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In Washington, British embassy becomes focus of Queen Elizabeth II tributes



WASHINGTON – Mourners gathered at the British Embassy in Washington Friday to pay respects to Queen Elizabeth II. For many, the queen, who died Thursday, was the only monarch they have ever known.

Some Washingtonians stopped in front of the embassy during their morning walks, while others made intentional visits. Guests signed a condolence book inside the embassy and left flowers or cards along a Union Jack emblem on Massachusetts Avenue.

WASHINGTON – Mourners gathered and left flowers at the British Embassy Friday to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, who died Thursday. (Ekaterina Pechenkina/Capital News Service)

President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden left their condolences in the embassy Thursday evening. Biden told reporters Friday that he planned to attend the queen’s funeral, but “I don’t know what the details are yet.”

“I wanted to pay my respects to an icon, a wonderful woman and monarch who I respected all my life,” said Ellen Harmon, 71, of Alexandria, Virginia.

Harmon said the queen was always popular in her house growing up and that she identified the queen with her parents.

“The connection with the country is through the queen, her presence, her speaking out. It’s always her as the center in my mind,” said Juanita Illera of Alexandria, who visited the embassy with Harmon.

“Frankly, yesterday was sad for me because it reminded me of my father’s death. Two World War II-era people who suffered and came through and did their best and did good,” Harmon said.

“I’m here to pay condolences to my queen,” said Mark O’Neill, who grew up in the United States but had a British mother. He said he felt “deeply sad” when he heard of the 96-year-old queen’s death, although he expected it would happen sometime over the next few years.

“She meant everything. She was brilliant; she was compassionate,” O’Neill said.

Terri Miracle, who traveled to Washington from Xenia, Ohio, for a wedding, also went to the embassy to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II. “She was, is, and always will be an inspiration to people worldwide,” Miracle said.

She brought a small doll with her and put it between the flowers on the Union Jack emblem.

“I’ve had her since I was about eight or ten years old,” Miracle explained. “I’ve taken her everywhere I’ve moved. And I thought she should be here to honor Queen Elizabeth.”

Rushad Thomas, of Prince George’s County, Maryland, said he has been a fan of the queen and the royal family since he was in fourth grade, citing his love of history for his vested interest. He wore a “God Save The Queen” t-shirt to leave his condolences.

“I think she really left her mark on the institution,” Thomas said. “The fact that this feudal institution from a thousand years ago survives into the 21st century is largely due to her shepherding of it into the new millennium.”

Thomas visited London for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June, one of her last public appearances.

“It was great because it was such a big celebration of her life,” Thomas said. “We weren’t anticipating her death, but when she’s that old, and she wasn’t able to participate in a lot of the celebrations, it was sort of like a big ‘thank you’ while she was still with us.”

“In the Black church, we call it ‘Giving you your flowers while you are still living,’” Thomas added. “I feel like the Platinum Jubilee was giving her her flowers while she was still living.”

Mourners are invited to visit the embassy and sign the condolence book from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. again on Monday or sign a virtual condolence book on the royal family’s website,
Isaiah Cummins, a freshman politics major at the Catholic University of America, was one of the early visitors to the embassy. He decided to go to the embassy Thursday afternoon, shortly after he heard the news of the queen’s passing.

He said he is thankful to be attending school in the nation’s capital so he can witness important moments like this.

“When historical events go down, you’re right where it all happens,” Cummins said.

Capital News Service

Capital News Service Washington reporter Courtney Cohn contributed to this report.

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Smithfield® Supports Communities During Commonwealth Clash with Donation of 260,000 Servings of Protein



This week, Smithfield® showed that its sponsorship of the Commonwealth Clash goes beyond just supporting athletics through its donation of much-needed protein to food banks in the communities surrounding Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia (UVA). As a part of Smithfield’s Helping Hungry Homes initiative, the brand donation provides 65,000 pounds of protein to the local communities supported by Feeding Southwest Virginia and Blue Ridge Area Food Bank to aid in hunger relief for the region.

Smithfield representatives presented the donations during two events at each respective food bank, highlighting the importance of center-of-the-plate protein donations for residents of these Virginia communities. The brand also showed appreciation for the staff and volunteers at each food bank by bringing its Bacon Bus to provide lunch.

“These donations, as a part of the Commonwealth Clash, bring these two universities — Virginia Tech and University of Virginia — together in the most meaningful way possible,” said Jonathan Toms, senior community development manager for Smithfield Foods. “Supporting Feeding Southwest Virginia and Blue Ridge Area Food Bank impacts these communities greatly, and we thank them for their continuous efforts to provide relief to the residents of our home state.”

Since the 2014-2015 academic year, Smithfield has sponsored the Smithfield Commonwealth Clash — the rivalry between Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia across all school-sponsored sports. Throughout the year, the company looks to support the communities surrounding Virginia Tech and UVA.

Feeding Southwest Virginia alone channels over $33 million in food and groceries through 380 partner feeding programs in its 26-county, nine-city region. The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank serves those living with hunger across 25 counties and eight cities on either side of the Blue Ridge. With the help of more than 400 programs and pantry partners, it provides nutritious food to well over 125,000 people each month. But protein continues to be one of the biggest needs for local food banks because of costs and limited resources.

“Receiving this donation from Smithfield brings unsurmountable support in alleviating hunger for Southwest Virginia,” said Pamela Irvine, president and CEO for Feeding Southwest Virginia. “We are thankful for the partnership with the high demand for food assistance in our area.”

“Smithfield has our gratitude for this generous donation,” said Michael McKee, CEO of the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. “This will provide much-needed center-of-the-plate protein to the residents of our community and continue to provide hope to our neighbors.”

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Lawmakers Try Again to Set a Vote on Puerto Rico’s Status



WASHINGTON – A coalition of senators, House members, and prominent Puerto Rican politicians is pressing Congress to pass legislation that would set a vote on the future of the island territory.

“It’s been more than 100 years since Puerto Rican residents became U.S. citizens … well over 300,000 Puerto Ricans have served in our nation’s military,” Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, sponsor of the Senate bill, said last week. “I think we should all agree that Americans living in Puerto Rico deserve an overdue permanent and democratic answer on their political status.”

The Puerto Rico Status Act authorizes the island territory of over 3 million residents to hold a federally-binding referendum to choose among three options: statehood, independence, or sovereignty in free association with the United States.

Heinrich’s bill is companion legislation to a House bill introduced in April by Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Arizona, Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón, R-Puerto Rico.

“For far too long, the people of Puerto Rico have been deprived of the self-determination that they and all people deserve,” Hoyer told Capital News Service. “We owe it to Puerto Ricans to bring an end to their island’s 124-year-old status as a U.S. territory and to grant them control over their island’s political future.”

As House majority leader, Hoyer brought a bill to the House floor in December 2022 to set a status vote for Puerto Rico; it passed the House but was not considered by the Senate.

“I remain committed to working with Puerto Rico’s elected officials and community leaders to ensure that the people of Puerto Rico have full autonomy and democratic control over their status,” Hoyer said.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, is among 21 other senators co-sponsoring the Senate measure.

“The United States is grounded in the principle that every citizen has the right to self-determination and representation in government,” Van Hollen told CNS. “While we are always working to reach this ideal, one way we continue to fall short is in denying the people of Puerto Rico these core American rights.”

Puerto Rico has been an American territory since 1898, when the United States acquired the island during the Spanish-American War.

The island’s residents are U.S. citizens but do not enjoy some of the same rights as residents of the 50 states, such as voting for president. Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner serves in the House but lacks voting power.

Critics say the territorial status has often resulted in Puerto Rico not receiving ample attention or much-needed aid when natural disasters strike, most notably when Hurricane Maria struck the island in 2017.

“When I go to some parts of Puerto Rico that are without power in the wake of natural disasters, I say if this happened in Connecticut, there’d be riots in the streets,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut. “It is unfair and unjust for the people of Puerto Rico to be treated as second-class citizens. Colonial status must end.”

The latest congressional effort to get a vote on Puerto Rico’s status faces strong headwinds: nine previous bills and resolutions dating back to 1998 previously failed.

Puerto Ricans have voted in six referendums since 1967 on the issue of their political status. The past three referendums in 2012, 2017, and 2020 showed a majority support for statehood, but the issue faces partisan roadblocks in Congress, which ultimately decides if the island can become a state.

When the issue was voted on in the House in December of last year, the vote was 233-191. All Democrats but only 16 Republicans voted in favor of allowing Puerto Rico to vote on its future. The bill died as a new Congress was sworn in a month later.

In the first 70 years of American independence, debates on admitting new states to the Union revolved around whether they would be slave or free. Today, that debate is focused on whether a new state would be a Democratic or Republican state and send delegations representing those parties, which could flip the balance of power in the House or Senate or both.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said in 2020 that statehood for Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia was part of the Democrats’ “radical” agenda. McConnell and other Republicans believe the admission of the two would send four Democratic senators to Washington, giving the Democratic Party a powerful advantage in the closely divided Senate.

Senators at last week’s press conference rejected that argument.

“Oftentimes when states come in and everyone assumes they are always going to be Republican or they are always going to be Democrat, and then the voters prove themselves to be independent,” Heinrich said. “We’ve seen that with Hawaii, we’ve seen that with Alaska, and I think this is about being true to the will of the people.”

The senator acknowledged that the path from territory to state can be arduous.

“It took us 50 New Mexico statehood bills to get there – many, many decades before we finally became the 47th state of the United States,” Heinrich said.

Some senators said they had constituents deeply interested in the future of Puerto Rico.

“We are home to more than 288,000 Connecticut residents of Puerto Rican descent, the highest density of Puerto Rican heritage anywhere in the country,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut.

The sponsors see the legislation as the best attempt yet to bring the issue of Puerto Rico’s future to a resolution.

“This bill is a compromise between members of the House that sit on different sides of the question of final status, but who agree that now is the time to make that decision,” Murphy said.

Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said the 22 senators on the bill was “the highest number of original co-sponsors in history.”

“That bodes well for our fight for equality,” said the governor, who faces a challenge from González-Colón in next year’s Progressive New Party gubernatorial primary. The PNP is pro-statehood.

Besides Hoyer, cosponsors on the House Puerto Rico bill include Maryland Democratic Reps. David Trone, Jamie Raskin, and John Sarbanes.


Capital News Service

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Cash Bail Policies are Under Fresh Scrutiny



States can’t figure out what to do about cash bail.

The system — in which an arrested suspect pays cash to avoid sitting in jail until their court date and gets the money back when they appear — is deeply entrenched in the nation’s history as a way to ensure defendants return to face justice.

But cash bail is undergoing a reckoning as policymakers debate its disproportionate effects on underserved communities and people with low incomes who sometimes can’t afford bail — as well as just how much the system truly keeps the public safe.

This year, some states such as Illinois and jurisdictions such as Los Angeles County in California and Cuyahoga County in Ohio scaled back their bail systems, even eliminating cash bail entirely for low-level offenses in some cases.

While Virginia studies cash bail alternatives, local prosecutors and judges increasingly take reform into their own hands

Policymakers in other places, meanwhile, are moving in the opposite direction.

Republican lawmakers in at least 14 states — including Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, and Wisconsin — introduced about 20 bills this year aimed at increasing the number of non-bailable offenses and either encouraging or requiring judges to consider defendants’ criminal records when setting bail, according to analysis by The Associated Press.

And in New York state, where changes to curtail the use of bail took effect in 2020, lawmakers have made several rounds of rollbacks amid concerns about rising crime rates.

Some bail policy advocates argue that these changes may contribute to racial and socioeconomic discrimination by relying on one’s ability to post bail and undermine the idea that those accused of a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

“There’s no single answer to effective bail reform,” Meghan Guevara, executive partner with the Pretrial Justice Institute, a criminal justice advocacy group, told Stateline.

Measures to increase the use of cash bail or to include certain factors in assessing bail eligibility saw varying levels of success. In Wisconsin, voters approved a state constitutional amendment in April allowing judges to consider factors such as a defendant’s past convictions and the need to protect the public from bodily harm in “violent crime” cases.

Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson signed legislation in July that requires judges who are setting bail to first consider factors such as a suspect’s flight risk, potential danger to others, past convictions for violent crimes, and previous failures to appear in court.

In Indiana, lawmakers in April passed their first swipe at Senate Joint Resolution 1, which would amend language in the state’s constitution and enable judges to deny bail to those they consider a “substantial risk.” The bill must pass again in 2025 before appearing on the ballot in 2026.

In Georgia, lawmakers considered legislation that sought to impose cash or property bail for dozens of additional crimes, including misdemeanors. It failed due to disagreements between the House and Senate, but Republican state Rep. Houston Gaines, who sponsored the measure in the House, expects the bill to pass in the next legislative session.

Gaines, in an emailed statement, said: “Eliminating cash bail has been a disaster in places it’s been tried — even New York has reversed course on some of its radical policies. We can’t afford to create a revolving door of criminals who don’t show up for court and victimize other individuals.”

Political backlash and rollbacks

Between 2017 and 2019, a bipartisan movement for changes to bail systems gained momentum at both the local and state levels. Some states, such as New Mexico, New Jersey and Kentucky, sharply curtailed their cash bail systems by almost entirely eliminating cash bail, expanding release programs and moving toward risk-based assessments to determine pretrial release.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic strained crowded jails and detention centers, and agencies eased bail systems to reduce exposure.

Between 2019 and 2020, homicide rates increased 30% — one of the largest year-over-year increases on record, according to data released by the FBI and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Homicide gun deaths also surged 35% in 2020, the largest year-over-year increase recorded in more than 25 years. Despite these increases, the overall violent crime rate in the country did not increase during the pandemic, according to federal crime surveys.

In California and New York, policymakers rolled back their pre-pandemic changes to cash bail.

“Fears about public safety are in many ways greatly overblown and misplaced,” said Sharlyn Grace, a senior policy adviser at the law office of the Cook County Public Defender in Illinois. “It is exceedingly rare for someone who’s released pretrial to be arrested and accused of a new offense that involves violence against another person.”

A report released by the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice in 2021 found that about 95% of individuals arrested and released between January and September 2020 were not rearrested while awaiting trial, and there was very little difference in rearrest rates before and after bail reform in the state.

New York had passed a sweeping overhaul in 2019, largely ending the use of money bail for misdemeanors and lower-level felonies, with a focus on imposing the “least restrictive” release conditions. The state’s bail law has undergone multiple rounds of revisions since then, primarily driven by calls from Republicans to amend or completely reverse the law.

In early 2020, New York expanded bail options, particularly in cases involving harm to a person or property. In 2022, the state further broadened the definition of “harm” and clarified factors judges must consider, such as criminal history, when setting release conditions.

This year, negotiations over additional changes led to the removal of the requirement for the “least restrictive” release, a proposal announced by Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul last spring.

Some state Democrats and criminal justice advocacy groups have strongly criticized these changes, arguing that the most recent revisions represent a rollback in progress.

“These rollbacks have had a serious effect on our pretrial population, and we’re still seeing the same kinds of wealth-based and racial inequities that were the drivers of bail reform in the first instance,” said Jullian Harris-Calvin, the director of the Greater Justice New York program under the Vera Institute of Justice, a national nonprofit criminal justice advocacy group.

Fairfax judge rules cash bond unconstitutional

Money bail remains prohibited for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies in New York, with some exceptions related to rearrested individuals.

In 2018, then-California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed Senate Bill 10 into law, which would have made the Golden State the first to end the use of cash bail for all detained suspects awaiting trials. The American Bail Coalition, a nonprofit trade association representing the bail industry, pushed back hard, organizing Californians Against the Reckless Bail Scheme to lead a repeal effort through a veto referendum.

Voters repealed the measure in 2020. Some who opposed the law said the proposed risk assessment tool — which generally measures factors such as flight risk, public safety risk and criminal history — could potentially cause more harm than good, said Allie Preston, a senior policy analyst for criminal justice reform with the left-leaning policy institute Center for American Progress. Some bail policy advocates say using risk assessment tools in the pretrial process may contribute to more racial and socioeconomic inequities.

Jeff Clayton, the executive director of the American Bail Coalition, said in an interview that risk-based assessments are problematic because “there’s no scientific way to predict pretrial risk in terms of a particular defendant.” Clayton added that setting a bail amount offers more flexibility, which may be beneficial in some cases.

“The question is, can we engineer the alternate system better than the existing system of monetary bonds, posting bonds and staying in jail that’s existed throughout history?” Clayton said. “There’s reasons to suggest that we can’t do a better job.”

Although statewide change to California’s bail system failed, a few jurisdictions in the state have introduced other changes to their bail systems. Santa Clara County and the city of San Francisco both use risk assessment tools and offer other services to help those released pretrial return for their court dates and address needs, such as transportation.

The Los Angeles County Superior Court implemented a zero cash bail system in October. Under the new bail protocols, those charged with nonviolent or less serious crimes will be detained before arraignment only if a judge determines they present a threat to the community or a potential flight risk instead of whether they are capable of posting bail. In cases of violent and serious felonies, however, the bail system remains intact.

“[Los Angeles County’s new] bail policy is a really important step towards promoting safety and justice and away from a system where the rich are able to buy their freedom and the poor languish in jail,” said Claire Simonich, the associate director of Vera California, an initiative under the Vera Institute of Justice.

Some residents, county officials, and members of law enforcement say the new policy will compromise law enforcement’s ability to address crime. And at least a dozen municipalities in Los Angeles County filed a lawsuit in September to block the new system from taking effect.

More legislative efforts

Lawmakers in some states have pushed for further changes in their legislative sessions.

Connecticut state Rep. Steven Stafstrom, a Democrat, said the problem in his state stems from an outdated constitutional provision that limits the state’s ability to deny bail, primarily reserving bail for capital offenses. But the state abolished the death penalty more than a decade ago. Since capital offenses no longer exist in Connecticut, there are limited legal grounds for holding people pretrial, especially if they have the financial means to post bail.

“We really need to first repeal that provision out of the state constitution and then move much more towards a risk-based system that takes into account someone’s risk and likelihood to flee as opposed to simply their ability to pay,” Stafstrom said in an interview with Stateline.

In Minnesota, a bill introduced by Democrats this year would limit the use of cash bail by the courts for misdemeanor offenses.

In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, where Cleveland is located, informal changes to the court’s culture and practices have reduced the number of people required to pay cash bail, according to The Marshall Project, a news outlet focused on criminal justice. The state supreme court also made changes in 2020 and 2021 aimed at reducing the number of people jailed before trial. Last year, voters passed a measure that requires judges to consider certain factors when setting bail, including public safety.

The adoption of alternative approaches, such as pretrial risk assessments, is gaining ground across the country. Some two dozen different risk assessment tools are in use in at least 26 states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Stateline is a sister publication of The Virginia Mercury within States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Stateline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Scott S. Greenberger for questions: Follow Stateline on Facebook and Twitter.


by Amanda Hernandez, Virginia Mercury

Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sarah Vogelsong for questions: Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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Virginia War Memorial Announces Winners of 2023 Veterans Day Student Essay Contest



An eighth-grade student from Henrico County and a high school junior from Fairfax County were the first-place winners in the Virginia War Memorial’s 2023 Veterans Day Student Essay Contest. The winners were announced at the 67th Annual Veterans Day Ceremony held Friday, November 10 at the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond.

The winner in the middle school category is David Contreras, an 8th grade homeschooled student who lives in Henrico. His teacher is his mother, Rachel Contreras.

The winner in the high school category is Mia Ramos, a 11th grade student at W. T. Woodson High School in Fairfax.  Her teacher is Ashley Kipperman.

Virginia Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears with the two winning students at the ceremony.

The annual competition was open to middle and high school-age students residing in Virginia and enrolled in public or private schools or homeschooled.  The essay topic for the 2023 competition was “A Virginian Who Served in the Military During the Korean War Era Who Inspires Me.”

Both contest winners were invited to Richmond accompanied by their parents, guardians and teachers where they read their essays aloud as part of the Veterans Day Ceremony on stage in the E. Bruce Heilman Amphitheater at the Virginia War Memorial. The students were personally congratulated by and Virginia Lieutenant Governor Winsome Earle-Sears; Major General James W. Ring, Adjutant General of Virginia; Virginia Department of Veterans Services Commissioner Daniel Gade; and Virginia War Memorial Director Dr. Clay Mountcastle.

The students also received prize packages donated by McDonald’s Restaurants of Richmond and Hampton Roads and the Virginia War Memorial Foundation.

“We are pleased to join Lieutenant Governor Earle-Sears, Commissioner Gade and all our fellow Virginians in congratulating Mia and David on their winning entries in the Virginia War Memorial’s 2023 Veterans Day Student Essay Contest.  Congratulations also to all of the students from throughout the Commonwealth that took the time to write essays and submit essays this year,” said Dr. Clay Mountcastle, Virginia War Memorial Director.

“Educating our young people and passing on the stories of service and sacrifice of our men and women who served is one of our most important missions here at the Virginia War Memorial. With their inspiring words, both written and presented in person during the Veterans Day Ceremony, these two inspiring students demonstrate the importance of this vital mission.”

The winning essays are posted online on the Virginia War Memorial Foundation website:

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VSP Investigating Death on JMU Campus



The James Madison University Police Department requested the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Culpeper Field Office to conduct a death investigation. At approximately 2:30 a.m. Thursday (Nov. 9), a 19-year-old male subject was found deceased in a dormitory on the campus of James Madison University. At this stage of the investigation, the death does not appear to be suspicious in nature. The investigation remains ongoing.

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Bipartisan Bill Seeks to Curtail Social Media Disinformation and Enforce Transparency



WASHINGTON – Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-New Jersey, and Don Bacon, R-Nebraska, on Wednesday, unveiled legislation to combat disinformation on TikTok and other social media platforms that have surged during the war between Israel and Hamas.

“This legislation will require social media companies to release detailed reports of violations to their terms and services and how they’re addressing these violations, which includes using their platforms for terrorist purposes,” Gottheimer told reporters during a press conference call. “It also requires the intelligence community to provide a threat assessment about what’s happening on social media.”

The proposal is called the Stopping Terrorists Online Presence and Holding Accountable Tech Entities Act, or the Stop Hate Act.

Gottheimer said the measure includes a $5 million fine for each day a social media company fails to comply with the requirements of the bill.

Additionally, the lawmakers wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland, urging him to require TikTok to register as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin, chairman of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, said TikTok fosters hatred, particularly antisemitism.

“We have a growing mountain of evidence that this type of censorship, this type of misinformation, is being propagated on TikTok,” Gallagher said.

Gottheimer said this disinformation is also seen on Al Jazeera, Facebook, and X, formerly known as Twitter, and is fueling the rise of antisemitism and Islamophobia in recent weeks.

TikTok is a particular concern among lawmakers because it is highly influential with younger viewers and because it is owned by the Chinese Communist Party.

Many Americans support tech companies intervening to block disinformation, according to a 2023 survey.

Some U.S. jurisdictions have barred TikTok.

China has had an anti-Israel stance since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas, according to Gottheimer, and is using TikTok to boost anti-Israel and pro-Hamas videos in the United States.

However, TikTok has said it has been blocking misinformation.

“Since Oct. 7, we've removed over 775,000 videos and closed over 14,000 live streams promoting violence, terrorism, hate speech, misinformation, and other violations of our Community Guidelines in the impacted region,” the platform said last month.

Bacon said he and his colleagues are also asking intelligence agencies to provide summaries of how terrorists are using social media. He said such information could help them “learn and keep improving our policy.”

The Stop Hate Act has the backing of the Anti-Defamation League.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the league’s chief executive officer, said ADL’s Center of Extremism reported 619 antisemitic acts between Oct. 7 and Nov. 6, most of which have been related to the war in Israel. He said in that same period in 2022, there were 166 antisemitic acts reported.

While social media companies have posted about trying to limit extremist content, Greenblatt said their tools and policies are way behind what they should be doing.

“We are not asking for anything special here,” he said. “We’re simply asking for these companies to play by the same rules that every other business in America abides by – to be transparent and have accurate reporting.”

Capital News Service

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Dec 2 @ 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
Kris Kringle Market @ Trinity Lutheran Church
The Trinity Lutheran Church Kringle Market will take place on Saturday, December 2, 2023 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.  The Kringle Market is centrally located in the Newtown–Stephensburg Historic District in the Trinity Lutheran[...]
10:00 am SPCA Thrift Shop Grand Reopening @ WASPCA Thrift Shop
SPCA Thrift Shop Grand Reopening @ WASPCA Thrift Shop
Dec 2 @ 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
SPCA Thrift Shop Grand Reopening @ WASPCA Thrift Shop
After months of renovations and hard work, the Winchester Area SPCA is thrilled to welcome you back to its thrift store, where every purchase supports the mission of caring for and finding loving homes for[...]
1:00 pm Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
Dec 2 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
New Bluegrass and traditional music jam the first Saturday of each month starting Feb. 4th, from 1pm till 4pm. All levels of playing invited to attend.
3:00 pm Valley Chorale “Once Upon a Chri... @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Valley Chorale “Once Upon a Chri... @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Dec 3 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Valley Chorale "Once Upon a Christmas" Concert @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Join The Valley Chorale for a family-friendly concert featuring favorite carols, hymns and songs of the Christmas season!
5:30 pm Free Holiday Meal @ Trinity Lutheran Church
Free Holiday Meal @ Trinity Lutheran Church
Dec 6 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Free Holiday Meal @ Trinity Lutheran Church
If one has read the Surgeon General’s 2023 report on America’s epidemic of loneliness and crisis of disconnection, one can then understand the significance that a Holiday Meal can have on the community at large. [...]