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Facebook Removes Trump Campaign Ads Featuring Nazi Symbol

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  • On Thursday, Facebook removed Trump campaign advertisements for featuring an upside-down, red triangle—a symbol associated with Nazi concentration camps.
  • The ads claimed the symbol is associated with the far-left organization antifa, which Trump has said he wants to label as a terrorist organization. 
  • However, that symbol is not commonly associated with antifa.
  • The same day, Twitter flagged one of President Trump’s tweets as “manipulated media” for including altered footage of a fake CNN clip featuring a Black child running away from a white one.

The Red Triangle Symbol

Facebook removed advertisements on Thursday posted by the Trump campaign for featuring a symbol used by Nazis in concentration camps during World War II.

The symbol, a red triangle, was historically used to classify Communists and other political prisoners. In Trump’s ads, that same imagery was used against antifa, a far-left movement that Trump has blamed for recent looting during protests against racial injustice and a group he has said he wants to label as a terrorist organization. 

“Dangerous MOBS of far-left groups are running through our streets and causing absolute mayhem,” the post said. “They are DESTROYING our cities and rioting—it’s absolute madness.”

“Please add your name IMMEDIATELY to stand with your President and his decision to declare ANTIFA a Terrorist Organization,” the post adds.

Currently, there is little to no evidence to suggest that antifa organizations were involved in the riots that have occurred during recent protests across the country.

By the time they were taken down, 88 ads featuring the inverted red triangle had already garnered nearly a million total views since first being posted on Wednesday. Also prior to them being removed, many took to Twitter and other social media sites to criticize the president and his team for using the symbol. 

“The President of the United States is campaigning for reelection using a Nazi concentration camp symbol,” Jewish activist organization Bend the Arc: Jewish Action said on Wednesday. “Nazis used the red triangle to mark political prisoners and people who rescued Jews. Trump & the RNC are using it to smear millions of protestors. Their masks are off.”

Later that same day, Facebook said it was removing the posts because they violated its policy against organized hate. 

“Our policy prohibits using a banned hate group’s symbol to identify political prisoners without the context that condemns or discusses the symbol,” the company said. 

While Facebook has removed Trump campaign ads in the past for various other infractions, it has refused to police Trump’s direct posts. Earlier this month, numerous employees staged a walkout over the policy, which has been consistently defended by CEO Mark Zuckerberg. 

Though the ad featuring the red triangle has been removed, others with the same text about antifa are still being featured on Facebook. 

Trump Team Defends the Ads With Unsupported Claims

Following Facebook’s actions, Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s communications director, defended the use of the symbol in the ads. 

“The red triangle is a common Antifa symbol used in an ad about Antifa,” he wrote in an email. “Pretty straightforward.”

However, antifa is more commonly associated with a symbol that depicts two flags, one red and one black, enclosed in a circle.

Murtaugh also said that the red triangle does not appear on the list of hate symbols provided by the Anti-Defamation League; however, he said it does exist as an emoji and is sold online on common objects like phone cases. According to Murtaugh, sellers describe that symbol as “anti-fascist red triangles.”

But Murtaugh’s statements about the Anti-Defamation League are misleading. For example, the Jewish non-governmental organization has said that its database of hate symbols does not keep track of historical symbols such as those used by Nazi Germany. In fact, it’s said that it only tracks symbols that are currently being used by modern extremists and white supremacists in the United States. 

“Whether aware of the history or meaning, for the Trump campaign to use a symbol—one which is practically identical to that used by the Nazi regime to classify political prisoners in concentration camps—to attack his opponents is offensive and deeply troubling,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, told The New York Times. “It is not difficult for one to criticize their political opponent without using Nazi-era imagery. We implore the Trump campaign to take greater caution and familiarize themselves with the historical context before doing so.”

The Trump team has also faced criticism from the Auschwitz Museum, which noted that the red triangle was, by far, the most commonly used symbol for categorizing prisoners at concentration camps.

Twitter Adds “Manipulated Media” Tag to Trump Tweet

Unlike Facebook, Twitter has begun regularly policing Trump’s statements. On Thursday, that continued when it added a “manipulated media” tag to another one of his tweets. 

That tweet features a video of two toddlers, one Black and one white. The clip is edited to make it seem like the Black child is running away from the white one. The video was further altered by overlaying dramatic music and making it appear to be a clip from CNN, with a chyron screen at the bottom reading, “Terrified todler runs from racist baby.”

The video then continues by showing “what actually happened.” In it, the children can be seen running to each other and hugging. Notably, this portion of the clip is overlaid by the song, “(They Long to Be) Close to You.”

In reality, CNN never even aired that clip at all. In fact, that clip is several years old. 

Twitter added the warning as part of a policy to flag media that “have been deceptively altered or fabricated” in order to trick people or cause harm. 

In late May, Twitter first took action against Trump after he falsely claimed that increased access to mail-in voting will lead to extensive voter fraud. The next day, Trump issued an executive order targeting a 1996 statute that, among other things, allows Big Tech companies to remove content they find “objectionable,” all without any legal ramifications. 

The day after that, however, Twitter continued to censor Trump’s tweets, this time placing a warning over a post where he said, “…when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” 

While the tweet is still visible, it has been marked for “glorifying violence” and cannot be liked or retweeted without comments.

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

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China Imposes Retaliatory Sanctions on US Officials Over Xinjiang Criticisms

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  • The U.S. imposed sanctions on Chinese officials last week over the treatment of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region.
  • The decision was the latest escalation during a time of heightened tensions between the two nations over policies in Hong Kong, the trade war, and questions about sovereignty in the South China Sea, among other matters.
  • In response, China announced retaliatory sanctions against U.S. officials, including Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
  • However, what exactly the Chinese sanctions will do is currently unclear as officials haven’t given specifics yet.

Sanctions and Counter Sanctions

Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) were sanctioned by China on Monday over their involvement in criticizing the nation’s actions in Xinjiang. Two other American officials faced sanctions as well for interfering in “China’s internal affairs,” as characterized by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The Chinese sanctions were in retaliation over earlier sanctions the U.S. placed on Chinese officials last Thursday. The U.S. was able to do this following the passage of the Uighur Human Rights Policy Act last month. That law allows the U.S. to place sanctions, in line with the Global Magnitsky Act, on officials who are involved in the ongoing repression of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang.

When the law was passed in mid-June, China warned that if the U.S. actually imposed any sanctions they would do the same in retaliation. after Thursday’s announcement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry stated, “We urge the US to immediately rescind its wrong decision and stop making any remarks or moves that interfere in China’s internal affairs and undermine China’s interests. The Chinese side will firmly fight back if the US obstinately pursues such agenda.”

Zhao Lijian, Spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry speaking to reporters about US-imposed Sanctions. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China)

Despite China’s threat, the U.S. imposed sanctions on certain Chinese officials and organizations involved in Xinjiang on July 9. The sanctions include freezing the assets these officials hold in the U.S., as well as restricting the ability of the officials and their immediate family members’ to enter the U.S.

In a statement on July 9, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote, “The United States will not stand idly by as the CCP carries out human rights abuses targeting Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, and members of other minority groups in Xinjiang, to include forced labor, arbitrary mass detention, and forced population control, and attempts to erase their culture and Muslim faith.”

Out of the four named individuals in the sanctions, one stands out: Chen Quanguo. Chen is the Communist Party secretary for Xinjiang and part of the Politburo and the highest-ranking Chinese official to ever be sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act. He first received infamy for his actions while doing the same job in Tibet from 2011-2016.

The Treasury Department named three other individuals who would have their assets frozen for helping Chen set up the surveillance and detention families in Xinjiang.

Additionally, the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau (XPSB) was also sanctioned by the Treasury Department, and the State Department added that officials who worked with the XPSB were also liable to have themselves and their families denied entry into the U.S.

When speaking about the sanctions, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said, “The United States is committed to using the full breadth of its financial powers to hold human rights abusers accountable in Xinjiang and across the world.”

Tit-for-Tat Hostilities

However, these sanctions will likely end up being largely symbolic because these officials don’t travel to the U.S. in the first place. It’s also believed that their assets aren’t based in America but in China.

Even as a symbolic act, it still made China upset. On Monday, the country imposed its own sanctions against the four U.S. officials in retaliation, including the aforementioned Senators Cruz and Rubio.

Cruz was likely placed on this list for his work as part of the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China. Two other officials part of that committee were also named, including Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), and Sam Brownback, a lawyer who also serves as the US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom.,

Rubio was likely named over his co-sponsorship of the Uighur Human Rights Policy Act. Interestingly though, China avoided issuing sanctions on the other co-sponsor, Sen. Robert Menedez (D-NJ).

As far as what these sanctions will actually do, that’s a little unclear. So far, China hasn’t given any specifics as to what the penalties would be.

These recent sanctions are just the next step in ongoing tit-for-tats between the two countries. There’s an ongoing trade war, tensions over how Hong Kong is being treated by the mainland Chinese, issues over the sovereignty of the South China Sea, and major problems with how the Chinese are treating ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region.

The problems in Xinjiang are so bad, that there are pundits and experts calling it a cultural genocide.

Even outside of the US, China has increasingly been pressured to change course over Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

See what others are saying: (NBC News) (Al Jazeera) (NPR)

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San Francisco Lawmaker Proposes CAREN Act to Make False, Racist 911 Calls Illegal

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  • San Francisco City Supervisor Shamann Walton introduced an ordinance this week called the CAREN Act, which would make false, racially discriminatory 911 calls illegal.
  • The acronym stands for Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies. It is named after “Karens,” a nickname for white women who throw unwarranted fits in public.
  • These fits often appear racially motivated and have led to “Karens” calling the police on people of color.
  • California Assemblyman Rob Bonta has also introduced a similar piece of legislation that would outlaw these calls throughout the state.

Why the “CAREN” Act?

A lawmaker in San Francisco has introduced an ordinance that would outlaw making false, racially discriminatory 911 calls, dubbed the CAREN Act.

City Supervisor Shamann Walton introduced the ordinance. In a tweet announcing the act on Tuesday, he called racist 911 calls “unacceptable.”

The CAREN Act stands for Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies, but its name bears much more weight. A “Karen” is an Internet nickname for white women whose privilege and entitlement leads to loud complaints, threats of legal action, calling supervisors, and often, calling the police. The unjustified outrage of Karens has been documented in countless viral incidents, and in many cases, they show a clear prejudice against people of color. 

One video that went viral in May has been pointed to as a prime example of this. In that clip, Amy Cooper, a white woman in New York, called the police on a Black man named Christian Cooper. Both were in Central park at the time when the man asked her to put her dog on a leash, as she was required to do in that area.

However, that confrontation escalated when she desperately told a 911 operator that she was being threatened when she was not. Many felt her instinct to weaponize her white privilege and make a false claim could have had serious consequences considering the fact that Black Americans are more likely to face police brutality and die in police custody. She has since been charged with filing a false report after much public outrage.

While videos of this nature have often gone viral, this incident came at a cultural tipping point. Not long after it made its way across the Internet, another story received national attention: a video of George Floyd being killed by police officers in Minneapolis. This sparked a movement of people confronting systemic racism and police brutality, and since then, more “Karen” videos have spread online in an effort to hold people accountable for their racist behavior.

What the Ordinance Does

While filing a false police report is already illegal, Walton is pushing for more to be done to stop people from calling the authorities on people of color for no real reason. The CAREN Act would make it illegal to fabricate a report based on racial and other kinds of discrimination. 

“Within the last month and a half in the Bay Area, an individual called the police on a Black man who was dancing and exercising on the street in his Alameda neighborhood and a couple called the police on a Filipino man stenciling ‘Black Lives Matter’ in chalk in front of his own residence in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights,” he said in a statement. 

This is not the only proposal of its kind. California Assemblyman Rob Bonta has introduced a similar ordinance. His proposed legislation, AB 1150, would make state that “discriminatory 911 calls qualify as a hate crime, and further establish civil liability for the person who discriminatorily called 911.”

“AB 1550, when amended, will impose serious consequences on those who make 911 calls that are motivated by hate and bigotry; actions that inherently cause harm and pain to others,” Bonta said in a statement. “This bill is incredibly important to upholding our values and ensuring the safety of all Californians.”

See what others are saying: (SFist) (The Hill) (CNN)

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Catholic Church Granted at Least $1.4 Billion in PPP Loans

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  • An analysis from the Associated Press found that the Catholic Church received at least between $1.4 and $3.5 billion in federal coronavirus relief aid.
  • The report identified 3,500 loans the Church received from the Paycheck Protection Program, but leaders have previously stated that as many as 9,000 bodies of the Church received funding.
  • However, government data only shared who received loans over $150,000. Smaller churches that received under that amount were not on the list, meaning the Catholic Church could have collected even more than records show.
  • Usually, religious groups would not be eligible for funding from the Small Business Administration, but the Church allegedly spent a good chunk of money lobbying so that there would be an exception for the PPP.

Catholic Church Receives Billions in PPP Funds

The Catholic Church received between $1.4 and $3.5 billion in federal coronavirus relief aid, according to a Friday analysis from the Associated Press.

While houses of worship and religious organizations are usually ineligible for federal aid from the Small Business Administration, an exception was made for the Paycheck Protection Program, which was designed to keep American businesses afloat as the pandemic shut the country down.

The AP found records of 3,500 forgivable loans for Catholic dioceses, parishes, schools, and other ministries. That number, however, is likely higher.

The Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference has claimed that 9,000 Catholic bodies received loans. Government data only shared loans over $150,000, so smaller churches who got less were not on the list, meaning the Church may have pocketed even more than $3.5 billion. 

“The government grants special dispensation, and that creates a kind of structural favoritism,” Micah Schwartzman, a University of Virginia law professor told the AP. “And that favoritism was worth billions of dollars.”

According to the AP, the Archdiocese of New York received $28 million just for executive offices. St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City received $1 million. Diocesan officials in Orange County, California received four loans worth $3 million. The AP’s analysis suggests that the Catholic Church and its entities were able to retain 407,900 jobs with this loan money.

“These loans are an essential lifeline to help faith-based organizations to stay afloat and continue serving those in need during this crisis,” spokesperson Chieko Noguchi told the AP.

How Did the Church Get Aid?

Like many businesses throughout the country, churches had to shut their doors as large gatherings became unsafe as the coronavirus’ spread continued. Masses were canceled or moved online and celebrations for the Easter holidays were dropped, causing the Church to to fall behind financially. 

While its global net worth is not known, the Catholic Church is considered the wealthiest religious organization in the world. It is also one of the most powerful groups of any kind, with an estimated 1.2 billion followers all over the planet. According to the AP, its deep pockets and far-reaching influence helped it receive federal aid. 

The Catholic Church lobbied heavily to make sure religious groups were allowed to receive money from the PPP, the AP says. Their report found that the Los Angeles archdiocese spent $20,000 lobbying Congress to include “eligibility for non-profits” in the CARES Act, the legislation that formed the PPP. Records also show that Catholic Charities USA spent another $30,000 in CARES Act lobbying.

With its wealth and power, the Catholic Church is also plagued with controversy and scandal. For years, there have been reports that the Church has covered up for priests and other leaders who have been accused of sexual abuse. Many entities of the church have had to shell out large sums of money in legal fees and settlements. 

The AP found that around 40 of the dioceses that have paid out “hundreds of millions of dollars” to related compensation funds or bankruptcy proceedings received loans. These loans totaled at least $200 million.

See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (Business Insider) (Market Watch)

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