The Big One -- Mt. Rainier sure is purdy, but many of us forget that it's really a volcano. And over the past few years, scientists who study these things have come to believe the mountain may be quite unstable. The big fear isn't a rain of fire, but rolling sludge from an eruption -- the kind of thing that has covered over parts of the south Puget Sound basin over and over, most recently about 500 years ago. Currently, some 150,000 people live within the danger zone, with more homes being built daily. Public officials are rushing early-warning systems into place, but in places like Orting, that only means about a 40-minute head start.
"The bad news is that the window of opportunity is now open," Steve Bailey, the director of emergency management for Pierce County told the Washington Post. "The good news is that the window is 500 years long."
Bush and Bin Laden -- The new issue of Vanity Fair devotes lots of space to what was once a weird little footnote to 9/11. Remember reports that Saudis in the United States, including members of the family of Osama bin Laden, were spirited out of the country when no Americans could even fly? Vanity Fair confirms that as many as 150 people were flown back home after the attacks. Where the trail grows cold, however, is when it comes to finding out who gave the OK. Retired FBI officials are quoted saying many of those people would have provided important interviews about the whereabouts of Osama and the funding of Al Qaeda.
The story goes on to speculate that the decision came from the highest level -- President Bush himself. Bush I is extremely tight with the Saudi royal family, and Osama bin Laden's family is one of that nation's richest. Although the bin Ladens have renounced Osama, law enforcement believes that at least two family members may have been involved in fund raising for Al Qaeda. They appear to have been among those who were allowed to leave only days after 9/11.
Learn More -- In case you still can't decide how to vote on the strong mayor system recall, there's a forum tonight at Roosevelt School, at 14th and Bernard, at 7 pm. In case you hadn't noticed, our columnist Robert Herold is pro-strong mayor, and he'll speak on the system's behalf. On the side of the council-manager system will be Rob Higgins, the current City Council President.
In Case You're Wondering -- It's our policy to endorse candidates for many elected offices, but we don't make such endorsements in primary elections. So watch The Inlander in the weeks before the November election to see if you agree or disagree.
Publication date: 09/11/03