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October 31, 2013 at 6:04 AM

For his reelection in Seattle, Mayor McGinn talks up light rail

“Connecting neighborhoods with rail,” says the email message from Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. The mayor talks up Sound Transit’s idea of rail from downtown to Ballard, not coincidentally during his campaign for reelection. Seattle progressives love rail. They don’t have much of it, though, because it is so expensive. Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail, which…

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Comments | Topics: light rail, mayoral, mike mcginn

October 28, 2013 at 6:00 AM

The Washington Supreme Court hears the state pension cases

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In last Thursday’s paper, The Times advised the Washington Supreme Court to rule against public employee unions on two pension cases that together involve about $10 billion over 25 years. Here, from TVW, are the oral arguments by attorneys for both sides as they respond to the questions from the justices. The cases are filed under Washington Education Association v. Washington Department of Retirement Systems.

The first case is about “gainsharing,” an unusual benefit the Legislature put into law in 1998.  According to our editorial, “Under gainsharing, if the investments in a pension fund increased by 10 percent for three years in a row — which they were doing then — the future benefit promised to participants in the fund would go up.” The future benefit would never go down, but in this circumstance it could go up — and there were several periods like this.

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October 24, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Dialog on equality of opportunity

Weronika Kozinska

Weronika Kozinska

Weronika Kozinska, 17, a high-school student in Liverpool, England, recently emailed me, asking me questions about a book review I’d written in 2006. (In a wired world, what you write never goes away.)  Our back-and-forth became a dialog on equality of opportunity, a concept I’ve long had doubts about. Here are some excerpts, with her selections in italics.

I am a sixth-form student in England currently working on an extended project baccalaureate on the topic of globalisation and poverty. I recently read your review of “Making Globalization work” by Joseph Stiglitz. You mention in your review that Stiglitz is hardly evenhanded and that his book is “flavoured with a deep distaste for inequality.” Do you think his heavy opinions cloud his judgement and lessen his credibility?

Certainly it influences his judgment. Whether it “clouds” it or “clarifies” it will depend on your judgment—whether you agree with him. I am to the right of Stiglitz. Inequality as such isn’t distasteful to me. I think inequality is the normal human condition, a reflection of the inequalities in the human material. To me, the question is rather, how much inequality, and inequality of what? (Income? Wealth? Consumption? All different…)  It seems to me that most of the people who write about inequality assume it’s bad, or that (following philosopher John Rawls) any deviations from perfect equality have to be justified. My view is that people should have freedom, that I expect their incomes, assets and consumption will be different, and that any actions to take from A and give to B have to be justified.

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October 23, 2013 at 6:15 AM

In Seattle, still savoring free plastic bags

When Seattle’s ban on single-use plastic shopping bags went into effect July 1, 2012, I vowed to resist  it as long as possible. I like plastic bags. I voted for them when they were on the ballot, which most of my fellow voters did and the City Council ignored. I reuse bags for garbage. Also…

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October 16, 2013 at 6:08 AM

Why I support Initiative 517

Initiative 517 does several things. I support it because it does one thing especially:  it ends the anti-democratic practice of kicking local initiatives off the ballot before people have a chance to vote on them. This doesn’t happen much at the state level because of a couple of strong court rulings, but at the local…

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October 11, 2013 at 6:01 AM

Science, GMOs and Initiative 522

 

Donna Grethen / Tribune Content Agency

Donna Grethen / Tribune Content Agency

Seattle geneticist Max Moehs is uneasy about Washington’s Initiative 522, which would require labeling of foods with genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.

On its face, Initiative 522 is a labeling law so that people know what’s in their food. But GE is not an ingredient. It is a process. “Labeling a crop ‘genetically engineered’ is like labeling it, ‘Grown on Irrigated Land,’ ” Moehs says. Or for organic food, labeling it, “Grown in Manure.”

“What’s important is what’s in the plant, not how it was created,” Moehs says.

Of course Moehs (pronounced “mays”), 51, is an interested party. He the principal scientist at the Seattle labs of Arcadia Biosciences, based in Davis, Calif. Moehs has just won a $2-million grant from the National Institutes of Health. It is his second such grant to develop a strain of low-gluten wheat. His partner on this grant is Karl Sestak, associate professor of microbiology at Tulane University in New Orleans; the partner on his previous grant was Diter von Wettstein of Washington State University.

Gluten is the protein in flour that traps the bubbles of air that make bread dough rise. About 1 percent of the population has celiac disease and can’t eat gluten and another 6 percent can eat restricted

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Comments | Topics: ge, genetically modified organism, gmo

October 10, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Civil Disagreement: Obamacare and the government shutdown

Civil Disagreement is an occasional feature of the Seattle Times editorial board. Here Bruce Ramsey and Lynne K. Varner offer dramatically different takes on the federal budget battle and the government shutdown. This interactive includes a poll about American sentiment toward the political standoff. [do action=”custom_iframe” url=”http://hosted.ap.org/interactives/2013/us-budget-2013/?SITE=wasee” width=”630″ height=”500″ scrolling=””/]

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Comments | More in Civil Disagreement, Pro/con | Topics: 2013 elections, Affordable Care Act, barack obama

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