Episode 143: Egypt Explodes, Len Bias and Mandatory Minimum Sentences, Sinkhole Wranglers and more

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Epicentre of Egypt's Crackdown | Penny Stock Scam | Len Bias and Mandatory Sentencing | Sinkhole Cowboys | Hyperloop Horror

egypt_dead_pub.jpg"You could smell death. It's on your clothes , it's in your nose, there's no way to escape it. It absolutely felt like it was a massacre. There was no other way to describe it."

-Tara Todras-Whitehill

That's from the Day 6 Instant Oral History, an eyewitness account of the carnage in Cairo on Wednesday, a day of historic violence and a brutal turn for the fledgling democracy.

After tense weeks of warnings and resistance, Egypt's security forces fired on protesters outside the Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque, killing hundreds of supporters of ousted President Morsi. On the ground, inside the massive demonstration, reporters watched the bloody events unfold.

We talked to them.

The Day 6 Instant Oral History features six journalists who witnessed the violence and the aftermath.

winick_pub.jpgPenny Stock Scam

Penny stock fraud artists were indicted this week in a scam that allegedly netted over $140 million dollars.

Police say Canadians directed the fraud. Two of them, including alleged mastermind Sandy Winick, are still on the run.

There's widespread illegal manipulation of penny stocks. Authorities usually target bigger players. Penny stock scammers are small fish, but they're making big profits, and they've got lots of inside knowledge to help them appear legit and cover their tracks.
 
How do they get investors to lay down cash for worthless companies? Lawyer Hartley Bernstein says they're smart. We get the inside dope from  Hartley who created a stock scam watchdog website called Stock Patrol.

bias_pub.jpgLen Bias and Mandatory Sentencing

This week U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the federal government would quit invoking mandatory minimum sentencing laws for some drug offenses. Those laws were drafted in the 1980s in a highly politicized environment just before an election.

There was another precipitating factor: the tragic drug death of a basketball superstar. Len Bias was a 22 year old All American forward who was the second overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft. But he never played a game. Bias died of cardiac arrhythmia caused by cocaine two days after he was drafted for the Celtics.

Instantly, Bias death became the main catalyst for the mandatory minimum laws.

Eric Sterling served as legal counsel to the U.S. House Committee at the time. He helped craft the laws and he says lawmakers screwed up. He joins us to tell us more.

spam_pub.jpgMars Menu

Former Canadian soldier Simon Engler came back from Mars on Tuesday.

Simon was locked in a Mars-like environment for four months to study best practices for managing food and nutrition over the duration of a Mars expedition.

Simon talked to Day 6 just before he entered the simulated quarantine. But now we wanted to find out what funky things he's been eating from the finite supply of shelf-hardy food-like products astronauts will shlep to Mars.

Simon reveals his menu secrets and his new found taste for canned Spam.

sinkhole_pub.jpgSinkhole Cowboys

Last weekend vacation condos near Disney World tipped into a sinkhole.

Florida, once again with no warning, opened up and swallowed part of a structure, leaving Earth-dwelling creatures to mull the dark possibility of a hungry, vengeful planet.

Sinkholes are like that.

And they seem to be yawning open more frequently in places like Montreal, Calgary and yes, especially Florida where special crews and technologies are at the ready to stitch them up and stabilize the rebel Earth.

We meet a company full of sinkhole supermen.

hyperloop_pub.jpgHyperloop Horror

Here's a bold vision for transit in the 21st century: the pneumatic mag-lev tubular high-tech Hyperloop, a fantastical train of the future.

Billionaire Elon Musk says he can get it built for $6 billion and it would shunt passengers from L.A. to San Francisco in less time than it takes to watch an episode of Breaking Bad.

Haters said the Hyperloop will never work. Tech heads accuse them of being afraid to dream.

But Day 6 contributors Simon Pond and Aaron Hagey-Mackay are on board.

And that's it for this week. many thanks to James Murray, Kevin Sylvester and Rachel Giese for holding down the fort while I was off. Glad to be back and we'll see you again in seven.

Brent Bambury, @CBCDay6

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