The news is blasting across Twitter right now:
BREAKING: The I-5 Bridge over the Skagit River has collapsed. Cars are in the water. Avoid the area. More soon.
— KOMO News (@komonews) May 24, 2013
Looks like both the northbound and the southbound lanes are out. The best person to follow for up-to-the-minute updates on Twitter at the moment is is Lynsi Burton, a reporter for the Skagit Valley Herald. KOMO radio is taking calls from witnesses. You can listen in on their website. One witness says a 50-foot portion of the bridge is gone and rescuers are on the scene. More updates as they come.
UPDATE 7:32 PM: Here's a picture from the scene:
Via @gina_svh - the I-5 bridge over Skagit River between Burlington & Mt. Vernon WA. Cars and people in the water. twitter.com/Gina_SVH/statu…
— Bobby (@BobbyRobertsPDX) May 24, 2013
UPDATE 7:34 PM: Based on witness reports and the above photo, it sounds like they're talking about this bridge, which was built in 1955 and which Bridgehunter.com says got a satisfactory rating back in 2010:
Inspection (as of 08/2010)
Deck condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Superstructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Appraisal: Functionally obsolete
Sufficiency rating: 57.4 (out of 100)
Average daily traffic (as of 2010)
UPDATE 7:40 PM: KING 5 has another photograph of the scene. At least two cars are in the water, and all north-south traffic is stopped.
UPDATE 7:48 PM: Holy shit, these pictures are incredible:
Pic of#Skagitbridgecollapse taken by friend of @annakxly4 NB lanes collapsed into river. Several cars submerged twitter.com/kxly4news/stat…
— kxly(@kxly4news) May 24, 2013
UPDATE 7:58 PM: I'm depositing more on-the-scene tweets after the jump, so this post will load in a timely fashion.
UPDATE 8:01 PM: KING 5 is streaming live from the scene right now.
UPDATE 8:22 PM: Marcus Deyerin on Twitter is saying that two people are being extracted from a truck that's in the water at the moment. Authorities are asking people to stop coming to the scene, as they're getting in the way. Also, they're asking residents of Skagit to stay off the phone if they can, as lines are getting tied up.
UPDATE 8:28 PM: Rescuers in boats are at the scene. I've put another photo after the jump.
UPDATE 8:30 PM: On Twitter, Skagit Valley Herald reporter Gina Cole says: "Stretcher with second person pulled from river. Unsure if person is alive, but no applause from onlookers this time when they reached land." KOMO says one person has been pulled from a car and two have been rescued from a truck. Here's a KOMO live feed.
UPDATE 8:35 PM: I've heard from multiple eyewitnesses on different news livestreams that the collapse appeared to happen because a wide load truck struck a beam on the bridge. We're a long way from discovering the reason for all this, though.
UPDATE 8:58 PM: The Seattle P.I. says the bridge was declared "safe and sound" by Washington's Department of Transportation in 2008.
UPDATE 9:05 PM: Brian Rosenthal at the Seattle Times writes:
Rescuers think they have pulled everybody out of the water, but they’re not sure, [Marcus] Deyerin [of the Northwest Washington Incident Management Team] said.
Anybody still in the water will probably not be rescued, officials said.
UPDATE 9:08 PM: And then there's this update, from the Everett Herald:
Everyone accounted for, no fatalities in #Skagit County bridge collapse, according to reporter on scene.
— The Herald (@EverettHerald) May 24, 2013
Governor Inslee and Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson are about to get in a plane and fly to the scene.
UPDATE 9:17 PM: And with the news that there were no fatalities, that's the end of this live-Slog. Any new developments will appear as new posts on Slog tonight.
Ten-year-old Maggie Hollifield was shot and killed by a 14-year-old boy outside her Virginia home, a horrific accident that should not be confused with 10-year-old Elvira Campos who was shot dead in her Sacramento County living while watching TV, or 14-year-old Daja Robinson who was shot and killed on a bus in Queens. Can't tell the players without a scorecard.
FYI, my recent gun rant here.
Yesterday, Dan showed you the awkward footage that ensued when CNN news-idiot Wolf Blitzer accidentally asked an atheist if she thanked the Lord for delivering her from the tornado.
Today, Christian Nightmares notices that Glenn Beck thinks the whole scenario smacks of a conspiracy. He begins, "I really like Wolf Blitzer, and I think he's a good man," but "that questioning was peculiar, even for Wolf, who I think is a religious man." Beck concludes that Blitzer was set up by a producer who is "sympathetic to the atheist plight" or "just doesn't like Christians." That producer knew the woman was an atheist but hid the information and told Blitzer to ask the question about God in order to raise awareness of atheism. "That was there for a reason," Beck says, knowingly.
Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on a controversial search warrant that identified Fox News reporter James Rosen as a “possible co-conspirator” in violations of the Espionage Act and authorized seizure of his private emails, a law enforcement official told NBC News on Thursday.
The disclosure of the attorney general’s role came as President Barack Obama, in a major speech on his counterterrorism policy, said Holder had agreed to review Justice Department guidelines governing investigations that involve journalists.
"I am troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable," Obama said. "Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs."
Yeah, well, that horse is already out of the barn, isn't it, President Obama? Ryan Lizza succinctly explains why this news matters:
How can Holder conduct a fair review of DOJ media policies when he personally approved warrant calling reporter a criminal and flight risk?— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) May 23, 2013
A New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control investigation has found that 29 bars and restaurants, including 13 TGI Fridays, allegedly substituted cheap booze (or worse!) while charging for premium drinks:
At one bar, a mixture that included rubbing alcohol and caramel coloring was sold as scotch. In another, premium liquor bottles were refilled with water — and apparently not even clean water at that.
In January and February, investigators went to 63 establishments they suspected were scamming liquor customers. They ordered drinks neat — that is, without ice or mixers — and then covertly took samples for testing.
Of 150 samples collected, 30 were not the brand as which they were being sold.
Why can't government regulators leave the market to sort this out for itself? Nanny-statism at its worst!
The organization's 1,400-member national council voted for the policy change, which will take effect January 1.
"No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone," says the approved resolution.
The BSA will maintain its ban on gay adult leaders.
Hooray for not excluding gay kids, but boo for the ban on gay leaders, which probably exists to mollify a few idiot bigots who still believe that all gay men are pedophiles. And, as Dan pointed out, atheists are still not invited to the club, so the Boy Scouts have a long way to go yet.
After seven years, the annual Guest Chef at the Waterfront was set to move inland to Showbox Sodo. The new FareStart Guest Chef Spectacular—tonight!—was to include the profligate eatings and drinkings of more than 20 restaurants and 20 wineries/breweries, all to benefit FareStart.
Now there's a big crack in a structural beam at Showbox Sodo, and the building has been evacuated (everybody's safe), and the Guest Chef Spectacular cannot spectaculate tonight.
Ticketholders will receive refunds; full press release after the jump.
And, well, here's some other food-related stuff to do.
Turns out, people become very concerned with your footwear.
Yesterday, the Seattle city council hosted a brown bag lunch chat to look at if—and how—we should mandate the hiring of local residents on city-funded construction sites, otherwise known as a "targeted local hire" ordinance. It's an issue I've had my eye on for a while, and it's likely to be a slow burn at city hall, as they hammer out how, exactly, to institute mandatory hiring practices without pissing off every involved constituency—labor, contractors, workers.
Not an easy task, but San Francisco and other municipalities seem to have done successfully.
Here are four points that targeted hiring proponents want to see addressed in the legislation:
• While targeted hiring focuses on hiring women and/or people of color, this local hiring would focus on residents of the city—or even residents of certain zip codes, ones with markedly higher unemployment than the rest of the city.
• A targeted hire ordinance has to include a robust apprenticeship program, said a panel of experts, and those apprentices should then be brought onto job sites.
The state workers’ compensation reform, Senate Bill 5127, was passed by the Senate 30-19 and hung up in the House. It needs to pass in this session.
... Passage of this bill will also offset much, and perhaps all, of the $1.8 billion extra that the state Department of Labor and Industries says will be needed over the next 10 years to put the state disability funds on a prudent basis.
Without the bill, the state will have to raise taxes on payrolls, which raises the price of creating and sustaining jobs.
These are two factual assertions, neither of which are supported by, you know, actual facts. Instead, the editors' research apparently consists of credulously aping they hyperbolic assertions of an out-of-date year-old post on the Washington Business Alliance run blog, Washington State Wire... assertions that were immediately refuted in the post's comment thread by L&I Director Judy Schurke:
Erik Smith’s article mischaracterizes a number of points at yesterday’s Workers’ Compensation Advisory Committee special meeting.
First, L&I is NOT contemplating a 19 percent increase nor did we say we need to “beef up” the contingency reserve to $2.3 billion. Further, L&I does not have a budget gap of $3.1 billion.
The "$1.8 billion extra" the editorial claims that "[L&I] says will be needed" appears to come from Smith's assertion that "L&I figures it needs to beef that reserve back up to $2.3 billion"—an assertion that L&I's Schurke explicitly denies. "To hit that target it needs an additional $1.7 billion," writes Smith. But these were "theoretical financial scenarios" put forth as part of a larger discussion about how to rebuild workers compensation reserves, insists Schurke; they were never meant to represent any sort of hard "target."
Further, these theoretical financial scenarios were constructed a year ago, back when workers' compensation reserves were considerably smaller. As I recently posted, Washington state's workers' compensation system turned a $250 million surplus in 2012 while bumping its reserves from $580 million in June 2012 to $953 million by the end of December. Even if L&I was shooting for $2.3 billion in reserves (and it's not), the additional funds necessary to hit that nonexistent target have been shaved by about a half billion dollars since the Seattle Times year-old numbers were first devised.
Back in February, I told you about the Hugo House's awesome new Made at Hugo program for local writers:
It's like a more pragmatic version of the classic writer-in-residency: Last year, Hugo House put out a call for writers age 35 or younger, living in King County, to describe a project they'd like to complete. From more than 50 applicants, House program director Brian McGuigan and an anonymous panel of poets and novelists chose six writers. Those writers get access to office space in the House, they have monthly progress meetings and contribute to a private blog on which they can share work, and they can attend any of the Hugo House classes, featuring teachers like Eileen Myles, Peter Mountford, and Sam Lipsyte, for free.
The application process for this year's Made at Hugo program is now open. If you're a writer younger than 35 and you're working on a project that you need to finish, you should consider entering into this program. It gives you the support and the advice you need to help get it done.
Here we go again: A couple months after digital comics seller Comixology pulled (and then reinstated) an issue of the popular series Saga from the Apple App Store for fear that the comic was too racy for Apple's guidelines, they've just announced that they've pulled 56 titles from their app's store for the same reason. Robot 6 says Saga is unaffected this time around, but Comixology pulled titles ranging from local publisher Fantagraphics' Angry Youth Comix to Joe Casey's new Image Comics series Sex, to...
...Jess Fink’s Chester 5000, Reed Waller and Kate Worley’s classic Omaha the Cat Dancer, Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit and the gay-comics anthology No Straight Lines, which features the work of Alison Bechdel, Howard Cruse and Eric Shanower, among others.
These books are still available from Comixology's website, but they're not available from Apple's Comixology app. That distinction is probably enough to pacify many people who'd otherwise be angered by this move, but I still think this is bullshit. Apple needs to sell adult content—not even pornography, I'm talking about comics created for adults by celebrated cartoonists like Alison Bechdel and Howard Cruse, for fuck's sake—and not be stupid Puritan fucksticks about it. Those books have been available in Barnes & Nobles around the country for years now, to no great controversy. When the biggest digital storefront for comics in the world restricts the books they sell to all-ages content, they are holding the medium of comics back from what it could become. (And this is especially ridiculous when you acknowledge the fact that you can buy 50 Shades of Grey in the iBookstore any time you want.)
So much good stuff today, including:
I love this girl. I always wanted to to this in art-school. She did it though. Good times start at the 1:30 mark.
This has been all over the news, but I thought Slog might care as well—yesterday, in advance of Obama's speech on national security today, the administration admitted it has killed US citizens with drones, some on purpose and some accidentally. From the Guardian:
Earlier, the White House marked this new effort to draw a line under the controversial drone-strike policy by admitting for the first time that four American citizens were among those killed by its covert attacks in Yemen and Pakistan since 2009.
In a letter to congressional leaders sent on Wednesday, attorney general Eric Holder Holder claimed one of the US citizens killed, Anwar al-Awlaki, was chief of external operations for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqap) and had been involved in plots to blow up aircraft over US soil.
However, Holder said three others killed by drones – Samir Khan, Abdul Rahman Anwar al-Awlaki and Jude Kenan – were not "specifically targeted". The second of these victims, Anwar al-Awlaki's son, is said by campaigners to have been 16 when he died in Yemen in 2011.
The US government carrying out assassinations of its own citizens is obviously a major problem—especially if they're accidentally killing other American citizens in the process.
But Obama did his artful pivot move by releasing this information into the public sphere just before announcing in the speech that he was going to bring the drone program out of the "legal shadows" of the CIA and transfer it to the Pentagon, giving Congress—and, ostensibly, the rest of us—more oversight.
(That move should go down in the history books as "the Obama": Announce something bad just before you announce that you're going to take strong action against that bad thing, making you the good guy in the situation, even if the bad thing happened under your watch.)
And how many non-American citizens have been assassinated—or accidentally killed—by our covert drone program?
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that between 240 and 347 people have been killed in total by confirmed US drone strikes in Yemen since 2002, with a further 2,541 to 3,533 killed by CIA drones in Pakistan.
That, I would venture to guess, has not been winning hearts and minds. But in general, Obama's speech (transcript here) promised to take the US off the "perpetual war-time footing" it has been on since 9/11, and recognized that our national security apparatus may undermining, and not simply defending, the democracy we claim to love:
All these issues remind us that the choices we make about war can impact – in sometimes unintended ways – the openness and freedom on which our way of life depends. And that is why I intend to engage Congress about the existing Authorization to Use Military Force, or AUMF, to determine how we can continue to fight terrorists without keeping America on a perpetual war-time footing.
Posted by news intern Ansel Herz
I have news from Morgan Stanley for Jeremy Griffin and the SAFE activists attempting to block his eviction in South Seattle: "We do not own the loan and had no involvement in the foreclosure process," says Mark Lake, a Morgan Stanley spokesman. This despite Morgan Stanley, along with Deutsche Bank, being listed as plaintiffs on the eviction order.
This stuff is complex, but from what I understand based on my reporting, Morgan Stanley was responsible for packaging a set of loans together, including Griffin's, and selling them to investors. This process is called securitization. Deutsche Bank represents those investors, and probably hired Wells Fargo as the servicer to carry out the foreclosure.
I asked Lake whether Morgan Stanley has any comment on the practice of securitization, which contributed to the financial collapse in 2008. "No comment," he replied, after a pause.
The securitization "food chain" was a "ticking time bomb," according to this a clip from the Oscar-winning documentary Inside Job, which explains how investment banks including Morgan Stanley sold packages of loans to investors, and in turn, helped wreck the economy:
Charles reports that Pope Francis is "calling for a more ethical banking system and curbs on financial speculation." Hear hear! SAFE, the group organizing the eviction blockade, sent out text messages this morning asking supporters to "please be on alert." They say King County Sheriff detective Pierre Thiry has warned them the eviction is likely to happen in the next several days.
The men behind Star Trek Into Darkness have thrown us ladies and boner-loving dudes a bone and released a deleted shower scene featuring a sinewy Benedict Cumberbatch in response to the completely justified criticism they've been getting over Alice Eve's gratuitous underwear scene.
Here's a screenshot of Cumberbatch showering (you can find the full clip over here):
Thanks for the pecs, but sexism doesn't work that way. Nakedness doesn't simply cancel out nakedness, and we have no context for the above shot, so we don't know where it fit into the film or why. But what any reasonable viewer who's seen Star Trek Into Darkness does know is that Eve's underwear scene doesn't make sense, even knowing its context. It was gratuitous hot naked lady flesh, pure and simple. As Devin Faraci over at BadassDigest.com explains:
There are a couple of problems with [Eve's] scene. For one thing, there's absolutely no reason for her to be stripping. The movie doesn't even offer the flimsiest of explanations, like having her get radioactive goo on her clothes after examining the torpedos. I honestly don't know why she has to strip down in this moment during this conversation. It's almost like the actions of someone with a mental deficiency.
What irritates me the most is the JJ Abrams's cognitive dissonance in trying to justify his equal-opportunity topless scenes.
To be clear, Abrams admits that Eve's strip scene didn't work as well as he wanted, but he nonetheless defends it: "To me it was a balance—there's a scene where Kirk is topless earlier," he said in an interview with Conan O'Brien. The difference is, Kirk is shot topless, in bed, after he's presumably finished a coital romp with a pair of actual sex kittens. There's justification for him to appear topless. His nakedness, in that context, is a wordless salute to his virility.
Like all blockbusters, Star Trek is a movie stuffed with dudes—dudes who are funny, dudes who are friends, dudes who talk a lot and fight and who convey complex emotions. Struggling to exist amidst these dudes and all their snappy dialogue are two women—Uhura and Eve's character, Carol Marcus—neither of which are afforded the same amount of character development, dialogue, or screen time. And one of those women's biggest moments is posing in her underwear.
That is not equality, it's just fucked up—the kind of fucked up a whole porn's worth of Cumberbatch's pecs wouldn't fix.
If you were hoping to cash in that Borders gift card for the latest Dan Brown novel — or at least hoping to get some cash for it — you're too late.
A Manhattan federal judge on Wednesday ruled that the bankrupt and defunct book chain owes nothing to the roughly 17.7 million people who hold $210.5 million in unredeemed gift cards.
Gift cards are a scam perpetrated on the American public by retailers. Gift cards to chain stores are a shit gift. Do not give gift cards as presents.
(Related: If this news leaves you feeling nostalgic about Borders, I wrote a thing about working at Borders a couple years ago that might scratch that itch.)
If you wanted to say something was garlicky without the K it'd look like garlicy which looks like it's garlic flavored lice or something. So while I get that the K in garlicky is totally necessary, I still hate that it has to exist. It's so presumptuous.
State senator Ed Murray should have won the sole endorsement last night of the 36th District Democrats, the grassroots party apparatus for the district with Washington State's highest voter turnout, thereby beckoning foot-soldiers to ring doorbells and distribute literature advancing the cause of making Murray Seattle's first gay mayor.
The executive board of the 36th had recommended Murray's endorsement, which meant that at last night's meeting of the full memebership, Murray needed just a simple majority vote from the members to make that blessing official (any other contender needed a 60 percent vote).
But Murray couldn't hack it.
In a statement that tried to turn lemons into lemonade, the Murray campaign said it "fell a little short" of the 50 percent needed to win. He got 43 percent of the vote, which wasn't enough to win, but the campaign says they'd "be very happy to replicate that level of support from voters in the 36th on primary day."
Mayor Mike McGinn did no better—his faction tried to advance dual and triple endorsements including his name, but lacked support to meet the 60 percent threshold. In the end, the 36th made no endorsement.
I am a 26 y.o. gay man living in Europe. Some weekends ago I went to visit a friend to another city and we went out to a party where I met a gay couple in their mid 30s. We clicked and by the end of the night they proposed me a threesome. (It was an excitement idea! They were very hot!) Unfortunately I had to decline because the friend I was visiting is a friend with benefits and we agreed on "fun together or not fun at all."
The issue is that I gave these guys my cellphone number and one of the guys—a guy that is hot as hell and way out of my league—wanted to have fun with me but without his partner. He was planning on coming to my city only for this reason and was waiting for me to confirm. I asked him if his partner agreed on this and he told me that he didn't know if his partner would have agreed and that he was not planning on telling him. (They have been together for more than 8 years!) I have been with guys in open relationships but I have always declined the cheating setup and this was clearly a cheating setup so I declined. The guy was not happy and called me a prude.
This is not true, Dan! I have a lot of fun with guys but I just don't like the idea of being the one that a guy cheated on his partner with. In a "Grindr" set up with limited information, this would have been less of a problem for me, but here I knew who his boyfriend was and their relationship status. My male hetero friends, that are all in couples, told me that I did right. My male gay friends, that are all single at the moment, thought that I should have gone for it, that I am too uptight and, yes, prudish.
Am I a prude? Enlighten me, Dan. Please.
The Gay Prude
P.S. Sorry about my English!
My response after the jump...
“I think the President will ultimately be forced to repudiate his own signature piece of legislation because the American people will demand it,” [Bachmann] told an evangelical radio host Tuesday. “And I think before his second term is over, we’re going to see a miracle before our eyes, I believe God is going to answer our prayers and we’ll be freed from the yoke of Obamacare.”
Presumably, this is because God believes people should not have access to quality medical care if they can't afford it. I'm sure there's some Bible verse somewhere that backs up Bachmann's claims.
Whoops! Auto-play. After the jump, feel free to witnesseth the Lord Our God Morgan Freeman taking a nap on the teevee. -Eds
For the curious, and for the haters, a long interview with Saint Genet director Ryan Mitchell (about Paradisiacal Rites, about Shoot, about the Jackass phenomenon, about whether pulling a performance stunt like Shoot is just a cheap exercise of white-guy privilege, about Captain Ahab, about how one can love Brecht but still think he didn't get it quite right, about whether your opinion about anything matters at all, and more) is now up over here.
Here is some video documentation of Chris Burden's Shoot, with some spare commentary from the artist.
It's amazing how all the GOP outreach to women...
Louie Gohmert just told a woman whose fetus had no brain function that she should have waited and given birth anyway.— Irin Carmon (@irincarmon) May 23, 2013
...can be undone by one Republican representative at a just-us-boys congressional hearing on abortion.
...it's from someone who claims to be a Christian.
Thanks for the change of pace, Indianapolis Bisexual Solidarity.
Seattle collector Ruth True has thrown out the idea for an art parade in Seattle. Last fall she suggested Mungo Thomson's sticking a pin in Michael Heizer would make a good anchoring float. Thomson's earlier Skyspace Bouncehouse—a bouncy castle version of a Seriously Meditative James Turrell sky room (one's at the Henry Art Gallery)—had been a hit at Western Bridge.
For the Olympics last year, Jeremy Deller created Sacrilege, another deflationary inflatable: bouncy Stonehenge. It's now in an inflatables exhibition at the inaugural Art Basel Hong Kong, but may I suggest that if Sacrilege needs a permanent home, it could do no better than somewhere on the land of this eccentric outpost at the border of Oregon and Washington. Are you planning summer day trips and do you like cliffs, peacocks, Rodin, Romanian queens, and failed dreams? Go to Maryhill! The museum even has a new wing, financed by wind turbines.
(Also in Hong Kong: Log Lady and Dirty Bunny. A quick check in the office revealed that we need help figuring out: What's Dirty Bunny from?)