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December 6, 2013 at 6:15 AM
Twenty-three Washington lawmakers have asked Gov. Jay Inslee to “conduct a thorough, comprehensive assessment of the full economic impact of the coal export proposals on Washington State.” A wholly appropriate request and inquiry.
Led by state Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, the legislators want to know the net economic costs of siting coal export facilities in the state.
The job creation potential of coal export terminals near Bellingham and Longview are prominently mentioned by proponents, but the additional infrastructure costs for cities and towns along the statewide path of the trains does not get tallied.
Carlyle and others have asked for the broadest possible environmental assessment of the projects. But as the legislator from Seattle’s 36th District notes, there is no requirement in the permitting process “to develop an objective balance sheet of the full costs and benefits of these proposals.” How much will taxpayers end up paying to subsidize the expansions and upgrades of roads and bridges and other civic infrastructure to accommodate and remediate for daily streams of coal trains?
Carlyle, who chairs the House Finance Committee, and the 22 co-signers of the Dec. 2nd letter make clear their fiduciary responsibilities to taxpayers. A duty the governor has as well. Run the whole tab on these coal terminals.
December 3, 2013 at 6:15 AM
Moral paragon and ethical authority Rush Limbaugh is wagging a finger at Pope Francis for his essay calling on church leaders and lay persons to use their faith to empower efforts to help the poor and needy.
Just imagine a spiritual leader going off like that.
“Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel) has ticked off Limbaugh, a conservative entertainer with lots of airtime to fill. No doubt his talk-show producers saw the pope’s 224-page statement as something of a blessing during a slow season for news. They could turn out an indignant script faster than a Christmas wishlist.
I did not read every word of the document. Of course, neither did Limbaugh. Much of the message asks the leaders and members of the Roman Catholic Church to look around them and acknowledge the economic conditions that grip so many people. Pope Francis challenges the faithful to rethink how their parishes and community organizations might better help others.
The pope wants his readers to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality:
“Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless.”
Such prose certainly grabbed the attention of Limbaugh’s topic-fodder minions. The pope was preaching “pure Marxism,” Limbaugh faithfully repeated. Rush must have dropped his bacon-clad maple bar and eggnog latte a couple of paragraphs farther down in the papal missive:
“In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories, which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”
Well, maybe the pope did get a bit cheeky as the U.S. economy was in the throes of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping frenzies: “In the prevailing culture, priority is given to the outward, the immediate, the visible, the quick, the superficial and the provisional. What is real gives way to appearances.”
Limbaugh might have lost a few of his ardent listeners to the pope’s truth speaking in light of bursting economic bubbles that did not discriminate by political ideology. The pope counseled his followers to say no to a financial system that rules rather than serves. Amen.
Rush and I both got something out of Pope Francis’ treatise. And we are each, in our own way, grateful.
November 28, 2013 at 9:00 AM
Take a moment this Thanksgiving Day 2013 to pause and acknowledge those things – great and small – that resonate in your life. Most of us never slow down long enough to do that humble bit of accounting.
Please use the comment space to share what you are thankful for.
The Pilgrims in 1621 celebrated a good harvest. Previous years had brought all manner of natural disasters and hardships. They recognized an opportunity to enjoy and be grateful for a change of fortune.
November 27, 2013 at 6:10 AM
Leadership is all about getting out in front of controversial issues, even when the best of intentions are often willfully misread. A holiday campaign to reduce the threat of gun violence for children via discounts on gun safes, lockboxes and trigger locks is an absolute winner.
The “Safe Storage Saves Lives” campaign developed by Public Health – Seattle and King County is an inspired effort to promote the use of safety devices on weapons kept in thousands of homes. Congratulations to public health director Dr. David Fleming, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Sheriff John Urquhart, participating gun dealers, and 20 participating law enforcement agencies for stepping forward Monday to promote the ideal holiday shopping event. Thank you.
As explained at this King County site, starting November 25, 2013 through December of 2014, mention Public Health or LOK-IT_UP and receive 10-15 percent off select storage devices or lock boxes at participating retailers. The initial list of 15 shops and their locations is at the site.
Proximity to firearms is reflected in tragic statistics available for review via this county link. Homicides, accidents and suicides aided and abetted by easy access to weapons. The risks and hazards are compounded students who show up on school grounds with guns from home. (more…)
November 22, 2013 at 6:15 AM
Well, yes I do. I was rising out of a chair to leave Mrs. Benson’s freshmen high-school English class, when someone burst in with the news.
I remember being shocked, but really more confused.
Assassinate the president? Shoot the President of the United States? That does not happen now. That was Abraham Lincoln, and all that Civil War stuff. Not our young president, with a pretty wife and little kids.
I was in elementary school when John F. Kennedy was elected. The politics were generally lost on me, but he was replacing that old guy, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Sure he was a former general and all that, but World War II ended 15 years before the 1960 election. Ancient history.
Richard Nixon was the candidate in the TV debates with the sweaty upper lip and needed a shave. Hadn’t he given a speech about his dog Checkers, or something weird like that? Nixon and Ike were relics of the boring 1950s. Kennedy was for the Sixties, the future.
Kennedy won office and was the cool president. He gave speeches about space travel, and promoted 50-mile hikes and physical fitness. As a result, in grade-school gym class we were serenaded with choruses of “Go, you chicken fat, go!” Kennedy was the Peace Corps and the Green Berets. The Cuban Missile Crisis was scary, but Kennedy backed down that shoe-pounding commie Khrushchev.
Suddenly the news is of shots fired in Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Then the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald, and later seeing him gunned down on television as he is escorted by police. And the picture of Vice President Lyndon Johnson being sworn in with JFK’s widow next to him. All to be followed by decades of conspiracy theories.
November 22, 1963. A long time ago. Share your memories.
Eventually the question will be asked: Where were you on Sept. 11, 50 years ago?
November 20, 2013 at 6:15 AM
International observers did a double take when Albania said “no” to the U.S. request to dispose of Syria’s chemical weapons supply. “What happens now?” is one question, but Albania’s refusal to its U.S. ally caused heads to turn as well.
As a prior blog post explained, Albania and the U.S. are close, and the country on the Adriatic Sea has bailed America out of some awkward diplomatic spots.
This looked like another opportunity. Albania even has experience cleaning up its own 16-ton chemical weapons arsenal, with U.S. technical and financial support, as explained by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
This time Albanians rallied to oppose the clean-up request, even as organizers made clear they respected and valued the friendship of the U.S.
The “what happens next?” phase is not clear. Belgium was on the short lists of candidates, and that country said no. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical weapons, a Nobel Peace Prize winner this year, had a timetable for removal and disposal of the weapons from Syria. Reuters reports the U.S. still hopes to meet that schedule. (more…)
November 15, 2013 at 6:15 AM
Good intentions will not relieve the suffering caused by the typhoon-inflicted disaster that struck the Philippines. Two fine Associated Press stories stirred some belated confidence that help is on the way.
AP National Writer Sharon Cohen provided a measure of truth-telling with a plea to those who wish to help: send a financial donation to a reputable charity. Donated “stuff” is of no use. Disasters around the world produce photos of bales of T-shirts shipped overseas in the name of helping the hungry, homeless and injured.
I view these shipments of useless supplies as more inspired by an opportunity to clean out the closet and write-up a nice gilded tax deduction, than any real instinct to help.
Any size donation to the Red Cross, World Vision, Mercy Corps or the religious outlet of one’s choice can provide money to buy local supplies, provide the exact items that are desperately needed by the storm victims and boost the local economy.
Another AP story, over the bylines of Oliver Teves and Kristen Gelineau, reported the arrival of the USS George Washington aircraft carrier, a destroyer and two huge supply ships. Helicopters, equipment and expertise will made a huge difference.
The story described a kind of tragic taxonomy of disaster relief. Supplies arrive in a central area, but sit waiting to be delivered to the scene of all the suffering. They finally get sent to a local airport or distribution site, but there is no gasoline or fuel for local vehicles to get the goods to remote areas, or even nearby.
Here is a link to places to send donations to route financial aid to the Philippines.
November 13, 2013 at 6:15 AM
Locking down Syria’s chemical weapons was a diplomatic triumph. Getting that lethal arsenal out of the hands of a dictator willing to use them was a very big deal. Of course, most of us never think about what happens next.
As a story by the Tribune Washington Bureau explains, the default option for the United States is asking Albania to take on another dirty job. Norway had been asked, and said, “no.” Albania is thinking about it. Turns out the country has taken on all sorts of unsavory tasks when no one else would bother. The U.S. has deposited foreign prisoners and dissidents in Albania that would not be housed in America, or sent home.
Now the job is destroying 1,300 tons of chemical agents and 1,300 tons of munitions to deliver the toxic weapons. Albania took all sorts of non-hazardous trash from European neighbors for decades. The country got out of that business, but destroying chemical weapons could be a lucrative assignment.
One can assume no country takes on this kind of nasty chore unless it is economically desperate enough to need the work. Albania is considered a friend of America, with ties that date back nearly a century. A friend is doing the world a favor.
November 8, 2013 at 6:15 AM
The U.S. Supreme Court is mulling over whether the formal institutions of government, in our “one nation under God,” can include so-called legislative prayers to launch their sessions. One must note, of course, the court’s day began with the request, “God save the United States and this honorable court.”
The Almighty is invoked in city halls, legislatures and Congress as a matter of course. What was once undeniably a Christian theme, has been modified over time to include – in some places – the invocations of Jewish and Muslim leaders, Wiccans and others. Typically the practice of prayers in governmental settings is more about tradition, protocols and reflex than humble entreaties to God for guidance.
I want the houses and institutions of government to be open and welcoming to all. And as the U.S. Constitution provides, there is no religious test to be a senator or a dog catcher. Spare me another round of battles about prayer in school. I will leave it to the students to silently seek spiritual support before a test or an athletic event.
Can the president invoke the Almighty at the end of a speech or in a time of national crisis? Yes, of course. That person was chosen by the voters to lead the country with full knowledge of values and expectations of behavior as the nation’s CEO.
Leaders guided by religious values and an inclusive spirit that respects a nation grounded in religious freedom are highly desirable. And that spirit of freedom must include believers and non-believers of all stripes.
City council sessions that do not open with a prayer are not diminished by that choice. All citizens should be comfortable in the houses of government. Supreme court justices and lawmakers fumbling around for the right package of words to make prayers acceptable need some self-awareness.
A one-size-fits-all approach to religion in public life misses the point entirely. Our system presumes neutrality on religion and that should be respected.
In the realm of worship, our leaders can set an example in their private lives, not by rote public performance.
November 6, 2013 at 6:15 AM
Bringing down the cost of health care, or keeping it from soaring ever higher, requires constant vigilance. Those best positioned to rip off the system are more than willing to do so.
Washington is set to receive a record Medicaid fraud settlement of $21.4 million. That is the state’s share of $1.72 billion Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. will pay states and the federal government to make the fraud charges go away. Another $485 million in criminal fines will be paid.
Washington’s participation in the settlement was announced Tuesday by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. He explained in a statement the case was about unlawful marketing practices for two antipsychotic drugs, Risperdal and Invega. They were allegedly being peddled for “off-label” uses not approved by the Federal Drug Administration.
Janssen recently settled similar allegations in another situation. Washington state received $4.6 million in that 2012 resolution.
In the current settlement, Washington’s $21.4 million share will be divided, with roughly half going into the state’s Medicaid services system - and also for fraud detection and prevention. The other half will go to the federal government for administration of Medicaid in Washington. The feds cover half of this state’s Medicaid costs.
The pursuit of waste, fraud and abuse in the medical system and healthcare is a big, endless task. These kinds of cases build an argument for a federal single-payer system that operates with lower overhead, and provides for rigorous oversight and accounting of expenditures.