[Starman by David Bowie plays mournfully in the distance]
["Starman" by David Bowie plays mournfully in the distance] Frederick M. Brown / Stringer

Stephen Hawking dies at 76: The renowned theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and science icon died Wednesday, which is Albert Einstein’s birthday and Pi Day. Coincidentally, he was born on Isaac Newton’s birthday (Jan. 4th). Hawking was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) at 21. He was given two years to live. Instead, he lived for 55 more. Hawking is best known for his scientific discoveries like how black holes function and that the universe started with a singularity i.e. The Big Bang. But, he was also known for his ability to bring science to the masses and to spark wonder in us all.

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He also had a killer sense of humor:

Former SDOT Director goes to LimeBike: Scott Kubly started in bike-share. Then he led the Seattle Department of Transportation. Now, after resigning when Jenny Durkan took up the mantle of mayor, Kubly will be the chief program officer for LimeBike. He’ll be working on business development and government relations. He won’t be able to work with SDOT on anything for a year, however.

King County Sheriff warns of kidnapping scam: Two Washington families were targeted by scammers who claimed to have kidnapped their children. The scammers demanded money or they would kill the children. In both instances, the scammers used the children’s real names. When the parents called their children’s schools the kids were safely in class. Parents were contacted by a blocked number and in both instances the man on the line had an accented voice. One parent encountered a young female voice as well. Anyone else long for the days of the struggling Nigerian prince and his emails? Don’t send money over the phone.

Walk-out Wednesday: There are nearly 3,000 walkouts at schools across the country set for 10:00 a.m. In Washington, some will march for 17 minutes in honor of each person killed in the Parkland, Florida shooting. Others will continue on to the University of Washington where there’s a rally being held at Red Square at 11:30 a.m. The walkout was organized by students to show that gun violence impacts all students regardless of where they go to school.

Students are organized: The kids aren’t kidding around. It’s already starting on the East Coast.

They’re outside the White House:

Except Trump is busy dicking around in California: Get out of there, Donald. He attacked Gov. Jerry Brown, saying Brown has done a very poor job running the state. California has the sixth largest economy in the world. Then he talked shit about sanctuary cities. He viewed some border wall prototypes. Trump lost California by 4 million votes in 2016. Los Angelenos gave him a warm welcome.

Layoffs in Kent school district: The district will be eliminating 127 employees across its 42 schools in the next year. Additionally, nine administrators within eight schools will lose their positions. This need to reduce workforce costs is part of a plan to address a budget deficit. The district said it had a $6.9 million budget shortfall in the 2016-7 fiscal year.

Durkan calls for city-wide budget cuts: She’ll be moving away from the Murray trend of city spending. Since 2012, the city’s budget grew 28 percent from $3.9 billion to last November’s $5.6 billion. Durkan will be asking city departments to trim their budgets by 2 to 5 percent for next year. She is anticipating Seattle’s economic boom — which has facilitated massive growth and allowed for an increase in spending — to wane. To Durkan, Seattle’s current spending isn’t sustainable.

Save our orcas, Jay: There are only 76 orcas left in the Puget Sound. That’s a 30-year low. The endangered species has struggled due to lack of food, pollution, and noise and disturbances from vessels. Pretty much, all things human-caused that can be human-prevented. Gov. Inslee is expected to mitigate some of these impacts by announcing immediate and long-term steps today to save the orcas from extinction. Seven agencies will work to boost orca recovery, a task force will be established to track progress, and federal, local, and tribal governments will work together.

What is a solar storm? No clue. There’s one expected to hit Wednesday and Thursday. Apparently, it’s a major explosion in the Sun’s atmosphere. That sounds… safe. But, for real, that’s just a scary way to say solar flare. It has the potential to mess with geomagnetic responses on Earth’s surface; GPS could malfunction, commercial flights might be impacted, and energy supplies could be knocked out. Don't tell my roommates. They're both afraid of flying and are flying today. On the bright side, there’s a possibility of seeing the northern lights!

Britain expels 23 Russian diplomats: Britain is blaming Moscow for this month’s poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter. Putin is denying all involvement. Tensions between the two countries are heightening. The expulsion of Russian diplomats is the largest in 30 years and is part of Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to cut ties with all high-level contacts between Britain and Russia. Additionally, May said no British ministers or royals would attend the World Cup in Russia this year. More sanctions are expected to be announced later today.

Some facts on the nerve agent used in the attack:

The president of the European Council is on Britain’s side:

Angela Merkel sworn in for fourth term: The German chancellor won her fourth term 364 votes to 315. This puts an end to six months of political turmoil in Germany as Merkel struggled to form a coalition government. Mainstream parties suffered in September’s election due to a resurgence of right-wing populists. This was the worst showing for Merkel’s conservative bloc in 70 years.

Democrat wins in Pennsylvania special election: Democrat Conor Lamb is the apparent-winner of the House seat by an incredibly thin margin. Trump won the Pennsylvania district by 20 points in 2016. The triumph is a big deal for democrats seeking to take control of Congress during the midterm elections this fall. They need to gain 24 seats to take the majority.

The northeast is handling its shitty weather the best it can: What is going on over there?

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Tonight's best Seattle entertainment options include: addo Ballard: Richard's Burger Pop-Up, the Persian epic tale Feathers of Fire, and a show with Guayaba, Nauticult, Astro King Phoenix, and Corespondents.

Here's what you're eating today

A big dose of Life for William and Sally to jumpstart their days.

Frieda C

A color-coordinated meal for Derek, sent by his wife, Lisa.

Lisa G