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Fears of ‘government censorship’ of science after Florida sidelines COVID-19 data chief

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Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis (screengrab)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to draw criticism for the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Late last Friday, the architect and manager of Florida’s COVID-19 dashboard — praised by White House officials for its accessibility — announced that she had been removed from her post, causing outcry from independent researchers now worried about government censorship,” Florida Today reported Monday.

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“The dashboard has been a one-stop shop for researchers, the media and the public to access and download tables of COVID-19 cases, testing and death data to analyze freely had been widely hailed as a shining of example of transparency and accessibility,” the publication reported. “But over the last few weeks it had ‘crashed’ and gone offline; data has gone missing without explanation and access to the underlying data sheets has become increasingly difficult.”

“The site was created by a team of Florida Department of Health data scientists and public health officers headed by Rebekah Jones, who announced last week her removal as of May 5, in a heartfelt farewell note emailed to researchers and other members of the public who had signed up to receive updates on the data portal,” the report noted.

The publication obtained the email Jones sent.

“I understand, appreciate, and even share your concern about all the dramatic changes that have occurred and those that are yet to come,” she wrote. “As a word of caution, I would not expect the new team to continue the same level of accessibility and transparency that I made central to the process during the first two months. After all, my commitment to both is largely (arguably entirely) the reason I am no longer managing it.”


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Trump’s most unhinged supporters paying $5 a pop to use special emojis on YouTube

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The pro-Trump cable network One America News is cashing in on QAnon conspiracy theorists on its YouTube channel.

OAN viewers can pay $4.95 a month to become "members" of the right-wing channel, which then allows them to use customized emojis to signal their recognition of the conspiracy theory's lore, reported The Daily Beast.

"It’s not clear how many people have signed up for the OAN YouTube membership, when OAN started offering the emojis, or how many of those sign-ups were driven by the opportunity to use QAnon emojis," writes The Beast's Will Sommer. "But the creation of the emojis reflects a decision to monetize, not expel, the conspiracy believers. If QAnon fans are going to spam QAnon in the OAN comments, it seems the network has decided they might as well get some money out of it."

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2020 Election

Former federal prosecutor explains how AG Barr could help Trump steal the election — and take the US to ‘a very dark place’

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Between the coronavirus pandemic, civil unrest in major U.S. cities, huge anti-racism protests, bitter political divisions, a heated Supreme Court battle and President Donald Trump’s ruthless voter suppression efforts, the United States’ 2020 presidential election is turning out to be even more chaotic than the elections of 2000 and 1968. Trump has a devoted loyalist in U.S. Attorney General William Barr, and former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade discusses the effect he could have on the 2020 election in a disturbing op-ed published in the Washington Post on September 22.

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You’d think Mitch McConnell would use RBG’s open seat to drive election turnout — but he has a different goal in mind

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President Trump repeatedly says that he's accomplished more than any president in history. I've never heard anyone ask him to lay out specifically what he means by that. He can try to take credit for signing big tax cuts for the wealthy, but that was passed by the Republican Congress with little input from him. It's true that his executive branch agencies have overturned many environmental rules and other regulations, but he hasn't been involved and clearly doesn't know the details.Trump's corruption has given his consigliere, Attorney General Bill Barr, the opportunity to further his own "powerful executive" theory. His craven pandering to white supremacists and the evangelical right has kept the base bonded tightly to the Republican Party. But beyond that his list of accomplishments is nil. He has literally done nothing but run his mouth and turn the U.S. into an object of fear and pity around the world
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