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Opinion Northwest

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

Category: Video
March 14, 2014 at 12:27 PM

Video: Workers struggle with loss of federal unemployment benefits

Corrected version

Unemployment is not an easy topic to write about. Much of the focus in media coverage is on faceless numbers and reports. Too often, Republicans and Democrats twist those figures for political purposes, sometimes accusing the jobless of abusing government assistance and refusing to better themselves. The naysayers forget the unemployed are real people struggling to raise families and make ends meet. The challenges they face are vastly different from one another, too.

Nearly 2 million Americans are struggling with long-term unemployment, which means they have not been able to find work after receiving a total of 26 weeks of state jobless benefits. Since 2008, Congress has kicked in emergency assistance at the 27-week mark to help these workers pay their bills as they continue to look for work. In December, Congress failed to extend this important lifeline, profoundly affecting the lives of people who are used to working, paying taxes and contributing to their local economies.

Calvin Graedel and Nichole Clemens are among the nearly tens of thousands of long-term unemployed Washington residents who stopped receiving temporary assistance after Dec. 28.

Watch their stories below.

Graedel, 60, worked as a regional sales manager until he lost his job in November 2012. Though he did well, saved his money and  invested in retirement, finding work has been anything but easy. He recently shared his story with us from his West Seattle home, which he is planning to put on the market this month:

Clemens, 36, worked as a medical-records clerk until March 2013. The single mother of two daughters says she was making $16 an hour. She feels the longer she has gone without work, the harder it has become to get an interview. She shared her story from an apartment in Kent, where she is behind on rent.

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0 Comments | More in Video | Topics: congress, federal unemployment extension, poverty

February 26, 2014 at 6:24 AM

Increased vigilance needed to prevent, treat obesity

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report published in The Journal of the American Medical Association indicates obesity rates have dropped among some toddlers, but the overall prevalence of the disease in kids and adults remains high.

Public health policies must continue to focus on prevention, especially among kids.

At the national level, First Lady Michelle Obama has fought hard to combat childhood obesity by launching the Let’s Move! campaign. She has appeared on Sesame Street and on late-night television numerous times to convince people of all ages to be active and to make healthful eating choices.

Here she is with Big Bird in the White House kitchen:

And here’s a hilarious (and highly effective) video encouraging Americans to be active, featuring the First Lady and “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon in a segment called “Evolution of Mom Dancing”:

Obama makes exercise look fun and hip, but for many Americans— changing behavior is incredibly difficult.

Though this New York Times news story highlights a promising 43 percent drop in obesity among 2 and 5-year-old children over the last ten years, the CDC reported no significant reductions among other groups during that same period.

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0 Comments | More in Video | Topics: cdc, childhood obesity, michelle obama

February 24, 2014 at 1:02 PM

RIP, Alice Herz-Sommer

Alice Herz-Sommer may not have set out to change minds, but her essence and love for the piano transcended time, politics and the horrors of Hitler’s concentration camps.

The world’s oldest pianist and Holocaust survivor passed away over the weekend. What a life she lived. She won’t be remembered as a victim, but for her incredible sense of optimism.

“Every day in life is beautiful,” she would say. And she believed it, despite a life of profound suffering over the course of her 110 years, including the loss of her home in Prague, her parents and her husband after the German occupation of Czechoslovakia.

I had not known about Herz-Sommer’s life story until Friday night, when I saw the Oscar-nominated documentary short film based on her life, “The Lady in Number 6.” Here’s a preview of this poignant meditation on survival, aging and music as salvation.

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0 Comments | More in Video | Topics: alice herz-sommer, holocause, obituary

February 7, 2014 at 6:06 AM

President Obama says a prayer for Kenneth Bae

Former Washington resident Kenneth Bae gained an important ally on Thursday when President Barack Obama personally called for his release from a North Korean labor camp.

The president mentioned Bae in his remarks during Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast, which can be viewed at about the 16:39 mark in this video from the White House’s YouTube channel:

The Seattle Times has written numerous editorials (including this latest one posted Jan. 26) encouraging the U.S. State Department to help Bae’s family, based in Edmonds and Lynnwood. The 45-year-old American citizen was captured in November 2012 while guiding tourists through North Korea.

Obama’s attention to this issue can only help. On Wednesday, Reuters reports the four last surviving members of Congress to serve in the Korean War wrote a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un asking for Bae’s release on humanitarian grounds.

Hopefully, the North Koreans take notice.

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0 Comments | More in Video | Topics: kenneth bae, north korea, Obama

January 22, 2014 at 6:59 AM

Seahawks: The 12th Man around and on top of the world

Seahawks fans sent images of themselves from around the world in 12th Man gear in response to my Monday blog post about a Tacoma native living in Paris.

The most impressive entry came from Gordon Prinster of West Seattle, who shared a video of himself planting a 12th Man flag at 22,837 feet on Mount Aconcagua in Argentina on Jan. 4. Aconcagua is the tallest peak in the Americas.

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0 Comments | Topics: seahawks

January 16, 2014 at 6:15 AM

As Kenneth Bae remains imprisoned, PBS ‘Frontline’ exposes real North Korea

If you want to get a real sense of life inside North Korea, stop looking at the photos of Dennis Rodman’s ill-advised trip earlier this month to Pyongyang to celebrate Kim Jong Un’s birthday.

Instead, watch the latest “Frontline” from PBS called “Secret State of North Korea.” Here’s the trailer:

Director Jim Jones worked with journalists to obtain grainy, sometimes-horrifying video from inside the country. Glimpses of daily life there show mass oppression, orphaned children, fake luxury storefronts, and over-the-top efforts to exalt Kim’s image.

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0 Comments | More in Video | Topics: frontline, kenneth bae, north korea

January 7, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Dennis Rodman, ex-NBA players cannot dodge Kenneth Bae questions

CNN Anchor Chris Cuomo grilled Dennis Rodman on Tuesday about imprisoned American Kenneth Bae, and the former NBA star lost it.

Watch the video below. Rodman and a team of ex-NBA players were interviewed from Pyongyang, where they are scheduled to participate in an exhibition game Wednesday with North Korean players.

Rodman’s incoherent answers are a poor attempt to deflect attention from North Korea’s recent human rights abuses. Aside from the recent execution of leader Kim Jong Un’s once-powerful uncle, the regime has held former Washington resident and tour operator Kenneth Bae for more than one year.

Here is The Seattle Times’ most recent editorial calling for Bae’s release. Last May, Rodman took to Twitter to ask for Bae’s release. He has since changed his tune — and then some.

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0 Comments | More in Video | Topics: cnn, Dennis Rodman, kenneth bae

December 31, 2013 at 6:00 AM

How to keep New Year’s resolutions: Tiny habits

You’re thinking about those New Year’s resolutions, right? In 2014 you’re going to shed those extra pounds! Get healthy. Sleep more. Be 100 percent debt-free.

How many have failed time and again to accomplish big, broad goals because of the rush to achieve results? Maybe they didn’t examine the process. Or form a realistic plan. My own tendency to attempt extreme changes is rarely sustainable beyond a few days, whether it’s getting up at 5 a.m. to work out or attempting a juice cleanse.

Maybe we need to stop being so hard on ourselves. Change things up by starting really small, says BJ Fogg, a social scientist and director of Stanford University’s Persuasive Tech Lab. Watch his TED Talk below on forming tiny habits to reach long-term goals:

According to a recent University of Scranton survey published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, about 45 percent of Americans make new year’s resolutions. Eight percent are successful; 49 percent report “infrequent” success; 24 percent report they’ve failed each year.

Below is a list of the study’s top resolutions for 2014. Look familiar?

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0 Comments | Topics: bj fogg, new year, resolutions

August 13, 2013 at 11:45 AM

‘The Campaign’ shows how Prop. 8 ignited marriage-equality revolution

This Seattle Times news account of state Sen. Ed Murray’s marriage last Saturday to his long-time partner Michael Shiosaki warmed a lot of hearts, including mine. Murray, a Seattle Democrat, fought well over a decade to convince a majority of his fellow lawmakers to support legalizing same-sex marriage. Patience pays off. The two wed exactly 22 years from the day they met during a hike to Mount Rainier.

The political wedding of the season happened just a few days before the highly anticipated documentary film “The Campaign” is scheduled to screen Thursday at SIFF Uptown in Seattle at 7:30 p.m. KCTS 9 will broadcast the film next Sunday at 11pm. Here’s a preview:

Aw, that’s right. Four years before Washington state voters made history by becoming one of the first electorates in the union to affirm marriage equality, there was the 2008 campaign in California for and against Proposition 8, a measure by same-sex marriage opponents to define marriage in that state’s constitution as a union between one man and one woman. Two lower courts ruled the amendment was unconstitutional before the case reached the Supreme Court of the United States. Last June, the justices ruled they had no authority to decide on the case, thereby allowing California to resume same-sex marriages. (Read the Wikipedia explanation of this rather complex legal battle at this link.)

The stunning outcome of that election raised our collective consciousness and ignited a revolution (and lots of fundraising) in states outside California, including right here Washington. It forced a mainstream discussion about gay marriage not just as a social or political wedge problem but as an issue of human rights and personal freedom.

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0 Comments | Topics: Documentary, ed murray, prop 8

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