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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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Ohio Will Give 5 People $1 Million for Getting Vaccinated

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  • Ohio is launching a lottery program that will give five people ages 18 or older $1 million each if they receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Five vaccinated people between 12 and 17 years old will win full four-year scholarships to one of the state’s public universities under a similar giveaway program. 
  • Some have criticized the move as a waste and misuse of federal coronavirus relief funds, but others applauded it as a strong effort to boost slumping vaccination rates.
  • Gov. Mike DeWine (R) addressed critics on Twitter, writing, “The real waste at this point in the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it — is a life lost to COVID-19.”

Ohio Announces Vaccine Lottery

Several states and cities across the country have been rolling out different incentives to help boost COVID-19 vaccination rates. Some are offering $100 savings bonds, $50 prepaid cards, and even free alcohol, but Ohio’s Republican Gov. Mike DeWine took it a step further Wednesday, saying that five people in his state will each win $1 million for getting vaccinated.

DeWine said that the lottery program, named “Ohio Vax-a-Million,” will be open to residents 18 and older who receive at least one dose. Drawings start May 26 and winners will be pulled from the state’s voter registration database.

The Ohio Lottery will conduct the drawings, but the money will come from existing federal coronavirus relief funds.

Younger people will also have a chance to win something. That’s because DeWine said five vaccinated people between 12 and 17 years old will be eligible to win a full four-year scholarship to one of the state’s public universities under a similar lottery program. The portal to sign up for that opens May 18.

DeWine Defends Lottery

Reactions to the giveaway have been mixed. Some echoed statements from State Rep. Emilia Sykes, the top House Democrat, who said, “Using millions of dollars in relief funds in a drawing is a grave misuse of money that could be going to respond to this ongoing crisis.”

DeWine, however, seems to have anticipated pushback like this.

“I know that some may say, ‘DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money,'” he tweeted. “But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic — when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it — is a life lost to COVID-19.”

Despite some backlash, a ton of other people have applauded the plan as a smart way to encourage vaccinations across all age groups. So far, about 36%of Ohio’s population has been fully vaccinated — compared with 35% nationally. 

Still, the number of people seeking vaccines has dropped in recent weeks, with an average of about 16,500 starting the process last week, which is down from figures above 80,000 in April. 

See what others are saying: (AP News) (NPR)(The New York Times)

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Derek Chauvin Qualifies for Longer Sentence Over George Floyd’s Murder, Judge Rules

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  • A judge overseeing the trial of Derek Chauvin ruled Wednesday that there were enough aggravating factors in the former officer’s murder of George Floyd that could qualify him for a longer prison sentence.
  • While Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges he faced, Minnesota state law only allows him to receive prison time for the most serious charge of second-degree homicide, which has a max sentence of 40 years but a recommended sentence of 12.5 years for people with no criminal history.
  • The judge ultimately agreed that Chauvin qualifies for longer sentencing because prosecutors had proven that he abused his power as a police officer, acted “particularly cruel” to Floyd, and committed the crime in front of children with at least three other people.
  • Chauvin is currently scheduled to be sentenced on June 25.

Judge Cahill Rules on Aggravating Factors

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill, who oversaw the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, has ruled that there were aggravating factors in the former Minneapolis police officer’s murder of George Floyd, thus qualifying him for a longer sentence.

While the jury found Chauvin guilty on all three charges he was facing, Minnesota law says that he will only face sentencing for the most serious charge, which in this case is second-degree murder.

That charge carries a maximum sentence of 40 years, but state sentencing guidelines recommend 12 and a half years for someone with no criminal history. Prosecutors asked Judge Cahill for what’s called an “upward sentencing departure,” arguing that there were five factors that should open Chauvin up to a maximum sentence.

In a ruling made public Wednesday, Cahill wrote that prosecutors had proved beyond a reasonable doubt four of those five factors.

In his decision, Cahill agreed with the prosecutor’s claim that Chauvin had “abused his position of trust and authority” as a police officer and that he “knew from his training and experience” that the neck restraint he used Floyd in “danger of positional asphyxia.” 

Cahill also supported the argument that the former officer had been “particularly cruel” to Floyd, who he wrote “was begging for his life and obviously terrified by the knowledge he was likely to die,” adding that Chauvin “remained indifferent to Mr. Floyd’s pleas.”

The third and fourth aggravating factors that the judge sided with prosecutors on were that Chauvin had committed the crime as part of a group of three or more people and that he perpetrated that crime in front of children.

Notably, Cahill did reject the fifth aggravating factor brought by prosecutors, who argued Floyd was “particularly vulnerable” because he was handcuffed and held facedown on the street. The judge said that prosecutors did not prove that argument, writing that Floyd had been able to resist arrest before he was put on the ground.

Additional Charges

The ruling comes just a few days after Chauvin and the three other officers were indicted on federal civil rights charges by a grand jury.

Chauvin was also indicted on a second, separate federal charge related to the arrest of a 14-year-old boy in September 2017, during which he allegedly held the boy by the neck and hit him with a flashlight repeatedly.

According to reports, if he is convicted, he would likely serve the federal sentence at the same time as his state one. However, the federal charges may impact the pending August trial of the three other officers, who have been charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.

Separately, last week, Chauvin’s defense attorney filed a motion for a new trial, alleging misconduct by the judge, prosecutors, and jurors, signaling additional continued litigation.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (CNN)

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Teens Attack and Rob 80-Year-Old Asian Man in Northern California

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  • Viral surveillance footage shows an 80-year-old Asian man in the San Francisco Bay area being assaulted and robbed on Saturday by suspects who police say are teenagers.
  • Police believe the suspects are as young as 16, and at one point, one can be heard in the video giggling from the getaway car as the victim cries for help. 
  • The news comes after the nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate released data showing that reports of anti-Asian hate incidents in the U.S. jumped by almost 74% year-over-year in March.

Suspect Laughs at Victim During Attack

Surveillance video going viral on social media captured an 80-year-old Asian man in the San Francisco Bay area getting assaulted and robbed on Saturday by suspects who police believe are teenagers.

The full video is extremely distressing. It shows the man getting knocked to the ground, trying to fight off his attackers as he cries for help. To make matters worse, at one point, high-pitched giggles can be heard coming from another teen in the background. That person appears to be inside a getaway car nearby.

The victim was robbed of a watch and sustained minor injuries. Police have also said that a vehicle similar to the one used in this case was spotted at a strong-armed robbery in a nearby San Leandro area less than two hours later, where another victim was robbed of her purse.

Police believe the suspects are as young as 16.

Surge of Crimes Against Asians in U.S.

This is just the latest violent attack against an Asian person making headlines since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, reports emerged regarding two Asian women who were attacked with a hammer in Times Square by someone demanding they remove their masks. Two other Asian women were recently stabbed while waiting for the bus in downtown San Francisco.

The San Francisco-based nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate released data Thursday saying that reports of anti-Asian hate incidents in the U.S. jumped by almost 74% year-over-year in March — with Chinese people as victims in 44% of these acts.

Vancouver Sees Massive Influx of Anti-Asian Hate

While anti-Asian hate crimes have surged in the U.S., the situation may be worse in Canada, specifically in Vancouver. Around 42% of people in Vancouver are of Asian descent and at least 25% speak Chinese — making it the most heavily Asian city in North America.

Still, it witnessed a 717% year-over-year surge in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020, according to the Vancouver Police Department. Bloomberg even dubbed it the Anti-Asian hate crime capital of North America, saying more anti-Asian hate crimes were reported in the city of 700,000 people last year than in the 10 largest U.S. cities combined.

That’s part of why people all across the city are participating in more organized action to speak out against anti-Asian hate. For instance, several rallies took place in Vancouver Monday to mark the National Day of Action Against Anti-Asian Racism.

See what others are saying: (ABC 7) (Bloomberg) (Forbes)

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