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Public, media blocked from council meetings in northern BC town for months – Cowichan Valley Citizen

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Neither the public nor media has had access to District of Vanderhoof ‘open’ council meetings since B.C. first declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19 in March.

During this time, the district discussed and passed bylaws involving Vanderhoof’s five-year financial plan, tax rates, record management and others, without providing a platform for the public to see or hear the discussions that led to their decisions.

Under normal circumstances, the provincial community charter stipulates that council cannot vote on bylaws in a closed meeting. There are a number of exceptions, including discussions pertaining to contracts, personnel matters and others.

An inability to observe social distancing in council chambers with public attendance has been offered as the reason for the closed meetings.

The municipal office did not provide teleconferencing or online platforms where their meetings could be under public scrutiny, as other local councils in this and other regions around B.C. have done over recent months.

Mayor Gerry Thiessen and town CAO Lori Egli cited Ministerial Order M083 issued by the ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing on March 26, as the reason for not providing public access to council meetings. That order stated that even though councils could disallow public attendance at open meetings under the pandemic circumstances, those meetings would not be considered ‘closed.’

However, the ministerial order referenced by Thiessen and Egli was actually rescinded and replaced by a new order on May 1, along with a news release which said that public input is an essential part of decision-making.

“As public input is an essential part of land-use decision-making, even for those decisions that do not require a public hearing, local governments are still expected to find ways to encourage public participation,” stated the release.

Communities across B.C., including Fort St. James, Fraser Lake, Burns Lake and Prince George made their public meetings accessible online during the virus pandemic, either via video conferencing or dial-in.

The Express contacted neighbouring municipalities to establish how much it cost them to move their meetings online. Officials said setting up their meetings online was cost-free, as municipal councillors already have access to iPads or other technology on which free video-conferencing software can be installed.

Members of the public are then given an access code to observe virtual meetings of council.

The City of Prince George has streamed webcasts for the past 12 years, so when the pandemic hit it had little impact on council meeting access, as the public could go online to observe live discussions of mayor and council.

Responding to Express questions in an emailed statement on June 9, Mayor Thiessen said, “We are trying to accommodate, but we have so many projects on the go that have a very tight time frame. We know that we will need to find other options but that may take a few weeks.”

Thiessen did not respond when asked what those options were and why it would take a few more weeks to provide public or media access to open council meetings.

On June 12, Marielle Tounsi, public affairs officer for the ministry of municipal affairs and housing said, the May ministerial order replacing the earlier directive was written to allow local governments to hold council and board meetings using electronic methods.

“Local governments continue to be required to follow procedural and transparency rules and are encouraged to provide online streaming of council and council committee meetings that include opportunities for “real-time” question and answers to encourage communication and support public engagement,” she said.


Aman Parhar
Editor, Vanderhoof Omineca Express

aman.parhar@ominecaexpress.com

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Victoria police respond to social media posts alleging sexual assault at tattoo parlour – CityNews Vancouver

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VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Police in Victoria are asking possible victims of sexual abuse involving a local tattoo artist to contact their Special Victims Unit.

No charges have been recommended, but Carne Tattoo posted a message online Monday confirming an artist was let go for his “betrayal of young women” and references an incident dating back to 2019.

Other social media posts indicate the alleged abuse was initially reported in 2019.

After seeing reports on social media, Victoria Police ask anyone who might have experienced “sexualized violence” during tattoo appointments to get in touch.

“We want everyone in those threads who have experienced sexualized violence to know that if you report what you’ve experienced to our Special Victims Unit detectives, you will be listened to, you will be treated with respect, and you will be believed,” reads a statement from police.

“If you do think that you may want to consider a criminal process, it is important to know that for potential future court processes, it is best that you provide your statement to the police prior to speaking to any media outlets or posting details of your story publicly on social media. This is to ensure that your statement belongs to you and you only.”

The Instagram account of a man identified as the artist has been taken down.

To speak to a detective, call the non-emergency line at 250-995-7654 and select extension 1 for the report desk. Or, reach out to the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre at 250-383-3232, if you aren’t sure about getting in touch with police.

Editor’s note: The screenshots in this article have been edited to hide the name of the tattoo artist because he has not been charged. 

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New book echoes conference on classics, media theory | Cornell Chronicle – Cornell Chronicle

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A new edited volume, “Classics and Media Theory,” features participants from a Cornell media studies conference exploring the interactions between media and antiquity.

The book, in the Oxford University Press “Classical Presences” series, gathers expert analysis from scholars engaging with myriad aspects of classical Greece and Rome, with a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives from fields including classical literature, art history, cultural studies, film studies, media theory and media history.

The contributors include Verity Platt, professor of classics and the history of art and visual studies in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Revolving around issues of philosophy, cultural history, literature, aesthetics and epistemology, the volume highlights interactions between classical studies and media theory, why they matter and how they can be developed further. The book also explores the implications of the study of media for the study of culture, including the processes of cultural production and reception; and it encourages scholarly attention to media in the study of Greco-Roman antiquity.

The volume highlights several emergent fields within media studies ranging from cultural techniques to media archaeology; the persistence of Greco-Roman paradigms across different strands of media theory; and the conceptual underpinnings of cultural practices in the transformation of ancient Greece and Rome into “classics.”

Platt has joined researcher Till Heilmann and media studies professor Jens Schroeter of the University of Bonn, and the book’s editor, Pantelis Michelakis, reader in classics at the University of Bristol, to establish a network for the study of media and the premodern.

All participated in the international conference “Siren Echoes: Sound, Image, and the Media of Antiquity,” presented by the Media Studies Initiative on campus in November 2019.

Themes and topics at the two-day conference included “Antiquity in Media Theory,” “Sounds of the Anthropocene,” “Media Pathologies,” “Genealogies of the Image,” “Sacred Resonances” and “Image, Medium and Light.” The event “was a huge success,” said Jeremy Braddock, associate professor of English.

Michelakis, a Greek literature and classical theater scholar, organized a similar conference in Bristol, which also provided content for the book.

“Although the ancient world has played an important role in media theory, especially in scholarship on orality and literacy, ‘media studies’ tends to be associated with the technologies of the industrial and computer age,” Platt said.

There are many scholars at Cornell who focus on “modes of transmission, communication and reproduction in the premodern world and later cultural reception,” she said, “all of which can be put into fruitful dialogue with scholars focused on more contemporary issues.”

A second Cornell conference, “Media Objects,” planned for March 2020, was to feature content ranging from film screenings and internet art to architectural installations, exhibitions and digital collections.

Postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the conference will be staged during the 2020-21 academic year as a series of virtual panels, lectures and related events, Braddock said, with plans to culminate in an event in fall 2021 at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. A follow-up to “Siren Echoes” in spring 2021 is also a possibility, Platt said.

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Pop Smoke's social media posts led suspects to L.A. home, say police – CBC.ca

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Authorities believe rising rapper Pop Smoke was shot and killed during a Los Angeles home-invasion robbery in February after his social media posts led five suspects to the house he was renting, police said after detectives arrested the group Thursday morning.

Los Angeles police had initially discounted a robbery theory in the days after the 20-year-old rapper’s death Feb. 19 at a home in the Hollywood Hills. Pop Smoke’s legal name is Bashar Barakah Jackson.

Capt. Jonathan Tippet, who oversees the Los Angeles Police Department’s elite Robbery-Homicide Division, said three men and two teenage boys likely went to the home because they knew Pop Smoke was there from social media posts.

They stole items from the home, though Tippet said he could not divulge what was taken. The teens were 15 and 17 years old.

“We believe that it was a robbery. Initially we didn’t really have the evidence but then we discovered some other evidence that showed this was likely a home invasion gone bad,” Tippet told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The five suspects were arrested Thursday morning as detectives served several search warrants in Los Angeles. All are believed to be members of a South Los Angeles gang, which Tippet would not name, and at least some of them are believed to be linked to the 2019 homicide of an 18-year-old man when a fight escalated into a shooting outside the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

The three men were identified as Jaquan Murphy, 21, Corey Walker, 19, and Keandre D. Rodgers, 18, all of Los Angeles. Walker and Rodgers were arrested on suspicion of murder and Murphy was held on suspicion of attempted murder, police said. The men were being held in lieu of $1 million bail apiece.

The 15-year-old and the 17-year-old also were booked on suspicion of murder. It wasn’t immediately known whether any of those arrested had attorneys.

Pop Smoke and his entourage staying at the home are not believed to be associated with the gang, Tippet said. No one else was shot during the incident.

Pop Smoke is seen performing at a Houston concert in November 2019. (Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Times reported in February that the rapper had posted pictures of him posing by an infinity pool in the home’s backyard, as well as a picture of the Los Angeles skyline from what was likely the house’s backyard. In another post, Pop Smoke or a member of his entourage put a picture of a gift bag tagged with the Hollywood Hills address and a different photo showed him posing by a Range Rover in a spot where the home’s address was partly visible in the background.

“It’s our belief that [the home-invasion robbery] was based on some of the social media” posts, Tippet said. “It’s based on the fact that he was posting his information may have contributed to knowing where to find him.”

The home where the shooting occurred is owned by Edwin Arroyave and his wife Teddi Mellencamp, daughter of Rock & Roll Hall-of-Famer John Mellencamp and a star of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Teddi Mellencamp previously said on Instagram that the couple had been notified of the shooting at their rental property but knew no more than what they had seen in media reports.

Pop Smoke arrived on the rap scene in 2018 and broke out with Welcome to the Party, a gangsta anthem with boasts about shootings, killings and drugs that became a huge sensation, and prompted Nicki Minaj to drop a verse on a remix.

Earlier this year, Pop Smoke released the mixtape Meet the Woo 2, which debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart. It was the follow up to his first official release, Meet the Woo. The rapper also had the popular hit Gatti with Travis Scott and Jackboys and the track Dior.

His major label debut album, Shoot for the Stars Aim for the Moon, was executive produced by 50 Cent. It was released posthumously last Friday to mostly positive reviews and features appearances from popular artists including Future, DaBaby and Quavo.

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