YAY: POPE FRANCIS
With just five simple words, the new leader of a billion Roman Catholics around the world gave hope to the world that his church was moving forward. When asked about gay priests, the pontiff said, “Who am I to judge?” Powerful words from Pope Francis who might turn out to be the reformer about whom many Catholics dreamed.
BOO: SUBSIDIES FOR DEAD
There’s more trouble afoot for the Farm Bill. An investigation found that an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture distributed $10.6 million during a five-year period to farmers who had been dead for more than a year. And another agency that oversees the crop insurance component of farm subsidies sent $22 million to 3,400 farmers who died more than two years ago.
Meanwhile, House Republicans want to slash the food stamp program that provides food for low-income, but very much alive, Americans.
YAY: MEDAL OF HONOR
A veteran from Yelm, Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, will become the fifth living veteran since 2001 to receive the prestigious Medal of Honor for his honor and valor fighting in Afghanistan. The Joint Base Lewis-McChord warrior’s heroic acts during a fierce battle included exposing himself to furious enemy fire while dragging a wounded fellow soldier to medics.
Carter is now fighting another battle back at home: post-traumatic stress disorder. And he’s doing so courageously, by openly acknowledging his condition.
YAY: TODD MCDOUGALL
Future generations of students and baseball players lost the opportunity to learn from Todd McDougall, the popular Olympia High School coach and English teacher. McDougall lost his battle with brain cancer July 27, but his 20-year legacy at the school will live on. Whether in the classroom or on the diamond, McDougall taught generations of young people to pay attention to the larger lessons of life.
YAY: SAND IN THE CITY
One of summer’s most fun activities in the South Sound is just around the corner: Sand in the City is Aug. 23-25. The largest family sand festival in the region celebrates and raises funds for the new Hands on Children’s Museum. Why not put a team together and complete for the coveted Golden Shovel Award given to the best sand sculpture?
YAY: STUDENT LOAN BILL
It’s not a perfect bill, but a thumbs up to the U.S. Senate and House for passing a student loan bill that keeps interest rates low, for now. Students this year will pay 3.8 percent, slightly higher than the previously fixed rate of 3.4 percent. But the new loan rates are tied to financial markets, which means they could rise much higher in the future.
YAY: FOR TAKING ACTION
In this age of sequestration and diminishing government budgets and services, people are learning to solve problems as best they can. That’s the case for a group of people living on Black Lake, where invasive species are choking the lake. Residents will vote soon on a plan to form a lake management district to raise funds and apply for grants to eradicate non-native lily pads. The lake’s residents would be the main beneficiaries of a clean up. But others who use the lake for swimming and boating would benefit, too.
BOO: BUREAUCRACY GONE MAD
The federal Department of Agriculture now requires magicians to submit strategic plans for saving their rabbit in the event of a natural disaster during their act. But it’s a no-brainer, right? Just make the rabbit disappear.