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6 takeaways from Trump-Biden debate

Trump bullied, bulldozed and obfuscated his way through the 90-minute showdown, interrupting Biden a..

Trump bullied, bulldozed and obfuscated his way through the 90-minute showdown, interrupting Biden and moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News at every turn. He ignored substantive questions and Biden's policy arguments, and instead swung at a straw-man version of Biden, taking aim at both Biden's son and a distorted description of his record that exists primarily in far-right media. Over Trump's interruptions, Biden responded by mocking the President, calling him a "clown," a "racist" and "the worst president America has ever had." He criticized Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, his failure to produce a health care plan and his response to protests over racial injustice. Over and over, Wallace tried to regain control of the debate, without success.When Trump complained that only he was being chastised for talking over questions and Biden's answers, Wallace shot back: "Frankly, you have been doing more interrupting."Trump, who has trailed Biden in national and swing-state polls, made little effort to reach out to voters who do not currently support him. He could have further damaged his standing by refusing to condemn White supremacists after being asked to do so multiple times. Here are six takeaways from the first of three presidential debates:

Trump doesn't condemn White supremacists

Repeatedly and directly, Biden called Trump racist."This is a President who has used everything as a dog whistle to try to generate racist hatred, racist division," the former vice president said. During a portion of the debate that focused on race relations, protests, violence and policing, Trump tried to latch Biden to the violent and destructive elements of this summer's protests over the police killings of George Floyd in Minnesota, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky and others, even as Biden condemned violence. Trump also claimed that America's suburbs — which have tilted in Democrats' favor during his tenure — would be "gone" if Biden is elected. "He wouldn't know a suburb unless he took a wrong turn," Biden shot back, adding that "this is not 1950" and Trump's dog whistles "don't work anymore." He said Trump's handling of the pandemic and the climate have damaged the suburbs.The section ended with Trump flatly refusing to condemn White supremacy when asked to do so by Wallace and Biden. "Stand back and stand by," he said to the white supremacist militia group Proud Boys, in a moment reminiscent of his response to White supremacists' march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. "The commander in chief refused to condemn White supremacy on the global stage in front of my children, in front of everybody's families, and he was given the opportunity multiple times to condemn White supremacy and he gave a wink and a nod to a racist, Nazi, murderous organization," said Van Jones, the CNN political commentator."That's the only thing that happened tonight," he said. "That's what happened tonight."

Disputing the election

Amid unleashing a barrage of misinformation and falsehoods about mail-in voting, Trump failed to affirm the one thing he was asked about it: whether he would encourage his supporters to be peaceful if election results are unclear."I'm encouraging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully," Trump said when asked what he would tell his followers in a post-November 3 world.After issuing his usual falsehoods about widespread fraudulent voting — albeit in front of a newly massive audience and without an ounce of fact-checking from the moderator — Trump declared he wouldn't support a result under certain circumstances."If I see tens of thousands of ballots being manipulated, I can't go along with that," Trump said.It was an answer that will do little to calm fears of post-election chaos.For his part, Biden insisted that if Americans vote in large numbers — presumably for him — a contested election could be prevented.

Anything but coronavirus

If Trump has an overriding strategy in the final days of the campaign, it is to divert attention from the coronavirus pandemic, which voters say in polls that he has badly mismanaged. It has been evident for months Trump is eager to move on.And if his goal Tuesday was to obscure his coronavirus record, Trump may have been successful. Despite Biden's attempts to inject it back into the discussion periodically, the debate devolved into arguments and bickering that ultimately did not center on the global pandemic, which has now killed 1 million people.Trump openly said the vaccine process is political, mocked Biden for wearing a mask and instead of a robust defense of his record he sought to claim a hypothetical President Biden would have done worse. The scaled-down audience and lack of a handshake also brought the health crisis into the debate hall atmospherics. And Biden made multiple references to the 200,000 Americans who have died.But ultimately the debate was not about the pandemic. It was about Trump's belligerence, which in his view can only be considered a positive.

Taking over — and talking over — the Supreme Court

The dominant issue on Capitol Hill right now is Trump's nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But while the debate opened with questions about the high court, the details were largely lost amid the chaos, as Trump interrupted Biden's answers and Wallace struggled to rein in a debate that was devolving into disarray from its opening moments.Biden attempted to turn the discussion into one over health care, pointing to the potential for a Supreme Court with a 6-3 conservative majority to overturn the Affordable Care Act, including its protections for those with preexisting conditions, and undo Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court decision that legalized abortion nationally. Trump tried to pin Biden down on progressive proposals to end the Senate's filibuster and expand the Supreme Court. "Why wouldn't you answer that question?" Trump said. None of those substantive differences really broke through, though, as Trump repeatedly interrupted Biden and the moderator and the two candidates talked over each Read More – Source



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Pope expresses support for same-sex civil union laws in new documentary

Issued on: 21/10/2020 – 17:54

Pope Francis says in a film released on Wednesday that homosexuals s..

Issued on:

Pope Francis says in a film released on Wednesday that homosexuals should be protected by civil union laws, in some of the clearest language he has used on the rights of gay people.

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"Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it," Pope Francis says in the documentary "Francesco" by Oscar-nominated director Evgeny Afineevsky.

"What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that," he said.

The pope appeared to be referring to when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires and opposed legislation to approve same sex marriages but supported some kind of legal protection for the rights of gay couples.

Papal biographer Austen Ivereigh told Reuters that the pope's comments in the film were some of the clearest language the pontiff has used on the subject since his election in 2013.

The pope, who early in his papacy made the now-famous "Who am I to judge?" remark about homosexuals trying to live a Christian life, spoke in a section of the film about Andrea Rubera, a gay man who with his partner adopted three children.

Rubera says in the film that he went to a morning Mass the pope said in his Vatican residence and gave him a letter explaining his situation.

He told the pope that he and his partner wanted to bring the children up as Catholics in the local parish but did not want to cause any trauma for the children. It was not clear in which country RuberaRead More – Source

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Popping the digital filter bubble

Issued on: 21/10/2020 – 10:36

Ever wondered why 2 people can search for the same thing online and ..

Issued on: 21/10/2020 – 10:36

Ever wondered why 2 people can search for the same thing online and get 2 totally different results? The answer is online echo chambers and digital filter bubbles – social media and search engines that skew our access to information and algorithms that artificially promote content they think should suit us. Those invisible chains shrink our freedom to learn and be confronted with new ideas. Want to break free? France 24 can help you pop the filter bubbles around you!

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Social networks have revolutionised how we access information. In France, over a quarter of people get their news from social networks – second only to television. And for young people, the change is even more drastic: 47% of the under-35s say their primary source of information is social media (Ifop, 2019). And we’re not just passive consumers of information online now – everyone can also generate content, leading to a vast quantity of news and views online.

Sifting through that ever-growing mountain of information forces search engines and social media to use algorithms – to sort the wheat they think will interest us, from the chaff they assume won’t. For Jérôme Duberry of the University of Geneva, it’s a simple calculation: “if a web-user has a given profile, then they will be fed information of a certain type”. Posts that seem to appear at random on our Twitter or Facebook timelines are in fact carefully chosen according to what the platform already knows about us – interests, friends, “likes”. Highlighting content that is tailored specifically to our interests filters out topics from outside our comfort zone – reinforcing our beliefs.

Online rights are human rights

But social networks are only one aspect of the digital echo chambers. Search engines are also key – once again due to their reliance on algorithms. Google’s search results are generated from our own online history, mixed with that of thousands of other users. The goal for the search engine is to maximise user engagement by finding results that are most likely to prompt interest (and sales) from the user – and so generate advertising revenue.

For Jérôme Duberry, those gatekeepers limit our access to knowledge: “it’s as if there was someone standing in front of the university library, who asks you a bunch of questions about who you are, and only then gives you access to a limited number of books. And you never get the chance to see all the books on offer, and you never know the criteria for those limits.”

The consequences of these so-called Filter Bubbles are far-reaching. For Tristan Mendès France, specialist in Digital Cultures at the University of Paris, “being informed via social networks means an internet user is in a closed-circuit of information”.

Blinkered online views, democratic bad news

For many academics, those echo chambers could threaten the health of our democracies, suggesting the algorithms could contribute to the polarisation of society. By limiting our access to views similar to our own and excluding contradictory opinions, our beliefs may be reinforced – but at the expense of a diversity of opinions.

And that could undermine the very basis of our democracies. For Jerôme Duberry, the Filter Bubbles “could lead to us questioning the value of a vote. Today, we lend a great deal of importance to the vote, which is the extension of a person’s opinion. But that individual’s opinion is targeted by interest groups using an impressive array of techniques.”

That isn’t the only distortion that algorithms have created. They have also allowed more radical views to predominate. Youtube’s algorithm is blind to the actual content of a video – its choice of what will be most visible is made according to which videos are viewed all the way to the end. But for Tristan Mendès France, “it is generally the most activist or militant internet users that view videos all the way through”. That provokes “extra-visibility” for otherwise marginal content – at the expense of more nuanced or balanced views, or indeed verified information.

Escaping the echo chamber

So what happens to the spirit of debate in a world where your online habits reinforce your beliefs? Is the echo chamber a philosophical prison? And how easy is it to get back out into the fresh air of contradictory views?

In the US, the movement opposing algRead More – Source

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‘Well, this is Iceland’: Earthquake interrupts Prime Minister’s interview

Katrin Jakobsdottir was discussing the impact of the pandemic on tourism with the Washington Post wh..

Katrin Jakobsdottir was discussing the impact of the pandemic on tourism with the Washington Post when her house started to shake, visibly startling the Icelandic leader."Oh my god, there's an earthquake," she said with a gasp. "Sorry, there was an earthquake right now. Wow."But Jakobsdottir quickly pivoted back to the matter at hand, laughing: "Well this is Iceland" and continuing her response to the question."Yes I'm perfectly fine, the house is still strong, so no worries," she later added.Jakobsdottir, 44, has been Iceland's Prime Minister since 2017.The 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck on Tuesday afternoon 10 kilometers southwest of Hafnarfjordur, a coastal town near the capital of Reykjavík, according to the United States Geological Survey, which measures quakes worldwide.The tremble led to reports of damage around the capital. Earthquakes are common in Iceland, which boats a sweeping landscape dotted with dozens of volcanoes. Jakobsdottir isn't the first world leader to be interrupted by a quake this year; in May, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was discussing lifting coronavirus restrictions

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