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Advertisements for 530 brands — including Unilever, Adidas, White Castle, Starbucks and Coca-Cola — are set to disappear from Facebook starting Wednesday as the Stop Hate for Profit boycott campaign gets going.

Amid a nationwide reckoning over systemic racism and police brutality, a broad range of multinational companies have joined the effort — pushed by civil rights groups who have grown frustrated with Facebook — to pressure the social network led by CEO Mark Zuckerberg into taking more concrete steps to crack down on hate speech.

A range of top Facebook executives, including Carolyn Everson, vice president of global business solutions, Neil Potts, public policy director, and Zuckerberg himself have held meetings with or reached out to advertisers in recent days, according to Reuters and other reports.

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However, sources told Reuters that the executives offered no new details on how they would tackle hate speech. They apparently pointed back to recent press releases, frustrating advertisers on the calls who believe those plans do not go far enough.

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“It’s simply not moving,” one executive at a major ad agency said of the conversations.

Zuckerberg, along with Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Chief Product Officer Chris Cox have agreed to meet with the organizers of the boycott, a spokeswoman confirmed to Reuters on Tuesday.

Facebook also has said it would submit to an outside audit of its hate speech controls. In addition, the company is in the process of a multi-year, broader civil rights audit.

It remains to be seen how much of an impact the boycott will have on Facebook’s bottom line. Although advertising accounts for the vast amount of its annual revenue ($70 billion in 2019), the top 100 brands only brought in 6 percent of that total, with most of the ads coming from small businesses, Reuters reports.

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“Facebook does not profit from hate. Billions of people use Facebook and Instagram because they have good experiences — they don’t want to see hateful content, our advertisers don’t want to see it, and we don’t want to see it. There is no incentive for us to do anything but remove it,” said Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications, in a blog post that defended and detailed the company’s efforts to stamp out hate on its platforms.

In the same blog post, Facebook also announced a major push toward registering some 4 million U.S. voters by featuring information at the top of their News Feed this Friday.

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Actor Ray Fisher says director Joss Whedon’s behavior was “abusive” on the set of the 2017 film “Justice League.”

“Joss Wheadon’s on-set treatment of the cast and crew of Justice League was gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable,” Fisher, who played the young superhero Cyborg in the DC Comics film, tweeted Wednesday.

Fisher added that Whedon was “enabled, in many ways, by Geoff Johns and Jon Berg,” two producers on the film who were executives running DC Films for Warner Bros. Pictures at the time.

Whedon has not responded to Fisher on social media, and emails from The Associated Press to representatives seeking comment from him and from Warner Bros. were not immediately returned.

Berg told Variety that it was “categorically untrue that we enabled any unprofessional behavior.”

Whedon, known for his writing and directing on Marvel’s “Avengers” films and television’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” was brought in during post-production to replace director Zack Snyder on “Justice League.” He oversaw extensive reshoots, editing and visual effects on the film.

At the time of his departure, Warner Bros. said Snyder was stepping away to be with his family following the death of his 20-year-old daughter.

In May, Warner Bros. announced that Snyder’s long director’s cut of “Justice League” would appear next year on the streaming service HBO Max, something fans had lobbied for since the film’s original release with the hashtag ReleaseTheSnyderCut.

Fisher showed a sign of his displeasure with Whedon earlier this week when he tweeted a video of himself praising the director as a “great guy” during a panel at San Diego Comic-Con in 2017, with the comment, “I’d like to take a moment to forcefully retract every bit of this statement.”

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President Donald Trump’s plan to restrict employment-based visas could affect an estimated 240,000 people seeking to work in the U.S. across industries from technology to finance and hospitality.

Trump said in a Fox News interview Saturday that he will announce new restrictions on various work visas Sunday or Monday. The plan won’t affect certain workers who are already in the U.S., he added.

There will be very few exclusions, Trump said, when asked about upcoming rules on several different visa categories, including the H-1B program for high-skilled workers, the L-1 program for managers transferring within their companies, and H-2B visas for non-agricultural temporary workers.

“In some cases you have to have exclusions. You need them for big businesses where they have certain people that have been coming in for a long time,” he said.

One possibility under consideration would restrict people from entering the U.S. on visa categories including the H-1B program for as long as 180 days, Bloomberg News reported June 12, citing two people familiar with the proposal. Workers who were granted those visas but remain outside the country may not be able to enter until the order expires.

The move would affect hundreds of companies and thousands of people: In fiscal year 2019, the H-1B visa was awarded to about 133,000 workers starting initial employment with a company. More than 12,000 people were granted L-1 visas in initial applications, and more than 98,000 people were issued H-2B visas. Barring exclusions, Trump’s plan could affect more than 240,000 applicants just based on these three work visa categories.

Trump tweeted at the height of the coronavirus pandemic that he planned to “temporarily suspend immigration into the U.S.” Industry groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Information Technology Industry Council, wrote to Trump to express concerns that restrictions would disrupt business and hamper growth.

In the past few years, the administration has been moving to tighten the H-1B program, and the approval rate for applications has fallen. The technology industry has relied on H-1B visas to hire foreign talent, particularly in the fields of science and engineering. Critics say some companies have abused the program to displace American workers.

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Germany’s smartphone app to trace coronavirus infections is set to launch this week.

After delays to ensure the bluetooth technology would work at the correct distance, the government says the app will be a vital tool to help avoid a second wave of infections.

“It’s coming this week,” Health Minister Jens Spahn told ARD television, but he declined to confirm German media reports that the app would be launched on Tuesday.

According to Reuters, the app uses bluetooth short-range radio to detect and contact people at risk of infection by coronavirus and does not rely on a centralized database.

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A man looks at the Corona warning app in the developer version on his smartphone. (Photo by Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images)

A man looks at the Corona warning app in the developer version on his smartphone. (Photo by Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Spahn also reportedly told people wishing to go on holiday after European border controls are eased on Monday to be careful and consider whether their trip was truly necessary.

Germany lifted its blanket travel warning for European Union nations and Britain on Monday.

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“We need the right balance,” Spahn said, adding that recent outbreaks in Germany after mass gatherings and church services had caused a rapid spread of the virus.

As of Monday afternoon, there were 187,000 cases of COVID-19 in Germany, which has a population of over 83 million people, and the virus was responsible for 8,807 deaths.

Germany has reportedly kept the number of deaths from COVID-19 low thanks to large-scale testing, a robust, well-funded health system and lockdown measures introduced in mid-March.

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The Oscars are implementing some big changes, including a set number of best picture nominees and to-be-determined representation and inclusion standards for eligibility.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Friday that there will be 10 best picture nominees beginning with the 94th Academy Awards in 2022. The organization is also planning to implement new eligibility requirements with an eye toward diversity in collaboration with the Producers Guild of America that will be finalized by the end of July.

Neither change will affect the 93rd Academy Awards, which are still set to be held in Los Angeles on Feb. 28, 2021.

The film academy has shifted the number of best picture nominees several times in its history. In 2009, it was expanded from five to 10, which many thought at the time was in response to the lack of a nomination for Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight.” In 2011, the field could fluctuate from five to 10, which led to some years having more than others. Last year there were nine. In the Academy’s early years, anywhere from eight to 12 films could be nominated for best picture.

The organization that puts on the Oscars is also committing to a new phase of diversity and inclusion initiatives, which they are calling Academy Aperture 2025. The first phase, which ended this year, was in response to the #OscarsSoWhite criticisms. Academy President David Rubin said that the organization had surpassed those goals.

“While the Academy has made strides, we know there is much more work to be done in order to ensure equitable opportunities across the board,” Academy CEO Dawn Hudson said in a written statement. “The need to address this issue is urgent. To that end, we will amend — and continue to examine — our rules and procedures to ensure that all voices are heard and celebrated.”

Rubin added that the leadership and board are committed to weaving, “Equity and inclusion into the fabric of every Academy initiative, committee, program and event.”

A newly established Office of Representation, Inclusion and Equity will oversee the Aperture 2025 initiative, and be headed by Academy COO Christine Simmons.

The academy also said that it is continuing its efforts to increase diversity in its membership ranks. The new class will be announced in July.

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Imagine combat vehicles, drones or robots able to regenerate armor or other materials after being hit by enemy fire. Now think about advanced high-performing protective equipment for soldiers that includes self-sustaining mobile electrical power. These are two amazing high-tech possibilities that could all be elements of future warfare technology — perhaps more than a decade from now.

The Army Research Office and Northwestern University are exploring basic research aimed at engineering synthetic materials which merge with or mirror actions of living biological organisms. Experts, scientists and researchers are involved in early experimental work to create high-performance materials by engineering “sequence-defined synthetic polymers with the precision of biology,” Dawanne Poree, program manager, polymer chemistry at the Army Research Office, explained to Warrior.

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File photo - A United States M1A2 SEP fires its main gun during the shoot-off of Strong Europe Tank Challenge at Grafenwoehr Training Area, June 3 - 8, 2018.

File photo – A United States M1A2 SEP fires its main gun during the shoot-off of Strong Europe Tank Challenge at Grafenwoehr Training Area, June 3 – 8, 2018.
(U.S. Army Photo by Kevin S. Abel)

“The ability to harness and adapt cellular machinery to produce non-biological polymers would, in essence, bring synthetic materials into the realm of biological functions. This could render advanced, high-performance materials such as nanoelectronics, self-healing materials, and other materials of interest for the Army,” she said. This could lead to regenerating materials, advanced information storage and other key attributes. To accomplish this, the military is looking into re-engineering “biological machinery to allow it to work with non-biological building blocks that would offer a route to creating synthetic polymers with the precision of biology,” Poree explained.

There could be many additional applications for the process to include soldier-protective materials, fuel cells that generate power and various kinds of new electronics.

The ARO is exploring the project with Northwestern University which, scientifically, is looking at biological polymers, such as DNA, to generate synthetic materials able to replicate biological functions. “Ribosomes, a cell structure that makes protein, can incorporate new kinds of monomers (scientific term for molecules which bind to form polymer material) which can be bonded with identical molecules to form polymers,” Army officials said. Synthetic polymers are things like plastics, polyester and nylon. Biological polymers are collections of molecules.

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Michael Jewett, the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence, professor of chemical and biological engineering, and director of the Center for Synthetic Biology at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering, explained that the emerging process could help “create classes of materials and medicines that haven’t been synthesized before.”

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ARO is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory.​​​​​​​

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