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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Texas jail inmates hungry, shivering during unusual freeze

AUSTIN, Texas — When an unusually heavy winter storm blanketed much of Texas with snow, knocking out electricity to millions of homes and leaving many struggling to find clean water, one sector of the population was particularly vulnerable: inmates at the state’s largest county jail.

Some electricity is restored in Texas, but water woes continue to grow

AUSTIN, Texas – Power was restored to more homes and businesses Thursday in states hit by a deadly blast of winter that overwhelmed the electrical grid and left millions shivering in the cold this week. But the crisis was far from over in parts of the South, where many people still lacked safe drinking water.

Hack exposes vulnerability of cash-strapped US water plants

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A hacker’s botched attempt to poison the water supply of a small Florida city is raising alarms about just how vulnerable the nation's water systems may be to attacks by more sophisticated intruders. Treatment plants are typically cash-strapped and lack the cybersecurity depth of the power grid and nuclear plants.

Inmates at St. Louis jail set fires, break out windows

Inmates at a St. Louis jail set fires, caused flooding, broke out fourth-floor windows and tossed a stationary bike, chairs and mattresses outside Saturday in the latest disturbance over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions that have limited visits and stalled court proceedings, officials said.Dozens of law enforcement officers worked for hours before bringing the riot at the St. Louis City Justice Center under control shortly before 10 a.m., a spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson, Jacob Long, said. About 115 inmates were involved, said Long, who described the group as “extremely violent and noncompliant" in an interview with the Associated Press.One corrections officer was attacked and treated at a hospital for his injuries before being released, Long said. No detainees were hurt, he said.Video posted on social media by passersby showed inmates standing near three windows on the fourth floor that had been smashed out. Some carried signs or tossed items, some ablaze, to the sidewalk below. Firefighters used a hose to put out the fires.Long didn't have a cost estimate for the damage but described it as “fairly extensive."“There are some burn marks on the front of the building. They destroyed the inside of their floor and threw all sorts of stuff outside. ... They flooded the floors, clogged the toilets, clogged the drains, so there is water damage," Long said.One issue that played a roll in the mayhem was a locking problem that allows inmates to free themselves from their cells by tampering with the locks, said Jimmie Edwards, the city’s director of public safety. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that officials have been dealing with the problem since December.Long said 65 inmates were transferred from the downtown jail and into the St. Louis Medium Security Institution, also known as the workhouse. He also said that law enforcement has talked to the prosecutor’s office and that the potential exists that some of those involved could face additional charges.In late December and early January, dozens of inmates were transferred from the St. Louis City Justice Center after two separate disturbances. Officials have said inmates were upset about conditions in the jail amid the pandemic.Although there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the 633 people jailed at the St. Louis Justice Center as of Friday, tensions have been simmering.“I imagine they are under the same amount of stress due to COVID restrictions like the rest of us are,” Long said. “Courts haven’t been hearing cases in the 22nd Judicial Circuit. Their family visits have been restricted. But also they are acting out and that is the current situation.”Activists have protested conditions at the workhouse for years, but plans to close it have stalled, with backers of keeping it open saying it provides a way to space out inmates amid the pandemic.“These events demonstrate the need to have two facilities at this time," Long said.

Tiger in Chicago-area zoo undergoes second hip surgery

BROOKFIELD, Ill. — An Amur tiger that underwent hip-replacement surgery only to dislodge the orthopedic implant within hours has been operated on again, officials at a suburban Chicago zoo said Monday.

Uproar: Alabama governor to lease prisons, despite criticism

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said she plans to sign agreements Monday for two privately built prisons, despite lawmakers' complaints about the pricetag and lack of public transparency and warnings from advocacy groups that such prisons won't address chronic violence and severe staffing woes.

Playing favorites? Hospital boards, donors get COVID shots

While millions of Americans wait for the COVID-19 vaccine, hospital board members, their trustees and donors around the country have gotten early access to the scarce drug or offers for vaccinations, raising complaints about favoritism tainting decisions about who gets inoculated and when.

Intensive Care: Spokane couple recovering after hospital stays following COVID-19 diagnosis

Christine Harbison and Mike Sandblom had just purchased a home together in Mead when Sandblom, an adult caregiver, started showing symptoms of coronavirus in November. Harbison followed in late December, her infection perhaps delayed by drugs she's taking to treat her multiple sclerosis. As the couple emerges from intensive care, they count themselves lucky, but know a long path to recovery is ahead.

Phil Spector, music producer convicted of murder, dies at 81 after contracting COVID-19

LOS ANGELES — Phil Spector, the visionary record producer who revolutionized pop music in the early 1960s with his majestic sound and fierce ambition but spent his final years behind bars after shooting and killing an aspiring actress in his Alhambra mansion, has died in a hospital after becoming infected with the coronavirus. He was 81.

First blood test to help diagnose Alzheimer’s goes on sale

A company has started selling the first blood test to help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, a leap for the field that could make it much easier for people to learn whether they have dementia. It also raises concern about the accuracy and impact of such life-altering news.

How to talk to children about a relative diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

Luisa Echevarria remembers not understanding why her grandmother's behavior suddenly changed. "I was always very tuned into the adults," she said, recalling hearing her uncle and mother mentioning her grandmother was acting differently. "I started to notice these things, too."