Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch hits balls before Game 6 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
David J. Phillip/AP
David J. Phillip/AP
The Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers face off in Game 6 of the World Series with the host team Angelenos needing to even the series at three games a piece.
If they don’t win tonight in Dodger Stadium, the home team will have to watch the Astros celebrating their franchise’s first World Series title.
The Astros took a 3-2 lead in the series after Sunday night’s five-hour-plus, extra-inning slugfest which featured a combined 25 runs, 28 hits and seven home runs, five by Houston. The Astros won 13-12 at home on walk-off RBI single by third baseman Alex Bregman off of the Dodgers ace reliever Kenley Jansen.
The dramatic victory was immediately compared with Houston’s equally exciting (for Astros fans) win in Game 2.
“Just when I thought I could describe Game 2 as my favorite game of all time, I think Game 5 exceeded that and more,” said Astros manager A.J. Hinch.
The starting pitchers tonight are Rich Hill for the Dodgers and Justin Verlander for the Astros. The same pair squared off in Game 2 with Hill striking out seven batters and giving up only three hits in four innings. Verlander pitched six innings, striking out five and surrendering only two hits — both home runs.
Can a puppy video get you to buy health insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges? Florida Blue, a major insurer in that state, hopes the answer is yes.
“It’s hard to resist puppies, right? Let’s just be honest,” says Penny Shaffer, the insurer’s South Florida regional market president, who talked to WLRN’s Sammy Mack. In the video, puppies tumble while the announcer pitches, in Spanish, affordable plans and personalized service.
According to a Commonwealth Fund analysis, Hispanics have seen the biggest increase in number of people insured of any ethnic group since the Affordable Care Act was passed. One zip code in the heart of Cuban Miami saw the most marketplace signups of any zip code in the country a couple of years ago. And market research shows that Latina women are very active video sharers.
Open enrollment for health insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchanges exchanges starts Wednesday. For anywhere from six weeks to a few months, depending on the state, people can buy plans on the individual markets for 2018.
But the Trump administration has cut the ACA advertising budget by 90 percent, as well as money to pay navigators, people who help customers pick a plan and enroll.
Diane Brown, executive director of the Arizona Public Interest Research Group, talks to college students about the benefits of buying health coverage on the exchanges.
So across the country, municipalities, insurers and grassroots organizations are working even harder to to get the word out that the ACA is still in place. That explains the puppies.
California also sees Latinos as a key group for outreach, reports KQED’s April Dembosky. The video strategy of Covered California, that state’s marketplace, is a little different, emphasizing how important insurance is for unexpected illness.
In Phoenix, Ariz., KJZZ’s Will Stone reports that the Arizona Public Interest Research Group is part of a grassroots coalition advertising open enrollment. They are hoping to get younger people to sign up, because younger people tend to be healthier and less expensive and insurance pools need them to help pay for older and sicker people.
But Diane Brown, who heads Arizona PIRG, says consumer confusion over health insurance, complicated enough to wade through on a good day, is exacerbated by the political wrangling over the ACA.
Pennsylvania’s insurance commissioner’s office is spending some of its department’s budget on education, including setting up its own online tool to help guide consumers through how to pick a plan, reports Elana Gordon from WHYY.
And in Tennessee, Blake Farmer of Nashville Public Radio says that even though the navigator budget was cut, it was cut only by 15 percent and the state found enough savings in other places to keep roughly the same numbers.
Moving along to Texas, KUT’s Ashley Lopez finds that in the bigger cities, local taxpayers are filling in the gap. Austin is spending a lot more money this year on outreach efforts. Michelle Tijerina works for Central Health, which provides health care for low-income people in Travis County and is funded by local property taxes.
“We will have ads on radio — English and Spanish. We will be on Facebook. We will have Google ads and banners. We will be out in the community, talking to schools,” Tijenera says.
Tijerina says Central Health is also hiring twice as many people this year to help folks sign up once enrollment starts.
This story is part of a reporting partnership with NPR, local member stations and Kaiser Health News.
Police secure the area in Lower Manhattan near where a vehicle drove onto a bicycle path Tuesday afternoon, killing “several people,” according to New York City police.
Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images
Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images
Updated at 5 p.m. ET
Several people were killed and “numerous” others injured Tuesday afternoon after a motorist drove onto a busy pedestrian and bicycle path in Manhattan. Police have arrested one suspect in the incident, which unfolded near the World Trade Center, and they say there are “no others outstanding.”
“The vehicle struck multiple people on the path. There are several fatalities and numerous people injured,” the New York Police Department said in a series of tweets.
“The vehicle continued south striking another vehicle. The suspect exited the vehicle displaying imitation firearms & was shot by NYPD.”
The vehicle continued south striking another vehicle. The suspect exited the vehicle displaying imitation firearms & was shot by NYPD
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) October 31, 2017
Both Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are visiting the scene. Their offices say the politicians have been briefed on preliminary details surrounding the incident.
The motive of the driver remains unclear.
Getting briefed on the situation in Lower Manhattan. The mayor and I will brief the press at 5:15 at One Police Plaza. pic.twitter.com/DhHO7VV8ne
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) October 31, 2017
One witness told member station WNYC that the vehicle — which the witness identified as a truck — collided with a bus and another vehicle.
“Tom Gay, a school photographer, was on Warren Street and heard people saying there was an accident. He went down to West Street and a woman came around the corner shouting, ‘He has a gun! He has a gun!’
“Gay said he stuck his head around the corner and saw a slender man in a blue track suit running southbound on West Street holding a gun. He said there was a heavyset man pursuing him.
“He said he heard five or six shots and the man in the tracksuit fell to the ground, gun still raised in the air. He said a man came over and kicked the gun out of his hand.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who added that chief of staff John Kelly has briefed President Trump on the situation.
This is a developing story. Some things that get reported by the media will later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.
Facebook, Twitter and Google testify Tuesday on Capitol Hill, and the companies are expected to tell senators that Russian interference efforts in the 2016 presidential election were broader than was originally thought.
Facebook, for example, plans to explain that as many as 126 million of its users may have seen content “that originated from the Russian operation.”
That’s according to the prepared remarks from Facebook’s general counsel, Colin Stretch, for Tuesday’s hearing before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism. NPR acquired the remarks prior to the hearing.
Previously, Facebook had disclosed that 10 million users may have been exposed to ads purchased by Russian operatives. But the company has not previously discussed how many people saw Russia-linked interference content shared organically through the site.
Twitter is also going to be telling the subcommittee that it has uncovered 2,752 Russia-linked accounts and more than 36,000 bots, according to The Washington Post. The accounts tweeted 1.4 million times about the election last fall, according to testimony acquired by the Post.
The companies will be represented by their top lawyers, who will also be on Capitol Hill Wednesday, testifying before both the Senate and House Intelligence Committees.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said connecting the world means bringing people together. But increasingly the platform is being used by some very powerful elements to sow divisions.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
In July 2016, the aftermath of a police shooting of an African-American man was broadcast live on Facebook. Instantly, Americans of all stripes used the platform to step up the race wars and attack each other. Across the world, in India this past summer, a post of a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad on Facebook sparked mob violence in which one person died.
And now, U.S. lawmakers are looking into Facebook’s culpability after evidence that Russia-linked operatives placed ads on its platform during the 2016 presidential election in an effort to disrupt democracy.
In whatever corner of the world Facebook is operating, it has become clear that people are using this powerful platform as a communications tool in ways that Mark Zuckerberg never envisioned. He started the company as a young Harvard undergrad 13 years ago to connect students. It expanded exponentially since then under his supremely techno-utopian vision of connecting the world.
For Zuckerberg, connecting the world means bringing people together. But increasingly the platform is being used by some very powerful elements to do the exact opposite: sow divisions. That’s led Facebook struggling almost every weekto offer explanations for misleading and divisive news on its platform.
It’s a huge blind spot for Zuckerberg, by his own acknowledgement. Indeed, he is fast coming to terms with the power of his platform to cause harm. Last November, Zuckerberg dismissed as “a pretty crazy idea” the notion that fake news influenced the U.S. presidential election.
But in the face of evidence, he shifted his stance. In September this year, he put up a post on his personal page saying he regretted calling it crazy: “This is too important an issue to be dismissive.” He followed that up with another post promising to do better: “For the ways my work was used to divide people rather than bring us together, I ask forgiveness and I will work to do better.” According to interviews with current and former employees and other technology leaders close to the company, the 33-year-old CEO is now struggling to course correct.
“When it was Harvard or just the Ivies, they had norms that worked,” says Tarleton Gillespie, a communications expert at Microsoft Research who is writing a book about harmful speech online titled Custodians of the Internet. But once everyone from moms breastfeeding their babies to white supremacists came in, he says, the system broke down. “Facebook was less prepared to make decisions about acceptable speech,” he says.
Couple that lack of preparedness with the desire to ramp up a company at unimaginable speed. Facebook has grown in the span of just 13 years from a handful of college students to over 2 billion monthly users; with advertising revenue close to $27 billion last year alone. Along the way, it has hooked legacy media too. Many news organizations depend on Facebook to drive traffic and a number of other outlets, including NPR, have paid partnerships with Facebook.
Call it ambition or naïveté. The company’s early mantra, “move fast and break things,” proved to be a winning approach to software development. Not so much to human relationships. It was a classic Silicon Valley case of product before purpose.
Facebook leaders now say that, perhaps by moving too quickly, they failed to anticipate all the ways in which people could abuse their platform. For a group of engineers focused on data and algorithms, it’s like the modern version of Frankenstein: they’ve created a monster whose powers they’re just beginning to understand.
To do it, the company will need to shift the focus of its metrics. People who’ve work at Facebook say that from Day 1, Zuckerberg has been fixated on measuring engagement: how much you like, click, share, up to what second you watch a video. In product meetings, current and former employees say, any suggestion to tweak News Feed — Facebook’s signature product — must include a deep analysis of how that would increase or decrease engagement. This dogged focus on metrics is also apparent from the company’s own blog posts and research.
But it’s the negative engagement — Russian operatives, trolls, hate groups — that the CEO and his leadership team has been far slower to register. Now the company is scrambling to figure out how to monitor and quantify the bad. It’s hiring more than 4,000 new employees to weed out fake accounts and violators.
One problem: A key data source the company has been relying on — users to report bad content — is chronically unreliable, according to people at Facebook who’ve had to analyze it. Users flag a lot of things that they shouldn’t. For instance, they can report a post as fake news because they disagree with it; others can say a business page is offensive when actually it’s just a competitor they want to take down. Facebook’s leaders have publicly said they stand behind this crowdsourcing approach. But, inside the company, people know this system just doesn’t work.
One Facebook employee tells NPR that recently, engineers in-house began to do random sampling of News Feed — to proactively look for violations (not just wait for users to flag content). “We’re trying,” the employee says. “But you can’t look for new bad behavior. It’s a hopeless exercise.” Meaning, you can only find violations that you know to look for. Prior to 2016, political interference in elections wasn’t even a category on the radar of the engineers leading these efforts.
There’s political pressure to clean up. This week the House and Senate are holding three hearings on election interference by the Russians, calling on Facebook, Twitter and Google representatives to testify.
There’s also a notable shift in the zeitgeist of Silicon Valley. In a recent interview with CNN, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams said “Facebook is filled with crap ads”; and that all the ad-driven platforms (Twitter included) are benefiting from fake information, “generating attention at pretty much any cost. That’s the most broken thing about the information economy we live in.”
Inside Facebook, there’s a deep conflict. On the one hand, employees who’ve spoken with NPR feel terribly that Facebook is a space for Russian operatives, hate speech and extremists. Engineers and product managers are racing to fix it, working overtime, reading history books on Russian propaganda techniques — just to try to wrap their minds around how the past is repeating itself, through new technologies.
At the same time, they’re indignant, believing they’ve created a beautiful, seamless technology that does more good than harm, and that Facebook engineers aren’t responsible for human nature.
What’s clear is that Facebook is trying to understand its own platform’s ability to cause harm. What’s unclear is: Can Facebook stop it?
An evangelical Christian writer and pastor says he’s been banned from the Liberty University campus for criticizing President Jerry Falwell, Jr., a longtime ally of President Donald Trump.
The writer, Jonathan Martin, said in a Twitter thread that he was on the campus of Liberty, a private Christian college in Lynchburg, Va., Monday night for a concert by the duo Johnnyswim when he was escorted away by armed campus police.
— Jonathan Martin (@theboyonthebike) October 31, 2017
Martin said he was photographed and told by Liberty police that he’d be “immediately arrested if I ever stepped foot on @LibertyU property again.” On Twitter and his blog, Martin has been a frequent critic of Falwell and Trump, particularly Falwell’s “alignment” with Steve Bannon and the movement known as the alt-right, which includes white nationalist and white supremacist groups.
In a lengthy statement, Liberty University said the university welcomes “peaceful debate,” and that Martin was removed because officials believed he intended to hold an unauthorized event on campus. The statement said he did not follow protocols for campus events, that such events require advance notice and authorization and that he was seeking publicity.
Earlier Monday evening, Martin had announced his intention to hold a prayer meeting the next morning on the Liberty campus.
This was evidently in response to my strong criticism of @JerryFallwellJr’s alignment not only with the darkest contours of Trumpism, but
— Jonathan Martin (@theboyonthebike) October 31, 2017
That statement followed multiple previous tweets in recent days, where Martin had talked about holding a “peaceful action” on campus to respond to Falwell. He said he had been “overwhelmed” by the interest.
— Jonathan Martin (@theboyonthebike) October 31, 2017
The statement from Liberty also expressed concerns about campus safety:
“Members of the Liberty University community are always welcome to engage in peaceful debate, intellectual inquiry and protest, but for public safety reasons, organized events by outside groups require advance notice and participating in the appropriate application process. Liberty University learned via social media of an attempt by Jonathan Martin to schedule an event on its private campus without any prior authorization or consultation. Mr. Martin is not a student, faculty member or employee of Liberty University. There are facility use protocols for those who are not members of the University community to schedule events on the campus. Those protocols take into account safety and security, as well as schedule conflicts and costs. Absent such pre-planning and authorization, an event promoted to the general public on social media has the potential to be a security risk. Given the late hour of the notice, the only effective way to prevent the unauthorized event from happening this morning was to issue a trespass warning to its organizer, Mr. Martin, last evening. This was done in a professional and matter of fact manner by Liberty University Police Department.
In light of the climate of protests associated with campuses across the country, Liberty University takes seriously its obligation to preserve and maintain campus safety and security. While University community members can freely make arrangements for their events, those who are not members of the University community have a higher burden to be granted access to Liberty University’s facilities for their private purposes. Even so, from time to time the University has made places available for outside groups to stage protests. Typically, however, those groups are directed off campus, especially where there are no tie-ins with a student organization or other member of the University community.
It may be possible that Jonathan Martin knew his unauthorized event would ultimately not be permitted to occur on the private property of Liberty University but he simply hoped to garner more attention to his cause by having his efforts stopped. So be it. The judgment was made that it was safer to stop the event before it started than to attempt to turn away an unknown number of people who traveled to Liberty’s campus. Either option likely gives Mr. Martin’s cause the publicity he apparently seeks. The University cannot be concerned with whether its actions provide additional oxygen to either side of a debate but rather must be concerned about safety and security of its campus.”
In an interview with NPR, Martin said he sees his removal from campus as a response to his criticism of Falwell. Martin said he met off campus with about 20 students on Tuesday morning, and is making plans to host an off-campus demonstration in the coming months.
“If the desire of the Falwell administration was to somehow quash me and my involvement with the students, this just backfired in a severe way,” Martin said. “Because to me it only underscores how urgent this work is, and how long-term it’s gonna be.”
Martin, who describes himself as an evangelical, said he believes Falwell is “uniquely complicit” in aligning evangelical Christianity with ideologies like white nationalism through his support for Trump and Bannon. He said he was particularly distressed by Trump’s equivocal response to the recent violence in Charlottesville, Va., during a neo-Nazi rally.
“It often feels to me like a whole new religion,” he said. “… It seems like with Falwell there’s no boundaries.”
Falwell was one of the first prominent evangelical leaders to support Trump’s candidacy during the 2016 Republican primary. He’s urged evangelicals to look beyond Trump’s history of multiple marriages and vulgar language – including a 2005 recording where he brags about touching women’s genitals without consent. In an interview with NPR in May, Falwell said no leader is without flaws.
“Because the ones that you think are so perfect and sinless, it’s just you don’t know about it,” Falwell said. “They’re all just as bad. We all are, and that’s the bottom line.”
Some Liberty students and alumni have followed Falwell’s lead; but others have complained about the university’s association with Trump, who has campaigned on campus and who delivered his first commencement speech as president there in 2017.
Falwell has said repeatedly that he supports Trump as an individual, and not on behalf of the university which his father founded and he now leads. But dissent can come at a cost; a prominent member of the university board of trustees, Mark DeMoss, resigned from the board last year after publicly disagreeing with Falwell’s endorsement.
In August, a group of Liberty alumni – including a former Student Government Association president – announced an effort to return diplomas to the institution in protest of Falwell’s continued support for Trump. In an interview with Fox News, Falwell dismissed the effort as “grandstanding.” The university released a statement expressing support for former students’ right to protest, adding, “let’s also remember that those same diplomas are quite helpful in helping these graduates secure well-paying jobs.”
Allegations of sexual misconduct against three Dartmouth College professors have resulted in a multi-agency criminal investigation, says New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald.
All of the professors — Todd Heatherton, Bill Kelley and Paul Whalen — work in Dartmouth’s psychological and brain sciences department. They’ve been put on paid leave and their access to campus is restricted, according to New Hampshire Public Radio.
“At this time, we have no basis to conclude that there is a threat to the general public,” the attorney general said on Tuesday, without providing details about the alleged crimes.
Initial reports of the allegations emerged last week, after The Dartmouth, the college’s student newspaper, asked school officials about the case. At the time, the college said the three were on leave “pending the conclusions of ongoing investigations into allegations of serious misconduct.”
After MacDonald’s office contacted Dartmouth, he says, “we have learned from the College that it has received allegations of sexual misconduct.”
According to NHPR, Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon said the school was conducting its own internal investigations.
Posting a message to the college’s community, Dartmouth President Philip Hanlon said that the school is cooperating with law enforcement even as it caries out its own investigation into the allegations.
“I want to say in the most emphatic way possible that sexual misconduct and harassment are unacceptable and have no place at Dartmouth,” Hanlon said.
A multi-agency investigation into the case is now under way, which MacDonald says includes both his office and the Grafton County attorney’s office, along with the New Hampshire State Police, the Grafton County Sheriff’s Office, and the Hanover Police Department.
“Because this is now a criminal investigation, we are constrained in providing further details at this time,” the attorney general said. We’ll note that MacDonald is a 1983 graduate of Dartmouth.
MacDonald’s press release about the case included contact information for investigators on the case, along with lists of services for anyone affected by sexual violence.
Catalonia’s deposed leader, Carles Puigdemont (center), speaks at a news conference in Brussels on Tuesday with other members of his dismissed government.
Aurore Belot/AFP/Getty Images
Aurore Belot/AFP/Getty Images
Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont says he and several of his fellow politicians might have fled Spain for Belgium, but they have no intention of seeking political asylum there.
Rather, he told a news conference in Brussels on Tuesday, they had “decided to err on the side of caution” by leaving the tumult in Catalonia days after the region formally declared independence and then saw Spain retaliate by taking over direct rule.
“I did this to avoid the threats that I was receiving,” Puigdemont told reporters through an interpreter. “The five ministers I’m with have no protection. We also wanted to avoid any confrontation that may possibly have occurred had we stayed in Barcelona.”
Spain’s attorney general, Jose Manuel Maza, announced Monday he plans to press charges of sedition, rebellion and embezzlement against Puigdemont and other members of the Catalan government, who were deposed by Madrid after declaring independence Friday. The charges carry a possible sentence of 30 years in prison.
The same day as the prosecutors’ announcement, a photo was posted on the separatist leader’s Instagram, apparently taken from his office — then hours later, it was revealed Puigdemont and several other Catalan politicians had fled Spain for Belgium.
A post shared by Carles Puigdemont (@carlespuigdemont) on Oct 29, 2017 at 11:39pm PDT
As NPR’s Lauren Frayer notes, the move did not sit particularly well with Spanish officials — or with some Catalan independence activists, either. In Lauren’s words, a Catalan schoolteacher named Laia Llobet told her that Puigdemont “just up and left at the most important moment”:
“She wants Puigdemont to come back and run in elections set for Dec. 21. Two civic leaders of the Catalan independence movement have already been arrested and charged with sedition — Llobet says it’s unfair for Puigdemont to leave them behind languishing in jail.”
Puigdemont asserted they fled not to pursue Belgian protection, but rather to “act with freedom and security.” Referring to the independence referendum on Oct. 1, when clashes broke out between Spanish police and Catalans attempting to go to the polls, Puigdemont said he had seen “what the reaction of the federal government was and how violent they were with our people.”
“I wanted to avoid this at all costs,” he added. “I wanted to avoid confrontation or any possible clashes.”
“Obviously we can’t avoid the rule of law. You have to abide by the law,” Puigdemont told reporters Tuesday. “And we won’t shy away from our responsibilities. But we do need guarantees” in order to return to Spain.
He also added that he would accept the results of those Dec. 21 elections called by the central Spanish government, under one important condition:
“I want a clear commitment from the state. Will the state respect the results that could give separatist forces a majority?”
Watch the full news conference:
Skepta performs with BBK during Boy Better Know Takeover in August 2017. The grime star drops his latest project ‘Vicious EP’ just in time for Halloween.
Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images
Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images
“Happy Halloween, you pagans.”
Skepta has surprised fans with the Vicious EP, just in time for Halloween. The project — independently released on Boy Better Know, the label he co-owns with his brother and fellow grime star Jme — popped up on streaming services today (Oct. 31).
The six-song EP houses Skeppy’s signature, bass-heavy bravado over menacing beats perfect for the ghoulish holiday; listen for samples of police sirens, crow squawks and ominous cemetery bell tolls throughout. This record also has features from A$AP Rocky, A$AP Nast, U.K. grime crew Section Boyz and, most astonishing of all, The Based God himself. That track, “Sit Down,” marks the first time Skepta and the Bay Area oddball Lil B, known for his marble-mouthed flow (a strong contrast to Skepta’s own quickened British clip), have collaborated.
The London-hailing grime vet has made it a sporadic tradition to drop new music on All Hallow’s Eve; back in 2014, Skepta dropped the viral loosie “It Ain’t Safe” featuring Young Lord and last year dropped verses on two new tracks, his own single “No Security” and a feature on Section Boyz’ “The Worst.” Vicious EP marks Skepta’s first solo release since his chart-topping and Mercury Prize-winning 2016 album Konnichiwa.
Grime has been trickling into the U.S. rap market since the early aughts — Dizzee Rascal‘s 2003 album Boy In Da Corner served as the genre’s first ambassador to most on this side of the pond — but the genre’s audience has grown more than ever thanks to some notable stateside co-signs. So far this year Skepta, arguably grime’s brightest star, was given his own track on Drake‘s More Life playlist, let off a crazy verse on A$AP Mob’s Cozy Tapes Vol. 2 and just recently got some love from the MOBO Awards, the European ceremony established to recognize black art on the continent, earning nominations in the categories of best male act and best grime act. His success has paved the way for other English acts like J Hus, Stormzy, Stefflon Don, AJ Tracey and more in the hip-hop/grime space. But if Vicious EP is a symbol for anything, it’s that Skepta’s still top of the food chain.