This week’s Birds Eye View Contest is posted.
UPDATE: Dominic Holden lays into Mike Carter and Paul Shukovsky for their horrendous reporting on yesterday’s drug busts.
Really… how could I ignore this story?
KINSHASA (Reuters) – Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men’s penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.
Reports of so-called penis snatching are not uncommon in West Africa, where belief in traditional religions and witchcraft remains widespread, and where ritual killings to obtain blood or body parts still occur.
Rumours of penis theft began circulating last week in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo’s sprawling capital of some 8 million inhabitants. They quickly dominated radio call-in shows, with listeners advised to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings.
Apparently, Dori Monson is syndicated on Radio Kinshasa. Who knew?
What I absolutely love about wire stories like this is that no matter how absurd they get, the journalist still apparently feels obligated to write in that familiarly stodgy newswire style, even when they include quotes like this…
“When you try to tell the victims that their penises are still there, they tell you that it’s become tiny or that they’ve become impotent. To that I tell them, ‘How do you know if you haven’t gone home and tried it’,”
“It’s real. Just yesterday here, there was a man who was a victim. We saw. What was left was tiny,” said 29-year-old Alain Kalala, who sells phone credits near a Kinshasa police station.
Yeah… right. I’m guessing these penis thefts are particularly common in the locker rooms at unheated swimming pools.
Anyway, I couldn’t possibly touch on this subject without closing with the classic King Missile video. But be forewarned: it’s uncensored, uncut and probably not suitable for the office or young children.
At a board meeting this afternoon that could decide whether to move ahead with a ballot measure this fall, Sound Transit staff will propose a revised plan that could deliver as much as 23 miles of extended light rail between now and 2020, while funding expanded bus and Sounder service, improving station access and investing in environmental review, preliminary engineering, and early right of way purchase to prepare for further expansion to Tacoma, Lynnwood, Redmond and beyond. The scope of the initial expansion depends on whether the board adopts a .04% sales tax increase (18 miles) or .05% increase (23 miles):
This is a plan that gives commuters more options, and takes cars off the road, which will be absolutely necessary if our transportation system is to accommodate the 30% increase in population our region expects by 2030. Read the whole thing.
No word yet on how this new proposal is being received by board members.
Yesterday, Slog’s Dominic Holden challenged local reporters to ask tough questions about yesterday’s pot busts in South King County. For comparison, he showed how the proposal by Seattle city officials here to implement a $.20 fee for plastic bags got opinions from both sides of the debate over that proposal’s efficacy, but drug busts never do.
For a city that vows to wipe out homelessness by 2015, and whose anti-density old timers pine for the semi-urban, working-class neighborhoods of yore, it is instructive to look at how the rest of the nation is achieving the laudable goal of assuring an abundant stock of affordable housing. From the AP:
Sales of new homes plunged in March to the lowest level in 16 1/2 years as housing slumped further at the start of the spring sales season.
The median price of a new home in March, compared with a year ago, fell by the largest amount in nearly four decades.
The Commerce Department reported Thursday that sales of new homes dropped by 8.5 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 526,000 units, the slowest sales pace since October 1991.
The median price of a home sold in March dropped by 13.3 percent compared with March 2007, the biggest year-over-year price decline since a 14.6 percent plunge in July 1970.
And from Reuters:
Falling U.S. home prices and a lack of available credit may result in foreclosures on 6.5 million loans by the end of 2012, according to a Credit Suisse research report on Tuesday.
The foreclosures could put 12.7 percent of all residential borrowers out of their homes…
The new forecast includes 2.7 million subprime loans whose risky characteristics sparked the worst housing market since the Great Depression. Subprime foreclosures, on top of the 676,000 already in or through the process, will hit 1.39 million in the next two years alone, an upward revision from the 730,000 predicted by Credit Suisse in October.
Falling home prices have made an increasing number of U.S. homeowners more vulnerable to default, they said. Nearly a third of subprime borrowers owed more than their home was worth at the end of last year, and that figure will double to 63 percent in 2009, they said.
[…] Credit Suisse expects home prices will fall by 10 percent in 2008 and 5 percent in 2009, before rebounding.
That’s about a 25% drop from peak prices (a projection many analysts consider very conservative), which puts a lot more than just subprime borrowers at risk. While Credit Suisse projects an astounding 50 percent or more of subprime loans could ultimately end up in foreclosure, Alt-A and prime mortgages represent a much larger pool of borrowers, and as many as 4 million of these are also at risk, including many young couples who had the poor judgment to come of age and start families during a real estate bubble.
Yup, that’s one way to address our shortage of affordable housing, but I’m not sure that knocking the bottom out of our local market is a palatable solution, or that dumping millions of families out of their homes and onto the streets is a constructive step toward ending homelessness. Nor do I think we should embrace the BIAW’s dream of make WA state a zero regulation zone, were they can freely perfect their innovative new black-mold-and-kindling building technology.
It is a complicated issue, and any attempt by one side or the other to claim that they have the solution should be met with skepticism. As our region has grown, and congestion has grown with it, the days when homebuyers could reasonably trade commute time for square footage has come to an end.
If we want to maintain the natural splendor that makes our region so attractive, while accommodating the hundreds of thousands of new jobs and residents that continue to prop up our housing market above the rest of the nation, then both consumers and builders are going to have to change their expectations. And judging by the dozens of condo towers continuing to sprout throughout the downtown, and the thousands of townhouses and apartments being built along Sound Transit’s light rail route, it looks like expectations are starting to do exactly that.
So um, welcome to Clark County, Seattle. It was awesome when the Discovery Institute (of Seattle ) went around spreading its right wing baloney in my home state of Kansas, although the good and just people of that state have come to their senses and rejected their nonsense. Still, I kind of feel like I’m being stalked by right wing Seattle think tanks, which is kind of weird given how progressive Seattle is supposed to be.
You figure the Washington Policy Center is coming into Clark County not just to mess with us, but to mess with you? If I were them I would screw with the relatively modest Columbia River Crossing transit portion in hopes of derailing (pun intended) further light rail hopes in the Puget Sound region. Because what you may not hear up there is that the probable CRC proposal for light rail involves extending the line only about three miles, from the Portland Expo Center to Clark College.
I’m sure studies by right-wing think tanks conceived by talk radio hosts and funded by Republican millionaires are quite objective.
What’s interesting is that there will likely be a vote at some point regarding whether the Clark County transit agency, C-TRAN, will be funded to provide operating expenses for the light rail line. So while it’s entirely predictable that the conservative noise machine has sprung into action, what I’m wondering is whether our side has the capability to respond?
Because we’re all in this together now.
Did Sen. Hillary Clinton win the Pennsylvania primary in any meaningful way? Does cutting a fighter jet into little pieces make for good art? And who is the single most conservative member of the house on foreign policy? These questions and more are raised, pondered, re-examined, synthesized, refined, interrogated, beat to death, waterboarded, and stacked on the floor in neat little pyramids by Goldy and friends.
Yes…it was another evening of Podcasting Liberally.
The show is 50:07, and is available here as a 47 MB MP3.[audio:http://www.podcastingliberally.com/podcasts/podcasting_liberally_april_22_2008.mp3]
The government is scrapping a $20 million prototype of its highly touted “virtual fence” on the Arizona-Mexico border because the system is failing to adequately alert border patrol agents to illegal crossings, officials said.
The move comes just two months after Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced his approval of the fence built by The Boeing Co. The fence consists of nine electronic surveillance towers along a 28-mile section of border southwest of Tucson.
So Boeing loses yet another high-profile government contract. Or has it?
Boeing is to replace the so-called Project 28 prototype with a series of towers equipped with communications systems, new cameras and new radar capability, officials said.
Um… isn’t that what the existing virtual fence is, a series of towers equipped with communications systems cameras and radar? Is there any penalty for failure? I’m confused.
Either way, it’s a pretty sweet deal. I need to get myself one those $860 million government contracts, because I’m pretty damn sure I could build a virtual fence that doesn’t work, and still have enough money left over to make these pledge drives a thing of the past.
There’s going to be a press conference at 1pm at the federal building in Seattle to discuss “Operation Green Reaper.” Can someone from the media please ask them whether the “green” in the operation name is supposed to refer to the pot plants they found or to the taxpayer money that was wasted?
If Oklahoma City really is as small as the hearts and minds of its local sportscasters, Clay Bennett is gonna have a helluva tough time making a profit while meeting the payroll of a competitive team. Just take a gander at the neeter-neeter-neeterism that passed for journalism over at KOCO’s Sports Blog in the wake of the NBA approving the Sonics move:
Why does the city of Seattle want to keep the Sonics for two more lame duck seasons? Why wouldn’t the city want to take a huge lump sum payment and keep the Sonics name?
Seattle leaders and state legislators never really believed the Sonics would leave. Somehow, someway an arena deal would get done. Why would a team and a league abandon the 14th largest TV market in the country? There’s no way the team would leave the greatness of Seattle for the blandness of middle America, right? For some reason the “haves” in Seattle just thought it would all work out, now the city “has not” when it comes to a NBA future.
The city of Seattle wants to drag this thing out, to make it as painful and costly as possible for Bennett. Hopefully, they think, Bennett will sell the team to someone local and the Sonics will stay. Arrogance at its finest. As we say here in Oklahoma, “That ain’t happening.”
Talk about arrogance. Just remember that in a league where money easily trumps a 41-year history of fan loyalty, what goes around comes around.
And then there’s this thoughtful commentary from yet another KOKO sportscaster, who advises lifelong Seattle Sonics fans to just “deal with it.”
I am getting really tired of everyone else from Seattle crying about this move. If you really cared about the Sonics, then why didn’t you buy a ticket or even better yet approve payment on a new stadium?
One fact of life is that there are always consequences for your actions, and Seattle is now learning that lesson. But, so is OKC: It acted by supporting the Hornets. It acted by saying, “Sure, tax me,” to improve the Ford Center, and now they get the NBA.
Sorry, Seattle, but you had your chance and failed.
Now, we Okies get a shot to prove we really are a “Major League City” and can support an NBA franchise. Don’t worry, though: You still have the Seahawks and Mariners.
Yeah, well, I hope all you Okies enjoy paying a one-percent sales tax to build luxury boxes for the wealthy in your five year old Ford Center… a tax that will no doubt expire right around the time Bennett demands yet another new arena or renovation. Neeter, neeter, neeter.
Well, of course, she could win. Shit happens. Scandals. Wars. Terrorist attacks. Assassinations. But barring some paradigm-shifting calamity crushing Barack Obama’s presidential aspirations (or the man himself), Hillary Clinton just can’t win the Democratic nomination.
I know the Clinton fans at DL were cheered by her 9-point victory in Pennsylvania last night, but she can’t win. She can’t catch Obama in the pledged delegate count, and there is absolutely no indication that the remaining superdelegates will sharply break her way, nor any reason that they should. Two weeks from now, when the vote in North Carolina and Indiana is counted, Clinton will be further behind Obama in the delegate race than she was the morning before her big “victory” in Pennsylvania.
I’ve got nothing against Clinton. I like her. I’d enthusiastically support her should she win the nomination. But she can’t.
So given reality, and given the need for Democrats to unite together behind a nominee sometime before the end of August, I’d really like the Hillary boosters here on HA to explain to me why the superdelegates shouldn’t just come out and do their job, and decide this thing once and for all for Obama?
Safeco has been a Seattle corporate icon since… well… almost since Seattle has had corporate icons. But no more:
Liberty Mutual will buy Safeco for $6.12 billion in a deal to create the country’s fifth-biggest property insurer. […] Both boards have approved the deal, and the sale is expected to close by the end of the third quarter pending shareholder and regulatory approval.
Of course, the companies don’t mention it in their press release, but no doubt there will be substantial job losses at Safeco’s former headquarters after the firms consolidate their operations. But you know, if wealthy board members can get even wealthier selling out, even at the expense of their loyal employees and the local community that has supported the company for 85 years, well, that’s capitalism.
So… how does “Liberty Mutual Field” roll off your lips?
Just before 10PM last night, on the final day of Pledge Week, a $100 contribution came in, just sliding the needle past our $6,000 target. A heartfelt thanks to all 119 contributors for your generosity and support.
When I announced the milestone at Drinking Liberally, a fellow blogger exclaimed that they thought I was smoking crack to set such an ambitious target, to which I replied that I wasn’t afraid to fail. Nothing ventured nothing gained, and all that. But I guess I also had faith that the HA community had my back. And you did. 119 donors contributed $6,015 dollars, at an average of over $50.00 per donation, a truly amazing show of support, and while some of the righties may have trouble understanding the sentiment, the simple fact that so many of my readers were willing to show their appreciation in such a generous manner is at least as gratifying as the money itself.
Of course, we didn’t quite reach our 150 donor target, so I’m going to leave up the pledge bar at the top of the right column a little while longer for those of you who still want to chip in five or ten bucks, but I’m done with the fundraising appeals for now. Your contributions have made it possible for me to continue my work improving and expanding HA, and that’s exactly what I’m going to get back to doing after a good night’s sleep. A lot of great new features are coming your way, and I can’t wait to get them out the door.
Again, thank you all for your generous support, and for making HA a regular part of your daily routine.
To the well-dressed but drunk-as-a-skunk Clinton supporter at the Montlake Ale House on Tuesday night:
Probably not a good idea to drunkenly berate people for not supporting you candidate. When you ask someone what they think is important in the election, and they answer “change,” it’s best not to treat that answer as an attack on your candidate. It implies that you know your candidate isn’t for “change,” which is bad because this is a change election. (At least, that’s what the dozens of talking heads have been saying.)
Personally, I’m mostly happy with either one. While I lean towards Obama, I’m no super fan, and I’m certainly not going to get hammered and yell at strangers at the bar for not supporting him.
I don’t think this extended contest is hurting the party, but it seems to be doing a number on the combatants.