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May 14, 2010

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Pros and ex-cons. New federal legislation would make a pardon tougher to get -- and one ex-convict believes the law is too unforgiving.

Objection sustained. Justice is supposed to be blind, but Spanish authorities have decided Judge Baltasar Garzon was farsighted -- excessively so.

Colouring their judgement. In Bangkok, the Thai military continues its assault on the Red Shirts -- but the protesters refuse to budge.

Follow the leader, and watch his parking meters. The story of a man you don't know you hate: inventor Carl Magee, who made a big change to our need for change.

He walked the walk -- and now we're talking the toxin. New evidence suggests that beloved South American liberator Simon Bolivar died of arsenic poisoning.

And..."Falcon Crest" is too obvious -- how about "As The Worm Turns"? "Guiding Flight"? Whatever you call it, a webcam is following the soap-operatic behaviour of some falcons -- and it's a veritable "Who's Who in Sin-terland".

As It Happens, the Friday edition. Radio that will settle on "One Flew Over The Cuckold's Nest".


PARDONS - EX-CON Duration: 00:07:52

How much punishment is enough?

That's the hot topic of discussion this week, after Public Safety Minister Vic Toews tabled a new bill that would change Canada's clemency laws. Under the proposed legislation, pardons would become known as "records of suspension." Those who have sexually abused children or who have committed repeated crimes would be ineligible. And those who are eligible would have to wait two to five years longer to apply.

Sex offenders Graham James and Karla Homolka have been used as examples of criminals who would be prevented from getting a pardon under the new bill. But the proposed changes would affect small-time convicts as well.

Neal Cornish is a student and a teacher at a Manitoba youth centre. He also has a criminal record. We reached Mr. Cornish at the Broadway Neighbourhood Community Centre in Winnipeg.


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

THAILAND CLASHES Duration: 00:06:36

The centre of Bangkok is in a state of chaos. This week, Thai government forces have clashed with Red Shirt protesters, in some of the bloodiest scenes of the two-month standoff.

Using tear gas and rubber bullets, soldiers are trying to break-up the protesters' encampment. But the protesters are staying resilient. Still reeling from yesterday's shooting of their military tactician, General Khattiya Sawasdipol, the Red Shirts are attempting to keep their camp and movement intact, by any means possible.

M.P. Nunan is a freelance journalist based in SouthEast Asia. We reached her earlier today in Bangkok.


LIVE FROM TIGRE LOUNGE Duration: 00:00:14

Album:MULATU ASTATKE / THE HELIOCENTRICS: INSPIRATION IN

Label:STRUT

Persons/Roles:
MALCOLM CATTO - COMPOSER
JAKE FERGUSON - COMPOSER
ADRIAN OWUSU - COMPOSER
MALCOLM CATTO - DRUMS
MALCOLM CATTO - ELECTR INSTR
JAKE FERGUSON - EL BASS
ADRIAN OWUSU - EL GUIT
OLIVER PARFITT - KEYBOARDS
THE HELIOCENTRICS - ENS INSTR
JACK YGLESIAS - PERCUSSION

TB SIPHON DEF'N Duration: 00:03:05

Sometimes a mistake goes unchallenged just because no one notices it's a mistake.

Last night, As It Happens spoke to a professor in Brisbane, Australia, who had a technical bone to pick with the Oxford English Dictionary, for its definition of the word "siphon". And the dictionary might have gotten away with it, too -- if Dr. Hughes weren't a professor of physics.

That definition, according to Dr. Hughes, would lead one to believe that siphoning is a result the of atmospheric pressure in a U-shaped tube. Ha! That's funny. To a physicist, anyway.

Dr. Hughes contacted the O.E.D. to tell officials that their ninety-nine-year-old definition neglected the role of gravity. He also wanted to know what definition As It Happens listeners had in their dictionaries.

Well, Talkback positively gushed.


BACK IN 5 Duration: 00:00:10

Album:ROLL ON/FOUR80EAST

Label:NATIVE LANGUAGE, NLM-0975-2

Persons/Roles:
ROB DEBOER - COMPOSER
TONY GRACE - COMPOSER
ROB DEBOER - PRODUCER
FOUR80EAST - POP GROUP
TONY GRACE - PRODUCER

FALCON SOAP OPERA Duration: 00:00:36

So, I'm not one to gossip, but -- did you hear that Trey didn't come home and his wife has now shacked up with a younger man? Yup, and that guy left his girlfriend, Jules, for her. But don't think she's sitting around crying for him. She's already got a new beau.

Simply everyone is scandalized -- maybe even more so because all these fickle creatures are birds. Apparently, if you're a peregrine falcon, life can be a real soap opera.

Just as Tracy Maconachie. She's been watching this falcon drama unfold for years. It's part of her job with the Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project in Manitoba, which turns thirty this year. We reached her in Winnipeg.


CLOSING

Well, we're going to take a break so you can hear the news, but we'll be back with more As It Happens in just a few minutes. When we return:

Benched. In Spain, maverick judge Baltasar Garzon is judged to have overstepped his bounds -- and now he'll face justice himself.

Jail time for a small-timer. A fundraiser gets six months in a cell for collecting as much as three thousand dollars for a Tamil organization.

She shall overcome. Disgruntled San Francisco hotel workers find an unlikely source of protest-song inspiration in Lady Gaga.

Stay tuned. I'm HM.

And I'm DJ.


RETURN BILLS Duration: 00:00:50

Hello again, I'm HM.

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

Coming up:

Twenty years ago, someone stole a Vancouver restaurateur's art -- and in returning it this week, someone has stolen his heart.

And the incendiary effect of a long-lost British First World War weapon called the "Livens Large Gallery Flame Projector".

Those stories are still to come on As It Happens.


JUDGE GARZON SUSPENDED Duration: 00:06:51

That was what it sounded like today as Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon left the National Court in Madrid, today. "Garzon, friend," they chanted, "the people are with you."

The people might be with him, but a judicial oversight board is not. Today, it voted unanimously to suspend the crusading judge.

Taking advantage of universal jurisdiction, Judge Garzon has indicted Osama bin Laden, gone after American officials for alleged torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, and was responsible for Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet's arrest in London in 1998.

But his investigations into the atrocities of the Franco era have proven too much. Last month, he was charged with over-extending his authority -- and he now awaits trial.

Reed Brody is counsel for the European Division of Human Rights Watch. We reached him in Paris earlier today.


THISTLED SPRING Duration: 00:00:24

Album:THISTLED SPRING/HORSE FEATHERS

Label:KILL ROCK STARS, KRS 518

Persons/Roles:
JUSTIN RINGLE - COMPOSER
HORSE FEATHERS - POP GROUP

SC: NATIONAL TRUST ALBUM Duration: 00:03:26

Sometimes you just can't relax, and you just want to go somewhere peaceful. Unfortunately, you usually feel that urge most keenly when you're trapped in a car alongside some doofus who doesn't know how to signal, but compensates by blasting his horn seemingly at random, in a traffic jam.

If only there were some journey you could take without physically leaving your car -- and some mysterious, disembodied guide you could follow through the gravel outside a British country mansion.

Some collection of recordings that -- wait...do you hear that? Those footsteps! Let's follow that person!

Where are we now?

Feels like we're climbing the stairs in the former home of Sir Winston Churchill. Someplace with a really terrific view of the Weald of Kent. And now we're following someone who is wearing enormous wooden clogs, and may be drunk. Either way, I'm feeling more relaxed already.

That's the whole idea of these recordings. We just heard two selections from "National Trust: The Album" -- a collection available as a free download from the British conservation agency's website. Britain's National Trust is responsible for preserving historical sites, heritage properties, coastlines, and the countryside in general.

It's always been easy to imagine that working for the Trust would take one to bucolic places, and leave one in a general reverie of oneness with the past, and the pastures. And now it's even easier.

According to Tony Berry, who has the peculiar title of "visitor experience director" for the National Trust, "It's the ultimate chill-out album." And he has an unlikely ally in the man who helped compile the album: Jarvis Cocker.

Mr. Cocker is best known as the devastatingly witty singer for the band Pulp, which broke up in 2002. Their biggest hit on this side of the Atlantic was the song "Common People", from the 1995 album "Different Class". He's continued to write and perform his uncomfortably sharp pop songs for the past fifteen years as a solo artist. But evidently even the man who once mooned Michael Jackson at a British music awards show likes an aural trip to the country.

On the subject of the National Trust album he helped produce, Jarvis Cocker says, "I hope this album is a 'holiday for the ears.'"

It's certainly a holiday from pop music. There aren't any tracks that seem like potential hit singles. Unless you count this song, recorded at a Norwich estate once owned by the Boleyn family. Here's "Blickling Hall - Clocks Ticking and Chiming".

Another cut from "National Trust: The Album" -- which is available as a free download from the website.


BURNLEY MOODS Duration: 00:00:45

Album:JORDAN OFFICER/OFFICER, JORDAN

Label:SPECTRA, SPECD-7814

Persons/Roles:
JORDAN OFFICER - COMPOSER
SUSIE ARIOLI - DRUMS
MICHAEL JEROME BROWNE - GUITAR
BILL GOSSAGE - DOUBLE BASS
JORDAN OFFICER - GUITAR
JORDAN OFFICER - ORIGINATOR
JORDAN OFFICER - PRODUCER

SIMON BOLIVAR DEATH Duration: 00:07:12

He's credited with liberating much of South America from colonial rule. And as such, Simon Bolivar is a revered figure across the continent. Numerous town squares are named after the brilliant tactician -- and, of course, Bolivia took its name from him. But Simon Bolivar's tumultuous life was also short. He died in Peru on December 17th 1830, aged just forty-seven. The cause of death was tuberculosis.

Or so we thought. But Dr. Paul Auwaerter is about to force a re-think. He's an infectious-diseases specialist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who's been looking into Mr. Bolivar's death. We reached him in Baltimore.


ELING'S HAUS Duration: 00:00:31

Album:LO-FI FOR THE DIVIDING LIGHTS/BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE

Label:ARTS & CRAFTS

Persons/Roles:
BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE - COMPOSER
BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE - POP GROUP

TAMIL SENTENCING Duration: 00:06:52

A message of deterrence and denunciation.

Today, the B.C. Supreme Court sentenced Prapaharan Thambithurai to six months in jail, for collecting funds that went to support the Tamil Tigers. It was the first such conviction under a law introduced nearly ten years ago to prevent terrorist financing from within Canada.

In total, Mr. Thambithurai likely collected only a few thousand dollars, much of which went towards the World Tamil Movement -- ostensibly a humanitarian organization which was not banned at the time he was doing the collecting.

However, the sentence is as much about sending a message as it is doling out justice. And while the case wraps up today, the jury is still out as to how effective that message will be.

John Thompson is the President of the Mackenzie Institute, and has been studying the Tamil Tigers for more than fifteen years. We reached him at his office in Toronto.


SOD: SF LADY GAGA SONG Duration: 00:01:51

Music has always been a medium for political commentary. Think the protest songs of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez; Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On," or the often-misunderstood Springsteen anthem, "Born in the USA."

Well, now there's another entertainer whose music is fighting the power. Although this one's kind of unlikely. It's Lady Gaga, and the song is "Bad Romance".

Now, there are those who sniff that Lady Gaga's music is a protest against good music. But hotel workers in San Francisco obviously disagree. And they also heard an element of defiance in the song, which they're turning against their bosses, with whom they're embroiled in a labour dispute.

Recently, the workers staged a protest at the Westin St. Francis hotel in the city, one of seven hotels targeted for boycotts by workers. They took over the lobby, brought in some trombones, and put their jury-rigged protest song to a choreographed dance routine.

Here's our sound of the day -- San Francisco hotel workers, with "Bad Hotel".


ROMANCE TO THE GRAVE Duration: 00:00:20

Album:FORGIVENESS ROCK RECORD/BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE

Label:ARTS & CRAFTS, A&C054-ADV

Persons/Roles:
BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE - COMPOSER
BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE - POP GROUP
BRENDAN CANNING - PIANO
KEVIN DREW - VOCALS
SAM GOLDBERG - SYNTHESIZER
LISA LOBSINGER - VOCALS
JOHN MCENTIRE - SYNTHESIZER
PAUL VON MERTENS - FLUTE
JUSTIN PEROFF - DRUMS
SAM PREKOP - VOCALS
CHARLES SPEARIN - GUITAR
ANDREW WHITEMAN - GUITAR

NIGHT YOU LEFT NEW YORK Duration: 00:00:26

Album:TOMORROW BECOMES YOU/SLOW SIX

Label:WESTERN VINYL, WEST071

Persons/Roles:
CHRISTOPHER TIGNOR - COMPOSER
ROB COLLINS - KEYBOARD
STEPHEN GRIESGRABER - GUITAR
BEN LIVELY - VIOLIN
THEO METZ - DRUMS
SLOW SIX - INSTRUMENTAL ENSEMBLE
CHRISTOPHER TIGNOR - COMPUTER
CHRISTOPHER TIGNOR - VIOLIN

DA: WWI SNIPER Duration: 00:02:57

Dateline: Australia.

In many ways, the Battle of Gallipoli represented the birth of Australia's national consciousness. The goal was to wrest the Turkish capital of Istanbul from the Ottoman Empire. The effort failed, but it was one of the defining battles of the First World War. And, as the young nation's first major military operation, it was also a defining moment for Australians -- although it was a particularly solemn coming-of-age. Nearly nine-thousand Australian soldiers were killed and close to twenty-thousand wounded.

But from the crucible of war, a nation's heroes are forged. In this case, one William Edward Sing. Better known as Billy Sing or "The Gallipoli Assassin." Mr. Sing was a crack shot with a rifle and, as Australia's best sniper, he killed more than two hundred enemy soldiers. He eventually became such a concern to the Turkish forces that they in turn sent their best sniper -- one "Abdul the Terrible" -- to hunt him down. But Mr. Sing proved to be more terrible than Abdul, and shot him first. For his efforts Billy Sing was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. And, although he died in 1943, he continues to be celebrated as one of Australia's bravest warriors.

Incidentally, Mr. Sing was the product of a bi-racial marriage: his dad was Chinese and his mother was English. Which, really, is neither here nor there. At least it shouldn't be. Except now, it's both here and there, because Mr. Sing's life is currently the subject of a TV mini-series, aptly named "The Legend of Billy Sing."

The series is described as "a fictional story containing events that are derived from the lives of various real people." One of the more fictional bits of the story, it turns out, is that its protagonist -- Billy Sing -- is, well, a white guy.

Which has Chinese-Australians understandably perplexed, and also a little miffed, since Billy Sing is a particularly revered historical figure within that community. The head of the Chinese-Australian Forum has accused the producers of the series of "whitewashing" Australian history.

But the truth behind the casting may be less nefarious and more nepotistic. It turns out the producer of the series chose his son to star in the leading role. The producer has been defending his choice by saying he couldn't find a Chinese-Australian actor to play the role of Billy Sing's father -- so, instead, he simply decided to cast the entire Sing family as white.

Whatever the reason for the casting choice, one thing is clear: the series, which presumably aimed to honour the famed marksman, sadly missed its target.


CARRION SUITE Duration: 00:00:48

Album:NOBLE BEAST/BIRD, ANDREW

Label:FAT POSSUM, FP1124-2

Persons/Roles:
ANDREW BIRD - COMPOSER
ANDREW BIRD - PRODUCER
ANDREW BIRD - VOCALS

WW1 WEAPON Duration: 00:06:25

Just as Billy Sing was Australia's secret weapon in the Battle of Gallipoli, the Allies had their own secret weapon during the Somme campaign. And historians believe they're close to find out just what it was. But unlike Mr. Sing, this weapon isn't flesh-and-blood. It's made of metal. And lots of it.

Peter Barton is the historian and author behind the search for this First World War "weapon of terror". We reached him in Peronne, France.


MY SHIP ISN'T PRETTY Duration: 00:00:14

Album:DECLARATION OF DEPENDENCE/KINGS OF CONVENIENCE

Label:VIRGIN, 50999 3 06840 2 7

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

STOLEN ART RETURNED Duration: 00:06:18

Back in 1990, in the wee hours of one morning, the Tomahawk Restaurant in Vancouver was the site of a break-in. And when owner Charles Chamberlain arrived at the scene, he was devastated. Because what was stolen was utterly irreplaceable: a collection of aboriginal art and instruments dating back to the nineteen-twenties. In total, about twenty items were taken.

This week, nearly two decades after the break-in, someone has returned six of those objects.

We reached Charles Chamberlain at his restaurant in Vancouver.


SAVITRI Duration: 00:00:14

Album:11:11/RODRIGO Y GABRIELA

Label:ATO, ATO0080

Persons/Roles:
GABRIELA QUINTERO - COMPOSER
RODRIGO SANCHEZ - COMPOSER
RODRIGO Y GABRIELA - GUITAR DUO
RODRIGO SANCHEZ - PRODUCER

PARKING METER ANNIV. Duration: 00:01:50

Politicians, generally speaking, are not known for their intellectual creativity -- unless perhaps they are trying to explain the ways in which they are not involved in lobbying scandals. But if there is one invention that must have been borne from the mind of a tax-hungry politico, it's the parking meter.

And so it was, seventy-five years ago this week, that an Oklahoma city traffic committee member named Carl Magee sought a patent for the following -- and I quote: "meters for measuring the time of occupancy or use of parking or other space, for the use of which it is desirous an incidental charge be made upon a time basis." End quote.

It seems the downtown core of Oklahoma City was getting blocked up with the parked cars of people who worked in offices and businesses. People who wanted to drive down to spend money shopping had nowhere to leave their cars.

So Mr. Magee set his mind to work, and the meter was created. When you popped a nickel into Mr. Magee's machine, a little arrow popped up, showing how long you could shop before the red "time expired" flag replaced it.

To call it a "successful" invention would be wrong. "Beyond wildly successful" might begin to approach the truth.

Money flowed into the coffers of Oklahoma City, and Mr. Magee sold his meters across the U.S. and around the world for twenty-three bucks a pop. And to give you an idea how much money he made, consider that the Magee Meter remained virtually unchanged, around the world, for more than fifty years.

It became an international icon, inspiring films like Cool Hand Luke, singers like Bob Dylan, and, of course, the Beatles' "Lovely Rita", about a parking attendant Paul McCartney met outside Abbey Road Studios.

So this is a story where everyone wins, right? Oklahoma City gets rich. Carl Magee gets rich. And all it costs you, the driver, is a few coins. Unless, of course, you accidentally let that red "time expired" flag pop up.

Then, of course, Rita may not seem so lovely.


LOVELY RITA Duration: 00:01:21

Album:SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND/BEATLES

Label:PARLOPHONE, C2 0777 7 46442 2 8

Persons/Roles:
JOHN LENNON - COMPOSER
PAUL MCCARTNEY - COMPOSER
BEATLES - POP GROUP
GEORGE MARTIN - PRODUCER




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