A rock that lodged in the waterfront tunnel-boring machine was just the right size to create problems, according to The Seattle Times. A report says the boulder was a half-foot wider than the 3-foot width boulder size the machine is designed to handle easily — without smashing the rock and passing it on to a conveyor belt. So, Bertha's boulder was just big enough that it needed to be chewed up by the machine's cutting face, which is sitting in some especially loose soils, which have allowed the rock to move around and escape pulverization. That said, there's still no one problem that explains all Bertha's woes. — J.C.
Support for homeless youth
Propelled by federal funding cuts to programs that serve King County’s homeless youth, three Seattle philanthropies have stepped in with $450,000. The money, from the Raikes Foundation, Ballmer Family Giving and the Thomas V. Giddens Jr. Foundation, will fund street outreach programs in 24 cities, and drop-in services at Auburn Youth Services, Friends of Youth and YouthCare, three of the Northwest’s premier service providers for runaway and homeless youth. On any given night, more than 700 young people are without a home. “There are homeless youth in every zip code in King County,” said Terry Pottmeyer, president and CEO of Friends of Youth. “Our mobile outreach team finds youth sleeping in parks, camping in the woods, and trying to stay warm at the library.” — M.B.
Sister Mary Scapegoat
The recent resignation of Eastside Catholic president Sister Mary Tracy is creating more momentum for protests over the removal of vice principal Mark Zmuda. (He married his gay partner and wham-bam he was gone.) Sister Mary Tracy stepped down early this week. The school's board of directors, in a statement, said she wanted to leave so that the school could move "forward on a positive path." As Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com notes, the Catholic Archdiocese had "saddled" her with responsibility for the December departure of Zmuda. School parents will get a chance to talk to board members about these developments at a meeting Thursday, The Seattle Times reports. Meantime, those activist Eastside students are asking supporters at schools across the country to wear orange (one of Eastside's colors) on Jan. 31 in support of Zmuda. — J.C.
What? No Blue Thunder?!
The drum line that supports the Seahawks at home games (ever so loudly) will apparently not be going to the Super Bowl this year, even though the team took drummers to the 2006 championship. Blue Thunder supporters have launched a Facebook page to urge the Hawks to bring the percussionists to New York (OK, New Jersey) for the game and have already received sympathetic coverage from KING 5. C'mon, Paul Allen, what's another 30 or so people for the trip? — J.C.
Thanks and hint for McGinn
An event late Wednesday afternoon will thank Mike McGinn for his service as mayor — and raise money to help him pay off campaign debt. The latest campaign disclosure report on the city elections website showed the former Seattle mayor $20,000 in debt as of Jan. 10. The Stranger (which endorsed him) also suggests that people "should maybe whisper something" to Mike about running for City Council in 2015. Not too soon to think about, apparently: The elections site already shows seven active campaigns for council positions in 2015. — J.C.
China: Sharing the bad air
Air pollution from China is blowing our way. A new study says it should reach the West Coast in just a few days, propelled by high-level currents. KUOW notes that the level of China's exported product is small compared to our own locally-produced pollutants — and extremely small compared to what Chinese industries and power plants are belching all over its own citizens. Still, we're happy to hear that Beijing is banning the construction of new power plants, cement factories and oil refineries in the city. Seattle-based Grist.org says Beijing's notoriously bad pollution may be shaving — or stealing — up to 16 years from residents' lives. — J.C.
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