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August 26, 2013 at 3:47 PM
A new dimension was added to the criminal case of the soldier sentenced to 35 years in prison for stealing state secrets last week. The soldier charged and convicted as Bradley Manning announced a desire to be known as a woman named Chelsea.
“As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female,” Manning said in a statement read on NBC’s Today Show. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible.”
Manning’s announcement prompted considerable discussion about whether the Army would comply with the request. The private was returned to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., after sentencing. Though this issue has not come up before with military prisoners, a 1-year-old Federal Bureau of Prisons policy requires federal prisons to establish treatment plans, including hormone therapy if necessary, for inmates diagnosed with gender-identity disorder. Manning was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2010.
Last week Seattle Times editorial writer Bruce Ramsey wrote a blog post about Manning that offended many people. Though Ramsey wrote a clarication to explain he was commenting on the irony of the government possibly paying for such treatment for a stealer of state secrets, the post was written in an insensitive way. The post prompted several emails expressing dismay and hurt. Some very thoughtfully discussed the complexities of gender-identity issues and the challenges of seeking medical care that most insurance companies don’t cover.
Manning’s story and this episode provides an opportunity to have a dialogue about transgender issues. These panelists have confirmed their participation in our chat. We invite you to join our discussion to share your thoughts, comments and questions.
Danielle Askini, founder of the Gender Justice League in Seattle. Askini was featured in a Seattle Times news story on transgender pride in June.
Bruce Ramsey, editorial writer for The Seattle Times.
Sharon Pian Chan, associate opinions editor/digital for The Seattle Times, will moderate the discussion.
Update 10:20 a.m. 8/27/13:
Ina Fried, senior editor at AllThingsD. Fried, who is based in California, covers mobile technology for the technology news site. Before joining AllThingsD she spent a decade at CNET covering, among other things, Microsoft and Apple. She a former board member and vice president of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and the current chair of its Transgender and Allies task force.
August 13, 2013 at 11:55 AM
Big, if belated, news this morning is Washington state’s victory before the Washington, D.C., Circuit Court of Appeals in its efforts to get the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to follow the law on a long-term nuclear waste repository.
In its 2-1 ruling, the appeals panel ordered the NRC to resume its work on whether Yucca Mountain, Nev., would be a viable site for the long-term storage of the nation’s commercial nuclear waste now stored on nuclear plants around the country. Besides the waste stored at Washington state’s lone nuclear plant, Columbia Generating Station in Richland, Washington state is acutely affected because the Hanford Nuclear Reservation contains more than 50 years of Cold War-era nuclear defense waste, also intended for long-term disposal at Yucca Mountain.
The Obama administration and its NRC violated the law when they unilaterally stopped work on studying the Yucca Mountain site, which Congress designated the nation’s long-term repository in 1987. About $10 billion has been spent studying and preparing the site.
This episode is rife with political gamesmanship, as I detailed in this 2010 column. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has bitterly opposed the Yucca Mountain site in his home state, and candidate Barack Obama, in 2008, campaigned in Nevada against the site. Reid, a Democrat, was able to get his former aide, Gregory Jaczko, appointed NRC chairman, which began a sorry episode in the commission’s long history as a reputable and regulatory agency. Jaczko stopped the work before a much-anticipated study, known as Volume III, was to be released. The study is said to contain technological data that could shed light on whether Yucca Mountain was viable as a longterm site.
In the majority opinion, Circuit Chief Judge Brett Kavanaugh, wrote:
This case has serious implications for our constitutional structure. It is no overstatement to say that our constitutional system of separation of powers would be significantly altered if we were to allow executive and independent agencies to disregard federal law in the manner asserted in this case by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Our decision today rests on the constitutional authority of Congress, and the respect that the Executive and the Judiciary properly owe to Congress in the circumstances here.
If the NRC follows the court’s ruling and the law, at the very least, the agency should be able to release the critical Volume III study to shed some actual technical light on this critical public policy issue that has been so utterly obfuscated by political shenanigans.
June 25, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Sure, it’s summer and the last thing you want to do is think about politics. But it’s time again to do your civic duty. Campaign season is in full swing with a full slate of candidates challenging incumbent Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and incumbents in other races drawing worthy challengers.
Last week, members of The Seattle Times editorial board began interviewing candidates for possible endorsement in Seattle School Board and Metropolitan King County Council races. We’ve also started looking at the Seattle City Council and will be spending some time with McGinn and his challengers. Port of Seattle and Bellevue City Council and School Board are also on our lists.
As I wrote in my Sunday column, we will start publishing our election recommendations this week with the goal of having them completed by the time ballots are mailed out. We will make recommendations in races that have three candidates or more filed. Those races with only two will not appear until the general election ballot. King County elections has posted a list of those races that will be on the ballot.
If you have any questions for the Seattle mayoral candidates or any others, we’d love to hear them. Please leave your suggestions in the comments below.
May 16, 2013 at 11:58 AM
Sacramento Kings fans are basking in the victory of their determined mayor and former NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson, community leaders and a group of eager buyers. Here’s the Sacramento Bee cartoonist Jack Ohman’s take on Wednesday’s 22-8 decision by the NBA Board of Governors to have the Kings stay put in Sacramento rather than move to Seattle. Times reporter Bob Condotta detailed the decision in this story.
Thursday’s Sacramento Bee editorial notes that the Kings’ future still hinges on the proposed new arena deal. But in the meantime, its tone was celebratory.
Now is a moment to celebrate that the Kings’ 28-year run in Sacramento isn’t over, not by a long shot. If all goes right, the team’s best days are still ahead.
May 2, 2013 at 6:06 AM
The Associated Press story about the rumble on Mount Everest between three foreign climbers and a group for Sherpa guides put me in mind of how much Jim Whitaker says the experience has changed over the years.
According to one account, earlier this week, Sherpa guides were fixing ropes and digging a path above Camp 2. They asked three climbers to wait until they were finished. The climbers ignored them and some ice reportedly fell on the Sherpas. Later, the three climbers were confronted by a group of Sherpas and fisticuffs ensued. Later a truce was reached.
But the AP story notes that “Hundreds of climbers from 32 expeditions and their Sherpa guides and helpers are at the base camp waiting for the window of good weather in May to make their way to the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) summit.”
Fifty years ago Wednesday, Whittaker was the first American to summit at Mount Everest. He got to throw out the first pitch at the Mariner game on Sunday in celebration of the occasion.
In his Feb. 23 guest column in The Times, Whittaker worried that commercialization and the infrastructure that has sprung up to accommodate summiting hopefuls had also put more people in jeopardy. He compares the difference between his climb and the too-high death toll of 12 on Mount Everest last year from preventable conditions:
“In 1963, our expedition hired 32 Sherpas and 909 porters to help us carry 27 tons of equipment over a 185-mile trek from Katmandu to Everest Base Camp. As we progressed up the mountain, we entered a high-altitude wilderness composed of snow, rock and ice. For more than a month, we painstakingly laid bridges across cavernous crevasses, ladders up ice walls and installed fixed ropes. Our team was comprised of the strongest young men in the American mountaineering community: Many of us were professional mountain guides and ski patrollers who had years of high altitude, cold-weather climbing experience under our belts.
Today, the trek to Everest Base Camp has been reduced to a 45-minute airplane ride and a 40-mile hike. There are guesthouses with meals, beds and beer along the way — luxuries that we could only have dreamed of in 1963. There is also a plethora of guide services that promise the experience of a lifetime for a handsome fee. While some of the more respected and long-standing guide services will turn away inexperienced clients, there are a growing number of low-budget companies that have few prerequisites. As a result, the relative inexperience of those climbing the mountain has considerably increased.”
He goes on to talk about his son’s experience climbing Everest:
“In May 2012, my son, Leif Whittaker, sponsored by Eddie Bauer (the same company that supplied our down clothing and sleeping bags in 1963), reached the summit of Mount Everest for his second time. During the ascent, Leif was forced to wait for more than an hour just below the summit at 28,700 feet, while more than 100 climbers descended the fixed rope. Leif recalled that some were exhausted to the point of stumbling dangerously down the route.
Sadly, the 2012 season was the second-most-deadly year in the history of the mountain. Everest claimed 10 people, and if not for nearly perfect weather the day of Leif’s summit bid, the death toll could easily have been much worse. Causes of death were largely avoidable: exhaustion, altitude sickness, climbing too slowly, and the failure to recognize personal limits and turn around. Lack of climbing experience at high altitude in cold weather increases the likelihood of such problems.
April 30, 2013 at 6:10 AM
The charges North Korea filed against Kenneth Bae of Lynnwood last week are “unwarranted,” and he should be released, a U.S. State Department official said Monday.
“These charges, we believe, are completely unwarranted,” said Joseph Y. Yun, the acting assistant secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.“We really do urge North Korea to release him. There is no reason to hold him.”
As he spoke to a State Department briefing of the Association of Opinion Journalists, Yun hit the right notes about the man who has been in custody almost six months. My colleague Thanh Tan has written editorials urging attention to Bae’s plight. The Times last editorial said: “According to previous news reports, North Korean officials have charged Bae with committing ‘hostile acts against the republic.’ Political experts remain skeptical of the totalitarian state’s true motives. U.S. officials must exhaust diplomatic channels to get to the bottom of this.”
Yun noted that tensions between Pyongyang and Washington, D.C, have been especially heightened given North Korea’s recent nuclear tests and missile launches. The government of North Korea detained Bae last November while he was leading a tour near the border with China. Late last week, The government of North Korea announced it was charging Bae with trying to overthrow the government, according to this report by The Associated Press.
“As you know our consular office is represented by the Embassy of Sweden and they have visited him three or four times already,” Yun told about 20 editorial page editors,writers and columnists. “He should be … released on a humanitarian basis and also lack of substance.”
In a separate press conference a department spokesman said Swedish officials had visited him as recently as Friday.
April 23, 2013 at 12:26 PM
Our editorial writer Thanh Tan is a winner of the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi award for digital video
Congratulations to our colleague Thanh Tan for being part of a team that won a prestigious Sigma Delta Chi award for excellence in journalism in the online reporting/digital video category.
Thanh and her former colleagues at the Texas Tribune won for their report, entitled “Fertile Ground,” which examined the Texas Legislature’s deep funding cuts to family planning for low-income women. Also honored besides Thanh, who wrote and produced the series, was editor Emily Ramshaw and multimedia producer Justin Dehn.
Thanh joined the Seattle Times opinion department as a multimedia editorial writer last September. Check out her fine video production stylings in our ongoing “Education Conversations” video series, which highlights the thoughts of Washington’s education leaders. Editorial writer Lynne K. Varner interviewed the people featured.
All good work, worth taking a look at.
April 22, 2013 at 6:29 AM
After finishing my Sunday column about the need for requiring crisis intervention training for police officers, I was able to catch up to Bill and Joyce Ostling, who have a poignant personal story that makes the case for state funding unequivocally.
I was writing as the mother of a teen-ager with autism, but they come at the issue as parents who raised a son and helped him through a troubled adulthood, only to watch him be shot by a police officer at their own home. “It was horrible,” Joyce said on the phone. Doug had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was suspected of having Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism.
Their son, 43, died in October 2010. A federal jury concluded the City of Bainbridge Island and the police chief failed to provide adequate training — this story in The Times by reporters Ken Armstrong and Jonathan Martin, gives a chilling account of that night. (Jonathan has since joined the editorial page staff.) The Ostlings were awarded $1 million, according to this June 2012 story.
Bill and Joyce have been lobbying the Legislature to ensure what happened that night to their son never happens again.
April 18, 2013 at 9:00 AM
Washington’s new attorney general has been busy in his first 100 days, including following up on two ballot measures Washington voters approved in November.
Bob Ferguson, with Gov. Jay Inslee, met with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to make clear Washington would be implementing Initiative 502, marijuana legalization. Last week, Ferguson’s office filed a lawsuit against a Richland florist for refusing to create floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding. Voters approved Referendum 74, which affirmed a law legalizing same-sex marriage.
He found an hour to stop by The Times later Thursday. We’ve got lots on our agenda to talk about besides the above, including Hanford’s leaking tank problem and longterm nuclear waste storage problem.
What’s on your mind? Any question suggestions for us? Leave a comment below.
April 16, 2013 at 5:59 AM
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson last week reached across the Cascade Mountains to take a strong stand for Referendum 74, which Washington voters approved to legalize same-sex marriage.
According to a Seattle Times news story, Ferguson’s office sued Arlene’s Flowers of Richland in Benton County Superior Court for declining to create floral arrangements for the wedding of a longtime customer, a man who is marrying another man. The owner of the Richland shop, Barronelle Stutzman, said she could not perform the work because of her religious conviction.