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Daily Troll: Murray lyfts rideshare cap. Amazon's new smartphone. Starbucks new college perk. Inslee tired of Canadian sewage.

Plus, Milstead Coffee makes USA Today "best of" list. And what the heck is in 5-Hour Energy?

Mayor lyfts rideshare limits

Ed Murray unveiled a new rideshare agreement on Monday that lets Lyft, Sidecar and UberX operate without any limits on the number of rideshare drivers cruising city streets at any given time. This new agreement overrides the one approved by the City Council in March, which imposed the controversial 150-driver cap on the app-based companies. We'll have more on the story soon. — M.B.

Starbucks baristas got books?

Word spread this morning about Starbuck’s new employee perk — two years of tuition at Arizona State University’s online program — but the good news hasn’t been officially shared with the workers who will presumably benefit. “My manager said he had ‘important news,’ but skated around my questions,” said one employee in a downtown Starbucks, who was “awaiting a conference call for more information.” Jesse, 23, another Starbucks worker, expressed concern about Starbuck’s willingness to keep employees adequately informed about their options.

So, guys, here's what we know: According to a Seattle Times report, Starbuckers who work at least 20 hours a week on average — that’s the majority of the company’s 135,000 U.S. staffers — can enroll in any of ASU’s 40 online programs this August. Participants have to be college juniors or seniors — freshmen and sophomores are eligible for partial scholarships or need-based financial aid — and they don’t have to stay at Starbucks after they graduate.

“Arizona State is the only university that could stand side-by-side with Starbucks to offer a high-quality education, at scale, to all of our U.S. partners,” said Starbucks spokesperson Jaime Riley, about why the coffee giant chose ASU. Riley declined to comment on the terms of the partnership, or on whether Starbucks considered partnering with any Washington State schools. “To our knowledge, Starbucks didn’t contact us,” said Matt Haugen, a Washington State University spokesperson. —  E.W.

Gov. Inslee tired of Canada's crap

Remember when British Columbia promised to solve its sewage snazzo in exchange for then-Gov. Christine Gregoire's support of Vancouver as the host of the 2010 Winter Olympics? Well, Victoria flushed that deal down the toilet. The municipality refused to permit a $721 million treatment plant at the nearby town of Esquimalt, according to The News Tribune. This moved prompted Gov. Jay Inslee to send B.C. Premier Christy Clark a letter last week, reminding her of the province's promise to clean up its act. Victoria dumps 34 million gallons of raw sewage a day into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Despite Inslee's letter, the sewage is still coming. — E.W.

Washington wants 5-Hour energy recipe

5-Hour Energy has been claiming – on its bottle, in TV ads, etc. – that its energizing elixir doesn’t cause the dreaded “crash.” According to seattlepi.com, Washington State’s attorney general has joined attorneys general from 32 other states in asking whether those crash-free claims are actually true. The drink-maker has already handed over 59,000 pages of records in response to 18 subpoenas and civil demands from state attorneys, but so far no detailed recipe has been forthcoming. The 5-Hour label says only that the drink contains “B-vitamins, amino acids and essential nutrients” that create a “liquid energy shot” equivalent to a cup of coffee.

The drink-maker sued King County Superior Court earlier in June in an effort to block release of its proprietary formula. Previous attempts to retrieve the ingredient list have failed in Maryland and Oregon. There is some urgency to determining exactly what’s in the concoction; since 2008, 5-Hour Energy has been linked to 13 deaths and more than 90 reports to the FDAs of heart attacks, convulsions and even a spontaneous abortion among drink consumers. — J.B.

Uber soccer promo

Oh those crazy folks at Uber. What will they think of next? As Geekwire’s John Cook reports, the rideshare darling that just raised $1.2 billion in private equity funds is offering four soccer fans the chance to watch today’s World Cup match (U.S. v. with Ghana, 3pm) with Brad Evans, the Sounders captain who, alas, did not make the U.S. Men’s National Team this year. According to Geekwire, fans can enter the contest by typing UBERCUPSEA when logging into Android or iPhone apps on Monday - by noon. The four winners gto to watch the game with Brad at an undisclosed soccer pub in Tacoma. This latest Uber promo comes on the day Seattle City Hall is expected to announce changes to the city's current rideshare regulations. More on that later today.  — M.B.


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Comments:

Posted Mon, Jun 16, 7:09 p.m. Inappropriate

It is nothing short of astonishing how the gullible media, here in Seattle and around the country, have been to present the Starbucks story as a good thing done by a good company.

Starbucks for years has offered partial reimbursement for any college an employee wished to attend. Now employees either sign up for online courses at one school chosen by the company, or they get nothing. And the school that Starbucks chose is an online program from Arizona State University, the largest public university in the country (over 70,000 students). Currently, Starbucks employees get reimbursed up to $1,000 for tuition at Seattle's City University or the private, for-profit, on-line Strayer University. So far, Starbucks isn't saying what financial arrangements it has made with ASU.

There's plenty of grumbling about this PR stunt (here, for example: http://bit.ly/1i3sjtr). I'm disappointed that Crosscut made no mention of the downside of the switch and simply swallowed the bitter Kool-Aid.

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