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Monday 23 Mar, 2015

A leader in dreariness. Coffee with Congressman Jim. Pickets at Gates Foundation. Gonzaga doubles down.

So long, sunny winter: Seattle named nation's dreariest city

at 6:00pm by Alyssa Campbell

Credit: Näystin

According to a recent study, Seattle tops the nation’s Dreariness Index — a composite measure of total annual precipitation, days per year with precipitation, and average annual cloud coverage. Places across the US were ranked on a scale of 3 to 30 – with 30 being the most dreary.

Seattle had a score of 27, tied with Buffalo, New York. What exactly makes Seattle so dreary? It is not so much the rain as the large number of overcast days that persist through every season. Yet, a reality check is needed – you would be hard pressed to find any other ranking where Buffalo and Seattle share a spot. While Seattle may be gloomy in terms of weather, it is far more vibrant economically and culturally than its northeastern counterpart.

Local artist turns trash into treasure

at 5:00pm by Alyssa Campbell

Credit: Isobelle Ouzman

 

When local artist Isobelle Ouzman finds discarded books around Seattle, she doesn’t miss an opportunity to bring them second life through her Altered Books series. Using a mix of techniques and materials — including water colors, glue, and pens — Ouzman renders new visual works of art through carving out concentric designs (mentioned on the Laughing Squid blog) from the old pages of forgotten books.

Coffee with Congressman Jim McDermott

at 4:18pm by Cody Olsen

Jim McDermott.
U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle.

Saturday morning Congressman Jim McDermott met with more than 40 constituents at Bustle Caffe, an event aptly named “Coffee with your Congressman.”

The representative of Washington’s 7th Congressional District described it as a “no agenda” meeting to hear from his constituents and tell a bit about the goings-on in Congress. McDermott had just returned from visiting refugee camps in Turkey, where many Syrians displaced from the ongoing civil war reside. He said he came back sad, because the situation has “no good answer” for what the United States should do.

On the Middle East, McDermott noted that Obama is seeking another Authorization for the Use of Military Force, a document originally drafted in the days after 9/11 giving then-President George W. Bush the authority to combat a stateless extremist group like Al-Qaeda. However, since the United States is now targeting a different extremist group, the self-proclaimed Islamic State, the president’s continued use of the 2001 authorization has come under scrutiny. McDermott says another authorization should be passed, arguing that without one, President Obama has “no authorization” to engage in military operations against the Islamic State.

On domestic issues, McDermott mused, “Are we ever gonna raise taxes or cut loopholes?” McDermott expressed frustration at what he sees as the country’s squeamishness toward any taxes, eliciting some encouraging nods from the crowd: “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax that guy behind the tree.”

Within Congress, McDermott suggested, the key element to pretty much all aspects of life, compromise, has been sorely missing for the last six years. He spoke about the dynamic in the Republican party, especially the House where there’s an ideological rift between John Boehner, the centrist Republicans and the Tea Party flank of the party. “I’ve been doing this  a long time, and I don’t know when people are gonna vote those …. people out.” McDermott said of the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, eliciting laughter from the crowd as he forced himself to use a kinder word than he maybe would have liked. “I stopped myself from being myself.” He said. To which one of the audience members yelled, “You’re among friends!”

After speaking for about 30 minutes he fielded questions from the audience, including one about the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement on trade with 11 other Pacific Rim nations. McDermott said, “I disagree with the President on TPA. There’s just not a lot of good stuff in there for us.”

McDermott highlighted foreign aid as a place where Republicans and Democrats can come to together, saying he’s a firm believer in foreign aid as a means of diplomacy. “American foreign policy has become driven by military strength,” McDermott said, raising his fit in mock-bravado. “You’ll do what I want ’cause I have the most powerful military in the world.”

Extended stay in Space

at 4:03pm by Cody Olsen

Seattlepi.com reports Astronaut Scott Kelly launches into space Friday, as part of a prolonged mission that NASA scientists hope will let them study some of the adverse effects long-term space travel has on the human body. He will be in space for nearly a year.

Seattle has 5th largest LGBT community in the nation

at 3:30pm by Alyssa Campbell

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Credit: Joel Bradshaw

 

According to a recent survey by the Gallup Organization that Richard Florida analyzes for CityLab, Seattle has the fifth highest percentage of LGBT population among the nation’s largest metro areas, at 4.8 percent. This number comes after Gallup conducted more than 370,000 interviews across the country asking respondents “Do you, personally, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender?”

What cities beat out Seattle for having a higher proportion of LGBT residents? San Francisco tops the list, followed by Portland, Austin and New Orleans. Interestingly, Salt Lake City also ranks in the top 10 as a regional LGBT center.

New thinking about alcohol dependency

at 12:30pm by Cody Olsen

Most Americans tend to look at alcohol dependence in terms of two distinct groups, alcoholics and everyone else. But, as NPR reports, that thinking is changing among psychiatrists and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The emerging view is that alcohol dependency is more of a spectrum, with varying degrees of severity and risk, rather than those who have the disease and those who do not. A new study from the CDC finds that many Americans who drink more than one or two alcoholic drinks a day are not necessarily alcoholics, as they do not report typical symptoms of dependence. Another CDC study finds that these types of heavy drinkers are capable of cutting back without drastic intervention.

With this new thinking comes more options than the nearly monopolistic Alcoholics Anonymous. For those worried about their drinking but who feel AA isn’t the right fit, NPR notes, other groups like Moderation Management may be an option.

Microsoft's shortcomings in a chart

at 11:04am by Cody Olsen

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To a mere mortal this chart might look like one giant mess, a fury of circles and lines, signifying nothing. But to Chris Capossela, Microsoft’s top marketing executive, it’s a quick visual indicator of how Microsoft is doing compared to Google and Apple. The answer, reports GeekWire, is decidedly mixed.

“[The chart] shows you that we’ve got a lot of big businesses at Microsoft,” Capossela told an audience at the Microsoft Convergence Conference in Atlanta last week. “Windows is big, IE is big, Office is big, etcetera. But it also shows you that we don’t have nearly the connectivity between our products that Google has engineered and that Apple has engineered.”

 

 

 

John Oliver: “How the bleep is it possible for a grandmother to go to jail for traffic tickets?”

at 10:00am by Mary Bruno

John Oliver couldn’t keep quiet in the wake of revelations that officials in Ferguson, Missouri were balancing the municipal budget by fining black residents. In Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, host Oliver explains — and rages against — how committing a minor municipal violation (like not paying a parking ticket) can spiral out of control, leading to fines, penalties, and eventually jail. “Most tickets come with a fine,” says Oliver, “and if you’ve ever lived paycheck to paycheck you know that can be difficult.” In fact, it can ruin your life. Also noted: failure to vaccinate your ferret can get you in really big trouble with the law.

For more of Crosscut’s take on John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, check out Rustin Thompson’s latest Viral Video piece.

"War on coal" hits Supreme Court

at 9:58am by Mary Bruno

“The name of the law at issue before the Supreme Court on Wednesday is the Clean Air Act. It is not the Coal Industry Protection Act, despite what that industry’s advocates seem to want the justices to believe,” writes The New York Times editorial board today. The Environmental Protection Agency wants industry (mostly coal-fired power plants) to emit fewer toxic pollutants — like mercury, a documented danger to the developing brain and nervous system. Industry backers like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell call the regs costly and unnecessary.

Clean Air Act opponents, argues The Times, “view every regulation, whether aimed at protecting human lives or the future of the planet, as nothing more than a war on coal. But profits and human health are not mutually exclusive.” Why is that so hard to agree on?

Amazon vs. Expedia: hotel booking wars?

at 9:11am by Mary Bruno

Travel site Skift has noticed that a few indie hotels are now offering up rooms at regular rates through Amazon Local. This development, says Skift, “is a big departure from the steeply discounted, distressed inventory that has been the mainstay of Amazon Local over the past couple of years.” What doth this move portend? Amazon is angling to attract hotels “on an ongoing basis,” writes Skift, “and not just when they have rooms to sell at 40 percent or 52 percent cheaper than published rates.”

Participating properties include Gleneden, Oregon’s Salishan Spa & Golf Resort and the Ocean Place Spa & Resort in Long Branch, New Jersey. Okay, not exactly the Hilton chain. But everybody has to start somewhere.

Expedia, beware!

REI reports big jump in 2014 sales

at 7:23am by Mary Bruno

If 2014 is any indication, the recession may be over for the Kent-based outdoor retailer. The Seattle Times says REI’s $2.2 billion in sales last year represents the biggest annual jump (9.9 percent) since 2010. Credit a rise in membership, healthy demand for REI-run trips and classes and the fact that a whole lotta tents, kayaks and other outdoor paraphernalia went flying out the door.

Ted Cruz wants to be in White House. Is Obama thinking of Oahu?

at 6:45am by Joe Copeland

First term U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is announcing his presidential candidacy today at a weekly convocation on the campus of Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr.’s Liberty University, hoping to get a jump in the Republican nomination race as the first officially declared candidate, according to the New York Times. Politico reports that the Obamas could already have picked out their new address, on the Waimanalo Beach section of Oahu. A mysterious transaction took a house that was used as the backdrop for the 1980s TV show Magnum, P.I. off the real-estate market last week.

Pickets to protest Gates' Africa seeds position

at 6:15am by Joe Copeland

Activists in Seattle and London are promising simultaneous picketing at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation this morning and at a London meeting site. The Seattle-based Community Alliance for Global Justice says it is concerned that foundation representatives and the United States Agency for International Development are meeting in London in what the group says is an effort to promote privatization of seed and agricultural markets in Africa. A recent Humanosphere article noted that Bill Gates continues to speak positively about GMO crops as one way to help meet Africa’s food needs.

Gonzaga doubles down on March Madness

at 6:00am by Joe Copeland

Not only did the Gonzaga men’s basketball team batter Iowa to advance to the NCAA Sweet 16 with a win in KeyArena, but the Gonzaga women upset Oregon State to reach their Sweet 16 as well.  Bud Withers of the Seattle Times has the men’s story from Seattle here. The Associated Press report on the women’s win notes that they come home to Spokane for the next round.

Starbucks done 'together' cup messages

at 5:45am by Joe Copeland

CEO Howard Schultz sent a letter Sunday to employees saying Starbucks’ baristas wouldn’t write any more “race together” messages on coffee cups, but a spokesperson said that had been the plan all along, according to the New York Times. So, if you were actually worried about being confronted with a coffee cup mentioning the nation’s No. 1 divide — or opportunity to improve —  it’s all clear as of Monday morning. But beware of pundits on either the left or the right claiming they got the company to back down.

Reader Photo: New buses

at 5:30am by Joe Copeland

 A pair of new Excelsior coaches resting at the Kenmore P&R. Copyright: WhenEliseSings/Flickr

A pair of new Excelsior coaches resting at the Kenmore P&R. Copyright: WhenEliseSings/Flickr

Weather: Seattle won't be spoiled next few days

at 5:00am by Joe Copeland

It looks like more normal weather patterns are returning to Seattle this week; late week should be better. Sorry, Spokane, it looks like you might get some of it, but the weekend could be fabulous.

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Sunday 22 Mar, 2015

Oso disaster remembered. Long prison sentences questioned.

Ceremonies mark Oso anniversary

at 11:38am by Joe Copeland

The names of the 43 victims were read one by one during a solemn ceremony this morning. The Herald has a report.

Japan has mixed response to mixed race beauty

at 6:00am by Joe Copeland

The Washington Post details how Japan has responded — sometimes embarrassingly, sometimes supportively — to the selection of a woman from the Nagasaki area, whose father is an African American, as Miss Universe Japan.

Convicts tend to mature out of crime

at 5:00am by Joe Copeland

New studies raise questions about the value of lengthy prison terms, a writer suggests in the New York Times Sunday Review section.

Another bit of Bertha comes up

at 1:01am by Joe Copeland

The piece of the tunnel-boring machine lifted out Saturday was smaller than the one that was brought up earlier in the week, the Seattle Times reports.

Saturday 21 Mar, 2015

Guardian to have first woman as editor. Remembering a Freedom Ride. Zags need to do better.

Art Thiel: Gonzaga will have to be better Sunday

at 5:30pm by Joe Copeland

The Bulldogs let North Dakota State University stay in the game early, providing fuel for Gonzaga’s many skeptics. The Sportspress Northwest columnist says they must be much better against Iowa.

Mount Rainier made easy: Stay at a cabin

at 5:00pm by Joe Copeland

Want to avoid the exhaustion of a day trip? The Seattle Times has a make-you-daydream rundown on places to stay around Ashford, just outside the national park.

Does Iowa love Hillary?

at 4:00pm by Joe Copeland

Politico reports that former Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy in the first caucus state seems to be receiving a somewhat-tentative embrace from state Democrats, who view the Clintons as less than wild about her state. But she has made smart hires for her top staff.

An ex-Boise State prof remembers Freedom Riders' trip

at 3:41pm by Joe Copeland

A retired professor on Friday gave a crowd in Coeur d’Alene a taste of his experience in 1961, when he was arrested for disturbing the peace as soon as he got off a bus in Mississippi. In The Spokesman article, Max Pavesic also talks about the need to confront society’s continuing racism.

British Columbia's gift to pro basketball retires

at 3:06pm by Joe Copeland

Steve Nash, who was raised in Victoria, announced his retirement with an article on the Player’s Tribune, The Province reports. Nash’s article (with great pix of his kids) is here.

Guardian names woman as chief editor for first time

at 3:00pm by Joe Copeland

The Guardian will have its first woman as its top editor, Katharine Viner, who has been its chief editor for its United States edition. The New York Times notes the longevity of recent Guardian editors: The outgoing editor was appointed in 1995, and his predecessor started in 1975.

Friday 20 Mar, 2015

Twin Gonzaga wins. Sally Jewell puts rules on fracking. Mosque bombing kills dozens.

Gonzaga upset? Bulldogs' women win in NCAA. (As do the men.)

at 10:02pm by Joe Copeland

With two players scoring 19 each, Gonzaga’s 11th-seeded women’s team upset George Washington University, AP reports. The highly ranked Gonzaga men’s team won in KeyArena, sending them to a Sunday afternoon game against Iowa, a very methodical team, according to Sportspress Northwest.

137 dead, 345 injured in mosque bombings in Yemen

at 4:58pm by Joe Copeland

ISIL claimed responsibility, but there are other groups that could be behind the suicide attacks, according to Al Jazeera.

Sally Jewell puts new rules on fracking

at 4:04pm by Joe Copeland

The Washington Post reports the Interior Secretary’s announcement Friday covers activities on public lands. Environmentalists weren’t particularly impressed, and the two oil industry groups said they would file suit to block her actions.

Europe underwhelmed by total solar eclipse

at 3:48pm by Joe Copeland

The Telegraph in Britain says today’s solar eclipse in Europe sent “disappointed Brits inside for a cup of tea.”  The Mirror reports that gray skies sent so many people inside to watch nature being broadcast on the BBC that there was a surge in electrical power demand. The best viewing was in the Faroe Islands, which (as we all surely know) are between Scotland and Iceland. The U.S. will have a total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017 with the path of totality pretty much going right over Salem, Oregon. If you’re wondering about weather, a site called Eclipse2017.org already providing links to weather forecasts.

Tim Egan on GOP leaders who betray their roots

at 3:32pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle-based New York Times columnist Tim Egan takes aim at Republican leaders from modest backgrounds who pander to the wealthy and corporations. Republicans may not like his article, but surely librarian-turned-author Nancy Pearl will: In an interview with Crosscut writer Robin Lindley published this week, she cites him as a favorite local writer, both for his books and his columns.

User photo: Bertha's deep, deep pit

at 5:03am by Mary Bruno

On Feb. 17, WSDOT crews opened up a Bertha-sized circle on the southern wall of the deep pit they excavated to reach and repair Bertha.

Preparing for Bertha's breakthrough
Preparing for Bertha’s breakthrough

Amazon gets drone testing go-ahead from FAA

at 5:02am by Mary Bruno

Amazon received a coveted “experimental airworthiness certificate” from the FAA on Thursday, reports Geekwire. The greenlight means Amazon can start testing unmanned aircraft for its drone delivery program. The FAA’s okay is a big deal for Amazon, which had threatened to move drone delivery ops overseas if the agency kept dragging its feet. Amazon drones need to stay below 400 feet and remain within sight of the pilot.

Showers and warm in Bellingham and Seattle

at 5:01am by Mary Bruno

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Thursday 19 Mar, 2015

State Medal of Valor to Oso mudslide communities. Fed to raise interest rates. Balmy Thursday in store.

Campaign urging Gates Foundation to divest from fossil fuel garners 100,000 signatures

at 8:20pm by Amy Augustine

Nearly 100,000 people are asking the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to find a better way to spend its cash after the Guardian revealed it invests over $1.4 billion in fossil fuel companies.

The analysis of the world’s largest charitable foundation looked at data from its most recent tax filing in 2013. The energy companies in which it most heavily invests include Exxon Mobil ($824 million), BP ($372 million), Vale ($32 million), Itochu ($22 million) and Anglo American ($20 million). The charity’s endowment is over $43 billion and to date it has given out $33 billion in worldwide health grants.

Bill Gates gives a TED talk in Feb. 2009 (Credit: Steve Jurvetson via Flickr)
Bill Gates gives a TED talk in Feb. 2009 (Credit: Steve Jurvetson via Flickr)

The petition, organized by the Guardian and launched on Monday, had garnered 97,000 signatures as of Thursday afternoon. “Your organisation has made a huge contribution to human progress . . . yet your investments in fossil fuels are putting this progress at great risk. It is morally and financially misguided to invest in companies dedicated to finding and burning more oil, gas and coal,” the petition states.

Christopher Williams, a spokesperson for the foundation, said in an emailed statement that foundation’s assets are managed independently of the foundation itself by a separate entity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust. “The trust,” he wrote, “does not comment on its holdings.”

More Starbucks race togetherness

at 5:06pm by Cody Olsen

Starbucks “Race Together” campaign continues to be talked about by just about everyone, with many feeling it’s just a bit off, but some actually liking the race dialogue it could start. Take a peak at the hashtag NewStarbucksDrink on twitter right now to see some of the many reactions to the Starbucks initiative.

Crosscut reached out to Juan Cotto, the Diversity Outreach and Inclusion Manager for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “From what I have seen and heard people who don’t like the idea, really don’t like the idea,” said Cotto. “In the long run it could cost [Howard Shultz] a few customers…”

On the plus side, said Cotto, “Starbucks has what, almost 200,000 employees? I bet there were some conversations about race at Starbucks this week and that is not bad…” Rocky reception aside, if the Starbucks CEO’s goal was to get people talking about race, he’s definitely succeeded.

Bellevue man sentenced to 5 years in Silk Road case

at 3:48pm by Amy Augustine

The saga of the Bellevue man who sold nearly $1 million in hard drugs online appears to be over for now, after he was sentenced to five years in prison by a U.S. District Court judge on Thursday.

Forty-year-old Steven Sadler faced up to 40 years in prison based on the volume of drugs he sold. His sentence follows a plea bargain last May after he admitted to selling and shipping up to $70,000 per month in cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine online via the now-shuttered Silk Road, which was compared to the Amazon.com of illicit drug sales.

After completing his sentence, Sadler, a former Intelius programmer, faces four years of supervised release; the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case, recommended he serve seven. At the sentencing, Judge Ricardo Martinez said he is “troubled by this new method, new frontier of drug dealing that is creating a new crop of victims,” according to a statement from the attorney’s office.

Sadler was one of the site’s most successful lynchpins, according to Homeland Security investigators. Under the alias NOD, he essentially ran a digital storefront with his then-girlfriend Jenna White, 22, taking online orders, sourcing drugs and shipping them, sometimes in creative packaging, like smelly markers or birthday cards. White has also pleaded guilty and will be sentenced next month, according to KOMO.

Silk Road was squashed by the FBI in October 2013. Its mastermind, Ross Ulbricht, 30, was arrested — in a San Francisco public libray — on charges of narcotic trafficking, computer hacking and money laundering around the same time as Sadler and White. He was found guilty last month and awaits sentencing. He faces life in prison.

 

 

Wither the 40-hour work week?

at 3:30pm by Amy Augustine

Seattle is among the hardest working cities in the country, at least in terms of hours logged, according to data published this week from the office of the New York City Comptroller.

The average Emerald City worker logs 43.17 hours per week, the seventh highest in the nation. We’re not sure whether that number earns us bragging rights or permission to curl up in a fetal position under our desks. The U.S. average is 42.2 hours a week.

Still, we’re slackers compared to San Francisco, where people punch in over 44 hours a week. We also fall behind Washington D.C., Charlotte, N.C., and Fort Worth, Houston and Austin, Texas.

Even factoring in a weekly commute time of 4.06 hours, Seattle again ranks seventh, with a 47.23 weekly combined work/commute average. Traffic may be bad here, but it could be worse: New Yorkers spend a gasp-worthy 6.18 hours per week in their cars commuting to work.

One trend to note: According to global averages of developed nations from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, people are working less, albeit largely (and unsurprisingly) in Europe. In the past decade, nearly all average workweeks have fallen by several hours. The Dutch work just 30 hours per week.

Steno pool in office, 1959. Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr
Steno pool in office, 1959. Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr

 

 

 

 

State auditor denies wrongdoing after feds search home

at 3:05pm by John Stang

Washington Auditor Troy Kelley says he does not know why federal agents searched his Tacoma home on Monday, an event the News Tribune first reported this week.

“I have been out of the state on family vacation since Friday night. We were not there when our home was reportedly searched and have not yet returned.  I have not been served a search warrant and have not been informed of any reasons for a search,” Kelley wrote in an emailed statement early Thursday.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Seattle has a policy of neither confirming nor denying the existence of an investigation until when any charges are filed, said spokesperson Emily Langlie.

The story about the search warrant being executed on Kelley’s home broke late Wednesday. The News Tribune reported that Tacoma police were informed of the five-hour search by the U.S. Treasury Department as part of a routine notification.

Kelley, a Democrat, represented southern Pierce County’s 28th District as a state representative for three terms before being elected state auditor by a 53 percent-to-47-percent margin in 2012,  according to Ballotpedia. He is a lieutenant colonel in the Washington National Guard’s Judge Advocate General’s office and a former federal prosecutor.

Prior to become state auditor, he owned a business that tracked documents. His 2012 opponent for state auditor, Republican James Watkins, used a nasty lawsuit between Kelley and a former client, Old Republic Title, a title insurance firm. Old Republic Title alleged breach of contract and the misappropriation of $1.2 million against Kelley, according to Ballotpedia. Kelley denied the allegations. The case ended in 2011 with a closed settlement. No criminal charges were ever filed. The News Tribune noted that Kelly was asked questions about tax payments during that case.

 

Rising ocean temperatures

at 3:00pm by Cody Olsen

Few have complained about the sunny days associated with the Northwest’s mild winter this season, but our El Nino season has caused Ocean temperatures to rise off the coast of Oregon and Washington. KUOW reports that NOAA scientists say ocean temperatures have risen 7 degrees, which means less nutrients in the water a trend already linked to sea-birds dying off.

There is a silver lining for fishing enthusiasts though — more albacore tuna could be in abundance because they prefer warm waters.

Housing for the homeless

at 2:30pm by Cody Olsen

The Olympian is reporting that Homes First, a nonprofit, has offered to buy the Holly Hotel in Olympia and turn it into a permanent housing shelter for the homeless. The motel owners are quoted as being open to the idea, and Homes First hopes to have a proposal to them by September. The housing site would include on-site counseling and a 24/7 staff presence, and would utilize a survey of the client’s housing history, health and background called the ‘vulnerability index’ to determine which individuals have the most need.

According to a Thurston County census report last year, the number of homeless people in the region has increased, with a total of 599 homeless people tallied in 2014, up from 441 in 2006, an increase of 36 percent.

Doing battle with the bridge

at 2:23pm by Cody Olsen

KIRO Radio’s John Curley is taking the 520 toll bridge to court. My Northwest reported that the radio host has been notoriously, and hilariously, combative against the 520 toll — scrawling “F the bridge” on the memo line of each of his payments, and flipping the bird to the camera each time he passes through (yes, there and back). But now now Good to Go claims Curley missed a payment and owes $366 dollars in fines, a claim he disputes and will take to court on March 31st.

After snowiest winter ever, Boston woman reunites with car

at 1:36pm by Amy Augustine

It appears Boston’s brutal, snowiest winter on record is showing signs of letting up. After seven weeks and 100 inches of snow, resident Jillian Tenen was finally able to dig her out car, which somehow started even after the weight of the snow caved in her windshield. Read the Globe’s chuckle-worthy piece here.

A car is buried in Boston this February. Credit: Peter Enyeart via Flickr
A car is buried in Boston this February. Credit: Peter Enyeart via Flickr

Mystery dust on Mars

at 12:35pm by Cody Olsen

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Photo by Andy Zeigert/Flickr

 NASA scientists say the MAVEN spacecraft has encountered a high altitude dust cloud that none of the scientists can explain, reports seattlepi.com. The dust cloud implies there’s still much to be learned about the Mars atmosphere.

California unveils emergency drought legislation

at 12:09pm by Amy Augustine

Lawmakers in California have unveiled a $1 billion plan to address the state’s critical water shortage, both in the short term and long range funding for infrastructure initiatives, according to the LA Times.

The state, which is entering its fourth consecutive year of drought, will likely pass down more restrictions to residents. “Don’t have any doubts we‘re going to increasingly control the use of water,” Gov. Jerry Brown warned.

Charles Blow on Starbucks' "race card"

at 9:00am by Mary Bruno

The New York Times columnist responds to Starbuck’s recent “Race Together” initiative, which encourages baristas to engage customers in conversations about race. “The suspicion and ridicule … has been swift and broad,” writes Blow, who goes on to reference comments by former Vice president Dick Cheney, Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama about race. Writing in Entrepreneur Magazine, Kate Taylor calls the Starbucks effort “Tone-deaf and self-aggrandizing …”.

“And yet,” she continues, “I would like to assume that the motive is noble even if something about it feels a shade off.”

U.S. rethinks Israeli support in wake of Netanyahu victory

at 8:30am by Mary Bruno

“The positions taken by the prime minister in the last days of the campaign have raised very significant substantive questions that go far beyond just optics,” a senior administration official told Politico. The administration source did not rule out a shift in U.S. support for Israeli positions at the United Nations, including its withdrawal from Palestinian territories.

Maybe the timing is unrelated, but in an MSNBC interview today, Netanyahu took a noticeably softer stance to his hardline campaign rhetoric around the issue of a two-state solution, as well as his tone toward the U.S., which, in his words, “has no greater ally than Israel.”

Obama floats idea of mandatory voting

at 7:42am by Mary Bruno

President Obama speaks about the school shootings in Connecticut.

President Obama suggested the idea of mandatory voting at a speech in Cleveland on Wednesday. The Associated Press says the president quoted stats from the United States Election Project indicating that fewer than 37 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2014 midterm elections. Most of those no-shows were younger, poorer, less educated and more racially diverse, Obama told the crowd. “If everybody voted, it would completely change the political map in this country,” he said. And maybe counteract the powerful — and corrupting — influence of money on politics. America wouldn’t be the first to make its citizens vote. According to the AP, some two dozen countries have adopted some form of compulsory voting, including Belgium, Brazil and Australia.

Inslee's cigarette tax hike in play

at 6:30am by John Stang

Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina, is sponsoring a bill to raise state cigarette taxes by 50 cents a pack. The legislation, introduced on Wednesday, responds to a request by Gov. Jay Inslee for the hike, which would earmark the additional revenue for cancer research and prevention.

Washington’s current cigarette tax rate is $3.02 a pack. This hike would be expected to raise $38 million in 2015-2017.

Hunter’s bill joins a proposed tax on vaping materials for electronic cigarettes that is working its way through the House. Inslee has estimated that the state could raise another $18 million in the upcoming biennium through an e-cigarette tax. A broad vaping-regulatory bill by Reps. Gerald Pollet, D-Seattle, and Paul Harris, R-Vancouver, would levy a 95 percent tax on vaping products, ban minors from vaping, forbid flavored vaping fluids and ban Internet sales of vaping products.

 

Oso mudslide communities win state's Medal of Valor

at 5:05am by Mary Bruno

The State of Washington awarded the communities of Darrington, Oso and Arlington and the Sauk-Suiattle tribe the state Medal of Valor for their heroism in response to the deadly Oso mudslide, reports the Everett Herald. Accepting were Oso Fire Chief Willy Harper, Darrington’s Quinn Nations, Arlington high school student Brantly Stupey and volunteer firefighter Kevin Lenon for the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe.

For a photographic scale of the damage in Oso, seattlepi.com has put together an interactive gallery of the damage, before an after.

Federal Reserve: Brace for higher interest rates

at 5:02am by Mary Bruno

The Federal Reserve opened the door for a bump in interest rates, reports the Washington Post,  the first increase since the 2008 financial crisis. In an effort to quell fears, Fed Chair Janet Yellen insisted that the Fed would not move on rates until later this year. “Just because we removed the word ‘patient’ from the statement does not mean we are going to be impatient,” Yellen said at Wednesday’s news conference.

 

Weather for Thursday - balmy

at 5:00am by Mary Bruno

Cloudy and warm today — we’re talking high of 62 — in Everett and Seattle.

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Wednesday 18 Mar, 2015

$15 wage wins in court. Victoria pub could be best Irish bar outside Ireland. Weather

Small miners want more voice on state rules

at 5:55pm by John Stang

A half-dozen small-scale miners testified Wednesday in favor of a bill to create a mining and prospecting advisory committee to work with the Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission. The bill sponsored by Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, recently won Senate approval and is now before the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee.

The prospectors said that Washington’s small-scale mining community has only about 2,500 people and no lobbyist to keep tabs of proposed new state laws and regulations that might affect them. “We often find ourselves at the end of the stick, catching up on what is going on,” said Mark Erickson, a former president of the Resource Coalition, a group of small-scale miners.

Prospector Bert Swift said miners have had very little voice in state regulations on mining.

Dawn Vyvyan, representing the Yakama Indian Nation, said that tribes and other interests don’t have a separate committee to provide input on small-scale mining regulations. “Gold miners have participated in rule-making in the past,” Vyvyan said. “I have questions on why we spend state time and energy for a group already in the process.”

 

Auditor finds significant gaps in SPD's public disclosure abilities

at 3:42pm by David Kroman

A review by the City of Seattle Auditor’s staff suggests that the Seattle Police Department could make big improvements in how it receives, tracks and fulfills public records request.

According to the report presented Wednesday afternoon to a City Council committee, SPD received a daunting 4,700 public records requests in 2014 — about 13 a day, including weekends and holidays. The auditor credits the department for its regular communication with the City Attorney and the dedication of the Public Disclosure Unit’s director. But due to the complexity of fulfilling that many requests, including many hours of dashboard and body worn videos that often record sensitive and sometimes exempted material, the report found “significant gaps in the resources and systems SPD currently uses to process public records requests.”

Without sounding accusatory about the shortcomings in the face of huge demands, the auditor’s report names five areas where the department needs improvement: staffing and technology, access, processing, staffing and workload analyses and communication with people who have filed requests.

The auditor recommends a number of solutions. The current manager of the Public Disclosure Unit spends much of her time fulfilling requests rather than supervising. “SPD should create a new position to handle the manager’s current caseload,” the report finds.

The report also recommends installing a whole new software management system. And the auditor believes those tasked with processing public records need to be better educated on what they must and must not disclose under  the Washington’s Public Disclosure Act.

The report was shared with SPD, which agreed with the auditor’s recommendations.

Starbucks: from race relations to personal drink delivery

at 3:00pm by Alyssa Campbell

Credit: Starbucks

What in the world is Starbucks up to now? Yesterday the Great Caffeinator launched a new mobile app for its Seattle stores that lets customers order and pay for drinks by phone, then pick up their beverage of choice just minutes later. Even better, as GeekWire reports, customers soon won’t even have to make the effort to pick up their drink because the company’s is slated to launch its new delivery service later this year in Seattle and New York City.

While in NYC baristas will be personally delivering drinks to customers, in Seattle beverages will be delivered by the same-day delivery company Postmates. Although the mobile ordering app will be available in stores in the U.S., Britain and Canada by the end of 2015, the delivery service will be slower to launch outside of its first two target cities.

There are bigger-picture Starbucks’ initiatives that will be announced at the company’s 2015 Annual Meeting of Shareholders held today in Seattle. Starbucks will discuss its new Race Together campaign, which encourages baristas and customers to speak about race relations. Conversations will supposedly be ignited through Race Together stickers and Starbucks cups hand-labeled with the message “Race Together” available in a limited number of stores across the country.

Koru pairs with UW to help college grads enter business world

at 2:30pm by Alyssa Campbell

Credit: Koru

Koru, a local Seattle startup whose mission is to teach college graduates business skills to land jobs, is launching a new training program for UW College of Arts & Sciences students. As Geekwire reports, two two-week programs are planned to begin this summer to teach students basic business problem-solving skills.

Koru has already run successful programs in Boston and San Francisco. The training sessions are designed to have students come up with solutions to the real-life problems of companies like Amazon. It will also connect them to big employers like REI — UW’s first employer partner for the summer sessions.

Robert Stacey, the dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, stressed to GeekWire the importance of preparing UW graduates for life beyond the classroom: “We want our students to recognize that … they can increase the value of their education by starting to prepare now for the world of employment.” It still comes at a price for students — a whopping $800 for each two-week session.

Murray to launch task force in response to LGBTQ hate crimes

at 11:56am by Alyssa Campbell

Credit: Rob B Taylor

Mayor Ed Murray announced plans to put together a task force with dedicated staff to address recent hate crimes against the LGBTQ community. The news comes after a 25-year-old gay man, Rob B. Taylor, reported to the Stranger that he was attacked on Sunday in Georgetown by a group of four African-American men. After being called out as a “faggot,” the group of men proceeded to hit him in the face with a boot-like object — causing damage to his upper lip and requiring six stitches. Taylor posted photos of his bloody lip on Facebook.

While Seattle’s new police chief, Kathleen O’Toole, is currently investigating the issue of LGBTQ hate crimes further, Taylor told the Stranger the SPD seemed “irritated” when he filed a police report Monday. SPD bias and violent crimes detectives are currently investigating Taylor’s case further.

As of 2012, Seattle had the third-highest rate of all large cities in the country for anti-LGBTQ hate crimes. It has become a hot issue of public discourse in recent months and the subject of a public forum held on March 3rd by Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant. The solution Murray proposed then was to diversify Seattle’s police force. Hopefully the new task force will come up with other strategies as LGBTQ hate crimes continue to grow in neighborhoods throughout the city.

 

520 bridge reopens after bus accident

at 11:54am by Alyssa Campbell

Credit: The Seattle Times / Sonny Behrends

The Highway 520 bridge reopened this morning at 5 am, after a swinging crane with an attached pipe caused a sign to fall and hit a bus late last night, injuring eight people.

Obama picks a small, Catholic college for Final Four

at 9:15am by Joe Copeland

It’s Villanova in Pennsylvania, not Gonzaga. Politico has a rundown on the President Obama’s picks in the March Madness around men’s college basketball. (GU fans, it’s not a good weekend ahead in Seattle, if the president is right. Squint down at the bottom right corner of his bracket to see what he thinks.)

Netanyahu back: Any chance for peace?

at 8:05am by Joe Copeland

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s victory in Israel came after promising to never allow a Palestinian state. A good New York Times analysis looks at why Netanyahu, whom some see as capable of smart pragmatism, might govern very differently in a new term than his campaign rhetoric would suggest.

Tunneling success! (Brenda, not Bertha)

at 7:56am by Joe Copeland

Sound Transit says it has completed the first 1.5 mile segment of a 4.3 mile tunnel to carry light-rail trains between Northgate and the Univeristy District. The tunnel-boring machine (nicknamed Brenda) started from Northgate in July.

The extension of Link light rail service to Northgate, which launches in 2021, will use twin tunnels. Another machine, known as Paula, has started work on the parallel tunnel in November. Both machines are considerably smaller than the infamously stalled Bertha tunneling machine that has been stalled on the waterfront for repairs. As Crosscut noted in a story last year, Brenda also successfully dug tunnels for Sound Transit in 2011 and 2012 for its U Link extension from downtown to the University District, where service is scheduled to start next year.

$15 wage comes up a winner in court

at 7:23am by Joe Copeland

Update 7:23 a.m. A federal judge on Tuesday rejected arguments by franchise outlets that they deserved a break from the steepest increases in the minimum wage to $15 per hour in Seattle. Workers’ supporters, Mayor Ed Murray and others quickly praised the ruling. The International Franchise Association said early Wednesday that “it will continue to pursue legal avenues to win a permanent injunction against the portions of Seattle’s ordinance that apply to small business franchises.”

Workers at McDonald’s and Subway, for instance, will get raises to $11 an hour on April 1, along with workers at any company employing more than 500 people. Smaller employers can pay as little as $10 per hour, as long as workers get at least $11 hourly in total pay, tips and benefits. The pay rises in phases to $15 under the law adopted by the city last year.

As Crosscut’s Cambria Roth noted last week, Paul Clement, a big-deal attorney with more than 70 U.S. Supreme Court appearances, came in to argue the case for the International Franchise Association. Murray ended his press release with a dig: “Rather than investing in lawyers to prevent workers from earning higher wages, it is time for these large businesses to begin investing in a higher minimum wage for their employees.”

Victoria, B.C., has one of top 10 Irish pubs outside Ireland

at 5:36am by Joe Copeland

The Irish Times pub in downtown Victoria is one of the 10 best Irish pubs outside Ireland, CBC reports. The ranking comes from the national Irish Times newspaper — which may indicate the pub’s name gave it at least a tie-breaker edge over the competition. CBC posted the story late yesterday afternoon, a bit late for St. Patrick’s Day planning. But you’d probably do better going there any other day of the year, anyway.

The Irish Times’ calls the top 10 a “short list” from among some 1,500 nominees worldwide in its search for the one best Irish pub overseas. Only two are in the U.S. — Finn McCool’s in New Orleans and the Irish Haven in New York.

Reader photo

at 5:15am by Joe Copeland

Is a Dock a Bridge? By Mr_Bull_/Crosscut Flickr Group
Is a Dock a Bridge? By Mr_Bull_/Crosscut Flickr Group

Wednesday's weather: Not bad

at 5:00am by Joe Copeland

The day will be partly sunny in Seattle, while Wenatchee will be sunny and a bit warmer, according to the National Weather Service.

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Tuesday 17 Mar, 2015

Sounders content with CenturyLink. Mountain passes opening early. Rezoning shoreline. NFL's Chris Borland retires.

About that minimum wage

at 3:00pm by Cody Olsen

Seattle’s $15 an hour minimum wage is set to begin phasing in April 1, and while many are still debating the pros and cons of the move, a team of researchers at UW and the state’s Department of Employment Security are seeking answers about the effects. KUOW reports the research team will collect and analyze data related to the minimum wage hike over the course of five years, following 40 low-income families as well as seeking to track wage-hike’s effect on businesses and consumers.

Mayor Ed Murray and Seattle City Council ordered the study when the minimum-wage ordinance was passed last year.

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Here's a beluga dancing to the bagpipes

at 1:52pm by Amy Augustine

Ah, St. Patrick’s Day, the perfect time to be serenaded by the sweet, soothing sound of bagpipes, especially if you’re a beluga whale.  In case your eardrums need a cleansing after that:

High mountain passes set for early openings

at 1:29pm by Amy Augustine

A foggy Chinook Pass in October 2012. Credit: Washington Department of Transportation via Flickr.
A foggy Chinook Pass in October 2012. Credit: Washington Department of Transportation via Flickr.

This year’s lack of snowpack spells historically earlier openings for some of the state’s high mountain passes, KUOW is reporting. According to Washington transportation officials, Chinook Pass will likely be drivable by April 3, and Cayuse Pass will open early as well.

Rezoning in Shoreline draws outcry from residents

at 11:46am by Cody Olsen

My Northwest reports that Shoreline residents are unhappy with a rezoning that will allow taller buildings around the future light rail near I-5. Monday night saw more than an hour of public testimony against the rezoning, after which Shoreline City Council passed the ordinance.

According to the city, the rezoning will not force any families to move or develop their property in any way, but neighborhoods may “transition” and new housing may be built. The future light rail is to begin service in 2023, and the rezoning will be implemented in three phases, in 2015, 2021 and 2033.

Northern Lights may be visible tonight

at 11:40am by Amy Augustine

Solar conditions are right for viewing of the Northern Lights this evening in Washington, so keep your eyes peeled. KING 5 reports that the strongest magnetic storm of the current solar cycle is underway and will likely remain in effect for next 24 hours. Don’t get too excited: Clouds and rain are in the forecast.

Inside Washington's only government-run pot shop

at 11:28am by Amy Augustine

A majority of Americans now favor marijuana legalization and municipalities in Washington State are looking for ways to cash in. The Washington Post’s Todd C. Frankel spent some time in North Bonneville, Wash., home of the nation’s first government-run pot shop to answer one question: Is it profitable?

The answer: Not really. Not yet, anyway.

But it’s not all bad news, at least not if you’re an employee of the shop, where perks extend beyond $11 hourly pay and government benefits:

“At the Cannabis Corner, workers take the same drug test the town administers to all new hires. But they’re allowed — expected, actually — to test positive for marijuana.”

One of the six marijuana fields discovered in North Cascades National Park Complex and eradicated on August 14, 2008. (Credit: David Snyder for the NPS, via Flickr)
One of the six marijuana fields discovered in North Cascades National Park Complex and eradicated on August 14, 2008. (Credit: David Snyder for the NPS, via Flickr)

Marines: Not just a boys club?

at 11:00am by Cody Olsen

Women and men are training together in the Mojave desert as a test of whether the macho Marines Corps should integrate women into its male-only ground combat units. NPR reports that the training exercise is one of many the Corps is exploring as it considers opening up more combat posts to women. Currently, about half the female Marines have dropped out of the Mojave training due to injuries, a “much higher dropout rate” than their male counterparts according to NPR, though the exact difference in dropout rates was not given.

Israeli elections are today; follow live coverage here

at 10:44am by Amy Augustine

Today voters in Israel head to the polls to choose between longtime incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu and challenger Isaac Herzog for their prime minister. Early numbers show Herzog is ahead by a slim margin, and voter turnout is slightly lower than 2013. Follow the Guardian’s live coverage.

Citing safety, 49ers' Chris Borland becomes latest NFL player to retire

at 10:44am by Mary Bruno

San Francisco Linebacker Chris Borland became the latest — and youngest (at 24) — NFL player to retire rather than risk serious brain injury. “I don’t think it’s worth the risk,” Borland told ESPN. One of the league’s top rookies last season, Borland follows 49ers teammate Patrick Willis, seven-time All-Pro linebacker, St. Louis cornerback Cortland Finnegan, Titans quarterback Jake Locker and Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds who all retired in the off-season over safety concerns.

Seahawks Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson tweeted in response:

Reader photo

at 8:00am by Joe Copeland

Seattle Fire Department Headquarters Credit: Joe Wolf
Seattle Fire Department Headquarters Credit: Joe Wolf

No, that parking spot doesn't belong to city workers

at 6:15am by Joe Copeland

KING 5 reports that Seattle city workers seem to be getting away with lots of parking violations with their official vehicles near City Hall. The good news: Seattle Public Utility and City Light officials sound appropriately pissed about the violations, which were uncovered by KING’s dogged investigative reporter Linda Byron. Seattle Public Utilities’ Andy Ryan told KING, “SPU will be adopting its own parking rules, and educating our employees — frequently — on those rules.”

South Sound residents get first taste of US Open restrictions

at 6:15am by Joe Copeland

A chain link fence and construction cones blocked public access to parts of the Chambers Creek Regional Park on Monday, The News Tribune reports. It’s the first step toward getting the park ready to help host the U.S. Open golf tournament this summer. Some areas won’t reopen until after the tournament in June, including the dog area at the park. More closures will occur in coming months. Most of the park is expected to be reopened by Aug. 1, an official said.

Good news on Rainier Beach graduation rates. Tragedy for Cleveland.

at 6:00am by Joe Copeland

The Seattle Times reports stunningly good news: Graduation rates at long-dissed Rainier Beach High School, just 53 percent in 2011, have soared to 79 percent, better than the Seattle School Distict’s average. Along with the excellent story, there’s a cool photo.

Sadly, the Times also has a story on drive-by shooting victim Robert Robinson Jr. from Cleveland High School, reporting on how he was intent on success after graduation and was a probing student with, in the words of a teacher, “a heart for social justice.”

Sounders sticking with CenturyLink Field

at 5:45am by Joe Copeland

Art Thiel of Sportspress Northwest notes that there had been lots of rumors that the Seattle Sounders wanted to build their own stadium, designed specifically for soccer. But the team has just signed a 10-year extension, committing to stay through the 2028 season. So, the Sounders’ brass has noticed that a soccer field is roughly similar to a football field?

Thiel also points out that the Seahawks are committed through 2028. Maybe taxpayers should be saving their pennies to meet the combined demands for newer, better, more luxurious then.

The weather: The Cascades and the city.

at 5:15am by Joe Copeland

It’s an up and down week in the weather. But for the mountains, that could mean a little bit of good news.

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Monday 16 Mar, 2015

Nadela, Russell Wilson talk tech. Budget Cleveland High student killed in drive-by. Putin's back! The Atlantic asks: Is it time for Jews to leave Europe?

Seattle ranked amongst top 10 most expensive cities to buy a home

at 8:00pm by Alyssa Campbell

According to a study by Richard Florida at CityLab, Seattle is the ninth most expensive metro area in the US in terms of the number of years of income it takes for the average household to buy a home (5 years!). Still, Seattle pales in comparison to many Californian cities such as Los Angeles, where it would take 9 years of income to afford a home.

Are you a newly-arrived single in Seattle looking to purchase a home? Get ready to save your entire income for 9 years if not wanting to take out a mortgage. When considering only singles and not households, Seattle again ranks amongst the top 10 most expensive cities in the country.

Mayor Murray proclaims Seattle Film Day

at 4:30pm by Alyssa Campbell

Forget Saint Patrick’s Day — Mayor Ed Murray has a better idea for what we should celebrate tomorrow. In a press release this morning, Murray proclaimed Tuesday as “Seattle Film Day.” The announcement comes with Murray’s vocal support of Senate Bill 6027, which would increase funding for the Motion Picture Competitiveness Program to increase film production throughout the state.

Murray pointed out that “Washington’s current incentive program is the fifth smallest in the country” and outlined the need to “fuel our creative economy” here in Seattle through increasing “film industry talent.” Murray’s rhetoric follows in the footsteps of mayors across the country wanting to attract, in the words of well-known urbanist Richard Florida, a more “creative class” to their cities.

Tick-Tock: SPD has a week to figure out where to put former assistant chiefs

at 4:26pm by David Kroman

According to Captain Mike Edwards, President of the Seattle Police Management Association, the Seattle Police Department’s game of musical chairs will come to a halt a week from Wednesday, when Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole’s new hires for assistant chief and chief technology officer officially begin their new jobs. For now, there are few clues about where to put the old chiefs, none of whom, said Edwards, plans on retiring.

As part of an SPD requirement that demoted personnel return to their former rank, former assistant chiefs Mike Washburn, Paul McDonagh, Tag Gleason and Robin Clark will become captains again. Unfortunately, said Edwards, all the captain spots are filled.

Seattle Police Officers Guild President Ron Smith speculated that the former assistant chiefs might retire. Not so, says Edwards: “They’re still young and don’t plan on retiring.”

Here’s the kicker: Because the demotion of the four assistant chiefs is not merit-based, SPD is required to pay them, whether they have a job or not.

Need another reason to complain about traffic?

at 4:00pm by Cody Olsen

How much is your commute costing you? Seattlepi.com linked to a calculator on Wallethub, meant to determine the dollar and opportunity cost of a Seattle commute, and how much you could save by telecommuting. Just put in some information like typical drive time, make and model of your car, and you can have an actual number value — to curse next time you’re sitting in gridlock.

State budget: They will start off far apart

at 3:25pm by John Stang

There will likely be a big difference in size between the budgets from the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate.

At a Monday press session, House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington, said the House’s proposed state budget for 2015-17 will include some new tax revenue. He declined to elaborate on potential tax scenarios.

But he was probably talking about a pretty good amount of revenue. Sullivan said the House budget will likely be closer to Inslee’s $39 billion budget proposal, which includes new carbon and capital-gains tax ideas, than to what Senate Republicans want.

So far, the Republicans, who control the Senate, have publicly stuck with a $37 billion preliminary budget estimate, with no new taxes.

The House Democrats are scheduled to unveil their 2015-2017 proposal first, which will occur sometime in late March or possibly early April. The Senate Republicans will unveil their proposal several days later.

 

Microsoft CEO discusses new business products, joined by Russell Wilson

at 2:05pm by Alyssa Campbell

Microsoft held its annual Convergence conference, the company’s main event for businesses this morning in Atlanta. As reported by GeekWire, CEO Satya Nadella pushed Microsoft’s ability to go beyond devices, declaring Microsoft to be “in the empowerment business.” He elaborated: “Devices will come and go. The most interesting thing is the data that’s being collected.”

Nadella reiterated Microsoft’s dedication to the development of business technology, announcing several upcoming business products the company has in store including Office 2016 for IT pros and developers, Windows 10, Skype for Business, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and Azure IoT Suite.

Part of the glitz: Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks stepped on stage to discuss his use of the Microsoft Surface tablet, Skype and OneNote.

Boeing South Carolina workers closer to a union vote

at 1:01pm by Joe Copeland

The Machinists’ today filed a federal petition for a vote by Boeing workers in South Carolina on joining the union. The Puget Sound Business Journal’s Steve Wilhelm says to expect a furious opposition campaign not just by the company but by South Carolina state officials. They probably never thought the unionization effort would get this far.

Taking a Reagan approach to climate change

at 12:00pm by Mary Bruno

George Schultz, former president Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State, compared the way his boss responded to warnings by scientists back in the 1980s that certain industrial chemicals were destroying the earth’s ozone layer. “There were doubters,” writes Schultz in his Washington Post opinion piece, “… but under these circumstances, President Ronald Reagan thought it best not to argue too much with the doubters but include them in the provision of an insurance policy. With the very real potential for serious harm, U.S. industry turned on its entrepreneurial juices, and the Du Pont company developed a set of replacements for the chemicals implicated in the problem … the action worked and became the basis for the Montreal Protocol, widely regarded as the world’s most successful environmental treaty. In retrospect, the scientists who were worried were right, and the Montreal Protocol came along in the nick of time. Reagan called it a “magnificent achievement.

Did White House leak Hillary's emailgate scandal?

at 9:48am by Mary Bruno

Post CoverIf you’ve been wondering how the press got hold of the fact that Hillary Clinton used a private email account while serving as Secretary of State, wonder no more. The New York Post is reporting that none other than Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser and longtime friend of the president’s, leaked the info “through people outside the ­administration, so the story couldn’t be traced to her or the White House.”

The Post is also saying that Jarrett instigated six probes into Clinton’s conduct at State and that more (damning?) details will soon emerge. What’s got Val so riled up? According to the Post, she’s still “livid” at the Clintons for “turning congressmen, senators, governors and grassroots party members against Obama” during last year’s midterm elections.

Guess it’s payback time.

Putin: Proof of life

at 9:10am by Mary Bruno


After going missing for more than 10 days, with no official explanation, Russia’s typically high-profile premier resurfaced Monday in a state TV-broadcast of his meeting with Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, according to the Washington Post. Putin rumors had been flying: He was the victim of a coup, a stroke, the flu, etc. But Vladimir waved all that silly speculation aside with a breezy: “Life would be too dull without rumors.”

So where was Putin for almost two weeks? Your guess is as good as ours.
 

All that rain: An Inslee 'miracle'?

at 8:48am by Joe Copeland

Meteorologist Cliff Mass has a tongue-in-cheek take on the weekend rain, which — unexpectedly — produced record precipitation right on the heels of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Friday declaration of a drought emergency. Mass ends his piece with another state worry that Inslee might address.

The Atlantic asks: Is it time for Jews to leave Europe?

at 7:32am by Mary Bruno

“For half a century, memories of the Holocaust inoculated the Continent against overt anti-Semitism. That period has ended …” says an article in the April issue of The Atlantic magazine. “Today, right-wing fascist strains of Jew-hatred are merging with a new threat from radicalized Islamists, confronting Europe with a crisis, and its Jews with an agonizing choice.”

NPR’s Steve Innskeep interviewed Jeffrey Goldberg, the story’s author, on NPR this morning. Have a listen.

 

 

Cleveland High student shot and killed on Beacon Hill

at 7:27am by Mary Bruno

A Cleveland High School student died in a drive-by shooting Sunday afternoon. The Seattle Times says the incident took place at 15th Avenue South and South Forest Street at about 4pm. Police are looking for a blue Honda which witnesses saw speed away from the scene. Anyone with information should call 206-233-5000.

Facebook clarifies posting protocols - again

at 5:03am by Mary Bruno

On Monday, the world’s de facto communications platform, aka Facebook, plans to clarify exactly what kinds of content users are allowed to post and what rules they are required to follow when doing so. Beheadings? No. Using real names? Yes — unless you’re a drag queen in which case a stage name will do.

“We’re trying to strike the balance based on the way our community works,” Facebook’s head of global policy management told The New York Times. “The landscape is complicated.”

NYT's NCAA "bracket for risk-takers"

at 5:02am by Mary Bruno

The Times explains its interactive bracket this way: “It will award points based on the same economic principles behind the stock market, the real estate market and most of the American economy: the principles of supply and demand. The more unusual that your picks are, the more points you’ll receive . . .” Let the March Madness begin.

Wet in Woodinville

at 5:02am by Mary Bruno

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Sunday 15 Mar, 2015

Gonzaga #2 seed in NCAA tourney's South region. 20-year-old charged in Ferguson police shooting. How big business made America Christian. Gridiron Dinner highlights.

Gonzaga #2 seed in NCAA tourney's South Region

at 7:22pm by Mary Bruno

The NCAA announced the 68-team field for its men’s basketball classic on Sunday afternoon. The Bulldogs open in Seattle against 15th-seed, North Dakota State on Friday.

Oso mudslide: Natural disaster or man-made mistake?

at 4:21pm by Mary Bruno

Aerial view of Oso Mudslide
Aerial view of Oso Mudslide

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the deadly mudslide (March 22), the Everett Herald reports that the legal battle over who, if anyone, should be held responsible for the death and devastation continues to rage.

Also, Travis Hots, the fire chief at Snohomish County Fire Districts 21 and 22, who stepped in front of the cameras to deliver two press briefings a day during that awful first week after the mudslide — and then didn’t talk about the experience for months afterward — opens up to Herald reporters Diana Hefley and Rikki King.

WA State students tackling tough new math, reading tests

at 4:13pm by Mary Bruno

The state’s new Smarter Balance (Isn’t that a butter brand?) exams are computerized, personalized, “by all accounts, harder than the old statewide tests,” reports The Seattle Times, “and designed to measure critical thinking in addition to basic math and reading skills.” What’s not to love?

20-year-old charged in Ferguson police shooting

at 4:04pm by Mary Bruno

St. Louis County prosecutors charged 20-year-old Jeffrey Williams with first-degree assault in last week’s shooting of two police officers during a protest rally in Ferguson, Missouri. Reuters reports that Williams admitted firing the shots, but said he was aiming at someone else.

Jobs, Jobs and more Jobs - Steve, that is

at 10:07am by Mary Bruno

Steve Jobs may be dead but our fascination with him is alive and well — and something of an industry. Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson’s 2011 authorized biography of the Apple founder, spent weeks atop bestseller lists. And another Jobs wave is upon us.

Becoming Steve Jobs, bio #2, is due out later this month. Among other revelations, says The San Jose Mercury News, is the story of a very ill Steve Jobs rejecting outright his friend and eventual successor Tim Cook’s offer to donate part of his liver for transplant purposes.

Then there’s documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney’s Man in the Machine, which just debuted at SXSW. Gibney’s  film, the Daily Beast tells us, is a “blistering takedown” of Jobs and the cult of Apple and, some will say, a long overdue corrective to the Jobs-as-God myth. “The Jobs depicted here is Mephistopheles in a black mock turtleneck,” writes Beast entertainment editor Marlow Stern; “an endlessly alluring megalomaniac who terrorizes the people closest to him and games the system to pad his—and his company’s— bottom line.”

Finally, a feature film based on Isaacson’s book is in the works, from director Danny Boyle and writer Aaron Sorkin. Actor Michael Fassbinder is said to be considering the role of Jobs, which, according to The Guardian, has already been turned down by Christian Bale and Leonardo DiCaprio.

How big business made America Christian

at 9:21am by Mary Bruno

America’s “… founding fathers didn’t create the ceremonies and slogans that come to mind when we consider whether this is a Christian nation,” writes Princeton University history prof Kevin M. Kruse in Sunday’s New York Times. “Our grandfathers did.”

Kruse argues that back in the 1930s, desperate to restore their credibility after the stock market crash, U.S. business leaders hit upon “an inspired public relations offensive that cast capitalism as the handmaiden of Christianity” — and conscripted clergymen to broadcast the message.

Highlights from Saturday's annual Gridiron Dinner

at 9:09am by Mary Bruno

At Washington, D.C.’s annual white-tie gala, where media and political elites turn out to toast and roast each other, a wistful Barack Obama poked fun at Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Hillary’s email-gate and his own waning popularity. “Just a few years ago I could never imagine being in my 50s,” mused the president, according to The Washington Post. “And when it comes to my approval ratings, I still can’t.”

Soggy Sunday in Seattle

at 9:09am by Mary Bruno

Screen shot 2015-03-15 at 8.53.35 AM

Saturday 14 Mar, 2015

Black students want changes in UW policies. Furor over Port of Seattle's Shell game. Where's Putin? Best National Geographic photos from Feb. 2015.

Serena Williams returns to Indian Wells after 14 years

at 6:49pm by Mary Bruno


Back in 2001, the crowd at the Indian Wells, Calif. tennis center booed tennis superstar Serena Williams — and her sister Venus and father/coach Richard — as the three entered the arena for Serena’s finals match against opponent Kim Clijsters. (See the video). Serena was scheduled to face her sister in the final, but Venus pulled out at the last minute and the Indian Wells crowd wasn’t happy about it. Williams went on to beat Clijsters and claim her second Indian Wells title that day, but she never played the venue again. Until Friday. As ESPN reports, in her first appearance at Indian Wells in 14 years, Serena Williams received a standing ovation and, though she struggled, beat first-round opponent Monica Niculescu 7-5, 7-5.

“I feel like I’ve already won this tournament,” said Williams after the match. “I don’t feel like I have to actually hold the trophy. I’m already holding up a trophy. I have never felt that way before.”

The furor over Port of Seattle's Shell game

at 12:00pm by Mary Bruno

It’s always fun to see how national media portrays local news. Here’s what The New York Times had to say about the ongoing battle over the Port’s decision to let Shell park its Arctic oil drilling fleet at our doorstep: “The environmental messaging never stops here, whether from a city-owned electric utility that gets nearly 98 percent of its power from sources untainted by carbon (and is not about to let residents forget it) or the fussy garbage collectors who can write tickets for the improper sorting of recyclables. So when a lease was signed allowing Royal Dutch Shell, the petrochemical giant, to bring its Arctic Ocean drilling rigs to the city’s waterfront, the result was a kind of civic call to arms.”

Cotton Club "mutinous" but not traitors

at 11:59am by Mary Bruno

Did freshman Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and the 46 Senators who signed his letter to Iran commit treason, which several critics are charging? The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart put that question to retired Major General Paul D. Eaton, who trained Iraqi forces from 2003 to 2004.

“I would use the word mutinous,” said Eaton, currently a senior adviser to VoteVets.org. “I do not believe these senators were trying to sell out America. I do believe they defied the chain of command in what could be construed as an illegal act . . . What Senator Cotton did is a gross breach of discipline, and especially as a veteran of the Army, he should know better.”

Pi Day tweet from Neil deGrasse Tyson

at 11:43am by Mary Bruno

Miracle Alert: No rise in global energy-sector carbon emissions in 2014

at 11:00am by Mary Bruno

Two bits of good news from the International Energy Agency (IEA): 1) global emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector did not rise last year; and 2) the stall was not the result of an economic downturn. IEA credits “changing patterns of energy consumption in China and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.” Translation: more renewables, less coal. “This gives me even more hope that humankind will be able to work together to combat climate change,” said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol. Hope he’s right.

Where's Putin?

at 9:46am by Mary Bruno

Russian Premier Vladimir Putin hasn’t been seen in public since March 5 and rumors are swirling. According to The New York Times, speculation as to his fate and/or whereabouts includes: He’s dead (at 62); he’s been the victim of a hardline coup, a stroke or the nasty flu that has laid much of Moscow low; he’s in Switzerland for the birth of his (allegedly third) love child with mistress and Olympic gymnastics medalist Alina Kabayeva; he’s holed up in the Kremlin hoping all the rumors will distract Russians from the sorry state of their country’s economy.

Swatting away all speculation, Putin spokesperson Dmitry S. Peskov says not to worry, his boss is “fine.”

Black students want changes in UW policies

at 9:28am by Mary Bruno

In the aftermath of allegations that members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity shouted racial slurs at marchers participating in a February 25 Black Lives Matter protest, black students at the UW are calling for change, The Seattle Times reports.

On Friday, March 13, members of the Black Student Union (BSU) spoke with UW’s interim president Ana Mari Cauce about hiring more black faculty and admitting more students of color. One key demand, BSU president Maggie Negussie told The Times, is that the university push to repeal the 1998 Initiative 200.

By prohibiting consideration of race and gender when hiring, I-200 has effectively shrunk the number of African American students on campus. According to The Times, black students currently make up slightly more than 3 percent of all undergrads.

Best National Geographic photos from February.

at 9:28am by Mary Bruno

Elephants in Kenya's Nairobi National Park
Elephants in Kenya’s Nairobi National Park

Treat yourself to this gallery of visual wonders. Colossal presents the most jaw-dropping February shots from National Geographic’s wizard photographers.

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