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Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

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You are currently viewing all posts written by Thanh Tan. Thanh is a multimedia editorial writer. Prior to joining the editorial board of The Seattle Times, she was a political and general assignment reporter with local TV stations in Boise and Portland, an Emmy-winning reporter / producer / host with Idaho Public Television, and a multimedia reporter with The Texas Tribune in Austin. She has also contributed to "This American Life" and The New York Times. Born and raised in Olympia, Thanh graduated with honors from the University of Southern California. She loves food, music, politics, films, yoga, the outdoors and journalism. She lives in Capitol Hill.

January 30, 2015 at 2:33 PM

Bandwagon Seattle Seahawks fan or fan for life?

The Seahawks are back in the Super Bowl. Diehard fans gloat while newbies can’t jump on the bandwagon fast enough.

Members of the 12th Man gather on the capitol steps in Olympia on Friday, Jan. 30 for a "moment of loudness" in support of the Seattle Seahawks.  (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)

Members of the 12th Man gather on the capitol steps in Olympia on Friday, Jan. 30 for a “moment of loudness” in support of the Seattle Seahawks. (AP Photo/Rachel La Corte)

Some veteran members of the 12th Man are probably watching the stragglers with a Doug Baldwin-sized chip on their shoulders: “How many of you doubted us?” “Y’all didn’t believe in us!”

Okay, okay. Maybe it did take awhile for some fans to catch on.

What truly swept me in wasn’t the Seahawks’ late-season winning streak, but an ever-growing admiration for this particular team, this coach at this time. The synergy is undeniable and I don’t want it to end.

Take it all in, 12s. Something special is happening. There are no guarantees the euphoria will last beyond Sunday, but we can all revel in the incredible storylines that have emerged since that memorable NFC Championship game two weeks ago that sent Green Bay packing.

Seattle Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch stretches during a team practice for NFL Super Bowl XLIX football game, Friday, Jan. 30, 2015, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Seattle SeahawksMarshawn Lynch stretches during a team practice for NFL Super Bowl XLIX football game, Friday, Jan. 30, 2015, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Critics have compared the Seahawks big personalities to a band of misfits, but they’re OUR gritty misfits. In fact, they’re practically life coaches on the gridiron:


Comments | Topics: bandwagon, seahawks, Super Bowl

January 21, 2015 at 5:35 AM

Washington legislators must protect homeless students in K-12 schools

My column in today’s Seattle Times follows up with Solomon Muche, a young immigrant who overcame homelessness in high school and now studies at the University of Washington. He recently spoke to other kids staying at Mary’s Place about the importance of asking for help and finding opportunities to better their circumstances. Right now, thousands of children without permanent housing are struggling to get through the public education system.

University of Washington freshman Solomon Muche, 17, returns to Mary's Place in downtown Seattle to share his story of transitioning from homelessness to college student on Dec. 31, 2014. (Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

University of Washington freshman Solomon Muche (left), 17, returns to Mary’s Place in downtown Seattle to share his story of transitioning from homelessness to college student on Dec. 31, 2014. In the foreground, his little brother and Mary’s Place Executive Director Marty Hartman watch. (Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

Muche’s success is a testament to that age-old idea that everyone has potential, but they need someone to help them reach their goals. That “someone” for many students in Washington is the homeless student liaison, a position the state Legislature supports on paper and is required to provide under federal law, but has not been able to fund or expand to every district in the state.

Meanwhile, the Washington Legislature was informed on Monday of some bad numbers.  The state’s homeless-student population has jumped from 30,609 kids in the 2012-2013 school year to 32,494 the following academic year. As Seattle Times reporter Joseph O’Sullivan points out in this news story, some of that increase could be attributed to better data gathering. Whatever the reason, the problem is getting worse. Black and Native American kids in the K-12 system are three times more likely to be homeless compared to white students.


Comments | Topics: homelessness, king county, legislature

January 2, 2015 at 5:45 AM

Map: Why measuring disparities in King County matters

Government can’t solve all of society’s problems, but you have to applaud King County’s willingness to put out its annual Equity and Social Justice report for the sixth straight year. Released in late November, this document is a fascinating read because it measures access to those opportunities that are necessary for people to be…


Comments | Topics: health disparities, king county, map

December 17, 2014 at 9:35 AM

A glimpse inside Washington’s gun culture after Initiative 594

On Saturday morning, I found myself surrounded by knives, guns and ammo. Lots and lots of it.

Photo by Thanh Tan

Photo by Thanh Tan

I went with some friends to check out the first gun and knife show in Centralia since the roll-out of Initiative 594 on Dec. 4. The new law, passed overwhelmingly by a majority of voters, closes the “gun show loophole.” Under current federal law, background checks are required only for sales by licensed firearms dealers. I-594 expands those background checks to private transfers or sales, common to gun shows.

“Remember to dress Lewis County and not Seattle-USC,” my friend text messaged me beforehand. I think I blended in just fine, other than the fact I was one of only two people of color there. At the entrance of the venue, a huge sign read “NO LOADED GUNS.” Security guards at the entrance provided zip ties to help people lock guns they wanted to bring inside to trade.

Once inside, the whole thing felt like an indoor swap meet. The place had the festive mood of a holiday bazaar with a whole lot of camo colors. For about an hour, we perused aisles and aisles of rifles, shotguns, bullets, stun guns, handcrafted knives, holsters, jackets, war paraphernalia, National Rifle Association pamphlets on Second Amendment rights, and even dehydrated food for hunters. I could purchase an AR-15 assault-style rifle for $600. Or perhaps three gun cleaning kits for $90, as advertised in a sign that enticed buyers with this friendly reminder: “X-mas is coming! Best present ever! Will fit in man’s stocking!”


Comments | Topics: gun control, gun shows, gun violence

December 10, 2014 at 12:17 PM

The arrogance of Uber elsewhere hits home in Seattle

Corrected version Timing changes everything. When Uber started illegally operating  its taxi-like network in Seattle in 2013, I applauded the company’s disruptive business model because it filled a basic demand for transportation alternatives. Over the next year, the Seattle City Council and Mayor Ed Murray worked in good faith to establish a regulatory framework that allowed taxis to co-exist…


Comments | Topics: apps, rideservice, ridesharing

December 6, 2014 at 4:20 PM

How I learned it’s ridiculously easy to buy pot at Seattle medical marijuana dispensaries without a “green card”

Last summer, some friends visiting from the Southwest were full of questions about what it was like for us Washingtonians to come out of the shadows and just buy  marijuana over the counter, like civilized people. I  didn’t know, even though I voted for Initiative 502 to legalize recreational marijuana. When my friends tried to…


Comments | Topics: marijuana, pot, Seattle

December 4, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Recap: 8 things to know about Seattle, King County’s sex trafficking crisis

In case you missed Wednesday’s Google+ Hangout On Air about sex trafficking in Seattle, watch the full 43-minute video below. (To see the same video with links to related articles and resources, go to this link.)

I hosted the discussion featuring Tim Matsui, director of  “The Long Night,” King County senior deputy prosecutor Val Richey, Organization for Prostitution Survivors co-founder Noel Gomez, Seattle Against Slavery executive director Robert Beiser, and Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking executive director Mar Brettman.

The panel offered their insight on several key issues, including: the lack of data available to identify how many children are being commercially exploited, a disturbing rise in demand fueled by the Internet, the potential legalization of prostitution and ways the community can take action.

Watch “The Long Night” for free through the end of the week at

Below are excerpted quotes and takeaway points from the video chat that illustrate the complex nature of sex trafficking and potential solutions to prevent other kids from becoming victims of exploitation.

Prostitution is not a victimless crime.


Comments | Topics: Google, hangout, king county

December 2, 2014 at 4:49 AM

Replay: Video chat on sex trafficking in Seattle area

On Wednesday, The Seattle Times editorial section hosted a Google+ on-air Hangout with “The Long Night” filmmaker Tim Matsui and experts on the front line of the local battle to end child sex trafficking. For some background on the film, which streams free this week, read my Monday blog post and take a look at my recent column on the topic.

You can view the 43-minute video chat above.

Here’s the list of panelists who joined us: (Note: State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles did not appear in the hangout due to illness.)

Tim Matsui, a Seattle-based multimedia journalist and director of “The Long Night.” He spent one year between


Comments | Topics: Google, hangout, king county

December 1, 2014 at 6:03 AM

‘The Long Night’ film sheds real light on sex trafficking in Seattle, King County

How do we fix or prevent a problem if we don’t even understand its scope? That’s one of the questions that motivated me to write my most recent column on child sex trafficking.

In that piece, I mentioned Seattle journalist Tim Matsui’s film, “The Long Night.” Shot between fall 2012 and fall 2013, Matsui takes a journalistic approach to showing us what is happening to our young people on the streets. There is no judgmental narration or public shaming, as other sex trafficking films have done. Matsui does not have to tell viewers what to think or what is right and wrong. After seeing the film twice with different audiences, I can tell you viewers are moved to talk about the problem and do something. 

“I want people to have an emotional connection with the characters and to understand just how far-reaching the [sex trafficking] issue is, and how it comes from these root causes that we don’t generally think about,” he says. “Dysfunctional home life, domestic abuse, lack of education — these root causes create vulnerability that are then exploited.”

Over the next seven days, the  documentary will stream at this link for free. (After next week, streaming video of the film will only be viewable for a fee.)

Here’s a preview:

Prostitution in all forms is often perceived as a victimless crime. But once you associate sex trafficking with real people, especially children, does your perception change? Watch the film then join us here at the Opinion Northwest blog on Wednesday, Dec. 3, at 1 p.m. for a Google+ On-Air Hangout.

Matsui is scheduled to participate. We’re also working on getting other experts to share their knowledge of the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the Seattle area. Why is this happening? How many kids are affected? What can or should be done about it?

Have questions you want us to address? Send me an email at The hangout will be live, but a recording will be embedded on this site afterward. 


Comments | Topics: Documentary, king county, Seattle

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