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All Things Considered (Weekend)

Jul 19, 2018 BY Bill Chappell

Zuckerberg Looks To 'Clear Up' Stance On Facebook, Fake News And The Holocaust

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg says, "I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn't intend to defend the intent of people who deny that."
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg says, "I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn't intend to defend the intent of people who deny that."

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is clarifying remarks he made about Holocaust deniers, saying he wasn't defending those people when he said it was hard to know their intentions. His initial remarks set off intense criticism earlier this week.

"I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn't intend to defend the intent of people who deny that," Zuckerberg wrote to Kara Swisher of Recode on Wednesday, the day after the site published a lengthy interview with the billionaire.

In the original interview, Swisher asked Zuckerberg about Facebook's policy of taking down fake news – something it's taken a variety of approaches to combating, after fake news sources were found to have been used to manipulate voters in the 2016 presidential election.

Swisher used the Sandy Hook school massacre as an example, asking Zuckerberg why Facebook would allow an organization to post a conspiracy theory that holds the killings were all staged.

After implying that Facebook would be quicker to take down harassment directed at a Sandy Hook victim rather than removing a fake news story promoting the conspiracy theory, Zuckerberg offered up the example of the Holocaust.

"I'm Jewish, and there's a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened," he said.

"I find that deeply offensive," Zuckerberg continued. "But at the end of the day, I don't believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don't think that they're intentionally getting it wrong, but I think..."

Seeming to view the question as primarily one of free speech, the Facebook founder said, "I just don't think that it is the right thing to say, "We're going to take someone off the platform if they get things wrong, even multiple times."

He mentioned the potential that some people who are speaking in a public forum can simply get things wrong. But his critics said denying the Holocaust was much more dangerous and problematic — and that Zuckerberg's suggestion that some of those denials weren't made to mislead people were astounding.

"This is bonkers!" wrote Cale Weissman of Fast Company, after using profanity ("holy ****") to breech the subject.

"This position is so bizarre, it's hard to know where to begin," writes Yair Rosenberg in The Atlantic.

The Anti-Defamation League said that Facebook has "an obligation not to publish" falsehoods about the Holocaust.

In the interview, Zuckerberg said that rather than taking a fake news or conspiracy post down or barring the user, the company would seek to minimize it.

"Our goal with fake news is not to prevent anyone from saying something untrue — but to stop fake news and misinformation spreading across our services," Zuckerberg said. "If something is spreading and is rated false by fact checkers, it would lose the vast majority of its distribution in News Feed."

Facebook would take a harder line, Zuckerberg said, if anyone published calls to violence or tried to organize any type of attacks.

In his clarifying email to Swisher, he concluded, "I believe that often the best way to fight offensive bad speech is with good speech."

The heated discussion over Zuckerberg's remarks is the latest in a string of debates over whether Facebook is simply a technological platform, or if it should best be seen – and see itself – as a media outlet. That question has grown more complicated as the tech giant spends more to attract and create programming.

In recent months, Facebook reached deals with journalists such as CNN's Anderson Cooper and Fox News' Shep Smith, who are creating shows specifically for the platform. Other news organizations are also involved in the deal, which is meant to draw viewers to Facebook's Watch video section.

Over the past week, Facebook's policies have also been called into question for how it handles news organizations – including their use of ads to boost their most high-profile projects.

People at two news outlets – KPBS and the Texas Tribune — have complained that Facebook nixed ads because they were deemed to be political. In the Tribune case, an ad asked young people what issues they care the most about, ahead of the November election. At KPBS, an attempt to promote a story about migrant children appearing in court without their parents was barred.

Replying to complaints about the KPBS decision, Facebook's Product Director Rob Leathern said that the issue "applies only to running ads on the platform, and is fixable by completing the authorization process."

Leathern added, "If you are running ads in the U.S. about electoral or political issues you will need to go through the authorizations process. This includes news organizations - who are designated separately in the ad archive where these ads are retained publicly."

The same standards apply to all advertisers, he said in another tweet. That and other tweets were post in response to a posting by Jean Guerrero, who wrote the investigative piece for KPBS. The piece, she said, was effectively being censored by Facebook.

In a separate thread centering on the Texas Tribune's attempt to place an ad, the magazine's Chief Audience Officer Amanda Zamora questioned why the ad was scrutinized so closely, when "materially false and harmful" information passes through Facebook's newsfeed.

"Too bad efforts to engage readers in our journalism needs to be verified, when so much garbage fills my feed," Zamora wrote.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Jul 19, 2018 BY Gustavo Arellano

Carne Asada, Hold The Meat: Why Latinos Are Embracing Vegan-Mexican Cuisine

Pesto and pulled jackfruit tacos. In Southern California, working-class Mexican-American chefs are giving traditionally meaty dishes a vegan spin.
Pesto and pulled jackfruit tacos. In Southern California, working-class Mexican-American chefs are giving traditionally meaty dishes a vegan spin.

Tall, dreadlocked Josh Scheper knew he was out of place as he surveyed the scene at a Santa Ana, Calif., parking lot on a Sunday morning this past April. And the 46-year-old loved it.

Hundreds of people waited in line at stalls for vegan food, but few people looked like the Los Angeles resident. Nearly everyone in the crowd was young and Latino, as were the chefs. The food on sale was Mexican — but not hippie-dippy cafe standbys like cauliflower tacos, or tempeh-stuffed burritos. Instead, chefs reimagined meaty classics that were honest-to-goodness bueno.

Vegatinos offered jackfruit tacos, the fruit cooked so that it tasted like al pastor, the spiced pork-on-a-spit tradition from central Mexico. Vegan by Victoria's, the host of the event, hawked dairy-free Mexican and Salvadoran pan dulce (sweet bread). Another stall blasted ranchera music as a stern-looking millennial wearing a Los Angeles Dodgers hat and a Pendleton jacket ladled vegan pozole (hominy stew usually prepared with pork) into big bowls while he sung its praises to a customer.

Scheper stared in awe at it all. "[I'm] happy to not have white hipster vegans run all the vegan stuff," he finally said, tongue only somewhat in cheek.

Vegan Latino cuisine has received some mainstream attention this decade, from New York City (where Erick Castro shares his Puerto Rican creations on Instagram at How to Be Vegan in the Hood) to Colombian-American cookbook author Carolyn Scott-Hamilton in Miami.

But over the past year, pop-up festivals organized around Vegan-Mex vendors in Southern California have become a local sensation. They usually occur in working-class Latino suburbs like Santa Ana, Ontario, Highland Park, and Whittier. Full-time vegans – or white ones, for that matter — are a minority at these events. The majority of customers are young Mexican-Americans who heard about the pop-ups on social media, or through word-of-mouth best summed up the following way: No, seriously, it's good! And it tastes like the real thing!

The movement's hype is such that vegan caterer La Venganza won L.A. Taco's annual Taco Madness competition for best taco in Southern California, beating far-more-established (and non-vegan) competitors. It's a victory that chef-owner Raul Medina quickly downplays.

"I didn't win," he said. "Veganism did."

The fast-talking, wise-cracking 34-year-old Medina is typical of a new generation of Vegan-Mex chefs: He simultaneously rejects and embraces the meatier side of Mexican food. Medina uses everything from jackfruit to the hardened skim of soy milk to tackle taco classics like carne asada, chicken, and even tripitas — beef tripe.

Medina says a white vegan customer "once came up and asked, 'Why would you veganize tripitas?' " he said with a laugh. "Because it's culturally nostalgic working-class food. You can't just dismiss that."

Medina started La Venganza three years ago in Oakland, while working as a paralegal for an immigration attorney. "I wanted to find a good vegan taco de carnitas," he said, "and I couldn't find an affordable one. They were only at affluent vegan hipster spots."

He took inspiration from vegan traditions in the East Bay's communities of color, specifically Buddhist temples and Souley Vegan, a famous soul food spot. And he also thought about his father, who was dying of complications from diabetes.

"Everyone has a dad like that," Medina said, a reference to the fact that U.S. Latinos and African-Americans are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than whites. There are many factors behind these health disparities, including limited access to stores that sell fresh, healthy foods in lower-income Latino and African-American communities. Health concerns are one reason why veganism is growing in popularity among African-Americans today. "Blacks .... already had a solution for food deserts," Medina said. "It's called veganism."

Medina moved down to Southern California last year after his father died and decided to keep La Venganza catering going in memory of his papi. He offers tacos every Tuesday at Mission Bar in Santa Ana; on a recent evening, the line was nearly out the door. Working with pre-cooked ingredients and a hot plate to heat tortillas, Medina cranked out tacos almost as fast as he got orders.

"Limes, bro, you forgot the limes!" he cracked at an Asian-American customer who had quickly run off with chorizo tacos made from granulated beets. "It's the worst, nastiest, saltiest, oiliest meat you can find," Medina said of the traditional pork sausage. "Why not make it vegan? Why are we just giving up that [vegan] market to rich people? We need to take back our ingredients and meals, and make it available to people of color."

There are no hard numbers on how many Mexican-Americans are vegan, but this way of eating isn't so far off from what their ancestors ate in pre-Columbian times. Before the Conquest, most of Mexico's indigenous natives followed a plant-based diet. Beef, pork, chicken, lamb and goat — the mainstay meats of modern-day Mexican food — all came with the Spaniards.

"Many of our dishes are vegan by nature," says Loreta Ruiz, who runs La Vegana Mexicana with her two college-age children, Loreta and Luis Sierra. "But just the word 'vegan' scares [Mexican] people. It's like, 'Our food is so rich and so beautiful, why are you going to alter it?'"

La Vegana specializes in tamales, using a lard-free masa (cornmeal) that Ruiz said took two years to perfect so that her tamales are properly fluffy and moist. She and her children do stage pop-up food tents at community festivals, but their focus is on trying to break into restaurants and supermarkets.

Ruiz grew up in Mexico City with a father who was vegan "before it was a thing." But she didn't give veganism a try until her daughter, Loreta, was 8. "Even at that age," Ruiz said, "she was questioning about why we needed to drink milk, or why we needed to kill animals."

The family tried to go vegan to support the young Loreta but found that a lot of the vegan food at the time was processed "and didn't even taste good." So Ruiz experimented in her kitchen until friends suggested she sell food to the public. Her job with the Mexican consulate kept her busy, but she finally decided to debut La Vegana last year at a Dia de los Muertos event. The family sold tamales so fast that they couldn't thaw them out quick enough. But customers didn't seem to care – drawn perhaps by the novelty at first, they stayed around for the flavor, Ruiz says.

"I was amazed at how many people wanted to try our tamales," Ruiz said. "One guy came back seven times through the night, because he wanted to try them all!"

Ruiz's daughter, Loreta Sierra, isn't surprised that Latinos of her generation seem more open to going vegan. (A young Salvadoran chef in Los Angeles veganized over 40 of her country's meals). "Our generation overall is more concerned about environmentalism and environmental racism — the future of our planet," says the 22-year-old, who is currently an undergraduate at the University of California, Los Angeles. "If we want to have a habitable planet, we need to start being more proactive in what we consume."

Her brother, Luis Sierra, still encounters heavy skepticism from other Mexican-Americans about his Vegan-Mex lifestyle, but he takes it in stride.

"Guys on my crew, they make fun of me all the time," says the 19-year-old, who volunteers for the Los Angeles Fire Department. "'Oh, yeah, that's why you're so skinny!' But then I give them one of my mom's tamales, and they change their mind right away."

Gustavo Arellano is the author of Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, and a longtime guest on NPR's "Barbershop" segment on Weekend All Things Considered.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Jul 19, 2018 BY Philip Ewing

Washington To Trump: Don't Grant Russian Access To Americans

Then-U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul left the Foreign Ministry in Moscow in 2013.
Then-U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul left the Foreign Ministry in Moscow in 2013.

Much of official Washington urged President Trump on Thursday to reject the idea that Russian investigators might interview a former American diplomat or others following a request from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Senate is set to vote on a measure condemning that idea and individual lawmakers and others spoke out on their own.

The former ambassador, Michael McFaul, says Putin is obsessed with an imaginary scheme to undermine the Russian government that McFaul supposedly conducted from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, and McFaul is worried that Trump entertained setting this whole story into motion.

Granting any credibility to the scheme means the White House is "playing into Russia's hands," as Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told reporters on Thursday.

Corker said that although the president has wide discretion to conduct foreign affairs, he might have gone too far in Helsinki and that he wants to question Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the summit at a hearing next week.

"The president does have the ability to meet with anybody he wishes," Corker said. "I think this one, especially the presentation that was made at the end, was disconcerting to most Americans and certainly was to me," Corker said.

"We're going to have Pompeo come in next week, and I think we'll be much better informed when that is over, as to what the intentions are, where they're trying to take this relationship, was there anything that was agreed to privately in those meetings."

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., wrote on Twitter that he thought the White House must "publicly and unequivocally rule it out."

And former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also weighed in on McFaul's behalf, calling him a "patriot ... To see the White House even hesitate to defend a diplomat is deeply troubling."

The prospect that the United States might grant access to McFaul, in exchange for American investigators talking with Russians linked to cyberattacks, is viewed as unlikely.

But Trump called it an "incredible offer" on Monday in his press conference with Putin in Helsinki, and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders seemed to suggest Wednesday that the administration was evaluating it.

Critics want the White House to close the door completely and make clear there is no scenario in which a former American official could get caught up in some kind of bilateral exchange of this kind.

One issue for administration officials, however, appears to be how receptive Trump has remained to the idea.

"The president is going to meet with his team, and we'll let you know when we have an announcement on that," as Sanders told reporters Wednesday.

Another issue is that this idea is so novel that, so long as it hasn't been officially ruled out from the highest level, no one seems to be sure how it might practically work.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Wednesday that although Putin's charges against McFaul and other Americans are "absolutely absurd," she was not prepared to speak on behalf of Foggy Bottom and say that her agency opposed the idea of some kind of handover.

"I believe some of this would fall under the Department of Justice, so I'd have to loop in the Department of Justice on this," she said. "This is something that just came out."

NPR correspondents Deirdre Walsh and Miles Parks contributed to this report.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Jul 19, 2018 BY Bob Boilen

Ólafur Arnalds: Tiny Desk Concert

Ólafur Arnalds performs a Tiny Desk Concert on July 3, 2018 (Eric Lee/NPR).
Ólafur Arnalds performs a Tiny Desk Concert on July 3, 2018 (Eric Lee/NPR).

It's as if the pianos were haunted. Somewhere about midway through this Tiny Desk, as Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds performed on his electronic keyboard, two upright pianos were playing lilting melodies behind him, absent any performer at the keys. And yet these "ghosts," along with Ólafur's band of strings and percussion, put together some of the most beautiful music I've heard at the Tiny Desk, made all the more mysterious through its presentation.

About ten minutes into the performance Ólafur looked behind him at the two pianos, looked to the NPR crowd and said, "well I guess you're all wondering 'what and why,' to which there's no easy answer." He hit the keys on his electronic keyboard and the two pianos behind responded with cascading, raindrop-like notes. "What I can say," he continued, "is that I've spent two years and all of my money on this — to make my pianos go bleep-bloop." What Ólafur was referring to is software that he and his coder friend, Halldór Eldjárn developed. A computer, loaded with this musical software (which Ólafur calls the Stratus system), "listens" to Ólafur's keyboard performance and responds by creating patterns that are musically in tune with the chord or notes Ólafur performed.

So why do this? Basically, it's a way to break out of the box musicians often fall back on as performers — the familiar responses that years of playing can reinforce. With that is the hope that the computer will create a response that is unfamiliar and, in some cases through speed of performance and the sheer number of notes played, impossible for a human to have made. So, it breathes new life into the music for the listener and the performer.

It was a gently stunning and memorable Tiny Desk. More of these creations can be heard on Ólafur Arnalds' brilliant, fourth solo album re: member. The full album is out August 24 on Mercury KX.

Set List

  • "Árbakkinn"
  • "Unfold"
  • "Saman"
  • "Doria"


Ólafur Arnalds (keys), Viktor Arnason (violin), Unnur Jónsdóttir (cello), Katie Hyun (violin), Karl James Pestka (viola), Manu Delago (percussion)


Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineers: Josh Rogosin, Dominik Piorr; Audio Mix: Ólafur Arnalds; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, CJ Riculan, Bronson Arcuri, Khun Minn Ohn; Production Assistants: Catherine Zhang, Téa Mottolese; Photo: Eric Lee/NPR.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Jul 19, 2018

Trevor Noah World Cup Remarks Prompt Critical Response From French Ambassador

After France won the World Cup over Croatia on Sunday, Trevor Noah of “The Daily Show” joked: “Africa won the World Cup.” He added that he knew the team was French, but that “you don’t get that tan hanging out in the south of France.” That brought a sharply critical letter from the French ambassador to the U.S.

Here & Now‘s Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson discuss with sports analyst Mike Pesca (@pescami), host of the daily podcast “The Gist” and editor of the book “Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History.”

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Jul 19, 2018

Former Energy Secretary Moniz On U.S.-Russia Nuclear Dialogue

Russian President Vladimir Putin called his first summit with President Trump a success, but warned Thursday that Trump’s opponents in the U.S. are hampering any progress on what they discussed, such as limiting their nuclear arsenals.

Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson speaks with former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz (@ErnestMoniz), co-chair of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, about the Trump-Putin summit and what it could mean for nuclear dialogue.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Jul 19, 2018

Montenegro Becomes Latest NATO-Trump Flashpoint

President Trump during a Fox News interview this week appeared to question the need to defend NATO ally Montenegro against aggressors such as Russia.

Here & Now‘s Robin Young discusses with Nina Jankowicz (@wiczipedia), global fellow at the Wilson Center.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Jul 19, 2018

Translation Technology Is Getting Better. What Does That Mean For The Future?


Tools and apps like Google Translate are getting better and better at translating one language into another.

Alexander Waibel, professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University’s Language Technologies Institute (@LTIatCMU), tells Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson how translation technology works, where there’s still room to improve and what could be in store in the decades to come.

  • Got a question about learning or speaking a different language? Let us know.
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Jul 19, 2018 BY David Folkenflik

Disney Prevails In Hunt For Fox As Comcast Drops Bid

Comcast withdrew from the bidding for 21st Century Fox, leaving the Walt Disney Co. as the victor.
Comcast withdrew from the bidding for 21st Century Fox, leaving the Walt Disney Co. as the victor.

It has been an epic clash of media titans worthy of a blockbuster movie itself like, say, the X-Men — notably a property of 21st Century Fox. And as with any blockbuster franchise, there are already sequels lined up.

The broadband, cable and entertainment giant Comcast announced Thursday that it would withdraw from the field, conceding defeat in its audacious bidding war for most of the entertainment assets of Fox, controlled by the Murdoch family.

That leaves the entertainment behemoth Walt Disney Co. as the victor, a status expected to be ratified by Fox shareholders on July 27.

The victory arrived at a steeper cost: Disney raised its bid from an initial $52 billion in an all-stock deal to $71 billion, which includes cash. Though Rupert Murdoch and his sons were allied with Disney Chairman Robert Iger in pursuing a deal, they stand to make far more money this way.

The acquisition is to include Fox's movie and television studios, its cable properties such as FX and the National Geographic Channel, and its 39 percent stake in the British based satellite TV service and producer Sky. It would not include Fox News, the Fox broadcast network, the local TV stations it owns, or its sports networks. Those would be spun off into a new company controlled by the Murdoch family and led by Rupert Murdoch and his elder son, Lachlan.

"I'd like to congratulate Bob Iger and the team at Disney and commend the Murdoch family and Fox for creating such a desirable and respected company," Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said in a statement released Thursday.

The decision to sell most of Fox was driven by Rupert Murdoch's growing conviction that his entertainment empire was to be swamped by fare from streaming giants Netflix and Amazon, which are committing growing billions of dollars for fresh video content each year. Apple is expected to join their ranks.

Iger's ambitions for expansion are sparked by the same fears. He intends for Disney to remain as one of the few Hollywood giants left standing to compete with their digital competitors. As Disney already owns the ABC Television Network, ABC News and a cluster of major ABC-affiliated stations, the acquisition did not include the comparable holdings of Fox. Similarly, Disney's ownership of ESPN precluded the purchase of Fox's sports holdings, which include two national channels and many popular regional sports channels.

A top U.S. Justice Department official, Makan Delrahim, praised the deal as being carefully sculpted to avoid antitrust concerns, signaling federal regulators were unlikely to block it. That stance is all the more notable given his continued efforts to kill on antitrust grounds the AT&T acquisition of Time Warner, a combination of a telecoms giant and an entertainment powerhouse that have little overlapping commerce. The Justice Department is appealing a judge's ruling that swept aside all objections to the AT&T/Time Warner merger.

One key difference: President Trump has repeatedly expressed his contempt for CNN, newly acquired by AT&T, and had said on the campaign trail in 2016 he intended to prevent the deal from taking place. By contrast, Trump and Rupert Murdoch confer regularly by phone, with Murdoch offering counsel in their talks and his Fox News' most popular shows offering cheerleading coverage.

Even as the battle over 21st Century Fox appear to have abated, battles continue abroad, in Comcast vs. Disney 2.

Iger and Disney have coveted Fox's path into international markets. Sky has major offerings, not just in the U.K. but in Germany, Italy, Austria, Spain and Ireland. 21st Century Fox and the Murdochs own a controlling 39 percent of Sky. Rupert Murdoch founded its predecessor company in the 1980s and sold off a majority of the ownership to address debts.

For nearly a decade, the Murdochs have sought to buy the rest of the company back, only to be tripped up by scandals at their British tabloids in 2011 and slowed down once more over the past year by the sexual harassment scandals and Seth Rich coverage of Fox News, among other incidents. Once Disney moved to buy Fox, Sky would be part of the deal.

British regulators required Murdochs to sell off the respected Sky News service if they were to win full control of Sky, and to agree to pay to keep it fully funded for at least the next 15 years. Only in recent weeks has the U.K. government formally signed off on the acquisition.

But Brian Roberts and Comcast have been competing against Fox for the remaining 61 percent of Sky, driving up the value of the deal so far to $32 billion. That also holds the prospect of boosting the cost of the overall Fox deal to Disney, as it intends to buy up all of Sky if the Murdochs prevail. Many market analysts have concluded Comcast and Disney may reach a truce without even exchanging a word in private, carving up Fox's domestic holdings for Disney and allowing Comcast to take control of a majority of Sky's assets.

But Fox is now serving as a stalking horse for Disney's interest in Sky. And asked Thursday morning if the Comcast announcement in any way diminished Fox's appetite for Sky, a Murdoch spokesman emailed to NPR a one-word response: "Nope."

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Jul 19, 2018

Getting Plastics Off The Beach

Earlier this week Starbucks announced it will phase out the use of plastic straws by 2020. A few days later American Airlines joined the bandwagon of businesses and communities trying to do something about plastic waste by instituting bans and fees on items to cut down on littering and the use of single-use plastics.

One town on the Jersey shore took its ban a little further than others — now it just has to get everybody on board. Joe Hernandez (@byJoeHernandez) from WHYY reports.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Jul 19, 2018

3 Days After Trump-Putin Summit, White House Remains In Damage Control


In an interview with CBS News on Wednesday night, Trump insisted he firmly warned Russian President Vladimir Putin in a face-to-face meeting Monday that Russian election interference was unacceptable. Trump appeared to cast doubts that interference efforts were ongoing when asked about it during Monday’s joint press conference with Putin.

NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson (@MaraLiasson) joins Here & Now‘s Robin Young to discuss the political consequences for Trump and the Republican Party.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Jul 19, 2018 BY Laura Sydell

Immigrant Rights Group Turns Down $250,000 From Tech Firm Over Ties To Border Patrol

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has been under mounting pressure for the company's contract with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has been under mounting pressure for the company's contract with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

A Texas nonprofit that works with families separated at the border has turned down a $250,000 contribution from Salesforce, a company under pressure for its work creating software for the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is known for his support of progressive policies and liberal views on many social issues. But his company has been under pressure to dump the contract by tech workers who are critical of the Trump administration's policies on immigration.

The head of RAICES, which stands for the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, said the group won't take contributions from Salesforce. The group does not want to be a part of a maneuver that aims to calm critics of Salesforce's contract with CPB.

"We stand for justice and justice is not for sale," said RAICES Executive Director Jonathan Ryan. He said Salesforce is making millions from its government contact. "Our fundamental mission is to protect immigrants and refugees and to promote their rights — not be part of some kind of hand-washing operation for a corporation," he said.

Salesforce has been facing mounting pressure over its contract with the CBP.

Some 650 Salesforce employees sent a petition last month to Benioff asking him to end the company's contract with the agency.

(Salesforce is an NPR financial supporter.)

Last week, community groups joined with the advocacy group Tech Workers Coalition and protested outside the Salesforce Tower in downtown San Francisco. The coalition is made up of tech employees who say they are concerned about the misuse of the technology they create. Stephanie Parker, who is with the coalition, said members of the group were excited to learn about RAICES turning down Salesforce's contribution.

"It's a great feeling to have an organization that's doing such amazing work directly on the issue of family separation and border detention" to join the protest against Salesforce, she said.

Benioff has said he considers the separation of families at the border wrong.

When asked about RAICES' refusal of the money, a Salesforce spokesperson pointed to the same tweets Benioff sent out in response to the workers' petition. It was in those tweets that the CEO announced that the company was donating $1 million to organizations that help families at the border.

The $250,000 that RAICES turned down was part of that $1 million. Benioff also said the company would match employee donations to increase the charitable giving. Benioff also defends the company by saying Salesforce doesn't work "with CBP regarding separation of families."

But Ryan, the RAICES director, said Benioff is overlooking the bigger picture.

"Salesforce software provides the operational backbone for the agency," Ryan said. "Thus, it does directly support CBP in implementing its inhumane and immoral policies with the software they provide."

Ryan says his group would accept Salesforce's contribution if the company dropped the CBP contract.

Tech companies have been facing increasing criticism about the use of powerful products. Google ended a contract with the Pentagon to make software to improve drone performance after employees protested. Amazon is facing growing criticism from its workers over its sale of facial recognition technology to law enforcement. Employees fear it can be easily be misused to abuse individual civil rights. Hundreds of Microsoft workers signed a petition calling on the company to stop working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. This week, a group of tech leaders pledged they would never work on artificial intelligence for autonomous weapons.

Ryan said it's difficult to turn down money. "With $250,000, we could hire several attorneys for a year or more to continue our work," he said.

But RAICES may have a little extra cushion this year. It was also the beneficiary of a lot support from two tech workers who set up a fundraising campaign on Facebook. Initially, the goal was $1,500. In the end, they raised more than $20 million.

The timing for this fundraising is key. A lot of immigrant rights groups, including RAICES, rely on financial backing from the federal government. Ryan said he fears that the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy toward immigrants, that source of funding may soon dry up.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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