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Don Martin: The prime minister talks turkey in a political address to the nation – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
What. Was. THAT??

A prime minister calling for time across Canadian airwaves is a BIG DEAL and thus very rarely done.

It’s not allowed to be political posturing. It’s supposed to be a five-alarm siren on a matter of national significance from a prime minister who believes urgent information must be fed directly into Canadian ears.

So what does Justin Trudeau do when his demand for 15 minutes of unedited access to the airwaves was granted under the assumption it NOT be political?

In that weird breathlessness he saves for his most dramatic conversations, Trudeau warned Canadians their Thanksgiving turkey is likely cooked by the coronavirus and they might as well cancel the family feast now. Then he dangled the faint hope of Christmas salvation IF we wear masks, download the government COVID-19 tracking app and get a flu shot.

That glum scenario hardly qualifies as news-bulletin material being released by a leader with unique insights to share. It barely rates as a news story, being the parroting of what public health officials have already said about the second wave being upon many of us.

And then Trudeau dived into an overtly-partisan listing of government actions already taken and those to come, provided the throne speech gets passed by Parliament.

It was political grandstanding masked as a public service message, a transparent and shallow attempt to paste Trudeau’s face over the throne speech highlight reel instead of leaving all the television clips to a disinterested reading by scandal-tainted Gov. Gen. Julie Payette.

Not to be outdone with this flexing of prime ministerial power, Trudeau’s opposition rivals jumped on the free political advertising bandwagon with highly partisan televised reactions of their own.

Clearly the last week or two have given Canadians an ominous preview of COVID cases building into a tsunami-sized wave on case projection charts.

It’s an emerging emergency which could’ve justified a national address, provided Trudeau’s 6,000-word action plan had not been read to rapture-level media coverage just four hours earlier.

All he did in the prime-time address was echo the throne speech’s pandemic as priority one and repeat the ways his government will help millions of Canadians through the approaching winter of self-isolation discontent.

To be fair, the government did launch a flotilla of lifeboats aimed at keeping COVID-displaced Canadian workers, ravaged retailers, vulnerable seniors, disadvantaged women and daycare-dependent families afloat in the second wave. (The resulting deficits which will confront post-pandemic taxpayers are going to be truly staggering).

But to flesh it out with a hodgepodge of less-urgent, undelivered or oft-repeated priorities dilutes an agenda which should be almost solely fixated on the medical and economic trauma this country is facing.

For example, it’s a safe bet Canada will be two billion trees shy of the two billion trees this government again promised to plant in the Wednesday speech by the time we head to the polls. That and most of the other non-pandemic initiatives will be quickly moved to the back-burner.

But, getting back to the address, for Trudeau to graft his message onto the throne speech was blatant duplication for purely political purposes.

Trudeau and the other party leaders will get their opportunity for an official Hansard-recorded reaction to the throne speech in the House of Commons on Thursday.

What more Trudeau can say after his urgent national address the day before is hard to imagine, unless he’s about to scare off Hallowe’en as well.

Here’s hoping the next time Trudeau demands access to the nation’s airwaves, the networks will say his turkey was cooked in 2020 when he deemed a threat to Thanksgiving worthy of a national broadcast alert.

Then they should tell Trudeau they’ll wait and air his Christmas greeting instead.

That’s the bottom line.

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Politics Podcast: There Just Isn’t Good Evidence That ‘Shy’ Trump Voters Exist – FiveThirtyEight

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This is the final(!) preelection installment of Model Talk on the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast. Galen Druke talks to editor-in-chief Nate Silver about the latest polling shifts in key battleground states and whether there is any reason to believe that “shy Trump voters” will deliver an upset win for the president on Election Day. (The evidence suggests there isn’t.)

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast is recorded Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

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78 seconds that will actually make you feel good about politics – CNN

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And because we are dealing with Donald Trump, all of that normal end-of-campaign stuff has been made much, much worse. Trump is at the say-anything-and-do-anything stage of the campaign — particularly as polling suggests he is a clear underdog in Tuesday’s election.
Amid all of the darkness and terrible-ness (not a word, but you get the point) I’m here to offer you a reminder that not everything is, in fact, totally awful. And that politics can sometimes be a noble pursuit taken on by people committed to public service.
Which brings me to an ad that Minnesota Democratic Gov. Tim Walz who posted on his Twitter feed on Thursday. It features Walz as well as his three most recent predecessors in the job, Mark Dayton, Jesse Ventura and Tim Pawlenty — urging Minnesotans to vote.
That’s four governors from three different parties(!) making a call for call for calm and civility in this wildest of moments.
The four governors assured Minnesotans that a delay in announcing a winner is a) expected and b) proof the system is working. (Contrast that with President Trump’s repeated insistence that the election “should END on November 3rd,” like he tweeted on Friday).
“Our state is proud to have one of the safest and most secure election systems in the country,” says former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
“You can have faith that your vote will be counted,” says former Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.
“With so many of us voting by mail, it may take a little longer to verify a winner,” says Walz.
“And that’s OK. It’s by design,” says Pawlenty.
“A delay just means that our system is working and that we’re counting every single ballot,” says former Reform Party governor Jesse Ventura.
Imagine that. Political leaders — both current and former — acting like, well, leaders. Educating the public rather than trying to skew reality for their own political benefit. (Worth noting: All four governors are shown walking in with their masks on, and putting them back on ant the end of the video.)
That a message like this feels so stunning and so different serves as a reminder of just how far Trump — and his decidedly unpresidential approach to the presidency — has changed our expectations from our leaders over these past four years. It was once common ground for politicians of all stripes to urge citizens to a) vote and b) know that their vote was fairly counted. Trump has chosen, for political reasons, to make war on that most basic of democratic assumptions as well as virtually every other “norm” including the guidelines set to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
“25,000, people want to be there, and they say you can only have 250 people, so they thought I’d cancel,” Trump carped on Friday about a campaign rally in, you guess it, Minnesota. “But I’m not canceling.”
Politics doesn’t have to be utterly awful and soul-crushing. It can be unified and, dare I say it, uplifting. Watch the Minnesota governors’ ad. And remember how things once were — and could be again.

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U.S. election: How COVID-19 misinformation is being weaponized in politics – Global News

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Social media platforms are being used to downplay the threat of the coronavirus and push back on COVID-19 restrictions in the leadup to the 2020 U.S. election.

In a global pandemic, inaccurate information not only misleads but could also be a matter of life and death if people start taking unproven drugs, ignoring public health advice or refusing a coronavirus vaccine when one becomes available.

Read more:
Health misinformation gets billions of views on Facebook amid coronavirus, report says

A very dangerous element of all of this misinformation is distrust in institutions, in media and in democracy,” said Luca Nicotra, a disinformation researcher with non-profit research and activism foundation Avaaz.

“And this has very clear effects, for instance on vaccination rates. We have already seen how Facebook and other social media have promoted the rise of the anti-vaccination movement all around the world.”

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A study by his organization found that content from the top 10 websites spreading health misinformation had almost four times as many views on Facebook than websites providing evidence-based information, like public health institutions such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read more:
Nearly half of Canadians can’t tell coronavirus fact from conspiracy theory, survey finds

Nicotra says this has a lot to do with Facebook’s business model.

“Facebook is not a neutral platform. So basically, every time a user logs in, its algorithm decides what you see from the thousands of posts of all the pages you like or the friends you have. It selects the one that it believes will keep you in the platform the most,” he said.

“And what Facebook knows, (CEO Mark) Zuckerberg himself has said that they know that its algorithm, if left unchecked, will promote in a user’s timeline, divisive, sensationalist content and disinformation.”

Read more:
Coronavirus conspiracies pushed by Russia, amplified by Chinese officials, experts say

Despite all evidence, strong rhetoric downplaying the risks associated with COVID-19 has been endorsed at the highest levels of the U.S government.

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According to a study by Cornell University, President Donald Trump has been the world’s biggest driver of COVID-19 misinformation during the pandemic.

A team from the Cornell Alliance for Science looked at 38 million articles published by English-language, traditional media worldwide between Jan. 1 and May 26 of this year.


Click to play video 'Coronavirus: COVID-19 and the fear fueling conspiracy theories'



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Coronavirus: COVID-19 and the fear fueling conspiracy theories


Coronavirus: COVID-19 and the fear fueling conspiracy theories

And misinformation is increasingly moving offline and spilling over into the streets in the form of protests or sometimes aggressive refusals to follow social distancing restrictions.

In April, thousands of people gathered at Michigan’s state capitol to protest executive orders issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that shut down most of the state.

Trump openly encouraged such protests, tweeting, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”

A group of men known as the Wolverine Watchmen, said to have been motivated by Whitmer’s actions to limit the spread of COVID-19, have been arrested on conspiracy charges, accused of plotting to kidnap the Michigan governor.

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Read more:
FBI foils plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Trump has admitted to downplaying the pandemic, continuing to do so even after he was diagnosed with COVID-19 — fuelling the growing coronavirus-denial movement.

“His success in responding or reacting personally to COVID that is now being fed into those conspiracies as well, that it proves that it’s a hoax, that it’s not nearly as serious as we went on it was,” said Barbara Perry, the director of Ontario Tech University’s Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism.

And with Facebook’s algorithm trying to keep people on its platform for as long as possible, it’s no surprise that what keeps people engaged are sensational posts often full of false information.

“So Facebook’s responsibility then comes from the inaction on not constraining the algorithm (from going into) these black holes,” Nicotra said. “That, really, in the best case, radicalizes people. In the worst case, during a global pandemic like the one we are in the middle of, really, it puts people’s lives in danger.”

Read more:
Is Facebook ready for the U.S. presidential election?

Facebook has not responded to Global News’ request for comment but it has made an effort to label posts with warning notices about coronavirus misinformation — including posts by politicians.

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But advocates say it’s not enough.

One idea set forth by Nicotra’s foundation is that when Facebook deems a post false or dangerous, it should not only add a warning on the initial post but also when someone shares it, sending them notifications that what they have shared is untrue.

There’s also a push to downgrade the algorithm, says Nicotra, so that when a post is verified false, its reach is automatically decreased.

And as we get closer and closer to the U.S. election and important COVID-19 regulations are debated, access to fact- and science-based information is more important now than ever.


emanuela.campanella@globalnews.ca

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