Friday morning news – May 29, 2020


Trump signs order to pull liability shield from social media companies » President Trump used his pen Thursday to fire back at Twitter and other social media platforms. He signed an executive order that he said is aimed at holding social media companies accountable for policing speech in a politically partisan way. 

That followed Twitter’s decision to selectively place fact check warning links under two of the president’s tweets rebutting his assertions about mail-in voting.

Trump told reporters at the White House…

TRUMP: The choices that Twitter makes when it chooses to suppress, edit, blacklist, shadow ban are editorial decisions pure and simple. They’re editorial decisions. In those moments, Twitter ceases to be a neutral public platform and they become an editor with a viewpoint.

He said companies like Twitter are largely shielded from liability over the content people post on their platforms based on the idea that they’re neutral platforms.

His executive order calls for new regulations under the Communications Decency Act. It would remove that legal shield if social media companies—quote—“engage in censoring or any political conduct.”

But it’s unclear how much the Trump administration can really accomplish without an act of Congress. It’s also unclear how many defenders Twitter will have in Washington. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she has no problem with Twitter’s move in principle, but questioned its implementation. 

PELOSI: Yes, we like Twitter to put up their—fact check the president, but it seems to be very selective. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Thursday seemed to agree that Twitter had in fact acted as an editor.

ZUCKERBERG: I don’t think that Facebook or internet platforms in general should be arbiters of truth. I think that’s kind of a dangerous line to get down to in terms of deciding what is true or what isn’t. 

Zuckerberg said everything politicians say receives—quote—“a ton of scrutiny already.”

U.S. coronavirus deaths pass 100k as New York City prepares to reopen » Also on Thursday, President Trump marked what he called a “very sad milestone.” Just over 100,000 Americans have now died from COVID-19. The president said “to all of the families and friends of those who have passed, I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy and love for everything that these great people stood for and represent. God be with you!”

But things are looking up in the U.S. epicenter of the outbreak. With new cases and deaths falling, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says New York City is the only part of the state that remains almost entirely closed. And officials are now preparing to reopen the Big Apple. 

CUOMO: They’re now disinfecting every train and every bus on a daily basis. They’re piloting the use of UV light technology to kill viruses in subway cars. 

Cuomo said New York was the hardest hit, but—quote—“We’re going to reopen as the smartest.” He said his state is leading the world in coronavirus testing, conducting more tests “per capita than any country on the globe.” 

India mired in triple disaster of pandemic, heat and locusts » In some parts of the world, though, the COVID-19 crisis is still worsening. The outbreak continues to spread in India, which now finds itself in the eye of a perfect storm. WORLD’s Anna Johansen has that story. 

ANNA JOHANESEN, REPORTER: India reported more than 7,000 new cases on Wednesday, as the infection curve continues to climb. But the problem is actually far worse than that. Only one out of every 400 Indian citizens have been tested, compared to about one-in-20 in the United States.  

Still, Indian officials are working to end a months-long lockdown as the country finds itself in a catch 22: Ease restrictions and risk further fueling the virus or remain closed and further devastate the economy of an already impoverished country. 

And, as if that wasn’t enough, India is grappling with dangerously scorching temperatures and the worst locust invasion in decades. 

As the insects devastated crops, temperatures soared to 118 degrees Fahrenheit in the capital New Delhi this week. Millions lack running water and air conditioning, leaving many to seek relief under shady trees in public parks.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen. 

Chinese legislature approves Hong Kong “national security” law » China’s legislature on Thursday signed off on a so-called national security law in Hong Kong. 

The vote was nearly unanimous and was never in doubt. China’s legislature is largely ceremonial and routinely rubber stamps the orders of the ruling Communist Party. And China is imposing the law without the consent of Hong Kong lawmakers. 

With the new law, Beijing seizes the power to punish anything it considers to be sedition or foreign interference in Hong Kong. And U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said Thursday that China is likely to define those terms very loosely. 

ORTAGUS: In the National People’s Congress in China—essentially calls these freedom loving protesters terrorists. They’re using national security in order to justify violent crackdowns on democracy. 

The law also will allow security forces from China to operate in the territory. 

Violent protests over Floyd death spread beyond Minneapolis » AUDIO: [SOUND OF PROTEST]

Thousands gathered once again in Minnesota’s Twin Cities last night to peacefully protest the death of a black man in police custody. But violent protesters also returned. 

AUDIO: [SIREN]

In St. Paul, officers in riot gear were seen standing in line in front of a Target, trying to keep out looters, who were smashing windows of other businesses.

Throughout Minneapolis, stores boarded up their windows and the city shut down nearly its entire light-rail system and all bus service out of safety concerns.

Earlier in the day, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz called in the National Guard to try to stem the violence.

And violent protests spread beyond Minnesota. In Denver, protesters blocked traffic and smashed car windows during a downtown protest. And as reporters interviewed one demonstrator, shots rang out near the Capitol building. 

AUDIO: [SOUND OF GUNSHOT]

No injuries were immediately reported.


(AP Photo/Jim Mone) Debris and carts are strewn in the Target parking lot near the Minneapolis Police Third Precinct, Thursday, May 28, 2020, following a night of rioting and looting as protests continue over the arrest of George Floyd who died in police custody.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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