- Major news outlets like CNN and The New York Post reported Thursday that 38% of American beer drinkers would not buy Corona beer right now because of the coronavirus outbreak.
- However, many have criticized the survey that the media outlets cited as misleading.
- While some of the survey questions that the 737 beer drinkers answered explicitly mentioned the coronavirus, that question about Corona beer did not.
- The question implies an association with the coronavirus, but it could also include responses from people who just don’t drink Corona anyway.
Are 38% Percent of Americans Really Scared of Corona Beer?
Media outlets like CNN and The New York Post cited a survey on Thursday that claimed 38% of Americans won’t drink Corona beer because of the coronavirus. Now, others are calling that poll phony.
The poll gained national attention and even trended on Twitter after the company running it, 5W Public Relations, asked 737 beer drinkers a variety of questions. Some of those questions explicitly mentioned the coronavirus outbreak that has infected more than 89,000 people globally as of Monday morning. The question involving Corona beer, however, notably lacked any mention of the coronavirus.
“38% of beer-drinking Americans would not buy Corona under any circumstances now,” the company said in its press release.
“5W Public Relations said that 38% of Americans wouldn’t buy Corona ‘under any circumstances’ because of the outbreak,” CNN then reported.
“A surprising 38 percent of beer drinkers insisted that they would not, under any circumstances, buy Corona as the deadly virus spreads across the globe,” The New York Post also reported.
According to The Atlantic, however, while the question implies an association with the coronavirus, it could also simply include responses from people who just don’t drink Corona anyway.
This is supported by the additional result that only 4% of regular Corona drinkers surveyed in the poll said they would stop drinking the brand.
“It is one thing for unscrupulous PR agencies to get their name out by trying to mislead the public in a shameless manner. It is quite another for some of the country’s most prestigious and well-known media outlets to let themselves be played,” Yascha Mounk said for The Atlantic.
Mounk also said he reached out to 5W Public Relations and was able to obtain the list of questions, but the company has not provided any further results or its methodology with him or other reporters.
“Maybe, just maybe, that’s because the results show that most Americans get the difference between a disease and a beer,” Mounk said.
YouTuber and educational vlogger Hank Green has also questioned the legitimacy of such results, also noting that the company’s currently secret methodology for obtaining its results.
“OK, now that we’ve had our fun imagining that 38% of Americans are fucking idiots…,” he said, “let’s realize that we’re all idiots for believing that CNN would check the source on this before tweeting out clickbait that makes us think less of our neighbors.”
In a statement, Constellation Brands (which owns Corona) CEO Bill Newlands also condemned the poll and association between the similarly-named beer and virus.
“It’s extremely unfortunate that recent misinformation about the impact of this virus on our business has been circulating in traditional and social media without further investigation or validation,” Newlands said. “These claims simply do not reflect our business performance and consumer sentiment, which includes feedback from our distributor and retailer partners across the country. We’ve seen no impact to our people, facilities or operations and our business continues to perform very well.”
The U.S. Reports Its First Two Deaths
Aside from clickbait polls, the coronavirus has continued to spread outside of China. On Monday, the United States reported four additional deaths after reporting its first two over the weekend.
All six people who died lived in Washington state. Reportedly, both people who died over the weekend were elderly adults with underlying health problems.
Some of the victims were also residents at a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington. That nursing home is now the subject of its own outbreak with six confirmed cases coming from the facility. Three of those cases are reportedly elderly residents in critical condition.
Other residents and staff from the facility have also reported feeling sick. With that outbreak, a quarter of Kirkland’s firefighters are in quarantine because they had visited the nursing home.
In all, as of Monday, those infections bring the U.S. to 88 cases, with states like New York, Florida, and Rhode Island all saw their first confirmed cases over the weekend.
Coronavirus Picks Up Speed Internationally
Globally, many countries are facing similar rises in infections.
One of the most drastic spikes occurred in Italy over the weekend. On Saturday, the country had confirmed 1,128 cases. By Sunday, that number jumped to 1,694, a 50% increase in the span of a day.
As of Monday, South Korea is reporting 4,300 cases, which is easily the largest outbreak outside of China. About 60% of those cases stem from the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a religious group that is frequently denounced as a cult.
China, however, reported its lowest reported infection numbers since January, with only 202 new cases and 42 deaths. Over the course of the past week, China has continually seen decreases in the number of people infected and dying each day.
The numbers were so positive to Chinese officials that they even closed the first of its 16 rapidly-built makeshift hospitals in Wuhan, where the human version of the virus originated.
See what others are saying: (The Atlantic) (USA Today) (The New York Times)
German Catholic Priests Defy Vatican by Blessing Same-Sex Unions
- Priests throughout Germany openly defied the Roman Catholic Church and blessed same-sex marriages over the weekend as part of an organized effort that has extended into this week.
- In the past, the vast majority of willing priests would refuse to bless such marriages due to the ambiguity of the Church’s position, which was clarified in March 2021 as against blessing same-sex unions.
- The effort by German priests has received some support in progressive nations but has been widely opposed by the greater Church.
- The Vatican is unlikely to back down from its position; however, the challenge is large enough to potentially set off a debate on the issue within the Church.
Pope’s Stance on Blessing Same-Sex Unions
Catholic priests throughout Germany openly challenged a group of new rules by the Vatican this weekend and set the stage for a large debate over LGTBQ+ issues within the church.
At the center of the debate is a clear and complete ban on blessings of same-sex marriages by the Holy See from March of this year. Pope Francis’ official stance, and thus the Church’s official stance, is that priests cannot bless gay marriages because they are sinful, and the Church cannot “bless sin.”
Blessings are different from engaging in marriage ceremonies themselves and are used to bring marriages carried out by secular officials “into” the church.
The Pope’s stance received a lot of push back both within and outside of the church. Activists around the world felt it was overly restrictive and undermined Pope Francis’ other statements about loving LGBTQ+ members of the church. At the same time, hundreds of clergymen around the world, and especially in Germany, signed open letters with plans to defy the pontiff and bless same-sex unions anyways.
Such blessings weren’t completely unknown in the church because even without the Holy See’s official stance in March, it was assumed by clergymen that such blessings were forbidden; however, some carried them out anyways in secret.
Open Defiance of the Church
That secrecy largely came to an end this weekend in Germany. Sunday morning saw one of the first seemingly organized efforts in that defiance, with priests throughout Germany openly blessing same-sex marriages. The organized effort also includes another event planned for Monday, May 10, including live-streamed services.
Despite the progressive push by parts of the German church, most Catholic dioceses in the country back the Church’s official stance, and that support is even more widespread worldwide.
Beyond doctrinal differences, many German parishes are pushing for more progressive stances to cope with the fact that people are leaving the church in droves, partly because of its social stances. In some respects, those decisions have proven popular.
As it stands, it’s unclear what will happen next to the priests and bishops who backed blessing same-sex unions, and whether or not other dioceses in progressive countries will take a similar stance and back them. It’s also unlikely that the church will change its stance on same-sex marriages.
In the meantime, hundreds of gay Catholic couples throughout Germany and neighboring countries plan to get their marriages blessed at a Catholic Church for the first time.
See what others are saying: (Washington Post) (BBC) (National Catholic Reporter)
Mukbangs and Ordering Too Much Food Banned in China
- China recently passed a law that bans ordering too much food and sharing content online that portrays overeating.
- Though food scarcity is not an issue in the country, the law is meant to combat food waste, with authorities pointing out that China tosses 35 million tons of food annually.
- The law doesn’t penalize consumers at restaurants. Instead, it fines restaurants $1550 for allowing diners to order “more than they need.”
- TV stations, media companies, or people who post overeating content, such as Mukbangs, can face a $16,000 fine.
The End of Mukbangs
Some of the most popular content across Chinese social media has effectively been banned under an anti-food waste law that authorities passed late last week.
The law bans diners from ordering more than they need, which could hurt an entire class of eating videos, including ones where people enter all-you-can-eat restaurants to consume thousands of dollars worth of food. While it could be argued that if the creators eat all that food, they’ve satisfied the “more than they need” clause, the law also bans binge eating and posting such content online, meaning no more mukbangs for Chinese fans.
Censors have already begun removing overeating content, and much of it went missing overnight from Douyin, TikTok’s Chinese sister app.
The law also affects far more than a fringe group of people making food content. It’s so vague and open to interpretation that it could disrupt everyday restaurant-goers.
President Xi Jinping called food waste a “distressing” problem that threatens China’s food security, despite the fact that China is not facing any imminent food shortages.
Nearly 35 million tons of food go to waste every year in China, though that’s a relatively small amount for its population size. The U.S., for comparison, manages to throw away 66 million tons of food yearly.
Still, the legislation does not come as a complete surprise since Xi launched a food-saving campaign back in August claiming that COVID-19 was threatening the food supply chain.
Across China, restaurants have already begun to comply with the new rules. Some have set up scales at their entrance to give recommended food portion sizes to customers based on their weight. Meanwhile, others have promised to offer smaller-sized plates as an option.
One standard that many are seeking to enact is the “N-1” rule, which states that the number of dishes should be one less than the number of guests. The rule could be an attempt to curb a cultural practice that sees hosts ordering far more food than could be eaten in an effort to show off wealth.
Under the law, much of the blame towards a consumer wasting food is placed on restaurants, as there’s no clear cut fine for diners violating the law. Any establishment found allowing customers or misleading customers into ordering excessive amounts of food facing a $1550 fine. Showing content related to binge-eating could result in TV stations, online media companies, or even content creators facing a $16,000 fine.
Tuesday seems to have been the first time regulators went after a particular business, warning a Nanjing bakery to stop throwing away pastries that the business didn’t believe would sell because of visual defects. It has promised to donate them instead.
See what others are saying: (SCMP) (The Guardian) (Vice)
Zimbabwe Considers Controversial Mass Elephant Killing
- Zimbabwe is considering culling its 100,000 elephant population over concerns of how they destroy other habitats and interact with farmland.
- The plan isn’t unheard of, as Zimbabwe has done similar culls in the past, while other countries have done their own more recently.
- However, the large-scale killing of elephants has faced pushback, with some suggesting the animals should instead be transported to areas with falling elephant populations.
- For the time being, the plan is still just a proposal, and the government of Zimbabwe has promised to make a decision based on “scientific advice.”
Killing Elephants Is What’s Best for Them?
For the first time since 1988, Zimbabwe is considering a mass killing of elephants.
In a local radio interview on Wednesday, Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Mangaliso Ndlovu said, “We are trying to see ways in which we can reduce the numbers. We have to discuss it at policy level as government. Options are on the table…”
“It’s an option but not a decision yet,” Ndlovu later added by text message to the station. “We will obviously rely on scientific advice.”
The country is home to about 100,000 elephants, the second largest population in the world after neighboring Botswana. The mass killings are better known as culls, and the concept isn’t completely unknown in areas with large animal populations. They can happen for a variety of reasons, such as removing sterile males from the mating population that prevent fertile ones from accessing mates.
In Zimbabwe, authorities are worried that the elephant population has outgrown the resources available, causing the animals to destroy habitats that other species need to survive by eating the bark off trees and killing them. Additionally, the large population increases the chances of violent human-elephant interactions as elephants encroach on farmlands.
Elephants are known for their great intelligence and advanced emotional states compared to other animals, and therefore authorities are concerned about how a cull could affect populations. Notably, elephants can experience Post-traumatic stress disorder. In an effort to minimize those effects, other countries that have initiated culls, such as Uganda, have targeted entire herds for eradication while leaving others completely untouched.
Any discussion of a cull causes alarm bells among animal conservationists, particularly as total elephant populations in Africa have been on the decline over the last decade. However, in both Botswana and Zimbabwe the populations have actually risen considerably. Despite this, the possible plan has received considerable pushback online.
Many people have pointed out that there are other viable solutions to control the population and protect both the animals, other habitats, and farmland. As journalist Yashar Ali pointed out, “The only reasonable solution for Zimbabwe and other countries with large elephant populations is to work on human-wildlife conflict mitigation measures, contraception for elephants, and translocation.”
In particular, translocation has been touted as a viable alternative to not only help reduce the elephant population in Zimbabwe but also bolster the falling populations in other countries. Now, some have wondered why there has been any pushback against a cull, pointing out that animals such as deer are regularly culled across the world.
But it’s not quite apples and oranges. Take the U.S., which often hosts deer culls. The country has over 30 million deer, compared to Zimbabwe’s 100,000 elephants. On top of that, deer can give birth to over 20 fawns in their roughly 10-year lifespan, compared to less than 10 for an elephant during its more than 60 years alive.
For the time being, the plan is still just a proposal. It remains to be seen if Zimbabwe’s government will take such a large-scale cull seriously.