Amazon dragon breathes “Fire”
CEO Jeff Bezos dished out the details about Amazon’s new Fire phone in Fremont today. Geekwire reports. The smartphone boasts 3D capabilities, unlimited photo storage, a one-year free membership to Amazon Prime and a new program called Firefly, which allows users to scan objects, songs and TV shows so that Amazon can identify them and offer a way to purchase them from its store. Firefly can recognize up to 100 million items — now that’s smart-shopping, or downright spooky. The phone will start shipping out July 25. — E.W.
NFL nickname blasted
The federal Trademark Trial and Appeal Board today canceled six of Washington NFL team’s federal trademark registration, ruling the team's nickname is “disparaging of Native Americans.” The team immediately jumped to appeal the decision, so the cancellations are currently on hold pending a court appeal, according to the Associated Press. In 2003, the team succeeded in overturning a similar trademark board ruling from 1999.
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington said on the Senate floor, “This is not the end of this case, but this is a landmark decision." Cantwell has helped to spearhead a national campaign against the mascot. In May, Sen. Cantwell and 49 other senators sent a letter to the NFL urging the league to pressure the Washington team to abandon the mascot.
While NFL team owner Daniel Snyder clings to the offensive name, a local school is way ahead of him and the rest of the NFL: Port Townsend High School is switching its mascot from the racial slur to the Redhawks. Just a few days before the trademark board’s decision, this commercial (produced by the National Congress of American Indians) aired during the NBA finals. — M.L.
A senior project to end all senior projects
Seattle Public Schools recently joined other school districts in Washington — including Edmonds, Ellensburg and Waitsburg — in dropping a graduation requirement looming over the heads of seniors: the senior project. State legislators voted last spring to drop a statewide mandate, leaving it up to districts whether to require the projects, which range from research papers to community service undertakings. The Legislature acted in response to the efforts of a Yakima high school senior. 17-year-old Tiffany Stewart. The stepdaughter of state Rep. David Taylor, Stewart helped draft a bill as part of her own senior project. Her reasoning? Many students blow the projects off or don’t have the time or money to do more than the bare minimum. Should your district chuck senior projects? At last check, 68 percent of respondents to a Seattle Times' poll think so. — E.W.
State revenues, jobs: Going up
Washington state officials today said employers added about 4,000 jobs during May, although the unemployment rate stayed steady at 6.1 percent. That followed a revenue forecast issued Tuesday saying the state will take in $157 million more than expected in the coming fiscal year,, and another $238 million for the 2015-2017 budget. But the expected surge in revenue is not enough to fund a state Supreme Court order (the McCleary decision) that Washington state must supply sufficient funding to public education, The Herald reports.
With the weight of the McCleary decision and other budget pressures, state agencies are discussing ways on how to cut off 15 percent from their budgets. “This is a drill to give the governor options,” budget director David Schumacher said. “We're not expecting to do 15 percent in each and every agency.” — J.B.
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