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YouTube links Notre-Dame fire to 9/11 attacks

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A YouTube fact-check feature which is meant to tackle misinformation accidentally tagged live broadcasts of a fire engulfing Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris with details about the 9/11 terror attacks.

The blaze erupted in the UNESCO world heritage landmark in the French capital Monday, sending its spire and roof crashing to the ground as flames and clouds of smoke billowed into the sky.

The fire, which at one point threatened the entire edifice, was extinguished Tuesday around 15 hours after it first broke out.

News outlets began live-streaming broadcasts of the fire on YouTube, but below some of the clips an unusual text box popped up — an entry from the Encyclopedia Britannica about the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

In those attacks, Al-Qaeda militants hijacked two passenger planes and flew them into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York, causing them to collapse, while a third hijacked jet smashed into the Pentagon. Some 3,000 people were killed.

A spokesman for YouTube, which is owned by Google, said the text box feature — which is currently only available to users in the US and South Korea — had been disabled for live streams related to the fire.

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“These panels are triggered algorithmically and our systems sometimes make the wrong call,” the spokesman told AFP. “We are deeply saddened by the ongoing fire at the Notre-Dame Cathedral.”

The feature, which also links to other outside sources such as Wikipedia, was introduced last year after YouTube faced intense criticism over videos containing misleading and extreme content.

The panels are supposed to combat misleading videos about well-known events — such as the first successful manned landing on the moon — by presenting well-established facts, in a bid to stop the spread of conspiracy theories.

YouTube, Facebook and Twitter came under fire last month after a horrific video of a gunman’s deadly rampage at two New Zealand mosques was circulated on the sites.

The Christchurch massacre, in which 50 people were killed, was live-streamed on Facebook, which moved to block the footage. But it was then shared repeatedly on the other two sites.

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2020 Election

It’s Biden vs rest of Democrats in 1st 2020 debate clash

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For Democrats seeking to challenge Donald Trump in 2020, the rubber meets the road in Miami this week, where Joe Biden will defend his frontrunner status as presidential candidates finally square off face to face.

Americans are bracing for the nation's biggest political debate since the slugfests of 2016, a two-night showdown beginning Wednesday with 20 Democrats vying for a breakout moment that could showcase their talents, or see them stumble on the world stage.

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How Texans in Congress feel about Trump’s delay of family deportations depends on their party affiliation

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Republicans say the postponement will be successful at bringing Democrats to the negotiating table. But Democrats say the president is making people pawns in a political game.

President Donald Trump's abrupt delay in launching a massive deportation effort aimed at families in several American cities — including Houston — drew responses divided along partisan lines.

After exchanges via news release, Twitter and a phone call, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi successfully lobbied Trump to hold off on deporting immigrants around the country. Trump announced the delay in Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids via Twitter on Saturday.

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People are calling Denver’s newest city council member a communist — but she’d rather be called an anarchist

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On April 10, Candi CdeBaca’s 33rd birthday, Denver’s second “bomb cyclone” of the year brought snow and heavy wind, and knocked out power in some areas, including at CdeBaca’s house in Elyria-Swansea. When CdeBaca, then a Denver City Council candidate, finally got power back and turned on her phone, she saw she had an unusually high number of missed calls and messages. Birthday wishes, she assumed.

“There was a death threat,” she said. “There were two of them within an hour. One of them said, ‘I was trained to kill commie shit like you.’”

The context: At a candidate forum on April 7, CdeBaca offered some remarks that, to many, sounded like she was advocating a Communist form of government.

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Trump endorses killing journalists, like Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Online ad networks are now targeting sites that cover acts of violence against dissidents, LGBTQ people and people of color.

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