Thursday morning's headlines

Dec 2, 2010

A new plan to deal with traffic-jamming snow and ice on the roads, A Fort Lewis-based soldier gets a court martial plea deal, no special session agreement - yet, and Grammy nods for Northwest bands.

Soldier Pleads Guilty in Afghan Murder Case

An Army medic admitted he shot at Afghan civilians at a Joint Base Lewis-McChord court martial hearing on Wednesday. Twelve soldiers are accused in the murders of Afghan civilians. 

Staff Sgt. Robert Stevens also admitted to lying in an attempt to cover up his actions. Stevens' plea deal means he'll serve nine months in a military prison. As the News Tribune reports it also gives investigators more clout in prosecuting the so called "Kill Team" case:

That deal requires him to testify against his 11 codefendants from the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. Five face murder charges.

Stevens grew up in Portland, and has served seven years in the Army. He'll be demoted to private under his plea deal.


A Better Way to Handle Snowy Roads?

With last week's snow and ice fresh in their minds, the State Patrol and Transportation Department leaders are teaming up on a new idea to handle the inevitable clogged roads.  A snowplow and a trooper will work in tandem at places where big rigs or buses get stranded.  The Associated Press reports

The agencies note that during last week's snow and ice, some of the most vexing collisions involved big rigs and buses on Interstate 5 south of Seattle. Those accidents blocked southbound lanes and stalled traffic for hours.

The first tests of this idea will take place in King County the next time snow and ice plague the commute. If it works, the agencies say they'll expand it. Last week's storm caused what many believe to be the worst traffic jam ever on I-5 in Seattle. Some commuters were on the road for 9 hours.


No Special Legislative Session Called (Yet)

The governor wants one to deal with the massive budget cuts the state will have to make to make ends meet.  Democratic leaders met yesterday, but don't appear to have a consensus on whether they'll call a session. KPLU's Austin Jenkins is keeping a close watch through his WA Ledge blog:

Reading between the lines, it sounds like the leadership will make another push with the membership to see if they can get agreement on several hundred million dollars in cuts that could be made before year's end. 

Senate Republicans announced their budget plan yesterday, including $193 million in health and human service reductions and $72 million from education.


Grammy Nominations for Northwest Artists

Local hard rock bands get some Grammy spotlight. Northwest acts getting a nod from music's premier awards, according to The Seattle Times:

Best hard-rock performance:

  • Seattle's Alice in Chains
  • Soundgarden
  • Them Crooked Vultures (whose drummer is Dave Grohl, formerly of Nirvana)

Best rock album:

  • Pearl Jam's "Backspacer"

Best Rock Instrumental Performance:

  • Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds' "Kundalini Bonfire" 

And the big winner looks to be Eminem. The rapper's resurgence is the big news of the Grammy nominations announced yesterday. He collected nods for best album, song and record of the year.