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Washington State News Archive

Below are archived news items for the current month. To view a previous month, choose it from the list below.

"UN: No comprehensive climate deal this year"--Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
The UN’s current climate chief made a bold statement when he told reporters that there would be no major steps in an international agreement towards climate change this year. He predicted that the soonest a comprehensive treaty could come would be in 2012. This winter’s climate conference in Copenhagen was ultimately a bust, and revealed that developing nations and industrialized nations often did not see eye-to-eye on the climate-change agenda. Climate Chief De Boer said that poorer nations need more assurance from richer nations that they are dedicated to financing $100 billion over time, and richer nations need to come up with realistic plans for achieving funding. So far, nations have agreed that earth’s temperature cannot be allowed to raise more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial times. - 05/03/2010

"Regional disparities mark child obesity picture"--Spokane Spokesman-Review
A new government poll shows that obesity among children seems to be spreading. Oregon demonstrated the lowest number of obese children, with a little less than ten percent of kids with a high body mass index. Washington and Idaho also ranked low percentages, which make officials wonder if there is a regional connection to fitness. Mississippi clocked in with the highest number of obese children at around 20 percent. Oregon recently implemented state laws regarding nutrition standards in schools. The Healthy People 2010 initiative aimed to bring childhood obesity to just five percent, but all states fell far short of that goal. - 05/04/2010

"Pioneer Square drug sweep targets cocaine dealers"--Seattle Times
Seattle police conducted a targeted sweep of 27 drug dealers yesterday, resulting in apprehension of 15 suspects. The so-called “Operation Roll the Rock” is still ongoing, and includes officers from the narcotics and vice squads as well Department of Corrections officers. The new initiative is part of an effort to clean up the Pioneer Square neighborhood, which has a high population of transients. Officers say drug dealers target people with addictions staying at the Lazarus Day Center. The Pioneer Square neighborhood has a history of shady characters, as it is the site of the original Skid Road. - 05/05/2010

"You'll know it's candy by its tax, not its taste"--Tacoma News Tribune
Now that the state legislature has decided to up the taxes on candy (among other items) in order to help balance the state budget, the Department of Revenue has to define what “candy” really is. Their definition may be surprising: anything containing flour or needing refrigeration is not treated as candy, and won’t be taxed. This means similar items that share a brand name won’t necessarily be taxed in the same way; Snickers candy bars will be taxed, but Snickers Crunchers will not. The definition used by the state may seem random, but it is actually the one recommended by the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board. The Tacoma News Tribune has created a special database to tell what candy is taxable and what is not. - 05/12/2010

"Cowiche Creek fish plan loses backing of irrigation district"--Yakima Herald-Republic
The members of the Yakima-Tieton Irrigation District have backed out of an agreement reached with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation which would have used a pipeline to divert water out of the Cowiche Creek and into other irrigation systems. The pipeline would allow for the removal of a diversion dam currently in the creek, thus allowing for more water to pass through for steelhead trout recovery. State and federal wildlife agencies are urging the Bureau to go ahead with the project despite the opposition, since the Mid-Columbia steelhead trout are listed as an endangered species and Cowiche Creek has the potential to be a major fish-producing area. The NOAA Fisheries agency is expected to issue an opinion on the matter within the next year. - 05/13/2010

"Puget Sound funds misspent"--The Olympian
The state auditor’s office has found that the Puget Sound Partnership, a new state agency dedicated to restoring the waters of the Sound, has been fiscally irresponsible. Among the findings, the Partnership tried to circumvent the < a href="">contract bidding process by awarding a low contract to a its preferred law firm, didn’t look at other vendors when purchasing clothing items to give away to employees, and did not follow the competitive bidding process for the purchase of promotional lip balm. The agency has said that the misspent funds can be attributed to the growing pains of a new agency, and has promised that it will look more closely at spending in the future. The auditor’s office did not find evidence of fraud, and no one has been disciplined. - 05/14/2010

"MOUNT ST. HELENS: Rising from the ashes"--Vancouver Columbian
Thirty years ago, Mount St. Helens blew its top, and life on the mountain has slowly been recovering ever since that day. Ash and hot pumice covered much of the landscape after the blast, and silt choked the North Fork Toutle River. Now, alders, cottonwood, and some Douglas firs can be seen on the mountain, along with beavers, elk, birds, and insects. The National Science Foundation has provided grants to allow Mount St. Helens to become one of the most studied devastated landscapes, helping scientists learn how ecologies recover and change after a catastrophe occurs. Geologists have also learned more from the mountain about how volcanoes erupt. - 05/17/2010

"Job picture brightens; older workers struggle"--Seattle Times
The state of Washington has added 5,800 jobs in the month of April, which is good news for the masses of unemployed citizens. The new jobs were reflected in the state’s unemployment rate, which dropped to 9.2 percent this month, the biggest drop in Washington state unemployment in almost three years. However, the nation’s overall unemployment rate remains high at 9.9 percent. The rate is highest for young people, but an AARP study shows that workers over the age of 55 tend to be unemployed for longer periods of time, at an average of 38.4 weeks. Economists are hopeful that the recent addition of jobs to the state’s economy means that things will soon be looking up for all types of workers. - 05/19/2010

"Dioxin questions rise along the Duwamish"--Seattle Times
Residents of Seattle’s South Park neighborhood have elevated levels of a toxin known as dioxin in their yards, but no one seems to know what to do about it or even what threats the current levels of the toxin pose. Dioxins are known to cause skin diseases, heart problems, and diabetes, but no one is sure how much exposure is safe. The amount found in the South Park neighborhood is above state ecology hazardous clean-up requirements, but below what other agencies consider to be safe. Seattle City Light might be responsible for the toxin, since it gave waste oil to an asphalt company to spray on streets to keep down dust. However, City Light isn’t taking responsibility just yet. The state Department of Health is expected to release a study on the toxin levels next month. - 05/20/2010

"DOE endorses B Reactor for historical park"--Pasco/Kennewick/Richland Tri City Herald
The Department of Energy has recommended that Hanford’s B Reactor be included in any national park about the Manhattan Project. The National Park Service had issued a draft report in December that only included the facility in Los Alamos, New Mexico for a National Historical Park on the Manhattan Project. But supporters of the B Reactor museum are pushing for Hanford to be included as well, since it would allow Hanford to receive national park funding and marketing. DOE assured the park service that it would work to ensure visitor safety while providing educational tours. The B Reactor museum’s 4,000 seats for public tours were sold out in a matter of hours, demonstrating the huge public interest in the facility. - 05/21/2010

"Dino Rossi plans a Senate run at Patty Murray"--Everett Herald
An anonymous Republican official announced that Dino Rossi plans to run against democrat Sen. Patty Murray in November’s election. Rossi’s staff has not commented on the announcement, but says he will make an announcement of his own next week. Rossi is best known for his runs against Gov. Chris Gregoire in 2004 and 2008. He lost the 2004 election by a thin margin, and the recounting battle was taken to court. A recent poll shows that Washingtonians currently favor Murray over Rossi, at a ratio of 44 percent to 40 percent. Sen. Murray has held her seat in the U.S. Senate since 1992, and has become an influential member of Congress. However, Republicans are hoping that the popularity of the so-called Tea Party will lead a backlash against democratic incumbents. - 05/25/2010

"County's still smoking, but bystanders are breathing easier"--Longview Daily News
According to the state Department of Health, adults exposed to secondhand smoke at home in Cowlitz County dropped from 17.7 percent in 2003 to 11.1 percent in 2007 and 2008. Overall, 24 percent of residents in Cowlitz County are smokers. Renters are more likely to be smokers, so the drop in secondhand exposure rates may be partially due to landlords who have made their properties smoke-free. However, 18 percent of adult smokers in Washington report that smoking occurs in homes with children. The U.S. Surgeon General issued a report in 2006 that concluded there is no safe amount of exposure to secondhand smoke, so the only way to avoid the dangers of smoke is to eliminate exposure. - 05/26/2010

"Obama's panel on nuclear waste to visit Hanford"--Pasco/Kennewick/Richland Tri City Herald
Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission on nuclear waste disposal is set to visit Hanford in July to tour the facilities and discuss what is happening with waste treated at Hanford’s vitrification plant. The commission was put in place after President Obama decided that nuclear waste would not be stored at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, as had previously been planned. The Tri City Industrial Development Council is concerned that the commission is visiting only to evaluate making Hanford the nation’s repository for nuclear waste instead of Yucca Mountain. Rep. Doc Hastings and Sen. Patty Murray have vowed to fight off those efforts if they materialize. - 05/27/2010

"2 more days till BP knows if well plug try works"--Tacoma News Tribune - Please Ask a Librarian for a copy of this article.
BP is continuing its efforts to stanch the bleeding of an oil well in the Gulf of Mexico through pouring heavy mud onto the leaking pipe. This method is known as “top kill” and has been proven to work on land, but has not been tried under water before. Apparently only large oil companies have the technology to attempt such an operation, something President Obama has said the federal government must remedy. Workers are not yet sure if the top kill method will work, and at least 18 million gallons of oil have already leaked into the Gulf, making this the worst oil spill in U.S. history. If the heavy mud doesn’t stop the flow of oil, the next best chance of containing the leak will be to place a steel box over part of the well. The oil began leaking into the Gulf waters after the oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded. - 05/28/2010

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