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Washington State News Archive

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"Employers cut payrolls for first time since 2003; jobless rate dips"--Seattle Times
More danger signs for the U.S. economy reared up this week, as the Department of Labor released a report showing that 17,000 jobs have been cut in the month of January alone. The unemployment rate dipped slightly to 4.9 percent from 5 percent in December. The report also showed that creation of new jobs for the entire year of 2007 was weaker than previously thought. The Federal Reserve has announced that it will provide banks with $60 billion more in loans to ease the burden of the housing slump and mortgage-lending crisis, an annoucement that comes shortly after two interest-rate cuts. All told, fears of a recession are growing as businesses tighten their belts and consumers halt spending. - 02/01/2008

"Fairchild awaits new air refueling tankers: McMorris Rodgers lobbies in Illinois for the base"--Spokane Spokesman-Review - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Fairchild Air Force Base is a pillar of Spokane's economy so it has the active support of local civic leaders. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, continuing her tradition of lobbying for Fairchild, led a Spokane delegation to speak with the commander of the Air Mobility Command. They urged the Air Force to station the new generation of aerial tankers at Fairchild. - 02/01/2008

"Bush unveils $3.1 trillion spending plan"--Seattle Times - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
President Bush’s budget for Fiscal Year 2009 will spend $70 billion on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and includes a $145 billion price tag for the economic stimulus plan. The stimulus plan will give tax refunds to individuals and tax cuts to businesses. Meanwhile, the budget cuts $196 billion in funding for Medicare and Medicaid programs. The federal budget deficit is projected to rise to $410 billion this year and $407 billion in 2009 under Bush’s plan. Democrats are questioning administration math that has the deficit declining and reaching a balance by 2012, saying that those numbers do not reflect reality. - 02/04/2008

"Poor WASL results lead to new math curriculum"--Longview Daily News
So far math scores have lagged behind reading scores on the mandatory Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) tests. These disappointing results have led the Superintendent of Public Instruction to issue a draft revision of Washngton's K-12 mathematical standards. The standards describe how mathematical concepts are developed for students from kindergarten through the 8th grade and then how they support advanced math classes in the 9th through 12th grades. The standards stress connecting mathematical concepts to everyday life. It's hoped that a better understanding of these concepts will lead to better scores on the math section of the WASL tests. - 02/04/2008

"Leased car ferry begins sea trials across treacherous Admiralty Inlet"--Peninsula Daily News
The Steilacoom II, a car ferry leased from Pierce County, will complete trial runs this week and if successful the ferry may start up the Port Townsend/Keystone car ferry route this Saturday. Car ferries have not been running for the past two months, since the Steel Electric state ferries were put out of commission due to corrosion. At a 50-car capacity, the Steilacoom II is smaller than the Steel Electrics. Gov. Gregoire has proposed adding three new ferries similar to the Steilacoom II to the fleet at Port Townsend to replace the Steel Electrics, but Port Townsend and Whidbey Island leaders are lobbying for larger ferries to accommodate demand. - 02/05/2008

"2007 airline delays 2nd worse ever"--Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Airline travelers haven’t had to put up with as much congestion and delay since 2000, the worst-ever year for airline delays. In 2007, 26 percent of all flights were delayed or canceled. Airlines have begun using smaller planes for flights in order to maximize profits, but smaller planes mean more flights overall that must take off and land each day. Various solutions have been proposed, such as charging landing fees to airlines to encourage them to spread flights throughout the day, and capping flights at major airports to 80 flights per hour during peak times. Airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration are also pushing for a new satellite system to control air traffic, which will cost $15 billion. - 02/06/2008

"The big decision — With both a primary and a caucus, what's a voter to do?"--Wenatchee World - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Presidential primary elections seem to be the most complex elections. There are two dates involved plus the Democratic and Republican parties play by different rules. The first date is February 9 when the parties will hold there local caucuses--and, of course, there are Democratic caucus rules and Republican caucus rules. The Democrats will totally rely on the caucus to pick its Presidential nominee. The Republicans rely on a combination of their caucus results and the February 19 primary election to chose their nominee. The parties like the caucus system because it's their party and they'll choose who they want to. Advocates of the primary election say that elections are a transparent selection process while the caucus system discrimates against people who can't attend a caucus. The Presidential primary was started in Washington as a result of Initiative 99 that was filed in 1988 and enacted by to the legislature in 1989. It was enacted as part of Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Chapter 29A.56. - 02/05/2008

"Tobacco could kill 1 billion by 2100"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The World Health Organization has released a report saying that 100 million people were killed by tobacco use in the last century, and with tobacco use rising in some of the world’s poorest nations, that number could grow to one billion by 2100. The report also says that although many governments collect taxes on tobacco products, less than one percent of those tax revenues are used to help people overcome their addictions. Only nine countries currently offer government-sponsored help for people trying to quit. The WHO is urging governments to put into place several tobacco controls, one of the most effective being the banning of all advertising for tobacco products. - 02/07/2008

"WSU teams up with backers of proposed Prosser wine center"--Yakima Herald-Republic - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Long gone are the days of Prohibition when local , state, and federal agencies tried to suppress the manufacture and sale of alcohol. Now local, state, and federal funds are going to promote winemaking and food at the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center at Prosser ("birthplace of the washington wine industry"). Washington State University will become a parnter in the Center, named after a WSU horticulturist who helped establish the Washington wine industry. The Center is getting support from local organizations like the Prosser Economic Development Association and the Port of Benton. - 02/07/2008

"WSP lab explains DUI goofs"--Seattle Times - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
130 people convicted of driving under the influence in Washinton are having their convictions revoked due to a technicality. The technicality in these cases was sloppy lab work and false statements on breath tests done by the Washington State Toxicology Laboratory. A panel of King County District Court Judges lambasted the laboratory's actions in a January decision (the Times has a link to the court's ruling.) The State Patrol has accepted the ruling. In a related story, "County to scrap DUI evidence: Toxicology laboratory’s drunken-driving breath tests considered questionable", the Olympia Olympian says that Thurston County will not use breath test evidence in some DUI cases. - 02/08/2008

"Othello Green Camp fined"--Moses Lake Columbia Basin Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The owners of Green Camp for migrant workers near Othello were hit by a $10,000 fine and the camp closed for being unsanitary and in poor condition. The action was taken by the U.S. Department of Labor under the Migrant and Seasonal Workers Protection Act. The Green Camp was also under inspection by Washington State Department of Health's Migrant Farmworker Housing Program which shut down two nearby migrant worker camps that were in similar condition. - 02/07/2008

"GOP caucus result in dispute: Huckabee team considers legal fight"--Olympia Olympian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Huckabee’s campaign chairman says that the race in Washington’s caucus was called for McCain too early, and that the votes still haven’t been completely counted. With 87 percent of the votes counted, McCain led Huckabee by 242 votes. According to Huckabee’s camp, there are 1500 votes left uncounted. The Huckabee campaign has said they will do everything within their legal power to make sure every vote is counted. Though Huckabee trails McCain by a significant number of delegates nationwide, he has said he will remain in the presidential race. - 02/11/2008

"Foes target gorge resort hearing"--Vancouver Columbian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Columbia River Groge Commission is likely to holding a heated meeting on Feb. 12 at Hood River. The purpose of the meeting is to hear arguments for and against allowing the Broughton Landing development on the site of a closed saw mill in Skamania County. The proposed development is in the Coumbia Gorge Scenic Area. If the Commission allows the deveopment, it will have to modify the area's Management Plan mandated under the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area Act. The Friends of the Columbia Gorge actively oppose the development. The developer is unhappy because the Commission wants to limit the size of the buildings and prohibit year round residents. Washington politicians have supported the development because of unemployment in Skamania County. - 02/11/2008

"Lender, community group aid troubled homeowners"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Countrywide Financial Corp. and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) have teamed up to help thousands of struggling homeowners keep up with their monthly mortgage payments. ACORN will work with the lender and homeowners to refinance homes at lower interest rates, get a five-year deferment on higher interest rates, or help negotiate other loan modifications on subprime loans. Seven percent of Countrywide’s loans were delinquent as of December 31, and about one percent were on the brink of foreclosure. ACORN estimates it will be able to assist about 1,000 people in the Seattle area alone, although Washington is ranked low on the list of home foreclosures. - 02/12/2008

"Sex crimes bills pass House, but not DNA database"--Bellingham Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Several sex crimes bills easily passed through the Washington House of Representatives Tuesday, but the bill aimed at gathering DNA of offenders has been stalled. Lawmakers say the list of who would be required to contribute to the DNA database is too long, and many of the offenses do not involve sex crimes. A Senate version of the bill is slightly scaled back in who it requires to submit DNA samples. The goal of the sex crime bills in this session was to broaden the scope of the laws in the state and make certain sex crimes come with higher penalties and jail time. One bill also calls for adding low-risk sex offenders to the sex criminal notification website. - 02/13/2008

"ACLU, Rick Steves launch marijuana campaign"--Seattle Times - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Rick Steves, the Edmonds travel guide who has his own travel program on PBS, is teaming up with the state American Civil Liberties Union office to create an informational program about marijuana laws. Steves says he thinks the U.S. needs to reconsider its laws and fashion an outlook on marijuana similar to that of Europe. According to ACLU, the U.S. spends $7.5 billion per year on marijuana-related law enforcement, which ties up the justice system. ACLU also claims that African Americans are several times more likely to be cited for marijuana possession than whites, although they account for a much smaller percentage of users. Although Washington has passed a medical-marijuana law, a Supreme Court ruling said that state laws cannot supersede federal laws. - 02/14/2008

"Senate backs wildlife corridor plan: Spokane would be 'capital' of Yellowstone to Yukon region"--Spokane Spokesman-Review - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
(Registration may be required to read this article. State Library cardholders can access articles in back issues via ProQuest.) The Washington State Senate passed Senate Bill 5318 that would have the Fish and Wildlife Department "...actively seek to involve local governments, landowners, and local conservation organizations..." in the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y). This initiative aims to create a wildlife conservation and migration corridor running down the from the Yukon to Yellowstone. The Washington state portion would run through the northeast corner of the state. Under the proposal Spokane would be named the "capital" of the United States stretch of the corridor and Calgary would be named "capital" of the Canadian stretch. Opponents of the bill--including most Eastern Washington senators--are afraid the bill would lead to more land use regulations. One senator suggested that I-90 would be closed by migrating animals. - 02/14/2008

"High court: Farmer had right to shoot cherry-picking elk"--Wenatchee World - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Although wild elk are property of the state and the hunting of them is regulated by the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the State Supreme Court ruled they lose some of that protection after causing $250,000 in damages. The Court ruled in State v. Vander Houwen that Jerry Vander Houwen was within his rights to shoot elk after they repeatedly trashed his orchard and he repeatedly tried nonviolent ways of stopping them. It didn't help the the Department of Fish and Wildlife dragged its heels after he repeatedly complained about the damage to his orchard. The Department did act after dead elk started showing up around his property and charged Mr. Vander Howen with poaching. (The Department could have given him permission to shoot them by treating it as an emergency situation.) The Court ruled that Mr. Vander Houwen's right to protect his property was protected by Article I Section 3 of the State Constitution. - 02/15/2008

"U.S. plans to shoot down satellite"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer
The U.S. will try to shoot down a dying spy satellite because officials claim it is filled with toxic gas that could potentially kill people if the satellite crashes to the earth on its own. Right now the satellite is projected to spiral back to Earth during the first week of March, but the military may shoot it down as soon as next week. The Pentagon estimates it has about an 80 percent chance of hitting its target. They will shoot at the satellite with a Standard Missile 3. Some say that the gas from the satellite poses a minimal threat and the U.S. is using the satellite as an excuse to show off its military might to other countries. - 02/14/2008

"Senate OKs flexibility for sex-ed grants"--Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The state Senate has decided that the Department of Health can pass along its federal “abstinence only” sex-ed grants to nonprofit groups, thereby allowing the health department to engage in more comprehensive sexual education. Federal laws mandate that grants given to state sexual education programs can only be used to promote abstinence, but a state law passed last year also requires the state to promote “medically accurate” information regarding contraceptives and birth control. Allowing the department to either pass the money along to other groups who promote abstinence or decide not to apply at all for the grants would mean that the department could legally provide more comprehensive sexual education in schools without the Catch-22. - 02/19/2008

"VA to build $6.7 million unit for recovery in Walla Walla"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Center in Walla Walla has been shown some love by the the Veterans Administration. The love comes in the form of a $6.7 million mental health unit with 36 beds. This decision is a turn around from the days when the VA's Capital Asset Realignment for Enchanced Services (CARES) Commission initially recommended closing the Walla Walla VA Center in 2006. Washington's Congressional delegation in both the House and Senate has lobbied hard in support of the Walla Walla VA Center. It serves veterans in 15 counties in Eastern Washington, Idaho, and Oregon. - 02/20/2008

"White Center pilot project to invest millions in early education"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The Gates Foundation and Thrive by Five are donating $12 million dollars to fund an early learning project in Seattle’s White Center neighborhood. The project will concentrate on helping children from birth to age five, and will provide services to families speaking a variety of languages. The initiative also includes funding for another early learning “model,” to be centered in Yakima. The pilot project will put Washington at the head of the pack for early childhood initiatives, and it is hoped that even when the flow of money from the Gates Foundation ends, the program will be self-sustaining from private donations and fees. Research has shown that providing children from infancy to age five with quality preschool and daycare lowers incarceration and drug use rates. - 02/20/2008

"House trims budget plans"--Olympia Olympian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The House Democrats’ supplemental budget plan comes in at $287 million, which includes a one percent raise for teachers and a savings of $185 million. $750 million will be kept in savings for next year. In order to come up with the savings, the budget plan will delay the start of all-day kindergartens in high-poverty areas until the economy recovers. The state’s revenue forecast dropped by $423.4 million last week, prompting a trimmer budget. State Republicans still say spending is too high, although Democrats allege that savings have actually increased compared to other years. - 02/21/2008

"Eruption may be out of steam"--Vancouver Columbian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Mount St. Helens seems to have ended its 40 month long eruption. It's been a relatively quiet eruption that has here.) Dome building is how the volcano rebuilds itself. The end of this volcanic activity has led the U.S. Geological Survey to lower it Volcano Alert Level to "Advisory", the second lowest level. This reduction means things have quieted down but USGS is keeping a close eye on the mountain just in case. - 02/22/2008

"Fishermen, feds debate sea lions' fate"--Yakima Herald-Republic - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
California sea lions shouldn't take their status as a protected species under the Marine Mammal Protection Act for granted. The problem is that they've been feasting on other threatened species: Columbia River salmon. The sea lions congregate around Bonneville Dam and catch thousands of salmon each year. Hazing techniques haven't scared off the sea lions so the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho have petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for permission to kill some of the sea lions. The NMFS did an environmental assessment that generally supported the request. The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission also supports the request for limited killing of these sea lions. - 02/25/2008

"Premera surpluses here subsidizes Arizona losses"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Premera Blue Cross, which is a nonprofit health insurance provider in Washington, filed statements with the Insurance Commissioner’s office that showed it used funds gained here to bail out a for-profit subsidiary in Arizona. While the transfers aren’t illegal, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler worries that the practice is unfair to Washington policy holders who have seen their insurance premiums increase substantially over the past couple of years. Concerns have been floated that Arizona rates have been kept low to attract customers while Washingtonians feel the pinch of rate increases. A bill is currently under review in the legislature that would give the insurance commissioner oversight over rate increases. - 02/24/2008

"State officials: office project should be visually appealing"--Olympia Olympian - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The design for the planned three-building development that will house the state Department of Information Services and the Washington State Patrol will be presented to the public tonight. Legislators are urging the architects to avoid the glass-and-metal look of some recent government buildings, preferring instead that the architecture match the more classical stone look of the Legislative Building and Temple of Justice. The project is slated to begin this summer and end in two years. The new buildings will be located near the I-5 interchange on the Capitol Campus, so they will be readily visible. - 02/26/2008

"Chemical pollutants found in U.S. parks including Mt. Rainier, Olympics"--Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
A six-year federal study shows that many western U.S. parks are contaminated with airborne chemicals from nearby agricultural areas. Two of Mount Rainier’s lakes had high levels of mercury and flame retardants, which are unhealthy for birds and fish, as well as people who eat those animals. Fish samples at Olympic National Park also revealed some of the highest mercury levels out of any of the parks studied. Vegetation in both places showed high levels of pollutants. Researchers originally hypothesized that contaminants were blowing in from the Far East, but this comprehensive study demonstrates that they are most likely coming from regional agricultural areas close to the parks. In order to comply with federal laws such as the NPS Organic Act, government agencies will need to find ways to prevent these pollutants from entering pristine wilderness areas. - 02/27/2008

"Sage grouse will be reconsidered for listing"--Spokane Spokesman-Review
The greater sage grouse is getting a second chance at being listed as an endangered species. There are about 900 left of them in Eastern Washington. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service denied the greater sage grouse endangered status in 2004. Experts had urged the bird be protected. They were overruled by a political appointee who was a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wilidlife and Parks. A decision in the Idaho District Court of Appeals found that the Department's decision ignored the concept of using the "best science" in denying the greater sage grouse endangered species status. - 02/26/2008

"African-American museum to open at last"--Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Seattle’s brand-new Northwest African-American Museum will open its doors on March 8, after years of struggle for control among various factions. The museum is organized in reverse chronological order, beginning with an exploration of more current African-American experiences both in the Northwest and the nation, and then moving backward in time. The exhibits will showcase the lives of little-known but groundbreaking people in the black community, and will also have displays on more prominent people such as Jimi Hendrix. It is located in an old school in Seattle’s Central Area neighborhood. The museum will award music producer Quincy Jones with a lifetime achievement award in a concert at the Paramount Theatre on March 16. - 02/27/2008

"Record-high ratio of Americans in prison"--Pasco Tri-City Herald - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The title "One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008" says it all. Over 1% of the adult American population was behind bars at the start of 2008. If that doesn't seem like a large percentage, then realize it translates into 2,319,258 people at a cost of over $49 billion dollars. This report was issued by the nonpartisan Pew Center on the States. The report draws on statistics from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. The number of adults in the correctional system has been steadily growing--after adding adults on probation and parole to those in prison the percentage reached 3.2% in 2006. In Washington state jail population statistics through 2006 are available from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. The Washington Department of Corrections issues statistics on prison populations. - 02/28/2008

"Should roads have tolls to fight global warming?"--Seattle Times - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
Two bills are currently being considered in the state legislature that may mean more toll roads for Washington. House Bill 2815 requires the state to reduce greenhouse gases by 2050 and to halve the number of miles traveled by vehicles, also by 2050. House Bill 1773 requires the state to reduce emissions through the use of toll roads, which would become permanent. The tolls could vary according to time of day, becoming more expensive during peak travel times. The state could earn up to $36 billion using toll roads throughout the Puget Sound region, and the money would go towards highway maintenance and increased public transportation. One option for frequent drivers would be a transponder program that automatically deducts the toll from a prepaid account as drivers go by. - 02/29/2008

"Problem ballots mistakenly counted: County auditor says mix-up did not change any outcome"--Spokane Spokesman-Review - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The bad news is that the Elections Division of the Spokane County Auditor's Office counted 500 rejected ballots as part of the Presidential Primary's results. The good news is that these ballots didn't change the outcome of the election, and, one hopes, people will learn from their mistakes and not repeat them in the fall Presidential election. While the Secretary of State is responsible for making the election rules, it is the responsibility of the county auditor (or designated official) to register voters and carry out the election. In this case the error occurred with counting center procedures. - 02/29/2008


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