Monday December 04, 2017

December 1, 2017 episode transcript

Note: Transcripts may contain errors. If you wish to re-use all, or part of, a transcript, please contact CBC for permission. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print. Copyright © CBC 2017

The AIH Transcript for December 01, 2017

Hosts: and Jeff Douglas



CAROL OFF: Hello, I'm Carol Off.

JEFF DOUGLAS: Good evening, I'm Jeff Douglas. This is As It Happens.

[Music: Theme]

JD: Tonight

CO: The Flynn edge of the wedge. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn pleads guilty to lying to the FBI, which means he's cooperating with Robert Mueller's investigation. Which may mean trouble for the rest of the president's team.

JD: The law of the land. A federal tribunal rules that Edmundston, New Brunswick actually belongs to a local First Nation. And while the chief does not want that land back, she does want some recognition.

CO: Fighting words. When journalists in New Zealand start using the indigenous Maori language in their broadcasts, some express discomfort. But the broadcaster who started that trend says they're talking nonsense.

JD: Going against the migraine. For scientists, trying to stop the severe headaches once they've started has proven a headache. But a promising new treatment works by pre-emptively preventing the pain.

CO: Bewitched and bothered by the bewhiskered. After hearing about a planned monument to Felicette, the first cat in space, a grade five class in Yukon sets out to ensure an animal that would have ignored them is no longer ignored.

JD: And… once bitten, nice guy. An Ontario man is in grave danger after a rare cobra sinks its fangs into his hand. But is saved by a man who is armed against the teeth: the reptile curator at the Toronto Zoo.

JD: As It Happens the Friday edition. Radio that avoids the lowest uncommon venomanater?

[Music: Theme]

Back To Top »

Part 1: Michael Flynn, Maori broadcast, cobra bite

Michael Flynn

Guest: Mark Osler

JD: Just four days after US President Donald Trump was sworn into office, the FBI interviewed his national security advisor, retired General Michael Flynn. Today — 311 days later — Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in that interview, at a federal court in Washington. And in doing so, he acknowledged his cooperation with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election. White House lawyer Ty Cobb says, quote, "Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn." Unqoute. But Mr. Flynn was part of the President's inner circle, both during the campaign and in the days that followed his inauguration. Which leads law professor and former federal prosecutor Mark Osler to believe he could have a whole whack of information. We reached Mark Osler in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

CO: Professor Osler, what does today's guilty plea by Michael Flynn… what does it signal to you?

MARK OSLER: What I see when I look at this, combined with some of the things that have already happened, is a critical mass of information that's now in the hands of the special counsel Robert Mueller. Flynn is a crucial person within the administration who's going to be able to explain a lot of what happened.

CO: And what is it that he's going to explain? What is it that Mr. Muller, the special counsel, thinks he can get from Michael Flynn that's useful to him?

MO: Well, we know from the documents that were released today one of them was you know a statement of the offense, which reflects what Flynn did that got him charged in this way. And it reveals that he was directed by people high up in the administration to have a conversation with the Russian ambassador. And this goes to the heart of what Mueller has been charged with investigating, which is those contacts with Russians.

CO: What is he… what has Mr. Flynn pled guilty to?

MO: Yeah, it's actually two different events. One of them is that he had a conversation with the Russian ambassador that involved Russia's response to sanctions that the Obama administration imposed, and he lied about that conversation. And then later there was a conversation about United Nations sanctions that were raised by Egypt, and he had a conversation with the Russian ambassador about that as well and didn't tell the truth when he was interviewed by the FBI.

CO: Now, over these months we have heard about all kinds of things that Mr. Flynn could be charged with. So what has he not been charged with?

MO: There's a number of things, one of which it's interesting the statement of the offense includes not only the admission of the things he was charged with but something he wasn't charged with, which was making false statements regarding contacts with foreign governments specifically in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. So that's one thing. And beyond that, we know that there are a number of financial dealings that probably were part of the investigation that the government may be willing to forgo if Mr. Flynn completes his obligations under this agreement.

CO: And this is what he's agreed to do. I mean this is a very detailed agreement that he has signed — this plea agreement — and the charges as you point out there could have been so many more and much larger ones. So how important do you think Mr. Flynn is to Mr. Mueller's investigation?

MO: I think he is extremely important. And I'm sure that the Trump lawyers and the people within the White House are very concerned at this development. He's important because he had a position within the transition, within the campaign, and within the early days of the administration. So he saw three different phases in which the development of relationships with the Russians were really crucial important and at the center of the Muller investigation. He's going to be able to — and probably already has — told the investigators who was where. And he has an understanding of the structure of the White House at that time in the campaign and of the campaign and the transition that few other people would have.

CO: Because we've seen there's been, of course, other indictments and this is the first time somebody inside the administration has faced charges and been involved legally. The other ones were involved with the actual campaign of Mr. Trump. This is now somebody inside the administration.

MO: Right, and that's really significant. I mean the George Papadopoulos plea was significant, but Papadopoulos was much lower level, and he didn't cover as much time as Flint did.

CO: To what end do you think Mr. Miller… he's obviously building a narrative as they say, and that this is now key information to be added to that narrative. But to what end? What's the climax of this story of this narrative?

MO: Well, I think right now what is happening is that he's mapping out the full story of what happened. And that includes a number of other actors. And what's going to happen next is that we will see people who are going to be charged who did not flip, who are not cooperating with the special counsel, and they are going to be facing much more serious consequences. I think the crucial people in terms of significant changes will be when members of Mr. Trump's family are charged. Any reasonable person looking at this from the outside would say that given that we already know that some of the members of the family had contact with Russians that it's got to be part of what they're talking about.

CO: I believe we’re talking about Mr. Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner is that right?

MO: Correct, yeah. And the thing is you know there's nothing illegal about talking to Russians. You know we know right now that there were conversations. What Mr. Flynn and others can provide information about potentially is the nature of those conversations and the background to them. And that is something that is going to change the political dynamic I believe because we'll see a president who is going to be deeply concerned when those closest to him are charged or are facing the prospect of being charged. You know there's a lot that we can't know. It's like watching a trawler go over the sea that most of the action is under the line of sight. But at the same time, we can see the size of the trawler, and that's pretty big at this point.

CO: But there are charges — there are indications — in this plea agreement that that Mr. Flynn could face other charges are they not?

MO: Absolutely, yes.

CO: And do you think it's possible those charges will be laid?

MO: Not if Mr. Flynn fulfills his duties under the plea agreement that he's already signed. And those are significant duties. He’s going to have to potentially testify against other people in public in court. That's something that may well be difficult for someone who values loyalty the way he seems to.

CO: Who are you watching to see possibly indicted next?

MO: In terms of pleading out and cooperating with the special counsel, I'm looking at some of the people around Flynn — the people who worked with him. I think there'll be a real threshold crossed when we get to the point where Donald Trump's family members who are actually charged.

CO: And that they would be looking to have an agreement that would help them not have to face other consequences is that the case?

MO: I would think so. And you know it could be two that they choose not to cooperate. And that they would be charged and it would proceed without a cooperation agreement, and they would be facing potentially very serious prison sentences.

CO: And these are both men who have young families.

MO: That's correct. And that, of course, provides you know a strong incentive the other way. There's two loyalties here, and that's something that often comes up in this case.

CO: Do you think that there's a time in the future when we see Mr. Trump charged with anything?

MO: Well, the more likely outcome of the special counsel's investigation is that there be a referral to Congress for possible impeachment proceedings. And I think that's a possibility. It's hard to see how possible it is at this point, given that the smaller investigation has been pretty free of leaks.

CO: We will be watching. Professor Osler, I appreciate speaking with you. Thank you.

MO: My pleasure. Thank you.

JD: Mark Osler is a former federal prosecutor and a professor of law at the University of St. Thomas. We reached him in Minneapolis. And we do have more on this story on our website:

[Music: Ambient]

Maori broadcasts

Guest: Kanoa Lloyd

JD: These days if you turn on Radio New Zealand, you'll hear the news in English. But you'll also catch some snippets of the Maori language. It's a growing trend for broadcasters in New Zealand to throw in some words or phrases in the language. And some listeners are finding themselves lost without translation. Journalists have received hundreds of complaints from people who say they feel excluded by the unfamiliar language. Kanoa Lloyd is Maori, and a host at the New Zealand broadcaster Newshub. We reached Ms. Lloyd in Auckland.

CO: Kanoa, for our listeners who may never have heard Maori language, can you give us examples of words and phrases you've been using in your broadcasts?

KANOA LLOYD: Sure. I mean I would start by saying [speaking: Maori], which means many greetings to you all. I could say [speaking: Maori], which means you are listening to the radio. And I would say [speaking: Maori], which is a much more informal way of saying hi.

CO: And then you would start your weather reports after that, and finish them with some more Maori is that right?

KL: Yeah, so when I was working in the weather, I would talk about our country — about New Zealand — as [speaking: Maori], that's the Maori name for the country. Yeah, I’d also cuck in the names of the cities just to mix it up because I felt that by standing in front of a map where you could see exactly what I was talking about there was nothing particularly challenging about that. In one way it was a way to reach out to people who understood that and say hey look, I share this with you. And in another way, it was like here's a learning opportunity if you would like it. So yeah, that's something that I started doing a couple of years ago, and almost immediately, started getting very, very hateful feedback from people that found that too challenging — they didn't like it.

CO: You've had apparently hundreds of complaints, and some half dozen or so a day to outlets of people who are upset with you using the Maori words. So why are people so upset about it?

KL: I think that when people don't understand something, their first reaction is fear. And I can totally relate to that fear. I'm not a fluent Maori speaker. I'm still practicing my use of Maori. And I can totally relate to that feeling when your stomach falls into the bottom of your knees, and you think oh no, am I going to get this right? But for some people that stops that fear. And instead of taking that and going OK, how can I do this better? It turns into anger and it turns into a real spikes. Yeah, it turns into saying don't speak anything other than English; nobody knows what you're talking about. They this is gibberish. They say stick to your own channels because I'm working in the public space. Yeah, they say stick to your own channels; you've got your own Maori TV, and you’ve got your own radio. So it turns from just being about the language to almost saying to me I don't want to see you in my English speaking world.

CO: Well, in case anyone doubts what you're saying, we want to play a clip of an interview this week with a man named Don Brash, who as I understand, a former leader of the Conservative National Party in New Zealand. And here is what he had to say about the use of Maori words in Radio New Zealand broadcasts.


DON BRASH: Let's face it; media are there to communicate news. When [incomprehensible] begins with a lengthy speech in Maori — several sentences — there wouldn't be three per cent of the country who actually understand. You’re just utterly bamboozled.

ANCHOR: Maybe if you sort of made an attempt to find out what they are talking about…

DB: Why should I? Why should I? I don't want to be forced to listen to talk at some length without any explanation at all of what he’s saying. Significant sentences in Maori with no explanation what it means. I think is irritating.

CO: OK, that was former National Party leader Don Brash. How do you respond to what he had to say?

KL: I have to go to a place where I say I feel sorry for him. I think that viewpoint is you know he needs to join up with the Flat Earth Society and go and hang out with the few remaining climate change deniers in the world. I think it's a really outdated way of thinking. And we have this concept and Maoridom, and I know that it is shared by many Indigenous cultures all around the world, where you have a family connection with people, and you respect your elders. And Don Brash is in many ways an elder of this New Zealand community. And he's very smart when it comes to things like economics. He has the capacity to understand the value of this language, but he just chooses not to. He's put the stake in the ground and he's sticking to it.

CO: As a Maori broadcaster, how much racism do you encounter?

KL: I would say that that negative feedback is in the minority. But for whatever reason, I don't know if it's the human condition or what it is, it's those negative things that really stick in your head that you come home at the end of the day when you take your shoes off, and those are the ones that are flying around and around. But what has happened this week here in New Zealand is this story has sort of flared up again. And what I've experienced throughout my broadcast career is that when you say I don't think that this is right. I don't feel comfortable with this racism or this anger that I'm experiencing. When you as a broadcaster put that into the world it is absolutely incredible the number of people that come forward to say you're right; I support you, I feel the same way.

CO: Now as I listen to you talk, I realise that I'm not even pronouncing the word Maori correctly. So I don't know how well this is going to go? But just to end this interview, how does one say goodbye in Maori?

KL: You can say [speaking: Maori], that means I will see you again.

CO: [speaking: Maori].

KL: Perfect!

CO: I don't think so. But I guess it’s close enough. Anyway [speaking: Maori]. And thank you so much for speaking with us.

KL [speaking: Maori].

CO: Thank you. Bye Kanoa.

KL Bye. Thank you so much.

JD: Kanoa Lloyd is a host at the New Zealand broadcaster Newshub. We reached her in Tāmaki, Aotearoa... or better known to English speakers as Auckland, New Zealand. And we have more on that story on our website:

[Music: Indie rock]

Cobra bite

Guest: Andrew Lentini

JD: An Ontario man can thank his lucky stars tonight. And he may want to save some thanks for Andrew Lentini as well. Mr. Lentini is the Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles at the Toronto Zoo. And yesterday, he was headed home from a soccer match when he got a call. A man had been bitten by a little something called a monocled cobra. His doctors didn't have the anti-venom for the rare snake, but they thought maybe the zoo could help. We reached Andrew Lentini in Scarborough, Ontario.

CO: Mr. Lentini, can you just walk us through what happens to someone who has been bitten by a monocled cobra?

ANDREW LENTINI: Yeah, well the venom from these animals is primarily a neurotoxic venom, which means it works on the nervous system. So a bite from one of these animals was followed by likely some intense pain at the site of the bite. You would over the next few minutes or hours, start to see some discoloration, some local tissue damage, and some swelling. But the really severe effects of it are on the nervous system. And those can appear in a severe bite after just a few minutes. And those effects are, basically, a paralysis. So the first signs that we look for in a patient would be facial paralysis. So we’ll see droopy eyelids, irregular eye movements because they're losing control of the muscles, difficulty speaking or slurred speech.

CO: And as you're going through these consequences of being bitten, I mean it, ultimately, leads to the big one like death, right?

AL: Yes it does. So the nervous system effects do lead to this paralysis, and it will become widespread and, it will affect all of the muscles, including those that help you breathe. In which case you would experience respiratory failure and that would lead to death.

CO: So very time sensitive. When you got the call about this man who had been bitten, what kind of shape was he in?

AL: I got the call just after 10:00, and got to the hospital within about an hour of that. And when I met him he was definitely showing signs of neurological effects of the venom. So his eyelids were definitely droopy, his eyes couldn't focus on an object, so he was definitely suffering from the envenomation and it was progressing.

CO: How did you know even what he'd been bitten by? What the reptile that had actually caused this was?

AL: I guess, fortunately, this young man had been working with reptiles for a number of years, and he was adamant that it was monocled cobra. And that was incredibly helpful. Dr David Rose at the hospital confirmed that's what this young man had said. And we worked together to go through what a treatment protocol would involve for him. And, fortunately, it worked out.

CO: Now, did you learn as to how he came to be bitten by a cobra?

AL: Well, the only thing I know is what he told us. And that was that he was assisting a friend in unloading or unpacking reptiles from a shipment that this friend had received, and he somehow was bit.

CO: Are these legal to have in the country?

AL: They’re not legal in most municipalities. There is no coordinated regulatory framework that governs the ownership of exotic species, including venomous snakes. So within the city of Toronto, it's certainly illegal. The City of Toronto — and most of the surrounding municipalities — they all have similar by laws that prohibit the ownership of dangerous animals. However in some other municipalities, there may be no laws whatsoever that govern this. And that is a real problem. I think the lack of regulation — the lack of legislation — provincially or even federally really sets things up for this type of activity, which is quite dangerous. Not just to the individuals and community members, but also to the animals. I mean these animals typically don't do well. They're often smuggled into the country, very poorly shipped and packed, and high mortalities: 50, 60, 80 per cent mortalities are not uncommon in shipments of wildlife.

CO: What did you do for the man?

AL: Well, when I got the call from our safety and security staff here at the zoo, Dr. Kim Lewis was very helpful, provided details on the man's condition and the circumstances of the bite, and gave him the contact information for the Scarborough hospital. We quickly came to the conclusion that anti-venom was going to be required to save this guy, so that I coordinated with our safety security staff again here at the zoo. The officer on duty arranged transport of our anti-venom by police to the hospital. Actually, I was on my way back from the TFC game downtown, and I just got dropped off at home, got my car, and met them at the hospital. And Dr. David Rose was in charge of the patient. And we discussed what the options were, which anti-venom was appropriate, how it should be administered, started the anti-venom treatment, and I was there for a good part of the night. But when I saw him about five hours after the initial anti-venom, he was much improved.

CO: And so you had enough anti-venom to treat this man then?

AL: Yes, we did. We have a supply here to safeguard our own staff. And so we made that available. Within Canada, we may very well be the only accredited zoo that has anti-venom. But we are able to access additional anti-venoms on an emergency basis from other accredited zoos. And we've done that too. We've had to bring in anti-venoms from the Bronx Zoo to fly it up here to treat a person up in Barrie a few years ago that was bitten by a viper. So Toronto Zoo plays an important part in these types of incidents. Fortunately, they're not that common. We've probably had to deal with maybe six or seven of these incidents in the last eight-ten years.

CO: And the scale of the kind of dangerousness of a snake like this — a monocled cobra — where would you rank it as far as its ability to do serious damage?

AL: On a scale of one to ten, I'd probably put it up a good, solid nine. The venom from these animals is quite toxic. A serious bite with a full of dose of venom from a snake like this could put you in a life threatening situation in you know 40 minutes to an hour.

CO: Yikes! Mr. Lentini, I appreciate speaking with you. Thank you.

AL: You're very welcome.

JD: Andrew Lentini is the Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles at the Toronto Zoo. We reached him in Scarborough, Ontario.

[Music: Spanish guitar]

Dateline: Faraday cage

JD: Dateline: Perth, Australia.

[Music: Dateline theme]

JD: "I am no poet, but if you think for yourselves, as I proceed, the facts will form a poem in your minds" - Michael Faraday. "Life's pretty straight without Twisties!" - slogan for an Australian snack product which comes in "chicken" and "cheese" flavours. We don't usually start our stories with an epigraph, let alone two. But do keep those quotations in mind as I continue. I bring up the brilliant 19th-century British scientist Michael Faraday because he was the inventor of — among other things — the "Faraday cage", a shield that blocks electromagnetic fields. And I bring up Twisties because a Twisties bag, with its foil interior, can apparently be turned into a Faraday cage. I know what you're saying. You're saying, “Wait, what?" And that was exactly what an Australian company said when it got an anonymous letter about one of its employees: a 60-year-old electrician by the name of Tom Colella. The letter claimed that, more than 140 times over a two-year period, Mr. Colella had been playing golf when he was supposed to be working. But how? He had always been carrying his company-issued mobile device with a GPS tracker in it! Well, give Mr. Colella credit for covering his tracks as cheaply as possible: he stuck that device in an empty Twisties bag. And that greasy makeshift Faraday cage blocked the GPS signals. No one could tell where he was, which was at the golf course. Unfortunately, Tom Colella was fired. Hilariously, he appealed that dismissal to Australia's Fair Work Commission; obviously, they determined he'd been fired for good cause. Regarding his mobile-device-in-the-Twisties bag scheme, a commissioner dryly concluded, quote, "Mr. Colella appears to have been deliberately mischievous in acting in this manner." So see? Life really would have been pretty straight without Twisties. And the facts did form a kind of poem in our minds — before poetic justice kicked in for a guy who obviously thought he had it in the bag.

Back To Top »

Part 2: New Brunswick land claim, space cat

New Brunswick land claim

Guest: Patricia Bernard

JD: A federal tribunal has ruled that part of Northwestern New Brunswick should actually belong to a local First Nation. The Madawaska Maliseet First Nations have long argued that their territory was much bigger than their 280-hectare reserve. And now, the Specific Claims tribunal has agreed — saying it should be some 1500 hectares, which is about 37-hundred acres, and that includes much of the city of Edmundston, New Brunswick. Patricia Bernard is the chief of the Madawaska First Nation. She's also the lawyer who argued the land-claims case. And we reached her on the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation, in New Brunswick.

CO: Chief Bernard, how does it feel to finally have this tribunal validate your claim to the land?

PATRICIA BERNARD: Well, the feeling was definitely a great one. For the community, it was a huge victory. And everyone has been celebrating over the last day or so.

CO: You're the chief, but you're also the lawyer who argued the case. And you have been fighting this since you were a student, is that right?

PB: That's correct. I am the chief, and I've been the chief since 2013. When I was a student at the University of New Brunswick, I did an independent research study on my community. So I spent some days at the provincial archives and came across quite a few documents that that raised my eyebrows with respect to the size of the reserve. So putting together a report that was the initial start of the land claim, and that was back in 1996.

CO: And what did you discover? When you started to dig around, what did you learn about what land was entitled to be part of the Madawaska Maliseet First Nation?

PB: Well, I grew up on the reserve. So I always knew the boundaries of the current reserve as it is today. And as I was doing my research, and I came across a lot of maps and surveys, and what I noticed was that they were various different sizes over a period of time. At one point, there's a map that shows the reserve as approximately 1,600 acres — another time, almost 4,000 acres. So I wanted to determine why the change in the size of the reserve over time? And digging into my research, never did I come across any sort of consent by the First Nation people. In fact, what I did come across was a lot of objection to the fact that the reserve lands kept diminishing over time.

CO: Your First Nations land will now encompass — and always has encompassed — almost the entire city of Edmundston, New Brunswick. Do you want it back?

PB: Well, I mean ideally it would be nice to have it back, but that's just not really practical or logical at this point. The city is residing there, and this is not something that that we can get back because there are several thousand people living in the city. Part of the area is also into the United States. It crosses the international boundary into the Maine. Madawaska Maine actually is encompassed within that original survey area. So realistically, we don't want that particular land back. We do appreciate the fact that this has been recognised. And what we do expect is some compensation for loss of that land.

CO: So financial compensation?

PB: Absolutely, and the tribunal doesn't have any authority to return land. They do have authority to award monetary compensation. They do have a cap of $150 million.

CO: And so now how is that negotiated what compensation you'll get?

PB: Well, what we’ll likely do is do some research into some historical land appraisals and what the land is valued at and moving that forward in time. And that's something that we would hopefully negotiate with Canada.

CO: Have you had pushback from the descendants of settlers who took the land?

PB: No, not necessarily any pushback because there there's no fear of the land being taken back. The mayor of the city of Edmundston has been amazing in helping to educate the citizens of New Brunswick that this will not affect them. This is something for the city to be proud and happy of: that they’re neighbours because we are neighbours, and we get along quite well. And that it's just really a matter of educating people as to the history of what happened and the wrongdoing, and how this is really just righting a wrong that has occurred over hundreds of years. So there hasn't been a lot of backlash. There’s just been a little bit of misunderstanding about what the actual decision means for the citizens of Edmundston. But in anything, it's only going to benefit the city.

CO: What kind of misunderstanding?

PB: Well, they were thinking does this now mean that we're living on a reserve? Does this mean our taxes are going to increase? Is the city going to have to pay for this? So a lot of that misinformation is being explained — a lot of it on social media, basically, to say that the city is not the one that's going to be held accountable to compensate the First Nation. This is the federal government's responsibility.

CO: And so that's going on? The mayor and others are letting people know what to expect?

PB: Exactly, yes.

CO: Beyond the financial compensation, which you'll negotiate. Do you want any kind of non-monetary recognition?

PB: Well, I think that would be a fantastic gesture. And this is something that I could discuss and negotiate with the mayor about having some sort of monument — some sort of educational tool — so that not only does the City of Edmonton and their citizens, but everyone in New Brunswick and across Canada to understand the hardships that have occurred and the and the indignities that have occurred to the First Nations when it came to land and the dispossession of this land.

CO: We will be watching. I appreciate speaking with you, Chief Bernard.

PB: Thank you very much.

JD: Patricia Bernard is chief of The Madawaska Maliseet First Nation. And that is where we reached her.

[Music: East coast folk]

Landmines treaty

JD: Long after a war has ended, landmines can continue to kill and to injure. It's one of the reasons why anti-personnel landmines — which were once widely-used weapons of war — are now nearly extinct. And another reason for that shift is a global agreement called the Ottawa Treaty. And the Ottawa Treaty bans the use, the storage, production, and transfer of landmines around the world. And this Sunday, December 3rd, will mark 20 years since the signing of the Ottawa Treaty. Jody Williams was one of the key figures in making the treaty a reality. She won the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for that work. Here is Ms. Williams speaking at the signing in Ottawa, twenty years ago.


JODY WILLIAMS: I've done an awful lot of interviews in the last few weeks, and I'm always asked if we expected this? Certainly not, who would have expected that within such a short time. The governments of the world would have responded to a band of NGOs calling for a ban on a weapon in widespread use. A weapon that most military don't think about as different from all the other weapons they use. It’s just another one in the arsenal. It wasn't until the voice of civil society was raised to such a high degree that governments began to listen. It is a privilege to stand here today and see so many faces of friends, who didn't some of them started out as friends. But without these early steps, without the leadership shown by a few, in the beginning, the Belgian government, which I see sitting here, who friends, who were the first government to unilaterally ban the weapon. The French government, which called upon the international community to review the one convention that tried to control the weapon that gave us the platform to push and holler and shove. And make the governments begin to say the scary words: we need to ban the weapon. Had governments not begun to say the scary words: we need to ban the weapon, it would not have happened. I remember a year ago after the challenge, when we were all exhausted, and a handful of us went to dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant with one of my personal heroes: Bob Lawson of the Canadian government. We went to dinner with Bob, and we did a little betting, wondering how many governments would actually sign this treaty in a year? Because the foreign minister has said we'll sign if it's even a handful. We certainly didn't want to see a handful, but I thought maybe 36. I mean the highest number was maybe 75. And here we have 125 governments recognising that the tide of history has changed. Recognising that together, we are a superpower, it's a new definition of superpower. It is not one; it is everybody. You are all part of being a superpower. The post-cold war world is different. We have made it different. And we should be proud. We are a superpower.

JD: Jody Williams, the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, speaking at the signing of the Ottawa Treaty to ban the use of anti-personnel landmines worldwide. 20 years later, 162 countries have signed this agreement. Among the countries that have refused to sign: Russia, China India, and the U.S.

[Music: Country rock]

Space cat

Guest: Emily Macht

JD: Two weeks ago, we told you the little-known story of the first and only cat to go to space: Felicette, who also went by the name "Astrocat", although she likely responded to neither. Felicette was blasted 200 kilometres above earth for a French space mission in 1963. She returned to Earth after 13 minutes. And then, sadly, that heroic cat was euthanized, so scientists could study her brain. Unlike the chimpanzees and dogs that went to space, Felicette has no memorial. That bothered Matthew Serge Guy. So he decided to start a crowdfunding campaign to build a statue of the noble cat in Paris. After hearing that interview, Emily Macht was inspired. Ms. Macht is a Grade Five teacher at Christ the King Elementary School in Whitehorse. She sent us an email that read, in part, "Rockets! Cats! Astronaut cats! Astronaut cats in peril!" We reached Ms. Macht in Whitehorse.

CO: Emily, where were you when you heard the story of Felicette the cat?

EMILY MACHT: Well, I was driving home on a cold Whitehorse evening after work one day.

CO: And what did you think of the story?

EM: Well, I mean it was great. It has a cat astronaut in it, so who wouldn't love it? And, of course, I thought about my class of 25 grade five students. And this story really got me thinking about how I could use that in my teaching?

CO: What did you tell them about Felicette? What was the story you told your students?

EM: Oh, well we actually just went to the Kickstarter page that Matthew Guy had created. And there is a great video on that page. And that video tells a story of how in the ‘60s, the French scientists who were involved in the space program there sent a cat to space in order to research the effects that going to space and coming back down has on a living organism. No one had really heard about this cat who went to space, even though the monkeys who went to space and the dogs went to space are quite well-known, and so Mathew's Kickstarter program was designed to raise awareness and raise funds to make a commemorative statue for Felicette.

CO: These are grade five students, right? Ten-years-old mostly?

EM: Yeah. Yeah.

CO: How did they respond to the story of Felicette?

EM: Well, of course, like kids at this age are really drawn to stories that involve animals, first of all. And kids this age are also really drawn to notions of fairness and unfairness. So they, first of all, were interested in the idea that this was a cat that no one knew the sacrifice that Felicette did. So they wanted to champion her cause and have spread the word as it were.

CO: And clearly for you a teachable moment. What did you teach them about Felicette and what it tells them about their world?

EM: Well, it was also a way to have them start asking questions and thinking about wider issues, first of all. And the first thing that they actually pointed out in our philosophical discussion was that animals who are involved in testing, and Felicette herself involved in this research, they don't get to choose for themselves if they do that or not. So they were starting to question the ethics around that. And then we connected it back to the benefits that humans have experienced because of the testing that we have done on animals. And you can kind of see as the conversation went on that some of that didn't really sit that well with them when they actually started thinking about what had to be done to some animals in order for us to experience various benefits.

CO: You told the students that after Felicette went to space that she was killed and dissected?

EM: Yes, they were very sad. They have a really strong sense of justice, and they felt that that was unjust.

CO: And so this lesson in justice, and in philosophy, and ethics turned into an art class. Can you describe how that happened?

EM: Yeah, so we started the design process, and so we were building criteria of what makes a good commemorative statue? And then, using modeling clay, they started developing some ideas and creating some prototypes, and then used different strategies to improve their designs. They have such great ideas, like some of them have Felicette with a little beret, beside her rocket. Another one has Felictte with a cape on, on top of a rocket. A number of them as well have chosen or have included like a plaque in their design, to make sure that the information about why the statue would be there is included as well.

CO: I’m looking at the one with the French beret, and the cat standing on top of a rocketship that’s taking off, which is wonderful. But the students know I mean our original interview with Matthew Serge Guy, it was clear that Felicette had no choice in this. And that, in fact, one cat had already run away before being sent to space. Some of the others had gained too much weight to go. And so the poor, unfortunate Felicette didn’t volunteer.

EM: Actually, one of the interesting ideas that my students had was that he wanted to depict Felicette holding a rocket up, and having people in the rocket. And he said that that would represent how Felicette supported humans in their endeavor to go to space. And I thought that was a pretty advanced artistic depiction of that big idea for a 10-year-old.

CO: Lovely! And have you heard anything from Matthew? You contacted him about your art project.

EM: Yeah, I have. And he was great. He got back to me right away. And I had told him I would share some photos of students work with him. And he loved that idea, and he said that he would be happy to share them in a public project update. So that is great to hear. And it's great like for students to be able to see their work reach outside of the walls of the classroom is so exciting and really motivating for them. So that is really awesome. Just to get the feedback from him, from you guys, is worth talking about.

CO: Thank you, Emily.

EM: Great! Thank you so much.

CO: Bye bye.

EM: Bye.

JD: Emily Macht is a Grade Five teacher at Christ the King Elementary School in Whitehorse, Yukon. And if you would like to see more on this story, including some photos of the students' statues, got to our website:

[Music: Indie]

Dateline: Belgian artist

JD: Dateline: Ostend, Belgium

[Music: Dateline theme]

JD: The phrase "de profundis" means literally "from the depths", as in, the depths of misery or despair. It's the opening phrase of Psalm 130, so not necessarily something you want to use lightly. Although evidently it's something at least one artist decided to use heavily. The most recent work by artist Mikes Poppe was about as heavy as it gets, certainly in terms of actual weight — and, if you're feeling ungenerous, in terms of handedness. For an installation-slash-performance piece entitled "De Profundis", Mr. Poppe chained himself to a four-tonne block of marble, in a courthouse in Ostend. That was the installation part. The performance part involved his taking a hammer and chisel to the marble block in an attempt to free himself. The meaning of this work was clear, because he told us. Mr. Poppe "The block was symbolic of history, the history of art, which I am trying to free myself from." And for 19 days, without speaking, he attempted to smash his way down into that marble block to reach that chain that bound him. But it turns out he was bound to fail.


[Sound: A stone-cutter and clapping]

JD: That was the sound from the Ostend, Belgium courthouse last night. After 19 days — and a few deadline extensions — the curator of the exhibition decided the art had been adequately seen, but not adequately sawed. And so someone showed up with a power tool, and freed Mr. Poppe from his chains. It may have been slightly embarrassing, but symbolically it was a huge success. In terms of freeing himself from the history of art, he said, quote, "I discovered that this is not possible. It is a burden which I must always carry." And so "De Profundis" ended a little anticlimactically. Now, it's up to you to decide whether Mikes Poppe knew what he was doing, but there's no arguing that he's definitely out of his depths.

Back To Top »

Part 3: Migraine stud, China unpublished book

Governor-General’s reading

JD: Hiro Kanagawa say theatre is powered by subtext. And the subtext of his award-winning play is all about the relationship between Canada's Indigenous peoples, and what he calls its "dominant culture". The play is called "Indian Arm". It tells the story of Rita and Alfred Allmers, and their adopted Indigenous son, Wolfie. And it's the winner of this year's Governor-General's Literary Award for Drama. Yesterday, Hiro Kanagawa took part in a public reading and a discussion, celebrating his work and the other 2017 English-language winners. He talked about the subtext of his play, which, essentially, is about "whiteness". And that, Mr. Kanagawa says, goes well beyond white people and non-white people.


HIRO KANAGAWA: It seems to me any discussion of reconciliation has to address the fundamental reason why someone like me can assimilate, whereas many First Nations as a group, to this day, continue to be positioned as “other”. And those reasons go beyond race and ethnicity. Because you know let's face, as a visible minority, I am more visibly non-Caucasian than many of our First Nations friends. So if we think about whiteness not in terms of the visible markers of race and ethnicity, but if we think of it as a socioeconomic and sociopolitical construct. And we think of the cultural reasons why Japanese-Canadians, and Japanese-Americans, and in fact, East Asians — you know the East Asia of Toyota, and Honda, and Samsung, and Hyundai — why have those cultures assimilated well into Western culture? Why have they been held up as models of minority assimilation? Whereas in the US, African-Americans and Latinos cultures. And here in Canada, First Nations remain other? Remain positioned, excluded as underclass, you know? That's what I want to talk about. I want everyone to think about in terms of the subtext of my play because I think that's the national conversation that needs to happen. And you know beautiful writing perhaps. But I think the value — if my play has any value going forward — it's really to contribute to that conversation of reconciliation.

JD: That was Hiro Kanagawa — the Governor-General's Literary Award winner for Drama — speaking at an event celebrating all the 2017 winners on Thursday. Mr. Kanagawa's award-winning play is called "Indian Arm."

[Music: Ambient]

Migraine study

Guest: Peter Goadsby

JD: It's something that millions of people deal with jut the best they can. But now, there's new hope for some of those who suffer from migraines, and it might just stop the pain before it begins. This week, the New England Journal of Medicine published the results of two clinical trials for migraine drugs given by injection. The new treatment is the first to specifically focus on pre-emptively stopping the headaches. Dr. Peter Goadsby is a professor of neurology at King's College London, the lead author of one of the studies. We reached him though in Rome.

CO: Dr. Goadsby, first of all, why has it been so difficult for doctors to treat patients for their migraines?

PETER GOADSBY: The problem with migraine treatment up to now has been — and I’m talking about preventive treatment — that we've had no specific migraine preventives — something to stop the attacks coming. All the treatments we've had have been passed down or passed along, or passed around from another indication. So listeners will be familiar with being offered blood pressure drug like a beta blocker, or an antidepressant drug, or a drug from the anticonvulsive class that are working on a migraine. We don't know why? So they weren't designed for the problem, and they’ve brought to migraine their baggage of side effects.

CO: This research you have done into new ways of dealing with this, what approach are you bringing to migraines that's different?

PG: So the paper that was published in The New England Journal was phase three — so end of the investigations study — that looked at blocking a specific protein — a small molecule — that's in the blood that the pain nerves in the head use for transmitting pain, and is involved in light and sound sensitivity and such things. It's called CGRP, or Calcitonin gene-related peptide. Now, we know it's involved in migraine from various studies that have been done in the last 20 years. And what these new drugs do is they block the effect of CGRP, either by mopping it up in the blood, so to speak. Binding to it and stopping it having an effect, or binding on — or landing on — the place that CGRP has its effect in the body — the so-called “receptor”. And by blocking the effective CGRP, they stop migrants coming.

CO: And there are two different drugs, or I guess the same type of treatment. There were two different drugs that were looked at, is that right?

PG: There's, in fact, four different monoclonal antibodies being developed for blocking the GGRP pathway in migraine. Three of them aimed at the small molecule — the peptide CGRP itself — and one of them is aimed at the receptor. The results that came out just recently are for two of those medicines, one at the receptor and one at the peptide. And there are another two that are in development.

CO: And you are involved with which one?

PG: Well, I've actually been involved in all of them. I’m rather Catholic in this respect. If someone wants to make the world better for people with migraine, I'd like to join them. Specifically, I was involved in both of the studies that have recently come out. And more specifically, I was the lead author on the paper that looked at the receptor antibody.

CO: Now, from your research from the trials, how effective did you find these drugs to be?

PG: So if you look at the summary measure — the average measure of what happens if you put everyone together — and you look at the headline result, the thing I find simplest to communicate to people is that about 50 per cent of patients who got the medicine had a 50 per cent reduction in the number of migraine days that they had.

CO: And is that considered dramatic?

PG: 50 per cent is more-or-less the standard that we aim for. I would say that if you had 12 migraine days a month, and all of a sudden, you had only six. I think most patients regard losing very just these migraines, which are very disabling, as dramatic, yes. I think what's more dramatic, if I had to say this, the most dramatic thing about these results is the more general principle that by understanding the biology of migraine, we've been able to develop specific treatments for migraine. And what that says to migraine patients is that we're starting to get on top of the problem.

CO: Now, this study was quite short. So how do you know if there are side effects? Or did it go long enough to know if it's possible that there are some worrisome side effects from these drugs?

PG: So the study that I led on was six months. The follow-up work that's been done coming out of earlier phases of these studies has been to keep people on the treatment who wanted to stay on it. And that's gone on now for three years. And no worrisome side effects have turned up in that studying that treatment or studying the others.

CO: Is this going to be an affordable therapy for people?

PG: It's not clear where companies will set the price at the moment? It seems to me that there's a group of people who are dreadfully disabled by migraine. And there's a group of people who are dreadfully disabled — and for whom current therapies don't work or are completely intolerable — and society is going to have to ask the question whether in that group if the therapy that comes along is value for those patients?

CO: But you feel that you have a breakthrough. That you're looking at the possibility of reducing headache pain in at least a percentage of those who suffer from migraines? This is the breakthrough for those patients?

PG: It's a huge breakthrough because this is the first disease-specific, migraine-specific preventive medicine with an understood biology that's ever been developed. And that says A: we’re getting on top of the problem. And B: in the short term, it’s going to be a real concrete way to treat people who we've not previously been able to treat.

CO: Did any of your funding or support for your research come from the pharmaceutical industry?

PG: Oh, the entire study was funded by the benefactors of the medicine.

CO: And you're OK with that?

PG: I’m absolutely fine with it. I can't see how you'd develop medicines in phase three like this without the involvement of the pharmaceutical industry. All the basic science research that was done — which I did kicking off — was all done through research grants. It wasn’t until things came to the large-scale clinical trials that industry got involved.

CO: Dr Goadsby, thank you.

PG: Thank you.

JD: Dr Peter Goadsby is a professor of neurology at King's College London. He was involved in research on a new migraine-specific treatment. We reached him in Rome.

[Music; Bluegrass]

From Our Archives: Tiny museum

JD: On the program last evening, you may have heard our normal-length interview with Amanda Schochet about a giant tiny breakthrough. Ms. Schochet is the co-founder of a non-profit by the name of MICRO. MICRO is an organization that creates mini museums. Currently, MICRO's "smallest mollusk museum" is on display at the Brooklyn Public Library. Now in our conversation last night, Ms. Schochet told us how the idea for the "smallest mollusk museum" was the result of a mistake. One day, her co-founder — Charles Philipp — said he was going to the "smallest museum" in New York. Ms. Schochet heard the "mollusk museum." And thus, the "smallest mollusk museum" was born. Interestingly, however, that anecdote reminded us that, in fact, in 2013, we actually spoke with one of the co-founders of the museum that Mr. Philipp actually did say he was going to. Here's part of what Josh Safdie told guest host Rick MacInnes Rae about the size of his museum:


JOSH SAFDIE: Small is a relative adjective, isn't it?


JS: I mean it's big. I mean it houses over 165 objects. But it is a former elevator, and it's about 60 square feet.

RMR: A former elevator?

JS: It was a former elevator, yes. It was an elevator shaft. I have a film studio with my buddy Alex, and my brother Benny, we started the museum together. And the owner of the building knew that we collected kind of what we call evidence, which is proof of existence — our proof of existence — proof of stories existence. And he said hey, I know you guys are looking for space. The elevator shaft is available now, and I'm not sure what you want to do with? It it's not really open to the public. We said well, we'd like to store stuff in it. We'd like to store things meticulously, and we'd like to invite the public to come and look at our collection.

RMR: Well then. Would you walk us through it? Tell me about some of the exhibits?

JS: Yeah, sure. I'm just on the street right now, and we're about to walk into the museum. In the museum, you'll find what we like to call 15 different wings. And then we have three halls. We have the “left hall”, “the central hall”, and the “right Hall”. Basically, there's the left wall of shelving, there's a back wall of shelving, and then there’s as a right wall of shelving. The first show, on the left hall in the first wing, is called “Mutilated Money”. And it's from the collection of Harry Spillar, aka the inspector collector, and it's basically money that has been altered by human use. That includes counterfeits, that includes degraded money, that includes literally mutilated money. Money that almost is irreparable. Regardless, all money on the shelves should be taken out of circulation in America. I'm looking right now at a counterfeit 20 very creatively made using the four corners of a twenty dollar, bill pasted onto a 1 dollar bill. Now, if you have more than three quarters of a bill, you can go to the bank, and they'll give you a new one. This creative con artist cut the corners off of four individual 20s, used them on this one, and then went to the bank and got new 20 for all the corners that he cut out.

RMR: I understand there's an exhibit involving swirling, muted forms, strong Sienna tones. What is the charm of the exhibit to vomit called “Inter-gastronomic Offerings”?

JS: Well, that's from the collection of Peter Allen. And he's a designer who used to work with Apple. And he saw our first show and he said you know guys I have something that might be right up your alley. And we said what's that? He goes I have a great collection of fake vomit from around the world. And to us, as objects, It's incredible that the same object, upon first glance, can make somebody nauseous, but also laugh. Just knowing that it's fake all of a sudden makes this object funny.

RMR: And the shoe once launched at the presidential head of George Bush in Iraq. How did you ever get that?

JS: You know I wish I was allowed to divulge the information and the wild goose hunt that we went on to get the shoe.

RMR: Oh, spill.

JS: But we signed paperwork that said we would never talk about it.

JD: From December of 2013, that was As It Happens guest host Rick MacInnes Rae, speaking with filmmaker Josh Safdie — one of the founders of a museum in an elevator shaft in New York City.

[Music: Indie pop]

China unfinished book

Guest: Clive Hamilton

JD: Clive Hamilton had hoped that the publication of his book would spark a conversation. And the book certainly has gotten people talking, but not due to its publication — quite the opposite. Professor Hamilton is a prominent Australian intellectual. His book is called "Silent Invasion: How China Is Turning Australia into a Puppet State". And, just when it was set for release, the publishers told Professor Hamilton they'd decided to wait. Professor Hamilton is now demanding the return of the publication rights. We reached Clive Hamilton in Brisbane.

CO: Professor Hamilton, why do you think that your publisher is putting your book on hold?

CLIVE HAMILTON: Well, the publishers told me that they were afraid of retaliation against them by Beijing or agents in Australia, operating on behalf of Beijing. They felt that they might be punished commercially for publishing a book that's critical of the Chinese Communist Party.

CO: But have they not said that they're worried about what might happen, what lawsuits might be there, what action they might take? Isn't that what publishers often do?

CH: Yes, but what is different this time is that the publisher is afraid that Beijing — or various arms of the Chinese Communist Party, operating through the embassy in Canberra — will prompt, stimulate, possibly even finance people in Australia mentioned in the book to take legal action against the publisher.

CO: Was there any legal action at all against the book?

CH: No, there was nothing like that. There were no actual threats made as far as I'm aware. And I think I would've been aware. And that's in a way the more disturbing thing. It was merely the shadow of Beijing over Australia that was enough for this very reputable publisher to pull the plug.

CO: How do you believe that China is influencing Australian politics?

CH: One way is a very traditional way, and that is for wealthy Chinese businessmen to donate large sums of money to our political parties, which they’ve have done. In fact, it was fact that emerged last year — in 2016 — that prompted me to look much more closely at this because it became apparent to the newspaper reports that a handful of wealthy Chinese businessmen with connections to the Chinese Communist Party had become the largest donor to our political parties. And it also became clear that they had gained a good deal of influence over the policies and approaches of the political parties, persuading some influential politicians to soft pedal on China's aggressive actions in the South China Sea. In addition, Beijing has, through the Chinese diaspora, gained quite a bit of influence in politics at a local level in the Australia, at council levels in the state governments, as well as the federal government through certain crucial individuals.

CO: And you were going to say all of this in the book?

CH: Yes, and a lot more.

CO: The Chinese people in politics in Australia were they the ones who potentially were going to sue?

CH: They could possibly be prompted to do that. I mean, of course, the book had been thoroughly legaled for defamatory content, and revised afterwards. But yes, that's possible. It's very hard to know. But it should be said that the publisher was spooked by the fact that one or two wealthy Chinese or Chinese-Australian businessmen have taken legal action against newspapers for publishing reports about alleged links to the Chinese Communist Party.

CO: Is that possibly because those reports were wrong?

CH: In my opinion, the reports are right. I think the evidence is overwhelming. And I think we will see that evidence emerge in court.

CO: You say that they had a lawyer look over the book. And so the publisher had pulled the plug after your book had been gone over by the legal department?

CH: Yes.

CO: And they found nothing defamatory or libelous in it?

CH: Oh no, the original manuscript rang a few alarm bells for the lawyer — the publisher's lawyer. And so those parts that were of concern I then thoroughly revised to try to minimize the risk. But Carol, I don’t think the point is you know to go into the detail of was there any evidence that may or may not have been defamatory, and therefore, the publisher may or may not have been justified in pulling the plug. The point here — and the publisher made this clear in writing — is that they are afraid that no matter what we did with the book — short of talking out half of the chapters — it was possible that Beijing might prompt and organize people mentioned in the book to take legal action as a way of punishing the publisher. Even if those legal actions had minimal or zero chance of succeeding because as I'm sure you know, getting involved in any kind of defamation action, no matter how strong your case is, is extremely costly.

CO: There have been investigations in the part of the spy agency in Canada into the belief that there are politicians in Canada who have these close contacts with China, and China is influencing them. Do you believe that what you have found about the influence in Australia, do you think that exists in Canada?

CH: Absolutely. I think it's as big a problem in Canada as it is in Australia. And where Canada differs is that Canada is perhaps two, or three, or four years behind Australia in understanding what's going on and the need to respond to it. Because here in Australia, there’s been quite a shift in recent months that Australia's intelligence agencies have been giving pretty compelling briefings to the government about the dangers. For example, the head of Australia's main intelligence agency held a very unusual meeting with the heads of the two main political parties here. And he warned them not to take money from certain Chinese billionaires because of their links to the Chinese Communist Party, and the kind of baggage that comes with those donations — attractive as they are. So from what I've read, the intelligence agency in Canada is aware of kind of activities in the same way that AGO is here in Australia. But my understanding is that the Canadian intelligence agency’s warnings are not being taken very seriously at the highest levels of government in Canada.

CO: They can often be regarded as racist.

CH: It’s not to do with ethnicity; it’s politics. And the accusation of racism or xenophobia is a very effective silencing mechanism. And, of course, for people like me, who comes broadly from the left of politics traditionally, it can be an extremely effective way of making us nervous about identifying this problem. But you know I've got a pretty solid history of opposition to racism in Australia, so I'm not worried about that.

CO: Professor Hamilton thanks for speaking with us.

CH: A pleasure.

JD: Clive Hamilton is a professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University in Canberra. He's also the author of the yet-to-be published book “Silent Invasion: How China Is Turning Australia into a Puppet State.” We reached Professor Hamilton in Brisbane, Australia.

[Music: Jazz]

Chopin heart

JD: Frederic Chopin was a genius. He was an astonishly gifted and inventive composer. He was also a real jerk. One of his students referred to him as, quote, "a weird and incomprehensible man". He was sulky, conceited, wildly oversensitive, and a bully, and anti-Semitic. A man with a...complicated heart — literally and figuratively. Fortunately for science, and people who like looking at the internal organs of brilliant Romantic composers, Chopin's heart was preserved after he died in 1849, at the age of 39. He made that weird, incomprehensible request. Somehow, his sister got his heart, put it in a jar of what's believed to be cognac, and took it back to Poland — where he was born — and it was buried in Warsaw. To this day, it's still in remarkably good shape, which has enabled scientists to figure out how he died. Pretty much since his death, the assumption was tuberculosis. But 9 years ago, a new theory emerged that the composer had had cystic fibrosis. Now, after poring over detailed photographs, scientists have reached a nearly-definitive conclusion. They'll publish their results in February. But they've already revealed what those photos revealed. Lead researcher Professor Michael Witt of the Polish Academy of Sciences told AFP, quote, "We cannot prove this for sure, but the likelihood that it was tuberculosis rather than cystic fibrosis is far, far higher. We can say that with a high degree of confidence." So probably TB after all, as we already thought. I guess maybe his preserved heart in a jar of cognac is actually the least complicated thing about him.

Back To Top »

CBC would like to acknowledge the support of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund.