LBN Examiner 12/05/2021


In Best Buy’s earnings call yesterday, C.E.O. Corie Barry blamed stagnant sales in part on an uptick in theft, pointing to California as a particularly sticky-fingered state. Retailers in California have experienced a string of “smash-and-grabs.” Last month, Walgreens announced plans to shut down five stores in San Francisco, claiming that rates of theft in the city had risen to 5x the national average.

What’s going on? Here are a few theories:

  • Facebook Marketplace and eBay have made it easier to resell stolen goods anonymously.
  • Home Depot connected the dots between the opioid crisis and an increase in thefts at its stores two years ago. Since then, fentanyl, a drug that’s 50x stronger than heroin, has pervaded California.
  • Rates of unemployment and homelessness rose sharply last year, and California is home to the largest population of unsheltered persons.

Some argue that Proposition 47, which raised the felony threshold for stolen goods, has increased rates of theft. Organized crime costs retailers 0.07% of sales, according to the National Retail Federation, but the emotional toll it takes on retail workers who experience thefts is downright “traumatizing,” Best Buy’s C.E.O. said.

Waukesha D.A. Admitted Progressive Reforms Would Mean Someone Would Get Killed: ‘It’s Guaranteed’:

The district attorney facing criticism after the alleged Waukesha Christmas parade crash killer was freed on bond two days before the carnage previously admitted his progressive reforms “guaranteed” killers could be put back on the street. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, who was elected to the position in 2007, has spent his career supporting cash-bail system reform because he argues it criminalizes poverty. In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the year he was elected, Chisholm said: “Is there going to be an individual I divert, or I put into treatment program, who’s going to go out and kill somebody? You bet. Guaranteed. It’s guaranteed to happen.”

Oklahoma Senator Files ‘Kyle’s Law’ to Hold ‘Malicious’ Prosecutors Accountable, Compensate Victims:

A state senator from Oklahoma has filed legislation named after Kyle Rittenhouse that seeks to compensate defendants of “malicious prosecution” if they are charged with murder but later found to be not guilty due to justifiable homicide. Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow), who is running for the U.S. Senate, filed Senate Bill 1120, called Kyle’s Law, on Tuesday. Rittenhouse was found not guilty of murder last week after fatally shooting two men and injuring a third during riots last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin. In a press release, Dahm’s office explained the bill: Under Dahm’s legislation, if a person is charged with murder but is found not guilty due to justifiable homicide, the state would have to reimburse the defendant for all reasonable costs, including loss of wages, legal fees incurred, and other expenses involved in their defense. When a homicide is determined to be justified and the accused establishes that they had sustained injury due to malicious prosecution, then that person will be awarded “fair and just compensation.” SB 1120 further states that in order to support a claim of malicious prosecution, the claimant must establish that the prosecution was instituted or instigated by the prosecutor and was without probable cause; that the prosecution had legally and finally been terminated in favor of the claimant; and that as a result of the criminal prosecution, the claimant sustained injury. Malice may be established if the motive for the prosecution was something other than a desire to bring an offender to justice, or that it was one with ill will or hatred, or willfully done in a wanton or oppressive manner and in conscious disregard of the claimant’s rights. Under the legislation, a prosecutor may be held personally liable to a claimant if malicious prosecution is established.

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Intermittent Fasting Reduces Inflammation, Helps the Body Like a Diabetes Medication:

Intermittent fasting, characterized by cyclic periods of fasting and eating, has emerged as a popular weight loss approach in recent years. Interestingly, however, a new study reports intermittent fasting can benefit the body in yet another way: reducing inflammation. Scientists from the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute conclude intermittent fasting can increase levels of galectin-3, a protein linked to bodily inflammatory responses. “Inflammation is associated with higher risk of developing multiple chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. We’re encouraged to see evidence that intermittent fasting is prompting the body to fight inflammation and lowering those risks,” says Benjamin Horne, Ph.D., principal investigator of the study and director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute, in a media release. These findings are actually only a portion of Intermountain’s WONDERFUL Trial, which found that intermittent fasting can also help reduce both metabolic syndrome score (MSS) and insulin resistance. This inflammation-specific portion of the trial included 67 patients (ages 21-70) dealing with at least one metabolic syndrome feature or type 2 diabetes. All participants had elevated LDL cholesterol levels and weren’t taking any anti-diabetic or statin medications.

Examiner – Lens:

After 20 years, actor Don Johnson is reprising the title role in a “Nash Bridges” revival. “I liked his nimbleness, how he could be funny one moment and dead cold serious the next,” he said of the character.

Iranian Government Hackers Want In on the Ransomware Hacking Sprees, F.B.I. Warns:

Ransomware gangs that hack into companies, lock up their computers, then demand ransoms to free them up, have frequently been tied back to Russian-speaking hackers – but Iranian government-linked hackers are getting in on the action, too, the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency C.I.S.A. warned in an alert Wednesday. The government-linked hackers, which have gone by the alias “Elie” on victim systems at times, have targeted a U.S.-based children’s hospital and a municipal government so far. The hackers are also eyeing brazen attacks in the transportation sector and against other public health organizations, the alert said. Australia’s government warned it has seen suspected Iranian government-linked hackers running ransomware ops as well. It’s a reminder that Russian hacking gangs don’t hold a monopoly on ransomware attacks that could cause disruption, akin to the hacks against Colonial Pipeline or JBS earlier this year. In some cases, the Iranian hacking gangs have been reaching out to targets with fake “interview requests,” only to try stealing their passwords to later run the ransomware attacks, according to a report published this week by cybersecurity researchers at Microsoft. Six Iranian hacking groups in all, some of which use the alias “@badguy,” have been running ransomware attacks in waves of every six to eight weeks since September 2020, the researchers said.

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Supermarkets Alter Layouts, Use Decoys to Fill Gaps Left by Shortages:

While chaos reigns in supply chains, grocery stores are trying to present an appealing and seemingly organized front for customers. To do so, some are turning to age-old tricks of the trade, and developing new ones, to cover up gaps on the shelves. That includes moving products to unlikely places in stores. Shoppers in the U.K. said they have spotted bulky crates of beer piled into aisles reserved for prepackaged meals and boxes of chocolate filling crates usually stocked with fresh vegetables. One branch of Co-operative Group Ltd., which operates stores under Co-op, stocked refrigerated displays with shelf-stable HP Sauce and Heinz Salad Cream condiments so that shoppers wouldn’t see empty racks. “We’ve been impacted by some patchy disruption to our deliveries,” a spokesperson for Co-op said. “Our teams are always trying to make sure our stores look as attractive as possible and sometimes managers come up with creative ways of making sure shelves are full.” Businesses the world over are experiencing product shortages as demand for goods has rebounded faster than supply following the worst of the pandemic, which also disrupted labor availability at food suppliers. In the U.K., 17% of consumers said they couldn’t buy essential food items because they were unavailable between September 22 and October 3, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics. Retailers say they need to maintain their customer experience as best they can to remain competitive. Some 58% of consumers said supply-chain disruptions, product shortages and shipping delays have made shopping more stressful, and 41% said product shortages and significant shipping and delivery delays would cause them to abandon a brand, according to results from an October survey by New York-based trade association I.C.S.C., which represents retail businesses.

Examiner – Site Of The Day:


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Examiner – Lens:

Gas prices in San Francisco last week.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Wants to be the Next James Bond:

The Rock wants to be 007. Pro-wrestling star turned actor Dwayne Johnson has an interest in succeeding Daniel Craig as James Bond, he recently revealed. “I would like to follow in his footsteps and be the next Bond,” Johnson, 49, said. Johnson whose grandfather Peter Maivia played a Bond villain in 1967’s “You Only Live Twice” – isn’t content with just appearing in a movie in the movie franchise. “I don’t want to be a villain,” The Rock added with a wide smile. “You gotta be Bond.”

Examiner – (Notable) Remarks:

** There is yawning chasm between the press narrative about what happened that night in Wisconsin – what the conventional, proper-thinking wisdom was – and what actually seems to have happened. The smart set insisted that Kyle Rittenhouse was a MAGA-loving vigilante who went to Kenosha to kill BLM supporters. Remember that the President of the United States seemed to imply Rittenhouse was a “white supremacist” in a campaign video. The divide between the coverage and the reality – Rittenhouse appears to have a solid self-defense case – is stark. —- Nellie Bowles

** “If someone is willing to pay for sex or a kidney, and a consulting adult is willing to sell, the only question the economist asks is: ‘How much?’” —- Michael J. Sandel, “What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets”

** When the sources of news keep getting things wrong, and all the errors lie in the exact same direction, and they are reluctant to acknowledge error, we have a problem. If you look back at the last few years, the record of errors, small and large, about major stories, is hard to deny. It’s as if the more Donald Trump accused the MSM of being “fake news” the more assiduously they tried to prove him right. —- Andrew Sullivan

** In 2018, the NPR correspondent Sam Sanders made this modest proposal: “It’s time to put woke to sleep” – arguing that the term had passed its sell-by date. But “woke,” which has a longer etymological history, has only become increasingly common in recent years. What was once a popular adjective among left-leaning social media cognoscenti as part of the colloquial admonition to “stay woke” to various forms of systemic racism first morphed into a general shorthand denoting today’s left-leaning orthodoxy and then a slur that underscored the overweening, obsessive nature of said orthodoxy. Last week, the Times columnist Bret Stephens argued that wokeness has been “clobbered” politically. That came on the heels of the Times columnist Maureen Dowd arguing that wokeness “derails” the Democratic Party. In the aftermath of Democrats’ loss in the recent Virginia governor’s race, the veteran Democratic consultant James Carville identified “stupid wokeness” as the proximate cause. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, herself an avatar of wokeness, tweet-dismissed that assessment by saying “the average audience for people seriously using the word ‘woke’ in a 2021 political discussion are James Carville and Fox News pundits so that should tell you all you need to know.” A couple of days later, she tweeted: “‘Woke’ is a term pundits are now using as a derogatory euphemism for civil rights & justice.” —- John McWhorter, N.Y. Times

** “Crooks and civilians need to congregate every once in a while to reinforce their life decisions.” —- Colson Whitehead, “Harlem Shuffle” (2021)

Examiner – Investigates:

** Scientists demonstrate ultrashort laser pulses can kill multidrug-resistant superbugs without damaging human cells; the approach may be used to sterilize wounds.

** A death-defying motorcycle stunt. WATCH

Examiner – See It:

Taylor Swift’s rereleases seem designed to punish her transgressors and fortify her legacy.

Leading Tech Entrepreneur, Ed Kushins, Examines Inflation Soaring in Vast Industries

Inflation is soaring and the media is covering it endlessly from countless angles. What will soaring inflation do to your industry over the next year?

A poll last week indicated that 53% of American voters said they were extremely concerned about inflation and higher prices. No other issue topped 50%. Not COVID, immigration, education or foreign policy.

While aware and empathetic that inflation has been painful for many, it has offered opportunities for some industries and companies, and not because they are price gouging. “Many in my industry (vacation home real estate) have benefited from rapidly rising prices and my own company (Vacation Property Partners) has not only benefited, but is helping our users deal with unexpected rapid inflation.”

The vacation home real estate market has been on fire, with prices and demand soaring in the midst of limited inventory. That’s resulted in faster sales at higher prices for sellers, they’ve certainly benefited. Many real estate brokers get multiple offers at higher prices (and higher commissions). And while there has been some recent softening in some markets, it has been more of a flattening of the trajectory due more to lack of inventory than lack of demand.

  • In 2020, vacation-home sales rose 16.4%, outpacing the growth in total existing-home sales of 5.6% and the median existing vacation-home sales price typically rose by 14.2% Jonathan Spears, a real estate agent and founder of Spears Group, based in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, said he believes market gains will continue across the U.S. in 2022. Specifically, as people continue to become more comfortable returning to big cities, he expects to see the largest surges in metropolitan markets in the Northeast, Southeast and the West Coast.
  • “Despite some market prognosticators forecasting increases in market values upwards of 15%, because the market experienced an increase of over 30% in the previous year, it may actually seem as though real estate markets have slowed,” he said. “Because of low inventory, we won’t see as high of rates of absorption simply because the inventory is not there.”

“My website, is actually poised to benefit from the current inflation and inventory situation and the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) being fomented. We facilitate two families to partner to buy a single vacation home, thus essentially cutting their costs in half and allowing them to buy a vacation home they might otherwise not be able to afford in a market with rising prices and limited supply. That lack of inventory allows two Vacation Property Partners to take advantage of one available vacation home, allowing it to satisfy the needs of two families. It’s actually an inflation workaround. is offering somewhat the same service, but with a different business model where owners do not own a property directly, but own shares in an LLC that owns the property, and usually have ⅛ usage of a property rather than ½ usage. Inflation can certainly have uncomfortable to devastating effects on individuals and companies, but a savvy response can often offer mitigation and even opportunity.”

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