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Sunset robotics team wins first place at state
Invention gains the attention of former UN worker

COOS BAY — The robotics team from Sunset Middle School won first place at state for the first time in the district’s history.

A week ago, 10-year-old Autumn Cadenhead and Olive McClusky attended the state tournament and competed against 120 other teams. These teams advanced through not only regional qualifying tournaments across Oregon, but also from Northern California and Southern Washington.

Cadenhead and McClusky took home first place in the Google Data Center Innovative Solution Award, which recognizes team solutions that are not only creative but have good potential to solve the problem researched.

“Each season there is a different theme and students have to do a research project on it,” said Adrian DeLeon, robotics coach and school board chairman for the Coos Bay School District. “This year was hydrodynamics, so they had to identify a real world problem to finding, transporting, using or disposing water for human use.”

Cadenhead and McClusky created a water purifier out of household items, intended to clean water after a natural disaster.

“We first searched online and figured out you could use a pot for it, but noticed the water would boil and would be more dangerous because if you picked up the cup in the pot, it could burn your hands,” Cadenhead said.

The purifier is mainly made from a bunt pan on top of a detachable cool whip container. In fact, because it is so cheap to make and easy to get the water out, a woman who previously worked for the UN approached the team after they won first place at the tournament.

“She works with groups in countries in Africa where they use devices like these to purify water and was interested in their project solution,” DeLeon said. “She was interested because the devices they use now, you can’t get the clean water out without dismantling it. With this solution, you can just pull the clean water out of the bottom without take it apart.”

Not only did Cadenhead and McClusky make it farther than any other team in the district, but stuck it out when their team shrank from eight to two.

“They stuck through a lot of hardship in their season,” DeLeon said.

The other students previously on the team stopped coming to practices or weren’t focused on the goal.

“It’s not just playing with Legos all the time, but research too,” said Kendall Smith, the other robotics coach for the team.

“We are very proud of them,” DeLeon said.

Women's march makes peaceful return at Coos Bay Boardwalk

COOS BAY — Roughly 300 people were out on the boardwalk in downtown Coos Bay on Saturday for the return of the Women’s March.

The nationwide success of last year’s Women’s March caused many communities, including Coos Bay, to take up signs and march for equality.

While many of the protesters didn’t actually march there was a group of people who walked up and down U.S. Highway 101 several times, led by Karen Lonon-Jones. Lonon-Jones did not help organize this year’s protest, but took charge and started a march.

“We just showed up and started walking and people followed. It’s a lot of fun,” Lonon-Jones said.

Protesters held creative signs, chanted and sang songs. They were peaceful, offering nothing but kind words those few who drove by with negative comments. Many protesters were wearing pink hats, some of which were originally for the Dolphin Theater’s performance of the Vagina Monologues, according to protester Alice Carlson.

“I was at the Women’s March in Portland last year because I didn’t even know we were going to have one here and it was one of the most profoundly important things I’ve done with my life. It’s pretty incredible to be down here, because this is a very conservative area, and to find this many like-minded people who share your values and are willing to put themselves out there is really special,” Carlson said.

Last year’s march had one unfortunate incident when a man who opposed the Women’s March using his diesel truck to spread fumes and choke protesters. This year saw no such issues. Only one man was at the boardwalk to counter protest, and he peacefully voiced his opinion without conflict.

“There are a lot of people here who are actually against Trump, and I want to say that I support him,” counter protester James Nielsen said.

Another man separated from the group to peacefully share his prolife opinions about abortion, though he did not consider himself a counter protester.  

Many men showed up to support the Women’s March.

“It’s a people movement. I’ve been doing this since 1961, when I was in high school. We were fighting for civil rights back then and unfortunately we’re still having the same problems. I’m older now, I have a wife, a mom, and a daughter. I don’t want them to be in a world where they don’t have the kind of rights they should have,” protester Romeo Betea said. 

Weekend of women's marches promises continued momentum

LAS VEGAS — Thousands of people poured into a football stadium in Las Vegas on Sunday, the anniversary of women's marches around the world, to cap off a weekend of global demonstrations that promised to continue building momentum for equality, justice and an end to sexual harassment.

"This is a birthday party for a movement that has only begun to flex its power to change this democracy," Anna Galland, the executive director of the progressive group, told the boisterous crowd.

Following marches that drew huge crowds across the U.S. on Saturday, one year after President Donald Trump's inauguration, protesters gathered Sunday in cities on multiple continents, including in London, Paris, Sydney, Madrid and Buenos Aires. The events culminated with the Las Vegas rally, which launched an effort to register 1 million voters and target swing states like Nevada in the U.S. midterm elections later this year, which could shift control of Congress.

Paula Beaty, 53, a tech worker from Durham, North Carolina, attended the Las Vegas rally wearing an outfit recalling the women's suffrage movement of the early 20th century. She cited the difference women made in helping Democrat Doug Jones upset conservative Republican Roy Moore for a Senate seat in Alabama in December.

"For us it's all about women's rights and we're seeing them be eroded with Trump in office," Beaty said. "The women made a difference in Alabama and we're hoping we can flip the House and Senate with the power of women."

There also was a push for women to register not just as voters, but as candidates. Democratic Idaho state Rep. Paulette Jordan, a member of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, drew an immense cheer when she told the crowd she was running to be not only Idaho's first female governor, but the first Native American woman to be governor in any state. She implored other women to join her in running for office.

"This is Idaho's future. This is the future of America," she said.

The demonstrations came at a time of reckoning for many men in Hollywood, the media and other industries as women speak out about sexual misconduct and inequity in general.

Those who took part in this year's events said they were galvanized by an avalanche of political and gender issues over the past year, as well as the #MeToo movement, which has been credited with countering widespread sexual abuse and misconduct.

Many of the marchers not only supported women's rights, but also denounced Trump's views on issues including immigration, abortion and LGBT rights. Demonstrators denounced Trump's views with colorful signs and even saltier language.

In Palm Beach, Florida, home to Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, several hundred people marched Saturday carrying anti-Trump signs. A group of women wearing red cloaks and white hats like the characters in the book and television versions of "The Handmaid's Tale," which imagines a future in which women's rights have been strictly limited, walked in formation with their heads bowed.

In the British capital Sunday, demonstrators carried placards reading "We Are Powerful" and "Time's Up" and chanted outside Prime Minister Theresa May's office as they raised grievances ranging from workplace inequities to misogynistic abuse on social media. The London event drew thousands of people despite sleet and snow. 

"Today is a call for action to bring about change," London protest co-organizer Shola Mos-Shogbamimu said. "This is so much more than Trump.'"

Shutdown continues into workweek, as Senate talks drag on

WASHINGTON — The government shutdown is set to sow more disruption and political peril today after the Senate inched closer but ultimately fell short of an agreement that would have reopened federal agencies before the beginning of the workweek.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said negotiations still were underway late into the night, with a vote to break a Democratic filibuster on a short-term funding bill scheduled for noon today. Under the proposal taking shape, Democrats would agree to a three-week spending measure — until Feb. 8 — in return for a commitment from the Republican leadership in the Senate to address immigration policy and other pressing legislative matters in the coming weeks.

But Democrats appeared to be holding out for a firmer commitment from McConnell. "We have yet to reach an agreement on a path forward," Schumer said late Sunday.

McConnell's comments followed hours of behind-the-scenes talks between the leaders and rank-and-file lawmakers over how to end the display of legislative dysfunction, which began Friday at midnight after Democrats blocked a temporary spending measure. Democrats have sought to use the spending bill to win concessions, including protections for roughly 700,000 younger immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children.

Republicans have appeared increasingly confident that Democrats were bearing the brunt of criticism for the shutdown and that they would ultimately buckle. The White House and GOP leaders said they would not negotiate with Democrats on immigration until the government is reopened.

There were indications Sunday that Democratic resolve was beginning to waver, with growing worries that a prolonged shutdown could prove to be an electoral headache for the party just as it has grown more confident about prospects in November. Although they initially dug in on a demand for an immigration deal, Democrats had shifted to blaming the shutdown on the incompetence of Republicans and President Donald Trump.

Trump, who regularly disrupted negotiations in recent weeks, had been a relatively subdued player in the weekend debate. He has not appeared in public since Friday afternoon. The White House said he was in regular contact with Republican leaders, but he has not reached out to any Democrats, a White House official said.

Sunday morning on Twitter, he called on the GOP-controlled Senate to consider deploying the "nuclear option" — changing Senate rules to end the filibuster — and reopen the government with a simple majority.

McConnell has dismissed that option, saying Republicans will welcome the filibuster when they return to being the Senate minority. The White House didn't immediately respond to McConnell's comments.

Democrats are facing intense pressure from their base to solve the issue over the young immigrants, and they are skeptical of Republicans' credibility when offering to take up the issue. Whether Trump would back the emerging plan or any later proposal on immigration is an open question. Even if the Senate voted on an immigration proposal, its prospects in the House would be grim.

Throughout the day there were few outward signs of progress, as lawmakers took turns delivering animated speeches to near empty chambers to explain why the other party is to blame. McConnell and Schumer met off the Senate floor in the early evening, as many in quiet Capitol offices flipped their television screens to playoff football games.

While lawmakers feuded, signs of the shutdown were evident at national parks and in some federal agencies. Social Security and most other safety-net programs were unaffected by the lapse in federal spending authority. Critical government functions continued, with uniformed service members, health inspectors and law enforcement officers set to work without pay.

Lawmakers were mindful that the political stakes would soar this morning, when thousands of federal workers would be told to stay home or, in many cases, work without pay. What still was a weekend burst of Washington dysfunction could spiral into a broader crisis with political consequences in November's midterm elections.

That threat prompted a bipartisan group of Senate moderates to huddle for a second day Sunday in hopes of crafting a plan to reopen the government. The group was set to meet again this morning.

The emerging approach found advocates in South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has been trying to broker an immigration deal, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, both Republicans who rejected an earlier short-term proposal. Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, another previous no-vote, announced he would vote in favor of reopening the government today.

Graham said no deal had been reached by the moderate group because Democrats were not yet on board. "To my Democratic friends, don't overplay your hand," he told reporters. "A government shutdown is not a good way to get an outcome legislatively."

The vote today will prove to be a test of unity and resolve among Democrats. Five Democrats from states won by Trump broke ranks in a vote Friday. The measure gained 50 votes to proceed to 49 against, but 60 were needed to break a Democratic filibuster.