TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday accused presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of "getting particularly sensitive" over their differing opinions about the Patriot Act. The governor, speaking on his monthly radio show, suggested Paul will have a tough time on the presidential campaign trail if he's too sensitive to everyone who disagrees with him.…
TikTok played a major role in Jan. 6 planning — but law enforcement failed to understand threat: report
Federal officials warned law enforcement agencies that TikTok was playing a key role in organizing extremist and criminal activity, including the Jan. 6 riots, but the social media platform remains under the radar as a potential threat.
The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis briefed law enforcement agencies nationwide on April 19, according to documents reviewed by Politico, showing that American extremists were using the Chinese-owned platform to recruit new members and share "tactical guidance" -- including the promotion of bringing weapons to Washington, D.C., for the U.S. Capitol insurrection.
"The extremism research field itself is pretty slow on TikTok," said Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. "There's something to be said about the demographics of researchers — they tend to skew older. Very few can hear the first five seconds of a TikTok video and know what song that's referencing."
Hughes, whose organization receives some DHS funding, said TikTok is particularly efficient at delivering extremist content, saying it remains "awash" in QAnon videos despite the company announcing a ban last year.
"The TikTok algorithm is so good that before you know it," Hughs said, "you're on a domestic violent extremism spiral."
The DHS report made a similar point about the platform's algorithm.
"TikTok's application layout and algorithms can unintentionally aid individuals' efforts to promote violent extremist content," the report says. "A user's account may have zero followers but could have substantial viewership on some videos, which could aid violent extremist TikTok users in evading TikTok's content moderation efforts."
The DHS report noted several cases where extremists promoted violence throughout last year and ahead of the deadly insurrection, which some TikTok users promoted with 2020 election conspiracy theories and by encouraging others to bring firearms and interfere with the U.S. National Guard during riots.
"There is absolutely no place for violent extremism or hate speech on TikTok," company spokesperson Jamie Favazza said in an email, "and we work aggressively to remove any such content and ban individuals that violate our Community Guidelines."
Thousands of health workers across France have been suspended without pay for failing to get vaccinated against Covid-19 ahead of a deadline this week, Health Minister Olivier Veran said Thursday.
"Some 3,000 suspensions were notified yesterday to employees at health centers and clinics who have not yet been vaccinated," Veran told RTL radio.
He added that "several dozens" had turned in their resignations rather than sign up for the jabs.
That compares with 2.7 million health workers overall, Veran said, adding that "continued healthcare is assured."
"A large number of these suspensions are only temporary" and mainly concern support staff, with "very few nurses" among those told to stay home, he said.
Based on figures provided by individual hospitals, the actual number of suspended employees could be higher.
The Paris hospital system said Thursday that 340 workers had been suspended.
Local press reports have cited large numbers at hospitals in smaller cities -- up to 450 in Nice and 100 in Perpignan.
Available figures point to nearly 1,500 suspensions Thursday at just over a dozen hospitals, according to an AFP tally, with dozens more elsewhere across France.
'Pandemic isn't over'
France has also made a Covid "health pass" mandatory for entering cafes, restaurants and many other public places, prompting weekly protests by tens of thousands of people who claim they are being discriminated against.
Many healthcare workers are still avoiding jabs, citing safety or efficacy concerns, raising the spectre of disruptions to services in facilities forced to suspend staff without pay.
Overall, 70 percent of the French have received both doses required to be fully vaccinated, which are available to everyone over age 12 -- one of the highest rates in the world.
But 74 percent have had one dose only, suggesting that many people are holding out against the jabs despite their widespread availability -- and as the more contagious Delta variant spreads worldwide.
While vaccines have helped France limit a "fourth wave" of infections, with fewer than 2,000 Covid patients now in intensive care each day, Veran said it is "too early" to considering lifting the health pass requirement.
"There are still around 10,000 new cases each day -- the pandemic isn't over," he said.
On Wednesday, the health ministry reported 79 Covid deaths over the previous 24 hours, bringing the French total to 115,829.
Jon Stewart admits he failed to recognize the authoritarian threat from Donald Trump.
The former "Daily Show" host considered the reality TV star and celebrity real estate developer was a "gift from heaven" to comedians, but Stewart told The Hollywood Reporter that he now understands a key element about authoritarianism that he didn't in 2015, when Trump first announced his candidacy.
"What I missed there is that his certainty, his ridiculousness, his shamelessness is what made him dangerous." Stewart said. "I thought it made him a buffoon, and I thought that's what would disqualify him. What it did is made him the perfect vessel. You have to be shameless to do shameful things."
Now that he's seen an American would-be dictator, Stewart has gained a new understanding of authoritarian rulers in other countries.
"I'm not saying he's the same as these figures, but the most dangerous figures are the ones that seem comic and absurd," Stewart said. "Saddam Hussein seems absurd. Muammar Gaddafi would stand in a kaftan and rant like a madman."
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