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    White House adviser Steve Bannon isn't alone in pondering America's possibly generation-defining question about China's emerging superpower status — but his call for an 'economic war' puts him far outside the mainstream. In an interview reflecting on some of his big-thinking projects, Bannon said the country should be 'maniacally focused' on a confrontation with Beijing over who will be the global 'hegemon' of the next 25 to 30 years. The former Breitbart News executive — who works steps from President Donald Trump in the West Wing — told The American Prospect that 'the economic war with China is everything.' For decades, American economists, military strategists and policymakers of all stripes have wrestled with how the United States and China, the world's biggest and soon-to-be biggest economies, manage differences on trade and security. But no one in a position of power has adopted a strategy that entails the almost messianic zeal of Bannon's world view. For good reason, according to advocates of more measured approaches to dealing with China, who argue that an economic war would hurt everyone. 'Steve Bannon's view is too simplistic and arrogant,' Seattle trade attorney William Perry declared, saying such talk 'could get the U.S. in big trouble.' He said Bannon's position is 'built around the idea that the United States is the biggest market in the world and everybody has to kowtow to us.' Bannon's comments do reflect sentiments Trump himself has channeled on narrowing America's vast trade deficit with China and bringing manufacturing jobs back home. They also underscore the ways in which the U.S. administration is in conflict with itself on China and other foreign policy issues. Bannon was stunningly candid about purging rivals from the Defense and State departments who supposedly resist the tough trade line with China. And he contradicted Trump by calling his boss' bluff on threatening to attack North Korea, saying there is no military solution to the nuclear standoff. Bannon characterized the focus on North Korea as a 'sideshow' to a more significant, U.S.-Chinese struggle for world control. Past U.S. administrations, Republican and Democrat, have cooperated with China since it initiated market-opening reforms more than three decades ago. The Clinton administration, for example, supported China's World Trade Organization entry in 2001. But as China's economic and military might has grown, hopes it would open its markets and play by WTO rules like other rising economies have receded. U.S. views have hardened. While American consumers have benefited from cheaper Chinese-made goods, the imports have caused massive U.S. trade deficits. Last year, for instance, America's trade gap in goods with China was $347 billion. That represented nearly half the U.S. trade deficit with the entire world. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Zurich and the University of California, San Diego, found the U.S. lost 2.4 million jobs from 1999 to 2011 because of Chinese import competition. For Americans, that is the biggest concern and one Trump tapped into among blue-collar voters, at Bannon's urging. Of his economic war with China, Bannon said: 'We have to be maniacally focused on that. If we continue to lose it, we're five years away, I think, ten years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we'll never be able to recover.' Such doom-and-gloom talk may be getting Trump's receptive ear. His administration has recently dusted off some little-used trade weapons, starting a process that could lead to penalties on Chinese steel and aluminum imports. On Monday, Trump announced the U.S. is investigating China for allegedly stealing American technology and intellectual property. But Bannon is surrounded by rivals for the president's favor, clashing with top officials such as H.R. McMaster, Trump's national security adviser. Trump himself passed up an opportunity this week to express confidence in Bannon, who has been with Trump since before the presidential election. Of The American Prospect interview, a White House spokeswoman on Thursday only said, 'Bannon's comments stand on their own.' An individual outside government who met recently with Bannon described him ordering up voluminous dossiers about China from various government agencies in recent weeks, possibly to prepare for Trump's trade action this week. Trump's announcement drew an angry reaction from Beijing, which also pushed back on Bannon's remarks. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunyin called Thursday for 'sound and steady growth of China-U.S. relations.' 'There is no winner in a trade war,' Hua told reporters in Beijing. For years, China manipulated its currency to give its exporters an advantage over foreign competition. It demanded foreign companies turn over technology to access China's vast market, and its firms rampantly stole the intellectual property of foreign companies. Government subsidies and cheap loans encouraged Chinese factories to overproduce steel, aluminum and other products, driving down global prices and putting U.S. and other firms out of business. But Washington hasn't ignored violations. The Obama administration, for instance, filed 16 WTO cases against China. The U.S. has almost completely blocked steel imports from China. The Peterson Institute for International Economics found in a report this year that more than 9 percent of Chinese imports face trade barriers in the United States, versus less than 4 percent of overall imports. And China stopped manipulating its currency a few years ago. Bannon's comments suggest potentially harsher measures. During the presidential campaign, Trump threatened 45 percent tariffs on Chinese imports, even if that would likely prompt Chinese retaliation. 'The notion that we slap some tariffs on them, and they're going to cave — that, I'm sure, is wrong,' said David Dollar, a former U.S. Treasury and World Bank official now at the Brookings Institution. ____ Associated Press writers Matthew Lee in Washington and Darlene Superville in Bridgewater, N.J., contributed to this report.
  • The Latest on the Wisconsin state Assembly debate of the $3 billion Foxconn bill (all times local): 6:20 p.m. The Wisconsin state Assembly has passed a $3 billion tax break package for Taiwan-based electronics giant Foxconn Technology Group. The bipartisan vote Thursday now sends the bill to the Senate, where it must also pass in identical form before it goes to Republican Gov. Scott Walker. The Assembly passed the measure on a 59-30 vote, with three Democrats joining 56 majority Republicans in support. Twenty-eight Democrats and two Republicans voted against it. The vote comes just three weeks after President Donald Trump and Walker announced the deal for Foxconn to invest up to $10 billion on a display panel manufacturing facility in Wisconsin. It could employ up to 13,000 people, an opportunity that Trump and Walker have described as transformational. But opponents question the cost to taxpayers and weakening of environmental protections. ___ 4:50 p.m. A $3 billion tax break bill for Taiwan-based electronics giant Foxconn Technology Group is poised to pass the Wisconsin Assembly on a bipartisan vote. Democratic state Rep. Cory Mason said during debate Thursday that he intends to vote for the bill. He is the first Democrat to publicly say he will back the measure that is being championed by Gov. Scott Walker and fellow Republicans. Most Democrats have assailed the measure, saying it's a corporate welfare giveaway that weakens environmental standards and doesn't have enough protections for workers. The plant that Foxconn said could employ up to 13,000 people would be located near Racine, where Mason is running for mayor. He says the measure is not perfect, but the prospect of thousands of jobs is too good to pass up. ___ 12:30 p.m. Democrats in the Wisconsin state Assembly are arguing that a vote on $3 billion in tax breaks for Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group should be delayed until the bill can be improved. Democratic Assembly Leader Peter Barca argued Thursday that changes are necessary to ensure the environment and workers are protected and Wisconsin businesses will be involved in construction of the $10 billion campus where television display panels are to be manufactured. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says it is important for the proposal to pass with bipartisan support. He says the project that could employ up to 13,000 people will transform the state's economy. Republicans control the Assembly 64 to 35. ___ 11:15 a.m. Wisconsin Republicans say they are not moving too quickly on a bill that would extend up to $3 billion in tax breaks to Taiwan-based electronics giant Foxconn Technology Group to locate a massive $10 billion factory in the state. The state Assembly scheduled a vote on the measure Thursday, just three weeks after it was introduced. Assembly jobs and economy committee chairman Rep. Adam Neylon says the bill has been improved to include changes Democrats wanted, including $20 million for job training and improved environmental regulations. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos predicted the bill would pass on a bipartisan vote. Many minority Democrats have been outspoken against the measure. The bill must also pass the Senate and be signed by Gov. Scott Walker before becoming law. ___ 12:06 a.m. The Wisconsin Assembly plans to approve a $3 billion tax break bill for Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group to build a new display panel factory in the state. The incentive package up for a vote Thursday would be the largest in state history and the biggest to a foreign company in U.S. history. Democratic critics have said the state is giving away too much, while Republican backers, including Gov. Scott Walker, say it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. A deal signed by Walker and Foxconn officials call for the electronics giant to invest $10 billion in the state and hire up to 13,000 people at the massive plant. Construction would begin in 2020. Critics say they worry about environmental regulations waived under the bill and the cost of the tax breaks.
  • The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new medicine for use against a rare, rapidly progressing blood cancer after other treatments have failed. The agency approved Pfizer Inc.'s Besponsa for patients with a type of advanced acute lymphoblastic leukemia. By then, life expectancy is low. 'These patients have few treatments available and today's approval provides a new, targeted treatment option,' Dr. Richard Pazdur, the FDA's director for cancer drugs, said in a statement. This year an estimated 5,970 Americans will be diagnosed and 1,440 will die from the cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. The drug will cost $168,300 without insurance for the typical nine-week treatment course. In testing that included 218 patients, 36 percent given Besponsa had their cancer vanish for eight months on average; 17 percent of those given chemotherapy had complete remission for a median five months. Besponsa is believed to work by blocking the growth of cancerous cells by binding to their surface. The powerful injected drug, known chemically as inotuzumab ozogamicin, comes with the FDA's most-stringent warning because it can cause severe liver disease, including blocking veins in the liver. It also carries an increased risk of death in patients who have received a certain type of stem cell transplant. Besponsa also can cause a decrease in blood-cell and platelet production, infusion-related reactions and problems with the heart's electrical pulses. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take Besponsa because it may harm a developing fetus or a newborn baby, the FDA warned. More-common side effects include fatigue, severe bleeding, fever, nausea and headaches. ___ Follow Linda A. Johnson at www.twitter.com/LindaJ_onPharma
  • Despite what you may see in online videos and forums, you don’t have a secret bank account from which to pay your bills! According to a new scam alert from the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports that scammers are telling people they can pay their bills using so-called “secret accounts” or “Social Security trust accounts” and routing numbers at Federal Reserve Banks. Read more: New phone scam targets DirecTV customers Federal Reserve Bank scam spreads online In exchange for Social Security numbers and other personal information, victims of the scam receive a bogus bank account number at a Federal Reserve Bank. The fraudsters are then able to sell or use the sensitive information they’ve obtained to steal your identity. Here’s the bottom line: The Federal Reserve provides banking services only for banks, not individuals. People who’ve attempted to use Federal Reserve Bank routing numbers to pay their bills have had their transactions rejected or returned, which often results in late fees and penalties from the companies they were trying to pay. “It is important for consumers to know that, when making online or e-check bill payments, they must not use Federal Reserve Bank routing numbers,” according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. “Any video, text, e-mail, phone call, flyer, or website that describes how to pay bills using a Federal Reserve Bank routing number or using an account at the Federal Reserve Bank is a scam.” This is a good reminder to never give your credit card, bank account or social Security number to anyone who calls or emails and asks for it. If you’ve encountered this scam, report it to the FTC online immediately. Read more: Do not answer calls or texts from these area codes Related Articles from clark.com: What to delete when your phone runs out of storage space Read More Disney is hiring and you can work from home Read More National parks lifetime passes for seniors are about to get a lot more expensive Read More
  • Americans are a charitable people by their very nature, but at no time of the year are they more charitable than right now! The end of the year offers a great time to clean out your house in preparation for a new year — not to mention reduce your tax bill by giving yourself a smaller taxable income. Read more: Year-end giving that also gives YOU a tax write off Here are some more important tips to keep in mind when donating Before donating to any charity, you want to be sure that the lion’s share of the money will go where it’s needed. Every charity has different overhead costs. You can research you favorite charities and learn how much of your donation will go to the intended purpose (vs. how much will go to overhead) at Give.org , CharityWatch.org and CharityNavigator.org . You should also keep the following in mind: Don’t feel pressured to give cash. Legitimate charities will take a check. Don’t give credit card, bank account or personal information to telemarketers. If you want to donate, initiate the call yourself. Don’t give out your Social Security number! Don’t give to Internet appeals if the cause does not look legitimate and doesn’t check out. Traditional frauds have gone electronic in recent years, giving con artists easy access to thousands of potential victims. Don’t give in to pressure. Anyone that can’t wait for a donation while you check out his or her organization is likely to be a crook. Donating an old vehicle? Be aware of special considerations. Expect specific information. Ask what kind of relief this organization is going to provide. Don’t give to a vague appeal. Check out the charity with national, state and local authorities. Established charities register with the Internal Revenue Service. You can search for specific non-profit organizations at IRS.gov. Beware of newly formed organizations. If the charity is new, you may have to rely on your relationship with the company or sponsor of the organization to determine whether you trust the group. Report abuses to the nearest Better Business Bureau and the State Attorney General’s office. Both are listed in local telephone directories. You can also report abuses to the National Fraud Information Center at (800) 876-7060. NFIC also has a web-based complaint form at Fraud.org. Remember, do give! The reality is scammers are out there. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be generous. With the sites listed above that vet various charities, you can give with confidence. Read more: 7 senior scams and how to combat them Why donating to online fundraisers can be dangerous Related Articles from clark.com: What to delete when your phone runs out of storage space Read More Disney is hiring and you can work from home Read More National parks lifetime passes for seniors are about to get a lot more expensive Read More
  • Few moments in the career growth process are more satisfying than receiving a coveted job offer; though for many, the contentment is short-lived once the conversation turns to salary. Read more:  How to negotiate a raise and why you need to now The topic of money can be challenging and downright uncomfortable, but there are a few ways to rise above the awkwardness to secure the salary you feel you deserve. Here are five strategies to help you prepare for that moment. Ways to negotiate the salary you want 1. Practice While the average job applicant prepares for an interview, it’s easy to overlook what experts deem the more difficult portion of the hiring process: Salary negotiations. “The best thing to do is practice, because it’s just like an interview; the more often you practice, the better off you’re going to be,” Lisa Andrews, Ph.D., a career services manager for the Certified Financial Planning Board of Standards, Inc., said. Andrews recommends going through a few scenarios, including “one where your offer is accepted right away and the handshake happens and everyone’s happy, one where the person pushes back on you and one where the person gives you a low offer and you really have to negotiate.” “Practicing several scenarios over and over is definitely going to help you have a very successful negotiation because you will have already said the words out loud,” Andrews said. “When you do that and you hear yourself saying it, you’re going to become a more effective negotiator.” Read more: 10 job interview mistakes you’ll most likely regret 2. Research your worth Nailing down your professional value is possible thanks to online recruiting and career databases. For example, in addition to location, services like Glassdoor can give job-seekers insight into compensation based on company, job title and experience level. If you crave specific salary parameters, it’s a good idea to put these types of online tools to work. Learning from your professional peers could help you gain insight during the negotiation process. Read more: This tool will tell you if you’re getting paid enough 3. Use social science to self-advocate Don’t allow the question of salary to catch you off guard. When asked what you’d like to earn, a Columbia Business School study suggests providing a “bolstering” range (i.e., your ideal salary as the minimum amount) to gain a competitive edge in the conversation. For example, if your ideal salary is $80,000, the co-authors of the study suggest proposing a small range of $80,000 to $85,00. This strategy allows you to bolster your potential earnings by placing your ideal income at the low end of the range. Why is this method effective? According to Ames and Mason, it comes down to social norms. “… We posit a politeness effect: We believe that an unaccommodating counteroffer seems less polite in response to a range offer compared with a point offer, thereby leading to more conciliatory responses to range offers.” Translation: Managers are likely to reward friendliness and flexibility in kind. 4. Gauge your flexibility When deciding how flexible you plan to be, it’s important to remember that negotiations may include more than base salary. You might also consider how health benefits, paid time off, flexible spending, stock options, 401(k), bonuses and other perks factor into the equation. How do these variables impact your willingness to negotiate base pay? Are you prepared to make concessions in one area to benefit another? Ask yourself these questions as you calculate your salary requirements. Read more:  How to maximize your 401(k) savings 5. Set aside emotion The days following a job offer can be full of conflicting emotions, including fear. “People tend to be weary of salary negotiation because they think that it may somehow disqualify them for a position they were just offered,” Andrews said. If this is how you’re feeling, you aren’t alone in your trepidations. A Salary.com survey found that only 37% of employees always negotiate salary, while 18% avoid the topic entirely. Those who don’t negotiate salary may be forfeiting years of long-term earnings according to Margaret A. Neale, a Stanford University professor specializing in business negotiation. “Suppose that at age 22 an equally qualified man and woman receive job offers for $25,000 a year,” Neale said. “The man negotiates and gets his offer raised to $30,000. The woman does not negotiate and accepts the job for $25,000. Even if each of them receives identical 3% raises every year throughout their careers, by the time they reach age 60 the gap between their salaries will have widened to more than $15,000 a year.” In Neale’s example, failing to negotiate during the initial interview would cost the woman $361,171 over the course of 38 years; a sizable — and perhaps, unnecessary — sacrifice. When your financial security is at stake, it’s a good idea to leave emotion at the door. Rely on your research and professional qualifications to communicate with enthusiasm instead. Read more:  24 easy ways to make extra cash How to increase your income without getting a pay raise [Editor’s Note: It’s important to remember that many employers review a version of your credit reports as part of the application, so it’s a good idea to know where yours stands. You can view a free credit report summary, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.] More from credit.com: What is a good credit-building timeframe? Capital One Venture rewards & VentureOne rewards review: How do you choose? This article originally appeared on credit.com. Related Articles from clark.com: What to delete when your phone runs out of storage space Read More Disney is hiring and you can work from home Read More National parks lifetime passes for seniors are about to get a lot more expensive Read More
  • The new procedures will apply when a runway parallel to a plane's designated runway is closed, as it was on July 7, possibly contributing to the Air Canada pilots' confusion. When an adjacent runway is shut down at night, air traffic controllers will no longer let pilots make so-called visual approaches to land. Instead, they must use instrument landing systems or satellite-based systems to line up for the correct runway. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said Thursday that the agency also will require two controllers in the airport tower during busy late-night periods. Only one controller was working during the Air Canada incident. The FAA is making changes after two Air Canada pilots mistakenly lined up a jet to land on a taxiway, sort of a side road that four other planes were using to reach the runway. The Air Canada pilots were cleared to land on runway 28-right. A parallel runway, 28-left, was closed and its lights were turned off. Instead of landing on the runway, the Airbus A320 flew over the taxiway for about a quarter-mile, dipping as low as 59 feet above the ground — barely higher than the tails of the other planes, which were filled with hundreds of passengers ready to take off. The Air Canada pilots aborted their landing just in time to avoid disaster. They circled around and eventually landed safely. Runway 28-left has since reopened, but runways are routinely closed overnight for maintenance work, said airport spokesman Doug Yakel. The incident is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board. It said the pilots told investigators that they didn't recall seeing planes on the taxiway 'but that something did not look right to them.' Air Canada declined to comment and would not say whether the pilots were still flying for the airline. ___ David Koenig can be reached at http://twitter.com/airlinewriter .
  • Paying bills is a tedious necessity, and for many, it’s also an ongoing source of stress. According to the 8th annual Billing Household Study from Fiserv, a financial services provider, 35% of consumers paid at least one bill late in the past 12 months, and 65% also paid a late fee. Read more: Most people who ask can get late fees waived, interest rates lowered So, why are these people struggling to meet their billing deadlines? Common reasons include forgetfulness, lack of funds and personal life obligations. If any of these reasons sound familiar, it might be a good idea to consider how your billing due dates factor into the equation. These are five ways requesting a timeline shift from your providers could could really benefit you. How changing the deadlines can benefit you 1. Saving money Late fees are the immediate consequence of missed payments, but the financial woes don’t stop there. Frequent missteps can lead to increased interest rates on your revolving accounts (like credit cards), driving up your balances and making it more difficult to get out of debt. Paying your bills on time can help you avoid these issues and ultimately save money. 2. Promoting credit health Payment history is the greatest factor considered in credit scoring, and you can’t afford to ignore the effects of late payments. According to Equifax — one of the three major credit bureaus in the U.S. — even a 30-day late payment can damage your credit significantly. In contrast, paying your bills on time can help give you a strong payment history and benefit your credit. Not only that, but keeping your debt level low in relation to your overall credit limit (also known as credit utilization) can benefit your credit scores. Experts recommend keeping your debt below at least 30% (ideally 10%) of your total available credit, which can be hard to do if you’re tacking on late fees. (You can see how your credit is currently fairing by viewing two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.) Read more: 5 sneaky ways to increase your credit score 3. Removing memory from the equation According to a 2013 Citigroup survey, 61% of people miss bill payments due to forgetfulness. Coordinating your payments to fall on the same days each month — the 1st and 15th for example — gives you a better chance of remembering your financial commitments. If you still fear memory troubles, it might be a good idea to sign up for bill auto-pay to remove human error from the equation. Most credit and service providers offer this option for free, but you’ll want to check with your individual provider to be sure. Read more: 6 easy money tips for forgetful and unorganized people 4. Streamlining the payment process Fiserv’s survey found that consumers pay bills using a variety of methods and doing so could contribute to making it hard to keep track of all your bills and their due dates. According to Fiserv: Consumers used six different payment methods per month in 2015, up from 2.9 methods in 2014. A reported 21 million households changed their bill payment method on a monthly basis in 2015, a 40% increase from the previous year. Of those who participated in the study, 21% still receive all paper bills, while 54% use a mixture of paper and online/mobile options — 25% consider themselves paperless consumers. By changing your billing due dates, you may also feel inspired to commit to a consistent method of payment. Doing so could help you track spending and streamline your monthly finances, helping you keep those bills paid on time (and those credit scores in great shape). 5. Preserving credit repair This may not apply to everyone, but to those it does, it’s a big one. Recovering from past credit damage is an extreme challenge, but that’s especially true if you don’t change the behaviors that contributed to the downfall of your scores. In fact, preserving your scores could be more difficult as it improves. Typically, a single late payment made a few years ago won’t still be hurting your credit today, as long as you rebounded and have made consistently timely payments. Of course, on the other hand, a recent late payment could drop your scores. Read more: Can credit repair companies really raise your score? How to change due dates Changing your billing due dates can usually be done with a simple request, which can be done online, on the phone phone or in person. Although credit and service providers aren’t legally required to make this type of shift, explaining your reasons and commitment to timely payments could work in your favor. Reasons credit scores can drop | Common Cents More from Credit.com What is a Good Credit Score? This article originally appeared on Credit.com. Related Articles from clark.com: What to delete when your phone runs out of storage space Read More Disney is hiring and you can work from home Read More National parks lifetime passes for seniors are about to get a lot more expensive Read More
  • Comcast has introduced a new wireless service, Xfinity Mobile, with an unlimited plan priced at $45 a month per line. According to a news release, Xfinity Mobile runs on America’s largest, most reliable 4G LTE network — which is Verizon — and uses Comcast’s 16 million Wi-Fi hotspots for a better wireless experience. Customers must have residential Xfinity internet service to take advantage of the mobile deal. Read more: This Verizon rewards perk is going away Comcast’s $45/month unlimited cell phone plan The $45 unlimited talk, text and data plan (reduced speeds after 20 GB) is priced $20 lower than it was initially and has no line access fees for up to five lines. Taxes and fees are extra. In addition to the unlimited plan, customers who don’t use a lot of data can pay $12 per GB every month. Comcast says customers can switch back-and-forth between the two data options at no cost. This may seem like a great deal so far, but there’s a downside: You can’t bring your own phone. “We’re unable to support phones that are purchased independently or through other carriers — we can’t guarantee that they’ll work, and we can’t provide technical support if they don’t,” Comcast’s website states. “The phones that are available through XFINITY Mobile were selected to work optimally with our network, so that we can provide you with the best possible XFINITY Mobile experience.” Devices available for sale through Xfinity Mobile include the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S8 — as well as two under $200 options from LG, X charge and X power. So, if you’re already happy with your Comcast internet and TV service, this may be something worth checking out. We have to mention that there are many other cell phone plans in the same price range with more phone options, including Sprint’s $50 a month deal on the first line of unlimited service. See all of your options in Clark’s guide to the best cell phone plans and deals for 2017. Your iPhone may be tracking your every move: Here’s how to delete the data! Related Articles from clark.com: What to delete when your phone runs out of storage space Read More Disney is hiring and you can work from home Read More National parks lifetime passes for seniors are about to get a lot more expensive Read More
  • It took bloodshed in Charlottesville to get tech companies to do what civil rights groups have been calling for for years: take a firmer stand against accounts used to promote hate and violence. In the wake of the deadly clash at a white-nationalist rally last weekend in Virginia, major companies such as Google, Facebook and PayPal are banishing a growing cadre of extremist groups and individuals for violating service terms. What took so long? For one thing, tech companies have long seen themselves as bastions of free expression. But the Charlottesville rally seemed to have a sobering effect. It showed how easily technology can be used to organize and finance such events, and how extreme views online can translate into violence offline. 'There is a difference between freedom of speech and what happened in Charlottesville,' said Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, an online racial justice group. The battle of ideas is 'different than people who show up with guns to terrorize communities.' A SLOW REACTION Tech companies are in a bind. On one hand, they want to be open to as many people as possible so they can show them ads or provide rides, apartments or financial services. On the other hand, some of these users turn out to be white supremacists, terrorists or child molesters. Keegan Hankes, analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center's intelligence project, said his group has been trying for more than a year to get Facebook and PayPal to shut down these accounts. Even now, he said, the two companies are taking action only in the most extreme cases. 'They have policies against violence, racism, harassment,' said Hankes, whose center monitors hate groups and extremism. 'The problem is that there has been no enforcement.' Case in point: The neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer has been around since 2013. But it wasn't effectively kicked off the internet until it mocked the woman killed while protesting the white nationalists in Charlottesville. SHIFTING LINE PayPal said groups that advocate racist views have no place on its service, but added that there is a 'fine line' when it comes to balancing freedom of expression with taking a stand against violent extremism. Other companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google struggle with the same balancing act. The fine line is constantly moving and being tested. Ahead of the rally, Airbnb barred housing rentals to people it believed were traveling to participate. Before and after Charlottesville, PayPal cut off payments to groups that promote hate and violence. GoDaddy and Google yanked the domain name for Daily Stormer following the rally. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are removing known hate groups from their services, and the music streaming service Spotify dropped what it considers hate bands. 'Companies are trying to figure out what the right thing is to do and how to do it,' said Steve Jones, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago who focuses on communication technology. What happens from here is 'partly going to depend on the individual leadership at these companies and company culture — and probably resources, too.' CAT AND MOUSE While traditional brands such as Tiki had no way of knowing that their torches were being bought for the rally, tech companies have tools to identify and ban people with extremist views. That's thanks to the troves of data they store on people and to their ability to easily switch off access to users. Airbnb users can link to social media profiles, and the company said it used its existing background checks and 'input from the community' to identify users who didn't align with its standards. Yet these services also allow for anonymity, which makes their jobs more difficult. Banned people can sign up again with a different email address, something they can easily obtain anonymously. Facebook spokeswoman Ruchika Budhraja said hate groups also know the site's policies and try to keep things just benign enough to ensure they are not in violation. For instance, the event page for the 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville looked fairly innocuous. Budhraja said there was nothing on the page that would suggest it was created by a hate organization. It has since been removed. Facebook's technology is designed to automatically flag posts that are on the absolute extreme and clearly violate the company's policies. They are sometimes removed before users can even see them. What Facebook can't leave to automation are posts, events and groups in that ever-growing gray area. THE BROADEST REACH The First Amendment offers hate groups a lot of speech protection, but it applies only to government and public settings. A private company is typically free to set its own standards. Christopher Cantwell, a self-described white nationalist who has been labeled an extremist by the Southern Poverty Law Center, said he was banned from Facebook, Instagram and PayPal because the companies are trying to silence him for his views. 'Everybody is going through extraordinary lengths to make sure we are not heard,' Cantwell told The Associated Press . Even Cloudflare, a security company that prides itself on providing services regardless of their content, terminated Daily Stormer on Wednesday. This appears to be the site's final blow. Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin said in an email to the AP that these private companies are 'de facto monopolies and oligopolies' and should be regulated as 'critical infrastructure.' The Daily Stormer and other banned groups could move to darker corners of the web, where extreme views are welcome. But this won't help with recruitment and won't allow them to disseminate their views as broadly as they could on Facebook or Twitter. 'These are the platforms everyone is using,' Hankes said. 'They don't want to be pushed to the margins because they want influence.' Because of that, the industry's efforts might just be a game of whack-a-mole, with extremist views returning, perhaps in different guises, once public outrage dies down. ___ Associated Press Writers Michael Casey in Concord, New Hampshire, and Michael Kunzelman in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, contributed to this report.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • Florida prisons were placed on lockdown Thursday following reports of security threats.  >> Read more trending news The Florida Department of Corrections announced that it canceled weekend visitation at all institutions for Saturday and Sunday because of a possible security threat. Correction officials said they received information that indicated small groups of inmates at several institutions would try to disrupt prison operations. The lockdown affects more than 97,000 inmates in Florida’s 151 correctional facilities, including major institutions, work camps and annex facilities. The move affects recreational and educational programs, but inmates are not confined to their cells, officials said. The cancellation does not apply to work release centers, department officials said.  
  • A group of storms east of the Caribbean has developed into Tropical Storm Harvey.   Harvey is approaching the Lesser Antilles and it is forecast to continue traveling west, officially arriving in the Caribbean Friday afternoon. It has been given a 100 percent chance of becoming a tropical cyclone over the next two days.   It’s also expected to become a hurricane by Monday morning. At this point it is no threat to Florida.   “We have entered the peak of Hurricane season, which is mid-August through late October,” said Dennis Feltgen, spokesman for the National Hurricane Center.
  • A Cleveland father is upset after he says his son was left on the school bus for hours on his first day of classes. WJW reported that Trevelle Hargrove’s 6-year-old son, Trevelle Jr.,  has special needs. Hargrove said his son fell asleep on the bus. >> Read more trending news Trevelle Jr.  said he was found after he honked the horn of the bus and jumped up and down. A spokesperson for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District said Trevelle Jr. fell asleep on the bus Monday and was there for less than an hour. His father says otherwise. “After an hour and they couldn't tell me what was going on I started to get extremely worried,” Hargrove told WJW. 'I couldn't understand why no one could tell me where my son was.” Hargrove said his son was back four hours later, at 6:30 p.m. “You can’t just forget to do things,” he said. “This isn’t like a normal job where you forget to put the straw in the bag or you forget to clock in or whatever it is you do at a normal job. You can’t do that when it comes to kids.” Hargrove said his son won’t be riding the bus again any time soon. The district is is investigating. Cleveland Metropolitan Schools Chief Communications Officer Roseann Canfora issued the following statement to WJW: “Drivers are trained to follow strict protocols for inspecting every seat at the beginning and end of their routes, and CMSD has a zero tolerance for any violation of these safety guidelines.” The bus driver has resigned. WJW reported they may be terminated pending the outcome of the district’s investigation.
  • Authorities said a terror attack in Barcelona claimed at least 13 lives on Thursday and left 80 others injured after a van slammed into pedestrians on Barcelona's popular La Rambla street. >> Read more trending news Mossos d'Esquadra, the Catalonia police force, confirmed the attack in a Twitter post around 5:10 p.m. local time.
  • Many scientists and groups across the U.S. aren’t taking Monday’s eclipse for granted - they want to learn things! There will be lots of experiments happening during the 90-minute event.  Here are just a few: 1. The eclipse movie - Volunteers from national labs and education groups will track the sun along its path using identical telescopes, which will take continuous digital pictures.  The pictures will be later spliced together to make a 90-minute movie.  So don’t fret if you can’t watch on Monday! 2. Sounds - college students at Tennessee’s Austin Peay State University, along with NASA< will measure the sound of the eclipse by setting up low-frequency radio experiments in bean fields.  They’ll capture the noise the eclipse creates and figure out how its different from normal conditions. 3. Animal behavior - Also at Austin Peay State University, scientists will be watching how crickets and cows act when the Moon covers the sun and darkens the sky.  During a solar eclipse in 1991, spiders were seen taking down their webs.  4. Solar flares - We know solar flares happen when the sun’s magnetic field causes a brief burst of intense radiation, but we don’t know enough to protect our technology from them.  During the eclipse, a group of scientists in Wyoming will attempt to take some measurements of the sun’s outer atmosphere.  Usually the sun is too bright to do this, but the eclipse should provide a good view. Want to watch the eclipse?  CLICK HERE to see where you can get free glasses.