new survey by the Pew Research Center found that 15 percent of prominent accounts on those seven platforms had previously been banished from others like Twitter and Facebook.

F.B.I. raid on Mar-a-Lago thrust his latest pronouncements into the eye of the political storm once again.

study of Truth Social by Media Matters for America, a left-leaning media monitoring group, examined how the platform had become a home for some of the most fringe conspiracy theories. Mr. Trump, who began posting on the platform in April, has increasingly amplified content from QAnon, the online conspiracy theory.

He has shared posts from QAnon accounts more than 130 times. QAnon believers promote a vast and complex conspiracy that centers on Mr. Trump as a leader battling a cabal of Democratic Party pedophiles. Echoes of such views reverberated through Republican election campaigns across the country during this year’s primaries.

Ms. Jankowicz, the disinformation expert, said the nation’s social and political divisions had churned the waves of disinformation.

The controversies over how best to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic deepened distrust of government and medical experts, especially among conservatives. Mr. Trump’s refusal to accept the outcome of the 2020 election led to, but did not end with, the Capitol Hill violence.

“They should have brought us together,” Ms. Jankowicz said, referring to the pandemic and the riots. “I thought perhaps they could be kind of this convening power, but they were not.”

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Kremlin says annexation and retreat are not a contradiction amid Ukrainian successes

  • Putin signs annexation documents
  • Russian forces battle counter-offensive
  • Putin appoints officials to run regions
  • Kremlin: the territories will be returned

LONDON, Oct 5 (Reuters) – As President Vladimir Putin completed paperwork for the annexation of four regions of Ukraine on Wednesday, the Kremlin said there was no contradiction between Russian retreats and Putin’s vow that they would always be part of Russia.

In the biggest expansion of Russian territory in at least half a century, Putin signed laws admitting the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR), Kherson region and Zaporizhzhia region into Russia.

The conclusion of the legalities of the annexation of up to 18% of Ukrainian territory came as Russian forces battled to halt Ukrainian counter-offensives within it, especially north of Kherson and west of Luhansk.

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Asked if there was a contradiction between Putin’s rhetoric and the reality of retreat on the ground, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “There is no contradiction whatsoever. They will be with Russia forever and they will be returned.”

The wording of the laws is unclear about what exact borders Russia is claiming for the annexed territories and Peskov declined to give clear guidance.

“Certain territories will still be returned and we will continue to consult with the population that expresses a desire to live with Russia,” Peskov said.

The contrast between a set of defeats on the battlefield and lofty language from the Kremlin about Russia’s might have raised concerns within the Russian elite about the conduct of the war.

Such is the depth of feeling over the retreats that two Putin allies publicly scolded the military top brass about the failings.

ANNEXATION

Russia declared the annexations after holding what it called referendums in occupied areas of Ukraine. Western governments and Kyiv said the votes breached international law and were coercive and non-representative.

More than seven months into a war that has killed tens of thousands and triggered the biggest confrontation with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile crisis, Russia’s most basic aims are still not achieved.

The areas that are being annexed are not all under control of Russian forces and Ukrainian forces have recently driven them back.

Together with Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, Putin’s total claim amounts to more than 22% of Ukrainian territory, though the exact borders of the four regions he is annexing are still yet to be finally clarified.

Moscow, which recognised Ukraine’s post-Soviet borders in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, will never give the regions back, Putin said on Friday at a grand Kremlin treaty-signing ceremony which brought the partially controlled regions into Russia.

Russia’s parliament said people living in the annexed regions would be granted Russian passports, the Russian Central Bank would oversee financial stability and the Russian rouble would be the official currency.

In justifying the Feb. 24 invasion, Putin said that Russian speakers in Ukraine had been persecuted by Ukraine which, he said, the West was trying to use to undermine Russian security.

Ukraine and its Western backers say that Putin has no justification for what they say is an imperial-style land grab. Kyiv denies Russian speakers were persecuted.

Now Putin casts the war as a battle for Russia’s survival against the United States and its allies, which he says want to destroy Russia and grab its vast natural resources.

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Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Philippa Fletcher

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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China’s ‘Absurd’ Covid Propaganda Stirs Rebellion

“We have won the great battle against Covid!”

“History will remember those who contributed!”

“Extinguish every outbreak!”

These are among the many battle-style slogans that Beijing has unleashed to rally support around its top-down, zero-tolerance coronavirus policies.

China is now one of the last places on earth trying to eliminate Covid-19, and the Communist Party has relied heavily on propaganda to justify increasingly long lockdowns and burdensome testing requirements that can sometimes lead to three tests a week.

The barrage of messages — online and on television, loudspeakers and social platforms — has become so overbearing that some citizens say it has drowned out their frustrations, downplayed the reality of the country’s tough coronavirus rules and, occasionally, bordered on the absurd.

citywide lockdown in Shanghai this spring, Jason Xue had no more food left in his fridge. Yet when he clicked on the government’s social media account, he noticed that a top city official had vowed to “make every possible endeavor” to address food shortages.

Government assistance didn’t show up until four weeks later, Mr. Xue said.

“I was extremely angry, panicked and despairing,” said Mr. Xue, who works for a financial communications firm. He eventually turned to neighbors for help. “The propaganda was resolute and decisive, but it was different from the reality that we didn’t even know whether we could have the next meal.”

Xi Jinping, China’s leader, has made controlling the virus a “top political priority.” Thousands of state media outlets and social media accounts have echoed Beijing’s “zero Covid” policy and praised the sacrifice of workers trying to control Covid-19.

at least 120 Covid-related propaganda phrases have been created since the beginning of the pandemic.

blocking them from seeking safety.

Videos of the episode were posted online and quickly deleted by censors, who said people should “at least bring masks before escaping from buildings,” even when an earthquake is “highly destructive.”

For some, the video was a reminder of how the government had used the pandemic to tighten its grip on their private lives, telling them when they can leave their apartments, what kind of food they can buy and what hospitals they can enter.

Kong Lingwanyu, a 22-year-old marketing intern in Shanghai, was upset that officials used the phrase “unless necessary” when describing restrictions around things like leaving the home, dining out or gathering with others.

Ms. Kong said a local official responsible for carrying out coronavirus policies had told her that she should not “buy unnecessary food.” She said she asked the official what standards the government used to determine what kind of food was necessary.

“Who are you to decide the ‘necessity’ for others?” she said. “It’s totally absurd and nonsense.”

On state television, Beijing’s “nine storm fortification actions” around the pandemic are frequently repeated to keep people in line with Covid policies. The nine actions are: neighborhood lockdowns, mass testing, contact tracing, disinfection, quarantine centers, increased health care capacity, traditional Chinese medicine, screening of neighborhoods and prevention of local transmission.

Yang Xiao, a 33-year-old cinematographer in Shanghai who was confined to his apartment for two months during a lockdown this year, had grown tired of them all.

“With the Covid control, propaganda and state power expanded and occupied all aspects of our life,” he said in a phone interview. Day after day, Mr. Yang heard loudspeakers in his neighborhood repeatedly broadcasting a notice for P.C.R. testing. He said the announcements had disturbed his sleep at night and woke him up at dawn.

“Our life was dictated and disciplined by propaganda and state power,” he said.

To communicate his frustrations, Mr. Yang selected 600 common Chinese propaganda phrases, such as “core awareness,” “obey the overall situation” and “the supremacy of nationhood.” He gave each phrase a number and then put the numbers into Google’s Random Generator, a program that scrambles data.

He ended up with senseless phrases such as “detect citizens’ life and death line,” “strictly implement functions” and “specialize overall plans without slack.” Then he used a voice program to read the phrases aloud and played the audio on a loudspeaker in his neighborhood.

No one seemed to notice the five minutes of computer-generated nonsense.

When Mr. Yang uploaded a video of the scene online, however, more than 1.3 million people viewed it. Many praised the way he used government language as satire. Chinese propaganda was “too absurd to be criticized using logic,” Mr. Yang said. “I simulated the discourse like a mirror, reflecting its own absurdity.”

His video was taken down by censors.

Mr. Yang added that he hoped to inspire others to speak out against China’s Covid policies and its use of propaganda in the pandemic. He wasn’t the only Shanghai resident to rebel when the city was locked down.

In June, dozens of residents protested against the police and Covid control workers who installed chain-link fences around neighborhood apartments. When a protester was shoved into a police car and taken away, one man shouted: “Freedom! Equality! Justice! Rule of law!” Those words would be familiar to most Chinese citizens: They are commonly cited by state media as core socialist values under Mr. Xi.

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Embattled Sarver Says He’s Decided To Sell Suns, Mercury

By Associated Press
September 21, 2022

Robert Sarver is the primary owner of NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, he was recently suspended for racist and misogynistic conduct.

Robert Sarver says he has started the process of selling the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury, a move that comes only eight days after he was suspended by the NBA over workplace misconduct including racist speech and hostile behavior toward employees.

Sarver made the announcement Wednesday, saying selling “is the best course of action,” although he initially hoped that he would be able to keep control of the franchises — pointing to his record that, he claims, paints a dramatically different picture of who he is and what he stands for.

“But in our current unforgiving climate, it has become painfully clear that that is no longer possible — that whatever good I have done, or could still do, is outweighed by things I have said in the past,” Sarver wrote in a statement. “For those reasons, I am beginning the process of seeking buyers for the Suns and Mercury.”

Sarver bought the teams in July 2004. He is not the lone owner, but the primary one.

Assuming no other team is sold in the interim, it would be the first sale in the NBA since a group led by Qualtrics co-founder Ryan Smith bought the Utah Jazz in 2021 for about $1.7 billion.

It’s not known if Sarver has established an asking price. Forbes recently estimated the value of the Suns at $1.8 billion.

An independent report that was commissioned by the NBA last November and took about 10 months to complete found that Sarver “repeated or purported to repeat the N-word on at least five occasions spanning his tenure with the Suns,” though added that the investigation “makes no finding that Sarver used this racially insensitive language with the intent to demean or denigrate.”

The study also concluded that Sarver used demeaning language toward female employees, including telling a pregnant employee that she would not be able to do her job after becoming a mother; made off-color comments and jokes about sex and anatomy; and yelled and cursed at employees in ways that would be considered bullying “under workplace standards.”

Once that report was completed, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver suspended Sarver for one year and fined him $10 million — the maximum allowed by league rule.

“Words that I deeply regret now overshadow nearly two decades of building organizations that brought people together — and strengthened the Phoenix area — through the unifying power of professional men’s and women’s basketball,” Sarver wrote. “As a man of faith, I believe in atonement and the path to forgiveness. I expected that the commissioner’s one-year suspension would provide the time for me to focus, make amends and remove my personal controversy from the teams that I and so many fans love.”

Barely a week later, Sarver evidently realized that would not be possible.

His decision comes after a chorus of voices — from players like Suns guard Chris Paul and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, to longtime team sponsors like PayPal, and even the National Basketball Players Association — said the one-year suspension wasn’t enough.

Suns vice chairman Jahm Najafi called last week for Sarver to resign, saying there should be “zero tolerance” for lewd, misogynistic and racist conduct in any workplace. Najafi, in that same statement, also said he did not have designs on becoming the team’s primary owner.

“I do not want to be a distraction to these two teams and the fine people who work so hard to bring the joy and excitement of basketball to fans around the world,” Sarver wrote. “I want what’s best for these two organizations, the players, the employees, the fans, the community, my fellow owners, the NBA and the WNBA. This is the best course of action for everyone.”

Sarver, through his attorney, argued to the NBA during the investigative process that his record as an owner shows a “longstanding commitment to social and racial justice” and that it shows he’s had a “commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Among the examples Sarver cited was what he described as a league-best rate of 55% employment of minorities within the Suns’ front office and how more than half of the team’s coaches and general managers in his tenure — including current coach Monty Williams and current GM James Jones — are Black.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Hispanic Population In Portland Is Growing Rapidly

A specific city in Oregon has seen a huge amount of growth in the Hispanic community.

It’s almost 7 o’clock at night and Rosa Ramirez has had a fruitful day. Today her sales were good, but Ramirez says it isn’t always this way.

Rosa Ramirez moved to Oregon from El Salvador. 

She sells pupusas that she makes at a market in Hillsboro, Oregon. It’s a traditional dish from her home country of El Salvador. 

Ramirez says she was pregnant when she almost died at a shooting during the civil war in her country.  

Her unborn child did not survive. Heartbroken, she left El Salvador in 1992. Oregon has been her home for the last 30 years.  

“When I came here there was almost no one who spoke Spanish. Only English, and it was difficult for me because I was a nanny, and I was working for people who only spoke English and then I started fighting with the language,” said Ramirez. 

She is one of the almost 600,000 Latinos living in the state. 

According to the 2020 Census, Oregon’s Latino population grew by more than 30% in the last ten years. 

Latinos are now the largest minority group in the state and their numbers have grown faster than the national rate in each of the last three decades. 

Maria Caballero Rubio is the executive director of Centro Cultural in Washington County.

“That just shows that we are making a mark and we are growing. And I think people are acknowledging that we are a growing population,” said Rubio.  

She has seen steady growth since her farmworker family settled in Washington County in 1969. They migrated from Durango, Mexico.

“Maybe eight years ago, the only flags we had up here were the Mexican flag, because a lot of people were from, [or] have their ethnicity from Mexico. And then we had the American flag. But then the more that we started having visitors, they would say to me, you know, ‘where’s my flag?’ so, we decided that we would bring in the flag for people who’ve come to visit,” said Rubio. 

Caballero says that the thriving Latino population is starting to rise out of the fields and into professional jobs. 

“We had jobs in farm work or we had farms, jobs in in landscaping and those kinds of things. But more and more, as our communities have stayed here and the next generations have grown up and they become educated, they are coming back as professionals,” she continued. 

More than half of Oregon’s Latino population is in three counties: Multnomah, Washington and Marion. There the Latino communities grew by at least 25% in the last decades. 

“We are becoming more visible now, I have to say. Ten years ago, you couldn’t find an elected official here in Washington County or the Portland metro area that was Latino,” said Rubio.  

In fact, Carmen Rubio became Portland’s first Latino city commissioner in 2020. She is Maria’s daughter.  

Maria says the younger population may cause a shift in politics as more become eligible to vote when they turn 18. 

NEWSY’S AXEL TURCIOS: There’s more representation in the Latino community, in the state legislature, city councils, more Latinos getting into office, representing these growing communities across the state. Will this last?

MARIA CABALLERO RUBIO: I think so. I think it will last. We’re going to move forward and we’re going to continue making change, you know, social and systems changes that need to happen because of the historic disenfranchisement of people of color. 

The state once legally banned Black people.

“But, you know, department heads and managers and, you know, police chiefs and all of those. I think that they have not — they have not taken steps to be more inclusive in terms of recruiting and making it more more available to people of color to apply it. That’s an area that we still lack,” said Rubio. 

The increase in the Latino population here in Oregon has also been propelled by new waves of migrants. One of those waves is Venezuelan migration, fleeing poverty and the government in their country. According to the American Community Survey, there are more than 1,400 Venezuelans living in the state of Oregon.

Giselle Rincon is the president and co-founder of Venezuela’s Voice in Oregon.

“Everybody’s struggling to find food, medical supplies or jobs, especially safety,” said Rincon. She says the new Venezuelan migrants are facing new challenges. 

“Mostly access to education, how to find a job, how to navigate the system, where to apply. Most of the Venezuelans are professionals and they want to help prosper the economy of Oregon.”

“I think our new generations are becoming more involved. They are, you know, getting an education,” said Jaime Miranda, the owner of M&M Marketplace. 

Back at the Hillsboro market, Miranda says he was one of only a few Mexican immigrants in his neighborhood when he moved from Chihuahua, Mexico in 1985. He was 10 years old.   

He went to college and has owned this Latino market for 22 years. He started it with only 12 vendors and now the establishment has 66.

TURCIOS: How do you think the new generations of Latinos are shifting culture here in Oregon? 

JAIME MIRANDA: You know, from migrant workers to people who are starting their businesses, own their homes, they are getting a career, an education. So, we are definitely shifting to that second generation where they are integrated, and they understand how to navigate the system and be part of the community as a whole. 

“Now you see more Hispanics than before. Before, you didn’t see any Hispanics. Hispanics were very rare to find here in Oregon,” said Ramirez. 

As for Rosa, she says she carries El Salvador in her heart, but she’s beyond grateful to the United States, a nation that gave her a new life and optimism about the next generation. 

Source: newsy.com

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Ukraine’s Donbas, Where Putin Sowed the Seeds of War

CHASIV YAR, Ukraine — On a clear spring morning eight years ago, Oleksandr Khainus stepped outside his house to go to work at the town factory when he spotted new graffiti scrawled across his fence. “Glory to Russia,” vandals had written in angry black spray paint. “Putin,” another message said.

Mr. Khainus was perplexed. It was true that Chasiv Yar, the Rust Belt-like town where he has spent his entire life in a region called the Donbas, had long contained many conflicting opinions on its identity. Geographically, the Donbas was part of Ukraine, no question, but it was so close to Russia and so tied to it historically that many maintained that their true home really lay eastward.

“It was the type of stuff you’d argue about over the dinner table,” he said. “But nothing that anyone would get violent over.”

protests exploded. Armed separatists seized chunks of the Donbas right under the authorities’ noses. Two so-called People’s Republics were declared. Russian troops stormed in.

the most far-reaching war in generations. It was the Donbas that became Mr. Putin’s pretext for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. And now it is heating up again.

masterful offensive in the Kharkiv region, in Ukraine’s northeast, where town after town fell without a shot. Now they are heading south. Columns of dark green military trucks and American-made rocket launchers are thundering down the long, straight highways into the Donbas. But they will have a much harder fight on their hands.

Wagner Group and close air cover because of the proximity to the Russian border. They can also rely on separatist fighters and a well-financed network of citizen-spies who relay secret information to the invaders, often with devastating consequences.

Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s pro-Russia president, out of office. Mr. Yanukovych came from a Donbas steel town. In one stroke, Russia lost its ally and the Donbas elite its godfather. That is when the trouble started.

People flooded into the Donbas streets waving Russian flags. At first, said Alisa Sopova, a journalist for a Donbas newspaper at the time, “We were sure they were fake people brought in from Russia to pose for Russian TV.”

to speak so much Russian. A critical aspect of Ukrainian independence was reviving the Ukrainian language, marginalized during Soviet times. But those arguments were typically confined to social media posts or intellectual debates, until this moment.

“I’d go into the supermarket to buy some meat, and the shopkeeper tells me, ‘If you don’t speak Ukrainian, I’m not going to sell you any meat,’” Mr. Tsyhankov said. “I’ve been speaking Russian my whole life. How do you think that made me feel?”

done something similar in 2008 in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two regions of Georgia, and before that the Russians had meddled in Moldova, backing the breakaway Transnistria region. The tools were generally the same: bankrolling pro-Russia political parties; deploying intelligence agents to foment protests; sowing disinformation through Russian TV.

Mr. Putin’s strategy was to turn strategic slices of the former Soviet Union into separatist hotbeds to hobble young nations like Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, all struggling to break free from Moscow and move closer to Europe.

Under the Kremlin’s wing, Donbas’s separatists killed Ukrainian officials, took territory and declared the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic. When Ukrainian forces rolled in to quell the rebellion, some residents saw them as occupiers. They spoke a different language, hailed from a different region, embraced a different culture — or so went the pro-Russia narrative. In some villages, babushkas lay down in the roads blocking Ukrainian tanks, officers said, and in one, an especially cunning babushka kept stealing the soldiers’ helmets.

“It was frustrating,” said Anatolii Mohyla, a Ukrainian military commander. “We’d come to liberate them and they’d give us the finger.”

Mr. Putin dispatched thousands of Russian troops to support the separatists, later saying he had been “forced to protect” the Russian-speaking population. Towns like Chasiv Yar were occupied by separatist fighters, then liberated by Ukrainian troops a few months later. By 2015, the heavy fighting had died down. But it was not like Mr. Putin forgot about the Donbas.

He upped the ante in 2021, saying, “Kyiv simply does not need the Donbas.” And on Feb. 21 of this year, three days before he invaded Ukraine, Mr. Putin accused the Ukrainian government of perpetrating a “genocide.” He justified the most cataclysmic war in decades by citing the very tensions he himself stoked.

In early April, the agricultural land around Chasiv Yar began to thaw. Mr. Khainus, the pro-Ukraine farmer, drove out to check a sunflower field. A Ukrainian military vehicle raced up. A soldier leaned out the window and fired an assault rifle, the bullets skipping up in the dirt. Mr. Khainus slammed on the brakes.

A Ukrainian commander he recognized, a man whom Mr. Khainus said he had complained about before, jumped out. The commander greeted him with a punch to the head, Mr. Khainus said, and then smashed him in the face with a rifle butt.

He does not remember much after that. He shared photographs of himself lying in a hospital bed with two black eyes. Military and law enforcement officials declined to comment.

Mr. Khainus remains a supporter of the military, saying, “One stupid person doesn’t represent the army.”

But, he added wryly: “It’s one thing to be a patriot in Kyiv. It’s another to be a patriot in the Donbas.”

At 9 p.m. on July 9, four cruise missiles slammed into a dormitory at the old ceramic plant. The buildings crumbled as if they were made out of sand. Viacheslav Boitsov, an emergency services official, said there were “no military facilities nearby.”

But according to Mr. Mohyla and Oleksandr Nevydomskyi, another Ukrainian military officer, Ukrainian soldiers were staying in that building. The night before, they said, a mysterious man was seen standing outside flashing light signals, most likely pinpointing the position.

The military calls such spies “correctors,” and they relay navigational information to the Russians to make missile and artillery strikes more precise. Ukrainian officials have arrested more than 20 and say correctors are often paid several hundred dollars after a target is hit. The strike in Chasiv Yar was one of the deadliest: 48 killed, including 18 soldiers, the officers said.

“For sure there are Russian agents in this town,” Mr. Mohyla said. “There might even be spies in our unit.”

Few in Chasiv Yar are confident that the town will stay in government hands.

Mr. Khainus said the Russians were steadily moving closer to his sunflower fields. About a week ago, a friend’s house was shelled. A day later, in an online messaging channel, separatist supporters said Mr. Khainus should be next, calling him a “hero” — adding an epithet.

Is he scared?

“Why should I be?” he said. “They’re nobodies.”

Mr. Tsyhankov, the retired dump truck driver nostalgic for the Soviet times, seemed pained by all of the bloodshed but did not blame the Russians or the separatists. “They’re doing the right thing,” he said. “They’re fighting for the Russian language and their territory.”

As he said goodbye, insisting that his guests take with them a jug of his homemade apple juice and some fresh green grapes, he shook his head at the enormity of it. “Why can’t we be friends with you guys, the Americans?” he asked. “Politics are keeping all of us hostage.”

Every night, the horizon in Chasiv Yar lights up with explosions. Ukrainian soldiers operate here almost as if they are on enemy territory, hiving themselves off from the public, watching their backs, traveling by night in long convoys of cars with the lights blacked out, the drivers wearing night vision goggles. According to separatist messaging channels, the Wagner mercenaries have reached the outskirts of Bakhmut, a major Donbas town. As for Soledar, it is now off limits to journalists, but volunteers there trying to rescue civilians say it is as deadly as ever.

People here used to describe the Donbas in simple terms like “beautiful,” “honest,” “unbreakable” and “free.”

Now it is destroyed, depopulated, sad and empty.

“It’s like the Rust Belt,” Ms. Sopova said. “It’s not needed anymore. All that industry is obsolete.”

Countless communities have risen in the Donbas. Many are now falling. Ms. Sopova glimpses a perhaps not so faraway future where the Donbas goes back to what it once was: a wild field.

Oleksandra Mykolyshyn contributed reporting.

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How Live Storytelling Is Helping People Cope With Mental Illness

Heather Bodie is the executive artistic director at an organization that uses live reenactment to start discussions on topics about mental health.

Live storytelling is an emotionally powerful medium, and one organization in Chicago is using it to get more people to talk about mental health. 

Heather Bodie is the executive artistic director of erasing the distance, a non-profit arts organization started in 2005 that uses live storytelling to foster community discussions about topics like alcoholism, depression, anxiety and PTSD.   

“You’ll notice, even in the last like five years, billboards on the side of the highway or signs on the side of the bus that say ‘talk to someone,’ right? But if you’ve never placed language to what it is that you’re living with, to what it is that’s going on in your body, if you have deep seated stigma and shame around what it means to live with a mental health issue or to be going through crisis, you go sit down and talk to someone, but what are you going to say?” said Bodie. “The stories are performed by professional actors. But the way it works is that people sit down with us and share their own experiences in one-on-one interview style setting for anywhere from like an hour and a half to two hours, we transcribe those interviews, and then shape them verbatim text into two page scripts that we hand to those actors.”

The performances are followed by moderated discussions where audiences can talk about their own experiences and the ways they relate to the stories they just heard. 

It’s not therapy, though Bodie says it can feel therapeutic. And most importantly, it gives audiences the opportunity to learn how to talk about mental health with others. 

“If we can’t talk about it, we can’t take advantage of the resources that can lead to potential healing. So, storytelling helps people understand how to put words to what they live with,” she said. 

Beyond their live and virtual storytelling events, erasing the distance also works with schools, faith organizations and workplaces to reach different audiences — especially those who are new to discussions about mental health.  

“I think that’s our biggest challenge. A lot of times in our public performances, the people who join the room are here for it, right? And I wish, honestly, that more folks who were new to the experience of discussing their mental health showed up to these sorts of things,” said Bodie. 

Newsy’s mental health initiative “America’s Breakdown: Confronting Our Mental Health Crisis” brings you deeply personal and thoughtfully told stories on the state of mental health care in the U.S. Click here to learn more.

Source: newsy.com

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Trump Openly Embraces Some QAnon Conspiracy Theories

By Associated Press
September 16, 2022

As Trump contemplates another run for the presidency, his actions show that far from distancing himself from the political fringe, he’s welcoming it.

After winking at QAnon for years, Donald Trump is overtly embracing some of the group’s baseless conspiracy theories, even as the number of frightening real-world events linked to it grows.

On Tuesday, using his Truth Social platform, the Republican former president reposted an image of himself wearing a Q lapel pin overlaid with the words “The Storm is Coming.” In QAnon lore, the “storm” refers to Trump’s final victory, when supposedly he will regain power and his opponents will be tried, and potentially executed, on live television.

As Trump contemplates another run for the presidency and has become increasingly assertive in the Republican primary process during the midterm elections, his actions show that far from distancing himself from the political fringe, he is welcoming it.

He’s published dozens of recent Q-related posts, in contrast to 2020, when he claimed that while he didn’t know much about QAnon, he couldn’t disprove its conspiracy theory.

Pressed on QAnon theories that Trump allegedly is saving the nation from a satanic cult of child sex traffickers, he claimed ignorance but asked, “Is that supposed to be a bad thing?”

“If I can help save the world from problems, I’m willing to do it,” Trump said.

Trump’s recent postings have included images referring to himself as a martyr fighting criminals, psychopaths and the so-called deep state. In one now-deleted post from late August, he reposted a “q drop,” one of the cryptic message board postings that QAnon supporters claim come from an anonymous government worker with top secret clearance.

A Trump spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Even when his posts haven’t referred to the conspiracy theory directly, Trump has amplified users who do. An Associated Press analysis found that of nearly 75 accounts Trump has reposted on his Truth Social profile in the past month, more than a third of them have promoted QAnon by sharing the movement’s slogans, videos or imagery. About 1 in 10 include QAnon language or links in their profile bios.

Earlier this month, Trump chose a QAnon song to close out a rally in Pennsylvania. The same song appears in one of his recent campaign videos and is titled “WWG1WGA,” an acronym used as a rallying cry for Q adherents that stands for “Where we go one, we go all.”

On Truth Social, QAnon-affiliated accounts hail Trump as a hero and savior and vilify President Joe Biden by comparing him to Adolf Hitler or the devil. When Trump shares the content, they congratulate each other. Some accounts proudly display how many times Trump has “re-truthed” them in their bios.

A growing list of criminal episodes has been linked to people who had expressed support for the conspiracy theory, which U.S. intelligence officials have warned could trigger more violence.

QAnon supporters were among those who violently stormed the Capitol during the failed Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection.

In November 2020, two men drove to a vote-counting site in Philadelphia in a Hummer adorned with QAnon stickers and loaded with a rifle, 100 rounds of ammunition and other weapons. Prosecutors alleged they were trying to interfere with the election.

Last year, a California man who told authorities he had been enlightened by QAnon was accused of killing his two children because he believed they had serpent DNA.

Last month, a Colorado woman was found guilty of attempting to kidnap her son from foster care after her daughter said she began associating with QAnon supporters. Other adherents have been accused of environmental vandalism, firing paintballs at military reservists, abducting a child in France and even killing a New York City mob boss.

On Sunday, police fatally shot a Michigan man who they say had killed his wife and severely injured his daughter. A surviving daughter told The Detroit News that she believes her father was motivated by QAnon.

Major social media platforms including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have banned content associated with QAnon and have suspended or blocked accounts that seek to spread it. That’s forced much of the group’s activities onto platforms that have less moderation, including Telegram, Gab and Trump’s struggling platform, Truth Social.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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TikTok’s CEO Navigates the Limits of His Power

TikTok recently tried to tamp down concerns from U.S. lawmakers that it poses a national security threat because it is owned by the Chinese internet company ByteDance. The viral video app insisted it had an arm’s-length relationship with ByteDance and that its own executive was in charge.

“TikTok is led by its own global C.E.O., Shou Zi Chew, a Singaporean based in Singapore,” TikTok wrote in a June letter to U.S. lawmakers.

But in fact, Mr. Chew’s decision-making power over TikTok is limited, according to 12 former TikTok and ByteDance employees and executives.

Zhang Yiming, ByteDance’s founder, as well as by a top ByteDance strategy executive and the head of TikTok’s research and development team, said the people, who declined to be identified for fear of reprisals. TikTok’s growth and strategy, which are led by ByteDance teams, report not to Mr. Chew but to ByteDance’s office in Beijing, they said.

increasingly questioned TikTok’s data practices, reigniting a debate over how the United States should treat business relationships with foreign companies.

On Wednesday, TikTok’s chief operating officer testified in Congress and downplayed the app’s China connections. On Thursday, President Biden signed an executive order to sharpen the federal government’s powers to block Chinese investment in tech in the United States and to limit its access to private data on citizens.

a March interview with the billionaire investor David Rubenstein, whose firm, the Carlyle Group, has a stake in the Chinese giant. Mr. Chew added that he had become familiar with TikTok as a “creator” and amassed “185,000 followers.” (He appeared to be referring to a corporate account that posted videos of him while he was an executive at Xiaomi, one of China’s largest phone manufacturers.)

Jinri Toutiao. The two built a rapport, and an investment vehicle associated with Mr. Milner led a $10 million financing in Mr. Zhang’s company that same year, three people with knowledge of the deal said.

The news aggregator eventually became ByteDance — now valued at around $360 billion, according to PitchBook — and owns TikTok; its Chinese sister app, Douyin; and various education and enterprise software ventures.

By 2015, Mr. Chew had joined Xiaomi as chief financial officer. He spearheaded the device maker’s 2018 initial public offering, led its international efforts and became an English-speaking face for the brand.

“Shou grew up with both American and Chinese language and culture surrounding him,” said Hugo Barra, a former Google executive who worked with Mr. Chew at Xiaomi. “He is objectively better positioned than anyone I’ve ever met in the China business world to be this incredible dual-edged executive in a Chinese company that wants to become a global powerhouse.”

In March 2021, Mr. Chew announced that he was joining ByteDance as chief financial officer, fueling speculation that the company would go public. (It remains privately held.)

appointed Mr. Chew as chief executive, with Mr. Zhang praising his “deep knowledge of the company and industry.” Late last year, Mr. Chew stepped down from his ByteDance role to focus on TikTok.

Kevin Mayer, a former Disney executive, left after the Trump administration’s effort to sunder the app from its Chinese parent. China was also cracking down on its domestic internet giants, with Mr. Zhang resigning from his official roles at ByteDance last year. Mr. Zhang remains involved in decision making, people with knowledge of ByteDance said.

Mr. Chew moved to establish himself as TikTok’s new head during visits to the app’s Los Angeles office in mid-2021. At a dinner with TikTok executives, he sought to build camaraderie by keeping a Culver City, Calif., restaurant open past closing time, three people with knowledge of the event said. He asked attendees if he should buy the establishment to keep it open longer, they said.

a TikTok NFT project involving the musical artists Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch. He reprimanded TikTok’s global head of marketing on a video call with Beijing-based leaders for ByteDance after some celebrities dropped out of the project, four people familiar with the meeting said. It showed that Mr. Chew answered to higher powers, they said.

Mr. Chew also ended a half-developed TikTok store off Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, three people familiar with the initiative said. TikTok briefly explored obtaining the naming rights of the Los Angeles stadium formerly known as the Staples Center, they said.

He has also overseen layoffs of American managers, two people familiar with the decisions said, while building up teams related to trust and safety. In its U.S. marketing, the app has shifted its emphasis from a brand that starts trends and conversations toward its utility as a place where people can go to learn.

In May, Mr. Chew flew to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, speaking with European regulators and ministers from Saudi Arabia to discuss digital strategy.

June letter to U.S. lawmakers, he noted that ByteDance employees in China could gain access to the data of Americans when “subject to a series of robust cybersecurity controls.” But he said TikTok was in the process of separating and securing its U.S. user data under an initiative known as Project Texas, which has the app working with the American software giant Oracle.

“We know we’re among the most scrutinized platforms,” Mr. Chew wrote.

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Young American Fighting in Ukraine GoPros War From Trenches

Newsy first met “Alex,” who asked his real name not be used, back in May. He had come to Kyiv with a fellow foreign fighter.

This is the front line view from a trench in eastern Ukraine, seen through the GoPro camera of a 23-year-old American who does not speak the language of his fellow soldiers. 

Newsy first met “Alex,” who asked his real name not be used, back in May. He had come to Kyiv with a fellow foreign fighter. The day after this interview, he headed east alone to join a mostly-Ukranian army unit. 

In the months that ensued he fought in Kharkiv and then the Donbas region, and as part of the larger fighting force in the lightning counteroffensive. 

Alex stopped in Kyiv again for a few hours on his way to meet up with a special unit. 

NEWSY’S JASON BELLINI: I know you don’t want to talk about where you’re going next, what you’re doing next. What do you think the next few weeks are going to be like for you?

ALEX: More battle, more like this unit in particular, these people fight and these people they get their hands dirty. And that’s what I want to get in.

In other words, less time in the trenches, where he fires at an enemy he rarely and barely sees, while being hunted by and hiding from enemy artillery.

BELLINI: As a young foreigner, do you feel like they treat you well, treat you with respect? 

ALEX: It has its days. We all, you know, poke fun at each other,  the usual… it’s a brotherhood.

BELLINI: Some of the brothers that you showed me in that video, you said they’re no longer with us. 

ALEX: They were given another objective to take. We were separated from my outfit. 

BELLINI: How did you find out they were dead? 

ALEX: The commander gathered us all in for a meeting and told us that the attack was a success. And he read the list of heroes. And when they read the list of heroes, that means those people are not coming back. And my pals were on that list.

A few weeks ago, Alex shared photos of the tank in which he was asked to perform a grim duty. 

ALEX: The sergeant pulled me over and said, ‘hey, I need some help moving bodies.’ I was like, ‘all right.’ Inside the tank was the body of a sergeant. A Ukrainian sergeant.

It was someone he had met before, who had thanked Alex for his service in Ukraine. 

BELLINI: And you pulled him out of the tank? 

ALEX: He was in pieces. 

BELLINI: That sounds traumatic.

ALEX: It is what you- [he struggles for words]

Beyond words — six months and 5,700 miles away from home.

BELLINI: How much longer you think you’re going to be here?

ALEX: I’m going to be here for the winter. I know that much. But I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m not quitting. I can tell you that much. I’m far from it now. Like we’re winning. And that’s what I like to see.

Source: newsy.com

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