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Trump’s battle with COVID-19 is fueling a fresh misinformation frenzy

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With the president hospitalized, his doctors evading basic questions and an election 29 days away, chaos reigned after Trump tested positive for the virus that’s killed more than 200,000 Americans. Now, after a four-day stay at Walter Reed medical center, the president said he will return to the White House. But more questions than answers remain.

Unlike a normal residence, the White House has its own medical unit, offering “full-time” care and facilities for emergency surgery, including the ability to administer supplemental oxygen — which he previously received at the White House — and even a crash cart for resuscitation.

If the president leaves the hospital Monday evening, the situation could become even more opaque. Trump is eager to return to an image of normalcy, but he’s still a high risk patient in the throes of a wildly unpredictable and deadly virus that seldom charts a linear course to recovery. And because it’s clear that Trump is eager to feign normalcy at any cost with less than a month to go before the election, his return to the White House is not a reliable sign that he’s anywhere near being in the clear.

One result of obfuscating the president’s health? The internet is left to eagerly fill in the gaps.

Top-down misinformation

Doctors provided the first update about the status of Trump’s health on Saturday, but that event backfired, with White House Physician Dr. Sean Conley later admitting that he omitted information in order to keep the president’s spirits high. Conley also threw the timeline of Trump’s diagnosis into question — confusion that’s only been partially resolved since.

The White House’s coronavirus outbreak is a big opening for opportunists, according to Yonder, an AI company that monitors online conversations and tracks disinformation. In an online info ecosystem the company says is “broken,” a fresh crisis is rocket fuel for false claims and conspiracies.

“From groups suggesting the diagnosis was a hoax for political gain to QAnon supporters suggesting it was all part of a plan to isolate and protect the President from his adversaries in the ‘deep state,’ social media continues to act as a weaponized rumor mill,” Yonder CEO Jonathon Morgan said.

“In every case, agenda-driven groups on social media are using another national crisis to their advantage, and obscuring the truth in the process.”

On Friday, left-leaning conspiracy theories like #TrumpCovidHoax posited that the president wasn’t actually sick with COVID at all, suggesting he might have been malingering to elicit sympathy or avoid facing off with Joe Biden after a disastrous debate performance just days earlier.

Those beliefs are still rampant on social media even as the White House’s COVID-19 outbreak sidelines Trump’s own press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and campaign manager Bill Stepien, with the chaos threatening to take Trump’s reelection campaign completely off the rails.

‘Dire’ real-world effects

Hubris about the basic facts of the virus is undeniably what got the White House into this mess to begin with. Last week, a study by Cornell University found that President Trump is indeed the nexus of misinformation about the pandemic, with mentions of his name driving 38 percent of the broader COVID-19 misinformation ecosystem.

“The biggest surprise was that the president of the United States was the single largest driver of misinformation around Covid,” the study’s lead author Sarah Evanega said of the results. “That’s concerning in that there are real-world dire health implications.”

Those dire real-world implications took root over the weekend, as the virus threatened the president’s health seriously enough that his treatment team administered at least three powerful experimental treatments: the monoclonal antibody therapy Regeneron, which is still in clinical trials and not broadly available, the antiviral drug Remdesivir and the steroid Dexamethasone, which is prescribed in severe COVID-19 cases.

Hydroxychloroquine isn’t part of that his current drug cocktail, but the unproven COVID treatment the president touted — and took — earlier this year is again making the rounds online among some of the his supporters who are urging doctors to throw it into the mix.

Stella Immanuel, who was central to the “America’s Frontline Doctors” viral video that pushed false claims about COVID-19 treatments earlier this year, tweeted Friday that “Whoever told the president to stop taking HCQ should be punched in the face.”

In July, Trump called Immanuel an “important voice” who had “tremendous success” treating the virus before claiming that he is not familiar with her moments later.

Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs also tweeted his support for Hydroxychloroquine in the president’s treatment, in spite of the fact that the drug has not been shown to effectively fight the virus.

Circles promoting the pervasive pro-Trump conspiracy theory known as QAnon have their own ideas about the president’s condition, even viewing the Trump’s announcement that he had the virus as a “breadcrumb” encoding a secret message about Hillary Clinton. On Friday, 17 Republicans refused to support a bipartisan House measure condemning QAnon.

QAnon supporter DeAnna Lorraine Tesoriero, who ran a failed bid for Congress, suggested that Trump actually contracted the virus from a microphone at Tuesday’s debate rather than from his open disregard for mask-wearing and social distancing, two measures the CDC and global health experts say effectively reduce transmission.

While misinformation is thriving in the absence of answers about the president’s health, factual medical advice emerged in at least one place amidst the chaos. After initially publishing — and then removing — facts about airborne transmission of the virus, the CDC added that information back to its website on Monday.

According to the CDC’s new guidance, which reflects scientific consensus, the virus can linger in the air for “minutes to hours” and infect people more than six feet away.

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The 10 Best Deals of October 27, 2020

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Gif: Juliana Clark

Best Deals of the DayBest Deals of the DayThe best deals from around the web, updated daily.

Tuesday’s Best Deals | Kinja Deals

It’s October 27, and we at Kinja Deals are here to bring you the top 10 deals of the day. Kick back with some vegan CBD gummies. Prep for your future Zoom calls with the MySmile Teeth Whitening Kit. Try your hand at indoor gardening with the AeroGarden Harvest 360.

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If you’re still looking to snag some deals, take a look at Tuesday’s best deals overall.

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If you’re going to give OLED a try, this might be the time to start considering. I’ll contend you can still get away with an LG B7, the baseline from a couple of generations ago, but the TVs have gotten exceptional. Burn-in and input lag are two of the biggest knocks against OLED, especially for gamers, but according to reviews, that should be a non-issue on the LG CX. So long as you’re not watching the news or playing games with the same HUD for many consecutive hours on end, you shouldn’t run into any nasty image retention issues anytime soon.

Now down to its all-time low price of $1,497 on Amazon and at BuyDig, this 55″ TV is one of the best LG currently has to offer. It begins with that beautiful OLED panel, of course, which bids sayonara to muddy grays and backlight bleed thanks to its per-pixel lighting. For movies, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision HDR return to give you the best cinematic experience possible, the latter adding a feature that automatically tunes the picture around your ambient lighting conditions and the content you’re watching.

The TV also includes both AMD FreeSync and Nvidia G-Sync, both of which are gaming features that eliminate screen tearing with little (if any) added input lag.

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This deal was originally published by Quentyn Kennemer.

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You can now commemorate your digital rags to riches story in Animal Crossing with a real world bell bag, now bundled with the game for $55. The bag alone is normally $20, and with Animal Crossing: New Horizons usually hovering around $50 these days, it’s a nice $15 value. We’ve talked at length about the game ‘round here, but this rave is all about that bag!

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This soft plush bag is super authentic with a brown star patch and a red drawstring to keep whatever you decide to carry inside from spilling out. The bag is about 5.95 inches wide and 4.9 inches tall, which isn’t a whole lot of room, but I’m sure you can find a good use for it!

Put down your purses, backpacks, and pocketbooks and try on an oldish-new way to transport your personal items and currencies. (Or, you know, just add it to your ever-growing Nintendo shrine.)

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This deal was originally published by Quentyn Kennemer.

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There’s nothing more vegan than letting everyone know you’re vegan, and while I don’t partake in the diet myself, I do try to reduce my animal-based intake where possible. And for avid CBD users like myself, it can be hard to find gummies that don’t use gelatin or other animal products to get their chewy mouthfeel. Complete with vitamins D3 and B12, Sunday Scaries Vegan AF gummies yield all the benefits of its classic Gummies for Chillin’ except, you know, without the dissuasive ingredients. Made from broad spectrum CBD oil and coconut oil, unlike some competing brands, Sunday Scaries’ gummies contain no THC, not even like trace amounts of the stuff. So if you’re trying to cut down on the devil’s lettuce, let our exclusive discount help with that.

Because CBD lacks the psychoactive chemical found in THC, it doesn’t get you “high” per se. Instead, it makes you feel relaxed while sober. Just pop a tasty gummy or two and you’re set to lie down for the night, free from racing thoughts about the impending doom of work tomorrow, hence the name Sunday Scaries. For a limited time, you can save 25% on these vegan CBD gummies using the promo code ESINV25 to see what it’s all about. Automatically applied at checkout, this brings the grand total down to $35, or $31 if you choose to subscribe and save. Before long, you’ll be singing its praises without ethical concern for environmental impact (well, save for the packaging I presume).

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This deal was originally published by Gabe Carey.

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If you need a massive storage upgrade and don’t need SSD transfer speeds, this Seagate Gold Box is perfect timing. External hard drives are up to 35% off at Amazon for the day, including a 2TB Backup Plus Slim that’s only $53, and you can get more than double the space for less than double the cost with this 5TB for $98.

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If you have tons of big games and large movies, you might want to step up to this 8TB instead, which is just $123 with the discount. There are options all the way up to a massive 10TB at Amazon, so shop around before the calendar turns.

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This deal was originally published by Quentyn Kennemer.

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Over 11,000 customers can’t be wrong. 60% of Amazon reviewers have given the MySmile Teeth Whitening Kit a 5-star rating. If you’ve been looking to clean up a few coffee stains or make those pearly whites a little brighter this is the kit you’ve been searching for. Save 30% on this kit today.

If you’ve seen these sets before you know it comes with a LED light that helps accelerate the whitening process. It has a built-in timer so you don’t need to worry about setting one yourself and each session will be accurate. Also in this kit are the three 3mL teeth whitening gel syringes and the mouth trays for top and bottom. This kit provides enough gel for nine treatments. The trays don’t need to be molded which alleviates a huge headache and is usually my biggest gripe when I’ve tried kits akin to this one. Several customers have mentioned this worked just as well with their sensitive teeth which are really nice to know if you’re on the delicate side. Use these bad boys once a day for ten minutes and see stains from your life fade away even after one treatment. If only you could remove other problems that easily.

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This deal was originally published by Sheilah Villari.

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I live in a basement apartment so I thought this would be a fun experiment when I got one of these. I also with a roommate who is an excellent cook and constantly looking for fresh herbs and our garden isn’t reliable with the neighborhood creatures. I was pleasantly surprised by the AeroGarden Harvest 360 and if you’re a foodie with a green thumb this is the deal for you. Save $50 on this model right now.

I don’t know what I was expecting but I don’t think it was for them to all grow so quickly. I put the AeroGarden in my room on a high shelf away from all the dogs, so a pretty lightless area. I will say the 20W LED grow-lights are very bright, but duh, they’re supposed to be the sun. They’re on a timer too so you don’t need to worry about turning it on and off. It was easy to set up and I really love that it’s got light indicators that let you know when your plant babies need water or food. Yes, it comes with plant food that’s easy to measure out and pour in the well. It was simple enough to get the pods into the AeroGarden with relatively no mess. I haven’t figured out how to harvest them yet which will need to be done very soon. My pack came with Genovese basil, Thai basil, dill, curly parsley, mint, and thyme. I can say the basil smells lovely. This was a fun experiment that I was pleasantly surprised by and I’d be willing to try some more advanced things like lettuce or tomatoes. The AeroGarden is a great alternative for the plant minded individual worried about pesticides or herbicides.

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This deal was originally published by Sheilah Villari.

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Listen, no matter how loud the anti-maskers have a temper tantrum, masks protect yourself and others from COVID-19. We’re living in a pandemic and you know, it requires a bit of preparation for going out in public. This 40-Pack of KN95 masks is $24. Yes, masks are overpriced these days, but these five-layer KN95 masks block 95% of air particles up to .3-micron levels. What are you waiting for? Grab a box and start using them!

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This deal was originally published by Ignacia Fulcher. 

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If you’ve been looking for a way to take your temperature (or anyone else’s) without touching, you should look into this infrared forehead thermometer. It measures the heat coming off you in about a second for the best possible reading. You can also use it in the ear. It’s only $22, which is about $40 off the original list price. I would grab it before it’s gone.

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This deal was originally published by Quentyn Kennemer.

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Our pals at Elle Paradis want to treat you not trick you this week unless you’re into that. As a lead up to the spookiest day of the year grab 2 extra good when you spend $75.

My favorite little devil bullet ($22) is one of the free goodies. Channel your dark side in a discrete and clever manner. This smooth silicone little satan vibe has ten different settings and will be as naughty as you want to. Easy to use as it has one button and it’s splash-proof for simple cleaning. This buzzing Beelzebub will need AAA batteries but it’ll be worth it when get to dance with diablo.

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A handful of bundles are on sale for All Hallows’ Eve too. This Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun Bundle ($55) that’s discounted 77% in this deal. I do like the variety in this set though. A little something for the backdoor and the front door. Two massagers and a G-spot vibe. Stimulate the spirits just remember to clean the ectoplasm after.

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Free shipping on all orders.

This deal was originally published by Sheilah Villari.

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If you have the occasional pimple, much like me, chances are you don’t want it to be there. You should check out Rael Pimple Patches. Only $16, they’re made with hydrocolloid that’ll extract all the nasty-ass puss straight from your pimple without ever having to pop them. Which means no acne scars! They also come in two sizes, 10mm and 12mm for regular and extra-large pimples. Shoot, I might buy some!

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This deal was originally published by Ignacia Fulcher.


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Microsoft gets a pandemic boost thanks to Surface, Xbox, and cloud services

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Microsoft posted the first quarter of its 2021 financial results today, reporting revenue of $37.2 billion and a net income of $13.9 billion. Revenue is up 12 percent, and net income has increased by 30 percent. While the ongoing pandemic continues to force many to work remotely during an economic downturn, Microsoft is benefiting from the shift in the way people are now working, playing games more, and connecting to others through videoconferencing.

Cloud services are the biggest boost to Microsoft’s revenues from the pandemic shift in behavior. Both Office commercial and consumer are up, with Office 365 Commercial revenue growth up by 21 percent. Server products and cloud services revenue has also increased 22 percent as more businesses rely on cloud services for remote working. Azure revenue itself grew 48 percent.

The biggest news here from a consumer point of view is that Microsoft 365 Consumer subscribers have also increased to 45.3 million. That’s a jump of 27 percent year-over-year, and likely thanks to Microsoft’s renewed focus on consumers with Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams earlier this year.

Cloud and Office aren’t the only products driving Microsoft’s growth, though. Surface revenue has jumped by 37 percent this quarter to $1.5 billion. That’s a big increase for a quarter that hasn’t seen any new Surface devices introduced. Microsoft only just introduced a new Surface Laptop Go device and updated Surface Pro X earlier this month, but those will count to next quarter’s revenue.

Microsoft’s next-gen Xbox consoles.
Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge

Over on the gaming side, Xbox content and services revenue has also increased significantly by 30 percent compared to the same quarter last year. A number of consumers have turned to gaming and services like xCloud or Game Pass during the pandemic, and it’s clear there’s an increased demand for Microsoft’s gaming services. Microsoft notes that Xbox Game Pass subscriptions and strength in third-party and first-party titles helped with revenue.

Microsoft is now gearing up to launch its next-gen Xbox Series X and Series S consoles on November 10th. The consoles complement Microsoft’s xCloud game streaming service that launched last month, and the company’s ongoing efforts with Xbox Game Pass. Microsoft revealed it has 15 million Xbox Game Pass subscribers last month, but the company hasn’t provided any fresh numbers today.

Microsoft appears to be bullish about demand for the Xbox Series X and S consoles. “We expect very strong demand following the launch of our next-generation Xbox Series X and S consoles,” said Microsoft CFO Amy Hood during a call with investors. This demand should drive “supply constrained hardware revenue growth of approximately 40 percent” next quarter.

Microsoft reported a jump in Windows usage earlier this year after lockdowns throughout many parts of the world led to remote working for many. This jump in usage hasn’t resulted in increased Windows OEM revenue during this quarter, though. Windows OEM revenue has dropped 5 percent, and Microsoft blames lower commercial demand for the dip.

While commercial demand for PCs might be softening, Windows OEM non-pro revenue has grown by 31 percent, thanks to consumer PC demand. It’s likely that students and families are driving this growth during the pandemic, turning to PCs to help support remote learning. During an earnings call with investors, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said “PCs have become mission critical,” and that Microsoft is seeing double digit growth in monthly active devices for Windows 10.

Surface Laptop Go.
Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge

Elsewhere, LinkedIn revenue has also grown by 16 percent year-over-year with 722 million users. Search revenue has decreased by 10 percent, though. Microsoft splits its various businesses into three buckets: productivity and business processes, intelligent cloud, and more personal computing. The more personal computing bucket includes Surface, Xbox, and Windows, and Microsoft says gaming and Surface drove its revenue growth of 6 percent for this quarter.

Azure drove the intelligent cloud revenue growth, and Office 365 and LinkedIn helped the productivity and business processes bucket. It’s clear that these main revenue drivers — Azure, gaming, Surface, and Office — have been influenced by the pandemic.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said at the beginning of this pandemic that the company had witnessed “two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” That transformation appears to be continuing for many businesses, students, and consumers.

Update, October 27th 6:10PM ET: Article updated with comments from Microsoft’s investor call.

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You can now buy Vizio’s rotating Atmos soundbar

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Vizio’s Elevate soundbar has finally hit shelves. You can buy it today for $999.99. The 48-inch soundbar supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The soundbar houses 18 speakers and comes with a wireless eight-inch subwoofer. The cool thing is that some of the speakers rotate — they face upward while you’re playing Dolby Atmos content and point forward for standard audio.

I spoke to Vizio CEO William Wang about the Elevate earlier this year. He said the soundbar is intended to hook non-enthusiast customers on Dolby Atmos by showing them, visually, the difference between the two tiers of audio. He also noted that while the Elevate is asking a steep price, he expects the rotating speakers to appear in lower-cost devices down the road. The Elevate is being positioned as a good companion purchase for Vizio’s first 4K OLED TV, which is also now available.

Currently, you can order the Elevate at Best Buy and Walmart. Vizio says it’s coming to Amazon and Sam’s Club, too, but those don’t appear to have active links yet.

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