If you were horrified by how easy it was for someone to create a fake viral video that made Nancy Pelosi look as if she was slurring her words on stage, you weren’t alone. Facebook is now taking action to stop the misleading video, which has over 2.5 million views, from spreading further — though it won’t go as far as deleting it entirely.
On Wednesday, a video that apparently showed the Democratic congresswoman seemingly “drunk” went viral, first on Facebook, and then on other social media platforms. But Pelosi wasn’t actually impaired while speaking at a Center for American Progress event. Instead, the creator (whose identity is not known) simply slowed down the footage of the speaker of the house to 75 percent, and altered the pitch.
That was it. No A.I., no complicated algorithm, no scary “deepfakes.” Simple video editing was all someone needed to get millions of views and inflame the anti-Pelosi base in the process.
Now, Facebook is dealing with the video within the framework it has set up for assessing and mitigating fake content. Facebook confirmed to Mashable that it is reducing the video’s presence in News Feed, since a Facebook fact-checking partner has flagged it as “false.” The video will still exist on the platform, but the News Feed algorithm won’t pick it up and place it in people’s feeds.
Facebook explained that it’s not removing the video because it didn’t violate its community standards. By Facebook’s rules, the information you post doesn’t have to be true. But, Facebook says it is continually working to improve the integrity of the platform by mitigating the viral spread of misleading content and adding context to flagged content.
Although, the context in this case is hard to find.
Facebook said it would show related articles to point out the content is untrue, but none of the content in a “related videos” sidebar does so. Only when a user presses “share” does a box warning about the veracity of the video appear.
Facebook’s stance here is that even if a person has a right to post a false piece of content, that doesn’t mean it’s Facebook’s duty to promote that content by giving it wide distribution via News Feed.
Unfortunately, the damage has already been done. As of yesterday evening, the video had already been viewed over 2 million times. Just 12 hours later, that count is up to 2.5 million, and there are multiple clones on Facebook and other platforms. Facebook will treat duplicate videos in the same way — when it finds them. Once again, Facebook is playing a game of catch up with bad actors on its platform, with systems that catch — not prevent — harmful content, after it’s already multiplied and gone viral.
Facebook recently shared that it had deleted over 2 billion fake accounts this year. It is under siege by bad actors and scammers trying to manipulate the platform. And though Facebook’s reasoning about down-ranking, not deleting, makes sense, that might not be a heavy enough hammer to stop content manipulators, and their simple video-editing software, in their tracks.
By now, Drake’s relentless grandstanding on behalf of his beloved Toronto Raptors is to be expected.
And so too, then, is the wrath of Milwaukee Bucks’ fans now excoriating the Canadian rapper for a series of escalating taunts.
The off-court beef has been equal parts invigorating and infuriating for fans of both teams, with Drake’s gleeful jeers only goading more cross-border smack talk on the eve of Saturday’s pivotal Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference final at Scotiabank Arena.
The mantle south of the border was taken up Thursday night by Mallory Edens, the daughter of Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Wes Edens, who trolled the 6 God by sitting courtside at Game 5 in a shirt featuring Drake nemesis Pusha T.
WATCH | Drake gets fired up after Raptors’ Game 5 win:
The Canadian rapper joined fans in Toronto and made a passionate speech following the Raptors’ 105-99 victory. 0:32
Drake clapped back on Instagram by changing his profile avatar to one of Mallory Edens. Clicking on the photo leads to multiple images and video clips that include cheering Raptors fans in the Scotiabank Arena’s tailgate zone, Jurassic Park, as they emerged victorious Thursday to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“All is fair in war and war and trust me, I’ll still get you tickets to OVO Fest,” reads one card, referring to Drake’s star-studded summer music festival.
Another quote is overlaid on a photo of what appears to be a recording studio with a large window that looks onto the CN Tower: “Meet me in Jurassic Park at 8:30 whole city should be out like the sun… history is upon us.”
Several Bucks fans, meanwhile, showed up in “F–k Drake” T-shirts at Thursday’s game in Milwaukee.
Drake wasn’t there to see them.
Instead the Raptors’ global ambassador celebrated with his entourage amid jubilant Toronto fans at Jurassic Park, pacing on an adjacent stage as critical possessions came and went, and beaming as the buzzer confirmed another win for Canada’s lone NBA team.
More than your average superfan
Drake’s ties to the team go well beyond run-of-the mill superfan.
During Games 3 and 4 in Toronto, Drake was constantly seen pacing up and down the sideline, having abandoned his courtside seat. At one particularly celebratory point, he rubbed Raptors head coach Nick Nurse’s shoulders. He also chirped at Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo throughout the games, specifically when the “Greek Freak” air-balled a free throw.
This type of sideline celebrity behaviour has NBA precedent. Movie producer and Knicks superfan Spike Lee is known for jawing with opposing players from his courtside abode at Madison Square Garden in New York. The most famous incident occurred during a 1995 playoff series against the Indiana Pacers, when Lee prodded Pacers guard Reggie Miller into yelling back at him.
Apparently Drake and Mallory Edens have beef now: • Mallory Edens, daughter of the Bucks owner, wore a Pusha T shirt to game 5 • Pusha T and Drake had beef last summer • Drake changed his Instagram avatar to Mallory Edens and posted about her on his story after the Raptors won pic.twitter.com/FimCSkRAnR
When it comes to rallying and riling the fans, Drake has proven his worth time and again, says the marketing director of the U.S.-based athlete marketing platform opendorse.
“Drake’s in a league of his own right now,” Sam Weber said Friday when reached by phone in Chicago.
“Drake has an uncanny ability to inject himself in the conversation whenever there’s a chance for him to be relevant and he’s legitimately one of the world’s best marketers. He’s always there, he’s always relevant.”
Weber sees few downsides to such outlandish tactics, either for the team or Drake’s own brand. However, some Toronto fans may be tired of their team cast as the “Toronto Drakes,” he admits.
“That said, I think any fan wants attention to be on their franchise,” said Weber.
“You want your franchise to be covered in the news and media and usually that’s a sign you’re successful. It’s also a sign you’re a marketable franchise.”
Sideshow inspires Drake-related bets
The Drake sideshow has even inspired one bookie to take bets on the possible shenanigans that could unfold at Saturday’s game.
SportsBetting.ag posted a number of prop bets Friday that included whether Drake touches Raptors head coach Nick Nurse like he did in Game 4 and whether Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo will speak to Drake.
Other wagers on offer include: Will Drake step onto the court? Will the NBA publicly warn Drake regarding his on-court behaviour? Will Drake be removed from Game 6 by security?
Such shots are all in good fun, says Weber, who detects no out-of-bounds jabs despite the sometimes heated exchanges.
“It reaches more fans that way, so it’s good for the sport,” he said.
Drake’s powerful OVO brand is woven deeply into the team — literally, when you consider those Drake-inspired uniforms they’ve donned for the series, not to mention the team’s practice facility, recently renamed the OVO Athletic Centre.
But while Drake’s ardent fandom makes for juicy headlines and reliably animated reaction shots for TV cameras, it has raised questions about reasonable courtside decorum, which has included jabs at rival coaches, referees and players alike.
Drake’s antics have clearly hit a nerve.
Earlier in the series, a Milwaukee radio station put a temporary ban on Drake tunes. The hosts at 103.7 KISS-FM said they hoped their “break from Drake” would help the Bucks squash the Raptors.
Earlier in the series, Drake weathered hometown wariness, too, for a supposed curse when many superstitious sports fans pointed out that past teams and athletes he has supported often lose.
TOKYO—Flying nearly 7,000 miles is not President Donald Trump’s idea of a good time. But he departed for Japan on Friday giddily anticipating what he promised a day earlier would be “the biggest event they’ve had in over 200 years”: that is, his own meeting with the country’s new emperor.
While his hosts may not view Trump’s visit as quite so momentous, it isa crescendo in the remarkable campaign of flattery and cajoling waged by Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe.
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Trump had not yet been inaugurated when Abe hopped on a plane, uninvited, to meet with the president-elect at Trump Tower. Since then, Abe has golfed with Trump three times; visited Mar-a-Lago twice; gifted him a golf club worth nearly $3,800; dropped in on First Lady Melania Trump’s birthday dinner; and even, according to Trump himself, nominated Trump for a Nobel Prize. The two leaders have had 10 personal meetings and spoken 30 other times. “That is absolutely unprecedented,” says a senior Trump administration official. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Trump boasted that Abe had assured him of his state visit: “I am the guest, meaning the United States is the guest, but Prime Minister Abe said to me, very specifically, ‘You are the guest of honor. There’s only one guest of honor.’”
The Japanese media has taken copious note of the camaraderie. A Friday article in the Japan Times noted that on his last trip to Washington, Abe “was even offered the use of Trump’s personal restroom in the White House.”
Abe no doubt appreciates the bathroom privileges. But his relentless courtship of Trump seems—to say the least—off-brand for a leader who came to power by presenting himself as a resolute nationalist, retailing a vision of a strong Japan more than any leader in decades.. Prostrating himself before Trump has put him in an awkward position. Trump is personally unpopular in Japan, and even apart from that, no one likes to see Japan’s prime minister bend his behavior, or travel schedule, around other leaders. “The Japanese public does not like our leader to entertain another country’s leader,” said Koji Murata, a professor of political science at Doshisha University in Kyoto.
So why the desperate overtures to the U.S. president? To understand Abe’s surprising relationship to Trump is to understand the deep insecurity that has developed in Japan in recent years. With its once-powerhouse economy long-stagnant,the world-historical rise of China, which Japan’s imperial army badly abused during the war, has stoked deep alarm. North Korea continues to develop nuclear weapons and missiles capable of delivering them to Japan—and relations with South Korea, the regional power best positioned to help Tokyo counterbalance these threats, are at their lowest point in many years. Even Russia harasses Japanese airspace as part of a dispute over contested northern islands.
Trump has only made this situation more precarious for Abe and his compatriots. With its pacifist constitution and a military far smaller than its status as the world’s third-largest economy would imply, Japan needs America’s protection—and finds itself staring across the Pacific at an erratic partner easily dismissive of longtime global commitments. The fear that the U.S.-Japan alliance could be in jeopardy was one I heard from numerous government officials and academics I met during a weeklong visit to Japan earlier this year. And, they say, Abe will do what he must to maintain it, whatever the cost to his personal pride.
“People in Japan understand that Mr. Trump is quite unpredictable, and that we need to treat him in a different way,” said Murata.
“They need the relationship for their own protection,” adds Jeffrey Prescott, a former Obama White House national security council aide who served as senior Asia adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden. “They’re worried about being caught out in the cold.”
When Abe visited the U.S. last year, Trump startled him with a blunt historical reference: “I remember Pearl Harbor,” Trump cracked, reportedly launching into a complaint about Japan’s economic policies. However impolitic his remark may have been, Trump is right to think that World War II continues to rule America’s relationship with Japan. But a more defining moment than the 1941 surprise attack on America’s Pacific fleet is what happened four years later in Hiroshima, when the U.S. punctuated the final days of the war by dropping an atomic bomb on the city, raising ground temperatures nearby to 5,000 degrees and instantly killing up to 80,000 people.
Today, the modest port city, also known for baseball and its symphony orchestra, has become a living monument to the horror of war, and also a place to contemplate the oddity of Japan’s continued dependency on the country that crushed it in anger nearly 75 years ago. Nine days after the blast, and after the U.S. dropped another atomic bomb, this time on Nagasaki, Emperor Hirohito—whose grandson, Naruhito, Trump will visit in Tokyo on Monday—announced his country’s unconditional surrender to America. Thus began a long and fraught dependency that continues to this day.
It was an incredible twist of history when the conquered nation, emerging from a fascist nightmare, actually welcomed its new occupiers after the war. “The Americans arrived anticipating, many of them, a traumatic confrontation with fanatical emperor worshippers. They were accosted instead by women who called ‘yoo hoo’ to the first troops landing on the beaches in full battle gear, and men who bowed and asked what their conquerors wished,” writes John W. Dower in his Pulitzer Prize-wining history of postwar Japan, Embracing Defeat. William Manchester’s epic biography of Douglas MacArthur recounts the moment one of the general’s aides first stepped off a plane in a freshly-defeated Japan, which MacArther was tasked with running and rebuilding after the war: “Instantly, a mob of howling Japanese headed for him. He was reaching for his weapon when they braked to a halt, bowed, smiled, and offered him a cup of orangeade.”
Those events occurred a few months before Trump was born, so he does not actually “remember” any of them. But even though Japan has been remade since, it remains conspicuously eager to please American leaders. In large measure that is because Japan cannot properly defend itself. After World War II, Japan was demilitarized to prevent a repeat of the fascist militarism that led to its brutal conquest of much of East Asia. The U.S. oversaw the adoption of a peace constitution prohibiting a standing military—Japan technically maintains modest “self-defense forces”—and declaring that its people “forever renounce war” and “the threat or use of force as a means of settling disputes.” And in the only country to experience an atomic attack, nuclear weapons have been out of the question. Conveniently, the U.S. was happy to station troops in the country as a way of projecting power into the Asia-Pacific region, first as a check against the Soviet Union and more recently against China. America has also explicitly covered Japan with its “nuclear umbrella,” shielding it from attack with the ultimate form of deterrence.
For several decades, the arrangement made sense for a Japan that faced few credible military threats. But the 21st century has changed past assumptions with startling speed.China’s explosion of growth has led to alarming new territorial claims; Tokyo’s historic rival, which Japan raped and pillaged in the 1930s and 1940s, now has a defense budget about 10 times larger than Japan’s. Meanwhile, North Korea, whose state media has branded Abe an “Asian Hitler” has developed a large nuclear arsenal and ever-more sophisticated missiles, which it sometimes fires over Japan’s territory.
Japan’s relations with South Korea,an important political and economic power, are also at what regional experts call a 50-year low, poisoned by an ongoing dispute over what Japan owes to forced laborers and so-called “comfort women” during its wartime occupation of the Korean peninsula. Japan was scandalized in February when a South Korean legislator referred to Japan’s then-emperor, since succeeded by Naruhito, as the son of a war criminal. (One long-term nightmare here: a unified, hostile Korea.) Even relations with Russia are tense, also thanks to the legacy of World War II, in the form of a territorial dispute over remote islands most of the world has never heard of; a Japanese legislator was recently expelled from the country’s Diet after suggesting (albeit drunkenly) that war with Russia might be necessary to reclaim them.
In sum, Japan looks around and sees enemies and rivals that recall brutal Japanese occupation, and too few close friends. That leaves it as dependent on the U.S. as it has been in years.
At the same time, it is as worried as it’s ever been about whether America can be relied upon. In the Trump era, the U.S. has become inscrutable, unpredictable and potentially unreliable.
People here are keenly aware of Trump’s complaints about the cost of American bases overseas and his questions about long-standing alliances. “We’re basically protecting Japan,” Trump said as a candidate. “If we’re attacked, they do not have to come to our defense. If they’re attacked, we have to come totally to their defense. And … that’s a real problem.” Trump hasn’t spoken that way in a while, but Japanese officials have watched his continued skepticism about the costs and mission of the NATO alliance, and ongoing complaints about the expense of maintaining U.S. troops in South Korea, with great unease. In meetings with diplomats and military strategists, most of whom would only speak off the record, I was told repeatedly that a scaled back U.S. presence in Asia, perhaps as a concession in a nuclear deal with North Korea, would be a “disaster” or “nightmare.” Never mind the 50,000 troops now stationed in Japan itself.
Japan isn’t totally defenseless without its American military bodyguard.Thanks to China’s muscle-flexing, the passage of time and Abe’s nationalistic leadership, Japan in recent years has gradually been expanding its military’s size and legal capabilities. Trump officials, more than Obama ones before them, have wholeheartedly embraced the shift, which Trump will implicitly endorse this weekend when he visits a Japanese navy helicopter carrier set for an upgrade that will allow it to carry advanced American-made F-35B fighter jets.
But Japan also needs American in other ways.Its diplomats have urged the U.S. to help mediate its dispute with South Korea—though to little avail. (“In somewhat more normal times,” says Mike Green, a former top Asia official in the George W. Bush White House now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a big question around Trump’s trip would be, “What is the administration doing to patch up ties between our two closest allies, whose fight is weakening our position in Asia?”) Meanwhile Japan’s huge but deeply troubled economy, which struggles with slow growth and an aging population, is highly vulnerable to Trump’s whims on tariffs.
That’s why it’s a coup for Abe and Japan that Trump, who does not love long trips, has made the 14-hour flight to become the first foreign leader to meet the country’s newly-enthroned emperor. In recent public remarks, Trump has demonstrated only a vague understanding of the honor, while boasting that Abe has assured him it will be “100 times bigger” than the Super Bowl.
While there, Trump will award a specially-made trophy to the winner of a national sumo wrestling championship, for which he will be given a special chair in an area where even dignitaries typically sit on the floor, cross-legged, reportedly to the annoyance of some of the sport’s diehards. In a signal of U.S. military support, Trump will also deliver a speech at the U.S. Navy base at Yokosuka, in southern Japan.
Abe’s flatter-Trump campaign is more than a personal whim, it is the result of extensive analysis. “The Japanese have studied Trump as thoroughly as any government, probably in the world, to try to understand him, because the U.S.-Japan alliance is so critical,” says Green. But it has involved some cost at home. During my visit, the lead headline in the Japan Times described a “grilling” the prime minister had received in the Diet over Trump’s public claim a few days earlier that Abe had written “the most beautiful five-page letter” nominating him to the Nobel Prize committee for his nuclear diplomacy with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Abe couldn’t quite bring himself to confirm the notion, which seemed strange given that the talks had made little real progress, and that Abe had been a past skeptic of talking to Kim. “I’m not saying it’s untrue,” was all he would allow. According to the Washington Post, Abe has more than once been referred to as “poochi” in the country’s left-leaning Asahi Shimbun newspaper.
Many Japanese officials argue, though, that Abe has made the best of an awkward situation. Trump has stopped complaining about America’s security agreement with Tokyo and—unlike the case of South Korea—hasn’t made references lately to the cost of stationing troops and equipment in Japan. Abe has helped explain to Trump how important American assets in Japan are to containing China; U.S. Navy patrols into the contested South China Sea often originate from the Japan’s Yokosuka base. Although Abe wasn’t able to prevent Trump from slapping tariffs on Japanese steel and aluminum exports, he has helped to delay potential U.S. tariffs on automobiles that Japanese officials say would create a crisis in their relationship with Washington.
Still, there is a sense of real disquiet here about what may lie ahead. One Japanese official told me that Trump is an effect, not a cause, of eroding American public support for overseas alliances and adventurism. Moreover, some Japanese worry that the character of the U.S. might be changing. Japan is coming to see America “rather differently,” said Ichiro Fujisaki, a former Japanese ambassador to Washington who now chairs the America-Japan Society in Tokyo. “The popularity of the U.S. is decreasing,” he said, as Japanese people see an erosion of “values, respect for international institutions, and commitment to allies.”
It is unclear whether Trump will know or care about such sentiments when he greets Emperor Naruhito on Monday. But it was those values that America spent decades instilling in Japan as the U.S. rebuilt the nation it had conquered after World War II. It was a process that began in earnest when the MacArthur, having arrived in Tokyo for what would be a seven-year term as its de facto viceroy, met with Hirohito for the first time. President Harry Truman and MacArthur had decided by then that the emperor had to be preserved to help earn the trust of the defeated Japanese people. But at that point, Hirohito wasn’t sure that MacArthur wouldn’t have him executed. MacArthur later recalled giving Hirohito an American cigarette, “which he took with thanks. I noticed how his hands shook as I lighted it for him. I tried to make it as easy for him as I could, but I knew how deep and dreadful must be his agony of humiliation.”
Trump will meets Hirohito’s grandson under dramatically different circumstances. It may be that, far from humiliation, Naruhito and Abe will enjoy a sense of triumph at how skillfully they are playing to the president’s vanity. But something essential about the relationship between the U.S. will be unchanged, one that will be a source of both comfort and insecurity here for the forseeable future.
“Japan is always under the influence of the U.S.,” Murara told me. “It is always treated to be the junior partner of the U.S.”
The Department of National Defence says it has come up with a plan to allow families of fallen soldiers and veterans access to the Kandahar war memorial at the country’s top military headquarters in the Ottawa area.
Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance issued a long, written apology on Friday and accepted full responsibility for the decision to exclude relatives of soldiers killed in Afghanistan from a closed-door dedication ceremony for the cenotaph.
The families and former soldiers expressed outrage earlier this week in interviews with CBC News, saying they felt betrayed because they were only notified after the fact about the May 13 ceremony, which was attended by senior brass and government officials.
There was no public notice of the event until the department posted photos and a statement on social media — four days later.
Vance, in his statement on Friday, said “the best of intentions have led to unintended harm” and that decision-makers “unintentionally” went down that path.
“We owe the family and friends of our fallen, all who served in Afghanistan, and Canadians an apology for not properly including you and not properly communicating with you,” he said.
“I am truly sorry for our insensitivity and the pain, anger and frustration that this decision caused you.”
Vance acknowledged the decisions made regarding the dedication ceremony “alienated and angered” the families and the wider public.
“To each and to all, we offer our deepest apologies, and ask for forgiveness.”
The cenotaph stood outside of the Canadian headquarters at the Kandahar Airfield throughout the Afghan war. It started as only a few plaques hanging on a large rock, but as casualties grew, so did the monument.
By the end of Canadian combat operations, the monument ran to 191 plaques honouring Canadian soldiers and civilians, as well as American troops who served under Canadian command.
It became a gathering point for soldiers grieving lost comrades and families brought over to the war zone on military-escorted trips.
The monument was disassembled and brought back to Canada in 2011. But finding a permanent home for the memorial here proved to be difficult.
Vance said it needed to be protected both from the weather and the threat of vandalism — which is why it was put in its own building behind the security cordon at the new National Defence Headquarters in west Ottawa, where it will “serve as a daily reminder to us of the true, and ongoing, cost of war.”
The memorial “will become accessible to all who come and wish to see it,” Vance said, and all members of the military will be able to see it whenever they want by presenting their military identification cards for access.
A system of escorted visits for family members will be established, Vance said, adding several families have already expressed interest.
In addition, Vance said the department will provide a continuous schedule of opportunities for “all who wish to visit, and we encourage you to do so.”
Whether that would include members of the general public is not clear at the moment.
We may still be years away from Facebook’s augmented reality glasses becoming an actual product, but we now know a little more about how they might work.
A new patent filing reveals additional details about Facebook’s AR glasses, including how they might handle audio. The patent, originally filed in January but published Thursday, describes a “cartilage conduction audio system for eyewear devices.”
The glasses’ overall design is similar to what we saw in a previous patent published in 2017, though it now appears plans for the glasses are much further along.
Using sensors, as well as those that sit inside the ear, the glasses would be able to project sound into your ear while also allowing you to hear ambient noise around you. The idea is similar to headphones that use bone conduction technology, though the patent notes that its cartilage conduction method is more comfortable and reliable than bone conduction.
“The audio system includes a transducer coupled to a back of the ear of the user,” the patent explains. “The transducer generates sound by vibrating the back of the ear […] of the user, which vibrates the cartilage in the ear of the user to generate acoustic waves corresponding to received audio content.”
For Facebook, the ability to deliver sound while not interfering with the ability to hear ambient noise is a key feature for an AR headset, as the wearer needs to be able to interact with the world around them. It also suggests that Facebook intends for the glasses to be worn for an extended period of time. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“A user wearing a head-mounted display in a VR, AR, and MR system can benefit from keeping the ear canal open and not covered by an audio devices,” the patent states.”The user can have a more immersive and safer experience and receive spatial cues from ambient sound when the ear is unobstructed.”
Though Facebook has spoken publicly about its plans to build AR glasses a handful of times, relatively little is known about the project. The company said in 2017 that such a product is at least five years away.
Business Insider reported in January that Facebook’s Reality Labs, its division for AR and VR research, has a group working on the glasses. One of the employees listed on this latest patent, Ravish Mehra, is a researcher at Facebook’s Reality Labs, according to a LinkedIn profile.
Rep. Chip Roy became the man who delayed $19.1 billion in disaster aid to communities throughout the country on Friday.
House leaders tried to pass amultibillion-dollar disaster assistance measure, by unanimous consent, but the Texas Republican objected on the floor.
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Since House and Senate lawmakers have already left town for their Memorial Day recess, the objection likely causes a 10-day holdup in delivering aid that has already been delayed for five months amid cross-party sparring. The Senate passed the measure Thursday, with President Donald Trump’s blessing.
The House could still pass the bill by unanimous consent next week, if no lawmaker comes to the floor to object.
Communities still severely damaged by wildfires, flooding, hurricanes, lava flow and even typhoons have waited for this assistance as the president battled with Democrats about money to help Puerto Rico continue to rebuild following the Category 5 hurricanes that hit the U.S. territory in 2017.
Roy took issue with passing the measure without a roll call vote. He also complained that the legislation lacks offsets to prevent it from driving up the deficit and that congressional leaders left off billions of dollars in emergency funding Trump seeks for handling the inflow of immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“This is a $19 billion bill that is not paid for when we’re racking up $100 million of debt per hour,” said Roy, a first-term congressman who was elected with the help of high-dollar campaign contributions from fiscally conservative groups like the House Freedom Caucus’ political arm. Roy is described by the conservative Club for Growth as “cut from the same cloth” as politicians like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
“Our nation is strong enough and compassionate enough to have a responsive and fiscally responsive approach to help people who are hurting in the wake of natural disasters,” Roy said on the floor. “And we now are expected to continue to let the swamp continue to mortgage the future of our children and grandchildren.”
Once a safe Republican seat, Roy’s district has become more competitive in the Trump era. The president won 52 percent of the vote there in 2016, down from Mitt Romney’s 60 percent in 2012. Roy won the district, which sits outside Austin, by less than 3 percentage points in the midterm election.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee earlier this year included the district on its list of initial targets for 2020 and jumped at the opportunity to trash Roy for blocking the disaster aid vote Friday, saying the Texas Republican has been “making it clear why this is a top tier Democratic pickup opportunity.”
The disaster relief bill was in doubt almost until the end. Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) made a personal appeal to Trump during a call on Thursday afternoon, urging him to sign off on the plan to separate immigration aid from the disaster package.
According to four Republican sources, Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) were in the room with Trump and advised the president against detaching his emergency immigration request from the disaster aid deal. But Perdue, a close Trump ally, prevailed.
Scott Bland, Melanie Zanona and Burgess Everett contributed to this report.
Social networking giant Facebook is about to launch a cryptocurrency of its own in the first quarter of 2020, the BBC claims.
The cryptocurrency, internally called GlobalCoin, will launch in about a dozen countries, with testing commencing by the end of this year.
We’ve heard reports that Facebook is working on something crypto-related for about a year, ever since the company assigned its head of Messenger, David Marcus, to a blockchain-focused role in May 2018. But a recent report shed more light on the project (which, according to Facebook, boils down to a “small team” that’s exploring “many different applications” of the blockchain) — apparently, Facebook plans to launch a global, crypto-based payment, and e-commerce system.
The BBC’s report doesn’t reveal many additional details about the project — the most important bit is the timeline. According to the report, Facebook has already spoken to Bank of England governor Mark Carney about the project, as well as the U.S. Treasury. Official news about the project, BBC claims, might come as early as this summer.
We’ve contacted Facebook regarding the report and will update this article when we hear back.
The news of Facebook entering the space could be huge for cryptocurrencies in general, given Facebook’s user base of 2.38 billion monthly active users as of April 2019. However, numerous questions about the project remain. Will GlobalCoin be open source? Will it be based on an existing blockchain platform, such as Ethereum, or will it be based on a completely new blockchain? Will it be available for use outside of Facebook? Hopefully, we’ll get answers to at least some of these questions this summer.