Right now in the state of Washington it’s legal to view child pornography online, reports KUOW’s Patricia Murphy. She writes:
“In order to face prosecution explicit images must be printed or downloaded. So for the third year in a row State Attorney General Rob McKenna is lobbying the legislature to expand the laws to give prosecutors more leeway. Among other things, McKenna’s proposal would make simply viewing child porn a crime.”
We have more details on the mystery of the huge metal exhibit panel that went missing from Volunteer Park’s water tower last summer only to be found in a flower bed in the park this winter. Seattle Parks made e-mails available to Capitol Hill Seattle blog describing how city gardener Nancy Cifuentes made the surprising discovery. Here’s an excerpt of an e-mail from Cifuentes describing the moment she encountered the lost Olmsted panel:
It was just a lucky fluke, finding it. I have so many groupings of fancy daffodils, hyacinths and narcissi in that bed, remnants of past Conservatory displays. And I have gotten increasingly grouchy that such a thick blanket of leaves has built up over them, that I decided to clean it out. As I removed the top layer of leaves I began to see a large metal thing. I called to my volunteer ”Hey, Chuck, can you help me, I think there is a part of a washing machine here!” But when we raised it up from its bed of muck, chips and leaves I could not believe what it was..And in nearly perfect condition! A small dent where they pried it off the wall, otherwise nearly perfect. I now have it in the office, all cleaned up and awaiting instructions.
Cifuentes said she was “grubbing in a shrub bed at the Anne Herrmann Memorial Garden” when she discovered the panel. According to the mail, the panel was found on the morning of February 4th. It was stolen from the water tower in June.
In another e-mail, Cifuentes hypothesized about why the panel had been removed in the first place. She believes somebody was using it as a bed:
As best I can reconstruct its fate someone laid it down and put newspapers and chips over it, then after sleeping on it for a time abandoned the site, deep inside some Viburnums. Then the leaves fell and it was covered over where it sat all year.
According to a Parks spokesperson, the panel has not yet been restored to the water tower exhibit.
An all-star cast of Seattle-based musicians are teaming up for “A Hootenanny for Haiti” Sunday at the Showbox at the Market.
As part of our news partnership with the Seattle Times and 20 other local news sites, Capitol Hill Seattle blog has been asked to collaborate on a cross-site project to document what our community thinks about graffiti. But we don’t want to.
The idea was to ask CHS readers the following questions:
- Do you think graffiti is a problem in your area?
- Where are the problem spots?
- What do you and your neighbors do to help clean it up?
- Should the city be doing more to help out?
On Capitol Hill, we’ve had this conversation before. When it comes to graffiti, the Hill is in a league of its own. So my message to the Seattle Times and our partners is we have a love/hate relationship with graffiti on the Hill. Some of you have well-honed arguments against it. Some of you have equal arguments in support. There are some things I like to see tagged, some things I’d rather not see tagged unless it’s quality work and some things that piss me off. By the way, nobody can make a good defense of etching so any etchers should please sign off now, thank you.
Instead, let’s focus on some common ground for both sides of the love/hate equation. Graffiti removal art has appeal for both the anti-taggers and the street art fans. Know of any interesting cover-ups on the Hill? Let us know in comments. We’ll go out, shoot some pictures and see if we learn anything about this whole thing by coming at it from a different angle.
Yesterday Governor Gregoire enacted a 2-year repeal of many of Initiative 960′s provisions. While this is not the first time a voter approved initiative has been changed, it represents the third time this particular voter enacted policy (2/3 vote for tax increases) has been set aside.
One of the ironies of this latest action is that a 2/3 vote requirement can be repealed by a simple majority vote.
Although initiatives adopted by the people are statutory law just like bills passed by the Legislature, it is a much higher hurdle for citizens to get their laws enacted. As such there should be a high threshold to change or repeal their laws or they should at least have a say.
This is why the Washington Policy Center’s Policy Guide proposes constitutional changes:
“Adopt constitutional reform that requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature to amend a voter-approved initiative. The two-year limitation on requiring a two-thirds vote of lawmakers to amend an initiative should be eliminated, so that the two-thirds requirement applies whenever the legislature seeks to change a voter-approved law. The only time legislators should be allowed to amend an initiative with a simple majority vote is when they first send the proposed changes to the voters for approval.”
If there are technical problems with an initiative or circumstances change that warrant immediate repeal or changes, a 2/3 vote should be sufficient. If this threshold can’t be reached, the Legislature should submit their changes to the voters via a referendum for ratification.
Additional information on this proposal is available on page 13 of this pdf.
Jason Mercier is the director of the Center for Government Reform at the Washington Policy Center. He serves on the Executive Committee of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force and is a contributing editor of the Heartland Institute’s Budget & Tax News. Mercier also serves as treasurer on the board of the Washington Coalition for Open Government and was an adviser to the 2002 Washington State Tax Structure Committee.
Fish Tank (Varsity, Feb 26-March 4)
Andrea Arnold’s second feature may have communists supporting the class system. No utopia could function with this Essex family on their dole. It doesn’t help that none of them can act, the only one with any experience being television actress Kierston Waring, who struggles to bring a soap-opera credibility to Mia’s mother, a sodden floozie looking at the onset of middle age from the wrong side of an alcohol-stained bed that’s about ready for the woodpile.
Mia, or maybe it is just Katie Jarvis, is a mean-faced brat with what little personality she might have had being channeled into her social-defense mechanisms. Reportedly discovered by the director while having a fight with her boyfriend at a train station, Jarvis is typical of the untrained no-talents who so frequently garner praise for the amateurish realism of their non-performances.
In the council estate where they play out their flimsy dreams and vulgar fantasies, the only one for whom there is any hope is Mias’s younger sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths) if only because she realizes she lives in a world of spazzes and idiots.
The film opens with fifteen year old Mia trying to learn some break dancing moves, after which she is robbed and brutalized while trying to free a horse from its post in a trailer ghetto. Soon she has graduated to erotic shenanigans with her mother’s boyfriend, himself a fine example of the scumminess of Britain’s working minority, who encourages her to abandoned her hip-hop moves for some interpretive dancing to Bobby Womack’s California Dreaming.
“Fish Tank” is a portrait of the poor that might have been perpetuated by a neo-Thatcherist who believes that public funds for education are a waste of money. It is also such a confusing mess that I was unsure if the story was supposed to be taking place in the mid-eighties or twenty years later. A preponderance of Eric B and Rakim on the soundtrack gives the picture an 80’s feel, but then Nas breaks in with some contemporary beats. Furthermore, if the story is contemporary, it makes no sense for Mia’s mother to express befuddlement when seeing her daughter engage in this new kind of dancing. Since hip-hop music would have been popular for at least 25 years, the mother, who can’t be more than fifteen years older than her daughter, would have grown up with it as well. Then there is Mia’s baffling decision to change her dance audition music to Bobby Womack, something that would have only made sense in the eighties. Yet there is nothing else, aside from the aforementioned Thatcherism, to suggest the story is anything but contemporary.
Arnold’s direction is both indolent and over-active. Rather than cut from scene to relevant scene, she follows Mia into every nick and cranny of her journey. Whenever anything is done purposefully, the obviousness of Arnold’s intent is laughable. The last reel is filled with situations that have been insufficiently worked out and tread on trite possibilities until retreating into the cul-de-sac of non-event. There is one thing that makes “Fish Tank” passingly memorable. It has not one, but five, terrible endings, each, like a difficult prison sentence, running consecutively.
Old Partner (NWFF, Feb 26-March 4)
“Old Partner” is the first significant movie about an ox since 1991’s “The Ox,” which drew an audience primarily because it was directed by cinematographer Sven Nykvist. While not photographed nearly as well as Nykvist’s picture, and without the acting trio of Max von Sydow, Liv Ullmann, and Stellan Skarsgard to beef up the human side of the story, this Korean documentary about the last year in the life of an ox is no less moving than its predecessor.
While “The Ox” focused on the guilt of a man who had slaughtered his neighbor’s ox to feed his family, the primary theme of “Old Partner” is a 79 year-old man’s refusal to sell the ailing ox that has been a faithful helpmate for forty years. His wife blames her miserable lot in life on the animal, which the man dotes on, refusing to use pesticides on his crops for fear of the harm they might do, and spending much of his day gathering fodder for the animal’s meals, when he could be preparing chili peppers for the market.
The larger issue of Chung-Ryoul Lee’s film is the ebbing of strength through life’s waning months. Mr. Lee drags himself through his fields with a broken foot while his wife complains of headaches and dizziness. Mrs. Lee believes that her husband will not long survive the ox, who has become more a sentimental companion than beast of burden, and that she will has not the means to survive her husband’s death. So the imminent death of the ox becomes an omen for the end of them all.
“Old Partner” is a portrait of old age that captures every failing muscle. Every sinewy moment tells of the decades of hard life on this South Korean farm. It is not only the ox, but the man and his wife who have become as stony as the mountains, as loose as the earth, and as liquid as the streams in this land that has yielded itself to them and now asks the same.
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Seattle Film Guide for February 26 – March 4
OPENING THIS WEEK
The Crazies David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) is sheriff of Ogden Marsh, a picture-perfect American town with happy, law-abiding citizens. But one night, one of them comes to a school baseball game with a loaded shotgun, ready to kill. Another man burns down his own house… after locking his wife and young son in a closet inside. Within days, the town has transformed into a sickening asylum; people who days ago lived quiet, unremarkable lives have now become depraved, bloodthirsty killers. Sheriff Dutton tries to make sense of what’s happening as the horrific, nonsensical violence escalates. Now complete anarchy reigns as one by one the townsfolk succumb to an unknown toxin and turn sadistically violent. In an effort to keep the madness contained, the government uses deadly force to close off all access and won’t let anyone in or out — even those uninfected. The few still sane find themselves trapped: Sheriff Dutton; his pregnant wife, Judy (Radha Mitchell); Becca (Danielle Panabaker), an assistant at the medical center; and Russell (Joe Anderson), Dutton’s deputy and right-hand man. Forced to band together, an ordinary night becomes a horrifying struggle for survival as they do their best to get out of town alive.
Ghost Writer Roman Polanski directs this atmospheric and suspenseful political thriller based on the novel The Ghost by Robert Harris. When a successful British ghostwriter, The Ghost (Ewan McGregor), agrees to complete the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), his agent assures him it’s the opportunity of a lifetime. But the project seems doomed from the start—not least because his predecessor on the project, Lang’s long-term aide, died in an unfortunate accident. The Ghost flies to the East Coast of the United States to work on the project, but the day after he arrives, a former British cabinet minister accuses Lang of authorizing the illegal seizure of suspected terrorists and handing them over for torture by the CIA—a war crime. The controversy brings reporters and protesters swarming to the island mansion where Lang is staying with his wife, Ruth (Olivia Williams), and his personal assistant, Amelia (Kim Cattrall). As The Ghost works, he begins to uncover clues suggesting his predecessor may have stumbled on a dark secret linking Lang to the CIA—and that somehow this information is hidden in the manuscript he left behind. Also starring Timothy Hutton, Eli Wallach, Tom Wilkinson and James Belushi.
Cop Out Kevin Smith tries his hand at directing somebody’ else’s script. Will it be a real Bruce Willis movie or one of the smart-alecky ones?
IN LIMITED RELEASE
Fish Tank (Varsity: Feb 26-March 4) Bill White reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe
The Red Riding Trilogy (Northwest Film Forum: Part One 1974 Feb 26-March 1, Part Two 1980 Feb 26-March 4, Part Three 1983, Feb 27-March 4) Additional screenings of Part One 1974. You can now catch the first film in the trilogy on Wednesday, March 3 at 9pm and Thursday March 4th at 5pm
Old Partner (NWFF: Feb 26-March 4) Bill White Reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe
Waiting for Armageddon (Grand Illusion, Feb 26-March 4) America’s 50-million strong Evangelical community is convinced that the world’s future is foretold in Biblical prophecy – from the rapture to the battle of Armageddon. This astonishing documentary explores their world; in their homes, at conferences, and on a wide-ranging tour of Israel. By interweaving Christian, Zionist, Jewish and critical perspectives along with telling archival materials, the filmmakers probe the politically powerful, and potentially explosive, alliance between Evangelical Christians and Israel… an alliance that may set the stage for what one prominent Evangelical leader calls “World War III.”
White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights (NWFF, Feb 26-27) is a stylish rock-doc that follows the Jack and Meg White’s 2007 Canadian tour. The band played remote towns and provinces, while finding time at each tour stop to make an unusual promotional appearance, playing on city buses, boats, bowling alleys (where they rolled a full game while rocking), and even one free daytime show in which they only played a single note. Director Malloy mixes gorgeously grainy black-and-white with color footage of Jack and Meg White onstage and off. The Stripes stripped-down, pop-art stage sets make a perfect backdrop for the spare, sonic attack of their music, and the lo-fi punch of their sound seems especially fitting for the landscape of the sparsely populated Canadian countryside.
The Messenger (Varsity) Two Oscar nominations: Woody Harrelson for Best Supporting Actor and Owen Moverman and Allesandro Camon for Best Original Screenplay Bill White reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe
The Hurt Locker Sean Axmaker reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe
REVIVALS AND SPECIAL PROGRAMS
King of Cool: The Films of Steve McQueen
Seattle Art Museum Thursday Nights Jan 7-March 11
Junior Bonner (Feb 25)
The Getaway (March 4)
Single-film tickets are $7 for everyone, sold day of show at the auditorium (cash only). Tickets are also available through Scarecrow Video: call 206.524.8554
Continuing runs at area theaters:
The Blind Side White family takes in a homeless African-American youth and helps him fulfill his dream of playing professional football.
The Book of Eli Bill White reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe
Crazy Heart Journalist meets broken down has-been, setting him on the road to recovery. jeff Bridges is Oscar meat for his portrayal of a country singer on the booze skids. Its about time he got his statue, as he has been one of this country’s best actors for decades.
Dear John Soldier on leave is smitten with a college girl.
Edge of Darkness Mel Gibson directs himself as a cop who goes on the rampage after his daughter is killed
“An Education” Novelist Nick Hornby (About a Boy, High Fidelity) has had some of his books turned into successful films. Now he tries his hand at an original screenplay about a young girl manipulated by an older man in swinging London.
From Paris With Love Director Pierre Morel’s “Taken” was last year’s best action movies, so I am fairly optimistic about his thriller, featuring John Travolta as an American spy in Paris, with Jonathan Rhys Meyers as his green sidekick.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus Bill White reviews it for the Seattle PostGlobe
Invictus Sports and politics in South Africa.
It’s Complicated Meryl Streep and Steve Martin play exes who maintain an amicable relationship until they celebrate their son’s graduation with a return to the conjugal bed.
The Last Station By the British measure, Michael Hoffman’s account of the battle between Countess Tolstoy and the head of the Tolstoyan Society for the control of Leo Tolstoy’s writings is a well done affair. By the Russian standard, however, it is an abomination.
Legion The vampires are thirsty, and the blood is running out.
The Lovely Bones ”a misguided tribute to the magic of the movies” J. Hoberman, The Weekly
North Face Bill White reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe
Oscar Nominated Shorts 2010 Bill White reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe
Percy Jackson & Olympians: The Lightning Thief It’s the 21st century, but the gods of Mount Olympus and assorted monsters have walked out of the pages of high school student Percy Jackson’s Greek mythology texts and into his life.
Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire Education helps a 16-year old African American girl overcome her seedy past.
Sherlock Holmes Just the ticket for Guy Ritchie fans who have no trouble imagining Jude Law playing Watson to Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock
Shutter Island Bill White reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe
A Single Man “Major plot points are revealed through intricate bits of cinematic poetry” David Schmader The Stranger
Up in the Air Will “Juno” director Jason Reitman strike out or establish himself with this high-profile George Clooney comedy?
Valentine’s Day “among the most offensive things i have ever seen” Lindy West, The Stranger
The Wolfman Inspired by the classic film that launched a legacy of horror, The Wolfman stars Benicio Del Toro as Lawrence Talbot, a haunted nobleman lured back to his family estate in the Victorian hamlet of Blackmoor after his brother vanishes.
The White Ribbon Bill White reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe
The Young Victoria Paula Nechak reviews it for the Seattle PostGlobe
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It’s at least technically possible to produce all the electricity the United States currently uses in the Lower 48 from wind energy, says a new analysis out today from the U.S. government that triples the previous estimate of the upper bound on U.S. wind power.
Now, I’m no expert on wind energy, and I should state right at the outset that there a lot of qualifiers to this sweeping statement (not to mention plenty of environmental and aesthetic trade-offs to be considered). But this sure looks to me like a big honkin’ deal. (more)