Offering asides, recommended links, blogworthy quotations, and more, In Brief is the Northwest Progressive Institute's microblog of world, national, and local politics.

Recommended Link

Oil train derails in Interbay in Seattle, no spills

A train carrying crude oil loaded in Bakken, North Dakota has derailed underneath the Magnolia Bridge in Seattle, Burlington Northern Santa Fe has acknowledged. BSNF is the railroad that controls much of the track in the Pacific Northwest.



It has been twenty-one years since federal regulators identified problems with the [safety-plagued DOT-111] cars. How many deaths will it take before they genuinely regulate?

— Sightline Institute’s Eric de Place, imploring the federal government to at to forbid the use of old, unsafe tank cars used for transporting oil.


Consider this, though: Using printed maps requires travelers to work together. You become a team. Driver and navigator. Your ability to get along and solve problems is tested in valuable, revealing ways. GPS removes that entire interpersonal dynamic. It encourages a passive form of journeying: sit back and drift, because the vaguely Australian-sounding computer lady will tell you to turn left in a quarter mile.

— Steven Kurutz: Real adventurers use maps (The New York Times)



We have proof that the terrorist attack was planned and carried out with the involvement of representatives of the Russian Federation… We know that Russia is trying to hide its terrorist activity and their direct involvement.

— Vitaly Nayda, the head of counterintelligence for the Ukrainian State Security Service, expressing his government’s conclusion that Russia was directly involved in the attack that brought down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17.

Recommended Link

Russian media generates wild conspiracy theories to explain MH17 downing

Businessweek’s Carol Matlack looks at some of the crazy conspiracy theories that supposedly mainstream Russian media outlets are trotting out in response to the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, which the United States government says was deliberately destroyed.


Follow the groups that are working to stop evictions and turn on the water in Detroit

As many of our readers may be aware, several months ago, the government of Detroit (which is under an emergency management regime) unconscionably decided to start shutting off tap water to low income residents who were behind on their water bills. Since we’ve begun our live coverage of Netroots Nation 2014 in Detroit, many NPI supporters have written to us to ask to report back on the water shutoffs that are affecting thousands of families throughout the city.

Netroots Nation and NPI have joined with the people of Detroit to protest this human rights violation and demand that the City of Detroit end the shutoffs. We participated in a protest yesterday to turn on the water and tax Wall Street, and we heard from a panel of people who are on the front lines this morning.

In a couple of days, after the convention concludes our board and staff members will be returning to the great Pacific Northwest, but the important work of fighting these shutoffs will go on, and we will continue to support the efforts of activists in the Motor City who are trying to end this manufactured crisis.

Here is a list of groups working to turn on the water in Detroit, as well as stop evictions, complete with links (to websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter feeds):

All of these organizations were represented at Netroots Nation, either in the exhibition hall, on the Saturday morning panel that addressed the crisis.

We urge all NPI supporters to follow these organizations online and consider donating to help them help the people of Detroit.


Your shutoff program has created a lot of anger in the city and a lot of hardship and bad publicity the city does not need.

— Judge Steven Rhodes, the judge handling Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy case, telling the city’s deputy utility director that the city’s unconscionable scheme to shut off water to city residents is doing a great deal of harm to the city.


I know people have seen fires before. This is a different beast. This is a fire storm.

— Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, speaking at a news conference and urging Washingtonians to obey fire evacuation orders. (The sheriff in Okanogan County says up to 100 homes lost in wildfire).

Recommended Link

Cheers for Warren at Netroots Nation offer peek at Democrats’ mindset

The New York Times recaps Elizabeth Warren’s morning keynote address at Netroots Nation 2014 and discusses the 2016 presidential race, which Warren admirers want her to enter. Warren has emphasized she has no plans to run, while Hillary Clinton has hinted she is strongly considering getting in but is not ready to make any kind of official announcement.


Mr. Putin and those who support him seem incapable of accepting that their model of government, with all its cronyism, corruption and bullying, is not the one many former Soviet subjects want.

— The New York Times, editorializing on the destruction of MH 17: Downing of Malaysia jet is a call for Russia to act to end the conflict in Ukraine.

Recommended Link

Leading AIDS researcher killed in Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash

A prominent scientist who has been investigating AIDS, the Auto Immune Defiency Syndrome, is among those killed in the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, the New York Times reports. He and several colleagues were enroute to Melbourne, Australia, for an important conference.


This is truly a grave situation… Nearly three hundred souls have been lost. The families need consolation and our prayers, and many questions need to be answered. And we’ll get those answers, and we’ll take action accordingly.

— Vice President Joe Biden, speaking to Netroots Nation 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. Biden’s comments were incorporated into a New York Times story about the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.


The repeal of the carbon price, whilst a sad day for Australia’s history books, provides an opportunity for the people of Australia to stand up and take back the power to determine the future of our country.

—’s Blair Palese: A dark day for Australia is our rallying call

Recommended Link

Conservatives in Australia push through repeal of carbon tax

Tony Abbott’s Conservative-led government in Australia has voted to repeal the carbon tax that the country has had in place for around a decade, giving Australia the very unfortunate and sad distinction of becoming the first developed country to go backwards on climate action.



With Chrome, you give up a lot of control over your own security.

— Blogger Chris Travers, who works on the LedgerSMB project, explaining that it’s problematic to trust Google (or any other large company) as the “middle man” in the flawed secure certificate system. (From is Is Firefox in a fix?)

Recommended Link

Not a joke: Rupert Murdoch tried to buy Time Warner last month

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox broadcasting and media conglomerate made an offer for Time Warner last month which was almost immediately rebuffed, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal (which Murdoch also controls and mostly owns). Despite his advanced age and recent troubles like the News of the World phone hacking scandal, Murdoch’s dangerous empire-building ambitions remain as grand as ever.

Recommended Link

BlackBerry says interest is high in its new Passport handheld

Smartphone maker BlackBerry says that it is seeing high interest in the media and from technology enthusiasts in its forthcoming Passport handheld, which has the same dimensions as an actual passport. The BlackBerry Passport has a keyboard that can also function as a trackpad, and a large screen for viewing documents, playing games, and surfing the web.


Fracking, I once thought, was something that happened to other people, not mine. Hydraulic fracturing may be confined to the shale regions of the country, but the wider effects of the natural gas boom, and the pipelines being built to support it, include the feverish development of wilderness and private property.

— Ann Neumann: A pipeline threatens our family land (The New York Times)


We’re playing really good baseball. That’s what I want. I want a playoff here in Seattle. That will be awesome. That will be great… I’ll probably throw ninety-seven again because of the adrenaline.

— Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, speaking to Seattle Times sports writer Larry Stone (‘King Felix’ as loyal as his subjects over past ten years).


Recommended Link

Fight in Gaza has no clear winners, but one big loser

The Washington Post’s London and Jerusalem bureau chiefs explain how the reignited conflict between Hamas and Israel is sidelining the Palestinian Authority and its leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Chat Transcript

Ars Technica commenter explains why firms like Lyft and Uber shouldn’t be above the law

PENGIN9: I don’t get why we need to have laws for who can drive a taxi. In my humble opinion, if you’re brave enough to have a stranger pick you up; it’s all on you. [A] registered taxi will be more expensive, but presumably safer.

BIG WANG: Because having unsafe taxi drivers and cars on the road is a danger to the greater public, not just the rider? Because having unlicensed and unregulated taxis prey on tourists and foreigners gives off a bad image for the country and the city? Because having too many taxis around tourist and rider hotspots increase overall congestion? Because allowing a company to reap the revenue for a taxi business without complying with regulations sets a bad precedence? People who are dead set against taxi regulations have been living in (highly regulated) first-world for too long.

— from the comment thread on the Ars Technica story Lyft reverses under legal pressure, cancels Friday night New York launch.