In a 22-page document sent to Trump and Biden officials, Facebook said it rejected 3.3 million ads submitted during the 2020 election.
The re-election campaign of President Donald Trump has removed controversial claims it made in a lawsuit filed on Sunday in Pennsylvania.Read more at:
US President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign issued a poorly-timed attack on his Democratic opponent.The campaign mocked former Vice President Joe Biden as he visited his son’s grave on Election Day morning.Read more at:
Some 399,000 saw the ads from the Trump campaign before Facebook pulled them, which were potentially misleading to some voters.
Harlan Hill, who has ties to Trump's re-election campaign, was a regular guest on Fox News until he tweeted a misogynistic insult about Harris.
Keir Starmer has brushed off a decision by Unite to cut funding to Labour and is set instead to turn to other unions, party members, donors and the general public to plug the gap.The UK’s second biggest union voted to slash its party affiliation fees by just under 10% on Tuesday, a reduction that would mean a fall in income of around £150,000 on the £1.5m it donates in an average non-election year.Despite wilder speculation that the move would result in a £750,000 annual cut, the union’s executive committee voted to cut by 50,000 its number of affiliates, with each affiliate paying £3.Some 500,000 affiliates will now be helping fund Labour per year, rather than 550,000. The union gave a further £3m to the election campaign in 2019.Starmer’s spokesman refused to deny that Unite’s decision could even help his drive to make Labour more electable because it would put distance between the leadership and general secretary Len McCluskey.“Unite has taken their decision, we have seen Len’s remarks. We acknowledge that decision,” the spokesman said.“Labour will continue to take decisions in the best interest of the country, that means tackling coronavirus, protecting people’s jobs and restoring public trust in Labour so we can win in 2024.”Former cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw said that the move was welcome because McCluskey had kept the Tories in power for the last decade.“Few people have done more to keep the Tories in power for the last 10 years than Len McCluskey”Labour MP Ben Bradshaw said the Unite leader has “done our movement so much damage” as the union plans to reduce its donation to Labour by 10%#politicslive— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) October 7, 2020Asked if the decision would benefit Labour because it was a visible break with leftwinger McCluskey, the spokesman replied: ”Len has taken this decision, it’s for others to speculate and analyse that decision.”“The party has a long history of raising money through its members, and through the trade unions and through individual supporters. We’ll continue doing that, we have a fundraising strategy in place.”On the suggestion of public crowdfunding to raise cash, he added: “We will look at everything. Even before the Unite decision we were looking at how we can raise the funds to win in 2024. We are looking at various different models.”Allies of Starmer pointed out that he had actually won a majority of Unite members’ votes in the leadership election earlier this year, when he easily beat its nominated candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey.Meanwhile, HuffPost UK has learned that senior Unite figures dismayed by the funding cut have vowed that Jeremy Corbyn-backing group Momentum will not be benefiting from the money diverted away from Labour.Sources said that the spare cash would go instead to groups like the Tribune magazine and “the energetic, intellectual left” rather than Momentum.One member of the union’s executive committee had raised the grassroots group as a possible recipient in a debate about the kind of organisation that would get Unite support.But it is unlikely that the committee would approve such a move because many Unite members were wary of Momentum not least because of its moves to cut trade union influence in Labour, insiders said.“There is definitely no proposal to affiliate or donate to Momentum. It’s certainly not going to happen,” said a source. “Many Unite members are active in CLPs [constituency Labour parties] and have seen the chaos caused by Momentum internally,” another added.Some within the United Left grouping of the union fear that the decision to cut affiliates weakens the union’s influence within the party and paves the way for other unions to edge it out.The split within the union over the move to slash funding to Starmer was laid bare at the committee meeting on Tuesday, when it was approved narrowly by 25 votes to 23.HuffPost UK understands that several weeks ago, there was pressure within the union to go even further and cut affiliate numbers by half – a move that would have led to the loss of £825,000 a year.McCluskey told the BBC’s Newsnight that the deeper cuts could occur if the party veered away from Jeremy Corbyn’s agenda. “My activists will ask me, ‘Why are we giving so much money’?”McCluskey, who is due to step down in 2022, expressed dismay that Unite funds had been spent by Labour paying damages to whistle-blowers who contributed to a Panorama programme about Labour’s handling of the anti-Semitism crisis.But some Unite members are understood to be much more worried about the large sums spent on defending a libel case won by ex-Labour MP Anna Turley last year against the union and a leftwing blog Skwawkbox.At a further meeting of the union executive on Wednesday, some members from its South East region asked who had authorised the spending on the legal case, which resulted in a £75,000 damages payout to Turley and in which the court costs have been speculated as being up to £2m. Costs have yet to be agreed.McCluskey is understood to have said that as general secretary he had authority on behalf of the committee. He also warned members not to believe “right wing media” reports of the alleged multi-million pound costs.Assistant general secretary Howard Beckett, a fierce critic of Starmer’s who backed the funding cut, told the meeting that the union had had several legal successes and justified defending the Turley case, sources said.Euan Philipps, spokesperson for Labour Against Antisemitism, said: “If Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, is threatening the further removal of financial support in order to dictate Labour Party policy then that should be welcomed by Labour leader Keir Starmer, not resisted.“The issue of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party was a significant contributory factor to the party’s record defeat in last December’s general election. For the Labour Party to move forward it has to be courageous and ignore these manoeuvres by Mr McCluskey.”Related... McCluskey Warns Starmer Unite Could Slash More Labour Cash Will New Trade Union Bosses Help Keir Starmer Or Hinder Him? Starmer Critic Beckett Loses Bid To Succeed Len McCluskey
Donald Trump removed his mask seconds after returning to the White House on Monday after a three-night hospital stay for treatment for Covid-19.The US president appeared not to care about infecting photographers or staff as he walked up the staircase of the White House South Portico, removed his surgical mask, and posed for pictures, at times giving a thumbs-up and others a salute. He was surrounded by the national flag.His aides have been hit by a wave of infections as the pandemic – which has taken more than 200,000 American lives – further shadowed the election campaign. It is four weeks until polling day.Leaving the the Walter Reed military hospital outside Washington earlier in the evening, he responded to a reporter’s question about how many people were infected at the White House by saying: “Thank you very much.” The Republican president, running for re-election against Democrat Joe Biden in the November 3 election, was admitted to the hospital on Friday after being diagnosed with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.“Feeling really good!” he said on Twitter earlier. “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”But despite attempts to project strength, he did not look well. Trump looks like he is gasping for air— Brennan Murphy (@brenonade) October 5, 2020 The disease has killed more than 1 million people worldwide and more than 209,000 in the United States alone - the highest death toll of any country.Trump, 74, has not had a fever in more than 72 hours and his oxygen levels are normal, his medical team told reporters in front of the hospital. The doctors declined, however, to discuss any toll the disease could have on the president’s lungs or disclose when Trump last tested negative for the coronavirus.The team added that the president had received supplemental oxygen twice in recent days.“He may not entirely be out of the woods yet,” Dr Sean P Conley, the White House physician, said. “If we can get through to Monday with him remaining the same or improving, better yet, then we will all take that final, deep sigh of relief.”But Conley said the medical team believed Trump was ready to leave the hospital, stressing he would have world-class medical care around the clock at the White House.Conley said doctors were in “uncharted territory” because Trump had received certain therapies so early in the course of the illness.Related... Trump Leaves Hospital As Questions Mount Over Covid-19 Condition America, Are You OK? Listen To Running Mate, Our US Election Podcast For Brits Now White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany Has Covid-19
Keir Starmer has insisted that his priority at the next election will be to hike taxes for the top 5% of Britons and signalled that he may go even further in squeezing the very richest.In an interview with HuffPost UK, the Labour leader moved to quash suggestions that he had abandoned his leadership pledge to jack up income tax on anyone earning over £80,000.Although the party has a current policy of opposing government tax rises during the pandemic, Starmer said that if he became prime minister in 2024 he may have to “be bolder than we imagined” to rebalance the UK’s economy and invest in public services.In the interview, he also: responds to Gogglebox viewers’ criticism of him, saying Boris Johnson is “governing by hindsight”;says that, unlike the PM, he “won’t be complaining” about his salary, housekeepers and nannies if he gets into No.10;defends the BBC and says shadow ministers were wrong to say it played any part in Labour’s 2019 defeat;reveals he ‘passed’ unconscious bias training;admits his wife does more of the housework but says during lockdown he’s been “hoovering the stairs”.During his leadership campaign earlier this year, the first of Starmer’s 10 “pledges” to Labour members was “to increase income tax for the top 5% of earners, reverse the Tories’ cuts in corporation tax and clamp down on tax avoidance, particularly of large corporations”.He was, however, careful to avoid committing himself to the last manifesto’s detailed promises, which were to create a 45p tax rate for earners over £80,000 and 50p for those over £150,000.Since the coronavirus crisis, Labour has developed a policy of opposing any tax rises, believing that they would harm any recovery and hit people on average incomes.Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy last week suggested Starmer’s first pledge had been scrapped as a result of the new opposition to any Tory tax hikes.But when asked directly by HuffPost UK if his leadership pledges had changed, Starmer replied: “No, they were important pledges – very important pledges – in terms of the approach I would take and the priorities I would have as leader of the Labour party, and they remain my priorities.“What I’m saying is, the work and the challenge now is so much more profound than we thought it was in 2019. Or even this year before the pandemic hit. It actually means we might have to be bolder than we might have imagined.”The reference to “bolder” solutions may spark fresh speculation that Labour is considering a “wealth tax” at the next election, which would target the assets rather than just the income of the very richest.A YouGov survey in May suggested that 61% of the public would approve of a wealth tax for those with assets of over £750,000.A new book by journalist Owen Jones revealed that the £80,000 salary target was set by John McDonnell in 2017 because internal polling showed that many people on lower incomes thought they might be earning £60,000 in five years’ time but no one thought they would hit the £80,000 limit.Starmer added: “The next general election is in 2024, so I don’t think it’s prudent at this stage to set out tax arrangements for 2024, when we don’t know the size of the debt, we don’t know the damage that has been done.“And we haven’t yet set out what the strategic priorities will be for the next Labour government. So that’s the kind of work that will necessarily have to be done closer to the election. We will then set it out in full detail and in a costed way.“We’re going to have to confront a completely different world, where the economy is going to take a massive hit. The fragility of our public services has been completely exposed.“One of the reasons I think that we have fared so badly in the UK is because of the effect of austerity and the fragility of our economy. We’ve got to face up to that. We’ve got to rebuild in a better way.”The Labour leader said that he didn’t have “any problem” with publishing his tax returns, as Jeremy Corbyn had done, and suggested that Boris Johnson should follow suit. The PM has failed to do so, despite having done so before he became a cabinet minister.Asked about reports in The Times recently that Johnson was “struggling” on his £150,000 salary and was worried about being able to afford a nanny and to live without a housekeeper, Starmer said he would not be “complaining” if he got into No.10.“I didn’t know whether any of that was true or whether it was spun by others. If it is true it doesn’t reflect well on the prime minister,” he said.“Look, my plan between now and 2024 is to make sure we are in No.10 and I won’t be complaining when I get there.”Gogglebox verdictGogglebox last night had Keir Starmer bang to rights. Watch every second of this.— Ben (@BenJolly9) September 26, 2020Starmer also responded for the first time to Labour voters on Channel 4’s Gogglebox show, who last week ridiculed his position of supporting the government on coronavirus without having his own alternative plans. One family said he was “a lot of wind”, one that he had to stop being “Captain Hindsight”, while others were confused which party he stood for.Starmer said he had watched the show and insisted that he would not be changing his stance of supporting some government pandemic measures while challenging them where necessary.“You’ve got to take all this on the chin. Frankly if you can get through my household with my kids not taking anything I do seriously, then you can take Gogglebox. This is all part and parcel of being leader of a political party. It’s perfectly open to everybody to challenge, laugh, joke, cajole. All of my friends and family do it to me all of the time, so I’m pretty used to it.“Some people do think that if you’re the opposition you should oppose everything the government does. I don’t agree. I think in a crisis like this pandemic there are some issues where we need to support what the government is doing. That’s why we supported national lockdown, that’s why we supported restrictions. We also supported the furlough scheme.“Actually the government’s complaint against me is that we are doing too much challenging – they don’t like it. But we are challenging them in areas where they need to be challenged and where the challenge can actually bring around some change.”Asked about the advice from Gogglebox’s Sophie Sandiford that he should tell the prime minister: “Don’t call me Captain Hindsight, call me Bruce Foresight”, Starmer said: “Actually, if you look at what we’ve done over the past few months, we have flagged up in advance what the problem is going to be.“The prime minister has ignored it and walked into the problem, then when he’s realised where the problem is he’s blamed everyone else for hindsight. He’s governing by hindsight. He’s always looking back at the car crash and wondering how he got into the problem.”‘Structural inequalities’Starmer, who has been criticised by some Black members of the party for his handling of Black Lives Matter issues, said that he had learned more about himself after unconscious bias training this summer.Asked if he had “passed” the test, he said: “Yes that’s the way to describe it.” But he added: “On its own it’s obviously not enough because we have got structural inequalities baked into almost every part of the system and we need to be more understanding. Eradicating structural inequality has to be a defining cause of the next Labour government.”He also said that Labour would tackle the educational inequality that saw white working class boys rank lowest of any group in getting into university.“It’s not just university, it’s through schooling as well. Of course we have to address it. Wherever we see inequality we have to address it in terms,” he said.“Put your money into young people, put your money into zero-to-five SureStart, have adequate housing and facilities for people.“You can see it across the country. I have it in my constituency where inequality starts so young. If you don’t invest there, then trying to sort out the inequality 10, 20, 30 years down the line is so much more difficult.“You have to start at the very beginning. That’s why SureStart was such an important part of what the last Labour government did.”The BBCStarmer also defended the BBC, after Andrew Marr said this week that it was “in a dangerous place” given the speculation about the future of the licence fee. And he condemned Labour activists who booed Laura Kuenssberg during the election campaign.“I think the BBC is really important – has got incredible services and programmes on it, including the World Service. I don’t subscribe to this view, whether it’s the BBC or anyone else, of attacking journalists asking difficult questions. It’s a really important part of accountability.”Asked whether he agreed with shadow minister Andy McDonald who said that the BBC had “played a part” in Labour’s loss last December, Starmer replied: “No, I don’t. [...] You don’t turn around and start blaming the electorate or other people – you look in the mirror and ask yourself: ‘What did we do wrong?’ We need to learn that lesson as a party if we are going to get from where we are now to where we need to be in 2024.”Starmer also rejected suggestions that he was destined to become like Neil Kinnock, rebuilding the party after a shattering defeat but not managing to win an election. He said he would “own” the next four years, rather than referring to the past.“I don’t know how many times I have to say that I’m not a past Labour leader. People are forever trying to get me to hug a past Labour leader, or be that person. We can learn from all of them but I’m not any of them.“I’m deeply conscious, and this is really serious for me and for the party, that the next stage of the journey is for us. It’s for us in the circumstances as they confront us, the circumstances framed by the pandemic but obviously with the context of huge cuts to public services, austerity, baked-in injustice. That part of the journey is for us.“And this leadership team and this party has to own those next four years and therefore pointing back to what other people did is helpful where you can draw lessons from that – but actually this is for us. We have to accept that responsibility and what happens the next four years will reflect on us and not on anybody else.”Handling lockdownAsked about how he had handled lockdown this year, and whether he had done his fair share of household duties, Starmer replied: “I would say yes, but you need to double check that with my wife. She would say no.“But have I been the one hoovering the stairs? Yes, I have. And dealing with the bins and that sort of thing. But she does far more than I do.”Put to him that many men had failed to help their partners who had to cope with both extra childcare, housework and their own work, he said: “I think that varies from household to household. Everybody has their own set of arrangements but, as I say, I think I play my part, do my bit. But you’d have to check with my wife!”Related... Keir Starmer Calls For New Powers For Mayors To Decide Local Lockdowns A Wealth Tax 'Has To Happen', Says Senior Labour Peer And Ex-Gordon Brown Adviser Does Keir Starmer Really Want A ‘Wealth Tax’ To Fund A Covid Recovery?
Donald Trump’s 2016 US presidential election campaign worked with Cambridge Analytica to deter millions of Black Americans from voting by targeting them with anti-Hillary Clinton ads, according to a massive database obtained by Britain’s Channel 4 News. The broadcaster claims Trump’s digital campaign team used the cache to build psychological profiles of millions of US citizens across 16 key battleground states. An algorithm then divided them into eight different categories, including core supporters on each side and “deadbeats” that were unlikely to vote. Another segment of people that the campaign wanted to dissuade from voting was marked as “Deterrence.” A total of 3.5 million Black… This story continues at The Next Web
Donald Trump’s presidential election campaign attempted to discourage millions of Black Americans from voting in 2016 in a move that could have been crucial to his victory, it has been claimed.According to an investigation by Channel 4 News, the so-called “Deterrence” project run by Trump’s digital campaign team targeted 3.5 million Black people with adverts in an attempt to get them to stay at home on election day. Almost 200 million people in 16 key battleground states were separated by an algorithm into “audiences”, so they could then be targeted with tailored ads on Facebook and other platforms, the British broadcaster says.Reliable voters that supported each candidate were categorised as “Core Trump” and “Core Clinton”. Less reliable voters were marked as “GOTV”, meaning get out to vote if they were leaning towards Trump, “Persuasion” if they were swing voters, and “Deterrence” if they were likely to support Hilary Clinton.REVEALED: Trump’s election campaign wanted to deter millions of Black Americans from voting in 2016.The ‘Deterrence’ project can be revealed after Channel 4 News obtained the database used by Trump's digital campaign team. #DeterringDemocracy— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) September 28, 2020 Analysis by Channel 4 News shows Black Americans were disproportionately marked “Deterrence” by the 2016 campaign – they made up just 13% of the voters that were identified in the database, but 29% of the “Deterrence” group.In Georgia, despite Black people constituting 32% of the population, they made up 61% of the “Deterrence” category, Channel 4 News reports.In North Carolina, Black people are 22% of the population but were 46% of the “Deterrence” group. An analysis of data from the key state of Wisconsin, where in 2016 turnout among Black voters collapsed, just 5.4% of the population are Black voters – but the group represented 17% of the “Deterrence” group.The US election four years ago saw the first fall in Black turnout in 20 years and allowed Trump to take narrow and unexpected victories in swing states, paving his way to the White House despite losing the popular vote to Clinton.The Trump campaign spent £44 million on Facebook ads alone during 2016.They posted almost six million different versions of highly targeted messages, which were pumped directly into the feeds of targeted voters across America.But many of the ads were so called “dark posts”, which could disappear from feeds once a campaign stopped paying for them.The campaign is said to have been devised in part by Cambridge Analytica, the now defunct British political consultants embroiled in controversy over targeted ads deployed across the world.The Trump campaign itself has categorically stated that it did not target African Americans.Brad Parscale, the campaign’s 2016 digital director, told PBS Frontline: “I would say I’m nearly 100 percent sure we did not run any campaigns that targeted even African Americans.”But Channel 4 News says confidential documents reveal the campaign targeted a video featuring Clinton referring to young Black people as “super predators” at African American voters.Jamal Watkins, vice president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), said: “The thing that’s shocking slash troubling about this is that there’s this category of suppression. That ‘Deterrence’ part.“So, we use data – similar to voter file data – but it’s to motivate, persuade and encourage folks to participate. We don’t use the data to say who can we deter and keep at home. That just seems, fundamentally, it’s a shift from the notion of democracy.“It’s not ‘may the best candidate win’ at that point it’s ‘may the best well-funded machine suppress voters and keep them at home thereby rigging the election so that someone can win’.”A Facebook spokesperson said: “Since 2016, elections have changed and so has Facebook – what happened with Cambridge Analytica couldn’t happen today. “We have 35,000 people working to ensure the integrity of our platform, created a political ads library ... and have protected more than 200 elections worldwide. We also have rules prohibiting voter suppression and are running the largest voter information campaign in American history.”The Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and the White House did not provide any comment to Channel 4 News prior to broadcast. Related... Do The Presidential Debates Matter? Listen To Running Mate, Our US Election Podcast For Brits Trump’s Massive Hairstyling Bill Revealed In NYT Bombshell Tax Report Donald Trump’s Tax Returns Revealed By New York Times
The first thing I learn from One America News Network is that there is a new Rolling Stones flagship store opening on Carnaby Street, where “you can always get what you want.” The next is that Donald Trump has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and held a massively successful rally in North Carolina where he condemned mail-in voting. OAN will then tell me that The Atlantic magazine is full of lies and owned by “America’s new George Soros.”What I don’t know at this point on Wednesday morning, only 20 minutes into a 16-hour straight viewing of far-right conspiracy network OAN, is that I will watch its highlight reel of Trump’s rally seven times and the attack on The Atlantic eight times. I will watch a segment on Trump’s Nobel Peace Prize nomination, a meaningless stunt by a far-right Norwegian parliamentarian, at least 10 times. I will watch multiple different hosts recite the same introductions and same scripts, sometimes saying the words along with them in my empty apartment. Because OAN blends its outlandish coverage with everyday banality I will come to know that The Rolling Stones memorabilia store is, at its heart, “about the music.”This has been a breakout year for OAN. For most people, the network is infamous for its conspiracy theories, its employment of far-right activists and White House correspondent Chanel Rion’s absurdly sycophantic questions to the president. (“We’re watching Joe Biden slip very gently into senility, while you’re at the top of your game. What’s your secret?”)  Fact-checking OAN, especially 16-straight hours of it, is basically a Sisyphean taskOAN is ostensibly a news network, with 24-hour coverage and a multimillion-dollar budget. It’s available in at least 35 million households through multiple service providers and has its own streaming app for smart televisions. Trump has repeatedly tweeted praise for the channel and encouraged his followers to watch it. He gave the outlet an exclusive interview during the Republican National Convention, and Trump family members and top associates have repeatedly appeared on its programmes. As the election quickly approaches, it is effectively a media arm of the Trump campaign.Pro-Trump media is often viewed only through brief moments that highlight its most egregious disinformation. This can obscure that part of its function: to produce a kind of information pollution that warps viewers’ perception of reality. It creates an alternate universe where baseless conspiracies mix into legitimate news, major events are ignored and the president can do no wrong. So I’ve decided to binge-watch my way into that reality. As it happens, I chose the day that CNN and The Washington Post score a massive scoop: audio from Trump’s interview with Bob Woodward, in which the president admits – in the early days of the pandemic, which will soon claim 200,000 American lives – that he is purposely downplaying the coronavirus. If I was keeping an eye on Twitter or flipping channels I’d know about this bombshell right away, but on OAN, it barely exists. 7am to noon OAN’s daytime shows typically feature a single host sitting at a desk or a couch in front of a city backdrop or stock market-themed green screen. It should look like any other channel, but even with all the trappings of cable news, there is always an uncanny valley between OAN and a regular network. The lighting and graphics are somehow slightly off, and awkward stock footage such as faceless businessmen shaking hands is embedded in reports. There are minor technical issues and hosts flub their lines along the way. The live ticker at the bottom of the screen for hours has no news; it just constantly scrolls “VISIT OANN.COM | FOLLOW @OANN ON TWITTER.”OAN’s morning programming is incredibly repetitive. Although the hosts change each hour, much of the scripts they read remain the same, and pre-taped news segments air multiple times. What host Stephanie Myers presents just before 7am is sometimes identical to what host Lilia Fifield says an hour later, which is repeated again on Wall to Wall with Greta Wall later in the morning. There is no context or analysis for many news events, such as a fire at a refugee camp in Greece, often just repurposed footage from news agencies or local stations and voiceover that sounds aggregated from news wires like Reuters.These more generic segments are the closest OAN comes to being a straight news channel, which is how its owner Robert Herring Sr. promoted the network when he launched it along with his son Charles in 2013. Herring Sr., a multimillionaire Republican donor, initially touted the network as just-the-facts news without biased commentary. Herring Sr. reportedly played a significant role in making the network’s coverage increasingly right-wing and pro-Trump, and several anchors anonymously told Politico that many on staff are not diehard conservatives but dejected liberals who are simply trying to hold on to a job in broadcasting. OAN quickly morphed into an outright pro-Trump outlet that aired his rallies in full during the 2016 presidential election campaign and now lauds his administration. The shift has made OAN a rising star in the right-wing media ecosystem, resulting in the president repeatedly praising the station on Twitter and giving OAN closer access into Trump World. Ratings are allegedly up 55% compared with last year, Charles Herring told Politico. (OAN doesn’t subscribe to industry-standard Nielsen ratings, making it hard to know exact viewership numbers.) Even when OAN isn’t promoting outright misinformation, its choice of what to cover helps shape a world that its conspiratorial coverage then distorts. Portland police being paid increased overtime during protests is elevated to national news and manages to fit in mention of “violent rioters.” A story about a federal ban on imports from China’s Xinjiang province and another on the Pacific nation of Palau inviting the US to build a military base frame America as boldly countering China’s influence. It doesn’t matter that the Palau story is almost a week old, or that the Customs and Border Protection has not made any formal announcement on Xinjiang imports.Where OAN really begins to deviate from reality, however, is in its programming that features guest interviews or pre-taped segments from its better-known personalities. Just after 7am, Fifield introduces a segment from Rion, the White House correspondent, that is an absurd defence of Trump against The Atlantic’s damaging report that the president called Americans who died in war “losers” and “suckers.”“A once-respected journal now finds itself exposed as a privately funded fiction factory for the DNC,” Rion says, claiming that The Atlantic’s reporting, which has been backed up by multiple other outlets including Fox News, “went down in journalistic flames.” The segment baselessly accuses Atlantic journalists of being puppets for owner Laurene Powell-Jobs, whom Rion describes as “America’s new George Soros” who hired a “coterie of pet writers” to do her bidding. Rion, who is also the “curator-at-large” of a word appreciation website that claims to be the “premier destination for lovers of fine words,” lingers on pronouncing “coterie.”The segment airs multiple times just in the first few hours of the day, and as Rion talks about “truth” and “reality,” the words begin to lose any meaning. I become fixated on why there is a large gray smudge in the second “o” of a sinister “anonymous sources” graphic. I watch Powell-Jobs’ headshot slowly pan across the screen over and over.“Society’s only hope against such bad actors is the truth, in the hope that it ultimately prevails,” Rion says in a sentence that will slowly sear its way into my mind over the course of the day.Another piece repeated throughout the morning is a report from OAN’s Pearson Sharp, who sounds like the voice of Moviefone, promoting Trump’s claims that mail-in voting will result in fraud, giving the impression “illegals” will receive ballots and falsely suggesting Hillary Clinton only won the popular vote in 2016 because “almost 6 million ballots went missing” and “just vanished.” Sharp’s source in this segment is a right-wing advocacy group with a history of misleading and debunked statements that is run by a former Trump administration official. OAN will air it six times on Wednesday. Fact-checking OAN, especially 16-straight hours of it, is basically a Sisyphean task. There are simply too many pieces of misinformation per minute to catch up, and the central premise of its coverage is often so misleading that it defies any good faith engagement.Between 7am and noon, OAN runs interviews with right-wing think tankers under the banner “Economists Warn A Biden America Would Destroy Economy” and Sharp talking with a California pro-gun activist who claims billionaires are coming to take away the second amendment. (“Including George Soros?!” Sharp asks.) OAN also brings on Trump pollster John McLaughlin, who condemns “skewed media polls” showing the president trailing Biden and talks about pro-Trump boat parades.“If more people owned boats we’d win this in a landslide,” McLaughlin says.News consumers in the rest of the country, even viewers of Fox News, are seeing a succession of major stories that Wednesday: massive wildfires engulfed large parts of California, where OAN is based, and turned the sky above San Francisco an apocalyptic orange. A Rochester, New York, police chief and his top officials resigned after allegations of covering up police involvement in the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who suffocated after officers put a bag over his head during an arrest. But meanwhile, at around 11:20am, OAN airs an unbroken feed of Department of Homeland Security acting Secretary Chad Wolf delivering a “state of the homeland” address where he defends the agency’s crackdown on nationwide anti-racism protests. A few hours after this address, it will become public that a DHS official filed a major whistleblower complaint that claims Wolf twice told him to stop reporting on the Russian threat to the US election because it “made Trump look bad.” I will not find out about this until the next day, because OAN will not cover it during the 16 hours I’m watching.Noon to 6pmWhile the rest of the news media covers the Woodward revelations, which broke just before noon, I am looking at OAN still showing a live feed of Wolf’s speech even though he has now stopped talking and left the podium. “There are shuttles waiting outside,” one official helpfully tells the attending audience.When OAN cuts back to the studio, host Jennifer Franco summarises Wolf’s speech and then goes on to introduce a series of stories that include a poll showing Portland’s disapproval of its mayor, a Republican bill to increase pay for law enforcement officers and a Belgian magazine accused of using blackface on its cover. The Atlantic segment airs again. “Society’s only hope against such bad actors is the truth, in the hope that it ultimately prevails,” Rion says.At around 12:10pm, OAN runs a segment bashing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for “flip flopping” on mask policy, and I realise despite multiple stories condemning him, this is the first time in five hours I have heard Biden speak.  It’s exceedingly rare to actually hear from any Democrats or people with dissenting views. Trump is everywhere – on b-roll, speaking at length at his rally and giving live pressers – but Kamala Harris and Biden are only ever mentioned and function as unspeaking villains. A few-second clip of Harris during a segment on former Fox News host Megyn Kelly condemning her for praising police shooting victim Jacob Blake’s family, and another brief clip of Biden talking about masks, are essentially all we hear from them all day.About 5 hours into watching OAN my television asks if I am still there and begins a countdown to turn itself off. I watch for a few seconds then press a button on the remote to stop it. I will solely watch OAN all day, only getting up from in front of the TV to grab food or go to the bathroom. During one commercial break later in the day, I run down to the corner store to buy beer.In the bottom left corner of the screen, OAN has a live feed previewing the upcoming White House press briefing. Before it cuts to the presser, OAN will cover luxury giant LVMH possibly dropping its deal to acquire Tiffany, rerun its segment on Trump being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize – now with a quote from the Norwegian far-right politician stating that “Barack Obama did nothing” to receive the award – and report that the Oscars is adding a diversity component to its selection process. The channel will tease a segment promising to reveal the reason the Baylor vs. Louisiana Tech college football game has been postponed. (Several players tested positive for coronavirus, which is not given any broader context.)When the network cuts to the live White House briefing, it only takes a few minutes for reality to Kool-Aid Man its way through the wall of OAN. As soon as White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany opens up the floor to questions, almost every reporter asks about the Woodward tapes. “I’d like to ask you about the Woodward interviews. Did President Trump intentionally mislead the American people about the threat of Covid – a pandemic that has now cost the lives of nearly 200,000 Americans?” CBS White House correspondent Paula Reid says.I don’t know exactly what has happened at this point, but it’s pretty obvious that it’s not good for Trump and has become a big enough story to be simply referred to as the “Woodward interviews.” It also makes me hyperconscious that there are likely a number of important stories that I don’t know about because I’ve instead watched three segments on Eric Trump declaring that the NFL is “officially dead” because Dallas Cowboys players may take a knee. Toward the end of the briefing, McEnany cuts off a question about Trump drawing down troops in Iraq – something I can’t remember if I’m also hearing about for the first time – and calls on OAN’s Rion at the back of the briefing room. Rion asks if Palestinians have “expressed any interest in distancing themselves from Iran, in the interest of Middle East peace.” The biggest story to OAN is still Trump’s peace prize nomination. When OAN cuts back to the studio, Fifield briefly summarises some of what McEnany said in the briefing and then moves right along to other news. Fifield announces that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has praised Trump’s Nobel Peace Prize nomination. The news ticker at the bottom of the screen is working now, and it also reports that Trump has been nominated for the prize.  At a time when any reasonable news outlet could have gotten it together to address the major breaking news story making international headlines, OAN cuts to an unbroken feed of vice president Mike Pence giving a fireside chat to anti-abortion organisation Susan B. Anthony List. Pence laments that the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law restricting access to abortion and vows that it means “we need more conservatives on the Supreme Court of the United States.” Pence wraps up after 2pm, and then it’s back to Greta Wall with the top story that air travel is down over Labor Day. The Atlantic segment airs again.It’s not until around 3pm that OAN addresses the Woodward interviews, which it frames as “the White House shuts down the mainstream media over Bob Woodward’s book.” A short clip of Trump telling Woodward he likes to play down the severity of coronavirus airs, and host Jennifer Franco repeats nearly the same talking points that McEnany used hours earlier during the White House briefing.After a perfunctory acknowledgement of the Woodward interview, the network quickly moves on. Donald Trump Jr. has defended the 17-year-old militia supporter accused of killing two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during anti-racism protests. Trump Jr. tells Extra “we all do stupid things at 17” and OAN states that Trump Jr. is “waiting for due process” before making judgments. I am getting the impression this is not a banner day for the Trump administration, though on OAN there’s no cause for concern.Trump makes his first live appearance of the day just before 4pm, when he is announcing his list of possible nominees for the Supreme Court. As he goes through his choices, I think I hear senator Josh Hawley called, but wonder if perhaps there is a judge with the same name. I hear senator Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz listed as well, and realise something strange has happened.  OAN moves past Trump’s nominations so fast that I wonder if I had misheard them, and I start to consider what other networks look like. I imagine Twitter is melting down while OAN airs a segment on Walmart considering drone delivery. I don’t know that Cotton has also tweeted “it’s time for Roe v. Wade to go” just moments after Trump named him, and OAN will never mention it for the entire time I’m watching.It is obviously an extreme to get information solely from watching OAN, let alone 16 hours of it, but it’s at least partially reflective of how conservative audiences consume news media. Right-wing audiences tend to receive their information from fewer sources than left-wing audiences, according to Pew Research Center reports, and have high degrees of trust toward those sources while distrusting established news outlets. Media analysts argue that this dynamic makes conservative audiences more susceptible to falling into right-wing echo chambers rife with misinformation.6pm to 11pm Watching OAN for this long gives you the feeling like you’re stuck in an airport in some alternate version of America where press freedom and media independence have evaporated. Even more than Fox News, it’s probably the closest the United States has to something that would feel natural in an authoritarian-leaning country.In Hungary, far-right nationalist prime minister Viktor Orban hollowed out the media to the point where most news outlets are under the control of sympathetic oligarchs who have fired or pushed out anyone critical of the government. It’s not that these outlets have stopped carrying any news, it’s that it is devalued or unreliable and only toes the party line. Meanwhile, the more extreme tabloids traffic in conspiracies and outright government propaganda, and this is what OAN’s prime-time news lineup feels like. Apart from pre-taped segments like the ones Rion and Sharp deliver, the really outlandish conspiracies and intense spin happen during OAN’s nighttime broadcasts. It takes a couple hours of coverage that includes Ohio governor Mike DeWine appearing as a guest to defend Trump over the Woodward interviews and a few ad breaks teasing “what familiar faces from the Senate” made Trump’s Supreme Court list, but by 8pm, the channel is in full swing.“When you have a cold, do we close down the country?” Lynette “Diamond” Hardaway of the duo Diamond and Silk, coronavirus conspiracy theorists and former Fox News pundits, asks OAN host Stephanie Hamill. “I’m getting real tired of science.” Diamond and Silk, who were cut from Fox News after promoting coronavirus conspiracies, go on to falsely suggest that Covid-19 death tolls are being inflated. (Medical experts believe that we are actually undercounting them.)Society’s only hope against such bad actors is the truth, in the hope that it will ultimately prevail.Hamill’s other guests include far-right conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souza and several other conservative activists who attack Black Lives Matter and The Atlantic, and go on to call for “strict criminal penalties” for “false rape claims” while discussing the sexual assault allegations against Trump. At one point, Hamill condemns tech platforms for taking down “second amendment groups.”“When they don’t like your ideas they call you a racist. They call you a white supremacist,” Hamill tells one guest.Hamill is followed by Liz Wheeler, whom Trump has singled out for praise on Twitter, and who hosts the show “Tipping Point” with an unblinking intensity. Wheeler’s first segment is a lengthy condemnation of an unknown Rhode Island high school civics teacher, whom she accuses of promoting “anti-Trump indoctrination” for making her students read critical articles from HuffPost, The Daily Beast and The Atlantic. This is a prime-time national news story on OAN.“This teacher is a perfect example of the rot in public schools,” Wheeler says.  “Tipping Point’s” other targets include The Atlantic (again), Kamala Harris and Facebook, which Wheeler accuses of “censoring” one of her videos that was flagged for misinformation. Wheeler’s show mercifully ends at 10 p.m., bringing up the final program of the night: “After Hours” with host Alex Salvi. Although all of OAN’s late-night talent resemble off-brand Fox News hosts, none are less convincing than Salvi, whose show has the cobbled together feel of a last-minute grade school book report.  “Tonight, Donald Trump is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee,” Salvi announces at the top of the show. Salvi claims that Trump did not win his first nomination in 2018 “despite historical precedent being on his side,” giving the nonsensical comparison of president Theodore Roosevelt winning the prize for brokering peace in the 1904 Russo-Japanese war.After playing a clip from Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show addressing the Woodward interview, Salvi goes on to dismiss Woodward as simply promoting “another resistance grifter book deal.” Republican National Committee spokesperson Cassie Smedile appears as a guest to back him up.I have now been watching OAN for over 15 straight hours, but even I take notice at Salvi’s next chyron, which reads “Christian Walker: BLM Is KKK In Blackface” and “BLM Is A Domestic Terrorist Organisation That Hurts Black Americans.” The guest is Christian Walker, son of GOP convention speaker Herschel Walker, who tells Salvi that media and elites are on “a campaign to destroy Western civilisation.”  After that hint of far-right extremism, Salvi ends his program by playing part of the trailer for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, which he says he saw over the weekend and was “pretty entertaining to say the least.” It all feels like a fever dream, but then the next show begins with the grounding promise to reveal “what familiar faces” Trump has nominated for the Supreme Court. It’s past 11pm and I turn off OAN, knowing that the network’s churn of disinformation will begin again tomorrow and hoping that it hasn’t burrowed into my brain. Society’s only hope against such bad actors is the truth, in the hope that it will ultimately prevail.Related... Trump’s New Campaign Strategy: Declare The Election Illegitimate Trump’s Latest Coronavirus Comment Slammed As ‘So Cruel And Cynical’ Trump Keeps Retweeting An Obviously Fake Joe Biden Clip
US law enforcement and other authorities used force while intervening in nearly 400 Black Lives Matter protests since police killed George Floyd in May, according to new data that paints the clearest portrait yet of the historic unrest that’s swept across the country this summer.Figures from the US Crisis Monitor offer a bleak forecast of escalating political violence heading into a contentious election. While most of the protests have been non-violent, police or other authorities intervened in about 725 Black Lives Matter protests in the US between May 24 and August 22, sometimes using force – including tear gas, rubber bullets, or beating demonstrators with batons, data shows. There were also over 100 instances of government violence directed against the media during this period. We’re seeing increased proliferation of groups like militias that are taking up arms, some of whom are becoming violent.Dr. Roudabeh KishiOn top of that, the Crisis Monitor – a joint effort of the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), a nongovernmental organisation, and the Bridging Divides Initiative at Princeton University – identified over 100 instances of non-state actors, including at least 20 distinct far-right militia groups, intervening in Black Lives Matter demonstrations, sometimes violently, since May 24.There were also dozens of cases of individual perpetrators, some linked to white supremacist groups like the KKK, driving vehicles into Black Lives Matter demonstrators.And things could get worse.“I think we have all of the pieces at hand to make a perfect storm, so to speak, as we march closer and closer to the election,” said Dr. Roudabeh Kishi, the director of research and innovation for ACLED’s US Crisis Monitor.There were nearly 11,000 demonstrations in the US between May 24 and August 22 – accompanied by terrifying instances of state repression, including the violent removal of protesters outside the White House to make room for a presidential photo-op, and the abduction of protesters by federal agents into unmarked vans driving around Portland, Oregon. There have also been increasing instances of far-right vigilantes confronting left-wing protesters.In the past week, three people have been shot and killed at demonstrations. Last Tuesday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a 17-year-old, marching with a local group of armed vigilantes, allegedly shot and killed two anti-racist protesters and severely injured another. On Saturday, a member of the far-right group Patriot Prayer, which is known for violently attacking leftists in the northwestern US, was shot and killed during a pro-Trump demonstration in Portland.“We’re seeing increased violence, like in the streets, within demonstrations. We’re seeing increased heavy-handedness by the state,” Kishi told HuffPost. “We’re seeing increased proliferation of groups like militias that are taking up arms, some of whom are becoming violent, like we just saw in Kenosha.”There’s been a sharp increase in the state cracking down on protests when compared to last year, Kishi said.In July 2019, when the US was experiencing a wave of unrest over the horrific abuses of immigrants at government detention camps, police or government forces only intervened in about 2% of demonstrations, Kishi said. This July, those forces clamped down on 9% of protests. Kishi said these trends, combined with hostile rhetoric from the White House and the way social media platforms allow extremists to mobilise, make her very worried about the coming months. Right-wing groups have organised about 360 demonstrations in opposition to Black Lives Matter, often under the banner of “Blue Lives Matter.” Some demonstrations were also organised in support of Trump or Confederate statues.  All told, according to ACLED’s data, over 40 of those right-wing demonstrations have resulted in violence since May. This adds to recent findings from the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right, which identified nearly 500 incidents of vigilantes or far-right activists confronting Black Lives Matter demonstrators since May. Those incidents include 64 cases of simple assault, 38 cases of vigilantes driving cars into demonstrators, and nine times that shots were fired at protesters.At least six left-wing protesters have been shot during the demonstrations, three of whom died.The president, meanwhile, has attempted to make “law and order” a central pillar of his re-election campaign, in part by signalling his opposition to the nationwide protests.On Sunday, Trump lashed out against “antifa” and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.“The people of Portland won’t put up with no safety any longer,” Trump tweeted. “The Mayor is a FOOL. Bring in the National Guard!”On Monday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany refused to say whether the president would condemn the killing of two protesters in Kenosha. It’s this type of messaging from the White House, in support of state repression of protests and tacit tolerance of far-right vigilantes, that has Kishi and the team at ACLED so worried.“I think as you’re closer to November, this hyperpolarisation is kind of coming to a front,” Kishi said.The weeks immediately before and after the election could be particularly fraught, Kishi warned, pointing to the possibility of widespread voter suppression and growing uncertainty about whether Americans will accept the election’s results.The US Crisis Monitor hopes to be around to track the political unrest come November. Funding for the project is set to dry up in a matter of weeks, but Kishi and her team are pursuing more funding to continue their work.
Sir Ed Davey has been elected as the fifth Liberal Democrat leader in as many years.Davey overwhelmingly beat the challenge of Layla Moran to succeed Jo Swinson as party leader after Swinson dramatically lost her East Dunbartonshire seat in last December’s election.The result was announced at a virtual event in central London due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions.Davey, who was already acting leader, won 42,756 votes, comfortably beating Moran, who garnered 24,564 on a turnout of 57.6%.The Liberal Democrats won just 11 seats last year. An internal inquiry into the party’s poor performance likened the campaign to a “high-speed car crash”, and the new leader will be aiming to turn the party’s fortunes around.Speaking at the result declaration, Davey said: “I’m determined our party backs a Britain that works with other countries across the world for peace and prosperity.“But it is my love of our party that makes me recognise that we have to change.“We have to wake up and smell the coffee. Nationally, our party has lost touch with too many voters.“Yes, we are powerful advocates locally. Our campaigners listen to local people, work hard for communities and deliver results.“But at the national level, we have to face the facts of three disappointing general election results.“Nationally, voters have been sending us a message. But we have not been listening.“It is time for us to start listening. As leader I am telling you: I have got that message. I am listening now.”At a Lib Dem hustings chaired by HuffPost UK’s Ned Simons on Friday, Davey promised he would promote Moran if he was crowned leader.The Kingston and Surbiton MP is an experienced politician and former cabinet minister who entered the Commons in 1997.He was a business minister under former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg during the coalition years, and then moved to the job of energy secretary in 2012.Davey has temporarily co-led the party with Lib Dem peer Baroness Sal Brinton since Swinson stepped down in 2019.As the months-long contest drew to a close, with voting finishing at 1pm on Wednesday, Davey said: “The next leader faces a huge job to rebuild the party, take on the Conservatives and get the party winning nationally again.“This contest has put both candidates through our paces and made sure that the victor is battle-tested for this tough job ahead.”He beat the challenge of Oxford West and Abingdon MP Moran, who entered the Commons in 2017.Liberal Democrat members had been able to vote for their preferred leader from July 30.Related... Corbyn's Office Ordered Defunding Of 'Moderate' Labour MPs In 2017 Election Campaign Matt Hancock Defends Working From Home – Despite No.10 Concerns About 'Ghost Towns' Government U-Turn As £182 To Be Paid To Quarantine In High-Risk Areas
Coronavirus has changed everything. Make sense of it all with the Waugh Zone, our evening politics briefing. Sign up now.Matt Hancock has defended working from home as long as people are doing their jobs “effectively” – despite concerns from No.10 and businesses about city centre “ghost towns”.The health secretary said he had “no idea” how many of his department’s staff were coming to the office, adding: “What I care about is how effectively people work.”But Hancock insisted that he did not disagree with Boris Johnson, who earlier this month stressed that people “should be going back to work” in England as the government lifted its advice to “work from home if you can”, issued as coronavirus took hold in the UK.It came as CBI boss Carolyn Fairbairn urged the government to do more to get people back into city centre offices, warning jobs at firms like sandwich bars and dry cleaners are at stake if city centres continue resembling “ghost towns”.Hancock said “of course” he would work with the CBI to try and encourage more people back into work.But he stressed his primary concern for Department of Health and Social Care staff was performance. He told Times Radio: “Obviously people should come back to the office if that is what they need to do their job and also obviously employers need to make sure the offices are Covid-secure, as we have obviously at the Department of Health [sic] as you would fully expect us to.“What I care about is that people perform. “And so the people I work with, some of them have been working from home, some come in sometimes, some are in full time. “And what matters to me is that they deliver.”The health secretary also praised civil servants’ work ethic amid a row over the sacking of Department for Education permanent secretary Jonathan Slater over the exams debacle.Dave Penman, leader of the FDA union which represents senior public servants, has accused No.10 of throwing civil service leaders “under a bus” to “shield” ministers like education secretary Gavin Williamson, who has come under fire over exams and face masks in school.Hancock said of the officials in his department: “Frankly, they’ve been delivering at an unbelievable rate. “There’s sometimes this caricature that the people who work in the civil service work nine to five days. It’s just completely untrue in my experience and people are working incredibly hard because ultimately it’s a mission-driven job.” Asked if he disagreed with Johnson urging people to come back to the office where possible, Hancock said: “No, exactly as you put it – where you can.“This has got to be done across the board, if you think about the nation as a whole, it’s got to be done in a Covid-secure way but employers are doing that and the rules are clear about that.“We’ve reverted the employment rules back to their normal position.“I’ve seen the CBI put out a statement yesterday saying people need to get back to the office and I have been talking to the chief of the CBI about what more we can do in addition to saying that the rules are this is a matter for employers as  long as the place of employment is Covid-secure.“Of course we will work with the CBI on the things that they want to see to help make this happen.”Related... Matt Hancock's Local Lockdown Plan Rejected By Northern Leaders As A 'Recipe For Chaos' Corbyn's Office Ordered Defunding Of 'Moderate' Labour MPs In 2017 Election Campaign Government U-Turn As £182 To Be Paid To Quarantine In High-Risk Areas
Boris Johnson and his culture secretary Oliver Dowden have warned the BBC against any moves to drop Rule Britannia from the Last Night of the Proms.The broadcaster is reportedly considering ditching the flag-waving anthem from the end-of-summer classical music concert, amid concerns that the song’s refrain “Britons never, never, never shall be slaves” is racist.But the prime minister’s spokesperson said while scheduling was a matter for the BBC and the Proms organisers, he was clear in his view that “substance” was more important than “symbols” on such issues.And Dowden went even further, revealing he had raised concerns with the BBC and declaring that “confident forward-looking nations don’t erase their history, they add to it”.The PM’s spokesperson pointed to the PM’s previous remarks on the toppling of statues of slave owners and colonialists earlier this summer, when Johnson said it was wrong to “censor our past” and claimed protests had been “hijacked by extremists”.The Sunday Times revealed that the BBC is looking at axeing both Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory from this year’s Proms finale in three weeks’ time.Conductor Dalia Stasevska is said to believe this year’s ceremony without an audience is “the perfect moment to bring change”, while academics, musicians and campaigners have said the “racist propaganda” of both songs should be ended.Dowden tweeted that both songs were “highlights” of the event and he shared the concerns expressed by some about the planned change.Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory are highlights of the Last Night of the Proms Share concerns of many about their potential removal and have raised this with @BBCConfident forward-looking nations don’t erase their history, they add to it— Oliver Dowden (@OliverDowden) August 24, 2020Asked directly about the row, the PM’s spokesperson said: “The specific decision on this case is a matter for the organisers of the Proms and the BBC.“But the PM has set out his views on like issues previously and has been clear while he understands the strong emotion involved in these discussions, we need to tackle the substance of problems, not the symbols.“The PM’s words on like issues previously stand.”Asked whether he was referring to statues, the spokesperson said: “Yes. You have his words on similar issues previously.”Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Kehinde Andrews, a black studies professor at Birmingham City University, said it was time the anthems were ditched.“I don’t think it’s about banning the songs – it’s about saying what songs are appropriate,” he said.″‘Britons never, never, never shall be slaves’ – that’s racist propaganda at a time when Britain was the leading slave trading nation in the world.”Musicians Chi-chi Nwanoku, who founded the first BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) majority orchestra in Europe, and Wasfi Kani, founder of Grange Park Opera in Surrey, have also expressed their opposition to the language in the songs.When No.10 has been pressed previously on whether the PM would apologise for his own controversial comments on ethnic minorities – such as referring to Black Africans as having “watermelon smiles” – his official spokesperson has said such remarks were “addressed during the election campaign”.The BBC said in a statement: “We are still finalising arrangements for the Last Night Of Rhe Proms so that we are able to respond to the latest advice in regards to Covid-19 and deliver the best offering possible for audiences.“We have announced that conductor Dalia Stasevska, soprano Golda Schultz and the BBC Symphony Orchestra will perform at the Last Night Of The Proms this year. Full details will be announced nearer the time of the concert (September 12).”Related... 5 Times Boris Johnson Most Definitely Did Believe In Gestures Sculpture Of Black Lives Matter Protester Removed From Edward Colston Plinth Iconic Black Radio Station Choice FM To Get Blue Plaque – After Rebrand 'Erased' Its History
Robert Trump, the younger brother of US president Donald Trump died on Saturday night, a day after the president visited him in a New York hospital.President Trump announced the death in a statement.“It is with heavy heart I share that my wonderful brother, Robert, peacefully passed away tonight. He was not just my brother, he was my best friend,” the president said.“He will be greatly missed, but we will meet again. His memory will live on in my heart forever. Robert, I love you. Rest in peace,” Trump said.Robert Trump, who at 71 was younger than the 74-year-old president, was a business executive and property developer. Unlike his reality TV star brother, Robert Trump shunned the limelight.President Trump visited his ailing brother on Friday at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center before going to his golf club at Bedminster, New Jersey, for the weekend.The president was expected to attend the funeral, an aide said. He has a busy travel schedule in coming days with plans to visit four battleground states as part of his re-election campaign.The cause of death was not revealed. Trump told reporters on Friday that his brother was “having a hard time” with an undisclosed illness. A person familiar with the situation said the brother had been on blood thinners.ABC News had reported that Robert Trump was hospitalized in the intensive care unit at Mount Sinai hospital in New York for more than a week in June.That month, Robert Trump won a temporary restraining order against his and the president’s niece, Mary Trump, to stop her from publishing a tell-all book that offered an unflattering look of the president and his family.A state supreme court judge in Poughkeepsie, New York, later denied a request to stop publication and canceled the temporary restraining order.Robert Trump had said the book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” would violate a confidentiality agreement tied to the estate of his father Fred Trump Sr, who died in 1999.The New York Post reported in March that Robert Trump had married his second wife, Ann Marie Pallan, and that they lived in a country home on Long Island.Two of Donald Trump’s children shared tributes to their uncle on social media in the wake of this death.“Robert Trump was an incredible man - strong, kind and loyal to the core. Anyone who encountered him felt his warmth immediately. He will be deeply missed by our entire family,” said Eric Trump in a tweet.“Uncle Robert, we love you. You are in our hearts and prayers, always,” tweeted Ivanka Trump.Related... Trump’s Latest Claim About Helping Women Gets Ripped Apart Barack Obama Criticises Donald Trump's Attack On Mail-In Voting Trump Had No Response When Asked If He Regrets All His Lies
US president Donald Trump has made another embarrassing verbal blunder which sent Twitter alight.On Thursday, Trump spoke at a Whirlpool factory in Clyde, Ohio, where he griped about corporations sending jobs overseas to countries like “Thighland” and Vietnam.As the video clip shows, the president quickly corrected himself.President Trump pronounces Thailand "thigh land" before correcting himself."— The Hill (@thehill) August 6, 2020 As you might expect, the misspeak amused many on social media, especially since it came just days after Trump mispronounced the name of Yosemite National Park as “Yo-Semites.” Thighland is the home of the Yo Semites.— Paul Begala (@PaulBegala) August 6, 2020Good thing there wasn't a geography portion on that cognitive test.— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) August 6, 2020I used to frequent a strip club called "Thighland". Great happy hour.— ralphgarman (@RalphGarman) August 6, 2020Thighland is my favorite country after Assganistan.— Alexis Boucher (@alexis_b82) August 6, 2020 The US president said: “Four or five years ago this place was a disaster. In 2017 Whirlpool won relief from the ITC (US International Trade Commission) once again. Once more, your foreign competitors moved their factories to prevent a level playing field, and to avoid liability.“Shifting production to Thighland, and to Vietnam ...”Trump then repeated himself to correct the pronunciation of Thailand, adding: “Two places that – I like their leaders very much – do they take advantage of the United States? Not so much anymore.”Earlier in the day, Trump launched a deeply personal attack on Joe Biden, even questioning without foundation the former vice president’s faith in God. Even for a president known for his blunt criticism, Trump’s remarks stood out and they signalled how contentious his election campaign may get over the coming months.“He’s against God. He’s against guns. He’s against energy, our kind of energy. I don’t think he’s going to do too well in Ohio,” Trump said.Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates responded to Trump’s comments by saying: “Joe Biden’s faith is at the core of who he is; he’s lived it with dignity his entire life, and it’s been a source of strength and comfort in times of extreme hardship.” Bates also accused Trump of using a Bible “for his own cynical optics as he sought to tear our nation apart at a moment of crisis and pain”, a reference to when federal law enforcement officers drove protesters out of Lafayette Square shortly before a photo opportunity in which Trump held a Bible.Related... Donald Trump Thinks Joe Biden, A Practising Catholic, Will 'Hurt God' This Expert Thinks Trump Will Lose The Election. Here's Why Facebook Removes Trump's Post For First Time Over 'Virtually Immune' Coronavirus Claim
Coronavirus has changed everything. Make sense of it all with the Waugh Zone, our evening politics briefing. Sign up now. The government has insisted it has “robust” security systems in place, following reports that secret documents detailing trade talks between the UK and US were stolen from former trade secretary Liam Fox.On Monday, Reuters reported suspected Russian hackers had accessed Fox’s emails multiple times last year.Fox is currently the UK’s nominee to lead the World Trade Organisation (WTO).The documents, which were leaked, were seized upon by Jeremy Corbyn during the 2019 election campaign as proof Tories were hatching a trade deal with Donald Trump to “sell off” the NHS to American private health and drug firms.There is no suggestion that Labour was in any way involved in the original leak of the papers.Dominic Raab announced last month that the UK’s intelligence assessment was that “Russian actors” – a way of describing hostile hackers as opposed to Moscow’s intelligence agencies – had “almost certainly” sought to interfere in the election by “amplifying” the documents online.A government spokesperson said today: “There is an ongoing criminal investigation into how the documents were acquired, and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this point.“But, as you would expect, the government has very robust systems in place to protect the IT systems of officials and staff.”Fox served as international trade secretary from July 2016 until July 2019, having previously been the defence secretary. The former cabinet minister has been contacted for comment.Parliament’s intelligence and security committee (ISC) recently accused the government of being too slow to recognise the potential threat posed by Russia to British democratic processes.The committee said ministers did not properly consider whether Moscow could interfere in the Brexit referendum until after the event.The ISC report found that the government “took its eye off the ball” of the Russian threat, underestimated its dangers and was “still playing catch-up” on attempted manipulation of British democracy.Related... London And Other Areas Could Face Travel Lockdown, No.10 Confirms
A former Republican presidential candidate and staunch supporter of Donald Trump who refused to wear a mask during the coronavirus pandemic has died of the disease.Herman Cain learned of his diagnosis on June 29, nine days after attending a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he and many others crowded together without wearing face masks.He spent most of July in an Atlanta-area hospital, Reuters reports.Just before announcing his diagnosis on July 2, Cain posted support for not mandating masks at a July 4 event at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota that Trump was planning to attend.“Masks will not be mandatory for the event, which will be attended by President Trump. PEOPLE ARE FED UP!” he tweeted.The tweet has since been deleted.Someone deleted the following July 1 tweet from Herman Cain's account:“Masks will not be mandatory for the event, which will be attended by President Trump. PEOPLE ARE FED UP!”— Pé (@4everNeverTrump) July 30, 2020Many Trump supporters have rejected the advice of public health experts and refused to wear face masks, which can prevent the spread of the virus, making their defiance a type of political statement.“We’re heartbroken, and the world is poorer: Herman Cain has gone to be with the Lord,” a statement on his website said.Messages of condolences poured in from prominent conservatives, while some liberals used the occasion to promote the wearing of masks.“Herman Cain will be missed, he was one of the greatest conservative voices of all time. I’ll never forget his smiling face,” Jenny Beth Martin, a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, said on Twitter.Cain, who called himself an ABC man - “American Black Conservative” - had just started hosting a new show on Newsmax TV and hoped to play a role in the 2020 presidential election campaign, the statement said.He made his fortune as chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza and led some polls early in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, buoyed by his signature 9-9-9 proposal for a flat 9% corporate, income and sales tax.During the 2016 presidential campaign, he became a supporter of Trump, who last year planned to nominate Cain to a seat on the powerful US Federal Reserve Board, which sets benchmark interest rates.The potential nomination faced immediate resistance, even within the Republican Party, as critics expressed concerns about Trump loyalists serving on the traditionally nonpartisan board.Cain subsequently withdrew, citing what he said would be a decrease in influence and pay.Related... Donald Trump Just Hinted He Wants To Delay The US Election Trump Gloats As He Tells Mostly White People They Won't Have To Live Near Poor Black People
Donald Trump has vowed to send a “surge” of federal agents to US cities – a move he portrayed as a crackdown on violence and crime. It has proven extremely controversial among campaigners and opposition politicians.Here’s what has been going on in the US, and why the president has chosen this action now.What did Donald Trump announce? On Wednesday, the president announced he would deploy a “surge” of federal agents to Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico.Hundreds have already been sent to Kansas City, Missouri, as part of “Operation Legend” following the fatal shooting of a young boy there.Operation Legend is named after LeGend Taliferro, a four-year-old boy who was killed in June by a stray bullet while he slept. The FBI is still searching for suspects.Federal security forces have also been sent to Portland, Oregon, in recent weeks following two months of anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in May. But local authorities have said the presence of federal agents on the streets of Portland has only exacerbated tensions and helped escalate civil unrest, with reports of protesters being masked and bundled into unmarked vehicles by agents.Despite this, Trump wants to expand his “Operation Legend” programme to more cities.He told reporters in the White House: “In recent weeks, there has been a radical movement to defund, dismantle, and dissolve our police departments. Extreme politicians have joined this anti-police crusade and relentlessly vilified our law enforcement heroes.”The president claimed: “To look at it from any standpoint, the effort to shut down policing in their own communities has led to a shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders, and heinous crimes of violence. This bloodshed must end. This bloodshed will end.“Today, I’m announcing a surge of federal law enforcement into American communities plagued by violent crime.”  Trump painted Democrat-led cities as out of control, lashing out at the “radical left”, which he blamed for rising violence in some cities. Crime reports *did* go up in some cities like Chicago, New York and Philadelphia when stay-at-home orders lifted, the Associated Press reported. However, criminal justice experts have pointed to the unprecedented moment: a pandemic that has killed over 140,000 Americans, historic unemployment, a mass reckoning over race and police brutality, intense stress and even the weather.Compared with other years, crime in 2020 is down overall.On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted: “We will continue to defend our constitutional rights from Trump’s lawlessness – in Portland, Chicago and wherever else necessary.” We will continue to defend our constitutional rights from Trump’s lawlessness — in Portland, Chicago, and wherever else necessary.— ACLU (@ACLU) July 22, 2020What do the leaders of Chicago and Albuquerque think about Trump’s plans? Both Trump and Attorney General William Barr insisted that the “surge” of federal agents being sent to Chicago and Albuquerque would be different to the operations in Portland. The president said: “The DHS mission in Portland is to protect federal property and our law enforcement officers. In Chicago, the mission is to protect the public from violent crime on the streets.”Meanwhile, Barr said the federal agents would serve as “street” agents and investigators who would be working to “solve murders and take down violent gangs”.“This is different than the operations and tactical teams we use to defend against riots and mob violence,” Barr said.“We will continue to confront mob violence. But the operations we are discussing today are very different – they are classic crime fighting.”However, it’s fair to say that the leaders of Chicago and Albuquerque didn’t seem entirely convinced by this reassurance. Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot and New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, both Democrats, said they would only welcome help from federal agents if they actually assisted law enforcement with community policing and public safety.Both threatened legal action if federal agents were used to crack down on protests, as they have been in Portland.  “If the Trump administration wishes to antagonise New Mexicans and Americans with authoritarian, unnecessary and unaccountable military-style ‘crackdowns,’ they have no business whatsoever in New Mexico,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. What has been happening in Portland? Since the death of George Floyd in May, Portland has seen almost two months of anti-racism protests. In July, Trump sent federal law enforcement officers to the city, vowing to “quell” unrest. In the US, HuffPost journalists have reported how federal agents terrorised peaceful protesters, bundling them into unmarked vehicles without probable cause and pulling masks over their faces. The actions have alarmed members of Congress, with House majority whip James Clyburn calling it “the activity of a police state”.Meanwhile, representative Joaquin Castro tweeted: “This is what dictators do.” On Sunday night, dozens of women – some of whom were reported to be pregnant – formed a human shield against the federal agents outside the city’s courthouse, calling themselves a “wall of moms”. Federal agents were filmed using batons and tear gas to try and disperse the women. Why is Donald Trump doing this now? Wondering whether it’s a coincidence that Donald Trump – whose approval rating has plummeted over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic – has launched a new law and order programme just a few months before he runs for re-election as president? According to the Associated Press, the decision to dispatch federal agents to American cities comes at a “hyper-politicised” moment when the Trump is grasping for a new re-election campaign after the Covid-19 pandemic upended the economy.Trump has already claimed that violence on the streets will worsen if Democratic candidate Joe Biden is elected as president in November. But Leon Panetta, a former defence secretary and CIA director, told The Guardian: “One of the last holdouts for tyrants is to try to have the military be able to protect them, and that fear that he may try to do that raises a lot of concerns about just how far will he go to try to ‘take over’ a lot of these cities and states in terms of their ability to conduct law enforcement on their own.”Related... 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