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Thursday 18 Jun, 2015

City settles suit with man shot in face. U.S. Open opens this morning at Chambers Bay. Woman will appear on $10 bill.

China, UW and Microsoft: together

at 4:00pm by Cody Olsen

The University of Washington and Tsinghua University in China are collaborating to open a new tech grad school in Bellevue. The Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) will open in the fall of 2016, in Bellevue’s Spring District, with $40 million in backing from Microsoft. GeekWire reports it will be the first time that a Chinese research institution has a location in the United States.

GIX will first offer a 15-month master’s degree in technology innovation for 30-35 students, but within a decade the project leaders envision a school with 3,000 students. Gov. Jay Inslee said, “We are going to celebrate the U.S. Open for about a week, and GIX for about 100 years.”

Housing angst: Got multiple answers?

at 2:30pm by Joe Copeland

A new poll suggests that Seattle residents may have little enthusiasm for rent control, Publicola reports. Respondents overwhelming leaned toward favoring a candidate who supports a variety of policies to create housing affordability as opposed to one “who supports strict rent control.” And — for all the talk about housing costs — the poll showed much greater concern about transportation among city residents. Maybe they just want to be able to get home, no matter how pricey their pad may be?

DNA says Kennewick Man was Native American

at 11:56am by Mary Bruno

A new book may answer some of the questions surrounding the mysterious Kennewick Man, but not all.
Credit: Brittney Titchnell/Smithsonian Institute

Since two college students first stumbled upon his remains in July 1996, Kennewick Man has been the subject of a custody battle: Native American tribes claimed the bones as an ancestor’s remains. Scientists disagreed and filed suit to keep Kennewick Man out of a Native American burial ground — and available for further study. Now, as The New York Times reports, new DNA evidence published in the journal Nature promises to award custody to the tribes. “It’s very clear that Kennewick Man is most closely related to contemporary Native Americans,” Eske Willerslev, a University of Copenhagen geneticist and the study’s lead author, told The Times. “In my view, it’s bone-solid.”

Obama on "heartbreaking" Charleston shooting

at 11:35am by Mary Bruno

“There is something particularly heartbreaking about death happening in a place in which we seek solace, in which we seek peace, in a place of worship,” said the president. “… This is a place of worship that was founded by African Americans seeking liberty. … When there were laws banning all-black church gatherings, they conducted services in secret. … Some of our brightest leaders spoke and led marches from this church’s steps. This is a sacred place in the history of Charleston and in the history of America. … We as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.”

2 Injured in Bellevue explosion

at 11:25am by Cody Olsen

Two workers were rushed to Harborview Medical Center after a gas line exploded at a Bellevue construction site  this morning. Both men suffered serious burns. A press release from Harborview says the victim in “serious condition” will be transferred to the intensive care unit; the other is in satisfactory condition. Lots of traffic disruptions: Komonews lists the bus routes being rerouted after the accident. Although leaking gas lines have been a concern in the Northwest at times, the early reports indicate that the workers, who were using soldering equipment, may have accidentally come upon a line that hadn’t been turned off.

Seattle settles largest ever police abuse suit

at 9:30am by Mary Bruno

In 2009, Seattle police officer Eugene Schubeck shot Nathaniel Caylor in the face. Police had responded to a call that Caylor was suicidal, high on drugs and alcohol and locked, with his 20-month-old son, inside his Greenwood apartment. Six years, 17 surgeries and a lot of legal maneuvering later, the City of Seattle settled Caylor’s excessive force lawsuit on Tuesday for $1.975 million. The total, reports The Seattle Times, is believed to be the largest police-abuse settlement in city history. It was a “business decision,” City Attorney Pete Holmes told The Times.


Huge leap in heroin, methamphetamine deaths

at 9:10am by Mary Bruno

Heroin overdoses jumped 58 percent in King County last year, according to a new report by the University of Washington’s Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute, which found the rise in local drug-induced fatalities to be the sharpest in 17 years. “Distressing” is how Caleb Banta-Green, affiliate associate professor of health services with the UW School of Public Health, described the trend for The Seattle Times. “I knew it was going to go up,” he told The Times. “I didn’t know it was going to go up that much.” Deaths from methamphetamine soared by 59 percent.

Police capture Charleston shooter

at 8:29am by Mary Bruno

Dylann Storm Roof, the 21-year-old from Lexington, South Carolina was taken into custody on Thursday. Roof is suspected of gunning down nine parishioners Wednesday night at Charleston’s historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Witnesses say he sat for almost an hour at a prayer meeting before opening fire. Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, church pastor and state senator, is one of the three men and six women known dead. According to The New York Times, the FBI, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for South Carolina have opened a hate crime investigation.

Brian Williams expected to stay at NBC

at 6:46am by Mark Matassa

brian-williams-635x352The former evening news anchor, on leave since revelations that he exaggerated his role in an Iraq War mission, will return to the network, but in a downscaled role as “the face of MSNBC,” reports CNN. Interim anchor Lester Holt will become permanent in the role, making him the first solo black anchor of a weekday nightly news broadcast, CNN says.

Woman’s portrait will appear on the $10 bill

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

For the first time, a woman will appear on U.S. paper currency, replacing Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill. The New York Times says the woman has not been selected yet, but that the change will take place in 2020, the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

U.S. Open opens this morning at Chambers Bay

at 5:15am by Mark Matassa

Chambers Bay #6TFor the first time, the Northwest will host the prestigious U.S. Open golf tournament. Golfers and tour officials are ecstatic, reports The Seattle Times, because of the unusual “links” course at Chambers Bay, just south of Tacoma, and the fact that the course is a public course, not a private club. The Times sets it up beautifully with several stories and a nifty virtual tour of the course.

City settles suit with Seattle man shot in the face by a cop

at 5:03am by Mark Matassa

Seattle’s nearly $2 million settlement with a man shot by a police officer is thought to be the city’s largest ever use-of-force payment. Nathaniel Caylor needed 17 surgeries after the 2009 shooting, which occurred when police were called because a relative thought Caylor was suicidal. The Seattle Times has the story.

Wednesday 17 Jun, 2015

Biggest ever algae bloom hits West Coast. Bush: 'The white Lebron.' Copyright infringement in the free world.

California: Uber drivers are employees

at 3:38pm by Amelia Havanec

Under a new ruling by an official at the California Labor Commission, Uber drivers are employees entitled to workers’ compensation. Uber, which will appeal, continues to say its drivers are independent contractors, allowing it to avoid certain business expenses that traditional taxi companies face. This decision stemmed from an Uber driver’s claim for costs inflicted to her personal car while driving customers. She is now due over $4,000 in reimbursement.

Uber said in a statement that the ruling, even if upheld on appeal, only pertains to one case. But the ruling could spur more claims by current and former Uber drivers in California — and perhaps beyond.


Unpaid caregivers work 1.2 billion hours a week

at 3:12pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

Almost 1-in-3 Americans serve as informal, unpaid caregivers, and about 20 percent of those who care for the elderly are in their 70s and 80s themselves, according to a study published in Population and Development Review. UW Today says this is surprising, given assumptions that the burden of looking after both young children and the elderly falls on the “sandwich generation” of middle-aged parents. This study is unique for its attention to the variety of caregiving situations it examined, from watching a friend’s kids for a few hours to long-term spousal care.

King County cities ban fireworks

at 2:30pm by Alex Cnossen

King County residents from Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, Everett, Lynnwood and more will have to find a new way to celebrate Fourth of July this year. Though some cities allow approved fireworks on the Fourth of July only, 22 of 36 cities in King County now have a complete ban on fireworks.

Due to budget cuts, the state no longer has an accurate way to trace the number of injuries and fires caused by fireworks, KOMO reports. Authorities state that the majority of injuries still come from legal fireworks available through local firework stands. They also report that fire departments receive twice the number of calls on the Fourth of July.

Starbucks bids adieu to La Boulange shops

at 2:08pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

A La Boulange breakfast Credit: Flickr user Sharon Rong
A La Boulange breakfast Credit: Flickr user Sharon Rong

Starbucks says in a press release that it is planning to close all 23 freestanding La Boulange cafes, which it bought in 2012, over half of which are in San Francisco. While Starbucks will continue serving up La Boulange food in its shops, that company said “ongoing evaluations” showed that the La Boulange stores didn’t fit with its long-term growth goals. The Puget Sound Business Journal notes that Starbucks stock price ($53 a share at last check) hasn’t fluctuated in response to the decision.

The deadliest animals

at 12:59pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

A grimly fascinating infographic from The Washington Post shows that sharks, bears and alligators were responsible for one U.S. death apiece per year between 2001 and 2013. Cows, on the other hand, kill an average of 20 people each year, most of them farmhands. Bees, wasps and hornets lead the pack, responsible for 58 deaths a year. Overall, the annual number of deaths caused by animals is about 200 — tiny compared to the 33,000 vehicle fatalities. The takeaway? Instead of worrying about snakes in the desert and sharks in the ocean, avoid bees and stay off the highway.

It may be a "Free World," Mr. Trump, but you can still get sued

at 12:53pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

Donald_Trump.jpgDonald Trump just joined the crowd of Republican presidential candidates, and simultaneously joined the misappropriation-of-music club, whose membership includes Ronald Reagan, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich (British group The Heavy didn’t like Gingrich at all when he played its “How You Like Me Now” during his 2012 campaign).

Trump announced his candidacy accompanied by Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” on repeat. According to NPR, The musician’s manager released a statement saying that Trump did not have permission to use the song. Besides, manager said, “Neil Young, a Canadian citizen, is a supporter of Bernie Sanders for President of the United States of America.” Trump just got trumped.

Civilian liaison connects Seattle police with East African community

at 12:44pm by Alex Cnossen

Habamu Abdi — the first ever civilian liaison between the Seattle Police Department and the city’s East African community — starts his new job today. Mayor Ed Murray called for the position to be created last year, saying that it was part of his public safety strategy and would serve as “a first step to reconnecting officers to the communities they serve,” KING 5 notes.

Abdi, who lost four friends to gun violence last year, sees this as a new beginning. “It is about me stepping in and seeing if there is a way to work with this department to stop this violence.”

Crosscut's transportation event of the year happens tonight

at 10:47am by Cambria Roth

Should we reduce the speed limit on all city roads down to a 30 mph max? Should the privately funded hockey and basketball stadium be located in SoDo or in Tukwila? Should residents in the suburbs have to pay for major transportation improvements in other parts of the metropolitan area?

Debate these topics and more at tonight’s Community Idea Lab, where you’ll be asked to cast the deciding vote. The event begins at 6 p.m. at Mercer Island Community Center. Tickets are available at the door, $5 for Crosscut members and $10 general admission.

Speaker CIL Transpo

After hearing from these dynamic speakers, you’ll join a “lab team” to debate one of the pressing and controversial transportation issues under consideration today, moderated by a transportation expert. You’ll move beyond the nuanced discussions to dig into frank, open dialogue about what you think, and how you would address this topic.

Transportation expert lab team moderators include:

  • Michael Hubner, Principal Planner, Puget Sound Regional Council
  • Brian Lagerberg, Director of Public Transportation, WSDOT
  • Mike Rimoin, Business Development Manager, Commute Seattle
  • Jeanne Acutanza, Director of Public Agency Services, Transpo Group
  • Anthony Auriemma, City Council staff for Tom Rasmussen
  • Andres Mantilla, Senior Vice President, CBE Strategic
  • Steve Gorcester, Regional Director, Transportation Improvement Board
  • Shefali Ranganathan, Director of Programs, Transportation Choices Coalition
  • Zach Shaner, Marketing and Outreach Coordinator, Commute Seattle
  • Dylan Counts, WSDOT Liaison to Sound Transit
  • Andrew Austin, Policy Director, Transportation Choices
  • Priya Singh, Associate, PRR
  • Burr Stewart, Principle, Burrst
  • Brett Houghton, Senior Associate, PRR
  • Kate Harloe, Crosscut Public Media
  • Hester Serebrin, Policy Analyst, Transportation Choices Coalition


Mark Penn, other top execs leave in Microsoft shakeup

at 8:52am by Mary Bruno

Satya Nadella continues to stir the pot in Redmond. The Microsoft CEO announced this morning that “we are aligning our structure to our strategy and the changes to our Senior Leadership Team.” Those leadership changes include the, um, dismissal, of four top execs: one-time Clinton political advisor Mark Penn, former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, Eric Rudder and Kirill Tatarinov.

Penn, for one, has his post-Microsoft plans in place already: According to GeekWire, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer — a fellow Harvard alum who brought Penn to Microsoft in 2012 — will become a “core investor” in Penn’s new investment advisory company, The Stagwell Group LLC, which has already amassed $250 million.

Don't make $72K? No home for you in Seattle

at 8:36am by Mary Bruno

Using fresh data from mortgage finance company HSH.com, the Puget Sound Business Journal reports that, yes, the tech boom is driving up the cost of housing. Seattle’s median home price is now $352,400, seventh highest in the country. If you want to buy one in Seattle, you need to be pulling down $71,702 a year, according to HSH.com. That’s nearly twice the national average for salary needed to afford a home. Silver lining: Seattle is still a lot cheaper than San Francisco where the median home price is $748,300 and aspirants need to earn $141,416 a year to nab one.

NYT debate: How fluid is racial identity?

at 8:09am by Mary Bruno

As discussion rages over whether Rachel Dolezal, recently resigned president of Spokane’s NAACP chapter, is guilty of “racial fraud,” The New York Times solicited a range of views on the issue. Among those debating:

Kevin Noble, African-American law professor at New York’s Syracuse University: “Racial separation — or even “purity” — is so ingrained in Americans that many multiracial people consider themselves monoracial … Even the most well-known multiracial person in the world, President Barack Obama, checked only one box on his census form.”

And Heidi W. Durrow, biracial author of the novel, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky: “My father was African-American and my mother is Danish. … because of the peculiar way that math and race work together in America, I was black. But those facts conflicted with my actual experience.”

NASA: World's largest aquifers being sucked dry

at 7:41am by Mary Bruno

Aquifer depletion_550_Water Resources Research

New satellite data from NASA shows that the world’s largest aquifers, which provide fresh water for the planet’s seven billion people, are being drained at “alarming rates,” according to the Washington Post. In 21 of the largest aquifers, researchers found that water was being harvested faster than it could be replaced — a serious problem that promises to get worse. “The situation is quite critical,” said NASA scientist Jay Famiglietti, a principal investigator of the University of California Irvine-led research.

‘Like hearing a black song from a white artist’

at 6:50am by Mark Matassa

That’s the take of one former acquaintance on the Rachel Dolezal story. After her national coming out Tuesday on “Today,” the former Spokane NAACP leader is attracting, if anything, even more comment and analysis. The New York Times offers the deepest profile yet of the white woman who has presented herself as black.

Jeb: ‘The White Lebron’

at 5:19am by Mark Matassa

Jeb Bush, the long-acknowledged but only recently announced Republican presidential candidate, is off to a rocky start in the media. Wired rips his “Jeb!” campaign logo as bush league. Says one designer: “It’s what I would expect if Jed! Clampett were running for mayor of Beverly Hills. This logo suggests nothing new, exciting or progressive, nor serious or highly educated. Good ole boy comes to mind; also SALE TODAY, painted on the side of a building.”

The New York Times takes on Bush’s “fashion statement,” noting that he announced his candidacy in shirtsleeves, without coat or tie. And “The Tonight Show,” with Bush himself as an accomplice, slyly mocked the candidate’s profile.

Biggest ever toxic algae bloom hits West Coast

at 5:03am by Mark Matassa

Bad news for Northwest shellfish lovers. An algae bloom has closed some fisheries and shellfish takes in Oregon and Washington, reports The Oregonian.

Tuesday 16 Jun, 2015

More maneuvering on trade bill. Boeing considering all-new jet for 2025. 'Why Joe Biden should run.'

No budget deal could mean unemployment for state employees

at 2:30pm by Alex Cnossen

Unless Washington lawmakers reach a budget agreement by June 30, thousands of state employees may find themselves temporarily unemployed. The current budget expires at midnight that day, after which more than 26,000 state employees would be affected, according to state officials. Though Washington state has never experienced a government shutdown, KOMO reports that the Legislature has deliberated until the last second before. Two years ago, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a budget on June 30.

Officials from the governor’s budget office have released a contingency plan on what state offices may have to do in the event of a government shutdown. Gov. Inslee’s budget plan is posted on Olympia’s Office of Financial Management’s website. Crosscut’s John Stang has a full report here.

In Clark County town, golf carts now permitted on downtown streets

at 2:26pm by Alex Cnossen

On June 1, Clark County approved an ordinance permitting golf carts in the downtown area, all thanks to local Ridgefield resident Mike Bonebrake. The Reflector reports that the new ordinance allows residents to drive their golf carts in the city during daylight hours, and was approved after a letter Bonebrake wrote to Ridgefield’s mayor and members of the city council. Bonebrake suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, and requested the ordinance because he wanted to stay active in Ridgefield’s community. We’re sure it’s now only a matter of time before golf carts become a common appearance in downtown Seattle.

Millennials choose Wal-Mart over other big box retailers

at 2:22pm by Alex Cnossen

According to Advertising Age, Wal-Mart is the hottest retailer for millenials under 24 years old. Experts cite the possible reasons as including the company’s investment in e-commerce and mobile, or potentially the retailer’s rock-bottom prices. Either way, Wal-Mart officials say the results came as a shock, even within the company. Matt Kistler, Walmart senior VP-consumer insights and analytics, said, “The millennial customer grew up with a lot of hardship. They see Walmart as a place where they can save money.” A 2014 article from Business Journals theorizes that millennials prefer Wal-Mart because of its scope. Given that it has more locations than any other U.S retailer, the article says it is often the only option for consumers.



Starbucks expands mobile ordering across the country

at 1:14pm by Amelia Havanec

Seattle’s coffee emissary to the world, Starbucks, announced today they are expanding a service previously limited to the Pacific Northwest, bringing it to 3,400 more stores across the country. Last December, Starbucks launched a mobile ordering program in which customers can order their drink of choice before entering the doors. Now more members of the caffeinated club don’t have to stand in lines. The move could spur more customer loyalty by luring them into their rewards program, and avoid those who post pictures of their names misspelled on Grande cups.

Amazon considers paying customers to deliver other people's boxes

at 1:05pm by Amelia Havanec

Amazon is entertaining the idea of crowdsourcing to help deliver its packages in faster way, reports the Wall Street Journal. To complement their other delivery options, Amazon wants to hire ordinary people to drop packages off at their destinations, much as Uber hires people to be drivers. WSJ writes that the service will be called “On My Way,” and will store packages at brick-and-mortar locations for pick up by trustworthy shuttlers. The retail giant has experimented with a number of alternative delivery methods to maintain their low costs. And that’s even before they start launching delivery drones into America’s airspace.

Trump throws his hat in the presidential ring

at 11:22am by Amelia Havanec

Businessman, TV personality and author Donald Trump showed up the GOP presidential pregame this morning, making him the 16th candidate to enter the White House race. The 45-minute announcement was made at the lavish Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan and hit on a range of issues, including stopping the Islamic State, keeping Iran from building a nuclear weapon, “beating” China on “deals,” repealing ObamaCare and Obama’s executive orders on immigration, building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border (which “Mexico would pay for”) and job creation. The billionaire says he will use his own wealth to fund his campaign so that he can focus on the race – a good idea considering more than half of Republicans have a negative view of the Donald.

FDA bans the use of trans fats nationwide

at 10:55am by Robert LeCompte

The Food and Drug Administration banned trans fats nationwide, following the example of cities like New York and Seattle. Food companies will have three years to drop trans fats from their products, reports Bloomberg Business. Fried food fans need not worry however. In recent years many companies have already been making the switch from partially hydrogenated oils to palm, coconut, and soybean oils, which contain (slightly) less harmful saturated fats.

Pope Francis states climate change is "mostly" due to human activity

at 10:22am by Amelia Havanec

Yesterday, an Italian magazine leaked a draft of a major environmental document by Pope Francis. In it,  he establishes climate change as a huge problem caused “mostly” by human activity and the burning of fossil fuels. The stance is laid out in an encyclical, the most authoritative teaching document a pope can issue.

He goes on to note that  climate change is harshest on the world’s poorest people, who are already suffering the most from air pollution and toxic dumping. This could anger conservative Catholics in the U.S., who are sometimes climate change skeptics. The official document — 192 pages in Italian — will released on Thursday. World leaders are attending a major UN climate change summit later this year.

New study finds reduction in sprawl

at 8:25am by Mary Bruno

Sprawl peaked around 1990, but was down 9 percent by 2012, according to a study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This is potentially good news for rural and semi-rural areas which have been gobbled up by the relentless march of development. The Associated Press reports that study author Christopher Barrington-Leigh from Montreal’s McGill University looked at a century of street construction in U.S. metro areas and found that new urban streets are more densely packed.

The five best sprawl-controlling counties? Travis County, Texas; Mecklenburg County, North Carolina; Alachua County, Florida; Iredell County, North Carolina; and Franklin County, Ohio. “It shows there is hope,” said Barrington-Leigh, who notes that sprawl encourages driving which pumps more greenhouse gases into the atmo. “We would like to slam the breaks on bad development.”


UW investigated for how it handles sexual violence cases

at 8:05am by Mary Bruno

The Seattle Times reports that the University of Washington has joined Washington State University, Western Washington University and Walla Walla’s Whitman College as in-state schools under investigation for allegedly failing to deal appropriately with sexual violence on campus. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is looking into a student complaint that the UW, according to a statement from the university, did not provide a “prompt and equitable grievance process after the student reported an incident of sexual violence.”

An investigation does not mean that the UW has been remiss necessarily. The university convened a task force on sexual-assault prevention in 2013 and has implemented a number of its recommendations, including increasing the number of investigators who handle cases.

And this may be the last we see of her

at 6:21am by Mark Matassa

Rachel Dolezal, the overnight national celebrity and now former president of the Spokane NAACP chapter, will appear on NBC’s “Today” show this morning.

‘Why Joe Biden should run’

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

Joe_Biden.jpgThat’s The New Yorker’s fetching headline, and although it takes writer Amy Davidson awhile to get to the point, she makes a decent case that even if Biden couldn’t win — and he probably wouldn’t — he would make Hillary Clinton a much better Democratic nominee.

Boeing considering all-new jet for 2025

at 5:12am by Mark Matassa

Boeing_787_construction1.jpgReporting from the Paris Air Show, The Seattle Times says Boeing is “moving forward” with a study of a new commercial jet. In the past year, the Times says, sales chief John Wojick’s team has had detailed discussions with airline customers and has determined that the market is big enough to potentially go forward with a multibillion-dollar investment to build the first all-new jet since the 787 Dreamliner, launched in 2003. A final decision likely won’t come before 2019.

More maneuvering on trade bill

at 5:02am by Mark Matassa

It was killed just last week, but President Obama’s giant trade agreement refuses to die. House Republicans and the White House are working together, says The New York Times, looking for parliamentary maneuvers to keep the bill alive. A key element is aid for workers displaced by global trade agreements. Counter-intuitively, that provision is opposed by House Democrats and supported by Republicans.

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?

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 7.58.56 AM

Bellevue High football coach suspended

at 8:12am by Mary Bruno

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

To slash car use, look to Vancouver?

at 7:50am by Joe Copeland

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

Because the decathlon would have been easier as a woman?

at 6:30am by Mark Matassa

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

Snowden: The world says no to surveillance

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

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

A victory for the little pink pill

at 5:23am by Mark Matassa

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

Chinese hack accounts of 4 million federal workers

at 5:02am by Mark Matassa

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

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

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