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Stephen Colbert calls out Senate GOP ‘cowards’ on day 1 of Trump’s second impeachment trial

Stephen Colbert calls out Senate GOP 'cowards' on day 1 of Trump's second impeachment trial

“Here we go again, again,” Late Show host Stephen Colbert quipped. “I’ve got that real feeling of déjà coup.”

Former president Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial finally got underway on Monday, almost a year after his first impeachment, and Republicans are again trying to shield their darling baby boy from a consequence. While the prosecution presented a video demonstrating that the Jan. 6 insurrection and Trump’s rally were one and the same, numerous Republicans determinedly averted their gaze as though not looking at it meant it didn’t exist.

“You know that they say, gentlemen,” said Colbert. “See no evil, hear no evil, makes you seem really evil.” Read more…

More about Stephen Colbert, Impeachment Trial, Culture, and Politics

Seth Meyers blasts Trump’s ‘criminal’ lack of coronavirus vaccine plan

Seth Meyers blasts Trump's 'criminal' lack of coronavirus vaccine plan

Newly inaugurated President Joe Biden has already reversed some of Donald Trump’s most damaging policies, abolishing the Muslim travel ban and halting construction on the border wall. So of course, as Late Night host Seth Meyers noted Thursday, upset Trump supporters are lashing out — including Republican senator Ted Cruz.

In a shockingly misinformed tweet, Cruz nonsensically accused Biden of being “more interested in the views of the citizens of Paris than the jobs of the citizens of Pittsburgh” because he rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement. To be clear, the Paris Climate Agreement isn’t actually about Parisians. It was named such because it was signed in Paris, and it’s kind of mind-blowing that a U.S. senator would insinuate otherwise. Also, Pittsburgh was in favour of the Paris agreement. Read more…

More about Ted Cruz, Seth Meyers, Culture, and Politics

YouTube removes Trump’s latest video, blocks channel from posting for seven days

YouTube removes Trump's latest video, blocks channel from posting for seven days

It’s been a bad week for President Donald Trump’s socials. First he was unceremoniously dumped by his longtime paramour Twitter. Then Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitch blocked him. Now YouTube has jumped into the fray, banning the president’s channel after it breached the website’s moderation policies.

“After review, and in light of concerns about the ongoing potential for violence, we removed new content uploaded to Donald J. Trump’s channel for violating our policies,” YouTube announced via its official press Twitter on Tuesday. “It now has its 1st strike & is temporarily prevented from uploading new content for a *minimum* of 7 days.” Read more…

More about Youtube, Donald Trump, Tech, Politics, and Big Tech Companies

Stephen Colbert furiously explains why the mob who stormed the U.S. Capitol are ‘terrorists’

Stephen Colbert furiously explains why the mob who stormed the U.S. Capitol are 'terrorists'

“When I saw the events at the Capitol last Wednesday, I was more upset than I can ever remember,” said Late Show host Stephen Colbert on Monday night. “Yeah, [9/11] is the most horrible day in America’s history. But I want to point out: No Americans were cheering for the terrorists back then! No-one was making excuses for the terrorists! No-one was pretending that they weren’t terrorists!”

Last week’s attack on the Capitol was a significant and devastating moment for the United States. Trump supporters’ violent attempt to overturn the election results was one of the strongest threats to America’s democracy yet.  Read more…

More about Stephen Colbert, Coup, Culture, and Politics

Stephen Colbert unpacks the stinking desperation of Trump’s leaked Georgia call

Stephen Colbert unpacks the stinking desperation of Trump's leaked Georgia call

Sadly but unsurprisingly, the start of 2021 has been much like the end of 2020. The coronavirus pandemic is still ravaging the world, thousands of people in the U.S. are still dying, and President Donald Trump is still baselessly insisting he didn’t lose the election as he slowly shrinks and transforms into a corn cob.

“Turns out 2020 is dropping some bonus tracks,” quipped Late Show host Stephen Colbert on Monday.

Kicking off our 2020 redux, the Washington Post published a recording of a phone call in which Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes in his favour — enough to flip the state by a margin of one vote. As Colbert noted, this call was “probably illegal,” with former Department of Justice Inspector General Michael R. Bromwich tweeting as much. Read more…

More about Donald Trump, Stephen Colbert, Culture, and Politics

Trump is ‘shredding American democracy’ with baseless fraud claims, Seth Meyers warns

Trump is 'shredding American democracy' with baseless fraud claims, Seth Meyers warns

“Trump promised for months that this is exactly how he’d react if he lost, and now he’s doing it and shredding American democracy in the process,” said Late Night host Seth Meyers on Wednesday. “If anything, this might be the first time he’s delivering on what he promised.”

The U.S. presidential election was called for President-elect Joe Biden days ago, and President-eject Donald Trump continues to shut his eyes, block his ears, and scream “voter fraud” at the top of his lungs. There’s still no evidence of widespread election fraud yet Republicans are still pushing this story, Meyers noting that this willfully ignorant bullishness bears strikingly similarities to narratives we’ve heard before. Read more…

More about Seth Meyers, Election 2020, Culture, and Politics

Stephen Colbert hammers Republicans for supporting Trump’s delusions of dictatorship

Stephen Colbert hammers Republicans for supporting Trump's delusions of dictatorship

It’s been about 50 billion years since the 2020 U.S. presidential election was called for President-elect Joe Biden, and President Donald Trump is still refusing to concede. It’s an embarrassing state of affairs, made all the worse by Republicans like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continuing to support Trump’s delusions.

On Tuesday, concerningly, Pompeo told journalists that “there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” To be clear, Trump lost the presidential election to Biden. Him remaining in power for a second term would constitute a coup d’état.

“If that was a joke, you just bombed so hard you violated the Geneva Convention,” said Late Show host Stephen Colbert. “You know all those dictators you visited, Mr. Secretary? That wasn’t supposed to be an internship!” Read more…

More about Stephen Colbert, Election 2020, Culture, and Politics

Seth Meyers explains why Republicans are to blame for the Midwest’s delayed election results

Seth Meyers explains why Republicans are to blame for the Midwest's delayed election results

“I spent most of the night clenching so hard I have six pack abs now,” Late Night host Seth Meyers said on Wednesday. 

Election Day in the U.S. has come and gone, but global stress and anxiety has only intensified. Though Democratic candidate Joe Biden is currently leading, President Donald Trump has already made an extremely premature victory declaration and is calling for the ballot counting to stop, stating he intends to take the matter to the Supreme Court

As Meyers explained in a whopping 21-minute Closer Look segment, this is “deeply dangerous authoritarian behavior” that severely undermines America’s democracy. These are not fraudulent votes that Trump wants to discard. They are legitimate votes from registered U.S. voters that were submitted before the voting deadline and just need to be counted. Yet the president is actively fighting to ignore these ballots because they may not be favorable to him. Read more…

More about Seth Meyers, Election 2020, Culture, and Politics

Unhinged Trump supporters harass the Biden campaign bus in viral clip

Unhinged Trump supporters harass the Biden campaign bus in viral clip

When people say Donald Trump is doing his level best to foment violence and unrest, this is what they’re talking about.

The costume-heavy revelry of Halloween Twitter was disrupted on Saturday when an alarming clip surfaced showing what appears to be a caravan of Trump supporters chasing the Biden campaign bus on a highway in Texas. It’s a frightening scene.

In a series of incidents that apparently unfolded on Friday throughout the day, Trump supporters made a dangerous public nuisance of themselves as the Biden campaign progressed through central Texas. At least one event was canceled as a result. Read more…

More about Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Culture, Politics, and Web Culture

Tech for Campaigns, created to get Democrats elected, on the parties’ biggest differences

Yesterday, a 450-page “investigation on competition in digital markets” was published by the House based on 16 months of evidence gathering, including interviews with employees and past employees and others with first-hand knowledge of the inner workings of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple.

The picture it paints is of companies that have abused their power to enrich themselves in ways previously known and unknown based on evidence collected directly from their current and former employees, as well as others with first-hand knowledge of the company’s internal workings. But House Democrats and Republicans disagree on some of the proposed remedies.

It probably doesn’t surprise Jessica Alter, the cofounder of Tech for Campaigns, an organization that was once described as a Democratic Geek Squad owing to its mission to match volunteers from the tech world — engineers, data scientists, product managers, marketing pros — with Democratic campaigns in need of a winning digital strategy.

Alter, who says Tech for Campaigns’s volunteer network now numbers more than 14,000, talked with us late last week about just how different the political parties are fundamentally, likening the Republican National Committee to a “conglomerate,” and the Democrats’s approach as far more decentralized — often to the latter’s disadvantage. Our conversation (which you can hear here) has been edited lightly for length and clarity.

TC: You were previously a tech founder. For those who don’t know you, why start this organization?

JA: I was pretty uninvolved in politics. I was just a typical techie working at early-stage companies, and I’d started one as well. But in 2017, my cofounders and I got very frustrated. I think the crucible moment for me was the first Muslim ban. And given what our skill sets are and who we know, we decided, ‘Let’s just try to look at helping on the tech and digital front.’

We had a hunch that in the 2016 election, Trump sort of wiped the floor with [the Democrats] on tech and digital, and we were more right [about that hunch] than we wanted it to be. We realized pretty quickly that the Democrats are probably 8 to 10 years behind the Republicans. That’s hard for people to believe, and usually people say, ‘But what about Obama? [His campaign] was good at tech and digital.” But all of that was thrown out. I mean that in the most literal sense.

TC: What percentage of donor dollars go to digital advertising?

JA: TV and [snail] mail still really rules the roost. In 2018, as just one example, for all of the media attention that digital advertising gets, only three to five cents went to digital for every donor dollar that was given. Most of the rest went to TV and mail.

On the tech tools and data side, we’re also far behind. Part of the problem is that there really isn’t an organization whose main thrust is to focus on tech and digital. It’s a part of every organization but it’s siloed, and no one really focuses on it, and no one organization is permanently focused on it. That’s the hole that [we’re] filling, and the way that we do that is through our full time team of. about two dozen people and our now more than 14,000 tech and digital volunteers.

TC: Are all of these volunteers finding you? And when they do offer to help, do they have a campaign in mind or do you assign them to whomever needs the help most?

JA: It’s sort of a double-opt-in system that we’ve built, so you sign up, you tell us your hometown, in addition to where you live now and we will try to match on affinity. But we first match on skill set. So we talked to all the campaign and we develop projects with them, and we know if it’s an email project, it needs these skill sets. Then an  email goes out to people with those skill sets.

TC: You’ve suggested that part of why Democrats have fallen so far behind is because of the way their campaigns are structured. Is it different on the Republican side? Do they have a more unified digital operation?

JA: It’s different on the Republican side — and not exclusively about tech and digital — for a couple of reasons. The Republicans in general are a much more centralized organization. When the RNC or [other] leaders say to do things, it trickles down, and people do it. I’m sure a lot of people have heard the saying that Republicans fall in line and Democrats fall in love. There’s nothing that I’ve heard and understood to be more true than that. The Democrats are just much more decentralized, so it’s hard for things to trickle down as much.

The Republicans also started focusing on digital maybe 10 years ago and they operate much more on their donor side like a conglomerate [whereas] the Democrats operate much more like a portfolio [and] there’s not as much cooperation; it’s just that’s it’s just not happening. So [major donors like the] Koch [brothers] and the Mercer [family] not only believed In digital, but there’s a shared infrastructure there. They have, for example, a data exchange that they’ve had for eight years. The Democrats are still building a first version of theirs, and there are two or three versions of a centralized data exchange, which is the opposite of the point of centralization.

TC: Where are you focusing most of your time and energy?

JA: At the state legislative level, which is where Republican fight, too. The elbows are a lot less sharp, so we’ve been able to make inroads there, helping almost 500 campaigns on almost 700 projects over the last three years. But also, the state level campaigns are these concentric circles that overlap between incredibly strategic, incredibly cheap, and incredibly ignored.

State legislatures control basically every major issue that anyone cares about. That includes health care, voting rights, the environment, education, [and] a woman’s right to choose. If Roe v. Wade gets overturned. It’s not that abortion [becomes] illegal; it’s that the states will decide. The state legislatures in most states also control federal redistricting. So if you own the state legislatures, you actually own all those issues.

State legislators are about one 100th of the cost of a federal race, too. It’s just a good ROI decision. People need to understand that Republicans run things like a business, and they make very good ROI-based decisions. I don’t find that to be true with Democrats nearly enough. You have very analytical people who, in their normal lives, are extremely focused on ROI, yet when it comes to politics, they’re just purely emotional. I understand it, but it doesn’t serve the end goal.

TC: This is because they’re decentralized?

JA: We were showing one of our tools to one of the state Democratic parties, and their comment was, ‘Oh, we try to build this every two years.’ When they build [something], they don’t if that’s happening in Maine. They don’t show it to Michigan. It’s not because they don’t like each other. They just don’t talk. And so every two years, your donors are paying to rebuild the same thing. And there isn’t any standard tech or digital training for candidates or their staffers.

When we go into states, we provide that, [and] not in the sense that we’re going to make them gurus of how to run digital ads or data, but so they understand why it’s different and what the power of digital to make them more demanding of whoever they’re working [including paid consultants] on the digital side.

TC: You’re saying it’s chaos out there. You’re giving these campaigns tools and information they didn’t have, but of course, campaigns disband. Is anyone holding on to the tools and information that you’re providing them?

JA: The whole mission of tech for campaigns is to be the permanent tech and digital arm for the Democrats. As you rightly said, campaigns disband every two years and break down completely. Within a week and a half, everyone scatters. So you can’t expect that to change completely. [But we hope to be] this lasting presence in tech and digital that subsists cycle over cycle and in between cycles — to be this permanent presence that can build a real competitive advantage. Because if you break everything down every two years, you’ll never win at tech and digital.

TC: How do you fund your work? Through donations? Grants? Is there a money-making component of this business?

JA: We’re a 527 nonprofit, so we are mostly sustained by donations from individuals and organization. Because of campaign finance, we do sell software that we build, but it’s not going to be a it’s not a big business.

TC: In ‘Silicon Valley,’ politics have become so charged. Are the people who volunteer fearful of revealing their political affiliations in a way that they perhaps weren’t before? Or is the opposite happening?

JA:  I feel like there’s a lot more desire for people to be outspoken in the last few years, even more so than  between 2016 and 2018. Because things have gotten so out of control, people really want a way to channel their frustration and anger and sadness. So we don’t we don’t find that people want to hide it, no.

TC: Some readers are Donald Trump supporters. Some are Biden supporters who might want to help. Is there anything specific you’d want them to know, heading into the election?

JA: First, I’d say, don’t despair. We are we are solving this. [But] it’s not a one-month or even a one-cycle solve, so  get in touch with us about what you can do.

Donald Trump tweets that he and Melania have tested positive for COVID-19

Donald Trump tweets that he and Melania have tested positive for COVID-19

Hours after senior White House adviser Hope Hicks was confirmed to have tested positive for coronavirus, President Trump confirmed via Twitter that he and First Lady Melania Trump are also now among the 7.31 million Americans who have tested positive.

Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2020

Hicks travelled on Air Force One with the president and other senior staff on Wednesday. After news of her positive test broke, Trump suggested without evidence that the virus had been transmitted to Hicks during hugs from law enforcement or military personnel. Read more…

More about Trump Coronavirus, Culture, Health, and Politics

‘The Notorious R.B.G.’ taught a new generation how to dissent with her internet stardom

'The Notorious R.B.G.' taught a new generation how to dissent with her internet stardom

When Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was 80 years old, she became an internet icon. 

A law student started a Tumblr in her honor in 2013, dubbing her “The Notorious R.B.G.” and in the years that followed, she became a meme that lined Etsy sellers’ pockets. As much as her photo was flung around social media, her crowned head was emblazoned on T-shirts, her signature lace collar was reimagined as baby bibs, and she became “our lady of dissent” on votive candles you could buy for $15. Her internet domination both fueled and was fueled by her caricaturing on Saturday Night Live as a spunky old lady who could lift weights and kick ass. She particularly liked a popular T-shirt that read, Read more…

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Twitter flags Republican leader’s video as ‘manipulated’ for altering disabled activist’s words

Twitter flagged an inflammatory video by House Republican Whip Steve Scalise on Sunday for altering footage of a conversation between progressive activist Ady Barkan and Joe Biden. The video is now labeled as “manipulated media” in a tweet from Scalise, though remains online.

The inflammatory video pulls in out-of-context quotes from a number of Democrats and activists, but appears to have crossed a line by altering Barkan’s words from a portion of the conversation about policing reform. Barkan, who has ALS, speaks with an assistive eye-tracking device.

“These are not my words. I have lost my ability to speak, but not my agency or my thoughts,” Barkan tweeted in response, adding “…You owe the entire disability community an apology.”

.@SteveScalise,

These are not my words.

I have lost my ability to speak, but not my agency or my thoughts.

You and your team have doctored my words for your own political gain.

Please remove this video immediately. You owe the entire disability community an apology. https://t.co/N6G5RgMXlO

— Ady Barkan (@AdyBarkan) August 30, 2020

In the video excerpt, taken from a longer conversation about policing and social services, Barkan appears to say “Do we agree that we can redirect some of the funding for police?” In reality, Barkan interrupted Biden during the conversation to ask “Do we agree that we can redirect some of the funding?”

In the video, Barkan’s altered sentence is followed by a dramatic black background stamped with the words “No police. Mob rule. Total chaos. Coming to a town near you?” Those ominous warnings are followed by a logo for Scalise’s reelection campaign.

The addition of the two words, falsely rendered in Barkan’s voice, don’t significantly change the meaning of his question, but the edit still crossed a line. A Twitter spokesperson confirmed that the tweet violated the company’s policy for “synthetic and manipulated media,” though did not specify which part of the video broke the rules.

The synthetic and manipulated media policy states that Twitter “may label Tweets containing synthetic and manipulated media to help people understand their authenticity and to provide additional context.” In the policy, Twitter explains specifically that “new video frames, overdubbed audio” and other edits count as deceptive and significant manipulation.

A 13-year-old with a stutter gave the Democratic convention’s best speech

A 13-year-old with a stutter gave the Democratic convention's best speech

The fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention wrapped up on Thursday night with a speech from now-official nominee Joe Biden, and fireworks in place of a balloon drop. But the most powerful moment of the four-night event came in the form of a two-minute speech from an extraordinary teenager.

Brayden Harrington recounted how he met Biden at a campaign event in New Hampshire earlier this year. 

“He told me that we’re members of the same club: We stutter,” Harrington said. “It was really amazing to hear that someone like me became vice-president. He told me about a book of poems by Yeats he would read out loud to practice. He showed me how he marks his addresses to make them easier to say out loud, so I did the same thing today. And now I’m here talking to you today about the future — about our future.” Read more…

More about Joe Biden, Democratic National Convention, Entertainment, and Politics

Elizabeth Warren hid some inspiring Easter eggs in her Democratic convention speech

Elizabeth Warren hid some inspiring Easter eggs in her Democratic convention speech

Senator Elizabeth Warren might have been one of the last candidates standing in the race for the Democratic nomination this year, but she showed up to support Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in full voice on night three of the Democratic National Convention. 

Warren, a former teacher with “the energy of a mother of five boys who all play a different sport,” delivered her brief address from Square One early childhood education center in Springfield, Massachusetts, and aptly focused on education and childcare. It’s a tough gig knowing you’re one of the opening acts for former president Barack Obama, who’s given an OK speech or two in his time, but Warren’s plainspoken message of practical policy solutions, like universal preschool, was sure to resonate with Americans worn down and worried by pandemic parenting. Read more…

More about Black Lives Matter, Elizabeth Warren, Democratic National Convention, Culture, and Politics

Watch Sarah Cooper and her iconic Trump impression guest host ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’

Watch Sarah Cooper and her iconic Trump impression guest host 'Jimmy Kimmel Live'

2020 has been weird for everybody, but Sarah Cooper, the latest comedian to guest host Jimmy Kimmel Live, has definitely not had a normal one.

“This year has been insane,” she said, before correcting herself: “I’m sorry. That’s offensive. This year has been presidential

“I started this year doing a late night set at a pizza place in Jersey City. Now here I am hosting a late night show in a vacant house. Actually, the number of people in the audience is exactly the same.”

Cooper shot to fame this year thanks to her pitch-perfect, expressive lipsyncing of Trump’s rambling public statements. So as much as she’s clearly not a fan of the president, she has to admit that his unhinged tenure has been good for her, personally, in one specific way. Read more…

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‘He froze like a fifth grader’: Seth Meyers ridicules Trump’s childish chart fail in Axios interview

'He froze like a fifth grader': Seth Meyers ridicules Trump's childish chart fail in Axios interview

Seth Meyers took A Closer Look on Wednesday night at Trump’s disastrous interview with Axios’ Jonathan Swan, in which Swan became a near-instant meme thanks to the looks he gave Trump’s incoherent answers.

“A lot has happened this week as you can probably guess from this face, the face of an actual journalist sitting across from the President of the United States,” began Meyers, accompanied by the now-famous still of Swan’s baffled expression. “You know something has gone horribly wrong when a journalist interviewing the president looks like that. That’s the face you make when your dad gets drunk and decides to tell you about the night you were conceived.” Read more…

More about Late Night With Seth Meyers, Trump Coronavirus, Trump Interview, Culture, and Politics

ICE to foreign students: If you’re just taking online classes, you can’t stay in the U.S.

ICE to foreign students: If you’re just taking online classes, you can’t stay in the U.S.

The coronavirus pandemic has made education hard enough with the abrupt shift to online learning that schools, teachers, and students have had to suddenly make these past few months. Now, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would like to make that move even harder for foreign students.

On Monday, ICE posted an update to its Student and Exchange Visitor Program which disallows foreign students from remaining in the U.S. if they’re enrolled in a college or university that’s planning all online courses for the fall semester. 

Basically, if you’re in the U.S. on a student visa and attending a school with all remote learning, you have two options: You must leave the country or transfer to a school with in-person learning. Any failure to comply will result in deportation.  Read more…

More about Immigration And Customs Enforcement, Coronavirus, Tech, Other, and Politics

One Twitter account is reposting everything Trump tweets. It was suspended within 3 days.

One Twitter account is reposting everything Trump tweets. It was suspended within 3 days.

“This account will tweet what the President tweets,” Twitter account SuspendThePres posted on May 29. “Let’s see if it gets suspended for violating twitters [terms of service].”

Approximately 68 hours later, SuspendThePres was suspended for violating Twitter’s rules against glorifying violence.

This account will tweet what the President tweets. Let’s see if it gets suspended for violating twitters TOS. Follow along with this social experiment. Report any tweets that violate the rules. Thank you.

— Will they suspend me? (@SuspendThePres) May 30, 2020

SuspendThePres began directly copying and reposting U.S. president Donald Trump’s tweets on May 29. Run by a user who also tweets as BizzareLazar, the experiment was prompted by Trump’s recent executive order calling for social media companies’ protections to be reconsidered. Trump issued the order after Twitter applied a fact-check label to two of his tweets. Read more…

More about Twitter, Politics, Donald Trump, Experiment, and Twitter Suspension

Elizabeth Warren put Michael Bloomberg on blast in the debate, and the internet loved it

Elizabeth Warren put Michael Bloomberg on blast in the debate, and the internet loved it

Michael Bloomberg’s bizarre Nega-Trump presidential tilt has produced plenty of mortifying moments so far, from the Meatball Tweet and cringeworthy influencer meta-sponcon to that time he shook a dog’s snoot

But unless this entire campaign is some kind of I’m Not Here style performance art, there’s no way Bloomberg’s strategy team planned for him to get absolutely read for filth by Elizabeth Warren five minutes into Wednesday night’s Democratic debate.

“I’d like to talk about who we’re running against: a billionaire who calls women ‘fat broads’ and ‘horse-faced lesbians,'” Senator Warren began. “And no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump — I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.” Read more…

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Nancy Pelosi steals the show and rips up Trump’s State of the Union speech

Nancy Pelosi steals the show and rips up Trump's State of the Union speech

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made her feelings clear at the conclusion of President Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.

She ripped up a copy of the speech and tossed it aside just as the president concluded his remarks. 

Asked by the press why she ripped up the speech, Pelosi responded with a dig at the president. 

“It was the courteous thing to do considering the alternatives,” she said. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on why she ripped up President Trump’s speech: “Because it was the courteous thing to do considering the alternatives.” pic.twitter.com/nYTjAZAwGo

— Jason Donner (@jason_donner) February 5, 2020 Read more…

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Stephen Colbert takes apart team Trump’s legal arguments ahead of impeachment trial

Stephen Colbert takes apart team Trump's legal arguments ahead of impeachment trial

If having Rudy Giuliani as his personal attorney wasn’t proof enough that Trump’s not getting the best legal advice possible, dwell upon this clip from Monday night’s episode of the Late Show. 

Ahead of the president’s impeachment trial in the Senate, the House managers filed a brief calling Trump’s conduct “the Framers’ worst nightmare.” Team Trump’s response was to end the weekend insisting that “abuse of power” — one of the cited crimes in the articles of impeachment — isn’t, like, technically a real crime or anything, so it’s not impeachable.

“Yes it is!” Late Show host Stephen Colbert exclaims in Monday night’s monologue. “It’s the most powerful job in the world — that’s why abuse of power is the thing that a president is not supposed to do.” Read more…

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Trudeau, Boris, and other NATO leaders caught on video apparently gossiping about Trump

Trudeau, Boris, and other NATO leaders caught on video apparently gossiping about Trump

For anyone whose job is to keep a straight face around Donald Trump, dozens of private conversations such as these must happen every week, and in much stronger language. But to catch world leaders apparently sharing a laugh over the president’s foibles is rare.

This video, from the reporting pool via the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, shows Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, British PM Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Dutch PM Mark Rutte alongside a stiff bouffant appearing to belong to HRH Princess Anne. The group are enjoying a drink and a chat at a Buckingham Palace reception after the day’s formalities at the NATO summit in London.  Read more…

More about Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau, Nato, Culture, and Politics

Trudeau, Boris, and other NATO leaders caught on video apparently gossiping about Trump

Trudeau, Boris, and other NATO leaders caught on video apparently gossiping about Trump

For anyone whose job is to keep a straight face around Donald Trump, dozens of private conversations such as these must happen every week, and in much stronger language. But to catch world leaders apparently sharing a laugh over the president’s foibles is rare.

This video, from the reporting pool via the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, shows Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, British PM Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Dutch PM Mark Rutte alongside a stiff bouffant appearing to belong to HRH Princess Anne. The group are enjoying a drink and a chat at a Buckingham Palace reception after the day’s formalities at the NATO summit in London.  Read more…

More about Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau, Nato, Culture, and Politics

You can totally take a Thanksgiving turkey on a plane, according to Stephen Colbert

You can totally take a Thanksgiving turkey on a plane, according to Stephen Colbert

This week is Thanksgiving in the U.S., a time when families gather together to eat copious amounts of food and silently hate each other, like pre-gaming for Christmas. 

Fortunately for those saddled with the enormous task of cooking a Thanksgiving feast, the host of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert pointed out that they could just start the preparations early and bring the food along on their flight.

“According to the TSA, you can bring your Thanksgiving turkey on an airplane. Just tell them that’s your emotional support meat,” said Colbert. “As for other Thanksgiving foods, pies or cookies are allowed right in your carry-on, gravy and cranberry sauce can go in your checked luggage, and corn pudding can go directly to hell.” Read more…

More about Politics, Thanksgiving, Stephen Colbert, Michael Bloomberg, and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

You can totally take a Thanksgiving turkey on a plane, according to Stephen Colbert

You can totally take a Thanksgiving turkey on a plane, according to Stephen Colbert

This week is Thanksgiving in the U.S., a time when families gather together to eat copious amounts of food and silently hate each other, like pre-gaming for Christmas. 

Fortunately for those saddled with the enormous task of cooking a Thanksgiving feast, the host of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert pointed out that they could just start the preparations early and bring the food along on their flight.

“According to the TSA, you can bring your Thanksgiving turkey on an airplane. Just tell them that’s your emotional support meat,” said Colbert. “As for other Thanksgiving foods, pies or cookies are allowed right in your carry-on, gravy and cranberry sauce can go in your checked luggage, and corn pudding can go directly to hell.” Read more…

More about Politics, Thanksgiving, Stephen Colbert, Michael Bloomberg, and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

Airport buggy spinning in circles is the perfect metaphor for 2019

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If you want to understand what’s going on in Washington D.C. right now, you could read any one of the impeachment explainers going around, or watch snarky wrap-ups by your favorite late-night hosts

Or you could just watch this video of a driverless airport catering cart spinning wildly out of control on the tarmac, endangering everyone around it as they stare in horror, unsure of how exactly to handle this unprecedented disaster in the making.

Dr Kevin Klauer took the video from the departures lounge at O’Hare Airport in Chicago, where he was waiting for a flight (on a different plane to the one pictured) when the commotion out the window caught his eye. Read more…

More about Viral Videos, Airport, O Hare, Culture, and Politics

Cory Booker’s peeved reaction to Beto speaking Spanish at the debate is an instant meme

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Ever felt threatened by someone else’s fancy language skills?

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker seemed to feel just that during the Democratic Debate on Wednesday night, when rival candidate Beto O’Rourke flexed his Spanish skills first.

When Beto was asked if he would support a higher tax rate for top earners, he responded by stating that the economy needed to “work for everyone.” Beto then switched mid-answer to Spanish, and Booker was caught glaring in his wake.

Booker, of course, can also speak SpanishHe made his pitch to voters when he called into Univision’s Despierta América when he announced his candidacy back in February. Read more…

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Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg would also like to ‘Slow Jam the News’

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Pete Buttigieg is hoping to smooth his way to the presidency.

The mayor of South Bend dropped into The Tonight Show on Monday night, where he joined Jimmy Fallon for another edition of “Slow Jam the News,” in which he spent his time talking about his platform and what kind of president he’d aim to be.

Of course, the segment was made famous by Barack Obama, who did the slow jamming thing in the final months of his presidency back in 2016.

Buttigieg didn’t just talk over the sounds of a sleazy-sounding synthesizer, he also spoke to Fallon about his ambitions, and the fact that Trump compared Buttigieg to MAD magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman. Read more…

More about Politics, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Fallon, 2020 Presidential Election, and Pete Buttigieg

Stephen Colbert unpacks Joe Biden’s presidential bid

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After quite a bit of speculation, former Vice-President Joe Biden launched his 2020 presidential run over the weekend.

It got the attention of Stephen Colbert, who spent some time talking about Biden’s campaign video, which talked about Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville — something that the president had to explain again. 

“Trump’s already worried about Joe Biden,” Colbert said. “And the proof of that is that this ad did something none of the other Democrats have been able to do, and that’s put Trump on the defensive.” Read more…

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Stephen Colbert calls the Mueller report conclusion ‘worse than the finale of ‘Lost”

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It was a lengthy, almost two-year wait for the Mueller report to be delivered, and Stephen Colbert thought it was, well, anticlimactic.

In a monologue opening The Late Show on Monday, Colbert said the report’s findings, which found that there was no proof of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia, was “worse than the finale of Lost.”

“What about the smoke monster, was it real or not? And if not, why have so many members of Trump’s campaign plead guilty to lying about meeting with the smoke monster?” Colbert quipped.

“Why couldn’t this have been like the ending of Seinfeld? Still disappointing, but at least they’re all in jail.” Read more…

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This fake Mueller report is the ultimate troll

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We got got. 

Special counsel Robert Mueller delivered his report to the Attorney General on Friday afternoon. The investigation looks into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, but despite calls for transparency from politicians, Americans, and emboldened mothers on social media, the report hasn’t been released to the public yet. 

Another report has been making the rounds, even if it’s not the one Mueller delivered to William Barr. 

Oh man https://t.co/L0UjrhRfC1

— Adam Rawnsley (@arawnsley) March 22, 2019

More about Politics, Memes, Troll, Shrek, and Mueller Investigation

Amazon reportedly nixes its price parity requirement for third-party sellers in the U.S.

Amazon will stop forbidding third-party merchants who list on its e-commerce platform in the United States from selling the same products on other sites for lower prices, reports Axios.

The company’s decision to end its price parity provision comes three months after Sen. Richard Blumenthal urged the Department of Justice to open an antitrust investigation into Amazon’s policies and a few days after Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced she would make breaking up Amazon, Google and Facebook a big part of her campaign platform.

Also called “most favored nation” (MFN) requirements, Amazon’s price parity provisions gave it a competitive edge, but because of its size, also led to concerns about its impact on competition and fair pricing for consumers. Amazon stopped requiring price parity of its European Union sellers in 2013 after it was the subject of investigations by the United Kingdom’s Office of Fair Trading and Germany’s Federal Cartel Office.

In a statement, Blumenthal said Amazon’s “wise and welcome decision comes only after aggressive advocacy and attention that compelled Amazon to abandon its abusive contract clause.” He added that “I remain deeply troubled that federal regulators responsible for cracking down on anti-competitive practices seem asleep at the wheel, at great cost to American innovation and consumers.”

TechCrunch has contacted Amazon for comment.

Stephen Colbert steps up his Trump impression after CPAC speech

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Stephen Colbert has already laid into Trump’s “epically weird” CPAC speech.

But there was one moment that the late show host had to talk about again: Trump’s admonishing of the people investigating him during his speech on Saturday.

And by talk, we mean totally mock the president with a new, weird impression that’s better if you just watch it (at 2:40). Colbert also tore into Trump’s press conference on Tuesday, where he answered questions about the investigations.

“It’s just so sad when his heart’s not in it, you know,” Colbert quipped. “He’s like an aging singer doing his 16th show of the week in Branson to a half-empty room.” Read more…

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Seth Meyers breaks down Trump’s attacks on Democrats running for president

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As Democrats begin to nominate for the 2020 presidential election, it’s beginning to get the attention of Donald Trump.

The president fired off a tweet in response to Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s announcement in Minnesota on Sunday, making fun of her bid to fight global warming, as snow piled on her.

That got the attention of Seth Meyers on his segment “A Closer Look” on Monday, who broke down Trump’s attacks on Dems who are running for president. In Klobuchar’s case, Meyers pointed out the president’s misguided global warming comment.

“Why do we have to keep explaining to the president of the United States that weather and climate are two different things?” Meyers asked. Read more…

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Donald Trump Jr. shared a meme about women and it backfired spectacularly

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Donald Trump Jr. might want to hold off sharing Twitter memes for a bit while he recovers from the internet dragging him.

Following the State of the Union, the president’s son decided to tweet a meme about the Democratic women of Congress on Wednesday, who wore suffragette white to the address to make a powerful visual statement.

Trump Jr. tweeted the meme — a photo of the women with the words “NOT ONE AMERICAN FLAG AMONG THEM” across it — to his 3.3 million followers on Wednesday, adding, “Speaks for itself and no one is at all surprised.”

Speaks for itself and no one is at all surprisedpic.twitter.com/kLoJzMmY10

— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 6, 2019 Read more…

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FDA boss threatens ‘game over’ for e-cigs if companies won’t keep kids away

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The head of the Food and Drug Administration has threatened to pull e-cigarettes out of U.S. markets entirely unless e-cig makers take greater measures to curb the youth’s use of their products. 

Speaking at a public hearing Friday, Scott Gottlieb, the FDA Commissioner, said he was “horrified” at the surge in rates of teen vaping, NBC reported. More than 3 million U.S. teens use e-cigarettes, an increase of 78 percent since 2011, according to recent CDC data.

“I still believe e-cigarettes present an opportunity for adult smokers to transition off cigarettes and onto nicotine delivery products that may not have the same level of risks,” Gottlieb wrote in a tweet ahead of the hearing. “However, if the youth use continues to rise, the entire category will face an existential threat.” Read more…

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President Bolsonaro should boost Brazil’s entrepreneurial ecosystem

Romero Rodrigues
Contributor

Romero Rodrigues is a managing partner at Redpoint eVentures, the Brazilian-focused arm of the Silicon Valley venture firm Redpoint.

In late October following a significant victory for Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s presidential elections, the stock market for Latin America’s largest country shot up. Financial markets reacted favorably to the news because Bolsonaro, a free-market proponent, promises to deliver broad economic reforms, fight corruption and work to reshape Brazil through a pro-business agenda. While some have dubbed him as a far-right “Trump of the Tropics” against a backdrop of many Brazilians feeling that government has failed them, the business outlook is extremely positive.

When President-elect Bolsonaro appointed Santander executive Roberto Campos as new head of Brazil’s central bank in mid-November, Brazil’s stock market cheered again with Sao Paulo’s Bovespa stocks surging as much as 2.65 percent on the day news was announced. According to Reuters, “analysts said Bolsonaro, a former army captain and lawmaker who has admitted to having scant knowledge of economics, was assembling an experienced economic team to implement his plans to slash government spending, simplify Brazil’s complex tax system and sell off state-run companies.”

Admittedly, there are some challenges as well. Most notably, pension-system reform tops the list of priorities to get on the right track quickly. A costly pension system is increasing the country’s debt and contributed to Brazil losing its investment-grade credit rating in 2015. According to the new administration, Brazil’s domestic product could grow by 3.5 percent during 2019 if Congress approves pension reform soon. The other issue that’s cropped up to tarnish the glow of Bolsonaro coming into power are suspect payments made to his son that are being examined by COAF, the financial crimes unit.

While the jury is still out on Bolsonaro’s impact on Brazilian society at large after being portrayed as the Brazilian Trump by the opposition party, he’s come across as less authoritarian during his first days in office. Since the election, his tone is calmer and he’s repeatedly said that he plans to govern for all Brazilians, not just those who voted for him. In his first speech as president, he invited his wife to speak first which has never happened before.

Still, according to The New York Times, “some Brazilians remain deeply divided on the new president, a former army captain who has hailed the country’s military dictators and made disparaging remarks about women and minority groups.”

Others have expressed concern about his environment impact with the “an assault on environmental and Amazon protections” through an executive order within hours of taking office earlier this week. However, some major press outlets have been more upbeat: “With his mix of market-friendly economic policies and social conservativism at home, Mr. Bolsonaro plans to align Brazil more closely with developed nations and particularly the U.S.,” according to the Wall Street Journal this week.

Based on his publicly stated plans, here’s why President Bolsonaro will be good for business and how his administration will help build an even stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem in Brazil:

Bolsonaro’s Ministerial Reform

President Temer leaves office with 29 government ministries. President Bolsonaro plans to reduce the number of ministries to 22, which will reduce spending and make the government smaller and run more efficiently. We expect to see more modern technology implemented to eliminate bureaucratic red tape and government inefficiencies.

Importantly, this will open up more partnerships and contracting of tech startups’ solutions. Government contacts for new technology will be used across nearly all the ministries including mobility, transportation, health, finance, management and legal administration – which will have a positive financial impact especially for the rich and booming SaaS market players in Brazil.

Government Company Privatization

Of Brazil’s 418 government-controlled companies, there are 138 of them on the federal level that could be privatized. In comparison to Brazil’s 418, Chile has 25 government-controlled companies, the U.S. has 12, Australia and Japan each have eight, and Switzerland has four. Together, Brazil-owned companies employ more than 800,000 people today, including about 500,000 federal employees. Some of the largest ones include petroleum company Petrobras, electric utilities company EletrobrasBanco do Brasil, Latin America’s largest bank in terms of its assets, and Caixa Economica Federal, the largest 100 percent government-owned financial institution in Latin America.

The process of privatizing companies is known to be cumbersome and inefficient, and the transformation from political appointments to professional management will surge the need for better management tools, especially for enterprise SaaS solutions.

STEAM Education to Boost Brazil’s Tech Talent

Based on Bolsonaro’s original plan to move the oversight of university and post-graduate education from the Education Ministry to the Science and Technology Ministry, it’s clear the new presidential administration is favoring more STEAM courses that are focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics.

Previous administrations threw further support behind humanities-focused education programs. Similar STEAM-focused higher education systems from countries such as Singapore and South Korea have helped to generate a bigger pipeline of qualified engineers and technical talent badly needed by Brazilian startups and larger companies doing business in the country. The additional tech talent boost in the country will help Brazil better compete on the global stage.

The Chicago Boys’ “Super” Ministry

The merger of the Ministry of Economy with the Treasury, Planning and Industry and Foreign Trade and Services ministries will create a super ministry to be run by Dr. Paulo Guedes and his team of Chicago Boys. Trained at the Department of Economics in the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger, the Chicago Boys are a group of prominent Chilean economists who are credited with transforming Chile into Latin America’s best performing economies and one of the world’s most business-friendly jurisdictions. Joaquim Levi, the recently appointed chief of BNDES (Brazilian Development Bank), is also a Chicago Boy and a strong believer in venture capital and startups.

Previously, Guedes was a general partner in Bozano Investimentos, a pioneering private equity firm, before accepting the invitation to take the helm of the world’s eighth-largest economy in Brazil. To have a team of economists who deeply understand the importance of rapid-growth companies is good news for Brazil’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. This group of 30,000 startup companies are responsible for 50 percent of the job openings in Brazil and they’re growing far faster than the country’s GDP.

Bolsonaro’s Pro-Business Cabinet Appointments

President Bolsonaro has appointed a majority of technical experts to be part of his new cabinet. Eight of them have strong technology backgrounds, and this deeper knowledge of the tech sector will better inform decisions and open the way to more funding for innovation.

One of those appointments, Sergio Moro, is the federal judge for the anti-corruption initiative knows as “Operation Car Wash.” With Moro’s nomination to Chief of the Justice Department and his anticipated fight against corruption could generate economic growth and help reduce unemployment in the country. Bolsonaro’s cabinet is also expected to simplify the crazy and overwhelming tax system. More than 40 different taxes could be whittled down to a dozen, making it easier for entrepreneurs to launch new companies.

In general terms, Brazil and Latin America have long suffered from deep inefficiencies. With Bolsonaro’s administration, there’s new promise that there will be an increase in long-term infrastructure investments, reforms to reduce corruption and bureaucratic red tape, and enthusiasm and support for startup investments in entrepreneurs who will lead the country’s fastest-growing companies and make significant technology advancements to “lift all boats.”

Jimmy Kimmel on the Sarah Sanders doctored video: ‘She should be fired for that’

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The doctored video of the interaction between CNN’s Jim Acosta and a White House intern, which was posted by the Trump administration and originated from Infowars, hardly pleased many of us, including Jimmy Kimmel.

“She should be forced to resign for that,” Kimmel said on Thursday. “She intentionally disseminated doctored video footage to discredit a reputable journalist … Sarah Huckabee Sanders should be fired and sent to live in a JOANN’s Fabrics store.”

Also in the line of fire was Kellyanne Conway, who also took the side of the intern. It’s “so ridiculous,” in fact, that Kimmel decided to take his qualms straight to Conway herself. Read more…

More about Politics, Trump, Jimmy Kimmel, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Entertainment

Trump administration sues California over its brand-new net neutrality law

The Department of Justice announced on Sunday that it has filed a lawsuit against California to block its new net neutrality law, just hours after it was signed by governor Jerry Brown. The lawsuit was first reported by the Washington Post. Senior Justice Department officials told the newspaper it is filing the lawsuit because only the federal government can regulate net neutrality and that the Federal Communications Commission had been granted that authority by Congress to ensure states don’t write conflicting legislation.

In its announcement, the Justice Department stated that by signing California’s Senate Bill 822 into law, the state is “attempting to subvert the Federal Government’s deregulatory approach by imposing burdensome state regulations on the free Internet, which is unlawful and anti-consumer.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said “under the Constitution, states do not regulate interstate commerce—the federal government does. Once again the California legislature has enacted an extreme and illegal state law attempting to frustrate federal policy. The Justice Department should not have to spend valuable time and resources to file this suit today, but we have a duty to defend the prerogatives of the federal government and protect our Constitutional order.”

This is the latest of several legal showdowns between the Trump administration and California, the largest blue state.

Under Attorney General Sessions, the Justice Department has already filed separate lawsuits against California over immigrant sanctuary laws and a law meant to stop the Trump administration from selling or transferring federal land to private corporations. The Trump administration is also clashing with the state over environmental protection regulations.

Senate Bill 822 was introduced by Democratic Senator Scott Wiener to reinstate Obama-era net neutrality protections tossed out by the FCC last year.

Even though Washington and Oregon have also passed their own net neutrality laws, the outcome of the federal government’s battle with California will have ramifications throughout the country because the state’s new net neutrality law is the most stringent one so far, banning most kinds of zero-rating, which allows telecoms to offer services from certain providers for free.

As such, it has been the target of fierce lobbying by telecoms like AT&T and Comcast. While the FCC’s chairman Ajit Pai and telecoms argue that zero-rating allows them to offer better deals (Pai claimed in the Justice Department’s statement today that they have proven popular “especially among lower-income Americans,”) net neutrality advocates say it gives Internet service providers too much power by forcing users to rely on certain services, stifling consumer options and freedom of information.

Kanye West’s comments about the 13th Amendment are confusing and bad

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Oh no.

Kanye West took to social media on Sunday to tell everyone that he supports the messages of Donald Trump while wearing a MAGA hat. In the same tweet, he wrote that he wants to abolish the 13th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America — the one that abolished slavery.

this represents good and America becoming whole again.  We will no longer outsource to other countries. We build factories here in America and create jobs.  We will provide jobs for all who are free from prisons as we abolish the 13th amendment. Message sent with love pic.twitter.com/a15WqI8zgu

— ye (@kanyewest) September 30, 2018 Read more…

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Google denies Trump’s claim that it did not promote his State of the Union address

Google is pushing back against a claim by Donald Trump that the search engine stopped promoting State of the Union livestreams on its homepage after his presidency began. Trump’s claim came in the from of a tweeted video, which was still pinned to the top of his profile when this post was published at 9:30 PM PST, Aug. 29, 2018, after Google’s refutation and multiple media reports of its inaccuracy.

Hashtagged #stopthebias, the video appears to show that Google did not display links to livestreams of Trump’s first public speech to a joint session of Congress on February 28, 2017 or his first State of the Union on January 30, 2018, despite promoting Obama’s State of the Union addresses in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

#StopTheBias pic.twitter.com/xqz599iQZw

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2018

Google, however, says it did indeed highlight Trump’s first State of the Union in 2018, but that it usually does not include links on its homepage to a president’s first public address to Congress, so neither Obama nor Trump’s were featured. In a statement sent to BuzzFeed News, the company said “On January 30, 2018, we highlighted the livestream of President Trump’s State of the Union on the google.com homepage. We have historically not promoted the first address to Congress by a new President, which is technically not a State of the Union address. As a result, we didn’t include a promotion on google.com for this address in either 2009 or 2017.”

Google statement to @JohnPaczkowski on Trump’s tweet pic.twitter.com/1w82mQqApg

— Jon Passantino (@passantino) August 29, 2018

The video shared by Trump does not make a distinction between a president’s first public speech to a joint session of Congress and his first State of the Union address.

A discrepancy in Google’s logo also suggests that at least one of the screenshots, which appear to have been taken from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, was doctored. A Gizmodo commenter notes that one of the screenshots in the video Trump tweeted, from January 12, 2016, shows a version with the previous Google logo, not the sans-serif version introduced in September 2015, which can be seen in a Wayback Archive’s screen capture from January 10, 2016 and other days from that month when a Google Doodle wasn’t featured.

Capture from the video tweeted from President Trump’s account

One of Wayback Machine’s captures on January 10, 2016

Furthermore, while a link to Trump’s State of the Union does not appear on archived versions of Google’s homepage from January 30, 2018, it does show up on a capture from 1AM on January 31, as Twitter user @WrockBro notes. That may be because the Wayback Machine uses Greenwich Mean Time time stamps.

Not only that, but also this: https://t.co/RfJIKpYGJX

🅱en🛸JPL (@WrockBro) August 30, 2018

The Wayback Machine capture linked by Twitter user @WrockBro

Trump’s tweet is the part of his current onslaught against Google, other tech companies and mainstream media, which he accuses of having a liberal bias and burying news about his administration. It is worth pointing out, however, that Trump’s 2017 first speech to Congress was widely praised as “presidential” by journalists across the political spectrum, even liberal publications. In turn, they were ridiculed by critics for being awed by a president acting presidential.

Twitter suspends more accounts for “engaging in coordinated manipulation”

Following last week’s suspension of 284 accounts for “engaging in coordinated manipulation,” Twitter announced today that it’s kicked an additional 486 accounts off the platform for the same reason, bringing the total to 770 accounts.

While many of the accounts removed last week appeared to originate from Iran, Twitter said this time that about 100 of the latest batch to be suspended claimed to be in the United States. Many of these were less than a year old and shared “divisive commentary.” These 100 accounts tweeted a total of 867 times and had 1,268 followers between them.

Since our initial suspensions last Tuesday, we have continued our investigation, further building our understanding of these networks. In addition, we suspended an additional 486 accounts for violating the policies outlined last week. This brings the total suspended to 770.

— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) August 27, 2018

As examples of the “divisive commentary” tweeted, Twitter shared screenshots from several suspended accounts that showed anti-Trump rhetoric, counter to the conservative narrative that the platform unfairly targets Republican accounts.

Fewer than 100 of the 770 suspended accounts claimed to be located in the U.S. and many of these were sharing divisive social commentary. On average, these 100 Tweeted 867 times, were followed by 1, 268 accounts, and were less than a year old. Examples below. pic.twitter.com/LQhbvFjxSo

— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) August 27, 2018

Twitter also said that the suspended accounts included one advertiser that spent $30 on Twitter ads last year, but added those ads did not target the U.S. and that the billing address was outside of Iran.

“As with prior investigations, we are committed to engaging with other companies and relevant law enforcement entities. Our goal is to assist investigations into these activities and where possible, we will provide the public with transparency and context on our efforts,” Twitter said on its Safety account.

After years of accusations that it doesn’t enforce its own policies about bullying, bots and other abuses, Twitter has taken a much harder line on problematic accounts in the past few months. Despite stalling user growth, especially in the United States, Twitter has been aggressively suspending accounts, including ones that were created by users to evade prior suspensions.

Twitter announced a drop of one million monthly users in the second quarter, causing investors to panic even though it posted a $100 million profit. In its earnings call, Twitter said that its efforts don’t impact user numbers because many of the “tens of millions” of removed accounts were too new or had been inactive for more than a month and were therefore not counted in active user numbers. The company did admit, however, that it’s anti-spam measures had caused it to lose three million monthly active users.

Whatever its impact on user numbers, Twitter’s anti-abuse measures may help it save face during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on September 5. Executives from Twitter, Facebook and Google are expected to be grilled by Sen. Mark Warner and other politicians about the use of their platforms by other countries to influence U.S. politics.

Finally, a climate change ad specifically for Trump

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It’s no secret that Donald Trump is clueless about climate change.

Given the soaring summer heat in many parts of the globe, including the Arctic Circle, it’s about time the president pay attention. It’s a tricky task, but Jimmy Kimmel might have the solution by creating an ad that puts those issues into terms that Trump can understand.

After all, it’s true that golf courses and fast food supplies will be affected as extreme heat and droughts cause havoc. He wouldn’t want to ruin his handicap. Read more…

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Apple removes podcasts from InfoWars’ Alex Jones on iTunes

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Apple has taken a strong stand on InfoWars founder Alex Jones.

According to BuzzFeed, five InfoWars podcasts including War Room and The Alex Jones Show were removed from the iTunes and Podcasts directory, leaving only RealNews with David Knight available on the platform.

An Apple spokesperson confirmed to the news outlet it had taken down some of InfoWars’ podcasts. 

The spokesperson added the company “does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users.”  Read more…

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Spotify bans some Alex Jones episodes, but some say it’s not enough

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Facebook and YouTube hit far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones with minor bans over the last week. Now YouTube has joined the fray. 

The streaming service said it removed some, but not all, of the The Alex Jones Show, citing violations of its hateful content policy.

“We take reports of hate content seriously and review any podcast episode or song that is flagged by our community,” a Spotify spokesperson told Recode in a statement.

“Spotify can confirm it has removed specific episodes of ‘The Alex Jones Show’ podcast for violating our hate content policy.” Read more…

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Trump gets rude welcome in UK thanks to giant crop circle

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A massive crop circle that will troll Trump as he flies over the United Kingdom isn’t the work of aliens, but it’s definitely sending a message.

The crop circle on Moat Farm in Stoke Mandeville says “блядь” in Russian, with “Trump” directly beneath it. The Russian word directly translates to “whore.” It’s also used as an exclamation, much like shit and damn. In this context, it probably translates to “Fuck Trump,” possibly a jab at the president’s chumminess toward Russian president Vladimir Putin. The circle is directly under Trump’s flight path from London to Chequers, where Trump will visit Prime Minister Theresa May on FridayRead more…

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Jimmy Fallon on Trump’s tweet: ‘Shouldn’t he have more important things to do?’

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For the most part, Jimmy Fallon has tried to avoid being political on The Tonight Show. But he can’t avoid it when the politics come to him. 

Following a tweet by Trump which told the late night show host to “be a man,” Fallon responded to the furore in the opening monologue of his show on Monday night.

“When I saw that Trump had insulted me on Twitter, I was going to tweet back immediately, but I had more important things to do,” Fallon joked. “Then I thought, wait, shouldn’t he have more important things to do? What are you doing? You’re the president. Why are you tweeting at me?”

Of course, Fallon isn’t the only late night show host that’s been in Trump’s firing line. Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert also received scorn from the president at a rally on Monday. Read more…

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Samantha Bee apologizes for Ivanka Trump insult, and for it being a distraction

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Following a week of outrage, Samantha Bee opened Wednesday’s episode of Full Frontal by again apologizing for calling Ivanka Trump a “feckless cunt.”

The comment came from last week’s episode, when Bee criticized Ivanka Trump for not doing anything against her father’s immigration policies that are pulling migrant families apart.

“I hate that this distracted from more important issues,” Bee said in her opening monologue. “I should’ve known that a potty-mouthed insult would be inherently more interesting to [the media] than juvenile immigration policy.”

“I would do anything to help those kids. I hate that this distracted from them, so to them I am also sorry.” Read more…

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Twitter will give political candidates a special badge during US midterm elections

Ahead of 2018 U.S. midterm elections, Twitter is taking a visible step to combat the spread of misinformation on its famously chaotic platform. In a blog post this week, the company explained how it would be adding “election labels” to the profiles of candidates running for political office.

“Twitter has become the first place voters go to seek accurate information, resources, and breaking news from journalists, political candidates, and elected officials,” the company wrote in its announcement. “We understand the significance of this responsibility and our teams are building new ways for people who use Twitter to identify original sources and authentic information.”

These labels feature a small government building icon and text identifying the position a candidate is running for and the state or district where the race is taking place. The label information included in the profile will also appear elsewhere on Twitter, even when tweets are embedded off-site.

The labels will start popping up after May 30 and will apply to candidates in state governor races as well as those campaigning for a seat in the Senate or the House of Representatives.

Twitter will partner with nonpartisan political nonprofit Ballotpedia to create the candidate labels. In a statement announcing its partnership, Ballotpedia explains how that process will work:

Ballotpedia covers all candidates in every upcoming election occurring within the 100 most-populated cities in the U.S., plus all federal and statewide elections, including ballot measures. After each state primary, Ballotpedia will provide Twitter with information on gubernatorial and Congressional candidates who will appear on the November ballot. After receiving consent from each candidate, Twitter will apply the labels to each candidate profile.

The decision to create a dedicated process to verify political profiles is a step in the right direction for Twitter. With major social platforms still in upheaval over revelations around foreign misinformation campaigns during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Twitter and Facebook need to take decisive action now if they intend to inoculate their users against a repeat threat in 2018.