Quebec City police arrested a man Wednesday in connection with online threats made toward the mayor.
The 41-year-old suspect was arrested shortly after 11 a.m. after an investigation led police to his home.
Police say the man is facing charges of criminal harassment. He was questioned by investigators and released on the promise to appear.
Mayor Régis Labeaume filed a complaint with the local police department earlier this week, saying he was the target of threats on social media. The police launched an investigation Monday.
At a press conference Tuesday, Labeaume confirmed the messages were related to the city’s decision to pull advertising from a local radio station.
Officials claimed CHOI Radio X is promoting “opposition” to sanitary measures implemented by the provincial government to limit the spread of COVID-19. Several companies have followed suit, including Hydro-Quebec and Desjardins.
RNC media, the owner of the radio station, issued a statement Monday saying that it wants to continue to inform listeners while maintaining a critical sense of the news.
Quebec City is set to enter the provincial government’s red zone of its coronavirus alert system after cases and outbreaks spiked in recent weeks. The designation calls for tighter restrictions for a 28-day period in the region.
Coronavirus: Quebec City pulls advertising from controversial FM radio station
— With files from the Canadian Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
The Media’s Hunter Biden Conundrum – The New York Times
The 2020 presidential contest has been surrounded by dramatic events, by plague, protest and economic collapse, but as a campaign it’s been remarkably devoid of twists and turns. The polling has been mostly stable, the challenger has run the virtual equivalent of a front-porch campaign and mostly suppressed his own pugilistic instincts, and the incumbent has been unsurprisingly himself.
Which makes it fitting, maybe, that the most interesting controversy of the campaign’s final week is a news media meta argument about how a story should be covered. That story is based on the claims of Tony Bobulinski, a former business associate of Hunter Biden and James Biden, respectively Joe Biden’s son and brother, and on a trove of emails and text messages of uncertain provenance. There are new details about the son and brother’s attempts to cut deals in China based on their family brand, but the key allegation is that Joe Biden himself was pulled into his son’s Chinese negotiations.
On Sunday, my colleague Ben Smith produced the fascinating back story on the story: how the scoop was supposed to go to The Wall Street Journal, with Trump allies mediating, but then another Trump ally, Rudy Giuliani, handed some of the same emails to The New York Post, with a strange back story about Hunter Biden’s laptop, which in turn led to a Post story, accusations of Russian disinformation and an attempted social-media blackout of The Post. Meanwhile, Journal reporters were unable to pin down if Joe Biden had any role in the deal, Bobulinski threw the story to the wider press, and only right-wing outlets ran with it. In the end, both the Journal and this newspaper covered the story in a dry and cautious fashion, describing the Bobulinski allegations while also stressing the lack of definite evidence of the former vice president’s involvement in any deal.
If you’re still with me after that tangle, you can see that this isn’t a subject that lends itself to straight-ahead polemics. But let me try to perform punditry and draw out three provisional conclusions.
The first is that the decision by Twitter to attempt to shut down the circulation of the New York Post story, which looked bad when it was made, looks even worse now that we have more of the back story and more evidence in view. At this point we can posit with some certainty that The Post’s story was not some sort of sweeping Russian disinformation plot but a more normal example of late-dropping opposition research, filtered through a partisan lens and a tabloid sensibility, weaving genuine facts into contestable conclusions. It was, in other words, analogous to all kinds of contested anti-Trump stories that various media outlets have run with across the last four crazy years — from the publicity around the Steele dossier’s wilder rumors to the tales of Michael Cohen’s supposed Prague rendezvous to the claims that Russians hacked Vermont’s power grid or even C-SPAN.
In none of these cases did social-media minders step in to protect the public from possible fake news. As Matt Taibbi and other gadfly press critics have pointed out, it’s hard to come up with any reasonable social-media rule that would justify the suppression of The Post’s story that couldn’t just as easily be applied to all the pieces of conspiratorial Trump-Russia reportage that didn’t pan out, or the Julie Swetnick allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, or various scoops based on technically illegal leaks. That capriciousness is a bad sign for the project of harnessing social media giants to filter out disinformation; it suggests that any filter would inevitably feel partisan, partial and obviously reverse-engineered.
In this case the intended reverse-engineering was basically, “don’t let 2016 happen again,” with “2016” being a stand-in for how the media covered the WikiLeaks revelations and the late-October surprise of Jim Comey reopening an F.B.I. investigation into Hillary Clinton based on material from Anthony Weiner’s laptop. But in neither of those cases was Russian “disinformation” crucial: The hindsight critiques revolve around how much play mainstream outlets gave those stories relative to others, and around Comey’s own self-interested and inconsistent decision-making. And there is no clear logical chain that runs from “the F.B.I. director made bad choices because he assumed Clinton would win and The New York Times gave those choices too much front-page space” to “we need to censor late-breaking allegations that appear in right-wing media on the chance that they might have been ginned up by the Russians.”
Especially because of the second conclusion that we can draw from this episode, an insight I’m stealing from Smith’s piece: The power of media gatekeepers (like this newspaper) to shape political coverage is still significant, and just because some charge or scoop circulates in the right-wing ecosystem doesn’t mean that it has any impact beyond the realm of people who are already voting for Donald Trump.
This is an important point because so much liberal analysis of why we might need things like Twitter blackouts assumes that mainstream media institutions have no power anymore — that “the elite level of national news, the places that have traditionally set the agenda,” as Hamilton Nolan wrote recently for The Columbia Journalism Review, have seen their power simply dissolved by technological change.
But that’s not exactly right. The internet has certainly created new spaces for eccentric ideas and conspiratorial narratives to flourish, and the transformation of the Republican Party into a populist formation with its own distinctive media ecosystem has weakened the power of national newspapers to influence Republican politicians. But the G.O.P. speaks for a minority of Americans and fewer and fewer American elites, and the internet has also expanded the audience for certain media institutions at the expense of the rest of the media industry, giving them arguably more influence over the non-Fox News-watching portion of the public than in the recent past. This means institutions like The Times or the Washington Post have a different kind of power than they did 30 years ago, but they have power all the same — including the power to contain almost any story that initially circulates on the right, and to shape the way the non-right-wing portions of the country receive it.
This, in turn, makes it reasonable for conservatives to fear the concentric circles of tech and media power — the possibility that social-media censorship, carried out “neutrally” by companies overwhelmingly staffed by liberals, will expand its reach with the vocal support of an increasingly consolidated and liberal group of mainstream-media gatekeepers.
But it also makes it reasonable for people who are not conservatives to worry about what stories they might be missing, if those same gatekeepers have an incentive to treat anything that originates outside those concentric circles as some combination of disinformation and partisan distraction.
Hence my third conclusion — that for those who feel this worry, the Hunter Biden controversy provides a clarifying case study. On the one hand, the new information is not the Biden-slaying blockbuster suggested by the New York Post headlines and some Trump supporters. But neither does it fit the description offered by NPR’s managing editor for news last week, explaining why they were only covering it as a media story: “We don’t want to waste our time on stores that are not really stories, and we don’t want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions.”
In fact, it’s not a distraction to have new insight into a potential First Son’s business dealings — especially given that the saga of the younger Biden is a prime example in how a milder-than-Trump form of corruption pervaded the American elite long before Trump came along, with important people and their families constantly finding ways to get rich in the shadow of the Pax Americana without ever taking anything so crass as a bribe.
It is not a coincidence, as some of my Times colleagues note in their story, that “the countries that Hunter Biden, James Biden and their associates planned to target for deals overlapped with nations where Joe Biden had previously been involved as vice president.” Nor is it a coincidence that the areas of Hunter Biden’s particular interest, China’s and Russia’s near abroad, were particularly important foreign policy zones under recent Democratic presidents. And given that pre-Trump American foreign policy in these regions was a conspicuous failure — with China tilting totalitarian and Vladimir Putin outmaneuvering the West — the fact that Biden’s nearest relative was trying to influence-peddle in both places is a useful reminder of why the establishment that’s likely to reclaim the White House next week lost power in the first place.
More specifically, Bobulinski’s story and the email evidence both suggest that Joe Biden took at least enough interest in his son’s dealings to have a meeting during the Trump presidency with his business partners. This isn’t proof that he partnered with Hunter or profited in any way, but it seems like evidence that he wasn’t particularly worried about keeping his son’s sketchy salesmanship at arm’s length. That seems like information worth knowing: not a scandal on a par with some of Trump’s, not a front-page bold-type screaming headline, but something that belongs in the pages of a newspaper, because it’s interesting news.
This is the problem with Twitter’s censorious choices, and with an expanding mainstream-press definition of what counts as disinformation and distraction. They compromise the first duty of an independent press, which is to ground any moral crusading in the most capacious possible portrait of the world as it actually exists.
Some Alberta nurses worry proposed social media policy would muzzle health advocacy and criticism – Global News
The United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) has concerns with proposed rules its governing college has drafted regarding social media standards for nurses.
The College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CARNA) says one of its jobs — under the Health Professions Act (HPA) — is to produce standards of practice to help members in different work situations.
David Kay, chief professional conduct officer for CARNA, said the college posted a draft social media policy for nurses on Sept. 30 for consultation.
“CARNA supports the HPA process that invites regulated members, stakeholders such as AHS, Covenant Health, unions and the public to provide their insight on the drafts,” Kay explained in an email to Global News.
“CARNA takes the consultation process seriously.
“The comment process is typically 30 days. When the consultation process is over, CARNA considers all the comments received, reviews them and makes revisions, as necessary.”
But the union, which represents more than 30,000 registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses and allied workers in Alberta, has raised several issues with the proposed social media standards.
UNA spokesperson Cameron Westhead says the union “strongly opposes them” and is worried about their impacts on nurses’ freedom of speech and the ability to advocate for good health policy.
The draft policy reads, in part, that when using social media during online conduct, the member must:
- Post only professional and ethical content;
- Not post opinions, comments or information that could harm a client, person, employer, another health professional, colleague or organization;
- Review past online presence and remove any posts that could be considered unprofessional, controversial or problematic;
- Not post opinions, comments or information that could harm their reputation or that of a member, the college or the profession;
- Direct any complaints about a client, person, employer, another health colleague, organization, regulated member, the regulatory college or the profession through appropriate channels;
- Cease any online activity and remove any online content that could negatively impact the public’s perception of or trust in the regulated member or the profession.
The UNA says the social media rules would likely “place a chill on the willingness of nurses to lend their knowledge and experience to be advocates within public discourse on policies surrounding health and the socioeconomic determinants of health [that are] not in the public interest.”
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“The draft social media standards conflict with the right of nurses to freedom of expression, a right that was recently affirmed by the courts in the Strom decision,” UNA said.
“As per this decision, criticism of the health-care system by front-line workers is in the public interest and should not be unreasonably restricted as these draft standards attempt to do.
“Any social media standards must take into account the implications of this court decision.”
A few weeks after her grandfather’s death in 2015, Carolyn Strom, a registered nurse from Prince Albert, Sask., wrote on Facebook that some unnamed staff at his long-term care facility in Macklin, Sask., were not up to speed on delivering end-of-life care. Strom made the post as a private citizen but the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association found her guilty of professional misconduct.
However, on Oct. 6, 2020, Saskatchewan’s highest court overruled the disciplinary decision and the $26,000 fine levied against Strom. The judge ruled that criticism of the health care system is in the public interest and when it comes from frontline workers it can bring positive change.
Saskatchewan Court of Appeal quashes fine against nurse who made critical Facebook post
In a letter to CARNA, the union shared its “serious concerns with the draft standards,” saying they “inappropriately extend into the personal lives of nurses to restrict their freedom of expression” and would “severely restrict the ability of nurses to fulfill their duty to advocate for quality practice environments and meet the professional obligations set out in the foundational practice standard indicators and CNA code of ethics.”
The letter, signed by UNA president Heather Smith, says:
“While CARNA has the responsibility to protect the public from harm, fulfilling this duty must be balanced with ensuring that CARNA is not unnecessarily and unreasonably restricting the rights of their members.
“UNA suggests that the social media standards are unnecessary given that unprofessional conduct can already be addressed through existing practice standards.
“Given that nurses have a professional obligation to question health policy, advocate for improvements to practice environments and have a charter right to express themselves, barriers to these must be carefully avoided.”
Toews and Shandro say they won’t lay off Alberta nurses during pandemic
Members of the nursing college had until Oct. 25 to provide feedback on the proposed changes.
Kay would not say how much feedback CARNA received on the issue, but said: “CARNA will ensure the feedback being obtained is given thoughtful review and consideration.”
He said it would be “premature” to provide a date for when the proposed standards might be implemented.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
China retaliates against news media in latest feud with US
BEIJING — China has ordered six U.S.-based news media to file detailed information about their operations in China the latest volley in a monthslong battle with the Trump administration.
A foreign ministry statement issued late Monday demanded that the bureaus of ABC, The Los Angeles Times, Minnesota Public Radio, the Bureau of National Affairs, Newsweek and Feature Story News declare information about their staff, finances, operations and real estate in China within seven days.
The announcement came five days after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said six Chinese media would have to register as foreign missions, which requires them to file similar information with the U.S. government.
The six were the third group of Chinese media required to do so this year. Each time, China has responded by forcing a similar number of U.S. media to file about their operations.
The ministry statement said China was compelled to take the step “in response to the unreasonable oppression the Chinese media organizations experience in the United States.”
Pompeo, in making his announcement, said the targeted Chinese media are state-owned or controlled, and that the U.S. wants to ensure that “consumers of information can differentiate between news written by a free press and propaganda distributed by the Chinese Communist Party.”
The media is one of several areas of growing tension between the two countries as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China over trade, technology, defence and human rights.
The U.S. ordered the closing of the Chinese consulate in Houston earlier this year, and China responded by shuttering the U.S. consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu.
The Associated Press
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