Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

In Brief - February 23rd, 2008

Although Hillary Clinton is staying in the race through March 4th (when Rhode Island, Vermont, Texas, and Ohio hold primaries - and by the way, you could join one of those phone-bank parties), it seems likely that Barack Obama is going to emerge from this long nominating season as the Democratic standard bearer. Given that Obama's theme is "change we can believe in", I wonder why no one in the Obama campaign seems to have thought of this slogan:

I'm just sayin'...

If anyone in the Obama campaign is reading this, please feel free to steal the idea and let someone with better graphic design skills than mine do something pretty with it. And now, on to the news!

In the Pacific Northwest

  • A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rattled parts of Idaho and Nevada not long after midnight on Thursday. No serious injuries have been reported, but some historic buildings in the town of Wells, Nevada (eleven miles from the quake's epicenter) have suffered heavy damage.
  • Starbucks, the caffeine darling of the Pacific Northwest, is cutting upwards of six hundred Seattle-area jobs. But consumers don't need to worry about a depletion of talent behind the counter -the company is eliminating corporate jobs, not laying off baristas.
  • A bright meteor seen streaking across Washington skies Tuesday failed to leave giant smoking crater as witnesses claimed it would. Meanwhile, Wednesday night's suddenly clear night skies gave way to a lovely total lunar eclipse. You can see, quite clearly in some of these pictures, the circular profile of the Earth's shadow on the moon; a key piece of evidence that led ancient Greek astronomers to deduce the Earth's spherical shape.
  • Washington Democratic Chair Dwight Pelz has issued a call to the party grassroots to provide input to the state's superdelegates.
Across the Nation
  • Heavy snow has hit the Northeast, dumping up to a foot of snow in places and forcing the cancellation of over a thousand flights.
  • The Los Angeles Times has published a story on the disturbing consequences of the Cold War among Navajo Indians. Some of the world's richest uranium deposits are located on Navajo land, and the mining companies who operated there up until late 1960s left behind a horribly contaminated environment, which is causing higher rates of cancer.
  • Former Arizona Governor Evan Mecham has died at the age of eighty six. The Mecham saga is a clear example of what is broken with our electoral process. I lived in Phoenix when Mecham was elected with one of the smallest victories anywhere (he won scarcely more than one third of the vote). Mecham survived a recall attempt but was soon out of office - he was impeached and convicted in the wake of a scandal that involved his auto dealership business. Had Arizona used instant runoff voting , either the Democrat or the independent would have been elected, saving Arizona a whole lot of trouble and national embarassment. It is interesting to speculate, in light of Mitt Romney's recent fame and Mecham's membership in the Mormon Church, whether church elders had their eye on a presidential campaign as far back as twenty years ago.
  • The National Science Foundation wants your input on the fourteen most important engineering challenges of the 21st century. What should be the top priority? Clean fusion power, cheap solar, large-scale carbon sequestration, or something else?
  • And, ScienceDebate 2008 invites the candidates to a debate on science and technology policy. All that's left now is for the candidates to show up. Given that science and technology is about the only thing that's going to save our collective bacon in the coming century, we hope they accept.
  • Get ready for the new five-dollar bill (Flash). All this new currency must drive vending machine manufacturers absolutely crazy...

Around the World

  • Abu Dhabi, which has the world's highest per-capita carbon footprint, is sinking $22 billion into the Masdar City project. When complete, Masdar City will be the world's first self-sufficient, zero-carbon-emitting city. BBC Radio's The World brings us this story, with additional background information from Wikipedia and official Masdar City website.
  • Serbs, unhappy with the U.S. Government's decision to recognize Kosovo as a newly independent nation, attacked and set fire to the U.S. embassy in Belgrade this week. According to the State Department, an unidentified body was discovered in an unused portion of a burned embassy building, but all embassy personnel are accounted for.
  • A twin-turboprop plane carrying forty six passengers is missing somewhere over northern Venezuela. The plane's destination was Caracas.
  • Tensions between the Turkish government and Iraqi Kurds remain high. Turkey has just embarked on a fifteen day military incursion into Iraq.

The Lighter Side

  • Take a look at this cool optical illusion: Contrast Asynchrony (Flash).
  • Check out these really amazing origami pieces. Well, I guess you would call them origami, although it's not at all the traditional kind.
  • Do you know the names of the ten longest bridges in the world?
  • Everything is cultural. Just when you'd gotten used to Farenheit vs. Celsius, month-day-year vs. day-month-year, and driving on the left vs. the right, now we learn that even the way people count their cash is cultural.

This Day in History

  • 1455: The Gutenberg Bible was published.
  • 1903: The United States signed a lease with Cuba granting America the rights to land on Guantanmo Bay in perpetuity.
  • 1982: The EPA announced it would buy the town of Times Beach, Missouri, which was hopelessly contaminated with dioxin. The Times Beach dioxin scare was one of two horrible environmental disasters (the other was Love Canal) that led to the establishment of the Superfund cleanup program.
If you have something to add, please leave a comment.


Blogger M. Simon said...

Fusion may be coming sooner than anyone thinks:

WB-7 First Plasma

Funny that the people doing the most promotion of this are right wingers.

February 23, 2008 2:39 PM  
Blogger Tracy Hall Jr said...

"It is interesting to speculate, in light of Mitt Romney's recent fame and Mecham's membership in the Mormon Church, whether church elders had their eye on a presidential campaign as far back as twenty years ago."

I suppose that it is also "interesting to speculate" about the merits of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion?"

"Mormon conspiracy" theories have no more merit than "Jewish conspiracy" theories, and anti-Mormonism is as unfounded and as bigoted as anti-Semitism.

Tracy Hall Jr

February 23, 2008 9:45 PM  
Blogger Jason Black said...

Oh, I don't mean the slightest bit of conspiracy theorism. Just that Romney's political trajectory mirrors, in some ways, what Mecham's might have been except for that scandal. It just makes me wonder, that's all.

Personally, I don't have anything against Mormonism. The lion's share of my relatives are Mormons, and I have terribly fond memories of visiting them for Thanksgiving every year when I was a kid. Having grown up in a broken family, living with a single mom who had basically no support network and had to move a lot, visiting my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins in Spanish Fork, Utah was for me an annual trip to a place where there was stability, happiness, and an amazingly strong sense of family and community.

I don't envy my cousins their religion, but I certainly do envy them the social fabric that their religious background and community have created. Nobody does community like the Mormons do, and honestly, secular America could learn a lot from them.

February 29, 2008 9:58 PM  
Blogger Tracy Hall Jr said...


I apologize for implying that you are anti-Mormon. Google [Mormon conspiracy] and you'll see where I was coming from, but I see that I misjudged you.

Your comment on the social fabric of Mormonism brings to mind a favorite quote from Joseph Smith: "I see no faults in the Church, and therefore let me be resurrected with the Saints, whether I ascend to heaven or descend to hell, or go to any other place. And if we go to hell, we will turn the devils out of doors and make a heaven of it."

About 75 years later Joseph's nephew Joseph F. Smith recorded a vision that formalized this concept in LDS scripture. Latter-day Saints are, in fact, going to hell! Doctrine & Covenants 138:56

I believe that our sense of community arises directly from our theology. We believe that we are all spirit children of one Heavenly Father, that we knew each other for eons before we were born, that our family relationships can be sealed for eternity in our temples, that all men will be resurrected, receiving their physical bodies again, and that nearly all will end up in a state of happiness in one of the "many mansions" in the Kingdom of God. John 14:2

Again, Joseph put it best: ". . . that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy." D & C 130:2

Tracy Hall Jr

March 1, 2008 11:42 AM  

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