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November 11, 2009

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A monumental victory. Despite a devastating act of vandalism on a cenotaph, veterans and citizens turn out en masse for Remembrance Day.

Back in Blackwater. Two years ago, private security guards killed seventeen Iraqis -- and now there's evidence the security firm bribed Iraqi officials to buy support.

Putting the system on trial. The key witness against Zimbabwean MP Roy Bennett may have been tortured -- and a judge rules that Bennett's lawyers can bring that up in court.

They'll defend it -- we'll be deafened by it. B.C. Police say their new ultra-mega-megaphone is just for chattering, not scattering.

Stream of consciousness. A feature interview with John Irving about his reflections on his country, our country, and his new novel Last Night in Twisted River.

And...most stories, we're not married to. But in this case, we're espousing more than the Giller-winning book The Bishop's Man -- Carol has espoused its author, Linden MacIntyre.

As It Happens, the Wednesday edition. Radio that's both well-read and well-wed.


CENOTAPH FOLO Duration: 00:05:54

It was an especially emotional day for the people of Fredericton, New Brunswick, and members of the Royal Canadian Legion.

As they gathered to mark Remembrance Day today, the damage done earlier this week to a war memorial was still visible. On Monday, Fredericton's cenotaph -- built in 1923 to honour soldiers who fought in the First World War -- was vandalized. The top section, which included a cross, was pushed over and smashed into pieces.

On the day of the incident, As It Happens spoke with Jean Guy Perrault, President of Branch 4 of Fredericton's Royal Canadian legion. He told Carol that the defacing of the cenotaph "blew him away". But the shocking act of vandalism didn't stop Mr. Perrault and his comrades from organizing today's ceremony.

We reached Mr. Perrault once again in Fredericton, New Brunswick.


REMEMBRANCE Duration: 00:00:20
Album: BOMBAY DUB ORCHESTRA
Label: SIX DEGREES, 657036-1120-2MJ
Persons/Roles:
GARRY HUGES - COMPOSER
ANDREW MACKAY - COMPOSER
BOMBAY DUB ORCH - ENS INSTR

FTR: BENNETT Duration: 00:01:00

It's a charge that has rocked Zimbabwe's already-shaky coalition government.

In February, Roy Bennett -- a senior member of the Movement for Democratic Change party -- was arrested on terror charges. The arrest came just as Mr. Bennett was due to be sworn in as the country's Deputy Agriculture Minister. He spent four weeks in jail before being released on bail.

Carol spoke to Roy Bennett after his release in March. Here is a part of their conversation, for the record.


ROY BENNETT TRIAL Duration: 00:07:38

Roy Bennett's suspicion that his arrest was politically motivated is shared by his party leader, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. And when Roy Bennett returned to jail last month, the Prime Minister temporarily withdrew from Zimbabwe's coalition government in protest.

On Monday, Roy Bennett's trial began. But it was quickly postponed as the judge deliberated a motion on the state's key witness. The defence says the witness was tortured into making allegations against Mr. Bennett. Today, the judge ruled that the defence can raise these torture allegations at trial.

Beatrice Mtetwa is Roy Bennett's lawyer. We reached her in Harare, Zimbabwe.


BANJO Z Duration: 00:00:21
Album: BANJO HOCKEY/TIM POSGATE HORNBAND
Label: BLACK HEN MUSIC, BHMCD0065
Persons/Roles:
TIM POSGATE - COMPOSER
LINA ALLEMANO - TRUMPET
HOWARD JOHNSON - SAXOPHONE
QUINSIN NACHOFF - SAXOPHONE
TIM POSGATE - BANJO
TIM POSGATE - PRODUCER
TIM POSGATE HORNBAND - JAZZ GROUP

DATELINE: READING NETWORK RAIL Duration: 00:02:29

Dateline: Reading, UK.

Here's a real head-scratcher.

If it cost two-hundred British rail employees twenty-seven thousand pounds, collectively -- roughly forty-seven thousand Canadian dollars -- to make a one-hundred-and-forty-five kilometre trip from Reading to Coventry by train...and it cost the same two-hundred British rail employees a mere two-thousand, four-hundred pounds collectively -- roughly four-thousand, one-hundred-and-sixty Canadian dollars -- to make the same Reading-to-Coventry trip by bus, how much would the train fare cost, per passenger -- and how much would it cost per passenger by bus?

Let's see. Carry the ten, find the square root of the hypotenuse, and...okay. The answer is: a second-class return train fare is one-hundred-and-forty-six pounds per person -- or two-hundred-and-fifty bucks Canadian.

Whereas the return bus fare comes to a mere twelve pounds per person. About twenty-one dollars Canadian. Which means that the train fare costs almost exactly twelve times as much as the same journey by bus.

That's not just some kind of complicated high-school math problem. It's reality. And it's still a head-scratcher.

This week, Network Rail -- which owns and operates Britain's railways -- did the math. And its executives decided that it made more sense to send two-hundred employees to a company conference in Coventry on the bus -- rather than on the company's very own, very expensive trains.

The company refused an interview on the topic, but did send us this statement via e-mail:

"We have no role in setting train fares. However, we do use rail for the overwhelming majority of business journeys. There may be occasions or exceptional circumstances where it simply makes sense to use an alternative form of transport, this being one of them. Network Rail makes no apologies for seeking the best value for money for the British people."

Well, that resolves that controversy. But there's still one head-scratcher remaining. And that is: why would anyone ever leave Reading in the first place?


BLUE REEL Duration: 00:00:10
Album: ALL BLUES/SEWALL, JAY
Label: MACK, STM-5-103
Persons/Roles:
JAY SEWALL - COMPOSER
JAY SEWALL - HARMONICA
KEN WHITELEY - PRODUCER

GILLER WINNER Duration: 00:07:56

In one way or another, we're all storytellers. But for some people, it's an art. Linden MacIntyre is one of those people.

The man who's spent most of his life telling stories as a journalist is also the winner of the richest award in Canadian literature, the Scotiabank Giller prize. He won it last night at a star-studded affair, for his novel The Bishop's Man. It's a prescient tale set in the Diocese of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

There were cheers for Linden this morning when he arrived at work at the CBC Television program the fifth estate, which he co-hosts. And there were cheers too for his wife, when she walked into our office today. That would be Carol.

And so we linked them up for the first-ever As It Happens husband-and-wife interview.


CLOSING

I really should get around to reading that book.

You know what they say: behind every Bishop's Man's man, there's a Bishop's Man's man's woman.

They don't say that.

I do.

Well, I say that's enough As It Happens for the time being. But we'll be back with more right after the news. When we return:

First the shooting spree; then the spending spree. New reports say that after Blackwater employees killed seventeen Iraqi civilians, Blackwater highers-up bribed Iraqi officials.

Mormon to the idea. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints offers surprising support to gay-rights legislation in Utah.

Megaphone or cacophone? Sure, a super-powerful loud hailer can cause a breakdown -- but Vancouver police say they'll just use the device to say "Whassup?"

Stay tuned. I'm CO.

And I'm BB.


RETURN BILLS Duration: 00:00:50

Hello again, I'm CO.

And I'm BB. This is As It Happens, Part Two.

Coming up:

Din reservations: B.C. police say their new megaphone is just for saying "Hi" to crowds -- but critics think the thing is a scream.

The unswerving observing of Irving: one of America's greatest writers joins Carol to discuss his latest novel, Last Night in Twisted River.

Those stories are still to come on As It Happens.


BLACKWATER BRIBES Duration: 00:07:36

On September 16th, 2007, in the middle of the day, a convoy of private American security guards sprayed machine-gun fire into Nisour Square, a crowded intersection in downtown Baghdad. Seventeen Iraqi civilians were killed, and scores more were injured. It became one of the most controversial moments in the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The company employing the guards, Blackwater, was condemned internationally, but faced no criminal charges.

Now, the New York Times has reported that Blackwater paid around a million dollars in secret bribes to Iraqi officials in a bid to silence criticism.

Mark Mazzetti is the reporter who broke the story. We reached him in Washington, D.C.


TARANA Duration: 00:00:10
Album: ALCHEMY/TASA
Label: CUSTOM, TASA004
Persons/Roles:
SHEKHAR SEN - COMPOSER
CHRIS GARTNER - PRODUCER
SAMIDHA JOGLEKAR - VOCALS
RAVI NAIMPALLY - PRODUCER
TASA - FOLK GROUP

OLYMPIC SECURITY Duration: 00:06:41

As the countdown continues to the Winter Olympics, authorities in British Columbia have been busy passing laws and buying equipment to prepare for the big event. And the latest tool that's come to late is called the "LRAD" -- or "Long Range Acoustical Device" -- an ultra-powerful megaphone. The Vancouver Police Department says it's a harmless thing, used for crowd control -- but not everyone is convinced.

David Eby is the Executive Director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. We reached him in Vancouver.


AUBERGE LE MOUTON NOIR Duration: 00:00:12
Album: WINTER HYMN COUNTRY HYMN SECRET HYMN/DO MAKE SAY THINK
Label: CONSTELLATION, CST025
Persons/Roles:
OHAD BENCHETRIT - COMPOSER
DAVE MITCHELL - COMPOSER
JAMES PAYMENT - COMPOSER
JUSTIN SMALL - COMPOSER
CHARLES SPEARIN - COMPOSER
DO MAKE SAY THINK - POP GROUP

MORMONS OK GAY RIGHTS Duration: 00:06:51

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always been vocal about its position on same-sex marriage. That position is: no thanks.

But it appears that, marriage aside, the Church's leadership is willing to support the rights of the gay and lesbian community in other ways. In a vote Tuesday night, the Church publicly announced, for the first time, its support for new gay-rights legislation in Salt Lake City, Utah. The laws, which ban discrimiation against gays and lesbians in housing and employment, were both passed unanimously following the Church's statements.

Michael Otterson is the managing director of public affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We reached him in Salt Lake City.


INTRO Duration: 00:00:20
Album: XX/XX
Label: XL, YT031CD
Persons/Roles:
ROMY MADLEY CROFT - COMPOSER
BARIA QURESHI - COMPOSER
OLIVER SIM - COMPOSER
JAMIE SMITH - COMPOSER
JAMIE SMITH - PRODUCER
XX - POP GROUP

JOHN IRVING Duration: 00:25:52

John Irving's new book, Last Night in Twisted River, is about a man named Ketchum -- a defiant contrarian, and a devoted guardian. It's about "Lady Sky", a woman who literally falls from the heavens, practically into the protagonist's lap. It's about a father and son who become fugitives after an accidental murder at a logging camp. And it's about that son -- whose name is Daniel Baciagalupo -- becoming a writer and, eventually, moving to Canada.

At one point, Daniel's father, Dominic, reflects on his son's novels. And as Mr. Irving puts it, "Somehow what struck him about Daniel's fiction was that it was both autobiographical and not autobiographical at the same time."

Which brings me to another thing that Last Night in Twisted River may be about. It's about an author who writes on an IBM Selectric, who writes his books from end to beginning, and who has written a controversial novel revolving around abortion that became an Academy-Award-winning film.

So is John Irving's new book also about John Irving? Yes and no. Because while it is filled with details that allude to Mr. Irving's own stellar career, it's also about loss, love, death, and politics. And about Canada.

So we thought we would invite Mr. Irving to our Toronto studio to talk about all those things. Here is Carol, in conversation with John Irving -- an interview we recorded when he was in Toronto for the International Festival of Authors.


LIFE ON THE RIVER Duration: 00:03:20
Album: O2: SOLO FIDDLE/SCHROER, OLIVER
Label: BIG DOG, BD9901CD
Persons/Roles:
OLIVER SCHROER - COMPOSER
OLIVER SCHROER - FIDDLE
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