Add to the demographic debacle the Republican party is facing over the next ten years the urbanization debacle the Repugs are also facing. The Seattle Times reported today that U.S. Census Bureau released yesterday population estimates showing King County (i.e., Seattle metropolitan area) saw remarkable population growth (37,000 net) for the year ending July 1, 2013, ranking it among the top four large counties in the nation for both the rate at which it added new residents and for the overall increase in population.
At the same time, the census data showed 11 of Washington state's counties suffered population declines -- all rural counties. According to the Seattle Times, "Several conditions make an area vulnerable to natural decrease, including an aging population, a low birth rate and a poor economy, which makes it difficult to retain or attract younger people."
Remember, Seattle just elected a gay mayor and a socialist (Kshama Sawant) to the City Council. Seattle is really, really blue. The rural counties in Washington are really, really red.
Bob Lutz, former head of the team at General Motors that developed the Chevy Volt, is now pursuing electrification of trucks. In an interview just published in the Seattle Times, he explains why he thinks the big advance in electric vehicles in the next few years will be in larger trucks. It's economics, stupid. Lutz is on the board at VIA Motors, which will soon start production of extended-range electric trucks, cargo vans and passenger vans using power trains similar to the Chevy Volt. Lutz explained, regarding the somewhat disappointing sales of Volts, "We started at the wrong end. The whole automotive industry made the intellectual mistake of thinking EVs were all about maximum range, so we all started with small vehicles that are basically very economical anyway. Yes, you do save fuel. You can use a smaller battery, but it makes less sense to take a 40 mpg vehicle and make it electric than it does to take a full-size pickup or SUV, which in town realistically gets 11 to 12 mpg. If you take that to 100 mpg, now you’re really saving money and saving a scarce natural resource and reducing CO2 emissions drastically."
More below the squiggle.
Kshama Sawant ran for election to Seattle's City Counsel as a SOCIALIST - and today's updated count of votes puts her ahead of a 16-year Democratic incumbent! This is a real shock to the system. Sawant says the surge of late arriving mail in votes now getting counted are coming from poorer people and young voters, and that her taking the lead "is confirming our analysis that there is a deep hunger among people not just in Seattle but everywhere in the United States for a deep political change.” About 90 percent of all votes have now been counted, and the trend in counting since election day has favored Sawant 54 to 46, so it certainly looks like Sawant is going to be a new member of Seattle's City Council.
Seattle voters in the same election also overwhelmingly passed an initiative to change voting for city council from all at-large to all by district except for 2 members who can still run at-large. This change greatly reduces the entry cost and need to raise funds to get a real shot at winning a city counsel seat. This change comes after several previous failed tries to change the at-large voting to district-by-district voting.
Washington state has a state-run health benefit exchange. The Seattle Times reported today that in the exchange's first week of operation, 9,452 people have signed up for insurance for themselves or their families. In addition, 10,000 applications for insurance have been completed and pending. The exchange website has had 165,332 unique visitors. More than 39,000 accounts were also set up (uncompleted applications). So, almost 20,000 Washington citizens/families will have insurance coverage starting January 1 that they did not have before. This is after ONE WEEK of operation!
State officials estimate that about 1 million Washington residents do not currently have health insurance (i out of every 7 residents), and they are expecting to enroll 130,000 people in 2013-2014, and another 325,000 people will be eligible to sign up for FREE INSURANCE through expanded Medicaid.
That is real progress on getting adequate, affordable health care to the people previously at risk of health calamities (financial calamities). This is what Republicans are against? Thank goodness they cannot stop its "onslaught."
This GUNFAIL is as heartbreaking as all others, but it is made worse by the stupidity of it. The Seattle Times reported today that Justin Small, 22, a student at Western Washington University died yesterday after accidentally shooting himself in the head while playing with a semi-automatic handgun he thought was unloaded. The gun had been locked in a safe, Justin and his roommates were drinking and one of the roommates found the key to the safe. The surviving roommates told police they were taking pictures with a different weapon while Justin was playing with the handgun. One roommate said he warned Justin several times to check if the gun was loaded. The news story is at:
The Daily Beast is running an amazing memoir by Heidi Yewman about her "gun experiment" -- after listening to the NRA's Wayne LaPierre say, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," Heidi purchased a gun in order to find out "what it felt like to be that 'good guy' by carrying a gun everywhere I went for a month, doing the absolute minimum that's legally required." In Heidi's state, that meant no requirement of one iota of training in the use of a gun before purchasing one. Her account of her actions and thoughts, and her decidedly unpleasant personality change during that month of "carrying" is so insightful and disturbing.
Here's the link:
The World Meteorological Organization just released a report at the U.N. climate conference in Doha with the staggering fact that the areas of arctic sea ice that melted this year was bigger than the area of the whole United States! The U.N. weather agency characterized this decline as showing that climate change is happening "before our eyes."
Link to Sacramento Bee news story on the WMO report:
The L.A. Times (and Daily Beast) reported today that the Japanese government announced "a dramatic turn in its energy policy Friday," vowing to free Japan from all nuclear-power reliance by the 2030s. The energy plan the government set forward phases out nuclear power plants and calls for investing close to $500 billion over the next twenty years to expand renewable sources like wind and solar power. This could be a real tipping point for the wide development of solar and wind power, when a major industrial nations finds it to be feasible to change to near-complete reliance on renewables!
My wife has been increasingly shooting steam from her ears as she has listened to the Republican Presidential candidates and their surrogates (an appropriately ironic term in the midst of the contraception wars) rant about Obama's "attack on religion" and how their rants are not about putting women in their place. Ha. My wife posted the following on her blog yesterday, and I thought I should share it on Daily Kos.
The L.A. Times reports today that its L.A. Times/USC Poll shows Jerry Brown's lead in the California governor's race against Meg Whitman has DOUBLED IN A MONTH TO 52% TO 39% among likely voters. The Times attributes the change in part to Meg Whitman's handling of her "housekeeper scandal" (yes, the billionairess and her husband employed an undocumented Hispanic housekeeper for 9 years - more on this "scandal" below). The change is also attributable to Whitman's record-breaking spending ($141 million of her own money and climbing). In the irony of ironies, her over-the-top spending is costing her support among women, Latinos and independents. Additional good news, Barbara Boxer maintains an 8-point lead over Carly Fiorina in the California Senate race (51% to 43%). Fiorina is generating backlash for self-funding her campaign as well. As my stepdaughter says, who just voted by absentee ballot, she can't stand Whitman because Meg thinks "she can buy the election." Maybe for the American voters, in California at least, though money talks, it doesn't persuade.
More below on the new and welcome poll.
Remember last winter when blizzards hit Washington D.C. and the East Coast? Climate change deniers had a field day asking, "What global warming?" Now, in the midst of a 100 year heat wave on the East Coast, Stanford University researchers have published a new study concluding that such heat waves in both the Eastern and the Western U.S. will be frighteningly commonplace in future decades -- as much as four to five times more prevalent than in the past.
If you are a California resident, you can now have medical marijuana delivered directly to your door, by prescription-drug courier services, and more cheaply than by purchasing your medicine at a medical marijuana dispensary. According to the Sacramento Bee, "Medical Pot Business Goes Mobile."
Among the ironies of this development is that this is a response by dispensary owners to the recent restrictions being implemented in Los Angeles and in some other California cities and counties on marijuana dispensaries, because no local governments have set about dealing with direct delivery, and they probably can't. This March, a marijuana direct delivery activist was acquitted in San Diego where the defense was the defendant acted legally under the state's medical marijuana law.