Sunday December 10, 2017

December 8, 2017 episode transcript

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The AIH Transcript for December 8, 2017

Hosts: Jim Brown and Chris Howden



JIM BROWN: Hello, I'm Jim Brown sitting in for Carol Off.

CHRIS HOWDEN: Good evening. I'm Chris Howden sitting in for Jeff Douglas. This is As It Happens.

[Music: Theme]

CH: Tonight.

JB: Everyone saw this coming but no one knows where it ends. After U.S. President Trump named Jerusalem the capital of Israel there's predictable violence. But our guests can't predict what's next.

CH: First he got the axe, then they buried the hatchet. After a concerted campaign by an alt-right provocateur MSNBC contributor Sam Seder was fired. But just days later he's been taken back.

JB: The unbearable bear. On a trip to Baffin Island a member of her team took video of a starving polar bear and a conservationist tells us she hopes what brought her to tears will get people talking about climate change.

CH: It was always kind of uncanny, but now it's un-canned. And some in Newfoundland and Labrador are devastated that Maple Leaf has stopped making tins of the pinkish substance known as potted meat.

JB: She ain’t heavy, she's someone's sister. A pub in northeast England gets an earful after it announces a ban on bands fronted by women because — and I reluctantly quote — they can't sing heavy rock.

CH: And…Her eye’s in bad shape and bad shapes in her eye. After she observed the solar eclipse with faulty glasses a woman suffers damage to her retina in the exact crescent shape of the eclipse itself. As It Happens: The Friday edition. Radio that wishes she hadn't been looking up, but hopes things are.

[Music: Theme]

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Part 1: West Bank Unrest, Jerusalem Watcher, Polar Bear Video

West Bank Unrest

Guest: Mariam Barghouti



CH: Palestinians in East Jerusalem today. They're chanting America is the head of the snake. While U.S. President Donald Trump's move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital was widely praised by Israelis, it was met with condemnation by Palestinians, the Arab world and U.S. allies. Outside East Jerusalem many of the protests in the West Bank and Gaza turned violent as protesters clashed with Israeli police. As we go to air dozens have been injured and two Palestinian protesters in Gaza have been killed. In the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian protesters threw rocks at Israeli police who fired back with tear gas. Mariam Barghouti was in the thick of it. She's a Palestinian activist and journalist. We've reached her in Ramallah.

JB: Mariam Barghouti, how would you describe the mood at today's protest in central Ramallah?

MARIAM BARGHOUTI: Today, you know, many of the youth were clearly filled with some anger and frustration at the decision of Donald Trump to declare Jerusalem as the capital and to move the embassy to Jerusalem. But there was also a lot of shock from Palestinians at the audacity of this move. They have said Jerusalem is part of Israel before, but the fact that he declared in an official statement and chose to follow it up with a move, the embassy move, is what shocked Palestinians, that this is really happening.

JB: Now I understand that the protest today began as a march. Where were people marching to?

MB: In Ramallah people were marching towards a DCO checkpoint, which is a checkpoint that was erected by Israel to further impede Palestinian movements and it links to Jericho, to Jerusalem as well as various areas in the West Bank, and it's right next to an Israeli settlement. And the DCO checkpoint was at one quiet reserved only for Israelis and Palestinian officials — Palestinians with West Bank IDs couldn't pass through it, making their movement even more hindered.

JB: And at what point today did you start to see clashes between the protesters and the Israeli police?

MB: Clashes started almost immediately. Israeli soldiers began firing tear gas at protesters and they threw stones at Israeli forces. There were several injuries. One of them who was a colleague, a journalist, was hit in the head by a tear gas canister that was shot by Israeli forces and he was taken to the hospital.

JB: So just describe the scene for our listeners, what did it look like? What did it feel like?

MB: Well, today Israeli forces used the most tear gas I have seen in a while. You would see the entire area near Bethel over the hill completely engulfed in tear gas, you wouldn't be able to see anyone across from you. It's very heavy so your eyes begin to burn, your lungs begin to burn. Many people collapsed, others were injured by rubber bullets. And it's frightening, honestly, to see it ,just this entire cloud passing through. Every once in a while they’d erupt and chants of saying ‘Jerusalem is Palestinian’ and ‘Jerusalem is ours.’ I felt like in the West Bank, or in Ramallah at least, and in Jerusalem, there was this hesitation from Israeli forces to not completely provoke. So there wasn't an excessive use of live ammunition and directly shooting at the protesters. I think it was this hesitation to not provoke Palestinian protesters even more.

JB: Now after Trump's announcement this week, announcing that the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the Palestinian leadership called for three days of rage. Would you describe what you saw today as a day of rage?

MB: I think the term ‘Day of Rage’ has lost its effect and its meaning. And a lot of Palestinians would tell you the same, they would kind of mock the idea oh ‘a day of rage.’ We're just here protesting and mobilizing when the Palestinian leadership is trying to say ‘oh let's call for a day of rage’ more so to claim its legitimacy as a representative of the people and aligned with the demands of the people. The Palestinians were going to go out and protest regardless.

JB: Do you feel that there is momentum amongst Palestinians right now to continue with these protests? Is this going to keep going?

MB: See this is the question that many have been trying to answer. The honest answer is that it can go either way. Palestinians have been exhausted and especially after the Al-Aqsa incidents of the summer, where you had Palestinians in massive protests and then in a completely peaceful way in prayer and a few months later you had the U.S. administration declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. So the sense of betrayal kind of disempowers Palestinians. They went out to the streets, they protested, they got a small victory. And in the end something even worse happened. Or, on the other hand, Palestinians can say enough is enough, maybe now is the time especially since the Palestinian leadership is so weakened.

JB: Mariam Barghouti, thank you very much for joining us.

MB: Thank you Jim.

CH: Mariam Barghouti is a Palestinian activist and journalist. We reached her in Ramallah.

Jerusalem Watcher

Guest: Daniel Seidemann

CH: As Ms. Barghouti said it's unclear whether the protests are over. And today Hamas leaders in Gaza called on Palestinians to spark a third intifada. Daniel Seidemann an Israeli lawyer who specializes in Israeli Palestinian relations and runs an NGO called Terrestrial Jerusalem. We reached him in Jerusalem.

JB: Mr. Seidemann, those words, third intifada, are certainly ominous. When you hear the leadership of Hamas use that kind of language how do you react?

DANIEL SEIDEMANN: My daughter just walked in the door and said “Hey dad did the third intifada break out?” So your question is being asked here as well. Intifada is a popular uprising and there is no individual or group of individuals who can organize it and create it. It is generally spontaneous combustion. Many of the elements necessary to spark a popular uprising had been put into place prior to the Trump announcement, and as a result of the Trump announcement — I'm not taking that lightly. However, the notion that somebody can sit in some dark room and make a decision “hey let's have an intifada” is absolutely ridiculous.

JB: You say it's a spontaneous combustion, but was the match lit this week?

DS: Jerusalem always has these glowing embers beneath the surface and the potential for some sort of conflagration is there. Undoubtedly, the move to unilaterally declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel was a serious escalation, it undermined the stability of the city and created the possibility of a violent eruption, making it much more likely than it was in the past. Having said that, I would caution against apocalyptic visions. Jerusalem does apocalypse very well but it's not usually the correct way of approaching things. We have to monitor these things vigilantly. I think those who are expecting some sort of mass explosion are overstating their case a bit.

JB: Although we are seeing violent protests. We have witnesses reporting live fire by rubber bullets and tear gas from Israeli police against Palestinian protesters. Isn't this the beginning of something?

DS: It could be. But we have witnessed things like this in the past. There are a number of questions. Number one: Can this be contained? And don't forget that both the Israeli and the Palestinian security forces do have an interest in maintaining stability. We have not yet seen this careen out of control, that could change in 30 seconds from now. And if indeed it does careen out of control, will an isolated event, however tragic, trigger a series of events that will be sustainable over time? The first and second Intifada lasted for years. Now I treat these questions very seriously. I am deeply concerned. This is my city and the city that my family and my kids live in. But I think that this is the time for sober appraisals and to hold back on the apocalyptic visions.

JB: What about the players who perhaps don't have an interest in maintaining stability — players like Hezbollah? How concerned are you about what groups like Hezbollah are capable of?

DS: I'm extremely concerned, and my concerns are not limited to Hezbollah. Look, I love this city and it's one square kilometre of the Old City, you've got the narratives of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and the faith communities that are on the ascendancy in Jerusalem are those faith communities that weaponize religion. And there are Jews who do that, there are Muslims who do that and there are Christians who do that. And that is turning this into an Armageddon playground. You have the messianicly driven Temple Mount movement and the biblically driven settlers among the Jews. You have the Muslim Brotherhood, fundamentalist Islam, Hamas and Hezbollah among the Islamic and Arab states. And then you've got the end of days dispensationalist evangelicals who make the former two look tame. And what we need to do is take the high ground away from the pyromaniacs and restore the discourse and the control of events to those who treat Jerusalem and its complexity with the respect and the dignity it deserves.

JB: Now we have the Palestinian leadership saying that peace talks are now doomed after the events of this week. I spoke to a former U.S. ambassador to Israel on Wednesday and he told me that the U.S. is now out of the game when it comes to the peace process. How do you view the future of Israeli Palestinian peace talks right now?

DS: Well, I think we're on the cusp of something entirely new. We are about to enter new, dangerous and uncharted waters. I don't think that President Trump created that he just delivered the death certificate to American stewardship over the political processes in the Middle East. A couple of years back, even before Trump, a Palestinian colleague of mine in Washington said another round of American brokered negotiations would resemble getting a floppy disk with Windows 95, and no matter how many times you poke it into the U.S. port of your laptop it's not going to boot the damn computer. That's where we're at, the old paradigm is dead.

JB: So who is the new broker?

DS: American stewardship is over, and there's no immediate replacement. And that means that we are entering a period of considerable uncertainty.

JB: Who do you see as a possible new broker?

DS: There is no magic bullet. Had there been one replacement we would have come up with it by now. But there are sources of stabilization, sources of sobriety. Now in this Trumpian world facts don't matter very much, norms don't matter at all and accountability has evaporated. And there are governments, civil societies, peoples who are trying to enhance the value of facts, norms and accountability — including in the capitals of Europe and, if I may say so, in Ottawa who are not walking away from this conflict, who are seeking ways to do things that are achievable, consequential and affordable in a way that will stabilize the situation again and allow us to proceed. But we're in for the long haul. Don't expect any quick solutions.

JB: Daniel Seidemann, thank you.

DS: Pleasure is mine.

CH: Daniel Seidemann is an Israeli lawyer who runs an NGO called Terrestrial Jerusalem, which monitors developments in his home city. We reached him in Jerusalem.

[Music: Lo Fi Hip-Hop]


CH: Earlier this week it might have seemed unlikely that we'd be hearing a word like breakthrough anytime soon, especially anywhere near the word Brexit. But that's how today's developments are being described. British prime minister Theresa May has made a deal with the European Union that will allow negotiations to move forward. The agreement focuses on three things — citizens rights, financial obligations to the EU and, as you've heard on the show this week, the contentious issue of the Irish border. Here's what Ms. May had to say earlier today about the deal.


PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY: Getting to this point has required give and take on both sides. And I believe that the joint report being published is in the best interests of the whole of the UK. I very much welcome the prospect of moving ahead to the next phase, to talk about trade and security and discuss the positive and ambitious future relationship that is in all of our interests. The deal we've struck will guarantee the rights of more than 3 million EU citizens living in the UK and of a million UK citizens living in the EU. EU citizens living in the UK will have their rights enshrined in UK law and enforced by British courts. They will be able to go on living their lives as before. I was clear in Florence that we are a country that honors our obligations. After some tough conversations, we've now agreed a settlement that is fair to the British taxpayer. It means that in future we will be able to invest more in our priorities at home, such as housing, schools and the NHS. In Northern Ireland we will guarantee there will be no hard border. We've taken this week, time this week to strengthen and clarify this part of the agreement, following discussions with unionists in Northern Ireland and across the UK. There should be no barriers either north, south or east, west and I believe this agreement delivers that.

CH: That was British prime minister Theresa May speaking earlier today following a deal with the European Union on Brexit.

[Music: Laidback Guitar & Bass]

Polar Bear Video

Guest: Christina Mittermeier

CH: One news outlet described it as heartbreaking, another called it soul-crushing. This week SeaLegacy released footage of a starving polar bear. It was taken by a photographer with the conservation group during an expedition near Baffin Island earlier this year. And now the group hopes it will help start a conversation about the consequences of climate change. Christina Mittermeier was part of that expedition. She's a photographer and a co-founder of SeaLegacy. We reached her in New York.

JB: Ms. Mittermeier, when you and your colleagues came across this polar bear how did you react?

CHRISTINA MITTERMEIER: We first saw this polar bear from our vessel and we decided to approach it on land. He was asleep but he looked really skinny and we were concerned that he might not be okay. When the animals first got up and we could see that he was actually in the late stages of starvation, it was incredibly shocking. I can say that all of our team was in tears and feeling completely helpless to do anything about it except to roll our cameras and share it with the world.

JB: It's hard enough to watch through the distance of video, I can't imagine what it was like to see it live.

CM: It's a very, very powerful thing to see an animal that's in such distress and there's nothing really that we could have done to help it. What we can do is to bring the story to the world to spark a conversation about how imminent climate change is.

JB: Now we have this video posted up on our website. But for listeners who haven't seen it yet can you describe this polar bear and what he or she was doing?

CM: It seemed to us like he wasn't adult polar bear and he was in the late stages of starvation. We could not see any injuries that were visible to us so we don't know exactly why he was in the state. But the reality is that it was starving and it probably died within days of the time that this video was made. It's a very difficult video to watch. You can see that the muscles and in this animal’s legs are atrophied. so he can barely walk and he was very hungry looking for food in trash bins.

JB: The skin looked so loose and there was almost a yellow kind of crust along the back.

CM: Yeah, you can probably imagine that an animal that is so far into the late stages of starvation cannot really keep its coat clean. Polar bears are very aquatic, as you know, and they go in the ocean often. This animal had probably just been feeling very weak and sick and tired. So yeah, you can see that the skin is loose and it's shedding big chunks of fur.

JB: And it's trying to find some food, it's going through some kind of container.

CM: Yes. This wasn't an abandoned fish camp so there was nobody living there. It went through the trash bins and eventually picked out a piece of foam it looked like. Later when the animal left we went back and looked, it looked like a piece of a seat the seat from a snowmobile. And that's what it was eating, this foam that was burned and charred and absolutely not edible.

JB: I think one of the most striking things about this video is that disconnect between our image of the massive power and strength that we associate with a polar bear, and then this particular animal who just seemed so weak.

CM: Yes, that truly was the most shocking part of it, because we have been working in the Arctic quite a bit this past year and where you find big chunks of sea ice that extend kilometres and kilometres into the ocean, you find healthy polar bears out there hunting seals and walruses. But we know that when polar bears get stuck on land and there's no sea ice it's very difficult for them to hunt. A lot of people were very distressed by this video when we posted it online and they wanted to know why we didn't feed the animal. And people need to understand that's that polar bears can eat several hundred pounds of seal meat in a matter of days. And there was just nothing we could've fed it to make it right.

JB: I assume it would have been, even in its weakened state, it would have been very dangerous to approach it as well.

CM: Not just dangerous, it's also illegal, as you know. So it is a very distressing situation and I think the key message that my husband, who is the filmmaker Paul Nicklen, who made the film is we hear from scientists that in the next hundred to 150 years we're going to lose polar bears — they're going to go extinct because of climate change. And when they go extinct they're going to starve, and we want the world to see what starvation of a majestic animal like this looks like.

JB: Could it be though that this bear got into some poisoned meat or something like that? I mean, if you haven't been following it for a considerable length of time can you definitively link what happened to that bear with climate change?

CM: Absolutely not. We are not sure that it was because of climate change. It is impossible to tell why he was in this state. Maybe it could have been an injury or a disease, but the point is that it was starving and we want people to know what a starving polar bear looks like, because as we lose the ice in the Arctic polar bears will starve.

JB: There's almost a fasting component to a polar bears year, isn't there? And the concern is that that particular segment of the year is lengthening, right?

CM: That's correct. So polar bears are so amazingly tuned to the clockwork of nature and they feed heavily when the sea ice is formed because they can hunt and they can feed on hundreds, thousands of pounds of meat and then they can spend several months without feeding in the winter when they you know slow down their metabolism and they hibernate. But what they cannot do is go indefinitely without eating.

JB: Now we've, as I said, we posted this video up on our website. What does your conservation group hope people will do after seeing this video?

CM: What we want people to do is we want them to understand that there are solutions in place to slow down the emission of fossil fuels and to draw down carbon from the atmosphere. There's things that are already in place that we can all be participating in and demanding that our governments do on our behalf.

JB: Ms. Mittermeier, thank you once again for joining us.

CM: It's a pleasure. Thank you Jim.

CH: Christina Mittermeier is the co-founder of SeaLegacy. We reached her in New York. And you can see that video of the polar bear on our website:

[Music: Guitar Strums]

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Part 2: Sam Seder, Eclipse Eye Damage Study

Sam Seder

Guest: Sam Seder

CH: Earlier this week Sam Seder was shown the door — but it turned out to be a revolving door. Because a couple of days later his exit became a re-entrance — and he's probably still a little dizzy. On Monday MSNBC announced it had severed ties with Mr. Seder, one of its regular contributors. The reason was a tweet he sent in 2009, which had been discovered and belatedly turned into a scandal by alt-right agitator Mike Cernovich. In that now deleted tweet, Mr. Seder made a satirical comment about film director Roman Polanski's rape conviction. MSNBC’s decision not to renew Mr. Sedar's contract was met with widespread criticism. But on Wednesday evening Mr. Seder received a phone call. During that call he learned that he was not going to be fired after all. We reached Sam Seder in New York City.

JB: Sam Seder thank you for joining us.

SAM SEDER: My pleasure. Thank you.

JB: How did you get the news that MSNBC had reversed its decision to fire you?

SS: I got a call from Phil Griffin who is the head of the network. I had just come out of a subway actually, and saw that he had left a message on my phone. I called him up and he said “We got it wrong, and we'd like you back.”

JB: And how did you react? Did you accept immediately or did you take it under advisement?

SS: You know, I said yeah let me just write up a statement for you guys to send out. But, you know, I was happy about it and I felt that, from my perspective, I think MSNBC like a lot of other media outlets, at least in this country, are just not prepared for this type of situation. Mentally, I think the media at large is still catching up with, both the phenomena of new technology in the form of social media, and the phenomena of a machine that will crank out lies and smears for its political purposes.

JB: Let me just quote you to you now. I want to just in case any of our listeners haven't seen it. I just want to read this tweet that got you into this into this spot in the first place. Here's what you wrote. “Don’t care re Polanski, but I hope if my daughter is ever raped it is by an older truly talented man w/a great sense of mise en scene.” What was your intent when you wrote that?

SS: I wrote that tweet in 2009. And on that same day, I think I wrote it in the evening, on that same day there was a bunch of stories out about how a hundred top filmmakers were signing a petition to have the U.S. government allow Polanski to come back in this country — to either get a lifetime achievement award or something to that effect. And, you know, Roman Polanski was convicted of raping a child. He left the country when he was afraid that his plea deal was going to get rejected by a judge. And I found it disgusting that people would be apologists for child rape because the guy was a talented filmmaker. And I was using a piece of satire to express that.

JB: So how do we get to a place where a major company like MSNBC can be afraid of what's clearly a willful misreading of a tweet?

SS: Well, I mean, I imagine you're following the news in this country. You know, there's the alt-right and frankly, the broader right. I mean, the conservative movement in this country has been selling a pack of lies for a long time.

JB: But the alt-right can sell lies, but MSNBC doesn't have to buy them.

SS: Well, no I agree with you, and I don't know that they were buying the lie as much as they thought that they didn't know the best course to chart when dealing with controversy. And that is the thing that I think the media at large in this country needs to do, is they need to lean in and make these assessments. Because there's been this sort of attitude in media in the past in this country that it's not our job to fall on one side or the other, but what I'm suggesting is in this day and age there is no deciding not to fall on one side or the other. You're going to be on a side, so you've got to lean in and choose the right one.

JB: But then Sam, something really interesting happened. Sfter MSNBC made the decision to fire you, they were criticized from everybody on all sides of the spectrum.

SS: Yeah.

JB: Didn't you get letters of support from Fox News commentators?

SS: I wouldn't say I got letters, but I got some tweets from Fox News commentators. But I think, in many respects, it was a victory for three different communities. And I think to a large extent you know I have a very loyal audience on my podcast called The Majority Report, which I do every day. And they were out there defending me. But for the general public I don't think they were too concerned about Sam Seder as much as you had people invested, particularly like journalists, because they are going through this every day where their management is not defending them or giving them the benefit of doubt or they have to worry about being attacked. And I think that's why we heard from Fox News commentators. There was also another community out there of people in this country who are tired of the alt-right and the broader right in general, attacking the idea of reality and attacking the idea of simple norms. And to you and I we read this tweet and it's clear it is satire. But a guy like Mike Cernovich, he's pretending it's not. And then he gets retweeted by Seb Gorka and Donald Trump Jr. And then there's a third community where it's an accountability moment for people who are OK with sexual harassment, are OK with promoting, you know, what some call a rape culture. And I think the idea that they could support me in this instance is an example of the nuance that's going on in this movement and a genuine understanding of what the problem is.

JB: Now the TV exec at MSNBC that fired you and then rehired, Phil Griffin, he released a statement. He started it off by saying ‘sometimes you just get one wrong and that's what happened here.’ But then later he acknowledged that the point you were trying to make in this tweet was actually in line with the values of MSNBC. But he said the language was not in line with those values. Do you think you could have gotten your message across using different language?

SS: Personally no, I think I use the proper language. Now, of course, the irony is is that that tweet got very little attention back in 2009. Could I have used different language? I suppose, but I think for the point I was trying to get across the language was fine. I can understand from the perspective of MSNBC because they don't have a forum where I think that language would have worked for them. But I have no regrets about that tweet at all. And if I have any regrets regarding that tweet it's that I deleted it. If I had known that Mike's Cernovich was trying to smear me with it, I would have pinned it right at the top of my feed.

JB: How did it feel to be back on the air last night?

SS: It was fun. I mean, we didn't talk about it too much. One of the ADs made a joke something like “Boy, it feels like it hasn’t been that long Sam.” And then we just went on to talk about how the Trump administration and the Republicans are trying to attack every institution that we have in this country for fear of being a victim of norms and reality.

JB: Thank you very much for joining us. We appreciate it.

SS: Thank you.

CH: That was Sam Seder a contributor to MSNBC and host of the program The Majority Report. We reached him in New York City.

[Music: Ambient Tones]

Eclipse Eye Damage Study

Guest: Avnish Deobhakta

CH: On August 21st Nia Payne was one of the countless people who wandered into the street to take a peek at the solar eclipse. And she's one of a much smaller group who suffered serious eye damage — damage that Ms. Payne's case reflects the crescent shape of the eclipse itself. Now she's the subject of a new case study out in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology. It's coauthored by Doctor Avnish Deobhakta. Dr. Deobhakta is a retina surgeon at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. That's where we reached him.

JB: Dr. Deobhakta, first of all, a lot of people made a point of taking a look at this eclipse back in August. Can you tell us how Nia Payne observed it?

DOCTOR AVNISH DEOBHAKTA: Well, Nia was looking at the eclipse without glasses initially for about six seconds, at which point she realized that she needed to wear some type of protective wear. She saw someone nearby who was wearing glasses and looking at the eclipse. And they were glasses that she thought, because this person was looking at the eclipse with the glasses, that they were legitimate and legitimately protected. And because of that she ended up going and asking this person if she could borrow those glasses. And when she wore those glasses she ended up looking at the sun for about 15 to 20 seconds thinking that she was protected.

JB: And then how long after that did she realize that there was something wrong with her eyes?

AD: She mentioned to us that immediately thereafter she realized that her vision hadn't really returned to normal, but she was told by her family members and everybody around her that, you know, “oh that's going to be, that’s maybe some after effects from the eclipse and it will resolve itself.” When it persisted for a day she realized that maybe something was wrong and then decided to go to a local hospital, but that hospital I guess wasn't equipped with specialists in the eye. And so she ended up coming to see us at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary at Mt. Sinai.

JB: And then how did she describe how her eyes felt to you?

AD: Sure, so what she said to me when she explained to me what she had seen just about a day thereafter was that she saw a black spot that was persistent in the center part of her vision. So it was something that she could actually tell us the shape of it and she actually drew it out for us. And the drawing that she had was in the shape of a crescent.

JB: So just as the eclipse would have looked?

AD: Exactly.

JB: And was it both eyes or just one eye?

AD: Just one eye. Her left eye was dominant so she just basically had that eye, which in our field we know that people tend to use the eye that their most dominant in. And so she basically had it in the eye that she was the most dominant in.

JB: And then you took a closer look at her eyes, an extremely close look at her eyes using this this new imaging equipment. Can you describe what you saw?

AD: Sure, so what we first did was basically what is what is called a fundus exam. So we just basically looked in the back of her eyes where the structure called the retina, which is like the camera film of the eye is located, and we saw that there were some colour changes in the center of that structure of the retina, and we realized that's a tip off to us that there might be something going on here that that's related to the eclipse because that's what normally that type of damage would look like. So that sort of prompted us to say we need to get more imaging and what we did was we then decided to get this very advanced form of imaging, which can take a very precise look at the individual cells of one layer of the retina that we think is affected by this type of damage. There was an almost remarkable kind of alignment with the damage that we saw to a specific aspect of the retina and the shape of the eclipse. So in effect we saw a crescent-like damage to the retina.

JB: So the image of the moon passing before the sun was imprinted on her eyes — burned into her eye I guess.

AD: One could say that that's kind of what happened. Yeah, I mean, this damage is exactly in the same relative shape as the aspect of the sun that was still visible — that was not covered by the moon.

JB: Have you ever seen anything like this before?

AD: Not to this level of precision. So, you know, we had an intuition that this would be something that we might see. But the concordance or the alignment of how almost perfectly it matched what Nia drew was something that we found remarkable.

JB: Do you believe this damage was caused during the six seconds she looked at the sun with unprotected eyes or during the 15 to 20 seconds she looked at the sun through these supposedly protective glasses?

AD: I think it's the latter. The vast majority of the time that she was looking at the sun was with these glasses, which were not protective.

JB: So if she had been using the proper glasses for viewing this eclipse she would not have sustained this damage?

AD: Yes, I believe that. I mean, if she had been using the proper glasses for the 15 to 20 seconds that she was looking at the sun directly, I think that she would not have had any damage to this to her retina.

JB: Now how is Ms. Payne's vision now?

AD: We haven't spoken to her directly recently, but she mentions to others and she had mentioned to us that the spot that she was seeing, the defect in her central vision was persistent. So it was still there and we know that this type of damage from previous patients who have had injuries like this decades ago is persistent throughout life. So it's a permanent form of damage.

JB: So then she'll have to compensate I guess develop a dominance in the other guy or that sort of learn to pick her spots when she's viewing things.

AD: One of the aspects of binocular vision, that is using both eyes, is that one eye invariably compensates for the other when the other eye isn't working as well. So I think that she was going to live a normal healthy life, but I do think that she will always be aware of the fact that she does have a small defect. Now her defect isn't enough to completely obscure her vision, but it is something that she notices and she still does notice that as we'd expect.

JB: So the next time somebody tells you to be careful watching a solar eclipse the lesson here is listen to them?

AD: Absolutely, and I would also say this other thing that you know make sure that the glasses that you're using are the ones that are standard and protective, because you can't really just having someone on the street or what have you even if they're looking at the eclipse you may not know what type of glasses they're using.

JB: Dr. Deobhakta, thank you very much for talking to us today.

AD: Thank you for having me.

CH: Dr. Avnish Deobhakta is a retina a surgeon at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai. He's the co-author of a new case study in the Journal of the American Medical Association Ophthalmology. We reached him in New York City.

[Music: Whimsical Orchestra]

LA House Parties

Guest: Mark Beaumont

CH: The Hollywood Hills neighbourhood is known for its celebrity residents and its massive mansions. And now LA city council is cracking down on those homes being rented out for loud parties. You know who's angry about that? Beer drinking bros. On Wednesday during a public discussion about the ban two of those bros came to the defense of partying. Chad Kroeger, lead singer of Nickelback, and his pal JT. Here's part of it Mr. Kroeger had to say untranslated from the original bro language.


TOM ALLEN AS CHAD KROEGER: What up counsel, my name is Chad Kroeger. I'm an activist and house-party enthusiast. Over the past week I've been in a state of deep despair upon hearing the news. L.A. is trying to outlaw house parties in the Hollywood Hills. I am here determined to stop this future atrocity. House parties were the bedrock of my development as a young man in San Clemente. My first introduction to manhood came when the captain of my water polo team, Boomer Kingsley, asked me to shock on a tall can of Bud LIght in front of the whole squad at his end of the season bash. His parents were in Tahoe at the time so we tore that weekend up. It was epic and I was super stoked. My new found confidence gave me the courage to ask out the most popular girl in school, Lauren Stockholder, prom that year. She rejected me and I had to go Stacey McMillan, but I didn't care because I was so amped on chugging with my boys. That's what house parties do. Raging at house parties is the truest way to party.

CH: Nickelback singer Chad Kroeger expressing his bummed-outness to L.A. City Council. Now if that guy didn't sound like Chad Kroeger to you or like a Canadian at all — you're right. It was actually California comedian Tom Allen. And after he was cut off his pal J.T. — actually comedian John Parr — continued to fight for their right to party.


JOHN PARR AS J.T.: What up counsel, my name is J.T. Parr, I am also here to defend parties in the Hollywood Hills. I grew up like most kids, worried I couldn't bench two plates, that I wouldn't fit in, that I wouldn't find love. Then I discovered partying and suddenly all those worries went to the wayside. I didn't need love, I had keg stands. If you outlaw house parties you may keep the volume down but you may keep people from bonding. America needs bonding. People need to put aside their differences and find common joy. There's no more effective environment for that than a freakin rager. This is best exemplified in me and Chad's relationship. We were star crossed. He a surfer, me a body boarder.

COUNSEL: Thank you. Thank you. And I want to welcome you to L.A. councils Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.

CH: That was comedian John Parr and before that comedian Tom Allen pretending to be Chad Kroeger. Both of whom were addressing L.A. City Council.

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Part 3: UN Peacekeeper, Potted Meat

UN Peacekeeper

Guest: Adil Essarhir

CH: In eastern Congo last night a U.N. peacekeeping base came under attack. After the hours-long firefight with a suspected rebel group, fourteen peacekeepers and at least five Congolese soldiers were dead — many more have been wounded. The U.N. calls it the worst attack on peacekeepers in recent memory. Major Adil Essarhir is the military spokesperson for the U.N. mission in Congo. We reached him in Goma, Congo.

JB: Major Essahir, could you walk us through exactly what happened in this attack?

ADIL ESSARHIR: This attack was conducted in the evening of December the 7th. So they attack us in the Semliki, which occupied by the blue helmets. And we have our battle damage assessments of 15 killed and 53 injured.

JB: How did the ADF carry out this attack?

AE: So the attack was in this area, this location in on the river so they attacked from three or four directions. It's a four or six hours of fighting. So now we make the extraction of casualties and Medivac and assessments of the situation to take appropriate action. So the reinforcements already arrived at Semliki to deter any other action.

JB: Now this group the ADF, the Allied Democratic Forces, what would motivate them to attack a peacekeeping base?

AE: So because I think that the peacekeeper they are there, they are more for making a protection of civilians against their negative activities because they make extortion of the population, they attack the population, there is kidnapping, there is killing. So all this negative operation will come back then we'll come back at them to ensure protection of civilians as a strategic priority for us given by the Security Council. It’s a retaliation I think for our actions. So it’s the third attack, they attacked twice, in September and October, so we lost four peacekeepers.

JB: Do you know if the peacekeepers returned fire? Do you know if any rebels were killed or injured?

AE: It was fighting, the fighting lasted more than five or six hours. So it was a strong fight because I think that they want to take over the base.

JB: So then the rebels were repelled in the end?

AE: Yeah they were repelled in the end, they were repelled.

JB: Fourteen of your peacekeepers have been killed, along with five Congolese soldiers. How big a disaster, how big a setback is this for the UN in the Democratic Republic of Congo?

AE: It's big, but I think it's the price for peace, for service. Our service here is to ensure protection of civilians and if we condemn this this attack, if we say that, it's a deadly attack against people working in the service of peace and people working for ensuring stability and protection of civilians. But we will make take all actions to ensure that the perpetrators are all held accountable and will be brought to justice. So now we are coordinating a joint response as we do for more than three years now, no we are present in these since before 2014. We conducted more than ten major operations we take all the care of this ADF. So we'll continue this fight and will continue the fight of any other armed group making suffering to civilian populations.

JB: This is the price for peace?

AE: Yeah.

JB: It's expensive.

AE: It is expensive but I think that the Congolese and all of the value of the United Nations — we must do it for them I think.

JB: Now this is one of the few peacekeeping operations that's actually allowed to go out and conduct offensive operations as well. Will you re-evaluate that role given what's happened here?

AE: The answers for such questions is not that. We will evaluate out modus operandi before we do it because the Security Council ask us for this issue to be more flexible, to be more immobile, to be more agile, too. Because, you know, we are under budget cuts. We can't change action to deal in a good manner with such attacks. We withdraw from our fight against this armed group, against these negative forces, as the mandate tells us to do. So we will continue our fight against them.

JB: Major Essarhir, thank you very much for joining us.

CH: Major Adil Essarhir is the military spokesperson for the U.N. mission in Congo. We reached him in Goma, Congo.

[Music: Ambient Bass Tones]

Harvey Brooker Obit

CH: For years his catchphrase echoed across Toronto airwaves — If you could do it alone you would have done it already. The popular man's weight loss coach Harvey Brooker died yesterday. He was 74. Mr. Brooker started running his weight loss program in 1985. He was inspired by his own experience of losing 50 pounds in his 20s. He focused on healthy eating, but he also believed that men needed support systems around them to lose weight and keep it off. So he ran weekly meetings that he called Power Hours with motivational speakers. Even Toronto Mayor John Tory used the program, when he joined in 2010. He dropped more than 30 pounds. Mr. Brooker had such a powerful effect on people that a number of Sounds Like Canada listeners asked if the show would have him as a guest on the program. So from January 2008 here's Shelagh Rogers interviewing Harvey Brooker.


HARVEY BROOKER: One of the major things that will spur a guy on is he goes the doctor and the doctor says you've got health issues, problems with your sleep apnea, high blood pressure, high cholesterol sugar problems, that kind of thing. And then next thing you know he's trying to do something about it. There are people out there who actually can eat, like they've got a wooden leg so to speak, and they don't gain weight.

SHELAGH ROGERS: We hate those.

HB: Well we do, but you know, I had yesterday there was a guy I think he was 50 years old, he only weighed 198 pounds, and we’ll say about 5 foot 8 or 9 frame, who joined yesterday. And when he came into the class he said that his cholesterol was up, his blood pressure was up, we all get affected at different rates. And I got guys who are 400 pounds who don't have a darn thing wrong with them except they can hardly walk and their life is very much affected by their weight. So I think eating healthy is something that men don't know very much about. And that's what we really take Shelagh.

SR: You're reminding me of that commercial, I don't know if it's the Gillette guy who said, you know, I'm not just a user I bought the company or I bought the company and I'm a user. You walked the walk, right? I mean, you weren't always the slim size you are now?

HB: No. I'm going to be 64 in two weeks, please God, and one of the things I can tell you is when I was 27 years old I lost a little over 50 pounds and I've been maintaining that weight loss ever since. And I do walk the walk. I follow what I preach and I live the life, and everyone who knows me knows that, they watch me wherever I am. You know, I'll be at a restaurant someone walk up to me and say “What are you eating?” And I'm always eating what I should be eating. And people come to my home and see what I have, but it's always that way. I eat healthy all the time and that's what I try to get men to understand they can do.

SR: When you talk about practice what you're preaching, I'm interested that your meetings are on Sunday mornings. Why Sunday mornings?

HB: Well, it is a convenient time. Most men are busy evenings during the week with business and so forth. And on Saturday it's usually a family day. Sunday the only thing I usually find is, of course, people go to church on Sunday. But a lot of those guys actually, if they're you know where they can go to mass, they actually take a different mass and come to the class. In some cases people have gone to their ministers and said “Look I've got to be away from church for a little while, while I handle this very important problem.” And with blessings from their priest or minister they go ahead and do that.

CH: That was Toronto weight loss guru Harvey Brooker speaking with Shelagh Rogers on Sounds Like Canada in January 2008. Mr. Brooker died yesterday. He was 74.

[Music: Ambient Bass Tones]

Red Light Camera

Guest: Andrew Stobo Sniderman

CH: He was just trying to make everything fine, but he got himself fine instead. Back in May we brought you the story of Mats Järlström an engineer based in Oregon. He had launched a civil lawsuit against the state after being fined for speaking about his research on traffic lights. After his wife was ticketed for a traffic violation caught by an automated camera, Mr. Järlström started investigating how the traffic lights were timed in his city of Beaverton. He concluded that the amber lights should last longer to give people enough time to make right turns. And for his efforts, and for making his efforts public, he was fined five-hundred dollars — for a weird reason. The Oregon Engineering Board found that he had violated a law that says only state licensed engineers can speak publicly about technical matters. In turn Mr. Järlström filed a federal lawsuit alleging violations of his first amendment rights. And now, four years after his wife's ticket, Mr. Järlström can say his fight was worth it. Oregon's Attorney General says the Engineering Board did indeed violate his free speech rights. Back in May Mats Järlström spoke with Carol about his lawsuit. And here is part of their conversation.


MATS JARLSTROM: Well, I was shocked. I Felt violated, not only for being fined for that, but also for stating who I am. And that's, in my point of view, outrageous.

CAROL OFF: And what was the basis for the fine you received tell us the backstory to that?

MJ: Well, according to the board of engineers here in Oregon if anyone is actually using mathematics and physics, as they call it algorithms, to study traffic related issues — like in my case traffic signals — you are then deemed to be a transportation engineer.

CO: What were you — what did you write to complain about or to draw to their attention?

MJ: Well, I started to look into the science behind traffic signals and how it was done and I was looking for source information and I located the original paper that was written in 1959 by three scientists.

CO: But the thing is though, is that you weren't trying to make money, you weren't selling yourself, you were putting a shingle out and starting a business or doing — you just simply wrote this email to point out what was wrong with the the yellow lights lights. What did you what did you hope or think you were going to get in the way of a reaction from the board?

MJ: I was hoping, obviously, that they would look into this and enhance the understanding of the formula — again, developed in 1959 — it's limitations. So we could look into an expanded version, an extended version of that one, so people are not getting caught in this dilemma making turns today. And unfortunately the red light camera industry is exploiting this dilemma and statistics from their citation data clearly shows that. However, that's something they don't want to share obviously because it's making them money. And I feel like I'm doing a civil service here to try to avoid innocent people having to pay in Beaverton $260 dollars for making a safe right hand turn and getting caught in this dilemma.

CH: That was Mats Järlström speaking with Carol back in May.

[Music: Industrial Pop]

Potted Meat

Guest: James Murphy

CH: Some things just have magic in them. You don't know exactly what else is in there — and you don't want to know — but you know about the magic. That's why locals in Newfoundland and Labrador are so upset right now — a little bit of magic has just vanished from supermarket shelves. And when listeners started calling the CBC to say they couldn't find Maple Leaf Potted Meat anywhere, the St. John's Morning Show launched an immediate investigation.


CALLER: I can't buy any potted meat. I got back from the mainland a few years ago, after a 20-year stint, and I can't find any potted meat, which I love dearly. Can you comment on that or see what's going on with the potted meat? Thanks.

CH: Yesterday the morning show reached out to Maple Leaf Foods and confirmed the worst. The product has been discontinued since 2016. James Murphy is one of the many people in the province who are disappointed by the disappearance. We reached him in Bay Roberts.

JB: James Murphy, for listeners who haven't had the pleasure. What exactly is potted meat?

JAMES MURPHY: Potted meat, well it's a Maple Leaf product. Basically it's a meat spread and we don't know exactly what the meat consists of but we all love it.

JB: So the mystery is part of the appeal, I guess?

JM: The same as eating a hot dog I guess. You really don't care what's in it but when you want it you want it.

JB: And why you think it's such a loved food in Newfoundland?

JM: Well, it's been around down here, I don't know across Canada, but it's been around in Newfoundland as long as I can remember. I remember eating it as a child for lunch for sandwiches and stuff and I've always had it. I lived in Calgary for 13 years and I’d have my parents send me out some because we couldn't get it out there.

JB: So traditionally how would you go about eating your potted meat? Would you just spread it on some bread?

JM: Well, on some bread or mixed up with some mayo and just dip with some crackers or just the product itself.

JB: So it sort of got all of the versatility of a salmon salad sandwich.

JM: Yeah we call it the poor man's pate.


JB: And you say you couldn't get it when you were in Calgary at all?

JM: No, no. There was a local shop up there that did specialize in Newfoundland products and we didn't discover that till about seven or eight years up there. But no, for the most part no, it wasn't available in Calgary at all.

JB: And now, of all things, it's not available in Newfoundland.

JM: No, no and I discovered it about two months ago. Maple Leaf didn't put it any kind of press release or anything that was going to be discontinued, but I went to my local supermarket and the manager on staff that day said ‘No it's a discontinued product.’ I said ‘What? That can't be true.’

JB: That's crazy.

JM: Crazy.

JB: So you were gobsmacked? You're standing in the middle of your grocery store staring at an empty shelf.

JM: Absolutely.

JB: Well if you’d known you could have stocked up, cause I imagine the shelf life on a can of potted meat is probably pretty long.

JM: Yeah, I think there's quite a few preservatives in there, I think it probably lasts for a few years.

JB: Now this isn't the first time the Newfoundlanders have been exchanging stories about the potential loss of a favourite food, because there was recently there was a big Vienna sausage scare wasn't there?

JM: Yeah, yeah there was a rumour last week just last week about the bologna being discontinued and that kind of put a little scare in everybody.

JB: So you could be looking at dangerously low levels of nitrates?

JM: Dangerous yes, for certain.


JB: I also understand a popular brand of mustard pickles.

JM: Yeah, that's happened last year, I believe. Zest pickles went off the market and yeah, there was there was people actually that had extra bottles on hand and were selling them online for 15-20 dollars a bottle. We’re pretty loyal to our products that we enjoy.

JB: What's going on here James? I mean, this can't be a coincidence, potted meat, Vienna sausages, big stick bologna, mustard pickles. There's gotta be more to it than coincidence.


JM: I don’t know if it’s more to it. But yeah, we love to eat stuff that's not healthy for us.

JB: Why do you think that is? Why do you think Newfoundlanders are so passionate about prepackaged foods?

JM: I really don't know. But bologna in particular, if you're a person that likes to go hunting or a guy that likes to go in and cut his wood and burn it in his woodstove, you can rest assured that this guy's got some bologna taken in the woods with them for a fry up.

JB: It goes with territory.

JM: For certain.

JB: So how are you going to replace potted meat in your diet?

JM: I don’t know, we’ll just have to grin and bear it, and we'll have to move on to the next unhealthy snack choice, I guess.

JB: They're still selling brawn and under the counter at Halliday's I think.


JM: Yeah, we've got a few, there's a few different products there that are similar to it. Not quite the same but we'll have to make do, I guess.

JB: You can still get klik?

JM: Oh God no. I don't think that's been around for a few years.


JB: We appreciate your time. Thank you very much for joining us.

JM: Yes, not a problem, always a pleasure.

CH: That James Murphy we reached him in Bay Roberts Newfoundland. I love how disgusted he was by klik. And we have more on this story on our website:

[Music: Ambient Tones]

Dartmouth Fire

CH: When Brandon Marshall woke up in the middle of the night he smelled what he has described as burnt plastic. He went downstairs and checked to see if anything was on fire — nothing was. Then he went outside and witnessed his neighbours, a family of five, trying to escape their burning house. Mr. Marshall lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. He described the moment to CBC's David Pate on Maritime Noon. Here's part of that conversation.


BRANDON MARSHALL: I could hear people outside screaming ‘there's a fire, there's a fire get out, get out.’ I rushed out and as I rushed outside there was the family jumping out the window of the second story window because the fire had already engulfed the whole basement and whole first storey of the house. It’s a three storey complex that we live in here, they're all built the exact same, it's like just your basic military style complex, everyone has the exact same three storeys. Their first two storeys being the basement and the first storey where the kitchen and room and everything is, was completely engulfed in flames. The family — all I was concerned was the safety of the children, the smoke inhalation. I just asked the lady to come inside my house and get warm, be safe don't be inhaling the smoke. I said ‘Just please come in.’ It was hard to communicate they weren't completely fluent in English, a couple of first responders landed. They asked her to come inside my house. I let them all come in the house and do their first aid in their ambulance duties in my house. Couple of police officers come in they all made sure the children were all right first and they checked over them either they were all taken to, IWK, the children or the mother were taken QE II. The father was taken first by ambulance, rushed he sustained very severe burns. All I know I just thank God that that wasn't my house, my children.

DAVID PATE: When you saw them jumping out of the window, did they just jumped onto the ground?

BM: They threw out a mattress. The mattress was tiny. I wouldn't have jumped onto the mattress myself but when you are in a predicament like that you'll do anything.

CH: That was Brandon Marshall Speaking with host David Pate on the CBC's Maritime Noon today. Mr. Marshall's neighbours are being treated for their injuries.

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