Art work by Noel Franklin
The second day of spring finds snow and icy stuff falling in unexpected places. Parts of Snohomish County had snow on the ground in the morning, Kirkland was getting snow shortly after 2 p.m. and a Seattle broadcaster was tweeting hopefully that it "kind of looks" like snow in north Seattle. On his weather blog, Cliff Mass said spring often brings the coldest upper air temperatures.
Seattlepi.com asks, Does Seattle still lead the nation in love for "Downton Abbey"? The short answer is yes. The slightly longer one: KCTS9 dug into the numbers and found viewership here was a good 30 percent higher than the national average. So, naturally, there will be a marathon showing this Sunday of the entire Season 3 set of episodes, which finished last month. We're all for unwinding, but do we really need Seattle Sits-and-Stares Sunday?
Pushing the VA
U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott proposed a commission today to explore ways to improve care for returning veterans. The Seattle Democrat would also have the commission look for new ways to have vets and active service members "teach their public about their experiences."
A day earlier, Sen. Patty Murray said she is worried about the challenges that the Department of Veterans Affairs faces in dealing with returning service members' mental health needs. She was the prime sponsor of the 2012 Mental Health ACCESS Act, designed to improve care for veterans.
Recent reports from the Center for the Investigative Journalism have shown that the VA has large problems keeping up with assistance applications. The problem has been particularly bad in California, where applications often sit for 600 days before being decided. Seattle and Portland aren't great, either, with processing of applications estimated to take 340-plus days in each.
Murray, a longtime advocate for veterans, recently won the Veterans of Foreign Wars' 2013 award for contributions to returning service members' needs. But remedying the VA's persistent shortcomings under the Obama administration — apparently even worse than under the not-very-high-peforming Bush administration — is going to take a lot of pushing. Hard, even angry pushing.
Jewell gets big vote
In a largely bipartisan vote, a Senate committee approved REI's Sally Jewell as the next U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com notes that Idaho Republican Sen. Jim Risch might place a hold on the nomination over protection of sage grouse (he favors a state plan; some Republicans fear the feds' protection ideas might interfere with energy developments). Despite voting for her in committee, Risch could still block a full Senate vote on the nomination.
The vote was 19-to-3; Republicans John Barasso of Wyoming, Mike Lee of Utah and Tim Scott of South Carolina opposed. Hmm, opposing an REI exec (whose products reach millions of the youngest and most active folks nationwide). Perhaps they didn't get the Republican memo on modernizing the party's image.
Kurion, a small Richland-based company, wants to use a condensed glassification technology to help clean up radioactive waste leaking from Hanford tanks on the quick, according to the Tri-City Herald. Kurion is designing small, modular units to turn leaking waste into glass. That could bump up the clean-up start date to 2014. Otherwise, Hanford might be stuck waiting for the 2019 completion of a larger facility (which is needed either way). Kurion is less than 5 years old but it has already built a cesium removal system for the disaster-struck Fukushima nuclear plant.
Coal port protest
Update 5:01 p.m.: Protesters against coal port proposals marched from Westlake Center to SSA Marine offices in Seattle this afternoon. Idle No More, a Native rights group, sponsored the march. Here’s a part of the march as it passed through Pioneer Square. For full coverage of coal ports, including today's final part in a series by Floyd McKay, check out Crosscut's coal ports page.
Bainbridge art museum opening
The brand new Bainbridge Island Museum of Art said today that it will open June 14. The museum recently met a $1.2 million challenge match grant for its capital campaign. This video is from last year, but it gives an overview of the thinking behind the museum.
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