June 29, 2020

Reddit has banned about 2,000 forums, including the pro-Trump section, The_Donald.

Reddit announced on Monday it was banning a large number of subreddits, most of which it says are inactive, as part of a crackdown against hate speech, The New York Times reports. Among them was The_Donald, the board for supporters of President Trump that had almost 800,000 users. Trump has in the past tweeted memes that were first posted there.

"Reddit is a place for community and belonging, not for attacking people," Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said, per the Times. "The_Donald has been in violation of that."

A post to Reddit's announcement subreddit laid out the site's new content policy, saying that "communities and users that promote hate based on identity or vulnerability will be banned." As far as The_Donald goes, the announcement said it has "consistently hosted and upvoted more rule-breaking content than average," as well as "antagonized us and other communities," and "its mods have refused to meet our most basic expectations."

Another popular community to be banned was the group for listeners of the leftist podcast Chapo Trap House. Users who visit the page are now met with a message saying the group was "banned for violating Reddit's rule against promoting hate."

Reddit's former CEO, Ellen Pao, previously said the site should ban the pro-Trump forum. "You should have shut down The_Donald instead of amplifying it and its hate, racism, and violence," Pao wrote earlier this month in a tweet directed at Huffman. "So much of what is happening now lies at your feet." Brendan Morrow

1:32 a.m.

By putting a banner that reads "Welcome to Clifton Where Black Lives Matter" over its main street, a small Virginia town hoped this would be "a first step" in launching discussions on racial equality.

While most people have been supportive of the message, the banner enraged one woman: conservative activist Ginni Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, the only Black member of the Supreme Court.

The city of Clifton shared with The Washington Post a note sent from Ginni Thomas' email account on June 24, which reads, "BLM is a bit of a dangerous Trojan Horse and they are catching well-meaning people into dangerous posturing that can invite mob rule and property looting. Let's not be tricked into joining cause with radical extremists seeking to foment a cultural revolution because they hate America." Ginni Thomas, who is white, did not respond to the Post's request for comment.

Clifton Mayor William R. Holloway told the Post the banner is "the biggest controversy we've seen in many years." Residents received an anonymous mailer that tried to link the Black Lives Matter movement to "international conspiracies," and there were angry comments posted on the Clifton Facebook page.

About 300 people live in Clifton, with the population mostly white. During a Tuesday town council meeting, nearly all of the residents who got up to speak about the banner had nothing but good things to say. Mark Cherry, an African American resident, said he "never would have guessed that this community would come together ... to make such a clear message of welcome and openness." Read more at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

12:31 a.m.

Jason Zgonc uses music to show his appreciation for the health care workers saving lives at Emory Decatur Hospital in Georgia.

Every night, the 12-year-old trumpet player stands outside the hospital during shift change and puts on a mini-concert, performing songs like "Danny Boy," "America (My Country, 'Tis of Thee)," and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." He was inspired by a New York Philharmonic trumpeter who stands on his balcony and plays in honor of healthcare workers.

Zgonc, who has been performing outside the hospital for more than two months, told CBS News he appreciates the doctors, nurses, and other staffers for "working so hard every day trying to save people's lives," and they can count on him to "be out here playing for them."

For many, it's the highlight of their day. The first time nurse Natalie Schmidts heard the sounds of Zgonc's trumpet, she was coming off a rough shift, and he helped change her perspective. "It gives you a sense of community," she said. Catherine Garcia

July 9, 2020

President Trump praised his cognitive capabilities on Thursday, telling Fox News host Sean Hannity that he did such an "unbelievable" job during a recent assessment that it left his physicians stunned.

Trump said he took a cognitive test "very recently" at Walter Reed Medical Center, because the "radical left was saying, 'Is he all there, is he all there,' and I proved I was all there because I aced it, I aced the test." The doctors, he continued, were "very surprised. They said, 'That's an unbelievable thing, rarely does anybody do what you just did.'"

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said earlier this month that he has "constantly" been taking cognitive tests, and Trump told Hannity he is certain that Biden misspoke. "He didn't mean that, because you don't have tests that often ... he meant COVID," Trump declared. The president regularly accuses Biden of experiencing mental decline, and said he must have been "confused by the question and the words and everything else."

Trump challenged Biden to take the same test he did, but doesn't think doctors will be left slack-jawed in amazement. "He couldn't pass one," Trump said. Catherine Garcia

July 9, 2020

A White House reporter who attended press briefings on Monday and Wednesday has tested positive for COVID-19.

The unnamed journalist "wore a mask the entire time they were on the White House complex," Jonathan Karl, president of the White House Correspondents' Association, told the New York Post in an email Thursday. "The individual is asymptomatic. We are contacting those who the individual recalled being in close contact."

Karl also said the reporter was only in the briefing room, "not elsewhere in our workspace." The White House is offering coronavirus tests to members of the press who were near the journalist. Catherine Garcia

July 9, 2020

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley on Thursday told the House Armed Services Committee that Russia and other U.S. adversaries have been supplying "training, money, weapons, propaganda ... and a lot of other things" to the Taliban for years, and the Trump administration was "perhaps" not doing "as much as we could or should" to stop this.

The military has delivered a ground response, he said, but "the issue is higher than that. The issue is at the strategic level. What should or could we be doing at the strategic level?" Options include making diplomatic protests and imposing sanctions, and Milley said "some of that is done. Are we doing as much as we could or should? Perhaps not. Not only to the Russians, but to others. But a lot of it is being done. Some of it's quiet. Some of it's not so quiet."

In late June, The New York Times reported, and other news outlets confirmed, there's significant U.S. intelligence indicating Russia paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. When asked, Milley said the military is "going to dig into this. We're going to get to the bottom of it, this bounty thing. If in fact there's bounties directed by the government of Russia or any of their institutions to kill American soldiers, that's a big deal. We don't have that level of fidelity yet." Catherine Garcia

July 9, 2020

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) says Fox News host Tucker Carlson is questioning her patriotism in order to distract Americans from President Trump's incompetence.

Carlson and Trump are "desperate for America's attention to be on anything other than Donald Trump's failure to lead our nation," she wrote in a searing New York Times op-ed published Thursday. Trump wants Americans to focus on her rather than "mourning the 130,000 Americans killed by a virus he claimed would disappear in February" or remembering he is a "failed commander-in-chief" who has "still apparently done nothing about reports of Russia putting bounties on the heads of American troops in Afghanistan."

An Army veteran, Duckworth lost both her legs while serving in Iraq. Last weekend, she writes, she "expressed an openness to a 'national dialogue' about our founders' complex legacies." In response, Carlson said on his Monday night show she is a "deeply silly and unimpressive person" and one of several top Democrats who "actually hate America."

Duckworth said that "even knowing how my tour in Iraq would turn out," she would "do it all over ago," because of the "importance of protecting our founding values, including every American's right to speak out." She will fight "to defend every American's freedom to have his or her own opinion about Washington's flawed history," Duckworth continued, and Carlson needs to learn "we can honor our founders while acknowledging their serious faults, including the undeniable fact that many of them enslaved Black Americans." He and Trump should also know, she added, "that attacks from self-serving, insecure men who can't tell the difference between true patriotism and hateful nationalism will never diminish my love for this country — or my willingness to sacrifice for it so they don't have to. These titanium legs don't buckle."

Read Duckworth's entire op-ed at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

July 9, 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden pitched his "Buy American" plan in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, and his campaign says the initiative would create at least five million jobs in manufacturing and innovation.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee's plan narrows restrictions on what can be considered an American-made good and calls for investing $400 billion in manufacturing and $300 billion in research and development for several diverse industries, Politico reports. "America can't sit on the sidelines in the race of the future," Biden said. "The Chinese are spending multiple billions of dollars trying to own the technology of the future while we sit with our thumb in our ear."

Biden said President Trump has been all talk and no action, and "after three-and-a-half years of big promises, what do the American people have to show for all of the talk? He promised health care, a health care plan, but never even offered his own bill as he continues to try to wipe out ObamaCare in the middle of a pandemic." Trump has spent the coronavirus crisis "almost singularly focused on the stock market," Biden said, but if elected, he himself will be "laser-focused on working families." Catherine Garcia

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