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Legislature Notebook

Good News and Bad News for Northern Rockies High-Tech

The technology business in the Northern Rockies has always been a bit of a hodge-podge: a big company here, a big subsidiary of a big company there, and a few small hives of entrepreneurship that have a lot of potential, but with the possible exception of Idaho's Treasure Valley don't yet have a major impact on the regional economy. Boise is clearly the most important high-tech center in Northern Rockies, and it got a little bit of good news this week. Micron, the computer-chip manufacturer, finally turned a profit after three years in the red, and Hewlett-Packard's huge Boise-based printing division seems to be doing better. There may not be a lot of job growth on the horizon, but at least job losses should stop for a while. In Montana, the big high-tech news of the day is that Semitool, a large maker of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, was officially taken over by industry leader Applied Materials

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Branding Wilderness Lite

Editor's note: Second in a two-part series on resolving the conflict between mountain bikers and hikers over protecting roadless lands. Click here for the first part, plus a very interesting comment thread. Last week, I wrote about options hikers and wilderness groups had to make peace with mountain bikers so the two key constituencies could work together to protect roadless land. One option was urging Congress to pass another organic act creating a true alternative land designation. But what to call it? In past commentaries, I'm used the words "Wilderness Lite" to refer to various land designations that provide almost as much protection as the "Big W" Wilderness Congress designates under the Wilderness Act of 1964. Basically, cutting to the chase, I can more precisely define "Wilderness Lite" as "Wilderness that allows mountain biking."

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A New Magazine: The New West

The best way to check out The New West magazine is to subscribe. We want to know who's interested in The New West, so we have made the magazine available free to qualified subscribers who answer a short questionnaire.

In the Spring Issue and online here:

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Shooting Wreaks Devastation in Moscow, Idaho

Update: At a press conference late this morning [Monday], Idaho authorities revealed that the shooter had in fact killed his wife before his rampage at the courthouse and the church, bringing the death toll to three. The gunman, who killed himself, was identified as Jason Hamilton, 37, a maintenance worker with a long history of mental illness and domestic violence. His wife, 30-year-old Crystal Hamilton, was found dead in their home with a single gunshot wound to the head. Crystal Hamilton worked at the Latah County Courthouse, where her husband unleashed a barrage of semi-automatic weapons fire Saturday night, and Jason Hamilton had done cleaning work at the church where he killed the caretaker. The wounded police officer was identified as Brannon Jordan, and he was released from the hospital today after beng treated for leg wounds. A 20-year-old university student remained hospitalized in serious but stable condition. Update Two: Joan Opyr in Moscow has posted a complete account from the press conference here. At six-thirty [Sunday] morning, a friend called from Virginia. She'd seen Moscow, Idaho on the national news and wanted to know if my family was okay. We are -- but that was the first we knew of the shootings that took place last night in our town. So far, we know only the bare facts. A gunman armed with an SKS assault rifle opened fire on the Latah County Courthouse and the Sheriff's Office. He fired round after round through the windows and walls of the dispatcher's center and through the walls of the building, more than 75 rounds altogether. He shot and killed Moscow Police Officer Lee Newbill and wounded Sheriff's Deputy Brannon Jordan, who remains in serious condition. One civilian was wounded and is reported in stable condition following surgery. The gunman then fled into The First Presbyterian Church, which is located just across from the Courthouse at the corner of Fifth Street and Van Buren. There, he shot and killed Paul Bauer, the church caretaker, before apparently turning the gun on himself.

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