Twitch temporarily suspends Trump account over 'hateful conduct'

Twitch, the livestreaming service owned by Amazon, on Monday temporarily suspended President TrumpDonald John TrumpTop intelligence officials release statements criticizing leaking of Russian bounties information Russian bounty intel was included in Trump’s daily briefing: reports Senators will have access to intelligence on Russian bounties on US troops MORE‘s account for violating the company’s policy on “hateful conduct,” a company spokesperson told The Hill.  

The company said the decision stemmed from comments made on streams shared by an account associated with the Trump campaign. One stream was a rebroadcast of 2015 remarks from Trump during which he referred to Mexicans as “rapists.” Twitch also flagged a stream that included comments Trump made during his a recent campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla. 

In that stream, Trump had asked the crowd to imagine a “very tough hombre” breaking into someone’s home.

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“Hateful conduct is not allowed on Twitch,” a Twitch spokesperson said. “In line with our policies, President Trump’s channel has been issued a temporary suspension from Twitch for comments made on stream, and the offending content has been removed.”

The spokesperson said that “politicians on Twitch must adhere to our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines” and noted the company conveyed this message to the president’s team when he joined the service last year. 

“To hear directly from the President, people should download the Trump app and text ‘Trump’ to 88022,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told The Hill when asked for comment about the Twitch suspension.

Twitch’s community guidelines define hateful conduct as any content that promotes, encourages or facilitates discrimination, harassment or violence based on race, ethnicity or gender, among other things. The platform said last week that it was creating more tools “to combat harassment and hate” after some Twitch streamers came forward with allegations of sexual abuse and harassment. Twitch said it was also reviewing its Hateful Conduct and Harassment policies.

The move by the livestreaming platform comes as social media companies face escalating pressure to rein in incendiary speech and misinformation on their sites, including from politicians. Twitter added fact-check and warning labels to posts from the president for the first time last month. 

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The company placed a warning on a Trump tweet in which he referred to protestors as “thugs” and said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter said that it added the warning because the content violated the platform’s rules against glorifying violence.

Facebook left an identical post from the president up on its platform, sparking outrage from civil rights groups and some employees within the company. A campaign calling for corporations to boycott advertising on Facebook over its content moderation polices has since gained support from more than 100 companies, including Starbucks, Verizon and Coca-Cola. 

As the ad boycott gained momentum, Facebook announced on Friday that it would start labeling posts deemed “newsworthy” that violate company policies. The company up until then had exempted public officials from fact-checking entirely. 

The Trump campaign joined Twitch, which primarily focuses on video game livestreaming, in October. Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPolitical establishment takes a hit as chaos reigns supreme Twitch temporarily suspends Trump account over ‘hateful conduct’ Juan Williams: Time for boldness from Biden MORE (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezPolitical establishment takes a hit as chaos reigns supreme Twitch temporarily suspends Trump account over ‘hateful conduct’ Steyer endorses Markey in Massachusetts Senate primary MORE (D-N.Y.) are also among the politicians that have an account.  

–This report was updated at 3:05 p.m.

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Survey: Americans trust CDC most, Trump least for information about COVID-19

Americans say they trust information on the coronavirus pandemic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the most — and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTop intelligence officials release statements criticizing leaking of Russian bounties information Russian bounty intel was included in Trump’s daily briefing: reports Senators will have access to intelligence on Russian bounties on US troops MORE the least — according to a Pew Research Center survey released Monday. 

The majority of respondents to the survey, 64 percent, said the CDC and other public health organizations get the facts right almost or most of the time regarding COVID-19. Only 30 percent said the same about Trump and his administration. 

Fifty-three percent in the poll said their governor or state government gets the facts right about the coronavirus. 

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Pew’s survey found that 50 percent of Americans said the same about their “local news media” and 44 percent said so about “the news media in general.” 

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Pew’s survey also found partisan divides over the question, with the most stark split regarding Trump and his administration. 

Forty-five points divided Democrats and Republicans regarding views on trusting the president to get the facts right about the outbreak, with 54 percent of Republicans saying Trump gets the facts right and just 9 percent of Democrats saying the same. 

When asked about other officials, the divide was less apparent. Seventy-six percent of Democrats said the CDC and other public health organizations get the facts right, as did 51 percent of Republicans, according to the survey. 

Regarding governors and state governments, 62 percent of Democrats said those officials get the facts right, as did 45 percent of Republicans. 

Republicans were also less likely to voice trust in media organizations. Just 38 percent of Republicans said the local news gets the facts right, and only 25 percent said the general news media gets the facts right. 

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Among Democrats, 62 percent said the local news gets the facts right, and 60 percent said the same about the general news media, according to the survey. 

The Trump administration has left control of coronavirus restrictions up to state and local leaders, but the White House did release guidelines regarding metrics states could follow to guide phased reopening plans. 

The White House task force held its first coronavirus briefings since May on Friday, amid spikes across the country, largely in the South and the West. During the briefing, Vice President Pence sought to reassure the public and praised efforts of governors for reopening businesses, downplaying the rising number of infections. 

The Pew Research survey was conducted June 4 to June 10. A total of 9,956 responded out of 11,013 who were sampled. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 1.6 percentage points.

Most inmates at San Quentin test positive for coronavirus in last 14 days

Most of the more than 1,000 inmates at San Quentin State Prison in California contracted COVID-19 in the past two weeks.

A total of 1,021 of inmates at San Quentin currently have active cases of COVID-19, according to data from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). More than 95 percent of those cases – 978 cases – are classified as new in the last 14 days.

The prison now has almost 40 percent of all confirmed coronavirus cases in the California prison system, which has a total of 2,573 confirmed cases. 

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Five San Quentin prisoners were released with active cases, and none of the cases are identified as resolved. 

A death row inmate reportedly died last week after refusing to be tested and tested positive post-mortem, SFist reported. The official CDCR count includes zero deaths. As of last Monday, 30 staff members at the prison had also contracted COVID-19.

“We are closely monitoring and quickly responding to positive cases of COVID-19 in state prisons, including at San Quentin,” CDCR Press Secretary Dana Simas said in a statement to SFist. “Additionally, we are working closely with California Correctional Health Care Services (court-appointed Federal Receiver) as well as public health agencies and stakeholders for the safety and security of our incarcerated population, staff, and communities.”

SFist reported the outbreak was caused when 121 inmates were transferred from the California Institute for Men at Chino on May 31. Before then, San Quentin did not have an inmate test positive for the virus, according to the outlet. 

The California Institute for Men at Chino has the second-highest number of cases with 509 considered active, including 64 classified as new within the past two weeks. Forty-eight inmates were released while the virus was active, 322 illnesses were resolved and 16 inmates died.

Marin County, where San Quentin is located, has reported 1,195 total cases of COVID-19, which excludes the prison’s count. Out of those 784 people have recovered, and 18 have died, according to county data.

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Trump faces bipartisan calls for answers on Russian-offered bounties

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are demanding answers after a flurry of reports revealed the intelligence community concluded months ago that Russia offered bounties to incentivize Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan.

The uproar includes a chorus of Republicans who are typically reticent to confront President TrumpDonald John TrumpTop intelligence officials release statements criticizing leaking of Russian bounties information Russian bounty intel was included in Trump’s daily briefing: reports Senators will have access to intelligence on Russian bounties on US troops MORE, who has sought to deflect blame and responsibility by arguing he was not briefed on the intelligence that he claims is not credible.

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But congressional Republicans and Democrats — calling the reported Russian operation “egregious” and “disturbing” — say Trump’s explanations only raise more questions that the administration must answer immediately.

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“Anything with any hint of credibility that would endanger our service members, much less put a bounty on their lives, to me, should have been briefed immediately to the commander in chief and a plan to deal with that situation,” said Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryOvernight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police Trump faces bipartisan calls for answers on Russian-offered bounties McEnany sidesteps questions on Russian bounty intel MORE (Texas), the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, who is retiring from Congress at the end of this term.

Thornberry, who added that the bipartisan “insistence to see the intelligence” is “even stronger nonpublicly” than it has been publicly, echoed other military leaders who have expressed incredulousness that such intelligence did not reach the commander in chief.

On Monday, the White House briefed at least seven Republicans: Thornberry, House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulOvernight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police Trump faces bipartisan calls for answers on Russian-offered bounties McEnany sidesteps questions on Russian bounty intel MORE (Texas), and Reps. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyOvernight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police Trump faces bipartisan calls for answers on Russian-offered bounties McEnany sidesteps questions on Russian bounty intel MORE (Wyo.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Jim Banks (Ind.), Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerOvernight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police Trump faces bipartisan calls for answers on Russian-offered bounties McEnany sidesteps questions on Russian bounty intel MORE (Ill.) and Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikOvernight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police Trump faces bipartisan calls for answers on Russian-offered bounties McEnany sidesteps questions on Russian bounty intel MORE (N.Y.), a source familiar with the meeting said. 

A group of House Democrats will also be getting a briefing at the White House on Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerTrump faces bipartisan calls for answers on Russian-offered bounties McEnany sidesteps questions on Russian bounty intel This week: Democrats set to move health care, infrastructure proposals with eye on November MORE (D-Md.) confirmed in a statement Monday evening.

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSenators will have access to intelligence on Russian bounties on US troops House Dems to offer up road map to solve the climate crisis Feehery: On statues and statutes MORE (D-Calif.) sent a letter Monday to Director of National Intelligence John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeTop intelligence officials release statements criticizing leaking of Russian bounties information Russian bounty intel was included in Trump’s daily briefing: reports Senators will have access to intelligence on Russian bounties on US troops MORE and CIA Director Gina HaspelGina Cheri HaspelTop intelligence officials release statements criticizing leaking of Russian bounties information Russian bounty intel was included in Trump’s daily briefing: reports Senators will have access to intelligence on Russian bounties on US troops MORE requesting a full House briefing, saying that “Congress and the country need answers now.” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerFeehery: On statues and statutes Top Democrat dropping support for previously bipartisan Senate drug pricing effort Political establishment takes a hit as chaos reigns supreme MORE (D-N.Y.) released his own statement, making the same request for the two intelligence leaders to immediately brief senators.

Thornberry and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police Trump faces bipartisan calls for answers on Russian-offered bounties House Armed Services leaders demand briefing on reported Russian bounties on US troops MORE (D-Wash.) have also demanded a briefing from the Pentagon for their full committee this week, but Thornberry and a Democratic committee spokesperson said they have not received a response from the Defense Department.

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“If the reports are true, that the administration knew about this Russian operation and did nothing, they have broken the trust of those who serve and the commitment to their families to ensure their loved one’s safety,” Smith said in a statement Monday. “It is imperative that the House Armed Services Committee receive detailed answers from the Department of Defense.”

The Pentagon “has received the invitation” from Smith and Thornberry and “is working to address the request,” department spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell said. The department declined to comment on the reports about the intelligence.

On the Senate side, Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenators will have access to intelligence on Russian bounties on US troops Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police The Memo: GOP cringes at new Trump race controversy MORE (R-Fla.), the acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, would not comment specifically on the bounty intelligence but said that “the targeting of our troops by foreign adversaries via proxies is a well-established threat.” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeSenators push to limit transfer of military-grade equipment to police Trump faces bipartisan calls for answers on Russian-offered bounties Trump nominee denounces past Islamophobic tweets MORE (R-Okla.), meanwhile, pledged to “work with President Trump on a strong response” if reports are true.

Both Rubio and Inhofe have faced calls from Democrats to hold hearings. 

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Health Care: Supreme Court strikes down Louisiana abortion law | Governors rethink opening bars, restaurants amid COVID-19 spike | WHO director warns pandemic ‘speeding up’ Trump faces bipartisan calls for answers on Russian-offered bounties The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Cure Violence Global founder Gary Slutkin says violence and epidemics follow same patterns; Global death toll surpasses half a million MORE (D-N.Y.), an Armed Services Committee member, wrote Rubio and Inhofe a letter on Sunday calling for joint hearings, while fellow committee member Sen. Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthTrump faces bipartisan calls for answers on Russian-offered bounties The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Dems, GOP dig in on police reform ahead of House vote Poll finds Warren most popular Biden VP choice among college students MORE (D-Ill.) wrote her own letter to Inhofe requesting an open hearing.

The New York Times first reported Friday that the intelligence community concluded months ago that a unit within the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, secretly offered payments to Taliban-linked militants for attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan last year.  

Trump was briefed on the intelligence, and officials had deliberated potential response options, but the White House had not authorized any further action, the report said.

The Washington Post then reported Sunday that intelligence assessments concluded the Russian bounties led to the deaths of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Other outlets have since confirmed the Times reporting, with some newspapers citing British government officials who were briefed by the U.S. last week on the intelligence.

The United States has previously accused Russia of supporting the Taliban by providing weapons, but lawmakers saying incentivizing the murder of U.S. troops would be a heinous escalation.

Statements by the White House and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence have disputed that Trump was briefed but have not addressed the credibility of the intelligence.

Shortly after the Post’s Sunday report, Trump claimed the intelligence was not credible.

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“Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP,” Trump tweeted late Sunday night. “Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!”

Trump, however, stands alone in questioning the accuracy of the intelligence. Later Monday afternoon, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said there was “no consensus” and “dissenting opinions” within the intelligence community about the credibility of the information, remarks that are markedly different from Trump’s claims.

She did not answer questions about whether elements of the intelligence were included in the President’s Daily Brief.

Some of Trump’s staunchest allies are calling for answers about the reports.

“Imperative Congress get to the bottom of recent media reports that Russian GRU units in Afghanistan have offered to pay the Taliban to kill American soldiers with the goal of pushing America out of the region,” Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOvernight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police Trump faces bipartisan calls for answers on Russian-offered bounties Senators aim to limit Trump’s ability to remove troops from Germany MORE (R-S.C.) tweeted in part.

Prior to getting briefed Monday, Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, tweeted that the “White House must explain” why Trump and Vice President Pence weren’t briefed, who did know and when, and what the response has been “to protect our forces & hold Putin accountable.”

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Banks, though, after the briefing, put the blame on The New York Times, accusing the newspaper of reporting intelligence that was still under investigation and compromising efforts to probe it.

“The real scandal: We’ll likely never know the truth,” Banks tweeted. “Because the @nytimes used unconfirmed intel in an ONGOING investigation into targeted killing of American soldiers in order to smear the President. The blood is on their hands.”

The news also comes at a time when Trump’s withdrawal deal with the Taliban remains precarious as high violence levels persist in Afghanistan. Republicans were already skeptical of the agreement, saying the Taliban cannot be trusted to keep a peace deal.

The U.S. military has said it is down to 8,600 troops in line with the agreement to get to that level by mid-July. But military officials have insisted any further drawdown will be based on conditions on the ground that are not yet met, even as Trump pushes for a speedy withdrawal.

Trump has also faced criticism from Democrats about his coziness to Russia, where he has sought to accommodate and praise the country despite its efforts to destabilize the West. 

In June, after the intelligence reportedly came to light within the U.S. government, Trump again sought to invite Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinTrump faces bipartisan calls for answers on Russian-offered bounties Russia is testing Trump’s reactions Trump claims intel on Russian bounties was deemed not credible MORE to the Group of Seven (G-7) summit this year. The move was rejected by other foreign leaders. Russia had previously belonged to the group, then called the Group of Eight, but was kicked out in 2014 after it illegally annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, territory it continues to control today.  

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Trump has also previously indicated that he believes Putin’s denials about interfering in the 2016 presidential election, despite the intelligence community’s conclusion that the Kremlin used disinformation campaigns on social media to sow discord and cyberattacks to derail the Clinton campaign during the heated presidential race.

Russia has denied the newest allegations as well.

“You know, maybe I can say it’s a little bit rude, but this is 100 percent bullshit. It’s an undiplomatic thing, but it’s bullshit,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told NBC News on Monday.

With Russia now reportedly accused of offering bounties against U.S. troops, some Republicans are calling for action against Moscow.

“If intelligence reports are verified that Russia or any other country is placing bounties on American troops, then they need to be treated as a state sponsor of terrorism,” Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTrump faces bipartisan calls for answers on Russian-offered bounties Political establishment takes a hit as chaos reigns supreme Democrats optimistic about chances of winning Senate MORE (R-N.C.) said.

Morgan Chalfant contributed.

India bans dozens of Chinese apps including TikTok

India on Monday banned dozens of Chinese apps including TikTok, pointing to privacy and security concerns, a move that comes less than two weeks after a deadly skirmish along the border of the two nations.

The Ministry of Electronics & IT said that the 59 apps were “engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, and security of state and public order.”

“The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) has also received many representations from citizens regarding security of data and breach of privacy impacting upon public order issues,” the Indian government agency also said.

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The bans are the latest digital standoff between the world’s two most populous countries.

They also come a few weeks after more than 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese forces in the Himalayas.

It is not immediately clear how the ban will be implemented or how it will affect app stores.

The Hill has reached out to TikTok for comment. The app has 119 million active users in India.

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Trump campaign sues Pennsylvania, county election boards over mail-in voting

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTop intelligence officials release statements criticizing leaking of Russian bounties information Russian bounty intel was included in Trump’s daily briefing: reports Senators will have access to intelligence on Russian bounties on US troops MORE’s reelection campaign is suing Pennsylvania’s secretary of state and 67 county election boards in an effort to change how mail-in ballots are sent and counted. 

The federal lawsuit was filed in Pittsburgh on Monday by the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee, and four Pennsylvania Republican members of Congress: Glen Thompson, Mike KellyGeorge (Mike) Joseph KellyHillicon Valley: Livestreaming service Twitch suspends Trump account | Reddit updates hate speech policy, bans subreddits including The_Donald | India bans TikTok Trump campaign sues Pennsylvania, county election boards over mail-in voting Pelosi asks House chairs to enforce mandatory mask-wearing during hearings MORE, John JoyceJohn JoyceHillicon Valley: Livestreaming service Twitch suspends Trump account | Reddit updates hate speech policy, bans subreddits including The_Donald | India bans TikTok Trump campaign sues Pennsylvania, county election boards over mail-in voting House GOP to launch China probes beyond COVID-19 MORE and Guy ReschenthalerGuy ReschenthalerHillicon Valley: Livestreaming service Twitch suspends Trump account | Reddit updates hate speech policy, bans subreddits including The_Donald | India bans TikTok Trump campaign sues Pennsylvania, county election boards over mail-in voting House panel advances police reform bill MORE

“To be free and fair, elections must be transparent and verifiable. Yet, Defendants have inexplicably chosen a path that jeopardizes election security and will lead -and has already led – to the disenfranchisement of voters, questions about the accuracy of election results, and ultimately chaos heading into the upcoming November 3, 2020 General Election,” the lawsuit reads. 

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The suit claims the issues are a “direct result” of Pennsylvania’s “hazardous hurried, and illegal implementation of unmonitored mail-in voting” that the Trump campaign and Republicans claim can lead to fraud and “chaos.” 

A spokesperson for Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, a Democrat, said the department will not comment on pending litigation.

Pennsylvania passed a law last year that expanded mail-in ballot voting options to allow anyone to vote by mail without providing a reason.

The lawsuit argues, however, that during the June 2 primary voters used procedures that were not outlined in the new law including submitting absentee and mail-in ballots at locations such as shopping centers, parking lots, fairgrounds, parks, retirement homes, college campuses, fire halls, municipal government buildings and elected official’s offices. 

The suit also says that this was done with “the knowledge, consent and/or approval of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.” 

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The Trump campaign and Republicans are seeking an order that would prohibit Pennsylvania from permitting absentee and mail-in ballots to be returned to locations other than the offices of the county boards of elections.

They’re also seeking an order that bars the county election board from counting absentee and mail-in ballots that “lack a secrecy envelope” or have any text or symbols on envelopes revealing the elector’s identity, party affiliation or candidate preference.

Unilever to pull ads from Twitter, Instagram and Facebook through end of the year

Unilever, which controls brands including Dove soap and Hellmann’s Mayonnaise, announced Friday that it is pulling brand advertisements from Twitter, Instagram and Facebook until “at least” the end of 2020.

The decision was made after several other major companies pulled advertisements from Facebook as part of an advertising boycott called for by the Stop Hate for Profit campaign over allegations that Facebook had not done enough to rein in hateful content, particularly in the wake of protests over the police killing of George Floyd. 

Unilever wrote in a blog post pointed to the “polarized atmosphere in the U.S.,” such as “hate speech” during the run up to the presidential election in November, as being a major contributing factor to pulling brand advertisements.

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“We have decided that starting now through at least the end of the year, we will not run brand advertising in social media newsfeed platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S.,” Unilever wrote. “Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society. We will be monitoring ongoing and will revisit our current position if necessary.”

Instead, the company said it would continue advertising in the U.S. through “shifting to other media” and working with advertising industry forums “to drive action, transparency, clarify policies and create consistency in enforcement.”

“The complexities of the current cultural landscape have placed a renewed responsibility on brands to learn, respond and act to drive a trusted and safe digital ecosystem,” the company wrote. 

The Wall Street Journal was the first to report on Unilever’s decision.

Other Unilever brands include Lipton tea, Vaseline, Talenti Gelato and Sorbetto, Degree deodorant and TRESemmé hair products. The company also represents Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, which announced separately earlier this week that it would pull its ads from Facebook and Instagram.

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Facebook, which owns Instagram, pushed back against claims it had not done enough to curb hate speech, though acknowledged more work could be done.

“We invest billions of dollars each year to keep our community safe and continuously work with outside experts to review and update our policies,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Hill in a statement. “We’ve opened ourselves up to a civil rights audit, and we have banned 250 white supremacist organizations from Facebook and Instagram. The investments we have made in AI mean that we find nearly 90 percent of Hate Speech before users report it to us, while a recent EU [European Union] report found Facebook assessed more hate speech reports in 24 hours than Twitter and YouTube.”

The spokesperson added that “we know we have more work to do, and we’ll continue to work with civil rights groups, GARM [Global Alliance for Responsible Media], and other experts to develop even more tools, technology and policies to continue this fight.”

Sarah Personette, the vice president of Global Client Solutions at Twitter, told The Hill in a statement that the company is “respectful of our partners’ decisions and will continue to work and communicate closely with them during this time.”

“Our mission is to serve the public conversation and ensure Twitter is a place where people can make human connections, seek and receive authentic and credible information, and express themselves freely and safely,” Personette said. “We have developed policies and platform capabilities designed to protect and serve the public conversation, and as always, are committed to amplifying voices from underrepresented communities and marginalized groups.”

Other companies that have announced they are pulling ads from Facebook include Verizon, Patagonia, The North Face and REI in support of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign.

Updated at 1:50 p.m. 

US fighter jets intercept four more Russian aircraft

U.S. fighter jets intercepted four Russian aircraft that entered the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Saturday, the latest in a series of incidents off the Alaskan coast.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said in a statement that F-22 jets intercepted four Russian Tu-142 reconnaissance aircraft entering the ADIZ. The Russian aircraft came within 65 nautical miles of the Alaskan Aleutian Islands and remained in the ADIZ for nearly eight hours, though they did not enter United States or Canadian sovereign airspace.

Saturday’s interception was at least the fourth such incident this month, with the most recent one occurring Wednesday when U.S. F-22 fighter jets intercepted two Russian IL-38 maritime patrol aircraft entering the ADIZ.

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“This year alone, NORAD forces have identified and intercepted Russian military aircraft including bombers, fighters, and maritime patrol aircraft on ten separate occasions when they have flown into the ADIZ,” said Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, NORAD commander.

“Despite COVID-19, we remain fully ready and capable of conducting our no-fail mission of homeland defense,” he added.

In March and again in April, the U.S. military also intercepted Russian aircraft that got within 50 nautical miles of the Alaskan coast, though the latest interceptions have occurred closer to it.

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Lawsuit challenges Trump administration waterway protection rollback

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has again been sued over its rollback of Obama-era waterway protections.

On Thursday, the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), on behalf of four other environmental groups, sued the agency, claiming that the new rule conflicts with the Clean Water Act and “disregards” science “without any rational, let alone ‘reasonable,’ explanation.”

“The Trump EPA’s definition of waters protected under the Clean Water Act not only goes against a commonsense reading of the law, but also against the accepted science of how water bodies become polluted,” said a statement from EIP attorney Sunny Lee. 

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“With this legal action we hope to reveal, once again, the extent to which this administration is rolling back critical environmental regulations at the expense of public health simply so industry can save a few dollars cutting corners,” Lee said. 

In January, the Trump administration finalized a rule that would limit protections against pollution for smaller bodies of water. 

Proponents believe that regulating these smaller waterways is not necessary while opponents argue that contamination in these streams often flows into larger bodies of water, including drinking water sources. 

An EPA spokesperson told The Hill in a statement that the rule “strikes the proper balance between state and federal jurisdiction and is designed to end the confusion that has existed for decades.”

Several other lawsuits have been filed over the rule, which went into effect this week after a federal judge declined to block it. 

However, a Colorado-based suit was able to prevent the rule from becoming effective in that state.

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Army to drop photos from soldier records to quell racial bias

The Army will stop using photos of soldiers on records used when choosing to promote service members and for other personnel matters in an effort to halt racial bias in such decisions, top Army officials said Thursday.

The move — part of a new initiative known as Project Inclusion which will also include an examination of any racial disparity in military justice cases — will be put into action beginning in August and is meant to improve diversity across the force, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthyRyan McCarthyOvernight Defense: Army to drop photos from soldier records to reduce racial bias | House defense bill backs B pandemic preparedness fund | Bill targets potential troop drawdowns Army to drop photos from soldier records to quell racial bias Overnight Defense: Senate turns focus to defense bill | GOP senator pushes to remove Confederate provision | Trump signals US troops moving from Germany to Poland MORE told reporters at the Pentagon.

The effort is the Army’s first major change in response to reactions stemming from the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed by Minneapolis police last month. Floyd’s death sparked protests nationwide and new scrutiny on racial disparities and biases within the military and other institutions.

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As part of that move, Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperTrump administration to extend troops at the border through 2021 Overnight Defense: Army to drop photos from soldier records to reduce racial bias | House defense bill backs B pandemic preparedness fund | Bill targets potential troop drawdowns House defense bill targets potential troop drawdowns in Africa, South Korea MORE last week announced an internal review aimed at finding ways to “ensure equal opportunity across all ranks.”

“We are all going to be traveling to our installations to meet with groups of soldiers in small venues and have very hard, uncomfortable conversations,” McCarthy said. “A lot has to be done to address the symbolic challenges that we face that could create divisiveness in our ranks … this will be an enduring effort for the Army.”

The widespread protests have also broadly led to debates about Confederate symbols. The Army said it was open to renaming its 10 bases named for Confederates before President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump administration calls for Supreme Court to strike down ObamaCare Trump says there will be ‘retribution’ for those who deface monuments White House task force tracking coronavirus spikes even as Trump says virus is ‘going away’: report MORE earlier this month tweeted his staunch opposition to doing so.

Asked if he had heard from service members that are expressing discomfort with the names of the 10 bases, McCarthy said leaders, including Esper, have had discussions on a militarywide policy on the matter.  

“Obviously the Commander-in-Chief put out specific guidance related to bases … looking at what is the uniform policy for confederate symbols, we’re working with the office of the secretary of defense on a policy related to that,” he said.

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McCarthy would not say whether such a policy would overturn decisions made by other military services. The Marine Corps and U.S. Forces Korea have already banned the display of the Confederate battle flag, and the Navy says it will also do so.  

Congress also has a hand in the issue, with dozens of Senate Democrats this week introducing a bill that would require the Pentagon to strip Confederate names from military bases and other property within one year.

Trump, meanwhile, has said he would veto a defense bill that requires changing Confederate names, and that he would “not even consider” renaming the 10 Army bases up for debate.