Midday Scan: Birth control time travel; Rep. Dicks caught redhanded; caffeine powder hits the shelves

The birth control debate moves back in time. How Norm Dicks funneled federal money to his son. Caffeine powder gives us a glimpse of the future.

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U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair.

The birth control debate moves back in time. How Norm Dicks funneled federal money to his son. Caffeine powder gives us a glimpse of the future.

Why is providing birth control even a debate? That's the question Seattle Times' Danny Westneat asks as he wonders what year he's in. (Is it Mad Men era, 1962, or is it 2012?) He lucidly points out that, while Catholic churches and GOP candidates are condemning the U.S. for "forcing" insurance companies to cover birth control — which churches can opt out of anyway — Catholic use of birth control isn't exactly low.

Ninety-eight percent of Catholic women use some form of birth control, which Westneat states is "as unanimous as you can get for any activity outside of breathing air or drinking water." And, it should be noted, the remaining two-percent are still perfectly free to pay their respects to the contraceptive-free traditions of the Catholic church.

Meanwhile, it's cool to imagine that we actually are living in 1962 and that Martin Luther King, Jr. might make a guest appearance at the next Occupy Seattle rally.

As the great Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote, "The best laid schemes of mice and men/Go often askew." Such is the case of Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.). The Washington Post's Kimberly Kindy has written a thoroughly reported and rather indicting article on pop and son duo Norm and David Dicks. Kindy alleges the pair has funneled millions of dollars into the Puget Sound Partnership, of which David Dicks was Executive Director until 2010.

Rep. Norm Dicks earmarked $1.82 million in federal funds and requested more than $14 million in grants from the Environmental Protection Agency for a "competitive" grant process, which turned out to be, well, not so competitive after all, Kindy points out. The Puget Sound Partnership was the only competitor.

The situation is frustrating to say the least. It's no secret that Washingtonians love the Puget Sound. As the economic, environmental, and cultural lifesource of Washington, the idea of keeping Puget Sound clean is not only noble, but necessary. But this is not the way to go about it, and to see that the funds attained were used inefficiently brings about more concern. Auditors found that the partnership “circumvented state contracting laws, exceeded its purchasing authority, and made unallowable purchases with public funds,” incurring “costs without clear public benefit,” according to Kindy.

Please, Norm Dicks, if you are going to redirect money  to clean Puget Sound, at least clean Puget Sound.

Didn't get that big raise you were hoping for? Neither did anyone else in Seattle. Seattlepi.com's Vanessa Ho reports that Seattle ranked last out of 15 big cities for pay growth, seeing only a one percent increase in pay and benefits, or a 1.5 percent increase in pay alone.

What city saw the biggest increase? Detroit, with a whopping 4.5 percent increase in pay and benefits. (It should be noted, however, that the pay part of that was only a 0.7 percent increase.) The city may not exactly be dreamland, but with raises like that it's almost worth considering a move.

Every day we move closer to science fiction, not only in the things we build, but in the things we consume. Speaking of which, AeroShot, a small capsule of caffeinated powder which you inhale, is now on sale in New York and Massachusetts. The powder conatains 100 milligrams of caffeine, about the same as a large cup of coffee, and dissolves almost instantaneously upon touching the tongue, reports the Associated Press' Rodrique Ngowi.

This seems dangerous, at least from the perspective of a recent college grad, whose fellow students had no concept of caffeine moderation. If it only takes seconds to consume one, imagine how many an overtired student can consume within a few hours.

In Washington, gay marriage is going to pass in the House today! Or, at least, that's the expected outcome. At 1 p.m. the House of Representatives will begin the debate and vote on the bill to legalize gay marriage. Next, the bill will head over to Gov. Chris Gregoire for her signature.

However, opponents of the bill want to put it to a referendum, which voters would have to approve and which could effectively negate the whole process. The Herald's Jerry Cornfield provides answers to some common questions about the referendum process.

Seattle Times, "Little late for birth-control debate"

Washington Post, "Earmark investigation: Rep. Norm Dicks and Puget Sound"

Seattle PI, "Tiny paycheck? Seattle had lowest pay growth of big cities"

Associated Press, "Getting caffeine fix as easy as taking deep breath"

Everett Herald, "Today's House vote on same-sex marriage, and what happens next"


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