Tuesday September 05, 2017

September 4, 2017 episode transcript

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The AIH Transcript for September 4, 2017

Hosts: Carol Off 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]

[Music: Theme]

JD: Tonight:

CO: Nuclear reaction. North Korea's latest test shocks the whole world, but with a U.N. Security Council threatening further sanctions, it's China that will determine what happens next.

JD: Badly shaken. After North Korea detonates a nuclear weapon, a seismologist in Norway registers the magnitude of the explosion and drops an f bomb of his own, on Twitter.

CO: Running for their lives, or going nowhere fast. A human rights worker near the Myanmar border tells us about the Rohingya people fleeing the violence, and the plight of those left behind.

JD: TIME warp. In a feature interview, a former editor at TIME magazine alleges sexism and ageism pushed her out of her job. And that's why she's taking the media giant to court.

CO: Seemed like everything had fallen into place. Then, the place fell. A Nova Scotia family is homeless, after their house tumbles into a sinkhole in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

JD: And… morbid curiosities. They called Francis Glessner Lee the “godmother of forensic science”. because she created miniature murder scenes with dolls. And now, her dark dioramas are about to see the light of day again. As It Happens, the Labor Day edition. Radio that guesses, for her, those projects were the be all and end doll.

[Music: Theme]

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Part 1: North Korea: China, Nova Scotia sink hole, crime dollhouses

North Korea: China

Guest: Steve Tsang

JD: “We have kicked the can down the road long enough. There is no more road left.” A stark message from U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. and Nikki Haley, at an emergency Security Council meeting held today. The meeting was struck to discuss how to respond to North Korea's strongest and most troubling nuclear test yet. Here is Ambassador Haley, addressing the council.


NIKI HALEY: The time for half measures in the Security Council is over. The time has come to exhaust all of our diplomatic means before it's too late. We must now adopt the strongest possible measures. Kim Jong un's action cannot be seen as defensive. He wants to be acknowledged as a nuclear power. His abusive use of missiles and his nuclear threats show that he is begging for war.

JD: Ambassador Haley says the U.S. will circulate a draft resolution this week proposing new sanctions against North Korea but in order for those sanctions to pass, she needs the support of China. And it's not clear if she will get that. Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to stop trade with countries that do business with North Korea. That is an obvious jab at China. Steve Tsang is the director of the. SOAS China Institute at the University of London. And we reached him in London.

CO: Mr. Tsang, just how difficult a position is China in right now when it comes to dealing with North Korea? What boxes it in?

STEVE TSANG: China is not in a happy position. I think the Chinese government was very angry with the North Koreans, after the nuclear test. Because that took place just as President Xi Jinping was greeting his guests at the BRICS summit in Sharmin. But then the Chinese are probably even less happy after what happens at the United Nations. I think the prospect that China might be punished for North Korea's misconduct really upsets them.

CO: But does that mean that it will act? That it will vote in favor of these new sanctions that we just heard the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaking of?

ST: No, I don't think so. The crux of the matter here is whether the Chinese believe that the threats made by the Trump administration is credible or not. Cutting off trade with China will also hurt the American economy and the world economy significantly. So the Chinese don't really believe that Trump can deliver on that.

CO: Mr. Trump continues to tweet some stronger words and some unpredictable sometimes messages, like the one you just referred to, that he threatens to stop trade with any country doing business with North Korea. That would be China. He's saying that to South Korea, appeasement doesn't work. You've got to get on with it. He says that North Korea is a threat and an embarrassment to China. He seems to be poking China with a pretty sharp stick. Do they take that seriously? Are they concerned with how unpredictable Mr. Trump is?

ST: They are concerned about the unpredictability of Mr. Trump. Everybody should be. But on the other hand, the military options that are actually available to the Americans are limited because of the potential course on South Korea and the whole region. And therefore, the Chinese I don't think at the moment take the threat from Mr. Trump too seriously. And perhaps that explains why the Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations has been rather reticent in terms of upping the ante in being critical of the North Koreans at a time when the Chinese are probably more angry with the North Koreans than they have been for a long time.

CO: Given that what happened on the weekend is that North Korea has made it clear that it probably has some very powerful nuclear weapons. It set up a very powerful nuclear explosion. And what you're saying though is that what worries China more is losing face. Not the fact that its neighbor has a very unpredictable leader, who has a nuclear weapon?

ST: I will present this in a slightly different way. I think what really worries the Chinese is the capacity of the Communist Party to stay in power in China. Most Chinese believe that the North Korean regime can only continue to exist because of Chinese support and subsidy. And the Communist Party of China is doing it because the North Korean regime is the same kind of basic political system as the Chinese one. And if it allows this regime to collapse, it could potentially be seen by dissidents within China that the Communist Party of China no longer has the political will and determination to do what it takes to stay in power.

CO: If I understand correctly, so the threat of a nuclear-powered North Korea is not the thing that spooks them. The possibility that if there is some kind of a war that they'll have all kinds of North Korean refugees and people escaping, pouring over the border. The instability of the Korean Peninsula is not the issue. They're just worried about the state of the communist party and staying in power?

ST: Well yes, in a nutshell that is the case. It doesn't mean the others are not considerations for the Chinese government, but they are not the overriding factor.

CO: Do you think that the United States administration understands the complexity that you're laying out for us here?

ST: Some people in the administration I'm sure understand. But whether President Trump will bother to listen to them and understand all these complexities? I have my own personal doubts.

CO: Is there any way in your view that this can be settled down? That there can be the kinds of sanctions or pressures that might put a lid on Kim Jong un's plans at this point?

ST: The only things that can potentially force Kim Jong un to rethink is if the Chinese are willing to cut off the economic lifelines to North Korea. And Kim understands the Chinese political system and priorities and, at the moment, the prospect is that the Chinese government will not do so.

CO: You’re suggesting that China has a potential to cut off everything, including crude oil, its food supplies, its lifeline?

ST: Well, if the Chinese government would like to do that, they can do so. China is accountable for something like over 90 per cent of import and export for North Korea. But the North Korean trade is a very small percentage of Chinese trade as a whole. So the Chinese can take the heat at relatively low pain levels.

CO: And could that backfire?

ST: Well, we never know what Mr. Kim will do. This is a regime that 20 years ago, was prepared to starve a significant percentage of its population. So they can do it again. But then it will make the whole commitment to nuclear and missile program that much more difficult.

CO: Very high stakes indeed. Mr. Tsang, thank you.

ST: You're welcome.

JD: Steve Tsang is the director of the University of London's China Institute. We reached him in London. In the next half hour, we’ll speak to a seismologist who tells us why North Korea's latest test, of what does appear to be a hydrogen bomb, is a game changer.

[Music: Rock]

Nova Scotia sinkhole

Guest: Heather Strickey

JD: The Strickeys have lived in their house in Falmouth, Nova Scotia for 10 years. Now, abruptly, the family of four is homeless, because of an unexpected event early Sunday morning. We reached Heather Strickey in Windsor, Nova Scotia.

CO: Heather, how are you doing today?

HEATHER STRICKEY: Well, Carol, it's been a roller coaster of two days. We went to bed thinking we had the world on a string and woke up to think the world might be ending.

CO: Now, let's go back to the wee hours of Sunday morning, when you heard noises, what did you think was happening?

HS: The very first thought I had, it was 3:07, I woke up, I thought why an I awake? Then I realized OK, I hear noises. So my very initial reaction that the temperature had dropped a lot and we had radiant heating. You know they make some noises and I thought oh, maybe that's it. And then I listened and I went no, that's way too loud and aggressive to be that. So then I said OK, I have a 16 year old in the house. Is there any chance she would be awake and downstairs doing something? And this sounds like moving things, not like getting a snack. So I quickly looked out in the hallway and saw her door was still close, which I mean she's still in her room. And then I went back into my room. And, of course, you don’t want to confront something awful. So I thought oh, I will type 911 into my cell phone and I will hit the “send button” if necessary. The noises continued and, if anything, got a little bit louder and I went yes, there is someone in our home. And so I hit the send button to start the call and engaged the 911 operator.

CO: And did your daughter hear the noises? Did she wake up at all?

HS: So as I was calling 911 and had started the conversation, she actually came into my room and said Mom, I think there's someone downstairs. I grabbed her arm and I pulled her into, rushed into the bathroom and that door locked. So Julie and I are talking, the dispatcher is giving us advice and we're trying to find out when the RCMP will be able to be in our home. And the lights go off, followed by a huge crash and glass breaking. And then my first thought is oh my…

CO: This is like a horror movie.

HS: Oh, it is. Of course, you grow up watching movies about you know people breaking in, you're waking up and someone is over your bed. So at that point when the lights went off, and you could hear glass breaking, I thought oh no, they know we're here and now they're panicking. So we need to get ready. So we grabbed some weapons because our 911 dispatcher’s saying you know get something. And I'm here like we don't have any weapons, it’s my bathroom. She goes nail files. There is this really heavy mirror. It's like a stand-alone little mirror. And I have my nail file. And the dispatcher is saying you can poke someone in the eye with those, you're going for the eyes. So now, we're in this tiny little closet with the door closed.

CO: Armed with a nail file and a mirror. So what was the dispatcher saying at this point as to when help would arrive?

HS: You could actually tell she was very agitated and she's saying it's going to be five more minutes. And then she says not an invasion. Literally, I swear to God, moments later. I'm going like how could he possibly assess the situation that fast and tell me there's no one in this house? And then she goes it's like not an invasion, it's a sinkhole. You need to get out of the house.

CO: Where was the sinkhole?

HS: So the sinkhole had opened up underneath our mudroom. Our mudroom disappeared. Our dining room, we have this massive dining room table that can hold 10 fairly easily. The floor gave way, so our dining area had slid into this abyss. And also, the first part of our garage, we have a double garage, so luckily my vehicle was parked in the second and furthest bay, so that hadn't slid in yet. And if my husband had been home, his car would have been in the sinkhole.

CO: And so how did you get out of the house?

HS: So now that we know there's a sinkhole, I'm thinking like a small sinkhole or whatever. So the dispatcher’s saying he's saying you need to pick the exit furthest from the garage and that's our front door. So as we're coming down the stairs, remember it's complete pitch dark. All we have is Julia’s little cell phone flashlights. And we just turned to the side because the RCMP lights are going through the dining room and we can see the floor has given away and there's just this gaping hole. And we got out as quickly as we could through the front door.

CO: So this is about by about 4:00 in the morning. In the light of day, what could you see of your house?

HS: So looking from the front of the house, it’s almost like the house and the garage are supporting one another. Like it's an attached garage, but the house is brick and the garage is like more vinyl white siding and they're literally kind of propping each other up, over this gaping hole.

CO: And did you get your things out? Did you get things before they sink into the ground? Valuables you wanted to retrieve?

HS: So yes, well were lucky, although we didn't make wise decisions as we were fleeing our home, a couple of firefighters went into the house for us. And so they grabbed our passports, they got like my jewelry, they grabbed the photo albums, he could see there were photo albums and family pictures and he grabbed as much as he could out of the safe room.

CO: Well, the most important thing is that you and your daughter are OK.

HS: Honestly, it's amazing. Our new mantra in this Strickey family is, “It’s things, not people. We're going to be OK.” It's as simple as that. Things are things; they are replaceable. Humans aren't.

CO: Heather, it's an extraordinary story and I'm so glad that you and your daughter are safe.

HS: Thank you so much.

CO: Take care. Bye bye.

HS: Alright. Bye bye.

JD: We reached Heather Strickey in Windsor, Nova Scotia.

[Music: Ambient]

Crime dollhouses

Guest: Ariel O’Connor

JD: At first glance, they look like ordinary doll houses. But if you look more closely, you will see miniature crime scenes, laid out in gruesome detail. One shows a janitor discovering a woman dead in her apartment. In another, a man appears to have hung himself in his barn. The so-called “nutshells” were created decades ago by Frances Glessner Lee, a philanthropist known as “the godmother of forensic science.” And they are still used as teaching tools today. But they have worn out over the years. And now, they are being refurbished by the Smithsonian, so they can be put on display. Ariel O'Connor is restoring the doll houses. We reached her in Washington, D.C.

CO: Ms. O'Connor, you have spent weeks working on these little crime scenes. Do you have a favorite? Is there one of these little demos that captures your imagination?

ARIEL O’CONNOR: Her attention to detail in all of the dramas is unbelievable. So I find myself attracted to small portions of detail that may or may not be important in each scene. But my favorite one so far is a storefront window in one called “Saloon in Jail” and tiny magazines are perfectly replicated from the 1940s. And there's even a glass jar full of hand-wrapped small lollipops.

CO: And what's the crime scene there?

AO: The crime scene there is a two part crime scene: on the left, there is a saloon and you see a candy store window on one side and a bar on the other. When your eye gazes down at the sidewalk, you notice there's a gentleman that's laying on his front, holding a lunchbox and strewn about him are small cigarettes and newspapers and even a banana peel. And when you gaze to the right, there is a jail. So it's a two part scene and you see him in the jail again with blood pool next to his face.

CO: And these are real-life crimes. Each of these dramas — these little doll houses — this is actually a crime that actually happened.

AO: That's correct. They’re crimes that actually happened. Or, in some cases, they're composites of multiple crimes. The place that she set them and the details of the scenes — the outside and inside — that's all from her imagination.

CO: She being Frances Glessner Lee?

AO: That's correct. Frances Glessner Lee is the woman who built these.

CO: Why did she do it?

AO: She, from a young age, was fascinated with the world of forensic science and she grew up in Chicago. She was born in 1878 to a very wealthy family. She was an heiress. And she was very interested in law or medicine, but really at that time women didn't go to college. So her brother went to Harvard Medical School and she got married young. And it was not a very happy marriage. So she divorced in 1914. And by the time she had inherited her family fortune in the 1930s, she was 58-years-old and she changed the focus of her life and decided to change the world of legal medicine.

CO: In what way?

AO: She donated a sizable portion of her fortune to found Harvard's department of legal medicine. Snd one of her brothers good friends was a doctor and a Boston medical examiner by the name of George Burgess McGrath. And she and Dr. McGrath really worked together to found this Department of Legal Medicine and completely changed the way that detectives investigated crime scenes. She truly made forensic investigation a scientific process.

CO: You mentioned the details that she worked with and she tried to recreate one. This one scene you just described with the cigarettes scattered around. I mean she used real tobacco in those cigarettes, didn't she. She did. And as an art conservator, part of my job is to make sure that all of her details are stable and can travel. But I'm also investigating how she's made many of these items. And that's correct, every tiny cigarette is hand-rolled.

CO: Can you describe some others? There’s one in particular that is quite macabre. It's called “Barn”, I think. Tell us what's going on there?

AO: Yes, “Barn” is one of the largest structures and it's viewable completely in the round. And you see a barn made of very weathered wood, which actually came from her property in New Hampshire. She had her carpenter take old barn wood and split it. So it's about a millimeter thin and glue two pieces together. So it looks like it's worn wood on both sides. So you gaze through the bar and you see this beautiful idyllic sunset in the Franconia Mountains, it's an actual photograph that's hidden in the back. And then you look to the left and there's a man hanging. And he would have been standing on a crate, but you can see that the crate has been punched through and he's hanging inside the crate.

CO: The ones I have looked — the ones that are online — your first glance is that they are kind of charming and playful like doll houses and they're so detailed. You mentioned the crafts she used like the knitted stockings and the little embroideries and the wallpaper that's there and the pictures hanging on the walls. And then you look closely and there's blood smeared, there's corpses everywhere, little doll corpses, I mean they are they are so beautiful and yet macabre at the same time, aren't they?

AO: That's true. There's one room in particular that your description made me think of and it's a “nutshell” that's also in the round called “Three Room Dwelling”. And there's a baby's room and you look at the baby's room and it looks idyllic. There's pink-striped wallpaper and a blue checkerboard floor. There's a small rocking horse on a table and you can see a teddy bear laying on the floor that she hand-knit with straight pins and a magnifying glass. And the knitting is so tiny she would only be able to knit a few seconds at a time before she had to rest her eyes. And you look at this idyllic room and then you look at the white crib in the corner. And the first thing you notice is that there's blood spatter on the pink wallpaper above and the baby has also been shot.

CO: And she built these so painstakingly that they actually cost as much as a real house would have cost at the time, is that right?

AO: That's right. She built them at her estate in New Hampshire called “The Rocks”. And she had a carpenter that worked with her full time. And each one costs several thousand dollars and took many months to complete.

CO: And now, as you mentioned, they're very disturbing when you get up close to them. What are you hoping people take away from this? What do you hope when they go to the exhibit they'll actually experience?

AO: As a conservator, I hope that people will see what I'm able to see as I'm working on these, which is her incredible level of detail and the amount of care and effort and skill that went into creating these so that they are as lifelike as possible. And they all do have solutions. But it's not about figuring out the solution that she had for the “nutshell”. It's really about using your powers of observation to try to guess and to try to see what's happening in the scene.

CO: It's fascinating. Ms O'Connor, thank you.

AO: You're very welcome. Thank you for having me.

JD: Ariel O'Connor is a conservator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. We reached her in Washington, D.C. The exhibition begins in October at the museum's Renwick gallery, it is called “Murder Is Her Hobby: Francis Glessner Lee and the Nutshells Studies of Unexplained Death.” And if you'd like to see some photographs of some of those Dollhouse crime scenes, go to our website: www.cbc.ca/aih.

[Music: Ambient]

Walter Becker obit

JD: In a 2008 interview, songwriter and guitarist Walter Becker talked about hearing Steely Dan songs on classic rock radio. He said quote, “That's sort of what we wanted to do. Conquer from the margins, sort of find our place in the middle based on the fact that we were creatures of the margin and of alienation. naturally that's very satisfying to us to hear that something has slipped through the cracks.” Now, if you just read the lyrics to Steely Dan songs, you might feel that they… well they couldn't possibly be hits. and you might also feel a bit icky because often they were populated by deluded jerks and losers. But they were designed to slip through the cracks. They were composed expertly. They were polished in the studio and they slid neatly into pop playlists and you had to listen very, very closely to hear the weirdness. Walter Becker, one half of Steely Dan, died yesterday. He was 67-years-old. Mr. Becker and Donald Fagan released “Can't Buy a Thrill” in 1972. That was their first album as Steely Dan. And it was full of classics like “Reelin’ in the Years” and “Do It Again”. But there were clues that they weren't just a regular pop band. Among them: Mr. Fagan's sardonic vocals, the complicated lyrics and the fact that the band was named after a sex toy in William Burroughs’s “Naked Lunch”. And over the eight studio albums that followed, Steely Dan's music became even more sophisticated, their lyrics got even darker and even weirder and they got more and more popular. Walter Becker co-wrote all the music, he contributed about half the lyrics to all those songs about deluded losers. Including one that he said was about, quote, “A broken dream of a broken man living a broken life.” Unquote. Not that you'd know that unless you listen closely.

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Part 2: Rohingya crisis, North Korea: seismologist

Rohingya crisis

Guest: Tej Thapa

JD: Stop the violence. That is the message being sent urgently to the political leaders of Myanmar, also known as Burma, as the plight of the Rohingya Muslim minority of that country continues to worsen. In the past month, hundreds have been killed in clashes between Rohingya insurgents and Myanmar's military. Tens of thousands of people have fled over the border from Rakhine state into Bangladesh. But many remain trapped in Myanmar. They have no food, water, or medicine and Myanmar's de facto leader, the Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, is being singled out for criticism over her country's failure to protect the Rohingya. Tej Thapa is a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch. She is near the border with Myanmar's Rakhine state. In Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh.

CO: Ms. Thapa, as people come over that border, what are they telling you about what's going on in Rakhine state?

TEJ THAPA: Well, the story we get is very troubling. But it does follow a pattern of what we've heard before in October 2016 and earlier in 2013-2012. Security forces aided in part by local Rakhine people assault a village and systematically cleanse the village of the Rohingya people. Largely what we hear is villages are attacked, initially with fire arms followed in by some kind of mortar, and then setting their villages on fire to ensure that people do not come back.

CO: And as you pointed out, we have been covering the story of this kind of ethnic cleansing in Rakhine state for some time and within Myanmar. But there does seem to be an acceleration of this. Can you tell as far as what you know, because we know that the authorities are not allowing aid agencies or journalists to get in there to see for themselves. What do you understand is has happened in recent days?

TT: So this started basically around August 25th. What we're seeing the number of people who are fleeing across the border in this short period of time is much greater than what we saw when the last set of attacks began in October 2016. It's quite startling, you have to be on the ground to witness the grief and the anxiety and the bewilderment. In the past refugees wanted to go back, that's where their land was, that's where the cattle was, that's where their homes were. Now, we're seeing a level of fear that is greater than that. Today alone, I witnessed several villages being set on fire directly across the border from Bangladesh. So that seems to suggest a more determined effort to try and keep the Rohingya out this time.

CO: You said you could see the villages. Your organization, Human Rights Watch, you’ve released satellite photos of one particular village as an example. Can you tell us what those images show?

TT: What we've been able to figure out, and this is true he detecting satellite imagery. So we've been able to figure out that at least seven hundred houses, which constitutes about 99 per cent of the entire village, were set on fire. And that's consistent with testimony that we're hearing from witnesses and refugees who have fled out from other parts of northern Rakhine state.

CO: The Myanmar authorities and the Army is saying that it's the Rohingya themselves. It's the terrorists, as they call them, who are setting the villages on fire. What do you say to them?

TT: The first thing I would say to them is let independent monitors come in. Let journalists come in. Let the U.N. fact finding mission come in. Why close off the entire area? We are willing to consider the possibility. No one has been in there. No one has found the facts yet. We're relying on satellite imagery, we’re relying on witness accounts, but we're not getting independent experts in there. So the first thing I would say to the Burmese government, or the Myanmar government, is let independent fact finders come in and let journalists come in.

CO: But we've heard from the de facto leader of Myanmar, who is Aung San Suu Kyi, last week she said well that the aid agencies are aiding the terrorists, there giving them food, they're giving them protection, they're giving them sustenance. So since they're saying that they don't trust those agencies how do you respond to that? Is that part of the tension that you're that you're dealing with?

TT: I mean this is a standard response that we hear from a lot of countries where we try to get access. We hear that from the Syrian government, we hear that from you know the Libyan government, the Sri Lankan government. Our response is well, show us the evidence. We're happy to answer all of these questions and all of these accusations. We are not, of course, in cohorts with any insurgency group or an independent group.

CO: Based on their claim that the aid agencies are aiding and abetting the terrorists. We’re hearing reports that Myanmar is blocking United Nations aid to the Rohingya in that area. What effect is that having on people there, who are I guess attempting to stay?

TT: I mean it's deeply disturbing. From what we understand, the people who are still there who are trapped behind mountain ranges and through places, which are blocked by the army, these are people who fled their homes, often in the middle of the night with very little possessions. I have seen people come over the border with nothing but a small sack of rice. You know it's devastating and it's just another indication that this government is determined to keep these people out, to make it uninhabitable for the Rohingya, to create no incentive for them. They're burning their villages and destroying their homes and now they're starving them. It's unconscionable.

CO: And speaking of the Burmese government, we know that Aung San Suu Kyi has been a celebrated figure around the world as a champion of human rights. That she's a Nobel laureate and her fellow Nobel laureate, Malala Yousufzai, called on Aung San Suu Kyi to stop the violence. What do you think Aung San Suu Kyi should do? What role should she be playing at this point in your view?

TT: I mean, frankly, we've been very disappointed by Aung San Suu Kyi’s position on the whole issue. I mean I hope that she's humiliated or a little bit humbled at least at minimum by a 20-year-old Malala Yousufzai calling on her to give equal citizenship rights to the Rohingya and to treat them properly. It shouldn't have to come to this. But it's been a serious disappointment.

CO: And do you think Malala Yousufzai can shame her into doing that?

TT: I don't think there is much that can shame Aung San Suu Kyi at this point. I wish there were. What I hope is that the fact finding mission — the U.N. fact finding mission — is able to do their investigation and to produce an independent report that will then carry international community forward into some kind of United Nations center to force the Burmese government to treat the Rohingya properly.

CO: It sounds like you're disappointed in some Aung San Suu Kyi.

TT: Yes, we definitely are disappointed. That's a bit of an understatement.

CO: Ms. Thapa, I appreciate speaking with you. Thank you.

TT: My pleasure.

JD: Taj Thapa is a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch. We reached her in Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh, which is near the border with Myanmar's Rakhine state. For more on the story go to our website: www.cbc.ca/aih.

[Music: Electronica]

John Ashbery obit

JD: He mixed the high and the low, the colloquial and the impenetrable. And overlong and remarkable career, John Ashbery became one of America's most celebrated poets. He won almost every honor available to writers of verse, including the Pulitzer, The National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle prize. And that was just in one year, for his 1975 collection “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.” John Ashbery died yesterday. He was 90-years-old. Mr. Ashbery was also lauded here in Canada. In 2008, he won the International Griffin Poetry Prize for his collection “Notes From the Air.” At the awards ceremony, he read a poem from the book.


[Sound: Clapping]

JOHN ASHBERY: Interesting people of Newfoundland. Actually I think in Canada you say “New-found-land”. In the States we tend to say “New-Finland”, but I'm not sure if that's true. OK. Well, I won't change my pronunciation until later. Newfoundland is, or was, full of interesting people. Like Larry who would make a fool of himself on street corners for a nickel. There was a Russian who called himself the “Grand Duke” and who was said to be a real duke from somewhere and the woman who frequently accompanied him on his rounds. Doc Hanks the Saw Bones was a real good surgeon… when he wasn't completely drunk, which was most of the time. When only half-drunk, he could perform decent cranial surgery. There was the blind man who never said anything, but produced spectral sounds on a musical saw. There was Walshes with its fancy grocery department. What a treat when mother or father would take us down there, skidding over slippery snow and ice to be rewarded with a rare fig from somewhere. They had teas from every country you can imagine and hard, little cakes from Scotland. Rare sherries and madeiras to reward the aunts and uncles who came dancing. On summer evenings, as in the eternal light, it was a joy just to be there and think. We took long rides into the countryside, but were always stopped by some bog or other. Then it was time to return home, which was OK with everybody. Each of them having discovered he or she could use a little shut eye. In short, there was a higher per capita percentage of interesting people there than almost anywhere on earth. But the population was small, which meant not too many interesting people. But for all that we loved each other and had interesting times picking each other's brain and drying nets on them wooden docks. Always some more of us would come along. It isn't the place in the world in complete beauty as none can gainsay I declare and strong frontiers to collide with. Worship of the chthonic powers may well happen there, but is seldom in evidence. We loved that too. As we were part of all that happened, the evil and the good and all the shades in between. Happy to pipe up at roll call, or compete in the spelling bees. It was too much of a good thing, but at least it's over now. They are making a pageant out of it one of them told me. It's coming to a theater near you.

JD: That was John Ashbery reading his poem “Interesting People of Newfoundland” at the Griffin Poetry Prize ceremony in Toronto in 2008. John Ashbery died yesterday. He was 90-years-old.

[Music: Sombre]

North Korea: seismologist

Guest: Steven Gibbons

JD: On Sunday, a magnitude-six earthquake rippled through the Korean peninsula. The tremors were detected around the world. They were, however, not natural. The shaking was caused by North Korea’s latest underground nuclear test. And it was a big one. The country claims it was a hydrogen bomb and that would be a significant and frightening leap forward for the country's bomb makers. And the news of the test jolted Steven Gibbons awake… literally. He's a seismologist with Norway's monitoring agency NORSAR. We reached him in Oslo.

CO: Mr. Gibbons, where were you when you got the first news of this nuclear test?

STEVEN GIBBONS: I was in bed. As North Korea test nuclear weapons in the morning or mid-day North Korean time. Unfortunately, that is in the middle of the night or very, very early morning Norwegian time. So I always have to have my phone by my bedside. And whenever one of our automatic detectors picks up a signal from North Korea, my phone rings and wakes me up. And that happened very abruptly on Sunday morning, at a point in time when I really wanted several more hours in bed. And I suddenly realized that that wasn't going to happen.

CO: And it was around 5:00 a.m. in Oslo. And so you looked at your phone. What were your first thoughts?

SG: Well, my first thoughts when the alarm rings I get some e-mails, which have a lot of numbers in them, which are generated by the processes. I have to read these numbers very quickly to decide whether it's a real event or a false alarm. And just one glance at these numbers made it completely obvious that, firstly, this was a real North Korea event and it was a very, very big North Korean nuclear event.

CO: You went on Twitter and you composed a very short tweet that went around the world. And can you can you repeat that for us?

SG: I think it was, “Oh [censored].” I think this has been interpreted as a sort of philanthropic and idealistic tweet and being absolutely terrified for the future of the world. And that's largely correct, but there was also a selfish element of my Sunday is now ruined in it. And I don’t know if that many people have picked up on that?

CO: Well, I think a lot of Sundays were ruined and with good reason because as someone retweeted that, as it was retweeted many places, but they added, “The people you do not want to hear say ‘oh, f-word’.” You don't want to hear it from a trauma surgeon and you do not want to hear it from a seismologist who is monitoring underground nuclear explosions.

SG: That's absolutely right. I mean the event didn't come as a surprise in a sense. We had been warned, or there's been a lot of speculation that there was going to be a new kind of weapon — a thermonuclear device, which hadn’t been tested yet. I mean they have claimed that before. In January 2016, there was also this claim that they had about a thermonuclear device, but the seismic data didn't really support it. The event which happened on January 6, 2016, was actually slightly smaller than the previous nuclear test in 2013, so we didn't really buy it. But this time the numbers were very, very different. This was a much, much, much bigger explosion and we realized that what they're saying about having a new type of weapon is very, probably, the truth.

CO: Well, a test of this nature of an N-bomb certainly justified the F-bomb and you dropped it. But, at the same time, you said the numbers were very alarming. Because I know there are other things you need to do to really know what it is that North Korea tested underground. How large do you think this bomb was?

SG: Well absolutely, I mean our estimates of yield are in the range of a hundred to a hundred and fifty kilotons. Now the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, they’re estimated to be about 15 and 20000 kilotons respectively. So we're talking six-seven times bigger than Hiroshima. So we're talking about a horrifically destructive weapon here.

CO: There have been reports that it may have been a hydrogen bomb. Can you tell us what that would mean if it was an H-bomb?

SG: Well, an H-bomb essentially it can almost have unlimited yield in a sense. Under the fission bomb, your kind of limited amount of material it can carry. Where as an H-bomb you can have absolutely enormous yields and so this is sort of the horror scenario. These are fusion reactions and this is a game changer.

CO: In what way a game changer?

SG: Because I think the H-bomb is sort of the ultimate goal of the North Korean regime and they wanted to develop compact warheads that they could put on delivery systems. And that a very intense campaign of testing intercontinental ballistic missiles and the success rate of these tests has increased enormously over last few years. At the start, almost all the tests were seen to fail, but they're getting there and essentially training for military operation now. And with the nuclear test carried out, they are also demonstrating that they have the weapons capability. So the only question mark now is can all the warheads be able to be put in the missiles? And they can then it's a dangerous situation.

CO: And neither Norway, nor Canada, neither your country nor mine, is likely that the target for North Korea if it should actually try to launch a bomb. But what consequences might there be for other countries because the fallout from something like this if they did launch a bomb of this nature?

SG: And nuclear warfare will essentially always be global. Just in this sense, there is fallout and displacement of people. I think any nuclear event in the world would be a global issue immediately. So I think it's in the interest of every country to oppose the testing of nuclear weapons.

CO: Alright. Mr. Gibbons, we'll leave it there. I appreciate speaking with you. Thank you.

SG: Thank you very much. Bye bye.

CO: Bye bye.

JD: Steven Gibbons is a seismologist who monitors North Korea's nuclear tests. We reached him in Oslo. And for more on the story, do check out our website: ww.cbc.ca

[Music: Hip-hop]

Old wine

JD: Wine drinkers, it is officially safe to go back to the 4th millennium B. C. and I say that because of a report in the latest issue of the Microchemical Journal. Davide Tanasi, an archaeologist at the University of South Florida, and his team were looking into terracotta jars found in a Sicilian cave in 2012. And what they found was cream of tartar, which is, apparently, the telltale residue left over by really old wine. And that is important because the discovery suggests winemaking, and by extension wine drinking, began much earlier than previously thought in southern Italy. Sicilian wine making expert Alessio Planeta says the discovery, quote, “fills us with joy. Before this, we used to think Sicily's wine culture arrived with the island's colonization by the ancient Greeks.” Unquote. A statement from the University of South Florida says that the researchers still don't know whether the wine was white or red? Most experts seem to think it was probably a spicy red. Well, then again, humans had just begun domesticating chickens 6,000 years ago, so discriminating Neolithic diners might have preferred a minerally white to pair with the chicken. Either way, the caves where the jars were found are known to have been gathering spots, and so it seems unlikely that this wine was drunk alone.

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Part 3: Journalist Catherine Mayer feature interview

Journalist Catherine Mayer feature interview

Guest: Catherine Mayer

JD: Catherine Mayer is taking on a giant. A giant that was once her employer. The veteran British journalist claims that TIME Inc. Pushed her out of her job as TIME’s Europe editor. And she says it's because she's a woman. And she has filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court claiming sexism and ageism at the global media company. Ms. Mayer is also the co-founder of the U.K. Women's Equality Party. She has written about her experiences and what she calls, quote, “the truth about global inequality for women.” In her latest book “Attack of the Fifty Foot Women: How Gender Equality Can Save the World.” The book is being released this week in North America. Catherine Mayer joined us from our London studio.

CO: Catherine Mayer, hello and welcome.


CO: I want to talk, obviously, about this book and about your lawsuit. But I want to just ask you because this does take us back, doesn't it, some decades. When you first started as a journalist, in the early part of your career, what did you anticipate? What did you think was going to be like being a woman in a newsroom?

CM: In a way, I should take you back even slightly before then. In spite of the accent that you hear, I'm actually American-born and had been brought up in an American family. And with that belief in the American dream to the extent that you know you believe that anyone can be president. And, obviously, America is proving that in ways we never anticipated right at the moment. But I also grew up in a feminist household and I grew up assuming that gender equality was almost there. That it was tantalizingly close. So it wasn't until really after I left university, then starting at work as a journalist, that I discovered that I was not the equal citizen that I believed myself to be.

CO: And that would be what year?

CM: I went to work at The Economist by dint of taking a cash-in-hand job logging orders for those giant leather desk diaries that they have. And while I was there, somebody noticed I could write and I ended up in the marketing department. And then I applied for a job in editorial from the marketing department, not realizing that this was not something that people normally did. And also not understanding that being female and being American were only two of the disadvantages. I also had not gone to Oxford, or Cambridge, or the sort of accepted public schools. And in the UK, particularly in that sort of upmarket journalism in the UK, the staff are drawn from these exceptionally narrow bases. It's not just that they're affluent white men; they're affluent white men who've come to the same schools and universities.

CO: Again, what year is this?

CM: 83-84.

CO: And a considerable amount of sexism in a newsroom and a newsroom culture. And so how did you deal with that?

CM: Well, but I was blindsided by it. I mean that's the funny thing. In a way I think I was protected by my naivety for a while because you know even applying for that job was an extraordinarily naïve thing to do. And then I didn't realise until later and I discovered that people had objected to my appointment. But I also discovered that the man who gave me that first job had decided that he fancied me, or was in love with me, or whatever else. And I found that out because he put a letter to that effect in my handbag. I then had to spend a weekend thinking about how to deal with this? And I marched in on the Monday morning and I said we're never going to speak about this again. But at that stage, there weren't the kind of structures within the organisation that I thought that there was anybody I could talk to about the problem. And that experience both about the sexism in terms of whether women were any good at the sorts of jobs that I was wanting to do, so journalism in areas like politics and business and possibly conflict reporting and whatever. But also the sort of fairly endemic sexual harassment, not just from colleagues, but of course, you would go to interview people and very often find yourself being propositioned or just sort of wildly inappropriate things said and no real recourse to deal with that.

CO: And that would seem to be I mean any woman who is working in that culture during the 80s and later would be able to corroborate that. But if someone told you that you would still be having these conversations and that there'd still be the same the same problems in 2017. If someone had told you that in the 1980s, would you would you have laughed?

CM: Yes, I would. I really thought that it was just one more push and then we were there. And then what happens is that because you do manage to navigate the system, you think that because you are surviving in spite of these difficulties that that must be what's happening with other people. And it takes a while to look around and notice that other people are not fairing so well and to start understanding what the mechanisms are that are not only impacting you, but impacting other people in far worse and more serious ways.

CO: I just want to ask you about your lawsuit because it alleges that TIME Inc, your former employer, let you go because of what you've described in the suit as TIME's fraud retaliation and culture of male cronyism. What was it like for you? You were Europe editor at TIME and this this is in your final years of the company, which is just recently — we’re not talking about the 1980s here.

CM: No, that’s right. I joined TIME in 2004 as a senior editor and I was very quickly promoted to London bureau chief. And from there to Europe editor and that sort of the point at which it really began to go wrong. I'm not suggesting that there weren't issues before then, because there is a kind of endemic sexism in that organization, as I think by the way in all news organizations. But then what happened was that when I was promoted to Europe editor, there was the decision to recast the role to keep my writing abilities rather than as people had performed the role before as primarily a commissioning and editing position. And so there was the idea that there would be additional staff in London to make that happen. That then got boiled down to one man sent in as my deputy. And that man eventually ousted me. There are quite a lot of things that happened in there. It's been very interesting because as a result of the suit, that we had put in a Freedom of Information request and got some of the documentation relating to my supposed redundancy. And it's very interesting because I spent the whole time feeling like I was being forced out, but not really being able to put a name to this. And I've now seen the emails that were being sent by people in the company discussing ways to make it look like a redundancy. So it is very interesting from that point of view, but of course, the other thing that happened I wasn't intending to go public with the suit. It's just that because it is a lawsuit in the federal court it is publicly viewable and a news service there picked it up. And then at that point, I did talk to The Observer newspaper here and then other people have been interested. But since the suit first came to public attention, what has happened is that people have been getting in touch. And some of the people are just getting in touch to say this is happening to us. You have in some way helped us to understand this process that we are subject to. And yet, it is sometimes so hard to understand if you're in the middle of it.

CO: What process are they referring to?

CM: Well, I mean somebody used the phrase when I read your complaint I thought I was reading my own story.

CO: These are women who work in media?

CM: In media, but also interestingly people have come forward offering to be witnesses to what happened to me and to a similar pattern of behavior by the person who came over as my deputy, then went on to Newsweek and then ascended to global editor in chief of Newsweek. And there are people saying that very much the same thing happened under his aegis at Newsweek. So you know it's very interesting. There is always this instinct not to speak out. There's always this instinct to try and make things work without causing a fuss. And I absolutely admit I probably would not have gone public with this if I had had a choice. But in going public, it seems to have enabled a conversation that was very important. As well as potentially bringing new witnesses for my own case.

CO: You're listening to As It Happens on CBC Radio One. And I'm speaking with Catherine Mayer, journalist and author who is suing TIME Inc for alleged sex and age discrimination. And I will point out that the company TIME Inc has said that the allegations, this is a quote, “The allegations are untrue and wholly without merit. We are going to vigorously defend them and we will do so in court, not in the press.” That's the statement from TIME Inc. And how difficult is it going to be for you to actually prove that these things happened to you? That you were fired for reasons of the fact that you were being discriminated against?

CM: Well, that's why the repeating pattern of behavior is certainly interesting. But where I will agree with TIME on this in a way is that I'm very happy to defend this in court, rather than trying to argue it with you. Because we have very, very large amounts of evidence to that effect and witness statements to that effect. I don't think anybody would dispute that I was very badly treated. But your question is whether this is as a result of sex and age discrimination. And there is a great deal of evidence to that effect. But I mean just to give you an example of the sort of treatment at the point where I first learned that I was being stripped of my duties as Europe editor and sort of sidelined into another job, from which I was then forced into this so-called redundancy, which was nothing of the kind. They managed to send out an e-mail to everybody in editorial talking about if you are in this part of the world this is the person you go to commission articles, whereas if you're in this part of the world you go to this editor. And my name wasn't there. The name of this deputy was there and then I read it right the way down the bottom and it was Oh, and if you want to commission a piece from Catherine, this is the editor you go to.

CO: And that's how you found out?

CM: That's literally how I found out.

CO: You pointed out just a moment ago you said that when you did start at time that you were quickly promoted up the ranks, you did quite well. There was no one slipping love letters into your purse and harassing you the way you and many others and me learned that newsrooms functioned in the 1980s. Things had changed a lot. So it has improved, right? I mean that is the argument I'm sure you're hearing as many as you're getting letters from women saying this is exactly my story. How many times do you hear from people, including women, who say I don't get it? You know everything's just fine now.

CM: I have not yet heard from any women who say everything's fine now. I think that there is not even necessarily that much less harassment. It's just as I say that there are now rules to deal with it. But I was kind of joking about that with somebody the other day because covering politics, I covered Westminster for a long time, I was saying to them you know you think when you get to a certain age one of the advantages you may start encountering ageism, but at least you're not going to be harassed the same way. And then you realize that in Westminster, there will always be somebody old enough to think it's a good idea to harass you.

CO: It's also something that journalists don't like to be is the story, right? Not the center of attention. You mentioned that the media has picked up on the fact that you're suing TIME Inc. And that this has become now something you are talking about in the media, including with us. So what is it going to be like for you to be in this public fight in a way that you are becoming the story?

CM: Oh yeah, deeply unpleasant. I mean it's not that life was a bed of roses before in terms of you know the usual stuff. Being a woman in the public eye to any extent, as you will know, we all get trolled. We all have to deal with a certain amount of just reflex hostility. But in this case, one of the reasons you don't want to do it is because you know I was it time from 2004 to 2015, I have and had many good friends there. This is not something that you want to cut across your personal relationships. You also are very aware that in being the person who stands up and makes the fuss, a lot of people see you as the problem and not the things you are talking about.

CO: Which is the argument that you give in the book and elsewhere that this is what women are trained not to do is to make a fuss.

CM: Exactly. And for many years, I think if you had asked me about aspects of myself that I was proud of I would have been proud to be a good employee and a good colleague, somebody who got on with things, who got the job done, who solved problems rather than creating them. But the problem with that, of course, is that does mean that this is one of the ways in which women also unintentionally help to perpetuate systems that are keeping them down. It is precisely because we do that.

CO: You're listening to As It Happens on CBC Radio One and I'm speaking with Catherine Mayer, journalist and author of “Attack of the Fifty Foot Women.” And I want to ask you about the book, because it’s not about the lawsuit. It's about what you have observed as a woman now getting into politics. It covers a wide range of issues in the UK and United States and Canada and around the world for women in the workforce. And you say in this book that you think that women need a new manifesto. What are you talking about there?

CM: Well, I think that we all were brought up to this notion of progress as being something linear and unstoppable. And to a greater or lesser extent, we were sold a pup. Because what we can now see quite clearly, and I don't like to thank Donald Trump for anything, but we can thank him for this one thing that it is very obvious to see that progress can indeed be rolled back very fast and the stalling in other ways and in other places. And the ways in which we confront that are often deficient because the political means for confronting it are themselves deficient. I mean one of the things is that in all the countries the old parties have certain amounts of bias conscious and unconscious built into them against women, against minority perspectives and the systems themselves are self-perpetuating. So what I have come to understand is that we need to see what the mechanisms of that are holding us back to understand that in so doing they are damaging absolutely everybody. So there are very powerful arguments of self-interest to be made not just for women, but in fact, for men too about why we need to fix this and fix it properly.

CO: And that's one of your main points is that it's an economic argument, isn't it? That equality makes economic sense. But you know, at the same time, the argument you make in the book reminds me of what they often said about art galleries and theatres that you know while they're valuable to us because they generate revenue. That you know restaurants make money and the city makes money on parking. There's no intrinsic value to these things and to having culture in your city. It’s economic factors. I mean is that not a dangerous argument to defend women being in an equal place in the workplace because it's the right thing to do and not because it makes some kind of an economic sense?

CM: Well, the good thing is that those things are aligned. And yes, I agree one shouldn't have to make the argument to men that this is in their own self-interest. But one of the mechanisms holding women back, perhaps the biggest one, is men. You know it is this notion and it's both explicit and implicit. You know there are a lot of men who fear the rise of women because they see it as a zero sum game and they mistakenly assume that as women thrive that they will do less well. And so it is helpful to vigorously counter that, only because they so effectively stand against change. But also you know in what we were talking about with journalism before. One of the reasons I think what happened to me at TIME and what happens in journalism in terms of its utter lack of diversity. Why that matters is because it means that the journalism you end up with is not making these cases properly. It is misunderstanding the arguments or missing them. You know things that are mistakenly understood to be women's issues and then get relegated to women's programming. That, for example, perpetuates the idea that child care is an issue for women, as opposed to understanding it as an issue for everyone and as a huge economic issue. One that if you managed to crack, as some of the Scandinavian countries have made great progress through shared parenting properly invested in and proper child care provision, that you can unlock a huge amount of economic growth, as well as all of the social benefits, as well as this being the right thing to do.

CO: But if you make the argument that it’s in some kind of enlightened self-interest on the part of men and not just men, because a the lot of women voted for Donald Trump. And a lot of women still support that lack of progress, but if you’re saying that they should accept this as something that is of benefit to them is that really a durable argument? At the same time, someone comes along and says well no, it’s not of economic benefit. It’s of economic benefit to do this way. If you can't make the argument that this just makes sense. You know from the point of view of why would you exclude 50 per cent of the population in your business and your enterprises and your economy. And that happens because of all the things you do mentioned: daycare and discrimination and culture and familiarity and all that.

CM: Well, a lot of change that happens happens not because of arguments at all, but happens because of situations forced that change. And so, for example, you see countries where there are labor shortages where they suddenly come alive to the idea that maybe they better look a bit more widely than just that pool of white men they've been drawing on, or companies that are doing really badly. You look at the situation with Uber at the moment, where it has all the reputational damage from having this sort of heavily male-dominated board and horrendously sexist environment. And they are having to change in order to protect themselves as well. So sometimes turbulence is what most effectively forces change and that's something I talk about in the book as well. You know both in terms of the dangers of turbulence because turbulence will hit the people who are most vulnerable the fastest and hardest. But it is also an opportunity. And one of the things I kind of want to say to women around the world at the moment is look at that turbulence as an opportunity to break through, to make change.

CO: You've chosen as the title “Attack of the Fifty Foot Women”, which is based on the 1958 fantasy science fiction movie. Why did you make that connection? Maybe tell us a bit about that.

CM: I was interested and in the book I try and talk about not just the mechanisms holding us back, but the ways in which those mechanisms interlock and the role of the media and wider entertainment in that. And that particular movie is a very funny one because when it came out in 1958, where it's in that case the “Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman” singular, it was an expression of fear about what an empowered woman might do. And in this case, the woman has a close encounter with a space alien, grows to 50 foot tall and immediately goes on the rampage and kills people. There is then a 1993 version of the movie that has instead become a parable of the benefits of female empowerment. It stars Daryl Hannah, when she grows to 50 foot sort of starts smashing the patriarchy and making things better. It's still a terrible movie by the way, but wonderful poster, which has been adapted for the cover of the book.

CO: I agree. I'm speaking with Catherine Mayer, a feminist journalist who is suing TIME Inc. And I want to ask you finally about this next phase of your career. You co-founded the U.K. Women's Equality Party. Why have you moved into the area politics? What are you trying to achieve?

CM: You have to understand that 2015 was a strangely turbulent year and nothing I really did was as planned as you might think. So in March of that year, I published a book — a biography of Prince Charles — which became a bestseller. And it became a bestseller not least because it caused controversy when it appeared and ended up with sort of funny set of incidents with the Clarence House. His people there sort of making threats to me in public and then actually discovering that they liked the book. And by that time, it had sort of become a big news story. That was February of that year. And then in March of that year, I went to a meeting at the Women of the World Festival — the WOW Festival — and it was about women in politics and they were wonderful women on stage. But the whole audience was in this state of utter depression. It was a large audience about 400 people there because Britain was heading into elections and there was no enthusiasm about any of the parties. And, of course, women were nowhere to be seen in any of those parties. And so I stood up and suggested that maybe a Woman's Equality Party would be a good thing. I wasn't suggesting I was going to co-found it. But by the time I got home, social media had decided that is what I had said. And then I contacted my friend Sandi Toksvig, who's a well-known broadcaster here and told her what had happened and she really surprised me by saying but that's my idea! Because she actually is involved in the WOW Festival, as I am. And every year, she closes it with a sort of wonderful, joyous women's event. And this year, she was planning to showcase a sort of fantasy party. And she said to me darling, would you like to be foreign secretary? So instead we co-founded the party together and we've already run in a national general election and in a UK-wide general election. And we also run in mayoral elections and local elections and have grown incredibly fast. But it was not planned. And then, of course by the way, April of that year then marks my departure from TIME. So it was quite a busy year.

CO: But just to go back to the beginning of the interview, we talked about how we you know back in the 1980s would you have expected we would still be having this conversation? You described what inspired your political decision in 2015. I feel the same way. I will turn on the television, be watching a conference, or be attending something and I’m thinking really I took it for granted that by 2017 it wouldn't look like this. That you wouldn't be looking at a G-20 and seeing you know well maybe two women now as opposed to one. Why do you think you mentioned that the progress is fragile and keeps getting rolled back. Why do you think it’s so difficult?

CM: Well, it's going backwards in all sorts of ways. As I said, turbulence offers opportunity. But back on the question of journalism, one of the things that's happening is as journalism itself enters into new waters with the digital revolution and the response to that it is now being documented for example that such diversity as has been achieved is being eroded again. So this is one point is that sometimes what looks like progress is actually just sort of good times expansion and then it gets rolled back. But the much more fundamental point is that so much of this is about gender equality something we're just sort of drifting into anyway, which isn't true. We can now see it isn't true. And the other is that really yes it's important, but is it really that important? There are so many other competing priorities. And you actually have to have that focus. You have to be creating the policies, making people understand. This is the only political party where you can go around and say you know a vote for this party is good for you and it's good for you and it's good for you. This is actually literally going to be better for everyone, except perhaps Donald Trump.

CO: But your capacity for seeing utopia. I mean this is what you write about in the book. You have an imaginary place, Equallia, if I'm pronouncing it the way you would?

CM: Hilariously, The BBC corrected my pronunciation of Equallia the other day. According to the BBC, it's aqualia. But I always pronounced it Equallia, so we’ll stick with that.

OK. But in any event, all things being equal, I mean do you still have that dream? Do you still anticipate that there will be a time when you and I will not be having this conversation?

CM: I do. I really do. And by the way, Equallia is not a utopia. It is both achievable, but it is not perfect. I do not make the argument in my book, in my politics, in anything that women are intrinsically better than men that we would bring about perfection. But it is very obvious that countries that get closer to gender equality have better outcomes in all sorts of ways in happier people more at ease with themselves. So if that sounds Utopian well then I do plead guilty and yes, we can get there.

CO: Catherine Mayer, it's great to talk to you. Thank you.

CM: You’re welcome.

JD: Catherine Mayer is a British journalist and author. She is a former editor at TIME magazine and is now suing TIME Inc for gender and age discrimination. Her latest book, Attack of the Fifty Foot Women: How Gender Equality Can Save The World”, is being released this week in North America. Catherine Mayer was in our London studio. For more on the story, go to our website: which is www.cbc.ca/aih. And a reminder that all month long, CBC Radio is taking a look at the future of work, in a series called “Work Shift”. Everything from strife in the workplace, to artificial intelligence, to climate change. To find out more on that series, go to www.cbc.ca/workshift.


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