Issued on: 19/04/2020 – 10:10
The new government of Slovenia’s conservative Prime Minister Janez Jansa has so far kept the coronavirus under control — but critics fear he will exploit the crisis to bring to heel the media he brands “presstitution”.
Jansa, 61, just over a month into office, has a political career stretching back to the 1990s including two previous terms as prime minister.
He has taken to Twitter this time with an abrasive style drawing comparison with US President Donald Trump — not least in how he reacts to media scrutiny.
When the RTVSLO public television station reported on a pay rise for ministers last month, Jansa told the broadcaster to “stop spreading lies”.
“We pay you in these times to inform, not to mislead the public,” he blasted, “there are too many of you and you’re too well paid.”
The Journalists’ Association condemned “a threat to all RTVSLO employees that they could lose their jobs… if they do not report in accordance with the government’s interests.”
– ‘Presstitution’ –
Delo, one of Slovenia’s highest-circulation newspapers, came in for similar treatment when it criticised Jansa’s conduct in a spat with the Slovenian president of UEFA, Aleksander Ceferin.
Jansa fired off a tweet accusing Delo of serving “deep-state tycoons”, adding the hashtags “fake news” and “presstitution”.
International organisations such as the OSCE have expressed concern at the attacks on journalists but the government has given critics short shrift.
It insists most mainstream media is part of “the legacy of the totalitarian (communist) past” and that Jansa is entitled to “call attention to irregularities and abuses when taxpayers’ money is at stake” at the public broadcaster.
And one commentater in the normally left-leaning Mladina weekly said that while Jansa’s style was rude, his detractors were not “neutered in such a way that they stop scrutinising his government”.
Nevertheless, this week saw further cause for alarm when three of four government-appointed representatives on the public broadcaster’s supervisory board were replaced early with candidates seen as aligned to Jansa’s Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS).
“It is a clear message… that people can be replaced prematurely without any explanation,” says Marko Milosavljevic from Ljubljana University, a prominent expert on Slovenia’s media landscape.
Primoz Cirman, founder of the Necenzurirano (Uncensored) investigative news site, believes government is helping create a hostile atmosphere towards journalists.
In February, Necenzurirano revealed that three Hungarian companies linked to the Fidesz party of Prime Minster Viktor Orban had invested 1.5 million euros (1.6m dollars) in a television station founded by Jansa and other SDS members.
Jansa has been a prominent Orban ally and deploys similarly strident anti-immigrant rhetoric.
Cirman told AFP about the backlash to Necenzurirano’s reporting, including from pro-government media: “You find yourself under pressure that is also linked to public threats… a tendency to silence any critical voice.”
Cirman says smear campaigns encouraged — knowingly or not — by the government are “pushing journalists to self-censor”.
– ‘Friends in the region’ –
As the fight against coronavirus drags on, some think Jansa has spied an opportunity to re-orient Slovenia towards the politics of Orban.
Elsewhere in the EU, Orban’s actions have sparked concern for the rule of law, including in the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) grouping that Fidesz and the SDS both belong to.
But Jansa has taken Orban’s side and adopted a markedly Eurosceptic tone.
When EPP President Donald Tusk issued veiled criticism of Hungary’s state of emergency, Jansa sarcastically tweeted that Tusk should send ventilators and protective equipment.
In a televised speech this month Jansa bemoaned the lack of EU solidarity during the pandemic, saying that “we have to rely most of all on our friends in the region”, taken to mean Hungary and other eastern European states.
Vlado Miheljak from Ljubljana University’s sociology department says Jansa may well be aiming to use the crisis to emulate Orban’s centralisation of power.
But, with SDS attracting under 25 per cent of votes at the last election and dependent on more centrist parties in the coalition, Jansa has to bear in mind he doesn’t enjoy Orban’s levels of public support, says Miheljak.
© 2020 AFP
Social media helps solve mystery of lost camera found in Kelowna’s Mill Creek – Globalnews.ca
Brianna Irawan, 13, was extremely happy after finding out on Thursday that her prized underwater camera that had been lost for almost a year had been found in Kelowna’s Mill Creek.
The Williams Lake teen was visiting relatives in Kelowna last year when she lost the camera while jumping into the waterfalls at Mill Creek Regional Park.
“We were on Mill Creek, jumping into the water and I put my camera underneath my clothes,” Irawan told Global News on Friday.
“When I jumped, I forgot about my camera, so I walked back up and then I picked up my clothes and I forgot my camera was underneath and it fell into the water.”
Social media helps solve mystery of lost camera found in Kelowna’s Mill Creek
She went back the creek several times over the next few days, but eventually had to write her camera off to the river gods.
The Fujifilm XP model wasn’t seen again until almost a year later when Calvin Van Buskirk found it caught up in some debris downstream.
“What makes it even more interesting is we found a GoPro there last year. You guys [Global News] were able to get the images and the videos off it within hours it found its way back to its rightful owner,” Van Buskirk said.
Construction crew makes unusual find near Kelowna
It took less than 24 hours for images retrieved from the camera to make their way around social media and back to their owner.
Kyla Irawan, Brianna’s mother, sent a message to Global News on Thursday afternoon through Facebook to say the photos had come from her daughter.
On Friday, Global News returned the camera — still in working order — to Brianna’s uncle, Travis Whiting, who is also Kelowna’s fire chief.
‘This is the craziest thing,’: Lost GoPro owner reunited with camera
The Irawans shared a message of gratitude with Van Buskirk.
“Thank you, Calvin, we totally appreciate your honesty,” said Kyla Irawan.
“Thank you for putting it on Global so I can give my daughter the opportunity to have all those memories back.”
For her part, Brianna said she can’t wait to see her FujiFilm XP model again.
“Soon as I get it, I’m going to transfer the photos” to a computer, she said.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Former UBC basketball assistant coach criticized for social media activity – The Province
Long-time assistant men’s basketball coach Vern Knopp will no longer work next to head coach Kevin Hanson.
The University of B.C. is distancing itself from former assistant men’s basketball coach Vern Knopp following questions about some of his activity on social media.
A Twitter account called Muted Madness pointed out on Thursday that Knopp had hit the like button on a video posted by conservative comedians the Hodge Twins on June 3 that claims the Black Lives Matter movement is a “leftist lie.”
A number of other Twitter users echoed the criticism of Knopp, who served as head coach Kevin Hanson’s volunteer assistant for the past two decades.
Later on Thursday, he shared a comment on his account, which is set to private: “So I never knew some likes to conservative posts would cause this shit storm? However my LIKES are those of mine and have nothing to do with UBC! I had told Coach Hanson months ago that I wasn’t returning to UBC but I just not (sic) made it public, only to my family.”
Reached via direct message on Friday, Knopp said he’d told Hanson about his decision in May as well as some parents on the team, but declined to make further comment.
Later on Thursday, Kavie Toor, UBC Athletics’ managing director, distanced the university from Knopp.
“Vern Knopp’s personal opinions, beliefs and social media endorsements do not represent the ideals and values of the UBC Thunderbirds. Vern Knopp is no longer a member of the Thunderbrids men’s basketball coaching staff,” he tweeted.
On Friday, the university’s athletics department declined to comment further.
The Alma Mater Society, a UBC students’ union, expressed support for the university’s position.
“The AMS is committed to supporting students from the Black community at this time, and we are actively working to develop programming to help combat anti-Black racism at UBC. The sentiments expressed by Mr. Knopp have absolutely no place at UBC, and society in general,” they said in a statement.
“We are encouraged to see that UBC Athletics and Recreation has taken a zero-tolerance approach to this issue.”
On Tuesday, the department shared a message on Twitter from university president Santa Ono.
“As Thunderbirds we join all of UBC in condemning racism in all forms. We are committed to an inclusive and respectful environment where we listen, learn and continue to grow together,” the department said in a tweet.
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Saskatoon police Cst. placed on leave in connection with 'concerning' social media posts – CKOM News Talk Sports
The Saskatoon Police Service has placed a constable on administrative leave regarding concerning posts on their personal social media account.
On Friday morning, police say they were notified about private posts that a member is accused of making on his personal social media account.
Police say the posts were harmful and offensive to the gender and sexually diverse community.
As a result, the member was immediately placed on administrative leave and an investigation was initiated regarding his conduct.
In a release, Chief of Police Troy Cooper said, “The relationship we have with the gender and sexually diverse community is incredibly important to the Saskatoon Police Service. I was to assure the public that we take these complaints seriously. We have acted swiftly to address the issue and a thorough investigation will occur.”
The 12-year member will remain on administrative leave while an investigation takes place.
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