Locked out stagehands say Exhibition Place Board not interested in negotiations

The president of the union representing workers locked out of Toronto’s Exhibition Place says planned talks with the venue’s board of governors are now in “jeopardy.”

Justin Antheunis, president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 58, issued a statement Saturday morning accusing the board of not being interested in reaching a negotiated settlement.

He said the city walked away from the bargaining table after a 12-hour meeting on Friday, referring to the Exhibition Place’s board of governors, which is made up of a designate for the mayor, four council members and four public appointees, according to its website.

“The ExPlace board of governors is just paying lip service to city council,” Antheunis said in the statement.

“We came back to the table today to try and find a way to end the lockout, to get our members back to work with a fair contract, but the city isn’t interested in reaching a deal.”

Locked out stagehands say Exhibition Place Board not interested in negotiations

Russian Feminist Blogger Investigated For Potential Hate Speech Against Men

A self-described “radical feminist” in Russia is facing potential criminal charges over social-media posts that she says investigators could deem hate speech against men.

Lyubov Kalugina, a 31-year-old blogger in the Siberian city of Omsk, said this week that investigators have opened a preliminary probe into material dating back to 2013 that she posted on the Russian social-networking site VKontakte.

The probe comes amid a mounting public debate in Russia about a broad crackdown on online speech in recent years — including reposts and likes on social media sites such as Facebook — that critics say authorities are using to stymie dissent and boost conviction rates.

It was first disclosed on August 22 by the SOVA Center, a respected Moscow-based extremism watchdog, which said it was informed by Kalugina that she could face hate speech charges punishable by up to five years in prison.

Kalugina, who describes herself as a “radical feminist” and supports “separating women from men at all levels,” told RFE/RL by telephone that the probe was launched last year and that she met with investigators earlier this month. She has yet to be formally charged.

“They told me that a criminal case is in the works. I declined to give testimony because I understood that my testimony in this situation would in any case be twisted and used against me,” she said.

‘Little Real Threat’

Kalugina said that neither she nor her attorney have been informed specifically which posts investigators are currently examining. In an August 23 VKontakte post, she published screenshots of some materials that she said were cited by investigators when the probe was opened last year.

One meme shows a woman wielding a frying pan with the caption: “Beat up a brute, save Russia!” Other materials include texts featuring profanity and violent imagery.

Kalugina told RFE/RL she does not believe any of her VKontakte posts constitute hate speech or would incite violence.

“I don’t think there is any reason whatsoever to charge me with hate speech toward anyone,” she said, adding that “90 percent of the content consists of jokes or infighting with other feminists.”

Kalugina says the individual who filed a complaint against her with prosecutors “clearly just didn’t understand what or who was being discussed.”

The SOVA Center said that while some of Kalugina’s content could be seen as calling for violence against men, it poses little real threat and should not result in criminal charges.

The press office of the federal Investigative Committee’s regional branch in Omsk did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment, and several calls to the office went unanswered.

Local media outlets in the city, however, cited regional investigators as confirming that a probe into Kalugina’s social-media posts is under way.


Black man’s fatal stabbing ignites calls for hate crime investigation after video shows suspect using racist language

PITTSBURGH — Activists have called for prosecutors to investigate the stabbing of a 24-year-old black man outside a Pittsburgh bar as a hate crime after video emerged of the white suspect using a racial epithet.

Joden Rocco has been charged with homicide in the death of Dulane Cameron Jr. Police allege he had just been ejected from Tequila Cowboy around 2 a.m. Sunday when he started a confrontation with Cameron and Cameron’s friend, who also is black, on a sidewalk. The men scuffled and police said Rocco stabbed Cameron in the neck and fled.

According to an affidavit, a shirtless Rocco was arrested shortly after the stabbing after flagging down police hoping for a ride home.

An Instagram video posted by WPXI-TV shows 24-year-old Rocco saying that he’s trying to see how many times he can use a racial epithet before being thrown out of bars. It wasn’t clear when the video was posted to his account. Instagram stories expire 24 hours after they are posted.

A spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala said Thursday the investigation is ongoing.

“We are certainly aware of some of the attitudes, opinions and positions that the defendant has posited, but we have not made a decision as to whether or not additional charges are warranted,” said Mike Manko.

The Allegheny County Public Defender’s office, which is representing Rocco, said Thursday it can’t comment on the case.

Activists with the group Partners in Justice tell the Tribune Review they have unearthed Facebook posts on Rocco’s account espousing racist and white supremacist views.

The group formed in the aftermath of the June police shooting of unarmed black teenager Antwon Rose.

Ashely Palmer said the group started receiving messages about Rocco’s Facebook activity and screenshots of allegedly racist postings shortly after his arrest. Her group is urging the district attorney to investigate the stabbing as a hate crime.

Cameron’s father told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he was made aware of Rocco’s allegedly racist postings but said he harbors no anger.

“He has my forgiveness,” Dulane Cameron Sr. told the newspaper Tuesday. “As Jesus, humble on the cross, said, ‘Father forgive them; they know not what they do.’ And I’m feeling the same way.”

He believes evil forces pushed Rocco to act.

“My heart goes out to that man and it goes out to his family for what he has to face,” he said.