Red Bull settles class action suit about its marketing claims.
Up next – a class action personal injury/paternity suit against Red Bull and the entire vodka industry.
Red Bull settles class action suit about its marketing claims.
Up next – a class action personal injury/paternity suit against Red Bull and the entire vodka industry.
Most observers, Catholic or not, recognized the sea-change brought about by Pope Francis I. An Argentinian Cardinal, Francis supposed a move left for the Catholic Church from the days of Pope Benedict XVI and John Paul II. While Francis hasn’t shocked many with his bending on social issues, his most boisterous attacks have been on economic issues – a move leftward he restated by declaring “unfettered capitalism” a “new tyranny.”
The move isn’t exactly unprecedented. Pope Benedict XVI voiced deep reservations about modern capitalism. In his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, Benedict reiterated “progressive” stances in areas of public unions and economic redistribution; areas often overshadowed within the media by Benedict’s undoubted commitment to baroque liturgies and traditional moral norms. The election of Pope Francis caused everyone from full-time Vaticanologists to the average Catholic in the pew to recognize a shift, a change of emphasis and style, and a laser-like focus on poverty from the new pope. Continue reading
A slew of bars in New Jersey, including 13 franchised TGI Fridays, were busted for selling caramel-colored rubbing alcohol as top-rail scotch, among other things:
At one bar, a mixture that included rubbing alcohol and caramel coloring was sold as scotch. In another, premium liquor bottles were refilled with water – and apparently not even clean water at that.
State officials provided those new details Thursday on raids they conducted a day earlier as part of a yearlong investigation dubbed Operation Swill.
Twenty-nine New Jersey bars and restaurants, including 13 TGI Fridays, were accused of substituting cheap booze – or worse – for top-shelf brands while charging premium prices.
That would explain a lot of the “top shelf” scotch I’ve had, come to think of it…
The Monday Morning Quaterbacking over electronic gambling heats up.
For a funding mechanism that was originally billed to deliver $35 million in revenue per year, and continuously revised down to $17 million and then $1.7, the process of assigning blame should have been viewed as inevitable. But like a legislative Atlas, who would shoulder the majority of the ownership of such a flawed model? Gov. Mark Dayton, who was so publicly aggressive in his defense of a new stadium? The hapless former Republican legislative majorities who acquiesced to the bill? The Star Tribune, whose rampant conflict of interest with any Metrodome-site construction should have called into question their vocal support?
No, the Star Tribune has decided the real culprit are the gambling firms that provided the electronic pull-tab games:
While flawed, the gambling board’s sales estimates were extremely detailed, including the number of bars and restaurants that would adopt e-gambling, the number of devices in play, what hours they would be played and how much money would be wagered.
It projected 2,500 sites would be selling electronic pulltab within six months, or nearly 14 bars and restaurants joining in per day….
Nearly a year after those projections were made, about 200 Minnesota bars and restaurants offer electronic pulltabs, not the 2,500 that had been predicted. Electronic bingo games have just been introduced.
Average daily gross sales for electronic pulltabs have increased to about $69,000, but sales per gambling device have declined.
The firms may have been making bad assumptions about the capacity for Minnesota to support increased charitable gambling, but at least the firms’ figures came out of experiences in states like Montana, South Dakota and Oregon. Still, the basic math of the gambling mechanism was public knowledge long before it was formally added to the final bill.
Minnesotans spend about $1 billion in charitable gambling, which equals the comparatively paltry sum of $36 million in revenue. The Vikings stadium, requiring $35 million a year to cover the State’s $348 million share, would necessitate charitable gambling to either double to $2 billion or entirely overrun the current charitable competition. In that light, it’s little wonder that other charitable organizations were not asked for their opinion. A decision that now is being heavily criticized as charities across the State say some version of “I told you so.”
All the finger-pointing in the world doesn’t help hide the reality that the responsibility for flawed legislation needs to rest with the political leadership that authored it – a fact even the Star Tribune acknowledges:
“There was a willful blindness … driven by pressure politics,” charged David Schultz, a Hamline University political analyst and a professor of nonprofit law…
“This was a deal that was going to happen no matter what,” Schultz said. “The governor wanted a stadium. The money couldn’t come from the general fund. The charities had been asking for electronic games.”
With the clocking ticking closer to midnight on his mayoral legacy, Michael Bloomberg is banning as fast as he can.
In the era of “Yes, We Can,” Michael Bloomberg has long staked his legacy on “No, You Can’t.” In the soon-to-be 12 years since he became Gotham’s Technocrat-in-Chief, Bloomberg has managed to ban, or try to ban: (in no particular order):
Bloomberg’s nanny-ish reach has been so broad that in his waning months he’s repeating himself. Hizzoner’s latest ban plan? Hide cigarettes from public view:
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pushing for a new citywide law requiring stores to physically conceal cigarettes and other tobacco products behind counters, curtains or cabinets—anywhere out of public view—as part of a new anti-smoking initiative.
The legislation would also increase penalties on the smuggling and illegal sales of cigarettes as part of an effort that Bloomberg said would help curb the youth smoking rate and promote a healthier New York City.
Three out of every five cigarettes smoked in New York City were “smuggled” – purchased over state lines where the $4.35 per pack expense, not counting the additional $1.50 per pack levied in New York City, wasn’t an issue. So while smoking in New York is at historic lows (14% according to polling in 2011), most of those gains occurred from 2002 to 2007 – before Bloomberg’s more recent tobacco initiatives to ban workplace and outdoor smoking were set in motion.
Bloomberg isn’t likely to receive much push-back to his latest move. Hitting tobacco is often a political winner and as nanny-state legislation goes, moving tobacco products behind the counter isn’t much of a reach. Bloomberg’s past comments on tobacco put this latest move to shame, with Bloomberg even suggesting that children have the right to sue their parents if they’re exposed to second-hand smoke.
But Bloomberg’s acknowledgment that his past legislation has made underground tobacco sales Gotham’s latest cottage industry stands in stark contrast with his attitudes on marijuana. Last June, in concert with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s move to downgrade possession of pot from a misdemeanor to a violation, Bloomberg chimed in that he would “limit” enforcement of New York City laws against marijuana.
So pot’s okay. But a Big Gulp demands immediate legislation.
But of course, marijuana isn’t tobacco when it comes to the effect on health. Right? A 2012 study at the University of Alabama garnered some press for the headline that marijuana wasn’t as bad for your lungs as tobacco. As usual, the substance of the research was buried by the lede. Smoking marijuana, the study concurred, leads to chronic coughing, wheezing and potentially chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The study even admitted that longer term research would be required to see what the rate of lung cancer was among long-term pot users. Or as one quoted researcher simply put it, “casual or recreational marijuana use is not a safe alternative to tobacco smoking.”
By his actions, Bloomberg demonstrates a capricious sense of how to use the bully pulpit of the mayor’s office. Marijuana restrictions need to be eased because enforcement has not only failed but is as likely to hurt the causal user as the hardcore dealer. Tobacco restrictions need to be tightened even as Bloomberg acknowledges that his previous efforts have driven demand underground. Tobacco users, who legally purchase a legal product over state lines need to be taught a lesson. Marijuana users, who use a product that is currently illegal, are due leniency.
The macro issues of the Drug War aside, at a minimum, Michael Bloomberg has a high threshold for irony.
It’s not you. It’s me.
We even overcame some painful memories, like when you left with that Alberta shopping mall developer for Dallas. I was hurt. But then I realized that a former booster for the North Stars was right when she said: “When [Norm Green] came here, he said, ‘Only an idiot could lose money on hockey in Minnesota.’ Well, I guess he proved that point.”
Since you came back it’s been nice. Not the same, but nice.
But as I said, it’s not you, it’s me. I just can’t take what will likely be a second lost season in nine years. Especially with both sides of your lockout seemingly unwilling to even sit in the same room with a federal mediator and salvage, ala 1994-95, a condensed season and the Stanley Cup:
With the hockey season hanging in the balance, Saturday could prove to be a pivotal day on all fronts. The sides have less than a week to reach a new collective bargaining agreement to save what would likely be a 48-game hockey season….
The players’ association will conclude a two-day vote among its members at 6 p.m. Saturday that will determine whether the union’s executive board will again have the authority to declare a disclaimer of interest.
If the vote passes, as expected, the disclaimer can be issued, and the union would dissolve and become a trade association. That could send this fight to the courts and put the season in jeopardy. The disclaimer would allow players to file individual antitrust suits against the NHL.
Ok, maybe it’s a little you.
Having conceded the necessity of a salary cap after the last strike in 2004-05, the cap has risen from $39 million in 2005 to what will either be $60 or $65 million in 2013. That’s more than a 12% increase every year. And it’s not exactly that the NHL has been booming in popularity or revenue. The Toronto Maple Leafs rank as the NHL’s most valuable franchise at $1 billion with $200 million in revenue generated each year. Solid numbers, to be sure. But paltry in comparison to other major American sports. The NFL’s Dallas Cowboys bring in $500 million each year for a league with a cap of $120 million. The NBA’s New York Knicks generate $244 million each year with a “soft cap” of $58 million – and that’s in a league where 14 of the teams are currently losing money. 12 of the 30 NHL teams are ending up in the red. Even the mightly NFL, supposedly the pater familias of sports business, has three teams losing money.
At least the NFL and NBA have strong TV viewership. The NHL saw the weakest TV ratings for the Stanley Cup in years, despite having two of the largest television markets represented in the series. In that context, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman must be a negotiating genius to get NBC to agree to a 10-year, $2 billion TV deal. Sure, it’s a pittance compared to MLB’s $3 billion, 7-year deal or the NFL’s $3 billion a year contract, but compare numbers. The 2010 Stanley Cup finals had their best ratings in 36 years with 14 share of the TV audience. That’s only a few hundred thousand more viewers than the average audience for a Sunday night NFL game which has a 12.9 share.
In short, among the few who will care if yet another NHL season is lost will be NBC’s executives. Don’t count me among the rest.
Sure, I thought perhaps I’d give you another chance. You almost had me with the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signings, until I realized that not unlike Kevin Garnett’s contract years ago, the signings represent exactly why your league is in decline and locked out. I can’t continue worrying about someone who is so self-destructive.
So goodbye, NHL. I hope you find someone who accepts you despite your many, many flaws. I hear Canada’s single right now.
ADDENDUM: Like the jilted lover who can’t accept being rejected, the NHL returns – at only the cost of half the season:
Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger reports some details:
Deal to end NHL lockout tentative with 10-year CBA (opt-out after 8 years), 7-year contract limit (8 for own players) and $64.3 M cap ’13-14.
That’s right: After the NHL asked for a $60 million cap, the players got the League to move all the way to $64.3.
Even the NHL’s proposed $60 million cap is frankly too high. The $64.3 million cap would currently place 22 teams under the limit (and the cap, of course, is a limit, not a minimum) and force 8 teams to shed payroll – including your Minnesota Wild. All this in a league were nearly 1/3rd of the teams are financially struggling.
The end result? The length of the CBA (10 years) probably means an increased exodus of teams from the US to Canada, as we just saw last year with the Atlanta Thrashers becoming the reincarnated Winnipeg Jets. The NHL’s 90’s mistake of expansion in southern US markets is slowing coming back to bite them. Moving some of the teams north would probably be the best economic decision but only further the NHL’s regional appeal. Not the NHL has learned this lesson yet – the American cities proposed for expansion include decidedly non-hockey markets like Houston and Las Vegas. We may see an NHL franchise contract before this CBA expires, which while being a PR letdown, might actually be what’s best for the league.
The University of Minnesota redraws the lines of success for Gophers football.
Since the state’s introduction to Jerry Kill’s persistent problems with seizures (in what was only his second game, no less), the topic of the health of Minnesota’s football coach has been near verboten by both the University and a complacent media. That may finally change following a turbulent week which saw the team’s leading offensive player quit with a Tolstoy-length screed, the team lose badly to a very beatable Michigan State, and Kill suffer a seizure which forced him to miss the second half:
After Minnesota fell 26-10 to Michigan State, athletic director Norwood Teague said Kill was comfortable and all of his vital signs were fine. Kill was cleared to go home after resting for a few hours.
“I know this will bring up questions about him and moving forward, but we have 100 percent confidence in Jerry,” Teague said, adding: “He’s as healthy as a horse, as they say. It’s just an epileptic situation … that he deals with. He has to continue to monitor all the simple things in life that we all have to monitor, in that you watch your diet, watch your weight, watch your rest, watch your stress.”
The seizure is Kill’s fourth since taking over the Gophers’ program in 2011 and the third during a season (one seizure occurred in the off-season). Newly installed AD Norwood Teague is certainly correct – Kill’s seizures are not the sign of deeper health concerns, nor is there much Kill can do to lessen their occurrence or severity. That fact alone is the main reason why few in or outside the media have taken up the issue.
But can a Division-I football program grow when the man in charge likely can’t make it through an entire season? Kill’s health may not be a concern to the University administration, but it will certainly be an issue in the cut-throat world of college recruiting. Few rival recruiters in Wisconsin or Iowa will have any qualms about raising Kill’s health or the AJ Barker diva saga. Both call into question whether Kill is truly able to handle coaching at a Big 10 level. Kill’s insistence that he treats all players equally sounds wonderful outside of the realities of college athletics where star players expect some deferential treatment. And there’s little question that Kill’s seizures are becoming more frequent He suffered one in 2005 coaching for Southern Illinois. Now, the seizures are a multiple, yearly occurrence.
The University may have few choices in the matter. Kill’s 7-year contract places the U on the hook for $600k each year they buy-out. The U already had to pay $775,000 to get rid of Tim Brewster and is now out a similar amount simply to avoid a home-and-home series against a mediocre North Carolina team. Nor would the University seriously contemplate firing a head coach two years into his stay as his team has improved from 3 wins to 6.
Yet what does the future hold for a Jerry Kill-lead Gophers program? 2012 has revealed a few hints: that Kill doesn’t think his squad can handle an 8-4 team at home in 2014; that he doesn’t know how his best players perceive him; and (fair or not) that his body hasn’t learned to adjust to the stress of coaching a low-level Big 10 team. What exactly about any of those qualities will change in the short-term?
Instead of worrying about such issues, the University seems content to redraw their expectations. $800,000 is a small price to pay for ensure two non-conference victories against Hamline’s intramural flag-football team or whatever cupcake opponents replace North Carolina. Who cares if the head coach is healthy enough to be on the sidelines when you might make the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
The University of Minnesota might be better served asking if those short-term hopes are worth mortgaging their long-term goals – and Jerry Kill’s health.
The GOP’s new motto on immigration reform? Yo quiero pander…to all sides of the debate:
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told Politico that he’s open to giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship in exchange for a temporary moratorium on all legal immigration while they “assimilate.” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a longtime proponent of reform, said legalization should be paired with the repeal of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to anyone born on U.S. soil. And Republican House Speaker John Boehner told reporters on Friday that he would not commit to including a path to citizenship in his immigration reform efforts…
Juan Hernandez, a Texas-based Republican political consultant who served as Sen. John McCain’s director of Hispanic outreach in 2008, said whatever the potential disagreements, congressmen should start hammering out a deal now.
“Should it be with two, three or four steps? That’s fine. Let’s negotiate. But let’s starting taking the first steps immediately,” Hernandez said. “We may not find a political moment again in which at least I see everyone saying it’s time for immigration reform.”
The cries that demographics equal destiny for an eventual GOP shift to the left on all issues pertaining to immigration reform have been shouted for some time. And in the wake of a narrow popular vote re-election for Barack Obama, carried in part by a 44% margin of victory among Latino voters, the cries have renewed with vigor. Even some in the conservative intelligentsia have backed a 2007-esque immigration reform stance, including Sean Hannity and Charles Krauthammer.
But would backing amnesty, a path to citizenship, however the GOP wishes to define such legislation, really give the GOP any electoral edge? Republicans have gained nothing among African-American voters despite the GOP’s critical role in civil rights legislation. Yet pollsters love to mention Bush’s 44% showing among Latinos in 2004 and equally enjoy pointing out 65% of all voters (including 3 out of 4 Latinos) support some opportunity at citizenship for illegal immigrants. Of course, Bush’s Latino support was greatly inflated and was more likely around 38%. And last, but not least, is the data suggesting that immigration from Latin American countries may be actually reversing.
That last part is critical because Latino attitudes towards immigration reform vary depending on whether they were born here or immigrated. While 42% of all Latino voters called immigration reform their number one issue, only 32% of U.S. born Latinos agreed compared to 54% who were foreign born. Financially stable ($80k+ incomes) Latinos and those who are second generation are less likely to focus on immigration reform or support carte blanche amnesty. Those who called Spanish their first language were far more interested in immigration reform than those who said English was their primary language. The greater integrated recent immigrants had become, the less interested they were in immigration concerns.
Republicans focus on Latinos when speaking about immigration reform ignores a number of other demographic groups who have more at stake in any immigration conversation. Asians are now the largest block of recent immigrants, surpassing Hispanic migration. And as a voting block, Asian-Americans voted by similar margins to Latinos for Obama. Where are the breathless newspaper column inches declaring the GOP must court Asian-Americans?
Republican outreach to minority groups has been a priority mothballed election cycle after election cycle. If an election where nearly 13 million fewer voters showed up prompts the GOP to finally engage demographics they’ve thus far all but ignored, then great. But if Republicans try and out liberal liberals on issues like immigration reform, they will continue to find no real opportunities for political gain.
ADDENDUM: Rachel Campos-Duffy at National Review hits the nail on the head of the broader challengers standing between Republicans and Latino voters:
Hispanics come to America for the American Dream. They are “trabajadores,” and you would be hard pressed to find an American farmer, contractor, or restaurant owner who would not testify to their work ethic. Unfortunately, the communities in which they live and work are teeming with liberal activists: farm and service-industry labor unions, well-intentioned community-based social services providers and more radical and racially motivated Latino groups such as La Raza, LULAC, and Mecha. In addition, the curricula their kids encounter in public schools are either hostile or silent on the Founding Fathers, the Constitution, and ideas that are the foundation of conservative thinking. All of these activist groups and institutions have a common ideology and an affinity for big and centralized government, and of course, entitlements. They go out of their way to sign folks up and to begin the cycle of government dependency. Once hooked to the IV of government handouts, a steady drip of ideology, and a heavy dose of raunchy pop culture, the once vibrant American Dreams and traditional family values of Hispanics drift into a slow, deep coma.
Joe Biden isn’t known for subtext – just text.
While the national media has treated Biden as something between a 21st Century Spiro Agnew and that crazy uncle who overstays his welcome during the holidays, Republicans have (dare I say?) celebrated Joe’s Bidenisms as occasional forays into the truth. If Barack Obama represents the modern Democratic Party’s super ego, Biden represents it’s id – the innate instinctive impulses and primary processes.
All of which makes Joe’s latest bombast not terribly surprising:
Campaigning in southern Virginia on Tuesday, Vice President Biden told an audience that Mitt Romney’s approach to regulating the financial industry will “put y’all back in chains,” a remark that triggered a flurry of Republican criticism, including a sharp rebuke from the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.
“Look at their budget and what they’re proposing,” Biden said. “Romney wants to let the – he said in the first hundred days, he is going to let the big banks once again write their own rules. Unchain Wall Street. They are going to put y’all back in chains.”
Biden made the comments at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville, where he kicked off a two-day campaign tour of southern and southwestern Virginia. He spoke before what appeared to be a racially varied audience of 900 people, and one prominent Republican suggested that his language could be interpreted as racially divisive.
The fallout fell on equally predictable lines. The Romney camp tweeted that the comments were “outrageous” and reporters spent the afternoon filing bylines with stories repeating the VP’s gaffe. If anything didn’t go according to script, it was the Democrat response – refusing to acknowledge any error in judgement and actually doubling down on the comment. Biden’s attempt at “clarifying” his words still repeated the claim that Romney/Ryan would “shackle” the middle class.
Are Biden’s comments “outrageous”? No, not by comparison to the media’s attempt to quasi-defend them by providing the sort of context that often seems to be missing from similar Republican errors. Soledad O’Brien led off Anderson Cooper’s 360 by looping numerous Republican officials using the term “unshackle” (ergo, Biden was justified). Politico decried the “death of the high-minded campaign” and despite having only one negative Romney example (in which he hit Biden for a 2007 comment about coal killing more Americans than terrorists), the website placed cover page photos of both contenders, suggesting that both camps have equally contributed to the debasing of the campaign.
Such defenders of context were no where to be found just days ago when Mitt Romney’s factual ad hitting Obama’s new welfare policies had politicos and pundits seeing racial politics. Dan Milbank even unleashed a column that Romney’s ad “incites bigotry.” Perhaps a conservative commentator will rush to pen a piece that explains how Biden’s comments were an attempt at “dog whistle” politics to African-American voters that not only will get published in a major newspaper but go by unchallenged by the Praetorian Guard of the Old Media. But I wouldn’t suggest anyone hold their breath.
The issue shouldn’t be whether or not Joe Biden said something racial but that its become an acceptable part of the political discourse to accuse your opponents of putting voters in a form of bondage that doesn’t involve a safe word. Such a mangled attempt to turn a phrase may pass for the talking heads at MSNBC or on whatever ham radio frequency that Air America continues broadcasting from, but without negative consequences, politicians will continue to feel free to double down on the harshest language possible.
I suppose this isn’t the first time beer has stopped traffic.
A kilometre-long convoy of beer vats is on the move, shutting down roads and downing hydro and cable lines in its path.
Massive vats that can hold six million bottles of beer are being hauled from Hamilton Harbour to a Molson Coors facility near Pearson International Airport in Toronto.
The trip, which is expected to take four nights, began Friday night as the vats — loaded on six flatbed trailers — were slowly pulled out of the docks by transport trucks.
As for me, I prefer Surly, a local beer known for for it’s quality than it’s quantity.
…and at ten bucks for four cans, thusly priced as well.
…for a “liquor-free” Vikings game in the neighborhood.
Value Liquors — which is right next to TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis — tells TMZ they’re preparing for huge business since officials nixed alcohol sales in the college stadium for the matchup with the Chicago Bears.
We’re told the store ordered 50 cases of flasks, and over 4,000 airplane-size bottles of liquor. Hmmm … wonder what fans are gonna do with those?
Peeps at the stadium say flasks and alcohol are strictly prohibited … but fans tend to forget the rules when it’s 20 degrees and snowing.
…and I have a feeling there are a lot of frisk-free places to hide a flask or wee bottle of whiskey.
PS: Don’t ask me what I was doing on the TMZ web site. I wasn’t. I got a verbal tip, Googled it and ended up there.
To: Madames and Sirs
Re: Huge Mistake
To whom it may concern,
Get “Mike’s Hard Limeade” back on your shelves immediately or face the consequences.
That is all.
It’s high time we threw a MOB Winter Party.
The MOB has always thrown its parties at Keegans, largely because the group really was born at Keegans; Terry Keegan has always shown bloggers (and, let’s be honest, the Northern Alliance) a lot of love, and it’s only right to show it right back What kind of person doesn’t take care of his/her friends, especially friends who’ve been under attack by people as venal and stupid as Minneapolis’ city government?
And rest assured, this coming summer at Keegans, with the cigar patio open, will be fantastic, and I’m looking forward to throwing a MOB event and more than a few Blogger Trivia Nights at the Northeast Minneapolis hangout.
But given that it’s the dead of winter, and MOB parties tend to draw so well, it’s time to expand the horizons just a little. We have another establishment that’s on the plate here that not is not only run by one of the good guys, and not only faces a dismal, short-sighted, nanny-statist city government, but has a good-sized indoor party room that’s gonna be nice for a big, indoor party. They have no cigar patio – but face it, in this weather only North Dakotans sit on patios to smoke cigars.
More details later. But suffice to say, a MOB part is in the works, very very presently.
I came across this on my cyber paper route today and it caught my interest as a Scotch/Whiskey/Bourbon drinker (in moderation, of course)…
“We can make so much more of malt whisky as an industry,” said Thomson, 54, who submitted plans for local government approval on Nov. 12. “We haven’t even begun to tap into the potential interest.”
Economic gains in China and India are fueling a growth market for the better booze.
I like to sip Glenfiddich, Jack Daniels and recently started a bottle of Old Weller Antique 107 (thanks Dad).
What are your favorite malt spirits?