Mulroney honours Gorbachev, group funding review : In The News for August 31 2022

By The Canadian Press

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Aug. 31 …

What we are watching in Canada …

      Former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney says Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, was a “great man” who will be “sorely missed” on the world stage.

     Gorbachev, who during his seven years in power made dramatic reforms that paved the way for the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, died Tuesday at a Moscow hospital at 91.

     Mulroney said in an interview that while U.S. president Ronald Reagan gets a lot of credit for ending the Cold War without a shot, “it takes two to tango,” and Gorbachev was an indispensable leader on the other side.

     “President Gorbachev will go down in history as an iconic leader and one who accomplished a great deal for humanity,” he said.

     The former prime minister says he first met Gorbachev in March 1985 and found him to be a breath of fresh air compared to the “stuffy and stultified and un-visionary” Soviet leaders he was used to.

     “He was quite charming and direct, alert, and you could tell then that he wanted to do business,” Mulroney said.

     He remembers meeting with Reagan a few days later in Quebec City and telling the president that he expected Gorbachev to be an excellent interlocutor.

     Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for his role in ending the Cold War and easing nuclear tensions, but he was derided at home as the Soviet Union fell apart. The country had fallen apart in his hands.

     His power sapped by an attempted coup against him in August 1991, Gorbachev spent his last months in office watching republic after republic declare independence until he resigned on Dec. 25, 1991, and the Soviet Union wrote itself into oblivion a day later.

     By the end of his rule, he was powerless to halt the whirlwind he had sown. Yet Gorbachev may have had a greater impact on the second half of the 20th century than any other political figure.

Also this …

        The federal government is conducting a “complete review” of funding to an anti-racism group whose senior consultant sent a series of tweets about “Jewish white supremacists,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.

     The government has put a stop to all funding to the Community Media Advocacy Centre and is putting in place procedures “to make sure this never happens again,” he said at a press conference.

     “It is absolutely unacceptable that federal dollars have gone to this organization that has demonstrated xenophobia, racism and antisemitism.”

     Last week, Diversity Minister Ahmed Hussen, who was also at the press conference, cut $133,000 in government funding to the Community Media Advocacy Centre and suspended an anti-racism project it was overseeing after “reprehensible and vile” tweets posted by its senior consultant, Laith Marouf, came to light.

        Opposition MPs are calling for a full audit of funding to CMAC from government departments and through federal programs, including for its involvement in proceedings run by Canada’s federal broadcasting regulator.

        CMAC describes itself on its website as a non-profit organization supporting the “self-determination of Indigenous, racialized and disabled peoples in the media through research, relationship-building, advocacy and learning.”

What we are watching in the U.S. …

    Young people are following the news, but aren’t too happy with what they’re seeing.

    Broadly speaking, that’s the conclusion of a study released Wednesday showing 79% of young Americans say they get news daily. The survey of young people ages 16 to 40 _ the older of which are known as millennials and the younger Generation Z _ was conducted by Media Insight Project, a collaboration between The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute.

    The report pokes holes in the idea that young people aren’t interested in news, a perception largely driven by statistics showing older audiences for television news and newspapers.

    “They are more engaged in more ways than people give them credit for,” said Michael Bolden, CEO and executive director of the American Press Institute.

    An estimated 71% of this age group gets news daily from social media. The social media diet is becoming more varied; Facebook doesn’t dominate the way it used to. About a third or more get news each day from YouTube and Instagram, and about a quarter or more from TikTok, Snapchat and Twitter. Now, 40% say they get news from Facebook daily, compared with 57% of millennials who said that in a 2015 Media Insight Project survey. 

    Yet 45% also said they get news each day from traditional sources, like television or radio stations, newspapers and news websites.

    The poll found that about a quarter of young people say they regularly pay for at least one news product, like print or digital magazines or newspapers, and a similar percentage have donated to at least one nonprofit news organization.

    Only 32% say they enjoy following the news. That’s a marked decrease from seven years ago, when 53% of millennials said that. Fewer young people now say they enjoy talking with family and friends about the news.

    Other findings, such as people who say they feel worse the longer they spend online or who set time limits on their consumption, point to a weariness with the news, said Tom Rosenstiel, a University of Maryland journalism professor.

    “I wasn’t surprised by that,” Bolden said. “It has been a challenging news cycle, especially the last three years.”

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

      Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Wednesday his ruling party will cut ties with the Unification Church following a widening scandal triggered by former leader Shinzo Abe’s assassination last month, and apologized for causing the loss of public trust in politics.

     Widespread cozy ties between members of Kishida’s governing Liberal Democratic Party, many of them belonging to Abe’s faction, and the South Korean-born church have surfaced since Abe was shot to death while giving a campaign speech in July.

     The suspect, Tetsuya Yamagani, who was arrested at the scene, allegedly told police he killed Abe because of his apparent link to the church. In a letter seen by The Associated Press and social media posts believed to be his, Yamagani said he believed his mother’s large donations to the church had ruined his life.

     Some Japanese have expressed understanding, even sympathy, as details of the man’s life emerged, creating deep implications for the political party that has governed Japan virtually uninterrupted since the Second World War.

     The Unification Church, which was founded in South Korea in 1954 and came to Japan a decade later, has built close ties with a host of conservative lawmakers over their shared interests of opposing communism. Abe’s grandfather and former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi was a key figure who helped the church’s political unit in Tokyo.

On this day in 1994 …

Thousands of Russian soldiers of the once-mighty Soviet empire completed their historic withdrawal from Eastern Europe — symbolizing the end of the Second World War and the Cold War.

In entertainment …

     Arcade Fire is being yanked from the airwaves at some Canadian radio stations amid sexual misconduct allegations against lead singer Win Butler.

     A representative for CBC says the broadcaster will “pause” playing the Montreal rock act on its CBC Music FM radio station and the Sirius XM channel CBC Radio 3, “until we learn more about the situation.”

     Meanwhile, Ian March, program director at Toronto’s Indie88, confirmed the indie rock station made “a quick decision over the weekend to pull the band’s music.”

     He says Indie88 has “not yet had a fulsome internal conversation about the permanence of this decision.”

     Representatives at Bell Media, Corus Entertainment and Rogers Communications _ three of Canada’s major radio broadcasters with stations that play Arcade Fire _ did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

     On Saturday, music publication Pitchfork ran a story containing allegations of inappropriate sexual interactions against four people by the 42-year-old musician. The Canadian Press could not independently verify the accounts outlined in the report.

Did you see this?

      Coalition Avenir Quebec Leader Francois Legault found himself on the defensive Tuesday, forced to justify his government’s strict COVID-19 rules during a visit to a riding contested by the upstart Conservative Party of Quebec.

     Beauce-Sud, south of Quebec City and bordering the United States, is located in a part of the province known for its conservative politics, entrepreneurial spirit _ and particular disdain for Legault’s pandemic restrictions. The Conservatives were not a factor in the 2018 election, but under leader Eric Duhaime they have risen sharply in the polls since he started attacking the CAQ for its management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

     Legault told reporters on Day 3 of the election campaign that he imposed strict COVID-19 rules _ including a months-long curfew _ to save lives, adding that most Quebecers appreciate how difficult it was to make decisions during that time.

     “I took the measures that I thought best represented the common good,” he said. “It’s not easy making this kind of decision _ I didn’t make it for pleasure; I did it to save lives.”

     He said Quebecers were “extremely united” in the fight against COVID-19 and showed high rates of compliance with measures _ including by having one of the highest first-dose vaccination rates in the world.

     Legault repeatedly declined to expressly name his Conservative counterpart; instead, the CAQ leader accused certain party leaders of wanting to bring anti-government discontent into the legislature.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 31, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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