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Editorial: Short takes on coronavirus wagering, dog roaming and 'anti-American' Biden backers

Editorial: Short takes on coronavirus wagering, dog roaming and 'anti-American' Biden backers

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Betting on a coronavirus retreat

A special session of the Missouri Legislature called to address issues related to the growing coronavirus pandemic had to be postponed because of, well, uh, the pandemic. Specifically, a group of Senate Republicans held a largely mask-less retreat in Branson last week, after which members and staffers noticed an uptick in infections. One attendee at a retreat dinner was a representative of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, which is urging lawmakers to pass a bill exempting businesses from liability lawsuits when outbreaks occur in their facilities. Gov. Mike Parson is a big fan of such a bill, which is why he called the special session.

Meanwhile, a Tyson Foods pork plant in Iowa suspended top officials after receiving complaints that they were betting on how many employees would get infected with the coronavirus as the state faced a skyrocketing outbreak. Meat-packing plants have been particularly vulnerable to mass infections. According to a lawsuit, Waterloo plant manager Tom Hart organized a “cash buy-in, winner-take-all betting pool for supervisors and managers to wager on how many employees would test positive for COVID-19.”

The Associated Press reports that Hart allegedly organized the pool last spring, when the virus infected more than 1,000 of the plant’s 2,800 workers and killed at least six. Maybe Tyson should consider moving to Missouri, where efforts are underway to protect companies from liability for such obvious negligence.

Holiday homecoming

Just in time for Thanksgiving, a New England golden retriever named Walter, lost in the woods of suburban St. Louis since last Thanksgiving, was recently reunited with his family. Walter’s odyssey began during the 2019 Thanksgiving holiday, when his owner, Kate Olson, who lives in New Hampshire, was visiting family in Fenton. Walter — then 3 and prone to what his owner called anxiety issues — slipped his collar and took off.

In the ensuing months, Olson repeatedly flew back to St. Louis to search the nearby woods and post signs, and even established a “Where’s Walter” Facebook page, all to no avail.

Then, earlier this month, Olson got a call from Lost Paws Trapping, a volunteer organization that finds lost pets. Walter had been captured. He had apparently spent most of a year in the woods behind an industrial park in Arnold. He required two baths but seems otherwise fine.

“He has been such a little love,” Olson told KSDK-Channel 5. “He is the same sweet boy he was before and maybe even sweeter because he has missed getting loved on.”

‘Poor example’

A university dean in Virginia earlier this month posted a Facebook rant calling anyone who voted for Joe Biden “anti-American” and unfriending them. The public backlash has apparently prompted his resignation and apology. “If you were ignorant, anti-American, and anti-Christian enough to vote for Biden, I really don’t want to be your social friend on social media,” wrote Paul Ewell, then dean of the Virginia Wesleyan University Global Campus. “I wouldn’t hang out with you in real life, I don’t want to hang out with you virtually either. You have corrupted the election. You have corrupted our youth. You have corrupted our country. I have standards and you don’t meet them. Please remove yourself.”

Biden’s opponent, of course, is an epically sore election loser who has undermined the norms of democracy by refusing to acknowledge his electoral loss and slandering voters and election workers in much of the country. This, apparently, was Ewell’s definition of a good, Christian American.

Ewell has resigned from the university and admitted to the university’s student newspaper, the Marlin Chronicle, that he “set a poor example in that post of what a Christian should be.”

Horrible, rotten, no-good sales ploy

Just in time for China’s biggest sales day of the year, a major retailer in China drew well-deserved ire after one of its stores replaced the normal size designations for women’s clothing with: “Slim,” “Beautiful,” “Rotten” and “Horrible.” Fat-shaming, in other words. Britain’s The Guardian newspaper identified the big-box superstore as RT-Mart, which is headquartered in Taiwan but has more than 400 stores in China.

“I was shocked when I saw this size chart at a RT-Mart today. Am I completely rotten?” one commenter was quoted as posting online.

Once that and other outraged customer comments went viral, the store chain issued a kind of non-apology apology that ended with “Thank you very much for your understanding and support of RT-Mart!” We rate the store’s chances of regaining its lost customers as somewhere between Rotten and Horrible.

Back in the social media hot seat

Social media kings Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey were again called to testify before Congress this week. Once again they spoke in mostly vague, non-specific, non-committal terms about what they are doing to make their platforms more safe. But neither accepted much responsibility for the negative effects of their inventions, which have made them both wildly wealthy.

While Republican senators, including Ted Cruz of Texas, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Missouri’s Josh Hawley, compared the two chief executives to everything from robber barons to tobacco executives, the crux of their argument is that the platforms censor conservative voices, including President Donald Trump.

Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies are shielded from liability under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. But there are no protections from blatant political grandstanding. While serious debate is warranted over how to regulate these platforms, they are correct in trying to rid their content of misinformation and hate.

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