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Join the informed, opinionated journalists of The Times' editorial staff in lively discussions at our blog Ed Cetera.

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May 31, 2008 6:25 PM

Running out the Clock in Spokane

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

I was watching the Washington State Republican Party convention on TVW to see if the supporters of Ron Paul would get any of their resolutions passed. The fight came Saturday afternoon on the resolutions that the party committees recommended not be passed. It looked for a while as if all the time was going to be expended on amending the "do-pass" resolutions, but there was a motion from the floor to pass them in a bloc. This succeeded, and all the "do-pass" resolutions were approved. That was the sign that the Paul people had the votes--so many of the McCain and Romney people having gone home. The first of the "do-not-pass" resolutions was presented by a young delegate in a Ron Paul T-shirt: that the United States should not go to war without a formal declaration by Congress (which has not happened since 1941). At about 4:45 p.m, this resolution passed with a cheer, signaling that the Paul people finally had a majority.

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May 31, 2008 4:23 PM

Scary pastors' parade

Posted by Joni Balter

You've got a pastor who says the darndest things, I've got a pastor who says the darndest things. Enough of every last one of them. Finally, today, Sen. Barack Obama did what he should have done long ago: He left Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

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May 30, 2008 4:13 PM

Sex and Seattle

Posted by Lynne Varner

In a few hours, I plan to be clad in designer jeans, impossibly high heels - with the taste of a cosmopolitan fresh on my lips, kicking back with old friends as we vamp, laugh and act as narcissistic
as only good friends dare to be.

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May 30, 2008 1:01 AM

Lady sings the blues - and then some

Posted by Lance Dickie


I write the occasional column about the blues. I claim no expertise, and only bring a fan's enthusiasm to the topic. Blues bands are wonderfully accessible around Puget Sound, and the music scene is populated by extraordinary talents. To follow them, one can find no better guide than The Times own music critic and reviewer Paul de Barros.

My Friday, May 30, column is about Alice Stuart, who I describe as icon of Puget Sound blues. She is gifted singer and song writer, and someone will eventually write a book about her or do a documentary. Please click below for a Q&A podcast on my column:

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May 29, 2008 3:27 PM

Today 850 children were taken from their homes

Posted by Lynne Varner


National Court Appointed Special Advocates Association

Life-size cardboard cutouts of children were placed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. at a rate of 850 a day for one week to illustrate how many kids nationwide enter foster care each day.

They were placed in foster care and other temporary housing. Tomorrow the same thing will happen. This is how the nation has ended up with 500,000 children in foster care.

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May 28, 2008 1:12 PM

Hire a dozen of 'em

Posted by Joni Balter

Semaj Booker, age 10, is a whiz when it comes to security, or the lack of it, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. If Sea-Tac is serious about security, it would secretly hire a squad of 10-year-olds and let those wise children reveal the ugly truth about aiport insecurity.

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May 28, 2008 1:00 AM

Landmarking as Formaldehyde

Posted by Bruce Ramsey


Courtesy Mayflower Park Hotel

This facade of the Mayflower Park Hotel is nominated for landmark status.

Column topics are sometimes stumbled upon. I went to a meeting of the Seattle Landmarks Board to hear argument about the former Denny’s restaurant at 15th Avenue N.W. and N.W. 46th Street in Ballard, which had been in the news. It was a long meeting, and before the board got to Denny’s it considered a building that had not been in the news: the Mayflower Park Hotel. It had been nominated for landmark status without the support of its owner, who wasn’t too happy about it.

Click below for a Q&A podcast about this column:

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May 27, 2008 12:02 PM

Public schools minus racism and poverty equals?

Posted by Lynne Varner

Two fewer reasons why minority and low-income students lag behind their white and Asian counterparts. A blog of Seattle School District parents takes up the causes of low student achievement and what, realistically, schools can do about it.

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May 27, 2008 1:01 AM

Turning over every rock for climate change solutions

Posted by Kate Riley

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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory


Thumper truck does seismic testing in Walla Walla County to determine land's viability for a carbon sequestration test. Stateline Wind Energy Center turbines spin in the background.

There is no one solution to climate change. If Washington state, the nation and the world is going to reduce carbon emissions, it will take turning over every stone, developing all promising technologies. Not just conservation or wind farms.

For my column today, I went over to Walla Walla County to check out scientific research into carbon sequestration that has caused quite a controversy in the area. Pete McGrail, who works at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, has been working for years on whether carbon dioxide, a climate change culprit, can be captured and stored underground safely and permanently. The picture above shows a thumper truck testing ground at Wallula Gap in western Walla County. The results of that test have just come in and did not find any faults, suggesting it is safe for McGrail to move his research out of the lab and try the technique on a larger scale.

I like this picture mostly because of what's in the background. Look closely and you can see strings of wind turbines that are part of the Stateline Wind Energy Center.

Click below for a Q&A podcast discussion about my column.

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May 25, 2008 3:54 PM

Bob Barr, Who Could Win It for Obama

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

The Libertarian Party (news story here) has chosen former Republican Congressman Bob Barr of Georgia as its presidential nominee. In normal years, the Libertarian nominee earns little attention and few votes; only once before in its 35-year history did the party nominate someone who had held national office. That was Ron Paul, in 1988. Not coincidentally, Paul, who went back to being a Republican, is a candidate for the Republican nomination this year. The Barr candidacy is a clear attempt to woo Paul's supporters when Paul loses to John McCain at the Republican convention.

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May 25, 2008 1:00 AM

Daydreaming through the nuclear-power night

Posted by Jim Vesely

The rethinking of nuclear energy is coming, evidenced in small and large ways as states and nations consider the total cost of energy. Nuclear power has a terrible Achilles Heel -- we don't have good ways of dealing with the waste.

But blindly wishing away nuclear power has its own costs, as I discuss in my column today. A recent decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ended the wish of Washington voters to forbid more nuclear waste coming to the state. But that initiative was dead from the get-go and Washington's policy-makers and elected officials failed in their duty when they sat silent.

Click below for a Q&A podcast discussion on this issue.

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May 23, 2008 4:28 PM

Inflation tales

Posted by Lance Dickie

So which is the better bet: President George Bush will order a military attack on Iran before he leaves office, or that inflation will hit double digits?
Despite all the saber-rattling rumors about Iran, I cannot fathom even this heedless president going so far. The cost of goods and services, however, only seem to be picking up speed as the economy slows down.

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May 23, 2008 3:44 PM

Staying home this weekend?

Posted by Kate Riley

Seems like everyone I've talked to today is celebrating this Memorial Day weekend close to home.

Can't blame them. The average national price for unleaded hit a record today of $3.88 a gallon, according to AAA's Fuel Gauge Report. So did diesel at $4.65 a gallon.

Everyone has an opinion about soaring gas prices, including Gov. Chris Gregoire. Thursday she sent a letter off to the Federal Trade Commission, urging a probe of oil and petroleum markets. I wondered if that meant the governor didn't have confidence in the recent state report, with which her own administration participated, that found no collusive shenanigans in Washington's gas market.

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May 23, 2008 1:00 AM

Marriage equality, closer to home

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Washington's high court had a chance to set an example of decency and fairness two years ago when it took up a challenge to a law banning gays and lesbians from marrying. Instead of ending the practice of governmental discrimination the court affirmed the ban. The ruling stung more because of the majority opinion written by Justice Barbara Madsen. She wrote:

"...(the law) is constitutional because the Legislature was entitled to believe that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers procreation, essential to survival of the human race, and furthers the well-being of children by encouraging families where children are reared in homes headed by the children's biological parents."

I did not realize we faced a fertility problem? Or that lesbians and gays are such bad parents that we need to ensure that only people that can natural have kids become parents.

In my column this week I give California's Supreme Court props for striking down a law that forbade lesbians and gays from marrying. Washington should follow California's lead. The Legislature should do what the court did not and make Washington the third state to allow gays and lesbians to marry.

Click below for a Q&A about my column.

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May 22, 2008 5:06 PM

A Civics Test

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute came by with a story to tell about the decline of civic knowledge among college students. ISI is a kind of highbrow conservative group, and you can argue with its politics, of course. But it backs up its statement with a 60-question test, here. You can argue with a few questions on it, but not much.

Continue reading this post ...


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May 22, 2008 1:01 AM

Rippling down the ballot

Posted by Joni Balter

Younger voters are noisy and enthusiastic about the candidacy of Democratic Sen. Barack Obama.

If they show up in the numbers expected this November, they could not only change the calculus for the presidential election, but also have an impact on contests down ticket. For example, Washington's gubernatorial race. Or Washington's congressional race in the 8th District.

Click below for a podcast where I discuss my column and the impact of young voters on Washington's races.

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May 21, 2008 1:00 AM

Think $130 a barrel is high for oil? Just wait

Posted by Lynne Varner

If the U.S. doesn't get behind third-party talks to ease growing tensions and violence in the Niger Delta, the price of oil, and our costs at the pump, will grow. For better or worse, the problems facing Nigeria, the world's eighth-largest producer of oil, are our problems. For more of this column and a conversation between the author and editorial writer Lance Dickie, click below:

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May 20, 2008 9:52 PM

Candidate Discretion

Posted by Joni Balter

Sen. Barack Obama considered declaring victory tonight on the not-so-overwhelming gotcha of having scored a majority of pledged delegates. Obama reached that milestone, but whoever advised him to back off from such an arrogant declaration gets the expensive steak dinner.

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May 20, 2008 5:39 PM

Accommodating Global Warming

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

Ron Sims, King County executive, came by today with representatives of the Center for Clean Air Policy, here. It was another climate-change thing, but with a twist: It was not about heading it off, but on how to live with it.

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May 18, 2008 1:00 AM

The sighing of America: A time to take a breath

Posted by Jim Vesely

We now live in a make-do time....it's perfectly appropriate that one of the most intensely watched television series is titled, "Lost."

For more of this column and a conversation between the author and editorial writer Bruce Ramsey, click below:

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May 17, 2008 4:00 PM

"Appeasement," again

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

My previous post having inflamed a few hundred people, I'll try another tack. Forget the Munich conference. My point is really not about that anyway. It is about "appeasement" as a political label to prevent a conversation in the present.

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May 16, 2008 8:52 AM

Bush, and His Use of "Appeasement"

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

Democrats are rebuking President Bush for saying in his speech to the Knesset, here, that to “negotiate with terrorists and radicals” is “appeasement.” The Democrats took it as a slap at Barack Obama. What bothers me is the continual reference to Hitler and his National Socialists, particularly the British and French accommodation at the Munich Conference of 1938.

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May 16, 2008 1:00 AM

A pause for the cause of light rail

Posted by Lance Dickie


The connection between the economic health of Puget Sound and its transportation network is fundamental. Light rail, commuter rail and regional transit are part of the mix along with well-maintained roads and bridges.

As soaring gas prices drive people to public transportation, Sound Transit is thinking of going back to voters in November with another package of expansion options. My Friday, May 16, 2008 column argues for waiting until 2010. Read why and listen to a conversation about the column between me and my editorial colleague Bruce Ramsey:


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May 15, 2008 1:51 PM

Words on Israel, China

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

A progressive Israeli and an American China scholar stopped by this week. Here are the high points of an hour with each:

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May 15, 2008 11:29 AM

Lunchtime entertainment

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Keith Olbermann at MSNBC continues to shoot flames out of his mouth during his commentaries. Any fan of strong opinion, as am I, needs to check out the Olbermann commentary below. If he becomes any angrier the cameraman is going to need a rag to wipe the spittle from the lens.

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May 14, 2008 1:00 AM

An Ode to the Disposable Bag

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

Not exactly an ode. But in my column today, I wanted to speak in defense of the disposable bag, whether paper or plastic, and to object to Seattle's proposal to punish shoppers with a 20-cent-per-bag tax.

Of course I could get used to the tax, and to carrying empty bags so as to avoid it. But I don't want it, and I'm not going agree to it because being "green" feels good.

Click below for a podcast discussion with my colleague Lynne Varner.

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May 12, 2008 8:01 AM

A Study: Fairness vs. Self-Interest

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

A column by Gregory Rodriguez in the Los Angeles Times, here, makes a political point from a study of 12 students by some U.C.L.A. psychologists. The study used something called "the ultimatum game" to make a statement about what Rodriguez calls "the eternal conflict between material self-interest and fairness."

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May 11, 2008 1:00 AM

Rage of the neighborhoods.

Posted by Jim Vesely

O.K., rage is a little too much, but faced with the crush of planned density, neighborhoods from Laurelhurst to the far reaches of the Eastside are preparing for the worst. In two communities, the stakes are high. Should Magnolia accept the idea of a new city prison at its borders -- my guess is, not! Should the folks living on the blue edge of Waterway 1 Seattle, accept a state agency's notion that more public access is necessary. My guess is, not!

This is not NIMBYism as much as it is a sense of survival. Altruism belongs to governments and not necessarily need be asked of neighborhoods, holding on to their community in the face of more taxes, more density, less say in the coming re-planning of the Puget Sound region.

For a podcast on my Sunday, May 11 column, "The neighborhods cry, Leave us alone!" see below.
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May 9, 2008 8:29 PM

Why Not Genetic Discrimination?

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

Michael Kinsley, writing in Time, here, presents an argument for genetic discrimination by insurers. He backs away from it; he doesn't like the odor of it. But the logic of it is compelling. Insurance is a kind of organized betting. When you buy health insurance, you bet that you will get sick and the insurer bets you won't. If the insurer has information that you're more likely to get a certain illness, why is it "unfair" to roll that fact into the price?

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May 9, 2008 3:38 PM

Superdelegates gone wild

Posted by Joni Balter

The hunt is on for superdelegates. Sen. Barack Obama landed a previously undeclared delegate from Washington, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen of Arlington, Snohomish County. Who is next from our state?

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May 9, 2008 1:37 PM

Radio daze

Posted by Jim Vesely

During today's mid-day radio interview on public radio, a young and perceptive reporter from The Stranger was giving an on-site discussion of the Oregon presidential primary. Goes to show you even the best of us are sometimes mistaken, because listeners were perplexted by the repeated reference from the Stranger's reporter about being on the green, Eugene campus of Oregon State University.

The moderator cleared it up in the last seconds of the broadcast. No doubt the sound of ducks outside the studio became too much to ignore.

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May 9, 2008 1:30 PM

A show of hands, please

Posted by Lance Dickie


How many readers believe the U.S. economy is in the midst of a recession? That's right, not on the way but already here.

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May 9, 2008 12:17 PM

MLK: Shades of Rev. Wright?

Posted by Lynne Varner

New memorials in the nation's capitol often clash over politics and aesthetics. But here's something that takes the cake. A proposed sculpture of Martin Luther King, Jr. is being rejected because King's upright posture, folded arms and unsmiling face is considered too confrontational. It likely didn't help that at 28 feet, the King statue would be an imposing eight feet taller than the statute of Abraham Lincoln. Gazing up at a towering, stern King, visions of a fiery Rev. Wright likely danced in a few heads.

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May 9, 2008 1:00 AM

The idea of a free market and ideas on the free market

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Are ideas and theories as important as democracy resilient enough to survive the free market? I address that question in my column today. I wrote the column off of a Tuesday U.S. House subcommittee hearing the Internet Freedom and Preservation Act of 2008. The bill places nondiscrimination language into the Communications Act of 1934. Essentially, the new provisions would not allow network providers like Comcast from blocking or degrading legal content on the Internet.

Before the hearing began nearly all the Republicans on the subcommittee said that the Internet does not need a net neutrality law because the free market will ensure that the platform remains open and assessable to all. I strongly disagree with that argument and say as much in my column. The Internet has become the conduit through which ideals of freedom are spread, discussed, disputed, and embraced. Free thought will stagnate if there are not some government assurances that network providers will not get in the way.

Click below for a Q&A discussion of this column.

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May 8, 2008 8:34 PM

Washington needs Korea trade

Posted by Kate Riley

Washington's oldest and newest industries are heading up efforts to counter some of the presidential campaign's anti-trade rhetoric, especially when it comes to the United State's pending Korea Trade Agreement.

Microsoft and Washington Farm Bureau are co-chairing the newly formed Washington State/U.S.-Korea
Free Trade Agreement Coalition.

While anti-trade rhetoric gets traction in America's rustbelt, it is toxic to Washington state where one in three jobs is related to trade. And Korea poses great opportunities for Washington industry, whether its software or potatoes exports.

Representing Microsoft is Dorothy Dwoskin, senior director of GlobalTrade Policy and Strategy, and from the farm bureau is Patrick Connor, national affairs director.

Their leadership comes none too soon as the United States' pending trade agreements have become targets in the superheated presidential election campaigns. Both Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are promising to retreat from the United States' efforts develop markets for U.S. products through trade agreements.

Kathleen Connors, president of the Washington Council on International Trade, notes that Korea was the state's 5th largest trading partner in 2007.

Trade is getting a bad rap, especially considering that international trade is one of the few bright spots in a flagging economy.

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May 8, 2008 6:00 PM

Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos"

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

As I glance over the web page of the Washington Post, I note that the most emailed story is, "Did Rush Limbaugh Tilt Result in Indiana?" Rush was gleefully urging his Republican listeners in Indiana to take Democratic ballots in Indiana's open primary and to vote for Hillary Clinton, just to give Barack Obama a hard time. And indeed, Hillary Clinton narrowly won, by 17,000 votes.

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May 8, 2008 11:55 AM

Fred Jarrett, the governor and Mark Twain's dad

Posted by Kate Riley

State Rep. Fred Jarrett's reinvention as a Democrat seems utterly complete with today's announcement that the May 30 kickoff for his state Senate campaign will be cohosted by none other than the state's highest ranking Democrat, Gov. Chris Gregoire.

That's a coup for this moderate public servant...

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May 8, 2008 1:00 AM

Party animals

Posted by Joni Balter

Should elections for King County executive and council be partisan or nonpartisan? Currently, voters have the benefit of knowing which party a candidate identifies with because the party label appears next to a candidate's name on the ballot. A citizen's initiative, backed by thousands of signatures, may change county elections to nonpartisan affairs.
Joni Balter ponders this in her column and ends up on the side of more information for voters and more opportunity for party building.

Click below for a Q&A with Joni about her column.

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May 7, 2008 1:00 AM

Doing better by foster children

Posted by Lynne Varner


In her column today, Lynne Varner laments the often bleak future for foster care youths who turn 18 and are assumed to no longer need child welfare's safety net. Lawmakers are discovering that a need for family and the care that goes with being in one doesn't stop at the door of adulthood. Lynne recently returned from a Washington, D.C., meeting of young adults touched by foster care. The event was convened by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Seattle-based Casey Family Programs, two organizations at the forefront of efforts to bolster support for young adults emerging from foster care.

Click below for an audio Q&A with Lynne about her column.

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May 6, 2008 3:05 PM

Gussying up the pig in a poke

Posted by Lynne Varner

President Bush, nearing the end of his time in office, is finally acquiescing to calls for more flexibility in the No Child Left Behind federal law. Too little to late?

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May 5, 2008 4:12 PM

Private Money and Public Schools, cont'd

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

This story, in today's Times, is infuriating. Here is a donor, the National Math and Science Initiative, which has corporate money and some Bill Gates money. It offers $13 million to a handful of high schools in Washington, including Franklin and West Seattle high schools in Seattle, to set up programs to increase the number of kids taking Advanced Placement courses in math, science and English. And the schools here can't accept the money because of a union problem.

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May 5, 2008 2:28 PM

Obama's End-the-War Problem

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

Barack Obama has been running as a get-out-of-Iraq candidate, talking about leaving within 16 months. But as this article in The New Republic says, it is not a clear promise. "The fine point of his plan," writes Michael Crowley, "is filled with caveats, ambiguities and wiggle room..."

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May 4, 2008 1:00 AM

Exploding neighborhoods: Magnolia to Mercer Island

Posted by Kate Riley

In his column today, editorial page editor James Vesely discusses the tensions erupting in established neighborhoods when high density housing moves in.

For a Q&A with the author, click below

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May 2, 2008 3:38 PM

Nine planets

Posted by Joni Balter

Political wonks and voters in King County are about to have a conversation/civics lesson about the desirability - or lack of - of partisan elections for County Council and County Executive.
Sponsors of a citizens' initiative hoping to change the county to nonpartisan elections submitted 80,000 signatures, 52,817 of which must be valid registered voters. The number submitted is probably sufficient. Voters likely be asked in August if they want to put the charter amendment on the November ballot.

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May 2, 2008 12:53 PM

A Foreign Student Brings Back the Gold

Posted by Bruce Ramsey

Why do universities here bother with all these foreign students? Well, most of them pay tuition, and at a high rate. It's a services-export industry. But beyond that, there are benefits that people don't think of--like this story from the Puget Sound Business Journal.

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May 2, 2008 12:00 AM

Now's not the time to be flip about housing

Posted by Kate Riley

In his column today, Lance Dickie highlights some of the efforts in Snohomish County to help homeowners affected by the emerging housing crisis.

Click below for a podcast.interview with Lance Dickie by his colleague, editorial writer Bruce Ramsey.

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May 1, 2008 3:36 PM

Mission Accomplished?

Posted by Lance Dickie

Maybe not. The latest out of the White House is a soulful reappraisal of the Mission Accomplished banner that touted President George Bush's triumph in Iraq, five years ago. Maybe it was a little presumptuous and should have included a few asterisks, Bush's minions now say.

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