Latest from The Spokesman-Review
POST FALLS, Idaho — It took five years for negotiators to work out the details of a multinational treaty on child support that would make it easier to track delinquent parents around the world. It took only a couple of minutes for a committee of the Idaho Legislature to endanger America’s participation.
In a 9-to-8 vote in the closing hours of the legislative session, the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee killed a bill that state and federal officials had said was crucial to the finely crafted choreography of the child support treaty reached at The Hague. All 50 states must approve the mechanics of the treaty for American ratification to proceed, and 19 have signed off thus far.
A major factor seems to be Idaho’s ornery streak, the part of the state’s identity that does not like the federal government — or, worse still, foreign governments — telling it what to do. Full story. Kirk Johnson, NYT
Kim Barker, a reporter for the Spokesman-Review in 1995 to 1998, reviewed a book on Afghanistan for the New York Times Book Review that will be published Sunday. The book, titled No Good Men Among the Living, was written by Anand Gopal.
Barker is a former foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and wrote about her experiences as a journalist in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Her book, Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan, was critically well-received. She read from her book in May 2011 at Auntie's Books.
Barker is now a reporter for ProPublica.
Here's a link to her review.
The cover story of the December 29th New York Times Magazine was “The Lives They Lived” and it featured profiles of a number of celebrities and luminaries who died in 2013. What I found most interesting were the photos of possessions belonging to some of those profiled: James Gandolfini’s battered Cadillac. Editta Sherman’s tube of red lipstick. Esther Williams’ swimsuit. The gloves Scott Carpenter wore in Space.
I especially liked that the Times used the phrase “Objects of Affection” to describe the things people loved. That’s my phrase, too.
I’ve always been fascinated by the things we hold dear, the things we hold on to. Over the years, in my Treasure Hunting columns and Spokesman.com blog posts, I’ve shared the story behind a number of my own favorite possessions, but in November 2013, I started a series on my Treasure Hunting blog featuring the “Objects of Affection” of people in our community. I sent out an email to some of my Facebook connection asking if they’d be willing to share the stories of their favorite objects. The response was immediate and fascinating. Men, women, and even a child, wrote of their love for ordinary objects that ranged from sheet music to paper mementoes to childhood toys to jewelry to heirloom furniture and artwork.
My idea was to give ordinary people a chance to share their fondness for ordinary objects. I was able to post a few before the busyness of the holiday season overwhelmed me—this is a personal project, not an assignment— but in 2014 I’m looking forward to getting more stories up on a regular basis.
Consider this your invitation to show and tell. What is the thing you hold onto? Why? Send me an email (subject heading “Object”) at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do the rest.
Oh, and the photo above? That’s one of my own objects of affection. It’s the old yellow ware bowl in my kitchen. It was in my mother’s kitchen and my grandmother’s kitchen before that. I’ve written about it a number of times over the years because I can’t imagine living in a house without it.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the U.S. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” (available at Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane) and can be reached at email@example.com
My own view is that everybody’s a little right and that we’re at a scary cultural crossroads on the whole car/bike thing. American cities are dense enough — and almost half of urban car trips short enough, under three miles — that cities from Denver to Miami are putting in bike-share programs. If there’s one thing New York City’s incoming and departing mayors agree on, it’s the need for more bike lanes.
The American Medical Association endorses National Bike to Work Day, and more than 850,000 people commute on a bicycle, according to the League of American Bicyclists. Nationwide, cycling is the second most popular outdoor activity after running, supporting a $6.1 billion industry that sold 18.7 million bikes last year.
(Image courtesy of Cycling Spokane. This ghost bike was for David Squires, killed at Division St. and Sprague Ave., on March 1st 2010.)
But the social and legal culture of the American road, not to mention the road itself, hasn’t caught up. Laws in most states do give bicycles full access to the road, but very few roads are designed to accommodate bicycles, and the speed and mass differentials — bikes sometimes slow traffic, only cyclists have much to fear from a crash — make sharing the road difficult to absorb at an emotional level. Nor does it help that many cyclists do ignore traffic laws. Every time I drive my car through San Francisco, I see cyclists running stop signs like immortal, entitled fools. So I understand the impulse to see cyclists as recreational risk takers who deserve their fate.
Always fun to see how other folks view Spokane. Here's the take of a New York Times writer who reported this week on the controversy over coal ports and coal trains expanding in the Northwest.
SPOKANE, Wash. — The Pacific Northwest’s sense of itself can sometimes seem green to the point of parody: a medium-roast blend of piney peaks and urban cool, populated by residents who look descended from lumberjacks or fishermen… .
Spokane grew up with the rattling of the rails as its theme song. As a transfer hub for freight and passenger service — four competing intercontinental lines once met on the edge of town — the city hitched its star to the idea of an America on the move. The graceful, filigreed architecture of downtown speaks to a moment around World War I when that economic chemistry reached its zenith.
But where the coastal areas around Seattle — a hotbed of energy-rail opposition — are largely liberal, Spokane is more conservative, and while the Puget Sound region has boomed in the post-recession years, Spokane has struggled. The unemployment rate here was 8.1 percent in June, according to federal figures, compared with 5.9 percent in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area.
Despite the somewhat condescending beginning and some over-reaching prose throughout, the story is an OK look at the controversy. Not great, but OK. And the photos, by former Spokesman-Review photojournalist and current local photographer Rajah Bose, are nice.
Here's proof that the New York Times reports on something other than Idaho's Hard Right politics when it comes calling — a travel piece by Rachel Levin:
The “Entering Stanley, Idaho” sign seemed more like a friendly warning than a welcome. “Population 63,” it read, as if to say: Congratulations, you’ve made it to the middle of nowhere. Stanley is the entry point to the Sawtooth Valley, a time warp of a place with four saloons, five mountain ranges and not much else. My husband, Josh, our two children and I had driven three hours from Boise along an empty, winding two-lane scenic byway for a week of summer adventure. Still, as we strolled down deserted, dusty Wall Street looking for a lunch spot, it was hard not to wonder: Where is everyone? More here.
Question: If you described yourself "in the middle of nowhere" within the borders of Idaho, where would you be?
This isn't good. Last year, I remember stumbling across an article that said our carbon dioxide could pass a daily average of 400 parts per million (ppm) in at least four years. That number is significant because it's an atmospheric concentration not seen in human history. Over the weekend, like a sequel that was rushed to theaters without time for screening from critics, the New York Times reported we've now gone beyond that milestone:
Scientific monitors reported that the gas had reached an average daily level that surpassed 400 parts per million — just an odometer moment in one sense, but also a sobering reminder that decades of efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control are faltering.
The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years, before humans evolved, and scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea.
The whole article is worth reading.
Key quote: “If you start turning the Titanic long before you hit the iceberg, you can go clear without even spilling a drink of a passenger on deck,” said Richard B. Alley, a climate scientist at the Pennsylvania State University. “If you wait until you’re really close, spilling a lot of drinks is the best you can hope for.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk must be getting tired of fighting bad reviews of his cars. In 2011Tesla sued the BBC’s ‘Top Gear’ over a segment where two of their roadsters allegedly broke down on the show’s test track. Musk defended his company once again this month on Bloomberg television. He claims a misleading New York Times review of the Tesla Model S cost Tesla $100million.
I'm glad The New York Times special coverage of that avalanche took pains to note that it took place in Washington "State".
Otherwise, I'll bet people might have suspected it all took place in the Georgetown district of D.C.
WINTER SPORTS — Our newspaper covered the Feb. 19, 2012, avalanche tragedy that killed three expert skiers at Stevens Pass, and I wrote a column that week explaining why avalanche tragedies must be explored.
But 10 months later, The New York Times has put together a long, in-depth, informative and fascinating multi-media report on the incident.
It's called, Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek — A group of world-class skiers and snowboarders set out to ski Tunnel Creek. Then the mountain moved.
It isn’t often that a New York Times opinion columnist holds Idaho up as a model of how to do things. But bicycle enthusiast Randy Cohen did that recently. Cohen, who writes the Times Magazine’s Ethicist column, admitted that he rolls through stop signs and stoplights and sometimes rides on sidewalks. But he doesn’t “salmon” (ride against traffic). Then, he reasoned that his “rolling stops” were legal in some places. Like Idaho. Indeed, an Idaho bicyclist is allowed to slow down and roll through stop signs, if it is safe to do so. Argues Cohen: “Laws work best when they are voluntarily heeded by people who regard them as reasonable. There aren’t enough cops to coerce everyone into obeying every law all the time. If cycling laws were a wise response to actual cycling rather than a clumsy misapplication of motor vehicle laws, I suspect that compliance, even by me, would rise.” Cohen would really wax poetic if he knew that Idaho also allows bicyclists to cross against a red traffic light after stopping, if the coast is clear. Idaho more progressive than New York? Who woulda thunk it?/DFO, SR Huckleberries. More here.
Other SR weekend columns:
- Voting reveals continued Washington state split/Jim Camden
- Garden: Organic cherries aren't for the birds/Susan Mulvihill
- Slice: At 60, we will be ready for a stiff one/Paul Turner
- Install mayor's revolving door in other Washington/Doug Clark
- Outdoors: USFS mule packers lend muscle to lookout project/Rich Landers
- Jeffreys' sleight of hand isn't just Ridpath/Shawn Vestal
Question: How else is Idaho more pragmatic than New York?
On the New York Times opinion page, columnist Randy Cohen holds up Idaho — Idaho! — as an example of reasonable bicycle law when it comes to stop signs. (Bicyclists can treat them like yield signs and roll through them if the coast is clear.) Writes Cohen: "I am not anarchic; I heed most traffic laws. I do not ride on the sidewalk (O.K., except for the final 25 feet between the curb cut and my front door, and then with caution). I do not salmon, i.e. ride against traffic. In fact, even my “rolling stops” are legal in some places. Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group of which I am a member, points out that many jurisdictions, Idaho for example, allow cyclists to slow down and roll through stop signs after yielding to pedestrians. Mr. White e-mailed me: “I often say that it is much more important to tune into the pedestrians rather than tune into the lights, largely because peds jaywalk so much!” If my rule-breaking is ethical and safe (and Idaho-legal), why does it annoy anyone?" More here. (AP file photo: Two bicyclists ride through New York streets)
- H/T: Fort Boise
Question: Should Idaho continue to allow bicyclists to roll through stop signs, if it's safe to do so?
A reporter from the New York Times recently asked me about a piece of Nanny Government legislation and, with childlike innocence, conveyed his belief in fairy tales that might include fields of frolicking unicorns, pots of gold at the end of rainbows and the “the conservative Idaho Legislature.” The reporter asked me to predict the fate of a bill to ban minors from using tanning beds—a bill that we very much opposed. “But that bill doesn’t stand a chance, right?” posed the reporter. “After all, Idaho’s Legislature is the most conservative in the nation.” “What makes you think it’s the most conservative in the nation?” I asked.“Well, it’s the most Republican,” the reporter replied.“What makes you think it’s the most conservative?” I prodded. Of course, you can’t blame the reporter in this case. Many in the state, too, have heard the Myth of the Conservative Idaho Legislature. We almost believe it is true/Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.
Question: If the Idaho Legislature isn't conservative, what the heck is it?
THE LAND: As Will Rodgers put it, "They ain't making it no more."
In his PBS documentary, National Parks: America's Best Idea, filmmaker Ken Burns vividly pointed out how a certain number of high-level naysayers have condemned the concept of preserving virtually every spread of now wildly popular public land from Arcadia to Yosemite.
And the naysayers are still around, emerging most recently and noticeably in the Republic presidential campaign.
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have tried to pander to a certain anti-government crowd by scorning the concept of public land — apparently oblivious to the public outrage that doused the Sagebrush Rebellion led by the Reagan Administration's short-lived Interior Secretary James Watt.
Last month, Romney said told a gathering in Nevada, “I don’t know what the purpose is” of the great American public land legacy — a domain that includes 190 million acres of national forests, 52 million acres of national parks, and more than 500 million acres of open range, wildlife refuges and other turf under management of the Interior Department.
That campaign swing was largely overlooked by the national press, but not by New York Times Western correspondent Timothy Egan, who takes them on and clearly explains the value of public lands in this op-ed piece.
Check it out.
Also see this post about Political "Sportsmen" Stabbing Theodore Roosevelt In the Back.
Here, the lawmaker who has spent eight years working for what might seem far less controversial goals is the only openly gay member of the Idaho Legislature. Now with the session well under way and a gay rights bill again showing little sign of getting a hearing, the senator who has been its champion, Nicole LeFavour, plans to become the former only openly gay lawmaker in the Idaho Legislature. Ms. LeFavour, 48, has decided not to seek re-election, for what she says is a very painful reason: she has had enough and she expects things to only get harder. "My partner Carol has put up with a lot of stress and has stood by me as I dealt with a lot of loss,” Ms. LeFavour wrote in a blog post last month. “She’s so smart and keeps me laughing through the hardest times but you can only ask that of someone for so long"/William Yardley, New York Times. More here. (Betsy Russell 2009 SR file photo: Nicole LeFavour asks a Senate committee to introduce her bill to expand state human rights protection to gays but is rejected)
Question: What will be state Sen. Nicole LeFavour's legacy?
Huckleberries knows how to settle the fight over the radical online education plan forced on Idaho’s schoolchildren by Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna and legislative accomplices last year – and subject to a November referendum. Stage a winner-take-all cage match between Luna and Post Falls instructor Ann Rosenbaum. In one corner, we’d have Luna, a former school board member who got his college degree online. In the other corner, Rosenbaum, a former Marine military police officer who escaped a car bomb in Iraq. New York Times reporter Matt Richtel featured Rosenbaum and two other teachers in an article about the controversy Tuesday. Rosenbaum told the Times: “This technology is being thrown on us. It’s being thrown on parents and thrown on kids”/D.F. Oliveria, Huckleberries, SR. Rest of column here.
Other SR weekend columns:
- The Slice: She'll take PF&J but hold J/Paul Turner
- Hart lawyer says state law trumps feds' lawsuit/Betsy Russell
- Smart Bombs: Marriage isn't working out/Gary Crooks
- Mark Elvis' 77th with rockin' show, King-size sandwich/Doug Clark
- Outdoors: Guide makes case for electronic decoys/Rich Landers
Question: Who would win a cage match featuring Post Falls instructor Ann Rosenbaum and Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna?
This week's story, "Teachers Resist High-Tech Push in Idaho Schools," featured a Post Falls dateline and quoted three teachers: Ann Rosenbaum of Post Falls High School, Doug StanWeins of Boise High and Stefani Cook at Rigby High. Idaho Senate Finance Committee Chairman Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, also weighed in, telling the Times the legislature was “dazzled” by lobbyists for high-tech companies who gave to Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's 2010 re-election campaign. "It’s almost as if it was written by the top technology providers in the nation," Cameron told the Times. "And you’d think students would be excited about getting a mobile device, but they’re saying: not at the expense of teachers." In letters to the Times published Thursday, three readers echo those sentiments and critique the role of technology/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here. (Betsy Russell SR file photo: Tom Luna)
In the New York Times Tuesday, reporter Matt Richtel spotlights the rear-guard action of Idaho teachers against Superintendent Tom Luna's push for online classes. Richtel begins his support by focusing on Post Falls teacher Ann Rosenbaum of Post Falls: "Ann Rosenbaum, a former military police officer in the Marines, does not shrink from a fight, having even survived a close encounter with a car bomb in Iraq. Her latest conflict is quite different: she is now a high school teacher, and she and many of her peers in Idaho are resisting a statewide plan that dictates how computers should be used in classrooms." You can read the rest here.
Question: What do you make of the ongoing reluctance of Idaho teachers to march lock-step with Luna, Gov. Butch Otter, and the Idaho Legislature in embracing online education?
I stumbled across a great infographic from The New York Times that breaks down the cost of two home-cooked meals, relative to McDonald's. It's not too shocking the homemade stuff is healthier but the graphic shows, it's also cheaper. Way cheaper.
Columnist Gail Collins links the historic collapse of the Boston Red Sox with the withering of challengers to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the GOP presidential nomination, most recently Texas Gov. Rick Perry. In a column titled, "The Curse of the Mitt," Gail Collins writes, "Maybe Mitt made a pact with the Baseball Gods and traded the pennant for his nomination." Collins suggests that Romney's Faustian bargain could explain his remaining above the fray while opponents like Perry, Michele Bachman and Newt Gingrich self-destruct. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is the latest potential rival to Romney's front-runner status and is apparently revisiting his Shermanesque statement that he will not enter the race. Could Otter step in if Christie disintegrates? "The Republicans are running out of governors to put up against Romney. This week the cry has been for Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey to get into the race, although I am personally rooting for Gov. Butch Otter of Idaho because of his strong record of fiscal conservatism and the fact that I really enjoy writing 'Butch Otter' over and over and over"/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: Can you picture Butch Otter at the head of our nuclear arsenal?
Not sure how often this happens, but over the weekend, a guest column by a Washington State University professor was featured in the New York Times.
Matthew Sutton, an associate professor of history at WSU, writes about the prospect that the apocalyptic beliefs of some fundamentalist Christians might help knock Barack Obama out of the White House and elect the GOP nominee.
It's called "Why the Anti-Christ Matters in Politics."
It's an interesting premise, whether you ultimately believe it or not.
The New York Times last weekend posted a map showing which parts of the country are overall at higher or lower risk of disasters, and the Northwest is much the lowest. The safest metro area in the country, it turns out, is Corvallis. And of the eight safest metro areas in the country, seven are in either Washington or Oregon (Corvallis, Mt. Vernon, Bellingham, Wenatchee, Spokane, Salem and Seattle). The lone holdout was Grand Junction, Colorado/Randy Stapilus, Ridenbaugh Press. More here.
- Where to avoid natural disaster/New York Times
- Boise, Idaho: One of the least risky places to live/KBOI
Question: Will people move to the Northwest because it is a safe haven from most natural disaster?
The Environmental Protection Agency has become, for some of libertarian or Tea Party convictions, something of an embodiment of government run amok. Environmentalists see the agency, at its best, as the defender of people’s health and the environment’s welfare. It is instructive to see what happens when these two worldviews are superimposed on the construction of one single-family home that is either in (from the E.P.A’s point of view) or near (from the property owners’ perspective) wetlands in the woods of the Idaho panhandle/Felicity Barringer, New York Times Green Blog. More here.
Question: How do you view the Environmental Protection Agency?
State schools Supt. Tom Luna now says it was a “misquote” when the New York Times quoted him this week saying that he'll ask the state Board of Education to require four online classes for graduation, though he then repeated that. “I was very comfortable with four,” he said. “That will be the starting number. This decision is going to be made after a lot of research and a lot of discussion through the work of the state board. I am confident that we will have some number. And we have many states that are beginning to adopt graduation requirements when it comes to online credits. … I think four is a reasonable number”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
“I have no doubt we’ll get a robust rule through them,” (Luna told the New York Times). Four online courses is “going to be the starting number.” Full New York Times story here.
Question: I can't figure out why Luna would bother to claim he was misquoted — especially when the Times reporter told Betsy Russell that Luna said exactly what was printed — when Luna then repeats the same thing. Can anyone help me decipher this?
Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna couldn't get lawmakers to agree to require online courses in high school, but he told the New York Times the State Board of Education will back a mandate. In January, Luna proposed mandating that eight of 46 required high school courses be taken online. In the face of opposition from lawmakers, he scaled that back to six, then four. But lawmakers removed the provision in Senate Bill 1184, deferring the decision to the unelected State Board of Education. In a story published in the Times on Wednesday, Luna said he will propose a rule this summer and the board will back him/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: Do you have the impression that Superintendent Tom Luna wants public school in Idaho to become all virtual academy?
William Yardley of the New York Times reports today on the fruitless effort by the FBI to find the individual who planted the sophisticated bomb along the Martin Luther King parade route a month ago in Spokane: "Nearly a month after a cleanup crew found the live bomb along the planned route of a large downtown march honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the F.B.I. is investigating the incident as an act of domestic terrorism. And Spokane has cycled from shock to relief to reassessment: have the white supremacists who once struck such fear here in the inland Northwest returned at a new level of dangerousness and sophistication? “We don’t have that kind of intelligence level to make that kind of explosive,” said Shaun Winkler, a Pennsylvania native who recently returned to the region to start a landscaping company and a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan." More here. (SR file photo: A rally in Spokane, Wash., on Jan. 17 before a march to honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Most people were unaware of a bomb found along the route until later in the day.)
Question: Izzit just me, or does the New York Times appear to have a propensity for tying all things Inland Northwest to the Aryan Nations and related racist groups? Is that fair?
Think you can cut the federal deficit better than those bozos in Congress? Here’s your chance to do it…at least on paper.
The New York Times has a new budget game with a series of options for various cuts. You might notice that some of the most popular solutions, such as eliminating earmarks or instituting medical malpractice reform, don’t get you very far, but reductions to entitlements like Social Security and Medicare do.
In the New York Times, reporter Tom Zeller Jr. spotlights the growing controversy re: the possibility that ConocoPhillips and other oil companies will transport ha-huge loads of oil refinery equipment over rural Highway 12. Zeller’s feature story includes this paragraph: “But to Mr. Laughy’s dismay, international oil companies see this meandering, backcountry route as a road to riches. They are angling to use U.S. 12 to ship gargantuan loads of equipment from Vancouver, Wash., to Montana and the tar sands of Alberta in Canada. The companies say the route would save time and money and provide a vital economic boost to Montana and Idaho. The problem, said Mr. Laughy, is that the proposed loads are so large — and would travel so slowly — that they would literally block the highway as they rolled through.” More here.
- New Perce Tribe: We weren’t consulted/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise
- ISP escorts for Exxon Mobile mega-loads were OK’d in 2009/Betsy Russell, EOB
Question: Do you think Gov. Butch Otter and other Idaho officials will back off on this proposal? Or will they try to push it through despite considerable opposition?
The New York Times took notice of Idaho’s governor’s race on its political blog today, referencing a Wall Street Journal story over the weekend headlined, “In Idaho, GOP Incumbent Sees Wide Lead Erode.” That story, datelined Idaho Falls, where the WSJ reporter caught the first debate between Gov. Butch Otter and Democratic challenger Keith Allred, reported, “Thanks in part to anti-incumbent sentiment, Democratic challenger Keith Allred has been steadily chipping away at Mr. Otter’s wide lead in the polls. … While few pundits expect Mr. Otter to lose, they say his opponent is proving surprisingly strong in a state that last elected a Democratic governor 20 years ago”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
- Ted Haggard is in the pulpit again/Dennis Mansfield
- Cooking class/Fort Boise
- Rehabilitation of Larry Craig thru right-wing noise machine/43rd State Blues
- Murray-Rossi: Closer to even/Randy Stapilus, Ridenbaugh Press
- Climate change may for supplemental feeding of bears/Rocky Barker, Statesman
- Debating debates: A short history and a few suggestions/Marc Johnson, TJR
Question: What odds do you think Las Vegas would give re: Demo Keith Allred knocking off incumbent Gov. Butch Otter?
At least a handful of Democrats in the 40 districts are no longer considered to be as vulnerable as Republicans had hoped, largely because their preferred candidates were defeated by more conservative candidates in primaries. Representatives Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania, Walt Minnick of Idaho and Zack Space of Ohio are among the Democrats no longer seen by Republicans as easy targets/Jeff Zeleny, New York Times. More here.
Question: Will the conservatives help Democrats hold Congress by succeeding in nominating right-wing Republican candidates who don’t appeal to the general population?