Fast food bug spreads
Seattle's fast food workers' rights movement came to a head across the country today as workers in more than 50 cities — including New York, Los Angeles and Oakland — staged walkouts and picket lines to protest low wages. In Seattle, a wave of protests are taking place across the city that include workers from Arby's Papa John's, McDonald's, Jack in the Box and Starbucks among others. Workers are demanding a $15/ hour minimum wage and the right to organize without retaliation. Crosscut's Steve Dunphy will have more later today.
Feds give go-ahead on weed laws
The Department of Justice today issued a memo announcing that it has told the Governors of Washington and Colorado that it is "deferring its right to challenge their legalization laws." That's big news to a burgeoning local industry standing on shaky legal ground. They will, however, be keeping an eye on a list of eight other national priorities that include keeping weed out of the hands of minors and making sure Washington weed doesn't trickle over into other states. "We share those concerns and are confident our state initiative will be implemented as planned," Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a joint announcement released this morning.
McGinn was quick to laud the announcement in a Tweet, but Washington may not be entirely out of the woods yet: The DOJ memo was quite clear that if Washington doesn't enforce these priorities to a suitable level, all bets are off. Cue pivot to Seattle's interim police chief, Jim Pugel, who made the obligatory reassuring noises in his marijuana statement today. "Our department will continue our mission of public safety, harm reduction and public education encouraging safe and lawful behavior,“ he said reassuringly. Don't mess it up, boss.
UW uses Internet to connect human brains
A researcher at the University of Washington was able to transmit signals from his brain across campus to cause a colleague's fingers to move earlier this month, according to an article in yesterday's Seattle Times. The scientists believe it's the first time two human brains have been directly connected via the Internet. "Several neuroscientists dismissed the experiment as little more than a publicity stunt, but...one of the goals was to demonstrate it's possible to meld minds in a very rudimentary way using what are now standard tools," The Times reported.
The research developed out of Professor Rajesh Rao's work with brain-computer interfaces allowing paralyzed people to control devices with their thoughts. Similar experiments have been conducted at Duke and Harvard universities, but those studies involved invasive probes into lab rats' brains. The UW experiment utilized electrode-studded caps. Other neuroscientists remain unimpressed though, warning that the hype created around this project may lead to a false sense of progress for patients in addition to "unwarranted fear that scientists are working toward 'mind control'." Rao said that this first set of experiments were "simply a proof-of-principle," and that more extensive experiments are planned.
Zoo task force: Elephants are "in excellent care"
Woodland Park Zoo's Elephant Task Force released a new report yesterday afternoon from its "Expert Review Panel," which includes six scientific experts in elephant care and behavioral health. A Seattle Times investigation last year echoed longtime reporting in other outlets by Crosscut's own Eric Scigliano on the misery inflicted by the zoo's showy but ill-designed elephant facility and its zeal to breed crowd-pleasing baby pachyderms. One elephant, Chai, underwent more than 100 artificial insemination procedures. Her baby, Hansa, died suddenly in 2007 after being infected with the elephant endotheliotropic herpes virus.
The panel "reaffirmed that the Woodland Park Zoo's elephants...are in good medical health and the behavioral and social well-being of all three elephants is good." Deborah Jensen, Woodland Park President, said "the panel's report also provided an independent evaluation of the zoo's elephant breeding program and options for future success."
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