The Daily Valet. - 6/18/24, Tuesday

Tuesday, June 18th Edition
Cory Ohlendorf  
By Cory Ohlendorf, Valet. Editor
We will be off tomorrow for Juneteenth, so let's talk about it.

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Today’s Big Story

Juneteenth Is Tomorrow


America’s “second Independence Day”


It’s America’s newest federal holiday. Like most federal holidays, you can expect your local banks and nonessential federal offices to be closed in observance of Juneteenth. That goes for the post office, too, so make sure you plan ahead if you need anything.

The celebration of Black history and freedom went relatively unnoticed by mainstream America for years. It rose in prominence following the sweeping protests against racial injustice in the summer of 2020, when dozens of corporations moved to give their employees the day off. In 2021, Congress designated it a federal holiday—the first to be approved since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.

The holiday gets its name from June 19, 1865. That’s the day the Union army arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce that all enslaved African Americans in the state were free in accordance with President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The state was the last in the Confederacy to receive word that the Civil War was over and that slavery had been abolished, and the last where the federal Army established its authority.

According to CNN, what began as an informal celebration of freedom by locals in Galveston eventually grew into a wider commemoration of the end of slavery as African Americans in Texas moved to other parts of the country. Today, many African Americans mark Juneteenth with parties, parades and gatherings with family and friends.

In recent years, more and more communities have begun holding Juneteenth events. Of course, some parents might feel hesitant to explain the holiday to their children because it involves the discussion of sensitive topics like race and slavery. But Juneteenth holds great significance, like a lot of other national holidays celebrated in the United States. And there are ways to make talking about it a little easier.

The National Park Service has declared Juneteenth a park-wide free entry day.

Biden to Give Legal Protections to Undocumented Spouses


Program could offer work permits, deportation protections and open a path to citizenship

President Biden is expected to announce a new immigration program today that would provide a path to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who are married to U.S. citizens, according to lawmakers and others familiar with the matter.

According to the Washington Post, the policy shift is a bold move for the Democratic president months before the November elections, and a rebuke to congressional Republicans who have ignored his calls to expand border security and to create a path to citizenship for the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living and working in the United States. The program has the potential to benefit immigrants who have been living in the country at least a decade, offering them work permits, deportation protections—and a route for them to apply for green cards, which is the pathway to citizenship.

Marrying an American citizen generally provides a pathway to U.S. citizenship. But people who crossed the southern border illegally—rather than arriving in the country with a visa—must return to their home countries to complete the process for a green card. That means long separations from their spouses and families. The new program would allow families to remain in the country while they pursue legal status.

Biden will detail the policy at the White House while marking the 12-year anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.


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Zyn Halts Online Sales Nationwide


Sales were suspended after the company received a subpoena over banned flavors

The maker of Zyn nicotine pouches suspended nationwide sales on its U.S. website as local officials in Washington, D.C. investigate the company’s compliance with the district’s ban on the sale of flavored products. According to NBC News, D.C. banned the sale of all flavored tobacco back in October 2022—including flavored synthetic nicotine products.

Philip Morris bought Swedish Match in a $16 billion deal in 2022 as the company looked to reduce its reliance on cigarettes amid stricter regulations, and it’s proven to be a savvy deal. The company has clearly benefited from strong demand for its Zyn nicotine pouches in the U.S. (which do not contain tobacco). In its first quarter results, reported in April, shipments of Zyn nicotine pouches grew nearly 80% compared with a year ago. However, sales on Zyn’s website represent a “very small percentage of nationwide volumes,” the company added on Monday.

The pouches have also gotten a recent boost after being touted as an affordable and readily-available alternative to in-demand weightloss drugs like Ozempic.

Maker Philip Morris expects shortage to last until year-end, as the brand’s lone U.S. factory tries to meet surging demand.

McDonald’s Scraps Drive-Thu Chatbots


Companies have touted AI as future of the industry, but it might be too soon

If your local McDonald’s has been getting your order confidently wrong with an AI chatbot at the drive-thru, I have good news for you: The company is ending the program for now. The company told franchisees that it’s winding down an AI drive-thru ordering partnership with IBM, the trade publication Restaurant Business reports.

The fast-food giant was betting on AI as a way to simplify and expedite the drive-thru experience. Although McDonald’s told CNBC in 2021 that the AOT program was accurate about 85% of the time, a series of viral videos showed customers struggling to order without the help of a human. In one video, the system placed an order for nine drinks instead of the one drink a customer had requested.

Still, the company said it plans to continue exploring AI ordering. The Verge says one potential option could involve the company’s vague announcement of a Google deal in December. Bloomberg reported that the deal was partly for a chatbot named “Ask Pickles” that employees could use for guidance on things like cleaning ice cream machines. Even so, Google partnered with Wendy’s, which started testing drive-thru AI based on its tech last year and has since expanded that trial.

The upside to inflation? Over 60% of Americans are buying less fast food because it’s just too expensive, survey finds.


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What We’re Buying


A duffle bag


As we head into the warmest months of summer, you'll probably want to stock up on some of L.L.Bean's versatile, lightweight and adventure-ready staples. From nylon shorts and textured tees to slip-on shoes and rugged travel bags, the sale section is bursting with deals. But they won't last long. Pick up some quality discounted items that will last you a lifetime.

Our Pick:
Adventure Pro duffle bag, $139.99 / $109.99 by L.L.Bean

Morning Motto

Let go of fear.


Have a 'what if it all works out' type of year.




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