Commuters were beginning to trickle over the Magnolia Bridge. Probably none of them realized just how narrowly they escaped disaster that morning. Below them, a BNSF locomotive pulling 97 tank cars, each laden with at least 27,000 gallons of crude oil, came to a halt. Three cars had derailed. What happened next has come to define what appears to be a pattern of secrecy by BNSF. Read more.
Thomas Jefferson believed that “[e]very constitution . . . naturally expires at the end of 19 years.” As “new discoveries are made,new truths disclosed . . . institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times.” But Jefferson did not manage to insert a 20 year re-set button into the US Constitution; instead, the nation ended up with the most difficult to amend or update Constitution in the entire world. The United States is number one!
The US Electoral College is a poster-child for Jefferson’s fear that a constitution may linger beyond its natural life. When the Founding Fathers conceived of the Electoral College as “a small number” of “men most capable of analyzing” the “complicated” question of who should be president, there were fewer eligible voters in the whole country than there are now in just the city of Portland (there were only 2.5 million people in the whole country and only a tiny fraction of those—white, wealthy, Protestant men—were allowed to vote). The Electoral College has always been a rubber stamp rather than the deliberative body the Founding Fathers imagined. Read more »
Joe Cortright asks exactly the right question: why can’t The Atlantic and Bloomberg do long division? The same goes for the Boston Globe and a host of other outlets that I won’t bother to link to. They all repeated a claim made by J.D. Power, a marketing firm, that “Gen Y” is buying more cars than “Gen X”—writing stories suggesting that the allegedly car-averse Millennials are actually surpassing the 40-somethings in their love of the auto. But there’s that … read more »
It’s been a fast and furious few months on the Northwest coal export front—and almost all of the news has been bad for the coal industry’s hopes to ship coal from the Northwest to Asia:
- International coal prices remain near multi-year lows. After a slight uptick earlier in the year, benchmark thermal coal prices have fallen back to where they were in the depths of the global recession. Adjusted for inflation, they’re the lowest they’ve been since early 2007. And the future market holds out little hope for a rebound: prices for the Pacific Rim key coal market benchmark remain below $60 per ton through 2021.
- Chinese coal demand continues to shrink. Five years ago, market analysts believed that China’s boundless coal demand would buoy coal prices for decades. But Chinese policymakers, increasingly concerned about air pollution and industrial overproduction, have enacted a variety of policies to curb coal consumption–from coal import tariffs to provincial coal reduction targets to a nascent cap-and-trade system. Those Read more »
Would you run for office, if you didn’t have to raise big money from one percenters to do it? The Honest Elections Seattle Initiative is a pioneering local initiative that would provide a whole new path to office, a path through dozens of house parties and grassroots outreach, not posh downtown offices and hours of dialing for dollars. If it works in Seattle, it may spread to other places.
Last time, I described how the law’s innovative Democracy Vouchers work for you if you’re a voter. This time, I take a candidate’s eye view.
If you’re a Democracy Voucher candidate, here is what you do: Read more »