- Late Monday, New York City’s Detectives’ Endowment Association and Police Benevolent Association said three NYPD officers were intentionally poisoned at a Shake Shack.
- Authorities claimed one or more Shake Shack employees put a toxic substance, believed to be bleach, in the officers’ milkshakes.
- But hours later, law enforcement officials said they found “no criminality,” after learning that a cleaning solution left in the machine accidentally made its way into the shakes.
- Many are now outraged at authorities for rushing to make false accusations that portrayed them as victims before conducting a proper investigation.
- Authorities have now started deleting their initial statements and their later clarifications about finding “no criminality,” but it’s unclear if a new statement is on its way.
Police Announce Intentional Poisoning Incident
The killing of George Floyd reignited widespread frustration with law enforcement agencies across the country, but fear felt by the police themselves seemed to be a topic of conversation Monday when three NYPD officers were believed to have been poisoned.
Late Monday, New York City’s Detectives’ Endowment Association, published a safety message noting that three officers were “intentionally poisoned by one or more workers” at a Shake Shack in Manhattan.
The statement from the association’s president Paul DiGiacomo continued with, “After tasting the milk shakes they purchased they became ill, making it necessary for them to go to an area hospital. Fortunately, our fellow officers were not seriously harmed.”
It then went on to note that police across the country are “under attack by vicious criminals who dislike us simply because of the uniform we wear,” adding “Emboldened by pandering elected officials, these cowards will go to great lengths to harm any member of law enforcement.”
To deal with all this, DiGiacomo warned officers to be vigilant and not buy food from places they aren’t familiar with.
Around the same time, Patrick Lynch, the city’s Police Benevolent Association president, issued a similar statement warning officers to use caution. “When New York City police officers cannot even take a meal without coming under attack, it is clear that environment in which we work has deteriorated at a critical level. We cannot afford to let our guard down for even a moment,” he said.
But in that statement, Lynch specifically claimed the three officers who went to Shake Shack discovered that, “a toxic substance, believed to be bleach, had been placed in their beverages.”
The reports were met with a ton of different responses online. Fox News host Sean Hannity shared the news on Twitter and according to The Guardian, Donald Trump Jr. said in a now-deleted tweet, “Where are the Democrats who are denouncing NYPD officers getting poisoned on the job? Their silence is deafening.”
Conservative commentator Tomi Lahren even chimed in, calling it, “Despicable but not surprising. The war on cops has been reignited and the Left is complicit.”
On top of that, there were others calling for a boycott of the burger chain and demanding that those responsible be prosecuted. Some even called this incident attempted murder, like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Fox News contributor.
Still, others doubted the story altogether, calling the police liars.
@NYCPBA are liars. The policemen probably discovered a clump of ice cream in their milkshakes and every restaurant has to maintain stringent disinfection requirements due to COVOD19, ergo the smell of bleach. If a store DOESN’T smell like disinfectant, you shouldn’t go in.— GeauxTigers516@🏠 (@GeauxTigers516) June 16, 2020
Shake Shack eventually addressed the situation, saying that they were “horrified” by the reports and were working with investigators.
No Criminality Found By Shake Shack Employees
But NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison tweeted early Tuesday, that after a thorough investigation “it had been determined that there was no criminality by shake shack’s employees”
At that time, Shake Shake shared the tweet and added that it was still working to get a full picture of what happened.
Later Tuesday morning, the Detectives’ Endowment Association reiterated the chief’s statement, tweeting, “Although the investigation is still ongoing, at this point NYPD investigators have found ‘no criminality’ in how these officers got sick. Initially, it was reported that whatever toxic substance made the officers ill was intentionally placed in their drinks.“
“Evidently, however, the toxic substance, a cleaning solution, accidentally made its way into the officers’ shakes. If so, we are all relieved to hear that this was not an intentional attempt to harm our officers and are pleased to report they will make a full recovery.”
It followed that up with a thank you message to NYPD personnel and Shake Shack for their cooperation, adding, “The fact remains, please stay vigilant, stay safe and always be aware of your surroundings.”
The Police Benevolent Association also published a similar update underneath their initial statement a few hours later.
Outrage Over False Accusations
This major update was quickly met with a slew of different reactions. There were some who found the explanation unbelievable.
Accidentally? How does cleaning solution accidentally get in just 3 shakes, only 3, which just happened to be given to 3 Officers?— Zebra78610 (@zebra78610) June 16, 2020
Ok, so did this substance “accidentally” make its way into ONLY the officers beverages, or were other customers sickened as well?— Chris Primavera (@ChrisPrimavera) June 16, 2020
Something is not adding up.
But now that police said it wasn’t an intentional attack, a lot of people were furious at them for rushing to judgment in their previous statements. Some were angry that they falsely accused Shake Shack employees of a crime. Others called for an apology and for the original statements to be removed.
This is not an apology or a retraction.— The Sassiest Semite (@LittleMissLizz) June 16, 2020
Then take down that URGENT message accusing the employees of an intent to poison. Also, apologize and take responsibility. Damn.— Mina ⁷ #AGUSTD2 (@minaeveryone) June 16, 2020
One internet user said the false claim shows a “concerning-increased paranoia among law enforcement will only lead to more mistakes.”
Meanwhile, plenty of people slammed figures like Lahren, Hannity, and Trump Jr. for sharing the false reports even after the chief clarified that there was no intention to poison the officers. Lahren then later issued an update saying she’s happy to hear this but, “Our officers are still under attack and need to be concerned for their safety every single day, especially in this anti-cop climate. I pray for their safety.”
Though in a later tweet she noted that she wants to be updated on this situation because “the whole thing doesn’t seem quite right.”
Authorities Delete Statements
Eventually, the Detectives’ Endowment Associated removed their initial “Urgent Message.” The City’s Police Benevolent Association did the same hours later, also deleting their update about finding “no criminality.”
Without explanation, the DEA also deleted one part of its three-part statement, which explained that “the toxic, substance, a cleaning solution, accidentally made its way,” into the shakes.
At this time, it’s unclear if authorities are planning to release a new statement.
Regardless, this situation seems to have heightened the distrust people have in New York officers. For many, this looked like another instance of officers lying and trying to make themselves look like victims.
Just last week, many were outraged after the state’s police union head demanded the public, “Stop treating us like animals and thugs and start treating us with some respect.” Audio from the union official’s speech was eventually edited over a supercut showing officers using excessive force during protests. So now with this incident, many in the community are feeling renewed frustration with law enforcement.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (New York Magazine) (Fox Business)
Supply Chain Issues Trigger Price Hikes, School Lunch Shortages, and More
Many news outlets have cited experts warning of supply chain issues affecting holiday spending, but the consequences of ongoing bottlenecks are already being felt across the country.
Schools Struggle for Food
A host of supply chain bottlenecks are affecting products and businesses throughout the U.S., forcing prices of goods and services to rise.
In Colorado, the Denver Public Schools system said it’s struggling to make sure it has enough milk for students on a daily basis, Insider reported Sunday. In fact, the schools are so short on milk cartons they’ve now resorted to asking students to bring refillable water bottles instead.
“When the milk is available, we are prioritizing serving milk at breakfast at all schools and at our elementary schools for lunch,” Theresa Hafner, DPS executive director of Food Services, told Insider in an email.
Meanwhile, other schools are struggling to find additional lunch-related supplies including meats, orange juice, meal trays, and plastic cutlery.
According to NBC News, Shonia Hall, director of school nutrition services for Oklahoma City Public Schools, even found herself needing to make a run to a local Sam’s Club to purchase 60,000 spoons and forks each just “to get us through for a few days in hopes the truck would show up.”
“It’s an additional cost to your budget, to your program,” she added.
Zillow Pauses House Buying
The issues also extend to the housing market, as both labor and supply shortages have led to operational backlogs for renovations and closings.
Zillow cited those issues Sunday when announcing that it would stop buying homes at least through December. Instead, the company said it plans to first prioritize the selling of its current catalog of homes.
“We’re operating within a labor- and supply-constrained economy inside a competitive real estate market, especially in the construction, renovation and closing spaces,” Jeremy Wacksman, Zillow’s chief operating officer, said in a statement cited by Yahoo! Finance.
Zillow’s share price fell as much as 11% from around $94 to around $84 early Monday as investors pulled out of the company.
What’s Causing the Issues?
U.S. companies are having a hard time stocking their shelves with certain products and keeping prices from rising largely because of factors induced by the pandemic.
The first and most basic issue is that last year, most consumer spending halted amid COVID-19 lockdowns in March. Around that same time, many companies were forced to scale back production and lay off workers.
However, more people are now returning to the outside world, and with that comes a boost in shopping. Still, several businesses have found themselves unable to ramp up production to meet the increased and arguably unprecedented demand.
In addition to production issues, there are numerous transportation challenges. For example, a large wave of businesses have struggled for months to fill open positions. One such industry where that’s being acutely felt is trucking.
In fact, the country is so stressed for drivers to haul freight that at least one high school in California has now launched a program to train seniors to drive big rigs.
Meanwhile, Walmart, UPS, and FedEx all made 24/7 transportation commitments last week.
The supply chains problems don’t stop with ground transportation. One of the most pressing situations seen so far involves the problems at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in California, where container ships are backed up.
Pre-pandemic, it was fairly unusual for any cargo ship to be seen waiting off the coast to get into one of the two ports, which process 40% of all shipping containers entering the U.S. Now, dozens of ships have been waiting weeks to get in.
Even once they unload, there’s another major backlog involving shipping containers at the ports. Because of those combined issues, Long Beach extended its operational hours in September.
President Joe Biden later announced on Oct. 13 that L.A.’s port will “operat[e] around the clock 24/7” as part of a “90-day sprint” to clear a path for cargo.
Supply chain issues are expected to impact holiday shoppers, but many analysts expect the problems to extend well into 2022. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg echoed that prediction on Sunday during an appearance on CNN.
See what others are saying: (NBC News) (Insider) (Wall Street Journal)
Facebook Is Reviewing More Than 2,200 Hours of Footage for Next-Gen AI
The project, which could prove to be revolutionary, is already raising some big privacy concerns.
Facebook’s Next-Gen AI
Facebook announced Thursday that it has captured more than 2,200 hours of first-person video that it will use to train next-gen AI models.
The company said it aims to make the AI, called Ego4D, capable of understanding and identifying both real and virtual objects through a first-person perspective using smart glasses or VR headsets. In effect, that could potentially help users do everything from remembering where they placed forgotten items to recording others in secret.
Facebook listed five key scenarios the project aims to tackle and gave real-world examples of how each may look for people who will eventually use the AI.
- “What happened when?” With that scenario, Facebook gave the example, “Where did I leave my keys?”
- “What am I likely to do next?” There, Facebook gave the example, “Wait, you’ve already added salt to this recipe.”
- “What am I doing?” For example, “What was the main topic during class?”
- “Who said what when?” For example, “What was the main topic during class?”
- “Who is interacting with whom?” For example, “Help me better hear the person talking to me at this noisy restaurant.”
Facebook said the amount of footage it has collected is 20 times greater than any other data set used by the company.
In the wake of recent controversy surrounding Facebook, it’s important to note that the footage wasn’t reaped from users. Instead, the company said it, and 13 university partners, compiled the footage from more than 700 participants around the world.
Still, that hasn’t alleviated all privacy concerns.
In an article titled, “Facebook is researching AI systems that see, hear, and remember everything you do,” The Verge writer James Vincent said that although the project’s guidelines seem practical, “the company’s interest in this area will worry many.”
Vincent pointe out that the AI announcement doesn’t mention anything in the way of privacy or removing data for people who may not want to be recorded.
A Facebook spokesperson later assured Vincent that privacy safeguards will be introduced to the public in the future.
“For example, before AR glasses can enhance someone’s voice, there could be a protocol in place that they follow to ask someone else’s glasses for permission, or they could limit the range of the device so it can only pick up sounds from the people with whom I am already having a conversation or who are in my immediate vicinity,” the spokesperson said.
Among positive reception, some believe the tech could be revolutionary for helping people around the house, as well as for teaching robots to more rapidly learn about their surroundings.
FDA Issues Its First E-Cigarette Authorization Ever
The authorization only applies to tobacco-flavored products, as the FDA simultaneously rejected several sweet and fruit-flavored e-cigarette cartridges.
FDA Approves E-Cigarette
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an e-cigarette pen sold under the brand name Vuse on Tuesday, as well as two tobacco-flavored cartridges that can be used with the pen.
This marks the first time the FDA has ever authorized the use of vaping products. In a news release, the agency said it made the decision because “the authorized products’ aerosols are significantly less toxic than combusted cigarettes based on available data.”
“The manufacturer’s data demonstrates its tobacco-flavored products could benefit addicted adult smokers who switch to these products — either completely or with a significant reduction in cigarette consumption — by reducing their exposure to harmful chemicals,” the agency added.
The company that owns Vuse, R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company, also submitted several sweet and fruit-flavored pods for review; however, those were all rejected. While the FDA did not specify which flavors it rejected, it did note that it has yet to make a decision on whether to allow menthol-flavored e-cigarettes, including ones sold under Vuse.
FDA Is Reviewing All Vape Products Still on the Market
In January 2020, the FDA banned pre-filled pods with sweet and fruity flavors from being sold. While other e-cigarette related products, including some forms of flavored vapes, were allowed to stay on the market for the time being, they were only able to do so if they were submitted for FDA review.
The FDA’s primary issue with fruity cartridges stems from statistics showing that those pods more easily hook new smokers, particularly underage smokers.
In fact, in its approval of the Vuse products, the FDA said it only authorized them because it “determined that the potential benefit to smokers who switch completely or significantly reduce their cigarette use, would outweigh the risk to youth, provided the applicant follows post-marketing requirements aimed at reducing youth exposure and access to the products.”
While some have cheered the FDA’s decision, not everyone was enthusiastic. Many critics cited a joint FDA-CDC study in which nearly 11% of teens who said they vape also indicated regularly using Vuse products.