website utilities

People before Profit

Follow on:

The Consumerist

Want L.L. Bean Duck Boots Right Now? Head To eBay, Pay Double

Wed, 2014-12-10 19:32

ebaybootsWhen there’s a shortage of something that people want to buy, capitalism fills in the gaps and unites buyers, sellers, and large amounts of cash. That’s the case with L.L. Bean duck boots, Which are in short supply right now and backordered until almost spring time. For people who want their feet warm and dry right now, there are eBay auctions where they can buy the boots at a premium.

While writing this post, I watched one auction end at $260 with $10 shipping, which is $10 less than double the list price. If learning that the boots are in short supply has created such a strong desire for waterproof footwear in you that you don’t even want to wait around for a couple of days for an auction to end, “Buy it Now” options abound for $300 or more.

You can also buy “vintage” or “Like New” pairs of boots, since premium prices bring boots that aren’t being worn out of closets.

Buying them directly from L.L. Bean means paying $140 but waiting around until as late as March, depending on which style and size you want.

Why Are 100,000 People On A Waiting List To Buy Duck Boots From L.L. Bean?

Convicted Pirate Bay Co-Founder Says Site Should Stay Shuttered

Wed, 2014-12-10 19:21

The_Pirate_Bay_logo.svgYesterday, police in Sweden raided file-sharing mega-site The Pirate Bay and confiscated its servers and computers, taking it offline and leaving lots of people with partially downloaded files. While it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the Bay could be rebuilt and brought back to life, one of the people who spent time in jail for his involvement with the site says it’s time to say farewell.

Peter Sunde was one of the co-founders of The Pirate Bay and for years was the public face of the site as it fought fought and appealed charges of promoting copyright infringement. In 2009, he and three others at the site were convicted.

After unsuccessfully attempting to appeal his case, Sunde managed to avoid serving his sentence for two years before finally being put behind bars in May 2014. He was released just last month, and rather than call for TPB to rise again, he’s admitting that maybe it’s outlived its original purpose.

In response to yesterday’s news, Sunde wrote on his blog that this raid is very different from the first time that authorities clamped down on the Bay in 2006.

“That time, a lot of people went out to protest and rally in the streets,” writes Sunde. “Today few seem to care. And I’m one of them.”

The site turned 10 years old in 2013, and Sunde said the original idea had been to shut it down when it reached that point.

“Instead… there was a party in [its] ‘honour’ in Stockholm,” he writes. “It was sponsored by some sexist company that sent young girls, dressed in almost no clothes, to hand out freebies to potential customers. There was a ticket price to get in, automatically excluding people with no money. The party had a set line-up with artists, scenes and so on, instead of just asking the people coming to bring the content. Everything went against the ideals that I worked for during my time as part of TPB.”

Additionally, Sunde says the site had failed to keep up with the times, with the operators who controlled TPB refusing to update.

“The site was ugly, full of bugs, old code and old design,” he gripes. “It never changed except for one thing – the ads. More and more ads was filling the site, and somehow when it felt unimaginable to make these ads more distasteful they somehow ended up even worse.”

And while the Bay is gone, Sunde acknowledges there are still plenty of other ways for people to share files over the Internet.

“But from the immense void that will now fill up the fiber cables all over the world, I’m pretty sure the next thing will pan out,” he concludes. “And hopefully it has no ads for porn or viagra. There’s already other services for that.”

[via TorrentFreak]

Michigan Cops Playing Sneaky Santa Pull Over People To Give Them Gifts Instead Of Tickets

Wed, 2014-12-10 18:40

(City of Lowell)

(City of Lowell)

What’s the worst thing you can see in the rearview mirror? Police lights flashing as a cop tells you to pull over (that or an avalanche/tornado/mob of goblins chasing you). So for Massachusetts drivers who stopped for the long arm of the law realized they were getting a treat instead of a ticket from sneaky Santa police, Christmas came extra early.

As part of an effort called the Uplift Someone Christmas Initiative by a Christian-based television network called UPtv, police officers in Lowell, MI have been pulling drivers over for routine things, minor traffic violations that officers usually don’t bother to stop people for, reports WZZM.

Here’s how it works: While the cops are talking to drivers about whatever excuse they give for puulling them over, they chat’em up and ask what they want for Christmas. A UPtv team waits at a nearby Meijer with a radio and then runs to buy and wrap the right gift within 10 to 15 minutes.

Then the officer hands over a wrapped gift instead of a ticket, and we all get to see the reactions in the campaign’s video — delight, relief and yes, some people cried.

“Most of the contact the police officers have with the general public is on a traffic stop and you can find a lot out about that person in that 10 to 15 minute window, whether they’re having a good day, a bad day, or a horrible day,” Lowell’s police chief explains in the video. “And then we got this idea: what if we could change that person’s day in real time? What if we could change that person’s day right now?”

All in all, officers pulled the Secret Santa prank on about 50 drivers for the video, resulting in 30 presents getting handed out. The most expensive? A laptop and Xbox console.

And no one got a ticket, to boot.

VIDEO: Lowell police surprise drivers with Christmas presents [WZZM]

HSBC To Customers: Merry Christmas, Pay Your Mortgage Or We’ll Take Your House

Wed, 2014-12-10 18:35
Happy Holidays from HSBC?

Happy Holidays from HSBC? (James Ball)

Holiday greetings generally contain salutations of thanks and wishes for a happy season. A note from HSBC hits all of those points, but then tacks on a quick threat you’d expect from Scrooge: pay us, or we’ll take your home.

A photo of HSBC’s holiday note was first tweeted by James Ball an editor at The Guardian on Wednesday morning. Ball tells The Huffington Post that he saw the sign posted at one of the bank’s branches in central London.

Merry Christmas! Pay us or we'll take your home!

— James Ball (@jamesrbuk) December 10, 2014

The note reads: “Christmas. Home made. Thanks to over 100,000 of you who trusted us with your mortgages this year.”

That seems like pretty standard holiday greeting fare. But what comes next is less holly jolly and more bah-humbug.

“Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.”

So basically HSBC wants to remind consumers that the holidays are time to be thankful, because, hey, if you don’t pay the bank, it has no problem taking away your home.

T-Mobile Introduces Unlimited Family Plans, But You May Be Better Off With Resurrected 4-For-$100 Plan

Wed, 2014-12-10 18:21

While T-Mobile's unlimited family plan might save you compared to competitors' similar plans with large amounts of data, many families would probably save more on  a limited data plan (like T-Mo's resurrected 4-for-$100 offer) that costs less per month.

While T-Mobile’s unlimited family plan might save you compared to competitors’ similar plans with large amounts of data, many families would probably save more on a limited data plan (like T-Mo’s resurrected 4-for-$100 offer) that costs less per month.

We are all officially overpaying for data. Sprint and AT&T have already demonstrated they are willing to dangle huge amounts of wireless data (that will likely never be used) in front of potential customers, and now T-Mobile is hoping that the lure of vast amounts of data (which, again, will probably go unused) is enough to bring in new family plan customers. At the same time, the company has brought back its previously popular 4-for-$100 plan that may be the better deal for most people.

This morning, the little magenta wireless provider began touting a limited time offer of family share plans (at least two lines) with unlimited data for $100/month (plus all the phone charges, taxes, fees, and other nonsense).

After two lines, each additional line (up to 10 total) is $40 more. So a 4-line unlimited plan will cost you $180/month.

One nice thing about this offer — unlike the Sprint “cut your bills in half” promo — is that T-Mobile doesn’t require you to buy a new phone from them. So if you have a decent device that is compatible with the TMO network, you won’t have to splash out for a new one.

By that same token, if you’re looking for a new plan and want a new phone, you’ll have to pay full price through T-Mobile. Sure, it’s in monthly installments but it’s still hundreds of dollars more than you’d pay for the same device with a new contract through AT&T or Verizon.

Then there is also the question of whether or not you actually need an unlimited data plan. Most people only use around 2GB/month. This will likely increase as more people use their phones to stream bandwidth-heavy video, but many people also stream such content over WiFi networks that don’t impact their monthly data allotments.

So it’s in your best interest to do your due diligence and compare offers from other providers, as you might save money by choosing a family plan with a reasonable amount of data that you’ll actually use. Just make sure your family members don’t go over that limit because it could get ugly.

In fact, T-Mobile has resurrected its former 4-for-$100 offer, which gives users 10GB of 4G LTE data on four lines for $100/month. At 2.5 GB/month, most consumers’ data needs would be covered, and at $80/month less than the cost of the unlimited plan.

While we’re on the topic of T-Mobile, we’ve heard complaints this morning from people saying the T-Mobile site is acting up and emptying their shopping carts before they could finalize their order. Additionally, a number of people aren’t happy that the promotional pricing for either the unlimited data deal or the 4-for-$100 offer isn’t reflected at checkout. Instead, T-Mobile promises it will be “reflected on your bill.”

Given that T-Mobile is currently being sued by the Federal Trade Commission over alleged bad billing practices, you can understand why people are skeptical that they won’t be overcharged when their bill shows up — or that their rate will suddenly increase at some random point in the future.

Del Monte Recalls Fruit Snack Packs Potentially Contaminated With Listeria

Wed, 2014-12-10 18:01

eagleSure, we feel like we’re doing something righteous and healthy when we buy a package of cut fresh fruit for a snack instead of cookies or a candy bar, but there are times when choosing fresh fruit can come back to bite you. That’s the case for some Del Monte fruit snacks sold in grocery and convenience stores.

Affected fruit was known to be distributed to Giant Eagle, Sunoco, Peter’s Fruit, Wegmans, Sheetz and 7-Eleven stores, and delivered by Amazon Fresh. Of course, the bad news is that most of these snacks have already been eaten, since the latest “enjoy by” date on affected packages is was Monday.

With that in mind, let’s review the symptoms of Listeriosis, so that you know when to seek medical attention, especially if a vulnerable person has eaten the affected apples. Infection is potentially fatal in very young people, very old people, and the immunosuppressed, and can cause miscarriages or stillbirth in pregnant women.

Many people who have consumed Listeria-contaminated food show no symptoms at all, or have mild gastrointestinal distress. Symptoms of a severe case of Listeriosis can include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions. Symptoms in pregnant women can include, fever, fatigue, and muscle aches.

The apples in these packages were grown in Pennsylvania, and a random test by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Affected fruit packs include assortments with carrots, cheese, mixed fruit, and a “pineapple medley.” You can find a full list of affected products on Del Monte’s press release.

Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc. Voluntarily Recalls Fresh Cut Fruit Containing Gala Red Apple in a Few States in North East US Because of Possible Health Risk [Press Release]

How Do You Eat A Live Octopus?

Wed, 2014-12-10 17:48

(Munchies YouTube)

(Munchies YouTube)

Let’s be clear: There are many things in life I would be willing to try, that at first sound horrifying. Like talking to strangers on the subway before I’ve had any coffee and after I’ve had no sleep, maybe I could manage that someday. But eating a still squirming octopus? That is not on the list. Luckily for those of you who would like to try something that I imagine feels like internal strangulation, someone else is on the job already to show you how.

Vice’s Munchies has a video showing how it’s done in South Korea, where the practice of consuming a live cephalopod piece by piece as it’s wriggles is not such a crazy idea for most folks.

If you’re worried about what the octopus feels during this whole thing, it’s probably best not to watch (or to read Munchies’ interview with a cephalopod expert about the practice, shudder/no thanks).

And it goes without saying, if you’re squeamish at the sight of moving food, probably don’t watch either.

Are you ready? Take a deep breath BECAUSE IT MIGHT BE YOUR LAST IF YOU DO THIS WRONG (kidding, mostly!);

General Mills Coming Out With “Ancient Grains” Cheerios Featuring Stuff Like Quinoa

Wed, 2014-12-10 17:29

cheerios-ancient-grainsIt’s not just for health nuts anymore — grains like quinoa and spelt are now the norm, and General Mills wants to take advantage of that shift in consumers’ tastes with a new “Ancient Grains” Cheerios cereal that includes those ingredients, as well as other ingredients with funny names you used to never know.

Everything is different now that we want healthy stuff to eat, thus, General Mills’ hopes that the new version of Cheerios — with quinoa, Kamut wheat and spelt, along with oats, of course — will be right up shoppers’ aisles. Just click those links if you still don’t know what the cool grains are these days.

“They’re keeping their ears attuned to what’s hot and trendy,” author Topher Ellis, who co-wrote The Great American Cereal Book: How Breakfast Got Its Crunch told NPR’s The Salt. And what’s hotter and trendier these days than spelt?

Adding the word “ancient” into the mix conjures up all sorts of mystery around these grains, a cachet that could help Cheerios get a new groove in today’s health-conscious culture.

Start keeping your eyes peeled for Ancient Grains to hit shelves in January.

Fringe No More: ‘Ancient Grains’ Will Soon Be A Cheerios Variety [The Salt]

San Francisco, L.A. Sue Uber For Allegedly Misleading Consumers On Drivers’ Safety, Other Issues

Wed, 2014-12-10 17:21


After hearing several tales of consumers being mistreated or accosted by Uber drivers, one might begin to question the company’s “industry-leading” practices when it comes to screening drivers. It appears two California district attorneys are doing just that by filing a civil suit against the company for a number of issues including allegedly misleading consumers on its background checks for drivers.

The Associated Press reports that the district attorneys of San Francisco and Los Angeles counties filed the suit in San Francisco Superior Court on Tuesday contending that the ridesharing company is in violation of California law for its alleged mischaracterization of the extent to which it vets its drivers.

While Uber, which uses an outside private firm to screen prospective nonprofessional drivers, characterizes its practices as “industry-leading” on its website, the suit claims that simply isn’t the case.

“Uber continues to misrepresent and exaggerate background checks on drivers,” Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey says. “It’s not our goal to shut them down. What we’re saying is their advertising is false.”

The district attorneys argue that Uber’s background checking practices, which rely heavily on the use of information supplied electronically by prospective drivers, can easily be compromised if applicants use stolen or false identifications.

One way to combat any falsified information would be the use of fingerprinting, a background checking method that Uber does not employ.

“You are not using an industry-leading background process if you are not fingerprinting your drivers,” George Gascón, the district attorney of San Francisco, tells the New York Times Bits Blog.

A spokeswoman for Uber defended the company but did not address specific allegations in the California lawsuit, the AP reports.

“Uber is an integral, safe and established part of the transportation ecosystem in the Golden State,” the spokeswoman said in a statement. “We will continue to engage in discussions with the district attorneys.”

In addition to accusations about mischaracterized background checks, the lawsuit claims that Uber charged passengers an additional $4 for trips to and from San Francisco International Airport even though the company lacks a permit to do business at the airport and the company doesn’t pay the airport fee.

Additionally, the suit accuses the company of failing to obtain approval from state regulators on how drivers calculate fares.

The California lawsuit comes a day after the city of Portland, OR, sued to prevent the ridesharing company from operating in the city, just three days after Uber opened for business in the area.

California prosecutors sue Uber; Lyft settles [The Associated Press]

Uber Is Sued by 2 California Counties, Citing Misleading Safety Practices [New York Times Bits Blog]

Sears Distribution Center In Mississippi Available For Lease, No One Will Say Why

Wed, 2014-12-10 16:54

(Scott Miller)

(Scott Miller)

Great news if you’re in the market for 800,000 square feet of warehouse space: the owner of the building in Mississippi where Sears houses is distribution center is reportedly quietly marketing the facility. Why? Where is Sears going? The company that owns the building won’t say, and of course neither will Sears.

We know from local reports that a distribution center in Columbus, Ohio will close by the end of 2014, and so will some repair facilities. However, no one is saying that the Sears distribution center, which is located near Memphis in Olive Branch, Mississippi, is going to close. A representative of the owner is even careful to say that the rather troubled Sears isn’t even necessarily leaving––they’re still discussing a new lease with the company. A Sears spokesperson was careful to say that the company does not “comment on rumors or speculations,” and that the company “remains committed to the greater Memphis community.”

However, with a projected 235 Sears Holdings store closing in the coming months, it would make sense for the company to either close the facility entirely, or to move operations to a smaller warehouse. Maybe just part of the current facility will be rented, just like how the company is taking on retail roommates in many of its stores.

DeSoto Sears Distribution Center Up For Lease [Memphis Daily News]

When You Overcharge A Harvard Business Professor $4, Don’t Blow Him Off

Wed, 2014-12-10 16:52

From the lengthy e-mail exchange between the professor and the restaurateur. (via

From the lengthy e-mail exchange between the professor and the restaurateur. (via

One of the worst things a restaurant can do when it learns it’s overcharged a customer is to shrug it off and say “Oh, we’ll get around to fixing that.” This is especially true when that customer is a Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard. has the very detailed story of how a simple case of being overcharged $4 by a Boston-area Chinese eatery resulted in a string of increasingly tense e-mails involving threats of legal and regulatory action.

It all began when the customer noticed that the prices on his receipt didn’t match the prices listed on the website for the restaurant. Each of the four items he cited was posted at $1 less than what he was charged. So he sent off an e-mail with this information to the restaurant’s owner.

Rather than offer an immediate refund of the $4 — which seems reasonable given that the total bill was well over $40 — the owner’s response was to admit that the prices listed on the website had been “out of date for quite some time.” And instead of that refund, he offered to send the customer an updated menu.

Bad idea.

The Harvard prof. alleged in his reply that the restaurant was in violation of state consumer protection laws that allow for trebled damages; and so he requested that he receive a refund of $12 be issued to his credit card or that a check for that amount be sent to his home.

Things only got worse when the restaurant offered to issue a refund, but only for $3.

“It strikes me that merely providing a refund to a single customer would be an exceptionally light sanction for the violation that has occurred,” writes the professor. “To wit, your restaurant overcharged all customers who viewed the web site and placed a telephone order… You did so knowingly, knowing tha tour web site was out of date and that consumers would see it and rely on it… You don’t seem to recognize that this is a legal matter and calls for a more thoughtful and far-reaching resolution.”

He then claims that he’s referred the situation to the relevant local authorities to “compel your restaurant to identify all consumers affected and to provide refunds to all of them.”

The professor agreed to accept whatever refund was offered, but “without prejudice to my rights as provided by law,” meaning he wasn’t giving up any future legal claim he might have for damages.

In response, the restaurant owner writes that he will indeed refund the $12, but only after he’s been advised that this is the proper thing to do by the authorities. He also promises to have the site’s menu prices fixed.

But then a subsequent e-mail explains that, after getting legal advice from a third party, the restaurant will not be honoring that refund request as “we are covered and protected” by language on the site that says pricing may vary by location.

To which the professor replies that he doesn’t know of any disclaimer that can allow a company to knowingly charge higher-than-published prices for an extended period of time.

There is then some dispute about whether or not there are multiple menus for different locations and which one the professor was using for his pricing comparison.

And then the restaurant owner asked a question he shouldn’t have.

“You seem like a smart man, but is this really worth your time?”

“You’re right that I have better things to do,” responds the professor. “If you had responded appropriately to my initial message — providing the refund I requested with a genuine and forthright apology — that could have been the end of it… Instead, you’re making up excuses such as the remarkable but plainly false suggestion that I was on the wrong web site. The more you try to claim your restaurant was not at fault, the more determined I am to seek a greater sanction against you.”

Systematic overcharging — whether intentional or inadvertent — can be a serious problem for a small business. Here in the Philadelphia area, a South Jersey pizzeria was recently accused of overcharging customers who used prepaid cards on a daily basis for several months.

But first you have to get people to listen to you. The Harvard prof says he’s alerted the local authorities about his dispute with the restaurant but doubts they’ll take action. He could pursue a civil action on behalf of all the restaurant’s customers who ordered based on the prices listed on the website but says he hasn’t decided whether to go that route.

Police Free Man Trapped Inside Mall Wall After He Accidentally Floods Restaurant, Hotel Lobby

Wed, 2014-12-10 16:35

(Alan Rappa)

(Alan Rappa)

An alleged squatter’s paradise inside a Denver mall became a prison Tuesday night, when police say a man hiding in the ceiling fell, tripped a water main that then flooded a restaurant and hotel lobby below, and got stuck inside a wall.

Police showed up around 11 p.m. to reports of a man falling through the ceiling, reports, but alas, the guy was nowhere to be found.

A bit later, cops saw the man walking through scaffolding above a restaurant, at which point he somehow tripped the water main and started a huge flood in the businesses below.

He eluded the police yet again, leading them to hunt around above the restaurant and discover he’d been living above the place for some time. A few hours later, officers heard moaning from the wall near the front of the restaurant, and espied the man’s feet sticking out at the bottom. He’d apparently fallen 20 feet and was stuck.

Firefighters had to cut him out of the wall.

“I have not seen a call like this ever,” a Denver police rep said.

The man is now facing charges for flooding the restaurant.

Man freed after being trapped in Denver restaurant wall []

Baby’s First Plane Ride: Woman Gives Birth On Southwest Flight Shortly After Takeoff

Wed, 2014-12-10 15:47

(David Transier)

(David Transier)

While a majority of us can regale a rather uneventful tale of entering the world at a hospital, there is a select group of people who have crazy, often unbelievable birthing – stories from the parking lots of Walmart to the bathrooms of McDonald’s. That little club grew by one on Monday when a baby was born thousands of feet in the air on a Southwest Airlines flight.

KTLA-TV reports that shortly after a Phoenix-bound flight took off from San Francisco International Airport it was diverted to LAX when a passenger went into labor, delivering the baby mid-air.

A doctor and nurse on the flight assisted the delivery and cared for the woman and baby until the plane landed, a Southwest spokesperson says.

Los Angeles Fire Department officials took over care of the woman and her newborn before allowing other passengers to exit the plane. The woman and baby were transported to a local hospital in good condition, a LAFD spokesperson says.

Fellow passengers tell KTLA there was little commotion on the plane surrounding the birth. One passenger says he heard the baby cry and subsequently learned of the new arrival.

Following the delivery, the pilot announced the birth on the loudspeaker, congratulating the parents.

The flight, which began with 111 passengers, continued on to Phoenix after a two and a half-hour delay.

( function() { var func = function() { var iframe_form = document.getElementById('wpcom-iframe-form-73185630696da193835e0a9d19249d11-54886ad5b1907'); var iframe = document.getElementById('wpcom-iframe-73185630696da193835e0a9d19249d11-54886ad5b1907'); if ( iframe_form && iframe ) { iframe_form.submit(); iframe.onload = function() { iframe.contentWindow.postMessage( { 'msg_type': 'poll_size', 'frame_id': 'wpcom-iframe-73185630696da193835e0a9d19249d11-54886ad5b1907' }, window.location.protocol + '//' ); } } // Autosize iframe var funcSizeResponse = function( e ) { var origin = document.createElement( 'a' ); origin.href = e.origin; // Verify message origin if ( '' !== ) return; // Verify message is in a format we expect if ( 'object' !== typeof || undefined === ) return; switch ( ) { case 'poll_size:response': var iframe = document.getElementById( ); if ( iframe && '' === iframe.width ) iframe.width = '100%'; if ( iframe && '' === iframe.height ) iframe.height = parseInt( ); return; default: return; } } if ( 'function' === typeof window.addEventListener ) { window.addEventListener( 'message', funcSizeResponse, false ); } else if ( 'function' === typeof window.attachEvent ) { window.attachEvent( 'onmessage', funcSizeResponse ); } } if (document.readyState === 'complete') { func.apply(); /* compat for infinite scroll */ } else if ( document.addEventListener ) { document.addEventListener( 'DOMContentLoaded', func, false ); } else if ( document.attachEvent ) { document.attachEvent( 'onreadystatechange', func ); } } )();

Woman Gives Birth in Airplane Shortly After Takeoff; Plane Diverted to LAX [KTLA-TV]

Supreme Court: Amazon Warehouse Workers Shouldn’t Be Paid For Security Screening Time

Wed, 2014-12-10 00:19

These people are standing in line for iPhones, but many are probably paid. (nikony13)

These people are standing in line for iPhones, but many are probably paid. (nikony13)

Two months ago, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Integrity Staffing Solutions c. Busk et al., concerning the question of whether employees at a warehouse–an Amazon distribution center, in this case–should be paid for the time that they spend waiting for security checks when they leave work. The Supremes issued a unanimous decision earlier than expected, and they say that security checks should not be considered part of the job at a distribution center.

The original lawsuit was a class action filed against Integrity Staffing, a company that Amazon contracts to recruit and pay warehouse workers. The two lead plaintiffs, employees of Amazon distribution centers in Nevada, claimed that the process of waiting and submitting to a search for stolen goods took half an hour each day when they left work, and that since this was a mandatory part of their jobs, they should be paid for it.

The Supreme Court reversed a federal appeals court decision declaring that workers should receive overtime pay for security screenings. While employees are searched for the benefit of the company (in this case, Amazon), having their belongings X-Rayed is not part of their job duties. While eliminating the screenings could lead to “shrinkage” problems for Amazon, waiting in security lines is not part of the warehouse workers’ duties.

Opinion analysis: No overtime pay for after-work security check [SCOTUSblog]

Cucumbers Were Probably Culprits In E. Coli Outbreak At Jimmy John’s

Tue, 2014-12-09 23:22

(Adam Fagen)

(Adam Fagen)

Escherichia coli is a bacterium that’s part of the normal intestinal flora of warm-blooded organisms, including humans. It’s pretty harmless most of the time, but when “fecal contamination” between different organisms occurs, it can result in a very serious illness. It took more than a year, but authorities in Colorado have traced a September 2013 E. coli outbreak to one specific food: cucumbers from Jimmy John’s sandwich shops in three towns in Colorado.

Specifically, authorities traced the outbreak to Mexican cucumbers that the chain put on salads. In the past, Jimmy John’s has also had foodborne pathogen problems with sandwich-topping raw vegetables like sprouts and lettuce. Food Safety News points out that the chain has had five different outbreaks related to bean sprouts since 2008, making us return to that whole “maybe don’t eat sprouts” thing.

Back to the cucumbers: the experts traced the cucumbers distributed to the chain and to each of the individual restaurants back to the same batch at the same source. They also confirmed that eight cases were the same strain of E. coli by testing samples of bacteria taken from patients’ stool.

The danger had passed by the time investigators were able to trace the source, but it’s useful to confirm that it was not sprouts making people sick for once, and that cucumber slices on a sandwich can be a vector to deliver E. Coli to potential victims.

Cucumbers Likely Cause of Jimmy John’s E. Coli Outbreak [Food Safety News]

The Pirate Bay Taken Offline, Raided By Police

Tue, 2014-12-09 22:04

notavailableThe Pirate Bay, perhaps the most popular — certainly the best known — destination for anyone looking to score pirated movies, music, books, games, and other digital content, was taken offline earlier today after a raid by police in Stockholm.

TorrentFreak reports that the site, which connects users for peer-to-peer file sharing via BitTorrent, went offline earlier today without notice. Shortly after came news that authorities in the Bay’s home country of Sweden had seized servers and computers from an unspecified location.

“There has been a crackdown on a server room in Greater Stockholm. This is in connection with violations of copyright law,” reads a statement from the police national coordinator for IP enforcement in Sweden.

TorrentFreak also reports that other torrent-tracking sites, including EZTV, Zoink, Torrage, and Istole, were also offline as of this afternoon.

In 2008, operators of TPB were charged in Sweden with promoting copyright infringement. In April 2009, a court found them guilty. The defendants continued to appeal the verdict for several years, but in 2012 Sweden’s highest court opted against hearing an appeal in the case.

Two defendants tried to have their appeal heard by the European Court of Human Rights, but in 2013, the ECHR rejected that application, saying that while the Swedish ruling may have impinged upon their rights to free speech, the site’s operators had not respected copyright holders’ right to protect their works.

Numerous countries, including the UK, have instructed Internet service providers to block access to the site, but it continued to operate.

UPS Workers Credited With Saving Man’s Life In A Church On Their Route

Tue, 2014-12-09 21:52



Sometimes, a delivery person ends up bringing more than just a package or a pizza. And for a man who’d suffered a heart attack in a church, two UPS workers who were on the job happened gave him something much better, when they saved his life during their rounds.

The pair of UPS workers in Virginia Beach, VA (who happen to be married) were working together one day when they came upon an 84-year-old man who’d suffered a heart attack at a church on their route, reports

He wasn’t breathing and had hit his head, his son said. The husband part of the UPS team walked into the church and saw the man on the ground, and went to wave his wife inside. She was the only one nearby who knew CPR.

“He was looking at me,” she said. “His eyes were open and I was just praying to God just let me do this. Let me save this man`s life, let me help him.”

Paremedics said later that what she did may have made all the difference.

“I was proud of her,” her husband said. “It brought tears to my eyes.”

The man is now recovering in the hospital, and his family is grateful for the kindness of strangers.

“Everybody had their hand and God made it happen,” his son said. “That`s how it works.”

( function() { var func = function() { var iframe_form = document.getElementById('wpcom-iframe-form-ed7b836643ce791c7ef187654143f5c2-54876cc2b722c'); var iframe = document.getElementById('wpcom-iframe-ed7b836643ce791c7ef187654143f5c2-54876cc2b722c'); if ( iframe_form && iframe ) { iframe_form.submit(); iframe.onload = function() { iframe.contentWindow.postMessage( { 'msg_type': 'poll_size', 'frame_id': 'wpcom-iframe-ed7b836643ce791c7ef187654143f5c2-54876cc2b722c' }, window.location.protocol + '//' ); } } // Autosize iframe var funcSizeResponse = function( e ) { var origin = document.createElement( 'a' ); origin.href = e.origin; // Verify message origin if ( '' !== ) return; // Verify message is in a format we expect if ( 'object' !== typeof || undefined === ) return; switch ( ) { case 'poll_size:response': var iframe = document.getElementById( ); if ( iframe && '' === iframe.width ) iframe.width = '100%'; if ( iframe && '' === iframe.height ) iframe.height = parseInt( ); return; default: return; } } if ( 'function' === typeof window.addEventListener ) { window.addEventListener( 'message', funcSizeResponse, false ); } else if ( 'function' === typeof window.attachEvent ) { window.attachEvent( 'onmessage', funcSizeResponse ); } } if (document.readyState === 'complete') { func.apply(); /* compat for infinite scroll */ } else if ( document.addEventListener ) { document.addEventListener( 'DOMContentLoaded', func, false ); } else if ( document.attachEvent ) { document.attachEvent( 'onreadystatechange', func ); } } )();

UPS Workers Save Man’s Life In A Church On Their Route []

Kohl’s Stores Will Stay Open For 100 Hours Straight Leading Up To Christmas

Tue, 2014-12-09 20:59



Nothing says Christmas spirit like the constant neon glow of an open department store’s lights: Starting Dec. 19, Kohl’s says most of its stores will remain open for 100 hours straight leading up to Christmas.

If you want to shop until you drop, it’ll be up to you — but Kohl’s says to check to make sure store is sticking to those always-open hours. Some stores will close overnight from midnight to 6 a.m., though most will be open from Dec. 19 through 6 p.m. on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve.

“Customers can rely on us around the clock for their last-minute gift giving solutions, and we are providing 24-hour access to Kohl’s stores right up to Christmas Eve,” said Michelle Gass, Kohl’s chief customer officer in a press release [PDF].

It’s the second year Kohl’s has pulled the all-nighter marathon, in a continued attempt to snag as many shoppers during the lucrative holiday season as it possibly can. Because isn’t that what this season is all about?

HBO Seeks Streaming Video Help From Major League Baseball

Tue, 2014-12-09 20:54

mlbtvHBO has had several years of practice with streaming its HBO Go product, but things are about to get a lot more complicated when it launches its standalone streaming service in 2015. So who does the cable network turn to for help with rolling out this new offering? Major League Baseball, of course.

More specifically, MLB Advanced Media, the behind-the-scenes media operation responsible for and which also has a hand in non-baseball streaming services like WatchESPN and the WWE Network.

The Wall Street Journal reports that HBO chose to outsource a good deal of work to MLBAM rather than hire on hundreds of engineers needed to launch the new product.

While the network isn’t saying exactly what role MLBAM is playing, a rep for HBO tells the Journal that “It’s not uncommon for companies to utilize outsize resources on a project of this scale.”

HBO did much of the development of HBO Go in-house, and while it works just fine for most people most of the time, it still has problems remaining stable during the occasional high-profile premier. That said, users of are well aware of the service’s historically poor performance on opening days.

Additionally, a standalone HBO app that doesn’t necessarily rely on logging in through your pay-TV provider will present its own set of challenges. HBO, currently lax about users who share HBO Go logins with friends and family, will likely have stricter requirements on the number of devices using the service at any time.

Of course, that’s just speculation since HBO has yet to reveal any concrete details on the service.

Walmart Cashier Bails Out Customer Who Can’t Afford Groceries

Tue, 2014-12-09 20:28



We’re going to guess that Walmart cashiers see plenty of customers in the course of a day who can’t afford all of the items that they’ve selected and must put something back. Yet something made a cashier in upstate New York stop and reach into her pocket when an older man at her register couldn’t afford to buy all of his food, contributing forty dollars of her own.

The customer handed over money, but it wasn’t enough to cover everything that he had selected. “Some of it was food, and some of it was for his pet,” the cashier explained to local TV station WTEN. “I felt really bad for him. I didn’t want him to go home and not have something that he really needed to eat.” The next customer in line offered the cashier money to cover the $40 contribution, and she declined, saying that she wasn’t allowed to accept it.

We want to believe that this incident really happened, because it is fantastic, if not necessarily sustainable unless there are a lot of secret millionaires working at Walmart. No one who directly witnessed the incident is quoted in the TV story, including the manager, who simply says that she “heard about” the incident.

Still, we want to believe that there are secret angels everywhere in the world, including behind Walmart cash registers, and this story remains impressive.

Walmart cashier helps customer buy groceries [WTEN]