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Tuesday 9 Jun, 2015

Still no campaign, but Jeb shakes up campaign staff. A new tax plan may break weed stalemate. Egan: What to be afraid of.

5 members of Raging Grannies arrested in Shell protest

at 3:36pm by Joe Copeland

Raging Grannies activists aren’t taking the presence of Shell’s oil-exploration ships in Seattle standing up. Five members of the group today sat in rocking chairs outside Terminal 5, bound themselves together and refused to budge, the Seattle Times reports. The protesters were arrested. A spokesperson for the umbrella protest group ShellNo! Action Council said the Grannies’ action was part of an effort to keep Shell’s ships from leaving on schedule later this month (a strategy that Martha Baskin mentions in a story we published here).

Seattle Channel 'Totem' video wins Emmy

at 3:18pm by Joe Copeland


Congratulations to Seattle Channel (Crosscut’s partner in sponsoring the Civic Cocktail interview events) for winning a Northwest Regional Emmy Award for a video related to honoring the memory of  John T. Williams, a First Nations woodcarver who was fatally shot by a Seattle police officer in August 2010. The award is for Ian Devier’s editing of the documentary, Honor Totem, about the creation of a memorial totem for Williams.

G7 leaders fossil fuels plan receives praise

at 3:06pm by Robert LeCompte

How big was the agreement by world leaders at last weekend’s G7 summit in Germany to phase out all fossil fuel use by the end of the century? Many are praising the decision, with the European Climate Foundation going so far as to say that it signals “the end of the fossil fuel age.” The plan, reports The Guardian, includes raising $100 billion by 2020 for climate action and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 70 percent by 2050.

Animal rights activists to rally against Amazon

at 2:10pm by Amelia Havanec

An Amazon foie gras supplier stands accused of animal abuse against ducks, with hidden camera footage detailing the charges being promoted by activist group Mercy for Animals. The images allegedly depict workers force-feeding ducks by shoving metal pipes down their esophageal tubes, a controversial process is made to enlarge duck livers for human consumption. As they have at previous Amazon shareholders meetings, Mercy for Animals is preparing to protest tomorrow demanding Amazon halt all future sales of foie gras.

Prepping foie gras in this way was banned in California in 2012, a regulation that was recently overturned this past January. Amazon has already banned sales of the delicacy on its U.K. website, and stopped sales of other controversial products on its U.S. website, including shark fins, whale meat, ivory, snake or crocodile skin.

 

Report deals blow to municipal broadband advocates

at 11:59am by Joe Copeland

Mayor Ed Murray’s new broadband report is out, offering reams of analysis, high price tags for a municipal network and some recommendations likely to provoke considerable discussion about whether such a network is feasible without significant amounts of additional financing or a private partnership. The report says that the city might itself serve a niche market for those customers wanting more capacity than is currently available from most private providers. GeekWire calls the report a “setback for advocates of municipal broadband,” and a first reading certainly seems to raise the possibility that advocates will see it as stacking the deck against them. The report is here.

Bellevue-based Xome brings home buying further online

at 11:50am by Amelia Havanec

With tools like Zillow and Redfin, the web has become integral to the real estate hunt for many Americans. It’s only natural that a company would eventually take almost the entire process — booking an agent, setting up a home viewing, securing a mortgage — online. Today saw the launch of Bellevue-based Xome, a new company which purports to do just that.

Beyond rendering nearly the entire process electronic, Xome has other ideas to differentiate it from the sector’s established players.  For one, it purports to feature a more agent-friendly approach. Though agents will have to fork over at least 1 percent of their commission, Xome claims it will send them better-vetted referrals, and let them keep money on the leads they generate. Buyers, on the flip side of the coin, will be given at least 1 percent back of their purchase price. Whether these differentiations will make a dent against its competition remains to be seen, but with more companies continuing to jump into this space (San Fran-based OpenDoor launched last week) it’s clear the market isn’t settled quite yet.

 

 

Monica Lewinsky joins MacKenzie Bezos anti-bullying org

at 8:35am by Mary Bruno

Monica Lewinsky, former White House intern, presidential paramour and self-proclaimed poster child for online bullying, has signed on with Bystander Revolution, the new anti-bullying group founded by MacKenzie Bezos, author and wife of Amazon founder Jeff. (That’s according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.) “My experience of having been cyber-bullied and shamed for nearly two decades has given me a unique perspective,” said Lewinsky in a statement. “Having come out on the other side, I want to help other victims of the shame game survive and thrive.”

Woodland Park Zoo CEO resigns

at 7:33am by Mary Bruno

Deborah Jensen will leave her post as CEO and president of the Woodland Park Zoo at the end of July, according to The Seattle Times. In 13 years at the helm, Jensen helped the zoo earn solid credentials in education and conservation, while navigating the protracted controversy over treatment of Woodland Park’s beloved elephants. Jensen will move on to the University of Washington’s College of the Environment this fall.

Egan: What to be afraid of

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

The musician Randy Newman had a song a few years back with the passage, “A president once said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Now we’re supposed to be afraid. It’s patriotic, in fact, color-coded. And what are we supposed to be afraid of? Why, being afraid! That’s what terror means, doesn’t it?”

Now New York Times columnist Tim Egan has a similar take. In a piece headlined, “What to be afraid of,” Egan totes up all the money the U.S. has spent in fear of terrorism, and compares the actual danger of dying at the hands of terrorists against other, less headline-grabbing dangers. “Your burger is a bigger threat than radical islam,” he writes.

Alzheimer’s, for example, kills 864,000 Americans a year, yet annual federal research on the disease is just $562 million. To put that in perspective, Egan says, the country spent almost 20 times that amount, around $10 billion, on the National Security Agency.

Let the kids have Spotify; Apple’s going after dads

at 5:51am by Mark Matassa

The Atlantic, speeding past much of the Apple news released this week, says the real revelation of the company’s development conference is Apple Music, which will be a music streaming service. “Apple is getting into streaming because it shows all the signs of a business on the rise. Subscription services saw 39 percent growth in 2014 compared with the year before.”

New tax plan may break weed stalemate

at 5:17am by Mark Matassa

Marijuana1.jpgIn Oregon, where they’re still working out details on how the newly legalized pot market will work, legislators have agreed on a 20 percent sales tax – with 17 percent going to the state and 3 percent to go to cities and counties. The tentative deal apparently ends a standoff between the state and local governments, reports The Oregonian.

Still no campaign, but Jeb shakes up campaign staff

at 5:03am by Mark Matassa

RNS-CATHOLIC-GOPMoving to correct campaign problems a week before he’s expected to announce his presidential campaign, Republican Jeb Bush on Monday named Danny Diaz as his campaign manager. The New York Times reports Diaz is pushing aside the previously expected manager, David Kochel, a strategist who ran Mitt Romney’s Iowa campaign in 2008. The story characterizes Bush as “the former Florida governor who has struggled at times to present a compelling vision and establish himself as more than the son and brother of presidents.”

Monday 8 Jun, 2015

Amazon no longer selling ISIS magazine. Quiet killings and blurred lines. Does Lowry support coal-export terminal?

More time on education ruling

at 3:26pm by John Stang

The Washington Supreme Court is giving the Legislature an extension until June 28 to meet its obligations to improve funding of education under the court’s 2012 McCleary decision. June 28 is the end of the second 30-day legislative special session in which the Legislature is trying to reach an agreement on the state’s budget for 2015-2017.

The court’s extension, issued today, allows the Legislature until July 27, or 15 days after the current session end (whichever is earlier) to report on how it will comply with the ruling, which requires better teacher-student ratios in Grades K-3 and equal funding of schools around the state. The Legislature faces yet-to-be-determined Supreme Court sanctions if the state does not have solid compliance plan in placed at the end of this legislative session.

Florida woman to row solo from Tokyo to San Francisco

at 2:00pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

This will be the first time a woman has rowed across the Pacific alone, according to Associated Press. Sonya Baumstein, 29, won’t even be accompanied by a support team in a motor boat, because of the cost and environmental impact. She isn’t worried about endurance or harsh weather conditions; she has rowed long distances before (Florida to the Caribbean), and once biked 1,800 miles from the Mexican border to Seattle. She expects to finish the 6,000-mile journey in a custom-designed boat this September.

The tech job announcements keep on coming in Seattle

at 1:31pm by Amelia Havanec

Seattle-based Zonar Systems, which provides navigational and communications services for commercial fleets, is opening a new engineering office downtown, where it plans to expand its staff to 100 people. GeekWire notes that the company is already headquartered in south Seattle and has an existing office in Cincinnati, Ohio. In a statement, the company says their new downtown office space puts them in a better position to attract data-related tech talent.

In other tech job news, GeekWire also reports that Amazon is now hiring talent for its first PC game venture. The job post indicates that the new hire will work alongside industry veterans behind Halo, BioShock, Half Life 2 and Gears of War. So far, the ‘Zon has focused its efforts on titles for smartphones, tablets and its Fire TV boxes. Given that Amazon purports to have hired staff responsible for some of the biggest games from local heavy-hitters Valve and Microsoft, the development of another big budget game studio in Puget Sound will undoubtedly affect the competition for the region’s gaming talent.

Female veterans' suicide rate looks high

at 1:09pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

Disturbing statistics on suicide among female veterans have come to light, as the LA Times relates. The suicide rate for civilian women is 5.2 out of 100,000, but it’s 28.7 for those who have served in the military. In contrast, there’s much less of a gap between the 20.9 male civilians and 32.1 male veterans who kill themselves. For both men and women, the greatest number of suicides is among veterans age 18 to 29.

Epidemiologists are unclear on all of the factors at play, but one explanation could be that the military attracts those already at higher risk. Prior research has shown that “men and women who join the military are more likely to have endured difficult childhoods, including emotional and sexual abuse.”

Seattle Chamber likes transportation levy as is

at 1:05pm by David Kroman

The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce is asking its members to urge the Seattle City Council to oppose Councilmember Nick Licata’s amendment to the $930 million Move Seattle property tax levy. As it’s currently written, the entire levy would be funded through a property tax hike. Licata recommended last week that the city charge developers and tax commercial parking and employee hours (about 1 cent per hour) to raise $330 million. The remaining $600 million of the levy would be funded with property tax hikes.

Licata said his approach would be more equitable, spreading the burden to businesses as well as property owners. But Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Maud Daudon said in a statement to members, “The City has conducted much stakeholder outreach, including outreach on the funding source. Let’s respect that work and move the proposal forward with the property tax as its funding source.”

Licata today created a poll asking people their preferences on the size of the levy and the funding sources. The council will host a hearing tomorrow to discuss amendments to the levy.

Millennials content to rent

at 10:42am by Marissa Brent-Tookey

Homeownership among 25- to 34-year-olds in King County has dropped to 1 in 4 heads of household, according to the Seattle Times. The last time homeownership for this age group was so low was in 1900. It’s hardly a surprise that young people aren’t buying, with the aftermath of recession and college debt to consider. But this region has seen ownership drop twice as fast as the U.S. average. PSBJ attributes this partly to the influx of Amazon recruits, who prefer the flexibility afforded by a shiny new luxury apartment in South Lake Union.

Bainbridge Islander gets nod at Tonys

at 8:54am by Mary Bruno

Fun Home, set-designed by Bainbridge Island native David Zinn, took home the Tony Award for Best Musical Sunday night in New York. As The Seattle Times reports, Zinn did not win — despite being nominated for his Fun Home set design and his costuming for the play Airline Highway. But Fun Home had a very big night. Based on the Alison Bechdel graphic novel memoir about growing up with a closeted dad, Fun Home also took home Tonys for best book, best lead actor (Michael Cerveris), best direction (Sam Gold) and best score (Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron).

Who gets to define "woman"?

at 8:43am by Mary Bruno

In a provocative column in Sunday’s New York Times, 68-year-old journalist and former women’s studies prof Elinor Burkett takes on the transgender police seeking to redefine womanhood. Using Bruce/Caitlyn Jenners’ coming out as a starting point, Burkett is empathic and enraged in equal measure by the campaign to hijack her gender. The term vagina is now exclusionary; sisterhood has become siblinghood; reproductive rights, according to one trans blogger, is “a uterus owner’s issue.” The word women itself is un-PC.

“The landscape that’s being mapped and the language that comes with it are impossible to understand and just as hard to navigate,” writes Burkett. “…People who haven’t lived their whole lives as women … shouldn’t get to define us…. Their truth is not my truth. Their female identities are not my female identity. They haven’t traveled through the world as women and been shaped by all that this entails.”

Does Lowry support coal-export terminal?

at 6:22am by Mark Matassa

800px-Mike_Lowry_02Former Gov. and Congressman Mike Lowry’s recent visit to Longview, where business interests hope to put a coal terminal on the Columbia River, has enviros in a dither. Or, as The Seattle Times puts it, Lowry’s “favorable comments about the project have surprised some environmentalists.” If it’s approved, the $600 million Millennium project would make the site capable of exporting 44 million metric tons of coal annually. “We’re surprised to see him aligning himself with that project,” says Sightline’s policy director. Lowry, pressed by the Times, seemed to walk back his comments a bit. “Supportive would not be the right word,” he said.

Why a presidential campaign is the ultimate startup

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

The New York Times’ business feature “The Upshot” offers a smart entrepreneur-perspective way of looking at presidential politics. Imagine you have a new tech product and you want to create a business to launch it, produce it and market it nationwide. Imagine, to get this machine off the ground, hiring hundreds of people and raising and spending $1 billion to $2 billion by late next year, all while fighting off other startups with similar products. Tough job. But that, says the Times, fairly describes the effort to elect Hillary Clinton.

Quiet killings and blurred lines

at 5:14am by Mark Matassa

In some terrific reporting that sounds as much like a summer-blockbuster plot as a real news story, The New York Times digs into the operations of SEAL Team 6, the Navy’s special forces unit. The team is best known for killing Osama bin Laden, but the Times says it has been “converted into a global man-hunting machine with limited oversight.”

Amazon no longer selling ISIS magazine

at 5:02am by Mark Matassa

dabiqFrom the “Propaganda Doesn’t Have to be Positive” School of Thought, the Islamic State’s Dabiq magazine touts the glory and effectiveness of terrorism, including descriptions and photographs of enemies being beheaded or burned alive. Grisly stuff. Until recently several issues of Dabiq have been available for sale on Amazon. The BBC reports that the Seattle retailer has removed them from the site.

One excerpt from a recent issue of Dabiq: “’Islam is the religion of peace,’ and they mean pacifism by the word peace. They have repeated this slogan so much to the extent that some of them alleged that Islam calls to permanent peace with kufr and the kāfirīn. How far is their claim from the truth, for Allah has revealed Islam to be the religion of the sword, and the evidence for this is so profuse that only a zindīq (heretic) would argue otherwise.”

 

Friday 5 Jun, 2015

Chinese hack 4 million federal workers. Snowden: The world says no to surveillance. A victory for the little pink pill.

WSU regents grant health leave to President Floyd

at 4:20pm by Joe Copeland

Washington State University says President Elson Floyd has been granted a leave to fight cancer. Board of Regents Chair Ryan Durkan praised Floyd and said he has the full support of the entire board.

A (secret) state spending figure

at 3:28pm by Joe Copeland

Legislative negotiators have tentatively agreed on an overall state spending figure for the next biennium’s main budget. But they still have to get the support of their parties and then work out differences on exactly how to spend the money. Crosscut’s John Stang has a report here.

Exxon thwarted by Santa Barbara pipeline break

at 12:16pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

As engineers continue to inspect the pipeline that ruptured last month off the Santa Barbara coast, big oil faces its own dilemma in the aftermath. The LA Times reports that Exxon is running out of storage space for crude oil, and its transportation solution is the worst nightmare of Santa Barbara County officials. The company has asked permission to send eight 5,000-gallon tankers up and down the highway each day to get its oil to the rest of California. Pipelines are considered the safest method, even after the 100,000-gallon spill. Any rethinking on that?

Job growth on the up and up

at 12:13pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

NPR says  the U.S. economy was bolstered by an additional 280,000 jobs in May, which beats economists’ predictions of 226,000. Less good: Wages, grouped into broad categories in the latest report, have risen ever so slightly. And the unemployment rate rose ever so slightly to 5.5 percent, largely because more people entered the labor force last month. The strong hiring and a recent drop in layoffs are expected to bring the rate down over time.

Jury finds Monfort guilty of aggravated murder in officer's shooting

at 12:08pm by Joe Copeland

Christopher Monfort is guilty of aggravated first degree murder in the 2009 ambush slaying of Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brinton. Rejecting Monfort’s insanity defense, a King County jury read its conclusions this morning. Seattlepi.com’s Levi Pulkkinen notes that the jury, already serving since January, faces what is likely to be months of testimony during the trial’s death-penalty phase about Monfort’s difficult upbringing, troubled mental state and a burst of academic success that led to his winning a scholarship to the University of Washington.

Ports together about working together

at 11:55am by Joe Copeland

After meeting together in Auburn this morning, the port commissions of Seattle and Tacoma say they will seek federal approval for their plans to operate their cargo terminals jointly. Seattle commission Co-President Stephanie Bowman says the joint operations as the Northwest Seaport Alliance will “help provide our region with the solid economic base it needs for the coming decades.”

Eight of Malala's attackers acquitted

at 11:46am by Marissa Brent-Tookey

In a strange turn of events, only two of education rights activist Malala Yousafzai’s 10 attackers are in jail, BBC reports. A public prosecutor and other Pakistani officials said earlier this year that all 10 had been convicted and given 25-year prison sentences for the 2012 shooting of Yousafzai, who won the 2014 Nobel Prize. But the same officials now claim that this was misinformation spread by the media and that, in fact, eight were acquitted during the secret trial held without any press notification.

Portland gloats about its foodshed potential

at 10:33am by Marissa Brent-Tookey

Elliott Campbell, an environmental engineering professor at UC Merced, tells The Oregonian’s Molly Hartbarger about a study he conducted that suggests most coastal cities, including Seattle, have geographical limitations on how much they can truly do in terms of eating locally. But Portland and the rest of Oregon would be able to subsist on food grown within a 50-mile radius, he says.

In fact, many U.S. cities would be able to feed 100 percent of their population with local crops. The study only compares the amount of existing farmland with population density, and looks at historical trends in foodshed potential. He says what people eat could make or break a city’s self-sustainability, especially if their diet is heavy on meat.

New study highlights WA's yawning STEM gap

at 8:48am by Mary Bruno

GeekWire delivers the good news, and some troubling bad news contained in the recent report from Washington’s Technology Alliance. Good: Compared to 11 peer states, Washington has a greater percentage of people working in STEM fields (that’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Math); and 9.2 percent of the state’s jobs are STEM jobs, more than California (at 7.6 percent) and New York (5.1 percent). Bad: We rank 42nd when it comes to kids graduating high school on time; and despite all those tasty STEM jobs awaiting, we languish at 39th in the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded, and 34th in natural sciences and engineering.

Good weather, yes, but exactly how hot?

at 8:30am by Joe Copeland

With the weather looking good, Cliff Mass explores on his Weather Blog how various forecast services have about a 7 degree difference in their predicted highs this weekend. His tutorial says some all-computerized private services seem to be slightly more accurate than the National Weather Service and its staff of forecasters. Except when it may count most, as when conditions are changing rapidly. And, he notes, the Weather Service “provides the essential weather infrastructure for the private sector.” The current prediction from the National Weather Service?

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 7.58.56 AM

Bellevue High football coach suspended

at 8:12am by Mary Bruno

Butch Goncharoff, celebrated head coach of Bellevue High School’s football team, has been suspended — along with one assistant coach — and his team put on probation after investigators found evidence of illegal recruiting and other amateur sports no-nos. The Seattle Times broke the story. In 15 years as head coach, Goncharoff and his teams have claimed 11 state championships.

To slash car use, look to Vancouver?

at 7:50am by Joe Copeland

Canada’s largest West Coast city has cut its car use to half of all trips, according to Planetizen. Most of the change is due to land use policies and improvements for transit riders, pedestrians and bicyclists — with the biggest recent gains in the number of bike trips. A couple of payoffs beyond the environmental ones: one of the lowest traffic death rates in North America and the least household spending on transportation for any Canadian or U.S. city where data is available.

Because the decathlon would have been easier as a woman?

at 6:30am by Mark Matassa

vf jennerIn the wake of Olympian Bruce Jenner’s emergence this week as a woman, Caitlyn Jenner, thousands of petitioners are asking the International Olympic Committee to revoke the gold medal Jenner won in the 1976 Olympics. The Oregonian has the story and the full petition, which was organized on change.org. “It is only fair to all involved that women receive their credit as champions of the Decathalon [sic] and that the men racing Ms. Jenner are not expected to compete with a superior, streamlined being such as herself,” states the petition.

Snowden: The world says no to surveillance

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

snowden251_v-contentgrossAs Congress grapples with modifications to the Patriot Act, the man who first revealed the scope of U.S spying on its own citizens, Edward Snowden, reveals in a New York Times op-ed how tense he and other journalists were when reporting the story two years ago. They knew they were at risk for arrest or subpoena, but the bigger worry was that the public wouldn’t care. “Never have I been so grateful to have been so wrong,” Snowden writes. Not that the threat has disappeared. “As you read this online,” he says, “the United States government makes a note.”

A victory for the little pink pill

at 5:23am by Mark Matassa

From the What’s Good for the Gander Department, a federal panel has recommended approval of a drug that some are calling Viagra for women. The drug, flibanserin, is designed to help pre-menopausal women recover lost sexual desire. Some women’s groups applauded the recommendation as a victory for sexual equality, says The New York Times. The Food and Drug Administration, which has rejected flibanserin twice before, has until Aug. 18 to make a decision.

Chinese hack accounts of 4 million federal workers

at 5:02am by Mark Matassa

In what The Washington Post calls “the largest breach of federal employee data in recent years,” the government of China broke into the Office of Personnel Management in December. It’s the second hack of the agency, and this one comes after managers promised “an aggressive effort to upgrade our cybersecurity posture.”

The OPM intruders “gained access to information that included employees’ Social Security numbers, job assignments, performance ratings and training information, agency officials said,” according to the Post.

Thursday 4 Jun, 2015

Jeb Bush, candidate or not? Hillary may be hearing footsteps. Ok, Caitlyn, that was the easy part.

Allegations of doping under running coach Alberto Salazar

at 4:27pm by Cody Olsen

Two news groups are reporting allegations that Olympic silver medalist runner Galen Rupp and his coach at the Nike Oregon Project, Alberto Salazar, are involved with the use of performance enhancing substances. ProPublica and BBC interviewed former teammates and former assistant coach Steve Magness, alleging that coach Salazar encourages the use of substances like thyroid hormone and asthma medication, to give his athletes an edge. In 2013 Rupp was tested 28 times, which every test coming back negative.

ISIS 'moron' took selfie that led destruction of headquarters building

at 4:18pm by Robert LeCompte

An ISIS command center in Syria was recently destroyed by the U.S. Air Force after a member of the terrorist group posted a selfie to social media. In addition to the selfie, reports Newsweek, the man also bragged about the command and control capabilities of the headquarters. Less than 24 hours later, the same building was little more than a pile of rubble. General Hawk Carlisle, head of Air Combat Command, said, personnel were monitoring social media and “they see some moron standing at this command … bragging about the command and control capabilities.”

Pike/Pine may soon be getting pedestrian-only streets

at 4:14pm by Robert LeCompte

This August, the Capitol Hill Eco District (which is led by a public development authority) will give pedestrian-only streets at Pike/Pine a trial run. While an exact street has yet to be chosen for the test drive, Pike between Broadway and 11th and 10th and 11th between Pike and Pine are the top picks. The closure, reports Capitol Hill Seattle, is likely to occur at peak bar hours (about 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.) on a Friday or Saturday, during the Capitol Hill Arts Walk, or during the Broadway Farmer’s Market. If the trial run is a success, pedestrian-only streets in the area could become recurring events by next year.

WA apple company pays $2.25 million in civil penalties

at 11:21am by Harrison Lee

Broetje Orchards in Prescott paid $2.25 million to the federal government to settle allegations that it failed to adequately validate the eligibility of some of its employees to work in the U.S., according to Associated Press. Officials from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency found that as many as 950 of the company’s workers may have been ineligible to work in America. The company did not admit to any legal violations. 

Judge starting to make rulings on Oso lawsuits

at 11:09am by Joe Copeland

A King County judge has begun sorting through what issues plaintiffs can raise in lawsuits over the Oso landslide disaster, The Herald of Everett reports. Judge Roger Rogoff said Snohomish County is immune from prosecution on some of its flood-control actions along the North Fork Stillaguamish River but can be sued over how it communicated about its actions to residents, who may have misunderstood the dangers of more slides. Besides the county, the defendants also include the state of Washington and a logging company. The state wants the start of the trial to be in June of next year, but Rogoff hasn’t ruled on that request.

Sold: Another family newspaper

at 8:48am by Joe Copeland

A publicly traded publishing firm is buying the Columbus Dispatch, what the Cleveland Plain Dealer calls “one of the few remaining metro-sized newspapers in the United States that was family owned.” The Dispatch’s publisher told readers, “We concluded the paper’s future success is most enhanced within a newspaper company that has both regional and national reach, as well as strong marketing and digital operations, providing the economies of scale essential for optimum efficiency.” Presumably, the Seattle Times, which has a much richer journalistic history, still has some additional room for independent operation in a larger market.

Times masthead (1)

Vanishing: Affordable housing on Eastside

at 8:00am by Mary Bruno

In what is fast becoming an all too familiar refrain, Eastside housing advocates are warning that affordable housing is evaporating as the cost to rent or buy keeps escalating. Eastside home prices now average $772,000, reports the Seattle Times. Renters, prepare to pay, on average, $1,500 a month. Sound familiar, Seattle?

Rick Perry running for president - again

at 7:25am by Mary Bruno

After fumbling his first presidential bid (by, for example, not being able to recall the third of the three federal agencies he vowed to abolish if elected in a nationally televised debate), former Texas governor Rick Perry is back for another go. Perry announced his rerun for the White House on Thursday. For more, check out The New York Times.

OK, Caitlyn, that was the easy part

at 6:10am by Mark Matassa

Jon Stewart, in his inimitable way, reviews the coverage of the former Bruce Jenner’s coming out as a woman by focusing on the comments about her looks, her comparative hotness versus Kim Kardashian and her advancing age. “Welcome to being a woman in America,” Stewart says.

 

Mariners trade for Trumbo

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

After losing five games in a row, including a three-game sweep by the Yankees at Safeco, the Ms on Wednesday acquired the sometimes power-hitting Mark Trumbo from the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of a six-player trade. General Manager Jack Zduriencik said in a Seattle Times report that Trumbo could play outfield, first base and designated hitter and give the team some pop in the middle of the lineup. Stop smirking.

Hillary may be hearing footsteps

at 5:10am by Mark Matassa

Lincoln Chaffee at Brown UniversityUnlike Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton has made no secret of her campaign. And for a long time she has been not only the presumed Democratic nominee but the only Dem in the race. Now that several others have declared, says The Washington Post, Clinton’s poll numbers are softening, and her opponents are pouncing. Latest to enter is Lincoln Chaffee, former Rhode Island governor and senator, who launched his campaign Wednesday with attacks on Clinton’s “hawkish foreign policy record,” as the Post describes it.

Jeb Bush, candidate or not?

at 5:02am by Mark Matassa

RNS-CATHOLIC-GOPEveryone knows he’s running, right? But the former Florida governor, whom some consider the leading contender for the Republican presidential nomination, hasn’t officially declared yet. And that, notes The New York Times, has allowed Bush to rack up millions of dollars in campaign contributions, crisscross the country making campaign speeches and putting together a killer campaign team, all outside the federal restrictions on campaigns. For a candidate to avoid restrictions by simply not declaring his candidacy, said a former member of the Federal Elections Commission, “makes a mockery of the law.”

Wednesday 3 Jun, 2015

A change in government's vast surveillance powers. Big payday may be coming for Russell Wilson. Keep your day job, Huck.

Attack of the Amazon 'Minions'

at 4:00pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

Little yellow creatures in overalls are landing on doorsteps across the country. Amazon started shipping out a batch of eye-catching packages last Wednesday to advertise the animated movie Minions, an upcoming spinoff on 2010’s Despicable Me. It marks Amazon’s first foray into this type of advertisement, as the company has previously only promoted its own products on packaging. GeekWire brings us a sampling of consumer responses to the campaign (some surprisingly favorable) as found on Twitter. Minions will be released July 10th in the U.S.

Scrutiny for H-1B visa, as Disney replaces hundreds of tech workers

at 1:02pm by Drew Atkins

All is not sunny at the Magic Kingdom. Disney is under fire today in the New York Times, which reports that H-1B visas are being used to replace hundreds of American tech workers at their Florida park with lower-paid substitutes. In many cases, the fired workers are being forced to train their replacements, a humiliating experience that probably explains why they’re now leaking documents to the Times.

Technically, these visas are intended for foreigners to fill jobs for which there are no Americans to be found with the requisite skills. Their use should not exert downward pressure on worker wages and working conditions. However, companies are often under no firm obligation to prove they are meeting these guidelines, particularly as many of these visaed workers are simply employed through the local subsidiaries of foreign outsourcing agencies. With Puget Sound serving as a hub for many of these temporary workers in the tech industry, the debate over the proper use of these visas – and any additional new federal regulations regarding them – could end up having a substantial effect close to home.

Business booming for wearable tech

at 1:02pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

Credit: Flickr user Kārlis Dambrāns
Fitbit  Credit: Flickr user Kārlis Dambrāns

The LA Times gives us a taste of the boom in wearable devices, from International Data Corporation. “The Apple Watch will likely become the device that other wearables will be measured against, fairly or not,” says IDC research manager Ramon Llamas. Fitbit is the top seller for now, though, in an overall market of 11.8 million wearable devices sold in the first quarter, up 200 percent from Q1 2014.

State treasurer riled over bill to cut tuition

at 12:51pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

State Treasurer James McIntire claims that a bill to cut Washington college tuition by 25 percent could harm investors in the Guaranteed Education Program, the Seattle Times reports. GET is a state-run program selling units of tuition that keep their value even as tuition costs increase. McIntire, who is also a GET Committee member, addressed Gov. Jay Inslee and others in a letter that warns a Senate bill on lowering tuition could expose the state to “additional liability” with investors.

Whooping cough rising fast

at 12:02pm by Harrison Lee

KING 5 reports that this year there have been more than 600 cases of whooping cough, a huge rise from the 120 cases that were reported this time last year. Doctors are recommending vaccinations, especially for children, who make up 80 percent of the patients with whooping cough.

One pediatrician, Dr. Wendy Swanson, tells KING the rise whooping cough might be related to a change in the vaccine that occurred 20 years ago. Swanson says the more recent formulation might lose effectiveness sooner than the old one. Swanson also recommends that pregnant women receive a booster shot during their third trimester in order to “pass the immunity on to the baby.”

Anthrax takes a quick trip to Seattle; no exposures

at 11:07am by Marissa Brent-Tookey

Following last week’s revelation that labs in Australia, South Korea and several U.S. states received samples of possibly live anthrax by mistake, the Pentagon says one shipment was recently sent to a Seattle lab as well. InBios International was warned of the slip-up and did not open it, but instead returned it to the Utah army facility that shipped it, according to KUOW’s Patricia Murphy. The Pentagon today upped the list of labs that received shipments to 51, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Port Angeles: Best Town Ever?

at 10:46am by Joe Copeland

It’s down to the final day and a half of Outside magazine’s annual Best Town Ever contest, and Port Angeles is one of two finalists from a field of 64.  It got into the tournament based on the magazine’s assessment of “places with great access to trails and public lands, thriving restaurants and neighborhoods, and, of course, a good beer scene.” Port Angeles has plowed through the Western competition (including Bainbridge) to face Chattannooga, Tennessee. It looks like Chatta-whatever has a slim lead, but voting continues through the end of the day Thursday.

Post-game downtown Seattle frights for visitors

at 9:00am by Joe Copeland

Sports Illustrated writer Peter King’s column on Monday mentions a family visit to Seattle with his wife and attending a Mariners game. It won’t surprise anyone who, say, was followed nearly a half-block by a panhandler following Tuesday’s loss to the Yankees:

“After the game, we walked 1.1 miles from Safeco Field to our hotel in the city. Man, that was one scary walk. To say aggressive panhandling in that city is rampant is an understatement — I guess particularly after night baseball games, when there are folks walking back to their hotels in a good area of the city. We gave three times, and after that, we just put our heads down and got back to the hotel.

“Craziest thing to me: On a brisk 15- to 18-minute walk from a huge sports facility in a major American city to a hotel in a lovely downtown area, we saw zero police officers.”

But we pride ourselves, it seems, on having so many fewer officers than other cities, right?

Council hosts public hearing on Move Seattle levy

at 8:30am by David Kroman

More than 100 people showed up in council chambers at City Hall Tuesday night to weigh in on the $930 million Move Seattle transportation levy. As it’s currently written, the levy would more than double the current property taxes imposed by the Bridging the Gap transportation levy expiring next year.

The crowd was largely supportive of the levy. Some said they believed the already large proposal was not adequate. Others, including Martin Westerman of the West Seattle Transportation Committee, thought the city should consider Councilmember Nick Licata’s proposal to reduce the amount of the levy dependent on property tax hikes. No one said transportation in Seattle didn’t need fixing.

Next week, the council will consider possible amendments to the mayor’s proposal.

Airliners to face emissions rules

at 7:58am by Joe Copeland

The New York Times reports that the EPA is close to issuing a finding that will lead to emissions rules on airplanes. As early as Friday, the agency will formally conclude that airliners’ emissions contribute to global warming, a ruling that will require regulations to reduce the problem. The paper says the EPA believes airplane manufacturers will then innovate to meet the requirements. How about that, Boeing?

Congress dials back federal spying

at 7:28am by Mary Bruno

With the Senate vote on Tuesday to end the government’s mass collection of private phone records, Congress rolled back “the sweeping intelligence-gathering powers it granted national security officials after the 9/11 terrorist attacks,” reports the Washington Post. The new bill, the USA Freedom Act, passed by a 67-to-32, just two years after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents detailing the program’s scope. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a vocal opponent of federal spy creep, was happy with the new restrictions. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was not. President Obama signed the bill into law on Tuesday night.

As for Edward Snowden, he commented in a live Q&A hosted by Amnesty International that “it is meaningful, it’s important, and actually historic, that this has been repudiated not just by the courts, but by Congress as well, and the president himself is saying that this mass surveillance program has to end.”

It’s gettin’ real in the Costco parking lot

at 6:16am by Mark Matassa

In a surprise for anyone who secretly shops there for the hot dogs out front, Costco apparently has passed Whole Foods as the nation’s leading organic grocer. The Seattle Times says new earnings reports show the warehouse club sold more than $4 billion in organic products – exceeding both the chain’s $3 billion sales in the previous year and Whole Foods’ reported $3.6 billion. Maybe DJDave will rethink his Whole Foods vid.

Keep your day job, Huck

at 6:06am by Mark Matassa

Mike HuckabeeWith impeccably terrible timing, right-wing presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has been joking about how he wishes he could have pretended to be transgender in high school “when it came time to take showers in PE.” Oh, ha ha ha, hee hee hee. “I’m not against anybody,” Huck continued. “I’d just like for somebody to bring their brain to work someday and not leave it on the bed stand when they show up at work to govern.” Now there’s an idea. Buzzfeed has the story and the video.

Big payday may be coming for Russell Wilson

at 5:11am by Mark Matassa

Russell_Wilson_vs_Jets_November_11_2012.jpgThe Seahawks star hasn’t made big demands about renegotiating his contract, which has one year remaining, only saying that he’d like to stay in Seattle. But now that Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has signed a five-year deal worth $103.8 million, Seattle Times columnist Bob Condotta speculates that there’s no way the Hawks could get away cheaper than the Panthers, and that there will be even more pressure on the team to reach a long-term deal with Wilson.

Tuesday 2 Jun, 2015

Huge cruise ship disaster on Yangtze. Welcome, Caitlyn Jenner. Bad night for the King.

Seattle is the most well-read city in America

at 3:55pm by Robert LeCompte

Amazon just revealed their annual list, The Most Well-Read Cities in America, and Seattle takes the No. 1 spot, after finishing fourth a year ago. Not only did Seattleites purchase the highest amount of books in the country but we also bought more Kindle books, magazines and newspapers than any other city in the U.S. Taking the number two spot is our neighbor down south, Portland. So not only can residents of the Pacific Northwest read, we like doing it too. Outside Portland, Vancouver was in the top 20 the past two years, but fell off this year. Maybe everyone there has finished reading about the city’s most famous fictional coed and her Fifty Shades adventures? You can check out the full 2015 list on Amazon.

Hong Kong group buys Columbia Center?

at 3:09pm by Mary Bruno

Columbia Tower
Credit: Flickr user Simone Brunozzi

The Puget Sound Business Journal is reporting that the trade publication Real Estate Alert is reporting that “Asian investors led by Hong Kong-based Gaw Capital” are buying Seattle’s Columbia Center for $725 million. According to Real Capital Analytics, writes the Journal, “Chinese investment in Puget Sound area commercial property more than doubled to $62.8 million from 2013 to 2014 …” At 76 stories, the Columbia Center is the Northwest’s tallest building.

 

Licata introduces alt funding for Move Seattle

at 2:03pm by David Kroman

Councilmember Nick Licata introduced an amendment to the $930 million Move Seattle transportation levy Tuesday, to be voted on in the transportation committee meeting next week. The amendment would reduce the size of the property tax levy to $600 million and fund the remaining $330 million through a 5 percent commercial parking tax and $18 employee tax. It would also impose impact fees on future development — essentially requiring developers to contribute money for transportation projects.

Licata suggested these changes in a blog post last week, although correspondence between him and Mayor Murray suggest he has been considering the amendment since April. In a letter to Licata, Murray said impact fees would be relatively modest and could only be used for investing in streets and roads. He also said he preferred to preserve the option of commercial parking tax for future projects, such as replacing the Ballard Bridge.

U.S. military to lease and level Pagan Island

at 2:00pm by Robert LeCompte

The Pentagon wants to lease Pagan Island from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands — a chain  between Hawaii and the Philippines — for amphibious training. The exercises, reports Huffington Post, include live-firing guns and mortars, B-52 bombing runs and fun with drones, helicopters and fighter jets. The lease could pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the island chain’s struggling economy, but the war games would essentially turn the island “into a wasteland,” argues Jerome Aldan, mayor of the Northern Islands of the Commonwealth. Pagan Island is home to endangered fruit bats, a rare tree snail and several species of birds which are only found there. Tough and familiar choice for Mariana Island’s governor, Eloy Inos: jobs or the environment.

AP outs FBI for flying spy planes over U.S. cities

at 2:00pm by Amelia Havanec

The FBI is flying planes over U.S. cities to conduct video and cellphone surveillance, according to the Associated Press. Fly-over cities include Seattle, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Baltimore and Anaheim. The AP says it traced the FBI aircraft to “at least 13 fake companies, such as FVX Research, KQM Aviation, NBR Aviation and PXW Services.”

The FBI claims its surveillance flights are used for specific investigations, but they are occurring without a judge’s approval and raise questions about government spying and civil liberties. Some FBI aircraft can track thousands of people on the ground via their cell phones, even when not in use. This latest security revelation comes amidst ongoing and heated debate in Congress about how far government surveillance can and should go.

Amazon hires two Hollywood veterans

at 1:49pm by Robert LeCompte

As part of its ever-growing film and television department, Amazon has hired two Hollywood veterans for leading roles in the company’s development of original content. Albert Cheng, former digital chief at Disney/ABC’s Television Group, has been hired as the new COO of Amazon Studios and Bob Berney, who served as CEO of film distributor Picturehouse, will head the studios’ film distribution and marketing, reports GeekWire. Given Amazon’s plans to release a dozen or so movies a year, the company will need all the industry experience it can get.

TSA fail

at 12:27pm by Robert LeCompte

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently put its Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to the test by having undercover “red teams” try to smuggle weapons through airport security checkpoints. In 67 out of the 70 attempts, at dozens of airports across the country, the red teams were able to sneak weapons (both makeshift and otherwise) past TSA, reports ABC. In one instance a DHS investigator was stopped after he set off an alarm. Following a pat down he was waved through the checkpoint — with a fake bomb taped to his back.

But, hey, we’re not worried. In response to his agency’s dismal and potentially dangerous performance, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson “immediately directed TSA to implement a series of actions … to address the issues raised,” according to the DHS.

Elizabeth Warren rant goes viral

at 11:19am by Robert LeCompte

At a recent Re/code conference, Sen. Elizabeth Warren went on a tear that turned into her most watched video ever. In the short clip, Warren, responding to a question, waxes passionately about politicians who only serve the wealthy, and then, referencing Network’s famous “mad as hell” line, incites her audience to demand change. Vox has a really good analysis of the points Warren makes.

If states were countries map

at 10:20am by Mary Bruno

If states were countries, Washington would be the United Arab Emirates
Credit: Mark Perry, American Enterprise Institute

This map, from economist Mark Perry, who runs the Carpe Diem blog at the American Enterprise Institute, associates each U.S. state with a country whose economy is roughly the same size: California and Brazil, Texas and Australia, New Jersey and Poland, Washington and the United Arab Emirates.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter quits

at 10:06am by David Kroman

Amid corruption and scandal in the ranks of the worldwide soccer organization FIFA, controversial president Sepp Blatter will resign, reports the New York Times.

Pamela Banks takes swipe at Sawant

at 8:15am by Mary Bruno

pam banksPamela Banks, who is battling Kshama Sawant for Seattle’s up-for-grabs District 3 council seat, slipped off the gloves on Monday when she slammed her opponent for missing a transportation committee meeting in favor of a junket to New York City. According to The Seattle Times, Sawant traveled to New York last weekend to take part in a political conference at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and speak at a campaign fundraiser. “Actions speak louder than words — even for someone who speaks as noisily as Sawant,” said Banks said in a press release. “She can talk a good game about equity, but you can’t make an impact for the people of Seattle when you’re raising money in Manhattan.” Ouch.

Computer glitch delays United flights

at 8:12am by Mary Bruno

And GeekWire’s John Cook is feeling the pain. “My Seattle-bound flight is now stuck on the tarmac at Washington D.C.’s Dulles airport,” reported Cook — at 6:30 Tuesday morning. “Our pilot had little information, simply telling passengers on the Boeing 737-900 that a computer glitch in Chicago caused the issue.”

A Federal Aviation Administration advisory blamed an automation issue for grounding United flights, according to the Washington Post, and referred inquiries to the airline. A United spokesperson explained, in an email: “United began delaying flights at approximately 8 a.m. [Central time] to ensure aircraft departed with proper dispatching information … “Flights are now departing and we are accommodating our customers to their destinations.” You’ll be home soon, John!

Bad night for the King

at 7:00am by Mark Matassa

Hernandez_Felix1.jpgMaybe the one thing Seattle baseball fans have been able to count on this year is that every five days “King” Felix Hernandez would take the mound and blow away the opponents. But Monday’s Mariners game against the Yankees was very un-King like – a 7-2 loss in which Felix gave up all the Yanks’ runs. Didn’t help, says Seattle Times columnist Larry Stone, that the winning pitcher was Michael Pineda, the former Mariner traded away for a failed catcher. Ugh.

Microsoft leaving office space in downtown Bellevue

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

Company officials were not available for comment on the Puget Sound Business Journal report that the tech giant is leaving six floors at the Bravern campus, as well as a smaller parcel in Seattle’s South Lake Union area. The Business Journal casts the news as “another blow to downtown Bellevue, which recently learned that Expedia would be moving its headquarters to Seattle.”

Welcome, Caitlyn Jenner!

at 5:30am by Mark Matassa

vf jennerIt’s been no secret that one-time Olympics star and Wheaties cereal box icon Bruce Jenner was undergoing surgery and other treatments to become a woman. But the full picture broke on Monday, when Vanity Fair released the cover of its new issue — an Annie Leibovitz shot of a stunning woman with long brown hair, wearing a white negligee and displaying an Olympian body. “Call me Caitlyn,” says the cover.

In Vanity Fair’s preview of its 22-page story, which hits the newsstands next Tuesday, Caitlyn tells Pulitzer Prize-winning author Buzz Bissinger that until coming out as a woman her whole life has been about lies. “She even describes doing public appearances after winning the gold medal, where ‘underneath my suit I have a bra and panty hose and this and that and thinking to myself, They know nothing about me. … Little did they know I was totally empty inside.’ Caitlyn, she says, ‘doesn’t have any lies.’

The coming-out story “just broke the Internet,” reported the Washington Post, with not much exaggeration. In just over four hours on Monday, the Post says, Jenner set a new record for the fastest time to reach 1 million Twitter followers. Previous record holder: President Obama, in May, when he opened @POTUS.

Huge cruise-ship disaster on Yangtze River

at 5:02am by Mark Matassa

A cruise carrying mostly elderly people in Central China capsized, killing at least five with most of the 456 passengers and crew missing 12 hours after the incident. As of Tuesday morning, local China time, the four-story cruise vessel remained upside-down in the river and only 13 people had been rescued. The BBC has the story.

Monday 1 Jun, 2015

Mr. Rand Goes to Washington. Cops are fatally shooting people at record pace. Westneat on new smoking ban: ‘creepy.’

If you're just expressing yourself, expounding violent ideas on Facebook may be OK

at 3:21pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

He didn’t mean any of it; it was all “therapeutic.” Associated Press reports that Pennsylvanian Anthony Elonis made those arguments in a U.S. Supreme Court case that overturned his conviction for making threats on Facebook. Prosecutors said his Facebook posts — directed at his wife, coworkers and even a kindergarten class — would be threatening to a reasonable person. Elonis declared online that, as long as he intended his posts to simply be expression or art, he had a constitutional right to make statements like one questioning whether a court’s protection order issued to his wife could protect her from a bullet. In the end, his fate didn’t rest on freedom of expression. The U.S. Supreme Court decided that Elonis had no criminal intent or “awareness of some wrongdoing,” so it overturned the conviction.

Wolf Haven moves closer to global accreditation

at 2:41pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

A gray wolf. Credit: Eric Kilby
Credit: Flickr user Eric Kilby

Wolf Haven, a sanctuary near Offut Lake that is home to 50 wolves, is making adjustments for the well-being of its residents: The sanctuary was previously open to walk-in visitors, but the Olympian reports that appointments are now required. This is expected to help maintain a stable environment for the animals and will also help tour programmers tailor the experience to different groups.

While already accredited by the American Sanctuary Association, the new rules take it one step closer to getting approval from the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. All but one of the wolves was born in captivity; before coming to Wolf Haven, some were kept as pets (which is illegal in Washington state).

Former top golfer stops by Pierce County course

at 2:33pm by Joe Copeland

Tiger Woods, who ruled golf for a number of years, drew cheers from onlookers with an outstanding tee shot on the ninth hole at the Chambers Bay golf course, The News Tribune of Tacoma reports. Woods arrived in a dark SUV for his practice round at the site of this month’s U.S. Open. His last major victory, the story notes, was at an Open in La Jolla, Calif. — in 2008.

'The Grand Overlook Hotel'

at 2:20pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

It takes a special editor to make a special mashup. Today, that editor is Steve Ramsden, with his clever, kooky video merging Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. The trailer makes for a horror slapstick I’d certainly love to see fully produced.

 

Earthquakes off Oregon coast, no tsunamis

at 2:14pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

Several earthquakes struck near the Oregon coast late last night and early this morning, along a fault line between the Juan de Fuca and the Pacific plates, the Oregonian reports. The highest-magnitude temblor was 5.9, not strong enough to cause a tsunami. According to U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Paul Caruso, that would require a magnitude of at least 7.0. You can take a closer look at the earthquake sites with an interactive map on the USGS site.

Ferry reservations

at 2:04pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

San Juan Islands residents have some qualms about the pre-booking system that is facing its first full summer season of operations on the ferry routes between Anacortes and the islands. Released in tiers leading up to departure, reservations cover 90 percent of each ferry’s vehicle capacity. The Seattle Times followed up, finding some locals say their business has slowed or that there’s less flexibility when they need to leave the island in a hurry. But others are happy to see shorter queues. Officials promise a full-scale review this fall that will involve islanders.

Activists protest construction on UW animal testing facility

at 1:47pm by Harrison Lee

My Northwest reports that the construction has begun for a highly controversial animal testing facility at the University of Washington. This morning, in the most recent act of protest, two activists chained themselves to an excavator on the construction site.  On Friday, UW students rallied on campus and “swarmed the president’s office.”

 

FDA pressed to approve Viagra for women

at 12:00pm by Mary Bruno

“Women have waited long enough,” argues Even the Score in its fight to compel the Federal Drug Administration to approve a Viagra-like pill for women. The drug in question, flibanserin, was twice rejected by the F.D.A. on effectiveness v. side effects (sleepiness, dizziness, nausea) grounds, explains the Washington Post. The campaign to approve flibanserin is backed by the drug’s owner, Sprout Pharmaceutical, along with some women’s groups and the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals. The argument is gender bias: Sex meds for men = 25. Sex meds for women = 0. Where’s the fairness? Even the Score’s online petition has more than 40,000 signatures. The group also made this cheeky little video for the cause.

Shoes vs. pot

at 11:41am by Marissa Brent-Tookey

Angel’s Shoe Repair, owned by Ray Angel, will likely have to leave its spot on Capitol Hill at the end of June, KOMO News reports. The building’s owner is tripling the rent and already has a new tenant — a pot retailer looking to move in. If a shoe repair place sounds like something from another era, it is. Angel’s grandfather started the business 100 years ago, and there’s still a steady clientele who come to get soles repaired or keys copied. Friends are rallying to help Angel stay or, if necessary, relocate, by setting up a gofundme account. Neighbor Joyce Bittinger says, the owner will sometimes “shut down his shop to give people rides. He’s been known to give people little loans.” Will this kind of good old neighborly support save a good old neighborhood shop?

Lindsey Graham announces for president

at 10:32am by Mary Bruno

Lindsey Graham
Credit: Lindsey Graham for President

The veteran South Carolina senator joins a large and ever-growing field of Republican presidential hopefuls. His decision to seek the White House was prompted by his “fear that the world is ‘falling apart,’” notes The New York Times. Graham, 59, joins a roster of eight Republicans who have announced their candidacies and at least six others who haven’t but likely will. The Times has a nice chart to help you keep track.

Put a "data furnace" in your home

at 10:30am by Mary Bruno

Computer servers generate heat. Lots of it. Now, according to GeekWire, the Dutch company Nerdalize is installing some of those hot little servers in residential homes, a win-win arrangement that heats up houses and decentralizes cloud computing at the same time. The “data furnace” idea is homegrown, appearing in a Microsoft Research paper in 2011. Nerdalize ran with it. “The company’s eRadiators,” explains GeekWire, “push excess heat from its cloud-computing services into a radiator-like housing to warm homes and businesses.” And … “The company will reimburse homeowners for the electricity used to run the servers, meaning you could heat your house for free.”

Georgetown plant must control dust and other pollutants

at 10:00am by Mary Bruno

People living near East Marginal Way South and Ellis Avenue South in Georgetown have been complaining for months about burning eyes and sinuses, dust-covered cars and a funny taste in the air, reports The Seattle Times. Residents fingered nearby CDL Recycle as the cause and inspectors from Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) have now given plant operators 30 days to “submit a dust control plan that identifies sources [of irritants and dust] on the site and mitigation measures.” Georgetowners are understandably vigilant about industrial pollution. As the Times notes, a 2013 EPA-funded study found that people living in Georgetown’s 98108 zip code are at higher risk for pollution-related illnesses.

How much does it cost to rescue a drone?

at 8:37am by Mary Bruno

Drone caught in power lines above Lake Union's Mallard Cove
Dangling drone. Credit: Seattle City Light

Remember that drone that got snagged in power lines high above the houseboats in Lake Union’s Mallard Cove on Saturday? Well, rescuing it was one complicated and expensive operation. GeekWire reports that between re-routing electricity and renting special equipment Seattle City Light spent $35,000 to disentangle the drone. The pilot could always kick in a little of that cost — if we ever find out who was flying it.

Beau Biden dies of brain cancer

at 7:45am by Mary Bruno

Joseph Robinette Biden III, 46, the former attorney general of Delaware, leading candidate for Delaware governor in 2016 and oldest son of Vice President Joe Biden, died Saturday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. As The Washington Post put it, Joe Biden’s adult life “has now been bookended by tragedy.” Before he was sworn in as a U.S. Senator from Delaware in 1972, Biden lost his wife and baby daughter in a car crash. Beau Biden’s death comes in the wake of a poignant, personal commencement address the vice president gave at Yale University in mid May.

Westneat on new smoking ban: ‘creepy’

at 6:30am by Mark Matassa

121128_smoking_photo1.jpgSeattle’s new ban on smoking in city parks has Danny Westneat vexed. The Seattle Times columnist says he’s not that concerned with smoking or not smoking in the parks, but picking up on the observation of a reader, he declares the ban showcases a “creepiness to the new Seattle.” Used to be Seattle was a live-and-let-live kind of city, Westneat says. Now the city is more inclined to use rules of “de-normalization” — the idea of putting societal pressure on people to conform.

Cops fatally shooting people at record pace

at 6:01am by Mark Matassa

Just five months into 2015, police already have shot and killed nearly 400 Americans. That’s more than two deadly shootings a day, and about twice the rate of police shootings over the past decade, reports The Washington Post. The Post’s database shows that about half the victims were white, half minority. “But the demographics shifted sharply among the unarmed victims, two-thirds of whom were black or Hispanic.”

Although police are authorized to use deadly force only when they fear for their lives or the lives of others, the Post says, “So far, just three of the 385 fatal shootings have resulted in an officer being charged with a crime — less than 1 percent.”

“We have to get beyond what is legal and start focusing on what is preventable.” said Ronald L. Davis, a former police chief who heads the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. “Most are preventable.”

Fishing fight deepens despite law’s best intentions

at 5:20am by Mark Matassa

A fisherman shows off his large halibut catch.

Federal rules make a certain amount of sense: Big trawler fishing vessels can’t keep halibut caught up in their nets, because those fish traditionally have been restricted to hook-and-line fishers. The result though, is that the trawlers are required to dump their “bycatch” overboard, discarding an estimated 82 million pounds of dead or dying halibut over the past decade. “This is wanton waste,” a trawler skipper from Edmonds tells The Seattle Times. “We try to save every fish that is still alive — but those that are dead, we should be able to process.” The Times lays out the case on both sides in advance of a North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting this week in Alaska.

Mr. Paul Goes to Washington

at 5:02am by Mark Matassa

Sen. Rand Paul
Sen. Rand Paul

In developments that carried a faint echo of the classic Frank Capra/Jimmy Stewart movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Sen. Rand Paul delivered on his promise to block an extension of aspects of the Patriot Act, singlehandedly if need be. Parts of the act expired at 12:01 a.m. today despite an overwhelming vote in the House and majority support in the Senate for a version of the law opposed by Paul. As reported by The New York Times, Paul used Senate rules to stretch the vote beyond a deadline Sunday — directly opposing the wishes of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a fellow Kentucky Republican who has endorsed Paul for president.
The maneuver stops the U.S. government from sweeping up vast quantities of phone records in the name of hunting for terrorists. The Senate insisted it would approve compromise legislation this week that would stop the government’s bulk collection, but transfer that instead to phone companies. In one of the strange-bedfellow moments in this story, the Tea Party and the ACLU were in agreement, supporting Rand’s position.

Friday 29 May, 2015

No more smoking in Seattle parks. Rand Paul's smackdown video. Cue Olympia's second special session. Google's Hands Free payment system.

Ninth Circuit rules Idaho abortion restrictions unconstitutional

at 4:00pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

The Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruled Idaho’s ban on abortions — after 20 weeks or more weeks of gestation — unconstitutional. The case, explains NPR’s Bill Chappell, was brought by Jennie McCormack, who was arrested in 2011 after she used the RU-486 pill to end her own pregnancy. Though criminal charges against her were dropped, McCormack, a single mother of three at the time, filed a class action suit arguing that Idaho’s Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act violated the U.S. Constitution. Not only did Ninth Circuit judges rule against the 20-week limit, they also shot down the state’s requirement that all second-trimester abortions be performed in a hospital, as it “places an undue burden on a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion.”

Hackers block congressional IPs to protest surveillance

at 3:00pm by Mary Bruno

Screen shot 2015-05-29 at 11.44.25 AM
Credit: Fight for the Future

A group calling itself Fight for the Future arranged for 10,000 websites to block access for users coming from the U.S. Congress on Friday. The move was a protest against re-authorization of the National Security Agency’s controversial surveillance program. According to The Guardian, computers using congressional IP addresses were redirected to a site warning that the blackout will persist until Congress ends mass surveillance.

“Right now the code affects only visitors from Congress,” said Holmes Wilson, a co-founder of Fight for the Future. “We’re willing to keep it up … until either the USA Freedom Act is dramatically improved or dead, or until the Patriot Act provisions have sunset.” The U.S. Senate reopens debate on aspects of NSA surveillance on Sunday.

6.7 quake shakes Alaska coast

at 2:00pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

No reports of damage have emerged in the wake of the quake, which reports the U.S. Geological Survey was centered 61 miles northwest of Chirikof Island, and 400 miles southwest of Anchorage. According to the Herald, residents on nearby (and more densely populated) Kodiak Island felt the shaking for about a minute. The National Tsunami Warning Center sounded the all clear: no tsunami danger.

Amazon bringing 1,000 jobs and $1.1 billion to Ohio

at 1:49pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

All the key players were present for the announcement in Columbus this morning: Amazon’s Vice President for Global Public Policy, Paul Misener; Ohio Governor John Kasich; JobsOhio CEO John Minor. Ohio approved $81 million in tax incentives for Amazon’s subsidiary Vadata months ago. Amazon will spend $1.1 billion building data centers around suburban Ohio for its Web Services operations. “One of the reasons we came here was the workforce,” said Amazon’s Misener. Tweeting from the event, Ohio Statehouse Bureau Chief Karen Kasler said Gov. Kasich supported the deal “because I want a drone.”

 

B.C. petition tries to halt expansion of salmon farms

at 1:00pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

Salmon are one of the species most threatened by rises in water temperature, both at sea and in their spawning streams.

The Victoria Legislature heard a petition on Thursday to limit the expansion of salmon farms in British Columbia, reports the Vancouver Sun. The petition was signed by about 109,000 people and more than 100 representatives from businesses and environmental groups, as well as First Nation peoples. The campaign was launched in response to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s 2012 changes to the Fisheries Act, which allow salmon farms to expand farther into B.C. waters. Conservationists worry about the impact of the farms on wild salmon populations and on overall marine health.

Office of Labor Standards find its director

at 12:58pm by David Kroman

Dylan Orr of the U.S. Department of Labor will take the reins at Seattle’s Office of Labor Standards (OLS). Created last fall, the OLS is supposed to enforce the city’s new minimum wage ordinance. But the wage increase went into effect on April 1 and the office has been without a director. Until today. Finding the right candidate was difficult, says Office of Civil Rights’ director Patty Lally. Apparently,  Orr’s endorsement from U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez did the trick.

Apples hit dead end at Port

at 12:00pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

apple.jpgWashington apple farmers are composting three weeks’ worth of record crops because there’s no profitable way to ship them. According to the Seattle Times, the labor dispute with ports up and down the West Coast (finally resolved last week) slowed down exports, which left crates of fruit rotting on docks. About a third of Washington’s apples are exported each year, but this season other countries are meeting the world’s apple needs. The estimated loss to Washington’s apple growers is about $95 million. At least we don’t have to fret about the environmental impact of all that fruit dumped in central Washington fields. “These are apples,” said Todd Fryhover, president of the Washington State Apple Commission. “We’re not throwing our TVs out. They don’t harm the environment.”

Tim Egan spanks Jeb Bush over climate change

at 10:52am by Mary Bruno

Sure, Jeb fumbled the Iraq question — for a week — but his “real stunner,” according to the clearly vexed but ever articulate New York Times columnist was the way Jeb, and many of his Republican brethren, breezily sweep aside “the threat of megastorms, life-killing droughts, city-burying sea rises” and other climate change-related consequences and rail instead against the “arrogance” of the scientists sounding the alarm. “Why are Republicans still debating whether the house is on fire, when much of the rest of the world is ready to direct the fire hoses?” asks Egan, who concludes that “In addressing and assessing the great issues of the day, Jeb Bush has disqualified himself to lead.” Just as well, since he isn’t officially running for president anyway.

Former Speaker of the House Hastert indicted

at 9:30am by Mary Bruno

Former U.S. Representative J. Dennis Hastert was the longest-serving GOP Speaker of the House when he retired in 2007. On Thursday, reports the Washington Post, a federal grand jury indicted Hastert on charges that he “violated banking laws in a bid to pay $3.5 million to an unnamed person to cover up ‘past misconduct.’” He has also been accused of lying to federal investigators. Prosecutors allege that in 2010 Hastert agreed to hand over $3.5 million “to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against Individual A.” No details on the misconduct or the identity of A. Hastert, 73, is now a highly-paid D.C. lobbyist. If convicted, he faces 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

Rand Paul's smackdown video

at 9:00am by Mary Bruno

Channeling WWE bombast, a super PAC supporting U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s presidential aspirations has released this video spot promoting the “Brawl for Liberty” guaranteed to take place under the Capitol dome this Sunday over aspects of the Patriot Act — which Rand Paul has vowed to kill. The video features a lot of screeching eagles and shooting flames and swipes at Barack Obama and Paul’s Republican rivals like “The Capitulating Canadian,” Sen. Ted Cruz. Last week’s 11-hour filibuster by Paul and friends prompted the Senate to postpone a vote on the issue. But, the Washington Post reminds us, the Patriot Act is back on the agenda Sunday. “Get ready, America,” intones the video voiceover, “for the biggest brawl for liberty of the century!”

Google's Hands Free payment

at 8:07am by Mary Bruno

In the latest strategy to separate you from your money as quickly and painlessly as possible, Google gave attendees at a recent Google I/O session a sneak peek at an  “early prototype stage”  of its new, no-hands mobile payment system. Details are scarce, but the new method, which involves an app and a phrase (“I’d like to pay with Google”), will be tested in the years ahead at McDonald’s and Papa John’s franchises in the Bay Area.

“No longer forage through your pocket or your bag,” McDonald’s Chief Digital Officer Atif Rafiq told the Google I/O crowd. “… the app lets us verify that it’s you … It’s an entirely new level of convenience.” And security threat? Google, says GeekWire , addresses security on its website: “When you make a purchase, your full card details will not be shared with stores … We’ll also alert you to any unusual activity so you can go hands-free and be worry-free.”

 

An arrow to Rodney’s heart

at 7:34am by Mark Matassa

2014 07 11 Seattle Mariners, Oakland Athletics, MLB
Credit: Seattle Mariners

It’s gotten to the point that even The Seattle Times’ unfailingly thoughtful and fair sports columnist Larry Stone says it’s time to give Mariners closer Fernando Rodney the hook. Sure, Stone acknowledges, Rodney is still racking up some saves (and then showboatingly shooting his imaginary arrow into the sky), but his stats are bad and his scary near-misses in the ninth are giving fans a case of the willies. Manager Lloyd McClendon doesn’t want to make a change, but Stone says rookie Carson Smith, who has been great in short relief, should get a shot.

'For a Few Dollars More': The Olympia story?

at 7:00am by John Stang

Is the 1965 Clint Eastwood movie a metaphor for the Washington Legislature’s second 30-day special session on budget talks, which begins  Friday? In For a Few Dollars More two gunslingers face off. They squint and stare at each other. Sounds a lot like the past 30-day special session in Olympia where little got done. The gunfighters then start their showdown all over again until everything gets resolved. Sounds like the new special session. We hope.

The only problem with this comparison is that Senate Republicans and House Democrats need to compromise because neither side can blow the other away — not-so-secret fantasies about winner-take-all aside. And that is why, as Crosscut reported Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee has ordered budget negotiators from both sides to face off daily,  in his conference room, starting Monday.

Pre’s Trail, 40 years on

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

preToday, Friday, is the 40th anniversary of Steve Prefontaine’s final race (a typical first-place in the 5,000 meters) and, hours later, shortly after midnight, his fatal car crash in Eugene. Pre, who attended University of Oregon and never lost a race there, is largely responsible for Eugene’s  “Track Town USA” nickname. At one time he owned the American record in every event from 2,000 meters to 10,000 meters. He also helped popularize running in the 1970s, not to mention the Nike running shoes designed by his UO track coach Bill Bowerman. He’s honored in Eugene still by the wonderful running park known as “Pre’s Trail.” The Oregonian, drawing in part from the Register-Guard in Eugene and other sources, offers a fond tribute.

Portland grocery agrees to nearly $100k in back-pay

at 5:24am by Mark Matassa

After arguing for two years that its employees were exempt from overtime-pay requirements, Portland’s Supermercado Tapatia has agreed to make good on the back pay, $49,600, and another $49,600 in damages, reports The Oregonian.

No more smoking in Seattle parks

at 5:02am by Mark Matassa

121128_smoking_photo1.jpgSmokers still can light up in their own cars or homes, but anyone trying to take a quick drag or two in a Seattle park can just forget it. In a vote that was mainly symbolic, the Seattle Parks Board put its stamp on Mayor Ed Murray’s proposal to ban all smoking in city parks. As The Seattle Times reports, Murray didn’t technically need the board’s approval, since it is an advisory body. Murray said the ban will make the city’s parks healthier and more welcoming.

Thursday 28 May, 2015

Rick Santorum, in his own words. Seattle's C.D. losing its historic demographic.

George Pataki running for president

at 3:55pm by Robert LeCompte

George Pataki, former governor of New York, announced his candidacy for president today in New Hampshire, adding to an already crowded Republican field. In his announcement, NPR reports, Pataki focused on personal freedoms that he feels are being attacked by the federal government.

A certain sportswear firm could be involved in FIFA scandal

at 3:49pm by Robert LeCompte

Along with the 16 FIFA officials who have been named in the indictment thus far, there is also mention of an unnamed “major U.S. based sportswear company.” The indictment, reports The Washington Post, says that the sportswear company signed a 10-year, $160 million sponsorship deal with the Brazilian national team in 1996. What sportswear company made a similar deal with the Brazilian team that same year? If you guessed Nike, the Post notes, you’d be correct. The investigators believe that “marketing fees” involved in the deal were little more than bribes. Stock investors don’t seem too concerned though; Nike’s stock dropped by less than one percent following the allegations.

Neanderthal skull: World's first recorded murder?

at 3:38pm by Robert LeCompte

A team of archaeologists published a study in the scientific journal PLOS ONE detailing a 430,000-year-old Neanderthal skull that could belong to the victim of the world’s earliest recorded murder. The evidence revolves around 52 cranial fragments found near the skull and two penetrating wounds above the left eye. A CT scan showed that the wounds are the result of two different impacts from the same weapon at slightly different trajectories. The site where the skull was found, Sima de los Huesos (or, “Pit of Bones”) in Spain is also home to 27 other Neanderthal skeletons, which “may represent the earliest funerary behavior in the human fossil record,” says the study.

The skull belonging to a 430,000 year old possible murder victim. Credit: PLOS ONE
The skull belonging to a 430,000 year old possible murder victim. Credit: PLOS ONE

Ford opens its electric vehicle patents

at 12:59pm by Robert LeCompte

Ford says today that it will open the files on all of its patents and patent applications that are related to electric vehicles. Electrek reports this will allow anyone interested, including their competitors, to view the patents. “Innovation is our goal. … By sharing our research with other companies, we will accelerate the growth of electrified vehicle technology and deliver even better products to customers,” said Kevin Layden, director of Ford’s Electrification Programs. Those wishing to use the patents will still have to pay a fee.

What are your odds of being replaced by a machine?

at 12:53pm by Robert LeCompte

Researchers recently took a stab at estimating the likelihood of various jobs being able to be done by machines some time in the next 20 years. The worst odds belong to telemarketers. (Thankfully, reporters are pretty safe with just an 11 percent chance of it happening.) Interested in finding out how likely you are of being replaced by a robot? Head over to NPR to find out.

House Democratic group wants end to family detention

at 12:41pm by Robert LeCompte

Five Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Washington state — Reps. Suzan DelBene, Adam Smith, Rick Larsen, Jim McDermott and Derek Kilmer — joined 131 other House Democrats in calling on the Obama administration to end to the practice of family detention. “We believe it is undeniable that detention in a secure facility is detrimental to mothers and children and is not reflective of our values as a nation,” the group’s letter says. Prior to last Spring, reports The New York Times, refugees fleeing extreme gang violence in countries like Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras would be released on a bond while they awaited their asylum hearings. Instead, the refugees, including whole families, are now being placed in detention centers that sound an awful lot like prison. “We have the opportunity to do the right thing,” the letter says, “and are confident that DHS has the capacity to honor our Nation’s longstanding commitment both to the protection and well-being of refugee families and to law enforcement and public safety.”

Tony nominees perform for NYT

at 12:00pm by Mary Bruno

The New York Times terrific “In Performance” series presents songs by five 2015 Tony Award nominees, including Kristen Chenoweth, star of Best Musical candidate “In the 20th Century” and Sting with a full beard and a classical guitar doing an acoustic number from “The Last Ship.”

Car crash causes seven-mile backup on I5 this morning

at 10:59am by Harrison Lee

Two closed lanes on I-5 were still causing a backup late this morning, due to an accident. A car carrying four people  crashed through a guardrail and over an embankment near mid-Boeing Field, KOMO News reports. Three of the four people in the car were seriously injured. At about 8:10 a.m., state troopers and medics responded to the reports of an accident. The backup stretched as far as seven miles.traffic camera

Toxic shellfish found in Hood Canal

at 10:48am by Harrison Lee

The Kitsap Sun reports that shellfish harvesting in Hood Canal has been banned due to paralytic shellfish poisoning biotoxins that were found in a sample of Mussels from the Seabeck Marina. In response, the Kitsap Public Health District and the state Department of Health have barred the harvesting of oyster, clams, and mussels.

What will Seattle need in 2035?

at 10:09am by David Kroman

Over the next 20 years, Seattle can expect 120,000 new people and 115,000 new jobs in the metro area. Those estimates come straight out of City Hall and beg the question: How can the city prepare? That question is at the heart of Seattle 2035, the new comprehensive plan for the city. The document, which is labeled a draft environmental impact statement, was introduced Wednesday night at a public hearing. Expect further coverage of the plan starting this week on Crosscut.

Nebraska bans death penalty

at 8:00am by Mary Bruno

In a blow to Republican governor, Pete Ricketts, a death penalty devotee, Nebraska’s predominantly GOP legislature voted 30-to-19 on Wednesday to override the governor’s veto and roll back the state’s capital punishment law. The bipartisan vote, said The New York Times, made Nebraska “the first conservative state in more than 40 years to abolish the death penalty.”

House wants fewer standardized tests in high school

at 7:45am by Robert LeCompte

The Washington House of Representatives apparently agrees with students and teachers: There should be less standardized testing. A bill passed Wednesday (in a landslide vote of 87 to 7) would reduce the number of yearly tests in high school from seven to just three per year — math, English, and language arts — although a science assessment will be added sometime in the next two years.  Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-Snohomish, said, “We need to show students that they are more than just assessments.” HB-2214 is also estimated to save the state $30 million per biennium.

Amazon debuts same-day delivery

at 7:38am by Mary Bruno

Score one for instant gratification — that is, if you’re an Amazon Prime member. Geekwire reports that our favorite hometown e-tailer launched a free, same-day delivery service today (Thursday). The luxury of buying pet food or a GoPro in the morning and having it on your doorstep that afternoon is reserved for the Amazon Prime crowd ($99 a year for a Prime membership). The day-of program will be available in 500 U.S. metro areas, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Indianapolis, New York, LA and, of course, Seattle. Orders over $35 ship free. Order by noon if you want your item by 9 p.m.

Seattle’s C.D. losing its historic demographic

at 7:00am by Mark Matassa

Mt. Zion Baptist Church, a longtime stalwart in the C.D.
Mt. Zion Baptist Church, a longtime stalwart in the C.D.

In a sort of mea culpa, or at least a second look, Seattle Times “FYI Guy” columnist Gene Balk revisits his recent piece on the Central District as an affordable and convenient place to live. Uh-oh. As Balk confesses in a follow-up, that assessment went over none too well with the area’s African-American residents, who have lived there not for the “convenience,” as one woman puts it, but because there was no place else to live. Redlining by banks saw to that. Now, Balk says, the trend lines of gentrification predict the C.D. could be less than 10 percent black within a decade.

New council districts could hurt incumbents

at 5:30am by Mark Matassa

Tim Burgess.
Tim Burgess.
Jean Godden.
Jean Godden.

Supporters of the proposal to elect Seattle City Council members by district said it could shake up what has been an incumbent’s paradise. And sure enough, endorsement results coming in from state legislative district Democrats in the city are bearing that out. The Seattle Times reports that both Councilman Tim Burgess and Councilwoman Jean Godden have been passed over in many cases for fresh faces at the district level.

Rick Santorum, in his own words

at 5:05am by Mark Matassa

Some politicians don’t need analysts or opponents to mock their positions. They do just fine on their own. Here’s Rick Santorum, former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania and a declared Republican presidential candidate, speaking about the Islamic State, immigration, education and more, in a Washington Post video. “If these folks want to bring back a 7th century version of Islam,” says Santorum, “then my recommendation is, let’s load our bombers up and bomb them back to the 7th century!”

Wednesday 27 May, 2015

Multiple red cards for FIFA officials. Federal courts v. Obama. Here come the nerds, still.

Transportation budget passes

at 3:50pm by Robert LeCompte

The state House of Representatives today passed a new budget for transportation this afternoon to assure continued operations of vital services even if no larger budget deal is reached by the June 30 deadline. The measure passed easily, although several representatives objected that the final version was largely the work of just two members of the budget committee. Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, said, “Anybody can exercise power but in order to exercise authority you need legitimacy and legitimacy can only be obtained through democracy.” As the Spokesman-Review notes, the budget, which is likely to be approved by the Senate before Thursday’s end of a special legislative session, would assure pay for the state patrol and ferry workers even if a budget deadlock were to force a partial shutdown of state government in July. The measure doesn’t include a proposed gas tax for new projects, which could be passed later.

With an eye on Move Seattle, Licata considers future levies

at 3:20pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

Based on past voting trends, Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata is worried that voters may not pass Mayor Murray’s $930 million Move Seattle transportation levy. And with potential school district and housing levies in the pipeline, he’s not convinced Seattle would get a second crack at transportation. Therefore, he’s offering a diversified funding approach to make $930 million, or an amount close to it, more realistic.

He suggested Wednesday a tax on commercial parking along with a one cent per employee hour tax increase on businesses. This would decrease the mayor’s proposed property tax hike and, according to Licata, lighten the burden on property owners whose incomes haven’t quite caught up with rising property values.

Nick Licata
Nick Licata

Disney characters to become robots

at 3:04pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

Disney is making its beloved animated characters into robots, reports GeekWire. The robots would populate Disney theme parks and “allow people to physically interact with characters that they have only seen in films or TV,” say developers in a paper documenting the research process. They’re using 3D printing and servo motors to create an open-loop walking trajectory unique to the character. It’s a challenge — most characters are not designed with much regard to the feasibility of their motions, for instance, the researchers note — but  if successful, the work will surely be rewarded by the sight of millions of giddy children’s smiling faces.

 

 

 

FIFA officials indicted on corruption charges

at 1:15pm by Robert LeCompte

A federal indictment charges 14 officials of FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering. Two of those charged, Eugenio Figueredo and Jeffrey Webb, are acting vice presidents, reports The New York Times. “These individuals and organizations engaged in bribery to decide who would televise games, where the games would be held, and who would run the organization overseeing organized soccer worldwide,” said U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Ominously for FIFA, Kelly Curry, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York District Kelly Curry, said, “This is the beginning of our effort, not the end.”

Washington state senators really like the U.S. Open

at 1:03pm by Robert LeCompte

The first topic of discussion for the state Senate today was a resolution praising … the upcoming U.S. Open. The resolution passed unanimously, with Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, rather proudly declaring that the golf tournament has already sold 230,000 tickets and is expected to bring in at least $8 million in sales tax revenue alone. Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge, asked that legislators working on a state budget hurry up and finish their work so that the senators don’t have to work through the Open, June 18-21.

2 sides on Olympia shootings

at 12:24pm by Harrison Lee

Associated Press reports that the Olympia City Council extended the public comment period Tuesday evening, allowing concerned citizens to voice their opinions about the recent shooting of two stepbrothers. The room was pretty split. Some criticized Police Chief Ronnie Roberts for ruling out racism as a cause for the shooting. Others were in support of the police officer. “There are a lot of people in the community that really appreciate the risk he took and what he did,” said one citizen. Following the City Council meeting, roughly 100 demonstrators protested outside the Olympia City Hall holding signs that read “Black lives matter” and “Black youth is not disposable.”

Shifting school start times: Costly but worthwhile?

at 12:17pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

A 30-member task force has recommended that Seattle Public Schools flip elementary and high school start times so that elementary students begin the day earlier and high-schoolers later. This would be more in line with kids’ biological clocks, sleep, according to Dr. Maida Chen of Seattle Children’s Hospital.

But KING 5 says the district estimates a $15 million cost associated with changing the schedule, mostly transportation-related. There are other less-costly options, such as changing only the high school schedule. Superintendent Larry Nyland will announce a final recommendation in June — when we can expect quite a range of public reaction.

Indicted auditor paying lawyer with stolen money?

at 12:09pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

Federal prosecutors want a federal judge to look at whether Washington state Auditor Troy Kelley may have transferred $908,000 in stolen funds to his defense lawyer in March, according to the Seattle Times. A motion filed Tuesday also requests that Judge Ronald Leighton look at whether the transfer of the money could have created a conflict of interest for his attorney, Mark Bartlett. In April, Kelley entered a plea of innocent to charges of filing false tax returns, obstruction and possession of stolen property. The prosecutors suggest that money recently transferred to the law firm that is providing his legal representation and the IRS may have come from an account that ought to have been used to make refunds to clients.

Murray pitches new medical marijuana regulation

at 9:30am by David Kroman

Mayor Ed Murray proposed legislation Tuesday to close all medical marijuana dispensaries licensed after January 1st, 2013. Businesses that opened before 2013 could apply for a new marijuana business license, as created by state lawmakers last month. The effort, said Murray in a statement, would strengthen “the recreational marijuana market and create safer, more consistent access for those who rely on medicinal products.”

The proposal is expected to shutter 54 dispensaries, the mayor’s office said, and would crack down businesses that operate without a license, market products that may be appealing to children, or sell to people younger than 21 years old who do not qualify as a patient. The legislation would also prevent marijuana deliveries and selling untested products.

The effort to combine the parallel medical and recreational marijuana markets will go to the city council for approval.

Satya Nadella: 2015's Most Influential tech exec

at 8:30am by Mary Bruno

satya-nadella-microsoft-ceo.jpgSo says Jupiter Research, whose latest rankings put Nadella ahead of headline-grabbers like Jeff Bezos (#8) and Elon Musk (#9). For its annual ranking, Jupiter says it assesses “key criteria, including vision, innovation and personal capital.” Nadella got lots of points for shifting Microsoft from its traditional “OS-focused business model” to its new “Windows-as-a-Service” model. (And no penalties for suggesting that women techies forego asking for raises.) Joining Nadella in Jupiter’s Top Five are Jony Ive, Apple Senior VP of Design; Min-Liang Tan, Razer co-founder and CEO; Uber CEO Travis Kalanick; and Reed Hastings,  Netflix co-founder and CEO.

 

IRS hacked

at 8:00am by Mary Bruno

A sophisticated group managed to breach internet security at the Internal Revenue Service this spring, scooping up personal info on 104,000 taxpayers, including several years’ worth of returns, according to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Data robbers entered through the agency’s “Get Transcript” system, which lets taxpayers see past returns. According to the Washington Post, hackers outsmarted the security screen that requires entering your Social Security number, date of birth, address and filing status. The IRS will let you know if your personal information has been compromised.

Hutch opens research center in Uganda

at 7:36am by Mary Bruno

Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has set up shop in Uganda. “Throughout the developing world, cancer kills more people than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined,” reports The Seattle Times. “But cancer programs get far less support.” Hutch researchers hope to change that. In partnership with the Uganda Cancer Institute the Hutch will invest $10 million in a state-of-the-art treatment and research complex in Kampala, which will specialize in the types of cancers caused by viral infections.

Dammit, Jim, I’m a doctor, not a Wookie

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

Sci-Fi geeks must be beside themselves with the “release” of a trailer for “The Carbonite Maneuver,” a new movie combining the galaxies of “Star Trek” and “Star Wars.” Alas, it’s not a real movie but a creative mashup by YouTube user SonOfSpock, whose trailer is shared by The Oregonian, with a hat tip to Nerdist. “Legends will unite, and galaxies will clash,” the faux trailer promises.

Here come the nerds, still

at 5:45am by Mark Matassa

South Lake Union is developing rapidly.
South Lake Union is developing rapidly.

As if Seattle isn’t changing enough with Amazoners taking over South Lake Union, now come hordes of Silicon Valley techies, reports Puget Sound Business Journal. New stats from Redfin show “the number of people from the Bay Area looking for homes in Seattle has quadrupled in four years.” Evidence, says the Business Journal, of the strength of Seattle’s tech boom. Also Bay Area housing prices.

Federal Courts v. Obama

at 5:16am by Mark Matassa

President Barack Obama signed health-care legislation in 2010  with 11-year-old Marcelas Owens of Seattle, left, looking on.
Obama signed health-care legislation with 11-year-old Marcelas Owens of Seattle looking on.

The news Tuesday that a federal appeals court stopped one of the president’s signature immigration policies leads The Washington Post to ponder whether Obama’s legacy may rest in the courts. On several issues now – same-sex marriage, Obamacare, climate change and now immigration – the president’s initiatives are in the hands of the justice system.

Multiple red cards for FIFA officials

at 5:03am by Mark Matassa

After decades of rumors and suspicions, leaders of the worldwide soccer organization FIFA were arrested in Switzerland early Wednesday on federal corruption charges. They will be extradicted to the United States. The New York Times reports that the charges are for widespread corruption over the past two decades, “involving bids for World Cups as well as marketing and broadcast deals, according to three law enforcement officials with direct knowledge of the case. The charges include wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering, and officials said they targeted members of FIFA’s powerful executive committee, which wields enormous power and does its business largely in secret.”

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