Senators to introduce antitrust legislation after reports say Amazon's marketplace is unfair -- to sellers

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators announced Thursday they were introducing additional legislation targeting platforms like Amazon's marketplace amid news reports that say Amazon swipes product information from sellers to bolster its own brands, then favors those Amazon-branded products in search results. The lawmakers, including Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, plan to introduce a bill early next week that would prohibit platforms from requiring companies operating on their sites to purchase the platform's goods or services. The bill also would ban tech companies fro...

Boeing’s former chief technical pilot on 737 Max indicted on fraud charges

A federal grand jury in Texas on Thursday indicted Mark Forkner, 49, Boeing’s former chief technical pilot on the 737 Max program, charging him with fraud. The indictment alleges he deceived both the Federal Aviation Administration and airline customers by withholding information about the Max’s new flight control system, called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. “In an attempt to save Boeing money, Forkner allegedly withheld critical information from regulators,” said Chad Meacham, acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas. “His callous choice to misle...

Despite wary labor unions and conservative opposition, Boeing will require all employees to be vaccinated

In an internal message Tuesday, Boeing management told its U.S. employees that with limited exceptions they must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8 or face termination. "Compliance with these requirements is a condition of employment," states a Boeing internal presentation viewed by the Seattle Times. "Employees who are unable to meet these requirements, and do not have an approved accommodation, by December 8 may be released from the company." Stating that "employees must take action soon," the company laid out deadlines for the various shots: Moderna: First dose by October 27 Pfizer: F...

Nearly 90 percent of Washington state staffers have complied with COVID-19 vaccination mandate — despite protests

SEATTLE — With an Oct. 18 deadline looming, nearly 90% of Washington state government employees subject to Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate have complied with the order, according to data released Monday. Of about 62,000 employees, 89.53% had been verified as fully vaccinated as of Oct. 4, the new figures released by the state Office of Financial Management show. That’s up from 68% as of a couple weeks earlier. With a lag in the data and another week to report, the compliance figures are likely to grow before the deadline, despite protests and vows of defiance by a minority of di...

Costco brings back purchase limits on toilet paper and cleaning products amid supply-chain snags

Costco is once again setting limits on the purchase of popular brands of toilet paper and cleaning products, as the pandemic continues to put strains on shipping products from suppliers. Costco's Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti said the company was putting temporary purchase limits on toilet paper, paper towels, the company's Kirkland Signature bottled water and high-demand cleaning products because of "the uptick in delta-related demand." Galanti did not specify what limits Costco would put on those purchases. Customers at Costco's South Seattle store are limited to purchasing one pac...

Man shot in Washington as opposing political groups rally

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A man was shot in downtown Olympia on Saturday afternoon, on a day that two different groups of political demonstrators came to the Capitol. At around 3 p.m., two groups of people were arguing near the intersection of State Street and Franklin Avenue downtown, according to Lt. Paul Lower of the Olympia Police Department. In the course of a verbal dispute, someone in one group pulled a gun and fired on the other, striking the man in the foot, according to Lower. He was transported to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Lower declined to name the victim or say ...

As wildfires overwhelm the West, officials try to predict their path

WINTHROP, Wash. — As the Cedar Creek fire burns through the wilderness just west of this heavily touristed North Central Washington town, firefighters have used a kaleidoscope of sensors mounted on satellites, aircraft and drones to keep tabs on the blaze. Mapping wildfires — which can be notoriously unpredictable — and predicting their paths are key tasks for keeping people, property and the ecosystem safe. But no single tool is perfect for the job, officials say, and creating accurate fire maps via aircraft can take hours. Meanwhile, as firefighters around the nation battle a host of blazes,...

Amazon pushes back return to office until 2022, says company will 'closely watch' COVID-19 conditions

Amid an uptick in coronavirus hospitalizations caused by the infectious delta variant, Amazon has pushed back its return-to-office date for tech and corporate workers until January 2022, according to internal messages seen by The Seattle Times. Unlike crosstown rival Microsoft, Amazon will not mandate employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine before they return to the office. The Redmond-based software company announced earlier this week that it was pushing back its office reopening to October and will require employees to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus to enter the company’s U.S. of...

How Richard Sherman’s family, police and a gun dealer intervened to prevent potential tragedy

Content warning: This story discusses suicidal thoughts. Former Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman alarmed his family in late January with repeated threats to kill himself before the King County Sheriff’s Office intervened and secured an Extreme Risk Protection Order to secure his weapons, according to newly released documents. As Sherman’s mental health crisis escalated in mid-December 2020, his wife proactively removed Sherman’s four handguns and a semiautomatic rifle from their shared residence. But by late January he tried to acquire another gun, and sent alarming messages to his wife thr...

Despite Washington's labor shortage, thousands on long-term unemployment can't find a job

Like hundreds of thousands of other Washingtonians, Priscilla Bell, a personal trainer in Seattle, lost her job during the first chaotic weeks of the pandemic last year. But unlike many of those laid off due to COVID-19, Bell hasn't been able to find work since, despite an intensive job search that started when gyms partially reopened for the first time last August. Instead, the 58-year-old is among nearly a quarter-million Washingtonians who've experienced long-term unemployment during the pandemic — and who often don't know how, or if, they'll be able to get back to work. "My faith in the jo...

Washington State Patrol's toxicology lab ran tests in office contaminated by meth, possibly jeopardizing thousands of cases

SEATTLE — Behind the locked doors of a third-floor office in South Seattle, countertop instruments filled with dozens of tiny vials feed data to nearby monitors while performing scores of tests each day in pursuit of justice. The Washington State Patrol Toxicology Laboratory's sensitive drug-testing equipment analyzes blood samples taken from people across this state and others. The tests detect the slightest traces of chemical compounds and can help make or break an impaired-driving case, show if a rape victim was drugged or determine whether substances played a role in someone's death. But i...

Seattle police response to protests last summer made things worse: report

SEATTLE — The Seattle Police Department needs to find a better way to interact with anti-police demonstrators, including allowing officers to express solidarity with protesters marching against police brutality and racism, according to the first in a series of detailed critiques of the department’s response to Black Lives Matter protests in downtown Seattle. At the same time, the city’s Office of Inspector General for Public Safety, in the first of its “Sentinel Event Review” reports on local demonstrations that arose after the May 25, 2020, murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, said t...

Amazon to end COVID-19 testing program in its facilities

Amazon will start phasing out on-site COVID-19 tests at its warehouses by the end of the month, a company spokesperson confirmed Monday. The Information tech news website first reported that Amazon planned to end its coronavirus testing program, which during the brunt of the pandemic last fall aimed to process 50,000 tests from 650 facilities per day. Amazon decided to end its testing program because of “the progress we have made and improvements in public health conditions we are observing across the country,” spokesperson Kim Lafleur said in an email. “The health and safety of our employees ...

Uninvited to serve on Christian group's board after coming out, Seattle man starts nonprofit for queer youth of faith

SEATTLE — It was Alex Churchman's mother who found Beloved Arise first. She was searching for a way to help her 13-year-old, who had been questioning his gender identity and hospitalized after an attempt to harm himself. Ashley Churchman, who lives in Arkansas with Alex, saw an Instagram post by the Seattle-based organization, started last year to support queer youth of faith. She reached out to thank Beloved Arise for its work and ask for prayers. "They just wrapped us up in their arms," Ashley said. A Beloved Arise volunteer posted about Alex and asked people to send him encouraging messages...

'Jaw-dropping' forecast is warning sign of climate change's future impact in Washington, scientists say

SEATTLE — It's a forecast so hot that it left some seasoned meteorologists initially in disbelief. Weekend temperatures are expected to approach 100 degrees in Seattle, top 109 in Portland and reach 115 in Eastern Washington — threatening to topple historical records and upend people's lives. "Is this just the models being wonky, or is this a real deal?" said Joe Boomgard-Zagrodnik, a postdoctoral researcher in agricultural meteorology at Washington State University, describing his reaction to initial temperature readouts. When he assessed the data himself, "it was jaw-dropping." Climate scien...

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