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Entertainment

DeuxMoi Apologizes to Jesse Metcalfe, Sends Advice to Celebs Who See Blind Items About Themselves

Jesse Metcalfe has received an apology from celeb gossip Instagram account DeuxMoi after he responded to a blind item that was seemingly about him.

Last week, DeuxMoi posted an anonymous tip that was from a fake “John Tucker” email with the subject “The Gardener is in UK.” These two mentions referred to his roles in John Tucker Must Die and Desperate Housewives.

The tip read, “My friend hooked up a z list hallmark actor on the weekend that is recently single. He could not stop talking about himself. There’s also some drama with hallmark on why they won’t hire him anymore.”

Jesse responded to the tip by saying, “This is BULLS–T.”

Click inside to see the apology that DeuxMoi issued…

A week later, DeuxMoi posted an apology. First, the account shared a disclaimer about the blind items.

“Because some emails are submitted using fake email addresses there is no way to verify all the claims submitted. Read all emails with discernment as some are straight up bulls–t. Some emails are able to later be confirmed. Some emails I write myself based on information I am able to confirm. I can not confirm any guesses to blind items and will not put anything in writing that alludes to any actual information I know,” DeuxMoi said.

The next post was the apology for Jesse.

“I would like to publicly apologize to Jesse Metcalfe for posting that ‘bulls–t’ email last week,” DeuxMoi said. “I didn’t know he was a working actor nor did I know he was in Hallmark movies as I do not watch that channel so I definitely thought the email was about someone no one knew.”

DeuxMoi added some advice for celebs. They said, “Little tip… if you think an email is about you, don’t publicly respond to it if you don’t want to bring attention to yourself. DM me and I will quietly delete it & most likely people will forget it even existed.”

Find out which celebrity DeuxMoi refuses to post about!

Categories
Entertainment

Mary-Louise Parker's Play 'How I Learned to Drive' Gets 2-Week Extension After Tony Noms!

Mary-Louise Parker got some great news this week!

After receiving a Tony nomination for her work in the play How I Learned to Drive, it was just announced that the play has been given a two-week extension and is now running through June 12.

Mary-Louise and co-star David Morse celebrated their nominations at the 2022 Tony Awards Meet the Nominees Press Event on Thursday (May 12) at Sofitel in New York City.

MLP is up for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play and she was joined at the event by the four other women in her category – The Skin of Our Teeth‘s Gabby Beans, Trouble in Mind‘s LaChanze, Macbeth‘s Ruth Negga, and Dana H‘s Deirdre O’Connell.

David is nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play and he was joined at the event by category mates Sam Rockwell for American Buffalo and Ruben Santiago-Hudson for Lackawanna Blues.

Also in attendance were Supporting Actor nominees Alfie Allen for Hangmen and Chuck Cooper for Trouble in Mind, as well as Featured Actress nominees Uzo Aduba and Kara Young for Clyde’s, Kenita R. Miller for For Colored Girls, and Phylicia Rashad for Skeleton Crew.

Check out more stars at the nominees event: [Post 1] [Post 2] [Post 3]

Click through the gallery for more photos from the event…

Photos: Getty Posted to: 2022 Tony Awards, Alfie Allen, Chuck Cooper, David Morse, Deirdre O’Connell, Gabby Beans, Kara Young, Kenita R. Miller, LaChanze, Mary Louise Parker, Phylicia Rashad, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Ruth Negga, Sam Rockwell, Tony Awards, Uzo Aduba

Categories
Politics

Report: Trump Officials Helped Meatpackers Thwart Covid Safety Measures

Workers at a Missouri pork-processing facility in 2017, prior to the pandemic.Preston Keres/Planet Pix via ZUMA Wire

This investigation was originally published by the Guardian. It is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Trump officials “collaborated” with the meatpacking industry to downplay the threat of Covid to plant workers and block public health measures which could have saved lives, a damning new investigation has found.

Internal documents reviewed by the congressional select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis reveal how industry representatives lobbied government officials to stifle “pesky” health departments from imposing evidence-based safety measures to curtail the virus spreading—and tried to obscure worker deaths from these authorities.

At least 59,000 workers at five of the largest meatpacking companies—Tyson Foods, JBS USA Holdings, Smithfield Foods, Cargill and National Beef Packing Company which are the subject of the congressional inquiry—contracted Covid in the first year of the pandemic, of whom at least 269 died.

According to internal communications, the companies were warned about workers and their families falling sick within weeks of the virus hitting the US. Despite this, company representatives enlisted industry-friendly Trump appointees at the USDA to fight their battles against Covid regulations and oversight.

In addition, company executives intentionally stoked fears about meat shortages in order to justify continuing to operate the plants under dangerous conditions. The fears were baseless—there were no meat shortages in the US, while exports to China hit record highs.

Yet in April 2020, Trump issued an executive order invoking the Defense Production Act to keep meat plants open following a flurry of communication between the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, the vice-president’s office, USDA allies and company executives.

The order, which was proposed by Smithfield and Tyson (whose legal department also wrote the draft), was an overt attempt to override health departments and force meat plant workers—who are mostly immigrants, refugees and people of color—to keep working without adequate protections while shielding the industry from lawsuits.

James Clyburn, chairman of the subcommittee, condemned the conduct of the industry executives and their government allies as “shameful.”

“Trump’s political appointees at USDA collaborated with large meatpacking companies to lead an administration-wide effort to force workers to remain on the job during the coronavirus crisis despite dangerous conditions, and even to prevent the imposition of commonsense mitigation measures. This coordinated campaign prioritized industry production over the health of workers and communities, and contributed to tens of thousands of workers becoming ill, hundreds of workers dying, and the virus spreading throughout surrounding areas.”

The meatpacking industry, which includes slaughterhouses and processing plants—is one of the most profitable and dangerous in the US. It is a monopoly business, with just a handful of powerful multinationals dominating the supply chain which, even before Covid, was bad news for farmers, workers, consumers and animal welfare.

As Covid spread, the industry was warned about the high risk of transmission in their plants. For example, a doctor near the JBS facility in Cactus, Texas, wrote to a company executive in April 2020 saying “100 percent of all Covid-19 patients we have in the hospital are either direct employees or family member[s] of your employees,” warning that “your employees will get sick and may die if this factory continues to be open.”

In late May 2020—well after the importance of prevention measures such as testing, social distancing and personal protective equipment was widely recognized—an executive told an industry lobbyist that temperature screening was “all we should be doing.” The lobbyist agreed, replying: “Now to get rid of those pesky health departments!”

The report, Now to get rid of those pesky healthy departments!, reveals how USDA Trump appointees did the industry’s bidding in order to carry on with business as usual. The report is based on more than 151,000 pages of documents collected from meatpacking companies and interest groups, as well as interviews with meatpacking workers, former USDA and CDC officials, and state and local health authorities among others.

The documents show that:

  • In March 2020, the industry aggressively lobbied USDA officials, who in turn escalated their wishes to Vice President Mike Pence’s office, to ensure states were advised to designate meatpacking workers as “critical infrastructure” employees who could be exempt from social distancing and stay at home orders. This conduct was “particularly egregious considering that the nation’s meat supply was not actually at risk,” the subcommittee found.
  • Mindy Brashears, the undersecretary of food safety, was considered the go-to fixer, who could stop health departments enforcing Covid safety measures at local plants. Brashears “hasn’t lost a battle for us,” said one lobbyist.
  • Career USDA staff told the congressional subcommittee how they were sidelined, while Brashears and her deputies communicated with industry officials on their personal phones in order to avoid leaving a paper trail.
  • Meatpacking companies also successfully lobbied USDA officials to advocate for Department of Labor policies that deprived their employees of benefits if they missed work or quit, while also seeking insulation from legal liability if workers then fell ill or died.

As reports of Covid clusters at meatpacking plants increased, industry officials and the USDA jointly lobbied the White House to dissuade frightened workers from staying home or quitting. For instance in April 2020 the CEOs of JBS, Smithfield and Tyson among other companies asked the secretary of agriculture, Sonny Perdue, during a call to “elevate the need for messaging about the importance of our workforce staying at work to the POTUS or VP level.”

It worked. At a press briefing soon after, Mike Pence told meatpacking workers that “we need you to continue … to show up and do your job,” admonishing recent “incidents of worker absenteeism.”

The report concludes: “Meatpacking companies knew the risk posed by the coronavirus to their workers and knew it wasn’t a risk that the country needed them to take. They nonetheless lobbied aggressively—successfully enlisting USDA as a close collaborator in their efforts—to keep workers on the job in unsafe conditions, to ensure state and local health authorities were powerless to mandate otherwise, and to be protected against legal liability for the harms that would result.”

The trade association for meat and poultry packers and processors rejected the report’s findings and accused the subcommittee of “cherry-picking data.”

“The report ignores the rigorous and comprehensive measures companies enacted to protect employees and support their critical infrastructure workers,” said Julie Anna Potts, president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute.

In addition, a spokesperson for JBS said the company “did everything possible to ensure the safety of our people who kept our critical food supply chain running.” In a statement Cargill said: “We’ve worked hard to maintain safe and consistent operations to feed families during the pandemic, yet we did not hesitate to temporarily idle or reduce capacity at processing plants in the interest of our employees’ wellbeing.”

A spokesman for Smithfield said: “The concerns we expressed were very real and we are thankful that a food crisis was averted and that we are starting to return to normal…Did we make every effort to share with government officials our perspective on the pandemic and how it was impacting the food production system? Absolutely.”

Tyson said collaboration with the government was crucial to the supply chain and for worker safety: “Over the past two years, our company has been contacted by, received direction from, and collaborated with many different federal, state and local officials—including both the Trump and Biden Administrations—as we’ve navigated the challenges of the pandemic.”

The subcommittee investigation into the meatpacking industry’s response to the pandemic was launched in February 2021 following reports that meat companies had refused to take adequate safety measures precautions to protect workers during the first year of the pandemic. Last year, the subcommittee found that the illness and death toll at plants owned by the five big meatpackers had been grossly underestimated, and that the companies put profits over worker safety.

The Guardian has contacted the USDA and former Trump administration officials for comment.

Categories
Technology

Amazon’s Alexa app feature lets customers option to scan their shopping receipts for cashback rewards

It’s been said that no one uses Alexa for voice-based shopping. But retail giant still sees the potential for Alexa as a shopping companion — just in a different way. That’s why this month the company quietly rolled out a new feature designed to boost consumers’ use of Alexa’s Shopping Lists: cashback offers.

The company confirmed to TechCrunch it introduced “Alexa Shopping List Savings,” which puts rebate offers from brands and manufacturers directly into consumers’ hands through the Alexa app, its mobile companion app for Echo device owners. The company says the offers will be displayed in the Alexa Shopping List section within the app and then can be used across retail stores nationwide to help customers save money.

To use the feature, you’d first select the offers of interest and activate them in the app, then visit your favorite grocery store, drug store, or chain store to buy the product, the Amazon website explains in an FAQ. The details about the offers around how they can be applied are also available in the app, Amazon notes. When you’ve completed your purchase, shoppers claim their rebate by taking a photo of the store receipt that shows the store’s name, location, date and time of purchases, product price and total, then submit it to Amazon through the app. Customers also have to scan the barcode on the product itself to complete the process.

Amazon will send the rebate to the customer via their Amazon Gift Card account. This process may take up to a week but typically takes just 24-48 hours, Amazon says. The Gift Card balance can be used to shop across tens of millions of eligible products on Amazon.

Image Credits: Amazon

As you may expect, this system provides Amazon with a treasure trove of customer shopping data beyond just the offers customers were interested in and were redeeming.

The website notes that by choosing to participate in the Alexa Shopping List Savings program, customers are agreeing to share their personal information and data with Amazon:

… we will get any information you provide, including receipt images and information we may extract from those receipts, and the offers you activate. You understand and acknowledge that your personal information may be shared with Amazon’s service providers.

The data will be used and shared per Amazon’s privacy policy terms, the site notes. Further details were not provided.

Broadly, this business model is not unique to Amazon. Other apps offer similar tools to turn customers’ retail store receipts into “free” gift cards. (They’re not really free — you paid with your data!) For instance, apps like Fetch Rewards, Ibotta, Checkout51 and others make money through affiliate commissions, through the resale of customers’ anonymized data or both, then share some of that revenue back with the customer in the form of cash back or gift cards.

Like rival apps, Amazon’s offers tend to be the same sort of grocery rewards you’d see elsewhere. This includes consumer packaged goods, health and beauty items, baby items, canned food and more — not fresh groceries or other retail categories, like electronics or apparel.

Of course, some people don’t mind sharing their data with businesses in exchange for rewards or cash back — top apps like Fetch and Ibotta have millions of users, in fact. But consumers should be aware that Amazon’s privacy policy makes no promises of anonymizing any data nor does it explain in detail exactly how this data will be put to use.

The feature is live in the Amazon Alexa mobile app today.