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GWYNETH ROBERTS, Journal Star 

Lincoln Christian teammates, including Brielle Power (3) and Olivia Hollenbeck (42) celebrate their win against Mitchell in a Class C-1 semifinal game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Friday.


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February was bad; March starting off worse in Lincoln area

In terms of both snow and cold, last month will go down as one of the worst Februaries in recorded history.

It was the second-snowiest February and third-snowiest month ever, with 23.2 inches recorded at the Lincoln Airport. The average temperature for the month was 18.6 degrees, which ranked as the seventh-coldest February in 133 years of record-keeping.

The only other time February produced cold and snowfall that both ranked in the top 10 was 1978.

If you were looking forward to March and hoping for something better, don't hold your breath.

Lincoln is likely to see one of the coldest starts to March ever.

After the temperature reached 31 degrees Friday, the National Weather Service predicts a brutal weekend.

The high for Saturday is expected to only get to 18, and there is a chance for more snow, with an inch or two of accumulation possible.

Things get worse Sunday, with temperatures expected to only reach 7 degrees, which would set a record for lowest high temperature for March 3. The low Monday morning is expected to drop to minus 7, with wind chills of minus 20 or lower.

Monday's high will only reach 12 degrees, with 21 forecast for Tuesday. Wednesday and Thursday could see temperatures return to the 30s, which is still about 15 degrees below normal for this time of year.

So when will Lincoln finally see a hint of spring and break winter's icy grip? Likely about the middle of the month.

"Computer models and my colleagues who are experts in long-range forecasts see this bitter-cold pattern breaking down mid-March," Ken Dewey, a regional climatologist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said on Twitter.

Dewey posted a graphic that showed temperatures possibly 5-10 degrees above normal on March 15, which would put highs in the upper 50s.

"Yes, a light at the end of the tunnel," Dewey said in his Twitter post. "Spring will defeat winter."

The last time March started off anywhere close to this cold was 2009, when the high was 16 on March 1 and 29 on March 2. But that year, it jumped to 51 on March 3 and hit a record high of 76 on March 5.

You have to go all the way back to 1998 to find a March with a prolonged cold spell to open the month. That year, the temperature made it above 40 degrees only once in the first 19 days of the month.

With more snow in the forecast for this weekend, this year could continue to move up the ranks of snowiest winters. The current total of 49.2 inches is fifth all-time, with only 1.5 inches needed to move up to fourth.

If the city simply hits its averages of 4.8 inches of snow in March and 1.4 inches in April, this winter will rank as the second-snowiest of all time, trailing only the winter of 1914-15.

Blizzard photos

Photos: Digging out (and having a little fun) after blizzard

SAVANNAH BLAKE, Journal Star 

Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez reads "Oh The Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss to more than 100 second-graders at Belmont Elementary School on Friday for Read Across America day. 


National
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ANALYSIS
Analysis: Real joy of movies still in theaters

NEW YORK — Sure, it's easy to Netflix and chill these days. Or Prime and recline. Or Hulu and ... well, whatever. But if you really want to savor a film, there's still no substitute for a movie theater.

Turns out that there are few better ways to rediscover the joy of heading to the theater than a year of free movie tickets, courtesy of MoviePass. Among the greatest attractions: no distractions from Facebook, online chats, household chores and what not.

I was a regular moviegoer until ticket prices rocketed past $10 several years ago. In New York, $15 is now common; some theaters can charge $18 or $19, even before 3D and other surcharges. Streaming at home became far more affordable — and convenient. Who has time to go to the movies when you're already behind on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and everything else?

But then came a too-good-to-be-true subscription deal from MoviePass, a promotion that offered a daily movie for a year for just $94. With ticket prices no longer an issue, I ended up seeing 181 movies — including most of the Academy Award contenders. Those movies would have cost me $2,747 without MoviePass. That's 52 cents per film, a 97 percent discount from $15. The deal was so good that MoviePass no longer offers it.

That MoviePass subscription has expired, but I've already seen 42 movies on other subscriptions this year — a mix of Sinemia, AMC A-List and memberships with individual theaters. It's costing about $60 a month in all, far more than the $8 a month with MoviePass — but all worth it.

I confess I have it easier than many people. Having no kids means no worries about babysitters and bedtime. I can squeeze in a 10 p.m. showing after a night out with friends.

Once the lights dim, it's just the movie and me.

When watching Netflix, you need discipline to put your phone or laptop away. I've sometimes had to consult Wikipedia for a plot point I missed because I was responding to a text or reading about the next movie to watch. Even folding laundry takes your eyes off the screen.

And while it's convenient to be able to stream movies in bits and pieces, as time permits, that detracts from their rhythm and pacing. Some movies, such as the Netflix drama "Roma," are meant to feel slow and deliberate, but you lose that feeling if you multitask on Facebook. The Netflix thriller "Bird Box" just doesn't feel right without the proper buildup of suspense.

Costumes and landscapes come to life on the theater's big screen. Rock climber Alex Honnold's nerve-racking, rope-free ascent of the gigantic Yosemite rock formation El Capitan in "Free Solo" wouldn't have been the same on a phone. This documentary was even worth watching a second time, in the mega-size Imax format.

Then there was "Cold War," a Polish drama on romance in the Eastern Bloc. It was filmed in black and white in the boxy, 4-by-3 frame used by TV screens of that era. That gives the movie a nostalgic feel, even though it just came out. With streaming, video sometimes gets squeezed or stretched to match the dimensions of the TV or phone.

Sound quality at many theaters far exceeds what I could get at home. That became clear watching — and hearing — "Bohemian Rhapsody," about the rock band Queen, and "A Star is Born," a Lady Gaga-led drama on a singer's rise to fame.

True, theaters can still be a hassle. You have to be there at showtime — and then big theater chains show nearly a half-hour of trailers. (I typically read an e-book at low brightness or catch up on podcasts.) Coordinating schedules with friends can also be complicated, though if you're OK watching movies alone, that doesn't have to be a problem.


Faith-and-values
editor's picktopical
Catholic officials challenge Nebraska AG's subpoena demands in abuse probe

The Catholic church pushed back against state investigators Friday, asking a judge to toss the 400 subpoenas the Nebraska attorney general served on churches and schools this week seeking evidence of clergy sex abuse of minors.

Short of that, church officials asked a judge to give them more time to comply, and to force Attorney General Doug Peterson to narrow his requests.

“The attorney general has improperly attempted to use these subpoenas like warrants without a showing of probable cause, by demanding immediate responses, threatening sanctions for failing to comply, and using the element of surprise,” lawyers for the bishops wrote.

On Tuesday, Peterson announced he’d instructed law enforcement officers across the state to serve 400 subpoenas on Catholic churches, schools and other institutions. Specifically, he required all records related to any assault or abuse by those employed or associated with each church or institution, whether previously reported or not, according to his news release.

What the release didn’t say: Peterson was demanding information covering 22 years, according to court documents. He was expecting immediate compliance from the offices of the Diocese of Lincoln and Archdiocese of Omaha. And he was giving churches and schools three days to turn over records.

Attorneys for both sides met privately with Lancaster County District Judge Robert Otte in his chambers Friday before agreeing in court to delay the fight.

They will meet next week to discuss document production. And both sides will return to court later this month. Until then, the attorney general's office has agreed not to enforce the subpoenas.

Outside of court, Assistant Attorney General Corey O'Brien declined to comment on why the state has softened its position on enforcement of its subpoenas.

And Richard Rice, who represents the Diocese of Lincoln and its Catholic schools, declined to comment on the development, stressing only that diocesan officials want to continue cooperating with the state's investigation.

The subpoenas followed Peterson’s request in late August that Nebraska’s bishops voluntarily produce four decades of internal investigative reports related to sexual abuse of minors.

Over the next few months, the Lincoln Diocese — after working with the attorney general’s office, Lincoln police and the Lancaster County attorney to clarify the request — turned over more than 2,500 pages of documents, according to court records. And the Archdiocese of Omaha ultimately produced more than 11,500 pages related to 137 clergy and lay people.

On Tuesday, Peterson said he appreciated the church’s cooperation, but believed subpoenas were necessary to make sure all reports of impropriety were investigated.

The subpoenas to the schools and churches, including the Diocese of Grand Island, demanded documents by March 1 and read, in part:

“You are hereby ordered to produce records, files, forms, summaries, documents, materials, e-mails and statements, or any other documentation related to reports or allegations of clergy or any other church or school employee or volunteer pertaining to any inappropriate conduct with a child between April 16, 1997, and January 1, 2019.”

They prompted the church’s court filing Friday, which contained a long list of complaints, including a problem with the term “inappropriate conduct.”

“The directive within the subpoenas received by schools and churches is vague and broad and puts the schools and parishes in the difficult position of determining the meaning of ‘inappropriate behavior.’”

Meaning it could include conduct that has nothing to do with abuse of children, the church’s lawyers wrote.

They found the subpoenas to the diocese offices equally broad in their demand for 22 years of business, real estate, litigation, financial, employment, personnel and insurance records. “These subpoenas are not limited to clergy sexual abuse of minors, but seek records related to any ‘wrongful’ conduct,'” they wrote.

Beyond the vague language and tight deadlines, church officials had other problems with the subpoenas:

* Peterson demanded silence, saying those subpoenaed “are ordered not to disclose the existence of this subpoena to any person who is not directly involved …” The church’s lawyers pointed out Peterson issued a news release about the subpoenas and, further, that he didn’t identify any legal authority allowing him to give that order.

* The costs could be “staggering,” the lawyers wrote. Retrieving electronic documents, for example, would require the review of thousands of computers and systems across the state. “In addition to the forensic costs, the time, labor and travel expenses to complete this exercise would quickly total millions of dollars.”

* And they accused Peterson of violating church officials’ rights to due process and to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures.

They asked the court to either quash the subpoenas or issue a protective order, requiring Peterson to narrow the subpoenas — “tailored to the subject matter of its investigation” — and to allow the church to produce copies, not originals. They want Peterson to require electronically stored information only if he can demonstrate the need — and only if he pays for the retrieval.

And finally, they asked for more time: 60 days for the Omaha and Lincoln diocese offices; 30 days for schools and parishes.

But in a statement Friday afternoon, the attorney general’s office said “a number” of Catholic institutions had already complied with the subpoenas — and provided information not previously produced.

"The Attorney General's Office has agreed to have further discussions but believes that information not yet disclosed needs to be made available for review as soon as possible."

The Diocese of Lincoln issued its own short statement, saying it took the court action, along with the Archdiocese of Omaha, because it wasn’t possible to respond to the subpoenas in three days.

“Despite having to take this step, the Diocese of Lincoln will continue to cooperate with the attorney general to provide records and information in a timely and reasonable way.”


Zach Pluhacek / Associated Press file photo 

Peterson