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Quebec City residents say social media posts, not police, were first to warn them of Halloween night attacks – CBC.ca

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It was 10:55 p.m. Saturday night when Old Quebec resident and business owner Steven Wong posted to a private Facebook group for local anglophones, warning people to stay inside their homes. 

Just two minutes before, he wrote on his own Facebook profile — in both English and French — that there was someone stabbing people at random in the Old City. 

Wong’s alerts came an hour before Quebec City police tweeted to stay indoors while they searched for an armed attacker. The Twitter warning came at 11:57 p.m., about 90 minutes after the first 911 call. 

Many of the neighbourhood’s residents, who do not know Wong but are members of the private group, say he may have saved their lives with his warning.

“I don’t think I did anything heroic or anything like that,” Wong said. “I just did what I thought was the right thing to do — the appropriate thing to do — at the time.”

Two people were killed, and five were injured in Saturday night’s attacks. 

Andrea Nevado was working at home when her phone pinged that there was a new post on the “Anglophones Living in Quebec City” Facebook page: the warning from Wong.  

“I was really shocked,” she said. “I was nervous, and I was really nervous about my husband.” 

Nevado’s husband is a taxi driver, but was not in the Old City at the time.

Witnesses shared information

“I kept checking with the group to know what was going on,” she said, adding that people were keeping the group up to date and reporting what they could see from their windows. 

“Scrolling down, it was a live interaction, like you were there with them,” she said. 

Wong said he’d closed his restaurant earlier that night, on rue De Buade, within 100 metres of many of the crime scenes.

Normally, he would stick around after closing. But that night, before knowing what was happening outside, he locked up early, and headed to his home a few doors down.

Shortly after, he noticed the police sirens in the neighbourhood were louder than normal, so his partner went outside to investigate, and saw a body. 

Wong’s partner was ushered home by police and was told there was a killer roaming the streets. 

Wong said his first thought was for his family members, who are lifelong residents of Old Quebec, and who live nearby. After checking on them, he wrote his social media posts. 

“It is a very small community, and the original poster, Steven Wong, is a well-respected member of the community,” said one of the Facebook group’s administrators, Rebecca Gowins-Boucher. “He’s a businessman, so when I saw it was him, I thought ‘this is probably serious.'”

Gowins-Boucher said she wasn’t sure what to do with the post, and a lot of members didn’t believe the news at first. Still, many cautiously stayed put. 

“There were so many messages where Steven’s early actions had affected people’s habits,” she said. “That was really heartening, to know that his care for our community had perhaps affected the outcome that night and maybe even saved lives.” 

“He was really a hero to us that night,” she said.

Nevado also helped convince members of the gravity of the situation by posting a photo of an alert on her husband’s taxi screen.

Before the police issued a warning to the public, Quebec City taxi drivers knew they should be wary of an armed man in the old city. (Taxis Coop Québec)

“Then there was a shift in the messages,” she said. 

“I know a lot of people were freaking out, there was a lot of stress,” she said, adding she received several messages from people looking for reassurance.

“They were terrified.”

Community within a community

With the suspect now in custody, members of the Facebook group are sharing resources for psychosocial support, offering to walk each other home so people feel safe, and asking to go for physically distanced walks, so everyone can get outside for some fresh air.

“We had just an absolute outpouring within the community of virtual moral support,” Gowins-Boucher said. “It’s really giving me a feeling of being very thankful to be part of this community within our community.”

Wong said he believes the city will eventually achieve a new normal, but that it’ll take people time to cope with the “heavy feeling” in the neighbourhood right now.

He said despite Old Quebec being a tight-knit community, there can be disagreements online, especially with people on edge during a pandemic.

“It’s so easy to insult people behind a keyboard,” Wong said. “But it also brings people a sense of closeness when you can’t be physically close, so I definitely think social media can help in times like this.”

 “People are definitely a bit closer now,” he said. 

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Judge refuses to dismiss media charges in Pell trial – CTV News

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA —
A Supreme Court judge in Australia’s Victoria state on Friday dismissed submissions from news media organizations and journalists that there is no case to answer on charges they breached a gag order on reporting about Cardinal George Pell’s sex abuse convictions in 2018.

More charges were tossed out in the case against Australian media outlets prosecuted over reporting of Pell’s abuse convictions. But the judge refused to throw out the bulk of the 87 charges of contempt of court for stories published after the cardinal’s guilty verdict.

His child sexual abuse convictions were overturned by Australia’s High Court earlier this year and the cardinal is back in Rome.

More than two dozen media organizations, reporters and editors were charged with breaching of suppression orders and other reporting rules in the days following the guilty verdicts.

In a mid-trial ruling on Friday, Justice John Dixon dismissed eight contempt charges against Nationwide News, Sydney radio station 2GB, Queensland Newspapers and the Nine Entertainment-owned Fairfax Media.

But he rejected arguments by 27 media outlets, journalists and editors that they had no case to answer for the remaining 79 charges.

Prosecutors last month dropped 13 charges against News Corp. staff and publications. The trial is scheduled to resume on Jan. 28.

Such suppression orders are common in the Australian and British judicial systems. But the enormous international interest in an Australian criminal trial with global ramifications highlighted the difficulty in enforcing such orders in the digital age.

Pell was convicted on Dec. 11, 2018 of sexually abusing two choirboys in a Melbourne cathedral when he was the city’s archbishop in the late 1990s.

The trial of Pope Francis’ former finance minister and the most senior Catholic to be charged with child sex abuse was not reported in the news media because of the suppression order that forbade publication of details in any format that could be accessed from Australia.

Details were suppressed to prevent prejudicing jurors in a second child abuse trial that Pell was to face three months later.

That second trial was cancelled due to a lack of evidence, and Australia’s High Court in April overturned all convictions after Pell had spent 13 months in prison.

No foreign news organization has been charged with breaching the suppression order. The U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment would prevent such censorship in the United States, so attempting to extradite an American for breaching an Australian suppression order would be futile.

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Japanese PM Suga to hold news conference amid third coronavirus wave: media – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, is set to hold a news conference to provide an update on the country’s pandemic response on Friday, his first since coronavirus case numbers surged in November.

Suga is expected to explain his backing of a widely criticised travel subsidy campaign meant to help revive the economy amid infection controls.

In recent weeks, a third wave of the coronavirus has arrived in parts of the country, and some medical groups and experts blame it on a government campaign to encourage domestic tourism.

His news conference will take place at 6 p.m. local time (0900 GMT), according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Suga’s approval ratings have dipped, with many unhappy with his handling of the pandemic, polls showed. That could deal a blow to his plan to prop up local economies and may threaten the chances of his premiership beyond next autumn.

The government has paused its “Go To Travel” campaign in two cities, but Suga said on Thursday the travel subsidy programme would be extended beyond the original end date of January 2021.

“We need to support the tourism industry, which is indispensable for the local economy,” Suga told a tourism strategy meeting.

The world’s third-largest economy rebounded in the third quarter from a pandemic-induced slump, thanks to surging consumption and exports, but some analysts worry about slowing growth ahead because of the resurgence in infections.

Suga also faces a political controversy involving his predecessor, Shinzo Abe, who resigned in September.

He was widely seen as Abe’s right-hand man during his tenure and has defended him in parliament.

Tokyo prosecutors are considering a summary indictment of two officials in Abe’s office over alleged violations of a funding law, the daily Asahi reported on Friday.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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Japanese PM Suga to hold news conference amid third coronavirus wave: media – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, is set to hold a news conference to provide an update on the country’s pandemic response on Friday, local media reported, his first since coronavirus case numbers surged in November.

Suga is expected to explain his backing of a widely criticised travel subsidy campaign meant to help revive the economy amid infection controls.

In recent weeks, a third wave of the coronavirus has arrived in parts of the country, and some medical groups and experts blame it on a government campaign to encourage domestic tourism.

His news conference is scheduled for late Friday, Jiji Press said, but the Prime Minister’s Office has yet to confirm it.

Suga’s approval ratings have dipped, with many unhappy with his handling of the pandemic, polls showed. That could deal a blow to his plan to prop up local economies and may threaten the chances of his premiership beyond next autumn.

The government has paused its “Go To Travel” campaign in two cities, but Suga said on Thursday the travel subsidy programme would be extended beyond the original end date of January 2021.

“We need to support the tourism industry, which is indispensable for the local economy,” Suga told a tourism strategy meeting.

The world’s third-largest economy rebounded in the third quarter from a pandemic-induced slump, thanks to surging consumption and exports, but some analysts worry about slowing growth ahead because of the resurgence in infections.

Suga also faces a political controversy involving his predecessor, Shinzo Abe, who resigned in September.

He was widely seen as Abe’s right-hand man during his tenure and has defended him in parliament.

Tokyo prosecutors are considering a summary indictment of two officials in Abe’s office over alleged violations of a funding law, the daily Asahi reported on Friday.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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