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December 4, 2013 at 6:30 AM
The Northwest Passage has captured my imagination since my Pacific Northwest childhood as a final frontier for marine expedition, ambition and, well, cannibalism. That last part loomed large in my recollection of school lessons, so as the famed passage across the north coast of North America began opening in the past two centuries, I’ve been jarred back to images of the ultimate adventure gone wrong.
More news today: the National Academies of Science has a new report about the potential effects of climate change, including projections about the mid-century prospects for more routine sailing of the Northwest Passage. Overall, it’s a sobering report on the “tipping points” for abrupt impacts on societies, as The New York Times’ Andrew Revkin reports.
The 900-mile Northwest Passage, which skitters among the Canadian archipelago and above the Arctic circle, is one of the winners in the global lottery of climate change. The report suggests that the 900-mile passage will be navigable in midsummer by “moderately ice-strengthened ships” by around 2050, opening up a much shorter shipping route. Here is an excerpt:
The shipping distance between Shanghai and Rotterdam, for example, is approximately ~19,600 and ~25,600 km, respectively via the Suez or Panama canals, but only ~15,800 over the northern coast of Russia (the Northern Sea route) or ~17,600 km through the Canadian archipelago (the Northwest Passage).
October 29, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Will the umpteenth time be a charm for the House and Senate as lawmakers begin ironing out differences on a half-trillion dollar farm bill? I hope so. While both sides are in agreement on some parts of the five-year program – for example, eliminating $5 billion subsidy paid to farmers and landowners whether they grow crops or not – ugly battles over steep cuts to the food stamps program stalled past talks.
Not to mention the government shutdown. With that madness over, cooler heads ought to prevail on a compromise that sets smart, economical farm and nutrition policy for the next five years. Failure could mean higher milk prices and other food-related consequences outlined in this Seattle Times story. Also at stake is Washington state’s $40 billion agriculture industry, the third largest exporter in the nation and the source of 160,000 local jobs.
Conversations west of the Cascades have centered on the school nutrition program. That’s certainly a big deal to large and urban school districts, but jobs supported by the farm bill should resonate in the Seattle area as well. Nearly 40 percent of Washington jobs are dependent on trade. Agriculture products make up nearly 50 percent of the Port of Seattle’s total exports (totaling $4.3 billion) and support 22,000 port workers, according to a joint press release from Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell and U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene. (more…)
October 1, 2013 at 3:56 PM
The federal government shutdown could affect up to 50,000 federal employees in Washington state.
National forests and monuments, including Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens, closed Tuesday.
And U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray shuttered their district offices statewide.
Unless Congress strikes a deal, thousands of civilian workers considered nonessential to the federal courts and military bases are expected to be furloughed.
That means smaller paychecks and less money to spend at a time when the economy is experiencing a fragile recovery.
Have you seen any effects of the government shutdown? Tell us about it:
June 26, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., continues to demonstrate strong leadership on the issue of curbing media consolidation.
As the Federal Communications Commission undergoes an important review of media ownership guidelines, Cantwell and her colleagues on the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee are getting to know Thomas Wheeler, President Barack Obama’s nominee to become the next chair of the FCC.
In his first initial meeting before the panel last week, Cantwell told Wheeler the newspaper industry’s efforts to purchase more broadcasting stations should be scrutinized, especially after Gannett’s announcement it plans to purchase broadcasting giant Belo’s 23 television stations — including KING 5 in Seattle. Five of those broadcasters are in other cities where Gannett already owns a newspaper. Current rules prohibit media companies from owning multiple properties in the same market.
“And while the purchase is subject to the approval of both the FCC and DOJ, I think Gannett is trying to basically use these ownership rules, use the whole shared service agreement, as a way to get around those rules. So I’m very concerned about that whole issue,” she said.
Wheeler responded, “Senator, I understand the seriousness of this issue. And I have long been an advocate of diversity of voices. On the specific issue that you just raised, I also note that the chairman has asked the [Government Accountability Office] to opine on this issue. And I think that’s appropriate and called for. And I look forward to their opining, their opinion. But I think you said the key thing: that when the commission looks at these issues – competition, localism and diversity – are the issues that should be the touchstones. Not business plans.”
Watch the full June 18 Q&A between the senator and Wheeler in the video below, courtesy of Cantwell’s YouTube channel:
March 8, 2013 at 6:00 AM
I love it when stories come full circle.
President Barack Obama signed a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act Thursday following a year-long political battle in Congress. In a series of editorials since December, The Seattle Times editorial board also urged Congress to take bipartisan action on an issue that affects tens of thousands of victims.
“All women deserve the right to live free from fear. That’s what today is about.” —President Obama on the Violence Against Women Act #VAWA
— The White House (@whitehouse) March 7, 2013
Here’s a link to C-SPAN’s live coverage of the bill signing.
Several women from Washington attended the ceremony in Washington, D.C. Below is a photo of U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., the chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Theresa M. Pouley, chief judge of the Tulalip Tribal Court, and Deborah Parker, vice chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes.
Here’s Cantwell’s statement:
“This day was a long time coming, but it will mean a major step forward to better protect all victims of domestic violence. Perpetrators of domestic violence on Tribal reservations can no longer hide behind legal gaps and loopholes to escape justice. I appreciate the bipartisan leadership on this bill and know millions of women across America will now get the enhanced protection they deserve.”
Parker stood on stage beside the president as he signed S. 47 into law. Her harrowing story of child abuse on the reservation prompted U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., to take on the cause of preserving VAWA and expanding it to include extra protections for Native women, who are more likely than other groups to be abused and raped. (more…)
February 5, 2013 at 6:00 AM
The U.S. Senate took an important step Monday toward reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The chamber voted by a wide margin, 85-8, to move the bill forward. A final vote is expected later this week.
For a sober look at the domestic violence crisis, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., tweeted this infographic from the National Task Force to End Domestic Violence:
Here’s our newspaper’s editorial supporting immediate passage of this bill, which provides assistance to victims and prosecutes their abusers. The bipartisan measure sailed through the Senate last spring before it skidded to a halt in the House during a contentious election season.GOP leaders didn’t allow a vote on the upper chamber’s version of the bill.
Those same leaders are still in power. If they want to stay relevant, they should work with the Senate and pass something.
As we noted in our editorial, they must not squander a second chance to save lives.
U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., is reportedly taking the lead on VAWA for Republicans. She must respond to the needs of her own constituents here in Washington.
The state receives $9.3 million annually in VAWA funding. The money is used to help victims through 20 different organizations associated with tribes, YWCA chapters and government-assistance programs.
Grants run through September 2013, but advocates need to be able to plan for the long term.
Here’s a suggestion for Congress: It’s still early. Greenlight this latest bill before lawmakers become consumed by fierce debates over budget cuts, debt ceiling limits and immigration.
In his opening statement as co-sponsor of the bill, U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, pointed out a sobering statistic: since Jan. 1, four individuals in his home state have died from domestic abuse.
Overall, VAWA pays for a plethora of services to help the abused escape from violence and prosecute their perpetrators. This year’s expanded bill reflects the reality of today’s population. Funds would increase the government’s capacity to perform DNA testing on rape kits, identify and treat high-risk cases, push colleges to protect students, expand protection for gay and lesbian victims, and respond to an epidemic of abuse in tribal communities.
Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell both support VAWA. Murray released the following statement after Monday’s vote:
“Today’s vote brings us one step closer to finally renewing our national commitment to ending domestic violence. And while I’m encouraged by the renewed sense of bipartisanship on this issue in the Senate, and look forward to its passage in the near future, the ultimate fate of VAWA still lays squarely on the shoulders of Eric Cantor and John Boehner. They can either give in to the extreme voices of their caucus or they can stand with Democrats, moderate Republicans, and the many millions of Americans who believe there is no reason this critical bill should be put on the back burner or delayed any further. Too many women have been left vulnerable while House Republican leaders have played politics and I encourage the moderate Republican voices in the House to call on their leadership to pass the bipartisan Senate bill as soon as they are able.”
The Act technically expired in September 2011, but lawmakers have allowed funding through September 2013. The latest bill reauthorizes VAWA for five years. Read a news account of the bill’s recent troubles here.
Bottom line: Congress should pass VAWA now.