A judge has denied a motion to reconsider Mayor Durkan's recall petition, which could remove her from office: The petitioners argue that Durkan failed to stop SPD's use of tear gas and chemical weapons on Seattleites, calling it "misfeasance, malfeasance and violation of oath of office." The argument from Durkan's attorneys was that she has no "legal or constitutional duty" to set policies for SPD. That didn't work out. Judge "Roberts said that the charge she allowed to go forward more broadly alleges that the Mayor failed to fulfill her obligation to protect the health and well-being of the community," writes Kevin Schofield in his analysis for SCC Insight here.
Durkan could still appeal to a higher court, notes Daniel Beekman at the Seattle Times. But if the recall petition doesn't get killed in court, the petitioners need to collect 50,000 IRL signatures from Seattle voters in 180 days. If the signatures are able to be quickly collected, I believe the recall could be a part of the November general election at the earliest. (That'll be a big one!) If Durkan is voted to be removed, then City Council’s president Lorena González would become mayor. The next mayoral election is in 2021.
Confirmed: It appears the feds have agreed to leave Portland in a "phased withdrawal." Then again, here's Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf in a statement:
“The Department will continue to maintain our current, augmented federal law enforcement personnel in Portland until we are assured that the Hatfield Federal Courthouse and other federal properties will no longer be attacked …”
Some caveats, via Portland Mercury reporter Blair Stenvick: "While troops from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) likely won’t be a presence at Portland protests moving forward, other federal officers will remain."
Congress lashed out at the Big Tech Barons today: Although their points for lashing out at the CEOs of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google were... varied. "Democratic lawmakers criticized the tech companies for buying start-ups to stifle them and for unfairly using their data hoards to clone and kill off competitors, while Republicans questioned whether the platforms had muzzled conservative viewpoints and were unpatriotic," summarized the New York Times.
The Republicans were fucking ridiculous: Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner complained that "conservatives are consumers too," as if Facebook isn't already a right-leaning propaganda machine. Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan complained about Amazon's Twitch banning Trump. He then threw many temper tantrums. Oh, and he brought up CHAZ/CHOP? Florida Rep. Greg Steube wanted to know why videos of "doctors" promoting hydroxychloroquine were flagged or removed on YouTube while "rioters" were allowed to post "violent" videos. He also wanted Google to fix his dad's Gmail filters. Seriously, wasted time.
Remarkably, one hour in... and no one had a question for Jeffrey Preston Bezos.
Pretty remarkable that the richest man in the world at the helm of a company like none other is testifying before Congress for the first time and no one has asked him a question.
— Monica Nickelsburg (@mnickelsburg) July 29, 2020
It took almost two hours for a question to be directed at Jeff Bezos: It came from our Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the first woman to speak at today's hearing, who succinctly questioned Amazon about its treatment of third-party vendors and this article published in Wall Street Journal.
Jayapal getting into real issue here. She’s explaining it well. Amazon has complete control over the store and can get loads of data that it can then use to compete with their-party sellers.
— Farhad Manjoo (@fmanjoo) July 29, 2020
And she did not disappoint:@RepJayapal: Does Amazon ever access and use 3rd party seller data when making biz decisions?
Bezos: i can’t answer that question yes or no. we have a policy against using seller specific data..but i cannot promise that policy has never been violated https://t.co/a7DtQeiCML
— Deirdre Bosa (@dee_bosa) July 29, 2020
Some video of Pramila today: Here she is grilling Pichai and Bezos. Lots of Pramila in Slog PM today but she stood out.
Local journalism is necessary for our democracy and we must protect it. That's why I'm concerned about how Google has total control of the ad market as the owner of the market, the ad buyer, AND the ad seller. That's not only a conflict of interest, it's harmful to our democracy. pic.twitter.com/prHWSX6c4y
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) July 30, 2020
Jeff Bezos said Amazon is still investigating whether employees may have used data it acquires from its third-party sellers to launch competing products — an issue that has prompted allegations that the company misled House lawmakers a year ago https://t.co/K2nEYaMmuf pic.twitter.com/fFfpU5etRs
— POLITICO (@politico) July 29, 2020
Speaking of Amazon... There's a new "Amazon Fresh" grocery store coming to the Central District at 23rd and Jackson, reports Capitol Hill Seattle Blog. The company hasn't confirmed the move, but CHS's reporting does. More on the distinction between Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh stores:
Unlike the Amazon Go store that opened on E Pike earlier this year, industry analysts say the new Amazon Fresh concepts will resemble traditional groceries with aisles of goods, delis, and fresh produce, along with pick-up options for the company’s increasingly robust online grocery shopping options. They’ll also represent an alternative to the company’s Whole Foods chain which opened a store at Broadway and Madison in October 2018.
I wonder if Amazon Fresh stores will also have these freaky things: Plenty of people will be rightly worried about Amazon Go's technology, so I assume the company is pursuing both of these options. Regardless, the goal is still to automate the grocery shopping experience.
Can an online shopping giant reinvent the real thing? @Amazon has created a smart grocery cart, called #Dashcart, that detects and logs items, so shoppers can skip checkout lines. I can't wait for this to roll out! Read more from @GeekWire at https://t.co/6CbDX3HtHB. pic.twitter.com/2Xg85nND5E
— Martin Lindstrom (@MartinLindstrom) July 24, 2020
Anyhow, back to Pramila, who did a great job questioning Facebook about its alleged pattern of copying and threatening its rivals.
"Has Facebook ever threatened to clone the products of another company while also attempting to acquire that company?" Watch Rep. Pramila Jayapal grill Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook's history of emulating competing products. https://t.co/Nsaog2gcCI pic.twitter.com/XUsKP8JGeR
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 29, 2020
Rep Jayapal: "Do you copy your competitors?"
Zuckerberg: "We've certainly adopted features..."
A Facebook employee who just texted me: "We’re literally copying TikTok right now."
— Ryan Mac 🙃 (@RMac18) July 29, 2020
Here are Kara Swisher's two big takeaways, both inspired by Jayapal's questioning: She's really killing it this week, riding off of yesterday's Barr questioning.
And when Bezos said, because he correctly surmised he had to: “What I can tell you is we have a policy against using seller-specific data to aid our private label business. But I can’t guarantee you that policy has never been violated.”
— Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) July 30, 2020
The United States will withdraw around 12,000 troops from Germany: People are pissed on both sides of the aisle. Former UN Ambassador under Obama Susan Rice called it "a special gift to Putin and a blow to NATO" and former UN Ambassador under Trump John Bolton said "Trump's decision to withdraw US Forces from Germany shows a broad lack of strategic understanding." So why is Trump doing this? He said it's because Germany is taking "advantage of the US": "We spend a lot of money on Germany, they take advantage of us on trade and they take advantage on the military, so we're reducing the force."
A lot of conservatives are crowing that Seattle is dying—again: But even Seattle Times' Danny Westneat argues: "Seattle has a ton to worry about as we try to recover from this pandemic. That our corporate overlords are about to turn out the lights just doesn’t seem like one of them."
Reminder: VOTE!!!!! Stranger writer Nathalie Graham reported today that only around 15 percent of registered voters in King County have voted in this upcoming primary.
SECB's primary election night coverage will look a little different this year: We'll still live-blog on Tuesday night, although this time we'll crash Zoom parties instead of IRL parties. Although the GOP has some different plans...
.@WAGOP's path to "insubordinate victory" includes holding in-person primary election night parties while our state fights to keep down its COVID rates.
"The Biggest Party of the Year... So Far" pic.twitter.com/l97jeToiAX
— Chase Burns (@chaseburnsy) July 30, 2020