Tag Archives: ‘Thank

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has China to thank for landslide re-election win

Saturday’s election victory for Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen was big, but the defeat for Beijing was bigger, a stark lesson the dictatorship next door — no matter how powerful or prosperous — holds little appeal for the only part of “Greater China” that gets a real vote on its own democratic future.

“When our sovereignty and democracy are threatened, the Taiwanese people will shout our determination even more loudly back,” Tsai said in her acceptance speech.

Beijing’s impulse to intimidate all challengers clearly backfired during the campaign. And yet, it continues. Hours after Tsai’s win, Chinese state news agency Xinhua accused her party, DPP, of using “dirty tactics, such as cheating.” It went on to label her “selfish, greedy and evil.” 

Throughout the campaign, China was accused of its own campaign of misinformation and dirty tricks in support of Tsai’s opponents.

More than eight million voters cast ballots for Tsai — 57 per cent of the vote —  setting a new record with her margin of victory. Tsai’s main challenger, Kuomintang (KMT) Leader Han Kuo-yu, finished more than 2.5 million votes back. His party advocates closer ties with China, primarily for Taiwan’s economic benefit.

For youth in particular, Tsai cemented her image as a progressive defender of freedoms — reinforced by her government’s backing of LGBT rights last year. A careful campaign to cultivate that connection — including images of Tsai as an energetic anime character with her own game — brought out a surge of first-time voters, like Cindy Pai.

“We are not afraid of China,” Pai said at Tsai’s victory rally. “Our president will protect us.”

Still, in many ways, Tsai owes her success to missteps by the Chinese leadership.

Just seven months ago, as Hong Kong was waking up to Beijing’s efforts to exert control and limit democratic rights, it looked as if Tsai was headed for defeat. Polls put her some 15 points behind her rival, Han.

Tsai supporters cheer for her at an election rally in Taipei. (Saša Petricic/CBC)

Then voters started to notice the connection with Hong Kong.

“We saw the aggression of China,” said Gary Yen. “We saw what happened in Hong Kong, and people in Taiwan are concerned if Taiwan is going to be next.” 

Yen is a Canadian, born in Taiwan, who flew in from Toronto because he felt it was important to support democracy here, one of many who said they made the journey back because they felt Taiwan was facing an existential crisis.

Relations with China dominated many discussions during the campaign, even on the streets. 

At a market in the tech hub of Hsinchu, south of Taipei, a woman selling pickled eggs said she worries more about the economy than China’s threat to Taiwan. That immediately set off her neighbour, arguing loudly that he was Taiwanese, not Chinese, and it was important to stand up to “bullying from China.” 

Indeed, pressure from Beijing has only increased since Tsai came to power.

China has long considered Taiwan a wayward province, to be reunited with the mainland eventually. In a tough speech a year ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping said he “will not promise to renounce the use of force” to achieve that.

China has also imposed new economic restrictions, like limiting tourism from the mainland. And it has convinced more countries in the Pacific region, Central America and Africa to switch diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing. Only 15 countries now formally recognize Taiwan.

Another supporter of Tsai poses next to a cartoon character of her, in a social media photo booth at her campaign headquarters. (Saša Petricic/CBC)

Under “one-country, two-systems” principle, Xi has offered Taiwan a similar status as Hong Kong in China: limited autonomy that would — in theory — allow the island to keep some of its democratic rights. 

Tsai has rejected that, as well as any other move that would give Beijing direct power over Taiwan. But she’s also been careful not to antagonize Beijing by declaring formal independence.

With her current victory — and with so many who now see her as protector of the island — political observers say that may change in a second term.

Outgoing KMT legislator Jason Hsu said he expects Tsai to be under pressure “in pushing the envelope and demanding more Taiwan identity, or even pursuing a Taiwan independence agenda.” 

That would almost certainly trigger a confrontation with Beijing, potentially drawing in the United States. Washington is Taiwan’s strongest military backer and supplier of equipment.

Still, J. Michael Cole argues Taiwan has no choice but to stand up to China, and that’s important to the whole world. Cole is a Canadian, a senior fellow with Ottawa’s Macdonald-Laurier Institute who has studied Taiwan and has lived in Taipei for the past 14 years.

“I think if China got what it wants over Taiwan,” he said, “it would certainly embolden the Chinese Communist Party. It’s not going to stop at Taiwan.”

Cole said Western democracies also need to stop China from intimidation beyond its borders, to show “that we are willing to do what is necessary to defend ourselves.”

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CBC | World News

Jamaica has China to thank for much-needed infrastructure — but some locals say it has come at a price

This story is part of a CBC News series exploring China’s expanding influence around the world and how Canada and other countries are contending with China’s power.

In Mount Carey, a rural district in Jamaica, just south of Montego Bay, two men flag down passing cars while a third shovels concrete into potholes that are overtaking the road.

Joseph, who lives in the community, says the road has become dangerous, so they’re collecting donations to pay for concrete to fix it themselves.

“It’s important, so we do it,” he said. “We’re saving lives.”

Meanwhile, just 100 kilometres east, a gleaming new highway connecting Jamaica’s major cities in the north and the south sits relatively empty.

Construction of the North South Highway started in earnest in 2013, the same year Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the launch of his Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It’s a plan to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure projects to increase the flow of goods, money and people across much of the world, including the Caribbean.

The North South Highway, completed in 2016, was one of the first major infrastructure projects in Jamaica financed and built by a Chinese state-owned company.

Xi calls projects like this a “win-win” that deepen co-operation between the two countries while providing opportunity for development.

An overhead view of Jamaica’s new, and rather empty, North South Highway. (David Common/CBC)

But the highway has left Jamaica with a $ 730-million debt to China. And the $ 32 toll for a 66-kilometre, one-way trip —collected by the Chinese developer — means driving the highway isn’t affordable for most Jamaicans.

“Some locals say the Jamaicans have been left paying for a highway that does not benefit them,” said Jevon Minto, a local scholar who has researched the impact of Chinese development investments on Jamaica for the Inter-American Dialogue, a think-tank based in Washington, D.C.

“The locals don’t drive it and yet they are the ones paying for it.”

That’s why, for some, the highway is emblematic of a larger question surrounding China’s growing interest and investment in the Caribbean:

Who really wins and who loses?

Experts say there are several key reasons why China is investing in the region: to extract mineral resources, to develop strategic ports and shipping lanes, and to provide opportunities for Chinese labour.

To better understand how these interests are playing out in the region, CBC News travelled to Jamaica, the 10th and most recent Caribbean nation to formally sign on to BRI.

Outlet for Chinese labour

Last month, the Jamaican government announced the groundbreaking for a children’s hospital in Montego Bay, the first hospital to be built in the country in decades.

Tian Qi, China’s ambassador to Jamaica, described the project as a testament to his country’s relationship with Jamaica.

“For the past 47 years, we have been working together as true friends and real partners.”

The hospital is a gift from China — one of the perks that comes with doing business with the economic powerhouse.

At first glance, the site is unremarkable. But a closer look reveals workers wearing safety vests emblazoned with Chinese characters, and badges that read, “China Aid.”

A new children’s hospital is being constructed in Montego Bay. The facility is a gift from China, which is employing many of its own workers on the project. (David Common/CBC)

The contractor is imported from China, as are many of the workers. This is most often the case when projects are funded by grants, loans and private investments from China.

Such concessions have prompted criticism from members of the local construction industry, some of whom accuse the Jamaican government of selling out their industry to the Chinese.

“The Chinese do not engage Jamaican engineers and Jamaican management on the construction job, they only engage labour,” said Carvel Stewart, a civil engineer and former president of the Incorporated Masterbuilders Association of Jamaica.

“I think it’s shortsightedness. I think it’s a lack of development of the Jamaican construction workforce.”

Carvel Stewart, a civil engineer and former president of the Incorporated Masterbuilders Association of Jamaica, says his government should negotiate better terms with China to ensure more opportunities for Jamaican professionals. (Jared Thomas/CBC)

He says the Jamaican government should have negotiated terms that require Chinese firms to hire locals at all job levels, not just as labourers.

“It is our government’s policy that I’m critical of, not the Chinese. If we could get that break in China, wouldn’t we?”

CBC News reached out to the Association of Chinese Enterprises in Jamaica Limited, whose members include construction companies operating in Jamaica, but didn’t receive a response prior to publication.

Richard Bernal, Jamaica’s former ambassador to the U.S. and pro-vice chancellor for global affairs at the University of the West Indies, says the number of Chinese workers in Jamaica is relatively small compared to other developing countries that have accepted loans from China, and the total has been shrinking over time.

He offers three reasons why Chinese loans are good for Jamaica.

“One, the terms are quite generous — long repayment periods, low interest. Secondly, the Chinese are very competitive in carrying out these construction projects, which they do all over the world. And thirdly, what you find is that it comes with less conditionality than Western aid.”

Bernal said traditional sources of aid, such as funding from the U.S., aren’t as available these days, which helps explain why Jamaica is more receptive to investment from China.

Natural resources

China’s interest in the Caribbean extends beyond loans and labour. Seeking out natural resources is also a key aspect of BRI.

Bauxite, a rock formed from the reddish clay of tropical regions, is the world’s primary source of aluminum. Bauxite mining is also the second largest industry in Jamaica.

The Alpart mine and refinery, one of Jamaica’s largest, is located in the southwestern town of Nain. In 2009, Alpart closed in the wake of the global financial crisis and a downturn in the aluminum industry. It sat dormant until it was purchased in 2016 by Chinese state-owned mining giant Jiuquan Iron and Steel Company (JISCO).

The Alpart mine and refinery was a provider of jobs, as well as a producer of pollution. (David Common/CBC)

The reopening brought jobs back to the community, but not without some concerns.

Earlier this year, Jamaica’s environmental regulator issued 16 enforcement orders against JISCO for causing “serious environmental and human health issues.”

The source of the problem, the regulator said, was a 350-hectare residue disposal area that was poorly managed and in breach of environmental permits.

Residue from bauxite can contain concentrations of harmful metals and low levels of radioactive elements.

Some Nain residents who spoke with CBC News said they were grateful for the work but also worried about the potential impact on their health.

Of primary concern is bauxite dust, which can contaminate drinking water and cause damage to the lungs, nose and throat, as well as exposed skin.

A look at a tailings pond at the Alpart mine and refinery. (CBC)

One resident said she was concerned about the dust that would cover the fruit trees outside her home. Another resident said her skin breaks out in rashes when it’s windy outside. 

Some said they have been in talks with JISCO about possible compensation and help relocating but are still waiting to hear back from the company.

Bernal cautions against assigning all the blame to China.

“Guess what? The residue from bauxite plants have been here since they were established 50 years ago by Canadians and American firms,” he said.

“I’m not exonerating the Chinese. I’m just saying it’s not something unique to the Chinese.”

Last month, JISCO decided to shut the mine for two years. Jamaica’s Ministry of Transport and Mining said the closure will allow time to make upgrades and for the price of aluminum to recover. 

WATCH | Highways, mines and hospitals — CBC visits some of Jamaica’s infrastructure projects bankrolled by China:

This year Jamaica became the 10th Caribbean country to formally sign on to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. China’s investments have brought much-needed infrastructure to the region, but with that has also come some friction. CBC News took a road trip through Jamaica and asked who wins and who loses when it comes to China’s Belt and Road. 7:40

Strategic location

Another reason for China’s interest in the Caribbean is its proximity to the Panama Canal, a strategic shipping route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

“The Panama Canal is critical for trade in the Americas,” said Scott MacDonald, an analyst of China-Caribbean relations for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a D.C.-based think-tank. “It’s also critical for the movement of trade and products out of Asia to the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.”

He suspects that’s one reason China showed interest in building a port at Goat Island, located off the south coast of Jamaica and directly north of Panama. It’s part of Jamaica’s Portland Bight, an environmentally sensitive and protected area.

Five years ago, the Jamaican government announced that the state-owned China Harbour Engineering Company would lead the project.

There were plans to build a China-financed port at Goat Island, an environmentally sensitive and protected area. (David Common/CBC)

When Ingrid Parchment heard that Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller announced the plan during a trip to China, she was shocked.

“I thought, ‘Why are we giving away one of our major resources to somebody? Because they have an idea?'”

Parchment is executive director of the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation, which is responsible for preserving the area.

“They were going to be levelling the island, removing all of the trees, which is habitat for birds, and also the mangroves, in particular, which are where the baby fish and crabs grow.”

Construction of the port would have also required dredging around the island, which would leave the local community more vulnerable to damage from hurricanes.

Ingrid Parchment, executive director of the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation, helped lead the opposition to a Goat Island port. (David Common/CBC)

In an effort to dissuade the government from going ahead with the port, Ingrid’s group commissioned a study from the Conservation Strategy Fund, a California-based environmental consultancy, that looked at the environmental and economic impacts of the project.

“It determined that the cost of the port at Goat Island, both the development and operation, would be far greater than at least two or three other sites in Jamaica,” Parchment said.

She shared the findings with members of the Jamaican Parliament, and then-newly elected Prime Minister Andrew Holness. She also took him on a tour of the island.

Soon after, Holness announced the port project was cancelled.

China has since financed new ports in Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and the Bahamas.

“This allows China to make a poke at the United States in its soft underbelly, because this is right in their backyard,” said MacDonald, who is writing a book on the topic, with the working title: The New Cold War in the Caribbean.

“The U.S. and China definitely have marked out a new competitiveness — a rivalry, if you want — that does look like a Cold War in some aspects,” he said. “And I think you’re going to see sharper elbows over the issue of who has influence in different regions on the planet and who doesn’t.

“And that includes this region.”

MacDonald is far from alone in seeing this dynamic.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has been critical of China’s investments and influence in the Caribbean. (Erin Scott/Reuters)

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has been ringing the alarm bells over China’s growing influence in the region, which is particularly concerning, he says, given its proximity to the U.S.

“China reaches out to interested nations with promises of hefty investment. After reaching an agreement, Beijing hijacks the country’s resources and infrastructure, often dramatically ramping up the lending terms after initial negotiation,” he wrote in an op-ed for the Miami Herald back in September.

Scott MacDonald, an analyst of China-Caribbean relations for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, is writing a book about the power dynamic between China and the U.S. in the Caribbean. The working title is The New Cold War in the Caribbean. (Jared Thomas/CBC)

MacDonald says the U.S. has a point about China’s potential leverage over some BRI countries.

“If you’re one of the biggest holders of that country’s debt, you may have a little more say in the processes and policies that get enacted.”

Bernal, Jamaica’s former ambassador to the U.S., remains cautiously optimistic about Jamaica’s involvement in Belt and Road.

“Four per cent of Jamaica’s debt is owed to China — not a huge amount,” he said.

Even so, Bernal said he has told officials in the U.S. that if they want to maintain their country’s influence in the region, the U.S. needs to step up.

Richard Bernal, Jamaica’s former ambassador to the U.S., says he’s cautiously optimistic about his country’s involvement in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. (Jared Thomas/CBC)

He said the U.S. approach has been to tell countries not to engage with China, but that’s a tough sell.

“It’s very difficult to tell a poor country that’s looking for investment and trade, not to engage with the second largest economy in the world.”

So, Jamaica is left to strike a balance.

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness reviews the honour guard during a welcome ceremony with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing earlier this month. (Florence Lo/Reuters)

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Holness spent eight days visiting China. When he returned home, he announced that Jamaica would not be negotiating any new loans with China and would instead focus on private-sector partnerships and reducing Jamaica’s debt.

CBC News requested an interview with Holness but was told he wasn’t available.

History repeating itself?

Looking out at the shores of Goat Island, Ingrid Parchment wonders if this is all just history repeating itself.

“You know, there have been lots of different discussions … that the Chinese are trying to take over the world,” she said. “But I don’t know if I really think it is any different from when the British came out, or the French came, or the Spanish came.

“It is just a different era.”

Read the stories in this series:

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CBC | World News

Kaillie Humphries writes to Canada: ‘Thank you’

Kaillie Humphries and Canada’s governing body of bobsled didn’t quite call a truce, but they severed a relationship that was unsalvageable.

Humphries expressed mixed emotions in a statement Sunday after Bobsleigh Canada Skeleton’s announcement the previous evening she would be granted her request for a release. 

The clock was ticking on Humphries, as the two-time Olympic champion required that release by Monday in order to compete for the United States this season.

“Today I don’t know how to feel,” Humphries wrote. “While I am very happy this purgatory has ended after over a year of trying to get my concerns and the concerns of other athletes taken seriously, I am also very sad to not compete under my flag any longer.”

So the 34-year-old Calgarian, who has dominated international women’s bobsled for much of her 15 years on the national team, got her wish — except she didn’t.

BCS was also in a no-win situation. 

The organization faced criticism whether it left Humphries in limbo or released an athlete it has invested time and money in to compete for a rival powerhouse team.

“This was not an easy decision, nor was it one we took lightly,” BCS said in a statement Saturday. “Alongside our stakeholders, we carefully weighed all the relevant factors in this important and complex decision of releasing a medal-potential athlete to one of our top competitors.

“Ultimately, we firmly believe that supporting our current athletes and the positive culture they have developed as a team will foster the environment we need to successfully grow our sport and slide onto the international podium both now, and in the future.

“These athletes and coaches deserve the opportunity to focus on their pursuit of excellence.”

Humphries is free to join USA Bobsled, which was ready to welcome her when she obtained her release.

She lives in California and married former U.S. bobsledder Travis Armbruster earlier this month.

Humphries competed at national push trials in Lake Placid, N.Y., as a guest earlier this month. The World Cup season opens Nov. 29 in Park City, Utah.

Humphries could be wearing the stars and stripes at Canada’s World Cup stop Dec. 13-14 in Whistler, B.C.

“It has been my pleasure and the greatest honour of my life to represent you on the world’s stage wearing the Maple Leaf,” Humphries said in her statement.

“No words can adequately describe what is going through my head and my heart.”

The pilot and brakewoman Heather Moyse won back-to-back gold in 2010 and 2014 making them the first women to repeat as Olympic champions.

The duo carried Canada’s flag at the 2014 closing ceremonies.

Strained relationship

How did it get to the point where one of Canada’s most decorated Olympians wanted out and was willing to go to court to leave?

Mere months after winning an Olympic bronze medal with Phylicia George at the 2018 Winter Games, Humphries filed a harassment complaint Aug. 22 alleging the head coach verbally and mentally abused her and accusing BCS management of mishandling her concerns in violation of the organization’s own policies.

BCS handed the complaint to a third-party company that specializes in investigating such matters.

Hill Advisory Services concluded in its report made public earlier this month that “in the investigator’s opinion there has been no breach to relevant policy.”

Humphries did not compete for Canada in 2018-19. She submitted a list of conditions in May under which she would return to the national team.

The list included a new coach and her own high-performance director, coverage of a suite of travel, training and competition costs, no direct contact with BCS management and backpay of Sport Canada Athletes Assistance money for the 2018-19 season, which amounted to $ 21,180.

BCS countered its policy is not to negotiate with individual athletes on conditions for them to compete for Canada.

Humphries asked for her release Aug. 3.

BCS said it would defer a decision until after the independent review of her harassment complaint was complete.

With a deadline looming, Humphries took BCS to court to force the issue with a multi-million-dollar lawsuit — which she said Sunday she will drop — and a request for an injunction forcing her release.

A Calgary judge turned down Humphries’ request for an injunction Sept. 17, stating there were sports tribunals better equipped to handle the dispute.

BCS high-performance director Chris Le Bihan stated at the courthouse the organization still wanted Humphries on the national team, but it seemed the relationship had devolved past the point of no return.

Humphries took her case to the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada (SDRCC) that offers mediation and arbitration services for sport organizations that receive federal funding.

But before an arbitrator made a ruling, BCS decided to cut ties with Humphries.

As to whether the culture around the national team was “unsafe” as Humphries said, or this was a case of a personality clash, people with knowledge of the situation were reluctant to comment publicly because their livelihoods are still tied to the sport and its athletes.

The Canadian Press heard divergent opinions from people who gave them on the condition they not be identified. Humphries’ claims were both confirmed and refuted.

Canadians athletes have competed for other countries before, but the emotional breach between Humphries and the organization that has overseen her career for a decade and a half is confounding.

“To all of those that are upset with me, I’m asking only that you try to understand how difficult this has been and I would have loved to continue to compete for Canada,” Humphries said.

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CBC | Sports News

Amid impeachment calls and a disputed report, Trump sends a rare message to Mueller: Thank you

Go ahead, take Robert Mueller's word for it.

So implied U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday when he took the unusual step of thanking Mueller's office, which is investigating Russian collusion in the 2016 election. The expression of gratitude came after Mueller's office issued a rare statement of its own, disputing aspects of a report alleging Trump directed his former fixer to lie to Congress about a Moscow real-estate deal.

At the White House on Saturday, Trump was gracious.

"I appreciate the special counsel coming out with a statement last night," he said. "I think it was very appropriate that they did so. I very much appreciate that."

One of the more interesting developments overnight is the newfound confidence Team Trump has expressed about Mueller's integrity– Josh Campbell, former FBI agent

Mueller's office on Friday described aspects of a BuzzFeed News report as "not accurate," after the news outlet reported that Trump instructed his longtime personal lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a deal to build a Trump Tower Moscow.

The statement reads, in full: "BuzzFeed's description of specific statements to the Special Counsel's Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen's Congressional testimony are not accurate."

The special counsel's office has not elaborated on specifics about what it is disputing. BuzzFeed is standing by its story.

But Trump's message of appreciation was an unusual sentiment from a president who has persistently decried Mueller's work as a "witch hunt."  To some observers it comes off as validation of the lead investigator's trustworthiness. That irony was not lost on the president's critics.

"For those of us who've been defending Mueller's team and DOJ against utterly unfounded attacks from Trump and his supporters, it's great to see Team Trump now citing Mueller's office as, not only a credible, but even an authoritative truth-teller," conservative commentator Bill Kristol tweeted.

Former FBI special agent Josh Campbell noted wryly that he also didn't see Trump's change of heart coming.

"One of the more interesting developments overnight is the newfound confidence Team Trump has expressed about Mueller's integrity. After endless attacks, they suddenly embrace his honesty."

Whether the White House embraces Mueller's final report "with the same reverence" is another question, Campbell said.

It was only two months ago that Trump erupted over Twitter, calling Mueller's work a "total mess."

BuzzFeed allegations a bombshell, if true

For the president, publicly praising Mueller now risks instilling public faith in his Trump-Russia investigation — a risk that might be worth it if it can tamp down growing impeachment calls that surfaced after BuzzFeed posted its story late Thursday. If true, the report by two seasoned investigative journalists would be a bombshell, directly implicating Trump in a crime, and amounting to the kind of black-and-white revelation of obstruction of justice that would be impossible to dismiss.

Two Democratic chairs of House committees vowed to investigate the report. Depending on its accuracy, the report was seen as a potential precursor to a vote to impeach, according to some senior lawmakers, including Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Texas Democrat Rep. Joaquin Castro.

There's no debate that the allegations described in the report would constitute a crime. Not even William Barr, Trump's nominee to be attorney general, would dispute that, noted Jonathan Turley, a leading constitutional scholar who testified this week during Barr's Senate confirmation hearings.

"One of the things I discussed, and one of the things [Barr] discussed in the Senate is how suborning perjury would be a clear federal crime of a president, but also a possible basis for obstruction of justice,"

Turley said in an interview. "William Barr specifically already addressed that issue."

An exchange between Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Barr this week crystallized Barr's views.

American University professor Allan Lichtman, author of The Case for Impeachment, says if the BuzzFeed reporting bears out, then an impeachment inquiry is bound to happen. (Paul J. Richards, AFP/Getty)

"You also said that a president or any person convincing a witness to change testimony would be obstruction, is that right?" Klobuchar asked.

"Yes," Barr testified.

Questions about the BuzzFeed report

It isn't known how "bulletproof" the BuzzFeed report is, noted Dave Levinthal, who leads the federal politics reporting team at the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, D.C.

"It's entirely possible that there are elements of the story that could be wrong, and others fundamentally true. And that's an open question right now," he told CBC News Network on Saturday.

On the other hand, if the reporting bears out, then an impeachment inquiry is bound to happen, said Allan Lichtman, a political forecaster with American University and the author of The Case for Impeachment.

"We can certainly start an impeachment inquiry in the House Judiciary Committee because it's their duty to investigate."

The reported allegations could be the "smoking gun," Lichtman said, as directing Cohen to lie under oath to Congress would be suborning perjury and possibly witness tampering. It would also make for a "plain, slam-dunk" case for those crimes as well as for conspiracy and likely aiding and abetting perjury, tweeted Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

There have been two cases of modern-era impeachment proceedings — for Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. The article of impeachment that drove the process for Nixon by the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 concerned his attempt to suborn perjury from those involved in the Watergate break-in.

Clinton was impeached for committing perjury over an extramarital affair, with Republicans arguing that perjury is perjury, no matter the underlying substance.

Trump facing other allegations

"But in the Clinton case, we were talking about covering up a private sexual affair, not covering up the subversion of our democracy with Russia," Lichtman said. "This seems a thousand times more serious."

In light of the special counsel's statement, open talk of impeachment could begin to calm.

But outside of the BuzzFeed report, there are already strong allegations that the president violated campaign finance laws, with respect to the payment of hush money to pornographic actress Stormy Daniels. Stories that Trump committed crimes could begin to make people "feel antsy" about holding off on impeachment procedures, said William Yeomans, who served 26 years in the U.S. Department of Justice.

Michael Cohen gets into an elevator at Trump Tower on Dec. 12, 2016 in New York City. He already has little credibility as a witness. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

As the legislative check on the presidency, he said, congressional Democrats will be compelled to exercise their constitutional obligation to launch an inquiry — at least to determine whether impeachment is appropriate.

If the report is corroborated in a credible way, he said, "I think the pressure is going to mount to start an impeachment inquiry. I think it has to."

Senior Democrats have been loath to discuss impeachment so openly because of the political problems it could present.

Caution around impeachment

Impeachment is a political process that must be approached with caution, and shouldn't be used merely as a mechanism to brand someone with a "scarlet letter," but to oust that person from office, said Susan Low Bloch, a professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University who testified during the Clinton impeachment proceedings.

"The House shouldn't start unless it's pretty clear there's enough evidence to not just impeach him, but to convict, and remove him," she said. "Otherwise, you have this sort of wounded warrior running around, and it's not healthy for the country."

Removal from office still requires a two-thirds vote to convict the president in the Senate, which is under Republican control and thus unlikely to support such a move.

Legislators considering the disputed report will be looking for corroboration that can goes beyond just Cohen's word, given how tainted his reputation has become. Cohen has already pleaded guilty to lying to Congress. He is now co-operating with Mueller's investigation into Trump's alleged campaign collusion with the Russians.

Turley noted that Cohen, "a serial liar and a felon," represents a major liability for the report's credibility. All of which makes Cohen's scheduled appointment to testify before Congress on Feb. 7 more interesting.

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CBC | World News

Doctor who survived Ebola visits Winnipeg to thank ZMapp scientists

A doctor who went to West Africa to fight the Ebola outbreak ended up being the successful guinea pig for an experimental treatment to fight the virus. 

On Friday, he visited Winnipeg’s National Microbiology Lab to thank the scientists who saved him, in person. 

Dr. Kent Brantly, a family physician from Fort Worth, Texas, was part of the medical response to the Ebola outbreak in Liberia in 2014. But while there, he contracted the deadly virus himself. 

“I’m really glad to be able to meet you in person and tell you thank you,” Brantly said to Dr. Gary Kobinger, a professor at the universities of Laval and Manitoba, who was involved in developing the treatment. 

Brantly’s recovery from what his doctors believed was death’s doorstep was widely credited to the drug ZMapp, an antibody cocktail designed at Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory.

Ebola victim Dr. Kent Brantly exits an ambulance at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta after being flown from Africa.(WSB-TV Atlanta/Associated Press)He reported feeling his fever break just 15 minutes after receiving the treatment. 

“It’s really a tremendous honour and privilege to meet him. I’ve seen your picture, I’ve watched interviews with you, but it is a great privilege to say thank you to someone who saved my life,” Brantly said to Kobinger.

The treatment had never been used on a human being before, so when Brantly got sick, he was the first test subject. 

“My story is just one of thousands,” he said. But “through the attention that was given to my story, we saw a tremendous boost in support of the work that’s required years and years in advance to have options available when an outbreak occurs.” 

Dr. Kent Brantly and Dr. Linda Mobula, assistant professor at John Hopkins School of Medicine and the physician who administered ZMapp to Dr. Brantly in Liberia. National Microbiology Lab scientists who created the Ebola treatment are also featured: Dr. Gary Kobinger, former chief of special pathogens, and Dr. Xiangguo Qiu, research scientist. (Submitted/Health Canada)

Kobinger, in return, thanked Brantly for his visit. He noted there was a huge team involved in both the treatment and in getting Brantly evacuated to a hospital in Atlanta, where he and another worker who had been exposed were treated.

“I would say that it’s very humbling and very touching that he took the time to come and say thank you,” Kobinger said. 

Treating Brantly all happened so fast, he added.

“Despite the complexity of the environment, very important decisions can be made when people work together,” he said. “Extraordinary achievements can be can be made also when we work together to resolve and solve problems and find solutions.” 

Before going to speak to a group at the University of Manitoba Friday, Brantly said he hopes what they take away from his visit is the importance of choosing compassion over fear. 

“Choosing to do the right thing for your fellow human being rather than reacting out of fear and self preservation. That is not only true in my particular clinical story, but that’s true of the work that happens in the lab every day — is setting aside the fear of working with deadly diseases to do good for others.”

Brantly, who was the face of the Ebola fight on Time‘s 2014 Person of the Year cover, is speaking a brunch Saturday morning at McDermot Avenue Baptist Church.

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Kate Winslet Says She Purposely Didn't Thank Harvey Weinstein in Oscars Acceptance Speech

While Winslet said that she “thankfully” was never the target of sexual harassment by Weinstein — adding, “I somehow dodged that bullet” — Winslet claims his bullying behavior as a producer was intolerable.

“For my whole career, Harvey Weinstein, whenever I’ve bumped into him, he’d grab my arm and say, ‘Don’t forget who gave you your first movie.’ Like I owe him everything,” Winslet said, referring to her debut film role in Peter Jackson’s 1994 crime drama Heavenly Creatures, which Weinstein’s former company, Miramax, produced.

“But that’s how he operated,” Winslet stated. “He was bullying and nasty. Going on a business level, he was always very, very hard to deal with — he was rude. He used to call my female agent a [vulgar name for a woman] every time he spoke to her on the telephone.”

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Miley Cyrus Cries Thanking Hillary Clinton as Female ‘Tonight Show’ Writers Share Their ‘Thank You’ Notes

Another writer on the show noted, “You show girls everywhere that politics isn’t a popularity contest, because if it were, you would have won by about three million votes.”

One took advantage of Hillary’s signature campaign slogan, saying, “Thank you, Hillary Clinton. I was with her, I’m still with her, and right now, I literally am with her!”

But when singer Miley Cyrus came out, she was visibly emotional, breaking down in tears from the first word.

“Thank you, Hillary for being a constant beacon of strength, hope, and determination for me and millions of other young women,” Miley said. “You’ve been a role model and an inspiration and a voice of reason in uncertain times. I could go on and on, but I’d like to get right to the point. Can I give you a hug?”

Naturally, Hillary agreed and let the “Malibu” singer give her a hug on the stage.

Hillary then decided to write a thank you note of her own. 

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