AT&T says the outage to its US cellphone network not caused by a cyberattack

AT&T said the hourslong outage to its U.S. cellphone network Thursday appeared to be the result of a technical error, not a malicious attack.

The outage knocked out cellphone service for thousands of its users across the U.S. starting early Thursday before it was restored.

AT&T blamed the incident on an error in coding, without elaborating.

“Based on our initial review, we believe that today’s outage was caused by the application and execution of an incorrect process used as we were expanding our network, not a cyber attack,” the Dallas-based company said.

Outage tracker Downdetector noted that outages, which began at about 3:30 a.m. ET, peaked at around 73,000 reported incidents. AT&T had more than 58,000 outages around noon ET, in locations including Houston, Atlanta and Chicago. The carrier is the country’s largest, with more than 240 million subscribers.

By 9 p.m. ET, the reports on AT&T’s network were fewer than 1,000.

Cricket Wireless, which is owned by AT&T, had more than 9,000 outages at one point but the reports had also tailed off later in the afternoon. Users of other carriers, including Verizon and T-Mobile, also reported issues but those companies said their networks were operating normally and the problems were likely stemming from customers trying to connect to AT&T users.

During the outage, some iPhone users saw SOS messages displayed in the status bar on their cellphones. The message indicates that the device is having trouble connecting to their cellular provider’s network, but it can make emergency calls through other carrier networks, according to Apple Support.

The Federal Communications Commission contacted AT&T about the outage and the Department of Homeland Security and FBI were also looking into it, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

The FBI acknowledged it had been in touch with AT&T. “Should we learn of any malicious activity we will respond accordingly,” the agency said.

The outage also raised concerns on Capitol Hill.

“We are working to assess today’s disruption in order to gain a complete understanding of what went wrong and what can be done to prevent future incidents like this from occurring,” said a statement issued by Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Washington Republican who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Ohio Republican Bob Latta, chair of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee.

This week’s cellphone outage makes it clear, U.S. landlines are languishing

NEW YORK (AP) — When her cellphone’s service went down this week because of an AT&T network outage, Bernice Hudson didn’t panic. She just called the people she wanted to talk to the old-fashioned way — on her landline telephone, the kind she grew up with and refuses to get rid of even though she has a mobile phone.

“Don’t get me wrong, I like cellphones,” the 69-year-old Alexandria, Virginia, resident said Thursday, the day of the outage. “But I’m still old school.”

Having a working landline puts her in select company. In an increasingly digital United States, they’re more and more a remnant of a time gone by, an anachronism of a now-unfathomable era when leaving your house meant being unavailable to callers.

Though as Thursday’s outage shows, sometimes they can come in handy. They were suggested as part of the alternatives when people’s cellphones weren’t working. The San Francisco Fire Department, for example, said on social media that people unable to get through to 911 on their mobile devices because of the outage should try using landlines.

In the United States in 2024, that’s definitely the exception.

TRACKING THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE CORD

According to the most recent estimates from the National Center for Health Statistics, about 73% of American adults in 2022 lived in households where there were only wireless phones and no landlines, while another 25% were in households with both. Barely over 1% had only landlines.

Contrast that to estimates from early 2003, where fewer than 3% of adults lived in wireless-only households, and at least 95% lived in homes with landlines, which have been around since Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876.

Twenty years ago, landline phone service was the “bread and butter” for phone companies, said Michael Hodel, a stock analyst at Morningstar Research Services LLC who follows the telecom industry. Now, he said, “it’s become an afterthought,” replaced by services like broadband internet access and its multiple ways of making voice contact with others.

In today’s United States, landlines have practically reached the status of urban legend in a nation where connecting over mobiles with the people you want — at the exact moments you want, on the precise platforms you prefer — feels fundamental enough to be a Constitutional right.

Among most age groups, the large majority were wireless-only, except for those 65 and older, the only group where less than half were estimated to only use cellphones.

They’re people like Rebecca Whittier, 74, of Penacook, New Hampshire. She has both types of lines but prefers to use a landline. She only got a basic cellphone in case of emergencies when she was away from home.

“I guess you’d call me old fashioned,” she said. “I’m not good with computers or electronics. So a landline’s good.”

HOW AND WHEN DID THE SHIFT HAPPEN?

What drove the change? It was that shift from telephones being mainly for voice communication to becoming tiny, data-saturated computers that were carried around in our pockets, Hodel says.

Of particular significance: the introduction of Apple’s first iPhone in 2007. The rise of the smartphone fundamentally changed people’s relationships with the devices in their pockets. “I do think that was the big watershed moment was when smartphone adoption really started to take off,” Hodel said.

The introduction of a new technology into society has a blowback effect on the ones it is supplanting, said Brian Ott, a professor of communication and media at Missouri State University.

“Basically, the new technology trains us to alter our use of the old technology,” Ott said. “So even though the old technology hasn’t gone away, the logic of mobile telephony exists across our entire society today, even for people who still have landlines.”

But the sometimes headlong rush to adopt new technologies can have its own problems, he said: “Anytime a new technology is introduced, there’s sort of a rapid adoption period before we understand the consequences.”

The outage, he says, is a case in point. Even though it was resolved quickly, it raises questions about what would happen if a broader-scale event disrupted cellphones more widely in a world where landline phones are no longer as ubiquitous.

Hodel was skeptical, though, at the notion that people would be unsettled enough to bring landlines and additional phone bills back into their lives.

“Unless you really are faced with something dire, the odds of you actually being concerned enough to go out and do something about it that’s going to cost you some amount of money seems to be pretty low,” he said. “The service that we get where we’re connected the vast majority of the time, if not all the time, has been sufficient to keep people satisfied by and large.”

If nothing else, the outage made Mary Minshew of Bethesda, Maryland, who is in her 40s, feel better about the landline she and her husband have so far not gotten around to scrapping. They don’t use it; they and their children all have cellphones. And if it actually rings, she figures it’s a scam or sales call and doesn’t answer.

But, she said, part of holding onto it was “out of this concern that you should always have a landline if something like this would ever happen. I mean, it’s rare. But something like that did happen.”

Tired of diesel fumes, these moms are pushing for electric school buses

Areli Sanchez’s daughter, Aida, used to be one of 20 million American kids who ride a diesel bus to school each day.

Aida has asthma. When she was little, she complained about the smell and cloud of fumes on her twice-daily trip.

“When she would come home from school or be on the bus, she got headaches and sick to her stomach. She said, ‘Mami, I don’t feel well, I feel dizzy,’” Sanchez said in Spanish from Las Vegas. Aida missed classes a lot when her asthma was bad. Research shows diesel exhaust exposure can cause students to miss school and affect learning.

She was admitted to the hospital for an asthma attack in second grade, and after that Sanchez began driving Aida to school.

Diesel exhaust from school buses potentially affects one-third of U.S. students, their parents and educators each day, according to federal data. It’s a known carcinogen plus it contains harmful nitrogen oxides, volatile gases and particles that exacerbate lung issues. It also contributes to global warming.

Most affected by these environmental and health issues are Black, Latino, Indigenous and lower-income communities, who often rely on buses to get to school and are also more likely to suffer from asthma than other students. Some of the biggest drivers for change are parents worried about their children.

For Areli Sanchez’ family in Las Vegas, things continued to deteriorate.

She felt like she had to stop working. “I didn’t know when we were going to get another call from school about another asthma attack,” she said.

A few years after her daughter started having problems, Sanchez saw the opportunity to get involved in the nascent movement for electric buses. They don’t smell. They aren’t noisy. They cost more up front, but cost less to run and can meaningfully reduce emissions, making them a climate change solution.

Now Sanchez has been making this case locally and beyond for four years, even taking a long diesel bus ride to the state capital, Carson City, to plead for funding from the legislature.

Recently she started to get some traction when the Clark County School District, her district, began to swap some of its buses for electric. These still make up only a fraction of the nearly 2,000 in the fleet, but she’s optimistic.

Some similar progress is taking place throughout the nation as a sense of urgency builds around worsening air quality and environmental injustice related to the warming climate.

Children are generally more harmed by air pollution than adults because their bodies are still developing, and because they breathe in more air per body size than adults do, said University of Michigan epidemiology and public health researcher Sara Adar, who studies the link between health and school buses.

“As they’re burning their fuel and as the engine is spinning, they often are releasing very, very small particles that can get deep into our lungs and cause havoc throughout the body,” Adar said.

Kids also can spend considerable time around idling buses, she noted, lengthening their exposure to something that can permanently damage their health. Research has highlighted poor air quality inside older diesel school buses, too.

“It’s this perpetual cycle of bad air quality,” said Lonnie Portis, a policy and advocacy manager for the activist group We Act for Environmental Justice in New York City. In hard-hit, or environmental justice neighborhoods, he said, “you’re removing at least some of that by putting electric school buses in the rotation.”

Some school districts have switched to newer versions of diesel buses, which are more efficient and produce less pollution, as one way to reduce students’ exposure. Others, especially in underfunded districts, keep their older, more polluting vehicles.

Much like Sanchez, Liz Hurtado, the mother of four children who ride the bus in Virginia Beach, Virginia, has spent years advocating for electric buses.

Her oldest daughter also got headaches riding a diesel bus, and she’d drive her to school when she could, she said.

Now a national field manager for the grassroots group Moms Clean Air Force and active in a program dedicated to protecting Latino children’s health, Hurtado appeals to school districts to buy electric buses. She schedules events for community members to see and drive electric vehicles, hosts webinars and meetings and teaches others how to reach out to legislators.

“Knowing all of the stressors and anxiety from climate change, and the fact that this is a huge burden for our children,” Hurtado said. “That places a burden on us, right?”

While an electric bus isn’t yet available to her, she still feels “really excited about the momentum.”

Federal money is now the leading source of funding for electric school buses, and prioritizes low-income, rural or Tribal communities, which advocates see as a huge win. Most electric school buses on the road today have landed in those areas, according to WRI.

“It means that we are putting the solution closest to the problem,” said Carolina Chacon, coalition manager for the Alliance for Electric School Buses, a group of nonprofit organizations that has been expanding.

Sanchez said Aida might not get to take advantage of the electric buses, since she is now 16.

“But other moms won’t have to worry like I did because of the fumes,” she said.

 

▶️ Citizens rally on Peace Corner for immediate U.S. aid to Ukraine

Activist groups gather on Peace Corner in downtown Bend Saturday evening in support of Ukraine.

The Vocal Seniority and Indivisible Sisters organized the rally as Saturday marked the second year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The group is asking Deschutes County to add their voices to the call for elected officials to vote and speak out for immediate U.S. aid to Ukraine.

“We wanted to just say vote to send money to these people, they need it, we have it, let’s do it,” said Gayle Stamler, Steering Committee of The Vocal Seniority.

The Bend rally is one of thousands that took place internationally under the banner of ‘Believe in Ukraine’.

RELATED: Body of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny handed over to his mother

▶️ Snowmobilers of all ages compete in Snowdrags 2024 at Wanoga Sno-Park

Snowdrags 2024 took place at Wanoga Sno-Park on Saturday.

Moon Country SnowBusters brought back the drag races in addition to a poker run.

Around 80 snowmobilers from all over came to take part in the fun family event and compete for best times.

“It is a bracketed race, but the main thing is the benefit, Moon Country, we’re a non-profit, we do all the grooming for all the snowmobile trails and they’re multi-use trails so it helps out dog sledding teams, snowmobilers, cross country skiers, there’s quite a bit of people that use the trails,” said Keith Walos, Vice President of Moon Country SnowBusters.

Moon Country SnowBusters plan to have more events with hopes of them growing bigger each year.

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Body of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny handed over to his mother

The body of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been handed over to his mother, a top aide to Navalny said Saturday on his social media account.

Ivan Zhdanov, the director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, made the announcement on his Telegram account and thanked “everyone” who had called on Russian authorities to return Navalny’s body to his mother.

Earlier on Saturday, Yulia Navalnaya, Navalny’s widow, accused President Vladimir Putin of mocking Christianity by trying to force his mother to agree to a secret funeral after his death in an Arctic penal colony.

“Thank you very much. Thanks to everyone who wrote and recorded video messages. You all did what you needed to do. Thank you. Alexei Navalny’s body has been given to his mother,” Zhdanov wrote.

Navalny, 47, Russia’s most well-known opposition politician, unexpectedly died on Feb. 16 in an Arctic penal colony and his family have been fighting for more than a week to have his body returned to them. Prominent Russians released videos calling on authorities to release the body and Western nations have hit Russia with more sanctions as punishment for Navalny’s death as well as for the second anniversary of its invasion of Ukraine.

Navalny’s mother, Lyudmila Navalnaya, is still in Salekhard, Navalny’s press secretary Kira Yarmysh said on X, formerly Twitter. Lyudmila Navalnaya has been in the Arctic region for more than a week, demanding that Russian authorities return the body of her son to her.

“The funeral is still pending,” Yarmysh tweeted, questioning whether authorities will allow it to go ahead “as the family wants and as Alexei deserves.”

Earlier Saturday, Navalny’s widow said in a video that Navalny’s mother was being “literally tortured” by authorities who had threatened to bury Navalny in the Arctic prison. They, she said, suggested to his mother that she did not have much time to make a decision because the body is decomposing, Navalnaya said.

“Give us the body of my husband,” Navalnaya said earlier Saturday. “You tortured him alive, and now you keep torturing him dead. You mock the remains of the dead.”

Authorities have detained scores of people as they seek to suppress any major outpouring of sympathy for Putin’s fiercest foe before the presidential election he is almost certain to win. Russians on social media say officials don’t want to return Navalny’s body to his family, because they fear a public show of support for him.

Navalnaya accused Putin, an Orthodox Christian, of killing Navalny.

“No true Christian could ever do what Putin is now doing with the body of Alexei,” she said, asking, “What will you do with his corpse? How low will you sink to mock the man you murdered?”

Saturday marked nine days since the opposition leader’s death, a day when Orthodox Christians hold a memorial service.

People across Russia came out to mark the occasion and honor Navalny’s memory by gathering at Orthodox churches, leaving flowers at public monuments or holding one-person protests.

Muscovites lined up outside the city’s Christ the Savior Cathedral to pay their respects, according to photos and videos published by independent Russian news outlet SOTAvision. The video also shows Russian police stationed nearby and officers stopping several people for an ID check.

As of early Saturday afternoon, at least 27 people had been detained in nine Russian cities for showing support for Navalny, according to the OVD-Info rights group that tracks political arrests.

They included Elena Osipova, a 78-year-old artist from St. Petersburg who stood in a street with a poster showing Navalny with angel wings, and Sergei Karabatov, 64, who came to a Moscow monument to victims of political repression with flowers and a note saying “Don’t think this is the end.”

Also arrested was Aida Nuriyeva, from the city of Ufa near the Ural Mountains, who publicly held up a sign saying “Putin is Navalny’s murderer! I demand that the body be returned!”

Putin is often pictured at church, dunking himself in ice water to celebrate the Epiphany and visiting holy sites in Russia. He has promoted what he has called “traditional values” without which, he once said, “society degrades.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected allegations that Putin was involved in Navalny’s death, calling them “absolutely unfounded, insolent accusations about the head of the Russian state.”

Musician Nadya Tolokonnikova, who became widely known after spending nearly two years in prison for taking part in a 2012 protest with her band Pussy Riot inside Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral, was one of many prominent Russians who released a video in which she accused Putin of hypocrisy and asked him to release Navalny’s body.

“We were imprisoned for allegedly trampling on traditional values. But no one tramples on traditional Russian values more than you, Putin, your officials and your priests who pray for all the murder that you do, year after year, day after day,” said Tolokonnikova, who lives abroad. “Putin, have a conscience, give his mother the body of her son.”

Lyudmila Navalnaya said Thursday that investigators allowed her to see her son’s body in the morgue in the Arctic city of Salekhard. She had filed a lawsuit at a court in Salekhard contesting officials’ refusal to release the body. A closed-door hearing had been scheduled for March 4.

Yarmysh, Navalny’s spokesman, said that Lyudmila Navalnaya was shown a medical certificate stating that her son died of “natural causes.”

▶️ Measure 110 reform: Potential agreement would criminalize all hard drugs

House Republicans announced a potential bipartisan agreement on reforming Measure 110 this week. The reforms would criminalize possession of any amount of hard drugs in Oregon. 

“Decriminalization of possession of small amounts of controlled substances will be altered, no doubt. But not to the extent that we go back to where we were before M110, which is basically investing in punitive responses without adequately giving people pathways out of addiction,” Director of Deschutes County Public Health Janice Garceau said.

State Rep. Jason Kropf, D-Bend, says the reforms will aim to prioritize addiction treatment. 

“We are attempting to create a tool that law enforcement can intervene and in the moment, confiscate drugs and take those drugs off our street, but making immediate connections to people who are in treatment,” Kropf said.

Those found with hard drugs in their possession could avoid going to court by putting themselves in treatment programs. They would be connected to rehabilitation facilities through state counties and would be given several chances to complete their treatment.

“If you’re unsuccessful after all those different opportunities and all those different off-ramps, then the court does have the authority to impose a jail term for 180 days,” Kropf said.

Garceau says for some, relapsing is a part of the rehabilitation process, hence the several chances drug users would get under the new reforms.

“The judgment that is levied at people in the throes of addiction and the stigma associated with it is one of the biggest contributors to people not seeking treatment. So what each of us could do is find a place of understanding and love and compassion for people struggling with addiction,” Garceau said.

Those who are served a jail sentence for drug abuse would still have the option to shorten their sentence and attend drug treatment facilities, if recommended by their parole officer.

Kropf says he’s optimistic that these reforms will be passed sometime next week.

▶️ China Hat Road repaving will force some living there to move

The Forest Service announced Thursday that construction plans will force the removal of some people living along China Hat Road.

The plan includes the repaving of 3.5 miles of road, beginning at the forest boundary. The plans are to start as early as June.

It’s long overdue in the eyes of homeowners who spoke with Central Oregon Daily News.

“People find their way across the road, up onto our property, doing drugs in our driveway,” one homeowner said. “And the gunshots. The gunshots are very disturbing. It’s in the middle of the night. It’s like, ‘What are they shooting at? Where are they shooting?’”

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The community says they feel abandoned. Although months away, it’s the kind of action they have waited for.

“People in the community that don’t see this every day, I would urge them to come out here and drive up China Hat Road because it is shocking.”

The Forest Service says this work is intended to repair deteriorating road sections. Once it begins, all vehicle traffic and some foot traffic will be restricted to the area.

White House, tribal leaders hail ‘historic’ deal to restore salmon runs in PNW

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration, leaders of four Columbia River Basin tribes and the governors of Oregon and Washington celebrated on Friday as they signed papers formally launching a $1 billion plan to help recover depleted salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest.

The plan, announced in December, stopped short of calling for the removal of four controversial dams on the Snake River, as some environmental groups and tribal leaders have urged. But officials said it would boost clean energy production and help offset hydropower, transportation and other benefits provided by the dams should Congress ever agree to breach them.

The plan brokered by the Biden administration pauses long-running litigation over federal dam operations and represents the most significant step yet toward eventually taking the four Snake River dams down. The plan will strengthen tribal clean energy projects and provide other benefits for tribes and other communities that depend on the Columbia Basin for agriculture, energy, recreation and transportation, the White House said.

“Since time immemorial, the strength of the Yakama Nation and its people have come from the Columbia River, and from the fish, game, roots and berries it nourishes,” Yakama Nation Chairman Gerald Lewis said at a White House ceremony.

“The Yakama Nation will always fight to protect and restore the salmon because, without the salmon, we cannot maintain the health of our people or our way of life,” Lewis said, adding that Columbia Basin salmon are dying from the impacts of human development.

“Our fishers have empty nets and their homes have empty tables because historically the federal government has not done enough to mitigate these impacts,” he said. “We need a lot more clean energy, but we need to do development in a way that is socially just.”

Lewis was among four tribal leaders who spoke at the hourlong ceremony at the White House complex, along with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek and an array of federal officials.

The agreement, formally known as the Columbia Basin Restoration Initiative, “deserves to be celebrated,” said Jonathan W. Smith, chairman of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation.

The settlement “takes the interests of all the stakeholders in the Columbia Basin into account,” he said. “It lays out a pathway to restore salmon and steelhead to healthy and abundant levels and moves forward with the necessary green energy transition in a socially just and equitable way.”

Corinne Sams of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation called the signing ceremony a historic moment, not just for the tribes, but also for the U.S. government “and all Americans in the Pacific Northwest. My heart is big today.”

The Columbia River Basin, an area roughly the size of Texas, was once the world’s greatest salmon-producing river system, with at least 16 stocks of salmon and steelhead. Today, four are extinct and seven are listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Dams are a main culprit behind the salmon’s decline, and federal fisheries scientists have concluded that breaching the dams in eastern Washington on the Snake River, the largest tributary of the Columbia, would be the best hope for recovering them, providing the fish with access to hundreds of miles of pristine habitat and spawning grounds in Idaho.

Conservation groups sued the federal government more than two decades ago in an effort to save the fish. They have argued that the continued operation of the dams violates the Endangered Species Act as well as treaties dating to the mid-19th century ensuring the tribes’ right to harvest fish.

Friday’s celebration did not include congressional Republicans who oppose dam breaching and have vowed to block it.

Dams along the Columbia-Snake River system provide more than one-third of all hydropower capacity in the United States, said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Washington Republican who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee. In Washington state, hydropower accounts for 70% of electricity consumed.

The Snake River dams “helped transform Eastern Washington into one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world,” including 40% of America’s wheat, Rodgers said in a statement.

She denounced “secret negotiations” led by White House senior adviser and climate envoy John Podesta, saying he and other officials “worked behind closed doors with a select group of radical environmentalists to develop a secret package of actions and commitments” that advance ”efforts to remove the four Lower Snake River dams.”

Biden officials “ignored the concerns of people who live in the Pacific Northwest and who would be significantly impacted if these dams were breached,” Rodgers said.

Podesta and other speakers at the White House ceremony looked past those concerns, with few even mentioning the dams.

“President Biden understands that the Columbia River is the lifeblood of the Pacific Northwest, for its culture, for its economy and for its people,” said Brenda Mallory, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

“The historic agreement is charting a new and exciting path to restore the river, provide for clean energy and live up to our responsibilities and obligations to tribal nations,” Mallory said. “I’m confident we will secure the vision … of securing a restored Columbia River Basin, one that is teeming with wild fish, prosperous to tribal nations, (with) affordable clean energy, a strong agricultural economy and an upgraded transportation and recreation system.”

US appeals court declines to delay execution of Idaho death row inmate

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A U.S. appeals court panel on Friday declined to delay Idaho’s scheduled execution next week of one of the nation’s longest-serving death row inmates.

Thomas Creech was sentenced to death in 1983 for killing a fellow prison inmate, David Jensen, with a battery-filled sock. Creech, 73, had previously been convicted of four murders and was already serving life in prison when he killed Jensen.

He is also suspected of several other killings dating back half a century.

His attorneys had asked a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in San Francisco to delay Creech’s death by lethal injection, set for Wednesday.

They said they needed additional time to pursue a claim that, under the nation’s evolving standards of decency, his death sentence should be set aside because it was issued by a judge — not a jury. Among people on death row around the country, just 2.1% were sentenced to death by a judge alone, they said.

During oral arguments Thursday, the three judges expressed skepticism. They noted that while arguments about “evolving standards of decency” have been used to bar the execution of juveniles or people with severe developmental delays, Creech’s lawyers had presented little or no evidence that the people in the U.S. increasingly disfavor the execution of inmates who were sentenced by judges rather than juries.

“We gave you an opportunity to tell us what evidence you have of an evolving standard, and you haven’t provided anything,” Judge Jay Bybee told Jonah Horwitz, an attorney for Creech. “This feels like it’s a delay for delay’s sake and it’s a shot in the dark.”

The Idaho attorney general’s office opposed Creech’s request for a stay, arguing that Creech could have raised the issue long ago but waited until the last minute to try to forestall the execution: “This is a claim that was basically being held in the back pocket of Creech’s counsel, waiting until there was an actual execution that had been scheduled,” said Deputy Attorney General LaMont Anderson.

In Friday’s ruling, the panel rejected the idea that any national movement away from executions of judge-sentenced prisoners is a new development. It could have been just as true in 2002 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case known as Ring v. Arizona that juries, not judges, should impose the death penalty — as it is today, the panel noted.

Even then, “only a small minority of jurisdictions authorized judge-imposed death sentences,” the panel wrote. “It was clear, once Ring was decided, that the small number of executions of judge-sentenced capital defendants would decrease in the years to follow as those defendants were executed, were granted clemency, or died of natural causes, or as their States imposed broader restrictions on executions generally.”

In other words, someone was always going to be the subject of the last execution from a judge-imposed sentence, and Creech didn’t do enough to prove that the attitudes toward judge-imposed executions had notably changed in recent years. That means this claim should have been raised in an appeal long ago, and now it’s too late, the panel found.

Creech’s attorneys in recent weeks have filed three other challenges regarding his execution. Two are with the U.S. District Court in Idaho, over the adequacy of his recent clemency hearing and over the state’s refusal to indicate where it obtained the drug it intends to use to kill him. The other is an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

An Ohio native, Creech’s history of being involved in or suspected of murders dates back half a century. In 1974, he was acquitted in the stabbing death of 70-year-old retiree Paul Shrader in Tucson, Arizona; Creech was a cook who lived at the motel where Shrader’s body was found.

He then moved to Portland, Oregon, where he worked as a maintenance worker or sexton at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. The body of 22-year-old William Joseph Dean was found in Creech’s living quarters on Aug. 7, 1974, and a grocery store worker in Salem, Sandra Jane Ramsamooj, was shot to death that same day.

In November, Creech and his 17-year-old girlfriend were hitchhiking in Idaho when two traveling housepainters picked them up. The pair — John Wayne Bradford, 40, and Edward Thomas Arnold, 34 — were found shot to death and partially buried along a highway. Creech was convicted. His girlfriend testified against him.

During police interrogations, Creech made some far-fetched claims — claims that his attorneys say he made under the influence of so-called truth serum — that he had killed 42 people, some in satanic rituals and others in contract killings for motorcycle gangs in several states. Authorities were unable to corroborate most of his claims, but said they did find two bodies based on information he provided and they did tie him to nine killings: two in Nevada, two in Oregon, two in Idaho and one each in Wyoming, Arizona and California.

Authorities initially didn’t believe one of the stories that Creech told them. Creech claimed that while he was being treated at the Oregon State Hospital following a suicide attempt, he earned a weekend pass, traveled to Sacramento and killed someone, and then returned to the treatment center.

Based on that information, California police retested fingerprints found at the home of murder victim Vivian Grant Robinson — and they matched Creech. They also realized he had called the treatment center from her home to say he’d be returning a day late. Creech was convicted of that case in 1980.

During Creech’s clemency hearing last month, the state offered new information — without supporting evidence — that Creech had committed another killing in California, that of Daniel Walker in San Bernardino County in 1974. Prosecutors there say they do not intend to file charges, noting Creech’s upcoming execution.

Creech was initially sentenced to death following his 1975 Idaho conviction, but after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that automatic death sentences were unconstitutional, it was converted to a life term. After killing Jensen he was again sentenced to death.