‘The Sky Didn’t Fall’: Study on Seattle $15 Minimum Wage Proves Critics Wrong

by Jake Johnson – “These findings are consistent with the lion’s share of rigorous academic minimum wage research studies” In an analysis bolstering the arguments of those fighting for minimum wage hikes nationwide, a group of University of California, Berkeley economists has found that Seattle’s decision to gradually raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour has not hampered job growth, despite the frequent warnings of doom-and-gloom critics. The study (pdf), released on Tuesday, examined the effects of the incremental wage increases in 2015 and 2016. After analyzing Seattle job data prior to the wage hikes—which were signed into law by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray in 2015—and after they began to take effect, researchers found “no evidence of job loss in the city’s restaurant industry, even as pay reached $13 for workers in large companies.” Professor Michael Reich, lead author of the analysis, said the Seattle wage hikes are “working as intended, raising pay for low-wage workers, without negatively affecting...

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The DoJ Temporarily Shut Down a Legal Services Group that Opposed the Muslim Ban

by Lauren C. Williams – A judge eventually issued a restraining order to prevent the Justice Department crackdown. The Justice Department temporarily shut down a non-profit group in Seattle that provides free pro se, or temporary, legal representation to immigrants for nearly a month on a technicality, the Nation reported. The Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP), which offers legal services to upwards of 10,000 immigrants each year, helped immigrants at Seattle-Tacoma International airport avoid deportation under the Trump administration’s Muslim ban executive order earlier this year. But federal authorities shut down the group’s operations via a cease-and-desist letter in April, warning the group to close its asylum program and drop its clients or face disciplinary action. The NWIRP is accused of breaking an obscure law meant to punish fraudulent, predatory immigration lawyers, also known as “notarios” who will take on a case, collect a fee, and then drop it before seeing...

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On This Day Apr. 5, 1994 – Kurt Cobain Commits Suicide

Modern rock icon Kurt Cobain commits suicide on this day in 1994. His body was discovered inside his home in Seattle, Washington, three days later by Gary Smith, an electrician, who was installing a security system in the suburban house. Despite indications that Cobain, the lead singer of Nirvana, killed himself, several skeptics questioned the circumstances of his death and pinned responsibility on his wife, Courtney Love. At least two books, including one penned by Love’s estranged father, and a nationally released documentary, Kurt & Courtney, openly expressed doubt that Cobain killed himself and all but accused Love of having her husband killed. Her volatile reputation and healthy list of enemies helped to circulate the rumors. However, police have concluded that Cobain’s death was the result of suicide. Cobain’s downward spiral began taking shape in Italy the previous month. He went into a coma and nearly died after mixing...

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#FreeDaniel: Community United in Outrage After ICE Detains ‘Dreamer’ With No Criminal Record

by Nika Knight – ‘Seattle stands with Daniel and we will not back down until he is free.’ U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has arrested and detained a ‘Dreamer,’ or an undocumented immigrant brought to the U.S. as a young child and given permission to live and work legally in the country, stunning civil rights defenders nationwide and provoking fierce local opposition. While President Donald Trump has issued a draconian anti-immigrant executive order that appears to have set in motion a sharp increase in ICE raids nationwide, the arrest of Daniel Ramirez Medina in Seattle last week marks the first detention of an immigrant allowed to live and work legally in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program since Trump took office. “Arresting a young DACA recipient with deep roots in our country is not only cruel and outrageous but an affront to our core principles...

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Will Gun Tax Survive Challenge?

by Elaine S. Povich – To Mike Coombs, owner of the Outdoor Emporium, a hunting, fishing and camping store, Seattle’s gun tax is unfair and aimed at driving him out of the city, if not out of business. To Seattle City Councilor Tim Burgess, the tax is a good way to fund medical research on reducing gun violence injuries. The two represent the opposing poles in the debate over Seattle’s controversial tax on guns and ammunition that took effect Jan. 1 and puts this city at the center of a dispute over whether municipalities can tax firearms to pay for what they see as a public benefit or states alone have the power to regulate and tax guns. The dispute, which emerged briefly last year in Baltimore and continues in Cook County, Illinois, involves issues such as whether the taxes are designed to suppress gun sales or drive sales out...

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Gun Dealers May Actually Have To Pay For Some Of The Carnage They Cause In Seattle

by IAN MILLHISER – A National Rifle Association lawsuit seeking to immunize gun dealers from a recently enacted tax was rejected by a state trial court on Tuesday. If Judge Palmer Robinson’s decision is ultimately upheld on appeal, the tax will fund gun safety research as well as programs seeking to prevent gun violence. Last August, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray (D) signed an ordinance providing for a $25 tax on each gun and a 2 to 5 cent tax on each round of ammunition sold within the city. The NRA, along with several other pro-gun groups and individuals, sued, claiming that the law violates a Washington State law preventing municipal governments from enacting any “regulation” of guns. As Judge Robinson explains in his opinion, however, the power to tax is separate from the power to regulate. Among other things, he notes, the ordinance does not “place any burden or restriction”...

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US City Plans To Set Up Safe Houses For Heroin Users To Inject Drugs Under Supervision

by John Vibes – Heroin is one of the most hated drugs on the face of the planet, many of us have lost friends, loved ones and family members to heroin addiction, and it leads us to the conclusion that “something must be done” to stop it. Sadly, this “something” usually comes in the form of fines, arrests, prison time and other hardcore police state tactics. However, these tactics have proven that they do not work because it has been a serious issue for over 50 years and things have only gotten worse. The drugs have gotten dirtier and more dangerous, and the black market has gotten more violent, as the prison time associated with these drugs has continued to climb. Heroin addiction is a serious problem, but as counter-intuitive as it sounds, the best way to prevent heroin overdoses is to actually legalize it. Certain areas of the world, like...

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Seattle Declares Official State Of Emergency Over Homelessness Crisis

by JUDD LEGUM – 66 homeless people have died on the streets of Seattle and the surrounding area this year. Mayor Ed Murray has had enough. On Monday, Murray and King County Executive Down Constantine declared states of emergency in Seattle and the surrounding county.   The officials announced over $5 million of immediate spending on additional shelter capacity, outreach and homelessness prevention efforts. Seattle currently has 1600 shelter beds and will add another 100 under the plan. “Emergency declarations are associated with natural disasters, but the persistent and growing phenomenon of homelessness – here and nationwide – is a human-made crisis just as devastating to thousands as a flood or fire,” Constantine said.  Ed Murray   ✔@MayorEdMurray This is a human crisis seldom seen in the history of our city—indeed in the history of our nation. 12:19 PM – 2 Nov 2015 Constantine and Murray said the crisis could...

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NRA Suing Seattle For Having The Audacity To Take Action Against Gun Violence

by SARAH – Gun violence in the United States is an epidemic. And while people who love to claim they’re “law-abiding” citizens and shouldn’t dare be given any restrictions on firearms, there are those in this nation who wish to cause harm. So, thinking pragmatically, Seattle, Washington, implemented a “gun violence tax.” The tax is set up to help offset the amount of money the taxpayers of Seattle pay every year in gun related injuries, as well as researching gun violence data. According to Seattle.gov: “Under the gun violence tax, firearms dealers would pay $25 for every firearm sold and $0.05 for every round of ammunition sold. The City Budget Office estimates the gun violence tax will raise between $300,000 and $500,000 a year.” City Council President, Tim Burgess, said: “Gun violence is a public health epidemic, but we can alleviate it with focused research and prevention funded by this...

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Fast And Furious: Fox News Tells Lie Every 14 Seconds In Segment On Seattle Minimum Wage

By RANDA MORRIS, Addicting Info – During a recent segment titled Minimum Wage Hike Killing Jobs In Seattle, Fox probably didn’t break any of its previous records on the number of lies told, or the speed at which the network tells them, but they sure gave it a good try. In just under 100 seconds, the segment manages to work in seven lies, telling an average of one lie every 14 seconds. Using an extremely flawed study conducted by a right-wing think tank called The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Fox News host Stewart Varney let the bullshit fly. As pointed out by many experts, the AEI study that Fox refers to purposely confuses the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) with the city of Seattle. The study supposedly looks at how a minimum wage increase, which took effect in April in the city of Seattle, Washington is “killing jobs in Seattle.” The problem is that...

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Free Speech Under Attack: Cops Ticket Man for Warning Drivers about ‘Speed Trap’

By Matt Agorist, TheFreeThoughtProject – Seattle, WA — When it comes to cops and their revenue generating schemes, those who interfere will have their rights trampled. Last Wednesday, Daniel Gehlke interfered — his rights were subsequently trampled. Gehlke witnessed police engaged in an entrapment scheme ostensibly designed for the safety of society, but in reality a means of extracting revenue from the citizenry. “I saw an injustice so I thought I needed to come out and warn people that something was happening. I thought it was a problem,” said Gehlke in an interview with KIRO 7. As a concerned citizen, Gehlke took action and a sharpie and wrote on a lid of a plastic bin to warn drivers of the revenue collection scheme. The lid said, “Cops Ahead! Stop at Sign and Lights” This interference with the revenue stream was quickly dealt with by police. Gehlke was given a $138 ticket for holding up this...

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As Shell Drilling Rig Aims for Arctic, Waves of Kayaks Block the Way

By Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams – Update 3:40 PM EDT As rolling blockades of kayakers confronted the Shell rig as it navigated up the Puget Sound, there were indications early Monday afternoon that the Polar Pioneer may have been grounded in shallow water off the coast of Bainbridge Island. However, after a more than three hour delay, the rig is now on the move and activists say kayakers up the channel are prepared for more resistance. Meanwhile, praise for the bravery of the ‘kayaktivists’ has come from all corners. “Today, the Puget Sound is the scene of some serious climate heroics,” tweeted David Turnbull, campaigns director at Oil Change International. And 350.org founder Bill McKibben wrote: “Favorite new word of 2015 is ‘kayaktivist‘ and this a.m. they‘re giving Shell fits in Seattle’s harbor.” Updates on the rig can be found on Twitter under the hashtag #SHellNo. Earlier In canoes and...

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Vet Makes Tearful 911 Call From VA Hospital Parking Lot After Staff Refused Help

By Jen Hayden, Daily Kos – Donald Siefken is a 64-year-old Army vet from the Seattle area. He was making a late-night run to the airport so his wife could catch a red-eye flight. Along the way he took a bad step and broke his foot. During the drive to the airport, his pain increased dramatically and the foot swelled. After dropping his wife off, he headed to the emergency room at the VA hospital and that’s when things took an insane turn. Totally insane: Siefken parked outside the ER on the ambulance roundabout and, because he couldn’t walk, called the front desk for help. The worker who answered “couldn’t for the life of him understand why someone from Kennewick was trying to get treated in Seattle,” Siefken said. “I tried and tried to explain it to him, but he just wouldn’t listen.” After an argument, Siefken said, the employee...

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Impossible City: A Youth-Built Off-Grid Movable Eco-Village for Seattle’s Homeless

By Stu Robarts, Gizmag – A project by Seattle-based charity Sawhorse Revolution is both educating young people and creating accommodation for the homeless. The Impossible City is a community of housing built by local teens as they learn new skills. The accommodation is designed to be affordable, sustainable and movable. The Impossible City project began in late 2014 when Sawhorse Revolution formed a partnership with the Nickelsville mobile homeless community. The community provides security, shelter and solidarity for around 40 residents. Sawhorse explains that homeless encampments in Seattle move every 3-18 months and there is no guarantee that new sites will have water, electricity or sewage facilities. Nickelsville pays out around US$2,000 each month for facilities like honey buckets, water and gas, so there was a need to investigate alternative and off-grid solutions. “It wasn’t hard to realize that we really needed to engage with off-grid living practices to...

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Seattle City Council Unanimously Declares Opposition to Fast Track

“Few things counterpose the interests of multinational corporations to the interests of workers, the environment, and democracy” like the TPP By Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams – The Seattle City Council resoundingly approved a resolution Monday evening cementing its opposition to so-called Fast Track authority that’s needed to speed passage of corporate-friendly, rights-trampling trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The resolution (pdf), which passed the nine-member council unanimously, expresses concern with the “closed-door manner” in which that 12-nation pact is being brokered, as well as its potential to “undermine local governmental authority to create reasonable rules and regulations, including those related to environmental safeguards, future climate policy, and food safety standards.” Furthermore, it outright opposes Fast Track authority, which would allow the TPP to be finalized with no opportunity for Congress to amend, review, or debate it. Lawmakers are expected to take up Fast Track as soon as they return from Easter...

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Opposition Grows as Shell Drilling Fleet Heads to Arctic Waters

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management says “there is a 75% chance of one or more large spills” occurring By Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams – Marking 26 years since the Exxon Valdez ran aground spilling as much as 38 million gallons of oil into the Port William Sound in Alaska, activists last week protested the Obama administration’s continued support for Arctic oil exploration. Despite the known threat to the fragile Arctic ecosystem and high risk of a devastating oil spill, the Department of the Interior is expected as early as Wednesday to sign off on the revised environmental impact statement (EIS) for Shell’s Chuckchi Sea lease, which would clear a major hurdle for the company to restart its Arctic drilling program this summer. Interior Secretary Sally Jewel’s formal announcement will follow last month’s approval by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which was given despite the agency’s own EIS finding that “there...

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Fight Over Seattle’s $15 Minimum Wage Could have National Consequences

By Ned Resnikoff, Al Jazeera – A federal judge will rule early next week on whether to temporarily suspend a portion of Seattle, Washington’s $15 minimum-wage law, pending the outcome of a longer inquiry into whether the legislation is constitutional. The International Franchise Association (IFA), which requested the temporary injunction, is suing the city of Seattle on charges that the new law unfairly discriminates against franchisees. The outcome of that lawsuit could potentially influence wage laws and other labor regulations across the country. Seattle’s minimum-wage law, which is scheduled to take effect on April 1, requires employers to raise wages at different rates depending on how many workers they employ nationwide. A business with 500 or fewer employees in the U.S. must pay its workers at least $10 per hour starting on April 1, and $15 per hour by the first day of 2021. Businesses with more than 500 employees must pay at...

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Seattle Mayor Defends Plan to Open Tent Cities to Curb Rising Homelessness

By Renee Lewis, Al Jazeera– Seattle city officials defended plans to open three tent encampments in response to rising homelessness, saying a compromise is necessary to ensure that thousands of people have a safe place to sleep while the city works on more permanent solutions. “We must act now to provide immediate relief for the 2,800 unsheltered homeless people identified in Seattle during last month’s One Night Count,” Jason Kelly, Mayor Ed Murray’s press secretary, told Al Jazeera in an email, referring to the grassroots drive to determine how many homeless live in the city. City Councilmember Sally J. Clark echoed that sentiment, saying, “In the absence of indoor shelter and immediately available housing, tent cities are a way for people to be safe tonight while we work to get the shelter and housing needed.” Mayor Murray’s draft ordinance, presented to the City Council last month, would authorize up to...

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Find Out Which U.S. City Shames You Into Composting

By Cole Mellino, EcoWatch – Seattle joins other progressive cities like San Francisco, Portland, Vancouver and New York to have composting mandates. Last September, the Seattle City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting food from the city’s residential and commercial garbage The ban went into effect on Jan. 1, but fines won’t be issued until July. In the meantime, the city has an interesting way to make people compost: shame. Any establishment — businesses, single family homes, apartments, you name it — with more than 10 percent food or compostable paper in its garbage earns a scarlet letter — in the form of a bright red tag — on their garbage bin. The goal of this public shaming is to warn residents about impending fines and, hopefully, create an even stronger culture of composting in which it is simply the norm. All establishments will have to subscribe to a composting service offered by the city...

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