Hella Bus Blog
Sunday morning I woke up to a call from my mother who immediately began to excitedly tell me every detail of the quarter final game in the women’s soccer World Cup between two of the favored teams and serial rivals, the United States and Brazil. Luckily for me, ESPN re-aired the game later that night and as an avid soccer spectator and longtime player, this was one of the most amazing games I have ever seen. As many of the players and commentators suggested, it felt like a match at the end of an inspirational sports movie. It was a close game that included a red card to the U.S., numerous fouls, a 30-minute overtime in which the U.S. scored a goal in the last two minutes, and a tense shoot out which resulted in the U.S. continuing on to the semi-final against France. Check out U.S. forward Abby Wambach’s amazing goal in the 122nd minute.
While this game gained reasonable media coverage for the women’s World Cup there has been very little coverage or discussion of the women’s tournament especially when thinking back to and comparing how much publicity the men’s World Cup received two years ago. These women are amazing athletes who deserve both support and media coverage, so watch their next game against France on Sunday at 9 AM!
Here at the Bus, we're big fans of Planned Parenthood (video evidence here). Planned Parenthood is a great organization that ensures that as many people as possible—especially working women—have access to family planning, crisis counseling, birth control, and other reproductive health services. That's why we were really worried when federal funding for Planned Parenthood - 1/3 of the organization's budget - was in serious jeopardy during the seemingly endless budget deal this spring.
I'm in favor of maintaining Planned Parenthood's funding mostly because it is a social justice organization that does incredible things for lots of folks affordably. Many people rely on Planned Parenthood for access to prenatal care, birth control, and a bunch of other really important things.
Those programs were seriously at risk when the House voted to eliminate Planned Parenthood's funding in March. Much of the reasoning behind defunding PP was based around concerns over federal funding of abortion. This, however, ignored the fact that no federal money can be used to pay for an abortion procedure—a condition that Planned Parenthood observes scrupulously.
For many people, Planned Parenthood is one of the only places where you can get scientific information about all kinds of reproductive health and family planning issues. In fact, family planning is Planned Parenthood's main focus: only about 3% of Planned Parenthood's resources go towards abortions. The other 97% of services that Planned Parenthood provides are education and healthcare for folks who need it.
Despite Planned Parenthood's broad mission and studious compliance with funding rules, there are a lot of folks who associate Planned Parenthood with abortions, and abortions only. That segment of the Republican-controlled House made defunding Planned Parenthood one of their priorities for the Congressional session. What's remarkable, though, is that they managed to make their legislative priority one of the more prominent issues of a Congressional session: the anti-Planned Parenthood crowd was effective enough to make the attacks on Planned Parenthood come from the entire Republican party, not just the one wing.
The current House Republican caucus has many deeply conservative first-term representatives who don't have much regard for longtime consensus. This means many programs that have long received broad-based support now face intense challenges.
Federal funding for Planned Parenthood is safe for now—especially in Washington, where Planned Parenthood has effective advocates and highly-placed champions—but this dust-up is indicative of the current national political scene. With the deficit in mind, every major program that receives public funding is coming under increased scrutiny on the state and federal level.
In 2009, the Bus threw a little thing called Candidate Survivor, a Seattle City Council forum that just so happened to be the largest in the history of Washington State.
Well it's 2011, and HOLY CRAP. It's back. And it's better than ever.
Candidate Survivor takes the best parts of a city council candidate forum (smarts, people power, a smorgasbord of candidates) and adds that zesty brand of Bus flavor complete with a talent show, dance parties, and the outside chance of a candidate human pyramid.
It's young people (you + your friends!), in a club (Neumos!), wielding Real Ultimate Power. Yes, you read that right - that means you'll be voting, via the magic of text messaging (technology!) to decide which candidate will be the survivor in each race.
Yes it's free, yes it's all ages, and yes you're going to be there.
Candidate Survivor is your best opportunity to have Seattle City Council candidates meet you on your turf and speak to the issues you care about. Behold the facts below and RSVP today:
Wednesday July 27th
Doors at 7, program begins at 8pm
Neumos (925 E. Pike St.)
Free, all ages (bar with ID)
-Courtesy of 2011 summer fellow Leah "Neko Case is a Fox" Menzer
Class is in session.* Today we’re going to learn why we shouldn’t judge books by their covers/people by their exteriors/plays by their posters.
When you first see this poster you might think: “oh hey, is this a brother/sister-buddy-steamtrunk comedy from the people who brought us Marmaduke?” You might also read the title and think “oh gee willikers, this is really long and written in a 'fun' font and has at least one ethnic-ish name in it. I wonder if the play will deal with Muslim-American relations in a light-hearted yet impactful way!” (Now you might actually be thinking, "I’ve never actually thought about any poster that much and your poster obsession is making me uncomfortable.”)
Put Aside These Thoughts.**
Pilgrims Sheri and Musa in the New World is showing at the ACT Theatre downtown. Despite its preposterous*** problems, this is a play you want to see. I admit I would have never gone if The Stranger had not compared it to Annie Hall. It has awkward romantic entanglements, “adult language,” and sharpity-sharp dialogue. You will learn new snappy insults and you will find new sappy parts of your heart. You will even learn about Muslim-American relations, if by relations you mean relations. It is a world-premiere play, which is basically the same thing as seeing a hip band before your friends know about them. It will cost $5 if you are a teen, and $15 if you are a student. This is cheaper than seeing Cars 2 in 3-D again.
If this is not enough for you, I leave you with the immortal words of some lady I eavesdropped outside the theatre… “I am certain I saw some breasts.”
-courtesy of summer fellow Paris "Are You Awesome?" Randall
Hope your weekend rocked! Ours sure did. The Bus hit Seattle hard, getting young people all over the city to register and pledge to vote. Here’s a little time capsule of our hard work.
Friday: Wild Wild West
The West Seattle Summer Fest is a huge 3-day street fair thrown every summer in the Junction, where merchants sell amazing food, local stores go all out, bands rock it out, and where you might just run into a friend or two. We saw the community come together as we hit California Ave with conviction, getting 60 PTV’s (pledges to vote if you ain’t with the times), and registering 23 new voters. It’s also worth mentioning that the view from West Seattle heading north on the Viaduct is breathtaking, making way for great conversations with strangers.
Saturday: They Want Your Booty
Saturday we headed back to West Seattle, this time to the gorgeous Alki Beach. The event was the Pirate’s Landing, where the Seafair Pirates come from oceans far away to bring excitement, toys, and maybe even a little scurvy (aarrrgh) to everyone gathered at this awesome event. With people of all ages surrounding us and a plethora of little buccaneers to give stickers away to, we collected 34 PTVs and registered 6 new voters at the beach. Hot sun, hot bodies, and a cool crowd made this a splendid adventure. The one and only Pirate Vote Bot made a special appearance as well.
Elsewhere in the International District (Chinatown), the rest of us were gathered at Dragon Fest. This is an event where traditional dance, art, music, food and love come to the forefront for a great display of cultural practice. The young and old alike joined us here in our mission to encourage the power of voting. We collected 30 additional pledges and got 10 more Washingtonians registered to vote! A flash mob appeared (shufflin’), and thus, the day was done.
Sunday: “Then Why Don’t I Just Roll?”
It was a very lovely Sunday at Seattle Center. Our first target was the Urban Craft Uprising at the Exhibition Hall, where all types of crazy arts, crafts, and other forms of expression were presented and sold. It was shocking to see so many 18-29 year olds there, and even more shocking that so many were down to pledge and register! With VoteBot by our side, we hit the Uprising like it owed us money. Lots of old friends passed through, lots of new friends were made, and we were able to collect a Busload of pledges and regs.
But wait, there’s more! The Rat City Rollergirls Championship Bout was under way at the Key Arena! With such a long line anticipating the girl on girl carnage, we figured, “Why not canvas?” So canvas we did, eventually leaving Seattle Center with 66 pledges and 8 new registered voters.
The Ballard Seafood Fest was also on and popping that Sunday. It was a gathering full of fish, seafood, elderly folks, youngsters, music, and that unforgettable ocean aroma. Combined with a return trip to Dragon Fest, another 33 pledges + 8 registrations came in on the side. Go Bus!
Total: 232 Pledges to Vote + 58 NEW Registered Voters for the weekend. Shazam!
In closing, while the weekend left us thirsty, sun burnt, and a little seasick, we were blown away by how many people support the Bus. The dryness of our throats was overshadowed by the fullness our souls, brimming with accomplishment and a sense of victory. It was a great weekend for all of us, and for those who got to take Vote Bot home (in all of its sexiness), well, they got a little something extra. Fin.
Stella Liebeck’s infamous lawsuit against McDonalds Corporation has become a punch line of sorts. In the 19 years since a civil jury awarded the woman more than $2.7 million in damages, it has been used as evidence of a system run amok with those who seek “jackpot justice”.
Everyone knows the tale: a woman driving a car while drinking a McDonald’s coffee managed to spill it, and sued McDonalds for making the beverage too hot.
But that’s not quite the whole story, claims a new documentary film. Did you know that the woman “driving” the car was not, in fact, driving? (She was 79 years old, sitting in a stationary car). Or that she received third-degree (full thickness burns) over 8% of her body? Or that McDonalds had a policy of running their coffee machines 10 degrees hotter than the area average?
“Hot Coffee”, currently showing on HBO, paints a picture of a concerted effort to discredit the last even playing field the American consumer has in government: the civil justice system. It debunks the myths surrounding the Liebeck case and showcases how corporate influences are distorting the truth to escape retribution.
The film’s overall target: recent corporate-sponsored efforts to advocate for “tort reform”. In brief, advocates of tort reform believe that civil suits should have caps on monetary awards and certain other restrictions. They argue that by reducing the incentive to file frivolous claims, the government would allow business interests to operate smoothly without fear of undeserved punishment. Yet, as “Hot Coffee” attempts to show, these policies do as much harm as they do good.
One of the most damning examples used in “Hot Coffee” is that of Caps on Damages – where the maximum reward a plaintiff can ever receive is set at a concrete amount. Yes, it is true that less people will file groundless lawsuits if the payoff is lower, but such a policy hurts those who have legitimate claims even more. Take the film’s example of a Nebraska woman whose negligent obstetrician caused her son to develop severe brain damage. After a jury determined that the child would need $5.6 million to support him in his life, a state law capping damages reduced the award to under $1.7 million.
Some critics (here I am using Forbes as an example) have challenged the film, claiming that it uses narrow examples and calling it “propaganda”. Though I must admit that a few of the challenges have merit, in many cases Forbes’ complaints are narrower and more misleading than the film ever is.
For example, Forbes claims that the use of the Nebraska woman is misleading, because Nebraska is one of only a few states that caps total damages. (Many other states have caps on non-economic, or punitive damages). In this case, it is necessary to see the wider context of the film and the issue as a whole. Yes, it is true that Nebraska is part of a small club (which also includes Colorado, Louisiana, and Virginia), but the film uses the example as a cautionary tale; approximately 19 million people are currently affected by these laws. Even if caps on total damages don’t apply to the nation as a whole, it’s important to understand how damaging they can be.
“Hot Coffee” also chronicles the case of Ms. Jamie Leigh Jones, a former employee of Halliburton subsidiary KBR. After her alleged rape while she was stationed in Iraq, Jones sought legal action against KBR for certain negligent practices. However, a clause in her contract prevented her from gaining access to a trial by jury; instead, she would have to submit to mandatory arbitration, a process in which the ultimate decision rests in a body chosen by the defendant.
The only counter Forbes can produce against Jones is that arbitration is usually used in financial rather than criminal issues. Though this – again - is technically true, it is misleading. The fact is that mandatory arbitration is unfair for plaintiffs regardless of the type of claim. Much like judges in the nineteenth century who were paid $10 for returning a fugitive slave to their owner and only $5 for freeing them, arbitrators have a financial incentive to rule in favor of the defendant companies who hired them -they want repeat business.
Forbes also attacks the case of Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz, who won a judicial election despite a huge amount of pro-tort-reform money going to support his opponent, and then faced election fraud charges which “Hot Coffee” claims were politically motivated. Balking at the example, Forbes says that prosecutorial bias is impossible because “the case was brought by a federal prosecutor”. An article from Harper’s, however, says that “the Diaz case reflects another astonishing example of highly partisan justice–timed, presented and calculated to boost the electoral prospects of Haley Barbour.”
Some of Forbes’ claims are more reasonable; the film never explains whether McDonalds reducing their coffee temperature would have prevented Ms. Liebeck’s burns, and the reference to the 700 cases of coffee-temperature complaints McDonalds received over 10 years becomes less damning when you realize that the company sold over 10 billion cups of coffee during that period.
“Hot Coffee” is an intriguing, if a bit biased, exploration of the issue. Though it uses some admittedly stilted examples, the film makes some excellent points about the nature of our political system, and opens up a necessary debate. Something can be learned from its faults as well; it’s just as important to critically examine the beliefs we hold as it is to examine those with which we disagree.
Last week, King County Metro announced the bus routes that are on the cutting block, or will face reduced service, due to a projected $60 million shortfall. Cuts include eliminating high ridership routes like the 26, 28, and 46, as well as reducing service to dozens of other popular routes. The cuts may go into effect as early as February 2012, and will have a drastic effect on the effectiveness of the entire Metro system. Our weekly Dansportation series explored potential solutions here.
This Tuesday (tomorrow) at 6:00, you have the opportunity to let the King County Council know how the proposed cuts will effect you. The hearing will take place at the King County Council Chambers (516 Third Avenue, 10th Floor). If you can't make the hearing, you can still give the Council a piece of your mind on their website.
King Count Metro Town Hall
Tuesday, July 12th
516 3rd Ave, 10th floor
When I returned to Seattle for the summer, driving around town I began to notice a number of marijuana dispensaries that had popped up around the city. Rumors were circulating about these dispensaries: that they were legal, that they were illegal, that they were operating partially “underground”, that the cops knew about them but didn’t bust them, etc...
Turns out, people are largely unsure and confused about the legality of these dispensaries for a good reason. The legality of these dispensaries is in fact confusing and unclear to all parties involved—cops, dispensary owners and lawmakers alike.
Washington state’s passed a medical marijuana law in 1999 that permits the use of medical marijuana however, it does not specifically allow or ban marijuana dispensaries. This has left dispensaries in a strange legal gray area in which lawmakers, cops and dispensary owners must try to interpret the vagueness of the law. Essentially, I, like many others, am right back where I started, pretty confused about the whole thing. However, the general confusion makes it clear that this is something that legislators need to clear up. In an attempt to do so, legislators passed bill SB 5073 in April which aimed to protect and regulate dispensaries and growers and also allow for them to be taxed which, according the Seattle Times, could produce “an estimated $920,000 in state and local revenues in 2012, and $6 million by 2017”. However, Governor Gregoire vetoed large portions of the bill, including the lines directly referring to dispensaries, firmly implanting them back in a legal vacuum. Recent raids in Spokane underline the consequences of leaving out formal guidelines for dispensaries. The only clear thing here? It's time we confronted the question of dispensaries directly.
By 2011 Summer Fellow Amber Rose Jimenez
Shannon Perry is one of Seattle’s most illustrative artists, reflected both in her work and her personal appearance—she’s got hella style. Shannon, a self-described “hippy punk,” took a moment to chat with Hella Bus about art, culture, and politics.
HB: How does art affect your life?
HB: Which local spaces do you haunt and which NW bands are you currently loving?
SP: I usually go to the Funhouse and Cairo for live music, Rancho Bravo (tasty Mexican food), and Cal Anderson Park. I love the Flexions, Christmas, and the Fleet Foxes.
HB: Why should young people vote?
SP: Voting can be a great thing. It can be freaky, but instead of feeling powerless, you can get informed and learn more about the issues. What’s the purpose of democracy if you don’t contribute?
Courtesy of 2011 Summer Fellow Omar "King of Illustrator" Mozo
Votebot and her trusty entourage of Summer Fellows are hitting the streets yet again this weekend, chatting with young voters like you who can't wait to register and pledge to vote. We're making voting sexier than ever at a whopping SEVEN different events this weekend all over the city. Really, it's almost impossible to avoid us.
So if you're planning on attending West Seattle Summer Fest, the University District Farmer's Market, the Seafair Pirate's Landing, the International District's Dragon-Fest, Urban Craft Uprising at Seattle Center, Ballard Seafood Fest, or just planning on going outside your house, keep your eyes peeled for that beautiful glint of silver cardboard that lets you know - the Votebot approacheth. And remember the eternal words:
It looks at opportunity, privilege, and structural inequality in our school systems and the alarming link to incarceration of young folks. Their central questions include: what is the opportunity gap? What is the school to prison pipeline? What causes these phenomena?
Smart, timely, and important information and insight. Strap on your earphones and give it a listen!
It's time to start the countdown folks. One of the summers hottest events, Capitol Hill Block Party, is only two weeks away. That's just 14 days until you can rock out to the likes of TV On The Radio, Ghostland Observatory, and Explosions In Sky (can you rock out to Explosions In The Sky?). This year, CHBP has added an unprecedented third day to the festivities and is coming at you with four stages. The lineup is bigger and better than ever before and the Bus will be out in the sun registering voters, and empowering youth as always.
Over the coming two weeks, I will be giving you the lowdown on some of the lesser known Block Party acts (maybe an interview or two thrown in there). Today we have electronic artist Baths, known as Will Wiesenfeld to some, of Los Angeles. Wisenfield burst onto the scene last year with his impeccable debut album Cerulean, and has graced stages across the United States including the venerable Low End Theory weekly show in LA. Similar to artists like Toro Y Moi and Washed Out (featured in this weeks Gabe's Picks), Baths has been pegged into a number of genres in the electronic realm, but his eclectic sound really transcends any genre. More so than the aforementioned artists, Baths uses an extremely unique blend of unorthodox samples (scissor snaps and rustling blankets) to his chilled out, hip hop influenced sound. While I find it highly questionable to compare any beatsmith to the great J Dilla, The Guardian's Paul Lester stated that the Baths sound reminded him of "J Dilla playing around with the Pavement and Prince catalogues", a fairly apt description. Baths will be playing at the Vera Stage at 10:45 on Saturday night, and while he's up against heavy competition with TV On The Radio (one of my favorite live shows) playing in the same times slot, I would highly recommend checking out the young Angeleno.