The Buzz: Tariffs, bitcoin miners, Facebook and more

A smart-alecky look at the week’s news.

  • Saturday, April 7, 2018 1:30am
  • Opinion

By Jon Bauer and Mark Carlson

Herald staff

Top off your cup of coffee and let’s revisit the week that buzzed:

Col. Mustard in the conservatory with the candlestick: President Trump and China exchanged volleys of trade tariff threats all last week, including $100 billion in additional tariffs against China. Most of the tariffs have yet to take effect, but talk of a trade war has sent financial markets on a roller-coaster and driven down prices for American agricultural products.

Those of us with 401(k)s and the nation’s farmers would like to suggest Trump and China’s leaders, rather than bluffing with tariff threats, consider a game of Clue or Monopoly, even.

And Obama isn’t even around to take their guns: Gun sales soared last month with more than 2.7 million background checks for firearms, the highest March number since the FBI began releasing the data in 1998. Following a slump in gun sales after President Trump’s election, protests over recent school shootings and demands for stricter gun laws have prompted a surge in “fear-based buying.”

Also expected later this year, a surge in “fear-based voting” on behalf of public school students, church members, theater goers and the general public.

We don’t really understand it either: Chelan County’s PUD is cracking down on unauthorized “bitcoin-mining” operations, which use computer servers to work out elaborate algorithms in exchange for the cryptocurrency, resulting in excessive use of electrical power. One Wenatchee apartment’s energy use jumped from a typical 500 kilowatt hours to more than 11,000.

Electricity use like that can mean only one of two things: Bitcoin mining or a teenager with a hairdryer.

And in other news: Sinclair Broadcasting, which owns nearly 200 stations nationwide — including KOMO-TV in Seattle — is under fire for requiring local anchors to record and broadcast a commentary that echos President Trump’s attacks on “fake news.” A viral video shows anchors reading the statement in unison.

Really, this is nothing new. Local TV stations have been reading news prepared for them by others for decades. It’s just that it’s usually what’s in that day’s local newspapers.

A big beautiful cookie-duster: Wrongly asserting that a horde of migrants is coming to take advantage of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, President Donald Trump says he will send the National Guard to the border with Mexico.

If Trump’s immigration hysteria continues to rise, he’ll send John Bolton south to lay his impenetrable moustache along the border.

Don’t you forget about me: Facebook, still stinging from a privacy scandal and other troubles, is polling its users, asking if they think Facebook is “good for the world.” Possible choices range from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.”

Users are also being asked: “You still love me, don’t you? I mean, I’m not a bad guy. I just need to know that I’m the only one for you. If you left me, I’m not sure what I would do. I can’t be responsible for my actions if you quit me. It’s just that I care so much about you. Don’t you care about me?”

Hold the phone: The Department of Homeland Security says it has detected the unauthorized use of electronic surveillance of people’s cellphones in the nation’s capital. The device, known as a StingRay, simulates cell towers and has been used with some controversy by law enforcement to locate individuals and eavesdrop on calls. But this time the federal agency doesn’t know who’s using the device.

Wait a minute. Zuckerberg!

Biting the hand that feeds him: The Trump administration on Friday slapped new sanctions against seven Russian oligarchs and cronies of President Vladimir Putin, as well as 12 companies and 17 senior Russian government officials.

President Trump, who has been reluctant to criticize the Putin regime, signed off on the sanctions, but did try to soften the blow by slipping in some 2-for-1 drink coupons at Mar-a-Lago.

Don’t know much about history: On April 4, 1818, Congress decided the flag of the United States would consist of 13 red and white stripes and 20 stars, with a new star to be added for every new state of the union.

And after every 10 stars, you could turn in your old flag for a free coffee at Dutch Bros.

And on April 8, 1820, the Venus de Milo statue was discovered by a farmer on the Greek island of Milos.

“Take it,” said the farmer regarding the famous statue. “I was going to use it as a scarecrow, but it’s useless without arms.”

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