Come and get your Tabs!
The racist murder spree in Buffalo reflects the hatred Fox News and even elected Republicans pump out daily. (Washington Post)
Let us never forget the human lives lost. (Twitter)
This is Katherine \u201cKat\u201d Massey, 72 years old. Last year, she wrote a letter to Congress urging them to pass gun reform to save lives in her community and across the country.\n\nYesterday, she was killed in the Buffalo mass shooting.pic.twitter.com/thEajFy6Xn— No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen (@No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen) 1652659281
The Texas Supreme Court overturned an injunction that prevented child abuse investigations of parents who helped provide gender-affirming care for their trans kids. These people are monsters. (CNN)
WNBA star Brittney Griner will spend another month in Russian detention. It’s as if she’s actually been convicted of something. (The Week)
People do not feel better off today than they did even a year ago. (The Atlantic)
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki held more press briefings than all three of Trump’s professional liars combined. (Poynter)
Psaki’s farewell message is quite moving. (Twitter)
The infant baby formula crisis will, of course, potentially impact Black families the most. (The Root)
Chief Justice Samuel Alito seems to think he has a Constitutional right to privacy. (Curbed)
The big dumb trucker convoy is back! This is apparently fully protected free speech because these assholes are only blocking traffic and “occupying” DC. They aren’t bugging our robed masters in the suburbs. (The Daily Beast)
The Philadelphia Inquirer refuses to endorse any of the ragamuffin Republicans running for Senate. (The Inquirer)
President Joe Biden will fund the police some more with unspent money from the COVID-19 relief package. Fortunately, the pandemic is over. (MSN)
Can the New York Times be saved? Its incoming editor Joe Kahn posed for those weird Shining style photos a while back so I’m not confident. (The Nation)
The so-called “Yellow Brick Road” discovered in the Pacific Ocean obviously doesn’t lead to Atlantis, because we all know Atlanteans have hover cars. (The Miami Herald)
Yr Wonkette is 100 percent ad-free and entirely supported by reader donations. That's you! Please click the clickie, if you are able.
This week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced legislation that would address corporate price-gouging during this trying time in which many companies are jacking up their pricing and claiming it's just "inflation."
"The Price Gouging Prevention Act of 2022 " a one page summary of the bill reads, "would prohibit the practice of price gouging during all abnormal market disruptions—including the current pandemic—by authorizing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and state attorneys general to enforce a federal ban against unconscionably excessive price increases, regardless of a seller’s position in a supply chain. It also creates an affirmative defense to protect small businesses that must raise prices in good faith to earn a profit while establishing presumptions against dominant companies that brag about exploiting American consumers."
It's all good, but that last one is particularly satisfying. It's frustrating hearing many of these corporations straight up admit that they're raising prices through the roof because they know consumers will just blame it on inflation and knowing that basically nothing can be done about that.
The bill would also "require public companies to clearly disclose costs and pricing strategies," so that consumers can know when they are getting screwed and by whom.
The legislation is co-sponsored in the Senate by Tammy Baldwin, with companion legislation being filed in the house by Rep. Jan Schakowsky.
“Prices are rising, and consumers are paying more, while giant corporations are using inflation as a cover to expand their profits,” said Senator Warren. “This bill would crack down on corporate price gouging by setting tougher rules of the road and enhancing enforcement, and I'm going to fight to get this done.”
"We can lower costs for families across Wisconsin if we take on big corporations who are using a crisis to jack up prices for consumers," said Senator Tammy Baldwin. "During COVID, Big Oil and those at the top of the food chain have used inflation to boost record profits while working families have paid the price. This legislation will shine a light on price hikes and help prevent big corporations from exploiting a period of inflation to gouge consumers with higher costs."
“Price gouging harms consumers and is fueling the inflation hitting Americans’ pocketbooks. Corporate profit margins reached a 70-year high in 2021. Just this year, Big Pharma has increased the prices of 742 drugs. And prices at the pump remain high despite the cost of oil coming down. That’s corporate greed. During World War II, war profiteers were held accountable. The same rule should apply here. Our bill empowers the FTC to hold these price gouging companies accountable when they take advantage of American consumers, especially during times of global uncertainty,” said Rep. Schakowsky.
Agreed, agreed, and agreed.
As a bonus, it would also be pretty hard to not look like an asshole voting against this — though some conservatives are already trying to come up with a reason to oppose it. A particularly laughable response to the legislation in City-Journal explains that corporations are benevolent entities that only ever raise prices because they have to, not because the people behind them want to make more money.
This bill flunks basic economics. Firms raise prices for two reasons: they face higher costs and must pass them on to the consumer, or they are seeing increased demand. Right now, both things are happening, though it’s often hard to separate the two. Costs are higher because of higher energy prices and problems with supply chains. Demand is hot because Americans have savings from the pandemic and the government, with respect to both fiscal and monetary policy, was too expansionary.
We can assume that this even applies when, again, executives of those corporations in question are publicly bragging about how they are jacking up prices. They're probably just trying to trick us all so we don't see how wonderful and selfless they actually are, because they are too modest to take credit for such things.
Still, it seems wise to heed Maya Angelou's advice on this one and believe these corporations when they show us who they are, by very blatantly talking about how they are screwing us. Surely, if they're not actually price-gouging, they will have nothing to worry about.
And now this is your OPEN THREAD!
Wonkette is independent and fully funded by readers like you. Click below to tip us!
Now is either the time to bury it or double down. Haha, we mean bury it!
The world's cryptocurrencies and NFTs and Dutch tulip markets all went into the shitter this week, with enormous losses in value in the weird janky digital "money" that seemed kind of fishy to most people. How bad was the collapse? Something called Luna that was worth $85 last week is suddenly worth a penny now, and that is apparently a really big deal, CNET reports. Big swings in cyrpto currencies like bitcoin and ether are "notoriously volatile assets reacting to tempestuous economic conditions." But this Luna thing is like, bigger, and maybe you'll understand the following two paragraphs:
What's much more unusual, and much more important, is the collapse of the luna cryptocurrency and its associated TerraUSD (UST) stablecoin. You may not have heard of UST before, or know what a stablecoin is, but it's a big deal. Billions of dollars in crypto wealth has been vaporized, sending shockwaves throughout the whole market.
There are two intertwined stories here: That of the UST stablecoin and that of luna, both of which are part of the Terra blockchain. The UST coin is designed to retain a value of one US dollar at all times, but depegged on Saturday and has since fallen to as low as 30 cents. Then there's luna, the centerpiece of Terra's ecosystem. Its value has collapsed in one of the most stunning crypto crashes ever recorded.
Can't Geordi just reverse the polarity of the phase emitters and send a tachyon pulse into the temporal rift? That always did the trick in the old days.
Now, before you go getting your hopes up that this means the end of the crypto mining bidness, which uses extremely powerful computers to do math calculations that prove the computers' worthiness to poop out more crypto, which eats up tons of (often coal-generated) electricity and is therefore a terrible thing for the planet, I need to tell you that nobody who follows this stuff thinks this is in any way the end of the crypto business. Well, shit.
We were going to try to summarize how the Terra / Luna thing went bad based on the CNET article, but it too went all tachyon and quantum and I couldn't follow it, in that way that in grad school I'd think I was reading a paragraph of Derrida, but then realized I was wondering what to have for lunch, and most of the time it turned out to be the taco truck.
But I didn't give up, dear reader! I abandoned my initial backup plan of listing all the possible alternative phrases to "down the shitter" and instead looked at the good old New York Times, which explains this week's crash wiped out more than $300 billion in imaginary but also very real computer wealth, and that's something I can more readily get my head around:
The moment of panic amounted to the worst reset in cryptocurrencies since Bitcoin plummeted 80 percent in 2018. But this time, the falling prices have broader impact because more people and institutions hold the currencies. Critics said the collapse was long overdue, while some traders compared the alarm and fear to the start of the 2008 financial crisis.
The crash, the Times says, is part of an overall trend of investors getting itchy about risk, what with war and inflation and interest rates, only moreso with crypto, which has fallen more steeply than stocks: The S&P 500 is down 18 percent in 2022, but Bitcoin is worth 40 percent less than it was at the start of the year. "In the last five days alone, Bitcoin has tumbled 20 percent, compared to a 5 percent decline in the S&P 500."
The Times also explains that the TerraUSD implosion happened because for all the talk of its value being tied to the dollar, it wasn't actually backed by other assets; its was tied to this Luna thing that was allegedly more stable, but wasn't, and oopsie! The whole wobble even affected the value of another stablecoin called "Tether," which actually is backed by cash and other assets, but it lost value from its usual one Tether thingy to one dollar rate. That was bad, although Tether at least recovered.
Reuters reports that today, after all that imploding, crypto is starting to stabilize, and that, hooray hooray, "broader financial markets have so far seen little knock-on effect from the cryptocurrency crash." Terra, however, remains in the shitter, although it's up from a penny to 11 cents today.
In conclusion, we can say with absolute confidence that in no time at all, crypto bros will have forgotten all of this and will continue to be insufferable. Or not. I'm just glad my money is safe where it's always been, spent before I can invest it.
In conclusion, what do you get when you cross a mafioso with a deconstructionist?
An offer you can't understand.
Hey, that works for crypto, too!
Yr Wonkette is funded entirely by reader donations. If you can, please give $5 or $10 a month to help us keep bringing you the news, and if you want to donate cryptocurrency, just recalibrate the primary sensor array like everyone else.
Actual lobbyist quote: 'Now to get rid of those pesky health departments!'
Probably the worst effects of Donald Trump's presidency was that there was so much widespread incompetence, corruption, and downright criminality that it's nearly impossible to keep track of it all. Trump and his Team of Evils got away with stuff that would have sunk prior administrations every damn day. Steve Bannon's approach to misinformation — "flood the zone with shit" — applied equally to misbehavior in office. There was far more than any of the official watchdogs in government, or the unofficial ones in the media, could keep track of. So much criminality, so little time, and so little brain space for all of it.
As a prime example, take this report released yesterday by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, which found that the meatpacking industry was thick as thieves with Trump's Department of Agriculture, where career staff were sidelined so that political appointees could do everything possible to keep meat plants running during the pandemic, worker safety be damned. At least 269 workers died during the pandemic, and more than 59,000 became infected, all while the industry resisted any attempt to protect workers from spreading infection.
Worse, the report presents evidence that the industry pushed "flimsy if not false" claims of an impending meat shortage to justify keeping plants running near capacity, no matter what, although internal industry documents showed management knew there was no such shortage. Ultimately, the report says, the industry enlisted the USDA and the White House in an effort to avoid oversight from state and local health authorities. Donald Trump's April 2020 executive order demanded that meat plants stay open, to keep meating America with all the meat the meat industry could meat at us.
As Wonkette's Evan Hurst noted at the time, Trump's HEREBY DECLARE was a hell of a departure from how Trump handled other aspects of the pandemic:
Trump has been reluctant to use actual powers he has, like invoking the Defense Production Act to make sure doctors have PPE and hospitals have ventilators, but he sure did invoke it to make sure America's delicious meats are able to make their full journey from the plant all the way into his Big Macs which go in his mouth. How can the White House chef burn him steaks and slather them with ketchup if the meat plants are closed? Clearly an untenable situation.
Well gosh, what a coincidence Donald Trump took such meaty action to protect the meat industry, which was worried about being sued by workers forced to process animal carcasses in close quarters, with little protective equipment. The report details that the executive order was actually proposed and drafted by lawyers at Tyson Foods, with input from other companies. (ProPublica broke that story in the fall of 2020, although we missed it at the time.) Tyson and industry lobbyists then shared the draft "with allied USDA officials who had previously helped them lobby or interfere with decision-making by other arms of federal and state government."
In the days leading up to President Trump’s issuance of the Executive Order, meatpacking industry representatives and companies—Smithfield and Tyson in particular—engaged in constant communications with Trump appointees at USDA, the National Economic Council, and the White House. [...] The eventual order adopted the themes and statutory directive laid out in Tyson’s draft, invoking the Defense Production Act to ensure meatpacking plants “continue operations.”
That was just how the Trump administration worked: Why bother regulating industries during a deadly pandemic when you can just let the industry tell you what it would like to do?
Not that the executive order was a complete freebie; the report also notes that the day after President Meat Sweats ordered more meat, the White House demanded tribute, requesting in an email to various meat trade groups that the companies “issue positive statements and social media about the President’s action on behalf of the industry, about the Order itself and about how it will help ensure the food supply chain remains strong.”
A flack at the "North American Meat Institute" obligingly sent back not only a press release, but a set of talking points the White House might use to thank the industry for thanking Trump.
The report concludes that the meatpacking companies
knew the risk posed by the coronavirus to their workers and knew it wasn’t a risk that the country needed them to take. They nonetheless lobbied aggressively—successfully enlisting USDA as a close collaborator in their efforts—to keep workers on the job in unsafe conditions, to ensure state and local health authorities were powerless to mandate otherwise, and to be protected against legal liability for the harms that would result.
As the Washington Post (free link) reports, the committee combed through a wealth of information, including
a review of 151,000 pages of documents, more than a dozen survey calls with industry union representatives, former Agriculture Department and Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials, and state and local health authorities. The subcommittee also held a staff briefing with OSHA and the USDA.
Some of the details are simply astonishing, like the quote from a meat industry lobbyist that graces the cover of the report, "Now to get rid of those pesky health departments!" Yes, someone said that in a real email, not in an episode of Scooby Doo.
That quote's from page three, in which the committee explained that well into the pandemic, the industry was still refusing to take science-based measures to keep workers from getting infected on the job.
For example, as late as May 22, 2020—well after the efficacy and necessity of coronavirus precautions such as testing, social distancing, and personal protective equipment were widely recognized—an executive at Koch Foods told a meatpacking industry lobbyist that temperature screening was “all we should be doing.” The lobbyist agreed, saying “Now to get rid of those pesky health departments!”
In a footnote, we find that's from an email by one Ashley Peterson, who was and is the "Senior Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs" for the "National Chicken Council." After all, a temperature check found one worker who was sick, the worker went home, and later tested positive, so clearly that was the only sick worker at that plant. (Also, no, temperature checks alone were never sufficient to safeguard against infections at work)
Dr. Peterson made another appearance later that summer, in a tweet from the National Chicken Council explaining that worker safety is job one, although oddly in the linked video she doesn't say anything about getting rid of those meddling kids in health departments. Hey, maybe she was just joking and pretending to sound like a cartoon villain! We left a message for Dr. Peterson at the Chicken Lobby seeking comment, and will update when / if we hear back from her.
\u201cWorker safety is not something that\u2019s new to the chicken industry,\u201d shares Ashley Peterson, PhD, @chickencouncil Sr VP of Scientific & Regulatory Affairs. \u201cIt\u2019s something that has been part of our culture for decades.\u201dhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKRX0FLY2-k&feature=emb_logo\u00a0\u2026— Natl Chicken Council (@Natl Chicken Council) 1598888892
In another fun incident, we learn that Foster Farms enlisted help from a Trump USDA appointee, Undersecretary of Ag Mindy Brashears, to prevent a local health department from ordering protections for workers. The chicken company, it turns out, had hidden death counts of workers in reports to the county as “resolved cases."
According to officials from this health department, during a call with Foster Farms and Brashears’ office, someone working for either Foster Farms or USDA callously referred to these death counts as “toe tag resolutions,” likely alluding to the toe tag that is often put on a corpse at the morgue.
Haha, it is to laugh.
Also too, the report notes that the meatpacking companies fairly regularly "lobbied the White House to make clear that—despite concerns by state and local health departments—meatpacking companies should not have to address coronavirus risks if it would impact productivity." Because heavens, you wouldn't want either a meat shortage or a loss in profitability, now would you? The lobbying was particularly intense in seeking protection from liability for workers getting sick, a matter of such importance to then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he fought tooth and nail to have it included in federal stimulus bills, even after Trump lost the 2020 election. Poor sad Mitch, it never did get passed.
In conclusion, this report makes clear that the meat industry and the Trump administration didn't give two good shits about worker safety, because there was a lot of money to be made. Besides, it wasn't like anyone important was dying — just low-income workers, many of them Latino, and as a Smithfield pork plant spokesperson memorably said, "Living circumstances in certain cultures are different than they are with your traditional American family," so probably the workers were getting sick at home and then tainting the company's immaculate slaughterhouse with filthy non-American virus.
At least the workers' health made for a fun betting pool among Tyson plant managers, allegedly.
See? We still can't get our heads around all that shit. It's infuriating, and nobody's going to go to jail.
Yr Wonkette is funded entirely by reader donations. If you can, please give $5 or $10 a month to help us stay mad at ... at ... ALL OF THE BASTARDS.