Here's your daily evening round-up of the latest local and national news. (Like our coverage? Please consider making a recurring contribution to The Stranger to keep it comin'!)
Jeff Bezos, a giant pencil with the eraser part missing, is stepping down as CEO of Amazon, a company that allegedly forces workers to piss in bottles rather than take a bathroom break. Bezos will reportedly move into a new role as executive chair, and will be replaced by another white guy, Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy. In a statement, Bezos says the new role will give him time to focus on "my other passions." Rich thinks Guy Palumbo is probably very happy.
jeff bezos is quitting to pursue his true passion: opening an independent bookstore
— Brandy Jensen (@BrandyLJensen) February 2, 2021
Are you planning on doing a little indoor dining now that we're in Phase 2? Let's have a poll.
Grocery store CEOs suck: The Seattle Times reports on a bunch of whining and complaining and cold-blooded bullshittery from Trader Joe's, Kroger (which owns QFC), and the PCC in response to Seattle's new mandatory $4 per hour pay raise for grocery store workers. Trader Joe's plans to increase its temporary raises by a couple bucks nationwide to meet Seattle's new $4 standard, but at the expense of giving smaller permanent raises later in the year. Kroger said the law "could put any struggling store in jeopardy of closure.” And PCC CEO Suzy Monford said they haven't "had a sustained increase in sales and do not have a national footprint to rely on to offset" COVID-19 costs and the tax.
A new ad produced by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee criticizes House Republicans for turning a blind eye to, or downright encouraging, the mob violence at the Capitol on January 6. The ad's kicker: "They stood with Q, not you."
Looks like Democrats are negotiating down the stimulus checks: After Biden's election, the $2,000 stimulus checks for everybody became $600+$1,400 stimulus checks for everybody, and they may soon become $600+$1,400 stimulus checks only for those who qualify, according to a new report from the Washington Post. Though conversations remain "fluid," a proposal from "senior Democrats...includes lowering the threshold for the payments to begin phasing out above $50,000 for single taxpayers, $75,000 for people who file as the heads of households, and $100,000 for married couples." Speaking only for myself (Rich) here, but what I love about Democrats is when they promise stuff but then renege because 10 Republicans call a press conference and something something Joe Manchin.
A coalition of over 100 different legal and civil rights organizations is calling on President Joe Biden to close Guantanamo Bay, an illegal prison that has held and tortured people for years without due process. In a letter, the group called the prison the “legal equivalent of outer space” and a "tumor that needs to be excised." Former President Barack Obama promised to close Guantanamo and failed to deliver, so we'll see what happens.
A new digital exhibition on how we can make Seattle more resilient to earthquakes goes live this Thursday: "When Seattle Shakes" comes from the Center for Architecture & Design. It will look at what the fuck Seattle should do with all its historic buildings constructed using unreinforced masonry techniques. The exhibition will be located at this website right here. Chase will have an interview up with the exhibit's curator and researcher, local architect Mary Waelder, sometime early next week.
Speaking of earthquakes:
The activity is enough to be "out of the ordinary," so Steve Malone has updated the Tremor Log with his thoughts (scroll to the bottom). We don't think this has any implications for changes in hazards or tectonics along the Cascadia Subduction Zone.https://t.co/0ZBmJBS3n8
— PNSN (@PNSN1) February 2, 2021
Japan leads the world in hospital bed availability, yet COVID-19 still ravages its hospitals: The country's hospitals are "close to breaking point," reports the Japan Times. That doesn't bode well for the Olympic Games, which is apparently still happening. More numbers:
So far there have been about 390,000 novel coronavirus cases reported in Japan, while the figure is more than 26 million in the United States, 3.8 million in the United Kingdom and 2.2 million in Germany, according to a Reuters tally.
But despite the relatively low number of cases, prefectures currently under a state of emergency are seeing about 70% of their hospital beds for virus patients occupied, causing serious strain on the medical system.
Alexei Navalny gets two-and-a-half years in prison: The political opposition leader, whose poisoning and detainment has inspired mass protests across Russia, has been sentenced. The move is part of a larger crackdown on Russians protesting against Putin's regime.
Seattle's LGBTQ and Human Rights Commissions want to talk to those SPD cops who attended the 'Stop the Steal' rally: In a letter to Mayor Jenny Durkan, the Seattle City Council, and the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, representatives from the commissions demanded that officials hold a public hearing about the five known Seattle officers who attended the insurrection prefunc. They're also calling for the Office of the Inspector General to hold a parallel investigation and to "use its power of subpoena as granted by the Seattle Municipal Code to receive testimony on the record from officials within SPD and SPOG, specifically the testimony of SPOG President Mike Solan." They want to know who knew what and when, and so do we.
Thirsty for blurbs? We've got an arts round-up here.
Stranger's Charles Mudede's dreams come true: He got to chat with Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, the star of the Canadian hit TV show Kim's Convenience, one of his favorite actors. "All I ask of those who watch our Zoom talk is that they offer my irrepressible giddiness their forgiveness," Charles writes of the interview.
Wealth tax proposal gets a hearing: Over 1,300 people signed in to testify in support of Seattle Rep. Noel Frame's proposed 1% wealth tax on "intangible financial assets" (e.g. stocks, bonds) valued at over $1 billion dollars. The law would tap money the state's 13 known billionaires wouldn't miss and deposit the haul in the state's general fund, where it might be used to fund tax breaks for workers that lawmakers passed but didn't pay for. Many of the people who voiced support for the bill, including several well-off and EXTREMELY well-off tech workers, proposed using the funds to balance the state's regressive tax structure, which forces poor people to pay six times more of their income on taxes than rich people. Only eight people testified against the bill, and one of them was Tim Eyman, so, you can guess how that went. Others who opposed the bill claimed the tax would chase away the billionaires and cost the state some money it will need to determine how much wealth these billionaires actually have. Seems like it's worth taking the risk.
Thanks for hanging out with us as we watched way too many Sundance films the past week: The awards ceremony just wrapped up. (A recording of the ceremony is embedded below. We're not sure if they're planning on taking it down soon, so don't yell at us if it quits working.) CODA swept the fest, winning the US Grand Jury Prize for the Dramatic category and a few other awards. (In addition to the top prize, it won $25 million from Apple.) Questlove's "Black Woodstock" doc Summer of Soul also won big, taking home the US Grand Jury Prize for Documentary. Other winners include Cryptozoo, one of our favorites, which won the NEXT Innovator Award and picked up a deal with Magnolia. Of note: the very cute Ma Balle, My Beauty won the audience award in the NEXT category.