HELEN MANN: Hello, I'm Helen man sitting in for Carol off.
JEFF DOUGLAS: Good evening, I'm Jeff Douglas. This is As It Happens.
HM: Turnabout is unfair play. For years Bill Browder has been lobbying governments to place sanctions on Russia for the death of Sergei Magnitsky, and now Russia is out to make problems for Mr. Browder.
JD: Justice is blind folded. A Saskatchewan lawyer raised concerns with the provincial law society about the way some members are treating residential school survivors. He says he is still awaiting a response.
HM: News she couldn't use. As a reporter Robyn Harvey helped consumers understand the issues, but when her own data was compromised in the Equifax hack she found herself at a loss.
JD: The last poet’s mortem. In examining the remains of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, researchers find no evidence of the official cause of death — that being prostate cancer, and now they are turning their focus to what did kill him.
HM: Blood sweat and tears. When an unnamed Italian woman is perspiring, it looks like she's expiring. And tonight we'll hear the gory details of her frustratingly rare condition — her hands and face sweat blood.
JD: And…The underground phenomenon. A New York man's frontyard Halloween display is a graveyard for the latest things that became just the late things. It is a cemetery for the trends that went from cool, to hot, to cold. As It Happens the Monday edition. A radio that knows every trend looks like it has a bright future and then it's fad to black.
[Music: Theme]Back To Top »
Part 1: Bill Browder, Equifax Canadian, dead trends cemetery
Guest: Bill Browder
JD: Bill Browder has long accused Vladimir Putin of running Russia like a criminal enterprise. Now it is Mr. Browder who is on Interpol's wanted list. The financier has campaigned around the world for the imposition of what is called the Magnitsky Act, a sanctions regime aimed at freezing the assets of human rights abusers. The Canadian version became law just last week. We reached Bill Browder in London.
HM: Mr. Browder, How did you find out that you'd been placed on this Interpol wanted list?
BILL BROWDER: It came through a sort of strange collection of accidents. I got an e-mail from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security saying that there has been a change to my Global Entry status. Global Entry is a special fast track program for frequent travelers. So I went onto their website and it said my Global Entry status has been revoked. I thought that was pretty odd, kind of worrying. And so we then checked in for a flight to America to see if my visa had been revoked. And sure enough they refused to board us on the flight, which said that that there was a problem with my visa. I then contacted some members of law enforcement who I know, who had been involved in helping us in the Magnitsky case. And they checked the Interpol database and sure enough they got a hit. The Russians had on the 17th of October, just last week, issued something called an Interpol diffusion notice for me. So that I'm arrested at any border crossing that I cross. And so it was almost by accident that I discovered it, and very fortunate that I discovered it before finding myself arrested at some border crossing.
HM: And you can directly tie the fact that your visa has been revoked to this Interpol list?
BB: Well, I can't prove it, all I can do is surmise it. I've been told in the past that that's what happens with US visas, it’s almost an automatic process that if you're on Interpol they don't want to let you into the country. So effectively Vladimir Putin who is really angry with me has strangely had the effect of blocking my entry into the United States.
HM: What else does this mean for you? Does that mean you can't go anywhere right now?
BB: It means I can't go anywhere. It’s my intention to come to Canada. Canada has just recently passed the Magnitsky Act for Canada, which imposes sanctions on Russian human rights violators and those who killed my lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. And so my intention, and it continues to be my intention, is to come to Canada next week with the Magnitsky family to meet with members of the House of Commons and the Senate to have a celebration and an acknowledgement of their huge contribution to this historic piece of legislation. That may not be possible if there's a risk of me being arrested when I come into Canada.
HM: Right, now what are the specific allegations attached to this Interpol notice? Do you know?
BB: Well, the Russians have made, this will be the fifth Interpol request they've put out, the other four were rejected by Interpol. They tend to go after me for trumped up charges of tax evasion. This is the sort of standard trope that Russia throws out there any time they don't like you they just accuse you of tax evasion, so I'm sure more of the same.
HM: Are you not also being accused by a couple of Russian prosecutors of actually murdering Mr. Magnitsky yourself?
BB: Yes, yes. They're cooking that one up as well. I don't think that's gotten to the point of Interpol yet, but it probably will because these guys sort of work themselves up into sort of a crazy paranoid frenzy. So yes, they are cooking that up. They somehow think that even though I was sitting in London that I murdered Sergei Magnitsky and then went around the world for eight years fighting for justice for Sergei Magnitsky. And I did so with some unnamed MI6 agent, according to their version of events.
HM: You know, you mentioned that the four previous notices had been rejected by Interpol. Do you think that this one ultimately will be as well?
BB: It would seem odd that Interpol would reject four requests from Russia as being illegitimate and politically motivated and not reject the fifth. So as a betting man I'm thinking that they will reject this one but it hasn't happened yet. So we'll see.
HM: Now you mentioned of course, Canada's decision to pass the Magnitsky Act here. Do you believe that these two things are linked?
BB: I think they're absolutely linked. The Magnitsky act and passed last week. Vladimir Putin gave a speech in which he was very angry about the Magnitsky Act, very angry about me personally. And then on the same day effectively they went to Interpol. And so I think it's a the request of Interpol is a direct result of the Magnitsky Act being passed in Canada.
HM: Have you raised your concerns directly with Interpol?
BB: I have, yes.
HM: What have you had in the way of a response?
BB: None so far. We only raised the concerns on Friday of last week, so they deserve a little bit of time to digest it, but generally they turn these things around pretty quick. They have in the past with us, so hopefully this will be dealt with very expeditiously.
HM: Are you also dealing with homeland security in the U.S.?
BB: Well, that's another story. So I tried to call the number on the website after we got these strange messages, and after waiting for about an hour and a half on hold, I finally got through to somebody who would speak to me. When I asked them why all this had happened they said “We're not at liberty tell. We can't share that information with you” and I said “Well how can I fix this situation when I don't even know what the situation is?” They said “Well why don't you file a Freedom of Information Act request?” Which I guess would take somewhere between six months and a year to resolve itself. So that's kind of a dead end. So what I am doing is working with members of Congress who passed the Magnitsky Act before, who have made now very strong public statements asking the head of Department of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State to fix this problem, Senator John McCain, Senator Benjamin Cardin, Representative Eliot Engel have all made very strong statements.
HM: But have you heard anything from the State Department, Donald Trump’s State Department, Rex Tillerson’s office?
BB: Not yet, not yet.
HM: Do you expect that they may finally get in contact with you?
BB: Well, they don't really have to get in contact with me, all they have to do is just fix my visa, you know. It takes 30 seconds.
HM: And you're sure that there's no other reason that you're having this visa problem other than the Interpol notice?
BB: I'm not sure of anything and I'm just speculating. I'm just speculating it is an automatic thing. Time will determine, if this thing stays out there and unfixed then we have to come to a different conclusion. I'm sort of giving them the benefit of the doubt and saying that this is a bureaucratic snafu at the moment
HM: Mr. Browder I appreciate you talking with us. Thank you very much.
BB: Thank you. Have a great day.
HM: You too.
JM: Bill Browder is the financier behind the campaign to pass Magnitsky sanctions acts in countries around the world. We reached him in London, England and we did ask the U.S. Border Patrol about Mr. Browder's status. They wrote to say that quote “William Browder's ESTA” — that is a reference to an electronic system that allows travelers to bypass visa requirements. “William Browder's ESTA remains valid for travel to the United States. His ESTA was manually approved by CBP on October 18th, clearing him for travel to the United States.” There is more on the story on our website: www.cbc.ca/aih
[Music: Guitar Strums]
Guest: Robin Harvey
JD: Robin Harvey knows from her experience as a consumer reporter that is important to monitor your credit files. That is why in 2013 she signed herself and her son up with Equifax Canada. Fast forward four years and Ms. harvey and her son find themselves in the middle of the Equifax hack nightmare, which compromised the data of 8,000 Canadians and 145.5 million people in the U.S. All of whom are angry and baffled about how a company tasked with protecting consumers could let such a thing happen. Ms. Harvey is the first Canadian to speak publicly about the breach. We reached her in Toronto.
HM: Ms. Harvey what did you think when you first heard about this Equifax hack?
ROBIN HARVEY: Initially it was a bad thing that had happened in the United States, and considering that a lot of bad things have happened out there lately, I felt really sorry for the country. Believe it or not I thought ‘Oh my goodness what else do they have to deal with?’
HM: Did it ever occur to you that you might have been one of its victims?
RH: Not at the beginning. And then my son came to me in September when they announced there were Canadian victims, he listens to a lot podcast, and said “What do you think about this?” And I had sort of a strange summer, normally I'm on top of most of the things, but I’d missed that week's development. And I said “What?” And then I thought well you get to a certain age where you can't worry about something unless you know it's really going to happen. And I said “Look if it happens” you know he said, “We had some dealings with him” and I said “Yeah I know we did, but if it happens, it happens. But until then fine.”
HM: So how did you learn that things were not fine?
RH: My son usually comes over once a week for a Chinese food dinner. So he came over on Wednesday and when he went home he had a letter dated October 13th telling him basically the information. I used to do work as a consumer reporter, and a number of other things, so I said “Come over here tomorrow, bring the letter, we'll look at it we'll figure out a plan.” I went downstairs to go to the drugstore next door to photocopy his letter, opened up my mailbox and there was my letter.
HM: What does it say about the kind of information that was compromised? Did it lay it out for you?
RH: I can read it to you, it's really, really disturbing. Social Insurance Number, name, address, date of birth, phone number, email address, username, password and secret questions, secret answer.
HM: Is there in that list something that concerns you more than the other things?
RH: My social insurance number and my birthdate. You put that together with a name and you have the ability to open up a bank account in my name and use it for any purposes whatsoever.
HM: Why did you sign up with the credit monitoring program in the first place, back in 2013.?
RH: At that time I was looking for an apartment. I had sold a home, closed up a bunch of accounts, and my son was graduating from university, he just graduated and I was you know pretty much saying well this was what fiscally responsible people do. They monitor these things.
HM: So you encouraged him to do this?
RH: Yeah. And then what happened was Equifax was offering a deal at that time for an extra $15 you could add a family member. So, I said to my son “I will add you and we will get your report. And then after that it's up to you to decide how often you want to monitor this.” It made sense and I thought it was the right thing to do. Had I any idea or inkling that I'd be opening us both up to the exact opposite. Lack of security you could have hit me over the head of the frying pan.
HM: What have you had to do to kind of track what's happened to your reputation.
RH: First I tried calling the Equifax line. They give you a line to call, and they were not helpful. I got a young man who I believe was very well intentioned. I asked a few questions and he said “We don't have those answers now,” and I'm thinking ‘why did you send letters out to people and set up this before you have someone who can answer specific questions?’ So I got my credit report from TransUnion. I have my old Equifax report from 2015. Lo and behold my credit score is down, and I find a mysterious account, a personal line of credit at a separate financial institution that has been reopened, which I closed. And then I have to go in there now and bring all of this stuff and say you know “what is going on?” And I said to them I said “Look the last activity on this was January 30 of 2006. It's now 11 years later. I've never heard anything from you.”
HM: When you see something like that what goes through you?
RH: It could be just an error on the part of the financial institution or on the part of TransUnion. There are any number of explanations. But when you're in this position you feel very disturbed and violated.
HM: How many hours do you think you've been spending on doing this?
RH: I've spent the bulk of my weekend, I e-mailed the financial institution, one of them, and I got an email back and basically then I went online and signed up for all their alerts and discovered a an anomaly there where the limit for my debit card was increased 500 per cent compared to what I knew. Now, again I don't know how that happened and I'm not going to speculate. Anyway it just goes on and on, I think because your social insurance number is affected, I think that they the government some government should take responsibility for creating a registry for alerts for this that we don't have to do this all for ourselves, that we can sign up for just because it's so cumbersome and also I don't know who to contact at Revenue Canada or Service Canada or Service Ontario because they should know that this has been compromise.
HM: In prepared testimony at this Senate hearing on the Equifax breach, the former CEO, Richard Smith, he apologized. He also said that human error and technology failures were what was responsible for this data breach. What do you make of that?
RH: Well my understanding is that they were alerted that there was a security patch that needed to be installed in March — and they did not. The time estimate for the hack, at least the first big American one that affects half the population, is May. Now they take until October to get back to people. I don't think this is human error. I think this is just the lax and lazy company.
HM: You have made it clear how you're dealing with all of this. How's your son coping?
RH: Not well. He's coming over with his computer tomorrow. He was initially quite, quite devastated, and I mean, he's a young person, he's an artist. Finances are, you know, tight for people in that position. And it was really, really hard for him.
HM: We'll wrap it up there. Thank you very much for coming forward and talking to us. We appreciate it.
RH: All right, take care.
JD: Robin Harvey is the first Canadian to speak publicly about her experience as a victim of the Equifax hack. We reached her in Toronto and we do have more on this story on our website: www.cbc.ca/aih
[Music: Ambient Guitar Plucks]
Dead trends cemetery
Guest: Michael Fry
JD: If you were to go by Michael Fry's house in Mamaroneck, New York it would be hard to miss the display in his front yard. At first glance you would see a bunch of tombstones — you might assume that you're just looking at the handiwork of a guy who just really, really likes Halloween. Until you stopped and read the words on the tombstones, and then you might be a little bit confused. And so to explain we reached Michael Fry in Mamaroneck, New York.
HM: Mr. Fry, How would you describe what's going on in front of your house?
MICHAEL FRY: Well, I guess I would describe it as a cemetery for dying trends.
HM: Dying trends and what defines a dying trend to you?
MF: Anything that has been popular, or in, or cool over the last year that seems to be on its way out and not as popular as it once was.
HM: What kind of dead transit you come up with this year?
MF: One of the best ones we have this year is the dabbing, which is a kind of dance craze all the all the kids tend to do the the dab dance when anything even remotely cool happens.
HM: You kind of bend your head over and sort of bury in your elbow sort of.
MF: Right, right. They throw a piece of paper in the trash, and it went in, so dab. They got a decent grade on one of their projects or they do a dab. So, as a teacher, we see that happening all the time in the schools and it's just getting to the point where we are —we're done and we really need to see it go away.
HM: Wait a minute that doesn't sound like it necessarily means it is dead, just that you want it to be?
MF: Yeah, a couple of the gravestones that I do each year are kind of like wishful thinking.
HM: Like what, besides dabbing?
MF: The homemade slime is another very popular thing going around right now. Everybody's using all the Elmer's Glue they can find to make as much of this slime as they can. And it just gets on everything and gets stuck on everything and is extremely annoying. So as a parent and a teacher we’re trying to see that one you know go away as well.
HM: Yeah. There's a Payless Shoes tombstone. Not really sure what that one's about.
MF: That's kind of sad actually. Payless Shoes is a shoe store, we have one in our own town that just recently went out of business. I guess this past year they've closed over 1,000 stores and they're filing for bankruptcy right now. So that one kind of hit it hard because we have two little girls that need to buy shoes all the time.
HM: Right. Taylor Swift is in the mix too right?
MF: Yeah, yeah. In Her latest single she sings about how old Taylor Swift is dead and she has now blossomed into some kind of new Taylor Swift, so that was actually my daughter's idea. She thought it would be funny to put “old Taylor Swift” on one of the gravestones.
HM: How many of these suggestions do come from your daughters?
MF: I'd say I probably get it about a dozen suggestions from them. Of course they're five and eight, so some of the suggestions are just hilarious and, you know, coming from a very little girl's perspective. I think my youngest one said Grover is out because Sesame Street is all about Elmo now, which is kind of funny it's actually very true. But it’s actually a harder to come up with which ones we're going to use than it is to actually make the gravestones. It only takes me a day or two to make them, but it can take us months to kind of narrow it down to which ones we think are going to be appropriate for this year.
HM: Yeah. Are you trying to appeal to a particular age group or demographic in what you choose?
MF: I mean, as a middle school teacher, I think most of it is aimed probably towards the pre-teen and teenage crowd. But I'm also a father and a teacher, so some of those are wishful thinking and some of the older ones are kind of geared towards my generation, so I try and span a pretty you know big group of people in there. But I just try not to make anything too controversial, too left or too right. You know, just kind of make people chuckle and laugh when they walk by, but not necessarily get upset by anything that they see.
HM: What do your students think?
MF: The students think it's hilarious. I mean, some of them saw me bring in a couple of the gravestones into my classroom, and I might paint one or two during my lunch break. So they're coming and getting a little bit of extra help and they're like “I don't understand why you're paying old Taylor Swift on a tombstone,” and then I'll show them pictures of the ones that I put up already and they think it's hysterical. And now I've been on the local news and all over the Internet, they all think that their teacher’s some kind of celebrity, which is hilarious.
HM: So look ahead for us. Are you anticipating any trends for next year that you might include?
MF: Well, one of the ones that myself, and a lot of my other fellow teachers again I've been hoping for, is that the fidget spinners craze will hopefully die soon.
HM: Isn't it already over?
MF: I think it is. We've kind of banned them in our school. We’re Really sick of these things, but the kids still have them, they still bring them out, so I thought it might just been a little too early for that one this year, but I'm hoping for sure that those will be gone for good next year.
HM: How about coconut water? Would you get rid of that?
MF: Oh yeah, you know, that's disgusting. I could definitely put that on.
MF: I’ve had suggestions from neighbours about fitness wear as day wear. Because there's just tons of people who seem to be dressed all day long as if they're at the gym.
HM: Well, I guess a lot to look forward to that one then. But it sounds like a lot of fun. You obviously enjoy doing it.
MF: I enjoy doing it very much. This is our third year and it just seems to be getting bigger and bigger. I think the first year I did it was only like four gravestones, and now I'm up to about a dozen, so I'll probably have over 20 next year.
HM: You're in competition with yourself.
MF: Yeah, yeah. It's a good kind of competition.
HM: It's a little bit early but I’ll wish you a Happy Halloween already anyway.
MF: Well thank you, and Happy Halloween to you.
HM: Thanks for talking to us.
MF: Sure, no problem.
HM: Bye, bye.
JD: Michael Fry is a New York teacher who has created a cemetery on his front lawn rather for dead, and he hopes, dying trends. We reached him in Mamaroneck, New York. And if you'd like some photographs of Mr. Fry’s front lawn visit our website: www.cbc.ca/aih
Dateline: Venice marathon
JD: Dateline Venice, Italy
JD: Quotes “thanks to all of you who cheered for me and for the many messages for those who would like to spoil this moment I read only blah blah blah blah.” Unquote. And then two crying laughing emojis. That is how Eyob Faniel, the winner of yesterday's Venice marathon, celebrated his victory on Twitter yesterday. And that might seem kind of graceless, but before you tell Mr. Faniel there is a right way and a wrong way to do things, you should know that he only won that marathon because he knows the difference between the right way and the wrong way. Around the 16 mile mark of yesterday's race, the driver of a guide motorcycle zigged when it should have zagged, or perhaps done neither a zig nor a zag. The pack of front runners followed the bike. It was a few hundred metres before they realised they were off course, and by the time they were back on course, Mr. Faniel had taken the lead. The misdirection cost the leaders about two minutes. Mr. Faniel won the race by about two minutes. Now during the confusion he had a pretty clear advantage. He runs with the Venice marathon club, and so presumably he is intimately familiar with the Venice marathon circuit, and not likely to be side tracked by someone on a motorcycle experiencing a GPS failure. But speaking to the International Association of Athletic Federations Mr. Faniel did not acknowledge the mistake that allowed him to win. He acknowledged only one person, himself. He said quote “I dedicate the win to myself as I have always believed in my work despite all the difficulties” unquote. By all means he should enjoy the afterglow, but later he might want to recognize the accidental help he did get, because otherwise Eyob Faniel’s words are like the confused motorcycle guide — misleading.Back To Top »
Part 2: Doug Racine, sweating blood
Guest: Doug Racine
JD: Doug Racine is frustrated. Mr. Racine is a lawyer with the Aboriginal Law Group in Saskatoon. On September 1st he wrote a letter to the Law Society of Saskatchewan stating his concerns about the way Indigenous clients in Saskatchewan have been treated by their lawyers, particularly during the residential school compensation process. We reached Doug Racine in North Battleford, Saskatchewan.
HM: Mr. Epstein you wrote your letter on September 1st. What kind of response have you had?
DOUG RACINE: I haven't had a response yet. They've given me different reasons for not responding. The executive director was on holidays, was one. Another one was the executive director and others another staff member were at conferences and didn't have time to respond to it. And the one final response that bothered me, they said that they wouldn't respond until they met with the executive on the 7th of November. And they also suggested that my perceptions were perhaps not true, and I think that that's what spurred me to take my letter to the media.
HM: Maybe you could describe for us the concerns that you outlined in the letter to the Law Society?
DR: Yeah, I mean it's a nine page letter, so there's lots of concerns, but I think the major concern here is that if you look at the funding legislations of most law societies one of the most fundamental aspects is protection of the public. And what happened with Indian Residential Schools claims, is that there was no protection in regards to the independent assessment process or the Indian Residential School claims.
HM: I want to actually take you back a step though, just to clarify what it is that you're specifically concerned about with regard to fees and the work that is being done for the claimants. What is your concern?
DR: Well, the concern is that claimants had a lot of their compensation taken by lawyers that they didn't do the work for.
HM: How much of those claims was taken by lawyers?
DR: They were allowed to take up to 15 per cent of the claimants award.
HM: And this is after the lawyers had already also been paid by the federal government, is that right?
DR: Yes and they were paid. So if a claimant got a $100,000 they would get $15,000 from the federal government and then they were allowed to apply for an extra $15,000 from the claimants award. And of course the adjudicator would either award a portion or all of it.
HM: And do you know how many of the lawyers who did this work pursued that 15 per cent additional fund?
DR: Yeah, and I think what I say in my letter is that initially I think most of the lawyers did. I think after the adjudicators started to catch on, the ones that are doing the fee assessments, it gets reduced more and more to the point where near the end of the process nobody is getting anything extra. I think where I'm disappointed is that last spring in The Globe and Mail they reported that the Indian residential school secretary said there were fifty-six lawyers that had their fees reduced on 10 or more occasions, And that type of information, as far as I can find out, and I have no response from the Law Society is that that was ever investigated. Why were they reduced? What were the lawyers doing that those claims were being reduced?
HM: What do you think they were doing?
DR: Well, there's several things that I actually witnessed, because you remember I used to be an adjudicator and I've done my share of the assessments. And that is that a lot of the stuff that they were billing for should have properly been done by a legal assistant not a lawyer, so they were charging full lawyer’s fees for stuff that a legal assistant would do.
HM: Is that what you're saying when you say that they didn't do the work? Because you said a moment ago that they were charging for things they weren't doing.
DR: Yeah, well not only that, it’s that if we take a look at some of the court cases, there was one in in Alberta with Blott and Associates, Lawyers were showing up and they never even met the claimant. These are people that are going to be talking about very, very serious sexual abuse on a lot of occasions. Meanwhile the claimant, who hasn't slept for the last two or three weeks, because the lawyer hasn't bothered to tell them that their hearing is secret, has suffered tremendously. You know what I mean? They think that their family might find out or that their grandchildren might find out and stuff like that. So there was so much disrespect in this whole process towards Aboriginal people by claimants’ lawyers. Now there were some very good claimants lawyers and there were some very good adjudicators. The problem was is that the bad ones could never be weeded out because the Law Society said they don't have jurisdiction, they don't deal with fee disputes and several other excuses, which are explained in my letter and I don't find any of it acceptable.
HM: What's the evidence though that you are presenting what evidence my?
DR: Well, of course my own evidence, because I'm a former adjudicator, and my law firm represented over 1500 clients. Certainly I had my share of people coming in complaining about what they were being charged and what happened. So I mean, that's the evidence that I bring, and one of the problems about the independent assessment process, is that a lot of the statistics and conclusions have been kept under lock and key. We can't access those. For example, we know, and I don't think that you will have the Indian Residential Schools Secretariat deny this, but there were several investigations into what law firms were doing and they were handed over to a retired judge to look after and we've never seen the results of those investigations. So a lot of the problem is that this is cloaked in secrecy.
HM: To be clear, are you saying that Indigenous people are being treated differently than other groups in Saskatchewan by these lawyers?
DR: Yes, I think that the Indian residential school system, the way it was set up, there was no protection. So do I think that Aboriginal people are being treated differently? Absolutely. I think that Aboriginal people are being treated differently. I think that there was a tremendous amount of, especially in regard to the loss, turning a blind eye to what was happening out there.
HM: What are you hoping to get from them now?
DR: Well, Ontario recently appointed Ovide Mercredi as a special investigator to take a look at the Law Society's relationship and lawyers relationship and see how they can improve their representation of of that particular group. I think that's where we need to go, we need to take a good look at the way the law society operates. And what may need to happen is that we need to change the legislation so that law societies have the jurisdiction to move in and actually look after the public like they advertise on their websites. Because a lot of First Nations and Metis and Inuit went to residential school and they fell through the hoops, they had no protections. There was no way that this Indian Residential School claims process was going to be perfect. Nobody had attempted it ever before in the world. It wasn't if there was going to be mistakes, it was how many and when they were going to happen. The problem is that when we did start to have problems nobody moved to correct them, and a lot of people were abused and they were re-victimized by lawyers. And I'll reiterate, there was a lot of good lawyers that worked in this process. There was a lot of good of adjudicators, but the bad ones were really just allowed to do what they wanted to do.
HM: Mr. Racine, we will track where this is going in the coming days and I appreciate you telling us about it.
DR: Yeah, thank you.
HM: Okay, bye.
JD: Doug Racine is a lawyer with the Aboriginal Law Group in Saskatoon. We reached him in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. And we did ask the Law Society of Saskatchewan about Mr. Racine's letter and are hoping to have a response later on in the week.
[Music: Ambient Tones]
For the Record: Johnson widow
JD: It has been 19 days since U.S. Sergeant La David Johnson was killed in action in Niger. This past weekend he was laid to rest in Cooper City, Florida. But his death and a phone call that came after his death remain at the centre of a very painful, very public dispute. No doubt you have heard that the President of the United States called Sergeant Johnson's widow to express his condolences. A Florida congresswoman close to the family, who heard the conversation, called the president insensitive. Representative Frederica Wilson said President Donald Trump had told the pregnant widow Myeshia Johnson her husband quote “knew what he was getting into.” In response President Trump tweeted that Representative Wilson's account of the call was quote “totally fabricated” and that his conversation with Ms. Johnson was “lovely.” The President's Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, gave a press conference where he essentially confirmed Ms. Wilson's version, but condemned her anyway for debasing the call, which he described as sacred, and then the president called Ms. Wilson wacky. Well today, Myeshia Johnson went on ABC's Good Morning America to talk about that controversial phone, call as she heard it. Here's part of her conversation with George Stephanopoulos. For the record.
MYESHIA JOHNSON: What he said was.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: The president?
MJ: Yes, the president said that “he knew what he signed up for but it hurts anyway.”And I was — it made me cry because I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said. He couldn’t remember my husband’s name. The only way he remembered my husband’s name was because he told me he had my report in front of him. And that's when he actually said La David. I heard him stumbling on trying to remember my husband’s name. And that’s what hurt me the most, because if my husband is out here fighting for our country, and he risked his life for our country. Why can't you remember his name? And that’s what made me upset and cry eve more. Because my husband was an awesome soldier. He did what it takes people, other soldiers, like five years to do, in three years. So imagine if my husband was here now. My husband had high hopes in the military career.
GS: What did you say to the president?
MJ: I didn't say anything, I just listened.
GS: But you were upset when you got off the phone.
MJ: Oh very, very upset and hurt. Very. It made me cry even worse.
GS: Congresswoman Wilson reported that, and you explain she was in the car with you.
GS: She's been close to your family for a long time.
MJ: Yes, yes. She's been in our family since since we were little kids.
GS: The president said that the congresswoman was lying about the phone call.
MJ: Whatever Ms. Wilson said was not fabricated. What she said was 100 per cent correct. The phone was on speakerphone. Why would we fabricate something like that?
GS: Is there anything you'd like to say to the president now?
MJ: No. I don't have nothing to say to him.
JD: For the record, that was Myeshia Johnson on ABC's Good Morning America earlier today. Ms. Johnson's husband, Sergeant La David Johnson, was one of four U.S. soldiers killed in Niger earlier this month. After Ms. Johnson's interview aired President Donald Trump denied that he had forgotten her husband's name tweeting quote “I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sergeant La David Johnson and spoke his name from beginning without hesitation” unquote.
[Music: Ambient Tones& Bass]
Guest: Dr. Jacalyn Duffin
JD: Jackie Duffin was skeptical when she was first asked to review the case, and that's understandable because some Italian doctors were reporting that they had a patient who sweats blood. But Ms. Duffin began looking into it. She is an historian and a hematologist with Queen’s University, and today her commentary on this case, along with a report by the Italian doctors was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. We reached Jackie Duffin in Kingston, Ontario.
HM: Dr. Duffin, after all of your research are you at all skeptical about this reported case of a woman sweating blood?
DOCTOR JACALYN DUFFIN: I'm not as skeptical as I was when I first heard about it.
HM: And why is that?
JD: Well, when I was first asked to give an opinion on whether or not the case should be published I was a little bit surprised and skeptical that it was real and not something fictitious or produced by the patient or duping the doctors. But the more I read, both in the distant past and in recent case reports, the more I became convinced that there are robust examples of this problem that keep occurring. I personally have not seen one, but the case reports, including the one that's published today, are so well documented that it is very hard to refute that the phenomenon does not exist.
HM: Maybe you could take us through the details. What exactly have these Italian doctors reported about this patient?
JD: They reported a young woman who has had episodes of what looks like bloody sweat occurring on her face at intervals over the course of three years. Now anyone listening to this can imagine that all by itself is terrifying. And she has also suffered a great deal of social ostracizing, she's been depressed and very unhappy. In other cases that are in the literature, some of them are reported as following a very severe psychological trauma. I don't really know in the particular case of today if that was the case. They also write about how they saw her under multiple different conditions, multiple times with multiple examiners. They eliminated all possibility that she could be faking it. They checked her blood to make sure that it clotted and it wasn't a bleeding disorder. Her blood was normal. They did all the tests that one would want to do in examining a strange case of bleeding and came up with nothing. Therefore I think this case is credible. And I think that it fits the pattern of the ones that have been recently reported.
HM: And we just want to clarify there were no obvious lesions. No clear triggers as to why this was happening?
JD: No, and that's what people wonder. Was she scratching herself, was she pricking herself with a pin? What was she doing? And there is no evidence that she was doing any such thing.
HM: You know you talk about the social isolation she is reported and the depression she's suffered as a result of this. Do you have any idea what kind of impact this would have on someone mentally, emotionally dealing with this?
JD: I imagine it would be extremely upsetting. I think on the reassuring line is the fact that all the cases that I've read have not reported any untoward outcomes. Nobody seems to have died with it. And in many cases it resolves spontaneously and goes away.
HM: Yeah. Is there a medical name for this, an actual diagnosis?
JD: There are several words for it. Hematohidrosis. So “hemato” from blood, “hidrosis” from sweating, so bloody sweat. But there's a number of variations upon that theme.
HM: You've looked back, as you said, into the history of cases like this going back centuries. I can only imagine, you know, before the level of medical diagnoses that we have available now what kind of stories would have come out of this. What have you learned?
JD: In going back a long way, the earliest reports of bloody sweat or sweat like blood, go to at least Aristotle. Three centuries before Jesus Christ. But a number of the reports do allude to Jesus Christ, and the fact that in the New Testament of the Bible, in the book of Luke Chapter 22 verse 44, it is described that Christ sweat blood at the time of the crucifixion. And because of that religious statement about it a lot of the really old reports, certainly from the Christian era, referred to religious mysteries and they get all tangled up in that particular problem. Nevertheless there were scientific writers from Greek and Roman antiquity who do refer to bloody sweat quite independent of Christian texts. The more recent, so early modern literature from the 17th century forward, there are a number of case stories just like the one that got published today of people reporting on seeing somebody who has sweat blood under different circumstances. And those cases, like the others I was mentioning earlier, often are associated with a great deal of stress. Prisoners who are awaiting execution is one that recurs, but also people who have been frightened by something and then they sweat blood.
HM: Wow. You know, there's one doctor who was quoted in an article about this today saying that she wonders if this could be, not so much a bleeding disorder, this is another haematologist, but rather some kind of anatomical defect maybe involving the sweat ducts. Does that make sense to you at all as a possibility?
JD: It makes perfect sense to me. I don't know her, I did see the quote. Hematologists generally have ignored it, as a thing. We can't yet call it a disease, it's certainly a symptom or it's a clinical phenomenon, but we haven't yet got a narrative for what causes it. And what I noticed in the long review of its history is that dermatologists in the recent past two centuries have paid more attention to it than hematologists partly because in almost all of the modern cases it has been established that there is no coagulation problem. It's not a problem of the blood, perhaps it's a problem of the skin or of the sweat ducts, perhaps it's related to the physiology of severe psychic stress. I don't know, I’m not a physiologist, but you can imagine if your adrenaline shot way up, your microvasculature might contract, and then the little vessels might explode — and I don't know. I think that it's a clinical phenomenon that still needs an explanation.
HM: It must be fascinating for people who do this kind of research. But in terms of the patient herself do you know how she's doing now?
JD: I heard that they decided to put her on a beta blocker, and it has been used frequently in the other cases that I mentioned to you in the recent literature. And that she had some improvement while she was on that but it hasn't gone away.
HM: Wow. Well, it's an amazing and interesting story. Thank you very much for telling us what you found.
JD: My pleasure.
JD: Jackie Duffin is an historian and a hematologist with Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. And that indeed is where we reached her.
[Music: Arpeggiated Tones]
Creighton Hale obit
JD: It was just little league, but for young baseball players it was the big time. Creighton Hale pioneered big changes in the junior game that made it safer, but he also had other beliefs about who should be allowed on the field that have not aged as well. The former president of Little League baseball died earlier this month. He was 93 years old. In 1973, Mr. Hale testified that studies showed that the bones of females were weaker than those of males, in an effort to prevent girls from joining Little League. That effort failed and according to friends Mr. Hale eventually changed his view of girls in the game. His biggest innovation was the league's helmet design, which protected players from incoming pitches. Back in 1965, Creighton Hale was interviewed by CBC Radio's Bill Stirrup. Here's part of that conversation from our archives.
CREIGHTON HALE: This is probably most concern to us is the safety of these young boys and anyone who has followed the little league program have witnessed the fact that many changes have been brought about. And the amazing thing is how fast the ball really comes in there. It comes in and 46 hundreths of a second from the fingertips to home plate. Now people don't realize this but this is true. So you have to be very quick to get out of the way. Whatwe did then was to move 5,000 pitching mounds back to 46 feet. And just by one edict they had to move back to keep the boys from getting hurt. The helmet was the was the first used in Little League Baseball, it used to be a wrap around helmet. But now we have developed what people, medical people, consider to be the safest helmet. And we won't permit a boy to wear a helmet worn by professional baseball players, because this is not as safe as the one available to the little leagues now.
BILL STIRRUP: How so is it not safe? What is the difference?
CH: Well, the main difference, number one, it protects the temple of the head, which is the most vulnerable part of the head. Number two, is that when a baseball hits the helmet, the helmet itself and the material inside the helmet will absorb the blow.
BS: With this type of research going on the equipment and the time must be quite expensive. Does this cost you people much money?
CH: We put a considerable amount of money, as far as our total budget, into research. But often in the settlement of new products, one of the manufacturers, or groups of manufacturers, support this research. We owe a great debt of thanks for this type of help because we wouldn't be able to do it ourselves because research is quite expensive.
JD: That was then vice president of Little League baseball Creighton Hale in speaking to the CBC in 1965. Creighton Hale died earlier this month. He was 93.Back To Top »
Part 3: Neruda death, China Congress
JD: Somalis across this country continue to mourn after the bombing that killed more than 350 people in Mogadishu earlier this month. And this past weekend Manitoba's Somali community came together to remember the victims. Translator Mayran Kalah was among them. She lost 22 family members in that bombing. Ms. Kalah shared her story with Marcy Markusa, host of Information Radio in Winnipeg.
MAYRAN KALAH: Well, Somali communities are known to be a large families. I myself have five kids, I say 5,000 kids, but I lost my cousins, my auntie’s kids. We're still missing some of them but the last time I saw them they were young, but we are always talking on the phone, and I knew that they had plans that they were just any other people like us, and they had no reason to just die like that. So that hurts me more.
MARCY MARKUSA: Do you have any idea how it came to be that 22 of your relatives would have been in the same place at the same time in that area?
MK: Well, because the place it's known to be, like we all live in the same place, but that place was a market, and near it was hotels. So it was like everyone was like their own breadwinners. As you know, Somalia doesn't have anything going for it right now. So everybody is depending on one dollar that they can get. It was a workplace.
MM: So they were working in the market?
MK: For their own families, and when you have families you get your kids, because you have no childcare. So it was it hurts me to say that most of them was kids that came with them. It was like families together, doing the same thing, because we don't one you can't leave behind anybody because you don't know what will happen to them. It's not safe.
MM: So you’re all together?
MK: Yeah, the people were together, they were families. Four boys that we know of. Nine — a mom lost nine boys.
MM: Now is this one of your relatives or no this is a story you're hearing back from people?
MK: This is the story that right now is in front of us because we have asked when we see we know the people that are protesting and we call and say “what is happening now?” and then they told us that woman lost her mind because she lost nine of her boys.
MM: Who wouldn't lose their mind if they lost nine of their children?
MK: You know. And she’s asking us “Where is my kids? Where is my boys?” So it is the most horrific thing that happened. There have been so many of them to scare us, but this was the most horrific one, because we couldn't bury anyone together. So you don't know who you buried.
JD: Somali-Canadian Mayran Kalah speaking with Marcy Markusa, host of CBC Winnipeg’s Information Radio.
[Music: Ambient Bells]
Guest: Debi Poinar
JD: According to the death certificate of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda it was prostate cancer that killed him. It turns out that certificate is not worth the paper it's printed on. In 2011 the official cause of death was contested, and a Chilean court ordered the Nobel laureate’s remains to be exhumed and studied. There were reports that Mr. Neruda had been poisoned on the day he died. Well, researchers can now confirm that it was not cancer that took Mr. Neruda’s life, but whether he was poisoned remains a mystery. Debi Poinar is a research associate at McMaster University's ancient DNA lab. She is part of the team analyzing Mr. Neruda’s remains. We reached her in Hamilton ,Ontario.
HM: Ms. Poinar, why did you and your fellow researchers conclude that Pablo Neruda did not die of cancer?
DEBI POINAR: We concluded from protein analysis, tests that were done on his bones and remains, and from testimonials from some witnesses that were interviewed. Mostly it was from his physical state. The immediate cause of death on the death certificate was Cachexia, which is wasting or thinning due to a chronic illness. And there was also photographic evidence that that was absolutely not the case that — he was not at all cachexic.
HM: So what did cause his death?
DP: That has not been completely determined yet. It's an ongoing investigation, but it certainly does not appear that it was the prostate cancer that he had had for a few years, or that it had anything to do with cachexia. At this point they're looking at a possible infection in the last 10 hours of his life.
HM: Now he spoke to his wife at some point in the last 24 hours of his life, is that right?
DP: Yes, he did. As the testimony goes from the driver, the driver and interviewed his wife went back to their coastal home to retrieve some of his books and information. And during that time at the house and on Sunday morning they were called. I think it is sometime afternoon maybe late afternoon, that he had been injected in his stomach with something and now he was feeling incredibly sick and that they needed to hurry back to the hospital, which he was in Santiago at the time.
HM: Did he say to his wife who had injected him? Was that one of the regular medical stuff?
DP: No they did not say who injected him. And some of the testimonials from people are that it was not a member of the regular medical staff or that anyone recognized, but it was a very difficult time period because the coup in Chile had just happened on September 11th. So this is a little over 10 days since the coup had begun and the military had taken over pretty much everything including the hospital he was staying in.
HM: These questions about the cause of Mr. Neruda’s death have gone on for some time. People may remember that there was an investigation about whether he had been poisoned. No toxic substances were apparently found in his remains. What did you find out?
DP: We looked at the presence or absence of any bacteria that may have been in his remains and from that determine if that bacteria could have been a bacteria that was used as a biological agent.
HM: And what did you find you found something in his molar, is that right?
DP: Yes, yes. We were given bone samples and two samples, a canine and a molar. In the molar sample, we did find bacteria of strong interest. We can't really determine, or actually I can't really say what that is right now, because this is an ongoing investigation and we have to be very careful about making sure that this is a bacteria that came from Mr. Neruda himself and not from the contamination from the environment or the the burial setting.
HM: Would there be, at the time of his death, other bacteria that would be known or used in some kind of nefarious way?
DP: Yes, yes absolutely. I mean, bacterial ,you know, research on bacteria and using them as biological agents has been going on since the time and of the Chinese wars, or plague victims even, and certainly during the 40s, 1940s even World War II. And of course during the time period of the Cold War there was a lot of development of using various bacteriological agents to use as poisoning.
HM: In 2015 there were tests that revealed staphylococcus of some form in his remains. Is that something that could have been modified?
DP: It is something it could have been modified. Without getting too technical, there's the bacteria itself and then there's the toxin the bacteria produces. Staphylococcus aureus has the potential of producing a very bad toxin, one that can go septic as a lot of bacteria do. So it's difficult for us to determine a toxin within the remains, that's for the protein chemists and done through different techniques. But our work is strictly looking at any bacterial presence from DNA of the bacteria.
HM: What is next in your own investigation?
DP: Right now basically what we have to do is take all of the information that we've retrieved, all of the different stretches of DNA throughout this bacteria and piece it back together to reconstruct its entire genome for computer analysis. Basically like taking say a puzzle that has four million pieces and trying to put it together so that you can obtain a more clear picture of exactly what this bacteria is and if it's a strain that came from 1973.
HM: What does it mean to you to have a role in this investigation?
DP: Oh, it's actually been really incredible. It's it's meant a lot to me. This is a recent historical case. I mean, we're used to working on remains that are from so long ago of courset hey are faceless to us. And I read Pablo Neruda’s poetry and I'm very aware of what happened in Chile. And it's been quite an experience to be part of this expert panel of medical and scientific advisors during this time period.
HM: Is it possible we may never know what or who actually killed Pablo Neruda?
DP: It certainly is possible that we may never know who. It will be very difficult to determine exactly what or even if we do determine that this is a bacteria from that time period, it certainly wouldn't be our job or that that would be complete speculation to say ‘oh this is something that he was injected with.’ But we certainly can determine presence or absence, and hopefully bring us closer to understanding if this was possible to have happened.
HM: Well thank you very much for sharing what you found with us so far.
DP: You're welcome.
HM: All right. Bye, bye.
DP: Bye, bye.
JD: Debbie Poinar is a research associate at McMaster University's ancient DNA lab. We reached her in Hamilton, Ontario.
[Music: Ambient Tones & Bass]
JD: The T-charge came into effect today in London, U.K. T-charge is a new daily fee that will affect people driving older vehicles in the city centre, vehicles that are viewed to be higher emitters of pollution. And it will cost drivers of these vehicles £10, that's about 16 dollars Canadian. And that is in addition to another daily fee, the congestion fee, that's nearly 20 dollars Canadian. So that's 36 bucks a day for those of you keeping score — and everyone is keeping score. Some critics of this T-charge say that it is not strict enough. Others are worried it will affect the city's poorest drivers most. Well earlier today London mayor Saddiq Khan spoke with the BBC. Here's part of that interview.
MAYOR SADDIQ KHAN: We've got a health crisis in London caused directly by the poor quality air. Roughly speaking, each year more than 9,000 Londoners die prematurely because of the poor quality air. With children in our city, whose lungs underdeveloped, with adults who suffer conditions ranging from asthma to dementia and strokes directly caused by poor quality. So the T-charge which begins today as part of a package of measures were taking. We're hoping to also begin an ultralow emission zone in 2019. And the idea is Justin, to reduce the amount of NOx, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter that comes from vehicles. And roughly speaking, there are 34,000 of the most polluting vehicles that drive into central London. The good news, since I announced the the policy, we saw in August a drop in sales of diesel vehicles by more than 20 per cent, and we've seen about 15 per cent fewer of the most polluting vehicles driving into central London. So it's already started to change behavior which is good.
REPORTER: But the bad news surely is that it won't actually change the quality of the air in London very much.
SK: Oh it will. Because it is part of a package of measures with the ultra-low emissions zone.
REPORTER: But the other things are for the future. On this particular change today, it's not going to change things much, is it? It is just going to make it much more expensive for some people, some private motorists, to bring their vehicle into London apart from that it won't have a big impact.
SK: It will have an impact, a big impact. We've already seen as a consequence of cleaner buses in some parts of London the air being cleaned hugely. This all leads to the ultra-low emission zone. Already we're going to see with this after a few weeks and months I'm hoping, a fewer people driving the most polluting vehicles into central London. The ultra-low emission zone, plus this by 2020, the end of my first term, will see a 50 per cent reduction in NOx and particulate matters in central London. That means fewer adults suffering asthma and strokes and dementia, but also children hopefully not having the underdeveloped lungs they currently do.
JD: Saddiq Khan, the mayor of London, speaking with the BBC earlier today about the city's new charge on drivers of older vehicles. It's called the T-charge. It came into effect today.
Bob Rae on Myanmar
JD: Bob Rae made it clear today that he cannot promise miracles in Myanmar. But as Canada's new special envoy to the region he is hoping to at least make inroads in a country facing a dire humanitarian crisis. Since August nearly 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar for neighbouring Bangladesh. Mr. Rae, former Ontario Premier and ex liberal party interim leader, says that he plans to visit the region next week. At the end of his mission he will prepare an independent report with advice for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Here's part of what Bob Ray said to reporters today at a press conference.
BOB RAE: Well, I think the first thing I can do is to have a very direct meeting with as many senior officials in Myanmar and in Bangladesh as I can to get their sense of what is happening. And it's clear that there are very different accounts, and it's important for me to try to get at the reality of the situation and to share that with Canadians as soon as I can. I don't pretend to be able to work any miracles but I do think it's important for us to work together and see this as part of a consistent and persistent approach by our government and by other governments around the world. My sense is that the crisis that we're seeing today is not new and it's not unique. It’s not unique to the Rohingya and it's not new. It's a difficult pattern that has been established in Myanmar for a very long period of time. They've been in a civil crisis, in a state of civil conflict and military conflict, for a very, very long time. But I'm not going to make any other, draw any other conclusions about what's going on there until I've had a chance to be. I was there four months ago, so I'm not exactly — I don't go with a completely blank slate. I have spent some time there and over many years I've spent a lot of time studying the situation in Myanmar and what I found was, it's very difficult. And there are a lot of forces inside Myanmar that are not prepared for Democratic change. And we we have to figure out how to keep the pressure up in order to allow democratic reform to take real shape and to take root in Myanmar.
JD: That was Bob Rae speaking to reporters earlier today. Mr. Rae was named special envoy to Myanmar and will be visiting the region next week.
[Music: Flutes & Oboe]
JD: The Chinese dream is a dream about history, the present and the future. Those were the words of Chinese President Xi Jinping last week during a speech at the 19th National Congress of China. The National Congress is one of China's most important political events. In the coming days the names of those who will lead China’s Communist Party will be announced. And Mr. Xi himself is expected to serve another five year term, and he is taking steps to further strengthen his role. He has created his own political ideology called Xi Jinping Thought. If that sounds grand or even grandiose — it is. Our guest says that it shows Mr. Xi aspires to the status of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong. Orville Schell is the director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society. We reached him in San Francisco
HM: Orville's Schell, what is Xi Jinping Thought?
ORVILLE SCHELL: Well, Xi Jinping Thought is as all party general secretaries want to do. They want to have their thinking enshrined in the party constitution, which isn’t the government Constitution, it’s the Constitution of the Chinese Communist Party. So Xi Jinping has his version of Xi Think, which involves making China a great power. And the idea is that China keeps continuity with its socialist past, doesn't break, sets up a new kind of a model, which isn't pure capitalism and that's sort of what his thought is implying.
HM: You said that, you know, all Chinese leaders want to see that their views embraced by the party elites, by the country I guess as a whole. But in this instance we're talking about an ideology apparently to be written into the Constitution. What does that say about Mr. Xi’s power and leadership?
OS: Well, it's into the party constitution. And, as you probably know, China has two separate sort of governmental structures. The government structure, which has ministries and a Prime Minister, a premier. And then there's the party structure. And Xi is head of the party structure, and that's the Constitution that really matters, and that sort of provides a theoretical basis for China's whole sort of being and development. And what it means is that Xi Jinping rises to the theoretical level of Mao Zedong with his China Dream his pretensions of Chinese grandeur et cetera.
HM: How is it that in just five years Xi Jinping has managed to get such a powerful reputation and such a sense of, I guess, omnipotence within the party?
OS: I mean, I think he looked at the collapse of the Soviet bloc with great alarm. And he essentially concluded that if China were to reform politically and become more and more democratic over a period of time, it would be the end of the Chinese Communist Party. His version is not one of sort of liberal Western democracy, but the sort of big leader, authoritarian, get it done, make China wealthy and powerful.
HM: According to the BBC more than 170 ministers and deputy minister level officials fired, some jailed under Mr. Xi. Accusations of corruption, misconduct, violation of party discipline. Is there a power struggle going on within the party or is Mr. Xi basically sewn things up for the short term?
OS: Well, what we've learned through Chinese Communist Party history, is that there is always a power struggle going on. And what you see acted out on the stage before the audience is sort of a play to mask those seizures and those struggles. But it also must be said the party is a corrupt organization and that derives from the fact that the party controls all property, all banking, all finance, and the people who are in control of these things get very low salaries. So every time a deal is transacted there in a very, very good position to grab a piece as it goes by and that's the source of corruption, whether it's in the military,in the party or in the government. And so Xi has rightfully, I think, identified this as a great crisis and will undermine the legitimacy and credibility of the party.
HM: And in terms of, at least my understanding, is one of the jobs of the president during the Congress is to appoint officials who might ultimately succeed him as president. Is he doing that or are we seeing any indication of his thinking on that?
OS: Well, usually Party general secretary has a five year term and by tradition of the last several decades gets reappointed again another five year term. But at this moment when the 19th Party Congress is taking place at the end of the first five years, he appoints a successor. Xi Jinping has not done that yet. He may, but the danger of course, for him is as soon as he appoints his successor he becomes a kind of a lame duck, and he's not a lame duck kind of guy. He's a guy that likes to be demonstrably in control with no contenders in the wings.
HM: We've been hearing a lot, I guess, really since Donald Trump became president and started making policy decisions that appear more inward looking that the table is set for China to really take leadership on many issues — become an ultimate superpower. How do you think that Mr. Xi is sort of reading what is going on in the United States and Europe right now, and how is he playing that and the decisions that he's making?
OS: I think he's been playing a very astute game. I think he reads the U.S. with great caution. I think he is edging around Trump and we'll see when Trump goes next month to China what happens. But there is also a certain reluctance at the same time there's a certain desire to overthrow the leader of the world. Because China is not really ready to play a global role. And the truth is its system is very brittle and it's not a very convincing system to a lot of countries around the world who look at China's authoritarianism with a certain amount of circumspection.
HM: His defenders say that Mr. Xi actually adds a stability that China needs right now and that a continuity of leadership, whether it be a further five or ten years is not a bad thing. Do they have a point?
OS: Yes, I think they do. I mean, the truth is China has suffered from great instability and does fear disassembly, historically speaking. But the Communist Party is in a very astute way, it has removed all contenders. And basically what it said, you know, there but for the grace of God, the country will collapse if you get rid of the Chinese Communist Party, because there's no alternative. And they're both right. But it's also a very dangerous place for a country to be in because it means there is no exit except through the prevailing government,
HM: Mr. Schell I thank you for sharing your insights with us.
OS: My pleasure.
HM: Good to talk to you. Bye, bye.
JD: Orville Schell is the director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society. We reached him in San Francisco.
Father reunites with adopted twins
JD: 10 days ago Roberto Gaspar and his wife Dana Sinclair welcomed a daughter into their lives and then just days later Mr. Gaspar welcomed two more sons, twin sons who are now grown, twin sons he had not seen in more than 20 years since they were just months old. Mr. Gaspar was just a teenager, younger than his sons are now. He found out his ex-girlfriend put them up for adoption. She was unwilling to share any information about their whereabouts or the whereabouts of a daughter they had together with him as recently as last year when he last spoke with her shortly before she died. Mr. Gaspar has since been able to reconnect with Angelica, his daughter, and at the prompting of his partner he turned to Facebook to try to find his sons. And within days he had a reply from his son Ramando and soon after his other son Robert. This morning Gaspar spoke with Marcy Markusa of CBC Winnipeg's Information Radio about deciding to post to Facebook and about the reunion that resulted. Here's some of that conversation.
ROBERTO GASPAR: It was everything. Having their biological mom pass away last month and then having a newborn being born, just something lying in the bed there and I just looked over to my partner and I’m like, “I really gotta find my twins you know.” But I've said this to her a hundred times before. And she’s like “Well you know you want me to put a post up it could go sky high or it could just you know it might” — she even told me not to get my hopes up. All I know is in three days it's 27,000 shares. And a day later my son calls me. It was incredible, this has all been an amazing moment for me right now.
MARCY MARKUSA: So it was Ramando, I think they called you, is that right?
RG: Yes, Ramando was the first one to call me.
MM: And what did he say to you about what it was like for him to see your picture online?
RG: Oh yeah, he said a couple nice things actually. He was very happy to see me, and he said I looked just like him. The first moment he saw me he knew right away I was his dad hands down.
MM: You do look just like your sons or rather they looked just like you.
MM: We actually have some tape that we we're going to play you right now Robert just for 30 seconds, because the post was able to reach your son Ramando within days as you said. But we actually connected with him too. This is what he told our CBC colleagues in Edmonton.
RAMONDO GAUDETTE: Sure enough I look at the post and I read it and I'm like. “Holy crap. This is for real.” I take a look at him like, “That's my dad, that’s awesome” Pardon my language, he looked like a badass. He looked like awesome. Anyway it was really, really emotional. I was reading the post and I got really emotional. It was very touching. I was sure if you shaved off that beard he would look exactly like us.
MM: What's it like to hear his voice and hear what he thought of you in his own words?
RG: To be honest I’m losing words. It’s beautiful, it's beautiful. It was awesome to hear his voice and he sounds like me a little bit.
JD: That Was father of seven, Roberto Gaspar, speaking with CBC's Marcy Markusa earlier today about reuniting with his twin sons, whom he had not seen since they were babies.
CBC would like to acknowledge the support of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund.