Hella Bus Blog
Your place for all things Buslandia!
The News of the World hacking scandal just went from political drama to surrealist comedy, as media mogul owner Rupert Murdoch was attacked by an assailant wielding...a shaving cream pie. Looking more like Nixon on Laugh In than in All The Presidents Men, Murdoch was pied while testifying before Parliament.
The assailant in question is Jonnie Marbles, a British comedian with a liberal tilt. Minutes before doing the deed, Marbles announced his intentions via twitter:
Police quickly removed Marbles from the courtroom, but not before he received a swift, decisive slap from Murdoch’s wife Wendi Deng (Deng is in pink, Marbles is on the far left):
It’s not really much more than a distraction from the real News of the World scandal which continues to spiral and consume various members of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire and the British government. Still the half-joking outlandish conspiracy theories continue; one YouTube commenter named MyHeadsAllright postulates that “Murdoch planted [Marbles] in hope that he could change the headline in tomorrow's paper”.
Who is incendiary enough in Washington State politics to unite leaders of big Washington businesses, environmentalists, transit geeks, and give one Stranger writer apoplexy?
Tim Eyman. And his latest opus, I-1125.
You may have heard of I-1125. Never one for hyperbole, Goldy (who named his blog after Tim Eyman long before he became a Stranger writer) compares I-1125's effects to bombing the SR 520 bridge, or flying an airplane into a light rail train. And the Seattle Times writes about I-1125's effects on the several billion dollar, multi-state plan to replace the I-5 bridge over the Columbia. Suffice it to say that I-1125 would have a pretty powerful effect on transportation.
You count on Hella Bus to cut through the hype for you, though. So, what's I-1125 about? In a nutshell, I-1125 would prohibit 1) adjusting road tolling rates based on road usage or time of day (otherwise known as "congestion pricing"), 2) spending money raised through tolling on anything other than the capital costs of the thoroughfare being tolled, and 3) using highway lanes funded through the gas tax for a "non-highway" purpose (i.e. light rail). I-1125 would also require the State Legislature to set tolls directly rather than empowering the people who know how to do that to do it for them.
Goldy and various others are so up in arms about this because our state's transportation infrastructure is falling apart and badly needs funding. Take the SR 520 bridge: In 1997, WSDOT predicted that the bridge had 20 more years of use in it, which brings us all the way to...2017. And, fun fact, SR 520 now rides about a foot lower in the water than it did when it was first constructed.
The State plans to pay for a SR 520 bridge replacement through tolling. But imagine if, due to I-1125, we could only toll SR 520 were legally prohibited from tolling I-90. Tolls on 520 wouldn't raise enough money because a significant number of people would take I-90 instead, and, its likely that I-90 see a huge increase in congestion. Smarter people than I (e.g. our State Treasurer) say that I-1125 would severely lessen the state's capacity to update the 520 bridge.
Prohibiting congestion pricing would also throw a wrench in the works of a lot of projects. Congestion pricing is a pretty simple concept--charge a higher price for road use when or where demand is high. Road space is a publicly-owned commodity with a limited supply, and it doesn't make a lot of sense (in this blogger's personal opinion) for we-the-people to just give it away for free. So, how does the free market regulate the use of a scarce resource? Price signals--demand goes up, price rises, and when demand goes down, price falls. Currently, there's a pilot project on SR 167 where solo drivers can pay to have the privilege of driving in the carpool lane, and the price varies based on congestion. The folks at WSDOT are calling these "HOT lanes," and I have to agree--it is pretty damn sexy. Plus, as previously mentioned, a lot of the funding for the Columbia River Crossing project will come from congestion pricing, and I-1125 would make it difficult to fund that necessary project.
Fortunately for Eyman opponents, businesses need infrastructure in order to function. According to both Goldy and The Olympian, the Washington Business Roundtable (which includes executives from local heavyweights such as Boeing, Microsoft and Starbucks) doesn't want Tim Eyman f-ing over (I use that term in its technical, descriptive sense) our transportation networks. Goldy predicts a "well-funded" campaign against I-1125, which looks to be just getting started.
Get out your popcorn and red-vines. This is going to be interesting.
Here at the Washington Bus, we're big fans of buses of all kinds, because we love ourselves in a healthy, non-narcissistic way. That love extends to the hardworking King County Metro bus. We love King County Metro here because, honestly, we probably wouldn't be here without Metro buses—literally. We wouldn't have been able to get to where we're sitting right now without a Metro bus because that's how we get around. So when we heard that Metro might have to deal with a massive reduction in service, we wanted to know how we could help.
That's why the Bus is throwing its full support behind the proposed solution, a one-time $20 increase in car tab fees for King County residents. All of the money from the tabs will go directly to Metro. That revenue will be used to prevent cuts of up to 600,000 service hours. That's a huge reduction in service: Metro estimates that four out of five Metro riders would be affected by cuts. It would mean fewer (and more crowded) buses and fewer routes for pretty much every rider.
This is a very big deal, especially because we're not talking about paying for anything new. This car tab money isn't going to pay for a sweet new superbus that can fly—this money will be used to fund the bus that you ride every day, the bus that gets you to work/school/pickup basketball/your significant other's house. If you're a Metro rider, these cuts will affect you.
The cuts are also going to affect folks who have realized recently that Metro is a great way to get around—ridership went up 5% in June and has gone up 2.5% during this year so far. With gas prices still trending upward, and our horrible traffic just as bad as it's always been, you better believe that lots more folks will ride Metro more often.
Finally, these cuts will only drive people back into their cars, making traffic congestion even worse for those of the driving persuasion.
So it's really important that the King County Council approves the car tab fee. The Council hasn't yet decided what it's going to to about the proposal. With six yea votes (a two-thirds majority), the car tab would be a go. However, some Council members are leery of voting for a tax increase without consulting the voters, and the Council might wind up with 5 yea votes. If that happens, King County voters will have to decide in November whether or not we want Metro service cuts.
This all sounds very bad, but we don't have to accept a future with no Metro and no puppies. The Washington Bus has your back. We're going to lobby as hard as we can in favor of the car tab. We encourage you to sign this petition and go to the upcoming forum with the County Council in Burien this Thursday to let them know how much Metro means to you. You might even be able to catch a ride with us (keep a look out on Hella Bus this afternoon). Buses have to stick together, right?
When celebrity advocates Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore told Piers Morgan that there are “between 100,000 and 300,000 child sex slaves in the United States today,” their numbers were probably wrong.
Village Voice Media (VVM) showed that much. In their report investigating that hundred-thousand figure- which the company published earlier this month in subsidiary publication The Seattle Weekly- VVM countered with some numbers of their own: about 827 child prostitution arrests are made per year throughout the entire country. The “100,000” actually comes from a study which lists the number of children “at risk” for child prostitution, including those who live near borders or have run away from home for more than an hour. Village Voice spent five pages and valuable front cover space attacking Kutcher and Moore for using misleading, misdirected statistics to further their own ends.
Predictably, VVM seems to be doing the same thing themselves. The evidence suggests that the media company is working to downplay the dangers of child prostitution, in part because they have a tremendous stake in the issue.
The Village Voice-owned classifieds website www.backpage.com has recently come under attack by various groups who claim the website accommodates child trafficking. Recently Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn joined the fray, saying that VVM needs to introduce “safeguards against underage trafficking”. (Backpage.com does not require photo identification and age confirmation to post an escort listing, unlike other similar websites in the Seattle area such as Craigslist and The Stranger’s Lustlab.) Since January 2010, 22 children were advertised on the Seattle section of Backpage.com.
By framing the debate as one of numbers, Village Voice will win by default. The issue is certainly more complicated than a misinformed celebrity sound bite, but it is also more important than the way the number 827 is used. As we wrap ourselves up in averages and percentages, it becomes easy to forget what those facts and figures represent. Each of those 827 children arrested for child prostitution every year is a human being who does not get to make choices about their own body. Each of the 22 children that Backpage.com helped to sell over the last 18 months needs help, and Village Voice Media instead spends its time and ink working to defend its own actions. VVM and the Seattle Weekly should own up to the mistakes they have made and work to correct them - instead of asking “what did I do?”, it’s time to ask “what can I do now?”
Starting last Friday night, the busiest, most congested freeway in America was shut down for repairs. I-405, the notorious Los Angeles freeway was closed all weekend in an event dubbed "Carmageddon" by the media, and now we are seeing the catastrophic effects of the construction project. The LA Times was on top of the action on their website, but also started up an LACarmageddon Twitter handle to keep those informed who aren't into that whole website deal. Shockingly though, by the end of the weekend, and after dozens of articles predicting certain doom for the citizens of Southern California were put in print, Los Angeles is still there, and incredible the four oh five is still running. Southern California, you survived Carmageddon for now, but who knows what the future holds for you...
Check out summer fellow extraordinaire Mikeya Harper's personal blog post on how the Washington Bus has changed her outlook on voting. Mikeya “Keyabee” is a spoken word poet, hip hop emcee, educator, youth mentor, and student at Washington State.
A brief teaser of her post:
- courtesy of summer fellow Rosalie "Best Laugh Ever" Wilmot
My love affair with a little event called the Capitol Hill Block Party began the summer I first moved to the neighborhood. It seems like only moments ago I was in the back of a bicycle rickshaw, riding south down Broadway triumphantly as the sun dipped and the pastel sky glowed upon the sweaty shoulders of my bike riding escort. The evening was upon us and all that urged us onwards was the evening performers of 2008’s best up and coming artist, Vampire Weekend. Through crowds of Pike Streets we scrambled until the jubilance of the crowd consumed us and the cacophony of sound echoed into all echos of the hill. A year later I would find myself in nearly the same locale, squirreling through a bit larger crowd to dance wildly to the Gossip and Sonic Youth, and let me tell you, I’ll never be the same.
During the beautiful day three summers ago that marked my first Block Party, I ran into an organization called the Washington Bus (some of you may have heard of it). They gave me some super rad stickers and one really simple piece of paper to fill out: a voter registration. Hundreds of bands later, and a few ballots down, I am proud to say that I am no longer just a music enthusiast festival junkie, but also a part of this democratic wheel we are all spinning in. And from here, I can’t help but feel a great wave of excitement for 2011’s festivities too begin.
Come join TV on the Radio (or Baths, it’s a tough choice), Explosions in the Sky, The Head and the Heart, Thurston Moore (for all you wishin’ for reminders of Sonic Youth), Ghostland Observatory (can you say LAZER boogie down?!), The Cave Singers, Ra Ra Riot, Best Coast, Les Savy Fav and oh so many more for a weekend of neighborly excitement.
Whether you call the hill your home, or just want to get in on a whole lot of music love it’s time to put your rage face on and head out for what’s set to be the loudest weekend in the streets this summer!
For tickets (http://capitolhillblockparty.com/tickets/).
For the lineup (http://washingtonbus.org/blog/chbp-artist-series-beat-connection).
If you haven't been keeping tabs on the outrageous phone-hacking scandals that have embroiled Rupert Murdoch's UK tabloid News of the World - and spread scandal to the Metro police and the prime minister's office, then check out this timeline on the BBC.
The latest news opens up a new chapter in this increasingly enthralling saga. One of the prominent whistle-blower former reporters for News of the World, who was the first to allege that the phone-hacking was far more extensive than the paper had admitted, was found dead this morning.
From the police: "The death is currently being treated as unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious."
Hmm. Sounds pretty damn suspicious to me.
Here's my theory: Mr. Hoare's death was part of an elaborately executed cover up job gone wrong and that one of his gorgeous former colleagues - accompanied by a churlish, but principled detective - are on the case as we speak (and in the throes of a budding romance), despite the police calling off the investigation. How do I know this? Because this is totally the kind of story that would appear IN NEWS OF THE WORLD.
This case just seems to go deeper and deeper. The richest irony being that the whole story has effectively fulfilled the public's desire for morbidly-fascinating storylines left in News of the World's absence.
Marilyn Strickland (AKA all-star mayor of Tacoma) was sighted at Tacoma Pride helping some awesome Tacomans Pledge to Vote at Pride. Heartwarming photos below!
Pledge to Vote is everywhere we look these days! More awesome events coming up on our events calendar. Check it out and come join us! And if you happen to be a celebrity, you are still welcome.
Coffee Strong is a coffeehouse/non-profit situated just 300 meters from the gates of Fort Lewis. It's location is particularly notable because it is owned and run by veterans who identify themselves as "Pro Soldier, Anti-War". The non-profit organization provides a space for both active soldiers and veterans to address and discuss the effects of war and offers numerous resources from internet access, to referrals for counseling, to post traumatic stress disorder assessment and treatment. They also put on movie nights and concerts and feature articles that address military related issues. Check out their website here.
It's not a cure - not even close to it - but new evidence shows that taking a daily regimen of antiretroviral drugs can significantly reduce rates of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. A series of simultaneously released studies, performed on heterosexual couples in which one partner was infected and one was healthy, showed between 63 and 73% effectiveness.
The regimen in question is a daily pill known as Truvada, a combination of two drugs called "Tenofovir" and "Emtricitabine". Both drugs work by blocking the virus' ability to produce an enzyme called "reverse transcriptase" which allows HIV to replicate itself in a human host.
This curly thing is a tangled polypeptide polymer. A reliable target in the fight against AIDS.
A study in Kenya and Uganda performed by the University of Washington was actually cancelled because it was deemed "unethical" to continue giving out the placebos instead of the real drugs.
However, it is important to consider that this level of efficacy is only shown when the drugs are taken every day. The regimen in the study was given to those people at extremely high risk for contracting the disease, and is not an efficient way to prevent HIV in the general population.
Still, major strides are being made. Although a 100% effective method of prevention is still quite a long way away, a vaccine tested in Thailand in 2009 showed an encouraging 30% reduction in infection rates. These recent developments have shown that feasible answers to one of the world's most gravely important problems do exist, and dedicated researchers are hard at work trying to fund them.
And if you haven't read it already, check out his story in the New York Times.
An Evening on a Boathouse, Memories for a Lifetime (and other potential titles for our upcoming soft-rock ballad)
Last night, the Bus family put on it's fancy pants and convened at a sold-out Chihuly Boathouse to celebrate good work and the good people who make it happen (you, perhaps?). Thanks so much to the generosity of Dale and Leslie, Billy O'Neill, the Boathouse staff, our awesome boards of directors, Rep. Eric Pettigrew, and, of course, the infamous 2am Posse for providing music for the night. Pics below!
2am Posse holding down the tunes.
Folks were greeted by these shining faces.
Carlos and Mikeya
The avant vote.
Baller, baller, and more baller.
Summer Fellows looking good!
Enter the Vortex.
Andy, Alma, Awesome.
There were many heartwarming moments.
Legends of their time.
A momentary glimpse into the future.
And good times were had.
What a beautiful night! Cheers to Caffe Vita, EJK Accounting, WinPower Strategies, Northwest Passage Consulting, Pacific Continental Bank for sponsoring! And, most of all, thanks to the boathouse full of rad people who came to support the Bus! We'll see y'all very soon.
Happy Bustille Day!