Warren escalates war with Zuckerberg and Facebook – By ALEX THOMPSON 10/12/2019 04:41 PM EDT


Warren explained Saturday morning that her campaign purchased Facebook ads this week that purposefully included the lie that Zuckerberg had endorsed Trump’s re-election in order to highlight what she considered negligence on the part of the company’s handling of misinformation in political advertising (She notes later in the ad that Zuckerberg hadn’t actually endorsed Trump).

“We intentionally made a Facebook ad with false claims and submitted it to Facebook’s ad platform to see if it’d be approved. It got approved quickly and the ad is now running on Facebook,” she wrote. “They’ve decided to let political figures lie to you—even about Facebook itself—while their executives and their investors get even richer off the ads containing these lies.”

Eric Reif, the campaign’s director of paid media, tweeted that “we put a little bit of money into a fairly obvious lie (which Facebook still shouldn’t have let us do!) to prove a point.”

A Facebook spokesperson said that the company believes political speech should be protected. “If Senator Warren wants to say things she knows to be untrue, we believe Facebook should not be in the position of censoring that speech,” the spokesperson said.

The company decided in the fall of 2018 that political ads and politicians would not be subject to the third-party fact-checking the company is using to combat misinformation. That policy has drawn a tremendous rebuke, particularly from Democrats in recent weeks after Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications, said in a speech last monththat “It is not our role to intervene when politicians speak.”

He added that: “That’s why I want to be really clear today – we do not submit speech by politicians to our independent fact-checkers, and we generally allow it on the platform even when it would otherwise breach our normal content rules.”`

https://www.politico.com/news/2019/10/12/warren-facebook-2020-045110

The Top Buyer of Pro-Impeachment Facebook Ads Is a Wisconsin Spice Company Brian Feldman@bafeldmanOct. 11, 2019


Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

I’m not sure if you’ve heard, maybe you don’t know, I don’t want to presume, but there’s an impeachment inquiry going on. You’re shocked, I understand. “The president? Bad?” you ask. It’s possible. Who can say? That’s what the inquiry is for.

But already, there is a media war being waged over public perception, and one of the most important battlegrounds is Facebook, where impeachment-related ads are being bought at a rapid pace. On Wednesday, Axios reported that the Trump campaign spent $718,000 on ads related to the impeachment inquiry between September 29 and October 5 (the data was compiled by the third-party research firm Bully Pulpit Interactive). Other parties have also been spending vigorously to rally Facebook users for or against impeachment. Mitch McConnell spent $40,000, Elizabeth Warren spent $20,000. Billionaire and fringe candidate Tom Steyer, who spends millions on Facebook ads for shits and giggles, has spent $86,000 to boost posts related to the topic into users’ News Feeds.

But second to Trump, the entity spending the most on Facebook ads related to impeachment is a Wisconsin-based spice company, Penzeys Spices. “You may not have been paying much attention this week, but the short version is the end is very near for this terrible turn the Republican Party has taken. The president’s Ukraine scandal is the big one. I get that it can be hard to believe any scandal will stick, but this one is different,” CEO Bill Penzey wrote in a post for his page’s 645,936 followers.

Axios reported that Penzeys spent $92,000 to boost their Facebook posts on impeachment, but over the phone this afternoon, Penzey said it was actually $128,000, which seems like a lot, but is roughly a third of what the company might spend on mailing out its catalogues this month. Penzey founded his namesake company in 1986, and it does most of its business through the mail and a few dozen physical locations.

“I’d sent out an email to our customers the weekend before on the topic, and the response to it was very energized,” Penzey recalled. “And I looked at it and thought, we gotta do a Facebook post about this, because this is something that people are very interested in right now.”

There is some novelty in the largest pro-impeachment ad spend on Facebook being made by the independent spice retailer preferred by my mom, but wading into political waters is not new territory for Penzey. Shortly after Trump’s election, he wrote an email to the Penzeys mailing list criticizing the “open embrace of racism by the Republican Party.”

This move, of openly discussing politics, is conventionally considered bad for business. Taking strong political stances, supposedly, can alienate the fraction of consumers to disagree — nobody wants to feel shamed as they’re buying a jar of lemon-pepper seasoning. Better to do things the old-fashioned way: funding lobbyists and astroturf advocacy groups to push your efforts. Penzey, though, sees things differently. “For all the troubles that people running businesses have to face, I get that — but you know, I think that being neutral is sort of a luxury of the past,” he said. Perhaps the only other company with a consistent track record of relatively radical corporate politics is Ben & Jerry’s, which released the flavor last year, Pecan Resist, “a Limited Batch ice-cream flavor celebrating the activists who are continuing to resist oppression, harmful environmental practices, and injustice.”

There’s plenty of reason to be skeptical of Penzey; countless companies and personalities have built their brands on the backs of partisan resentment and frustration. Plenty of #resistance personalities have spent their time feverishly shitposting their way to book deals. Obviously, Penzey has a business interest in opposing Trump. Many of the spices he sells grow within 10 or 15 degrees of the equator, and he says tariffs have affected how he does business. The spice trade is, now and forever, inherently political.

Penzey’s candor on Facebook about the issues facing the country, however, is complicated in other respects too. He said that three years ago, he also noticed the well-documented change in how posts on Facebook pages performed and the decline of organic reach (reach that isn’t paid for). Now, he says, “pretty much everything you see from a business is an ad.” The cost is reasonable to him, but pages have to pay Facebook to reach their customer base. That means that whenever Penzey wants to talk to his spice customers, he has to effectively buy a political ad.

That process for buying political ads has gotten more and more complicated in the wake of the 2016 election, when Russian operatives infiltrated the platform to “meddle” (a nebulous term often used to describe how foreign entities used social media to try to stoke domestic tensions) in American politics. Now, anyone running an ad “about social issues, elections, or politics” has to prove their identity to Facebook by receiving physical mail. Penzey also suspects that it costs more. In case you were worried, the amount Penzey spent on impeachment ads is in the same ballpark as the amount Russians spent to boost their own posts, and neither is enough on its own to really sway public opinion in a significant way.

“There was never like, ‘oh, let’s do political spending on impeachment ads on Facebook, and let’s see if we can’t beat out everyone but Trump,’” Penzey said. “It was just, you know, our form of communication falls into that category. And then because of how well this post was doing, we kept promoting it for a longer period of time.”

As for the long-term effects, Penzey isn’t worried. He recalled an event a decade and a half ago in which his catalogue showed a same-sex couple with triplets. “The fact that we showed two men as being these caring people being kind to children and caring for each other,” he noted, “that was something that caused 8 percent of our customers to quit us right there.” Most of them eventually returned. There’s something to be said for being on the right side of history.

Simone Biles is the greatest female gymnast ever – Jane Coaston Oct 10, 2019, 3:50pm EDT


With another world title, Biles is now in a class of her own.

Simone Biles of USA during the Women’s All-Around Final on Day 7 of FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships on October 10, 2019 in Stuttgart, Germany.
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

With (another) world-title win to her name Thursday in Stuttgart, Germany, Simone Biles is now the winningest female gymnast at the World Championship level in history. If she wins another medal at the World Championships — individual events will take place this weekend — she will tie the record for the most world-title medals won by anyone, male or female.

NBC Sports

@NBCSports

Earns 5th world all-around title ✅
Breaks own record for women’s record margin of victory ✅
Extends a six-year unbeaten streak ✅
22nd world medal ✅

Her name is @Simone_Biles.

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It is extremely difficult to quantify “greatness” in a sport where generally, female athletes may only compete for two to five years before retirement.

Consider the female gymnast third on the list for most World Championship medals won by a woman, Romanian Gina Gogean, who finished her career with nine medals.

She competed at five world championships between 1993 and 1998, winning a silver medal in the all-around competition — which features all four events in which female athletes compete (bar, beam, floor exercise, and vault) — in 1993.

In contrast, Simone Biles has won the gold medal in the all-around competition at the World Championships every single year in which she’s competed since 2013 (the championships were not held in 2016 due to the Olympics, and Biles took the 2017 season off to recover from the Games). In fact, she has not lost an all-around competition in which she has competed since 2013.

To put it in more familiar terms, Biles has been winning world championships since before the movie Frozen debuted (November 2013). She has been winning World Championships since before Joni Ernst, Ben Sasse, and Thom Tillis were in the Senate. She has the most gold medals at the World Championship level of any gymnast, male or female.

Simone Biles is so good — no, so great — that at this year’s World Championships, she surpassed the margin of victory she achieved in 2018, beating the silver medalist, Tang Xijing, by more than 2.1 points — the largest margin of victory at a world championship competition since the current Code of Points came into use in 2006.

During her floor exercise routine, Biles stepped out of bounds twice (a penalty), but still won the floor competition by more than a point.

She is so good, in fact, that she is now being penalized by the FIG Women’s Technical Committee — the body in charge of deciding what points athletes will receive for performing certain skills — for, in effect, being too good.

For example, Biles’s balance beam dismount — a double twisting double back (two flips, two twists) — is the most difficult beam dismount being competed. It’s so difficult that the same skill is generally only done on floor, where padding and springs can protect athletes who attempt it.

But as the New York Times’s Liriel Higa detailed:

… the international gymnastics federation last week deemed the Biles dismount a mere “H” skill, the same value as on floor. It also valued it at only one tenth higher than the much easier (though still incredibly difficult for the rest of the world) full twisting double back, which is two flips and one twist. That move is classified as a “G” skill on beam, but only an “E” on floor.

To which Biles responded:

Simone Biles

@Simone_Biles

hahahaHAHAHAHAHhahaHahaAhahAhahahaAhahahHAHAahaaaaaaaHa bullshit https://twitter.com/Pamchenkova/status/1179063392587436032 

Something about Brenda@Pamchenkova

List of new elements submitted at #Stuttgart2019. The double-double beam dismount is only 1 DV more than the full-in. Totally ridiculous and unfair.https://live.gymnastics.sport/news_display.php?idevent=14274&idnews=2666&keyword= 

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The reason? According to the FIG Women’s Technical Committee, that dismount is so difficult that athletes should, in short, be discouraged by the FIG from doing it by lowering its potential scoring value. In its statement, the FIG even compared that dismount to the infamous Thomas Salto, banned from women’s competition after an athlete was paralyzed attempting it in 1980:

The direction of the FIG for the past two Olympic cycles has been to encourage the perfect execution and beautiful artistic performance, while continuing the development of the skills.

With this in mind, the WTC has assigned a “reasonable” difficulty value to the dismount, reflecting on these many aspects.

There is added risk in landing of double saltos for Beam dismounts (with/without twists), including a potential landing on the neck.

Reinforcing, there are many examples in the Code where decisions have been made to protect the gymnasts and preserve the direction of the discipline.

The WTC’s task is to ensure the safety of all athletes around the world and decisions are not based purely on one gymnast.

That’s how good Simone Biles is — the international body that determines the scoring for the sport thinks that her moves are so difficult other gymnasts shouldn’t risk trying them.

As Biles told NBC Sports, “If it were [a gymnast from] another country trying it, it would definitely be a J. But because it’s me. It’s so unfair, because, am I in a league of my own? Yes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t credit me for what I’m doing.”

Biles is so great that she is pushing the entire United States’ team to get better. After she debuted a triple-double on floor at the 2019 US National Championships — a feat never before landed in competition by a female athlete — her teammate, Jade Carey, posted video of herself attempting the maneuver in her gym just nine days later.

With Biles and Carey’s help, the US women’s team won its fifth consecutive world championship title earlier this week. That marks a string of dominance in international competition, including the Olympics (where the women’s team won gold in both 2012 and 2016), not seen since the fall of the Soviet Union.

When I was working at MTV News, I wrote about Simone Biles back in 2016, when she was 19 years old and already the most accomplished American gymnast ever.

But that was before we knew that Biles was a survivor of sexual abuse — abuse the American gymnastics body knowingly enabled, abuse that Biles has been forthright about discussing, in public. Biles is now the most powerful voice in the sport of gymnastics, and she knows it.

Olympic Channel

@olympicchannel

Emotional @Simone_Biles expresses frustration toward USA gymnastics at the 2019 U.S. Championships.

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Florida Man Who Shot And Killed A Black Man Over Parking Dispute Gets 20 Years – Brakkton Booker October 10, 2019 6:12 PM ET


Michael Drejka, a white Florida man, was sentenced to 20 years in prison Thursday for his role in last year’s fatal shooting of an unarmed black man in a dispute over a handicapped-accessible parking spot.

A jury convicted Drejka of manslaughter in August in the death of Markeis McGlockton.

Drejka did not show any emotion when he was sentenced, according to The Associated Press, which adds that the judge found it ironic that Drejka illegally parked next to McGlockton’s girlfriend’s car and then confronted her about parking illegally in a handicapped space.

“He just seems to come out of nowhere, kind of like a superhero, to see that he enforces the handicapped parking spot,” Circuit Judge Joseph A. Bulone said, as quoted by the AP.

During the trial, attorneys for Drejka said their client acted in self-defense when he and McGlockton got into an argument in front of Circle A Food Mart, a convenience store in the city of Clearwater.

As NPR reported, the July 2018 incident was captured on surveillance footage. It began when McGlockton’s girlfriend, Brittany Jacobs, began arguing with Drejka, who was upset that she had parked in the handicapped parking space without a visible permit.

McGlockton and the couple’s young son were inside the store at the time. The security footage shows McGlockton exiting the store, walking toward Drejka and pushing him to the asphalt.

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Abandoning Kurds could cost Trump support of evangelical Christians – Tom McCarthy Last modified on Fri 11 Oct 2019 02.03 EDT


One of the president’s staunchest constituencies has stuck by him through many controversies but Syria may be a policy lurch too far

Pastors from the Las Vegas area pray with Donald Trump, then the Republican presidential candidate, during a visit to the International Church of Las Vegas on 5 October 2016.
Pastors from the Las Vegas area pray with Donald Trump, then the Republican presidential candidate, during a visit to the International Church of Las Vegas on 5 October 2016. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

Evangelical Christian voters have been among Donald Trump’s most enthusiastic and reliable supporters. Trump’s recent rejection of asylum seekers and cuts to domestic food assistance programs have not stopped followers of Christ from flocking to the president.

A great schism, however, may finally be at hand. In drips that have become a gush, evangelical leaders this week have sharply criticized Trump’s decision to stand down US forces in northern Syria, warning that Turkey’s invasion of the region threatens America’s longstanding Kurdish allies and vulnerable Christian communities.

“It is very possible that the American withdrawal from the region will lead to the extinction of Christianity from the region,” Ashty Bahro, former director of the Evangelical Alliance of Kurdistan, told the Christianity Today news outlet.

“An invasion by Turkey into NE Syria would pose a grave threat to the region’s Kurds and Christians, endangering the prospects of true religious freedom in the Middle East,” tweeted the evangelical leader Tony Perkins, a Trump adviser.

The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) founder, Pat Robertson, described even more grave stakes in a broadcast on Monday.

“I believe … the president of the United States is in danger of losing the mandate of heaven if he permits this to happen,” Robertson said.

Despite warnings from domestic and international allies, Trump’s move allowed Turkey to launch a ground and air assault on Wednesday against Syria’s Kurds, who had been a crucial American ally in the fight against the Islamic State.

As Turkish planes bombed towns in north-eastern Syria, angry and terrified civilians fled, unsure of their futures. But another consequence of Trump’s decision is that losing the mandate of heaven could seriously hurt Trump’s re-election chances.

White evangelicals made up 26% of voters in the last presidential election and they voted 81% for Trump, according to Robert P Jones, chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and author of The End of White Christian America.

Trump has won the avowed love of evangelicals by appointing conservative judges, opening the way for new abortion restrictions, supporting Christian universities, moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and other measures.

With so much common ground, not all of Trump’s most high-profile evangelical allies have broken with him over Syria. The Liberty University president, Jerry Falwell Jr, who helped Trump seal the deal with evangelical voters as a 2016 campaign adviser, said Trump was “keeping his promise to keep America out of endless wars”.

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Feral Hogs Are Tearing Up Texas, So Tourists Are Shooting Them from Helicopters – VICE News Oct 8, 2019


“Legit question for rural Americans,” Twitter user William McNabb asked in August in response to a question about assault weapon use, “How do I kill the 30-50 feral hogs that run into my yard within 3-5 mins while my small kids play?” The internet shortly exploded with feral hogs and the oddly specific invasion of 30 to 50 hogs became a viral internet meme. What started as a debate around one of America’s most polarizing topics — assault weapons — became many people’s introduction to a very different problem: Feral hogs are one of the most destructive invasive species in the U.S. And Texans, in particular, come face-to-face with a lot more than 30 to 50 feral hogs, but it’s no laughing matter. That’s why they’re dealing with the crisis in a very Texas way, Helicopter Hunting.