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Edmonton police lock out public, media from radio communications – CBC.ca

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Edmonton police have moved radio communications to an encrypted system, locking out the public and news media from tuning in through scanners.

The move to the Alberta First Responder Radio Communications System has been years in the making. But when the old system was switched off on Monday, it drew mixed opinions from some civilian listeners.

For Beverly Smith, the scanner radio was often on as a calming reminder that law enforcement was out there protecting the public.

“I feel safer because it actually helps me sleep at night — or it did help me sleep at night,” she said in an interview for CBC’s Radio Active. “Because I knew that the police were on, that they were doing what they’re supposed to do.”

Listening in to unencrypted police communications is not illegal. A community on social media has even sprouted up around eavesdropping on Edmonton’s emergency services and now boasts more than 30,000 Facebook followers.

Athena Peryk, another regular listener, started tuning in to learn what was going on in her south-Edmonton neighbourhood. She supports the move to an encrypted system.

“If I can listen, criminals can listen in too,” she said.

Radio Active5:07Edmonton’s police scanner goes silent

Longtime listeners react to that news the police scanners will now be encrypted. 5:07

It’s an argument also put forward by the Edmonton Police Service. 

“The EPS has identified numerous instances where suspects were monitoring police communications during criminal flights from police or during traffic stops that puts officers at risk,” spokesperson Patrycja Mokrzan said in a statement.

Another reason given is that information from the Canadian Police Information Centre database is sometimes relayed over radio and is a violation of CPIC and EPS policy, which requires an enhanced security clearance to access.

Additionally, the old system was “at its end of life cycle” and was no longer cost effective or completely reliable.

Mokrzan said the final decision to bar access to the public and media outlets was made in early 2020 by the chief’s committee, in consultation with legal advisers. The service has been steadily moving to the new radio system since November 2017, she said.

Issue of secrecy, says expert

Sean Holman, a professor of journalism at Mount Royal University, said the move to encrypted systems is common across jurisdictions in North America.

But Holman, who specializes in accountability in Canadian institutions, said access to police radio is important.

“It’s not simply because we want the salacious details of crimes and police activity,” he said. “It’s because if we do not know what the police are doing, then it is very difficult for the public and the media to hold the police to account for their actions.”

Police services may use other means to inform the public, such as news releases and social media, Holman said, but relying on those communications would reduce the media to “a megaphone for whatever the police wants to tell the public.”

Another reason for the lockout provided by Edmonton police is that personal information, including addresses, names, birth dates and medical information, broadcast over radio is a violation of Alberta privacy laws.

Holman disagrees with that definition of privacy.

“This isn’t a privacy issue at all, this is an issue of secrecy,” he said. “Secrecy happens when the public cannot see what the powerful people are doing — and the powerful include police.”

Holman said that lack of transparency could lead people in public institutions to feel their actions are not being seen and ultimately to corruption and incompetence.

“While this kind of secrecy may protect police in the short run, I think in the long term it is to a certain extent a negative thing.”

A spokesperson for Edmonton Fire Rescue said the service does not have any plans to move to an encrypted system and channels currently available on scanners will remain open.

In Calgary, access to police radio communications has been barred from the public but selectively provided to media outlets.

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China rescues first person from Shandong gold mine: state media – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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BEIJING (Reuters) – A gold miner was rescued in northern China on Sunday morning and rushed to hospital for treatment, state broadcaster CCTV reported, with footage showing the exhausted miner, a black blindfold across his eyes, being lifted out of a mine shaft.

The miner was “extremely weak”, CCTV said on its Weibo site. Rescue workers wrapped the barely responsive man – who had been trapped 14 days after a mine explosion – in a blanket before taking him away in an ambulance.

Twenty-two workers were trapped in the Hushan mine by the Jan. 10 blast in Qixia, a major gold-producing region under the administration of Yantai in coastal Shandong province.

One miner has died and 11 have not been in contact with rescue teams, according to a Xinhua report from last week.

The rescued miner was found in a different section of the mine from a group of 10 men who have been receiving supplies of food. Officials said on Thursday it could take another two weeks to clear “severe blockages” before they could drill shafts to reach the 10 men.

The People’s Daily reported on its news app, however, that rescuers were hoping to reach the 10 men in the mine’s 5th section on Sunday, citing the military.

Graphic: Explosion in a gold mine in northern China’s Shandong province https://graphics.reuters.com/CHINA-ACCIDENT/MINE/yxmpjynakvr/CHINA-MINE.jpg

(Reporting by Dominique Patton; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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China rescues first person from Shandong gold mine: state media – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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BEIJING (Reuters) – A miner was rescued from a gold mine in northern China on Sunday morning and rushed to hospital for treatment, state broadcaster CCTV said, after being trapped 14 days below ground by an explosion.

The miner was “extremely weak”, according to a post on CCTV’s Weibo microblog site. TV footage showed the exhausted miner, a black blindfold across his eyes, being lifted out of the mine shaft and covered in a blanket before being carried away by rescue workers.

Twenty-two workers were trapped in the Hushan mine by the Jan. 10 blast in Qixia, a major gold-producing region under the administration of Yantai in coastal Shandong province.

One miner has died and 11 have not been in contact with rescue teams, according to a Xinhua report from last week.

The rescued miner was found in a different section of the mine from a group of 10 men who have been receiving supplies of food.

Officials said on Thursday it could take another two weeks to clear “severe blockages” before they could drill shafts to reach the 10 men.

(Reporting by Dominique Patton; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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Social Media Buzz: Larry King Dies, Dr. Birx, Heathrow Crowds – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — What’s buzzing on social media this morning:

Larry King, the interviewer whose schmoozy style attracted celebrities, politicians and other newsmakers as guests and made him the star of a top-rated U.S. cable talk show, has died. He was 87.

  • King died Saturday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The cause of death wasn’t provided. The cancer and stroke survivor had spent time recently undergoing treatment for Covid-19.

Pfizer Inc. is trending on Twitter. Senior doctors in the U.K. are urging the gap between first and second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine doses be halved to ensure efficacy. The U.K. extended the maximum wait from three to 12 weeks to get more people to take the first shot. France may also delay second doses to stretch supplies.

  • Large crowds at Heathrow Airport on Friday sparked concerns of virus spread. U.K. only allows residents to travel internationally for “legally-permitted reasons.”

Dr. Deborah Birx said she “always” considered quitting Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force as she worried she’d been viewed as a political person. “I mean, why would you want to put yourself through that, um, every day?” Birx told CBS in an interview that will air Sunday, according to an advance clip. Her term ended as Biden took office.

Protests broke out in cities across Russia as tens of thousands demanded the release of jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Police detained hundreds of people.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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