Wednesday 2 Sep, 2015

Obama closing in on Iran nukes votes. A new, little-noticed challenge for The Donald. Hillary’s email problem: more than gefilte fish.

Hillary’s email problem: more than gefilte fish

at 7:03am by Mark Matassa


You could classify this whole email mess as mishandled. In the problem that keeps on giving, the State Department has released a first batch of 30,000 emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server, and already reporters have found “at least six” messages she wrote that contained what officials now say is classified information. The Washington Post has the story, along with a nifty page explaining the background of the controversy and including sample mail.

A new, little-noticed challenge for The Donald

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

bencarsonWhile bombastic outsider Donald Trump is scooping up headlines and airtime, quiet and poised outsider Ben Carson is catching him in some key polls. Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who (like Trump) has never held public office, is registering with voters, says The New York Times. A new national poll has Carson at second in the Republican field, and an Iowa poll shows him even with Trump in that state.

Obama closing in on Iran nukes votes

at 5:02am by Mark Matassa

With two more announcements of support on Tuesday, President Obama is now just one Senate vote shy of the 34 he needs to prevent Republican senators from killing his negotiated nuclear-arms agreement with Iran. The New York Times says the support now of Democratic Sens. Bob Casey and Chris Coons means the vote is “all but clinched.”

Tuesday 1 Sep, 2015

Trump the taxman? If you have a wall, who needs infrastructure? You're drinking coffee all wrong.

You’re drinking coffee all wrong

at 6:30am by Mark Matassa


Leave it to those crazy kids from “Portlandia” to school Northwesterners on how to consume the region’s favorite beverage. Reports The Oregonian, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein have tips on everything from ordering to consuming coffee – be serious and brief while ordering — as well as using your coffee cup to make a point in a coffee-house discussion.

If you have a wall, who needs infrastructure?

at 5:45am by Mark Matassa

In a short rant for The New Yorker, writer Andy Borowitz scoffs at the idea the nation would consider spending $5 billion for a wall along the Mexican border, when that same amount could catch us up on long-delayed infrastructure repairs, like structurally sound freeway overpasses.

Trump the taxman?

at 5:02am by Mark Matassa

Donald Trump / Credit: Wikimedia
Donald Trump / Credit: Wikimedia

As The New York Times puts it, Donald Trump has made so many provocative, headline-grabbing comments lately that they’ve helped obscure his belief in raising taxes in certain areas. For instance, he wants to put tariffs on companies that locate their factories in other countries, increase taxes on hedge fund managers, and make it harder for American companies to cut their taxes by using mergers to base operations outside the United States. These views, says the Times, are “jangling the nerves of some of the party’s most traditional supporters.”

Monday 31 Aug, 2015

'The Great One' gets its name back. He did not mistake the public's interest in the brain. Stone on the Mariners: Now what?

Stone on the Mariners: Now what?

at 7:02am by Mark Matassa

Hernandez_Felix1.jpgSeattle Times columnist Larry Stone, returning to the disaster that is the Seattle Mariners, ponders what to do in the wake of GM Jack Zduriencik, who was fired Friday. Stone is all for the dismissal, but also says that as miserable as this season has been, the Ms aren’t all that far away from contention in the next year or so. One of his ideas for consideration, blasphemously, is to trade King Felix.

Dynasty, Shmynasty

at 6:01am by Mark Matassa

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd sharpens her laser perceptiveness on both the Bush and Clinton dynasties, which, she says, totally screwed up their handling of that strange force known as The Donald. “It’s deeply weird,” Dowd writes, “but the jeering billionaire reality star seems authentic to many Americans. Trump is a manifestation of national disgust — with the money that consumed politics, with the dysfunctional, artificial status quo and with the turgid return to a Bush-Clinton race, with a less adept Bush and Clinton.”

He did not mistake the public’s interest in the brain

at 5:05am by Mark Matassa


Dr. Oliver Sacks, the neurologist and writer who captured his research and patients in best-selling books including “Awakenings” and “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat,” died Sunday at 82. In a fond appreciation, New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani says the qualities that made him such a brilliant writer “are the same qualities that made him an ideal doctor: keen powers of observation and a devotion to detail, deep reservoirs of sympathy, and an intuitive understanding of the fathomless mysteries of the human brain and the intricate connections between the body and the mind.”

‘The Great One’ gets its name back

at 5:01am by Mark Matassa

It never really made a lot of sense to call the nation’s largest mountain, in central Alaska, Mount McKinley. There was never a connection there between the mountain (or the state) and President William McKinley, who hailed from Ohio and for whom the mountain was named in 1896. And so, reports The New York Times, President Obama on the eve of his visit to Alaska announced Sunday that he was using executive power to change the name to its centuries-old native name, Denali. Alaskans, including Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, are pleased.

Friday 28 Aug, 2015

New Orleans, 10 years after Katrina. Washington's 'slow-motion disaster.' The kicker kicks.

Tacoma train collision

at 11:49am by David Kroman

Two trains have collided in Tacoma, spilling about 1,500 gallons of diesel fuel, reports the News Tribune. The two trains were both heading north, colliding when they merged onto the same track. Firefighters in HAZMAT suits were called to the scene around 11 AM.

Drone-B-Gone: Boeing working on anti-drone laser cannon

at 10:19am by Jacob Nierenberg

In the past few months, civilian drones have been responsible for a number of confusing incidents, namely freaking out the White House and delaying firefighter response to wildfires. Fortunately for mankind, Boeing is in the testing stages of an anti-drone laser cannon, Wired reports. The machine effectively works like a magnifying glass, burning a hole in the infernal flying things and bringing them down—either mostly intact or in a ball of flame, depending on what the operator thinks the drone is up to. Yes, it’s as cool as it sounds, and you can watch with devilish glee here, courtesy of Boeing.

Nowhere to hide for public employees

at 10:15am by David Kroman

The Washington State Supreme Court unanimously ruled Thursday that public employees’ private phone calls are open to disclosure requests. In what open government advocates call a precedent setting ruling, all voicemails and text messages relating to public business are now considered public record. In a statement following the ruling, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said, “I’m pleased to see this ruling agreed with my office’s common-sense interpretation of the [Freedom of Information] Act in our friend-of-the-court brief.”

Ms fire GM Jack Z

at 9:24am by Mark Matassa

Credit: Wikipedia
Credit: Wikipedia

With the team’s hopes for a winning season now almost completely dashed, the Seattle Mariners this morning fired the general manager, Jack Zduriencik, according to Mariners.com. During his seven seasons with the team, the GM has failed to get the Mariners into the playoffs, and the team has had only two winning seasons during his tenure. Jeff Kingston, the assistant general manager, will take over for the rest of 2015. “We have reached the point when change of leadership of our baseball operations is needed for the Seattle Mariners to reach our goal of winning championships,” team president Kevin Mather said in a news release.

Washington’s ‘slow-motion disaster’

at 7:00am by Mark Matassa

Credit: WA National Guard
Credit: WA National Guard

The state’s wildfires keep getting worse, with the Okanogan complex fires growing Thursday to 450 square miles, reports The Seattle Times. The U.S. Forest Service closed a large section of forestland north of Highway 2 and east of the Cascade crest, says the Times. And Gov. Jay Inslee, who visited the area Thursday, called it “a statewide, slow-motion disaster.”

The kicker kicks

at 6:30am by Mark Matassa

In Oregon, an unusual tax and budget law – nicknamed “the kicker” – will kick into play, providing taxpayers a rebate. The rebate is triggered any time state tax revenue exceeds predictions by 2 percent or more. This is ninth time since the law was created in 1979 that the kicker will take effect, says The Oregonian. It hasn’t been determined yet how much individual taxpayers will receive.

Is Hillary inviting a Biden run?

at 5:29am by Mark Matassa

At this point even Democratic Party leaders are getting frustrated with Hillary Clinton’s handling of her email controversy. A New York Times report says governors, lawmakers, candidates and party members are bothered that Clinton let the story gather steam, and they worry that it jeopardizes her trustworthiness with voters. Her performance is all but begging Joe Biden to jump in the race, some say.

New Orleans, 10 years after Katrina

at 5:02am by Mark Matassa

Saturday is the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans. There have been many changes, including some for the good, but by no means is New Orleans the same as it was before the storm. Some areas have recovered, at least physically, but a large measure of loss and heartbreak still permeates the city. The New York Times offers a nice video with the memories and views of people who lived through it. And The New Orleans Times-Picayune, through its website NOLA.com, has a terrific package of coverage, including a stunning time-lapse graphic of how New Orleans flooded, and a moving then-and-now photo gallery of the destruction and partial recovery. Both are worth checking out.

Thursday 27 Aug, 2015

Without China, the world's economy gets the jitters. Run, Joe, run! Bertha's insurers don't want to pay for repairs.

Seattle Children’s reports breach of sterilization protocol

at 3:22pm by Jacob Nierenberg

There’s small, but still disconcerting, chance that Seattle Children’s may have accidentally exposed some of its patients to diseases due to improperly sterilized instruments. KING5 and CBS both report that the Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center has begun an investigation into the procedures for cleaning and sterilizing surgical equipment after small amounts of debris were found, potentially putting patients at risk for hepatitis B and C, or HIV. The clinic, which opened five years ago, did not say when the issue came to its attention, but it is offering free blood tests to all of the 12,000 patients treated at that location.

Murray to meet with hookah lounge owners; ACLU asks for delay

at 1:04pm by Jacob Nierenberg

Mayor Ed Murray’s crackdown on hookah lounges is possibly being reconsidered. PubliCola reported that Murray’s administration would be meeting with the owners of Seattle’s 11 hookah lounges Thursday or Friday in order to work out what changes the clubs could make in order to come into compliance with the law. “Compliance,” according to a spokesperson for the mayor, could include transitioning from a public to a private establishment or phasing out tobacco in favor of steam stones. No word on how taking the tobacco out of hookah lounges will reduce their supposed violence.

Thursday afternoon, members of the ACLU sent a letter to Murray urging him to delay enacting the hookah lounge ban. “Punishing business owners for the criminal actions of people outside of their establishments is unfair and ineffective,” reads the letter. The organization’s call for a delay echoes that of Councilmember Nick Licata who recently circulated a petition asking for a 60 day moratorium on shutting down hookah lounges.

Bertha’s insurers don’t want to pay for repairs

at 7:01am by Mark Matassa

The photo shows the main bearing for Bertha encircled by the gear ring that facilitates rotation of the cutterhead.
The photo shows the main bearing for Bertha encircled by the gear ring that facilitates rotation of the cutterhead.

What is the meaning of insurance, you may ask. When Seattle approved the enormous project to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a new tunnel running under downtown, the idea came with a degree of assurance. Even if the tunnel – the largest ever, anywhere – went over its substantial budget, the project was insured so there was no chance the city or state would be on the hook for more money. Now comes The Settle Times’ excellent transportation reporter Mike Lindblom with news that the insurers are suing to avoid paying $143 million in Bertha repairs.

“The insurance team, citing its investigation by Berlin-based Maidl Tunnelconsultants, claims that the world’s largest drill was ‘under dimensioned’ to churn a 5-story-high flow of moist Seattle dirt,” Lindblom writes. “‘The original structural analysis lacked consideration of axial loads and considered incorrect overburden [worthless soil] and water level,’ Maidl found.”

Run, Joe, run

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

Bloomberg News columnist Albert Hunt, stirring the pot, encourages Joe Biden to run for president and immediately name as his running mate Elizabeth Warren. That would freak out Hillary Clinton, Hunt says, and add some new energy to the Democratic race.

Without going so far as picking a running mate for him, the Washington Post ponders what would happen if Biden jumps into the race, as sources increasingly predict will happen. He’d have to raise a lot of money to give Clinton a serious run, the story says, but the very prospect of a Biden candidacy has a large number of President Obama’s fundraisers salivating. Obama himself is trying to stay out of it.

In Seattle, Rand Paul lets both parties have it

at 5:30am by Mark Matassa

Sen. Rand Paul
Sen. Rand Paul

The Republican presidential candidate, speaking Wednesday at Town Hall in Seattle, said an “unholy alliance” between leaders of both political parties has resulted in out-of-control military and domestic spending, according to a Seattle Times report. “Washington is horribly broken and you ask yourself whose fault is it. Well let’s see, Republicans, Democrats — let’s just say everybody in Washington ought to come home and we ought to start over,” Paul said. He probably didn’t mean himself.

Without China, the world’s economy gets the jitters

at 5:01am by Mark Matassa

As China’s economy continues to slide, the impacts are felt globally, says The New York Times. In a smart analysis with a nifty chart showing China’s business dealings around the world, the Times says the United States and other countries are trying to recalibrate. “Even as markets show signs of stabilizing, the resulting shock waves could be lasting, by exposing a new reality that China is no longer a sure bet.”

Wednesday 26 Aug, 2015

We're No. 7! 'Go back to Univision.' Berning it up. Now that's a tasty interview.

Interbay homeless encampment is contaminated, neighbors say

at 4:18pm by Jacob Nierenberg

Ballard’s proposed homeless encampment has proven to be quite controversial, and it doesn’t appear that it will be alone in this respect. Earlier today, the Interbay Neighborhood Association (INA) sent a letter to Mayor Ed Murray regarding what they claim to be contamination at the site where the Interbay homeless encampment is supposed to be. In the letter, the INA cited City Light officials as having said that the site tested positive for trichloroethylene—a carcinogen—10 years ago, and wonders if “this potential contamination presents a significant health threat to the very residents [the] encampment intends to serve,” as well as to local residents and businesses. The letter requests that the city delay the encampment until an independent agency tests the area, or face legal challenge from the INA. Read the whole letter here.

St. Edward Seminary falling into disrepair, could become a lodge

at 3:49pm by Jacob Nierenberg

Kenmore’s St. Edward Seminary was active for 46 years, from 1930 to 1976. Unfortunately, it’s spent about as much time since in a state of disrepair, and attempts to preserve the building are underfunded. Both The Seattle Times and KING5 report, however, that a new idea for a solution may be on the way. Kevin Daniels, area developer and founder of Daniels Real Estate, wants to take over the building and renovate it as a lodge. The state Parks Commission had hoped to decide what to do with the building by next week but it may allow Daniels a year to work out a plan.

Saint Edward Seminary in the Saint Edward State Park.
Saint Edward Seminary in the Saint Edward State Park.

A Black Lives Matter textbook? Yep, it’s on its way

at 3:44pm by Jacob Nierenberg

Black Lives Matter has been with us for at least two years now—beginning as a hashtag following George Zimmerman’s acquittal, and breaking into the mainstream following the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. And it appears that the movement will get a new educational opportunity soon. MyNorthwest reports that the first edition of a comprehensive Black Lives Matter textbook will be ready for shipping in January for social studies teachers who wish to utilize it. (It even meets national Common Core standards.) The textbook, which can fit middle school or high school curriculums, is being published by Abdo Publishing, which is also working on textbooks about issues such as transgender rights and vaccine controversies. The textbook’s authors hope that, in a year that has seen continued misunderstanding of the Black Lives Matter movement as well as a conservative-approved new AP U.S. History curriculum, their work will allow students to understand and discuss current events that aren’t typically discussed in a classroom environment.

The show can't go on if there's bad smoke in the air

at 3:26pm by Amelia Havanec

In true wildfire season, smoke looms in the Pacific Northwest and brings with it small particulate matter that can irritate the lungs. So, understandably, directors running shows in the outdoor Oregon Shakespeare Festival are concerned for the health of their staff, notably the musicians and singers who belt out tunes from their diaphragms. At least six shows have been cancelled so far this summer — a costly decision running upwards of $65,000 if a performance is sold out. But it’s also the ticket sales that have managers worried. Summer tourism to the area may be slowing, stemming from concerns of the big bad smoke.

Metro hiring new bus drivers

at 3:24pm by Jacob Nierenberg

Last year, Seattle voted to pass Proposition 1, which called for the expansion of the Metro bus lines. To accommodate for the increased service, Metro needs to hire 460 new part-time bus drivers by March, KING5 reports. Of the 460, Metro currently has 180 new drivers ready to go. (Interested? Check out the pay, benefits, and requirements here.) The job pays $21.81 per hour, comes with medical, dental and vision benefits, and lets you take the weekend off—but you must be 21 or older, able to speak and write in English, and, of course, be a good driver.

Bellevue High School's troubles

at 3:23pm by Jacob Nierenberg

If you’ve been reading The Seattle Times lately, you’re probably aware of what’s been going down with the Bellevue High School Wolverines. If not, here’s a brief recap: Outside of BHS’s boundaries lies a private school named The Academic Institute, Inc. It’s a small, exclusive school, charging $1,750 per month to its clientele of 40 students, and in the last seven years, at least 17 of the BHS’s football players have come from this school. While this in and of itself isn’t in violation of anything—private school students are indeed allowed to play on public school sports teams in the same school district—where BHS runs afoul is that The Academic Institute, Inc. doesn’t seem to be taking its educational requirements as seriously as BHS usually does. In short, BHS may be effectively using The Academic Institute, Inc. as a talent farm, or—to use the words of two former teachers—a “diploma mill.” Since 2000, the Wolverines have won 11 state championships.

Now that’s a tasty interview

at 6:52am by Mark Matassa

Credit: Wikipedia
Credit: Wikipedia

In what may have been envisioned as a promotion for his upcoming movie, “The Hateful Eight,” the iconic indie film director Quentin Tarantino sits down for a Q&A with Vulture.com and spills some interesting insights about his work and his changing objectives. He also offers his take on President Obama: “I think he’s fantastic. He’s my favorite president, hands down, of my lifetime.” Good interview.

Berning it up

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

Sanders at Drake University in Des Moines. Credit: John Pemble (via Flickr)
Sanders at Drake University in Des Moines. Credit: John Pemble (via Flickr)

The New Yorker takes a good look at Democrat Bernie Sanders’ unanticipated popularity with young people, concluding his decades of consistency, and his image of honesty and plain-spokenness are the big appeals. “Hillary Clinton, an establishment figure whose very breath seems mediated by design and process, is curiously at odds with this moment in liberal life,” the story says.

‘Go back to Univision’

at 5:26am by Mark Matassa

Say what you will about Donald Trump, he has a knack for keeping his name in the news. At a news conference before an appearance in Iowa on Tuesday, The Donald refused to recognize Univision anchor and reporter Jorge Ramos, repeatedly telling him to sit down and then adding, “Go back to Univision!” Ramos was then escorted out of the room.

We’re Number 7!

at 5:01am by Mark Matassa

Photo courtesy WSDOT
The Highway 520 floating bridge

Traffic’s getting worse across the nation, and Seattle is more than keeping pace, finishing in seventh place in a ranking of cities with the worst congestion. An Associated Press story in The Seattle Times says Americans experienced 6.9 billion hours of traffic delays in 2014, compared with 6.6 billion hours in 2007 and 1.8 billion hours in 1982. The worst 10, top to bottom: Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; New York; San Jose; Boston; Seattle; Chicago; Houston; and Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.

Tuesday 25 Aug, 2015

Bell about to ring on Seattle teachers contract. A little relief, maybe, for roiling stock markets. Banksy's 'Dismaland' in England.

Biggest fire, good responses

at 2:45pm by Joe Copeland

After growing overnight, the Okanogan Complex fire is the largest in state history, marking the second straight year of a record fire. Q 13 Fox notes that Australian firefighters, who often face challenges similar challenges on a half-year different cycle, are arriving. The News Tribune’s Larry LaRue provides a nice look at Lucky Dog Outfitters pet store owner Jennifer Blankers, who is organizing donations of goods needed by firefighters and animal owners in the fire zone. The Herald in Everett has a wide-ranging list of ways to help people displaced by the fires.

Prime-ing your party: Here comes the booze

at 2:14pm by Joe Copeland

GeekWire has done its due diligence in checking out Amazon’s launch this morning of Prime Now service in Seattle, the tenth city to get the one-hour promise of delivery of tens of thousands of products. Since the goods that are eligible for Prime Now include alcoholic drinks, GeekWire put in an order that included vodka, tequila, beer and chips. Everything arrived in 34 minutes. Which means they could have added in the frozen ice cream Amazon also delivers during the Prime Now hours of 8 a.m. to midnight.

Patty Murray backs Iran deal

at 1:16pm by Joe Copeland

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray says she is supporting the Iran nuclear deal as the best way to prevent its development of nuclear weapons. The Christian Science Monitor sees her support as a sign of growing momentum for President Barack Obama’s deal in the Senate.

Murray said, “I support this deal not because I trust Iran, but because I don’t trust Iran. I support this deal because I believe it puts us in a better and stronger position to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons now and in the future—even if they continue down their current extreme path, and even if they get worse. This deal gives us more tools to respond – not less, and it keeps the international community behind us in that effort.” Her full statement is here.

Banksy’s ‘Dismaland’

at 6:23am by Mark Matassa

Credit: NPR
Credit: NPR

In a satiric and dark take on Disneyland, the artist Banksy has created a ‘Dismaland’ installation on the southwest coast of England. The New York Times describes the theme park as featuring “grumpy guards, funereal theme park games and art by about 60 artists,” including Banksy. NPR notes “an abandoned castle looming above a scummy moat; a dead Cinderella hanging limply from her crashed pumpkin carriage; a grim reaper hunched over in a bumper car,” among other highlights. The exhibit went up last week without much notice, but reportedly is selling out the 4,000 available tickets a day.

A little relief, maybe, for roiling stock markets

at 5:30am by Mark Matassa

China’s stock meltdown has affected markets worldwide – nearly $3 trillion in stock value has been lost in three days – but The New York Times sees glimmers of relief coming. Stocks are still declining in China, but the Euro rebounded a bit on Monday and analysts believe the U.S. market would open a bit higher today.

Bell about to ring on Seattle teachers contract

at 5:01am by Mark Matassa

Two weeks now before school starts, Seattle teachers are still without a contract, but negotiations with the school district will resume today. The teachers union announced Sunday that the nearly $40 million in state money allocated to Seattle schools should go to “kids and classrooms.” Superintendent Larry Nyland told the Seattle Times the district and the union “remain far apart” on several issues. The current contract expires Monday.

Monday 24 Aug, 2015

Where there's smoke there's fire. The (terrorized) European Union. What's the official car of Seattle?

Don’t yak, but hot buttered coffee may be coming to Seattle

at 1:33pm by Jacob Nierenberg

Starbucks and Tully’s might have some new caffeinated competition, and surprisingly, it isn’t Dutch Bros., an Oregon favorite. A MyNorthwest piece writes that Bellevue-based Bulletproof Coffee had just secured $9 million from Trinity Ventures, with hopes of finally opening a brick-and-mortar store in Seattle. (The company’s first, and so far only, shop was opened in Los Angeles this year.) Bulletproof was founded in 2009, years after founder Dave Asprey had an epiphany with a cup of butter tea on a Tibetan adventure; Asprey worked this into his recipe, which blends mold-free coffee beans with grass-fed butter and “brain octane oil,” and claims that the drink helps with both brain function and weight loss. New biohack, or just a fad diet? Regardless, Bulletproof hopes to set up shop in the Pacific Northwest soon.

Over 875k acres on fire across Washington

at 1:30pm by Jacob Nierenberg

By now you have heard about—maybe even seen or smelled—the wildfire crisis in Washington. Of particular concern is the Okanogan County blaze, which began about a week and a half ago and has since grown to become the largest wildfire in Washington state history. Due to a change in the winds, an enormous cloud of smoke has blown across the state, clouding the skies as far away as Portland. A KUOW report last Friday estimated that over 875,000 acres were burning across the state, with more than 9,200 firefighters trying to stop the conflagration. In response to the fires, President Obama has declared a state of emergency and authorized FEMA relief efforts, which Governor Jay Inslee says will include emergency power generation and trauma counseling.

Bertha-lift, part 2

at 9:11am by David Kroman

The repairs on the front end of the tunnel boring machine Bertha have been made. Starting this morning, crews will lower the 2,000-ton cutterhead — the rotating piece that leads the way for the massive machine — back into the tunnel’s access pit. This will be a reverse operation of the lift that excavated the broken piece back in March.

Due to the weight and sensitivity of the operation, the lift could take 14 hours or more. Crane operator Mammoet built an enormous gantry crane, which straddles the access pit, specifically for Bertha. Once the front end is squarely inside the pit, crews will spend the next month reassembling the machine. October and November will be dedicated to testing Bertha before digging is scheduled to resume around Thanksgiving.

Angry punctuation

at 7:30am by Mark Matassa

Or, as The New Republic puts it, “The period is pissed.” In a trend unnoticed by many, the magazine says that in text messages the lowly, simple period is shifting from a natural way to end a sentence to a declaration of anger. The author even found linguistics experts to agree. Conclusion: Better to use a line break than a period. The question mark, apparently, is still OK

Who knows?

What’s the official car of Seattle?

at 6:24am by Mark Matassa

Credit: Subaru
Credit: Subaru

If you’ve been driving around or even just paying attention on the streets these past couple of decades, you know that no car is more popular here than the Subaru. But in another sign that this little town is going upscale, luxury cars are gaining on those Outbacks and Forresters. The Seattle Times’ FYI Guy, Gene Balk, says he was intrigued by a colleague’s observations and did some reporting. Turns out that Subarus still rule, with about 34,900 registered in Seattle. But not far behind is the (combined) count of 33,800 cars made by Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus.

The (terrorized) European Union

at 5:30am by Mark Matassa

Following up on that story of three Americans preventing a terrorist attack on Friday, The New York Times reports that the threat of such attacks is vexing Europe. Governments are trying to find the line between protecting their citizens and digging further into their privacy to prevent terrorism. “The sheer number of militant suspects combined with a widening field of potential targets have presented European officials with what they concede is a nearly insurmountable surveillance task,” the Times reports.

Where there’s smoke there’s fire …

at 5:01am by Mark Matassa

The Chiwaukum fire burned more than 14,000 acres near Leavenworth and Entiat last year.
The Chiwaukum fire burned more than 14,000 acres near Leavenworth and Entiat last year.

A couple hundred miles away or so. The Puget Sound has been socked in by smoke from wildfires east of the Cascades the past few days. In some areas of the region, in fact, the air quality was rated unhealthy. A Seattle Times report says shifting weather conditions should begin clearing out the smoke this morning.

Friday 21 Aug, 2015

Court rules for higher minimum wage at airport. Jimmy Carter facing poor cancer prognosis. A Fresh Prince for the 21st century.

ACLU: Don't just weep at your desk

at 1:39pm by Joe Copeland

The American Civil Liberties Union is using ads to tell Amazon workers that it will consider representing them in cases where the employees believe the tech giant penalized them for having children or caring for a sick family member. Amazon spokespeople declined to give the Seattle Times any comment, but noted that CEO Jeff Bezos has emailed all workers saying that they should direct any concerns to him directly or to HR. Now, there’s another option.

18 Senate Republicans: Are you up for a fight with the court?

at 1:18pm by Joe Copeland

Using strident language about a constitutional crises and a threat to the state Legislature, most Republican state senators (and one nominal Democrat who is part of their caucus) have sent a letter asking the leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate Democrats to discuss “a proportional response” to the state Supreme Court’s fines for failure to meet the McCleary decision’s mandates for better schools. Engage in a constitutional showdown with the court? That seems to be the gist. But, even with Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler’s signature, it’s hard to know if the letter is anything more than letting off steam.  Seven moderate members of the Republican caucus didn’t sign. John Stang has a full report here.

Seawall over budget and delayed

at 8:29am by David Kroman

The seawall replacement, viewed as Seattle’s successful waterfront project, will be one year late and more than $100 million over its original budget, reports King 5. With language we’ve heard for years about the tunnel, Seattle Department of Transportation Director Scott Kubly told King 5 that the conditions along the waterfront were more challenging than expected. Managing the wet and contaminated soil has been less efficient than expected.

Mayor Ed Murray’s office issued a statement this morning detailing how the city plans to cover the cost overruns, including a Real Estate Excise Tax and bonding against commercial parking taxes. He promised no new taxes. How this unexpected budget issue will effect some of Seattle’s other big ticket items, like the $930 million Move Seattle levy, remains to be seen.

A Fresh Prince for the 21st Century

at 7:00am by Mark Matassa

The Washington Post reports Will Smith is planning a revival of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” the show that made him a star and predicted the shifting fates of inner-city black Americans moving to the suburbs. The new version, says the Post, would have new characters but share the themes about race and class. But what about the theme song?

In another victory for potheads …

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

The Oregon appeals court ruled that the smell of marijuana is not legally offensive, throwing out the conviction of a man whose home was searched because of the pot odor drifting out of it, according to The Oregonian. “We are not prepared to declare that the odor of marijuana smoke is equivalent to the odor of garbage. Indeed, some people undoubtedly find the scent pleasing,” the appeals court wrote.

Meanwhile, in Washington, a study has found that weed increasingly is a factor in car crashes, says The Seattle Times. The number of fatal accidents involving drivers with THC in their systems increased from 38 in 2013 to 75 in 2014. So: Don’t drink while driving, don’t text while driving, don’t toke while driving.

Jimmy Carter facing poor cancer prognosis

at 5:28am by Mark Matassa


The former president, who (whatever you think of his politics) was always a cool customer, announced Thursday that his melanoma cancer has spread from his liver to his brain and that aggressive treatment will begin immediately. But he also said, crediting his religious faith, “I’m perfectly at ease with whatever comes.” The New York Times has a complete report.

Court rules for higher minimum wage at airport

at 5:01am by Mark Matassa

Sea-Tac Airport
Sea-Tac Airport

The $15-an-hour minimum wage passed by SeaTac voters two years ago will apply to airport workers, the state Supreme Court ruled, ending a standoff between employees and companies including Alaska Airlines and the Washington Restaurant Association. The decision affects about 4,700 workers at the airport, says The Seattle Times. At issue was whether the airport, which is owned and operated by the Port of Seattle, is subject to SeaTac laws.

Thursday 20 Aug, 2015

Oh snap! Hillary talks with Black Lives Matter. It's getting worse on the fire lines. Trump's tweets, set to music.

Former Southern governor thinks he knows what MLK would say

at 3:22pm by Jacob Nierenberg

Not content merely to invoke Holocaust rhetoric and effectively condemn a young girl, Mike Huckabee has made a new bid for attention in the crowded Republican primary. Politico reports that Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, continued to hoist the “All Lives Matter” rag, claiming that Martin Luther King, Jr. would be “appalled by the notion that we’re elevating some lives above others.” Perhaps he completely misses all the tragic reality behind Black Lives Matter; perhaps he’s trying to beat Donald Trump in a race to the bottom of the GOP trainwreck. But maybe Huckabee could take a page from The Simpsons and just yell at clouds?

Support for injured firefighter

at 10:20am by Joe Copeland

A firefighter badly burned in the North Central Washington wildfires remains in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center, where he was brought Wednesday. A spokesperson for Harborview said notes of support for the firefighter can be emailed from here (for the patient name, enter “Twisp firefighter).

Victory for workers at Sea-Tac

at 9:57am by Joe Copeland

The Washington state Supreme Court has — narrowly — ruled that the city of SeaTac’s voter-approved $15 minimum wage law applies to workers at Sea-Tac International Airport. A coalition supporting the workers hailed the ruling, saying it will lift the wages of 4,700 workers. The ruling is here.

Trump’s tweets, set to music

at 7:32am by Mark Matassa

Josh Groban, having some fun with the presidential candidate, appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to sing Donald Trump’s greatest tweets. Pretty good.

Get ready for ‘little pink pill’ ads

at 6:54am by Mark Matassa

Credit: AP, via NPR
Credit: AP, via NPR

The FDA this week approved a libido pill for women that, despite the inviting comparisons to Viagra, is really a different thing. Unlike the little blue pill for men, which treats erectile dysfunction, the new Addyi is described by The New York Times as the first drug approved to treat a flagging libido for either gender. In the future will anyone do it the old-fashioned way, with cocktails instead of pills?

 

20 miles apart, a harsh Bush-Trump debate

at 6:23am by Mark Matassa

By some coincidence (OK, probably not), both candidates had campaign events in New Hampshire Wednesday night. The New York Times describes Jeb Bush’s appearance as a serious policy statement to a small crowd of supporters. A short drive away, Donald Trump was wowing an overflow crowd with an Aerosmith soundtrack and red-meat challenges. “Jeb Bush is a low-energy person,” he said. “For him to get things done is very hard.” Mr. Trump also said he doubted Mr. Bush could win. “I don’t see how he’s electable.”

It’s getting worse on the fire lines

at 5:51am by Mark Matassa

The big wildfire near Twisp in Eastern Washington has now claimed the lives of three firefighters and injured four more, according to a Seattle Times report. “Driven by high winds, the blaze exploded and shot tendrils in all directions across parched terrain,” says the Times. About 4,000 households have been evacuated.

Oh snap! Hillary talks with Black Lives Matter

at 5:01am by Mark Matassa

Unlike the interruption of Bernie Sanders’ appearance in Seattle recently, Hillary Clinton managed to keep Black Lives Matter activists in an “overflow room” during her Boston event … and then go talk frankly with them afterward. In The New York Times’ description, activist Julian Jones demanded, “at great length, that Mrs. Clinton acknowledge her culpability for supporting criminal justice policies put in place by her husband’s administration that wound up harming black Americans.” Clinton listened politely and then responded, calmly and respectfully, with her cred on racial issues.

“You can get lip service from as many white people you can pack into Yankee Stadium and a million more like it who are going to say: ‘We get it, we get it. We are going to be nicer,’ ” she said. “That’s not enough, at least in my book.” The trick, she said, is moving from activism into politics and policy.

 

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