CAROL OFF: Hello I'm Carol off.
JEFF DOUGLAS: Good evening. I'm Jeff Douglas. This is As It Happens.
CO: An isolating incident. It's been cut off from the world for two days but we’ll finally reach someone in the island of Dominica, which was hit by the full force of Hurricane Maria, and things could hardly be worse.
JD: Endurance tests. As a search and rescue operation continues at a collapsed school in Mexico City, we will speak with a volunteer who is removing debris and holding out hope.
CO: Strike, counterstrike. After a powerfully hit foul ball hits a young girl in the face during a baseball game at Yankee Stadium a city councillor steps up his push for more protective netting.
JD: Flights over and fancy. The low cost airline Ryanair is in crisis after canceling hundreds of flights claiming it messed up scheduling pilot’s vacations. One former pilot says that explanation flies in the face of the truth.
CO: Habeas porpoise. You responded in droves to our story about a grave dug by medieval monks in which a porpoise carcass was mysteriously buried. And if puns were a crime, you are the porpo-trators.
JD: And…Treasure island. In a tiny Irish community, someone has won the equivalent of more than $700,000 in the lottery. So far no one on Bere Island knows who it is. As It Happens the Thursday edition. Radio that guesses everyone there lives on a simple thoroughfare, but one person is living on easy street.
[Music: Theme]Back To Top »
Part 1: Maria: Dominica, baseball injury, lottery island
Guest: Jael Joseph
JD: On Monday night the full force of the Category 5 Hurricane Maria slammed into Dominique. Since then the Caribbean island has been cut off from the world. The only glimpse into the extent of its devastation has been video taken from planes flying overhead, showing what looks like a war zone. Debris is everywhere, homes are torn apart today. Today finally, some people on the island managed to make contact with the outside Jael Joseph is a Dominican-Canadian who has been visiting the island from Ontario. We reached her in Dominica.
CO: Jael, how are you?
JAEL JOSEPH: I'm actually kind of terrified because we've had to try to extend our rations as much as possible, because there's very, very little food going around. There's very little water. When I say water in terms of drinking, water I cannot drink the river water, I get extremely sick. I'm expecting right now, and I drank the water yesterday, and I was sick all night.
CO: Jael, you say rations, that you're rationing the food. What do you have in the way of food?
JJ: Right now we have quite a bit of canned food that we collected before the storm but that is pretty much it. And we’re in a house with five of us in the house — three adults and two kids. And that will probably only take us until this weekend. We have zero drinking water left, and we've been told that there are rations in terms of the British troops, as well as a group from Trinidad and Barbados, who are on their way here to bring water. But Carol, the thing about it is that way things have been going on, there's a lot of uncertainty as to if you will get, or if it will actually get to you. Because I’ve witnessed a lot of the looting going on among persons going to stores and taking things off the shelves, and they’ve resorted to using machetes and people have become very violent and looking out for themselves. So when these rations do come in, there's no way of knowing if we're actually going to get anything.
CO: You've actually seen some of these looters with the machetes out there?
JJ: Yes, we witnessed it first-hand. My youngest sister is in England and she was on with us out throughout the storm until we got disconnected. And because I'm also in radio I said, let me see if I can get to the nearest radio station. Send her a message, and she knows how I am, to let her know that we're OK, that we survived the storm. And walking through the city you saw people carrying stuff, bags of stuff. When I tell you bags, and bags of stuff. And then one store owner decided to open up his store so people could come in and purchase stuff, and his security guard got cut in the arm. A police officer was also attacked — so people are getting vicious. They want to get the food, I mean, they want to get it for their family, and a lot of people have lost their homes. And right now it's survival like survival of the fittest.
CO: Jael, what kind of shelter do you and the others who are with you have at this point?
JJ: Well, we have a concrete roof so we're able to survive under the concrete roof, thankfully. But from where I am I could see people's homes, and their homes are completely destroyed. The contents of the living room we were in — the storm actually sucked every single thing out of the living room. There's nothing in the living room except water. Everything was sucked out because the storm broke through the doors and took everything with it. I thought I was going to die because we were all stuck in one room, and the only thing that was preventing the storm from coming into that room was my sister was behind the door and holding down the door with a chair, and anchoring against a closet. It was just absolutely crazy — I saw death that night.
CO: You saw your own death?
JJ: I did, absolutely, and it was terrifying. It's scary to even close your eyes because you don't know what's going to happen, you're still thinking —when you close your eyes you hear the howling of the winds. It sounded like a pack of wolves.
CO: It must have been just horrifying for you and the others.
JJ: It was, it was. My son is absolutely traumatized by it, he will not sleep alone. He lodges himself in between the two of us. He’s five and he just keeps asking, “Is another storm coming? Is another one coming?” Up until today he was asking us is there going to be a storm. My niece is here with us as well, she was just terrified, just absolutely terrified.
CO: And you said you went for that walk to see if what you could get to, to see if you can get to the radio station. When it when you weren't walking around in Dominica — what did you see? What does it look like?
JJ: Everything is down, there are poles in the roads, there are people without roofs, there's a lot of dirt and debris. You could see people's homes completely gutted out, it’s very, very sad. People are on the streets, they’re roaming the streets. We went to the river this morning, and people were in the river because they're trying to clean out whatever is left of their homes. I was talking to a lady who was in the river, and she was actually saying to me that she lost everything. The entire contents of her house is under mud, and her boyfriend had to literally go in and dig out clothes so that she could come to the river to wash so that she could have something to put on her kid’s back. People are alive, but no one can predict what will happen tomorrow. The worst part is what happened with the hospital as well. People aren’t able to get medical attention as they require.
CO: And we're sort of losing the line, and you're describing what's happened at the hospital, which as we understand the roof of the hospital is also gone. So people even if they can get the attention they haven't got a roof over their heads.
JJ: Most of the roof of the hospital is gone, but I have an aunt and uncle there, who are also Canadian, and my uncle he's on dialysis, and he's going to need his medication soon. And we're just absolutely worried that something's going to happen.
CO: Jael I'm so sorry. You and your son are you're trying to get back to Canada? What are the chances that you'll be able to get out of there?
JJ: Well, I have no idea because the last we heard the Prime Minister informed the country that commercial flights are not allowed to Dominica as of yet. So we have considered possibly going out by sea, but that's another issue because of the swells of the sea, including the amount of logs and debris on the ocean. I don't know it's crazy because I don't we’ll have water and food to survive the weekend. We're just really trying to get out of Dominica right now, that is my main, main, main concern.
CO: All right, I really hope the aid gets to you soon, and that you have what you need come this weekend Jael. I really appreciate you talking to us. Thank you.
JJ: Thank you. Thank you very much for connecting with me.
JD: We reached jail Joseph Dominique to see some pictures and video from Dominica go to our website: www.cbc.ca/aih
[Music: Piano & Guitar]
Guest: Rafael Espinal
JD: There was the crack of the baseball hitting the bat and then this terrible sound.
ANNOUNCER: Look out, oh my goodness. That was scary, it was absolutely laced. Now they're going to get help for the person that was struck by the baseball. A little too graphic for us to show you. That says it all as far as Frazier.
JD: Todd Frazier is the New York Yankee who hit that ball — a foul ball traveling nearly 170 kilometres per hour. He was visibly shaken and distressed when he realized that the ball had hit a little girl in the face. She was rushed to the hospital. After the game Mr. Frazier said that he wants more protective netting at Yankee Stadium, and New York City Councillor Rafael Espinal agrees. He has introduced legislation that would require all New York City baseball stadiums to have protective netting out to the foul poles. We reached Councillor Espinal in New York.
CO: Councillor Espinal, first of all, are there any updates as to how the little girl who got hit last night is doing?
COUNCILLOR RAFAEL ESPINAL: Well, according to the reports that I've been seeing on the television about little girl is OK, and she didn't sustain any serious injuries.
CO: That ball was going 105 miles per hour, is that right?
RE: That's correct. And I think that every time that when these players hit a foul ball going that fast the out into the stands it really poses a threat and a risk to any fan that's sitting out in the stands. There's been a lot of cases where those balls have caused serious damage. I've heard stories of people fracturing their eye socket and getting expensive surgery. I've heard of stories of people having their nose broken, their jaw broken. And unfortunately a few years ago a line drive going down that fast actually killed a third base coach that wasn't wearing a protective helmet. So the dangers are real, and we have to make sure that our fans are protected when they decide to go and watch a baseball game.
CO: And this little girl, The New York Times is quoting someone who says that she was hit in the eye in the nose with that ball.
RE: I believe that that's what happened, but I believe that it wasn't to where she sustained a serious injury that could affect her for life.
CO: What do you think has to be done to protect people who are watching ballgames?
RE: A dozen or so teams already have taken the liberty to extend their netting past the dugouts. Currently there is netting that exists behind home plate, so people sitting right behind the baseball players are protected. And the meeting goes about 70 feet so right at the first baseline. So what we're proposing is for the netting to go beyond 70 feet, go beyond the dugouts to a point where these screaming foul balls are not able to approach the fans. This is not saying that the fans would not have the experience of catching a foul ball, you'll still be able to catch the pop ups that go over the netting, but you would not be at risk of a foul ball going at you at 105 miles per hour.
CO: It was described by some as a screaming line drive. So how far up would it go? To what extent would fans be protected from balls like that if there was this kind of netting.
RE: The netting goes, I believe, as high as 90 feet I don't have the right numbers, but it goes high enough where foul balls cannot get out into the stands at that speed. It also goes far out into the field. The way the Mets have it, it's halfway up to the foul pole line. So a large portion, if not all of those that are risk of getting hit by a screaming foul ball, would not have to face that threat.
CO: You mentioned there are other baseball stadiums in the U.S. who have this kind of netting, so what is the delay in New York?
RE: I think that there's concern about the netting interfering with fan experience. But the reality is that the technology at this point, is at a point where the netting is barely visible — 99 per cent invisible to the human eye — and it doesn't interfere with how you view and enjoy the game. And also I believe that before viewer experience, I think what's most important is safety. Fortunately the injuries weren't as bad as it possibly could have been.
CO: But I guess there's a couple of remarks from the management of the Yankees who are saying that they have fans who are communicating to them that they're upset that they're even considering putting up this kind of netting, that it would diminish the quality of watching the game, and some of the most expensive seats I would imagine, are in those areas.
RE: I was very sensitive to that conversation as well, as a baseball fan and as someone who loves to go to the stadium. But I would say this, the most expensive seat in the stadium are right behind home plate, and since the beginning of time they've had netting placed there. So I don't believe that a few complaints should drive the conversation on a stadium not wanting to extend the netting up past a certain point. Also the Mets communicated to me recently that to this day, after they extended the netting about two months ago, they have not received one complaint from the season ticket holders, because of the netting is, again, barely visible, if not invisible.
CO: You could see last night after this happened that the players themselves were visibly shaken by it, and you saw Brian Dozier of the Minnesota Twins was in tears when he saw that the girl had been hit, and he's actually said every stadium needs to have nets I don't care about the damn view of the fan he said. But can the players themselves put some pressure on this because they're the ones who hit the balls that strike the fans, so can they do anything and leverage that at all?
CE: Yeah, I would say this. When we go to a game, we follow a team, we go to support them and hoping that they'll win the game. But it makes it much more difficult when at bat and you're concerned whether or not the ball you hit will end up hurting someone out in the stands. So the players do have an opportunity to speak up, and they have been, and I commend them for that. And also they their player’s association, their union could also bring the conversation to the table, which I believe they also brought out to the forefront. So I think it's a matter of time before a real serious conversation happens, but I do hope that happens before someone gets hurt or even possibly gets hit by a ball that becomes fatal.
CO: We heard last night during the broadcast the remark was that this is too graphic to show you what happened to this little girl. Do you think that an incident like that at Yankee Stadium will go a long way to push the proposals that you're having?
CE: I believe so. The New York Yankees are at the centre of baseball and they have been for decades. And to have a young girl at that age get hit, I think it will make anyone think twice about whether or not netting should be extended at ballfields.
CO: All right we'll be watching. Councillor Espinal, thank you.
CE: Thank you.
JD: We reached New York City Councillor Rafael Espinal in New York, and we have posted more on that story on our website: www.cbc.ca/aih
[Music: Acoustic Guitar]
Guest: Ansley Barnard
JD: Mary Murphy has never received this much attention. Ms. Murphy is from a small Irish Island. It is called Bere Island, it is part of County Cork. The population of Bere Island is one-hundred-and-eighty souls according to the BBC, and for about four decades. Ms. Murphy has worked at the local post office and that indeed is where we reached her today.
CO: Mary what's it been like at the post office today?
MARY MURPHY: It's been crazy paper. Well it started yesterday after word came through that I had sold the winning tickets and people are texting me and ringing me all over the world.
CO: And what are they asking you?
MM: They all want to know who won it — who did I sell it to. I don't know. I know I can’t say, I'm not allowed by the lottery. The person has to claim the money up in Dublin. They actually won five hundred thousand euros.
CO: No one has claimed it?
MM: Nobody has claimed it yet, but they won’t do it with me, they’ll have to do it in Dublin at the lotto headquarters.
CO: Now you were the one who sold it, but do you know if it's really somebody in your community who bought it?
MM: I can't say, I can't say anything. I'm not allowed.
MM: I know everybody wants to know, and they all think I know but I'm not allowed to say. It's part of being with the National Lottery, I'm not allowed to say anything.
CO: Have the people from the National Lottery been visiting your shop?
MM: They came this morning. We have all the posters and the placards, we've all the bunting, we’ve got everything up.
CO: OK. And you have that up for what? What are you trying to do?
MM: They brought down champagne to celebrate the victory. So they opened champagne here and the children from the school children came over to say hello to us as well while they were here. We’ve had a great time here today.
CO: OK, they're having a celebration but no one has claimed the ticket.
MM: Nobody has claimed the ticket.
MM: We’re celebrating the fact that I sold the winning ticket.
CO: OK so they popped the champagne for you?
MM: I'm the first post office on an island to sell any winning tickets for the lottery.
MM: It's been won all around Ireland you know, but I'm the first actual place on an island to sell a winning ticket.
CO: OK. Now I know you can't betray anything, but is it possible that it’s somebody from off island who bought the ticket could do it?
MM: I had visitors here on Monday, I had people here Monday so there was people in — it could be.
CO: Do you know what day the ticket was sold?
MM: It was Monday, last Monday.
CO: So you know everybody who bought a ticket roughly on Monday?
MM: Look, I really, you know, it's just it's confidential, that’s all.
CO: But Mary you know people listening to this — anyone who has seen a very famous movie called Waking Ned Devine.
MM: I thought this morning, I've been telling it all day.
CO: And do you remember that in that movie there's a very small Irish village called Tulaigh Mhór, and the Post Mistress reveals who bought tickets.
MM: Yeah, I can't do that. You keep asking me, all of you are asking me but I can’t.
CO: She did, but you're not going to.
MM: Oh no, nope — can't.
CO: But people are trying to get you to do that, is that right?
MM: Oh they are, and they’re speculating about who was here or who wasn't. And they told me they could check my CTV, and I said, “Nobody is doing anything,” I said. It would be lovely if someone from Bere Island won it, and whoever has won it, I wish them the best of luck.
CO: If it is somebody in Bere Island who won, how far will 500,000 Euros go in your community?
MM: Well I was going to be watching out to see if anybody's getting anything new. We’ll just have to wait and see.
CO: So people are going to be watching to see if anybody is suddenly driving a flashy in the car?
MM: Yes, yes. So far nobody has claimed it, so you know, we just have to wait and see.
CO: But is it possible for someone to claim it and not go public?
MM: Yes they could do that.
CO: So sometimes they protect the identity of people.
MM: Yes they will protect the identity unless the people want it publicized. At the moment we're not supposed to, it’s private.
CO: If people in Bere Island will go crazy trying to find out who it is.
MM: They’re going nuts, absolutely! They’re all asking and they all think I know, but I can't say anything. I can't tell who was in here on Monday buying things. It's just private.
CO: Just tell me this, if the person who bought the ticket doesn't go public — we never know — will you know?
MM: No, no, no, no.
CO: So you won’t know anything?
MM: No, no, it’s up to the National Lottery in Dublin.
CO: Mary, is it driving you crazy that people are after you for this?
MM: Yes, but look that's the way it is. There are the rules and we must abide by them.
CO: But you're still drinking the champagne?
MM: Well I don't drink you see, I had water in my glass, but the rest of the people were all having champagne.
CO: And was it pretty exciting?
MM: It was crazy, it was absolute crazy. The man sprayed us with champagne over our heads outside the door here.
CO: So you're wearing champagne but not drinking it?
MM: Yeah, yeah. I had to put up my glass, and I had my glass up, but there was water in it.
CO: Well Mary.
MM: I'm going for a nice strong cup of tea now, that's what I like.
CO: OK. Well, we'll leave you to have your tea.
MM: Thank you for all your kindness and for all the good wishes from everybody.
CO: You too Mary. Thanks so much.
MM: Thank you so much. Bye, bye.
JD: I'll have Mary’s champagne. That was Mary Murphy, we reached her at her post office on Ireland's Bere Island. A winning lottery ticket was purchased there earlier this week, and if you'd like to see some photographs of the celebrations Ms. Murphy mentioned, visit our website: www.cbc.ca/aih
[Music: Upbeat Fiddle]
JD: Last year scientists did a study on dogs and human language. They put 13 dogs in an MRI machine, not at the same time, and scanned their brains while their trainers spoke to them. They found that all the dogs use the same parts of their brains humans do to interpret language — the Left hemisphere to process the words, right hemisphere to review the intonation. Conclusion: That dogs can understand human speech, in a way. And that's fine, as far as it goes, but we all agree it doesn't go far enough. We know what dogs brains are doing when they perform certain behaviors, but we don't know what human brains are doing when they study dogs as they perform certain behaviors. Oh yes, we do actually. Because researchers at Ghent University in Belgium have just published a study entitled Brain Regions Involved in Observing and Trying to Interpret Dog Behaviour. It points out that much research has been done on what parts of our brains are firing when we try to make sense of the behavior of other humans, but quote, “Surprisingly little is known of whether we use the same brain regions to mentalize about animal behavior.” Well guess what? We do use those same brain regions when we're mentalizing about animal behavior, and the study finds those regions are quote, “more engaged when we're trying to figure out what the heck a dog is doing, than when we're watching a dog do something obvious like chew a bone or sit motionless in an MRI.” I look forward now to the study of what brain regions are engaged when humans try to interpret the behavior of humans, analyzing the brains of humans, interpreting the behavior of dogs.Back To Top »
Part 2: Mexico school, Ryanair pilots
Guest: Daniel Gallo
JD: It has been two days since the earthquake hit Mexico City bringing down, along with scores of other structures, an elementary school — and still the rescue and recovery mission continues. It is not clear if anyone is still alive. Overnight there were reports that a child was still conscious under the rubble, but this afternoon Mexico's Navy announced that there are no missing children left at the school, and that the possible trapped survivor is an adult. 11 children were rescued alive after the quake, 19 children and six adults died. When the school collapsed hundreds of people rushed to help remove debris. Daniel Gallo was one of them and he was there until 4:00 a.m. today. We reached Mr. Gallo in Mexico City.
CO: Daniel, I know it's been an exhausting few days, and just tell us how you are right now?
DANIEL GALLO: Well, honestly I'm doing what a lot of people are doing. I talked to my friends — what we do as we head into action as much as we can, and as soon as we are so exhausted we just head back home, and then sleep, and not really think about what's going on and then head back and help again. We're kind of putting our emotions aside because we don't to confront that too much.
CO: Just go back to the elementary school that collapsed, and you were there until early this morning. What did you try to do there? What were you trying to help people do?
DG: On the first day when it happened I was at the university, and a couple of bridges collapsed. I was there for 16 hours trying to pull out bodies and getting some sort of a crash course in how to deal with this kind of situation. And then the second day I just heard about the kids, and we headed over the elementary school, and we have a couple of contacts with people that have heavy machinery, hydraulics, and cranes and things of that sort. That's where we were collaborating in that sense. And also you know human power just handing back and forth the shovels.
CO: And so at the school you were trying to clear the rubble away, and there are a lot of people, a lot of the children didn't make it, a lot of the adults didn't make it either. Were you able to rescue anyone in the time that you were there?
DG: I personally didn't rescue anybody. I did see some of the deceased bodies and all that, it’s always very saddening. I could only think of the rest of the city, the rest of the country, all the people who are suffering.
CO: We're the parents of the children there at the school when you were working?
DG: No the parents were kept in a different place. I think it was a strategic idea because we were all very focused, and everybody had a task, and I think bringing in parents keeping, them close would have caused a panic attack or some sort of factor that would disrupt the focus on rescuing — and understandably, because it's a very shocking situation. I did see the neighbours and some of the teachers, and even the owner of the school he was in absolute shock.
CO: And there were also, I understand that they were asking for quiet, to not make any noise because they were intensely listening for any kind of sound, any signal that people in the rubble were sending. Is that right?
DG: Yes, that's correct. Every time they would bring their fist up that would be the signal for total silence — everybody. We would turn off the generators, because it was night time, we would turn off the generators, we would turn off all the cranes, the machinery, the trailers. And as soon as that happened the rescue brigade would go inside and yell, and use the microphones, and use the thermal cameras, anything in the power to talk to the apparent survivors.
CO: And there was last night, there was what appeared to be someone who was alive in the rubble. They found a hand and the hand moved. What do you what can you tell us about that moment?
DG: At that point it was 2:00-3:00 in the morning, and I was still there, and we were all just waiting and hoping, and I think what happened, to be honest, is everybody was hoping so much that there was a survivor, that maybe somebody miscommunicated, and what appeared to be a sound then became a certain noise, or certain scream, or something else. And to be honest, the Mexican news media they kind of created this bubble where there was there was a survivor and it just became the perfect drama for them. So this is what really hurts me right now.
CO: There were some really, as you pointed, out there were some things that weren't true, that were going around as stories, but we do have confirmation today the Assistant Navy Secretary is saying that there does seem to be one person who may still be alive, but not a student, not a child, a school worker — all the children dead and alive have been accounted for.
DG: Yes, Yes. I mean I hope they bring the person out alive.
CO: Now you're not at the school anymore, you've gone on to do other tasks. Why did you leave the school and what have you decided to do now?
DG: To be honest, I did as much as I could, honestly I did as much as I could on all sorts of different areas. At some point I was just sitting there, and I felt like I was a spectator. And I I'd rather just go back home and refill my energy, refuel myself, and get back into trying to help again. Because the experts are already there, the people that have done this for decades, they're the ones who operate that. It was not the time for me to be there anymore. There were no need for shovels, or for moving around stuff, as much as I wanted to help, the military personnel took over, as they should.
CO: Where have you gone now? You're looking for other places that might need your assistance. What were you found out?
DG: Well, I went down and I found a place where we were loading a big truck full of food to take to Oaxaca. And right now I'm just on the CB radio waiting to see what's the next place where they need my help. What we didn't have in 1985, we're using social media and different apps, organizing and mobilizing.
CO: Daniel I'm so glad you and the other volunteers are there, it sounds like you are making a difference. I hope you get a rest soon, It sounds exhausting. I appreciate though you found some time to talk to us. Thank you.
DG: Thank you.
CO: Bye, bye
JD: Daniel Gallo helped remove debris from the site of an elementary school collapse after the earthquake in Mexico on Tuesday. We reached Daniel Gallo in Mexico City.
Listener response: porpoise mystery
JD: Last night we also told you about a mystery that is unfolding on a tiny island in the English Channel. It involves a dead porpoise — a very, very dead porpoise. It is believed to have been carefully buried by Benedictine monks in the 14th century. The problem is no one, not even the archaeologists who found the remains, have any clue whatsoever why these medieval monks went to all this trouble. So after our interview you shared your theories, and there are some good ones, on Twitter. Ginger Sparke thinks that these monks did it just to mess with our heads in the 21st century. Unvirtuous Abbey tweeted that they did it because the porpoise was their friend. Amos Worth claims it's because the porpoise was just lying around stinking up the place. And Vans Wesley goes big with this tweet quote, “I have no idea why, but I feel like this holds the secret to the universe,” unquote. Listen you might think it ended there. It did not, last night all of you cranked up the pun-o-meter to 11. So here is just a smattering of all the porpoise puns that we received, see we're not the only people guilty of this. Liam McKenna, “For a higher porpoise I'm sure.” Slim Dude, “Did they do it by accident or on porpoise? And Jonathan H. Gray quote, they dolphin-intely had a porpoise. There's more. James Harbeck went all Shakespeare quote, “Infirm of porpoise. Give me the daggers.” Andre Picard got all philosophical and asked quote, “Must every action have a porpoise? And finally, we are going to leave you with this gem by Douglas Hunter, he painted a scene for us about what might have transpired all those years ago. And Douglas Hunter tweeted quote, “Monk one: this monastery needs a porpoise. Monk two: nods heads to sea shore with a large sturdy net and a pail of fish.” Nicely done Mr. Hunter, also fairly plausible, except the monks you know, probably spoke Latin. In any case you can share all your puns on Twitter and Facebook at CBC as it happens. Or you can send us an e-mail: AIH@cbc.ca, or give us a call 416 205 5687.
[Music: 50’s Rock & Roll]
Guest: James Atkinson
JD: If you are booked to fly with Ryanair anytime in the next few weeks, maybe check their website. There's a good chance your 25 euro flight from London or Marseille has been cancelled. The airline's CEO Michael O'Leary, is blaming a mess up in scheduling pilot’s vacations, not everyone is convinced of that. James Atkinson is a former Ryanair pilot. We reached him in Rome.
CO: Mr. Atkinson, what was it like to be a pilot for Ryanair?
JAMES ATKINSON: In some ways it was a nice job. The routes were fun to fly, I flew all over Europe to many, many airports. It was a real pleasure to fly with the staff at Ryanair — A lot of young people starting out their careers. Unfortunately the airline treated people, the workers, pretty badly. It was a bit of a hostile work environment.
CO: Can you give us some examples of things that happened at Ryanair that were more negative?
JA: Well for instance, during my eight years at Ryanair I had two children born, and I was not allowed to have any extra leave, at all, for either child — for their birth or at the time after.
CO: A lot of companies are not good at that especially if you have to travel a lot. So how does it compare, your experience, with being a pilot in other airlines. How did your colleagues and other airlines fare?
JA: Well, that's a very good question because you see, before Ryanair I was actually a pilot for Aloha Airlines in Hawaii for 19 years, and this was a unionized airline, we were ALPA the Airline Pilots Association, we had a contract that was rather thick, and provided us with essentially a really good job. And it was it was collectively bargained, we would normally sign a five year contract. You had all of your bases covered, and you had a good job, and you could be productive. At Ryanair there is no collective bargaining allowed, period. The company simply will not discuss. All of the conditions are simply ramrodded to the employees.
CO: What kind of a contract? What's the nature of the contract with the company when you're a pilot for Ryanair?
JA: You see that's actually the issue, there is no a contract. There are probably a thousand different contracts out there. You've got 4,000 pilots and every other one has a different contract. Approximately half, and I think just over half, of the total pilots at Ryanair are not even employees, they're under what's known in Europe as “bogus self-employment.” This is where you're an independent service provider, is what they call you, and you even have your own company, but you're really an employee. It’s just a loophole, it's a way around employment law, is all it is.
CO: I understand that you were frequently out of pocket for expenses of traveling and trying to get on location for a for your flights.
JA: Absolutely. I was a contractor, I was not an employee, and yes you simply are not reimbursed for anything at all.
CO: So what do you make of all these cancelled flights that Ryanair has announced?
JA: I say it's about time. It was a long time coming. We've all been waiting for this. I frankly don't see how it didn't happen earlier.
CO: Sorry what happened?
JA: Well, the thing is you see, so many pilots begin their careers at Ryanair or pass through Ryanair somewhere in their career, there's this constant inflow of pilots and this constant outflow of pilots. It's like a river, it comes in and goes out. And I'm very surprised it took this long to reach this crisis point where fewer pilots are coming in than those going out, that's essentially what's happened.
CO: The CEO Michael O'Leary of Ryanair, controversial figure as I’m sure you know, he says these cancellations are — this was a big mistake he's taking responsibility, he says, “It’s my fault, this is a problem with booking vacations for pilots. It was a scheduling issue and it will all be fixed and won't happen again.” What do you say to Mr. O'Leary?
JA: He's a pathological liar is what I say. That's essentially Michael O'Leary in a nutshell. It's not true, it's simply not true. You can allow pilots to take holidays if you have enough pilots. He's not willing to come forth and tell the truth. The truth is Ryanair has a pilot shortage.
CO: You claim it's been bleeding pilots, they that can't keep them.
JA: Well, according to the Irish Airline Pilots Association — they keep pretty good tabs on Ryanair, they do not represent any Ryanair pilots of course, but they keep tabs on them — according to them 700 pilots, approximately 700 have actually quit in the last fiscal year at Ryanair.
CO: But I mean it sounds like a lot, but is the is the movement from airline to airline, do pilots in large numbers move around between the different companies?
JA: Not normally. See that's where Ryanair has invented sort of a different model for pilots. They really don't want you to stay that long. I was an old timer with eight years of the company, a typical person does five or six years maximum and leaves. So there is this inflow-outflow, and that's kind of how they want it. That's also a tactic for keeping people from unionizing. People who stick around for a long time become more amenable to unionizing. People who don't plan to stick around just to get some experience and leave they, tend not to unionize.
CO: But how do you know that Michael O'Leary is lying about this? What's your evidence that the reason why these flights were canceled because they don't have the pilots?
JA: It's very simply, that if you have appropriate staffing you can let some people take leave here and there. They didn't accidentally approve holidays for half the pilots all at once. He's using it as an excuse. I happen to have a lot of friends at Ryanair, I'm very involved in what's going on right now. I talk to people all day. There is a staffing issue, yes.
CO: I understand from what you've written you're saying that you think that Ryanair would benefit from having a union and having a collective bargaining ability on the part of its pilots, but Michael O'Leary makes it very clear he's never going to do that. So what are the chances that that will ever be accomplished?
JA: Well, what's happening right now, if kindness doesn't work you use force, and this is what's actually building right now. I'm observing it very closely. I'm communicating with a lot of people. The pilots are in the process, as we speak, of figuring out the best way to essentially use force to possibly do a wildcat strike, possibly a sick out. But they want Michael O’Leary backed up against the wall, and they want to make it clear the game is over. You're going to recognize the union.
CO: All right well maybe all this will right itself. Mr. Atkinson, thank you.
JA: OK thank you.
JD: Former Ryanair pilot James Atkinson spoke to us from Rome.
[Music: Trance Bass]Back To Top »
Part 3: Sri Lanka baby farms, frog mating calls
JD: When a producer on the program came to me and said that I would be the absolute best person on As It Happens to talk about this story on the radio. I was like, “But I hate the sound of my own voice right. I can't understand why so many people are constantly telling me how much they love it,” and she just kind of said, “Well yeah, yeah well you're the host, so,” and then she just kind of walked away. Look I'm no big deal OK, but I guess she was just kind of overwhelmed by my quote unquote “presence.” It happens so often you think that I be used to it by now. In any case the subject of the story is a study on “humblebragging.” So ever since this term was coined by the late comedy writer Harris Wittels we've noticed it everywhere, especially on social media, and especially from stars feigning modesty while showing off. The idea seems to be that whoever reads your post is going to be impressed by both your fake humility and your actual posting. But according to a recent study that is not the case — like not at all. In the study, which is called Humblebragging: A Distinct – and Ineffective – Self-Presentation Strategy, published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the authors take a closer look at the tactic and they distinguish two kinds of humblebragging. There is complaint based and humility based. Complaint based would be, “my feet hurt from wearing these thousand-dollar cowboy boots on the red carpet.” Humility based would be, “In sweat pants eating pizza. If the editors of people could see me now they'd take me off their most beautiful people list.” Well guess what? Neither kind works. According to the study quote, “despite the belief that combining bragging with complaining or humility confers the benefits of each strategy, We find that humble bragging confers the benefits of neither. Instead backfiring because it is seen as insincere,” unquote. Luckily that is not my thing. I mean, my limo driver once told me that I'd be great at humblebragging, but I'm sure I'd mess it up somehow if I tried.
[Music: 90s Pop]
Sri Lanka baby farms
Guest: Norbert Reinjens
JD: The rumors about baby farms in Sri Lanka were always assumed to be just that. But today there was confirmation from Sri Lankan authorities, for the first time, that those shocking rumors were actually true. In a documentary released today, the country's health minister admits that up to 11,000 Sri Lankan children may have been sold to European families in the 1980s using falsified documents, and that many of these children were born at places known as quote “baby farms.” The documentary was produced by Dutch current affairs program Zembla. Norbert Reinjens was one of the researchers. We reached Mr. Heineken's in Bussum, Netherlands.
CO: Norbert, as you know there have been rumors about these adoptions for many years. Why has it taken so long for the details to finally emerge.?
NORBERT REINJENS: Well, that's a good question. We believe that after we looked into it, we came and took into contact with many adoptees from Sri Lanka, and they all presented us their adoption papers, and so we could see in what way these papers had been falsified and are containing so many mistakes. And then we came into Sri Lanka this summer, we presented all our findings to the minister of health over there, and then he just acknowledged the existence of the so-called baby farms.
CO: Which is just extraordinary. You’ve issued a press release about it, that's Sri Lanka now admits to this story, and admits there were baby farms, where babies were produced for adoption. So when you finally got the government to admit that what did you think?
NR: We never saw any proof, any evidence of the existence of baby farms, we only heard the stories about it. Stories like there had been baby farms in the 80s, people got arrested for their crimes but never had been convicted, so it never had been confirmed. And the minister was probably overwhelmed by our findings, and just acknowledged that the problem for his country was the existence of these baby farms, which also was, as he told us, the main reason to suspend the whole process of inter-country adoption for quite a while in the late 80s.
CO: And so just describe what you learned about these baby farms — what they are and how did they operate?
NR: What we've been told is that young people were brought over there to literally produce babies, to get them pregnant and give birth to a baby for the purpose of adoption. But also babies were gathered from other places, hospitals for instance, and put to these baby farms as a kind of a distribution centre from where these babies were distributed to Europe for instance.
CO: And we’re talking, and it is quite shocking, 11,000 Sri Lankan children sold to European families through this system and false documents in the 1980s.
NR: 4,000 of them have been adopted to the Netherlands. And what we see is that many of these children adopted, to at least the Netherlands, are in the possession of these falsified papers, and also by the way, travel documents. We saw passports, which were adjusted with a pencil, where birth dates were corrected.
CO: And when you spoke to the parents who adopted these babies what did they tell you? Did they ever have their suspicions?
NR: Some of them had, some of them don't. In our documentary there’s quite a shocking example. We found a letter coming from the adoption organization here in the Netherlands written to an employee in Sri Lanka stating that adoption parents here in the Netherlands wanted to have a twin, and there was a twin available, but unfortunately one of these children was ill and eventually died. There was another child coming from well, no one knows, who's been given the name of the dead child, and in that way presented with the still existing child from the twin, to the adopting parents with, and that's important, with the consent of these adopting parents. So they knew that these children that they got weren't in fact real twins.
CO: Do you think that a lot of people who are adopting babies wanted them so badly that they were willing to overlook things or to ignore warning signs?
NR: Yes. It's a very sensitive topic this, and I believe their feelings are very genuine. These people really wanted to have a child of their own, so they wanted to have a child who maybe had not a future in his own country. But I do believe that in that period the need of the parents was more important than the interests of the child, so to speak.
CO: Some of these children who are trying to find out — to track down who their mothers were — what has been their experience and their findings?
NR: Well, that's quite remarkable, quite shocking even. These people are traveling to Sri Lanka with their adoption papers, with their birth certificates, which is their only information for them of their biological parents, and they visit Sri Lanka and meet those alleged parents. They check their DNA, they're looking for matches. Then it appeared that these people are not their real biological parents.
CO: They we're just pretending —these women were pretending to be their mothers?
NR: Right, that's what they call the so-called “acting mothers.”
CO: And what was in it for them what was the incentive for these women to pretend that they were the mothers of the babies who are being adopted?
NR: Apparently money, as one of these women told us herself. This is a woman who actually gave one of her own children away for adoption, but was also asked to give someone else's child away. And she received 2,000 rupee for this, and 2,000 rupees now is only 10 euros.
CO: Were the adoptee's able to find their real mothers, and if they did what were the reactions?
NR: Well, actually we followed three of them visiting Sri Lanka and looking for their relatives, and two of them found their mothers. But both of these women are very disappointed that they are their real mothers because they visited these women before, and they've never built a strong relation with him. There is no relation actually, it's all about money, what these women ask of their children. These women do not really remember who these children are, not when they have been born, not what they were wearing when they were given away. So it's all quite disappointing that these daughters found their real mothers but do not have the feelings that belong with it.
CO: Is the government of Sri Lanka going to try and help some of these people who want to, to find out who the real mothers were just to know a bit more about their families and what happened?
NR: That's what the Minister of Health told us. He intends to set up a DNA bank where mothers who are searching for their children in Sri Lanka can match their DNA with children abroad.
CO: Norbert it is a fascinating and disturbing story and I appreciate you telling us about it.
NR: OK. It's a pleasure Carol.
CO: Good night.
NR: Good night.
JD: Norbert Reinjens is a researcher for the Dutch current affairs program Zembla. We reached him in Bussum, Netherlands.
[Music: Laidback Rock]
Community mailbox guy
JD: David Joyce lives in a very beautiful part of the world up Benoit’s Cove on the west coast of Newfoundland. Recently though he has had to get used to a new and less beautiful view from his home. A few years ago Canada Post installed a row of four large community mailboxes right outside. This is the same type of community mailboxes that seem to cause a furor wherever they are installed. And David Joyce says the mailboxes are not just affecting the vista, they are affecting traffic near
his front yard, and making it very difficult to sell his house. CBC Radio’s is Colleen Connors met up with Mr. Joyce on his front steps where the offending community mailboxes were in full view.
DAVID JOYCE: Originally there was only one little mail box there in the corner lane, and eventually Canada Post came and put the two more boxes and took little one out of it. And then in the last five or six years after I had all those boxes, and they're talking about right now like replacing more boxes. They're a hazard, we can't get in and out of our driveway. That's dangerous because cars come back and forth. My daughter — I had a new car for my daughter —somebody came and rearended that. My truck’s been run into a curb, and run into. There have been several a minor accidents and a lot of close calls. A while ago a lady got out to go the mail, a little, small dog ran out into the road and he got killed. You got the fire hydrant right there, right tightt to the mailbox.
COLLEEN CONNORS: Yeah it's right next to the mailbox.
DJ: Getting in and out, more times we’ll come and everything ns blocked off, we got to wait for them to get their mail and get in.
CC: There's so many vehicles sometimes it's like a parking lot you can't get in your own driveway.
And there was no problem like two or three o'clock in the morning, like people coming and getting mail.
CC: Even that five minutes that you and I have been standing here it’s a constant come and go of people hey?
DJ: Sometimes there’s a line here you know.
It’s nothing strange to see a dozen cars all at one time, and sometimes they’re double parked even on the pavement so.
CC: Not much, not much quiet here hey?
DJ: There’s not.
JD: That was David Joyce, resident of Benoit’s Cove on the west coast of Newfoundland, speaking with CBC Radio's Colleen Connors.
[Music: Ambient Strings]
Lillian Ross obit
JD: In her long and storied career at The New Yorker magazine, it was the short pieces that Lillian Ross loved writing best. The often funny, human interest pieces that open each issue under the banner “Talk Of The Town.” And they were, in fact, how she opened her seven-decade stint at the magazine back in 1945. Then came a profile on Hemingway, and picture about the making of John Huston’s The Red Badge of Courage, which explored the non-fiction novel format nearly a decade before Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood was published. And in amongst, and after the many books and the feature stories that followed, Ms. Ross returned to those Talk Of The Town pieces time and time again. Lillian Ross died yesterday. She was 99 years old, and she was still writing for The New Yorker well into her 90s. In the magazine's obituary for Ms Ross, her colleague Rebecca Meade describes a profile that she wrote in her late 70s about a group of 10th grade private school girls from the Upper East Side, and Ms. Meade writes quote, “Ross always had an ear for the weird rhythms of spoken English, and she captured their profanity laced, world weary, sublimely innocent conversation in a notebook. She didn't believe in using recorders for one of her best Talk Of The Town stories” unquote. Well, back in 2007 Ms. Ross spoke to WNYC host Leonard Lopate about her long tenure at the New Yorker, and why she particularly loved those Talk Of The Town pieces. Here's some of their conversation.
LILLIAN ROSS: What I started doing in the beginning is what I'm doing now, and with the same sense of fun that I had in the beginning, and that's why I was doing a Talk Of The Town story just last week, and I realized that I do go at it with the same sense that I had in the beginning. So what it is that I did at the New Yorker I think, was writing, was working at what I loved. And I had wonderful good fortune of working with marvelous, and exciting and inspiring writers and editors, and do to this day. And the form I love now and absolutely find a challenge, is to write a short piece — eight hundred to a thousand words — for the Talk Of The Town, because you really have to create a genuine piece of writing. And one, of course, that's all your own, and you can do it there at the New Yorker.
LEONARD LOPATE: That’s the equivalent of writing a short story as opposed to writing a novel isn't it — just getting everything packed in to that short piece?
LR: Two completely different forms, one isn’t in a shorter version of the other. They're both writing and the short form, which I find in the Talk Of The Town, is the most challenging of all.
JD: That was writer and journalist Lillian Ross speaking with WNYC Radio host Leonard Lopate back in 2007. Lillian Ross, a long time writer for The New Yorker, died yesterday. She was 99 years old.
[Music: Acoustic Guitar]
Frog mating calls
Guest: Felipe Toledo
JD: The purpose of a mating call is pretty straightforward, it's right there in the name. Animals call out to each other so they can find a mate. But what if your mate couldn't actually hear your meeting call, and you also couldn't hear your own mating call? Would you still do it? You probably wouldn't unless you're a pumpkin toadlet or a pitanga toad. Scientists have recently discovered those two species of toads are unable to hear each other's mating calls, but they keep on making them anyway. Felipe Toledo is co-author of a new study on these toads. He is a biologist at the University of Campinas in Brazil, and that is where we reached him
CO: Mr. Toledo, what kind of a sound of these frogs make?
FELIPE TOLEDO: They sound like small crickets in the forest floor.
CO: Now I just learned, this just in, we actually have sound of these frogs, I think we can play some tape of what these frogs sound like. Here’s mating call of these frogs.
CRICKET- LIKE SOUNDS
CO: All right yeah, crickets definitely. Can you identify which toad that one is?
FT: Oh yeah, that's the pumpkin frog that's the yellow one. It's a tiny, little frog that lives in the fourth floor here in Brazil.
CO: And what what is he communicating?
FT: That's a very good question just after our paper came out, because we generally think of these sounds as kind of an attraction for females, or repulsive for other males, but if they can't hear it doesn't mean anything anymore.
CO: OK so this is the frog, that sound we just heard is this pumpkin frog communicating a desire to find a partner. It's a love song, but it's a love song, she can't hear right?
FT: Yeah. That's a problem right there.
CO: Well so why does he do it?
FT: That's another very good question. We don't know maybe it's a by-product, for example visual communication, because some frogs use the movements of the vocal sacks as a visual communication in courtship. So maybe they're trying to these vocal sacks and calling is a by-product.
CO: OK so he's got the moves but the song doesn't do much. Did it ever, was there any evidence that that one time that love song worked on the females?
FT: No, we tried to do a playback experiment here in the laboratory, or even in that field, and females, or even other males, they just don't respond to the sounds.
CO: So have you ever seen this before where an animal has evolved and kept something like this, like this kind of a call or this vocalization, that doesn't mean anything anymore to any other frog?
FT: No, not even in other animals and other wildlife forms because it's completely new to science. It sounds like a great novelty.
CO: So what do you make of it? Why do you think it remained?
FT: Maybe we are capturing a transition between frogs that used to call and mute frogs because exists some species that are actually mute. They don't call in they use all the visual signals for example, to communicate, or other forms of communication. So maybe we are capturing this transition between frogs that have sounds to mute frogs.
CO: OK so he's just doing this because he's always done this, force of habit. But I mean, and it doesn't mean anything to her to make this sound, but isn't he attracting a lot of attention? I mean, isn't there isn't there some danger to him that he's still making these sounds that maybe predators could find him?
FT: Yes, that's a real danger, some predators can find it, some insects that bring parasites can find the frogs with that these sounds. And also, it's very expensive in terms of energy. They spend lots of energy calling in time.
CO: OK so this is potentially quite dangerous for him? He might be doing it because he's always done it but this might do him in?
FT: Yeah, but on the other hand they are very colourful, tiny frogs — I don’t know if have a picture — but they are brightly yellow or orange. And that's related to a very powerful toxin they have in their skin. So maybe this toxin and this vivid colouration can prevent them to from being preyed on by these all these enemies.
CO: OK so nobody wants to eat them?
FT: Yeah, maybe some spiders, but they don't have as many predators as other tasteful frogs have.
CO: They make a lot of noise, they're extremely brightly coloured as I can see in this photo, but they're not too tasty?
FT: No, no. It's very powerful — their poison. I would not want to eat one.
CO: Do you think that scientists like you in some, maybe a generation or just some years from now, looking at these frogs will find out that they've stopped making this noise?
FT: Wow, not at all in our lives. I think it's a long process that may take some thousands of years to happen, but maybe we can find other species that already reached this point where they don't call anymore. So we may find other frogs, we you just have to look carefully.
CO: Well I love the sound of frogs especially at night in the country. So I hope the other ones are still having some success with their love song.
FT: Oh yeah, but in spite of the fact that they don’t hear their own calls they are they are finding their mates.
CO: All right. Well that makes me happy Mr. Toledo, it's great to talk to you. Thank you.
FT: OK. Thank you.
CO: Bye, bye.
FT: Bye, bye.
JD: Felipe Toledo is a biologist at the University of Campinas in Brazil, and that is where we reached him.