- 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)
Tesla Suspends Bitcoin Purchases Over Environmental Impact, Causing Coin’s Value To Crash 20%
- Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Wednesday that his electric vehicle company would be ceasing all Bitcoin sales effective immediately, even though it just started using the cryptocurrency in March.
- The announcement prompted a massive sell-off of Bitcoin, which plunged almost 20% on Wednesday.
- In his statement, Musk said, “We are concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel.”
- Many have since accused Musk of manipulating the crypto market since Bitcoin’s environmental impact has long been one of its most controversial facets.
Tesla Suspends Bitcoin Purchases
Volatility is essentially a prerequisite for Bitcoin, but Wednesday proved to be an especially bad day for the cryptocurrency after Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the electric vehicle company would no longer be accepting the coin as a form of payment.
At the beginning of the day, Bitcoin was trading for around $57,000. Following Musk’s announcement, it had fallen to a 24-hour low of just over $46,000 — amounting to a nearly 20% drop in value.
“We are concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel,” Musk said via Twitter. “Cryptocurrency is a good idea on many levels and we believe it has a promising future, but this cannot come at great cost to the environment.”
This policy update comes after only months after Tesla disclosed in February that it had bought $1.5 billion in Bitcoin. It also comes after the company began accepting Bitcoin as payment for vehicles in March.
Still, with this sudden about-face, Musk said, “Tesla will not be selling any Bitcoin and we intend to use it for transactions as soon as mining transitions to more sustainable energy. We are also looking at other cryptocurrencies that use <1% of Bitcoin’s energy/transaction.”
Bitcoin’s Environmental Impact
Musk tweeted a graph Thursday morning from Cambridge’s Centre for Alternative Finance that shows Bitcoin’s increasing energy use since 2016.
In March, researchers with the Centre reported that Bitcoin’s energy consumption has jumped 80% since the beginning of 2020.
Bitcoin’s impact on the environment has long been a subject of debate since mining it takes excessive amounts of electrical energy, but that problem has only gotten worse with the coin’s continued growth.
On Monday, Ars Technica reported that a defunct coal power plant in upstate New York has been restarted to mine Bitcoin. In January, Iranian officials partly blamed Bitcoin for mass blackouts in the country. Researchers have even found that Bitcoin mining uses more energy than places like Argentina, a country with 45 million people.
Is Musk Manipulating the Market?
The overall reaction to Musk’s announcement was less than favorable, with many accusing the billionaire of manipulating the crypto market.
“[This is] the same guy who’s been pulling the levers on crypto and has everyone following his every move,” Dave Portnoy, the controversial owner of Barstool Sports, said. “He’s sending Dogecoin up. He’s sending Bitcoin down. This is bullshit.
“Elon, you have responsibility when one second you say to buy something and the next second you don’t,” Portnoy added. “That’s playing with people’s futures, their fortunes.”
Others made similar statements accusing Musk of essentially controlling Bitcoin prices, with MMA fighter Keith Berry saying, “Elon is a smart cookie, do you really think he didn’t know about energy usages on #Bitcoin after he bought 1.5B in BTC in December 2020”
Still, some argued that recent disappointment in Musk is good for Bitcoin in the long term.
“This is great for #Bitcoin,” one person tweeted. “It should never depend on the thoughts and opinions of a single entity. The Elon Musk effect is being priced out and that’s positive for the cryptocurrency industry in the long run.”
See what others are saying: (Reuters) (CNBC) (The New York Times)
U.S. Gas Prices Hit $3 Per Gallon, a 7-year High, as Buyers Panicked During the Colonial Pipeline Shutdown
- The national average gas price has climbed above $3 for the first time in seven years.
- The increase comes as the country’s largest fuel pipeline remains largely shuttered for the sixth day in a row following a ransomware attack, leading to panic buying and massive gas shortages in some cities.
- Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the company behind the pipeline should be able to make a decision on a full restart of the system by the end of Wednesday.
- Still, she cautioned that it will take several days for fuel supplies to go back to normal.
Update: Colonial Pipeline restarted operations at 5 p.m. EST Wednesday. “Following this restart it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal,” Colonial said in a statement. “Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period.”
Panic Buying Drives Fuel Shortages
The national average gas price reached $3.008 Wednesday, its highest value in seven years.
The jump is largely being driven by two factors. The first is that the country’s largest fuel pipeline was forced to shut down last Friday following a ransomware attack by the criminal gang Darkside. That pipeline, owned by the Colonial Pipeline Company, stretches from Texas to New York and supplies 45% of the East Coast’s fuel.
The second is that panic buying related to the shutdown and fears of fuel scarcity have exacerbated the problem. In fact, Tuesday evening, over 1,000 gas stations in the Southeast ran dry.
By Wednesday, the situation was even worse. Nearly a quarter of all stations in North Carolina were out of gas, and in urban areas like Charlotte, 71% of stations were empty. Meanwhile, around 15% percent of stations in both Georgia and Virginia were out of gas, and in the Atlanta metro area, 60% of stations had been depleted.
Photos and video from affected states show hours-long lines. Some people have reported waiting more than five hours to get to the pump. Others have shared images of “out of fuel” signs. Stretching pumps even thinner are reports that many drivers are simply trying to top off mostly-full tanks or gas cans.
In one tense situation captured at a gas station near Raleigh, North Carolina, a woman can be seen spitting on a man and hitting a car after she reportedly tried to cut the line. The man fires back a spit of his own, leading to a fight between the two.
When Will the Pipeline Be Back?
On Monday, some (but not most) of the pipeline was brought back manually. Colonial Pipeline officials have also said they hope to restart most operations by the end of the week.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm also told reporters Tuesday that Colonial should be in a position to make a decision on a full restart by the end of Wednesday; however, it’s likely going to take several days for fuel supplies to return to normal even after operations recover.
“Much as there was no cause for, say, hoarding toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic, there should be no cause for hoarding gasoline,” Granholm said.
Many analysts have echoed that warning, telling people to fuel up only if they need to and asking them to try to conserve as much gas as possible until the pipeline becomes largely operational again.
The governors of Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia have all declared states of emergency to try to stave off shortages and keep gas prices down.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (USA Today) (MarketWatch)
GLAAD Report Finds All Top Social Media Platforms “Effectively Unsafe” for LGBTQ+ Users
- The LGBTQ+ media monitoring organization GLAAD said in a Sunday report that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok are all “effectively unsafe for LGBTQ users.”
- Of the 64% of respondents who told GLAAD they’ve faced anti-LGBTQ+ hate speech or harassment online, 75% said at least some came from Facebook, which performed the most poorly of all five platforms.
- The report highlights more than just hate speech, as GLAAD notes that “inadequate content moderation, polarizing algorithms, and discriminatory AI” also negatively affect LGBTQ+ users.
- “This is about less watchdogging, more partnering with these platforms to get it right,” GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said while calling the report a starting point for how platforms can change.
Anti-LGBTQ+ Hate Speech Rampant on Social Media Sites
The LGBTQ+ media monitoring organization GLAAD has published a report that classifies every top social media platform as “effectively unsafe for LGBTQ users.”
That includes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
“Of special concern, the prevalence and intensity of hate speech and harassment stands out as the most significant problem in urgent need of improvement,” GLAAD said in the report released Sunday.
The organization noted 64% of LGBTQ+ social media users have experienced harassment and hate speech online, which it said is higher than all other identity groups.
Of the five platforms, Facebook was far and above the worst offender. In fact, GLAAD reported that 75% of the LGBTQ+ respondents who’ve experienced online harassment said at least some of that harassment happened on Facebook.
Meanwhile, 24% percent of respondents said they have faced similar harassment on Twitter and Instagram each. YouTube came in just below those figures at 21%, and TikTok saw the lowest harassment level of the five at 9%.
GLAAD’s president and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis said that while the organization was originally going to give each platform a grade, “What we ended up realizing is that if we started grading, they’d all fail, quite frankly.”
Content Moderation and AI
It’s not just hate speech. “Inadequate content moderation, polarizing algorithms, and discriminatory AI” were also listed among the specific problems that GLAAD hopes these social media platforms will address.
The organization even listed several “urgent recommendations,” which read:
- “Stop allowing algorithms to fuel extremism and hate. Similarly, confront the problem of bias in AI.”
- “Make it easier for users to report problematic content, be transparent in content moderation, and use more human moderators.”
- “Employ a dedicated LGBTQ policy lead.”
- “Respect data privacy, especially where LGBTQ people are vulnerable to serious harms and violence.”
It also called for platforms to more strongly enforce misinformation labels and restrict hashtags/shares of anti-LGBTQ content.
“This is about less watchdogging, more partnering with these platforms to get it right,” Ellis said, summing up the purpose of the report as a “roadmap” for platforms to begin implementing change.