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June 10, 2019

Has Joe Biden given up on courting younger voters?

Judging by the former vice president's Facebook ad buys, that seems to be the case. From the time he joined the 2020 presidential race, Biden has "disproportionately focused" his Facebook ads on voters 45 years and older — a strategy "no other top Democratic candidate" has taken on, Politico reports.

Biden has spent $1.2 million on Facebook ads since launching his campaign in April. And from then until May 25, Biden has directed 83 percent of that funding toward ads targeted at voters 45 and up. Those voters "make up an estimated 62 percent of likely Democratic primary voters," Politico reports via data from Democratic digital firm Pulpit Interactive, making them a pretty solid path to the Democratic nomination.

The ad spending has matched Biden's overall centrist strategy, marked by leftward-moving but not-quite-groundbreaking stances on abortion rights and climate change. He's alone in this approach, and it has earned him tacit criticism from the more progressive challengers in his party. And yet it's definitely working, seeing as poll after poll shows Biden putting the constant second place finisher Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) further behind him.

Read more about Biden's strategy at Politico. Kathryn Krawczyk

6:18 p.m.

During Ireland's highly contentious abortion ban referendum last year, Facebook blocked American pro-life groups from running advertisements in the country, despite the Irish government declining to ask the company to do so, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

"During [Ireland's] election, leading up to that referendum, a bunch of pro-life American groups advertised ... to try to influence public opinion there," Zuckerberg said. "And we went to the Irish and asked folks there, 'well how do you want us to handle this? You have no laws on the books that are relevant for whether we should be allowing this kind of speech in your election, and really this doesn't feel like the kind of thing a private company should be making a decision on.'"

Zuckerberg went on to say that the Irish government told Facebook that since they didn't have a law, the question of foreign advertising was punted back to the company to self-regulate. "We ended up not allowing the ads," Zuckerberg confirmed.

Facebook's decision to block the ads has been controversial since the company publicly announced its intent just weeks before the May 2018 referendum. "I'm not sure Irish people ever voted for Mark Zuckerberg to make these types of decisions," Gavin Sheridan wrote for The Guardian at the time.

Zuckerberg used the example of Ireland to urge countries to update their laws. "I really don't think that as a society we want private companies to be the final word on making these decisions," he agreed. Watch his comments below. Jeva Lange

6:07 p.m.

Reps. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) may have chosen the wrong kind of run.

They're both competing for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential race, with Ryan appearing in Wednesday night's NBC News debates and Swalwell making an appearance Thursday. But that also means they're skipping Wednesday's Congressional Baseball Game — and leaving the Democratic team without two of its stars, FiveThirtyEight reports.

On Wednesday night, Republican and Democratic congressmembers will compete not on Capitol Hill, but in Nationals Park in the annual Congressional Baseball Game. And just a few hours later, 10 presidential hopefuls will gather in Miami for the first round of Democratic debates, while another 10 will face off Thursday night. Those debates will feature four Congressional Baseball Game alumni, including Ryan and Swalwell, who would likely be on the field if it weren't for their more important plans.

And as FiveThirtyEight points out in a thorough breakdown of Wednesday's game, Ryan and Swalwell's disappearances could cost the Democrats big time. Ryan's eight past Congressional Baseball Games have earned in him an outstanding .500 batting average, .560 OBP, and .636 SLG. Meanwhile, Swalwell has stolen a respectable nine bases in his past five games.

Fellow candidates Jay Inslee and Beto O'Rourke also have Congressional Baseball Game stats, but O'Rourke's .000 batting average over one game means he probably won't be missed. Still, O'Rourke has a distinct advantage over Ryan and Swalwell when it comes to 2020 polling numbers — something that probably matters a bit more in the long run. Get a preview of the Congressional Baseball Game at FiveThirtyEight. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:32 p.m.

Anyone looking to stream the Democratic debate on YouTube on Wednesday night will run headlong into the president. The Trump campaign has purchased some of the most valuable ad space on the internet — the YouTube homepage banner — and is using the spot to ask users to text the campaign and "stand with President Trump."

The ad spot likely cost between $500,000 and $1 million, The Independent reports based on similar ad buys by other clients.


The ad will reportedly be on the top of YouTube for a total of 24 hours, The Wall Street Journal reports. Depending on where viewers are located, different elements of the ad are swapped out, although it generally addresses border safety, immigration, drugs, and terrorism while placing blame for failures on Democratic leaders.

Democrats have also utilized the YouTube homepage banner spot in the past, such as before the midterm elections last November. Jeva Lange

5:06 p.m.

Both parties in the Senate agree on one thing: There's a dire situation at the southern border.

The Senate on Wednesday voted 84-8 to approve $4.6 billion in emergency funding for the U.S.-Mexico border, sending $2.88 billion to the Office of Refugee Resettlement and other funding to the Defense Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The House's version of the bill passed Tuesday doesn't include the DoD or ICE funding, setting the two chambers up for reconciliation discussions, The Washington Post reports.

The Senate's vote came as outrageous conditions on the border become even more apparent, with reports indicating last week that migrant children were being held in disgusting conditions in a remote Texas detention facility. ORR, which cares for these children, has been cutting services as its funding dries up. The Democratic House's version of the emergency spending bill requires greater scrutiny of private detention centers that house migrants, meaning it will have to work with the GOP-held Senate to decide if that provision makes it to President Trump's desk.

Ahead of Wednesday's vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) brought up a stunning photo of a father and daughter who drowned crossing the Rio Grande, and asked Trump to see the migrants as "people fleeing a horrible situation in their home country for a better life." Trump has hinted that he prefers the Senate's version of the bill, and suggested the two chambers "get together" to work out a deal. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the House bill's stricter requirements "poison-pill riders which the president would veto." Kathryn Krawczyk

5:04 p.m.

They say there is no such thing as bad publicity — which may be true, at least so long as you're not a candidate in a political debate (you can take that one from Rick Perry). Yet even with President Trump threatening to live tweet the Democrat's showdown on Wednesday night, the opposing campaigns are taking things in stride. Or, to put it more bluntly: "We don't give a s--t about that at all," Julián Castro's spokesman, Sawyer Hackett, told Vice News.

Trump will reportedly be watching the debate on board a plane headed to the G-20 summit in Japan, and has already told NBC News that he believes the evening will be "very boring" due to the "very unexciting group of people" on stage. Trump nevertheless has already begun honing his attacks, having recently called former Vice President Joe Biden, who will appear in Thursday's debate, a "lost soul" who "doesn't know where he is."

Castro's spokesman skewered Trump for making the night about himself, adding that the president "can't even let the Democratic process play out without inserting his ego into it." Other campaigns that spoke to Vice News seemed similarly disinterested in engaging with the president on Twitter, with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' team saying they planned to stay "focused on the audience of voters."

Still, there might be something to be said for preparing for attacks; the Republican National Committee has already readied at least four dozen surrogates to respond to the debate around the country, Politico reports. "We know what a lot of the Democrats are going to say about several things," one Trump campaign official confirmed, "but we'll be ready for the unpredictable as well." Jeva Lange

4:19 p.m.

Drones are all the rage now, but can you imagine one the size of a bug?

Meet the RoboBee X-Wing, a new robot created by scientists at Harvard University. Standing under three inches tall, with a wingspan of less than two inches, this tiny machine flaps its little wings 170 times a second. It also runs on solar power, starting to fly whenever its solar cells are exposed to light. This makes it the lightest device ever to fly without being attached to an external power source, New Scientist reports.

Currently, it's not quite ready to be flying outdoors — it needs light three times as intense as sunlight, so it needs some improvements before it can embark on its first real expedition. But one day, the RoboBee might be used to monitor the environment, or get into spaces too small for people or other robots. At its size, it's even light enough to "land on a leaf," said Noah Jafferis, one of the RoboBee's creators.

You can read the study detailing the RoboBee X-Wing's capabilities at Nature, or watch it fly below. Shivani Ishwar

4:01 p.m.

The popular pro-Trump Reddit community The_Donald has been quarantined due to posts that reportedly encouraged violence.

Reddit users who visit The_Donald, the subreddit for Trump supporters that currently has more than 750,000 users, will now first be presented with a warning message saying the community has been "restricted due to significant issues with reporting and addressing violations of the Reddit Content Policy," including "threats of violence against police and public officials." The subreddit has not been banned, and clicking "continue" will bring up the regular page.

According to Reddit's policies, while quarantined, The_Donald will not appear in the site's search or recommendations, and it will not generate revenue.

An announcement on the page from a Reddit moderator details the decision, saying there has been "repeated rule-breaking behavior" in the community and telling the subreddit's moderators there has been an "overreliance" on Reddit admins to remove content encouraging or inciting violence. The violent content in question reportedly concerned police and public officials in Oregon; Media Matters had recently detailed such posts in an article.

The admin goes on to tell the community's moderators that they must "unambiguously communicate to your subscribers that violent content is unacceptable." This post attracted thousands of comments from users of The_Donald, who expressed outrage at the decision and suggested it was made for political reasons.

The_Donald is considered to be one of the biggest online hubs of Trump supporters, and the president himself visited the subreddit to take questions in 2016. He has also at times posted content that originated from The_Donald on his official Twitter account. Brendan Morrow

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