Features

USDA Creates Certification, Label for GMO-Free Food

The Agriculture Department (USDA) has developed a new government certification and labeling for foods that are free of genetically modified ingredients. USDA’s move comes as some consumer groups push for mandatory labeling of the genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Seattle, Like It or Not, Becomes Shell’s Arctic Base

Labor groups representing port workers noted that Foss Maritime is employing more than 400 people already to service the Shell fleet. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, for his part, is strongly against hosting Shell’s fleet, warning that the port could face daily fines because it lacks the proper permit. Those fines would amount to no more than $500 a day for the port — a tiny drop in a very large barrel if Shell, one of the world’s largest companies, manages to recover billions of gallons of oil from the Arctic Ocean. Seattle’s environmentalists, however, have a sense that their time is now.

America’s Coming Retirement Crisis

Almost one-third of all workers have no savings at all. Those who do save don’t save much. Median household retirement savings for people aged 55 to 64 in 2013 amounted to $14,500. Congress or the states should set up tax-favored individual retirement accounts for workers without access to a job-based plan and tell companies to enroll employees automatically.

Wishy-Washy Rhetoric on Port Lease

In Seattle, what’s now at risk is the future of its maritime industry. Mayor Ed Murray jeopardized this by using an old development permit to assert that particular vessels aren’t acceptable. The mayor’s suggestion to the contrary, this intentional interference in the Port’s lease of a vacant terminal to Shell and Foss Maritime creates uncertainty. It puts current and future Port customers on alert for political litmus testing in Seattle.

Democrats Revise Their Capital Gains Tax Idea

The House Finance Committee held a hearing Wednesday on a revision of a dormant capital gains tax bill introduced three months ago by Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma. Single people making less than $25,000 a year in capital gains revenue and a couple making less than $50,000 annually from capital gains profits would be exempt.

Democrats Yield in U.S. Senate Trade Deal

The U.S. Senate’s trade war lasted just about a day. After Democrats engineered a stunning defeat of President Barack Obama’s push for new trade deals on Tuesday, negotiators hashed out a compromise that offered both parties a way to save face without scuttling the administration’s trade agenda. At the least, the agreement means the Senate is likely to pass new powers for the president to fast-track trade pacts through Congress.

Shell Oil Rig Arriving Thursday Is Just the Start of Arctic Drilling Fleet

The Polar Pioneer oil rig expected to arrive in Seattle on Thursday afternoon is the biggest piece of a muscular fleet Shell Oil has mustered in the Pacific Northwest to resume its controversial high-stakes oil-exploration effort in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska’s North Slope. The company will have 25 vessels in and out of the Pacific Northwest in preparation for the season.

Millions in Payouts Fail to Improve Care for Vulnerable Adults

A record-setting $17.8 million verdict against the state of Washington 15 years ago was expected to produce big changes in the system that cares for developmentally disabled adults. But in the decade-and-a-half since, DSHS has paid more than $30 million in new jury verdicts and settlement agreements. Each of the lawsuits exposed problems in how DSHS cares for vulnerable adults, yet the KING 5 Investigators found few improvements have been made.