYT Politics

White House Memo: Trump Follows Familiar Playbook When Confronted by a Loss: Distract and Digress
“So, I’m going to be signing a national emergency,” the president said, almost as an afterthought at the news conference whose purpose was ostensibly to announce that news.