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Hot, hot, hot: Heat advisory in effect in Yakima Valley with temperatures climbing
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Temperatures are headed into record territory this week, with a forecasted high of 102 in Yakima on Wednesday and a heat advisory in effect.

The previous record high for June 2 was 95 degrees in 2007.

The heat advisory took effect Tuesday and runs through 8 p.m. on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. People should stay out of the sun, drink plenty of fluids and take precautions outside.

Temperatures are expected to reach to 96 degrees on Thursday and cool off into the weekend.

The high temperatures are part of a high-pressure system that has been building over the region and is expected to peak on Wednesday, said Joe Sullivan, meteorologist at the National Weather Service at Pendleton, Ore.

“The timing of this is a little unusual in the fact that it’s right at the beginning of the summer, whereas we’d typically see this type of heat as we get into mid to late June and onward,” Sullivan said.

The heat isn’t going to last long and temperatures will drop this weekend and into next week, he said. Highs this weekend are forecast in the mid-70s. But people should be prepared for the heat spike.

Watch for heat stroke, pets

People should stay out of the sun this week when possible and reschedule any strenuous activities outdoors to early morning or evening, the National Weather Service at Pendleton, Ore., said in a statement.

Those working outside should watch for symptoms of heat cramps or exhaustion, said Randy Beehler, communications and public affairs director for the city of Yakima.

“We also encourage people to check on family and neighbors and friends during the heat spell to make sure everything is OK with them,” Beehler said.

Heat exhaustion brings heavy sweating, a rapid pulse, dizziness, fatigue and cool, moist skin with goose bumps, along with muscle cramps, nausea and headache.

Heat stroke is an emergency and people should call 911. Along with a high body temperature, heat stroke can cause an altered mental state or behavior, nausea and vomiting, flushed skin and little to no sweating, rapid breathing and racing heart rate.

It can be deadly to leave people or pets in a parked car in high heat. Even with the windows open, the temperature inside a car can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature can reach 120 degrees, according to the Humane Society.

“It is more common than one might think for pets to be left in a parking lot at a grocery store,” Beehler said. “That is a terribly dangerous environment for pets.”

Lori Phillips, owner of Paws and Claws pet grooming in Yakima, also cautions people to be careful with pets in the summer.

Paws and Claws has seen an influx of customers this month who are hoping to get their dogs groomed to prepare for the hot weather.

“We are completely booked out for the next six weeks,” Phillips said. “The weather is a big factor in our business.”

Help for homeless

Rhonda Hauff, CEO of Yakima Neighborhood Health Services, says the organization’s street outreach teams of nurses and behavioral health specialists will be out working with people experiencing homelessness to hand out water bottles and sunscreen this week.

“Stay out of the sun as much as possible and come into one of our health clinics if you’re feeling ill,” Hauff said.

Yakima Neighborhood Health Services has five locations in the city of Yakima, one location in Granger and one in Sunnyside.

For more community resources, call 211.

Meat producer ransomware attack disrupts global production

CANBERRA, Australia — A ransomware attack on the world’s largest meat processing company is disrupting production around the world just weeks after a similar incident shut down a U.S. oil pipeline.

JBS SA of Brazil notified the U.S. of a ransom demand from a criminal organization likely based in Russia, White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed Tuesday. She said the White House and the Department of Agriculture have been in touch with the company several times this week.

JBS is the second-largest producer of beef, pork and chicken in the U.S. If it were to shut down for even one day, the U.S. would lose almost a quarter of its beef-processing capacity, or the equivalent of 20,000 beef cows, according to Trey Malone, an assistant professor of agriculture at Michigan State University.

In a statement, JBS said the cyberattack affected servers supporting its operations in North America and Australia. The company said it notified authorities and engaged third-party experts to resolve the problem as soon as possible. Backup servers weren’t affected.

Malone said the disruption could further raise meat prices ahead of summer barbecues. Even before the attack, U.S. meat prices were rising due to coronavirus shutdowns, bad weather and high plant absenteeism. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has said it expects beef prices to climb 1% to 2% this year, poultry as much as 1.5% and pork between by from 2% and 3%.

JBS didn’t say which of its 84 U.S. facilities were closed Monday and Tuesday because of the attack. But a union official confirmed that two shifts at the company’s largest U.S. beef plant, in Greeley, Colo., were canceled Tuesday.

Some plant shifts in Canada were also canceled Monday and Tuesday, according to JBS Facebook posts.

In Australia, thousands of meat plant workers had no work for a second day Tuesday, and a government minister said it might be days before production resumes. JBS is Australia’s largest meat and food processing company, with 47 facilities across the country including slaughterhouses, feedlots and meat processing sites.

The closures reflect the reality that modern meat processing plants are heavily automated, for both food- and worker-safety reasons. Computers collect data at multiple stages of the production process, and orders, billing, shipping and other functions are all electronic.

JBS has not stated publicly that the attack was ransomware.

Jean-Pierre said the White House “is engaging directly with the Russian government on this matter and delivering the message that responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals.” The FBI is investigating the incident, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is offering technical support to JBS.

In addition, USDA has spoken to several major meat processors in the U.S. to alert them to the situation, and the White House is assessing any potential impact on the nation’s meat supply.

JBS has more than 150,000 employees worldwide.

It’s not the first time a ransomware attack has targeted a food company. Last November, Milan-based Campari Group said it was the victim of a ransomware attack that caused a temporary technology outage and compromised some business and personal data.

In March, Molson Coors announced a cyber attack that affected its production and shipping. Molson Coors said it was able to get some of its breweries running after 24 hours; others took several days.

Ransomware expert Brett Callow, a threat analyst at the security firm Emsisoft, said companies like JBS make ideal targets.

“They play a critical role in the food supply chain and threat actors likely believe this increases their chances of getting a speedy payout,” Callow said.

Mark Jordan, who follows the meat industry as the executive director of Leap Market Analytics, said the disruption could be minimal assuming JBS recovers in the next few days. Meat processers are used to dealing with delays because of a host of factors, including industrial accidents and power outages, and they make up lost production with extra shifts, he said.

“Several plants owned by a major meatpacker going offline for a couple of days is a major headache, but it is manageable assuming it doesn’t extend much beyond that,” he said.

Jordan said it will help that U.S. meat demand generally eases for a few weeks between Memorial Day and the July 4 Independence Day holiday.

But the attacks can wreak havoc. Last month, a gang of hackers shut down operation of the Colonial Pipeline, the largest U.S. fuel pipeline, for nearly a week. The closure sparked long lines and panic buying at gas stations across the Southeast. Colonial Pipeline confirmed it paid $4.4 million to the hackers.

Jason Crabtree, the co-founder of QOMPLX, a Virginia-based artificial intelligence and machine learning company, said Marriott, FedEx and others have also been targeted by ransomware attacks. He said companies need to do a better job of rapidly detecting bad actors in their systems.

“A lot of organizations aren’t able to find and fix different vulnerabilities faster than the adversaries that they’re fighting,”’ Crabtree said.

Crabtree said the government also plays a critical role, and said President Joe Biden’s recent executive order on cybersecurity — which requires all federal agencies to use basic security measures, like multi-factor authentication — is a good start.

US formally ends policy for asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Tuesday formally ended a Trump-era immigration policy that forced asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. immigration court.

A seven-page memo by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas marked the end of the “Migrant Protection Protocols,” which returned about 70,000 asylum-seekers to Mexico from January 2019 until it was halted on President Joe Biden’s first day in office two years later.

The announcement appeared to be a foregone conclusion after Biden promised as a candidate to end the policy, known informally as “Remain in Mexico,” but he left a window open by ordering a review before shutting it down permanently.

Mayorkas said keeping the policy intact or modifying it “would not be consistent with this Administration’s vision and values and would be a poor use of the Department’s resources.” He said the costs would far outweigh any benefits.

The policy coincided with a sharp decline of asylum-seekers at the border, but critics noted that people were hampered by violent conditions in Mexico, lack of access to lawyers and difficulty making it to court. Mayorkas acknowledged those concerns by noting the high rate of denied claims for failing to appear in court and the lack of housing, income and safety in Mexico.

Since Feb. 19, about 11,200 people with active cases have been allowed to return to the United States to wait for a ruling, a process that can take years in the backlogged court system. The administration has yet to say if tens of thousands more whose cases were either dismissed or denied will get another chance.

The administration has largely kept in place pandemic-related powers introduced by President Donald Trump in March 2020 to expel people to Mexico without an opportunity to seek asylum, justified on grounds of protecting public health. Mayorkas acknowledged planning for those pandemic-related powers to be lifted but was light on specifics.

The secretary pointed to a new docket in immigration court announced Friday that aims to decide asylum cases at the border within 300 days. He promised “additional anticipated regulatory and policy changes,” without elaborating.

Supreme Court upholds tribal police in traffic stop, search

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that tribal police officers can stop and search non-Indians on tribal lands for potential violations of state or federal law.

The justices unanimously reversed an appellate ruling in favor of a non-Native motorist who was charged with drug-related crimes after a tribal officer searched his pickup truck on a public road that crosses the Crow reservation in Montana.

The Supreme Court has previously held that tribal police have little authority over non-Indians, but Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the court that allowing a temporary stop and detention — so that state or federal authorities can be called in — enhances public safety.

“To deny a tribal police officer authority to search and detain for a reasonable time any person he or she believes may commit or has committed a crime would make it difficult for tribes to protect themselves against ongoing threats,” Breyer wrote.

The case involved a traffic stop in 2016 in which Officer James Saylor of the Crow Tribe Police Department came upon a pickup truck with its headlights on and motor running, parked on the shoulder of U.S. Route 212.

The driver, Joshua Cooley, had watery, bloodshot eyes, Saylor said. Cooley also had two semiautomatic rifles and a handgun in the pickup, as well as methamphetamine.

Saylor called for help from federal and county officers, who eventually arrested Cooley.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Cooley, saying that non-Indians can be detained only if evidence of a crime is “apparent” or “obvious.”

The Justice Department appealed during the Trump administration and maintained its position after President Joe Biden took office.