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February 23, 2010

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This fall in Afghanistan, voters will go back to the polls. Inside and outside the country, watchers are hoping there won't be a repeat of last year's presidential election. At the time, the country's election watchdog, the Electoral Complaints Commission, or E-C-C, helped expose an enormous fraud, in which nearly a million ballots were faked -- most of them votes for Mr. Karzai. Now, that same body is the subject of controversy. President Karzai issued a new decree last week that gives him full control over the Complaints Commission.

Grant Kippen was the head of the E-C-C during last year's election. That job ended last month. Now, he's back at home in Ottawa. We reached him there earlier today.


IF I ONLY Duration: 00:00:13

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

INT N. IRELAND CAR BOMB BE FEB 22/10 Duration: 00:06:43

Northern Ireland was feeling hopeful. Two weeks ago, the Democratic Unionist Party and the Republican Sinn Fein party had reached what was heralded as a "historic deal". Differences of opinion over policing and justice systems had been ironed out, paving the way for power to be devolved from London and placed in the hands of the Northern Irish. This deal came as all of the province's paramilitary group's weapons were confirmed as being decommissioned. The country had taken a further step away from its troubled past.

Today, the mood has changed -- as communities come to terms with a car bomb attack in the province's fourth largest city, Newry. The bomb detonated outside the city's courthouse, damaging buildings in the area. Luckily, no one was killed.

The Downshire Road Presbyterian Church was one of the buildings damaged in the blast. Reverend Brian Colvin is the minister at that church. We reached him in Newry, Northern Ireland.


THE DEAD FLAG BLUES Duration: 00:00:14

Album:F#A#/GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR!

Label:KRANKY, KRAMK 027

Persons/Roles:
GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR - COMPOSER
GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR! - POP GROUP

CLIP TB N.S. CROSS BURNING Duration: 00:01:06

DALET - TB: N.S. CROSS BURNINGar


REJOICING IN THE HANDS Duration: 00:00:14

Album:DEVENDRA BARNHART: REJOICING IN THE HANDS

Label:YOUNG GOD, YG 24

Persons/Roles:
DEVENDRA BANHART - COMPOSER
DEVENDRA BANHART - SINGING

INT NEW BOSWORTH FIELD Duration: 00:06:41

Those of you who have visited Bosworth Field in the U.K. -- the site of the battle in which Richard the Third died -- may be feeling some measure of discontent after this story. Perhaps not a whole winter's worth -- but discontent nonetheless. Because it turns out that that site isn't actually the field where the famous battle took place.

A research project undertaken by the Battlefield Trust has located the actual site of the battle, two-and-a-half miles away from "Bosworth Field". And the experts have got the goods to prove it.

Dr. Glenn Foard is the lead archaeologist of the Battlefield Trust project. We reached him at his home in Northampton, England.


CLOSING



INT CONCORDIA TIME LAG Duration: 00:07:00

A great deal went right last weekwhen a Canadian ship sank off the coast of Brazil. But there are lingering questions about what went wrong with the rescue.

The Concordia, a floating classroom from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, is lost at sea, but all sixty-four students, teachers and crew are safe and sound.

Although everyone's relieved, there are serious concerns about the way Brazil's Search and Rescue crews handled this crisis. From the time the ship sent its first distress signal to the time that everyone was rescued, more than forty hours ticked by.

Nigel McCarthy is the Chief Executive Officer of the school, Class Afloat. We reached him in Lunenburg.


BITTERSWEAT Duration: 00:00:20

Album:WOLF MYER ORCHESTRA/FEMME FATALE

Label:ETAGE

Persons/Roles:
MARCUS FUREDER - COMPOSER
S GHITTONI - COMPOSER
C MALFATTI - COMPOSER
WOLF MYER - COMPOSER
WOLF MYER ORCHESTRA - JAZZ GROUP

FTR: EL MAATI Duration: 00:03:35

It's becoming a sadly familiar story.

A Canadian man is held in prison in a foreign country. The man is Muslim. There are vague allegations of connections to terrorism. The man is tortured, eventually released, and he returns to Canada. Soon after he returns, we learn of his ordeal. But then, in the months and years that follow, we learn, bit by bit, about the involvement, or inaction, of Canadian officials.

The case of Ahmad Abou El Maati follows this same unhappy trajectory. He was detained in Egypt, following the attacks of September eleventh. In June of 2002, officials with Canada's spy agency CSIS informed Egypt that they suspected Mr. El Maati was connected to a plan to commit a terrorist act in Canada. Officials then travelled to the country with a list of questions. None of which addressed whether Mr. El Maati had been tortured.

Mr. Justice Frank Iacobucci released the details of Canada's involvement today in Ottawa. These details come nearly a year-and-a-half after the publication of his final report on the cases of three Canadian men detained abroad and allegedly tortured -- one of whom was Ahmad Abou El Maati.

Judge Iacobucci found that Canadian officials indirectly contributed to the detention and torture of Mr. El Maati.

The federal government blocked the release of Judge Iacobucci's information until today. After the release of this supplemental report, Mr. El Maati spoke to reporters in Ottawa. Here he is, for the record.


IN THE COUNTENANCE OF KINGS Duration: 00:00:30

Album:BQE, SOUNDTRACK/STEVENS, SUFJAN

Label:ASTHMATIC KITTY, AKR 278

Persons/Roles:
SUFJAN STEVENS - COMPOSER
SUFJAN STEVENS - INSTRUMENTAL

INT JEREMIAH JONES Duration: 00:06:49

This story's from the Better-Late-Than-Never Department, Military Division.

It's the story of a war hero named Jeremiah Jones. He died sixty years ago, but he didn't get his due until yesterday -- when he was awarded a posthumous medal for distinguished service.

Lynn Jones is Jeremiah Jones' granddaughter. She's in Truro, Nova Scotia.


PEACETIME RESISTANCE Duration: 00:00:22

Album:DECLARATION OF DEPENDENCE/KINGS OF CONVENIENCE

Label:VIRGIN, 50999 3 06840 2 7

Persons/Roles:
DAVIDE BERTOLINI - COMPOSER
ERIK GLAMBEK BOE - COMPOSER
ERLEND OYE - COMPOSER
DAVIDE BERTOLINI - PRODUCER
ROBERT JONNUM - PRODUCER
KINGS OF CONVENIENCE - POP GROUP
KINGS OF CONVENIENCE - PRODUCER

SC DA: STOLEN PIGLETS Duration: 00:04:01

Dateline... Dyersville, Iowa.

You might not remember when. You might not remember who you were talking to. But at some point, you've probably agreed to do something unlikely at a later date. Specifically, "when pigs fly." Well, be warned: your debtor might come collecting. Because pigs in Dyersville, Iowa have recently been taking to the air, reaching heights as lofty as thirty metres -- although, admittedly, they haven't done it on their own.

An especially snowy winter has left regular dining options off the menus of Iowa's eagles. So they've begun to sink their talons into some fresh piglet -- sashimi-style.

The eagles circle above farms, waiting for a curious piglet to emerge. Then, before they know it, the hapless piglet is briefly savouring the wonder of flight -- before the piglet itself is savoured. And with a market price of six-hundred dollars for a full-grown pig, those eagles are enjoying the equivalent of a ten-course meal at one of those "molecular gastronomy" restaurants where everything is foam.

Local Dyersville pig farmer Jude Becker has said that this piglet-plucking happened last year -- but not to this degree. As he told a reporter for the Des Moines Register: "Last year, it was noteworthy and entertaining. Now it's growing. It's pretty impressive, but destructive to my business."

Because the birds are federally protected, and pastures are too spacious to patrol, Mr. Becker and his fellow pig farmers are at a loss as to how they can safeguard their farms, and save their bacon.

So we wish Jude Becker good luck, and send out this song: from 1971, this is "Johnny Reggae", by The Piglets.


INT SELF-HARM FOLLO Duration: 00:06:45

Freedom isn't always in your best interests.

Last month on As It Happens, we told you about the Newfoundland teenager who was being held in hospital -- while a court-room battle erupted about whether the sixteen-year-old girl has the capacity to decide on her own treatment. Though the province says she's old enough, others -- including the girl's mother -- disagreed. The girl -- whose identity is protected under a publication ban -- has been confined, treated and released dozens of times over the past two years after swallowing sharp objects, such as knives and razor blades. She has had nine surgeries to remove these objects.

Now, a judge has ruled the girl unfit to make her own health-care decisions. And many are applauding the decision.

Among them is Dr. John Bradford, Associate Chief of Forensic Psychiatry at Royal Ottawa Hospital. We reached him in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.


INT GM MOSQUITOES Duration: 00:07:28

In Canada, mosquitoes are typically a mild nuisance -- a pest we do our best to repel by slathering on the DEET and covering up. But in many parts of the world, they are much more than pests -- they bring disease and death. Dengue fever, for instance, threatens more than one-third of the world's population, and afflicts as many as one-hundred milliion people a year.

But scientists are working on a new superweapon against dengue-carrying mosquitoes -- one that attempts to beat the insect at its own game. Picture it as a kind of Mosquito Terminator: a genetically-altered mosquito, that targets and destroys future generations of mosquitoes.

Dr. Luke Alphey is the lead scientist of the project. We reached him at his home in Kidlington, just outside of Oxford, England.


ELEVEN SONGO BLUES Duration: 00:00:23

Album:UP AND AT 'EM

Label:BIG REED, BRRCD 3

Persons/Roles:
EDUARDO LIS - COMPOSER
KEVIN BREIT - GUITAR
CARLOS DEL JUNCO - HARMONICA
JOE CHICCARELLI - PRODUCER
CARLOS DEL JUNCO - PRODUCER

INT CAT FOOD & CANE TOADS Duration: 00:07:15

Toughness and adaptability are usually thought of as admirable qualities. But somehow the Cane Toads have failed to win the hearts of Australians.

Back in the 1930s, about a hundred cane toads were imported from Hawaii to tackle the country's cane beetle problems. Since then, their population has increased exponentially. The toads have made themselves at home, and made a lot of enemies.

Now researchers from the University of Sydney have a new plan with dealing with the country's cane toad problem. And all that's needed is a bit of cat food.

Rick Shine is a professor of Evolutionary Biology and one of the researchers of the study. We reached him in Sydney.


THE MOUSE IN THE ATTIC/THE FAT CAT Duration: 00:00:14

Album:TOMMY PEOPLES: THE QUIET GLEN/AN GLEANN CIUIN

Label:TOMMY PEOPLES, TPCD 001

Persons/Roles:
TOMMY PEOPLES - COMPOSER
ALPH DUGGAN - FIDDLER

MUSIC SC: CHICKENS SEE COLOUR Duration: 00:04:06

Here's a bit of chicken soup for the windows to the soul.

We all know that chickens have great eyesight, if only because none of us has ever seen a hen wearing glasses. But scientists have now discovered that chickens have colour vision that is far superior to that of humans.

Scientists mapped light receptors in the eye of the chicken, which maximize the bird's ability to see multiple colours in any given part of the retina. These receptors are apparently arranged in a way that makes their vision more sensitive. The scientists have speculated that this vivid colour vision may help chickens focus on the colourful plumage of mates, improve their experience of watching "Chicken Run" on Blu-Ray, and help them seek out brightly coloured berries at feeding time.

And that brings us to the other chicken-related study released recently -- although we're not really sure which research came first. The folks at Campbell's Soup released a new business plan to boost the performance of condensed soup. And part of the company's new approach comes from extensive consumer research into soup label design.

Shoppers were outfitted with special vests to measure skin moisture levels, heart rate, and eye movements, to gauge the emotional reactions associated with buying soup. Researchers were shocked to find that consumers thought the soup pictured on the can didn't look very "warm". And that the soup-filled spoon on the label provoked very little emotional response of any kind. They also found that the bright red label of the Campbell's logo made all the soup cans blend together on the shelf. As a result, the company will now introduce new colour-coded soup categories; the logo will be made smaller; and cans will feature larger, more vibrant pictures of soup without spoons.

However, the labels on cans of Campbell's three hottest sellers -- tomato, cream of mushroom, and chicken -- will remain exactly the same. Campbell's thought those soup labels, immortalized by Andy Warhol, were just right. Which only goes to show that if you're colourful enough, you can have more than your allotted fifteen minutes of fame. And you don't have to be a chicken to see that.


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