Trial by Fire: A Rising Tide of Civil Disobedience
Fri, Aug 01, 2014, 4:47 am // Terry WechslerWhen climate crusader Bill McKibben was here in May, he had a sobering message: we’ve run out of time to educate the masses about the reality of climate…
Fri, Aug 01, 2014, 11:59 am
Wow! Studies show exercise improves health.
Is there a simple 'take-away'?
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Thu, Jul 31, 2014, 8:47 pm
Plaintiffs John and Mary Ferlin of the Ferlin Family Trust, J & M's LLC, Brooks Manufacturing and Roosevelt Land Company have filed suit against the city and others over a park district that was designed so mostly low-to-moderate income residents of Happy Valley would pay to correct the city's corrupt zoning of ridiculous entitlements for their friends on a large tract of mostly wetlands and steep slopes.
The complaint is not without merit. The statutes were never intended for citizen boards to tax small portions of a city. For instance, what if every neighborhood formed a district with their own citizen board? How about when they start overlapping? How many districts might tax an individual property?
In this district's case, they even split a precinct to manage the district boundary for electoral approval. That is taking a 'fine hair' approach to political science. Perhaps too fine.
The solution is simple and suggested by the statute. The district should be city-wide and the City Council should be the board. Thus, assessments might then be apportioned either city-wide or on a neighborhood basis according to the benefit. Mainly, there would be broader, more generalized assessment policies based on municipal goals and objectives and accepted public standards.
The bogus north/south Greeenways divide promulgated by a former mayor to sustain the ill-fated Chuckanut Ridge development has probably dealt a death blow to the longstanding Greenways funding mechanism. This legal complaint creates an important opportunity for the city to take the park district bull by the horns, to avoid the balkanizing effect of an inevitable proliferation of additional districts, and to unify park and openspace goals under a comprehensive public policy framework.
Meanwhile, adding this property to existing Greenways acquisitions makes expanding Fairhaven Park and creating a Gateway to the Chuckanuts both possible. Those are of citywide and regional significance and it is unfair to burden a small, low-to-moderate income neighborhood with the costs. A citywide park district could replace the discredited Greenways program and help prevent inequitable situations like this district. Keeping the council in control might help the city remember that bad zoning can have costly results.
Thu, Jul 31, 2014, 1:49 pm
The Weather Underground website has posted the first photos. "These are the first-ever images taken of Er Wang Dong, one of the world's most recently discovered natural wonders — a cave so large it has its own weather system.
A team of 15 expert cavers and photographers had been exploring caves in the Chongquing province of China, reported the Daily Mail.
They found the entrance to the hidden Er Wang Dong cave system and were stunned to see a space so large it contains a cloud.
In Cloud Ladder Hall, which measures about 12½ acres, or about 12 football fields, fog conceals the roof 820 feet above."
Check out 15 photos of the cave at the link posted above.
Wed, Jul 30, 2014, 10:32 am
An article on VICE.com reports: "The Satanic Temple announced on Monday that “informed consent” abortion laws — which require doctors to give state-mandated information that can be inaccurate or misleading to women seeking abortions in an effort to provide a “balanced” perspective — violate the temple’s religious philosophy.
"…The Center for Reproductive Rights lists thirty-two states with biased counseling laws mandating that women seeking abortion must receive information designed basically to change her mind. In some states, the law even mandates that a woman be told there is a link between abortion and breast cancer, even though the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society have stated that there is no link.
"Texas has one of the strictest state anti-abortion counseling policies in the nation: all abortion providers are required to perform an ultrasound on a woman seeking abortion, show her the ultrasound images and provide a full “medical description” of the images, make her listen to the fetal or embryonic heartbeat if there is one, tell her there’s a link to breast cancer, and then make her wait 24 hours until she can come back for the abortion procedure.
"…Beyond the legal standing of religious beliefs, though, what the Satanic Temple’s challenge highlights most is … (that) the same conviction cited in the SCOTUS Hobby Lobby decision should apply regardless of where that belief comes from. “If you’re going to say that because you don’t believe in a personal God or a personal Satan, that you’re deeply held belief is meaningless… You’re privileging a superstition,” (According to their spokesperson, Lucien Greaves.)"
"…The Satanic Temple is a sort of opposition group that mobilizes “politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty” across several campaigns that include the right to same-sex marriage, women’s rights, and even a Protect the Children Project that seeks to use a similar religious exemption to ban corporal punishment in schools. ...This January, the temple announced their plan to install a Satanic monument on the Oklahoma statehouse lawn, rattling local politicians."
Tue, Jul 29, 2014, 3:24 pm
Catherine Rampell, in a recent Washington Post article, follows a Supreme Court ruling to the next logical step. Here are some excerpts.
“If companies are claiming the rights and privileges of people, maybe people should start claiming the rights and privileges of corporations.
“…Businesses, for example, can transfer their “intangible” property — things like patents or trademarks — to holding companies in tax havens. … (If) individuals were treated like corporations, I could set up an affiliate called “Catherine Rampell Bermuda,” have it pay my college tuition and then declare that the affiliate owns the resulting degree. I could then tell the IRS that everything I earn above the average high school grad’s wage should be recorded as income in Bermuda, since it’s all derived from a Bermuda-based asset.
“…Home-buying would also become more attractive. Right now there are limits to how much mortgage interest humans can deduct. But if you analogize your primary residence to a “corporate headquarters” and your vacation homes to “branch offices,” you can deduct the full interest on every McMansion you ever buy.
“…If people were treated like corporations, perhaps we’d be able to “merge” with whomever we want without worrying about restrictive marriage laws… We could also choose to abide by the family law in whichever state we like best, regardless of where we live. … That’s one reason Delaware is home to more businesses than people.
“But the best perk …? Even if you killed someone, stole a house, funded a genocidal regime or terrorize the global economy, you wouldn’t go to jail. At worst, you’d pay a fine. … To err is human; to err and bounce back unscathed, you really need to be a company.”
Tue, Jul 29, 2014, 2:24 pm
“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” - John Steinbeck
Mon, Jul 28, 2014, 5:30 am
According to a recent article in the New York Times: "Economic inequality in the United States has been receiving a lot of attention. But it’s not merely an issue of the rich getting richer. The typical American household has been getting poorer, too.
"The inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992 in 2003. Ten years later, it was only $56,335, or a 36 percent decline, according to a study financed by the Russell Sage Foundation. Those are the figures for a household at the median point in the wealth distribution — the level at which there are an equal number of households whose worth is higher and lower. But during the same period, the net worth of wealthy households increased substantially.
"The Russell Sage study also examined net worth at the 95th percentile. (For households at that level, 94 percent of the population had less wealth and 4 percent had more.) It found that for this well-do-do slice of the population, household net worth increased 14 percent over the same 10 years."
Sun, Jul 27, 2014, 5:24 pm
According to an article posted on the Washington Post website: "House and Senate negotiators have reached a tentative agreement to deal with the long-term needs of the struggling Department of Veterans Affairs and plan to unveil their proposal Monday.
"...According to a draft summary of the measure provided by House aides, Congress would give eligible military veterans a “Veterans Choice Card” and allow them to seek health care outside the VA medical system from Medicare-eligible providers, other federally qualified health centers or facilities operated by the Defense Department or federal Indian Health Service centers. ...A veteran could leave the VA system if they’re unable to receive an appointment within 14 days — the current VA wait-time goal, or if they live more than 40 miles from a VA facility.
"...The measure also would authorize $5 billion in emergency spending to pay for hiring new employees; require VA to enter into 27 leases for new major medical facilities; expand a scholarship program for the surviving spouses of service members who died during conflicts since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; and allow VA to provide counseling care and other services to veterans who suffered sexual trauma while in the ranks. Additionally, VA would be required to conduct regular audits on the accuracy of care and staffing levels at each major medical facility."
Sun, Jul 27, 2014, 5:30 am
According to an article published in the Imperial College London News, "Mathematical modelling work by Drs Michael Pickles and Marie-Claude Boily from Imperial College London estimates that decriminalising sex work could prevent up to 33 to 46 per cent of HIV infections among female sex workers (FSWs) and clients worldwide over the next decade.
The international study looked at how the legal, social, and political environments in which people who sell sex live and work – which the researchers call “structural determinants” – influences the HIV epidemic. ...(They) collected all the available data on HIV prevalence, condom use and structural determinants among sex workers, and used a mathematical model to simulate the effect of different interventions in three contrasting settings: Vancouver, Canada; Bellary, India; and Mombasa, Kenya.
The research shows that eliminating sexual violence could reduce HIV infection rates among FSWs and their clients by up to a fifth over 10 years in the settings investigated, through its immediate and sustained effect on non-condom use. In Kenya, improving access to antiretroviral therapy for FSWs and clients could prevent around 34 per cent of HIV infections among them in the next decade.
However, the study shows that decriminalisation of sex work could have the greatest effect on the course of HIV epidemics across all settings studied. Within a criminalised environment, sexual violence is prevalent and has a negative effect on condom use. It forces sex workers to work in unsafe environments that promote high-risk behaviour. Sex workers also experience police harassment, which also increases HIV risk by forcing them to rush transactions and forgo condoms, and preventing them from reporting violence to authorities.
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Fri, Aug 01, 2014, 8:00 am // Dick ConoboyCouncilmember Murphy's proposal is based on a complaint-based rental ordinance from Tacoma, demonstrated to do little for the health and safety of tenants.
2 comments; last on Aug 01, 2014
Fri, Aug 01, 2014, 4:47 am // Terry WechslerCarefully planned actions are rolling across the state to make the point that it's not OK to expose us to risks associated with CBR.
3 comments; last on Aug 01, 2014
Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 11:40 am // Riley SweeneyNorthwest Citizen has conducted a phone poll of likely voters, with some surprising results!
9 comments; last on Jul 29, 2014
Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 7:52 am // Dick ConoboyIn contravention of the Bellingham Municipal Code, the City Council will consider on 4 August a last minute docketing request that ignores the Planning Commission and Samish Neighborhood.
1 comments; last on Jul 30, 2014
Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 10:47 pm // Guest writerGuest writer Mike Rostron explains how Bellingham city planners played loose and illegal with planning processes.
Tue, Jul 22, 2014, 7:22 pm // John ServaisSunnlyland residents win one - after a seven year effort. Planning Department failed them and all of us.
2 comments; last on Jul 23, 2014
Mon, Jul 21, 2014, 5:30 am // Guest writerLandlords are so caught up opposing a licensing and inspection ordinance, they cannot see the upside for them in ridding the city of bad rentals.
19 comments; last on Aug 01, 2014
Fri, Jul 18, 2014, 1:24 pm // Guest writerJudith Green explains how the Bellingham Planning Department is trying to cram their plan onto a neighborhood.
5 comments; last on Jul 21, 2014
Sun, Jul 13, 2014, 2:26 pm // Terry WechslerYears after BP completed its north dock, the Army Corps of Engineers released a draft EIS and it's really really stupid.
Tue, Jul 08, 2014, 8:20 am // Dick ConoboyThe city council "persuades" the city administration to withdraw a request for an intrusive police threat warning system
2 comments; last on Jul 08, 2014
Mon, Jul 07, 2014, 6:54 am // Terry WechslerIt is time we stop allowing corporations to externalize the costs associated with their risky business practices, and demand more from our regulators who hold the keys to…
3 comments; last on Jul 13, 2014
Mon, Jul 07, 2014, 5:04 am // Guest writerGuest writer Sandy Robson breaks the story of officials from Washington treated to a coal-promoting junket to Wyoming.
2 comments; last on Jul 13, 2014
Fri, Jul 04, 2014, 5:00 am // Guest writerFerndale's most famous landmark is frequently commented on and is often in the news. Here is their side of the story.
4 comments; last on Jul 07, 2014
Wed, Jul 02, 2014, 5:14 pm // Terry WechslerOn the anniversary of the Lac-Megantic disaster, communities throughout North America rally in solidarity to remember and protest wholly inadequate government response to crude-by-rail's risks.
4 comments; last on Jul 12, 2014
Fri, Jun 27, 2014, 9:01 pm // Guest writerIn the Weekly, Tim Johnson left out three words in quoting Craig Cole - and his story misleads readers. Guest article by Sandy Robson.
11 comments; last on Jul 01, 2014
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 10:24 am // Dick ConoboyThe Bellingham Police Department wants to purchase "threat assessment" software with federal monies. Citizen comments were vehement and negative. City Council confused.
5 comments; last on Jul 03, 2014
Tue, Jun 17, 2014, 10:18 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein the failings of a bad policy framework are revealed
1 comments; last on Jun 19, 2014
Tue, Jun 17, 2014, 7:53 am // Dick ConoboyThe possession and use of consumer fireworks are no longer permitted within the city limits.
1 comments; last on Jun 19, 2014
Wed, Jun 11, 2014, 11:39 am // John ServaisWyoming Senators and coal honchos were in Whatcom County June 10 - to hold a news conference with select reporters.
7 comments; last on Jun 20, 2014
Tue, Jun 10, 2014, 11:20 am // John ServaisBellingham Hearing Examiner, Dawn Sturwold, retires in three weeks. Successor selection is hidden from all of us.
3 comments; last on Jun 11, 2014
Fri, Jun 06, 2014, 2:07 pm // Terry WechslerPart 2: Following Ken Oplinger to California, and Home Again
4 comments; last on Jun 19, 2014
Sun, Jun 01, 2014, 12:39 am // Guest writerA Venn diagram where coal, the Endangered Species Act, Republicans, and Wyoming’s Board of Education collide.
2 comments; last on Jun 02, 2014
Wed, May 28, 2014, 3:15 pm // Guest writerA perspective by guest writer Ellen Murphy reflects on the Whatcom Watch and the threatened law suit by Craig Cole.
22 comments; last on Jun 01, 2014
Tue, May 27, 2014, 1:23 am // Wendy HarrisWhy was so little consideration given to the concept of developing the waterfront for eco-tourism?
5 comments; last on Jun 11, 2014
Mon, May 26, 2014, 7:51 pm // Wendy HarrisCity park improvements have implications on the local and global scale.
2 comments; last on May 29, 2014
Thu, May 22, 2014, 12:10 am // Guest writerWyoming is ready to try and legally force us to limit our environmental scoping for the Cherry Point coal terminal
4 comments; last on Jun 17, 2014
Sun, May 18, 2014, 11:57 pm // Wendy HarrisReckless rezones and far-fetched explanations result in more slaughterhouses and meat packing plants
3 comments; last on May 20, 2014
Sat, May 17, 2014, 2:34 pm // Riley SweeneyRiley takes a closer look at the Charter Review Commission candidates
2 comments; last on May 21, 2014
Tue, May 13, 2014, 5:04 pm // Wendy HarrisBellingham's annual water quality report indicates that city hall's propoganda machine is going strong
1 comments; last on May 14, 2014
Sun, May 11, 2014, 2:20 pm // Terry WechslerPart 1: Introduction to the Bellingham Basin’s Potential for Fracking, Earthquakes, and Earthquakes Due to Fracking
3 comments; last on May 14, 2014
Fri, May 09, 2014, 10:02 am // John ServaisThe Political Junkie for Whatcom County - that would be Riley Sweeney - has Overstreet not running for reelection in the 42nd.
1 comments; last on May 13, 2014
Fri, May 09, 2014, 6:10 am // Terry WechslerWhy Washington must step in and assume lead agency status in Skagit County for the Shell crude by rail proposal.
6 comments; last on Jun 21, 2014
Tue, May 06, 2014, 5:52 pm // Riley SweeneyThe value of a Precinct Committee Officer . . .
1 comments; last on May 07, 2014
Mon, May 05, 2014, 3:34 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein the gyrations of the bid for widespread county slaughter are exposed.
2 comments; last on May 07, 2014
Thu, May 01, 2014, 10:21 pm // Guest writerMove to Amend is a national movement to amend the U.S. Constitution and define persons as people and speech as not money.
7 comments; last on Jun 02, 2014
Wed, Apr 30, 2014, 8:20 am // John ServaisRiley posted this morning that Seth Fleetwood has decided to challenge Doug Ericksen for state senate in the 42nd District.
1 comments; last on Apr 30, 2014
Mon, Apr 28, 2014, 6:28 am // Dick ConoboyEvery Bellingham Planning Commission member has ties to development or development-related businesses.
4 comments; last on Apr 30, 2014
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 1:59 pm // Terry WechslerA closer look at Whatcom County's industrial "stewards of the environment."
3 comments; last on Jun 25, 2014
Mon, Apr 21, 2014, 11:43 am // Wendy HarrisThe public needs to support city council and request that a waterfront habitat assessment include terrestrial species and habitat connectivity.
Sat, Apr 19, 2014, 2:57 pm // Terry Wechsleror How Not to Plan for Future Generations' Water Needs
12 comments; last on Jun 30, 2014
Thu, Apr 17, 2014, 10:40 am // Riley SweeneyA simple explanation of the Charter Review and analysis of District only voting
Wed, Apr 09, 2014, 9:07 am // Riley SweeneyCity pushes for Alabama Street improvements, residents speak out
3 comments; last on Apr 14, 2014
Sun, Apr 06, 2014, 4:29 pm // Guest writerBy Christopher Grannis: Wherein despite every effort and expense, citizens cannot make the City follow the law or work for neighborhoods
2 comments; last on Apr 07, 2014
Sun, Apr 06, 2014, 12:52 pm // Terry WechslerWhy commenting on the EIS for Comp Plan revisions for Cherry Point means demanding an EIS in the first place.
5 comments; last on Jun 25, 2014
Wed, Apr 02, 2014, 6:00 am // Dick ConoboyAmbling University Development Group pulls out. University Ridge will not be built.
12 comments; last on Apr 06, 2014
Tue, Apr 01, 2014, 1:27 pm // Wendy HarrisPlease help us protect county wildlife by ensuring that the scope of the EIS review is adequate. A sample scoping letter is included.
Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 2:23 am // Wendy HarrisThe public has a week to comment on the scope of issues reviewed under the EIS.
Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 1:32 am // Wendy HarrisOn March 26, 2014 the city and county provided their update and assessment on the status of Lake Whatcom. This is mine.
2 comments; last on Apr 01, 2014
Wed, Mar 19, 2014, 10:32 am // Riley SweeneyRiley digs into the county's plan to buy the county morgue
3 comments; last on Mar 24, 2014
Mon, Mar 17, 2014, 12:52 am // Wendy HarrisThe public is not provided with a proposed plan or adequate information prior to the annual "state of the lake" meeting
4 comments; last on Mar 18, 2014
Sat, Mar 15, 2014, 1:11 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein there's a crackdown on growing plants, and plans to let slaughter run free
2 comments; last on Mar 16, 2014
Fri, Mar 14, 2014, 10:47 am // John ServaisFukushima radiation has been found 20 miles from Whatcom County farmland along the Fraser River in British Columbia.
1 comments; last on Mar 17, 2014
Wed, Mar 12, 2014, 8:28 am // Dick ConoboyThe infamous American Legislative Exchange Council plans to send its spawn to cities and counties throughout the U.S.
1 comments; last on Mar 24, 2014
Tue, Mar 11, 2014, 11:24 am // Riley SweeneyRiley catches State Rep. Vincent Buys for soliciting funds during session
Mon, Mar 10, 2014, 10:51 am // Riley SweeneyRiley digs into an unusual hiring decision at the County Planning Dept
1 comments; last on Mar 10, 2014
Sun, Mar 02, 2014, 3:22 pm // John ServaisThe editor of the Whatcom Watch, Richard Jehn, has resigned effective today. Chalk up a victory for Craig Cole and Pacific International Terminals.
8 comments; last on Mar 05, 2014
Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 9:29 pm // John ServaisThe full text of Craig Cole's threatening letter of libel against the Whatcom Watch. And the emptiness of the threat.
16 comments; last on Mar 20, 2014
Mon, Feb 24, 2014, 4:33 pm // Wendy HarrisWe were led to believe the city would review waterfront wildlife and habitat connectivity. It turns out that the city intends to focus only on nearshore fish.
Sat, Feb 22, 2014, 1:16 am // Wendy HarrisAccepting the Paul deArmond award of citizen journalism on Feb 7, Wendh Harris gave this speech. We think it deserves its own post.
Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 5:48 pm // John ServaisCraig Cole, the local contact for the proposed Cherry Point coal port has threatened the Whatcom Watch with a libel lawsuit.
6 comments; last on Mar 20, 2014
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