* Nate Silver. The number-cruncher whose predictions for the last U-S election were bang on explains why so many people are at odds with odds this time.
* Cemetary Outhouse. A new toilet is erected in a small town's cemetery - in the shape of a coffin.
* US Election: Errol Morris. The producer of a short film asks for good reasons not to vote to illustrate why voting is important.
* Canadian Uncle in Syria. A Canadian woman is trying to get family out of Homs, where people find themselves victims of every side of the war.
* Lakes and Creeks. A Transport Canada official explains why the government is rewriting the Navigable Waters Protection Act.
* Nigerian Students Deported. Two Nigerian students who violated their visas by working now face deportation, and have gone into hiding.
Leader of the PACS. The current U.S. election campaign is the most expensive in history -- but the lawyer who changed the way campaign donations work thinks it's not expensive enough.
Dodging a ballot. Documentarian Errol Morris examines eleven reasons not to vote next Tuesday -- and creates a compelling argument for voting in the process.
Fascinatin' algorithm. In 2008, Nate Silver crunched the election numbers with astonishing accuracy -- but this time around, his presidential prognostications are the subject of some calculated criticism.
Searching for an exit. A Canadian woman is working around the clock to get her uncle and his two children out of harm's way in Syria.
We know one lake is Superior. And tonight, we'll try to find out why the federal government has chosen to give several dozen other lakes protected status -- while ignoring tens of thousands of others.
And...inter at your own risk. People used to think the tiny town of Millaa Millaa, Australia, was just a hole in the ground -- but things have changed now that it's installed an outhouse made of a casket, above a hole in the ground.
As It Happens, the Friday edition. Radio with directions to the small town's facilities: just turn your head and...coffin.
It isn't just the most expensive U.S. election ever. At two billion dollars, it's the most expensive election anywhere, ever.
But for James Bopp Jr., two billion dollars is not enough. As far as he's concerned, even more money should be poured in to the U.S. electoral process.
He is the attorney behind the Supreme Court decision that changed American politics forever -- Citizens United versus the Federal Election Commission -- a decision that strengthened the ability to donate secretly to a political campaign, and opened the door to unlimited donations from corporations and unions. In other words, the man behind the Super PAC phenomenom.
James Bopp Jr. is general counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech. He's in Bloomington, Indiana.
Now, when it comes to the U.S. election, Mr. Bopp is clearly unafraid of big numbers. And so is Nate Silver -- a math whiz with a bounty on his head.
Mr. Silver used his appetite for vast quantities of statistical data to make a pile playing poker. He made another pile picking undervalued baseball players for the Major Leagues. But he didn't make his name until he turned to politics.
In 2008, Mr. Silver developed an algorithm to help him project the outcome of the United States election -- and he nailed it. He predicted the presidential winner in forty-nine out of fifty states. And he nailed thirty-five out of thirty-five of the Senate races.
This time around, Mr Silver's Five Thirty-Eight blog has been picked up by the New York Times, and it's become a must-read.
Not everyone pleased with what they find there, though. In the last couple of weeks, some prominent American journalists have accused Mr. Silver of being everything from a fantasist and a fraudster to an agent for Barack Obama.
We reached Nate Silver in New York City.
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Not very long ago, people used to drive right through the small town of Millaa Millaa in the Australian outback without even realising it.
Those days are long gone. And that's because Millaa Millaa has a new toilet.
Pat Reynolds is president of the local Chamber of Commerce. We reached him at home, which is of course in Millaa Millaa, Australia.
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As a filmmaker, Errol Morris has tackled subjects as diverse as Vietnam, in his Oscar-winning documentary The Fog of War; an impassioned turkey hunter and other colourful residents of a small southern town inVernon, Florida; and a wrongfully-accused death row inmate inThe Thin Blue Line.
His newest offering is a short film of just over seven minutes, about the upcoming American election. It's an Op-Doc for the online version of the New York Times, called "11 Excellent Reasons Not to Vote -- question mark".
We reached Errol Morris in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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He was best known as General John Cabot Trail of the Cape Breton Liberation Army -- despite the fact that neither the character nor the army was real. Or because of it.
The humorist whose real name was Dave Harley died today after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. He was in his early sixties.
Mr. Harley's career spanned more than twenty-five years -- and included appearances onstage, on radio, and on television. And what separated him from the herd was separation -- that is, his demand in the nineteen-eighties that Cape Breton separate from the rest of Nova Scotia.
From our archives: here is former As it Happens host Dennis Trudeau speaking with Mr. Harley -- in character as General John Cabot Trail of the Cape Breton Liberation Army -- on May 21, 1986. The General is giving the Canadian government advice as it prepares to negotiate a free-trade agreement with the United States.
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Amid all the noise of the war in Syria, the people trapped in between are easily silenced.
The UN now estimates that as many as seven-hundred-and-fifty thousand refugees may have fled Syria by the end of the year. And they are the lucky ones. Many others remain trapped in Syria's main cities. And many are now the victims of threats from every side.
Shae Yakichuk's uncle and his two small children are among them. They are in the city of Homs, and Ms. Yakichuk -- who is a Canadian from Winnipeg -- is trying to find a way to get them out. We reached her tonight in Beirut.
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And now, Quote/Unquote.
Top left corner: "Croc Spotted in Manton Dam: Swim Ban". Top right corner: "Croc in the Suburbs: Council Warning". Huge picture in the centre with the headline "Croc Has Beef With Cow". Below that, in huge type, "CROC FOUND IN KIDS' SANDPIT". And finally, in a banner across the bottom, "Olympian's Close Encounter With Croc".
This is the front page of today's Northern Territory News, a tabloid newspaper published in Darwin, Australia. Five headlines. All crocodile-related. And around the world, tabloid editors are shaking their heads and possibly wiping away tears of joy. They never thought they'd see the day that a paper would achieve the elusive crocodile quinfecta.
And the news editor for the Northern Territory News knows what he's accomplished. His name is Matt Cunningham. And he described how he felt upon realizing he had enough explosive crocodile stories to fill his front page. Quote:
"Like all my Christmases had come at once."
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In Question Period today, Transport Minister Denis Lebel was once again answering questions about the environmental impact of the changes he plans to make to the Navigable Waters Protection Act.
We had hoped to ask the Minister some questions of our own on Tuesday. That's when news broke that ninety percent of the ninety-seven lakes that will continue to be covered by the law are either inside, or lapping against, Conservative ridings.
We didn't hear back from the Minister's office. But we did talk to the Ottawa Citizen reporter who broke the story.
That conversation led to this e-mail from Joan and Larry McFarlane, who have a cottage on Skeleton Lake, a hundred-and-fifty kilometres northeast of Edmonton.
"What protections were in place for the thousands of lakes before this change? Can we access a list of the old and new protected lakes. We don't recall any mention of lakes in Saskatchewan or Alberta. Also, how did the government decide which lakes to include now? We would really like some more info on all this."
You and me three, Joan and Larry McFarlane.
We've got a list of the bodies of water that made the cut. We'll get that up on our Facebook page.
For the rest, we're hoping Nathan Gorall can help. He's a Director General at Transport Canada. We reached Mr. Gorall in Ottawa.
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Imagine walking through a zoo alone at night. Not another human around, just you and the animals -- when suddenly you hear the cry: "annyeong!"
Now, if you're a fan of the television program Arrested Development, you're probably giggling quietly to yourself right now. But if you were at the zoo, you'd probably need a change of clothes.
Scientists now confirm that an Asian elephant at the Everland Zoo in South Korea has learned to speak five human words. He tucks his trunk inside his mouth to produce the sounds. The words are Korean, and include "annyeong," which means "hello." Koshik the elephant can also say "nuwo" -- lie down, "anja" - sit down, "aniya" - no, and "joa", which means good. Koshik the talking elephant is our Sound of the Cay.
DALET - SOD: TALKING ELEPHANT
CH:That was Koshik, the talking Asian elephant, saying 'joa', which is 'good' in Korean. Now, there's no evidence to suggest that Koshik understands the meaning of any of those words. They say that he simply started to imitate human words out of loneliness. So that's uplifting.
Maybe Koshik wouldn't be so lonely if he kept company with Mouse the Pig. Mouse lives -- or lived -- in Wales, and in 2005 we spoke with her owner Mike Rees, who insisted that Mouse could not only speak, she could do it with a French accent.
Here's former As it Happens host Mary Lou Finlay, speaking with Mike Rees, from our archives.
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They have a lot of support, but that may not be enough to keep them in Canada.
Ihouma Favour Amadi and Victoria Ordu are Nigerian students who have spent the past three years at the University of Regina. The women violated their student visas by working for two weeks at a local Wal-Mart. And for that, their visas were pulled and the two have been ordered deported. There is currently a Canada-wide warrant out for both women.
Staff and students at the university are rallying behind Ms. Amadi and Ms. Ordu. Among them is Michelle Stewart. She's a professor of Justice Studies and has organized several protests on their behalf. We reached Michelle Stewart at the University of Regina.
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They were going to learn about politics -- and they did. Just not the way they'd originally expected.
Fifty Grade ten students from two Catholic schools in Ottawa were all set to jump on a bus this weekend. They were headed on a field trip to Ohio, to join the the effort to get the vote out for President Barack Obama. It seemed like the educational opportunity of a lifetime -- to be on the frontline of a hard-fought U.S. election campaign.
But then, the trip was abruptly cancelled -- because of a quote in an article posted on an anti-abortion website. In that article, an anonymous parent opposed the school trip, because President Obama supports abortion options for women.
Norma McDonald is the principal of St. Peter Catholic High School, one of the schools that was supposed to go to Ohio. Ms. McDonald spoke to Hallie Cotnam, host of the CBC Radio show Ottawa Morning, about why she had to cancel the school trip. Here is some of their conversation.
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What? I'm on? But the lawyer hasn't checked this copy yet. What am I supposed to --
Okay. Hi. This next story is kind of a legal minefield, so bear with me. It involves the legal stance taken by the people who own the rights to a certain work of literature. One that involves a fictional character of tiny stature who leaves his beloved home to secure a share of a dragon's treasure. I have to be careful here.
Recently, a scientist from New Zealand wanted to hold a talk called "The Other Hobbit".
The scientist will be speaking about small primitive humans, the remains of which were discovered on an Indonesian island in 2003. When that story broke, the small primitive humans were immediately nicknamed "hobbi--", I mean, were referred to by the title of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic 1937 novel.
The scientist contacted the people who hold some of the rights to the word starting with "H". And those people responded: "it is not possible for our client to allow generic use of the 'H' word."
Now a short musical break.
No, no, no! Not the Nimoy! What are you --
Ugh. Of all the songs on Earth to play -- that was "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" by Leonard Nimoy. My apologies to all the lawyers, and the late Mr. Tolkien.
Anyway, it's something to keep in mind. For safety's sake, don't refer to any of that author's books or characters in public. And if you do, apologize immediately -- as a kind of Tolkien gesture.
We'll conclude with some music.
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The show was produced this week by Laurie Allan, Kevin Ball, Natasha Fatah, Adam Killick, Sarah Martin, ...
David McDougall, Lyne-Francoise Pelletier, Kevin Robertson, and Pedro Sanchez. Our technician is Robert Heydari. The show director is Reynold Gonsalves. The guy sitting next to me is our writer. And, our intern is Jessica Walker.
John Perry is the Senior Producer. And the Executive Producer of As It Happens is Robin Smythe.
We'd also like to thank some other people who helped us out this week: Mary Lynk in Halifax, Brent Michaluk at Radio Archives, Michael O'Halloran in Calgary, Marie Wadden in St. John's, Susan McKenzie in Montreal, Michael D'Souza, Maureen Brosnahan and Barb Carey in Toronto, Suzanne Dusfresne in Winnipeg, Gillian Rutherford in Edmonton and Jennifer Asselin at the International Festival of Authors.