Idiot Tasked With Maintaining America's Nukes Surprised to Learn What His Job Is

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Photo via AP

In December, Rick Perry enthusiastically accepted the nomination to be Donald Trump’s secretary of energy—unfortunately for both Perry and the American people, he had no idea what the fuck he was signing up for. According to a New York Times report, Perry originally believed the job was being “a global ambassador for the American oil and gas industry.”

It’s not.

In fact, two-thirds of the Energy Department’s budget is spent on maintaining and protecting our nuclear arsenal, which Perry clearly doesn’t know much about. In his 2012 bid for the GOP nomination, Perry proposed abolishing the Energy Department before forgetting what it was even called.

Now this dunce will likely be in charge our country’s most powerful weapons. This is sure to go just fine.

“If you asked [Perry] on that first day he said yes, he would have said, ‘I want to be an advocate for energy,’” Michael McKenna, a Republican energy lobbyist who advised Perry’s 2016 campaign and worked on Trump’s transition team, told the New York Times. “If you asked him now, he’d say, ‘I’m serious about the challenges facing the nuclear complex.’ It’s been a learning curve.”

On Thursday, Perry will begin the confirmation process for energy secretary. If approved, he’ll be taking over for former MIT physics chairman, Ernest J. Moniz. The Times notes:

For Mr. Moniz, the future of nuclear science has been a lifelong obsession; he spent his early years working at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Mr. Perry studied animal husbandry and led cheers at Texas A&M University.

Perry has no experience making high-powered national security issues. He once said of the organization, “They’ve never created one bit of energy, the best I can tell.”

This is fine. Everything is fine.

[New York Times]

Big Dairy Pays Out Big Bucks to Milk Lovers Over Alleged Conspiracy to Kill 500,000 Cows

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Image: Getty

In September, Big Dairy settled a lawsuit for over $50 million, which claimed it conspired to kill off 500,000 cows in an effort to gouge milk prices. Now, milk lovers in 15 states can potentially reap the rewards of this lawsuit by visiting the website, boughtmilk.com.

The class action suit alleged that in 2003, the National Milk Producers Federation and its subsidiary, Cooperatives Working Together, began paying “above-market prices for dairy cows owned by member farmers, and sent them to be slaughtered before they would have otherwise.” According to the complaint, this was in order to “reduce the supply of milk, eliminate competition and significantly reduce the number of dairy farmers competing in the market in order to increase the price of raw farm milk.”

Steve Berman, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, told USA Today that the program to slaughter cows was a “classic price-fixing scheme.”

The dairy industry has found itself embroiled in a number antitrust lawsuits in the past decade. In June, the Dairy Farmers of America, Dairy Marketing Services, and Dean Foods settled a class action suit for $50 million after dairy farmers claimed the organizations colluded to decrease raw milk prices in the northeast. In 2013, the Dairy Farmers of America and others paid $158.6 million after they were accused of “violating antitrust laws by conspiring to control the supply chain and prices for milk in the Southeast.” In 2010, Dean Foods paid northeast dairy farmers a $30 million as a settlement for yet another antitrust lawsuit.

Even though Big Dairy still denies the latest allegations, they’re still paying up big time. Anyone who bought dairy products from 2003 to the present and lives in any of the following states—Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia, or Wisconsin—is eligible for a still undetermined amount that depends on how many folks claim rebates.

As New York-based milk lover—I love milk—I’m not eligible to receive any of the settlement. But many of you can, simply by clicking here and submitting a claim before January 31, 2017.

[USA Today, Bloomberg]

Drug Maker Who Jacked Up Cost of Baby Medicine 85,000 Percent Still Isn't Sorry

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Photo: Getty

You can lead a drug company to public shame, but you can’t make it feel remorse.

On Wednesday, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals agreed to pay a $100 million fine over anticompetitive practices related to Acthar gel, a lifesaving medication for epileptic infants that has ballooned in price from $40 a vial to an outrageous $34,000 a vial since 2001.

Infantile spasms is a rare, sometimes fatal, form of epilepsy that typically strikes babies before their first birthday. According to prosecutors, the company was able to monopolize treatment of the illness with Acthar by buying (and subsequently ignoring) rights to its only major competitor, a synthetic version called Synacthen that sold for a fraction of the price in Europe and Canada.

Under the terms of its settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, Mallinckrodt will license rights to Synacthen to another drug maker for development in the United States, but will admit to no wrongdoing—a fact the company emphasized in a press release on Wednesday.

“[W]e continue to strongly disagree with allegations outlined in the FTC’s complaint,” said Mallinckrodt spokesperson, “believing that key claims are unsupported and even contradicted by scientific data and market facts, and appear to be inconsistent with the views of the FDA.”

In the 2012 New York Times story that first publicized Acthar’s rising costs, the former CEO of Mallinckrodt subsidiary Questcor similarly defended the company’s apparent price-gouging.

“We could lower the price and make less money,” Don M. Bailey told the Times, “and then we would be sued by our shareholders.”

[CNN]

This Never-Ending Parade of Snow Plows Is Easily the Best Way to Clear Snowy Roads

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If you’re from a place where it snows a lot (I’m not), and where people don’t annoyingly complain about how cold it is all the time (not me), and are totally prepared for the winter months (also, not me), you’re probably not as surprised as I am about this seemingly never-ending stretch of badass snow plowers attacking each lane of the snowy road until it’s all cleaned up.

There are so many trucks at work that the ones bringing up the rear don’t have anything to do. This particular video comes from Russia where they’re notorious for swarms of machines working on the roads together.

Walking on the Roads of Argentina Looks Awesome

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Argentina has so many wonderfully different backdrops and views that it’s a pretty perfect place to travel through. Guillaume Juin walked on the roads of the beautiful country and captured gorgeous imagery in this video. You can really see how diverse the landscape is. In the northern parts of Argentina it’s a total desert. In the south? You’ll run into the beautiful snow-capped mountains of Patagonia.

Jalopnik What It Really Takes To Trade Your Day Job For Race Cars And Parties | Two Cents What Emplo

Patrick Stewart is Shit and Other News From Sony's Upcoming Animation Slate

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Yes, it’s true. Patrick Stewart is shit. The voice of the shit emoji, to be more specific, in the upcoming Emoji Movie. This casting tidbit was just one of many pieces of news Sony Pictures Animation released at an event today in Los Angeles.

Probably the biggest announcement was that the December 2018 animated Spider-Man movie will, indeed, feature Miles Morales as the main character. “The thing that inspired us the most about Spider-Man is that anyone can wear that mask,” said the film’s producer Phil Lord. “Any race, creed or color, any gender, anybody can project themselves into that hero. That’s the point we’re trying to make.”

But that movie almost two years away. Before that, Sony Animation has three big movies this year: Smurfs: The Lost Village on April 7, The Emoji Movie on August 4, and The Star on November 10.

Starting with The Emoji Movie, the question is, why make Patrick Stewart the voice of the shit emoji? “We’re playing Poop very upper crust,” said director Tony Leondis. “In our movie, he’s the one that makes the [poop] jokes and doesn’t know he’s doing it. And who better to play a posh and classy emoji than Sir Patrick Stewart?”

Other new cast additions announced include Maya Rudolph as the voice of the first, and most powerful emoji, Smiler, as well as Jake T. Austin as the voice of Alex, the film’s human who has all the emojis in the film living on his phone. They’ll join the previously announced TJ Miller, James Corden, Steven Wright, and others.

The biggest announcements, in terms of voice cast, went to The Star, a new, animated retelling of the Nativity Story centered on the animals. Steven Yeun, Kelly Clarkson, Aidy Bryant, Keegan-Michael Key, Kristin Chenoweth, Anthony Anderson, Gabriel Iglesias, Ving Rhames, Delilah Rene, Kris Kristofferson, Gina Rodriguez, Zachary Levi, Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Tracy Morgan, and Christopher Plummer will all provide voices.

Lastly, Smurfs: The Lost Village will have the traditional array of Smurfs finding a new village of Smurfs. In that village, Smurfette will find out she’s not the only female Smurf and the ones she finds are voiced by Michelle Rodriguez, Ellie Kemper, Ariel Winter, and Julia Roberts—the latter as SmurfWillow, the new village’s version of Papa Smurf.

Based on the finished footage shown, I can’t say I was overly excited about any of the films coming (they only showed a very early concept reel of Spider-Man). But it’s impossible to deny those voice casts are impressive. And casting Patrick Stewart as Poop is a stroke of genius.

Palmer Luckey's First Day Back in the Spotlight Was Not Fun

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Palmer Luckey (AP Images)

DALLAS — After being basically in hiding for 117 days, Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey spent his first full day back in the spotlight getting grilled by a feisty lawyer who tried to “make fun” of the fact Luckey had no college degrees.

Luckey took the stand here in the northern district Federal courtroom to testify in a $2 billion intellectual property lawsuit brought against Facebook by ZeniMax. The suit alleges Oculus stole vital information before it was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $2 billion:

While Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony yesterday got testy, today Luckey made Zuck seem chiller than a billionaire with 16 bodyguards.

In a heated exchange with ZeniMax lawyer Phillip Philbin (real name!), Luckey repeatedly interjected and argued over the characterization of a non-disclosure agreement he had with ZeniMax, and Philbin’s omissions while reading out parts of the NDA in court.

“I can’t answer your question accurately when you leave out seven or eight words,” Luckey huffed.

Later Luckey added: “You’re only showing me one message in a long chain of messages. I just want to make sure I accurately describe the content of my [email] replies so they’re not taken to mean something they don’t mean. Which is easy to do when there’s only one line there.”

“You don’t have a law degree, right?” Philbin shot back.

Part of ZeniMax’s legal argument is that Luckey is no genius, and didn’t have the technical skill to build the Oculus Rift on his own. To attempt to establish this, Philbin asked Luckey if he had a degree in electrical engineering. “No,” Luckey replied. Then, Phillbin asked if Luckey had a degree in engineering. “No,” Luckey replied. “Well, you don’t have a degree at all?” “No,” Luckey replied, explaining that he had dropped out of college. Lawyers for Facebook later characterized this as an attempt by ZeniMax to “make fun” of Luckey, who is 24 years old and worth a shitload of money.

Facebook responded to ZeniMax’s attempts to make Luckey look like a know-nothing by recalling Luckey’s long interest in engineering and electronics from a young age. Lawyers for Facebook showed the jury an issue of “Nuts and Volts,” an electronics hobbyist magazine that Luckey had subscribed to as a youth. Facebook’s lawyers also had Luckey recount stories of tinkering with electronics in his parent’s garage as a teenager. Essentially, Facebook called bullshit on the suggestion that Luckey would have needed to complete college to build an Oculus Rift prototype.

During one of the breaks, it appeared that a lawyer from Facebook was giving Luckey a pep talk, seemingly instructing him to slow down and be more calm. When that Facebook lawyer later questioned Luckey, she asked him to speak slower.

ZeniMax is seeking $2 billion in damages and a jury verdict is expected sometime next week.

New American Airlines Fare Doesn't Let You Bring Overhead Baggage

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Image: AP

On Wednesday, American Airlines announced that it will soon offer a cheap-as-hell “basic economy” package for its flights. The catch—because there’s always a catch when it comes to flying—is that these passengers won’t be able to use the overhead bins while flying.

Outside of checked baggage, which will still incur a regular fee, “basic economy” fliers—let’s call them “basics” for short—will only be allowed to bring one personal item on board with them, and it’ll have to fit under the seat. “No overhead bin luggage may be brought on board,” the airline’s press release notes pointedly. If your bag doesn’t fit, you’re looking at a $25 checked bag fee plus another $25 for checking it at the gate. Presumably, even if there’s space for your bags, you won’t get the privilege of putting them overhead.

Here’s how basics compares to normal passengers:

Image: American Airlines

As if the overhead bin discrimination wasn’t bad enough, Basics will also be forced to board the plane last, and won’t get their seat assignments until check-in. And as for whether the price differential will be worth the pain, American described the price as a vague “lowest available.”

Of course, American Airlines isn’t the only company trying to squeeze the life and baggage out of its customers. United Airlines announced a similar program back in December, with similar rules about overhead baggage.

When asked for comment about the draconian new rules, a spokesperson for American Airlines simply sent us back a statement regurgitating the language of the company’s press release. Welcome to the future, everyone.

[CNN]

This Is as Close as Disney's Going to Get to Confirming the Pixar Connection Theory

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One of the most beloved theories of the internet over the past few years has been the “Pixar Theory”—the wild declaration that posits that every part of the Pixar animation oeuvre is part of the same universe. Disney has released a new video gathering every connection between Pixar films to date, and it’s the closest you’ll get to them actually acknowledging it.

It’s not a timeline that would make a Legend of Zelda fan blush or anything, but Disney’s definitive gathering of every interconnected Easter egg to make its way into a Pixar movie—from Toy Story’s Pizza Planet truck to Riley from Inside Out showing up in Finding Dory—is still a fun sojourn in trying to get all of the Pixar movies joined together.

Most of these are simply fun teasers, but a few Easter eggs like the Inside Out/Finding Dory stuff do at least “confirm” for some fans that at least part of the Pixar library is part of the same world. Maybe it’s time for a crack at an updated take on the universal theory of Pixar?

[Toy Story via AV Club]