Spying is no Xbox game
Microsoft, Google and a half-dozen major tech firms called for reforms to make government surveillance more targeted and respectful of privacy and free speech in an open letter to Washington, D.C. today. The letter called on Congress and President Barack Obama to implement reform based on five major principles.
In a Microsoft press release, General Counsel Brad Smith explained their concern. “People won’t use technology they don’t trust,” he wrote. “Governments have put this trust at risk, and governments need to help restore it.” Their effort comes just as the latest Guardian report using Edward Snowden documents shows that U.S. and British spies have made sophisticated efforts to spy on people playing online games, including developing the ability to collect large amounts of data from Xbox Live users. We're thinking that Microsoft isn't amused about that, either. — B.A.
The tunnel boring machine on Seattle's waterfront has run into "an obstruction" and is standing still as officials investigate what it has encountered under First Avenue in Pioneer Square. State Department of Transportation officials say they expect to have more information soon. KING5, which first broke the story, says the tunneling machine was about 60 feet underground when it ran into something on Friday. You can follow the Twitter account for the machine nicknamed Bertha here on Twitter. — J.C.
Recounting the ballots for SeaTac
King County Elections on Monday morning began a hand recount of the ballots for SeaTac's $15 minimum wage law, which would cover about 6,000 workers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and in large nearby hotels. The proposition won by just 77 votes out of more than 6,000 ballots cast in the November general election, but opponents requested the recount. Just after 4 p.m., supporters of the measure said the margin appeared to have held up in the recount. King County said the results won't be final until morning, but no discrepancies with earlier tallying were discovered. — J.C.
Oregon governor wants another term
John Kitzhaber says he is running for re-election as governor next year, potentially breaking his own record for most times elected governor in Oregon history. He held office for two terms from 1995 to 2003, and then was elected a third time in 2010. Oregon's constitution forbids more than two consecutive terms. Kitzhaber, who turns 67 next March, is widely regarded as a likely winner next year, so ambitious Oregon politicians might do well to start marking off the days until the 2018 election. — J.C.
Your owner gotten you the good stuff yet?
In Washington’s fledgling weed market, it was only a matter of time before stoners stopped blowing smoke into their pets' ears. The practice is used by some to get dogs and cats stoned, but pets, like humans, don’t always enjoy the process (marijuana intoxication and overdoses an be a problem).
Now, one Seattle vet has developed a safer, more institutionalized way to treat pet pain using hemp tablets. The tablets are called Canna-Pet and they sell for a dollar a pill. While they contain all of the natural compounds found in marijuana, they won’t actually get your pet high and they’re legal even on a federal level. The vet who created Canna-Pet says it has some mysterious attributes. "If you give an animal the hemp and use it for pain control, they don't get hungry. If you're using it for controlling nausea, or to help increase appetite, they eat better." Sounds like a good deal to me. — B.A.
Inside the Mariners
We all knew the Mariners haven’t been at their best for the last, oh, decade or two. But former manager Eric Wedge and others revealed just how bad things have gotten at the top in a Seattle Times report this weekend. Wedge blasted the Mariners’ front office, run by CEO Howard Lincoln and President Chuck Armstrong, saying the franchise was plagued by “total dysfunction and a lack of leadership.”
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