A look at what’s In The News for Oct. 15

This Sept. 1, 2020 photo provided by San Diego Zoo Global shows Kurt, a tiny horse who is actually a clone. Little Kurt looks like any other baby horse as he frolics playfully in his pen. But the 2-month-old, dun-colored colt was created by fusing cells taken from an endangered Przewalski's horse at the San Diego Zoo in 1980. The cells were infused with an egg from a domestic horse that gave birth to Kurt two months ago. The baby boy was named for Kurt Benirschke, a founder of the San Diego Zoo's Frozen Zoo, where thousands of cell cultures are stored. Scientists hope he'll help restore the Przewalski's population, which numbers only about 2,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Christine Simmons/San Diego Zoo Global via AP

This Sept. 1, 2020 photo provided by San Diego Zoo Global shows Kurt, a tiny horse who is actually a clone. Little Kurt looks like any other baby horse as he frolics playfully in his pen. But the 2-month-old, dun-colored colt was created by fusing cells taken from an endangered Przewalski’s horse at the San Diego Zoo in 1980. The cells were infused with an egg from a domestic horse that gave birth to Kurt two months ago. The baby boy was named for Kurt Benirschke, a founder of the San Diego Zoo’s Frozen Zoo, where thousands of cell cultures are stored. Scientists hope he’ll help restore the Przewalski’s population, which numbers only about 2,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Christine Simmons/San Diego Zoo Global via AP

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 Oct. 15.

What we are watching in Canada …

Trust.

Capt. Kirk Sullivan is talking about running what has become one of the most talked-about Twitter accounts in the federal government.

In particular, he is explaining why he doesn’t have to get approval before posting his tweets online.

That includes an instantly famous tweet with a picture of a Canadian sailor and his male partner kissing in February 2016 with the words #ProudBoys and pictures of Canadian and Pride flags.

The tweet garnered worldwide attention — and countless accolades — by touting the Canadian military’s policy of welcoming LGBTQ members while trolling the right-wing Proud Boys group.

“I have the trust of my leadership,” Sullivan says, “which is invaluable, and I’m humbled and appreciate it.”

Sullivan has been running the “Canadian Forces in the U.S.” Twitter account from Canada’s embassy in Washington since June 2018.


Also this …

A civil rights group is threatening New Brunswick’s government with a lawsuit to force the province to repeal its abortion-related legislation and to make the procedure more widely available.

New Brunswick denies women, girls, and trans people fair access to abortions, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said in an Oct. 14 letter to Premier Blaine Higgs and Health Minister Dorothy Shephard.

If the government doesn’t repeal its “discriminatory laws” on abortion and give wider access to the procedure, “we are prepared to commence legal proceedings,” the letter reads.

Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, a director with the group, said New Brunswick is violating citizens’ rights under the Charter.

“It’s a fundamental rights issue and it’s a matter of constitutionality and the province has not been willing to budge for a long time,” she said in an interview Wednesday.

The association is targeting regulation 84-20 under New Brunswick’s Medical Services Payment Act. That rule states the province will not subsidize the cost of an abortion conducted outside a “hospital facility approved by the jurisdiction in which the hospital facility is located.”


What we are watching in the U.S. …

Melania Trump said Wednesday that her and the president’s teenage son, Barron, tested positive for the coronavirus not long after his parents, but had no symptoms. She made the revelation in a lengthy note chronicling her personal experience with COVID-19, including being hit with a “roller coaster” of symptoms that she treated naturally with vitamins and healthy food.

Mrs. Trump said she is now negative and hopes to resume her duties soon.

After she and President Donald Trump tested positive earlier this month, the White House said 14-year-old Barron had tested negative. Barron later tested positive for the virus but had no symptoms, she said Wednesday, adding that he has since tested negative again.

The president, speaking at a campaign rally Wednesday night in Iowa, was cavalier about Barron’s infection, saying, “He had it for such a short period of time, I don’t even think he knew that he had it.”

“Barron is just fine,” Trump added, using his son’s quick recovery as part of his pitch to reopen schools. “It happens. People have it and it goes. Get the kids back to school. We’ve got to get the kids back to school.”

Mrs. Trump shared that after she and her husband first received their positive results, “naturally, my mind went immediately to our son.” She said she was relieved when he tested negative at first, but kept thinking about what would happen in the days to come.

“My fear came true when he was tested again and it came up positive,” the first lady wrote in a statement released to social media.


Also this …

President Donald Trump on Wednesday sought to shore up support from constituencies that not so long ago he thought he had in the bag: big business and voters in the red state of Iowa.

In a morning address to business leaders, he expressed puzzlement that they would even consider supporting his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, arguing that his own leadership was a better bet for a strong economy. Later, the president held his third campaign rally in three nights, this time in Iowa, a state he won handily in 2016 but where Biden is making a late push.

Trump claimed to be leading in the most recent poll he saw. “For me to only be up six, I’m a little bit concerned,” he asserted. Multiple polls have shown a much closer race.

Biden, for his part, held a virtual fundraiser from Wilmington, Delaware, and delivered pretaped remarks to American Muslims. He did not have any public campaign events, unusual for just 20 days out from Election Day.

The Democratic nominee used his appearance at the fundraiser to say that Trump was trying to rush through Amy Coney Barrett, his nominee for the Supreme Court, to help his efforts to repeal the Obama health care law, calling that “an abuse of power.”

Biden was expected to spend much of the day preparing for a town-hall-style TV appearance in battleground Pennsylvania on Thursday, which was to have been the night of the second presidential debate.

Instead, the candidates will have dueling town halls on network television — Trump’s in Miami and sponsored by NBC News, Biden’s in Philadelphia and on ABC. Trump backed out of plans for the originally scheduled presidential faceoff after debate organizers shifted the format to a virtual event following Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis.


What we are watching in the rest of the world …

In the final days of campaigning before New Zealand holds an election on Saturday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is being greeted like a rock star.

Hundreds of students are crammed into a common area at the Victoria University of Wellington to hear her speak, and her message of hope is being punctuated by thunderous applause. One student volunteer looks on the verge of tears while others are shrieking or singing.

It’s an unusually emotive display in a country where people often pride themselves on keeping things low key.

And yet as Ardern talks in uplifting tones about her plans to address mental health and climate change, she never mentions what many around the world consider her greatest success: leading the effort to stamp out the coronavirus from the nation’s shores.

Nobody in the crowd is social distancing or wearing a mask — they don’t need to because the virus is no longer spreading in New Zealand. Life has returned to normal in the country of 5 million and Ardern’s popularity has skyrocketed as a result.

“There is cause for optimism,” Ardern tells the crowd. “There is cause for hope. There is reason, I hope, for all of you to look to New Zealand and feel proud — but also, feel willing to keep pushing us to do more, to be more.”

Opinion polls indicate Ardern is on track to win a second term as prime minister. Her liberal Labour Party is polling far ahead of the conservative National Party, led by Judith Collins.

Ardern, 40, is greeted with the same enthusiasm on walkabouts, where her security detail looks nervous as people crush to get selfies with her. Judy Buot, a nurse, came to the Queensgate Shopping Centre near Wellington to see Ardern and said she admires her virus leadership.


Also this …

The advertisement by the popular Indian jewelry brand featured a Muslim man and his Hindu wife preparing for a Hindu-style baby shower. Its tagline read: “A beautiful confluence of two different religions, traditions and cultures.”

But just days after the 45-second advertisement aired, the Tanishq brand withdrew it from TV channels and its social media platforms on Tuesday, following a backlash from Hindu nationalists, including members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. They said the ad promoted “love jihad,” a conspiracy theory used by radical Hindu groups who accuse Muslim men of converting Hindu women by marriage.

The withdrawal of the ad drew sharp criticism from many in India who said the company was succumbing to right-wing extremists. It also shed light on the country’s growing religious polarization under Modi, whose party and supporters envision the country as a Hindu nation and are accused by critics of normalizing anti-Muslim sentiment.

Tanishq said in a statement Tuesday that the ad was meant to celebrate diversity but that it decided to withdraw it due to the “divergent and severe reactions.” It said the decision was made keeping in mind the “well-being” of the company’s employees and partners.

The jewelry brand is part of the Tata Group, one of the largest conglomerates in India.

This isn’t the first time an Indian brand has faced the ire of Hindu nationalists.

Last year, an ad for a detergent powder faced backlash after it sought to promote its brand showing Hindu-Muslim harmony. It showed a Hindu girl saving her Muslim friend from getting smeared with colored powder during the Hindu festival of Holi. The ad drew calls for a boycott and was accused of being “Hindu-phobic.”


In entertainment …

A French museum has postponed an exhibit about Mongol Emperor Genghis Khan citing interference by the Chinese government, which it accuses of trying to rewrite history.

The Château des ducs de Bretagne history museum in the western city of Nantes said that it was putting the show about the fearsome 13th century leader on hold for over three years.

In a statement Monday, the museum’s director Bertrand Guillet said “we made the decision to stop this production in the name of the human, scientific and ethical values that we defend.”

It said the Chinese authorities demanded that certain words, including “Genghis Khan,” “Empire” and “Mongol” be taken out of the show. Subsequently, it said that they asked for power over exhibition brochures, legends and maps.

The spat comes as China has taken a tougher line against ethnic Mongols, many of whom live in the northern province of Inner Mongolia.

The exhibit was planned in collaboration with the Inner Mongolia Museum in Hohhot, China. But tensions arose, the Nantes museum said, when the Chinese Bureau of Cultural Heritage pressured the museum for changes to the original plan, “including notably elements of biased rewriting of Mongol culture in favour of a new national narrative.”

The museum branded it “censorship” and said it underlined a “hardening … of the position of the Chinese government against the Mongolian minority.”

The Chinese consulate in Paris did not immediately return calls for comment.


Also this …

Top Bollywood filmmakers and industry unions have filed a lawsuit against two popular TV news channels, asking them to refrain from “irresponsible, derogatory and defamatory remarks against Bollywood and its members.”

The lawsuit, filed Monday, comes months after India’s freewheeling television news channels took on Bollywood, India’s Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai, with a spree of allegations following the suspected suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput in June.

The case fueled months of speculation from news channels who held filmmakers who had rejected Rajput for roles partly responsible for his suicide and accused many Bollywood celebrities of being part of a drug cartel that drove the actor to take his life. An investigation that is looking into alleged drug trafficking in Bollywood is being carried out by India’s federal narcotics agency.

Rajput, 34, was found dead in his Mumbai apartment on June 4 in what police said appeared to be a case of suicide. The case is still being investigated.

Monday’s lawsuit saw some of Bollywood’s biggest names, including superstar actors Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar, come together against news channels Republic TV and Times Now.

“These Defendants are conducting and publishing parallel private ‘investigations’ and effectively acting as ‘courts’ to condemn persons connected with Bollywood as guilty based on what they claim is ‘evidence’ found by them,” the plaintiffs said in a statement, referring to the two news channels.

The plaintiffs said they sought “redress against the irresponsible, derogatory and defamatory reporting” by the two television news channels and their leading anchors.


ICYMI …

Little Kurt looks like any other baby horse as he frolics playfully in his pen. He isn’t afraid to kick or head-butt an intruder who gets in his way and, when he’s hungry, dashes over to his mother for milk.

But 2-month-old Kurt differs from every other baby horse of his kind in one distinct way: He’s a clone.

The rare, endangered Przewalski’s horse was created from cells taken from a stallion that had sat frozen at the San Diego Zoo for 40 years before they were fused with an egg from a domestic horse.

With the egg’s nucleus removed, ensuring Kurt would be basically all Przewalski’s horse, they were implanted in the mare who would become his mom on Aug. 6.

The result, officials say, was the world’s first cloned Przewalski’s horse.

Scientists have cloned nearly two dozen kinds of mammals, including dogs, cats, pigs, cows and polo ponies. In 2018, researchers in China created monkeys for the first time using the cloning techniques that produced Dolly the sheep.

The zoo sees Kurt’s birth as a milestone in efforts to restore the population of the horse also known as the Asiatic Wild Horse or Mongolian Wild Horse. The small, stocky animals (they stand only about 4 to 5 feet tall at the withers) are believed extinct in the wild and number only about 2,000 in zoos and wildlife habitats. Their limited gene pool puts them at a reproductive disadvantage.


Oct. 15, 2020.