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YouTube Bans White Supremacists Richard Spencer, David Duke And Stefan Molyneux

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YouTube on Monday terminated accounts belonging to several prominent white supremacists as part of its crackdown on hate speech as more social media platforms move to combat the offensive content amid mounting criticism and pressure to take action.

The platform removed accounts belonging to Canadian far-right vlogger Stefan Molyneux, leading white nationalist figure Richard Spencer and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. It also banned channels associated with the white nationalist group American Renaissance and Spencer’s NPI/Radix account.

These accounts repeatedly or egregiously violated platform policies by alleging that members of protected groups were innately inferior to other peoples, according to YouTube. The platform said it has taken a more aggressive stance against white supremacist content since a June 2019 update to its hate speech policy.

“We have strict policies prohibiting hate speech on YouTube, and terminate any channel that repeatedly or egregiously violates those policies,“ a YouTube spokesperson told HuffPost in a statement. “After updating our guidelines to better address supremacist content, we saw a 5x spike in video removals and have terminated over 25,000 channels for violating our hate speech policies.” 

Molyneux, a self-described philosopher who has amplified conspiracy theories about “white genocide” and peddled eugenics and white nationalist beliefs to hundreds of thousands of YouTube subscribers, tweeted that YouTube had “just suspended the largest philosophy conversation the world has ever known.” He was banned from using PayPal in 2019 and from using MailChimp to send his newsletter earlier this year.

And Spencer, who is facing a lawsuit that names him as an organizer of the violent 2017 “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, said he would “appeal the suspension.”

YouTube’s decision comes on the same day as major moves from two other tech platforms. Livestreaming platform Twitch suspended President Donald Trump’s account for hateful conduct due to comments he made in two recent streams. And Reddit, as part of its own crackdown on hate speech, purged thousands of subreddits, including prominent pro-Trump board r/The_Donald and a subreddit associated with “Chapo Trap House,” a far-left podcast that Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said consistently hosted rule-breaking content that was not reined in by moderators.

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Mississippi gov awaits coronavirus test results after ‘numerous members’ of state House contract virus

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Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves announced on Monday that he is awaiting the results of a coronavirus test after “numerous” members of the state’s House of Representatives tested positive for COVID-19 over the holiday weekend.

Reeves, a Republican, announced on Twitter that he was taking the precautionary measure after being in contact with one of the House members who tested positive – although the governor said he had only “briefly” met with the state lawmaker.

“I’m waiting on the results of a COVID-19 test,” Reeves tweeted. “It appears numerous members of the Mississippi House are confirmed to have contracted the virus last week—only one of whom I was briefly in contact with.”

Reeves did not name the House member that he was in contact with, nor did he address which members of the state legislature had confirmed cases, but House Speaker Philip Gunn said Sunday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus on the same day that state health officials reported more than 200 new infections and five deaths linked to the pandemic.

Gunn, a Republican from the Jackson suburb of Clinton, said in a video posted to Facebook that he got tested because he had been in close proximity to another member of the House who tested positive.

CORONAVIRUS IN THE US: STATE-BY-STATE BREAKDOWN

Gunn said he called everyone that he had been in close proximity to recently to let them know of his diagnosis and he planned to self-quarantine. He also called on the state’s residents to do the same if they find out they’re infected: “We need to make sure that we do everything we can to get this past us as quickly as possible.”

Gunn is the state’s highest-ranking political figure to publicly disclose a positive test for the coronavirus. He did not identify the other House member.

The legislature is out of session now but had been meeting several days a week during the past month. While some legislators or others at the Capitol wore masks, many others did not while sitting in close proximity in the House and Senate floor and in committee rooms.

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The Mississippi Department of Health posted its latest coronavirus statistics Sunday. The state recorded 226 new cases through Saturday, bringing the total number of confirmed and probable infections to 30,900 across the state. Five more people also died from COVID-19. The deaths came in Harrison, Hinds, Lawrence, Lowndes and Walthall counties.

One other legislator has reported testing positive for the virus as well. Democratic Rep. Bo Brown of Jackson told the Clarion Ledger on Thursday that he had received a positive test result for COVID-19. Brown, 70, told the Ledger he took a test about a week earlier because he was feeling a little unsteady and weak.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Supreme Court Justices Rule States Can Bind Presidential Electors’ Votes

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that states can require presidential electors to back their states’ popular vote winner in the Electoral College.

The ruling, just under four months before the 2020 election, leaves in place laws in 32 states and the District of Columbia that bind electors to vote for the popular-vote winner, and electors almost always do so anyway.

So-called faithless electors have not been critical to the outcome of a presidential election, but that could change in a race decided by just a few electoral votes. It takes 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the court that a state may instruct “electors that they have no ground for reversing the vote of millions of its citizens. That direction accords with the Constitution — as well as with the trust of a Nation that here, We the People rule.”

The justices had scheduled arguments for the spring so they could resolve the issue before the election, rather than amid a potential political crisis after the country votes.

When the court heard arguments by telephone in May because of the coronavirus outbreak, justices invoked fears of bribery and chaos if electors could cast their ballots regardless of the popular vote outcome in their states.

The issue arose in lawsuits filed by three Hillary Clinton electors in Washington state and one in Colorado who refused to vote for her despite her popular vote win in both states. In so doing, they hoped to persuade enough electors in states won by Donald Trump to choose someone else and deny Trump the presidency.

The federal appeals court in Denver ruled that electors can vote as they please, rejecting arguments that they must choose the popular-vote winner. In Washington, the state Supreme Court upheld a $1,000 fine against the three electors and rejected their claims.

In all, there were 10 faithless electors in 2016, including a fourth in Washington, a Democratic elector in Hawaii and two Republican electors in Texas. In addition, Democratic electors who said they would not vote for Clinton were replaced in Maine and Minnesota.

The closest Electoral College margin in recent years was in 2000, when Republican George W. Bush received 271 votes to 266 for Democrat Al Gore. One elector from Washington, D.C., left her ballot blank.

The Supreme Court played a decisive role in that election, ending a recount in Florida, where Bush held a 537-vote margin out of 6 million ballots cast.

The justices scheduled separate arguments in the Washington and Colorado cases after Justice Sonia Sotomayor belatedly removed herself from the Colorado case because she knows one of the plaintiffs.

In asking the Supreme Court to rule that states can require electors to vote for the state winner, Colorado had urged the justices not to wait until “the heat of a close presidential election.”

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As the Virus Surged, Florida Partied. Tracking the Revelers Has Been Tough.

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“We failed to act,” she said.

The socializing that followed Florida’s rapid economic reopening has left the state reeling from the virus. The Department of Health reported more than 11,400 infections on Saturday, a record. Florida cases made up 20 percent of all U.S. cases on Thursday. Patients with Covid-19 have begun to fill up Florida hospital wards, forcing some hospitals to scrap elective surgeries, as they did early on in the pandemic. More than 3,600 people have died, including an 11-year-old boy.

Desperate local officials have adopted local mask requirements and closed the beaches over the long holiday weekend. Some communities were deploying teams to go door-to-door in the hardest hit neighborhoods, distributing masks, hand sanitizers and fliers with information on coronavirus symptoms and testing.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, insisted there would be no new shutdown, but a piecemeal rollback is still underway: The state banned drinking at bars. Miami-Dade County ordered entertainment venues to close again and imposed a curfew

“If everyone is enjoying life but doing it responsibly, we’re going to be fine,” Mr. DeSantis said on Thursday in Tampa after a visit from Vice President Mike Pence.

The Florida Department of Health has about 1,600 students, epidemiologists and other staff doing contact tracing, and it has hired a contractor to bring on 600 more people, for a total of 2,200. That is about a third of the roughly 6,400 tracers that will be needed to meet the target of 30 tracers per 100,000 people recommended by the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

With so much community spread, trying to trace the contacts of every positive case becomes unrealistic, several public health officials said.

“We may have to change the priorities on tracing as the numbers continue to increase, because at some point it is like drinking out of a fire hose,” said Dr. Raul Pino, the health department officer in Orlando.

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