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MANDEL: Media should be allowed to observe Marco Muzzo parole hearing – Toronto Sun

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The most important people — the offender’s victims — have now been allowed to participate remotely in Canada’s parole hearings.

The Parole Board of Canada has finally done the right thing and found a way for victims to call in to hearings during the current pandemic. And that is a very welcome reversal.

But it doesn’t go far enough.

The parole board will continue to exclude media observers, which means the public is shut out as well.

So when Marco Muzzo makes his bid for release next week, we aren’t allowed to hear how — or if — he has changed since the last time the drunk driving killer of four was denied parole in November 2018.

We aren’t privy to whether his corrections team believes Muzzo is now ready to rejoin society after serving over four years of his ten-year sentence. We won’t hear whether he finally admits to a problem with alcohol — after denying any such issues at his last hearing — and what he’s done to address it.

If Muzzo wants to move back into the community, surely that community has a right to hear why he thinks he deserves a second chance to go on with his life — especially when his selfish actions stole away the lives of four others.

After landing by private jet from his Miami bachelor party and with almost three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system, Muzzo got behind the wheel of his Jeep Cherokee and headed home to Woodbridge.

Jennifer Neville-Lake’s three children, parents and grandmother were heading home as well on that sunny September day in 2015 when Muzzo blew through a stop sign and T-boned their minivan.

Killed were Gary Neville, 65, Daniel Neville-Lake 9, brother Harrison, 5 and sister Milagros, 2.

Muzzo pleaded guilty and in 2016 was sentenced to a stiff 10-year term. He’s been serving time in minimum-security at Beaver Creek Institution in Gravenhurst and has been eligible for full parole since May 2019.

Due to COVID-19, the board understandably moved to virtual hearings last month. Less understandably, it announced that observers, including victims, would not be allowed to participate.

Since Mar, 20, Neville-Lake had been asking about virtual options so she can join the hearing for the man who killed her father and children. She was repeatedly told there was an issue with secure phone lines.

It took weeks of lobbying and outrage from the public for the board to reverse its position and announce that yes, victims can phone in after all.

“Thank you for all your support. When we work together we are stronger,” Neville-Lake tweeted. “We matter too. Victims rights matter!”

More than anyone, she and her family deserve to be there, even if it’s only through a telephone line. But it’s difficult to understand why the media won’t be allowed to dial in as well. The Ontario Superior Court now allows reporters to listen to hearings via teleconference. The College of Physicians and Surgeons allows the same.

The technology exists.

Inquiries to the parole board are met with the same usual answer — reporters can register to receive a written decision. But following Muzzo’s last hearing, a ruling wasn’t released until 13 days later.

For those of us who attended the hearing, though, we had the context to explain why he’d been turned down just three years into his sentence. We heard Muzzo in his own startling words muse that it would take eight or so shots before he’d consider himself impaired.

Being there meant we could also share the tragic victim witness statements from the family he decimated, with hopes that other potential offenders might think twice before getting behind the wheel after drinking.

There will be none of that this time.

“Not only must Justice be done,” goes the wise adage, “it must also be seen to be done.”

Instead, the public will have now have no eyes — or ears — on what transpires behind the closed doors at the Muzzo hearing.

mmandel@postmedia.com

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Creating An Amazing Outdoor Space In Your Patio

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With social distancing and outings being discouraged, you will probably want to find ways to spend time outdoors even as you are home. Why not create a small outdoor space in your patio? Believe it or not, this is easier than it sounds, provided that you have some creative ideas and some time to implement them. And incredibly, you need not spend a fortune to build an outdoor haven right in your living space. Here are some cool ideas you can put into action for making the most of your patio area.

Buy some double-duty furniture pieces

If you have a small living space, lightweight, double-duty furniture pieces make a great pick as you can use them both indoors and outdoors. A foldable bench and table are worth considering. You can buy a large stool for the living room and use it as a table in the patio. Another cool idea is to shop large throw pillows made in weatherproof fabric, which can work as floor cushions for patio gatherings.

Invest in a built-in bench

For homeowners looking for a one-time investment, having a built-in bench in your patio is the way to go. It could be concrete or wood, depending on your preference and budget. The best thing about built-in seating is that you have the flexibility- no matter how big or small the area is, you can have a bench that fits perfectly. You can even have a built-in or folding table to create an awesome dining area outdoors.

Have a patio garden

If you are a gardening enthusiast, try having your own little green space on the patio. A vertical garden makes a great idea for smaller areas. All you need is a frame that you can install on one of the walls and arrange potted plants over it. You can shop at Home Hardware sale to pick some stuff on a budget. Or perhaps, you can pick a flyer or promo code online to grab some cool deals. A small sitting arrangement in this tiny garden completes the decor.

Ensure privacy with outdoor draperies

Those who want some privacy even in their patio can use some outdoor drapery panels to keep intrusions at bay. Weatherproof curtains offer the shade and privacy you want and you have a space that is as good as an outdoor living room. However, you will need to have a wood frame or curtain rods to hang the drapery. This could take some time and investment but the result is worth the effort.

Buy an outdoor rug

Consider buying an outdoor rug if you love that floor picnic feel under the stars. This is the safest and most cost-effective option for those trying to refurbish your small patio space for the first time. Ensure that you buy a sturdy weather-proof one that can bear the brunt of outdoor weather. Something that you can wash and clean at home is a smart pick.

These are some cool and affordable ways to convert your patio into a lovely, little sitting space. Hang around some fairy lights, play your favourite music and get some snacks while you sit here and enjoy your evenings at home!

 

Author Bio: William Josh is the new editorial lead with the team Outreach Monks. His work has been featured in several magazines and news journals.

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Social media, music world go dark for Black Out Tuesday – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press


Published Tuesday, June 2, 2020 7:03PM EDT


Last Updated Tuesday, June 2, 2020 7:06PM EDT

NEW YORK – Though Black Out Tuesday was originally organized by the music community, the social media world also went dark in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, joining voices around the world outraged by the killings of black people in the U.S.

Instagram and Twitter accounts, from top record label to everyday people, were full of black squares posted in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

Most of the captions were blank, though some posted #TheShowMustBePaused, black heart emojis or encouraged people to vote Tuesday with seven states and the District of Columbia are hosting the largest slate of presidential primary elections in almost three months.

Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Radiohead, Coldplay, Kelly Rowland, Beastie Boys and were among the celebrities to join Black Out Tuesday on social media.

“I won’t be posting on social media and I ask you all to do the same,” Britney Spears tweeted. “We should use the time away from our devices to focus on what we can do to make the world a better place …. for ALL of us !!!!!”

Spotify blacked out the artwork for several of its popular playlists, including RapCaviar and Today’s Top Hits, simply writing “Black lives matter.” as its description. The streaming service also put its Black Lives Matter playlist on its front page, featuring songs like James Brown’s “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud,” N.W.A.’s “(Expletive) the Police,” Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” and Childish Gambino’s “This Is America.”

 

 

A post shared by Alicia Keys (@aliciakeys) on Jun 2, 2020 at 3:06am PDT

The opening pages of Apple Music and iTunes focused on supporting Black Lives Matter, and SiriusXM said it will be silencing its music channels for three minutes at 3 p.m. EDT in tribute to “all of the countless victims of racism.”

The company said it “will continue to amplify Black voices by being a space where Black artists showcase their music and talents, and by carrying the message that racism will not be tolerated.”

Some on social media questioned if posting black squares would divert attention away from posts about the Black Lives Matter movement.

“this is the 4th completely different flyer i’ve seen for it,” Grammy-nominated singer Kehlani tweeted about Black Out Tuesday. “”this is the only one without the saying go completely silent for a day in solidarity. the messages are mixed across the board and i really hope it doesn’t have a negative effect.“

When musician Dillon Francis posted that the hashtag for Black Lives Matter was blank on Instagram because users were posting black squares, rapper Lil Nas X responded with: “this is not helping us. bro who the (expletive) thought of this?? ppl need to see what’s going on.”

Emma Watson posted three white squares followed by three black squares with captions reading #blackouttuesday and #amplifyblackvoices on her Instagram account to show her support Tuesday. But she was heavily criticized, and began to trend on Twitter, for adding white borders around her black squares to match the esthetic of her Instagram page. Others called the actress out for speaking out too late about Black Lives Matter and for not including links to guide users on where they can learn more information about the cause or donate to it.

Several music releases and events were postponed as a result of Black Out Tuesday. Interscope Geffen A&M Records said it would not release music this week and pushed back releases from MGK, 6lack, Jessie Ware, Smokepurp and others. Chloe x Halle said its sophomore album will come out June 12 instead of Friday, while the group Glass Animals postponed the Tuesday release of its new single “Heat Waves.” Instead of being released Wednesday, singer Ashnikko will drop her song “Cry” and its video on June 17.

A benefit for the Apollo Theater will take place Thursday instead of Tuesday, and South by Southwest postponed an event planned with Rachael Ray.

“At SXSW we stand with the black community and will continue to amplify the voices and ideas that will lead us to a more equitable society,” the company said.

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Trump sued over executive order targeting social media companies – BNNBloomberg.ca

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President Donald Trump’s order targeting social media companies was challenged in court by a non-profit group that claims the edict violates free-speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Trump’s order, issued on Thursday, might undermine the legal protections enjoyed by social media companies including Twitter and Facebook. He asked federal regulators to look at provisions, contained in Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, that insulate the companies from liability for content posted by users.

The order followed on the heels of Twitter’s decision to add fact-check labels to two of Trump’s tweets. Twitter also restricted a post by the president suggesting that protesters who engaged in looting would be met with violence. Legal observers have said Trump lacks the power to modify Section 230 by executive order.

The Center for Democracy and Technology sued in Washington federal court Tuesday, claiming the order is an unconstitutional retaliation against Twitter and that it seeks to discourage other companies and individuals from disagreeing with the government.

The case is Center for Democracy and Technology v. Trump, 20-cv-01456, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

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