Gun control campaign coming
Activists are close to launching what The Seattle Times calls "the state's biggest gun-control campaign in years." The top priority: universal background checks for all gun sales. Venture capitalist Nick Hanauer will support the effort, which will reach out to PTAs and religious organizations. The story by The Times' Brian M. Rosenthal reports that the idea grew out of holiday party discussions in the wake of the Sandy Hook school massacre. One of the organizers is ex-Seattle City Councilmember Tina Podlodowski, who wrote a widely distributed op-ed on the subject for Crosscut in mid-December.
Inslee gets into coal specifics
Gov. Jay Inslee promises the state will consider an extensive list of issues in reviewing coal port proposals in Bellingham and elsewhere. In an exclusive interview with Crosscut writers and editors today, the governor mentioned such factors as train-crossing delays in cities large and small, health effects from coal dust blowing off trains and even the economic effects of giving Chinese firms access to "cheap, dirty power" that isn't available to Boeing and other U.S. companies that compete in the same markets.
Inslee made it clear that mitigation is a possibility, noting that the state could negotiate with BNSF for crossing improvements. But he also said he doesn't view coal ports as a simple jobs vs. the environment decision, because the economic effects could also hurt some companies here. "We are going to have a very comprehensive, thorough evaluation for the people of the state of Washington," he said. "We are going to do our jobs."
There's an early media story line that Inslee isn't on top of policy details. Really? It didn't sound like it on coal trains. Crosscut will have more on the Inslee interview from Olympia correspondent John Stang later today.
Cool your jets, Mr. Boeing
The Federal Aviation Administration came out with a sharp denial today of the Wall Street Journal's suggestion that it will allow Boeing to conduct test flights as it works on a fix to the 787 battery problem. Reuters reports a tersely worded FAA email saying, "Reports that we are close to allowing 787 test flights are completely inaccurate." Reuters also notes that the FAA intends to allow public comments on its original decision to ground the planes.
But there was a surprisingly upbeat sign in a brief New York Times story from Tuesday:
Battery experts say the company’s plan generally seems on track. But Donald R. Sadoway, a professor of materials chemistry at M.I.T., said he thinks Boeing should add a water-cooling system or a fan to provide more assurance that the battery cells will not overheat.
The overall assessment is at least somewhat promising. More importantly, that kind of specific criticism is something that Boeing's engineers can learn from.
Bellevue land-use changes
Bellevue overhauled its land-use codes this week and initial reactions seem to indicate the city has done itself proud. Seattle Transit Blog describes the measure, passed by the City Council on Monday, as opening the way for Sound Transit to move forward on its planning for light-rail in the city. Neighbors see the setbacks between homes and a rail line as a big win for protecting property values, according to the Bellevue Reporter. It was a unanimous vote, something surprising on the often-divided council. Highly capable Councilmember John Chelminiak told the Bellevue Reporter, "I think this is a great outcome."
Hands for a Bridge
This is so Seattle, and hopeful, that we can't resist mentioning it. A Roosevelt High School group, Hands for a Bridge, is sending groups of students to South Africa and Northern Ireland this spring to talk about the handling of cultural and ethnic differences. As a fund-raiser, the group will show "My So Called Enemy," a film about six Israeli and Palestinian teenage girls working for mutual understanding and justice.
Speaking of building understanding across that particular divide: Seattle's Middle East Peace Camp for Children is taking registrations for its summer sessions. The camp sessions began in 2002, in response to the 9/11 terror attacks.
Code talkers: The tech version
A video on the value of teaching computer code to young people had hit some 124,000 views by early afternoon today, little more than 24-hours after its launch. It's an inspiring piece with loads of Northwest connections, including Bill Gates talking about how his first coding project was to set up the computer scheduling of Lakeside School classes. He says it allowed him to decide which girls would be in his classes. And the look on his face suggests it is true. That devil.
The piece makes a strong case for including coding in K-12 education. Some comments seem to say, "No, not one more thing to be prescribed for schools." Well, yes, change and the need for improvements never stop.
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