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October 16, 2009

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Redact two letters from "commission" and you get "omission". An inquiry into the treatment of Afghan prisoners is repeatedly stonewalled by the federal government.

The 'Nam comes around. How one former military man applies the lessons of a South Asian quagmire to the current Central Asian quagmire.

Golf isn't just a good walk spoiled -- it's also a highway contract spoiled. A whistleblower reveals how the Montreal Mafia fixes road contracts -- and the role a "golf code" plays.

Getting their fifteen minutes of flame. A documentarian finds a surprisingly volatile subject coming out of people's taps in Colorado.

W.T. Eff...ervescence? Scientists discover how we taste the bubbles in beverages -- and reveal the fate of carbo-nations.

And...flying by the heat of their pants. At last, an easy way to unleash unbridled lust in tiny insects: take away a pheromone, and watch the flies spark.

As It Happens, the Friday edition. Radio that finds a polite way to tell you your fly is undone.


AFGHAN PRISONERS: COMMISSION Duration: 00:08:58

Inquiring minds want to know. But the Canadian government doesn't want to tell them.

In Ottawa, a commission is examining allegations that detainees in Afghanistan were tortured in local prisons after being handed over by the Canadian military. The purpose of the inquiry is to get a clear sense of whether Canadian soldiers -- and the Canadian government -- knew they were handing prisoners over to potential abusers.

But late last month, the lawyers heading the Military Police Complaints Commission accused the Justice Department of willfully blocking witnesses from speaking at the inquiry. The Justice Department said the gag order was necessary for reasons of national security.

Despite this, the commission did make some progress earlier this week. In a written statement, Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin, who was posted in Afghanistan when the detainees were transferred, said he submitted several reports to the Harper government. These reports acknowledged that prisoners were being tortured. However, the Commission is now on hold, adjourned while it appeals a federal court ruling attempting to narrow the scope of its inquiry.

Freya Kristjanson is the lead attorney for the Military Police Complaints Commission. We reached her in Ottawa.


EATING SPIDERS Duration: 00:00:18
Album: PSAPP: THE ONLY THING I EVER WANTED
Label: DOMINO, DNO 095
Persons/Roles:
PSAPP - COMPOSER
PSAPP - WRITER
PSAPP - ENS IN-V

FABULOUS 14 Duration: 00:07:15

It costs thirty-seven per cent more to build a road in Quebec than it does in the rest of Canada. At one point, you might have assumed there was a good reason for that. Well, there is a reason -- but it's a bad one...involving some rather unsavoury business practices.

Radio Canada's investigative TV show, Enquete, broadcast a report last night detailing widespread corruption in Quebec's construction industry. It involves an alleged price-fixing scheme by a group of contractors dubbed "The Fabulous Fourteen" -- and chatter about golf games being used as a cover for deal-making.

To explain, we reached one of the show's reporters, Marie-Maude Denis, in Montreal.


IF I ONLY Duration: 00:00:29
Album: DO MAKE SAY THINK/DO MAKE SAY THINK
Label: CUSTOM
Persons/Roles:
OHAD BENCHETRIT - COMPOSER
JASON MACKENZIE - COMPOSER
DAVE MITCHELL - COMPOSER
JAMES PAYMENT - COMPOSER
JUSTIN SMALL - COMPOSER
CHARLES SPEARIN - COMPOSER
DO MAKE SAY THINK - POP GROUP

DATELINE: PUTIN INTERVISION Duration: 00:01:56

Dateline: Beijing.

Nothing is ever enough for Vladimir Putin. He's a rich man, a powerful man, a leader -- in everything but name -- of one of the most powerful nations on the planet. A nation that has been to space, had countless Olympic triumphs, produced some of the world's most renowned literary figures -- and of course, most impressively, a nation whose representative won the Eurovision Song Contest title in 2008. Plus, he looks terrific in those unposed pictures where he's fly-fishing with no shirt on.

You'd think the guy would be happy -- but no. It appears there's one title Mr. Putin is desperate to reclaim. One title that is sticking in Mr. Putin's craw. The title of victor in the Intervision song contest.

A short-lived rival to its Eurocentric cousin, "Intervision" was an Eastern-bloc song contest, in which Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Finland (I know!), Bulgaria, Poland, East Germany, Romania and the Soviet Union went head-to-crooning-head. Intervision ran from 1977 to 1980, with the U.S.S.R. victorious only once, in 1978.

Well¿ once is insufficient for Mr. Putin. At a meeting in Beijing, he announced that he wants Intervision back -- but with a new cast. Mr. Putin is asking China to be a contender, with speculation rife that Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan could also join the party.

Will a Russian Intervision crown finally quench Mr. Putin's insatiable ambition? No, it won't. Regardless, in tribute to a new look Intervision, here is the USSR's 1978 Intervision triumph: Alla Pugaczova with "Vsio mogut koroli".


HOT DOGGIN Duration: 00:00:17
Album: DEERFOOT/DEERFOOT
Label: CUSTOM, DF001
Persons/Roles:
KURT CIESLA - COMPOSER
DEAN FAULKNER - COMPOSER
RON SAMSOM - COMPOSER
RYAN TIMOFFEE - COMPOSER
DEERFOOT - POP GROUP
RYAN TIMOFFEE - PRODUCER

COLORADO FIRE WATER Duration: 00:05:54

We all enjoy dabbling with the local firewater from time to time - but if you're visiting Fort Lupton, Colorado; it might be wise to avoid it. Not because of the hangover, but because you might just end up having too much of a blast.

Documentary filmmaker Josh Fox has been tapping into Colorado's water supply, among many others, for a new documentary on controversial natural-gas drilling practices. We reached him in New York.


AIH PHONE THEME Duration: 00:00:30
Album: AS IT HAPPENS
Label: DEMO
Persons/Roles:
JEFF ULSTER - COMPOSER
JEFF ULSTER - PERFORMER

CLOSING

Well, that brings us to the end of the first part of tonight's show. But there's a lot more As It Happens to come right after the news. When we return:

Apocalypse now and then. How the lessons of Vietnam could be applied to Afghanistan.

Rome wasn't built in a day -- and even finding part of it can take more than a century.

How one change to the fruit of a fruitfly's loins can affect the route of a fruitfly's loins.

We'll be back. I'm DS.

And I'm BB.


AFGHANISTAN: VIETNAM LESSONS Duration: 00:08:31

By most accounts, the eight-year military effort in Afghanistan is failing. The Taliban is stronger now than it has been at any time since before the fall of Kabul in 2001; the UN-supported government is corrupt; and there is little security in much of the country. What was once seen as a just war is becoming harder for the international community to justify continuing. All of which leaves U.S. President Barack Obama, as the de facto leader of the war effort, in a difficult situation. Over the next few weeks, he has to decide between one of two courses -- a gradual withdrawal of troops and an increased strategic focus in rooting out the Taliban leadership in the frontier areas of Pakistan, or a troop surge, aimed at overwhelming the insurgency with sheer force.

These two strategies are best illustrated in two books about that other great U.S. Asian military quagmire: Vietnam. The two books have both been read by President Obama, and are sold out in bookstores across the country.

Lessons in Disaster, by Gordon Goldstein, argues that a more strategic, targeted approach in Vietnam might have mitigated American losses; the other, A Better War, argues that the American strategy of increasing troop levels there was working well -- and that it was a loss of public support at home that forced the U.S. to concede prematurely.

A Better War was written by Lewis Sorley, a retired Army commander and military historian. We reached him in Potomac, Maryland.

DALET: AFGHANISTAN: VIETNAM LESSONS


HELP YOURSELF Duration: 00:03:39
Album: DANNY ECHO
Label: DEMO
Persons/Roles:
DANNY ECHO - COMPOSER
DANNY ECHO - PERFORMER

TB: GLASWEGIAN TRANSLATORS Duration: 00:01:52

In Glaswegian: Howsit Hinging Chinas? Helluva hard tay read theez init stull.

In simple English: How's it going, folks? It is difficult to read these remarks, is it not?

And thus, I prove my credentials as a possible Glaswegian interpreter. Last night on the program, we spoke to a representative of London-based company Today Translations, which is seeking just that. Glasgow, it seems, has become something of a hub for international executives -- who find the Glaswegian dialect as impenetrable as I find PowerPoint presentations about hedge funds.

After that interview, Talkback offered a quick lesson.


HAPPENSTANCE Duration: 00:04:26
Album: HAPPENSTANCE
Label: DEMO
Persons/Roles:
DAVE BABCOCK - COMPOSER
DAVE BABCOCK - SAXOPHONE

SC/MUSIC: INCOMPETENT BOSSES Duration: 00:02:24

Adlai Stevenson once said, "It's hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse." What he meant was that insecurity in a position of authority can lead to severe problems. Unless he meant that he got creamed twice by Eisenhower because he was uncomfortable in jodhpurs.

I'm going to go with the former reading, because it illustrates a point that we all take for granted. And that point is: bad bosses are bullies because they're incompetent and insecure. They all feel like they look funny on horses, but instead of just saying things like, "Baxter! Let's share a laugh about my discomfort about horses!" they say things like, "Baxter! Shut up and eat twenty doughnuts in five minutes or you're fired!"

You knew this in your heart. But now you can know it in your brain -- thanks to science.

Researchers at the University of Southern California, Berkeley recently asked a group of people to write about an experience that made them feel competent or incompetent. Apparently, when we write about a time when we felt like a loser, we temporarily feel like a loser again. And when we write about being winners, we feel like winners.

Having thus made people feel temporarily inept or ept, they asked those people to mete out punishment to university students. The punishment took the form of a horn sound, ranging in volume from ten to a hundred-and-thirty decibels. You can guess what happened, but I'll tell you anyway: the people who felt most inept punished the students with the loudest sounds. And the people who felt capable and confident punished the students with less harsh sounds.

So, see? The less qualified you feel to be a boss, the more you punish everyone you're the boss of. Or, to put it in terms of Adlai Stevenson's philosophy, the dumber you feel on top of a horse, the more likely you are to behave like a horse's behind. Which makes it hard for your employees to be sympathetic. Just ask Gordon Lightfoot.


BOSS MAN Duration: 00:02:11
Album: DID SHE MENTION MY NAME/LIGHTFOOT, GORDON
Label: UNITED ARTISTS, UAS6649
Persons/Roles:
GORDON LIGHTFOOT - COMPOSER
GORDON LIGHTFOOT - MALE VOCAL
GORDON LIGHTFOOT - VOCALS

MACDONALD ARCHIVES Duration: 00:01:20

Sometimes when a family heirloom is lost, it isn't just the family that loses out.

Earlier this week, we told you about plans to raze the building in Glasgow believed to be the birthplace of Sir John A. Macdonald. Most recently, it housed a pub and massage parlour. Now, it's shuttered and run-down.

Forty years ago, back when the Fox and Hound was a bustling bar, it was singled out as the likely home of our first prime minister. In 1967, CBC-TV reporter Craig Oliver went to Glasgow with Sir John's great-grandson Hugh Macdonald Gainsford, and they visited the pub. From our archives, here's a bit of their conversation.


MACDONALD'S GREAT-GRANDSON Duration: 00:04:48

Today, Hugh Gainsford is ninety-two and lives in Saskatoon. We reached him at his home.


COME WITH ME Duration: 00:00:55
Album: WHERE IS THERE/MORELENBAUM, JAQUES
Label: ENJA/JUSTIN TIME, JENJ 3331-2
Persons/Roles:
MYRIAM ALTER - COMPOSER
JOEY BARON - DRUMS
SALVATORE BONAFEDE - PIANO
GREG COHEN - BASS
JAQUES MORELENBAUM - CELLO
JOHN RUOCCO - CLARINET
PIERRE VAIANA - PRODUCER
PIERRE VAIANA - SAXOPHONE
MATTHIAS WINCKELMANN - PRODUCER

MINI ROMAN COLISEUM Duration: 00:05:53

It's been buried beneath the earth for centuries, while generations of archaeologists struggled to find it.

The ancient Roman port -- aptly named "Portus" -- was the empire's gateway to the rest of the world. And now, after years of excavation, a British and Italian excavation team has managed to bring Portus to the surface.

Professor Simon Keay is an archaeology professor at Southampton University. He's just returned from the "Portus" site in Italy. We reached him tonight in Winchester, England.


JEALOUS OF THE MOON Duration: 00:00:12
Album: WHY SHOULD THE FIRE DIE?/NICKEL CREEK
Label: SUGAR HILL, SUG-CD-3990
Persons/Roles:
GARY LOURIS - COMPOSER
CHRIS THILE - COMPOSER
TONY BERG - PRODUCER
NICKEL CREEK - POP GROUP
ERIC VALENTINE - PRODUCER

MORE ATTRACTIVE FRUITFLIES Duration: 00:05:39

It's perhaps no secret that when it comes to attraction, less is often more. Especially in the chemical compounds one chooses to unleash on prospective suitors. You want to be discreet in what you secrete.

Consider the Drosophila melanogaster, or common fruitfly. A team of Canadian scientists has discovered that the absence of a particular pheromone in the insect can draw others to it like flies on...well, you get the drift.

Dr. Joel Levine is an Associate Professor of Zoology at the University of Toronto who led the study.


YO TENGO RITMO Duration: 00:00:16
Album: PATATO: THE LEGEND OF CUBAN PERCUSSION
Label: SIX DEGREES, 6570361027
Persons/Roles:
ENRIQUE FERNANDEZ - COMPOSER
GEORGE GERSHWIN - COMP INSPIR
CARLOS "PATATO" VALDES - PERCUSSION
ENRIQUE FERNANDEZ - SAXOPHONE
REBECA MAULEON-SANTANA - PIANO
JOE SANTIAGO - CONTRABASS

OBIT: NAN ROBERTSON Duration: 00:04:16

She was a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, a professor of journalism, and the author of several books. And above all, she was a fighter.

She fought her employer, The New York Times. She fought alcoholism. She fought and survived a near-death experience with Toxic Shock Syndrome. She fought injustice.

This week, Nan Robertson lost her final fight. She died of heart disease, at the age of eighty-three.

Ms. Robertson joined The New York Times in 1955 as a general reporter for the city desk and "women's news". But her long career at the paper spanned a wide range of assignments, including the White House, presidential campaigns, the Paris bureau, and world events such as the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

She won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for a story about her long struggle with toxic shock syndrome -- an article which became, at the time, the most widely syndicated article in Times history.

Nan Robertson was ever-aware of the struggles faced by women in journalism. She was a founding member of the Women's Caucus at the The New York Times. And her first book, The Girls in the Balcony, chronicled a lawsuit by a group of women at the paper over inequities in pay, in assignments and in advancements.

Although she was not one of the plaintiffs in the class-action settlement, Ms. Robertson often spoke out about injustices against women, in newsrooms and in society in general.

In 1992, As It Happens broadcast part of a speech she gave in Ottawa at an annual conference for women in the media. Here's part of what she had to say, for the record.

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CAN'T GIVE EVERYTHING Duration: 00:00:20
Album: PLACE BETWEEN PLACES/HAYDN, LILI
Label: NETTWERK, 0 6700 30788 2 5
Persons/Roles:
MARVIN ETZIONI - COMPOSER
LILI HAYDN - COMPOSER
LILI HAYDN - VIOLIN
LILI HAYDN - VOCALS
ADAM MACDOUGALL - ORGAN
MANOSE - FLUTE

TASTING CARBONATION Duration: 00:06:37

When it comes to the bubbly, it's all a matter of taste really. And I'm not just talking about whether Baby Duck is superior to Veuve Cliquot. Which it is, bien sûr.

I'm talking about carbonation: the process of infusing water with carbon dioxide to give the fizz to our champagne, soda, or mineral water. Researchers have discovered a scientific explanation for how we taste carbonation. And while that may seem like sweet news -- the explanation

may be a bit sour.

Dr. Charles Zuker is a neuroscientist and researcher at Columbia University in New York.


REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, FILM MUSIC/HIGH ON LIFE Duration: 00:00:11
Album: REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, SOUNDTRACK
Label: NONESUCH, 79611
Persons/Roles:
CLINT MANSELL - COMPOSER
DAVID HARRINGTON - PRODUCER
KRONOS QUARTET - STRING QUARTET

FTR: GOLDHAGEN GENOCIDE Duration: 00:03:08

Worse than war. That's Daniel Goldhagen's portrayal of genocide, and it's the title of his latest book on the subject.

Dr. Goldhagen has another phrase for genocide: "eliminationist assault". He believes that world leaders have abrogated their responsibility to stop genocide -- and so he's laid out a provocative plan plan on how to do it.

The author spoke at the University of Toronto this week, at the invitation of the non-profit organization Facing History and Ourselves. Dr. Daniel Goldhagen, for the record.

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