By Morf Morford, Tacoma Daily Index
Talkin’ about the weather
The rule of thumb is that in the greater Puget Sound area, reliable summer weather begins July 5. For the most part, this was true in 2022.
The mythic “June Gloom” lingered into the early days of July, with the first few days of July giving us record low temperatures as daily highs.
Other parts of the country had extreme weather of all kinds, from thunderstorms to droughts and heat waves and more.
July only gave us a few days over 80 degrees F, but that was enough for most of us.
If you plan an outdoor event in Western Washington – even in July or August – you still take your chances.
The rest of the country might make fun of our summers – but we know that they are just jealous.
Across the pond, much of Europe suffered through a history-making heat wave.
Airport tarmac melted, forest fires flourished, power outages become common and many thousands were evacuated from their homes – and more than a thousand died from the heat in Spain and Portugal alone.
The highest temperatures ever recorded in Great Britain led to fires and health threats of all kinds – including heat-related warping of rail lines.
We in the Pacific Northwest experienced a record-breaking six consecutive days of temperatures over 90.
Portland Oregon was even hotter – with five consecutive days with highs over 95 (F).
Hot in the USA
The last week in July featured record temperatures across North America.
Many areas broke the 100 degree mark, with the Pacific Northwest approaching it.
Along with the heat – and historic drought – California experienced massive fires – with the smoke making its way north.
Only in Tacoma
In terms of local stories of intrigue, Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer is the gift that keeps on giving.
But that’s not all.
You’d think that our county sheriff being required to post $100,000 bail based on his continued harassment of a local newspaper delivery man would be as crazy as news gets in Tacoma, but, as the saying goes, we are just getting started.
Apparently taking a cue from law enforcement officials, local criminals have picked up the pace of car thefts (up almost 90% from 2021 to 2022) with a continuing average of about 30 car thefts a day.
And our local murder rate has increased. We usually have about 30 murders in Tacoma over a typical year. For whatever reason we have passed one murder each week in 2022 – by far.
For crime in general, on a standard grading scale, Tacoma as a whole earned a D -, with entire neighborhoods in F territory. A crime occurs every 34 minutes (on average) in Tacoma.
Tacoma is not so different from surrounding communities; Fircrest had a D+, Fife had a D and Lakewood had a clear-cut F. You can see an updated crime map of Tacoma here (https://crimegrade.org/murder-tacoma-wa/). Just a friendly reminder – this is not a competition.
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown – Shakespeare, King Henry IV Part 2
July was a bad month for global leaders.
Presidents and prime ministers, from Russia to Great Britain to Sri Lanka and Italy saw their power base threatened, if not evaporated completely.
In the USA, the January 6th Commission investigated the then-president for his role inciting insurrection.
Around the world, citizens have stood up against corruption and deception.
For better or worse, perhaps our collective tolerance for scandal, malfeasance and incompetence has reached its limit.
Who knows? We just might see a rediscovery of accountability, decency and public service. And maybe even a restoration of public trust in government.
After years of expansion, Starbucks is closing 16 U.S. stores – including five in Seattle (Central District, Capitol Hill, Roosevelt, Westlake Center and Union Station) and one in Everett.
Safety of workers and illicit drug use in bathrooms were given as primary reasons.
Two of the Seattle stores had recently voted to unionize. Over 200 Starbucks stores nationwide have formed a union.
School’s out – but not for long
We’ve just passed the season of school and graduations. But schools and school staff are already preparing for the coming school year.
And, like everything else, school is not what it once was.
School districts across the country have experienced budget crises because of enrollment drops caused by the pandemic.
Seattle, the state’s largest school district, is experiencing plummeting school enrollment which is starting to cause unforeseen budget problems.
Across the state, school districts receive money from the state based on the number of students enrolled, so a drop in enrollment means less money.
The Pope asks for forgiveness
Pope Francis toured Canada and apologized for the decades of “evil” suffered by Indigenous people at church schools that were centers of abuse and death, saying, “I humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous peoples.”
Pope Francis has yet to rescind the Dum Diversas Bull of 1452, and other related bulls, which grant the Pope’s blessing ‘to capture, vanquish, and subdue the Saracens, pagans, and other enemies of Christ and put them into perpetual slavery and to take all their possession and their property.’ This Doctrine of Discovery justified, at least in the eyes of the Church, centuries of plunder and exploitation of the Americas.
Dollars & Euros
The euro has lost around 12% in value against the dollar so far this year, and, as of mid-July dropped below the value of the US dollar for the first time in 20 years.
Inflation and gas prices (among many other things) are far higher in Europe than in the USA.
An index of German businesses showed confidence hitting a 10-year low in July.
Besides the issues that bedevil our economy, Russia’s decision to shut off a major natural gas pipeline threatens to wreak continuing havoc across Western Europe.
The U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 0.75 percentage point for the second consecutive time this summer. The US stock market responded by vacillating – usually by three digits on a near daily basis.
President Biden tested positive for COVID. Twice.
That means that both presidents who held office in the COVID era have contracted the virus.
COVID infection rates stayed essentially the same through July, but thanks to the prevalence of home testing kits, many of those cases were unreported.
Public masking has declined.
In short, COVID has changed very little, but our attitude toward it has.
My granddaughter’s summer camp experience was cut short because of 5 positive cases.
No room at the hospital
Hospitals across Washington were operating at well over 100% capacity through most of July. Some hospitals were at 130% capacity. About 10% of hospital admissions were COVID related. Most of the problem is related to staff shortages.
Too many good guys with guns?
Security and body cam videos were released through-out July showing almost 400 law enforcement officers, including 149 border patrol officers as they, ahem, responded to the May 24 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 students and two teachers were killed by an 18-year-old gunman.
For whatever reason, they waited well over an hour before interrupting a mass murder in progress.
In Texas, apparently, one novice teenager is equal to almost 400 trained, equipped and armored law enforcement personnel.
Velveeta Martini – meet the Veltini
As we all know, American ingenuity seems to know no bounds.
Our ability to respond to solve problems and create solutions is legendary.
Given the unprecedented challenges of our times, some variation of “comfort food” had to emerge.
If, given the stresses of the day, you need a healing tonic with the “flavors of a typical martini with the nostalgic cheesy flavor”, your drink is waiting for you.
You can see details here – https://people.com/food/velveeta-introduces-a-cheesy-martini-garnished-with-pasta-shells-and-stuffed-olives/.
Final days in July
Ivana Trump, first wife of our former president, died July 14 in her Upper East Side home in what officials ruled an accidental death after she sustained blunt force injuries to her torso. She was 73 years old. She was buried near the first hole of Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey.
We lost Bill Russell, the NBA great who anchored a Boston Celtics dynasty that won 11 championships in 13 years and marched for civil rights with Martin Luther King Jr . He was a longtime Mercer Island resident.
We also lost Nichelle Nichols, who broke a major race barrier as the star of the 1960s sci-fi series Star Trek. Nichols’ had previous roles in film and television, but her breakout role came when Roddenberry cast her as Lt. Nyota Uhura on the original 1966 Star Trek series. When the show first aired in 1966, Nichols was one of the first Black women to play a major role on prime time television.
She is popularly cited as having the first interracial kiss on American television, when her character famously embraced and kissed white leading man William Shatner’s Captain James T. Kirk.
Martin Luther King Jr. once called Nichols’ role “the first non-stereotypical role portrayed by a black woman in television history.”