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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Guest Editorial: Parks Should Serve Everyone, so Vote "For" Seattle's Proposition 1

Posted by on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 1:26 PM

Seattle City Council Member Mike OBrien: Join me in voting for Prop. 1 on the August primary ballot.
  • Seattle City Council
  • Seattle City Council Member Mike O'Brien: Join me in voting for Prop. 1 on the August primary ballot.

Neighborhood parks make Seattle a wonderful place to live. With the ballot you should have just received, you get to vote on whether you want to make them even better. I hope you will join me in voting “Yes for Parks” on Prop 1.

From the old growth forest of Seward Park to the beaches of Golden Gardens, our parks are Seattle’s front yard, where neighbors come together to spend time with friends and families, especially on hot summer days.

Parks are also Seattle’s most progressive institution, serving everyone equally across all neighborhoods and walks of life. At least that’s the ideal, if not the current reality.

In fact, Tim Eyman’s initiatives and the Great Recession have moved us away from this ideal. Currently, our public parks operate on a “pay to play” system, with many people priced out of public sports leagues and community center programs. In some neighborhoods–typically those with lower-income residents–community centers are only open 25 hours per week. In other more-affluent neighborhoods, residents use private donations to keep their community centers open longer hours.

This is not right. Our public parks and community centers should serve everyone, without regard to income level or neighborhood. We can do better. And as the fastest growing city in the nation, we must.

Prop 1 would help correct this injustice by creating a Seattle parks district with taxing authority that will provide stable, ongoing funding dedicated to Seattle’s neighborhood parks and community centers.

Some ask, “why not another levy?”

Continue reading »

Seattle Public Schools Under Federal Investigation After Garfield Parents Allege the District Botched a Sexual Assault Investigation

Posted by on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 1:06 PM

Garfield High School
  • Seattle Public Schools Archives
  • Garfield High School
Last year, we discovered that Seattle Public Schools was under federal investigation for racial disparities in the school district's disciplinary practices. As Al Jazeera America reports this week, Seattle Public Schools is also one of the 23 school districts the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is investigating for Title IX violations related to sexual assault.

Claire Gordon at Al Jazeera reports on the specific, disturbing case that prompted the federal investigation:

“I expected the school to say, ‘Something went terribly wrong, and we’re going to get to the bottom of it,’” Emily’s father said. “But that never happened.”

Under Title IX, a school must conduct a prompt investigation into any report of sexual assault and determine whether it is “more likely than not” that it happened—a completely separate process from a criminal investigation, with a much lower burden of proof. In its policy, Seattle Public Schools says it will respond to reports within 30 days.

But the district didn’t begin to investigate the incident with Emily until six months after the alleged incident and only at the parents’ insistence, records and emails show. It took 14 months for the district to conclude that there was “insufficient evidence” that she was a “victim of harassment.”

Title IX also requires the investigation to be “equitable.” But the Millers said it was so deeply skewed that the district was essentially an advocate for the boy.

A June 2013 draft of the district’s report (a final one was never prepared) didn’t include Emily’s side of the story at all...

The parents, in this case, went into debt treating their daughter's resulting mental health issues and eventually moved away from Seattle. The district has answered very few questions about the case. At least one school board member, according to e-mails obtained by Al Jazeera, seems to have found the district's response to these parents problematic.

Title IX's prohibitions against sex discrimination in education include specific requirements for addressing complaints of sexual assault and harassment—and Gordon writes that, based on school records and e-mails, it appears SPS administration didn't understand Title IX's application in this case. Horrible errors like that not only create an unsafe learning environment for students, they also open up the (already under-funded) district to costly litigation. We'll see what happens when the federal Title IX report comes out. But the district had better get their act together: As Gordon reports, there were at least 47 student victims of a "sexual offense" at SPS in the last school year.

Read the whole story right here.

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No, No, NO: Seattle's Hurricane Cafe Is Closing

Posted by on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 12:50 PM

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  • facebook.com/TheHurricaneCafe

At the end of this year, Seattle will lose yet another landmark old-school spot: the Hurricane Cafe. Guess who bought the downtown property and will be tearing the Hurricane down? Amazon (under the name of its cuter, smaller-sounding affiliate Acorn Development LLC).

Owner Neil Scott confirms that after two decades of 24-7 service, the Hurricane's last day will be New Year's Day 2015 (which is considerate for those who'll need it after New Year's Eve partying). Before it was the Hurricane, the space was the also-awesomely-divey, also-24-hours the Dog House for approximately a grazillion years—and before that, it was another 24-hour place called the Bohemian Continental, which moved into the building in the 1920s, meaning almost 100 years of 24-hour service on the site. Scott started out as a dishwasher at Beth's Cafe (which, miraculously, is staying open, for now, as far as we know), and was at the Hurricane when it opened. He says he's got two employees now who've been at the Hurricane for a dozen years, two more who've been there for a decade, and two clocking in at seven years each. Morale is "pretty good," he says. "Everybody's sticking around until the end."

"It’s not the way we wanted to go out for sure—losing a lease and getting torn down," he says. "But we’re a standalone building downtown with a parking lot—it was bound to happen."

NOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooo.......................

Thanks, Slog tipper Justin.

What Do You Think of the 50 Shades of Grey Trailer?

Posted by on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 12:28 PM

The 50 Shades of Grey trilogy aroused readers (and mortified critics) all over the world with its Twilight-lifted plot and its poorly written S&M romance. Next Valentine's Day, the film adaptation of the first Shades book will hit movie theaters all over America. The first trailer for the movie was released today. Here it is:

I think we can all agree that the slowed-down version of "Crazy in Love" on the soundtrack is a travesty. But what about everything else in the trailer?

Light in the Attic to Reissue Mystery Troubadour Lewis' Romantic Times

Posted by on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 12:15 PM

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Remember that post from last week on mysterious singer/songwriter Lewis and his long-lost 1983 LP L’Amour? Well, Seattle-based Light in the Attic Records just announced that there’s a second Lewis full-length called Romantic Times, with an even better cover than L’Amour’s glamorous portrait, due out soon. (Lewis is credited as "Lewis Beloue" on this second record.)

LITA co-owner Matt Sullivan said that his label obtained one of two known copies of Romantic Times from Canadian collector Kevin "Sipreano" Howes “a few months back and have been working on the reissue ever since.” The other original copy is currently on eBay, with bidding at $1,725.

Recorded in 1985 with engineer Dan Lowe at Calgary’s Thunder Road Studio, Romantic Times continues in the same lush, lugubrious vein as L’Amour, but might be even darker in tone, according to liner-note writer Jack D. Fleischer. “Something had gone wrong [after L’Amour was released]. Nerves were clearly exposed.”

You can listen to snippets of Romantic Times and read more about it here. The album is now available digitally via LITA. A CD release is slated for Aug. 26 and vinyl for Nov. 18.

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BREAKING: Congress Does Something

Posted by on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 12:09 PM

What with all the war and all the airplanes falling from the sky, this snuck under the radar, but Tuesday Obama signed the sexily titled Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Here's the real shocker, though: The bill enjoyed widespread bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House.

The Act is in essence a reauthorization of President Clinton's Workforce Investment Act of 1998; it targets the long-term unemployed by providing Federal money to state and city retraining programs with updated, data-driven supervision and accountability. The aim is to measure success not by how many workers sign up for training, but how many workers actually find jobs after that training, as well as what they get paid.

"[T]raining programs that use federal money will be required to make public how many of its graduates find jobs and how much they earn," the President said at the signing. "And that means workers, as they’re shopping around for what’s available, they’ll know in advance if they can expect a good return on their investment." The bill is a result of a six-month review headed by Vice President Joe Biden, who visited different parts of the country reviewing state and city plans:

Back in March, he visited New Hampshire, where an innovative on-the-job training program has helped nearly 700 people get new jobs since 2010. There he stopped at XMA Corp., a small manufacturer that has hired about a half-dozen people so far using the program.

And Biden was clearly impressed. "We're trying to replicate what you're doing all over the country," he told XMA workers.

The program targets the long-term unemployed and pays up to 90 percent of the employee's salary while a company trains him or her to fill an opening.

Here again we see the government stepping in to fill a role that businesses used to supply but often no longer feel responsible for. Still it's maybe a promising sign for Congress, and this rare emergence from stasis deserves a slow clap. Good job doing your job, elected representatives. “Let’s do this more often," Obama said. "It’s so much fun!” As we all know, it's still the economy, stupid, and Americans at large aren't going to give much of a shit about the environment, foreign policy, or social issues until the middle class—the pistons of our economic engine—stops hemorrhaging its insides.

Via New York Times

Gaza Explosions Seen from Space

Posted by on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 11:54 AM

It is claimed by a number of tweets and newspapers that explosions from the current conflict in Gaza can be seen in this image, which was taken from the International Space Station...

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  • International Space Station & NASA

The space station orbits 200 miles above our sad planet...

Could This Be the Ultimate #Grunge2 Reunion Show?

Posted by on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 11:48 AM

As I eluded to back in March, two '80s bands of Seattle proto-grunge lineage—the Thrown Ups and Mr. Epp and the Calculations— have joined forces in a semi-reunion-supergroup-kinda-thing they're calling the Thrown Epps. The night's players include Jo "Mr. Epp" Smitty, Mark Arm (yes, that Mark Arm), John Leighton Beezer, Ed Fotheringham, Scott Schickler, and Michael Falhauber, but who knows who else might show up?

No future shows are currently booked, but nerds can dream: It may not be a one-off. Vocalist Jo Smitty says the performance will be recorded and released, and they have talked about recording with "godfather of grunge" Jack Endino (he recorded unknowns like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Tad), but anything is possible at this point. This could be the ultimate #grunge2 reunion show, at the Central Saloon, of all places— so don't miss out.

Show starts at 9 and is totally free!

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Two Shot Outside Bank in Central District

Posted by on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 11:44 AM

One bank security guard and a suspect have been injured in a Central District shooting, the Seattle Police Department Twitter feed reports. The security guard, 46, who is in serious condition, was in a scuffle with the 30-year-old suspect, who is in critical condition with life-threatening injuries. Both men are enroute Harborview Medical Center. The intersection of 23rd Avenue South and South Jackson Street is closed. More details as they come.

UPDATE AT NOON: Police say the shots were fired from the same gun—the security guard's gun. The two got into an altercation and the suspect took the gun and shot the guard; then, police explain somewhat vaguely, the suspect was "also injured by gunfire." It's not clear at this time if the suspect shot himself.

Paul Ryan Has a New Plan to Fine Poor People for Being Poor

Posted by on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 11:31 AM

Every so often I'll see someone write about Paul Ryan's presidential prospects in 2016. I like to pretend those pieces are satire. Ryan was a lackluster vice-presidential choice in 2012. He wasn't especially interesting, people seemed to dislike him—he even lost his own hometown to President Obama—and his proposals are so far to the right that he turns off independent voters.

Take, for instance, Ryan's newest plan, which would combine multiple federal anti-poverty programs into one massive anti-poverty program that would disseminate money to states. The states could use that money however they want, so long as they follow a series of strict guidelines:

In the envisioned scenario providers would work with families to design a customized life plan to provide a structured roadmap out of poverty. When crafting a life plan, they would include, at a minimum:

• A contract outlining specific and measurable benchmarks for success
• A timeline for meeting these benchmarks
Sanctions for breaking the terms of the contract
• Incentives for exceeding the terms of the contract
• Time limits for remaining on cash assistance

So the party of small government wants to explicitly tell poor people how to live their lives, force the poor people to sign a contract promising they will do what the government tells them to do, and then penalize them if they do not follow that plan to the letter? Uh-huh.

I don't think even Ryan expects this plan to pass. I think he's doing his job as a Republican Party lackey, which is to keep pushing the idea of normal behavior further and further to the right until eventually, a few years down the line, someone else can re-present the Ryan plan as a completely sensible Republican solution. (I wrote about this tactic last year during the government shutdown.) This kind of monstrous bullshit would have been laughed out of the room even ten years ago; now it's the sort of thing Republicans get all horny over. We can't allow him to normalize horrible shit like this.

Win The Only Two VIP All Access Passes to Bianca Del Rio in the WORLD!

Posted by on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Hullooooomosexuals! As exhaustively detailed in this week's Homosexual Agenda...well, you know. Bianca Del Rio! The winner of RuPaul's Drag Race Season 6! The evil bitch (um, in a good way?) that unseated our darling Jinkx! Exactly. Well, she is here tonight, Thursday the 24th, appearing at indeed no less than THREE wondrous events at the Baltic Room that YOU can experience live and allegedly “in person”. You can even meet her and get your pretty picture taken… that is IF you are clutching VIP ALL ACCESS PASSES in your hot little hands. And you aren't! I know it for a fact! Those suckers have been sold out for weeks, and there was only a wee fist full of them to begin with. However! I am in sole possession of the only two All-Access VIP Passes left in the known universe, and you want them, you know you do. They will get you into the Second Annual Drag Auction (hosted by Bianca Del Rio), Revolution Thursdays (hosted by Bianca Del Rio), the VIP meet-n-greet (hosted by Bianca Del Rio), the Toast and Roast (hosted by...yeah, you know who)—the whole chalupa! And to get them, the first step is retweet the tweet below by 3 p.m. today, and I'll put your name into the proverbial hat. The winner will be chosen at random, of course. Hurry! You really don't want to keep this bitch Bianca waiting.


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Oil Train Derails Under Magnolia Bridge

Posted by on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 10:17 AM

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  • Courtesy of Josh Fogt

"Thankfully there appears to be no leaking, but this is exactly the type of accident that should alarm us all about oil trains coming through our city," Seattle City Council Member Mike O'Brien tells me by phone from the scene. He spearheaded a council letter sent this week to federal regulators demanding an immediate ban on DOT-111 tanker cars.

As KOMO reports:

The train was traveling under the Magnolia Bridge at about 5 mph at the time. Two of the tankers are leaning, and one at a 45-degree pitch will be pumped out. It holds 27,000 gallons of oil. No one was injured.

Continue reading »

The Morning News: Yet Another Plane Crash

Posted by on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 8:58 AM




Another Plane Crash: The Air Algerie plane was en route to Algiers from Burkina Faso in West Africa with 116 aboard when it crashed in Mali. No word at this writing about survivors.

Yesterday's Plane Crash: An investigation is launched, with typhoon weather expected to be a factor. Forty-eight people died.

The Plane Crash in the Ukraine: A compromised wreckage site, possible missing evidence, a no-extradition rule in Russia, the right of Russia to veto bringing cases before the International Criminal Court, and more make the prospects for any kind of justice, or even answers, bleak.

At Least 15 Killed at UN School in Gaza: Israeli tank shells hit the compound where people were had sought shelter from heavy fighting on the streets. "We started this operation to return peace and quiet to Israel... And we shall return it," Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said.

The World Is Horrified by the United States of America: An execution in Arizona took two hours, with the victim—a convicted murderer, but indisputably also a victim—gasping and coughing. The execution was by "an experimental concoction of drugs whose provenance [Arizona officials] had insisted on keeping secret." Lawyers had time to file an emergency motion to stop the killing. Here is an eyewitness account of the prisoner's 660 gasps.

The Plagiarizing Senator: “This was unintentional and it was a mistake," a campaign spokesperson for Montana's Sen. John Walsh said about two-thirds of his 2007 thesis on the Middle East not being his. The spokespeople are also providing the "important context"—not an excuse!—that Walsh had been prescribed medication used to treat PTSD at the time.

Oil Train Derails Under the Magnolia Bridge Right Here in Seattle: "No public threat" or spillage, though, so don't worry about it. Or maybe do?

A Seahawk Retires at Age 27: After seven years of injuries in the NFL, Sidney Rice says, “I want to be able to function and do things later down the road."

McDonalds Stays With Meat Supplier That Allegedly Relabeled and Sold Expired Meat: KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Starbucks have all severed ties with the international meat conglomerate headquartered in Aurora, Illinois, but McDonalds says, “According to OSI, Chinese authorities have inspected Husi’s other facilities, allowing us to confidently serve our customers.” I'm lovin' it?!

A Man Who Allegedly Made and Sold $20 Million in Fake Vintage Wine in His Kitchen: Don't try this at home.

The New Body of Microsoft: Nadella Is Lean, Ballmer Is Not

Posted by on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 8:35 AM

It's worth reflecting on this passage in Deepa Bhandaru's post about Seattle's leading socialist, Kshama Sawant, and the current CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella:

Nadella strikes the corporate world as a kind of Gandhi figure. Tall and trim with buzzed hair and dark-rimmed glasses, he exudes a corporate brand of asceticism. His lean runner’s body harbors no extra fat. His speech is measured and Spartan. His disciplined form matches his disciplined attitude. In his first public interview as CEO, he stated: “The first thing I want to do and focus on is ruthlessly remove any obstacles that allow us to innovate.”

His self-proclaimed “competitive zeal” came through last week, when he announced by e-mail that Microsoft would shave off 18,000 jobs as a way to “become more agile and move faster” in the new economy.


The point: We cannot see this language of corporate leanness and agility as unrelated to the actual body (or at least how it is presented in the papers and the web—I have never seen him in person) of Satya Nadella...

The signal here is that the lean body is ideal for a business environment that has become fiercely competitive. There is less money out there in the market. A company can longer afford to make mistakes or to carry extra weight. It must make fast decisions and shed all fat. Because there is far more psychology than hard science or logic in matters concerning stock investments, a shareholder will no doubt find great meaning (and even satisfaction) in the fact that the body of Nadella is very different from his predecessor, Steve Ballmer...


It was not possible for Ballmer to communicate a lean and agile Microsoft. He was instead bossy, and threw his weight around...
Microsoft announced it was buying Nokia last year when former CEO Steve Ballmer was still in charge. According to one report from Businessweek, Ballmer threw a fit when the board originally denied his request to buy Nokia. Ballmer eventually got his way, but the Businessweek story implied that the contention with the board was the beginning of the end for Ballmer. He eventually decided to retire, and Nadella got the job several months later.

Since Nadella took over, he's distanced himself from Ballmer's mission...


…and his body. 18,000 jobs cut.

Go Boating with Clyde This Weekend in the Arboretum and Run Into Secret Bands Playing in the Woods

Posted by on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 7:58 AM

You dont have to boat. You can just walk, too, if you want.
  • You don't have to boat. You can just walk, too, if you want.

Have you seen Boating with Clyde, the wonderful television show where local musician Clyde Petersen rides around in a boat with his musician friends while they answer questions and play songs? It's great—see it here. Or maybe you've already seen it, and maybe you've thought to yourself: "Damn, I want to do that too!" Well, here's your chance! This Saturday, Petersen and the Henry Art Gallery are hosting the Friendship Trail, a two-hour-long journey through the Lake Washington Arboretum, where you will enjoy an afternoon of drifting through the fields of lily pads while getting to hear and see surprise musical guests and also probably turtles.

You can bring your own boat, rent one for a discounted price from the UW, use an inner tube, or, if you'd rather, stay on the ground and walk through some of the trail. Get complete details here. It could be the best thing you do all summer.

And because I just had to know more, I asked Petersen some questions about the event, boating, and summer jams:

Please tell me how this performance came together, because it is a genius idea and I am so glad you’re doing it.

Traditionally, the Friendship Trail has been part of What the Heck Fest in Anacortes every year, on the day before the fest. If you get to town early, the trail would let you walk the town with bands hidden all over it, help you get to know Anacortes, and meet some new buddies. For many years, I have wanted to set up a trail via canoe, and the Henry Art Gallery is hosting a series called Summer Field Studies this year. They are sponsoring the event, which is super sweet.

It looks like there will be musical surprises hidden around the Arboretum—can you give us any hints as to what kind of magic we might find along the trip?

There are 14 bands or performers awaiting you in the Arboretum. I’ve heard rumors of saxophones, but the Friendship Trail in its truest form remains a mystery until you arrive. In Anacortes Trails, there have been Alpen Horns, cowboys playing in boats, bands in the fourth floor of buildings. Anything can happen. That’s the magic.

Is this something that even someone with zero boating experience can do? I haven't been in a row boat since I was a kid!

You can easily rent a boat at the Waterfront Activities Center (WAC!) at the UW next to Husky Stadium. If you mention the trail, it’s a discounted rate of $7 an hour for the boat. You can get three or four people in a canoe, and only a few of you have to paddle. Alternately, many of the bands can be seen by walking the trail from Marsh to Foster Island, though you will miss some of the bands in the middle.

How long will the trip last? And what should people bring? Snacks? Sunscreen? Life jackets? Shark repellant?

Continue reading »

Should Russia Be Allowed to Host the 2018 World Cup?

Posted by on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 6:00 AM

In the wake of the Malaysia Airlines flight 17 tragedy, the Washington Post reports the list of potential actions against Russia has grown a bit longer:

Some are venturing a new line of attack: depriving Russia of the privilege of hosting the 2018 soccer World Cup.

"If Putin doesn’t actively cooperate on clearing up the plane crash, the soccer World Cup in Russia in 2018 is unimaginable," Peter Beuth, the interior minister of the German state of Hesse, told the mass-market Bild newspaper.

If it feels like we were just having a conversation about using a global sporting event to punish Russia, well, we were. Still:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In Culture News: Seattle Opera Gets a Book, The Simpsons Finally Land Online, and Lots of Bad News for Amazon

Posted by , and on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 5:24 PM

Bad Day for Amazon: Amazon's Fire Phone debuted to fairly horrible reviews from the tech blogs. Also, today's Shelf Awareness reported that a survey indicates Amazon's battle with Hachette has hurt Amazon's image: "Of 5,286 book buyers polled by Codex between July 11 and July 19, 39.4% were aware of the dispute, and 19.2% of those aware of the dispute were buying fewer books from Amazon." In addition, Publishers Weekly actually talked to a real live Amazon spokesperson who did a terrible job of making a case for the online retailer, claiming that Hachette "should stop using their authors as human shields." They're asking authors to keep out of the conflict. (For the record: Most of the Hachette authors we've talked to don't feel like human shields; they feel like Amazon is using them as a doormat.)

Seattle Opera, the Book!: Bette Midler in the world premiere of The Who's Tommy in 1971? Power struggles at the company's beginning? The unbelievers who challenged the idea that a podunk town like Seattle could stage Wagner's four-opera Ring cycle, and the underdog company that proved them stark ravingly wrong, right up to the point of international acclaim? Seattle Opera, 50 years old this year, has written its first-ever autobiography—actually, it's commissioned longtime Seattle Times critic Melinda Bargreen to write it—and the book is available at the company's gift shop at McCaw Hall or online. It's $65 unless you're a subscriber, in which case it's $55. Designed by Marquand Books, it's bound to be a handsome object. (See what we did there?)

Work's Started on Three Big Murals Downtown, Each the Length of a City Block: Murals are going up on the fence that surrounds the huge future construction site of what's being called Civic Square, between Third and Fourth avenues and Cherry and James streets. (This will be the city's Civic Center campus, including City Hall, Seattle Justice Center, and Seattle Municipal Tower.) Out there working at the site this week is Chicago artist Hebru Brantley, whose Tuskegee Airmen-inspired sculptures in his hometown were just vandalized (boo). Next week the Denver wife-and-husband artist team Hollis + Lana start painting their mural, scheduled to be finished August 24; and tomorrow through September 12, terrific Seattle artists Claude Zervas and Joe Park will paint their work. The murals, funded by Triad Development, may remain in place for several years until construction begins.

We Really Like the Artist Ellen Lesperance: The Seattle native who makes paintings, drawings, and sweaters representing events of political resistance around the world last showed here in 2011; we just found out she's got an exhibition in Portland in September, so mark your calendar.

Here's a picture of one of Lesperance's works. It's called No More Nightmares.

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  • Ellen Lesperance

"Our goal was to create the deepest digital archive of any show ever." : Through a new deal with FXX, every episode of The Simpsons will soon be available online and accessible via the Simpsons World app. ("[The] experience is not for everyone," writes the Hollywood Reporter. "Simpsons World, like FXNow, requires cable subscription authentication.")

Man Booker Prize Finalists Announced: Read the list of 13 finalists at USA Today.

Headline of the Day: "Giant Yellow Toad Shrinks Online After Resemblance to Leader Is Noted."

Report: Arizona Inmate "Gasping" For Breath During Two-Hour-Long Execution

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 4:25 PM

The Guardian:

Lawyers for a convicted killer filed an emergency court appeal on Wednesday to stop his execution, claiming that he was alive and gasping more than an hour after the state of Arizona began the process of killing him.

Attorneys for Joseph Wood said in the court filing that he had been "gasping and snoring for more than an hour", but had not yet died.

"We respectfully request that this court stop the execution and require that the Department of Corrections use the lifesaving provisions required in its protocol," the laywers said.

At 7pm ET, it was not clear whether Wood was alive or dead.

Just now, via Buzzfeed:

Seattle's Best Daily Newspaper Editor Says Stop Publishing Daily Newspapers

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 4:20 PM

I love me some David Boardman. After leaving the Seattle Times as their executive editor a year ago, which I eulogized over here, Boardman is now the president of the American Society of News Editors and chairman of the Poynter Institute’s National Advisory Board.

Now that he's no longer relying on a check from the Seattle Times, Boardman also has a message for his former daily paper and others like it: start publishing just once a week:

I say to publishers: Invest in a superb, in-depth, last-all-week Sunday (or better yet, Saturday) paper, a publication so big and rich and engaging that readers will devour it piece by piece over many days, and pay a good price for that pleasure. Get together with each other and consolidate your printing operations, creating one independent print-and-deliver contractor in each geographic region who can shed the outdated and outsized costs of your legacy operations...

Move deliberately to one weekly, “lean back” printed paper and an array of quality, interactive, “lean in” digital products, especially for mobile devices, to which your readers are moving far faster than you are.

Use that money you’re spending now on newsprint, ink, pressmen, trucks, drivers and gasoline and hire more reporters, photographers, videographers, data journalists, software developers, mobile designers, social-media experts, workflow architects, marketing strategists and digital advertising pros.

Who the fucking fuck are we to argue!?!! Thanks to a combination of established print formula and blogging forethought, that's the publishing model The Stranger set about eight years ago: Throw your resources into print and heavily online. Break news and write quick analysis on the website (while swearing!), then formulate longer, more detailed pieces that connect the dots in a weekly print edition. But I can be admittedly terrible at doing both: I didn't "lean in" to this online-only post, based on Boardman's article published last week. I've been meaning to toss this up on Slog since it was posted, but got busy "leaning back" working on stuff for print. And that's where bigger news outlets can prevail over scrappy alt weeklies: They've got dozens or hundreds of reporters to break the news and write the bigger pieces, while alt-weeklies have a fraction of the staff (and keep swearing!).

Little Walter Tunes Up Some HEAT!

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 4:06 PM

Even in today's summer shitpouring rain, I found some sweaty HEAT in this Little Walter side; it's a side I'd NEVER heard before hearing it this morning. Godamn.


Little Walter is mostly known for blowing harp for Chess Records, his solo work ("My Babe"), and was in Muddy Waters' band for a bit too. I don't think he ever recorded a shitty song.

Seattle City Council Asks Feds to Ban Unsafe Oil Tanker Cars Immediately

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 4:03 PM

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  • NTSB
  • PUNCTURED This is what happens to DOT-111 tanker cars in oil train derailments, the National Transportation Safety Board has been warning for decades.

Last week, I told you about a map showing the "impact" areas of an oil train explosion in Seattle, in the event of a derailment. Some commenters protested: But there are a zillion unlikely worst-case catastrophes that could befall the city! You're just fearmongering!

Really? You've got a 20 million-to-one chance of being killed by a terrorist, for comparison. We're expected to have more than a dozen oil trains carrying a highly flammable crude from the Bakken formation in North Dakota, in what regulators have long warned are unsafe DOT-111 tanker cars, passing directly through downtown every week.

Because they'd rather not risk the incineration of huge swaths of Seattle, all nine members of the Seattle City Council signed and sent a letter this week to the federal Department of Transportation in support of a joint Sierra Club and ForestEthics legal complaint. The complaint asks the feds to implement an immediate emergency order banning the transportation of Bakken crude oil in DOT-111 cars.

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A New Spanish Film About a Friendless Cannibal Opens this Friday at Northwest Film Forum

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 3:40 PM

Its a little...tough
  • FILM MOVEMENT
  • It's a little...tough

Carlos is a fastidious tailor based in Granada, Spain. He lives alone, and doesn't appear to have any friends, but he has a loyal clientele. In addition, there's an elderly seamstress (the droll María Alfonsa Rosso) with whom he works on special projects, like an embroidered cloak for an upcoming processional.
Carlos is also a carnivore with a refrigerator full of meat—and nothing else. It's the only thing he eats (like a good Spaniard, he washes it down with red wine). Carlos procures the meat himself; he kills, drains, cuts, and wraps it all up neatly in plastic film.

It's no spoiler to say that Carlos is a cannibal. It's in the title—Cannibal. And director Manuel Martín Cuenca, in his fourth go-round with actor Antonio de la Torre, opens the film with a car accident that Carlos engineers. The driver and passenger both die. Carlos leaves the man and takes the woman's body to his cabin in the mountains where he prepares it to join the rest of the meat in his refrigerator. There's nothing pretty about any of this, but it isn't completely horrific either: this is what Carlos does, this is what Carlos is.

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Twenty Palestinians Killed for Every One Israeli

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Some recent media coverage has treated the latest flare-up between Israelis and Palestinians as a tit-for-tat battle: a kidnapping for a kidnapping, an air strike for a rocket. This piece cites the conflict and rockets fired by Palestinians as the reason for shutting down a local airport. But as more and more news agencies report, this is a lopsided bloodbath. I'm hardly going to unpack this entire conflict in a blog post—and I don't suggest for a second that these numbers are the end-all narrative about a very complicated issue. But it's worth noting, as NPR reported this morning, that 649 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza during the recent conflict, while only 31 Israelis, 29 of whom were soldiers, have been killed. This Vox chart, despite being a couple days old, is telling:


The graphic in Section 2 over here shows Palestinians have borne the brunt of this death toll for years. Israel is also attacking hospitals. Congressman Jim McDermott pointed out this afternoon in a statement that international law protects the neutrality of these medical facilities:

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Tonight: Living Liner Notes Delves into Seattle's Soul/Funk Scene Documented on Wheedle's Groove Volume II

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Today at 7 pm at the Project Room City Arts Magazine editor Jonathan Zwickel will host a discussion about Seattle's soul, funk, and boogie scene of the '70s and '80s. A former Stranger music editor, Zwickel wrote the liner notes for Light in the Attic's compilation Wheedle's Groove II: Seattle Funk, Modern Soul & Boogie 1972-1987. He'll moderate a discussion with Family Affair drummer Robbie Hill, Teleclere member Tony Benton, gospel/funk/soul diva Bernadette Bascom (who's sung with Stevie Wonder), and Frederick Robinson lll, famous for the religious-funk jam "Love One Another."

This free event is part of the Project Room's How Is Seattle Remembered? series. More info here. Project Room is located at 1315 E. Pine St. in Capitol Hill.

Last Week Was Top-to-Bottom Terrible

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Welcome to the week.

Revisit the horror in a brand-new Last Days: The Week in Review.

MONDAY, JULY 14 This week of one tragic warlike gesture after another leading to a cumulative sense of the end of the world kicks off, fittingly enough, with fire, which inserted itself into the week's proceedings like a plague. Case in point: today's story out of Utah, where the past weekend brought the Element 11 festival—which describes itself as a "sanctioned regional Burning Man festival event dedicated to the Ten Principles and ethos of Burning Man"—where attendees were enjoying principles and ethos until an actual man started burning. As the Salt Lake Tribune reports, the scene went down Saturday night in the desert near Grantsville, where "a three-story wooden effigy, inspired by the creatures from Where the Wild Things Are, [was] burned to mark the culmination of the Element 11 festival." The ceremonial bonfire had been burning for around 30 minutes when the scene turned dark, when "hundreds of festival-goers watched in horror as Christopher Wallace of Salt Lake City broke through a safety barrier, danced wildly for a few moments, and ran full speed into the flames," reports the Tribune. "Wallace, who was in his late 20s or early 30s, had told other festival-goers earlier in the day that he planned to kill himself by jumping into the burning effigy, said Grantsville police Lt. Steve Barrett. 'This is what he was going to do, and it's what he did,' Barrett said." After reviewing witnesses' video footage of Wallace's plunge into fire, police officially determined Wallace's death was a suicide. Condolences to all.

Rest of the week here.

Why Yes, Frank Chopp, the Flowers DO Brighten Up My Lobby!

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 2:14 PM

fcfluers.jpg

So there I was just sitting at my station mostly being a sassy bit of eye candy, like every Tuesday morning at 9:30, when a flower delivery guy turns up. NBD, right? The flower guy turns up time to time to deliver happiness for OTHER folks on their birthdays, anniversaries, or whatever, but this time the flowers were FOR ME! Huh? I'm not having a baby and it ain't "admin professionals day!" Wha!? Well, turns out, the flowers are a "thank you" from Speaker of the House Frank Chopp who I endorsed via my endorsement bit a couple weeks ago. (Maybe it was what I said about how his pelt is "getting good in the back"?) So, thanks, Frank, and yes, the flowers do brighten up the lobby; they certainly SMELL better than the week old strawberry yogurt stank that's currently wafting up the elevator shaft!

Dig, here are the rest of the Stranger's election endorsements.

Tonight in Music: Teebs, Rakim and Serial Hawk!

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 2:07 PM

TEEBS AND JON HOPKINS' ELEGANT, ETHEREAL ELECTRONICA

(Crocodile) Out of all the brazenly talented artists on Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder label, Teebs (aka Mtendere Mandowa) might be the one who infuses the most beauty into his music. Known for its acute, mutational shifts of instrumental-hiphop paradigms, Brainfeeder has issued three full-lengths by Teebs: Ardour, Collections, and the new Estara. The latter release retains Teebs’s trademark oneiric, aquatic production style but toughens up the beats in places, although tempos continue to move at a languorous pace. (Teebs may be an ex-skateboarder, but he’s a deeply mellow and sensitive dude in the studio.) No exaggeration, he may be the closest thing America has to a Boards of Canada. London’s Jon Hopkins may be Coldplay’s favorite electronic musician, but I assure you he’s worth your time. He has a huge canon of finely wrought ambient, downtempo, and techno compositions, and in 2010 helped Brian Eno make one of his best late-era albums with Small Craft on a Milk Sea. A masterly arranger whose scope is cinematic, Hopkins creates elegant yet gritty tracks that sound at home in both the orchestra hall and the dance club. DAVE SEGAL
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Check out the rest of Data Breaker here »


RAKIM'S NO NONSENSE BARS

(Neumos) New York hiphop icon Rakim was one of the most innovative rappers to come out of the genre's "golden age," and without his pushing of new styles and complex cadences, things may have never moved past the simplicity of '80s rhyme schemes. His career (which is also longer than the lives of most current-day rap fans) is full of accomplishments, from releasing multiple classic albums with Eric B. to continuing a long solo career afterward to allegedly ghostwriting the Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff's "Summertime." Pay tribute accordingly as the man rocks the mic and moves the crowd in legendary fashion. MIKE RAMOS
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Meet Frank Montoya, Jr., New Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Seattle Division

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 1:43 PM

Frank Montoya, Jr., the FBIs new Special Agent in Charge in Seattle.
  • Ansel Herz
  • Frank Montoya, Jr., the FBI's new Special Agent in Charge in Seattle.

Yesterday morning, Ansel and I went down to the Seattle FBI's offices on Third Ave for a meet-and-greet with our new Special Agent in Charge, Frank Montoya, Jr. He seemed like what you might expect from an FBI Special Agent in Charge—relaxed but formal, amiable but serious. He also threw off strong hints of social conservatism.

He expressed support for "equal rights for all" but wariness at the idea of legalizing marijuana—he wondered aloud whether THC levels were going to skyrocket, resulting in the world's first cannabis overdoses. (That seems highly improbable to me, since it's usually argued that prohibition is what makes drugs stronger, incentivizing more potent doses in lower volume for ease of smuggling. Some historians of alcohol prohibition, for example, argue that it helped give the nation a new taste for spirits and cocktails. But who knows?)

Montoya also said he was concerned about a more general "mindset change" in America that could lead to "a culture that allows whatever we feel like doing. Where do we find those reasonable lines and boundaries?" If one looks around the world, he said, one can see "a lot of corruption, breakdown of the family, breakdown of the social contract" that leads to destruction and misery.

THC overdoses, a too-permissive culture, and a breakdown of the family—all of this in his response to questions about how he was going to thread the needle between legalization in Washington state and a federal mandate to enforce existing drug laws.

He was also perfectly willing to toe the party line about the FBI—its agents don't drive suspects to more extreme crimes than they'd normally be disposed to commit, the FBI and NSA conduct only appropriate, necessary, and investigation-driven intelligence, etc. No surprises there.

Montoya said he'd been in Washington since late May, though he'd been here many years ago for ROTC training at what was then Fort Lewis. He'd most recently worked in DC, where he collaborated with the NSA to lead damage-assessment efforts after the Edward Snowden leaks in the Guardian, and he's also worked in Honolulu and Los Angeles with a specialty in counter-intelligence and cyber-intelligence. This was a theme of his—the number of major tech companies in Seattle ("some of the greatest companies in the world") that need protection from foreign states and hacktivists who'd like to compromise them.

He also kept looping back to concerns about public corruption and increased transparency. "We have tens of hundreds of millions of dollars spent on federal projects," he said. "Is that something we need to take a look at?" Montoya kept reiterating that he didn't think this region had a major problem with corruption per se, but emphasized that when it comes to public trust, "the US government has taken a hit in the past few years." Focusing on corruption cases, he said, "is one way to rebuild that."

He is, of course, interested in violent crime and international drug-trafficking organizations. But mostly, he said, "we're your neighbors and we want to be good neighbors."

The final 10 minutes of our interview with Montoya, Jr. is below the jump.

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The Beauty of Light Pollution: A Website Collects Night Images of Cities Taken From the International Space Station

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 1:05 PM

Fast Company has the story...

Since 2003, when an astronaut figured out how to snap a clear photo of the view from orbit, hundreds of thousands of amazing urban photographs have piled up in archives.

A new website is attempting to find volunteers to identify each of those cities—not just because the shots are beautiful, but because they can help scientists better understand the problem of urban light pollution.


moscow.jpg
  • International Space Station & NASA

Not long ago, the local author Jonathan Raban pointed out to me that the daytime view from the windows on the second floor of his home, which faces Ballard and Fremont, make it look like he lives in the middle of a great forest. But at night, when the lights of human life emerge, the windows reveal that he does indeed live in a big city. Something similar happens with the view astronauts have of our planet from space. During the day, planet earth is all nature—green forests, blue seas, brown deserts, white mountaintops and clouds. But when the sun goes, nature vanishes with it, and the only thing we see is a planet of humans. We belong the to the city, we belong to night.

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