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Oversight board to rule on Trump’s return to Facebook

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Oversight board to rule on Trump’s return to Facebook


Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, February 28, 2021.

Octavio Jones | Reuters

Facebook’s oversight board on Wednesday will decide whether to uphold the company’s indefinite suspension of former U.S. President Donald Trump, in a much-awaited verdict that may signal how the company will treat rule-breaking world leaders in the future.

Facebook indefinitely blocked Trump’s access to his Facebook and Instagram accounts over concerns of further violent unrest following the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of the former president.

At the time of the suspension, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a post that “the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great.” The company later referred the case to its recently established board, which includes academics, lawyers and rights activists, to decide whether to uphold the ban or restore Trump.

“Both of those decisions are no-win decisions for Facebook,” said Kate Klonick, an assistant law professor at St. John’s University who embedded at Facebook to follow the board’s creation. “So, offloading those to a third party, the Oversight Board, is a win for them no matter what.”

The binding verdict marks a major decision for the board, which rules on a small slice of challenging content decisions and which Facebook created as an independent body as a response to criticism over how it handles problematic material. Facebook has also asked the board to provide recommendations on how it should handle political leaders’ accounts.

Tech platforms have grappled in recent years with how to police world leaders and politicians that violate their guidelines. Facebook has come under fire both from those who think it should abandon its hands-off approach to political speech and those who saw the Trump ban as a worrying act of censorship.

If the board overturns Trump’s ban, it will restore to the former president a social media megaphone he has lacked since being barred in January from platforms including Twitter, which permanently banned him from posting to his more than 88 million followers, and Snap Inc. Facebook will have seven days to act on the board’s decision.

Trump, who has been sending out short, emailed press releases, continued to promote election misinformation in one on Monday, saying “the Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!”

On Tuesday, he launched a new webpage to share messages that readers can then re-post to their Facebook or Twitter accounts.

Facebook has said Trump, who has 35 million Facebook followers, would be subject to the same policies as ordinary users after the end of his presidency. This means that if Trump returned to the platform, his posts would now be eligible for fact-checking. Following a widening of the board’s scope in April, Facebook users would also be able to appeal the former president’s posts to the board.

Controversial decision

Trump’s suspension was the first time Facebook had blocked a current president, prime minister or head of state. Facebook’s oversight board said it received more than 9,000 comments from the public on the Trump ban, the most it has had for a case so far.

Several academics and civil rights groups have publicly shared their letters urging the board to block Trump permanently, while Republican lawmakers and some free expression advocates have criticized the decision.

Since taking action on Trump, social media companies have faced calls from some rights groups and activists to be more consistent in their approach to other world leaders who have pushed or broken their rules, such as Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Leader Ali Khamenei, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and lawmakers linked to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I would hope that they’re also thinking about the precedent-setting of this,” said Katie Harbath, a former Facebook public policy director and a fellow at the Washington D.C.-based Bipartisan Policy Center. “What does that look like internationally, what does that look like in the long term?” she added.

The Oversight Board, an idea that Zuckerberg first publicly floated in 2018, currently has 20 members, including former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and several law experts and rights advocates. Decisions need only majority approval.

The board, which some have dubbed Facebook’s “Supreme Court,” has been hailed as a novel experiment by some researchers but blasted by other critics who have been skeptical over its independence or view it as a PR stunt to deflect attention from the company’s more systemic problems.

It is funded through a $130 million trust created by Facebook and has so far made rulings on a small number of cases from hate speech to nudity.

Facebook’s head of global affairs Nick Clegg told Reuters in January that he was “very confident” of the company’s case on Trump’s ban and said, “any reasonable person” looking at Facebook’s policies and the circumstances would agree.



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New York jet fuel gets pricier as Colonial Pipeline outage continues

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New York jet fuel gets pricier as Colonial Pipeline outage continues


American Airlines planes at LaGuardia Airport

Leslie Josephs | CNBC

Jet fuel is getting pricier nationwide and even more so in the New York City area as the Colonial Pipeline outage continues.

The premium on jet fuel prices in New York Harbor was going for nearly $1.87 a gallon on Tuesday, close to 9 cents more than the U.S. Gulf Coast price, the largest premium since February 2020, according to S&P Global Platts.

Airlines, including Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and JetBlue Airways, said they their operations haven’t been impacted. American Airlines, however, added temporary refueling stops this week until Thursday to two long-haul flights out of Charlotte, while Southwest Airlines is flying planes with extra fuel into Nashville International Airport and others, a measure known as tankering that carriers turn to during times of supply shortages, such as after hurricanes.

Airlines and airports this week said they were looking at alternative methods of obtaining fuel beyond the Colonial Pipeline, the country’s largest refined fuel-products pipeline.

“Since notification of the pipeline’s temporary shutdown, BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport has worked with airline partners and fueling companies to put alternate fueling measures in place,” a spokesman for the Baltimore airport told CNBC. “We continue to monitor the situation, and will adjust plans as needed until the pipeline is back online.”

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the major airports serving the New York City area said it is “not experiencing any immediate impacts from the Colonial Pipeline shutdown.

“We are continuing to closely monitor the situation and remain in regular contact with gasoline and diesel fuel suppliers for the Port Authority vehicle fleet and with the airlines and other airport stakeholders about jet fuel supply,” a spokeswoman said.

Jet fuel for the Gulf Coast, an industry benchmark, on Tuesday hit $1.78 a gallon, the highest since January 2020. Prices have climbed by 33% this year as more customers return to air travel. The higher prices for fuel, generally airlines’ largest cost after labor, comes just as more customers are expected to fly during the peak summer travel months.



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JPMorgan’s Kolanovic says the market is now ‘getting cheap,’ favors economic recovery stocks

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JPMorgan’s Kolanovic says the market is now ‘getting cheap,’ favors economic recovery stocks


Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Nov. 4th. 2020.

NYSE

JPMorgan‘s Marko Kolanovic told CNBC on Wednesday he feels the stock market’s recent declines are “overdone a little bit,” creating opportunities for investors.

“I think market is now actually getting cheap, in some sense,” the firm’s chief global markets strategist said on “Halftime Report.” He added, “I think we’re at the end of this upset. I think the market is going to go higher here. That said, we do still again prefer reflationary themes.”

Kolanovic’s remarks came as the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down nearly 500 points Wednesday. The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell around 2.1%, while the broad S&P 500 was lower by roughly 1.6%.



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U.S. CDC finds more clotting cases after J&J vaccine, sees causal link By Reuters

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U.S. CDC finds more clotting cases after J&J vaccine, sees causal link By Reuters



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Vials with a sticker reading, “COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only” and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed Johnson & Johnson logo in this illustration taken October 31, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Pho

By Michael Erman and Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) -The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday it had found more cases of potentially life-threatening blood clotting among people who received the Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:) COVID-19 vaccine and sees a “plausible causal association”.

The CDC said in a presentation the agency has now identified 28 cases of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) among the more than 8.7 million people who had received the J&J vaccine. TTS involves blood clots accompanied by a low level of platelets – the cells in the blood that help it to clot.

So far, three of the 28 have died. Previously, as of April 25, the CDC had reported 17 cases of clotting among nearly 8 million people given vaccines.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices or ACIP, which advises the U.S. CDC, recommended on April 23 that the U.S. lift a 10-day pause on the J&J vaccinations imposed to review safety data on the clotting issue. The panel will review the new data later on Wednesday.

The CDC said on Wednesday the events appear similar to what is being observed following administration of the AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:) COVID-19 vaccine in Europe.

Both vaccines are based on a new technology using adenoviruses, which cause the common cold, that have been modified to essentially render them harmless. The viruses are used to carry instructions into the body to make specific coronavirus proteins, priming the immune system to make antibodies that fight off the actual virus.

Scientists are working to find the potential mechanism that would explain the blood clots. A leading hypothesis appears to be that the vaccines are triggering a rare immune response that could be related to these viral vectors.

The syndrome does not appear to be associated with either of the COVID-19 vaccines produce by Pfizer Inc (NYSE:) and BioNTech SA or Moderna (NASDAQ:) Inc.

Most of the cases were among women aged 18 to 49, the CDC said, with rates among women aged 30-39 at 12.4 cases per million and those aged 40-49 at 9.4 cases per million.

Only six of the clotting events identified were in men.

Symptoms typically occur several days after vaccination to up to 2 weeks.

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