YAY: MLK DAY TODAY
What would Martin Luther King Jr. say about the proliferation of gun violence in the U.S. today? It’s impossible to know, but the words of a man who was himself a victim of gun violence may give us a hint.
“I believe that even amid today’s mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men.” — excerpt from his Nobel Prize acceptance speech.
YAY: BUILDING HOUSES
Thanks to South Puget Sound Habitat for Humanity, 33 low-income families will soon have new and affordable homes. The nonprofit broke ground recently on a 33-home community development in Lacey, called Wood’s Glen. It’s a unique mixture of houses, cottages and bungalows that will appeal to various types of families, veterans and people of all ages with disabilities.
Habitat is one of the nation’s most treasured nonprofits, providing people with one of their most basic needs: shelter. It’s possible, of course, because volunteers help qualifying families build their own homes. And local businesses play a huge role, donating materials and cash. Anchor Bank donated $50,000 to build Wood’s Glen’s first three homes.
If you haven’t ever helped build a Habitat home (no experience necessary), you should apply to help today. It’s a satisfying experience you won’t forget. And neither will those families that you helped.
YAY: TOP-DRAWER TEACHERS
More teachers in the state of Washington (516) achieved National Board Certified Teachers status in 2013 than any other state. We now rank fourth in the nation for the total number of board-certified teachers at 7,333. It’s a rigorous process to achieve NBCT status — and expensive. The state offers loans for teachers who enter the advanced program, but teachers pay the state back. Half of last year’s NBCT teachers took advantage of the loan program and will pay back about $500,000. That’s a dedication to professional excellence.
BOO: MILITARY SEX ASSAULTS
The same week the Associated Press reported a 50 percent increase in military sexual assaults in 2013, the U.S. Army charged Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair with 8 counts of forcible sodomy, indecent acts, violating orders and conduct unbecoming an officer.
Trying to find the silver lining in the 2013 stats, Defense officials said the increase indicates more women are coming forward as confidence in the military justice system grows. Maybe, or perhaps the culture of harassment is more widespread than they thought. In any case, the military must prosecute perpetrators vigorously and visibly.
YAY: TRUE EXPLORERS
How would you like a one-way ticket to Mars? Sounds like something an inspired parent might say to a naughty child. But more than 200,000 adults actually applied to Mars One, a private company in the Netherlands planning to colonize the planet for a reality TV show. (Seriously, we don’t make this stuff up.)
Last week, the company narrowed down its bold explorers to 1,058 contenders that included 297 from the U.S. and 75 from Canada. When Mars One eventually (ever?) blasts off, only 40 will make the trip, presumably with instructions on how to survive and procreate on a barren rock. Good luck.
BOO: THE POLAR VORTEX
How cold was it last week in the Midwest? It was so cold that a Chicago zoo moved its polar bears inside, into a heated room.