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FTX chatted about $500K in ‘dark money’ support after Sen. Murray fundraiser

Last August, as she was seeking reelection to a sixth term against a well-funded Republican challenger, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray stopped by an intimate political fundraiser at a swanky Washington, D.C., town house. The host of the event benefiting Murray’s campaign was Gabe Bankman-Fried, the younger brother of disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried.

A few months later, Gabe Bankman-Fried, his brother, and other top executives at FTX discussed a $500,000 “dark” money transfer “to help Murray,” according to encrypted chat messages revealed by prosecutors this week at the federal fraud trial of Sam Bankman-Fried in Manhattan.

Campaign finance experts say there are a range of legal options for wealthy donors to discreetly employ dark money to influence politics and policy. Dark money donors can engage in fundraising conversations with a super PAC that’s supportive of a candidate, rather than a candidate’s direct campaign staff, said Anna Massoglia, editorial and investigations manager at OpenSecrets.

Donations can also be routed to dark money groups that spend on thinly veiled “issue” advertising campaigns, rather than ads that directly urge people to vote for a certain candidate. This money would not be reported as a donation for a candidate to the FEC.

A line campaigns must not cross is a promise of money in exchange for policy change, said Washington State University political science professor Travis Ridout.

Ridout, who reviewed the Signal chats filed in the Bankman-Fried trial at the request of The Seattle Times, said it was difficult to tell what exactly was going on with “Murray folks” and the $500,000.

“One concern that I think would be illegal is a quid pro quo,” Ridout said. “You give this money, presumably a 501(c)(4) gets this money in exchange for you doing something for me. I don’t know if anything like that happened or not.”

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The Seattle Times


Re-Imagined Radio presents ‘The War of the Worlds’

The simple power of sound can be strong enough to transport people’s imaginations anywhere, or convince them of just about anything — even Earth getting overrun by creepy-crawlies from another planet.

Re-Imagined Radio, a sound-art and -storytelling project based at Washington State University Vancouver, has been exploring the way such mischief was, and still is, done for the past decade.

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Re-Imagined Radio will relaunch an entirely audio Martian invasion of Earth on the night before Halloween as it stages “The War of The Worlds” at Kiggins Theatre.

“It might be harder to spook people than it was in the 1930s,” said John Barber, the founder of Re-Imagined Radio and a faculty member in WSU Vancouver’s creative media and digital culture program. “But it was so effective, in its day, it’s been legendary ever since.”

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The Columbian


Science Now: Foraging rabbits

When your task is trapping a rabbit, you gotta be on the hop. Sometimes that’s easier said than done. 

“[The eastern Idaho] Lemhi valley [is] a high desert valley that runs along the border with Montana and it’s the sagebrush steppe environment which means it’s a mix of shrub and grasslands and it is just a gorgeous gorgeous intact piece of sagebrush landscape.” With support for the National Science Foundation, mammalian ecologist Janet Ratcliffe with the University of Idaho and a team want to understand this critical habitat from the perspective of a small but important long term resident: the pygmy rabbit.

The rabbits live in burrows under raised clumps of sage called moema mounds so they have kind of a tough life. … Putting themselves in places where they’re close to burrows, where they can quickly escape from predators, that’s really important.”

Sheltering from the heat and cold is important, too, but so is food. Sometimes they risk a venture into the open to eat. Lisa Shipley is a foraging ecologist with Washington State University: “Especially in the winter, it might eat 99% of its diet in sagebrush. It’s very nutritious. It has a lot of protein in it but it also has a lot of toxic chemicals. It’s the only mammal that can eat sagebrush for virtually exclusively its diet.”

Using tracking data from the collars and imagery from where and when the rabbits spend their time in burrows under the sagebrush and out in the open. maps like these can tell them a lot about how the rabbits use and ultimately shape the landscape around them.

Listen to the full story:
Science Now (FOX 49)

New course fills historical gap on American Indian Wars

A park ranger, two Civil War re-enactors – complete with knapsacks and a muzzleloader – and a college professor carrying a large map stood poised at Steptoe Battlefield State Park earlier this month to make history come to life for Washington State University students.

Their course, United States–Indian Wars, was created by [history department faculty member] Ryan Booth this year, covering a little-studied era in Pacific Northwest history.

Booth, a member of the Upper Skagit Tribe, wrote his dissertation on U.S. Indian Scouts. He was looking at an Army manual, and a back section listed all the conflicts in which the United States was involved from the country ’s founding to about 1900.

The majority of the conflicts were with Native peoples.

“We teach so many classes, but almost over half the conflicts the United States was involved in were conflicts against Indigenous people. But we don’t teach a class on this,” Booth said.

So Booth filled the gap and created the class. But it wasn’t easy.

The course covers a broad period from European contact to 1924, when Indigenous people were given U.S. citizenship. Normally professors have their choice of textbooks and a multitude of resources to draw from. But Booth found little written about U.S. Indian wars in the region.

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The Spokesman-Review
The Columbian
Yahoo News


Elk hoof disease goes beyond the hoof

A disease that has mangled the hooves of elk in western Washington and other parts of the country is affecting more than just the animals’ feet, according to a new study from Washington State University.

Michael Skinner, a molecular biologist at Washington State University and one of the authors of the study published last month in the journal Scientific Reports, suggests that treponeme-associated hoof disease, or TAHD, is causing systemic molecular changes throughout the animal.

Scientists examined knee tendons from elk to look for changes in its epigenetics – molecular factors that regulate gene activity. The analysis found significant epigenetic changes in samples from animals that had TAHD.

“It’s a much more broad effect on the elk than just its hoof,” Skinner said.

The study was the first of its kind for the disease, which only affects elk. It also notes that it’s possible the alterations are passed down through generations, and that it could mean mutations that make an animal more or less likely to catch TAHD are being passed to newborn elk.

The disease is particularly common in the elk herd near Mount St. Helens – roughly 25% of hunters who submit reports on elk killed there report hoof abnormalities.

Margaret Wild, a [micro]biologist at WSU and one of the other authors of the study, is leading a team of researchers looking at the disease. They have spent the past several years building out their baseline knowledge, from how it infects elk to how it spreads to what it does to the animals.

“Right now, we just have all these pieces of a puzzle and we’re trying to put them together,” Wild said. “The more pieces of the puzzle come in, the more clear a picture we’ll have.”

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The Spokesman-Review
The Chronicle
Billings Gazette