Hawaii to offer its homeless one-way tickets to Seattle, L.A. or any U.S. city

HONOLULU — Hoping to save taxpayers millions of dollars in welfare costs, Hawaii is going to offer some of the state’s estimated 17,000 homeless a one-way ticket back to the U.S. mainland.

According to the Honolulu Civil Beat, Hawaii’s legislators voted recently to begin a pilot three-year “return-to-home” program in the state Department of Human Services budget.

To get a ticket home, homeless applicants must complete a background check, be mentally sound and have what the bill calls “sufficient personal hygiene.” An individual can only enroll in the program once.

Supporters of the program say it will allow homeless people to return to their friends and family on the mainland, while critics argue the program could be easily abused and that it’s not adequately funded to do any good.

Lawmakers acknowledge that it’s hardly enough money to run the program for one year, let alone three.

There is no word yet when the free trips will start.

(Originally published at kcpq.com)

Live Blog: 58th Annual Grammy Awards

The 58th Annual Grammy Awards weren’t as full as surprises or upsets as they have been in years past, but the event still managed to entertain and sometimes puzzle us. (Who was it that dressed Stevie Wonder and Beyonce?)

Kendrick Lamar, the favored win of the night — he had no less than 11 nominations — didn’t walk away with the coveted Best Album of the Year or Record of the Year awards (those went to Taylor Swift for 1989 and Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars for “Uptown Funk,” respectively), but he did take home five golden gramophones for his outstanding work on To Pimp a Butterfly. On top of that, his performance was, bar none, the best moment of the evening. 

To find out who did what, and when, check out our play-by-play Grammy coverage. 

8:26 pm: Pitbull shakes things up with “Taxi” and is quickly followed by Tay-Tay’s return to the stage, who closes the show.

8:24 pm: Queen Bey announces the winner of Record of the Year is… “Uptown Funk,”Mark Ronson (featuring Bruno Mars).

8:21 pm: And the winner for Best Album of the Year is… 1989, Taylor Swift. Clutching her gold-plated award, TSwift took the opportunity to make a swipe at Kanye West, imploring women to never give up — no matter who stands in your way.

8:14 pm: Video tribute to artists we lost —  David Bowie, Lemmy, Natalie Cole, B.B. King and many, many more — shows just how much great talent left the planet in the past year.

8:11 pm: From the Los Angeles Times: Hollywood Vampires: 185 years of rock among them onstage

8:09 pm: Common introduces the Grammys youngest nominee, 12-year-old piano prodigy Joseph Alexander. The kid dazzles the crowd as his fingers fly across the keys.

Iconic rocker Lemmy Kilmister left his mark on the rock ‘n’ roll canon.

7:55 pm: Dave Grohl, no rock slouch, introduced the Hollywood Vampires, the rockin’, black-clad outfit that features Alice Cooper, Joe Perry and Johnny Depp (joined by Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum). But not before he payed tribute to rock god Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, and admitted Lemmy’s influence led him to get an “Ace of Spades” tattoo. While Lemmy was largely indifferent to the Grammys, he would have been proud of the Vampires tribute to his signature song.

7:50 pm: Alabama Shakes bring the esoteric rock of their Grammy-winning song “Don’t Wanna Fight,” to the stage. And you’ve got to love Brittany Howard’s opening scream to the song — now, that’s rock ‘n’ roll.

7:38 pm: Bonnie Raitt announces the Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Ruth Brown; she then introduces Chris Stapleton, who she joins along with Gary Clark Jr., for a tribute to B.B. King with “The Thrill Is Gone.”

7:25 pm: Lady Gaga‘s tribute to David Bowie kicked off with “Space Oddity,” and quickly segued into a medley that featured “Changes,” “Spiders From Mars,” “Suffragette City,” “Rebel Rebel,” “Fame,” and other hits from our beloved Starman.

7:20 pm: And the winner for Best New Artist isMeghan Trainor. A teary Trainor seemed genuinely surprised to have won, although she was so choked up that it was hard to understand what she was saying in her acceptance speech.

7:10 pm: First-time Grammy-winner Justin Bieber took the stage for a heartfelt “Love Yourself” and then was joined by Skrillex and Diplo for “Where Are Ü Now.” Regardless of what you think of the Biebs, he delivered a strong performance that far outshone some of the evening’s previous acts.

6:59 pm: Hello! Adele is onstage. But my oh my, seemed like the British songstress was faltering there a bit. (Los Angeles Times later reported that her performance was plagued by technical issues.)

6:55 pm: And the winner for Best Rock Performance is… “Don’t Wanna Fight,” Alabama Shakes. The award makes this the first-time nominees third win.

Lin-Manuel Miranda leads the Grammy-winning cast of “Hamilton.”

6:47 pm: And the winner for Best Musical Theater Album is… Hamilton. And Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s rapping acceptance speech was the best of the night. Things are heating up. Finally.

Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar’s performance was top notch.

6:39 pm: Actor Don Cheadle, who recently played Miles Davis in the documentary Miles Aheadquoted the jazz master when introducing Grammy-winner Kendrick Lamar: “Sometimes you have to play a long time to play like yourself.”

Lamar and his troupe, shackled in chains and decked out in inmate uniforms (an apt follow to the cast of “Hamilton”), are nothing but themselves and delivered the best performance of the evening so far. They owned that stage, driving home why Lamar’s pointed narratives about our current life and times are so compelling.


6:29 pm: From NYC, the cast of the Broadway play “Hamilton” deliver the potent theme, “Alexander Hamilton.” The historical hip-hop account of Hamilton — adviser to George Washington, and a Founding Father who was shot and killed by his Vice President Aaron Burr — is incredibly compelling musical theater.

6:25 pm: Tori Kelly and James Bay perform a medley of “Let It Go” and “Hollow.” The performance is keeping with the rest of evening’s mellow performances. Betting Lady Gaga is going to change that.

6:15 pm: Tribute to the Eagles‘ Glenn Frey with Jackson Browne on lead vocals for “Take It Easy.”

6:11 pm: And the winner for Song of the Year is… “Thinking Out Loud,” Ed Sheeran. In accepting the award, Sheeran thanked his parents for flying to L.A. for the past four years he’s been nominated and their relentless optimism in telling him, “Well, maybe next year.”

6:07 pm: Stevie Wonder and Pentatonix pay an a capella tribute to Earth, Wind & Fire‘s Maurice White.

Little Big Town
Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” won Best Country Song.

6:02 pm: Ryan Seacrest introduces Little Big Town‘s performance of “Girl Crush” with the uplifting reminder, “Some songs fly to the top of the charts — this is not one of those songs.” The country act’s performance was top-notch, and the song’s delicately jaunty rhythms reveal exactly why this song did eventually make it to the top of the charts.

5:53 pm: Awesome shot: Dave Grohl grooving in his seat to “She’s a Brick House.”  

5:49 pm: The medley tribute to Lionel Richie is nice and all, but it would have been great to let John Legend finish the Commodore’s “Easy Like Sunday Morning” because he was killing it.

Chris Stapleton
The first-time nominee wins a second award for Best Country Album.

5:41 pm: And the winner for Best Country Album is… Traveller, Chris Stapleton. Accepting the award, Stapleton first thanked Taylor Swift for glitter-bombing him before he thanked his wife (and co-singer) Morgane. What we really want to know is if there’s any plan to give us another performance like the one he and Justin Timberlake did at the Country Music Awards.

5:34 pm: Selena Gomez introduces Andra Day and Ellie Goulding. Day’s voice could melt the coldest heart.

5:28 pm: We all wish we could sing like The Weeknd. But why so low-key?

5:25 pm: Ariana Grande introduces The Weeknd, joking “he earned it,” before breaking into song echoing the sentiment. @karrieraspberry nailed it in her tweet: “I applaud for owning that corny line some professional writer stuck her with.”

5:13 pm: Country stars Sam Hunt and Carrie Underwood perform “Take Your Time/Heartbeat.”

To Pimp a Butterfly
“To Pimp a Butterfly” wins as Best Rap Album.

5:12 pm: And the winner for Best Rap Album isTo Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar. “This is for hip-hop,” he said upon accepting the award. It’s no secret Butterfly eloquently addresses a number of social and political ills plaguing the country, and Lamar seems intent to carry on the real messaging that started with some of his Compton idols. Not a surprise win, but a deserved one.

5:10 pm: Host LL Cool J‘s opening monologue included shout outs to past performers (Adele, Lady Gaga, Elton John), a nod to David Bowie and a reminder that “with all that divides us today, our shared love of music unites us — all of us.”

5 pm: In front of a spooky backdrop and sporting a black sequined jumpsuit, Taylor Swift kicks off the 58th Annual Grammy Awards with “Out of the Woods.” Taking her seat after her performance, Swift got a warm hug from one of her BFFs, Selena Gomez.

4:55 pm: Host LL Cool J predicts that there will be plenty of chatter around Kendrick Lamar and that Lady Gaga‘s performance will be mind-altering.

4:50 pm: Andra Day gets mad props from CBS announcer on the red carpet. The soul songtress will perform in tonight’s telecast.

Lady Gaga
Hmmm. What’s in the bag?

4:45 pm: The goodie bags are ready!

4:30 pm: The red carpet is heating up as nominees and other notables arrive at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. There’s been chatter about Tay-Tay’s new ‘do (a sassy bob) and crop top while Charlie Puth did a little beat boxing and Justin Bieber and James Corden were shown rolling down the road singing “Uptown Funk.”

Justin Bieber and James Corden
The Biebs and James Corden get their groove on to “Uptown Funk.”

Carrie Underwood flashed some big and beautiful bling her husband gave her for Valentine’s Day, Tori Kelly chatted about her upcoming performance with James Bay and Lionel Richie said he was on the prowl to find Adele. His first words to her? Well, “Hello,” of course.

3:40 pm: Talk about charm, Tony Bennett humbly accepts his 18th Grammy with a smile and a chuckle.

3:30 pm: This year, it seemed like the Grammys just couldn’t wait to start handing out awards, and a handful of nominees walked off with a gold-plated gramophone before the televised event began.

Chris Stapleton
First-time winner Chris Stapleton won for Best Country Solo Performance.

Those nominees included first-time winners Chris Stapleton (Best Country Solo Performance for “Traveller”) and Alabama Shakes (Best Alternative Music Album for Sound & Color” and Best Rock Song for “Don’t Wanna Fight”).

Other awards were passed out to D’Angelo for his comeback album, Black MessiahLittle Big Town‘s “Girl Crush” won for Best Country Song and it’s no surprise that Kendrick Lamar walked with an award for his track “Alright.”

Other pre-show winners include:

Best Pop Solo Performance: Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud”

Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars
“Uptown Funk” duo Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars walk with a pre-show award.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: Mark Ronson (featuring Bruno Mars), “Uptown Funk”

Best Pop Vocal Album: Taylor Swift, 1989

Best Dance Recording: Skrillex and Diplo with Justin Bieber, “Where Are Ü Now” (Believe it or not, this was the Biebs first Grammy.)

A complete list of nominees and winners is available on the Grammys website.


(Originally published at blog.napster.com)

Dog has his day, commandeers parking enforcement scooter

SEATTLE — Not many people are fans of the so-called meter maids that putter around town in their scooters, doling out parking tickets. And it seems that one dog thought it would have its day, if not its say, when it hopped in one of the scooters Tuesday. (We guess that’s what you get for leaving your scooter unattended.)

Seattle police said they released the canine from custody after he commandeered the scooter to escape from a storm.

The dog had taken a seat in parking enforcement officer Stan Estaban’s scooter after Estaban finished his rounds in the Leschi neighborhood. When Estaban walked back to his scooter, the shaggy dog ducked in out of the storm, and onto Estaban’s lap.

Estaban tried to shoo the dog out of the scooter, but it wouldn’t budge. A group of people in the neighborhood told Estaban they had seen the dog trailing them earlier, and that the dog seemed to be quite frightened by the storm.

The dog didn’t have any tags, so Estaban called Animal Control and turned the heat up in his scooter to keep it comfortable. And in a sign of a canine-friendly solidarity, another officer dropped by with some biscuits.

Animal Control officers collected the dog and reunited him with his owner on Wednesday.

(Originally published at kcpq.com)

Catch him if you can: Man poses as U.S. attorney to get out of jail

SEATTLE — Identity theft is what landed Muhammed Tillisy in hot water with the Feds in the first place, but posing as an Assistant U.S. Attorney to get out of their clutches could have him facing even more charges.

Tillisy, who had served time for fraud, was released on probation in February 2012, court documents state. About three months after his release from prison, Tillisy’s probation officer filed a petition for his arrest after he violated the terms of his parole. Within a week, Tillisy was picked up and was being held in the Snohomish County Jail.

According to court documents, terms of his incarceration stated that if he were to be released for any reason, he could not be released back into the community.

An investigation in September 2012 revealed that Tillisy made a number of calls to an acquaintance as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington and the U.S. Marshals Service. In these calls Tillisy allegedly sussed out the name of the federal attorney who was prosecuting his case and then, posing as that attorney, contacted the Marshals office requesting a fax allowing for his release from the Snohomish County Jail  to “DOC.”

Once he received confirmation that a fax was on his way, he then contacted the Snohomish County Records Office and, again posing as the Assistant U.S. District Attorney, informed them they would be receiving a fax that rescinded the hold on inmate Tillisy.

The next day, Tillisy posted $25,000 in bail and was released from jail within 24 hours. However, his freedom didn’t last long — Tillisy was apprehended by U.S. Marshals two days later.

He could now face charges of one count of identity theft and one count of impersonation of a federal official.

(Originally published at kcpq.com)

Some medical insurance plans, rates approved for state’s new health exchange

hospitalOLYMPIA — Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler announced Thursday he has approved four health insurance companies and individual rates to sell in Washington’s new health insurance exchange.

Under the “Washington Healthplanfinder,” starting Oct. 1, 2013, in most counties, people will have a choice of two dozen health insurance plans.

The approved rates are 1.8 percent lower than what the companies originally requested, resulting in a savings of more than $10 million, Kreidler said in a statement.

“We’re now one step closer to giving Washington consumers access to affordable health insurance,” Kreidler said. “Many of the companies will look the same, but they’re going to sell all new plans with much better benefits.”

The following list includes the approved companies and the counties where they intend to sell:

Bridgespan – King, Kitsap, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston, and Spokane

Group Health Cooperative – Benton, Columbia, Franklin, Island, King, Kitsap, Kittitas, Lewis, Mason, Pierce, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Spokane, Thurston, Walla Walla, Whatcom, Whitman, and Yakima

Lifewise – All 39 counties

Premera Blue Cross– All counties except Clark

Three of these insurers — Group Health Cooperative, Lifewise and Premera — now also have approved individual plans for sale outside of the Exchange. Six additional insurers (Asuris, Regence Blueshield, Regence Blueshield of Oregon, Group Health Options, Time and Moda) have filed individual health plans for sale outside of the Exchange. Kreidler has until the end of September to approve these plans and their rates.

The board of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange will now review the approved Exchange plans to determine if they meet their Qualified Health Plan standards. A final announcement is expected at the Aug. 21 board meeting.

Kreidler said all of the approved plans include the 10 essential health benefits such as prescription drug coverage and maternity coverage. Also, annual out-of-pocket costs including deductibles and copays are capped at $6,350 for an individual and $12,700 for a family.

How much someone pays will depend on their age, where they live, whether or not they smoke, and which plan they select. Premium and cost-sharing subsidies are available for plans sold through the Washington Healthplanfinder, depending on income.

Only Kaiser applied to sell small employer plans inside the exchange and only in Clark and Cowlitz counties, Kreidler said. The exchange has granted Kreidler an extension to Aug. 6 to complete his review.

“For too long, people have struggled to find affordable coverage,” Kreidler said. “If they have insurance, they’ve continued to pay more, yet seen their benefits dwindle. The new plans for sale starting this October provide meaningful coverage and will give people peace of mind and financial security.”