Secret Service reportedly had to use Obama’s bathroom after being barred from Ivanka Trump’s

Facebook is evidently now looking to minimize politics on its platform, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the company hopes to “turn down the temperature.”

Zuckerberg during an earnings call Wednesday announced Facebook will stop recommending political and civic groups to users, which he described as a “continuation of work we’ve been doing for a while to turn down the temperature and discourage divisive conversations,” Politico reports.

The social media company has long faced criticism over the amount of misinformation and polarization on its platform, with its recommendations being a frequent target of these complaints. Facebook previously said it would be putting these recommendations on pause in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election, Politico notes. Additionally, Zuckerberg said Wednesday the company plans to take action to reduce the amount of politics in users’ news feeds, Axios reports, but he didn’t offer any further information on that effort.

“There has been a trend across society that a lot of things have become politicized and politics have had a way of creeping into everything,” Zuckerberg said. “A lot of the feedback we see from our community is that people don’t want that in their experience.”

Zuckerberg added that if users do want to discuss politics or join political groups, “they should be able to,” but “we are not serving community well to be recommending that content right now.”

The company by looking to “downplay politics” on the platform was “backing away from arguments it’s long made that political speech is vital to free expression,” Axios wrote. The decision came after various companies have taken steps to either ban political ads or limit them in certain situations, not to mention after numerous platforms suspended former President Donald Trump, leading Axios to conclude, “The social platforms that profited massively on politics and free speech suddenly want a way out — or at least a way to hide until the heat cools.” Brendan Morrow

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White House reportedly wonders about meds affecting Trump’s behavior

When Donald Trump announced yesterday afternoon that he was ending all negotiations on an economic aid package, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) happened to be leading a conference call with her Democratic conference. Alerting House members to the presidential declaration, Pelosi voiced concerns about whether his medications were affecting his judgment.

Evidently, the Speaker isn’t the only one raising the question. The New York Times reported overnight:

Some White House staff members wondered whether Mr. Trump’s behavior was spurred by a cocktail of drugs he has been taking to treat the coronavirus, including dexamethasone, a steroid that can cause mood swings and can give a false level of energy and a sense of euphoria.

It was against this backdrop that Rachel spoke on the show last night with Dr. Robert Wachter, the chair of the department of medicine at UC San Francisco, who explained that the medication the president is on can cause mood swings — as can COVID itself, especially among the elderly.

“For a 74-year-old man to have COVID, symptomatic COVID, low blood oxygen, which can alter your thinking, and be on dexamethasone raises the possibility that his thinking is altered, his judgment is altered from the medications,” Wachter said. “And part of the problem is if he is one responsible for figuring out whether he’s capable of thinking clearly, that’s not a good plan.”

The physician added, “I would say of the hundreds and hundreds of patients I’ve taken care who have altered thinking, it’s not at all infrequent that they have no idea. It’s one of these things that happens. They lose insight. They are unable to tell they have a problem. It’s the folks around them that can tell that. I can’t say for sure that there’s a problem here, but it certainly is possible given the medications, the low blood oxygen and the infections itself.”

But in the same interview, Wachter conceded that part of the challenge in the diagnosis is having a sense of a patient’s “baseline personality,” which can serve as the basis for a comparison to determine whether he or she is acting erratically. And that’s the point I find myself stuck on as it relates to Trump.

To be sure, yesterday was a head-spinning day for those watching the president. He appeared to be acting recklessly, tweeting strange messages at a manic pace, and making policy pronouncements that were counter to his own interests. Given his behavior, it was hardly surprising that some, including White House officials, started wondering about Trump’s health and the effects of his ailment and treatments.

But all of this comes with a caveat: we’ve confronted similar questions about Trump’s erraticism last week, last month, and last year. And the year before that. And the year before that.

What does it say about a president when people struggle to tell the difference between his usual persona and the one he displays while on potentially mood-altering medications?

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White House Reportedly Overruled CDC’s Attempt to Extend ‘No-sail Order’ Into 2021

The White House blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s attempt to extend its “No-Sail Order” on cruise ships in U.S. waters until next year, according to reports.



a large ship in the water: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images


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Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The order, which prevents “cruise ships with the capacity to carry at least 250 passengers in waters subject to U.S. jurisdiction” from sailing, has been in effect since March, and extended multiple times, was set to expire on Thursday. While Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, pushed to once again extend it until February 2021, he was overruled, Axios first reported, citing a conversation in the White House Situation Room.



a large ship in the water: The CDC intended to push the order to February of next year.


© Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
The CDC intended to push the order to February of next year.

Instead, per Axios, the Trump administration plans to extend the order to October 31 — a date that aligns with the decision by the Cruise Lines International Association to postpone ocean sailings in U.S. waters until at least November. The CLIA represents major cruise lines around the world.

Republican politicians in Florida, where a large contingent of the U.S. cruise industry is based, and cruise industry lobbyists have called for an end to the “No-Sail Order,” The New York Times reported. The White House denied the move was political, Axios noted.

“The president, the vice president, and the task force follow the science and data to implement policies that protect the public health and also facilitate the safe reopening of our country,” White House deputy press secretary Brian Morgenstern told Axios. “It is not about politics. It is about saving lives.”

While cruise ships may be able to launch in November, several lines have suspended sailings into next year, including Carnival Cruise Line, which canceled cruises until the spring and predicted it won’t see full passenger capacity until 2022, and Princess Cruises, which has canceled two of its 2021 itineraries.

When cruises do resume, masks will be mandatory and all passengers and crew will be tested for COVID-19 before getting on board, CLIA mandated last month. Cruise ships will also have to designate cabins for isolation in case an outbreak does occur.

In addition, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line submitted their health and safety recommendations to the CDC earlier this month, much of which overlapped with CLIA’s, including screening guests and crew for potential COVID-19 infections before embarkation.

Cruising has been on hold in the U.S., but sailings have already resumed in Europe and Taiwan. While largely successful, it has not been without some onboard outbreaks of the coronavirus.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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White House reportedly pushed CDC hard to fall in line on sending kids to school, sought alternate safety data

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began working in early summer on guidance for sending children back to school, and the White House then “spent weeks trying to press public health professionals to fall in line with President Trump’s election-year agenda of pushing to reopen schools and the economy as quickly as possible,” The New York Times reported Monday night, citing documents and interviews with current and former government officials.

This “strikingly political intervention in one of the most sensitive public health debates of the pandemic” included searching for “alternate data” that suggested children were at little or no risk from the coronavirus, the Times reports, and trying to swap in guidance from a little-known Health and Human Services Department agency, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

SAMHSA was focused on the emotional and mental health toll remote school could have on children, but CDC scientists found multiple problems with the agency’s assertion that COVID-19 posed a low health and transmission risk for children. That’s the language the White House was most interested in, though, and throughout the summer the CDC won some battles and lost others trying to keep it out of public guidance, the Times documents.

Olivia Troye, one of Vice President Mike Pence’s envoys on the White House coronavirus task force until leaving the administration in July, told the Times she regrets being “complicit” in the effort to pressure the CDC to make children look safer than the data supported. She said when she tried to shield the CDC, Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, charged “more junior staff” to “develop charts” for White House briefings.

In early July, several prominent medical groups, including the American Association of Pediatrics, advised sending kids back to school with stringent safety measures, in part because the data at the time suggested lower risk for kids. “More recently, data compiled by the academy from recent months shows that hospitalizations and deaths from the coronavirus have increased at a faster rate in children and teenagers than among the general public,” the Times reports. Read more at The New York Times.

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