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July 28, 2010

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Oil and water. A leaky Enbridge pipeline pours millions of litres of crude oil into Michigan's Kalamazoo River.

On the dilemma of the horns. Legislators in Catalonia become capeless crusaders -- and make their region the first in Spain to ban bullfighting.

Laying down the law. Parts of it, anyway. A U.S. federal judge rules that the most contentious elements of Arizona's immigration law cannot stand.

Man of steel. We pay tribute to pedal-steel legend Ben Keith, a man who spent forty years feeling Young at heart -- Neil Young, that is.

Ansel and grateful. A California man is positive he's found a cache of extremely valuable Ansel Adams negatives.

And...grillers in the mist. An interview with the anonymous owner of a New York restaurant who delivers secret, illegal grilled cheeses -- and puts the profits in a Swiss bank account.

As It Happens, the Wednesday edition. Radio that's sure the authorities know -- they're just burying their head in the sandwich.


MICHIGAN: OIL SPILL Duration: 00:05:58

On the front page of today's Detroit Free Press, there's a picture of two oil-soaked Canada geese struggling under their thick, black, viscous burdens. It's not a picture from the region affected by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It's from the Kalamazoo River in Calhoun County, Michigan.

There's a new oil spill in the United States, and this time the company responsible is Canada's Enbridge Inc. On Monday, the oil started flowing into the Kalamazoo River, from a pipeline that stretches from Indiana to Sarnia, Ontario.

The flow's been stopped -- but not before more than three million litres of oil leaked into the waterway, stretching more than twenty-five kilometres.

Larry Rizor is an architect in Battle Creek, Michigan. His office overlooks the point where Battle Creek and the Kalamazoo River meet.


THE LAST MILE Duration: 00:00:31

Album:BADMARSH&SHRI: SIGNS

Label:NOTONE

Persons/Roles:
M AKBER ALI - DESIGNER
SHRIKANTH SRIRAM - DESIGNER
BADMARSH&SHRI - SINGER

FTR: GM PLANT CLOSURE Duration: 00:00:32

The timecards have been punched. The machines have stopped. The last transmission has rolled off the line.

Today, General Motors ended its ninety-year run in Windsor, Ontario -- once the heart of Canada's auto industry. The plant in the border city once employed seven thousand workers. Today, the final five hundred workers still employed at the plant shared a few tears, and a few drinks, to mark the end of an era.

Duncan St. Amour was a machine operator at the plant for 30 years. Here he is on his way into the plant this morning, for the record.


DARK WAS THE NIGHT/DARK WAS THE NIGHT Duration: 00:00:20

Album:PARIS, TEXAS, SOUNDTRACK

Label:WARNER BROS, 000020

Persons/Roles:
BLIND WILLIE JOHNSON - COMPOSER
RY COODER - GUITAR
RY COODER - PRODUCER
RY COODER - ARRANGER

PLANKTON DECLINE Duration: 00:07:06

Phytoplankton are like the mortgage-backed securities of the sea. Unless you specialize in them, you probably don't know much about them.

Scientifically speaking, phytoplankton are microscopic plants, and they form the basis for all sea life around the globe. But all you really need to know is this: just like obscure financial products, when things go wrong, we're in for a serious crash.

And now the bad news: things don't look so good for phytoplankton.

Daniel Boyce is a biologist at Dalhousie University and the lead athour of a new study published this week in the journal, Nature. We reached him at his office, in Halifax.


LITTLE GIRL Duration: 00:00:20

Album:BILL FRISELL: DISFARMER

Label:NONESUCH, 478524-2

Persons/Roles:
BILL FRISELL - COMPOSER
BILL FRISELL - GUITARS
VIKTOR KRAUSS - CONTRABASS
GREG LEISZ - MANDOLIN
GREG LEISZ - STEEL GUITAR
JENNY SCHEINMAN - VIOLIN

COVERT GRILLED CHEESE Duration: 00:06:51

Bread. Butter. Cheese. Those are the essential ingredients of a classic grilled cheese sandwich. It's also the name of Manhattan's underground grilled-cheese shop. That's right. Bread Butter Cheese is a restaurant that covertly supplies grilled cheese sandwiches. Illicit grilled cheese sandwiches.

We reached the owner of Bread Butter Cheese -- who shall remain nameless -- at his apartment-slash-secret-lair in Manhattan.


STÆRK BRUN MAD Duration: 00:00:08

Album:KLUNSERBEATS LIVE/ANALOGIK

Label:JENKA MUSIC

Persons/Roles:
ANALOGIK - COMPOSER
THEIS BROR - SAXOPHONE
MAGNUS DAMGAARD - BASS
JESPER KOBBERO - GUITAR
ASGER STRANDBY - KEYBOARDS

NEW DA PUTIN BIKER Duration: 00:02:50

Dateline: Sevastopol, Ukraine.If there's one world leader who knows how to orchestrate a photo op, it's Vladimir Putin. You might recall that, three years ago, Mr. Putin -- who was Russia's president at the time -- went on a fishing trip in Siberia with Prince Albert the Second of Monaco. It was just the two of them, some fishing rods, a vast expanse of untamed nature, and a professional photographer whose lense was set on "flattering". Pretty soon, people all over the world were treated to "candid" shots of President Putin riding a horse in an undershirt, and marching along an icy river with no shirt at all, his exposed chest as majestic as the landscape itself. He looked like he owned the place. Which, essentially, he did.

Well, nowadays, Mr. Putin is merely Russia's Prime Minister. His approval rating - previously the envy of politicians worldwide - has dropped to a relatively crummy forty-seven per cent. And since it's an open secret that he's planning to run for the presidency again in two years, he's decided it's time to re-work that image of his.

First, he claimed he'd met with the ten Russian agents who were part of a widely reported "spy swap" with the U.S. And rather than distance himself from their misdeeds, he sang their praises. And he also sang a song, along with the spies, called "From Where The Motherland Begins" .... known in the motherland as a kind of KGB anthem.

So Prime Minister Putin is clearly trying to tap into the kind of retrograde patriotism that will bump up his approval ratings amongst those who recall the bad old days as the good old days. It hardly matters that skeptics claim the whole spy sing-along never even happened.

And here's the second way he's revving things up:That's the sound of Vladimir Putin, dressed all in black, wearing fingerless gloves and aviator shades, driving a three-wheeled Harley Davidson -- along with a posse of bikers who call themselves the "Russian Wolves". He joined the Wolves for a international motorcycle convention in Sebastopol. And then he howled his support for them, and their mode of transportation.

"The motorcycle," he roared over the rumble of engines, "is the most democratic form of transport. It gives the biker a sweet sense of freedom. And so you can say that the bike is a symbol of freedom!"

His words were powerful. Powerful and mind-blowingly banal. But that's what these occasions are all about: making a good impression, superficially. And that makes photo ops the least disturbing of all the ops Vladimir Putin is involved in.


CLOSING WEDNESDAY Duration: 00:00:35

Well, we've got our motors runnin', and we're about to head out on the highway. The news is coming up next -- and then we'll be back with more "As It Happens". When we return:

Legalese, and legal unease. An American federal judge says Arizona is overstepping its bounds with its immigration law -- so she blocks it.

I'd better get that "Laverne & Shirley" lunchbox I got from my neighbour appraised. A California artist's garage-sale purchase may make him a multi-millionaire.

Ben there, done that. A musical salute to the late Ben Keith, who spent forty years making his steel guitar gently weep.

Stay tuned. I'm LL.

And I'm DJ.


RETURN BILLS Duration: 00:00:20



ARIZONA LAW BLOCKED Duration: 00:06:15

Arizona's controversial immigration enforcement law -- also known as SB 1070 -- was set to go into effect tomorrow. And some parts of that law will go ahead as planned.

But thanks to a federal judge's ruling, the most controversial parts of the law won't be among them. United States District Court Judge Susan Bolton issued a preliminary injunction today against the key parts of the law.

Karen Tumlin is an attorney with the National Immigration Law Center, which is part of a coalition of civil rights groups that has filed a lawsuit against the legislation. We reached her today in Los Angeles.


TONADA EL DIAMANTE Duration: 00:00:32

Album:TONOS Y TONADAS/CHIMERA

Label:MA

Persons/Roles:
CHIMERA - COMPOSER
CHIMERA - ENSEMBLE
CHIMERA - FLUTE

BULLFIGHTING BAN VOTE Duration: 00:07:11

In the minds of many, bullfighting is an integral part of Spanish culture: the sweep of the music, the pass of the cape, and the flash of the sword have long been seen as traditions in the country.

But today, lawmakers in Catalonia said "Adios" to the sport -- banning it in a vote of sixty-eight in favour, fifty-five against. As of 2012, the northeastern region will become the first in mainland Spain to do so.

"Prou!" -- which translates as "Enough!" -- is a platform of animal rights groups that forced the debate last year, after collecting a hundred-and-eighty thousand signatures from Catalans in favour of the ban.

Jordi Casamitjana is a zoologist specialising in animal behaviour, and a consultant for Prou. We reached him at their Barcelona office.


LA CORRIDA Duration: 00:00:31

Album:FRANCIS CABREL: L'ESSENTIEL 1977-2007

Label:ZONE 3, ZCD2-1072

Persons/Roles:
FRANCIS CABREL - COMPOSER
FRANCIS CABREL - WRITER
FRANCIS CABREL - SINGING

ANSEL ADAMS PHOTOS FOUND Duration: 00:06:00

Nearly a decade after making a remarkable garage-sale find, Rick Norsigian is finally cashing in.

Ten years ago, the California artist bought a collection of negatives in someone's driveway. He bartered with the vender, and managed to scoop up the collection for forty-five bucks. Now, he's had the negatives appraised at two hundred million dollars. That's because they've been traced to the legendary photographer Ansel Adams

We reached Rick Norsigian in Beverly Hills, California.


I FALL TO PIECES Duration: 00:00:27

Album:CHANTAL PARY ET CARL WILLIAM

Label:NAHEMA, NHMCD-369

Persons/Roles:
HANK COCHRAN - WRITER
HARLAN HOWARD - COMPOSER
PATSY CLINE - SINGING
CARL WILLIAM - SINGING

OBIT: BEN KEITH Duration: 00:01:57

When your debut recording as a pedal-steel guitar player turns into a Patsy Cline classic, there are two possibilities: either you've just launched an auspicious career, or it's all downhill from there. For Ben Keith, it was the former. Not just because he was one of the best players around, but also because he wound up in a long-term collaboration with another giant of popular music, Neil Young.

Ben Keith died yesterday, at the age of seventy-three.

He started out as an enthusiastic player of non-steel guitars. Too enthusiastic, actually: he practised so much that he had to undergo surgery on one of his fingers. So he switched to the laptop steel. And he was great -- which is why he was hired to do "I Fall to Pieces".

Ten years or so later -- by which time he was considered part of Nashville's "A-Team" of session musicians -- he met Neil Young. Mr. Young was in Nashville to record what would become "Harvest", and Mr. Keith was recruited to play steel guitar. When I say the two men met, I should point out that it happened in typical Neil Young style: Ben Keith came into the studio and played five songs with the band before they stopped long enough for introductions.

Ben Keith would play with Neil Young's touring band, and on umpteen of his albums, for the next forty years. That's partly because he stayed out of any arguments with the band or its leader; partly because he was a terrific, intuitive multi-instrumentalist; and partly because he loved working spontaneously -- an affinity he shared with Mr. Young.

One afternoon in 1974, the two men recorded a song that Neil had written earlier that day. They just sat down -- Neil Young with his banjo, and Ben Keith with his steel guitar -- and worked out the vocal harmonies and arrangement on the spot. And this is what it sounded like: from the 1974 album "On The Beach", this is "For the Turnstiles".


FOR THE TURNSTILES Duration: 00:02:36

Album:ON THE BEACH/YOUNG, NEIL

Label:REPRISE, CDW 48497

Persons/Roles:
NEIL YOUNG - COMPOSER
DAVID BRIGGS - PRODUCER
NEIL YOUNG - PRODUCER
NEIL YOUNG - VOCALS


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