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Wicked Blue

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Gender: Female
Hometown: Maryland
Home country: United States
Member since: Tue Aug 11, 2020, 08:58 PM
Number of posts: 5,066

Journal Archives

Facebook's new 'Supreme Court' knocks content rules as vague and incomplete in first rulings

Washington Post
By Elizabeth Dwoskin and Craig Timberg
Jan. 28, 2021 at 10:26 a.m. EST

Facebook’s new Oversight Board found company content moderation policies vague and poorly communicated in its first set of decisions released Thursday, overruling the company’s actions in four of the five cases it decided in its initial round of cases.

The actions covered a range of issues that have vexed social media companies — alleged hate speech, coronavirus misinformation and references to dangerous organizations and people — and included one case in which an automated detection system apparently overreacted to an image of an uncovered female nipple in a breast-cancer awareness campaign.

Taken together, the rulings suggest the oversight board is going to demand greater clarity and transparency from Facebook in the tiny sliver of cases it chooses to review. The board is also weighing Facebook’s ban of President Donald Trump following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, though a decision in that case is not likely for months. The five cases decided Thursday all date to October or November of last year.

“We often found that the community standards as written are incomplete,” said board member Sudhir Krishnaswamy, vice-chancellor of the National Law School of India University, in an interview with The Washington Post.


Police raid Navalny offices, home as Russia fines social media platforms


Russian police raided the Moscow offices of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny's group on Wednesday and came to search several other properties, including a flat where his wife was, as the country's media watchdog said it would fine social media platforms for spreading protest calls.

The police searches come after tens of thousands of Navalny's supporters took to the streets on Saturday to call on the Kremlin to release him from jail where he is serving a 30-day stint for alleged parole violations that he denies.

Police had said the protests were illegal and detained close to 4,000 people. More than a dozen criminal cases have been opened. Navalny's allies plan to hold another rally this Sunday.

Ivan Zhdanov, director of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, said police appeared to be conducting the searches as part of an investigation into calls made to hold a protest that flouted restrictions imposed over the Covid-19 pandemic.


Prices at Trump's NYC buildings have plummeted in the latest sign that his name is 'radioactive'

Business Insider
Juliana Kaplan

After a tumultuous one-term presidency, a violent insurrection by supporters, and a retirement to Florida, the Trump name has attracted some negative connotations. And his real-estate holdings are feeling the heat: According to Curbed's analysis of a report from real-estate data firm UrbanDigs, Trump-branded Manhattan properties have lost half their value since Trump first took office.

UrbanDigs — which looked at the seven luxury buildings in Manhattan that still bear the Trump moniker, and three that used to — found that even properties that formerly had Trump in their names lost 17% of their value since 2016. By comparison, the overall price per square foot decline in Manhattan over the same period was just 9%.

In 2016, the average price per square foot in seven NYC properties run by his real-estate behemoth, the Trump Organization, was $3,346, according to the report. In 2017, following Trump's election and inauguration, that figure sunk to $1,903; by 2020, it was at $1,619. That's a drop of 51% from its 2016 price.

The average price per square foot for Manhattan properties was $1,995 in 2016, dipping to $1,815 in 2020 — a mere 9% decrease, Curbed notes.


Toll of death, injuries from Capitol attack stands at more than 140 police officers, prosecutors and

By Tom Jackman

The toll of death and injuries for the police officers involved in defending the U.S. Capitol in Washington during the Jan. 6 attack by a pro-Trump mob has risen to more than 140, according to federal and police authorities.

“I have officers who were not issued helmets prior to the attack who have sustained head injuries. One officer has two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal discs and another was stabbed with a metal fence stake, to name some of the injuries,” Gus Papathanasiou, chairman of the Capitol Police officers union, said in a statement Wednesday,

In addition to the death of one Capitol Police officer, according to federal prosecutors, more than 80 Capitol Police officers were assaulted.

About 65 officers from the D.C. police also suffered injuries, including several concussions from head blows from various objects, including metal poles ripped from inauguration-related scaffolding and even a pole with an American flag attached, D.C. police officials said. Other injuries included swollen ankles and wrists, bruised arms and legs, and irritated lungs from bear and pepper spray.


First lady Jill Biden expected to take active role in immigrant family reunification

By Jim Acosta, Kate Bennett and Priscilla Alvarez, CNN

The Biden administration's planned task force aimed at reuniting children who were separated from their parents at the border under the Trump-era enforcement policies will include input from first lady Jill Biden, according to three sources familiar with the planning.

Biden is tasking her East Wing with taking an active role in the reunification project. Her interest in the task force could offer something of a stark contrast with former first lady Melania Trump.

Trump made her first trip to visit a border facility for children and families in Texas in June 2018 in the midst of the zero-tolerance separation controversy, but did so wearing a jacket emblazoned with the words, "I really don't care. Do U?" The jacket spawned a news cycle of its own, drawing attention away from Trump's objective for the visit, and helping create a public perception of a first lady disinterested in the issue. In an interview several months after her border trip, Trump called the separation of families, "unacceptable" and "heartbreaking."

The current first lady's upcoming involvement in the issue and its targeted task force will lend visibility to the mission of reuniting children with their parents, which remains a crisis for many families. Lawyers are still unable to reach the parents of 611 children who had been split from their families by US border officials between 2017 and 2018, according to the latest court filing. The Justice Department also officially rescinded the policy Tuesday in a memo to federal prosecutors, even though it had already been ended.


Fed Stresses Its Commitment to Low Rates for the Long Run

Source: NBCWashington

By Christopher Rugaber

The Federal Reserve pledged on Wednesday to keep its low interest rate policies in place even well after the economy has sustained a recovery from the viral pandemic.

The Fed said in a statement after its latest policy meeting that the improvement in the economy and job market has slowed in recent months, particularly in industries affected by the raging pandemic. The officials kept their benchmark short-term rate pegged near zero and said they would keep buying Treasury and mortgage bonds to restrain longer-term borrowing rates and support the economy.

The policymakers also warned that the virus poses risks to the economy and removed phrases from their previous statement that had said the pandemic was weighing on the economy in the “near term” and that it posed risks “over the medium term." The removal of these phrases suggests that Fed officials aren't sure how long the uncertainty will last.

For now, the job market, in particular, is faltering, with nearly 10 million jobs still lost to the pandemic, which erupted 10 months ago. Hiring has slowed for six straight months, and employers shed jobs in December for the first time since April. The job market has sputtered as the pandemic and colder weather have discouraged Americans from traveling, shopping, dining out or visiting entertainment venues. Retail sales have declined for three straight months.

Read more: https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/national-international/fed-stresses-its-commitment-to-low-rates-for-the-long-run/2553314/

House opens investigation of pandemic ventilator purchases overseen by White House

Washington Post
By Reed Albergotti and Aaron Gregg
Jan. 27, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. EST

A House subcommittee is investigating a government deal to buy $70 million worth of ventilators for the coronavirus pandemic response that a Washington Post investigation found were inadequate for treating most covid-19 patients.

Last spring, as part of its effort to increase the number of ventilators amid the crisis, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Defense Logistics Agency purchased 11,200 AutoMedx SAVe II+ ventilators from Combat Medical Systems, which distributes the devices. But the ventilators were inadequate for treating covid-19 patients and remain in warehouses, according to Stephanie Bialek, a spokeswoman for the Strategic National Stockpile.

“AutoMedx appears to be the beneficiary of a potentially tainted procurement process,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), the chairman of the House subcommittee on economic and consumer policy, which is in charge of the investigation, wrote in letters sent to the companies on Wednesday.

The Post previously reported that Adrian Urias, AutoMedx’s co-founder and current shareholder, advised the Trump administration’s covid-19 task force on ventilator purchases. In March, when the government posted the minimum specifications that ventilator manufacturers had to meet to sell devices for the pandemic response, those specifications were nearly identical to a spec sheet listed on AutoMedx’s website at the time.


Rebekah Mercer Raised Specter of "Armed Conflict" in 2019 Book

The Intercept
Matthew Cunningham-Cook
January 27 2021, 6:00 a.m.

Joe Biden has been sworn in as president, but the divisions exemplified by the January 6 assault on the Capitol are here to stay, if billionaire heir and far-right financier Rebekah Mercer has any say in the matter. That’s according to her little-publicized 2019 book “What I Believe,” a transcription of a speech she gave in 2018 to the right-wing publishing house Encounter Books.

“[W]hat is the state of [the American] experiment today?” Mercer asked. “‘Now we are engaged in a great civil war,’ said Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg in 1863. One hundred and fifty-five years later, it is barely hyperbolic to echo the Great Emancipator.” Raising the specter of violence, Mercer writes, “We are not yet in armed conflict, but we are facing an ever more belligerent, frantic, and absurd group of radicals in a struggle for the soul of our country,” referring to antifa specifically and casting her opposition to progressives more broadly in existential terms.

Mercer has been financing a host of right-wing individuals and groups involved in the storming of the Capitol, The Intercept reported earlier this month, from Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward to “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander, in addition to her role as a financier of news website Breitbart and the social network Parler. In 2020, Mercer’s father, Robert Mercer, donated $1.5 million to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, and the Mercers donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Republican National Committee.

The far right has used extensive “civil war” rhetoric, including on January 6. “How we got to this point is that fascist billionaires like Rebekah Mercer have bankrolled and fueled the rise of violent white supremacist and authoritarian forces in this country,” said Saqib Bhatti, the co-executive director of the Action Center on Race & the Economy. “Mercer co-founded Parler, the app that fascists used to plan violent demonstrations before it was shut down. She and her family have helped fund reactionary causes and candidates, including one of the patron saints of the insurrection at the Capitol, Ted Cruz. Mercer is not warning us against armed conflict, she is threatening us with it.”


Palm Beach Conducting 'Legal Review' Of Trump's Use Of Mar-A-Lago As A Residence

By S.V. Date

The town of Palm Beach, Florida, is reviewing Donald Trump’s use of his Mar-a-Lago Club as a residence, even as the former president is set to once again violate a length-of-stay provision he himself agreed to three decades ago.

At 11:32 a.m. Wednesday, Trump will have been at his property for more than seven consecutive days in 2021, having arrived a week earlier, half an hour before his successor, Joe Biden, was sworn in at the U.S. Capitol.

A 1993 “special exception use” permit that Trump signed, allowing him to convert the mansion into a for-profit social club, stipulated that only 10 guest accommodations were allowed, and that no one would stay there longer than seven days, and not more than three times a year.

Palm Beach Mayor Kirk Blouin told HuffPost that Trump’s apparent decision to live there permanently is being examined by the town’s lawyer. “This matter is under legal review by our Town Attorney, John ‘Skip’ Randolph,” Blouin said, adding that the matter may come before the town council at its Feb. 8 meeting.


Pressure builds on Biden, Democrats to revive net neutrality rules

Washington Post
By Tony Romm
Jan. 27, 2021 at 8:00 a.m. EST

More than three years ago, Jessica Rosenworcel could only react in horror as her Republican counterparts on the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the U.S. government’s net neutrality rules.

“There is no shortage of people who believe Washington is not listening to their concerns, their fears and their desires,” Rosenworcel, a Democratic member of the FCC, said in a speech at the time. “Add this agency to the list.”

Now, Rosenworcel controls the very commission she once criticized for failing to heed the public’s outcry. And her stewardship — along with Democrats’ broader resurgence in Washington — has brought new, sky-high expectations that the party deliver on its past promises, restore open-Internet protections and resolve one of the most intractable policy battles in the digital age.

For more than two decades, Democrats and Republicans have warred over net neutrality, the idea that Internet providers should treat all Web traffic equally. At a time when the pandemic has forced Americans to learn and work online, Democrats see the Internet as an indispensable utility and stress that in some cases, it should be regulated like one. Republicans generally balk at that approach, siding with telecom giants including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon that say they believe in the principles of Internet openness — but oppose stiff federal rules to enforce them.

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