As Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on the Lone Star State on Friday, a Cypress, Texas Best Buy apparently decided drinking water was a very precious commodity! Now the retail giant is apologizing big time after charging $42.96 for a 24-pack of bottled water. A 12-pack of Smart Water was selling for $29.98 with a warning there was a "Limited Supply." After a photo of the insane prices went viral and outraged tweeters pummeled the big-box retailer, a rep issued a mea culpa, calling the pricing "a big mistake" made by an employee. The worker calculated the costs based on the price per individual bottle, which is how Best Buy usually sells its water. The electronics giant says they were focused "on helping, not hurting" Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey. The rep said, "It won't happen again." Meanwhile, more than 600 complaints of outrageous prices have poured into the Texas Attorney General's office, including stores charging $100 for a case of drinking water, hotels tripling rates, and gas going for $10 a gallon. Because nothing says America like taking advantage of those in need! AG Ken Paxton said, "These are things you can't do in Texas," and warned that anyone caught inflating prices faces a $20,000 fine, and up to $250,000 if the victim is 65 or older. (Newser)
6,600 Dead Sharks
Crew members aboard a Chinese ship in the Galapagos Islands have been handed almost $6 million in fines plus jail time after what is being called "likely one of the biggest seizures of illegal sharks in recent years." Investigators boarded the Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 in the Galapagos Marine Reserve and found 300 tons of marine species on board, including 6,600 dead sharks! The reserve has "the highest abundance of sharks known in the world." Authorities believe the vessel was likely only transporting the haul as it did not have the necessary equipment to catch such large quantities of silky, thresher, mako, and what are believed to be endangered hammerhead sharks. Meanwhile, a Chinese Foreign Ministry rep says the vessel's 20 Chinese crew members didn't fish in the reserve and were simply unaware of Ecuadorian rules when they entered it without permission. They were convicted of possessing and transporting protected species on Monday. (National Geographic)
Taylor Swift - You Done Screwed Up Now!
Taylor Swift and Ticketmaster claim their new partnership is to help ensure tickets to her upcoming tour go to her biggest fans, not scalpers. Sounds like a great idea until you find out how it works which many are calling immoral, illegal and a ponzi scheme! The complicated process, which utilizes Ticketmaster's new Verified Fan service, asks fans to buy Swift merchandise or promote her music on social media to earn "boosts" to their place in line for tickets, all in the hopes that when tickets go on sale, they've boosted themselves to the front of the line and are able to snag seats at a show. Of course, buying stuff gets you a lot more boosts than simply watching a Swift music video or posting about her online, but even that doesn't actually guarantee you a ticket. Not surprisingly, many are calling the scheme "pay-to-play" and a "scam." Donovan Farley at Consequence of Sound writes that Swift herself has actually become a scalper by charging extra to ensure a place in line for tickets - not the tickets themselves. Farley also notes that fans who preorder Swift's new album, Reputation, for boosts and want to actually get it on the day it's released have to pay an extra $48.03 shipping charge, a "nonsensical move [that] seems aimed to appease UPS, one of Swift's many corporate partners." And then there's the fact that fans are encouraged to buy multiple copies of Reputation to get more boosts which Farley calls an "egregiously immoral" move. On his Lefsetz Letter, music analyst Bob Lefsetz calls the whole thing "almost a Ponzi scheme" and Swift herself a greedy, "hypocritical bully." (Newser)
Three Cheers for the Canadian Bike Police!
One of America's most wanted fugitives has been caught - by a couple of Canadian bike police. Two cycling police officers were patrolling a Montreal bike path when they spotted two men they suspected of having drugs. The suspects took off running and the officers pursued. Both suspects were caught near a train station, but it was only later during fingerprinting that police officers realized exactly what they'd accomplished. One of the men captured was 35-year-old Katay-Khaophone Sychanta, who held a spot on the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's list of the top 10 most wanted criminals. Sychanta is accused of running an Ontario-based drug smuggling operation that "supplied millions of ecstasy pills and hundreds of pounds of marijuana to several distributors located in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, Georgia, and New York. He's now in the custody of Ontario Provincial Police and may face extradition to the US. (CBC News)
Turns Out Your Hotel Room is Easier to Break Into Than You Thought!
Aaron Cashatt says, "It was like the heavens had opened." Unfortunately he's talking about how easily a homemade device he created helped him break into dozens of hotel rooms. Made of little more than a circuit board, wires, and a nine-volt battery, the device was kept hidden in a sunglasses case and effectively unlocked hotel rooms across multiple states. Cashatt says he found instructions to build the device online and estimates he broke into more than 100 hotel rooms stealing iPads, TVs, laptops, jewelry, luggage, a US marshal's gun and badge, a pilot's uniform and license, passports, and more. He used the money he got from fencing the goods to gamble and support a meth habit. (Wired)
Just Got Fired? Burger King's Got Your Back!
If you've recently been fired from your job, Burger King wants to make you feel better with a free Whopper. Burger King launched its "own your fire" promotion Tuesday and will send a "Whopper severance package" to the first 2,500 people who post the following message to their LinkedIn profile: "I got fired. I want a free Whopper. #whopperseverance." Adweek notes it's "an odd bit of marketing" that requires some "mental gymnastics" to connect being fired from your job to the fire Burger King uses to grill its burgers. In a statement, Burger King explains: "We know getting fired sucks, but getting a free Whopper doesn't." It also seems unlikely Burger King will be able to vet people's claims of having been fired or to disqualify people who were fired for behavior Burger King would prefer not to be associated with, such as sexual harassment or workplace violence. But a restaurant spokesperson says they believe applicants will get the "light-hearted nature of the idea." You have until Friday to let Burger King know you were let go from your job. (Business Insider)
What the What?
In Cambridge, England, folks walking by the local courthouse were treated to the sight of 31-year-old Jeffrey Shaver who was wearing nothing more than shoes, socks, and a green thong, while standing next to two large signs that read: Return My Bong and Return My Marijuana. Shaver claims that Waterloo Regional Police wrongfully arrested him for possession of marijuana last October. He says, "I have a legal medical marijuana card. Five months after I got it, I was arrested for possession of marijuana, but I had my card on me." He also says his unusual protest got lots of support from those passing by. (The Record)