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Conservatives win all-party support of Uighur genocide vote in House of Commons

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OTTAWA — Canada’s House of Commons voted unanimously in favour Monday of a Conservative motion declaring as genocide the atrocities committed against ethnic Muslim Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and all of his Liberal cabinet ministers abstained from the politically charged vote, which took place mainly over video, and against the backdrop of all-but-frozen relations between Beijing and Ottawa.

China has imprisoned two Canadian men, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, on what the government and dozens of its allies say are bogus charges in retaliation for the RCMP’s December 2018 arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition warrant.  

Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau registered a formal abstention on behalf of the government, drawing audible jeers over the video feed.

Dozens of Liberal MPs supported the Conservative motion, which passed by a 266-0 margin, amid the cabinet abstentions in the 338-seat Commons.

The vote is largely symbolic but represents growing political opposition to widespread reports of atrocities against Chinese minorities, accusations the China’s communist leaders vociferously deny.

MPs also voted in favour of an amendment from the Bloc Québécois to call upon the International Olympic Committee to move the 2022 Olympic Games out of China if the genocide continues.

The Liberal support came after the Conservatives called on Liberal MPs to support the party’s motion earlier in the day.

Conservative MPs Michael Chong and Garnett Genuis were joined by Uighur community members at a teleconference Monday in calling for the government’s support, suggesting that unanimity would send a strong signal to China.

“We can no longer ignore this,” said Chong, the party’s foreign affairs critic.

“We must call it for what it is: a genocide.”

The Conservatives tabled the motion in the House of Commons last week for vote to formally declare that crimes against Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province constitute a genocide. 

The move was non-binding but it has angered China and its ambassador to Canada warned Canadian MPs to butt out of his country’s internal affairs days earlier.

Genuis, the critic for international development and human rights, said the Conservatives expected to have the support of opposition parties to pass the motion.

“But we believe the message will be that much stronger and clearer if as many members of the government as possible join with us and show that we are able to stand together on issues of fundamental human rights,” he said earlier Monday.

Trudeau has stopped short of agreeing with American officials, human rights advocates and legal scholars who argue the violations amount to a genocide, saying it is a loaded word that has to be used carefully. But he has said serious human rights abuses are taking place in the western Chinese province.

Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden will be discussing China in their virtual meeting on Tuesday.

Opposition parties indicated before the vote they were prepared to support the Conservative motion.

“New Democrats recognize that China’s measures of mass detention, forced labour, surveillance and population control, such as forced sterilization, against Uighurs and Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang meet the definition of genocide,” said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in a statement.

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said his party would support the motion so long as their amendment on the Olympics was passed.

A Green party spokesman said it would support the Conservative motion, and the Bloc amendment.

Montreal Liberal MP Anthony Housefather said on Twitter before the vote that he would vote in support of the genocide motion. His backbench colleagues fell in line like virtual dominoes once the voting started.

Earlier Monday, Chong dismissed the Chinese government’s claims there is no genocide taking place in Xinjiang.

Ambassador Cong Peiwu recently told The Canadian Press that reports of millions of people in detention camps being subjected to forced labour, sterilization and other abuse is simply unsubstantiated China-bashing.

Chong rejected that denial, saying there are reams of satellite images, smuggled video and documents, accounts from escaped Uighurs and undercover reporting by major American newspapers to document the atrocities.

“The evidence has come in the form of high-definition, high-resolution satellite imagery that has been tracked over time that documents clearly the building of hundreds of detention centers,” said Chong.

The Tories were joined by Kalbinur Tursun, a Uighur who fled China and has spoken publicly against the Communist party’s treatment of her people in Xinjiang.

Speaking through a translator provided by the party, she said the world didn’t believe the horrors of the Holocaust until the concentration camps were exposed for all to see after the Second World War.

“Yesterday’s Jews are today’s Uighurs,” said Tursun.

Two weeks ago, Tursun said Chinese police contacted her with “threatening texts and phone calls reminding me to cease talking.” She said she was speaking publicly in an appeal to save the lives of her relatives back home.

A Canadian parliamentary subcommittee concluded in an October report that China’s treatment of Uighurs is a genocide, a finding China rejected as baseless. The committee heard from Uighur witnesses who gave first-hand accounts of atrocities. 

“What we see before our eyes is not complicated. We see the existence of modern concentration camps,” said Genuis.

“When you think of slaves being forced to pick cotton, you might initially think of images of the Antebellum South. But that description equally describes what is happening in Xinjiang.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 22, 2021.

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

Storytelling is in our DNA. We provide credible, compelling multimedia storytelling and services in English and French to help captivate your digital, broadcast and print audiences. As Canada’s national news agency for 100 years, we give Canadians an unbiased news source, driven by truth, accuracy and timeliness.

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AP FACT CHECK: Trump clings to his core election falsehoods

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WASHINGTON — Donald Trump clung to his core election falsehoods in his first post-presidential speech, wrongly blamed wind power for the catastrophic power failures in Texas and revived a variety of the baseless claims that saturated his time in office, on immigration, the economy and more.

A look at Trump’s remarks Sunday at the Conservative Political Action Conference:

WIND POWER

TRUMP, assailing Democrats on energy policy: “The windmill calamity that we’re witnessing in Texas … it’s so sad when you look at it. That will just be the start.”

TRUMP, on President Joe Biden: “He wants windmills. … The windmills that don’t work when you need them.”

THE FACTS: “Windmill calamity” is a false characterization. The power outages during the severe February storm in Texas were primarily due to failures in natural gas, coal and nuclear energy systems, not wind and solar.

Those traditional sources were responsible for nearly twice as many outages as frozen wind turbines and solar panels, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s power grid.

ERCOT reported that of the 45,000 total megawatts of power that were offline statewide during the winter storm, about 30,000 consisted of thermal sources — gas, coal and nuclear plants — and 16,000 came from renewable sources. Wind only supplies about a quarter of the electricity in Texas.

“It’s not like we were relying on it to ride us through this event,” Joshua Rhodes, a research associate at the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin, said of wind power. “Nor would it have been able to save us even if it were operating at 100% capacity right now. We just don’t have enough of it.”

Wind power comes from turbines, not windmills. Windmills grind grain. Trump always gets that wrong.

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ELECTION

TRUMP: “Had we had a fair election, the results would’ve been much different.”

TRUMP: “You cannot have a situation where ballots are indiscriminately pouring in from all over the country … where illegal aliens and dead people are voting.”

TRUMP: “This election was rigged and the Supreme Court and other courts didn’t want to do anything about it.”

TRUMP on Democrats: “They just lost the White House. … I may even decide to beat them for a third time.”

THE FACTS: All of this is flatly wrong, except it is true that the high court did not intervene, because the justices — Trump nominees among them — saw no reason to.

Biden won the election. It was run and counted fairly. His victory was affirmed in Congress, with Trump’s vice-president presiding over the process in the Senate, in the hours after the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection by a mob stoked by Trump.

Trump’s allegations of massive voting fraud were either refuted or brushed off as groundless by a variety of judges, state election officials, an arm of his own administration’s Homeland Security Department, and his own attorney general. His campaign’s lawsuits across the country were thrown out of court or otherwise came to nothing.

No case established irregularities of a scale that would change the outcome — no flood of dead people voting or ballots “indiscriminately pouring in from all over the country.”

Biden earned 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232, the same margin that Trump had when he beat Hillary Clinton in 2016, which he repeatedly described as a “landslide.” (Trump ended up with 304 electoral votes because two electors defected.)

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IMMIGRATION

TRUMP, on foreign countries that are the source of migrants to the U.S.: “They’re not giving us their best and their finest.”

THE FACTS: This falsehood goes way back in the Trump administration. Foreign countries do not select people to send to the U.S. That is not at all how immigration works.

He is referring to the diversity visa lottery program, although he did not identify it as such in these remarks. As president, Trump routinely assailed the program, mischaracterizing it as one in which other countries pick out undesirable citizens to send to the U.S.

The U.S. government runs the visa program and foreigners who want to come to the U.S. apply for it. The program requires applicants to have completed a high school education or have at least two years of experience in the last five years in a selection of fields identified by the Labor Department.

Out of that pool of people from certain countries who meet those conditions, the State Department randomly selects a much smaller pool of winners. Not all winners will have visas ultimately approved. It’s not a pipeline for countries to send their troublemakers to the U.S.

___

CHINA

TRUMP: “We took in hundreds of billions of dollars from China during my administration. They never gave us 10 cents.”

THE FACTS: False and false, and very familiar.

It’s false to say the U.S. never collected a dime in tariffs on Chinese goods before he took action. They are simply higher in some cases than they were before.

It’s also wrong to say the tariffs are being paid by China. Tariff money coming into the treasury is mainly from U.S. businesses and consumers, not from China. Tariffs are primarily if not entirely a tax paid domestically.

___

ECONOMY

TRUMP: “We built the strongest economy in the history of the world.”

THE FACTS: No, the numbers show it wasn’t the greatest in U.S. history, much less in the history of the world. He was actually the first president since Herbert Hoover in the Depression to leave office with fewer jobs than when he started.

The U.S. did have the most jobs on record before the pandemic, but population growth explains part of that. The 3.5% unemployment rate before the pandemic-induced recession was at a half-century low, but the percentage of people working or searching for jobs was still below a 2000 peak.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Romer looked at Trump’s economic growth record. Growth under Trump averaged 2.48% annually before the pandemic, only slightly better than the 2.41% gains achieved during Barack Obama’s second term. By contrast, the economic expansion that began in 1982 during Ronald Reagan’s presidency averaged 4.2% a year.

___

Yen reported from Austin, Texas. Associated Press writer Josh Boak contributed to this report.

___

EDITOR’S NOTE — A look at the veracity of claims by political figures.

___

Find AP Fact Checks at http://apnews.com/APFactCheck

Follow @APFactCheck on Twitter: https://twitter.com/APFactCheck

Hope Yen And Calvin Woodward, The Associated Press


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At bicoastal Globes on Sunday, ‘Borat’ could triumph

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NEW YORK — When drained of glamour, what’s left of the Golden Globes?

That’s one of the biggest questions heading into the 78th annual awards on Sunday night. The show, postponed two months from its usual early-January perch, will have little of what makes the Globes one of the frothiest and glitziest events of the year. Due to the pandemic, there will be no parade of stars down the red carpet outside the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. Its hosts, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, will be on different sides of the country.

More than any award show, the Globes revel in being an intimate banquet of stars. When the show begins at 8 p.m. EST on NBC, with Poehler in Beverly Hills and Fey in New York’s Rainbow Room, the circumstances will test the Globes telecast like never before.

Presenters will include Awkwafina, Joaquin Phoenix, Kristen Wiig, Tiffany Haddish, Margot Robbie and Angela Bassett. At least some of them will be present at one of the two locations. Pre-show coverage is still going forward on E! beginning at 4 p.m. EST and on NBC beginning at 7 p.m. EST. The telecast will be streamed on NBC’s website with a television-provider log-in, as well as on the Roku Channel, Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, AT&T TV, Sling TV and Fubo TV.

But pandemic improvising is only part of the damage control the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which puts on the Globes, finds itself dealing with this year. A pair of extensive reports by The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times in the week leading up to the awards renewed scrutiny on the press association and its 87 voting members.

While the HFPA has long been known as an organization with members of questionable qualification — the majority of its members don’t write for well-known publications — and are known for being swayed by high-priced junkets, the reports again forced the HFPA to defend itself.

Among the most damning details was the revelation that there are no Black voting members in the group, something that only reinforced criticism that the press association — which host Ricky Gervais last year called “very, very racist” in his opening monologue — is in need of overhauling. This year, none of the most acclaimed Black-led films — “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “One Night in Miami,” “Judas and the Black Messiah,” “Da 5 Bloods” — were nominated for the Globes’ best picture award.

In a statement, the HFPA said it would make “an action plan” to change. “We understand that we need to bring in Black members, as well as members from other underrepresented backgrounds,” the group said.

For some, none of the revelations were surprising. Ava DuVernay tweeted in response to the LA Times article: “Reveals? As in, people are acting like this isn’t already widely known? For YEARS?”

Two-time nominee Sterling K. Brown, who’s presenting Sunday, said in an Instagram post that “having a multitude of Black presenters does not absolve you of your lack of diversity.”

“87 people wield a tremendous amount of power,” said Brown. “For any governing body of a current Hollywood award show to have such a lack of voting representation illustrates a level of irresponsibility that should not be ignored.”

Yet the Globes have persisted because of their popularity (the show ranks as the third most-watched award show, after the Oscars and Grammys), their profitability (NBC paid $60 million for broadcast rights in 2018) and because they serve as important marketing material for contending films and Oscar hopefuls. That may be especially true this year when the pandemic has upset the normal rhythms of buzz in a virtual awards season lacking the usual frenzy.

The Globes are happening on the original date of the Academy Awards, which are instead to be held April 25.

Netflix comes in with a commanding 42 nominations, including a leading six nods for David Fincher’s “Mank” and “The Crown” also topping TV nominees with six nods. Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” also from Netflix, is also a heavyweight with five nominations.

Chloe Zhao, the “Nomadland” filmmaker and Oscar frontrunner, is expected to become the first woman of Asian descent to win best director at the Globes and the first woman since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl” in 1984.

Chadwick Boseman, nominated for best actor for his performance in the August Wilson adaptation “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” could win a posthumous Golden Globe. Boseman is widely expected to be nominated for an Oscar.

And “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” stands a good chance of being crowned best picture, comedy or musical. With many of the leading nominees in the drama category — among them “Mank,” “Nomadland,” “The Father,” “Promising Young Woman” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” — Sacha Baron Cohen’s sequel could emerge a big winner. Cohen, who won a Globe for his performance in the first “Borat” film, is nominated for Borat and for his role in “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”

Jane Fonda, a seven-time Globe winner, will receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. Norman Lear will be honoured for his television career and accept an award named after Carol Burnett.

Jake Coyle, The Associated Press









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