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Amazon and Microsoft team up to defend against facial recognition lawsuits

Cloud-computing and crosstown rivals Amazon and Microsoft have teamed up to defend themselves against twin lawsuits challenging how the companies built their facial recognition software. Illinois residents Steven Vance and Tim Janecyk uploaded images of themselves to the photo-sharing website Flickr in the mid-2000s. Without their knowledge, IBM included their faces in a data set of 1 million images, called Diversity in Faces, intended to help train facial-recognition algorithms to better distinguish between people of color — something facial recognition tools are notoriously bad at doing. A s...

Amazon must address racial and gender pay inequities in its workforce, Harvard Business School petition says

Hundreds of alumni and faculty of Harvard Business School — the alma mater of many of Amazon's top executives — have signed a petition calling on the company to address pay inequities faced by female employees and employees of color. Amazon's commitment Wednesday to increase the representation and retention of women and employees of color in its corporate and executive ranks, among other initiatives, does not go far enough, petition organizers said. The petition asks Amazon to conduct a companywide pay equity audit and address racial and gender discrepancies in pay, promotions, and hiring; hir...

New Amazon data shows Black, Latino and female employees are underrepresented in best-paid jobs

Amazon published Wednesday the most detailed look yet at its workforce demographic data, showing what many critics of the company have long suspected: Black, Latino and female employees are underrepresented in the best-paid jobs at Amazon. The only segment where the number of women reflects countrywide demographics is among the company's nearly 850,000 U.S. employees working lower-paid jobs, including in warehouses. Black and Latino workers are overrepresented in that slice of Amazon employees. Amazon released the data as it announced wide-ranging workforce diversity goals for the next year. T...

Amazon says social network Parler is trying to conceal its ownership, new court filings show

Parler, a social network billing itself as the conservative alternative to Twitter, is seeking to conceal its ownership, Amazon contended in new legal filings Tuesday as the dispute between the companies plays out in Seattle courts. An attorney for Parler, Angelo Calfo, disputed that claim, saying the burden was on Amazon to prove who owns the social network. "This is a ginned-up effort to try to throw mud at Parler, when Parler has been completely clear about its ownership," Calfo said in an interview Tuesday. The legal battle between Amazon and Parler kicked off in January when Parler protes...

Ibram X. Kendi on the Atlanta spa shootings, the spread of racism and 'How to Be an Antiracist'

Many of us approach topics like race and racism with apprehension, discomfort and sometimes anger. For Ibram X. Kendi, founder and director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, researching, writing and talking about these difficult topics are all in a day's work. Author of bestsellers like "Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America," winner of the National Book Award, and "How to Be an Antiracist," Kendi has made it his work to uncover and learn about some of the worst actions and ideas in U.S. history. In doing so, he has learned that ra...

Navy grappling with bedbug infestation of nuclear submarine USS Connecticut

SEATTLE — Clothes got laundered, mattresses replaced and pesticides sprayed as the Navy waged war against a stubborn infestation of bedbugs that found their way onto a nuclear-powered submarine at its home port in the Bremerton area. Navy entomologists now certify that "all feasible measures have been taken" to control the infestation and have recommended "repopulation of berthing," according to a statement from Cmdr. Cindy Fields, a public affairs officer for the Naval Submarine Forces Pacific. This campaign aboard the USS Connecticut has included laying down diatomaceous dust to draw insects...

FAA safety engineer goes public to slam the agency’s oversight of Boeing’s 737 Max

Haunted by the two deadly crashes of Boeing 737 Max jets and his agency’s role in approving the plane, veteran Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety engineer Joe Jacobsen is stepping forward publicly to give the victims’ families “a firsthand account of what the truth is.” In a detailed letter sent last month to a family that lost their daughter in the second Max crash in Ethiopia two years ago this week, and in interviews with The Seattle Times, Jacobsen gave the first personal account by an insider of the federal safety agency’s response to the Max crashes. Jacobsen should have been a...

Meet Kraken head video analyst Tim Ohashi — the unheralded man who could help alter games and inform strategy

SEATTLE — Kraken head video analyst Tim Ohashi won’t soon forget the first time his replay-perusing acumen helped directly swing an NHL game. Before joining the Kraken last October, he’d been a Washington Capitals video coach for five seasons with, among other things, a nerve-wracking responsibility to tell the head coach whether to challenge on-ice calls. The Caps went 2 for 10 when such coach’s challenges — for offsides and goaltender interference — were first allowed in 2015-16, ranking 21st of 30 teams. So, Ohashi and fellow Caps video coach Brett Leonhardt weren’t exactly brimming with co...

Kazuo Ishiguro talks about his first novel in 6 years, one of the most anticipated books of the season

"The paradox is that you can create quite a lot of emotion, when you have a voice that isn't inclined to express emotion." Kazuo Ishiguro, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist whose works include "The Remains of the Day" and "Never Let Me Go," could be talking about a number of his characters, but in this case he's describing the main character in his new novel, "Klara and the Sun." Klara, the book's first-person narrator, is not actually a person but an AF — an Artificial Friend, for sale in a shop window in a not-too-distant future society. She sits, hoping for sunlight and for a child to catch ...

Herrera Beutler’s valor and honesty set national example

After months of reckless lies about election integrity culminated in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, a national reckoning is in order. U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., showed the way toward accountability during former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. She has suffered unjustly for it ever since. On Feb. 12, the eve of the trial, Herrera Beutler threw off partisan handcuffs, not only volunteering information useful for his prosecution but calling on others to do the same. This act ensured proceedings — and history — would include a more complete account. The nat...

'Sisters in Hate' author Seyward Darby on the roots of the Capitol riot — and how to stop hate groups

In her book "Sisters in Hate," author Seyward Darby investigates the roots of white nationalism in America with much-needed rigor, examining what draws people into hate movements — and what makes them leave. In the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Darby's coverage contextualized the overlap between widespread disinformation and the opportunistic ideology of hate. Here's what she had to say about the long roots of the Capitol attack, what it says about American history, and what to do if someone you love gets sucked into the white nationalism-adjacent world of extreme online...

Gray whales learn daring feeding strategy in Puget Sound: Digging for ghost shrimp at high tide

SEATTLE — Every spring, a small group of about a dozen gray whales pauses along an epic migration from calving lagoons in Baja California to their feeding grounds in the Arctic. They travel more than 170 miles off their coastal migration route, to stop off in northern Puget Sound. There, they linger from about March through May. Now scientists think they know why the Sounders, as this beloved group of regulars is known, likes to visit — and hang around. New research confirms these whales have figured out a brilliant feeding strategy. Combining drone photography with long-term data on the Sound...

People are more likely to believe sexual harassment claims from women who are 'conventionally attractive,' study says

SEATTLE — No one could get over the drawing of the woman holding a martini. Or her long, slightly mussed hair, her big lips, her long lashes and hourglass figure. Of course she would be sexually harassed, the study participants thought. As for the drawing of the other person? The one with dots for eyes, the Beatles moptop, the skinny pants and more androgynous physical features? No way would anyone hit on her, say something inappropriate or use her gender to keep her from getting somewhere in life, they thought. And that is exactly the point. When two University of Washington researchers asked...

Hospitals in Washington state send N95 masks to 3M for testing and discover many are knockoffs

SEATTLE — Dozens of hospitals in Washington state have learned that N95 respirator masks believed to be purchased from 3M are knockoffs and were not manufactured by the company. After receiving notice from 3M about the possibility that some masks were counterfeit, the Washington State Hospital Association on Friday alerted the state’s hospitals and asked them to pull potentially affected masks from their supplies. WSHA asked the state’s 115 hospitals to sort through their mask supplies and several have sent masks to 3M for testing. This weekend, the company confirmed that some were counterfeit...

White folks trashed the Capitol -- but guess who cleaned it up?

The images speak for themselves. There was Korean American U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, on the floor of the Capitol rotunda after midnight, picking up the pro-Trump detritus and trash left behind by a mob set to overturn the results of a fair election. Earlier that day, Black U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, having evacuated the House chamber, sheltered with colleagues and feared a superspreader epilogue to the attack if other Congress members and staff did not put on masks. She went around the room trying to hand out masks and was not only refused, but laughed at in a now-viral video. A Black Capitol P...

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