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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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College Board Changes AP African American Studies After Backlash From DeSantis Amid Education Culture War

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As requested by DeSantis, the College Board removed lessons on contemporary topics including Black Lives Matter, queer studies, and reparations.


College Board Rolls Out Curriculum

The College Board, which oversees Advanced Placement high school courses, announced an official curriculum framework for its new, landmark Advanced Placement African American studies on Wednesday.

The announcement, made on the first day of Black History Month, has faced scrutiny for seeming to scale back a number of relevant subjects that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and other state education officials had criticized.

In January, DeSantis said that the new course would be banned in Florida unless changes were made, arguing that a draft version of the course was “woke.” 

Education officials claimed that the class, which had been in the making for nearly a decade, violated a recent state law dubbed the Stop WOKE Act. The legislation regulates public school instruction on race by banning critical race theory and any education that describes some groups as oppressed and others as privileged based on race or sex.

Democrats denounced DeSantis’ action as a political stunt and urged the College Board to maintain its principles.

According to reports, many historical topics like slavery largely remain intact from the previous draft. However, important contemporary issues like Black Lives Matter, affirmative action, queer studies, reparations, and intersectionality — all of which Florida leaders objected to — were removed from curriculum requirements and are no longer part of the AP exam.

Instead, those areas of study have been downgraded to be part of a list of options students can pursue for a mandatory research project. The College Board also added a new research project idea to that list that will certainly please the right: “Black conservatism.”

It has additionally been reported that the organization pulled names of multiple Black authors the state education officials had flagged as problematic, including many famous and pioneering Black scholars who wrote about critical race theory, the queer experience, and Black feminism. 

The College Board defended itself against criticism in a press release announcing the changes, claiming that the process of developing the framework “has operated independently from political pressure.”

DeSantis’ Ongoing Culture War

DeSantis’ attempts to influence the national curriculum of an AP course are just his latest in a much broader effort to control what is and is not taught in public schools.

Just one day before the College Board announced the revised course, the governor outlined what The New York Times described as “his most aggressive swing yet at the education establishment.”

Specifically, he proposed a massive overhaul to higher education in the state that would defund and eliminate diversity and equity programs, mandate courses on Western civilization, and reduce tenure protections that are essential to ensure professors have freedom of expression.

Furthermore, the effects of another law DeSantis signed last year are now just beginning to materialize. The policy, which went into effect this July, requires every school book to be age-appropriate, “free of pornography,” and “suited to student needs.” 

To follow those guidelines, school books have to be approved by a certified media specialist who has undergone specific training.

Notably, the law also states that teachers can be charged with third-degree felonies if they “knowingly or unknowingly” give students access to a book that the specialists say is harmful — meaning that they could face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Last month, the state education department clarified that the rule does not just apply to school libraries, but also to any books a teacher keeps in their classroom too. 

Multiple outlets reported this week that records they obtained show at least two school districts have now directed teachers to either remove their books or hide them until review to avoid the possibility of going to jail.

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

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Biden Announces Plan to End COVID Emergency in May

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The decision would drastically change the government’s long-standing pandemic response and shift Americans’ access to COVID-related services.


Emergency Declarations at an End

In a statement Monday, The White House announced that it would be ending the COVID national emergency and public health emergency declarations on May 11.

The move will entirely restructure the federal government’s response to the pandemic to treat it as endemic and upend policies that have been in place for the last three years. Although more than 500 people in the U.S. are still dying from COVID on average each day — which is around two times the number of daily deaths during a bad flu season — life has largely returned to normal.

Most Americans are vaccinated, and even President Joe Biden himself said the pandemic was “over” back in September. The new announcement comes in part as a response to resolutions Republicans brought to the House floor last week that would end the declarations immediately.

“An abrupt end to the emergency declarations would create wide-ranging chaos and uncertainty throughout the health care system — for states, for hospitals and doctors’ offices, and, most importantly, for tens of millions of Americans,” the White House argued.

Lapses in Coverage and Care

Federal officials decided that a phase-out would make more sense because the U.S. has come to rely on several systems and benefits under the emergencies.

One of the most significant changes that will have the biggest impact on Americans in their day-to-day lives is access to COVID tests, treatments, and vaccines that have been free throughout the pandemic.

Once the emergencies end, a very complex wave of changes will take place that differs from person to person depending on their insurance — or lack thereof — and even possibly what state they live in.

Currently, people with private health insurance or Medicare coverage have been allowed eight free COVID tests a month and insurers had to cover those tests, even if they were administered out of network.

Once the emergency ends, some Americans will have to pay out of pocket, as well as for antiviral COVID treatments like Paxlovid. 

Notably, it has been reported that vaccines will still be included for all those people covered by both private and public insurance. That, however, may not be the case for those without insurance — a group that is also more likely to be the most affected by rising costs for tests and treatments.

Jen Kates, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told The Washington Post that when the emergency declarations end, states that opted to provide Medicaid coverage for tests, treatments, and shots will lose the federal funds that matched costs at 100%.

“To me, that’s the biggest issue for the general public to think about,” she said. “The uninsured and underinsured have no guaranteed access to covid vaccines, tests or treatments.”

When it comes to vaccines, those costs could be significant. Moderna and Pfizer have both said they might charge as much as $130 per dose of vaccine once the federal government stops paying and the shots are transitioned to the private market. That figure is nearly quadruple what federal offices have paid for the doses.

The shift to the private market could happen fairly soon, especially because Republicans have refused Biden’s request that they put billions of dollars towards additional free COVID testing and shots to extend those efforts.

There could also be a spike in the number of uninsured or underinsured Americans because the $1.7 trillion spending bill passed last year ends a rule that banned states from kicking people off Medicaid, leaving millions at risk of losing coverage.

Other Possible Outcomes

Ending the declarations could also set up a battle around immigration because the Biden administration has said the move will bring an end to Title 42 — the Trump-era public health measure that placed restrictions on border crossings and other migrant policies.

Biden has previously tried to cut the program, but the Supreme Court kept it in place. House Republicans rejected the White House’s claim that the program would be terminated, arguing it is not tied to the public health emergency.

Beyond that, the termination of the declarations would require health providers to make numerous adjustments because many of the flexibilities they were allowed in a number of areas would be cut. 

As a result, the administration says a phase-out of those policies over the next few months is necessary, arguing that hospitals and nursing homes “will be plunged into chaos” if they are cut immediately. House Republicans, however, are insistent on moving forward their legislation that would do just that, though the Democratic-controlled Senate could block their proposals.

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

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Conservatives are Mad at “Woke” Xbox for Minor Climate-Related Updates

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The fury comes after Xbox announced it was slightly altering existing consoles to better utilize and save energy.


Same War, New Battlefield

Mere days after M&M canceled their “spokescandies” due to backlash from the right, led largely by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, conservatives have found a new front for their ongoing culture war: Xbox.

Carlson spent months complaining that small character redesigns were “woke” because they made the animated anthropomorphized M&M’s — in his own words — “less sexy.” His campaign finally proved successful on Monday when the company announced it would be doing away with the spokescandies and replacing them with actress Maya Rudolph.

Conservatives, now facing a sudden dearth of non-issues to complain about, quickly found a new issue to rage against. Xbox announced in a blog post earlier this month that it is making minor updates to lower its environmental impact as part of an effort to reach Microsoft’s goal of being carbon-negative by 2030.

Now, instead of having an Xbox wake up to update games, apps, and software during random times of the night, it will do that at a time of night when a user’s local energy grid is generating the most power it can from renewable sources. 

Xbox also said it would automatically update some older consoles to a power-saving mode that aims to reduce electricity consumption when it is turned off — a feature that is already the default on newer consoles.

According to The Verge, the only difference for users is that an Xbox in power-saving mode takes around 15 seconds to boot up instead of doing so immediately as the console does in “sleep” mode. The change is a small price to pay for what the outlet described as “significant” energy savings.

Xbox Under Fire

To many leading conservative voices, the minimal shifts were just another example of “woke” culture. 

While discussing M&M’s spokescandies Tuesday morning, “Fox and Friends” co-host Ainsley Earhardt brought up Xbox’s new changes with Fox radio host Jimmy Failla.

“So Xbox has also announced that they’re going woke too, you know, because of climate change,” Earhardt said.

“I mean, it’s crazy what they’re doing, but we understand what this is. It’s not that it’s actually going to offset emissions, okay — the level of reduction is infinitesimal,”  Failla claimed, without evidence. “But they’re trying to recruit your kids into climate politics at an earlier age; make them climate conscious now.”

“Yeah, I didn’t think of that — you’re right, they’re going after the children,” Earhardt agreed, despite the fact that internal data from Microsoft shows just around 10% of Xbox owners are under the age of 18.

Other prominent conservatives also did their part to bait Americans into anger on social media, including America’s Foundation, which posted a tweet stating that “the woke brigade is after video games.”

The post linked an article from the right-wing website TheBlaze, which asserted that “Xbox will force gamers to power down to fight climate change.”  That, however, is false — Xbox has said users can switch back and change the settings any time they want

Still, top lawmakers continued to share the article and spread its false claims, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.).

“First gas stoves, then your coffee, now they’re gunning for your Xbox,” he wrote in the post, which was flagged by Twitter and given an “added context” warning.

The same warning, however, was not placed in a very similar post by Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Tx.), who also shared the article.

“They want to take your guns. They want to take your gas stoves. And now they want to take your Xbox. What’s next?” he wrote.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Daily Beast) (VICE)

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