By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
The first week of October opened with the highest gas prices in fifteen years in the USA and crisis at Facebook.
When it comes to fuel prices, a multitude of factors led to problems everywhere – British soldiers were deployed across the United Kingdom to help transport gasoline in an effort to ease an ongoing fuel shortage, with that country’s Petrol Retailers Association reporting roughly two-thirds of its stations were out of fuel the first Sunday of the month.
Welcome to the Metaverse
Facebook, reeling from a controversial tell-all on the news show 60 Minutes had a 6 hour outage on the first Monday of the month. It cost the company about 160 million dollars. Mark Zuckerberg’s stock loss hit $6 billion. The outage included Instagram and messaging service WhatsApp.
It wasn’t hackers. It was internal gateway protocols and configuration changes.
With technical problems, federal investigations and multiple critics, Facebook did not have a good month.
And in retail
Dollar Tree announced it will sell items above the $1 price point; stock soars 16%, seeing its highest single-day gain in 21 years.
Dollarama, the Canadian version of dollar stores, sells products at select fixed price-points up to $4.00. We’ll see what happens on our side of the border.
Another step backwards
The US Postal Service, in a move that some say will make mail delivery slower than in the 1970s, has made a series of cost-cutting measures which include price increases and worse service.
The U.S. Postal Service quietly began offering paycheck-cashing services at several East Coast post offices in September, testing a plan that financial experts say has the potential to transform how low-wage and underserved Americans (especially those without bank accounts or with questionable credit) access their money.
COVID and “sincerely held beliefs”
Those who resist/oppose COVID vaccinations learned that few, if any faiths or denominations are rushing to defend their positions. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Scientists, and the Catholic Church have all issued statements saying their religion does not prohibit members from getting it.
In saner times, getting a vaccination would have been a basic civic obligation by those of any, or no, religious tradition. “Sincerely held beliefs” certainly seem to be more political than religious.
October 18 brought the full force of vaccine mandates here in Washington and in several cities (like Chicago) and others states, most notably California.
The choice given due to these mandates was to get a vaccination or lose one’s job.
In Chicago, almost half of police officers chose not to get vaccinated.
Many law enforcement, medical staff and state workers are losing their jobs in response to not getting a vaccine.
Almost 2,000 Washington state workers, across many agencies, lost their jobs as a result of state-wide mandates.
Washington State University (WSU) sacked Nick Rolovich, its highest-paid employee. Apparently 3 million dollars a year was not enough to convince him to get the jab.
The Pandora Papers
A massive investigation of 11.9 million records leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists sheds new light into the shadowy world of offshore banking and the high-powered elites who use the system to their benefit.
These layers of shell companies are often used for illicit purposes, such as to avoid paying taxes or to fund criminal enterprises.
More than 300 current or former politicians appear in the Pandora Papers, including 14 sitting country leaders.
Not all of these secretive accounts were offshore. South Dakota and Nevada are among the U.S. states that have adopted financial secrecy laws similar to offshore tax-haven jurisdictions.
Significantly, many of the United States’ richest citizens, such as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Tesla founder Elon Musk, don’t appear in the Pandora Papers.
Multiple Murder in Salishan
Tacoma experienced its worst mass murder in decades on October 21. Four victims, three from the same family, were shot by an unidentified shooter.
The shooting came one day before, and not far from, the dedication of a statue of Billy Ray, a victim of gun violence in 2018, at the Eastside Community Center.
Point Ruston has a “vibe” very different from the rest of Tacoma, but as of October 9th, Point Ruston showed its connection to Tacoma by having its first murder on the streets just outside of Dune Peninsula Park.
Arson at houses of worship
In a series of acts I never imagined seeing in Tacoma was a series of attacks on various houses of worship.
Beginning with an attack on a Buddhist temple at the end of September and then in October, arson at Tacoma’s Islamic Center and then St. Charles rectory.
It is unknown at this point if they were related or what the motivation might have been, but the bottom line is that no faith is safe unless all are respected.
Secretary of State Kim Wyman resigns
Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman has announced her resignation to take a key election-security position in President Joe Biden’s administration.
The office she vacates has been held by Republicans since 1964. Governor Jay Inslee will appoint a new secretary of state, who will hold the position until the next general election in November 2022.
Eviction Moratorium lifted
After more than 18 months of pandemic-driven eviction limits, Washington’s eviction moratorium expired on October 31.
The expiration of that policy will mean landlords can seek more evictions of tenants who fell behind on rent during the pandemic.
Seattle, Burien and Kenmore have local eviction moratoriums to last through early 2022.
Pipe bomb in Fife
A pipe bomb that forced the closure of a road and caused businesses to be evacuated on Halloween afternoon in Fife was disabled by the Pierce County Bomb Unit.
The pipe bomb was found inside a vehicle.
TPD at work
By the end of the month, Tacoma police found suspects in the Salishan murders, and the St. Charles and Tacoma Islamic Center arsons.
Rage, boredom and bigotry seem to be the prime motivations.
Car rental company Hertz contracts to buy 100,000 Teslas for its car-rental fleet.
This deal puts Tesla into trillion dollar territory – Tesla’s stock price soared after the Hertz announcement, topping $1,020 in afternoon trade and valuing the company at $1 trillion for the first time — more than Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Toyota and Volkswagen put together.
Teslas are already arriving at Hertz sites and should be available for rental in November.
Hertz is also investing in its own charging network, planning for 3,000 chargers in 65 locations across the U.S. by the end of 2022, and 4,000 by the end of 2023.
Facebook changed its corporate name to Meta.
That should take care of all of its legal, technical and public relations problems.
It’s not a national strike, but it’s pretty close. Hollywood TV and film crews, John Deere workers, Alabama coal miners, Nabisco workers, Kellogg workers, nurses in California and Oregon, healthcare workers in Buffalo and several more, have either gone on strike or have threatened to.
The all-too-visible labor shortage has allowed workers to demand better pay.
Many companies are reporting record profits.
Workers are demanding – and often receiving – better pay and benefits.
Two reports of a beluga whale sighting were reported in Puget Sound waters near Tacoma and Seattle the first week of October, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).
The two sightings were reported to NOAA Fisheries, with one coming from Commencement Bay around noon on Sunday and the other coming near Elliott Bay on Monday, the Orca Network said.
This was the first reported sighting in our area since 1940.
The whale is more than 1,000 miles beyond the typical range for beluga whales, which typically stay near Alaska and throughout the Arctic.
A record number of whales were seen across the Salish Sea in October of 2021 – including 21 humpback babies.
The numbers of humpback whales and the Bigg’s killer whales contrast with the critically endangered Southern Resident killer whales who share the same waters for a good part of the year. The population of the resident orcas currently stands at 73-74 individuals, near a 30-year low.
The three pods in this population of fish-eating orcas have struggled to grow in spite of three primary threats: lack of prey, environmental contaminants and human disturbance from vessel traffic and underwater noise.