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Congress To Hold Ticketmaster Hearing After Taylor Swift Fans Experience Monopoly All Too Well

A Senate antitrust panel will hold a hearing on the lack of competition in the ticketing industry.

Tommaso Boddi/WireImage

Among the most influential voters in America today: the rich, the well-connected, and apparently now, Taylor Swift fans.

The Senate’s panel on competition policy, antitrust, and consumer rights will hold a hearing to examine the lack of competition in the ticketing industry, announced Senator Amy Klobuchar on Tuesday. The news comes after Swift fans across the globe met exorbitant prices and exclusive availability for tickets to the superstar’s first tour in years.

“The high fees, site disruptions and cancellations that customers experienced shows how Ticketmaster’s dominant market position means the company does not face any pressure to continually innovate and improve,” said Klobuchar, chair of the panel. “That’s why we will hold a hearing on how consolidation in the live entertainment and ticketing industry harms customers and artists alike.”

Further details including the hearing’s date and witnesses are to be announced at a later date.

The announcement comes after a series of statements from officials expressing interest in taking on the issue.

Last week, Klobuchar sent a letter to Michael Rapino, CEO of ticketing giant Live Nation, expressing concerns about the ticketing industry’s monopolistic behavior, and questioning Rapino on whether Live Nation’s practices were working to mitigate those monopolistic tendencies.

Senator Richard Blumenthal and Representatives Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, David Cicilline, and Bill Pascrell joined Klobuchar in expressing concerns into the ticketing industry.

Cicilline, alongside Pascrell and Representatives Frank Pallone and Jerry Nadler, called on the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission in April 2021 to investigate ticketing giant Live Nation and its potential monopolistic practices.

And then on Monday—a day before announcing the hearing herself—Klobuchar, alongside Senators Richard Blumenthal and Ed Markey, sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, urging the Justice Department to investigate and “consider unwinding the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger and breaking up the company.”

The fight spans beyond just months or even years. Decades ago, members of Pearl Jam had been advocating for the breakup of Ticketmaster’s hold on consumers. “All the members of Pearl Jam remember what it’s like to be young and not have a lot of money,” said guitarist Stone Gossard. “We have made a conscious decision that we do not want to put the price of our concerts out of the reach of our fans.”

And the struggle continues. Klobuchar, and the case of Taylor Swift—who was preschool age when Pearl Jam testified on the same issue—could help finally end it.

Supreme Court Allows Congress to Finally See Donald Trump’s Tax Returns

The ruling ends a three-year legal battle over the former president’s tax returns.

ALON SKUY/AFP via Getty Images

Donald Trump nominated three justices to this Supreme Court, but that fortunately hasn’t stopped the court from ruling in favor of the basic idea that nobody, not even Trump, is immune from the law.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court denied former President Donald Trump’s request to withhold his tax returns from a House committee seeking them.

The court’s order, unsigned and including no dissents or additional reasoning, directs the Treasury Department to finally turn over Trump’s returns. The House Ways and Means Committee have sought after the returns since 2019, after Trump refused to release them as a candidate during the 2016 election as is precedent.

In late October, a federal appeals court ruled against Trump, declining to reconsider an August ruling from a three-judge panel that also OK’d the House’s request to obtain the tax returns.

Things aren’t looking great for Team Trump generally.

Also on Tuesday, Senator Lindsey Graham was forced to testify before a Georgia grand jury over efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Last month, the Supreme Court ruled against Trump last month as he asked the court to intervene in the legal struggle surrounding the FBI’s seizure of classified documents from Mar-a-Lago.

And in January, the court declined to stop the National Archives from turning over documents to the House committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot.

With the Supreme Court’s decision, Trump has exhausted every possible rung on the judicial ladder to avoid releasing his tax returns—which may prompt one to wonder why someone would work so hard to avoid just releasing them!

In Final Message, Fauci Urges People To Please Just Get Their COVID Boosters

The White House chief medical adviser said his "final message" was for people to get their COVID vaccines.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

White House Chief Medical Adviser Anthony Fauci spent his last public briefing, on Tuesday, urging people to please get their COVID-19 shots and boosters if they haven’t already.

Fauci, who was the public face of the COVID response under the Trump and Biden administrations, briefed reporters from the White House for the last time before he leaves the government in December. He urged people to get up to date on their COVID and flu shots before winter.

“My message—and my final message, maybe the final message I give you from this podium—is that please for your own safety, for that of your family, get your updated COVID-19 shot as soon as you’re eligible to protect yourself, your family, and your community,” he said.

Fauci has served at the National Institutes of Health for 54 years, including leading the National Allergy and Infectious Disease Institute for nearly 40.

When asked how he wants people to remember him, Fauci replied, “I’ll let other people judge the value or not of my accomplishments, but what I would like people to remember about what I’ve done is that every day for all of those years I’ve given it everything that I have and I’ve never left anything on the field.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Fauci became a punching bag for the right as he pushed back on misinformation and conspiracy theories about the virus. Donald Trump called Fauci an “idiot” and a “disaster,” regularly belittled his public health advice, and then got his own COVID-19 vaccine in secret before he left the White House.

After His Final Briefing, Republicans Vow To Investigate Anthony Fauci

Republicans spent years spreading lies and conspiracy theories about COVID-19. Now, they’re promising to bring Fauci in.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci gave his last press briefing as a government advisor Tuesday, and Republicans ruined the moment by spreading falsehoods about him and the Covid-19 pandemic.

He urged people to stay up-to-date on their vaccines and boosters and condemned the spread of disinformation around public health.

In response, several Republican lawmakers said they would ask Fauci to testify over the handling of Covid-19.

Senator Rand Paul accused both him and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of animal torture.

During the briefing, a reporter for The Daily Caller tried to ask about investigations into the origin of Covid-19, another popular far-right conspiracy theory. Conservative figure and self-described fact checker Tom Fitton also tweeted about the investigation in Wuhan, China.

Fauci received praise since the start of the pandemic, particularly under former President Donald Trump’s administration, for his straightforward, fact-based briefings. But he quickly became a popular target for the far-right for promoting masks and vaccines and contradicting Trump. He began receiving death threats and had to increase his personal security.

FTX and Sam Bankman-Fried’s Parents Bought $121 Million Worth of Bahamas Property

Meanwhile, the failed cryptocurrency company owes billions of dollars to creditors.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

It turns out that Sam Bankman-Fried’s failed cryptocurrency exchange was actually a thriving real estate business this whole time.

A new report indicates that Bankman-Fried’s parents, FTX, and senior executives bought at least 19 properties in the Bahamas over the last two years worth almost $121 million.

According to official property records recovered from Reuters, the purchases included luxury beachfront homes, and seven resort condominiums that cost nearly $72 million by themselves.

It was previously known that FTX and company executives held real estate in the island nation. The Bahamas, after all, was host to Bankman-Fried’s around-$40 million penthouse where he lived and worked (and reportedly did more) alongside nine of his colleagues. While Bankman-Fried enjoyed the company of his nine colleagues, he told Reuters that FTX provided free meals and an “in-house Uber-like” service around the island.

Nevertheless, the property records provide a better look at the sheer scale of the Bahamas purchases—and the inordinate wealth FTX previously had at its disposal while it now owes billions to creditors.

Since the collapse of FTX, upwards of 1 million creditors are down billions of dollars. Bankman-Fried secretly used $10 billion in customer funds to prop up his trading company, Alameda Research, and as Reuters reported last week, at least $1.5 billion of that money is now missing.

Earlier this month, FTX collapsed and filed for bankruptcy protection. The company said in a court filing on Saturday that it owes its 50 largest creditors more than $3 billion.

FTX was the third-largest exchange valued at nearly $32 billion before November 11, when Bankman-Fried announced that the company, alongside other entities including his trading firm Alameda Research, would file for bankruptcy.

Read more at Reuters.

After Deadly Colorado Springs Shooting, Herschel Walker Releases Ad Attacking Transgender Athletes

Two trans people were killed in the attack in Colorado Springs. Walker somehow took that as a sign to double down on spreading anti-trans hate.

Herschel Walker speaks at a standing mic
Megan Varner/Getty Images

In the days since a gunman opened fire in a queer club in Colorado Springs, Herschel Walker has released an anti-trans ad and gone off on deeply anti-trans rants.

Five people were killed and at least 25 others wounded Saturday night when a gunman entered Club Q and started shooting. Many people were there to mark Transgender Day of Rememberance, a commemoration of people killed in anti-trans violence. Two of those killed were trans.

While there have been plenty of thoughts and prayers from Republicans, many have avoided mentioning that the LGBTQ community was specifically targeted. Georgia Senate candidate Walker went one step further, releasing an ad attacking transgender athletes.

The ad features NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines, who complained she had to compete against Lia Thomas, who is trans.

Walker said that letting Thomas compete against cisgender female swimmers was “unfair and wrong” and accused his opponent Raphael Warnock of being “afraid to stand up for female athletes.”

A day earlier, he delivered an unhinged speech laden with transphobia and bigotry.

Do y’all know what the definition of an enemy is? A enemy is somebody that don’t like you. But they been telling you they don’t know the definition of a woman either,” he said at a campaign event Sunday in Carrollton, Georgia.

“I’m going to tell you the definition of a woman. Because it written in my great book. It said ‘a man and a woman,’” which Walker failed to note is not actually a definition.

Walker, who has previously complained about “wokeness,” also condemned using people’s chosen pronouns in the military.

North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson—who has previously said LGBTQ people are “filth” and that straight people are “superior” to queer people—spoke at the rally as well.

This is not Walker’s first horrendous foray into transgender policy. In September, he said trans kids won’t get into heaven because Jesus isn’t smart enough to recognize them.

Former CIA Chief Mike Pompeo Calls Teachers Union Leader “Most Dangerous Person in the World”

One person has pushed for drone strikes in Afghanistan. The other wants teachers to be treated fairly.

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Former Secretary of State and CIA Director Mike Pompeo claims the president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union, Randi Weingarten, is the “most dangerous person in the world.”

“I tell the story often — I get asked ‘Who’s the most dangerous person in the world? Is it Chairman Kim, is it Xi Jinping?’ The most dangerous person in the world is Randi Weingarten,” Pompeo, who pushed for covert drone strikes in Afghanistan, said in an interview with Semafor published Monday.

“It’s not a close call. If you ask, ‘Who’s the most likely to take this republic down?’ It would be the teacher’s unions, and the filth that they’re teaching our kids, and the fact that they don’t know math and reading or writing,” the former top U.S. diplomat added.

Pompeo, who in 2017 did not disclose that his business imported oilfield equipment from a Chinese government-owned company, tied his supposed concern for kids with an angst for China.

“If our kids don’t grow up understanding America is an exceptional nation, we’re done. If they think it’s an oppressor class and an oppressed class, if they think the 1619 Project, and we were founded on a racist idea — if those are the things people entered the seventh grade deeply embedded in their understanding of America, it’s difficult to understand how Xi Jinping’s claim that America is in decline won’t prove true,” Pompeo said.

“...We should ban every element of Chinese technology that sits inside our ecosystem,” Pompeo said later. “The Chinese Communist Party is coming for your kids.”

Weingarten responded to the interview on Twitter, focusing less on Pompeo’s attacks and more on an affirmative vision of AFT’s efforts:

If this is a preview of Pompeo’s 2024 run for president, his case is already falling flat.

Fox News Dedicates Entire Segment to Hunter Biden Laptop Repairman’s Book Tour

John Paul Mac Isaac said he received a “chilling” warning from the FBI, and then went on to talk about his new book.

ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images

The computer repairman who says he worked on Hunter Biden’s laptop claimed the FBI threatened him over going public about it—while giving an interview the day before his book about the laptop comes out.

John Paul Mac Isaac appeared Monday on Fox News, where he has been a semi-regular guest, to discuss what he called the “chilling” warning that federal agents gave him.

Sporting a jaunty Scottish balmoral cap, Mac Isaac said he was “overjoyed” when FBI agents subpoenaed him for the laptop. As they were leaving, “I made a comment to Agent Mike; I said, ‘Don’t worry lads, when I write the book, I’ll change your names,’” Mac Isaac said, revealing part of an agent’s real name on national television.

John Paul Mac Isaac speaks with Bill Hemmer on Fox News.

That’s when Agent Mike turned around and told me that, in their experience, nothing ever happens to people that don’t talk about these things, which was kind of chilling.”

Mac Isaac said he has faced retaliation on “multiple fronts” since reporting the laptop two years ago. He has appeared on Fox News multiple times since the news broke to discuss his struggles, and spoken on the channel once a week since the start of November.

In May, he sued House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff and multiple media outlets, including CNN and Politico, for defamation. He also wrote a book titled American Injustice: My Battle to Expose the Truth, which came out Tuesday.

Since Republicans squeaked out control of the House of Representatives, they have said with their whole chest that investigating Hunter Biden—and by extension his father, President Joe Biden—is one of their top priorities.

Not, say, inflation or antitrust or cryptocurrency crashes.

Oregon Governor Pardons 45,000 People Convicted on Marijuana Charges

Governor Kate Brown’s pardon applies to people convicted for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana before 2016.

Kate Brown
Meg Roussos/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Outgoing Oregon Governor Kate Brown on Monday pardoned 45,000 state residents with minimum marijuana offenses.

The pardon applies to convictions for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana in cases before 2016 where the person involved was 21 or older. The measure applies to 47,000 state convictions and will forgive about $14,000 total in fines and fees linked to prior offenses.

“Oregonians should never face housing insecurity, employment barriers, and educational obstacles as a result of doing something that is now completely legal, and has been for years,” Brown said in a statement. Oregon legalized recreational weed use in July 2015.

She acknowledged that while state residents “use marijuana at similar rates, Black and Latina/o/x people have been arrested, prosecuted, and convicted at disproportionate rates.”

Brown’s decision comes about a month and a half after President Joe Biden pardoned more than 6,500 U.S. citizens federally convicted of simple marijuana possession, as well as those charged in Washington, D.C. He called on governors nationwide at the time to follow in his footsteps. He also instructed Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland to review how marijuana is classified under federal drug laws.

Recreational marijuana use is legal in 21 states and D.C. Maryland and Missouri are the two latest states to legalize weed, with state residents voting to pass amendments in favor of the move during the midterm elections.

Arrests for marijuana possession account for between 40 to 50 percent of all annual drug arrests nationwide, according to the ACLU, but “Black people are still more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people in every state, including those that have legalized marijuana.”

Krispy Kreme Forced to Give $1.2 Million to Workers After Massive Wage Theft

The Labor Department ordered Krispy Kreme to pay the sum after “overtime violations in multiple locations.”

Krispy Kreme building
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

On November 17, the Department of Labor announced that Krispy Kreme would be paying nearly $1.2 million in back wages and damages to 516 workers “to resolve overtime violations in multiple locations.” In other words, there was massive wage theft at the doughnut company and now it has to pay up.

The department first began its investigation at a Louisville, Kentucky-based Krispy Kreme, but it soon found violations to be “widespread and systemic” and expanded its probe to all 242 locations across the country.

The department determined that the $2.5 billion company had failed to include monthly bonuses in some employees’ regular pay rates, consequently paying workers less overtime.

“Overtime and minimum wage violations are common violations found in food service industry investigations,” said Principal Deputy Wage and Hour Administrator Jessica Looman in the Labor Department’s directive.

Because of that, actions like this directive would ideally serve both as consequence for malpractice and also as a warning to other companies that there indeed are accountability mechanisms for stealing from workers.

Meanwhile, Krispy Kreme denies it did anything wrong at all. “We do not agree with the department’s findings and the basis for them,” Krispy Kreme said to USA Today. “However, we have agreed to settle this matter with no admission of wrong-doing in the best interests of our business and our team members.”

While the amount owed back to each worker varies, the math averages out to about $2,300 per worker. According to court documents obtained by the Winston-Salem Journal, some workers are due upward of $13,000.