Friday May 19, 2017

May 18th, 2017 episode transcript

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The AIH Transcript for May 18, 2017

Hosts: Helen Mann and Jeff Douglas

STORIES FROM THIS EPISODE

Prologue

HELEN MANN: Hello, I'm Helen Mann, sitting in for Carol Off.

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

[Music: Theme]

JD: Tonight:

HM: Understanding the overseer. U.S. President Donald Trump calls the appointment of a special counsel to investigate his campaign's ties with Russia a "witch hunt" – but as our guest explains, there's nothing supernatural about it.

JD: Putting the product together is tearing them apart. When one man started working at the innovative car company Tesla, it seemed like a dream job – but workplace conditions have turned it into a nightmare.

HM: Protection from lack thereof. It's called "stealthing", and it's both disturbing and unethical – but a Wisconsin politician's proposed legislation would make it tantamount to sexual assault.

JD: The rarest, rawest roar. The late Chris Cornell had a voice that could melt your face, or break your heart – and tonight, the man who produced the classic Soundgarden album "Superunknown" remembers the superlative singer.

HM: The opposite of a wake-up. A new study suggests that insufficient sleep has a disastrous effect on your appearance – leaving you with a face that could stop an alarm clock.

JD: And...gut instinct. When three great white sharks wash up in South Africa, missing their livers, one researcher has a visceral reaction – because she believes orcas deliberately ate those organs, and pretty much left the rest.
As It Happens, the Thursday edition. Radio that never fails to de-liver the goods.

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Part 1: Special counsel appointed, 'stealthing' lawmaker, shark livers

Special Counsel

Guest: Peter Zeidenberg

JEFF DOUGLAS: The stakes just keep getting higher.
Last night, the Russia investigation got a new independent handler, when the U-S Justice Department appointed a special counsel. Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein selected former FBI Director Robert Mueller for the job.
Here's what President Donald Trump had to say about the appointment at a press conference earlier today, for the record:

SOUNDCLIP

DONALD TRUMP: Well I respect the move, but the entire thing has been a witch hunt. And that there is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign. But I can't always speak for myself and the Russians. Zero. My total priority, believe me, is the United States of America. So thank you very much.

JD: President Trump at a press conference earlier today he was answering a question about the appointment of a special counsel to investigate possible collusion between Donald Trump's associates his campaign and the Russians.
Peter Zeidenberg was part of the special counsel investigation that led to the prosecution of "Scooter" Libby, a former advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney. We reached Mr. Zeidenberg in Washington, D.C.

HELEN MANN: Mr. Zeidenberg, why do you think a special counsel was appointed in this case?

PETER ZEIDENBERG: Well I think a special counsel was appointed because there was real question given all of the events of the past few months and in particular, the last 10 days, about possible improper influence on an investigation that was going to be conducted by main justice.

HM: What is the role of a special counsel? What did they actually do in layman's terms?

PZ: Well they investigate and prosecute. It's the same as any other prosecutor. The difference is they're insulated somewhat from the day to day running of the Department of Justice so in this case for instance you know obviously the attorney general has recused himself and Rod Rosenstein although nominally has control over this, I think in practice Mueller will essentially be a free agent to do as he seems appropriate.

HM: You still sounded like you might be a little bit skeptical about the distance that the special counsel has from the Justice Department. Are they fully independent from the department and the White House?

PZ: Well no they're not fully independent. Legally Rod Rosenstein has the power to fire the Director Mueller. But you know from a practical standpoint, that's not a concern of mine. You know I'm not laying awake worrying about that. There’s a lot other problems. But before that will come to pass I'm sure.

HM: What kind of problems are you foreseeing?

HM: Well I don't have a problem with the special prosecutor or special counsel I think Mueller’s a great choice and I think he'll do a fine job. My issue is that people just need to understand that the role of the special counsel is not to inform the public as to what's going on, what happened, what they found, what they didn't find, what their beliefs of what happened.
He is not going to do a press conference at the end of this case or do a written or oral report about the case. He's going to either find a prosecutable case and bring that case and that's it or he will find no prosecutable case and just go away and he will not make a public statement or public findings and that's just not satisfactory. So this is not a cure all. There has to be congressional oversight and either a select committee or a 9/11 style commission in my view.

HM: And you think this is important because the public needs to know what's going on, they're hungry to know. We're just used to all these leaks?

PZ: It's absolutely critically important. I mean you can't have a more serious charge that a foreign government may have interfered with the national election to help elect a president. You know yes or no? I mean if no, then you know, the Trump administration should be happy to get that answer out. But it's not going to be discovered or reported by Bob Mueller. That's just not his charge. His charge is to see if there are violations of U.S. criminal law that he can prove in a courtroom beyond a reasonable doubt. It's a much narrower in scope than what a proper and appropriate congressional investigation would be looking at.

HM: So when you talk about a prosecutable case, are you suggesting he might find wrongdoing but not figure he can get any kind of conviction and so it goes away?

PZ: Yes and or you could have a prosecutable case about someone not reporting on their taxes. You could have other cases of peripheral players in this that don't answer the questions that we all as a public want to know.

HM: The president has called just today called this the “single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history.” What do you think of the politics around this Russia investigation?

PZ: Well it's going to drive Trump crazy because he can't control it. But you know we are where we are because, almost entirely because of his own actions. You know because he fired Comey and the way he fired Comey and then his statements about his firing of Comey. He's in a predicament of his own making.

HM: As the special counsel's work begins, it's not the only investigation under way. We still have these Senate and House intelligence committees, the Senate Judiciary Committee, the House Oversight Committee. So a lot of investigating, a lot of potential confusion for those of us watching from the outside. They all have distinctly different roles.

PZ: Well my view is there should be one select committee or as I said, a commission, of Congress not half a dozen competing committees investigating this. I mean it's inefficient and it's confusing and it's just not the best way to get to the bottom of it. They should pool their resources and have one select committee or as I said, a special commission, like a 9/11 style commission to investigate. Now the 9/11 style commission which would be ideal is never going to happen because it requires legislation and there is no way that Trump is ever going to sign any legislation authorizing that, because as you point out, he already says this is a wish hunt.

HM: The special counsel investigation that you took part in it led to the conviction of Scooter Libby. What does your gut tell you about where this one will go?

PZ: I think it's very very hard to predict. I would say from the end of the press accounts and what I've seen, that General Flynn has got real problems. And I think a lot of things are going to emanate from you know sort of circles outside of Flynn.
It's very peculiar how close Trump and Flynn seem to be in the report today that Trump had communicated to Flynn to stay strong. You know if you're a criminal defense attorney, and you find out your client has sent a text or sent a communication like that to a potential target in a criminal case is really really upsetting. That's not what you want your client to be doing.

HM: Peter Zeidenberg thank you for talking with us and taking us through all of this. Appreciate it.

PZ: Happy to. Thank you.

HM: Ok bye.

PZ: All right bye-bye.

JD: Peter Zeidenberg served as assistant special counsel in the prosecution of "Scooter" Libby. We reached him in Washington, D.C. We have more on that story on our website, cbc.ca/aih.

Stealthing lawmaker

Guest: Melissa Sargent

JD: It is known commonly as "stealthing". You may have heard about it in the news recently. And if so, there's a good chance you didn't like hearing about it.
"Stealthing" is the term for when someone removes a condom during sexual intercourse, without the consent of their partner. It gained public attention last month, after a grad student at Yale wrote a journal article about it.
And since then, some lawmakers in the U.S. have proposed legislation that could classify stealthing as sexual assault.
Melissa Sargent is a representative in Wisconsin's State Assembly. We reached her in Madison.

HM: Ms. Sargent, what did you think when you first learned about stealthing?

MELISSA SARGENT: Well quite frankly, when I first learned about stealthing, I was wildly uncomfortable. And I thought, “Hm, what can I do as a state legislator about this?”

HM: For those who don't know, can you tell us a bit more about what it actually is?

MS: Absolutely. First of all it's pretty creepy. But it’s the non-consensual removal of a protective device such as a condom or a diaphragm during a sexual encounter with someone. One partner all on their own is deciding to remove that without the knowledge or consent of the other partner.

HM: So in this proposed legislation you are looking to change the definition of consent in your state. How do you want to see that change?

MS: So my bill that I produced would redefine consent. It would mean that we need to understand that people are agreeing to have intercourse but that the decision to remove that device, without continued conversation, without understanding that we need to be gradual and consistent with checking on consent, would be defined as sexual assault.

HM: Now you mentioned also the removal of a diaphragm. I mean is this primarily aimed at the use of condoms or are you talking about other safe sex devices other things to prevent pregnancy.

MS: Absolutely when I was looking at how it is that I want to address this piece of legislation, this piece of important public policy, I realize that you know it's not necessarily a gender, one gender or another that's the victim or the perpetrator, that we need to be talking about this across gender lines. So male condoms or female condoms, damaging them or removing them.
Diaphragms, cervical caps, contraceptive sponges, dental dams, physical devices that are initially intended to prevent pregnancy or the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. That whole genre is what it is that I'm focusing on this bill.

HM: Are there not already existing laws though that make it illegal for someone who might knowingly expose someone to a sexually transmitted disease?

MS: Certainly. But we're not talking about the intentional transmission of a disease here. What we're talking about is someone who has freely decided to have a sexual encounter with someone under the understanding that there is a protective device being used. And one of the people in that relationship, deciding unilaterally that they're going to remove that device. During one of the most intimate and vulnerable times in someone's life, that someone, one person in a relationship is breaking a contract with another person. And that's really what we're drilling down to.

HM: How do you envision this changing the way that police and the courts might address this issue?

MS: Well certainly I've had a number of folks who have said “You know I'm a police officer and I haven't I've never had anyone report to me that they were stealthed.” And frankly I said, “If they did, what would you say to them? Did you know did you know what that term meant even before this Columbia Journal printed this article and before the press started picking it up?” This is not a new action. Unfortunately this is an action that has been happening for quite some time. But they're not collecting the data. Even victims advocacy groups are not collecting the data because there's been no definition of what stealthing is before. And that's one of the very important parts of my bill is by providing that definition, we’ll be able to get really serious about addressing the frequency and the grievousness of this crime.

HM: So you say that police officers have told you that they don't know of any reports. NBC News spoke with the local police in Madison also about the bill. They also said, in more broad terms, they're really not even familiar with the whole idea of stealthing. If they haven't had a complaint, are you addressing something that may not be as prevalent an issue as your bill might suggest?

MS: Well quite frankly since I've put out this piece of legislation, I can't even count the number of people who have reached out to me and said you know I was the victim of this, and quite frankly it felt wrong at the time but I didn't know what words to put behind it. I didn't know what actions to take and I am so appreciative of the fact that you are taking this on because quite frankly, it's not a matter of whether or not stealthing is happening in our communities, it's whether or not we as a community, we as policymakers, we as a society, are ready to stand up and do something about it.

HM: Do you think there's any risk here that that women might be scared off by the idea if they complain about this it will turn their complaint into a rape charge and they may not actually be comfortable with that.

MS: Well we're adding this into our definitions of sexual assault and certainly there's a wide range of actions under criminal code in regards to sexual assault. So it's important to realize that there's not a specific punishment for someone. It's redefining what consent is in our statutes so that people can be charged. And frankly women and men who have been victimized, whether it's because someone says their top is too tight or they were standing on the wrong street corner or they consented to have sex with someone who ended up removing a protective device. We need to be straight about it. This is assault.

HM: Now what about your own legislature. Do you think you could actually get this passed into law?

MS: I'm going to work damn hard on it. You know folks on both sides of the aisle here in Wisconsin are talking about how to be champions for victims’ rights. And I am hopeful that this is one that folks are able to see as pragmatic. I do know that as a Democrat, as a member of the opposition party, the minority party, that it does make the claim a little bit harder. But that doesn't mean that I'm not going to work tirelessly to make sure that we're doing the right thing for the people of my community.

HM: Ms. Sargent, thank you very much for talking with us.

MS: Thank you.

JD: That was Melissa Sargent of the Wisconsin State Representative, where she is a Wisconsin State Representative rather. We reached her in Madison, Wisconsin. And we have more on this story as well on our website, cbc.ca/aih.

[Music]

Shark livers

Guest: Alison Towner

JD: It happened over the course of a few days this month: three great white sharks washed up dead on the shores of South Africa. The weird part: they were all missing their livers.
A group of researchers got a rare chance to perform autopsies on the sharks. And they say, the sharks were hunted by orcas.
Alison Towner is one of those researchers. She's a white-shark biologist with the Dyer Island Conversation Trust in South Africa. We reached her in Gansbaai.

HM: Ms. Towner, in a blog post about these great whites, you describe one of the wounds as being made with surgical precision. Can you describe the injuries for us?

ALISON TOWNER: Yeah I mean it was absolutely incredible to see a white shark washed up for an autopsy with such an immaculate scar. And when we were able to autopsied animal, we found that it was minus its liver. So yeah we referred to as surgical precision because only an orca can be capable of such dexterity in the [unintelligible] realm.

HM: And this isn't the only example of this occurring recently. What else have you been seeing?

AT: Well prior to this week we've had three events now, three circumstances where white sharks have washed up with huge gaping ruins within their underbelly, and once we've been able to conduct autopsies we've been able to conclude that it was no liver, no organs of the liver that. And so it could only be one predator that elicited such an injury.

HM: Or how did you get to that conclusion. Did you, was it the necropsy or it was just obvious to you?

AT: Well the necropsy was pretty conclusive based on the fact that the animal had no liver. And so we knew that only one predator could be responsible for such an injury. Often with white shark autopsies, it's quite inconclusive. In fact rarely great white sharks wash up dead. I've worked in Gansbaai which is a global hotspot as in terms of an aggregation of great whites for 10 years, and I've only ever conducted… this is my sixth autopsy. And prior to this, every animal we've had in deceased was inconclusive in terms of an autopsy results. But now from this past week the three animals we had that washed up consecutively all had very definitive injuries.

HM: Is there any physical evidence, I guess the bite mark or the wound that would indicate that it was an orca as well?

AT: Yeah I mean for the first, she was a 4.9 meter female great white. She was close to five meters and weighing it up close to 1100 kilos. So 1.1 tons. She didn't really have too many obvious markings that we could relate to orca apart from that obviously the liver missing. But then the second animal that washed up had very clear teeth raker marks from orca in both of his pectoral fins. [so] So we measured for example the incidental spatial measurements between teeth marks on his appendages and they were conclusively orca. And then the third animal that washed up again, the raking marks were quite obvious in that animal.

HM: And our livers are the only organs that are missing?

AT: Yeah. Well so the first and the third animal, it was it was just liver, but for the second animal, it was liver heart and testes. So the gonads were actually missing as well.
Now we don't know whether that's a function of the orca’s selectively targeting those two organs or whether it was just because actually with shark anatomy, the heart and the testes and the liver are all quite inch intricately connected. So we don't know if they just came out of the animal as a side effect.

HM: Why the liver? I mean is it just delicious to orcas?

AT: The liver is actually the most oil rich part of the animal in terms of sharks, so squalene is the compound that aggregates in the liver and it's very heavy, you know nutrient dense compound, so pound for pound is far more for example calorific than the muscle.
Well even white sharks, they will predate on smaller species of sharks, and specifically select the liver and discard the carcass. It's like with humans, they’re connoisseurs, you know. We take a steak and we eat the fatty part of the steak.
And the same with the orcas. They take the shark but they take the most appealing shock and they discard what they don't want, apparently.

HM: And the rest just seems to go to waste. You'd think they would want to eat more than that,

AT: Yeah and that that is actually up for debate. I mean some scientists are saying now, well all the orcas just taking the livers to play for learning capability, and because it's a very buoyant organ of the shark and it would float naturally. So are they using it as a, you know almost as a learning mechanism. Because obviously with orca, it's learned behavior on how to predate.
The fact of the matter is we don't really know. And fundamentally this is all very new and it’s a gray area. But what we do know is orcas do predate on sharks and they selectively take out the livers. And so it's just never really been documented to a full extent in white sharks. Obviously with both orca and white sharks being very top predators. So that's what makes this whole situation quite unique and novel.

HM: Right. The precision is just as kind of astonishing for someone like me who doesn't really know much about either species. Do they do this alone, the orca, do they hunt in pairs?

AT: They absolutely do not do it alone. That's their advantage in the marine realm. They very much group workers. So orcas, they can aggregate from groups of up to two to 40 in a pod. And like I said, their behavior is very much a learned behavior.
But what we suspect is in this area, the animals responsible for the white shark killings, it’s two individuals that are known. They're very distinctive, they have floppy dorsal fins which is very rare in the wild. Often orcas is only getting floppy dorsal fins when they're in captivity like for example everybody knows Free Willy. And that whole Keiko's collapsed dorsal fin look.
And it's kind of conducive of the captive environment, through stress, through malnutrition anxiety whatever. But in the wild it's quite rare. And these two animals that have been observed of the South African coastline with the floppy dorsals, that they matched all along this area, they're the two that are specifically implicated in shark predation.

HM: Oh, so it’s two key suspects correct.

AT: Correct. Two key suspects that have been implicated in and predation elsewhere on sharks. But it's the first time here in Gansbaai. In fact indeed in South Africa alone that we've ever had orcas killing white sharks and it was these two specifically, that were in the area prevalent at the time of the kills.

HM: Well Ms. Towner, thank you so much and we'll keep watching to see how this story evolves.

AT: It's a pleasure. Thank you so much.

HM: OK, bye-bye.

AT: Take care, bye.

JD: Allison Towner is with the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. We reached her in Gansbaai, South Africa.

[Music]

Ugly sleep

JD: When I don't get enough sleep, things get ugly. And apparently one of those things is me.
Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have just published a study entitled "Negative effects of restricted sleep on facial appearance and social appeal". They photographed their subjects after two nights of good sleep, and after two nights of bad sleep. Then they showed the photos to people in Stockholm, and asked them to rate the subjects on their attractiveness, their health, their apparent sleepiness, and their trustworthiness.
First the bad news. This is from the abstract. Quote: "The results show that raters were less inclined to socialize with individuals who had gotten insufficient sleep. Furthermore, when sleep-restricted, participants were perceived as less attractive, less healthy, and more sleepy. There was no difference in perceived trustworthiness."
Now, the good news: my lunch was pretty good today. There's no good news related to the study, unless you sleep so wonderfully all the time that you always look attractive, healthy, and well-rested. In which case, you should – I mean, you can just – I'm too tired to express my disgust. Congratulations, I guess.
For the rest of us, this just seems cruel. In fact, even when lead researcher Dr. Tina Sundelin tries to make us feel better, it feels like a dig. She told the BBC, "I don't want to worry people or make them lose sleep over these findings though."
Well, too late, Dr. Sundelin. I won't sleep at all tonight because I'll be trying so hard to sleep. And tomorrow morning, things are not going to be pretty.

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Part 2: Tesla workers, Chris Cornell obit

Tesla workers

Guest: Michael Sanchez

JEFF DOUGLAS: Tesla is having a bit of a moment the innovative startup car company recently surpassed both Ford and General Motors to become the most valuable automaker in America. And Elon Musk the billionaire who founded Tesla isn't slowing down. Not at all. In the first three months of 2017, Tesla produced more than 25,000 cars. That's a new record for the company.
But this week, workers inside his so-called "factory of the future" in Fremont, California have painted a troubling picture. Current and former employees of Tesla are alleging long, and stressful work conditions inside the plant; injuries that go unnoticed; and enormous pressure to just keep production lines moving. Michael Sanchez works at Tesla, but is currently on medical leave. We reached him in Hayward, California.

HELEN MANN: Mr. Sanchez we hear all the time that Tesla is an ambitious company. We've seen how it's positioned itself and the effect that is having. Do you have that that feeling of ambition and possibility working there?

MICHAEL SANCHEZ: Well this company is a ground-breaking company. So I mean this company is all about the future of these vehicles. So absolutely I definitely want to be part of that, uou know that experience of being a company such as this.

HM: How long have you been working there?

MS: I've been there since June of 2012.

HM: What did it feel like for you at the time when you landed that job?

MS: I went to WyoTech which is the automotive school. And every day I would go pass by Tesla, and I looked at that as my future and my goal to reach. And about four weeks after my graduation, I got the phone call, I got hired by Tesla. I mean I was a temp. But I got, I got my opportunity. I mean, I went in, the day we went to go for our orientation, I looked outside their factory and I saw the future. I saw my opportunity.

HM: And how do you feel now?

MS: Once I started working and I started seeing how management conducts themselves with their workers, it felt like that part of the future is only on the outside. But when you start working on the inside it feels like it's the 1900s.

HM: What do you mean? How is that manifesting itself?

MS: You feel like without any voice you know. Not being able to say what is wrong to help benefit the company, that will make it easier on your workers, to go and go about trying to get the job done correctly but as well safely. And it's looked upon in a different view as if you're very negative if you're a complainer.

HM: So management isn't listening to your thoughts, your ideas, your concerns.

MS: No.

HM: What kinds of concerns are you raising?

MS: Such as the equipment, and you know the safety of our bodies working 12 hours a day, six days a week, repetition of the same jobs. And then the jobs are made easily.
Instead of doing, one person doing one job, some jobs we get to do maybe two and a little something extra within the same exact time on top of them adding a job in the middle of it with that same Takt time, and Takt time is when the line is moving, each station has a specific time period and the line has to continue running.
You just cannot run out of time because then it will stop the line.

HM: So how many hours are you working in a week?

MS: But before my injury I was working 12 hours a day, six days a week.

HM: Is that true for most of your colleagues?

MS: Yes. It was all mandatory for everybody in that factory.

HM: What impact is that having? You said you're on medical leave right?

MS: Yes.

HM: What injuries are you dealing with?

MS: having to work in [unintelligible] three, which is where the vehicles are above you. Having my arms above me, it caught up with me, because I was doing pretty much those same jobs since 2012. Having to do that, it took wear and tear on my neck, my shoulders, my back, and now I have two herniated discs in my neck. I have the exact same pain in my back.

HM: Are some of your colleagues suffering similar injuries?

MS: They suffer the same pain in their hands. Pain in the shoulders, pain in their elbows.

HM: We've heard stories from coworkers of yours of people collapsing on the job. Can you tell us anything about that?

MS: I’ve seen one happen, one incident happened and then I've also seen or heard of another which was actually my lead in my department. But, the one I saw, it was a female. She was you know walking and all of a sudden you could see that her knees were going weak and essentially just she fainted and fell to the ground.
We had one coworker go and you know help her out. And then they went and had her taken to the nurse.

HM: Elon Musk has said that he finds it incredibly hurtful to hear these kinds of stories. I’m just going to read you a quote. He says “We're trying to do good for the world and we believe in doing the right thing and that extends to caring about the health and safety of everyone at the company.”What do you say to that?

MS: Maybe that comes from him. But having to push his management to get the production done makes the management do whatever it takes for these cars to get done in that process. So even if Elon Musk feels that he's trying to do for the better of our health and safety, that's not how the outcome is once production begins.

HM: Do you think if you were unionized like most other auto workers in North America that things would be different?

MS: I would definitely agree on that. Yes. Because then we have a voice. You know, what the effort that you put in there, there is very little in return right now. You have to go over and beyond and even when you do, you just still have the only hope that you can get a better position to move up in the company. Right now it's nothing like that. Even with all of this going on, you get a little sprinkle of a 50 cent raise and frozen yogurt and things like that. That's not what we're looking for.

HM: Is there any movement on the union front?

MS: Everybody is aware of it. But the fact of fear is what holds everything back.

HM: And yet you're speaking out to us about that situation and about your injuries. Do you worry about losing your job?

MS: Not anymore because I know what my rights are and I know what the laws are. That's something I wasn't aware of until I started doing this.

HM: What's keeping you at Tesla?

MS: I have hope of not having a job but having a lifetime career. If I one day have a family, I can actually tell them “Yes, I was part of something like this. I was part of Tesla's groundbreaking opportunity.”

HM: So do you still believe it's the future?

MS: At this moment, no, but I definitely believe that there's still the opportunity for it to become one. You know what I seen from that in the beginning.

HM: Mr. Sanchez thank you for speaking with us. I hope you recover from some of these injuries that you're dealing with. And again thank you.

MS: Absolutely.

HM: OK. Goodbye.

MS: Bye.

JD: Michael Sanchez works at Tesla/ He is currently on medical leave. We reached Mr. Sanchez in Hayward, California.

[Music]

Plant Sounds

JD: Venus' Flytrap And The Bug, from Stevie Wonder's 1979 album Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants. It was the soundtrack to a documentary, which was based on a book, which claimed that plants were sentient, emotional creatures. The book scoffed, scoffed at those unimaginative scientists from the University of Squaresville who refused to admit that these plant emotions, "might originate in a supramaterial world of cosmic beings which – as fairies, elves, gnomes, sylphs, and a host of other creatures – were a matter of direct vision and experience to clairvoyants among the Celts and other sensitives."
OK. But putting aside the fairies, elves, gnomes, and sylphs, there is some proof that plants have a kind of sentience. Including an ability to quote-unquote "hear". Not necessarily Stevie Wonder songs, necessarily. But water.
For a new study, scientists planted pea seedlings in special pots, "shaped," to quote from Scientific American, "like an upside-down Y". So picture that. One arm of the upside-down Y pot was just filled with dirt. The other was also full of dirt – but it either was sitting in water or contained a tube with water running through it. So the seedling at the top had a choice: its roots could grow into either arm of the Y pot. But in every case, in every case the roots grew into the arm that had water, or the water tube.
The evolutionary biologist who conducted the study says, "They just knew the water was there, even if the only thing to detect was the sound of it flowing inside the pipe." She thinks they're using sound waves to sense where the water is.
Which means, when you think about it, if you talk to your plants, or play music to them, you might want to consider stopping. It's falling on deaf leaves. And you're distracting them to the point where they can't hear themselves drink.

[Music]

Chris Cornell Obituary

Guest: Michael Beinhorn

JD: The voice of Chris Cornell.
Today, fans of the explosively powerful vocalist are coming to terms with his sudden death. Last night, he played in Detroit with Soundgarden. A few hours later, he was found dead in his hotel room.
A medical examiner determined today that Chris Cornell had killed himself. He was fifty-two years old.
Michael Beinhorn produced Soundgarden's breakthrough album Superunknown. We reached Mr. Beinhorn in L.A.

HM: Mr. Beinhorn, first of all my condolences.

MICHAEL BEINHORN: Thank you. I appreciate that.

HM: Chris Cornell performed just last night. What were your thoughts and your feelings when you heard this news that he was gone?

MICHAEL BEINHORN: [Laughs] I'm only laughing because I'm still having a hard time processing all this. Like it was literally the last thing that I was expecting to hear. My wife actually woke me up at 4:00 in the morning to tell me that he was dead. And at first I thought it was some kind of joke. I'm sort of gobsmacked at the moment.

HM: It's been confirmed now very sadly that he took his own life. You know he spoke in the past of his struggles with substance abuse. A lot of his lyrics had some darkness about them. Are you reflecting on that today?

MB: Not so much the lyrics, but more just the experience of being around him and working with them and knowing that you know most of the time I think he was consumed with being in a really being in a pretty dark place. And the process of making the record that we made was you know, in hindsight I have to say I feel that it must have been incredibly rigorous for him because it forced him to expose himself emotionally in a way that I felt and feel even more now that he hadn't really done, had been able to do prior. And I know that was a very uncomfortable experience for him. And yeah, he had to dig really really deep. And considering the pain that he clearly was in on just a regular basis, the experience had to be even more profound for him. So yeah I mean, it this this event has definitely put the process of making that record and then knowing Chris into a whole different context.

HM: That was back in 1993, right?

MB: Yes.

HM: That's a long time to be living with that kind of darkness. Just wonder how you know how you found working together on that seminal album?

MB: It wasn't an easy process. I mean it was tough. We didn't always get along or agree on stuff but there was enough mutual respect there for us to really kind of press on. I mean he knew that I had very specific expectations about what this record needed to be. And I saw in him that there was such a staggering amount of talent and greatness that I felt even after the success that they had, the world hadn't gotten to see.
My main goal was to make sure that it came out and in the most dramatic way possible so that it would be painfully obvious to anyone who encountered our record exactly what was there and just how brilliant this guy really was on every possible level not just as a performer but as a songwriter.

HM: You talk of pushing him to expose himself in his vulnerabilities. How did you do that?

MB: I think when you're working with a performer who aspires to be great, be the greatest that they can possibly be, it's not so much pushing is it is encouragement. I have to tell you like, there were times when we were working together that he critiqued his own vocal performances in ways that I have never seen anyone else do before. To the extent where he would listen to an entire performance, a final comp of all the vocal tracks together combined, to form like the best that I could get out of what was there and he just turned to me and said it's just not good enough. I have to sing the song again. And there are very few people who are willing to really kind of put themselves in that kind of scrutiny, because it's really an acknowledgment that hey I didn't do my best on that.
You'll definitely find people who are willing to tell other people that but a performer who is willing to tell himself that and to state in a room in front of other people, that's unique. You know, when I saw him do that I was like, my God there's no end to what this guy can do with all his talents and his ability to scrutinize his own work that way.

HM: And yet he had this incredible voice. It was so soulful and so rich. Did he appreciate that he had a talent?

MB: He knew it. And I think he felt it sometimes, but I don't think he felt that all the time. I think that whatever it was haunting him and torturing him was probably more prevalent. And I think that probably the only way that he could escape from it for the moment was to really retreat into whatever work he was doing. I think the case is probably true for a lot of creative people and if you're that creative and have that much talent and sensitivity and you have even moments where you have downtime or perhaps are just coasting there's you know there's no telling where your mind can go.

HM: Did he ever share any of the source of that darkness with you?

MB: No. You know at times at times he was really taciturn and you know moody or grouchy. I didn't really probe. I hoped, I guess that the work that we did together would somehow be kind of like a safe place where he could expose those parts of himself and deal with them in his own way.

HM: I understand that you had Chris listen to Frank Sinatra. Why Sinatra? What did you want him to get from that?

MB: I wonder how that stuff gets around.

HM: Is it true?

MB: Yes. Have you listened to Frank Sinatra?

HM: I listened to the Sinatra channel a lot even in my cars. I mean I know what I get from Frank Sinatra but I mean was there more to it than that in terms of what you wanted him to get as a performer?

MB: Yeah. Absolutely. From my perspective, Sinatra is one of the greatest vocal performers, you know in recorded history. And he left behind this incredible legacy of how a performer immerses themselves in the piece of music and expresses themselves just so fluently, and kind of brings out every bit of subtext and every single thing that they really need to say. You know and what I played for Chris was mainly the more moody stuff that he did like in the wee small hours of the morning where only the lonely, which are, they’re very very haunted miserable records.
But it's also something that as a rock performer, not trying to emulate the phrasing or the styling or anything there, but seeing how he's able to kind of transmit his soul to the music. That's something I really want to get across to Chris. It is funny because when I played it for him he laughed at me. But at the same time, I knew that he knew why, obviously I explained it, but like I know that he connected with it right away and it hit him on a pretty deep level.

HM: Superunknown brought Chris Cornell's music to so many people. How does it feel for you to have been a part of that?

MB: Well it's one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had in my entire life. It's something I'll remember for the rest of my life and I feel grateful that all our lives converged on the same point for those like six months. And I'm very proud of that recording and I'm proud to work with those guys. They were amazing, amazing people to work with.

HM: We are going to play some music after our conversation. Will you pick a track for us?

MB: Yeah. Actually the title song off that record.

HM: OK. Listen, thank you very much. I know it's a difficult time to talk to people about these things but we appreciate you sharing your memories with us.

MB: Glad to do it. My pleasure.

HM: All right goodbye.

JD: Michael Beinhorn is a music producer in L.A. He worked with Chris Cornell on Soundgarden’s fourth album Superunknown. And we've posted that interview to our Web site cbc.ca/aih. Chris Cornell died last night at the age of 52. He took his own life.

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Part 3: Alberta merger, WWF award

From Our Archives: Cattle Abuse

JD: They were filmed by undercover activists beating cattle with whips, and hanging them with chains, on a BC farm. And today, three former employees of Chilliwack Cattle Sales were sentenced to jail for animal cruelty.
Two of the men will serve 60 days. A third was sentenced to one week.
The video of the abuse was released in 2014. And at the time, the farm's owner, Jeff Kooyman, said he knew nothing of what was going on on his farm. From our archives, here is Mr. Kooyman speaking to Carol.

SOUNDCLIP

JEFF KOOYMAN: We’re horrified by what we've seen. I mean I almost got sick when I start to see what was going on. It was like a just crazy thing that are happening and yelling and screaming and swearing and it was just like, I'm just devastated by the fact that people were kind of doing this to some of our cows.

CAROL OFF: And you had no idea it was going on?

JK: No absolutely not.

CO: Is there no evidence that this abuse had taken place on the animals themselves?

JK: No not to what we have. I mean, we inspect our cows and we have a veterinarian that comes two or three times a week and does a full inspection of our herd and watches the cows, walks through the cows.

CO: Do you have any concerns that you might be charged? Members your family?

JK: Obviously we have concerns. I mean you, it's not what we are it's it's not acceptable practices on our on our farm. And this is like I said we're trying to work very closely with the SPCA and change the training for new employees. Obviously something wasn't quite to the standards that we expect for our employees. And we're also putting security cameras in and to ensure for the safety of the animals that this never happens again.

JD: From 2014 that was Carol’s conversation with Chilliwack B.C. farm owner Jeff Kooyman. Today, three former employees of his cattle farm were sentenced to jail time for abusing animals. The farm's president, Kenneth Kooyman, has already pleaded guilty to three charges of animal cruelty on behalf of the farm, and been fined over $300,000 thousand dollars.

[Music]

Alberta merger

Guest: David Yeager

JD: Jason Kenney's message for Alberta voters this afternoon, was "Hope is on the horizon." The PC leader was standing onstage alongside his onetime rival, Wildrose leader Brian Jean. They were announcing a plan to merge their parties into something called the United Conservative Party.
For David Yager, that would mean the end of a movement he's dedicated a lot of his political life to. Mr Yager is a founder and former president of the Wildrose Party. We reached him in Calgary.

HM: David Yeager, Jason Keney says the hope that hope rather is on the horizon. How do you feel about the future under this United Conservative Party?

DAVID YEAGER: Well thank you for calling back. I think the last time I spoke on the national media was December 17th, 2014. I was the president of the Wildrose party when our leader Danielle Smith and over the period of the previous month, ten MLAs have crossed the floor to join Jim Prentice in the PC's thinking that the way to merge the parties was that way.

HM: Well they were ahead of the curve it seems.

DY: I don’t know what… having had an NDP government for two years, I don't think it worked out entirely as planned, if that's alright. If I could say that I don't think that was exactly the outcome that we got on Election Day on May 5th 2015. I'm not sure was necessarily exactly what anyone had hoped or planned.
But anyway that the idea was, was this town or this province needed one sort of center-right party. And Wildrose, I was involved with that party for ten years in its creation because the Progressive Conservative Party wasn't as conservative as their name advertised. And so apparently we've got an agreement today that you know maybe we'll get back on the back on the conservative political train here in Alberta.

HM: Yeah but you know for a lot of Wildrose supporters I gather that that feeling is still true. Do you think Brian Jean blinked here or did he just finally get an offer from Jason Kenney that he couldn't refuse?

DY: First of all let me say Brian Jean is… I really like Brian. I was I was pretty unhappy as the president of the party, when the walkout occurred and Brian came back and decided to resuscitate the party over two years ago, asked me to stay. And I will have to say that that he has done an outstanding job at resuscitating the brand and Wildrose relevant again.

HM: But has he done the right thing here?

DY: I think in the end that the PC party has run its course. If you look at Western Canadian political history, you'll find that the parties that you know, the social credit in B.C. and in Alberta and [unintelligible] conservative party. I think you'll find that the parties that carried the day for extended periods of time seemed to fall off the map. I think as Preston Manning once said, they just kind of wear out. So I think I think that you're going to capture that segment of the population, get them under the single tent again that's probably the probably good idea from those of us that aren't great fans of the Democrats.

HM: You said a few moments ago that a lot of people had grown unhappy with the progressive conservatives for not being as conservative as you would have liked. Are you willing to swallow those concerns now just to get the NDP out of office?

DY: You know in all fairness I think we really have to have a look at how this is going to work. I don't know if you recall but there was a couple of months ago, there was a legal report, a legal study done I was involved in this. I'm not a lawyer so my name wasn't attached to it but it was actually looking at the legality, the physical the physics of combining these two parties.
It was an arduous event at the federal level when they created the Conservative Party candidate and of course in Saskatchewan they never did really you know the liberals have been in the history of trying to do this. And I really think that we've got to have a look at what exactly has been agreed to and have a full and fair public discussion on what the negotiating committees came up with.

HM: But you know today Jason Kenney was pretty explicit in pitching progressive values. Are you sure that that's not going to kind of be the guiding principle behind what happens to this new party?

DY: It's politics. If I could be… you know, I’ve gone all the wounds and got all the bruises, if you'll excuse me, if I could just go back to where we started this interview when I was the president of the party and I'd worked here for seven years. I'd quit a good job and run as a candidate. I've been the president, thought I was doing a good piece of work. And then one day everybody woke up and said they didn't need me anymore. So I'm somewhat. I'd like to see what that what has been agreed to. I'd like to see how we're going to send this to the members, sell this to the members of the various parties. I think that's really important. The Wildrose is under the association of the Societies Act. And so it needs 75 percent voter support. So I think I think it's to call this a done deal in any way shape or form is a bit premature.

HM: That's interesting. So do you think that it might actually fail?

DY: I didn't say that.

HM: Well you said it’s not a done deal, and there's obviously a lot of people who feel like you do.

DY: Yeah I think I think a lot of people yeah I think it’s going to take some work here. I think that probably offer Kenney, having just recently contested the leadership of the PC party and won the leadership on a mandate to do this, you know rounding up his crew is probably easier. How the Wildrose side is going to react, I don't know yet because I haven't seen the details. I would hope that that we’ll all put the future of the province first and conservative politics first. But it is politics. And so I can't, I can't really say for sure. I personally I'm hope, I'm thrilled we've got this far. And I sure hope that my fellow Wildrose members will do the right thing given the opportunity to vote and we'll put this whole thing together and take Alberta back in a direction that many of us are more accustomed to.

HM: OK well we'll be watching just along with everybody else then. Thanks very much.

DY: I really appreciate the call. Have a great day and way more fun than the last time we spoke.

HM: All right Mr. Yager, thank you. Bye-bye.

DY: Have a great day.

JD: David Yager is a former president of the Alberta Wildrose Party. We reached him in Calgary.

[Music]

Russia anti-protest song

JD: "I have never been to a demonstration before in my life. They finally infiltrated my soul with their idiotic ideas."
That's a quote from a 68-year-old retired crossword puzzle designer named Leonid Sladkov. He was explaining to the New York Times what prompted him to join thousands of other protesters in downtown Moscow over the weekend.
The massive demonstration, which by no means the only one in Russia this week, apparently caught Moscow officials by surprise. But it was sparked by the city's plan to demolish a series of Soviet-era apartment buildings, which, all told, are currently home to about ten percent of Muscovites.
Now something tells me that retired crossword-creator Mr. Sladkov did not spend a lot of time weighing whether appearing at a protest would make him seem 'cool' or 'lame', before deciding to take part in it. But it's a safe bet he does not represent the target audience of singer Alisa Vox, and her new song, "Baby Boy". Because that is precisely the message behind 'Baby Boy' – that protesting is for dorks.
The song and accompanying video present Ms. Vox – who formerly fronted the band Leningrad – as a sexed-up schoolteacher admonishing a male student for attending an anti-government demonstration.
So we’re going to play a bit, a little of it, how it sounds, and I will offer some excerpts of the lyrics, as interpreted by the weekly English newspaper, The Moscow Times.

[Sound: Baby Boy / techno]

JD: “At two o'clock on a sunny day, he heads out for a protest.
His weak hands grip a poster closely to his chest.
There are errors in his sentences.
Typos, I count four.
But his heart is pounding thunderously.
In his eyes he thirsts for war.
Standard protest tomfoolery.
Standard protest tomfoolery.
Learn from your mistakes.
It's not too late to start.
In your heart, you want a change?
Change yourself, sweetheart.
He just got back his history test, a big "D" stamped on top.
But someone promised him great riches, so long as he don't stop.
The kid is just a puppet. All his life, he has lost out.
His mommy chases after him, protecting her cub scout.
The teacher gives Baby Boy some tough love.
The teacher gives Baby Boy some tough love.
Mistake after mistake, he'll learn to comprehend.
But how many screwups does the kid really intend?
Why think about politics when this woman is hip-thrusting and biting her lip, you little monkey?
Why think about politics when this woman is hip-thrusting and biting her lip, you little monkey?
Freedom, money, girls you'll get it all, even power. [ln] So, kid, stay out of politics, and give your brain a shower.

JD: You get the idea. According to the online newspaper Meduza, "Baby Boy" has the financial backing of the Kremlin, to the tune of about two-million rubles, or 47 thousand dollars. Not surprisingly, the Russian government denies any involvement.
Regardless, in terms of reach, the video is proving effective – if you believe all reach is good reach. That is to say, it's had nearly two-million views on YouTube as of airtime – but it has registered far more 'dislikes' than 'likes'.
Now what is perhaps most fitting for this anti-protest anthem, though, is that the comments section has been disabled.

[Music: Baby Boy / techno]

WWF award

Guest: Anne Sherrod

JD: For more than three decades, Anne Sherrod has been diligently working behind the scenes to expand the size of protected areas in British Columbia. And by any measure, she has accomplished a great deal.
Now, Ms. Sherrod is being recognized with the first-ever Glen Davis Conservation Prize, from the World Wildlife Fund, or WWF – in honour of Canadian philanthropist Glen Davis. Mr. Davis was murdered in 2007. [lv] We reached Anne Sherrod at her home in New Denver, B.C.

HM: Anne Sherrod, first of all congratulations on winning this prize.

ANNE SHERROD: Well thanks a lot. I'm pretty bowled over by it. I didn’t expect it at all.

HM: Were you surprised then?

ANNE SHERROD: Oh my gosh I was nominated by my colleagues who kept the whole thing secret from me so I was shocked. It took me days to wrap my head around that.

HM: What does it mean to you to win this?

AS: Well one of my first thoughts was “Why me?” Because I have worked for almost 40 years in the Valhalla Society but I work behind the scenes. And very few people out there in the world would know me or the work that I do. But we were successful in protecting half a million hectares of protected areas in British Columbia. And that's what I do behind the scenes.

HM: And then you say you've been doing this for 30 years. How did you get started? What inspired you to get involved?

AS: My love of nature since I was a child. And when you know the wilderness and experience the wilderness, you can't help but love it. And what you love you will defend when it's threatened.

HM: Yeah and you obviously saw many threats over the years, one of those being a pipeline you helped stop with your group, the Valhalla Wilderness Society. Tell us about what you were up against there.

AS: The government had begun pushing, changing the Park Act and they were going to push pipelines through the park, and we basically threatened to go to court. And the Khutzeymateen sanctuary was spearheaded by our director, biologist Wayne McCrory, and he knew all about the sensitivity of that area and those scientific need for keeping it unfragmented. And we just came out and we were very ready to go to court for it. And the government backed off.

HM: Have you had challenges over the years where you thought it's not going to work. I'm not going to succeed. And yet you've come through.

AS: Well protecting a park or you know successfully advocating one is a very difficult job. There are a few groups that specialize in it and it takes years. It took 8 years to protect follow Valhalla Provincial Park. It took 10 years or so to protect the grizzly sanctuary in Khutzeymateen, and the Spirit Bear Conservancy. So you spend a long time without being able to count success or knowing whether you will be successful.
And right now we're working on trying to protect the Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park Proposal here in the Kootenays, and it has a spectacular ancient forest with 1800 hundred year old trees.

HM: So you're not resting on your laurels.

AS: Oh no, not at all. We're working right now on a very important part proposal.

HM: What does it mean to you that this prize you're getting is connected to Glen Davis?

AS: Well Glyn Davis was one of our funders through the years, and you know I have been asked about my living on a shoestring which I did for decades. All of us here worked for five years without being paid at all. And then we worked another five years with only sometimes payment. I got my first paycheck about 10 years after starting to work for Valhalla, and Glen Davis was one of those funders who came along and lifted us up to where we could work more effectively and have reasonable lives.
Glen’s funding was behind the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary. His funding was with us all through the Spirit Bear Conservancy battle. His funding helped start our Inland Temperate Rainforest campaign, which yielded the park proposal that I'm working on now. So Glen helped environmental groups all over Canada.
His loss wasn't just a loss of funding. I think that what was so painful for a lot of people was that we all look for that wealthy person who recognizes that he or she has it within their power to do a huge amount of good in the world and takes pleasure from doing it. That is a deeply principled and unselfish person and that was Glen Davis.

HM: Well you yourself, you described a moment ago living on a shoestring, I'm told that your house is tiny, it's remote maybe even needs a bit of work. Is that true?

AS: It's very very old. I have told people that if it’s ever renovated it should be with a bulldozer.

HM: I've been told that if I don't replace the foundation it's going to fall down so there you go. Is this $10,000 prize going to help with that?

AS: I'm going to have it looked into right away. That's for sure.

HM: I guess the money is one thing, the honor is something different a bit.

AS: Well I would like to really thank World Wildlife Fund and CPAWS because they have done something very important to our movement in setting up this prize. This award draws attention to people who are not well funded. And I think it's important to recognize that we're all part of a collective effort.

HM: Congratulations once again.

AS: Well thank you for your interest.

HM: OK it's been a pleasure. All the best to you.

AS: Good bye.

HM: Bye.

JD: Anne Sherrod is with the Valhalla Wilderness Society. She is the winner of the first-ever Glen Davis Conservation Prize, from the World Wildlife Fund and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, in honour of the late Canadian philanthropist Glen Davis. We reached Anne Sherrod in New Denver, British Columbia.

From Our Archives: Michael Bliss obituary

JD: When it came to Canadian history, he was a giant.
Author, public intellectual, and longtime U of T professor Michael Bliss has died at the age of seventy-six.
He wrote more than a dozen books, including numerous histories of medicine such as The Discovery of Insulin, Banting, and A Life in Surgery.
Recently, he turned his attention to his own life, in an autobiography called Writing History: A Professor's Life. He said it was the hardest thing he'd ever written.
In an interview published on Openbook.ca, Mr. Bliss gave some advice about the pitfalls of memoir writing. He said: "I do not bore readers with details of foreign travel, do not feel obliged to present them with my opinions on topics of the day and, most important to me, do not become a 'creative' non-fiction writer by inventing incident and dialogue, a practice that, as a historian, I find utterly abhorrent."
Michael Bliss was also not afraid to challenge some of Canadian history's enduring myths. In 1997, As It Happens spoke with Mr. Bliss after the release of a TV series celebrating the Avro Arrow fighter jet – which presented the aircraft as kind of a crowning Canadian achievement which should not have been scrapped. Here is Mr. Bliss speaking to our former host, Michael Enright.

SOUNDCLIP

MICHAEL BLISS: I think that the judgment of the historians who have looked into the matter is that the Arrow program which was conceived of when we had visions of military grandeur at the end of World War II and in the cold war, era program had grown out of control. It was a huge drain on the Canadian Treasury. The government could no longer sustain the costs of an unproven aircraft that was over budget, and that the government probably made a responsible decision to cancel it. The opposition's main criticism of the government at the time was that it hadn't acted sooner.

MICHAEL ENRIGHT: Some of the players, John Diefenbaker, suggested he was pressured by Dwight President Dwight Eisenhower into cancelling it and went alone.

MB: This is just fantasy.

ME: OK.

MB: Mr. Diefenbaker had his problems. I mean we all know that, and no one has been more critical of him than I have. And he can be presented as this bumbling old prairie fool who didn't understand anything about high technology. But his problem was he was the prime minister of Canada. He had recommendations from the Armed Forces from the Defense Research Board that this plane, this wasn't a good program.

ME: Crawford Gordon the head of Avro, a far-sighted visionary who was sold out by his political mastiffs.

MB: Even the Avro enthusiasts admit to Crawford Gordon had become an alcoholic by 1957 he was in fact falling apart as a person and was a horrible head of Avro.

ME: As a historian, how do you account for the mythic quality of this dumb airplane. Why does it hold the kind of central focus of our imagination. Is it what we might have been? Or did we want to wind up like the Pentagon?

MB: Well, it when you know, Canadians see movies about the right stuff and top guns and wouldn't it have been great that we could have played in the same macho league as the Americans. Another way of putting it is that if the C.P.R. was our national dream of the 19th century, the great railroad builders, well in the 20th century it's the great aircrafts.

JD: From our archives, that was Canadian historian Michael Bliss in conversation with Michael Enright about the veneration of the Avro Arrow. Michael Bliss has died. He was 76 years old.

[Music]

Middle River Road

JD: Given the inordinate amount of time they spend on it, it's no surprise that musicians often turn to the proverbial "road" for inspiration. Sometimes metaphorically, sometimes literally.
For Kate Oland – a librarian in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, the inspiration for "West Side Middle River Road" came quite literally, about a decade ago, while she was driving her young son to the doctor. He had broken his leg, and that made for a very hasty trip down the notoriously poorly-maintained West Side Middle River Road. The eighteen-kilometre stretch of pavement runs parallel to the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island. Ms. Oland recalls: "The road was so twisty and turny and bumpy and uncomfortable to go down. To pass the time and make him laugh and take his mind off the ouchies, I made up a song in the car as we went along."
Well, after the road washed out last week, Ms. Oland dusted off that song – and laid it down, so to speak, with help from singer Mary Austin and guitarist Bob Conall.
She says she hopes the song might drive home the need for repairs to the road, before the upcoming provincial election at the end of the month.

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