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Friday morning's headlines

It's Friday, April 1st. Here's what's making headlines around the Northwest:

  • Work to Clear Avalanches on Highway 2 Continues
  • Flood Update: Snohomish River To Crest This Morning
  • WTO Ruling on Boeing: May Not Mean Much
  • UW's Thomas Opts for NBA Draft

Stevens Pass Still Closed

Four avalanches, one of them covering US 2 at Stevens Pass in 15-feet of snow, shut down cross state traffic along the busy corridor Thursday, and the road remains closed indefinitely. A fifth slide forced crews to retreat yesterday afternoon.

KING-TV reports WSDOT crews have faced a big challengein clearing the road:

Spokesman Jeff Adamson said the slide pushed jersey barriers aside. Three other snowslides were later discovered in avalanche chutes near the pass. Once conditions are deemed stable, crews will have to use explosives for avalanche control work before reopening Highway 2.

The road was first closed Thursday morning at 5 a.m. 


Most Area Rivers Beginning to Recede

Flood warnings are being removed from many rivers as heavy runoff dissipates. The exception this morning is the Snohomish River at the city of Snohomish. It's cresting this morning.

The Herald of Everett's Eric Stevick reports there's some relief in Snohomish County, as the Stillaguamish crested below flood stage. Stevick writes all eyes remain on the Snohomish this morning:

"It's going to get some farmland wet, but I think the biggest risk right now is if we have damage to levies," said Mark Murphy, operations section chief for the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management. "I won't breathe a sigh of relief until the river goes below flood stage. It's one of those things we really have to keep an eye on, and we will."


Impact of WTO's Boeing Ruling

Now that the World Trade Organization has ruled Boeing received $5 billion in illegal government subsidies, what is the impact likely to be? Not much, reports The Seattle Times' Dominic Gates. WTO enforcement powers are weak as it takes years to ply through rulings, appeals and counter-appeals. 

Boeing's assessment follows a similar charge against the European Union and illegal subsidies to the makers of Airbus. In that case there is a claim of $20 billion in subsidies.

Gates reports the U.S. Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, kept his reaction focused on the main American talking point, essentially this: their illegal subsidies were bigger than our illegal subsidies:

"The WTO has vindicated the U.S. position," said Kirk . "The subsidies the Europeans have given to Airbus dwarf anything the United States has provided to Boeing."

One of the WTO's findings, reports Gates, is Boeing's business and occupation tax breaks (B&O taxes) from the state and City of Everett, totalling $16 million, are illegal. The biggest chunk of the ruling - $2.6 billion - was calculated from research and development assistance Boeing received from NASA, aiding its 787 Dreamliner. The US Trade Rep's office says the NASA programs ended many years ago.


UW Star to Forego Senior Season

Husky star guard Isaiah Thomas is leaving the UW basketball program and opting for the NBA draft. Thomas has two quarters remaining to finish get his degree - which he plans to do. Sportspress Northwest's Todd Dybas reports Thomas' plan to leave did not surprise coach Lorenzo Romar:

“The bottom line: Isaiah Thomas wants to play in the NBA,” Romar said. “It had now become so close to a reality to him, it’s just something he wanted to do...He worked as hard if not harder than anyone on our team to get better. The fact that he knows there’s a chance and he’s leaving, that doesn’t surprise me," (says Romar).

Thomas has not hired an agent. Romar says if he changes his mind, the Huskies would certainly welcome him back, Dybas report