Trump’s order on social media could backfire on him

“President Trump, who built his political career on the power of a flame-throwing Twitter account, has now gone to war with Twitter, angered that it would presume to fact-check his messages. But the punishment he is threatening could force social media companies to crack down even more on customers just like Mr. Trump,” as The New York Times is reporting.

“The executive order that Mr. Trump signed on Thursday seeks to strip liability protection in certain cases for companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook for the content on their sites, meaning they could face legal jeopardy if they allowed false and defamatory posts. Without a liability shield, they presumably would have to be more aggressive about policing messages that press the boundaries — like the president’s.

“That, of course, is not the outcome Mr. Trump wants. What he wants is to have the freedom to post anything he likes without the companies applying any judgment to his messages, as Twitter did this week when it began appending “get the facts” warnings to some of his false posts on voter fraud. Furious at what he called “censorship” — even though his messages were not in fact deleted — Mr. Trump is wielding the proposed executive order like a club to compel the company to back down.

“It may not work even as intended. Plenty of lawyers quickly said on Thursday that he was claiming power to do something he does not have the power to do by essentially revising the interpretation of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the main law passed by Congress in 1996 to lay out the rules of the road for online media. Legal experts predicted such a move would be challenged and most likely struck down by the courts.”

The rest of the article is here.

Trump threatens to crack down on social media companies

“The Trump administration is preparing an executive order intended to curtail the legal protections that shield social media companies from liability for what gets posted on their platforms, two senior administration officials said early Thursday,” according to the New York Times.

“Such an order, which officials said was still being drafted and was subject to change, would make it easier for federal regulators to argue that companies like Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter are suppressing free speech when they move to suspend users or delete posts, among other examples.

“The move is almost certain to face a court challenge and is the latest salvo by President Trump in his repeated threats to crack down on online platforms. Twitter this week attached fact-checking notices to two of the president’s tweets after he made false claims about voter fraud, and Mr. Trump and his supporters have long accused social media companies of silencing conservative voices.

“White House officials said the president would sign the order later Thursday, but they declined to comment on its content. A spokesman for Twitter declined to comment.”

The rest of the article is here.

U.S. coronavirus death toll passes 100,000 milestone

“The coronavirus pandemic has reached a fearsome new milestone as of Wednesday night — 100,000 U.S. lives lost,” according to the PBS News Hour. “That number exceeds all the American dead in the Korean and Vietnam Wars combined. Although the House of Representatives made history by allowing proxy votes for the first time to avoid travel amid the pandemic, businesses across the country continued to reopen. Lisa Desjardins reports.”

Twitter labels Trump tweets as “potentially misleading” for the first time

“On Tuesday, Twitter labeled two tweets from President Donald Trump making false statements about mail-in voting as ‘potentially misleading.’ It’s the first time the platform has fact-checked the president,” as The Verge is reporting.

“The label was imposed on two tweets Trump posted Tuesday morning falsely claiming that ‘mail-in ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent’ and would result in ‘a rigged election.’ The tweets focused primarily on California’s efforts to expand mail-in voting due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. On Sunday, the Republican National Committee sued California Governor Gavin Newsom over the state’s moves to expand mail-in voting.

“According to a Twitter spokesperson, the tweets ‘contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots.’ When a user sees the tweets from Trump, a link from Twitter is attached to them that says ‘Get the facts about mail-in ballots.’ The link leads to a collection of tweets and news articles debunking the president’s statements.

The rest of the article is here.

Rep. LaMalfa surfaces in downtown Grass Valley to throw political pasties

Congressman Doug LaMalfa (credit: Daily Kos)

At lunchtime on Friday, the parking lot next to Grass Valley City Hall — best known for hosting the city’s annual Cornish pasty tossing contest — was transformed into western Nevada County’s version of Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley.

Only this time the “free speech movement” was a thinly veiled — and typically irreverent — political protest to challenge Democratic governor Gavin Newsom’s criteria to allow businesses to safely reopen in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed over 338,200 people (including more Americans than the Vietnam War).

Our dog scarfs up a pasty at the annual Cornish pasty toss in Grass Valley

The group’s keynote speaker was none other than U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa, AKA a “rice farmer whose cowboy-hat branding on campaign materials includes the slogan ‘one of us,'” as the Redding newspaper once aptly summed up. He beat challenger Audrey Denney in a heated March 2020 election for the District 1 Congressional seat.

In Nevada County, however, Denney prevailed handily (see results on page 5). She received about 49 percent of the county’s vote compared with 44 percent for LaMalfa.

He’s “One of Us”

On Friday, LaMalfa rode into town to try to fire up his base — in this case about 100 like-minded citizens who were growing impatient with Newsom’s efforts to reopen California. The news (complete with hundreds of comments) unfolded on Facebook — a sign of the times.

The protest was quintessential Nevada County politics: One gentleman was marching around the parking lot waiving a big yellow “Don’t tread on me” flag — like the one seen at State of Jefferson rallies; a woman was holding a handwritten sign reading “USA before China and Mexico”— and another fellow was waiving a California state flag that was turned upside down.

“There appeared to be little concern, and during speeches little caution, for physical distancing,” as The Union reported. “A few people wore masks except for those in the media, as well as LaMalfa, who at times covered his face with one.” (I watched the protest “live” on a video streamed at TheUnion.com).

Deciding that “discretion was the better part of valor,” two County Supes who were planning to attend dropped out. And the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce rescinded its support of the protest. Good idea!

YubaNet did a good job of summing up the afternoon: “Reopen rally is like a double fault at match point — Fumbling at the finish line is heartbreaking and counterproductive.”

And the Presidential election is still 164 days away.

“Stay strong and take care, Nevada County”


“Stay strong and take care, Nevada County. If you have questions or need access to resources, please reach out to 211 Connecting Point at 1-833-DIAL211. If you are a business owner with questions about reopening, email us at COVID19Recovery@co.nevada.ca.us. For more information about coronavirus in Nevada County, visit http://www.mynevadacounty.com/coronavirus.” — County of Nevada, CA

“Don’t fear books”

“Where do Peter Orner’s characters come from? Will the global pandemic appear somehow in his future work? And what comes next for the award-winning author and Dartmouth College professor? Orner joined Alta Asks Live and host Heather Scott Partington on Wednesday, May 20 at 12:30 p.m. PST to discuss his short story collection, Maggie Brown & Others, and much, much more.”

“Peter Orner is the author of six books, most recently Maggie Brown & Others, a New York Times Notable Book and an Oprah Magazine Best Books of 2019. His memoir/essay collection, Am I Alone Here?: Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. A longtime San Franciscan, he currently teaches at Dartmouth College.”

Alta magazine

College calendars in the pandemic: No Fall break and home by Thanksgiving

“As colleges make plans to bring students back to campus, alongside discussions of mask requirements and half-empty classrooms, one common strategy is emerging: Forgoing fall break and getting students home before Thanksgiving,” as the New York Times is reporting.

“The University of South Carolina, Notre Dame, Rice and Creighton are among the schools that have said they will find ways to shorten the fall semester, in an attempt to avoid a ‘second wave’ of coronavirus infections expected to emerge in late fall.

“Built into their calculations, university officials say, are epidemiological assumptions that reducing travel will help students avoid contracting and spreading the virus, and that any easing of the pandemic this summer will end with the return of flu season.

“’We don’t know if the second wave will be weaker or stronger, but there’s a significant risk that this will resurge in the winter,’ said Rice University’s president, David W. Leebron.”

The rest of the article is here.