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A blue wave or a ripple? 5 things to watch in Tuesday’s election

Democrats in Washington state are gearing up to have a big election night Tuesday. Just how big will it be? Here are a few things to watch for as the results come in.

Democrats in Washington state may have ample reason to celebrate Tuesday night. The August primary, which often serves as a predictor of general-election results in state legislative races, saw Democrats outperforming GOP candidates in 16 races for legislative seats now held by Republicans.

Meanwhile, Democrats are making strong runs for three of Washington’s Republican-held congressional seats, including that of U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, who is retiring from the 8th Congressional District. Elsewhere, Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is fending off a challenge from Lisa Brown, a former state Senate majority leader, while U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler is locked in a tight race against Democrat Carolyn Long.

President Trump has gone all out in recent days to stoke fears surrounding illegal immigration, including sending thousands of troops to the U.S. border to meet a still-distant migrant caravan and pledging to end birthright citizenship.

Cornell Clayton.

But those issues are unlikely to motivate Republican voters in Washington state—and could end up alienating highly educated suburban women, said Cornell Clayton, director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy at Washington State University.

This could hurt Rossi in the 8th District, which includes suburbs in east Pierce and King counties, as well as Herrera Beutler in Southwest Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, Clayton said.

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Seattle Times

Facebook, Google and Twitter shine light on campaign ads — but only so far

The companies acted under threats of federal regulation after reports that Russian operatives bought politically divisive social media ads under fake names.

A push this year by tech companies to open a window on the political ads that they sell has failed to satisfy lawmakers and researchers who worry that shadowy groups could still use the services to manipulate voters before an election.

Facebook, Google and Twitter all launched searchable databases this year that allow people to see details of election-related advertisements that run on theirs sites. People who visit the databases online can see videos and images from the ads, as well as spending data and, in theory, who is behind each of the ads. But huge loopholes in the databases remain, lawmakers and researchers say.

Travis Ridout.
Travis Ridout

Travis Ridout, a Washington State University political science professor, said the tech companies’ databases are better than what existed before, “which was nothing,” he said. But their efforts aren’t everything that advocates for transparency hoped for.

“They sort of have a bargain right now: that government will not intervene if the companies take some responsibility,” Ridout said. Whether that bargain continues, he said, “I’m not certain.”

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NBC News

In Oregon Governor’s Race, The 30-Second TV Ad Still Rules

Democratic Gov. Kate Brown and Republican challenger Knute Buehler, locked in the most expensive gubernatorial race in Oregon history, are pouring most of their money into a form of campaigning that hasn’t changed much in decades: 30-second TV ads.

Buehler, a state representative from Bend, has spent more than $8.3 million on broadcast and cable advertising while Brown has spent more than $7.1 million, according to campaign disclosure reports.

Travis Ridout.
Travis Ridout

“If you want to send a message quickly to a lot of people, then TV is still the best way to do it,” said Travis Ridout, a political science professor at Washington State University who is a co-director of the Wesleyan group.

Although an increasing amount of political advertising is being directed toward the internet, traditional TV still gets the lion’s share of political spending.

Kantar Media, a firm that works with Wesleyan to track advertising, projects that campaigns across the country will spend more than $3.2 billion on broadcast and cable by the time people are done voting on Nov. 6. In contrast, digital spending will total about $600 million in this campaign.

Ridout and other experts say politicians are attracted to broadcast and cable for a number of reasons. For one, older voters are still more apt to stick to traditional TV viewing—and they are also the people most likely to vote.

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In US, blackface far from a thing of the past

U.S. journalist Megyn Kelly got fired after she made comments on air that appeared to condone the use of blackface in Halloween costumes, a major backlash ensued, and she lost her NBC talk show.

The problematic custom dates back to about 1830, and so-called “minstrel shows”—white performers caked their faces in greasepaint or shoe polish and drew on exaggerated lips in a caricature of blacks.

David Leonard.
David Leonard

“Blackface was used to depict African Americans as not human, to justify and normalize and sanction violence,” David Leonard, a professor at Washington State University who has written extensively on the subject, told Agence France Presse.

“The history of blackface is one of violence, one of demonization, one of racism,” Leonard said.

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The Baltimore Sun

Archaeology offers insights into climate change strategies

Once again, humanity might be well served to take heed from a history lesson. When the climate changed, when crops failed and famine threatened, the peoples of ancient Asia responded. They moved. They started growing different crops. They created new trade networks and innovated their way to solutions in other ways too.

Kyle Bocinsky.
Kyle Bocinsky

So suggests new research by former WSU anthropologist Jade d’Alpoim Guedes and Kyle Bocinsky, an alumnus (PhD ’14) and adjunct faculty member in the Department of Anthropology, a senior researcher with the Village Ecodynamics Project, and the William D. Lipe Chair in Research with the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez, Colorado.

Their paper, published in the journal Science Advances, describes a computer model they developed that shows for the first time when and where in Asia staple crops would have thrived or fared poorly between 5,000 and 1,000 years ago.

When the climate cooled, people moved away or turned to pastoralism—herds can thrive in grassland where food grains can’t. And they turned to trade. These strategies eventually coalesced into the development of the Silk Road, d’Alpoim Guedes and Bocinsky argue. In some areas they also diversified the types of crops they planted.

With their new computer model, the researchers were able to examine in detail how changing climate transformed people’s ability to produce food in particular places, and that enabled them to get at the causes of cultural shift.

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