“Dancing is essential.”
Dozens of anti-mask demonstrators gathered outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery on New Year’s Eve to protest the B.C. government-imposed restrictions related to COVID-19.
And to dance, apparently.
The NYE Freedom Rally Dance Party kicked off around 8 p.m. outside of the Art Gallery and featured guest speakers, live music, a kid’s corner, dance parties, and more. A flyer for the event states that the group opposes the government orders and “will celebrate the new year!”
The evening also included an appearance by former Vancouver Canucks national anthem singer, Mark Donnelly.
Donnelly made a previous appearance at a local anti-mask rally and was subsequently fired from his longtime position with the Canucks.
Protestors included members of various groups, including Hugs Over Masks, 5G and QAnon conspiracy theorists, anti-vaccine advocates, and more. They held signs that read “freedom is essential,” “false evidence appearing real,” “we are all essential,” and “fake news.”
At least one sign added that “dancing is essential,” too.
After the count down to New Year’s Eve, protestors screamed out “freedom” in the crowd.
— Alex Yelizarov (@alxyeee) January 1, 2021
Protestor allegedly bites Vancouver Police officer
A short while after at 11:30 p.m., the VPD says officers responded to a call for a protestor who was climbing on top of one of the statues on site.
While police were escorting the individual off the property, she allegedly bit one of the officers. The woman was charged with assaulting a police officer.
“Anti-Mask” sentiment in Metro Vancouver and beyond
In a COVID-19 daily briefing, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry underscored that she has “no time for people who are belligerent” and try to downplay the severity of the pandemic, or deny that COVID-19 exists.
“This is a truly challenging pandemic and I have no time for people who believe that wearing a mask somehow makes them ill or is a sign of lack of freedom,” she said.
“To me, it’s about respect for our fellow people who are suffering through this with us.”
The art of 'leaking' in the Japanese government – The Japan Times
PYEONGTAEK, SOUTH KOREA – Last week, a “senior member” of the ruling coalition fueled a breaking story in The Times that then garnered a Reuters headline story, and subsequently grew legs across the information space. That official reportedly intimated that Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito leaders had already come to the conclusion that the Tokyo Olympics would have to be canceled, and that they are only looking for a face-saving way out. Assuming this official was both senior and “in the know,” as reported, why would he or she leak such sensitive information?
A leak is an unauthorized release of classified or sensitive information, commonly to the press. While leaks can happen in the private sector, the term is most often associated with governments. Importantly, leaks do not have to be true — they just have to be perceived as factual by the individuals reporting them.
Most governments have leaks, whether intentional or unintentional. Further, the motives, manner and types of sources behind those leaks are generally the same no matter where you go, though there are features unique to each government. The story of the ruling coalition leaker offers a good case study for examining the art of leaking in the Japanese government.
Two caveats are necessary here: First, scoops do not have to rely upon leaks. Sometimes a hard-hitting story is simply the product of great reporting, where journalists have put in the hard yards to research the situation, interview critical players involved and corroborate evidence. Other times, not so much, and in Japan, sometimes those scoops are handed out on a platter.
The second caveat is that leaks are not the same as whistleblowing. Whistleblowing is the exposure of fraud, waste, abuse or other illicit activity that may be taking place — whether in the public or private sector. The fundamental aim of whistleblowing is to right a wrong; leaking is something else entirely.
With those two caveats in mind, the questions then are how do leaks happen and why?
In Japan, there are four typical categories of leakers that make the press: Liberal Democratic Party officials (aka “ruling party members”); Komeito officials (often referred to as “ruling coalition members”); members of the Cabinet or high-level staffers (senior administration official); and bureaucrats (“government sources” or “government officials” in media parlance). The important thing to consider here is how close to the issue the leaker actually is. For example, if the issue is about internal LDP dealings, a government official will not be the most reliable source, and the same goes for an unnamed ruling party member leaking information about interagency policy coordination.
There are four basic motives for leaking information. The first is to shape policy decisions. One way to do that is during a negotiation, where you might leak information that either curries public support for your favored position or generates backlash against the other side’s position. The goal is to make your position stronger and/or paint the other side into a corner in the public eye.
Another way leaks can shape policy is that they can serve as trial balloons for potential decisions. Here’s how it works: You float an idea that the government may be contemplating but fears backlash on if the decision went public. You then get to see how that decision might play in the public, while the government remains insulated because it can simply disavow the leak as false.
The second motive for leaking is to deliver a strategic signal. There is classified information that cannot be publicly released but could send a strong signal to a potential partner or adversary if even a snippet of it made it into the press. An example here is when defense officials leak details about military plans, as has happened in Japan in the past. Those officials may simply have been seeking to send a message saying, “We are watching you (insert adversary’s name), and we have a plan in place in case you cross the line.”
The third motive is to undermine a political opponent. This could be a bureaucrat that was scorned and did not get a desired promotion. It could be someone who wants to knock down a potential obstacle to advancement within the party. It could be someone who merely wants to eliminate a potential threat. The leaks in those cases are done with specific targets in mind and their goal is to drag down public approval, to spark an investigation or to discredit someone.
The fourth motive leads to what many refer to as “vanity leaks.” Vanity leakers want to appear important to others — to show that they are someone in the know. They also may want to increase their perceived value in a relationship, whether it is professional or personal. They leak information with no other motivation than to elevate their own standing; hence, the use of the term, “vanity.”
The manner in which these leaks occur differs depending on the source, but in Japan, there are two important types of relationships that contribute to leaks. The first exist in Japan’s Kisha Clubs. While there are press clubs throughout the world, the institutionalized features of Japanese Kisha Clubs affect the way stories are scooped or suppressed. Every major ministry and agency has its own Kisha Club with offices on the premises. Members of the club include reporters from the major domestic print, television and radio news outlets, and those registered members can cultivate relationships with bureaucrats, search for scoops and eavesdrop. Of course, this is where the government can leverage its power, either in suppressing stories by threatening to evict journalists from the club or by intentionally leaking information to Kisha Club members for them to generate scoops.
The other relationships that contribute to leaks in Japan are school ties. One thing that the Liberal Democratic Party, the Japanese bureaucracy and major domestic news outlets have in common is that a large percentage of their respective personnel graduated from Japan’s so-called “Ivy League” schools like Tokyo University, Keio, Waseda, Kyoto University, etc. Those school ties carry weight, especially in the political world, and there tends to be at least routine interaction at dinner and drinking parties, reunions, and other modes of social interaction. Each of those touch points offer an opportunity for leaks, as do the long-standing personal relationships that may exist between classmates.
Of course, there are always unintentional leaks, meaning the person or organization divulging the information did not intend for a reporter to publish it. There are protocols in place to prevent that. Most people are aware of the phrases “on the record” and “off the record,” but there is also “on background,” which is where a government source agrees to be quoted as an unnamed official (e.g. “a senior member of the ruling coalition”) and “on deep background,” which is where a source provides information to a journalist for contextual purposes only. Finally, there are embargoes, which is where an organization releases information to the press in advance of a formal announcement with the promise that the news organization will not release any stories on it until an appointed time.
Probably the most common form of unintentional leaks in Japan come from violations of embargoes. In the Japanese government, it is common for major domestic news outlets to break stories the night before a major government announcement. That is because whenever there are important press releases scheduled, bureaucrats will circulate briefing documents to members of the Kisha Clubs — typically the night before. This is done as a courtesy to allow reporters to prepare questions and articles with the tacit understanding that they will honor the embargo until the designated time. But precedent in Japan shows that major news outlets tend to spill at least some of the details in advance. This can be exceedingly frustrating for foreign partners, who see Japanese news outlets broadcasting details of a carefully crafted joint communique as much as eighteen hours in advance of the negotiated release time.
So, why is all this information on leaks important?
Knowing how leaks work in Japan offers an understanding how to read these stories about Japanese politics and government. It gives you a clear eye on their validity and what might be at play behind the scenes. In a time of both misinformation and too much information, every tool for discerning truth and sifting what is meaningful from what is sensational is critical.
Dr. Michael MacArthur Bosack is the special adviser for government relations at the Yokosuka Council on Asia-Pacific Studies. He previously served in the Japanese government as a Mansfield fellow.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
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Upcoming contemporary art exhibit featuring a collection of overlapping drawings as 'illegible, messy scribbles' – Kelowna News – Castanet.net
A Kelowna-based artist is showcasing a new type of art exhibit, focusing on a collection of overlapping drawings that are illegible, messy scribbles for contemporary art.
The Iranian-Canadian artist, Aileen Bahmanipour, has created what she expresses as ‘useless drawings that contradict the very purpose of drawing, which is to have something the viewer is able to see.’
Described as both ‘an image-maker and image-breaker,’ Bahmanipour, exhibit if one that took inspiration from milling machines, extraction tools, and other similar industrial machines that separate particles from materials.
The Wasting Techniques exhibit hosts a series of complex drawings are on clear acetate sheets and will also be sprayed regularly with a spitting machine, which will overtime wash away the drawings and turn them into stains on the floor.
The exhibit also includes multiple ways for visitors to interact with the exhibition, either in person or over a live stream. Two cameras have been set up by the artist, one in front of the transparent sheet and one behind.
“We are intrigued to see the evolution of this exhibition over the next 6 weeks as the artworks change and transform from the spitting machine. Bahmanipour has created an exhibition that avoids being static by not only the transformative quality of the work, but the multiple access points for visitors to experience it,” Artistic and Administrative Director, Lorna McParland said in a press release.
Wasting Techniques will be on view in the Main Gallery of the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art from Jan. 29 to March 13, 2021.
Visitors will also have an opportunity to learn more about Bahmanipour with an upcoming artist talk with them via zoom on Feb. 18. To learn more and register to participate, visit the Alternator Centre’s website.
Weekend Round-Up: Stylish Set-Dressing, Madden Strategy, And Parisian Art – HODINKEE
Peter Schjeldahl has been the head art critic at The New Yorker since 1998. I would be lying to you if I said I was a frequent reader of his work, but I’ve always made it a point to bookmark his criticism when I stumble across it. That doesn’t mean I always return to it, mind you, but his writing generally ends up saved inside a perpetually growing list of need-to-read tabs on my laptop, waiting for me to grow restless enough to come back to it. This week, I opened up one of his more recently published pieces, The Art Of Dying, from December 2019. In this thoughtful piece of self-reflection, Schjeldahl discusses a recent lung cancer diagnosis, his years of sobriety, and how he’s lived his life thus far. Nothing is normal these days, and Schjeldahl’s writing here reminds us that we’re all nothing but a sum of our personal experiences and that how we tell our story truly matters. I highly recommend it.
– Logan Baker, Editor, HODINKEE Shop
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