The police didn’t mince words describing the alleged dastardly deeds of the men suspected of chasing the dragon, saying that the pair are a “couple of knuckleheads,” reports the Los Angeles Times.
According to officials, another patron called to report that there might be two guys in the bathroom doing drugs. When officers arrived on the scene, they say the men were inside a stall smoking horse. Again, heroin. Which is very bad.
For some reason, the twosome had allegedly decided to meet with their dealer at the Chuck E. Cheese, and apparently couldn’t wait to leave before smoking it, a police sergeant explained.
One man was arrested on charges of suspicion of felony possession of a narcotic, two misdemeanors of drug paraphernalia, and being under the influence of a controlled substance. The other was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance. Both are unofficially charged with doing something really awful where kids go to have fun and eat pizza with animatronic mice.
Two men accused of smoking heroin in Chuck E. Cheese restroom [Los Angeles Times]
According to the Wall Street Journal, a computer at Amazon has sent the FAA a formal request for permission to start testing the drones that the company’s Chief Executive Cyborg Jeff Bezos showed off to Charlie Rose back in December.
The company tells the FAA that it is already on the ninth generation of prototypes for the drones, which are intended to carry lightweight (5 lbs. and under) packages short distances from Amazon distribution centers.
Amazon says the current-gen drones travel at speeds in excess of 50 mph.
The company isn’t looking for an exemption to launch the Prime Air service in earnest; just to test it near the company’s Seattle HQ.
The current FAA rules have limited Amazon’s drone testing to indoor spaces and countries that aren’t as worried about the possibility of a sky full of autonomous helicopters carrying parcels that could be dropped like cardboard bombs on unsuspecting humans.
“Amazon would prefer to keep the focus, jobs, and investment of this important research and development initiative in the United States,” says a lifelike executive at the company.
The FAA has begun accepting exemptions for non-hobby use of drones, but the head of the agency’s unmanned-aircraft office has previously stated that these exemptions would be for drones involved in filmmaking, agriculture and inspections of infrastructure and energy plants.
Perhaps Bezos will start renting out Prime Air drones to shoot aerial B-roll footage while they deliver Kindles to customers?
We learned earlier this week that famed cupcakery chain Crumbs would shutting down, an indication that the cupcake bubble that began in the middle of last decade has finally burst. What other dessert food trends are ready to melt or crumble right before our eyes? Maybe it’s frozen yogurt places.
The proliferation of modern froyo shops is tragicomic in some cities: there’s even a Tumblr that chronicles the varied, not-dessert-related businesses in New York City that have now become chain or independent froyo places. (The site’s URL and name contain a curse word and are not safe for work or for sensitive eyes.)
Maybe the prominent froyo chains won’t collapse like Crumbs did, though: while it’s easy to bake your own cupcakes at home, few people are equipped to make their own soft-serve with a huge array of both healthy and unhealthy toppings.
The CEO of ice cream company Carvel notes that they are not about to start making Fudgie the Fro-Yo Whale anytime soon. He told the Wall Street Journal that eventually this proliferation of froyo places will have to stop. “I absolutely believe we’ll see a frozen yogurt bubble, and only the strongest brands will survive long term,” he told the Journal. Then maybe the independent restaurants and other businesses replaced by frozen yogurt shops will come back. Or they’ll just be replaced with the next dessert trend.
With Cupcakes in Decline, is Frozen Yogurt Next to Fall? [Wall Street Journal]
Earlier this week, we told you that our colleagues at Consumer Reports were going to feature General Motors CEO Mary Barra in the magazine’s first Ask the CEO column. They are still accepting questions for Ms. Barra through today at email@example.com, so get yours in ASAP before this opportunity shuts off like the ignition on a 2003 Chevy Cobalt.
According to a motion [PDF] filed with a federal court in Illinois, the Federal Trade Commission has accused defendants Sean C. Mulrooney and Odafe Stephen Ogaga and the five companies they controlled of using websites under the names of “Vantage Funding,” “Ideal Advance,” “Loan Assistance Company,” “Palm Loan Advances,” “Loan Tree Advances,” “Pacific Advances,” and “Your Loan Funding” to collect consumers’ names, Social Security numbers, bank routing numbers, and bank account numbers under the guise of helping these people obtain payday loans.
But rather than using their supposed connections to a network of lenders to get loans for applicants, these companies allegedly used the info to chisel away at consumers’ bank accounts, debiting around $30 at a time.
Additionally, the FTC claims that the defendants paid third parties for information about other consumers and used the purchased information to debit these folks’ accounts.
The defendants were able to siphon off more than $5 million in total.
Those consumers who complained about the vanishing funds were promised refunds and $100 gas vouchers, but the defendants’ companies never delivered on these deals.
Adding insult to injury, by taking money from consumers who were already in need of cash, the defendants’ actions resulted in people who were unable to pay bills or other debts.
Meanwhile, the defendants were living like kings, or at least kingpins. One defendant owns a 2012 Maserati GranTurismo, while the other defendant is the proud owner of a 2011 Rolls Royce Ghost and a 2006 Ferrari 430.
Though it looks like those rides, along with the defendants’ other assets will be turned over the FTC as part of a settlement deal.
“Repeatedly, we’ve seen situations where consumers provide sensitive financial information when inquiring about a payday loan online, and that information falls into the wrong hands,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Chia seeds are a hot food item now, but Joseph Enterprises was ahead of its time. They put chia seeds in millions of American homes starting three decades ago. Of course, there’s one key difference: we were all smearing those seeds on the exterior of a terra cotta animal, not sprinkling them on top of our breakfast granola. Until now.
Joseph Enterprises has finally caught up with the rest of the chia industry, and is selling jars of the same seeds that they’ve sold all these years to cover those famous pets.
We learned about this from a passing reference in Wall Street Journal story about growing the South American plant here in the United States. Cheese, and the people behind a company that tried to throw the plant in Kentucky had trouble with their first crop. Because this is Consumerist, we were more interested in the cheesy ’80s product aspect of the story.
The seeds’ actual brand name? “Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia,” of course. What else would it be?
The seeds are available at Walmart, Target, drugstores, and anywhere else that you would expect to find both as-seen-on-TV products and dietary supplements.
Me, I can’t wait till this comes full circle and consumers are able to buy a Chia Pet brand chia garden and harvest their own chia seeds at home.
Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia® Chia Seeds [Joseph Enterprises]
Beyond the Pets: Growing Chia Seeds in Bluegrass Country [Wall Street Journal]
In a notice posted on the Service’s page, the agency says it’s sorry for a June 30, 2014 mailing that reminded the men that they needed to register for the draft.
But those men were born between 1893-1897 — and not 1993-1997, silly Y2Kesque computer system! — so they’re pretty dead by now.
“Unfortunately, these letters were sent before a computer error was discovered,” the notice reads. “The mailing included erroneous names of men born during 1893-1897 from a routine automated data transfer between the State of Pennsylvania and Selective Service. Selective Service regrets any inconvenience caused the families of these men and assures them that the error has been corrected and no action is required on their part.”
Engadget reports that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s cataloging software uses a two-digit birth-year field, which is apparently behind the snafu.
The error was only uncovered once confused people started calling to ask why the military would possibly be interested in signing up their long-dead predecessors for service. As everyone knows, Great Grandpa Theo
Seven hours from now, people in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens were supposed to be able to dial up a vehicle from ride-sharing service Lyft and coast through traffic in a cloud of peer-to-peer vehicular bliss. “Not so fast!” the New York state government said to the service, its drivers, and their pink-mustachioed cars.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the AG filed for a court order to stop today’s launch, claiming that California-based Lyft is launching despite not conforming to New York’s laws that govern taxis and car services. While the company calls itself a ride-sharing service, the state counters that it’s really a livery service masquerading as something else, and by shuttling around paying passengers, the service would be operating in “open defiance of state and local licensing and insurance laws designed to protect the lives and well-being of New Yorkers.” Ride-sharing services are such a new concept that governments simply don’t know how to regulate them yet.
The court order would also shut down Lyft operations in existing markets in New York: earlier this year, Lyft had already launched in Buffalo and Rochester, two smaller cities on the other end of the state with large college-student populations.
New York Attorney General Seeks Restraining Order Against Lyft [Wall Street Journal]
The restaurant’s mascot was stolen about nine months ago, reports FOX 11, and everyone had pretty much given up waiting for it to be returned.
“Weren’t sure we were going to get him back, but we’re happy to see him. We’re excited to get him back,” said the owner of the McDonald’s.
He got a call this week that their Ronald might’ve been found, but he had to be sure it was the right guy.
“We came down and identified him. Did a positive identification. I could tell right away that it was our Ronald, because he had shown some weathering effects on his shoes. I knew right away it was our statue,” he said.
Ronald showed up at a campground, where officials surmise strangers were “having fun with it. Probably in celebration of the 4th of July,” a chief deputy in the sheriff’s office said. Other campers called the cops out of concern for Ronald.
“When the deputy staff arrived, they encountered an individual who had custody of the statue. He was cooperative. Stated that the statue had been found in a field some time ago. He was cooperative, and then just turned it over,” said the chief deputy.
He won’t be able to settle back into his old home at the restaurant however, as the owner is worried he’ll be stolen again. He’ll be refurbished and trotted out for special occasions.
It’s still unclear who took the statue, considering he probably didn’t actually walk off on his own. OR DID HE?!?
“I think if Ronald could talk, he would probably have quite a story to tell. So I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I guess we can speculate a lot, and make up our own story as time goes on,” the owner said.
It’s been five months since Comcast and Time Warner Cable first announced their intention to merge, but the regulatory gauntlet they need to get through first is just now ramping up. Earlier this week, the FCC announced the team doing the review, and now they’ve announced their timeline for taking comments on the matter.
The FCC’s whole announcement is a 30-page PDF, but the most important part is the three key dates listed right up front. Those dates define the process for hearing the whole back-and-forth from the public, including individuals, businesses, and advocacy groups who support or oppose the merger. Those dates are:
- August 25: The first round of comments are due
- September 23: Replies/oppositions to comments due
- October 8: Replies to oppositions due
This means that the public now has six weeks left officially to register its opinion on the Comcast and TWC merger with the FCC. Since over half the country is opposed to the merger, there’s potential for a whole lot of opinion to be registered.
So far about 18,000 people and organizations have commented on the merger. If you’re interested in adding to that total, it’s pretty straightforward to do.
We wrote a how-to guide for leaving comments with the FCC on its proposed net neutrality rule, and the process for commenting on the Comcast merger is the same. The short version is:
- Go to the Electronic Comment Filing System and look for docket 14-57 (or click here).
- Fill out the form with the required information and your comment.
Just remember: your comment should address two key questions. One: Why is this issue important to you — in what specific way would a certain outcome help or hurt? And two: What would you like the agency you’re contacting to do about it?
And of course, also remember that public means public. Anyone can browse the comments that are submitted to the docket.
The FCC’s published timeline also gives us a sense of how long we can expect the review process to be. The final deadline in the comment and response period is October 8, a Wednesday. The commission will have to take a few weeks after that deadline in order to review everything that came in, meaning that there’s basically no way the FCC would be ready to approve or deny the merger before November 1.
But as we’ve seen in the past five months, the wheels of government do not turn quickly and there are other things going on in Washington and the FCC at the same time. Not only are they busy with the net neutrality process, but also there’s a national midterm election on November 4, which tends to make the political world hold its metaphorical breath for a time. That makes it seem more likely that an official decision will come later in November or December, if we get it in 2014 at all.
You probably can’t visit your local Starbucks and convince them to create a record-breaking $54 beverage in a giant flower vase, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask the people there to blend up a menu-bending creation for you. You’ll have to pay for the privilege of enjoying a Neapolitan Frap or a breakfast shake with an entire blueberry muffin blended into it.
Maybe that blueberry muffin thing sounds revolting, but it looks delicious. It’s a soy vanilla bean Frappuccino, with the muffin and some fresh blueberries blended in. Officially, baristas aren’t allowed to blend muffins into drinks for customers, so you’ll have to live without attaining this dream. Maybe you can console yourself with something delicious and ice creamy.
All Foodbeast did to get these wacky beverages was ask the baristas to use their imaginations…well, that, and they were willing to pay for whatever beverage resulted, since the custom blends cost up to $6.75.
That means a liquor store in Weymouth, Mass. is out $3,000, after a deer wandered in and smashed up the place, as reported by the Boston Globe.
The deer ran into the store and started wreaking havoc, the cashier says — destroying a $205 limited release bottle of Sam Adams Utopia, among other things.
“It was running at full speed,” she said, while the mail carrier who came to help added that it “looked like Bambi.” Because it’s a deer.
The deer managed to bust itself up a bit too, with cuts on its neck and side from cocktail glasses and bottles.
It did manage to careen down an aisle of expensive wines without doing much damage, the owner said, and eventually sprinted out the front door.
As for why it ran in there in the first place — it probably wasn’t out of a thirst for some booze, says the deer and moose project leader at the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
“It might have seen a reflection of trees in the window,” he explained. “I think that deer was at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
The mail carrier thinks Bambi’s gonna be just fine, despite its injuries.
“[It’s] young and strong, and, with the speed that it ran up that street, I believe it’s OK,” he said of the deer’s rapid exit.
Stay off the hard stuff, Mr. Deer. The mess isn’t worth it.
Deer in Weymouth liquor store causes $3,000 in damage [Boston Globe]
About two hours into the planned 3.5-hour trip, American flight 1691 landed at Lambert-St. Louis International because, according to the AP, a passenger had complained to cabin crew about a man using some sort of device in a way that was apparently suspect, though AA isn’t providing details on either the device or what about its use warranted the landing in St. Louis.
And as you’ve probably guessed, after removing the passenger and questioning him, officials determined he and his vague device that uses electronics in some way posed no threat.
Meanwhile, flight 1691 was continuing on its way to Dallas, with the diversion only eating up about 90 minutes of travel time.
The removed passenger made his way to Dallas on another flight.
WKMG-TV in Orlando reports that the incident occurred early Thursday morning. The ride was shut down for inspection after an adult male was injured.
A friend of the man confirmed to WKMG that the man lost the tips of his right pinky and ring fingers, though it’s unclear exactly how.
Disney officials reopened the pirate-themed boat ride after determining that it was safe for park visitors.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you what you can and can’t be, friends. The world is your oyster, the sky is the limit, the cliche is yours to abuse and the rules are made to be broken. So when you’re a retailer, don’t think the only store that can have Target math.
Walmart and Home Depot aren’t holding back, adding to their own repertoires of weird pricing that makes you scratch your head and just go, “What the heck? I’d rather keep as much money in my wallet as possible, thanks.”
Consumerist reader Adam, who sounds like a delightful person and we’re so glad he wrote to us, snapped a few pics while shopping that show exactly why it’s good to read closely and do quick math in your head.
First, you can get 64 ounces of weed killer for $45.98 in one jug, or save yourself some moolah and grab two 32 ounce bottles of the stuff for $18.88 each. That’s $37.76, which means there must be $8.22 worth of magic in that 64-ounce bottle. Because otherwise why would you pay so much more? Because Target math. At Home Depot.
Moving on down the road to Walmart, we find the mysterious case of the more expensive two-pack, an occurrence which is all too common, in Consumerist experience.
Want two sticks of Right Guard? You can buy them in a twin pack for $5.97, which isn’t bad, or grab two single sticks of the same stuff for $2.97 each and spend only $5.94.
Maybe it’s only a few cents, but as wise men say, only fools fall in love and a penny saved is a penny earned. And a stitch in time saves nine, but that’s just more math and is unrelated.
Did you visit one of the M&M’s World retail stores in NYC, Las Vegas, Orlando, or London earlier this year? Did you see some adorable pint and shot glasses featuring the anthropomorphic treats? Well, you might want to stop using them, as those cute candy illustrations may contain high levels of lead and cadmium.
The FDA has announced a recall of six different glasses — three pints and three shot glasses — featuring three different designs that were exclusively sold at the M&M’s World stores previously mentioned.
As you can see from the above photo, the three designs are:
*The Red M&M’S character with the words “Hard on the outside, soft on the inside;”
*The Blue M&M’S character and the words “Who’s your candy?;”
*The Green M&M’S character and the words “Eye candy.”
The recall only affects the 1,202 pint glasses and 6,335 shot glasses sold between the dates of January 8, 2014 and April 16, 2014.
The affected glasses can be identified by the SKU# printed on the sticker affixed to the bottom of each glass.
SHOT GLASS RED: SKU# 835986
SHOT GLASS BLUE: SKU# 835989
SHOT GLASS GREEN: SKU# 835990
PINT GLASS GREEN: SKU# 835993
PINT GLASS RED: SKU# 835991
PINT GLASS BLUE: SKU# 835992
Consumers who purchased the recalled shot and pint glasses can return them for a full refund to any of the four M&M’s World stores or contact the company at 1-800-848-3606
Glass-owners in the UK can e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and those in countries other than the U.S. or UK can write to: email@example.com
Here are eight of the best photos that readers added to the Consumerist Flickr Pool in the last week, picked for usability in a Consumerist post or for just plain neatness.
Our Flickr Pool is the place where Consumerist readers upload photos for possible use in future Consumerist posts. Want to see your pictures on our site? Just be a registered Flickr user, go here, and click “Join Group?” up on the top right. Choose your best photos, then click “send to group” on the individual images you want to add to the pool.
Because the many now see free shipping as our right as humans, the one-cent fee is just a token gesture, notes the Wall Street Journal.
The new French law went into effect yesterday morning, and is designed to keep local bookstores from going under as they face what French lawmakers call “unfair competition” from Amazon. It prohibits any online booksellers from adding discounts to the cover prices of books, and can mark down shipping sharply, but offering it for free isn’t allowed.
Amazon sounds bummed about this whole thing.
“We’re sadly no longer authorized to offer you a 5% discount on books,” Amazon said in a note on its French website, according to the WSJ.
And then there are those local bookstores, which are pretty much pleased as punch at this turn of events.
“Publishers and bookstores are organizing against the unacceptable commercial pressure exercised by Amazon,” France’s main bookstore association said in a statement. “We have repeatedly denounced the ‘dumping’ and unfair competition by online retailers, particularly Amazon.”
Amazon Shelves French Book Discounts [Wall Street Journal]
“Is that $120 in formula tossed in willy-billy with a bag of dog food?,” writes reader Cheryl. “Yes, yes it is.” Of course it is. We get that Amazon has a lot of boxes to ship on a daily basis, but she did sort of expect her giant order of household staples like kibble and granola bars to arrive not arrive loose in a large box, crushing some items.
If Amazon wants us to go along with this whole Prime Pantry thing, they need to sent out fewer boxes like these.
“Amazon shipping has, to quote my husband, ‘lost their shit’,” Cheryl wrote to us. Her shipment contained 18 rolls of paper towels, four cans of baby formula, a 14-pound bag of dog food, and a box of granola bars.
The good news is that the granola bar box was mangled, but the other items were fine, including those cans of formula. Surely Amazon would have replaced those cans if they were damaged in any way, but maybe–just maybe–they should be shipping the items so that they arrive safely in the first place.
We adults enjoy quantifying our every move with wearable technology like pedometer wristbands and other fitness-tracking gadgets, so why leave our kids out of the fun? Yesterday, LG announced that they’re introducing a wristband for kids that’s a hybrid of a tracking anklet used by the criminal justice system and your child’s first cell phone.
It’s not a bad idea, exactly: there are just two problems with the device. It’s bulky and just a little creepy. The GPS-tracking aspect isn’t the creepy part. A tracking device on your child can mean giving them a little more freedom, knowing that they can be easily found within the device’s Android app.
No, the creepy aspect is in the device’s phone functions. You can call up your kid and talk through the device, which is great. The device’s button can also call one pre-programmed number, which is also very useful. The part that isn’t so great is that if your kid doesn’t pick up a call within ten seconds, the device will simply connect the call and allow you to hear whatever your child is doing or saying at the time.
The Kizon hits the market today in South Korea, and will be available in North America and Europe sometime this fall.
LG wants to put a tracking device on your child [Washington Post]