Murray, Sawant and all
At a City Hall ceremony, new Mayor Ed Murray and City Council member Kshama Sawant were being sworn in late this afternoon. Sawant revved up her Socialist rhetoric somewhat, saying the rich were prospering while the poor were suffering homelessness and health crises. "This is the result of international capitalism," she said. "... In this system, the market is God and everything is sacrificed on the altar of profit."
Other council members who had been re-elected in November, including Nick Licata and Sally Bagshaw, also referred to the need to address income inequality. Bagshaw drew cheers when she said she'd leave further discussion of the subject to Sawant. (A story on Sawant's first council meetings earlier in the day is here.) Murray began giving his inaugural speech a bit behind schedule, in part because of the reading of a rather lengthy poem saluting him. His oath was administered by former Gov. Gary Locke. Murray's husband, Michael Shiosaki, assisted. — J.C.
Lawmakers' freebies under scrutiny
A legislative ethics panel may have thrown out a complaint about lawmakers accepting dozens of meals from lobbyists, but its aftermath has shed light on a sticky spot in legislative ethics, according to veteran Olympian political reporter Brad Shannon. Lawmakers are currently allowed to accept food and drink from lobbyists on "infrequent occasions," but no one seems to agree on the legal definition of "infrequent."
Plus, the current system for tracking and reporting wining-and-dining by lobbyists is cumbersome and, legislators argue, grossly overestimates the number of hummus plates and glasses of Merlot they're actually consuming. The numbers: Five lawmakers accepted between 40 and 75 freebies each through June last year, with a cash value estimated to be between $1,101 and $2,029. No specific legislation is in the works, but it's likely that the Legislature will drum something up when it convenes for a 60-day session on Monday, Jan. 13. And if the lawmakers don't do it, the ethics committee will. — E.M.
Our future is bright — and icy!
This month, the University of Washington is launching the Future of Ice program, an initiative that aims to boost Arctic research and inform undergraduates about the realities of climate change. Though the UW is already a frontrunner in polar research, the program intends to provide expansion in both the university’s leadership and in education and opportunities in the Arctic for students, writes Seattle Times science writer Sandi Doughton. The program will also offer the country’s first Arctic studies minor in a university outside of Alaska, which will not only teach students the science behind global warming, but also about the cultures and politics of the world's polar regions.
Faculty members believe the timing has never been better for such a program. “There are things happening in the Arctic that have never happened before in the history of human society,” says anthropologist and co-director of the initiative, Ben Fitzhugh. “It’s going to bring a lot of pollution, it’s going to bring a lot of investment, it’s going to bring a lot of employment.” — M.C.
Talking to your baby is good. Talking baby talk is even better, according to new findings by researchers at the University of Washington. Patricia Kuhl, co-director of the UW's Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, says that "the prevalence of baby talk in one-on-one conversations with children is linked to better language development." A few tips: Emphasize important words, stretch out the vowels, talk slowly and use a happy tone. Those who have lost all connection to their childhood can hear a clip of baby talk here. — J.C.
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