Tokyo’s top prosecutor set to resign
TOKYO — Tokyo’s top prosecutor was set to resign after a report that he gambled illegally during Japan’s coronavirus state of emergency, media said on Thursday, in a blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose support has been hit over his handling of the pandemic.
Hiromu Kurokawa, the chief of the Tokyo High Public Prosecutors Office, was due to resign, public broadcaster NHK said, citing a source. Other media had similar reports.
Kurokawa was hit with a social media backlash over a media report that he allegedly played mahjong for money during Japan’s state of emergency, potentially flouting social distancing guidelines. Gambling is illegal in Japan, with some exceptions.
Reuters was not immediately able to confirm the report or reach anyone at the prosecutors office for comment. No one was immediately available at the justice ministry outside of normal business hours.
Kurokawa, who is seen as close to Abe, has been at the center of a furore over the government’s efforts to raise the retirement age for prosecutors after he was allowed to stay in his post beyond retirement age of 63.
Earlier this week, Abe’s government gave up its push to enact a bill during the current session of parliament that would raise prosecutors’ retirement age to 65 from 63, and allow the cabinet to defer retirement of senior prosecutors for a further three years.
Critics said the change threatened judicial independence by allowing government-friendly prosecutors to be kept on.
Opposition party lawmakers and others also said the legislation was aimed at giving a retroactive legal basis to the decision to keep Kurokawa in his post.
“Naturally, there will be criticism (over Kurosawa),” independent political analyst Atsuo Ito said. “Certainly, it will be damaging.”
Public support for Abe has slipped over what critics say is his clumsy handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which has tipped the world’s third-largest economy into recession.
Abe was expected to lift the state of emergency in more regions on Thursday as new infections decline, moving to resume sorely needed economic activity.
Japan has not had the explosive surge seen in many other countries, with 16,433 confirmed cases including 784 deaths as of Wednesday, according to NHK. (Reporting by David Dolan and Linda Sieg; Editing by Sandra Maler and Stephen Coates)
Edited By Harry Miller
Vatican singles out bishops in urging reflective not reactive social media use
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican on Monday urged the Catholic faithful, and especially bishops, to be “reflective, not reactive” on social media, issuing guidelines to try to tame the toxicity on Catholic Twitter and other social media platforms and encourage users to instead be “loving neighbors.”
The Vatican’s communications office issued a “pastoral reflection” to respond to questions it has fielded for years about a more responsible, Christian use of social media and the risks online that accompany the rise of fake news and artificial intelligence.
For decades the Holy See has offered such thoughts on different aspects of communications technologies, welcoming the chances for encounter they offer but warning of the pitfalls. Pope Francis of late has warned repeatedly about the risk of young people being so attached to their cell phones that they stop face-to-face friendships.
The new document highlights the divisions that can be sown on social media, and the risk of users remaining in their “silos” of like-minded thinkers and rejecting those who hold different opinions. Such tendencies can result in exchanges that “can cause misunderstanding, exacerbate division, incite conflict, and deepen prejudices,” the document said.
It warned that such problematic exchanges are particularly worrisome “when it comes from church leadership: bishops, pastors, and prominent lay leaders. These not only cause division in the community but also give permission and legitimacy for others likewise to promote similar type of communication,” the message said.
The message could be directed at the English-speaking Catholic Twittersphere, where some prominent Catholic figures, including bishops, frequently engage in heated debates or polemical arguments that criticize Francis and his teachings.
The prefect of the communications office, Paolo Ruffini, said it wasn’t for him to rein in divisive bishops and it was up to their own discernment. But he said the general message is one of not feeding the trolls or taking on “behavior that divides rather than unites.”
Russia says U.S. Senator should say if Ukraine took his words out of context
MOSCOW, May 29 (Reuters) – Russia on Monday said U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham should say publicly if he believes his words were taken out of context by a Ukrainian state video edit of his comments about the war that provoked widespread condemnation in Moscow.
In an edited video released by the Ukrainian president’s office of Graham’s meeting with Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv on Friday, Graham was shown saying “the Russians are dying” and then saying U.S. support was the “best money we’ve ever spent”.
After Russia criticised the remarks, Ukraine released a full video of the meeting on Sunday which showed the two remarks were not directly linked.
Russia’s foreign ministry said Western media had sought to shield the senator from criticism and said that Graham should publicly state if he feels his words were taken out of context by the initial Ukrainian video edit.
“If U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham considers his words were taken out of context by the Ukrainian regime and he doesn’t actually think in the way presented then he can make a statement on video with his phone,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a video posted on Telegram.
“Only then will we know: does he think the way that was said or was it a performance by the Kyiv regime?”
Graham’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The initial video of Graham’s remarks triggered criticism from across Moscow, including from the Kremlin, Putin’s powerful Security Council and from the foreign ministry.
Graham said he had simply praised the spirit of Ukrainians in resisting a Russian invasion with assistance provided by Washington.
Graham said he had mentioned to Zelenskiy “that Ukraine has adopted the American mantra, ‘Live Free or Die.’ It has been a good investment by the United States to help liberate Ukraine from Russian war criminals.”
Russia’s interior ministry has put Graham on a wanted list after the Investigative Committee said it was opening a criminal probe into his comments. It did not specify what crime he was suspected of.
In response, Graham said: “I will wear the arrest warrant issued by Putin’s corrupt and immoral government as a Badge of Honor.
“…I will continue to stand with and for Ukraine’s freedom until every Russian soldier is expelled from Ukrainian territory.”
A South Carolina Republican known for his hawkish foreign policy views, Graham has been an outspoken champion of increased military support for Ukraine in its battle against Russia.
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Jamie Sarkonak: Liberals bring identity quotas to Canada Media Fund
In 2021, the Liberals said they would dramatically boost funding for the Canada Media Fund. And they did — but that funding came with diversity quotas and a new emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
The Canada Media Fund is supposed to oversee a funding pool that supports the creation of Canadian media projects in the areas of drama, kids’ programming, documentaries and even video games. According to its most recent annual report, about half its revenue ($184 million) comes from the federal government through the Department of Canadian Heritage (another near-half comes from broadcasting companies through the country’s broadcasting regulator, the CRTC). The department also has the power to appoint two of the fund’s board members.
The Canada Media Fund is doing a lot more than broadly funding content creation, though. With more federal funding brought in after the past election, it is now responsible for greenlighting projects to meet identity quotas set out by the Liberals.
According to the Canada Media Fund’s contract with Canadian Heritage, which has been obtained by the National Post through a previously-completed access to information request, the number of projects funded with government-sourced dollars and led by “people of equity-deserving groups” will have to amount to 45 by 2024. The number of “realized projects” for people of these groups must amount to 25 by 2024. Finally, by 2024, a quarter of funded “key creative positions” must be held by people from designated diversity groups.
These funding quotas are similar to the CBC’s new diversity requirements for budgeting. When the CBC’s broadcasting licence was renewed by the CRTC last year, it was required to dedicate 30 per cent of its independent content production budget to diverse groups, which will rise to 35 per cent in 2026. While the CRTC is arm’s-length from government, a Liberal-appointed CRTC commissioner appeared eager to impose quotas that were on par with the governing party’s agenda on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
The government’s agreement with the Canada Media Fund also sets aside $20 million of the new money explicitly for people considered diverse enough to check a box — anyone from “sovereignty-seeking” and “equity-seeking” groups.
“’Sovereignty- and Equity-Seeking Community’ refers to the individuals who identify as women, First Nations, Métis, Inuit, Racialized, 2SLGBTQ+, Persons with disabilities/Disabled Persons, Regional, and Official Language Minority Community,” reads the Canada Media Fund’s explainer on who gets diversity status.
Aside from getting mandatory coverage through the use of quotas, the groups listed above are shielded with “narrative positioning” policies that took effect this year. If the main character, key storyline, or subject matter has anything to do with the above groups, creators must either be from that group or take “comprehensive measures that have and will be undertaken to create the content responsibly, thoughtfully and without harm.” These can include consultations, sharing of ownership rights, and hiring policies from the community. While narrative requirements weren’t mandated by the Liberals in their grant to the fund, they complement the overall DEI strategy.
Storytellers vying for certain grants have to sign an attestation form agreeing with the narrative policy and write a compliance plan if their works have anything to do with the above groups. Plainly, it’s a force of narrative control.
This doesn’t go both ways; women can make documentaries about men consult-free, non-white people can make TV dramas about white people consult-free, and so on.
Statistically, diversity is being tracked on a internal system that logs the identities of key staff and leadership on every Canada Media Fund project. The diversity repository was rolled out this year. Internal documents indicate these stats will be used to monitor program progress and adjust policy going forward.
These changes are all directly linked to a Liberal platform point on media modernization. In the 2021 Liberal platform, the party committed to doubling the government’s contribution to the fund. Since then, the Liberal platform has been cited directly in internal documents outlining the Canada Media Fund’s three-year growth strategy (which explains how the new money will be used, in part, to ramp up DEI efforts).
Together, it looks like both the fund, and the party responsible for doubling its taxpayer support are more concerned about the identities of filmmakers and TV producers than the actual media being produced.
Creators should be able to tell stories about others without the narrative department’s oversight — the more narrative control, the more it starts to sound like propaganda. Good creators wanting to tell an authentic story should conduct research and be respectful of the people they cover — but they shouldn’t be bound to consultations and ownership agreements.
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