Posted by news intern Ansel Herz
The Broken Bridge: There was no posted height limit on the I-5 Skagit River bridge and the bridge had a history of "high load hits" by trucks. The Mayor of Burlington had reportedly lobbied for years to upgrade the bridge. Here's how to get around the freeway closure.
How Central American Migrants Cross the Border: They huddle near water pipes, catch rides on freight trains, and fight off drug cartels, according to a reporter who embedded with them.
Holder Approved Going After FOX Reporter: Why, though? As The Daily Show points out, the guy reported that North Korea would respond to sanctions with more nuclear tests. Which is kind of like reporting, "Jon Stewart is Jewish!"
Mom Says Police Needlessly Killer Her Son: Police in Fife say that after a long standoff with a belligerent suspect, they shot and killed him when he dangled his son over a balcony. The man's mother tells a very different story. She says the police rescued her grandson, and then, "Not even two seconds later they ran down the driveway, in the gate, ramrodded the door and then I heard two shots."
Look, More Riots in Europe: Take note, Goldy. About 30 cars were set ablaze in a fifth night of violent protests by poor and largely immigrant youth in Stockholm, "despite Sweden's reputation for equality."
Africa Still Rising: The African Union is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a summit, and Ethiopia's Prime Minister says the organization's Pan-Africanist aspirations remain relevant to this day. Brazil will cancel $900 million in debt in order to boost ties. Thomas Sankara and other African revolutionaries would be proud, one hopes.
Two Full-Time Rangers at Seattle Parks: Interim SPD Chief Jim Pugel says uniformed but unarmed rangers will patrol Cal Anderson and Occidental Parks, working closely with police, linking homeless people with services and settling small disputes that arise.
Intermittent Sun and Rain Showers This Memorial Day Weekend: That's according to Cliff Mass, anyway. Enjoy it!
I-5 Bridge Over the Skagit River Collapses: Despite the shocking pictures, there are no fatalities in last night's dramatic collapse of a bridge between Burlington and Mount Vernon. It happened at 7 p.m., and traffic will be messed up for a while. As to the cause of the collapse, Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste says, "For reasons unknown at this point in time, [a] semi struck the overhead of the bridge causing the collapse." That driver is cooperating with authorities. Here's an interview with a survivor (that picture is amazing), and Paul's collection of news updates as they happened last night.
One Quick Note, Now that the PNW Is the Top National News Story:
Dear national media, Skagit sounds like badge-it. Not bag-it. From @levipulk— seattlepi (@seattlepi) May 24, 2013
Obama's Big Speech Yesterday: Outlined his second-term counterterrorism strategies, including shifting away from the use of the C.I.A.s Counterterrorism Center, continuing drone strikes, and promising (again) to close Guantanamo.
Department of Energy to Clean Up Leaking Hanford Tank: They've promised to offer a plan by June 14 as to how they'll pump out the "highly radioactive waste."
Taliban Launches Coordinated Attack On UN Compound: Explosions and gunfire erupt in central Kabul; casualties are still unknown.
Melinda Gates: Comes in third on Forbes' list of most powerful women in the world, behind German chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff.
SWAT Team Fatally Shoots Fife Father Holding Son Hostage: "Police said the man was using his son as a shield inside the house and at one point dangled his son out a second-floor window," reports KOMO. Police shot and killed the man early this morning; his son is safe and with family members.
California State Senator Introduces State Reporter Shield Act: Ted Lieu, a Democrat from Torrance, proposed the bill in response to federal seizures of AP reporters' phone records, saying, "A free press is necessary for a free people. Actions that chill freedom of the press hurt the foundational core of our democracy."
UW Gets Its Largest Freshman Applicant Pool Ever: More than 30,000 students applied to be part of UW's freshmen class this year, up 16 percent from last year. Down from 65 percent last year, about 61 percent of Washington students were accepted to the university.
The Worst Movies for Sale at Cannes Film Festival: The Guardian collects a gallery of the "Palm d'Awful," including Sharknado and Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman.
This has been all over the news, but I thought Slog might care as well—yesterday, in advance of Obama's speech on national security today, the administration admitted it has killed US citizens with drones, some on purpose and some accidentally. From the Guardian:
Earlier, the White House marked this new effort to draw a line under the controversial drone-strike policy by admitting for the first time that four American citizens were among those killed by its covert attacks in Yemen and Pakistan since 2009.
In a letter to congressional leaders sent on Wednesday, attorney general Eric Holder Holder claimed one of the US citizens killed, Anwar al-Awlaki, was chief of external operations for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqap) and had been involved in plots to blow up aircraft over US soil.
However, Holder said three others killed by drones – Samir Khan, Abdul Rahman Anwar al-Awlaki and Jude Kenan – were not "specifically targeted". The second of these victims, Anwar al-Awlaki's son, is said by campaigners to have been 16 when he died in Yemen in 2011.
The US government carrying out assassinations of its own citizens is obviously a major problem—especially if they're accidentally killing other American citizens in the process.
But Obama did his artful pivot move by releasing this information into the public sphere just before announcing in the speech that he was going to bring the drone program out of the "legal shadows" of the CIA and transfer it to the Pentagon, giving Congress—and, ostensibly, the rest of us—more oversight.
(That move should go down in the history books as "the Obama": Announce something bad just before you announce that you're going to take strong action against that bad thing, making you the good guy in the situation, even if the bad thing happened under your watch.)
And how many non-American citizens have been assassinated—or accidentally killed—by our covert drone program?
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that between 240 and 347 people have been killed in total by confirmed US drone strikes in Yemen since 2002, with a further 2,541 to 3,533 killed by CIA drones in Pakistan.
That, I would venture to guess, has not been winning hearts and minds. But in general, Obama's speech (transcript here) promised to take the US off the "perpetual war-time footing" it has been on since 9/11, and recognized that our national security apparatus may undermining, and not simply defending, the democracy we claim to love:
All these issues remind us that the choices we make about war can impact – in sometimes unintended ways – the openness and freedom on which our way of life depends. And that is why I intend to engage Congress about the existing Authorization to Use Military Force, or AUMF, to determine how we can continue to fight terrorists without keeping America on a perpetual war-time footing.
Soldier in London Dead in Apparent Terrorist Attack by Machete: It happened in broad daylight in the middle of London yesterday afternoon.
Some of Our New State Insurance Plans May Not Cover Abortion: Cienna reports on the troubling news via Planned Parenthood; the insurance commissioner disagrees with PP's numbers, in a complicated fashion. Either way: Just fucking pass the Reproductive Parity Act already.
The Boy Scouts Still Voting on Gay Rights: Today, a big vote on whether to lift the ban on gay Scouts. Gay leaders would still be banned, which is weird and dumb.
Cal Anderson Park: Getting a ranger, says the city.
Shot in the Mouth! And you're to bla-aame, you give love a bad name... A West Seattle man, out walking his dog, was unexpectedly shot in the mouth yesterday, possibly by a BB gun.
Your Facebook Password Is Safe for Now: At least from your employer, after Governor Inslee signs a bill barring employers from requesting social media passwords in interviews. Washington is the fifth state this year to pass such a law.
Two Seattle-Area Medical Pot Dispensaries Raided This Week: But by burglars this time, and the cops are investigating.
The Economics of Pot: NPR interviews a young dealer who moved from the West Coast to NYC, where the "100 percent illegal" status of weed quadrupled his income. "Chuck sells marijuana for about $60 for an eighth of an ounce; in California, it would be anywhere from $30 to $45."
Why'd People Break Windows on May Day? Our news intern Ansel Herz answers the question.
Lonely Island Debut Semicolon Song: That the only song ever written about semicolons actually uses them wrong hurts my heart; others are also copyediting the video. (Must be how every English professor in the '90s felt about the not-actually-about-irony "Ironic.") But it still makes me laugh...
IRS Official Refuses to Testify in Congress: Lois Lerner, who heads up the exempt organizations division of the IRS, says through a defense lawyer that she'll plead the Fifth and therefore asks to be excused from appearing at the House hearing, as her appearance before the committee would “have no purpose other than to embarrass or burden her."
No More Bodies or Survivors Likely, Say Oklahoma Officials: The death count holds at 24 in Monday's "storm of storms," a tornado that had the power of multiple atomic bombs.
Have You Heard of FEMA's "Waffle House Index"? It's a quick, informal measure of disaster impacts devised by FEMA head Craig Fugate, and it goes like this:
The index has three levels. If the local Waffle House is up and running, serving a full menu, a disaster is classed as green. If it is running with an emergency generator and serving only a limited menu, it is a yellow. If it is closed, badly damaged or totally destroyed, as during hurricane Katrina, it is a red.
Orlando Man with Ties to Boston Suspect Shot Dead by FBI: A 27-year-old acquaintance of Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev allegedly became violent during his interview with an FBI agent, and the agent shot and killed him.
Portland, Oregon, Embarrasses Itself: Votes no on adding fluoride to drinking water.
Who's Climbing Up Seattle's Tallest Landmarks in the Dead of Night? Nobody knows, but the pictures are amazing.
If You Heard About a Woman Shot Downtown Yesterday... It turns out the wound she thought was a gunshot was from a kitchen knife she'd been carrying in her purse that somehow managed to slice open her leg.
Good Morning! Here is a beatboxing goat:
Posted by news intern Ansel Herz
Slog tipper Nicole Ramirez says she and about 100 protesters are inside the Alaska Airlines' annual shareholder meeting, happening now at Pier 66 in downtown Seattle. Thirty flight attendants, plus at least three airport workers from Los Angeles, are outside the meeting, she says.
"After a faith leader led supporters in the meeting in a song of solidarity, an Alaska representative threatened to end the meeting if there was an additional disruption," says Ramirez, an activist with Bayan USA Pacific Northwest, which is part of a coalition of labor groups—including Working Washington, Unite Here, SEIU, Teamsters, and Puget Sound Sage—organizing the action. She sent the photo above and the following e-mail statement:
While Alaska Air boasts huge profits today, they deny their workers, (many who come from people of color and migrant communities) livable wages, benefits, paid time off, and their right to unionize. Our message as a community: We love workers and will continue to support workers at SeaTac until they receive the dignity they deserve.
The workers have formed unions but are being denied union recognition by the contract companies Alaska airlines employs (ASIG, DGS, AirServ, BAGS, Menzies.) Alaska claims that they treat their workers well, but they overlook the contract workers who clean, fuel and load their planes.
Just last month, an Alaska Airlines contractor was fined for "failing to protect workers from urine, feces, blood, and vomit," Goldy reported.
And recall that last year, activists disrupted Amazon's shareholder meeting at the Seattle Art Museum. The tech giant promptly announced it would withdraw from ALEC, a right-wing coalition, and invest $15 million in air conditioners for warehouse workers. This year, Amazon moved its shareholder meeting to the "less visible" Seattle Repertory Theatre, Puget Sound Business Journal notes.
I'm not sure it matters where your average mega-corp holds its shareholder meeting. If you're treating workers like shit, chances are your shareholder get-together is going to get crashed.
Huge Tornado Wrecks Oklahoma Town: Two dozen are killed and swaths of Oklahoma City suburb Moore are flattened by a tornado that hit two schools and a hospital. At least seven children are among the dead. From the story of a teacher at one of those elementary schools:
Evans got some of her students into a bathroom, Cordray said she told her. The walls started falling in on them, so she jumped on top of them, shielding them with her body. After the storm had passed, Evans pulled children from the destroyed building. But she still doesn't know how many of them survived.
Mayoral Polling: KING 5 released a poll of Seattle voters yesterday, and they say Mike McGinn is polling right up there (at 22 percent) with Undecided (23 percent). That's cute, KING 5, but we all know there's only one legally binding mayoral poll, and that's the SLOG SUPER POLL. McGinn clinches that one with 44 percent of the nearly 5,000 votes.
Israeli and Syrian Troops: Shooting at each other at the ceasefire line in the Golan Heights this morning.
Pedestrian Struck by Light Rail Train in Sodo: At around 7:15 this morning, at Fifth Avenue and Holgate. The fiftysomething man is in critical condition, Central Link light rail is closed for the investigation.
UW Medicine Announces a "Strategic Affiliation" with Catholic PeaceHealth System: Announced yesterday, the deal will be explained further this fall, but a similar "affiliation" with Providence ended with Providence stopping abortion and hospice services. Go read Cienna's feature about these mergers if you'd like to be fully freaked the fuck out.
Federal Food Safety Standards Affect Small Local Farms: Says one farmer, “Some of these [Good Agriculture Practices] standards are trying to make your farm less habitat-friendly and more [of a] sterile monoculture in the name of food safety."
Studies Say Anti-Gay Laws Make Gay People Feel Shitty: "A small but consistent body of research suggests that laws that ban gay marriage—or approve it—can affect the mental health of gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans," reports KUOW.
Watch This Interview with a Tornado Survivor: Just watch it, I'm telling you.
Tornadoes Hit the Middle of the US: One person has died, 21 are injured, here is a photo of a wrecked mobile home park.
Car Bomb Attacks Hit Across Iraq: At least 54 people have died, nearly 200 are injured, no group has yet claimed responsibility.
China Starts Hacking Us Again: According to the NYT, "Unit 61398, whose well-guarded 12-story white headquarters on the edges of Shanghai became the symbol of Chinese cyberpower, is back in business."
Pedestrian Found Dead on Dearborn: Here is a sentence that can enrage and depress us all: "Police believe a 34-year-old pedestrian found dead in Seattle early Sunday morning was hit and dragged by a vehicle and left for dead." That's fucking it. Ban cars forever.
Tim Burgess: Dropped out of the mayor's race on Friday, in case you missed it.
Poverty Hits the Suburbs: Where the safety net has a giant white-picket-fence-shaped hole in it, as social services still focus on cities. "During the 2000s, [poverty] grew twice as fast in suburban areas as in cities, with more than 16 million poor people now living in the nation's suburbs—more than in urban or rural areas," reports NPR.
Yahoomblr: It's happening. Paul reported the predictions last week, now we know for sure that Yahoo will indeed be buying Tumblr, for $1.1 billion in cash. They actually "promise not to screw it up" in a statement.
Good Morning! It might be kind of crappy outside this week. Unless you like cloudy with a chance of showers, which I hear a lot of you do.
How the White House Investigates Leaks: An in-depth look from the Washington Post:
They used security badge access records to track the reporter’s comings and goings from the State Department, according to a newly obtained court affidavit. They traced the timing of his calls with a State Department security adviser suspected of sharing the classified report. They obtained a search warrant for the reporter’s personal e-mails.
Trikes for Beers! On Queen Anne this weekend, grown-ups tricycled. Go see the pictures. You can totally lose your two front teeth this way if you do it right. Wait, I mean wrong.
SNL Sends Stefon Off in Style: Along with Seth Meyers...
Posted by news intern Ansel Herz
Volunteer Park Even More Awesome Now: A gaggle of happy kids cut the ribbon on a new playground installed at the park. Woo!
Anti-Capitalist Town Thrives in Spain: Unemployment is at a record high of 27% in Spain, except in one town where it's not an issue. The mayor abolished the police and appropriates food from supermarkets. "We are beating the recession better than elsewhere, thanks to our co-operatives," he says.
The Global South Will Dominate Economic Growth: The World Bank says developing economies, particularly in East Asia and Latin America, will control half the world's capital by 2030, up from less than a third today.
China's Rich Buying Up Eastside Real-Estate: Speaking of which, more wealthy folks from East Asia are buying up mansions and the like around Bellevue.
Cleaning Up the Duwamish River: A new report says the EPA should provide options to residents who can no longer fish for food in the heavily-polluted river. The report also warns against increasing gentrification in South Seattle.
Scary, Part I: Speaking of toxins, the FBI raided a Spokane apartment on Saturday in an investigation of allegedly threatening letters laced with ricin mailed to a federal judge and post office.
Scary, Part II: A Boise man was arrested on terrorism charges this week. The government says he provided a "instructional shopping trips" on how to make explosive devices and was in possession of a "hollow hand grenade."
"Am I weird to dance alone late at night?" Get down to this:
Posted by news intern Ansel Herz
Happy Haitian Flag Day: Today marks the anniversary of the day the Haitian flag was created by Jean Jacques Dessalines, the Haitian leader who defeated Napoleon's armies and tore out the white from the French flag. If you didn't know, Jefferson was able to buy the Louisiana Purchase from France on the cheap in large part due to Haiti's victory.
Lakewood Whistleblower Accuses Police of Cover Up: After settling a racial profiling case with the Lakewood police, an attorney says he received an anonymous tip that police destroyed documents in the case.
Hunger Strike Continues At
Gulag Guatanamo: Prisoners entered the 100th day of their hunger strike against indefinite detention this week. 30 are being force-fed.
Way to Go, Seattle: Over a hundred LGBT students are receiving $600,000 in scholarships.
LulzSec Hackers Sentenced to Jail in the UK: Remember these braggadocios who took down the websites of the CIA, Sony, and other big-time players? Apparently it was a bunch of British kids, who got busted by a hacker-turned-FBI informant.
C'mon Man! Part I: A third military sexual assault prevention official is being fired. This time it's the head of sexual assault response program at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, who turned himself in after violating a restraining order. President Obama called the string of incidents "shameful and disgraceful."
C'mon Man! Part II: Seahawks defensive end Bruce Irvin faces a four game suspension for using "performance-enhancing substances"—is that a euphemism for "steroids" or is there a meaningful distinction? He has apologized and says he won't appeal the decision.
Here's some fun reading: GIF-blog When You Live in Seattle.
No Touching: Another Army sexual harassment officer has been arrested, this time for allegedly violating his wife's protective order.
The Horror: A mother got into a car and gave chase after neighbors witnessed her four-year-old daughter being abducted from a playground. The woman chased the alleged kidnapper for seven miles before ramming into his car. The little girl, who was reportedly pushed from the moving vehicle before the chase began, was uninjured.
The Horror II: Everybody is swimming in feces.
Partisan Jousting: "The first Congressional hearing into the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups for special scrutiny quickly turned into partisan jousting, with House Republicans pressing to expand the inquiry to other tax misdeeds closer to the White House, while Democrats tried to keep the focus narrow and under the purview of an I.R.S. chief appointed by President George W. Bush," reports the NYTimes.
Big Winner! A couple facing eviction found a $4.85 million winning lottery ticket stashed in their cookie jar.
Get Your Pregnancy Out of Our Memories: A Michigan school tried to edit the baby bumps of two pregnant students out of yearbook photos because the pregnant teens are budding proof that the school's abstinence-only policy doesn't work.
War Vets and Star Trek: How four war vets landed roles in Star Trek Into Darkness.
Why Is Crime Virtually Nonexistent in Gun-Loving Iceland? "First—and arguably foremost—there is virtually no difference among upper, middle and lower classes in Iceland. And with that, tension between economic classes is non-existent, a rare occurrence for any country," Andrew Clark writes for BBC.
Remember all Those Japanese Women Forced Into Prostitution? Let's mute the scandal by calling them all Korean, a Japanese politician proposed today. His comment was made in reaction to a scandal earlier this week involving a colleague who explained that forced prostitution was a natural way to keep wartime soldiers relaxed:
"'Comfort women' is erroneously translated as 'sex slaves,' which might encourage anti-Japanese riots and conspiracies," [Japan Restoration Party member Shingo] Nishimura said Friday. "We better fight back by telling them that the words 'comfort women' and 'sex slaves' are completely different and that there are numerous South Korean prostitutes roaming around Japan."
Black Market Hash: Ben Livingston explains why the state's newly proposed pot guidelines—which ban the sale of hash, hash oil, and other extracts—are ridiculous.
And finally, please enjoy this brain-melting episode of Kitchen Nightmares. Give it five minutes of your time and you will be hooked (and afterward, go read this post-show update):
A cellphone video that appears to show Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine is being shopped around Toronto by a group of Somali men involved in the drug trade. Two Toronto Star reporters have viewed the video three times. It appears to show Ford in a room, sitting in a chair, wearing a white shirt, top buttons open, inhaling from what appears to be a glass crack pipe. Ford is incoherent, trading jibes with an off-camera speaker who goads the clearly impaired mayor by raising topics including Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and the Don Bosco high school football team Ford coaches.
“I’m f—-ing right-wing,” Ford appears to mutter at one point. “Everyone expects me to be right-wing. I’m just supposed to be this great.…” and his voice trails off. At another point he is heard calling Trudeau a “fag.” Later in the 90-second video he is asked about the football team and he appears to say (though he is mumbling), “they are just f—-ing minorities.”
Posted by news intern Ansel Herz
Dog Attack Allegedly Leads to Stabbing in Cal Anderson Park: We've written about this Dan Savage-free incident on Slog. Now CHS Seattle has more from Nick Siemon, the homeless stabbing victim who explains that he was attacked by a stranger's dog and responded thusly: "I picked up his dog like a mother dog would pick up her pup and tossed him aside."
Not Much Love for Starbucks: At least not among Seattle Redditors. Complaints about crappy coffee and Howard Schultz's history of Sonics douchebaggery abound.
Watch Yer Stuff, Drivers: There's been a series of smash-and-grab thefts from a series of parked cars in the area West Seattle Blog is on the case.
Beautiful Bicycle Finds New Home Among Flowers: "A ‘shady dude’ ditched a sweet blue Italian bike in a Pinehurst neighbor’s flower bed" on Monday, Pinehurst Seattle reports. If it's yours, claim it.
Night Light Nails Takes Former Comics Dungeon Space: I clicked on that headline saddened by the thought of a comics store closing down. Turns out the Comics Dungeon only moved down the street, Wallyhood reports, taking over a real estate office. Nerd power!
Rain Zombies Impervious to the Sun's Rays: Madison Park Blogger documents the zombie takeover of Madison Park Beach by shirtless people sunning themselves. Seattle is supposed to be a gray and wet hellhole, not a Miami facsimile with grass instead of sand. We'll keep a suspicious eye on these developments.
The Long Island Press has noticed that the US military has quietly given itself the power to police Americans and "quell... civil disturbances."
The lines blurred even further Monday as a new dynamic was introduced to the militarization of domestic law enforcement. By making a few subtle changes to a regulation in the U.S. Code titled “Defense Support of Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies” the military has quietly granted itself the ability to police the streets without obtaining prior local or state consent, upending a precedent that has been in place for more than two centuries.
The most objectionable aspect of the regulatory change is the inclusion of vague language that permits military intervention in the event of “civil disturbances.” According to the rule:
Federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the President is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances.
Bruce Afran, a civil liberties attorney and constitutional law professor at Rutgers University, calls the rule, “a wanton power grab by the military,” and says, “It’s quite shocking actually because it violates the long-standing presumption that the military is under civilian control.”
... Michael German, senior policy counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), noted in a 2009 Daily Kos article that, “there is no doubt that the military is very good at many things. But recent history shows that restraint in their new-found domestic role is not one of them.”
So... does this mean America is now living under the hair-trigger threat of martial law? And what rises to the level of "civil disturbance"?
Retribution: Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev reportedly left a note in the hull of the boat he was hiding in claiming that the Boston bombing was retribution for US military attacks on Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In Better Bomb News: The 16-year-old Florida girl who was arrested after her school science experiment exploded won't face charges, the state prosecuting attorney's office announced. She was being threatened with up to five years in prison, on top of being expelled from her high school and arrested.
Sorry B-ball Fans: We're not getting the Kings.
Gaza's Black-Market KFC: "The French fries arrive soggy, the chicken having long since lost its crunch. A 12-piece bucket goes for about $27 here—more than twice the $11.50 it costs just across the border in Egypt..."
We're Number 2! As far as cities that allow our dogs to attack postal workers go.
New Pot Rules: The state Liquor Control Board is slated to release its first draft of rules and guidelines for how to grow and sell marijuana this afternoon.
How to Clone an Embryo: The secret ingredient is coffee.
Investigating Sexual Assault in the Military: "A New York senator will introduce Thursday a bill that aims to remove sex crimes from the military’s chain of command—a bid to transform an insulated culture that tends to dampen sex-assault reporting, leaving many victims feeling helpless or hopeless," reports NBCNews.com. And if that doesn't work, we could start issuing pit bulls to all female enlistees.
Poop Foam: It's blowing up hog farms!
Meet the New "Smart Rifle": It knows when to shoot and rarely misses. Fantastic.
Twisters: A mile-wide tornado waltzed through a North Texas neighborhood last night, killing six people and injuring dozens of others. At least 10 twisters have been reported in the state since last night.
Co-authored by news intern Ansel Herz
Shortly before midnight last night, 86-year-old activist Dorli Rainey—yes, the Dorli Rainey whose Maalox-covered pepper-sprayed face became an icon of the Occupy movement—got a text message that sheriff deputies were about to evict ironworker Jeremy Griffin from his foreclosed South Park home. So she immediately jumped in a cab and headed down to Griffin's house to put her body on the line.
Of course she did.
Twelve hours later, the sheriffs had yet to arrive, but a couple dozen fellow activists did, transforming the lawn and sidewalk in front of Griffin's home into a kinda Occupy Seattle reunion. This is the first "eviction blockade" to be staged by SAFE (Standing Against Eviction & Foreclosure), an activist organization that grew out of Occupy Seattle, focused on helping homeowners fight back against the banks through pragmatic public protests.
The mood was almost festive (at one point, much to the delight of Rainey and others, schoolchildren from Concord Elementary across the street broke into a supportive chant). Griffin was surprisingly upbeat for man who soon could lose his house. "When you pick the right fight, you win," Griffin defiantly proclaimed as he thanked his comrades for their support. "What matters is that people have joined together to fight the banks."
It's a bold answer to those who criticize the Occupy movement for being too disorganized and unfocused to accomplish anything. SAFE is a direct offshoot of Occupy Seattle both in terms of organizational structure (horizontally, without hierarchy) and its membership (several of its founders are former Occupy activists). But unlike Occupy, SAFE's demands are specific and its tactics well proven. Such direct action blockades to stop evictions has been successfully employed by Occupy groups before, from Minnesota to Atlanta, often shaming the banks into negotiating with homeowners instead of evicting them.
SAFE's initial action got off to a promising start. As TV cameras rolled and speakers urged people to call Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman (212-761-4000) to ask him to negotiate a home-saving lease/purchase agreement, Morgan Stanley's executive offices called for Griffin. They would talk to their lawyers, Griffin says he was assured, and then get back to him.
Don't Cut Our Service: Over 400 people packed yesterday's King County Council meeting to protest 17 percent cuts in Metro bus service that could go into effect next year without additional funding.
NY Dem Won't Face Harassment Charges: A district attorney found that sexual harassment claims brought against Brooklyn assemblyman Vito J. Lopez by female employees didn't constitute a "chargeable crime," while noting, “Certainly, what we found is alarming.”
Another Assault Prevention Officer Investigated for Assault: The US military doesn't have a problem with women; it has a problem with men.
An Army sergeant first class assigned to a sexual assault prevention program at Fort Hood, Texas, is under investigation for sexual assault, pandering, abusive sexual contact and maltreatment of subordinates.
An administration official told CNN's Barbara Starr on Wednesday that it's possible that prostitution-related activity was involved, but investigators have not yet determined the scope of that and potential criminal misconduct.
They're Not All Ticking Time Bombs: Doctors are concerned that more women are choosing to get both breasts removed, a la Angelina Jolie, at any "whiff" of cancer instead of fighting to save one when it makes sense.
Seattle Woman Sues Swedish: After her husband died from a nosebleed at the local hospital.
Innocent of All Charges: Ariel Castro's lawyers say he'll plead not guilty to four counts of kidnapping and three counts of raping the Cleveland women who claim they were imprisoned in his house for a decade. "He's not a monster and he shouldn't be demonized," said lawyer Jaye Schlachet.
Fatal Foul: A man was dribbling a soccer ball from Seattle to Brazil when he was struck by a truck in Lincoln City, Oregon.
Drama Queens: "You're just an accident or surgery away from becoming a heroin addict," KIRO bleats in one sensationalist headline.
Lynnwood Man Starts His New Life in N. Korea: The man was sentenced to 15-years of hard labor at a "special prison" weeks ago, in what analysts say is a ploy from the country to get diplomatic concessions.
Porn King Sues JPMorgan Chase Bank for Discrimination: The soft-core porn creator alleges that the bank refused him a home loan because of "moral reasons," which is rich given the bank's history.
The suit alleges that "JPMorgan's discrimination against plaintiff on 'moral' grounds is particularly repugnant and hypocritical coming from a corporation under federal investigation for illegal, immoral and unethical conduct, including: A. Multibillion dollar trading losses that cost its shareholders between $5 billion and $15 billion; B. A criminal investigation of top JPMorgan executives by the FBI over lying to investors and federal regulators with respect to the multibillion dollar trading losses; C. Misstatements by JPMorgan regarding how the bank harmed more than 5,000 homeowners in foreclosure..." the list continues on through i.
And finally, over the weekend I saw Ironman 3. It was entertaining and—wonder of wonders!—it passed the Bechdel Test. For one brief moment in a larger conversation about men (their bosses/lovers), two women on screen talk about science!
Posted by news intern Ansel Herz
Today, Mayor Mike McGinn's office announced that it had secured $1.2 million to fund the final design and possible construction, depending on cost, of a dedicated cycle track along Westlake Avenue, on the west side of Lake Union.
The cycle track is part of $3.25 million in new transportation investments, which were made possible by savings from the Spokane Street viaduct project. In total, the cycletrack is projected to cost $2.3 million and will "improve separation between bicycles and vehicles and link the Ship Canal trail to South Lake Union." It's no bicycle superhighway, but it does sound good.
It'll sound even better if the city's cycle track can be linked up with Amazon's proposed cycle track slated for 7th Avenue. "That's exactly what we're studying right now," said mayoral spokesman Aaron Pickus when Cienna called to
tell him how to do his job politely demand that the two cycle tracks be linked together.
You can find details on the city's other proposed transportation improvements—including "interim cycle track options" in East Marginal Way in SoDo, street improvements around the Port, and Pedestrian Master Plan implementations—over here.
Police Identify One Mother's Day Shooting Suspect: His name is Akein Scott, he's 19 years old, and police are urging him to turn himself in.
Black Bloc Community Service: Brendan Kiley gives his thoughts on a different form of transgressive protest—one based around the idea of protesting while serving local communities.
Breaking the Mold of Lame-Duck Democrats? Dems have a chance to seize control of the state senate and push through progressive legislation in the special session—but will they play hardball?
North Bend Man Charged with Child Molestation: Prosecutors allege that the 21-year-old theater manager and youth group volunteer molested two small children under his mother's care over a period of three years.
Shit and You'll Owe Them a Dollar: The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that "farmers could not use Monsanto’s patented genetically altered soybeans to create new seeds without paying the company a fee," the NYTimes reports.
Boob Talk with Angelina Jolie: The actress and director opens up about her decision to have a double mastectomy to reduce her risk of developing breast cancer.
On April 27, I finished the three months of medical procedures that the mastectomies involved. During that time I have been able to keep this private and to carry on with my work.
But I am writing about it now because I hope that other women can benefit from my experience. Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness. But today it is possible to find out through a blood test whether you are highly susceptible to breast and ovarian cancer, and then take action.
Spy Grab: Russia says they caught a CIA agent in Moscow trying to recruit one of their spies, but he was just a little spy so they unhooked him and threw him back.
No Comfort for Comfort Women: The mayor of Osaka, Toru Hashimoto, argues that forcing women into prostitution during times of war or, you know, for entertainment purposes, is somewhat tragic but "necessary". More wisdom from Hashimoto: "I told [a US military commander] there are places that operate within the boundaries of the law which can be used for releasing sexual frustration, so they [the U.S. military] should fully utilize it or the marines won't be able to control their aggressive sexual desires."
Homophobia in Russia: In an unusual acknowledgement, Russian investigators admit that a 23-year-old who was sodomized with beer bottles and beaten to death was likely targeted because of his sexual orientation.
"I swear to God we will eat your hearts and your livers, you soldiers of Bashar the dog": Human rights groups have condemned a video that seems to depict a Syrian rebel cutting out a dead soldier's heart and eating it while insulting President Bashar al-Assad. Meanwhile, BBC explains why Western powers feel "conflicted" about the heart-eating incident.
What's Going on with the Sonics? NBA owners are set to vote on Wednesday on whether the Sonics will be allowed to ride a tide of Chris Hansen's money from Sacramento to Seattle.
And finally, because I love nature, here is a video of a killer whale jumping on a kayaker:
Posted by news intern Ansel Herz
Faster than you could say "God damn it, Obama!" Paul already posted the breaking news that the Obama Department of Justice secretly collected a wide array of phone records from Associated Press reporters over a two-month period last year.
I just want to add, to all the liberals out there: this is what you get.
This is what you get when you elect a politician who promises he'll criminalize Bush's warrantless wiretapping program during the Democratic primary, then spinelessly flip-flops after winning the nomination and votes to immunize telephone companies from prosecution.
This is what you get when Obama faces little outcry from his base for claiming to be the "most transparent" administration ever, while waging an unprecedented war on whistleblowers. This includes the abusive ten-month imprisonment in a military brig of Bradley Manning, the modern-day equivalent of Daniel Ellsberg. Even a military judge rebuked the government for its harsh treatment of Manning, who Obama had declared guilty.
Obviously, this is unacceptable. But so is the silence from Obama supporters who, evidently, were only feigning outrage over civil liberties abuses during the Bush years.
Getting a lot of concerned emails this morning from Sloggers worried about me:
An aggressive, off-leash dog in Seattle's Cal Anderson Park led to one man being hospitalized with serious stab wounds Sunday night, according to the Seattle Police Department. According to police, the suspect's dog charged at the victim, a man in his 20s, twice, so the victim kicked it. That's reportedly led to a fight, during which the suspect pulled out a knife and stabbed and slashed the victim multiple times in the stomach.
For the record: I've never kicked a dog. And the victim is described as a man in his 20s. I'm 34 years old—as all regular readers of "Savage Love" know.
If Only Everyone Had Been Armed, This Tragedy Could've Been Avoided: Nineteen people were shot in New Orleans yesterday while celebrating Mother's Day, which is not a constitutionally protected right, like owning guns is.
Insane: Lawyers for the accused Aurora, Colorado, theater shooter plan on changing his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity today.
House of Horrors: A community struggles with what to do with the house that imprisoned three Cleveland women for more than a decade.
Eight-Year-Old Stabbed to Death: Her 12-year-old brother has been arrested in connection with the fatal stabbing.
In Other Knife News: A home invasion suspect was fatally stabbed last night near North Bend.
Still Shaking Their Litigation Stick: Religious hospitals that receive public Washington funds and deny abortion and death-with-dignity access to patients could be violating the Washington State Constitution, the ACLU of Washington explains to the New York Times.
What I Need Is a Milkshake Vaccine: Scientists have created a working vaccine for cocaine. “The vaccine eats up the cocaine in the blood like a little Pac-Man before it can reach the brain,” the study’s lead investigator, Dr. Ronald G. Crystal, said in a news release.
Making Friends and Influencing People: Walla Walla's state penitentiary is pairing up inmates in solitary confinement "to discuss ways to stay out of trouble, both in prison and when they get out," reports KIRO.
This Is How You Feed a Persecution Complex: Conservatives have been whipped into a frothy rage by the news that IRS tax scrutiny targeted more than just Tea Party groups. As the NYTimes reports:
The Internal Revenue Service’s special scrutiny of small-government groups applying for tax-exempt status went beyond keyword hunts for organizations with “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their names, to a more overtly ideological search for applicants seeking to “make America a better place to live” or “criticize how the country is being run,” according to part of a draft audit by the inspector general that has been given to Capitol Hill.
Ring Them Wedding Bells: A Hong Kong transsexual woman has won the right to marry her boyfriend.
LL Cool J: Talks accidental racism on All Things Considered.
And finally, news outlets report that a Whitney fan was kicked off her flight late last week for loving a little too much. Whitney's nice and all, but let's give credit where credit is due, shall we?
Posted by news intern Ansel Herz
Canadians Doing Things Right, Part I: The youngest elected official in Vancouver's history is moving to change the city's park bathrooms to unisex because "the model of separate men’s and ladies’ rooms doesn’t suit many in the transgender and gender-variant communities."
Canadians Doing Things Right, Part II: Quebec will cede 300 hectares of land back to the Mohawks, an indigenous group. Some small-town mayors are upset, and one even called the area "our territory." "Observers noted the irony of a non-aboriginal politician complaining about losing land to an aboriginal reserve."
Happy Mother's Day, Part I: A Sea-Tac woman says some asshole broke in and stole the pink heart-shaped object with her mother's ashes inside.
Happy Mother's Day, Part II: Get hip to the origins of Mother's Day, y'all.
Today in the Surveillance State, Part I: The FBI and Department of Justice don't bother with search warrants when they want to rummage through Americans' "e-mails, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and other private files," documents obtained by the ACLU show.
Today in the Surveillance State, Part II: I'm all for immigration reform, but not like this. Tucked in the 800-page bill is the innocuously named "photo tool," a massive new database with photos and information on every American.
As the World Burns, Part I: Writer George Monbiot calls hitting the 400ppm level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere "a moment of significance on the road to idiocy."
As the World Burns, Part II: Countries the world over are blazing new roads to idiocy as they rush to claim control over the thawing Arctic.
It's Been a Year Since the Cafe Racer Shooting: The theme of the cafe's recovery from the tragedy? "Racer love."
Holy shit. The locust plague is happening:
Posted by news intern Ansel Herz
Good Thing He Didn't Use A Gun: In Port Angeles, authorities say an irate neighbor decided to express his anger using a bulldozer—not a "killdozer," thankfully. Four homes, a pickup truck, and power lines were reportedly damaged, but nobody was hurt. Dude was arrested.
Ariel Castro Could Face the Death Penalty: Prosecutors may seek the death penalty against the man who allegedly locked up three girls in the basement and abused them for years on end, even though the mother of one of the victims says she's forgiven him.
Hegemony Over Afghanistan: Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who's been receiving fat bundles of cash from the CIA, says the US can keep its nine military bases in the country even after troops withdraw in 2014.
Seattle's Thin Blue Line: When Seattle police fatally shot a 21-year-old Native American in February, none of the eight officers there had turned on their dashboard cameras, so SPD says there is no video of the incident. Meanwhile, officer Chris Hairston is seeking to block the release of video allegedly showing him assaulting a handcuffed suspect.
Fox News is Left-Wing Propaganda: That's what Tea Partiers think, anyway. So, they say, boycott FOX News. Thanks, Tea Party.
Boo on Boeing: The company is eliminating 1,500 IT jobs in Seattle over the next three years, moving some of them to Missouri and South Carolina. Now that's what I call loyalty to local workers and the regional economy!
And In Case You Missed It: Guatemala convicted its own former president—trained and backed by the United States—on genocide charges yesterday, setting a worldwide precedent. The court will reconvene on Monday to "establish reparations for victims of genocide and crimes against humanity."
The righteousness train rumbles on:
Imagine Ocean's 11, but with thousands of sequences of people withdrawing money from cash machines. A sophisticated international bank heist team stole $45 million from thousands of ATMs. And authorities will never bring the suspected ringleader to justice, now that he's been found dead in the Dominican Republic.
Death: 1,034, Life: 1. Sixteen days after the building collapsed, a woman has been found alive in the rubble of a Bangladeshi garment factory. In less cheery news, the number of bodies recovered hit 1,034 yesterday. About 3,000 people were believed to be in the building when it collapsed.
I dunno, the whole spire thing just strikes me as cheating. A 408-foot spire has been attached to the top of the One World Trade Center, bringing it to its full symbolic height of 1,776 feet, and making it the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Sorta.
No reports of pepper spray. Israeli police held back thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jewish protesters who threw rocks and chairs at women praying at the Western Wall in violation of Orthodox tradition. An Israeli court recently ruled that women had a right to pray at the site revered as a remnant of the last temple.
But you still can't use an iPod on takeoff. The Federal Communications Commission has outlined plans to create high-speed WiFi networks on airplanes.
Because there's nothing more therapeutic than hitting a dog. An expert panel of the American Heart Association has concluded that owning a dog can reduce your risk of heart disease by increasing exercise and blunting the physiological reaction to stress. So enjoy your early death, Dan.
Are you watching, Bernanke? The Japanese economy may finally be climbing out of a two-decade-long slump, thanks to the new government's inflationary policy. The central bank aims to increase inflation to two percent by doubling the amount of money in circulation.
The NBA can go fuck itself. The NBA is reportedly pressuring the Maloof family to sell the Kings to a Sacramento ownership group despite their binding agreement to sell the team to Chris Hansen at a far higher price. Go figure.
Nice "work" if you can get it. Initiative profiteer and admitted liar Tim Eyman paid himself $112,000 last year. That we know of.
The most shocking political scandal since Benghazi. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has admitted that the plaques to be created in his recently announced "Weapons to Words" program will be made from guns melted down from future gun buybacks, not the first one. The first buyback's guns have already been melted down into rebar. Which is a big deal, because!
Apparently, no toddler shot anybody yesterday. Congratulations, America!
A pack of up to four pit bull terriers has been blamed for the death of a jogger in rural Los Angeles, with officials warning on Thursday that the dogs remained on the loose. Sheriff's Lieutenant John Corina said a woman in a car saw the dogs attacking the female jogger, 63, on Thursday morning. The witness called police and blew her car horn to try to get the dogs to stop. "When the first deputy on scene saw one dog still attacking the woman, he tried to chase the dog away," Corina said. "The dog ran off into the desert, then turned around and attacked the deputy, the deputy fired a round at the dog and tried to kill the dog, and the dog took off into the desert."
There are no bad dogs, of course, just bad owners. So here's hoping they put the owners down too.
Posted by news intern Ansel Herz
A small group calling themselves Women In Black held a silent vigil on Wednesday across from City Hall. For more than a decade, they've been holding vigils to bring attention to the deaths of homeless people in King County.
"We stand out here to acknowledge the fact that... their value as human beings is important to us," Elizabeth Iverson, who lives at Tent City 3 in North Seattle, told me. She said she's been homeless since losing her nursing job in 2010.
Homelessness is a big and complex issue, obviously, but the group says the most important thing right now is that winter shelters stay open throughout the entire summer. Normally they'd have closed by March 31, but last month, the city council designated $150,000 to keep them open through June 15.
"For [the city], that was a big concession—and it isn't nearly enough," Tim Harris, director of Real Change, told me. He said the shelter system is "radically under-resourced."
The shelters are "near capacity," David Takami, a spokesman for Seattle Human Services, confirmed. "There's definitely a need, and it's a question of whether we have the funding."
But as of now, the funding's not available. And winter conditions or not, the chronically homeless are four to nine times more likely to die than the general population.
So I called the Committee to End Homelessness in King County, expecting to hear about their efforts to keep the shelters open. Instead, what I got were a lot of long, awkward pauses, as Gretchen Bruce, the interim director who's been on the job about six months, struggled to say as little as possible.
Are you a genius? Jen and Christopher will be on KUOW at 10 a.m. this morning to announce the nominees for The Stranger's 11th annual Genius Awards.
I honestly haven't been following this story. Somebody named Jodi Arias has been convicted of killing her boyfriend or something, and apparently we're supposed to care about that for some reason.
A dark day for Republicans. For the first time on record, eligible black voters turned out at a higher rate than eligible white voters in the 2012 presidential election.
Communism pays! Kong Dongmei, the granddaughter of Chairman Mao Zedong, the founder of Communist China, is reportedly worth $815 million.
Progress! Only seven people are reported dead in a Bangladeshi garment factory fire, far less than the 803 who were killed in the recent collapse of a Bangladeshi garment factory.
The Romney Recovery™ continues. Weekly initial claims for unemployment benefits fell to a five and a half year low, possibly signaling a strengthening labor market. You know, before sequestration kills it.
Another one bites the coal dust. Kinder Morgan Inc. is dropping plans to build a coal export terminal along the Columbia River at Port St. Helens, Oregon. That's three down and three to go.
It's a Plea Bargain, Charlie Brown. Former child actor Peter Robbins, 56, who was the voice of Charlie Brown in the Peanuts TV specials, has been ordered to seek substance abuse and mental health treatment after pleading guilty to stalking his ex-girlfriend and threatening the plastic surgeon who performed her disappointing breast augmentation. Good grief!
Boys will boys. A two-year-old boy died yesterday in Corsican, Texas, after accidentally shooting himself in the head with his father's handgun. Another unavoidable tragedy (or so I'm told).
Well that's not so bad. A seven-year-old Houston, Texas boy is expected to recover after being shot by his five-year-old brother while taking a bath together.
Posted by news intern Ansel Herz
Seattle Tries to Enlarge Itself: The city still wants to annex an unincorporated area called North Highline, which is counter-intuitively south of Seattle near Boeing Field. But, as White Center Blog reports, Seattle doesn't have the money to conquer the territory right now. The area includes about
40 32,000 residents.
Beacon Hill Reclaims Mother's Day: Mother's Day began as a hella political holiday (look it up). By 1920, its founders were already decrying its commercialization. Beacon Hill Blog reports that on Saturday, folks will march to celebrate moms with more than a card, by highlighting issues they say impact families:
"...such as unaffordable childcare, domestic violence and deportations, and cuts to jobs, public schools, Social Security and human services. The organizers call for reversing cuts [to social services] by taxing the rich and ending U.S. militarism."Fuck yeah. You'll find this event and more on our News & Politics calendar.
New Massive Monkees Studio Is Dope: So says Julie Pham, reporting on the international Bboy champions' latest project for South End Seattle.
Ballard Student Filmmakers Also Kicking Ass: Ten Ballard High School students behind three short films won two major prizes and an honorable mention at a Colorado film festival, My Ballard reports.
Queen Anne Rents Skyrocket, Driving Out Restaurants: "Mom-and-pop chinese/sushi restaurant" Calva Cafe is closing at the end of the month, Queen Anne View reports, after seven years in business. The owners say they can't afford the rent, which doubled twice in the past few years. This is the second restaurant in the area closing this month due to doubled rents.
Army of Eagle Hatchlings to Descend on Lake Union: "The 520 eagles have been patiently sitting on their Broadmoor nest this spring, so more eaglets could hatch any day now," Montlaker reports, via Union Bay Watch, which is my new favorite blog. Rumor has it the eagle hatchlings are huge Hitchcock fans: