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counsels Obama

Obama counsels NBA players on forming a social justice committee – The Hill

Former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaMary Trump reveals recordings of Trump’s sister swiping at Ivanka, Eric Obama calls for peaceful protests and ‘overwhelming participation at the ballot box’ Biden knocks Trump for using White House as ‘prop’ for convention MORE spoke with NBA players this week as they decided whether to end their strike in support of racial justice protests across the country.

A spokesperson for Obama told The Hill that the former president provided advice to a small group of players and discussed ideas including setting up a “social justice committee.”

“As an avid basketball fan, President Obama speaks regularly with players and league officials. When asked, he was happy to provide advice on Wednesday night to a small group of NBA players seeking to leverage their immense platforms for good after their brave and inspiring strike in the wake of Jacob Blake’s shooting,” the spokesperson, Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillRepublicans cast Trump as best choice for women House GOP campaign chairman insists party will win back majority The Hill’s Convention Report: Harris to make history accepting VP nod MORE, said. 

“They discussed establishing a social justice committee to ensure that the players’ and league’s actions this week led to sustained, meaningful engagement on criminal justice and police reform,” she added.

She did not name which players were in the conversation with Obama, though The Athletic reported the group included LeBron James and Chris Paul.

The conversation came after teams across the NBA and other sports leagues declined to play their games amid outrage over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., which has fueled a new eruption of protests against systemic racism and police brutality.

The NBA and its players, longtime supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, have fully embraced national messaging against racism, putting the words “Black Lives Matter” on their courts in the Orlando “bubble” on the Disney World campus and emblazoning messages on their jerseys such as “Say her name,” “Education reform” and “Enough.”

Obama expressed support for the strike earlier this week after the Milwaukee Bucks were the first to announce they would not play their scheduled game.

“I commend the players on the @Bucks for standing up for what they believe in, coaches like @DocRivers, and the @NBA and @WNBA for setting an example. It’s going to take all our institutions to stand up for our values,” he tweeted.

I commend the players on the @Bucks for standing up for what they believe in, coaches like @DocRivers, and the @NBA and @WNBA for setting an example. It’s going to take all our institutions to stand up for our values. pic.twitter.com/rUGETgAt7P

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 27, 2020

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Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama: ‘I’m just devastated by the shootings in Kenosha’ – The Guardian

Michelle Obama said she was devastated by the shootings in Kenosha, Wisconsin, this week and is exhausted and frustrated at the trauma of Black and brown people in the US.
In a lengthy statement rel…
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Former Obama

Former Obama speechwriter mocks mainstream media’s ‘hilarious’ push to call Kamala Harris ‘moderate’ – Fox News

Former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau has dismissed the mainstream media’s trend of describing Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., as a “moderate.”

On his Vote Saves America podcast Thursday, Favreau spoke with other Obama staffers about presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden‘s selection of Harris as his running mate. At one point, he took a moment to chide the media’s coverage of the California senator.

“It was hilarious to me that she’s being called in all of this coverage a ‘moderate.’ Like, ‘Joe Biden has found a fellow moderate or centrist,'” Favreau began. “She supports something extremely close to Medicare-for-all, which [Sen.] Bernie Sanders acknowledged in his statement supporting her. She’s for the Green New Deal. She has one of the most liberal records in the U.S. Senate!”

STEPHEN COLBERT COMPARES POLITICAL IDEOLOGY OF BIDEN, HARRIS TO ‘ROCKEFELLER REPUBLICANS’

“If you want to call Kamala Harris’ record in the Senate and the policies that she’s supporting now ‘centrist’ or ‘moderate,’ great!” Favreau continued. “If that’s where the Overton window has moved, then congratulations to all the progressive activists because you have f—in’ moved the s— out of that window! That supporting the Green New Deal and basically Medicare-for-all is now moderate and centrist! Fantastic!”

Several mainstream media outlets have described Harris as more moderate than she actually is. The New York Times raised eyebrows this week by labeling her a “pragmatic moderate” while an op-ed from The Washington Post called her a “small-c conservative.”

CRITICS SLAM MAINSTREAM MEDIA’S RUSH TO CAST KAMALA HARRIS AS MODERATE: ‘ABSOLUTELY, IT’S COORDINATED’

ABC News anchor George Stephanopolous described the California senator as coming from the “middle of the road, moderate wing” of the Democratic Party. In addition, “The Late Show” host Stephen Colbert compared the political idealogy of her and Biden to “Rockefeller Republicans.”

However, Vox founder and editor-at-large Ezra Klein argued that Harris joining the Democratic ticket shows Biden “moving left” instead of towards the center.

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During her own presidential run, Harris expressed her support for the Green New Deal, Medicare-for-all, decriminalizing illegal border crossings, and mandatory gun buybacks.

According to GovTrack analysis, Harris was ranked as the “most liberal” senator in 2019 outranking both Sanders, I-Vt., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

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Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama suffering from ‘low-grade depression’ due to racial inequality, coronavirus – NBC News

Former first lady Michelle Obama says racial inequality amid the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic has left her feeling that she has “some form of low-grade depression.”

“Not just because of the quarantine, but because of the racial strife, and just seeing this administration, watching the hypocrisy of it, day in and day out, is dispiriting,” she said in the latest episode of her podcast released Wednesday.

Obama added that the mounting stories of Black people being wrongfully arrested, killed or “dehumanized” have been weighing on her. And while George Floyd’s death in police custody sparked an outpouring of outrage, the issue of racism in America long preceded the incident.

“I’d be remiss to say part of this depression is also a result of what we’re seeing in terms of the protests, the continued racial unrest that has plagued this country since its birth,” she said.

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The high rates of Black men in prisons, economic disparity and lack of access to quality health care were among the examples Obama pointed to.

Obama also discussed the attitudes some Americans had about the country inaugurating its first Black president when her husband, Barack Obama, was elected in 2008.

“The reaction to it on all sides, the vast discomfort with the notion that a Black man could be sitting in the highest level of office, we saw that. We saw the signs, we saw the nooses, ” she said.

Both Obamas have been subject to right wing attacks and abuse online.

Reflecting on the pandemic, Obama also said she found people who refuse to wear masks “frustrating.”

“There’s almost like there’s a limit to our sacrifice and it was about a month and then we just got tired of the virus,” she said. “That’s been disheartening to see so many people who have grown tired of staying at home because the virus didn’t impact them.”

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The country needs to think more about essential workers, many of whom are financially unstable, lack health insurance and face greater risks of falling ill, she said.

In the episode, Obama speaks with Washington Post opinion columnist and friend Michele Norris about the rise in protests over racial injustice since the Floyd death.

Amid all the challenges facing the country, Obama said she’s managing the “emotional highs and lows” by trying to maintain a routine, trying to not be hard on herself, getting outdoors and spending time with her family.

Obama’s eponymous podcast launched last month with an interview with her husband.

Image: Linda GivetashLinda Givetash

Linda Givetash is a London-based producer for NBC News. 

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Abolish Obama

Obama’s Call to Abolish Filibuster Puts Further Spotlight on the Tactic – The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Former President Barack Obama called on Thursday for eliminating the filibuster, joining a growing chorus of Democrats who portray the Senate’s signature procedural weapon as an obstacle to social progress that must be abolished if the party captures the Senate and White House.

The appeal by Mr. Obama to do away with a tactic that Senate Republicans used to thwart him and the Democratic agenda for much of his eight years in office came during his eulogy in Atlanta for Representative John Lewis, the civil rights icon. The former president seized the moment to cast the filibuster as a vestige of a grim period in the United States when Southern lawmakers used it to impede voting rights and other advances for African-Americans.

“Once we pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, we should keep marching,” Mr. Obama said, referring to legislation Democrats are pushing on Capitol Hill in the face of opposition from Republicans. “And if all this takes eliminating the filibuster — another Jim Crow relic — in order to secure the God-given rights of every American, then that’s what we should do.”

His comments came as Democrats increasingly hope that their party can elect former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to the presidency and win enough seats to knock Republicans out of the Senate majority, giving Democrats the White House and control of both chambers in Congress.

But even the most optimistic projections would leave Democrats well short of the 60-vote supermajority required in the Senate to break filibusters blocking legislation. That prospect has some Democrats worried that they will prevail in November only to see their legislative initiatives succumb to filibusters led by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, come January.

As a result, some liberal senators have joined progressive groups in pushing Democrats to promise they would gut the filibuster, which has impeded Democratic initiatives on gun safety, immigration and health care, to name a few. Mr. Obama’s plea on Thursday is likely to lend new energy to that drive and elevate the fate of the filibuster in Senate contests around the country.

“President Obama is absolutely right,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont and a former Democratic presidential candidate. He said ending the ability to filibuster would allow Democrats to “pass a comprehensive agenda to guarantee the rights and dignity of everyone in this country.”

Top Democrats have been reluctant to embrace the call to blow up the filibuster, fearing it could backfire whenever Republicans returned to power. In 2013, Democrats exasperated at Republican success in blocking Mr. Obama’s judicial nominees lowered the threshold for advancing presidential nominees to a majority, a change that allowed President Trump and Mr. McConnell to push through 200 new federal judges.

The right to filibuster legislation remains in place and Democrats fear that eliminating it could make moderate and independent voters uneasy, alter the character of the Senate and further decrease any attempts at bipartisanship. Democrats from Republican-leaning states have said they do not support the idea.

But Mr. Biden, a product of more than three decades in the Senate who prides himself on his institutional credentials, recently showed more openness to the idea of reducing the power of the filibuster. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said any decision would have to await the election though “nothing’s off the table.” It is clearly on the minds of Senate Democrats as they see a chance to take the majority.

“A lot of us are seriously contemplating that possibility, but I’m not ready to make a commitment at this point,” Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, told reporters on Capitol Hill. He said a motivating force was how the Senate “has disintegrated under the abuse of the filibuster by Mitch McConnell.”

Once rarely used, the filibuster has become routine in the Senate as deep polarization set in. In the past, Mr. Obama came close to calling for jettisoning it, but Adam Jentleson, a progressive activist and a top aide to the majority leader at the time, Harry Reid, said Mr. Obama’s framing of the filibuster as a negative force would make it harder for Democrats who had been reluctant to consider the move to stick with that position.

“Not only did he adopt the cause of reform, he cast it as a structural civil rights issue,” said Mr. Jentleson, the author of a coming book on the decline of the Senate. “Obama has reset the debate and given senators a reason to see reform as a positive good, a step they can take to fulfill his vision and erase the legacy of Jim Crow.”

Trying to turn Mr. Obama’s comment on Democratic Senate candidates, Republicans said that eliminating the filibuster would empower the most liberal faction of the Democratic Party and alienate centrist voters.

“Mainstream voters can’t stand what they’re seeing from the woke mob of liberals hijacking cities across America, and these candidates will have to answer for why they want to give them more power,” said Jesse Hunt, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

A Senate rules change like weakening the filibuster is supposed to require 67 votes. But in recent years, both parties used a convoluted parliamentary maneuver to set the new Senate standard on nominations to a simple majority and such an approach could be used to lower the 60-vote supermajority still needed to advance legislation to a majority.

Mr. McConnell, who has resisted entreaties from Mr. Trump to end the filibuster and roll over Democrats, warned Democrats last month that it would be a mistake to do so.

“The important thing for our Democratic friends to remember is that you may not be in total control in the future,” he said.

Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

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Barack Obama

Barack Obama’s Eulogy for John Lewis Was Perfect – Slate

Politics

Obama stands at a podium with Lewis' American flag–draped casket just visible in the foreground.

Former President Barack Obama speaks during the funeral service of the late Rep. John Lewis at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on Thursday.
Alyssa Pointer—Pool/Getty Images

On Thursday, mourners honored civil rights icon and longtime Rep. John Lewis in Atlanta. At his funeral ceremony, the first Black president of the United States, Barack Obama, gave a eulogy that served both to pay tribute to one of the greatest leaders of the American civil rights movement and call for specific action to carry on that legacy. It will likely go down as one of Obama’s greatest speeches, and it is worth watching in full.

In a speech that was almost surprising in its frank invocation of politics, Obama compared the brutal 1965 violence that nearly ended Lewis’ life—police fractured his skull on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama—to the violent suppression of peaceful protests by federal officers today, called the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to gut the Voting Rights Act and the wave of voter suppression that followed “an attack on what John fought for,” challenged hypocritical congressional leaders who have opposed a renewal of “the law that [Lewis] was wiling to die for” while issuing empty statements calling him a “hero,” called for the end to the disenfranchisement of formerly incarcerated people, called for making Election Day a national holiday, called for statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico, and called for “eliminating the filibuster, another Jim Crow relic, in order to secure the God-given rights of every American.”

The barnburner of a political speech followed a powerful retelling of some of the highlights of Lewis’ life and career, a narrative that laid the groundwork for Obama’s call to action. It seemed clear that Obama was devastated by the death of a man he called a mentor.

“It is a great honor to be back at Ebenezer Baptist Church in the pulpit of its greatest pastor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to pay my respects to perhaps his finest disciple,” Obama said near the start of his remarks, his voice nearly breaking.

“I’ve come here today, because I, like so many Americans, owe a great debt to John Lewis and his forceful vision of freedom,” Obama continued.

Obama then described Lewis’ rise from a place of “modest means” in rural Troy, Alabama, where, as a boy, he eavesdropped on his father’s discussions with friends about the murderous violence of the local Ku Klux Klan. As Obama described, after hearing King speak on the radio, Lewis became one of the greatest advocates for nonviolent resistance this country has seen.

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“He helped organize the Nashville campaign in 1960. He and other young men and women sat at a segregated lunch counter, well-dressed, straight back, refusing to let a milkshake poured on their heads, or a cigarette extinguished on their backs, or a foot aimed at their ribs—refuse to let that dent their dignity and their sense of purpose,” Obama said. “And after a few months, the Nashville campaign achieved the first successful desegregation of public facilities in any major city in the South. John got a taste of jail for the first, second, third, well, several times. But he also got a taste of victory and it consumed him with righteous purpose and he took the battle deeper into the South.” Obama then described Lewis’ work to desegregate buses in the South “months before the first official Freedom Rides.”

But Obama’s narrative was not just a powerful retelling of the life of an icon and founding member of the most democratic stage of American democracy—it tied Lewis’ work in the 1960s to America’s present-day struggle with authoritarianism and voter suppression.

“Sometimes, we read about this and we kind of take it for granted, or at least we act as if it was inevitable. Imagine the courage of two people Malia’s age, younger than my oldest daughter, on their own, to challenge an entire infrastructure of oppression,” he said. “John was only 20 years old, but he pushed all 20 of those years to the center of the table, betting everything, all of it, that his example could challenge centuries of convention and generations of brutal violence and countless daily indignities suffered by African Americans.”

Finally, Obama turned to a powerful and direct political attack on present-day police brutality against Black people and voter and protest suppression efforts.

“Bull Connor”—the infamous Birmingham, Alabama, police commissioner who turned dogs and fire hoses on civil rights–era protesters—“may be gone, but today we witness, with our own eyes, police officers kneeling on the necks of Black Americans,” Obama said, alluding to the murder of George Floyd. “George Wallace may be gone, but we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators,” he added, alluding to the Trump administration–ordered assaults on protesters at Lafayette Square in D.C., and in Portland, Oregon.

Obama concluded by proposing that America honor the late congressman by enacting a new John Lewis Voting Rights Act and other measures to protect the vote, and by ending the “Jim Crow relic” of the filibuster if necessary to pass it.

Obama’s was one of the finest funeral orations by an American president—a tribute to Lewis’ life and a specific, actionable plea to protect the rights for which he and so many others fought and bled. History will determine whether his call—and that of Lewis—has been heard in the United States.

For more of Slate’s political coverage, subscribe to the Political Gabfest on Apple Podcasts or listen below.


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Barack Obama

Barack Obama and Joe Biden Join Forces In Video Targeting Trump – The New York Times

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. joined forces with his top surrogate Thursday morning, releasing a video of a conversation with former President Barack Obama that cast the current occupant of the White House as unworthy and Mr. Biden as the perfect leader to replace him.

Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama covered several topics in the wide-ranging, 15 minute conversation, including President Trump’s faltering response to the coronavirus pandemic, health care, economic recovery, police brutality and presidential leadership.

The conversation, recorded at Mr. Obama’s Washington, D.C. office, was “socially distanced,” as Mr. Biden continues to contrast himself with Mr. Trump, who has only halfheartedly embraced coronavirus mitigation tactics such as wearing face masks and staying six feet away from another person. Mr. Biden and his former boss entered the office wearing masks, as the former vice president continues to diverge with Mr. Trump on that issue, then the two men sat in chairs across a room, not wearing masks, as they discussed how Mr. Biden would govern as president.

The video, coming at a time when Mr. Biden is leading Mr. Trump in the polls, was part interview and part political layup, with Mr. Obama teeing up Mr. Biden to talk about current events in the lens in which he was most comfortable. The two men repeatedly circled back to Mr. Trump, drawing a contrast with how Mr. Obama’s administration — and Mr. Biden’s potential White House — would handle situations differently than the incumbent.

Mr. Trump has been “deliberately dividing people from the moment he came down that escalator,” Mr. Biden said. “And I think people are now going, ‘I don’t want my kid growing up that way.’”

Mr. Obama responded by saying, in part, “The thing I’ve got confidence in, Joe, is your heart and your character, and the fact that you are going to be able to reassemble the kind of government that cares about people and brings people together.”

The video was released Thursday at 10 a.m. and represents another careful step into the political arena by Mr. Obama, who is desperate to see Mr. Trump defeated but for months remained behind the scenes as he sought to let the Democratic Party chart its own course. Hours ahead of the release, Mr. Biden’s campaign released several clips online, which built anticipation and showed Mr. Obama’s wide reach as a campaign surrogate and a highly respected leader of the Party.

At one point the two men discussed the importance of health care, referring to the Affordable Care Act the Obama Administration passed early in its first term. Mr. Biden talked about on it in deeply personal terms, reflecting on the death of his son, Beau, from brain cancer.

That experience, Mr. Biden told Mr. Obama, underscored the importance of the health care legislation.

“I used to sit there and watch him in the bed and in pain and dying of glioblastoma,” Mr. Biden said of his older son, who died in 2015. “And I thought to myself, what would happen if his insurance company was able to come in, which they could have done before we passed Obamacare, and said: ‘You’ve outrun your insurance. You’ve outlived it. Suffer the last five months of your life in peace. You’re on your own.’”

Health care was a central issue for Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections, and they are emphasizing it again this election cycle, especially with the pandemic underscoring the importance of insurance coverage and care for the sick.

Mr. Trump came into office on a promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but he and Republicans in Congress failed in their efforts to undo the health law in 2017. Still, the Trump administration has repeatedly sought to undermine the law, and it is now asking the Supreme Court to overturn it.

“You and I both know what it’s like to have somebody you love get really sick, and in some cases to lose somebody,” Mr. Obama told Mr. Biden in their conversation. He called the Affordable Care Act a piece of “starter house” legislation, giving Mr. Biden room to tout his proposed public health insurance option that would build on Mr. Obama’s efforts.

“But that loss is compounded when you see the stress on their faces, because they’re worried that they’re being a burden on their families. They’re worried about whether the insurance is going to cover the treatments that they need.”

In another portion of the conversation, which was released on Wednesday, the two talked about their response to the Black Lives Matter movement and the current protests for racial equality. During Mr. Obama’s administration, some activists criticized the president for blocking efforts at systemic reform but there is large agreement he was more receptive than Mr. Trump.

Mr. Obama, the country’s first Black president, touted the police accountability measures implemented in his administration, including tasking the Justice Department with police oversight. He cited some instances of overt racism that still persist, including job discrimination.

“This is a process we’re all going through, and we’re all learning,” Mr. Obama said. “And something I’ve always admired about you Joe is your willingness to listen and to learn. It is a sign of leadership when you’re willing to hear other people’s experiences.”

The two are planning another online fund-raiser next week, with tickets ranging from $250 to $250,000. The Obamas, both the former president and his wife, Michelle, are likely the most high profile endorsers that Mr. Biden has, with the ability to drive attention and fund-raising unlike any other Democrats.

That Democrats have nominated his former vice president gives Mr. Obama a special entrance point to this election cycle, but he was rarely far away. During the primary, several candidates branded themselves as their heir to the “Obama coalition,” which could help Democrats achieve in 2020 what they failed to achieve in 2016.

The topics discussed in the video also function as a cheat sheet to the Biden campaign’s political message ahead of the general election. Mr. Obama ended the video talking about how Mr. Biden’s “basic decency” was just as important as any political message.

The two men also spent time focusing on the failures of Mr. Trump in responding to the coronavirus pandemic and the financial devastation it caused.

“You can’t separate out the public health crisis from the economy,” Mr. Obama said. “If you want the economy growing, people have to feel safe.”

Mr. Biden responded: “What you did, and what all great presidents do, is persuade.”

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Barack Obama

Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Elon Musk, Apple, and others hacked in unprecedented Twitter attack – The Verge

The Twitter accounts of major companies and individuals have been compromised in one of the most widespread and confounding hacks the platform has ever seen, all in service of promoting a bitcoin scam that appears to be earning its creator quite a bit of money.

We don’t know how the hack happened or even to what extent Twitter’s own systems may have been compromised — but following the unprecedented hacks of accounts including President Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Kanye West, Michael Bloomberg, and Apple, Twitter has confirmed it took the drastic step of blocking new tweets from every verified user, compromised or no, as well as locking all compromised accounts.

Twitter says it won’t restore access to their owners “until we are certain we can do so securely.”

We have locked accounts that were compromised and will restore access to the original account owner only when we are certain we can do so securely.

— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 16, 2020

On Wednesday evening, the company revealed that its own internal employee tools were compromised and used in the hack, which may explain why even accounts that claimed to have two-factor authentication were still attempting to fool followers with the Bitcoin scam.

The account takeovers appear to have subsided, but new scam tweets were posting to verified accounts on a regular basis starting shortly after 4PM ET and lasting more than two hours. Twitter acknowledged the situation after more than an hour of silence, writing on its support account at 5:45PM ET, “We are aware of a security incident impacting accounts on Twitter. We are investigating and taking steps to fix it. We will update everyone shortly.”

We are aware of a security incident impacting accounts on Twitter. We are investigating and taking steps to fix it. We will update everyone shortly.

— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 15, 2020

The company took the unprecedented measure of preventing verified accounts from tweeting at all starting sometime around 6PM ET. This would seem to be the first time Twitter has ever done this in the company’s history. Twitter updated its stance on limiting tweets at 7:18PM ET, writing, “We’re continuing to limit the ability to Tweet, reset your password, and some other account functionalities while we look into this. Thanks for your patience.” At 8:41PM ET, Twitter said “most” verified accounts should be able to tweet, adding, “As we continue working on a fix, this functionality may come and go.”

We’re continuing to limit the ability to Tweet, reset your password, and some other account functionalities while we look into this. Thanks for your patience.

— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 15, 2020

Most accounts should be able to Tweet again. As we continue working on a fix, this functionality may come and go. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.

— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) July 16, 2020

Late in the evening, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey wrote, “Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened. We’re diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened.” Product chief Kayvon Beykpour also released a public statement on his personal account, writing, “Our investigation into the security incident is still ongoing but we’ll be posting updates from @TwitterSupport with more detail soon. In the meantime I just wanted to say that I’m really sorry for the disruption and frustration this incident has caused our customers.”

Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened.

We’re diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened.

to our teammates working hard to make this right.

— jack (@jack) July 16, 2020

The chaos began when Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s Twitter account was seemingly compromised by a hacker intent on using it to run a bitcoin scam. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates’ account was also seemingly accessed by the same scammer, who posted a similar message with an identical bitcoin wallet address. Both accounts continued to post new tweets promoting the scam almost as fast as they were deleted, and Musk’s account in particular was still be under the control of the hacker as late as 5:56PM ET.

A spokesperson for Gates tells Recode’s Teddy Schleifer, “We can confirm that this tweet was not sent by Bill Gates. This appears to be part of a larger issue that Twitter is facing. Twitter is aware and working to restore the account.”

NEW — statement from a spokesperson for Bill Gates.

“We can confirm that this tweet was not sent by Bill Gates. This appears to be part of a larger issue that Twitter is facing. Twitter is aware and working to restore the account.” pic.twitter.com/v37Jvs76Jl

— Teddy Schleifer (@teddyschleifer) July 15, 2020

Shortly after the initial wave of tweets from Gates and Musk’s accounts, the accounts of Apple, Uber, former President Barack Obama, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, hip-hop mogul Kanye West, and former New York City mayor and billionaire Mike Bloomberg, among others, were also compromised and began promoting the scam.

It’s unclear how widespread the operation is, but it appears to have affected numerous major companies and extremely high-profile individuals. That suggests someone, or a group, has either found a severe security loophole in Twitter’s login or account recovery process or those of third-party app — or that the perpetrator has somehow gained access to a Twitter employee’s admin privileges. According to Motherboard, numerous underground hacking circles have been sharing screenshots of an internal Twitter administration tool allegedly used to take over the high-profile verified accounts. Twitter is now removing images of the screenshot from its platform and in some cases suspending users who continue to share it.

So far, Twitter has confirmed that employee tools were used in the hack, but not which ones or more than a theory as to how hackers might have gotten access.

http://www.theverge.com/

The origin of the scam can be traced to the moment when Musk’s account issued a mysterious tweet at 4:17PM ET reading, “I‘m feeling generous because of Covid-19. I’ll double any BTC payment sent to my BTC address for the next hour. Good luck, and stay safe out there!” The tweet also contained a bitcoin address, presumably one associated with the hacker’s crypto wallet.

The tweet was then deleted and replaced by another one more plainly laying out the fake promotion. “Feeling grateful doubling all payments sent to my BTC address! You send $1,000, I send back $2,000! Only doing this for the next 30 minutes,” it read before also getting deleted. The tweet posted to Gates’ account echoed the Musk tweets, with an identical BTC address attached. It was also deleted shortly after posting, only for a similar message to take its place a few minutes later.

Square’s Cash App appears to be one of the other rare company accounts compromised. However, it’s not clear if the culprit is the same or if this is some form of a coordinated scam on behalf of a group, as the tweet contained a different BTC address than the ones posted to the other accounts.

In addition to the Cash App, popular crypto Twitter accounts, including those of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss’ Gemini cryptocurrency exchange and widely used wallet app Coinbase, were also compromised. Cameron Winklevoss claims the Gemini account was protected by two-factor authentication and used a strong password, and the company is now investigating how it was hit.

ALL MAJOR CRYPTO TWITTER ACCOUNTS HAVE BEEN COMPROMISED.

2FA / strong password was used for @Gemini account. We are investigating and hope to have more information shortly. https://t.co/X3C0uJzc6C

— Cameron Winklevoss (@winklevoss) July 15, 2020

Some people apparently fell for the scam and sent money to the associated BTC address, as records of the transactions are public due to the nature of the blockchain-based cryptocurrency. So far, the scammer have amassed nearly $120,000, although it seems as if the account owner is indeed sending money back out as the daily final balance has fluctuated up and down throughout the afternoon.

Musk has long been the target of bitcoin scammers on Twitter, many of whom create fake accounts designed to look like the entrepreneur and respond to his tweets promoting the scams so that they appear legitimate. Twitter even went so far as to start locking some accounts that change their name to “Elon Musk,” and the company singled out cryptocurrency scammers in spring 2018 as a source of known manipulation and deception that it was aiming to root out through bans and other moderation strategies.

Update, 7:33PM ET: Added new details regarding the Twitter hack and the company’s response.

Update, 8:53PM ET: Added that Twitter restored verified accounts’ tweeting ability.

Update, 11:56PM ET: Added Twitter’s first attempt to explain what happened, including the confirmation that Twitter’s own internal tools were compromised.

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Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama presents Beyoncé with BET Humanitarian Award – New York Post

June 29, 2020 | 7:22am | Updated June 29, 2020 | 7:23am

Former first lady Michelle Obama honored Beyoncé at the 20th annual BET Awards ceremony Sunday night by presenting the singer and activist with the 2020 Humanitarian Award, according to a report.

“I am here to talk about The Queen, you know the one,” Obama said in a video presentation, USA Today reported.

“Ever since she was a little girl in Houston, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter has been lighting up the stages and gracing the world with her talent, with her generosity of spirit and with her love for her community,” she said.

“You can see it in everything she does. From her music that gives voice to black joy and black pain, to her activism that demands justice for Black Lives,” Obama continued.

“And no matter how big the stages get, I know my girl isn’t satisfied unless she’s sharing all that shine she has with the next generation.”

The presentation focused on the 38-year-old superstar’s work with the community, education efforts, low-income housing and providing support during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

After Obama’s tribute, Beyoncé’s mother Tina Knowles-Lawson said her daughter has always been “blessed to give back” to the community.

In a video, Beyoncé called the honor “beautiful” and dedicated it “to all of my brothers out there, all of my sisters out there inspiring me, marching and fighting for change.”

She added: “Your voices are being heard and you’re proving to our ancestors that their struggles were not in vain.”

Beyoncé during the 2src2src BET Awards.
Beyoncé during the 2020 BET AwardsGetty Images via Getty Images

Beyoncé ended her remarks by urging voter participation.

“I’m encouraging you to continue to take action, continue to work to change a racist and unequal system. We have to continue to do this together,” she said. “We have to vote like our life depends on it, because it does.”

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Obama helps Biden set fundraising record as he returns to presidential campaign trail – Fox News

With the help of his onetime boss, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden raised a record $11 million on Tuesday at a fundraiser co-hosted by former President Obama.

The haul at the grassroots fundraiser — $7.6 million from 175,000 grassroots supporters and the rest from top-dollar donors — breaks the former vice president‘s previous record, set earlier this month at a fundraiser co-hosted by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a one-time rival during the Democratic presidential primaries.

Biden and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) topped President Trump and the Republican National Committee (RNC) in May fundraising, but the GOP incumbent in the White House and the RNC still hold a large cash-on-hand advantage over the Democrat challenger and the DNC.

REUNITED: OBAMA TEAMS UP WITH BIDEN FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN

The Trump campaign noted that it hauled in $10 million around Saturday’s rally in Tulsa, Okla., the president’s first since the coronavirus pandemic swept across the country in March. And it brought in $14 million a week earlier – around Trump’s 74th birthday.

The former president told the roughly 120,000 people who dialed into the fundraiser that “there’s nobody that I trust more to be able to heal this country and get it back on track, than my dear friend Joe Biden.”

But spotlighting the stakes in November’s presidential election, he emphasized that “this is serious business” and stressed to supporters that “whatever you’ve done so far is not enough. And I hold myself and Michelle and my kids to the same standard.”

Painting a grim picture of a country facing the worst pandemic in a century and racial unrest, Obama argued that Biden — if elected — will inherit a tougher situation that when he entered the White House.

“Things were tough in 2008, 2009. We were going through the worst recessions since the great depression, a massive financial crisis we were still in the midst of two wars. We’re overcoming a decade in which the possibilities of common work and common purpose had been diminished and downgraded and government had been starved of resources that were needed to make us more equal and just and compassionate society,” Obama said. “And yet I have to say the foundation stones the institutions we had in place were still more or less intact.”

And pointing toward former President George W. Bush, Obama highlighted that “my predecessor who I disagreed with on a whole host of issues still had a basic regard for the rule of law and the importance of our institutions…There were shared ideals of human rights and rule of law.”

Obama argued that  Biden would take over the White House from a president who is undermining “the very foundations” of the country.

THE LATEST FROM FOX NEWS ON THE 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN

Taking aim at Trump without naming the president, Obama charged that his successor in the White House “suggests facts don’t matter, science doesn’t matter… suggests that a deadly disease is fake news. That sees the Justice Department as simply an extension and arm of the personal concerns of the president. That actively promotes division and considers some people in this country more real as Americans than others.”

But Obama also struck a positive note, saying that what makes him optimistic about the future “is the fact that there is a great awakening going on around the country, particularly among younger people, who are saying not only are they fed up with the shambolic, disorganized, mean-spirited approach to governance that we’ve seen over the last couple of years but, more than that, are eager to take on some of the core challenges that have been facing this country for centuries.”

After the former president and former vice president took questions from the audience, Obama jumped as Biden was wrapping up the event to say “Love you, Joe.”

“Love you too, pal,” Biden responded.

For Obama, the virtual event marked a return to the presidential campaign trail. It was the former president’s first event for Biden since endorsing his right-hand man in the White House for 8 years. Obama stayed neutral in the wide-open Democratic primary race, which at one point sported a roster of more than two dozen candidates. He gave his support to Biden in April after the former vice president’s final rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, suspended his campaign and endorsed Biden.

The joint fundraiser was expected to kick off a busy schedule for the former president busy scheduled heading into the fall on behalf of Biden and down-ballot Democrats.

A Democratic strategist familiar with Obama’s thinking told Fox News that “Tuesday’s grassroots fundraiser is a smart first campaign event for President Obama – helps direct resources to the campaign while reinforcing his deep-rooted messages core to his entire public life: the importance of the grassroots, building a movement, getting involved.”

The strategist — who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely — noted that in 2018 Obama “was the top requested surrogate in the country. His approval rating is 20 points higher than President Trump. And in 2020 there’s nobody better positioned to make the case for Joe Biden.”

While political strategists and pundits agree that an active Obama can only help Biden as well as down-ballot candidates this autumn, in the end, there’s only so much a surrogate can do. Then-President Obama aggressively stumped for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election, but the Democratic nominee came up short.

Meanwhile, the Trump campaign hit back at Biden over Obama’s help.

“The lure of President Barack Obama still can’t give the Biden campaign the level of unprecedented enthusiasm we see nightly from millions of President Trump’s supporters,” Trump campaign deputy press secretary Ken Farnaso said ahead of the event.

“President Trump built a historically strong economy once and he is doing it again. In contrast, the Obama/Biden dismal track record of record-slow economic recovery and high taxes devastated our economy and come November the American people will not put our country in the hands of that same failed leadership.”

Obama’s appearance at Tuesday’s fundraiser was about much more than setting a campaign cash record.

It comes as Biden’s continuing to reach out to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, as well as voters who backed Obama in 2008 and 2012 but voted for President Trump in 2016.

“Now that the primary season is over, President Obama can play the role of unifier-in-chief within the Democratic Party,” said Mo Elleithee, the founding executive director of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service and a Fox News contributor.

Elleithee, a senior spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign who later served as communications director for the Democratic National Committee, said that Obama’s also “an important voice during these tumultuous times. As polling shows that President Trump’s handling of the crises is sliding, President Obama can help make the case for Joe Biden’s very different approach.”

Strategic communications consultant Ben LaBolt, an Obama White House veteran who served as national press secretary for the president’s 2012 reelection campaign, emphasized that his former boss can do what no one else can do when it comes to helping Biden.

“Barack Obama is in a singular position to make the case about Joe Biden’s time in the executive branch,” LaBolt told Fox News. “President Obama appointed Joe Biden to lead the economic recovery the last time we were on the brink of a great depression, they worked together to rescue the auto industry, to provide health care coverage to millions of Americans, and to prevent Ebola from becoming a pandemic in the U.S.”

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