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November 12, 2009

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No longer a voice crying in the wilderness. After thirty-two days in captivity in the Philippines, a seventy-nine-year-old Irish priest is freed.

The oyster was their world. The American Food and Drug Administration bans Gulf Coast oysters -- leaving the people who farm them high and dry.

Putin, his feet to the fire. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev goes ballistic about his country's "primitive economy" -- right in front of the former president.

Working past deadlines. Elena Milashina's colleagues are being threatened and killed -- but the Russian journalist keeps on filing stories.

Zing went the strings of his art. A new exhibit showcases a composer with an awful lot of pluck: the influential, but largely forgotten, Henry Cowell.

And...post-partum impressions. Visitors to a New Zealand aquarium witness a horrible miracle: one shark bites another's belly -- and eight thriving babies emerge from the wound.

As It Happens, the Thursday edition. Radio that knows there are plenty of fish in the C-section.


FTR PRIEST RELEASED Duration: 00:01:36

It would be a grueling ordeal for even the fittest of men -- being kidnapped, dragged through jungles, and forced to sleep in a swamp. So when seventy-nine-year-old Irish priest Michael Sinnott was abducted from his home in the Philippines last month, his friends and family feared the worst. Today, those fears have been put to rest. Father Michael Sinnott was released by his captors, unharmed.

After his release, Father Michael spoke to reporters about his experience during his thirty-two days in captivity. Here is a part of what he had to say, for the record.


PRIEST RELEASED: FRIEND Duration: 00:08:03

Father Dan O'Malley is one of Father Michael's fellow priests in the order of the Columban Missionaries. He shared a home with Father Michael in the Philippines, but was back in Ireland on holiday when the abduction took place. We reached Father Dan O'Malley at St. Columban's, in Navan, Ireland.


SKELETONS AND SPIRITS Duration: 00:00:18
Album: THIS LITTLE BIRD/CROWE, ALLISON
Label: RUBENESQUE, RRL-00005
Persons/Roles:
ALLISON CROWE - COMPOSER
ALLISON CROWE - PRODUCER
ALLISON CROWE - VOCALS

MEDVEDEV SPEECH Duration: 00:06:53

If there's one thing that politicians love to talk about, it's change. And Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is no different. But, of course, talking about change and actually effecting change are vastly different things.

Today, in Moscow, President Medvedev made a state-of-the-nation speech, and called for serious reform of the country's economy and political system. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin -- the man largely reponsible for the current state of the Russian nation -- sat nearby.

Lilia Shevtsova is a political analyst with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. We reached her in Moscow.


NOUS N'IRONS PAS AU BOIS Duration: 00:00:19
Album: PIERRE LAPOINTE: DANS LA FORET DES MAL-AIMEES (F
Label: AUDIOGRAM, ADCD 5426
Persons/Roles:
PIERRE LAPOINTE - SINGING

UNKNOWN COMPOSER Duration: 00:06:54

If someone mentioned the name "Cowell", and said that he had something to do with American music, I would instantly think "Simon". As in the cranky, unbelievably wealthy jerk with the terrible hair on "American Idol". But there's another Cowell who is considered to be one of the greatest influences on twentieth-century American classical music. His name was Henry. And incidentally, as a young man anyway, his hair was magnificent.

Henry Cowell was equally important as a pianist and as a composer. In the nineteen-twenties, he toured the world peforming his own music, winning glowing reviews for his revolutionary technique. That technique wasn't what you'd call traditional: he would smash rows of adjacent piano keys with his forearm, and sometimes play the strings themselves.

And one of his methods of composition -- which he called "randomizing" -- influenced some of the most significant composers of the past century, including John Cage and Lou Harrison.

This week, a San Francisco-based organization called Other Minds will be celebrating the life and work of Henry Cowell with an exhibition, panel discussions and several concerts involving his work.

John Duffy is another great name among American classical composers. He's the recipient of numerous awards including two Emmys. Mr. Duffy was a student of Henry Cowell. We reached him in San Francisco


AEOLIAN HARP Duration: 00:01:32
Album: HENRY COWELL: PIANO MUSIC/COWELL, HENRY
Label: SMITHSONIAN FOLKWAYS, SF40801
Persons/Roles:
HENRY COWELL - COMPOSER
HENRY COWELL - PIANO

CLOSING

And that's all the time we have for now. Coming up next is the news -- and coming up after that, in just a few minute, more As It Happens. When we return:

Aw, shucks. An FDA ban on Gulf Coast oysters leaves the people who farm them suffering shell shock.

A passage to India. Stephen Harper prepares to head East to re-establish some trade relationships, and maybe sell a little uranium.

All that Lamaze training for nothin'. A pregnant shark's birth plan goes out the window when she's bitten by a chum.

Stay tuned. I'm CO.

And I'm BB.


FDA: OYSTER BAN Duration: 00:07:03

Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administation announced it was seeking to ban the sale of raw oysters gathered from the Gulf of Mexico. The goal, according to the FDA, is to cut back on cases of oyster-related food poisoning.

It turns out Gulf Coast oysters are particularly susceptible to contamination by a form of bacteria called Vibrio vulnificus. Think of it as salmonella's more brutal cousin. The symptoms of vulnificus poisoning are akin to acute radiation exposure -- and about half the cases are lethal.

Naturally, oyster farmers in the region are finding the FDA's announcement hard to swallow. After all, although particularly nasty, oyster poisoning is extremely rare.

Mike Voison is a seventh generation oyster farmer -- and he says the FDA is dealing him and his colleagues a raw deal. We've reached Mr. Voison at his office in Houma, Louisiana.


UNSQUARE DANCE Duration: 00:00:12
Album: QSF PLAYS BRUBECK/QUARTET SAN FRANCISCO
Label: VIOLINJAZZ, JCCD106
Persons/Roles:
DAVE BRUBECK - COMPOSER
ANDREA LIGUORI - PRODUCER
QUARTET SAN FRANCISCO - STRING QUARTET

SCRIPT: FACEBOOK MEEPS + CLIP Duration: 00:03:29

It won't surprise you to learn that a group of students at a high school in Massachusetts have been suspended for using a four-letter word. But I bet you can't guess the word. Nope, try again. Oh, that's terrible -- but no. The students in question were disciplined for using the word, "meep."

That's right. Parents of Danvers High School students recently got an automated phone call from the principal warning them that if their offspring were caught "meeping" in the hallways, they'd be in deep, meep trouble.

Principal Thomas Murray refused to tell the local newspaper how exactly students were disrupting things by saying "meep" in school. But he did say that the call to parents went out in order to head-off some kind of mass "meeping" event being organized on Facebook.

Mr. Murray told The Salem News: "It has nothing to do with the word. It has to do with the conduct of the students. We wouldn't just ban a word to ban a word."

And why would anyone want to ban a perfectly delightful word like "meep" anyway? I mean, it's so wonderfully meepingless, er, meaningless. And yet it has the potential to mean anything. Allow me to demonstrate:

"I meep you."

"You look absolutely meepy tonight."

"This hamburger is so meeping good."

"How was the movie last night? Meep."

And perhaps that was the problem for Principal Murray. Who knows what those meeping kids were saying?

If you're still not convinced, think about the original meeper, Beaker from The Muppets. The high-strung assistant to Dr. Bunsen Honeydew expressed himself solely through meeps. And you always knew what he was saying, didn't you?

Take a listen. Here's Beaker expressing himself. And a warning: if you're the principal of Danvers High, you may find some of this language offensive.


TEARDROP BUTTERFLY Duration: 00:00:07
Album: ONE DAY DEEP/PRAFUL
Label: CUSTOM
Persons/Roles:
ROB GAASTERLAND - COMPOSER
PRAFUL - COMPOSER
PRAFUL - LYRICIST
DANIEL TESTAS - COMPOSER
ROB GAASTERLAND - PRODUCER
PRAFUL - PRODUCER
PRAFUL - SAXOPHONE
DANIEL TESTAS - PRODUCER

PREGNANT SHARK ATTACK Duration: 00:06:52

You wouldn't think suffering a giant gaping shark bite to the belly would be a good thing for anyone. Especially a pregnant shark. But for one School Shark at Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World in Auckland, New Zealand, that surprise chomp turned out to be the best thing that could have happened.

Mike Horne is the CEO of Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World. We reached him at the aquarium in Auckland, New Zealand.


TURTLE WALK Duration: 00:00:14
Album: BLUE BREAK BEATS
Label: BLUE NOTE, CDP7991062
Persons/Roles:
LOU DONALDSON - COMPOSER
LOU DONALDSON - SAXOPHONE

SC/MUSIC: MUSICIANS' HEARING Duration: 00:02:30

So I say to the barista, "Excuse me, but do you call this a 'grande'?" And she says, "Yes, ma'am, that is what we call a 'grande'," and I say, "Do you even know what 'grande' means? Because if this is a 'grande', then this is my 'grande finale'!" And she says, "Is that some kind of joke?" And I say, "No, this 'grande' is some kind of joke!" And then she -- just a second. Pipe down!

That's better. Now, if you could hear that story about my last trip to Starbuck's, two things are probably true. First: you envy my wit in conversations with coffee-shop employees. And two: you are a musician.

Scientists at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, have been studying how people pick out conversation when there's a lot of background noise. And apparently, if you play an instrument, you're better at hearing what you want to hear -- whether it's the plaintive strains of an oboe, or a brilliant anecdote about coffee nomenclature.

The musician's advantage is not just a matter of ears. It's a matter of brains. Here comes some science: the Northwestern researchers asked sixteen lifelong musicians and fifteen non-musicians to listen to someone talking, first in a quiet environment, and then in a loud environment. And they monitored the subjects' brain activity. In all cases -- musicians and non-musicians -- the presence of background sound slowed down the brain's response to human speech. But in musicians, that delay was much shorter. And here's something else that's apparently important: the musicians' brainwaves actually resembled the soundwaves of that human speech, more so than the non-musicians' stubbornly rigid brainwaves.

According to the researchers, then, you should get your kids some music lessons, so they'll be able to negotiate our increasingly noisy world. Although I draw a different conclusion -- which is never to have a private conversation in front of musicians, no matter how noisy a room I'm in. And if I really have to whisper secrets with a bassoonist nearby, I'll just speak low.


ONE TOUCH OF VENUS, MUSICAL/SPEAK LOW Duration: 00:01:40
Album: BACKBEAT/PETERS DRURY TRIO
Label: CUSTOM, PDT2018
Persons/Roles:
OGDEN NASH - AUTHOR
OGDEN NASH - LYRICIST
S.J. PERELMAN - AUTHOR
KURT WEILL - COMPOSER
CAROLINE DRURY - VOCALS
RICK KILBURN - PRODUCER
PETERS DRURY TRIO - JAZZ TRIO
GRAEME PETERS - DRUMS
JESSE PETERS - KEYBOARDS
JESSE PETERS - VOCALS
CLINTON RYDER - DOUBLE BASS

INDIA NUCLEAR DEAL Duration: 00:08:10

Back in the middle part of last century, relations between Canada and India were pretty tight. Canada played a key role in developing India's burgeoning energy program by selling it a couple of our coveted research reactors. Things were going along swimmingly until 1974, when India broke the international Non-Proliferation Treaty and tested its first nuclear bomb.

Well, the bomb wasn't the only thing that blew up. Canada-Indo relations took a hit too -- after all, India had built its bomb with our equipment and know-how. So, needless to say, when it comes to trade relations between the two nations, things have been a little chilly. Now, that may be changing. The Harper government seems eager to develop trade relations with India once again -- specifically when it comes to selling them uranium.

Ernie Regehr is a Professor of Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies at the University of Waterloo and the President of Project Ploughshares. We've reached him at his office in Waterloo.


SPEED DIAL NO 2 Duration: 00:00:14
Album: ZERO7: WHEN IT FALLS
Label: UD, 2 61562
Persons/Roles:
HENRY BINNS - DESIGNER
NIGEL GODRICH - DESIGNER
SAM HARDAKER - DESIGNER
SIA - DESIGNER
ZERO 7 - ENS IN-V

FTR ROADSIDE BOMB SOLDIER Duration: 00:03:53

Yesterday, during the Remembrance Day ceremony in Marion Bridge, Cape Breton, residents heard from one of their own: a soldier who suffered grave injuries in Kandahar when a roadside bomb hit his vehicle.

Bombardier Adam Boutlier talked about this life-changing moment during the memorial service at St. Columba Presbyterian Church, for the record.


OUTER INNER & SECRET Duration: 00:00:15
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

RUSSIAN JOURNO Duration: 00:15:31

It's been three years since Anna Politkovskaya was assassinated -- very likely by someone who didn't like the investigative reporting she was undertaking in Chechnya.

Since then, it's become even more dangerous to ask questions about kidnappings, disappearances and murders in the North Caucasus. This year, at least six high-profile people have been killed for doing just that.

Elena Milashina knew those people. They were her friends and colleagues. And she knows that there's a good chance she could be next. She's an investigative reporter at the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta. On Friday, she will receive an award for her work from Human Rights Watch. She joined us in our Toronto studio.

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