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Sears files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

Sears Holdings has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in White Plains, New York, multiple news outlets are reporting.

The iconic company, which owns Sears and Kmart, said early Monday that it will shutter 142 of its stores “near the end of the year” in addition to 46 closures announced this summer. A list of the affected locations was not immediately available.

As of August, Sears Holdings owned 506 Sears stores and 360 Kmart locations, USA Today reported.

>> PREVIOUSLY: 46 Sears, Kmart stores to close nationwide in November

The company also announced Monday that Eddie Lampert “has stepped down from his role as chief executive officer of the company” but “will remain chairman of the board,” according to a news release.

"Over the last several years, we have worked hard to transform our business and unlock the value of our assets," Lampert said in a statement. "While we have made progress, the plan has yet to deliver the results we have desired, and addressing the Company's immediate liquidity needs has impacted our efforts to become a profitable and more competitive retailer. 

>> Read more trending news 

He added: "As we look toward the holiday season, Sears and Kmart stores remain open for business and our dedicated associates look forward to serving our members and customers."

Read more here or here.

Nike offers pro contract to Oregon runner with cerebral palsy

A runner at the University of Oregon became the first professional athlete with cerebral palsy to sign a contract with Nike, Sports Illustrated reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Justin Gallegos, a 20-year-old junior, thought he was being filmed for completing a cross country race for the university’s running club last Saturday. Instead, cameras captured the moment as John Douglas, Nike’s Insights director, handed Gallegos a contract.

In a video that has since gone viral, Gallegos sinks to his knees in joy as his teammates applaud.

“You don’t realize how realistic and emotional your dreams are until they play out before your very eyes!” Gallegos wrote on Instagram.

Gallegos began running as a ninth-grader. One of his coaches had gone to the University of Oregon, so Gallegos decided to attend the school and join the running club, Running magazine reported.

Gallegos used a walker as a child and endured plenty of physical therapy to improve his walk, the magazine reported.

He was noticed by Nike when he attended high school in California, and he has helped the athletic retail giant develop a shoe for runners with disabilities, called the FlyEase, Running reported.

Gallego said he was stunned by the contract offer from Nike.

“I’m still at a loss for words,” Gallego wrote on Instagram. “Beyond blessed to officially represent the swoosh!”

The video was released Oct. 6 to coincide with World Cerebral Palsy Day, Sports Illustrated reported.

Colin Kaepernick's company files for trademark to former QB's image

Colin Kaepernick’s company, Inked Flash, filed for the trademark to a black-and-white image of the former NFL quarterback’s face and hair, ESPN reported Wednesday.

>> Read more trending news 

Inked Flash filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Friday, but it appeared for the first time on the patent office’s website Wednesday. The company’s intent is to use Kaepernick’s image on items such as shampoo, hairspray, jewelry and even lampshades.

Other items include mugs, plates, bowls, drinking glasses. water bottles, tins, afro picks, brushes and combs, coasters, pillowcases, blankets, towels and handkerchiefs, according to the patent office website.

>> Colin Kaepernick face of Nike’s 30th anniversary ‘Just Do It’ campaign

The filing also says the image could be used in association with "providing classes, workshops, seminars and camps in the field of self-empowerment and awareness to properly interact with law enforcement"

Kaepernick became the face of Nike's “Just Do It” 30th anniversary campaign last month. He also has been marketing his own merchandise, including jerseys with the slogan #ImwithKap on them.

The decision to use Kaepernick as the face of its brand was a polarizing move for Nike. Some fans said they would shun the product, while others said they were more likely to buy Nike items as a result.

Kaepernick has not played in the NFL since the 2016 season.

Kia Soul seeing alarming number of car fires, experts say

A Georgia woman said her son barely escaped with his life after fire engulfed her Kia Soul on Atlanta's Downtown Connector.

>> Watch the news report here

"Oh my God," said Shakeria Warren, of Clayton County, as WSB-TV consumer investigator Jim Strickland showed her pictures of the scene shot by a WSB-TV investigative producer in a nearby car. Warren's son had been driving at the time of the incident.

>> On WSBTV.com: String of engine fires tied to vehicles from Georgia plant, investigation finds

"When I got to the car, it was totaled, like maybe you can scoop it up with a shovel," Warren said.

Safety advocates said the 2010-2015 Soul should be included with other models being investigated for fire risk.

In petitioning for a separate investigation, the Center for Auto Safety said two dozen Kia Soul fires is an "especially alarming number," since fewer than 700,000 were sold in the U.S.

"It’s clear that it’s a defect issue. I think the larger question is what is causing the problem," said the center’s executive director, Jason Levine.

>> Read more trending news 

Federal safety regulators have only committed to reviewing whether the fires are related to a series of engine recalls already on the books.

The Kia Soul had no such recall, nor did the 2011 Kia Sorento, of which 12 have burned. The latest reported case occurred in Habersham County last month.

A Kia spokesman emailed Strickland and said the company is working with Warren. There was no comment about the call for an investigation.

Hurricane Michael: Delta caps some airfares due to storm

Delta Air Lines says it is capping airfares for travel to and from certain cities in Florida and Alabama later this week due to Hurricane Michael.

>> Hurricane Michael: Live updates

Atlanta-based Delta said it is capping fares at $299 each way Oct. 9-11 for coach class to and from Pensacola, Panama City, Destin-Fort Walton Beach and Tallahassee, Florida; and Mobile, Alabama.

>> On AJC.com: Delta, Southwest warn Hurricane Michael could disrupt flights

First-class fares are capped at $499 each way for those cities during that Tuesday-Thursday time period.

>> Read more trending news 

Delta is also waiving certain change fees for passengers flying to, from or through those cities Tuesday or Wednesday who want to change their plans to avoid the storm. 

Hurricane Michael: Delta, Southwest warn storm could disrupt flights

Delta Air Lines is warning flights in Florida and Alabama could be disrupted by Hurricane Michael.

>> Hurricane Michael: Live updates

Atlanta-based Delta said flights to, from or through Florida's Fort Walton Beach, Panama City, Pensacola and Tallahassee, as well as Mobile, Alabama, could be affected by the hurricane.

Delta passengers with flights booked to, from or through those cities on Tuesday or Wednesday can change their itineraries to avoid the storm without paying certain change fees.

>> On AJC.com: Delta caps some air fares due to Hurricane Michael

The airline said it is monitoring the storm, which is predicted to move through south Georgia and the Carolinas “by mid-week into Friday as the storm weakens,” according to the carrier.

Meanwhile, Dallas-based Southwest warned that flights could be disrupted in Atlanta through Friday. Flights also could be disrupted through Tuesday in Cancun, Mexico, and Havana, Cuba; and from Tuesday through Thursday in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Panama City and Pensacola, Florida, according to Southwest. 

>> Read more trending news 

Flights may be delayed, diverted or canceled, the airline said.

Southwest said customers who have flights booked to, from or through those cities on those dates can rebook without paying an additional charge, under certain restrictions.

T-Pain calls out Delta Air Lines for its music; Delta claps back

When rapper T-Pain was boarding a Delta flight last month, he was anything but thrilled to be hearing the same songs the airline often plays.

So he did what most people do these days: He tweeted about it.

>> On AJC.com: Rap star questioned after gun was found in his bag at Atlanta airport

“@Delta we gotta change these boarding/taxiing songs more often guys. All of Us Million milers (quick brag) have to hear these same joints multiple times a day," he wrote. "I gotta go perform in the staples center in a minute and Adele just put me in the weirdest mood. Now I’m crying. Thanx.”

>> See the tweet here

The person running Delta’s Twitter account responded in a good-natured way.

“Our boarding/taxing songs are intended to provide a relaxing experience. Can you imagine what would ensue if we played ‘buy u a drank’ (a personal fave), with everyone snappin’ their fingers and what not? We’d never get anywhere on time. Necessary sacrifices, Mr. Pain. *HBN”

>> See the response here

>> On AJC.com: T-Pain sues label, saying he wasn’t paid royalties for fifth album ‘Oblivion’

“Mr. Pain” (his real name is Faheem Rasheed Najm) and Delta exchanged a few more tweets before takeoff. But Delta had a surprise in store for the rapper.

When T-Pain arrived back in Atlanta this weekend after a trip to Los Angeles, he removed his headphones to hear “Buy U a Drank” playing over the the speakers on the plane.

>> Read more trending news 

“We just landing back in Atlanta from LAX and @delta decided they wanna show out and starts blastin 'Buy u a drank' over the speakers in the plane. Not gon lie it felt pretty (expletive) cool. Made me chuckle like a lil girl,” he wrote on a video post on Instagram

“Delta lit,” he said in the video.

Delta hoping to offer free in-flight Wi-Fi, CEO says

Delta Air Lines hopes to offer free in-flight Wi-Fi to all of its passengers, the company’s chairman said Friday.

>> Read more trending news 

Chief Operating Officer Ed Bastian told an audience at the Skift Global Forum that while there was no specific timeline for the free connectivity, it would happen soon, Forbes reported.

“I don’t know of anywhere else, besides in an airplane, that you can’t get free Wi-Fi,” Bastian said. “We’re going to make it free.”

The Atlanta-based airline launched Wi-Fi service for international flights in 2014 five years after beginning Wi-Fi service on domestic flights. Customers desiring Wi-Fi had to pay a fee.

Working remotely can be advantageous for those in business flying on international flights or for those who fly regularly, Forbes reported.

Some companies, like Philippine Airlines and Qatar Airways, offer free Wi-Fi for a limited time, the magazine reported. Other companies, like Scandinavian Airlines and Turkish Airlines, offer free Wi-Fi to frequent flyers while charging other passengers, Forbes reported.

Delta leads in global rankings of Wi-Fi accessible total available seat miles, the magazine reported. United is second; JetBlue has been offering free in-flight Wi-Fi since early 2017.

Starbucks baristas say they were poked by discarded drug needles

Image after image provided to Seattle's KIRO-TV reveal what three baristas claim they dispose of nearly every day while on the job at Starbucks: hypodermic needles they say were left behind by drug users.

>> Watch the news report here

All three employees also produced hospital, pharmacy and insurance receipts that show they took anti-viral medications to protect them from AIDS and hepatitis – after all three were poked by needles while on the job.

"(Needle users) put them in the tampon disposal boxes in the bathrooms, and we have to dig them out,” one barista recently said.

The three baristas all spoke with KIRO

Only one was willing to be interviewed on camera, as long as her identity was hidden. 

“I don’t want to lose my job for being the only one willing to say, 'Someone listen to me. Do something about this. My friends are at risk,'" she said.

At the employees' north Seattle-area Starbucks, co-workers document when needles are found, leaving notes asking, "How many more baristas have to get poked before we get disposals in bathrooms?"

For a while, they even shared medication to avoid illness if pricked because in the past 12 months, three baristas have been, according to medical documents provided to KIRO

That practice was abandoned as soon as the employees learned sharing medication could get their manager in trouble.

However, the frustration remains. 

“That’s three of us now, in one location,” the barista who spoke on camera said. 

She and the two other baristas would like Starbucks to install locked needle disposal boxes in all restrooms, especially in cafes, where drug use is more common. 

“I’m pretty sure it looks worse to have your baristas continuously exposed to HIV and hep C and hep B” than to have locked boxes for needle disposal in areas open to the public, the barista said. 

Starbucks spokesman Reggie Borges confirmed to KIRO that at least two Seattle-area baristas have been poked by hypodermic needles while on the job, but Borges claims that since early 2017, all employees have been retrained on what steps to take when hypodermic needles are found.

He also disputed baristas’ claims they must “dig” needles out of trash bins. If an employee is "ever in a position where they don't feel comfortable completing a task, they are empowered to remove themselves from the situation and alert a manager," according to Borges, who would not agree to an on-camera interview.

KIRO confirmed that Starbucks made the training changes after a 2016 investigation by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries fined the company and determined it was not ensuring "that regulated waste, such as contaminated hypodermic syringes, are handled properly and safely” at Starbucks’ 6th and Pine location in downtown Seattle.

There are “requirements for employers to make sure they’re protecting their employees and not let this happen to them, if at all possible,” according to L&I spokesperson Tim Church.

>> Starbucks to phase out plastic straws at all locations

When asked if L&I is satisfied with how Starbucks is protecting its employees now, Church said, “In the situation we cited and fined them for, clearly they understood the issues and told us they were moving ahead with the things we pointed out to them.”

Safe needle disposal is certainly not just a challenge for Starbucks. 

With intravenous drug use on the rise, locked needle disposal boxes are widely sold online. 

Many Seattle parks now have them to protect parkgoers. 

The Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe, in Seattle, installed locked needle disposal boxes in its restrooms earlier this year to provide a safe disposal option for sharps. 

Employee Jeff Coyne told KIRO in February that the locked boxes “encourage the safe practice of disposing” of needles.

However, L&I’s Church admits, even when the public has access to locked needle boxes inside bathrooms, employee safety is not guaranteed. 

Such boxes “deal with some of the issue, but I don’t think they deal with the entire issue,” Church told KIRO. “You’re still going to have a certain number of folks who are going to take that needle and throw it in the trash, so you can’t take a sharps box and assume the problem has been solved and not teach your employees to handle garbage safely,” Church said.

According to Borges, all Starbucks cafes already have sharps boxes in employee-only areas so baristas can safely dispose of any needles using gloves and tongs.

>> Read more trending news 

After KIRO started asking questions about the three baristas poked while on the job this past year, Borges confirmed there have been "ongoing conversations about adding additional protections and procedures to further ensure the safety" of employees, including "exploring installing sharps boxes in the bathrooms of our stores where it would help address the issue."

That development is welcome news to the baristas KIRO interviewed, who all said the needle problem has grown since Starbucks opened its restrooms to everyone – even nonpaying customers – this past May.

“Because you don’t have to bother with purchasing anything, needles have definitely increased,” one said.

In response, Borges told KIRO that Starbucks’ Third Place Policy – which opened its restrooms to all – still has rules that must be followed.

The baristas, however, claim it’s difficult to enforce those rules behind a locked door.

Amazon hikes minimum wage to $15 for employees nationwide

Amazon is raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour for all of its U.S. employees, the company announced early Tuesday.

According to a news release, the change, effective Nov. 1, affects more than 250,000 employees and 100,000 seasonal workers. The new minimum wage includes all full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal workers nationwide.

>> Read more trending news 

“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO, said in a statement. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”

The company also plans to “begin advocating for an increase in the federal minimum wage,” the news release said.

“We intend to advocate for a minimum wage increase that will have a profound impact on the lives of tens of millions of people and families across this country,” Jay Carney, senior vice president of Amazon Global Corporate Affairs, said in a statement

Read more here.

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