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Some social media stars chafe at COVID restrictions, angering authorities – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Anthony Deutsch

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – A handful of social media stars and influencers have publicly flouted rules aimed at containing the coronavirus pandemic and even encouraged others to do so, and authorities from the Netherlands to the United States are not happy.

The online dissent comes as the number of deaths from COVID-19 in the United States passed 200,000 and many countries in Europe are grappling with a second wave of infections.

“I say ‘NO’ to all measures until the government can verifiably justify this policy,” a group of young Dutch entertainers wrote in a series of Instagram posts coordinated with organisers of protests against the restrictions.

The online celebrities have several million followers on Instagram between them.

They include 21-year-old singer and Instagram model Famke Louise, who took part in a Dutch government campaign promoting social distancing rules in the spring but has now switched sides.

“We can only get control of the government if we stick together,” she posted on Monday night. “I’m opting out.”

Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge, who is battling new infections that jumped at a rate of more than 60% in the Netherlands this week to pass 100,000, criticised that attitude.

“We have to ask questions and being critical is certainly allowed, but just saying ‘I am opting out’ isn’t an option,” he said. “It’s irresponsible because they have huge influence on young people. We need our youth, we need everyone to keep the virus under control.”

The debate in the Netherlands is playing out the world over between people frustrated about restrictions on their lives and those who support governments’ attempts to stop the virus, which has infected more than 31 million people.

Popular TikTok “influencers” Bryce Hall and Blake Gray were charged in the United States for throwing parties in Los Angeles at which hundreds of revellers were pictured ignoring social distancing rules.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer said that with a combined 19 million followers on TikTok, the stars should be “modelling good behaviour – not brazenly violating the law and posting videos about it.”

In Britain, Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher has voiced doubts about the effectiveness of wearing masks, while Van Morrison is releasing three songs to protest against “the way the government has taken away personal freedoms,” his website said.

He is donating profits from the tracks to musicians who have suffered financial hardship because of the coronavirus, according to the BBC.

But flouting government rules faces a backlash of its own, and social media campaigns including the #WearADamnMask hashtag have attracted support from major stars.

U.S. actors Bryan Cranston and Tom Hanks, both of whom contracted the virus and recovered, have also made public appeals for people to wear masks as a courtesy to others.

(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch in Amsterdam; Additional reporting by Emma Pinedo in Madrid; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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Social Media Buzz: Trump Casts Ballot, SpaceX Launch, McBroken – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — What’s buzzing on social media this morning:

A mask-wearing President Donald Trump cast his ballot in person in West Palm Beach, Florida, Saturday morning. “I voted for a guy named Trump,” he told reporters.

Brooklyn Museum is trending as people share photos of long lines, hours before early voting started in New York state.

SpaceX is targeting to launch Starlink this morning after delaying it from Oct. 22 to allow more time for mission assurance work. The weather today is 60% favorable, the company said in a tweet. Projected launch time is 11:31 a.m. EDT.

Former Fox News host and Trump loyalist Kimberly Guilfoyle, who was recently accused of sexual harassment, put her Manhattan apartment overlooking Central Park up for sale for about $5 million, Daily Mail reported. The pad, formerly “a taxidermist’s dream,” was transformed by Guilfoyle, who dates Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son.

A McDonald’s fan, who earlier failed to order an ice cream due to an out-of-service machine, created a website called McBroken.com to track which locations’ McFlurry machines are broken. The fast-food chain said it’s “exciting to see customer passion translate into customer-innovated solutions.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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Nunavut politicians vote to remove minister from cabinet over social media post – Lethbridge News Now

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Before casting their ballots, some members made statements on the motion.

“It is up to us, everyone in this room, to show our commitment, to stand up against racism and gender violence. Now is that time,” Savikataaq told the assembly.

“Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. Women’s rights are human rights.”

Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone, who seconded the motion, thanked Savikataaq for his “swift action” to remove Netser.

“Freedom of expression does not equal freedom from consequence. The fact that the minister is still defending his position leads me to believe that there is no remorse,” Lightstone said.

In his statement, Netser apologized to the Black community but said his comments were not based on racism or gender violence.

“My reference to ‘all lives matter’ was certainly not stated in that context. And I would not have chosen these words if I knew they could be misconstrued as attempting to negate the struggles of my Black brothers and sisters,” Netser said.

Netser also said the Facebook post was an example of free speech.

“I understand that all lives cannot matter, if Black lives don’t matter. But my post on social media was meant to bring light to those without voices, the unborn,” he said.

“I did not make those statements in the house and I did not make them as a member of the executive council, but as an Inuk that values life.”

Netser also read a letter of support into the record from a friend, which questions whether people who criticize the government will be “picked up and shipped into the dark of the night to one of the many new internment camps across Canada.”

The letter also claims the federal government pays Canadian news media and mind control is imposed on people who speak out against the government.

Netsilik MLA Emiliano Qirngnuq told the assembly he would not support the motion to oust Netser because “we do have an expression of freedom” in Canada.

“We have to think about our children and the future of our children. We have to deeply reflect on our society’s values into the future,” Qirngnuq said

Justice Minister Jeannie Ehaloak told the assembly Netser’s comments were concerning. And politicians can’t say whatever they want, if their words have a negative impacts on people.

Speaking to reporters after the vote, Savikataaq said the decision to remove Netser was not easy but had to be made.

Because Nunavut has a consensus-style government, only a full caucus can remove cabinet members.

Netser, who represents Coral Harbour and Naujaat, is to stay on as an MLA.

A leadership forum is expected to take place next week to select Netser’s replacement in cabinet.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2020.

___

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian press News Fellowship

Emma Tranter, The Canadian Press

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Britain's Prince Charles wrote to support historic Australian PM sacking: media – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Britain’s Prince Charles sent a hand-written letter of support to Australia’s governor general in 1976, backing his controversial sacking of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, local media reported on Saturday.

The letter, published on Saturday by The Australian newspaper, is dated four months after Queen Elizabeth’s representative in Australia, John Kerr, took the unprecedented step to dismiss Whitlam without first warning the palace or the prime minister.

“Please don’t lose heart,” the heir to the British throne wrote in the hand-written letter to Kerr on Mar. 27.

“What you did last year was right and the courageous thing to do — and most Australians seemed to endorse your decision when it came to the point.”

The letter was revealed in an extract of a book “The Truth of the Palace Letters: Deceit, Ambush and Dismissal in 1975” by Paul Kelly and Troy Bramston, due to be published next month.

Whitlam’s firing remains one of the country’s most polarising political events because it represented an unmatched level of intervention by the Commonwealth.

Historians say the country was never told the full story behind Whitlam’s removal during a political deadlock over the Budget and in 2016, one historian sued Australia’s National Archives for access to letters between Kerr and the Queen.

In July, the 211 so-called “palace letters” were published, pulling the veil from one of the great mysteries of Australian politics, and re-igniting a conversation about whether the country should cut ties with Britain and become a republic.

(Reporting by Paulina Duran; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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