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Journal Archives

New York Times updates Twitter policy for reporters

Source: The Hill

The New York Times is updating its policies for how its journalists use Twitter, and is emphasizing that use of the social media platform is optional given the dangers of online harassment.

In a memo to employees on Thursday shared with The Hill, Dean Baquet, the newspaper’s top editor, announced what he called a “reset in our approach,” handing down new guidance dictating that “maintaining a presence on Twitter and social media is now purely optional for Times journalists.”

Baquet wrote that he has been hearing from staffers about “the challenges that Twitter presents,” writing that staffers at the leading national newspaper often “can rely too much on Twitter as a reporting and feedback tool.”

Such feedback, Baquet wrote, can be harmful to the Times’ journalism when “our feeds become echo chambers.”

Read more: https://thehill.com/news/3261482-new-york-times-updates-twitter-policy-for-reporters/

NBC News journalists vexed by MSNBC's move to hire White House press secretary Jen Psaki

Source: CNN

New York (CNN Business)NBC News journalists are troubled by and have expressed dismay to network executives about MSNBC's intention to hire White House press secretary Jen Psaki when she exits the Biden administration, people familiar with the matter told CNN.

Noah Oppenheim, the NBC News president, even held an impromptu phone call Friday so that he could address the matter with vexed staffers from the Washington bureau, some of whom have complained to their superiors that the tentative hiring tarnishes the NBC News brand.
Oppenheim, attempting to quell the anger, reaffirmed the distinction on the call between NBC News and MSNBC's opinion programming, some of the people familiar with the matter said.

Oppenheim, who does not oversee MSNBC, told the journalists that NBC News did not have a role in hiring Psaki. And he noted to those on the phone that they work for the NBC News brand and that the hires made for MSNBC's opinion arm should be viewed as unrelated to their work, the people said.

Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2022/04/06/media/jen-psaki-nbc/index.html

After Gridiron Dinner, a covid outbreak among Washington A-list guests

Source: Washington Post

It was supposed to be an evening of lighthearted political satire and bipartisan fellowship among an elite cadre of politicians, journalists and public officials, just as it has been for much of the past 137 years.

Instead, the annual Gridiron Dinner in Washington on Saturday appears to have been notable for a potential coronavirus outbreak among its A-list guests.

As of Wednesday morning, Reps. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) and Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo had announced they had received positive results on coronavirus tests after attending the dinner at the downtown Renaissance Washington Hotel. On Wednesday afternoon, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that he, too, had tested positive.

In addition, about a half-dozen journalists as well as members of the White House and National Security Council staffs said they tested positive after the event. Their names are being withheld because they have not announced their status publicly.

Read more: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/after-gridiron-dinner-a-covid-outbreak-among-washington-a-list-guests/ar-AAVVSko

Post Office Cops Used Social Media Surveillance Program Illegally

The United States Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement arm of the post office, was “not legally authorized” to conduct blanket keyword searches of social media for terms such as “protest,” “attack,” and “destroy,” an inspector general investigation found, because it is only supposed to investigate cases with some connection to the post office or the mail.

The USPSIS is the oldest police agency in the country, called the United States Postal Inspection Service, or USPIS. Its job is to police the mail and crimes related to the mail such as mail fraud. USPIS dates back to a time when the postal service was the largest and most significant branch of the federal government and the USPIS was its only national policing power.

Of course, the federal government has many policing and law enforcement arms nowadays, which is one of the reasons that a Yahoo News report from April 2021 was so surprising to many Americans. Yahoo reported the agency’s Internet Covert Operations Program, better and somehow not satirically known as iCOP, was monitoring social media for “inflammatory” postings associated with protest movements on both the Left and the Right. This puzzled First Amendment watchdogs and security experts since the federal government has no shortage of agencies to monitor social media for inflammatory posts, yet for some reason postal cops were doing it. Yahoo News also reported that iCOP included use of Clearview AI, the highly controversial facial recognition system that is built on a database of images scraped from social media.

As a result of that investigation, the House of Representatives asked the USPS Office of Inspector General to investigate this program. The USPSOIG has just published that report which found iCOP used “proactive searches” that “did not include any terms with a postal nexus,” meaning they had nothing to do with the post office. The USPIS did not immediately respond to a Motherboard request for comment on the report.


New Mutant "XE" Omicron Variant May Be The Most Transmissible Version Of Covid Yet, According To WHO

The CDC announced this week that the BA.2 Omicron variant, which is reportedly 30% more transmissible than the original BA.1 Omicron strain — has become dominant among new cases sequenced in the United States. That’s a startling rise for a variant that was less than 1% of all sequences as recently as January. But, just as Americans are hearing about BA.2, there’s already a newer, even more transmissible variant on the rise.

There are actually three new variants that have been given designations. According to a recently-released report from the UK Health Services Agency, the two being called XD and XF are combinations of Delta and BA.1, or so-called “Deltacron” strains, which have been talked about for months but made no significant inroads in any country.

XD is present in several European countries, but has not been detected in the UK, according to the report. XF caused a small cluster in the UK but has not been detected there since February 15. The variant of greater concern, it seems, is the one dubbed XE.

Like the other two new arrivals, XE is a recombinant strain, meaning it is made up of two previously-distinct variants. But it is not a Deltacron mix. XE is actually made up of the original Omicron (BA.1) and the newer Omicron (BA.2) which has taken over in the U.S.


Biden Says to Expect 'Real' Food Shortages Due to Ukraine War

Source: Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden said that the world will experience food shortages as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and production increases were a subject of discussions at a Group of Seven meeting on Thursday.

“It’s going to be real,” Biden said at a news conference in Brussels. “The price of the sanctions is not just imposed upon Russia. It’s imposed upon an awful lot of countries as well, including European countries and our country as well.”

Ukraine and Russia are both major producers of wheat, in particular, and Kyiv’s government has already warned that the country’s planting and harvest have been severely disrupted by the war.

Biden said that at the G-7 summit in Brussels earlier that he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau both discussed increasing their nation’s agricultural production to try to make up for shortfalls. Biden said he’s also urging all nations including those in Europe to drop trade restrictions that could restrict exports of food.

Read more: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/biden-says-expect-real-food-175308088.html

The far right's obsession with fitness is going digital

It appears the far right has taken advantage of pandemic at-home fitness trends to expand its decade-plus radicalization of physical mixed martial arts (MMA) and combat sports spaces.

Earlier this month, researchers reported that a network of online “fascist fitness” chat groups on the encrypted platform Telegram are recruiting and radicalizing young men with neo-Nazi and white supremacist extremist ideologies. Initially lured with health tips and strategies for positive physical changes, new recruits are later invited to closed chat groups where far-right content is shared.

Physical fitness has always been central to the far right. In “Mein Kampf,” Hitler fixated on boxing and jujitsu, believing they could help him create an army of millions whose aggressive spirit and impeccably trained bodies, combined with “fanatical love of the fatherland,” would do more for the German nation than any “mediocre” tactical weapons training.

In more modern times, far-right groups have launched mixed martial arts and boxing gyms in Ukraine, Canada and France, among other places, focused on training far-right nationalists in violent hand-to-hand combat and street-fighting techniques. It’s caught the attention of intelligence authorities, especially in Europe, where various reports have noted the role of combat sports and MMA in radicalizing and promoting far-right violence. A series of collaborative efforts between governments, national sports associations, and local gyms in places such as Germany, Poland and the United Kingdom have introduced intervention and prevention programs.


Omicron's 'stealth' subvariant BA.2 could go 'wild' in Europe before going global

Source: CNBC

LONDON — While war rages in Ukraine, not much attention is being paid to surging Covid-19 cases across Europe that could soon start to filter out to the rest of the world.

The rise in cases across the continent, from the U.K. and France to Italy and Austria, is being driven by several factors: The lifting of most — if not all — Covid restrictions, waning immunity from vaccines and booster shots, and the spread of the more transmissible omicron subvariant, BA.2.

“We all hoped and expected a different turn now at the beginning of spring,” Ralf Reintjes, professor of epidemiology at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, told CNBC this week.


Germany is seeing a surge in cases and has reported daily tallies of new infections of between 200,000 to 300,000 a day in the last week.

Read more: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/23/omicrons-subvariant-bapoint2-could-spread-wildly-in-europe-epidemiologist.html

Biden press secretary has COVID-19, won't travel to Europe

Source: Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that she is positive again for COVID-19 and will not accompany President Joe Biden to Europe this week for urgent meetings with world counterparts on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Biden tested negative on Tuesday, she said.

Psaki’s reinfection is the latest COVID-19 scare for the White House after recent positive tests for Vice President Kamala Harris’ husband and Ireland’s prime minister, who was in the nation’s capital last week for a series of in-person celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day with Biden and other officials.

The scares come as the Biden administration is trying to help the United States ease back into its pre-pandemic norms, even as cases climb in Europe due to a new variant of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Read more: https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-biden-covid-health-europe-c68d2677aa3d9040a5772bbc80d4b84f

Great piece for history buffs, re: Ukraine

Ukrainian Tales

Since it became its first imperial possession in the 18th century, Russia has denied Ukraine’s national existence, while seeing it as an exotic threat.

Ukrainians have long been aware of Russian imperial mythmaking. Nostalgia for the 17th and 18th centuries, when Ukraine’s Cossacks enjoyed significant autonomy and its peasants felt protected by them, developed soon after Russia’s expansion southwards. With Ukrainian historiography obstructed by tsarist censorship, the job of preserving the past fell to writers like Taras Shevchenko, Ukraine’s national poet. Born a serf in 1814, he felt the reality of Russia’s ‘enlightened’ rule, which had drastically worsened the conditions of the peasants in the decades before his birth. Shevchenko, despite his poverty, was able to gain a basic education and displayed a flair for drawing. His owner cultivated him as his personal artist and allowed him to enter the St Petersburg art world. Through the efforts of his well-connected friends, Shevchenko was able to buy his freedom.

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