Expect heavy snow and strong winds that could create blizzard-like conditions into Thursday across much of the New York area.
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Far-right groups like the Proud Boys, seen here marching in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 12, are increasingly organizing their activities on messaging services like Telegram. Stephanie Keith/Getty ImagesRight-wing extremists called for open revolt against the U.S. government for months on social media following the election in November. Behind the scenes on private messaging services, many of them recruited new followers, organized and planned actions, including the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Encrypted messaging platforms like Telegram, which was launched in 2013, have become places for violent extremists to meet up and organize. Telegram serves a dual purpose. It created a space where conversations can occur openly in the service’s public channels. Those who wanted more privacy can message one another through private chats. In these private chats, violent extremists can share tactics, organize themselves and radicalize, something I’ve observed in my research of hate and extremism. New Telegram users are exposed to violent extremist beliefs on the public side of Telegram and then group members carry out the logistics of recruiting and organizing in the private chats. Online extremism’s long history Violent extremists’ use of the internet is not new. In the 1990s, electronic bulletin boards and simple websites allowed white supremacists, neo-Nazis, anti-government groups and a variety of other violent extremists to sell their ideologies and recruit. In the 2000s, mainstream social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter became the new way for extremists to recruit and spread their beliefs. For many years, these groups cultivated their online presences and gained followers on these mainstream platforms. Alternative social media outlets, including Gab, 4chan and 8kun (formerly 8chan), developed shortly thereafter. These provided forums where violent extremists could post hate speech and calls for violence without fear of being blocked. Studies have shown that after 2010 social media generally contributed to an increase in radicalization of individuals by violent extremist movements in the U.S. During this time, extremist groups have shifted their organizing to messaging platforms, particularly Telegram. In the case of far-right violent extremists, Telegram served as a major meeting spot and venue for coordinating their efforts. For example, users were able to share links in the private chats where individuals could buy guns and other weapons. Unintended consequences As these extremist movements proliferated online, some social media outlets attempted to stop it. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter began to block these types of users in recent years in an arguably limited manner. Mainstream conservative audiences on Facebook and Twitter left for new platforms like Parler that were seen as more friendly to conservative views. Conservative political leaders and pundits like U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes and Fox News talk show host Sean Hannity helped this migration by promoting the new conservative platforms. This created a bridge between those coming from the nonviolent side of the far right and far-right violent extremists, which in turn created an environment that set the stage for the attack on the U.S. Capitol. The migration to private channels on messaging platforms also made it more difficult for law enforcement agencies to track far-right groups’ activities. The attack on the Capitol Throughout the early spring and summer of 2020, disinformation about the upcoming U.S. elections was plentiful. As Twitter, Facebook and YouTube placed greater restrictions on user content, far-right violent extremist and conspiracy movements, in particular the QAnon movement, began to migrate to Parler, Gab and increasingly to Telegram. In the aftermath of the 2020 U.S. elections and the defeat of Donald Trump, these spaces gained greater importance as places for radicalization. People who have never seen content by the Proud Boys, QAnon, militias and anti-government groups were exposed to it in the public channels of Telegram. People with conservative or pro-Trump views embraced some of this new content because it offered an alternative reality they preferred. Calls for protests and violent opposition against the counting of the Electoral College votes by the U.S. Congress on Jan. 6 could be found throughout the platforms, particularly on Telegram. In my tracking of content on Telegram, MeWe and other encrypted platforms on Jan. 5 and the day of the attack, I saw calls for violent opposition and civil war. Some Republicans became targets of ridicule and claims they were traitors as they called for the counting to proceed unhindered. Vice President Mike Pence was labeled a traitor, and calls for his arrest and execution could be seen on Twitter accounts and throughout Telegram. For months, Telegram private chats allowed people to organize and coordinate their actions in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6. As the violence unfolded at the U.S. Capitol and rioters got into offices and various rooms in the building, participants used a wide range of social media platforms in the far-right online ecosystem to both report the events and to call more people to arms. A post about the attack on the U.S. Capitol on the alternative social media platform MeWe, posted Jan. 6, 2021. Screen capture by Kevin Grisham, CC BY-NC-ND The aftermath of Jan. 6 In the aftermath of the attack on the Capitol, Facebook began barring individuals – including Trump – from their platforms. In the case of Parler, Amazon canceled the hosting services for its site, and it went dark. As a result, a significant number of Parler users migrated to Telegram. Parler is attempting to return to service with help from a Russian internet company. As announcements went out that Parler was going dark, various individuals and groups on Telegram created parallel channels on Telegram. It became a lifeboat for those users who needed a new home. Megan Squire, a professor of computer science at Elon University, estimated one channel associated with the Proud Boys grew 54% from Jan. 6 to Jan. 12. As the migration continues, I’ve observed a nexus between members of the MAGA movement and violent far-right extremists is growing. This led to more calls for violence and protests at state capitols and at the Inauguration Day activities in Washington, D.C., though no violence occurred. People who expressed a willingness to perform these actions found support in this rapidly transforming far-right ecosystem that has Telegram at its center. For years, social media allowed far-right violent extremists to recruit and organize on a multitude of platforms. This online bridge between violent and nonviolent individuals helped lay the groundwork for the events Jan. 6. Now, with scores of arrests for the Capitol attack, Trump out of power and Joe Biden in office, far-right groups are using platforms like Telegram and Gab to take stock of their setbacks. If they do regroup and plan further violent actions, they are likely to do so on the same platforms.This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Kevin Grisham, California State University San Bernardino. Read more:Biden’s peaceful inauguration doesn’t end America’s longtime coup addictionShantyTok: is the sugar and rum line in Wellerman a reference to slavery? Kevin Grisham does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
- Architectural Digest
- CBS News
- Associated Press
The master tenant of a cluttered, dilapidated San Francisco Bay Area warehouse where 36 people perished in a late-night fire in 2016 is scheduled to plead guilty Friday to the deaths, avoiding a second trial after the first ended in a hung jury. Families of several victims told the East Bay Times last week that prosecutors told them Derick Almena, 50, will plead guilty to 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter in exchange for a nine-year sentence. Almena may serve little or none of that term because of time already spent behind bars and credit for good behavior.
- National Review
Biden Admonishes Reporter for Questioning Whether Vaccine Goal Is Ambitious Enough: ‘Give Me a Break’
President Biden pushed back on a reporter at a press briefing on Thursday, who questioned whether the new administration’s coronavirus vaccine goal is ambitious enough. Biden has set a goal to vaccinate 100 million Americans during his first 100 days in office. During the press conference, Biden called the Trump administration’s distribution of coronavirus vaccines a “dismal failure so far,” warning that “things are going to continue to get worse before they get better.” However, the seven-day rolling average for coronavirus vaccine doses administered to Americans currently sits at 912,000, according to the Bloomberg vaccine tracker. (On Wednesday alone, 1.6 million doses were administered.) This indicates that the Biden administration is not far from its goal of vaccinating one million Americans per day. On Thursday, Associated Press reporter Zeke Miller asked Biden if the vaccination goal was “high enough,” since “that’s basically where the U.S. is right now.” “When I announced it you all said it wasn’t possible. Come on, give me a break, man,” Biden responded. “It’s a good start, a hundred million.” Internal projections from the Trump administration showed that the U.S. could administer at least 170 million doses by the end of April, two Trump administration officials told Bloomberg. During the press conference, Biden also announced that he would invoke the Defense Production Act to “accelerate the making of everything that’s needed to protect, test, and vaccinate and the care of our people.” Biden warned that the death toll from coronavirus infections would hit 500,000 in February. Over 408,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 as of Thursday.
The European Parliament called on EU governments to recognise Juan Guaido as Venezuela's interim president in a resolution on Thursday, after a downgrade of his status by the bloc earlier this month. The EU's 27 states said on Jan. 6 they can no longer legally recognise Guaido as the country's legitimate head of state after he lost his position as head of parliament following legislative elections in Venezuela in December, despite the EU not recognising that vote. The European Parliament "calls on ... the member states to unequivocally recognise the constitutional continuation of the legitimate National Assembly of Venezuela elected in 2015 and the legitimate interim President of Venezuela Juan Guaido", it said.
- The Week
One of former President Donald Trump's last acts in office was issuing a directive extending free Secret Service protection to his four adult children and two of their spouses for the next six months, three people with knowledge of the matter told The Washington Post.It's not just his adult children benefiting — Trump also directed that former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, and former National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien continue to receive Secret Service protection for six months, two people familiar with the matter told the Post. This 24-hour security, funded by taxpayer money, is expected to cost millions.Under federal law, only Trump, former first lady Melania Trump, and their 14-year-old son, Barron, are entitled to Secret Service protection now that they have left the White House; while Donald and Melania can receive protection for the rest of their lives, Barron is only entitled to it up until his 16th birthday.The Post notes that presidents have the ability to order Secret Service protection for anyone they want, but it is extremely unusual for an outgoing president to order this type of security for their children who are well into adulthood. It is also unclear if there is precedent for ordering security for former aides. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush requested security extensions for their daughters, who were in college when their presidencies ended. Once former President Barack Obama was out of office, his daughters — one in high school, the other on a gap year from college — received a short extension of security.During Trump's presidency, his adult children took more than 4,500 trips, including vacations and business travel for the Trump Organization, the Post reports. Taxpayers paid millions of dollars for Secret Service agents to accompany them on those jaunts.More stories from theweek.com 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit Biden removes Trump's Diet Coke button from the Oval Office Trump's team fired the White House chief usher right before Biden took office, maybe at Biden's request
- NBC News
Southlake is known for its top-ranked public schools. But a heated fight over a diversity plan has some parents questioning their future in the city.
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President Joe Biden signed 15 executive actions on Wednesday hours after he was sworn into office, many aimed at sweeping away former President Donald Trump's policies, including mandating masks on federal property.
The United Nations Office for Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs said on Wednesday it has halted programs in Venezuela that provide cash transfers to the poor via local nonprofit organizations. The U.N. office known as OCHA is asking the government of President Nicolas Maduro to establish clear rules regarding cash transfers. "We're working with pertinent authorities so that the (cash transfer programs) are in line with the country's financial/banking regulatory framework with the aim of reactivating them, guaranteeing the safety of humanitarian workers and continuing to support ... vulnerable people," OCHA said in an email.
- The Telegraph
Governor General Julie Payette, the Queen's representative in Canada, resigned on Thursday ahead of the release of a reportedly scathing report on workplace harassment claims levelled against her office. The independent review had been ordered by the government last July when allegations of a "toxic" climate at Rideau Hall – the official residence of the governor general – first surfaced. Canadian media, citing unnamed sources briefed on its contents, said the review's conclusions were damning. "In respect for the integrity of my viceregal office and for the good of our country and of our democratic institutions, I have come to the conclusion that a new governor general should be appointed," Ms Payette said in a statement. And so, she added, "I have submitted my resignation... [and] I have informed the prime minister of Canada of my decision." Current and former staff at the governor general's office had alleged that Ms Payette bullied, yelled at and publicly humiliated staff, some of whom left her office in tears. Ms Payette responded at the time that she took the allegations very seriously. The resignation of a governor general, especially under such circumstances, is unprecedented in Canada's history.
- Associated Press
In a final swipe at China, the Trump administration’s outgoing U.N. ambassador tweeted that it's time for the world to oppose China’s efforts to exclude and isolate Taiwan, drawing sharp criticism from Beijing. To make the point even more graphic, Ambassador Kelly Craft accompanied the tweet with a photo of herself in the U.N. General Assembly Hall where the island is banned.
- Yahoo News 360
Recent history shows the opportunity to pass major bills can disappear quickly. What should Democrats’ top priority be?
A Cape Verde court has granted house arrest to a Colombian businessman linked to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro who is wanted by U.S. authorities on charges of money laundering, his lawyers said on Thursday. The archipelago nation detained Alex Saab when his plane stopped to refuel in June. "We look forward to (Saab) now being able to receive the specialist medical attention he needs as well as being able to engage with all his defense, his family as well as access to Venezuela consular officials," said Jose-Manuel Monteiro, one of Saab's lawyers, in a statement.
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- The Week