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Monday 15 Jun, 2015

U.S. airstrike in Libya. For a while, she passed as black. Correction of the day (yes sir, yes sir).

California, Massachusetts lead WA in life science funding

at 2:53pm by Amelia Havanec

Washington-based life science companies may be prospering, but federal funding for the industry here pales in comparison to what those in California or Massachusetts take home. The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that early-stage life science companies raked in $9.3 million last year from two federal grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), just 11% and 21% of what California and Massachusetts raked in from the same programs, respectively.The NIH has a reputation for being one of the largest sources of capital for the research these small companies conduct. Venture funding toward local biotech companies is also trailing behind.

Meet three new dog breeds

at 2:22pm by Alex Cnossen

The American Kennel Club is welcoming its three newest breeds today: the lagotto Romagnolo, the berger Picardo and the miniature American Shepard. The berger Picard, which hails from France, and the miniature American Shepard join the herding group. The berger Picard is a medium-sized dog with lots of energy — it requires daily exercise and mental stimulation. The miniature American Shepard has a smaller build and is fiercely loyal and eager to please. The Lagotto Romagnolo comes from Italy and joins the sporting group. It is the only purebred dog recognized as a specialized truffle searcher (not to mention being good with kids).

Wildfires a threat to Western Washington

at 2:16pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

Following a moss-fueled fire in North Bend Sunday, state forest and fire service officials are predicting that Western Washington will experience more wildfires than usual this summer. Washington State Forester Aaron Everett tells KOMO News “the risk of westside wildfires — given that warm, dry spring — is significant.” Dave McDaniel, a firefighter with Eastside Fire and Rescue, emphasizes that it’s not just rural landowners who need to be cautious. “We’re concerned about the urban interface,” he says, “where houses are really pushed into trees.” That’s a concept Eastern Washington’s cities and towns will find familiar.

King County’s fire danger is currently rated as “moderate,” but there is no burn ban in place.

E3 2015: Microsoft unveils biggest gaming news of the year

at 1:53pm by Amelia Havanec

This morning at the world’s premier video game gala, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Microsoft announced that the Xbox One will finally be compatible with games from its predecessor, the Xbox 360. Microsoft also demoed a Minecraft game built specifically for their HoloLens device, an augmented reality headset that floats 3D images into real-world environments. It looks crazy.

Every year Microsoft uses E3 as a stage to announce its biggest gaming developments, premiering Xbox One there in 2013. In addition to the aforementioned news, this year they also announced the latest titles in the Halo, Gears of War, and Tomb Raider franchises, as well as a next generation Xbox controller.

Bigger, better ferry now serves Anacortes/San Juans

at 1:40pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

Samish ferry under construction in January 2014 Credit: Flickr user compdude787
Samish ferry under construction in January 2014 Credit: Flickr user compdude787

The Samish, a new 144-car ferry, was greeted with a celebratory atmosphere at Friday Harbor on Sunday. According to KING 5, it’s the second of three passenger ships meant to replace the 1950s-era Evergreen State Class ferries, which WSDOT says carry no more than 87 vehicles and are “approaching the end of their service lives.” In fact, 10 of Washington’s 22 ferries must be replaced within the next 20 years. The Samish has improved safety features, more seats, and more environmentally-friendly engines.

Zoo animals roam the streets after torrential flooding

at 1:29pm by Alex Cnossen

At least 12 people are dead and 24 people missing in Tbilisi, Georgia following a weekend of heavy flooding, the New York Times reports.
Authorities urged residents to stay indoors after an unknown number of lions, hippos, bears and other wild animals escaped to roam the streets. The Daily Mail is reporting that some bears, wolves and tigers had been shot or died, but authorities were still trying to find out about three other tigers, four lions and a jaguar that escaped. A hippo was safely returned to the zoo after being tranquilized.

Snohomish County farmland will become salmon habitat

at 1:19pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

Juvenile Chinook salmon Credit: Roger Tabor  (USFWS)
Juvenile Chinook salmon Credit: Roger Tabor (USFWS)

The Smith Island Restoration Project, comprising 400 acres of the Snohomish River basin near Everett, is expected to break ground in August. According to the Herald, the project will consist of tearing down existing dikes that have been blocking channels of the river, and building a new dike and drainage system. The hope is to rebuild a largely wiped-out estuary to revitalize the chinook salmon population.

CVS Health pays $1.9 billion for Target pharmacies, clinics

at 12:31pm by Alex Cnossen

CVS Health signed a $1.9 billion agreement today to acquire, re-brand and operate Target’s roughly 1,700 pharmacies and clinics businesses, according to a Target press release.

CVS will operate the 1,660 pharmacies across 47 states through a store-within-a-store format branded as CVS pharmacies. Target’s nearly 80 clinics will be renamed MinuteClincs. CVS said the deal will help expand its presence in Seattle and Portland.

Mike O'Brien detained with other protestors seeing off Shell's Polar Pioneer

at 12:15pm by Mary Bruno

michael o'brienThe Seattle City Councilmember was among the 25 or so kayakers who turned out to bid Shell’s controversial oil rig farewell as it left Terminal 5 at the Port of Seattle Monday morning, according to The Seattle Times. O’Brien was also one of several protesters taken into custody for their trouble. He has since been released, and is holding a press conference to explain this morning’s activity. Stay tuned for more details. The Shell rig has been in Seattle since mid May. It’s heading to Alaska to drill for oil in the pristine Chukchi Sea.



Dolezal resigns from NAACP in Spokane

at 11:21am by Marissa Brent-Tookey

dolezal_mug_t210Rachel Dolezal has stepped down as president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, NPR reports. She has come under fire over the past few days for allegedly lying about being black. Her parents recently told reporters that their daughter is white, and supplied photos of a young, blonde Rachel. Yesterday, Dolezal canceled the Spokane NAACP’s monthly meeting, scheduled for today. Now she has posted her letter of resignation on the organization’s Facebook page. “In the eye of this current storm,” she writes, “I can see that a separation of family and organizational outcomes is in the best interest of the NAACP.” Vice President Naima Quarles-Burnley will step in as interim president.

Hillary abandons hope for a fight

at 10:30am by Mary Bruno

David Frum, writing in The Atlantic, critiques Hillary Clinton’s first policy speech, delivered at New York’s Roosevelt Island last Saturday. “Despite her own great personal wealth, and long association with people even wealthier than herself, Clinton is frankly presenting herself as a politician of inter-class struggle,”writes Frum, adding that this scrappy underdog message is exactly what the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party has been longing to hear.

Hillary’s “stinging” rebuke of Barack Obama’s “approach to the presidency” was short on hope (unlike Obama in 2007, she never used the “h” word) and long on combat. Clinton “… self-advertises as the toughest, fiercest, most relentless fighter Democrats have seen in a very long time,” writes Frum. Forget leadership as all gauzy inspiration. “Leadership means perseverance and hard choices,” said Hillary on Saturday. “You have to push through the setbacks and disappointments and keep at it.” You have to fight.

UW awards record number of Computer Science diplomas

at 10:10am by Amelia Havanec

The University of Washington awarded 364 computer science diplomas at this year’s commencement ceremony, a 15% increase from last year’s tally and a new record. Of the 234 bachelor degrees awarded, one third went to women. On the heels of our ever-changing economy and reliance on software developers, the growing trajectory is a good sign for Seattle’s tech talent pool.

The department wants to reach 600 graduates a year, but their current program must turn away many applicants, accommodating one out of three students who apply. Microsoft donated $10 million last week to help add a 130,000 square-foot second computer science and engineering building to the campus, for which the college is also requesting a substantial investment from the state. This investment will alleviate some of the department’s current capacity issues, so more students can keep calm and code on.

Jeb officially gets in the game

at 9:06am by Mary Bruno

RNS-CATHOLIC-GOPThe former two-term Florida governor finally launches his presidential campaign on Monday. The announcement at Miami Dade College, smack in the heart of Florida’s Cuban American community, comes after a six month-long — and lucrative — flirtation with voters and donors. Bush has raised tens of millions “for the super PAC that will operate independently of his campaign operation and attack his opponents,” writes the Washington Post. If all that money gets 62-year-old Jeb the GOP nomination and the White House, says the Post, he would make history as the third member of his family to serve as U.S. president.

Not so fast, argues Nate Cohn, “Upshot” columnist for The New York Times: “It was easy to see Jeb Bush’s path to the Republican nomination when he announced the formation of his super PAC in December,” writes Cohn. “He … seemed well positioned to appeal to the coalition of party elites and blue-state voters that has allowed center-right establishment candidates to win the party’s last two contests.” The striking surprise, however, is that Jeb officially enters the contest “bearing many of the costs of the center-right approach without seeming to enjoy many of the benefits.”



Dangerous Glaciar Peak may get more scrutiny

at 8:42am by Mary Bruno

The U.S. Geological Survey considers Glaciar Peak in Snohomish County one of the most dangerous — and least monitored — volcanoes in the country and it wants permission to place four new monitoring stations there. Back in 2005, USGS scientists singled out the 10,542 foot high Glaciar, along with Mount Baker, Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens as peaks in desperate need of more and better research and monitoring. If Glaciar were to blow, reports The Everett Herald, “it could send a massive wall of mud, rock and glacial melt down the Stillaguamish and Skagit river valleys, ripping through Darrington and parts of Arlington and Stanwood.” The USGS is waiting for approval from the U.S. Forest Service to install instruments that can track and transmit seismic activity in real time.

U.S. Volcanoes and NVEWS Targets: red – 35 highest priority volcanoes, orange – 22 high-priority volcanoes, small green – the other U.S. volcanoes.
Red triangles indicate West Coast volcanoes rated highest priority for more monitoring (35); orange are high priority (22). Source: USGS

Correction of the day (yes sir, yes sir)

at 6:21am by Mark Matassa

Romenesko.com, which covers the media, found a funny and very precise New York Times correction about one of its crossword clues:



A great newspaper leader dies at 73

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

John Carroll, the subject of that headline, would not like it. Carroll had a rule against the use of superlatives in the news pages of the papers he edited, which included The Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky. He led the staffs of all three to Pulitzer Prizes and, as The Washington Post notes in a warm obit, was “one of the most distinguished and inspiring newspaper editors of his time.”

For a while, she passed as black

at 5:13am by Mark Matassa

Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who has been leading the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, announced Sunday she was canceling today’s board meeting, at which she was supposed to explain her fabrications. But almost immediately, reports The Spokesman-Review, a local NAACP leader said Dolezal did not have the right to cancel the meeting and that the executive committee would meet. Dolezal’s parents told The New York Times that she has been lying for years about her race.

U.S. airstrike in Libya kills Al Qaeda target

at 5:03am by Mark Matassa

TERROR-master180Two years after a bloody hostage crisis in Algeria, the U.S. has killed the militant leader of the 2013 invasion, reports The New York Times. The Defense Department confirmed that the Algerian terrorist, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, was the target of an airstrike in Libya early Sunday. No immediate word on how many others were killed in the U.S. strike.

Friday 12 Jun, 2015

Watchdog: A tainted high. What's Obama's big rush on trade agreement? Shown the door, in 140 characters or less.

Trying to stop car theft proves fatal

at 3:27pm by Joe Copeland

A 31-year-old Kent man is dead from injuries he suffered while trying to stop a thief from stealing his car Thursday night, KOMO News reports. The Kent man left the car running outside an apartment and noticed someone get into the vehicle. The victim tried to jump into the passenger window as the thief drove off, swerving and bumping into the curb until the car owner was thrown off the vehicle.

Labor unions join "ShellNo"

at 2:53pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

What all the fuss is about: Shell Oil's Polar Pioneer Arctic drilling rig Credit: Flickr user Chas Redmond
What all the fuss is about: Shell Oil’s Polar Pioneer Arctic drilling rig Credit: Flickr user Chas Redmond

Local labor unions representing more than 60,000 workers have joined the movement against Shell’s use of the Port of Seattle. Their letter opposing the Port’s decision to house the Arctic-bound oil rig states that it violates four of their collective values: “healthy community,” “healthy future,” “democracy and accountability,” and “responsibility to the greater good.” The five unions, OPEIU 8, SEIU 6, UAW Local 4121, UFCW 21, and UFW, add: “we declare our support for a strong climate policy at the state, regional and national level to reduce our global warming pollution and ensure that as we reduce this pollution we do so with equitable transition at its core.”

Clinton launches campaign phase 2 on Saturday

at 1:00pm by Mary Bruno

Enough with the presidential listening tour, Hillary Clinton holds her first official campaign rally on Saturday at New York’s Roosevelt Island. Don’t expect the event to brim with policy details, reports Bloomberg, “but it will kick off a summer … full of economic proposals, including Clinton’s views on the minimum wage, Wall Street regulation and student debt.” Read that: a focus that leans progressive while not toppling over into the Socialist territory staked out by her rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Speaking of, Sanders’ dark horse campaign appears to be gaining traction, at least among donors — and according to Sanders. Bloomberg also reports that the man who vows to redistribute the country’s wealth (from the super rich back to the middle class) told Charlie Rose contributor Al Hunt recently that he’s got more than $6 million in small donations at present and expects to reach $10 million by the end of the month.

EMTs soon allowed to take mental health cases to triage centers

at 11:45am by Marissa Brent-Tookey

According to The Herald, a state law effective July 24 will enable first responders to take patients to “facilities other than hospitals.” Paramedics have previously only been permitted to take people to emergency rooms. House Bill 1721 will give them another option to take patients to triage centers that are better equipped to handle mental health crises. Acceptance to a triage center requires referral by police or mental health and emergency room staff. Facilities provide meals, beds, classes and psychiatric care.

Seahawks scope out Starbucks

at 11:26am by Marissa Brent-Tookey

A Starbucks mug. A new job shadow program gives football players access to Starbucks leaders, reports the Puget Sound Business Journal. After retiring from the field, some 75 percent of pro footballers go bankrupt or suffer serious financial problems within two years. (That’s according to a 2009 estimate; a more recent study puts the bankruptcy filing rate much lower). Several players are taking steps to avoid that fate when their playing days end. This week, Seahawks Marcus Burley, Garry Gilliam, Mike Morgan, Kevin Pierre-Louis and Julius Warmsley met with the heads of various Starbucks departments at the company’s Seattle headquarters. Being a “serial entrepreneur,” is intriguing said Gilliam. “Set up a few businesses and see how far I can take them.”

Spokane NAACP official in storm over identity

at 9:00am by Joe Copeland

With her name a top Twitter topic, Rachel Dolezal, the president of Spokane’s NAACP chapter, is getting the kind of attention activist groups — for the wrong reasons: Her mother tells CNN that she’s white but eventually began to identify as black after the family adopted four black children. The Spokesman Review explores the issue and other questions about her credibility. One of her adoptive brothers tells the Spokane paper she asked him not to “blow my cover” a few years ago.

Girl scientists all aTwitter over sexist quip

at 8:21am by Mary Bruno

Speaking at a conference in South Korea on June 9, Sir Tim Hunt, a Nobel Prize-winning British biochemist, told attendees that the “trouble” with having “girls” in labs is threefold: “they fall in love with you, you fall in love with them and … when they’re criticised, they cry.” Since then, Hunt has resigned his position at University College London and girl scientists around the world have taken to Twitter (#distractinglysexy). Mashable has collected the best tweets and they’re a hoot. One fave:

Girl Scientist tweet

Your moment of art

at 7:59am by Mary Bruno

Wired shares this hypnotic ballet of glass and light, created for the Venice Biennale by Dutch collaborators, Ralph Nauta and Lonneke Gordijn. “The Dutch duo … are best known for their work bridging the aesthetics of nature and technology,” writes Wired. “In the past, the designers have made lamps out of LED-augmented dandelions and have recreated the paths of bird murmurings using glass and light. In 20 Steps follows this same path, straddling the line between technological feat and natural wonder.”

Shown the door, in 140 characters or less

at 6:32am by Mark Matassa

12TWITTER-master675Twitter CEO Dick Costolo is stepping aside July 1, apparently tired of Wall Street’s hectoring about the company’s slow user growth and failure to snazz up its product. The New York Times reports that Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s cofounder and former chief, will take over on an interim basis. Twitter shares rose 7 percent in after-hours trading on news of Costolo’s exit. Ouch.

Ctl-alt-del for UW computer science building

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

MIcrosoftSignBldg992008RobertScoble-650x400Microsoft announced Thursday that it is giving $10 million toward the proposed building in an effort to rekindle interest in the university’s computer science program. A reboot, if you will.

The big sticking point is funding from the Legislature, where a Senate plan left the school $8 million short of its $40 million request. In the House, reports The Seattle Times, the gap is even larger. Total cost of the project is expected to be $105-$110 million. “A commitment from the state is really important to motivating private donors, both individuals and organizations,” said Ed Lazowska, who holds the UW’s Bill & Melinda Gates chair in Computer Science & Engineering.

What’s Obama’s rush on big trade agreement?

at 5:28am by Mark Matassa

President_Obama_Twitter_town_hall1.jpgIn a smart take given the limited information, The New Yorker tries to untangle the merits of and the political fight over the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It’s almost impossible to evaluate the details of the 800-page agreement, William Finnegan writes, because it is being negotiated in secret and only “cleared advisors” are allowed to read it and work on the text. Several sections have been leaked, and it seems the more that people see the proposal the more opposition it attracts. Some Republicans, Finnegan notes, don’t like it simply because President Obama does. Rep. Ryan Zinke, R- Montana, said, “I don’t have faith that President Obama will negotiate in the best interest of Montana or America.”

Otherwise, it’s politics as usual: The measure’s biggest backers are Republicans in the Senate and House, with Democratic leaders struggling to contribute the relatively few votes needed.

With sneak peeks and interviews with people involved, Zimmerman describes the proposal thus: “If enacted, it will encompass 40 percent of global economic activity. It is less a traditional trade deal than a comprehensive economic treaty and, at least for the United States, a strategic hedge against the vast and growing weight of Chinese regional influence. … Leaked drafts of chapters have occasionally surfaced — enough to alarm, among others, environmentalists, labor groups, and advocates for affordable medicine.”

Among members of the Washington State congressional delegations, Reps. Denny Heck and Adam Smith announced their opposition on Thursday, joining fellow Democratic and Rep. Jim McDermott, who’s already announced his opposition, says The Seattle Times.

Watchdog: A tainted high

at 5:03am by Mark Matassa

credit: Laurie Avocado
credit: Laurie Avocado

Marijuana, with its hippie vibe, just seems like it would be organic. But The Oregonian, in a well-researched special report, found that medical pot frequently contains pesticides above the level the state allows. “A combination of lax state rules, inconsistent lab practices and inaccurate test results has enabled pesticide-laced products to enter the medical marijuana market,” the report says. Even worse, marijuana extracts concentrate the chemical levels, making it even more dangerous for patients.

Thursday 11 Jun, 2015

She wasn't born in the White House. Municipal broadband less expensive than expected.

Seattle taxi industry revenue down big

at 4:03pm by Amelia Havanec

The popularity of peer-to-peer ride-sharing companies – think Uber and Lyft – has led to a 28 percent decline in revenue for the Seattle taxi industry over the past two years, GeekWire reports. Uber operates without driver or vehicle caps while taxi companies are restricted in how many active taxi licenses they can distribute. These restrictions are one of the reasons their revenue has declined to its lowest point since 2010.

But things are looking up for Seattle Yellow Cab, which launched their own free booking app last year. They also upgraded their dispatch technology so cabs will arrive at their pickup location more quickly. The company, which has over 600 taxis in Seattle to date, has since cut their wait times in half. So while the taxis industry may appear to be losing the war, they haven’t quite given up the fight yet.

UW visiting professor named U.S. Poet Laureate

at 3:22pm by Robert LeCompte

Juan Felipe Herrera, currently a visiting professor of ethnic studies at the University of Washington, has been named the U.S. Poet Laureate. Herrera, whose family came to the U.S. during the Mexican Revolution in 1910, will be the first Latino to hold the position when his term starts in September. He says, “The honor is bigger than me.”

Washington creates silver alerts

at 1:00pm by Robert LeCompte

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill into law yesterday that will create silver alerts. to be used when someone over the age of 60, who may have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, goes missing. The alert will be displayed on highway signs and will be a part of traffic advisories but will not interrupt television or radio broadcasts, reports The News Tribune.

Two more state Democrats turn on Obama's trade effort

at 11:48am by Joe Copeland

Seattle Democratic Congressmembers Adam Smith and Denny Heck say they will vote against giving President Barack Obama the enhanced negotiating authority he wants for wrapping up a proposed Pacific free trade deal. Seattlepi.com’s Joel Connelly writes that they join Seattle Democrat Jim McDermott in opposing the measure, meaning that the state’s six Democratic U.S. representatives will likely split evenly in Friday’s big vote.

Rupert Murdoch preparing to step down as CEO of FOX

at 11:22am by Robert LeCompte

Rupert Murdoch, the (in)famous CEO of 21st Century FOX, is preparing to step down from his position at the company and hand the reins to his son, James (who has faced his own controversies over phone hacking by British reporters in a unit he headed). Another son, Lachlan, will become an executive co-chairman as well, reports CNBC. It’s not clear yet when an announcement regarding the changes and their timing will be made. Murdoch, 84, will continue to serve as an executive chairman.

Horror film star Christopher Lee dies

at 11:08am by Robert LeCompte

Actor Christopher Lee, the last connection to a bygone era of horror films and one of the few remaining actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood, has died at the age of 93, reports The Guardian. Lee first found stardom in the 1950s for his roles in British-based Hammer Films productions, his most famous of which was his turn as Dracula. Lee went on to play such iconic characters as Bond villain Scaramanga in the The Man With The Golden Gun, Saruman in The Lord of The Rings trilogy, and Count Dooku in Star Wars. More than just an actor, Lee was also a member of the British special forces in World War II, an author, and even released two heavy metal albums in 2010 and 2013.

Computer science education bill signed into law

at 11:07am by Amelia Havanec

Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1813 into law today, paving the way for a number of computer science-related improvements in the state  K-12 system. These include the adoption of uniform standards regarding the curriculum of these courses, as well as creating grants and scholarship funds to incentivize teachers to teach and receive professional development in the subject, critical to expanding the number of computer science classes being taught.

Dozens of education leaders in Washington and executives from companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Starbucks signed a letter supporting the bill, which was passed by both the House and Senate on May 28. “In 36 states, the most common jobs are truck drivers, farmers or secretaries. In Washington, the most common jobs are software developers… [computer science courses are] only offered in 7 percent of our high schools,” they said.


Study shows booze losing its appeal

at 8:37am by Mary Bruno

Underage_drinking_Washington PostDrinking and binge drinking by underage Americans fell significantly from 2002 to 2013, according to a new report by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. While booze remains the preferred substance of abuse among the 12-20 year-old crowd, the study’s findings, reports The Washington Post, are “the latest evidence that alcohol might be losing some of its allure.” The study involved more than 30,000 young people all across the U.S.

Murray v. the Community Police Commission

at 8:07am by Mary Bruno

The citizens’ oversight commission established as part of Seattle’s federally mandated police reforms is at odds with Ed Murray over departmental reforms. So much so, reports The Seattle Times, that members — all mayoral appointees — voted on Wednesday to submit their own reform package to the City Council.

The mayor and the Community Police Commission (CPC) have been haggling over the police-accountability package for months. One sticking point is the CPC’s insistence that the City Council have a say before the mayor can fire the director of Seattle PD’s Office of Professional Accountability. Murray expressed surprise at the CPC’s action. CPC members appear adamant, albeit willing to keep talking.

The CPC will likely submit its legislation to Council President Tim Burgess in the next 7-10 days before the ordinance is referred to the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee chaired by Councilmember Bruce Harrell. The CPC hopes the full council will take up the reforms before budget talks dominate the conversation next fall.

Municipal broadband less expensive than expected

at 6:04am by Mark Matassa

When former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn proposed exploring a city-run Internet service, the idea was welcomed but the price tag was not. Now, new estimates show the cost would be less than previously thought — about $480 million to $665 million. But his successor, Mayor Ed Murray, says it may still be prohibitive without a private partner or a voter-approved levy. The Seattle Times has the details.

Pope to investigate child sexual abuse cases

at 5:22am by Mark Matassa

Pope_Francis_child.jpgInstead of attempting to sweep the Catholic Church’s pedophilic priest problem under the rug, as some predecessors have, Pope Francis is creating a tribunal on bishop negligence in the matter, reports The New York Times. It remains unclear how this body will conduct its inquiries and what punishments it might impose, says the report.

Feel that? Here’s a map.

at 5:14am by Mark Matassa

The Oregonian has created a nearly real-time map of seismic activity around the Northwest — and, in fact, the entire world. The recent cluster of small earthquakes in the Pacific Ocean about 300 miles west of Salem spurred the project, which tracks all quakes, big and small, and is updated every 15 minutes. Pretty interesting.

She wasn't born in the White House

at 5:03am by Mark Matassa

Michelle Obama in Denver.As her tenure as first lady dwindles, Michelle Obama is being more vocal and more direct about race relations in America. A New York Times report shows her drawing from her own experiences in recent speeches, including addresses at high school graduations, encouraging young African Americans to find a way to rise above disadvantages. Never be afraid to ask for help,” FLOTUS told one recent graduating class. “Instead of being discouraged by hardship, reach higher.”

Wednesday 10 Jun, 2015

We're not in Selma anymore. Tracking the spendthrift would-be president. What makes a woman?

Virtual reality pioneer Oculus expands in Seattle, prepares to launch their biggest product

at 4:10pm by Amelia Havanec

The Daily Journal of Commerce reports that virtual reality headset maker, Oculus VR, has solidified a deal to lease 51,000 square feet of space in SoDo, representing an entire floor of the Stadium Innovation Center. This move positions the Irvine, California-based company to expand in Puget Sound, which already houses an expansive list of virtual and augmented reality developments. Though the VR gaming space is still in its early innings, engineers at HTC’s Creative Labs offices are nearby in Pioneer Square, collaborating with Valve in Bellevue on the HTC Vive virtual reality headset. Microsoft is working on the HoloLens device. Burgeoning startups, such as Envelop VP and Pluto VR, are in on the game as well.

This announcement precedes tomorrow’s much-anticipated launch of the Oculus Rift, a consumer headset scheduled for release in “early 2016.” For those not invited to the special event in San Francisco there will be live-streaming video of the event online at 10am PST. The company’s website has a countdown clock to the event with a teaser shot of the new model. So soon we’ll see what Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of the company last year has bought them.

Former adult home operator admits mistreatment

at 3:56pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

The Washington Attorney General’s Office reports that Alfredo Tia, the owner of an owner adult family home, has pleaded guilty of mistreating a resident. A 69-year-old who was receiving care at the Joportia Adult Family Home, which the state shut down in January, was admitted to an Auburn hospital with several severe ulcers, and a social worker there reported possible abuse. This is the first time the state has convicted a health care provider of a felony level charge of criminal mistreatment, according to officials.

Community Police Commission to go directly to Seattle City Council

at 3:32pm by David Kroman

With U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch scheduled to visit Seattle next September and no police reform legislation in sight, the Seattle Times says tension is building between Mayor ED Murray and the city’s civilian police oversight body, the Community Police Commission (CPC).

The tension boils down to who has what control. For example, the CPC wants to be involved in the hiring and firing of the director and auditor of the Office of Police Accountability. Without that authority, worries the CPC, the office could be vulnerable to political sea changes. The CPC would also like to see the OPA granted subpoena authority to independently investigate misconduct allegations. Murray, however, resists both these recommendations, arguing it’s his butt on the line if things don’t go well.

In a CPC meeting Wednesday, members were unsure when Murray might introduce legislation. The commission favored bypassing the mayor’s office and going directly to the Seattle City Council to introduce its own legislation by September.

Coyotes in Seattle?

at 11:30am by Mary Bruno

The City Council in Glendale, Arizona, is holding a special session on Wednesday. Why should we care, you ask? Because the meeting is about whether to end Glendale’s arena agreement with the Arizona Coyotes, the city’s NHL franchise. Why should we care, you ask? Because according to the seattlepi.com, the dispute between the council and the Coyotes “could breathe new life into Seattle’s efforts to secure the NHL franchise.”

Securing a pro hockey or hoops team is integral to private developer Chris Hansen’s dreams of building another sports arena in SoDo. Lots (and lots) of dominoes would have to fall our way before Coyotes migrate north. But if Glendale and the NHL can’t resolve their differences, the seattlepi, for one, sees Seattle one baby step closer to a pro hockey franchise.

Seattle ranks amongst the best for STEM careers

at 11:28am by Amelia Havanec

With University of Washington’s commencement ceremonies starting this weekend, graduates in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines may easily find work in their own backyards. A NerdWallet survey released last week ranks Seattle as the fifth-best city in the country for STEM jobs. The criteria is based on average STEM income (in Washington it’s $98,493), size of industries and cost of living.

According to the NerdWallet report, “the job market in the Seattle-metro area features 121 STEM employees for 1,000 jobs, making it one of the largest STEM centers in the U.S.” In recent years, STEM fields have played an increasingly prominent role in the area’s economy, with tech bedrocks like Microsoft and Boeing being joined by the likes of Apple, Facebook, and Alibaba, as well as a variety of startups. All of this activity has not only boosted the area’s STEM job ranks, but also created competition for talent that has incentivized better pay and enhanced career opportunities.

Amazon's annual shareholders meeting draws protests, Rev. Jesse Jackson

at 11:02am by Drew Atkins

City councilman Bruce Harrell, animal rights activists, union representatives, Rev. Jesse Jackson and more descended on Seattle Wednesday morning for Amazon’s annual shareholders meeting. Outside the gathering, over 100 protesters gathered to represent a variety of causes, including improved transit, worker rights and Amazon’s sale of foie gras, a product some argue entails extreme cruelty to ducks. Geekwire reports that board members were jeered as they arrived.

Inside the meeting, Jackson addressed the shareholders about the need for more racial diversity in the tech economy. The appearance was part of an ongoing effort by Jackson, who has successfully pushed to address a number of tech company shareholder meetings in recent months, as well as last December’s Washington STEM summit. As The Seattle Times notes, Jackson is unsure whether he will get a chance to meet with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to discuss a company whose workforce Jackson says does not “look like America.”



What? No Bezos?

at 9:06am by Mary Bruno

Jeff Bezos during a 2005 presentation: What do I have to do to sell you a book? An 86 percent approval rating got Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos onto Glassdoor’s top 50 highest-rated CEO list in 2014. (He was 33nd.) This year, reports the Puget Sound Business Journal, Bezos wasn’t even on the list. Topping Glassdoor’s 2015 CEO ranking were Google’s Larry Page and Nike’s Mark G. Parker (both with 97 percent approval ratings). Seattle-area 2015 listmakers included Expedia’s Dara Khosrowshahi (11), Costco’s Craig Jelinek (13) and T-Mobile’s John Legere (14). The Journal speculates that Amazon’s Fire Phone flop may have kept Bezos off-list.

Bipartisan effort to permanently ban torture

at 8:00am by Mary Bruno

Republican Senator John McCain and his Democratic colleague Senator Dianne Feinstein are trying to make torture officially illegal. According to The Guardian, the bipartisan pair introduced a measure on Tuesday to ban the use of enhanced interrogation methods, such as waterboarding. If their anti-torture amendment passes, says The Guardian, it would turn a 2009 executive order signed by Barack Obama into law, “making it illegal for the US government to engage in torture, thus preventing a future president from reversing the Obama administration’s action.”

Hastert pleads "not guilty" in federal court

at 7:25am by Mary Bruno

Surrounded by a crush of cameras, former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert slouched silently into federal court in Chicago on Tuesday for his arraignment on felony charges that he violated federal banking laws and lied to law enforcement. It was the first time Hastert had been seen or heard from since the charges — and rumors of sexual misconduct while he was a high school teacher and wrestling coach — became public. The proceedings were over in less than 20 minutes. “[Hastert] barely spoke,” reports the Washington Post. “… He did not even say “not guilty” — those words were uttered by Hastert’s attorney.”

What makes a woman?

at 6:40am by Mark Matassa

caitlyn_jenner_nytThe coming out of Caitlyn Jenner as transgender has sparked debate across political, cultural and gender lines. But nowhere is the discussion more polarized than among women, and particularly feminists. In its Sunday Review, The New York Times featured an essay by Elinor Burkett titled “What Makes a Woman.” Burkett argued that it’s not merely saying the words and posing for a glamor-shot cover in Vanity Fair.

The “I was born in the wrong body” rhetoric favored by other trans people doesn’t work any better and is just as offensive, reducing us to our collective breasts and vaginas,” Burkett wrote. “Imagine the reaction if a young white man suddenly declared that he was trapped in the wrong body and, after using chemicals to change his skin pigmentation and crocheting his hair into twists, expected to be embraced by the black community.”

Allow me to retort, Jill Filipovic effectively says, writing for Cosmopolitan. In a carefully considered response, Filipovic ticks through Burkett’s points – agreeing with some, disagreeing with others. Filipovic’s essential point, playing off the original Times headline: “What makes a woman is less important than what makes a feminist.”

Tracking the spendthrift would-be president

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

Marco RubioFor years, Marco Rubio has had trouble with money – both personally and politically – reports The New York Times. The review of Rubio’s finances shows the Republican presidential candidate and U.S. senator was hundreds of thousands dollars in debt for student loans and real estate before a publisher paid him $800,000 in 2012 to write a memoir. So he got out of debt and then, almost immediately, spent $80,000 on a luxury speedboat. More examples surface, with the report’s conclusion that even some supporters worry about Rubio’s financial management.

Testing the penalties for opting out of Common Core

at 5:28am by Mark Matassa

Across the country are pockets of resistance to taking standardized tests aligned with federal Common Core education standards. The Oregonian reports that the movement is gaining traction in Oregon, to the point that schools are now in danger of losing $140 million for allowing kids to skip the tests.

We’re not in Selma anymore

at 5:02am by Mark Matassa

Jesse-Jackson-SCNot that the civil rights movement has gone away, but for the Rev. Jesse Jackson the aspect that has grabbed focus lately is the workplace. He’ll address Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting this morning in Seattle, calling for inclusion and comparable pay for African Americans and others. “Jackson has also called out tech companies for the lack of transparency regarding women and minority hiring,” reports The Seattle Times, “saying last fall that Amazon’s workforce, among others, does not ‘look like America.’”

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?

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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.

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