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The first big test of Facebook’s oversight board will be the US election

Facebook’s much-anticipated independent oversight board — a group that will be able to overrule Facebook’s leaders, even CEO Mark Zuckerberg, about whether controversial posts should stay up or be removed — announced its plans to start making decisions on contested content by mid to late October. That means the board may be called on to make decisions about important Facebook posts related to the US presidential election.

In recent months, some have criticized the long-awaited board for not moving quickly enough to deal with issues around misinformation, hate speech, and extremism on the platform, and doubted whether it would be functional before the November election.

But as long as internal testing of its technical systems goes well, the board says it will start accepting con...

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The election result the stock market is really afraid of

Wall Street’s nightmare scenario on Election Day isn’t really a Donald Trump or a Joe Biden victory. It’s one where there’s no clear winner, or a result one side refuses to accept.

“We’re kind of preparing for Armageddon on November 3,” one senior vice president at a major quant firm, who asked for anonymity in order to speak freely about the matter, told me. “If it’s close, there’s a decent chance that, like, who the fuck knows? Are markets going to be down 20 percent on Wednesday?”

One of the higher-ups at his firm recently sent an email asking about a what-if scenario where President Donald Trump sends in the National Guard post-election. At the very least, there are some concerns about possible presidential tweets. Investors are bracing for volatility.

Most of...

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The Trump administration’s war on birth control 

As an OB-GYN in the San Francisco Bay Area, Jenn Conti prescribes birth control to many patients every day, for many different reasons.

Some want to prevent pregnancy. Others need a way to regulate painful or irregular periods. One patient has premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a very severe form of PMS.

“Every single month, in the days leading up to her period, she gets this debilitating depression and anxiety, such that she’s been suicidal on several occasions,” Conti, a fellow with the group Physicians for Reproductive Health, told Vox. The patient sees a psychiatrist and takes antidepressants, but hormonal contraception is also a key part of her treatment...

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RBG, the 2020 election, and the rolling crisis of American democracy

For much of this fall, Americans have fretted about a legitimacy crisis surrounding the 2020 election. But now, after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the hypocritical Republican rush to fill her seat in an election year, it’s clear that the crisis is here.

Liberal democracy only functions when major parties accept the right of their opponents to govern. The purpose of the system is to take the antagonism that defines politics everywhere and channel it, creating rules and establishing norms that prevent one segment of the population from crushing others’ ability to participate in and shape the system.

The breakdown of these rules and norms is at the heart of our current crisis...

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Kayleigh McEnany has made a mockery of her promise not to lie. Tuesday’s briefing was case in point.

President Donald Trump often tells reporters that big plans of his, such as health care or immigration proposals, will be unveiled in “two weeks.” It’s a tell — when Trump says something is coming in two weeks, you know it’s almost certainly not coming at all.

Trump’s favorite way of buying time has apparently rubbed off on Kayleigh McEnany, his fourth White House press secretary. Asked during Tuesday’s briefing if a health care plan that Trump has been saying is merely weeks away will finally be unveiled this week — “there are doubts that such a thing actually exists,” a reporter pointed out — McEnany said, without a shred of irony, that her boss “will be laying out some additional health care steps in the coming, I would say two weeks.”

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Marvel pushes Black Widow to 2021, delaying the MCU’s future even further

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been stopped in its tracks until 2021. On Wednesday, Variety reported that Disney has again delayed the release of Black Widow, the next scheduled Marvel film, from November 6, 2020, to May 7, 2021.

That’s the second delay for the film, which stars Scarlett Johansson as her Avengers character. It was originally scheduled for a May 1, 2020, release, before the Covid-19 pandemic led Disney to bump it to the fall. Now the film will premiere more than a year after its original date.

And with Black Widow’s rescheduling comes a domino effect for the other Marvel films in the queue: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Eternals. Eternals had been moved from a November 6, 2020, release to February 12, 2021...

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9 experts reflect on the US reaching 200,000 Covid-19 deaths

This week, the number of Americans confirmed to have died from Covid-19 crossed 200,000. It is a staggering loss of life, and this unfortunate milestone warrants some reflection.

In that spirit, I asked a question of several of the public health experts whose knowledge I have relied upon over the last six months: If you had been told back in February (when the first Covid-19 death in the US was recorded) that before the end of September 200,000 more people would be dead, what would your reaction have been?

“I thought we would be much more resilient in our public health, our policymaking, and trust in public health leaders,” Albert Ko, a Yale School of Public Health professor, told me. “I would have thought we would have done a better job protecting our nursing homes.”

I thought ...

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Mike Pompeo and Robert O’Brien, top US officials, are campaigning for Trump in crucial states

Two of President Donald Trump’s top national security officials delivered blatantly political speeches in battleground states seemingly to boost their boss’s chance of reelection — potentially in violation of federal law.

The Hatch Act of 1939 imposes strict limits on most federal civilian workers who want to engage in political activity. Some Cabinet departments, including the State Department, augment these statutory limits with additional policies intended to maintain a clear wall of separation between partisan politics and nonpartisan government functions.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien may have busted through that wall on Wednesday.

In Wisconsin, a state Trump won in 2016 and is at risk of losing in 2020, Pompeo addressed state la...

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How do you cover a presidential campaign during a pandemic?

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Olivia Nuzzi was covering a Donald Trump rally in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, this summer when the New York magazine reporter had an idea. Why not go talk to the Trump fans at the gathering, most of whom had been spending hours packed together, mask-free?

Then she reconsidered.

“I’m not going over there today. I’m not fucking going over there and talking to people who don’t have masks on,” she recalls thinking. “I don’t think the news value of my dumb little idea of a news story is worth the risk.”

Interviewing a campaign rally attendee is a staple of campaign journalism. But not in 2020...

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