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Wednesday: Canada Post - union, Sochi - US delegate, EPA fraud case, and more...

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Tonight:

Postcards from the edge. Postal workers are inundating the Minister responsible for Canada Post with angry mail -- and a union rep tells us why he thinks the Crown corporation is really reducing its deliveries.

Making a federalist case out of it. Former Bloc Quebecois MP Maria Mourani left the party over its so-called "Charter of Values" -- and now she's announced she's leaving the ranks of the sovereigntists altogether. 

They're headed to Sochi -- but they're not going straight there. You won't see President Obama at the opening ceremonies in Sochi -- but he's sending a message, by naming two prominent lesbian athletes to the U.S. delegation.

He spent more time with travel agents than secret agents. Nevertheless, an official with the Environmental Protection Agency spent some lazy, lucrative years pretending he was working for the CIA.

The unbearable darkness of being. While exploring caves in Ukraine, an American discovered evidence of a family that moved underground to escape the Nazis -- and tonight, we'll have an encore presentation of that story.

And...season's gratings. Tonight's holiday reading of a story by Pierre Berton addresses the problem of the demanding etiquette of Christmas cards -- a problem Canada Post is thoughtfully eliminating.

As It Happens, the Wednesday edition. Radio that's holding all the cards.


Show:AS_IT_HAPPENS
Date:2013/12/18
Time:17:30:01

PART ONE


FOR THE RECORD: DEEPAK CHOPRA Duration: 00:01:50

Lisa Raitt has a lot of mail to go through tonight.

The Minister responsible for Canada Post received bag after bag at her constituency office this morning, all protesting the end of door-to-door delivery, and all courtesy of the postal workers' union.

We'll speak to one of those mail deliverers in a moment.

First, though, to Parliament Hill where Canada Post President Deepak Chopra spent the afternoon making the case for changing the postal service. Here's some of what he said.


CANADA POST: UNION Duration: 00:07:00

We requested an interview with the Minister Responsible for Canada Post, Lisa Raitt. She wasn't available. Her office explained that she hadn't had a chance to go through all of those letters and cards delivered to her office this morning.

Mike Palacek delivered some of that mail. He's a National Union Representative for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and we reached him on the road to Ottawa.


DURIAN DOWRY Duration: 00:00:33
Album:CANNIBAL COURTSHIP/DENGUE FEVER
Label:CONCORD, FAN-62322-02
Persons/Roles:
ETHAN HOLTZMAN - COMPOSER
ZAC HOLTZMAN - COMPOSER
CHHOM NIMOL - COMPOSER
DAVID RALICKE - COMPOSER
PAUL SMITH - COMPOSER
SENON WILLIAMS - COMPOSER
DENGUE FEVER - POP GROUP
DENGUE FEVER - PRODUCER

SOCHI US DELEGATION Duration: 00:07:30

If the U.S. president refuses to attend the opening or closing ceremonies of your Olympics -- it sends a pretty clear message. But it seems like Barrack Obama decided that wasn't enough to give Russia the hint.

The President has now appointed two prominent lesbian athletes to the official White House delegation to Sochi -- an apparent show of opposition to Russia's recently passed anti-gay laws.

Caitlin Cahow is a former U.S. Olympic hockey player who will be in that delegation. We reached her in Boston


I SAW THE BRIGHT SHINIES Duration: 00:00:20
Album:HELLO, AVALANCHE/OCTOPUS PROJECT
Label:PEEK-A-BOO
Persons/Roles:
JOSH LAMBERT - COMPOSER
YVONNE LAMBERT - COMPOSER
TOTO MIRANDA - COMPOSER
RYAN HADLOCK - PRODUCER
JOSH LAMBERT - PRODUCER
YVONNE LAMBERT - PRODUCER
TOTO MIRANDA - PRODUCER
OCTOPUS PROJECT - POP GROUP

SCRIPT: POOP CRUISE Duration: 00:01:41

On one hand, it provides "an amazing getaway packed absolutely full of incredible family options". At the end of a long day, you should "get ready for a delicious dinner, including fresh lobster and an extensive wine list." And the staterooms are designed "specifically for relaxing, for recharging, for enjoying quiet times with those who matter to you."

On the other hand, the company "makes no guarantee for safe passage, a seaworthy vessel, adequate and wholesome food, and sanitary and safe living conditions."

That first list of awesome things is from the Carnival Cruises website. The second list of possibly non-awesome things for which Carnival takes no responsibility is from the fine print on an actual ticket.

And it's part of a court filing Carnival has made, defending itself against lawsuits filed by passengers on the now-infamous "poop cruise".

In February, the Carnival Triumph cruise ship caught fire and lost power. Four thousand passengers were stranded at sea without air conditioning or working toilets for four days. Now CNN has also uncovered evidence that the Triumph put out to sea with a generator that was overdue for maintenance. There were also fleet-wide problems with the fuel lines.

A whole mess of passengers are suing over the whole mess. And Carnival has subsequently spent three hundred million bucks to upgrade safety on all its ships. But in the meantime, it would like to hand the litigants a magnifying glass and direct them to their own tickets: safety, seaworthiness, edible food, and general cleanliness are not guaranteed.


MR GHOST GOES TO TOWN Duration: 00:00:27
Album:ULTRA-LOUNGE, VOL 11
Label:CAPITOL, 000027
Persons/Roles:
WILL HUDSON - COMPOSER
MITCHELL PARISH - WRITER
IRVING MILLS - WRITER
JOHN BUZON TRIO - ENS INSTR

FROM OUR ARCHIVES: RONNIE BIGGS OBIT Duration: 00:03:51

Ronnie Biggs, the legend, was larger than life.

In the fifty years since he took part in Britain's "Great Train Robbery," he became a household name, one of the country's most notorious criminals and, to some, a folk hero. His escape from prison and decades evading capture amplified his mystique.

Ronnie Biggs, the man, died yesterday at the age of 84, after a long period of illness.

The heist that made him famous took place in August 1963. A gang of men stole dozens of bags of money from a Royal Mail train, making off with 2.6 million pounds. Today, that haul would have been worth 50 million dollars.

They were soon rounded up, convicted and jailed. But a little over a year later, Mr. Biggs busted out. He fled to France, then settled in Australia with his family. And when the authorities nearly caught up with him there, he escaped to Brazil -- a country with no extradition treaty with Britain.

That's where former As It Happens host Michael Enright reached him in March 1994, as he was about to release his memoirs.


NO ONE IS INNOCENT Duration: 00:02:16
Album:GREAT ROCK 'N' ROLL SWINDLE/SEX PISTOLS
Label:VIRGIN, CDVDR2510
Persons/Roles:
RONNIE BIGGS - COMPOSER
STEVE JONES - COMPOSER
SEX PISTOLS - POP GROUP

PART TWO


CURRIED SOUL 2.0 Duration: 00:00:51
Album:CURRIED SOUL 2.0 (SINGLE)/SOCALLED
Label:CUSTOM
Persons/Roles:
MOE KOFFMAN - COMPOSER
MOE KOFFMAN - SAMPLED PERFORMER
SOCALLED - INSTRUMENTALS
SOCALLED - REMIXER

MOURANI LEAVES SOVEREIGNTY MOVEMENT Duration: 00:06:53

When Jacques Parizeau blamed the ethnic vote for defeating sovereignty, he wasn't talking about Maria Mourani.

Born in Ivory Coast, Ms. Mourani took the sovereigntists' cause as her own. She organized and raised money, making inroads with allophones, far from the movement's pur laine base. Maria Mourani became the first woman of Lebanese origin to be elected to Parliament. She won four elections for the Bloc Quebecois.

In September, though, Ms Mourani was kicked out of the BQ caucus for opposing the provincial party's charter of values.

Now she's gone a step further. She announced today that she is no longer a sovereigntist. We've reached Maria Mourani in Montreal.


TRAVELLIN' Duration: 00:00:28
Album:MATT MAYS+EL TORPEDO
Label:SONIC, Z-06234
Persons/Roles:
MATTHEW MAYS - COMPOSER
MATTHEW MAYS - WRITER
EL TORPEDO - ENS INSTR
MATTHEW MAYS - SINGING

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY FRAUD CASE Duration: 00:06:59

You almost have to give him credit for audacity. Almost.

Today in Washington, John Beale was sentenced to thirty-two months in prison for defrauding the U.S. government. The story behind his case is the stuff of Hollywood screenplays.

For more than a decade, Mr. Beale was the highest paid official at the EPA -- the Environmental Protection Agency. He collected nearly a million dollars in salary and benefits as a climate change expert. The problem is, he didn't do much work for the EPA.

Mr. Beale told his colleagues that he was a spy for the CIA. And so he would take time off work by saying he was travelling or working for the CIA. He wasn't. But it took ten years for anyone to figure that out.

Mark Kaminsky is a Special Agent with the EPA who led Mr. Beale's fraud investigation. We reached Mark Kaminsky in Washington, DC.


PEOPLE ARE STRANGE Duration: 00:00:20
Album:CLAUDE SIROIS: LES BEAUX ROCKS
Label:MERITE, 22-1096
Persons/Roles:
DOORS - COMPOSER
DOORS - WRITER
CLAUDE SIROIS - ARRANGER
CLAUDE SIROIS - GUITAR

READING: THE SLOW DESTRUCTION OF HARVEY J GREBE + MUSIC Duration: 00:07:31

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Pierre Berton was a man ahead of his time.

Mr. Berton was a well-known journalist and television personality, and he was one of Canada's most prolific historians. He wrote about the Klondike gold rush, the Dionne quintuplets, the great lakes and Canada's wartime experiences among many, many other topics. He also foreshadowed the coming of "Fifty Shades of Grey" with his erotic novel, "Masquerade", published in 1985 under the pseudonym "Lisa Kroniuk".

But that's not why I say he's a man ahead of his time. I say that because it's been nine years since Mr. Berton passed away, and the story you're about to hear captures a Canadian tradition that is also about to become history: mailing Christmas cards. And the soon-to-be former tradition of collecting those cards from the box outside your door.

Written by Pierre Berton and read by Bill Dow, this is "The Slow Destruction of Harvey J. Grebe."


DUQUESNE WHISTLE Duration: 00:00:41
Album:TEMPEST/DYLAN, BOB
Label:COLUMBIA
Persons/Roles:
BOB DYLAN - COMPOSER
ROBERT HUNTER - COMPOSER
BOB DYLAN - VOCALS

PART THREE


CLIP: NO PLACE ON EARTH Duration: 00:01:49

We've almost made it: it's almost the end of 2013. And over the next few weeks, we are going to be looking back at some of our favourite feature interviews from the nearly-past year.

Tonight, we'll begin that look back with an incredible story of survival discovered by New York spelunker, Chris Nicola. In the early 'nineties, Mr. Nicola went exploring caves in Ukraine, hoping to discover something amazing. And he did -- but not from a geological perspective.

While exploring the Gypsum cave system in the west of the country, Mr. Nicola found various household objects strewn across the cave floor. And it soon became clear that these deep dank caves had once been lived in. The question was by whom.

What he eventually learned was that the caves had been a refuge for Ukrainian Jews fleeing the Nazis during the Second World War. And those Jewish refugees had lived continuously underground longer than anyone else in history.

A documentary released earlier this year called "No Place on Earth" told the stories of the men, women and children who lived in the caves. Here's a clip:


ENCORE: NO PLACE ON EARTH Duration: 00:27:25

At the time of the film's Canadian release, we interviewed two survivors from those caves, Sam Stermer, and his niece, Sima Blitzer -- both of whom now live in Canada. But we began by interviewing the film's director, Janet Tobias.

Here is an encore presentation of all those conversations from May 30th this year.


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