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Wed, 01 Dec 2021
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CRTC plan to lift ban on false news prompts political investigation

© Sean Kilpatrick / The Globe and Mail
CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein is seen through a camera monitor during a hearing in Gatineau, Que. on April 8, 2008.
A CRTC proposal that could make it easier to broadcast false or misleading news has prompted confusion and criticism among opposition MPs and consternation in at least one of the unions that represents Canadian journalists.

It has also led to allegations of interference by the Prime Minister's Office and a hastily called investigation by federal politicians, who were caught off guard by the move.
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A little-watched committee of Parliament has been pressing the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for many years to do something about a regulation that bans the broadcast of false or misleading news because the wording appears to contravene the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Andrew Kania, the rookie MP who is the chairman of the joint committee for the scrutiny of regulations, said on Monday the committee has been asking the CRTC about the regulation for a decade.


UK: I Don't Give A Monkey's ... But Someone Has to Say Something About Julian Assange's 'Black Box'

© Unknown
Julian Assange
If you watch CNN or just about any other 'news network' you will now have heard Julian Assange's statement after the first day in court, in London, yesterday. I've heard it perhaps more than most since I watch three different news channels (at once) - no easy feat, but I digress.

I was taken aback by Assange's use of what I suspect he thought was 'cryptic' language (read: flowery) and as most will recognise, cryptic language and masturbation have a lot in common - but something about what he said and how he said it just doesn't add up for me.

Firstly, if the United States really wanted to 'grab' him, they'd pull him off the street in London (or any other place he might travel to) or from his posh country home and yes, even in Australia... Anyone familiar with current events will already know that the U.S. government is one of the most prolific terrorist organisations in the world - regularly snatching people off the streets and using torture to justify their actions around the globe (but don't get me started).


US: The Judicial Crackdown on Jury Rights Activists in Florida

© FIJA.org
It would appear that a judge in Orlando, Florida, Belvin Perry, Jr. , likes his juries not to know that they have the option to nullify the law. He has put out an administrative order "GOVERNING EXPRESSIVE CONDUCT TOWARD SUMMONED JURORS". The order may be read in its entirety here.

Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA) activists have been tireless in their efforts to educate Florida juries of their power to nullify the law if they disagree with it or its application. Otherwise juries would be reduced to mere rubber stamps with the government able to convict anyone of anything they choose to make illegal. This is an established principle of law.

The judge is claiming that FIJA activists are trying "to influence summoned jurors as they enter the courthouse" by handing them brochures. (Actually, the brochures are handed out to all who enter or leave the courthouse.) The brochures don't tell jurors how to vote on specific cases they merely inform them of one of their options. Sadly, the judge's view is that "Such occurrences severely impact the court's ability to conduct the efficient, prompt, and proper administration of justice"". Therefore, stopping the FIJA activists' exercise of free speech ""is necessary to serve the State's compelling interest in protecting the integrity of the jury system"". With this Orwellian statement judge Perry has given himself away. What could possibly be more conducive to ""protecting the integrity of the jury system"" than informing juries of one of their powers? Does the judge not want to see the jury system working as it should, as a check on tyrannical government? It would seem not, otherwise he would welcome the FIJA activists educational efforts at his court. Obviously, the judge likes his juries obedient and easily manipulated.


U.S. Military Purchases Gulf of Mexico Seafood, Boosting an Industry Battered by Oil Spill

© David Rae Morris
Workers shuck raw oysters at Motivatit Seafood in Houma, La. Sales of oysters, fish and other seafood products from the Gulf of Mexico dropped dramatically after last year's BP oil spill.
Sales of Gulf of Mexico seafood are getting a boost from the military after being hammered by last year's BP oil spill, which left consumers fearing that the water's bounty had been tainted.

Ten products, including fish, shrimp, oysters, crab cakes, and packaged Cajun dishes such as jambalaya and shrimp etouffee are being promoted at 72 base commissaries along the East Coast, said Milt Ackerman, president of Military Solutions Inc., which is supplying seafood to the businesses.

Gulf seafood sales fell sharply after a BP gulf well blew out in April, spewing millions of gallons of oil into the sea. Consumers have long feared that fish, oysters and other products could be tainted by oil and chemicals used to fight the spill, although extensive testing has indicated the food is safe. The perception has lingered - along with the poor sales.

Bobby Barnett, a shrimper in Pass Christian, Miss., said he was glad the U.S. government was embracing domestic and not imported seafood.

"Every sale helps us out, and we need some help to come back," Barnett said. "You would have thought they would have been buying U.S. seafood all along."

The Defense Department-run Defense Commissary Agency - known as DeCa - sells groceries to military personnel, reservists, retirees and their families at cost plus a 5 percent surcharge. The stores have emphasized healthy diets as part of first lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" fitness and health campaign.


US: Bedbug Cases On Pace to Triple in NYC Public Schools

Schools reported 1,700 confirmed bedbug cases in first five months of school year

Bedbugs are plaguing New York City public schools like never before, according to the latest stats from the Department of Education.

City schools reported 1,700 confirmed bedbug cases in just the first five months of the school year -- a rate that's on pace to triple last year's total of 1,019 cases.

The parasitic pests have thrived in the winter season, it appears, with 80 percent of cases having been reported during November, December and January.

"It's just an outbreak and I don't know how they can stop it," said Wendy Tatum, a mother at PS 54 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, one of hundreds of schools to have had at least one confirmed case.

The Dept. of Ed is required to record any incidents where an infestation is found, but spokesperson Marge Feinberg said this uptick in cases is fueled not by infestations but by individual students who come to school with bedbugs.

"It is important to know that schools are not hospitable places for bedbugs," Feinberg said. "They are brought into schools from the clothing."


Mafia 'holds compromising Silvio Berlusconi photos'

Fabrizio Corona
Fabrizio Corona is known as the 'king of the paparazzi'
A leading Italian photographer has alleged that mafia gangsters claim to possess compromising photos of Silvio Berlusconi at wild "bunga bunga" sex parties.

Fabrizio Corona, who runs a celebrity photography agency, claimed that members of the Camorra mafia in Naples are trying to sell the alleged images to gossip magazines.

"Representatives from a big weekly magazine went to Naples to buy photos of Berlusconi from the underworld," he told an Italian television programme.

He said there were nude pictures of the Italian prime minister, but later appeared to backtrack, saying none of the images were "obscene".

Mr Corona, who is known as the "king of the paparazzi," also claimed that there had been a mysterious break-in at his photo agency, with thieves stealing several computer discs from his extensive picture archives, although he denied that he had any photos of Mr Berlusconi.

Prosecutors are expected to request as early as today that the prime minister, 74, be sent for trial on allegations of paying for sex with an underage prostitute, an erotic dancer known as Ruby the Heart Stealer, and of abusing his office by having her released on theft charges.

Black Cat

Romania may get even tougher on witches

Romanian witch
© Vadim Ghirda / Associated Press
There's more bad news in the cards for Romania's beleaguered witches.

A month after Romanian authorities began taxing them for their trade, the country's soothsayers and fortune tellers are cursing a new bill that threatens fines or even prison if their predictions don't come true.

Superstition is a serious matter in the land of Dracula, and officials have turned to witches to help the recession-hit country collect more money and crack down on tax evasion.

Witches argue they shouldn't be blamed for the failure of their tools.

"They can't condemn witches, they should condemn the cards," Queen Witch Bratara Buzea told The Associated Press by telephone.

Critics say the proposal is a ruse to deflect public attention from the country's many problems. In 2009, Romania needed a euro20 billion ($27.31 billion) International Monetary Fund-led bailout loan to pay salaries and pensions when its economy contracted more than 7 percent. Last year, the economy shrank again. However, this year a slight recovery of 1.5 percent growth is forecast.

Arrow Down

Queensland Floods Hit Australian Businesses Nationwide

The Queensland floods have hit businesses all across Australia, with a National Australia Bank survey estimating they cut 5 per cent off the revenue of large and medium-sized businesses.

Not surprisingly, the biggest hit was to Queensland businesses, where revenue was down 9.8 per cent and the utilisation of machinery was down 13.8 per cent.

But other states were also hit, with a 4 per cent drop in business revenue in NSW and Victoria during last month attributed to the Queensland floods.


Australia wheat exports jump in Dec; floods may cut Jan sales

Australian wheat exports jumped in December after late plantings and weather difficulties dragged November shipments down but rail and port closures due to floods in January may cause another dip in exports.

Exports in December from the world's fourth-largest wheat exporter totalled 1.28 million tonnes, up from 914,200 tonnes in November and also up on the 1.08 million tonnes a year ago, according to data from Australian Bureau of Statistics.


Flu epidemic spreads in Russia

Russian flu epidemic
© RIA Novosti
The flu and acute respiratory viral infection are spreading in Russia, with more than 60 regions having been affected by now.

A drastic increase in the number of sick people has prompted the closure of kindergartens and schools in the Komi Republic.