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Maritime women's groups alarmed by pattern of federal funding cuts / CB musician Gordie Sampson's view of disastrous Nashville floods / Phone-in: Laura Penny, author of "More Money Than Brains". Question: Is society getting smarter or more stupid?

Shut Up Or Speak Up ? It's been a long while since access to abortion was a central issue in Canadian political discourse. But it's resurfaced, thanks to the federal government's refusal to include funding for any part of the G8's maternal health plan for developing countries that would include abortion. Women's groups have criticised the Conservative government for trying to reopen the debate in Canada through this foreign policy stance.

Earlier this week, Tory Senator Nancy Ruth urged women's groups to "Shut the f--- up" about the issue, or risk a backlash from the government.

Some people suggest that Ottawa is already trying to intimidate women's groups. Fourteen Maritime organizations have been refused funding in the last two weeks. Johanne Perron is the executive director of one of those groups - the New Brunswick Coalition for Pay Equity. Lucille Harper is executive director of the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre and Sexual Assault Services Association.


"How High's The Water, Mama ?" That Johnny Cash lyric was on many minds in the southeastern US this week. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has overshadowed another disaster in the region. Extreme rainfall last weekend led to sudden, widepread floods, which, so far, have claimed 28 lives in three states.Nine of those deaths occurred in Nashville - capital of the country music industry.

Some well-known Maritime artists have gravitated to the city over the years because of the songwriting, recording and performance opportunities. One is Cape Breton's Gordie Sampson - winner of many East Coast Music Awards and a Grammy. We reached him at his home in Nashville.


If You're So Smart...: Laura Penny has a doctorate in Comparative Literature.

How do you feel about her so far ?

For many, that meagre information would be enough to trigger a reflex : clearly, she's a pointy-headed academic who's never had to meet a payroll and couldn't cut it in the real world.

What's confusing for Dr Penny, though, is that many of the same people with that reflex would also be eager for their children to attend universities such as the one where she teaches - Mount St Vincent. She's the author of "More Money Than Brains : Why School Sucks, College Is Crap & Idiots Think They're Right". It's an exploration of today's society - what we seem to regard as worthy of our attention and worthy of scorn; why so much of politics and media coverage play to feelings rather than to reason, and how the balance between culture and commerce go so out of whack.

She was our guest as we asked : Is society getting smarter or more stupid ?

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