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LAPD Launches Inquiry After Job Ad Appears on Breitbart

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  • Twitter users called out the Los Angeles Police Department after the editor of The Daily Beast noted that it had displayed a job recruitment ad on Breitbart. 
  • The LAPD said that it was opening an inquiry into the matter, as Breitbart does not align with its core values. 
  • Officials added that the LAPD did not choose to run an ad on Breitbart specifically, but instead runs ads via Google.
  • The department has suspended its Google Ad placements while they review the situation.

LAPD Ad Appears on Breitbart

The Los Angeles Department is suspending advertising via Google after opening an inquiry into how a recruitment ad ended up on Breitbart. 

On Friday, The Daily Beast’s Editor in Cheif Noah Shachtman posted a screenshot of an LAPD ad that read, “Choose your future, LAPD is hiring,” which appeared on Breitbart’s site. 

His tweet prompted many others to question why the LAPD was advertising on the site. Breitbart, a far-right website founded by ex-Trump strategist Steve Bannon, has run into advertising controversies in the past. When Bannon was tapped to work in the White House in 2016, many accused the site of promoting hate speech, along with publishing racist and sexist content. Brands like Kellogg’s and Allstate then pulled advertisements from the site. 

In 2017, more companies followed. According to a Washington Post report, the site lost 90% of its advertisers between the months of March and May. By August, almost 2,600 advertisers left the site. 

LAPD Responds

The LAPD issued a statement saying it was looking into the matter. While it did not name Breitbart explicitly, the department did share the thread they wrote in a direct response to Schachtman’s tweet. The LAPD said the website “creates a negative juxtaposition to our core values.”

On Saturday, Police Cheif Michel Moore said the department did not purchase the ad space directly. He said officials were investigating the potential of it being a “spoof/other effort to discredit LAPD.”

Breitbart spokeswoman Elizabeth Moore gave a statement to The Los Angeles Times claiming that it is “one of the most pro-police, pro-law-enforcement news organizations in America.”

“We have been cited by the New York Times Magazine as having one of the most diverse news rooms in the nation, with a history of promoting women and minorities into leadership positions,” she added. “We also know we have strong readership among the rank-and-file in the LAPD.”

Results of Google Advertisements

A spokesman for the Los Angeles City Personnel Department, Bruce Whidden, also spoke to the Times about how the ads may have wound up at Breitbart. He said that the LAPD purchases ads via Google, but is now reexamining their filters. Many companies who use platforms like Google to run ads do not know where their ads end up. 

“We have suspended all Google ad placements while we review and make sure that they are going to the places we want them to go to,” Whidden told the Times. “We had no intention of having an ad placed on that site.”

As for why Google put an LAPD ad on Breitbart, assistant professor of computer science at Virginia Tech, Bert Huang told the New York Times it could have been more or less of an algorithmic fluke.

“It might just be that Breitbart had some keywords on their home page that matched what the LAPD has requested their ad to appear in,” Huang explained. “In that scenario, through no direct intent from the L.A.P.D., it could have been inevitably matched.”

Google spokesperson Alex Krasov also spoke to The New York Times, adding that advertisers to have some ability to control where their content ends up. She said that advertisers can “exclude specific websites or entire topics from their campaigns.”

“Google has policies for where ads in the network can appear and it gives advertisers additional controls over where their ads show,” Krasov added.

Still, some criticized Google for allowing ads of any kind to appear on Breitbart. Sleeping Giants, an online activism platform that has been incredibly vocal about its fight against Breitbart, questioned Google in several tweets.

“When will @GoogleAds finally enforce their Terms of Service on Breitbart’s inflammatory content?” Sleeping Giants asked. 

See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (New York Times) (Fox 11 Los Angeles)

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Florida Cracks Down on “Vaccine Tourism”

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  • Florida is now requiring that people show proof of either full-time or part-time residency in the state in order to get vaccinated against COVID-19. 
  • The state has been hit with “vaccine tourism” as many people, predominantly wealthy individuals, fly to the state from other parts of the U.S. and abroad just to get the shot. 
  • So far, nearly 41,000 of the 1.3 million doses administered in Florida went to out-of-staters, though it is unclear if all those people were tourists or if this figure includes some part-time residents.

Florida Requires Proof of Residency

Florida is cracking down on “vaccine tourism” and requiring that people show proof of either full-time or part-time residency in the state in order to get a COVID-19 shot.

Previously the state was allowing anyone 65 and older, including non-residents, to get the vaccine. This resulted in people flying to the Sunshine State from across the U.S. and abroad just for the purpose of receiving it. 

According to state data, nearly 41,000 of the 1.3 million doses Florida has administered have gone to out-of-staters. It is unclear if all these out-of-staters are tourists or if this figure includes some part-time residents. 

Now, people must show a form of identification like a driver’s license or mortgage payment to receive it. Exceptions will be made for healthcare workers. 

Vaccine Supply Continues to Be Limited

Wealthy people in particular were quick to schedule travel plans to Florida for this reason. According to the Wall Street Journal, there was an influx of Canadians booking private jets to Florida. Some were looking to book flights there and back on the same day, leaving just enough time for them to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. 

Meanwhile, people in Florida and across the country are waiting in long lines and struggling to book appointments on glitching websites to get their shots. Vaccine supply continues to be incredibly limited and not everyone in high-risk groups have received them.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said this rule is not made to impact snowbirds, people who live in Florida during the winter to escape cold weather up north. 

“They go to doctors here or whatever, that’s fine, DeSantis said, according to CNN. “What we don’t want is tourists, foreigners. We want to put seniors first, but we obviously want to put people that live here first in line.”

See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (CNN) (Travel + Leisure)

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Amanda Gorman Wows the Nation With “The Hill We Climb”

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  • Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, impressed the nation when she read “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration, making her the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history.
  • Gorman’s said the Jan. 6 attack on the nation’s Capitol inspired her to focus on a message of hope, community, and healing in her poem.
  • Big names like Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper, Barack Obama, and Lin-Manuel Miranda have all praised her work.

Amanda Gorman Becomes Youngest Inaugural Poet

Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman wowed the nation on Wednesday as she spoke of healing, unity, hope, and what it means to be American while reading her poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

At 22-years-old Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she was the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles in 2014 at the age of 16. She then became the first national youth poet laureate in 2017. 

Now, her books are topping Amazon’s Best Sellers list and they are not even scheduled to be released until the fall.

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden became a fan of Gorman after watching her give a reading at the Library of Congress. She then suggested that Gorman be a part of the ceremony. 

“Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped That even as we tired, we tried,” Gorman recited during inauguration. “That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division.”

Like President Biden, Gorman has struggled with a speech impediment and has been open about her experience overcoming it. She actually used poetry as a tool to correct it. First, she used it as a way of expressing herself without having to speak. Then she used it to bring her poems to life.

“Once I arrived at the point in my life in high school, where I said, ‘you know what? Writing my poems on the page isn’t enough for me,” she told CBS News. “I have to give them breath, and life, I have to perform them as I am.’ That was the moment that I was able to grow past my speech impediment.”

What Inspired “The Hill We Climb”

Gorman said the inaugural committee gave her freedom and flexibility when it came to choosing what to write about. She was well on her way before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Those events then influenced her writing. 

“It energized me even more to believe that much more firmly in a message of hope, community and healing. I felt like that was the type of poem that I needed to write and it was the type of poem that the country and the world needed to hear,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.  

That message came across clearly and the insurrection was depicted in part of “The Hill We Climb.”

“It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy and this effort very nearly succeeded,” she said. “But while democracy can be periodically delayed it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future history has its eyes on us.”

Nation Impressed by Gorman

“Wow…Wow, I just, wow you’re awesome,” Cooper said when closing his interview with her. “I am so transfixed.” 

Lin-Manuel Miranda also cheered Gorman on. “The Hill We Climb” notably references a line of scripture that appears in a “Hamilton” song. Gorman also said she used to sing the song “Aaron Burr, Sir” to help her say her R sounds and correct her speech impediment. 

“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise!” Oprah Winfrey wrote. “Brava Brava Amanda Gorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I.”

Winfrey also gave Gorman a ring with a caged bird on it—a reference to the famous Angelou poem— which Gorman wore during the inauguration. 

Actor Mark Ruffalo joined the onslaught of praise, saying that her words will lead the nation. 

Former President Barack Obama echoed that idea as well, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Gorman promised to run for president one day. 

See what others are saying: (CBS News) (New York Times) (Los Angeles Times)

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SAT Drops Subject Tests and Optional Essay Section

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  • The College Board will discontinue SAT subject tests effective immediately and will scrap the optional essay section in June. 
  • The organization cited the coronavirus pandemic as part of the reason for accelerating these changes.
  • Regarding subject tests, the College Board said the other half of the decision rested on the fact that Advanced Placement tests are now more accessible to low-income students and students of color, making subject tests unnecessary. 
  • It also said it plans to launch a digital version of the SAT in the near future, despite failing to implement such a plan last year after a previous announcement.

College Board Ends Subject Tests and Optional Essay

College Board announced Tuesday that it will scrap the SAT’s optional essay section, as well as subject tests.

Officials at the organization cited the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the reason for these changes, saying is has “accelerated a process already underway at the College Board to simplify our work and reduce demands on students.”

The decision was also made in part because Advanced Placement tests, which College Board also administers, are now available to more low-income students and students of color. Thus, College Board has said this makes SAT subject tests unnecessary. 

While subject tests will be phased out for international students, they have been discontinued effective immediately in the U.S. 

Regarding the optional essay, College Board said high school students are now able to express their writing skills in a variety of ways, a factor which has made the essay section less necessary.

With several exceptions, it will be discontinued in June.

The Board Will Implement an Online SAT Test

In its announcement, College Board also said it plans to launch a revised version of the SAT that’s aimed at making it “more flexible” and “streamlined” for students to take the test online.

In April 2020, College Board announced it would be launching a digital SAT test in the fall if schools didn’t reopen. The College Board then backtracked on its plans for a digital test in June, before many schools even decided they would remain closed.

According to College Board, technological challenges led to the decision to postpone that plan.

For now, no other details about the current plan have been released, though more are expected to be revealed in April. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (The New York Times)

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