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Community Log & News Digest

August 2017


Rating Trump's Eligibility for Immigration on his own Scale
- Commentary
They're baa-aack. Now it's the RAISE Act (look up the stupid acronym yourself.)

You need at least 30 points to be eligible.

Hypothetical review for a certain person living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC.

How old are you?
> 50, 0 points.

What’s your highest level of education?
US bachelors, 5 points

What’s your English ability?
Poor
Moderate
Good, 10 points
Excellent
Fluent

Do you have a job offer?
No, 0 points
(It is unlikely anyone would offer this person a job based on prior service or current recommendations.)

Do you have a Nobel Prize or major international award?
No, 0 points

Have you won an Olympic medal in the past 8 years?
No, surprisingly given this person’s status as the most fit leader in US history, 0 points

Do you plan on investing money (foreign currency) in the US?
No. Despite substantial purported foreign currency holdings, this person prefers to invest abroad in countries with authoritarian, non-democratic governments, and repatriating such holdings would require reporting via IRS, 0 points

I make that 15 points.

Not qualified.

Source: Time Magazine


July 2017


Unemployment rate holds firm in June
- Business & Labor
OLYMPIA – Washington’s record-low unemployment rate held firm in June at 4.5 percent, despite preliminary estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showing the state gained 2,500 jobs over the month.

“Washington’s economy continues to add jobs slowly, just not enough for the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to fall lower in June,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “There’s just not a lot of excess skilled labor available in the market for employers to dramatically increase hiring.”

The Employment Security Department released the seasonally adjusted, preliminary jobs estimates from BLS as part of its June Monthly Employment Report.

In June last year, the statewide unemployment rate was 5.5 percent. The national unemployment rate was 4.4 percent this June and 3.4 percent in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area.

Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 49,148 people in June.

Labor force continues to grow in Washington
The state’s labor force rose to 3.69 million — an increase of 6,400 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force decreased by 5,600 over the same period.
From June 2016 through June 2017, the state’s labor force grew by 56,500 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 21,400.

The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.

Eight sectors expand, five contract
Private sector employment decreased by 300 and government employment increased by 2,800 jobs in June.

This month’s report shows the greatest job growth occurred in government up 2,800, wholesale trade up 2,000 and other services up 1,900 new jobs. Other sectors adding jobs were construction up 1,400, financial services up 1,100, information up 600 and mining and logging and transportation, warehousing and utilities each up 100.

Retail and education and health services faced the biggest reduction in June, losing 2,700 and 2,600 jobs respectively. Leisure and hospitality cut 1,200, professional and business services eliminated 600 and manufacturing trimmed 400.

Year-over-year growth remains strong
Washington has added an estimated 81,000 new jobs from June 2016 through June 2017, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 2.3 percent or 63,500 jobs, and the public sector increased by 3.0 percent, adding 17,500 jobs.

From June 2016 through June 2017, 11 of the state’s 13 industry sectors added jobs. Manufacturing (-6,700) and logging (-100) were the only sectors to report job losses.

The three industry sectors with the largest employment gains year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:

Government with 14,800 new jobs;
Construction with 15,100 new jobs; and
Retail trade with 11,000 new jobs.

Note: The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently updated its “alternative measures of labor underutilization,” or U-6 rate, for states to include the first quarter of 2017. The U-6 rate considers not only the unemployed population in the official U-3 unemployment rate, but also “the underemployed and those not looking but wanting a job.” The U-6 rate for Washington through the first quarter 2017 was 10 percent compared to the national rate of 9.5 percent. Washington’s U-6 rate is the lowest it has been since 2009.

Contact: Paul Turek, labor economist, 360-407-2306, or Bill Tarrow, deputy communications director, 360-902-9376

Trump, Weak on Health Care
- Commentary
Trump on Health Care. Interesting: Apparently Obamacare was passed before Obama was first elected. (Watch today's speech by DJT in which he alludes to "seventeen" years of Obamacare.) And nothing but what's wrong; little or at best hype about what's coming to replace it.

It’s easy to find anecdotal examples of failure to help a particular individual in any system. In the aggregate O’care has made about ten percent more Americans eligible for insurance. The whole concept of insurance revolves around the greatest good for the greatest number; it can never promise perfect outcomes for every person. There is no functional issue keeping insurers from participation in exchanges; they just don’t want to cut their marginal profits or — heaven forbid — actually have to deliver on their policies.

Insurers must be required to adhere to minimum standards and compete on quality, not on cost minimization. That is the only way they can ultimately avoid a government takeover of the health care system.

Depoliticize the US Supreme Court
- Commentary
Almost from its founding, the US Supreme Court has been subject to political stress and strain, as successive presidents have sought to create a preference for their own views of both short and long-term issues. Recently the Senate leadership has used the requirement that it consent to judicial appointments to block or to accelerate the seating of new justices of the supreme and other courts, whether to liberalize or constrain the behavior of the courts purely for partisan reasons.

Recognizing the possibility that this might occur, the Founders’ only solution was to institute lifetime appointments to federal courts that would transcend the tenure of any given president or congress. That was in an era in which few citizens had ever left their own state, learned a foreign language, earned a university or law school diploma or indeed subjected themselves to the competitive aspects of a society of 300 million people, and when the primary criteria to be considered for a court seat were that one be adult, white, male and acceptable to the current power structure. In the modern world, that solution is inadequate and has often resulted in the appointment of relative non-entities to the Supreme Court. There are probably much better ways to manage a court system in the modern era.

Imagine a “Supreme Court System” to replace the current arbitrary grouping. The members of the court hearing any given case would be drawn from among a set of eligible justices on the various appellate courts -- from which many of the Supremes are now drawn anyway -- assigned at random. They need not all be in the same place, as they could share everything, both written and oral, by telecommunication, as most appellate cases are not heard but read, with oral argument being only a supplementary part of the review and often omitted. Where used, oral argument can be presented over the Internet, as was done in the recent Hawaii-based hearings on travel restrictions.

There are currently 169 members of the appellate circuits. If that number were increased, let’s say to 200, or even doubled, there would be adequate judicial time to hear the cases now before the Supreme Court (only a tiny minority of cases are ultimately resolved by the SC). Each case could be examined by a group of nine selected randomly (or perhaps five or seven for cases not involving constitutional or other truly national issues) from among the 200. For quality control, if necessary, eligibility for SC cases could be limited to the senior half of the appellate justices, whereby the qualifications of the justices on any given case would be at least comparable to the current politically selected jurists. Randomization effects would diminish partisan influence.

This approach could also make more cases suitable for SC review, giving both fairness and finality to many cases now declined by the SC. The SC could also be extended to a full work year; the current arrangement is determined in part by the awful summer weather in DC, which should hardly be part of a decision process that can involve life and death.

The Constitution does not prohibit such a change. It would be well within the law to change the role of the Chief Justice to one of administration and assignment of the five, seven, nine, etc., justices to individual cases (the Constitution leaves rules of court structure and management to Congress). The cost of the courts might rise somewhat, but the increased efficiencies and the reduced time and travel required of litigants, lawyers and judges would offset much of the increase, and litigants would be more likely able to get on with their lives. The suggested changes would also in a heartbeat increase the probable socioeconomic diversity of the members of the court hearing any given case, making the justices more like peers than superiors of the litigants.

Such a change should be acceptable across political lines. Both conservatives and liberals have been heard to complain about decisions being made in “far off Washington DC” that could be made closer to the action.

It is time to review the implementation of Article III of the Constitution and bring the Supreme Court into the 21st Century.

May 2017


Seattle Summer Highlights
- General News
A nice summer calendar compiled by The Colin Group. (Click to enlarge.)


State unemployment rate hits historic low in April
- Business & Labor
OLYMPIA – Washington’s added 1,200 new jobs in April and the unemployment rate fell from 4.7 to 4.6 percent – matching the state’s historic low for unemployment last reached in June 2007, according to the state Employment Security Department.

“While job growth was more subdued in April, Washington’s economy continues to trend positively,” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “Jobs are being created, unemployment continues to fall and the labor market is tightening.”

The state released the seasonally adjusted, preliminary jobs estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its April Monthly Employment Report.

In April last year, the statewide unemployment rate was 5.6 percent. The national unemployment rate was 4.4 percent this April and 3.3 percent in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area.

Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 60,386 people in April.

Labor force continues to grow in Washington

The state’s labor force rose to 3.69 million — an increase of 3,400 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force decreased by 600 over the same period. From April 2016 through April 2017, the state’s labor force grew by 67,900 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 37,500. The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.

Five sectors expand, six contract, two unchanged

Private sector employment decreased by 700 and government employment increased by 1,900 jobs in April. This month’s report shows the greatest job growth occurred in government up 1,900, transportation, warehousing and utilities up 1,600 and wholesale trade up 1,300 new jobs. In addition, retail trade added 900 jobs and information increased 400. Education and health services faced the biggest reduction in April, losing 1,200 jobs. Financial activities cut 1,000, leisure and hospitality and professional and business services eliminated 900 each, manufacturing trimmed 800 and other services shaved 100. Construction and mining and logging were unchanged.

Year-over-year growth remains strong

Washington has added an estimated 76,500 new jobs from April 2016 through April 2017, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 2.3 percent or 61,700 jobs, and the public sector increased by 2.6 percent, adding 14,800 jobs. From April 2016 through April 2017, 11 of the state’s 13 industry sectors added jobs. Manufacturing (-8,100) and logging (-100) were the only sectors to report job losses. The three industry sectors with the largest employment gains year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:

Retail trade with 16,100 new jobs;
Government with 14,800 new jobs; and
Construction with 13,700 new jobs.

Note: The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently updated its “alternative measures of labor underutilization,” or U-6 rate, for states to include the first quarter of 2017. The U-6 rate considers not only the unemployed population in the official U-3 unemployment rate, but also “the underemployed and those not looking but wanting a job.” The U-6 rate for Washington through the first quarter 2017 was 10 percent compared to the national rate of 9.5 percent. Washington’s U-6 rate is the lowest it has been since 2009.

Source:
Bill Tarrow
Deputy Communications Director
Employment Security Department
360-902-9376

Declaration Redux
- Commentary
Here are some complaints about government you might recognize, updated and distinguished by "Ancient" and "Modern" to reflect the idea that the more things change the more they stay the same. It appears there is little to no difference between inherited monarchy and willful usurpation of authority.

The ancient "he" was George III. We leave identification of the modern "he" to you.

Ancient: Ancient: He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
Modern: He has made it exceedingly easy for States to avoid enforcing Federal law, and has neglected to attend to them.
Example: Allowing states to evade low income provisions of ACA.

Ancient: He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
Modern: He has with the connivance of his political affiliates sought to disenfranchise large numbers of voters based solely on complex and irrelevant documentation of eligibility or to favor certain forms of documentation over others albeit their equivalence.
Example: Arbitrary and discriminatory voter registration rules demonstrably for the purpose of restricting voting by classes of citizens.

Ancient: He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
Modern: He has conducted the business of state at undisclosed or private and inaccessible locations, for the purposes of his persoal convenience or to obscure the existence or content of such conduct.
Example: Numerous private meetings with business associates, intermediaries and foreign government officials at his own private venues.

Ancient: He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
Modern: He has declined to nominate managers or administrators of major and lesser Federal offices and judgeships, whereby the citizens are deprived of essential Federal services.
Example: After three months only a handful of the over 500 senior officials of the Federal government subject to Senate confirmation have been nominated and/or confirmed.

Ancient: He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
Modern: He has imposed untenable conditions on the Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to accommodate migration hither; ignoring the impending natural decrease of native-born populations that will inexorably lead to social and economic decline.
Example: He has ordered or proposed numerous discriminatory barriers to entry and naturalization based on such unconstitutional grounds as national origin or religion; preferring instead to base immigration policy on economic benefit to corporations and financial manipulators.

Ancient: He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
Modern: He with his political affiliaes has failed to appoint or confirm Justices of the various Federal Courts.
Example: As of May 13, 2017, 129 of 890 judgeships are vacent, and only nine persons have been nominated and eight confirmed.

Ancient: He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
Modern: He has essayed to make Judges answerable to himself on matters of law; and has impugned their legal decisions by derision or personal insult.
Example: He has denigrated numerous judges of the Federal Courts for a multitude of decisions, based solely on his personal disagreement with them, regardless of his utter lack of legal or judicial training.

Ancient: He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
Modern: He has rendered certain agencies impotent by leaving key positions unfilled, by ignoring his obligation to properly adminster the government; or he has appointed administrators who lack substantive knowledge of are in fact opposed to the purpose and practices of their own agencies.
Example: A secretary of commerce opposed to the regulation of financial institutions; a secretary

Ancient: He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
Ancient: He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
Modern: He has appointed military officials to civilian offices.
Example: J. Mattis as Secretary of Defense and H. R. McMaster as National Security Advisor; though many of the security challenges we face are non-military offenses by non-state actors essentially immune to military defense and better suited control by legal or police power or international cooperation.

Ancient: He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
Modern: He has entered into unexplained relationships with foreign dictators of countries inimimcal to our national interest; providing no or little explanation of the intent of such relationships or what quid pro quo may be involved.
Example: Can you name a good reason to praise Putin, Kim, Duterte, etc.?

Ancient: He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
Modern: He has charged his followers with imposing physical harm upon opponents of his personal beliefs, statements and actions during extra governmental rallies.
Example: Assaults on protesters at campaign and post-election rallies perpetrated by spoken approval of violence even against silent protesters based solely on their appearance or attire.

Ancient: ... A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Modern: There is no possible improvement on Jefferson's conclusion.

February 2017


Thorough Investigation of Russia Connection to Trump Campaign Is Essential
- Commentary
I am recalling CA Rep. Charles Wiggins (R) nearly dissolving into tears as he cast his vote for impeachment of Richard Nixon in 1974 along with several of his Republican colleagues, putting country ahead of party. He was not alone in his emotions, as both Democrats and Republicans voted for impeachment with difficulty. In those days, Kennedy's "Profiles in Courage" still resonated with the citizenry and its leaders.

Like most Americans, I hope the implications of the importune interactions with Russian government officials and intelligence operatives turn out to be innocent. Perhaps Michael Flynn acted alone, but as with L.H. Oswald, we need to know. Flynn’s own assertion that he is a scapegoat implies otherwise.

So far the present Congress is silent, letting the current scandals over Flynn and other Trump associates fester without prospect of investigation by the people's representatives. This reticence is disappointing at best. One awaits with curiosity the first volume of "Profiles in Pusillanimity." --Rees Clark

Voter Fraud 201: BS in the US (Prerequisite: Civics 101)
- Commentary
According to leading purveyors of "alternative facts" there were about three million persons "illegally" registered to vote in 2016. One rather insecure candidate has claimed that all the “illegal” votes were cast for HIS opponent; a shocking claim, and one that bears investigation. We may find that fraud is not the right problem to investigage.

The current estimate of the voting age population is 231 million of the total population of about 322 million, or 71.7 percent. Write that down. In fact only 130 million (56%) of the eligible voters actually voted. That is 56% of 71.7%. Write that down.

About 2.4 million persons died in the USA during 2016, which deaths are not automatically cross-tabulated with voter registrations in any state as far as we know*. Most deaths are among elderly people, and death is rare among persons under 21, so we can fairly safely estimate that about two million eligible voters died.

Consider also that in 2015 some 51 million persons moved from one state to another. Applying the same ratio of voters:population, the number of voters moving would be about 71.7% of 51 million, or 26.3 million*.

The combined total of “lost voters” is thus 2.4 + 26.3 million, or 28.7 million. An unknown number of the 26.3 million re-registered in another state, but there is no simple way to correlate those registrations. These numbers will repeat in each national election, roughly proportionally to the changing size of the population. For argument’s sake we will assume that half re-register in time to vote in the ensuing election, reducing the “lost” voters to about 15.5 million.

If three million persons actually voted improperly of the 130 million voting that would be 2.3% of all persons voting. Precinct sizes vary from state to state from about 1,100 (KS) to about 2,700 (DC). That means that on average from 25 to 62 persons slipped through in each precinct despite the presence of poll watchers from both parties and sworn officials checking lists, and those numbers must be increased by removing from the tallies all persons voting absentee or otherwise by mail, which votes are much harder to fake, at least here in Washington State. Frankly, we think we could take those claims and happily wash our hog with them. So... three million? Don't write that down.

Even if we accept the fraud estimates, the current state by state registration system hypothetically allows three million to vote who shouldn’t while actually disenfranchising over 15 million who should and failing to involve 100 million who abstain. We also see a large, national political party hell-bent to apply a full court press to increase the actual 15 million while wringing its hands over the hypothetical three million and ignoring the disengaged 100 million.

Only you can decide which distresses you more as a resident of a democracy. Would you direct your efforts toward punishing the guilty (or merely careless) or toward engaging the uninvolved?

(* Please, prove us wrong about cross-tabbing; perhaps some states actually do it, though it's unlikely that any state includes deaths in a different state, making any cross-tabulation suspect; kindly cite your sources. Also, the mortality and mobility numbers vary only slightly by year, so that really is insignificant, but pick such nit as you wish. We understand this article is a long slog, but these are the weeds through which you must hack your way if any improvement in recent dismal US voting patterns is to be achieved.)

January 2017


Trump Wall: Expensive, Useless, Badly Motivated
- Commentary
The Trump Immigrant Exclusion Wall is a long, expensive row to hoe, and it will bear either bitter fruit or none at all. DT estimated $10bn. to $15bn. during the campaign. NO ONE accepts that figure. The parts of the border now having no fence are the easiest terrain on which to build. Using a consensus estimate equal to the average of five analysts, that wall would cost about $22.9bn, or $12.7 million per mile.

Of course that’s only about $73 per capita for each person in the US population, so some will consider it cheap. But that’s not the only consideration.

Let’s suppose the estimates of undocumented population of about 11 million are correct and that half of that number are adults and that those adults work on average half time at the average state minimum wage of around $11.50 (the federal minimum wage is $7.25). Those 5.5 million workers would earn $65.7bn and contribute about $26bn in taxes, assuming the average tax:income ratio (including all local, state and federal taxes).

Using a common economic multiplier of 5.0, that would mean undocumented workers expand the US economy by about (5X65.7bn) or $300bn per year. Others have estimated different amounts, and we don't pretend to be well trained economists, but that seems like a lot to give up just so some benighted fools won’t have to hear Spanish in the lunch room.

Sources

Fortune wrote that About $7bn. has been spent building 653 miles of fencing now considered inadequate by the anti-foreign crowd. $7bn ÷ 653 = $10 million per mile or $19bn. for the whole 1,900 miles.

Business Insider has estimates ranging from $15bn to $25bn, averaging $20bn.

CNBC calculated: $16Mm per mile for the 1,300 miles now unfenced, but much of that fence would need replacement. Assuming replacement of 300 miles plus 1,300 new miles, the estimated cost would be $25.6bn.

MIT Technology Review stated: Components: Concrete $9bn; steel $4.6bn; labor $27 to $40bn. Taking the average labor estimate, the wall would cost (9+4.6+33.5=) $46.9bn.

CNN Money: Their estimate was very similar, may I repeat, very similar, to that of Business Insider.

WA December Unemployment Lowest Since May 2008
- Business & Labor
OLYMPIA -- Washington's unemployment rate dropped for the fifth month in a row to hit a new low of 5.2 percent in December, according to state Employment Security Department.

"Washington's economy finished strong in 2016 and the short-term job outlook remains positive," said Paul Turek, economist for the department.

The pace of hiring also increased in December as Washington employers added 6,700 new jobs, up from 4,000 jobs in November.

The department released the seasonally adjusted, preliminary job estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its December Monthly Employment Report.

The national unemployment rate increased a tenth of a percentage to 4.7 percent in December. The unemployment rate in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area held steady at 3.7 percent.

Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 70,238 people in December.

Labor force increases in Washington

The state's labor force remained virtually unchanged at 3.69 million in December, an 800 decrease from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 1,000 to 1.65 million during the same period.

From December 2015 to December 2016, the state=92s labor force grew by 121,200 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 61,600.

The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over age 16.

Eight sectors expand, four contract

Private-sector employment increased by 7,400 jobs and government employment decreased by 700 in December.

This month=92s report shows the greatest job growth occurred in leisure and hospitality with 3,400 new jobs created. In addition, information increased 2,500; retail trade expanded 2,200, wholesale trade was up 800, and financial activities added 300. Additionally, education and health services; transportation, warehousing and utilities; and manufacturing each added 200 jobs.

Other services faced the biggest reduction in December, losing 1,300 jobs. Government and professional and business services cut 700 jobs each, and construction fell by 400. Mining and logging employment was unchanged.

Year-over-year growth remains strong

Washington has added an estimated 82,300 new jobs from December 2015 to December 2016, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 2.6 percent or 68,300 jobs, and the public sector increased by 2.5 percent, adding 14,000 jobs.

From December 2015 to December 2016, 11 of the state=92s 13 industry sectors added jobs. Manufacturing (-5,900) and mining and logging (-100) were the only sectors to report job losses.

The three industry sectors with the largest employment gains year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:
* Education and health services with 20,800 new jobs;
* Government with 14,000 new jobs; and
* Leisure and hospitality with 11,300 new jobs.

December 2016


Scaramucci as Scientist Makes a Decent Financial Analyst
- General News
Anthony Scaramucci, who hosts a financial affairs program, is not a scientist, but he plays one (badly) on TV. One of his current themes as part of the Trump transition team is to assert that "science" is historically linked to belief in a flat earth and therefore cannot be trusted to evaluate global climate change. The fact is that no well educated person in the western world has believed in a flat earth for over TWO THOUSAND YEARS.

The spherical shape of the Earth has been clear since before Eratosthenes first estimated its circumference in about 200 B.C. Depending on which estimate of the length of the "stadia" with which he measured distance, he erred on the circumference by only a few miles. At the time, such inquiries were part of a broad range of intellectual inquiry the Greeks called "philosophy" (Eratosthenes was a Greek Egyptian during the Ptolemaic dynasty following Alexander the Great).

The modern concept of "science" is not merely the aggregation of anecdotal observations. It involves the formation of hypotheses and repetitive observation and testing followed by more repetition until it becomes clear that a hypothesis is proven. Often later observations using new techniques may call the old hypothesis into question, so the whole process resumes and continues until the old or the new proves to be the better explanation of reality. Better tools yield better explanations; this does not mean the older investigators were fools or knaves.

Despite the fourth-grade story we all heard, Columbus and contemporary scholars were well acquainted with the spherical Earth; he did, however, apparently believe the Earth to be much smaller than it really is, leading to his assertion that he could sail directly to Asia. (There are many claims about what Columbus really knew, of course.) Whether ordinary people understood the truth is another question, but the matter was correctly understood by navigators and scholars.

It is likely that Eratosthenes will continue to be long remembered and admired. It is also likely that Scaramucci will be quickly forgotten once his TV caché and the never-happened belief of "science" in a flat-earth hypothesis has faded from our cultural memory.

Yawn: Unemployment Dips Further
- Business & Labor
Unemployment rate drops in November; Lowest rate since start of Great Recession

OLYMPIA – Washington added 3,600 new jobs in November, which helped lower the unemployment rate from 5.4 to 5.3 percent in November – the lowest rate since June 2008, according to state Employment Security Department.

“Washington’s economy is moving into the end of the year with good forward momentum,” according to Paul Turek, economist for the department. “Jobs are being created and we are seeing historically low numbers for unemployment.”

The department released the seasonally adjusted, preliminary job estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its November Monthly Employment Report.

The national unemployment rate was 4.6 percent in November. The unemployment rate in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area dropped from 3.8 percent in October to 3.7 percent in November.

Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 60,624 people in November.

Labor force increases in Washington

The state’s labor force grew to 3.69 million in November, an increase of 14,900 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 10,400 during the same period.

From November 2015 to November 2016, the state’s labor force grew by 128,400 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 62,500.

The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over age 16.

Seven sectors expand, five contract

Private-sector employment increased by 4,700 jobs and government employment decreased by 1,100 in November.

This month’s report shows the greatest job growth occurred in education and health services with 3,200 new jobs created. In addition, construction increased 2,400; professional and business services was up 1,200; transportation, warehousing and utilities, and manufacturing moved up 1,100; wholesale trade increased 800 and other services added 300.

Leisure and hospitality faced the biggest reduction in November, losing 3,100 jobs. Retail trade cut 1,200; government shed 1,100; financial activities eliminated 1,000 and information lost 100. Mining and logging employment was unchanged.

Year-over-year growth remains strong

Washington has added an estimated 95,100 new jobs from November 2015 to November 2016, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 3.1 percent or 81,500 jobs, and the public sector increased by 2.4 percent, adding 13,600 jobs.

From November 2015 to November 2016, 12 of the state’s 13 industry sectors added jobs. Manufacturing was the only sector to report job losses (-5,700).

The three industry sectors with the largest employment gains year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:

Education and health services with 22,000 new jobs;
Government with 13,600 new jobs; and
Construction with 12,800 new jobs.

Check it out! ESD has new labor market information and tools, including a video tutorial to highlight popular information and data.

Note: The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently updated its “alternative measures of labor underutilization,” or U-6 rate, for states to include in the third quarter of 2016. The U-6 rate considers not only the unemployed population in the official U-3 unemployment rate, but also “the underemployed and those not looking but wanting a job.” The annual U-6 rate for Washington through third quarter 2016 was 10.7 percent compared to the national rate of 9.8 percent. Washington’s U-6 rate is the lowest it has been since 2009.

Minnesota Reduces Income Inequality, Expands Economy
- Civic Affairs
Huffington Post has summarized some striking successes by the recent state government in Minnesota (link). Abandoning the "trickle down" economics of former Gov. Pawlenty, the state raised income taxes on wealthy households and increased minimum wages to a level comparable to that in Washington. The result has been a reversal of the state's economic fortune from stagnant to expansive.

The reason for this success and for the failure of tinkle-down is a fairly well understood principle of complex systems called feedback. Newton's observation that a process once in motion tends to remain in motion, unless acted upon by an outside force has applications beyond physics.

In economic systems, if an outside force tends to accelerate distribution of funds to a majority that has a propensity to spend or to create new businesses, then any given amount of income will be re-used often, creating new wealth and reducing inequality.

Conversely, if an outside force tends to concentrate income among even a minority that tends to conserve (read "hoard") it (does the phrase "preservation of capital" ring a bell?), then income will be sequestered or spent on luxury goods and will not be available for development, leading to greater inequality.

In an oligarchical society, one in which a small number of powerful people make rules for others, there is a historically clear tendency to choose the latter course. This manifests itself as “cut taxes” campaigns, reduction of social services and an increase in funds directed to authoritarian control, such as more police and military expenditures that are not driven by external threat. More guns, less butter.

In a democratic society, one in which the maximum number of people participate in decision making, there is a countervailing tendency to choose a redistribution strategy. This results in higher taxes, but the increasing wealth and power of the common family generally causes increase in spending on education, infrastructure and social services like old-age assistance and medical care. Marginally fewer yachts, massively more teacher’s aides.

Note from the article that only modest changes in income distribution have a large effect in either direction. As they might say in Hollywood: No middle class or working people were harmed in the production of Minnesota’s movie.

It's pretty easy to see the effects of political intervention by government. The adjacent graph (Source) shows the redistribution of income to the wealthy that has progressed under some administrations and slowed under others. I leave it to you to assess which party is (R)esponsible for the (R)egressive trends.

(Thanks to Glenda S for calling my attention to this HP article.)


November 2016


Washington labor market continues to improve
- General News
OLYMPIA –Washington’s economy added another 10,600 new jobs in October and the state’s unemployment rate fell from 5.7 to 5.4 percent, according to a new report from the Employment Security Department. The department released the seasonally adjusted, preliminary job estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its October Monthly Employment Report.

“Job growth has rebounded strongly this fall following a lull in hiring activity this past summer,” department economist Paul Turek said. “Employers are feeling less cautious about the national economy and global markets, which has translated into greater employment opportunities for Washington’s growing workforce.”

The national unemployment rate increased to 4.9 percent in October. The unemployment rate in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area dropped from 3.9 percent in September to 3.8 percent in October.

Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 52,882 people in October.

Labor force increases in Washington

The state’s labor force grew to 3.67 million in October, an increase of 22,900 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 14,500 during the same period.

From October 2015 to October 2016, the state’s labor force grew by 120,200 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 54,000.

The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over age 16.

Eight sectors expand, while five contract

Private-sector employment increased by 12,200 jobs and government employment decreased 1,600 in October.

This month’s report shows the greatest job growth occurred in leisure and hospitality with 7,400 new jobs created. In addition, construction added 1,900 jobs, professional and business services was up 1,600, retail trade added 1,500, education and health services moved up by 1,100 and other services increased by 1,000.

Manufacturing and government faced the biggest reductions, losing 1,700 and 1,600 jobs respectively. Wholesale trade cut 400 jobs and information and financial activities shed 300 jobs each.

Year-over-year growth remains strong

Washington has added an estimated 102,000 new jobs from October 2015 to October 2016, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 3.3 percent or 86,600 jobs, and the public sector increased by 2.7 percent, adding 15,400 jobs.

From October 2015 to October 2016, 11 of the state’s 13 industry sectors added jobs. Mining and logging remained unchanged. Manufacturing was the only sector to report job losses (-5,100).

The three industry sectors with the largest employment gains year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:
Education and health services with 21,000 new jobs;
Government with 15,400 new jobs; and
Professional and business services with 13,300 new jobs.


Check it out! ESD has new labor market web information and tools, including a video tutorial to highlight popular information and data.

Note: The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently updated its “alternative measures of labor underutilization” for states to include the third quarter of 2016. The U-6 rate considers not only the unemployed population in the official “U-3” unemployment rate, but also “the underemployed and those not looking but wanting a job.” The annual U-6 rate for Washington through third quarter 2016 was 10.7 percent compared to the national rate of 9.8 percent. Washington’s U-6 rate is the lowest it has been since 2009.

Full WADOE Report


Why I Chose Hillary Clinton for President
- Commentary
Yesterday I cast my vote for Hillary Clinton. I am disclosing my vote, which I usually do not, for two reasons. First, as my own immediate and extended family has become more international than ever before, I don’t wish to see our nation more divided by ethnic strife. We should take advantage of our cultural diversity, not be afraid or shrink from it. (Yo no tengo miedo cuando oigo los idiomas que no entiendo. 私たちは一緒に強いです。)

Second, I have a dear friend who has two daughters who will come of age as young women during the tenure of the next president. I cannot abide the thought of them reaching maturity knowing that the president of the United States thinks of them as chattels, to be used and discarded. We are better than that.

Every member of our society deserves to be respected, heard and lifted up by both rhetoric and action. The alternative of a dog eat dog, we versus them, devil take the hindmost nation will lead us only to despair and bitterness, which is not what I want for my children, my friend’s children or yours.

October 2016


Unemployment rate drops again in September
- Civic Affairs
OLYMPIA –The WA Dept. of Employment Secirity reports that preliminary estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show Washington’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell again to 5.6 percent in September with the state adding 20,000 jobs. Washington’s revised unemployment rate was 5.7 percent in August—after lingering for eight months at 5.8 percent.

According to the Monthly Employment Report from Washington’s Employment Security Department (ESD), the private sector added 14,300 jobs and the public sector gained 5,700 jobs.

“Bigger picture, Washington is continuing to add jobs,” said Paul Turek, the state’s labor market economist. “We’re seeing growth in the labor force while trimming unemployment as employers continue to pull people back off the sidelines and into the job market.”

The national unemployment rate increased to 5 percent in September. The unemployment rate in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area dropped from 4.1 percent in August to 3.9 percent in September.

ESD paid unemployment insurance benefits to 49,342 people in September.

The state’s labor force grew to 3.65 million in September, an increase of 21,400 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by nearly 15,000 during the same period.

From September 2015 to September 2016, the state’s labor force grew by 103,700 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 41,600.

The labor force is the total number of people in the workforce, both employed and unemployed, over age 16.

This month’s report shows the greatest job growth occurred in government with 5,700 new jobs followed by education and health services with 5,000 new jobs created and professional and business services with 4,400.

Financial services lost 400 jobs and wholesale trade shed 600.

Year-over-year, the private sector grew by 3.1 percent or 81,800 jobs, and the public sector increased by 2 percent, adding 10,800 jobs.

From September 2015 to September 2016, 12 of 13 the state’s major industry sectors added jobs. Manufacturing was the only sector to report job losses (-4,000).

The three industry sectors with the largest employment gains year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:

Education and health services with 21,100 new jobs;
Construction with 16,000 new jobs; and
Professional & business services with 13,400 new jobs.
Check it out! ESD has new labor market web information and tools, including a video tutorial to highlight popular information and data.


Note: The BLS recently updated its “alternative measures of labor underutilization” for states to include the second quarter of 2016. The U-6 rate considers not only the unemployed population in the official “U-3” unemployment rate, but also “the underemployed and those not looking but wanting a job.” The annual U-6 rate for Washington through second quarter 2016 was 10.7 percent compared to the national rate of 9.9 percent. Washington’s U-6 rate is the lowest it has been since 2009.

Debate Vocabulary
- Civic Affairs
A reader sent some words you may need for the Sunday night debate between Hillary Clinton and the person described herein: absolutist, arriviste, assailant, barbarian, base, biased, bigoted, blowhard, blue, boaster, boor, braggart, brute, brutish, buffoon, cad, charlatan, chauvinistic, cheap, cheat, chuff, churl, common, con artist, conniver, contemptible, contemptuous, crass, crude, deceiver, dictatorial, dirty, discriminatory, disdainful, dissimulator, dogmatic, egoist, egomaniac, equivocator, fanatical, fibber, filthy, foul-mouthed, fractious, gross, gruff, hateful, hidebound, ill-bred, Immodest, impolite, improper, impure, indelicate, inelegant, inflexible, insular, intolerant, irritable, jaundiced, jerk, know-it-all, lout, loutish, low, mean, miser, mysogenist, narcissist, narrow, narrow-minded, nasty, niggard, oaf, obdurate, obscene, offensive, off-color, one-dimensional, one-sided, opinionated, parochial, partisan, parvenu, petty, philistine, phony, predisposed, presupposing, prejudiced, prevaricator, prideful, profiteer, provincial, racist, raffish, rapist, rapacious, raw, raunchy, reactionary, ribald, rough, rude, scoundrel, selfish, sexist, show-off, small-minded, smutty, snippy, stinker, swindler, tacky, tightwad, trickster, TRUMP, uncharitable, uncivil, uncouth, uncultivated, uncultured, unfair, unforgiving, unrefined, upstart, unsympathetic, vulgar, vulgarian, wild, xenophobe, xenophobic, yokel...

Governor’s Committee Honors Employers Hiring Disabled
- Civic Affairs
OLYMPIA –As Washington celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month, nine public and private employers were honored today for their exemplary work recruiting, hiring, retaining and promoting individuals with disabilities.

Washington’s Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues & Employment (GCDE) and Business Leadership Network organize this ceremony annually to recognize state employers. It was held this year at the Microsoft Conference Center in Redmond.

“Our award winners excel at tapping into the tremendous energy and talent pool in the disability community,” said Chris Carnell, Governor’s Committee chairman. “They’re role models for the entire state.”

Winners of the 2016 Governor’s Employer Awards Program are:
· Battelle Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland
· Excelsior Youth Center, Spokane
· InsideWorks, Seattle
· Little Anchor Childcare Center, Seattle
· Microsoft
· Snohomish County
· Sodexo - Walla Walla University Team
· Washington Access Fund, Seattle
· Washington State Department of Licensing

Washington businesses, agencies, organizations and individuals submitted the nominations and a panel of GCDE members, business representatives and previous award recipients selected this year’s honorees.

The committee also honored Emily Cooper for her commitment to people with disabilities. Cooper, an attorney with Disability Rights Washington, received the Governor’s Trophy in Memory of Carolyn Blair Brown — the highest honor given to someone with a disability who has significantly empowered people with disabilities in Washington.

A new award this year — the Employment Support Professional Award — went to Sue Anne Lemkin. As the Supported Employment coordinator for Snohomish County, Lemkin creates job opportunities for workers with developmental disabilities.

The Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues & Employment advises the governor, Legislature, state agencies and other policy makers on issues important to people with disabilities.

For interviews with the award winners and photos from the Oct. 7 ceremony, contact Melinda Johnson. For more information about the GCDE, contact Executive Secretary Toby Olson at 360-902-9489.

Holiday hiring projected to be up in Washington
- Business & Labor
OLYMPIA – Washington retailers will hire more than 12,700 seasonal workers throughout the holiday season, according to economists with the state’s Employment Security Department.

Last year, employers hired 10,542 additional workers during the 4th quarter of 2015.

“Seasonal retail hiring across the state is expected to rebound this year after declining the past two years,” said Paul Turek, an economist with the department. “Healthier wage growth amidst an improving employment situation should help raise holiday sales to a level that boosts hiring.”

The department’s labor economists say the bulk of the seasonal hiring will be in general merchandise stores, adding 7,480 jobs, up 1,062 positions from the same period last year. Clothing and clothing accessory stores expect to hire 3,329 holiday workers, also up 804 workers from 2015.

Nationally, workplace consultant firm Challenger, Gray, and Christmas, Inc. expects seasonal gains in the retail sector to be about the same as a year ago, with some 738,800 temporary hires projected from October through December.

Holiday hiring forecast for October through December 2016 Statewide and by region

Area/County2015 actual2016 forecast
Washington state10,54212,726
King-Snohomish6,1675,321
Pierce9941,637
Spokane-Stevens-Pend Oreille671845
Benton-Franklin420467
Yakima354457
Whatcom292393
Kitsap333375
Thurston149302
Skagit82142
Chelan-Douglas28103
Cowlitz2373

September 2016


Trmp Business Practices Scrutinized
- General News
Writing in Mother Jones magazine, David Corn has recently reviewed ads featuring business owners who were shorted or never paid for work done on Donald Trmp properties, mainly in Atlantic City, NJ. Here is one of the ads; the others are available at MJ; follow the link below.


Mother Jones Source


Fascism is Forever
- Commentary
Neoconservative columnist Robert Kagan warned in a Washington Post column (http://www.businessinsider.com/robert-kagan-trump-2016-5) published May 19, 2016, that the "Republican Party's attempt to treat Donald Trump as a normal political candidate would be laughable were it not so perilous to the republic.” and that Trump could be putting America on a path to "fascist” rule.

"Trump has transcended the party that produced him," Kagan wrote. "His growing army of supporters no longer cares about the party. ... Their allegiance is to him and him alone.”

In both republican and imperial Rome, contending factions were often allied with popular generals whose independent armies wrestled for control of regions or greater Rome itself for hundreds of years. Many of them used the traditional “fasces” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasces) as a symbol of their power and legitimacy. In the end, these internecine battles came to be more important than the defense of the empire, which was then dismembered by marauders from the margins.

In 1920s Russia and Italy, 1930s Germany, Japan, Spain…, one dictator after another came to power somewhat legitimately and then consolidated its power into an absolute form. Those countries are now in the fourth and fifth generation of atonement for their past. Italy’s political, religious and social fragmentation has lasted for 1,500 years.

The substitution of personal for national loyalty is always and unambiguously a threat to any political system. We are not immune. Kagan’s observations are especially noteworthy due to his conservative orientation and illustrate the nexus of conservatism and liberalism that have traditional formed the core of our transcendant national principles.

Jobs and the Presidential Debates
- Commentary
If the presidential candidates wanted to make useful points about the future energy
economy, one might be the value added if we switch to new sources. Here are some typical wages for low-end energy jobs and prospective replacements.

A Coal Mine Worker earns an average wage of $21.63 per hour. People in this job generally don't have more than 20 years' experience. Experience has a moderate effect on salary for this job. A rooftop installer of solar panels earns about the same amount and works where no explosive dust fills the air or the worker's lungs.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 51,540 (oil field) roustabouts employed nationwide as of May 2011. These workers earned an average of $34,680 a year, or $16.67 an hour. Those working specifically in the oil and gas extraction industry earned $35,590 a year, or $17.11 an hour, on average, about 3 percent higher than the overall average for the profession. One ad reviewed today for 9 positions in a single solar project management firm averaged just under $40,000, ranging from $27,000 to $57,000 per year.

Even the briefest review of the old extractive and new implementation industries shows more potential for the latter, and the number of positions is growing rather than shrinking. States like West Virginia, Kentucky, Louisiana and others relying on old modes of energy production should now be looking at investing in education for the new world of non-fossil-fuel modes, and the candidates should be more specific in defining the types of programs they will implement to move in that direction. Of course one can anticipate that the major party candidates will take very different views of the options available.

July 2016


WA unemployment lingers at 5.8% for seventh month
- Civic Affairs
OLYMPIA – Preliminary estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics show Washington continues to gain jobs on a year-over-year basis and the unemployment rate remains steady at 5.8 percent for the seventh month in a row.

According to the June Monthly Employment Report from Washington’s Employment Security Department (ESD), while the state lost 500 jobs from May 2016 to June 2016, it has gained 96,900 jobs since June 2015.

“Although hiring flattened in June, the state’s economy has produce jobs on a year-over-year basis and labor force participation is more stable than it was in 2015,” said Paul Turek, the state’s labor economist.

The U.S. unemployment rate increased to 4.9 percent in June and the unemployment rate in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area dropped to 4.6 percent.

ESD paid unemployment insurance benefits to 53,550 people in June.

Labor force dips slightly in Puget Sound and across Washington for the month
The state’s labor force dropped by 3,600 people to just over 3.62 million from May 2016 to June 2016. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force dropped by 4,900 people over the same period.

From June 2015 to June 2016, however, the state’s labor force grew by 90,000 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 26,300.

The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over age 16.

Six sectors see job growth, six sectors face losses
Private sector employment increased by roughly 1,000 jobs but government employment dropped by 1,500 for a net loss of 500 jobs in June.

This month’s report shows the greatest job growth in professional & business services with 1,800 new jobs from May 2016 to June 2016.

Construction added 1,700 jobs, and financial services increased by 1,300. Leisure and hospitality faced the biggest reduction, losing 2,800 jobs. Education and health services also saw the loss of 2,200 jobs.

Year-over-year growth remains strong with continued gains in public and private sectors
The state added 96,900 new jobs from June 2015 to June 2016, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 3.2 percent or 84,000 jobs, and the public sector increased by 2.3 percent, adding 12,900 jobs.

From June 2015 to June 2016, 11 of 13 major industries saw growth while the number of jobs in the mining and logging industries had no gains or losses, and manufacturing lost 4,800 jobs.

The three industry sectors with the largest employment gains year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:

Professional & business services with 17,400 new jobs;
Construction with 15,300 new jobs; and
Government with 12,900 new jobs.
ESD has new labor market web information and tools, including a video tutorial featuring popular information and data.

Governor’s Committee Seeks Advocates for Disabled
- Civic Affairs
Persons interested in being an advocate for people with disabilities may consider applying for membership on the Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment.

This state committee is recruiting new members to identify issues and concerns pertaining to the rights and needs of people with disabilities. The committee advises the Governor, Legislature, state agencies, the business community, organized labor, other public and private organizations and the general public. Members make policy recommendations with an emphasis on increasing opportunities for independence and employment.

“The committee has tremendous talent and contributes many volunteer hours working on projects that make a difference in the lives of Washington’s disability community,” said Chris Carnell, current chair of the committee.

Members must have a disability, have a family member with a disability or work as advocates for people with disabilities. The Governor appoints members to serve a three-year term with an opportunity to be reappointed for a second term. Members can live anywhere in the state.

The Governor’s Committee is administered by the Employment Security Department.

To be considered for an appointment to the board, apply by Aug. 31, 2016.

Find out more about becoming a member and read about the application process on esd.wa.gov. Contact Debbie Himes at 360-902-9362 for more information.

June 2016


Radical Islamic Americanism
- Commentary
Much is made in some quarters this season of excluding “Muslims” or “Islam” from the USA. Religious intolerance has a long and storied history in America, going back to protestant, witch hunting Massachusetts and struggles in initially catholic Maryland in the 17th Century. Supporters of this attitude are many, sadly.

Background: In Arabic, the word “Islam” means submission or surrender – however, it was derived from the root word “salam”. From this root word, you can also derive the words peace and safety. Many people feel that Islam implies some sort of enslavement to Allah, but others find it more helpful to define the word “Islam” as surrender.

Many religions have a concept of surrender to God. In Jewish history, when the ancient Hebrews obeyed God’s commands, they had a long period of prosperity and stability.

In Christianity, surrendering to God is a way of putting your life into more capable hands – in fact, Jesus asked many of his disciples to surrender their livelihoods and follow him.

So, if we look at the word ‘Islam’ in this way, we can understand why obeying Allah’s commands and trusting in Allah’s wisdom could bring about peace for a Muslim.

The word does not represent a one-sided relationship, where the believer is enslaved to Allah. Rather, the word Islam indicates a covenant between Allah and his followers, where a Muslim surrenders his or her will to Allah in return for peace or safety. (Source)


In secular America, the parallel concept is that we have a social contract with one another, obliging us to consider the well-being of our fellow citizens in addition to our own. It’s a Golden Rule without God, which leaves each person to seek — or not to seek — God in his/her own way without the intercession of the state. This, and a whole lot of relatively unpopulated land (yes, I know about the Native Americans), is how we have mostly managed not to be at one another’s throats these past 200-plus years. Everyone is free to believe as he/she chooses, but no one, and not the state, may compel others to believe or pretend to believe.

Now as to exclusionary practice based on fear, let’s look not at words but at numbers. There are about 1.2 billion Muslims, which looks like a lot more expressed as 1,200,000.000. There are about 30,000 ISIS/Daesh fighters plus perhaps as many as 100,000 to 200,000 somewhat subscribe but are not actively combative, according to various sources one might cite. Dividing by the 1.2 billion, population 30,000 is about two tenths of one percent of all Muslims, and 200,000 is about 1.6 percent. Only a tiny fraction of those extremists reside in the US, and even if they did, the largest of those groups is outnumbered by loyal Muslim-Americans (roughly 2 million adults) about ten to one.

Most American Muslims are (or are descended from) people who came here for the same reasons as all other immigrants: (1) to improve their economic condition and/or (2) to escape religiously intolerant governments. They are indeed our best defense against the intrusion of intolerance and extremist ideology based on cherry-picking the Koran for its most anti-modern elements.

As we non-believers say, "peace be upon us."

State labor market grows; unemployment holds at 5.8 percent
- Civic Affairs
OLYMPIA – Despite adding 8,700 jobs from April to May 2016, Washington’s unemployment rate remains at 5.8 percent for the fifth month in a row, according to the state’s Employment Security Department (ESD). The state released the seasonally adjusted, preliminary jobs estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its May Monthly Employment Report.

“Even though we added more than 101,000 jobs over the last year, Washington’s unemployment rate is holding steady,” said ESD’s state economist, Paul Turek. “As I’ve been saying for the last several months, that’s not necessarily bad for our economy as we have been seeing more and more people enter the labor market.”

The U.S. unemployment rate dipped to 4.7 percent in May. Unemployment in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area remained steady at 4.9 percent after the April unemployment rate was revised upward slightly from 4.8 percent to 4.9 percent in April 2016.

In Washington, ESD paid unemployment insurance benefits to 60,742 people in May.

Labor force continues to grow in Puget Sound and across Washington
The state’s labor force increased by 97,100 people to nearly 3.63 million from May 2015 to May 2016. The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over age 16. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force grew by 33,100 people over the same period.

Nine sectors see job growth, four sectors face losses
This month’s report shows the greatest job growth in professional & business services with 2,300 new jobs from April to May 2016.

Education and health services added 2,000 jobs. Government and construction both added 1,600 jobs.

The number of jobs in leisure and hospitality decreased by 1,400, with 900 of the loss occurring in arts, entertainment and recreation.

Year-over-year growth remains strong with continued gains in public and private sectors
The state added 101,700 new jobs from May 2015 to May 2016, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 3.5 percent or 89,700 jobs, and the public sector increased by 2.1 percent, adding 12,000 jobs.

From May 2015 to May 2016, 11 of 13 major industries saw growth while the number of jobs in the mining and logging industries dropped by 200 and manufacturing lost 2,800 jobs.

The top five industry sectors with the largest employment gains year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:
  • Professional & business services with 18,8 000 new jobs;
  • Construction with 14,000 new jobs;
  • Education and health services with 13,700 new jobs;
  • Government with 12,000 new jobs; and
  • Retail trade with 11,700 new jobs.

March 2016


Unemployment Rate Holds at 5.8 Percent
- Civic Affairs
OLYMPIA – Washington added 12,800 new nonfarm jobs, on a preliminary, seasonally adjusted basis, from December 2015 to January 2016, according to the state’s Employment Security Department (ESD).

“Washington continues to enjoy solid job growth,” said Paul Turek, Washington’s state labor economist. “The state has continued to add new jobs each month since October 2014 — and we are continuing to see growth in the labor market.”

The state’s unemployment rate remained at 5.8 percent, the same as revised employment rate for December 2015 and the same as one year ago in January 2015, according to estimates by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The U.S. unemployment rate dropped slightly to 4.9 percent for January 2016.

Unemployment in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area rose from 5 percent in December 2015 to a preliminary 5.1 percent in January 2016.

Labor force continues to grow in Puget Sound and across Washington

The resident labor force statewide rose slightly from nearly 3.57 million people in December 2015 to nearly 3.59 million in January. The resident labor force in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region rose from nearly 1.59 million to nearly 1.595 million over the same period. The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.

The number of unemployed rose to 209,900 statewide. The number of unemployed in the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett area grew from 78,700 in December to 81,400 in January. In January 2016, ESD paid unemployment insurance benefits to 86,598 statewide.

New jobs in retail, education & health and leisure & hospitality drive growth this month

This month’s report shows the greatest job growth in retail with 3,500 new jobs last month.

Eight more industries experienced job gains in the month of January including:

  • Education and health services (3,300)

  • Leisure and hospitality (2,800)

  • Other services (2,800)

  • Government (1,600)

  • Financial activities (1,300)

  • Manufacturing (800)

  • Information (600)

  • Construction (400)


Wholesale trade and mining and logging were unchanged. Professional and business services lost 2,900 jobs and transportation, warehousing and utilities lost 1,400 jobs.

Year-over-year growth remains strong with gains in both public and private sectors

Washington added 93,700 new jobs from January 2015 to January 2016 on a not seasonally adjusted basis. The private sector grew by 82,000 jobs and the public sector added 11,700, according to ESD’s Monthly Employment Report.

From January 2015 to January 2016, 11 of 13 major industries saw growth while the number of jobs in the mining and logging industries dropped by 700 and manufacturing lost 800 jobs.

The top four industry sectors with the largest employment gains from January 2015 to January 2016, not seasonally adjusted, were:

  • Retail trade with 15,700 new jobs

  • Professional and business services with 14,900 new jobs

  • Leisure and hospitality with 14,400 new jobs

  • Government with 11,700 new jobs.

Employment Security website


October 2015


Cooper Bias Clear as Democrats Debate
- Commentary

Anderson Cooper Offers No Apology for Slandering Bernie Sanders


By William Boardman, Reader Supported News
19 October 15


Who was the richest person in CNN’s Democratic presidential debate?

The richest person in the Democratic presidential candidate debate on October 10 was not a candidate. The richest person on that Las Vegas stage was CNN moderator and Vanderbilt heir Anderson Cooper, whose $100 million net worth ($100,000,000) is greater than all the candidates’ worth combined (about $84,000,000). In a very real, if unspoken sense, this “debate” was more like an exclusive club interview with Cooper vetting the applicants for their class credentials.

These class aspects of the debate went unmentioned. In American politics, class issues have traditionally gone unmentioned. The tacit understanding is that if you have the bad taste to ask, then you have no class. If you have class, you will have the right opinions. This year is different because of Bernie Sanders, part of whose popular appeal is that he is so clearly the scion of no great wealth and even less pretension. Sanders is calling for a social revolution against the ruling class of millionaires and billionaires, yet even he did not publicly object to having multi-millionaire Anderson Cooper of the One Per Cent running the show. Sanders likely understands that his best chance to win is not to confront the rich, but to surround them with everyone else whose net worth is more like his ($700,000) or less.

Net worth is notoriously hard to pin down with any accuracy, but ballpark figures are good enough at the highest levels, even if the numbers usually come from the candidates themselves. In a candidates’ net worth listing published October 13, the Democrats were evaluated as follows (with an alternative set of estimates in parenthesis):

Hillary Clinton: $45 million ($31.2 herself, with Bill $111 million)

Lincoln Chaffee: $32 million ($31.9 million, mostly his wife’s trust)

Jim Webb: $6 million ($4.6 million)

Bernie Sanders: $700,000 ($528,014)

Martin O’Malley: $-0- ($256,000)


By one recent measure, it takes a net worth of $1.2 million, minimum, to make it into the top One Per Cent of richest Americans (usually accompanied by pre-tax income of more than $300,000 annually). A US senator’s salary is $192,600, which is amplified significantly by perks and benefits.

Cooper’s life of wealth illuminates his gift as a glib carnival barker

Like most debate moderators, Anderson Cooper seemed most interested in promoting a food fight among the candidates. While he had snark for everyone, his most provocative and least conscionable jibes were saved for Sanders, served up with class-based relish.

What does yellow journalism red-baiting sound like? Cooper started with the lurking horror of every unjustifiably rich person:

“Senator Sanders. A Gallup poll says half the country would not put a socialist in the White House. You call yourself a democratic socialist. How can any kind of socialist win a general election in the United States?”
How could such a horror happen in America? That’s the question he seems to be asking. But to ask it that way, Cooper has to be deceitful and spin the Gallup poll to fit his meaning (Cooper’s spin reflects the conventional coverage of the poll at the time). The real news from the June 2015 poll was that 47% of Americans were OK with electing a “socialist” (not further defined by pollsters). That 47% is more than past polls, and those opposed to a “socialist” make up only 50%, a difference close to the margin of error. In other words, more than a year from the presidential election, Gallup finds America more or less neutral on the question of whether or not a candidate is “any kind of socialist.” For a Bernie kind of socialist, the simple answer to getting elected is to make the kind of progress in the next year that he’s made in the past six months.

Cooper’s approach uses “socialism” as something that is by definition pejorative and comes out of a deep, common bias in the US. The American ruling class has cultivated fear of “socialism” for close to two centuries, not because it’s a threat to people’s freedom but because it’s a threat to the wealth and power of people like the 158 families funding most of the 2016 race for the presidency.

Anderson Coopers class roots: Vanderbilt, Dalton, Yale, CIA

Anderson Cooper was not only born into wealth and power, he has lived the life of that class, as even his official CNN bio affirms. After attending New York’s Dalton School, Cooper graduated from Yale College in 1989 with a BA in political science and two summer internships at the CIA. He also studied Vietnamese at the University of Hanoi.

Cooper kept his CIA experience in the closet until September 2006, when an unnamed web site reported that Cooper had worked for the CIA. Cooper responded on his CNN blog in minimizing, dismissive fashion. He said the website didn’t have its facts straight, but cited no errors. His own facts are well fudged – “for a couple of months over two summers I worked at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia…. It was pretty bureaucratic and mundane.” Cooper doesn’t say what he did (of course) or even what years he was there (1987 and 1988, in the aftermath of William J. Casey’s directorship). Whatever Cooper did at the CIA, he was there when the CIA was running an illegal war in Nicaragua (and another in El Salvador) and the agency’s activities were subject to serious congressional efforts to curb them (the Boland Amendment).

When Sanders offered no direct answer to the question of how a “socialist” could win a general election, Cooper followed up more vituperatively and dishonestly:

“The question is really about electability here, and that’s what I’m trying to get at. You — the — the Republican attack ad against you in a general election — it writes itself. You supported the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. You honeymooned in the Soviet Union. And just this weekend, you said you’re not a capitalist. Doesn’t — doesn’t that ad write itself?”
Cooper’s first dishonesty here is asking the “electability” question here only of Sanders. Yes, everyone assumes Hillary Clinton is “electable,” ­but O’Malley, Chaffee, or Webb? They’re not even as close to getting nominated as Sanders. Why would anyone assume they’re electable in anything but a flip-of-the-coin sense? Cooper’s addressing the electability question only to Sanders may actually be a measure of how strong Cooper believes Sanders is or may be.

Then Cooper stated: “You supported the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.” He said it as if there were no question that supporting the Sandinistas was a really bad thing. That’s the talking point on Breitbart, National Review, and other right-wing sites for whom Cooper was carrying water. On Just Foreign Policy, Robert Naiman posted a prompt denunciation of Cooper for playing the knee-jerk, pro-war media honcho.

Cooper on record in support of illegal war supported by drug traffic

Supporting the Sandinistas in the 1980s was, and is, a principled position. The Sandinistas had overthrown the Somoza government, one of the most vicious of the US-backed dictatorships in Central America. President Reagan decided to wage an illegal covert war against the Sandinistas, using the CIA to recruit the Contra army to fight in Nicaragua, supported by CIA-supported drug traffic to the US. Cooper refers to none of this, which was all taking place while he was doing summer internships at the CIA. Is Cooper a CIA asset? Hard to know, but he plays one pretty well on TV. A Cooper-CIA tie is perfectly credible – there’s means, motive, and opportunity all round. And in 1988, Bob Woodward wasn’t getting any younger.

Supporting the illegal Contra war, run on drug money, is an unprincipled position, but Cooper clearly implies that it’s still his position. Like the US government, Cooper showed no respect for the International Court of Justice, which issued a 1986 ruling strongly supporting Nicaragua’s claims against the US, including the US mining of Nicaraguan harbors. The ruling awarded reparations to Nicaragua that the US never paid. The lone dissent in the decision came from Judge Stephen Schwebel, an American judge. The US defended its position in the UN Security Council in soviet-style, blocking any action with numerous vetoes. The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in support of Nicaragua, with only the US, El Salvador, and Israel opposed.

For Cooper to say that Sanders supported the Sandinistas in Nicaragua would be high praise in most of the world. Only in the boxed-in, unilluminated world of American media can it pass for a criticism without bring the house down in laughter. That’s another of the US government successes brought on by secret agencies like the CIS and fellow-travelers like multi-millionaire Anderson Cooper.

Bernie Sanders challenged the yellow journalist on the issue of Hillary Clinton’s emails. His was an act of generosity and presidential stature. None of his fellow candidates had the courage or character to repudiate Cooper’s shameless red-baiting, not on Nicaragua, and not on his next slander, “You honeymooned in the Soviet Union.”

Integrity is not a quality Cooper showed much interest in

Almost surely Cooper knew that statement was a dishonest low blow, a neat way to brutalize the truth without actually lying. Again Cooper was irresponsibly peddling another right wing trope, used with similar hypocrisy by George Will and others.

As a Daily Kos blog details, the Sanders honeymoon was also part of a 1956 sister-cities program initiated by the Eisenhower administration. In 1988, Sanders and his wife Jane were married, marched in a Memorial Day parade, then headed off to the Russian city of Yaroslavl on their “honeymoon.” Somehow that doesn’t have the same impact as when Anderson Cooper lies about it.

Cooper’s last dishonesty was: “And just this weekend you said you’re not a capitalist.” Once again Cooper acted as if that was an undeniable evil, case closed. But the instance he referred to on NBC was not so simple, and Cooper provided no context. On NBC, Sanders bristled when his interviewer asked if Sanders was a “socialist,” since Sanders has referred to himself a “democratic socialist” for decades. Sanders asked the NBC toady parrot if he ever asked others if they were “capitalists” and the guy cowered out. He asked Sanders if he was a capitalist. And Sanders said, yet again, that he’s a democratic socialist.

Returning to his distorted framing bias, a “Republican attack ad,” Cooper asked, “Doesn’t that ad write itself?” Well, so what if it does? That just means Republican ad writers have as little integrity as Cooper, and maybe that’s what they’re all paid for.

As Sanders put in on CNN at the end of his opening statement:“What this campaign is about is whether we can mobilize our people to take back our government from a handful of billionaires and create the vibrant democracy we know we can and should have.”
We are at the beginning of what might be a long learning curve as we find out what our country is truly about. Bernie Sanders offers an opportunity to look at realities in broad daylight and make up our minds about them. Anderson Cooper is but one of a legion of self-serving, self-preserving One Per Cent propagandists who will do all they can to keep the Sanders message in the dark.

William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Source


Er du norsk? TV fame awaits!
- People
OPEN CASTING CALL AT ACT THEATRE FOR NORWEGIAN REALITY TV SHOW FEATURING NORWEGIAN-AMERICANS:

Chicago’s O’Connor Casting Company is holding an open casting call on Sunday, October 18th at Seattle’s ACT Theatre for Norwegian-Americans interested in applying for Season 7 of Norway’s hit Reality TV show “Alt for Norge” (AKA “The Great Norway Adventure”).

The Norwegian Emmy award winning series follows 12 Norwegian-Americans who fly to Norway and dive into the culture by competing in a series of fun and adventurous challenges. The winner receives a CASH prize of $50,000.00 and meets Norwegian relatives they don’t even know exist.

According to series Casting Producer Joan O’Connor, Seattle is an ideal place to have an open call. “There are 365,000 Norwegian-Americans in Washington and it’s the perfect place to find fun and adventurous people. We’ve featured someone from Washington every season, including season one winner Doug Miner, and we’d love to discover more!”

The series is tremendously popular in Norway and has featured 70 Americans from all over the United States including season six cast member Joel Hilmo from Bellevue, Washington.

Hilmo says, “It was a life changing experience! I never felt like the crew was creating drama. The whole experience was about falling in love with Norway, which I did.” Some of Hilmo’s adventures range from reconstructing a famous WWII sabotage to sailing an old ship to ski jumping.

But according to fellow season six cast member Hannah Tjoflat, there is also a transformative emotional component to the show. Tjoflat says, “I gained a greater understanding and appreciation for where I come from and it helped me have a better view of where I'm headed. I now have a deeper confidence in who I am in the world and left Norway feeling more empowered than ever."

The open call is on Sunday, October 18, 2015 from 10:00am-3:00pm at the ACT Theatre, 700 Union Street, Seattle, WA 98101. Enter at ticket office door. To get on the VIP list (slots are limited) email castingnorway@gmail.com.

If unable to attend the open call, people can still apply online. To be eligible, applicants need to be a U.S. citizen with Norwegian ancestry (even a little bit counts), age 18+ and have never traveled to Norway. For all information and to apply online go to http://oconnorcasting.tv/norway/

“Alt for Norge” is produced by Norway’s Monster Entertainment and currently airs only on Discovery Networks Norway. For PRESS INFORMATION contact Joan O’Connor at 312-226-9112 or email joan@oconnorcasting.tv. To view clips go to the following link.

Preview Clips


July 2015


We could rebuild (it); we have the technology...
- Commentary
According to US Sen. Bernie Sanders of VT, "The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that it would cost $3.6 trillion to bring our nation's infrastructure to a state of good repair. Spending one trillion would create about 13 million jobs..." So, of course, I rushed to my spreadsheet.

$3.6 trillion borrowed at 4% for 40 years (the typical rate and term combination for US infrastructure projects) would cost about $64 per capita per month or $773 per year, assuming 200 million adult taxpayers. At the median wage of $17.09/hour (Citation) each adult would have to work about 52 minutes more per week to earn that extra tax money; of course better infrastructure would reduce that time requirement and improve the general economy, but my spreadsheet has no column for that. Of course we could do nothing and save that pittance of time and money, but why not be remembered as those who built or restored the bridge over the Columbia or the playground in our neighborhood?

In contrast, every year we spend $2,141 per capita (Citation) for our military, and that's for all citizens, not just taxpayers; using the 200MM taxpayers figure, the yearly amount is more like $3,500.

There are other costs. Many infrastructure projects are dangerous; in the current era about 9.5 workers per hundred thousand die in construction accidents yearly (2008-12, est., Citation). The senator estimates 13,000,000 "jobs," but it's not clear how many would be employed at any given time. If that number is half those who would ever be employed in such a work plan, or 6.5 million, then the number of annual deaths would be 9.5 ÷ 100,000 X 6,500,000, or 617, or about 15 per year over 40 years. For comparison, since the era of G.W. (Great Warrior) Bush, we've been burying about 4,000 soldiers per year.

ItemExpenditure (40 yrs)MonthlyYr. Per CapitaMo. Per CapitaDeaths/Yr
Infrastructure$3,600,000,000,000$12,887,439,913$773$6415
Military$28,261,200,000,000$58,877,500,000$3,528$2944,000

So the annual decision matrix reduces to $773 and 15 deaths for the infrastructure model vs. $3,200 per year (which over the same 40 years would come to about $28 trillion) and 4,000 deaths for the military model. If you are still finding that to be a tough call, consider that two generations of technological progress in infrastructure development would also be a "product" we could sell to the world, potentially giving us permanent national income in the future. And the buyers would probably not be inclined to undo their progress by engaging in warfare against their neighbors or those who provided the support services to keep that infrastructure functional. In contrast, every military sortie creates a new pocket of hatred somewhere, which unless we do something smarter will continue to create nihilistic revenge seekers, many of whom will act reflexively, to paraphrase Jesus, knowing not what they do.

Of course this is a facile analysis. We probably cannot do away with all national security expense, but given that it will be generations before anyone other than a couple of traditional enemies could mount an existential attack on the USA without committing national suicide, mightn't we move a few millimeters* in a more rational direction?

(Apologies to The Six Million Dollar Man.)

* Millimeter: a unit of linear measurement used in construction worldwide; see also inch.
Some multiples may not come out even due to rounding.
Revised with minor corrections 6 Oct 2015.


June 2015


You have to ask!
- Consumer Affairs
This article originally appeared in a public post by Jim Ryan on Facebook.

As I was waiting in line behind an older gentleman at Wendy's recently, I heard him ask for his senior discount. The girl at the register apologized and charged him less. When I asked the man what the discount was, he told me that seniors over age 55 ...get 10% off everything on the menu, every day. (But you need to ASK for your discount.)

Being of 'that' age myself, I figured I might as well ask for the discount too.
this incident prompted me to do some research, and I came across a list of restaurants, supermarkets, department stores, travel deals and other types of offers giving various discounts with different age requirements. I was actually surprised to see how many there are and howsome of them start at the young age of 50. This list may not only be useful for you, but for your friends and family too.

Dunkin Donuts gives free coffee to people over 55 .
If you're paying for a cup every day, you might want to start getting it for FREE.

Many more follow; YOU MUST ASK for your discount !


RESTAURANTS:
Applebee's: 15% off with Golden Apple Card (60+)
Arby's: 10% off ( 55 +)
Ben & Jerry's: 10% off (60+)
Bennigan's: discount varies by location (60+)
Bob's Big Boy: discount varies by location (60+)
Boston Market: 10% off (65+)
Burger King: 10% off (60+)

Chick-Fil-A: 10% off or free small drink or coffee ( 55+)
Chili's: 10% off ( 55+)
CiCi's Pizza: 10% off (60+)
Denny's: 10% off, 20% off for AARP members ( 55 +)
Dunkin' Donuts: 10% off or free coffee ( 55+)
Einstein's Bagels: 10% off baker's dozen of bagels (60+)
Fuddrucker's: 10% off any senior platter ( 55+)
Gatti's Pizza: 10% off (60+)
Golden Corral: 10% off (60+)
Hardee's: $0.33 beverages everyday (65+)
IHOP: 10% off ( 55+)
Jack in the Box: up to 20% off ( 55+)
KFC: free small drink with any meal ( 55+)
Krispy Kreme: 10% off ( 50+)
Long John Silver's: various discounts at locations ( 55+)
McDonald's: discounts on coffee everyday ( 55+)
Mrs. Fields: 10% off at participating locations (60+)
Shoney's: 10% off
Sonic: 10% off or free beverage (60+)
Steak 'n Shake: 10% off every Monday & Tuesday ( 50+)
Subway: 10% off (60+)
Sweet Tomatoes: 10% off (62+)
Taco Bell : 5% off; free beverages for seniors (65+)
TCBY: 10% off ( 55+)

Tea Room Cafe: 10% off ( 50+)
Village Inn: 10% off (60+)
Waffle House: 10% off every Monday (60+)
Wendy's: 10% off ( 55 +)
Whataburger: 10% off (62+)
White Castle: 10% off (62+) This is for me ... if I ever see one again.

RETAIL & APPAREL :
Banana Republic: 30% off ( 50 +)
Bealls: 20% off first Tuesday of each month ( 50 +)
Belk's: 15% off first Tuesday of every month ( 55 +)
Big Lots: 30% off
Bon-Ton Department Stores: 15% off on senior discount days ( 55 +)
C.J. Banks: 10% off every Wednesday (50+)
Clarks : 10% off (62+)
Dress Barn: 20% off ( 55+)
Goodwill: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)
Hallmark: 10% off one day a week (date varies by location)
Kmart: 40% off (Wednesdays only) ( 50+)
Kohl's: 15% off (60+)Modell's Sporting Goods: 30% off
Rite Aid: 10% off on Tuesdays & 10% off prescriptions

Ross Stores: 10% off every Tuesday ( 55+)
The Salvation Army Thrift Stores: up to 50% off ( 55+)
Stein Mart: 20% off red dot/clearance items first Monday of every month ( 55 +)

GROCERY :
Albertson's: 10% off first Wednesday of each month ( 55 +)
American Discount Stores: 10% off every Monday ( 50 +)
Compare Foods Supermarket: 10% off every Wednesday (60+)
DeCicco Family Markets: 5% off every Wednesday (60+)
Food Lion: 60% off every Monday (60+)
Fry's Supermarket: free Fry's VIP Club Membership & 10% off every Monday ( 55 +)
Great Valu Food Store: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
Gristedes Supermarket: 10% off every Tuesday (60+)
Harris Teeter: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
Hy-Vee: 5% off one day a week (date varies by location)
Kroger: 10% off (date varies by location)
Morton Williams Supermarket: 5% off every Tuesday (60+)
The Plant Shed: 10% off every Tuesday ( 50 +)
Publix: 15% off every Wednesday ( 55 +)
Rogers Marketplace: 5% off every Thursday (60+)
Uncle Guiseppe's Marketplace: 15% off (62+)

TRAVEL :
Airlines:
Alaska Airlines: 50% off (65+)
American Airlines: various discounts for 50% off non-peak periods (Tuesdays - Thursdays) (62+)and up (call before booking for discount)
Continental Airlines: no initiation fee for Continental Presidents Club & special fares for select destinations
Southwest Airlines: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
United Airlines: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
U.S. Airways: various discounts for ages 65 and up (call before booking for discount)
Rail:
Amtrak: 15% off (62+)
Bus:
Greyhound: 15% off (62+)
Trailways Transportation System: various discounts for ages 50+

Car Rental:
Alamo Car Rental: up to 25% off for AARP members
Avis: up to 25% off for AARP members
Budget Rental Cars: 40% off; up to 50% off for AARP members ( 50+)

Dollar Rent-A-Car: 10% off ( 50+) Enterprise Rent-A-Car: 5% off for AARP members Hertz: up to 25% off for AARP members
National Rent-A-Car: up to 30% off for AARP members

Overnight Accommodations:
Holiday Inn: 20-40% off depending on location (62+)
Best Western: 40% off (55+)
Cambria Suites: 20%-30% off (60+)
Waldorf Astoria - NYC $5,000 off nightly rate for Presidential Suite (55 +)
Clarion Motels: 20%-30% off (60+)
Comfort Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
Comfort Suites: 20%-30% off (60+)
Econo Lodge: 40% off (60+)
Hampton Inns & Suites: 40% off when booked 72 hours in advance
Hyatt Hotels: 25%-50% off (62+)
InterContinental Hotels Group: various discounts at all hotels (65+)
Mainstay Suites: 10% off with Mature Traveler's Discount (50+); 20%-30% off (60+)
Marriott Hotels: 25% off (62+)
Motel 6: Stay Free Sunday nights (60+)
Myrtle Beach Resort: 30% off ( 55 +)
Quality Inn: 40%-50% off (60+)
Rodeway Inn: 20%-30% off (60+)
Sleep Inn: 40% off (60+)

ACTIVITIES & ENTERTAINMENT ;:
AMC Theaters: up to 30% off ( 55 +)
Bally Total Fitness: $100 off memberships (62+)
Busch Gardens Tampa, FL: $13 off one-day tickets ( 50 +)
Carmike Cinemas: 35% off (65+)
Cinemark/Century Theaters: up to 35% off
Massage Envy - NYC 20% off all "Happy Endings" (62 +)
U.S. National Parks: $10 lifetime pass; 50% off additional services including camping (62+)
Regal Cinemas: 50% off Ripley's Believe it or Not: @ off one-day ticket ( 55 +)
SeaWorld, Orlando , FL : $3 off one-day tickets ( 50 +)

CELL PHONE DISCOUNTS :
AT&T: Special Senior Nation 200 Plan $19.99/month (65+)
Jitterbug: $10/month cell phone service ( 50 +)
Verizon Wireless: Verizon Nationwide 65 Plus Plan $29.99/month (65+).

MISCELLANEOUS:
Great Clips: $8 off hair cuts (60+)
Supercuts: $8 off haircuts (60+)

NOW, go out there and claim your discounts - - and remember -- YOU must ASK for discount ---- no ask, no discount.
I Know everyone knows someone over 50 please pass the one on!!!!!

Shark, shark!
- General News
Danger, danger! The sharks are coming to a theater near you. Just in case youi see "Jaws" reruns and are moved to revenge, consider:

On average, around 100 people per year die in horse riding accidents. Thousands more riders are injured. The majority of horse related accidents and deaths are due to brain injuries caused as the result of not wearing a helmet. Horse-related accidents are the most common type of serious sports injury. Shooting horses is illegal most places.

Earthquakes: Events per year with magnitude >= 8.0 is 1. Average people killed per year: 13,298. Average people affected per year: 4,701,156. Most deaths are attributable to faulty construction. Shooting architects and masons is illegal.

Floods: Events per year: 2,887. No of people killed: 195,843. Average people killed per year: 6,753. No of people affected: 2,809,481,489. Average people affected per year 6,753. Solution: Shooting boatwrights is illegal.

Exposure & hypothermia: From 1999 to 2011, a total of 16,911 deaths in the United States, an average of 1,301 per year, were associated with exposure to excessive natural cold. The highest yearly total of hypothermia-related deaths (1,536) was in 2010 and the lowest (1,058) in 2006. Approximately 67% of hypothermia-related deaths were among males. Shooting people who don't want to take precautions is illegal.

Air Pollution: In new estimates released today, WHO reported 25 March 2014 that in 2012 around 7 million people died - one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure. This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk. Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives. Shooting drivers is illegal.

Smoking: It is the leading cause of preventable death. Worldwide, tobacco use causes nearly 6 million deaths per year, and current trends show that tobacco use will cause more than 8 million deaths annually by 2030. Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including an estimated 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day. On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. If smoking continues at the current rate among U.S. youth, 5.6 million of today’s Americans younger than 18 years of age are expected to die prematurely from a smoking-related illness. This represents about one in every 13 Americans aged 17 years or younger who are alive today. Shooting smokers is illegal.

Shark Attack: The highest death rate occurred in Western Australia, which has experienced 11 fatal attacks since 2000, for the math-challenged, that's less than one per year. In 2000, there were 79 shark attacks reported worldwide, 11 of them fatal. In 2005 and 2006 this number decreased to 61 and 62 respectively, while the number of fatalities dropped to only four per year. Shooting sharks is legal.

So it's obvious we should fear sharks. BTW, there is no legal penalty for NOT swimming in shark infested waters.

(Various sources.)

March 2015


Montreal: Cooler than Seattle?
- General News
Here's a bit of evidence that Montreal's lifestyle is cooler than Seattle. The adjacent image shows a bus stop in Montreal. Seattle KC Metro obliges its riders to stand in the rain. Which do you think is cooler? Image source: Facebook, unattributed.)


November 2014


Voters ignore continuing decline in joblessness
- Civic Affairs
Initial unemployment claims fell last week, dropping the average over the previous month to its lowest level in 14 years, the Labor Department said Thursday, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

About 278,000 people filed for first-time unemployment benefits, down 10,000 from the previous week. The decline was larger than economists had forecast.

The figure remained above the post-Great Recession low of 266,000, reached in the week ended Oct. 11.

The four-week average for claims, which smooths out some of the volatility of the closely watched labor market barometer, has been falling steadily since the beginning of the year.

August 2014


Humane Society seeks student volunteers
- Education
The Humane Teen Club is for teens ages 13 to 17 who are interested in learning about animal welfare and becoming volunteers at the Seattle Humane Society before they turn 18. Members are chosen at the end of summer and the program runs throughout the school year.

The Humane Teen Club meets two Saturdays each month from October to June and teens learn about Seattle Humane and receive training to prepare them to volunteer at the shelter. Space is limited to 20 members based on the strength of their application essays.

Location: Seattle Humane Society
13212 SE Eastgate Way
Bellevue, WA 98005
Sponsor: Seattle Humane Society
Contact: Megan, marketing@seattlehumane.org, 425-641-0080

Info & Application


A modest proposal: License police officers
- Civic Affairs
The current turmoil in Ferguson, MO, is sadly nothing new. The tragedy of an apparently promising young man lost is being compounded by anger among the population and compounding of racial tension by local police. The good news is that this can become a teachable moment.

Much of the problem we are witnessing stems from low expectations for our police, by the public and even by the police themselves. Police brutality is not a myth, and police officers who misbehave often move on down the road to misbehave elsewhere. Yet police must often engage in a dangerous balancing act few of us would care to adopt as our way of life.

One recurrent proposal over the years has been the creation of national standards for policing, licensing of officers and the removal of political influence from police procedure. The profound inadequacy and even total lack of training of local police creates a patchwork of policing in the US, ranging from superb to appalling. In this case, think Keystone Cops with bazookas.

Herewith a nudge in what I think could be the right direction. There are several interlocking components.

1. Preliminary Training

Professional police academies can produce professional police officers. No one without such training should be given a badge and gun and told to "be careful out there." The training should have a structure similar to other post-secondary education. Schoolteachers are required to pass through two or three levels of college to advance and are typically required to engage in continuing education throughout their careers. Similarly, police officers should be obliged to complete preparatory education and then pass through regular examinations in law and best practices. Supervisors should need the equivalent of bachelors and masters degrees at least comparable to teachers, laboratory workers, firefighters and others who are occasionally charged with life and death situations.

2. National Standards

The standards for policing need to be national. It cannot be acceptable for police in one state or city to exercise their power brutally against people they simply dislike, while in other jurisdictions police are weakened to the point of ineffectiveness.

3. National License

A license to serve as a police officer should be defined using the national standards, and dismissal in one jurisdiction should result in loss of that license, either with or without the potential for redemption after a period of time and re-education. The license could be administered by the states for efficiency, but the standards must be the same, and national funds should not be available to nonconforming states.

The "best practices" are surely well established in law and education in most states and could be amalgamated to a national standard with regional options (for example, rules on operating in mountainous terrain could be waived for Kansas and Florida, but gratuitously beating minority citizens would be equally illegal in Mississippi, Montana and Massachusetts). A system of standardized, national licensing would be relatively easy and could be in place in under five years at minimal expense (the cost of creating a national academy to produce the needed standards is probably no more than is being expended -- some would say wasted-- in Missouri this week). This would primarily benefit police officers, as their career options would dramatically increase. There are many aspects to designing a good system that would need planning and continuous refinement; for example, retention of quality officers by small, relatively poor jurisdictions.

Our police do indeed protect most of us from harm, and they do indeed confront danger often, for which we should thank them and help them to advance in their profession, to our mutual benefit.

September 2013


A Boost for Arts Education in Uganda
- Arts
Tom Herriman, former publisher of the old printed Seattle Press, has for several years taught English and music in Uganda for several months each year. We are pleased to call attention to a related effort that deserves your consideration. To wit:
Oakland • Sept. 16, 2013 • Opportunities for self expression and creativity are essential to a good quality of life. A group of artists I met in Uganda recognized this and began sharing their skills and their paints and brushes with kids in the neighborhood. It was informal at first. The kids would show up at James Nsamba's tiny studio every morning, brimming with energy and curiosity. James and Farouk Mukwaya would hand out paper and paint and colored pencils...then give the kids some basic lessons in how to use art materials to express ideas and feelings.

Gradually we got more organized. We call ourselves Uganda Art Consortium. We started a website, ugandart.com, and we're part of Kisa Foundation USA, a 501 (c) (3) charity.

We now hold two or three workshops every year, attended by hundreds of children where they learn painting, drawing and jewelry making. We have 8 adult artists who volunteer as teachers. The kids become energetic and excited as they see their visions take shape on paper and canvas. They gradually become more confident, eager to speak out, proud of what they can do

Daily life can be grim for children in Namungona, a slum neighborhood on the outskirts of Kampala. Many are orphans...without a stable home life, steady school or even a steady diet. Many kids have to work to help support their families...hauling water, tending to their Mom's vegetable stand, or weeding the garden. They miss school because of work, or because the families can't afford the fees. School itself is pretty strict and regimented. There's a lot of rote learning, little chance for ideas or creativity.

The schools do the best they can with limited resources, but there's scant music, art, or literature in the curriculum. Our workshops help fill this cultural gap in children's lives.

Now we're hoping to build a small permanent art center in the community where we can hold classes, store materials, and have a gallery to display what the children have accomplished. With a gallery, we can attract tourists. The kids can sell their artwork to help support their families, and buy materials for the workshops. Having our own place is an essential step for us to improve and expand our outreach to Ugandan children through art.

The money we raise through Indiegogo will be used to buy or rent a small piece of land. Then, with many volunteers, we'll build a building ourselves, with recycled roofing sheets and bricks we make ourselves.

Learn More


May 2013


A ? for Sen. Vitter
- Commentary
We note that Sen. David Vitter (R, LA) has submitted 600 questions to EPA administrator designate Gina McCarthy among over 1,000 submitted by his party colleagues. Of course, it is an obvious ploy by the Reprehensicans to sidetrack, delay or block her confirmation, adopted because she is clearly qualified and he hasn't a substantive leg to stand on.

Perhaps he could answer this environmental question, submitted by a reader: "If a Louisiana senator ejaculates into a New Orleans hooker and she flushes the semen or a condom containing it, does it significantly diminish water quality in the lower Mississippi?"

December 2012


On the 2nd Amendment
- General News
The intent of the framers: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear [knives, swords and single-shot muzzle loading firearms] shall not be infringed." (Parenthesis mine, of course.) All else are as subject to rational oversight as automobiles and aircraft.

April 2011


Seattle expat promotes art in Uganda
- General News
The 2011 Uganda Art Consortium Exhibition held April 8 -10 in Washington DC was declared a success by its organizers, including former Seattle Press publisher Tom Herriman. Over 70 paintings and prints including many created in 2010 were included in the show.


Proceeds from the sale of artwork are used to provide art therapy for HIV-AIDS patients and free childrens art workshops in Uganda. The Exhibition is part of Takoma Art Hop, a three day art festival including over 40 artists exhibiting in local galleries, stores and businesses. Uganda Art Consortium is a project of Kisa Foundation USA.




April 2010


Tacoma Night Bicycle Racing June 12
- Sports
Mark your calendar for June 12th! From 3pm – 11pm Downtown Tacoma will be hosting it’s first ever Twilight Criterium Bicycle Race, presented by Michelob Ultra. The race will loop around the north end streets of Pacific Ave and the course adorned with bands, beer gardens, DJs, Prizes, Games, a Kids’ Race and more.

If you’ve never seen criterium racing (aka: “crit”) before, get ready for a thrill as the riders compete on a closed circuit loop for about an hour per event. The race is measured in time (not laps) and the pace is kept at a near sprint the entire time by way of mid-race prizes and points. Spectators can expect to see the pack race by some 30+ times in the night’s main event.

Racing will take place approximately every hour starting at 3pm concluding with the Category 1 (elite/ pro) riders at 7.30pm.

To make it even more exciting, the Tacoma Twilight Criterium will be the final stage in the Cascadia Criterium series – a new month-long Puget Sound series of races in which riders aim to build up points to claim the overall title. The night's final prizes will be awarded at 9pm.

“We wanted to create a new event to bring life to the Downtown area and generate some buzz in the City amidst these pressing economic times.” says Tim Waer of the Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Commission. “Tacoma Bike greeted with open arms to co-host the event. The city is ready for this race. We were very lucky to get on board Tacoma Bike, Dean Burke at Junefish and Race Director Joe Holmes. We hope, with the support of the City and the riders, to prepare the ground for an event for years to come.”

Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Commission, Tacoma Bike and Junefish join together to bring you a party in Downtown Tacoma like you’ve never seen before. Bring the kids, bring a chair, settle in for the night.

The event is free to spectators. For more information visit: www.tacomatwilight.com. Join the race on Facebook for the latest updates.

More Information


French University, State of WA Expand Relations
- Education
The Academy of Nantes and the Office of Superintendent for Public Instruction of Washington State will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in Olympia on Tuesday, April 27.

This agreement will celebrate a new step in the connection between the educational systems of both regions. The cities of Nantes and Seattle have been working for a long time on signing such a memorandum. These two regions have in common numerous concerns: the environment, high technology, and expanding international exchanges.

Thanks’ to these common projects; this MOU will allow to develop numerous partnerships between schools, and to support the learning of French language in Washington State.

NW Indian College to host art auction
- Arts
The Northwest Indian College in Bellingham, Wash., will hold its second annual TL'aneq' Gathering for a Celebration benefit dinner and auction on Saturday, April 24th, 2010 at the Semiahmoo Resort in Blaine, Wash.

NWIC’s goal for the evening is to raise $250,000 in support of the college’s cultural arts and education and to enhance our relations and understanding within the region. Our vision for education at NWIC is based in deeply held beliefs about relationships and stewardship. Tickets are $250 for the TL'aneq' event.

The event, co-hosted by David and Jonathan Syre (Trillium Corp), will include a pre-event reception, gourmet fare and a live and silent auction of Coast Salish cultural arts and experiences, including a tour of a renowned local master carver’s studio (Felix Solomon, who has artwork displayed at the Whatcom County Museum as well as private collections).

The college is currently seeking table captains, table sponsors, and ticket sales. We are also seeking artists who wish to donate art for the live or silent auction.

January 2010


New 'Community Journal' to expand news, commentary, etc., in SP site
- Housekeeping
The Seattle Press is undergoing a substantial change in content management. We have added a "Member Networking" feature that will enable reader-writers to contribute news and commentaries by publishing personal Journals and regular Updates.

The initial capabilities include

  • Member Journals - a full-featured blog/journal lets each member contribute news and commentary.
  • Timely Updates - use this Twitter-like feature to report personal events or to point to articles in your journal or to external sites.
  • Picture and Movie Links - Link to your picture and movie albums on popular media sites like Flickr, YouTube, etc., icons on our site will link to your content on their site.
  • Member to Member Messages - write individual messages to other members; (to reduce spam the number of messages per day is limited).
And coming soon
  • Embed an image in each journal posts
  • Link to Friends and send group messages
  • Form user Groups within the site - this is how we will spotlight neighborhood news
  • Publish your own lists of Favorite sites, books, films...
Check back soon to see what's New(s)!

October 2009


AG says door-to-door scam is back
- Consumer Affairs
SEATTLE -- If a young person knocks on your door and says they're selling magazines for a charity, wait before reaching for your pocketbook. The Washington Attorney General’s Office, which issued a warning about Fresh Start Opportunities in March, says solicitors have returned to Washington state.

Fresh Start Opportunities claims to be a “job business training company” that sends young adults door to door to give them a “fresh start” on life. The organization has ignored repeated inquiries from the Secretary of State’s Office concerning its failure to register as a charity, as well as consumer complaints received by the Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau.

“After paying generous amounts for subscriptions, consumers throughout the country never received the magazines and have no idea how their money was spent,” said Attorney General Rob McKenna.

The AGO has received complaints from consumers who paid $50 to $784 for subscriptions. A common theme among the complainants is that they were touched by the solicitors’ stories. They said solicitors claimed to be earning money for college, working toward a better job, receiving points for a free trip, or contributing proceeds to help homeless youth. Consumers paid for subscriptions by check.

The Attorney General’s Office has received complaints from consumers nationwide because the company lists a downtown Seattle address on its Web site. But it’s just a mail-forwarding service. A business scans the letters then sends the files by e-mail to the addressee, believed to be located in another state. So no one from Fresh Start Opportunities ever has to step inside to pick up the mail, such as refund requests.

The Web site also lists a toll-free phone number. When called, an automatic message says the number is “temporarily unavailable.”

A 19-year-old man working for Fresh Start Opportunities was arrested last fall in connection with an Edmonds robbery and was a suspect in burglaries in Sammamish and Tumwater.

A state search engine listing registered charities is available at www.secstate.wa.gov/charities.

More information


August 2009


Where is Patty Murray?
- Commentary
Do as I do, or say, not as I say, or do. We're confused. Where is Sen. Patty Murray (D, WA) on the issue of the day: Health Care? From what we can see on her official website, the answer is "over there" or "over here" - or elsewhere, or nowhere.

The site's health care pages are a litany of platitudes about the problems of people who have had to battle insurance companies and other bureaucrats, but there is - at least without an anthropological dig into the ruins - no way to discern any solutions or any preference among those of others. One cannot expect that every senator be an expert on every topic, and though we admire Murray's stance on many issues, on this one there appears to be little leadership.

It's not as though the issues haven't been crystal clear for years, or decades. Cherry picking, pre-existing conditions, arbitrary cancellations, excursions into clients' childhood illnesses, insurance companies whose profits are increased by denying coverage. Everyone save the profiteers agrees that these are the root of our poor national health conditions.

Murray's official position - again, read her official site - appears to be that "someday soon we really must do something, oh dear!"

After nearly 12 years in the senate, surely Sen. Murray is not approaching this subject for the first time. This is not a time to study the problem; it is the time to choose and to act. Fuzzy weasel words like "improve" and "protect" do not help any of the thousands of Americans who will be denied care during the time you read this comment.

Lawmakers may rightly be judged by the company they keep. Recent TV ads - sponsored by "health industry" shills - encourage voters to "thank Patty Murray" along with her colleague Maria Cantwell for supporting "real reform" in glossy presentations that resemble leopards thanking the lions for not eating all the wildebeests. Such sponsors do not spend their advertising funds for no reason. The ancient parable of lions lying with lambs speaks to the generosity of the lions, not the wisdom of the lambs.

Sen. Murray Senate Site


April 2009


Gov. Jindal should put his river where his volcano is
- Commentary
Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) might well apply his vaunted cost-saving strategy to the rest of the country. In his rejoinder to Pres. Barack Obama's address to Congress earlier this year Jindal disdainfully suggested that "volcano monitoring" was a waste of the taxpayers' money.

This idea might have been rejected by the hundreds of people who were on their way to Anchorage and the thousands flying elsewhere over North America to other destinations at the time Mt. Redoubt erupted recently. Well before the eruption, flights were advised and diverted due to, well, volcano monitoring.

As at Mt. Rainier, Kilauea and numerous other sites around the country, government agencies monitor environmental hazards and attempt to provide warnings. This is rarely considered wasteful by those downslope or downstream.

As I write, flood waters in the Upper Mississippi Valley are being monitored as they are each spring, and continuous estimates of potential impact on the Lower Mississippi (as in Shreveport, Baton Rouge and New Orleans) are being sent ahead of the flood. The cost of this effort is many times the cost of volcano monitoring; we have many more rivers than we have volcanoes.

As one who has not seen the Mississippi from less than 30,000 feet in decades, I might question the wisdom of all that wasteful "river monitoring," but I don't. What affects my brothers and sisters in Louisiana affects me.

November 2012 is coming. I suggest we all commit a few bucks to "Jindal monitoring" no matter how inconsequential the rumblings might sound.

Ruby Room Opens Prom Doors with Free Formal Wear
- People
The Ruby Room, a Seattle non-profit boutique, provides free formal gowns to teens whose families are struggling financially. It will hold several Saturday boutique events this spring at which Seattle high school students can select a prom gown and accessories, all free of charge. The dates appear below.

“We have thousands of gowns in all sizes and colors that will flatter every body type,” says Nyla Bittermann, director of the Ruby Room. “If you’re looking for the latest in prom fashion, you’ll find it in our boutique. And best of all, it’s free.”

Seattle Press asked Ruby's representative Jaime whether the gowns were loans or gifts. The answer: "The gowns are gifts to teens whose families are struggling financially. When they make an appointment to come to the boutique, they get to select a dress, matching jewelry, shoes, handbag and even a wrap - all for free. They do not need to bring the items back.

"When I tell the teens they can select all of the above items and not pay a dime," Jaime added, "the look on their faces is priceless. We're talking about girls who are on free- or reduced-lunch programs at school who don't regularly get new clothes, let alone a prom dress and all the accessories."

If you or someone you know needs a gown, you may email nyla@rubyroomseattle.org to schedule an appointment. Include your name, phone number, high school and date of the dance.

The Ruby Room is currently accepting monetary and accessory donations such as jewelry, shoes and handbags. Visit www.rubyroomseattle.org for more information.

The Ruby Room provides formal attire to teens in financial need, enabling them to participate in their high school community. The organization also provides leadership and education through volunteer opportunities and workshops.

The Ruby Room was founded in 2002 by Nyla Bittermann (Jordan) and Kristen Corning. It all started with 8 volunteers working out of an office in Queen Anne and is now going strong on Capital Hill with over 100 volunteers.

2009 Boutique dates are 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturdays. Appointments are required.
April 4, April 11, April 18, April 25, May 2, May 9, May 16, May 30, June 6. Note: No boutique on May 23.

The Ruby Room


March 2009


Ugandan Art Show Scheduled for May
- Arts
Over 100 works by members of Uganda Art Consortium will be on display May 8, 9 and 10 in the largest exhibit and sale of Ugandan art ever held in the U.S. The show is part of the Ballard May 2009 Artwalk.

Works include oil paintings, wood block prints, vat dye paintings, silk screen prints and other media. Beadwork jewelry produced by children in UAC's free workshops for AIDS patients and orphans will also be on sale. Artists included in the show include Kizito Fred Kakinda, James Nsamba, Kennedy Baguma, Matias Tusime, Hassan Mikiibi, and Hadson Mbabazi.

The exhibition will be held at the Ballard Bookcase Gallery, 4611 11th Ave. NW Seattle, WA 98107. For information about the show, contact Tom Herriman, 206-353-5978.

Uganda Art Consortium


February 2009


Up yours, Bobby Jindal!
- Commentary
Seattle - 24 February 2009 - In his rejoinder to Pres. Barack Obama's Feb. 24 address to Congress, La. Gov. Bubba Bobby Jindal argued that the Federal budget should forego spending $140 million for "monitoring volcanoes," intoning the very words with disdain.


For the 3.5 million of us who live on and around the congealed mud flows of the largest volcanic eruptions known to North America during the last ten millennia, a few bucks for listening equipment seems like a good idea.


So, Bobby, if we're going to rebuke politicians for bad decisions, should we take the same attitude toward say, levee repairs for the 400,000 who live in a city that lies BELOW SEA LEVEL? We haven't; you shouldn't.


This is not the time to set Americans against one another for the crumbs of a shrinking pie. Let us not abandon all pretensions of generosity and shared purpose and simply have at it.


UPDATE: After searching for a calculator to confirm the arithmetic: The per capita cost of the said scandalous volcano monitoring, $0.47 (yep, 47 cents) per citizen. Not bad for the preservation of Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, Everett, Hilo, Anchorage and 100 other population centers.


Keywords: Short-sighted, selfish, Republican, moron! (Our apologies to morons everywhere.)

Rees Clark, Publisher




October 2008


AG files suit against WA Republicans for alleged campaign violations
- General News
OLYMPIA–October 3, 2008-The Attorney General’s Office today filed a lawsuit against the Washington State Republican Party for alleged violations of the state’s campaign finance disclosure law.

The suit stems from a complaint filed with the Public Disclosure Commission alleging that the WSRP had misused funds from its exempt account for three mailings in support of its gubernatorial candidate, Dino Rossi.

At its regular meeting on Thursday, Sept. 25, the PDC referred the case to the Attorney General’s Office.

The Attorney General’s Office accepted the case, reviewed the materials and confirmed there was sufficient evidence to file. The complaint was filed in King County Superior Court today.

The office agreed with the PDC’s assessment that the WSRP had used exempt funds (funds that are exempt from contribution limits) for mailings in violation of the permitted uses under the campaign finance disclosure law. The court assigned the case to Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell and a trial date is scheduled for March 29, 2010.

The WSRP must respond and file an answer to the complaint within the next 20 days.

The Attorney General’s Office is seeking civil penalties and costs of investigation and trial, including reasonable attorney’s fees, injunctive relief and any other relief the court deems appropriate.

September 2008


A little help RE Nov. 4...
- Commentary
Let me see if I have this straight.....

If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're "exotic, different."

Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, and yours is a quintessential American story.

If your name is Barack you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.

Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you're a maverick.

Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.

Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you're well grounded.

If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate's Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs committees, you don't have any real leadership experience.

If your total resume is: local sports reporter, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive.

If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you're not a real Christian.

If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you're a Christian.

If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.

If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant , you're very responsible.

If your wife is a Harvard graduate laywer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's.

If you're husband is nicknamed "First Dude", with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn't register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

OK, much clearer now.


(From the mailbag. -Ed.)

August 2008


Family Involvement in Education in WA
- Education
Governor Chris Gregoire has proclaimed October 2008 as "Family Involvement in Education Month" in the state of Washington. The proclamation recognizes that:
  • parents and family members are their child's first and most influential teacher;
  • family involvement in a child's learning is critical to success in school and life;
  • the role of families in supporting the success of Washington students from pre-school through college cannot be overstated;
  • family involvement, which requires a vision, policy and framework, is a legitimate element of the education system;
  • when schools, partners, and communities work together as partners, our children benefit.
OEO has recently published - "What every parent needs to know" - a series of four handbooks to help families understand and navigate the state public education system. The series covers these topics:
  • "What every parent needs to know: How to Be an Education Advocate"
  • "What every parent needs to know: Basic Education Rights and Opportunities in Public Schools"
  • "What every parent needs to know: Discipline in Public Schools"
  • "What every parent needs to know: Protecting the Educational Rights of Students with Disabilities in Public Schools"
The handbooks are free and can be ordered by calling OEO toll-free at 1-866-297-2597 or downloaded at OEO's website: www.waparentslearn.org.

OEO has available two handouts: "25 Tips to Get Involved in Your Child's Education" and "25 Tips for Schools to Involve Parents." For handouts, call toll-free, or download at OEO's website.

OEO is also offering 100 scholarships for parents to attend the "Partnering for Student Success" conference in Yakima on October 2-3.

OEO is an agency within the Governor's Office that provides information regarding elementary and secondary public education, promotes family and community involvement in schools, helps resolve problems between families and educators, makes recommendations to public officials, and offers trainings for parents and educators. It was created to assist Washington's educators and families in their efforts to develop partnerships focused on student achievement and resolve conflict that affects children's academic success.

For more information follow the link below, or contact Patti Carey, Communications Manager, 206-729-3227, or Adie Simmons, Director, 206-729-3232.

More Information


June 2008


Global Torch Relay in Seattle June 24th
- General News
Seattle - A relay run across the length and breadth of America, to promote world harmony will reach Seattle, W.A. on Tuesday, June 24th. Runners in the 50-state USA World Harmony Run are carrying a flaming torch to symbolize their goal of fostering international harmony and friendship through sports. The relay is intended to inspire people to work for a more harmonious world.

In Seattle the international team of runners will be engaged in several events on Tuesday, June 24. At 10:00 a.m. the Ballard Boys and Girls Club and the Ballard Community Center will welcome the runners at the Ballard Commons, near the Ballard Library. At 11:45 a.m. Greenlake’s Soccer Camp will welcome the runners to their activities near Greenlake’s Evans Pool. At 2:00 p.m. the international Harmony Run team will offer awards to local citizens who work for a harmony in the Seattle community. Five “Torch-Bearer” awards will be conferred at a public reception to be held at Silence-Heart-Nest Restaurant in Fremont (3508 Fremont Pl. N.) In the final event of the day at 7:00 p.m. the Torch-Bearer award will be presented to Pat Wright and the Total Experience Gospel Choir in a public ceremony at Kenyon Hall, 7904 35th Ave SW in West Seattle. (Please call the number below to confirm times.)

The 10,000 mile USA World Harmony Run is part of a 100-nation global relay which emphasizes a global theme of international harmony and multi-cultural understanding. The run has become an annual event with a run through all 50 States bi-annually and events in selected locations in alternate years. The World Harmony Run is a non-profit organization with headquarters in New York City. In cities and towns along the route, local volunteer WHR Coordinators work in partnership with community organizations, schools, city and state government. This partnership brings the run to the community with events that encourage international friendship and understanding. In each participating country the World Harmony Run teams consist of volunteer runners from all walks of life.

The World Harmony Run has been endorsed by many of the nation’s Mayors, Governors and Members of the Congress, by world-class athletes like Carl Lewis and Grete Waitz, by leaders of numerous countries, by the late Pope John Paul II, the late Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu as well as many others.

Everyone is encouraged to participate. Find out how by calling (888) 882-4081 or visiting www.worldharmonyrun.org/usa. Follow the World Harmony Run’s journey across America in “Live from the Road” on the website.

More information


May 2008


State settles with software marketer
- Consumer Affairs
SEATTLE – A 21-year-old Scottsdale, Ariz., man accused of coercing consumers to buy software that actually turned their computers into spamming machines agreed to a settlement that substantially restricts how he markets software in the future, the Washington Attorney General’s Office announced today.

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection High-Tech Unit sued Messenger Solutions, LLC, and owner Ron Cooke, in March. The suit, filed in King County Superior Court, accused Cooke of violating Washington’s Computer Spyware Act and Consumer Protection Act while marketing programs under the names Messenger Blocker, WinAntiVirus Pro 2007, System Doctor and WinAntiSpyware.

Under the settlement filed today, Cooke cannot use Net Send messages or simulated security alerts to market products, transmit software to another person’s computer without a user’s knowledge or make other misrepresentations in the advertising or sale of products.

He will pay $5,000 in attorneys' costs and fees and $202 in restitution, which will be used to provide refunds to nine Washington consumers who purchased the software. The settlement also includes a $100,000 civil penalty, waived provided Cooke complies with the settlement.

“Ron Cooke now has a $100,000 fine hanging over his head as a reminder to him and other online marketers that the Attorney General’s Office won’t tolerate Internet anarchy,” said Assistant Attorney General Katherine Tassi. “There are plenty of opportunities for young entrepreneurs to profit online without deceiving consumers.”

The Attorney General’s Office launched its investigation in October 2007 after a computer in the High-Tech Unit’s lab received ads via Windows Messenger Service. The lab uses “honey pots” to detect hackers, spyware purveyors and other Internet mischief.

The state’s complaint alleged Cooke uses Windows Messenger Service to bombard consumers with a continuous stream of pop-ups advertising porn and sexual-enhancement products. Windows Messenger Service, not to be confused with the instant-messaging program Windows Live Messenger, is primarily designed for use on a network and allows administrators to send notices to users.

He then sent those same consumers another bout of pop-ups intended to simulate system warnings, which directed users to a Web site to buy software to supposedly block pop-ups.

Consumers who downloaded the software were further victimized when the program caused their computers to stealthily blast messages to other PCs at a rate of one every two seconds.

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection High-Tech Unit has brought a total of six lawsuits under Washington’s Computer Spyware Statute, RCW 19.270, since the law was approved by the Legislature in 2005.

March 2008


U.S. Supreme Court reinstates Washington’s Top-Two Primary
- Civic Affairs
SEATTLE-- Calling the decision an extraordinary victory for voters, Secretary of State Sam Reed and Attorney General Rob McKenna today applauded the U.S. Supreme Court for upholding Washington’s wide open Top-Two Primary.

The 7-2 decision handed down today follows years of court battles over the primary and the rights of voters to choose any candidate on the ballot. In a Top-Two Primary, voters do not have to declare any party affiliation, and can vote for any candidate, regardless of the candidate’s political party preference. In today’s decision, the Court rejected the political parties’ claims that this type of primary is unconstitutional.

“We took the people’s case to the nation’s highest court and the people won,” said Reed. “This is a victory for the voters of Washington because our democracy belongs to them.”

In the decision, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that overturning the Top-Two would be an “extraordinary and precipitous nullification of the will of the people."

Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna argued the case on behalf of Reed and the State, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision that struck down the Top-Two system. The case was McKenna’s second before the U.S. Supreme Court- and his second victory.

“Washington voters have a long tradition of independent voting,” McKenna said. “They told us they wanted the freedom to vote for the candidate of their choice regardless of party, and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with them.”

The State has been enjoined from using the Top-Two Primary since shortly after it was enacted. In 2004, the Top-Two Primary passed overwhelmingly as Initiative 872. Since then, Washington has conducted a pick-a-party primary, which requires voters to affiliate with one of the major political parties and limit their selections to that party’s slate of candidates.

In Washington et al v. Washington State Republican Party et al. and Washington State Grange v. Washington State Republican Party et al., the Court considered whether the Top-Two Primary is in fact a nominating process exclusively for members of political parities, or a winnowing process open to the public at large.

The Court concluded that the Top-Two Primary is not a nominating process and is not intended to pick each party’s nominee for the General Election. Rather, the purpose of a Top-Two Primary is to winnow the number of candidates to two, allowing voters to select the two most popular candidates to advance to the General Election. The two candidates with the greatest support advance to the General Election, regardless of party preference and regardless of whether they are a party’s nominee or preferred candidate.

Among other things, the case focused on the ownership of the party designations “Republican” and “Democrat.” Justices considered whether the candidates have the right to decide which political party they prefer, or if that decision should be left to party leaders. In essence, the court concluded political parties cannot prohibit candidates from expressing their own political leanings.

Washington will begin running a Top-Two Primary in the 2008 August Primary. The Top-Two Primary is overwhelmingly supported by the public and familiar to citizens who vote in nonpartisan elections in odd-numbered years.

February 2008


Caremark to pay $41 MM in consumer claims
- Consumer Affairs
SEATTLE – Attorney General Rob McKenna announced February 14 that Washington will receive nearly $1.7 million as part of a $41 million settlement between 29 states and Caremark Rx, LLC, one of the nation’s largest pharmacy benefits management companies.

As part of the settlement filed today in King County Superior Court, Caremark denied any wrongdoing but agreed to significantly change its business practices.

“Washington is gratified to have played a key role in reforming aspects of how Caremark does business,” McKenna said. “We have forced Caremark to make more transparent its communications with clients, doctors and patients. I want to thank Assistant Attorney General Bob Lipson for his leadership on the executive committee that negotiated this important settlement.”

The states’ complaint, also filed today in court, claims Caremark Rx, LLC, and two of its subsidiaries, Caremark, LLC and CaremarkPCS, LLC (formerly AdvancePCS), of engaging in deceptive business practices that violate state consumer protection laws.

The states allege that Caremark encouraged doctors to switch patients’ prescriptions and represented that patients or their health insurance plans would save money. But doctors were not adequately informed of the effect this switch would actually have on costs. Moreover, Caremark did not clearly disclose to health plans that money the company earned as a result of the drug-switching process would be retained by Caremark.

The complaint further alleges that Caremark restocked and re-shipped previously dispensed drugs that had been returned to its mail-order pharmacies as undeliverable.

“Pharmacy benefit managers play an important role in administering the drug benefit of almost every health care plan in America, and Caremark is one of the largest,” Lipson said. “The agreement describes the sort of ethical business standards that government, health insurance providers and the public expect.”

The settlement generally prohibits Caremark from soliciting drug switches when:

· The net cost of the proposed drug exceeds that of the originally prescribed drug;

· The cost to the patient will be greater,

· The originally prescribed drug has a generic equivalent and the proposed drug doesn’t,

· The originally prescribed drug’s patent is expected to expire within six months, or

· The patient was switched from a similar drug within the last two years.


The agreement requires Caremark to:

· Inform patients and prescribers what effect a drug switch will have on a patient’s co-payment,

· Inform prescribers of Caremark’s financial incentives for certain drug switches,

· Inform prescribers of material differences in side effects or efficacy between prescribed drugs and proposed drugs,

· Reimburse patients for out-of-pocket expenses for health care costs related to drug switches and notify patients and prescribers that reimbursement is available,

· Obtain express, verifiable authorization from the prescriber for all drug switches,

· Inform patients that they may decline a drug switch and the conditions for receiving the originally prescribed drug,

· Monitor the effects of drug switches on the health of patients,

· Adopt a certain code of ethics and professional standards,

· Refrain from making any claims of savings for a drug switch to patients or prescribers unless Caremark can substantiate the claims,

· Refrain from restocking and re-shipping returned drugs unless permitted by applicable law, and

· Inform prescribers that visits by Caremark’s clinical consultants and promotional materials sent to prescribers are funded by pharmaceutical manufacturers, if that is the case.

The company will pay a total of $41 million, to be distributed as follows:

· $22 million in a cy pres payment that states will use to benefit low-income, disabled or elderly consumers of prescription medications, to promote lower drug costs for state resident, to educate consumers concerning the cost differences among medications or for similar purposes. Washington will receive $680,000 of this amount.

· $16.5 million for state attorney costs, fees and consumer education, including $1 million for Washington.

· $2.5 million in reimbursement to patients who incurred expenses related to certain switches between cholesterol-controlling drugs, including up to $200,000 for Washington residents. Caremark will notify eligible consumers of their right to request a refund.

In addition to Washington, the following states participated in the settlement: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and Virginia.

Background

Pharmacy benefits management companies, or PBMs, enter into contracts with employers, health insurance providers and government health plans to process claims for prescription medicines provided to patients enrolled in the health plan. They also negotiate with drug companies to obtain volume discounts, negotiate with retail pharmacies to provide dispensing services at a discount and dispense drugs to patients through mail-order pharmacies. In the 30 years since the first PBMs appeared, their services have evolved to include complex rebate programs, pharmacy networks and drug use reviews.

Resources: Caremark Complaint; Caremark Consent Decree

Priorities Skewed; Time for Careful Review, Change
- Commentary
Lest there be any doubt that our national priorities are way out of whack, note the headlines* in today's New York Times RSS feed, shown in the adjacent screen capture.

Lest we become a permanent celebration of shallow values, we must send the so-called "conservative" thinking of the past thirty years to the ash heap of history.

(Click graphic to show full size.)

* The Headlines
Exxon Posts Record U.S. Profit
Net Loss of 17,000 Jobs in January Is First Since 2003
Microsoft Bids $44.6 Billion for Yahoo

December 2007


Attorney General explains new credit freeze rules
- Civic Affairs
SEATTLE – Following on the heels of Washington and other states that have approved credit freeze laws, the nation’s three leading credit bureaus recently announced they will provide all Americans with the opportunity to freeze unwanted access to their credit history. But before you rush to sign up, the Attorney General’s Office says there are some things you should know.

Each bureau has different procedures to request a freeze and some older adults may want to wait until September 2008. That’s when a new state law takes effect that allows anyone age 65 or older to freeze access to their credit files for free. Unless you’re an identity theft victim, you’ll pay $10 to each of the bureaus to freeze your credit now; that’s $30 total.

To help clear up the confusion, the Attorney General’s Office has updated its Web site with new information and a chart that compares new and old laws and explains application procedures. The information is available at www.atg.wa.gov/freeze.aspx. Consumers who don’t have Internet access can also call the office’s Consumer Resource Center hotline for information at 1-800-551-4636.

Attorney General Rob McKenna crusaded for legislation to allow Washington residents to freeze access to their credit reports before they become identity theft victims. He said a security freeze is the strongest tool available to prevent identity thieves from opening new credit lines in a victim's name.

“While identity thieves often hijack existing accounts, they can do far more damage by opening new credit,” McKenna said. “Lenders can't approve a credit application if they can't see your credit report.”

If you want to freeze your files, you’ll need to write to all three bureaus and provide certain documents to prove who you are. Your files will stay frozen until you tell the bureaus to lift the freeze.

When you freeze your file, each credit bureau will give you a PIN to lift the freeze should you need to. You’ll need to thaw or permanently remove the freeze if you’re applying for credit, buying a house, taking out a car loan, etc. If you want to provide a lender with access to your files, at least one bureau will charge a fee – even if you are an identity theft victim.


Washington new freeze law, which goes into effect in September 2008, will allow consumers to receive a temporary lift within 15 minutes through an electronic contact method chosen by the credit bureau, or within three business days of receiving a request by mail. Under current law, it can take up to three days to process a thaw request.

Gregoire Warns of Scam and Spam in Storm Wake
- Consumer Affairs
At her press conference Thursday morning Governor Christine Gregoire reminded citizens that if they donate to current relief activities in the wake of this week's floods in southwest Washington State, they should donate only to charities they select and not to persons who approach them for donations.

Relief funds have been established at several banks in the state. The Red Cross and other agencies also have means of directing relief donations to the specific task.

The Seattle Press suggests that email solicitations for funds ostensibly for flood relief be ignored in favor of direct donations to one of the bank or Red Cross funds.

November 2007


Third or 47th? Legislature Can Choose
- Commentary
According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "University of Washington President Mark Emmert is among the highest-paid presidents of public universities. Emmert makes $752,700 a year, ranking him third at public universities, according to a survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education. On Thursday, UW regents will set Emmert's new salary and probably give him a raise." Add to the salary numerous perquisites and privileges, and the compensation package is much, much more.

The little factoid about adminstrative salaries at universities would be astounding, except that we live in an era of obscenely high executive salaries. They are often justified by a claim that the organization "must" pay a high rate to get the best management talent.

One has to wonder what terrible things would happen to the nation's most productive public research university if Mr. Emmert made, say, a paltry $652,700, or perhaps $651,699. Would medical research plummet? Would the marine physics lab fade into obscurity? One assumes, of course, that the presidents of the other state universities and colleges are as we write angling for matching funds, so that they, too, can recruit "the very best" management team.

In several recent reports Washington has been portrayed as standing in the bottom tenth of states in spending on education, on outcomes, etc., etc. "Washington 47th in educational..." has become part of our perception of the state's unwillingness to invest in its own future.

While we are in "What if" mode, what if our university presidents were paid the 47th highest salary and our educational standing were third in the nation? What if we had the 47th best management team and the very best schools?

Seattle P-I


October 2007


Ono's Light Tower: Light pollution a mistake in any country
- Commentary
Yoko Ono's "unveiling" of a light sculpture honoring John Lennon is IMHO light pollution, unnecessary, and a new standard for heights of vanity. The searchlight memorial will reportedly be visible from October to December each year through a wide area of the North Atlantic from its source in Iceland.

Most Europeans and most Americans east of the Mississippi have never seen the night sky. Given the 500 million light bulbs the and the permanent cloud of dust and smog over the continent, children grow up thinking there are about one percent as many stars and other celestial bodies as actually exist. Thanks to Ono, this doubtful privilege will now extend to the good people of Iceland, as the night sky will now never darken through the darkest season of the year.

People may remember John Lennon for a long time; if it's for his poetry or music. However, one can fearlessly predict that other people with more money than sense will do something similar to Ono's opus and that the one-tenth of the stars will quickly diminish to one one-hundredth and in another generation or so to none. Luckily? by then we'll no doubt have orbiting space billboards perpetually selling vaginal deodorants and NASCAR tickets, illuminated 24 hours by these "memorials."

Keywords: dumb, vain, superfluous... submit yours below.

News Source


Civil Rights and Liberties: Cell phones to the rescue!
- Commentary
Is there a role for open-source developers in protecting civil liberties? AP and other news sources are reporting the role of cell phones in spreading news of army atrocities in Myanmar (AKA Burma) last week.* Citizens and tourists reported violence to one another and to external listeners for days when the army was able to partially block Internet access. Several conversations on line and in person convince us this may open a channel for expansion of personal freedom in less-developed countries.

In the US and other developed countries shutting down the telephone network or the 'net would be a political and financial disaster for a government, though one imagines the idea has crossed more than one totalitarian mind. In LDCs, however, where the role of private and military channels assumes a larger role than here, cutting off popular communications may not have the same implications. So, what can they do?

One option might be the reprogramming of cell phones to take over the functions of the Internet. Many phones use the popular open-source Linux operating system and are sufficiently powerful and programmable to add web-serving and routing functions. Working as a router or server, a phone could become a node on the network, using its transmission power in lieu of wired servers. Because these new phone-based nodes would be entirely mobile and independent, they could function as a parallel Internet, entirely outside the control of ISPs and governments, without being easily located. Technically the process would be much like Voice Over IP telephony like Skype, in which peer-to-peer servers move the messages along instead of passing them through (government controllable). Ain't mobility grand?

The network functions would add demand to batteries, but this could be overcome with stockpiling and charging centers as well as by individuals; everyone would carry a spare. The alternate programming could reside on a removable memory chip that would plug into the same slot where one normally stores photos, etc. All this would be very, very hard to stop. The communications genie is out of the bottle.

Could terrorists do the same thing? Probably not. There are never very many of them, and they could never be densely enough concentrated to pass messages around an entire country.

External (international) communications could be achieved by having nodes within sympathetic embassies or ships in port, which often have satellite uplinks. This would all work very slowly compared to high-speed Internet service, but slow is better than dead.

We're not the techies to do this, but we'd bet they're out there. Civil rights, anyone?


* BANGKOK, Thailand (AP, reported by Mick Elmore on Sept 28) — As soldiers in Myanmar intensified their crackdown on pro-democracy protesters Friday, authorities also went after the Internet and mobile phones that have proven so vital and powerful in documenting the dramatic confrontations...The Internet has played a crucial role in the flow of information out of the reclusive Southeast Asian nation where few foreign journalists are permitted to operate and media freedom is severely restricted.

August 2007


Barry B*nds Passes Aaron
- Sports
We note that Barry B*nds of San Francisc* has hit his 756th home run. There is a continuing controversy over whether his record is tainted by use of steroids. Some have suggested that the record be marked forever with an asterisk. This would unfortunately be hard to implement. Our solution is simply to incorporate the asterisk into his name. This will save ink if nothing else. Of course, because his team has failed to step up to the plate (seemed like the appropriate metaphor) and chastise him for cheating, we will henceforth apply the same style to the name of the San Francisc* Giants.

July 2007


Food Servers fight gratuity grab
- Consumer Affairs
Think your "service surcharge" goes to the wait staff? In his weekly Shift Break podcast, Tom Herriman reports: In fighting a company grab of banquet service charges, Seattle food and beverage servers win new law forcing companies to disclose who gets the money.

Shift Break


Garfield student wins video production award
- General News
Zach Bornstein, a Garfield high school student, won the 2007 For the Love of the Game Scholarship for producing a sports video highlight reel staring the Bulldogs boys basketball team and will be awarded $2000 from A to Z Sports Inc. by A to Z CEO Chris McCoy. Total awards amounted to $6000 and will all be awarded to other students and one dedicated parent within the Seattle area.

Full Story


June 2007


Scottish in Shoreline
- Arts
Shoreline, WA -? The Northwest Junior Pipe Band placed first in a field of 7 pipe bands competing with a mix of traditional and modern pipe band tune compositions at the Tacoma Highland Games June 23rd.

Northwest Junior Pipe Band is nearly 40 talented youth aged 7 to 18 learning dedication, focus, respect, perseverance, and commitment. NWJPB has announced their intention to compete at the World Pipe Band Championships in Scotland, 2008 and compete several times throughout the summer at area Highland Games events. Highland Games competitions are a cultural and music experience unlike any other.

Next up for the Grade 4 youth band is in Coquitlam, BC at the BC Highland Games June 30th. Pipe Bands are graded based on ability and success in their grade level. There are 5 competition grades with Grade 1 being the top in the world; a field which includes only 3 pipe bands in the United States, and at least 6 in Canada including the BC-based Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, four time World Champions.

Northwest Junior Pipe Band competes against Grade 4 and 5 youth pipe bands based in Canada, including Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Band Grade 4 (part of the Simon Fraser University pipe band teaching program), White Spot (sponsored by the successful White Spot Restaurant chain in Canada), and Fraser Valley Youth Pipe Band, as well as ?adult? pipe bands such as the Keith Highlander Grade 4 pipe band, Bellingham Pipe Band, Tacoma Scots, Clan Gordon and many others. The Northwest region of the US and BC is highly regarded in the piping world as holding a lot of talent, and some of the best instruction available.

The next competitions in the Northwest are the BC Highland Games June 30, Skagit Valley Highland Games July 14/15, Portland Highland Games July 21 and Pacific Northwest Highland Games in Enumclaw July 27-29th.

Youth in Northwest Junior Pipe Band practice often individually, as well as meeting twice a week for band practice, and most have private instruction or group instruction as well. NWJPB teaches perseverance, dedication, teamwork, respect and NWJPB instructors are among the top in the region with a proven success record in the Northwest.

Band Site


Powerit Gets Venture Funding
- Business & Labor
Seattle-based Powerit Solutions has announced that it has secured major funding through a venture capital firm to expand and develop its operations.

The Seattle-based company does so-called demand management products, specifically for industrial facilities like factories. The technology, which is a combination of hardware and software, is designed to automatically dial down energy usage at facilities to save money on peak-demand charges.

For example, the system could turn off a fan or a pump for few minutes to reduce power consumption. The software lets site operators set rules so that turning off or dialing down equipment won't impact production of, say, a factory, or damage equipment, said Bob Zak, president of Powerit.

Combined, these measures can have a big impact, particularly on peak demand charges--the fee levied by utilities on commercial customers for their high-capacity power consumption, Zak said. The company's system is able to reduce peak demand charges between 10 and 40 percent which can be between 7 and 15 percent of the overall electricity bill, he said.

Read the full story by Martin Lamonica


May 2007


Tabletop Computing with Food - YUCK!
- Commentary
I'm wrestling with the idea that restaurants and bars might install tabletop computers with menus, Ms. Pacman and more. I have to wonder whether some of the other 500 people who handled my table this morning had flown in from Europe with the guy carrying the drug-resistant TB, sat down at my table and then sneezed.

So now I drag my fingers across the screen to order, press imaginary buttons on the tactile interface and then eat my french fries and other fun finger food.

My mom made me wash my hands before eating. Even if those 500 also had conscientious mothers, that one sneeze undid all their hard work. Not to mention the wet cloths that wipe the table, the curious little fingers that will roam across the screen each minute after touching who knows what, and other surface contacts I hesitate to describe on this family medium. I suspect my late father-in-law, a public health officer, would be aghast.

My response is at best Yuck, and at worst Run for the Hills! I hope public health officials pick up on this before we hear, "Good evening, my name is Sars; I'll be your server."

All from the company whose principal owner prides himself on his contributions to public health. Where do you want to go eat today?

Next time: The Global Warming implications of a billion tabletops glowing uselessly between meals.

A more optimistic view of 'Milan' Tabletop system


April 2007


Whose Bloodbath in Iraq?
- Commentary
The Washington Post reports...

"Iraq Pullout Would Lead To Bloodbath, Bush Warns
(but) Democratic Leader Reid Says War Is Already Lost
By Peter Baker and Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, April 20, 2007; Page A03

"TIPP CITY, Ohio, April 19 -- President Bush warned Thursday that pulling out of Iraq too soon would trigger a bloodbath akin to that of the Cambodian killing fields of the 1970s...

"On a day that reverberated with echoes of the Vietnam War era, Bush and Reid (D-Nev.) engaged in a long-distance debate over the lessons of history and the fate of the latest overseas war as part of a struggle over $100 billion in funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan...

"'I want to remind you that after Vietnam, after we left, millions of people lost their life,' Bush said here (exercising the presidential prerogative to mismatch noun and verb - Ed.) when an audience member asked about comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq. 'The Khmer Rouge, for example, in Cambodia.' (Here he exercises the presidential prerogative to speak in incomplate sentences.) And my concern is there would be a parallel. . . . The same thing would happen. There would be the slaughter of a lot of innocent life. The difference, of course, is that this time around, the enemy wouldn't just be content to stay in the Middle East; they'd follow us here.'"

End quote. The article continues, see link below.

Well, maybe, but for the life of me I cannot recall any significant Viet Cong or Khmer Rouge assaults outside their borders back in the 70s.

As to the inevitable bloodbath (presumably somehow different from the current bloodbath), it is not too early to try to get perspective on the possible ways the world will view a continuing Iraqi civil war. That involves foreseeing whose civil war it will be.

Had Saddam Hussein and the Baathists remained dominant, a power struggle among religious and ethic factions would in all likelihood have followed the death of Saddam; he was almost 70 when he was executed last year. That struggle would have been seen by the world as part of the continuing tragedy of the Middle East.

Enter Pres. Bush and the neo-cons. Based on their faith in the rightness of their cause, instead of just allowing Iraqi politics to take their course while containing the external ambitions of the Baathists, we deposed Saddam. Surprise! What followed was a power struggle among religious and ethic factions that followed the death of Saddam. Looks like the same outcome from here.

So we're left with the question of who will bear the consequences. Our intervention, coupled with the frankly silly perception that the US is somehow trying to (and would be able to) take over the world after the fashion of the old European powers, will alter history for much of the world by making the US the cause of the civil war. Instead of a sigh of resignation at the inability of the Iraqis to achieve a modern society, the outcome will be animosity toward the US that will be at best long abating.

Colin Powell reportedly told Pres. Bush at the beginning, "you break it, you bought it." Of course the truth is that he broke it, but WE bought it.

Washington Post article


Board Chooses Goodloe-Johnson for Superintendent
- Education
At a special meeting on Thursday, April 12, the Seattle School Board voted 6-0 to offer the position of Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools to Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson. During a news conference following the board meeting, Director Chow announced that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson has accepted the position, subject to final contract details being agreed.

“We are delighted to attract such a high-caliber superintendent to Seattle,” said Board President Cheryl Chow. “Dr. Goodloe-Johnson’s strengths and leadership skills became crystal clear as we saw her in action here in Seattle. Our appreciation for her skills as an educator, a leader, and as a person was only deepened during our visit to Charleston.”

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson’s deep passion for the well-being and academic achievement of all children is apparent in all her actions. “Maria is a teacher’s teacher whose own educational experience will complement the extraordinary strengths of the teachers and staff in our district,” said Chow. “Her style is to hit the ground running to support the partnership that matters most, the one between teachers, students, and families.”

School Board Director Michael DeBell, who is chair of the board’s finance committee, also commented on Dr. Goodloe-Johnson’s strong leadership in the financial arena. “When
Dr. Goodloe-Johnson stepped into the superintendent role in Charleston County, she inherited a budget deficit,” said DeBell. “Not only did Maria turn that situation around, but she also led her team to examine all expenditures, and to redirect the district’s resources to align with academic priorities. This mirrors the work that we have started here in Seattle, and I am confident that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson will sustain and enhance those efforts.”

A search for a top-notch Superintendent is a highly competitive process, and the School Board had to strike a delicate balance. On the one hand, the board needed to compete with the nation’s leading districts, which vie for top candidates. On the other hand, our community is known for its commitment to extensive public process. The School Board needed to move quickly while ensuring a thorough process that included visits to Seattle by the finalists as well as visits by our board to the candidate’s home districts. “At the end of the day, we had a highly qualified pool of applicants from which to choose and we knew we needed to act quickly to secure our top choice,” said School Board President Cheryl Chow.

March 2007


Too-cool!
- Education
The Flash movie linked below takes the viewer from the infinite to the infinitessimal in an excursion from the margins of the universe to the limits of our knowledge of elementary particles. Worth the trip!

Produced by Nikon Corp. (apparently before the demotion of Pluto to mere asteroid), this is what a corporation at its best can do, supporting growth of our understanding of our world. One suspects that the effort didn't dent Nikon's bottom line while being, well, too cool.

View the Program


Safety Tips for Parents with Kids on LIne
- General News
The WA attorney general has tips for protecting children from online abuse. Although they are mostly common sense ideas, every parent should know them.

We add: Make the computer a family-centered activity. Know what your kids are accessing, and discuss the issues openly. A well grounded child is inherently safe; an ignorant kid is an easy target.

FA

Read More


Prevent ID Theft at 'Shredathon'
- Consumer Affairs
Citizens can bring documents for free shredding to locations around Washington during the April 28 "Shredathon" sponsored by businesses and governments. Prevention of identity theft is the goal of the program.

For more information, locations and schedules follow the link below.

More info


February 2007


'Vista' Doesn't (Un)Do Windows
- Business & Labor
Three out of four product reviews of Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system mention Mac Os X either by comparison or in passing. Apparently Vista isn't interesting enough to carry a whole review, according to a survey. Reminds one of TV series that have a "guest star" in every episode.

Read the article


Voters approve bond, levy proposals in Feb. 6 special election
- Education
On Feb. 6, the citizens of Seattle approved two funding measures – Proposition 1, a six-year, $490 million capital bond and Proposition 2, a three-year, $397 million educational programs levy. Both received the more than 60 percent “supermajority” of yes votes required for approval.

“We are grateful to our voters for this solid demonstration of support and affirmation of our mission,” said Superintendent Raj Manhas. “We are particularly grateful for the continued investment in our children, who will reap the huge benefits for years to come.”

“I want to give special thanks to Schools First, Alliance for Education, Seattle Council PTSA Association, Seattle Education Association and all the countless number of associations, community groups, staff, and volunteers who helped tirelessly during the campaign,” he said.

As of Feb. 16, Proposition 1 was passing with 71,809 yes votes and a 68.54 percent approval rate. The bond replaces an expiring capital levy and provides funds for the design, construction and renovation of school facilities, infrastructure and technology improvements throughout the District. The measure includes a program to renovate or replace four high schools, two middle schools, and one K-8 school.

As of Feb. 16, Proposition 2 was also passing with 76,003 yes votes and a 72.23 percent approval rate. The levy replaces the expiring 2004 levy and represents 24 percent of the district’s annual general fund budget. It supports basic educational services not fully funded by the state, such as instructional programs, technology support, student activities, staff salaries, bilingual and special-education services, continuation of full-day kindergarten, student transportation, and security and maintenance for school buildings and grounds.

King County Elections reported that of the 339,984 registered voters in the District’s area, 105,790 had cast their ballots as of Feb. 16. To validate the bond proposition, a total of 90,873 residents must have turned out to vote.

King County Elections will certify final results on Feb. 24. For the latest election results, visit the King County Elections Web site. For more information on the bond and levy propositions, visit the Seattle Public Schools Web site.

AG Offers Tips on Tax Prep, Identity Security
- Consumer Affairs
WA Atty. Gen. Rob McKenna has provided a set of tips to citizens on how to make effective use of tax preparation services while protecting against identity theft. Additional information is provided on using so-called instant refunds.

Article


If you want to let Qwest set unregulated prices, do not read this
- Consumer Affairs
Qwest, the large telephone company serving Seattle and many other parts of Washington, has proposed that it be allowed to change (read raise) rates without prior submission to the state's Utilities and Transportation Commission. At first glance this would appear to be an insane idea, but perhaps you are from another planet and think it could be good for consumers.

Washington has a long history of weird telephone tarifs, largely set in place for political reasons that no longer have any logical relationship to population or business. Our favorite example is the persistence of the boundaries of the numerous small telephone companies that have long since been absorbed by mergers, mostly into the "Big Two," Qwest and Verizon (the descendants of ATT/PacBell and GTE. In many cases, these old companies boundaries continue as "long distance" charges assessed despite the removal of all the technical barriers that once separated the providers.

It is all politics, friends. Read the comments below by Simon Ffitch and make an effort to attend the various hearings.




Original article:

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Attorney General’s Public Counsel Section filed testimony today with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) questioning key parts of a proposal by Qwest that would allow the company to increase residential telephone service prices without review by the WUTC. Customers can share their thoughts about the proposal during a hearing March 6 in Tacoma.

Qwest petitioned the commission on Oct. 20, 2006 for an alternate form of regulation. The proposal would reduce or eliminate many consumer protections currently in place, including the regulation of basic telephone rates, and service quality performance reports. Qwest claims that the changes would allow the company to be more competitive.

Qwest subscribers now pay $12.50 per month for basic phone service. Under the company’s proposal, Qwest would be allowed to increase that rate by $2 over four years (50 cents annually) so that customers would ultimately pay $14.50. The increases would occur without further WUTC approval or a review of company earnings to determine if the increase is warranted.

“You wouldn’t expect a company facing real competition to need to raise rates to meet that competition,” said Public Counsel Section Chief Simon ffitch. “Customers expect to see lower prices as a benefit of competition, not rate increases; it’s basic economics. While Qwest is seeing increased competition from cable and wireless companies, the company continues to be the dominant company in the local telephone service market because it possesses by far the largest market share,” ffitch said.

He said a study by Public Counsel also found that wireless service is an add-on service for most customers, rather than a replacement for local phone service. Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) service requires customers to have broadband Internet service, making it unavailable to some consumers and an expensive alternative to land lines for basic phone service.

Public Counsel recommended that if the WUTC adopts an alternative regulatory plan for Qwest, it should keep basic residential rates at current levels, and establish a service quality incentive plan to make sure that service does not deteriorate. In addition, Public Counsel recommended that individual services continue to be available separately as well as in bundles or packages, and that Qwest should make broadband DSL available to more of its customers. An alternative regulatory plan should be in place for up to four years and then reviewed prior to being allowed to continue.

The WUTC is expected to rule on the case by July.

How to voice your opinion:

· The UTC will hold a public comment hearing in Tacoma on Tuesday, March 6, at Tacoma Community College, 6501 South 19th St., Tacoma, in the Senate Room in Building 11. The hearing will be held 6:30-8:30 p.m.

· Customers may also submit comments in writing to WUTC, P.O. Box 47250, Olympia, WA, 98504; by e-mail at comments@wutc.wa.gov, or by fax at (360) 664-4291. Include your name and mailing address, the name of the company (Qwest), and docket no. UT-061625.

· Consumer tip: The most helpful comments are brief, specific to the issue and include your opinion and supporting facts.

For more information, customers may contact either the WUTC or Public Counsel:

· WUTC – (800) 562-6150, e-mail at comments@wutc.wa.gov. Information is available online at www.wutc.wa.gov. Enter 061625 in the docket lookup field.

· Attorney General’s Office Public Counsel Section -- Public Counsel, Attorney General’s Office, 900 Fourth Avenue, Suite 2000, Seattle, WA 98164-1012, or e-mail utility@atg.wa.gov

The Public Counsel Section advocates for the interests of consumers on major rate cases, mergers and other rulemakings before the UTC. Public Counsel also advocates for consumers in court appeals, through technical study groups and before the Legislature and other policy makers. The office maintains contact with the public through a citizen advisory committee, community organizations, public hearings and personal contact with consumers in major cases. More information about Public Counsel’s work is available online at http://www.atg.wa.gov/utility/index.shtml.

Anti-choking ordinance aims to deter domestic attacks
- Civic Affairs
Attorney General Rob McKenna announced today that legislation to address assault by strangulation, one of the most serious domestic violence crimes, has been introduced by a bipartisan coalition in both the Senate and House of Representatives. The full story is in Civic Affairs.

Full Story


$90MM for WA in Semiconductor Lawsuit
- Consumer Affairs
SEATTLE - Attorney General Rob McKenna today announced a $90 million nationwide settlement with Samsung Semiconductor, Inc. and Samsung Electronics Company Ltd. (“Samsung”), resolving allegations that Samsung and others major computer chip manufacturers fixed prices of Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM).

The settlement, which is subject to court approval, provides restitution on behalf of consumers and certain governmental agencies who paid more for computers, servers and other electronic devices because of alleged price-fixing. Samsung has also agreed to strong injunctive relief that will require the company to refrain from conduct that could substantially lessen competition and to cooperate with the states in continuing litigation against other companies. Samsung admits no violation in the settlement. A decision regarding how the settlement money will be distributed will not be made until the pending case against other DRAM manufacturers is resolved.

"As a result of this conspiracy, many consumers and government agencies across the country for years paid inflated prices for computers and other high-tech products containing DRAM,” Attorney General McKenna said. “This settlement will put a stop to the profiting schemes that victimize consumers, recoup some of those losses and send a strong message to the industry that such behavior is not tolerated.”

Forty-one states and private classes continue to pursue their lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, seeking damages, restitution, civil penalties and injunctive relief for consumers and governmental agencies who paid higher prices for electronics from 1998 to 2002 as a result of alleged price-fixing by at least seven more companies including Elpida, Hynix, Infineon, Micron, Mosel Vitelic, Nanya and NEC.

The states’ suit arose from a multi-state investigation that began in 2004, following a federal criminal investigation. The investigations exposed a scheme where DRAM manufacturers profited at the expense of the consumers in the computer and electronics industry. The states’ complaint lays out details of the conspiracy, including an agreement by industry leaders to trim production in order to artificially raise prices.

According to the states’ complaint, the defendants violated federal and state antitrust laws by coordinating prices they charged for DRAM. Employees of Samsung, Hynix, Infineon, Elpida have pleaded guilty to federal criminal price-fixing charges and collectively have already paid more than $730 million in fines. The states' case against the remaining defendants seeks restitution for consumers to repay at least some of the harm caused by the conspiracy

States participating in the lawsuit include Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. New York has filed a separate action.

Blinky Toys. Ooh, scary!
- Commentary
There was once a radio program called "Boston Blackie" about a fictional detective who saved people from scary criminals despite being constantly at odds with the police. Now "Boston Blinky" has scared the good, brave protectors of the people of Boston. One cannot help but be amused at the overreaction from the local and state governments. So much for the area's reputation as a technologically savvy region.

Perhaps no great surprise: Massachusetts has been well known for panicky overreaction for nearly 400 years. Just down the road, Salem has a whole tourist industry built on its witch trials.

One wonders how far the modern "leaders" will carry their cute little war on LEDs. When they let the dangerous techie-nerds go in a day or so, one hopes the mayor and others will have the grace to eat their ration of crow with the same publicity they used to denounce the "plot."

FA

January 2007


You Wouldn't Dare!
- Commentary
Ann McFeatters, writing in the Seattle P-I, says that "Vice President Dick Cheney has re-emerged from the shadows, causing a new ripple of speculation about whether his pit-bull attitude serves the president well, whether he's the one dictating Iraq policy, whether he's even thinking clearly.

"Cheney, who was in charge of vetting potential running mates for George W. Bush in 2000 and ended up taking the job himself, is an enigma to many. Whether swearing at a Democrat on the Senate floor or calling former defense chief Donald Rumsfeld the best secretary of defense in U.S. history, Cheney's conduct makes even some Republicans nervous."

There is of course the possibility that it's all a ploy to impeachment-proof Pres. George W. Bush. Your choice: Boy George or Delusional Dick.

FA

McFeatters Article


WA Consumer Protection Week in February
- Education
The Washington State Attorney General’s Office has teamed up with nonprofit organizations and government agencies to sponsor several events in conjunction with National Consumer Protection Week (Feb. 4-10).

Story


School sets make-up days after snowfall
- General News
Seattle Public Schools (SPS) will make up four of the five school days missed due to inclement weather by scheduling Feb. 2, March 16, June 21, and June 22 as student days. The make-up days on the modified calendar are now scheduled for:

Friday, Feb. 2 (originally a day between semesters)
Friday, March 16 (originally a professional development day for staff)
Thursday, June 21 and Friday, June 22 (these two days were originally summer break for students; June 21 was a professional development day for staff).

While the last day for students will be Friday, June 22, staff will work on Monday, June 25 and Tuesday, June 26 to make up the missed professional development days.

The district will apply to the state to waive the requirement for a fifth day. This schedule, proposed by the Seattle Education Association (SEA), aligns with feedback from parents and guardians.

Eminent domain notification bill okayed by committee
- General News
OLYMPIA… Sen. Mike Carrell’s eminent domain bill was the subject of a public hearing Wednesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senate Bill 5444 would require state agencies, local governments and utilities to send certified letters to a property owner and publish a notice in the newspaper before seizing private land.

“One of my constituents, Ken Miller, found out that his property was being seized after notice was posted on a government Web site. That is not sufficient means to notify someone that the government is planning on taking their land,” said Carrell, R-Lakewood, who represents the 28th Legislative District. “No one should suffer the pain of losing their property because they neglected to check one of hundreds of government Web sites.”

Carrell’s bill was requested by the state Attorney General’s Office and the governor. It is in response to a state Supreme Court decision regarding the Miller case. Sound Transit had posted its intent to seize part of Miller’s property in a meeting agenda on a Web site. Miller appealed the decision to Sound Transit’s board of directors and lost. The Supreme Court upheld the board’s actions in a 5-4 decision, saying a Web site posting is just as good as a newspaper notice.

“This is a case where Sound Transit, the executive branch and the judicial branch of our government failed Ken Miller. Now it’s up to the legislative branch to make sure they don’t fail anyone else in our state,” Carrell said.

“I’m proud to sponsor this bill on behalf of Ken Miller’s family, and all the families in the state of Washington who may not have a computer available to them, which is currently the only way they might even know some government agency has plans for their property,” Carrell said. “Hopefully, this type of disregard for the public will never happen again in our communities.”

The bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and will now go to the Senate Rules Committee.

AG Hits Procedures for Eminent Domain, But...
- Civic Affairs
We received the following notice two hours before the event:
January 24, 2007 - McKenna-Gregoire Eminent Domain Notice bill up for hearing today at 3:30 p.m. 92 legislators sign on to bills in House and Senate

OLYMPIA – The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear a bill providing landowners increased opportunity to protect their homes from condemnation today. The hearing will be live on TVW at 3:30 p.m.

The bill, requested by Attorney General Rob McKenna and Governor Chris Gregoire, and sponsored by Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood and 36 other senators from both parties, is the first of two companion bills on eminent domain notice to be heard in the Legislature this year.

A total of 92 legislators from both chambers signed on in support of the bills, which require government bodies to notify homeowners when they are deciding on whether or not to condemn the homeowner’s property.

“It’s not asking too much to require that a $4.64 certified letter be sent to property owners who may have their property taken without their consent,” McKenna said. “Condemnations are critical decisions that can affect people’s homes and businesses, and this bill will ensure that property owners receive timely notice that such an important decision is being considered.”

“Washington families and business owners should be notified in a timely matter if their property may be condemned," Gregoire said. "We must act with compassion and respect when dealing with a situation like this that is personal and sensitive for families."

The joint-request bills require that a certified letter be sent to property owners and that a legal notice be published in a local newspaper of record, each describing when the agency’s governing body will be holding an open public meeting to consider the condemnation decision.

The bill is a response to the case of Sound Transit v. Miller from February of this year, where the state Supreme Court upheld Sound Transit’s argument that information on a web page was adequate to notify Mr. Miller that a decision to condemn his property was being considered by the Sound Transit Board.

“The Miller family lives in my district, but this bill isn't just for them,” Carrell said. “This bill is for all of those families who are living their lives and expecting the government will notify them before attempting to seize their property. A lot of people, especially older people, don’t even own a computer, will not use a computer or simply don’t have the time. How are they ever going to know if it was their property? For all of us, particularly for the seniors of this state, we just can't let this stand."

SB 5444 will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 24, in Senate Hearing Rm 1, J.A. Cherberg Building in Olympia.

Rob McKenna
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF WASHINGTON
1125 Washington Street SE · PO Box 40100 · Olympia WA 98504-0100

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 24, 2007

McKenna-Gregoire Eminent Domain Notice bill up for hearing today at 3:30 p.m.
92 legislators sign on to bills in House and Senate

OLYMPIA – The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear a bill providing landowners increased opportunity to protect their homes from condemnation today. The hearing will be live on TVW at 3:30 p.m.

The bill, requested by Attorney General Rob McKenna and Governor Chris Gregoire, and sponsored by Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood and 36 other senators from both parties, is the first of two companion bills on eminent domain notice to be heard in the Legislature this year.

A total of 92 legislators from both chambers signed on in support of the bills, which require government bodies to notify homeowners when they are deciding on whether or not to condemn the homeowner’s property.

“It’s not asking too much to require that a $4.64 certified letter be sent to property owners who may have their property taken without their consent,” McKenna said. “Condemnations are critical decisions that can affect people’s homes and businesses, and this bill will ensure that property owners receive timely notice that such an important decision is being considered.”

“Washington families and business owners should be notified in a timely matter if their property may be condemned," Gregoire said. "We must act with compassion and respect when dealing with a situation like this that is personal and sensitive for families."

The joint-request bills require that a certified letter be sent to property owners and that a legal notice be published in a local newspaper of record, each describing when the agency’s governing body will be holding an open public meeting to consider the condemnation decision.

The bill is a response to the case of Sound Transit v. Miller from February of this year, where the state Supreme Court upheld Sound Transit’s argument that information on a web page was adequate to notify Mr. Miller that a decision to condemn his property was being considered by the Sound Transit Board.

“The Miller family lives in my district, but this bill isn't just for them,” Carrell said. “This bill is for all of those families who are living their lives and expecting the government will notify them before attempting to seize their property. A lot of people, especially older people, don’t even own a computer, will not use a computer or simply don’t have the time. How are they ever going to know if it was their property? For all of us, particularly for the seniors of this state, we just can't let this stand."

On the off chance you cannot get there by 3:30, here's the address of the AG:
Rob McKenna
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF WASHINGTON
1125 Washington Street SE · PO Box 40100 · Olympia WA 98504-0100
(360) 586-0725

Sponsor Mike Carrell can be found here:
http://www1.leg.wa.gov/senate/carrell/

Message Boards Renewed
- Housekeeping
Dear Readers: This would be a good time to renew your acquaintance with the SPOL Forums. Registration is now required to post or reply, in order to limit the increasing volume of spam posts. We've cleaned up the message boards, removing a vast amount of garbage, including links to places you'd no doubt rather that members of your family not go. We deleted a large number of expired users, anachronistic posts with their comments, and advertisements not related to Greater Seattle. We used various database queries to achieve this cleanup, and a few legitimate users and/or posts may have been lost. If this includes you or yours, please re-register and enjoy the leaner, greener Forums.

Bond, levy on Feb. 6 ballot
- Education
King County Elections has scheduled two Seattle School District ballot measures for the Feb. 6, 2007, special election – Proposition 1, a $490 million Capital Program Bond, and Proposition 2, a $397 million Educational Programs and Operations Levy.

The Capital Program Bond replaces an expiring capital levy and provides funds for the design, construction, and renovation of school facilities, infrastructure and technology improvements throughout the district. The measure includes a program to renovate or replace four high schools, two middle schools, and one K-8 school.

The Educational Programs and Operations Levy, which replaces the expiring 2004 levy, represents 24 percent of the district’s annual general fund budget and supports basic educational services not fully funded by the state. The levy will help pay for instructional programs, technology support, student activities, staff salaries, bilingual and special-education services, continuation of full-day kindergarten, student transportation, and security and maintenance for school buildings and grounds.

For more information on the bond and levy propositions, visit the Seattle Public Schools Web site.

More Info...


School board seeks public input on sup't. search
- Civic Affairs
The Seattle School Board will hold a series of meetings on Jan. 16, 17, and 18 to gather public input on the superintendent search process. Specifically, community members will be asked to discuss the characteristics and qualities they want in Seattle Public Schools’ next superintendent. These meetings will provide the board, and the consulting firm assisting in the search, with information they will use in recruiting candidates for the next leader for Seattle Public Schools.

A series of eight open community meetings are planned Jan. 16-18. In addition, the consultants will meet with representatives of community associations and organizations; school employees; school leaders; and the district’s senior leadership team. The meeting scheduled only for employees is at 4:15 p.m., Jan. 16 at the Mercer Middle School lunchroom. Employees may also attend any general meeting. For the news release and complete meeting schedule, visit the district Web site.

District Site


November 2006


Settlement in AG Suit against 'Net Schemes
- Business & Labor
Attorney General Rob McKenna today announced a settlement with two New York-based companies accused of violating Washington state's consumer protection and computer spyware laws. The settlement resolves allegations that High Falls Media, Roc Telecommunications and their associates promoted a software program called Spyware Slayer through deceptive means, and that the defendants failed to disclose costs of a music download service until after consumers provided personal information.

The agreement provides restitution to Washington residents who purchased the products and request refunds. The Attorney General’s Office estimates than more than a hundred consumers may be eligible for reimbursement; some have already received refunds.

Full Article


Calendar Bug Repaired
- Housekeeping
A reader reported a bug in the Add Event form in our Calendar. The error has been repaired. Readers are welcome to submit family-friendly events directly to the Calendar.

ZUNE roundly panned in press
- Business & Labor
The new 'Zune' mp3 player from Microsoft is not opening to accolades. Outside the community of true believers the buzz is more a faint whisper.

Writing in Forbes under the headline "Zune Stinks," David Ewalt says "(Zune is) set to hit stores on Tuesday, and some gadget geeks are getting excited. But it appears they will be sorely disappointed."

He quotes respected technology write Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal who said "To buy even a single 99-cent song from the Zune store, you have to purchase blocks of "points" from Microsoft, in increments of at least $5. You can't just click and have the 99 cents deducted from a credit card, as you can with iTunes. You must first add points to your account, then buy songs with these points. So, even if you are buying only one song, you have to allow Microsoft, one of the world's richest companies, to hold on to at least $4.01 of your money until you buy another. And the point system is deceptive. Songs are priced at 79 points, which some people might think means 79 cents. But 79 points actually cost 99 cents."

Sounds as though the same people who wrote the Windows control panels built the Zune. Looks pretty though; kinda like an iPod.

Forbes Article


Cosgrove Prize to Promote Financial Ethics Research
- Education
A major new international prize to promote awareness among young people in banking and related industries of the need for respect for ethics has been launched in Geneva.

The Robin Cosgrove Prize will award $20,000 each year in prize money for creative papers setting out projects or proposals for innovative ways to promote ethics in finance and banking.

The prize will be open to young people throughout the world aged 35 or under. Entries from emerging markets are especially welcome.

More information...


Seattle History in New Exhibit
- General News
The Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) opens a major new exhibit, Essential Seattle, on November 13. Spanning 150 years, the exhibit covers the earliest European contact in 1792 through the high tech boom of the 1990s, the museum announced November 1.

"We are so pleased to bring the Essential Seattle exhibit to the community," said Executive Director Leonard Garfield. "It provides an opportunity to get to know the people, the events and the stories that truly make up the DNA of Seattle. As we come to understand our past, we are much better equipped to make wise decisions about our future."

Moving chronologically, a visitor will explore Seattle's early settlements, the vibrant economy and the sometimes painful stories associated with immigrant populations. The show will also examine how aviation and shipbuilding, two of Seattle's key industries, played an important part in the shaping of the city.

Essential Seattle journeys through other facets of the remarkable transformation such as the 1962 World's Fair, the Boeing downturn, the success of local companies such as Microsoft and Starbucks, and the roller coaster of the dot.com boom and bust.

Using evocative images and artifacts, compelling films and thought-provoking oral histories, 'Essential Seattle' tells a story that should be of interest to all its inhabitants.

MOHAI is the region's premiere heritage museum, with the largest collection of items related to Seattle history: 100,000 artifacts; 200,000 documents and two million historic photographs. MOHAI offers lectures and workshops to the public and runs an education program for students and teachers. Located in the Montlake neighborhood of Seattle at 2700 24th Avenue E., Seattle, WA 98112, MOHAI is open 7 days a week from 10 am to 5 pm. First Thursdays free and open until 8 pm. The MOHAI site is www.seattlehistory.org for complete exhibit and program calendar.

October 2006


Citizens invited to assist, participate on school district committe
- General News
The Seattle School Board has established an Advisory Committee on Alternative Education, and is seeking nominations for membership of this committee. Nominations are due by November 3. The committee will include students, parents/guardians, staff members, community members and professional experts in alternative education.

Individuals interested in membership on this committee are asked to complete and submit a nomination form by November 3. The form, together with additional information about the charge of the group, is available at www.seattleschools.org. Information is also available from the School Board Office, (206) 252-0040. An email group of interested individuals will also be formed. To be added to the email group, indicate "email group only" on the nomination form. Individuals may be added to the email group at any time.

Seattle Public Schools has a rich history, dating back to the late 1960’s, of providing alternative education programs. Alternative schools vary in program content, but are typically characterized by experiential learning, extensive parent involvement, and shared decision-making.

Elaine Packard, former principal of NOVA school, chairs the Advisory Committee on Alternative Education. Ms. Packard has a national reputation for her expertise in developing and managing alternative education programs. The committee will monitor and advise on policies and procedures as they affect alternative schools; help design, conduct and disseminate research on alternative school practices; conduct in-service on alternative education for District staff and the School Board; review and assist with the publication of literature and data regarding alternative education; and educate the public about alternative education.

The group will provide a written report to the Superintendent on February 16, 2007 and June 30, 2007. They will also provide monthly reports to the Chief Academic Officer.

Seattle School District


Standard Biodiesel Turns Waste Cooking Oil into Fuel
- Business & Labor
If you want fuel with those fries, Standard Biodiesel recycles waste vegetable oil from restaurants to be processed into biodiesel and biodiesel-petroleum blends to be used in engines, generators, and furnaces. Restaurants can sign up for pickup, which normally begins a few days after registration and is then scheduled regularly depending on the restaurant's volume.

Biodiesel is a safe, clean-burning fuel derived from various vegetable oils, including waste cooking oil. It offers numerous benefits to users, including longer engine or furnace life, as it provides superior lubrication and has little or no particulate content. Biodiesel is widely used around the world but is just now gaining popularity in the USA.

Read more about it...


'Lush' Reveals Alcoholism Impact on Teens
- Arts
It's hard to be a 13-yr-old girl. But it's even harder when your father's a drunk. It adds an extra layer to everything -- your family's reactions to things, the people you're willing to bring home, the way you see yourself and the world. For Samantha, it's something that's been going on for so long that she's almost used to it. Only, you never get used to it. Especially when it starts to get worse...

Lush - A bold, honest Scholastic Press debut from Natasha Friend.

Scholastic United States • Scholastic Press •
Pub.Date: 11/2006 • 192 Pages

Tavis Smiley Addresses Teens at Franklin HS
- Education
Tavis Smiley, author and award-winning PBS talk-show host, spoke to about 50 Franklin High School students this week as part of his 10-city tour to enlighten, encourage and empower students to become strong leaders.

The visit by the 2006 Talented Tenth Tour, organized by the Tavis Smiley Foundation, was held on October 11 at Franklin High. The tour was created to identify and train non-traditional leaders in underserved and underrepresented communities. Its goal is to help students develop the skills needed to become powerful leaders in their school, community and the world.

The students were chosen based on several criteria, including demonstrated leadership potential and a passion for an issue or cause.

As partners of the tour, representatives from the ExxonMobil Foundation were there to encourage careers in science, technology, engineering and math -– areas vastly underrepresented by African-American students. The ExxonMobil Foundation awarded Franklin a $500 grant to enhance work in those areas.

Seattle District Adds School Histories to Web Site
- Education
From a district press release...

New Web site link features history of each school building

Seattle Public Schools has added a new feature on its Web site in which visitors can read about the history of each school building. The information is taken from the book, Building for Learning – Seattle Public Schools Histories, 1862-2000, by Nile Thompson and Carolyn Marr.

(Ed.: As part of its continuing modernization effort, the content take a "leap into the future" by using the 1990s technique of individual PDF files. Go figure.)

Visit the Histories


Former SP Publisher in Radio Foray
- People
Former Seattle Press publisher Tom Herriman has recently launched Shift Break, a new radio discussion series at KBCS 91.3 FM. Each five minute segment is a commentary or an interview with a newsmaker on subjects ranging from labor issues to international politics.

Herriman published the old Seattle Press from offices in Fremont from 1998 to 2002. The paper concentrated on local news in north Seattle.

This web site maintains the SP online archive as a community service and is not affiliated with the former management.

For more information on the radio series, visit KBCS or Herriman's Shift Break site.

Math Curriculum Subject of Oct. 16 Discussion at Roosevelt HS
- Education
Dr. Ruth Parker, a National Science Foundation supported researcher and CEO of Mathematics Education Collaborative, will lead a discussion October 16 at Roosevelt High School on critical changes needed in the teaching and learning of mathematics. Dr. Parker specializes in engaging community leadership in support for high quality mathematics in public schools. Her expertise in mathematics will help to both raise the bar and bring consistency and alignment to Seattle Public Schools’ K-12 math curricula.

Some of the topics she will discuss:
• Why numerical reasoning is so important
• How to recognize quality mathematics programs
• How to better prepare children for algebra
• How to help your child reason with numbers
• What mathematics skills are essential to the workplace of today and tomorrow

Parker is offering a second, invitation-only session on October 17 with key local and state decision-makers in which they can respond to the ideas presented the previous evening. "Real progress will only be made when parents, teachers, administrators, community leaders, and business leaders come together in support of quality mathematics in our schools," says Parker.

"We are extremely fortunate to have a national educator such as Dr. Parker help us in this important and critical work," said Superintendent Raj Manhas. "Seattle’s students have made great progress in reading and we can do the same in math with a strong curriculum adoption, implementing best teaching practices in our classrooms, and the public’s support and involvement."

He also acknowledged the tremendous support from both community and business organizations in making this important event a reality.

"I’m very pleased that Ruth Parker is helping to mobilize the Seattle community behind improving mathematics education," said Dr. Virginia M. Warfield of the University of Washington Department of Mathematics "A past presentation I saw of Ruth Parker’s remains in my mind one of the clearest demonstrations of not only what is meant by teaching mathematics for understanding but how and why doing so benefits our children."

Robin Pasquarella, president and CEO of Alliance for Education, commented that the issue of improving math and science education is the greatest challenge facing our public schools, not only in Seattle but across the state and nation. "High quality math and science education is the gateway to success in today’s global economy," said Pasquarella. "Our students deserve nothing less."

September 2006


NetSmartz Program to Teach Cybersafety to WA Kids
- General News
Attorney General Rob McKenna wants parents to know that cyberspace is not a safe place for kids and teens to explore without Internet safety awareness. McKenna spoke about the importance of Internet safety education as a tool to protect youth from online predators, pornography, and cyberbullies during a training seminar Friday for educators and law enforcement. Nearly 400 educators and law enforcement officers attended workshops Thursday and Friday in Spokane and Burien to learn how to teach Internet safety to students, parents and other teachers and enforcement officers.

Read more about it...


School Disctrict Considers More Site Consolidations
- Civic Affairs
Seattle School District has announced preliminary recommendation on school consolidation and closure - phase II. Slated for closure are the Pinehurst, Pathfinder and Genesee sites. The announcement was made September 18, 2006. This announcement begins a period of review and community input prior to the School Board vote on November 1. You can comment in the Forums.

District Announcement


New NASA Discovery Adds Mystery to Solar System
- Commentary
NASA has recently released a graphic of recent changes in the definition of the Sun's planets. The diagram may spark a lively debate over an apparent new source of energy in the solar system. (Click image for larger view.)

Discerning readers will note, as did reader G. Clark of Snohomish County, that the Sun is no longer the primary source of light in the solar system. Examination of the accompanying reduced scale view of the NASA diagram will note that the Sun barely illuminates the various planets and newly designated dwarf planets which are also illuminated by a previously unkown light source originating either outside the orbit of the most remote planetoids or perhaps elsewhere in the Milky Way Galaxy or even beyond.

Apparently oblique to the plane of the ecliptic, the new light source radiates with a force clearly many times the power of the Sun, reducing sunlight to a dim glow barely visible on the sunward side of each planet.

This discovery will no doubt be used by NASA and other planetary scientists as a unarguable rationale for additional research funding. We look forward to the results of their investigations. We also look forward to spending our later years in a world run by generations who had this diagram on the walls of their schoolrooms.

We welcome readers' analyses of this exciting development, which is clearly of galactic proportion.

August 2006


Castro ill, someone tell the CIA!
- General News
According to the Associated Press, the US administration was caught off guard by the recent illness and surgery of Cuban president Fidel Castro. (You remember him, he's the personification of the evils of Communism holding Cuba in a yoke of tyranny.)

Someone should call the CIA. (You remember them, they're the guys who warned us about 9/11, the USS Cole, and many other scary events.)

More from CNN


July 2006


School District Almost Decides, Maybe
- Civic Affairs
After numeous postponements, the Seattle School District announced the forthcoming closure of seven schools for Fall 2007. This time it's final. MAYBE.

Here is the list from the district site. The -> symbol represents consolidation. (Italicized parenthetical comments reflect comments from readers. As always, the Forums are open for comments.)

To be closed: Viewlands, John Marshall, M.L. King, Hughes, Fairmount park, Orca, Rainier View.

Full list of closings and reallocations (luckily, the District has used the same clarify of written expression they are teaching your children):

NORTHWEST
Viewlands Elementary -> Greenwood Elementary
John Marshall -> unspecified

NORTHEAST/CENTRAL
M.L. King Elementary -> T.T. Minor

SOUTHWEST
Hughes (temporarily house So. Lake Alternative)
Fairmount Park -> High Point
Orca (Columbia Bldg.)
Rainier View Elementary


Notes:

(1*) The inability to identify two additional schools in the Northeast/Central quadrant results from demographics and a desire to adhere to the School Board's principles and criteria in identifying schools to close.

(Read: We don't know what is going to happen and we'd rather not make a professional decision and assume responsibility for the consequences. Furthermore, we're afraid of doing anything that might offend anyone about a school named Martin Luther King.)


The district will work on adjustments to assignment plans, and with communities, and expects another closure conversation during Fall 2006 to finish the process in this quadrant. Specifically,

(1) The CAC identified excess capacity in the central area of the equivalent of one school, but recommended the District discuss with the community and develop the best option for closure of one of four schools between Bailey Gatzert, Leschi, Thurgood Marshall, and T.T. Minor.

(2) The Superintendent did not accept the recommendation of the CAC to close Sacajawea Elementary School. The demographics in Northeast combined with an assignment plan that does not permit non-voluntary assignments to alternative schools result in an inability to find reference area schools for Sacajawea students at this time. (There is excess capacity in this area of the city, but the majority of that excess capacity is at Summit K-12 alternative school).

(*2) The preliminary recommendation relocated the Pathfinder program from the Genesee Hill building to the Boren Building and closing the Genesee Hill building. While Boren has positive attributes for the 6-8 portion of Pathfinder, it is not well suited for the K-5 portion. Additionally, staff determined that a higher use of the Boren site is for continued use as an interim site for future south Seattle capital projects.

(Read: We got too much heat on our original choices and feared our contracts would not be renewed.)


The district will work on adjustments to assignment plans, and with communities, and expects another closure conversation during Fall 2006 to finish the process in this quadrant. Specifically,

(1) There is excess capacity in the Southwest quadrant to close two schools (Hughes serves as an interim site).

(2) The Genesee Hill building is in poor condition and the district believes the Pathfinder program can be relocated into another site.

(Read: Despite our enormous salaries and several postponements, we couldn't get the job done on our own published schedule.)

PS: We don't know why the notes are not sequential either. It may have something to do with the unannotated asterisks in the text. Or it may be that those are not asterisks but stars, as in "we hope the answer will be revealed in the stars."

June 2006


School Closure Announcements Postponed
- General News
Superintendent Raj Manhas will release his final recommendation on school consolidation and closure on Wednesday, July 5. He was initially scheduled to present his final recommendation on Monday, July 3.

==========
UPDATE JULY 1: Surprise! They didn't make their own deadline, friends. Would you believer July 5? They do.
==========

The two-day delay in release of the recommendation allows time for additional consideration of public testimony and for the superintendent and staff to examine the feasibility of community-generated ideas. It also recognizes the July 4th holiday closure of school district offices.

The Communications office has prepared an updated flyer for distribution; will post the change on the district website; and e-mail key communicators, staff and press contacts regarding the change.

School District Sets July 26 Vote on Closures
- General News
On Friday, June 2, Superintendent Raj Manhas announced his preliminary recommendation for school consolidation and closure for Seattle Public Schools. Review of and community input on the proposal will continue over the next eight weeks, and is scheduled to end with the final School Board vote on July 26. About a dozen schools will reportedly be shuttered. Superintendent Manhas stated the importance of moving forward with school consolidation and closure. “For far too many years, this district has invested scarce funds in maintaining excess building capacity, rather than directing those funds to learning activities,” said Manhas. “Consolidating and closing schools will certainly save money. However, the most important benefit of this process is to focus resources so that we achieve academic excellence – quality instruction for every student in every classroom in every school.”

District Announcement


Gates Fdn. Scholarship Program Reaches Milestone
- General News
FAIRFAX, Va. -- Four Seattle students were among the one thousand academically talented, low income students of color who have demonstrated leadership skills and who will be able to continue their education and pursue their dreams with the help of a college scholarship from the Gates Millennium Scholars Program (GMS). These students are from 45 states, the District of Columbia and 3 outlying areas. The GMS scholarship allows students to attend the college or university of their choice free from the burden of financial concerns that can be a barrier to higher education. Since the program began in 1999, over 10,000 scholarships have been awarded by the program.

“The Gates Millennium Scholars program is more than just scholarships," said Dr. Michael Lomax, president of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), which administers the GMS program in partnership with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the American Indian Graduate Center Scholars, and the Organization of Chinese Americans. "By eliminating the financial barriers that stand between promising students and the college education they need, this program is educating and nurturing our next generation of leaders."

Read more about it...


May 2006


Lock, stock and cool stuff on the block
- General News
The Seattle P-I reports that Eddie Bauer Holdings Inc., the outdoor apparel retailer with 375 stores, is for sale.

Shares of Eddie Bauer Holdings climbed $1.45 to $14.20 Thursday in over-the-counter trading.

More at the P-I


Mexico's Fox Addresses Seattle Audience
- Civic Affairs
Mexican President Vicente Fox stated "The 21st century is the century of migration" while speaking to the private Rainier Club in downtown Seattle. "Managing migration can be done, and can be done with a purpose and can be done to the betterment of the people involved in it," he asserted.

More at Forbes


I, Columnist
- Commentary
We will soon launch a new experimental feature that we hope will attract you into more active participation in the site. You can join this site and report news and add comments. At upper right,
1. find the Join link; click it
2. fill in the form and send it.

You can then comment on posts to the Community Log. To create your own posts, you must request an upgrade to Advanced User status (just write to the editor).

Please exercise good judgment about what you post, and kindly mark commentary as such, to distinguish your observations from your opinion. We ask that you maintain a civil tone and remember the family-friendly intent of our site (we have the tools to ban you, but we'd rather not).

Posts will soon be subject to a dual rating scheme that will affect their position within the system.
1. The readers of posts will be tallied.
2. A mini-poll will let readers rate the post.

Popular and well rated posts may be included in the front page update at the editor's option.

Write well about interesting topics and be visible. Write worthless drivel about useless topics and fade into obscurity. 'Sup to you.

More about this later. As mentioned, this is an experiment. Your ideas are welcome.

April 2006


Seattle Says Water for Suburbs OK for at least 50 Years
- Civic Affairs
Seattle's water department projects that it will have enough water to serve Seattle and its suburban customers through 2060 without needing any new reservoirs or water sources according to a report in the Seattle P-I.

Because the Cedar River and Tolt River drainages are able to provide an estimated 171 million gallons per day, the utility's drinking water manager said the most likely scenario is that there will be adequate water for Seattle and its suburban customers through 2060 and beyond.

Read more in the Seattle PI


Spring Forward!
- General News
Remember to set your clock an hour forward today. Daylight saving time has been extended starting this year. Luckily you'll enjoy giving that extra time to the boss.

Our New Look
- Commentary
We've moved our site to a new publishing platform that retains our traditional news, directory and forum features, along with the Seattle Press archive. We're introducing a regional news digest using the Editor's Desk. We'll be introducing several new features this spring, including a a popular photo gallery that will feature in part user-submitted pictures. We'll also be adding personal and professional web logs to let junior journalists, prospective poets and aspiring authors show their stuff (alliteration optional).

March 2006


UW's Hodge Set for Miami U Presidency
- General News
David Hodge, dean of the UW College of Arts and Sciences, is the sole finalist for the presidency of Miami University of Oxford, Ohio. Hodge has been a dean at UW since 1998 and has served as a geography professor for 31 years.

Hodge is also much admired in these presents for providing the occasional "crash pad" to the publisher of Seattle Press On Line when both were Ph.D. candidates at Penn State in the late Middle Ages. We wish Dave only the best.

Read more about it...


Binding Arbitration in News Dispute
- General News
Looks like there could be peace if not a full, immediate resolution of Seattle's long-running dispute between the PI and the Times. According to the Seattle Times...

"Seattle's two daily newspaper companies announced a surprise agreement Thursday morning to settle their long-running legal dispute through binding arbitration. But by late afternoon, it became clear it wasn't a done deal, as a third party said it would seek to participate in the process.

"The high-stakes agreement between The Seattle Times Co. and The Hearst Corp., owner of the Post-Intelligencer, needs the approval of King County Superior Court Judge Greg Canova, who has jurisdiction over the lawsuit Hearst filed nearly three years ago."

Read the full story


February 2006


Dickaquidick
- General News
We coined a new word in the SPOL today. We think we're first with "Dickaquidick" so we're claiming the copyright as of 4:45 when we put up a notice on the front page.

Upland Game Birds Beware!
- General News
Apparently the VP did not get the proper stamp for "upland game birds" in Texas. No doubt a protest against the vile stamp tax.