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KUOW Blog

News, factoids, and insights from KUOW's newsroom. And maybe some peeks behind the scenes. Check back daily for updates. And read the Today So Far newsletter here.

Have any leads or feedback for the KUOW Blog? Contact Dyer Oxley at dyer@kuow.org.

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  • Retired Seattle cop arrested after five-hour standoff in Mount Vernon, Wash.

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    caption: The entrance to the part of the neighborhood where retired Seattle Police officer Eugene Schubeck was ultimately arrested after a crisis negotiation.
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    The entrance to the part of the neighborhood where retired Seattle Police officer Eugene Schubeck was ultimately arrested after a crisis negotiation.
    Credit: Google Maps

    A retired Seattle police officer surrendered in Mount Vernon on Tuesday morning after a five-hour standoff with police at a single-family residence there.

    Eugene Louis Schubeck III, the retired Seattle officer involved in the standoff, is infamous in Seattle police circles. In 2009, Schubeck was acting as a hostage negotiator when he shot the man he was speaking with in the jaw.

    The man, Nathaniel Caylor, survived but underwent multiple jaw surgeries and later received nearly $2 million as part of a settlement with the City of Seattle, a record amount at the time.

    According to court records, Schubeck and another officer had gone to check on Caylor at an apartment in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood after a relative called 911, concerned that Caylor was suicidal while caring for his toddler son.

    On Monday, roughly a year after retiring, Schubeck, 57, was on the other side of the crisis negotiation. At 9:26 p.m., a woman called Skagit 911 to report that her estranged husband had threatened to kill her son.

    According to a statement from Lieutenant Mike Moore, of Mount Vernon Police, “a 57-year-old Mount Vernon resident had pointed a handgun at an adult male family member and threatened to kill him.”

    The statement continued that Schubeck “had indicated that he was not going to be arrested and was armed with numerous other weapons available to him.”

    Crisis negotiators spoke with Schubeck by phone. After five hours, Schubeck surrendered “without incident.” Several firearms were taken as evidence, according to the statement.

    Schubeck was booked into the Skagit County jail on Monday morning on two counts, including assault in the first degree, threats to kill. Mount Vernon Police investigators have asked witnesses or those with knowledge to call.

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  • Resistance is futile, the future is remote: Today So Far

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    Credit: Yasmina H »

    According to one expert, "the realities of 21st century working" is that remote work is the way of doing things from here on out. This shift will take time. But are there naysayers out there?

    This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for September 26, 2022.

    If you're a Seattle-area company struggling with the evolution to remote and hybrid work, there is a message you need to hear: This is going to take time, so be patient. But you should probably make peace with the sobering fact that this is the way of working life from here on out.

    "These are the realities of 21st century working," Anne Helen Petersen told KUOW's Seattle Now. "You can vote for the future, or you can try to hold on to those old ways of working from the past, and then pay a consulting company in five years to tell you to get with the future. Those are your options."

    Petersen is the co-author of "Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home."

    It's hard to discuss this issue without addressing an elephant in the room — managers. Anyone who has worked in an office has their own management horror stories. Whether it's a manager who is more of a babysitter lacking any faith a job can be done without them hovering, or a manager who is a textbook case of the Peter Principle.

    I don't have any evidence to back this up (aside from my own anecdotal experience through years of office work), but I have a feeling that it's managers like the ones mentioned above (and other higher ups) who are hesitant to evolve into remote work. To such managers out there: Is the job getting done, or is your ego just taking a hit when you can't physically tour around cubicles with a coffee mug, reminding people to put cover sheets on their TPS reports? Or ask yourself: Are you good at your job, or is it that you cannot adapt?

    There is evidence, however, to show that this remote/hybrid evolution is growing, especially in our area. The Seattle Times reports that Seattle ranks second in the nation when it comes to remote workers. In fact, the cities that rank high on the Times' list of top remote workers align with other lists of the largest U.S. tech hubs. After a couple years shifting to remote work, there are indications that productivity has not been harmed, and has actually been improved.

    "I think Seattle is really interesting test case, because you have a bunch of things going ton that you will not find in a lot of other cities," Petersen said. "First of all, you have the high concentration of tech workers, and tech companies who are very amenable to flexible work solutions, even before the pandemic."

    Among other reasons Seattle can be so remote-friendly is because we don't have an option in many cases. Petersen further notes that "there have just been a number of catastrophes, for lack of a better word, with Seattle transit, and roadways, and waterways."

    Such as the two-year absence of the West Seattle Bridge, or the struggles with the Washington State Ferry fleet, or how taking mass transit can take hours for simple trips. When you put that up against a commuting workforce, moving to a desk in the other room is far more efficient than losing hours en route to an office.

    "It's just harder to make the case to come into the office," Pertersen said, adding that if your company is dead set on bringing people into the office, then it should also be very supportive of better mass transit.

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  • No more vaccine requirement for travelers entering Canada next month

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    This Saturday, Canada is dropping its Covid vaccination requirement for travelers wanting to enter the country.

    Travelers will also no longer have to upload their vaccination information to the Arrive CAN app starting Oct. 1. They also won't have to wear masks on planes, trains, and cruise ships.

    Canadian officials made the official announcement Monday after reports surfaced about the pending changes.

    The Associated Press reports that Canadian officials made the decision after data indicated the country has passed the peak of the Omicron wave, along with high vaccination rates and new boosters.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. Covid vaccination mandate for foreign nationals entering the country is staying in place for now.

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  • Youth rally to protect salmon in the Snake River

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    caption: Snake River Lower Monumental Dam in Franklin County, Washington.
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    Snake River Lower Monumental Dam in Franklin County, Washington.
    Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

    Everyone must come together to protect salmon. That’s the message from teens at a salmon youth rally on the banks of the Snake River in Lewiston, Idaho.

    At the rally, teens with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation Youth Council asked that politicians protect salmon by removing the four Lower Snake River dams. The four dams in southeastern Washington make it harder for endangered salmon to reach spawning grounds in Idaho.

    Nizhonia Toledo is the president of the youth council. The 18-year-old says the council is fighting for indigenous people. It’s also fighting for the large salmon runs that tribal elders remember.

    “This is the generation we’re growing up in, where we as youth have to stand up and fight for what we used to have," Toledo said.

    The dams also provide key services, including allowing barges to reach the Port of Lewiston, providing farmers with access to irrigation, and generating carbon-free energy.

    U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee have said these benefits must be replaced before the dams can be removed.

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  • Scammer gets 5 years after targeting Washington's unemployment relief in early days of Covid

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    A Nigerian citizen has been sentenced to five years in prison for his efforts to steal identities and scam hundreds of thousands of dollars in economic disaster relief. This includes more than $350,000 that was fraudulently obtained from Washington's Unemployment Security Department in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Abidemi Rufai, 45, pleaded guilty to federal charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in the spring. He was arrested in 2021 as he attempted to fly out of the country at New York’s JFK Airport. At the time, he was serving as a special assistant to the governor of Nigeria's Ogun state.

    But according to the Department of Justice, Rufai also made a living scamming U.S. agencies using stolen identities. He specialized in disaster relief. In 2017, he submitted 49 disaster relief claims in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, ultimately receiving $6,500. His most successful scam was against Washington’s Unemployment Security Department amid the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. More than $350,000 was paid to the fake accounts.

    “Mr. Rufai was relentless in his scheme to use the stolen identities of Americans for fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown in a statement. “He orchestrated ‘mystery shopper’ scams, business email compromise attempts, and filed fake tax returns to financially harm individuals and businesses. But when disaster struck, so did Mr. Rufai. Whether it was hurricane disaster relief, small business loans, or Covid unemployment benefits, he stole aid that should have gone to disaster victims in the United States.”

    Rufai attempted to scam $2.4 million from the U.S. government over the past few years, which includes about $500,000 in pandemic unemployment benefits. He used more than 20,000 stolen American identities in his attempts. He also used the identities to submit fraudulent applications with the Small Business Administration in order to obtain Economic Injury Disaster loans. The SBA paid out $10,000 to those applications. He also submitted unemployment claims in 17 other states.

    “The Employment Security Department deeply appreciates the tireless efforts of the Department of Justice, federal agencies and law enforcement in this matter,” said Cami Feek, Washington's commissioner for the Employment Security Department. “We always stand ready to hold those accountable who steal public funds and we appreciate the partnership in catching and prosecuting this individual.”

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  • Why more stink bugs could be coming to the PNW

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    caption: Brown marmorated stink bug
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    Brown marmorated stink bug
    Credit: Wikipedia Photo/Yerpo (CC BY SA 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1iezQGF

    Another consequence of climate change for Northwest growers could really stink.

    According to a new study from Washington State University, the changing climate could increase suitable habitat for the brown marmorated stink bug in the United States by 70%.

    The bugs like hotter temperatures, but they also like it on the dry side. That's why the study, published in Pest Management Science, found that the mid-Atlantic areas near the Great Lakes, and West Coast valleys, like the Sacramento Valley and Treasure Valley in Idaho, will likely see more of these stinkers.

    “Every system will change with climate change, so the fact that you can grow garbanzo beans, lentils or wheat without these pests now, doesn’t mean that you will not have them in a few years,” the study's lead author Javier Gutierrez Illan said in a statement. “There are mitigating things that we can do, but it is wise to prepare for change.”

    RELATED: Trying to stop a stink bug invasion

    This particular invasive stink bug is known to eat nearly 170 different kinds of plants and crops, including those in the Northwest. It originated in Asia and made its way to the United States about 20 years ago. They are found in over 46 states today.

    Researchers in Washington state have looked to other insects to keep the stink bugs in check, such as the samurai wasp. This particular wasp lays its eggs inside stink bug eggs, destroying them.

    Gutierres Illan, an etymologist with WSU, says awareness of this pest could be beneficial for Northwest farmers as the climate changes.

    “Most growers learn from their parents or from the previous generation, but the information that they had is probably no longer as useful because the climate is changing, so they need these types of tools,” Gutierrez Illan said.


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  • The PNW weather ahead: Today So Far

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    caption: A pedestrian walks through the rain in November 2019 at Kerry Park in Seattle.
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    A pedestrian walks through the rain in November 2019 at Kerry Park in Seattle.
    Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer
    • With a third consecutive La Niña ahead, and a very dry summer behind, what weather should the Northwest expect?
    • Love it or hate it, a new airport is coming to Western Washington. But where?
    • Can seaweed farms help the Northwest?

    This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for September 26, 2022.

    Take a moment to think about this past year we just had. You could be seeing a lot more of it. Last fall was the second La Niña in a row. We ended up having a wet fall, then a dry-ish winter, then a really wet end-of-winter that led to an extended cold, wet spring. The summer was the driest on record. Despite the recent smoky air, wildfire season was more mild than in previous years (though that could be because it's been pushed further out). You have to admit, it's been a unique trip around the sun. KUOW Climatologist Nick Bond says this could be a sort of "dress rehearsal" for how climate change will affect our region.

    “What the climate models are indicating that we are going to have even more of a Mediterranean climate, which is wetter winters and drier summers," Bond said, adding that there are a lot of variables and we shouldn’t expect every year to be like this.

    Currently, we are headed into a third consecutive La Niña season (which is rare). What does this mean for the Northwest this fall/winter? Some things we can't know just yet, like exact temperatures. But Bond says that he is expecting a few things: decent snow pack in the mountains; and October through December will bring plenty of rain.

    I'm not a meteorologist, or a climatologist, or any title with "ologist" attached to the end of it. But I'm going to bet that winter will be colder than summer (I know, I'm being quite bold). I'm not too good at predicting snowy seasons, but around this time of year, I just think it's good advice to make sure your car has chains and a decent emergency kit with blankets, water, food, a tablet with plenty of Star Trek loaded onto it — you know, the essentials.

    Check out KUOW's Angela King's full conversation with Nick Bond here.

    One other thing that Bond brought up is that the climate outlook right now, in regard to oceans, is favorable for our Northwest salmon. Personally, I feel our region's waters are an often overlooked resource. They're good for much more than boozing it up on summer flotillas. We could get energy from them, for example. Or the shoreline could offer housing.

    Our region's waters could also offer snacks. I'm talking about seaweed. There are aspiring local seaweed farmers aiming to grow sugar kelp. Sure, sugar kelp can be packaged for animal feed or even fertilizer. And there could be positive strides toward addressing methane pollution and ocean acidification. But it can also be cooked up into snacks, healthy snacks at that. Read more here.

    You're either going to love the new location for a major airport in Western Washington ... or not. That depends on where the airport is ultimately located. A state commission is charged with finding the location and a decision is expected by June 2023. What we know so far is that it could be one of three options — two sites in Pierce County, and one in Thurston County.

    Aside from the air traffic, a new airport is likely to bring major infrastructure upgrades to accommodate the increased traffic on the ground. That means bigger roads, highways, and more mass transit in areas that are currently more rural. That is making some folks wary. Concerns were addressed at a recent virtual meeting about the three options. However you view it, a new airport is coming. The region is growing. Change is inevitable. Read more here.

    AS SEEN ON KUOW

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  • After 2-year pandemic pause, Seattle-BC train service returns

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    Amtrak service between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., is back up and running as of Monday, Sept. 26. The service, which crosses the U.S.-Canada border, was shut down for two years by the Covid-19 pandemic.

    The first trip embarked out of Seattle at 7:45 a.m. Monday morning. It was slated to make five stops before arriving in Vancouver at 11:45 a.m. The train is scheduled to return at 5:45 p.m.

    Just one daily round trip will be offered, at first, while Amtrak gets its staffing and equipment levels back up to par.

    To commemorate the occasion, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen was aboard the train from Everett to Stanwood. Larsen is a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

    Passengers on the border-crossing train will be required to wear face masks in Canadian train stations as they are traveling through Canada. Also, non-Canadian passengers must be fully vaccinated against Covid and will have to upload their vaccination information to the ArriveCAN app.

    There is still no official word, yet, if Canada plans to drop the ArrivCAN app requirement by the end of the month, but they will be getting rid of the Covid-19 vaccine requirement by Sept. 30 if it's not renewed in the meantime.

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  • UW lauds incoming class as most diverse ever

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    College students are returning to class this week at the University of Washington.

    The fall quarter starts Wednesday, Sept. 28.

    UW is touting the incoming class of 7,250 students as its most diverse ever. According to a statement from the university, "nearly 15% from underrepresented minorities and 23% first generation, or the first in the family to achieve a four-year degree."

    On Sunday, for the first time since 2019, incoming students were able to participate in UW's convocation in person.

    Of the new students, 4,450 are from Washington state, and 1,150 are transferring to UW (80% of transfers are from Washington state's community colleges).

    UW Bothell and UW Tacoma are also welcoming incoming students this week. Bothell is getting 980 freshmen, and Tacoma is getting 600.

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  • Bellevue demonstrators protest Iranian woman's death

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    caption: Demonstrators in Bellevue on Sept. 26, 2022, protesting the death of Mahsa Amini earlier in the month. Amini was arrested by the country's morality police for allegedly not wearing her hijab properly. She died in police custody days later. 
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    Demonstrators in Bellevue on Sept. 26, 2022, protesting the death of Mahsa Amini earlier in the month. Amini was arrested by the country's morality police for allegedly not wearing her hijab properly. She died in police custody days later.
    Credit: Libby Denkmann / KUOW


    Peaceful demonstrations were held in downtown Bellevue over the weekend to protest the death of an Iranian woman who died after being arrested by the country's morality police.

    RELATED: Protests in Iran reach 10th night

    "Say her name: 'Masha Amini.' Say her name: 'Masha Amini,'" the crowd chanted.

    Read more about the Bellevue protest here.

    Masha Amini was 22 when she died days after she was arrested in early September for not wearing her hijab properly. Police say she died of a heart attack, but supporters, and her family, allege police beat her to death.

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  • Skykomish residents told to be prepared for evacuation as Bolt Creek Fire continues to burn

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    Credit: Snohomish County

    Evacuation orders have been raised once again for some people affected by the Bolt Creek Fire burning in Snohomish and King counties.

    Those in Skykomish, and in some communities along the Old Cascade Highway west and east of town, are now under level two evacuation orders. That means "be ready to leave."

    Incident commander Kevin Griffey says there's also a potential for increased fire activity Monday.

    "We're going to be into a fire weather watch, which means increased fire activity throughout the next 72 hours," Griffey said. "We've brought in extra resources to deal with that increased activity for days and nights, we've got helicopters on standby ... ready to come in. If the activity increases enough, we'll order that up."

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  • Pierce, Thurston counties in running for new NW airport

    KUOW Newsroom
    caption: The Seattle Port Commission oversees a vast transportation empire, which includes Sea-Tac airport and the working waterfront.
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    The Seattle Port Commission oversees a vast transportation empire, which includes Sea-Tac airport and the working waterfront.
    Credit: Port of Seattle

    A state commission Friday narrowed its list of sites for a new two-runway airport to three locations in rural Thurston and Pierce counties.

    All three sites under consideration by the Commercial Aviation Coordinating Commission would require major new highway expansions – or mass transit lines – to reach population centers.

    A representative from Futurewise expressed concern over the carbon emissions such expansions could create.

    But WSDOT Aviation Planner Robert Hodgman said his team is already thinking about ways to mediate the potential environmental impact.

    "We've talked with our colleagues in the rail and freight and port's division about how we could accommodate rail and eliminate a lot of those vehicle miles traveled," Hodgman said.

    The three potential airport sites are well outside the urban growth boundary that constrains urban sprawl to protect farms, forests, and the health of Puget Sound.

    (Update: A WSDOT spokesperson says Thurston County’s site could potentially fall partly in Lacey’s urban growth area).

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