By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
Shanghai out of COVID lock down
Shanghai, a city of about 22 million, finished 65 days of COVID-related lock down as of June 1. Masking and social distancing were still required and theaters, museums and schools were still closed. Education, for the time being, will continue to be remote only.
The Housing Market
US mortgage applications fell 21% to a 22-year low. Rising interest rates are one reason. Home-buyer reluctance (if not avoidance) is probably a larger factor.
No matter the reason, home prices have largely levelled off and are projected to fall later this year.
For the first in a couple months, housing prices in the greater Tacoma area stabilized and even dropped.
Almost half of all Tacoma real estate listings reduced their initial asking price.
And in sports
The Denver Broncos were sold to a group led by a Walmart heir for $4.65B, a record sale for North American franchises.
FIFA announced that Seattle has been selected as one of several host cities for the FIFA World Cup 2026. The number of matches and rounds that will take place in Seattle should be announced in June 2023
In the UK
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson barely survived a vote of no-confidence. He was accused of lying to Parliament.
January 6 hearings
The House Jan. 6 committee investigating the Capitol attack/insurrection/coup/protest was obsessive, must-see watching for some and, just as obsessively avoided by others. To hear that a former president urged election officials to misrepresent election results or worked to get the Department of Justice to investigate accusations of elections fraud (the DOJ has zero jurisdiction, since election guidelines are determined by each state) was horrifying to some and, apparently, acceptable to others.
In the middle of June, temperatures across much of North America (and Europe, and Asia) flew past 100 degrees (F). Temperatures even passed 140 F in several areas across SE Asia and even a few spots in Europe. We, in the Pacific Northwest had high temperatures in the mid-60s for most of those days. And complained about it.
Yellowstone National Park was closed because of historic flooding caused by heavy rains and rapid snowmelt, which led to rivers that swallowed bridges, washed away entire sections of roadway and forced the evacuation of more than 10,000 visitors. This was described as a thousand year flood by some; a sign of things to come by others.
Juneteenth fell on Father’s Day in 2022. It also came during the week of record low tides on the west coast.
The tides were the lowest we’ve had in more than ten years.
If it was an omen, no one has yet interpreted it.
Last year we had tides almost as low, and record heat at the same time. The combination killed all of the exposed sea life. Fortunately, this year we had far cooler weather during our tidal retreat.
And Juneteenth, the commemoration of the day that the end of slavery was announced in Texas, will be our newest federal holiday.
You think you had a bad month
A 208 thousand ton cruise ship, able to hold more than 9,000 passengers – the largest cruise ship ever constructed – was just completed at a German shipyard. And thanks to COVID and other economic pressures, it is being sold as scrap – without a single sailing. (thepointsguy.com/news/record-size-cruise-ship-scrapped/)
Among other notable features, this ship was to have the largest cinema at sea with eight theaters and the first theme park atop a cruise ship featuring the longest roller coaster at sea.
No word on whether they will hold an inaugural/farewell party on board before the ship’s demolition.
The Supreme Court of the US, (SCOTUS) revoked Roe V Wade.
The Roe ruling established that a decision to intervene with a pregnancy was the domain of a woman and her doctor. It has been the legal benchmark and law of the land since 1973.
The 2022 Court gave the states the right to decide on the legality of abortion, changing the legal status of the issue across the country.
Several states had “trigger” laws that went into effect immediately after any SCOTUS decision.
Several more states are rewriting their laws.
In short, in many areas, from relationships to health care to probate, our laws are very different depending on which state you inhabit or work in.
Whichever side of the abortion issue you adhere to, it is, at minimum, a troubling sign that Constitutional rights can be eliminated at the stroke of a pen.
Needless to say, the “culture wars” currently consuming America were inflamed by this decision.
With this decision, the Court showed how they view rights that are not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. In short, any issue NOT specifically mentioned in the Constitution is subject to revision. From same-sex marriage to contraception to public school integration, laws and Constitutional interpretations are up for grabs.
One enterprising state’s Secretary of State (https://twitter.com/daxe/status/1541888696957411329) has taken this new interpretation to mean that citizen led state initiatives are “unconstitutional”.
Government intrusion in matters of relationships and health has apparently become the new benchmark for laws.
And when it comes to pregnancy, the well-being and bodily autonomy for those who are pregnant is, apparently, the first casualty.
SCOTUS also ruled in favor of a Bremerton based football coach publicly praying with his students, arguing that he had freedom of religion. This seems to be the legal standard – at least as long as your “religion” is on the (very short) list of government approved religions.
Fun fact: The ultimate irony about this verdict on prayer is that public prayer as spectacle is exactly what Jesus said NOT to do. Don’t pray like the hypocrites, to be seen by others (Matthew 6:5–6) is how he put it.
But if you do want to pray like the hypocrites, you know what to do.
The retirement of Justice Breyer became effective June 30. This opened the way for Ketanji Brown Jackson as America’s 104th associate justice – and the first African American female member of the Court.
Fun fact: On March 6, 1857, SCOTUS made what is known as the “Dred Scott decision.” It ruled that African Americans could not be citizens of the United States, and, therefore, had no recognized standing in the U.S. legal system.
Another fun fact; three current members of the Supreme Court, when candidates, committed perjury by lying under oath that they would uphold Roe.
If there is anything we Americans will be celebrating this 4th of July, it won’t be unity.
Deconstructing local history
By pure coincidence I am sure, two of Pierce County’s long time community gathering places and landmarks were scheduled for demolition; the Parkland School and the Lakewood Library. Both of these buildings, and the services they host, are well-loved by members of the local community and, each in its own way, represents (or at least has represented) key aspects of that area’s identity.
Revival of Unions
Joining Seattle based Starbucks, one Apple store (so far) has voted to form the first Apple store union.
Employees at a Trader Joe’s in Massachusetts have filed the company’s first-ever union petition. If the vote is successful, the grocery store in Hadley, Mass., would become the first unionized store in the nationwide chain of more than 500 locations
Collapse of cryptocurrencies
Along with the slide of the larger stock market, cryptocurrencies have dropped dramatically precipitating a loss of confidence in cryptocurrencies, the stock market and the economy writ large. This has also contributed to lay-offs across tech industries. This trend will almost certainly impact actual assets that most people really care about, like real estate, stocks, and even bonds and retirement funds.
Junuary, also known as June gloom, shifted on June 21st.
As locals know, our summer weather usually doesn’t begin until the last week in June. As if set by some cosmic clock, our daily temperatures jumped accordingly on June 21st to a balmy-for-us 80 degree range.
The rest of the world, from New Mexico to Siberia had been in full-blown fire season for a month or more.
Towards the end of June I heard a Puget Sound weather forecaster say, “We’ll have summer Saturday through Monday.”
For most of us who are locals, that was enough.