CAROL OFF: Hello, I'm Carol Off.
JEFF DOUGLAS: Good evening, I'm Jeff Douglas. This is As It Happens.
CO: The audacity of the word hope. After former FBI director James Comey’s testimony today, there are more questions about whether President Trump obstructed justice. And they revolve around his use of that one word.
JD: Called to the bar. While Republican senators took their shots, so did people around Washington D.C. and pubs around the city capitalized on the widespread thirst for knowledge.
CO: It's a small window and he nearly got stuck in it. The Newfoundland crab season is vanishingly brief, so one fishing boat defied the ice pack to venture out. And even though they had to be rescued by helicopter, one fisherman tells us he'll go out again.
JD: A sober second thought on double think. Richard Blair tells us why he participated in a public reading of George Orwell's “1984” in London. And it's not just because he happens to be the author's son.
CO: There's no business like Joe's business. And now, after five years of running his store called Pirate Joe's that sold products from Trader Joe's without authorization. A Vancouver man is ceasing and desisting.
JD: And… turns out they don't shift in the woods. At least not until they're good and ready, which meant that a Northern BC outdoorsman who was trapped indoors until two silverback grizzlies decided to end their seat of his own. As It Happens, the Thursday edition. Radio that figures however long they decided to stay that is the bear minimum.
[Music: Theme]Back To Top »
Part 1: Comey hearing: lawyer, Pirate Joes
Comey hearing: Lawyer
Guest: Philip Alen Lacovara
Today, former FBI director James Comey spoke publicly for the first time since his shocking removal from his post last month. Mr. Comey of course appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee to answer some questions about his interactions with U.S. President Donald Trump before he was fired, specifically their conversations regarding the Russia investigation. In his testimony, Mr. Comey said that President Trump had made him uneasy by asking for his loyalty. He also claimed that after national security adviser Michael Flynn was fired, the president told him, quote: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy.” Unquote. Here is Democratic Senator Ron Wyden asking about that particular exchange.
RON WYDEN: Your testimony was that the president's request about Flynn could infect the investigation. Had the president got what he wanted and what he asked of you? What would have been the effect on the investigation?
JAMES COMEY: We would have closed any investigation of General Flynn in connection with his statements and statements about encounters with Russians in the late part of December. So we would have dropped an open criminal investigation.
RW: So in effect, when you talk about infecting the enterprise you would have dropped something major that would have spoken to the overall ability of the American people to get the facts?
JC: Correct. And as good as our people are our judgment was we don't want them hearing that the president United States wants this to go away because it might have an effect on their ability to be fair and impartial and aggressive.
JD: Senator Ron Wyden and former FBI director James Comey earlier today. In his testimony, Mr. Comey did confirm that he had assured President Trump that he personally was not under investigation by the FBI over ties to Russia. And we're going to hear more on that from President Trump's outside counsel in a moment. But the question still hanging over today's hearing was whether all this points to obstruction of justice? Philip Alen Locavara is a former deputy solicitor general in the U.S. Department of Justice. He served as counsel to the Watergate special prosecutors. We reached Mr. Locavara in Baltimore.
CO: Mr. Locavara, in your professional opinion, Is Mr Comey's testimony sufficient evidence for an obstruction of justice case.
PHILIP ALEN LOCAVARA: I think it lays out what I called a prime aphasia case, which is the sufficient evidence for a prosecutor to decide to press a criminal charge. It doesn't necessarily mean that a criminal charge would be filed. But the evidence provided by director Comey, in my view, is sufficient to establish the elements of the crime of obstruction of justice.
CO: As I understand obstruction of justice in the United States is a very narrow definition and doesn't give a lot of wiggle room or interpretation or anything else. So what is the case? Why do you think there is a possible case for obstruction of justice here?
PAL: Well, I don't know that I would agree with the characterization that it's a narrow offense. It's a statute that's used regularly in a wide variety of situations. The statutory focus it focuses on the corrupt endeavor to influence or impede the due administration of justice. So it's the endeavoring that makes it a crime. It is unnecessary to show whether the endeavoring to obstruct the investigation was successful or not? Director Comey testified, for example, that he simply refused to obey what he construed as an order from the president. But that's beside the point. The key element what was the defendant in this case, hypothetically President Trump, intending to do? And that's why the testimony from director Comey was so important on that element. As he pointed out, the loop was closed when he was actually fired. And the White House originally said that he was fired as a result of dissatisfaction with the way Director Comey had handled the Hillary Clinton matter. And the president promptly undercut that defense as a sham and said repeatedly that the reason he had fired Comey was to put an end to the pressure on him from the Russia thing. So the president himself has supplied them the evidence of motive.
CO: During the session today, a number of senators pointed out that this word that Mr. Comey said was used. This is what he's written in the memo that he has the meeting with Mr. Trump. He decides he has to record this because no one else was able to hear this encounter he had with Mr. Trump, so he wrote it all down in a memo right afterwards. And he said that the president has said that he hoped that Mr. Comey would let the investigation into Michael Flynn go. And people on the panel today pointed out he didn't say I want you to. He didn't tell them to. He said I hope that you would do that. So the presumption is that there wasn't that much pressure it was just a suggestion. What do you say to that?
PAL: I think that's kind of fanciful and unrealistic way to interpret the conversation. It's certainly not the way the director said he understood it in the context. And, as in any criminal case, you don't simply take one word or one phrase and say the whole case turns on that. Keep in mind what we're talking about director Comey was summoned to the White House. In the first session he was there alone and was told that the president expected loyalty from him. This was immediately after the White House had been warned that General Flynn was subject to being blackmailed by the Russians because he had lied about the absence of Russian contacts. Then Comey is at the White House meeting on some other matters with the attorney general. And the president essentially directs the attorney general and the others to leave so that he's alone with Comey. In that context, the man's boss as president says that I hope that you can see your way clear to letting Flynn go. Anybody in any kind of employment relationship who is told by his boss I hope that this is what you do in performing your employment under my authority will interpret that not simply as an idle wish. I think any reasonable person in Comey’s circumstance would construe that as a direction and it isn't necessary that it be a formal order. All the statute forbids is an endeavor to obstruct. So it isn't a question of whether he actually ordered him to do it, but whether he was trying even by a strong suggestion from superior to subordinate that this investigation be made to go away.
CO: We heard from Mr. Trump's attorney, Mark Kasowitz, who says that the president never asked Mr. Comey for loyalty. Never put any pressure on anybody to act to undermine the Russian investigation. This is quite emphatically stated. A couple of the Republican members of the panel today said that comes down to question of who do we believe? So why should we believe Mr. Comey in this?
PAL: Well, I think there are a couple of reasons. There is a very substantial majority of the populace, including people who voted for him, who believe that President Trump does not really have much adherence to the truth. And if he says something that's true it's almost an accident. By contrast, director Comey is widely respected as an honest and honorable man. The more important factor here is Comey says and the documents appear to corroborate this that he was so startled by these various initiatives by President Trump that he immediately wrote down what he viewed at the time as the verbatim narrative of what the president said to him. The contemporaneous documentation of the conversation at a time when Comey had no apparent reason to fabricate his report of the conversation. That makes it highly likely that his narrative is the accurate one. And the president's denial that he said these things that were immediately set down in writing by Comey is not a believable one.
CO: Someone today mentioned that the difference between this situation and Watergate is that Mr. Nixon was better at covering things up. Is it possible that maybe Mr. Trump doesn't believe he has anything to cover up? That he was just trying to run his administration?
PAL: Oh, I suppose it is possible. Almost anything is possible. I think that Mr. Trump may not believe that he did anything wrong. He's accustomed to running his real estate empire on a no nonsense basis. You work for me. You do what I tell you. And he may not understand that that's not the way the national government works and it isn't the way federal criminal law allows a person, including the president in my view, to interfere with an objective federal criminal investigation. So he may genuinely not appreciate the significance of what he was doing. And may be in that sense he is naïve, but I think the facts are what need to be explored and evaluated from the standpoint of what the president's responsibility should be for whatever he did.
CO: Mr. Locavara, I appreciate speaking with you. Thank you.
PAL: You're very welcome.
JD: Philip Alen Locavara is a former deputy solicitor general in the U.S. Department of Justice. He served as counsel to the Watergate special prosecutors. We reached Mr. Locavara in Baltimore. Now, as you heard, this afternoon in Washington President Trump responded to James Comey’s his testimony via his personal lawyer. Here's part of what Mark Kasowitz had to say.
MARK KASOWITZ: Contrary to numerous false press accounts leading up to today's hearing, Mr. Comey has now finally confirmed publicly what he repeatedly told President Trump privately. That is that the president was not under investigation as part of any probe into Russian interference. Mr. Comey’s testimony also makes clear that the president never sought to impede the investigation into attempted Russian interference in the 2016 election. And, in fact, according to Mr. Comey, the president told Mr. Comey, quote: “It would be good to find out,” in that investigation if there was “some satellite associates of his who did something wrong.” And he [President Trump] did not exclude anyone from that statement. The president also never told Mr. Comey, quote: “I need loyalty. I expect loyalty.” He never said it in form snd he never said it in substance. Of course the office of the president is entitled to expect loyalty from those who are serving the administration. And from before this president took office to this day, it is overwhelmingly clear that there have been and continues to be those in government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications. Mr. Comey has now admitted that he is one of these leakers. Although, Mr. Comey testified that he only leaked the memos in response to a tweet, the public record reveals that the New York Times was quoting from those memos the day before the referenced tweet, which belies Mr. Comey’s excuse for this unauthorized disclosure of privileged information and appears to be entirely retaliatory. In some, it is now established that the president was not being investigated for colluding with or attempting to obstruct any investigation. As the committee pointed out today, these important facts for the country to know are virtually the only facts that have not been leaked during the course of these events. As he said yesterday, the president feels completely vindicated and is eager to continue moving forward with his agenda, with the business of this country and with this public cloud removed. Thank you.
JD: That was President Donald Trump's outside counsel, Mark Kasowitz, speaking on his behalf earlier today in Washington D.C.
Guest: Just a staff member from Duffy’s
Now, there was of course a lot of buzz around Mr. Comey’s appearance before the Senate. And nowhere more so than in and around DC. And so this morning, a number of bars opened their doors much earlier than normal. They turned all their TVs to C-SPAN and offered customers Comey specials like an FBI breakfast of French toast, bacon and ice cream. After all, President Trump does like his two scoops. Other bars like Union Pub on Capitol Hill promised to buy the bar a round of drinks whenever the president tweeted. So was it all good for business? Well, here is what happened when we tried to reach Tom Bindley, co-owner of Duffy's Irish Pub, at 10:30 this morning — just as Mr. Comey delivered his opening statements.
[Sound: A phone connecting]
JUST A STAFF MEMBER FROM DUFFY’S: Hello, this is Duffy’s.
CO: Hi, this is Duffy's Irish Pub?
CO: Hi, is Tom there?
JASMFD: Yes, but we’re supper-slammed. Who is this?
CO: It’s the CBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, in Toronto calling to ask how things are going there?
JASMFD: OK. Give me one second, alright?
JASMFD: Things are great, they are a little bit busy and we say drink! So that’s out comment.
CO: OK, do you have anything special that you're offering as people watch this unroll?
JASMFD: We are offering a covfefe special that only a select few people know what it is.
CO: Are people ordering covfefe specials?
JASMFD: Oh Yeah! Yup, we're all having a good time here.
CO: And how many people are there?
JASMFD: You know, I couldn’t hazard to guess. How many people do you think are here, Tom? We say a lot. It’s really busy.
CO: Aren’t they supposed to be at work?
JASMFD: You know, I would not presume. I'm going to go because I’ve got to go pour beer. Have a good one.
CO: Can I just ask your name?
JASMFD: Nope, I'm just a staff member from Duffy’s.
CO: OK. Thank you.
JASMFD: Thank you.
JD: There you go, just a staff member from Duffy's Irish Pub in Washington D.C. James Comey and Donald Trump. Good for business.
Guest: Mike Hallatt
JD: Mike Hallatt’s motto is “Unaffiliated. Unauthorized. Unafraid.” The owner of Pirate Joe's in Vancouver was unaffiliated with the popular American grocery chain Trader Joe's. He was unauthorized to sell the change products in Canada, but he did that for five years. And until last night, he seemed unafraid of Trader Joe's legal action against him. But at midnight, Mr. Hallatt closed down his rebel grocery store. We reached Mike Hallatt at Pirate Joe's in Vancouver.
CO: Mr. Hallatt, you have on your website it says: “We look forward to the spectacle of a giant, multinational corporation giving us a legal beat down.” So why did you throw in the towel?
MIKE HALLATT: Well, a few reasons. Number one, it's really hard to run a business like this with the U.S. dollar running away on us. I have to go down and drive hundreds of miles to get my product, and then I schlep it back up here in Vancouver and try and mark it up and make a business out of it. And so just on the fundamentals it's pretty tough. And then, when you have your supplier as an adversary and a litigant it sort of adds another layer of uncertainty and difficulty. And then, on top of that, you know you have to have passion for your business and the customers and their enthusiasm for what I'm doing up here has been fueling my passion. But, at the same time, you have to have you know some rationale for it. And the legal hurdles that I needed to climb you know we're just really, really, hard and high.
CO: So when you talk about all the trips you made south in order to get your Trader Joe products for Pirate Joe's. To what lengths did Trader Joe's go to try and stop you from doing that?
MH: Well, they've been very pleasant about it. If they see me in a store they'll just say hey, we don't want to sell you product and I'll say thanks very much. And then I have to resort to alternative measures, which include hiring people to shop for me. So it was never really anything other than just a very cordial adversarial relationship, I guess you'd call it.
CO: But I mean you weren't stealing this stuff. Why did they not want you to sell their stuff and buy their stuff first of all?
MH: Sure. Well, Trader Joe's is a fantastic company and their products are great. And one of the reasons that they're great is because Trader Joe's curates and controls the ingredients that go into those products from the farm all the way to when the product ends up on a Trader Joe's shelf. And so they have a right to protect their brand. And that brand includes you know more than just the name on the product. So here comes a guy from Vancouver and he may have a market that he wants to serve, but he's showing up in his funky white van and loading it up for groceries. You know heading up the interstate and crossing the border and putting it in his funky store. And so I'm countering the argument with well I own this stuff. I get to do whatever I want with it. And there are limitations to what I can do with it — apparently. And so that argument gets made in federal court. And it's complicated. And when it gets gray like that, the lawyers come out and it gets expensive.
CO: What is it that so popular? For someone who hasn't shopped at a Trader Joe's and doesn't know what they have, or Pirate Joe's. It's been described as being kind of cult-like. What is it about their products that are so appealing?
MH: Well, they are just really clever about understanding what people really want. So for instance you know my favorite bagel is an everything bagel. It's got the garlic. It's got sesame seeds and the salt and pepper. And the problem with everything bagels you know they stink up your kitchen when you're sitting there. So Trader Joes comes out with a spice jar called “the everything bagel spice”. and now, all of a sudden, anything can become an everything bagel. And that just flies off the shelves. I don't know how they come up with it? But when they do, I hear about it right away. I mean I don't even have it yet and I'm already getting phone calls about that stuff and it's endless. I mean we have probably 12-13 hundred different products up here and every one of them I'm afraid to open the store if I don't have it. because someone will come from across town going have you got the you know the gluten-free buttermilk pancake mix? And I go yes, as a matter of fact, I got two left.
CO: And was it was it profitable for you to be doing this? Because I mean it’s a lot to drive hundreds of miles and come back and go over the border and sell this stuff. Were you making a profit?
MH: Yeah. Yeah. You know it wasn't the best and highest use of my time necessarily. But yeah, I just I was making that calculation. Every day I would have to assess whether I should be quitting or not? And then of course someone would come in and grab something from the shelf and clutch it to their chest and go thank you. Thank you for bringing this in. It's been tough to kind of get there.
CO: As far as this. I just want to ask you one question about how you got the stuff. When they wouldn't let you shop anymore because they knew what you were doing. Who were you getting to buy stuff for you in the stores? How did you do that?
MH: Well, I would put ads out on Craigslist. My favorite ad was the one that had the subject “Pirate Seeks Pirate”, and it would say something like: “Unauthorized. Undercover. International grocery smuggling operation needs your help.” So it was it was $25 an hour and I would put the ad on when I rolled into town. And then my phone would ring off the hook and I would grab a couple of people and then we would go shopping.
CO: And you called them your cats?
MH: My cats, yeah. Because at one point I had tried to scale it so that I had a crew and a warehouse. And the idea was that everyone had access to the warehouse and I had everyone had a special card — a debit card — that couldn't be tracked. And it was like herding cats. And so one of them ended up adopting her name and she was J-Cat and she was one of my favorite cats.
CO: I mean if it takes all that to get these products into Canada and to the markets. Why do you think Trader Joe's doesn’t open in Canada?
MH: I don't know this, but I have made the estimation that it has to do with three things: booze, cheese and French. So the liquor is a very highly-controlled aspect of our country. And so you know Trader Joes wouldn't be able to do what they do in the United States up here in Canada. Cheese is the same way, it's controlled. And then with French labeling will be a big showstopper because you know Trader Joe's is known for their packaging and if they had to do two streams of packaging I think it would be prohibitive. So I don't expect Trader Joe’s will be up here anytime soon.
CO: All right, that’s very interesting. Mr. Hallatt, I appreciate speaking with you. Thank you.
MH: Thanks Carol.
JD: Mike Hallatt is the owner of Pirate Joe's, a store that resold products from the American chain Trader Joe's. Pirate Joe's closed last night. We reached Mike Hallatt in Vancouver.Back To Top »
Part 2: Newfoundland fisherman, British Columbia bears
Guest: Joey Sacrey
JD: Newfoundland crab fishermen have a very, very, short season — just a few weeks to make their living. So when fishermen looked out from the Baie Verte Peninsula, they saw a serious problem: the waters were choked with thick ice. Some families took the risk anyway, and they headed out to fish, Joey Sacrey was one of them. He and his dad and the rest of their crew were a few miles out when their boat began taking on water. We reached Joey Sacrey in Ming's Bight, Newfoundland.
CO: Joey, at what point did you realize that your boat, the Avalon Princess, was in trouble?
JOEY SACREY: It was actually while we were eating breakfast. It was around 10:00 o'clock on the morning of. And we heard a water alarm go off and we all looked around kind of baffled because we were just sitting there on the ice. So we were trying to find out why this alarm is going off? We were in the engine room first and there was no water. But when we went down to the fish hole, we seen there was a few pinhole leaks of water coming in. But then, upon further inspection, we seen that the lazarette, which is the very start of the boat, was really, really, full with water.
CO: What was causing that?
JS: It's really hard to say. Like we were trying to go through a lot of heavy sea ice, so at some point we must have hit one kind of hard, or struck it on a certain angle. Like it was really hard to know what caused it. But that's what caused the hull to kind of give way.
CO: So what did you do? How did you get out of this?
JS: So we kind of was like we assessed the situation. We can't stop all this water from coming in; we need to abandon ship. Sent out mayday, grabbed our belongings, chucked them out on the ice next to us and we all got on the ice.
CO: And then who rescued you?
JS: Then the Coast Guard came it their chopper. It had to be a chopper rescue because the Coast Guard ship was far away and couldn't get in through the ice.
CO: Describe what happened? How did they get you off the ice?
JS: So basically like it was actually like nothing short of amazing what they do in situations like this. So they sent out the big rescue chopper. A guy extends from a line like down to the ice. Explains to us what's going to happen. And then they hoist us all up one-by-one.
CO: And what happened to your boat?
JS: The boat sank.
CO: Oh deer, I'm sorry.
JS: Yes. We couldn't save the boat. You know that's always a big blow. But, at the end of the day, like a boat is a boat, right? No lives were lost. We all came out without a scratch. And it could've been a lot worse than that. So I mean the boat you kind of just have a chalk up to a loss at this point.
CO: And what about the other four boats out there? What happened to them?
JS: They were stuck in the ice for I think like two-and-a-half days. And then, after a while like the winds turned around the last boat got back out of it today.
CO: And this ice that you were out in. I mean have you seen that before when you’ve gone out crab fishing?
JS: No, not ice like this. This is very abnormal ice like even for Newfoundland. Like this pack ice is super dense and super, super, heavy. And also with abnormally high winds and like the direction of the wind. Usually in Newfoundland like the winds blow the ice out to sea. But this year, it's blown it all inland.
CO: It just keeps pushing up against the shore, eh?
JS: It does. It does. It does. And we were monitoring the ice now for I'd say close to a month for sure. Like us and a few other fishing vessels. Waiting to see if we could plot a course to get through the ice because the crab season is coming to an end very soon, right? And there are also reports of soft shell crab coming, which you can't fish. So when we viewed it, I think it was three days ago, we thought it was sparse enough that we could wiggle our way through. But, clearly, we were mistaken in that assessment.
CO: Did you know though you were probably taking a risk if you had to wiggle your way through that ice?
JS: It's always a risk when you go out in the ice. So we were aware of the risk, but the risk kind of outweighed the not going. I mean there are four vessels. There are five men on each vessel. That's five families with no income since last summer. Unemployment's cutting off. There’s no subsidies from the government when you have like freak nature events that prevent us from fishing. So I mean it was either go or starve basically.
CO: This is your livelihood. You can't get out because of the ice and you're not getting an income. This is it.
JS: That is exactly right.
CO: Is there any discussion about extending the crab season?
JS: Well, we got word of that yesterday. They gave us a 15 day extension.
CO: And will that do it for you?
JS: Well, I mean we still can't get out and crab is scarce up this way. So I mean it's a bit of a help. I mean at this point I can't say if it will be good or not.
CO: What do you mean by that you've heard that there's a soft shell crab in the area?
JS: So, at the end of the crab season, the shell on the crabs goes soft, right? Like literally you can take them and just squeeze them together in the shell cracks, hence soft shell. And then they're not desirable, so we can't bring that catch in.
CO: So how difficult is it for folks in Baie Verte right now?
JS: It's really difficult the entire peninsula has blocked in with ice. So there’s like 30 communities that are affected by this, right? Inshore and offshore. And unemployment is running out and you can't get no unemployment extension. And when you're on unemployment all winter like whatever you had saved during the summer tends to dwindle down quite quickly. And fishing is still a major resource here. So it's becoming very bleak and it has a ripple effect like it affects businesses and even just moral in general. Do you know what I mean? Like when you have financial strain and no way of alleviating that, then things can look pretty bleak pretty quickly.
CO: When was last time you saw ice like this?
JS: I've never seen ice like this. And my father, he was the captain of the vessel, he he's been fishing now my god for like 40 years and he's never seen ice like this either.
CO: Are you going to wiggle out again?
JS: Well, we get to go out another from another port. So we'll be a little bit more cautious this time because we didn't realize the ice was as heavy as what it was. So hopefully it will not come to one of those like ride or die decisions again, if you will.
CO: I hope not too, Joey. Take care.
CO: Be careful.
JS: I absolutely will.
JS: Thank you so much.
JD: Joey Sacrey is a fisherman. We reached him in Mings Bight, Newfoundland.
JD: Dean Beeby is not the only one concerned about Canada's Freedom of Information Act. On Monday, we spoke to our Ottawa CBC colleague about a chat that he and the Prime Minister had. Mr. Beebe received an award at the Annual Press gallery Dinner. And in his acceptance speech, he warned that it's now harder than ever to get our government to tell us the truth, the whole truth. Afterwards, the Prime Minister approached him and promised reforms. Well this afternoon, Canada's Information Commissioner tabled her annual report. And then reporters asked Suzanne Legault what she made of the Prime Minister's promises about transparency. Here's some of what she had to say.
SUZANNE LEGAULT: I think he needs to not just say more. I think he needs to do more. And I think he needs to make sure that the bureaucracy does more. It's not enough to say it. It is a very popular thing to say, but it's not going to be delivered. This is a government that believes in deliverology. It's a government that believes in delivering results. Well, I think that they're very well aware because they have experts telling them how to deliver on results that you really need to have a concerted plan. You need to have milestones. You need to have evaluation process and you really need to make sure that you're going to deliver on your results. The reason why I put the performance of institutions in the report this year is because this is an early indication that we're actually seeing a potential decline. That we also have very key departments in significant difficulties in responding to Canadians. I did that to alert the government that unless they really truly do active implementation of their open government and their transparent government and in fact active implementation of sunny ways, it's not going to happen and we're going to remain in a very cloudy sky.
JD: That was Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault speaking earlier today in Ottawa.
Guest: Rick Cowan
JD: Rick Cowan is an experienced outdoorsman. Literally it comes with the territory. He lives in a cabin in the woods in Atlin, British Columbia, which is just south of the Yukon border. And on any given day, nature literally marches past his window. Deer, moose, porcupines, even grizzly bears. But the grizzlies Mr. Cowan encountered on Monday night were not like any that he had ever seen. And they staged a kind of siege outside his home and that left him afraid for his life. We reached Rick Cowan in Atlin.
CO: Rick, how are you doing today?
RICK COWAN: I'm doing all right. A little better than the other day.
CO: Can you just take us back to the other day? Because you've had grizzlies on your property before, so what was different about these two bears?
RC: Most of the time, you yell at them or the dog barks at them and they mosey on. This night was a little bit different. We looked out the window and these two grizzlies are coming down the driveway. They were only about two-year-old bears, so they were walking down the driveway strutting their stuff basically. And backed in a little bit more aggressive than they would normally look.
CO: What was your dog doing?
RC: She was given a very unusual bark. It was not an aggressive bark or anything like that. It was actually a half silent bark. And her hair was up on her back, she knew something was wrong.
CO: And you knew something was wrong. What did you do?
RC: I ran out the door past my girlfriend to call the dog back into the house. And as soon as the bears saw me, they charged at me and the dog. And I rushed back in the house and slammed the door and there were about five feet from the door by the time I got in.
CO: What did you do?
RC: Well, we immediately tried to take the matter of the events and my girlfriend says where is your daughter's dog? We have a little Shih Tzu dog and I didn't know where the dog was. So we looked out the window and towards my daughter's cabin, we have a couple of cabins next door to us that the kids have of their own, and this little dog was shaking on the doorstep of my daughter's cabin silently. It knew better than to draw attention to itself. So I yelled out the window to my daughter to open her door and let her dog in. She didn't know anything that was going on at the time. She didn't know that the bears were in the yard or why I was yelling at her. And she opened the door and to let her dog in, the dog rushed in and the two bears saw her and rushed right at her door. And she basically slammed the door right into their faces.
CO: Yikes! Now these are adolescent bears, so they're pretty strong. Were you concerned that they could get into the house?
RC: Yeah actually after they left my daughter's cabin and came back over towards the house, they were on the other side of the door. About one foot away from me and I'm standing on the other side of the door and there's a window. If they had decided to put their weight into that door, they could quite easily have pushed it in on me and there's pretty much nothing I could have done to stop it.
CO: Have you heard other cases where bears did that? They broke in?
RC: Yeah, actually it was a few years ago there was a couple on South Canal Road in the Yukon that had a bear come into the cabin and it ended up becoming a fatal incident.
CO: Was that on your mind when you were thinking about what to do about these bears?
RC: Yeah, it was exactly what it was going on in my mind. I actually mentioned it at the time while it was happening. We started thinking about escape route to get out of the house if they managed to get in. But there were two of them there wasn't just one. So if one got in the house, the other one was still outside the house and we really didn't have anywhere to go.
CO: Was there anyone you could call?
RC: We did do a wifi called to my father. I yelled at my dad on the phone to get over as quickly as he could with his gun. He lives about two kilometers away, and five minutes later he arrived with his gun.
CO: And then what happened?
RC: Well, he came into the driveway honking his horn loudly and loaded his rifle and the bears were just looking at him and he’d honk more and they started walking towards him. So he got the gun loaded and he put a rifle shot into the wood pile that was right beside them. The bears actually started walking towards him, aggressively challenging him. He was reluctant to shoot. He really didn't want to shoot them. He yelled at them and honked the horn more and that's when they started really coming at him aggressively and he had to shoot one of them in the chest.
CO: Was the bear killed?
RC: Yeah, the bear died pretty much instantly. And the other bear stopped, realized its brethren was down on the ground and incapacitated, sniffed it a bit and then wandered around eating dandelions. It was very unusual to see that the bear wouldn't rush off into the wilderness and be gone. Finally, the bear had wandered off to the edge of our property and disappeared into the trees. By about the time the bear had left, the RCMP arrived to the property and there was no evidence of the bear at the property at that time.
CO: What did they say about the incident?
RC: When they got there, they took our incident report. So they decided that what they would do is search around the local area and see if the other bear was hanging around or if it left? While they were doing that, I had a discussion with my father that I was going to go to his place and bring my rifles to my house. I had them stored at his house. We went over to his house and I got my rifles and maybe 20 minutes I was back at the house and checking over the rifles to make sure that they were in good order. And my children, I have a daughter and son, they both started yelling at me that the other bear had returned. I couldn't believe it that the bear would even return after all this commotion and whatnot. So I went outside and the bear challenged me and started coming at me. And that's when I shot it. And it died as well.
CO: Have you learned anything about why the bears were aggressive? Did the conservation officers give you any insights?
RC: They figure that they've been hanging around the town sight for quite some time and possibly become habituated with the locals and just used to being around people. I think they were basically adolescents and feeding off each other aggressively.
CO: And do the conservation officers have things to say about you shooting the Bears?
RC: They felt that everything was done right. We live in a wilderness-type town. And we have the right to protect our property and our lives. We didn't want to kill or wound the Bears at all and we just wanted them to move on. And unfortunately, this had to take place.
CO: How are you and your dad feeling about having killed the bears?
RC: My dad is he's quite upset. He's been a lifelong hunter, but he doesn't generally hunt bears. When he does hunting it’s for food. It's not for the purpose of killing animals. It's just the nature of living in the north and living in a small community. We're next to nature.
CO: Are you feeling a bit rattled by all this?
RC: Oh yes. Quite rattled actually. I guess now in the future there will be a gun more ready and just a little more aware of what's happening around me.
CO: Rick, I'm glad you are OK and I appreciate you telling us this story. Thank you.
RC: Well thank you.
CO: Bye bye.
JD: Rick Cowan lives in Atlin, British Columbia. That's where we reached him.
JD: There is a reason Edgar Allen Poe's poem “The Raven” remains so powerful 172 years after it was first published. And the reason is that it is a chilling depiction of a terrifying truth that we all know, deep in our bones: that Ravens are irritating jerks. Earlier this week, we told you about a Newfoundland man named Jonathan Poulain whose windows were under constant attack by a couple of ravens. And that was just the latest of dozens of stories we have covered on this program, all of which prove, repeatedly, that Ravens are the worst. I mean just listen to them.
[Sound: Annoying ravens]
JD: Stop! Shut up, raven. Now, I will admit that science has proven ravens are also very intelligent. Most recently, a new study by European researchers suggests ravens can judge the fairness or unfairness of a given deal. And that ravens will remember the humans who were decent to them… and to the ones who tried to cheat them. The researchers trained nine ravens to pick up a crust of bread at one end of a cage and walk to the other, where a human would give them a piece of cheese in exchange. Having established that pattern, the researchers then had the ravens deliver them crusts of bread, but they ate the cheese themselves right in front of the bird. After repeating this procedure over and over, they let the ravens choose which researcher they would approach: the one who had given them cheese, the one who had eaten their cheese, or a “neutral” human. And after a month, seven of the ravens selected the fair person — the cheese giver. One selected the unfair person. And one chose the neutral one. Now one of the co-authors of the study concludes that this means ravens understand cooperation. I draw different conclusions, which are that ravens are greedy grudge holders who are uniquely qualified to recognize jerks because they are jerks themselves. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. Except that where ravens are concerned, I disagree, period.Back To Top »
Part 3: War archivist, George Orwell’s son
Guest: Peter Taylor
JD: To defeat the Nazis required a lot of ingenuity on the part of the British. They broke the Enigma codes. They used the Spitfire to defend the homeland during the Battle of Britain. And then there were those innovations and inventions that were less illustrious. That's probably why the details have languished in the archives of the Imperial War Museum for decades, until now. These long forgotten inventions include exploding animal dung and garlic chocolate. Peter Taylor is the researcher who rediscovered these things. He's the author of the new book “Weird War Two”. We reached him in London.
JD: Peter, why were British spies given garlic-flavored chocolate during the Second World War?
PETER TAYLOR: Well, the thing is that when Britain sent spies abroad it was absolutely essential they could blend in every possible way. They had to look right. They had to act right. They had to talk right. And the story goes that there was a concern the agents that were sent to Spain didn't smell right because they weren't eating garlic. And the attitude towards garlic in Britain at the time was that it was some kind of terrible, awful substance. You couldn't just expect people to eat it. So how about we put it in a chocolate bar to make it nicer to eat? I am not sure it worked out, but that was the plan anyway.
CO: Now, you were poking around in the archives of the museum rediscovering discovering things like garlic-flavored Chocolate. What are some of the other things that you discovered that were the odd weapons that the British developed during the World War Two?
PT: Well, there's all sorts of strange things. There's a pipe the you can smoke that also fires bullets. It was designed to deal with German parachutists if they ever actually invaded Britain. Another favorite of mine is fake feet for secret agents that were landing on beaches in the Far East. And the idea was you put these fake bare feet over your actual shoes and it would look as if a native was walking on the beach rather than you.
CO: There was also a I guess fake animal dung?
PT: Explosive animal dung was another weapon that was sent to members of the resistance across Europe. And the idea is you’d leave it on a road and no one would spot it and cars would drive over it and blow out their tires and so forth. The actual dung was copied from the real thing supplied by London zoo. And there were different kinds of dummy depending on which kind of part of Europe it was. Some places it was horses, other places it was mules, some place it was donkeys.
CO: This is a difficult question but what is the strangest thing you've discovered?
PT: I think one of the strangest and one of my favorites probably has to be super-strength itching powder. This was sent to members of the resistance with the idea that they would put it in the underwear of German soldiers to put them out of action temporarily. And apparently it did work on at least one German submarine. One boat was forced to return to port because the sailors thought they got some strange skin condition.
CO: And there was another one there were capsules you could throw at the enemy and it would release a foul smell, is that right?
PT: Oh indeed, the so-called “S Capsule”, which was a kind of super-powered stink bomb that you could throw. The idea was to slowly embarrass dignitaries and so forth by making them smell terrible. I think the Americans had something similar, which was a product called “Who Me?”, which was again super-powered smell. But I think in both cases, they had to kind of give up using it because the people that administered it ended up smelling as bad, pretty much, as the people that they were aiming it at.
CO: What’s the story about the dead rats being used as explosives?
PT: The idea was to sabotage enemy factories. You'd get a dead rat, fill it full of explosives and you put it on the coal pile next to a furnace. And the idea is that, sooner or later, somebody would chuck the dead rat in the furnace and then boom! It did work but not quite in the way I expected. What happened actually was the first batch of dead rats being sent out to resistance members actually got intercepted by the Germans. So none of them actually ever made it through, but the Germans didn't realize it was the first batch. So you know the ensuing kind of hunt for rats all around Germany actually wasted huge amounts of time.
CO: And this brings is because of how effective any of this was. I mean of all the crazy ideas, do you know which ones actually were probably the most effective?
PT: Well there are some strange things that definitely did work. I think for example, pink camouflage is an example. Spitfire planes and some ships that were sent out during the day were given pink camouflage because it actually blended in with the sky better. And that's an example of something that's very, very, strange and it worked surprisingly well.
CO: Who are the people whose job it was to think up all these things?
PT: Well, it was a mixture of kind of talented or misguided perhaps civilian inventors. But there was also a kind of a group of scientists who were based outside of London in what was known as “Churchill's Toy Shop”. And it was their job to invent a lot of these things, particularly for the SOE, or Special Operations Executive, which was a kind of group of people who were tasked with kind of encouraging sabotage and uprising across Europe.
CO: And they actually developed a kind of mail-order catalog for Secret Service agents?
PT: That's right. Yes known as “The Catalog”, and that kind of had everything from exploding rats, through to the false feet, trough to the itching powder, through to the exploding dung. All of these things were in a kind of catalog, which you could then choose from as it was appropriate for your mission.
CO: I wonder if the writers of “The Avengers” had a copy of that catalog for things that Emma Peel could use?
PT: Well, it certainly has that flavor to it doesn't it? And the funny thing is Ian Fleming, who wrote the James Bond books, was definitely inspired by certain of these items. But I think if anything, he sort of toned it down a bit when he wrote the James Bond books because I think there's nothing quite strange is exploding rats or dung in those, as far as I remember.
CO: If he had written about it in fiction people wouldn't have believed him.
PT: Exactly. And that's one of the things I really got from writing this book is just you know the truth really can be stranger than fiction.
CO: And your book “Weird War Two”, any plans to actually put these wartime inventions into some kind of a display?
PT: Some of them are on display at the Imperial War Museum in London and some of its other branches in the UK. If you want to see all of them I guess the book is the best place. But yes, some of them are. Some of them are buried deep in the archives. And I don’t think they’ll ever see the light of day apart from in the book.
CO: And maybe they shouldn’t. Peter, it's good to talk to you. Thank you.
PT: Many thanks. Bye bye.
JD: Peter Taylor is a former publishing manager at Britain's Imperial War Museum. And he is the author of “Weird War 2”. We reached him in London. And we have posted more on that story on our website: www.cbc.ca/aih.
From Our Archives: Honduras dam
JD: On March the 3rd of 2016, Betra Caceres was shot to death. The Honduran human rights and environmental activist had become a thorn in the side of government and business elite in her country. And she had drawn a lot of attention for winning the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015. Before her death, she had been aggressively opposing the Auga Zarca dam project. And since her murder, international outrage has been turned into pressure against the dam and its backers. And now, the remaining international investors behind the project have announced that they are withdrawing their money. One day after her death, on March 4th of last year, Carol spoke with Silvio Carillo, one of Berta Caceres’s nephews. Here is part of that conversation, from our archives.
SILVIO CARILLO: I was actually in Honduras in 2009, right after the coup. And the first person I called was her. She said we have to go to the safe house. I met her, we got in a cab and she has two phones because the lines are secure because of bugs. Gets off of one of them and says alright, we’ve got to switch taxis. This was her life. I followed her to get to a safe house and we filmed an interview there. And then she disappeared into the night. And she was fine with that because she was doing it for something that she believed in — that we all believed in.
CO: Can you tell us for those who don't know about the work that your aunt was doing around the environment and the protests she was involved with. Tell us a bit about that?
SC: Well, she was involved in many Indigenous rights issues. She created scholarships for Indigenous girls to go study and to learn to read and write. Her mother, my grandmother, was a midwife. She witnessed children with diarrhea dying and so she grew up around that. She saw the poverty. She saw the need and my grandmother was her inspiration. When she received the Goldman Prize, she thanked her mother.
CO: The Goldman Environmental Prize, very prestigious award that she received last year in 2015. Many people thought that that might give her some protection. That kind of international spotlight on her might help in some way. Clearly it didn't work.
SC: It's a double-edged sword and that's why she's not the first person to be killed after receiving that prize. But she was on her way to being the next president. There's no doubt in my mind. And they couldn't have that in Honduras. They put in place this right-wing party that is supported by the business elite. You know there are only 10 or 15 families that own everything and 90 per cent of the land in Honduras. And that's why she was fighting against this dam that they were building. And you saw her speaking. She spoke with a powerful voice. She knew what she was doing and she wanted to do it. And we hope people will gain inspiration from seeing her, listening to her and the movement that she created and do something with it. We need to carry this forward for her.
JD: From our archives, that's Silvio Carillo speaking with Carol on March 4th of last year — one day after his aunt, activist Berta Caceres, was shot dead in Honduras. This week, the remaining investors in the Agua Zarca dam, which Ms. Caceres fought against, announced that they are withdrawing their money from the project.
Sound of the Day: piano note record
JD: An awful lot of piano players agree: the fastest fingers to ever grace the ivories belong to Art Tatum. When Oscar Peterson first heard him he thought, he was two piano players. Mr. Tatum was so fast that, in the field of computational musicology, there's a term that is called “the Tatum”, which means quote, “the smallest perceptual time unit in music”. And that is an important measurement to bear in mind for the clip that we are about to play. Here is Portuguese-American musician Domingos-Antonio Gomes registering a whole lot of Tatum's, 824 in fact, in his Guinness World Record attempt at the fastest piano key-hitting. This is our Sound of the Day.
[Sound: A ton of tapping]
JD: Bear with us, there only about 412 to go.
JD: Yeah, that was a long minute with headphones on. That was musician Domingos-Antonio Gomes breaking the Guinness World Record for the fastest piano key-hitting. In one minute, he struck the highest B on a piano 824 times. That's more than 13 times a second. Now, I do understand that he may also unofficially hold the record for “most unbearable, annoying sound” as well.
George Orwell’s son
Guest: Richard Blair
JD: It took place in a dark, moodily-lit room. And as the hours passed, people took turns taking a stage, reading nonstop from morning to night until it was over. I am not describing a repressive dystopia. Although the book they were reading from does. On Tuesday, dozens of people participated in a live reading of the bleak, but classic novel “1984”, which was first published 60 years ago today. One of those readers was Richard Blair. His dad was Eric Blair, better known by his pen name: George Orwell. Richard Blair took part in the reading, which was hosted by the University College London Festival of Culture. We reached Mr. Blair near Coventry, England.
CO: Mr. Blair, what was the reaction from the audience as you read from your father's book “1984”?
RICHARD BLAIR: Well, I don't know? They sat and listened intently. But then, I was the first one of about I think there were 60 readers.
CO: Can you describe the part of “1984” that you read?
RB: Well, I read the first part, which is: “It was a bright, cold day in April and the clocks were striking 13. Winston Smith, with his chin nuzzled into his chest, hurried in through the doors of Victory Mansions, but not before a swirl of gritty dust followed in behind him.” That's the first paragraph.
CO: Excellent. And this is of course Winston Smith is the main character in “1984”. He works at the Ministry of Truth and so I understand there are many people reading part of this, “1984”, in front of his audience. The first time it's been done in England. And I understand well there's famous people taking part in it, but members of your own family. Who else is part of this?
RB: Yes, I had four relatives. So that I started it off, followed by my grandson, followed by my own son and then later on in the morning, I had two cousins who came and read two pieces.
CO: And you were just a boy when your father was writing “1984”. Can you remember much of that?
RB: Well, I think really what I remember as a little boy after we left London and went up to the remote island of Jura on the west coast of Scotland. And I remember certain things that happened during that time. One of them was that of course that, generally speaking, he was busy in his bedroom writing “1984”. But he would appear for lunch at midday and then he would go back and continue writing in the afternoon. And then he would come down in the evening, we would have supper together and then, if it was summertime, we would then go out in our little rowing boat and go fishing and do all the things that fathers and sons like to do together.
CO: And “1984” would have been a story impossible for a boy to understand. But as an adult reading the book and understanding what it's about what do you see as being related to your life, your family, people in your father's world that have inspired or influenced the book?
RB: I mean that the world of 1984 bears no relationship to the life that I have led of course. Only very indirectly in the sense that over the decades that the book has been out, nearly 70 years, the world affairs have clashed with it from time to time. Immediately of course people then sit back and say oh, look, good heavens! This is very Orwellian! Very “1984”. And this has happened many times over the decades where things have happened and you know in world politics, which has become sort of Big Brotherish.
CO: Is there a particular reason why right? Because of it has become a bestseller once again. I hear you saying that Orwellian and “1984” is something that we often hear a reference to. But why particularly now do you think it has been become so important?
RB: I think probably that this came about when Donald Trump became president. And we then had somebody conveniently falling into the trap of talking about the alternative truth, which of course is pure “1984”. People saying things with a double meaning, hoping that people don't understand what's being said. Governments are very good at being able to smooth talk their way through what might be termed as lies.
CO: And so the references I mean there are numbers. We mentioned “1984” and Orwellian. There are words from the novel that have become part of our lexicon: “new speak”, “double think”, “Big Brother”, “the thought police”. Do you see parallels right now with those ideas?
RB: Well, I suppose if you want to look for them they're there to see. I suppose the first thing that springs to mind of course is closed-circuit television on every street corner. Where the banks with televisions are watching people walk as they go about their business and who is monitoring all the cameras? It's an interesting thought isn't it? Because there is no way on god's earth every camera that is recording be checked by somebody simultaneously in real time. It would take thousands of thousands of thousands of people to actually do it.
CO: The fact that there is this eye on us reinforces this idea that big brother is watching you.
RB: Yes. But what the governments are doing of course is they're trying to protect us. They're turning us into the nanny state because they think that we can't cope on our own. I mean 40-50 years ago because none of this came about. And we seem to manage quite happily on our own. But of course then technology improved and these things became oh, this seems like a good idea. Let's keep an eye on what the people are up to in the streets.
CO: You mentioned Winston Smith, the character that you were reading about, he was entering the Ministry of Truth, where he works in “1984”, where his job is to rewrite news to support the party line. Do you see parallels of that with you mentioned the Trump administration. Do you see parallels with Winston Smith's world?
RB: Well, I think there is a tendency for advisors to put as much spin as possible on bad news.
CO: What about fake news?
RB: Well, there's always that of course. Some people just simply make it up as they go along. So you hear someone putting out a statement and you think where on earth did that come from? It is patently rubbish, but of course if you put it out and no one picks it up or argues. You put it out again, you can do it again and then perhaps you do it again. And eventually of course it becomes fact.
CO: How do you think your father — how would George Orwell — feel about the way things are if he were alive today? How would he perceive it?
RB: that of course is a very difficult question to answer because I have absolutely no idea what he would've thought after 70 years of being dead. I don't know. He would probably be disappointed probably. And thinking that well maybe what he wrote is a little closer to home than he realized.
CO: And I think a lot of people would agree with him.
RB: I fear so.
CO: Mr. Blair, I appreciate speaking with you. Thank you.
RB: That's fine. You're more than welcome.
JD: That was Richard Blair, George Orwell's son. We reached him near Coventry, England. And there is more on that story on the As It Happens website: www.cbc.ca/aih.
JD: Saint John Bosco is the patron saint of among other things: editors, publishers, magicians and juvenile delinquents. Before he even became a priest in the mid-19th century, he performed magic and juggling and preached the gospel before and after. So he might have some sympathy for whomever it was that pulled off the sleight-of-hand at the Don Bosco Basilica. But those who care for that facility and those who visit that facility just want the thief to bring back what he stole: a relic. Specifically fragments of St. John Bosco's brain. Last Friday, someone posing as a pilgrim made off with a reliquary, an elaborate glass container within which those brain fragments reside. It usually sits in front of a portrait of the saint himself at the basilica, where visitors gather to pray. Now it is gone and no one knows how that impostor pulled off the theft. Video analysis has provided no clues. Police roadblocks snagged no suspects. And so at this point, officials can only beg the thief to return the relic and question the morality of someone who would steal such an irreplaceable item? The Archbishop of Turin has said quote, “It makes us think of a profound moral misery of one who would take away a sign that has been left and preserved for the devotion and the faith of everyone.” Unquote. But the rector of Don Bosco Basilica was simultaneously more resigned and more philosophical. Don Ezio Orsini said quote, “We are confident that one may steal a relic of Don Bosco, but one cannot steal Don Bosco.” We hope the thief takes the reliquary back just for reasons of conscience. But of conscience does not get him, the authorities might. Because St. John Bosco's brain may be gone, for now, but neither the police nor church officials are absent-minded
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