The Catholic church is moving forward on the sainthood of Pope John Paul I, who died after just 33 days as pope. Requirements of sainthood include a miracle, which is said to be that the late pope healed an 11-year-old girl.

But as the Washington Post explained, John Paul I is more known for his death than for anything else.

The reports first said that he was discovered by a priest who also served as his personal secretary. He had died of a heart attack. After the fact, however, the Vatican disclosed that the person who found him wasn’t his personal assistant but someone else.

“Over the years, a small number of people have plunged into the case, each taking drastically different approaches — and only some hewing to the facts,” the report explained. “John Paul I’s legacy has come to be defined not only by mystery and conspiracy, but by competing attempts to set the record straight.”

He was described as a simple man, who wanted nothing more than to just be a country priest. He made it clear that he never imagined or even wanted to be the pope.

Then British crime writer David Yallop published a book exploring the case, diving into some of the questions from the public like why there had been no autopsy and why the Vatican was confused about who found him. The book concluded that “Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, a burly American who headed the Vatican Bank,” had been seen inside the Vatican at an early hour. It was a time when the church was dealing with a financial scandal involving a masonic lodge and an Italian banker.

“Marcinkus had the motive and the opportunity,” Yallop wrote.

Three years later, Archbishop John Foley, spoke with British reporter and author John Cornwell. The misreporting from the Vatican about who found him was, in part, due to their own embarrassment. It turns out a nun, a woman, found the new pope.

Cornwell had his own conspiracy theory.

“According to the narrative Cornwell developed, John Paul I’s brief pontificate had been careening toward disaster — and many in the Vatican could see it,” described the Post. “The Curia mocked the new pope as unsophisticated, childish, with a ‘Reader’s Digest-mentality.’ And he was breaking under the pressure of his role. Leaning heavily on interviews with John Paul I’s priest-secretaries, Cornwell described the pope as asking daily, ‘Why did they choose me?’ John Paul I believed his selection had been a grave mistake.”

One of John Paul I secretaries, John Magee, told Cornwell about a day the pope let a clutch of documents slip while walking on a roof-deck garden. They flew all over the rooftops below. Magee said that it was taken care of, but that John Paul I was “curled up in a fetal position on his bed” during the page collection.

But whatever conspiracy theories spread, the pope had serious health issues and was even complaining of chest pain the night before the heart attack. He “waved off his staff from calling a doctor.” Cornwell saw this as a death wish, instead of someone assuming they just had indigestion.

Stefania Falasca has been researching the story with access to “a trove of never-before-seen documents,” the Post reported. She snubbed the previous tails as “noir literature” or, as the Post characterized, tabloid trash.

“This is the longest-running fake news of the 20th century,” said Falasca.

Years later, most of those who worked with John Paul the I are gone. Those who knew him in his hometown believed that his talk of death was just about his fears of mortality, where the average age of death in the town was 60. At the same time, so much of the Christian narrative is dependent on what happens after death, the death of Christ, and the deaths of the Apostles.

But that doesn’t make the story a salacious one, as Cornwell so aptly put it.

“Let’s face it,” he said. “It’s a much better story to say that he was murdered.”

Read the full story from the Washington Post.

Republican Party Chair Ronna McDaniel suggested on Wednesday that a Christmas tree fire at Fox News was President Joe Biden’s fault.

McDaniel mentioned the tree fire after Fox News host Sandra Smith asked her for a prediction on the outcome of the 2022 midterm elections.

“What this poll is telling us is we’re going to take back the House and the Senate and the American people want a change,” McDaniel opined. “Biden is underwater. Harris’s approval is under 30% and Republicans are more trusted on three key issues: the economy, inflation and crime.”

“And these are issues we’re seeing every day on our streets, around our homes, in our communities, on the news,” she continued. “Look at your Christmas tree that was just burned down. This is a huge problem for Democrats.”

McDaniel echoed the remarks in a tweet.

Watch the video below from Fox News.

U.S. House progressives are pushing to strip Rep. Lauren Boebert of her committee assignments after the Colorado Republican suggested Minnesota’s Rep. Ilhan Omar, one of only three Muslims in Congress, was a terrorist.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) introduced a resolution Wednesday to remove Boebert from the Natural Resources Committee and Budget Committee for violating a House rule requiring members to act “in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.”

“For a Member of Congress to repeatedly use hateful, anti-Muslim rhetoric and Islamophobic tropes towards a Muslim colleague is dangerous,” Pressley said in a statement.

“Without meaningful accountability for that Member’s actions, we risk normalizing this behavior and endangering the lives of our Muslim colleagues, Muslim staffers and every Muslim who calls America home.

Asked about the resolution at a press conference on Wednesday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she was not yet ready to make an announcement on how Democrats would proceed.

“How we deal with addressing the fear that they have instilled with their Islamophobia and the rest is something that hopefully we can do in a bipartisan way,” she told reporters. Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other members of the House Democratic leadership last month called on GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy to “finally take real action against racism” in reaction to Boebert’s comments.

Boebert issues apology after suicide-bomber reference to Rep. Omar, who calls Colorado lawmaker ‘buffoon’

“I don’t feel like talking about what the Republicans aren’t doing or are doing about their members, the disgraceful, unacceptable behavior of their members,” Pelosi added

In addition to Pressley, 18 fellow House Democrats cosponsored the measure, including Cori Bush of Missouri, Rashida Tlaib and Andy Levin of Michigan, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, Hank Johnson of Georgia and Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey.

Another 15 Democrats, including Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), signed onto a statement last week calling for Boebert’s removal from committees.

A group of 62 Muslim congressional staffers and 378 “allied staffers” wrote an open letter to House leadership Wednesday calling for Congress to “categorically reject this incendiary rhetoric that endangers the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of Muslim staff.”

“Witnessing unchecked harassment of one of only three Muslim Members of Congress — and the only visibly Muslim Member — we feel that our workplace is not safe nor welcome,” the staffers wrote. “We must now come to work every day knowing that the same Members and staff who perpetuate Islamophobic tropes and insinuate that we are terrorists, also walk by us in the halls of Congress.”

The staffers signed the document with initials and did not disclose which offices they worked for, saying doing so could make them targets for abuse.

NBC News first reported on the letter.

In a video posted to Facebook late last month and since deleted, Boebert told a group of supporters that she comforted a supposedly fretful Capitol Police officer concerned about Omar’s presence on an elevator by telling the officer, “She doesn’t have a backpack, we should be fine.”

She then said she called Omar, a Minnesota Democrat and one of only four Muslims ever elected to Congress, “the jihad squad.”

Omar said in a Thanksgiving Day tweet the story was fabricated.

“Fact, this buffoon looks down when she sees me at the Capitol, this whole story is made up,” she tweeted. “Sad she thinks bigotry gets her clout. Anti-Muslim bigotry isn’t funny & shouldn’t be normalized. Congress can’t be a place where hateful and dangerous Muslims tropes get no condemnation.”

Boebert released a statement on Twitter the following day apologizing “to anyone in the Muslim community” she offended and said she reached out to Omar to discuss the incident directly.

But that conversation, a Nov. 29 phone call, went poorly.

Omar said she hoped for a direct apology, but that Boebert refused to acknowledge her comments and “instead doubled down on her rhetoric.”

Boebert said on the right-wing Newsmax network the call was an attempt to “make amends” and that Omar hung up on her after Boebert demanded Omar be the one to apologize.

The resolution to remove Boebert from committees was drafted two days later, according to a timestamp on Pressley’s office website.

A spokesman for Boebert did not return an email seeking comment Wednesday.


Ariana Figueroa contributed to this report.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 11:26 a.m., Dec. 8, 2021, to include more information about the open letter from congressional staffers.

Colorado Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: info@coloradonewsline.com. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.

Former President Donald Trump predicted this week that his supporters will become “very angry” if he decides not to run again in 2024.

Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt asked Trump about his intentions for 2024 during an interview on Wednesday.

“If Donald Trump decides not to run in 2024, who out there will that base flock to?” Hewitt wondered.

“If I do decide that, I think my base is going to be very angry,” Trump replied.

“Well, it will, but they’ll still have to find somebody,” Hewitt agreed.

“They will be very angry,” Trump repeated. “I think we have a couple of people that are, would be very good, but it’s, you know, very early.”

He then bragged that his endorsement is a “very important treasure” for Republican candidates.

“But remember this,” Trump added. “They cheat like hell in the elections. What happened should never be allowed, what happened, and we’re not forgetting it. And many things are going on right now, but we have to be careful. We have to be careful, because what they do, what they do is a disgrace.”

Since losing the 2020 election, Trump has refused to declare his candidacy for 2024, which would prevent him from coordinating with super PACs and require restrictions on fundraising.

The Wisconsin district attorney who prosecuted Kyle Rittenhouse has one regret about the trial that ended with an acquittal.

The 18-year-old Rittenhouse took the stand in his own defense for the shooting deaths of two men and the wounding of another at a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, and assistant district attorney Thomas Binger wishes he had confronted the teen gunman with graphic images of Gaige Grosskreutz “with his arm nearly blown off” and video of Joseph Rosenbaum “gasping out his least breath,” reported New York State Bar Association.

“You’re telling us that these people deserve to die, well here they are,” Binger said, explaining what he would say if he could try the case again. “Now look at them in the eye, unflinching, and own what you did. If you can’t, if you’re scared, you’re grossed out, you can’t confront that, I think that says something about your conscience, I think that says something about your beliefs here, and I think if you are not man enough to own up to what you did, then don’t you dare come in here and tell us that these people deserve to die, and you’re legally justified and doing all this.”

Binger told the bar association’s “Miranda Warnings” podcast that he did not regret charging Rittenhouse with first-degree murder, which has a higher threshold of proof than second-degree murder, because he wanted to send a message.

RELATED: Kyle Rittenhouse regrets going to Kenosha — and recoils when right-wing host ‘congratulates’ him for killing protesters

“I think the very intentional homicide is obviously a stronger charge,” Binger said. “It carries with it a mandatory life in prison, I think it’s the appropriate charge here, and I think it better crystallizes the real issue here, which is I’m not sure that I believe that defendant when he says that he had a genuine belief that he had to defend his life in that situation. I think that there’s credible evidence that suggests that he was out there essentially looking for trouble, you know, bringing a gun into a violent situation to escalate, having his own political agenda.”

“I think that he was willing to kill that night going in and willing to accept that,” he added, “so I think there’s some element of no matter what was going on around him this was potentially going to happen.”

Binger agreed with many observers that Judge Bruce Schroeder weakened his case by barring evidence of Rittenhouse’s association with the right-wing Proud Boys militant group and a video of the teen boasting that he would shoot shoplifters, but the prosecutor thought he had an opening during his cross examination to ask the defendant about that.

“He made it clear, the door was still slightly open, and when there was testimony from the defendant that I felt was opening the door and allowing … it, I felt that it was appropriate to go there,” Binger said.

READ MORE: Kyle Rittenhouse no longer enrolled in classes at Arizona State University

Schroeder ended up sending the jury out of the courtroom to admonish the prosecutor, who told the podcast that he thinks the judge was angry that he didn’t raise the issue before asking the question.

“But, of course, I’m in the middle of cross examination,” Binger said. “I can’t just pause and say, ‘Judge, I need a five-minute recess so I can ask you whether or not I can go down this line of questioning,’ and I think it can’t be overemphasized that we’re talking about a cross examination in a double homicide case. I’m sorry, but there’s a lot of leeway in that type of situation. This is a defendant who’s taking the stand and is testifying about two killings that he committed. I’m entitled to a little leeway.”

Binger also said he didn’t believe Rittenhouse was sincere when he broke down in tears.

“I think the tears were manufactured crocodile tears, and I think the jury saw right through them,” he said, “and there was no remorse for anything. He was unapologetic, no concern about the lives that he took — none of that.”

Tensions within the Make America Great Again movement are expected to be discussed in testimony before the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Ali Alexander, who The New York Times described as a “provocateur” and “a prominent organizer of the Stop the Steal rally that drew supporters of President Donald J. Trump to Washington on Jan. 6,” is scheduled to testify before the select committee on Thursday.

When Alexander was subpoenaed in October, the committee noted press reports on his efforts to overturn the election.

“According to press reports, in the weeks before the January 6th attack, Mr. Alexander made repeated reference during Stop-the-Steal-sponsored events to the possible use of violence to achieve the organization’s goals and claimed to have been in communication with the White House and Members of Congress regarding events planned to coincide with the certification of the 2020 Electoral College results,” the select committee said. Additionally, Mr. Alexander reportedly spoke at a rally on January 5th, 2021, held by the Eighty Percent Coalition at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., and led the crowd in a chant of ‘victory, or death.'”

READ MORE: Key Jan. 6 organizer to comply with Capitol riot subpoena: ‘I don’t want to go to jail’

In a copy of his opening statement obtained by The Times, Alexander denied have a role in the violence.

“I had nothing to do with any violence or lawbreaking that happened on January 6. I had nothing to do with the planning. I had nothing to do with the preparation. And I had nothing to do with the execution,” he wrote. “I did absolutely nothing wrong.”

Alexander’s opening also seeks to cast blame on Women for America First (WFAF) Chair Amy Kremer, her daughter and executive director, Kylie Kremer, and former Trump campaign official Katrina Pierson. When the three were subpoenaed in September, the select committee said Pierson was “reportedly involved in the organization of the January 5th and 6th rallies and was in direct communication with the former President about the rallies.”

“While I was actively trying to de-escalate events at the Capitol and end the violence and lawlessness, it’s important to note that certain people were nowhere to be found, including Amy Kremer, Kylie Kremer, and Katrina Pierson; essentially, the Women for America First leadership of the Ellipse Rally that was originally titled the ‘March for Trump’ in their National Park Service permit application,” his opening reads.

READ MORE: The evidence we have now about the blueprint for Trump’s coup attempt is utterly damning

“Press reports suggest they may have had their feet up drinking donor-funded champagne in a War Room in the Willard. I don’t know where they were. But they weren’t working with police trying to de-escalate the chaos like I was,” he continues. “It is my belief there may not have been a problem had that same leadership at the Ellipse event not intentionally removed instructions from the program that were supposed to be included to provide clarity on exactly where to go following the Ellipse event. When I protested the removal of those instructions, I was barred from participating as an organizer at the Ellipse event that preceded the Capitol riot. Ultimately, I was a VIP guest at the Ellipse event.”

In June, ProPublica reported organizers of the Ellipse rally found Alexander too extreme to speak.

“ProPublica has obtained new details about the Trump White House’s knowledge of the gathering storm, after interviewing more than 50 people involved in the events of Jan. 6 and reviewing months of private correspondence. Taken together, these accounts suggest that senior Trump aides had been warned the Jan. 6 events could turn chaotic, with tens of thousands of people potentially overwhelming ill-prepared law enforcement officials,” the news site reported. “Rather than trying to halt the march, Trump and his allies accommodated its leaders, according to text messages and interviews with Republican operatives and officials.”

“Katrina Pierson, a former Trump campaign official assigned by the White House to take charge of the rally planning, helped arrange a deal where those organizers deemed too extreme to speak at the Ellipse could do so on the night of Jan. 5,” ProPublica explained. “That event ended up including incendiary speeches from Jones and Ali Alexander, the leader of Stop the Steal, who fired up his followers with a chant of “Victory or death!”

In a since deleted Periscope video, Alexander took credit for planning Jan. 6 with Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Mo Brooks (R-AL) and Paul Gosar (R-AZ).

“I was the person that came up with the January 6 idea with Congressman Gosar, Congressman Mo Brooks and then Congressman Andy Biggs. We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress, while they were voting, so that who we couldn’t lobby, we could change the hearts and minds of Republicans who were in that body hearing our loud war from outside,” Alexander said.

On the morning of Jan. 6, Gosar tagged Alexander in a social media message demanding Joe Biden concede the race, even though the Democrat had decisively won and had his victory certified by the Electoral College.

Gosar dodged local reporter Brahm Resnik of KPNX-TV when asked about his relationship with Alexander.

Axios has published a report that is making some Republicans furious.

“Young Dems more likely to despise the other party,” the headline reads. It doesn’t get much better for those on the right.

The study of 850 college students finds 71% of Democrats would not go on a date with someone who voted for Donald Trump. Just 31% of Republicans surveyed said they would not go on a date with a Biden voter.

It also found four out of 10 Democrats would not shop at or support a business of Trump voters. Just seven percent of Republicans felt the same way about Biden voters.

Three in 10 Biden voters would not work for someone who voted for Trump. Just seven percent of Trump voters felt that way about a Biden-voting boss.

Some of those on the right are bristling at the results of the poll, with one pointing to the line that talks about dating as “terrifying.”

When asked if they would be friends with someone who voted for the opposing presidential candidate, more than one in three Democrats/Biden voters (37%) said no. Just 5% of Trump voters said they could not be friends with a Biden voter.

“Democrats argue that modern GOP positions, spearheaded by former President Trump — are far outside of the mainstream and polite conversation,” Axios explains.

But for those on the left it goes even deeper.

“Some have expressed unyielding positions on matters of identity — including abortion, LGBTQ rights and immigration — where they argue human rights, and not just policy differences, are at stake.”

Some conservatives reacted angrily, and others used it as a tool to bash Democrats. None appeared interested in examining the actions of the right that led to the poll results, such as working to weaponize religion, and attacking abortion, same-sex marriage, voting rights, the Affordable Care Act, mask and vaccine mandates and social distancing, Black Lives Matter and the equality of people of color, the integrity of America’s electoral systems, and Democrats themselves.

Attorney and former Trump DOJ spokesperson Sarah Isgur commented on the poll by saying it “doesn’t bode well.”

Andrew Follett, a senior research analyst at the right wing Club for Growth called the lines on dating “terrifying.”

(The Club for Growth, backed in large part by right wing anti-LGBTQ billionaire Dick Uihlein, spent $20 million “supporting 42 rightwing lawmakers who voted to invalidate” President Joe Biden’s victory, according to The Guardian.)

Former Bush 43 White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, who regularly uses Twitter as a platform to attack those on the left and liberal policies, noted that when he worked on Capitol Hill he “never cared” what party his friends belonged to.

Countless others chastised those on the left, claiming as one former Maine state senator wrote, “The party of ‘tolerance?'”

Radio host Ross Kaminsky, a former board member of the climate change denying organization Heartland Institute (which for years worked to defend Big Tobacco), offered this take on the study:

Mark Meadows will face criminal contempt of Congress proceedings after he refused to appear as ordered by a legal subpoena from the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack. The former Trump White House chief of staff initially had agreed to co-operate but his former boss reportedly was furious and Meadows quickly flip-flopped.

“The Select Committee is left with no choice but to advance contempt proceedings and recommend that the body in which Mr. Meadows once served refer him for criminal prosecution,” committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said in a letter, CNN reports.

The Select Committee on Tuesday blasted Meadows via Twitter, saying: “Mark Meadows has informed the Select Committee that he does not intend to cooperate further despite his apparent willingness to provide details about the January 6th attack, including conversations with President Trump, in the book he is now promoting and selling.”

Meadows is attempting to claim executive privilege, something legal experts say he is not entitled to do. They also say that given he is publishing a book based on his time in the White House any claims of privilege are false.

A sketch that has lain hidden for centuries under the thick layers of paint Rembrandt applied to create “The Night Watch” offers new insight into the Dutch master’s creative process, museum officials said Wednesday.

Hailing a “breakthrough” in the understanding of Rembrandt’s most famous work, Rijksmuseum director Taco Dibbits told reporters: “We always suspected Rembrandt must have made a sketch on the canvas before embarking on this incredibly complex composition, but we didn’t have the evidence.”

The sketch reveals that the artist initially planned to paint feathers on one militiaman’s helmet, and that he decided against including a sword that he had drawn between the two main figures.

“On the sketch, the feathers are clearly visible, on the painting not,” said Pieter Roelofs, the Amsterdam museum’s head of paintings. “

“Why did Rembrandt change his mind? … We don’t know,” he said. “But probably he removed the feathers because they drew too much attention as Van Cruijsbergen (the militiaman) is in the centre of the painting.”

Around 30 experts have been working on the 1642 masterpiece for two and a half years using cutting-edge imaging techniques and computer technology.

At Wednesday’s news conference, the Rijksmuseum unveiled the findings of a first phase of the project aimed at understanding the artist’s technique as well as restoring the massive work to its original brilliance.

“It is fascinating to see Rembrandt searching for the right composition” of the work, which is 3.8 metres high and 4.5 meters wide (12.5 x 14.8 feet) and weighs 337 kilos (740 pounds), Dibbits said. “We have discovered the genesis of ‘The Night Watch’.”

Historic restoration

Rembrandt van Rijn painted “The Night Watch” in 1642 after a commission by Frans Banninck Cocq, the mayor and leader of Amsterdam’s civic guard, to depict the officers and other members of the militia.

Since the project kicked off in July 2019, millions of visitors have been able to observe the historic restoration work in real time at the Rijksmuseum, where it is protected by a glass casing in the centre of the museum’s main gallery.

The painting has suffered many travails over the centuries.

In 1715, large chunks of the work were sliced off the edges so that it could fit into a new venue.

Thanks to a reconstruction based on a small 17th-century copy, the missing sections were restored to the work using artificial intelligence earlier this year.

The painting was stabbed by a man with a knife in 1911, was hidden in a bunker when Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands, then was slashed by another knifeman in 1975 and sprayed with acid in 1990.

The current multi-million-euro “Operation Night Watch” is the most extensive research and restoration project to tackle the masterpiece.

In the next phase, which kicks off on January 19, experts will study deformations in the painting’s upper left corner.

They will also decide whether to carry out a complete or partial restoration.

“In many areas the paint is still in an excellent state,” the museum said in a press release, adding that other areas “are in poor repair… It is more than likely.. that the removal of varnish in the past led to the dissolving of paint at some locations.”

Roelofs told the news conference: “The condition of the painting is what you would expect from an almost 400-year-old painting, but nowhere does the condition set alarm bells off.”

Meanwhile, also on Wednesday the Dutch government said it would contribute 150 million euros ($170 million) to bring a Rembrandt self-portrait set to be sold by the Rothschild family back to the Netherlands.

Paris had said Tuesday that it would allow a sale on the open market even though the 1636 work titled “The Standard-Bearer” and valued at 165 million euros is classed as a “national treasure” in France.

If the Dutch parliament approves the 150 million euros of public cash, the Rembrandt Association would add 15 million euros to the pot and the Rijksmuseum would fund 10 million.

© 2021 AFP

Instagram’s boss faces a grilling Wednesday from US lawmakers after damning press reports based on leaked internal research showed the photo-sharing app could harm its young users.

Adam Mosseri’s testimony comes as the social media networks under Facebook parent Meta battle a crisis sparked by the company’s own documents, and which have rekindled a years-old US push for regulation.

The documents leaked to reporters, lawmakers and regulators by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen include research from 2019 that found Instagram makes body image issues worse for one in three teenage girls.

Another report, from 2020, revealed that 32 percent of teenage girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made it worse.

Facebook has pushed back fiercely against a string of Wall Street Journal reports based on the findings, and a subsequent series for a US media consortium, arguing its research was mischaracterized.

Senators Richard Blumenthal and Marsha Blackburn are leading the hearing, the latest in a series probing how social media could be making teens feel worse about themselves.

“My conversations with parents have deeply moved me to fight for… reforms and demand answers that the whole nation is seeking,” Blumenthal said Tuesday.

Facebook has bounced back from other scandals like the one involving Cambridge Analytica, a British consulting firm that used the personal data of millions of Facebook users to target political ads.

In that case, CEO Mark Zuckerberg went to Washington to apologize and the company agreed to a $5 billion settlement with US regulators.

However, the leading social media network faces at least one investigation spurred by the latest crisis: a consortium of US states announced in November a probe of Meta’s techniques for enticing young users and the potential resulting harms.

On the eve of Wednesday’s hearing before a Senate commerce subcommittee, Instagram announced new protections for young users like suggesting a break if they have been spending a lot of time on the platform.

The timing of the announcement drew a wary reception from lawmakers, who questioned whether it was an effort at distraction ahead of the hearing.

Stephen Balkam, founder and CEO of advocacy group Family Online Safety Institute, said pre-hearing announcements are a Washington tradition but noted they won’t make the app’s problems go away.

“Instagram is safer than it was. I think Instagram is less toxic for teens than it was. But it will never be perfect, it will never be fully safe. But then that’s true of all social media,” he told AFP.

© 2021 AFP