Daily Troll: Orca numbers down. Microsoft expands Xbox One reach. Warmest July-August ever.

Plus, Seattle mourns another cycling fatality along Second Avenue's deadly downtown corridor.

Orca whale emergency

According to an AP article repurposed in The Seattle Times over the weekend, Puget Sound's Southern Resident orca whale population declined again this year. The population total, 78 whales, is at its lowest level since 1985. Even more troubling than this new trough is the fact that the whales, one of the world's most social animals, have stopped traveling in pods, the family-like structures they have historically kept. What does this mean? Crosscut Managing Editor Berit Anderson will have more analysis later this afternoon. — B.A.

Microsoft's Xbox One takeover

Microsoft announced today that it is expanding Xbox One sales into 28 additional national markets, including China, Israel, Russia, India, Korea and large parts of Europe. The gaming platform was touted as the company's saving grace during its struggles to move beyond lackluster Ballmer-led Windows launches in the last few years.

The move is a clear sign that new CEO Satya Nadella plans to put his money where his mouth is. In a July memo outlining his plans for Microsoft's future, Nadella called gaming “The single biggest digital life category, measured in both time and money spent" and called attention to the assets gaming has brought too to other parts of Microsoft's portfolio. A Time article lists some of the other Microsoft products that have benefitted from XBox technologies: "core graphics, NUI in Windows, Skype speech recognition, Kinect for Windows camera tech, GPU-related Azure cloud improvements and so forth."  — B.A.

Steamy summer

It’s official: July and August 2014 were the warmest two months on record in the Seattle area. So says the National Weather Service, arbiter of all things meteorological. “It’s been a warm summer,” NWS meteorologist Gary Schneider confirmed for The Seattle Times. “We didn’t have any extreme heat waves, but it’s been consistently above 80 degrees.” And heat-o-philes rejoiced.

The average daily temp from the start of July through August this year (that would be 69.2 degrees) topped the previous high of 68.8 degrees set in 1967. The summer of 2014 didn’t break the record for average daily high temperature, but it got really close: The mercury crept up to 80.0 degrees this July-August, just off the record-setting 80.2 degrees in the slightly steamier summer of ’67. — M.B.

Young attorney killed in downtown bike accident

The dangerous Second Avenue corridor in downtown Seattle claimed another cyclist last Friday. Sher Kung, 31, an attorney with the Perkins Coie law firm, was struck by a truck and killed while riding her bike to work on Friday morning. (The Daily Troll was, at the time, on vacation.) Seattle police say the truck was making a left turn onto University from Second Ave. when it hit Kung.

As an associate with Perkins Coie, Kung specialized in intellectual property cases, but she is best known and admired for her pro bono work, representing a young immigrant, a victim of domestic violence and a same-sex couple seeking federal healthcare benefits, among others. In 2010, she was part of the ACLU trial team that successfully challenged the U.S. military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. In a tribute on its website, Perkins Coie called Kung “an exceptional lawyer whose commitment to pro bono service and the community were truly remarkable and will leave a lasting impression.” — M.B.

Union membership down, income inequality up

In honor of Labor Day, our friends at Vox decided to take look at the state of U.S. labor unions. The results aren't pretty, especially for union members and their supporters. Along with the drop in union membership and a growth in the number of right-to-work states (there are now 24) some economists are now positing a cause-effect link between America’s deunionization and the country's rising income inequality. The graph on the next page tracks union membership against the share of income going to the wealthiest Americans between 1918 and 2008. Researchers at Harvard and the UW estimated that "the decline of organized labor explains a fifth to a third of the growth in inequality" in hourly wages. — M.B.


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Comments:

Posted Tue, Sep 2, 5:13 p.m. Inappropriate

Or course Orca numbers are down. The federal government, Washington State and the tribes all heavily promote fishing on Chinook salmon, which are vital prey for Orcas. The Feds and state also preside over the ongoing destruction of habitat for these fish in fresh and saltwater. They and the user groups have thoroughly bought into the idea that a free lunch on the back of nature has no real consequences.

Mud Baby

Posted Wed, Sep 3, 8:18 a.m. Inappropriate

Mud: Orcas eat not only Chinook but Coho and other species of salmon, as well as seals and other critters. Salmon runs are actually doing quite well this year. But sure, it makes a convenient if illogical "progressive" argument.

Posted Wed, Sep 3, 9:06 a.m. Inappropriate

Northwest Fisheries Science Center says, "We have discovered that during the summer months when the whales are foraging in the Salish Sea, Chinook salmon make up a majority of their diet, roughly 80 percent."

http://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/research/divisions/cb/genetics/killer_whale.cfm

BlueLight

Posted Wed, Sep 3, 11:20 a.m. Inappropriate

A tragedy for all including the driver. But likewise a very predictible tragedy after SDOT and Metro closed Third Avenue to car traffic during rush hours, thereby forcing hundreds of office worker drivers down to Second Avenue, including those trying to head east, north and south. I am one of those office worker drivers but I make the choice to sit idling in a daily traffic jam outside of my office building in order to head east across Third Avenue rather than down to Second Avenue where the traffic planners would route us. With the amount of car traffic and with some bikers using the bike lanes and others weaving in and out of traffic and not stopping at red lights it is impossible to safely turn east off Second Avenue (as this unfortunate driver was trying to do). I've tried turning on my turn signal several feet in advance, slowing down and scanning traffic behind me but frequently a biker zooms up on my left as I'm starting to turn, often flipping me off in the process. A new bike lane on the east side of Second will make this even more unsafe. SDOT should just ban cars from Second altogether if it wants to build another bike lane.

Posted Sat, Sep 6, 2:14 p.m. Inappropriate

All you suckers contributing to crosscut - ain't it nice to get to read the hack Mary Bruno's rehashing of the Seattle Times? Happy to see how you're contributing to "journalistic excellence"?

CharlieE

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