Oregon, Washington and Vermont sued the makers of 5-Hour Energy on Thursday for allegedly deceptive and misleading advertising, and said similar suits will follow in other states in the coming weeks.
In its lawsuit, Oregon said advertising for 5-Hour Energy claimed the drink contained a unique combination of ingredients to boost energy, whereas its only effective ingredient was a concentrated dose of caffeine.
The lawsuit also said consumers had been misled with claims that the drink would not cause them to experience a "crash" like the one that typically follows a caffeine high, and that it had been recommended by doctors.
I've only had a 5-Hour Energy once in my life. I flew on a redeye from Seattle to Maine and didn't sleep a wink. I went right from the Portland International Jetport to a large family reunion full of relatives I hadn't seen in years. I was deliriously tired, and so I risked a few bucks on a bottle of 5-Hour Energy and downed it in the car on the way to the reunion. I have to say it worked—soon after drinking it, I was alert and awake, in a very non-jittery way. And then, almost exactly five hours after I drank it, I fell into one of the hardest, deepest sleeps of my life. Say what you will about all those other claims, but the "5-Hour" part of the advertising was eerily true in my experience.
Good news, workers of Puget Sound! Soon you will have the opportunity to work for a religious corporation that refuses to care about every aspect of your health, because they believe that Jesus thinks genitals are EVIL. Andy Hobbs at the Olympian reports that Hobby Lobby is planning an Olympia store sometime in the near future. And that's on top of the three Hobby Lobbies opening in our neck of the woods this fall. From their website:
Seattle, WA : 13200 Aurora Avenue North : Planned opening day is 10/03/2014.
Tacoma, WA : 3130 S. 23rd Street : Planned opening day is 09/12/2014.
Yakima, WA : 2203 South 1st Street : Planned opening day is 09/12/2014.
That's not counting the six Hobby Lobbies already within one hundred miles of The Stranger's offices. I guess the glitter-glue-and-uterus-hating business must be booming!
So what should you do? Here's a simple list of steps you can take to protest Hobby Lobby:
1. Don't shop at Hobby Lobby.
Seriously. That's all you need to do. Maybe talk to your friends about how you don't shop at Hobby Lobby, if you want bonus points. But please don't go into Hobby Lobbies and re-arrange letters to spell out your protests. You're just making more of a hassle for the poor workers, who already have to put up with a tremendous amount of shit anyway. Don't shop at any of these stores. Be very public about why you're not shopping at those stores. But don't fuck with the very retail employees you're trying to defend, okay?
In other news: Hobby Lobby owners plan to open a Bible Museum in 2017. What a bunch of assholes.
Whoa Nelly!! President Obama shakes hands with man wearing a horse head (AP photo): http://t.co/QAdGGWctwB pic.twitter.com/JvK6zHBzyp
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) July 9, 2014
Washington's first few pot retail outlets will open for business by noon on Tuesday the 8th. Jake Ellison at the PI takes a look at the stores that are preparing to open:
Cannabis City (2733 Fourth Ave S. in Seattle) and Top Shelf (at 3863 Hannegan, Suite 107 in Bellingham) should be two of 15 to 20 retail outlets licensed by the Liquor Control Board on Monday. Once the stores have their licenses, the owners can seal a deal with a grower — and 24 hours later (a holding time set by the board), stock the shelves with legal weed. That’ll be Tuesday.
Fox Q13 says another Bellingham store called 2020 Solutions intends to open first, at 8 am. No matter what hour the first shop opens, there will eventually be 334 marijuana stores in Washington state. But people are definitely excited to be there on day one: Curbed says Cannabis City will have ten pounds of pot ready for sale on the first day, and that they expect to sell out by the end of the day.
What do you think?
In Monday's announcement, published in the Federal Register, the FAA named Amazon's December proposal [of drone delivery services] as an example of what is barred under regulations that allow the use of drones for hobby and recreational purposes. The agency did not mention Amazon Prime Air by name, but it didn't have to.
Under a graphic that says what is barred, the FAA mentioned the "Delivering of packages to people for a fee." A footnote added, "If an individual offers free shipping in association with a purchase or other offer, FAA would construe the shipping to be in furtherance of a business purpose, and thus, the operation would not fall within the statutory requirement of recreation or hobby purpose."
These rules are in place at least until the end of 2015. Wherever he is right now, Jeff Bezos is wringing his hands and cursing needless government intrusion into his beautiful plans.
The Phinney/Greenwood neighborhoods lost a great local bookshop when Santoro's Books closed earlier this month. But tomorrow, the bookstore formerly known as Santoro's is going to re-open under new management as Phinney Books, and they're celebrating with a big grand reopening party from 10 am to 8 pm.
The new owners are Jeopardy! champion Tom Nissley and his wife, Glittersweet Studio founder Laura Silverstein. They'll be around to greet their new customers with refreshments and a 10% discount on everything in the store. In addition, there will be story times for kids (at 10:30, noon, 2, and 3 pm) and story times for grownups from local writers including Maria Semple, George Meyer, Claire Dederer, and Josh Feit. You could also probably score a signed copy of Nissley's entertaining book-about-books, A Reader's Book of Days, which describes interesting literary events that happened on every single day of the year, including author birthdays and death days. "We don't have a sign yet," Nissley writes, "but we do have books, Glittersweet handbags, an Interurban streetcar bookcase, and a Ferris wheel on the wall."
I haven't been to Phinney Books yet, but I can already tell you that my favorite bookstore feature will probably be the signs over the fiction and non-fiction sections, which you can see at the top and bottom of this post. I can't wait to meet those signs in person.
Yesterday was the publication date for The Silkworm, the newest thriller written by J.K. Rowling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. Because of a contract dispute with the book's publisher, Hachette, The Silkworm was not available for preorder from Amazon.com. Another bookseller decided to pick up Amazon's slack: Third Place Books hand-delivered copies of The Silkworm yesterday around the Seattle metro area to 20 customers. (Dozens of other customers pre-ordered from Third Place and chose to pick up the books in the stores.) The lion's share of the books were delivered by Third Place managing partner Robert Sindelar, who drove from Everett to Shoreline, Woodinville, Ravenna, Ballard, and other Seattle locations all day long.
The last stop of the day was a home in Queen Anne, where a confused man named Craig was greeted by Sindelar, local author Maria Semple, a photographer, and a reporter from The Stranger. Craig's wife had ordered the book, and so he had no idea that company was coming. Sindelar handed him a tote bag full of The Silkworm, an advance copy of Laird Hunt's upcoming novel Neverhome, a Silkworm t-shirt, and a copy of Semple's novel Where'd You Go, Bernadette. Sindelar explained that Third Place was doing this as a way to have fun with the Amazon/Hachette duel—"yeah, I think I've heard something about that," Craig said—and to thank their customers for supporting independent bookstores. Semple explained that she came along because she's "an author whose book is not available on Amazon." Craig and his wife had already read Bernadette, so he asked Semple to inscribe the book to some friends of the family from California. "Please move here," Semple wrote on the title page, just above her signature. "Holy cow. This is so cool! This is awesome," Craig said. "What a strange thing to happen to you," Semple replied.
According to Josh Eidelson at Salon, the Service Employees International Union says Amazon's security contractors, Security Industry Specialists, have been "intimidating" union representatives, "flouting both federal law and the e-commerce giant’s Code of Conduct."
In charges filed May 5 with the National Labor Relations Board, SEIU accuses SIS – a California-based company whose employees the union has long sought to represent – of illegally “attempting surveillance activity to interfere with, restrain, coerce employees” out of exercising their New Deal rights. SEIU alleges that members of SIS’ “Executive Protection” squad – the more elite division responsible for protecting Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos — were recently deployed to follow SEIU staff and SIS security workers around Amazon’s Seattle campus as they tried to distribute a new SEIU leaflet to SIS and Amazon employees. More dramatically, SEIU and Young – the only current SIS employee featured on the leaflet – allege that one of the Executive Protection members confronted Young on May 1 to demand information about the leafleting.
Go read the whole article. Absolutely nobody should be surprised at this point to learn that Amazon is anti-union; the company has been battling with unions in Germany over working conditions and pay for years. And earlier this year, Time reported that Amazon "crushed" a union movement in Delaware. They're even testing their own delivery service, presumably in part because the other delivery services are union shops. Amazon has made no secret of the fact that they loathe unions. And why wouldn't they? The folks in South Lake Union are making plenty of money; they just don't want the peons out in the warehouses—or the schmucks charged with protecting Jeff Bezos—to have any.
Amazon.com Inc later this year plans to launch a marketplace for local services, a broad term that encompasses anything from babysitters to handymen, several people familiar with the matter said.
Amazon plans to start in one market to test demand and logistics before rolling it out nationwide, mirroring its approach to its grocery delivery service, Amazon Fresh. Fresh was tested in Seattle for years before expanding to San Francisco and Los Angeles last year.
Ever since the internet started its hike to ubiquity, entrepreneurs have tried to figure out ways to digitize the local services that don't translate well to internet. Kozmo.com was an early attempt at this. Yelp is kind of successful at this sort of thing, but building a listing for every business isn't the same as actually getting a cut of that business.
Like most of Amazon's ideas, this is a genius scheme that gets creepier and creepier as more people buy into it. Imagine if, back in the 1950s, a telephone company had figured out a way to snare a commission every time you called a plumber to fix a leak. If Amazon can establish itself as a referrer of local businesses, they can demand a cut from the pay of every babysitter, every tree surgeon, every house painter they refer to their customers. They could pit independent contractors against one another in a battle of low-balling that consumers would love because they get the lowest price, but that workers would hate, because their dependence on Amazon would increase while their profits sink lower and lower. I have no doubt Amazon can pull this off, and I think the world will be a poorer place for it.
Anyway, they sell vinyl now. And nicknacks. Said the friendly clerk behind the counter: "The owner had a bunch of antique merchandise...[we'll carry] anything that has to do with entertainment." I spotted a xylophone, a bunch of guitars, a music box, and a whole load of other cool stuff arranged fashionably in their northern room. Record titles ranged from Led Zeppelin and Leon Russell, to the Top Gun Soundtrack, and beyond. Prices varied a bit, so check those stickers.
It will be interesting to see if they'll be able to pull people up the hill from the somewhat nearby Bop Street/Sonic Boom corridor. What with their knowledgeable staff, and corner location, I think they've got a good shot at it. Best of luck guys!
The Guardian has published a powerful interactive piece on Bangladesh's clothing industry http://t.co/G8z8sLpEkB pic.twitter.com/9rrpUYa121
— Creative Review (@CreativeReview) April 16, 2014
It's not pointless poverty porn, nor is it dry-as-bones wonkery. It's immersive and absorbing, bringing you as close as one imagines is possible to the reality of the people making your clothes, short of going there. It drops you into the slums of Dhaka and even into the blackness of the collapsed factory itself, and surrounds you.
It's unforgettable. It's why we need a day like May Day.
Spend time with it. Then think about what you can do.
You probably already know that Amazon mistreats its warehouse workers. But did you know that the Great Walmart in the Sky mistreats its delivery drivers, too? Dave Jamieson at the Huffington Post has written a great story about how Amazon is hiring independent contractors to do their delivery, rather than larger companies that are unionized and actually pay their workers a living wage.
Delivery drivers are the real Amazon drones — workers who hustle to feed our growing demand for next-day or same-day delivery from online retailers. And as the e-commerce industry continues to grow, the drivers classified as independent contractors are the ones feeling the squeeze.
These particular drivers work under a system that shifts the costs associated with employment away from the company and onto the worker. In this arrangement, a busted transmission can be the difference between putting food on the table and being out of a job. That's partly why the service is so cheap for retailers, and, ultimately, for customers as well.
For starters, a delivery company using independent contractors avoids paying payroll or unemployment taxes on its drivers, as well as workers' compensation insurance — nevermind basic workplace benefits like health coverage and a 401(k). Such companies also aren't obliged to pay workers overtime under federal law, meaning no time and a half when the delivery day stretches into a 12-hour shift. And since they pay drivers on a per-delivery basis, they don't owe them anything for non-delivery work, like loading the van at the warehouse before hitting the road, a task that can take up to two hours.
The arrangement also makes it virtually impossible for the drivers to unionize since they're non-employees.
Seattle is home to a lot of Amazon employees who make great money. But those employees are standing on the backs of these other employees who are getting screwed out of a fair wage and basic workers rights. And your discounted goods are being delivered by workers who basically have no rights. Go read about where your savings come from.
But, you know, Amazon's sales are still exploding, so hooray for fucking over the little people!
Online sales taxes are discouraging people from shopping on Amazon, according to a new study by researchers at Ohio State University. Regular online shoppers living in states that implemented a tax on Amazon decreased their spending on the website by 10 percent compared to states without the tax. The drop was even steeper for big-ticket purchases above $300, for which Amazon sales in taxed states were down 24 percent.
Amazon was smart to do battle with local sales taxes, but that battle is largely over. Now we'll see how they do when they're forced to play on a fairer, more level playing field.
Hamilton Nolan at Gawker posted an anti-union video that Target shows its employees. Nolan explains:
The existence of Target's new anti-union employee training video (entitled "Think Hard: Protect Your Signature") was first reported today by Josh Eidelson at Salon. And we have obtained the actual video, which is above. It features Dawn and Ricardo, a cool, knowing, multiracial pair of Target employees who are here to talk to you, the Target team member, about the dangers of unions. "Someday, someone you don't know may approach you at work, or visit you at home, asking you to sign your name to an authorization card, petition, or some other union document," Ricardo warns.
"Unions want what we have" the video declares. How so? Ricardo explains, as if speaking to a child: "We're a target, because unions are threatened by us. And here's why: when we take business away from retailers that are unionized, those companies may downsize, reducing the number of employees. And that means the union loses members, which is a big problem for the union business. Did you notice how I just called it a business? Because that's what it is."
Dawn continues: "A union is not a charity. it's not a club, and it's not part of the government." Ricardo explains that "unions may have been needed in the past," but the worker protections previously enabled by unions are now state and federal law, so why would anyone need to join them? "Nobody wants to pay dues for something they already have," Dawn concludes. Because everything is great in America!
The latest installment in the two-steps-forward, one-step-back progress towards marriage equality in the United States: The news recently broke that Loyola University Chicago would not allow same-sex weddings to take place in its (literally) iconic Madonna Della Strada chapel. I forwarded the news to Dan, who suggested I write something about it. So, if you’re interested in that sort of thing, follow me after the jump.
Never Argue with People Who Buy Pixels By the Pound: Pando Daily reports that the battle between Hollywood studios and the visual effects industry is heating up.
Discarded Rule: Ann Rule's case against the Seattle Weekly was thrown out of court today, Seattlish says.
Maybe Not the Best Time to Discuss Tunneling, but Whatever: The Seattle Subway Foundation is having a volunteer kickoff party tomorrow night at Fado in Pioneer Square, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.
Not OK, Glass: If this woman was assaulted for wearing Google Glass, that's terrible. But calling it a "hate crime" against Google Glass is pretty awful, too.
I Can't Wait for the "Please Mr. Kennedy"/Star Wars Mashups to Start: Rumors started spreading that Adam Driver from Girls has been cast as the new Star Wars villain.
Things That Bug Him About Books: Hank Green complains about things that publishers get wrong. Why do publishers put spoilers on dust jackets, anyway?
If you buy your entertainment digitally, you really should read this story from Boing Boing that was published over the weekend:
Bill sez, Last "December I bought some favorite Christmas specials for my kids with the idea they could watch them every year. Went tonight to watch one ('Disney Prep and Landing 2' if you're curious) and it was gone from our library and couldn't be found on the site at all. Amazon has explained to me that Disney can pull their content at any time and 'at this time they've pulled that show for exclusivity on their own channel.' In other words, Amazon sold me a Christmas special my kids can't watch during the run up to Christmas. It'll be available in July though!"
This is not just an issue with Amazon. It's got to do with any service in which you buy—shudder—"content" that comes with restrictive DRM control as part of the package. Physical media has lots of limitations, but no movie studio has ever broken into someone's house to physically reclaim a DVD. It's bonkers that this is considered to be acceptable behavior.
(Thanks, Slog tipper Jesse. We miss you.)
. . . isn't easy, but today's service industry workers are less secure, with fewer benefits, than the household servants of the past whose work they replace.
Once upon a time, hedge fund manager Eddie Lampert was living a Wall Street fairy tale. His fairy godmother was Ayn Rand, the dashing diva of free-market ideology whose quirky economic notions would transform him into a glamorous business hero.
For a while, it seemed to work like a charm. Pundits called him the “Steve Jobs of the investment world.” The new Warren Buffett. By 2006 he was flying high, the richest man in Connecticut, managing over $15 billion thorough his hedge fund, ESL Investments.
Stoked by his Wall Street success, Lampert plunged headlong into the retail world. Undaunted by his lack of industry experience and hailed a genius, Lampert boldly pushed to merge Kmart and Sears with a layoff and cost-cutting strategy that would, he promised, send profits into the stratosphere. Meanwhile the hotshot threw cash around like an oil sheikh, buying a $40 million pad in Florida’s Biscayne Bay, a record even for that star-studded county.
Fast-forward to 2013: The fairy tale has become a nightmare.
Go read the whole thing. If it weren't for all the jobs at stake (fun fact: my very first job was at a Sears in the Maine Mall) this would be a near-perfect dose of schadenfreude. Rand fans, of course, will argue that Lampert wasn't a demonstration of pure Objectivist thought. That's exactly what they argued when Alan Greenspan nearly destroyed the economy by trying to transform America into Ayn Rand's economic paradise. And that's what makes Ayn Rand's philosophy so tough to erase. It will never exist in the real world, because the world in Rand's childish fictions is too simple-minded to exist. This gives Objectivists a kind of parachute that allows them to distance themselves from spectacular flame-outs like Greenspan and Lampert: They weren't pure enough. Then they cast their eyes to the next great Randian hope hurtling down the runway, rushing toward certain doom.
Of course, this advice was meant for their swimming-in-cash corporate execs, not their drowning-in-cooking-oil poverty-level workers.
The tipping guide from etiquette maven Emily Post on McDonald's website lists several high-ticket suggestions for givers during the holiday season, including "a gift from your family (or one week's pay), plus a small gift from your child" for an au pair, "one day's pay" for a housekeeper and "cost of one cleaning" for a pool cleaner.
The site also lists suggestions for dog walkers, massage therapists and personal fitness trainers.
Via the great QT, who headlined it "Marie McAntoinette Update," which would be a great new Slog category.
The real question: Who filled out the form?
I missed an Amazon drone delivery. pic.twitter.com/neJxYANj6p
— B to A to the R R Y (@QuantumPirate) December 2, 2013
(Thanks to Slog tipper Heidi.)
Blackfridaydeathcount.com is the most important website of the day.
And it's actually quite satisfying, albeit in a small way. Join me?
UPDATE: Good idea, Matt! Yes!
Greedy retailers are ruining Thanksgiving for low-wage employees by forcing them to work on the one goddamned American holiday that isn't about the buying and selling of plastic bullshit shipped in from China. ThinkProgress has smartly decided to call this phenomenonThe War on Thanksgiving. I wholeheartedly approve of this move.
They've compiled a list of chain retailers who are forcing their employees to come in and work on Thanksgiving Day. They've also compiled a list of chain retailers who are letting their employees have one fucking day to live like human beings without the threat of being berated by some asshole because the product they wanted isn't in stock. If you're going out this weekend, you should give your business to the stores that are treating their employees with dignity.
In addition to that list, I'd like to add the fact that there are a ton of local businesses that aren't forcing their employees to work on Thanksgiving. Every local bookstore, for instance, is closed tomorrow, so their employees can enjoy time with their friends and family. You should thank them with your dollars.
Just a reminder that when you order your Christmas gifts from the Great Walmart in the Sky, you're pumping money into a series of warehouses that overwork and underpay workers around the world. BBC reporter Adam Littler went undercover as one of Amazon's warehouse "pickers" to see what it's like on the other side of the Amazon transaction:
A handset told him what to collect and put on his trolley. It allotted him a set number of seconds to find each product and counted down. If he made a mistake the scanner beeped.
"We are machines, we are robots, we plug our scanner in, we're holding it, but we might as well be plugging it into ourselves", he said.
"We don't think for ourselves, maybe they don't trust us to think for ourselves as human beings, I don't know."
Prof [Michael] Marmot, one of Britain's leading experts on stress at work, said the working conditions at the warehouse are "all the bad stuff at once".
In response, Amazon says warehouse conditions "comply with all relevant legal requirements." Because they're empathetic like that.
Gizmodo's Mario Aguilar rounds up the offerings, from humongous gumball machines to "wet floor" signs and beyond....
Business Insider's Ashley Lutz writes:
A Cleveland Wal-Mart store is holding a food drive — for its own employees.
"Please donate food items so associates in need can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner," reads a sign accompanied by several plastic bins.
Seen at the Walgreens at 23rd and Jackson.
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