The only baby news we ever care about:
New baby born to L pod! The mother is L86, and this is her fourth calf. Southern resident orcas now number 75.
— Lynda V. Mapes (@LyndaVMapes) February 17, 2021
Some orcas were also spotted off West Seattle today. And in other whale news: gray whales have learned a brilliant way of feeding themselves in Puget Sound. RIP to the ghost shrimp.
Around 150,000 people are still without power in Oregon—a crisis now going into its sixth day following the snowy/icy weather that hit last weekend: Things are also not great for those needing the internet as Comcast says it could take up to a week or more (!!) to get services back to the 76,000 Oregonians who need it.
What the fuck:
100 Blk. of Melrose Ave. E.: HAZMAT crews confirmed the substance released under an apartment door was an irritant (pepper-spray like substance), two people with minor respiratory symptoms. Crews starting to demobilize.
— Seattle Fire Dept. (@SeattleFire) February 17, 2021
Someone "poured a chemical irritant under the door of an apartment shared by two women," reports the Seattle Times. The women had to run to the window to breathe while the Seattle Fire Department came to clear the substance. They declined further medical assistance, and at the moment it's unclear if SPD is investigating this as an assault.
At a White House press conference today, press secretary Jen Psaki declined to directly answer a question about when the country will begin to feel "normal" again: "We are not in a place where we can predict exactly when everybody will feel normal again." Here's the full exchange:
Q: And just one more question on — the question of when we get some semblance of normalcy. That timeline also seems to be shifting. Dr. Fauci had said a sense of normalcy maybe in the fall. That’s when you might be able to go to theaters, go to sporting events — still with masks, of course.
Now it seems that’s being slid to early next year. The President said maybe around Christmas. What’s going on here? When do we think we will get back to some taste of normalcy?
MS. PSAKI: Well, this is the question, as I’m sure is the case for all of you, that every neighbor, every friend, every family member asks — at least me in the street when I’m walking my dog in the morning.
We want to be straight with the American public, though. It is — we are not in a place where we can predict exactly when everybody will feel normal again. And it has — there are a number of reasons. One is, even though we will have enough doses for every person in this country, as you all know because we’ve talked about it in here, vaccine hesitancy remains a challenge. We need to ensure that everybody who can get a dose is getting a dose.
We will also need to be masking for some time. We will also need to be still taking social distancing measures. So, you know, there — there’s — of course, this is an understandable question, and I think the President wants things to return to normal, as we all do. But we — we don’t know at this point what that timeline is going to look like.
Busy Bee Biden says he supports a study into possible reparations (that could include money) for Black Americans due to the discriminatory policies that have affected the financial well-being of Black people since slavery.
The Seattle Public Library's museum pass is back! Right now, the library offers passes to Burke Museum, the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), the National Nordic Museum, and the Seattle Aquarium. The fine print:
Library cardholders can reserve one free Museum Pass per week. Each Museum Pass provides admission for at least two adults — some passes allow more, and may include free admission for kids ages 17 and under. You can sign up for a pass to a specific organization once every 30 days.
The program reservation system requires you to enter your Library card number and personal identification number (PIN), then choose a specific date and print the museum pass. To read more details and reserve a museum pass, visit www.spl.org/museumpass.
(Obviously, it's a pandemic, so assess your risks, but we think museums are much safer than a lot of the other alternatives... like eating maskless indoors...)
And if you're headed out... Crosscut's Margo Vansynghel highlighted a bunch of art shows to check out around Seattle. But as usual, we're most interested in the show Margo mentions that's happening at the Bellevue Arts Museum. (Bellevue doesn't deserve the holy and incredible Bellevue Arts Museum. We need to acquire it.)
Capitol Hill Seattle Blog has updates on last night's vigil for Anais Valencia, held outside the Northwest African American Museum: Last week, a man named Gregory Taylor approached Valencia and her friend while they waited for another friend to come out of the Urban League Village apartments. Taylor shot into the car, killing Valencia and injuring the other. SPD arrived at the scene and consequently shot and killed Taylor. CHS has more.
The widespread winter storms are causing problems for vaccine delivery: The CDC says we should expect weather-related delays to last "for the next week to two weeks." UPS and FedEx have major shipping hubs in the South and Memphis, places hit by the unusual storms. Mr. Amazon Prime 1-Day Shipping, now is your moment to get some good PR.
Contiguous U.S. gets all the storm attention: But we should remember there was also a major disaster up in Alaska a few months ago that still hasn't been fully dealt with. Biden is offering federal assistance to the northern state "to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe storms, flooding, landslides, and mudslides from November 30 to December 2, 2020." Trump apparently had more important things to worry about in December than those Alaskan tragedies.
Listen to the people: Listen to the joy.
To continue today's earthquake theme on Slog: Washington's "Shake Alert" system is finally ready for a rollout. The earthquake early warning system is made up of a network of sensors that detect quakes in real-time. The system was first rolled out in California in 2019. It goes live in Oregon on March 11, and then finally makes its way up to Washington before summer. The system gives valuable seconds of prep for people to get under tables and away from fragile walls. A system test is happening in King, Pierce, and Thurston counties next Thursday at 11 AM; find out more info on how you can opt-in to the test here.
Today's Nintendo Direct promo-ed a bunch of new games for the Switch: Matt has an overview here, but the thing we're most excited about is the Mario warp pipes coming to Animal Crossing.
GOOD/GOOD/BAD NEWS: According to the World Health Organization, coronavirus cases around the world are in decline. (That's good!) A new study suggests that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines can protect people from the emerging variants, including the highly contagious one from South Africa. (Also good!) Unfortunately, these variants are picking up steam and could bring on a dreaded fourth wave of COVID infections. (In case you didn't realize, that was the "bad" news.)
Let's end the day with some fitting tributes to Rush Limbaugh:
Rush Limbaugh had a radio segment called “AIDS Update” where he’d read out the names of gay people who had died and celebrate with horns and bells.
So the whole “don’t speak ill of the dead” thing doesn’t apply to this absolute fucking monster.
Let him rot.
— Harry Cook (@HarryCook) February 17, 2021
A racist talkshow host who called a woman a slut for wanting access to birth control and a teenage Chelsea Clinton “the White House dog” and was given the highest civilian award in the country by a racist reality show host who bragged about sexually assaulting women died lol bye!
— The Volatile Mermaid (@OhNoSheTwitnt) February 17, 2021
If Rush Limbaugh deserves credit for anything, it his pioneering work in spreading disinformation and directly enabling our nation's current state of vast distrust of experts and spurning of good faith in the public discourse. He will not be missed by rational adults.
— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) February 17, 2021
Very much related: "State anti-transgender bills represent coordinated attack, advocates say."
Also very much related: South Carolina lawmakers are close to passing a bill that would outlaw nearly all abortions, following in the footsteps of other states with similar measures they're ready to launch if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. (Another great reason for the Democratically controlled congress to kill the filibuster and legalize a woman's right to choose forever.)