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Republicans give the president obedience, yes, but that’s not true loyalty.
The Market One thing is for sure: Very few stocks have had a trend for months. This is true, even if we take the semiconductors, which have had quite mixed results in terms of news. Some earnings have been lowered in the group and still the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index (SOX:Nasdaq) is at 1560. That’s the same place it was as we headed into early May when the China trade deal first fell apart.
The decline in September just filled the early September gap, but it’s not as though there has been much progress made, is there? Or what about the banks? They had a terrific move in September, but all it did was recapture what it lost in August. Then they promptly gave half of the move back last week. That means overall the Bank Index (BKX:Nasdaq) is the same place it was in early February.
Remember how fabulous the software sector was this year, or so they said? Well iShares North American Tech-Software (IGV:NYSE), an exchange-traded fund for software, is the same place it was in March. That’s six months of nothing. I know the chart looks like a giant head-and-shoulders top, but is it too obvious? What if it crosses that downtrend line in the coming weeks? Sure, that’s possible, but in the meantime, the point is we’re talking about a big fat nothing for six months in what is supposed to be the hottest group. ...Click to view a price quote on GS.
Hmmm... well, the screens-within-screens and cameras stuff also appeared in A Hard Day's Night, and this feels like a hyped-up version of real UK pop shows...
ST. LOUIS – Yadier Molina pushed the St. Louis Cardinals to a deciding Game 5 of the NL Division Series, poking a tying single in the eighth inning and lifting a sacrifice fly in the 10th to beat the Atlanta Braves 5-4 Monday.
Molina slung his bat far into the outfield after his winner, and the crowd at Busch Stadium roared with the longtime heart of the franchise.
“An elite, special player, that’s what he is,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said.
Game 5 will be Wednesday back in Atlanta. The Cardinals will have ace Jack Flaherty on the mound, and the Braves will go with Mike Foltynewicz.
Kolten Wong led off the St. Louis 10th with a ground-rule double against Julio Teheran. After Paul Goldschmidt was intentionally walked, Wong advanced on Marcell Ozuna’s forceout and easily scampered home on Molina’s fly to the front of the warning track in left field.
Wong threw his hands in the air as he ran toward the plate. Molina rounded first base with his bat in hand, then flung it away as the celebration erupted. The 37-year-old catcher discarded his batting helmet as the rest of the Cardinals poured onto the field.
Molina made it 4-all with a two-out single in the eighth that went just off the top of the glove of a leaping Freddie Freeman at first.
“I thought it was going in there,” the 6-foot-5 Freeman said. “I just needed to be 6-7.”
Ozzie Albies homered and drove in three runs for Atlanta, and Ronald Acuna Jr. had four hits. But the NL East champions went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position, a continuing problem in the postseason over the past two years.
The Braves left the bases loaded in the sixth and seventh. Acuna was stranded on third when Josh Donaldson flied out in the ninth.
“We’re a hit away from – just some productive outs – from continuing to add on,” manager Brian Snitker said.
Ozuna homered twice for St. Louis, and Goldschmidt also connected. But the NL Central champions were four outs from a second straight difficult loss before Molina delivered down the stretch.
Albies gave Atlanta a 4-3 lead with a two-run homer off Dakota Hudson in the fifth, capping a three-run rally.
The Braves carried the advantage all the way into the eighth, but Goldschmidt doubled and Molina came up with the tying hit off Shane Greene.
Carlos Martinez gave St. Louis a lift after Acuna led off the ninth with a double, retiring three in a row. The closer took the loss Sunday when he gave up three runs in the ninth in Atlanta’s 3-1 victory.
Game 1 starter Miles Mikolas worked the 10th for the win.
Dansby Swanson had two hits and scored twice for Atlanta, which has dropped its last nine postseason rounds – just one off the major league record held by the Chicago Cubs. The Braves are trying to advance to the franchise’s first NL Championship Series since 2001.
What is it? Washington State (3-2, 0-2) looks to break out of a two-game funk in Pac-12 play when it travels to face No. 18 Arizona State (4-1, 1-1).
Where is it? Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.
When is it? Kickoff is 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where can I watch it? The game will air on the Pac-12 Networks.
Who is favored? ASU opened as a three-point favorite.
How did they fare last week? The Cougars and Sun Devils were both idle this week. Previously, Washington State suffered a 38-13 loss to Utah in Salt Lake City, while Arizona State edged Cal 24-17 on Friday night in Berkeley.
Why WSU will win: If the Cougars can merely match their season average for scoring offense, they’ll have an opportunity to walk away with their first conference win. While ASU has shown some offensive improvement in Pac-12 play, the Sun Devils are still 10th in the conference, scoring 22.8 points per game – half as many as the Cougars, who are No. 1 in the league at 44.8 ppg. The Sun Devils have had one of the conference’s top defenses this season, but in five games, they’ve faced only one top-50 offense (Colorado) and haven’t encountered one that’s scoring more than 35 ppg. While the Cougars dropped consecutive Pac-12 games in 2016, they haven’t lost three in a row since 2014, which was also the last time WSU missed out on a postseason berth.
Why ASU will win: While Mike Leach believes Tracy Claeys’ sudden exit could be a spark for his football team, it’s anyone’s guess how a midseason defensive coordinator shakeup affects preparation and performance on game day. More pertinent than that, though, are all the areas in which the Cougars have struggled defensively this season. WSU hasn’t faced a truly prolific passing attack this season, yet the Cougars have given up 841 yards and seven touchdowns through the air the last two games. Jayden Daniels and the Sun Devils aren’t known for their aerial prowess, either, but ASU’s freshman QB, similar to UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Utah’s Tyler Huntley is a capable runner who can make things happen outside of the pocket and make the Cougars pay if they aren’t disciplined in pass coverage. WSU avoided Zack Moss in Salt Lake City, but the Cougars won’t be able to escape ASU’s Eno Benjamin, who’s rushed for 392 yards and six touchdowns this season.
What happened last time: Due to Pac-12 scheduling rotations, it’s been three full years since the Cougars and Sun Devils met last. In 2016, WSU extended what would become an eight-game win streak with a 37-32 win over ASU in the desert. After Mike Leach accused Sun Devils coach Todd Graham of stealing signals during a mid-week press conference, the Cougars and Luke Falk passed for 398 yards, while Gabe Marks made eight grabs for 107 yards and a touchdown. WSU trailed 14-3 early, but safety Robert Taylor made it a one-score game when he returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, and the Cougars scored 28 consecutive points to lead by as many as 17 points.
BILLINGS – This may be a tale that only dentists can appreciate, but the teeth of dead Yellowstone wolves are helping scientists understand the life of predators more than 11,000 years ago.
Inside the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center is a collection of 160 skulls of adult Yellowstone wolves. By examining the skulls, along with other collections from around the country and world, UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology Blaire Van Valkenburgh and her colleagues have theorized a relationship between the declining amount of prey available and how the big canines consume their wildlife kills.
The theory is based on cracked and broken wolf teeth and the number of prey animals available to the predators, along with how much of their kills the predators consume. In Yellowstone, for example, wolf biologist Doug Smith said researchers will assess wolf kill sites to examine the number of bones present.
“When (wolves) are not so hungry, they don’t chew on the long bones so much,” he said. “That aligns well with other indicators of how well they are eating.”
For example, in Yellowstone the ratio of elk to wolves was more than 600-to-1 when wolves were reintroduced to the park in 1995. Since reintroduction, 90% of the wolves’ diet has been elk.
With lots of elk on the landscape, wolves initially flourished. But the hunting gradually became more difficult as elk numbers declined to a ratio of about 100-to-1.
By examining the Yellowstone wolf skulls, Van Valkenburgh saw that in the first 10 years after their reintroduction the wolves rarely broke their teeth. But in the next decade, as the elk population fell, the number of broken wolves’ teeth doubled, including the larger teeth wolves use when hunting and chewing.
Since elk were getting harder to find and kill, the broken teeth were likely the result of the wolves consuming more of the elk carcasses, including munching on bones in search of additional nourishment from bone marrow, Van Valkenburgh and her colleagues theorized. That resulted in more cracked and broken wolf teeth.
“Broken teeth cannot heal, so most of the time carnivores are not going to chew on bones and risk breaking their teeth unless they have to,” Van Valkenburgh said in a UCLA press release.
Smith said even though the Yellowstone wolves suffered more broken teeth, 90% were still in good shape. One thing he has noticed in looking at the wolf skulls is that about half have misaligned teeth.
“Quite often, they have wear that’s indicative of a misaligned bite,” he said. “I’m pretty sure it’s because they get kicked in the face all of the time (when pursuing bison and elk). They always deal with it, though. Wolves are resilient.”
He noted that being kicked in the head by prey is one of the leading causes of wolf deaths in Yellowstone.
So how does this relate to ancient predators during the Pleistocene, an epoch that stretched from 2.5 million years ago to about 11,700 years ago?
In the 1990s, Van Valkenburgh and other scientists had examined the skulls of Pleistocene predators – such as dire wolves and saber-toothed cats – that were pulled from California’s La Brea Tar Pits. Those animals had shown rates of broken teeth that were two to four times higher than in modern animals.
“Our new study suggests that the cause of this tooth fracture may have been more intense competition for food in the past than in present large carnivore communities,” Van Valkenburgh said in the press release.
As large plant eaters like giant ground sloths, mammoths and mastodons declined in the Pleistocene, their predators had to crunch more bones to get the nutrition they needed. Why the large herbivores and their predators eventually went extinct has been debated, although human hunters and climate change are two of the main suspects.
With the loss of their main prey, the ferocious predators of the Pleistocene – animals that in some cases were twice as big as today’s tigers, African lions and spotted hyenas – also became extinct.
Van Valkenburgh’s theory about tooth problems played out in other wolf populations as well. She also examined 64 adult wolf skulls from Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior and 94 skulls from Scandinavia, collected between 1998 and 2010. She compared these with the skulls of 223 wolves that died between 1874 and 1952, from Alaska, Texas, New Mexico, Idaho and Canada.
The pattern was similar for the Isle Royale wolves, which prey primarily on adult moose – with moose numbers pegged at about 55-to-1, wolves had lots of broken and worn teeth. Isle Royale wolves had high frequencies of broken and heavily worn teeth, reflecting the fact that they consumed about 90% of the bodies of the moose they killed.
The teeth of Scandinavian wolves told a different story. The ratio of moose to wolves is nearly 500-to-1 in Scandinavia, so Van Valkenburgh found few broken teeth among the wolves.
“The wolves could find moose easily, not eat the bones, and move on,” she said.
Van Valkenburgh believes her findings apply beyond gray wolves to other large carnivores – such as lions, tigers and bears – and that looking at the teeth of big predators can help scientists understand if lack of prey is one of their problems.
“We want to understand the factors that increase mortality in large carnivores that, in many cases, are near extinction,” she said. “Getting good information on that is difficult. Studying tooth fracture is one way to do so, and can reveal changing levels of food stress in big carnivores.”
Co-authors of the study were Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich, professors of forest resources and environmental science at Michigan Technological University; and Smith and Daniel Stahler, wildlife biologists with the National Park Service.
The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and National Park Service.
A new, controversial piece of legislation out of California sent the college basketball world into a frenzy over the past week.
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law SB206, which would allow college athletes to gain compensations for their likeness. In essence, it makes it illegal for California colleges to disallow their student-athletes from profiting off themselves and allows agents to be hired to help promote them – both of which has been strictly prohibited by the NCAA.
There has been similar legislation introduced in other states, but the Golden State was the first to enact a game-altering change.
It doesn’t go into effect until January 1, 2023, but the result has sparked reactions from all over the college landscape.
Most of the reactions have been centered around money. Earlier this week, Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth agreed that student-athletes deserve more than what is currently available to them.
Gonzaga men’s basketball head coach Mark Few was asked about it at the West Coast Conference tip-off event in Las Vegas and didn’t pull any punches, calling the law a publicity stunt by grandstanding politicians.
On Saturday, Few expanded on those thoughts and said the NCAA has been working on a solution for a while.
“We were already on it,” he said. “That doesn’t seem to be written about much. We already had a committee working on it, and some really good people and some smart people, and I think they are going to announce some things in a little bit. It is the kind of the world we live in; everyone just lashes out early and everybody reacts.”
In the few days since the new law was signed, the sports and political landscapes collided as everyone wanted to offer their opinion – from inside and outside the NCAA.
“I think everybody is kind of moving really fast on it,” Few said. “But I think there will be some really smart people, practitioners, day to day in our sport who can make some solid decisions and not get influenced by people outside of our profession chirping in.”
Few wanted to make it clear, as did Roth, that he is for some sort of compensation plan, but there have to be logical safeguards in place.
“I am hoping some good things come about from it. I am certainly all for it as long as we can have some sort of plan, some ways to easily regulate it,” Few said. “You have to take your time and look at the effect. You don’t just enact things and go from there; that usually leads to a disaster.”
Checking with student-athletes within the GU men’s locker room, the overall thought was yes, compensation should be made available to them, but no one knew exactly what that should entail.
Junior forward Corey Kispert was happy to see the news, hoping that it jump-starts the movement so changes can be enacted sooner rather than later.
“It is pretty exciting for me, to see states take steps toward treatment of athletes, and I think that is a good thing,” he said. “I think it is progressive, and I think they are making steps in the right direction. I think a lot of people are jumping the gun a little bit and are talking when they don’t really know what’s going, on and that’s why I am keeping my mouth shut about it.”
Assistant coach Brian Michaelson has a unique perspective. He was a student-athlete within the past 15 years, and now is a coach of student-athletes. Laws haven’t changed much since he was a player. He, too, thinks players should get a piece of the pie, but there needs to be a nuanced approach.
“It is going to be a long process, and I definitely think that student-athletes deserve all of the benefits they can get, but there are just too many things logistically on where that is going to go, and how you do it, that we just need to be patient and take a big step back, and kind of wait for it play out a little bit,” he said.
The Spokane Chiefs and Everett Silvertips play nine times this season, and if Sunday’s game was any indication, the season series could be a good one.
The teams traded periods of possession and impressive goals, but it was a 4-minute stretch to start the third period that decided Everett’s 4-3 win at the Arena. The Silvertips, entering the final period down a goal, scored twice in 2:14 to turn the tables, taking a lead they wouldn’t give up.
Bryce Kindopp scored twice for Everett, including the game-winner, and added an assist. Michal Gut had three assists. The Chiefs saw eight skaters put up points.
Keegan Karki stopped 27 shots in the win. Campbell Arnold turned back 21 for Spokane.
“It’s one of those games. At times we had momentum and at times they had momentum,” Spokane head coach Manny Viveiros said. “A couple minutes there in the third period, we made some mental mistakes and they scored. Our kids worked hard and fought hard. That’s three games in two-and-a-half days almost, and at times we ran out of gas.”
The Chiefs, playing their third game in as many nights, came away with four points out of a possible six over the weekend. Not bad, especially against their U.S. Division foes.
The Chiefs lost 20-year-old Jake McGrew at the end of the first period after he was knocked out in a fight with Gianni Fairbrother. McGrew was motionless on the ice and needed help getting to the dressing room. His status is unknown.
McGrew left with the game tied at one after Kindopp opened the scoring at 5:15. Spokane’s Bear Hughes answered on the power play a little more than three minutes later. Hughes’ goal came on Spokane’s first shot of the game at the 8:36 mark.
The Chiefs came out flying in the second period, and forward Adam Beckman contributed that partially to the team seeing McGrew go down.
“He put himself on the line for us. We’re battling for him because we love Jake and hopefully he’ll be OK, but we worked hard for him,” Beckman said.
Beckman gave Spokane its first lead at 3:13 of the second period when he scored 7 seconds into a power play. Jacob Wright answered for Everett at 14:24 to tie the game.
But almost two minutes later, 16-year-old Brandon Reller got his first career goal and gave Spokane a 3-2 lead on a beautiful play with Erik Atchison and Ty Smith.
Fairbrother caught a skate edge and went down, allowing Reller to snatch the puck and race in two-on-one with Atchison. Reller found Smith trailing, who then slid a pass to Atchison, who sent a pass back to Reller for the one-timer.
“I love Reller’s energy when he’s out there, it was real good,” Viveiros said.
Brendan Lee spoiled Reller’s would-be game-winner when he scored for Everett just 1:39 into the third. Kindopp answered with his second of the night at 3:53. The Chiefs had a flurry of chances at the end with their net empty, but could not put one past Karki.
“We had a lull at the beginning of that period and that’s ultimately what cost us tonight,” Beckman said.
Graham Sward was another 16-year-old who saw his first action on home ice.
Sward played on the third defensive pairing and even got some power-play time.
“Sward looks like he’s a veteran,” Viveiros said. “It’s his second game this year, and he looks poised and didn’t look like he is 16 years old.”
The Chiefs will stay in Spokane this week and host the Prince George Cougars on Friday before the Victoria Royals visit on Saturday.
STANFORD, Calif. – The Washington Huskies’ passing game is broken.
That fact was evident at 10:48 on Saturday night as Chris Petersen’s Huskies trudged in a sad procession toward the southeast tunnel at Stanford Stadium. As they did, the public address announcer boomed, “When the eastern part of the country wakes up in the morning, they’ll see the final score: Stanford 23, Washington 13!”
Senior wide receiver Aaron Fuller walked with his helmet on, head down, his once-white jersey now stained various shades of green and red. The jersey, in this case, was a visual receipt; it spoke silently, but unmistakably, reflecting Fuller’s substantial role in the Husky offense.
Terrell Bynum’s jersey was clean. Andre Baccellia’s jersey was clean. Quinten Pounds’ jersey was clean. Marquis Spiker’s jersey was clean. Austin Osborne’s jersey was clean. Puka Nacua’s jersey was clean.
They either didn’t receive an opportunity, or failed to take advantage when they did.
Indeed, the 5-foot-11, 188-pound Fuller was targeted a whopping 17 times Saturday night, and turned in nine catches (and at least three drops) for 171 yards, with a long of 37.
Otherwise, UW’s remaining wide receivers combined for an utterly incompetent two catches for 10 yards … which all came in the fourth quarter. No other Husky pass-catcher was targeted more than five times on the night. Junior tight end Hunter Bryant caught just one pass for 8 yards and dropped a pair of passes that would have extended drives on third down.
Junior quarterback Jacob Eason, meanwhile, completed all five of his pass attempts for 56 yards and a touchdown in his team’s torrid opening drive. He completed 11 of 31 passes for 150 yards and an interception, while being sacked twice, the rest of the way.
It’s been written before, but bears repeating: entering the game, Stanford’s defense ranked 127th nationally in opponent completion percentage (70.6), 126th in opponent pass efficiency rating (170.60), 124th in opponent yards per attempt (9.4), 115th in passing defense (287.4 yards a game) and 111th in touchdown passes allowed (11).
So how did this happen? Or, as Petersen was asked in the postgame news conference, “What needs to change to get the passing game going?”
“That’s a good question. That’s a good question,” he repeated. “(There were) dropped balls, and we’ve got to give our quarterback more answers, too. I know a couple times he was standing back there without answers.
“But you couple that with little protection stuff and he’s running around, and a couple guys didn’t make plays for him. And when you’re not going to get the ball a bunch, you better capitalize.”
Here’s what not-getting-the-ball-a-bunch looks like: Baccellia, UW’s senior starter opposite Fuller, has excelled in three nonconference games – posting 13 catches for 195 and two touchdowns.
But in three games against Pac-12 competition, he has been rendered utterly ineffective, managing just six catches – two per game – for 41 yards. Still, the coaching staff has (perhaps stubbornly) stuck with him. Saturday, he contributed one essentially irrelevant catch for a single yard on five targets.
Senior wide receiver Chico McClatcher, meanwhile, has not caught a pass since the 52-20 victory over Hawaii on Sept. 14. Nacua – a 6-1, 204-pound former four-star freshman – has been targeted a grand total of one time this season, and he turned that target into a picturesque 28-yard touchdown. And it’s not that Puka isn’t playing, either; the highly touted freshman receiver just rarely runs a route. Most often, he enters the game, blocks for a running play and then immediately exits again. This begs the obvious question: they burned his redshirt so he could block?
As for the trio of talented former four-star redshirt freshmen, Austin Osborne has recorded one catch for minus-2 yards this season. Spiker – who holds the California state prep record with 72 receiving touchdowns – has played in three games without earning a target, and 182-pound speedster Trey Lowe has been sidelined for the first six games with an infection.
Petersen often has repeated that those who practice most consistently will earn opportunities in games. But, if Fuller and Baccellia are so much better than everybody else, isn’t that also an issue? If players as presumably talented as Nacua, Osborne and Spiker all can’t earn a target in a lopsided 10-point defeat, who’s really to blame?
When asked if UW’s pass game woes can be traced to personnel and an inability to get open, Petersen said, “I think it’s everything. We’ll look at the tape there. But like I said, I know a couple times we’ve just got to cut our losses. (Eason) threw a couple good balls in there that we didn’t make plays on. We’ve got do a better job, there’s no question, in the pass game.”
In three nonconference games, Eason has completed 77.5% of his passes, throwing for 901 yards and 10 touchdowns with one interception (while being sacked just once).
Meanwhile, in three Pac-12 contests, the former Lake Stevens High School standout has completed just 54.3% of his passes, throwing for 548 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions (while being sacked seven times).
In Eason, Washington touts perhaps the Pac-12’s (and the nation’s?) most physically talented passer. And yet the Huskies rank sixth in the conference in passing touchdowns (11), seventh in completion percentage (65.8), eighth in yards per attempt (8.1) and pass efficiency rating (150.4) and ninth in passing offense (248.8 yards a game).
Too often, Eason has stood in the backfield without any answers. Perhaps that’s play-calling. Perhaps it’s personnel, or coaching, or preparation, or all of the above. With UW’s next three Pac-12 games coming against 4-1 Arizona, 4-1 Oregon and 4-1 Utah, Petersen and Co., have precious little time to improve their suddenly incompetent passing attack.
The Huskies’ jerseys were clean on Saturday night.
Their execution was anything but.
Following years of planning and construction, two new nonmotorized trails at Fishtrap Lake Recreation Area are finished, offering visitors an intimate view of channeled scablands that were roughed out by cataclysmic Ice Age Floods.
Trail markers were set to be installed this weekend, but hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians who already had found their way around the loops since spring are giving rave reviews.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management began planning the new trails in 2013, two years after Bob Strong, a Spokane hiker, suggested the Fishtrap experience would be vastly more stimulating if a trail system could be established beyond the old ranch roads that had served the previous private landowners.
The “Miller Ranch” had been in Charles Miller’s family since 1871 before he and his wife, Diane, sold the 8,000 acres to BLM for $2.5 million in 1992. Summer cattle grazing is still allowed, as fall hikers will notice as they occasionally skip over the cow pies.
Strong was right. The new trails – the product of more than 4,000 hours of volunteer planning and labor – form two joined loops of 4.9 miles and 5.3 miles. The lead visitors to sites never seen from the road routes. Combining the two loops into a figure-8 route makes an outstanding 10-mile trek for foot, bike or horse.
Of the 446,000 acres in Washington managed by BLM, the Fishtrap Recreation Area is emerging as a natural standout for trails. And it’s just 30 minutes west of Spokane.
Straddling the Spokane-Lincoln county line, the federal land is a textbook example of channeled scablands that flourish with native plants and wildlife some 12,000-15,000 years after being ravaged by a series of violent floods emanating from Lake Missoula during the Ice Age. The centerpiece is 190-acre Fishtrap Lake, perhaps best-known in modern times for its spring-summer fishing season for trout stocked by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Fishtrap had long been an attraction for Native Americans who foraged there and used traps to catch fish near the outlet. “That’s the source of the lake’s name,” BLM archeologist Anne Boyd said.
Some of the rock in the area includes a high amount of flint-like materials Native Americans could collect to make arrowheads, knives, spear points and other tools that require a sharp edge, she said. “Natural caves formed during Ice Age Floods were used as rock shelters.”
Fishtrap Lake trails are especially inviting starting in March when hikers are antsy to stretch their legs long before mountain trails are snow-free, said Holly Weiler, the Washington Tails Association’s East Side projects coordinator.
“I’ve never seen so much wildflower diversity in one hike,” she said at the end of a late-May outing. She also pointed out that islands of golden aspens light up among scattered ponderosa pines during fall.
“You can hike there through November, and I’ve cross-country skied there in winter when conditions allow. There’s so much more to that country that what you see from Interstate 90.”
Indeed, the variety of habitats – wetlands, ponds, lakes, riparian, brush, forest, sage, steppe and grassland have created an outstanding birding spot. Fishtrap is a favorite for native plant groups to visit. Geology enthusiasts know there are mysterious mima mounds to ponder and much more to discover.
Groundbreaking for the new trails began on Sept. 26, 2015, as WTA, the Spokane Mountaineers and Backcountry Horsemen teamed with pulaskis and other tools to celebrate National Public Lands Day with a work party.
“There was some rocky ground to deal with and drainage is an issue in some places,” Weiler said. “Despite the arid look to the area, there are a lot of wetlands with lush growth.”
The biggest problem for trail makers was dealing with the changes to the landscape caused by the Watermelon Hill fire that leaped through 13,000 acres in 2014. “Snags from the fire’s impact on ponderosa pine stands created hazards, especially when the wind blew,” she said.
That hazard lingers in a few spots five years after the fire. “One small area had 11 blowdowns after wind events this spring,” Weiler said.
Steve Smith, BLM’s Spokane-based recreation manager, said he had organized horsemen to join Weiler this weekend in marking the loops with flexible fiberglass Carsonite posts.
Now the trails need visits and wear from hooves, fat tires and feet to keep them tramped out and visible.
Fishtrap South Loop
The South Loop is 5.3 miles and 500 feet of cumulative elevation gain that reward hikers with impressive views of the lake, geologic features, wetlands and a break at Farmer’s Landing.
Start through the gate at the northeast end of the parking lot and hike the loop clockwise.
The singletrack trail passes wetlands on the right, rock outcroppings on the left, and goes through the middle of an aspen grove before reaching an earthen stock pond where ducks often rest.
Continue through the gate in the fence and hike up the draw until the trail climbs onto the flat above. At 1.2 miles, bear right on a doubletrack trail coming from the Miller Ranch House trailhead. Go a short way and notice the North Loop trail merging in from the left. Go a short way farther and take the singletrack angling left off the wider trail. The two loop trails share this 0.7-mile segment heading southeast, down off the plateau to a junction (at mile 2 of the hike) on a bluff above The Narrows of Fishtrap Lake.
To do the 10-mile figure 8 loop, go left (north) here. To stay on the South Loop, turn right and hike a scenic 0.2-mile stretch of the bluff with the lake on your left. Watch for cliff swallows and turkey vultures during summer.
The trail makes an S curve away from the lake, goes through fence gate and climbs up to a flat area. Check out the spur trail at 2.6 miles leading left to a scenic point above a cliff that drops to the lake. The crater, big enough to swallow a house on the north side of the spur trail, is a kolk – the erosive result of powerful whirlpools during the Ice Age Floods.
From here, the main trail heads west and then bends south and drops into a vegetated basin of timber heavily impacted by the 2014 Watermelon Fire. Skirt along the cattails rimming a large pothole and up through a pass to another bluff walk. Soon you’ll drop down to an open point and picnic spot called Farmers Landing, at 3.6 miles. The lake ends a half mile to the south.
The singletrack heads west from Farmers Landing, through a low, wet area, then merging with a doubletrack that leads 1.7 miles back to the trailhead. The sound of gunfire is common in this stretch from target shooting that occurs nearby.
If water is flowing across the trail in a wetland 0.4 mile before reaching the trailhead, look upstream to the right for boards that enable a dry crossing.
Fishtrap North Loop
The North Loop is 4.9 miles with 460 feet of elevation gain rewarded with long stretches of wide open views and a trip to the lake’s edge and back.
Go through the Fishtrap Road parking lot gate. Head south on a doubletrack for nearly 0.4 mile and bear right on a singletrack that forks west at 0.6 mile between two pothole craters. Then the trail heads south along an open rim with wetlands on your right. Bitterroots bloom in the gravely areas here in late May.
At 1.9 miles, the route makes a sharp left onto a double track that’s coming from Miller Ranch House. Go a short way south and bear left on a singletrack that’s shared with the South Loop to a junction on a scenic bluff overlooking The Narrows of Fishtrap Lake at 2.7 miles.
To do the 10-mile figure-8 loop, go right (south) here. To stay on the North Loop, turn left and head north with the lake on your right for 0.8 mile before the trail turns left from a bluff and leaves the lake behind. Hike to a junction at 3.6 miles and turn right onto a doubletrack.
At 3.9 mile, be on guard for the singletrack angling off to the left. (The doubletrack will get you back to the trailhead, but the singletrack offers more interesting scenery.)
Climb up to a plateau. At nearly 4.3 miles, bear right onto the familiar trail between two pothole craters and hike 0.6 mile north to the trailhead.
Gonzaga’s Kraziness in the Kennel scrimmage – often ragged but packed with examples of the team’s considerable potential – had just concluded when coach Mark Few noticed his players milling around on the court.
Few reminded them of the Zags’ post-practice/game tradition of huddling at center court and acknowledging the fans if there’s an audience – in this case the 6,000-plus Saturday inside the McCarthey Athletic Center.
“We didn’t know if we should do it or not at Kraziness,” freshman forward Drew Timme said, “but he reminded us.”
It was an example of just how new the Zags are with six freshmen and two graduate transfers donning GU uniforms in game-like conditions for the first time. They were even younger without senior Killian Tillie. The most experienced Zag had knee surgery Thursday, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll be sidelined for too long.
The newcomers appear to be catching on quickly during this crash-course introduction to Gonzaga’s system. Older, more established players shined the most in the 16-minute scrimmage, with junior forward Corey Kispert, sophomores Filip Petrusev and Joel Ayayi, and grad transfers Admon Gilder and Ryan Woolridge leading the way.
It was no coincidence those five suited up primarily for the Blue, which consisted of the current top seven to eight players, although Ayayi, Timme, Brock Ravet and Anton Watson switched teams near the midpoint.
The Blue cruised to a 43-23 win over the White. Gilder went 3 for 3 on 3-pointers and scored 14 points. Kispert added 11 points, Petrusev seven and point guard Woolridge played roughly 14 turnover-free minutes while contributing four points. Ayayi drained three long 3s.
The freshmen had their moments, including Timme and Watson each with six points and point guard Ravet showing off his shooting range and passing ability.
“As is usually the case, the older guys, especially when you get under the lights, react a little better but some of the young guys, Drew and Anton have picked up things well,” Few said. “Brock had a good day and that’s a good sign.”
Perhaps the best sign was Gilder (blood clot) and Woolridge (kneecap surgery) playing without restriction following health issues last season. Both admitted they’re not quite 100 percent, but they’re getting closer with the season opener one month away.
“We’re really counting on those two to have an impact,” Few said.
Not to mention several of the freshmen. Timme, Watson and Ravet looked the most comfortable on the court.
The Kennel Club offered a warm ovation when four recruits – GU commits Dominick Harris and Julian Strawther and uncommitted Minneapolis teammates Jalen Suggs and Chet Homgren – sat down courtside. Suggs, Harris and Strawther are close friends and have called themselves the “Tricky Trio,” which prompted a “Tricky Trio” chant from the student section.
The overflow crowd was fully engaged during the 3-point contest as Ravet connected from beyond the new 3-point line of 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches, approved by the NCAA in June. Gilder edged Ayayi in one semifinal and Ravet knocked off Kispert by draining a tiebreaking 3 from the corner.
Ravet continued burying corner 3s, hitting 6 of 8 and also 4 of 4 from the top of the key to defeat Gilder in the final.
Petrusev captured the skills competition, which consisted of dribbling slalom-style through cones, passing to a fan and then hitting a layup/dunk, free throw and 3-pointer.
The 6-11 sophomore defeated Watson in the semifinals and Timme in the finals. The two big men bumped and pushed each other several times, trying to throw off the opponent’s shot, before Petrusev connected on the deciding 3-pointer.
“It was great, as always,” Petrusev said of the environment. “It gave everybody a sense of how that feels, which is important because there’s a lot of new guys.”
Timme already had a feel for the Kennel after visiting along with Ravet for Kraziness a year ago.
“It’s not even a game, it’s literally just a glorified practice and that many fans show up,” Timme said. “It’s the main reason I fell in love with the place.”
The whole team will probably hear from the coaching staff when it gathers to review the scrimmage videotape. The White team committed 14 turnovers.
“It was our first time out there and everyone was a little antsy,” Timme said. “We definitely might get an ear or two chewed off in film, but that’s how you learn.”
SACRAMENTO, California – A towel on his head and hands on his face, Eastern Washington quarterback Eric Barriere appeared dejected as he sat alone on the Hornet Stadium bench midway through the second quarter.
Barriere was shelved for portions of the second and third quarters after being looked at by trainers for an unspecified injury, but Sacramento State had already established a two-touchdown lead before his initial exit, including a Barriere interception that turned into a 27-yard scoring return.
When the Walter Payton Award candidate returned after a few fruitless drives with backup Gunner Talkington, the Eagles regained their pulse, pulling within a possession of the resurgent Hornets, who then had a clock-eating touchdown drive for a 41-27 lead.
George Obinna then proceeded to add an exclamation point.
Sacramento State’s star defensive end picked up a Barriere fumble in the final 2 minutes and rumbled 73 yards for the Hornets’ in a convincing 48-27 upset of the swooning Eagles.
The Hornets (3-2, 1-0 Big Sky) totaled 471 yards against EWU, their first home win over the Eagles in program history.
The Eagles (2-4, 1-1) were picked to win the Big Sky and were ranked as high as No. 4 in the preseason. With five games remaining, they will likely have to win out for a chance at a playoff berth or a possible share of the title.
EWU offensive tackle Chris Schlichting held back emotion as he voiced his frustration over the loss and the program’s worst start since 2011.
“We have potential All-Americans all throughout that locker room, we have dudes who know what they’re doing, so this is just hard,” Schlichting said. “Especially since you want to win for the fans and win for this university, then you do stuff like this.”
Sacramento State, led by former EWU offensive coordinator Troy Taylor, was also menacing on defense.
Leading the Big Sky in fewest points allowed heading into the game, Sacramento State piled up seven sacks in its first win over an Football Championship Subdivision Top 25 team since 2012.
Hornets quarterback Kevin Thomson orchestrated a lengthy, 13-play touchdown drive in the fourth quarter to make it 41-27 with 6:16 remaining that took away the Eagles’ momentum.
Thomson, an Auburn, Washington, native, passed for 315 yards and three touchdowns, helping the Hornets jump out to an early 21-7 lead. He wasn’t sacked.
Elijah Dotson also frustrated the Eagles with 103 rushing yards.
The typically downtrodden Hornets have also shut out Northern Colorado 50-0 and gave brawny Football Bowl Subdivision foes Arizona State (19-7 loss) and Fresno State (34-20 loss) fits.
“We came in with the expectation to win the game, and nobody blinked,” said Taylor, an offensive coordinator at EWU in 2016. “Everyone bought it and it’s nice to see them rewarded with a big win.”
EWU came out hot, though.
The Eagles scored on the game’s opening possession, a 12-play drive capped by Barriere’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Talolo Limu-Jones.
When Barriere left in the second quarter with his team trailing, the Eagles were ineffective. Talkington struggled through a series of three-and-out drives, completing 2 of 11 passes for 27 yards, and was sacked twice.
“We’re depleted, but so what – that’s not an excuse,” EWU coach Aaron Best said. “We’re not good enough in some areas. We aren’t disciplined enough in areas. We don’t make enough plays in areas and we hold too much on offense.”
Barriere completed 22 of 42 passes for 309 yards, two touchdowns an interception and rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, a statistic boosted by a 92-yard touchdown run in the first half.
“He was shifty, hard to tackle,” Obinna said of Barriere. “Every time he ran out of the pocket, it was an extra effort. But just trusting everyone to do their job is what it came down to.”
EWU’s Jayson Williams hauled in seven passes for 129 yards a touchdown and Dehonta Hayes and a game-high 17 tackles. Hayes was also ejected for a late targeting penalty.
John Blanchette: Gonzaga needs Killian Tillie to be whole as desperately as Tillie needs Tillie to be wholeCache
Token investigation – meaning nothing past the first page of a Google search return – indicates that the unluckiest people in history include Melanie Martinez, who has lost five homes to hurricanes, and Violet Jessop, who served as a nurse and stewardess on the Olympic, the Titanic and the Britannic.
Though surviving the sinking of all three suggests her life came out a draw.
And then there’s a fellow named Erik Norrie, who has been struck by lightning, bitten by a rattlesnake and attacked by sharks and monkeys.
Does that make him the Killian Tillie of real life?
Another Kraziness in the Kennel arrived Saturday with the usual line of people snaking back to the soccer field waiting to get in for Gonzaga’s annual basketball reveal, the usual goggle-eyed recruits taking in the volume and animation of the Kennel Club and the usual one-week-of-practice raggedness.
And, alas, the usual update: another surgery for Killian Tillie.
Man, doesn’t somebody owe him a break already?
Or, conversely, did he just get one?
The odd child or senior citizen among the 6,000-plus squeezed into McCarthey Athletic Center who wasn’t logged on to social media may have been confused when the video intros of the 2019-20 Zags were made and Tillie was conspicuously omitted.
Or maybe they simply surmised the obvious: hurt again.
And, yes, that is technically the case. On Thursday, the 6-foot-10 senior and presumptive drive train of these Bulldogs underwent surgery on his right knee, and a brief statement from the school said “his status will be evaluated weekly.”
With the season opener still a month away, that doesn’t sound too grim – and, indeed, coach Mark Few took not just a hopeful but a delighted tone to try to drown out the grinding noise from all the community hand-wringing.
“It was more of a proactive exercise that we did, just to kind of clean some things out,” Few insisted, “and proactively take a step that I think will really help him in the long run.
“It seemed like we had a little window here to do something and we went for it, and I think it’ll be a really good move for him as we venture down the road. It wasn’t like a real injury or anything – just what can we do to help this thing long term?”
This is hardly misplaced optimism – though it would probably go down more easily if the subject didn’t happen to be Tillie.
So pitiable has his injury history been that the Zag fan base’s project this season is to will him to good health.
There was a sprained ankle and a broken finger that cost him six games in his freshman year if 2017. The hip-pointer that sidelined him in the 2018 NCAA loss to Florida State. And the stress fracture and plantar fascia tear that limited his 2019 season to just 15 games with limited effectiveness off the bench.
Even after he declared for the NBA draft last spring, another ankle sprain in his first team workout blew up any pro plans and helped convince him to return.
Among Few-era Zags, only Josh Heytvelt missed as much time his first three seasons due to medical issues.
So even if this isn’t five-alarm injury surgery, it’s probably difficult for the invested Zagphile to embrace reassurance.
“He’s always had a little discomfort with that knee over the years,” Few explained. “We looked at it and said, ‘How can we do this so that we’re not dealing with it week to week, or month to month – or he’s not dealing with it next year?’
“Hopefully, it’ll be a good thing as he moves forward, not only with us but down the line. There was no restructuring or anything like that.”
Beyond all the hometown empathy for Tillie to enjoy an uninterrupted senior year, there are – naturally – somewhat less noble sentiments being aired, too. These Zags are wildly short on experienced hands – at least those who’ve spent time in the program. Junior Corey Kispert has started and played significant minutes, of course. But sophomore Filip Petrusev only had a notable role last year when Tillie was out, and guard Joel Ayayi is making the jump from garbage time to rotation player.
And that’s it.
The Zags need Tillie to be whole as desperately as Tillie needs Tillie to be whole.
“There’s no time for me or any of the other older guys to take a back seat during a game,” Kispert said. “We have to bring it every night – sick, hurt, injured, banged up. You just have to bring it. It’s going to be on us to lead the team forward.”
So, then, some “proactive” surgery for their best player in hopes of getting him to game night.
Because no one’s yet performed a luck transplant.
That’s helped more than 300,000 Canadian families with sick kids through Ronald McDonald House. How about the chance to be part of a company that’s primarily…
That’s helped more than 300,000 Canadian families with sick kids through Ronald McDonald House. How about the chance to be part of a company that’s primarily…
by Abe Asher
by Blair Stenvick
The case, Ramos v. Louisiana, asks the court to consider whether state-level split-jury convictions—that is, criminal convictions that do not require a fully unanimous jury—are constitutional or not. The case concerns Evangelisto Ramos, a man who was convicted of second-degree murder by a 10-2 jury decision in 2016.
A 10-2 jury split was the minimum standard for most criminal convictions in Louisiana, but voters overturned the policy in a statewide ballot measure last year. That left Oregon as the last remaining state in the nation to allow split-jury decisions—which would change if the Supreme Court rules that all split-jury convictions are unconstitutional.
Both Louisiana and Oregon’s split-jury rules had roots in racism and xenophobia; in Louisiana, the policy stemmed from Jim Crow-era law, while Oregon’s law can be traced back to 1930s anti-immigrant sentiment. A recent Pulitzer Prize-winning analysis by Louisiana newspaper The Advocate found that split-jury convictions affect Black defendants much more often than white ones.
Both criminal justice reform advocates like the Oregon Justice Resource Center and mainstream legal groups like the Oregon District Attorneys Association (ODAA)—two groups that often find themselves on opposite ends of an issue—support overturning Oregon’s split-jury rule.
“[It]t is a hallmark of our justice system that it should be difficult to take someone’s liberty,” wrote an ODAA member in an Oregonian op-ed last year. “That’s exactly why defendants in criminal cases enjoy the presumption of innocence and the prosecutor must establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Adding the requirement of unanimity is another important safeguard against both wrongful convictions and wrongful acquittals.”
Rosenblum is also on the record as opposing split-jury convictions, saying she would support a statewide ballot measure banning them. But when it comes to Ramos in particular, Rosenblum falls on the side of stalling change, going so far as to submit a legal brief to the Supreme Court asking them to rule in favor of Louisiana.
In a statement shared with media in August, Rosenblum said she was concerned that a ruling in favor of Ramos could “require new trials in hundreds, if not thousands, of cases” in Oregon, which could in turn clog Oregon’s court system. She said her brief “in no way undercuts my view that Oregon should require juror unanimity in criminal cases going forward"—rather, she is worried about the potentially retroactive nature of a Ramos decision.
Aliza Kaplan, a law professor at Lewis & Clark and the co-founder of the Oregon Innocence Project, told the Mercury that in her opinion, Rosenblum is “acting like the sky is falling,” and that her estimate of cases that could be re-opened is likely overblown. Rosenblum’s office recently furnished Kaplan with a list of 292 cases that could be re-tried should the Supreme Court rule in favor of Ramos, but when Kaplan analyzed 110 of them, she found just 14 that she said would fit the legal requirements for relitigating.
And even if the ruling would overwhelm state courts, Kaplan said, that isn’t reason enough to oppose it.
“The Constitution should always trump any administrative inconvenience or burden,” she said. “This is about preserving individual rights and liberties.”
There are many moral and racial arguments for doing away with non-unanimous jury convictions. There are also commonsense arguments for keeping split-jury decisions: namely, that they make for a more efficient legal system, because they reduce the risk of having a hung jury. But Monday’s Ramos hearing will likely center around a more technical legal issue.
It is already established law that people are entitled to a unanimous jury at the federal level, thanks to the Sixth Amendment, which is part of the original Bill of Rights. But it is yet to be determined whether that right is extended to the state level through the 14th Amendment, which guarantees “due process,” or fair legal proceedings, to states. This practice—extending federal Bill of Rights protections to states through the 14th Amendment—is known as the “incorporation doctrine.”
The Supreme Court has already made many rulings based on incorporation doctrine—earlier this year, for example, it ruled that a right to not face excessive fines should apply to states, as opposed to only applying at the federal level. If the Supreme Court decides that split-jury verdicts are unconstitutional, it will likely be for that same reason.
Although the Supreme Court will hear arguments for Ramos on Monday morning, it is not required to release its decision until June 2020.
It remains to be seen what the exact effect of a pro-Ramos ruling could have on Oregon’s legal system. But for Kaplan, no cost could outweigh the benefit of abolishing split-jury decisions.
“Too much justice,” she said, “is not really a problem.”
Addicted to Screens? That’s Really a You Problem (NY Times) — In “Indistractable,” which was published last month, Mr. Eyal has written a guide to free people from an addiction he argues they never had in the first place. It was all just sloughing off personal responsibility, he figures. So the solution is to reclaim […]
A deer crashed through the window of a Long Island hair salon and ran amok before breaking out the front door with a straightening iron caught in its antlers. The buck’s surprise visit on Saturday to the Be.you.tiful salon in Lake Ronkonkoma was...
I was craving vegetables. It was a rainy summer day during my visit home to see my family in Saskatchewan. After being pummeled by rain and cleaning up puddled basements, I wanted to be in the kitchen, to cook and soothe souls. So I ended up in the grocery store.
I love shopping for groceries. We all need to eat, and I rarely feel guilty spending money at the grocery store. It is always justified in my head. A tasty tomato is worth the price. (At least that’s how I think.)
While wandering the aisles, I waited for inspiration. I saw the eggplant first. Though I’m not a fan of this bitter vegetable, I love its purple suit and wondered if I tried it one more time if I might become a fan. So I googled: "best ratatouille recipe" on my phone in the middle of the produce aisle.
Ratatouille dates back to the 1800s and the region of Nice,...
Chiming in here, what I wrote to Bob also applies here:
women rarely “line up” to have sex with men other than “rock gods,” or something similar, where status and personal identity are involved. And that’s because the motivation isn’t strictly sex. And because women are routinely still shamed for “promiscuity” but in some realms, like that that of the rock gods, the rules shift. Also, jealousy. for most people it’s just too hard to share your partner.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The inmate who claims to have killed more than 90 women across the country is now considered to be the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.
Samuel Little, who has been behind bars since 2012, told investigators last year that he was responsible for about 90 killings nationwide between 1970 and 2005. In a news release on Sunday, the FBI announced that federal crime analysts believe all of his confessions are credible, and officials have been able to verify 50 confessions so far.
Investigators also provided new information and details about five cases in Florida, Arkansas, Kentucky, Nevada and Louisiana.
The 79-year-old Little is serving multiple life sentences in California. He says he strangled his 93 victims, nearly all of them women.
Some of his victims were on the margins of society. Many were originally deemed overdoses, or attributed to accidental or undetermined causes. Some bodies were never found.
The FBI provided 30 drawings of some of his victims – color portraits that were drawn by Little himself in prison. They are haunting portraits, mostly of black women.
The agency also provided videos taken during prison interviews with Little. He described how he spoke about a woman he strangled in 1993 – and how he rolled her down a slope on a desolate road.
“I heard a secondary road noise and that meant she was still rolling,” he said.
In another video, he described a victim in New Orleans. “She was pretty. Light colored, honey brown skin,” he said with a small smile. “She was tall for a woman. Beautiful shape. And, uh, friendly.”
It was 1982, and they met in a club. She left with him in his Lincoln, and they parked by a bayou.
“That’s the only one that I ever killed by drowning,” he said.
Investigators around the country are still trying to piece together his confessions with unidentified remains and unsolved cases from decades past. In August, he pleaded guilty to murdering four women in Ohio. He was convicted in California of three slayings in 2013 and pleaded guilty to another killing last year in Texas.
Authorities in Knox County, Tennessee, said Monday that a woman named Martha Cunningham was likely a victim of Little’s.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reported in December that a cold case investigator with the Knox County Sheriff’s Office had identified the victim who Little called “Martha.” The Knoxville mother’s body was found in a wooded area in eastern Knox County in 1975.
Cunningham’s body was found by a pair of hunters on the afternoon of Jan. 18, 1975. She was bruised and nude from the waist down; her pantyhose and girdle bunched around her knees. Her purse and some of her jewelry were missing. Her body appeared to have been dragged into the woods and dumped behind a pine tree, authorities said at the time.
Despite that evidence, detectives at the time attributed Cunningham’s death to natural causes within a day of the discovery. The medical examiner’s investigative report lists the probable cause of death as “unknown.”
Cunningham was a talented singer and pianist who grew up performing with her parents and her six younger siblings in a gospel group known as the Happy Home Jubilee Singers.
Law enforcement in Tennessee had Little in custody 19 years after Cunningham’s body was found.
Little was convicted of misdemeanor larceny in 1994 in Nashville, Tennessee, and he was sentenced to 90 days in jail, according to Tennessee Bureau of Investigation criminal records obtained Monday by The Associated Press.
WASHINGTON – They may have his back on impeachment, but some of President Donald Trump’s most loyal allies are suddenly revolting against his decision to pull back U.S. troops from northern Syria.
On Monday, one chief Trump loyalist in Congress called the move “unnerving to the core.” An influential figure in conservative media condemned it as “a disaster.” And Trump’s former top NATO envoy said it was “a big mistake” that would threaten the lives of Kurdish fighters who had fought alongside American troops for years.
Trump’s surprise move, which came with no advance warning late Sunday and stunned many in his own government, threatened to undermine what has been near lockstep support among Republicans. It also came against the backdrop of a congressional impeachment inquiry in which the backing of Republicans in the Senate is the president’s bulwark against being removed from office.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who has been among Trump’s most vocal defenders, called the Syria decision “a disaster in the making” that would throw the region into chaos and embolden the Islamic State group.
“I hope I’m making myself clear how short-sighted and irresponsible this decision is,” Graham told Fox News. “I like President Trump. I’ve tried to help him. This, to me, is just unnerving to its core.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has shrugged off the key allegation in the impeachment inquiry – that Trump pressured foreign powers to investigate a top Democratic rival – tweeted that Trump’s shift on Syria is “a grave mistake that will have implications far beyond Syria.”
And Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who has been more willing than many Republicans to condemn Trump’s calls for foreign intervention in the 2020 election, called the Syria move “a terribly unwise decision” that would “abandon our Kurdish allies, who have been our major partner in the fight against the Islamic State.”
A more frequent Republican Trump critic, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, cast Trump’s announcement as “a betrayal.”
“It says that America is an unreliable ally; it facilitates ISIS resurgence; and it presages another humanitarian disaster,” Romney tweeted.
Nikki Haley, who was Trump’s hand-picked ambassador to the United Nations, also cast the decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Iraq as a betrayal of a key ally.
“The Kurds were instrumental in our successful fight against ISIS in Syria. Leaving them to die is a big mistake,” she wrote on Twitter.
Former Rubio aide Alex Conant highlighted the risks ahead for a president whose political future depends on Republican support.
“For Trump to make a very controversial move on Syria at the exact moment when he needs Senate Republicans more than ever is risky politics,” Conant said, noting the significance for many Senate Republicans of the United States’ policy in northern Syria, where Kurds would be particularly vulnerable to a Turkish invasion.
“They’re not just going to send out a couple of tweets and move on,” Conant said. “At the same time, the White House is going to need these guys to carry a lot of water for them.”
While a number of Republicans criticized Trump’s decision, one of their most important leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, was sanguine, offering little concern about Syria or impeachment during an appearance at the University of Kentucky.
“There are a few distractions, as you may have noticed,” McConnell said. “But if you sort of keep your head on straight and remember why you were sent there, there are opportunities to do important things for the country and for the states that we represent.”
After the appearance, McConnell issued a statement warning that Trump’s proposed withdrawal “would only benefit Russia, Iran, and the Assad regime. And it would increase the risk that ISIS and other terrorist groups regroup.”
“As we learned the hard way during the Obama Administration, American interests are best served by American leadership, not by retreat or withdrawal,” McConnell said.
Outside government, leaders of conservative groups backed Trump.
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., a prominent evangelical leader, said Trump was simply “keeping his promise to keep America out of endless wars.”
He suggested Trump could easily reengage in the region if the decision backfires.
“The president has got to do what’s best for the country, whether it helps him with this phony impeachment inquiry or not,” Falwell said in an interview.
Former Trump campaign aide Barry Bennett noted that the president has been talking about reducing troop levels in the Middle East since before the 2016 election.
“I understand that they don’t like the policy, but none of them should be shocked by the policy,” Bennett said. “He’s only been talking about this for four or five years now. I think he’s with the vast majority of the public.”
Still, the backlash from other Trump loyalists was intense.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., a member of the House Armed Services and Intelligence committees, called it a “misguided and catastrophic blow to our national security interests.”
And on Fox News, a network where many rank-and-file Trump supporters get their news, host Brian Kilmeade said it was “a disaster.”
“Abandon our allies? That’s a campaign promise? Abandon the people that got the caliphate destroyed?” Kilmeade said on “Fox & Friends.”
Bulent Aliriza, director of the Turkey Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the controversy reminds him of former Defense Secretary James Mattis’ decision to resign late last year after Trump announced plans to withdraw troops from Syria.
“Ultimately, Trump reversed himself,” Aliriza said. “The question is whether he will actually reverse himself again in view of the opposition from Capitol Hill led by several of his closest allies.”