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Politicians And Celebrities Called Out Covid Relief Bill Across Social Media – Forbes

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On Monday lawmakers passed the $900 billion Covid-19 relief bill. It was the largest pieces of legislation ever at 5,593 pages. While it was drafted to extend economic assistance to Americans, many lawmakers took to social media to offer their criticism that it was impossible to know exactly what was in the bill. Reading it was hardly an option as lawmakers had just six hours to read the nearly 6,000 pages before casting their vote.

At issue was the “pork” that was added to the bill.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) (@SenMikeLee) posted multiple tweets complaining that it would be impossible to know what he was voting to support, “This is the spending bill under consideration in Congress today. I received it just moments ago, and will likely be asked to vote on it late tonight. It’s 5,593 pages long. I know there are some good things in it. I’m equally confident that there are bad things in it.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) was among those who called out the bill for including provisions that had absolutely nothing to do with Covid-19 relief, such as making illegal streaming a felony. The New York Congresswoman tweeted, “This is why Congress needs time to actually read this package before voting on it. Members of Congress have not read this bill. It’s over 5000 pages, arrived at 2pm today, and we are told to expect a vote on it in 2 hours. This isn’t governance. It’s hostage-taking.”

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez also was among the politicians that suggested it wasn’t just those on Capitol Hill that should actually know what is the bill being passed by lawmakers. She added, “And by the way, it’s not just members who need to see the bill ahead of time – YOU do. The PUBLIC needs to see these bills w enough time to contact their rep to let them know how they feel. Members are reeling right now bc they don’t have time to consult w/ their communities.”

In a rare sign of bipartisanship during a time of a deeply divided nation, Republicans joined in criticizing the bill.

This included Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has been a vocal critic of Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, and he tweeted (@tedcruz), “.@AOC is right. It’s ABSURD to have a $2.5 trillion spending bill negotiated in secret and then—hours later—demand an up-or-down vote on a bill nobody has had time to read. #CongressIsBroken”

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) (@RepRalphNorman) was among lawmakers who took issue with the size of the bill – both in terms of the number of pages and the amount of money involved, “Folks, we just received a 5,600 page PDF that represents one of the largest spending bills in our history, and NOT ONE Member of Congress will have had time to read through it before voting later today. This is awful governance, and a disservice to the American people.”

This also included Arizona Republican Congressman Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAz), who offered his thoughts on Twitter, “Votes are still expected today on this legislation. No one will be able to read it all in its entirety. Special interests win. Americans lose.”

Of course there were those who fired back at some comments. Michael Muscato (@michael_muscato), who ran as a Democrat in the 2020 election for Arizona’s 8th Congressional district, came off as a bit of a sore loser with a mouthful of sour grapes when he responded to Biggs, “The first 8 pages are the table of contents. I also wouldn’t consider the text to be more than 1/3 of an actual page. Put your big boy pants on and do your job.”

Congresswoman-Elect Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) (@laurenboebert) called out the bill’s inclusion of $600 stimulus checks as a distraction. ” The controversy over the price tag on the $600 stimulus checks is the conversation Congress wants you to have to distract from how absolutely horrible the rest of the COVID-19 relief bill is. There’s a reason they gave a 5,593 page bill to members only hours before the vote!”

Rep.-Elect Boebert also seemed to be one who actually was able to dig into the 5,500 plus pages and called out some of the provisions. “It also includes tons of subsidies for wind and solar. It extends offshore wind credits for five years, extends the Wind PTC for one year, the solar ITC for two years and directs $35.2 billion to so-called ‘clean energy’ projects. The $600 checks are ‘shut up’ money.”

It wasn’t just lawmakers – or would-be lawmakers – that had issue with the bill. Actress/activist Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) was among those who took issue with the bill for not doing enough for struggling families, while the relief package included provisions to help America’s allies.

She tweeted, “Between 30 and 40 million families are at risk of eviction, but Congress can only afford $600 per person. I’m sure the $500 MILLION in arms and military aid to Israel and the $2 BILLION for Air Force missiles will help keep them warm when they are on the streets.”

Clearly those on the extreme right and left are equally unhappy. In business it is said if everyone goes away a little unsatisfied it is a good deal. But if there is this much anger over the relief package, perhaps it is just a bad deal for everyone including the American taxpayers.

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Investors push for social media controls ahead of U.S. inauguration – The Guardian

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By Ross Kerber

BOSTON (Reuters) – Pension fund managers and religious investors on Friday asked top social media companies to step up their content control efforts to reduce the threat of violence ahead of the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden next week.

The effort is the latest pressure on Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc over extreme rhetoric after the storming of the U.S. Capitol last week by supporters of President Donald Trump.

In letters sent on Thursday, the investors – including New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the Service Employees International Union and the Unitarian Universalist Association – asked for steps including disabling the coding they said tends to elevate conspiracy theories and radicalizing content, and for the companies to continue to flag content with hashtags like #Stopthesteal.

In the longer run, boards and executives must review their “business model and reliance on algorithmic decision making, which has been linked to the spread of hate and disinformation online,” the letters said.

Alphabet representatives did not respond to questions. A Facebook spokesman said it has banned over 250 white supremacist groups and enforced rules like those barring militias from organizing on its platform. A Twitter representative cited actions it has taken like suspending accounts that mainly shared QAnon content.

Violent rhetoric on social media platforms has ramped up in recent weeks as groups planned openly for the gathering in Washington, according to researchers and public postings, prompting criticism of the companies for failing to take action in advance.

Twitter and Facebook banned Trump’s accounts last week as the tech giants scrambled to crack down on Trump’s baseless claims of fraud in the U.S. presidential election.

The activist investors together manage about $390 billion in assets but own relatively small stakes in the social media companies. Top shareholders in the space so far have declined to comment on their responses including BlackRock Inc Vanguard Group Inc and Morgan Stanley.

The bans on Trump have prompted concern among other investors that users and advertisers would leave for different platforms. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said the decision was correct but set a dangerous precedent. Facebook operations chief Sheryl Sandberg has said the company has no plans to lift its ban.

(Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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Investors push for social media controls ahead of U.S. inauguration – The Guardian

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By Ross Kerber

BOSTON (Reuters) – Pension fund managers and religious investors on Friday asked top social media companies to step up their content control efforts to reduce the threat of violence ahead of the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden next week.

The effort is the latest pressure on Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc over extreme rhetoric after the storming of the U.S. Capitol last week by supporters of President Donald Trump.

In letters sent on Thursday, the investors – including New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the Service Employees International Union and the Unitarian Universalist Association – asked for steps including disabling the coding they said tends to elevate conspiracy theories and radicalizing content, and for the companies to continue to flag content with hashtags like #Stopthesteal.

In the longer run, boards and executives must review their “business model and reliance on algorithmic decision making, which has been linked to the spread of hate and disinformation online,” the letters said.

Alphabet representatives did not respond to questions. A Facebook spokesman said it has banned over 250 white supremacist groups and enforced rules like those barring militias from organizing on its platform. A Twitter representative cited actions it has taken like suspending accounts that mainly shared QAnon content.

Violent rhetoric on social media platforms has ramped up in recent weeks as groups planned openly for the gathering in Washington, according to researchers and public postings, prompting criticism of the companies for failing to take action in advance.

Twitter and Facebook banned Trump’s accounts last week as the tech giants scrambled to crack down on Trump’s baseless claims of fraud in the U.S. presidential election.

The activist investors together manage about $390 billion in assets but own relatively small stakes in the social media companies. Top shareholders in the space so far have declined to comment on their responses including BlackRock Inc Vanguard Group Inc and Morgan Stanley.

The bans on Trump have prompted concern among other investors that users and advertisers would leave for different platforms. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said the decision was correct but set a dangerous precedent. Facebook operations chief Sheryl Sandberg has said the company has no plans to lift its ban.

(Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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Island mayor calls for de-escalation as social media gets uglier in racism fight – Saanich News

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North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring is calling for civility on social media, even in response to racist comments he himself decried earlier this week.

According to the mayor, threats of violence in response to racist comments resulted in credible threats of suicide by the initial commenter, as well as RCMP involvement.

On Jan. 10, Siebring put a post on his public Facebook page condemning racism that has been directed toward members of Cowichan Tribes following a COVID-19 outbreak in the First Nations community. That post went viral, with more than 200,000 views and extensive media coverage. Many other provincial and even federal leaders have joined Siebring in his call for this racism to cease.

On Jan. 14, Siebring posted again about the harassment some of the posters of racist comments have since received.

According to Siebring’s post, the harassment has included messages such as “You are a disgusting human being,” “Pathetic racist,” “I hope your children catch [COVID-19] and choke,” and “I am white. You are a vile excuse for a human being and I will do everything in my power to make sure your children are removed from you.”

The individual who was targeted with those messages has reached out to Siebring to “apologize unreservedly,” the mayor said.

“This person — and to be clear, there were lots of people posting [objectionable] stuff, not just this individual — initially wrote me a private message saying: ‘I was very wrong. I feel like [expletive]… I did put up an apology which was deleted… (But) there were many remarks on that apology. Some people were going to come to my home and cut me a new [expletive]. As well, I need a huge beating. I was told I should just kill myself.”

That person wrote to the mayor again the next day, saying, “I am ready to kill myself just to save my family from being harrassed.” They have since deleted their Facebook account, and Siebring said he hasn’t been able to respond to the messages.

“But the threats of violence have precipitated RCMP involvement. And the suicidal iterations were real enough to precipitate multiple hours of people sitting with this individual to ensure they didn’t self-harm.”

“Folks, THIS HAS TO STOP,” Siebring wrote. “Racism is wrong. But so is this kind of reaction. We’re all human. We all make mistakes. And we all need to learn to apply grace and forgiveness. Please, please… let’s tone things down.”

Cowichan Tribes councillor Stephanie Atleo said she fully agrees with Siebring.

“I know in seeing some of the messages, a lot of the anger is coming from non-First Nations citizens, and I do appreciate that they’re speaking up and letting individuals know this is not OK, but there are also ways to do that that are OK and not OK. I don’t want anyone to be on suicide watch because they are being harassed.

“I think it goes both ways: whether you are spreading racist remarks or challenging them, how you challenge them says a lot about yourself, too.”

There is sometimes a tendency to “overcompensate,” Atleo said.

“People know they have to do something, and they want to do it boldly,” she noted. “But they can go over the edge and be as cruel as the original act.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

READ MORE: Cowichan Valley leaders condemn COVID-related racism

READ MORE: Racism towards Cowichan Tribes in COVID-19 fight is denounced by federal minister

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