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Monday 20 Jul, 2015

HuffPo to Trump: 'You're fired.' Accounting for Hillary's tough side. Pot of gold!

Property tax levy on King County agenda

at 1:42pm by Alex Cnossen

Council members today are meeting to discuss a new property tax levy for King County, which would go before voters in November. The proposed hike would raise $56 million a year for six years, helping to offset the rising costs of the criminal justice system, KOMO reports. Currently, this eats up about  three-quarters of King County’s $1.5 billion general fund budget.

King County Executive Dow Constantine is among the supporters of the the levy, claiming that it would spend now to save billions later. “You know, I’ve spent my whole political career addressing bad outcomes – jail, crime, mental health treatments, addiction services. Here, we see an opportunity to move way upstream. And invest in prevention.” The council’s meeting was set to begin at 1:30 p.m. but appears to be starting late.



.05 miles per hour?

at 1:37pm by Nina Selipsky

At least, that’s what the street marking on Fairmount Avenue Southwest says. Over the weekend, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) employees applied roadway markings in eight locations, reports the Seattle Times. In the West Seattle location, employees marked the street “20 HPM” instead of “20 MPH.” 20 hours per mile would make the speed limit .05 miles per hour – half the speed of the world’s slowest mammal, the three-toed sloth. SDOT is in the process of correcting these markings and will complete the work today (unless they work really slowly).

Attracting teens to the great outdoors

at 12:44pm by Nina Selipsky

In an effort to spark new interest in environmental stewardship, a local nonprofit is revamping its teen programs. Formerly known as Natural Resources Youth Camp of Western Washington, the organization recently changed its name to Mount2Sound Adventures and partnered with the Thurston County Conservation District and Americorps members. The new partners have brought “youth and vigor” to the camps after about 15 years of low participation levels, reports The Olympian. This year’s offerings include several small events, such as a kayak trip along the Squaxin Passage on Puget Sound, a three-day backpacking trip along the Seven Lakes Basin High Divide Loop in the Olympic National Park, and an Experience Local Food day camp.

New moose alert

at 12:31pm by Nina Selipsky

Keepers at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park near Eatonville, WA spotted longtime resident Connie the Moose with a wobbly, long-legged calf Saturday, confirming suspicions that she had been pregnant. Connie gave birth late Friday or early Saturday, reports The Olympian. Keepers got close enough to tell that the newborn looked healthy, but not to determine the calf’s gender. Once the park figures that out, it will start talking baby names. Connie’s newborn is the first moose born at the park in 15 years, and joins two other adult moose in addition to Connie: Ellis, the father, and Nancy.

Scott Walker's pledge if elected: Possible war on day one

at 12:09pm by Drew Atkins

Presenting the sort of bold, optimistic vision that the Party of Reagan has become known for, this weekend GOP presidential candidate Scott Walker pledged to not only “terminate” the Iran nuclear agreement reached by six countries and the European Union if elected, but suggested he may start a war with Iran on inauguration day.

“I believe that a president shouldn’t wait to act until they put a cabinet together or an extended period of time, I believe they should be prepared to act on the very first day they take office,” he said. “It’s very possible, God forbid that this would happen, but very possible, that the next president could be called to take aggressive actions, including military actions, on their very first day in office.”


Mayor Ed Murray's taking a trip

at 11:00am by Alex Cnossen

Tomorrow,  Mayor Ed Murray – along with mayors from around the globe – will travel to Rome to participate in an international discussion about ending social and environmental exploitation. Murray will brief the conference on Seattle’s efforts to prepare for and adapt to climate change, focusing on how cities can lead the way on equity and environmental justice.

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is taking care of the mayor’s airfare and accommodations. Other U.S. mayors attending the event include New York’s Bill de Blasio, Portland’s Charlie Hales, Minneapolis’ Mitch Landrieu, San Francisco’s Edwin Lee, Boston’s Marty Walsh and New Orlean’s Mitch Landrieu.


Shark makes an appearance at world surfing competition

at 10:52am by Nina Selipsky

The “Summer of the Shark,” as Discovery dubbed 2015, is really living up to its name. Jaws became a reality for three-time world champion Australian surfer Mick Fanning during yesterday’s televised finals of a world surfing competition in South Africa. Fanning was sitting on his board, awaiting his turn at the JBay Open in Jeffrey’s Bay in the Eastern Cape Province, when he was struck by a shark from behind and knocked into the water. According to Associated Press, Fanning tried swimming away at first, but then decided to defend himself and turned to punch the shark in the back. The World Surf League cancelled the remainder of the event, calling Fanning’s composure and quick acting in the face of a terrifying situation “heroic.” Fanning escaped unharmed, and he and fellow Australian surfer Julian Wilson (who was also in the water when the attack happened) will share second place and split the prize money.

Cuban cigar, anyone?

at 10:44am by Alex Cnossen



Decades of hostility were formally put to rest this morning as U.S. and Cuban officials fulfilled an agreement struck last year that restored full diplomatic relations, NBC News reports. As part of the deal, Cuba was granted an embassy in Washington.

Americans wanting to travel to Cuba to still face restrictions. So do U.S companies wanting to do business in the country. Despite the deal, there are quite a few issues the U.S and Cuba don’t see eye to eye on, including mutual claims for economic reparations, Havana’s insistence on the end of a 53-year-old trade embargo, and U.S. calls for Cuba to improve on human rights and democracy.

Pot of gold!

at 6:19am by Mark Matassa

As The Seattle Times puts it, “The new legal marijuana business has created once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.” Take, for example, the tale of Evan Cox and his wife Charity, both high school dropouts, who got rich selling pot when it was illegal but police were looking the other way. The couple closed their business when the legalization measure passed – they didn’t want to cut into the business of legal stores – but now they are trying to go legit, hoping to get licensed to process marijuana. “At the point they closed the business, Evan says, ‘I was sitting on three-quarters of a million dollars. And it took that to get my license.’”

Accounting for Hillary’s tough side

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

Credit: Clinton Presidential Library
Credit: Clinton Presidential Library

Hillary Clinton’s father, Hugh Rodham, could be kind of a jerk, or at least a hard-driving, short-tempered disciplinarian. And so as a candidate, Clinton has not talked about him nearly as much as she does her mother, Dorothy. But in a fascinating profile, The New York Times tells Mr. Rodham’s story and explores the relationship between him and his daughter. The takeaway: “Mrs. Clinton’s father quietly represents the candidate’s combative, determined and scrappy side. The inspiration, friends said, that toughened his daughter up to not just withstand but embrace yet another political battle.”

Jing-Jin-Ji, the largest city you’ve never heard of

at 5:20am by Mark Matassa

Officially the population of Beijing is just over 21 million, but that’s not counting the suburbs and other large cities that make up the Chinese capital metropolis. Now a proposal to knit them all together with improved high-speed transportation and more dispersed services would create a new supercity, Jing-Jin-Ji, with a population of 130 million over an area about the size of Kansas, reports The New York Times.

HuffPo to Trump: 'You're fired!'

at 5:04am by Mark Matassa

Donald_Trump.jpgAfter declaring immediately that“I support that,” media critic Jay Rosen goes on for 1,500 words analyzing Huffington Post’s declaration that it will no longer cover Donald Trump’s presidential campaign as politics, but instead as entertainment. HuffPo came right to the point: “Our reason is simple: Trump’s campaign is a sideshow. We won’t take the bait. If you are interested in what The Donald has to say, you’ll find it next to our stories on the Kardashians and The Bachelorette.” In the end, Rosen agrees, but only after delineating all the reasons the site’s announcement should have been more expansive.

If Huffington isn’t taking the bait, stalwart political journalists, such as at The New York Times, certainly are. “Who advises candidate Trump,” one of its lead stories asks this morning. “(Hint: His name is Donald.)”

Friday 17 Jul, 2015

Was the man who shot 4 Marines a terrorist? Giant Seattle hotel gets green light. Quake story aftershocks still coming.

Seattle Tunnel Partners submits revised Bertha schedule

at 3:14pm by David Kroman

Two weeks later than expected, private contractor group Seattle Tunnel Partners submitted a revised schedule for the Highway 99 tunnel project Friday. According to Washington Department of Transportation Communication Director Laura Newborn, the tunnel boring machine Bertha will resume tunneling in November, three months later than first expected. The underground highway is now scheduled to open to drivers in spring 2018, several months later than the already revised winter 2017 estimate.

Crews are currently working on replacing Bertha’s main bearing, which suffered significant damages after the machine overheated in December 2013. After more than a year of mystery, there is still no word on what, or who, is responsible for the machine’s issues. A full report is here.

Updated. Originally posted at 5:44 a.m. 

More of 'the war on coal'?

at 2:32pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

The New York Times reports that the U.S. Department of the Interior has proposed an update to a rule from the 1980s meant to protect streams from pollution from mountaintop removal mining. It’s most applicable in the Appalachians, where the practice is common: miners blow the tops off mountains to get to the coal, and then dispose of waste in nearby rivers. New regulations would require coal companies to avoid certain areas, as well as periodically test and clean up the water. Is anyone actually surprised that the industry officials are reluctant to do so? Political weather forecast: stormy complaints about “a war on coal.”

UW team tackling malaria

at 2:27pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

According to UW Today, researchers at the University of Washington are collaborating with two other university labs to develop a drug to prevent and treat malaria. Study leader Pradipsinh Rathod and his partners published an article in Science Translational Medicine this week, highlighting the fact that this drug would be a one-time or once-weekly dose instead of the conventional daily treatments. There’s also a high level of safety in humans, and it’s ready for clinical trials.

Bumper crop of ... wildfire

at 12:37pm by Joe Copeland

Wildfires have burned twice as much acreage this year as they had on July 17 of last year, state officials say. Crosscut’s John Stang has a full report on a statewide drought briefing here. Meanwhile, a fire at a Moses Lake company forced closure of I-90, leading to detours for travelers, according to AP.

To thine own self be true, Robot.

at 12:31pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

Selmer Bringsjord, a professor Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, has demonstrated that robots can have a basic sense of self-awareness. Popular Science says he presented three old Nao robots with a deductive reasoning problem: two robots were given a “dumbing pill” (had their voices turned off), and the group was then asked which of the two couldn’t speak. They all tried to respond with, “I don’t know,” but one robot recognized its voice and promptly corrected himself, saying, “Sorry, I know now. I was able to prove that I was not given a dumbing pill.” Bringsjord describes his job as “building smarter and smarter such machines on the one hand, and philosophizing about whether they are truly conscious and free on the other.”

Police news -- illustrated!

at 12:02pm by Joe Copeland

In the latest in a series of illustrated police stories (by Callan Barry), The SLOG has the tale of a dog theft in Lake City. Guys is walking his dog, jerk comes up and steals it … don’t read it; see it: here.

slog dog theft story

City's composting law challenged

at 11:04am by Alex Cnossen

A group of Seattle residents are claiming that the city’s new composting law violates their privacy, the Seattle Times reports. The Sacramento-based Pacific Legal Foundation yesterday filed a law suit in King County Superior Court on their behalf. The city ordinance, which took effect in January,  prohibits residents from throwing food scraps in the garbage instead of their compost bins.

The foundation’s lawsuit alleges that the ordinance violates privacy rights because residents have “a reasonable expectation that the contents of their garbage cans will remain private and free from government inspection.” They also point out that there’s not really a good way to protest an infraction — a violation of due process, they say.


It may be time to retire those ‘Gone-Fishing’ signs

at 6:24am by Mark Matassa

Credit: allposters.com
Credit: allposters.com

One effect of the drought and the unusually warm summer around here is that there is less water in the rivers. That makes the water warmer, which is bad news for fish. Officials in Oregon and Washington have put new restrictions on fishing for salmon, trout, steelhead and sturgeon. “As extreme weather events become more frequent due to climate change, we need to be prepared for the stress these conditions will have on fish, wildlife and their habitats,” Ed Bowles, Oregon Fish Division Administrator, told The Oregonian.

Quake story aftershocks still coming

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

Credit: Oregon State University
Credit: Oregon State University

That grim New Yorker story explaining why the Pacific Northwest is overdue for a massive “really big one” earthquake and tsunami continues reverberating around the region. Oregon State University quake expert Chris Goldfinger joins The Oregonian for a live online chat today at 1 p.m. As a warm-up, Oregonian reporter Richard Read sat down with Goldfinger, who was featured in The New Yorker piece, for a short Q&A.

“The main thing that I’d like to see get out there, more than it does, is just that even though people are getting the idea that a magnitude-9 earthquake is big, it’s not hopeless,” Goldfinger says. “It’s manageable. It takes education. It takes planning, thoughtfulness and maybe some money. But it’s not hopeless.”

Giant Seattle hotel gets green light

at 5:12am by Mark Matassa

Credit: LMN Architects
Credit: LMN Architects

When it opens in 2018, the new “808 Howell” hotel in Seattle’s Denny Triangle will be the largest in the Pacific Northwest. The $40 million project won the city’s approval Thursday over objections of a powerful union, reports The Seattle Times. With 1,264 rooms atop a base of retail and meeting space, the hotel will soar 45 stories between Stewart and Howell streets and Eight and Ninth avenues. It will overtake the Seattle Sheraton, with 1,236 rooms, as the largest hotel in the Northwest.

Was the man who shot 4 Marines a terrorist?

at 5:02am by Mark Matassa

There’s not much evidence yet, but officials say Thursday’s deadly shootings in Tennessee will be investigated for links to Islamist terrorist groups, reports The Washington Post. The assault at two military facilities killed four Marines; and the gunman, a 24-year-old Muslim man, was shot and killed by police. President Obama, who called the violence a “heartbreaking circumstance,” avoided calling it a terrorist attack, the Post reported. Obama said, “We don’t know yet all the details” and that “a full investigation is taking place.”

Thursday 16 Jul, 2015

Greece backs down, accepts austerity steps. Seattle's building boom. The money race is on.

Rideshare for your barbecue, oversized purchases

at 4:08pm by Nina Selipsky

Cramming a giant grill, flat-screen TV or kayak into your trunk is sometimes impossible. So, Seattle startup Fleetzen has created an on-demand Uber-esque service that connects customers with owners of pickup trucks, vans or SUVs, reports Puget Sound Business Journal. The service caters to shoppers at stores like Costco, Ikea or Home Depot, who usually want same-day delivery for their oversized purchases. Items are promised to arrive within an hour (the company ensures all drivers have passed extensive background checks), with a $50 cost for deliveries taking approximately 30 minutes. The startup plans to expand from Seattle to other West Coast cities over the next year.

Amazon Prime Day, summarized in a single picture

at 3:05pm by Drew Atkins

Because sometimes, it is simply better to show than to tell. Needless to say, Amazon’s “better than Black Friday” sales did not get me the Xbox One bargain I’ve been patiently awaiting.


'Lily pad' project turns kids into superheroes

at 2:26pm by Nina Selipsky

With the help of Auburn Riverside High School students, kids are transforming from hospital patients into their favorite superheroes, movie characters and food items. In the high school’s wood shop and art classes, over a dozen students work on “lily pads” to be placed as seats on the base of IV poles at local hospitals, reports King 5. The designs range from Captain America, to Frozen’s Olaf the Snowman, to a pink sprinkled doughnut, and then the patients and their imaginations take it from there. The idea came from a 17-year-old cancer patient, Nick Konkler, who wanted to brighten the hospital experience. He died before the first pads were created, but friends say it was typical that he was thinking of others’ comfort.

Interning at Microsoft is a walk in the (Gas Works) Park

at 2:25pm by Amelia Havanec

What did your internship get you? Probably not a surprise Maroon 5 concert. Last night marked Microsoft’s exclusive Signature Event series, an entirely over-the-top celebration for the tech giant’s summer interns. Unlike some small, non-profit, online news organizations that distribute fantastic journalism, companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Boeing are known for offering their interns a slew of perks, including furnished housing with biweekly housekeeping.

To cap it off, all interns took home free Surface Pro 3’s. But don’t worry, Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine was the only one who went home to a Victoria’s Secret model.

Facebook testing online storefronts

at 1:44pm by Amelia Havanec

The world-dominating social network is testing a new feature that will help businesses list and sell products directly through Facebook. The company currently generates most of its revenue through advertising, but the potential in e-commerce hugely outweighs online ads. No wonder Facebook is interested.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained earlier this year that customers will be able to chat with sellers and track their packages within Facebook Messenger. Payments will be made via transfers between users.

E-commerce is apparently all the new rage (thanks Amazon). Earlier this week, Google also launched its own version of an e-commerce site. All those pesky adds will now be streamlined to take you directly to a checkout page thereby reducing any chance you could think twice about impulse buys.

Angry bird stakes out territory

at 1:35pm by Nina Selipsky

Don’t try parking on the rooftop lot of Seattle’s Goat Hill Parking Garage. A territorial mama seagull has staked out the area for herself and her babies, KOMO reports. The bird will dive-bomb anyone who tries to park in her space, soaring overhead and then swooping back down and forcing people to either duck or be hit. Warning signs have been posted in the lot since July 3, and King County’s Department of Executive Services plans to meet with experts (what kind of expert, exactly, is unclear at this time) to determine the best way to proceed. One thing’s for sure, this takes “Angry Birds” to a whole new level.

First AME Church members call for surveillance

at 12:02pm by David Kroman

At the First African Methodist Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill, Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole, Mayor Ed Murray and representatives from Seattle’s black community such as Rev. Harriett Walden pledged to work together to reduce shootings in Seattle. Most notable were calls from Walden and others to install cameras on “hot spot” street corners to catch shooters. The idea has been floated before with unsuccessful results. But this time, said O’Toole, the call for cameras came from the community. (More here.)

Makeover for Everett's pianos

at 8:30am by Nina Selipsky

Pianos all over Everett are getting a makeover. Kimberly Williams is one of many local artists there painting pianos in preparation for Street Tunes, an interactive art project from Aug. 5 to 25. Anyone can stop and play a tune on one of the pianos that will be on the city streets. Williams is decorating a baby grand piano in the lobby of Everett Station, reports The Herald, and she envisions the finished product looking like “grandma’s old china”– a pure white background with a blue floral pattern and glossy finish.

You won't bee-lieve what these researchers are doing

at 7:45am by Alex Cnossen

The White House is launching an initiative to protect the bees, and Washington State University researchers in Skagit County are trying to help, KING 5 reports. WSU’s Tim Lawrence and Susan Cobey are attempting to improve the bees’ overall immunity by genetically diversifying U.S bee populations with bees from Europe.

The City of Seattle recently committed itself to bee habitat restoration and conservation efforts. The White House hopes that efforts across the nation will help new scientists better understand Colony Collapse Disorder.



For presidential candidates, the money race is on

at 6:30am by Mark Matassa

Wednesday was the first deadline for campaign finance reports in the presidential race, and The New York Times has broken down the numbers every which way. Hillary Clinton’s campaign has raised the most, with $47.5 million collected through June 30. But as the Times points out, the numbers are misleading because of the vast amounts raised through super PACs. In that category, Jeb Bush has a huge advantage, with $103 million raised. Aside from the great charts and analysis, the Times presents this short video explaining the fundraising rules.


A scary fall for Papa Bush

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

Credit: AP
Credit: Associated Press

Former President George H.W. Bush, father of President George W. Bush and Republican candidate Jeb Bush, fell on Wednesday and broke a bone in his neck, but a spokesman says in a Los Angeles Times report that the 91-year-old Bush “is fine.”

Seattle’s building boom

at 5:21am by Mark Matassa

Credit: downtownseattle.com
Credit: downtownseattle.com

With 106 active development projects and 3,487 apartments opened or scheduled to open, 2015 is shaping up to be the biggest year for development in a decade, says Puget Sound Business Journal, based on numbers from the Seattle Downtown Association. The boom spans office, residential and hospitality sectors.

Greece backs down, adopts austerity steps

at 5:02am by Mark Matassa

In the end, it seems, the nation didn’t have many options if it wanted to avoid catastrophic economic failure. A proposal to accept harsh austerity measures from its creditors passed easily in Parliament on Wednesday. The concessions come with as much as $94 billion in assistance, but also may portend political trouble for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, reports The New York Times.

Wednesday 15 Jul, 2015

Iran deal announced, now what? Whatever pluto is, we got there. And you thought flying was bad.

Meat in moderation?

at 3:44pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

This is not meat in moderation Credit: Marius Boatca/Flickr

In its new series called “Meat: what’s smart, what’s right, what’s next,” Grist doesn’t imply that we should rethink vegetarianism, but it does present an interesting counterpoint: livestock make use of resources that humans do not, and also contribute resources beyond just meat. Today’s segment is headlined: “Can meat actually be eco-friendly?” The author’s answer leans toward yes. That’s hard for some commenters on the eco-oriented site to digest.

Seattle teen to attend First Lady's education summit

at 3:09pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

A local teen is going to the White House and will “hopefully meet Michelle Obama,” according to KING 5. Recent Nathan Hale graduate Devon Adelman received the invitation to the First Lady’s upcoming “Beating the Odds” summit while attending the National Down Syndrome Congress Annual Convention. The summit is part of the “Reach Higher” initiative to encourage higher learning. Adelman, who has Down Syndrome, plans to study microbiology at Highline College.

Seattle gun tax: a mixed bag

at 12:50pm by Alex Cnossen

Citizens, gun store managers, and several Seattle-based organization members voiced their opinions on Seattle’s possible gun violence tax and mandatory reporting of lost and stolen firearms to city officials Wednesday morning.

While gun-safety advocate Cheryl Stumbo called the measures, “common sense ordinances,” representatives from gun retailers and the Washington State Citizens Committee for the Right to Bear Arms bemoaned the propositions.

The tax, proposed be Seattle City Council President Tim Burgess in June, would impose a $25, business and occupation style tax for firearms and a $0.05 tax on ammunition sold in Seattle. Burgess’ second proposal would require individuals to report their lost or stolen guns to authorities within 24 hours or face a civil infraction.

The revenue earned from this tax would go to Harborview Medical Center to increase gun-safety awareness. The city says it’s hard to estimate exactly how much the tax would bring in, but officials estimate anywhere between $300,000 and $500,000.


It's a bird! It's a plane! It's ... an Oregon mystery

at 12:46pm by Jacob Nierenberg

Our neighbors in Portland love to wear their weirdness on their sleeves, but this time they may have truly outdone themselves. As The Oregonian reports (and one puckish Portlander tweeted), someone has been chucking sex toys into power lines, hanging them up there the way less-weird people would do with shoes. A local boutique has been suspected of some as being the culprit, but as it turns out they don’t even sell dildos. The mystery deepens…

The Oregonian delivers the weird news. Photo credit: Beth Nakamura/Oregonian
The Oregonian delivers the weird news. Photo credit: Beth Nakamura/Oregonian

YouTube social experiment: 'gay couple' does Moscow

at 10:47am by Marissa Brent-Tookey

The BBC’s Trending blog comments today on a video by Russian YouTube pranksters ChebuRussiaTV that has drawn an unusual amount of international attention. That’s probably because of its street-level observation of a hot button topic: homophobic abuse. Two male actors held hands while strolling through Moscow landmarks, and the crew’s hidden camera caught passerbys’ reactions, which included shoving as well as nasty remarks. The video is not the first of its kind, but it’s unique for the level of aggression the actors experienced.

Amazon sells out with "Prime Day"

at 10:44am by Jacob Nierenberg

Amazon’s Prime Day sales were hyped as having “more deals than Black Friday,” but for many shoppers, Prime Day proved frustrating. Many of Amazon’s so-called “Lightning Deals” — which promised savings on everything from electronics to clothing to office supplies — vanished like, well, a bolt from the blue. Disgruntled customers took to Twitter with their outrage; personal favorites include “When I die I want whoever’s responsible for #AmazonPrimeDay to lower me into my grave so they can let me down one last time” and “So basically, I can have disappointment shipped for free. #PrimeDay”. Revel in such misery to your heart’s content here.

And you thought flying was bad

at 6:05am by Mark Matassa

Pity the flight attendant. Like the passengers, they have to put up with screaming babies, drunk or hotheaded travelers, unhealthy seat neighbors and indiscreet behavior. Plus they have to monitor all of it and often clean up a mess too. The experience is so awful, reports Buzzfeed, that many airline workers have taken to social media to air their complaints.

Whatever Pluto is, we got there

at 5:59am by Mark Matassa

Credit: NASA
Credit: NASA

Just about ever since they decided Pluto’s not a planet anymore, NASA’s New Horizon’s spacecraft has been speeding toward the …  what – object, dwarf planet … headline writers have been careful with their descriptions. On Tuesday the spacecraft got there — 72 seconds early, in fact – and has begun beaming back high-def images. Pretty cool stuff. The Los Angeles Times has good coverage, along with a newly rounded-out video of our solar system, from the Sun to Pluto.

Iran deal announced. Now what?

at 5:02am by Mark Matassa

All sides worked hard for a long time on the Iran nuclear agreement announced Tuesday. But the issue is far from settled. Congress has 60 days to review the deal, and Republican leaders immediately vowed to derail it, reports The New York Times. Middle East allies of the U.S. don’t like it either, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it “a historic mistake for the world.” In other elements of its coverage, the Times offers a useful “simple guide to the Iran nuclear deal.”

Finally, President Obama sat down for a 47-minute exclusive interview with Times columnist Thomas Friedman to make his case for the agreement.

Tuesday 14 Jul, 2015

'Historic' nuclear deal with Iran. The really big one. Teen girl rescues herself after plane crash. Can Edgar save the Mariners?

SPU not panicking, but has water plans

at 4:50pm by David Kroman

Last week, Seattle Public Utilities downgraded the water outlook for the region from “good” to “fair.” Because of less than average rainfall and minimal snowpack in the mountains, Alex Chen of SPU told the Seattle City Council Public Utilities and Neighborhoods Committee on Tuesday that the South Fork Tolt River and Cedar River watersheds have been drawn down to levels not normally seen for another month.

There’s no reason for Puget Sound residents to panic just yet. There is enough water to last until next fall. But if the situation does get worse, SPU has a contingency plan up its sleeve. The steps of that plan range from begging to requiring customers to use less water. The final step would impose harsh charges and penalties on those still using too much water.

So far, said SPU Director Ray Hoffman, people are proving that they’re paying attention. With very little outreach, SPU has already seen customers use less water than they normally do.

Relief over Eric Garner deal

at 11:33am by Jacob Nierenberg

The long and tragic tale of the killing of Eric Garner is one step closer to its resolution. New York City will pay the Garner’s family $5.9 million in an out-of-court settlement, with the agreement coming just days before the first anniversary of Garner’s death, July 17. The agreement prevented a long and costly legal battle that would very likely have been much more trying for both parties. A New York Daily News editorial calls the agreement a “wise and humane” by the city, which would have almost certainly been found liable. Though the officers who restrained Garner were cleared of state criminal charges by a grand jury, and an NYPD internal investigation has been closed, a federal investigation is ongoing.

Pentagon hopes to lift ban on transgender troops

at 11:21am by Jacob Nierenberg

CNN, The New York Times, TIME, and countless others report that the Pentagon is finalizing plans to allow openly transgender people to serve in the U.S. military. While the announcement may bring back memories of the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in 2011, the current movements are a little more complicated than that. In the case of transgender soldiers, the military must iron out policies around whether the soldiers wish to transition through hormones and/or surgery, as well as other medical and legal issues. But the Pentagon hopes that the new policy will be in effect by early next year. It is estimated that more than 15,000 transgender people are currently enlisted in the military.

Bertha: schedule also delayed

at 11:09am by Alex Cnossen

It seems like more than a few things are complicated when it comes to Bertha. Last week, tunnel contractors told the state Department of Transportation  when the 57-foot tunnel boring machine would get back to work, but the DOT doesn’t want to share the details until it has fully reviewed the plan, KOMO reports. According to a DOT spokesperson the 250-page report shows “a complicated schedule,” different from prior schedules released by the project’s contractor.

In the spring, the tunnel’s contractors projected a November 2017 completion date. Until we hear more, we’re taking that with a grain of salt.

Access Seattle pushes for more construction mitigation

at 10:52am by David Kroman

As the economy found stronger footing and Seattle began to grow, the transition from bust to boom left the city underprepared and understaffed to mitigate the impacts of construction on small business. On Capitol Hill, business owners’ frustration with the speed of government has reached a boiling point as Crosscut wrote last month.

Access Seattle, the interdepartmental team responsible for softening the blow of construction, showed they understood these frustrations Tuesday. Representative of Access Seattle, plus Mike Wells of the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce, pressed the Seattle City Council’s Transportation Committee to fund more inspectors capable of ensuring developers are playing by the rules and that businesses aren’t overwhelmed by construction. Unfortunately for impatient business owners, the new positions can’t be approved until budget talks next fall.

Can Edgar save the Mariners?

at 6:38am by Mark Matassa

Credit: USAToday.com
Credit: USAToday.com

Today is baseball’s annual All-Star Game, with pitcher Felix Hernandez and designated hitter Nelson Cruz representing the Mariners. The game marks the traditional halfway point of the season and a good time to assess the hometown nine. Seattle Times columnist Larry Stone, holding out hope, says the Mariners’ recent hiring of Edgar Martinez as hitting coach already is helping the lackluster offense, and should improve the stats of some of the team’s light-hitting younger players. The Ms, with a 41-48 record, are one game out of last place in the weak American League West.

Teen rescues herself after North Cascades plane crash

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

Credit: Instagram
Credit: Instagram

She never liked watching “Survivor” on TV with her dad, but 16-year-old Autumn Veatch gave the show some credit for her incredible return home to Bellingham. Authorities figured Veatch and her step-grandparents were dead after their small plane went down last week. Instead, the girl followed drainage down to a river through rough terrain, reports The Seattle Times, and then followed the river to a road, where she was picked up Monday and taken to a hospital. She went two days without food or water but is now in good condition.

The really big one

at 5:17am by Mark Matassa

In a grim but fascinating read, The New Yorker’s Kathryn Schulz lays out what will happen when the enormous earthquake hits the Pacific Northwest. Not if, but when. Schulz writes in clear, direct passages, including describing in simple terms how to understand the geological forces that cause earthquakes. And she makes the case that a massive quake in the “Cascadia subduction zone” will be bigger, stronger and much more damaging than any on the San Andreas fault in California.

“Counting from the earthquake of 1700,” established through incredible scientific detective work, “we are now 315 years into a 243-year cycle,” the story says.

‘Historic’ nuclear deal with Iran

at 5:02am by Mark Matassa

Secretary of State John Kerry with other world leaders. Credit: AP
Secretary of State John Kerry with other world leaders. Credit: AP

After a year and a half of negotiations, including “17 grueling days of final talks” in Vienna, says The Washington Post, the United States and four other nations have reached a deal with Iran on its nuclear program. The agreement, expected to be announced today, will end decades of economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for what the Post calls “sharp restriction on its nuclear program.” Details of the agreement weren’t available Monday night.

Monday 13 Jul, 2015

Inventive Nintendo president dies from cancer at 55. Tunneling toward a new tunnel schedule. A great weekend at Wimbledon.

Drought relief fund approved

at 3:57pm by Alex Cnossen

Soak it up, Seattle: state officials today approved a drought relief fund to help address hardships from water shortages. The $16 million fund will be used to protect public health and safety or to reduce economic and environmental impacts from water shortage, Q13 reports. The money is mainly for public entities, such as cities, public utilities and irrigation districts. The Washington Department of Ecology is accepting grant applications for public projects to the same effect.

Orphan river otter finds new home

at 3:52pm by Nina Selipsky

There’s a new otter in town at the Oregon Zoo in Portland. Last month, the pup had been spotted wandering alongside a highway hungry, dehydrated and incapable of surviving without his mother, according to a report posted on KOMO.  The Chintimini Wildlife Center in Corvallis nursed the young river otter back to health, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife then contacted the Oregon Zoo to see if it had space available. The Oregon Zoo has experience with orphaned animals, as its adult otters, Tilly and B.C., were also rescued. Senior keeper Julie Christie describes the new otter as “spunky,” and says he can be found playing in his pool, eating voraciously and grooming himself.

'Summer slide': It's not a theme park ride

at 3:39pm by Nina Selipsky

With so many outdoor activities this time of year, it can be difficult for kids to dive into math exercises or pick up a book  — and that leads to the so-called “summer slide” in students’ reading and math skills during three study-free months. This summer, according to KING 5, 300 kids across five different school districts in Kitsap and Pierce counties are taking part in Summer Boost, a five-week program that started as a pilot project last year. They spend a few hours each day reading and working on math problems before heading off to fun activities. The University of Washington Tacoma is tracking the students’ progress as part of a research project on student engagement.

Seattle Public Library's Wi-Fi hotspots are hot

at 2:21pm by Nina Selipsky

Your Seattle Public Library card goes beyond books and movies now. In late May, SPL announced a program to lend Wi-Fi hotspots to library card holders and, according to GeekWire, the hotspots are definitely a hot commodity. There were 81 checkouts of the devices within the first hour of the first press event, and 175 holds on the 126 devices by the end of the first day. Now, the library has a wait list of nearly 1,300 people, and another 200 units are being added to circulation due to an additional $80,000 grant from Google.

The program was set up in reaction to a 2014 report that found 15 percent of Seattleites didn’t have home Internet access. The project was funded by Google, who gave $225,000 to cover the hotspots as well as digital literacy training and the opportunity to begin checking out laptops at some point. The program will run through May 2016, at which point the library will either have to find another source of funding or shut down the program.

Edmonds fishing pier survives

at 1:45pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

The Edmonds fishing pier will stand for a while longer, thanks to $800,000 from the

Edmonds pier Credit: ericnvntr/Flickr
Edmonds pier Credit: ericnvntr/Flickr

state to make long-overdue repairs. The rest of the project’s $1.6 million has been cobbled together with other state grants and city funds, according to the Herald. Most repair work will be on the foundation, and will begin next spring. Without the project, the pier would have been at risk of closure.

Exercise caution buying Seahawks tickets

at 1:16pm by Alex Cnossen

Single-game tickets for the Seahawks went on sale today, but be careful, the Better Business Bureau warns: Some tickets purchased under the table may be counterfeit. They offer a few tips, including using credit card to purchase them, buying from credible sources, and being suspicious of deals that are too good to be true. Some fans fell victim to counterfeit purchases last year after official sources sold out in minutes.

Whooping cough on the rise in Clark County

at 12:45pm by Jacob Nierenberg

Clark County health officials are worried that whooping cough has hit, in their words, “outbreak levels.” As County Public Health Director Dr. Alan Melnick told KOMO, some 237 cases of whooping cough have been confirmed in Clark County this year. This time last year, the count was 21, marking nearly a twelvefold increase. Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, begins with symptoms similar to the common cold — sneezing, runny nose, weak fever — before the titular cough sets in, lasting around two weeks.

Perhaps this, coupled with the recent measles fatality (the country’s first in twelve years) will serve as a reminder to parents: Vaccinate your children. Celebrities are not scientists, and alternative medicine is usually pseudoscience. If you are a Clark County resident, you can find information about places to get immunized here.

More than 250 "Safe Places" to stop gay hate crimes

at 12:20pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

A Safe Place decal
A Safe Place decal Credit: Seattle Police Department

Officer Jim Ritter of the Seattle Police Department has launched the Safe Place program on Capitol Hill in an effort to combat the recent rise in hate crimes against gay residents. Businesses with the Safe Place decal in their window report incidents and offer protection to victims. KING 5 reports that the neighborhood program is so popular that it has spread beyond its 250 or so participating Capitol Hill businesses; Ritter has started sending decals to other cities. (For a look at the problem as it was emerging, check out this Crosscut report from last summer.)


Amazon vs. Walmart: an online sales smackdown

at 12:16pm by Alex Cnossen

Walmart may be the world’s largest retailer, but it’s been playing catch-up this year with Amazon’s online sales. In a blog post today, Walmart’s president and CEO, Fernando Madeira said the company will now rival Amazon’s July 15th ‘Prime Day’ with “thousands of great deals” and “special atomic deals.”

Madeira’s not trying to be subtle — at the top of the post, a banner reads, “No Admission Fee. You shouldn’t have to pay $100 to get great deals” — a clear jab at Amazon Prime’s $99 membership fees. The company’s even matching Amazon’s $35 minimum purchase for free shipping option, CBS News reports. Usually, Walmart requires at least $50 in goods for free shipping. After Wednesday, sales are set to continue for 90 days.


Trolls: they don't just live under the Fremont Bridge

at 12:05pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

The Fremont Troll grabs a car Credit: Calvin Hodgson
The Fremont Troll grabs a car Credit: Calvin Hodgson/Flickr

Patent trolls are an increasingly common hurdle for innovators these days, says GeekWire, in reference to a report released by Unified Patents. Startups actually wanting to build new technology face disputes brought on by “non-practicing entities,” many of whom are based in Texas and are represented by the same law firm. While trolls have been responsible for 68 percent of  patent litigation in the first half of 2015, that jumps to 90 percent within the tech industry. The most popular targets? Apple, Actavis (a pharmaceutical company) and Amazon.

It's time for Pluto to shine

at 10:50am by Alex Cnossen

Pluto’s stepping out of the icy edges of the solar system and into our living rooms. Tomorrow, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will sweep past the dwarf planent and its moons after traveling more than nine years and 3 billion miles to get there, NBC reports.

The main goal of the mission is to map out Pluto and its largest moon, Charon. NASA also hopes to obtain pictures of at least a couple of Pluto’s four smaller moons as well. Scientists say the pictures will help them understand how planets were formed billions of years ago.

Coalition to hire young workers

at 10:49am by Marissa Brent-Tookey

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has recruited 17 other big employers, including Microsoft and Alaska Airlines, to what he’s calling the “100,000 Opportunities Initiative.” The goal is to hire 100,000 unemployed young people by the end of 2018. According to KIRO TV, the initiative’s members will also sponsor job fairs across the U.S.  It’s hard to imagine such members as like Walmart, Taco Bell and CVS would need the motivation of an initiative to hire young people at low or minimum wages, but we’ll find out in two years whether it will put a dent in the 5.5 million unemployed.

Aquarium expansion details released today

at 10:40am by Alex Cnossen

Keep your eyes peeled: The Seattle Aquarium is set to release the details of it’s Waterfront expansion this evening. Thier website states that the expansion will “include new exhibits about our changing environment, additional capacity to serve our growing population, more space for education and outreach, an expanded role as a leader in advocacy and policy, and increased research on our marine environment.”

This will mark the largest expansion and renovation since it opened in 1977.

Two housing announcements Monday morning

at 7:15am by David Kroman

Mayor Ed Murray will officially reveal recommendations from his housing task force group, the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), Monday morning. Of interest will be whether these recommendations, which show a newfound focus on increasing density in Seattle, have changed much from the draft leaked last week by Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat.

Immediately after the announcement from the mayor’s office, housing activist and HALA member Jonathan Grant will issue his own recommendations with the support of Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata. For some, last week’s leaked document goes too easy on developers. Grant’s proposal will likely look more similar to the recommendations of the Community Housing Caucus, an alternative housing group formed last winter. That group has emphasized charging developers who don’t build affordable housing, using the city’s bonding capacity to fund low-income housing, and pushing the state to repeal the ban on rent control.

‘Shuttered businesses don’t pay taxes’

at 6:13am by Mark Matassa

Seattle Councilman Tim Burgess made headlines last week when he proposed new taxes on gun sales. This was a way, he said, to curb gun violence and also help the city budget to the tune of $300,000 to $500,000 a year. Seattle Times reporter Daniel Beekman hit the gun stores to find out how the plan might play out. One firearms dealer, on Aurora Avenue North near Green Lake, said he’s operating on such tight margins that the proposal, if it became law, likely would put him out of business or push him out to the suburbs. For that reason, the shop owner said, he doubts Burgess’s plan would raise $300,000. “Shuttered businesses,” he said, “don’t pay taxes.”

Tunneling toward a new tunnel schedule

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

Credit: Seattle Times
Credit: Seattle Times

Plenty of starts, restarts and reboots later, state officials aren’t in a big hurry to announce when Bertha, the Seattle waterfront’s troubled tunneling machine, will get back to work. Even though they already know the date, reports The Seattle Times’ excellent transportation writer Mike Lindblom. Gov. Jay Inslee was briefed about a new timetable on Friday, but is not ready to discuss it.

A great weekend at Wimbledon

at 5:12am by Mark Matassa

Credit: AP Images
Credit: AP Images

Roger Federer missed his bid for an eight Wimbledon title, losing Sunday to No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic in four sets. The match seemed closer than the score, with some phenomenal serving, shot-making and incredibly hard-fought points. On the women’s side, Serena Williams dispatched Garbine Muguruza of Spain in straight sets, and she’s closing in on the Grand Slam – winning Wimbledon and the Australian, French and U.S. Opens in the same calendar year. Only three women have done that: Maureen Connolly in 1953, Margaret Court in 1970 and Steffi Graf in 1988. The New York Times’ coverage of the weekend at Wimbledon was top-notch, including a dazzling computer graphic showing how it would feel to face a 150 mph serve.

Inventive Nintendo president dies from cancer at 55

at 5:02am by Mark Matassa

Credit: Gamerevolution.com
Credit: Gamerevolution.com

Satoru Iwasta, who led the company’s successful run in the video-game business as the champion of the Wii console and other products, died Saturday of bile-duct cancer, reports The Seattle Times. Iwata ran the company from Japan, including overseeing the subsidiary Nintendo of America, based in Redmond.

Friday 10 Jul, 2015

China's hack exposed 21.5 million Americans. Greece accepts austerity to get debt relief. I can has new CEO?

Ellen Pao's latest career twist

at 3:33pm by Joe Copeland

It’s a Friday afternoon bombshell: Reddit says the company and Interim CEO Ellen Pao are parting ways, in a mutual decision. Time notes that the announcement praised Pao – and it knocked members of the Reddit community for death threats to her in a controversy over whether the site was engaged in censorship. Pao recently lost a high profile lawsuit over gender discrimination in Silicon Valley.

Weather like you've never seen it before

at 3:15pm by Joe Copeland

Weather satellite captureJapan has an advanced weather satellite that creates some of the most amazingly detailed images of Earth and its weather systems you could imagine. The Himawari-8 satellite, launched last October, just went into full operation this week, and its cameras, twice as powerful as those of a predecessor, are already being credited with alerting scientists to a possible massive El Niño event (which usually means an unusually warm, dry winter in the Northwest with little snow). Check out a New York Times report for both still and video images. NASA and NOAA plan to launch a similar satellite next March.

From Longview to Seattle, with color

at 2:50pm by Joe Copeland

A Longview company’s work on the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement is changing a bit of the Seattle skyline. The Wayron Co. there fabricated eight 40-foot-long ventilation stacks, four of which were being installed this week, according to The Daily News of Longview article (written by  Marissa Luck, a former Crosscut intern).  They are the most visible part of a ventilation system for the waterfront tunnel that will be built by Bertha — if it ever gets moving again.

Work continues on parts of the waterfront tunnel, like these air ventilation stacks. But what if the tunnel is never completed?
WSDOT photo

Duwamish, White Center areas targeted for Seattle annexation

at 2:15pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

A hearing near the end of the month will set in motion decisions to determine whether Seattle will annex the first of two unincorporated neighborhoods south of downtown. Around 100 people live in the section along the Duwamish River, according to KING 5, and they could end up voting late this year or in 2016 on whether to be annexed into Seattle. The North Highline neighborhood, including White Center, is a much bigger, with a population of about 20,000. Burien tried to annex the latter a few years ago, but residents voted that down. A vote there might not happen until 2018.

As it stands now, the City of Seattle could get a total of $5 million in sales tax rebates from the state if the annexations are approved, but it’s hoping for $8 million. Even then, an official tells KING that the city would spend more in services than it receives in new taxes.

Whole lot of artists on Vancouver's Granville Street

at 1:20pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey

Sony Pictures Imageworks just opened a brand-new headquarters on Granville Street in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, encompassing 6,900 square feet and housing 700 artists. According to the Vancouver Sun, a digital effects and animation studio has been stationed in Vancouver since 2010, although it only had 80 employees at that point. Sony Imageworks has had a hand in the effects for the Spider-Man movies, Big Fish and Godzilla.

Just when you thought they'd never leave ...

at 1:14pm by Joe Copeland

The Washington Legislature ended its work early this afternoon, bringing a quiet end to the longest session in state history. Crosscut’s John Stang has a story on legislators’ final votes here. More commentary and reports will follow.

Pronto bike share headed to the Eastside?

at 12:15pm by Joe Copeland

The state Transportation budget includes a surprise: $5.5 million for King County Metro to expand bike sharing to the Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond and Issaquah, according to the Seattle Transit Blog.  Guest writer Jason Shindler says the expansion might well be handled by Pronto, which has launched the first phase of service in Seattle. Working from a King County Metro business plan, Shindler developed a map with suggestions for possible locations in Bellevue. Noting the importance of density for a sharing service, he says, “The only oddball is Issaquah.”

FBI missed chance to stop Dylann Roof's gun purchase

at 11:57am by Joe Copeland

FBI Director James Comey says problems with records contributed to letting Dylann Roof slip through a gun purchase background check that should have disqualified him from buying the weapon used to kill nine people in Charleston, South Carolina. A veteran agency worker made a number of attempts to get more information about him but the records misdirected some of her records; an attempt to contact the county prosecutor’s office reportedly produced no response, although the circumstances aren’t clear. The details are still sketchy but USA Today provides a particularly good initial account.

Hot off the Internet: Harper Lee's first 'Watchman' chapter

at 11:35am by Marissa Brent-Tookey

Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” follow-up, “Go Set a Watchman” has seen its fair share of controversy, and it hasn’t even been released yet. But as of today, the Washington Post and the Guardian both have the first chapter online for anyone to read (or listen to, as narrated by Reese Witherspoon). So prepare for a flood of praise and criticism. People are already getting creative in their commentary: CNN compares the release to an ABBA reunion, a Twitter user decries the chapter’s lack of sharks, and the Stranger wishes Witherspoon read with a slightly slurred Southern drawl. Digressions aside, there’s a lot of excitement over Lee’s first published book in 55 years — on shelves July 14.

Omar Sharif dies at 83

at 10:40am by Marissa Brent-Tookey

The versatile film actor Omar Sharif (born Michel Shalhoub) died today in Cairo of a heart attack. He started out with grade school theater, attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and achieved stardom in 1950s Egyptian cinema. Sharif’s big international break came when he played Sherif Ali in Lawrence of Arabia. He wasn’t pigeonholed, though, taking on roles ranging from Russian poet Dr. Zhivago to Jewish gambler Nicky Arnstein to a German officer. According to the BBC, Sharif mostly put movies aside in the 1990s to focus on his career as a professional bridge player.

Omar Sharif received an honorary degree from the UK's University of Hull in 2010 Credit: David Morris/Flickr
Omar Sharif received an honorary degree from the UK’s University of Hull in 2010 Credit: David Morris/Flickr

A ticker tape parade: For the soccer heroes

at 8:34am by Joe Copeland

New York is putting on a ticker tape parade for the World Cup-winning United States women’s soccer team. It will wrap up with a ceremony at City Hall hosted by Mayor Bill de Blasio. You can watch the Live Stream through Watch ESPN. This is the first time the city has put on a parade for a women’s team, NPR notes; in 1960, there was a ticker tape parade for Olympic skating gold medalist Carol Heiss Jenkins.

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 8.42.09 AM


Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 8.36.35 AM

I Can Has New CEO?

at 6:49am by Mark Matassa

Credit: Cheezburger.com
Credit: Cheezburger.com

Ben Huh, the founder and leader of the popular Seattle-based humor site Cheezburger.com, is stepping aside. The site got famous with silly cat videos and other goofy quote-unquote humor, but has never turned a profit. Cheezburger President and Chief Operating Officer Scott Moore takes over, reports The Seattle Times.

Greece accepts austerity to get debt relief

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

In today’s Greek economy news, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras backtracked a bit on Thursday, conceding that an austerity plan by European leaders might not be so bad after all. In return, Tsipras sought a $59 billion bailout and a discussion about restricting the nation’s existing debt, reports The New York Times.

‘I have heard enough about heritage’

at 5:14am by Mark Matassa

In this week’s historic South Carolina legislative vote to remove the Confederate flag from the capitol grounds, no message could have been more powerful than Rep. Jenny Horne’s speech on the House floor. In a very emotional, very powerful speech, Horne demanded that the House pass the measure immediately, lest it go into a summer-long conference committee. Horne, a Republican, reminded her colleagues that she is a descendant of Jefferson Davis. The National Memo has the story and video.

China’s hack exposed 21.5 million Americans

at 5:02am by Mark Matassa

It was even worse than they thought. The latest estimate is that the “colossal breach of government computer systems,” as The New York Times puts it, compromised the personal information of 21.5 million Americans, and not just government workers. The Office of Personnel Management said two related hacks stole Social Security numbers, fingerprints, addresses and financial history.

Thursday 9 Jul, 2015

Not just another skyscraper. When the economy tanks, spend! More than a century of Seattle pot news.

Will TV sets survive the next generation?

at 3:14pm by Alex Cnossen

The times they are a changin’. A recent report from Miner & Co. Studio says that the TV is no longer the screen of choice for kids with access to smarphones to tablets. According to the study, some kids become so obsessed with their screens that they’ll even trade in their treats for a bit more time with their portable video device.

The authors say that the long-term effects for broadcasters are unknown, but point out that all ad-supported kids channels (except for Cartoon Network) are experiencing significant ratings declines.


U.S. officials want that encrypted data

at 2:13pm by Amelia Havanec

Top FBI and Justice Department officials have been on Capitol Hill this week to discuss encryption technology and the balance between public safety and privacy. Security features that are put in place to keep data private is working a little too well, they claim. Internet “dark space,” or encrypted data, makes it harder for the feds to monitor and intercept messages from terrorist suspects, who reach U.S. followers online, and pedophiles, who conceal pornographic images. So law enforcement wants “keys” to unlock the data, but Silicon Valley is pushing back.

Tech companies say encryption protects from hackers and that their customers have a right to private communications.

Tech billionaires go to "summer camp"

at 1:44pm by Amelia Havanec

This week kicked off the annual Allen & Co conference, as tech CEOs convene in Sun Valley, Idaho for what is popularly known as “summer camp for billionaires.” The week-long event is very exclusive — the grounds are off-limits to the press — so that tech CEOs can engage in business and power lunches in-between rafting and golf. The conference is famous for planting the seed in which some mega deals have happened in the past: AOL sold to Verizon for $4.4 billion in a deal that closed last month, Comcast acquired a majority stake in NBC Universal in 2013, and the same year Jeff Bezos of Amazon bought the Washington Post for $250 million. Among those in attendance this year are Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Further threats to journalistic freedom in Egypt

at 12:45pm by Harrison Lee

MyNorthwest reports on an open letter written by the Committee to Protect Journalists to Egypt’s president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. The letter requests that he not sign two draft laws that would threaten the freedom of press in the country. One law would jail reporters who produce information on terror attacks that contradicts official statements. The other would give jurisdiction to authorities to “pursue prison terms” against people on the Internet who commit crimes such as “threatening national unity.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists recently found that 18 journalists were already imprisoned in Egypt, a record. The letter to the president can be found here.


Counting calories? The FDA is here to help

at 12:00pm by Alex Cnossen

The Food and Drug Administration may be trying to help with your 2017 new year’s resolution. NBC reports that the agency is giving restaurants a little more than a year to add calorie counts to their menus, extending the deadline to December 2016. The FDA’s definition of a restaurant is broad: It includes movie theaters, pizza joints and salad bars.  There’s been a lot of controversy over the calorie listings, but the FDA hopes the menus will help people make wiser choices — eventually.

JBLM cutbacks could be worse

at 11:44am by Alex Cnossen

Many soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord probably breathed a sigh of relief — cutbacks at the Washington state military base won’t be as bad as previously thought. But there’s still bad news: About 1,250 JBLM soldiers will lose their jobs over the next two years, The News Tribune reports.  JBLM will also terminate an unspecified number of civilian positions.

JBLM had faced a reduction of up to 11,000 civilian and military positions. The cutbacks are part of a nationwide, 40,000-troop draw down. After cutbacks, JBLM will be left with roughly 25,000 active-duty soldiers.


Washington's water supply is slipping

at 10:22am by Alex Cnossen

According to the Drought Monitor, Washington’s water woes are getting worse. An official drought index used by scientists and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the monitor showed Wednesday that 86 percent of the state is wrapped up in a severe drought — up from 15 percent at the start of the year, KIRO reports.

Seattle Public Utilities has changed its water supply outlook from good to fair. Since May, people have been using 21 percent more water than expected, SPU says. Water restrictions aren’t yet in place, but SPU urges customers to use water wisely. Weekly update are posted on their website.


Paying a bill of Ballmerian proportions

at 7:57am by Joe Copeland

Commentary from business writers on Microsoft’s latest layoff announcement and the related writeoff of $7.6 billion from the purchase of phonemaker Nokia: The company is cleaning up after Steve Ballmer. A Reuters columnist says buying Nokia “was the last in a string of bad deals struck by Chief Executive Satya Nadella’s predecessor.” A New York Times story says Wednesday’s announcement “the deal was a multibillion-dollar strategic blunder by Mr. Ballmer.”

More than a century of Seattle pot news

at 6:45am by Mark Matassa

Credit: Seattle Times
Credit: Seattle Times

For all the “laugh addicts” out there, the Seattle Times recounts and republishes some of its marijuana coverage over the past 115 years. The tribute marks the one-year anniversary of legal pot, the Times says. “Marijuana turned musicians in Chicago into ‘laugh addicts,’ according to a 1928 account. A 1940 dispatch from New York recounted that ‘Harlem Negroes’ had invented a new lexicon related to marijuana.” More recent coverage includes the report Wednesday that King County is rolling medical marijuana shops into the legal-pot system.

In South Carolina, Confederate flag comes down

at 6:12am by Mark Matassa

confederate-flag-9Fifty years later – well, 150, really – the rebel state South Carolina has voted to remove the Confederate war flag from the capitol grounds. After a very contentious debate on Wednesday, the South Carolina House approved a measure already passed by the Senate and endorsed by the governor to move the flag to the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, near the Capitol, reports The New York Times. The flag has flown there for more than 50 years, but the Civil War ended 150 years ago, in 1865.


When the economy tanks, spend!

at 5:09am by Mark Matassa

In Greece, where the economy is in shambles and expulsion from the Eurozone seems imminent, consumers apparently are worried about losing their savings. So they’re buying stuff, in astonishing quantities, says The New York Times. “We have sold so much,” said one retail worker. “We even sold display models. People have been pulling at my sleeves. We’re spacing things out now to cover the holes on the shelves.”

Not just another skyscraper

at 5:02am by Mark Matassa

Credit: Seattle Times
Credit: Seattle Times

A new project planned for downtown Seattle would create the city’s second-tallest building. But this would be no ordinary tower. The new building, proposed by developer Greg Smith, would have a “doughnut” design with offices surrounding a 616-foot-high atrium “that would bathe the interior offices with natural light and give pedestrians walking beneath the tower a view of the sky.” The Seattle Times has the details.

Wednesday 8 Jul, 2015

A Seattle tax on gun sales? Workshops for aspiring Northwest writers. Flying into the fireworks.

PCC announces new Bothell store

at 1:53pm by Nina Selipsky

PCC’s 11th store is scheduled to open in 2016 in the Canyon Park area of Bothell. Located at 22621 Bothell Everett Highway, it will be 25,000 square feet and hire around 130 new full- and part-time employees, reports Puget Sound Business Journal. It will be the fifth in the outlying cities (if you don’t count West Seattle as its own city).

PCC is not the only natural foods-oriented store looking to expand – Bellingham-based Haggen is opening 146 new locations, including eight in the Seattle area, and Whole Foods has a new store near Seattle University and Swedish Medical Center scheduled for 2018. It sounds like Washington may be gearing up for a natural foods “Hunger Games.”

Fast food, even faster

at 1:07pm by Alex Cnossen

Craving a chalupa? Reach for your phone, not the car keys – today marks the day that Taco Bell starts their delivery service in more than 90 cities and 200 restaurants. The service is made possible through a partnership with the startup delivery company DoorDash, the Associated Press reports. Pricing and delivery costs will vary, depending on which city you’re in and what restaurant you’re ordering from.

The delivery service isn’t available in Seattle — but we’re guessing we’ll see it here muy pronto.

Broadway attendee: The phone must go on

at 11:45am by Marissa Brent-Tookey

Broadway posters in Times Square
Broadway posters in Times Square Credit: Broadway Tour/Flickr

An audience member hopped onto the stage at “Hand to God,” a Broadway show, last Thursday. He didn’t think it was karaoke night. He wasn’t out to get his five minutes of fame. He was on the hunt for an outlet to charge his phone, and didn’t seem to notice that the one he found was a nonfunctioning set detail.

Rajini Vaidyanathan of the BBC sees it as symptomatic of a widespread compulsion: Nomophobia, the fear of being disconnected from one’s phone. And you’re not connected if the battery runs out.

Desperate measures are understandable in the aftermath of a hurricane. But at the theatre? One has to wonder whether Mr. Nomophobia was more upset about being told off by the stage crew or about the lack of charge from the fake outlet.

Participatory budgeting is a go

at 11:34am by David Kroman

Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Nick Licata will move forward with a little experiment known as “participatory budgeting.”  The name sort of explains itself: In the 2016 city budget, $500,000 will be set aside for youth participating in the budget process to spend as they please (almost). Licata has been exploring the idea since February when he hosted a public forum on the process. (Here’s our full report from that event.)

In cities like New York where the process has been tested, citizens pitch ideas, eventually deciding on two or three projects to fund. Standard projects tend to be gardens, benches, playgrounds and community centers.

Fun fact: Despite its socialist beginnings in Brazil and its support from the progressive Licata here, participatory budgeting has the strongest support from the historically austere World Bank. Why? Depends on whom you ask. Some think the bank likes it as a way to show citizens how difficult budgeting really is and, perhaps, to thereby increase support for privatization. Others (even more conspiracy-minded folks) think the bank supports it to distract citizens from larger issues as they fight over scraps. But considering the relatively small amount of money here, the Seattle experiment would seem more likely just to pique the interest of youth in city politics.

Caught in the act: drivers illegally passing school buses

at 11:19am by Nina Selipsky

Last winter, the Bethel School District in Pierce County mounted cameras on five school buses in an attempt to catch drivers illegally passing the buses. The attempt worked: 149 citations have been issued so far, and another 89 potential violations from June are awaiting review, reports The News Tribune. Costing $394 each, the violations have resulted in over $48,000 in additional revenue for the district, mostly to be used on student safety. Bethel is one of the first districts in the state to use the state law passed several years ago allowing traffic cameras on school buses.

911 texting added in Snohomish County

at 10:07am by Marissa Brent-Tookey

A 911-texting service is coming to Snohomish County, reports KING 5. It’s not meant to be a substitute for calling, as there are many limitations (a lack of location information, no multilingual translation, among others). Dispatchers recommend it only in situations where calling is not possible. Kitsap, which started a similar program in March, has received few texts so far. It’s estimated that, nationwide in 2014, more than 8,000 texts were sent to 911 emergency dispatch centers that did not have text capabilities.

Microsoft trims its numbers - again

at 9:35am by Alex Cnossen

Today, Microsoft announced that it will lay off up to 7,800 employees, the Associated Press reports. Most of the jobs will be cut from the smartphone hardware business. This is the second major restructuring at the company in two years. After acquiring Nokia in 2014, Microsoft announced 18,000 layoffs in the handset maker’s device and service businesses.

Microsoft did not immediately announce the locations from which the majority of the jobs will be cut or how it will affect Washington workers.

Feasibility arguments over city broadband

at 7:38am by Joe Copeland

Seattle City Council’s Energy Committee will take up a hot potato this morning: municipal broadband. The 9:30  a.m. meeting will look at the feasibility of the city operating its own network, something a recent report to the mayor’s office questioned. Members of Upgrade Seattle, which advocates for a public network, will present their own paper analysing the feasibility report. Committee Chair Kshama Sawant, a supporter of municipal broadband, this morning told Q13 Fox News that the meeting will also talk about what she said would be furious opposition from Comcast, the main provider, to a city initiative.

Flying into the fireworks

at 6:31am by Mark Matassa

grucci-fireworks-fourth-of-july-1In the cool video of the day, Time shares the work of some guy who flew a drone into a Fourth of July fireworks show. It’s pretty amazing, but unfortunately the video doesn’t include information about the location or the person who set it up.

Workshops for aspiring Northwest writers

at 6:00am by Mark Matassa

Andre Dubus III  Credit:; Seattle Times
Andre Dubus III Credit:; Seattle Times

If this is the summer you’re going to start that book, no kidding, Seattle Times books editor Mary Ann Gwinn has the lowdown on sessions that might help – one in Seattle and another in Port Townsend. Andre Dubus III headlines the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference in Seattle.

A debt crisis, and short memories too

at 5:20am by Mark Matassa

European leaders really, really mean it this time. They agreed on Tuesday to give Greece until Sunday to come up with a plan to save its economy. They really mean it, reports The New York Times. But the Times also has an interesting analysis by economic columnist Eduardo Porter who reminds the reader that Germany, the tough-guy creditor in this mess, was the beneficiary of an even bigger bailout after World War II. If all this debt and credit stuff is hard to understand, Bloomberg Business has a helpful video tutorial on the euro zone below.

A Seattle tax on gun sales?

at 5:02am by Mark Matassa

City Council President Tim Burgess thinks that would be a step in the right direction, and he is proposing just such a thing, reports The Seattle Times. Burgess, a former Seattle police officer and a candidate for re-election, says the tax would help pay for gun-safety education and give authorities more information for tracking firearms. Opponents says it’s probably not legal.

Tuesday 7 Jul, 2015

Ice caves collapse, killing one and inuring others. Future for Greece remains unclear. A new high for King County real estate.

Housing recommendations leaked

at 3:55pm by David Kroman

Danny Westneat of the Seattle Times obtained a draft of the recommendations from Mayor Ed Murray’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) group Tuesday. The long anticipated recommendations were expected to go to the mayor next Monday. Among the more than 60 recommendations, a call for greater density will surely be the most controversial. The group recommends doing away with much of the city’s zoning that restricts multi-family housing developments. It also recommends significant upzoning, allowing seven stories where there used to five, four stories where there were only two and so on.

Although a majority of the task-force supported linkage fees — charging developers a per square foot fee for not building affordable housing — the draft report does not recommend them to the mayor. This document, as Westneat cautions, is still a draft and would still needs approval from first the mayor and then the City Council.

NBA owner plays the Seattle card

at 3:53pm by Harrison Lee

KOMO News reports on what could be a new possibility for Seattle to adopt an NBA team.  According to the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Bucks President, Peter Feigin revealed that that there is a chance the team may be relocated to Las Vegas or Seattle. The relocation would be due to continuing delays in public funding for a new arena in Milwaukee. Does that have a familiar ring?

Reddit CEO apologizes to revolters

at 3:17pm by Amelia Havanec

More than 200,000 users of Reddit have signed a petition asking for interim company CEO Ellen Pao to step down. The California-based company, they claim, has been operating under controversial decisions ever since Pao became the boss. Last week, Reddit’s popular director of talent was let go, even though she coordinated the site’s successful AMA series in which everybody can ask officials and celebrities all the way up to President Obama “anything.”

Some regulars have suspicions about the firing’s timing, shortly after an AMA session with the U.S. civil rights activist Jesse Jackson became particularly heated, with some users attacking Jackson’s character. Many Redditors are suggesting that the site’s straying toward censorship, which led Pao to issue a public apology yesterday and admit that Reddit “screwed up,” not just last week, but “also over the past several years”.

Local man invents life-saving sticker

at 2:07pm by Nina Selipsky

A local man, Lynn Rainwater, has created a device that could be a true lifesaver in emergency situations. My Medical Sticker can be placed on the back window of a vehicle, and gives medics key information about a person’s medical history when the person is unable to do so on his or her own. The time the device saves could mean the difference between life and death. According to KOMO, the sticker contains three smaller squares to personalize to your own health conditions, such as ‘implanted medical device,’ ‘heart condition,’ or ‘pregnant.’ These squares can be changed out with over four dozen different medical condition tabs when needed. The sticker also has a space for initials, in case there are multiple people in the vehicle.

Milwaukee Bucks mulling over move to Seattle

at 2:06pm by Jacob Nierenberg

It’s been seven years since the Seattle SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City, but there’s now a glimmer of hope that a new basketball team may call the Emerald City home. Despite Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl reaching an agreement to sell the team for $550 million last year, both Puget Sound Business Journal and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer write that the Bucks have yet to receive funding for a new arena. If the stadium is not built with haste, according to Bucks president Peter Feigin, the NBA will buy back the team and relocate it to another city—possibly Las Vegas or Seattle. If the Bucks do come to Seattle, they will most likely adopt the Supersonics’ name, logo, and colors.

MasterCard implements the selfie method to verify identity

at 2:04pm by Amelia Havanec

MasterCard wants you to take a good, hard look at yourself before making another impulse buy – literally. In an effort to cut down on fraud, customers will be asked to hold up their phones and snap a picture of their faces before purchases can be approved online. A representative for the company says, “The new generation… I think they’ll find it cool.” They also claim it’s easier than remembering a password, which is currently what customers can do to prevent hackers from stealing their CC numbers.

MasterCard claims it doesn’t actually receive a picture of your face, but a map of 1s and 0s from the outline. The company is also exploring other methods to keep you cyber safe, such as fingerprint scans, and voice or heartbeat recognition. All features are in the testing phase, but the facial and fingerprint scans may be launched as early as this fall.

Colorful pipes? Check. Bertha news? Still waiting...

at 12:26pm by David Kroman

Amid talk of “muted tones” and “color palettes” on new tunnel pipes, there’s still no news on the timeline for finishing repairs to the tunnel boring machine Bertha. The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) sent out a press release Tuesday advertising new ventilation pipes installed in the tunnel project’s south portal. The pipes, says WSDOT, will remove up to 1.4 million cubic feet of air per days, which is…impressive? Normal? Anyway, WSDOT is clearly excited about the pipes’ yellow color, inspired by WSDOT’s maintenance trucks.

The onus of a timeline falls to contractor group Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP). An updated version was due at the end of June, but here we are in July and nothing has been released. Originally, tunneling was scheduled to begin again in late August, but since damage to the machine was more than expected, that date has been all but scratched.

Checking out Pluto: a brief panic

at 11:48am by Nina Selipsky

Over the weekend, scientists in charge of a historic mission to Pluto had the professional scare of a lifetime. With just a week to go in the decade-long mission, they lost contact with the spacecraft, NPR reports. The scientists’ immediate conclusion was that something catastrophic had happened — maybe the spacecraft had hit a space rock. Their worries were quelled when the spacecraft got back in touch 90 minutes later. Apparently, it had been processing photos of Pluto when scientists on Earth told it to start doing something else. The multiple commands overloaded the computers and caused them to crash. “We had too many windows open,” a lead scientist said lightly. Researchers have solved the problem and begin a week of intense observations later today.

Go fish – sustainably, that is

at 10:33am by Nina Selipsky

Paul Allen and chef Ethan Stowell have teamed up to unveil Smart Catch, a program certifying restaurants that commit to serving sustainable fish. To be certified, restaurants must serve 90 percent sustainable fish or be on the path to doing so, reports the Seattle Times. Criteria include health and abundance of fish stocks, impacts of fishing on fish habitats, volume of bycatch, and effectiveness of fishery management systems. Smart Catch-approved restaurants will be listed on the website smartcatch.fish. Smart Catch is starting with a few dozen restaurants in Seattle, including Chandler’s Crabhouse, Ray’s Boathouse, Dahlia Lounge and Agua Verde Café, and hopes to eventually expand nationally.

A new high for King County real estate

at 6:01am by Mark Matassa

Credit: Redfin
Credit: Redfin

The crazy Seattle-area housing market is getting even crazier. According to new figures reported in The Seattle Times, the median price of a King County single-family home climbed to $500,000 in June, 10.3 percent higher than a year ago and much higher than the previous peak of $481,000 in 2007. Analysts say the new record is due to a solid local economy and the growth of high-paying tech firms. “I wouldn’t say we’re in a bubble,” said Alan Pope, a real-estate appraiser in Redmond. “I would say the balloon is growing, and I can’t tell when it’s going to stop.”

Even after referendum, future for Greece remains unclear

at 5:30am by Mark Matassa

In the aftermath of Greek citizens’ vote against a financial bailout, the feeling among European leaders is becoming more fractured, not less, reports The New York Times. Germany, for instance, is maintaining a hard line on repayment of past debt, while other European countries are still looking for ways to help Greece recover.

Ice caves collapse, killing one and injuring others

at 5:02am by Mark Matassa

Credit: King 5 News
Credit: King 5 News

Monday’s collapse at the Snohomish Big Four Ice Caves was likely due to high temperatures and climate change, officials told The Seattle Times. The names of the victims haven’t been released. Meantime, in a place where you would expect melting ice – inside a volcano – the world’s newest glacier is forming. The Times has that story too, explaining how a glacier is forming in Mount St. Helens.


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