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The “peeing in bottles thing” is, in fact true, Amazon said Friday, as it issued a public apology for a tweet from its Amazon News account that suggested stories about its drivers urinating in bottles while working are bogus.

“You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us,” the company had said in that original, March 24 tweet, which was a response to a tweet from congressional Rep. Mark Pocan. Pocan’s tweet had said, “Paying workers $15/hr doesn’t make you a ‘progressive workplace’ when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles.”

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After being called out about its original tweet, Amazon recanted it late Friday, saying in a blog post that the tweet was “incorrect” and that it owed an apology to Pocan.

“We know that drivers can and do have trouble finding restrooms because of traffic or sometimes rural routes,” the company said in the post, “and this has been especially the case during Covid when many public restrooms have been closed.”

The apology could signal that the company is having second thoughts about a spate of unusually aggressive tweets it fired off last month. Amazon made headlines in March with snarky tweets directed at Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. After Vermont’s Sanders said he’d travel to Alabama in the final days of a union vote at an Amazon warehouse there, the company’s chief of consumer operations fired back on Twitter.

Read more: Amazon on edge: What’s behind its snark-tweeting of Sanders and Warren

“I welcome @SenSanders to Birmingham and appreciate his push for a progressive workplace,” Amazon exec Dave Clark tweeted on March 24. “I often say we are the Bernie Sanders of employers, but that’s not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace.”

The testy tweets appeared as lawmakers in the US and elsewhere are investigating Amazon and other Big Tech firms over what critics have charged are anticompetitive practices. The companies face potential regulation that could force them to break up their businesses or otherwise weaken their power. Amazon is also facing the prospect of a unionized workforce amid accusations that it mistreats its workers. And critics have said Amazon doesn’t pay enough taxes despite the fact that its founder, Jeff Bezos, is one of the richest people in the world.

Related: Amazon’s union vote: What the election at an Alabama warehouse could mean

In its apology Friday, Amazon said the bathroom-break problem affects drivers for other delivery services too, as well as drivers for ride-hailing companies. “Regardless of the fact that this is industry-wide, we would like to solve it. We don’t yet know how, but will look for solutions,” Amazon said in its post.

The company has drawn scrutiny from lawmakers and others this year over AI-equipped cameras installed in Amazon vans to monitor drivers and confirm their identities. A company program for disciplining delivery drivers, which surfaced around the time Amazon’s plans for the cameras emerged, reportedly mentioned “public urination” among actionable offenses. Some drivers have said they worry the camera program will increase pressure on them to work even faster and lead to punishment for behaviors that are hard to avoid under intense time constraints. Amazon has said the cameras are meant solely as a safety measure, with tests showing significant decreases in things like accidents and distracted driving.

More info: Amazon drivers must consent to biometric monitoring or lose jobs, reports say

In its apology post Friday, Amazon also said the original tweet “wrongly focused only on our fulfillment centers.” In 2018, an author went undercover at an Amazon fulfillment center in Britain and alleged that workers there urinated in bottles for fear that regular bathroom breaks might cost them their job. Amazon disputed that claim. In its Friday post, the company said fulfillment center workers can take bathroom breaks whenever they need to. 

“A typical Amazon fulfillment center has dozens of restrooms, and employees are able to step away from their work station at any time,” the company said in the post. “If any employee in a fulfillment center has a different experience, we encourage them to speak to their manager and we’ll work to fix it.”

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If you’re flying with American Airlines through July 15, be prepared.


American Airlines

American Airlines is canceling some flights through mid-July due to a surge in travel demand as the pandemic fades in the US, as earlier reported by CNN. Weather and labor shortages are factoring into the cancellations as well, a spokesperson said.

The airline apparently had 120 cancellations on Saturday and expects to cancel 50 to 80 flights each day. If you’re due to fly with the airline through July 15, you should already have a notification if your flight has been canceled.

For context, American Airlines confirmed it had a total of 5,930 flights scheduled for Monday.

“The first few weeks of June have brought unprecedented weather to our largest hubs, heavily impacting our operation and causing delays, canceled flights and disruptions to crew member schedules and our customers’ plans,” a spokesperson said in a statement emailed to CNET. 

Stay in the know. Get the latest tech stories from CNET News every weekday.

“That, combined with the labor shortages some of our vendors are contending with and the incredibly quick ramp-up of customer demand, has led us to build in additional resilience and certainty to our operation by adjusting a fraction of our scheduled flying through mid-July.”

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Satya Nadella speaks at a Microsoft event in 2019.


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Microsoft’s board of directors this week voted to appoint CEO Satya Nadella as the chairman of the board, making him even more influential in steering one of the world’s tech giants.

In a press release, Microsoft said the board unanimously elected Nadella to the new position. He replaces John Thompson, who will move into a lead independent director role, on the heels of a blockbuster fiscal year — and as the company approaches a $2 trillion market capitalization. Apple has been the only company to reach that value.

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Microsoft has a typically busy year ahead of it, starting with its expected unveiling of a redesigned Windows operating system next week. The company is also in the midst of rolling out its newest gaming systems, the Xbox Series X and Series S — which have sold out within hours of nearly every restock since last year.

Microsoft didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook and President Donald Trump in March 2019

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks with President Donald Trump during a meeting at the White House in March 2019.


Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Trump administration officials subpoenaed Apple for data from at least a dozen people connected to the House Intelligence Committee in an attempt to root out the source of leaks of classified information, The New York Times reported this week. The targets included at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, aides and family members — one of whom was a minor.

Prosecutors, who seized the records in 2017 and early 2018, were searching for the source of media leaks about contacts between Trump associates and Russia, the Times reported. Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California, then the panel’s top Democrat, was one of the members of Congress targeted, sources told the newspaper.

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Apple provided metadata and account information, but not photos, emails or other content, a person familiar with the inquiry told the Times. Ultimately, the data subpoenaed didn’t tie the committee to the leaks, the newspaper reported.

The report follows recent revelations that former President Donald Trump’s administration had secretly obtained phone and email records from a number of journalists, including reporters for CNN and the Washington Post. President Joe Biden said last month he had directed the Justice Department to end the practice of seizing phone or email records of reporters.

As it did with the news organizations, the Justice Department obtained a gag order that prevented Apple from disclosing the subpoenas, a source told the Times. Lawmakers only learned of the probe last month from Apple, after the gag order had expired, the newspaper reported.

Schiff called the investigation “baseless” and said it highlighted how Trump used the system to target political enemies.

“This baseless investigation, while now closed, is yet another example of Trump’s corrupt weaponization of justice,” Schiff said in a tweet Thursday evening.

Trump repeatedly demanded the DOJ go after his political enemies.

It’s clear his demands didn’t fall on deaf ears.

 

This baseless investigation, while now closed, is yet another example of Trump’s corrupt weaponization of justice.

And how much he imperiled our democracy.

— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) June 11, 2021

Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, another prominent Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, told CNN on Thursday evening he had been notified that his data was seized as part of the probe. Representatives for Swalwell, a longtime critic of Trump, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Apple typically receives thousands of requests each year for individual data from governments and private parties in litigation around the world. In April, the company reported that requests it received in 2020 had targeted 171,368 devices, a drop of 12% from the same time in 2019. Apple provided the information requested 80% of the time.

Representatives for Apple and the Justice Department didn’t respond to a request for comment. On Friday, however, Apple said it didn’t know that the DOJ’s subpoena targeted Democrats‘ data. The subpoena sought data belonging to a seemingly random collection of email addresses and phone numbers and “provided no information on the nature of the investigation,” a company spokesman told CNBC in a statement. “It would have been virtually impossible for Apple to understand the intent of the desired information without digging through users’ accounts.”

CNBC also reported Friday that Microsoft received a similar DOJ subpoena. “In this case, we were prevented from notifying the customer for more than two years because of a gag order,” the company told the news outlet in a statement. “As soon as the gag order expired, we notified the customer who told us they were a congressional staffer. We then provided a briefing to the representative’s staff following that notice. We will continue to aggressively seek reform that imposes reasonable limits on government secrecy in cases like this.” 

Also on Friday, the Justice Department’s independent inspector general opened an investigation into the subpoena for the data, The New York Times reported.

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