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Over 50 Hong Kong democracy activists arrested under national security law: media

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By Yanni Chow and Yoyo Chow

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Over 50 Hong Kong pro-democracy activists were arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of violating the city’s national security law, local media reported, in the biggest crackdown yet against the opposition camp under the contentious new legislation.

Police also arrived at the offices of pro-democracy online media outlet Stand News, according to live footage on its website. A Stand News reporter said police had asked the editor-in-chief to sign documents related to a national security investigation. She said the media group would consult lawyers.

The dawn sweep of some of the city’s most prominent activists – some who advocated for aggressive anti-Beijing tactics but also former democratic lawmakers and other moderate voices – will further raise alarm that Hong Kong has taken a swift authoritarian turn.

The crackdown since the June imposition of the new law, which critics say crushes wide-ranging freedoms in the city, places China further on a collision course with the United States just as Joe Biden prepares to take over the presidency.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The arrests on Wednesday included former lawmakers and activists James To, Lam Cheuk-ting and Lester Shum, according to the Democratic Party’s Facebook page and public broadcaster RTHK.

Police did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Democratic Party’s Facebook page said police arrested the activists for participating in an independently organised, unofficial ballot in July 2020 to select democratic candidates for a legislature election, which the Hong Kong government and Beijing warned at the time may violate the new law.

The legislative election was due in September last year but was postponed, with authorities citing coronavirus risks. It is unclear who could run for the opposition in any future polls following the mass arrests.

The attempt to win a majority in the 70-seat city legislature, which some candidates said could be used to block government proposals and increase pressure for democratic reforms, was seen as an “act of subversion, in violation of the national security law”, the party said.

Maya Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the raids and arrests showed Chinese authorities were now “removing the remaining veneer of democracy in the city”.

“Beijing once again has failed to learn from its mistakes in Hong Kong: that repression generates resistance, and that millions of Hong Kong people will persist in their struggle for their right to vote and run for office in a democratically elected government,” Wang said.

Local media said the police operation included searches of the offices of the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (HKPORI) and lawyers who helped organise the primaries. The organisers destroyed the data of the more than 600,000 people who voted immediately after ending the count.

DISQUALIFICATIONS, EXILE

The security law punishes what China broadly defines as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in jail. When the law was introduced, authorities said it would only target a very small group of people in the former British colony of 7.5 million.

Authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing say it is vital to plug gaping holes in national security defences exposed by months of sometimes violent anti-government and anti-China protests that rocked the global financial hub in 2019.

Hong Kong was promised a high degree of autonomy unavailable elsewhere in China when it returned to Beijing rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” agreement.

Since the imposition of the security law, leading pro-democracy activists such as media tycoon Jimmy Lai have been arrested, some democratic lawmakers have been disqualified, activists have fled into exile, and protest slogans and songs have been declared illegal.

“The suppression of political freedom and freedom of speech by the national security law has risen to another level,” said Nathan Law, an activist who fled to Britain.

“Hong Kong people must remember this hatred. Anyone who is still defending the national security law and making peace is the enemy of Hong Kong people.”

Joshua Wong, 24, one of Hong Kong’s most prominent democracy activists, was one of more than a dozen young, more confrontational politicians who outshone the old guard in the unofficial democratic primaries in 2020.

Wong’s Twitter and Facebook accounts said his house was raided by police on Wednesday morning.

Wong was jailed last year on separate charges for organising and inciting an unlawful assembly during the 2019 anti-government protests.

(Reporting by Yanni Chow, Yoyo Chow, Joyce Zhou, Katherine Cheng, Jessie Pang and Clare Jim; Writing by Farah Master and Marius Zaharia; Editing by Michael Perry)

Source:thechronicleherald-ca

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Quebec media must be allowed to show the ravages of COVID-19 – CBC.ca

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Editor’s note: Nineteen media outlets in Quebec, including the CBC, have signed an open letter today calling on the Quebec government and public-health authorities to give journalists access to the province’s health institutions.


In March of 2020, the world started to grasp the magnitude of the developing public health crisis when disturbing images began to emerge from Italy.

Photos and videos showed patients crammed into hospitals, many of them intubated, while distraught doctors bore witness to the seriousness of the situation.

It was this imagery, more than any World Health Organization announcement or press release, that made people the world over aware of the gravity of the pandemic. It also helped many of them more readily accept government confinement measures.

However, in Quebec such images are exceedingly rare because government and public-health authorities have chosen to shut the doors of the province’s health institutions to the media, a restriction with little precedent in the rest of the world. 

With very few exceptions, Quebec reporters and photographers, eager to bear witness to the plight of patients and health-care staff amid the pandemic, have had their requests for access to hospitals and CHSLDs denied.

These refusals by Quebec’s regional health boards and the minister of health are all the more astonishing in light of the fact that hospital managers have often been open to media visits, while caregivers have also expressed interest in opening doors to their institutions.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 spiked in Quebec earlier this month, reaching heights not seen since spring. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

They understand that the absence of images of the pandemic allows some to minimize the severity of COVID-19, to liken its symptoms to that of the common flu, or even to diminish the need to follow public-health directives.

This is precisely why it is of utmost of importance for Quebecers to hear directly from embattled doctors, nurses and orderlies, as well as the patients they are treating, in order to accurately report the harsh realities being experienced behind those closed doors.

Health-care workers, after all, are the primary witnesses to what goes on inside our health institutions. They must be allowed to speak freely about what they are observing during this crisis.

Of course the Quebec media is acutely aware of the risks associated with COVID-19. This is why Quebec journalists have rigorously adhered to all public-health guidelines while in the field during this pandemic, and would do so just as conscientiously in any health-care setting.

In the name of freedom of information, we, the representatives of Quebec’s major media organizations, are calling on the Quebec government and public-health authorities to give journalists access to the province’s health institutions, where the battle being waged is one that affects all Quebecers.

Signatories:

Benoit Dussault, Executive Director, 24 heures 

George Kalogerakis, Editor-in-chief, Agence QMI 

Helen Evans, Managing Editor, CBC Quebec 

Melanie Porco, Supervising Producer, CityNews Montreal (Citytv) 

Chris Bury, Program & News Director, CJAD 800 

Julie-Christine Gagnon, News Director, 98.5, Cogeco News 

Jed Kahane, News Director, CTV News 

Karen Macdonald, News Director/Station Manager, Global News Montreal 

Martin Picard, Vice-President, COO of Content, Groupe TVA Inc. 

Dany Doucet, Editor-in-chief, Journal de Montréal 

Sébastien Ménard, Editor-in-chief, Journal de Québec 

François Cardinal, Deputy Publisher, La Presse  

Brian Myles, Editor, Le Devoir 

Stéphane Lavallée, General Manager, Les coops de l’information 

Lucinda Chodan, Editor, Montreal Gazette 

Luce Julien, Executive Director, News and Currents Affairs, Société Radio-Canada 

Geneviève Rossier, Editor and General manager, The Canadian Press, French service 

Xavier Brassard-Bédard, Editor-in-chief, TVA Nouvelles/LCN

Jean-Nicolas Gagné, General Manager, QUB radio

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New social media campaign targets COVID-19 misinformation with science – Global News

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Microsoft founder Bill Gates did not create the virus that causes COVID-19 and he is not forcing microchips into your body through vaccinations.

Those pieces of misinformation are examples of what a group of Canadian scientists and health professionals is trying to discredit through a new campaign tackling inaccurate theories about the pandemic.

About 40 misinformation debunkers are using the hashtag #ScienceUpFirst to provide science-based evidence on social media.

“There’s been misinformation about all kinds of things that you can do to treat COVID with crazy treatments like cow urine and bleach,” said Prof. Timothy Caulfield, Canadian research chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta.

Read more:
Misinformation is spreading as fast as coronavirus. It will ‘take a village’ to fight it

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Caulfield is spearheading the #ScienceUpFirst movement.

“And now we’re in the middle of trying to roll out the vaccine and we know that misinformation is having an adverse impact on vaccination.

“Things like the vaccine will change your DNA. No, it won’t. The idea that the vaccine is associated with infertility. No, it’s not,” Caulfield said Monday in a phone interview.

“There is just an incredible amount of misinformation out there about COVID. I’ve been studying misinformation for decades. I’ve never seen anything like this.”


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Coronavirus: Hinshaw touts safety of both COVID-19 vaccines


Coronavirus: Hinshaw touts safety of both COVID-19 vaccines

He said the campaign was already trending on Twitter on Monday, the day of its launch.

Read more:
Cabbage, cavemen and miracle cures: how fast-moving COVID-19 science can confuse the public

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Caulfield is known for taking Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness brand Goop to task in his book Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong about Everything? and a Netflix series A User’s Guide to Cheating Death.

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The initiative is in collaboration with the Canadian Association of Science Centres, COVID-19 Resources Canada, and the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta.


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Tim Caulfield Targets Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop


Tim Caulfield Targets Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop – Sep 6, 2017

“There’s been research that has shown that the spread of misinformation is having an adverse impact on health and science policy, it’s led to increased stigma and discrimination, and it’s just added to the chaotic information environment that we all have to deal with,” Caufield said.

“The evidence tells us that debunking does work if you do it well, so we’re trying to do it well. We’re trying to listen. We’re trying to be empathetic in our approach. We’re trying to be creative in our messaging and, hopefully, even if we move the needle a little bit, we can make a difference.”

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A spokesperson for #ScienceUpFirst says the campaign is pushing to involve Canadian athletes and celebrities to get the word out about tackling misinformation.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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'ScienceUpFirst': Social media campaign targets COVID-19 misinformation with science – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press


Published Monday, January 25, 2021 8:42AM EST


Last Updated Monday, January 25, 2021 5:20PM EST

EDMONTON – Microsoft founder Bill Gates did not create the virus that causes COVID-19 and he is not forcing microchips into your body through vaccinations.

Those pieces of misinformation are examples of what a group of Canadian scientists and health professionals is trying to discredit through a new campaign tackling inaccurate theories about the pandemic.

About 40 misinformation debunkers are using the hashtag #ScienceUpFirst to provide science-based evidence on social media.

“There’s been misinformation about all kinds of things that you can do to treat COVID with crazy treatments like cow urine and bleach,” said Prof. Timothy Caulfield, Canadian research chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta.

Caulfield is spearheading the #ScienceUpFirst movement.

“And now we’re in the middle of trying to roll out the vaccine and we know that misinformation is having an adverse impact on vaccination.

“Things like the vaccine will change your DNA. No, it won’t. The idea that the vaccine is associated with infertility. No, it’s not,” Caulfield said Monday in a phone interview.

“There is just an incredible amount of misinformation out there about COVID. I’ve been studying misinformation for decades. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

He said the campaign was already trending on Twitter on Monday, the day of its launch.

Caulfield is known for taking actor Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness brand Goop to task in his book “Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong about Everything?” as well as for a Netflix series called “A User’s Guide to Cheating Death.”

The initiative is in collaboration with the Canadian Association of Science Centres, COVID-19 Resources Canada, and the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta.

“There’s been research that has shown that the spread of misinformation is having an adverse impact on health and science policy, it’s led to increased stigma and discrimination, and it’s just added to the chaotic information environment that we all have to deal with,” Caufield said.

“The evidence tells us that debunking does work if you do it well, so we’re trying to do it well. We’re trying to listen. We’re trying to be empathetic in our approach. We’re trying to be creative in our messaging and, hopefully, even if we move the needle a little bit, we can make a difference.”

A spokesperson for #ScienceUpFirst says the campaign is pushing to involve Canadian athletes and celebrities to get the word out about tackling misinformation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021.

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