Posts tagged with "The Huffington Post"

Twitter whacks 32,000 state-linked agitprop accounts from Russia, China, and Turkey

June 15, 2020

Twitter has announced that it has shut down 32,242 accounts linked to the governments of Russia, China and Turkey that are peddling disinformation, The Huffington Post reports.

“Every account and piece of content associated” with “three distinct operations … attributed to the People’s Republic of China, Russia and Turkey” have been “permanently removed from the service,” the social media company said in a statement on Thursday, June 11.

Twitter and other social media companies were harshly criticized in the wake of the 2016 presidential election for failing to curb propaganda—especially from accounts launched by the Kremlin in an apparent bid to sway the election in Donald Trump’s favor.

Twitter on Thursday reemphasized the company’s vow to provide more vigorous and transparent action to weed out false conversations being peddled to manipulate a nation’s politics.

“Ultimately our goal is to serve the public conversation, remove bad faith actors, and to advance public understanding of these critical topics,” Twitter said. 

According to the HuffPost, the social media platform went on to note, “We’re disclosing new state-linked information operations to our public archive — the only one of its kind in the industry. Originating from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Russia, and Turkey, all associated accounts and content have been removed. https://blog.twitter.com/en_us/topics/company/2020/information-operations-june-2020.html 

Twitter provided few details about specific content campaigns, and most of the affected accounts appeared to be aimed at manipulating citizens inside the three nations.

Specifically, Twitter removed 1,152 accounts (which, the company said, had tweeted 3.4 million times) associated with Current Policy, a “media website engaging in state-backed political propaganda within Russia,” including activities “promoting the United Russia party and attacking political dissidents,” according to the company.

The accounts, which also disseminated “anti-Western content,” violated Twitter policy because they engaged in “cross-posting and amplifying content in an inauthentic, coordinated manner for political ends,” the company said.

The 7,340 “fake and compromised accounts” in Turkey (which tweeted 36.9 million times) were linked to the youth wing of the ruling Justice and Development Party, and were used primarily to “amplify political narratives favorable” to the ruling party and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to Twitter.

The 23,750 accounts (tweeted 348,608 times) linked to the Chinese government were tweeting mostly in Chinese languages and “spreading geopolitical narratives favorable to the Communist Party of China, while continuing to push deceptive narratives about the political dynamics in Hong Kong,” Twitter said. Tweets also praised China’s response to COVID-19, especially compared with how the U.S. or Taiwan addressed the pandemic.

The Huffington Post notes that the messages removed by Twitter have been archived for study and have been shared with researchers at the Internet Observatory of Stanford University and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Research contact: @HuffPost

 

 

On the waterfront during COVID-19: Keeping safe this summer

May 28, 2020

Hot weather is here—and with it, the promise of a refreshing dip at nearby pools, beaches, hot tubs, and water parks. But before you catch a wave, or make a splashdown, you might want to check on whether “freestyle” water sports will be safe this season, The Huffington Post reports.

But there is some good news at the start of the season: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionno evidence has emerged to suggest that you can contract the coronavirus from the water, itself.

“There is no data that somebody got infected this way [with coronavirus],” Professor Karin B. Michels, chair of UCLA’s Department of Epidemiology, stated in a recent interview with The Los Angeles Times.

“I can’t say it’s absolutely 100% zero risk, but I can tell you that it would never cross my mind to get COVID-19 from a swimming pool or the ocean,” agreed Paula Cannon, a professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. “It’s just extraordinarily unlikely that this would happen.”

That said, the HuffPost notes, some safety measures and health warnings should still be kept in mind before you take a dip. Here’s what you should know:

Some experts suspected at the beginning of the pandemic that the coronavirus could dissipate in the warmer months, similar to the flu and other viruses. However, that’s yet to be determined.

The CDC states that hotter temperatures—those above 75 degrees—do not kill the virus. The disease can also still spread in warmer, humid climates. So don’t use sunbathing at the pool or the beach as an excuse to not practice healthy habits or follow pandemic guidelines.

Being outside and in the water is not completely risk-free, although it is better than staying in a more confined space. The CDC advises that you should avoid “group events, gatherings, or meetings both in and out of the water if social distancing of at least six feet between people who don’t live together cannot be maintained.”

Exceptions to this rule only include emergency evacuations and cases where someone is rescuing a distressed swimmer; or providing medical help or first aid, the HuffPost reports.

What’s more, all high-touch surfaces—such as handrails and chairs—should be regularly disinfected. If you’re swimming in your own pool or a family pool, you should make sure to wipe those areas down regularly.

Proper water maintenance also is important. The regular amount of chlorine used to treat pools should be enough to inactivate the virus, The Los Angeles Times reported.

There’s a chance that the virus can be spread when an infected person—even those who are asymptomatic―expels respiratory droplets onto surfaces and then someone else touches the same surface. (Although how easily the virus can spread when touching surfaces has been called into question recently, it’s better to assume right now that you could be susceptible to transmission in such a manner.)

It’s best to limit contact where possible, which means you should absolutely not share items like floats, masks, googles, snorkeling equipment (even with people who are in your own house). Bring or use your own, and be sure to disinfect them regularly.

Pool operators and people who will be in close proximity to others outside of the water are encouraged to wear a maskaccording to the CDC. Take it off once you get in the water—swimming with such a face covering can make it difficult to breathe.

With those safeguards, for now, you can dive on in. The water’s fine.

Research contact: @HuffPostLife

Governors call Trump’s testing claims ‘delusional’ and ‘absolutely false’

April 21, 2020

Although President Donald Trump is pushing to “reopen” parts of the country by May 1, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) and California Governor Gavin Newsom (D), along with the leaders of six other states and the District of Columbia, already have extended their COVID-19 lockdowns through May 15.

What’s more, several governors are not mincing words about their opinion of the president’s decision, The Huffington Post reports.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D)—who has extended the lockdown for his state’s residents to June 10 and has instructed non-essential business to remain closed at least through May 8—on Sunday told CNN’s Jake Tapper it was “delusional” for President Donald Trump to claim the U.S. currently has the testing capacity needed for states to relax social distancing measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Maryland’s Republican leader, Governor Larry Hogan, told Tapper that Trump’s claim “is just absolutely false.” “It’s not accurate to say there’s plenty of testing out there and the governors should just get it done,” Hogan said. “That’s just not being straightforward … Every governor in America has been pushing and fighting and clawing to get more tests.”

Hogan added, “Look, we have increased our testing in Maryland by 5,000% over the past month, but it’s nowhere near where it needs to be.”

And they are not alone: Multiple health officials in the Trump administration have cautioned against setting May 1 as a target date to loosen social distancing guidelines, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said last week that the U.S. has not yet developed the testing and tracing procedures needed to begin reopening the economy.

But that hasn’t stopped the president. On Saturday, echoing comments Vice President Mike Pence made a day prior, Trump claimed “experts” had said that “America’s testing capability and capacity is fully sufficient to begin opening up the country totally.”

Indeed, The Huffington Post reports, Trump has taken an adversarial stance toward a number of governors as states struggle to overcome nationwide test shortages. The Trump Administration has tried to cobble together a belated response to the pandemic and has faced criticism after initially calling concerns about the coronavirus a “hoax” and downplaying its impact.

In recent weeks, Trump has used language that appears aimed at shifting responsibility for the economic recovery from the administration to individual states.

“People’s initial reaction is always to look to the president, but as time goes on and it becomes clear other states are doing other things, that blame and credit will shift to the governors, considering they are the ones making the calls,” one Trump political adviser told Politico.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Stretching a point: Photo of Mitch McConnell social distancing goes viral

April 14, 2020

Reporters stayed within shouting distance of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—but remained the recommended six feet away or more from him and each other—as he left the Senate chamber on April 9, during the coronavirus pandemic.

The result was a photo seen around the world, and tweeted about endlessly, The Huffington Post reports.

A tweet from Doris Morgan Rueda said, “Spector of Mitch McConnell finally caught on camera, ghost hunting task force

Walter Shaub (perhaps the former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, although we have not confirmed it) commented, “… at 1:40 PM at the main branch of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue, ten people witnessed a free floating, full torso, vaporous apparition. It blew books off shelves from twenty feet away and scared the socks off some poor librarian!”

Rachel Dzanashville said, “I’d like to commission this as a baroque painting.”

Ian Millhister contributed, “DEAR GOD! Who is that idiot in the mask who broke the circle? Now The Mitch will escape and exact tenfold revenge on his captors

And, among many others, Melissa Murray captioned the photo, “Spector of Mitch McConnell finally caught on camera, ghost hunting task force reports.”

Research contact: @HuffPost

Alone at last! Giant pandas feel the love during zoo lockdown

April 8, 2020

No “pandering” was needed to get Ying Ying and Le Le—giant pandas at the Ocean Park Zoo in Hong Kong—to finally consummate their relationship this week after a seemingly endless ten-year tease.

Maybe they just needed privacy? Or were they just bored during the coronavirus lockdown?

After nearly a decade of trying, The Huffington Post reports, Ying Ying and Le Le “did the dirty” in their enclosure on April 6.

No visitors witnessed the intimate moment between the two 14-year-old pandas in person, however, because the attraction has been closed since late January due to the pandemic.

The zoo announced the news with a sweet picture of the pair on Instagram—and fingers crossed for a new panda baby sometime late this year.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Democrats block Senate coronavirus bill, calling it a bailout for corporations and Trump’s family

March 24, 2020

Who will benefit from the bills that the U.S. Congress is churning out to deal with COVID-19? Will it be everyday Americans and the healthcare heroes who are struggling to stem the pandemic; or big business—including what Senator Elizabeth Warren has characterized as a “slush fund for Donald Trump and his family”—and Wall Street?

According to a report by The Huffington Post, Democrats are raising serious concerns about the Senate’s massive emergency legislation aimed at propping up the economy and giving relief to workers hit hard by the growing coronavirus pandemic—saying it’s tilted too far in favor of Wall Street and big corporations.

The bill—said to offer at least $1 trillion to prop up an economy paralyzed by the virus—would represent the largest government response thus far to the crisis.

On Wednesday, March 18, lawmakers passed and President Donald Trump signed into law Democratic legislation that makes coronavirus testing free, expands unemployment insurance benefits and provides paid leave to some displaced workers.

Now, the HuffPost says, Democrats have leverage over the final shape of the bill because it will require 60 votes for passage and Republicans number 53 in the 100-seat Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) attempted to advance the bill on Sunday evening, emphasizing the need to move quickly to help those who have been laid off during the crisis. He said both sides had ample time to reach a deal on outstanding issues before a final vote on Monday.

But Democrats unanimously blocked the measure over its provisions allowing the Trump administration to lend hundreds of billions of dollars to major industries like hotels, casinos, cruise lines, and oil and gas.

“We’re fiddling here, fiddling with the emotions of the American people, fiddling with the markets, fiddling with our health care,” a visibly frustrated McConnell said in a floor speech—followed by a press release—after the vote, accusing Democrats of partisan obstruction that threatened the economy.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), meanwhile, said his party opposed moving forward with the bill “because among other problems it includes huge bailouts without protections for people and workers and without accountability, and because it shortchanges our hospitals and health care workers who need our help.”

Schumer said he was hopeful changes could be made in ongoing discussions with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin but added that “we are not yet at that point.”

The high-stakes negotiations, which have been taking place all weekend, gained even more urgency on Sunday after Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) announced he had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. He is the first member of the Senate to contract the virus. Four other Republican senators, some of whom were in close proximity to Paul on Capitol Hill earlier this week, also were self-isolating and did not vote Sunday.

“Wall Street’s going to do just fine. They’ve always rebounded real well … let’s take care of the people we’re asking to take care of us if we need them,” Senator Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia, said in a floor speech.

Democrats are also unhappy with the portion of the bill aimed at helping distressed industries with at least $450 billion in loans. The massive fund would be controlled by the Treasury Department and could include bailouts to hotels, casinos, cruise lines, and the oil and gas industry. It includes virtually no restrictions on how the money would be distributed, allowing properties owned directly by President Donald Trump to receive a bailout, for example, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the negotiations.

Another provision in the bill Democrats oppose would allow Mnuchin to delay publicly releasing the names of businesses that receive a bailout, as well as the amounts of those loans, for six months.

“We’re not here to create a slush fund for Donald Trump and his family, or a slush fund for the Treasury Department to be able to hand out to their friends,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts.) told reporters. “We’re here to help workers, we’re here to help hospitals. And right now what the Republicans proposed does neither of those.” 

Research contact: @HuffPost

Pandora’s box: How to open and clean delivery packages during the COVID-19 pandemic

March 20, 2020

Just as, in Greek mythology, Pandora’s box represented a source of “great and unexpected troubles,” the packages delivered to us during the COVID-19 pandemic could arrive with an assortment of unexpected and extremely dangerous germs.

What to do? According to a report by The Huffington Post, whether it’s food delivery, groceries, or something ordered from Amazon, the packages that arrive now were put together at some other location—and passed through many hands before appearing at your doorstep.

Luckily, most delivery people just leave packages at the doorstep without actually interacting with customers. And food delivery services are already are doing that—or, at the very least, encouraging customers to request it (often in the “notes” or “special instructions” section of delivery apps).

However, there’s not as much to fear when you order a hot meal: The risk of transmission through food is very low, epidemiologist Stephen Morse told The Atlantic: “Cooked foods are unlikely to be a concern unless they get contaminated after cooking.”

The contact-free delivery is more for the delivery person’s safety than your own: They are particularly at risk, given how many people they interact with in a day.

So, if you’re ordering something for delivery, be sure that the person who drops it off doesn’t have to touch or interact too closely with you: Ask him or her to leave the package at the door and knock to notify you.

If you have a concierge where you live, practice social distancing when you pick up your package for both your sakes; thank them for their work. and make sure they have access to lots of hand sanitizer.

Also, consider opening the package outside. The virus can live on cardboard, but a new study suggests that it disintegrates quickly on cardboard, unlike plastic or steel. Still, to be careful, put the cardboard packaging in an outdoor recycling bin, and then wipe down the contents with disinfectant before taking them inside.

Finally, just keep washing those hands. Wash them before you pick your deliveries up, and afterward. Wash them for 20 seconds, many times a day.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Biden gets another boost from rivals-turned-endorsers Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and O’Rourke

March 4, 2020

Following his bang-up win in the South Carolina primary on Saturday, February 29, former Vice President Joe Biden would be justified in invoking the famous Mark Twain quip, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

Biden, who had been struggling until that crucial victory, took home 35 delegates (for a total of 54) and 48.4% of the vote from the Palmetto State; compared to Bernie Sanders’ booty of 13 delegates (for a total of 60) and 19.9% of the vote, The Huffington Post reported.

But the stakes were much higher on Super Tuesday, March 3, when 14 states—among them, California and Texas, with 415 and 228 pledged candidates, respectively—were scheduled to go to the polls for their Democratic primaries, as Yahoo reports.

However, a new wave of endorsements, coming the night before the Super Tuesday polls opened, could give Biden the boost from moderate voters that he needs.He appeared on stage with former rivals Amy Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke on Monday night and presented his emerging two-person race with Bernie Sanders as a battle for the soul of the Democratic Party, NBC News reports.

Pete Buttigieg flew from South Bend, Indiana, to Dallas to endorse Biden before his rally but returned home and did not join the former vice president at the event.

At the rally, Biden told cheering supporters that Super Tuesday voters are “going to determine what this party stands for, what we believe,and what we’re going to get done” — and took a series of swipes at Sanders.

“If Democrats want a nominee who will build on Obamacare, not scrap it; take on the NRA and gun manufacturers, protect our children; who’ll stand up for the middle class, not raise their taxes and make promises that can’t be kept, then join us,” Biden said. “If Democrats want a nominee who’s a Democrat, a lifelong Democrat, a proud Democrat, a lifelong Democrat, then join us. We can either win big or lose big, that’s the choice.”

According to the NBC News story, a running theme in the remarks of Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and O’Rourke was that Biden is the party’s best chance at victory and offers a decent and caring alternative to President Donald Trump.

“We need somebody who can beat Donald Trump. The man in the White House today poses an existential threat to this country, to our democracy, to free and fair elections, and we need somebody who can beat him,” O’Rourke said. “In Joe Biden, we have that man.”

Buttigieg said Biden would “bring back dignity to the White House” if elected president and “change the toxic and divisive nature of our politics right now.”

“He is somebody of such extraordinary grace and kindness and empathy,” said the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

Klobuchar appeared to take a veiled dig at Sanders: “It is time for a president who represents all of America, including people at the middle of this country, at a time when we see people in extremes that are trying to drown out people,” she said.

Speaking to reporters in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Monday, Sanders addressed the consolidation of party elites behind Biden, calling it “a massive effort trying to stop Bernie Sanders,” NBC said.

“The corporate establishment is coming together. The political establishment is coming together and they will do everything. They are really getting nervous that working people are standing up…We are winning working class voters, by big numbers,” Sanders said. “So it doesn’t surprise me why would I be surprised that establishment politicians are coming together?”

Research contact: @NBCNews

For love or money: ‘Valentighting’ is the dating trend out to ruin your Valentine’s Day

February 12, 2020

Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? Any “significant others” who have lost their suitors just before Valentine’s Day might well say no.

No breakup is ever well-timed, but there’s something particularly nasty about doing it just weeks before February 14.

Just ask Amy Luong, according to a report by The Huffington Post. Up until recently, Luong, a 23-year-old account coordinator from Des Moines, Iowa, thought she was on sure footing in her yearlong relationship, the news outlet says.  She and her boyfriend had almost broken up recently—but, if anything, that had only brought them closer together, or so she thought. Luong’s boyfriend told her he didn’t want to lose her. They’d started talking about the future in unambiguous terms.

But then, just one week before Valentine’s Day, he dumped her.

“He brought up that his friends didn’t like me, they didn’t want to talk to me when I was over at his place—and that they suggested he break up with me,” Luong told HuffPost. “It started a 12-hour argument about us being together and how he didn’t feel like I respected him. I told him that I do everything I can to respect and support him, but he accused me of doing no such thing.”

The hyperdramatic fight—and the relationship itself—ended when Luong told her boyfriend to get an Uber home and leave.

The term, Valentighting, joins the ranks of other newfangled, slightly ridiculous dating trends (ghosting, mosting, orbiting, breadcrumbing).

Valentighting was coined by Metro UK writer Ellen Scott last year. Scott defined it as “the heartbreaking act of dumping someone right before Valentine’s Day, because you’re too tight to get them a gift, write a card, or make any kind of fuss. Get it? Valentine’s Day plus being too much of a tightwad to buy a gift. Valentighting.”

Clever. But as Luong’s story illustrates, there’s usually more than an aversion to gift-giving at play when a person gets valentighted.

“Valentine’s Day of all holidays brings the relationship to a head and highlights issues between couples that might not be working,” Kim Seltzer, the host of Charisma Quotient podcast and a dating coach in Los Angeles, told HuffPost.

If it’s about the gifts at all, it’s less about penny-pinching and more about a person’s fear of having a gift be interpreted as an investment in the relationship, Seltzer said.

“So avoiding the gift might really be about not wanting to spend money on someone you don’t see a future with,” she explained. (In other words, your ex isn’t just a cheap-ass in this scenario, they’re a cheap-ass with commitment issues.)

However, it’s not just the recently dumped who struggle with Valentine’s Day, the news outlet says. The holiday puts the squeeze on a lot of relationships—especially new ones. In those cases, it’s hard to know what kind of gift, if any is called for: How much should you spend? Would you overplay your hand if you get the person something and they show up empty-handed?

It’s a complicated holiday, for sure—and for many of us, the second celebration of Valentine’s Day with the same person could be the winner. You know their preferences and you know how they feel. Just go for it.

Research contact: @HuffPost

Carl Bernstein calls out Mitch McConnell with scathing new nickname—now trending on Twitter

January 22, 2020

Move over “Moscow Mitch” and “Grim Reaper.” There’s a new nickname inside the Beltway for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell–conferred by none other than Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein—and it has sent social media users into overdrive, according to The Huffington Post.

The famed reporter called McConnell “Midnight Mitch” during a panel discussion on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360° on Monday, January 20, based on the tightly compressed schedule that the Majority Leader had set for the imminent Senate impeachment trial over the Ukraine scandal.

Indeed, the HuffPost reports, McConnell has been so obsessed with keeping the facts of the scandal under wraps that he has insisted on just two days of 12-hour testimony on both sides—starting at 1 p.m. each afternoon, when Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is available to preside.

That would run the trial into the early hours of the morning on four consecutive days. Hence, the moniker, “Midnight Mitch.”

Said Bernstein “[This is],,,the most important moment for the Republican Party since the censure of Joe McCarthy and the impeachment and resignation of Richard Nixon, in which Republicans became great heroes and patriots. Now, we’re looking at ‘Midnight Mitch’ and the so-called world’s greatest deliberative body really embracing a cover-up that is there for all to see. That’s what this is about. It’s about preventing information from becoming known and seen by the American public.

Bernstein noted how in the impeachments of former Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton there had been “no problem about knowing the truth of the facts.”

But in the impeachment trial of Trump, he said, “we still have a factual problem here because the president and those who work for him and Mitch McConnell have impeded the facts from the beginning.”

Harvard Law School professor and legal scholar Laurence Tribe agreed with Bernstein, chiming in on Twitter, “These aren’t rules for a real trial at all, much less a fair one. They’re rules for a rigged outcome, with #MidnightMitch making sure that as much of the so-called trial as possible takes place in the dark of night.”

Research contact: @HuffPost