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.
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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