The Washington state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-WA) filed a lawsuit on behalf of two Black Muslim immigrant men who claim they were removed from an Alaska Airlines flight in 2020 after another passenger complained that one of the men was texting in Arabic.
According to the complaint, which was filed in federal court on Aug. 2, the two men were seated in the first-class section of an Alaska Airlines flight to San Francisco for a business trip. They were going to pick up medical transport vehicles and drive them back to Washington.
One of the men was texting in Arabic with a friend. A fellow passenger saw, spoke to a flight attendant and loudly exited the plane. This led to an “unjustified and unnecessary display of security theater” in which the entire plane was deboarded. The two men were not allowed to reboard the flight, the complaint reads.
Both men were rebooked onto later flights with the carrier that same day but were not allowed to travel together, according to the complaint.
In a statement to Axios, Alaska Airlines said that it “strictly prohibits unlawful discrimination” and that its chief responsibility is the safety of its flights. The company did not comment further, citing pending litigation.
No place like home
Voters in Kansas delivered a resounding victory to pro-choice advocates by voting down a ballot measure that would have stripped Kansans of their state constitutional rights to abortion by allowing the conservative legislature to pass abortion-related laws.
The measure appeared on the primary ballot, an election that generally attracts fewer but more hardline voters than a general election. According to the Associated Press, Republican voters have outnumbered Democratic voters in the August primary by a factor of 2-to-1 for the past decade. This time, however, thousands of unaffiliated voters cast ballots.
The Kansas contest is the first since the Supreme Court overturned the landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade, axing a federal constitutional right to abortion and throwing the issue back to individual states. Dozens of states moved to enact or pass legislation restricting or effectively banning abortion in the immediate aftermath of the decision.
Kansas, however, had the right to abortion affirmed in its state constitution by the state’s Supreme Court in 2019, preventing lawmakers from passing bans.
This so-called life on Earth
In a move that gave Congressional tea leaf readers whiplash, senators Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer announced a deal on a piece of legislation that boosts investments in clean energy while also opening up new oil and gas leases on federal land.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 represents a significant step away from President Joe Biden’s proposed Build Back Better bill in its overall size. However, it provides 10-year tax credits to promote wind and solar energy production and boosts revenues by taxing corporate stock buybacks and increasing funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The goal is to bring in more money without raising taxes on middle- and low-income Americans. Certain tax loopholes that benefit the wealthy remain, however.
According to a preliminary analysis by Princeton University’s REPEAT Project, the package could reduce U.S. emissions by 42 percent compared to 2005 levels by 2030.
If approved, the IRA will also allow the government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices and lower the costs of health care through the Affordable Care Act.
Gov. Jay Inslee, who focused his failed presidential bid on climate change, praised the bill, saying that people could feel a “surge of hope.”
“These investments are necessary to fight climate change. While the details are still emerging, we know this – this is a major step forward and a big win for the people of our country,” Inslee said in a July 27 statement.
However, the wrangling over the IRA isn’t over.
In prepared remarks released on Aug. 2, Sen. Bernie Sanders raised concerns about the bill, arguing that it did not go far enough in helping the American people, particularly in comparison to the Build Back Better bill. He also lambasted tax breaks and subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.
“In my view, we have got to do everything possible to take on the greed of the fossil fuel industry, not give billions of dollars in corporate welfare to an industry that has been destroying our planet,” Sanders said.
The Department of Health’s (DOH) Center for Health Statistics released new data on marriage and divorce rates in Washington state, and let’s just say neither wedding chapels nor divorce attorneys are doing brisk business.
According to the DOH, 2020 saw the fewest divorces and marriages in the state compared to any year in the past two decades, despite a growing population. In 2000, there were 7.1 marriages per 1,000 residents and 4.9 divorces. In 2020, those numbers dropped to 4.8 and 2.8 per 1,000, respectively.
King County is more averse to nuptials than Washington state overall at 4.5 marriages per 1,000 people, but the folks who get married also seem more likely to stay that way. According to the data, the county clocks 2.1 divorces per 1,000 people.
Washington’s numbers seem to reflect a national trend. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), national marriage rates per 1,000 people fell to 5.1 in 2020, compared to 8.2 in 2000.
The pandemic may have had something to do with it, but marriage rates have been on the decline for a while.
Why does the government care about somebody else’s “happy day?” Long-term planning for social programs, apparently.
“[Marriage and divorce data] help federal agencies understand marriage and divorce trends and forecast future needs of programs that have spousal benefits,” according to the DOH. “They also measure the effects of policies and programs that focus on the well-being of families, including tax policies and financial assistance programs.”
Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird received a bevy of honors in her last regular season game in Seattle on Aug. 7. The storied player announced plans to retire at the beginning of her 21st season.
The list of Bird’s accomplishments over her 18-year professional basketball career are too numerous to list here. She’s got four WNBA titles under her belt and five Olympic gold medals. She’s the only WNBA player to appear in 500 career games.
Bird is beloved in Seattle — she spent her entire career in the Emerald City. But people love her for more than her skill on the court. In July 2020, as communities across the nation protested police brutality and demanded change, Bird and Women’s National Basketball Players Association President Nneka Ogwumike released an op-ed dedicating the 2020 season to social justice.
“In this moment of national reckoning, our league is a microcosm of so much of the world that’s worth fighting for: a community that reflects incredible diversity, real inclusion, a long tradition of proud activism, and a deep commitment to fighting injustice,” Ogwumike and Bird wrote.
In an email announcement, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell declared Aug. 7 “Sue Bird Day,” saying that Bird “set a new example for what it means to be an athlete and a leader” before wishing Bird and the Storm luck going into the playoffs.
Read more of the Aug. 10-16, 2022 issue.