Collaboration in Civic Spheres

More U.S. funds to Boeing-Seattle for Saudi air defense fixes

by December 16th, 2011

A $50 million Foreign Military Sales contract announced this week by the U.S. Department of Defense will bring to at least $277,292,000 the maximum value of U.S. government spending with the Seattle-based defense unit of Boeing Co. and subcontractors since 1997 for technical upgrades to the Royal Saudi Air Force’s fleet of five E-3A Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) jets. They are used by the Saudis to help to protect their U.S.-allied Kingdom from potential attacks by hostile neighbors in the Middle East and Persian Gulf.

Admitted sex abuser was Census field rep in King County

by December 16th, 2011

For more than two years year after he began repeatedly sexually abusing a developmentally disabled woman he cared for as a nursing aide in a state-run assisted living facility in Shoreline – and for three months after public release of a Washington State Department of Health disciplinary document he signed confessing to the abuse – Shoreline resident Bart Finkbiner continued in a second, 20-hour-a-week job as field representative for the Seattle-region U.S. Census Bureau office, visiting an average of seven to eight homes per week in north Seattle and north King County to liaise with members of households which hadn’t responded to mail or phone prompts to complete the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Although there are no reports of any further misconduct by Finkbiner, the five-state Seattle Region U.S. Census division’s director Ralph J. Lee said that upon learning last weekend of Finkbiner’s signed confession to the state, he suspended Finkbiner with pay and ordered his work laptop, employee badge and other work materials removed from his work area, as an internal inquiry process unfolds.

Identity theft cost U.S. households $13.2 billion in 2010

by December 14th, 2011

Seven percent of U.S. households were victimized by identity theft in 2010 at a cost of $13.2 billion, according to a recent report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The percentage is a slight drop from 7.3 percent in 2009 but still considerably higher than the 5.5 percent recorded in 2005. The report by the branch of the U.S. Department of Justice measures identity theft data from 2005 through 2010, and divides identity theft into four major categories: misuse of an existing credit card; misuse of another type of existing account; misuse of personal information to open a new account or another fraudulent purpose; and cases involving multiple forms of identity theft.

The 8.5 million U.S. households that suffered identity theft in 2010 lost a total of $13.2 billion. The average loss was $1,640 across all categories in 2010, up from $1,420 in 2005. The average loss was $970 for misuse of an existing credit card in 2010; $1,080 for misuse of another type of existing account; $5,650 for misuse of personal information to open a new account or another fraudulent purpose; and $3,070 when multiple types of identity theft were involved. Average losses in the last two sub-categories were considerably lower in 2005.

Financial loss by households from identity theft, 2010/U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics

Households in the highest income category, $75,000 or more per year, were by far the most likely to be victimized by identity theft in 2010, at a rate of 12.3 percent. Members of rural households (3.9 percent) were considerably less likely to have their identities stolen than those in urban or suburban households (both 7.6 percent).

Among racial categories, households headed by mixed race individuals were most likely to be victimized by identity theft in 2010 (11.6 percent) followed by households headed by Asians (8.5 percent) and whites (7.3 percent). Households headed by individuals aged 12 to 17 were more likely (10.2 percent) to be identity theft victims than other age groups, followed by 18 to 24 year-olds. As head of household age increased, likelihood of identity theft decreased.


U.S. Department of Justice identiity theft prevention tips.

FBI tips to avoid debit card “skimming”.

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Report: improve data on USDA food facility inspections

by December 13th, 2011

Instead of just providing opaque aggregated data as at present, the U.S. Department of Agriculture should closely consider beefed-up public disclosure which names names and provides facility-specific outcomes of food safety inspections, sampling, testing, and enforcement actions for processing sites like slaughterhouses and warehouses, and at retail stores, according to a report from a committee of the U.S. government’s National Research Council released December 2. The report – by the council’s Committee on a Study of Food Safety and Other Consequences of Publishing Establishment-Specific Data – takes the form of a 116-page book viewable in full online, and a short summary.

Bald eagle viewing on Skagit River starts Saturday

by December 12th, 2011

Starting this coming weekend of December 17 and 18 and through January 29, visitors can again witness one of the largest wintering populations of bald eagles in the lower 48 states descending upon the Skagit River’s supply of salmon. Providing assistance will be volunteers from the Skagit Eagle Watchers Program hosted by the US Forest Service. Three viewing stations with off-highway parking along North Cascades Highway 20 provide spotting scopes and binoculars to help you see the birds up close, at Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport, Sutter Creek Rest area (milepost 100 on Highway 20) and the Marblemount Fish Hatchery. Look for the yellow signs. Beforehand, you can view a special map which shows the sites and get background on Skagit River wildlife. Call 360-856-5700 for more information.

Removal from Endangered Species List
In 2007, the bald eagle was removed from the endangered species list in the lower 48 states. According to a national bald eagle survey conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, breeding pairs of eagles in the lower 48 have continuously increased from 1963 to 2006. The same study showed an increase in breeding pairs in the state of Washington from 398 in 1990 to 848 in 2006.

Bald eagle in Skagit River Watershed/U.S. Forest Service

Resting in Washington, Nesting in Alaska and Northern Canada
The migratory eagles are coming to the Skagit River from as far away as Alaska and Northern Canada. “During the peak times of the winter you could be looking up and see several hundred eagles in a single day,” says Forest Technician and Eagle Watchers Program Field Coordinator, Tanya Kitterman. “Normally we count 300 [eagles] a day on average. It’s fun to go out every week to the same places and see the eagles and what they are doing. There was one day we saw 700 eagles.”

Northwest Salmon; Vital to Bald Eagles in Western WA
Nestled in the Mt. Baker- Snoqualmie National Forest, the Skagit River is the only river system in Washington to host all five native salmon species. Kitterman said, “The eagles that we’re looking at in our program are migratory and are coming down to the Skagit to feed on salmon in the winter time. The eagles aren’t nesting here, they’re nesting in Northern Canada and Alaska and they’re coming down here specifically for the chum run that we have in the Skagit River.”

Wildlife Refuge Locator: Online Guide to Washington, U.S.

Kitterman is unsure what this year holds. “Chum numbers are low this year and we don’t know how many eagles are going to show up.”

Human Interruption
Human activity can also play a factor in the number of eagles in the area.  According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, bald eagles can be deterred by pesticides, interference with feeding patterns at gravel bars, and other human disruptions. However, the eagles in Washington are usually non-nesting and have grown accustomed to a certain amount of respectful human presence. Kitterman said, “the eagles that are down here are kind of used to being around people. We teach people to not approach the gravel bars while they’re feeding.”

Last season alone there were 5,525 visitors that came to see the migratory eagles along the Skagit; and 7,200 visitors in 2009-2010.

Map of North Cascades bald eagle viewing areas/U.S. Forest Service

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Redmond’s Physio-Control wins defense contract extension

by December 8th, 2011

Physio-Control of Redmond, Wash. this week won an one-year extension worth roughly $10 million of a contract with the Philadelphia-based U.S. Defense Logistics Agency. It could extend another four years at a total value of up to $49 million. For at least the next year the company will continue to supply U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Veterans Administration and federal civilian agency facilities with emergency medical response equipment including automated external defibrillators, cardiac monitors/defibrillators, CPR assist devices and accessories such as replacement batteries and battery chargers, replacement electrodes, infant/child electrodes, a variety of patient monitoring sensors, carrying cases, wall cabinets and training supplies.

The equipment will be sold to buyers mainly at some of the Department of Defense’s 295 major military bases around the globe. Some of the DoD bases in Washington served under the contract in recent years are Joint Base Lewis McChord, Naval Station Everett, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Naval Magazine Indian Island, Naval Base Kitsap, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, and Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane.

King County seeks up to $5.5M-plus in yearly PR consulting

by December 7th, 2011

Attention, contractors with “messaging” skills: King County is seeking requests for qualifications from communications consultants to bid for up to and possibly more than $5.5 million per year in work. Duties include developing strategy, writing, editing, graphics, media buying, video production, web production, publicity, marketing, event planning and other work to promote transit, public health and other county programs. When next-round bidders are chosen and finalists then selected, the county will be free to award them no work at all, or more than the predicted annual amounts for sub-tasks, according to the RFQ specifications. Responses are due by December 20.

11-fold hike in emergency room visits related to energy drinks

by December 6th, 2011

Despite a Washington state ban and tough federal enforcement against energy drinks containing alcohol, alcohol-free energy drinks with up to five times the caffeine blast of a cup of coffee pose growing public health concerns. According to a new study published in late November by an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, emergency department visits related to alcohol-free energy drinks – consumed alone and sometimes with other substances – were 11.6 times greater in 2009 than in 2005. Energy drink-related emergency visits grew in number from 1,128 in 2005; to 3,126 in 2006; 10,052 in 2007; 16,053 in 2008, and 13,114 in 2009, the most recent year for which data were available.