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Leaked emails: Fox News promised Betsy DeVos an “easy interview”

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Fox News sought to reassure Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that she would get an “easy interview” if she agreed to appear on anchor Maria Bartiromo’s show, according to a trove of emails reviewed by The Hollywood Reporter.

The emails show it took some urging from producers to get DeVos to agree to an interview.

“Remember any question she doesn’t feel comfortable answering — she can choose to not answer and pivot the topic — and Maria is seasoned enough to understand and move on. … So no worries on that front. This will be an easy interview and enjoyable,” a Fox producer wrote to DeVos’ press secretary in November of 2018, days before she appeared on the show.

“This should be totally fine,” DeVos’ spokesperson replied.

The appearance was later criticized by Media Matters as a “softball interview” in which Bartiromo “failed to ask a single question about either changes DeVos has initiated to rules about campus sexual assault, which would be harmful to survivors, or her failure to implement student debt forgiveness.”

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Instead, the interview focused on criticizing teachers’ unions and public education.

The email was one of thousands showing a cozy relationship between Fox News and the Trump administration, which has repeatedly sought to hire the network’s pundits and vice versa. The emails were obtained through a Freedom of Information lawsuit filed by the advocacy group Democracy Forward.

A February 2019 email showed that a staffer for Fox News anchor Bret Baier invited DeVos to accompany him to the annual Gridiron Dinner in Washington.

“Bret Baier would be honored if you would be his guest at the 2019 Gridiron Dinner,” the email said.

The following month, Baier appeared upset that DeVos agreed to appear on Dana Perino’s show but not his.

“Again?” Baier questioned in an email to a producer and two Education Department staffers. “Is there a reason why we were passed over for this?” Baier’s producers asked the department.

The relationship flowed both ways. The Education Department tried to set up a “coffee date” between DeVos and the hosts of “Fox & Friends” in April 2019 but two of the hosts were unavailable, according to the report.

Another email, sent by DeVos’ spokesperson in September 2019, asked the network to let DeVos roll out a new initiative on the network’s morning show.

“I’d love for her to come on [‘Fox & Friends’] on the last day of the tour, when she’ll be in her home state, in Detroit, to talk to your viewers about her education freedom agenda,” the email said.

Discussing an October interview with Baier, DeVos’ spokesperson sought to get ahead of any potentially problematic questions.

“Do you expect any off topic questions — impeachment, mulvaney, perry, etc. … please let me know if so,” the email said.

The emails also showed Fox News employees interacting with officials at the Homeland Security and Agriculture departments.

In one email to a USDA staffer, a Fox News producer asked for help finding a pro-Trump guest.

“We are looking for a Dairy farmer who supports President Trump’s advocacy for them and calling out Canada’s protectionist trade policy when it comes to milk,” the email said.

The relationship was so close that Trump administration staffers floated Fox personalities for White House jobs.

“They need a comms director,” Fox reporter John Roberts cautioned in a July 2017 email to then-Homeland Security spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman.

“Maybe a well-respected White House reporter with a national profile,” Hoffman replied.

“Uh……no thanks,” Roberts replied. “Like you… I like it right where I am.”

The communications director job ultimately went to longtime Trump aide Hope Hicks, who later left the position for a stint as Fox News’ communications chief before returning to the White House earlier this year. Hicks was replaced by former Fox News chief Bill Shine, who has also since left the White House.

The symbiotic relationship between the White House and the network frequently derided as “state TV” was on full display as the new coronavirus spread in the United States. The network first sought to echo Trump’s attempts to downplay the risk posed by the virus before quickly pivoting to a more serious tone after Trump changed his tune and finally acknowledged the crisis was “bad.”

Once Trump pivoted again on Monday and declared that it was more important to restart the economy than to save lives by locking down cities, the network quickly changed its tune as well, decrying the state of the economy and pushing unproven drugs touted by the president. The network hosted Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Monday, who argued that letting higher numbers of people die was a small sacrifice to save the economy.

“My heart is lifted tonight by what I heard the president say,” Patrick said. “My message is, let’s get back to work. Let’s get back to living. Let’s be smart about it. And those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country.”



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Education

Megxit: Where Harry and Meghan could send Archie to school

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  • The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will give up every aspect of royal life when they officially resign in April.
  • Its been rumored that they relocated to Vancouver island, but they reportedly moved to LA before Canada’s coronavirus border closure last week.
  • As Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s lives will change considerably, their son’s will too.
  • Even though Prince Harry (and 15 other royals) attended the notorious Eton College, baby Archie will probably not.
  • But he’ll undoubtedly receive a top-tier education. Business Insider rounded up potential playgrounds for him in Los Angeles and across Canada, including his mother’s alma mater, a school Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau taught at, and another school Trudeau attended himself.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced their plans to step back from their royal duties and titles in January. They will officially shut down their office at Buckingham Palace and stop receiving funds from the “sovereign grant” on April 1.

It was rumored the pair would relocate to Canada — they’ve been spending time on Vancouver Island — but they reportedly moved to LA last week before Canada’s border closed amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Their lives will change in a number of ways — but so will their son’s. 

Archie Mountbatten-Windsor is ten months old, and while he was born a royal, he won’t be raised as one. His father attended Eton College, an elite boarding school outside of London that members of the royal family traditionally attend, but Archie will most likely not follow in his footsteps.

Even though he won’t attend Eton, which has been referred to as “the nursery of England’s gentlemen,” Archie will probably receive a similarly top-tier education in Canada — or Hollywood.

Business Insider rounded up a few posh places he could land when it’s finally time for Archie to attend school. Elite prep schools on this list could have tuitions as high as nearly $80,000.

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Call police for COVID-19 offenses? Not that simple

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Police, Ottawa city councillors and news organizations have all been fielding complaints about people not complying with the instructions from public health officials on reducing the transmission of COVID-19.

Complaints from neighbours telling on neighbours who aren’t self-isolating, or groups of kids hanging out at a local park, not following social distancing — now called physical distancing — practices have been pouring in.

And people want to know where they can report those rule-breakers.

On Friday evening, for example, police were called to the Glebe after someone complained that about a dozen neighbours were having a “driveway party”, although they were standing two metres apart and in different driveways. Officers told people not to stand on the sidewalk while drinking, and then left. 

Ottawa Coun. Tim Tierney told his city council colleagues during Wednesday’s virtual council meeting: “I’ve had some people come to me, saying, ‘Look, my neighbours — I don’t want to be a rat — but they just got back from a trip, I see them going out to a grocery story.’

“Do we have any policies and procedures on that, to report people?” asked Tierney. 

The unsatisfactory answer: it depends.

Quarantine Act, state of emergency now in effect

There’s a difference between what public health officials are asking of society, and the hard-and-fast rules about what people are allowed to do. And those details are changing on an almost daily basis.

Tierney asked his question of city officials the day before the federal government enacted the Quarantine Act, which makes it an offence for most people not to self-isolate for 14 days when returning from travel outside Canada.

Last week, the province declared a state of emergency that prohibits, among other things, a whole slew of businesses from being open, and gatherings of more than 50 people.

The provinces have opened up non-compliance hotlines or websites for the public to report people who are not following social distancing or isolation rules. 1:56

The official enactments allow law-enforcement officers to charge people breaking these specific rules if necessary.  Staff Sgt. Carolle Dionne, the media spokesperson for the Ontario Provincial Police, says officers would, for example, absolutely respond to a request from a quarantine officer “to apprehend a person who failed to comply” with the rules.

But charging people is the last, not the first, line of defence for enforcement officers.

“It is not about, go and find people because they haven’t complied,” Dionne told CBC.

The OPP’s primary goal, she said, is to help educate people on how to reduce COVID-19 transmission.

“Once we’ve been able to determine that that piece of education has been done and there is a repetition of failing to comply, then definitely issuing fines … at the discretion of that investigation of the officer.”

Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly says he’s taking his cue, “philosophically and practically”, from Ottawa’s medical officer of health, Dr. Vera Etches and her team.

“For them, enforcement is not the priority,” Sloly told CBC’s Ottawa Morning host Robyn Bresnahan Friday. “Education of the public, engagement of those who still don’t recognize the risk, who don’t understand how to protect themselves and therefore protect the broader community, is the first and biggest priority and will remain so until we see a change from Dr. Etches.”

Officers following up, even if not illegal activities

Some of the complaints that people are filing — and authorities say they are following up on them — aren’t illegal or sometimes based on misunderstanding.

If you’re caught disobeying the physical distancing rule you can now be charged, under the Quarantine Act. We hear from the Chief of the Ottawa Police Service about how their force is handling coronavirus law-breakers and policing in the age of COVID-19. 10:09

For example, Ottawa police have received calls about restaurants being open illegally, when in fact they are open only for take-out, which is allowed.

Early this week, the city received complaints about groups of young people in local parks, which is against the recommendation for physical distancing. Hanging around in a gang of 10 friends isn’t illegal, though.

Still, the city’s by-law officers showed up and managed to dispatch them.

Now that the City of Ottawa has declared its own state of emergency and closed many public amenities, including playgrounds and dog parks, it is unclear what additional charges or fines its own by-law officers may be able to lay.

The city was not able to respond to CBC’s request from late Wednesday for more information.

Neighbours shouldn’t use police to settle disputes

Authorities say they understand people’s impulse to report activity that looks as if it could be endangering public health.

“I can certainly believe that there’d be a lot of frustration,” said Dionne.

(CBC News)

She says most people are complying with orders — official or otherwise — to stay home, and to stay two metres away from others when they have to go out. These folks then find it difficult to hear that “police can’t do anything” about people who aren’t complying.

There isn’t an official COVID-19 snitch line in Ottawa, but officials say they do want to hear serious concerns about public health risks. In Ottawa, residents can call 3-1-1, and those outside the city can call the OPP’s non-emergency line. 

Still, the police aren’t there to mediate disputes among neighbours.

“Do not use or abuse the police to settle issues that shouldn’t be dealt with through the police,” said Sloly. ” Do not frustrate the efforts of Ottawa public health by being petty or uninformed. There’s no excuse for anybody to not be informed.”

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Coronavirus: B.C. teachers scramble to organize at-home learning as spring break ends

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The B.C. government has launched a website to help parents continue their child’s education at home, as spring break comes to an end but the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The Keep Learning BC website was announced on Friday afternoon, where parents will find ideas for everyday educational activities, links to free learning resources, guides to maintaining routines and staying safe online, and mental health resources.

School districts around the province are trying to figure out remote instruction for kids of all ages, abilities and computer access, as spring break ends March 27 but in-classroom instruction remains on hold to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

The Vancouver School District will start to reach out to parents next week, after officials sent a letter to parents outlining plans to keep their kids learning.


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“For Vancouver students, school will not be the same. As you know, in-class instruction is suspended. This means there will be a fundamental shift in school services and supports for students,” the letter reads.

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“Teachers and support staff will need time to prepare and plan for what that looks like and how to carry out the plans to support students. One of our top three priorities is to establish ways to maintain supportive connections between home and school.”

Parents across B.C. should expect to hear from their own school district by the end of next week.

Teachers and administrators are still expected to be at schools if they can do so under B.C.’s public health orders. They’ll continue to be paid a full salary through the end of the school year.

“The school system will be functioning. People will be doing their jobs. They will just do them differently,” Education Minister Rob Fleming said.






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Schools will also serve as childcare space for essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as health workers, first responders and grocery-store workers. Parents looking for such childcare should contact their school’s principal.

The province is leaving most of the planning and decisions to individual districts, but has produced a fact sheet online with the most frequently asked questions.

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As for students with special learning needs, the government says it will ensure they get the same level of education as everyone else.






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“For students who were receiving specialized supports (e.g. physical therapy, occupational therapy) on-site, school district and independent school teams have been asked to consider alternate service delivery models where feasible,” the face sheet says.

The Learning Disabilities Society of Greater Vancouver launched the online RISE at Home program this week, which provides one-on-one at-home instruction to kids with learning disabilities. It will be available on the society’s website on March 30.



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