by Jon DeVore, 01/31/2009, 11:46 PM
by Lee, 01/31/2009, 3:45 PM

I’ve mentioned before that I work with a student group at the University of Washington called AIESEC. I had been involved as a student with the chapter at the University of Michigan back in the mid-90s, and began helping out the UW chapter soon after I moved here. The organization runs a worldwide internship exchange program and has chapters across the world. It’s the largest student organization in the world.

Recently, the Financial Times printed an article about AIESEC’s expansion into China [PDF]. When I was a junior in Ann Arbor looking for overseas internship opportunities, China wasn’t an option (I wound up going to Helsinki). That would change for students in later years, and it was largely because of a very motivated AIESEC member from the University of Washington, Lili Hein.

I’ve known Lili for almost a decade now, and what she and others did back then to convince the Chinese Ministry of Education to embrace the AIESEC program was extraordinary for a college student. Recently, the AIESEC alumni blog AIESEC Life posted an interview with Lili and Joel Sanders. Joel is a former University of Colorado AIESEC member who was also a big part of that effort.

The AIESEC chapter at UW just wrapped up its winter recruitment drive, but it’s never too late for interested folks to sign up – and change the world.

by Jon DeVore, 01/31/2009, 7:13 AM

On Thursday The Big Picture had some excerpts from the January newsletter of GMO, a global investment firm. The comments were written by Jeremy Grantham, the chairman of GMO’s board, and are absolutely fascinating, if not easily quoted on a blog like this.

The excerpts at The Big Picture were run under the title Grantham assigned the first section of his newsletter, “Greed + Incompetence + A Belief in Market Efficiency = Disaster,” and they are worth a moment of your time. If you want to worry about the people Obama has picked to pilot the boat during this storm, check it out.

But the the part that really stunned me was Grantham’s discussion about the scale of the economic disaster, especially when it comes to write-downs and private debt. Keep reading for more. Read the rest of this entry »

by Lee, 01/30/2009, 8:33 PM

It’s good to find time for some less serious stuff.

by Goldy, 01/30/2009, 5:53 PM

by Goldy, 01/30/2009, 12:39 PM
by Goldy, 01/30/2009, 8:54 AM

Word is, the Blethens have enough cash on hand to keep the Seattle Times operating through at least March, but they’ll reach a major decision point by May:

While a bankruptcy filing is not imminent, if things play out as expected (no last minute reprieve for the P-I, no big concessions from the Times’ unions), Times executives believe a Chapter 11 filing is more likely than not. Such a filing would not necessarily mean the paper is doomed; rather, a Chapter 11 reorganization would buy the paper time, allowing it to continue publishing as it restructured its operations, figured out a way to pay off its debt, and renegotiated its contracts in an effort to make the paper viable when the local economy recovers.

In other words, the Times will use bankruptcy as an opportunity to break the unions.

More from Publicola’s News Junkie.

by Lee, 01/30/2009, 5:00 AM

Click for Part 5

“It behoves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own.” – Thomas Jefferson

Last summer, Prince George County Police in Maryland intercepted a package containing 32 pounds of marijuana that was addressed to a local woman. On July 29, undercover police officers went to the residence as part of a SWAT team to deliver the package. An older woman first came to the door and told them to leave it on the porch. Soon after, a middle-aged man who’d been walking his dogs picked up the box and put it inside.

With that, the police made their move. They invaded the home, quickly shooting a potentially dangerous dog, then another. They kept the suspects cuffed until they had enough time to search the home for evidence. Eventually, the police left without being able to make any arrests. Why? Because the person whose home had been invaded was Cheye Calvo, the mayor of the town of Berwyn Heights. He and his family were completely innocent of any crimes.

Read the rest of this entry »

by Goldy, 01/29/2009, 8:14 PM

by Goldy, 01/29/2009, 4:34 PM
by Jon DeVore, 01/29/2009, 2:16 PM

Romenesko linked to this 1981 television report about how newspapers could someday be delivered via computer. A man named Richard Halloran, identified in the report as “Owns Home Computer,” talked about being able to give “interrogation” to newspapers due to the ability to copy and save articles, thus making him possibly the first man to envision blogging. Sorta.

Sadly, one editor talked about how they weren’t looking to make money at it.

by Goldy, 01/29/2009, 10:45 AM

Not surprisingly, the Seattle Times editorial board urges Seattle School Board members to “maintain your resolve” to close five more schools, while chastising affected parents fighting to save the schools they love:

Some families found this process hurried and may mistakenly see the flurry of amendments as a way to prolong the outcome.

So here’s my question to the ed board and other opinion writers at the Times:  how many of you have children who are now attending, or have graduated from Seattle Public Schools?  How many of you even live in Seattle?

And if you don’t have a personal stake in this battle, who are you to tell us how to run our district, or to belittle dedicated parents for doing whatever they can to save their neighborhood schools?

Given the choice between closing more schools and paying a few dollars more on our property tax, I’m betting Seattle voters would choose the latter.  So instead of just presenting a false choice between school closures and budget crisis, here’s a novel idea worth editorializing about:  perhaps the Legislature should give school districts the ability to weather the current economic downturn by granting the authority to temporarily exceed the current cap on the percentage of revenues that can be raised through local school levies?

And since the Times owns property in Seattle, they would be free to editorialize on the subsequent levy vote all they want, without coming off as a bunch of holier-than-thou outsiders.

Bruce Ramsey answers my question via email:

I was born in Seattle, went to university in Seattle, I live in Seattle and I have a child in the Seattle Public Schools.

Of the four editorial writers, two live in Seattle and two live in the suburbs in King County.

By my count there are six editorial board writers, when you include editors Jim Vesely and Kate Riley, neither of whom live in Seattle.  Not that I think residency should be a prerequisite for commentary, but… well… I’m just sayin’….

by Goldy, 01/29/2009, 9:40 AM

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out Brian’s post on the new domestic partnership legislation wending its way through Olympia.  (It’s the kinda thorough, original reporting I’m told you’re not supposed to be able to find on the blogs… and that you’re seeing less and less of in the dailies.)

The bill would add over 300 rights and obligations to domestic partnerships, essentially marriage equality in everything by name, at least under Washington state law.  (Federal law would still have to change to allow for true marriage equality, whatever we call it.)  But as Brian points out, the big story here is how noncontroversial this issue has become:

Those blatant displays of humanity aside, [Sen. Ed] Murray commented that one of the aspects most worthy of celebration with the announcement of these bills was the relative lack of fanfare from the other side.

“I would say the most remarkable thing about this bill is that it is unremarkable,” Murray mentioned, explaining that many of the fiercely fought battles that had been fought in the last few decades were inconspicuously absent from today’s atmosphere, even resulting in the aforementioned Republican sponsors of the House bill.

It took decades of bitter political fighting simply to make it illegal to discriminate based on sexual preference (yup, up until a couple years ago, it was perfectly legal to deny somebody a job, a loan, housing or insurance, simply because you thought they might be a little faggy), and now it looks like almost marriage equality is going to sail through the legislature with nary a fight.

Part of this has to do with the Democrats’ near super-majority in both houses, but a lot of it has to do with growing public acceptance of same sex couples.  Hmm.  I guess the rabid opponents of the anti-discrimination laws were right—it is a slippery slope after all.

A slippery slope toward greater freedom and equality, that is.

by Lee, 01/29/2009, 5:00 AM

Click for Part 4

Over the weekend of April 19-20 last year, the city of Chicago was enjoying the springtime. Tourists filled Millennium Park and walked along Michigan Avenue. Music fans crowded the Lincoln Park Zoo for Earth Day concerts. The Cubs swept the Pirates at Wrigley Field. And local son Barack Obama was campaigning in Pennsylvania as a sense was growing that we were about to see history by the end of the year. But not all of Chicago was in a festive mood. Over that same weekend, there were 37 shooting incidents across the city. Police superintendent Jody Weis simply said “you have too many guns and too many guns and too much drugs on the street.”

It was in these neighborhoods in the mid-1980s that Barack Obama was an idealistic young man with an Ivy League degree determined to make a difference. It was also during that time that the death of Len Bias led to Joe Biden’s Anti Drug Abuse Act of 1986. That legislation was meant to help out our inner cities by targeting the drug gangs. But as Obama has rocketed up the political landscape, he had a front row seat to the real and disastrous effects that those laws were having in the neighborhoods of Chicago.

Read the rest of this entry »

by BTB, 01/29/2009, 1:21 AM

Olympia – In front of a crowd of more than 30 legislators, supporters and families of same sex couples Wednesday afternoon, state Sen. Ed Murray (D-Seattle) announced the introduction of Senate and House bills that would expand full state marriage rights to domestic partners, but would stop short of calling the relationships marriages in the eyes of the state.

The House bill has 57 sponsors out of 98 total Representatives, including two Republicans, Maureen Walsh (R-College Place) and Norm Johnson (R-Yakima), and the Senate offering has 20 sponsors from the body’s 49 members.

No Republican Senators, however, found the cause worthy of sponsorship.

The pair of bills would add over 300 rights and obligations for domestic partnerships ranging from survivor and pension benefits to business license transfers, which Rep. Jamie Pederson (D-Seattle), the chief sponsor of the House bill, said would “make sure our families are treated exactly the same.”

Still, even if the state legislation passes, certain same sex couples will lack some Federal benefits until President Obama makes good on his promise to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

Besides the usual measure of equality and long-time-coming, the legislators also took time today to frame the issue in terms of the sour economy.

“Families across this nation feel more and more insecure. If there was at theme for this session,” Murray said, “it would be family economic security.”

Extending crucial benefits to families of same-sex couples, the implication suggests, is even more important now than it was before. He said now is the time that there needs to be a conversation about the concrete ways that families of same sex couples are harmed because they lack the same benefits as heterosexual couples.

To help hammer home the need for domestic partnership benefit rights, four same-sex couples, half of them with young children in tow, spoke about their feelings of going through everyday life not only with the hardships that come from improper benefits, but the stigma that their families, especially their children, have from being excluded.

It was a regular all-American display, with one of the couples’ nine year old daughter doing her best Piper Palin turn, struggling to hold onto her baby sister as she stood beside her mother at the podium.

Another couple, both of whom hold PhDs from the University of Washington, informed the reporters that their elementary school aged daughter was “just coming to terms with the fact that our family doesn’t have the same recognition and rights that her friends’ families do, and it is confusing to her.”

Then there was the Tacoma police officer who grew emotional while reminding those gathered that she faces the same dangers on the streets each day as her straight co-workers, yet she is saddled with the additional stress of knowing that if anything happened to her, only now, with the help of this bill, would her partner receive the full spousal benefits she deserved.

Those blatant displays of humanity aside, Murray commented that one of the aspects most worthy of celebration with the announcement of these bills was the relative lack of fanfare from the other side.

“I would say the most remarkable thing about this bill is that it is unremarkable,” Murray mentioned, explaining that many of the fiercely fought battles that had been fought in the last few decades were inconspicuously absent from today’s atmosphere, even resulting in the aforementioned Republican sponsors of the House bill.

“Instead of culture wars,” Murray said, “we see a legislature that is mostly on board.”

But if the atmosphere is so good, and domestic partnerships are such a no-brainer these days, why not just go all in and join the ranks of Massachusetts and Connecticut, the two states who currently recognize gay marriage?

The lawmakers answered this question in part by passing the buck to a public that they said, outside of the greater Seattle area, was still coming to terms with gay rights.

“We are involved in a conversation with the people of this state,” Murray said. “It is still new to a lot of people in this state.”

Plus, there will be the matter of initiative battles like the recent Proposition 8 that rocked the civil rights world in California this past year.

“On a personal level, it is kind of amazing what the opposition is willing to do,” Murray said, implying that the supporters of gay marriage intend to swing with a knockout blow when they finally push for full equality. “We know that there will be an initiative at some point. We are preparing ourselves for that battle…We plan to win. We don’t plan to win and then lose.”

Despite this ongoing conversation, Rep. Jim Moeller (D-Vancouver) will be introducing a bill in the House this session, H.B. 1745, that would bring full civil marriage rights to same sex couples in common with their fellow heterosexual citizens.

“There is nothing more personal than the decision between two human beings who make the decision to be committed to one another,” Moeller said and compared the issue to private entities that know that “discrimination is no way to run a business. What we know is what we have always known for a long time, that separate is not equal.”

That bill has 40 sponsors already, including Republican Walsh, yet it won’t be considered in committee.

All part of the process, co-sponsor Rep. Marko Liias (D-Mukilteo) assured me later Wednesday afternoon.

“That’s where the conversation is centered right now,” Liias said, echoing Murray’s sentiment from earlier in the day. “Not everyone who needs to be part of the process is ready to go there right now. There isn’t quite the consensus we need.”

Liias also gave some recommendations for gay marriage’s staunch advocates.

“Get out there and start doing the community organization,” he advised, “and get folks to start writing in from all over the state. Those folks need to start speaking to their friends and neighbors.”

Even if the legislature stops short by simply adding domestic partnership benefits, Sen. Murray predicted today that it won’t be long.

“It will take some years,” he said, “but it will not take the 29 years that the civil rights bill took. It is a multi-year effort, but not a multi-decade effort.”

by Goldy, 01/28/2009, 11:22 PM

Those of you trying to read HA and Publicola tonight between about 9PM and 10:30PM (and for about 15 minutes this afternoon) were greeted with the dreaded White Screen of Death.  No error message, no nothin’, just a blank, white screen.

At this point, I don’t know what causes it, or what fixes it.  It’s pretty damn frustrating.

Anyway, if anybody out there has some expertise with WPMU, and would like to offer their help, I’d greatly appreciate it.

by Jon DeVore, 01/28/2009, 7:37 PM
by Jon DeVore, 01/28/2009, 6:51 PM

It’s “Time” for Portland to deal with Sam Adams.

Feeling they were on the verge of a breakthrough, Jaquiss and Willamette Week went after Adams again. The new mayor denied the claims again. But on the Monday before Inauguration, he called his colleagues and supporters to say there was truth to the charges. “I believe what I said was, ‘You’re a f___ing moron,’” says Wiener. “I was, and am, pissed and saddened by it.”

Civil rights are for everyone because they’re inviolate. Respect you have to earn and keep.

Adams and the celebrities who threw in to support Adams may have had a point about the traditional media jumping the gun, but come on. Adams is a scumbag and it damages the progressive movement to defend people like this. Enough already.

We’ve got a bridge to build. Six months or a year of the Portland mayor (who is a complete scumbag) being distracted is not what the region needs. And please, spare me the sanctimony about “personal lives.” Honorable people don’t make out with kids in city hall bathrooms and then destroy potential political opponents with lies.

by Jon DeVore, 01/28/2009, 2:23 PM

Jobs going in a puff of steam:

Starbucks will cut 6,000 positions as it closes 300 stores worldwide over the next eight months and will eliminate about 700 non-store workers by mid-February as it cuts costs to stem its eroding profits.

The immediate layoffs include about 350 employees at its Seattle headquarters, about 11 percent of the 3,200 people who work there. The 300 store closures will include 200 U.S. shops.

Yet another blow to the Northwest. It’s too bad, I always liked Starbucks. You may now have to cross the street to get to one up there in Seattle, however.

by Goldy, 01/28/2009, 1:14 PM

Thanks mostly to its bizarre name, is probably one of the leading political blogs nationwide… in terms of traffic from Googling pornographic search terms.  And yet, I almost totally ignored the sensational Enumclaw horse story, and the easy page views that would have come with it.  Go figure.

So to make up for that business miscalculation, I thought I’d block-quote this paragraph from an AP story today about an Oregon couple, jailed for sexually abusing their dog :

Chase said Baalbergen performed oral sex on the dog and received oral, vaginal and anal sex. He said Baker received anal sex.

Ugh.  But two thoughts.

First, I’m no dog whisperer or anything, but I’m not sure most dogs would classify that as “abuse.”  And second:

The dog, Max, had to be killed.

“Because of the way it was taught to interact with people, it couldn’t be placed in another home,” Chase said.

I’ve known plenty of dogs who were incorrigible leg humpers, but unless you cooperate by pulling your pants down and getting on all fours, I’m not sure what the big problem is.  Maybe they could have tried a couple squirts from a spray bottle before offing the poor dog?