Stay inside: I know Charles led with this news last night, but it bears repeating. Just stay inside until Friday. The smoke from the Bolt Creek Fire will hopefully let up by then. While you're sheltering from the toxic air outside, take a few minutes to read this feature from the Seattle Times on how the firefighters and small towns closer to the fire have dealt with the strain from weeks of smoke.
Again, the pandemic is not over: Kaiser Health News is here to remind you of the best ways to avoid catching the plague or transmitting it to other, more vulnerable people. It looks like the latest variants evolving across the globe are getting better at evading the first round of vaccines, so there's never been a better time to get one specifically geared at the Omicron lineage of the virus.
No permanent friends, no permanent enemies: I do a fair amount of critiquing Seattle Times opinion columnist Danny Westneat in this space, but that doesn't mean I can't recognize a good point when it's made. Westneat's latest column urges the State Legislature to find a enough funding to end tolling through the Highway 99 tunnel in downtown so that fewer drivers resort to using the 8-lane eyesore that transportation officials plopped down on what was supposed to be Seattle's waterfront. He points out that Olympia found enough money to reduce tolls on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, though my sneaking suspicion is that move may have had more to do with helping Senator Emily Randall keep her seat than anything else.
ICYMI: There's apparently a rash of "sea burglars" making off with houseboat booty in Lake Union, or so says the Mayor's staff when asked why we can't shift the search-and-rescue duties of the Seattle Police Department's harbor patrol unit to the Seattle Fire Department.
Cops say Seattle can't shift aquatic emergency response calls from SPD to the fire department because of the dread pirates of South Lake Union or whateverhttps://t.co/VXdok2BTV5— The Stranger 🗞 (@TheStranger) October 19, 2022
*Sigh*: In other news about city leaders having unproductive conversations about the police department, Council Member Dan Strauss of Ballard attempted to keep the press out of a public meeting about public safety in Greenwood on Monday night. Staff for the venue where the meeting was held said the initial media blackout came at the request of "a councilmember" who told them the blackout was necessary so “we can be candid with each other.” Of course, the attempt failed, as (for now, at least) we live in an open society where the public has the right to know what our leaders are saying about how they'll govern us.
Or maybe it did work? On the other hand, perhaps Strauss's strategy was effective, since the KUOW story I linked in the previous blurb didn't include the answer (if one was even offered) from the SPD representative on the panel to this very important question:
From the crowd to Seattle Police:— Isolde Raftery (@isolderaftery) October 18, 2022
"Why is the answer always 'we can't do anything talk to your council members.'"
Moving on to other bullshitters in the news: If you're wondering how 8% inflation has caused the price of so many things to jump way more than 8%, then you've sniffed out corporate America's latest method of extracting wealth from those who can least afford it. Read the the whole thread below from labor economics reporter Cory Doctorow for examples of executives from major US firms saying the quiet part out loud to their investors:
Sometimes it's hard to know why prices are going up. Between the oil shock, a tight employment market and the climate polycrisis, is it even possible to tell if companies are using the widespread *belief* in inflation to hike prices? Uh, yeah, we *absolutely* can. 1/ pic.twitter.com/sdPi98caUV— Cory Doctorow (@doctorow) October 17, 2022
Today, it's all bullshit, all the way down: How does one even govern in a society where 45% of one political party's voters have "little to no confidence" that the votes in the upcoming midterm elections will be counted accurately? That political party, of course, is the GOP. Wonder where they got that idea?
Perhaps they got it from this bullshit artist: I'm sure the extremists who attempted an armed insurrection after their side lost the last federal election won't get any bright ideas from this Marco Rubio clip.
Asked about voting rights, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) says he worries about "public confidence" in election procedures:— The Recount (@therecount) October 19, 2022
"Imagine someone decides, 'Oh, there’s a drop box, I’m just gonna put some explosive in it and blow it up and burn all of those ballots.'" pic.twitter.com/cgl4U9yza1
Sarcasm aside, it's getting bleak out there: New York Attorney General Letitia James released a report yesterday tying the mass shooting in Buffalo that killed 10 people to radicalization by far-right groups on forums like 4chan. As if wildly speculating about people bombing ballot drop boxes wasn't bad enough in its own right, this is the kind of behavior elected Republicans like Rubio encourage when they spout off baseless conspiracy theories.
Turns out there are consequences for living in a failed state: Scientific American published the findings of a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics that shows we've lost 26 years' worth of gains in life expectancy since 2020. Surely this has nothing to do with Republican politicians undermining COVID precautions and spreading misinformation that discouraged people from getting vaccinated...
Take a chill pill, everybody: The Washington Post reports that Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is raising the alarm about China pursuing a "much faster timeline" in its plans to "re-unify" with Taiwan. Can't we take a pause on playing chicken with another nuclear power until we figure out how to end the war in Ukraine?
Speaking of Putin: After recent gains by the Ukrainian military, the Russian dictator declared martial law today in the four illegally annexed regions of eastern Ukraine. He also announced additional "economic mobilization" in the Russian states that border the conflict, which allows local authorities to restrict civilian movement. Doesn't sound like the moves of someone winning a war to me!
I love this time of year: While the weather hasn't cooperated in giving us a real fall yet, the inevitable approach of yet another election has me in the seasonal spirit. Not the joy most of you feel from apple picking, hiking in mountains that aren't on fire, or sipping a pumpkin spice latte. What fall means to me was captured decades ago by the incomparable Hunter S. Thompson:
Hunter S Thompson on being in politics in October pic.twitter.com/6D0svnBriB— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) October 17, 2022