First all-female spacewalk team takes on space station repairs — and makes history

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch team up for the first all-female spacewalk. (NASA Photo) For the first time in history, two women teamed up today to take on a spacewalk. NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir officially began the operation to fix a faulty electrical power system on the International Space Station at 7:38 a.m. ET (4:38 a.m. PT) — setting a new precedent in the process. “They are an inspiration to people all over the world, including me,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. This is the fourth spacewalk for Koch, who’s been on the space station since March and is due to set a 328-day women’s… Read More

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Watch the first all-female spacewalking team fix faulty power unit on space station

NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch team up for the first all-female spacewalk. (NASA Photo) Friday’s first all-female spacewalk is coming later than expected, and also earlier than expected. It’s later, because the original plan for the first scheduled pairing of two spacewalking women had to be called off in March when NASA decided they couldn’t get two medium-size spacesuit torsos ready on schedule. Instead, the spacewalk lineup was shuffled to have the women working alongside male crewmates. From a different perspective, the team-up of spacewalkers Christina Koch and Jessica Meir is coming nearly a week earlier than planned, due to an urgent problem on the International Space Station.… Read More

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Cigna-owned Express Scripts buys Seattle-area health tech startup Verity Solutions

Verity CEO George Puckett. (Verity Photo) Verity Solutions, a Kirkland, Wash.-based startup that sells drug pricing software, was snapped up by Express Scripts, a large pharmacy benefit manager that is part of health insurance giant Cigna. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. Verity helps healthcare providers such as pharmacies and hospitals take advantage of a federal program called 340B that reduces the costs of drugs for eligible organizations that serve vulnerable patient populations. Express Scripts plans to use the acquisition to expand its range of 340B services, and Verity will continue to operate as a stand-alone business. Verity’s investors included Bellevue, Wash.-based venture capital firm Ignition Partners as… Read More

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Here’s why Microsoft just invested $1.5M in a North Dakota high-tech farm project

(Grand Farm Image) Microsoft is headed to the farm. The Redmond, Wash. tech giant today announced a $1.5 million investment in Grand Farm, a project in North Dakota designed to spur innovation around farming and agriculture. Microsoft will provide its technology such as FarmBeats, as well as its own employees that will help with Grand Farm initiatives, which include creating a fully autonomous farm by 2025. Here are more details from a Microsoft blog post: Over the next three years, the Grand Farm strives to provide workers with digital skills to maximize their employability; create high-skilled jobs regionally and globally; support start-up businesses; act as a convenor to drive ag… Read More

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Listen up, Seahawks fans: Russell Wilson says preparation tops tech after loss of in-helmet audio

Russell Wilson couldn’t hear anyone talking on the other end of his in-helmet communication system during a drive in Sunday’s game at Cleveland. But the Seattle Seahawks quarterback was loud and clear himself this week on how he navigated the tech snafu. During the newest episode of Wilson’s “DangerTalk” podcast, Wilson, alongside tight end Luke Willson, talked about leading the Seahawks on a seven-play scoring drive in the third quarter against the Browns. Wilson was calling the plays himself without any input from his sideline coaches. “It’s all about game plan and understanding who you want to get the ball to,” Wilson said of executing without offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer… Read More

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Seattle officials and activists protest at Amazon HQ over $1.45M effort to ‘buy our City Council’

Councilmember Kshama Sawant protests Amazon’s political spending at the company’s headquarters. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg) On a rainy Seattle Thursday, a group of politicians and activists huddled under a bright orange canopy that matched the Amazon-branded skyscraper above to protest the tech giant’s record spending on a consequential upcoming election. The group included current Seattle City Councilmembers Mike O’Brien, Kshama Sawant, and Lorena Gonzalez as well as candidates Shaun Scott and Tammy Morales. Democratic organizers and socialist activists also turned out carrying signs with slogans like “Tax Amazon” and “Defend our Democracy.” They turned out on a characteristically wet and windy morning in Seattle because of Amazon’s $1 million… Read More

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Bayer partners with Seattle startups Litesprite and Prevencio on digital health efforts

Litesprite CEO Swatee Surve (right) with her mentor Jeanne Kehern, senior vice president of digital health and innovation at Bayer. (Bayer Photo) Two Seattle-area startups were hand-picked by Bayer for a competitive program to create novel digital health solutions. It’s an endorsement of the region’s growing life science industry and of the potential for startups creating healthcare products with software and artificial intelligence. Litesprite and Prevencio were two of only 11 startups that beat out a field of 750 companies from 65 countries for the chance to collaborate with the German pharmaceutical heavyweight, which is known for over-the-counter drugs and prescription medications aimed at women’s health and heart conditions. Successful… Read More

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Cascade Seed Fund raising sixth fund to invest in more Pacific Northwest startups

From left to right: Cascade Seed Fund Analyst Milena Johnson; Managing Director Robert Pease; and Managing Director Julie Harrelson. (Cascade Seed Fund Photo) Early-stage entrepreneurs in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest have a new source of funding available. Cascade Angels Fund today announced that it is rebranding as Cascade Seed Fund, which just raised $5.4 million for an initial close of its sixth fund. The Bend, Ore.-based firm aims to make an average investment of $250,000 in young tech and consumer product startups. With the rebrand, Cascade is positioning itself more like a traditional venture fund, investing over a three-year period. It’s managed by 44NorthVentures, which is led by Cascade… Read More

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Microsoft and Nuance team up on ‘exam room of the future’ to end doctor burnout

Nuance debuted its “exam room of the future” earlier this year at the healthcare conference HIMSS. (Nuance Photo) Microsoft is teaming up with Nuance Communications to revamp hospital exam rooms with artificial intelligence and natural language processing, creating technology that will help clinicians spend less time documenting interactions with patients — a well-known source of burnout among health workers. Studies have found that doctors spend more than half their day interacting with the electronic health record (EHR). And more than two-thirds of physicians say that medical record documentation contributes greatly to burnout. Joe Petro. (Nuance Photo) “Physician burden has basically reached epidemic levels. Depression rates, suicide rates, divorce rates —… Read More

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An employee on Microsoft’s board? Shareholder proposal floats concept, board calls it ‘unnecessary’

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. (GeekWire File Photo) A shareholder resolution up for vote at Microsoft’s Dec. 4 annual meeting asks the company to consider putting a rank-and-file employee on its board of directors — citing “strained” relations with employees over controversial issues such as gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and government technology contracts. “Shareholders fear that these examples illustrate deficient responsiveness to employee concerns and low satisfaction at the company,” the proposal reads, calling for the board to study the possibility of having an employee join its ranks. Microsoft’s board recommends that shareholders vote against the proposal, saying in a lengthy response in the company’s newly released proxy statement that it… Read More

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