The Stand

Everyday heroes ● Post-Janus ● The origin of the worst song ever

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Friday, March 29, 2019

 


EVERYDAY HEROES

 

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Thousands turn out to mourn, remember slain Kittitas deputy — Friends remembered Kittitas County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Thompson as a man who loved his family, his friends and fishing. More than 3,000 people came to Central Washington University for Thompson’s memorial service Thursday, with police officers from around the state, and as far away as British Columbia, New York and Massachusetts paying their respects. More than 200 police cars participated in a law enforcement procession that made its way through Ellensburg and passed under an American flag held aloft by two Kittitas Valley Fire and Rescue ladder trucks.

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Benton County electric linemen were heroes on one long, cold night — Electric utility linemen turned into heroes during February’s heavy snow, according to the Washington State Patrol. Utility crews from the rural electric association and public utility district worked late into the night to reach stranded people on snow crawlers. They helped rescue a family of four, a husband and wife, and several hunters… Those given WSP awards were Benton REA Journeyman Linemen Cody Bradshaw, John Richards and Willie Yager; Benton REA General Manager Mike Bradshaw; and Benton PUD journeyman linemen Joe Garner and Shawn Hiebert.

► In today’s Seattle Times — With bullets flying, wounded Metro driver focused on getting passengers away from gunfire — After being hit in the chest by gunfire, Metro bus driver Eric Stark said  one of his first thoughts was for his passengers: “I’m going to get these people out of here.” Stark wheeled the bus out of the Lake City neighborhood where a gunman was going on a rampage, randomly shooting at cars on Wednesday afternoon. Stark finally stopped when he was well away from the scene. None of the passengers in his bus were injured, according to King County Metro Transit. Stark, 53, was hailed as a hero by witnesses and officials, including Mayor Jenny Durkan and County Executive Dow Constantine. He remained in Harborview Medical Center in satisfactory condition Thursday. He was “in good spirits” and accompanied by family members.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Heroes rise up amid the tragedy in Seattle’s Lake City (editorial) — Wednesday’s tragedy in Lake City was no less senseless and random, causing no less pain for those wounded and those whose loved ones were taken too soon. There is nothing about this event to celebrate, only relief that it wasn’t worse. But we can deeply admire the courage, humanity and professionalism shown by those at the scene.

 


THIS WASHINGTON

 

 

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Farmworker advocates, agriculture industry at odds on bill in Legislature — SB 5438, which would provide additional oversight of the federal guest worker program, passed the Senate on a mostly party-line vote and the legislation is now going through the House. The use of the program has proliferated in recent years as agricultural producers struggle to find enough domestic workers to fill seasonal agricultural positions. Farmworker advocates have supported the bill, stating it provides much-needed oversight to prevent workers from being exploited. The agriculture industry is firmly against the legislation.

► In today’s Peninsula Daily News — State legislation could raise school levy rates — As layoffs of about 33 employees loom over the Port Angeles School District in anticipation of a $2.6 million budget shortfall, lawmakers in Olympia are considering a bill that could provide $3 million to the district.

► In today’s Seattle Times — As Seattle school district displaces teachers, educators of color worry about relationships with students — Overall, nearly 150 full-time-equivalent school employees will have to transfer schools in response to projected declines in enrollment and budget cuts.

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Facing tough budget decisions, these jobs at Richland schools may be cut — Richland may be eying a reduction in the number of paraeducators in the school district as it looks for ways to trim costs.

 


BOEING

 

► In today’s Seattle Times — Final WTO ruling says Boeing’s Washington state tax breaks are illegal – but any change won’t come quickly — A final ruling from the WTO published Thursday in Geneva left standing its decision from 2017 that the major part of the Washington state tax breaks to Boeing are illegal subsidies. But those tax breaks, worth approximately $100 million a year to Boeing, are likely to remain unchanged several years at least, as wrangling begins between the U.S. and the European Union on how the state should comply with the latest ruling. “No urgent action is required by Washington state,” said David Postman, Gov. Jay Inslee’s chief of staff. Delivering the final word in a nearly 14-year standoff, the WTO appeal panel didn’t change the previous finding that the state’s Business & Occupation Tax breaks damaged airplane sales by European archrival Airbus.

► From Reuters — Regulators knew before crashes that 737 MAX trim control was confusing in some conditions — U.S. and European regulators knew at least two years before a Lion Air crash that the usual method for controlling the Boeing 737 MAX’s nose angle might not work in conditions similar to those in two recent disasters, a document shows.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing’s public messaging on 737 MAX crisis criticized as bureaucratic, legalistic, and slow — Experts say Boeing has made a bad story far worse by a crisis-management strategy that seemed to emphasize legal positioning and blame-shifting rather than the lives of the victims and the concerns of future passengers.

 


HEALTH CARE

 

► In today’s Seattle Times — Trump’s gambit to kill Obamacare risks lives and opportunity (by Jon Talton) — If Trump succeeds, at least 21 million Americans could lose their health insurance. Some 133 million would lose their protection against being denied insurance for a pre-existing condition… When I was at lunch today, two construction workers at the next table were discussing the danger to Obamacare. One said, “The consequences would be incalculable.”

► From Politico — ‘We need a plan’: GOP shaken by Trump’s health care demands — The last time the party tried to get rid of Obamacare, it cost them control of the House and several state capitols.

Sen. Mitch McConnell re: health care.

► From Politico — McConnell to Trump: Health care’s all yours — Another divisive debate over health care is the last thing McConnell wants. But that’s exactly where Trump is taking Republicans after his administration endorsed a wholesale obliteration of the ACA in the courts earlier this week. So the Kentucky Republican and his members are putting the onus on the president to figure out the next steps. The Senate majority leader said that he’s more interested in taking on Democrats than jumping into a divisive debate within his own party.

► In today’s Washington Post — ‘Clearly an end-run’: Federal judge rejects Trump’s health-care plan to go around Obamacare — A federal judge in Washington ruled late Thursday that the Trump administration’s push to make health insurance plans available outside the Affordable Care Act that avoid the requirements of the health-care law was illegal, calling the efforts “clearly an end-run around the ACA.”

► In today’s NY Times — GOP cruelty is a pre-existing condition (by Paul Krugman) — Modern Republicans just hate the idea of using public policy to help Americans get the health care they need, even when people’s inability to get insurance is a result of pre-existing medical conditions over which they have no control. If this seems remarkably cruel, that’s because it is — and there’s no sign that this attitude will change. In today’s G.O.P., cruelty toward the most vulnerable is a pre-existing condition.

► From Politico — Exclusive: Key Trump health official spends millions on GOP-connected consultants — Seema Verma, the Trump appointee who oversees Medicare, Medicaid and the ACA, quietly directed millions of taxpayer dollars in contracts to Republican communications consultants during her tenure atop the agency — including hiring one well-connected GOP media adviser to bolster her public profile.

 


THAT WASHINGTON

 

► From Vox — The House just passed a bill to close the gender pay gap — House Democrats easily passed the Paycheck Fairness Act on Wednesday — their latest in a long series of attempts to make sure women and men are paid equally. The final vote was 242-187. Democrats were joined by seven Republicans.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Alas, none of those seven were from Washington state. GOP Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, Dan Newhouse, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers all voted “no,” while all Democrats from Washington voted “yes.”

► In today’s Washington Post — Trump’s North American trade deal at risk of stalling in Congress — President Trump’s effort to rework a major trade deal with Canada and Mexico is showing signs of faltering on Capitol Hill, straining under a variety of angry complaints from lawmakers of both parties who won’t commit to backing the plan.

ALSO at The Stand — AFL-CIO announces opposition to NAFTA 2.0 in its current form

► From The Hill — Poll: Just 36 percent say Mueller report clears Trump — Fifty-six percent say questions still exist about Trump, while nine percent say they are unsure.

► From The Hill — Inslee releases his tax returns — The Democratic presidential candidate posted 12 years of his tax returns on his campaign website Friday, calling on Trump to similarly release his tax filings.

► From HuffPost — Betsy DeVos’ proposed education cuts go way deeper than the Special Olympics — Advocates say the focus on the Special Olympics obscures the much deeper cuts DeVos is trying to make to other areas, even if it is an important program. Amid all the controversy, other at-risk programs have been overlooked.

► In today’s NY Times — The Constitution and the president’s tweets (editorial) — Should the First Amendment prohibit officials from retaliating against constituents on social media? Some courts are saying yes.

 


NATIONAL

 

► From In These Times — A blow but not fatal: 9 months after Janus, AFSCME reports 94% retention — The labor union in the crosshairs of the right wing-led effort to gut public sector unions through a landmark Supreme Court case released new membership data Wednesday showing a decline that experts say could mark the beginning of larger losses, but is far shy of a fatal blow. AFSCME reported a 6 percent loss last year, down from 1,411,877 members, agency fee payers and retirees in 2017 to 1,329,594 in 2018.

ALSO at The Stand — After Janus, unions got even stronger in Washington state — Although that 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision empowered all public employees to withdraw from their unions and get representation for free, the number of Washingtonians who chose to do that dropped by more than half last year.

► From ABC News — 1,200 union faculty members at Community College of Philadelphia vote to go on strike — A strike could start as early as next week. Union faculty and staff have been working without a contract since August 2016. They have been bickering over wages.

► From Jacobin — That’s strike one, Amazon (by Joe Demanuelle-Hall) — In what may be the first coordinated strike at a U.S. Amazon facility, 50 Somali-American workers walked off the job in Minnesota to protest work speedups. Organizers say it won’t be the last strike.

 


T.G.I.F. x 2

 

► Happy birthday to Terry Jacks, a Canadian environmentalist who had a brief music career in the 1970s that included recording one of the worst songs of the decade, or perhaps of all time. But then, “Seasons in the Sun” was also quite the ear worm and became one of the biggest selling Canadian singles ever. Originally intended for the Beach Boys with Jacks producing, the band recorded it but didn’t release it. So Jacks recorded his own version — scene of this crime: Vancouver, BC — and released it independently. People generally hate this song because of its sappy sentimentality, sung in the voice of a dying man saying goodbye to his loved ones. (The Entire Staff of The Stand apologizes in advance.)

 

Apparently, those who know the origins of the song hate Jacks’ version even more. It was translated from 1961’s “Le Moribond” (The Dying Man) by legendary Belgian singer Jacques Brel, a song described as “cynical, wistful, sad, loving, angry, and hilarious, with surprising twists.” Columnist Robert J. Elisberg writes that in “Le Moribond”…

“A middle-aged man, with a pounding rhythm and forceful voice is saying goodbye to those he knew in his life. Goodbye to his best friend, goodbye to the priest — to each of them, “I liked you very much. Take care of my wife when I’m gone.” And almost in defiance of death, spitting in its face, “I want everyone to sing, dance and act like fools when they put me in the grave.” And then in the third verse, the song takes its twist: he says goodbye to Antoine… and suddenly the tone of his voice changes. You can hear the sneer in his voice as he says, “I didn’t like you very much.” And then, rather than ask Antoine to take care of his wife, he sings, “Since you were her lover, when I was alive, I figure you’re going to keep taking care of her when I’m gone anyway.” And then the song closes with him saying goodbye to his wife, how much he loved her, even though he kept his eyes closed, like he will be doing now. And the final chorus is more aggressively pounding than ever, more defiant of death than ever, a heavy drum-beat in the background, “I want everyone to sing, dance and act like fools when they put me in the grave!!!!!!!!!” And then suddenly, BAM, the song cuts off.”

Bonus TGIF: The original…

 


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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